‘That’s ridiculous. Demi-humans can’t go to space.’
My tail bristled as I heard the same thing I’d heard for years repeated at me yet again, this time by the director of the National Human Space Agency. I grit my teeth for a moment before taking a breath and continuing, trying to stay polite and formal.
‘And what is your reasoning?’
The director looked me up and down. His old grey eyes stung like lasers, so I could feel his gaze brush past my best suit and look only at the maple colour of my fur, the length of my claws and teeth, and at my ears poking up on top of my head. I subconsciously pulled at the cuffs of my sleeve and waited for the same-old excuse.
‘It’s been developed for decades to safely accommodate humans. There isn’t enough research to send a demi-human, let alone enough resources.’
A smile tugged on my lips, and I saw him push back in his large, comfy leather seat as my canines revealed themselves. The advantages of being a fox demi-human were the teeth, and I narrowed my eyes for the full effect. It worked. He swallowed. But I smiled more and tried to look overly happy to try to rub it in that I hadn’t meant to intimidate him, that he was just weak and scared of a poor fluffy creature like me.
‘You know the first mammal that was sent to space was a monkey, right?’ I said, gesturing airily with my hand to force me to let go of my sleeve and to not look nervous. ‘Then a load of dogs. Besides, demi-humans have more stamina and resilience than humans. I’m sure having a demi-human space exploration team would increase the research output of the NHSA and open new paths that human explorers couldn’t take before.’
He opened his mouth to interrupt me, but I pressed on, knowing the next time he spoke he’d end the time I had to and close the meeting.
‘Additionally, it would increase the financial support you receive from organisations over the world and support from demi-human charities and citizens. At the moment, having humans only is closing your opportunities, but did you know 67% of the current population is demi-human, and you’re missing out on all that support and funding? Imagine how much sooner you could achieve your research goals if your financial input increased by that much and you had the specialised demi-human staff to help carry it out in quicker times.’
‘There has never been a demi-human in space, girl,’ he growled, leaning forward in his chair and glaring.
I suppressed a sigh. I knew it would be tough, but I didn’t think they’d be this narrow-minded that they’d not even try to listen. My life-long dreams of going to space were looking less and less likely, and with this organisation as it was, they didn’t even let demi-humans get onto the control deck, let alone in the shuttle. It was support jobs only. Would my only hope be to make my own space agency? But I didn’t have the support or funds for that, and it was true that there were things that only demi-humans could do that would increase the research and exploration capabilities of the space age.
He continued to stare at me as I tried to think of one last thing I could say to at least make him think once I was gone. Resisting the urge to brush back the hair that was tickling my cheek, thinking it a move that would make me look weak and feminine in the glare of this old codger, I opened my mouth to try one last thing. But I stopped as he spoke first. He put down the pen he’d been clutching, leant back in his chair, and gave a dismissive wave.
‘Arrange a time next month with my secretary and bring your best research and data. You have 30 minutes to persuade me.’
Then, he looked down and picked up his pen, signalling my time to leave.
My tail flicked as I stood in disbelief. Then it swished. I left the room grinning so wide the secretary paled as she saw my teeth and stammered as I hastily arranged that meeting before he could call me back in to tell me to cancel it.
I left the NHSA humming and already planning my attack. I’d tell him the financial figures of the estimated first 5 years of demi-human support, charity names and links he could contact to make it work, the benefits of snake-people for cold-climate exploration and for beast-folk for durability and strength. Most importantly, fox-folk for planning and leadership and, of course, persuasion.
There’s a reason they say foxes are sly, because if there is something we want more than anything, we’ll get it.
For that reason, I knew that my dream of going to space was going to finally become true.