Feeding the survivors and preparing to keep Qwortarians fed for years to come using the supplies Skylar and Leama had brought back. Scientists didn’t dare tinker the way Timosh had, instead relying on old ways to breathe new life into the few unaffected plants hidden in labs protected by disinfectant entrances.
Grafting plants together and then exposing the new seeds to the outside world. One of those new species grew well, though the taste of the rind and the skin on the inside added a small difficulty to consume it. It was nutrient rich though, so Qwortarians were dealing with the intense sour burst from even the smallest piece of skin or rind. Kwineberries quickly became a common fruit all over Qwortar.
Skylar had an idea on how to capitalize on this product of the successful Qwortar and Earth crossbreeding program. It was something they knew they couldn’t do alone, so they decided to introduce their friend Benti to a product they had enjoyed on Earth.
The container Skylar placed in front of Benti on the counter was full of a deep purple liquid from from a kwineberry, a cross between a kiwi and a brineberry.
“Humans drink this?” Benti trilled as they poked the glass, a couple bubbles floating to the surface. Their eye stalk bent over it, blinking down at it.
“Well, not kwineberry juice, but juices of their own fruits and vegetables.” Skylar waved Bent’s eye away. “You love kwineberries, you’ll love this.”
“The rinds though are hairy and scratchy.”
“Juice doesn’t use the rinds.”
“Then drink it and prove it.” Benti and Skylar both knew that when someone bit into a kwineberry rind, their skin around the beak involuntarily puckered.
“Fine.” Skylar bobbed forward, dunking their beak into the thin sweet liquid. Swallowing with a beak was much more difficult than drinking with a human mouth. So they shifted, exchanging their beak for a mouth with lips and a flexible tonge.
“That looks weird on your Qwortarian body.” Benti lifted their beak up, but while they started to turn their eye away, they didn’t actually stop watching Skylar.
“Oh shut up Benti.” Skylar took a drink, taste buds singing as the sweet and salty fluid flowed across their tongue. “It’s good. You should try it?”
“Wouldn’t it throw off our liquid balance?”
“Do you want to try it or not?”
Benti’s tentacle flashed out and swiped the glass from Skylar. Some juice splashed over the rim of the cup. Skylar watched as Benti also changed from a beak to more of a mammalian mouth, before pouring the liquid directly into their open maw. They took a couple swallows, the purple juice looking black inside their body.
“That’s pretty good.”
“All the flavor, but none of the scratchy feeling or sour taste from the rind!”
“This is why we should make juice and sell it!”
“Best business plan ever.” Benti grinned. “Now I’m glad the whole crossbreeding thing worked so well with the brineberry.”
Word count: 498