Ketzest held three sets of tweezers one bucket, a smoothie, a paper fan, and a shovel with two tentacles. Each shovel full of dirt was sifted through, quickly and carefully plucking out the little voracious eaters.
"Stupid vermin." Ketzest grumbled. "How come you can kill off a kwineberry bush, but it was fine for you to exist with the brineberry bushes?" That was a good topic for their research project. Something they would have to complete if they wanted the government to give them a grant for their own greenhouses.
After sifting through the entire flowerbed, Ketzest brought the bucket over to the compost pile. Two hundred three larva. Which was less than the first flower bed they had debugged, the one full of dead kwineberry bushes.
“First hypothesis correct.” Ketzest put down the tweezers as they mumbled, writing down their most recent findings. Less bugs, better plants. It was obvious, too obvious. Which was why Ketzest needed to look deeper. Answering a less glaringly obvious question and Ketzest would get on the short list for government greenhouses.
Jatydid walked in, eye scanning the greenhouse. “How goes the debugging?”
“Only two flowerbeds left.”
“Great.” Jatydid waved their tentacles. “We’ll be a fully equipped kwineberry orchard in no time.” Jatydid started whistling. They too grabbed tools. “Which two?” Ketzest pointed and their mentor set to work.
Ketzest could say a lot, how their mentor sometimes explained things as if Ketzest hadn’t been studying agriculture and botany, how certain things were meticulously organized but the supply shed and the digital archive was a mess, but one thing Ketzest couldn’t complain about, was Jatydid worked as hard, or harder than they did.
“So…” Ketzest clicked their beak as they gathered words. “I think I know what I want to research. I want to know why, or how, these larva were able to coexist with the brineberries, but they are able to kill the kwineberry bushes with less than one hundred specimens per flower bed.”
“I believe that si a great question to pose.” Jatydid put their shovel into the dirt, leaning against it. “The problem I see, is how to grow new brineberry bushes. They don’t last much past maturity anymore, much less produce good food.”
“Oh.” Ketzest’s eye stalk drooped.
“But, I probably still have all my notes, including insect levels, recorded in the database. That’s years of numbers you can use as comparason. Might even have a few pictures for you.”
“Great.” Ketzest tried to sound enthusiastic, but the idea of digging through all the files on Jatydid’s database wasn’t exciting.
Jatydid laughed. “No worries, I’ll show you how to find what you need.”
“Thanks Jatydid.” Ketzest held up their three tweezers with squirming grubs. “I don’t think I could have asked for a better mentor.”
Word count: 465