Polaris AFB, Cafeteria, two months before the exodus
Eric: "Oh, hi Alban, haven't seen you in ages."
Alban: "Yeah, been stuck in the lab for weeks. Mind if I sit here?"
Eric: "Not at all."
Alban: "Thanks! What have you got there?"
Eric: "As if there was a choice. Seaweed something with seaweed and seaweed. Blergh."
Alban: "Don't complain, it's got all the vitamins you need!"
Eric: "Still tastes like ass. Thank god we're moving. I can't wait to be back on the continent."
Alban: "I don't get why everyone's so hell-bent on getting out of here."
Eric: "Are you kidding me? Because all that's out here is ice and snow, and we got nothing to eat but three varieties of green sludge! It's depressing!"
Alban: "And what do you think Alpha-2 is? Paradise?"
Eric: "At least it's where everyone else is. And I've heard they've got real greenhouses. That means, real veggies! Not this engineered ... crap."
Eric throws his spoon into his bowl in disgust
Alban: "That's no engineered crap. It's an engineer's superfood!"
Eric: "I'll never understand scientists like you. We all know that we're going to be stuck in bunkers for the rest of our lives, but instead of creating some underground vegetables that actually taste like food, you're wasting all your resources putting boobs on cats!"
Alban: "Eric. We're not putting boobs on cats."
Eric: "Then why are there boobs on your cats?"
Alban: "Is that a serious question or are you trying to mess with me again?"
Eric: "Sort of. I get that the top brass wants you to breed an army of dumb, obedient workers to do their dirty work on the surface - but why would you make them so sexy?"
Alban: "Get your mind out of the gutter. How attractive they look to humans is not a design criteria. But humans have evolved to being really good at telling healthy individuals from sick individuals just by looking at them. The hybrids looking good and healthy to you means I've probably not completely screwed up my job."
Eric: "Or maybe you're just a pervert."
Alban: "Okay, alright, for you and the people on the tables around us - YES I KNOW YOU'RE LISTENING - here's why our hybrids have boobs. Central command wants humankind back on the surface as soon as possible, but they have a chicken-and-egg problem: Not enough population growth to create all the supply chains we need to rebuild our civilization. Without the supply chains, we can't build the spaces we need for the population to grow in the first place. That's why hybrids are our future. They're self-sustaining and self-procreating. An army of artificial lifeforms, creating a new world for us to live in."
Eric: "I'm dying to hear where the boobs come in."
Alban: "Genetically, humans and other mammals are pretty similar. But you can't just put antlers on a bunny and call it a jackalope. That's not how it works. There are millions of interconnected systems that you have to fine-tune to get a working organism. Human breasts evolved when our ancestors began to use tools and walk upright. So, if you want hybrids to use tools and walk upright, they'll also become more human in other areas related to that trait."
Eric: "That's the best excuse for a pet with boobs I've ever heard."
Alban (sighs deeply): "Oh believe me, they're anything but, and Central Command isn't happy about that at all. They say they're too smart, too hard to restrain, and not resilient against radiation. Oh well. We're working on it. The next generation will be better, harder, dumber, whatever."
Eric: "You almost sound like that's making you sad."
Alban: "Oh yeah, being a god isn't easy, you know, because god giveth and god taketh away. And I'm not particularly good at the latter."
Eric: "So the boobs are here to stay?"
Alban (angry): "You really still think this is funny, right? CC thinks they're just some artificial lifeforms, like a bunch of microbes that you can pour down the drain when you're done."
Eric: "Oh. I guess that means we're not going to take them with us to the continent?"
Alban (getting emotional): "No. I'm supposed to leave them behind like unwanted dogs at the rest-stop. Cost reasons. Makes perfect sense. But ... I can't do it. We created more than organisms. More than just animals. We created people!"
Eric: "Wow, that got emotional quickly. I would have expected you to brush that off with some science mumbo-jumbo like the rest of it."
Alban (growling): "Sorry for being human!"
Eric: "Oh my god. It's because of her, right?"
Eric: "The cat with boobs. You fell in love with her."
Alban (enraged): "GODDAMNIT, ERIC!"
Eric: "Does she purr when you stroke her?"
Alban jumps up, pushing over his chair, almost flipping the table
Alban (now really angry): "FUCK YOU ... I'm not going to leave her behind to die! Or anybody else! They're smart, Eric, some of them smarter than you. And they're people! They deserve to live, and I'm going to find a way to give them a chance!"
Alban storms off
Alban: "I WILL find a way!"
Alban storms out and slams the door shut
Eric (chuckles): "Yeah. I bet she purrs when he strokes her."