“Watch this,” Alea smirked at Trin and turned to the four-legged creature dumbly munching on some flamegrass nearby.
“Oti,” Alea chirped to the thing, and a few dozen eyes opened to look at her. “Oti, what is pi?”
A half-dozen orifices sprinkled amidst the eyes opened to emit a flurry of hissing noises and chirping.
Trin’s jaw dropped as he looked at his wrist screen, “3.1415926535… The numbers just keep coming.”
Alea was practically beaming, “I know.”
“It’s speaking in binary,” Trin blinked at her expectantly.
“I know,” Alea nodded.
“Why?” Trin prompted.
Alea shrugged, “It just started doing it. When the digital connection on my computer broke, I had to jury rig a sound connection to signal you in the dropship. In the weeks while I was waiting at base camp for your arrival, I was Web surfing, and next thing I know, this critter starts talking to my computer system. It’s figured out all our protocols, and has been explaining geometry, trigonometry, and calculus to my computer. I’ve been saving it all to log files for the team to review.”
“How is this possible?” Trin blinked and shook his head.
“I have an hypothesis,” Alea looked at the creature, still happily hissing away pi to seemingly endless decimal places. “Ready?”
Trin nodded dumbly.
Alea pointed to a trio of two-legged powder-puffs bouncing around the space cows’ boneless legs. “Females,” she said. “The calculations attract females. They are a mating display.”
“Calculus is a mating display?” Trin frowned skeptically. “That doesn’t make sense. Why would these blobs evolve to understand advanced mathematics just to attract a mate? They obviously aren’t putting that knowledge to any other use. I thought evolution favored minimalism.”
“It’s like the peacock’s tail,” Alea was grinning at the creature. “Male peacocks evolved these long, extravagant tails because female peacocks preferred them. Why do they prefer them? They just do.
“The tail serves no purpose, in fact, it makes the males easier to catch and eat. Birds of Paradise have evolved similar extravagant displays, just because the females are attracted to them.”
“You’re saying this creature has evolved a giant, energy-hungry brain that can perform calculus and talk with our computers, just to get chicks?!?!” Trin was practically sputtering, flabbergasted. “What are the ramifications of that?”
“Profits, my esteemed colleague,” Alea snapped her fingers before Trin’s eyes. “Peacocks’ feathers were nice for Victorian-era fashions, but for our modern information-centric sensibilities, these critters will be all the rage. Are you following me?”
Trin blinked at her dumbly, sitting still. Slowly, a wide smile spread across his face, “Okay.”