It had been turned into a competition between Thaddea and Thea. The family was always doing that, and Thea always won. As she would say in her self-satisfied voice to her age-mate cousin, “I was designed to be better.” And she had been. In some family argument that had started before the two of them had been conceived, only Thaddea’s mother had contributed to her design while Thea had the rest of the family listed in her credits. Apparently the argument wasn’t over, because the family insisted on continuing to test them against each other. Today was a case in point.
This was an actual commission for the family business and the two cousins had each been tasked to prepare an option for the client’s approval. Privately, Thaddea thought they could have produced a better proposal working together, but Thea didn’t work that way and the rest of the family had insisted on pitting them against each other. Now the client was going to choose the winner of this competition, and he didn’t even know it. Thaddea knew which proposal he’d prefer, she’d read his profile. As had Thea.
“I prefer,” the client, a wealthy noble although that was almost a contradiction these days, was standing beside the pen where Thea’s tall, elegant, colour-matched creatures were being held by their handlers, “this option, but what I need,” he pointed at the pen containing the small, unattended herd of Thaddea’s shorter, squatter, varicoloured animals, “is that option. Those I can sell my upland peasants on. Anyone who can take care of cattle, can take care of them. They shouldn’t need to be stabled except in the dead of winter and their winter coats can be shorn for a usable fibre. With the toxic vegetation they’re going to helping to eradicate, using the meat or milk would be out of the question, but that’s a good compromise. We’ll go forward with them, thank you.”
Thaddea hadn’t expected that and neither, when she looked her, had Thea. Their grandmother had to prod Thaddea in the back to get her to respond to the client. “Certainly, your lordship.” The young woman’s voice sounded rusty with surprise. “What would you like to call them, as a species?”
“Ah,” his face brightened, “I get naming rights, don’t I? I’ll have to get back to you on that.”