“-in a safe environment where they can rebuild their numbers without harassment.” Pallas Forsythe, who was the sort of woman to whom “Madam Chair” came naturally, closed her folder of notes and looked at her audience instead of using speakers’ tricks to engage the audience. The audience, to a man and woman, looked flabbergasted.
A stout man, bearded and in a checked flannel shirt stood then asked, “So you and your people’d be the only ones allowed to hunt or catch jackalopes?”
“Correct, Mr Peedy,” Miss Forsythe smiled at him. “We at the Foundation believe that only our plan stands between the jackalope and extinction.”
Another man stood. He was taller and younger than Angus Peedy, swarthy and had long, braided hair. “Miss Forsythe,” his voice carried in a deep bass, “you and the Foundation do realise that the jackalope is a magical creature whose numbers have never been higher than they are now, don’t you?”
“Mr Horse,” she clasped her hands on top of her folder, “the historical figures for the jackalope population cited in Osbourne et al are absurdly low. This animal has obviously been in trouble for a long time. Miss Rogers?”
The younger woman she’d named asked in a broad drawl, “So, how’re you gonna arrange thunderstorms with hail to get them little guys all in the mood?” A chuckle ran through the audience.
“Those supposed mating conditions are hearsay,” retorted Miss Forsythe, “and there will need to be a period of intense research to establish their actual needs and requirements.”
“These rules of yours mean no-one’s allowed to open the dens for milking, don’t they?” This middle-aged speaker looked like she was spokesman for the group seated around her. “There’s a rumour that the Foundation’s signed a milk contract with one of the big pharmaceutical companies.”
“The Foundation has received generous corporate sponsorship for this project,” Miss Forsythe admitted calmly.
“Miss Forsythe, Deuce Brady,” the big man up the back introduced himself. “Are you planning to put all the jackalopes in together, no matter what their type? I’ve been reading about the Foundation’s Carpathian wyvern project…”
“I’m sorry, I can’t comment on other Foundation projects this evening.” Any moment now someone would ask about the werewolf in London.
Instead Deuce Brady added, “You folks do know how to catch jackalopes, don’t you?”