**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**
Falcon Stadium Shelter loomed below in the early dawn light as the Drifter Ultra autonomous transport descended along its approved approach trajectory. Transport designation KYTT-731 ran a continuous series of self-diagnostics and task option routines in preparation for its inaugural day of duty. It had already successfully made its first client pick-ups enroute from the Amazon-Boeing refurb complex north of Atlanta. With the transport's charges safely tranquilized, KYTT-731 float-glided in a graceful helix into the flower-like opening of the stadium rooftops.
KYTT-731 not only resembled a tiny pollinating insect from afar, it actually incorporated hive-style cybernetic networking in its wetware. Once below the stadium's extensive glass parapets KYTT-731's programming and navigation sensors permitted casual avoidance of the other airborne transports already busy about their day. With plenty of processing overhead assigned to maneuvering, KYTT-731 activated Curiosity Mode to better monitor the habitat areas below.
The stadium mega shelter had just celebrated two decades of service, having been converted to a state-of-the-art animal shelter shortly after Georgia joined the Southern Security State Consortium back in the '50's. The Thousand Protocol of that agreement had implemented strict venue restrictions to avoid future Big Six style mass homicides. That protocol might forbid the congregating of humans in numbers greater than one thousand, but no such mandate applied to non-human animals.
Scanning the stadium landscape, KYTT-731 reviewed compliance parameters with Falcon Stadium Shelter's primary mission: housing, care and placement of displaced Felis catus individuals, both of feral and stray origin. Since Georgia eschewed genetic modification and euthanization strategies it had implemented what it saw as the most humane path to controlling the invasive species: Trap, Spay, Contain and Care. Though relatively expensive the stadium shelter program had been the archetype model among the Level Two Animal Rights States
As KYTT-731 crossed the one time gridiron field it identified visually 3,031 of the 74,994 felines documented to be in residence. That, of course, didn't include the three feline charges in its hold, each currently napping soundly under mild sedation for transport. The remainder of the shelter cat population would be sleeping, undergoing veterinary exams, hanging out with volunteer human companions, or just hiding out of sight or playing in the many habitat areas. Implant scantags linked each individual to its dossier. Each file contained an online medical history, given name and a compiled narrative which included an extensive behavioral profile with commentary.
Numerous figures in addition to the resident cats moved among the numerous structures and habitat foliage that ran from field level way up into the nosebleed sections. Cleanerbots, roll-transports, green-hatted garden-techs, and orange-hatted vet-techs by the dozen meandered about. Even a couple early-bird, blue-hatted volunteers could be seen in this hanging garden of Babylon. The stadium garden was actually composed of more than three thousand separately maintained gardens niches and safe playspaces to encourage the happiest of cat communities. Each area thrived with lithe furry bodies in motion and emanating a panoply of meows and purrs.
KYTT-731 cursorily integrated the Curiosity Mode data observations it had collected with the shelter database stats. The aggregate model confirmed the assessment that the shelter space was in overall good health. KYTT-731 shared those conclusions with the stadium controllers just as it received clearance to land at Reception Pad Six. KYTT-731 swooped around the Veterinary Hospital "Endzone" complex and headed toward the northeast to comply.
Sitting patiently for a few seconds on the landing pad, KYTT-731 identified the approaching figure as the transport project manager, Dr. Serena Juliette. Given the idle time before her arrival, KYTT-731 refreshed its helium reserves and balanced its solar and thorium energy source loads. It then reviewed all available information about its assignment, giving elevated cognitive attention to expected partnerships and outcomes.
"Good morning Dr. Juliette."
"Good morning KYTT-731," the orange-hatted woman returned, glancing up from her datapad with a smile.
"Your diagnostics and security clearances check. Designation update: KYTT-731, your primary designation is now Pouncer. You're one of the crew now. Welcome aboard!"
"Thanks Dr. Juliette. I appreciate the feline related sentiment. If you don't mind I think Bounder would be a better nickname for myself."
Dr. Juliette laughed.
"Your wetware's got some spunk. Fine. Bounder it is."
She nodded behind her visAR confirming the name change.
"Ok Bounder, join up with Redclaw and Buzzaroo to shadow for the rest of the day to build up your heuristics. That is, of course, after you discharge these three kitties at Quarantine. Oh and be sure your external feeds are in Free Stream Mode. Crowdsource funding and accountability third parties rely on continuous data flow. Some of your footage just might end up in PR space."
"Free Stream Mode is now active. Thank you Dr. Juliette the kind welcome. It is good to be here."
The Drifter Ultra Transport rose smoothly and pivoted toward its destination, simultaneously sending out a welcoming HIWIFI handshake to the forty-nine other transports currently operational, both roller and hover, in addition to a hello-mail to the public shoutboard.
"Hi!!! This is Bounder. I'm bringing three beautiful, young cats to registration, each in need of names. I'm sure they're looking forward to joining the shelter community as much as I am."