Chel chuckled as the tiger nuzzled her hand. “You may call me Dash, it’s what I prefer.” Dash stated politely, “I truly appreciate your attention to my fur.”

“Knock it off, Dash.” Lexx muttered, “It’s annoying when you start showing off and talking just to hear yourself talk,.. besides, you can’t keep it up forever!”

“Longer than you could,” Dash hesitated, searching for the right phrase of words. He’d been too quick to speak, “Urm,.. uhm,.” For a few minutes, his ears twitched back and forth, but he couldn’t come up with anything and was flustered, “Drat.” He finally uttered.

Lexx sat up and smirked at the tiger, “I told you so.”

“Hrmpth.” Dash got up and with a twitch of his tail, left the room, leaving
Lexx and Chel alone. The rest of the dice were either sleeping or down in
the enviro globe.

“Aww,” Chel pouted, “Why did you do that?”

“He was annoying me?” Lexx laid the bookplate down and folded his arms.

“You could be nicer about it.”

“Why?”

“You just could?”

“I don’t want to.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not nice.”

Chel looked at Lexx oddly, tilting her head to one side. “You don’t seem
that bad to me.”

“Heh, to you.” Lexx stood and turned to look out the window at the
stars. “You don’t know me. You only know what I let you know and what makes
you think I’m going to let you know anything bad about myself?”

“I don’t look for faults in people, Lexx.” Chel smiled, laying down on the
floor, her arms folded under her head.

“You should.” Lexx grunted, turning away. For some reason, he was mildly
embarrassed and knew he’d stare at Chel if he continued looking. He didn’t
want to be caught doing that. She might get the wrong idea. He might get
the wrong idea.

“Lexx,” She grinned, lifting a hand, “Mind helping me up?” Without
a word, Lexx did as he was asked, offering his hand and pulling Chel to her
feet easily. She fell against him and gave an awkward smile.

“Lexx? Why are you staring into space like that?” Chel was still on the floor.
Lexx shook his head. Great, now he was daydreaming and not aware of it. That
wasn’t good.

“Thinking. Are you sure you don’t want to go home? You seemed really uhm,..
troubled when I caught Dash.” Lexx glanced away.

“It’s ok.” Chel pushed herself up on one hand. “It’s just that there aren’t
a lot of wild tigers on Earth,.. and that’s what Dash is.”

“They can’t just make more?” Lexx obviously didn’t quite get it.

“They can, it’s just that a lot of people don’t have any respect for them
and kill them and turn them into rugs,.. and .. medicines.” Chel shrugged,
walking to the couch and sitting down. She was starting to feel a little
depressed.

Lexx looked completely sickened, “Why would they want to do that?”

“Money. People do a lot of things for money.”

That, Lexx understood. “Oh,” There was a silence. “I can take
Dash back when I’m done and let him go to do what he wants.”

“But he’s not a tiger anymore.” Chel frowned.

“He’s still a tiger.”

“He’s one of your dice.”

“Dice can breed.” Lexx sat down on the other end of the couch, “The encoding
in the dice saves all of their bonded DNA and actually improves upon it.
They can interbreed with any dice or creature that has at least one matching
base.”

Chel turned to Lexx and stated flatly, “Tigers are fine the way they are.
They wouldn’t be tigers if you let Dash go and breed with them. They’d be
something else.”

“Maybe they’d be able to survive better?”

“It would be wrong.”

“Why?” Lexx wasn’t getting it again. How was it wrong to improve upon something?
He was stuck on what he’d been taught in the academy. Improving something,
through science or time was always a good thing. It made a stronger chance
of survival.

“If they hadn’t ‘improved’ upon humans to make you, would you be in this
situation?” Chel pointed out without really thinking about what she was saying.

Lexx went silent again and stood up. A wave of heat had uncomfortably flushed
through his body at the statement. He wasn’t sure why, but it bothered him.
“You’re right” He sighed. “It isn’t always a good thing, but I can’t
let my personal experience cloud my judgment. In my case, yes, but
wishful thinking will get me nowhere. I can’t change it and wishing for things
is only a waste of time.” The Rishan turned and walked away, “You’re lucky,
Chel, you can go home and they’ll actually want you there.”