Humans are Weird – Give Me a Minute
The brilliant pair of suns beat down on the lapping waves that made this section of the water so dangerous for swimming. The scattered light that was almost universally attractive to the various sapient species of the galaxy was flickering from the tip of each wave. The human who had followed along emitted a sudden breath and his exposed skin flushed with deep pleasure.
“Sparkly,” the human murmured.
Given that they were separated by several meters of air Prodsfoolishly couldn’t see the human’s binocular eyes particularly well, but he could observe that the muscular shutters had irised down to mere points, and even the fleshy outer coverings were narrowed to shield the sensitive lenses with the guard hairs. All told it was a very defensive action, one that was far too similar to what Prodsfoolishly had been taught to identify as pain in the giant mammals. However he could see the broad decimeters of skin rippling with delight as the human’s stripes positively pulsed. Under the water the humans ten, adorably stubby appendages flexed and recoiled as he seemed to draw in data on the cove floor.
“Thank you again for the invite Prods,” the human finally said. “I needed to get out of the reading rooms.”
“It has been a long research session,” Prodsfoolishly agreed. “We are all feeling a little stale, but my motivations in inviting you were hardly selfless concern for your well-being.”
“Even so,” the humans said with a smile. “Thank you. Now-”
The last word, which should have heralded the beginning of a new verbally expressed thought trailed off as the now pinpoint binocular vision darted around the cover and the giant, bipedal body swayed thoughtfully. The human slowly folded over and slipped into the water that came up to his waist at this location. The human achieved a fully buoyant position and the slipped the synthetic lenses used to protect his membranous eyes from the saline differential down over his eyes.
“Upies?” the human suggested, using his hands to sign the words now that his mouth was under water and less useful.
“Please,” Prodsfoolishly accepted the offer.
There was only a very slight thermocline in this water that was shallow enough even by most Undulate standards but it was enough to begin stealing the heat from his core. He swam vigorously up to the human and carefully climbed onto the human’s back. He aligned himself along the spine to provide as much symmetry as possible and gripped the locations he had discovered, through no little trial and rather hysterical error, produced the least reaction from this human.
“I am in fact quite grateful to you,” Prodsfoolishly continued their conversation as the human swam along. “Solo exploration is prohibited and even team exploration can only be done with a fully equipped level five environmental hazard unit.”
“Fish!” the human signed with a sudden gesture.
Prodsfoolishly foolishly, who had already been noting the small herbivore on his datapad remembered to give a hum of acknowledgment. Humans, like most species, needed to be reassured of their place in the professional cuddle he supposed. He really couldn’t think of any other reason the human would call attention to something that was clearly in his line of sight. The floated along for a bit, Prodsfoolishly happily making observations of the local aquatic fauna until their ultimate goal came in sight.
The rocks of the cliff face, such a strange and terrifying formation. Dark mineral deposits such as one should only ever find deep beneath coral, stripped bare in many places by the wind and water tearing the flora away from the steep sides, disappearing into the distance and merging with the shimmering day colors of the sky. Even the human, who could probably start giving him a list of the plant species that topped the cliff was appropriately awed by the sight if the shifting patterns of fear and delight were any indication.
“Is this the indicated cavity?” Prodsfoolishly asked when the human’s initial reaction to the location had subsided somewhat.
“That’s what the map says,” the human confirmed, pulling up the projection on his arm.
The lights of his skin interfered with the display of course, foolish to project a light display on an inherently glowing surface of course, but the humans insisted that they would eventually be able to fine-tune the display to make it easier to read.
“Then I will go ahead and scout the entrance so we can be sure you oxygen reserves are sufficient,” Prodsfoolishly said.
“I’m good for two minutes easy,” the human said, “three in a pinch.”
Prodsfoolishly hummed and slipped down under the water, he dropped to the floor of the cove and scrambled along the bottom. The shelf of minerals that dipped down into the water was barely a meter thick. The human’s fast swimming method shouldn’t require three seconds to get under it and to the cavern on the other side, just as the survey results had reported. Still, Prodsfoolishly swam up through the thin water and thrust an appendage rich with atmosphere cells past the surface tension to check the quality of the air. The oxygen was plentiful and he dropped back down to wave the human in. His friend dipped down and instead of swimming simply grabbed a mineral protrusion and then thrust off the floor of the cove with his powerful legs. This move shot him forward in a curve that sent waves bursting out around him when he breached the surface.
“The unusual nests are found behind you,” Prodsfoolishly instructed. “Just reach up and-”
The human turned with an odd distress pattern flashing across his skin and slammed his head into the rock wall. The human emitted a rather profane curse and staggered back, crouching in the water and clutching his head. It took Prodsfoolishly several seconds to even realize that the vector the human’s head had struck the wall at was dangerous. It was several more seconds before he recognized the chemical trails drifting on the moist air to be the iron rich human blood. Meanwhile the human was softly chanting the profanity.
“You are injured!” Prodsfoolishly called out frantically.
“You don’t say!” the human bit out. “What cued you in?”
Prodsfoolishly couldn’t really believe that his friend thought he was successfully concealing the injury and assumed that to be sarcasm.
“Do you require medical attention?” Prodsfoolishly asked.
“Probably,” the human admitted. “But I want to try and stop the bleeding here before I swim anywhere with this cut on my head. You time it and let me know when five minutes is up. Then I’ll swim out if the bleeding has stopped.”
“If it hasn’t stopped I can apply pressure while you use your hands to swim,” Prodsfoolishly offered. “We can’t throw but we are very good at compressive strength.”
“I might take you up on that offer,” the human said as the pain light danced out from the injury.
“Why did you slam your neural center into the wall?” Prodsfoolishly asked.
“Well I didn’t mean to,” the human said. “I was just blind for a moment there.”
“Your eyes had stopped functioning?” Prodsfoolishly asked.
“Not, not exactly,” the human said, his face contorting with pain. “It was just coming in from the noon sun into here, there wasn’t enough light.”
“The sensors read more than sufficient lumins,” Prodsfoolishly said.
“Sure there will be,” the human agreed, “or would have been once my eyes adjusted.”
“Adjusted?” Prodsfoolishly asked.
“To the lack of light,” the human replied.
“I see,” Prodsfoolishly said uneasily.
It did make a kind of sense. He had seen the human’s pupils contracted to points outside. There could he supposed be a time of adjustment, a matter of moments when the human was blind in an otherwise lighted environment, but it just seemed so odd, such a random limitation of sensory data, he wondered if their other senses could be temporarily overwhelmed like that.
“Hey, keep talking buddy,” the human called out. “If I start wobbling mentally from a concussion you really need to know stat.”
Prodsfoolishly suddenly felt the chill weight of responsibility drag down his appendages at the thought of being responsible for his friend’s safety and sent a prayer out on the waves that the mamma’s internal fluids stayed there and his neural network was unjosteled.
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