“The critical point is that we maintain the proper moisture gradient for the other species,” Gesturesoddly said as he held up the data pad. “Even a human’s native micro-fauna is insufficient to defend them from the fungal growths on this planet if their feet are not kept in an exactly balanced moisture environment.”
The new quartermaster who was to replace Gesturesoddly was trying very hard to attend to what the older quartermaster was saying. However several of his appendages were drifting around trying to find the source of the pulsing sound that bled down from the atmosphere into their aquatic habitat. Gesturesoddly considered taking pity on him but decided that it would be counterproductive. If the new quartermaster was to be successful in his post he would have to learn how to deal with humans. The sooner he learned what input was safe to filter out and what was not the better. Gesturesoddly tightened his appendages a bit and continued to discuss the reasons that they maintained such an abrupt moisture gradient in the main base.
When the new quartermaster did finally interrupt he seemed to have taken the hint that the noise was unimportant and only asked about the Shatar.
“Yes,” Gesturesoddly said, letting his appendages twitch in discomfort. “That was our hubris I am afraid. Normally no hive would ever allow even a twentieth cousin to risk herself on a world this hazardous. They really have no defenses worth mentioning on the surface of their outer membranes and such a damp base as this would be off-limits. However we had been so successful with the humans the university sent us a Shatar biochemist. She got a mild abrasion on her foot, mild even by their standards, and the infection set in quickly. Very odd that, it wasn’t a fungus, it was a plant. The hive naturally snatched her back so quickly that we barely had time to finish sending them the report on her health. I hear they had to amputate the leg. The first medical amputation they have had to preform in generations. It was quite traumatic for the entire hive.”
The telling of the tragedy had almost distracted the new quartermaster from the sound but they were reaching the part of the briefing where they had to go and inspect the giant fans that were used the circulate the air past the dehumidifier systems. The new quartermaster posed the natural question about using such inefficient circulatory systems in favor of passive and thermal designs and Gesturesoddly gave a hum of approval.
“We want a lack of efficiency,” Gesturesoddly said. “The passive systems have no vibration. In the moist sections the fungus grow wild. In the dry sections the lichens latch on and grow constantly. The vibration keeps a large percentage of the biomatter from finding secure holds and that added to the chaotic air movements saves us hundreds of hours of cleaning. Even so we have to send in rotational scrub bots to scour the walls and treat them with elemental antibiotics on a regular basis.”
The new quartermaster asked about the human rumors and Gesturesoddly jiggled in a fit of humor.
“Oh, yes that is all quite true,” he said. “The humans get so attached to the cleaning bots. They have named the ones on this base Spinny MacSpinface and Ever Spinnin. Supposedly these sound patterns have ancient cultural meanings.”
They were reaching the source of the odd pulsing sounds and Gesturesoddly could tell that the new quartermaster was about to ask about the clearly non-mechanical noise. However he had timed their swim precisely and they came up just by the main vents where the giant circulation fans were placed. The fans were set into the wall on one side of what looked like a comically oversize dehumidifier system. The air was pulled in from outside through the side of a barrel and the centrifugal force of the air movement caused most of the particulate matter, seeds, spores, pollen and the like to fall to the biomass collectors below before the air was pulled through the fist of three filters. Then the are was dehumidified mechanically by a temperature gradient, passed through another filter for finer particulate matter, was dehumidified chemically, and passed through an activated carbon nano-tube system that worked on a molecular level before being re-humidified from the now clean water and forced out into the base through the three fans each with the diameter of a large Undulate with all his appendages spread for open ocean swimming.
“Of course,” Gesturesoddly went on, switching entirely to their native language of gestures and touches as the pulsing sound overwhelmed them in the open air, “it is all terribly expensive, but the main problems it counters are mostly long term so we could shuffle on for several weeks if it had even a catastrophic failure, and the humans assure us so long as the chemical dehumidifiers could be arranged in the inner rooms they would be fine.”
“Are they,” the new quartermaster asked tentatively as they observed the three humans hunched in front of the fans, “are they quite fine now? That is not, that cannot be any language.”
“Waaaoooowwww, waaaaaooowwww!” the humans chanted into the fans.
“They find casting sound at running fans and feeling the resonance it throws back entertaining,” Gesturesoddly said with a nicely human shrug. “It is one of their more harmless forms of entertainment. At least they have not strapped any knives to the vent cleaning robots.”
The new quartermaster stiffened in confused horror. Gesturesoddly waved his main appendages fondly at the chanting humans.
“Yet,” he finished.
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Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 40 reviews and ratings! If you bought the book and enjoyed it, it would really help me out if you leave a quick star rating on Amazon. A review would be great but just stars would be a huge boost *****!
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Of course if you want a signed first edition you can email me at the email on my website and I can ship you a signed Author copy of the first edition for the same price as the crowdfunding campaign $35 domestic and $50 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.