“Do you remember that rule?” Five Clicks demanded as he darted into the biology lab.
Quilx’tch did not ignore the base commander; far from it. He was acutely aware of the Flighted’s presence as he carefully set his sample of solid animal protein in the crucible and eased it into the dehydration oven. No, he did not ignore the base commander as he fluttered maddeningly around overhead. He did however, chose not to respond until the timer was set and the sample was heating.
“To what rule do you refer?” Quilx’tch asked, once he had the freedom of movement to turn his primary eyes on Five Clicks.
“The one you taught me!” Five Clicks responded, landing so he could toss his wings up in exasperation. “About the humans, and giggling!”
Quilx’tch placed one gripping paw on the tertiary joint of its opposite limb and lightly tapped the paw of that limb just below his chelicerae. The gesture worked to get the humans to slow down and give one time to ponder and sometimes even influenced the Flighted.
“I believe I informed you that it was more of a suggestion than a rule,” Quilx’tch pointed out. “Also that it was only in an informal document.”
“That is not the vector!” Five Clicks snapped as he began darting around the room again. “One of the humans has been giggling for the past fifteen minutes!”
“What is he planning?” Quilx’tch asked, suddenly alert.
“I don’t know that he is planning anything!” Five Clicks declared. “By all appearences he is simply working on a duty report.”
Quilx’tch paused far longer than the normal six seconds to ponder this and for once the commander didn’t interrupt his musings. The threat of unknown human behavior was a great inducement to politeness Quilx’tch thought ruefully.
“This is concerning” Quilx’tch stated slowly. “Perhaps I should observe this behavior.”
“Oh thank the Mother!” Five Clicks said as he darted over to the nearest screen. “Here I have the security footage ready on the server for you to view. It should contain al the information you need. I have accelerated the playback so that you can obtain an better understanding of the central issue of the matter.”
Five Clicks went on even as he set the log to play back and Quil’tch was about ready to start pulling his own sensory hairs out in irritation when it really dawned on him what he was listening to.
“Stop the playback!” he snapped.
Five Clicks immediately fell silent and complied.
“Now,” Quilx’tch said, raising a gripping appendage. “Pay it forward at the normal speed.”
The sound played for a few seconds and Quilx’tch turned and darted out of the room. Five Clicks followed him instantly.
“What is wrong?” Five Clicks asked. “You are fluffed out like you just saw a hungry predator.”
“That isn’t giggling,” Quilc’tch said grimly. “Though I can understand your mistake. That is what the human call dark chuckling.”
“What is the difference?” Five Clicks asked, a note of true fear in his voice.
“Intent to cause inconvenient interruptions to daily life and intent to …”Quilx’tch stopped his statement. “We need to talk to this human immediately.”
“Very well,” Five clicks agreed.
They found the office where the human was working and the ominous sound was still being produced. Quilx’tch ignored protocol and dated past the privacy barrier, up the human’s leg, and only came to a stop when his physical presence interfered with the rapid typing of the human’s fingers on the keyboard. The human stared down at him in mild surprise.
“Human Friend Steve!” Quilx’tch immediately began. “What are you dong?”
“Filling out those bull-ah-unnecessary reports that Central asked us for this morning,” the human said, tilting his head in surprise.
“And is this an amusing task?” Quilx’tch asked.
“Ah, are you okay little guy?” Human Friend Steve asked with a frown. “It’s just you seem awful rushed-“
“Please just answer my question,” Quilx’tch cut in.
Five Clicks stared down at the interaction in wide eyed shock.
“Is it funny?’ Human Friend Steve repeated. “Well no. It is a huge waste of time if you ask me.”
“Then why are you chuckling darkly?” Quilx’tch demanded.
Human Friend Steve stared down at him blankly for a few moments.
“Was I?” He asked.
Quilx’tch indicated Five Clicks.
“Base Commander!” Human Friend Steve called out in surprise, leaping to his feet.
Five Clicks flew down without a word and landed on the consol, triggering the playback. Human Friend Steve listened intently and his face contorted in a sheepish grin.
“I guess I was,” he conceded. “Sorry for freaking you out.”
“Why?” Quilx’tch demanded. “We’re you chuckling darkly?”
Human Friend Steve flushed with embarrassment and rubbed the back of his head.
“Well,” he said slowly. “You know those unnecessary reports we have to hand in by the end of today?”
“Yes,” Quilx’tch said suspiciously. “They are a deplorable waste of time are resources however the rest of the base was done with them by the end of the morning.”
“Well I figured a little turn about was fair play,” Human Friend Steve said with a grin.
“What do you mean?” Five Clicks asked.
“My report,” Human Friend Steve said as he bent under the table and pulled out a massive stack of printouts, “is here.”
He dropped them on the table and reached under for another.
He bent down yet again and pulled out a third stack.
“And here!” He declared gleefully. “They wanted detail? I’ll give them detail. Every data point, every calculation! Everything!”
His speech ended in a dark chuckle which in turn cascaded into a maniacal laugh.
Quilx’tch relaxed in a slump and without bothering to respond walked out of the office. Five Clicks followed him with a final concerned glance back at the human.
“Well?” he demanded.
“I have work to do,” Quilx’tch said with a dismissive wave. “The situation has resolved itself semi-productively and dealing with the fallout of others’ interspecies bureaucracy is not my job.”
“How did the situation resolve itself?” Five Clicks demanded.
“From everything I have observed of Human Steve,” Quilx’tch said. “He will be content with his retaliatory actions. This base has nothing to fear.”
“What retaliatory actions?” Five Clicks demanded.
“You saw the raw mass of his report,” Quilx’tch said, “and you can speculate what kind of trouble that will cause for the much smaller mass of the official who requested it. Go to the human aggression database and look up malicious compliance. It will be informative.”