“This species alone could move this planet into an entirely different classification,” Quilx’tch was saying with delight. Look at that protein profile. Why, even the Hellbats could draw sustenance from this plant with little effort.”
“So what’s the poison?” the human asked idly as they stared at the glowing display of the flower on the screen.
Quilx’tch turned to regard the human, awaiting further clarification. The human was intently studying the corolla however and the seconds ticked by well past even Trisk standards of politeness before the human noticed that Quilx’tch hadn’t responded yet and glanced down at him. The human’s face was expectant the nutritional anthropologist realized.
“Forgive me,” Quilx’tch said. “I do not understand the question.”
“What poison does the plant carry?” the human asked, gesturing at the delicate flower on the display.
“I have just listed off its entire nutrient profile,” Quilx’tch stated in confusion. “There is nothing in that plant that either your specie or mine would find poisonous.”
“No poison?” the human asked, his expression broadening in surprise. “None at all?”
“No,” Quilx’tch replied after letting the normal six seconds pass by. “Why would I suggest a plant known to be poisonous-”
“But with a nutrient profile like that. Just so much good stuff all in one place-“ the human interrupted him and then paused with a frown. “Oh. Is it fiber then?”
“Did you just interrupt yourself?” Quilx’tch demanded after a moment.
“What?” the human asked, staring at him, the soft, fleshy eye coverings shuttering rapidly over his eyes.
They stared at each other in confusion a moment before Quilx’tch gave up.
“Fiber?” Quilx’tch fixed on the last item that made some sense. “Yes. It has the normal amount for a terrestrial species. I have listed it here-“
“Nah,” the human interjected with a frown. “That’s not it. Not nearly enough.”
Quilx’tch tried to process that and formulate a question to ask but the human went on.
“Thorns then?” the human asked.
“Thorns?” Quilx’tch asked, raising an appendage in a request for clarification.
“The plant,” the human said. “Does it have thorns?”
“No.” Quilx’tch replied. “I examined-“
“Hairs then?” the human pressed. “Enough hair will do it.”
Quilx’tch realized with a spark of hope that he was missing a vital component of whatever conversation the human thought they were having. If he could only find out what the human was truly after-
“No, no hairs,” the human concluded, focusing in on the stem. “It’s gotta be here somewhere. Maybe a geographical defense then. Does it only grow in super remote places?”
“It grows commonly over the majority of the landmasses,” Quilx’tch stated, but a light was dawning in his thoughts.
“Maybe just a little toxin on the leaf tips,” the human was muttering as he turned the image this way and that.
“Human Coworker Bob,” Quilx’tch began, “why are you so convinced that this plant must have some drastic defense mechanism?”
“Because there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” the human said, his face stiffening in a grim look. “No plant makes itself this nutritious and delicious without defending itself from predation. Trust me, there will be barbs, or toxin tipped spines, or, or something.”
Quilx’tch pondered this as he began composing a note. Paranoia was really outside of his field but the psychologists would be glad of any observations.