“Is anybody going to investigate the noises coming from the disused supply bay?” Base Commander Four Trills asked of the office at large.
“Not willingly,” Tikt’skt replied after a far longer pause than Trisk fastidiousness required. “And the fact that you haven’t gone to investigate it yourself suggests you know exactly why.”
The Trisk made a point of turning his body away and began to groom his optical sensory hairs with his hindmost pair of legs. Commander Four Trills rubbed his wing hooks over his sensory horns in sympathy. This did have to be dealt with. He chirped in his most authoritative tone.
Every sentient in the room turned their attention to the human sitting at a data console, typing energetically away at a report. The seconds dragged out while they waited for the normally observant human to notice their attention. Finally Four Trill sighed and flew over to the man.
“Ranger Frank,” he said, coming to rest on the human’s head cover.
The human reached up and idly patted the Base Commander.
“Do you hear the noise in the supply bay?” Four Trills asked.
“You can’t prove that I do Commander,” Ranger Frank said cheerfully without taking his eyes off of the screen in front of him.
“Do you plan on investigating it?” Four Trills asked.
“Investigate what?” the human replied without changing tone.
Four Trills sighed and fluttered out of the room. It was a matter of moments to reach the disused supply bay and he set his teeth grimly before flying through the upper door. A small cluster of humans surrounded one of the old water barrels that was sitting on end in the corner of the room under a window. Four Trills decided against announcing himself. He wasn’t the type of commander to sneak around but he genuinely doubted he could make the humans hear him over the sound of the humans yelling and stomping.
One human, a Junior Ranger Psmith he believed, reached over and began to pound his fist onto the scapula region of the human beside him, one Junior Ranger Ford. Four Trills perched a moment on a support beam and rubbed his aching sensory horns. While any reasonable species would consider the crushing blows an assault he was under the impression that the two youngest humans were close friends. And Ford didn’t seem to be reacting to the blows that were moving his body several wingwidths with every strike.
Four Trill gathered himself and darted over to circle over the human’s heads. He stared down into the barrel. The first filtration level had been removed revealing the second filtration level. This left a depth of about a human’s hand span. In that space five concentric arcs of a sucrose substance the humans enjoyed as a treat had been laid. The arcs were nearly complete circles, but only the inner one was closed, making all arcs the same length. Five specimens of the newly discovered insectoid species were placed, each on one of the lines. Four Trills stared down at the sight in confusion.
Slowly he realized that the insectoid’s were not still. They were feeding on the sucrose substance. He flinched as he realized what the portions of the arcs behind them must be comprised of. The absurdity of the situation settled on his back like a rock and he decided to dismiss speculation.
“Ranger Grimes!” He chirped out.
He deliberately allowed his voice to raise into a range he knew would cause the humans some discomfort. It was the only way to be heard above the din of twelve lungs, each the volume of a family sized tent. The humans jumped and looked up at where he was hovering.
“It’s legal!” Yelped one human.
“Checked every regulation!” Insisted another.
“We’re not hurting them!” piped up a third.
“What are you doing to them?” Four Trills demanded, deciding to go straight to the point.
“Racing them!” Ranger Grimes said cheerfully.
Four Trills stared down at the uplifted faces and then slowly came to rest on Ranger Grimes’s hat. The humans watched him with a hush so intense he could hear the slow grinding of the insectoid’s mandibles on the sucrose granules.
“How?” he finally asked, “could that movement be considered a race?”
“We see whose brick beetle gets to the end first,” Grimes explained.
Four Trills rubbed his sensory horns as he tried to make sense of that.
“Are we in trouble?” one human finally asked.
Four Trills sighed and took to the air.
“Please be more quiet,” he requested. “The rest of the base is trying to work.”
Thank you all so much for your updoots and feedback. It gives me the will to go on. Want to see more? Think about becoming a Patreon. Tea refuses to buy itself and the more time one has to spend on a day job the less time there is for befuddled aliens.