“Where did you end up storing the hydrocarbon reserves at your last station?” Fourth Sister inquired as she shifted the layers of the display she was observing.
Her companion was soaking in one of the sinks of the medical ward. He had dipped dangerously low on a particular mineral before one of the female humans dragged him in insisting he was ‘off-color’. Fourth Sister had not noted a change in his outer membrane but had learned to trust the humans risk assessment if nothing else.
“The humans dug a giant hole, put the storage tanks in them, and then back-filled the holes with the removed dirt.” Idlesintheshallows replied.
“A fairly standard solution,” Fourth Sister replied. “Making use of the insulating properties of dry land is a most efficient process.”
“That wasn’t the strange thing,” Idlesintheshallows went on. “We had no excavation equipment at the time.”
“Was there some on requisition?” She asked.
“Yes there was,” he said. “But it was several months out and the humans were in a hurry to get the hydrocarbons underground before the monsoons moved in.”
“The electrical discharge would be a major problem,” Fourth Sister admitted. “How did they solve the problem?”
“Well we’d just got a bunch of fresh rangers so they printed out a bunch of shovels-” Idlesintheshallows stopped talking as one of the many display screens along the wall began to flicker amber.
“What’s that?” He asked, shifting curiously in the water toward the light.
“A medical alert,” Fourth Sister replied. “Low grade it is not-”
She stopped talking as the light shifted from amber to red.
“It looks like it is now,” Idlesintheshallows observed. “Who is that and why aren’t the readouts in a readable format?”
“The humans value their privacy in medical matters,” Fourth Sister said as she quickly gathered her kit. “I must leave you here. Please do not touch anything.”
Idlesintheshallows gave a hum of agreement and slipped back under the surface as she left the office at a brisk skip. It took her some time to reach the human’s location on the other side of the base. The middle aged woman was bent over the open top of one of the power generators.
“First Mechanic,” Fourth Sister called out. “I am here to tend to your medical needs.”
“My what now?” the woman asked, glancing up sharply at the medic.
Fourth Sister hesitated and considered the situation. The woman’s face was creased with stress indicators and her shoulders were hunched defensively. However she did seem genuinely perplexed, and as remote as the possibility was the equipment might be malfunctioning. She held up the display and showed the elevated hormone levels to the human.
“Why are you even monitoring those?” First Mechanic demanded.
“For the study from the Centauri University,” Fourth Sister explained, her antenna curling in surprise, she thought First Mechanic had consented to the study with the rest of the base.
The human heaved a sigh and reached her gloved hand up to rub across her face. The dirty protective surface left smears of conductive gel on the skin and Fourth Sister couldn’t quite hide a wince.
“Forgot about that scrapit,” the human cursed softly. “Guess I’d better tell you about it.”
“About what?” Fourth Sister asked with a confused flick of her frill.
The humans sighed again and bent back to her task.
“I have a little genetic oddity,” she explained. “It makes my mineral content fluctuate unexpectedly. I have the therapy for it but its too close to some pretty important gene markers to turn it off or mess with it much at all. I’m usually pretty stable but every so often some environmental thing knocks my mineral content sideways and then I get a little distracted.”
“Why didn’t you report this imbalance before your hormones were effected?” Fourth Sister asked.
The human shrugged.
“I have an appointment set up to get it re-balanced,” she said. “There was no reason to bother you. You have enough to do with the study.”
“Be that as it may,” Fourth Sister said. “You need to come back to the medical ward with-”
“No,” First Mechanic stated abruptly.
“Pardon me?” Fourth Sister said, curling her antenna back in affront.
“Look Fourth,” First Mechanic said. “I know my limits, I might be having a bit of a tough go of it right now but I am perfectly capable of working through it.”
“It is a series of medical conditions that every line of data I have says can lead to death,” Fourth Sister stated.
“I’m not going to snap,” First Mechanic growled. “It’s just a few days.”
Fourth Sister pulled up the list of symptoms that was attached to First Mechanics database in a minor sub-folder.
“Anxiety attacks? Panic attacks? Temporary disruption of your central fluid pump?” Fourth Sister demanded. “These are hardly-”
“Look,” the human snapped as she rose from her work and shut the lid with more force than was strictly necessary. “I can be miserable trapped in my quarters or I can be miserable and productive at work.”
Fourth Sister hesitated. The logic was fairly sound. Humans were notorious for the degradation of their mental state under periods of inactivity.
“I will be monitoring your bio-metrics closely,” Fourth Sister said.
“You do that Moon Pie,” First Mechanic replied as she shouldered her work bag and proceeded to the next junction.
Fourth Sister tilted her triangular head to look after her in confusion as she left. When the human rounded a corner the Shatar turned and walked slowly back to the medical bay. Idlesintheshallows was circling the bottom of the sink clearly deep in thought. She resumed her place and had been working for some time when he finally rose to the surface and angled his appendages at the wall of observation charts.
“It is still reading in the danger zone,” he observed.
“The human has chosen to work through the issue,” Fourth Sister informed him.
“Why?” Idlesintheshallows asked.
“Feel free to propose a theory of your own,” Fourth Sister said as she bent over her 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.