“No it does not need to be a banana tree!” Ranger Ferris said rolling his eyes.
The larger human was lounging against the wall of the primary base green house watching the smaller human and Fourth Sister examining a set of young fruit tress marked with pale green tags.
“Which one of us is actually practicing Muay Thai?” the smaller human demanded. “Keep your uninformed opinions to your self!”
Fourth Sister tilted her head between the two male humans. Both seemed fairly relaxed and were twisting their faces into the contortion that indicated pleasure. Their voices were low and lacked the tones that indicated anger. While the content of their speech suggested they were having a confrontation every other social signal that she could read suggested that they were reciting some memorized trivia that neither particularly cared about. It was a strange situation but not one that she was required to investigate. She shook out her frill and turned her attention back to the trees.
“What about this one?” Ranger Trevor asked, stroking a finger along one of the long leaves.
“That one has a potential rating of four point seven,” Fourth Sister replied, checking her data pad. “You should leave it.”
“This one has some damaged leaves,” Ranger Trevor said.
“Indeed,” Fourth Sister lightly ground her mandibles together as she analyzed the totality of the data for the plant. “It came from a particularly productive seed-crop. We have plentiful clones of the parent genome. It has no particularly useful traits.”
“So can I have it?” Ranger Trevor asked, his face flushing with color in an expression of eagerness.
“We can exchange this for the agreed upon labor,” Fourth Sister confirmed. “Will you want to take this out to your training area or leave it here with the rest.”
“Well,” the human pondered. “It will need a good root system in the ground when I use it so the sooner I get it planted in the soil outside the better. This is a fast growing breed right?”
“It should reach the diameter you mentioned was desirable within two local years in the soil you provided in the sample,” Fourth Sister stated. “Though I should warn you. The free grown banana plants in this area are singularly lacking in potassium.”
“Not like I plan on eating them,” Ranger Trevor said with one of those disconcerting shrugs. “As long as you can assure me that the trunk will be the same density as the trunks on Earth.”
“While the gravity is slightly less the winds are marginally stronger on average,” Fourth Sister said. “The density and structural integrity of the trunk should be equal or possibly superior depending on the prevailing wind conditions in your training area.”
“Sweet!” the human crowed as he reached forward and in a show of strength that was impressive even for a human lifted the small tree, bucket, soil, moisture and all up into his arms.
“While they do have a high fructose content,” Fourth Sister said, “trunk density is unrelated to sugar production.”
“He’s not eating the bananas,” Ranger Ferris said with a grin as he lifted himself off of the wall and began following them towards the transport that had brought the humans.
“If I may ask what are you going to do with the plant?” Fourth Sister asked, her curiosity finally piqued.
“He’s going to kick it down,” Ranger Ferris said with a laugh.
Fourth Sister flicked her antenna in perplexed surprise and watched as Ranger Trevor turned his head and extended his tongue as if he was going to clean his eyes, but then retracted the stubby organ again. It appeared to have been a physical communication to Ranger Ferris because the larger human only laughed harder.
“I know that human lower body strength is capable of amazing feats,” Fourth Sister said carefully as the smaller human tenderly loaded the plant into the transport, “but I did not think that extended to being able to kick down a tree of that age.”
“Well we do!” Ranger Trevor insisted.
“No you don’t,” Ranger Ferris interjected as he slipped into the control harness of the transport.
“Yes I,” Ranger Trevor hesitated and seemed to ponder a moment. “Yes I will,” he finally said. “I could do it now but there are these unnecessary self-mutilation safeties in the human brain. I just have to get those turned off and I’ll be able to do that by the time the tree is larger enough. Thanks again Fourth Sister.”
“This whole banana tree thing was trite two hundred years ago,” the larger human scoffed as the transport pulled out of the parking area. “You don’t need anything but a heavy bag.”
“It is a time honored tradition!” the smaller human insisted.
Fourth Sister stared after the departing humans with her frill extending and retracting tight to her neck as she worked over the conversation. The concept that a sane sapient being could consider any self-mutilation safety unnecessary was enough to send her antenna skittering. She pondered what she should do for several moment before giving up and activating the communication function on her datapad.
“Second Mother?” she asked when the other end activated. “I...just...please talk to the two humans coming in. Ask them about the banana tree.”
“Of course my smoothling,” Second Mother said with a soothing click. “You look stressed. Have you been alone too long?”
“No,” Fourth Sister said. “The humans visit at least twice a day…”
Second Mother clicked thoughtfully.
“I will send Second Brother out with Eighth Cousin,” she said decisively. “You could use a nice sensible male around the plants if the humans have been acting up.”
“That would be nice,” Fourth Sister admitted. “The humans have indeed been acting up. Do remember to ask them about the banana tree.”
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