Waves of amber tinted water lapped gently through the upper layers of the coral reef that hosted the main base of the newest Undulate colony world. Considersquickly was nominally using his leading appendages to sort out exploration shifts for the upcoming weeks on a data bulge. However the primary drift of his thoughts was on the communication from the central university, wrapped in layers of apology and understanding, that they were shifting to the Shatar standard datapads for all future University funded exploration missions. The deciding factor in the final choice had actually not been the Shatar themselves, but the ergonomics of the newly discovered mammalian race. The fact that said race had shown up (on their own funding free of University entanglement) on this planet was prompting the University to forward the change.
Considersquickly fondled the easy to grip, specially textured sides of the bulge and let just a single fiber of regret float away. He really had no problems drifting with the prevailing cultural currents, but he would miss the ease of use of the older tech offered. He was trying to swim back to arranging the shifts when Toucheseagerly fell through the surface with a frantic splop and scrambled down the coral wall, jabbering as he tried to scramble and speak at the same time.
“Either slow down or use sound,” Considersquickly gestured at his quartermaster absently.
“The new friends, the humans I mean!” Toucheseagerly bleated out in pure sound waves as he scrambled faster. “They are disposing of the explosives!”
Considersquickly had to admit he was glad of a chance to leave the rather smooth task of assigning shifts for something that at least had potential to be more interesting. Not that this situation promised to be in any way unusual, but at least Toucheseagerly’s reaction to it promised to be entertaining.
“Yes Toucheseagerly,” Considersquickly said, and perhaps his gestures were a breadth condescending, “the new human friends volunteered to dispose of our expired shaped coral blasters. It was, rather still is, in the weekly flow charts.”
Toucheseagerly’s entire body rippled with contradicting conjunctions and the force of his failed attempt at communication carried him several unds sideways, the movement showing no sign of stopping. Considersquickly took that as a request for more information.
“The corals on this world were far safer and more habitable than the initial survey, taken in the more northerly regions indicated. We have been left trailing a massive stockpile of shaped construction explosives. Detonating them underwater was out of the question for safety reasons, and we have only had the time and personnel to spare to perform atmospheric detonations occasionally-”
“Yes, yes, yes, yes,” Toucheseagerly actually interrupted him with irritated and dismissive gestures.
Considersquickly realized that there was actual fear in his subordinate's energy, but only traces of the more bitter tasting emotion. Mostly there was raw, frantic confusion.
“So when the humans offered to do the atmospheric detonations-” Toucheseagerly interjected.
“At far higher and safer elevations than we could have-” Considersquickly cut in with a significant set to his appendages.
“Faster, cheaper, quicker, safer!” Toucheseagerly broke in again, either completely ignoring Considersquickly’s point or not noticing it.
“Yes, yes, they are, right now, the secondary island. Baseball bats! Safety gear! I don’t know!”
The last statement was a near frantic wail followed by a slump that sent any irritation Considersquickly had built up flowing with the tide. Toucheseagerly was genuinely distressed about something and Considersquickly mentally prodded what he had said.
“Are the human not using proper safety gear?” he asked, setting his appendages in a soothing droop.
Toucheseagerly positively twitched as he clearly tried to form coherent thoughts.
“Balls, the game, not the game-Do you recall, did you see, the game with the big round, did you play?”
“Catch,” Considersquickly offered, wondering where this current was coming from. “Yes, the game the humans play by,” he began to quote the analysis the physicist had made, “inducing atmospheric-gravitic parabolic motion in spheres designed to be easily gripable by human appendages.”
“Do you know what that means?” Toucheseagerly demanded.
“I was there the day of the, I believe they called it a baseball game,” he replied sending out a soothing wave of pheromones. “I admit that I could make as little sense of what the humans were doing as anyone, but when they placed the ball on the flat surface and rolled it to me I was able to grip it, and send it to the next participant. My understanding is that humans are simply naturally able to elevate the ‘roll’ game into three dimensions at speeds of around twenty to forty unds per tic. It sounds preposterous I know, but they did safely-”
“Now!” Toucheseagerly interjected. “Just, just go sound, look at, what they are doing now! On the island. Please…”
Toucheseagerly slumped as his finished this request and simply resorted to pointing to the main surveillance hub.
“Of, course, of course,” Considersquickly assured him even as he bounced up and swam at a brisk pace to the node.
It responded quickly to his touch, chirping apologetically that it only had visual information for him when it resolved an image of the island the Undulates had designated for their more complex hazardous waste disposal when they had first arrived.
“Look!” Considerquickly said in a soothing tone. “They have cleared a nice level area for their work. This must be so they don’t … what was the word?”
“Trip,” Toucheseagerly said in a hollow tone.
“Trip over anything,” Considersquickly finished. “That is very mindful of safety.”
“Note they have also cleared the demolition zone of the contained demolition boxes,” Toucheseagerly gestured.
Considersquickly gave an uneasy hum at that but didn’t feel particularly put out.
“Explosions loose so much force out of the water,” he stated, “and look. They are all wearing their impact armor. Even the ones at more than the safe distance. Surely they are taking every-”
“Please just watch,” Toucheseagerly said in a tried tone.
Considersquickly let his appendages drift to polite attention as he watched the group of five humans interact. He had gotten reasonably good at telling them apart but with only light data and all of the humans encased in detonation armor he had no idea who was who. One stood by the container of explosives, slightly irregular spheres good for blasting habitation nooks in particularly stubborn coral. That human had one of the explosives in his hands and was carefully working the timer controls. A second human stood what looked like several unds away making determined waves of…
“Is that a baseball bat?” Considersquickly asked feeling his appendages stiffening with some unformed dread.
“Yes,” Toucheseagerly intoned.
The console chirped happily as it detected relevant sound information it could supply them. The three humans at the edge of the island had begun to chant. If there were words in the chant Considersquickly didn’t know them, yet the chant had an energizing quality. As if it were a challenge.
The human holding the explosive suddenly hit the timed activation button. In the format the charge was now it would detonate in mere tics. Considerquickly reminded himself firmly that the detonation suits were rated to aborbe the worst of that explosion underwater. Above the surface the human shouldn’t be injured even if the alien didn’t drop the shell. Then the human arranged his body with what was obviously cheerful and friendly challenge even under the muting of the armor. The hand holding the explosive shell began to spin in wide arcs, clearly signaling some intent. The watching humans grew excited, their chanting increased in volume and paces. The human with the, bat, angled his body with some intense intent, the bat secured in the great join of his trunk and arm. Then all the humans moved suddenly. The human with the explosive released it. The human with the bat gave one determined swing, and the explosive detonated, the resulting shock wave producing enough force to shove the humans towards the ground even in the thin firmament above the water.
Considersquickly suddenly understood Toucheseagerly’s frantic confusion. He fully admitted that he had no sounding on what the human were doing.
At the moment the human with the explosives had been knocked down to the ground and was getting back up. The human with the bat was handing it off to one of the three watchers and taking his place outside the detonation area. The human with the explosives staggered to his feet and reached into the container and pulled out another shell. He began twisting the settings.
“That is a violation of...can’t be regulation...that, that can’t be right somehow!” Toucheseagerly flared out with movements a mix of concern and frustration.
“I am quite sure,” Considersquickly said, surprised at how calm his own gestures were, “that there is no regulation against inducing atmospheric-gravitic parabolic motion in spheres designed to be easily gripable by human appendages. We checked after the baseball game.”
On the display the second explosive once more miraculously altered position and detonated high in the air to the delighted noises of the humans. Considersquickly pulled a word out of their noise and felt it against a memory.
“The human with the bat is the batter,” he said slowly. “Those movements are batting practice.”
“With balls!” Toucheseagerly gestured with a lurch. “Balls! They are supposed to use balls, not – not - ”
“Toucheseagerly,” Considersquickly interjected, he did not want his quartermaster to grown anymore incoherent than he was. “Thank you for bringing this, explosive batting practice to my sounding depth. Please go to the base medic and inform him to prepare for strained mammalian muscles.”
Toucheseagerly visibly relaxed now that he had something to do and slouched off towards the medical coves. Considersquickly turned his attention back to where the central human, the ‘pitcher’ if he recalled the game terms correctly, was preparing the next explosive shell. All his training flowed towards stopping this. However these were fully developed, sapient beings with no, rather no other sign of mental disturbance, than deliberately detonating high-grade explosives for an obviously recreational game. For now he would simply, consider.
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What does it mean when your human friend says “Watch This?”? Why does this simple phrase seem to terrify any alien that has first appendage experience with humans? #HFY #HumansAreWeird #HumansAreSpaceOrcs #EarthIsADeathWorld #EarthIsSpaceAustralia
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