For a species that held the record for the greatest centralized mass of any know sapient humans were sometimes extremely difficult to find. Rolls-slowly pulled out his data unit and pressed it into one of the communications nodes. He sent out the inquisitive hum and again received the negative reply.
“So the human,” Rolls-slowly said to no one in particular, “is on the base-“
“Or at least his data unit is,” offered a passing scientist.
“This world might not be as hostile to them as it is to us,” Rolls-slowly protested, “but Human Friend Steve is very cold sensitive. He would not have left the base.”
“Your only options are to wait for his dedicated nutrient ingestion time and catch him at the commissary node, or search the expanded vessels yourself,” offered a passing researcher.
“I suppose,” Rolls-slowly grumbled as he started swimming briskly along.
He rose against the gravity and nudged against the permeable area. The coral parted and he slipped out into the current that ran through the center of the vessels used by the human visitors. He drifted with the current, a ridge of appendages raised into the atmosphere to observe the human. He had searched nearly the entire enlarged area before he sensed the taste of a human in the water. He followed the chemical gradient, dropping his appendages to swim more quickly. So he saw the oddly lumpy locomotion appendages the humans used to walk dangling in the water. Rolls-slowly felt a flicker of nervousness as he realized that the humans scent glands were giving off stress pheromones. He surfaced and climbed up onto the shelf beside the human.
“What? Rolls?” The human’s voice was slurred with nutrient intake and his skin flushed with stress.
He had quickly dropped his hand back behind his center of mass in an odd gesture.
“Are you well Human Friend Steve?” Rolls-slowly asked.
“Well? Sure! Yeah! I’m great!” Human Friend Steve replied.
His lips peeled back revealing his broad, coral-like teeth. The gesture also drew Rolls-slowly’s attention to the biomatter smeared across the human’s lips.
“Very well,” Rolls-slowly replied. “There is something on your face.”
Human Friend Steve’s hand came up from behind him to brush at his face. Rolls-slowly noted the object clutched in the human’s hands.
“Human Friend Steve,” Rolls-slowly said in surprise. “I thought you had a negative reaction to foods bearing bovine lactate protein.”
Human Friend Steve’s eyes twitched and various shades of irritation and shame washed up and down his face.
“I am,” he finally said with a long exvent of his lungs.
“Why are you ingesting something you know will harm you?” Rolls-slowly asked in shock.
Human Friend Steve fixed his eyes on Rolls-slowly without blinking as defiance flushed across his skin. He deliberately lifted the nutrient solid to his lips, placed it in his mouth, and took a bite. He slowly masticated the nutrients and then swallowed. When he finally replied his voice was already husky with a buildup of protective mucus.