“Have you observed the new human yet?” Flipsalong demanded as she rounded the corner of the flowway.
“Nice to brush against you too,” Twistunder replied.
Flipsalong gave a full body shimmy of embarrassment and made a show of trying to droop her gripping appendages in apology.
“No,” Twistunder finally said, taking pity on the eager young University student. “I have not seen our new guest yet.”
“She has extra appendages!” Flipsalong declared.
“The ambassador is deformed?” Twistunder asked in shock.
“I don’t think so,” Flipsalong said. “It is a perfectly healthy looking appendage. Or it might be three held in a twine for transport. I am not sure.”
Some dim memory of a conversation with one of his Ranger friends bubbled up in Twistunder’s awareness.
“And where on her body is this extra appendage?” He asked.
“It comes of the back of her,” Flipsalong paused and trembled as she visibly tried to think of the term. “You know, the primary sensory end. With the organs.”
“Ah,” Twistunder nodded as it started to loosen in his thoughts. “Off the back of her head. And is the detached end constrained by a cloth band?”
“Yes!” Flipsalong declared. “Do you know what the appendage is?”
“I am not sure it is an appendage, exactly,” Twistunder said slowly.
“Oh,” Flipsalong drooped in disappointment. “Just an ornamental attachment then?”
“No, no,” Twistunder said. “You probe, you have only touched Rangers and University professors yet I assume?”
“That is correct,” Flipsalong said. “How does that connect?”
“Rangers,” Twistunder said. “Follow a strict policy of grooming. As do most researches who will have to expect to be in an environmental suit. They keep their mammalian fur at a regulation length that will not interfere with the fit of an air tight helmet.”
“That is well known,” Flipsalong agreed, “but how does it connect?”
“Human fur has no standard growth length,” Twistunder explained. “It continues to lengthen until it reaches each individuals genetic maximum. That is why humans are so strict about their length regulations.”
“Wait?” Flipsalong raised a gripping appendage in shock. “You meant that massive appendage is just a compressed mass of sensory tendrils?”
“It isn’t painful I assure you,” Twistunder said, reading the horror in the set of her appendages. “Human fur has no live nerves once past the membrane.”
“So it serves no sensory purpose?” Flipsalong asked.
“A very limited one at best,” Twistunder said.
“Does it offer greater radiation or thermal regulation than the standard Ranger length?” Flipsalong asked.
“I do not believe so,” Twistunder replied.
Flipsalong curled into what the humans called a thinking loaf and pondered this.
“Then why would a human maintain such a mass of useless tendrils?” Flipsalong demanded.
“Perhaps we should ask the ambassador,” Twistunder offered. “Though you might want to rephrase that question in the interest of diplomacy.”
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.