“Oh no, I am quite the drifting strand in my home-reef,” Deeplyconsiders said with a cheerful wriggle of his lagging end. “Data analysis is not a very sought after position by most Undulates.”
“But data analysis is a necessity,” Fourth Brother said in surprise as he gently massaged the core of the stressed undulate. “Second Father says that once a culture progresses far enough that instinct becomes insufficient that every one we know of has developed formal data analysis in some form or another. Even the Gathering, and you know that they almost can do it on instinct, have to preserve data in fibrous networks.”
“Quite, quite,” Deeplyconsiders agreed, emitting a happy vibrating sound he claimed to have learned from a predator species the humans were particularly fond of, “we all had to learn to do it, but very, very few Undulates ever learned to like it. In fact-”
Deeplyconsiders paused in his conversation to flip over and expose his other half to the masseuse's ministrations.
“I do believe that as of the last comparative population productive efforts census we rated as having the lowest rates of native data analysts in the populated galaxy,” he said with a happy hum.
The shallow pool he was in was filled with a liquid that wasn’t water on some technical medical level, but it was the perfect temperature to sooth out stressed appendages and Fourth Brother was a wonder with his fingers. He couldn’t match the controlled power of a human of course but even the most stressed Undulate rarely really needed all that power.
“Well,” Fourth Brother said with a wry click of his mandibles. “If this is the result of pursuit of a career in data analysis it is probably wise of your species to avoid it in general.”
He have a tweak of a particularly stressed portion of Deeplyconsiders core and the Undulate flexed his appendages in a gesture that loosely translated that he couldn’t argue the point.
“Now,” Fourth Brother said, flaring his pseudo-frill a stern yellow, “as this is the fifth appointment you have needed to schedule this cycle I will need to inspect your working area for the situation that is causing this problem. Come now.”
“Oh,” Deeplyconsiders said in a cheerful tone as he slipped down thorough the floor exit, “there is no need for an inspection. I know exactly the problem.”
“Then why do you not resolve it?” Fourth Brother asked.
“The requests are in the order que of course,” Deeplyconsiders gestured up at him from the stream under the solid floor as they moved down the hallway. “The problem is the dry-land computer controls are only rated water resistant. I can drip all over them all I want but I can’t actually submerge them for any length of time. These handy undercurrents aside this base wasn’t really built with Undulates in mind.”
Fourth Bother rubbed his mandibles together thoughtfully. It made sense. In this sector of space the Undulates were newcomers, having arrived several generations after the Humans and Shatar had begun joint efforts. If the necessary equipment were already on the way there was nothing Fourth Brother could really do but it wouldn’t hurt to inspect the workspace anyway. They reached the data analysis shared workspace eventually and Fourth Brother was mildly surprised to see two humans in the area this late in the day. From the way their impossibly broad shoulders hunched over their workstations he speculated that they could both use his services, however he was here for another purpose. Deeplyconsiders indicated his workspace and began to explain how he kept his resting pool just under the data entry surface to avoid accidents.
“Sean,” one human suddenly called out, frustration drawing the rounded vocalized portion of the name out unnaturally. “You need to resend the document!”
“I already sent it,” the other human, presumable Sean, replied in an aggravated tone, “search yer bloody spam clusters!”
“I did,” the first human insisted, his own voice shifting from tones of frustration to tones of aggression. “It isn’t there. You must have forgotten to send it.”
“It’s right here in my sent cluster!” Sean retorted. “I’m looking at it! Check-”
“Fine!” the first human snapped out. “I’ll do it...again.”
Fourth Brother instinctively put a hand down to sooth Deeplyconsiders. Human confrontation was somewhat legendary. He didn’t think that this one was going to get physical, but as the larger sapient he had a duty to grab Deeplyconsiders and run as the nearest portal to the undercurrent was some distance away. However the seconds stretched out and the first human didn’t speak up again. Deeplyconsiders was clearly forming a question gesture when Sean called out.
“Found it, didn’t you?” he asked.
The first human, his voice distinctly less aggressive made an indistinguishable grunt in reply.
“What was that?” Sean asked.
His tone was different as well. Fourth Brother thought he recognized that First Sister had told him was a mocking tone.
“It’s was right where you said it would be,” the first human snapped.
There was another long pause then the first human spoke again in a tight tone.
Sean gave a small chuckle and responded with a word Fourth Brother didn’t know, but his tone was relaxed and the pheromone profile in the room noticeably softened. Whatever that last word was it had soothed the first human’s offense. After another long moment the first human emitted a wry chuckle.
Deeplyconsiders gestured that they should probably remove themselves and Fourth Cousin coiled an antenna in agreement. Once out in the main passage way he tilted his head down to look at the Undulate below him and he flexed his fingers, remembering the stress damage built up in the Undulates fibers.
“Do you think,” Fourth Brother suggested cautiously, “that perhaps your stress is not entirely due to the limitations of your workstation.”
“Well yes,” the Undulate agreed with a depreciating gesture that involved a good third of his appendages, “but what can you do about humans?”
“My First Cousin is the company mediator,” Fourth Brother said with a ripple of his pseudo-frill. “We’ll see what she has to suggest.”
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