“Be careful!” Quilx’tch called out.
Called out too late, he realized sadly as the delicate sample container fell out of his assistant’s manipulators, rolled to the edge of the work surface and teetered for a moment on the edge of the abyss. It caught the diffuse light of the lab one last time and fell over the edge to shatter on the floor.
“I am sorry!” His assistant blurted out. “Oh, we only have two left after this. I am so sorry.”
“Still your mandibles,” Quilx’tch said letting his thorax slump to the floor. “I should have secured it to the wall. This is my responsibility.”
His assistant was still keeping his legs tight to his body in a display of stress.
“Please relax,” Quilx’tch said, reaching over to stroke his assistant’s dorsal line. “This is just the sort of thing you have to learn to deal with when working on human sized bases.”
“We will have to clean up the broken shards,” his assistant said so quietly Quilx’tch barely concealed it.
“Yes, best do that before the human sees the-” Quilx’tch began.
“Hey lil’ buddies!” a third voice startled them. “I heard a crash. Everything okay?”
“I dropped a large sample container,” the assistant said, raising his voice so the human could hear him.
The human’s face suddenly lit up with pleasure. Quilx’tch refused to let his legs tighten in irritation. He could sense the confusion in his assistant but didn’t bother explaining. The consequences would become obvious soon enough.
“Was it one of the ones with the pressure sensing lids?” the human asked eagerly.
“It was,” the assistant confirmed.
“And you can’t use the tops on other containers right?” the human continued.
“That is true,” the assistant said. “We will recycle it.”
“Can I have it then?” the humans asked. “I’ll help you clean up the mess.”
“I see no issue with that arrangement,” the assistant said eagerly, “if you have a use for it.”
The assistant turned to Quilx’tch and his mentor waved a manipulator in acceptance.
“Sweet!” the human began to bustle around the room cleaning up the shattered container.
“What does he need the pressure sensor for?” the assistant asked Quilx’tch.
“Ask him yourself,” Quilx’tch suggested as he turned back to his work. “I am going to fetch a new container and the securing cables.”
The assistant approached the edge of the work surface and called out to the human.
“What are you going to use the pressure sensor for?” the assistant asked.
The human grinned down at the assistant while dumping the shards into a recycling container. He lifted up the lid, the entire thing fit easily across two of the human’s fingers. He placed his thumb on the mechanical pressure sensor and depressed it with a loud click. The assistant tilted his head to the side in confusion. The human grinned and began depressing the sensor rapidly. The assistant stared in confusion at the clearly amused human for some time before speaking again.
“Why are you doing that?” he asked.
“It’s fun!” the human said brightly. “I used to have one of these as a kid. Got it off a drink bottle. Thanks again little bud.”
The human strolled out, whistling and followed by a rapid-fire clicking. The assistant turned back to where Quilx’tch was wrestling the new container into place, confusion in every joint.
“Don’t ask me,” Quilx’tch said. “Now come help me secure this one.”