Third Quartermaster to Proxima Base was waiting patiently outside of the small, circular door set into the wall of the hallway. The smooth green walls stretched an impressive length in every direction before curving out of sight. The walls were marked with a handful of other door types, most notable the ones that opened into the river that ran under the transparent floor. Third Quartermaster tilted his head to the side in interest when a pale white Undulate swam past. He didn’t suppose there was another Undulate with that odd coloration on the campus so this must be Professor Stiffens, the one who had requested the audit of the soup spoons the other day. Why the Professor of post-contact literature even knew what soup spoons were, Third Quartermaster did not know, but the audit was being duly preformed.
His thread of thought was interrupted when the door spiraled open and First Quartermaster skittered out of his office. The Trisk clicked in surprise and rearranged the unstable stack of data-pads that was threatening to overwhelm his paws.
“Third Quartermaster!” First Quartermaster said. “What brings you here?”
Third Quartermaster waited the polite six seconds as he had been taught before answering.
“We have a meeting about human space requirements,” Third Quartermaster explained.
“Yes,” First Quartermaster said, “I recalled that just as I started the question. Well, do you want to have it in your office or the fishbowl?”
“The fishbowl will need to suffice,” Third Quartermaster said, tilting his triangular head to the side in a rueful gesture. “One of the humans failed to follow quarantine protocol when he received a shipment of a predatory insect species.”
“There are predatory insects loose on the campus?” First Quartermaster demanded.
“They have been successfully confined to my office,” Third Quartermaster said with a reassuring curl of his antenna, “and all the humans assure me that the species is harmless to all known sapient beings.”
“And a bundle of stubble that will do the bio-active research if someone looses a new predator there accidentally,” First Quartermaster grumbled as they entered the glass-sided room which theoretically gave one a full view of the campus center.
In reality a few years of students and facility at the University had coated the walls with layer upon layer of written notes and cleaning marks, turning the once transparent walls almost translucent. It made for a reasonably private meeting place.
“Now, what is the latest problem with our big, friendly mammals,” First Quartermaster asked.
“One could hardly call this the latest problem,” Third Quartermaster said. “I haven’t classified it as a problem yet, and I have been tracking its development since the very first human researcher was sent here from the Earth University.”
“Do go on,” First Quartermaster encouraged him.
“This first human,” Third Quartermaster said. “He was a bi-mechanical systems engineer. When he arrived he had just slightly too much personal gear to fit in the storage containers he had brought. Everything seemed necessary and critical to his functioning so I supplied him with a storage unit for his quarters that was about twice the volume of his original unit.”
“Wise and generous,” First Quartermaster said, patting his paws thoughtfully on the stack of datapads that was still shifting in a way that made Third Quartermaster uncomfortable.
“Approximately two lunar months later I noted that the same situation had developed again,” Third Quartermaster went on. “The human did not complain but as the materials scattered around his quarters was a safety hazard, and again, he seemed to have no non-essentials I doubled his storage containers. This happened a few more times. Therefore when more humans began to be stationed here I elected to integrate closets and shelving units into the quarters.”
He paused and licked at one of his eyes as he considered his next words.
“I had assumed you smell,” he said slowly, “that this first human was simply one of those individuals who, through constantly living in harsh conditions of resource scarcity had adapted to a less than optimal resource conditions and that this had caused him to underestimate the amount of storage space needed for one human.”
“A reasonable assumption based on the evidence,” First Quartermaster said.
“However,” Third Quartermaster went on again. “As each new human arrives they each express satisfaction with the amount of storage space they are allotted. Note that it does not matter how much or little they are given. They all expression initial satisfaction, then they quickly fill the space to capacity and require more. I have the numbers and evidence here.”
First Quartermaster clicked in a tone of puzzlement as he took the data pad from Third Quartermaster and began to examine the data.
“Very curious,” First Quartermaster said. “Yes, I see that you simply cannot allot anymore space to each individual human. There is very little in the way of non-essentials. Very curious. Well.”
First Quartermaster tilted his head to the side finally and looked at Third Quartermaster with a handful of eyes.
“What do you think we should do about this?” he asked.
“A proper investigation into this is warranted,” Third Quartermaster said, gesturing at the information. “I have provided the justifications and have written up a proposal for the proper departments. Until that can be done I have put a stated cap on individual storage space in the University proper with options to contact outside storage facilities.”
“Very good, very good,” First Quartermaster said, approving the measures with a tap of his paw on the data pad. “Do the humans recognize the pattern?”
Third Quartermaster flicked an antenna at him in confirmation.
“They call it goldfishing,” he said. “Though the term does not appear to be culturally universal.”
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