Inside the great barn in the human ungulate reproduction center on Tau Alpha the temperature was the regulation standard. Humidity was a bit higher than usual as the filters struggled to pull water out of the air faster than the exterior environment drifted in, but was within safety regulations. Outside, the temperature was marginally greater than the freezing point of pure water and the humidity had been well over one-hundred percent for days.
Disrupts The Gradient shifted uneasily in his foul tasting biomass and tried to be grateful for his situation. He had been warned of the dangers of the environment on this planet. The predators that had greedily eaten nearly a tenth of his initial biomass before he had formulated the correct chemical defense had been entirely expected and he had factored the loss into his calculation. At least he thought he had. He had never actually lost mass to predation before, at least not on any noticeable level. He had spawned on one of the old colonies, where every defense was already known and he had since traveled on the great transports with thriving healthy ecosystems that regularly merged with other thriving ecosystems. The discomfort of being eaten had been far, far, more distracting than he had anticipated.
Then the planet’s dry cycle had hit him just as the predation was worse. He supposed he should have moved into the humans’ offered refuge then, but he had been so certain that his problems would be solved as soon at the wet season came. Of course the dehydration had been solved. The rain had brought a local fungal growth that had nearly starved him out and had lowered his mental capacity to nearly unacceptable levels. If the local human hadn’t had a solid understanding of fungal growth patterns he might have been in serious trouble, but she had, and she had insisted on his moving his primary mass under the horribly sterile tasting but elevated and sheltered soil of her main barn before the rains hit really bad, as she called it.
Disrupts the Gradient pulled his mass a little closer to his center as he picked through his sopping memories of the time. He hadn’t wanted to creep under the foul tasting barn, but he had had just enough mental power left to be polite and he had moved his central mass, leaving almost half of himself in the desiccated, but sweet tasting grasslands. Then the flood had come and he had felt himself be torn to shreds. He had managed to salvage a good bit of that mass and pull it to the half under the welcome safety of the artificial high ground and the equally artificial chemical composition of the barn but he had lost a lot of mass nonethless.
The door opened, interrupting his pondering, and two young humans tramped in, carrying waterproof bags full of heavy items. There were muttering eagerly to each other and seemed to have entirely forgotten his presence as they walked over to the dry biomatter storage piles and began rearranging the, straw, he believed it was called. They created what was clearly a resting depression and spread several blankets over it. Then they positioned a light projector over and behind the place, stacked several woody fiber books beside them, tucked a thermal storage container down in the straw with several cups and then proceed to burrow down into the comfortable pile they had made.
Disrupts the Gradient suddenly found himself deeply curious for the first time in many weeks. These were young humans, full of animal life and energy. Their personal favorite activity he knew, was simply running, not for any purpose or vector goal, just going out onto the wide flatlands that surrounded their spawnpoint and forcing their motile fibers to propel them at fantastic speeds along the surface. Their second favorite activity was finding any body of water deep enough to encompass their mass and move as fast and they could through it. It was true that like all such creatures they had to pay for their energy expenditure with a diurnal rest cycle, but it was currently what the humans called noon, the peak of their activity cycle. What were two healthy young humans doing composting at high noon?
A projected entertainment began to play across the wall. At least Disrupts the Gradient assumed it was one. Animal light projections were so difficult for him to process, even before he had suffered the mass loss. However he was able to recognize the artificial voices and music coming from the speaker. The two humans seemed to be paying little attention to it, focusing more on the wood fiber and mineral spread data storage they had brought with them and occasionally reaching out to take in small amounts of the heated liquid in their thermal storage cylinders. Disrupts the Gradient grew more curious over their behavior and gave his center of mass a rustle. That didn’t seem to get their attention so he made the effort to mound up and flexed his sound producing fibers.
The humans emitted a collective squawk and thrashed around a bit before sitting up and fixing their eyes on him.
“Skreek! Disrupts the Gradient!” the older of the two exclaimed. “I forgot you were in here!”
“We’re not disturbing you are we?” the younger one asked. “We can leave if you like.”
“Not disturbing me,” Disrupts the gradient assured them. “Have questions.”
The two, siblings, he thought their relationship was called, glanced at each other and grinned. He vaguely recalled knowing more about them before the floods.
“Ask away!” The older one said.
“Why here?” Disrupts the Gradient asked.
Forming words with his damaged tendrils was painful, but the more he used them now the faster he would regain the ability.
“We’re here because it is music lesson time in there,” the younger sibling said pointing towards the main house. “I love music, now, but ten cousins learning the recorder on mass printed pipes.”
The human shuddered dramatically.
“It’s torture,” the older human said with a dramatic flourish of long hair. “We escaped out here.”
“Why not move?” Disrupts the Gradient asked.
The two frowned at him and then at each other.
“Do you mean why don’t we go live somewhere else?” one asked.
“No,” Disrupts the Gradient replied, and tightened his tendrils, “why not go out and play?”
They stared at him without making any sounds for several long drawn out moments before the older one emitted a sound somewhere between a cough and a laugh.
“It’s 34 degrees and pouring rain!” the older human said.
“That is the worst weather know to humanity!” the younger one added.
“The worst!” agreed the older. “There is nothing you can do when it’s that cold and wet.”
“Play in colder,” Disrupts the Gradient pointed out.
“We play in snow,” the older one said. “That’s different.”
“Play in cold water up north,” Disrupts the Gradient tried again.
“The water was cold yeah,” the younger one said, “but we had wetsuits and stuff and the air was nice and warm then.”
“Humans just don’t do thirty-four and pouring rain,” the older one said. “Too warm to freeze the water, but so cold that getting wet hurts.”
“Nope,” the younger human said, shaking a scruffy head, “nothing to do on a day like today but hole up with a good book.”
Appearing to think that this sufficient explanation the two burrowed back down into their nests and resumed composting their data. Disrupts the Gradient also relaxed his state and pondered what he had been told. It made no sense at the moment, but hopefully it would once he had regrown his mass.
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What does it mean when your human friend says “Watch This?”? Why does this simple phrase seem to terrify any alien that has first appendage experience with humans? #HFY #HumansAreWeird #HumansAreSpaceOrcs #EarthIsADeathWorld #EarthIsSpaceAustralia
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