The warm sandy floor of the base slid under Commander Gudeon’s belly scutes as he sniffed down the corridor looking for whatever officer fulfilled the rank of base psychologists. The artificial radiation generators that provided both visible light and their ultraviolet needs made the sand and the rock of the walls sparkle warmly, invitingly. These hallways invited one to linger. They were a far cry from the unnaturally smooth flooring the humans preferred. Commander Gudeon felt, not for the first time, a roll of gratitude in his stomachs that the bipeds didn’t mind the sand flooring too much and only insisted on a few critical areas being slick enough to not interfere with their walking patterns. His thoughts cycled round to his primary goal and he sniffed the air, confirming that his target was in the next room. He pushed open the bizarrely tall door and nosed into the room.
“Medical Officer Garners,” Commander Gudeon began his sentence carefully, respectfully only to have it cut off like an impertinent weed.
“No!” Medical Officer Garners snapped, clicking his teeth together with an entirely unnecessary display of aggression.
Commander Gudeon blinked slowly at him and pondered his next move. The issue at claw was not one he felt he could ignore. Quite frankly he doubted anyone on the base, including the other humans, could ignore the massive biped swaying back and forth across the communications hub.
“No?” Commander Gudeon settled on a simple interrogative.
Medical Officer Garners had been on this base nearly since it’s inception. He had seen every one of the crew arrive and was solely responsible for their health. It would be both foolish and impertinent to question his judgment. A blatant display of a strong desire to learn however might both satisfy his uneasy curiosity and placate the medical officer’s clear irritation at the interruption.
Medical Officer Garners sighed and rubbed his clenched claws over his eye-ridges.
“No,” he said, but in a calmer tone and with no teeth clashing. “There are no aerial predators circling the base.”
Commander Gudeon blinked again as he tried to process that. Before he could respond Medical Officer Garners heaved an even deeper sigh and went on.
“I have checked and double checked the readouts. I had security check the readouts. I sent our keenest eyed human, that would be-” he checked a note he had scratched down beside his terminal, “Private Hersh around the mountain peak to check for aerial predators. Twice.”
Medical Officer Garners glared at Commander Gudeon defiantly as if expecting him to demand yet another scan and fully prepared to refuse to do one.
“Very well,” Commander Gudeon said slowly, cautiously, “that in the bin for the moment, I had a personnel question.”
It was now Medical Officer Garners turn to blink, and his glittering old eyes made the action more than a little comical. Commander Gudeon had to fight back an amused flick of his tongue. Whatever was itching the medical officer’s scales it wouldn’t do to antagonize the older and more experienced officer. Especially as this was Commander Gudeon’s first week on the new base. With a more tired sigh Medical Officer Garners gave a brief nod.
“What is your question?” he asked.
“I want to know what is distressing Private Evans,” he stated. “She is-”
“Pacing up and down the communications hub, yes, yes,” Medical Officer Garners said with a sigh. “I don’t know if I should be glad that you didn’t just lick the assumption about the flying predators or disturbed that you didn’t know that was a likely possibility yet.”
“But you just assured me that there were no flying-” Commander Gudeon began, more than a little confused.”
“Yes, yes,” Medical Officer Garners snapped, “but there might have been. You need to be mindful of that.”
“I believe that is the purpose of the armor we wear when we go out?” Commander Gudeon hazarded. “The scales with the spikes on the back, but I was inside all morning-”
“Private Evans is preparing for a confrontation with a superior officer,” Medical Officer Garners interjected. “The pacing, that lumbering back and forth like she is going to fall over is how she personally expends the excess stress hormones in order to calm herself enough to preform the stressful task.”
His piece said the medical officer turned back to whatever task he had been doing. Commander Gudeon ground that mass of information over in his teeth, setting the disturbing prevalence of avians large enough to eat you to the side for the moment. That was why they had humans after all.
“Is there some situation on the base that she finds unsafe?” he asked.
Medical Officer Garners glared at him a moment and then clicked his teeth in a negative.
“Did this superior offend her in any way?” Commander Gudeon tried again.
“She is applying for a merit based promotion,” Medical Officer Garners cut in.
Commander Gudeon frowned.
“Does the comman-” he began.
“The commanding officer has a perfectly smooth relationship with Private Evans,” Medical Officer Garners stated. “It is past due time that she applied for this promotion. It is nearly a given that she will receive the promotion. She is doing so at the explicit recommendation of various ranking officers. There is every reason to believe that the confrontation will be perfectly acceptable to both humans.”
“Then why is Private Evans-” Commander Gudeon tried to ask, but Medical Officer Garners whipped around and shoved his nostrils forcibly against the commander’s.
“I. Don’t. Know!” Medical Officer Garners snapped out.
Commander Gudeon crept back just a scale’s width and was relieved at least to see that Medical Officer Garners looked a little embarrassed. Commander Gudeon cleared his sinuses a bit too loudly.
“But you imply that her behavior has convinced the rest of the base that they are in danger of being eaten by predators,” he said, a shaft clicking into a gear in his mind.
“Her stress indicators are apparently the same for murderous avains and promotion interviews,” Medical Officer Garners stated with an exasperated flick of his tail.
“Should we confront her on the disturbance?” Commander Gudeon asked.
“That is your snort,” Medical Officer Garners stated. “I will say that this is her recognized stress coping mechanism and the deadline for submission is in a few hours so we shouldn’t have to deal with this for long.”
Commander Gudeon thought back to the sound of the pacing human’s footfalls filling the communications hub and gave a long sigh of his own. Medical Officer Garners gave a dry rattling chuckle.
“Welcome to a mixed species base hatching,” he said. “Settle in soon.”
Please go and leave a new rating and review on my 2nd book!
Barnes & Noble
Google Play Books
Kobo By Rakuten
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
Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 180 reviews and ratings! If you bought the book and enjoyed it, it would really help me out if you leave a quick star rating on Amazon. A review would be great but just stars would be a huge boost *****!
QUICK NOTE: RE: everyone who asked. The book is avaliable in Amazon regions US-UK-DE-FR-ES-IT-NL-JP-BR-CA-MX-AU-IN. HOWEVER The above link only takes you to the US Amazon site. The one indicated by the .com ending. If it says "not avaliable in your country" that just means that you need to click over to your Amazon region.
Of course if you want a signed first edition you can email me at the email on my website and I can ship you a signed Author copy of the first edition for the same price as the crowdfunding campaign $35 domestic and $60 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.