“It is fascinating because of the very contradictory nature,” Twistsup observed in a muffled tone. “A species that is so vulnerable to oxygen diffusion variables having such specific responses to diving is a beautiful conundrum.”
“Fascinating conundrum my lagging end,” Thrustsunder replied in an equally muffled voice. “It’s useful is what it is. I don’t care how good the absorption spectrum on our drones is we need people down there. Now if only we didn’t have to translate all of their observations from their limited bifocal range we could really began to make progress on the ecological studies.”
“Are you two comfortable?” Human Friend Karoline asked absently as she angled her shoulder to activate the door of the final airlock. “I can really stop to take this stupid suit off if you want.”
“We are fine,” Twistup assured her. “The off gassing does not distress us anymore.”
“Because the material reached the age where it stopped off gassing?” she asked, “or because you are so saturated with the chemical you no longer notice it?”
Both Undulates, each tucked under one of her arms gave an amused wriggle.
“You know very well that we are not susceptible to such weaknesses,” Thurstsunder said to her.
“How you little cuddle mops avoid the law of diminishing returns beats me,” Human Friend Karoline observed as the final airlock hissed out a warning but opened as the override kicked in.
“It is not normal for a sapient species to be able to turn off their warning systems,” Twistup replied, “at least not so quickly.”
“Works for us,” Human Friend Karoline said with a grunt as she lumbered to a halt in the brilliant lights of the main corridor, her feet sloshing in the water.
Here eyes squinted shut as she adapted to the extreme light gradient between the airlock and the main base systems.
“I see that Human Friend Craig has managed to calibrate the spectrum generator,” Twistup observed. “That should help with your sleep patterns.”
Human Friend Karoline blinked painfully up at the light sources on the ceiling and frowned.
“I’ll have to take your word for it little buddy,” she said. “All looks the same to me, but I’m an ecologist, not an engineer.”
“We could probably use a few more engineers,” Thrustsunder observed in a somber tone, drooping his appendages down to the black slurry of water on the corridor floor.
“We’re getting on,” Human Friend Karoline said, shifting him back up so he rested on her hip bone. “Craig says he should have the filters working well enough that you should be able to shuffle along in this stuff before too many weeks is up, and we can still do our research, so as long as you don’t mind being carried places the disaster might as well have not happened.”
“Being carried does not bother me in the slightest,” Twistup said. “However I would protest that the differences in our base before and after the volcanic eruption are far more significant than you seem to imply.”
“Eh,” the humans said with a shrug. “No one died, and it’s not likely to get worse before the supply ship comes and notices that we haven’t updated the satellite array in months. We’re fine.”
Twistup thought about pointing out that being trapped under miles of ocean in a base that was functioning at a fraction of it’s normal capacity was hardly ‘fine’ by any definition of the word, but he suspected that this was the human coping mechanism of denial and was reluctant to disturb it under the circumstances, and what she said was technically true. Still, the humans had been much more proportionately dismayed when the catastrophe had occurred. Somehow, they had just adapted and no longer considered being trapped in a dying base, surrounded by the crushing forces of the depths a problem worth dwelling on.
Human Friend Karoline turned and opened the door to the main living area. This section of the base was flooded as well, but the humans had placed a network of gratings over the water level the straining pumps maintained. Overhead the deep violet water of the ocean planet swirled, glittering with the volcanic particulate matter that plagued their attempts to leave or communicate. The severed surface lift drifted in the currents, now serving nicely as a directional indicator as it could no longer carry the base to the surface miles above.
“Yo little dudes, Carebear,” Human Friend Craig called out from where he was preparing himself some drink.
“Craig,” Human Friend Karoline replied absently as Twistup and Thrustunder waved. “Got their nap pods ready?”
Human Friend Craig indicated the direction of the passive thermal regulation food storage devices the humans had repurposed for the Undulates’ use.
“Red or blue?” Human Friend Karoline asked as she approached.
“Red,” Thurstunder requested.
“As long as we are up I would like to secure my datapad,” Twistup mentioned.
Human Friend Karoline lifted the lid of the red container with her toes and dropped Thurstunder in before turning and placing Twistup on the main counter. Twister shuffled over to his cupboard and pulled out his datapad. He took a moment to make sure he had the proper data downloaded for the research he wanted to do and hummed in dissatisfaction. He was missing several critical human physiology articles he wanted. He knew they had them, but with the central computers crushed beneath a spire of volcanic rock he would have to feel around and find them by social touch. Human Friend Craig was leaning back against the counter taking short sips his drink and Twistup ambled over to the human while keeping most of his attention on making a list of documents to request. Twistup reached the human and noticing that Human Friend Craig was focused on draining the last of his drink and was rather distracted, gave him a nice solid poke in the ribs to get his attention.
Human Friend Craig’s entire body suddenly arched back and then doubled forward, his hands slapping down to brace themselves on the grating. His central mass began to spasm and he released a series of utterly alien sounds that weren’t entirely unrelated to the ones the filters made when they began to overload with volcanic debris. Human Friend Craig was clearly in distress, his face flushed with the stress colors that indicated oxygen deprivation in a human, however Human Friend Karoline seemed more amused than concerned.
“You use the other tube for water idiot,” she said cheerfully watching Human Friend Craig, who was now slapping the grating with the palm of his hand, sending resounding tremors through the room.
“Is Human Friend Craig in danger?” Twistup asked?
The human in question shook his head, and the noises did seem to be decreasing in intensity.
“What caused that reaction?” Thrustunder asked.
“If I had to guess,” Human Friend Karoline said with a smile, “I’d say that when Twistup poked Craig it startled him and he inhaled when he should have been swallowing. Then the lungs rejected the fluid in favor of some nice tasty gas.”
“I am very sorry!” Twistup said with concern.
Human Friend Craig waved a hand in negation as he staggered to his feet again.
“I’m...fine…” he gasped out. “Breathing...now.”
“How is it possible,” Thrustunder demanded, “that a species with a dedicated diving response is capable of shorting out your survival systems by just attempting to absorb water in internal regulatory amounts?”
Human Friend Craig shrugged, his massive chest still pulsing with the effort to circulate enough air to calm his systems.
“Don’t know,” he said, “but as Memaw used to say when we were watching the baby-”
“A human can drown in a tea cup of water,” Human Friend Caroline interjected.
“Memaw said two tablespoons,” Human Friend Craig corrected her with a laugh. “But this reminds me. I need to check the filters. Peace out little dudes. Choke on your own spittle Carebare.”
Human Friend Karoline held up two of her digits in the symbol for victory or peace as he strode out the door.
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Humans are Weird
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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Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 144 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 $50 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.