Fifth Sister was sorting the various bandage volumes when Forty-three Trills flew into the medical ward and landed on a shelf above her with an exaggerated sigh. As he didn’t signal for her attention she continued slipping the tubes into their assigned slot.
It was very useful she mused. That the liquid bandages were so versatile. Save for a few rare humans with overactive immune systems the carbohydrate mix was an excellent source of protection for most injured membranes. She had just finished slotting the plain tubes into the storage area and had begun to arrange the nutrient additions by target species when Forty-three Trills emitted another loud sigh and flung himself chest down across the shelf so that his head was in her view, but as his binocular eyes were pointed at the comparative anatomy chart on the wall she continued her task. When he flipped over on his back and proceeded to emit another sigh she closed the cabinet and turned her center of mass to face him.
“Can I help you with something Forty-three Trills?” She asked.
He gave another sigh and flipped over, crossing his winghooks under his chin and staring at her with what she assumed was a sad expression.
“Do Shatar have built in transport pouches?” he asked in a tone that was noticeably too high for the human staff to hear.
“In our environmental suits of course,” she replied. “However in our daily clothing we only wear a wrap to cover our reproductive core and there is not sufficient structural integrity to support transport pouches. So, no.”
She did not inform him that most Shatar made the choice to avoid the stronger wraps for the explicit purpose of keeping Winged and Trisk from asking for transport. Pointing out his species’s general rudeness wasn’t something to do when a patient was obviously emotionally depressed.
“You probably wouldn’t understand then,” the Winged said, rolling over on his back with another sigh.
“Are you emotionally distressed Forty-three Trills?” she asked.
It was obvious that he was, but she had found that illustrating her own ignorance was usually the best way to get an alien talking about a sensitive subject.
“A wings thickness,” he admitted as he began to gloomily groom his sensory horns.
“Would you like to inform me of the reason?” Fifth Sister asked.
“I think one of the humans is angry with me,” Forty-three trills said.
“What do you base this observation on?” she asked. “Has the human behaved aggressively towards you?”
“No,” the Winged went on in a sad tone. “He just blocked me.”
The Shatar was confused and covered it by flicking her dabber out to clean her eyes quickly.
“He prevented you from accessing his non-emergency communications account?” she asked.
“No,” the Winged went on. “He physically blocked me.”
The Shatar strained to bring the lines together.
“I do not understand,” she said.
The Winged gave a long drawn-out sigh that expanded him to nearly half again his size and flopped over a few times to arrange his wings.
“Over the course of the past few weeks he has been filling his pelvic transport pouches with various small items,” the Winged explained. “It was interesting at first. Then it was awkward. Today it reached the point that I could no longer fit inside with all of the collected items. It is fairly clear that he is upset with me for something I have done to offend him.”
The Winged suddenly leapt up and began darting around the room chittering in distress. The Shatar watched him in concern for a time, tilting her triangular head from side to side to keep him in her field of vision. Meanwhile she had her fingers busily with her data pad, pulling up one of the psychological files on humans she recalled from her training. When he had burned off enough of his distress he fluttered back to the shelf.
“I just wish I knew what I had done to offend him,” he said with a tired little chirp. “You know how important social presence is to us winged and with only a wings worth on the base, and none of us from the same flight, human transport pouches are just about the closest thing to home we have.”
“Are you quite certain that this behavior has anything to do with you or your behavior?” she asked.
“What else could it be?” the Winged demanded. “Nothing has changed on the base environment to alter his behavior.”
“Save that he has been the only human on the base for some time since the geological expedition left for the northern hemisphere,” Fifth Sister said. “Perhaps this might be a symptom of his hording instinct activating due to the stress of isolation. I have heard of such things.”
“Do you think?” the Winged asked, perking up immediately.
“I think it would be best if you opened a line of communication directly with him,” Fifth Sister stated firmly. “However I have heard of this process of slowly filling your pockets with the accumulation of interesting objects you find during the day.”
“It does appear to be a collection of shiny things,” Forty-three Trills observed. “It is mostly broken bolts and scraps of the reflective covers. Humans do have an odd affinity for shiny things.”
“That is common in species that depend on open water for hydration,” she affirmed. “However my literature suggest that such a manifestation of this was limited to children. If it is the same respons it seems to be inadvertent and he might respond to a simple question.”
Forty-three Trills nodded slowly even as his kinetics became more energetic as his mood rose.
“I will ask him,” he said. “Thank you for the analysis Fifth Sister.”
She flicked her frill in acknowledgment and resumed sorting the additives as the Winged left the room. She did not choose to share the information with the Winged but reversion to childhood behaviors was often a sign of stress. She wondered if the human required the medically recommended application of snuggles and who on the base would be the best to provide them.