Quilx’tch stretched out his motile legs and arched his abdomen deliciously in the soft rays of the afternoon sun. The biting cold of this harsh world had taught him to enjoy the benefits of direct exposure to solar radiation. The light that fell into the small clearing on the banks of the river was just enough to warm him through his joints without burning through the chemical protective layer the humans had taught them to use. That last thought caused the Trisk to stir himself and he shook out his legs lazily before standing. He ambled to the edge of the hat and peered down over the side. The human’s eyes were closed but his primary atmospheric pumps were functioning at a rate that indicated wakefulness.
“Pardon me Mack,” Quilx’tch said. “Could you please hand up the solar protection?”
The eyelids twitched and one massive arm groped out towards the rucksack beside them. Without opening his eyes the human groped around in the top compartment for a moment before pulling out a bottle of the substance and handing it up to Quilx’tch. Quilx’tch accepted it and squeezed a few drops out onto his primary manipulating appendages.
“Need any help with that Bud?” Mack asked with a yawn.
“I do not,” Quilx’tch assured him. “Unlike humans we have full access to our entire surface area.”
“Sure you do,” the human murmured.
They fell into companionable silence and Quilx’tch arranged the bottle on the human’s hat so he could use it as a resting couch. He let his attention wander to the leg-like collection of polymer rods and line that rose from a secure place by the human’s feet and dipped into the water before them. The flotation device bobbed slowly in the minute waves on the water’s surface.
“Mack?” Quilx’tch asked finally.
The human gave a hum that Quilx’tch assumed was permission to continue.
“Are there fish in this river?” Quilx’tch asked.
There was a subtle shifting in the hat that indicated the human had changed his facial expressions without bother to move his head. Quilx’tch supposed it was a smug smile but didn’t bother to check.
“That’s what we’re here to find out, now isn’t it?” Mack replied.
“Did you check the biodiversity density records in the database before we embarked on this expedition?” Quilx’tch asked.
“Nope,” the human said with another yawn.
“Did you hear reports of fish in this area from the teams of Gathering?” Quilx’tch pressed.
“Not a one,” Mack confessed.
“Do you have any reason at all to suppose that there are fish in this river?” Quilx’tch asked.
“Would you be upset if I said no Mr. Nutritional Anthropologist?” Mack asked with the warm tones of a smile filling the air just as the sunlight did.
Quilx’tch pondered this question a moment as he drank in the sparkling water and the soft hum of insect life around them.
“I do not think I would,” he confessed.