“The last shipment of feed was contaminated,” Human Friend Ellen announced as she joined them at the table.
The gathering of Trisk turned towards her in varying degrees of annoyance and perturbation. One the one leg that was a very concerning state of events for the complication plagued research station. On every other leg, Human Friend Ellen had worked with the Trisk for more than long enough to know and respect their taboos on interrupting. However as she slung her leg over the bench her bi-focal gaze was fixed grimly on the tablet she had dropped on the surface. Grs’tkr mimicked a sigh to the best of his ability and took the situation in his gripping appendages.
“We would appreciate the details of that statement,” Grs’tkr said.
“It’s the grains for the fluffel bums,” Human Friend Ellen said. “A silicate fungus got past the quarantine somehow. Seventh Sister discovered it while it was still in quarantine so it hasn’t affected our existing stores but we don’t dare use any of the shipment now. It’s jumped three bulkheads that we’ve seen so we have to assume that the whole shipment is contaminated.”
The table fell into silence as the gathered agricultural experts considered this. Half of them were clearly bristling at Human Friend Ellen’s rudeness. Finally Grs’tkr spoke.
“Human Friend Ellen,” he said in careful tones, “I have a question.”
“No, we can’t feed it to the fluffel bums anyway,” she interjected. “The fungus won’t kill them but the build up over time will cause impaction in their guts.”
“But Human Friend Ellen,” Grs’tkr tried again.
“And we could try sprouting the so-far-untouched grains but we think that will only increase the growth rate for the fungus,” Human Friend Ellen went on.
The gathered Trisk waited for her to gather her thoughts, watching her will all of their forward facing eyes. Humans really were a force of nature. Nothing stopped them. Finally Grs’tkr spoke, firmly and quickly.
“Human Friend Ellen! What is a fluffel bum?” he demanded.
“Huh?” Human Friend Ellen stared at him and blinked a few times.
“What is a fluffel bum?” Grs’tkr asked.
“You know,” Human Friend Ellen said with a vague wave in the direction of the coops. “The chickens.”
“If you meant the chickens,” Grs’tkr said carefully, “why did you call them fluffel bums?”
“Just look at ‘em,” Human Friend Ellen said, her face spreading into a grin. “Their bums are like seventy percent fluff!”
The Trisk continued to stare at her waiting for explanation, but her eyes had dropped down to the tablet and she began muttering to herself about desiccants and grain yield.
Thank you all so much for your updoots and feedback. It gives me the will to go on. Want to see more? Think about becoming a Patreon. Tea refuses to buy itself and the more time one has to spend on a day job the less time there is for befuddled aliens.