“That cannot be correct,” Spins Madly stated firmly.
“Those were my observations,” Twistunder replied just as firmly.
“This makes no sense,” Spins Madly insisted. “It is the most basic genetic tenant. It is not restricted to sentient beings. It applies to every organism, no matter how deaf or simple they are.”
“I am aware,” Twistunder said.
He slumped into a loaf as he waited for the officer to finish ranting. This had become a rather distressing habit of his commanding officers since they had begun interacting with humans. With the majority of his appendages hidden under his greater mass he began flicking though his data again. After all he might have been wrong. It was certainly a more productive use of his time than listening to Spins Madly detail how ridicules human behavior was.
There were few examples of the stimulus unfortunately. There was the archaic visual representation set in a primitive culture, a more advanced visual representation set in a more advanced culture, and of course the written version of an oral retelling of an actual scientific finding. Fortunately there were as many reaction moments as there were humans who had been exposed to the few stimuli. Even more fortunately every human seemed not only willing but eager to expose themselves. Twistunder had displayed the data several different ways by the time Spins Madly caught on.
“Will you feel this?” Spins Madly demanded.
“I really don’t mean to,” Twistunder bluntly stated. “Sound this. I am keenly aware of how strange this data is. Feel me, I didn’t want to believe my observations myself at first.”
“But this is how it is,” Spins Madly finished with a slump.
“Now we have two choices here,” Twistunder said. “We can tighten up over this and stealthfully observe the humans for more data. Or we can just ask the nearest human.”
“I think Quartermaster Smith is experiencing a time of low responsibility at the moment,” Spins Madly said after a moment.
“Let’s go then,” Twistunder said.
They scooted off of the table and dropped down to the floor. Quartermaster Smith was indeed experiencing a time of low responsibility. He was stretched out on the floor rising and falling in a steady rhythm. Twistunder was under the impression that this had something to do with maintaining their core strength but he wasn’t sure. The human noted their entrance with a brief nod. Counted to ten and then leapt into a standing position.
“What’s up lil dudes?” Quartermaster Smith asked cheerfully. “Can I get you some travel pods?”
“We have a question about some data we gathered,” Spins Madly stated.
“And you are asking me science type questions because?” Quartermaster Smith said, tilting his head to the side and raising one eyebrow.
“You were the closest human and we were lazy,” Twistunder replied.
“Sounds legit,” Quartermaster Smith said. “Ask away.”
“Please do not take offense,” Twistunder began.
“Oh,” Quartermaster Smith arched both eyebrows as he interrupted to fling his massive frame into a chair. “This is gonna be good.”
“But why, when watching emotional stimulating entertainment, do humans show more emotional reaction to the suffering of the domestic animal you call dogs than to the suffering of your fellow humans?” Twistunder asked bluntly.
Quartermaster Smith’s entire body lapsed into an expression of shock and then tightened into one of thoughtful confusion.
“We do,” he said slowly, “don’t we?”
“I take it you were not aware of the phenomenon,” Spins Madly observed with a tired groan.
“Naw,” the human replied shaking his head. “Well, I mean at least I did, but I’d never thought about it before. Weird.”
“There is notably the story of the dog you call Hachi,” Twistunder began.
He was interrupted by a loud sniffle from the human. Already the patterned skin was flushing with grief and stress.
“He was such a good boy,” Quartermaster Smith whispered.