The wild mammalian wail resounded through the vines of the recovery garden and First Father set his mandibles in a fixed but hopefully soothing angle to meet this newest bit of madness.
“I just can’t anymore!”
“First Sister?” he said in the Mother language.
His eldest daughter, just finishing her second adult molt stood from where she had been trimming the seeds pods and wiped her hands briskly clean on her apron.
“That is Second Geologist isn’t it?” she asked, tilting her head, already half again as broad as his own, to catch the sound on her long antenna.
“Yes,” he replied absently as his fingers ran up and down seed pod he was examining, feeling the firmness of the fruit within. “Second Geologist is participating in the avian rescue operations in a volunteer capacity.”
“Should I call one of the Aunts with medical clearance?” she asked. Fifth Aunt is very good with humans.”
“I doubt this is a medical issue,” First Father said, letting his antenna curl with amusement. “You can no doubt meet the situation.”
First Sister clicked in agreement and trotted off to see what was the matter. She was gone for several shadow passes and First Father was vaguely aware of the near rhythmic rising and falling of the humans distress calls as Second Geologist explained whatever had disturbed her sense of self control to First Sister. Finally the sounds faded away down the path towards the waste disposal area and First Sister came trotting back with a rather perplexed twitch to one antenna. First Father automatically reached out to sooth the antenna.
“And what was all the flutter about?” he asked.
First Sister hesitated, and carefully tied her apron on before beginning to speak.
“You are aware that the cold bite we had several days ago was a millennium freeze,” she said slowly.
“And what is that?” he asked.
She angled her head in slight annoyance at him, smelling a lesson prompting, but didn’t challenge him directly.
“This world is prone to freezing,” she began, “dropping down below the freezing point of water I mean-”
“The whole world!” First Father said, deliberately stiffening his psudo-frill in a look of shock.
“The parts of the world that are-” she hesitated, clearly struggling with the word habitable, “that are where we like to live are prone to freezes.”
“Usually it doesn’t get cold enough to kill the avians that live out in the water meadows,” she went on, “but every thousand years or so it does. Get cold enough to kill them.”
“All of them?” First Father demanded.
“Gets cold enough to kill a lot of the weaker ones,” she amended as she went back to trimming the seedpods. “That’s why we sent out a call for so many volunteers to help care for the hatchlings.”
“What hatchlings now?” First Father asked.
“You know what hatchlings!” First Sister protested.
First Father cocked his head at her sternly.
“But I need to learn to communicated,” First Sister amended.
She drew in a long breath and focused.
“The avians that live in the watermeadows,” she said slowly, “the swimming ones, lay their eggs and hatch them at the end of the freeze cycle. Usually, it does not get cold enough to endanger the mated pairs who care for the eggs. A few nights ago it did get cold enough and many of the adults died, but they managed to protect their eggs and hatchlings.”
She clicked her mandibles as she worked over what was important enough to include in the retelling.
“Usually we wouldn’t touch the vine patterns outside of our gardens,” she finally decided on, “but the avians will make good domesticated animals and we want a lot of them alive. So if we let these hatchlings die it will mean there won’t be enough for us to gather for our gardens this year and next year. So Aunts are going out and gathering all the hatchlings of the avians that died and making sure they survive to breed next season.”
“Very good!” First Father said, reaching out to pat her head. “That was very understandable! Now, what did that have to do with the human’s distress call?”
First Sister shot an odd look in the direction the human had gone. Her mandibles worked as she thought over the situation she had diffused.
“Humans have a-” she struggled with a word, “very big hatchling brain part.”
First Father couldn’t keep back a click of amusement at that description of the human’s overdeveloped neonatal programming.
“Second Engineer, claimed that hers was over acting and that if she kept trying to feed, and clean, and provide medical care for the hatchlings she would endanger them,” First Sister explained.
“Did she fear that her fingers would fail her?” First Father asked feeling more curious now.
“No,” First Sister said slowly. “It was very, very much a brain thing.”
“A hatchling brain part thing?” First Father asked.
First Sister clicked in agreement. “She said that the hatchlings, especially the ones who had not grown in their adult feathers, were just, ‘too cute’ and if she stayed around them she couldn’t help snuggling them.”
“Mammalian snuggling is very dangerous for pre-domestication avians,” First Father observed.
“She knows that,” First Sister said. “That is why she gave up in the middle of the day. She said the cute was just too much and she couldn’t take it anymore.”
“And how did you resolve the situation?” First Father asked.
“I sent her down to where Fifth Aunt is directing the disposal of the plants killed by the freeze,” First Sister answered. “There is no danger there.”
The garden fell silent as they mused over this.
“Perhaps you should call First Observer in,” First Father finally suggested.
“I will if you think its a good idea,” First Sister said obediently, “but what will that do.”
“First Observer keeps a canine companion with him for protection and moral support,” First Father said. “That should give Second Engineer an outlet for her very big hatchling brain part.”
“I do wish you would tell me what the real word is,” First Sister clicked a bit sullenly.
“You know how to work the dictionary database,” First Father said with an amused set to his antenna, “now go back to the main hive and radio for First Observer.”
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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
Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 180 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 $60 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.