“I apologize for interrupting you,” First Mother said, uncurling one antenna to get the attention of the Trisk on the other side of the holo-link, “but could you repeat the accusation?”
“You subordinate has been running an illicit smuggling operation,” Tisk’krt repeated slowly and carefully.
“Second Brother!” First Mother said, her frill limp with shock.
“It is hard to believe,” Tisk’krt said with sympathy in the set of his eight legs. “Especially of such an experience ecologist.”
“He is always so careful about contamination,” First Mother said, oscillating her head in confusion. “And he knows the regulations so well! Has he given any defense for his actions?”
“Eyes.” Tisk’krt stated.
First Mother tilted her head to the side as she waited for the rest of the sentence. None came.
“Eyes?” She asked, parting her antenna in curiosity.
The Trisk commander slumped.
“Perhaps you should view the recording for yourself,” he said.
First Mother flicked her antenna in agreement and the holo-link dissolved and resolved into an image of Survey Core Ranger, Ecologist Stephen Bryce, Second Brother to his friends. He was standing in a posture of forced openness humans displayed when trying to convince another of the lack of danger in a situation that was clearly dangerous. In his hands he held a creature of slightly larger mass than a Winged.
“And why?” demanded the recorded voice of Tisk’krt, “did you risk contamination, subvert protocol, and endanger your position on this world in order to smuggle these creatures out to other humans?”
“They’re harmless-“ Second Brother interjected.
To First Mother’s shock the Trisk actually interrupted the human.
“We have established that you do not have enough data to confirm that claim!” Trsk’krt nearly snapped. “Why did you do it?”
The human seemed to struggle with the answer, and then finally lifted the creature so the camera focused on its face.
“The eyes!” Second Brother said in a deeply earnest tone. “Look at those giant, deep eyes!”
“Oh,” First Mother drooped as the beginning of understanding caused her frill to flutter in a mix of sympathy and irritation.
“Do you have an explanation?” Trsk’krt asked eagerly as the holo-link switched back to him.
“I suspect I do,” she admitted carefully. “You see when I was stationed with Second Brother I was still only First Sister.”
The Trisk commander waved a gripping leg for her to continue.
“My homing instinct hit me at full strength cycles sooner than I expected,” she went on. “So Second Brother and I had many conversations about mating age and sexual development while I was waiting for transport to the garden my sisters had prepared for me and he who would be the First Father. Second Brother told me many things about the similar human instinct codes. I hesitate to make an absolute statement.”
She paused to gather her thoughts.
“But that creature,” she said, “displays significant neonatal signals by human standards, and I suspect Second Brother might have been made susceptible to that by his – I believe they call it a biological clock.”
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.