“How are you so good at this?” Five Clicks demanded as he shifted his datapad to the side and peered down from his perch at the Undulate poised, half on the surface of the table, half on the damp stone below it.
The Undulate, Rollstotheleft or something, Five Clicks was still having trouble remembering the names of his new engineering staff, was the only representative of his species at the long, oblong table. Several Shatar comprised the bulk of the crew, mostly cousins under the fifteenth degree under the supervision of a few single digit sisters, lining the table for most of its’ length. Their smooth, dry hands folded the complex shapes necessary for the carry pods and inserted the various supplies with delicate precision. However not even the single digit sisters were making half the time and accuracy that the usually lackadaisical Undulate was. His pile of supplies was the second largest at the table and the inspection flight that Five Clicks fronted for was swooping off on their third trip to the shipment bay.
“I really don’t see why you are so surprised,” the Undulate said as a flowing line of appendages passed a folded packet down the length of his body, tucking in the various supplies as it went before the last appendage dropped the completed item in the pile at his rear.
Although to be perfectly honest Five Clicks had never been able to accurately tell an Undulate’s leading end from his lagging end.
“This is just folding after all,” the Undulate said. “If there is one thing my species is optimized for it is folding.”
“You have no spatial reasoning!” Five Clicks exclaimed.
“Incorrect,” the Undulate stated in a prim tone as he tossed another completed pack onto the pile, “what we lack is the ability to calculate the vectors of incoming projectiles. As soon as an item is in our grasp we have excellent spatial reasoning.”
“Well the humans are still faster,” Five Clicks said with a sigh.
“Yes,” the Undulate in an amused tone, “the three humans are managing to significantly outperform me by combining their efforts.”
Five Clicks sighed again and flitted over to check on the Shatar. A cousin, small by female Shatar standards was meticulously placing a respirator into its assigned fold before reaching for and empty packet that had clearly held a water purifier. She gave a click of distress when she realized it was empty, but before Five Clicks could help her a sister swept up and replaced the pack, only pausing to stroke antenna with the distressed cousin.
“Our Winged friends will be so happy when they get these packs,” the sister said with a hint of pride in her voice. “You are being such a good help!”
The cousin chirped happily and accepted the packet and the caress with good grace. Five Clicks was about to confirm the sister’s statement but the sister tilted her head at him and set her mandibles in a stern angle. Five Clicks backed off. He wasn’t sure exactly why the sisters were so protective of the lesser cousins, but he had learned to respect their fury if you disturbed them. It was a sign of the trust and friendship that existed between the base of Winged and the local hives that they were allowed to meet any cousin past the fifteenth degree at all, let alone that the fathers risked sending them out of the gardens to help with something so stressful. Five Clicks wasn’t going to mess that up by offending an eighth sister.
“The humans,” Five Clicks turned at the soft click and fluttered down to land on the shoulder of the senior sister.
“What about the humans?” Five Clicks asked glancing at his notes, “Ah, Third Sister?”
“Fifth Sister,” she replied dryly, “I was wondering if you had thought to check their hydration and nutrition status?”
Five Clicks squinted up at her.
“As I am neither their medic nor their commanding officer, no, I have not,” he said, wrinkling his nose in confusion.
“It might be worth your efforts,” Fifth Sister said, dislodging him from her shoulder with a shake. “Given the essential and imperative nature of our work the humans are likely to suppress their trained safety protocols.”
Five Clicks tried to make sense of that. He glared over at the three humans hunched over the end of the table. One was folding the packs with the speed of the Undulate, then tossing it to the second who filled it with supplies with the delicacy of the Shatar. The full pack was then passed to the third human who sealed it and stacked it for the Winged to gather.
“And what danger do they need protocols to defend against in a Shatar garden on an established colony world?” Five Clicks asked.
“Dehydration and fatigue strain mostly,” Fifth Sister said. “That and the complications of slips, trips and falls. Once a human gets too fatigued the dangers begin to multiply.”
Five Clicks sighed and fluttered over to the trio. He knew better than to question a warning from a senior sister.
“Human Friend Fred?” he asked.
The human folding the packets glanced up at him and grinned.
“It’s Fiona,” she said with a laugh, “but yes?”
“Have you availed yourself of the refreshments we have provided yet?” Five Clicks asked. “I am told that humans find the savory juices particularly refreshing.”
“We will,” Human Friend Fiona said with a dismissive toss of her head. “We just got in the groove.”
A murmur of agreement came from the other two humans. Five Clicks had not idea what a “groove” could mean in this context, but now that he was looking he could see the clear indicators of dehydration and hyper-focus on the humans’ faces. Luckily those were rather universal in mammals. Five Clicks reviewed the instructions in his mind, find the lowest ranked human physically, preferably one with an injury or a physical weakness. All three humans were healthy and sound but one was significantly older than the others. Five Clicks made aggressive eye contact as the manual suggested and repeated.
“The savory juices are particularly refreshing.”
The human he had selected twitched and Five Clicks witnessed the moment his meaning was processed. The human straightened and stretched.
“I could use some savory juice,” the human said in a tone of obviously enforced duty.
The other two humans paused and looked longingly at the pile of completed packs, but they sighed and stood with various noises popping from their massive joints.
“Juice break it is,” Human Friend Fiona said with a sigh.
“We have the groove now,” the third human offered soothingly. “We’ll be able to jump right back in after a break.”
The three massive mammals wandered towards the food table and Five Clicks turned his attention to the next problem on his list.
"Humans are Weird: I Have the Data"
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
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