“Quilx’tch, can you aide me?”
Quilx’tch glanced over at his superior as he entered the room. The chief cultural anthropologist was crouched over the main data screen in their office. Quilx’tch balanced the vials in his manipulators and rotated uneasily.
“Can it wait a moment Tra’krt?” he replied. “I need to place the sampled from the Hellbats in the refrigerator.”
“Make sure you place them in the sample refrigerator,” Tra’krt reminded him sternly. “But yes, that will be acceptable.”
Quilx’tch rotated and hurried to put the nutrient samples in the racks of the refrigeration unit. He made sure their labels were clearly visible and scurried back to where Tra’krt was flicking various symbols across the visual display screen. Quilx’tch aligned his primary eyes with the screen and tilted his abdomen to the side thoughtfully.
“Is this one of those human word puzzles?” He asked.
Tra’krt let out a chitter of irritation and swept a primary manipulator across the control surface, realigning the letters in the orderly rows the humans preferred.
“Betty,” Quilx’tch read. “A common derivate of a human name, female I believe.”
“Yes, yes,” Tra’krt said. “I am aware of that. However the base command transport has no sex so far as I know.”
Quilx’tch let his secondary eyes take in the stressed commander. Had he been getting sufficient nutrients lately? In lieu of a proper field medic it was Quilx’tch’s task to ensure the base crew maintained their health.
“Oh swarm,” Tra’krt snapped his mandibles at Quilx’tch. “Do stop thinking so loudly. I am fine.”
“You know your inappropriate use of that term has the humans thinking we are telepathic,” Quilx’tch reprimanded him.
“I take zero responsibility for what humans think,” Tra’krt said. “Now this,” he waved at the offending female name, “this is exactly why. Mechanic Steve has named the command transport Betty.”
Quilx’tch felt his joints loosen with relief. “Oh yes, they do that.” He said. “The transports that drop off the humans are in fact listed by their ‘names’ rather than their identification numbers in the files for the foodstuffs.”
“I am aware Quilx’tch,” Tra’krt said, rubbing the ridges over his eyes. “If you read the functional briefing on humans it lists that facet of their behavior. It also lists that that only refers to ships of a certain mass.”
“I was not aware of that,” Quilx’tch said.
“But Mechanic Steve has named a wheeled vehicle, far below the tonnage requirements, Betty,” Tra’krt said.
“I assume you have tried simply asking him,” Quilx’tch said.
“He muttered something inaudible and walked away after I asked why he had given an inanimate object a name,” Tra’krt replied. “Since then I have been operating under the assumption that it is some form of what the humans call an acronym.”
“Well,” Quilx’tch began to back slowly away. “I will get back to my nutrient analysis.”
“One day we will understand the humans,” Tra’krt muttered to himself as he bent back over the control panel. “One day.”
Quilx’tch made a mental note to check on Tra’krt’s nutrient intake. Sometimes odd behavior was explainable by poor diet. On another leg, sometimes it was just prolonged exposure to humans.