Seventh Trill looked across the empty space between himself and Second Sister. He was perched in front of the massive window that formed the south wall of the commander’s office on this post. In the fading colors of the gloaming the rolling grasslands outside stretched to the perimeter fence and then beyond it to the horizon. With the office the interior lights were just starting to compensate for the fading natural light. The Shartar was standing there with her arms full of medical supplies and the pouches that hung from her utility harness bulging with sterile absorbent material. Seventh Trill slowly and deliberate placed his winghooks on either side of his snout and cycled a deep sigh of air.
“Let me get the wake in order,” Seventh Trill said in what he hoped the medic took to be a firm tone. “You are taking a quarter of the base’s medical supplies out into the middle of a field because the predator deterrent has expired?”
Second Sister curled an antenna in what he assumed was a gesture that meant something to someone who had lighted on Shatar kinesics for more than a moment. She seemed to realize the problem however.
“Yes,” she explained. “I really should be getting out there now-”
The Shatar shifted her legs as if to turn and go but Seventh Trill held up a winghook to restrain her.
“I seem to be missing critical information,” he said, straining to keep his voice calm. “I do not see any connection at all between the predicted and allowed for chemical degradation of the,” he glanced at the manifest in front of him, “pepper spray, and wasting, or rather using in a less that prescribed manner let’s say, a large mass of the base medical supplies.”
He paused and waited for the Shatar to respond. Her neck frill had stiffened and flared green with anger for a moment before shifting to the fluttering of general curiosity. Her head slowly rotated from side to side, threatening to dislodge the topmost of the medical supplies in her arms.
“What exactly,” she finally asked, “do you think I am going to do with these medical supplies?”
“I am sure as a rising thermal that I have not the faintest breeze of an idea,” he stated. “I am reasonably certain that you do not intend to retrofit them into ranged chemical predator deterrents but that is the only implication I could lift from your explanation.”
For a long moment the Shatar focused on him, letting her may faceted eyes rotate to really analyze him from every direction. Her mandibles worked quietly and he got the distinct impression that she was wondering how someone of his intelligence had managed to learn to fly, let alone rise to a command rank in a deep space field outpost. Finally she shook out her antenna and frill and glanced at the wall mounted chronometer.
“Yes,” she murmured. “That would explain how this happened. You haven’t had any experience with humans have you?”
He bristled a little in affront.
“I have not,” he said. “Though I fail too feel how that applies here.”
“The pepper spray is a human use tool,” she explained. “They developed it from an anti-herbivory chemical produced by various plants on their homeworld. The defense units that have just expired were engineered for the use of the various species but the humans still feel a proprietary interest in them.”
“That is interesting,” Seventh Trill said cautiously.
“They also have a range of culturally relevant activities that include these substances,” Second Sister went on. “In addition they have a scarcity driven distaste for waste.
Seventh Trill truly wondered where she was going with this spiral of information. He well knew that Shatar in general tended to be very literal and direct. It was on of the aggravating things about dealing with them.
“While I have no direct evidence,” she was going on, “I have gathered from the fact that all of the expired units are missing with most of the base humans that they have gone off into the fields for a related recreational activity.”
“Ah,” a dim light began to pierce the clouds of her explanation and he nodded slowly. “They are using the expired units for target practice. Commendable initiative.”
Second Sister’s triangular head tilted to the side and one antenna curled in what might have been amusement.
“Target practice?” she repeated. “That is perhaps one of the more charitable ways of describing what I expect they have been doing, but only if you consider their faces to be the targets.”
The silence stretched between them as more and more the artificial light took over, the unnatural light began to savor of something quite unpleasant as Seventh Trill caught up to her meaning.
“What makes you think that the humans would be that-” He broke off.
There was really no polite way to say stupid in any language.
“They haven’t returned and it is meal time,” she explained. “Young healthy mammals, even tanks like the humans, do not willingly skip meals. Their metabolisms punish them quickly for such slights. Therefore something is keeping them out past the security fence.”
“What do you suspect is delaying them?” He asked.
“If I had to diagnose without direct evidence I would say collective partial blindness and needing to feel their way home as a group like a pod of Undulates,” she explained in a calm tone.
“Why wouldn’t they just call in?” Seventh Trill demanded.
“Embarrassment,” Second Sister stated calmly. “Now if you will excuse me I am having a medical grade eye solvent loaded into the drip tank on the back of my hovercraft. That and these should be enough to provide first aid when I find the fools.”
She set out a foot and pivoted her body before trotting out of the office without another backwards glance. Seventh Trill watched her go and wondered how hew as supposed to write this incident up in his report.
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"Humans are Weird: I Have the Data"
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Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 106 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 *****!
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