“Not now Trixy!” The human snapped without even turning to look at him.
Tcki’tx felt himself bristle with indignation and spun around on his center of gravity and stalked away wishing that his paws would make more of a stomping sound on the spiderwalk. Humans did have the advantage over every other species when it came to expressing passive displeasure. If a human was offended everyone but the Winged knew it soon enough from the shaking of the floor. Tcki’tx took the translation he had needed help with back to the main processing area.
The large circular space that had been arranged for the three human linguists now housed the offices of the Trisk, the Winged, and even had a kiosk for the occasional visiting Shatar diplomat, though Shatar linguists tended to be male and therefore preferred to share the workspace of a sister or cousin no matter what her specialty was, than to use the multi species spaces. Still there was the broad, low shelves that the Shatar preferred and it was here that Tcki’tx stomped and began the laborious process of figuring out how he had gone wrong with the translation of the archaic human poem without the help of a human.
“There is something here about a, I believe the translation is belt, but oh swarm that makes no sense,” Tcki’tx muttered to himself and he began to pull up the original text and overlay his notes on top of them, hoping to catch something he had missed.
“This shouldn’t be this difficult,” he complained to the world at large. “The language is well documented from a time well before the writing of this extract, it should be a simple matter of applying the rules.”
The nutritional anthropologist who had just transferred in, one Quilx’tch who was respected for being one of the first Trisk to interact with the humans and develop a working grasp of their language, entered the work space from one of the upper entrances on the spider walk and very deliberately positioned himself at a crosspoint of several walks. From the way he was holding his data pad he clearly needed help with a translation. Tcki’tx absorbed the movement around him and quickly realized that he was the least involved in his work. He finished setting up his notes then turned his body and waved up to the nutritionist. Come to think of it, he mused, Quilx’tch was a colleague of Human Friend Grover. Perhaps Quilx’tch would have an explanation of his behavior.
“Greetings Linguist Tcki’tx,” Quilx’tch said as he approached. “I trust that this day finds you...less stressed.”
Tcki’tx patted his hairs down with a wry set to his mandibles as he relaxed into the six pads of silence between question and answer. His discomfort was less well disguised than he had hoped.
“I am afraid I let myself be offended at one of the humans,” he confessed.
Quilx’tch politely patted down his own already smoothly laying hairs in sympathy with Tcki’tx while they waited the six pads. It was always so refreshing to speak to someone who didn’t expect you to respond to them in barely the time that it took your synapses to transfer the data.
“They are a boisterous folk,” Quilx’tch said with an amused set to his own mandibles. “I am much afraid I have taken offense for that is reasonable in my turn. Especially when they were hungry.”
Recalling that Human Friend Grover had been preparing food when he approached him, Tcki’tx felt his hairs twitch in unease. As soon as he had formed his question he asked it.
“Are humans prone to loss of social skill when they are hungry?” Tckt’tx asked.
Quilx’tch shifted his legs in a slow and amused confirmation as they both finished patting down their hairs.
“They call it being hangry,” the nutritional offered. “Mammals are notorious for being unable to maintain proper nutrient balances in their blood stream. Their metabolic demands mean that their purifying organs must be profoundly powerful. This among other things makes them prone to daily mood swings.”
“I do hope that Human Friend Grover was not offended at my offense,” Tcki’tx said.
To his shock Quilx’tch suddenly stiffened in horror and did not wait half of the six pads before demanding.
“You talked to Human Friend Grover?” Quilx’tch demanded. “Within the last hour?”
Tcki’tk stared at him in astonishment before answering.
“I did,” Tcki’tk answered slowly.
“He was not hangry!” Quilx’tch said his paws tapping in agitation. “I personally made sure he was nutrient balanced this morning. We are doing a complex experiment with bovine protein – oh swarm! If this batch carbonizes we will have to stop the experiment! Or beg the next system for protein! The only have Capra protein. Oh swarm, perhaps it didn’t carbonize! I must check!”
To Tcki’tk’s astonishment Quilx’tch spun and darted away without even a farewell gesture. Human Friend Léonie who had been busily typing away at a translation of “The Swarm of Mother’s Paws” paused and strolled over with an interested expression on his face.
“Yo Tcki’tk,” he greeted the Trisk. “What had our little food friend in such a flutter?”
“Apparently I may have critically disturbed a vital experiment in the nutrition department,” Tcki’tk replied.
Human Friend Léonie gave the polite pause and then shrugged.
“We’ve all been there,” Human Friend Léonie said. “They really need to get a work in progress sign up in the kitchens or something. Was that what got you all puffed up?”
“I was somewhat offended at Human Friend Grover’s rudeness,” Tcki’tk admitted.
“What was he working on?” Human Friend Léonie asked.
“He was heating bovine lactate protein,” Tcki’tk said.
Human Friend Léonie immediately started and only contained himself for the polite six seconds with visible effort. Tcki’tk felt a renewed twinge of unease, apparently his offense had been worse than he had thought.
“You mean you disturbed him when he, quite literally avait du lait sur le feu? Human Friend Léonie asked.
“It has a saying in your mother tongue,” Tcki’tk said, his body shrinking a bit with a sigh.
“That is does mon amie,” Human Friend Léonie said with a laugh. “Well don’t stress about it. You can apologize later and now you have a new phrase, as well as knowing not to bother someone while they have milk on the fire.”
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Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 40 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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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 $50 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.