Second Sister bent down and adjusted the higher portion of her insulated foot glovings for what seemed like the hundredth time this morning. Her optical shields grew hazy for a moment as the cold, moist air caused ice crystals to form on their outer surface. She was genuinely pondering the judgment of the university counsel on this matter. Surely the value gained from the minerals on this planet couldn’t be worth the-
“Your tootsie booties giving you trouble?” First Geologist called out from where he was hoisting a crate of harvested crystals up to the flat bed of their transport.
His own optical shields were opaque to her vision so she couldn’t tell if he was looking at her or not. She felt a flicker of amusement as she realized how quickly she had adapted to the concept of depending on his binocular eyes for social cues.
“My tootsie booties,” Second Sister said, angling her antenna out to the sides in wry acceptance of the colloquialism, “have provided equal parts insulation and trouble since I started using them. However they have not been more troublesome this morning.
The human, whose mass had earned him so many nicknames that she wasn’t even sure of his legal name, gave a deep rumbling grunt and a curt nod before setting the crate of fragile crystals into the transport. He devoted his attention to securing the precious cargo and then stepped back to allow Second Sister to preform the required double-check. She touched the control that lowered the ladder built into the transport.
“Be more efficient if you just climbed up me,” First Geologist observed as she gingerly placed her glovings on the first rung of the ladder.
Second Sister tilted her triangular head in agreement and hopped he spotted it through her parka hood.
“I would prefer that,” she admitted, “but the Shatar engineers do come out here without a human sometimes and discovering that the joints and mechanisms have stopped working due to disuse without you here to give it a good solid kick would be more than an inconvenience.”
She stopped talking as she swung a foreleg over the side of the transport. Behind her the human gave a rumbling chuckle.
“And percussive maintenance and ladder imitations are just a few of the many services I offer,” he observed as she began to run through the safety checks.
Second Sister gave an absent click of confirmation as she finished the checks.
“Are you ready to continue on our way?” She asked as she turned back to climb down the ladder.
“Pretty much,” the human said.
He tuned his tree trunk of a body and aimed his binocular vision at the next tower on their list, or at least she assumed his did. It was the logical next place to turn their attention. The clear blue light from the distant star danced through the crystals that grew out of the towers in a stunningly beautiful display.
“Does that look natural to you Second Sister?” He asked.
Second Sister paused a moment before answering.
“I don’t think I understand your question,” she observed slowly. “The crystal growth towers bear no resemblance to any computer generated projection to my visual range.”
First Engineer grunted again and slowly rotated his head with his chin lowered, a vague negation of what she had said she believed.
“I mean,” he said slowly, “that even with growth patterns in the same systems things always seem to grow differently when there is a human influence in the growth. The more influence the more artificial the appearance gets. A forest looks natural to us. The mix of species, the patterns of growth individually and across interspecies systems, when they are in human controlled systems they look consistently different from that natural state. I was wondering if Shatar have that same perception pattern.”
Second Sister adjusted her leg glovings again as she pondered the question. She tilted her head this way and that as she examined the crystal tower. Finally she walked up to the human and gave a thoughtful click.
“I certainly cannot speak for all Shatar,” she said slowly, “and you must recall that male Shatar are far more responsible for guiding our gardens’ growth patterns than the females, but I cannot say that I perceive any overarching difference in the growth patterns between the Core’s crystal towers and the wild crystal growths, other than that ours are much larger.”
First Engineer grunted and turned to climb into the cab of their transport. Second Sister got in on her side and took the time to remove her optical shields while First Engineer started up the transport and headed towards the next tower. She reached into her carry bag and puled out the hydrating wipes.
“Wipe?” she asked, holding out one to First Engineer.
He took it with a grunt and gave a flick of his wrist to expand it to its full size before rubbing it over his face. Second Sister gingerly dabbed at her outer membrane as she marveled anew over how quickly humans could shed their safety gear. She didn’t think she had ever actually seen First Engineer pull off his optical shields when they got into the cab. When they were both properly hydrated she took up the conversation again.
“Do you think that the crystal trees look natural?” she asked.
The glittering centers of his eyes flicked towards her momentarily as he considered his words.
“Bout as natural as a jewelry display at a fancy pawn shop,” he finally said.
Second Sister pondered this, wondering if it was meant to answer her question. She decided that focusing on her duties as shotgun was a more useful expenditure of thought than pursuing the matter further.
"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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Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 136 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.