By Betty Adams
“Are you sure you don’t require aid?” Quilx’tch asked uneasily.
The nutritional anthropologist was clinging to the underside of the damaged cargo transport easily enough. The steel bar that supported his six motile legs was more than strong enough to hold his slight weight. No, the unease came from flecks of iron rich blood that he could smell scattered on the underside of the frame.
“I have this Quick,” the human mechanic snapped.
Quilc’tch fell silent but didn’t leave. The human was writhing around in a most disconcerting way. Granted the odd movements of human joints were usually a little disturbing to any species with a proper exoskeleton but Quilx’tch was fairly certain that human arms were not supposed to bend like that. The pain filled grunts the human was letting out confirmed his suspicions.
“I know I could not be of use in a task that requires such raw strength,” Quilx’tch began uneasily. “It would really be no trouble for me to fetch another human to aid you.”
“I can do this myself!” The human growled. “I don’t need any help.”
Quilx’tch wondered at the hostility in the normally friendly human’s voice. What possible benefit could the human gain by insisting on performing a non-critical maintenance operation that clearly was meant to be done in pairs? Especially as there were many other humans close to aid him? A loud snap coincided with a triumphant crow from the human.
“See!” The human called out. “I told you I could do it myself.”
“You did,” Quilx’tch replied. “Though I do not know why you make a point of that, as I never expressed doubt that you could.”
The human stared at him blankly for a moment and then burst into laughter. He rolled out from under the transport and sprang to his feet. Quilx’tch followed him and climbed up on the proffered hand. The skin on the hand was torn in several places though the humans’ remarkable healing factor had already stopped the bleeding.
“Yeah I got a stubborn streak I guess,” the human said shrugging his shoulders as Quilx’tch climbed up his arm. “Sorry I snapped at you.”
“Apology accepted,” Quilx’tch replied. He wanted to pursue the matter but the human stretched and bent to pick up his tools.
“Come on, let’s get lunch,” the human said. “I get even more bull-headed when I’m hungry.”