The late afternoon sunlight was turning the rolling hills a lovey shade of burnt umber. At least that is what the human had observed several minutes ago. Gist’ck was well aware of how much acuter the human’s distance vision was than his. To his eight eyes the surrounding world was a vague blur that only changed color and intensity with the time of day. If he had to designate a single color for this time it would have been the pale searing purple of the sky. It was rapidly becoming his least favorite color.
“Un-puff little friend,” Human Friend Steve called out from where he bent over the geological probe he was manually opening. “You know you don’t fit down the access hatch when you get all freaked out.”
Rather than waste the oxygen and moisture contradicting everything wrong with that statement for the fifth time that work cycle Gist’ck hefted his backpack onto his abdomen and trotted over to the (to him) pillar of the geological probe. It was somewhat awe inspiring to think that the survey core scientists had driven this pylon, if not down to the planet’s core itself, well past the mantel and into the molten inner layer. Deep beneath them the scientific marvel of the heat resistant base was taking detailed reading of everything from the carbon dioxide levels of the magma to the speed of the flow of the internal fluids of the planet. At the moment however the mighty pylons of science were made to feel a bit less impressive as the human casually dropped his hand down, scooped Gist’ch up backpack and all and deposited him on the uppermost level of the maintenance walk.
“Seriously lil’ dude,” Human Friend Steve went on. “You know as well as I do that the only reason I was sent on this mission with you instead of that cute little mechanic who keeps preening her eyebrows at you is that my big old body scares away the spider snatching vulture fish. You can chill. I don’t even have to use this.”
The human patted the projectile weapon on his side casually.
“They are just that scared of me. Even if I did have to use it, I’d have plenty of time because they can’t dive worth speaking of, plenty of time to pop one if if went crazy and decided to try for you, did you know-”
“Yes,” Gist’ck gladly and grimly committed the normally socially unpardonable sin of interrupting a friends conversation, partly because he was well aware this human would keep talking for the rest of the day if not interrupted, partly because he really did not want another graphic retelling of the nearly supernatural hunting prowess of whatever Earth fauna was going to be compared to the vulture fish, “I am perfectly aware that on Earth there is no doubt a flying predator that can outperform the vulture fish to such an extent that its presence would not doubt give me just cause to fluff out as you say. Please go fetch the lubricant storage vessel, we will need more than I have here.”
The completely unoffended human set the covering dome of the pylon down beside the main column and strolled off whistling a cheerful tune. Gist’ck stayed puffed out thank you very much. Unlike the humans he felt no need to train his perfectly healthy survival instincts out of himself. The air above him was full of predators that could stoop and eat him, even if he was more than sufficiently protected from them, he would maintain his state of alertness. It would be rank laziness to leave the task of detecting their presence to Human Friend Steve, even if Human Friend Steve offered. Though why the humans he met consistently mistook his state of alertness for vague fear upon seeing how his hairs bristled was a mystery to him.
The work went fairly smoothly and they were able to repair or mitigate the damage the raw power of the planet had done to the pylon quickly. This would likely be their last stop of the day before they made camp so according to protocol Gist’ck was puffed out as much to watch Human Friend Steve for end of the day distraction accidents as he was to keep up his share of their joint situational awareness. Human Friend Steve had just placed the large canister of lubricant back in the transport and was ambling back to put the dome back atop the pylon when his whistling suddenly stopped, his hand dropped to his weapon, and his body twisted so that his binocular eyes could track something above in the blurry distance. Gist’ck shivered, almost at much at the intense predatory energy that Human Friend Steve gave off as at the thought of the vulture fish that was no doubt circling a bit too low for Human Friend Steve’s liking. Gist’ck felt a moment of illogical irritation at the vulture fish’s main food source, a low shrub that produced seeds that just looked a little too much like Trisk anatomy from the perspective of a vulture fish.
“Well,” Human Friend Steve said as he resumed walking back towards the pylon without turning his head away from what Gist’ck assumed to be the vulture fish’s trajectory. “I might just have to eat my words yet. Dang if that scale-skinned abomination wasn’t eyeing you up despite my being-”
His words were interrupted by a resonant boom as the tip of one boot connected with the dome of the plyon. The dome went flipping end over end away over the relatively smooth landscape with a sound that would have been rather humorous to Gist’ck if he hadn’t been distracted by the grunt and look of acute pain that contorted Human Friend Steve’s face for a moment before the human shook out the foot that had impacted the dome and started off at a brisk walk to retrieve the dome.
“Be right back little guy,” Human Friend Steve called back in a pain strained voice.
Gist’ck assumed that, once the dome was retrieved Human Friend Steve would want to begin applying first aid to his injured toes. The concept that the mere swing of a common walking gait carried enough force to damage the delicate workings of the humans motile appendage ends was a bristling concept in of itself, but stubbed toes were something that Gist’ck had come to accept and he scampered down the pylon to have the medical kit ready. He really should scold Human Friend Steve for prioritizing retrieving the dome before applying medical aid to his foot but no doubt the Sister back at the base would have more than a few words for his friend on the subject, so Gist’ck felt comfortable letting the trained medic handle socially necessary shaming.
“Do you want a painkiller?” Gist’ck asked as Human Friend Steve returned, limping, to the transport from securing the dome on the pylon.
“Nah, it’s not bad,” Human Friend Steve said as he bent to scoop Gist’ck up and drop him in the passenger seat. “Come on, stow that stuff and let’s get back to camp.”
Gist’ck stood frozen in confusion for a moment before he pointed down to the human’s foot.
“But your struck the dome with more than enough force to rupture blood vessels or possibly even crack your toe armor!” Gist’ck pointed out, hoping to win the point by sticking to specific details. “You need medical attention.”
“I’ll take care of it back at camp,” Human Friend Steve said with a shrug as he began repacking the medical kit himself.
“You foot is injured now-” Gist’ck began.
“Look,” the human said with another shrug of his shoulders. “If I got to the trouble to take my boots off now, I’ll have to tend to the damage and that will get us back later to camp. I’ll just ignore it and-”
“Ignoring injuries that you cannot see does not negate the necessity of tending to them!” Gist’ck snapped out.
Honestly he was going to get as bad as a winged if he continued to keep company with humans.
“Sure it does,” Human Friend Steve said with a grin. “Now buckle up little buddy, it was my braking foot that got injured.”
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Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 90 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 *****!
QUICK NOTE: RE: everyone who asked. The book is avaliable in Amazon regions US-UK-DE-FR-ES-IT-NL-JP-BR-CA-MX-AU-IN. HOWEVER The above link only takes you to the US Amazon site. The one indicated by the .com ending. If it says "not avaliable in your country" that just means that you need to click over to your Amazon region.
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.