“The small containers are perfectly acceptable for free-range bio-degradation, but this is hardly the most efficient use of you waste water,” Notes the Passing Changes said. “I am sure that as mammals, reclaiming it for your own use is a far more efficient use of both energy and mass. Even if you wish to simply disperse it this system seems highly labor intensive for such a task.”
The human thus addressed threw back his head and laughed. The human (male, approximately half way through his life cycle, near optimum weight for his height, off-gassing chemicals indicating robust mammalian health if higher than average chronic flight or fight responses) leaned easily against the container of water he was balancing on a hover-transport.
The male was neither a newcomer nor one of the local population. He had worked in the Survey Ranger Core as a research biologist and after retiring had collaborated with various University staff to organize a temporary cultural growth. The short term human community bloomed in the driest of the summer months by summoning the juvenile humans from the surrounding continents of the colony world, along with various experts in science and the craft of time sensitive environmental adaptation. To the best of Notes the Passing Changes’s understanding the goal was to teach the juvenile mammals those skills in observation and adaptation that they would not otherwise have access to in the limited social connectivity of a newly planted colony, as well as to kindle that sense of the wonder that was the shared note of sapience.
“Yeah, sorry,” the human was saying, waving his hands and arms in wide gestures. “I didn’t explain that just right. The point isn’t to use the exercise to distribute the water for your use. The exercise itself is the point.”
Notes the Passing Changes wondered if some other level to the human’s communication not carried in sound waves. The words did string together in a mostly understandable fashion but the thick mammalian appendages were weaving around in such seemingly complex movements that it seemed that there must be some Undulate like language form involved.
“It’s about the fun,” the human was explaining, “the play, specifically the group play. We want the kids to take home not just memories of good times, but memories of having good times with the other kids. Way to easy to get insular and touch starved out here in the colonies. Nothing like a good brawl to initiate human touch and form those social bonds!”
Notes the Passing Changes shifted the current communication node, a pile of detritus formed to match the average height of a human chest, in a way that most humans translated as a thoughtful shrug.
“If that is the goal I touch on no objections,” Notes the Passing Changes stated. “If the pirmary object is to use the dedicated shared recreational space for recreation, why then are you consulting me?”
“Well,” the human glanced around with a speculative look in his eyes. “We need a soft, fairly level space of ground for safety’s sake, and it’s gonna get soaked which makes the surface more vulnerable to disruption, and the kids are going to tear it up running around. So we don’t want to bruise up a bunch of your memories. Don’t want to cost you last summer for this summer if you get what I’m saying.”
Notes the Passing Changes caused the communication node to ‘nod’ at the human and generated a thoughtful hum as those thought threads processed.
“There is little chance serious damage to myself,” Notes the Passing Changes finally said. “As a matter of safety I will pull my tendrils deep and observe from the edges of the area. Any damage to the surface layer will be easily healed and I will make sure to pull any trip hazards deeper.”
“Many thanks!” the human called out as he began pushing the first of two water containers into place.
Notes the Passing Changes observed the position of the barrels and kept a thread on them while redistributing both personal mass and the larger sticks and branches in the field. The Gathering indulged in a slow pace as the exercise was not scheduled until just after the hottest part of the next day and even so it was complete long before sunrise. Various humans crossed the field, in the interim, some staring curiously at the containers of water but most ignoring them. The heat reached its peak, and then started to decline as cool breezes began to stir. Soon the soft thudding of little feet began echoing through the top layer of the soil as the mature humans herded the immature ones onto the field.
Notes the Passing Changes both watched from the leaves of a few trees selected for the sharpness of vision the species allowed, and extended more precise photosensitive appendages to gather details. The mature humans were carrying the small paper containers, and handing stacks of them to certain of the significantly smaller immature humans. These in turn passed the containers out to the rest of the immature humans until all the humans had at least one of the containers. There was shouting then, the purpose of which seemed to be to herd the humans into two groups of roughly the same numbers. The groups formed with the two large water containers in between them. One mature human than stood halfway between the two containers and began chanting, causing the groups of immature humans to still. When the chant reached it peak the two groups of humans immediately started screaming and rushed towards the large water containers waving their smaller containers around.
It was to say the least chaotic. Several of the immature humans, and most of the mature ones, fell over once the rush started. These were either helped to their feet by other humans, or simply left to lay in the headlong rush for the water sources. All of the humans were emitting sound in decibel ranges that reached what Notes the Passing Changes understood the be maximum human capacity for sound generation. Several of them were exceeding what Notes the Passing Changes understood to be the maximum human capacity for sound generation. Several of the smaller humans were reaching a pitch that was usually only associated with Winged echolocation, and throughout all of the chaotic sound ran a tone of joy that was unmistakable.
Notes the Passing Changes watched in fascination as the fastest humans reached the water, filled their containers and promptly hurled the contents as whatever human was standing next to them. More humans arrived and there was a tangle of limbs and bodies at the sides of the water containers. Soon a portion of the humans began darting away with their full smaller containers, to seemingly randomly then toss the water on another human, inspiring rolling waves of shrieks and shouts.
Notes the Passing Changes shifted more attention away from the detailed photo receptors to the broader range pattern recognition of the foliage. The trees recognized these patterns. The humans were moving as predators, the kinds of predators that the tree might want to summon to defend it from voracious herbivores and the forest stirred with interest. Some humans showed ambush tactics, hiding behind larger humans or the main water containers. Others chose the more optimized endurance pursuit they were so well adapted for. Choosing one particular other human and chasing them, sometimes far from the water barrels before flinging the water on their target with a laugh.
Notes the Passing Changes began to see other patterns as well. One tactic was for the slower humans to shield their container of water and wait until they had absorbed their opponent's attack and then fling their own at the now vulnerable opponent. As the game went on too, Notes the Passing Changes observed that the more water a human absorbed on clothes and skin the less they valued avoiding more water. This was utterly fascinating, it was the behavior of colony insects, of schools of fish, of flights of birds, a scattering of tactics used seemingly randomly, resulting in larger patterns.
However even as this idea began to form the paper containers began to fall apart and fragments fell to the ground. Some humans ceased engaging in the game to stoop and pick the fragments up, only to be assured that, - “Notes said he’d like to eat them. Don’t worry.” Several of the most determined immature humans were gathered around the larger containers splashing water at each other with their hands but soon the source had run dry and the now very wet humans began to troop down towards their temporary sleeping quarters where they would soak themselves in hot water and then dry themselves.
As the mature human had predicted the ground surface had taken more damage than Notes the Passing Changes had expected, but such a consideration was hardly worth counting.
‘A good brawl,’ the mature human had described the group play as. Notes the Passing Changes began growing a research thread and activated more specific awareness inside the local library. The reference librarian in the dimly lit room glanced up as the leaves on the vine at the window began to rustled and smiled.
“What can I help you with today Notes?”
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