The textureless walls of the starbase thrummed with a pleasantly asymmetric mechanical rumble today and Tck’stk felt the relief easing into his paws with every step he took along the spider walk. The human engineers back in Sol had been immensely proud of what they proclaimed to be a zero waste engine embedded in a highly absorbent frame. In their wild and seemingly gene deep need for efficiency they had eliminated very conducted sound from the latest generation of vessels. That the dead silence of the compartments in the ship drove every species save the Undulates to near madness in a short time had somehow been an unforeseen consequence to a species that thrived on constant stimulation.
Tck’stk espied the Chief of Sound Design staring out one of the great observation ports that lined the ship. Skc’chch was holding a steaming mug of some herbal tea and taking the occasional sip. Tck’stk felt a well of gratitude towards the smooth old engineer who had solved the issue of the sound-dead base so quickly and skittered over happily to his side.
“Greetings Chief Skc’chch!” Tck’stk called out. “I wanted to compliment you on the sound profile today. It sounds just like a ship should sound! Not a bit too natural-”
Tck’stk cut off his gratitude suddenly as the view of the blurry starlight field was suddenly disrupted by an explosion of color. A core of red erupted into rings of orange, yellow, green, and finally violet before dispersing, only to be followed by a thousand white explosions so close to the viewing window that Tck’stk would have sworn that he heard the impact of the debris against the view port. A shower of searing green lights then shot past, burning in short, intense coils before extinguishing just as another lit.
Chief Skc’chch angled his body so that his main cones of focal vision fell on Tck’stk. The engineer’s mandibles were politely set to invite the younger Trisk to continue his thought.
“The sounds,” Tck’stk stated, trying to keep his attention on what he had been saying, “they are nice today. I like that that artificial machine sounds don’t just repeat…”
He completely rotated his body away from Chief Skc’chch and braced his legs against the spider walk as a dim indigo streaks appeared and very visibly impacted the view port leaving ashy smears momentarily across the view-field. The smears were gone in moments and Tck’stk was left staring in confusion at the next display of light and color.
“The nano-droids clear the ash up fast!” came the warm breathy voice of a mammal just behind him.
Tck’stk smoothed down his hairs as he bristled in irritiation. There was no reason to assume that the human had seen him conversing with Chief Skc’chch and he was hardly holding up his end of a polite public conversation, and what the human had offered was relevant information.
“So thank you,” Tck’stk finished with a rather helpless gesture of a gripping paw.
He waited the traditional six clicks for the response and Chief Skc’chch slowly bobbed his head with an amused set to his mandibles.
“You are more than welcome Friend Tck’stk,” the old one said. “I am pleased to bring my specialty to the aid of a crew in such dire need.”
Flaming orange spirals danced outside the viewport.
“While there is still much to be done the human crew have proved themselves more than willing to adapt to our needs as well as fulfill their own,” Chief Skc’chch finished, bringing the mug of tea up to his mandibles for a sip.
Tck’stk let far more than the six polite clicks pass as white rockets shot off, far out of his range of vision into the blurry distance of the star field.
“May I ask,” he began hesitantly, “do you know….forgive my frayed thoughts and words but what is going on out there?”
Chief Skc’chch’s smooth old mandibles twitched up in amusement as he too let more than the six clicks of thought pass.
“The humans,” he said slowly and clearly, “are being efficient.”
Tck’stk let his mind worry over that with irritation as he pondered the chief’s meaning in the thinking time. That meant the humans were trying to achieve at least one incidental goal along with one primary or intended goal. Normally he would assume that the chaotic explosions outside the view port would have been and entirely unintended consequence of whatever the goal was, however the tight patters were far too ordered. Which suggested that they might be the incidental goal. Fast on this however followed another thought and this one, despite being quite in line with his knowledge of human behavior was staggering enough to warrant discussion.
“Are the explosions their primary goal or some redundancy?” he asked, edging away from the view port.
Chief Skc’chch gave a rippling chitter of amusement at that.
“I believe that their primary goal in this case was the disposal of post digestion food waste,” Chief Skc’chch stated.
“Don’t the mammals usually recycle that via bacterial digestion and plant growth?” Tck’stk asked after a long confused moment.
Chief Skc’chch waved a paw in confirmation through the steam of his tea.
“They do that,” he said, “That is why the gardens are so lush on this base. However the base processes so many unvetted mammals on a daily basis that they have an abundance of biological waste, most of which can’t be trusted in the gardens without cost prohibitive contaminate testing.”
“So they space it towards the nearest planet with an atmosphere?” Tck’stk asked, but then saw the flaw in that. “That would not connect with these-”
He cut off as a billowing orange cloud erupted across the view port.
“-these.” he finished, wishing he plentiful hairs didn’t bristle quite so obviously.
“No,” Skc’chch agreed. “That would not provide this, what I am assured is quite a pleasing display to humans.”
“A display of exploding, burning waste matter?” Tck’stk demanded, forgetting the proper pause in his shock.
Fortunately the old engineer didn’t seem to notice.
“Once it is thoroughly dedicated, and the pure water reclaimed the matter burns quite efficiently for the most part,” Skc’chch pointed out, “and my human colleagues insist that humans like any form of pretty lights for environment enrichment. This also gives them a chance to dispose of the toxic oxidizing waste from the fuel byproducts.”
Tck’stk stared dumbly out the view port as something that had once been food lit with brilliant purple flame in the vacuum of space.
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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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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 $60 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.