Humans are Weird – Stepping Into the Black
“Human Friend Bryant?” Qilx’tch called out softly as he adjusted his hold on the cloth of the human’s uniform.
Human Friend Bryan gave a grunt that served to acknowledge that at least some part of his massive brain had registered the inquiry. Qilx’tch stared down at the dancing flames at the edge of his vision, blurred by the clouds of smoke. He really should raise his concerns about the situation. He glanced up at Human Friend Bryant’s eyes and hesitated yet again.
There was something terrifying there. Qilx’tch wasn’t exactly sure what it was. He had been around humans long enough to recognize joy, that that was pure joy bristling out of Human Friend Bryant’s every fiber. They were working so it made sense that the challenge of the task would inspire the look of concentration. Still there was some foreign element that Quilx’tch saw. Something that he couldn’t identify. The closest thing he could relate it to was predator fear, but this was far to akin to the joy it accompanied.
The crackling of the flames drew his attention back to ground and he shifted uneasily. There was no flame directly under the human’s feet. Human Friend Bryant had promised not to test the fire resistance of his protective foot equipment and he seemed to be keeping his word. Also at the distance of a human’s shoulder above the ground it was rather hard for even his primary eyes to discern distance to any great accuracy, but the flickering lights did seem to be creeping awfully close. Still he hesitated to say any thing.
His respirator chimed a warning and he pulled up the holographic display. He rubbed his free pair of limbs in a strange mix of relief and concern. The atmospheric purifier indicated that it was halfway to exhaustion. When it reached a quarter they would be forced by regulation to retreat back to the mobile command center. Granted for him that would not be for several more hours. They had be observing the combusting ground cover since the sun had peeked above the horizon, and the reason the human was walking in the dangerous green zone was that the wind had made the safe area that had already combusted too thick with smoke to be practicable for work. However the human’s larger metabolic oxygen demand meant that his filters would be failing soon.
Quilx’tch had almost decided to reach up and tug on the human’s ear in the agreed upon attention getting gesture when Human Friend Bryant gave a grunt and glanced away from the fire to look at the dermal light display on his wrist. He pulled up the oxygen settings and instead of suggesting they turn back simply used his free hand to exchange the oxygen filter with a new one he produced from one of his many and voluminous pockets. Quilx’tch rubbed his free appendages over his eye hairs and bristled himself up to get the human’s attention. One had to prioritize safety over pride after all, despite what these humans seemed to think. However Human Friend Bryant, pulled out of his observations by the necessity of changing the filter, seemed more observant of Quilx’tch’s state.
“You hanging in there okay little bud?” he asked.
“I am slightly anxious,” Quilx’tch freely admitted.
He was about to extrapolate but suddenly Human Friend Bryant stiffened and the fleshy coverings of his eyes tightened in a clear danger signal.
“Time to step into the black,” he stated shortly before lightly leaping the tallest of the flames and then quickly trudging though the smaller fires until they reached the retaliative safety of the already burned area.
“Why take this precaution now?” Quilx’tch asked in confusion.
He was grateful for the change but what had stimulated the human to strictly follow regulation now?
“It’s going to flare up soon,” the human replied with a shrug that sent Quilx’tch scrambling for a better perch. “We should probably head back to the rig, there’ll be no getting good readings for the rest of the day.”
“How do you know that?” Quilx’tch asked.
However at that moment Quilx’tch felt the wind shift dramatically and with a crackle the band of fire suddenly leapt into the air, shooting up to well over twice the human’s massive height in active flame. Sparks began to fall on them and the human raised the data pad he had been using to cover Quilx’tch. Human Friend Bryant took three quick steps backward and then spun and began trotting back towards the safety of the transport. Behind them the wall of flame advanced in the opposite direction and Quilx’tch gave a little shudder as he wondered what a danger signal that made a human run looked like to a species that could sense it.
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