With a resounding snap that echoed down the long corridor the elastic band slipped off the far support and slammed into the plasicreet wall several Unds down the corridor from Pullsstrongly. He allowed a ripple of unease to flow down his dorsal surface and felt the rasping of his dehydrated external membrane. With a defeated slump he shuffled over to the band and retrieved it. He shuffled back to his work location and carefully placed the band in his tool box.
With a feeling of profound relief he rotated his attention to the sound of running water coming from the hatch below and between the two supports he had been trying to affix the band to. He lifted the hatch cover and slipped into the water below. It was stingingly sterile but at least the flow wasn’t entirely artificially smooth. Pullsstrongly let himself drift a bit before he spread his appendages to anchor himself to the walls of the channel. The sterile water began soaking into his membrane and he felt his fibers star to relax as he pondered his next move.
The communication from the university had been clear. A full flight of Winged would be arriving at the end of this work day. Even if it wasn’t for the regulations on the matter as chief of maintenance it was Pullsstrongly’s duty to make sure that the base was ready to receive them. Their personal quarters has been prepared days before. The kitchen gardens had been planted weeks ago and were producing just the epiphyte nodes the Winged preferred. The task that had been left until the last moment was the quick and easy job of placing the springy, elastic perches that mimicked natural branch movement in much the same way the channels mimicked natural water flow, in the recommended positions around the base.
That is, the process was easy so long as there were two Undulates present. The hatch covers were deliberately as wide as one average Undulate was long. In this particular base there was a stout support at each end to keep the humans from accidentally treading on the hatch cover. To provide a convenient and comfortable perch for the expected Winged, the plan was to print out the bands and stretch them from support to the other. However this task, with its fairly low priority had been put off in favor of more pressing matters and this morning every other Undulate on the base was out in the algae gardens collecting crop nodes that would fade within hours. The human contingent had mostly headed inland after the heavy preparation was done to observe a volcanic eruption. They had said something about an ancient cultural tradition of “poking it with a stick” that they were obligated to preform. However not all of them had left on this pilgrimage.
Pullsstrongly stirred the bed of the situation in his thoughts. There was one human technician on the base. An aquatic botanist who had stayed behind due to some weakness in certain of the fiber clusters humans called “organs”. The main symptoms, a dry, hacking vocal expression had passed, but had left the human rather weak. Pullsstrongly floated the importance of having the base comfortable for the arriving Undulates against the drag of possibly stressing Human Friend Tinka. By the time his membrane was fully saturated he had decided to ask her and let her make the decision herself. He struck out swimming against the current and popped up into the recreation room.
Human Friend Tinka was sprawled out over the couch in an almost comfortable sprawl of limbs. She was watching one of the wall screens where some human media was playing. The light from the screens was scattered in that particular way that indicated a very old document and she had not altered the settings to make the visuals easily palatable to Undulate vision. He could just make out human forms moving around and the sound component suggested there was some sort of investigations happening. Human Friend Tinka reached out and picked up a cup of fragrant tea and took a slow sip without moving her eyes from the screen.
“Human Friend Tinka?” Pullsstrongly called out.
She immediately set the cup down and turned her attention to him.
“Yo Pulls,” she greeted him. “What can I do for you?”
Pullsstrongly shuffled towards her so he didn’t have to speak quite so loudly.
“Would you mind helping me place the perch bands?” he asked.
Human Friend Tinka responded with movement rather than sound. Her face lit up with the pleasure a human radiated when they found a way to be useful and she pulled her limbs out of their comfortable sprawl and stood, stretching her arms up above her head in a gesture she used to align her spine.
Immediately Pullsstrongly knew something was wrong. The lights in her bare feet surged and then grew dull. The lights in her face dimmed to a sickly pallor. She took one step and then slowly folded down in what appeared to be a barely controlled collapse. Her legs bent and she knelt. One knee brushing Pullsstrongly’s side. Her hands flailed out coming down on his other side and the idea that he was about to experience the full land weight of a human bubbled in Pullsstrongly, but the moment they brushed the floor her hands stiffened and held her weight on her extended fingertips. Her head bowed, nearly touching his dorsal side, and the glowing orbs that were her sight organ rolled up, exposing the pulsing undersides moments before her lids closed over them. All of this took matter of seconds and was over well before Pullsstrongly had fully sounded the situation.
“Human Friend Tinka!” He called out, but wasn’t sure he was articulating the sounds well enough.
He flung up appendages and pressed his words into her face. Her face was cold and clammy to his touch and he frantically wondered if she was going numb. How did one communicate with a numb and deaf human? There were no medics on the base. However suddenly Human Friend Tinka gasped and the lights surged back into the stripes on her face. Her eye membranes fluttered and then blinked several times revealing the normal dancing sparkle underneath them. She drew in several long breaths before turning her eyes on him.
“Why are you grabbing my face?” she asked in slightly distorted tones.
Realizing she couldn’t move her lips properly Pullsstrongly releases her.
“You fell!” he blurted out.
“I didn’t hurt you?” she asked, concern darkening her lights for a moment.
“Oh no!” Pullsstrongly assured her. “We Undulates are quite resistant to crush damage. You really can’t hurt me in this gravity.”
“Good, good,” Human Friend Tinka said as she stood to her full height with seemingly no more than the usual amount of swaying. “Let’s go attach those perches or whatever.”
Pullsstrongly grabbed onto her ankle and gripped the floor, effectively pinning her in place.
“What’s wrong Pulls?” she asked.
“You fell!” Pullsstrongly repeated.
“Yeah,” she nodded. “I got up too fast. It was a doozy too. Greyed out a little there.”
She stared down at him expectantly. As if her side of the conversation was done. Pullsstrongly hesitated. Human Friend Tinka clearly did not consider herself to be in any danger. Perhaps it would be best to simply accept her help and then latch onto the first medic that came to the base for an explanation. He had seen humans “stand up” thousands of times and it had never occurred to him that it might be done “too fast”.
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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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