“Why did we even bother building a base on the land anyway?” Rollsaround asked as he absorbed the dim light filtering through the wide windows of the base.
The windows gave an impressive view of what the humans in their generosity called a “coastline”. Instead of gently undulating coral beds easing down into the water the glittering volcanic rock dropped abruptly from the graminoid covered highlands and dove down dozens of meters to where it usually met the heaving surface of the water below. Today however the water had seemingly decided to express its objections to the separation and was attempting to scale the cliffs in massive waves. The base vibrated from the force of a gust of wind and Rollsaround hunkered deeper into his mineral bath.
“Do you require another introduction of thermal-loaded water?” Tenth Cousin asked from where she perched on a Shatar couch, reading something that was supposed to be very masculine poetry from her homeworld.
“I do not,” Rollsaround reassured her. “I was just reacting negatively to the storm.”
She tilted her head to examine the weather conditions with a thoughtful set to her antenna.
“I think it is a pleasant change,” she said. “The harsh, unfiltered lights of the suns here means that we have no real night. The clouds at lest allow the illusions of dusk, and the wind overhead is not entirely unlike breezes in Father’s canopy if you can focus your attention on some pleasant task.”
“Well if we can’t go outside during clear weather without protection due to the radiation,” Rollsaround grumbled, “and we can’t go outside in stormy weather due to the, well, the storm, I say we should have just built a floating base that we could submerge during storm weather.”
“There is perhaps logic in that,” Tenth cousin agreed, and very deliberately tilted her head back to the poetry.
Rollsaround drooped his leading appendages over the edge of the bowl and absorbed the storm light in a slightly sulky mood. The airlock cycled open and Third Sister stepped in with the brisk stride that Rollsaround had noticed that high ranking sisters only used when they were looking for someone who had committed some infraction. Tenth Cousin brought the poem up closer to her face and started moving her mandibles as if she was completely focused on sounding out the words. Third Sister tilted her head the examine the cousin and then abruptly swiveled her body to focus on Rollsaround.
“First Ecologist,” she began, “do you know First Mechanic’s current location? The exterior vents in my lab require percussive maintenance.”
“He is off shift by now,” Rollsaround said. “You should check the washrooms and his quarters.”
However even as he offered this sound advice Rollsaround felt a ripple of unease. Human Friend Conner almost never went to his quarters after his shift. He was highly social, even by human standards and usually came to the main room to chat first thing.
“I have already checked both of those locations,” Third Sister stated. “He is not there and he is not answering his comm.”
Rollsaround mulled over that. Clearly Third Sister needed to find the human. An improperly vented laboratory in such a base as theirs was a serious health risk.
“Have you checked the storage areas?” he asked.
“I did a ping for his comm,” she replied, “but it is not reading as in the base at all so I could not locate the room he was in. I was surprised as I didn’t think we had any shielding strong enough to block the comm signal in the base-”
She cut off as Rollsaround suddenly surged up out of his mineral bath and crawled out of it.
“What is the matter First Ecologist?” Third Sister asked in confusion.
“He has gone out for a walk,” Rollsaround said, forgetting in his rush to add emotional undertones to his words.
“Out?” Third Sister demanded, her antenna going lax with confusion.
“Out to watch the storm from withing the wind currents,” Rollsaround explained.
“How do you gather that?” Third Sister demanded.
“He has described storm watching on his homeworld to me,” Rollsaround explained as he opened the hatch to the sub floor currents. “He also mentioned what he thought the perfect storm watching spot would be on these cliffs. That spot is behind enough rocks to block the signal. Now if you will excuse me I am going to go fetch him.”
“He has broken regulations!” Third Sister clicked, her frill flashing red with alarm.
“That on a secondary vine,” Tenth Cousin interjected as she came up to them. “The same regulations apply to you First Ecologist! The wind-”
“I am rated as fully wind resistant under these conditions,” Rollsaround said with a dismissive wave, “one of the perks of not being built like a windmill.”
“Your thermal mass-” Tenth Cousin tried again.
“I am fully warmed at the moment and I will turn back if my core temperature drops too low,” he interjected again. “Now if there are no further objections?”
Without waiting for their objections he dropped down into the sub-floor current and tapped the control panel to direct the current to the main outlet. He bundled his appendages and let himself be swept into the cold, but fresh exterior water. He bumped up against the smooth rise of the outlet and edged up out of the water. The wind was powerful. He could feel it tug at him if he raised a gripping appendage high, but at least over the main path there were eddies along the ground that were so comparatively we that he couldn’t even feel them. He began shuffling at top speed along the path. A the crest of the first high spot the winds did hit him, shoving his body sideways. However, as he had expected it required barely a fraction of his strength to grip the path firmly with his set appendages as he moved the free appendages forward. It barely even slowed him down, the roar of it was rather disconcerting when it wasn’t muted by the base walls however. He did wonder how the human had made it this far. After a long steady shuffle he rounded the corner that was blocking the signal and spotted a tall figure down at the cliff’s edge that wasn’t normally there.
Rollsaround activated the comm he was holding pressed against the ground. There was a significant delay before the human responded.
“Human Friend Conner,” Rollsaround said, trying to put firmness in his tones. “Come now and carry me back to the base. I am at the crest of the hill looking down at you.”
There was an odd sound from the comm that suggested the human was trying to say something back, but human speaking organs were not optimized for shielding the microphone of a comm while speaking so the human simply gave two short radio bursts and the tall figure on the cliff’s edge began swaying back and forth as it moved towards the path. Rollsaround anchored himself more fully against the blasts and watched in grim interest as the gusts blew the tall human form to one side and then the other as the human struggled up the path.
When Human Friend Conner finally did reach him the human didn’t bother speaking. He just reached down with a grin and tried to lift the Undulate off of the path. For one long moment Rollsaround hung on to the ground in a show of strength. He wasn’t sure if it would impress the human but a little dominance display did seem called for. He let go when the look of perplexity fully formed on the humans face but before he could give a more powerful tug and they headed back to the base.
Being carried over a meter above the ground in this wind was another experience altogether. The swaying of the human in the wind felt far wilder than it had looked, and Rollsaround found himself clutching tightly to the human’s coat as the wind tried to rip him away. They finally made the base airlock and stepped through to the blessedly still air. Rollsaround dropped to the floor and shook the cold water off of himself.
“I think Third Sister would like a word with you,” he said.
Granted she would probably want a word with him too, but Human Friend Conner didn’t need to know that.
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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
Hey! The books are moving well on Amazon and now have 151 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.