by Betty Adams
"Excuse me Friend Dodge," the voice came from behind him, startling the Ranger from his brown study of the remaining miles of moon like terrain they faced.
"Yes Fif-Friend Fifty-seven Clicks?" He replied, just remembering to add in the honorific. Not that he minded. Once you had shared a malfunctioning ship, a landing that was not a crash by a margin of a few meters per second, and the news that you were going to have to hoof (or wing in his friend's case) it forty miles across a featureless desert to the nearest supply cache there was no reason not to call each other friends. A ginger blur came around and focused into a fluttering bat-like creature.
"I suspect that your water supply is leaking." Fifty-seven Clicks informed him with his horrifyingly adorable face scrunched up in what Mack Dodge had learned was a sign of distress.
Mack grunted, stood immediately, and began to shrug off his backpack. The partial shade that the rock outcropping had offered only covered him if he was sitting but this needed attention now.
"Well let's see," Mack muttered, carefully examining the mouthpiece, the tube that led to the main reservoir in his pack and then the reservoir itself.
"I can't see or feel anything wrong with it and it doesn't look like I've lost any water," Mack finally said. "What makes you think it's leaking?"
"You are covered in water Friend Dodge!" Fifty-seven Clicks insisted. Mack heard the fluttering of leathery wings and felt a velvet brush against his back before the Itsy-Bitsy Hellbat flew around to his face and held up a dripping wet manipulating claw. "Look at this!"
"That's just sweat," Mack said with a sigh, slinging his pack back on and securing the buckles. "Come on I've rested enough. Let's get going. I want to make another ten miles before we make camp."
"What is sweat and where is it coming from if not your water reservoir?" Fifty-seven Clicks demanded, fluttering around in front of Mack, his dusky ginger fur catching the dim light of the three suns.
"Did you read the section in our briefing about how humans achieve thermoregulation?" Mack asked ruefully, already knowing the answer.
"No," Fifty-seven Clicks replied without any seeming embarrassment.
Mack sighed and shook his head as he started out. "I have a set of glands that pump water out from my internal reserves and then my skin uses the resulting temperature drop due to evaporation to pull the heat away from my internals and radiate it out into the surrounding atmosphere." Maybe not the most accurate summation but internal biology wasn't really his specialty.
He hoped he was mostly accurate because Fifty-seven Clicks was so stunned by this revelation that he waited what must have been a full five seconds before replying.
"The amount of water you must have to store would be enormous!" He chattered out excitedly.
"I'm ninety percent water," Mack commented though his training suggested this might not be strictly relevant.
"That is a lot of weight!" Fifty-seven Clicks still seemed shocked. "Just to carry around and expend like that."
"Legs," Mack indicated the limbs in question. "They are really good for carrying extra weight."
"It just seems inefficient," Fifty-seven Clicks commented.
"Well we can't all have sensory horn that double as thermoregulators," Mack said philosophically.
"They are very useful," Fifty-seven Clicks agreed, hovering to preen the organs in question. His four, rightly two and a half sets, marked him as rather young but they were quiet a source of pride to him.
Mack grinned and gave a chuckle. It was going to be a long walk and he was glad Fifty-seven Clicks was in a good mood.