Grabsforyou slipped out of the transport channel and through the flexible iris into the human sleeping pods. He paused and shook his appendages vigorously to get rid of any excess water and shuffled eagerly out of the mudroom and into the common socialization area. A warm rush of now familiar scents washed over him, though thinned by air he could still identify the traces of the friend he had come to visit. Though it was getting trickier now that Human Friend Tom (previously Tommy) had reproduced. The new Human Friend Tommy (apparently the extra syllable was an indicator of youth dropped with successful reproduction) had a very similar chemical profile to his father.
“Human Friend Tom!” Grabsforyou called out as he spotted the human examining something his offspring was grasping. “What flows in the current?”
“I found a good stick!” Human Friend Tommy interjected, waving the thing in his appendages.
Human Friend Tom nodded with a set to his face that Grabsforyou had come to understand as serious consideration.
“Tommy here was just showing me the stick he found,” Human Friend Tom agreed. “It’s a nice stick. Good and sturdy.”
“See?” Human Friend Tommy called out, wriggling his arms and shoulders in a delight filled invitation for Grabsforyou to climb up his back.
Grabsforyou gladly accepted. Human Friend Tommy had only just achieved the mass to balance easily with the weight of a full grown Undulate on his shoulders and still took great pride in providing a perch for any Undulate friend who wanted one. Grabsforyou still kept a thread of attention on Human Friend Tom’s body language for any warnings and scrambled up the short distance. Human Friend Tommy grinned as he held the stick close for Grabsforyou to feel. The Undulate obediently felt the stick. It was a detached branch from a species of tree native to the world. From it’s chemical profile it had been dead some time. It might have been one that Grabsforyou himself had tossed out of the cultivated reefs during cleaning season.
“It is sturdy,” he observed cautiously.
That word he understood. He probably could break the thing if he tried, but it would require all of his effort. Human Friend Tommy seemed satisfied with his response and began waving the stick around in a rather martial accent. Human Friend Tom indicated the table and Grabsforyou accepted the suggestion. A few more of the humans offspring, older than Tommy with more mass, came in carrying baskets of harvested berries and the younger human darted up to show them the stick as they unloaded their bounty. Grabsforyou noted with growing bemusement that the other humans were equally impressed with the stick. It was ‘straight’ (it was), it was sturdy (again), it had haft (he wasn’t sure that was a real human word).
Human Friend Mi Cha entered behind her offspring and took a moment to direct their cleaning efforts before greeting Grabsforyou. Human Friend Tommy took this as his cue to join his offspring in their work after giving his mate a kiss.
“Human Friend Mi Cha,” Grabsforyou asked when she had poured them both a cup of tea. “What precisely is so special about that stick?”
The human’s body rippled with what he had come to understand was suppressed laughter and her eye sparkled with human love light as she watched her mate and offspring.
“I think I once knew,” she said in soft tones, her body showing a touch of perplexity and regret mixed with the humor, “but if so I have forgotten. See if you can figure it out Undulate Friend Grabsforyou, then please tell me.”