The soft hush of the main administrative offices, today broken only by the occasional odd twang, was immensely soothing to Second Click’s rather frayed nerves and he reveled in it as he flexed the bottoms of his feet over the smooth grain of the wood. His assistant, a polite and quiet local hired more to keep him company than to share in the little work made an assenting sound, flexing his own feet in appreciation. Though the structure had been designed by the savanna loving humans it was quite comfortable for the more forest dwelling Winged. They had built the majority of the structure ot their own massive scale of course, but they had crafted it from the deadwood felled by a local volcanic eruption. They had chosen to leave as much of the natural branch structure as possible intact in the higher regions of the structure where they posed no trip hazard to their notoriously unstable gate. This made the upper regions of their buildings delightful, if occasionally inconvenient places for the Winged to put their own offices and living structures. Not to mention that having the vast spaces between the humans’ heads and the curved rafters of the ceiling for flight space during the local planet’s frigged winters was the main reason this planet was considered habitable.
The fact that his current position was half punishment and half a medically required rest cure did sour the experience for him the slightest breeze, but he had the solace of knowing that his mismanagement had not dragged the rest of his wing with him, and the population of this particular human colony was especially friendly even by human standards. Not that he was hiding from them at the moment, but the neigh impenetrable concealment the upper levels offered from the humans could be as soothing as any other aspect of the space.
He idly prodded the pile of paperwork on his desk with a wing hook. These were important documents he needed to attend, but there was no particular order of priority and as he was feeling rather stiff in the wing today he figured he might as well start with the most annoying and save the most pleasant for the downglide. He shoved the mass of documentation regarding a newly paired couple of humans to the side. He would have to summon them both to witness that and he greatly looked forward to the pleasure of questioning them on all the details of their union and the traditions he had arrived just to late to participate in. He picked up the report on the anti-crystallization efforts for the primary water filtration system and began to work.
The odd twang he had noticed before came again followed by the snap of something low tension striking something soft and he idly rubbed his sensory horns. The sound had been an irregular occurrence since he had arrived. He had yet to determine the source, however it was invariably followed by laughter and cheerful human voices so he had not prioritized flitting in on it, despite the way the initial twang made his sensory horns vibrate uneasily. The colony, new to him at least, was a sensory buffet of new and perplexing sensations.
Today the odd twanging sound persisted longer and occurred with more frequency. The sounds of human enjoyment also increased and it soon became clear that whatever was causing the high tension twang was smacking into the wood of the walls and ceiling more often than the softer surfaces it had been before. Second Click even heard the impact sound strike close by, followed by a loose ricochet. If such a soft flopping rebound could be called a ricochet. He signed off on his decision on the water treatment and reached for the analysis of the stability of the high canopy directly over the human’s main residential area.
By the time he was more than ready to so out and be sociable at the humans’ lunch hour the pile had not noticeably decreased but he was far from dissatisfied with his morning’s work. His rather over strict medical orders indicated that he was to retire for the day soon so he began gathering up the various documents pertinent to his final task.
Below him several humans were calling out in perplexity about the ‘big blue one’. From what little his attention picked up an item, a universal favorite, had gotten lost. Their readiness to loose track of the vectors of even the most important of items was a constant perplexity to Second Click, but at no one seemed inclined to ask a Winged for aid in finding it he let the sounds flow over him.
Second Click peered eagerly at the various options for changing the names of the humans involved. The genetic analysis and the list of options he was to offer them about scans for radiation damage. When it came to the traditions of uniting a pair of mates to bring forth new life on his own world had been complex, beautiful, and often frustrating to understand. When you added the complexity of a species’ difference of culture and biology it became a riddle worth the most agile sage. He had chosen this post in no little hope of being able to indulge his fascination with the concept.
Once he had everything gathered he tucked them into his satchel and felt the weight experimentally. His doctors had been quite strict about not stressing his pectoral muscles. It should be well within his current capacity, but he still found himself quite ready to gnaw at that capacity that was so much less that what he had been capable of even a year ago. He brushed the unpleasant thought aside and focused on how much fun he was going to have aiding a newly mated pair with their transition. He hopped out of his office space and began skipping down the long branch that made up the outer corridor.
He was almost to the leap point that would release him to the main area when his nostril frills twitched in irritation at the scent of a bleeding tree. Confusion stopped him and he glanced around, for the briefest of moments wondering how the long dead wood, felled by a volcanic eruption no less, was giving off the smell of fresh if sour sap. The answers showed itself in a blue circular strap hanging limply over a small branch protruding from the side of the walkway.
Second Click hopped over to it as one question was answers with three more. This was one of the local products the humans produced. They bled the trees on a seasonal basis and then refined the sap into various useful substance. These were the straps that they used to contain various small burdens, small for the humans. The Winged had found them useful for securing burdens to the mechanical transports but the surface was hardly something you wanted to have abrading your fur for any length of time.
Second Click found himself utterly perplexed as to how this one had landed here. True the humans were not bad at throwing things. In fact they were probably the closest to the Winged in terms of raw vector management when it came to self external bodies at least. However it would have required a series of calculations that would be nearly impossible for even a Winged to have tossed the strap up here. He set his perplexity to the side and gently kicked the band off the stub it had caught on. This was clearly what the humans had been looking for and they could now find it on the floor below. He shifted his carry satchel slightly and took a few hops airborn.
He reached the shared workspace he was scheduled to meet the paired humans in and arranged the files, the scanners, and the larger human documents to his liking on the workspace. Outside the privacy screen he heard a shout of delight and exclamations that made him hum with delight as the humans found the blue circular strap. He glanced at the time and clicked his teeth in slight annoyance. The humans he was supposed to meet were late. He left the paperwork on the table and flew out to see if he could find them. He rounded the privacy screen and pinged the threat instantly.
The blue circular strap was zipping through the air at him. It was circling it’s axis in an odd manner that suggested it had been launched with uneven tension. This gave it impressive speed, far too much speed for him to dodge and he felt it from the sensory horns to his tail that he wouldn’t be able to move fast enough. The flexing trees’ blood struck his sensory horns at their base sending every sense sparking. He wondered how he was tasting those little flecks of light. Light didn’t usually have a taste. Slowly the sparking faded into a smooth cycling motion and he realized that someone, a medic, it had to be a medic, no one else’s wings smelled quite so much like disinfectant, was gently massaging his ringing sensory horns.
“He’s focusing!” Sarah Beth called out eagerly. “I think he’s coming round!”
“Stay back and give him room,” Donald’s voice warned from somewhere behind her.
“You were both late for our meeting!” Second Click pointed out.
Or at least he thought he did. He must have spoken his native language. Or possibly just slurred the low rumbling he had learned for a human language because the human female who was gradually coming into focus between the fireworks display his brain was putting on glanced back at her mate in confusion.
“He’s winging about your being late for the meeting,” the medic translate with an exasperated fluffing of his fur.
“Oh!” Sarah Beth blinked in surprise and opened and closed her mouth a few times. “Well, guess I’m sorry about that too.”
“We are so sorry!” Donald interjected from somewhere behind her.
Second Click divined from the fact that the medic wasn’t restraining him that the blow from the band had not damaged his spine and gingerly pulled himself into a more comfortable position. The medic confirmed his surmise by helping him up.
“Do I need time in your bole of torture?” he asked.
The medic fluffed in enough indignation that Second Click was able to gather the answer was no even before the medic confirmed it.
“You just had a bad case of sensory overload,” the medic explained. “The rubber band had nearly spent its energy by the time it hit you and you landed soft enough and if you mind your stretching exercises you should be fine.”
“Rubber band,” Second Click muttered glancing around.
Sarah Beth held up the blue circular strap with a guilty look on her face.
Second Click drew in a long breath and rubbed a winghook over the tender sensory horn.
“Do I need to ask any obvious questions?” he asked.
“Mamma Conner sent us a real fun wedding gift,” Sarah Beth said with a laugh.
She held up a shaped block of wood with a few simple levers attached.
“She said this was in case I ever got tempted to shoot Donny,” she went on. “She sent one for each of us of course and because they were just toys we didn’t figure we needed to warn anyone or not use them indoors.”
“I would have appreciated a warning at least,” Second Click said in a dry tone as he got unsteadily to his feet.
“We won’t be playing in the shred spaces no more,” Sarah Beth said quickly holding out her hand.
Second Click accepted her hand as he tried to process that double negative.
“Let’s discuss this after we get your paperwork done,” he said with a sigh. “I am interested to see if this mock combat play is quite normal for a newly mated couple.”
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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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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 $60 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.