“Just attach the replacement sensor and we’ll be on our way,” Sixteenth Sister said as she examined the data in front of her.
Her human partner gave a grunt in reply that she had come to learn meant confirmation of her order. He ambled over to the sensor tower at the edge of her perception and Sixteenth Sister tilted her head to absorb the atmosphere. Her frill flicked in unease and her antenna curled a little tighter. She did not like being this exposed. The thick groundcover spread out from their open transport in every direction. The rustling foliage blended with the sky completing the pod, but it was so big, so far. Sixteenth Sister clamped her frill to her neck and drew in a deep breath. Brother Unicus assured her that humans could see for kilometers in clear air, that the joining of the sky and flat land was not so much a pod but a great dome. He said that he loved the sensation. He called it Big Sky country. Her thoughts returned to her partner as something made an alarming clacking sound.
“Brother Unicus?” she asked. “Is the assembly going well?”
“Yeah…no,” Brother Unicus said.
Before Sixteenth Sister could ask for clarification Brother Unicus snapped out a profanity and dropped the sensor.
“Are you injured Brother Unicus?” Sixteenth Sister demanded, leaping out of the transport and dropping her data pad on the seat.
“Not exactly,” Brother Unicus said as he attempted to flex one of his hands.
“Your hand!” Sixteenth Sister clicked in shock.
“Yeah,” Brother Unicus muttered, glancing to the side.
“It is twice the size of your other hand!” Sixteenth Sister said.
“I got stung,” Brother Unicus stated.
“When did the sting occur?” Sixteeth Sister demanded. “Hold a moment. I will get the first aid kit and the data pad.”
“It’s no big deal,” Brother Unicus assured her. “It happens. I don’t react bad to that species.”
“When did the sting occur?” Sixteenth Sister asked again as she pulled up a medical report form.
“About eight o’clock this morning,” Brother Unicus stated.
Her frill snapped out and Sixteenth Sister tilted her head to focus on her partner.
“You have been experiencing this reaction,” she observed slowly, “for nearly six hours?”
“Well it was slow to get started,” Brother Unicus said with a shrug. “Didn’t get bad till about an hour back.”
“Get in the transport,” Sixteenth Sister said, barely able to keep her voice in the low human rangers.
“We gotta finish,” Brother Unicus pointed at the half disassembled sensor network.
Sixteenth Sister bent to snatch the fallen sensor up and stalked up to the human. She arched her legs, flared her frill, and extended her antenna. Even at full extension her antenna tips barely reached his chin.
“I am the senior Ranger,” she said. “Get in the transport and begin filling out the injury report.”
“But…” Brother Unicus began.
“Survey Core Ranger Steven Cole!” she snapped. “You will follow medical protocol!”
At the sound of his full designation Brother Unicus twitched and grabbed the datapad then scurried towards the transport. Sixteenth Sister sighed and quickly put the sensor tower into standby mode. She leapt into the transport and activated the engines.
“What were you thinking?” she demanded.
“I figured if it didn’t get too bad I could work through it,” Brother Unicus said.
Sixteenth Sister curled her antenna at him sternly.
“Medical report,” she snapped. “Now.”
Thank you all so much for your updoots and feedback. It gives me the will to go on. Want to see more? Think about becoming a Patreon. Tea refuses to buy itself and the more time one has to spend on a day job the less time there is for befuddled aliens.