Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay
Plathack shivered and his scales bristled against each other as he cradled the source of warmth between his claws.
The storm was fierce, raging below the observation deck of the suborbital station. Sheets of ice shattered in the torrents and buffeted against the planet facing panels, and the howling – Plathack had to drown it from his mind with meditative techniques – it rattled the very platform, portents of insidious horrors from his species’ ancient past.
He focused on the cup of tea, soaking in the warmth through the scales on his hands. Those humans might be strange, but they knew how to deal with a stormy day.
“Field team is breaching the upper stratosphere, Sir. The shuttle should be docking momentarily.” Sarah was operating the control deck this shift.
Plathack always found her to be the more sensible human on this expedition, unlike the ones who volunteered to go on the repair run through this storm. Poor Gythnat let herself get dragged along, couldn’t stand the thought of a botched repair job.
“Thank you for the update, Comm. Tech Sarah. If you don’t mind me asking, you seem rather flat today?”
A change in her posture, her shoulders drooped and Plathack sighed with relief – a successful initiation of small talk. The cross cultural training had worked out well. It did seem strange to him that humans enjoyed small talk in most situations, he found it a difficult concept to grasp in a professional setting, but his work on noticing subtle differences and commenting on them in his crewmates was paying off.
“Ah…” she hesitated, “Sorry Sir, it’s just hard spending such a long time away from my children.”
“Oh?” Sorry, an apology… for what? He clicked against the tea cup with his claws. “Yes… it is hard to be away from your offspring for so long.”
There was a clamour and a hiss of air, “Field shuttle docked,” the platform’s AI announced.
“Ah,” Plathack beamed, “Our crewmates are returned safely.”
The docking bay doors screeched open and three sopping wet crewmates stood in the bay, soaked in mud and ice cold water. The field team consisted of two humans and the only other Liman on the station other than Plathack.
“Mission success Sir!” Roger beamed.
“Yeah, just a bent antenna, really no need for Gythnat to come along at all.” Dan reported.
Gythnat slinked down onto her haunches and started scraping the mud from her scales. She shot Plathack a bitter look and he didn’t press any further.
“Excellent work then crew. Perhaps you two should clean yourselves up?” Plathack suggested.
“Aye aye Sir!” Roger saluted.
“Yeah guys,” Sarah laughed, “Hit the showers and don’t take all of the hot water!”
“Yes Ma’am,” Dan replied, “Can’t guarantee that Roger won’t though – ow!”
“I just can’t resist a nice long hot shower after an icy day!” Roger and Dan took odd swipes at each other as they squelched across the observation deck to the human quarters.
Sarah laughed as they went, “Hey!” She cried, “You lot are getting mud everywhere!”
The two human males left the platform and the doors sealed shut behind them. A ping popped up on Sarah’s console and she attended to it as Gythnat rose, having scraped most of the mud from her golden scales.
“I don’t get these humans, Plathack. They’re all crazy! Those two whooped and cheered as they rattled through that obscene storm and stopped to look at every lashing of lightning while we were repairing the antenna!”
“Well you were safe, you were wearing faraday suits no?” Plathack slurped from the tea with his tongue.
“Of course, but it’s still lunacy!” She finished scraping the mud from her legs and flicked it onto the floor. “And now they retreat from the torrents of rain and subject themselves to even more water? It boggles the mind!”
“I know it’s odd, Gythnat. But humans usually take comfort from hot water like that.” He held up the tea cup, “Whether ingesting it or throwing it over their bodies in those showers. I’m sure we act strangely to them as well.”
“That’s a fair assessment Plathack… I’m going to go curl up under the red lamps.”
“Enjoy yourself!” Plathack waved Gythnat off and turned back to Sarah. “Oh…” Liquid flowed from her eyes. “Comm. Tech Sara… I believe you are displaying negative emotions by crying.”
“Oh, what? Oh yes Sir I’m so sorry! It’s just that my husband sent me a video, I missed my baby’s first steps!” The tears intensified along with a pained gasping noise. “My little baby!”
“Oh my…” Plathack thought quickly. My fellow human is in distress, it seems as if she is asphyxiating… I need to help her… He glanced down at his tea, Warm water thrown over the body!
Plathack rushed over to Sarah and tipped his tea cup over her head. She stifled a gasp and went rigid as the warm liquid dripped down her hair and saturated her clothes. She turned on Plathack, teeth bared, eyes scrunched shut.
Ah, yes, a smile, Plathack thought, and she’s stopped crying.
Sarah took a deep breath and turned from Plathack, storming from the room.
With a satisfied clicking of claw on teacup, Plathanck turned back to the raging storm below.
“Another successful interaction with my human crew.”
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