Senior Radar Technician X'melborp approached Human Greg's cubicle and found it empty. Again.
His antennae dropped slightly in disappointment. He had even called ahead this time to alert Human Greg that he intended to visit.
Human Greg had been avoiding him since the writing challenge last month, which was strange because, though there had been no true "competition," everyone had agreed that his entry had clearly won.
He was turning to go when he bumped into another Technician.
"Technician Val'raex," he said, crossing all four of his arms in an Andarian salute.
She returned the salute. "Technician X'melborp. What brings you here? Have you completed your TPS reports?"
"No, no. I was merely seeking out Human Greg. I have not seen him since his Community Building Writing Exercise."
She chuckled softly. "Yes, your entry was very humorous. Some of the staff have taken to quoting lines from it at Human Greg when he starts acting too Human."
X'melborp smiled. "I thank you for the compliment. Have you seen him?"
"I believe he is in the mess hall having spirits."
X'melborp perked up. This was a good sign; his research had indicated that humans often partook in drinks that altered their conscious states while celebrating. He thanked Val'raex and hurried to the mess hall.
The hall was busy, but not as busy as it was at the allotted eating times. Human Greg was at the spirit dispensary at the far end, slouching over the bar.
X'melborp was cheered. This obviously indicated that Human Greg was relaxed and in a sociable mood.
"Human Greg!" he called. "You have yet to congratulate me on the popularity of my writing!"
Greg looked up at him blearily. "Good job, Smell-borp."
X'melborp resisted the urge to correct Greg's pronunciation. He sat down in the empty seat beside Greg.
"Human Greg, why have you been avoiding me?"
"I dunno," said Greg. "I figured if I was so awful, you wouldn't want to associate with me."
"I am of a magnanimous people," said X'melborp. "We are able to look past the inherent inferiority of other species."
Greg cast him a look, then focused back on his drink. "Yeah, sure."
X'melborp noticed that the other staff members-- two fellow Andarians and two Velorvian-- at the bar kept looking at him and Greg, then looking away to whisper at eachother.
"Hello, Shipmates," he said. "Might I ask what is so humorous?"
"A list of humans who are terrible," said a fellow Andarian. "It's Greg! Greg is the terrible one! He's the only human aboard the Prosperity!"
She cracked up, and her companions fell over themselves laughing, or shaking tentacles with mirth, or glowing a particular shade of orange that indicated humor.
X'melborp laughed too.
"It's true!" he said, wrapping one of his arms around Greg's shoulders. "You are the only human permitted on the Prosperity, so you are by nature the worst one aboard!"
Greg stared into his drink.
"Come now, Human Greg!" said X'melborp. "It is a funny joke!"
"Why don't you just shut up?" said Greg.
The laughter all stopped.
"There's no need to be rude," said one of the Velorvian crew mates.
"It was just a joke, Human Greg," said X'melborp.
"Fucking hell," muttered Greg, getting up. "It's high school all over again."
He left. X'melborp watched him go with a sinking feeling in his abdomen. This had not seemed like a celebration.