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Human Greg walked into X'melborp's living chambers without bothering to announce his presence with the telecom pad by the door. He'd been there so frequently that the door sensors recognized him immediately and slid open without him having to break his stride.

"Hey, X'mel," he said, entering the recreation room and holding a mug of imported Earth coffee someone had sent him. "O'atura and Flemnx are holding a poetry reading thingy in the Conservatory. Dunno too much about it, but it sounded kinda neat. You wanna go check it out?"

X'melborp looked up from the sofa where he was sitting. On his lap was a digital scriber, a kind of pad made specifically for writing. While he tapped away on the screen, the air around him was surrounded with holograms of notes, character sheets, concept art, and other things Greg didn't recognize, but assumed were helpful for writing.

"Sounds entertaining," X'melborp said, sounding distracted. "Allow me to complete this next paragraph, and we will be off post-haste."

"Mmhmm." Greg sipped his coffee and waited.

"Hey, X'mel?" he said after a moment.

"Yes, Human Greg?"

"You've got a spider on your head."

X'melborp didn't bother looking up. On top of his head, between his antennae and horns, sat a large brown tarantula. "That is Quark. You recall my esteemed roommate, yes?"

"Yeah. I'm just not used to seeing him crawling on your face."

"Typically he seems to prefer my shoulder. I believe he likes to feel tall." X'melborp peeked at Greg, then returned to typing. "I do not normally take him out when you are around, as the last time you both were forcibly exposed to one another did not go well."

"X'melborp," said Greg "It's been like six months. Didn't you say he had a month left in him, tops? How the hell is that thing still alive?"

Quark, having tired of X'melborp's head, started to make his way precariously down to the Andarian's shoulder. "Perhaps exposure to some elements of the Prosperity has caused Quark to mutate, resulting in his increased longevity."

Greg took a drink from his coffee cup.

"'Kay," he said.

"Should I report this?" X'melborp said, uncertain. He shut off the scriber and twisted his head to look at Quark. "If there is an element in the Prosperity that can mutate Earth arachnids to live longer, it would be of interest to the assorted scientific communities. But I don't want them to take Quark away."

"I think if you told anyone that alien radiation makes spiders live forever, the entire population of humans would, as one, declare war on all Andarians and set fire to your fleets."

"Really?"

"Most people really don't like spiders."

"Oh dear. I had best better not tell anyone, then." He plucked Quark up and went to the table across the room, where he placed the spider gently in his tank.

"Probably for the best," said Greg. "You ready?"

"Yes," said X'melborp.

The two left for the Conservatory.

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