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The Incident Report was filed after Human Greg was admitted to the medical ward.

The official story was that the Aphonopelma Eutylenum, "ebony ground tarantula" called Quark got out of its enclosure, had clung to Technician X'melborp without the latter's knowledge, then jumped into Human Greg, causing him to lose balance and fall.

X'melborp wanted to throw himself on the Commander's mercy, but Greg insisted that they play the entire thing as an accident. Though he was not yet permitted to speak to X'melborp in person, he sent Xmelborp several messages via the personal Comms device once he was able to move his fingers enough. They all said the same idea: "don't say anything. I'm fine. It was all just an accident."

When questioned further by Commander TeFal'ar, Gregory maintained up and down that the spider jumped. When told that X'melborp, after some initial waffling, had confessed tearfully to the whole affair, human Greg insisted that stress had gotten to X'melborp and that he was remembering things incorrectly. When confronted with X'melborp's video evidence, Greg shrugged and said that video recording devices could malfunction.

"Human Greg," said Commander TeFal'ar. They were in Greg's room in the infirmary, going into their third hour of debriefing.

"Yes, Commander?" Despite his clear exhaustion, Gregory still sat up straight in the bed.

"Andarians are not prone towards dishonesty," she said.

"That is good," said Greg, keeping his voice neutral.

"I understand that you and Technician X'melborp have become close."

"Yes, Commander."

"I understand your most recent reports to your Human superiors regarding the Prosperity have been. . . Positive. You are in favor of continuing the Human Integration on the Prosperity."

Greg nodded once. "Yes, Commander."

"In also understand that you have requested that this incident report not be sent to the Earth Galactic Embassies."

"It was a minor workplace mishap. I see no need to concern them."

TeFal'ar looked at him in silence long enough for it to become awkward. Then she nodded.

"I thank you for the endorsement. And. . . I am glad that you and X'melborp are friends. I believe that, despite some of the more questionable "Earth Habits" he's become infatuated with, you have been a positive social influence on him. Please play safely in the future." She cracked a small smile. "My son can be very excitable."

Greg blinked in surprise, but said, "I will do my best, Commander."

She left.

X'melborp ran in a second later.

"Human Greg!" he said, aghast. "Your face!" He stared in horror at the rig Greg's leg was hanging on. "Your leg! What happened to it?"

Greg leaned back against the pile of pillows. "It's broken, dingus! That's what happens when you push someone down a flight of stairs!"

X'melborp cautiously approached the side of the bed where Greg's broken leg was hanging up.

"Broken?" he said. His voice was high and strained. "It is actually broken? How will you walk?"

"Badly," said Greg.

X'melborp was shaking. His bat-like ears were pressed back against his head, and his antennae looked like they were trying to curl into his skull. "I am so sorry, Human Greg."

"Good," said Greg. "You should be! You didn't tell me the Commander was your mother!"

X'melborp ignored him. He took a deep breath and said, voice shaking, "W-when do you go back to Earth?"

"Go back?" Greg frowned. "I'm not going back."

"But your leg!" said X'melborp. "It's broken!"


X'melborp stared. "It's broken."

Greg wasn't 100% on Andarian physiology, but he thought X'melborp might faint. A thought occurred, and he shot up in the bed.

"X'melborp! It's fine! The bone is broken, but it will heal! Human bones heal when they're broken. This isn't even the first time it's happened to me. I'll be able to walk again, okay?"

"Really?" X'melborp squeaked.

"Yeah, it's fine. I'm fine."

X'melborp stared t him a moment, wide-eyed. Then, he rushed forward and attempted to hug him.

"Ow wait stop stOP STOP--"

X'melborp jumped back. "I'm sorry! I thought you were fine!"

"I will be! It's just-- I'm still banged up, okay? And your hugs are very enthusiastic." Greg leaned back. "Haven't you ever broken a bone before? Don't Andarian bones heal?"

"No," X'melborp said. "We don't break. Or rather, our structure is secure enough that if something of structural importance inside us is broken, that means the rest of us is already dead." He tentatively pointed to Greg's head. "Your face... your hands... they're lacerated. . ."

"Just a little cut up from the fall. Human skin heals too. It's fine, I'm fine, okay?"

"And the mottled coloring on your eyes and cheeks? It's on your arms, too. What is that? Is it to inform others that you've been hurt?"

"Uh, no. Those are called bruises. It's another kind of minor injury. It means blood vessels have broken under the skin--"

"They can do that?!" said X'melborp.

Greg winced. "Yeah. Do. . . do Andarians not get those?"

X'melborp looked like he was going to have a heart attack. "Your skin rips like thin paper. Your bones break under pressure. Your veins, which transport blood, which keeps you alive can break from moderate force."


"Human Greg, why was I not told how delicate humans are?! In all my research, no one mentioned that you can just break!"


"All this time, you have been walking around the ship unmonitored, and you could have died! All the pranks we have been playing, you could have been hurt so much worse, so much sooner!" X'melborp straightened suddenly. "I have to inform the crew," he said.


"I have to inform the rest of the crew! Every other species aboard is of a hardy, structurally sound people. None of us were informed of how delicate humans are-- we have to human proof the ship!" He turned to go, taking his Comms device out of his lab coat's pockets as he did.

"X'melborp! It's fine, you don't have to--"

But he was already gone.

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