Administrator Naqebtran steepled their fingers, seventeen in total, and looked across the desk at O’Rourke. The colonial officials called it the ‘selfie stare’ because Naqebtran usually appeared to be doing a ‘duck face’ with their rather large lips. Erhv-Skire like Naqebtran had the lips for an entirely different purpose, for covering the baleen-like plates that they used to filter airborne plankton. But O’Rourke couldn’t help but anthropomotphize Naqebtran, especially given the incongruous look that those lush lips gave when surrounded by bristly hair-like projections.

“I want you to tell me what, exactly, happened in the mines, Mr. O’Rourke,” Naqebtran said, in the reedy voice common to Erhv-Skire. Some of them used a synthetic resonator when dealing with humans, believing that a deeper voice would lend them more respect. Naqebtran had, in their first address as administrator, denounced this, insisting that the miners listen to the message and not how it was delivered.

This left O’Rourke in the unenviable position of attempting not to laugh at the administrator’s appearance while answering questions about the accidents–murders?–which Naqebtran was clearly taking very seriously.

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