"Yes, I see it."
Her voice came through the translator cold, crisp, and British. John himself was slowly learn Ekairian, though he would never be able speak speak it himself, he had long since decided it was the civil thing to do since many Ekairs understood English. Well, at least, the few he had met did. "Can you pull it through?"
The pincers of John's waldo waited patiently while Shannaire wound her way through the tight ducts and out into the crawlspace where it crouched. John himself was on the other side of the wall, tethered to the outside of the shaft, wearing his control gloves and helmet-mounted display.
She came out right in front of him, her own waldo grasping the loose panel assembly. She was an Ekair, so grabbing things with her own appendages were physically impossible, but with a suit-mounted waldo controlled by her deft tongue she was easily twice as valuable as he.
John Beach, on the other hand was willing and comfortable working with Ekairs, and they with him, making him nearly as priceless. But not quite.
John didn't like to exchange social niceties, he mused to himself in the third person, and that probably helped. Ekairs with their snake-like build and evolutionary history, could smell pheremones with their tongues, so didn't need small-talk to determine whether or not everyone was "fine."
That seemed like a grand setup to him, who could barely stand the company of other humans, and whose hobbies included and were mostly limited to working. He loved the field of vacuum techology, loved working in it, but didn't so much love the rougher countruction types who tended to populate the dormitories.
Shannaire, on the other hand, was struggling not to think aloud. Her space suit could roughly interpret the pheromones her body produced, and those would fluctuate if she thought too loudly. It was harder being an Ekair in space than most humans thought.
"How did you get loose, you little bugger? Hmm?" He turned it over gingerly in his waldo's hands, barely noticing that he was talking to the equipment, an old habit.
"The screws are stripped, but only partially. The panel was not fully attached, and then subjected to unusual amount of stress. Likely the lax attentions of your construction kin."
He resented being evolutionarily related to most of his species, but kept it from his voice, knowing Shannaire was at least impartially familiar to his feelings. "Indeed. Shall we do their job for them?"
Character: John Beach | Shannaire
Location: Pentacles system | Piff planet | Puff planet