Medical Officer Ch’ch’tk answered the frantic summons to the communal off-duty room. Call-me-Betty-Jo had come back from visiting home and according to Lrangaka, she was injured. Ch’ch’tk was not in a great hurry as Lrangaka tended to lose fur every time CallMeBettyJo did anything other than eat or sleep. And sometimes then. Xi shuddered at the memory of the C18H27NO3 incident. Xi thought Lrangaka was going to end up bald, not an attractive look.
Xi heard CallMeBettyJo’s adorable utterances, “I’m fine, I’ll be glad to show you as soon as it’s healed up some.” That did sound alarming. Xi hurried a bit more. Lrangaka was shedding fur again as CallMeBettyJo was fending off Xir’s truhands. Xi was wringing xir’s falsehands and reaching for what looked like a bandage on CallMeBettyJo.
“CallMeBettyJo, you are injured! Why was I not informed!”
“I’m not injured. I just got a [no translation]. It just needs a little more time to heal. But to ease y’all’s minds, I’ll show you.”
CallMeBettyJo peeled off part of her bandage; that couldn’t be safe. Her skin was colored underneath it.
“Y’all like it? It’s a [flying avian] on a [mammal plantfiber]. A little touch of home.”
Ch’ch’tk tried to understand. “You painted your epidermis?”
“I did for awhile, to see if I liked it enough to make it permanent. This last trip home, I took the plunge.”
Almost afraid to ask, but bearing up to xi’s responsibility to the health of the crew, “How is it made permanent?”
“Oh, the artist sticks a needle feeding ink into my dermis. Once the skin heals, it’s all good. I can’t wait.”
“Is this a rite of passage? Religious significance? Part of adulthood?”
“Naw, I was just a little homesick.”
With a sigh, Ch’ch’tk began xi’s efforts to soothe Lrangaka and prevent further fur loss.