There was more added to the petting post from earlier
“we were going to blow them up, but they engaged in an oddly pleasing patting ritual and, well, it was nice.” -- Gallifreya
They had charged into a human nest that had already been abandoned. Some fired at stationary vehicles. Some fired at mannequins. Some fired because they feared for their lives. But when nothing fired back, the troup took their fingers off their triggers and looked around.
Somehow, the humans had detected them coming and left the area.
Hoxx tread softly through the empty streets. Trying to divine meaning from the alien structures. Humans certainly loved right-angles. It was creepy.
An alert went off. Mandatory sustenance time. He hid in an alley, behind another container for refuse. Under a grid and some boxes that at least felt like a proper burrow. Only there, with the illusion of safety, did Hoxx feel secure enough to eat his rations.
His HUD told him that other members of the troup were doing similar things. There was nothing on his scanners big enough to be a threat. Animals. Some Terran ones, domesticated and left behind, or native ones come to investigate the nutritional content of the refuse containers.
Hoxx concentrated on his food. Best to eat as fast as he could so he and his troup could get on with clearing this area. He ignored the animal on his HUD, directly above his position. All his focus was on his food.
Which was why Hoxx didn't notice that he was being soothingly touched until the toucher started scratching. Firm keratin digging into his itchiest places definitely got his attention.
And there were none of his nest-mates with him.
Hoxx looked up. The animal was not an animal, but a human child. Barely past the infancy stage. Grubby, of course. Perhaps it, too, had been scavenging like the animals.
"Kitty," said the human.
Hoxx stayed very still, chewing his last mouthful. The most dangerous species in the known universe is grooming me. He un-huddled and inspected the box that the human juvenile was in. And the human with it.
The human took this opportunity to use both hands. It was different from nesting, but eminently pleasing. And almost lulled Hoxx to sleep.
The rest of his troup were very shocked to see him carrying a human. It clung to his arm like a squippet, and made a strange noise that seemed to be an indicator of enjoyment.
It sounded something like, giggle giggle giggle.
Hoxx assured his troop that this human meant no harm, and showed them it's 'petting' ritual. They passed the human around, all enjoying the grooming and scratching.
"Alpha One. Come in."
David took up the comms. "Alpha one sentry reporting. I have eyes on the hostiles, sir, but... They're not hostile. Not any more."
"You remember that kid that was unaccounted for? Well, um. She's currently petting the enemy, sir."
There was a long pause.
"Evac base, do you copy?"
"Yeah, I copy, I just don't believe it. I'm sending one scout with comms on to investigate and attempt communication."
"Roger that." David sat, watching, during the most tense and terrifying hour he had ever lived. It was true that four-year-olds were fearless. And this tiny scrap of a kid, a foster child with a knack for running off and hiding at exactly the wrong moments, had done it right, this time.
Like it or not, a small child named Bell had become an ambassador by wanting to pet the kitties. And the Tigrids obviously liked her.