Challenge #02010-E186: Steep Learning Curve on the Explorer Seventeen

in fiction •  3 months ago

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There’s always talk of how humans pack bond to everyone and everything. But that sort of connection, especially with sentiments, needs to be mutual. So how do humans cope with being the only human on a ship? With loneliness?
Who supports the one who’s supposed to do all the supporting? -- Anon Guest.

"We are here because something is happening to the Ship's Human. Grox? You are the one who's been cataloguing symptoms."

"I'm the assigned envoy. I have to work with the human. Over these most recent weeks, I've noticed an increasing set of symptoms. Our Human has begun seeking increasing environments of warmth, needing more sleep, and experiencing some difficulty with their breathing. They have been seen holding their arms despite the optimal temperature settings for their physical needs. Their overall demeanour is becoming decreasingly energetic. I suspect we may have another broken human."

Scientist Prex was looking things up. "This is an... emotional issue," ze said. "According to my research, our human is suffering from a condition called 'depression'."

"It's sad," translated Grox. "But it has everything it needs. Air, shelter, food. It's even pack-bonded with us. We need a different human."

Thork was frowning. Looking at reports. "Other ships don't have this trouble. Why is it that we're the only ones who need to swap out humans every handful of months?"

Kaz had used some of the Ships' bandwidth to download some home fids and was watching one of a crew and their human. "Contact," ze said. "The Human pets us. We do not pet it. It is expending pack-bonding energy for us, to us, and we are not returning their gestures."

It was like a dawning light.

"The Human is sad because it thinks we're not pack bonding in return?"

"In essence. Yes. I suggest we start small and acclimate."

They didn't. They started with hugs and apologies and the Human's favourite versions of theobromine and treat food. Humans were so valuable as shipboard and EVA protectors that none of the crew wanted the fuss and bother of obtaining yet another human.

And then they learned that their Human was a hugger. Which was an entirely new problem to solve.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / 3000ad]

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