"Am I weird?"
"Yes, that's why we get along." -- Anon Guest
They say things like, There's always one, or, Strange is as strange does; but what they generally mean by that is, Look at the statistical outlier. It's not always done with malice, but it certainly feels that way when one is on the receiving end. For those who experience this sort of thing first hand, it's interesting how the statistical outliers are reviled and expelled from groups as "too strange" or other disparaging remarks... until such time as that outlier factor becomes useful in some way.
Such as, for instance, a morbid fascination with all things Human. This was Gurx's weird hobby in their youth, and now had become an asset aboard the Skulk and Sniff as it plied the asteroid fields of Nenkus IV. Now, instead of being, "creepily fascinated," or, "ghoulish," Gurx was now, "so good with them," and, "so capable with communicating between species." Which just goes to show how cogniscents everywhere are willing to reclassify unusual traits as soon as they become blatantly necessary.
Gurx had an able command of Human phraseologies, sayings, and memetic communications that bordered as close to expert as anyone could get without certification from a Xeno-communications course at a top-level educational establishment. Since she didn't have such certifications, the corporate body behind the Skulk and Sniff's mission could excuse lowering their overall costs because Gurx's education was freelance. Explaining this to the Humans took some time, but they understood entirely too well.
"You want us go hitting? Much good at hitting," they offered. Conversations with Humans were almost always in Galstand Simple.
"No, no. No hitting. Hitting no changing anything." Gurx carefully patted a heavily-tattooed arm. "Much better being nice all time. Much better looking good."
Understanding nods and mutters of, "Performance review," in their native tongue. From that moment on, as the Humans might say, butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. The entire cadre of five bulky, beefy Humans treated Gurx as their best friend who was also their superior during work hours. They even spent their free time together, sharing assorted entertainments and refreshments during their idle hours.
Gurx picked up a lot of the Human tongue during that trip. Enough to understand not only the words, but also the meaning behind them. Only one other aboard that vessel even made the effort. A minor hygiene technician known as Koth. He was softly spoken and avoided everyone on the ship but the Humans and, by extension, Gurx.
It took some time to coax Koth into sharing relaxation time with them, but the effort was worth it. The shy young male came out of their shell and revealed a passion similar to Gurx's, though not quite in the same direction.
Finally, as they were sharing a meal on the way back to a more civilised port, Koth asked the question that must have been smouldering inside him for months.
"Am I weird?"
Gurx didn't have to think about it. "Of course you are. That's why I like you."
This alarmed him more than a little. He began to look upset.
"It's all right," soothed Gurx. "Sooner or later, weird becomes good. It doesn't happen instantly, but it does happen. The trick is to find the space where your weird fits, and place yourself there."
"It sounds like a long search," said Koth.
"Mine was. Yours might be shorter. There's always ships looking for people who can get along with Humans. Look for berths with them. You may even advance."
Now the joy and promise returned to his eyes. It would be a wonder to see this strange flower bloom into confidence. Gurx was certainly aiming to keep touch and provide vital advice whenever it was needed. Weird, after all, liked to encourage weird.
It made them feel less alone.
 Galactic laws would, eventually, prevent such shenanigans by viewing all education as an investment of a cogniscents' time towards gathering useful knowledge and skills.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / 3000ad]
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