I always believed that humans were these unstoppable beasts, until I met one of their infants. -- Anon Guest
Elsewhere Station. Here there be Humans. Seryk watched hir step. Ze only wanted to hire one human for the exploratory mission and this was one of the Edge Territory stations where they were reputed to swarm. So far, Seryk had seen numerous Edge species, but few Humans.
Those who were present were busy at other occupations. Seryk searched for hours, but found few willing to work for hir. The few who did want to work for Seryk and hir crew lacked the qualities that hir team was looking for in a Ship's Human. The entire day was a vortex of disappointment and discouragement, which found a brief respite in the station's biggest park.
Seryk found some amenable foods and a perch to rest on while ze ate. It was true that the Humans were unstoppable, as ze hadn't been able to stop a single one nor interest the wanted ones enough to join their expedition. It was there, when Seryk was in a calming, nigh-meditative state, that ze met the extreme of under-impressive Humans.
The creature was less than two feet tall and unsteady on their two feet. In fact, the wobbling progress was regularly interrupted by failures in which the small human lost their balance and plopped abruptly down to the ground. This didn't seem to disturb the small Human, as they repeatedly wrestled their way into verticality again.
Saryk watched in pure puzzlement. This was... Human young? The creature certainly seemed far less able than the normal Humans ze had seen. Since the little Human seemed fascinated by hir, ze risked, "Hello?"
The small Human reacted. "Ee! Zi ba wenah yoo sa ber nana. Aber zu washi."
That... was not any language known to the Galactic Alliance, and they made it their business to know at least a smattering of every language they came into contact with.
"My apologies," Seryk managed. "I am unfamiliar with your mode of communication."
This made no impact. "Yi na wiji karo ma," said the small Human. "Nenu a thabeh."
"You speaking GalStand Simple?"
At which point one of the little Human's parental units arrived, scooping what had to be a child into their arms. "Rule one, sweetie. Stay close."
"Neh ya wib'l," muttered the child.
"You're only sorry you got caught, you little scamp," said the grown Human lovingly. "Was she bothering you?"
"Not yet," Seryk allowed. "Please, I would like to know what language she's speaking."
"Oh, it isn't language, not exactly. It's practice for language. Something we know as Scribble. It's not words, but rather attempts at words. She hasn't figured out the real ones yet."
"Yoo noo noo," said the child. "Es tikki tak nava."
"Yes, they do look like a lizard."
This almost blew Seryk's exhausted mind. "If that isn't language... how can you understand her?"
The parental shrugged. "It's mostly in the tone of voice. And a dash of body language. That, and it helps to carry on conversations. Helps develop communication skills."
"Wawa ne gah ribble," said the child.
"Darn tootin', it's important. Well said."
Seryk was left with hir snack, boggling after parent and child. This had to be a key to something, but Seryk could not begin to figure out what it unlocked.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Pichunter]
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