Challenge #02537-F347: Many Ways to Pack BondsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fictionlast year

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The havenworlders hire a human who docks their ship to the havenworlder's own larger research vessel and uses that for their quarters rather than what the havenworlders have provided. When asked why, the human simply responds "It's better this way." But does not care to elaborate. The reason behind the why becomes clear when a havenworlder goes in to bring a gift to the human that has become such a kind friend and asset, when the havenworlder hears horrific screaming coming from the human's sleeping chamber. Hurrying over, they see the human sitting up, bare in bed, covered in sweat with eyes wide in fear. Once the human has calmed down, they explain to their havenworlder companion about night-terrors, and how some who've seen far too much in their life, can suffer from it. -- Anon Guest

At first, the crew of the Little Blue Bird thought that Human Pri valued their personal space. The alternate speculation was that Pri was one of those Humans who thrived in their own mess, or their own sense of order, and therefore had to keep everyone else segregated from it. They weren't expecting a rare mental disorder.

Somnambulism is not a survival trait in environments that require everyone present to leave the airlocks alone. That said, there are similar disorders that can be worse than disturbing for outside viewers. As Byarin found out when they ventured into the docked Human vessel.

Any unfamiliar ground is automatically liminal, especially when it was quiet. Everything is a shell of something unfamiliar. A shape of something that could be, but currently was not. It was a place where Byarin felt compelled to tread carefully, to mind hir step whilst seeking out Human Pri.

Then the screaming began. There weren't any words, but it was frightening enough to automatically activate Byarin's offensensitivity filters, muting the alarming noises and translating them to emotionless text and a pointer indicating the source. There were other infographics, including vocal stress analysis and a thorough scan of the area. The former indicated that Human Pri was going through some extreme terrors. The latter insisted that there was nothing to be terrified of.

Further automated systems were running through the extensive Human Manual looking for potential solutions. When it
had a definite diagnosis, Byarin would have a plan of action. Until that moment arrived, Byarin had to use hir livesuit's sensors to run diagnosis.

Visual confirmation that nothing to scream at was present... that was enough to ascertain that Human Pri was having Night Terrors. Now ze had a plan of action. First. Stay well clear of the Human in case of flailing limbs or accidental reaction. Already done. That, and the Human Pri appeared to be already restrained in some kind of fitted sack. Second, gain the Human's attention and identify oneself.

"Human Pri. This is Adrassi Byarin. Can you hear me?" It took a couple of trials, but Human Pri responded.

Second, assure safety and make a peculiar request. "You are safe, Human Pri. Please name out loud for me five things you can see..." It went down the five standard senses. Four things to feel, three things to hear, two things to smell, and one thing to taste... for which Human Pri smacked their mouth and winced.

"Guh, I gotta brush my teeth... Sorry about that, Byarin. Are you okay?"

The offensensitivity filters graduated down to their standby state. "Yes. I am well and fine. Are you well?"

"A little bit of PTSD, a little bit of Night Terrors... a lot of horrible and vivid subconscious. I'm nominally okay."

"We were concerned you were feeling unwelcome," said Byarin. "Now I see your segregation is imposed for our safety and wellbeing."

"Wait..." Pri said a code-phrase and the fitted sack released its hold. "You guys got me something to help me feel welcome? What is it?"

Byarin offered it. "We acquired for you... a shiny rock!"

Human Pri was incredibly impressed.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Irrinn]

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Some of these interactions are so cute I can't even.

The world needs more adorable stuff in it.