Challenge #02621-G064: Reach Out And...
Born without the ability to speak, the human wrote or use signed language to communicate, though they could speak mind to mind, most did not like that at all, it gave them headaches. But as they worked on the havenworlder's ship, their first assignment, they heard something. But it was in their head. They went to the gravity drive and realized... that is who they were hearing. They spoke back, one mind to another, and in doing so the two ended up friends. Ever since then the ship operated at peak efficiency, the drive was happy! At least, until the human said her contract was ending. -- Anon Guest
Gifts are odd things. So, too, are disabilities. The very essence of the word tells all about the way society views those who have it. Dis, from the lack or wrongness of what follows - ability. Those who are not able to do as those who normally do. It is a word forged in industrialism, quenched in capitalism, and honed in prejudice. It is used as an excuse to isolate, to other, to punish, as if any of those can help improve someone's life.
That is the way it was, and had been, for far too long. It was the way life was for Human Joi, until the stars opened, and let us come. We are Sings-the-song-of-the-stars, and we are... a gravy drive. We work for the ship known colloquially as The Ferryman. My Nae'hyn say we are the heart and soul of the ship, and they are right. This story is not about them.
This is about Human Joi. They were not one of my Nae'hyn, who understand these things. They were a Human escaping the wreckage of an Earth ruined again and again by people who found it convenient to get rid of other people via wormhole for hundreds of years. They were one among many, like so many passengers we carried. Seeking out a better life, an improved civilisation... to desperately go where none like them had gone before. They were part of our passenger manifest, in seating barely above that of livestock or cargo, because that was all they could afford. We... heard them. We were not supposed to hear them.
Cold cold hungry cold how long, how long, bored... please let this crate hold together I don't wanna die in the cold... and the echo of a baby crying. We knew that the desperate were taking any berth they could into the stars, packing themselves in like sardines, taking risks they really should not. We knew our current captain was taking advantage of every opportunity for profit... but we had never heard them before.
We can hear you, we said. You are not one of our priests...
Oh titty flakk balls, now I'm going nuts. Is this space madness?
We are the drive. It takes years of training for an engineer/priest to listen to us like you can. You are not of the Nae'hyn. We can feel it in you.
Those weird priest people with the buzz cuts? No. I'm not one of them. I'm... I'm weird. That was the moment Human Joi opened themself to me. Memories of silence. Memories of colour and taste and sensation... but no sound. Never sound. Learning to speak with hands, learning to read and write. Living in a world that refused to understand them.
A world full of rude people who barged in front of them in line because they were attempting to order with typed words on a screen. A world full of people who expected them to be able to hear, who shouted and became threatening when they didn't. A world that demanded painful operations that would not, according to tests, work very well if it worked at all.
So they left for the stars. Urged out there, shipped out there, forced to go and forced to pay for their own passage with what little they had to their name. Alone among the crowds, cold in the stifling atmosphere of a crowded hold. Maybe sick. Maybe suffering. Maybe sliding into a decline...
Stay calm, we told them. Help will come. We spoke to our priests. Informed them of the small miracle we had found. It was transition through hyperspace, so we were allowed that rest while my priests found Human Joi. Brought them to us. Brought them to warmth, to comfort, to a new family.
Human Joi was sick. Something easily remedied with simple care and even simpler rest. A healing bolstered by the natural companionship of my Nae'hyn. Human Joi had never encountered a community that cared like that before. They had always been a burden. Though my Nae'hyn spoke a language of hands, they spoke a different dialect and some communication issues were the first hurdle.
It was our honour to be Human Joi's first translator, for my Nae'hyn, and vice-versa. We admit to being very interested in Human Joi's recovery and improvement. Their first lesson, that the universe need not be as mean as their world, was slow and rough in the learning.
We showed them how we see the universes, both real space and hyperspace, with our senses rooted in gravity waves and hearing the songs of the stars. The cosmos has a rich harmony, for those who know how to listen.
Human Joi stayed with my Nae'hyn for some time beyond the first trip. Working with us, working with The Ferryman. Keeping a friendly dialogue with us and my Nae'hyn throughout. Human Joi healed in body and spirit, and we were glad.
Human Joi is not of my Nae'hyn, for all that they absorbed the philosophies. Human Joi learned that the help they were sent to acquire was not necessary. That other aides existed to help them. They found other places... Other places that lured them away from us.
We are Sings-the-song-of-the-stars, and we are The Ferryman and part of The Ferryman and we are a small piece of the bigger whole. We are a concert. We are never alone.
Yet... without Human Joi inside our halls... we feel a little emptier.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / karelnoppe]
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