The Burning Plain

Humans are space orcs, eh?

I’m new to this, but I love what I’m reading in the feed lately, so, trying my hand!

Some ideas:

What if the greatest diplomacy problem in dealing with humans is that they seem to lie about past events constantly, even to someone who witnessed the same events?  Then it’s discovered that humans have recording devices of all kinds– security cameras, diaries, mp3– and the problem becomes clear.  Humans lie, but not that badly.  The poor, fretful creatures just have a species-wide brain defect.  Kindly aliens take to recording every event and encounter they can, then preface every diplomatic meeting with a record swap so the humans can brush up on what actually happened and the aliens can get some insight into what the humans have been falsely thinking happened.  Ambassadors to Earth get supplementary training in how to handle people with memory impairments, and human ambassadors to other worlds start hiring aliens– ANY aliens– to be their assistants.  Everything smooths out after that.

Religion.  Aliens intellectually understand how religion works and that there are different kinds, but they don’t really “get” it.  The biggest confusion regards whether the humans, who do seem to have some sort of empathic abilities at least, are actually communing with incorporeal beings/forces… and if so, why some humans seem able to commune with more than one, while other humans not at all.  Notable scholars have decided that the rituals and paraphernalia have nothing to do with the beings or forces being communed with, but muddied the matter by suggesting that the rituals may be important for a human’s ability to commune.  Alien non-scholars, eager to accommodate this new species and prove that space is nothing to be afraid of– nobody wants a repeat of the H’j’g’rcxin Xenophobia disaster– simply treat any and all religious requests as vital necessities for their human guests and crewmen.  Accommodation becomes so ordinary that when the first religious argument erupts between an engineer and a navigator, the biggest shock is that one of them objects to the other wearing a turban, something which does not affect work performance in any way.

Styling.  Alien species each have their own primary sense that they rely on, and when they find out that humans primarily rely on sight, well.  Reliant on sight means that surface patterns and colorings are particularly important to them, right?  They will have evolved to be individually distinctive in appearance?  New human crew are automatically assigned a mentor from another vision-reliant species, so someone will be able to tell them apart until the auditory and pheromone labels are attached to their uniforms.  Then Abby comes to mess with a new haircut and sparkly chapstick one day, and the mentor has no idea who she is or how she got aboard.

Word of Stabby the Space Roomba spreads, and soon every ship with a human captain or sufficiently high number of human crew has a Stabby.  Names vary, but most of them are Stabby.  One ship becomes low-key known for sending out broadcasts of Stabby McStabberson, son of Stabberson, son of Stabber, and its adventures stabbing juice boxes in zero-G.

Aesthetics.  Humans have a bewildering tendency to open starmaps or sneak into the scientific observation module at odd times, including with a mate or offspring, and just stare at open space.  Not even particular stars, although they like to study and talk about particular stars and clusters at times, but just, the whole of space.  Why do they do it?  Nobody knows.  Humans behave as though intoxicated during these times, but productivity lowers dramatically if they are barred access– if barring access even works in the first place, given humans’ seemingly endless ability to get into places where they aren’t supposed to be.

Fire.  Due to different atmospheric content, inability to heal from burns, or just plain never needing to cook their food, no alien species has ever utilized fire as a tool.  When humans say that learning to use fire may have been the start of their civilization, everybody believes that the humans are just talking a tough game to make up for their lower technology level, or– once they learn about human hierarchies– to compensate for a perceived lack of political status.  Then a human sees a catastrophic explosion on a hostile planet and laughs.  Then another shushes panicking engineers and smothers an accidental fire with some garments.  Then another builds a bonfire out of dead plantlife and a shredded religious document to warm an injured alien crewman after xir endothermic suit is punctured and the planet rotates away from its sun.  Humans– soft, cuddly, pack-bonds-even-with-inanimate-objects humans– are comfortably in control of the most terrifying force of disaster the galaxy has ever known.  Aliens stop being surprised that we nearly made ourselves extinct so many times in history.

“Why does your larval stage look so similar to your mature stage?  How do you know when a human is old enough to leave the Pit of Offspring?  Or to mate?”