I’ve seen a lot of ideas about humans being on alien ships, and most are like “because of [whatever reason], it would be good if ships had one human on board” and there are a lot of stories that say that there’s only one human on the alien ship. But I don’t think that’s a good idea?? A lot of people have a hard time being a foreign exchange student a country where they don’t speak the language; I don’t think most humans could handle being the only human on an alien ship???? For various reasons, like loneliness/medical issues/etc. Being on an alien ship sounds awesome, but they wouldn’t have any support.
Maybe aliens don’t understand THAT; “Despite being capable enough on their own, humans have to come in groups of 2+ for some reason.”
“Let the humans choose their own groups; their social systems are much more complex, and despite their famous ability to socialize with just about any other species, if two humans ‘don’t get along’, meaning that they cause each other to have unfavorable emotions and occasionally will not cooperate, the result is negative for both the humans and the crew that they reside in.”
Maybe something like this?
The first time humans and the recently-contacted alien species “X”, the first to form an alliance with humans, attempt to team up, everyone realizes that they need to learn more about each other. They decide that should should be a simple exchange of personnel; these crewmen would work simple jobs on each other’s ships and interact with the crew in order to learn more about each other and how to successfully communicate. Both humans and Xs desperately want this to succeed. But, hearing rumors of the humans’ prowess, the X want to minimize any possible casualties, so they suggest that they exchange just one person each at the start; one X heads to the human command ship, and one human heads to the X’s.
Everything begins successfully.
The X on board the human ship is a model worker. It observes, asks questions, and when it doesn’t understand something, many humans surround and brainstorm ideas on how to explain things to it. Throwing out ideas left and right “It’s a bit like seeing color, but it’s invisible, and through the nose-” “No you idiot, it’s like those feel-auras it was talking about, but the nose is the sensory organ for it-” and eventually the X understands. In turn, when contributing ideas not easily understood by humans, it finds that many take this as a challenge, and will not stop bothering the X until they are sure that they understand. But with or without the aid of its new crewmates, the X never seems distressed that it can’t understand or be understood by others.
The human crew quickly notices that the X has not contacted its main ship, or for that matter, anyone else.
“Have you tried talking to your ship?”
“There was no need to try, I already know it won’t work because of conflicting signals.”
“Well, did you need to? Talk to your friends or family or anything? I’m sure I can rig something up if you need to.”
“I have no need to communicate with anyone as of now. Any information that will eventually need to be communicated will be included in my report to the High Command.”
“No, but did you WANT to talk to anyone? Like your family or something, so they know you’re okay? And I mean, I’m sure you must want to talk about how weird we humans are and stuff, right?”
“My family will be notified of my status when I return to the High Command. And all data I gather on humans will be included in my report.”
The X, despite being so far away from home and surrounded by pushy humans, does not seem homesick or lonely at all.
On the X’s ship, the human is enthusiastic and excited to learn new things at first. After all, they’re learning about and interacting with ALIENS; it’s freaking awesome. But it doesn’t take too long for the novelty to wear off and the human to realize that they are truly alone. No one else speaks a human language, or is physically capable of doing so. While translation technology makes communication possible, linguistic differences make both exact or truly accurate translations impossible, so it’s not the same as being able to have a simple chat with friends. And chatting with friends doesn’t come easily; technology between the ships is not compatible, and any communication signals from the human’s own communication device are cancelled out by signals from the Xs’ ship.
The human becomes isolated from all other humans, on board a ship of 200 Xs.
Any difficulty communicating is eventually pushed aside and ignored but the Xs; if the human can’t communicate an idea, and the Xs don’t get it, what can they do? They do not need to understand the human or have the human understand them in order to do their jobs, so there is no point in trying. They understand that this project is important to the alliance, but do not understand how important communication is to humans.
The human has no help from others; several humans asking the same questions might get the idea that communicating certain ideas are important. But there is also no one who could understand them, no one to brainstorm ideas with:
“Now, how do we explain the concept of smell to a species from a planet where no organism has a nose?”
“Oh! My cousin was born without a sense of smell, and we sort of explained things like…”
Any problems communicating human ideas, or understanding X ideas, they face alone.
On that note, the human finds it difficult to to relate with any of the Xs. Xs can socialize fine between each other, but their standards for camaraderie is much different than that of humans. Humans are famous for their ability to empathize with any species, but it is not a two-way street, leaving the human caring about their new ship-mates with little care for themselves in return. They do not put more effort in helping the human understand, nor do they go out of their way to interact with the human outside of work situations. The human knows that it is not the fault of the Xs, that this is just the way Xs are, but they can’t help but begin to feel unappreciated, unwanted, and depressed.
Having long-since passed simple homesickness and culture shock, the human just wants desperately to talk to another human. It wouldn’t have to be anyone from the same country, or someone from the same field of work, or heck, even someone who spoke the same language. Even humans who can’t understand each other’s words can have get an idea from hand gestures, and historically, people who speak different languages that live in proximity to each other develop new dialects or learn to understand each others spoken language to communicate. Even with an age gap, they’ve lived during some of the same world events; they could find something to relate to each other. Another human would understand how strange X biology is compared to human biology, right? Another human could make jokes, laugh at the new, awesome, and weird things that they encounter. Another human could confirm that their feelings were real, right?
Humans are biologically engineered for socialization after all. Their species survived and evolved over hundreds of thousands of years because of their social nature. Xs understand this, and have heard that humans occasionally might have special needs like extraneous physical contact, but do not understand the implications. That this made humans biologically dependent on socialization for survival. That humans’ mental, emotional, and eventually even physical states can deteriorate without affection from friends and family.
And so the human gets ill.
Not quite used to human physicality in general or variation in physicality between individuals, and after hearing the legendary stories of humans surviving seemingly impossible situations, the Xs work their human crewmate hard. The human, already emotionally exhausted from isolation, easily gets physically exhausted. They contract an illness not unlike the common cold, though it couldn’t be given that their current location does not have any traces of the virus. With proper rest, and maybe more chances to chat with some friends back on the command ship, would help the human immensely. But the human, in their emotional and physical distress, can not communicate the idea that yes, humans can recover from illness like this without 5 different medicines. That talking to loved ones, or someone, anyone, would do more than just make them happy but give them the emotional will to make them physically well. There are no other humans around to explain human medical issues, or to provide a cool cloth for their fever, or to talk to while they’re sick in bed and unable to work, or…
The Xs change course and modify their signals in order to send a message to the human command ship and inform them that the human has fallen ill. Afraid of retaliation and wanting to ensure good faith, they request a strategy, asking what needs to be done in this situation. The human ship responds; the X on their ship has recently fallen ill as well. Xs do not have the hardy immune system that humans do, and while precautions were taken, it still caught a cold. The decision to return the crewmates to their home ships is made. The information that they managed to gather during their exchange this time will be used for a more successful future exchange and other interactions in the future.
The X suggests to their commanders more precautions regarding illnesses, and also advises any future volunteers to talk as much as possible to the other humans; they love interaction, learning, and teaching.
The human suggests that a special channel be created for easy communication, and makes only one demand; it doesn’t matter what the other species demands, don’t you dare let anyone go alone, ever again.
Submitted By: @bluemichikosan