Submitted by @ lord-of-the-dark-realms
So, I had this thought after reading several stories about humans giving birth and not having eggs. What if aliens do not have ‘family units’ the same way humans do, but instead raise children in more of a group setting.
Captain H'roll'ah was excited to have hired on not just 1 but 3 humans, all of whom were extremely qualified for space travel. Even better, they were all from the same clan and so there would be no rivalry or refusal to work together because of old scores to settle.
“Captain! Three humans just came in a have taken over the dining area! WHAT SHOULD WE DO?!?” Ensign Khralhen was out of breath and panicked, but his species was notoriously afraid of humans after it became public knowledge how dangerous they were. Not that his own was much better, but H'roll'ah knew that these humans should be here and it was probably near a meal time for them. How could such an evolutionary advanced and apated species not figure out a way to avoid needing 3 or meals a day was beyond H'roll'ah.
“It is fine, Ensign Khralhen. These are likely the Humans that I just signed on to the crew. They are from the same clan, so they should work at peak efficiency,” the Captain answered, trying to put as much calm and soothing into his voice as possible, “Let us go introduce ourselves and welcome them so that the ‘pack-bonding’ can begin.”
“Greetings, I am Captain H'roll'ah and this is Ensign Khralhen, our cook.”
“Nice ta meetcha! Cook, huh? Guess we best buddy up to you right quick then!” said the male. He was average height for a human and perhaps a little on the heavy side, but H'roll'ah knew that it was likely muscle not fat. After all, this human and one of his female companions were security personnel.
“Always thinking with you stomach, Thomas. How about you buddy up to the Captain, so that we do not get kicked off this boat? Hmm?” said the smaller female, later identified as Samantha or “Sam” for ease. "Small" being used only in comparison because she did not have the bulk of her clanmates. She must be the medical officer. H'roll'ah was worried that she would be distant from her clanmates but her body language suggested extreme comfort and trust, above what H'roll'ah felt for his own clanmates of different castes. The third human, Laura if the captain remembered correctly, remained silent but was constantly looking around, as if expecting an attack at any moment, not that strange considering all that H'roll'ah had hear about Earth.
“Well then, please tell me what times that the three of you eat, and I will prepare food for you then. Also, please tell me any dietary restrictions you have so that you do not have any medical incidents,” Khralhen said, realizing that the humans could be bribed with food as easily as a Con'valix could be bribed with fruits.
(3 Months Later)
Captain H'roll'ah was surprised at how well the humans worked together. He thought that they might exceed standard human operating efficiency by 10%, but regularly they were 20-25% better than the reported average. They barely needed to vocalize to communicate, and they were able to remember each other’s needs and the needs of the crew extremely well. Captain H'roll'ah decided to ask them how they did it, and if it was a clan trait, where he could hire more humans of clan “Walker.”
“Thomas clan Walker, do you have a few minutes to talk about personal matters?” The captain asked, assuming that Thomas would, since he was off shift and relaxing in the lounge.
“Sure thing, hoss. What can I do for you? And I hope this isn’t about my or Laura’s tattoo’s, because we had to settle a bet on that a few days ago,” Thomas answered easily. He was a bit flippant for the captain’s taste, but his results were impeccable and the other humans followed his lead, which spoke volumes for the man.
“I was hoping that you could explain how you and your clanmates have achieved such a high efficiency rate. You perform well above average, even for clanmates who grew up together.”
“Clanmates? Oh, that’s right! Sam mentioned that your species, and most species on this ship raise their young in a group setting and the kids hatch from eggs, right?”
“That is correct, and please do not remind me that human females carry their young in their bodies like a parasite. The last time Sam explained that, it was enough to make all of us wonder how humans have managed to reproduce at all.” H'roll'ah still shuddered when he thought of it, and Khralhen wasn’t able to cook for 3 days after Sam had explained human reproduction.
“Fair enough, I think we reproduce more by accident that anything else, but yeah. Me, Laura, and Sam are not clanmates like you think,” Thomas chuckled and shook his head, “We are siblings.”
“I do not know this word,” H'roll'ah answered uneasily. In his experience, an unknown term from a human meant that something painful, gross, horrifying, or all 3 was about to be revealed.
“Sam could explain it better, and having Laura here only seems fair…” Thomas trailed off as he reached for his comm. "Hey, brats (again with the casual disrespect), can you both get up to the lounge? Captain wants to know about siblings.“ H'roll'ah was always surprised that Thomas clan Walker could be disrespectful when asking for others to do something.
“Sure, be right up,” Sam responded. She was likely a floor up in the medical facilities and wanted to take a break.
“Grrhhrhhgg.” Laura clan Walker had been sleeping, then, and did not want to come.
“Thanks, ladies, you can both explain family better than me.” Now the captain was worried again because there was a second new word being bandied around.
“So, captain, a family unit for humans is very small compared to yours of Ensign Khralhen’s,” Sam explained, “A family is usually made up of the mother and/or father or a surrogate who has assumed that role and the children. It usually numbers no more than 4-7 individuals.”
“But…But…how do you grow or develop? And to place all that burden on only one or two adults, how do they do anything else?” spluttered K'roll'ah. He was shocked to find out that humans in the region called ‘America’ did not have an open community.
“Well, children who share 1 or both parents are called “siblings”, and they develop together. The adults are called “parents”, and yeah, there is a definite loss of freedom involved.“
“So then, you three are…siblings?” H'roll'ah asked.
“Yes, Thomas is the oldest, and Laura is the youngest, with me in the middle,” answered Sam, “and our father bailed on us after Laura was 3 years old, so Tom became the ‘man of the house’ at 7 years old.”
THAT explained Thomas clan Walker’s attitude! Captain H'roll'ah realized that Thomas clan Walker had been in a command position and not had a commander from a young age!
“So that is why you both follow him? He is the new leader”
“Kind of, he is just the best at leading. He knows what to do and does it well.” Laura answered, which was rare; she was the most quiet of the three.
“And the reason for your peak efficiency?” Captain H'roll'ah asked, determined to get an answer to his question.
“Well, we have known each other all our lives and spent most of those lives in close proximity to each other. We just understand each other from the long familiarity and exposure.”
“Ah, the same way a pilot becomes better from being on the same ship, just with a person instead.”
“Exactly! And if you are interested in hiring others we are familiar with, we have some cousins, children of our parents’ siblings, who we know very well and want to get into space.”
“Then I will look them up, thank you for answering my questions."
Humans were a strange species. Instead of focusing on a large community, they developed close bonds with only a few people who share familial ties with them. Captain H'roll'ah did hire the 'cousins’ and they worked out very well. The human guidebook was updated to notify captains that humans sharing close blood ties have the potential to perform at higher than normal efficiency.
Now somebody write a story about a captain hiring siblings who hate/cannot stand each other!