Humans are Weird – Peanut Butter and Fam
“What has you so pensive Two Trills?” Thirteenth Click asked as they darted around a particularly dense cluster of needle like leaves. “Is the laboratory nature of the forest freaking you out again as the human friends say?”
The massive forest stretched around them, monotonous in its conformity. One of the humans first extra-solar terraforming projects, this forest was one of the giant mammals proudest accomplishments. It was impressive. Even judged by the standards of the great forests of the Winged homeworld these ‘fir’ trees were massive. Their lower branches alone were massive enough to count as decent sized trees in their own right. The rough split bark offered innumerable comfortable perches. The scents that drifted from the internal fluids of the trees were heavenly. The extensive bryophytes that adorned their upper branches were delightful gardens. It was impressive, and disturbing if you didn’t strictly focus on a single tree.
Thirteenth Click understood why the trees were so evenly spaced of course. They were set out in a perfect grid, the pattern not broken, but alternated with the rounder, and near skeletal seasonal alteration trees that were supposedly necessary for optimal growth in the forest web. Somehow between the rigid, unnatural layout of the experimental forest, and the fact that the aggressive fir trees were rapidly killing their necessary companion species, and the fact that the humans considered this botanical warfare not only acceptable but natural, the entire situation just made one a little flighty. On top of all that his rather impressive nasal ridges, which flared and split attractively, were prone to getting stuck in the sap that leaked down from any injury in the tree’s outer bark. Once was quite enough times to need to comm for help because his nose was stuck to a tree.
“Not so much,” his superior answered. “I am just wondering if it is useful to warn you of your foolishness before hand.”
Thirteenth Click shot his superior a rather exasperated side eye. He was truly grateful for all the effort that Two Trills had put into his training. He had truly been a fluffy fledgling despite his University education when he had first been assigned to this research station. Two Trills’s calm confidence and quite leadership style had prevented countless unfortunate misunderstanding with their human hosts and had set Thirteenth Click on a path to build his own family tree much faster than he would have been able to do otherwise. Still, it wasn’t strictly necessary for Two Trills to remind him of the fact.
“And what foolishness am I about to display?” Thirteenth Click asked with an acidic note in his voice.
“Eating whatever the human’s are offering us,” Two Trills replied in a dry note.
The shock of that answer actually caused Thirteenth Click to miss a flap and he dropped several centimeters through the air before he corrected, shot past his superior, circled twice and finally snatched at the rough fibers of the tree’s bark. Two Trills circled back to his perch with a bemused expression on his face.
“What do you mean by that?” Thirteenth Click demanded. “Pardon my sudden updraft but that really does seem to go against every bit of training I’ve had, most notable the stuff that you gave me!”
“And what training would that be?” Two Trills asked, settling calmly down beside the agitated Thirteenth Trill.
“Humans love to feed us,” Thirteenth Click lifted one wing claw in demonstration. “It is a fundamental part of their culture to feed their friends. They are very careful about what foods they share as a lot of what they eat is toxic. As an officer in an ambassadorial role it is my duty to eat the food of whatever species is hosting us because sharing food is almost a universal goodwill ritual. Did I miss anything?
Two Trills heaved a long sigh and ran a winghook over one sensory horn, as if to express his utter non-surprise at the ignorance on display before him.
“You are missing so much,” Two Trills said in a gently patronizing tone that made Thirteenth Click positively bristled.
Yet the older Winged continued as if he hadn’t noted the reaction.
“Look down there,” Two Trills gestured with a winghook to the forest floor beneath them. “What don’t you see?”
ThirteenthClick glanced down. Sure enough the forest floor was blurry at this height to his eyes. He couldn’t see any of the duff and detritus he knew covered the soil and the intricate network of roots and symbiotes that extended as far down into the dirt as the branches extended above it.
“Duff, detritus, fungal growths?” He hazarded. “Those irritating little mammalian gliders. Maybe the pellets from the fragile deathwings.”
Two Trills flared his nostrils in confirmation.
“In short the entire ecosystem that exists below your awareness,” Two Trills said. “Now the humans have a very similar social ecosystem that is apparently below your awareness at all. You have not yet learned to keep your attention on your sensory horns well enough.”
“What did I supposedly miss?” Thirteenth Trill asked cautiously.
Two Trills was wise in the currents of the humans. It would be best not to let pride deny a lesson.
“The humans are plotting something,” Two Trills said gravely. “It is something to do with you specifically eating this food.”
“Even if what you say is true,” Thirteenth Click interjected. “Is it even possible for me to refuse eating the food? They went to a lot of effort to prepare this party for us.”
“As I said,” Two Trills admitted. “I was wondering if it was any use to warn you.”
“What makes you think they are plotting anything anyway?” Thirteenth Click asked, not that he disbelieved his superior but he hadn’t noticed anything.
“Giggling, snickering, odd glances at you that focus on your very equatorial nose frills,” Two Trills listed off.
Thirteenth Click sniffed, sending his nose frills trembling. Two Trills did have the stubby northern frills in comparison to his own. The humans would have noticed and wondered at it after all.
“It is odd that they never said anything about my frills,” Thirteenth Click said. “They are very nice after all.”
Two Trills gave him an amused and superior look before dropping from the tree and darting away. Thirteenth Click followed in thoughtful chatter. He muttered over the possibilities and potential reasons until they came in sight of the glow of the bonfire the humans had lit in one of the arranged clearings. It was dicey flying getting through the dense branches at the edge of the clearing. The Humans tended to just push through them. Then they were out in the open and the humans greeted them cheerfully. There were about two dozen humans scattered around the clearing. Thirteenth Click noted one human ornithologist had one of the tamed deathwings in her lap. She appeared to be massaging the deathwing’s talons and crooning to it that it was a good birdie. Thirteenth Click noted with relieve that it was secured to a log by strong jesses before he circled down to the table where the food was stacked.
“Now,” he called out without preamble.
If there was humiliation coming best get it over with. His fears were not soothed when he noted the majority of the humans slide their portable recording devices out of their pockets.
“Where is the culturally relevant food you were all raving about?” he demanded.
“Right here Lucky ol’ buddy?” Human Friend Guy said, pointing to several open canisters on the table.
There was a disturbing note of suppressed laughter in his voice. The vats were easily large enough to hold multiple Winged, which made them easily handleable for the humans. They contained a thick substance that gave off a not unpleasant fragrance. It was savory and earthy, and almost smelled like it was related to the fungus that the trees depended on. Thirteenth Click felt his nose frills twitch in anticipation and was only mildly disturbed by the suppressed snicker that ran through the crowd.
“How do I consume it?” he asked as Human Friend Guy handed him a proportionate container of the stuff.
He was twisting off the lid by the time the larger mammals answered him.
“Oh, there are a lot of ways,” one of the botanists said, a grin twitching at her lips. “That is its main selling point, but the easiest way it like this.”
She demonstrated by taking her spoon and dipping it into one of the jars. She scoped up a large mass of the food. Its consistency meant that a dollop twice the size of Thirteenth Click’s head clung to the spoon bowl without falling. She placed the entire mass in her mouth and used her teeth and lips to peel off about half the mass. Several other humans followed suit, all watching him intently. Thirteenth Click was really felling what Two Trills had warned him about now. These humans were just too eager to participate in this. Still, he had caught this thermal, he would ride it to the top. He took a proportionate glob of the stuff and scraped off half with his teeth.
It was as good as he had scented. It clearly was a legume with several of its symbiotic fungal species delicately laced into the paste. It had the odd taste that indicate the legumes had been roasted at some point. The texture was a bit dry though and Thirteenth Click felt his salivary glands activate to compensate. He went to swallow a bit, and realized that this was going to take a bit more time than he had thought.
The densely viscous paste was now firmly adhered to the top of his mouth where pulling it off the spoon with his teeth had pushed it. It also coated the roof of his mouth preventing his saliva from getting between it and said roof. He was going to have to remove small amounts with his tongue, bit by bit. It would be tedious, but the taste was good enough to make up for it. The humans appeared to be using the same strategy from the way their jaws were working.
That really didn’t do anything to explain why they were all watching him so intently and clearly suppressing laughter. He carefully began to work the mass down his gullet, twisting his tongue and lips this way and that to reach the stuff and each lick pushed the mass of paste into a new shape. He found himself having to tilt his head from side to side, even twisting his neck to get the proper leverage.
The humans, presumably because they had tongues that were as thick as his neck when they wanted to be, were already done and were clearly filming him and a few had even broken past what self control they had and were laughing outright. It was vexing but downdraft if he was going to let them know it. His nose frills bobbed energetically in front of his eyes as he reached particularly far forward with his tongue to get at some paste stuck behind his top teeth, obscuring his view of the snickering humans. At that the majority of their self control broke down and the clearing erupted in howls.
The deathwing gave a startled hoot and flapped up to sit on a makeshift perch its handler had erected. Thirteenth Click grimly toiled on clearing his mouth until he could speak clearly again.
“Quite delightful,” he commented, glaring around at the gasping and snickering mass of humanity.
Then, keeping eye contact with Human Friend Guy, he calmly shoved the second mouthful past his jaws as he had seen the humans do. The humans let out hoots of approval and the laughter erupted in earnest again. Thirteenth Click still had no idea why this was so funny, but by the mother tree if any of those videos went viral he was demanding a cut of the profits.
"Humans are Weird: I Have the Data"
What does it mean when your human friend says “Watch This?”? Why does this simple phrase seem to terrify any alien that has first appendage experience with humans? #HFY #HumansAreWeird #HumansAreSpaceOrcs #EarthIsADeathWorld #EarthIsSpaceAustralia
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