“Oh, a human”, the matron chirped in their high-pitched insectoid voice, peering around the half opened door. Humans were boring customers. Resilient, yes, you did not need to be too careful, good practice for interspecies relations for the younger, inexperienced staff. But they were cheap, and quite single minded when it came to entertainment. They saw the Lounge primarily as a mating parlour (like they did with most other recreational facilities on Thetis station, and probably elsewhere too), regardless of the many diverse and sophisticated past times, games and challenges they had to offer.
And humans were cops. Most matron has met, anyway. Also, their gender dimorphism was near to non-existent. All three genders looked very much alike, the pheromones were indistinguishable, and rumour has it they don’t even have a regular procreation cycle. “Really, i don’t know how they manage to have offspring. It all sounds so erratic. And just imaging having hatchlings appear at any given moment,” matron’s broodmother remarked one cosy night back home, when they first heard of human anatomy on the infostream, and matron was considered old enough to listen in. The late night shows always leaned towards the bizarre, scandalous or slightly disgusting.
The sound of a datapad’s “pling” recalled them to the situation at hand. The human was still standing before them, now holding said datapad in hand, proof of registration, credit status and all. Rket’t, one of matron’s newer additions to their flock, a nerkati female, like matron herself, but of the secondary gender, appeared dutifully in the doorframe, switched her whirring voice to a lower frequency and purred invitingly: “Thank you, visitor, there is no need for formalities. Please enter our haven of respite. Are you looking for audiosensory or visually enhanced entertainment? Our plugins work with regular as well as enhanced implant ports. If you use off-label or homemade programming, please provide us with the code for an initial compatibility check. Chemical or nutritional supplements? I assure you, all our substances are legally acquired. Or would you like a companion…?”.
What makes us human
the sirens grew louder and then abruptly fell away again. ignoring the sounds of the waking city outside her window she set to work again, submerging herself in her project, nearly finished with the outer form. “give me your … hand” she told the creature sitting in front of her. “for lack of a better word”, she mumbled. an artificial limb twitched. she made a mental note to recalibrate the hydraulic action centre. at least the input seemed to have been recognized. “now speak” she voice-commanded. oh, right, the speechAI was not installed yet. her creation managed to look puzzled, even though the face was void of emotion. that would take some more work. later. she had to get the movements right before indulging in fancy add-ons.
“my first human”, she thought fondly, her whiskers twitching with excitement, as she switched the tall, softly humming shell to sleep mode and went to get some synthmilk and fishbits.