Unknown Beasts

Helle flicked her ears nervously, hands shaking a little on her tablet. Report day was always terrible. “in conclusion,” she stuttered. “Homo Sapiens, or Humans, are remarkable pinnacle predators that show an impressive ability to survive, despite all suggestion otherwise. Thank you!”

Presentation finished, she scampered back to her seat on soft paws, relieved to be finished with the big project.

Her pad chimed softly and she opened the new message with trepidation. It was from Teacher Jasy.

[D+ see me after class.]

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Helle squirmed nervously in her sweet and managed a smile for Tsheek when her friend stopped by her desk. “Time forrr midday-meal,” the scaled lizard said. “Arrrre you coming?”

“Staying after, Teacher says,” Helle answered with a sigh. “Meet you there, or in Astromaths.”

Tsheek looked dubious, but raised left, throwing one last glance up at the teacher before they did. When everyone was left, Teacher Jesy beckoned Helle up.

“Why did you chose humans for your project? He asked quietly. Halle liked Teacher Jesy, even if he looked a little strange, with no rotating ears to give away his mood. “There are nearly four thousand known species.”

Helle reached for an answer, ears layer back and quivering. “I think humans are interesting,” she said shyly. “They breed really fast- and their religious system has been such an influence on their culture. I especially liked the documentation about Ram-Bo, the ancient god of jungle warfare.”

That made Teacher Jesy chuckle and bare his teeth in amusement. That had taken a while to understand- a threat display meaning amusement- but she was starting to get used to it. “Yes, Ram-Bo does have an interesting history,” he agreed. “Helle, the reason I had to give you a D+ on this project is because almost all of your sources seem to be media-based. I did specify that you needed at least two scholarly sources.”

“But there’s not very many,” Helle protested unhappily. She had looked! But most of what she found was just too outlandish to be true. “I tried! They- they didn't seem like trustworthy sources!”

That made Teacher Jesy sit back and regard her carefully. His leathery brown skin was patterned with dyes all down his front-limbs. “You spent a great deal of time on the Interstellar war,” he commented, a tap bringing up her report on his pad and hers. “Humans were very involved, so I do understand your featuring it, but this was supposed to focus on culture, not history.”

“But humans have spent most of their culture-span in war!” Helle protested, starting to get upset. “Everybody knows that a human warship means your ship is doomed!”

Teacher Jesy sighed. “That’s a direct quote from Preet-Chk and the Soft Skins,” he chided gently. “It’s a good vid, but it is not accurate in the slightest. You also seemed to focus primarily on the far northern variant. You know that that they are only one of the many human-variants?”

She had, but there was even less about human variants than they're were about their culture. That didn't seem like a good thing to say. Most of the Human media seemed to focus on their Northern Variant too, with little exception.

“Yes,” she admitted reluctantly. He nodded. “There wasn't much about them.”

Teacher Jesy say back and tapped on his tablet for a minute. Hers chimed with a new message. A list of titles, all about humans.

“I’m allowing everyone a seven-cycle to rewrite their reports. Since you’re having a hard time finding accurate sources, I’ll make allowances. These are a list of good, solid sources that cover a range of human variants. I also suggest you interview at least one human to get a perspective. There are several on the station who would be happy to talk with you.”

Helle laid her ears back. Humans on the station? No! This was home! They would eat everybody!

“But they’re violent!” she exclaimed, her fur standing up. “They worship war- they-“

Teacher Jesy was staring at her, before he started to huff his amusement. “Helle, I promise none of the humans on this station are violent,” he assured her between huffs. “Only one of them served on a human war ship and he’s retired from that. The rest are scientists and their families.”

“I’ve never seen a human up close,” Helle protested. Humans were interesting, but she didn't want to MEET one! “Only once from a distance, at the trading post and- what?”

Teacher Jesy was giving her a very strange expression that she struggled to translate. She slumped back in her chair unhappily.

“Helle, you know I’m Southern-Variant Human, don't you?”

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Crossposted from www.reddit.com/u/leehadan