Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when a device is working improperly/not at all, we speak to them in an attempt to get them working? And have you noticed that some people have a much higher rate of success in doing so, to the point that some devices only work around some individuals, and other individuals’ presence seems to inhibit proper function? For instance, as long as I am present, a lot of my friends’ devices function properly. Once I leave, they stop working - they’re stuck with the disc in the tray, their ‘net craps out every few minutes, stuff is just generally buggered. One of my friends has the opposite effect, and computers are lucky to last six months with him.
Now take that, and add human perversity into it. Suddenly, we’re telling aliens about “Machine spirits” that have to be kept happy, and “techwhisperers”, along with their opposite “techbanes”.
And the thing is, it seems to have just enough evidence that they aren’t sure if we’re pulling their legs or not. Humans regarded as techwhisperers have even had their effect seemingly work on alien equipment…
[AN: It’s precisely because of my fickle fingers and my best-beloved’s contrasting technomancy that I created the Nae'hyn, the animist movement/culture that actually make working gravity generators.]
“So we must allow this… human… to board our vessel?”
“This human can hear and understand you,” said the little mammal in the black coverall. His head-fur was cut close to his skull, and thinning in patches. “And consider your options. One: continue to float. Two: purchase a new ships’ heart. Three: allow lowly me to see what can be done.”
Captain K'desh leaned over to her second. “Is he doing that snark thing?”
“I think this one may be female.”
“This one is waiting,” said the human. It was disturbing that ze not only knew enough Pathraki to understand and speak it, but also spoke it perfectly.
Definitely snark, thought the Captain. “Very well. But I must insist you keep your human insanity tightly confined. We had enough nonsense when the gravity generator was installed in the first place.”
“Nonsense is only nonsense to those who fail at comprehending,” said the human. Ze glided through the ship with minimal awkwardness, not saying one word about the Captain’s own lack of adaptability to zero G.
“Here it is.” K'desh unlocked the access panel. “We made attempts at repair, but… nothing worked.”
The human sailed through. “That, Captain, is because you think of it only as a machine.” Unlike most workers, who kept their feet protected by hard boots, the Nae'hyn human wore foot-gloves that allowed them to grip projections around what ze called “the ship’s heart”.
“Very sick. She’s very sick indeed…”
K'desh restrained herself from violence. “I will send a junior to assist you. You will not infect him with your human insanity.”
“I can only promise to offer what must be learned,” said the Nae'hyn.
K'desh monitored the procedure, recording it for future reference. And such bizarre questions. How the wind happened in the chamber. How many came to talk to the engine. Who fed it.
The machine, said the Nae'hyn, was lonely and needed company. It was scared of being alone. Thus, it rejected the perfectly sensible input and output tubes so someone would come and 'feed’ and 'clean’ it by hand.
And that was, in essence, true. Not one techie, no matter how knowledgable, could get the input and output tubes to stay coupled, no matter what they tried.
Evidently, company would solve that.
The solution was just about fit for a low-class junior male. Come and read it a story, once a day, and talk to it about anything that came to mind. Talk as if there was someone inside the machine that their eyes saw. Talk as if they were all alone, in there, and needed company to feel better.
Ludicrous insane human nonsense! K'desh ranted about it in her log. An elderly Lieutenant heard her and waited her chance to speak.
“Your pardon, Captain,” she said, “But I’ve encountered this like before.”
“An offshoot of their people. They called themselves technomancers. I saw one bring a defunct computer to life by wiggling his fingers and chanting, ’work, you bastard’ over it. It lasted just long enough to rescue all the data. He told me there were some who could make the impossible possible by just touching a machine.”
“Truth, Captain. There is footage in the omninet. One human performs a set of actions and fails. A second human performs the exact same set of actions on the exact same machine and succeeds.”
“I do not believe in miracles.”
“Humans are the only species to have mastered artificial gravity, Captain,” the Lieutenant seemed shamed to say it. “Perhaps, this time, their insanity has… merit.”
K'desh rolled her eyes. “Ugh… Set that junior to do all the tasks that human has outlined. We may as well keep this idiocy contained.”
The most annoying thing, out of all the annoying things connected to that day, was that they never -ever- had another hiccup with the gravity generator.