“Evening, Nuke,” I said as I made my way up the walk to my door. That much of the language I had zero problem with.
“Evening.” The sidewalk may have shaken a little at the low, booming register of his voice. Then again, it could have been my imagination.
Nuke was my neighbor, and yes, that name was not a translation. “Nuke.” It fit him so well. We lived in a subsidized duplex on Level 20, just off the edges of the business district in a surprisingly homey neighborhood. Most of our neighbors were gimigols or doils, the two saur species that make up the vast majority of the station’s population.
But Nuke was in a class all his own.
Where a gimigol will stand, oh, eight feet tall or so, Nuke stood at twelve-plus, the height of your average doil. Unlike a doil, Nuke didn’t look like a Big Bird reject at the toy factory. He had been based on the Dino-like gimigol physiology, but genetically restructured. Half as wide as he was tall, he had longer legs than your average gimigol, and was packed with solid muscle. He also had an extra set of arms.
Nuke didn’t like to discuss his past, but I’d heard he had been bred and raised to be a super soldier. He was deep blue, bulky as a pro wrestler on ultra steroids. Armored somewhat like a bollink, taloned like a doil, with a tail and heft of a gimigol, he could swear fluently in thirty languages– or so he claimed.
He terrified the other saurs on the station. He certainly did me, the first time I saw him. I’d walked up to my new apartment with my knapsack of mostly nothing on my back, and he had emerged onto the porch from his door. I came to a stop, looking up. And up. Homina homina…
For lack of anything else to do and since there was no way in hell I was going to give up this place, I bared my teeth and hissed at him in a friendly manner.
He’d been looking me over like his mere gaze could scour my flesh. Slowly he revealed his mighty fangs and gave a roar of a hiss.
So he didn’t like me, huh? I grimaced and did my best roaring hiss back.
“That’s better,” he growled. “You have a terrible accent.”
Sometimes I think he scared himself, because every now and then he’d take a day off work just to meditate for hours in a remote section of the station, calm himself down. Then he would emerge again to repair whatever damage he’d done to his walls and then lounge in his chair on the porch, watching the world go by. Everyone else gave him a wide berth. A very wide berth.
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