Garden Hands moved slowly down the rampart from his transport shuttle into the hanger bay of the think tank. Rubbing his sore, bandaged wrist; the chasm above him put his petty complaints in perspective, the bay teemed with life as the smaller drone ships flew back and forth carrying their cargo between zones in the massive space station. Seen from outside it had loomed over the horizon of the gas giant it orbited like an insect. A singular sectioned black body that fired tendrils and antennae off into space. It seemed to almost crawl along the red rings of the body known as Loki. Like a spider it sat, poised above the halo of the blue planet. Seen on arrival it was impressive. From the inside it was even more so. A hangar bay a hundred meters high and almost a kilometre in length. The transport ships rested in uniform rows waiting fore their next pick up and departure. Garden walked from the gantry of his blocky ship to the arrivals queue. Security guards watching his and everyone else’s movements. N one escaped their attentions. Taller than regular humans they were gene spliced. At least seven feet with increased muscle mass their skin tone was almost black with ribbon markings that stretched vertically from the jaw line to the navel. Each Gene splice giving a different pattern, almost a makers mark on the behemoths that stood before him./
Garden was not a tall man. He stood a little over five feet six inches and looked almost directly into the guard’s navel. The tight uniform over bulging muscle reminded him of a straining bag of potatoes. The man was like the athletes he had seen growing up, but more so. It was an experiment pushed just that little too far. Into an uncomfortable nether world
‘Ident’ the guard’s monotone was as dull as the colour of his skin.
Garden pulled the bandaged away over his wrist and passed his hand over the scanner. The guard scowled at him. Garden assumed that was how he greeted everyone and smiled back his cheesiest grin. The computer chirped information into the guard’s ear.
‘White male, martian physiology, five feet six, battle scar?’ he repeated. The inflection causing Garden to pull his collared shirt away from his neck to reveal the four inch groove running from his adam’s apple to his collar bone.
‘Akarian hunting laser’ he said by way of explanation.
The guard paused and ran a fat finger across the deep gorge that ran into the bone. Garden pulled his shirt lower and the guard traced his finger to the exit wound, a smaller gash where the neck met the spine.
‘Nice’ the guard almost smiled as he pulled his low cut v neck shirt to one side revealing a blast scar a few inches above his heart.
‘Same war?’ he said slowly.
Garden pulled a set of old tags from his pocket and thumbed them before passing them to the guard.
‘Battle of Severance Pass’ he said, ‘thirty fourth medical unit.’
‘Same’ said the guard, and pointed at his chest, ‘you?’
‘Maybe’ Garden smiled grimly, ‘too many to count’.
The guard held the chain in front of him and watched as two inch long canine teeth slid down to rest with the tags.
‘Akarian?’ The guard handed the tags back. His own smile as grim as Garden’s.
‘I sold the hunting rifle’ Garden said softly.
The Guard laughed and slapped Garden on the back, pushing him into the diplomatic line. His giant paw thumping the breath from the smaller man.
‘No scan’ he called, ‘he’s good.’
Another behemoth raised an arm in recognition and beckoned Garden forward to his station. Garden went through the same story twice more before he made his way to the collection point. The security officers were all ex military of one sort or another and took great delight in finding one of their own amongst the scientific brigade that would flock onto the station.