Jonnifer Wubbleford, if one was forced to describe him in a single word, was a rascal. But this didn’t do him justice, because he really demanded three or four words to fully capture his prime selling points. Describing him by any one of them alone ran the risk of critically mischaracterising him, and false advertising never did anyone any good in the long run.
He went by the callsign – codename, nickname, whatever – “Bear”. The Bear, whenever he could get away with the slightly aggrandising article. And nobody who had actually set eyes on him could argue with the title or the article. Even after getting to know him, at which point it became obvious that a wild slavering beast straight out of Gethsemane, he wasn’t.
The Bear – this was a fun fact he preferred to share only once he felt he was getting to know somebody, but sometimes he led with it – was actually fourth-generation Bonshoon, not Blaran. But he looked so unorthodox that he generally let people assume he was a Blaran. It was just easier that way. His great-grandparents had come out of the sleepers on the Bonshoo, but unlike almost all the rest of the sleepers who would become the emergent Bonshoon species, they weren’t Single Sigh. They were … something else.
He had a similar build and similar hereditary flaws, the very things that defined him physiologically as Bonshoon just as surely as his legal Fleet citizenship status defined him culturally. He was put together, on a basic level, pretty much exactly like a Bonshoon, or indeed like any Molranoid: seven-and-a-half feet tall, two legs, four arms, a wide flat-topped head with ears like bat-wings, a smiling mouth punctuated by a pair of elongated incisors that curved over his lower lip.
But he was also covered in a thick pelt of grey-brown hair varying in length from fuzz to long, ropy strands.
This was a Blaran-style augmentation, fair enough, but it was more deep-seated than that – not to mention, aside from those passed down through certain very specialised Blaran castes, it was a far older alteration. Almost all Blaren were physiologically the same as Molren, at least superficially, at birth. Their augmentations were added technologically. The Bear’s augmentation was one that his family – his subculture – had wrought on itself on a genetic level generations ago. Possibly, or so he liked to believe, back where they had lived on the old Fleet homeworld. Back before even the Twin Species had existed as a concept. It skirted the edges of permitted alteration and of course he would never be a Molran, but it was tolerated.
He’d never been augmented. His parents and his grandparents and his great-grandparents had never been augmented. They’d all been born this way.
Still, this was a mildly interesting distinction at best. Aki’Drednanth accepted it placidly. Molren were able to handle it on an intellectual level, but only after seeing so much evidence that it was only worth pushing on rare occasions. Blaren just thought it was funny that any Blaran would try to convince people he was a Bonshoon – when they didn’t find it insulting. And Bonshooni … well, they believed him, but not even the Bear gave much of a damn what Bonshooni thought, and he was one.
As for humans, and Fergunak, it was difficult to say. With humans it was difficult to say because every single one of them had a different point of view and changed their minds every time they fell asleep and woke up again, which the infuriating primates did all the time. With Fergunak, it was difficult to say because Fergies really didn’t give you the impression that they could tell air-breathers apart. Aside from aki’Drednanth, which presumably gave them brainfreeze when they ate them.
The Wubbleford family gene bred relatively dominantly, although a lot of this was because they interbred with other Bonshooni for the most part and Bonshoon blood was basically a smoothie of irredeemable fuckedness. When they bred with Blaren – or, on at least one occasion the Bear had heard about in the Wubbleford dispatches, a Molran – there was a bit more genetic regulation and selection that took place and the result was vanilla more often than not, albeit vanilla that needed to shave once a year or so. All told, since great-grandpappy and great-granny Wubbleford had stumbled out of their sleepers and been swept into the birthing of the Fifth Species, the extended family had swollen to just under two hundred souls. About a hundred and fifty of them were ‘full Wubblefords’. He was by no means unique, but a hundred and fifty fuzzy-wuzzy Bonshooni in all of Six Species space had a way of making him seem unique.
His distinctiveness neither helped nor hindered him, on balance. He occasionally used it to his advantage, and it occasionally got in the way of business, but for the most part nobody really batted an eye. It was part of who he was. It was a part of what he did.
The Bear was a registered bard of the interstellar realm, and although he didn’t have representative status he was a dues-paying member of the Sojourners’ Guild. That was his job, and he was good at it even if he wasn’t exactly renowned. His hobbies were a bit more difficult to quantify in a snappy set of titles, but it was fair to say they were all extensions of his work. One way or another. Depending on your interpretation. They went a long way towards explaining why he didn’t push himself into the limelight more, certainly.
You couldn’t be famous, fuzzy and an art thief. Classic triangle. You could only pick two.