Inside, rising apartment buildings, speckled with scurrying inhabitants, sparkled gently in the fraction of glow let through the shaded, glassy panes of the canopy above. In the center of a transportation tube hanging between two of the largest centers of commerce in the colony, a young, Earth-born male was about to be introduced to his very first non-humanoid being.
"Calle, I want you to understand something. Eroch is very different from anyone you have ever met before," warned Calle's father.
"I know, Dad. You've only told me about him three million times," assured the eager boy.
"Alright. I just want you to be ready for this," he returned.
The two stood patiently at one of the monorail's stopping terminals and watched for the unusual physique of a Templarrond to emerge from the sliding doors.
Calle Benson had lived his entire twelve years of life on Earth—except for the past three months. He and his father moved to GammaGoddard IV so that Mr. Benson could keep his job as a solar research technician. Calle had met several other of his father's alien co-workers, but all had been humanoid and very much resembled the natives of Earth. He had been waiting for this moment as long as he could remember.
The boy looked up in awe at the immense creature slowly emerging from the sliding doors of the monorail trail. A busy-looking man rushed around the large, tan tail of the beast, trying to jump through the doorway before Eroch could get there. A plump lady further back in the train holding her daughter's hand whispered something to her child and motioned her away from Eroch's moist hand reaching out for the handrail. A teenage boy in a metallic dress suit was cut off directly in back of Eroch. "Lousy Temp," mumbled the boy. Eroch's bug-like head swiveled a full 180 degrees. "Sowry," boomed the alien's dark, contrabass voice, attempting to mimic human speech to the best of his ability.
"Eroch! Hey, let me help you, bud," said Mr. Benson, reaching out to his colleague's stubby hand. The two beings looked strangely compatible to Calle as they slowly walked across the terminal.
Eroch's gaping mouth widened as he spoke, "Yoo most be Colle."
Staring dumbly at the giant slug-like body of the creature, Calle answered quietly, "Yeah. Hi."
He met the being's extended hand with his and was shocked at Eroch's gentle grip. He was also startled by the slimy coating of the alien skin; however, the moisture evaporated within a few seconds of contact, much to Calle's relief.
"Tonight we're gonna go to the HoloMax and play some of Eroch's tapes of his home," announced Calle's father.
"I've hod zem tranzlayted to yor longwayge," said Eroch.
"Great!" exclaimed Mr. Benson. "Should we head there right now, then?" He waited for a reply, but then offered an alternative. "Or should we treat Eroch to some good ol' human cuisine?"
"Oh, thonk yo, bot I'm afraid I hov an onusual doiet," explained Eroch.
"Well, then, I think Calle and I can hold out till after the films."
The motley trio wandered through the crowded cylinders connecting the buildings on every side. They walked past droids of every shape and size, holographic advertisements, and bustling elderly people in hoverchairs. Without fail, every human managed to lift up his eyes and glare at the prominent visitor. Very few of them had ever really known a Templarrond, but everyone had heard the rumors—anything from the Temp's habits of eating children to their tendency to flatulate flames. But Mr. Benson knew that Eroch was a genius and had helped their corporation in countless ways. He trusted Eroch.
The three friends, upon reaching the HoloMax, reserved a room and watched Eroch's family in 3D surround-sight. Calle looked all around at the projections of Templarrian architecture and landscapes. The Templarronds on the tape all seemed extremely intelligent.
They emerged from the high-tech theater several hours later and went back to the Bensons' apartment. Calle and his father got comfortable on their couch. Eroch explained that he was content to squat on the floor, which was just as well, because none of the Bensons' furniture would have held up under the weight of the alien. They discussed the tapes and chatted about their recent experiences. Eroch enjoyed the view out to the shiny stalagmites protruding from the rough surface on the planet outside. He expressed a desire to wander out in the mountainous terrain just beyond the plexiglass, a dream that could never be fulfilled had he been a human. But there were some advantages to being a Templarrond.
The Bensons left Eroch to sleep in their living room, grabbed a couple of sandwiches, and prepared for bed. A few hours later, as Calle dozed off in his silk covers, he heard a grumble from another room. He lay awake. He listened. Another inhuman growl rolled in from the living room. It had to have been Eroch.
Calle was just about to call for his father when a shadow appeared in his doorway. It was Eroch. The mass of slimy flesh on his abdomen swung around and struck Calle in the face. Calle tried to beckon the computer to turn on the lights, but his mouth was pinned shut by pounds of moist flesh. Suddenly a juice oozed from Eroch's tail onto Calle's tender skin. A searing pain shot through the boy's nerves. The grumbling returned. It was much louder now. In a matter of seconds, the small human's skin was completely corroded. The giant predator placed its body on top of Calle's remains and ingested its kill in one smooth enveloping gulp. One last grumble erupted from the murderer's inner organs as a stream of blueish flame shot out of its posterior end.
Eroch took two large bounces toward the Bensons' window and swatted it with a powerful blow from its tail. He repeated the process twice more. Mr. Benson awoke at the thuds emanating from his son's bedroom. He rushed to the scene and looked in horror at the stains on the floor. He watched helplessly as the final swish of the demon's tail smashed through the glass, sending the entire apartment's supply of air screaming through the jagged edges of the smashed portal. In a second, Benson was sucked into the low-pressure, noxious atmosphere of the inhospitable planet as Eroch wriggled out onto the rocky terrain and bounced away remorselessly into the distance.