The creature watched the room warily. Natalya and Adele had both wanted to get a closer look, but given Xue’s warning, it had quickly been decided Greg would handle the first couple interactions. For all Natalya was the biology major, he did have the most hands on experience with wildlife, and unlike both girls, he actually had combat training. Still, he felt just a little apprehensive. The creature’s eyes reminded him of a shark. Just solid black.
“Hello.” He felt a little awkward speaking, but it seemed polite to offer a greeting. The creature didn’t react. Greg took a closer look. The creature’s skin looked to have the same texture as that of a dolphin, but with greener tones. There was clearly webbing between the fingers, and the fingers ended in claws. While he might be able to pass for human in dimmer light or… Greg frowned as he looked up. The lights were a bright florescent. “Can you dim those?”
“They aren’t on a dimmer.” One of the handlers shook his head.
“Well, turn off the ones on this side of the room then.” Greg stared at the handler until the man rolled his eyes and obeyed. When he turned back to look at the creature, he was surprised to realize the creature was now staring at him, his head tilted quizzically. Greg hesitated a moment, then indicated himself. “I’m Greg.”
“It doesn’t talk.” The handler smirked.
“Possible his vocal cords don’t align with anything that can make vocalizations for human language.” Greg drew a little closer. The creature’s ears were clearly inhuman, and he could see gill slits behind them that went down to his neck. “Especially since he doesn’t breathe the same way we do.” He looked up at the creature, and smiled, careful not to show his teeth. “Sorry, don’t mean to talk about you like you aren’t here.” He held out his hand a little. “Is it alright if I touch you?”
At first he got no response, then the creature moved. Immediately, the handlers went on alert, their hands reaching for weapons. Greg quickly gestured for them to get back. All the creature had done was lift up a hand, mirroring Greg’s own movement. The lead handler glared at him. “Kid, you haven’t seen that thing’s teeth yet.”
Greg put his palm up, then extended his hand, moving slowly. The creature did the same, then allowed their palms to touch. His skin was cold to the touch, and did indeed feel like the skin of a dolphin, only… “Dry. You’re…” A dolphin shouldn’t be allowed to dry. It resulted in painful lesions. “Don’t you have misters?”
“What?” The handler blinked.
“Misters. Or a fogger or something to keep moisture in the air. His skin…” Greg looked back over his shoulder. “He’s amphibious, like a frog or dolphin. Dry skin has got to be uncomfortable. It could even get infected or blister if allowed to be dry for too long.” He saw the handler’s eyes widen. “Get a humidifier in here at least.”
Then he turned back toward the creature and his own eyes went wide. The creature’s lips had drawn back somewhat, revealing a row of razor-sharp looking shark-like teeth. He swallowed, and glanced at where his palm was still pressed against that of the creatures. Then he met the creature’s eyes again. “Hang on a minute, and we’ll get you more comfortable, alright?”
At first, he thought there was no possible way the creature could understand him. Maybe it couldn’t even actually hear utterances outside the water or… Then, so slight he almost missed it, the creature nodded.