He had a hard time remembering they weren’t human, even in those first few days when the shock of seeing something so utterly alien kicked his fight-or-flight reflexes into overdrive. The shrinks called it ‘mental coping mechanisms’ on the official paperwork, but the feeling that the Thinkers were just humans in rubber suits wasn’t a human psychosis. It was something the Thinkers did, instinctually, projecting a sense of commonality along the mental radio they shared. Jack had told him this, in those slurping coughs of voice, the first time they met and Tim had nodded and smiled seeing ramifications far beyond fellowship and trade.
They had known he was different from the moment the first Thinker’s mind brushed his own. That had changed things, pulled the negotiations past simple trade and treaties and into the realm the negotiators were afraid to go. They hadn’t asked what the Thinkers really wanted, why the alien trading families had sought them out across empty space, and how they manipulated the best negotiators Earth had like dogs herded sheep. They couldn’t ask, but Tim could.
Plus he could appreciate the irony of calling a cross between a giant slug and a termite ‘Jack’, even if they calming murmur in the back of his mind hadn’t been encouraging it.