If an acquaintance meant to be polite, they’d probably call Martin something like “headstrong” or “strong-willed.” Not that he cared.

“Didn’t have a place in this world,” according to him.

Let’s just say Martin was “obstinate.”

Friends and family called him other things. Their favorite words included “thick-headed”, “narrow-minded”, or an “idiot.” Again, never phased him. When his old man called him the “biggest ape-headed fool he’d ever seeded this side of the river,” he just curled his lip and shrugged it off.

“Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Nobody forgot that day.

Years back, Martin had cracked his molars trying to bite through a turkey leg bone because Tim called bull on his war story. Martin bragged that when his unit was ambushed in Portland, he chewed through an android’s arm to escape its choke-hold. As he tells it, he tore through synthetic skin, ballistic-gel muscles, copper filament, and titanium skeleton before “that cold-blooded killing machine” knocked him out. He left out the fact that it had a whole other functional arm, since you know, these things don’t feel pain. Martin says by that point it was all a haze and he must’ve reached what he calls “indomitable levels of adrenaline.”

So, Tim bet him five hundred bucks that he couldn’t even bite through a turkey bone. Martin crushed it, with some roaring to mask his new need for dental surgery, and collected his five hundred. Tim was about to bet Martin that he’d never even seen a killdroid up close, but I punched him in the arm before he could finish the sentence. It caused a big blue bruise.

He might’ve been annoyed at me for a couple of weeks. But deep down, having known Martin for twenty odd years, it probably saved Tim’s life.