“Everyone in the room wants to eat you, kid.”
U-Tee shrugged. “Whatever.”
He hated it, but the Verba was right. When U-Tee stumbled into the bar, he immediately knew he had walked into the wrong place. The diamond eyes and lizard-like movements in the shadows betrayed the presence of Yunni and T’shesh, predators with a taste for the sentient. To turn around and walk directly out of the bar was inviting trouble to follow, so U-Tee sat down in a dark corner and hoped he wouldn’t attract attention. Twenty minutes should have been enough to let him walk out without arousing suspicion, but seven minutes into his stay, a Verba took an interest and now the attention of the room was focused on U-Tee, the little omnivore.
The Verba had a humanoid outline, but his head was topped with tentacles, not hair, and patches of his skin were covered by a thick chitin. He was wearing patchy armor held together with worn leather straps. The Verba leaned across the table, his claws tapping on the metal surface.
“Everyone can feel the tension kidâ€ he lowered his voice. “But I made the first move, and they’re scared of me. I’m a big bomb, and you’re mine to claim.” He slid in closer, fluid like blood, his mouth next to U-Tees’ ear. “You come with me and you might just get out of this.”
U-Tee whispered into the four-pointed flower nestled in the Verbas tentacles, a spot he assumed was an ear.
“Piss off.” He whispered. The Verba pulled back, grinning. U-Tee knew enough to recognize that it wasn’t friendly. He was showing teeth.
“How did humans ever get into space?” The Verba opened his arms, speaking to the room. “Flat-toothed plant eaters were meant to stay dumb, but here you are, pretending to be a hunter.” He closed his lips and inhaled, his wet nostrils flaring. “But you smell like meat.” He shrugged. “You don’t want to go with me, fine.”
He turned and took a step away from the table. There was the sudden screech of plastic against metal as the room’s occupants rose from their chairs. U-Tee jumped and the Verba turned quickly, leaning back on the table, looking around the room, tense, defensive. U-Tee tried to slow his breathing as the hunters in the room relaxed back into their seats.
“Then again kid, if you change your mind, you can come with me.”
U Tee trembled, and felt his heart beat a staccato under his skin. “Why should I go with you?” The Verba leaned in and lowered his voice.
“Because I think that you are worth more alive. Because I can hear your heart thrumming. Because you’re alone. But mostly kid, because I am the only one here who isn’t hungry.”
U-Tee reached out his hand. “Let’s go.”