“Humans are high in protein.” One of the four-armed aliens makes the comment to another of the four-armed aliens.
“Oh, fuck off, you’re cannibals?” I’m supposed to stay quiet, but I’m not going to stay silent while they talk about consuming me. I draw the line, well, a long way north of that point.
“It’s not cannibalism when you are consuming a different species.”
“I thought it was just when anybody ate human flesh?” I argue, though I’m not absolutely certain, but what does absolutely certain matter when there is so much at stake? I’ll distract them with whatever nonsense I can come up with.
The red alien gives me a scowling look. “I think you should be silent and cower in fear as we discuss whether or not to consume you.”
I’m not truly worried. Terrible isn’t going to let any real harm come to me. I trust him with my life. I trust him with my everything. I’m doing what is commonly known in the business, whatever that means, as creating a distraction.
“I think you should all go fuck yourselves,” I say. It’s good to break some internal tension with a bit of swearing.
“We fucked ourselves earlier.”
“Their species is capable of self-reproduction. Parthenogenesis,” Terrible explains.
“It is cool. We are not burdened with the weight of deciding which gender should be in charge, as we have no genders. Each and every one of us can gestate young.”
Red sounds quite proud of himself. I’m pretty sure if I can keep him talking, he’s going to entirely forget about eating me. Besides, aside from the fangs, their teeth don’t really look like flesh-tearing teeth. They look like slightly larger human teeth stuck in the skull of a fantasy creature made real by some flight of interstellar fancy from Mother Nature.
I see Terrible move ever so slightly as I am speaking with the others. Red has a blade hanging from his or I suppose, her, belt. Their belt. There we go. Neutral.
“Are you gestating any young right now? Do you have any pictures of young you’ve recently gestated?”
“We gestate but once, human, and only after…”
My lesson on the self-mating habits of these creatures is cut short when Terrible snatches the blade from Red’s waist and slides it into Red’s neck flesh so smoothly it almost seems like it has always been there.
I’ve seen him dress down subordinates who were not behaving as expected. I have seen him destroy enemy ships. I’ve never seen him take life before. Now I see him slay six of the aliens in quick succession. He moves with deathly alacrity. He is not taking any real pleasure in killing, but he is doing it swiftly and with a range of various kicks, cuts, and dare I say, chops. In less than a minute, we are surrounded by the dead and the dying.
I stand, my hands over my mouth, my eyes wide. I don't know how to feel. He just saved us. And he had every right to kill them, but I don’t know, maybe I was already invested in the conversation to the point that them all being dead now feels like an atrocity of some kind? Weird. Sympathizing with the enemy is probably a bad idea.
“You just killed them all. In one go.”
Terrible sighs and briefly covers his eyes with his blood stained hand. When he pulls it away, the scales above his brow are marked red and gold with the traces of sanguine alien essence.
“That is why I went on my own,” he says. “I kill, Lucky. I am always ready to do just that. There is a reason King Tyrant trusts me more than anybody, and there is a reason I wanted you with him. I was always going to survive. But now you have seen things which cannot be unseen. You have sacrificed your innocence to be by my side when I must be at my most monstrous.”
“Yeah. I guess.” I just want to change the subject — and get away from the bodies. “So we should probably get out of here before more come.”
“We’re not going to ‘get out’ of here. We are going to the bridge. Stay close behind me, and close your eyes if you need to. What will be done here today, must be done.”
He crouches down next to Red and…
I close my eyes, because I have a feeling that he is going what I can only describe as medieval on the body of the alien foolish enough to bring a beast like Terrible aboard his ship.
Unfortunately, closing your eyes doesn’t block out the gristly sounds of a head being removed. I can hear every motion of the blade going though, and…
“There,” he says. “Proof.”
And to think I once considered him to be nothing more than a glorified butler.
I follow him out of the room. He has all the weaponry and all the security clearances which were on the other aliens. He also seems to have an uncanny sense of where to go.