"Last chance, Neek. You got business here, or not?"
"I… I came to speak to, to Rudof Dyll."
The Modajai scowled and tightened his grip. Simikus felt a tingling numbness seeping into his fingers. "I m-m-mean, Master Dyll. I have a business offer in which he may be interested."
The Modajai glanced up toward the hovering platform. Simikus glanced too and found the conveyance parked almost on top of them. He saw the lively face of Rudof Dyll peering down at him quizzically. After a moment, Dyll nodded to the Modajai.
"This way," growled the hulking bouncer as he half yanked, half shoved Simikus toward a set of stairs near the edge of the main dance floor.
Simikus reached the upper end of the steps, and Rudof Dyll's platform drifted over to meet him. Omega Station's most powerful inhabitant dismissed the beings that had been his company, all save for an intimidating Vamir, and motioned for Simikus to join him.
Simikus could not believe his great fortune. The Vamir aside, this was a private audience! Simikus sat a little higher in his seat.
"Welcome to the Starview Lounge, my Nicovan friend," Dyll began pleasantly.
Simikus, suddenly aware of the Vamir's skewering stare, nodded nervously at Rudof Dyll. "Um, yes, it's very, very nice. Very posh."
Rudof Dyll's bejeweled eyelashes fluttered as he passed a grin to his bodyguard. "Posh. I can't refute, can I, Algensio?"
The Vamir shook his head, without lifting his gaze from Simikus.
Dyll looked to Simikus, "Again, you're welcome here…not that I have any say in the matter, of course. After all, I'm only a customer myself."
Dyll's ornamented face turned away, and Simikus saw that others scattered throughout the lounge were watching closely.
Simikus swallowed the instant unease that turn his heart cold with fear. This was not the reception he had hoped for. He'd expected Dyll to start negotiations at once, not deny that he had any interest in business.
"Um. I, uh…I know where you can procure a large quantity of straz."
Dyll's green eyes widened and he leaned back in his seat. The Vamir had reached across the table, seized Simikus's head-lobe and pushed his face into an abandoned plate of food that one of Dyll's earlier guests had left.
As Simikus wriggled futilely beneath the Vamir's iron grip, Rudof Dyll leaned in close to his ear and whispered. "Never. Never, ever speak of such subjects around me in public. Do you hear me, Neek?"
Simikus nodded his head as best he could with his face in a pile of yeast steak. He heard Dyll snap his ringed fingers; Algensio released him.
Cautiously, Simikus sat up straight and found Dyll offering him a napkin, a wry grin on the Human's narrow face. He took it, and slowly wiped the food from his face.
What am I going to do? This is all wrong. What was I thinking? Was I thinking? I've got to get out of here, but how do I do that now?
He laid the soiled napkin on the table, and then Simikus's nerves received yet another jolt; this time a good one.
"You're stupid, but you have nerve, Neek. I like that. You intrigue me. Why don't we go somewhere private and discuss this…merchandise?"
With wary eye on the Vamir, Simikus nodded at Dyll's invitation.