Baetylus muttered thank you but didn’t look up from his work. After a moment, he froze, the weaving vanishing into thin air. The animals of the planet didn’t speak. Only the apes did.
“Hey! Where did it go?”
Baetylus turned around slowly, the meatform’s heart racing in its chest. Its mouth felt dry. Its hands shook. He knew that this was a standard reaction to a hormone the apes produced when they were excited or angry or frightened. He wasn’t sure which one he felt, though.
A young female looked up at him, dark hair and wide dark eyes and an irritated look on her face. “Make it come back!” she said, crossing her arms and stamping her foot in a miniature threat display.
“I don’t… excuse me?”
“The pretty monster thing. Make it come back.”
Baetylus said nothing. He just stared, and then he held out the meatform’s hand and an obsequii appeared there. It raised its tentacles and waved them excitedly. Its skin changed color as he tried to recall what their mating displays looked like. Violet and red and indigo and blue and pink. These were colors the apes associated with royalty, he vaguely recalled.
The girl squealed in delight, and for the first time in months, Baetylus felt a smile come to the meatform’s lips.