Snareel hated being called a mutt — and no one got away with it. With slight frustration painted across his face, he raised an arm. The underlings fell silent instantly.
“This mynah likes to run his mouth,” he noted.
Wazp took the hint and flicked Tim’s mouth.
“Ugh!” Tim covered his lips in pain while the ruags laughed mockingly.
“Thanks to your little interference, business has been stalled,” said Snareel, sighing as he spoke. He paced back and forth.
“Pfft, call that business,” Tim retorted, wholly unimpressed, but the pfft didn’t come out right after being flicked. Wazp thought he had a death wish. Snareel kicked Tim in the side.
“Mmmm!” Tim flinched in pain.
“I don’t like your tone there,” cautioned Snareel. “It seems we must teach you one last lesson before ending your miserable life.” His frowning jaws twisted into a sinister grin.
“If you kill me, you’ll be declaring war against the Creed,” Tim assured him, huffing in the process. “Are you sure you want to risk that?”
“Hmmm … I suppose you are under the Creed’s protection …” said Snareel, rubbing his chin as he pretended to ponder Tim’s question. “… but what about your friend over there?” he asked. His eyes gleamed at the thought as he gestured to the unconscious Jenkins.
The underlings all cackled with hisses, buzzes, and clicks. Tim couldn’t help but be reminded of a pack of hyenas. Hyssss was looking especially enthusiastic like a child granted permission to play with a new toy.
Tim’s eyes narrowed with anger; Snareel just hit a nerve. “Touch him and I’ll freeze you all so fast — your heads will shatter!” he threatened — hoping to make good on that promise. It didn’t sound too convincing; Tim was still lying on the pavement like a turned over turtle.
“Oooh, hooo! You have a sharp tongue! Is that also under the Creed’s protection?” Snareel taunted. “Time to have some fun, boys.” Snareel stepped back. “Raknae, to me,” Tim heard him whisper. The spider-Blood immediately scurried protectively next to him. His legs had moved so fast that Tim could barely see them.
Creepy-looking bugger, he thought as his goosebumps danced wildly. The rest of the ruags surrounded Tim while snickering. Hyssss looked very unwilling to stay where he was.
Kobre slithered forward while cracking his knuckles. “You Keeperss think you’re all that. Can’t do anything without your fancy gun now, can you?”
This can’t be good, thought Tim. He tried to hide his worry, but it had managed to slip onto his face. At this point, he knew he’d be unable to save Jenkins nor himself. How much time had passed since he had called for backup? Will they find their dead bodies, or will they become permanent missing persons? No, I just have to stall, he convinced himself.
“Stand up mynah, at least make this more entertaining for us,” commanded Snareel with an almost bored look.
“Here-z, let-z me-z help-z you-z, heh-z heh-z,” said Wazp, forcefully pulling Tim into a standing position by his head. The ruags hollered with laughter.
“Sso, uh, do I sstill have to hold him?” Hyssss awkwardly chimed in. Everyone looked at Hyssss in disbelief, including Tim.
“Read-sz the-sz mood-sz, fulu-sz!” Vezpar barked, buzzing in frustration. He was a yellowy chrome, blotted with dark spots everywhere. His face was long and angular, with cold, hooded light yellow eyes. Dark spikes ran along his head like a mohawk. Similar to Wazp, he tucked away his silver wings.
Chance! thought Tim. He took this distraction as an opportunity to strike first and dived for his equipment behind Wazp. His leg screamed in agony, but he was determined to get a preemptive strike. Wazp quickly noticed and stomped on him mid-dive.
“Heh-z heh-z,” mocked Wazp. “Who-z zquizhed-z who-z now-z?”