The view-port slid open, and a pair of eyes assessed him. "Can I help you?"
"I'm Rocky. Jimmy the Bits sent me."
"But that's not what he told you to say, is it." It wasn't a question.
"…'Flow my tears'?"
The door hissed and swung open. The bouncer was immense, and missing an arm. Rocky didn't imagine he'd have any trouble breaking someone's neck even with only the one, but the Company wouldn't have kept him on in the mines. "Twenty scrip."
He'd thought it'd be more; he handed over the bill, which the bouncer held up to the light.
"Can't trust an Eek freak. Though you're not one yet, I suppose." He grinned. "Give it time. Up the ladder, down the corridor, door's open."
The room was small, full of stale, fetid air. The Eekogle sat in a bowl-shaped chair. Bed? Its tentacles hung flaccid over the rim. It was surrounded by Eek freaks, sitting motionless on the floor. It was watching football on the wallscreen.
There was a handler in the corner, reading a book. His face was blotchy, discolored: old burn marks? He delivered his instructions without looking up. "Sit anywhere. Leave your pressure suit on, the medical sensors will tell us if you're having a bad trip. When you're ready, just stick out your tongue."
Rocky picked an empty patch of carpet, and sat. The man next to him was older, thin, balding. His suit lights showed green but he was sweating, breathing shallow, slack-jawed.
"It's psychotropic," the handler said. "Their ancestors developed it as a defense against predators. None of the megafauna on their planet will even give them a second look now. Not even if they're starving."
Rocky stared at the Eekogle for a long time, without moving.
You only live once. Rocky stuck out his tongue. One of the alien's tentacles lifted from the chair rim, stretched out, elongating towards him. The tip glistened with a clear excretion.
Rocky licked it.