Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The truck crests the ridge with a loud whine from the drive servos momentarily rising above the sound of tyres on rough ground.
A slim figure leans against a rocky outcrop: shirtless, barefoot, a cigarette hanging from her mouth.
Sheriff Ron Cheadle slaps Deputy Cal Danvers: “We got her. Grab your gun and let’s finish this.” He grabs Cal’s shoulder: “And no staring. Y’hear me?”
Cal nods. His fear has already overridden his usual interest in a lady wearing only briefs. He exits the vehicle and brings his pistol to bear: “Brigitte Noma, place your hands behind your head and kneel on the ground.”
She holds up her cigarette: “Couple of minutes.”
Ron’s not having any of it, leveling a shotgun: “Now.”
She shrugs and flicks the half-finished smoke toward them. Moving slowly, she complies with the instructions.
Ron nods his head toward her.
Cal steps wide, then approaches from behind. As he reaches for her wrist, her head whips round and her grip somehow twists. She pulls Cal into her. When her head swings back, she tears Cal’s throat out. He collapses next to her, blood spurting.
Ron shoots her.
“Had to have one last kill, didn’t you?”
Tears in his eyes, he takes three steps closer and shoots her again. An arm still moves.
“After nine years, you’re done. There’ll be no trial.” He moves in, racking another shell.
Her other arm flashes over and she shoots him with Cal’s pistol.
He drops the shotgun and topples, eyes wide in disbelief.
She rolls over, wounds closing before his eyes.
“I landed here when you lot were still killing the natives with cavalry charges. The idea was to weaken you before our invasion. But you breed so fast. The planners got it wrong. By the time the leaders accepted the inevitable and aborted the operation, you were too numerous and technically capable for a covert retrieval attempt. My leash-master suicided out with the rest of the infiltration team. They left me, their weapon, behind. Therefore, I do what I was made for and ordered to do. I will do it for as long as I can.”
Ron watches as she kisses Cal’s eye. His mouth opens and air escapes with a shriek as their features start to warp. Hissing steam obscures Ron’s view. When it clears, a shirtless Cal kneels by a dead Brigitte, a bullet wound clearly visible in her throat.
The new Cal talks as he swaps clothing with the transformed cadaver: “Good shot, Sheriff. Remarkable, actually. She ambushed us, overpowered me, and fatally wounded you using my weapon. Yet you still managed to bring her down before she finished me off. It’s so sad. I’m going to be shell-shocked with grief for a long while. May never recover. Might have to move on. Or, I might commit suicide after I start living with someone who helped me through my grief. Such a shame, everybody thought I had gotten over the guilt of your death. My heartbroken partner will be unable to stay, will have to leave the area.”
He smiles, stands up, takes six steps back, and aims the pistol at Ron.
“Now for that fatal wound. You can try and survive if you must. It makes no difference.”