Dee could have ended the meatling’s pain, but if she simply put him out of his misery, she wouldn’t maximize her nutritional intake (she hadn’t been able to resist with the first one; she’d been too damn hungry). Her meat and potatoes were fear and suffering.
Accordingly, she pushed her prey below the surface of the muck, reveling in his wild heartbeat, his frantic moans. Every so often, she’d let him up for a brief gulp of air—he would take in a great, shuddery gasp that was almost a wail—and push him back down. His panic was delicious.
But she couldn’t draw it out for too long. Other entities would sense her activity, and in her weakened state, she wouldn’t be able to fight them off. She had to suck as much as she could from these three bloodbags (she hadn’t forgotten about the one on the hill) and keep a low profile until her strength returned. If she got caught up in a fight with Abraxas or Memnoch, her ascendance would be delayed by several millennia.
The sound of an engine rumbled through the air. Dee looked toward it—at the hill to her right—and saw a pair of headlights blaze into existence.
Her right hand formed into a two-foot long, spiny proboscis. She plunged it downward, into the center of her prey’s brain (Ricky, she realized as her mental siphon connected with his psyche) and sucked his consciousness into her being. Her eyes drooped closed and she let out a moan. He tasted amazing.
The truck came to a stop a dozen yards away.
“Ricky! Gonzo! Where are you?” the man in the truck (Hank, she realized, courtesy of the incoming data from Ricky’s psyche) screamed. “Come on—let’s fucking GO!”
Hank looked around, then his gaze settled on Gonzo’s corpse. The giant red holes, the wriggling worm-creatures that were burrowing through flesh, bone and armor….
“Oh my…oh my…FUCK!”
Dee called her worms with a mental command. [Return.]
The worms slid across the grass, braiding into thick, gleaming coils before they crawled up her neck and slid down her throat. Her cheeks bulged wide as she gulped and swallowed. After the tail-end of the braid disappeared, she closed her eyes in unabashed pleasure.
Fresh misery was coursing through her being. It was utterly delectable.
“Aaaaah.” She smacked her lips and looked at Hank, who was leveling the end of his ridiculous metal weapon at her. Oh, it had all sorts of energy manipulation devices mounted on its rails, but her auric sight informed her they weren’t dangerous; they were for optic enhancement.
“You know what’s going to happen, right?” Her form had solidified; she now looked like a pretty teenage girl in a black goth getup. She watched Hank struggling to process the change, and found it charming. Ricky’s psyche informed her that Hank was a soldier—he’d been heavily indoctrinated in the concept of “target identification.” Unless push came to shove, he wasn’t going to kill a teenage girl.
Fool. Her lips spread wide in a predatory smile.
Then his eyes hardened as his critical thinking overrode his training. She was mildly impressed; she’d crushed entire civilizations through the pull of dogma. The fact that Hank could adjust this quickly meant he was a formidable human.
“Yeah.” He centered his holographic sight on her buxom chest. “I’m pretty sure I know what you want.”
“So why fight it?” She cocked her head, curious.
“I am what I am,” he said tightly.
A respectful nod. “At least you’re honest about it.”
“All I was doing was managing guys who were walking in a circle.” He gave her a slight grin. “In a lot of ways, this is a welcome change.”
“Maybe we should thank each other.”
“That’s not how this works.” Hank unloaded on her, emptying his clip in a matter of seconds. He ejected the mag and canted his rifle up, reaching down and grabbing a fresh clip out of his harness. He jacked it in, slapped the side of his gun—the bolt slammed home with a crisp-sounding chank—before she blurred toward him, gouging his eyes with her index and middle fingers. Her right fingers went in his right eye socket, her left fingers in the other one. Both her palms were turned outward.
She pulled her hands out to either side, extending her arms in a wide, sweeping slash. Hank’s skull blew apart. Chunks of brain trailed her fingers, marking the air with red-speckled gore.
He slumped to his knees, then on to his side. The wounds in his temples—curd-filled craters filled with reddish slop—made it appear as if his face had been mutilated him with a razor-edged ice cream scoop.
Mmmm…Dee popped her fingers in her mouth, licking them clean of blood and viscera. Yummy. She extended her senses and felt a bit of relief—the aetheric tides were still and quiet. So far, so good—she hadn’t been noticed by other entities.
Because Ricky’s psyche informed her that more food would be coming soon.
Half an hour later, a fleet of vehicles parked in a herringbone formation next to the guard shack. They were SRU, according to Ricky’s assimilated mind. This was confirmed a second later, when a squad of kitted-up operators poured from the cars. They dropped to a knee, shouldered their weapons, and scanned their surroundings. The squad leader signaled, and the rest of the operators repeated the gesture. They got to their feet and began moving forward in a double-file column.
She started walking toward them. One of them saw her; he raised his fist and the rest halted, spreading into a line whose width was to her front. They raised their weapons, painting her body with invisible lasers. Her auric sight displayed them as a glowing network of dancing lines.
“Girl,” one of them called. “Teenager. Unarmed.”
“Weapons free,” the squad leader replied.
A barrage of slugs plinked off her skin, causing her clothes to jump and quiver with each hit. Dozens of rounds later, the team leader called, “Stop.” His men repeated it, and the fire came to a halt.
Dee stood tall. Urgent murmurs—shit, what the fuck—rippled through their line.
“Again.” The squad leader tried to remain calm, but a tinge of hysteria crept into his voice. Hand-loaded ordnance washed over Dee, enveloping her in a blanket of snaps and pops.
The squad leader let his rifle droop. He was wearing a balaclava; the fabric around his mouth dimpled and quivered as he struggled to express his disbelief.
A moment later he pointed his rifle toward the sky (a high-port, according to the Rick-i-pedia) and yelled: “Back to the trucks, no peel!” For a second Dee was confused—“no peel?”—then the Rick-i-pedia informed her that under normal circumstances, they would have retreated in an orderly manner called a “peel” which would have allowed them to maintain a steady rate of fire.
She waited until they piled in their vehicles. As the engines started up, they leaned out their windows and began shooting at her. This time it wasn’t nearly as disciplined; they tore apart the landscape with wild, frenzied bursts. The muck to her rear exploded with divots.
And then she was moving.
Everything slowed—she could see individual bullets streaking through the air. She ran up to a truck and hit it with her shoulder, causing it to pinball into another truck, sending them both tumbling off the road. The other two cars were gaining distance; the men inside them probably thought they were going to escape.
Dee raised her right hand, clutching the air like she was holding a baseball at arm’s length. When her telekinetic freeze hit the vehicles, their reinforced wheels spun and screamed, churning up acrid clouds of foul-smelling smoke. Screams erupted from inside the cars.
Puny meatlings. To think you can fight me with tiny metal fragments…ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous.
She drew them in, slowly but steadily. The doors popped open and soldiers poured out. They tried to run, but Dee’s mouth yawed wide; her lower jaw reached down to her knees, and—
—unleashed a torrent of segmented coils, each one capped by a vicious, snapping mouth that resembled a freshly-hatched xenomorph from the Aliens film franchise. They lashed through the air in whip-like twists, coating the men in a rat’s nest of tentacles. Sharp-fanged mouths latched hungrily on to gear and flesh, reducing the operators into a writhing pile of bloody food.
They’d arrived as warriors, but she’d revealed them to be human, and now, meat.
As it should be. She called the worms back. The last tentacle slid into her mouth with a wet, sliding shhlllPP.
God DAMN that is tasty. She wiped drool off the edge of her lips.
Who knows? she thought as she slid into the front of an intact car.
This could be fun.
She gunned the engine and drove off into the night.