As a last-ditch effort at saving its crew, the ship must have ejected its occupants. She lay—limp, bruised and still strapped into a chair—eighty metres from the crash-site. He hurried over to her body, afraid that she was dead, and was relieved to see that she was still very much alive, although parts of her body were blistered, her uniform charred. With expert hands, Toh felt her limbs and ribcage but detected no broken bones, although there was an alarming swelling on the side of her head. Still, she had been unbelievably lucky.
He worked the stiff mechanism, finally managing to undo the harness clips, and carried her back to the flitter. With the idea of more survivors in mind, he scouted in a wider radius from the ruined ship but only found two other bodies. He hesitated. It was only right that he should give them a proper burial but Toh knew he wouldn’t be the only visitor to the site. Reluctantly, he left the dead humans where they landed and, even thought she was the enemy, even though she would eventually call down destruction from the heavens on him, he got into the flitter next to her, and started the engines.
He glanced at her often as he flew, low and fast, retracing his trek across the Northern Waste. He hadn’t seen a woman that beautiful in…decades. He touched her cheek gently with a long finger, afraid she would shatter into a million pieces in front of his eyes. From the dim illumination of his instruments, he noticed that her skin was a luscious chocolate, her hair raven-black and wavy, her lips a perfect generous bow. He lost time and concentration as he watched her—wondering about the colour of her eyes, the sound of her voice—before his brain kicked in, and he focused on getting back home as quickly as possible.
Now, two days after that furtive rescue mission, the first trial was upon him. He only wondered that it had taken this long.
Stopping at the sink, he stretched out his bronzed arms and slammed both hands on the metal, curving his fingers over the bowl’s inner edge as he began the change. It was painful, excruciating, and he gritted his teeth as he concentrated on lengthening his bones and changing the shape of his skull.
The radar pinged ominously behind him, its soft blips of warning increasing in frequency.
He had never changed his form so quickly before, and the usual discomfort flowered into something more terrible, making every limb tremble and the lean muscles of his body bow and stretch like taut bands. Drops of blood and sweat appeared on his arms, chest and face. His body shook more violently and it was only the press of his palms against cold steel that kept him standing.
When it was finally over, he took a few deep breaths, not trusting himself to let go of the sink just yet. The dimensions of his dome shrank from its former—human—size and he stared down at the long pale fingers clenched beneath him.
How could humans stand being so small? So short? And how could such small beings be so full of hate?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish