Ned was not a creature who was built for running. Neither was Viking. He was built for hitting and lifting, not sprinting. They were both panting like exhausted dogs, just moments after the marathon had started.

Miscx, on the other hand, was calmly striding with ease. Her legs seemed to actually extend a little with each step. It was annoying to watch the ease with which she ‘jogged.’ Given Ned was the only one who could see what was really happening, he wondered if she looked so ‘chilled’ to Viking’s eyes.

“Pick up the pace lads, we’re fucked if they catch us!” Miscx ordered.

That’s when Ned’s attempt at running slowed. He was not out of ‘puff’ or too tired to go on. He stopped with purpose. Viking looked back and slid to an almost comical stop. He looked like a train who unexpectedly had to break. All his figurative carriages came crashing into each other. All he was missing was the ‘toot-toot’ sound.

“Ned, I’m not carrying you!” He said with urgency.

“No, I don’t think you need to, mate.”

Miscx, who had strode on a little way, strode back. “What part of, Vampires coming to beat the shit out of us don’t you follow Ned?”

“They’re not there. They never were,” he said, sounding almost authoritative, by Ned standards.

Viking looked back. Sure enough, there was no one chasing them now. “Where did they go?”

“They were never there,” Ned said. “Thing that really blew it was, I have only actually seen Neetu in the little dream dioramas. So, when you smacked her. I had to wonder, why was she there this time?”

“Who fucking knows?” Miscx yelped. “I don’t want to get tangled up with a fucking organised crime boss. Keep going.”

Ned looked back again to make sure he was right. Another ship passed overhead and lit them up under a blue glow. The street was empty.

“Ned, what’s happening?” Viking asked. He was used to ‘just going’ with things, having to stop and think did not suit his tastes.

“Come on, let’s head back. I have a feeling that you beat up a bin or something, not a Neetu,” Ned said, hands in pockets, and very casual now.

“No! We have to go this way,” Miscx demanded, looking terrified of what may be coming down the quite empty road.

“No, we don’t. There is no Neetu, and there are no vampire muscle-men either.”

“What do you mean, there is no Neetu?” Viking asked, following Ned’s lead and dropping things down an emotional octave or two.

“Well, I don’t think I got all the bits in place yet, but I think someone has been telling us little fibs,” Ned said calmly, glancing over at Miscx.

Ned and Viking started strolling back towards the space-open hole to take another look at it.

“No! This way!” Miscx yelled.

Ned ignored her. She began growling and roaring.

“Don’t look back, Viking,” He said calmly.

“I’ll just keep walking. The sound is enough,” he replied. Picking up his pace a little.

“You can knock that off, for a start! You look ridiculous!” Ned said, turning to see Miscx’s comical, angry face. Her pincers twitching and a little drool dropping from her chin. She made an expression like she was going to crap herself and then doubled down with louder noises. Ned was vaguely aware of Viking returning to a sprint to get away from her.

“That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?” He asked. Trying not to laugh at her.

She wiped her chin and stopped making the sounds. Ned knew, in his mind’s periphery, that she had not turned off her demon projection.

“What gave it away this time?” She asked. Trying to sound stern but only reaching ‘less comical.’

“My leg.”


Ned tapped his leg with his knuckles. “I remembered some things from the first time that you tried this. Last night was it? Anyway, I remember some standoff with Neetu, where she threw a sword at me and I pulled it out, and looked very cool while I was at it. But my leg doesn’t hurt now.”

“Neetu, must have implanted that memory!”

“Bollocks did she!” Ned said, ruffling his brow at her. “I’m about nine billion percent sure that you made her up.”

She was trying to ramp up her demon visage again. He was aware of it, despite not being affected by it. He ignored her attempts. Whatever was keeping him immune was a long way off being toppled by her feeble projection.

“So, I assume, the first time, you weren’t aware that I was immune to most of your tricks. That’s why you fucked up. If there was a super criminal on the loose, I’m pretty sure some random woman I met by a trash truck wouldn’t be this eager to get involved.”

She turned off her evil face projection. To Ned, it felt like the air grew a little lighter and that was about it.

“You know, I had one job!” She said, now with a more regular Miscx tone. “I had to catalogue your abilities and then abandon you on this shitty ship, where you would be powerless to interfere. Then she got involved, and the police were scouring the ship looking for you. And how the fuck you and your friends all speak Elder is a mystery to me too! Again, her influence, I expect.”

Ned had no idea what she was talking about. He decided to ignore her and barrel on.

“When you realised you couldn’t use your projection ability on me, you invented Neetu, a different type of projection. Something I’m not as immune to. I assume it went pretty well, given you tried it two nights running.”

“Yeah, the first time it was just you and your idiot friend, Viking. I didn’t expect your two other idiot pals this time. Thankfully, they were so stupid, they were easy to neutralise.”

“Yeah, your friend the chef. I didn’t realise right away. They had no idea he was a bug-man, did they?”

“No one has any idea our kind are even among them. That’s what we do. We slip into worlds where we are seen as attractive, talented, and skilled. We get to live life as movie stars and singers and all we do is let our natural projections loose. We fuck some of you. We eat one or two, from time to time. We let you worship us. We become every influencer and every politician. We live like kings!” Miscx said, with an odd pride.

“But you realised I could see you. And you didn’t know who else may be able to on Earth, and that’s why you needed to test me?” Ned asked.

“The first time, that was exactly it. But she contacted the ship’s police. They wouldn’t believe I was some demonic bug alien, but they would believe that you were abducted on a flyby. That happens. So the first time they took you back.”

Ned sighed, starting to get genuinely annoyed. “So the muscle-men we were running from, just the police?” he asked.

She nodded. “It worked so well the first night that this time, I used them to get you to where I needed you to go.”

“And the reason we had to go all the way to that other room to get Viking let out?”

“I bought off the officer in the processing room,” she said with pride.

“Wow, I didn’t know money worked like that here.”

“Oh, it doesn’t. I bought him off with sex,” she said, slightly more proud.

Ned looked at her. He had always been very aware of her true form and was quite grossed out at the thought.

“So the police wiped our memories and dropped us home last night? Where you picked us up again the next day, this time a little quieter?”

“That was the plan. We were never going to kill you, if that’s what you think. She would never stop hunting us if we did.”

Ned sighed. “Also, before I forget, who is she? Are you in some mad religious cult?” he asked.

“What? No! Your mother, Ned,” Miscx said, as if he should already have known.

“Why would my mom have anything to do with this?”

“Because she’s the one who owns this ship.” Miscx pointed at the sky and then out to the sides, to make sure he knew which ship she was talking about. As if there could be any confusion.

“What! What? How?” Ned blurted out. “I know she’s well off, but owning a space-city! Also, humans haven’t even left our fucking planet. Well, we went to the moon a few times, but come on! How?”

Miscx looked quite amused. “Because she was not born on your planet, Ned. She’s quite well known as a ruthless nut job when it comes to business and I don’t want to find out how she feels about us moving her son off world. We figured if we dumped you on her station, at least you wouldn’t be on Earth when we start the takeover of your media. Once you had been here for a bit, there was no way you would go back to dark-age-monkey-world.”

Ned sighed. “And when she finally figured out where I was, I would tell her that someone named Neetu was behind it all.”

“I believe the word is ‘bingo,’ monkey boy.”


This was about when Ned realised he may have been in a bit of trouble. He had uncovered a conspiracy of shape shifting aliens who were set on infiltrating multiple worlds. It was only at that moment that he realised, if Miscx’s plan had gone as expected, she would have figured out how his ability to resist her worked and overcome it. Or he wouldn’t know there was anything strange about bug people. But as it was, she couldn’t let him go and tell everyone about it. Which meant that killing him was likely back on the table. And, given his hazy memory of how badly he fared against a mental projection she created, he did not fancy his chances against her now intimidating exoskeleton, not to mention, facial pincers.

“You literally figured it all out, you know, it’s quite impressive, considering your mom thinks you’re too stupid to bother with,” she said, in a rather unkind way.

Ned ignored her. He knew he couldn’t outrun her. He knew he couldn’t out fight her. He was pretty sure he had only one course of action. Stall her and hope for the best!

She must have taken his silence for some kind of pensive heroic stance. “I expected a response to that, actually.”

He didn’t have the heart to tell her that he wasn’t quite listening. He was trying to think of something confusing or annoying to say to stop her from realising she needed to kill him.

“If she gave any shits about you, she could have had a security team watching you, or a tracker installed in your skull. But no, she doesn’t even care enough to keep an eye on you.”

There was a pause. Ned was not good at conversational sparring, apparently. Because all he could muster to break the silence was… “Oh, fuck off! You can’t rattle me by telling me my mommy doesn’t love me any more than your Neetu themed crap could rattle me by pretending to be my dad. Not everyone with shit parents is broken by it! Some of us get good friends, and move on with life! As for your invasion, I couldn’t give a shit! Do what you want, planets crap anyway!”

He gave her the finger.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m going to kill you and the big pretty one will tell everyone that Neetu did it. Your mom will spend the next decade looking for a small imp that never existed while we take over your world’s media, right under her nose.”

Ned wished he still smoked. At least that way he could pull out a last cigarette and hope it would be quick. Now he would have to stand there and die with nothing to do, like an idiot.


There was a sound like a science fiction laser from behind Ned. The sound zipped past him, in a long red and blue beam of crackling energy, which also looked like a science fiction laser. It hit Miscx in the chest and she stepped back screeching. He felt her demon face burst from her, as a reflex.

Ned, not quite sure what to do, stepped out of the way so whomever was shooting could get a clear second shot. They took the opportunity. A moment later, the zipping fizzing red beam streaked past again. It only took a second to melt through Miscx’s skull and she dropped to the floor. Another beam followed to make sure the job was done.

Ned was glad he didn’t smoke, because the smell from Miscx did actually smell like cheap cigarettes. He wished Monday was there to smell it. Associating that smell with the visuals of a crispy bug woman would have likely cured him of the habit.

“Ned! Ned, are you okay?” Viking shouted, a little rattled.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. You shot her good!” Ned called back into the darkness.

A light blinked on from above and lit the street behind him. There were around ten floating police drones and a single vampire officer standing with Viking.

“Well, shit! That’ll do it,” Ned muttered to himself, as he wandered towards them.

“What happened?” He yelled.

“When you said Miscx was the end of season baddie, I figured the muscle men were likely the good guys!” Viking yelled. “I was right!”

A police drone lit its red and blue lights above him and silently lowered itself down to accompany him.

“We were listening in, sir,” the vampire officer said as Ned got a little closer. “I had to stay far enough away that her demonic form didn’t mess with me. Sadly, I had to make a kill shot. Given her psychic abilities, I don’t think I had much choice.”

“Well, if it’s any help, I’m pretty sure you saved my life, so thanks,” Ned replied.

Viking threw his arms around him in an almost emotional way. “I thought your bread was well toasted, to be honest, buddy!”

“I have no idea what that means, but thanks!”

The officer waved his hands, and his drones lifted away smoothly.

“We have been tracking you since your friend here went missing from our custody. Truth is, we spent the last few hours trying to figure out what was happening. Her species is totally undocumented, but we’re a little concerned. After hearing what you said to her, I have already sent a unit to apprehend the one in the south zone community marquee. Your friends will be kept safe, sir.”

A large, very ‘police’ looking shuttle came to land in front of them. Viking and Ned climbed into the large area at the back while the police Vampire sat himself in a driver’s seat, or was it pilot seat?

“I assume it’s time to get a memory wipe and go home?” Ned asked as the shuttle took off.

“For the two in the marquee, yes. But I have orders from above to get you two to sign a waiver and you’re all going home on a personal transport, sir,” the officer said, with a helpful tone that Ned rarely expected when he was in the back of a police car.

“Let me guess, orders come down from the city-ship’s owner?” he asked, leaning forward a little.

“I am not at liberty to confirm that, sir.”

Ned leaned back in his seat and looked at Viking. “Miscx was definitely into you, you know?”

Viking smiled. “You know, I had a feeling she was. I mean, why wouldn’t she be? I’m quite the man-meal!”

“Yeah, that’s true. Wonder if she would have had potatoes or broccoli with you.”

“She would have had sex with me first, though, right? Just to be clear?” Viking asked, making sure to fish out the important part of this whole thing.

“Yeah, for sure, but that would have just made her hungry.”

The police car increased in speed as it headed for the central column, where presumably, they would wait for their ride home.

“So, pub tonight?” Viking asked.

“Oh, yeah, absolutely. Like, one hundred percent. I mean, I need to get trashed before I tell dad that I lost his car.”

“Oh, shit, yeah!” Viking said as he burst into a roaring laughter. “Then you can tell him his ex-wife is an alien! That should be a conversation killer!”

Ned laughed in return. “Or, I tell him I parked it in that plot of land mom owns and let her tell him!”

The police officer looked back at the two idiots howling in laughter about things he didn’t follow and decided he was definitely going to ask for a raise after this.


About the author