“Um… yeah,” I thought, unsure how to respond to that one. Then a horrifying thought occurred to me. “You’re not going to make me grow wings are you?”
I imagined myself with massive bird wings. Actually, maybe the whole angel look wouldn’t be so bad. Might make going to work on Monday as if nothing had happened a little challenging, though.
“Wings are unnecessary, Amity. I am simply giving you the ability to bend the force of gravity.”
“Bend. Gravity?” I thought in reply.
Then I felt the effects of his changes. I could suddenly sense gravity’s pull. It was something like being in a river and feeling the pull of the water current on my body. But less wet. And more vertical.
“I feel it. But how do I use it?”
“Think of it as turning the vectors of force. Use them to push you up and forward rather than pulling you down to the earth’s surface.”
I did as he suggested, feeling the downward acceleration and imagining it rotating counterclockwise until I felt it push from under me at a forty-five-degree angle. The moment I felt the change, I lurched into the air… right through the bedroom window with a shower of shattered glass.
Shit! I checked for lacerations on my skin, but there weren’t any. Apparently that skin-toughening thing that Xilian had done to me was pretty damn effective.
“There goes my security deposit!” I thought wryly.
“I do not understand. Why would you deposit your security? Should you not maintain self-preservation with your person at all times?”
“Nevermind. Unlike rewriting DNA sequences on the fly and, well, manipulating fundamental forces of physics, security deposits are probably over your head.”
He didn’t respond to that one. Zing! Score one for Amity!
Stomach dropping with mind-spinning speed, I watching the ground whizzing under me, deciding that I had better pay attention to where I was going…
…And with a splash and a mouthful of leaves, I was quickly reminded why. A chorus of crackles from snapping branches provided an appropriate soundtrack to my airborne blooper reel. All I could think of was some kid taking a video from down below with his phone and making me an unknowing TikTok comedy star. As embarrassing as the thought was, I knew that I would totally watch a video of some lady flying through a tree, spitting out mouthfuls of leaves as she continued her ascent.
Then I had another thought, this one less comic, more concerning.
“How do I level off here? I don’t want to be hit by a plane or become hypoxic at 20,000 feet or something.”
“I am not sure. Perhaps it is ‘over my head’?”
Fuck. Of course, this guy would choose now to grow a sense of sarcasm. I guess my little knock on his intelligence had gotten under his skin a bit.
“I was just kidding about the ‘over your head’ thing!” I gave a forced, timid laugh to illustrate my point. Well, a mental laugh anyway. With all this thought-talking, the line between actual talking and thought-talking was beginning to blur. With Xilian conversations, I supposed it didn’t make much difference whether I spoke or simply verbalized my thoughts.
“Just tell me, Xil! Please!”
“I require an apology for your hurtful comment.”
Seriously? Wow! These symbiotic alien types were really sensitive when it came to casting intelligence aspersions, weren’t they? Most human men couldn’t care less if you insulted the size of their brains. Insult the size of certain other anatomical attributes, though, and watch the fuck out!
“I’m sorry, Xil! For realz. Now… instructions. Please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?”
“I accept your apology, Amity. Now, simply rotate the vectors again. Make them more horizontal and less vertical.”
I did exactly that, feeling the adrenaline fizzing through my veins, picking up speed on my way to the military contractor place and ceasing to gain any more altitude. Once I was properly adjusted, I mentally kicked myself. I probably should have figured that one out on my own. It would have saved me an apology to my body-snatching friend. Oh, well. Live and learn. Besides, the apology wasn’t the end of the world. I probably owed it to him anyway. This flying thing was pretty awesome…
As the wind whipped my hair like a flag in a hurricane and pounded against my freezing and probably pink cheeks (yay! Natural blush!), I exhilarated in the freedom of the sky. As satisfying as it had been to feel those Zaran bug shells crunching under my fists, flying was on a whole different plane of enjoyment.
After several breathtakingly wonderous minutes—and probably more than a few FAA violations—Xilian spoke up.
“We have almost reached our destination, Amity.”
Oh, yeah. I had to actually do stuff. I couldn’t just fly for fun, could I? My mind turned to Lino, and I frowned. I did have work to do. But that meant I needed to, um, land! That thought earned a hard swallow. Given my less-than-graceful takeoff, landing could be problematic. And even scarier.
“Okay, so how do I land without causing serious property and—more importantly—Amity damage here?”
“Simply rotate the vectors.”
Simply? Rotate the vectors, eh? Apparently, that was Xil’s answer to everything flying-related. So freaking helpful… punk.
Taking a deep breath, I imagined the currents I was riding shifting to press down on me from above.
Before I knew what was happening, I plunged 500 feet downward, my head and shoulder crashing into the earth. My body drilled into an open field like a meteorite. After carving a ditch into the mud for a good fifty yards, I finally came to a stop just a few feet from a large high tech building at the agrarian edge of a suburban office park. Extricating myself from the dirt, I rose and attempted, hopelessly, to brush the dirt from my wind-tattered clothing remnants.
“That landing was not particularly graceful, Amity.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed. But thanks for the wonderful ‘rotate the vectors’ advice, man!”
“You are welcome.”
Okay, so he didn’t really have the hang of sarcasm yet, after all. Unless that was a sarcastic ‘you’re welcome’. Shaking my head, I attempted to get back to business.
“Okay, so we need some sort of scanning gizmo to track down the Zaran ship from this place, right?”
“That is correct.”
“So how do I go about getting this thing? It’s after hours, and the building looks mostly dark. If they’re doing contract work for the military, it’s got to have some sort of security system. And probably a security guard too. Can you make me, like, stealth or something? Maybe invisible?”
“I cannot change your biology in a way that would allow you to avoid human sight or motion detection.”
“Okaaaay. Superstrength is a go, flying another go, but o-nay on the invisible-woman deal. Got it. Then what’s the plan, Stan?”
“My name is Xilian.”
“Right now, your name is mud, unless you have an idea of how I can get in there!”
Damn. I’d pissed him off again.
“Xilian? I’m sorry.”
“I accept your apology, Amity.”
“Good.” At least this guy was easily appeased. I had a feeling I would push his buttons at least another time or two before this night was over. “Now plan. Stat.”
“Amity, I am not an expert at navigating the human world. That is why I require your aid with the Zaran. If you tell me what you will require, I will do my best to alter your biology to provide it.”
Okay, so… no plan from Xilmeister. I was going to have to come up with something on my own. I was pretty strong—maybe I could just force my way in there and get away with this scanner thing? Of course, I might be shot by their security staff in the process. I wasn’t sure whether my invulnerability could stop bullets. Besides, it might end up with me on some sort of FBI terrorist watch list or something. There had to be a better way…
I snuck around the building until I arrived at the squared pillar beside the glassed-in entryway. I peeked my head around the pillar for a quick look inside the dimly lit building. Inside the lobby was a uniformed man seated at the front desk. He seemed to be watching a panel of camera feeds from the building—and looking at a superheroine comic with a scantily-clad heroine on the cover.
Ducking back behind the cover of the pillar, I thought for a moment… until a smile slowly grew on my lips. Comics, eh? Thinking of that cosplay I had once done with Lino at that convention a few years back—and his drooling reaction—I decided I could work with that.
“Xil, can you change my appearance?”
“Of course, Amity.”
“Okay. Can you access my memories?”
“If you so allow me…”
“I do. Now, see the comic that the security guard inside was reading? I need you to change me to look like that.”
I felt my bones shifting and body changing. It wasn’t painful, but the sensation was really odd. I rose in height as my legs lengthened. My hips, breasts, and butt expanded a bit, and my abs became even more defined than they previously had been. I ran my fingers along their steely cobbles. Did I really look like that drawing now? I glanced down at my breasts, at least twice the size they used to be. My eyes shot back up, and I could feel them widen as a blush came on. Okay, so I must be pretty freaking hot! Abs like that and breasts like, um, that were not a common combination. Except maybe on Instagram. But hello? Silicone much? Anyway, comic heroines were seldom anything but supermodel attractive, and this one— me now, I suppose—was no exception.
“The change has been completed. Your appearance now matches that of the drawing, as you requested.”
“Nice! Now, can you change my clothes?”
“I cannot change the organic/synthetic blends of fabric that you have draped on your body. However, I can cause your skin cells to generate a secretion that will dry quickly into clothing-like substance.”
Ew. Secretion didn’t sound very appealing, but it sounded like that was my only option if I wanted a change of clothes. And that was kind of essential to my plan. So… I had to do what I had to do.
“Okay, do the secretion thing then. Make it look like the costume on that cover if you please, kind sir.”
I stripped out of my ruined clothes and watched in awe as fluid oozed out of my skin to cover my now-flawless, tanned flesh.
“Okay, Xil. Here goes…”
I breathed in and out twice, then walked confidently around the corner to the entrance. I banged on the glass with my palm. I kept it light, not wanting to overdo it with my new strength and shatter the glass. I was already out one security deposit… and not on any FBI terrorist watch lists. I wanted to keep it that way.
The security guard looked up from his comic, and his jaw dropped. I supposed it would be pretty surreal to see a real-life heroine from the comic you were just reading standing at the door to the building you were guarding in the middle of the night. I gave him a huge smile, giving him a coquettish shrug.
I heard a buzz, then the door opened, and I walked in. I approached him, swinging my hips as best I knew how. The stiletto-heeled boots helped with the sexy walk— as long as I didn’t lose my balance and fall over in the damn things. How is it that action-oriented superheroines always seemed to want to wear heels? ‘Cause horndog guy artists. That’s why. Fuckers. Luckily, Xilian seemed to have improved my coordination along with everything else, and I managed to stay upright.
Despite the fact that his eyes were on me for the entire journey to the front desk, I ensured that he wasn’t looking at anything else for this next part. I leaned forward on the desk, giving him a good look at my cleavage in the low cut top of the costume. It worked. His eyes were exactly where I wanted them.
“A fellow fan, eh?” I asked, flicking my eyes toward his comic.
“W-What? Oh, yeah… right…” he said, confused. I don’t think that there was a whole lot of blood flow to his brain right now. Ha!
“I just finished up at the cosplay convention downtown, and—this is so embarrassing—I forgot my regular clothes in the lab! See, I changed at the end of my workday, and, well… just kinda forgot to bring them with me!”
I leaned forward even further, until my significantly larger breasts took up nearly his entire field of vision, then reached out to tap my finger against his ID badge.
“So, Carl. I don’t remember seeing you around here before. Do you just work nights?” I asked, laying it on thick.
Stuttering in response, clearly distracted, he replied… as I popped his badge off his shirt.
“I-I do… Work nights, I mean.”
His badge in my fingers, I snaked my hand back, dropping it below the counter, out of his field of vision. I flipped the plastic card so that the non-photo side faced the guard.
“So is it alright if I go in?”
“Sure…” he breathed. Then he seemed to suddenly remember something. “Do you have your entry badge?”
“Of course!” I said, holding up the badge I had just taken from him, his own photo on it but turned away from his line of sight. “Right here!”
He nodded, glancing at the badge briefly before returning his eyes to ogle my rather amazing body once more. I shot him a dazzling smile.
“Thanks! You’re a lifesaver, Carl!”
I walked over to the door, with a wiggle of my hotpanted tush that would keep him thoroughly preoccupied, and used his badge to unlock it with a green-lighted beep, giving him a final sultry wink as I walked through.
On the other side, I let the door closed, then leaned back against it, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Very clever, Amity. Using human mating rituals to gain access to the facility was an effective plan.”
“Mating rituals?” I said, smiling inwardly. “That was not a human mating ritual.”
My face fell as I realized something.
“Were you in me when Lino and I…” I trailed off.
“I have not been inside you during sexual intercourse, if that is what you are asking. You and your mate did not consummate your mutual attraction before the Zaran soldiers ended your activities.”
That’s right. Thank God!
“Xil, you know you’re going to have to exit the ride before Lino and I… you know,” I told him sternly.
“I do not understand. Sexual intercourse is a normal biological act.”
“Um, sure. But you don’t get to be on board the train when it heads to that station. Capiche?”
“I see.” Xil sounded disappointed.
“Jesus, Xil! I hadn’t realized you were such a voyeur!” I laughed.
“I was simply looking forward to experiencing that particular aspect of human activity.”
“Well, when this is over, I’ll show you the internet. You’ll have your fill in about five minutes.”
“Now, this Carl guy is probably going to be watching me in the security cameras as I walk through the building, so just bear with me. It’s okay. I know how to deal with that. All I need you to do is point out the gizmo that we need, and I’ll take care of the rest…”
I walked through the lab, looking around so that Xilian could survey the place. Finally, he spoke.
“There! That metallic cube prototype device on the table, approximately the size of one of your breasts.”
“Okay, when you say that, do you mean the size of the old ones or the new ones?”
“The new ones.”
“Okay, so almost the size of my head then. Got it.” I walked over to the table and nodded toward something that looked to be approximately the correct size. “This?”
I walked right past the device that he indicated and made my way to the office in the corner of the lab area. Using the security guard’s badge, I accessed the office. Quickly scanning the contents of the room, I spotted a pair of lab coats. Perfect! Grabbing one of them, I walked back out of the office, eyed the security camera mounted high on the wall, tracking my movement, and scowled with exaggerated disgust into its lense. Just as I thought. The lech was watching me from his monitors. That was good. In fact, I’d been counting on that. It gave me the perfect excuse to cover the camera without arousing his suspicions.
I tossed the labcoat up, my new coordination allowing me to manage a precise enough throw that it landed over the camera, hanging from its collar by the mounting bracket. The guard’s view now blocked, I doubled back to the piece of equipment and picked it up.
“This is it, right?” I asked Xil.
“It is,” he confirmed.
“Okay, then let’s get out of here!”
I ran back into the small office, this time noticing my reflection in the floor-to-ceiling glass window of the office. It stopped me in my tracks.
Was that me?
“Holy fuck, Xil! Nice work on the completely smokin’ bod!”
I didn’t look exactly like the girl on that comic book cover; I was pretty sure that I looked even better! No wonder that guard had been completely spellbound. I was easily the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Including those in magazines. And in movies. Even in lingerie store posters. Holy shit!
My legs were impossibly long and beautifully toned. My ass and hips were rounded, supple, and completely heartstopping. My abs? Carved in freaking steel! Crossfitters had nothing on me there—they looked soft in comparison! My breasts were large, full, and succulent. My face? I had the complexion and bone structure of a goddess.
I looked something like a ballet dancer with the breasts of a horror movie queen and the face of a fashion model. It was a pretty delicious combo, if I do say so myself. Hell, I was turned on a little bit, and I’m not really even into girls. Except for that one time just after college… But that’s beside the point.
“Thank you, Amity. I try.”
Dude didn’t just try. He pretty much succeeded. Like Michael-Phelps-in-the-Olympics succeeded.
“Seriously, man. You could give Bernini a run for his money.”
He didn’t respond this time, but I could sense his pleasure at my sincere compliments. I just hoped that I got to keep this body at the end of it all. Lino was going to be so fucking hot for me if I could. My woman parts tingled at the thought…
Lino! The thought of my imprisoned fiancé brought me back from my narcissistic musings to reality in a hurry.
Shaking the image of my own reflection from my mind, I picked up another lab coat and put it on, buttoning it up quickly to cover my risqué outfit. I needed to sell the fact that I was wearing clothes to avoid arousing the security guard’s suspicions, but I didn’t actually have anything but the lab coat. Still, it covered me almost completely, so he shouldn’t be able to tell the difference in what I was wearing underneath. I placed the device inside a nearby cardboard box and rushed out.
Reaching the lobby, my heart thudding in my chest worrying about my simple but audacious plan, I shot the guard a stern look to finish selling my camera-covering ruse. No FBI terrorist watch lists for me just because I tipped off the guard on the way out! I wanted to keep this face—and this body—when this was all over.
“Thanks for letting me in after-hours, Carl. That’s the only reason I’m not going to report you for using your little cameras to sneak a peek of me!”
Carl’s face fell, and I saw a flush rise from his neck to his cheeks. Too preoccupied with his shame, he never even asked me about the box of experimental equipment I happened to be carrying out of the place. With a pleased smirk, I walked right out of the place, pleased with the complete success of my impromptu planning.
As I left the building and rounded the corner, I leaned back against it for a moment to calm my racing heart. It had worked! I’d gotten away with it! It’s a good thing that the device we needed was at a corporation with extremely lax security rather than at a military base or something. I’m sure it would have been far more challenging than bamboozling Carl back there.
“Okay, Xil. Aren’t you going to compliment me on a well-executed plan?”
“Your plan was successful.”
“That’s it? I break into a top-secret…” Okay, okay, so I was exaggerating a little! “…facility, steal what we need in ten minutes flat, and walk right back out again without triggering a single alarm or having anything go awry whatsoever, and all you can say is ‘your plan was successful’?”
“It is the truth.”
“Aaaarg! Come on, man!? Not even a ‘nice job’, an ‘atta-girl’?”
“Atta? Girl? I am unfamiliar with this type of female. Please explain.”
“Oh my Lord! Just forget it okay,” I huffed mentally. So much for receiving any credit whatsoever from my alien passenger. “So what now?”
“Turn on the device.”
“Brilliant!” I laced the word with so much sarcasm that it practically scalded my tongue. Even though I was technically just thinking rather than speaking, I guess. Whatever.
Yep. Xil was still totally not hip to the whole sarcasm thing.
“You know, when I say—er, think—words like that, with that tone, I mean the opposite of what I say. It’s called sarcasm.”
“Ah, yes. I am familiar with that term. It is the use of irony to convey contempt. Does that mean that you do not believe me to be brilliant? That instead you believe me to be imbecilic?”
Imbecilic? Is that even a fucking word?
“Well, I don’t think you’re an imbecile. You’re a pretty smart guy, what with the physics bending, biology enhancement, and of course, the whole traveling-the-vast-reaches-of-time-and-space-to-land-on-this-little-ole-pinprick-in-the-stars-called-Earth thing and all. I just thought that that one little comment was a little, well, dumb.
“I see, Amity.”
“So this is the part where I apologize, right?” I was starting to get this guy now.
“Okay. Sorry. Better?”
“Okay, then. Let’s turn this baby on!”
I flipped the switch and watched the small LED display light up.
“So there are a few different options here. What type of energy signature are we looking for?”
“What? Delta radiation? There’s no such thing. There’s alpha, beta, gamma, and X radiation. Which one?”
“Check the display.”
I did. And he was right. There was an option for delta radiation. I pressed it, and after a moment, a bearing appeared.
“I know we don’t have time now, but when this whole thing is over, I’m going to make you explain the whole delta radiation thing to me.” I guess that explained why we needed some pretty specialized equipment to find this Zaran ship.
“That would be fine. For now, however, we must fly in the direction indicated by the equipment.”
I closed my eyes, felt the forces against my body, and turned the direction of their vectors on my body once more, driving my luscious form into the sky.
God, it was so amazing. I was a bit less tense about the whole thing the second time. Not to mention that I wasn’t crashing into trees this time around. Not having to spit out leaves and pull branches out of my hair during the ascent helped with the enjoyment factor quite a bit, actually.
I soared through the cool night air, watching the lights of the houses slip beneath me in the dark below, seeing the skyline of the city in the distance. I really hoped that I got to keep this flying ability when Xil left town. It was seriously awesome.
Closing my eyes for a moment, I simply felt. The sinking thrill of my fluttering stomach, the rapid beating of my heart, the spray of my hair over my back, the cold wind against my face, making my eyes squint and water as I opened them once more. Exhilarating wasn’t a strong enough word for it. It was totally fucking rad.
The display on the device turned red, and I spoke once more to Xil.
“Xil? Wake up, buddy!”
“I know. I can see what you see, Amity.”
Oh yeah. That. Now I was the dumb one.
“So what do we do?”
“The Zaran would have landed the ship in a hidden, inconspicuous location, like that patch of woods there.” I could actually hear the eagerness in his voice this time. He must really want to take care of these Zarans pretty badly! I was less excited. My first fight with them had been pretty painful, and there were bound to be more than two this time. Woohoo. But with Lino’s life at stake, I knew I needed to.
I flew near the trees, then landed, stumbled, and fell on my face. Not quite as badly as last time. But still. It was hardly fitting my whole superheroine vibe to faceplant every landing. I was really going to need to get better at that fast, or I really would be a daily feature on TikTok at some point. I wondered idly if the Zarans had security cameras and internet access. I hoped not.
I jumped to my feet—at least getting up was easier with the superstrength and walked toward the woods as quietly as I could.
Then I saw it. It was rounded, not quite a flying saucer, though. More like a flying egg. It was made of some sort of pearlescent material, shimmering like a gigantic pearl.
“Okay, Xil. Is Lino in there?”
“It is likely.”
“I’ll take that as a ‘he better be’. Any weapons in there?”
Most assuredly? My symbiote friend sounded like that butler from the Batman movies… what was his name again? Oh yeah! Alfred!
“Okay,” I said, beginning to circle the massive egg, eyes searching its flawless surface. “Where’s the door?”
“I will need to convert one of your hands to match Zaran biology. Only a touch from biological material matching a Zaran DNA scan will open their ship.
“Wait! What?! You’re going to give me one of those claw hands? Ew! No way!”
“Amity, it is the only way to get in. To save Lino.”
Well, I had to hand it to Xil this time. He said the magic word. Lino. Fuck.
“Okay, okay. Claw it is. Knock yourself out.”
I watched in horror as my beautifully slender new superheroine fingers morphed into the pincer of a giant crab. Not. Cool. But what else is a fiancé-rescuing superwoman to do?
“So I just touch this thing against the surface of the ship like so…” I did it, and a slightly-larger-than-me-sized hole opened up—no, more like evaporated—from the ship’s hull.
Three energy blasts hit me immediately, and, in a sensory haze of crackling pain, I flew backward into a massive tree trunk, cracking it as the base with my spine. Semiconscious, I felt the tree give way behind me, splintering and twisting as it crashed to the ground.
Fuck! That hurt!