Prompt Short Story: Undercover

CW: police violence, body borrowing

Xe couldn’t put it off anymore…

Xe drew on xyr magically armoured hunting gear, attached and plucked xyr bowstring; checked the quiver for the silver-tipped arrows; and hung xyr silver-inlaid rapier.

Xe stopped to look in the mirror. Not to admire xir form—it wasn’t actually xyr form to admire after all—but to see if the Other was still alive inside. Sometimes they died, forcing the Knight to leave behind an empty body and, if they had family, an apology of money that could never be enough.

This one was still there. Behind xyr own eyes, they saw hers, glaring out at them.

“I’m sorry,” xe breathed in the low alto tones of the woman inside. “Please just stay calm, rest, and I swear I’ll be gone from you the moment I’m able.”

Closing xyr eyes, they took a long moment to refocus, pushing aside both xyr own, and their host’s, memories.

It was time. And the faster this was done, the faster she could be free, and xe could return home.

Pushing out of the front door, xe was met with a fresh wind, which xe breathed deeply of, allowing it to blow away the moments just passed. Xe would be home soon. But first, xe had a job to do, and xyr commands had come in loud and clear.

Capture alive if possible. But do not expend xyr own lives, the lives of xyr temporary hosts, or those of any bystanders in the process. Make it as quick and efficient as possible.

That meant maximum force could be applied at the first twitch of anything off, and they knew xyr fellow Walkers would waste no time in brutally subduing the suspect.

No other casualties maybe, but it wouldn’t be the first time an innocent was taken down under the incorrect information.

That’s what xe was here for, though. Xe might wear the body of a young teacher. Xe might pack the same gear as the rest of the team. But xyr job was to observe, and to allow xyr Kin to observe, what happened. Xe knew others were also committed to this task. Chosen from the ranks as the least violent, the ones who brought in subjects without damage, and without any collateral damage. Whose hosts were returned to xyr loved ones none the wiser, and where civilians were left to continue with their lives, whatever they might have seen making barely a passing blip in xyr day.

It was risky though. If any of the team realised, xe did not expect to survive.

But enough of that. Time to move before xyr absence became suspicious.

Xe arrived at the corner given and checked xyr watch. 3 minutes.

Xe spotted the others—their auras were always visible when in a host—exchanged a small nod with each, and leaned up against the wall of the building their subject was about to exit.

Right on time, out stepped a tall lady, hair going grey from its original raven black, cut into a bob at her jawline. Her face had begun to form wrinkles—laughter lines and crow’s feet—giving her a stately air, ruined by the fact that she was covered in both dried and fresh green sputum, the being inside her unable to expel its poisonous venom any other way.

The thing wore an ancient-looking sweater, baggy over torn sweatpants, which dipped over a set of hooves that no shoe could possibly carry.

A line of luminous green sputum hung from its bottom lip as it regarded the three people walking up to it.

Xe stayed behind, ostensibly as rearguard but really for the good shot they would get through xyr corneal implants.

The three who approached did so carefully, ever aware of the exhortations to cause no damage. But the tension in their jaws, in the whole way they held themselves: hands on weapons, small smirks beginning as the creature possessing this poor woman understood who they were.

And a creature like this, faced with a potential force that much better, with that clear threat of incominig violence, had only one thing left to do.

It ran.

Shoving its way past the three would-be tormentors, leaving them with shocked faces, the creature raced down the street, directly past the alleyway.

Xestepped in and quickly subdued the creature, but they were purposefully slow finding their restraints. Xe knew what the others would do.

And here the three were, laughing and taking the creature off of xyr. Pushing it around and planting kicks in its stomach and punches in its face.

After a few minutes, knowing the footage was more than enough, xe interrupted the “fun” and got the lady cuffed. Much like their current hosts, this lady would have her memory wiped, and spend the rest of her life wondering what happened during whatever time period the creature had been inhabiting her.

Xe felt dirty. Wanting to hand this off, get xyr removal completed, and go back to their tank. They needed the caress of friends and family. The gentle pulse of the hivemind. And, hopefully, a long time before the next extraction assignment came in.

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They couldn't put it off anymore. They drew on their magically armoured hunting gear; attached and plucked the bowstring; checked the quiver for the silver arrows; and hung their silver rapier. Closing their eyes, they took a deep breath, pushing aside the memories of who they both used to be. It was time.


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