It arrived. There was a crump like artillery landing at the edge of the lighted perimeter and a gust of painfully hot air knocked many of the women off their feet. Tara, to her credit, steadied herself against the abrupt and breath-taking overpressure and maintained her footing. The blast was still disorienting, and as it faded she gasped and choked at the curtain of dust descending from above.
"Stations!" Tara rasped. "Get to those damn guns."
Almost without thinking Tara reached down and grabbed the tracking controller sprawled at her feet by the woman's thin upper-arm. As she hoisted the woman up Tara noticed the Legacy Team was already recording her untoward act of kindness. She let the woman drop face down again with a stifled cry.
"Welcoming party," Tara bellowed with renewed overconfidence, "on me."
Her aides faded to their posts and an ordered rank of women in heavy black combat armor approached in impressive lock-step. Tara turned her back on them and marched out into the lighted area, comforted by the muted crunch of their boots on the hard desert ground. Picking her way past burning scrub brush and churned earth she approached the vertical shaft of alien metal now half buried in the ground. Her shadow was a swaying river of black extending into the darkness beyond the reach of the lights. She almost recoiled when a light appeared near her face on her left side, but she luckily restrained herself as she realized it was one of the Legacy Team members swooping in for a close-up.
Ten paces away from the alien craft there was a hideous wail of misshapen metal being twisted. The sound continued for several seconds, painfully loud and unpleasant. Tara stopped and her women formed up at attention directly behind her. A few members of the Legacy team positioned themselves even closer to the alien craft to get a good angle on whatever emerged. The rest of the red uniformed women moved around Tara and her team, filming and positioning small hovering omni-directional microphones.
Something began hissing from inside the cylindrical craft, growing louder and louder. After several seconds bubbles began to form on the surface of the craft and then, with a gout of acrid smoke, a hole the size of a softball appeared. The hissing subsided and a shimmering silver plug began to work its way through the hole. It pushed out one inch, two, three, four, and then it began to slide down towards the ground followed by a column of fluid silver.
"It's like the Terminator." Tara muttered softly, her mind recalling unbidden the James Horner theme music of the movie.
Gallons of the substance continued to flow out of the craft, forming a thick and even pool on the dusty ground. After more than a minute the last of the substance emerged and joined the puddle. With the suddenness of a rat trap closing on a drunk's fingers a humanoid shape erupted up from the pool in an impossibly rapid series of columns. These columns sorted their height and width for a split-second and then a clearer image of a man emerged. There was an electric crackle and the shimmering silver was replaced with naked flesh.
Tara was staring at a completely naked Bob Barker. Even more interestingly, this version of Bob Barker had a colossal penis.
A few of the less-disciplined women manning the gun emplacements tittered with laughter. Tara suppressed the urge to scream at them - to scream at the ridiculousness of entering the eternal archive killing a naked giant-cocked Bob Barker - and instead strode forward.
"Hello there human female," the assassin said in a pitch-perfect and cheery impression of Bob Barker. "Thank you for welcoming me to your beautiful planet."
"We welcome you to earth and present you with a gift to aid you in your mission." Tara reached into the pocket of her top coat and took out the explosive specially made to deal with the mimetic hunter.
Bob Barker accepted the gift with a charming smile.
"Thank you for this gift human female, I must now insist-"
Tara had rolled to the side, her Legacy Team camera woman backpedaling with her. The bomb popped softly, ejecting a fine powder of red dust over Bob Barker's skin. A moment later there was a bright light accompanied by a loud whoosh. White hot fire spread instantaneously across Bob Barker, covering nearly all of the mimetic hunter's body. It recoiled, dropping the smoking husk of the device on the ground, its body bubbling and flowing maddeningly beneath the flame.
Through unknown means the mimetic hunter extinguished the fires, its smoking Bob Barker visage revealed to be pitted and pocked with silver burns. A crackle of blue electricity rolled across its surface, reforming some of the damage, but simply distorting the rest into uneven blotches of color.
"This was not a very helpful gift human female." The voice was Bob Barker's with a strange digital disruption running beneath it.
The blast had apparently done damage to the mimetic hunter.
You say collaboration like it's a bad word.
The ocean is full of the stuff of nightmares and, no thanks to all that water, you can't even kill it with fire.
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