by Brian K. Asbury
Somewhere in the Balkans:
A curious vessel of outlandish design nestled under an overhang of rock, shielded from the prying eyes of the spy satellites that held a constant vigil overhead. Within sat a creature whose face was out of a nightmare. Opposite him stood a similar creature — except this one’s robes were soiled and tattered, and where the first creature bore a huge red disc on his bone-white forehead, this one wore none. It was flanked by two brutish guards of a different species altogether.
“Sssooo…” said the first alien, steepling wickedly taloned fingers. “You have a plan, do you?”
“Yesss, high one,” said the second, his voice a respectful whisper, his head bowed. “My predecccesssor made a missstake. He believed that sssupplying Earthling agentsss with technology would make them effective asssasssinsss. However, hisss relianccce on the agent called the Bard proved to be hisss undoing.”
“And you have a different ssstrategy?”
“Yesss, high one. A great deal of valuable equipment was lossst or dessstroyed due to thisss error. I propossse inssstead to ussse agentsss who already have sssuitable power of their own. The Earth hasss many meta-humansss who can be effectively procccesssed to do our bidding. I have dissspatched ssspiesss to ssseek out ssspecccimensss with the abilitiesss we need. We need wassste no more of our technology.”
“I sssee,” said the first, digesting this information. “An approach with posssibilitiesss, I believe. But you underssstand the priccce of failure? You know what happened to your predecccesssor.”
“I know only too well, high one.”
“Good. Sssuccceed, and your disssc will be ressstored to you. Fail, and there are many othersss only too willing to take your placcce.”
“Yesss, high one.”
“Then asssemble your agentsss. Your firssst target will be the onesss who put an end to your predecccesssor’sss activitiesss. Their interferenccce mussst not go unpunissshed — essspecccially asss one of them isss himssself one of the hated Sssonsss of the Wing. You mussst eliminate them in a way which will be an object lessson to anyone elssse who daresss to interfere.”
The lesser Dominator bowed. “I will not fail you, high one,” he said softly.