"The Reinvention of Bond"
Gary Baker, September 2013
Corporal Roi Anxo, lead mechanical engineer for the United States Army drill base, located deep in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, stared, wide-eyed, as the silhouette came closer and closer, step by step consuming the space between itself and the high-grade military-issue rifles that had just riddled it with holes.
...and still it walked like an agent, calm, collected, and confident.
“Give me that thing!” The general forcefully grabbed the PK-Assault Rifle from the soldier closest to his left side and, with precision and speed only gained by years of use in the field, struck in a new magazine, brought it to his shoulder, using the shieldman for cover, and began a sharp, repetitive rat-tat-tat over the man’s shoulder. The man-shaped shadow stopped, hesitating in mid stride, then seemed to shake it’s head and turn around.
“You don’t want me out there, that’s fine.” It -- he -- spoke, using the regal coolness of tone that only one without fears might use. He knew he was more than safe in this situation, though Roi couldn’t comprehend how. “But at least take my invitation and enter my abode, if you would be so kind.”
A tickle at the back of Roi’s mind brought him to his feet, swaying somewhat in the surreal, unearthly event, then began forward as though led by an illusory rope of invisible twine.
“Corporal!” The general shouted angrily, “what do you think you’re doing?”
The corporal turned back, still making his way into the oblivious darkness, “we were invited, General, even after assuming an offensive position.”
“And what if he’s luring us all into a trap?”
The corporal shrugged, knowing all too well who the man from within the wall was, but too unwilling to admit it. “And what if he just wants to learn from us?” It was just plain luck that none of the soldiers had come to their senses enough to ask how the man within knew English so well, which gave Roi the ability to play this out to his advantage.
This way he might never have to admit to his nightmares, that really weren’t.
Then, unexpectedly, General Lucius Alfonse stood heroically, and stepped up to close to Roi. He dropped a heavy hand on the lesser officer’s shoulder, holding the gunmetal black assault rifle in his left hand by the carrying bar along the top. “You’ve got guts, son, I’ll give you that.” Then he turned to the others and motioned quickly in military signals for them to reload and mount up alongside in a circle formation around Roi and himself.
Once the six soldiers had followed suit, snapping on night-vision goggles and laser-guides beneath the shafts of the artillery, General Alfonse looked ahead where the shadow man had gone. “How do you expect us to follow,” he shouted as though he’d transformed into Thor or Superman, “when we cannot even see?”
“Ah,” came the cool voice of the shadow, “you are, indeed correct, and I understand your plight.”
“Sir,” Roi looked left to see Private Wright lean toward the general, whispering while glancing around with his goggles glowing green, “there’s nothing here, not even the man who we just saw.”
The general scowled, pursing his lips in thought, then whispered back, “and you’re sure your goggles are working correctly?”
“Oh they’re working just fine,” came the shadow, “in fact I might even take them off if I were you.”
“What?” The general retorted, “and why would we do that?”
The shadow seemed to shrug, “suit yourself.”
And in one blaring instant the whole of space turned a searing white, brighter than the highest resolution photon, and harsher to the eyes than raw desert sunlight at midday. The soldiers howled, throwing their goggles to the sides while holding their heads as if to prevent them from bursting. In stark contrast, Roi watched through clenched fingers over his eyes as the one-time shadow now loomed as a somewhat dirtied smudge of eggshell against the backdrop of pearl.
“Now, I know this may be a smidgen too bright for your eyes, as had the dark been much too dark, but bear with me.” He paced around them, now, making tracks of a lioness encircling a wounded wildebeest, waiting for just the right moment to pounce and end them all where they stood. “I do have tests to run. after all.”
Anger flared from the general, then, coming as loud exhalations of fuming spittle and steam, “what ‘tests’?”
“Trust me, it’s all a part of the process,” the shadow explained, seeming to enjoy the torture. “You aren’t the first species to have to go through this, you know, nor will you be the last.” He paused in his pacing, then, what Roi could see of his head looking off to one side, ponderously, “in fact, three galaxies away there is another species going through this just as we are right now. Awful beasts, those ones, not bipedals at all, but tripedals… though I cannot understand what part of their evolutionary history brought about that change--” he stopped suddenly, then startled giggling like a child. “Nevermind, they, too, are bipedals, but they have learned to adapt another limb -- a prosthesis process, if you will -- which can measure, eject, and thus adapt protein levels in the atmosphere around them to better suit their needs.”
He nodded with one hand on his chin, a finger tapping his upper lip, “not like your species at all, I must admit. Much better use of surface area and genetic composition.” The shadow paused again, then dimmed the lights around them by painstakingly slow degrees, sighing while doing so. “Too bad they won’t live long, though. Already I see the system next door expanding into theirs with -- how might you say it? -- ‘guns’a blazing’?”
Roi felt the general’s hand on his shoulder again, judging the distances around them all, and making sure everyone still stood where they had before. Even as he did this, though, Roi began to regain the ability to see again, with the others appearing within the dense white, mist-like rays. Immediately his eyes sought the shadow, or what had been the shadow until the lights dimmed enough. What he found blew his mind, even though he’d been expecting as much since the first sight of him.
“Hello, again, Roi,” Bond smiled gleefully, moving to take the stunned corporal in a friendly, almost family-like hug. “How very good to see you, it is.”