Imposter – Short Story

*Hylix is a mercenary, xe typically takes short jobs; get in, get out. But an aide from a nearby monarch ruled planetary system practically begs for xyr help and Hylix can’t refuse. They all just have to hope the heir reappears before Hylix is discovered.*

Before we get into the story, I just wanted to let you all know something. I’m trying a fun new things this year (I’ll have been running nopoodles.wordpress.com for 7 years this May, lets mix it up). Specifically, I’m gonna be running monthly themes (I have a few planned out but recommendations welcome).

January = Monarchy Theme

On to the story

“This is an imposter not the Royal Heir Apparent!”

Hylix pressed uncomfortable lips together. The physicality of their disguise was perfect, there was no way to see through it. Hylix’s body was an exact replica of the heir apparent. Their personality on the other hand…

“Are you joking?” the queen asked. “You think I wouldn’t recognise my own child?”

“This imposter is a Melliash, able to change their body into whatever shape they want.”

That wasn’t quite accurate. it wasn’t like Hylix could disguise themself as a table or something but they kept their mouth pressed shut, shooting only the briefest glance at the royal aide who had put them up to this, who had paid half the money up front and made assurances that nobody would figure it out, that it would only be a few days before the true heir apparent was found and returned.

Hylix had spent weeks uncomfortably contained in a body that wasn’t theirs, stomach rebelling against what little food they could bear to eat as their insides desperately demanded to return to their proper state, desperately cried out for food Hylix’s Melliash body needed to survive.

“Jool?” The king asked. “You know them best, have you noticed anything odd?”

“He’s in on it!” Hylix’s accuser spat. “He is the one who hired them!”

“Do you have any proof of this outrageous accusation?” Jool, the aide Hylix had been working with, demanded.

Silver flashed. Hylix jerked back, but not fast enough to avoid the fork that their accuser wrenched in a line across their face. It tore the fragile Oyeal skin they wore open. The assorted people in the hhrone room gasped. Someone fainted with  a thud.

“See!” the accuser cried, holding the fork aloft in triumph.

Green, Melliash blood dripped to the floor, nothing like the red of Oyael’s.

Hylix pressed a four-fingered hand to the face they wore. The thick viscosity of their blood clung to their hand, the texture strange against Oyael skin.

Jool’s head dipped, hanging almost listlessly. “I never stopped the guard from searching,” he whispered. “We never stopped looking, I just thought the peace treaty was too important to risk.”

The queen and king stared between the three players in the tale unfolding in front of the: Jool, the palace aide, the foreign dignitary whose accusation had proven true, and Hylix who had pretended to be their child.

“How did this happen?” The queen asked, voice hushed. “Who are you? And where is our child?”

“Clear the room,” The king demanded. Hylix waited for everyone else to leave.

“My name is Hylix,” Hylix said after the heavy throne room doors closed. “And I’m a mercenary for hire.” And an assassin, but owning up to that definitely wasn’t the best plan right here and now. “Jool approached me a few weeks ago…”

He had come to Hylix’s door, coated head to oddly numbered toes in a space suit that included an opaque visor so Hylix couldn’t see his face at all.

“You’re telling me you want me to disguise myself as the  royal heir apparent for an entire galactic system?”

“No.”

The brief sigh of relief Hylix allowed xemself was breathed too soon as the suited up biped in front of xem continued on.

“I want you to do that body transformation thing you do and –”

“How is that not disguising myself?”

“Disguise implies something people can see through or figure out.”

Hylix leaned against a wall and folded xyr arms. “Somehow I think my personality and lived experience have created quite the different base to work from than a born and raised royal. Disguise isn’t all in the aesthetic, you know.”

“Look,” the biped snapped. “We know exactly why the heir apparent has gone missing, we have leads on how to get xem back, and we need someone to fill in the position as the diplomatic party arrives to begin setup for the wedding. It’ll be a few days at a maximum and we pay really well.”

Hylix narrowed xyr eyes. “How well?”

The King and Queen stared at Hylix as they paused the storytelling.

Hylix wanted to let go of the body they wore, to stop flaunting the missing child at the parents who were hurting. But Hylix had worn this form too long, they knew it would take too much to change back, it would be a slow and painful process, one best done in private to begin with let alone under such stressful circumstances. They hardly wanted to play the game of body horror in front of angry and stressed out parental royals who very much could throw them in jail for the rest of their life at best.

“How does it work?” The king asked.

“What?”

“The body shifting?”

Hylix shrugged. “I’m no scientist but it’s like… You know chameleons can change colour?”

“Yes?”

“It’s just an advanced form of that. We developed the body morphing to allow us to slip away or scare off predators in the early days.” Xe shrugged. “We just kept it from there on out. Just like how your teeth are developed to allow maximum nutrition from your food sources.”

The dignitary turned on the royals. “How can you so calmly sit here and ask this impersonator, this imposter questions?”

“The more we understand, the easier it will be to find our child,” The Queen snapped.

“How do you know for sure this wasn’t all an attempt at sabotage? That, perchance, your heir’s aide had a part to play in their disappearance and employed this imposter to cover his own tracks!”

“That is a grave accusation.”

“I am concerned for the life of my own charge.”

“How are we to be sure you have not stolen our–”

“Jool!” The King snapped. “Let’s not start tossing around accusations.”

“How else was he so convinced that Hylix was a fake?”

“For what its worth,” Hylix said softly, meeting the Queen’s intense gaze. “I am sorry about the whole thing. The way Jool pitched it was very much as just a few days filling a space until he could bring the heir back. I didn’t really think about there being feelings involved.”

“You’re a mercenary, right?” The queen’s voice carried across the arguing men, sending them skittering to silence.

“I am.”

“You’ve wronged my family, my lands, you must be brought to justice. Find my child, bring them back to me or face the full wrath of my army.”

Hylix  shot one, lingering, accusative glare at Jool before turning back to the queen. “I accept the contract.”

*

Don’t forget my book, Merry Arlan: Finding The Heir (Guardian Cadet Series part two) is available for pre-order (Signed paperback pre-orders will open soon, too, for those who are interested). I’ll also be releasing a recap of the events of Merry Arlan: Breaking The Curse for those who want it (just pay shipping).

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and I’ll see you all next week for another Short Story.

© nopoodles 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

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