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Enjoy the second half!

“A shape-shifter? Wouldn’t we have noticed if we had a shape-shifter on our team after all these years, Lorenzo?” asked Tracy.

“No, at least, not unless you saw the shape-shifter change than I wouldn’t expect you to notice. Once I knew it was one of your members that changed, I put live-feed cameras that fed footage to a recorder on my friends that went to collect the people from the next town. I discovered the identity of the shape-shifter the day that you all say that one of my friends killed a civilian. I can show you the footage from one of my friends’ dead bodies.

By the way, I thought that you should know that my friends cannot possibly kill anyone. I’ve programmed them to only defend themselves in any situation. They are all robots. I have downloaded a program where they cannot thrust their arms or really slice through anything. You have destroyed things that cannot kill. These robots really are my friends you know. I … care about them.”

“Now that we know, we won’t hurt them anymore. And we are very sorry for the ones we have destroyed. If you need some help repairing them, we’d be happy to assist you.” said Hamu.

“Thanks you.” Lorenzo said as he brought the footage up on a large screen to show the heroes from that day about a month ago.

“At first, it looks like one of my friends is slicing through a civilian, and then lets their body fall to the ground. And then, after Val E. Ant gives the “kill order”, the uh … “friend” transforms and it appears to transforms into Billy. Then Billy proceeds to attack my friends, my real friends.” Lorenzo concludes.

“Billy … care to offer an explanation?” asked Val E. Ant.

“Val, look, we’ve known each other a long time. Are you really going to believe an evil villain like Lorenzo Grant? The guy whose soldiers have killed, the guy who took the entire population of Earth, not to mention the fact that he has taken away your betrothed, Karen? I have been with you for 10 years. Are you going to let him come between us?” pleaded Billy.

“Billy, the video shows you shape-shifting. If you claim to be telling the truth, and Lorenzo claims to be showing us the truth, then how will we really know the truth?” replied Val E. Ant.

“Actually, I have a machine that will change you back to your original form if in fact you are a shape-shifter. You want to give it a try, Billy?” Lorenzo asked.

“Yes! I will give anything a shot to prove I am not a shape-shifter.”

“Alrighty. Let’s do this.” said Lorenzo.

Billy thought the villain Lorenzo was bluffing. If he could revert some shape-shifter to their original form, then he would be able to transform and he could possibly blame Lorenzo or even blame anyone else he wanted to if Billy felt like it. Lorenzo guided him to the machines’ chamber and put him inside of it. He explained that this vest will transform him if his body had the ability to do so and the chamber would turn clear and the people outside to see. The door to the machines’ chamber closed and the machine started up.

Billy saw Lorenzo talking to the heroes and thought he might be trying to convince them that he wasn’t changing because the machine wasn’t working right or didn’t really work at all. Lorenzo gestured to Billy to come out of the chamber and he did, completely unchanged.

“So, did I change or something in any way, everybody?” asked Billy.

“No, you didn’t. Nothing at all.” replied Scope.

“See? I told you. I didn’t change. Also, I was not the one who stabbed the civilian.”

“And I guess you were not the one who I was chasing 10 years ago. You were not the hooded criminal.” said Val E. Ant.

“No and no. Glad we got that out of the way.” said Billy.

“That’s all we need.” said Lorenzo.

“All you need? What do you mean, Lorenzo?” asked Billy.

“You see, Billy, that machine that we told you could change you to your original form is in fact a new version of the old polygraph machine our ancestors built. We now know that you have lied about what we asked you and see that you are in fact the one who stabbed the woman, you were the one who Val E. Ant was chasing 10 years ago, and you were the hooded criminal, just as I thought.” Lorenzo explained.

“It appears it is just as we feared, Billy.” Val E. Ant disappointedly said.

“Val, come on, you’ve gotta be kidding me! I mean, where are you guys getting this from, huh? Where? There’s no screen or anything attached to me, is there?”

As soon as Billy said it, he almost immediately looked down at the vest still attached to him. That is when everybody pointed to the screen on top of the chamber. Billy, dazed and confused, turned around and looked up. He saw the screen and immediately knew what the up and down lines meant for his cover. His heart rate gave him away when he responded to them.

“You know,” began Billy, “it’s a shame that when you shape-shift, you can’t control the heart rate of the new person or whatever animal you become. All these years, I tried. You know? I really did try. I tried to be the good guy, I tried to be friends with you all, and I tried to do everything right. But I guess you couldn’t leave it alone could you, Lorenzo? All because your dad died in a duel with Val E. Ant. You know, you really should be blaming him for your fathers’ death. He ran his sword right through him. He didn’t even stop to ask if he was the criminal. Then again, Val E. Ant still probably would have killed him anyway.”

“None of those scenarios or any others you can come up with would have happened if you hadn’t been around our house in the first place!”

“Maybe, Lorenzo. But if I didn’t bring about your fathers’ death, then someone else would have sooner or later. Perhaps even you.”

“I would give anything to have one more day with him. As for me causing his death, I could have tried to save him. And if I couldn’t, at least I could have told him how much I loved him!”

“You know, I enjoyed watching you bury your father that night. I was of course in disguise, and my true form is not a man. Please, allow me to show you!”

Billy tore off the vest and he started to change. When Billy finished, he was a woman.

“Holy crap you’re a woman!” Scope exclaimed.

“How long did you know you wanted to be a woman?” asked Hamu?

“Shut up Hamu! I have always been a woman; I can change my shape, remember? I was actually kind of hoping you would be glad I was a woman.”

Tracy, now angered, threatened Billy; “Back off Billy. Man or woman, I can beat you up until you transform into a cheetah and run as far away as you can.”

“Billy, nothing has to change. We can still fight together side-by-side for good.” appealed Val E. Ant.

“That’s the thing, Val. I was never really on your side. Think about it: Where would the last place you would think to check for a villain than on a team of heroes? Now all I have to do is destroy every last one of you.” said Billy.

“But why?” Scope asked.

“Because, you dolt, we know her secret. If she lets us live, then everyone would pretty much find out about her.” Diane explained.

“Exactly, Diane. Thank you. Now I won’t destroy you third.”

“Third? Who are the first two?” asked Diane.

“I’m so glad you asked.”

That was when Billy transformed into a gigantic lion and she raised her left arm high into the air and struck at Val E. Ant and Lorenzo. Lorenzo dodged to the left and Val E. Ant dodged to the right, towards his band of heroes. Billy turned and whipped her huge tail, knocking Scope back against the wall. Diane became enraged as she watched him struggle to get up but he couldn’t and he collapsed.

“You’re going to pay for that!” Diane screamed.

“If you didn’t like that, then you’re going to hate this!” screamed Billy, as she transformed into a rhinoceros. Although she shrank in size, her horn grew to an amazing 10 feet! She took a few steps back and she charged at them, swinging her head at those who dodged her the first time. Hamu jumped out of the way but Billy expected it and quickly turned to try hit him. Tracy saw, leaped, and pushed him out of the way. Hamu escaped unharmed but Tracy wasn’t so lucky. Billy’s horn scratched her leg. Hamu ran to Tracy and tended to her injury. He saw the gash on her leg. The gash was wide, but not deep.

“How does it look?” Tracy asked, wincing in pain.

“It looks like you’ll be fine, but I don’t think you will be able to fight anymore until you get some medical attention. I’ll move you out of harm’s way until then.” said Hamu.

“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Billy saw Hamu helping Tracy and changed back into her true form except with a sword that was now dripping with blood.

“Aw. Need some help? Here, allow me!” Billy said, as she started towards them. But Diane and Val E. Ant stood in front of Billy, blocking her from Hamu and Tracy.

“Sorry, but help is already on the way.” said Val E. Ant.

“What? What do you mean?” asked Billy.

Val E. Ant and Diane pointed behind Billy and she turned to see Lorenzo calling in for his friend to bring in some medical support and to hurry up to get here.

“Oh, sh-” Billy was going to say when she was struck in the back by Diane. Only, no blood came from the wound when Diane pulled out her sword.

“Something I also should have mentioned before we started the battle,” Billy began as the wound started to slowly heal, “I am not from your planet. I am more like something from one of the old things your kind would call a movie. I am like “E.T.” meets “The Angry Martians.””

“I don’t recall a movie called “The Angry Martians,” Diane. Do you?” asked Val E. Ant.

“No. Can’t say that I have, Val. Have you, Lorenzo?”

“Nope. Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Oh! Will you all just shut up!?! I am trying to make a point here before I kill you all. Your swords, guns, anything you have here have no effect on me whatsoever.”

“But you can’t stand the cold.” said Val E. Ant.

“Excuse me?” asked Billy.

“The cold. You can’t stand the cold. When we first worked together 10 years ago, fall was hard on you. You almost died in winter. I had to carry you to the fire I made 4 miles from the nearest town.”

“Great. So all we have to do is freeze her and this is all over. Let’s put Billy on ice.” said Diane.

“I think I have just the thing.” said Lorenzo. Then, he pulled out a device with buttons that he pushed and he started speaking. It looked like a cell phone, but not like the ones from the past. He said: “Emilio, bring our “freezer”. We’re gonna need it. Hey Emilio, aim using 6-6.”

“Go ahead. Try your silly idea. I was acting those days.”

“Snow.”

“Ah! I mean, ah. What is this “snow” you speak of?”

“I knew it.” said Val E. Ant.

“We have to keep her busy until my friend Emilio can get here with the “freezer”. Any ideas would be appreciated.” Lorenzo said.

“Yeah I got one: Diane, attack!”

Val E. Ant lunged at Billy. Billy parried. Diane attacked from behind but Billy morphed her other hand into a sword and countered. Another head grew from the back of her head and stared down Diane. Then Billy went on the offensive and Val E. Ant and Diane countered. They returned to the offensive and Billy countered. It went on like this for a minute before Lorenzo called out to Val E. Ant and Diane.

“Val, Diane, fall back!”

Lorenzo then pushed a button.

“What?! Why?!” Diane asked.

“Fall back! Trust me! I have a plan in motion! Relax!”

“Lorenzo, you better know what you’re doing!” Val E. Ant shouted.

They stopped attacking and jumped back as Billy thrust forwards towards them. Lorenzo pushed a button and then the bubble from before closed up around Billy, trapping her inside. She hit the bubble with both swords but nothing happened. She turned into an octopus with a sword in each tentacle and slashed all at the same time but still nothing happened. She kept slashing the bubble but nothing happened still. Then, she transformed into a little mouse. But the mouse started to grow and grow and grow. Soon Billy took up the entire bubble and it was starting to break. It cracked and the cracks grew. Eventually, the bubble shattered and Billy was free. She transformed back into her true form again.

“You should know better than that to trap a shape-shifter, Lorenzo. For being so smart, you seem out of your depth when it comes to anything that isn’t a machine. Your plan didn’t work.” Billy teased.

“Okay, so maybe that plan didn’t work. But it kept you busy long enough for my friend to reach us, prepare the “freezer”, open the door, and aim for your head.”

Just then, the door opened, Emilio aimed, and shot the “freezer” at Billy. Billy moved her head to dodge the shot.

“You shot and missed so quickly I didn’t see the thing.”

“No, but maybe you feel something.” replied Emilio.

Billy looked down at her foot and saw that it was frozen to the floor. She kept staring for a few more seconds and saw that the ice kept climbing and climbing. In 10 seconds, the ice was up to her thighs.

“You know, on my home planet, trickery is the only way to beat a shape-shifter. Technically speaking, you beat me fair and square.”

Billy transformed her head, as the ice was now up to her neck, into Lorenzo’s father.

“Your father would be proud of you, Lorenzo. I am very proud of you.” Billy said as the ice covered the rest of her body. It was over.

Emilio brought in the medical support for Scope and Tracy. Hamu, Diane, Val E. Ant, and Lorenzo also got treated for minor injuries. Everybody is expected to make full recoveries. Later, in that same room where everything took place, Val E. Ant finds Lorenzo looking at Billy still frozen.

“Hey.”

“Hey. What’s up, Val?”

“I uh … I know it must have been hard to see your father kind of die … again.”

“Yeah. At least this time I got to talk to him (he sighs) even if it was for a brief time.”

“Again, I am very sorry about killing your father, Lorenzo. I was only doing what I thought was right. I-”

“Val E. Ant, it is alright. You were chasing Billy but you found my father in the same clothes. Anyone would have done the same thing you did. I understand. It was the circumstances surrounding the event that made things appear to be what they looked like. I get it.”

“Thank you.”

“Hey, how’s Karen?”

“She is fine. As you said, nothing happened to her. She appears to be the same as before, but only because there was never really a bad bone in her body.”

“Yeah, you got lucky. I’m glad. I’m glad everyone is okay.”

“Me too.” Val E. Ant agreed.

“So what’s next for you and your heroes?”

“I think we’re gonna set up in the central area of the land and help you keep the peace. Sound like a plan?”

“That sounds like a great plan, Val E. Ant. I think I heard of that plan.”

“I think you have, my friend.”

“I like the sound of that plan.”

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