There were three of them. Two had guns. Somebody whose brain was blended into Omega Rex was familiar with guns. When they fired, Caleb felt punishing hot steel rods stab through him.

But unlike his old host, the Omega was not crippled by bullets. A tiny fraction of his being was shredded and burned. He simply pushed out the damaged flesh and left it behind. Caleb was not angry, and he was not thirsty for revenge. But he was driven by the knowledge that eating and growing were the most fulfilling things in his existence, and by the experience that told him attacking forces should be annihilated as quickly as possible. Luckily for him, eating prey and eradicating danger were, in this case, the same thing.

There were shouts that he didn’t understand. The three humans split up. The two with guns kept shooting at him. Something solid, like a rock, was thrown at him. Caleb ignored it. He didn’t have the experience to know that it was about to explode. When it did, a chunk of his body was blown off and destroyed.

Caleb was oozing towards his prey. The explosion had ripped a hard-earned portion out of his host form. That was not something he could let go. Normally, he would balance his speed with the amount of energy spent to achieve it. But he now forced himself towards the human who damaged him with all the acceleration he could muster. His shape changed. He rose from the ground, stretching into the shape of a wheel.

He slapped into the screaming prey and extinguished the scream by tearing its face apart from the inside out. He threw metal and plastic aside and ripped away fabric, then started to digest the rest.

But the other humans were still a threat. Feeding was for later. He mauled the body quickly and then left it. The second human shot at him wildly while it shouted a lot. He didn’t care. He rolled over the prey as the useless gunfire lashed him, like a whip against a rhinoceros.

The prey struggled furiously. Caleb tried to cripple it as quickly as possible so he could move on to the third recruit. The human fought against itself to do something before it died.

The prey had managed to take the pin out of a grenade. Caleb was on top of it. It exploded right inside him. Caleb was hit right at his core and carved open into the shape of a doughnut. He felt a large part of his Essence leave him for good. Those small pieces might not be destroyed, but they were not capable of surviving except as part of the Omega. The flesh would not crawl back to him.

Stunned by the force of the explosion, Caleb struggled to orient himself. He was sick, confused. His senses were unbalanced. When he got his bearings, he could tell that he was substantially weaker. He had to eject the dead parts of his body. He struggled to make a cohesive shape. Then he had to think long and hard about where he was and what he was doing.

One human was left alive. It was running. He rolled after it. When he caught it, he was careful not to make the same mistake of covering it completely. He tossed it around like a cat with a mouse, and it screamed. He slowly oozed under its clothes and attacked the skin.

But where he touched the prey, he went numb. He could no longer sense the thing directly. Its flesh was soaked with some kind of shielding energy. Caleb flooded over the prey to find a weak spot. Nothing. He forced himself down its throat but even internally, this creature was frozen to him and he had to retreat. The life force of this prey would not respond to Epsilon Rex, would not accept the Essence. Some of Omega Rex’s brain matter had been exposed to poison before. It was not strong enough to kill him, but enough to hold him back.

Caleb wasn’t capable of disappointment. But the new experiences he had just taken part in didn’t energise or fulfill him, either. They only made him aware of more dangers and more obstacles. To Omega Rex, this was not part of the plan. Its vision for the future was blunted. If you want to call that disappointment, then fine.

He rolled away from the shielded anti-host. It was still screaming. A more emotionally-driven foe might have been irritated by this, and gone back to tear him apart out of spite. But Caleb just collected the flesh from his other prey, and moved on.