The sand trembled beneath Missy’s feet, and a purple worm the size of an elephant lunged out of the earth. Missy laid a long-fingered hand on its dry skin. "Welcome," she said.
It writhed under her touch. She could feel its pain as she enslaved its mind. "Join the others in the pen," she commanded.
Missy strode back into her cave, humming to herself. That one brought her total up to eighteen. She only needed two more, and then she could begin her conquest of this backward planet. One of her human slaves brought her a glass of iced tea, and she sat down at her computer to run her calculations again.
The new sandworm tried to wrest its will free, but she bested it without breaking her concentration. Her calculations came out just as they had the last hundred times she’d checked them.
"Stay where you are," demanded an unfamiliar male voice.
Missy froze. She couldn’t sense any uncontrolled minds. Had the natives finally found a way to shield themselves from her?
"You’re under arrest, by the authority of the Galactic Imperium," the stranger said.
Missy sagged with relief. It wasn’t a native. It was a just a Galactic cop. Those, she could handle.
"Turn around!" the cop demanded. "And keep your hands where I can see them!"
Missy turned around just in time to see one of her controlled slaves club the cop across the back of his skull. Missy pulled the psychic inhibitor off of the unconscious cop’s temple and crushed the fragile disk in her fist. They were such simple things, cheap and easy to produce, and they’d made her life such hell. If the cop had distributed a few instead of sneaking in to arrest her himself, her plans would all have been for nothing.
She deleted her careful calculations, then stalked out of her cave to call another sandworm.