How could he have been so stupid? So blind to consequences? Forsteg raged against the darkness, his seething anger directed as much at himself as against the thugs who had destroyed his plans. He had come so close! The primitive mind under his control had rapidly built up its own criminal empire, wrenching it out of the grasp of weaker felons. It had been limited to only a few square miles, true, but his minion had been ready to expand to cover the whole end of the state when retribution for earlier crimes had caught up with him.
The bullets that had cut his career short had also cut off Forsteg's link to the outside world, so that all that remained to him was darkness. He didn't know how long it had been while he slept and rebuilt his strength, absorbing energy from the scant winter sunlight, but now he was awake again and aware of that darkness. Darkness that would enfold him until some other, lesser mind came within range of his thoughts.
There! Something living approached. The thoughts were weak, mere primitive impulses, but they could be manipulated. Thoughts of warmth, and food, and a ferocious desire to pursue slightly different creatures that also scampered on four legs.
Forsteg reached out with all of his feeble strength to draw the attention of the wandering canine, projecting images of food to be found in the upended garbage can. The mind wandered closer, and gradually Forsteg assumed more precise control of its actions. Through its senses he could dimly perceive the dark alley where his former host had met his doom.
Yes, there was the overturned garbage can, half buried in a drift of snow, and nestled against it was the construct that housed Forsteg's essence. Shapeless, it would remain that way until within range of a mind that would give it the form of whatever headgear that mind most desired. Now under his firm control, the dog took the construct in its jaws and trotted off down the street.
"Hrrrbboi!" The words were garbled, merely a pleasant noise in the floppy ears of the mutt. It scampered closer to the two legs, and eager hands grasped its burden.
Success! These humans would become its next hosts ... But no, before Forsteg could begin to influence them he was lifted on high and deposited atop a high piled mound of snow.
Dimly, Forsteg could still perceive his surroundings. The snow concretion was vaguely manlike; two legs, two arms, and a rounded head atop a bulging cylindrical body. His own form had changed to that of a cylinder, as well; A cylinder of shiny dark material, with a flat rim of similar material around its lower end. Forsteg dimly remembered seeing its like in illustrations of formal wear.
Forsteg extended his senses to encompass his surroundings, but he hadn't the energy to make contact with the small humans around him. This new body was far from perfect, but perhaps he could bend it to his will. With horrendous effort, he managed to move an arm, then a leg. As the humans cried out, words that he could not understand but only feel as vibrations, he took one step, then another. His balance was far from perfect, but he was able to stay erect.