Riddick and Esmina were a safe distance away when the Kublai Khan exploded, leaving behind glittering debris. A troubled expression crossed Riddick’s face. The ship held memories for him. Painful ones, but memories all the same. He arched an eyebrow as he glanced Vaako’s way.
“They were unworthy of conversion.” was his response.
Esmina remained silent, taking in her new surroundings. The lighting was dim, making the dark interior of the small vessel appear even darker. She, Riddick, and Vaako were alone at this point. The remainder of the entourage was at the controls of the ship. She glanced Riddick’s way, feeling him looking at her. She kept her expression blank.
Riddick studied Esmina, her mannerisms and her movements. She sat stoically, hands folded in her lap. Like Riddick, she kept an eye on her surroundings. And Vaako. She watched every move he made. It disgruntled him enough so that the man growled and moved to the cockpit.
Riddick grinned wolfishly. “What’s the matter, Vaako?”
As soon as the cockpit door had closed behind him, Esmina turned to Riddick. “You still have a way with people.” She smiled, but it was hollow.
* * *
She allowed Riddick to hold her by the hand as he lead her onto the Necromonger citadel ship. Her movements were fluid and deliberate, eyes ever watchful.
A predator under scrutiny of other predators.
“Welcome to the Necropolis.”
“Home, sweet home.” she murmured as they passed all of those who bowed their heads in deference to their Riddick, their Lord Marshall.
“You’ll get used to it after a while.” he answered.
* * *
Riddick had left Esmina at his private chambers, giving instructions that a bath was to be prepared. He then went on to the archives.
She, Shirah, had led him to Esmina. Whom he had thought was dead. But why?
As he flipped through the images on the view screen, memories of the last time that he had seen Esmina flashed through his mind. The firefight as they had tried to escape. Her pushing him out of the way before she fell…
“Still seeking after that damned world of yours?” Vaako demanded.
Searching. He was always searching. It was the one thing that consumed his thoughts. Until Now.“Consider it a hobby.”
Vaako’s lip curled up into a snarl. “Just as you continue to find excuses to avoid taking the oath?”
Riddick smirked. “About that. Can I get a rain-check?”
Vaako’s snarl turned into a sneer. “It’s that breeder.” He spat.
“Mind your tone, Commander Vaako.” Riddick warned. “I might take offense.”
“‘You keep what you kill.’” Vaako recited.
Riddick tipped his head to the side. “Just what is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing.” Vaako growled before turning on his heel and stalking out.
* * *
Esmina followed after the young woman who was to lead her to the baths. Like most everyone else in the Necromonger fleet, she was dressed in black, the low sweeping collar proudly displaying what they called the Mark of the Convert – a circular indent of scar tissue on either side of her neck.
“I’ll take it from here.” A tall, haughty looking woman said as she came striding up to them. Of dark skin and hair, she wore a dress the color of brushed copper, the neckline ending at her jaw.
“This one is not much for conversation.” the woman sniffed as the girl bowed before quickly walking away. “She was liberated from a world where speaking ill of someone is a crime punishable by having your tongue removed.”
Esmina arched an eyebrow. Such things were not wholly unheard of on Protectorate worlds…
The woman linked arms with her then as they walked along. “It is my understanding that you and the Lord Marshal have a shared history.”
“Excuse me, but I do not feel like discussing my personal life.” Esmina said irritably.
They had since reached the baths and she untangled herself from the woman’s grasp. The chamber that housed the baths had a high, vaulted ceiling, and like everything else, it was dark with sharp angles. Their footsteps echoed loudly as they walked into the room.
“The Lord Marshal has made some enemies in his short time with us. I would be cautious if I were you.” the woman continued.
“I think I’ll take my chances.” Esmina smirked. “I’m only passing through.”
The woman’s black lined eyes narrowed. “There is only one way to leave the Necropolis.” she said, before turning to leave. “So I wouldn’t be in too big of a hurry if I were you.”
As soon as she had left, Esmina dismissed the attendant before stripping off her clothes and stepping down into the wide bathing pool. The water was hotter than she would have liked, but she soon became acclimated.
No sooner had she laid her head back for a moment, then she heard the whisper of movement. Feigning a fumble for the soap, her fingers closed around the hilt of a knife just under her pile of clothes.
“I am no assassin, so you can just put that away.”
Esmina tuned to eye the interloper. Dressed all in white, her form rippled and wisped as she walked around the pool to face Esmina. “A damned Elemental.” she muttered, setting down the knife, but still within quick and easy reach.
The white-haired woman smiled gently. “Yes, I suppose that you could say that I am damned. Just like so many others.”
Esmina snorted. “So what is it that you’re here for? To tell me my odds of getting off of this damn ship?”
“If only it were that easy.”
Esmina’s laugh was more of a hoarse bark than a laugh. “So my odds aren’t good.”
“But then you knew that, didn’t you?”
Esmina gestured to the Necropolis as a whole.”Tell me Aerian, did you predict all this?” she asked.
“What? The new Lord Marshall?” The Aerian smiled. “The possibility was calculated.”
“Then you know his is likely to take them all the way to Underverse.”
“To the Threshold? Yes, that is a distinct possibility.”
Then Esmina smiled, a hollow ghost of a smile. “And how do I factor into that equation?”