Although the wound was mortal, it was not immediately fatal. The Elemental stepped back, hand to her abdomen. Her eyes were wide with new-found understanding.
Esmina still held the knife in her hand, staring at the red seeping down the front of the white gown. She felt nothing. She was completely numb. Dropping the knife, she turned and walked away.
“Well, well.” Dame Vaako said, striding from around the corner where she had been watching. “It’s good to finally see you get what you deserve.”
The Elemental laughed, a dry coughing sound. “And you call me a spy.”
Dame Vaako’s smile was a toothy snarl as she stepped over to retrieve the abandoned knife. “You have no idea how I have longed for the opportunity to do this.” she said, stepping up to the Elemental.
“This will only serve to get you killed before your Due Time.”
“Pity, but you will not live to see it.”
Dame Vaako came upon Esmina a few moments later. She was pacing and wringing her hands. Tears stained her face. “I-I didn’t mean to…” Esmina cried. “I didn’t mean to hurt her.”
“Oh, but you did.” Dame Vaako said, sauntering closer. “She was sticking her nose where it did not belong and you taught her a lesson.”
“Don’t worry yourself too much over that little old spy.” She continued. “She was merely using the Lord Marshal for her own machinations. Once she was finished with him, she would have tossed him aside like garbage.” Dame Vaako waved her hand dismissively.
Esmina’s eyes turned dark as the tears promptly dried up. “Is that any different from what you would do?”
They began to circle each other like wary predators, studying each other.
“My, my. You are good. Tell me, has that worked on the Lord Marshal?” Dame Vaako asked with a snide smile.
“You tell me.” Esmina replied.
Dame Vaako’s lips curled into a smirk. “You have him wrapped around your fingers.” she said. “I bet that you could get him to do whatever it is that you wanted.”
Esmina sneered. “If I were to convert, you mean.”
Dame Vaako shrugged. “You would be no worse off than you were. No one to tell you what to do… You would be the consort to the Lord Marshal.”
“Freedom, power. That would be something…”
“Yes.” Dame Vaako purred. “You would be the closest thing to a Queen of the Necromonger army. Your orders would be treated as if they had come from the Lord Marshal himself.”
Dame Vaako gingerly linked arms with Esmina, making to escort her back to the habitat section of the ship.
“Impressive.” Esmina said, her gaze far away. But all too quickly it changed, her expression turning icy once again. “But where would that leave you?”
Vaako blinked in confusion for only a second before regaining her composure. “How do you mean?”
“With me as the Chief Consort to the Lord Marshal. His Queen, to use your own words. Where would that leave you?”
In the blink of an eye, Esmina had grabbed her about the neck and had brought her face within inches of Dame Vaako’s own. Her features were twisted into an infuriated grimace, her eyes glinting with murderous intent. She was stronger than what she appeared, stronger than what Dame Vaako had anticipated. She was no normal Breeder.
“Wh-why, to serve you, of course.” she stammered.
“To poison my ear, you mean. To turn me against him, to help you find an In for Lord Vaako.”
Her grip tightened, and Dame Vaako found it somewhat difficult to breath. But she refused to step back. She would stand her ground.
“I will not do your dirty work for you.” Esmina said, her voice low, even. Without even the slightest trace of emotion.
Dame Vaako’s black-lined eyes widened in surprise and fear. For the first time in a long while, she felt fear that her life may very well come to an end. This woman, this Breeder, would do what she could to kill her before Vaako’s own Due Time.
She had horribly underestimated this creature.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Necromonger?” Esmina demanded.
“Please, don’t. Don’t kill me.”
“Begging, are we?” Amusement briefly crossed Esmina’s features. “Then maybe you should be on your knees.”
Dame Vaako carefully dropped to the floor, pulling at her skirts so that they did not encumber her legs. The Breeder scowled down at her as she began to circle, studying her face and flipping her braid of hair this way and that.
Dame Vaako seethed with resentment. She had sworn to never be treated in such a manner again. And now…
“Get up.” Esmina commanded, Dame Vaako following her instruction. “Now walk.”
Dame Vaako stood, her head held high. She was not going to give the Breeder any more satisfaction from seeing her grovel. She would not see her beg.
As they passed the crumpled form of the Elemental, Esmina stopped. She stared down at the old woman’s body for several moments. “You did this.” she said softly.
“With your own knife.” The Necromonger stated.
“You had no right to do that.” Esmina said tonelessly, her eyes dark.
“You keep what you kill.” Dame Vaako hissed.
With that, Esmina grabbed her by the neck and shoulders and shoved her toward the nearest bulkhead, smashing her face into the metal. Having been a Convert, it felt like nothing worse than a slap in the face. “Is that the best that you can do?” Dame Vaako asked, checking for a bleeding nose.
Grabbing her by the base of the Necromonger’s braid, Esmina slammed her face into the bulkhead a few more times. “If you think,” Slam. “That I will…” Slam. “Let you…” Slam. “You have…” Slam. “Another thing…” Slam. “Coming.” Slam. “Bitch!”
Dame Vaako slumped to her hands and knees, her lip was split and blood gushing from her nose. She used the bulkhead to pull herself to her feet, Esmina pacing back and forth behind her. “And I just did my makeup.” She snarled, wiping the blood from her face. No sooner had she gotten up then Esmina backhanded her with a closed fist, knocking her off-balance and sending her stumbling.
“Come on, I’ve been itching to beat the shit out of you since I first met you.” Esmina growled. She grabbed Dame Vaako’s braid with both hands and proceeded to swing her around by it. Letting go then caused her to plow headlong into another bulkhead. “Show me what you’ve got, Necromonger. If you are all so bad ass, then prove it!”
Riddick’s quest did not go unnoticed. By the time that he had located Esmina’s position aboard the ship, several of the personal guard had flanked him. Including Lord Vaako. It annoyed him greatly, since he had hoped to approach her alone.
When Riddick reached her, he found her in a passage off from the main way. The Elemental lay dead, her throat cut from ear to ear. Esmina was currently in the process of strangling Dame Vaako with her own hair.
“Mina!” he snapped, promptly grabbing her attention. “Let her go.”
“As you wish.” she answered, taking Dame Vaako’s chin in her hand and delivering a sharp jerk. There was a loud snap before Esmina dropped her, the woman’s head twisted at an unnatural angle.
Lord Vaako growled and made to lunge forward, but Riddick grabbed him by his armor and pushed him back. “Let me handle this.”
With murder in his eyes, Lord Vaako stepped back, dipping his head in deference.
“Cool trick. Is he house broken, as well?” Esmina asked.
“Why did you do this, Mina?” Riddick asked, gesturing toward the bodies of the Elemental and Dame Vaako, which were now in the process of being removed.
She shrugged. “I was bored.” She said simply, walking past Riddick and Lord Vaako. “Besides, it’s not like that one was a huge loss.” She waved her hand at Dame Vaako’s corpse.
Lord Vaako growled low in his throat, earning him a stern glance from Riddick.
“See to your wife.” Riddick said, taking Esmina firmly by the arm and leading her away. “What the fuck gas gotten into you?” He hissed, backing her against the wall.
Gray eyes stared back at him, not intimidated in the slightest by his be-goggled glare. Instead, a small smile tugged at her lips. “I was having fun.” She said.
“The woman I knew did not kill for fun.” He snarled.
“No. She died years ago.” Lips curled up over her teeth as she sneered at him with contempt.
“Mina,” He began, reaching out to touch her face, but she slapped his hand away.
“You left me there. With them.” She said, pointing her finger in his face before shrieking: “You abandoned me!”
“I couldn’t… I didn’t…”
“I’LL KILL YOU!” she screamed, lunging at him. Riddick caught her by the wrists and flipped her over his hip, where she landed on her back. As he made to secure her hands, she clawed for his face with her fingernails. “I hate you!”
It was a fury that Riddick had never before seen from her. Straddling her waist, he struggled to pin wrists to the floor on either side of her head. “Stop this, Mina!” he growled.
Esmina wriggled and struggled against him, attempting to buck him off of her. Finally, she managed to lift her leg and hook her foot beneath his chin, flipping him from over top of her. At the same time, the momentum turning her over onto her hands and knees.
Righting himself, Riddick dropped into a crouch, aware of all of the eyes that had gathered to watch them. Like a pack of snarling dogs, circling as they waited for a moment of weakness. Lord Vaako especially.
“Mina, I don’t want to hurt you.”
“It’s too late for that.” she said, getting to her feet.
She grabbed for the nearest Necromonger soldier, seizing hold of his weapon. He was slow, almost clumsy. All of them were. They specialized in brute strength, and it made them weak. Esmina had his belt knife wrestled away from him before he could open his mouth in protest.
“Let’s move this down below, shall we?” She asked. “It’ll give them a better show.”
Esmina grabbed the top rung of the railing with her free hand and vaulted over, landing nimbly on her feet below and sending wannabe debutantes scattering. Dame Vaako’s death before her Due Time had caused a stir.
Riddick gritted his teeth and followed after her, swinging from the railing to the pillar nearby before dropping down. She was faster, more agile than he had expected. That, combined with her unstable personality made her dangerous. Riddick was beginning to fear that he was going to be forced to put her down before she could hurt anyone else.
They faced off, slowly circling as they studied each others movement. Esmina feinted and jabbed with the belt knife, a taunting smirk on her face. Riddick had yet to draw his own knife, preferring to disarm her instead.
“Come on, Riddick. Fight me, damn you!” She screamed, lunging forward. Riddick took a step back, narrowly avoiding a slice to the neck as the blade scraped across his armor. With a downward chopping motion, he caught her on the back of the shoulders with his forearm.
Esmina dropped to her knees before striking out at him with her foot, the blow catching him on the back of his leg. Riddick rolled and came up in a crouch, his hands held up in the defensive. Esmina had regained her feet, knife in her right hand with the blade facing outward over her forearm.
Riddick rolled his shoulders back and tilted his head, beckoning her to come at him again. When she did, he was expecting for the knife to be in her right hand when she brought her first toward his face. Instead, she had transferred the blade to her left hand and swept it up toward his armpit. Riddick dropped his arm just in time for the blade cut into the underside of his bicep.
Esmina danced back, a wicked grin on her face. Blood stained the knife as it began to run down Riddick’s arm. Bringing the blade to her lips, she licked it.
Riddick could not reconcile the demented and deranged creature that stood before him with the sweet and kind young woman that he had loved. She was right, that girl had died. She had died a long time ago when he had allowed her to come with him. When he had made her existence known to those who had hunted him.
It was Riddick’s fault. It was all his fault.
Riddick grit his teeth, drew his own knife, and went on the offensive. He closed in on her, pummeling her in the abdomen with his fists. He expected her to fight back. But she didn’t. She left herself wide open, intentionally allowing him to land blow after blow.
She wanted this. She wanted him to lay into her. She wanted him to kill her.
She needed him to kill her.
Esmina lay sprawled on the floor, broken and battered. “Do it.” she breathed. “Please.”
Riddick knelt down next to her, clutching her to his chest. He kissed her forehead and buried his face in her hair. “Forgive me.” He said, bringing his knife to the fourth rib down, next to the spine.
“Always.” she whispered. She went rigid as the knife plunged into her back, a silent cry tearing from her lips before she fell limp. Gently, he laid her down on the floor, her hair forming a halo around her head. Her face looked so serene, like she was finally at peace.
Riddick stood then, eyeing every last one of the Necromongers present. He wanted them to see what he was capable of. That they could not play him like some puppet. And then he turned and strode furiously towards his rooms.
Lord Vaako stayed behind, staring down at the body of the female breeder. “Transcendence.” he growled under his breath.