Niarith was first to pull away from the kiss, Lucia was lost in the enjoyment of it. “Thank you, Luci. Thank you.” Niarith said after a moment.
“I had to. I couldn’t let her take you.”
Niarith stood up. “Well, the nanites in our brains only work when the directing brain is functional. We should be safe now.”
Lucia stood as well “What do we do now?” She asked, staring at the still standing corpse of Mirideth, encased in green light.
“We need to erase the evidence of what happened here. If we leave these bodies here with clean holes burned through their heads, people will ask questions. They’ll wonder. And it’ll change things. We can’t allow that.”
Lucia stepped closer to the corpse to retrieve her dagger. “So… what do we do?”
“We blow this whole citadel to hell. They’ll still ask questions, but they’ll get no answers. There’ll be nothing to examine.” Lucia flicked the switch and pulled her dagger from Mirideth’s thigh. Mirideth’s corpse should have fallen instantly, limp on the floor. Instead it straightened its stance, and its skin began to glow teal. Lucia stepped back in shock and sudden fear.
“Uhh, Niarith? What’s happening?” She asked with increasing panic in her voice.
Niarith pulled Lucia back from the glowing corpse.” I don’t know… I’ve never seen anything like this..”
The corpse continued to glow brighter, the light showing through the pale skin. The skin itself began to slough off, falling in pale white and red puddles as it began to liquefy. The muscle and organs beneath did the same, an ever growing puddle of viscera appearing beneath the corpse.
Lucia and Niarith continued to back away as the glow intensified. Only Mirideth’s skeleton remained, sheathed in the bright teal glow. As it stood there, the glow itself began to disentangle itself from the skeleton, the bones falling to the floor with a wet clatter. As the last of the bones fell, the form of the glow could be clearly seen. An indistinct mass of thin tendrils in the vague shape of a human body, all connected to a brain-like shape at the ‘head’. It stood motionless before them, as they stared in horror, unable to process what they were seeing. Niarith spoke after a long moment. “That’s… a human nervous system.. her nervous system… holy shit… she was hardly human..”
It spoke, its voice entirely mechanical, but still distinctly Mirideth’s. “You think it is that easy? Simply shoot me in the head and that is the end?” The glow pulsed with each word. “You insolent little whores… you have no idea what you’re up against.”
Mirideth laughed, the strange mechanical sound echoing off the dark stone walls. “Niarith…” Lucia said quietly, her voice tinged with intense panic “What do we do?” The glowing tendrils of Mirideth’s new form undulated and writhed, tightening into a more human shape as it began to walk.
“We’re getting the fuck out of here.” Niarith said, calmly, resolutely. She took Lucia by the hand and prepared to run. As she did, they witnessed Mirideth’s new form calmly make its way to the hatch leading to her ship. She entered the hatch, and it closed behind her. Lucia and Niarith stood there for a moment, confused. A massive rumbling began to emanate from below, and Niarith once again took Lucia’s hand and sprinted, this time out of the throne room. Lucia began to ask what she was doing, but her question was answered as the floor of the throne room exploded upward in a thunderous roar of both starship engines and crumbling stone. Mirideth’s ship, a sleek, shining black vehicle, almost birdlike in its appearance, began to emerge. For all its sleekness it was no smaller than Niarith’s ship, a fact made obvious as it tore Mirideth’s throne room apart. “We need to get the fuck out of here, now!” Niarith screamed over the noise, and pulled Lucia along once again. They made their way back through the prison block, through the halls, over the corpses, and into the tower.
The roaring thunder of Mirideth’s ship and her collapsing citadel still echoed through the halls. The pair made their way up the tower and onto the roof. They arrived just in time to watch Niarith’s ship be hit by bright glowing teal light, which splashed upon a strange blue field far off from the surface of the ship. Looking to the source, Lucia saw Mirideth’s ship, now fully freed from the rubble of her own throne room. Her ship had fired some kind of weapon at Niarith’s ship, but it had done no damage, thanks to the blue field of energy. The hatch on Niarith’s ship opened and they climbed aboard, Niarith sprinting through the single hallway to the room at the very end of it. A room Lucia had yet to enter. As she did, she was stunned by the various lights, buttons, switches and screens that covered nearly every surface but the floor. Several metal plates, smaller than the one that had shown Lucia her own planet, slid away to reveal the area in front of Niarith’s ship. Niarith frantically pressed buttons, flicked switches, and touched screens. The ship shuddered, and the view turned toward Mirideth’s ship, which was simply floating there above the crumbling ruins of her citadel. “YOU INSIGNIFICANT LESSERS… YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST FUCK WITH ME AND GET AWAY WITH IT? YOU THINK YOU GET TO JUST RUIN MY BODY, TEAR APART MY EMPIRE AND RUN AWAY? NO, I BELIEVE YOU’LL FIND A VERY DIFFERENT FATE IS IN STORE FOR YOU! I WILL HAVE WHAT I DESIRE!”
Mirideth’s voice boomed across the distance between the two ships, echoing not just off of the walls of the citadel, but into the area around it. Niarith pressed yet more buttons, and flicked a large red switch. When she did, a jet of intense heat and flame spewed out from Niarith’s ship, impacting upon Mirideth’s, no blue energy field appeared to block it, yet the ship was undamaged. “Shit!” Niarith swore as she piloted her ship, taking it forward to the side of Mirideth’s. Mirideth’s ship responded in kind, forming a strange kind of dance between the two ships as they fired at one another. Niarith swore again as her ship’s weaponry did nothing to the sleek black hull of the other. “Damn it! This piece of shit they gave me can’t punch through her hull. We’ve got no choice, we need to get out of here and hope she can’t catch us.”
“Will that work?” Lucia asked, panic in her voice.
“I don’t know! But it’s all we’ve got, we stay here she’s gonna tear apart our shields till there’s nothing left, and then we’re fucked.”
As she spoke, the ship turned skyward and lurched forward at great speed. “Lucia! Check our rear view!, over there on that screen!” Niarith pointed to a screen to Lucia’s right. Lucia looked at the image on the screen, and saw Mirideth’s ship, unsettlingly close, the ground rapidly descending behind it.
“Her ship is quite large on the screen! Does that mean she’s close?” Niarith didn’t answer, instead pushing a large lever forward, propelling the ship even faster. As she did, Lucia saw an arc of what looked like bright blue electricity streak from Mirideth’s ship to their own. Immediately afterward, Mirideth’s ship fell back, beginning to tumble end over end as it fell back toward the planet. “It’s… falling. Why is it falling?” Lucia asked, confused by what she was seeing.
“Who cares why? It gives us a chance to get farther away!” Niarith replied as the ship left the atmosphere.
As they gained distance from the planet, Lucia saw a small flash of bright firey light where Mrideth's citadel had been.. Niarith spoke “Well… this wasn’t what I expected, but.. We survived. We stopped her. Her thralls and the corpses were controlled by nanites, just like we were. She doesn’t have them anymore. Or a body, for that matter. Hopefully something went wrong with her and that’s why it fell. With any luck she’s dead for good now. We did it, Luci. We stopped her.” She leaned over and kissed Lucia on the cheek.
“We did. We actually did. I can hardly believe it.” Lucia replied. “It’ll be a hell of a report, but I guess I’ll have plenty of time to write it, seeing as we never did get that fuel. It’ll be months before we get back home. I’ll probably get fired honestly, maybe even arrested.” Niarith’s voice gained a tinge of sadness. “ We’ve definitely caused irreversible damage to your planet’s culture and scientific advancement. With any luck, the report will explain it well enough, and they won’t charge us with cultural contamination. But my job is likely lost either way.”
Lucia put an arm around Niarith “You lose your job, I lose my home, we’ve both lost things, but… we’ve both gained something too. Each other.”
Niarith turned and stared at Lucia for a moment, then laughed. “What the hell was that? I’ve never heard someone so earnestly spout such cheesy bullshit.” She continued laughing
“I was trying to be romantic, you dolt!” Lucia leaned over and kissed her. They simply sat together for a while, staring into the void, Niarith thinking of home, Lucia thinking of the wonders awaiting her beyond, and seeing them with Niarith.
Eventually Lucia stood up, and went to her room to change into her own clothing again. As the door closed, the lights flickered, briefly turning a bluish color. Lucia found that odd, but paid it little mind. As she fumbled with the bodysuit, trying to figure out to get it off, the door to her room opened. Niarith stood in the doorway, her bodysuit halfway off, hanging around her waist. “Hey there, lover.” She said, her voice sultry. Lucia just stared, excitement growing. Niarith slowly, sensually, made her way across the room to Lucia. As she got closer, Lucia noticed something off about her. The way she moved was unlike her, but she couldn’t place how. Niarith was right in front of her now, she reached out, putting one hand on Lucia’s shoulder, the other gently grabbing her chin, forcing her to look up… right into Niarith’s glowing teal eyes. Lucia suddenly understood, a wave of terror running through her. “Or perhaps… I should call you.. Plaything?” Lucia’s terror was quickly replaced by a growing blankness, and a desire to serve.