As Lucia stood, she felt that familiar feeling rising up in her. The anticipation, the excitement, she was going to kill. She reached him in a second, he had barely started to react when she wrapped her hand around his throat and slammed him back against the wall. “You really shouldn’t have fucked with me.” The way she said it, the growl in her voice, the anger, she’d missed it. She pulled back, and slammed him again. And again. And again. He was struggling, but Lucia hardly noticed. He tried to lift his gun arm, and she simply kneed him in the chest, knocking the wind out of him. “How’s that fancy armor treating you, you fuck?!” He doubled over in pain, and she swiftly kicked him over onto his side. Then she began stomping.
The scraping sound of the door opening briefly distracted her, but not enough to stop her. She just kept kicking and stomping on the man's helmet. He had stopped struggling, his visor was cracked, and the airtight housing around the neck had broken. She was vaguely aware of the sound of shouting, of the lights being pointed at her. She knew they were there. She knew they were aiming rifles at her. She didn’t care. This was her final kill. She was going to savor it. The man’s visor was shattered down the middle now, and blood was dribbling out of it.
She saw the bright red light of a laser weapon hit the wall near her head. She was about to die. She stared down at the man she’d killed. Had it been worth it? She didn’t know. She didn’t care. She’d needed it. It was done. And so was sh-
The entire ship rocked to one side, an immense sound of scraping metal and explosive impact filling Lucia’s ears. Maria felt her back slam into the wall behind her, followed by the impact of the corpse she’d just created on her front. She looked to the side, Niarith was laying against the same wall… and her eyes were glowing teal.
Maria felt the ship violently rolling, as her ears stopped ringing and she heard a blaring alarm, as well as screams. Over the nearly deafening cacophony she heard Mirideth’s synthetic voice overlaid with Niarith’s “Darlings! I’ve provided an escape! I suggest we take it before we die!”
The ship’s rotation slowed to a stop, and Maria sprang into action. She grabbed Lolanene by the arm and hauled her up over her shoulder. “Where to?” Mirideth simply motioned for her to follow, and ran out of the compartment. The ship was tilted oddly, and it seemed many of the crew were injured during whatever had just happened. No one was around who could stop them. They rounded a corner and Maria was shocked to see a gaping hole in the FIC ship. And through it... the loading ramp of the Epsilon VI. Maria knew better than to ask questions, and ran for the ship.
She felt a strange fizzling sensation as she crossed through the hole in the ship. She assumed that had been its shield, which seemed to also be keeping the atmosphere inside. She then realized that this meant there was no atmosphere in the airlock of the Epsilon VI. As she reached the top of the ramp, dimly aware of the others arriving as well, she felt another fizzling sensation. Inside her mouth. She realized this was her saliva boiling on her tongue just before she hit the floor.
She woke after what seemed like seconds. She was still lying on the floor. So was Lolanene. Niarith was across the room, lying unconscious sitting against the wall, her hand unceremoniously shoved into the electronics behind a hastily removed wall panel. The lights were flickering between their normal color and a lightish blue. The Ship’s PA system crackled to life. “Oh good, I haven’t killed you. Wouldn’t want to be stuck like this forever.” The lights flickered in time with Mirideth’s voice over the PA system.
Maria just laid there, confused beyond words, and disoriented by the sudden exposure to vacuum. “Wh.. isNirthokay?” She slurred out, her face never leaving the floor.
“Oh she’s fine, Plaything, think nothing of it. She’ll wake up good as new once I pull myself out of here.” Mirideth’s voice over the speakers was identical to the voice she’d had while in her body. It was disturbing for Maria to hear again.
Maria managed to push herself up off the floor. “What did you do?”
“Oh my sweet Plaything, haven’t you worked it out by now? I entered this ship. After abandoning my own. During our silly little dogfight over my citadel. Is it so hard to believe I simply left part of myself in it? And thus, have a certain level of… control… over it?”
Maria glared up at the flickering lights “You mean you’ve had the ability to remotely pilot our ship this whole time?”
Mirideth giggled “That I have, my Plaything, that I have…”
“But you… I… I was shot down in this ship and nearly died! And you’re telling me you could have helped me and didn’t?!”
Another mirthful giggle “Why yes, Plaything. I am. You survived, and you picked up your lovely little stray there, it all worked out, didn’t it? You learned valuable lessons! Besides, I was busy trying not to fall to the same dizzying cacophony that your dear darling Niarith had.”
Maria just stood there, dumbfounded. Finally, she said “I’m not sure I’ve ever outright said it Mirideth… I fucking hate you.”
The reply was simply “I know.”
Maria knelt down to check on Lolanene, she was breathing and everything, she seemed okay. “So what happened? Did you fly us out of there?”
“Only after dealing with the FIC ship.”
Maria stood again, looking up to speak to Mirideth, even though there was no need to. “What do you mean ‘dealing with the ship’?”
“I mean, Plaything, that the FIC troops on said ship will not be reporting about our escape. Because they’ll be far too busy being dead.”
Maria thought about that for a moment. “Well, I guess it’s hard to get in any more trouble, why not kill a ship full of cops?” The sarcasm was dripping from her words. “Mirideth do you have any idea the amount of heat you’ve been putting on us? We were in enough trouble with the Ninia thing. Then you killed six cops. And now you just killed I don’t even know how many more!”
The lights flashed more violently as Mirideth spoke “You are one to talk, Assassin! Do you think I didn’t know who you were, that night you arrived in my throne room? I knew you. I knew how many you’d killed, everything you did before that night, I knew. You speak of killing as if you find it abhorrent… you disgusting little hypocrite. I was there, in the FIC ship, you know, Plaything. I saw the joy you took in ending that man’s life. You claim to want to be more than a killer, but look at yourself! You love killing. Embrace it, Plaything.”
The lights began to glow brighter, and Maria found herself staring into them. A strange sort of smokey haze seemed to be falling from them. Enveloping Maria’s senses. “That’s it, Plaything. We both know what you are, what you long to be, to do.”
Maria tried to think her way around Mirideth’s words, but they just seemed so true. Why had she tried to remove a part of herself? Why shouldn’t she embrace who she was?
“You, My Plaything, are a killer. A murderer. You know this. You want this. Maria is long dead. Maria doesn’t matter. You are Lucia, you are an assassin. You love killing.”
Maria found her lips moving without any conscious effort to do so “I… love… killing…” The words flowed from her without thought, and it felt… wrong… yet.. Good. So good. She did love killing. She’d proven it to herself on the FIC ship.
“You’re Lucia Carlena. You are a killer. Accept it. Surrender to the truth, Lucia.”
“Surrender.. truth..” She knew Mirideth was right. She knew it felt good to kill. She knew who she was. She was Lucia. And she always would be. As the lights dimmed and that strange haze faded, she felt… dizzy. Confused.
Lucia wasn’t sure what had just happened. They had escaped the FIC ship and.. What? She’d.. Passed out. The airlock had been in vacuum. She remembered now. Strange that she only fell to her knees. But she was alive. She looked around, and saw Lolanene beginning to stir. Niarith was propped up against the far wall, her hand… inside the electronics behind the wall panels. She made her way over to her immediately, briefly stopping to make sure Lolanene was okay.
“Nia...?” She gently touched her love’s shoulder. No response, but she was breathing. She shook Niarith gently, still no response. Lucia lifted her head, and looked at her face. Her eyes were closed, but faintly glowing teal behind the lids. “Mirideth? Are you there?”
Lucia was surprised when the lights flashed teal and Mirideth spoke through the PA system. “Right here, Plaything. You remember, don’t you? You woke up once before, I told you already.”
The memories flooded back, strangely hazy and hard to distinguish, but Lucia remembered what Mirideth had said. “Right, you’re in the ship, and we’re safe for the moment.”
Lucia sighed. “Why do you insist on calling me that?”
“Because it makes you angry, darling Plaything. You look so cute when you’re angry.”
Lucia turned to face the ceiling “CUTE?!”
“Oh, see! Your cheeks flaring such a lovely shade of red, really brings out the scars.” Mirideth giggled.
Lucia turned around and roughly ripped Niarith’s hand from within the wall. The lights flickered and the entire ship shuddered, then went silent. She felt Niarith’s hand grip her own. “Mari?”
Lucia was confused. Who was Mari?