My fingers press against his cheeks, the white cream soft as I spread it across his chin. His body tenses, as the nails on my fingers lightly brush against his pulse.
His eyes, a dark violet, stare wildly at me. He watches my every move as I toy with the razor in my other hand.
“Don't be so nervous.”
His pulse quickens beneath my forefinger as I complete the spread, licking my fingers when I’m done.
From beneath his nose to the end of his neck, the shaving cream is swirled in small circles. His beard, thick with coarse hair, makes him look older.
The weight of the razor presses down on my hand.
He flinches when it touches his skin. The beard, grown so meticulously to make himself appear older, wiser, grander, falls to the floor.
When I'm done, the shaving cream is gone and the clean shaven face of the man who ordered my brother’s assassination sits before me.
I snarl and he flinches in his bindings.
I've tied him to his desk chair as I sit on his desk. Leaning forward, I brush a black nail against the fresh flesh on his face. A line of pink, then blood drips down.
Eyes of dark violet, black hair brushed back and kept short. He sits still, the piano wire digging into his wrists.
“You should be happy I took such consideration of you. I even wrapped you up in your gift.” I smile broadly, my jagged teeth gleaming from the blinking red lights above I pluck the piano wire wrapped across his chest. He flinches, gritting his teeth. “You always did have a penchant for human things, didn’t you? If I remember correctly, you gave me a flower once from Earth. A rarity from your...mother’s collection.”
He doesn’t respond.
I look back at the door to his office. “Your reinforcements are taking their time. Don't you think so?”
“I know what you want, but killing me won't bring the boy—”
I cut him off by reaching for the piano wire at his wrist. He silences himself, his eyes on my small fingers, my long black talons, the veins proof of hardship and labors done.
Our eyes meet for the first time in many years and I feel as if I could break down and cry before him. His voice is deeper than I remember.
He's still a kind sounding man, however.
I pull my hand back as he sucks in a breath. “Killing me will give you nothing.”
"You're wrong." I pull him closer to me by his collar. His uniform is as flashy as expected, a deep blue with white trimming at the cuffs and collar. I snarl. “It will give me everything.”
“It was my duty to send the soldiers. It was an order from my superiors, I had to deliver it.”
I lean back, running my nails against the edge of his desk.
"Do you know why I kill the way I do?” I ask. “Tearing them apart with my bare hands? My teeth?”
He scowls in disgust.
I grab him by the throat, the column of his neck, my talons wringing out droplets of blood. “Fear is contagious. It debilitates and shakes you. Reveals the truth.” I squeeze a little harder, his face paling, his body struggling for air.
“Fear makes them remember me. It makes them remember why I do this, what you’ve all done wrong!”
“I have no choice. Don't you see? I can't stop.” I say breathlessly as tears well in my eyes.
His violet eyes stare back at me, filled with anger. The longer he looks at me, however, the quicker they begin to change, soften.
I release his throat allowing him to breath.
“I don't need your pity!” I scream wildly as I stand on his desk. The screen of his desk-board cracks under my weight. I watch as the holo-screen at my knees glitches, shuffling through photos, files, and then turns blue.
I jump down from the table, staring at the wall to my right.
The only door in and out of the General's office is sealed shut.
“You can't get out. Not without dying or being taken prisoner.”
I turn, fixing my eyes on him, dilating them from their slim vertical position, making them go from red to black as I watch his pulse thump softly beneath his neck. I hop back onto the table in a single stride, the bloodied bandages on my bare feet littering the table top.
“Entinen Rakkaus.” The General straightens in his seat. “Meeka, please—”
“General, give me what I want and we can avoid the screaming part.”
“Are you offering me a quick death?” The General scoffs.
“We both know how this is going to end. Don’t lie to me now.”
My pupils return to their vertical position, my eyes zooming out from his moving lips.
“I have never offered mercy before, General.” As I lean in closer, I take in his scent. Blood mixed with acrid sweat and the smell of fresh grass.
He smells the same as he once did when we were young.
“You are the first to whom I offer this, and you will be the last. Consider it, Entinen Rakkaus. Please.”
Our eyes meet again, but I don't flinch. I scan the expression on his face, his pupils dilating, his pulse quickening.
“It was easier then, wasn’t it?”
My brows furrow as I cross my bare calves under me. My pants, torn at the knees press against my skin as I wriggle uncomfortably. I pick at my talons as I watch him talk. He looks at me, brow sweating.
“You...we would have been married—”
“You and I both know that never would have happened. Even if the King of Murea had decided not to declare war on Devka..” The red lights above caste a strange hue on my fingertips. “And even if it did...you would have still had to wait for me. We would not have been married until Prince—” My words are lost on the tip of my tongue. I look away from him.
“We were young then Entinen Rakkaus. The Muren Empire was the beloved by the kingdom of Planet Devka. They chose to destroy any chance of peace.”
“I never understood why it happened, only that it was necessary. I asked no questions, I didn’t have the power or the authority to do so. There was an order to capture the Prince and Princess of Devka, so I sent my men to find you both.” He looks up to me. “I did not order them to kill you or your brother, Meeka. I swear to you that those words came not from my lips.”
“But you sent them!” I scream.
“Even if I hadn’t, someone else would have. To disobey the Muren Empire’s order is unthinkable. Princess, please!”
“Your father didn’t believe it to be unthinkable. He! He knew what was right—what the cost would be.”
“The former General believed in superstition and mythology brought to him by story tellers and mythologists. It cost him his life!”
I smirk. “He was right. Within a month of shedding blood on our world, half the fleet sent to Devka was slaughtered. Your Empire should have heeded those superstitions.”
“Violence is in your nature, is that not what they said?” Entinen Rakkaus gazes at the door behind me. “It was in your blood—the descendants of the most violent race in the universe. But I loved you all the same. I would have waited for the Prince to ascend the throne as is Devkan tradition. I professed so before the Queen, your mother, herself.”
I grab his face, his chin between my thumb and first finger. My talons lengthen until they reach the corner of his eyes. “And yet here we are, faced with the reality of things. The past is done, decisions made. Make a new one. Your answer Entinen Rakkaus. I grow weary of reminiscing with you.”
“What does it matter now? It’s been years since the Muren Empire took over your world. One angry woman cannot do anything alone. You want vengeance, but you’ll only receive death.”
My lips curve into a small smile, just the edges of my teeth glinting red in the dim flashing light. “Then what of your family? Your son, your daughter of eight months, and that little wife of yours? The one with the long red hair and thick arms. Strong enough to hold you in.”
His eyes narrow. He rises slightly, puffing out his chest as he straightens himself. He flinches slightly as the wires cut deeper.
“You didn’t think I knew about them.” I grab his shirt feeling the muscles beneath, his chair slamming against the desk. My lips press against the small lobe of his ear. “But I did. It’s only been two years since then and you’ve already gone and found another. But I have them.”
His lips quiver. “You lie.”
“Even I make friends when necessary, Entinen Rakkaus.”
He inhales slowly, his body shaking. “Meeka...”
“Don’t you dare address me as if you know me so well!”
The General cringes as I speak. "Tell me where they are. Where are my mother and father?"
His shoulders tremble as he whispers in my ear where to go next. As I lift my hand, spreading my talons wide, the General squeezes his eyes shut in expectation.
“To think, you would have been my husband all those years ago.” I squeeze his face harder and snap my teeth in front him, growling. “All you had to do was warn us, and I would have forgiven you.”
“Everyone must bow before the Muren Empire. There is no other option, Princess Meeka. If the King of Murea wanted it, then the Prince was bound to die. I didn’t give the order to kill him or you—they must have received orders from a superior in secret from the King himself.”
I pull out a needle from within a second compartment in the sheath. I smile as I hold it up, the needle slim, nearly invisible. Silver with spots of black wiz around inside. “Usually, I’d tear you apart with my bare teeth while you screamed in agony, but you’re a special case. I don’t think I could stand it, killing you that way. After everything I’ve done, everything I’ve seen and heard, I still can’t.”
Entinen stares at the needle and vial as I take it into my fist. “We had a deal.”
I slam it into his upper thigh. “I lied.”
I can smell it as the signals in his brain start to fire, his face turning red as the serum shoots up his veins, turning them blue as soon as I push the stopper. It courses through his blood stream, suffocating him, burning him. I watch as he struggles, blood—now black—pours from beneath the wires at his wrists and ankles. I turn, before he knocks his chair over.
I watch the emergency door bend inward as soldiers begin to breach it.
General Entinen Rakkaus stares back at me, unable to scream as the serum runs its course. His skin blisters and cracks, his veins a deep purple now, and his mouth spews muck. I feel hollow as I look at him. His body quivers as he tries to speak, to fight the serum and the wires cutting at him as he lies on the floor. I look away from him, and jump up into the ventilation system.