A Woman's Weapons

She waved after them until the door had closed, with only the usual layer of sand on the floor a reminder of the cruel world outside. Hastily she cleaned it away. He would not want to see it upon his return - in fact, he would take it as personal insult. The grand Khan was just a psychotic, almost pathetic creature, if not for the power he held over his followers and wife.

Oh yes, she still could remember how weak her knees had gotten when he had forced her down on the floor - what a wonderful, archaic feelings of surrender had filled her that day. He was but a dream of man, of the male principle that would never die in the collective memory of humans. That he had chosen her was a blessing, and with a wink of his hand her former life, her career plans and - she learned later - her self-esteem were gone. Like a sheep she followed him into the exile, and she had really believed that he was worth it.

How stupid can hormones make a woman? Endlessly, obviously. Total brain dissection couldn't have rendered her more irrational than his spell had done. And so she lost everything in one small minute, and gained nothing in the end. Well, Khan did love her. In his own way, the way that a god loves the believers at his feet: criticism is blasphemy, worship is everything. For some months she could meet his wishes, but then she finally awakened on the day he executed the one of his kinsmen who was insane enough to speak up against him. A lot of blood flew out of his cut throat, while the group cheered and swore to Khan by their own blood once more, too.

That they ate the dead man later was only logical from her historian's point of view and taking into account the fact that they were almost starving to death, now that the flora and fauna of their planet was buried under the sand. The flesh tasted unusually sweet, but she ate what Khan put on her plate. It was less than the others got, as she was not much worth for the genetic pool - Khan might have chosen her as wife, but as Marla she was only fit to keep the kitchen for the mighty beings that surrounded her.

It didn't matter any longer, she thought as she opened the glass and got hold on the Ceti eel with the big tongs. She had found the perfect solution, which would make her immortal for Khan - for all it was worth.

She fetched one of the eel's children with the other tongs and carefully dropped it into her helmet, then dropped a second child into a far away corner of the room. She hoped it would kill Khan, but she knew the chances were minimal. Well, wasn't hope always dying last?

Carefully she rotated the helmet until the small eel had crouched deep into the protective layers - right in time, for some dumb sounds were announcing the return of the group. When the door opened, she turned her head to greet them. And for once, her smile was true.