Grewishka was unnerved by how confidently Little Flea held herself. He had taken her by surprise and inflicted an injury but her body had repaired itself within seconds. She turned and gave him a look that clearly told Grewishka that not only was she no longer afraid of him, but she barely even considered him to be worth her time anymore.
"You're just his slave. And I'm just an insignificant girl."
The way Little Flea looked at Grewishka made him angry. She had embraced her identity and even wore the title of "Insignificant Girl" with pride. If she considered herself insignificant but still thought Grewishka was beneath her, what did that say about his significance?
Grewishka shot out one of his finger tendrils but Alita slashed through it with a lazy flick of her sword. As he withdrew the severed tendril, it dawned on him that she was no longer the little girl he had torn apart in the scrapyard. Back then, she had been terrified. She'd done a good job of hiding it but Grewishka had terrorised and slaughtered enough people to know that her defiance had been a mask to hide her fear.
The woman standing before him didn't need a mask because she had no fear to hide. She was so confident, calm and focussed that Grewishka knew his days of intimidating her were over. Their roles had been reversed and Grewishka had a terrifying feeling that he was out of his depth this time. He glanced at Vector uncertainly and the black skinned man's eyes flashed blue. It was only for a second but it was all Grewishka needed. His entire existence revolved around serving Nova and his master had limited tolerance for failure.
Grewishka send more tendrils flying towards Alita but she easily dodged or slashed through them all, swiftly closing the distance between them. Grewishka's eyes widened in fear as she leapt into the air, plasma blazing around the Damascus Blade as she swung it down in what was certain to be a killing blow.
I'm the Little Flea, Grewishka realised.
Then the blow landed.
Alita didn't even face Grewishka as his two halves separated. She briefly felt a flash of pity for the huge cyborg, who had clearly lived his entire life as a slave and nothing more, but decided not to waste time feeling sorry for him. If anything, she had done him a favour by putting him out of his misery. She approached Vector, who cowered away from her.
"Speak," Alita snapped.
"What do you want me to say?" Vector whimpered pathetically. Alita glared at him with disgust. More than anything, more than manipulating her boyfriend, rigging the Motorball games and murdering cyborgs after Hugo harvested their parts, it was the man's cowardice that repulsed her. At least Grewishka had gone down fighting.
"Not you," she spat contemptuously, "Him."
Vector relaxed. Alita wasn't interested in him. Nova would take it from here. He turned to her and had never felt more grateful for the discomfort that came whenever the mad scientist possessed him. Straightening, Vector allowed Nova to control his body and take a seat. He was vaguely aware of the conversation that followed but didn't pay much attention to it, trusting Nova to handle the girl.
What did get his attention was a sharp pain in his chest as Alita thrust the Damascus Blade through his heart. He was suddenly aware that the girl's petite frame was pressed against him, almost like she was hugging him. At first, Vector thought she was trying to kill him with kindness and this was a comforting gesture. Then she whispered something into his ear and he realised that she was more likely anticipating the moment when she would do this to Nova and wanted to get an idea of what a human body felt like as it was dying.
"You just lost a puppet," Alita hissed so close to Vector's ear that he could feel her breath. He was suddenly struck by the realisation that, although it wasn't mandatory for them, cyborgs actually could breathe. This girl was alive and all the cyborgs he'd slaughtered had been too. Vector tried to choke out a response. He didn't know what he wanted to say but even if he did, it wasn't his own voice that spoke.
"Oh. That looks fatal," Nova said, so calmly that he might have been commenting on the weather. Vector felt the energy drain out of his body but he still couldn't speak. Nova found Alita so engaging that that he wouldn't even allow Vector to say any last words. He simply continued the conversation while his puppet was dying on the floor. The girl watched but Vector knew she wasn't really looking at him. He wasn't worth her time.
"You've made the biggest mistake of your life," Alita said, speaking with a quiet confidence that sent a shudder down Vector's spine.
"And what's that?" Nova replied, still secure in the knowledge that he was far above them in Zylem.
"Underestimating who I am."
The last thing Vector saw was Alita's expression. It was a look that clearly said she was going to make Nova pay when - not if but when - she found him. The last thing Vector thought was that Nova wouldn't be so confident when she turned that gaze directly on him.