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SM: Twilight Battle

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  • Lowell Boston
    Pain brought her back to consciousness, followed by a scream that took Breanna Webstrider too many seconds to realize it was her own. The source of the pain
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2005
          Pain brought her back to consciousness, followed by a scream that took Breanna Webstrider too many seconds to realize it was her own. The source of the pain was obvious. She had been impaled through her left shoulder by an Archaen Warsaw.

          With trembling fingers she wrenched her hand around the pommel embedded to the hilt in her shoulder, and ripped the meter long blade from her body. Her face contorted as she screamed. The thrice-damned, blood stained, gleaming Cirrillian steel sword seemingly had no end. Then its sharpened end came out and she dropped it to the deck of the Selesthian ship.

      Her vision tunneled, she fell to her knees and vomited.

          A constellation of colors danced around her as she regained consciousness once more. With a surge of will she drew herself up and tenderly looked at the slotted wound on her shoulder, just above her breast. She was pleased to see it was healing, the spell she placed upon it after her arrival on the ship was working well.

          The ship - quickly she looked around and was please to see that she was actually on the bridge of the Selesthian shuttle. Her Sending spell had safely taken her to its bridge moments before the... Archaen assassins  - were they Archaens? She had never seen their faces, and their armor wasn't typical of those Human oafs, yet their weapons... . Shaking her head she dismissed the notion. She had more bigger flies to web, as the saying went.

          Scanning her surrounding she was pleased to see that the ship was currently traveling at a sublight speed on a heading for Selesth, the Selesthian sun. The living vessel had sustained heavy damage, undoubtedly in the launch (or explosion... dimly she remembered something about an explosion) but there was nothing that she could do about that. Her mission, after all, was a one way trip. When she
      had mystically arrived she was able to set the ship's automated launch codes, and cast a healing spell upon herself. The thrust of the launch must have knocked her out for several minutes. Thinking back on their ambush in the docking bay she supposed she was lucky to be alive. With a deep breath the Priestess-Commander tried to stand, felt dizzy and dropped to her knees again.

          *Blood loss,* she thought, "Or poison!"

          Her eyes sought the Archaen blade. It lay only a few meters away, yet there was something... odd about it. A small crystal set in the weapon's hilt was projecting a wide beam of light above it. Slowly her eyes traced it.

          "You're probably in a lot of pain about now," said the avatar.

          "You again!" sneered the Dark Elf. Reflexively her hands move to cast a Find Spell, but her arms shook with a troubling spasm that wracked her with pain forcing her to drop them to her side.

          "Correction... now you're in pain," replied the man she knew as Diplomat. Breanna studied the being who had tried to stop her mission of martyrdom.

          "What have you done to me?!" demaned the Dr'owe.

          "Nothing I'm proud of," he replied. He lowered his chin as if to indicate the sword below
          him. "A warsaw is built with nano-serrated edges. When you were impaled I released several
          thousand of them into your bloodstream where they have now anchored themselves to
          the nerve endings of your extremities. Any extraneous movements on your part and...
          well, you get the picture."

          "So you Archaen bastards finally show your traitorous hand," spat the Dr'owe. Diplomat quirked
      his head.

          "Whoever said I was Archaen."

          Breanna bored her eyes into the opaque face plate of the avatar's image, struggling to recall anything that may have tipped her off to the man's identity. So far his speech and mannerism seemed Archaen - at least from what she knew of them, yet Diplomat and his men's armor were not consistent with those worn by the members of the Assassin-Guardian Order. And yet, he and his men fought as
      equals among the Xin~Arachnia. Few could do so, and live... save perhaps a Listhani Ranger... or... or an Omnet Vestis! Suddenly, Breanna measured the man in a entirely different way.

          "Who are you, and what do you want?"

          "First, you may be happy to know that that the Ring Station survived the missile attack."

          "YOU LIE!" roared the Priestes-Commander. Diplomat shrugged.

          His image blurred and was replaced by another showing what appeared to be a remote feed of the Ring Station itself. Its once symmetrical circle was now slightly warped, peppered by numerous plasma fires throughout its outer ring, but otherwise it was intact.

          "A fabrication. A simple facsimile." countered the Dr'owe. Diplomat's avatar returned. His head lowered and shook.

          "Pretty much figured you'd say that." Raising his left hand a series of deft hand signals were executed.

          "All right, I've rendered the nanos inert. Now, check your own sensor board."

      Breanna raised her hand and cautiously wiggled her fingers.

          "However... if you, even for and instant, try anything, I'll detonated the Warsaw...
          taking out you, and a great part of your bridge."

          The Dark Elf suspiciously eyed the Archaen blade before slowly turning for the operation boards of the helm and tactical stations. Quickly her fingers began to punch up a midrange scan of the station itself. Inward she plotted the best way to rid herself of the man...Vestis... whoever he was. The Q~DED on her hip was still functioning. With a thought she could cast a spell - several in fact, but without
      the use of her hands they would lack precision and focus. Also, what if this Diplomat were beyond the range of her spells? No. Escape lay in the man's sword. He was obviously watching and broadcasting himself through it. If she could only...

      She stopped.

          "Queen's blood..." she whispered.

      The Station appeared exactly as he had shown her. Burning, damaged, but there.

          "No..." she uttered. "This is a trick. Some how you're feeding into the sensors
          showing me what you want me to see."

      Once more Diplomat shook his head.

          "Honor-Breanna... you have my word that it's not."

          "Why should I believe the word of a man who wants to kill me."

          "Because I could have done that sometime ago, while you lay unconscious
          on the bridge. Even during the battle. I have no interest in killing you, only
          stopping you."

          "You... you know of my mission, or our oper..."

      Diplomat raised his hand.

          "Nay. In truth I know nothing. I was told only to stop you from leaving
          the station - at all cost, but preferably without the loss of lives."

      He paused, allowing her to anticipate his next words.

          "However, I may not be able to do one... without doing the other."

      Breanna considered his meaning, then said,

          "Who? Who order you to do so, and how was the station saved?"

          "As to you first question... my superiors wish to remain anonymous.
          As to the other... the Archaen's sacrificed one of their own ships to destroy
          the bulk of the incoming missiles."

          "By the Queen..." she whispered again.

          "Aye that. You've survived the K'tan's first volley. Return, Honor-Breanna.
          Turn your ship around and head back to the station. The counter-attack will
          soon begin and your allies will need a skilled commander."

      Breanna considered his words. Seconds passed, until she resolutely shook her head.

          "No. I have my orders. Kill me if you will, but I will not fail my First Matron"

      Lifting her chin she raised her voice.

          "Ship.., resume course, maximum spe..."

          "Wait!" shouted Diplomat. To his surprise she did.

          "It seems I have failed to win your trust. If I do, if you
          truly see that the station is safe, will you stand down?"

          "And how do you propose to do that?" asked the Dr'owe.

          "Contact her - your First Matron, and verify your orders.
          Use your magic to ensure the channel is clean. If she is alive
          then you will know I have spoken the Truth."

          "And if she commands me to carry on?" challenged the Dr'owe. Once more Diplomat shrugged.

          "Then you and I both have our duties to perform."

          A heavy silence hung between the two as Breanna considered his words. Magically, with a gesture she could remove the Warsaw from the ship, but could she do so before it would detonate? She was healing from her wound, but the blood loss was substantial. Would she be fast enough? Once more she studied the avatar of the man who seemed to have assumed a casual pose. Her hands balled into fist.

          "Very well... Diplomat. Let us see what fate the Queen has spun for us."

          Pulling in a cleansing breath Breanna began to cast a Calling spell. Almost immediately the counter- active effects of the Selesthian Q-dex began to effect her concentration, exasperated more by the raging Quantum storm. He brows knotted as seeds of sweat began to bead her face.

          *MOTHER... * called her mind. Silence followed. *MOTHER... are you there?*

          Nothing came as a reply, and then... a presence, ghostly at first, but building until the tangible will of her mother's mind was connected to hers.

          *Who?... Breanna?!*

          *Yes! Mother... are you well?*

      The contact wavered for three single heart beats, then reaffirmed.

          *Breanna.... thank the Queen. I have... been...*

      Another pause.

          Injured.... the attack to the station...*

          *Mother... is it true? We survived the onslaught?*

          *Yes... barely. Have... have you!?...*

          *I'm on course to complete the.... *

          *No! Turn away. Several missiles are heading for the Selesthian Homeworld!*

          Another break, and Breanna could feel the mental sensation of her mother coughing. Secretly she wondered how fatal her injuries were.

          *Need... you to... marshall... surviving forces... serve as... liaison
          with... Trinity Fleet.*

      More wracking coughs, only this time Breanna could feel her mother's contact fade.

          "Mother... you believe we... we will be victorious?..."

          *This battle is far from over. Untill... do not... fail me.*

          *MOTHER!* But the touch was gone, and the Preistess-Commander was once more alone. Almost. Opening her eyes she found the translucent avatar of Diplomat studying her.

          "It seems the Queen has favored us for another day," she said, breaking the silence.

          "I am pleased to hear that. Upon your return I will remove the nanos from
          your body."

      Breanna shook her head.

          "I must decline. I... I have new orders that will take me elsewhere."

          "I see. Then perhaps our paths will cross again. After all,
          I would like to see that Warsaw returned to its rightful
          owner."

          Breanna studied the blade suspiciously and quirked a grin. She would be a fool to believe that he would let her go so easily. She had no doubt that they would meet again.

         "Perhaps," she answered. Manually she entered the course corrections.

          "Honor-Breanna... one more thing."

      she turned and regarded the man.

          "Most of your men are alive, and attended to by the Selesthian medical staff,
          including your Captain Hax."

      Breanna's expression became puzzled.

          "And?..."

          "Thought you'd like to know. In the event that you should need them...
          or me, the sword will help you find us."

      With that the avatar began to fade.

          "Take care, Honor-Breanna. Your back is watched."

          "Of that I have no doubt."

      Around the shuttle the Quantum storm raged on as Breanna headed for the Selesthian Homeworld.
       

      __________________________________
       

      Special thanks to Frank Vittoe
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

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