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Excerpt from my Science Fiction novel Silence's Kiss by J. L. Young

Syrane tapped an above floor and as the disk rose, she leaped off, colliding with the nearest guard, freeing his weapon from his hand. She twisted her body, coiling both legs while firing her pistol twice. The armed guard stood motionless as she landed. He collapsed as the other fell forward down the shaft.

The remaining guard struggled to move. As his fingertips contacted his weapon, Syrane stepped on it, wrenched the pistol from his grasp, and omnetically attached it to her tasset. She glanced at the security door. “Is that the Praetor’s apartment?”

The guard was stubborn and didn’t answer.

Assuming it was the Praetor’s apartment, “What is the code?”

He remained silent.

Syrane grabbed him by the nape of the neck, dragged him to the door, and slammed his face into it. “Put in the code.”

He was losing blood rapidly. His eye strained to look at the keypad. She assisted him in raising his hand to the pad. He pressed the first character, followed by several others. The servo inside clicked.

The Eunukan pulled him back while pushing the door open and dropped him against it. A projectile narrowly missed her visor as she glanced into the space. She switched to the guard’s weapon, extended it, and chose the image of a fan. The main barrel split as though it underwent mitosis. Two other barrels flipped forward. She angled the rifle into the doorway and pressed the actuator. Nothing happened. She retracted to determine the fault.

The wounded guard chuckled, but it turned to pain. “That mode has never worked, off-worlder.”

The Eunukan closed the rifle and attached it to her tasset, grabbed the wounded Arctosiak by the leg, and used him as a shield. She lunged into the corridor and slammed into the guards stationed there. Her speed caught them unprepared.

The inner door gave way as the guard fell, rolled, and slid lifelessly into an atrium. Near the back wall, sitting on the bed, was a sickly Arctosiak. He looked up from his fallen guard to find the Eunukan standing in the doorway, blood dripping from her sword.

“Impressive, Captain,” He said as he sat down his drink and patted his lips with a napkin.

“You know me?”

“I’ve been watching your career here. It is a shame, you had potential.” He looked beyond the being before him. “They were my best.”

She tilted her head toward the guard and back to the aged Arctosiak. “Where’s Mnaya?”

A coughing fit began. He covered his mouth with the napkin. When the fit settled, he wiped his mouth. “That is a name I haven’t heard in some time.”

“Where is she?”

“You desire information. You’ll have to negotiate for it.”

“What do you want?”

“I haven’t left this apartment ever since I fell ill. The people will think me weak and revolt if they knew of my condition.”

“What is your condition?” She asked.

“My physician doesn’t know. Neither did the last one. I grow tired of the endless agony and fatigue.” He took a labored breath. “I feel it is terminal, but it is taking too damn long. I will give you the information you seek if you will expedite my death.”

“I thought compassion was an insult and a crime among your people.”

“To allow a Yajen to needlessly suffer carries with it a greater penalty.”

“Take your weapon in hand.”

The Praetor lifted the edge of his mattress and unsheathed his sword. It gleamed in the artificial light. A wry smile crossed his face. “I see you have been imbued with a sense of honor. A terrible thing to burden someone with.”

He lunged from his bed with an upward cut. Syrane sidestepped the attack and parried. Their blades beat in sequence and fell into lock. She felt his feebleness, yet his strength endured. Her claws dug into his wrist. He retreated to recover.

Yajen glanced at the dripping wrist. “Perhaps I was wrong about honor. The taste is sweet.” He re-engaged.

Syrane parried another attack and kicked him. He slid onto the floor and hit the bed. She stepped forward with the tip aimed at her opponent. “Mnaya?”

“Do you promise to give me a death worthy of a warrior?”

“I do.”

“I searched for her throughout my empire. When interrogated, her acquaintances disclosed she booked passage off-world on a Suvavarion cargo hopper before succumbing to their injuries. I have given you what you want. Do it now.”

Jad Yajen threw his sword aside, climbed to his knees, and rested on his heels. With his head down, he waited. He felt the tip against his nape. He smiled. A sharp sting traveled through his spine. His vision tunneled.

The Magister’s sword clanged as she dropped it and retrieved the Praetor’s sword.

Syrane left the sphere through the sally ports. Several of the guards were taken out. Shots worthy of merit. Snow had built up on the quiet street. ‘Nai Korundi, do you read?’ She thought. The Uru’ye’s grating voice didn’t echo through her mind. After climbing through the abandoned building, Syrane found the lance cat gutted. Close to him, nai Korundi. Her body had been stripped, and the same was done.

After climbing the wall, Syrane rested. As she stood, Tika stepped out from behind the dropship accompanied by three armed Arctosiak. “I recognize the hilt of my father’s sword. I trust he died well?”

“Yes. He requested a warrior’s death. I gave him one,” Syrane replied.

“Your compassion stained his death.”

“Your lack of it prolonged his suffering.”

“How dare you?”

“Come get your grand prize.”

Gohan 7 Dec 16
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