Tresayne Toria stared up the flagship ramp, eyes burning with intensity that her Mechari captors mistook for grief. When one reached for her scabbard, she covered its grip. "My sword is my badge of office. Visibly deprive me of it, and my people will never see you as other than subjugator."
The Mechari pondered and withdrew. "Your primitive ornamental weapon is harmless, Proceed."
Watched by hundreds of constructs, she followed a broad boulevard of sepulchral illumination curving upwards as her second-in-command’s last words reverberated in her mind: We swore to serve you to the death, sister. Some vow that if you leave…
Face burning with shame, Tresayne recalled her curt reply: Thank you for your service, Octavia, But this I must do alone.
Impossibly, it had been only days since the Eldan’s fleet had arrived blotting out the skies over Meridia, capital city of the Cassian Commonwealth. Their purpose: offer the greatest warrior in Cassian history the privilege of abduction in exchange formaking her people an empire. As to alternatives, the response was concise: "Board our flagship and your world will be spared."
Nearing the massive doors at the end of the hall, her escort turned to her: "Terms satisfied. Your world will be spared."
"I know.” Tresayne unsheathed her sword. Turrets swiveled, Warnings blared. She smiled, and stepped forward.
What followed she would later recall only as a half-remembered dream. Her blade moved like a fiery blur, slashing diagonally through cybernetic thoraxes and savagely severing metal heads. Attacking with blind instinct and carefully controlled fury, she waded through hundreds of mechanical foes, her progress marked by showers of sparks and geysers of molten circuitry. All fell before her, their remains scattered on the floor in piles of smoking ruin.
Bleeding from more than a dozen wounds, she approached the set of doors at the far end of the hall. They opened silently before her, the room beyond empty but for a lone figure perched serenely onan onyx chair. Sword held before her, Tresayne stalked forward.
"I am Axis Pheydra," the figure said. "Lower your weapon."
In response, Tresayne, threw her sword with lightning speed at Pheydra’s head. With a sound like ripping silk, it twirled through the air and sank hilt-deep in the back of the chair, quivering harmlessly through Pheydra’s sneer. A hologram, Tresayne realized dully. Of course.
"We chose you well." Pheydra rematerialized behind her. "You are indeed a fascinating specimen."
Glaring through blood-matted tresses, Tresayne unsheathed her dagger. "You knew I’d attack,"
"We calculated its high probability. As we did your survival."
"Did you calculate this?" She raised the blade to her throat. "I wish to renegotiate. My sisters come with me. They will share in my fate."
Pheydra studied her and nodded.
"That can be arranged."
Sheathing her dagger, Tresayne spat at the feet of the hologram, then turned to retrieve her sword.
"When do we leave?"