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Old 05-08-2014, 05:52 PM
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Default Birgitte Says I should be a fight scene choreographer.

A little exposition.

The Justice Keepers series is set in a universe where humans were taken from Earth over 10 000 years ago and scattered on similar planets across the galaxy. Some worlds have reached a point where they've achieved interstellar flight, others haven't. On Earth, it's the year 2014, exactly as we know it. Anna is from a space-faring world called Leyria.

She's bonded with a symbiont called a Nassai that allows her to bend gravity and space-time, but only for a few seconds at a time. To give an example of what I mean, she can make a bullet curve around her body by changing the shape of space. Using these abilities - even if only for a brief moment - causes tingling that quickly becomes fierce pain. That's why she only relies on them as a last resort.

And here we go.


Coloured light through the stained glass windows on either side of the church shone down on wooden pews that faced an altar atop a dais. The place was empty, but Anna felt it was good enough to start here. Her mind wondered at the fact that this small church on a back-end world that had not yet seen the invention of the automobile looked so much like the ones back home. And the ones on Earth.

Humans were humans anywhere in the galaxy. Perhaps there was something about stained glass that filled one with a sense of reverence. She couldn't be sure. Her faith in the Companion had always been strong, but her faith in organized religion of any kind was another story.

Anna stood in the aisle between the pews, dressed in a pair of brown cotton pants and a white sleeveless shirt. Her hair was kept in its standard ponytail with thin strands falling over her cheeks, but she had decided to adopt the local fashion.

Biting her lip, Anna craned her neck to stare out the window. She blinked a few times, lost in thought. “Well, here we are,” she muttered. “I always said I'd get around to visiting a low-tech planet.”

Her Nassai offered a sense of curiosity.

Even after all this time, it was still difficult for her symbiont to reveal his feelings to her. Jack's advice had been good; assigning him a gender had helped, but they still couldn't settle on a name. The Nassai seemed amused with her apprehension. Almost as though he was laughing at her.

Anna smiled down at the floor, her cheeks flaring red. She shook her head ever so slowly. “Well, you can't blame me for being cautious,” she told the symbiont. “When one survey teams found this planet, the locals started shooting.”

“Perhaps that is because of your odd ways.” Anna was aware of the heavy wooden door behind her swinging open before the speaker opened his mouth. Through her bond with the Nassai, she was able to perceive her environment through an enhanced sense of spatial awareness, the shape of every object around her made clear as a silhouette in her mind's eye. That was how she knew that the man who had entered the church was a rather portly fellow in a wide-brimmed hat.

And that he carried a rifle.

When she turned, she found that he was a older man, just shy of middle age, with thick brown beard along his jaw. “You're the... Justice Keeper,” he said, as though testing the word. “The representative from the stars.”

“I am.”

The man frowned, than lowered his eyes to the floor. He winced, clearly struggling with something. Our language, Anna noted. Leyrian doesn't come naturally to them. “I'm called Harl,” he said at last.

“Pleased to meet you, Harl,” Anna murmured, eying the rifle. “Are you planning to use that on me?”

It was a simple hunting rifle with a long black barrel and a wooden stock, but a gun didn't have to be sophisticated to be lethal. From the way the man held it, Anna could tell that he feared he might have to defend himself from her.

Anna lifted her chin to study the man, blinking as she considered her words. “My business here is simple,” she began. “One of our survey team was found dead near the outskirts of your town.”

Clenching his teeth, the man winced and shook his head. “You are not welcome in this place.”

“Well, I'm sorry to hear that, but-”

“You defy its sanctity.”

Sanctity? What in the Verse was he... The church. He wanted her to exit the church, and the gun was a bit of insurance in case she refused. Anna was of a mind to grant that wish – you didn't make friends by insulting other people's traditions – but she wanted him to put down the weapon first.

Crossing her arms, Anna felt a grin bloom. She bowed her head as a sign of respect. “Tell you what,” she began. “I'll happily leave this church, but I need you to gather your people and bring me someone who can translate-”

“You must leave the village.”


Before Harl could answer, another man stepped through the door behind him, this one much younger. Tall and slim, he had a handsome face without a trace of stubble and short black hair. “My father has difficulty communicating your language,” he began. “I am called Jed. The Village Council was very disappointed that Leyria chose you to be its representative.”

Anna bit her lip, scrunching up her face. She tossed her head about with enough force to make her temples throb. “And why is that?” she asked. “More importantly, can we put that aside for now and focus on the issue?”

Jed blushed with such ferocity it seemed as though he might burst a blood vessel. “I fear that we cannot,” he said, looking her up and down. “Your people sent a woman. This is most unholy.”

“Look, I don't have time for sexist-”

Harl lifted the rifle to point right at her, his face a mask of hatred and disgust. “Your man was killed by the demon woman!” he snapped. “Your presence here will only draw her attention.”

“Demon woman?”

Jed scowled, looking away as though this topic embarrassed him. From here, she could see sweat on his brow. “You are a warrior among your people,” he said. “You carry weapons and use them.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Women do not make war,” he went on. “Vaeden forbids it. 'Those who give life shall not take it.' Your people sin against the Almighty by allowing you to fight, and it is this sin that brings his wrath down upon us.”

Moving carefully down the aisle, Anna considered her words. In the back of her mind, she readied a Bending just in case Harl had a mind to pull that trigger. It was a simple thing to craft an image of warped space-time and then share it with her Nassai. The symbiont would remember and create that Bending the instant she asked. She used her spatial awareness to watch the man's finger without looking.“Among my people,” she began, “there are many women like me. I protect society from those who break the law. I am sorry this offends you.”

Speaking those words made her stomach churn – in her mind, any man who said that a woman had no business defending the innocent needed a good punch in the face – but she had to convince Harl to put that rifle down. “Now. My government will be happy to send a male representative but for now-”

Harl gestured with the rifle.

Anna winced, then let her head hang. Strands of red-gold hair fell over the sides of her face. “Listen to me,” she said, approaching. “I don't want to start a fight with you, but you have to put that weapon down.”

The man stood there with the rifle clutched in both hands, his face contorted in an expression of grief. “The Frigid Wastelands await a man who harms a woman,” he said. “But you are a demon.”

Anna brought a hand up to strike the rifle and knock it aside before it went off with a CRACK! She crouched and slammed a fist into the man's stomach. The impact sent him stumbling away.

Anna turned to find young Jed staring at her with his mouth agape. His face was slick with sweat and growing redder by the second. “You wretched little slut!” he called out, charging for her.

She leaped.

Twisting sideways in mid-air, Anna tumbled like a log over his head. She landed gracefully on her feet, bringing up both fists in a defensive stance. “I really don't want to have this fight.”

Jed still had his back turned.

Anna kicked the back of his leg, forcing him down onto his knees. When he hit the floor, he let out a gasp. She punched the back of his head.

A quick glance over her shoulder revealed that Harl had recovered and now turned on the spot to point his rifle at her. The man's hands shook, but he managed to keep them steady enough.

Anna spun to face him.

She fell backward, slapping hands down on the floorboards just before Harl's rifle went off with a flash of its barrel. Chunks of plaster fell out of the wall behind her, piling up on the floor.

Grabbing a book from the shelf beneath the nearest pew, Anna threw it and watched it tumble through the air. Harl adjusted his aim just in time to take a 500-page tome to the face. Spine first. That was the best.

In a blink, she was on her feet.

She charged across the room, then jumped and kicked out, driving a foot into the old man's chest. The impact drove him backward, right into the wall. He dropped his rifle and fell to his knees.

Rubbing her mouth with the back of her hand, Anna winced. She turned her face away from the man. “You guys really want to have your asses kicked,” she said. “Lucky for you, I'm not that kind of-”

Glass shattered.

The window above the altar blew apart in a thousand tiny shards, and a woman in black flipped through. She landed on her hands, thrusting feet into the air, then turned upright in a flash.

Tall and lithe, she wore leather from head to toe, her long black hair falling in a ponytail to the small of her back. Her face belonged on the cover of a magazine, with smooth copper skin and thin eyebrows. “I am Galeen Din Sabaar,” she hissed, drawing a knife from her belt.

“That supposed to mean something?” Anna shot back.

The woman drew herself up. Something about the way she looked at Anna. No, the way she didn't look at Anna. Dear Companion! This woman was blind!

Galeen Din Sabaar strode down the aisle between the pews with knife in hand, her lips drawing back from clenched teeth. “You are among the foreigners,” she hissed. “It is said that your kind are strong.”

Chewing on her lip, Anna squinted at the woman. She shook her head, suppressing a growl. “What is it with you people and violence?” she asked. “I've been here all of two hours, and you're all trying to kill me.”

Anna started up the aisle with a resolute expression. She lifted her chin, holding the other woman's gaze. “I'm not sure if you understand the words 'Justice Keeper' but better women then you have regretted challenging me.”

Standing in the aisle with feet apart, Galeen lifted the knife up in front of her face. Its thin blade caught a glint of sunlight. “These men must die,” she hissed. “They would see us both enslaved.”

“Or we could try talking-”

Galeen slashed at her face.

Anna ducked and felt the blade pass over her head. She punched Galeen's stomach with one fist then the other, then rose to back-hand her foe across the face. The blow hit hard enough to crack bone.

Falling backward, Galeen slammed hands down on the floor. She brought a leg up to kick the underside of Anna's chin. Disorientation set in as the world bounced about like a shuttle in an uncontrolled descent.

Through blurred vision, she saw the other woman snap herself upright. Galeen leaped and sailed over Anna's head.

She landed crouched in the middle of the aisle, then lifted her knife up by its tip. In one fluid motion, she threw the knife and watched it tumble end over end through the air, on course for its target.

The blade landed in Harl's forehead, buried to the hilt. With a wheeze, her dropped to the floor. From what Anna could tell, Jed was still dazed from that blow to the head, crawling across the floor.

Galeen stood with her back turned, perfectly still. She seemed to be taking in the sight. “A sinner dies,” she said, nodding to herself. “The Frigid Abyss accepts one more damned soul.”

Anna rounded on her, raising fists in a guarded stance. There was no doubt in her mind that this was the person who had killed Miles Loren. Why she would want to harm Leyrians was anybody's guess. “So, you're what? Some kind of avenging angel?”

Galeen spun around, tilting her head to the side. Those eyes... Fear crept into Anna's chest when she considered the possible explanations for this woman's fighting prowess. The most likely answer was a Nassai. That left her feeling cold. “You should stand with me,” Galeen said. “Side by side, we will show them a womans true strength.”

“No thanks,” Anna replied. “I'd rather-”

Galeen kicked high.

Anna ducked and let the woman's foot pass over her head. She rose just in time to watch Galeen regain her balance. The woman stepped forward, drew back her fist and threw a punch.

Anna's hand came up to strike her wrist and deflect the blow. She drove her open palm into Galeen's chest. Augmenting the strike with a burst of power from her Nassai sent tingles through her body.

Galeen flew backward down the aisle, propelled by bent gravity to the church's front door. She crashed into the wood, then dropped to her feet, crouching to recover her strength.

With a growl, she leaped.

Through her bond with the Nassai, Anna felt a strange warping sensation as the other woman flew across the room. Galeen somersaulted in mid-air, throwing a pair of knives down at her opponent.

Anna jumped out of the way.

Knives landed in the wooden floor and vibrated as they sank almost to the hilt. A symbiont! The woman had a bloody symbiont! But that was impossible. No one recruited Keepers from this planet.

Galeen landed with her back turned, then whirled around in a flash. Her face was twisted into snarl, teeth bared. Mere second later, she was flowing down the aisle like some kind of wraith.

She snap-kicked.

Anna doubled over, catching the woman's ankle and holding it pinned to her own stomach. That should have been the end of it, but her opponent gave her no time to press her advantage.

Somehow, Galeen managed to jump and turn her body like a corkscrew, her other foot whirling around to strike Anna across the cheek. Tears blurred her vision as she went stumbling down the aisle.
A blurry Galeen came charging toward her. The woman jumped and kicked out like the lash of a whip.

Anna fell to her knees, reaching up with both hands to seize the woman's foot. She tossed the woman's leg upward, forcing her into a back-flip. Galeen landed on her hands. In that brief moment while her opponent recovered, Anna managed to get to her feet.

She kicked Galeen in the stomach, then spun to deliver a back-hand blow. A hand caught her wrist before she made contact while another clamped onto her shoulder. Anna was held pinned with her arm extended.

Galeen forced her to double over, slamming her forehead into the corner of a pew. Everything went dark, and for a moment, it seemed as though she were hearing the world through plugged ears.

She was barely cognizant of being thrown to the floor, and when her senses began to reassert themselves, she saw a foggy vision of the other woman standing with hands on her hips. “You are strong,” Galeen said.

Anna groaned.

“That you would fight for these men is travesty,” Galeen went on. “You are a traitor to your own sex.”

“What are you talking about?”

The woman turned, standing in the aisle to face the shattered window. Beyond it, trees swayed in the wind. “I should kill you,” Galeen hissed. “But I can use you if you see the error in your ways.”
He bought two fifths of lead-free gasoline.
Said the bottle is dusty, but my engine is clean.
He bought a nice blue suit with the money he could find.
If his bride didn't like it, St. Peter wouldn't mind.

Well, now I lie here so out of breath and... over opiated.
Maybe I couldn't catch up no, but maybe she could have waited.
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