CHAPTER 3: ASSASSIN

Caiatl felt the assassin's eyes on her back before she heard their words.

"Your father sends his regards," they croaked.

She calmly turned. The intruder was not Cabal. They wore a strange, sleek armored suit—some off-world species unaccustomed to the atmosphere, no doubt. But her father's influence on it was obvious; he did so favor white, purple, and gold.

"He can keep them," Caiatl said. The assassin's gun, pointed at her chest, glowed with a purple light that distorted the air around it.

"He sent a message for you."

Caiatl lunged, crashing her shoulder into the assassin. They fired their weapon, and Void energy seared through Caiatl's bicep. Undeterred, she slammed the assassin to the ground, clutching their throat in one hand and making a fist with the other. She cocked her arm back. Her reflection in the assassin's helmet stared back at her. Furious. Unblinking. Curious.

"Go on then," she snarled, her fist looming. "The message."

The assassin struggled. "You are a child in a general's costume," they spat. "None of the vision of your father. None of the drive or strength of the one they call Dominus." Something sharp penetrated Caiatl's pressure suit and slipped up against her ribs. "You will not be remembered."

Spurred to action, Caiatl rolled to unseat the blade; the assassin followed and raised the Void weapon to her head.

Caiatl slammed her hand over the barrel. Energy shot through her palm as she ripped the gun away. She grabbed the assassin's helmet with her bloody fingers and slammed their head against the ground. Once, twice, three times.

The shield began to crack.

Four, five, six times.

She let the helmet thud against the ground. Her contorted reflection now stared back.

"Is he listening?" Caiatl boomed. "My father? Tell him I will come for him. Tell him there's no distance that will save him from me."

The assassin gasped and wheezed. When they recovered their voice, they hissed, "Killing me will not stop the end… from coming. My gods have foretold…"

Caiatl hesitated for a brief moment before her good hand clenched into a fist and slammed into the assassin's visor, shattering her reflection as well as the assassin's skull.

She sat back in the wreckage, panting, covered in strange, viscous blood.

"Your gods are dead," she said to no one.

CHAPTER 2: STAR PILOT

Category: Book: Empress

CHAPTER 4: SOLDIERS