May You Ascend...
Summary: It is the year 2523, and Sergeant Sarah Owens dies.
Date: 9 January 2014
Related: None directly.
Haven-System Sarah Hostiles 

August 10, 2523 — The Veldt, the Crescent of Khournas

Over the rolling hills of grasses and scrublands, the Haven sun set. Temperatures that had reached sweltering heights during the day plummeted into a comfortable chill. Those that hunt by the twilight retreated into their dens, most fat and satisfied by their evening meal. Then there are those who will never be satisfied — the sentient hunters.

Sergeant Sarah Owen had been their prey for three hours now, pursued through the thorny bushes and stocky trees since her patrol had been ambushed and slaughtered. The Ibrahmi soldier crushed through a vast sea of knee-high grasses, pockmarked by isolated, fertile pools of bioluminescent algae. Little did she know that in two decades’ time, just before the War would be done, the grasslands would be burned to its roots in a terrible chemical fire that would leave the ground too sodium-rich to support life.

For now, it provided cover from her pursuers as they chased through the grasses after her.

Beyond it, she knew, would be the settlement of Taureesa, a farming colony large enough to support its own Ways and, more importantly, a barracks of the Obsidian military. There would be reinforcements, and a Lieutenant to report to with her intelligence of the Hostile encampment beyond the Taureesan hunting grounds. It was believed that the Hostile infestation had been cleared of the Veldt, but these had moved unseen. This was what the rest of her unit had died for, and she would see it delivered.

Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she cut her way up one of the few rising hills, and it was only when she crested the rise did she dare a look over her shoulder. There were just three monochromatic shapes moving toward her, their luminous eyes glinting in the half-moon dim. There had been thrice that when the chase began. Her belly went cold at the thought. These were the ones who refused to give up.

She turned to begin a downhill sprint, but her foot caught on an unearthed root. Her descending tumble sent her rolling nearly head over feet, and it ended with a splash into one of those luminous pools. Her helmet was loosened during the tumble, and was an irretrievable distance on the bank. She thrashed through the shallow water, struggling to find her footing in the slick mud.

Her inner voice was rapidly assessing her situation. They will be on you in ten seconds. You can reach the bank in five seconds. You will need your sword. Do you hear me, Sarah? You will need your sword.

She buried a heel into the mud, pushing herself forward sharply even as she reaches to the hilt of the bastard sword sheathed across her back. Water sloshed up onto the grassy bank as she emerged from the glowing pool. She spun around immediately, sword gripped in both hands. She stared fixedly at the crest of the hill, waiting.

They came at her from the periphery, one of the smaller Soldiers from her left and the second and the Elite from her right. Her feet danced across the dirt, sending a broad and balanced sweep that threatened the first two and allowed her one retreating step toward the lone Soldier. She dropped to a knee to duck retaliation from the Elite; this also allowed her to thrust her blade into the belly of the single attacker. It fell to the grass just as she dislodged her blade, and she turned to focus on the pair.

Thrusts, slashes, and ripostes were exchanged. The second soldier fell, wounded but still breathing. Her own blood splattered across the grasses as the Elite’s glaive slashed open her chest, and sent her reeling back several steps. She looked up into the luminous eyes of the Elite as it strode forward, its bloodied glaive-head lowered slightly. Her sword was held almost limp in her right hand. Each breath seared through her body.

You’re going to die here, her inner voice whispered.

"No," she murmured, blood on her teeth as she started to smile. She shook her head. "No."

"I do not accept begging," the Hostile replied.

Sarah looked up through the wet strands of dark red hair, meeting that hellfire stare once more. "Haven does not beg."

"You will."

Just as the Hostile took a forward step, Sarah lunged forward with that final burst of strength. Everything blurred, and the last she remembered was that bladed polearm burying itself into her belly. Her sword thunked into the dirt. Her became unfocused as the shadow of the enemy’s helmet passed her face. It leaned in close so that it could whisper in her ear.

"May You Ascend…"

Then it gave the blade a twist.

May 20, 3014 — Sarah's Cell, A Watch House in Landing

Sarah opened her eyes, staring into the luminous gaze of her reflection. Hot water lightly steamed up the mirror as it rushed from the faucet and down the unsuspecting drain. She gathered up wet handfuls, drawing her cybernetic fingers back through her shortly kept head of dark red hair. She rubbed at her pale cheeks, gently touching the glowing outputs on her jaw and temples.

She lowered her hands onto the edge of the sink, gripping it tightly. Her shoulders raised and fell with a deep inhale, and her head rolled from side to side as she closed her eyes. There she remained for a moment, almost meditating on this very moment in time. Then she lifted her chin to meet her reflection's gaze once more.

Images started flashing before her vision — data being rapidly compiled and compressed. With every ounce of mental strength and concentration, she tapped into her internal communications system. Never before has she pushed herself this far, forced her sleeve to utilize so much organic power. In one abrupt burst, she sent the communication out as hard as she could.

This is Sarah One-One-Three of One-Six-Four, please respond…

Those words nearly split her skull, and she was overcome with pain she had never experienced before. Blood splashed into the sink, spindles of red mixing with the water. Blackness blurred around the edges of her vision, and she felt her knees give out. As she collapsed, crumpling onto the hard floor of her cell, for a heartbeat she swore she heard a whisper in the back recesses of her mind.

Communication received, Sarah One-One-Three…

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