In the last chapter Imperial Princess Taegan, Galacteer Commander’s Lightyear and Jason and Space Pirate Captain Woz were travelling towards Iratus Est Draco on a captured Zenithian saucer, while everyone else was supposed to be sleeping someone had knocked out Captain Woz and set them on a doomed course to obliteration in an asteroid field, The Princess awoke everyone and roused Woz enough to turn away at the last moment, knowledge that there was a traitor on board had them start to turn against one another and when the Princess was washing after treating Pirate Woz’s wounds a mysterious figure stole her clothes and equipment and the Princess rushes out to discover a second Princess right before her eyes!
As one Princess Taegan clad in just a towel and holding the deadly ornate Tling-steel Stiletto they had seen the day before burst into the main corridor with another Princess Taegan towel-drying her hair and wearing the clothes the Princess had been wearing the day before Jason of Star Command nearly choked on his mouthful of rations! Immediately Woz, leaning against a wall for support drew his dagger carved down from a Slishian tusk and Lightyear pulled a Zenithian pistol.
“Well I think this might just clinch the Pod Person Hypothesis” said Lightyear softly.
“Ya think?” quipped back Jason.
“I don’t like this, I don’t like this one bit!” growled Woz.
The two Princesses eyed one another as they each stepped lithely into a fighting stance.
“The Clone must have stolen my stiletto while I showered” said the clothed Princess.
“No you fake Bitch. You stole my clothes while I showered; I kept the weapon in the shower with me because I was sure one of the Galacteers was a clone, when it was you all along!”
“Why steal just the knife and not the whole clothes?” Queried Lightyear thoughtfully as he kept the gun trained on the space between them so a single twitch of his wrist could shoot either of them in an instant.
“Too obvious,” Said the clothed Princess as she circled the stiletto wielding Princess, “this was a way to put your suspicions onto me instead of her.”
“That’s exactly what the clone would say though isn’t it, as you just turned their suspicions against me with those words, but I’m the real and you are FAKE” her snarl ended with a word projected like a Tigers roar that was so fast it stunned the Galacteers and Pirate into inaction and the towel-clad Princess leapt into an attack with a feint from the stiletto aimed at preventing the fake from drawing it’s mate from its hiding place in her armour if the clone had such knowledge, the clothed Princess easily turned the blow aside with a characteristic open handed sweep that looked for all the world like a graceful gesture rather than a combat move and showed that indeed the other Princess knew at least the basics of the secret art of the witch women of the forest moon of Eth, but the Princess also knew her own weak points in combat and hid the brutal open palmed strike till the last moment and the slap which started with her hand tucked near her shoulder and continued til the arm was straight was a mighty shove against the others jaw that sent her hurtling and actually collided her head with the low ceiling of the saucer!
The towel-clad princess followed up without pause or mercy with another leap, her right hand stabbing up towards the others heart aiming under the small plates of Goldrantium armour and the left in a paired attack driving to uppercut into the clothed Princesses abdomen to wind her, but the other Princess recovered with an instinct held in the body as much as the mind and flicked out one of the blade-edged heels from her boot in mid-air and the Towel-clad Princess was forced to pull the attack to twist backwards under a strike that might otherwise have sliced her throat, but still the tip of the stiletto left a shallow scratch across her exposed abdomen, first blood was taken by the towel-clad Princess as she flipped away and both took a moment to breathe and prepare the next strike.
“Stop her!” pleaded the clothed Princess.
“Which one do we shoot?” cried Jason.
“Neither, we need the fake alive to prove to our fleets that the clones exist!” shouted back Lightyear.
“Stay out of it,” snarled the towel-clad Princess with the ferocity of a Stygian Panther, “It dishonours me, and its life is MINE!” She launched another flurry of attacks, but was hampered by the need to not loose the towel or to make certain attacks that would be too immodest, while the clothed Princess had no such disadvantage and pulled no attacks and while the towel-clad Princess warded and deflected every blow she started being pushed back towards the wall.
At last the clothed Princess had the opportunity to draw the matching Stiletto of flexible Tling steel from its hidden sheath within her scanty armour and now the towel-clad princess had to face death from weapon bearing hands as well as feet. Undaunted the towel-clad Princess who feared not death and abhorred dishonour improvised a new attack she’d never seen nor thought of before leaped onto her surprised attacker grasping her legs around the clothed Princesses abdomen locking her feet and nearly safe from the bladed high heeled ankle boots, as her bare feet locked with her ankles and a death-grip muscle-lock she equally grasped the wrists of the clothed princess and a titanic struggle of strength and agility ensued as each tried to bring their stiletto’s to bear on the others vitals and despite holding both a weapon and the enemies wrist in one hand Still the towel-clad Princess managed to work around her opponents equal strength bringing her blade under the others chin and gaining millimetre by millimetre towards the others skin.
“Lightyear, help me! Remember what happened in the caverns of Yo-Go? If I was fake how would I know that?” cried the endangered clothed Princess.
“How DARE you use that in a duel you coward! Those are MY memories, MY choices. A thousand deaths are not enough for YOU!”
The razor tipped Tling steel stiletto of the towel-clad Princess, driven by the added strength of her fury, pressed against the skin of the clothed Princess and a drop of blood grew and slid slowly down the wire-like blade, but unable to wait to see if Lightyear would act the clothed princess yielded her stiletto-holding wrist a moment then redirected her force wrenching the wrist from the other Princesses grasp and stabbed not for the Princess but for the knot of the towel and ripped it undone!
The towel clad princess dropped to the floor grabbing and clasping the towel around herself to protect her modesty and dignity, even if it cost her life. Her grip on the stiletto weakened when she had to let go of the wrist in order to grab the towel about her it was easily knocked from her hand. The fully clothed Princess stabbed down with an overarching blow held in both hands and with only one hand free enough to act she couldn’t easily deflect it. In the split seconds between life and death she considered two options, she tears the now unguarded throat of her enemy out with her fingers even as the stiletto plunges into her heart and they both die or she puts her open hand in the path of the weapon, lets it impale her hand but trap the weapon and hope to find a way to strike back despite the injury after. Certain victory and death or a slim chance to live and win? She made her choice and…
Two ray-blasts of 7th Dimensional Dark Energy fuelled Atomo-guns went Psssieeew, Pssieeew, one a split second after the other, followed by the clatter of a metal object falling to the floor. The towel clad Princess blinked in confusion for a moment as she watched first red blood and then green fluid pour from a wound on the wrist of the clothed Princess, the clothed Princesses eyes glazed over and she twisted away revealing a large and fatal ray wound to the side just below the Goldrantium armour plates, the clone collapsed to the ground slowly melting and dissolving.
“Why? Why did you interfere?” Demanded the distraught Princess with tears in her eyes. “This was a dual for honour!”
“The clone cheated, I just evened the odds and nothing more” said Lightyear sternly, then he whirled on Commander Jason, his eyes as angry as The Princesses were tearful, “And you! I said we needed the clone alive! Why did you kill it?”
Jason returned fury with fury “And letting the clone die in a dual wasn’t killing it? You fired so I fired as a reflex, nothing more. How did you plan on keeping it alive if the Princess won the dual?”
“When she had triumphed I’d ask her to hold the killing blow”
“And that would work?”
“No” barked Princess Taegan, “It would not! I can’t believe you would interfere in the greatest duel of my life!”
“But Taegan I was only evening the odds after she cheated, nothing more” but she had already turned her back on him collapsing to the floor weeping tears of fury. His broad shoulders sagged, he was sure his actions were acceptable within the Imperial honour code, and he couldn’t stand there and watch her die even if it cost him a broken heart and one of the best chances of liberating the people of the Empire from the tyranny of Marduk, he just loved her too much for that.
“There’s just one problem Galacteers” spoke Woz with a voice as cold as steel, who unnoticed in the battles aftermath had levelled a pistol at the two Earthlings, “It wasn’t the cloned Princess that attacked me last night, I saw their silhouette and they didn’t have her shape. So unless they can change forms repeatedly one of you two is still a traitor and right now you both still sound suspicious to me!”
“There must be some way of proving our innocence” gasped the exasperated and upset Lightyear.
“Oh there is. And that little bit of shooting showed us the path to it. Blood on the surface is red, but the stuff deeper down is green. We just need to take a sample from deeper and there’s a long enough syringe in the med kit.”
“Nobody move a muscle” snarled Commander Jason, his weapon pointed at the prone Princess, “or I alter the order of succession to the Imperial throne!”
What will end this interstellar standoff? Can Princess Taegan forgive the heroic actions of Commander Lightyear? Is this the end for chances of peace between the Empire and the colonies of Earth? Is it the end of the forbidden love that has grown between them? Be sure not to miss the next instalment in the Hydra serial of Waaar Rooockeeet the Missing Princess chapter 8: The Very Last Breath! Brought to you by Bats of Mercy by Bat Night, Gothic music for Bat Charity and by the Serendip Weaponcraft Guild representing the finest makers of Tling Steel weapons.