Author : Sam Clough aka “Hrekka”, Staff Writer

Kana took a deep breath and brought the butt of her father’s rifle to her shoulder. She tilted her head, both eyes open and focused beyond the length of the barrel. The iron foresight that perched at the end of the weapon had been cast as a dragon: the beast’s upthrust ears forming the neat ‘v’ through which she stared with intent. She had eschewed her father’s kabuto, but she did, however, wear his kikou: she had spent a long time adapting it to fit her slight frame.

She knelt on a ridge overlooking the village, making no effort to hide. It was only a matter of time until Daichi left the farmhouse. When he stepped from the door, there would be a single chance.

One shot would be all she’d have.

The rifle she held and it’s companion pistol at her belt were pinnacle weapons, comparing favourably to anything of their time. The bullet in the chamber was one of the original two hundred cast when the rifle was made.

She couldn’t miss.

Daichi left the farmhouse.

She fired and immediately ducked, thumbing a new cartridge into her father’s rifle. This was a new, cheap round: only countrymen were worthy of dying by the ancient ammunition. She braced the rifle again. Daichi was laying in the dirt, the top of his head splayed open against the ground, blood and brains mixing with the dust.

Two offworlders were scanning around the village. The first was reptilian, and the second wore a bulky space-suit, both wielding local weapons.

The rifle snapped as she fired again, and the lizardman jerked backwards, gore spraying from his gut. The space-suit located her and returned fire. Three or four shots tore into the soft dirt around her and two ricocheted off her kikou. She whispered a prayer of thanks to the armourer, and went to meet her foe.

She pressed herself against the back wall of one of the buildings, her father’s rifle already reloaded. The space-suit began to round the corner, but drew back too quickly: Kana’s shot whipped past him, missing by millimetres. Slinging the rifle behind her back, she drew the companion pistol and edged around the corner.

Her heart leapt into her throat when she heard the footsteps behind her. Whirling around, she came face-to-face with an unfamiliar pistol and the space-suit’s flat visage behind it. She hadn’t realised how fast it would be.

“Put your weapons down. Comply.” A harsh voice echoed from the space-suit. “You have killed two innocent men.”

“And Daichi,” she sneered at the corpse, “he killed my father in cold blood. You people did nothing. This was an act of honour.”

“You are Kana Takahashi? Respond.”

“I am.”

“Miss Takahashi. Your father’s death at the spaceport was an accident. There was nothing we could have done.”

“Liar.” She hissed, stiffening her grip on her father’s pistol.

A gunshot echoed around the village, but Kana had not fired. The space-suit crumpled to the ground. Kana turned: behind her, the lizardman stood, clutching his wound and barely managing to hold his rifle. The chamber was smoking.

“They told us,” the lizard spluttered, “that honour was dead here.”

In the distance, she could hear sirens. Turning away from the bodies, she ran for the relative safety of the woods.

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