Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Will burn across the worlds.
From shoreline to mountain top, from wrecked vehicle to ransacked fortress, they will light a night like none will ever see again, and will start a conflagration that will blaze so far onwards we will never know of all those freed by its passing.
“Set her down.”
They do so. Keegan, Habaden, Televa, and Tranger step back. Ponsor spreads our banner over her body.
Newsnets would crash upon showing images of we six gathered, which is why we’ve never come together since the end of hostilities. There is a cause we swore to follow, and it did not include becoming celebrities off the mass murder some had called a justified war.
“Lasira the Dancing Death, you showed us how to find peace.”
I step forward and regard each of them in turn.
“We are resolved?”
Habaden gestures to her body.
“They killed her because she sought to permanently end the Monarchies of Donn.”
Televa waves towards the night sky above.
“They watch us now, gathering their forces to blockade this planet so we cannot return.”
Tranger steps round to lay a hand on my shoulder.
“What of you, Griko, Grim Witness?”
“I will act upon the accord, but only if we are all agreed.”
Keegan shakes his head, a vestige of objection. Then he looks me in the eye.
“Ever have I gainsaid you, until I saw her body. There is a difference between the wounds I see and the manner of death reported. A difference that can only be bridged by a lie. For that, I withdraw my caution. I am agreed.”
A welcome surprise, and fitting cue.
I engage my orbitals and override the video feeds of every network I can reach. To end this properly, I must start with proclamation.
“The Monarchies of Donn told us we were made from common soldiers to serve a common good. Then they used us to further their ends under that excuse. It took us too long to realise, but when we did, we swiftly built a peace in spite of their objections. We thought that peace would hold, but the loss of Lasira has made us realise the Monarchies will never yield.”
Sparkling globes appear high above as our automated defences deal with their clumsy attempts to silence us. I continue.
“Lasira was the only one of us who did not trust polite words and signed treaties. We five were dismissive of her work, until she was murdered to prevent her revealing what she found, and what she’d built in response.”
Habaden adds his voice.
“We might still have ignored her, had they not overstepped.”
Televa joins in.
“Our sister is gone.”
Keegan coughs, then finishes for all of us.
“The Six have been made Five. The only fitting response is for the Monarchies of Donn to mark her passing by burning to the ground.”
My monitoring is quiet for less than a minute. Then, across ninety-four worlds, explosions rock Monarchy installations and barracks. Lasira prepared well. Patrol craft fall under the fire of those they thought loyal lackeys. Space ships duel and explode into globes of fiery death. The casualties will be savage, but we have the military numbers, and the people of sixty systems behind us.
I nod, then add a coda.
“You would not leave us as passive observers. Now you will answer to us as your rulers. The Six Warriors have, by necessity, become the Five Crowns. We will forge a new peace in the seventeen thousand fires ignited by her murder.”