My patrons voted for it, so here we have the final installment of Ozymandias! What began as a short 5-chapter entry into the settin’s backdrop has become a novel-length story about Harper Catros, intelligence operative of the Compact of Species hunting down the most notorious terrorist in known space. Where has it gone from there and where does it conclude? Well, for the former you’ll have to read it yourself. For the latter…
To borrow a phrase, it ends with fire and ice. Harper has thrown down the gauntlet and made her ultimatum. Now it’s Adrianna’s choice to accept those terms, or try and kill the other woman. For a sneak peek as to her decision, check out the excerpt below.
For the full chapter, and to see the conclusion to this epic tale of tomb raiding and mother-daughter bonding, check out the links above!
“No more bullshit, Highness. Stand down. I won’t ask again.”
“No,” the other woman agreed. It was barely above a whisper. “You won’t.”
Then there were no more words. Harper struck first this time, throwing a feint towards Adrianna’s throat, and catching her in the right kidney when the other cyborg slapped the first blow away. In return, she got a knee in the stomach, just below her sutures. The pain was so intense that even if her implants had been at full capacity, she’d have had to fight not to cry out. As it was, all she could do was cling to consciousness, grabbing a handful of long blue hair and slamming her forehead into the Red Queen’s torn face.
She tried for a follow-up, but Leblanc grabbed Harper left arm and pulled her off-balance, driving a fist under the younger woman’s diaphragm. The air whoofed out of the operative’s lungs. She didn’t try to stay on her feet, dropping to the deck under the sweep of a kick aimed at her face. She knocked Leblanc’s leg out from under her, rolling on top of the other woman before she could springboard back onto her feet.
Harper closed her hands around the insurgent’s throat. With her prosthetics, she could exert a grip strong enough to crush bone. Leblanc didn’t bother trying to pry the agent’s hands off. Instead, she slipped her arms inside Harper’s and used her elbows to push against the agent’s, loosening her grip as her hands latched on to Harper’s face. The younger woman had to let go and jerk out of the insurgent’s grasp before Leblanc could put out her eyes.
As she rolled away, her head snapped to the side as she took a kick across the jaw. She felt bone crack and at least one tooth came out, but there wasn’t time to worry about it. Harper grabbed at Leblanc and then they were rolling across the floor in a tsunami of limbs. Kicking, clawing, punching, using fists, elbows and teeth. There was no art here, no refined display of lightning martial arts, only desperate blow and counter-blow with neither able to keep their advantage for long. Injuries and fatigue had worn down their polished edges. All that was left for either combatant was victory by any means necessary.
Adrianna’s head rang as Harper slammed it against the metal ground. She slapped the edge of her palm into the younger woman’s throat, then kneed her in the gut again. Harper punched her in the face in return. Both women were covered in sweat and blood. Neither spoke, saving their breath for the fight. They weren’t hunter and prey, operative and warlord any longer, but two wounded gladiators in the bloody sands of a long-forgotten arena. The only thing that stood between them and their prize was the other.
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