QI’RA: Chapter Nineteen

Old Friend, New Enemy

As soon as Dart landed the ship was bombarded by blaster fire but as Qi’ra charged from the craft, her blaster in hand, a passing ship overhead took care of the enemy forces immediately facing them. She continued forward, her gaze absorbing the burning buildings covered in long banners providing bursts of color through the soot and ash left behind by the fires. Her army of warriors, led by herself, T-38, and Nienye, followed close behind while her ships continued to fly overhead, providing aerial support.

There were screams of terror from civilians huddled in the buildings they passed by but Qi’ra paid no heed to them. She was only looking for the coaxium. T-38, who was tracking the shipment, continued relaying announcements on where the coaxium was.

As they drew closer the enemies in their way thickened but it was no problem to Qi’ra and her unit as they moved through the rebel forces with speedy impunity.

As they rounded a corner T-38 called for a halt.

“We’re surrounded,” T-38 spoke quietly, holding her two blasters at attention.

Qi’ra’s eyes rose to the buildings surrounding them. She gestured at her female warriors, signaling for them to create a defensive circle. It wasn’t a second later before blaster fire rained from above, forcing them to take cover. As Qi’ra found shelter behind a fallen column in the street she noted that three of her warriors had not been so lucky, as they were caught and killed by the surprise attack.

Qi’ra’s jaw clenched with suppressed anguish and rage. She had wanted zero casualties. That goal was now squashed. And then she saw her, an almost frightening warrior clothed in tribal garments and wielding a powerful staff that sent shocks of energy reverberating through the ground.

“Go find the coaxium,” Qi’ra told T-38 and Nienye. “I’ll handle Enfys Nest.”

Nienye looked at her, his eyes hidden behind his mask. “Are you sure?”

She was tired of being questioned, of being looked down upon as if she wasn’t good enough. “Yes, I’m sure!” she snapped.

T-38 and Nienye nodded, startled by her outburst, before taking a few warriors with them as they turned and headed down another street.

Qi’ra waited as Enfys Nest grew nearer, her anger growing as she watched the rebel leader pummeling her guards with brute force and efficiency. And then she vaulted forward from her cover, shooting two pirates in the back, rolling to dodge the attack of two other enemies, rising to a crouch and holstering her blaster, unsheathing her sword, and then taking down those foes with a clean sweep of her blade.

She had cleared a path to Enfys Nest and Enfys had, in turn, cleared a path to her. They stood, in the middle of the street, surrounded by fierce combat, gazing at one another in silent tension.

“After all these years, this is how you return,” Enfys Nest spoke, her voice distorted by her mask.

“Han helped you,” Qi’ra replied. “I didn’t.”

“So you admit to being one of them. The animals who cut out the tongues of my people.”

Qi’ra’s temple bulged. “I will not apologize for anything that the Crimson Dawn have committed.”

“I know this. You have shown your true colors by killing innocents today.” Enfys Nest twirled her staff. “I will end your life quickly.”

Qi’ra adopted a battle stance, taking a deep breath. She hoped she would never come face to face with the teenage rebel leader, but fate hadn’t afforded her that luxury. Now she would have to survive again.

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