They called her "Andy". A name she'd scratched into the chest of her hardsuit, for reasons only the three of them knew. The sodalities held, and so she was still Ayin, but she was Anderen not Aegis, and that put her flash at a different place on the spectrum.

The axe that hung by her side had never been intended for combat. It was a basic folding tool meant for utility, but both their trajectories had been altered when she'd been forced to push it out of phase as a child to save her life.

It was something an Aegis could never have done and something she could only do with this specific axe. It was why the Consanguine had killed the rest at Lluidas Vale, and that had started the second war.

She'd only been ten then, and while it hadn't been as long as the one that birthed the Aegis, it had still changed everything. It defined them all.

She'd been there at the end, out of her depth at fourteen, fighting Sanguinem to avenge Sanguinem - it's how she'd gotten the scars across the bridge of her nose, and why she'd kept them. Someone else had finished that fight, but she'd made sure she finished every other one since.

That was eight years ago, but beheading a monster didn't always kill it, and the sentiment behind that war still lingered as did the Consanguine.

She'd always known they'd start hunting them. Eliminating the last three Anderen would be quite the trophy for the last of the Consanguine.

They'd done their planning, but they were always too focused on the infamy of the axe, ambushing her between the trees where they thought she wouldn't be able to swing. But they'd forgotten about her sidearm, and she was able to surprise more than a few of them. She was no Heth, and quite a few of her shots were misses, but she was still good enough to solve these particular problems.

There was something else here though, she could feel it. The trees, the ambush, the gunfire, they were all intended to make it hard for her to focus, but she'd made them have to revise on the fly and it made them sloppy.

They ran, trying to draw her further into the trees, but she didn't bite. Then, to her left she felt something metal, and narrowly avoided being knocked to the ground by a hardsuit.


She was able to counter, but every deflected attack splintered a tree behind her. This Consanguine was both desperate and committed. He knew he was at a disadvantage and he was trying to make up for it with intensity - trying to keep her on the defensive.

Heather dodged under an over-extended punch and drove her fist into the center of the Consanguine's hardsuit, unbalancing him and forcing distance between them. The Consanguine scrambled to recover.

"So why Andy?" he asked.

Heather didn't respond. She didn't do obvious distraction.

"A friend we killed perhaps?"

And then everything sharpened, the dirt under her feet, the specks of dust on her hardsuit, every splinter of scattered bark in her hair - and at the center of it all, ablaze in her awareness, the axe flared to life.

The Consanguine charged again, but Heather sidestepped his attack and split his hardsuit down to wetsuit in one clean motion.

Speed and momentum had never mattered, the axe always did what she needed it to do.

The Consanguine checked the damage to his suit, hesitated and then charged again. He was afraid now. His attacks were frantic, unplanned and intended to overwhelm, but Heather had fought better. A bright, looping streak between the trees, she spun and drove the heel of the axe into the center of his hardsuit. The armour buckled, driving him backward and off balance. He countered, but Heather dodged underneath, hooked his leg and spun again. This time the armour splintered, and Heather felt the wetsuit tech underneath harden, just as it was designed to do.

And then she felt it break.