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- "Never forget what is taken from you."
- — Weapon description
"NEVER FORGET WHAT IS TAKEN FROM YOU."
Kethiks, the Yet-Proven, had spent three lunar orbits surveying the small village. He was not the first Captain to strike here, but while others had come for killing or labor, his clutch of Vandals came for something else.
A Lightbearer resided in the village—a demon who had killed many of his friends. A demon who had shattered the Captain whose place Kethiks had taken. It was Kethiks's duty to seek revenge, to hunt this demon, and clear the death debt. Those were the words House Devils had sent with Kethiks.
But to Kethiks, this demon's life paid more than vengeance. Its life paid glory. The same glory Kethiks's father, Ykriis, claimed when he felled a Lightbearer in single combat, took its tiny machine and drank of its divine Ether. Soon that glory would be Kethiks's as well. Soon his position would be recognized for more than its circumstance.
Vandals crept on either side of Kethiks, maneuvering through tall grass with quiet anticipation. Where the grass died off to tilled soil and log walls, they paused, waiting for Kethiks's command. He would not launch flares to declare their strike. He would not give the Lightbearer time to plan.
The raiders descended, expecting a paltry guard. They were soon met by stiff resistance. The Captain tore through to the heart of the village, hunting for the demon who commanded the defense. He spotted the demon in the midst of the fighting. Kethiks strode forward, seizing a defiant Human in his path with his lower arms and flung her through a burning wooden structure.
"DEMON!" he shrieked in Eliksni, brandishing his Arc spear.
Before he could advance, a young Human defiantly stepped between him and the demon and brandished a blade. Kethiks assessed the "warrior" and clicked his mandibles in laughter, easily knocking the boy's curved blade aside. The Captain taunted the youth with half-hearted thrusts that threw the small Human off balance. When he was finished toying with his prey, Kethiks drove the spear point through him.
Kethiks looked up from the pinned youth to the demon and snarled. His eyes met the demon's crackling own. The Captain raised his spear to charge—