I paused just outside the chamber and sensed. My Psychic Legion was almost half a station away and there were only three people in the Command Centre. My beloved Lena would be a non-combatant; that meant the other two were Count Ispar and a bodyguard. I formed up my Epee de Pneuma, 70 centimeters of concentrated psychic energy, and stepped in.
“All right, Ispar, time to…what?”
Count Ispar wasn’t there. Lena stood by a small bed, along with an Amazon Guard who was holding her arm shields at the ready. I didn’t see the third person at first, because they were only 60 centimeters long, lying in the bed making babbling sounds.
“Run, My Lady! I’ll hold him off!”
And she was on me. The first arm-shield deflected my blade and the second whooshed past my face. I staggered back a half-step so I was fighting in the doorway. No room to swing.
I lunged forward, hoping to push her back and get some freedom to move. She was too skilled. Her arms wrapped around mine, crushing me in a bear hug. When she let go it was worse; I gasped in a full breath of the pheromones the Amazons used as a secondary weapon. It was part of why they were so effective: no man could fight them with a clear head.
I made a desperate sweep across her shoulder; it cut and her left arm went limp. A second swipe was deftly blocked by her right arm guard. I should have been watching her eyes but I was staring at her chest. Damned pheromones!
Something knocked my feet out from under me and I dropped, landing on my back with a thud that rocked me from tailbone to neck. She dropped on top of me, her one useful arm pinning my sword-arm to the ground. I was beaten, and all I could think about was this heaving beauty sitting on me, beads of sweat running down her neck to where I shouldn’t be looking.
“Menay, stop. Please!” It was Lena.
Like I had a choice; I let my blade vanish. “Where is Count Ispar? Why won’t he show himself?”
“Menay, there is no Count Ispar!”
“But this fortress! We’ve had it under siege for a year! Over a thousand ships!”
“I had to get away until it was done.” She held up the small humanoid. “It’s a baby, Menay, a little human. I grew it inside myself; no cloning chamber required.”
“My implant failed. I couldn’t face the shame, or the surgery to remove it, so I faked my kidnapping. But you had to go to war; you were supposed to negotiate!”
“That’s a human? It’s so small!”
“They come out that size, dear. And it hurts like hell when they do, but I’m not giving her up.” She looked at me with that steel in her eyes as her guard let me up. “My men are surrendering. You can come say hello to your daughter.”