On the banks of the river stood a girl. She had long brown wavy hair, a button nose, and leaned, albeit pained, on her favoured right leg. Apart from her eyes being boltgun grey and her shining full body suit, she looked exactly like me.

“I’m not going back.”

“The Empress insists.”

The river flowed calmly, almost peacefully, after the floods from the rainy season, when it’s banks had swollen and threatened the small cabin I called home now. Sheltered by the great gum trees, I had watched the flyer approach from the North where the Great Cities lay.

“I exercised my oblitus sum. She has no right.”

“She has every right.”

The craft had landed beyond the treeline, near the banks of the river with a grace that had been much maligned in my own days. A thousand times I had set down, and a thousand times I had returned home with each journey taking a little more of my being.

“I gave up my womanhood. I am not welcome, or do you forget Sister?”

“The empress is willing to forgive. You may redeem your place amongst the bosom of her embrace.”

The warriors had emerged, their dull armour seeming to draw the greens of the grass up through their legs, painting their suits until they merged amongst the underbrush. They must have flown straight from the Citadel, the baroque craft still adorned with the purple and teal gildings of the monarchists. My eyes grew wider, dilating until I had drunk in every crack and fissure, the dark stain stretching from under one short wing to the tail.

“It is not her forgiveness I require. She must ask for my own.”

“I should have a man kill you, rather than defile her holy chambers with such blashpemy.”

She had strode out. The men, lowly warrior-class servants, deflected their gaze, sweeping the perimeter. Every last man would give their life for her own. She need only command it so. Her hair was long, longer than regulations allowed, and had become wavy from the moisture in the air. Her gait was off and on every alternate step her face would contort, but she had advanced towards me with the determination of the faithful.

“I have said all I need to say. Take your boys and run back to her. I will not be so easily swayed.”

“She needs you Sister, she needs your swords and your virtue. Remember the words she told us?”

Were it not for the armour, for her every curve was nuanced behind the shining lustre of the suit worn only by the honour guard, we would have been identical. Born from the same womb, trained in the same rituals. Our paths were one, until we became torn.

I could not bring myself to look at her. So alien she was to me now.

“It is not my place to rule over men. Her words made a mockery of my loss.”

“The child was a bastard.”

My form had grown undisciplined, the sheaths in my arms sluggish after such neglect. But the blades were still sharp, the tang singing through the air as I brought it to bear against her neck. Even now I could feel the flesh beneath my own begin to race, hungry for one more crusade. My sister remained immobile, her men rushing to surround us both.

“The Empress did what was necessary to protect the integrity of our lineage. You would do well to remember the compassion she showed. To you and the child.”

“And what of him?” I said, drawing the blade closer to the neck of her armour. “What compassion did she show him?”

Prompt originally posted by palpablerelief on reddit and received 1 upvotes.

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