Screams woke Heyalna green gene-line Wilet-34 cross orange Aluet-237. She was instantly awake and on her feet. Automatically increasing the sensitivity of her eyes she spied orange light in the tiny cracks in the back wall of her small cottage against which she stored her healer’s supplies and tools in several shelves. That was also the direction from which her ears told her the screams came.
Heyalna wasted no time donning clothes or shoes. Two pantherish steps took her halfway across her bedroom toward the nearest window; then she leaped through it, arms tightly covering her head. Window frame and oil-washed near-transparent paper exploded outward.
She struck the close-cropped lawn head-on, her forearms still covering her head, her legs tucking against her body. As she rolled forward and over she uncoiled, arms first, forearms acting like springs flinging her into the air. She came down in a crouch, spun around, and leaped atop her small cottage.
Beyond the back of her cottage were two larger houses, one to the left and one to the right. Torches flung atop both had started fires, little ones atop the left one and an inferno atop the right. The screams were coming from there.
Heyalna leaped toward that house, hitting the ground running. Anyone watching would have seen an inhumanly fast woman moving at speed that blurred her pumping limbs.
Rounding the house she saw about a half-dozen family members who had escaped the house being speared by warriors from across the border several miles to the north. Two of the family were down and sprawled unmoving, which was not keeping three warriors from standing over them and stabbing them again and again, probably (from the downed warrior between the two) because one or both villagers had successfully fought back.
Three other family members were also fighting, near-naked and bare-handed against armed and armored opponents. A young girl crouched near them, staring at the fight with horror. Four more family erupted from the house, all young boys armed with heavy sticks except one who held a sword.
Rage exploded in Heyalna. For thirteen years she had lived in Creekside village, a hamlet of nearly two hundred people, healing them and slowly teaching basic medical knowledge such as the need to wash hands with soap before and after dealing with injured and ill people. A century and a half of life in an interstellar society with no war and little violence and high ethical standards had made her what to these people was a near saint. All softness instantly washed away from her soul and she became as near an incarnation of Death as a human could.
Naked she leapt toward the downward-stabbing threesome, her reflexes and perceptions jolted to near twice normal speed, her muscles already three times human strength and growing stronger every second. She grabbed the shoulder of the nearest warrior from the back with one hand and swung a stone-hard fist to shatter his helmet and skull.
She flung his crumpling body aside and leaped forward. She landed astride one of the fallen men and grabbed the throats of the two warriors facing her. One of them was able to spear her body before she crushed their windpipes. The spear point skidded off her abdomen as it struck her skinsuit, weightless chain mail armor made of invisibly small links that flowed over her skin like water but when struck became momentarily rigid and thousands of times tougher than steel.
In the next instant she was behind then among the several other warriors, killing them efficiently with just-sufficiently-lethal fist strikes now that her rage had cooled. In moments every warrior was down.
Heyalna glanced quickly around. No warriors were near though she saw perhaps a hundred feet away along the village perimeter a squad similar to the one she had just dispatched. They were tossing torches atop another house.
They and any other squads could wait. The vanquished warriors at her feet seemed to be the first to reach Creekside. She had time to help her villagers.
She knelt near the dead and dying villagers and, placing a hand on each of their bodies, sent into them a dose of healing nanotech messengers. Within days each of the villagers would be healed without scars. The dead would survive, their brains undamaged but with all memory of this day gone and perhaps the day before.
“They will be all right,” she said to an older man who had just come from his burning house, nodding at his fallen family members. “Get everyone out of your house. It’s lost.”
The grey-bearded oldster nodded. He seemed numb, but his brain was beginning to work as he glanced at the top of his burning house.
He looked back at her then quickly away, then back at her with dawning wonder and fear in his eyes.
“Get to work, all of you!” she said, catching the eyes of each of the women, men, and children who had left the house, a few of them clutching possessions, and waved at the house next door, the fire on its roof now being put out by its owners.
“But what about them?” said the grey-beard’s oldest son. He pointed toward the squad of warriors at the next house who, interrupted at their destruction, had turned and were now running toward Heyalna and her companions.
Heyalna’s lips peeled back in a near-snarl. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of them.”
Then she turned and beginning running toward the oncoming warriors. They seemed angry rather than fearful. But that would change. For it was Death who ran to meet them.
Continued at THIS link.