Meenakshi fell to the floor, fatally injured, as she took the shot. She met Than’yhidre’s gaze one last time, her lips trying to form words. “ … all yours now … ” she seemed to say, the rest indecipherable as the light of consciousness left her eyes and all went silent for the briefest of moments.
From nanobots housed in her bloodstream, Than’yhidre extruded two yutagaatku, a pair of Kai’Siri knives with handgrips like archaic brass knuckles but braced against her forearms. She was never, ever, entirely unarmed. “You utter refuse!” She growled beneath her breath as her ruby eyes showed purest and utterly focused rage, “You killed her. My cousin! You. Killed. My. Cousin!” That last resonated in the chamber as she leapt with perfect timing.
She had done this many times before on camera, but there would be no audience to which to directly simulcast this event.
She moved gracefully as she spun about and then took out a synthedroid, splitting it from crotch to crown with a perfectly choreographed slice upward to its torso.
“You garbage! You took me. You sold me like chattel. You stole my past!” Her implanted fangs were clearly visible as she smiled, her gaze cold and lethal as the void. “So I’ll take something from you!”
She spun, easily blocking an arm of a multi-limbed synthedroid before driving a knife upward, first into its jaw and from there into its metal skull and nanooptical brain core instantly “killing” it.
She stood her ground as Shad3 drew a weapon from behind its desk and fired, missing her as she moved again and severed the broogh’s weapon hand with one swing, then parting head from neck with another. It was over in seconds, as bodies littered the room, unmoving and silent.
She flicked her weapons clean of blood and machine lubricant before restoring them, nanobot by nanobot, to her bloodstream.
She also took with her footage of the struggle and files of the company’s data taken after it.
In the week that followed, Than’yhidre arranged for and attended Meenakshi’s funeral before taking her shuttle back to Sirug.
Her producer looked up from her desk as a package of data was slapped down in front of her. Than’yhidre was there, looking down on her. “Than’y, what is the meaning of? …” she tried to say.
Than’yhidre had another idea. Those can be dangerous.
“Here’s enough footage to last one more episode of the show as per my contract, my final episode, with enough of smoking gun evidence to convict the entire ring that took me from Terra many years ago. I quit. I’m through with televised combat, through with this whole fucking industry.” She hissed. “And my name isn’t Than’yhidre — it’s Lavyani Arulpragasam. I’m Tamil, Tellusine, not Kai’Siri. And do pray that you don’t try to make me come back. If I step foot in this office ever again, it’s with enforcers of a tribunal to drag you out of here in cuffs for contract violations. Yes, I do read the fine print, and I’ve made enough money in this vile, rotten business to afford good lawyers, too. Goodbye!”
Than’yhidre – Lavyani – turned and left the room the way she entered; graceful, proud, and angry, leaving behind the only life she’d known before going back to Terra. And now the show was over. She was free now. And free she would remain until she drew her final breath.