After putting the School under quarantine, the Sisterhood receives a shocking surprise; the society that the tiny settlement is a part of desperately needs their help. Rather than risk another disastrous war with Wominkind, Hriss clans have shifted their aggression to the Esteral Terrana Rapabla.
And the ETR is losing the fight.
Now the Sisterhood grapples with whether they should help their newly rediscovered neighbors, and what the effects will be on both societies if they do.
Excerpt from "Widow's War"--
stop! Get down there!” In her raw panic, this had come out in Standard, and
she quickly repeated the instruction in Espangla.
The boy hesitated, obviously waiting for her to accompany him to safety, and he yelled something back to her. Whatever it was, was lost forever a second later when the entire side of the building next to her abruptly swelled, and then burst open like an overripe fruit.
A Hriss hovertank emerged out of the dust cloud and into the street, nearly on top of her. Kaly dove and rolled, more out of instinct than from any acrobatic skill, and just missed being squashed flat by the falling bricks that were showering down all around her. Then she was on all fours, scrambling out of the way as the tank turned on one fan to face the small figure at the manhole.
“Jump!” she screamed. But the boy had waited too long and the tank opened up on him with its secondary guns, spitting out a stream of depleted uranium rounds. One of these hit him, and his leg disintegrated at the knee, sending what was left of the severed limb flying one way while the rest of him went the other.
Kaly would have given the Goddess anything to have been able to help him, but she was powerless against the armored monster. Instead, she did the only thing she could and dove for the nearest pile of rubble.
Another hovertank came through the hole created by its brother and shot at the manhole and the wounded scout with its main gun. This was a heavy energy cannon. The street around the hole erupted into a mass of flame and flying debris, and Kaly instinctively brought up her arm to shield her as pieces of the pavement, human flesh and metal flew everywhere. Something hit her forearm, followed by a sharp, white-hot lance of agony.
When she looked down at the limb, she realized that a sliver of metal roughly the length of her forefinger and almost as wide around, had impaled it, going right through the meat and exiting out the other side. Blood spurted up around the shrapnel immediately, and she stared at the wound, dumbfounded by horror.
An instant later, Marisol was there, grabbing her up by her web gear and half pulling, half dragging her to the feeble safety of a low wall. Someone in the tanks saw this, and the lead machine turned towards their position and began to rake along the barrier with its secondary guns. Marisol had been in the process of opening up a field dressing, and she dropped the bandage, screaming for Kaly to move again. From somewhere, Kaly’s legs obeyed, and as she ran, the wall behind them shattered into powder.
The tank crew grew tired of their cruel game, and brought the main gun to bear. There was a red flash, accompanied by a loud roar and everything in front of Kaly vanished in a cloud of dust, flame and flying debris. She felt herself being lifted up, off the ground into the very heart of the maelstrom. The sensation was almost peaceful; time seemed to hang in midair with her, completely suspended. And with the exception of a loud and persistent ringing in her ears, the scene was also utterly silent.
An impact with something hard broke the spell and simultaneously drove all the air from her lungs. Kaly grunted in pain, and stared up at the open sky, dazed. ‘So this is it,’ she thought. ‘This is where I die.’
Then anger surged up through her. If this was really it, if it was her last few nanoseconds of existence, then she wasn’t about to meet her end without fighting back. She wouldn’t give the Hriss the satisfaction of meekly surrendering to her fate. If she had to die, she wanted her epitaph to read, ‘She died fighting!’
With a cry of agony and pure determination, she levered herself up from the ground and brought her weapon to bear with her one good arm. The tank was directly in front of her now, looming over her like a malevolent insect waiting to devour her whole. And Death, ever the patient one, was only a breath away, waiting on the sidelines to snatch her up when the end came.
“F-FEK YOU!” she snarled, letting off a burst of automatic fire. She knew that it was a futile, useless gesture—but it was all the defiance that she still had left to offer.
Predictably, the slugs did very little beyond scratching off some of the machine’s paint. Then its main gun began to swing down at her, moving with an almost leisurely slowness, and Kaly prepared to meet her Goddess…