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Terminal.png This article, Stories from the Sigmaverse/Duel, was written by Brodie-001. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.
August 13th, 2513

'Ranak Keep, State of 'Ranak, Sanghelios

The aftermath of victory was, as it turned out, nothing like the legends. In the months since the battle that saved the House of 'Ranak from extermination, Felo 'Ranak had grown weary of the adulation of his peers and the role he had been thrust into. A youth of sixteen years, the scion had achieved widespread fame after racing to bring reinforcements to save his house from a coalition of hostile clans who had besieged his keep and massacred his people. The final battle had been bloody, and the reprisals afterwards even more so, but it was the local situation that troubled him the most. Standing atop one of the few walls not marred by plasma fire during the siege in armour slightly too large for him, Felo took a deep breath before heading down to approach the gold-armoured warrior barking orders in the central courtyard.

"Pursue them offworld if you have to!" Kaidon Yama 'Ranakee jabbed a finger towards one of his warriors, "None who stood against us can be allowed to live."

Felo waited for the rest of Yama's cringing supplicants to depart before moving to his Kaidon's side. Once, he had been a terrifying sight to behold; a hulking beast of a warrior whose feats were legendary. However, the war - one brought about after his preference for violence over diplomacy and aggressive ways angered half a dozen smaller clans - had put visible cracks in this invincible figure. In Felo's absence, he had led several failed attempts to sally forth and break the siege, losing an eye to an errant plasma bolt and much of the mobility in his left leg to a subsequent injury. Though he did not speak it aloud, he despised the fact that he had been rescued by the forces of his brother Ordam, brought along by a stripling not yet of age for military service. His mood had not improved in the past few months, and there were whispers that Yama would drag the House of 'Ranak into another war to satisfy his pride.

"Kaidon," Felo bowed, using Yama's official title instead of the usual 'Uncle'. "A word?"

Yama turned, and snorted as he faced Felo. "The young hero deigns to speak to me. An honour."

"Kaidon," he ignored the jibe, "Uncle Ordam's men have finished driving off the enemy. Their keeps are ours, and their people now bow to 'Ranak."

"And?"

Felo took a deep breath. Though he had been warned against it, what he had to do was for the greater good.

"There has been talk among many of the Elders, and uncle Ordam, that you should step down from your position as Kaidon. I am inclined to agree."

The young man was too slow to dodge as Yama's golden gauntlet smashed into the side of his head, sending him sprawling into the mud. He quickly regained his footing, head still ringing from the sudden blow. Any harder and the Kaidon might have broken two of Felo's mandibles. As he straightened up, he saw that Yama had drawn his sword. A pair of blades hissed to life a second later, drawing gasps from a group of nearby onlookers. Shouts went up around them, some begging the Kaidon to show mercy on the boy while others called for Ordam 'Ranakee's intervention. Felo wordlessly grasped the hilt of his own sword, mirroring Yama's stance as he waited for the old warrior to make the first move.

"At last I truly see," Yama's single eye fixated on Felo. "Youth and glory have made you hungry for power, usurper."

"Uncle-" Felo began, only to be cut off as the gold-armoured Yama sprang forward with a heavy blow he could barely block.

If this is how it must be, Felo disengaged, knowing that he would lose in a contest of strength. Even with his recent injuries, Yama 'Ranakee was a frighteningly fierce foe. Favouring his good leg and keeping Felo on the side of his working eye, he paid no heed to the rapidly-gathering crowd, focusing entirely on killing the youth who had stolen his chance for victory and treated him like a useless cripple. Though his scarred face was contorted with fury, Yama was no berserker, and would not allow a rage-induced misstep in combat.

When the second blow came, it was from Felo. He aimed low, bringing his blade about in a sweep meant to slice through Yama's other knee and hobble him further. This was easily evaded, and the retaliatory strike came within inches of decapitating Felo as he twisted away, attempting to exploit his foe's injuries to win. Their blades clashed again and again, and for a moment it was as though they were back in the keep's sparring chamber, practicing their swordplay with wooden sticks. However, each blow came thrice as hard, and any mistake would be punished with death instead of a bruise and light admonishment. Felo moved with surprising grace, choosing to evade more strikes than he blocked. Any counter blows were deftly swatted aside, but Yama's decreased mobility meant that he could not capitalise on many of these strikes.

Years later, when stories of this duel were being told, they would often frame it as a long, gruelling battle between Yama and Felo. Some embellishments would state that their fight raged throughout the entire keep, and involved dozens of others who died heroically. Reality was not so fanciful. As Felo backed away after a vicious swipe sheared off a chunk of his right pauldron, Yama 'Ranakee charged, putting the full weight of his body into a strike that would fell the young usurper instantly. Had it not been for a twinge of pain from his half-lame leg throwing him off ever so slightly, that may have come to pass, but Felo was quick enough to dodge and well-trained enough to take action. Yama's blade sailed over Felo's head as he ducked, and with a flick of his wrist the young warrior slashed to the side, severing the Kaidon's sword hand in an instant. Before Yama could even register the pain, Felo drew back his blade and thrust forward, driving both prongs through the elder 'Ranak's chest with such force that he toppled onto his mortally wounded foe. For a moment, Felo believed that he had killed Yama instantly, only for a massive hand to grip the back of his head, pushing Felo closer until they were face to face.

"You fought well," Yama rasped through the pain, holding Felo in place. "Skill. Bravery. Determination. You are truly my son."

None were close enough to hear the final words of Yama 'Ranakee. Even if they had, few would have been surprised. Even Felo took the revelation without so much as a twitch. For all their traditions of fairness and discouragement of nepotism, Yama's pride and favouritism towards Felo and his two siblings had been clear for all to see. His massive body slumped back into the mud, and lay still. Felo shook off his father's grip as it slackened, and stood above the dead Kaidon.

"Of course I am. Nobody else could have accomplished this."

At that moment, the gathered crowd parted as Ordam 'Ranakee arrived, accompanied by a group of armed guards. Felo's uncle looked on the scene in disbelief, his yellow eyes flicking from the mud-splattered youth to the body on the courtyard floor. Cries went up from all around him, cursing Yama 'Ranakee as a madman and protesting his killer's innocence. Even the clan's elders added their hoarse voices to the people's shouts before the silver-armoured Shipmaster waved for quiet. Known for his fair judgement and level head, Ordam tore his eyes away from the corpse of his brother and sighed. He had already risked his military career by racing to Sanghelios to save his family, and now he had this to deal with.

"What have you done, Felo?"

"Isn't it obvious, uncle?" Felo bowed his head. "I've made you Kaidon."

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