/~22 ABS (Approximately 22 Years after the Battle of Saturn/

/The Fatherworld of the Cabal Empire/

"Shin? Shin?!"

The Light washed over the Hunter, bringing him back to life with a gasp. That was always the hardest part, in his mind; Jaren Ward had never adequately explained the overall intricacies, about how you tended to fade away too quickly for the death to stick, but it was upon rising again that the mind seemed to catch up with the fact that you did die...

"Focus Shin!"

Shin Malphur, the vaunted Gunslinger, slowly looked up at his Ghost, blinking wearily. "Susan...?" He had tracked down a group of Separatists, preparing to attack a diplomatic meeting, and then...there had been a flash, and heat, and then death. "What happened?"

His Ghost, bearing a crimson-colored Frontier Shell, briefly scanned the devastation around them. "Well, judging by the overall energy profile, it was a Javelin Strike."

"...that...that can't be right." It was one of the signature weapons of the Warminds. "Was there a declaration of war?" After everything-?

"I don't think so. I've not received any messages confirming that. Judging by the overall comms chatter I'm picking up, no one saw this coming. Otherwise, the Psion Shield System in the upper atmosphere would have activated."

"Then...why...?" Was it sabotage? Had the MAGI controlling the local Warmind gone rogue? Was it a plot Too many questions and possibilities, not enough concrete answers. Just focus on getting yourself together. Thus did the Gunslinger rise, looking around as the wind kicked up at his dusty clothes and cloak; what had once been a military processing station upon the Cabal's free-roaming homeworld had been reduced to a blasted husk. Everything for miles around had been obliterated. He trudged towards the main complex, trudging past the corpses of the Separatists he had been tailing. "Well...mission accomplished," he muttered, bitterly kicking the leg of one of the Separatist Legionnaires. Its leg crumbled into ash. "Guess they got what they wanted."

"We don't know that yet," cautioned Susan. "We can't afford to jump to conclusions."

"Pissed and ornery after getting their tails whipped, without the decency to handle defeat and let bygones be bygones." He was simply venting now; little wonder, given the VIPs that had been using this processing station for an important meeting. He walked past the dead security detail, and gazed upon the bodies of the representatives from the Cabal Empire and the Reef. He didn't know why they had been having this meeting to begin with, but the fact that it was occurring at all had been enough to catch his attention as a possible Separatist target.

Little wonder, given that the leading rep from the Reef was none other than Prince Uldren Sov.

A Prince who was now very very dead. Burnt to a crisp, more like. "...well. Shit."

"That's putting it mildly." Susan gazed at the clear horizon, muttering to herself as various vessels of Cabal make began making their way to their general location. "We're about to have company."

"Think they'll shoot first and ask questions later?"

"Let's not tempt our former enemies, please."


Author's Note: Consider this a brief teaser of what's to come. By the time you finish reading this, the sequel story should already be uploaded and online.

See you in Acts of an Old Exodus!