When Lilly steps out of the conference into the hallway where Axion is posted, he eagerly asks, “Your negotiations are complete?”
“Well, I’m not so good at negotiating. I got early leave,” Lilly tells him.
“Sounds like you’re an excellent negotiator, then,” he replies. “That is a hard prize to win.”
Lilly laughs. “Then I’ve won my first sparring for today.”
“Selendis is a valiant warrior, but she doesn’t have as much field time as I do. Come! To the sparring room!” Axion leads Lilly to the same room they fought in last time. Various weapons are mounted on the wall, including two enormous battle axes with long handles. They are practically halberds. “We found these in an archive in an old colony, relics of another age,” he explains, taking her over to examine them. “We have been reactivating weapons from previous wars. The Aiur blades are not weapons we would prefer to use, but desperate times call for desperate measures for us, so we are trying them out. And I will be honest, I am curious how a terran handles them. That may unfortunately be something we need to know.”
Axion takes one down off the wall and tosses it to Lilly. She fumbles the catch a little bit. “Whoa! That’s heavier than I expected. What’s this thing made of?”
“Some kind of metal,” he says disinterestedly. “That’s for the khalai caste, not the templar caste, to worry about.” He encourages her to take a few swings to get used to its feel, since he wants it to be a fair fight. “I am somewhat unfamiliar with the weapon as well, but I have the benefit of superior physiology.”
Lilly does not argue with that. She tries it out for a bit and finds the Aiur blade rather unwieldy. This is definitely no knife, though it does look wickedly sharp. With the weight it has, it could do some serious damage. Axion also practices a bit, and she notes he looks a little unsteady as he whips it all the way around in a full circle. They will be evenly matched as far as inexperience with the weapon goes.
Axion also presents Lilly with a small device on a belt that he has her clip around her waist. It will generate a personal shield around her once he powers it on. Their duel is not to first blood, given the vicious nature of the Aiur blades. Rather, they will fight until someone’s shield gets overtaxed. This will allow a full-contact, yet non-lethal, match. “Don’t hold back,” Axion encourages her.
Lilly nods in agreement, and the battle commences. Axion is taller than she is but does not seem as sturdy, so she throws her full weight behind each swing. He said don’t hold back, after all. Hope these shields are good. She enjoys the bout, but her focus is split between her opponent and the cumbersome weapon itself. Axion deploys his spin attack against her, but it is so telegraphed that she easily backs out of the way. On one bold move, Lilly swings her Aiur blade up high, intending to crash it down on Axion, but it topples backward, and she falls with it. The shield protects her a good deal as she lands on its keen edge, but she strains her shoulder in a vain attempt to twist away from it.
Axion’s casual assumption of superiority is rapidly replaced by genuine concern at the injury Lilly has suffered. He throws his Aiur blade aside and rushes over to her. “By Adun’s blade! Are you all right? I will summon a medic here right away. Don’t move! Don’t move.”
“It’s not so bad,” Lilly says, reaching over her shoulder to feel out the point of impact.
“There’s an axe stuck in your back!” Axion cries. The shield was unable to stop the blade completely, and he can see far better than she can the blood from the thin slice it made. Having heard Axion’s psionic call, the pair of veterinarians comes rushing in to check over Lilly.
The protoss all seem worried, but they have a limited understanding of human physiology. “Just pull it out and patch it up,” Lilly tells them. It is not so different from a hydralisk spine. After stitching the wound up, the protoss scientist assures her that the blade missed all her major organs. Lilly laughs. “All the organs in my shoulder?”
“I’m not really sure where all the important terran organs are,” he admits, “but I assume your arms are… I guess. Anyway, you should rest.” He lays a hand on the Aiur blade and turns to the templar nervously hovering nearby. “And you, Axion! These are not toys. You should know better. These are not for terrans to use. It just makes them more dangerous to themselves, as you can see from this.” Face scrunched in a scowl, he gestures at the mess around Lilly.
“It’s not his fault,” she defends Axion. “That’s how you learn.”
“It is very much his fault,” the scientist insists. “He has all the knowledge of the Khala, and he chooses to ignore it.” He storms out of the sparring room.
Axion offers Lilly his deepest apologies. “I am so sorry. I have dishonored myself. I am the one who invited you to duel.”
“It’s fine,” Lilly assures him, demonstrating that her arm still has full movement. “Practice is how we learn.”
“They were right. I should not have put that weapon in your hands. It is not made for terrans,” Axion continues contritely.
“You know what, Axion,” Lilly says, “I would do it again. That was so cool. So tell me about the shield…”