Lex could feel her nerves tingling. Her heart was beating fast; and, as she clenched her fists, she could tell her palms were sweaty.

Behind her, she could barely hear the curses of the female Yautja pilot as she landed the transporter as gently as she could. The deep breaths of the giant male warrior, Rave, was also barely caught.

Beside her, Scar finally spoke once more, his tone a murmur in her ears.

"When that door opens... there will be many challengers. Their eyes will fasten onto your mark. They will see- they will SMELL- what you are. To them, you are an Ooman still. To them, you are not worthy."

Lex's brown eyes flashed to drill into the amber eyes beside her, the last word sparking a flame that appeared out of nowhere.

Not worthy?

"Until you kick their blind Yautja asses-" Rave started to say.

But a clonk to the head by the smaller ebony Yautja silenced him, "Shut up, you big idiot. Can't you see he's preparing her? And there are Honored Warriors in there. Along with the Un-blooded and Blooded warriors, the Honored ones will be hardest to beat. Not to mention stuck-up Young Bloods such as yourselves will be lining up to prove his own worth."

"I know that." Rave growled in his defense, whipping his head around to glare at Jet, "Don't get your locks in a bunch. I was just giving them some words of encouragement."

Jet snorted half-heartedly, "Just shut up and let them talk."

"You're lucky I can tolerate you." Rave rumbled sullenly, his eyes narrowed.

But the exchange of the two didn't affect the yellowish-brown nor the brown-skinned warriors near the transport's main door.

"You should not speak in your Ooman tongue-" Scar continued to calmly instruct.

(Why not?) Lex growled, taken sudden offense though she knew her comrade meant none.

"It would make some look down on you more. It will only emphasize the differences between you and the ones who favor the old ways."

(And the old ways would be...?)

"All who are not Yautja, are not people. All who are not people deserve nothing but death." Scar recited solemnly.

(I will prove my worth. Gain my honor.) Lex said, trembling with growing rage, (They will see-)

"Yes," Scar said, placing his huge hand around Lex's clenched fist. A fist she had not realized was balled up so hard that blood dripped from her palms. She turned unfocused eyes on the solid amber ones beside her as he continued, "they will soon see. But don't forget... WE know your true worth. I will personally challenge those who question-"

(No...) Lex said, shaking her head. To Scar's confused and slightly hurt look, Lex said more clearly, (I am touched by your offer, but I will fight my battles. I must earn them myself, or they will not even BEGIN to realize what I am capable of.)

This made Scar's mandibles twist into a proud lopsided grin. She was a fiery one, this Ooman, "As you wish it."

With a slight hiss, the door before them announced it would start to open. All four pairs of eyes inside the small transport darted to the same seam. Slowly, it grew wider to show the interior of the large Yautja mothership. They were inside one of the larger ceremonial chambers, Jet having forgone the regular ship docks to go straight to this place. Just as Scar had ordered.

Just as Lex had wanted.

"If at any time you wish to surrender-"

(I will never.) Lex snarled, (To surrender is to DIE.)

"Good." Scar said approvingly, "It seems I have taught you better than I thought."

(You make a good teacher...) Lex said, dropping out of her nervous, rigid stance to turn and smile at Scar. She had a feeling this would be the last time she smiled warmly in a LONG while.

"If you lose to even ONE of those bastards, I will PERSONALLY have to render you to pieces." Rave said gruffly behind her, his thick muscled arms crossed over his wide chest.

Before Scar could retort, Lex beat him to it and turned her head to look slightly over her shoulder at him, a one-sided grin adorning her face, (You can try...)

Then the door was open and all four's attention was drawn to the outside of the transport. They had feared no one would be inside the chamber. They had feared to have empty space and large walls to meet their eyes.

It seems their fears were uncalled for.

"What is the meaning of thi-" Healer Umtok began to rant indignantly. That is, of course, before he cut himself short as his eyes took in all the inhabitants of the transport.

After glancing quickly over his tall, lean form, Lex quickly disassociated him with a warrior type and scanned the large crowd behind him. And what a large crowd of Yautja it was. All standing frozen behind Umtok, all gazes on the Ooman woman.

"At least half the ship's gotta be here..." Jet clicked in awe, her ebony gaze sweeping the immense chamber's interior, "And by the time word gets out, all of the ship WILL be here..."

"Look at them," Rave couldn't help grinning, "their shock has pierced their tongues."

Unfortunately, all the shock seemed to leave their faces at the same time as they began to roar indignantly.

"WHAT is THAT!" Umtok declared as he pointed, his thin hands shaking in anger.

Lex had thought he was pointing at her. But he was in fact, pointing at the mark on her cheek.

Rave stepped up immediately, "It is the mark of the Clan. OUR Clan. The Clan of the Crescent Blood. Have you all forgotten! Or have you all gone BLIND at once!"

More roars were hurled around the room, more than one brandishing a weapon with clear intent to kill.

"This. IS. Preposterous!" Healer Umtok raged.

Lex felt her hopes sinking to the very bottom of her stomach. There were so many Yautja. So many dangerous faces twisted with hatred. Would she be able to convince them? Would she even have a chance to?

When Lex felt Scar leave her side, she couldn't bring herself to tear her gaze from the mass of muscled bodies before her, her eyes unable to count just how many were there. She could hear something being dragged behind her. She even caught Rave's questioning tone.

Before she could even think to gaze behind her, she felt and heard more than saw something sweeping by her. Though startled, she prided herself in not jumping as she latched her gaze on what she thought was Scar jumping high into the air.

But a flash of teeth, the sleek darkness of chitin armor, the large crown of the skull... and she knew.

It was the Queen's head.

The trophy soared high into the air from Scar's throw, arching almost to the ceiling before it came back down with alarming speed. The crowd dispersed at the point it would land, making a large circle around it. It landed with a small shudder and all were silent for a moment. Then, like wildfire, murmurs washed over the crowd.

"Wh-what is the meaning of this?" Umtok questioned with surprise overlying his indignant tone.

Ignoring him for the moment, Scar turned his attention towards the crowd, "I'm sure we all know what THAT is. We all know the large numbers that fall and die under a Queen's merciless hand. But what I tell you now is a statement that I stake upon my honor itself. THAT TROPHY... was killed by none other than Rave, I... and this Ooman that stands before you!"

Dead silence reigned once more.

More than a few mandibles hung slack disbelief.

But one's own honor was a high stake to be making. Stripped of it, the Yautja would become one of the disgraced and would be forced to live in the slums of the ship. Stripped of it, a warrior would not be able to look another in the eye. Without honor, a Yautja Warrior was NOTHING.

Lex was grateful for Scar's actions.

Hell, he had saved her life more than once in that arctic wasteland back on Earth. Without Rave or Scar, she wasn't sure would've been able to escape alive much less with her mind intact. Not only that, but she was sure she felt something... something unexplainable between herself and Scar.

Lex shook her head to dispel the thoughts. Now was not the time.

Nodding once at her comrades, Lex stepped forward.

It was a brazen act.

Maybe before, the Yautja would've killed her outright. But now... now that they realized only SHE, Rave and Scar had taken down a Queen...

Now it was a whole different story...

Whole teams had gone against the kainde amehda's large Queen and most had been decimated. There were very few survivors. And to say that only those three had killed one?

Lex forced herself to keep walking, grateful as the crowd parted to let her through.

Scar's mandibles clenched unconsciously as he watched her walk through that large crowd. Honor be damned.

If one of them dared touch her before she issued the challenge Scar wouldn't be held responsible for his actions. Unfortunately, his large comrade knew him too well and Rave was her to place a large hand on his shoulder.

"We can't..." Rave said so low even Jet, who was right beside him, had trouble hearing, "This is HER battle."

"I know..." Scar said through gritted teeth and mandibles. He was churning inside.

He had risked life and limb to get out of that cold wasteland on Earth. He had gone back for her. Saved her. Was forgiven by her. But what she didn't realize was that she was not the only one who was saved...

Scar himself, felt like SHE was the one who saved HIM...

The silence roared in her ears as Lex forced herself to keep walking.

She just kept expecting to get stabbed through with cold steel and impaled by many Combisticks. But none challenged her. None stood their ground. They wouldn't fight her, yet...

Most towered over her as Lex made her way to the middle of the room. In what seemed like eons, she finally reached where Scar had thrown the head. This was the place. This was where she'd make her stand.

As if they acknowledged this, the circle around the head and Lex grew larger.

Many looked eager, clicking their mandibles in anticipation.

That's when Scar realized a fatal flaw in his normally precise calculations. How would she issue her challenge if she could not speak their words?

That's when Lex surprised even her comrades.

She spoke, but not in the Ooman language.

She spoke with the People's words.

"I STAND HERE TODAY... A WARRIOR AMONGST YOU! IF ANY DARE CHALLENGE MY STATUS... MY ROLE... MY PLACE IN THIS CLAN... then you will FIGHT me! HERE! AND NOW!" Lex roared angrily, heated eyes streaking across the room.

"FIGHT me NOW or forever hold your peace..." Lex growled, her voice pitching dangerously low as she fell into a warriors stance.

Before she could even issue any rules, the mass of warriors broke and a few charged heedlessly.

It seems her challenge was a bit TOO convincing.

Jaw clenched, Lex whipped out a dagger, the same dagger she had received from Rave and did what she could.

She waited.


Hopefully you guys could wait too.