The Characters, Locations and Situations are the creation and property of the Author. This Story is set in the Authors own created Universe.

CALM BEFORE THE STORM

The woman sat in the Lotus Position in her tent. This was a ritual for her, a preparation for battle that had been part of her life for close to 20 years, ever since she had come to this place and had risen to become the woman she was now. It was a cleansing ritual, a clearing of her mind, a focusing of her purpose. She knew her Sisters were, in their own way, following the same ritual, whether is was like herself meditating in quiet and silence, spending time with friends in quiet contemplation of what was to come, or spending time with lover or Freemate, each one of them, in their own way asking the same focusing questions of themselves that she was.

'Who are you?'

The Phrase echoed in her mind, precursor to her Self Audit

'I am Shaani, Leader and Mother to the Sha'hi'na'

Her mind ticked this over, contemplating everything that that name and title meant. Shaani, The Outsider, The One Who Came From Afar. She Who Is Mother, The Eyes Of Justice. The Voice of Doom, She Who Rose Quickly, The Right Arm Of The Throne. All those were what they called her, but the most common name she had was simple, direct, and to the point - Deathshadow!

'Who were you?'

'Shani Louise McAdams'

A name that was her past. Had it truly been 20 years since a young, 17 Year Old Girl had been pulled from the wreck of a Shuttle forced to crash land on this Planet all those years ago after fleeing from Cratonan Fighters? She had, in the end, been the only survivor, stranded here on a World Light-years from all that she knew, cut off from friends, family, all that had been her life before, all that she had been before. She snorted as she remembered the selfish, egocentric teenager she had been, the haughty Admiral's daughter, child of a Fleet legend.

'What is this day?'

'The end and the beginning!'

Today would be the last day. The day when the last five years of battles would end. Either they would be victorious today, or by nightfall she and her Sisters would be a memory.

The first light of the coming dawn began to penetrate her tent.

'Soon!! Soon they will call, and soon the struggle will end'

Five years! Five years of brutal and uncompromising warfare that had ravaged Endara. And for two of those years she had been 'Mother'. Chosen by her predecessor, Ariandi. There had been those who had objected, stating that 'The Outsider' (always, always said with a sneer) was unworthy. 18 had come forth to challenge her, 18 had died in The Circle, a contest that could have only one outcome. No-one dared question her again! No-one questioned her now, she had lead, and lead well, and the Sha'hi'na had prospered and grown in a way it hadn't for generations!

Now, at the end of The Wars of Reform, the Sha'hi'na were to be the difference. They would strike, taking The Enemy from behind, and ending once and for all the threat to The Throne. Soon, those Lords who had thrown in their lot with the Traitor Assassin Mal'brah who had made his bid for the Throne with the most despicable act of all, the ambush and murder of the Emperor, his wife and the Heir and his two sisters five years ago and plunged the Empire into Civil War. He would soon know the wrath, the revenge, of the Sha'hi'na for the massacre, the butchery of the 800 at Tean Ra two years ago, the event that had dragged the Sha'hi'na out from its ancient, traditional neutrality and into this war on the side of the Throne. Their Sister's Ka would be laid to rest, and her Freemate, the only member of the Imperial Clan to survive, simply by dint of being with her on a Hunt all that time ago would finally lay the ghosts of her family to rest.

'Arrogance is a fool's opinion!'

Her 'Inner Voice' was right. Today of all days was not one to be taken lightly. She remembered something her Birth Father had once said, a memory from the time before her arrival. "No Battle Plan lasts beyond First Contact with the Enemy!" Something she had best remember. True, the odds were in their favour, but a Battle is a fluid thing, and the tiniest overlooked detail can turn Victory into Defeat and Order into Chaos.

Horns blared. The sound of her Sisters, her Army beginning to stir, beginning to gather, impinged on her consciousness. She let herself drift up out of her meditative state, her mind clear and focused on what was to come, what she and they were to do.

'Time!'

'Time indeed!'

She Rose, and went forward to meet whatever fate would come.

In the third hour after dawn, on the sixteenth day of the Year Without God's, the Armies of the Imperial Endarian Crown under the Empress Lucinda, and the forces of the Assassin Lord Mal'brah clashed for the final time between the Ridge's of Helda and Soma on the Plains of Sho'aan. Both Armies were evenly matched at 70.000 strong For two hours the Battle swayed back and forth.

In the Third Hour of Battle, after a forced march of 80 kilometres at unprecedented speed, the Sha'hi'na entered the fray. 20.000 strong, they struck suddenly and ferociously from behind the Ridge of Soma and took Mal'brah's forces completely unexpectedly (and fast) from behind and Mal'brah's Army broke. The slaughter began. By early that afternoon the battle was decided. The Empress took Mal'brah's head personally and avenged her father's Regicide and the brutal murder of her mother, brother and sisters.

It would be a further 70 years before a Ship from the Federated Alliance entered the Endaran System and learned the fate of Admiral McAdams' Daughter. She would die 12 years before then, a well-respected leader and an honoured legend to the Endarian people.