Luna Gutierrez was in the middle of a meeting when time stopped. Everyone else in the room sat frozen. Henderson’s coffee mug teetered on the edge of the table, about to be knocked off by his careless elbow. Rogers was leaning back in his chair, teetering dangerously close to falling over. And all Chow’s folders were about to spill out of her arms and across the floor.
Tingles ran through Luna’s body as she was transported halfway across the universe in a flash. She’d grown accustomed to the unpleasantness of the journey. Hadn’t thrown up in years. Nonetheless, a bucket bearer stood by the transport machine in case she should need it. She waved him off.
The Empress of Throx, a tall, green warrior, saluted Luna. “Most Favored, I apologize for this sudden call, but—”
“What’s wrong?” asked Luna.
“The armies of Lord Wort stand amassed outside our city, and he refuses to speak to anyone but you.”
Several Throxians undressed Luna and outfitted her in her warrior attire. She loved the sword, wished she could carry it into corporate meetings now and then. And she’d like to see Bennett pull off a cape like this.
“We are prepared to fight by your side, Most Favored. Nothing would please me more than to die by your side.” The Empress took Luna’s hand. “Almost nothing.”
Luna caressed the Empress’s cheek. “Nobody dies today.” She adjusted her sword. “Well, maybe one person.”
She walked out of the city walls by herself. The legions were endless, spreading across the Red Plains to the horizon. The Throxians would sell their lives dearly, but this wasn’t a fight they could win.
Lord Wort, a towering creature of blue with great black tusks and yellow eyes, stood before Luna. His cruel laughter echoed in the utter silence. “This is the Most Favored? This puny thing conqured the Cthala Beast and slaughtered the Yellow Sail Pirates? You must be joking.”
“You talk while you’re sword remains silent,” replied Luna.
He scowled. “And you cannot win a fight with death, puny one.”
“Can we skip the taunts and just get onto the fight?” she asked. “I have a busy day ahead of me.”
Lord Wort bellowed and charged her. She vaulted high in the air and with one stroke, removed his head. His body moved blindly, swinging its sword without direction.
“Over here, you idiot!” screamed Wort, as if his body had ears to hear him. “Here! Here!”
His body tripped in the dirt. It felt around blindly for its weapon, and his legion chuckled.
Luna placed her sword between Wort’s eyes. “Do you yield?”
He grunted. “I yield. This day is yours, Most Favored, but know that I—”
“I’ve heard it before. You’ll return. You’ll have your revenge. Tell that to the Cthala Beast or the Yellow Sail Pirates or the War Barons of Tro. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear all about it. But I’ve got more important things to deal with.” She kicked his head over to his body. “Now get out of here before I change my mind.”
She thought about telling him to quit while he was ahead, but it was a tired joke and there was little humor on this world.
Lord Wort, his head tucked under his arm, retreated from the Red Plains with his army. The Empress embraced Luna with one set of arms while her second ran down Luna’s back. “Most Favored, you save us again.”
They kissed, but Luna pushed the Empress away. “I need to get back. The time freeze doesn’t last forever.”
“As you wish, but you will return to us soon?”
“I have a free evening Thursday.”
The Empress bowed. “I shall prepare accordingly.”
Luna’s assistants removed her warrior garb, returning it to chest of honor with due reverence, and put her back into her suit. She stepped into the machine and smiled at the Empress. “May the moons honor you.”
The Empress blushed as Luna disappeared in a flash. She materialized in the board room as time slowly caught up to her. Before it did, she pushed Henderson’s mug away from the edge, gave Rogers’s chair a stabilizing shove, and gathered up the falling files and put them on the table. Time resumed.
Her boss nodded approvingly. “Luna, you may have just saved the day again.”
She shrugged. “Somebody has to.”