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Strider’s Strikers Headquarters
Miranda, Labrea System
Irece Prefecture
Second Quarter, 3068

Mace awoke with a drawn-out mumble, coming to reality from a deep sleep upon hearing just the slightest noise in the room. As he came to his senses and realized where he was, instinct took over. He was completely still, silently hoping anyone that might be in the room could not focus on him with their natural senses. He kicked himself mentally for having made the earlier mumble, no doubt something leftover from the dream he'd just broken out of.

It was late, that much was for sure. No one was usually moving around near his quarters at this time of night. Just down the hallway lie his lancemates' rooms. He doubted any of them were up and about, but no one could be positive. Mace cracked open his eyes, silently waiting for the adjustment he so desperately needed. He realized it was nearly there. After having adjusted to the dim light directly, he simply needed to focus on the shapes surrounding him in the darkness.

He could make out the chair just to the right of his bed. It seemed his pants were still visible on the back of the metal-framed backrest, giving it an odd hunched shape that might resemble some form of alien life. Mace nearly cracked a smile. He'd stopped fearing the dark when he was 4 and a half and he wasn't about to go back to doing it now.

His eyes wandered over the rest of the nearby surroundings. An overwhelming darkness just to his right seemed the usual silhouette of his desk. Just beyond that were two matching dressers, furniture he'd picked up shortly after the Strikers had settled on Miranda. His eyes flashed to the left side of the room, pinpointing a shape near the door that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. There, in the silence of the small enclosed space of his bedroom, loomed a mysterious new shadow.

Mace's mind raced to the next conclusion. This was no friendly unannounced guest. Where did he leave the Dirk sword? That was an easy question, and he realized he'd only thought it because of the nervous sickness that was now affecting his body. He had to clear his mind. Cool. Calm. Remember the training. The sword was in the same place he put it every night. It was on the left side of his bed, running parallel with the wall just under the mattress frame. The next dilemma was all the worse. What would his move be? Could his invader see his every move, or did he hold some advantage over the unwelcome bastard? If natural movement would provoke an attack, Mace ought to do his best with speed. However if this predator was simply watching its prey, any suggestion of an attack would likely mean immediate death.

The choice came somewhere in between, rolling onto his side softly and as if in an uneasy slumber, Mace dropped his right arm out of sight as he rolled onto his stomach. There he felt the cold hilt of the Dirk, a sensation so profound it was only surpassed by that of the fear that coursed through his veins in the form of adrenaline.

The next move would be fast. For either type of death he was facing, prolonged or immediate, he would meet it as best he could with the original weapon he had trained with since his days as a teenager.