‘So what’s it gonna be kid? You gonna stay hidin’, cowardly like your old ma, or you gonna come out?’ Kassa didn’t flinch from behind the barricade. No grox-brained enforcer was going to get her riled that easily. They had her cornered sure, but she had got out of tighter scrapes than this.

‘Why don’t you come over here and make me? A big boy like you should be able to deal with a little girl easily. You wouldn’t want to disappoint the new captain now would you sarge?’ she shouted back. ‘Not again anyhow.’ She smirked to herself, knowing that hinting at Sergeant Pyriel’s past failures will get under his skin. She checked her two holstered laspistols. The charges were low but she would still get a few good shots in. Crawling to the end of the barricade, she opened a pouch and took out a small mirror. Holding it at the right angle she could see around the edge to where the Enforcers were standing ready. She counted two, hunched over barrels, their shotguns pointing towards her. Moving the angle of the mirror, she could see three more before she saw Pyriel. He was holding something next to his body. Something large. She moved her head closer to the mirror, being careful to stay in cover. She could see what it was, and her heart sank.

‘I can see your little mirror, wretch,’ Pyriel retorted. In his right hand he was holding an autopistol. His left arm clutched a small, dirty, rather indifferent looking child. He pointed the autopistol at the child’s head. ‘I know you can see me worm. And I know you can see that I have something that belongs to you.’ Kassa closed her eyes in frustration, muttering some choice words about her predicament under her breath. Mil was starting to become a liability. She needed to get smarter and fast, or one day Kassa wouldn’t be there to bail her out. She put the mirror back into the pouch and sighed.

‘OK Pyriel, you got me. So what do you want me to do?’ There was a pause. No doubt Pyriel hadn’t thought this far ahead.

‘Well now, how’s bout you come on out, nice and slow like, with your hands in the air. You, me, the little’un and the boys here will take a nice trip to the Precinct. How’s that sound? It’ll be like a family trip for youse.’ There was no way around it, she had to keep him talking and buy some time if she was going to figure out how to get Mil back and get out of here.

‘Ok Pyriel, I’m coming out.’ Kassa replied. She slowly got to her feet, her hands raised above her head. As she rounded the barricade, she accidentally knocked a can from the top, clanking onto the ground, sending two rats scurrying from the shadows towards the Enforcers. She thought it odd that they ran towards someone. Usually they ran away.

‘Careful. We don’t wanna be doin nothin stupid now.’ Warned Pyriel, grinning like a prize winning scrap moss farmer, his autopistol still pointing at Mil’s head. Mil still looked distracted, like she wasn’t really paying attention to the situation. Kassa heard a scratching noise to her left, followed by another rat running from cover towards the Enforcers.

‘So how about a deal Pyriel? You give me back my sister, and I’ll give you something you want? I’ll tell you where the Sump Runner Boys are planning to hit next. That will look good on your record. The brave Sargeant Pyriel, foiling one of the biggest gangs in the Underhive. They might even make you Captain?’ Appealing to Pyriel’s misguided sense of ambition always worked. Anyone with half a brain would have cleaned up this sector by now, given the resources this idiot had. But then even a half brained hiver wouldn’t join the Enforcers.

‘That’s an intrestin idea Kassa. But how bout I takes youse both in, and then we find out what you know anyway. Butch, cuff her’ he ordered. One of the larger Enforcers slung his shotgun behind his back and moved around a barrel towards Kassa. Before he could reach her, an Enforcer behind gave out a yelp of pain. Another jerked, looking to his side as if something had attacked him. Confused, Butch stopped half way towards Kassa, and glanced back towards Pyriel, unsure of what was going on. Kassa took her chance. In a streamlined and practiced motion she drew her laspistols, putting two shots into Butch’s chest, dropping him to the floor. Before the rest of the squad realised what was happening, she ducked behind the barricade. Instead of the expected barrage of shotgun shells, all she could hear were shouts of pain and confusion. Kassa jumped in surprise as Mil’s head appeared around the corner of the barricade.

‘Come on sis. Time to go,’ Mil joyfully informed, without a care in the world. Kassa looked confused for a moment before scrambling to her feet. Mil headed off towards a large pipe opening in the shadows. Following her, Kassa glanced back at the Enforcers. The scene was chaos. The downed Butch was covered in rats, knawing and biting at him as he struggled to throw them off. Each Enforcer was similarly assaulted, throwing rats off them as more climbed up their legs or leaped from walkways above. ‘Kassa, come on,’ Mil shouted, waving her sister towards the pipe.

‘What happened?’ Kassa wondered out loud as she caught up.

‘I did it.’ Said Mil. ‘It’s just something I’ve learned. I think it, and they listen to me. The rats I mean.’ She added nonchalantly, as if it was the most normal thing in the hive. Mil skipped off into the darkness. Kassa looked on, baffled. She would have to keep a closer eye on Mil. But for now, she was just glad to have her back.

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