Chapter 57: The Distraction

Convincing a few tattered residents of the aptly named “Poors” to fight turned out to be surprisingly easy.

“Fall back!” Leliana yelled at her little contingent of outlaws. The team ran for cover as a tempest of bullets chipped away at the concrete walls they hid behind. She took a quick head count, hoping she’d called the retreat in time – a second contingent had come in a lot faster than she’d anticipated. Fourteen out of fourteen heads accounted for. Perfect.


They had almost pushed the uniforms back another block before the second group joined the fray. Bullets rained down in a steady stream from two sides, now. Something needed to be done about that or her little rebellion would be stopped in its tracks. “Anybody got any bombs left!?”

The two youngest members of the gang had been too afraid to use the ones she handed them in the beginning. A suspiciously Jovi-like voice shrilled in the back of her mind: these kids aren’t even old enough to wield a bottle of spirits, WHY ARE YOU GIVING THEM EXPLOSIVES?! She shook the voice away, pocketing the two small shrapnel grenades. Then she motioned for Bruiser and Cow, the gang’s second and eldest, respectively, to keep up a volley of return fire to buy her some time to plan.

She pulled the rest in for a huddle. “Alright listen,” her voice hoarse from yelling, “I’m going to get behind those guys and scatter them. Turn their attention around, maybe get ‘em to chase me.” She looked into each soot-stained face, each eye full of determination, to be sure she had their attention. “When the shooting stops, DO. NOT. FIRE. This whole thing is waste of time if we get put down like dogs before we even leave the Poors. We need to beat the bastards, blast the number three warehouse open, and get armed. Really armed. Then they’ll have to listen to our demands.”

The misfits nodded enthusiastically. She gagged the Jovi in the back of her head again. Sure, she felt a little bad about using them like this. Then again, she’d caught them looting an entire housing complex full of terrified families, threatening to kidnap children if they resisted – so she didn’t feel that bad.

They were very enthusiastic after she’d painted the streets with their former boss’s insides.

Between the air pollution, the despotic government, and the exclusion of the Poors from the waste and food transport networks, people around here weren’t generally long-lived. If she inspired a few of them to action while accomplishing her mission, she’d count that a success.

“Paige, you ready with that skeleton key?” She asked.

One of the women, a short firecracker with singed bottoms and a stolen top, unfurled a small black pouch from an inside pocket. A few ounces of high-grade adhesive explosives was nestled into a pouch stuffed with cotton and sawdust. “Gotchya covered, chief.” Leliana clapped her on the back, sending the girl sprawling into the street.

“Ah, oh, sorry…We’re all counting on you, you got this!” The group chuckled good naturedly, helping Paige to her feet.

She took one last look at her merry band of outlaws. She could get used to this. “Alright team, give me a little distraction and wait for my signal.” Leliana dashed back the way they’d come, thankful that the people of the Poors all retreated into their homes once the shooting started. She didn’t have to worry about collateral damage, at least.

She turned down a narrow alley between the apartments and a ration store, whose roof was just about level with the top of the wall around this section of town. The Poors was a smelly section of Gungrave constructed entirely of concrete and human waste. The whole place was packaged neatly into a concrete border wall and a few wrought-iron gates to be closed promptly at 8pm. To keep crime down in the other sections of the city. She scoffed at the idea and took a running leap. She took a step and kicked off the apartment building toward the shop, then bounced back to the apartment, rebounding back and forth until she stood atop the food shop, fifteen meters up. The wall, including spikes and barbed wire, was just about level with her head.

Ugh, what she wouldn’t give for some of her old equipment. Just because it’d been the Labs’ hadn’t been a very good excuse to have lost it so recklessly.

Leliana took a couple of deep breaths, getting pumped up. “Time to make Vea proud,” she muttered.

Girl, do not invoke my memory to incite violence.

She laughed and shook away that chastising voice. Well, anything is better than when it used to be Brutus’s slimy voice, she supposed.

She bolted to the edge of the concrete-tiled roof and easily cleared the two meter height difference. She spotted her opposition through a burning haze of smog and watering eyes. Still only two groups of uniforms so far. Ten men to the left, fifteen to the right. Leliana rolled as she landed to shed some momentum. The slate tiles cracked and splintered as she landed, but the roof held.

Whew. That had been a concern of hers.

“Oi! Who’s up there?”

“Woops.” She had to hurry. She popped the igniter on one of the small grenades and bounced it off the warehouse next door. Her aim was good, if the screams of surprise were any indication. She sprinted across the rooftop and hurtled over the narrow streets onto another slate roof before the first explosive had even detonated.


Angling a bit to the right, she jumped and spun a full circle, dropping the grenade halfway through. It landed directly in the middle of the group, and she finished the spin to land on a flat concrete roof behind them.

Leliana whipped a couple of loose shingles into the peace officers to really stir things up, wincing as another blast sprayed a handful of gravel all the way up to where she was hiding. The added insult to injury worked, and most of the men gave chase as she fled the scene – taking special care to stay visible to both parties. She made an escape via rooftop, twenty five angry rifles in tow.

Damn I hope this works.

“So this…infection of yours-”

“Not mine, Gregory. Just a project I’ve taken on.” Lilith cut in.

“Right. Out of the charity of your heart, I’m sure,” Overseer Mortimus sneered. “This infection you tell me will wipe out my entire population unless I help you apprehend this girl of yours.” He stroked his chin. “Even were I agreeable to a charade like this, and I’m not, where would we even begin to search?” He threw his arms in the air, “do you have any idea how long a combing of a city this size takes? Longer than a damned week, I’ll tell you that much.”

Lilith smiled. “Don’t you fret your little head about it. This is a special girl. She’ll let us know when she’s here.”

The Overseer’s mouth gaped before he snapped it shut. “And you’re just going to be a pain in my ass, drinking my wine and dictating my country while you wait for a letter?” He was on his feet before he realized it, slapping a stack of papers into the opposite wall.

“Don’t be an idiot, Gregory.” She purred. “I’m not sure how she plans to tell me, I just know that she will. In the meantime you won’t even notice I’m here,” she assured him. “Now be a good host and fetch us some wine, will you dear?”

Author: keyboardcouple

A couple who write and learn in front of their keyboards.

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