The 13th Kat

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Chapter 21

Lak shuffled about nervously. “Why aren’t they here already?”

“They said they’d come today, so they’re coming,” Meb answered.

“I don’t like being outside,” Lak whined for the thirtieth time. “I want to go home.”

Meb comforted her daughter. “It won’t be long. Look, there’s some people now.”

Nadalia arrived just ahead of the others. “Thanks for waiting. Did you manage to bring everything?” she asked.

“Yes yes, everything’s under the trees over here.” Meb led the rebels over to the small pile of weapons under the trees. “Are we going to take it all back when you finish?” she asked politely.

“I think we can take it from here,” Nazar said. “Thanks a lot Meb, you’ve been a great help.”

The two rats said their goodbyes and scurried back to the tunnels where they felt more comfortable. Everyone picked up their weapons and the three hemsepans discarded their cloaks.

“Right, everyone ready?” Levon asked. “Saphrax’s base is just through those trees. We should be able to get straight in, if Mari and Nyneve have got themselves on the right gate.”

The rebels headed through the trees and came out a short distance from a gate. Mari looked out at them and waved them forwards. “We’ve got about four minutes until the next patrol comes past here, get in quickly,” she said, unlocking the gate and allowing the rebels in.

Drystan nodded. “Four minutes is all we need here. Groups everyone,” he said. Everyone split into their groups.

“Nyneve, could you come down to the cells with us?” Nazar asked. “And if Mari could go with Levon and Rehan’s group. They’re taking out the surveillance equipment, so we won’t need to worry about cameras watching us.”

“No problem,” Nyneve said.

“Okay, we’ll see you on the top floor in twenty minutes,” Nadalia said. “Good luck everyone.”

“This way,” Nyneve called, leading the group down to the cells. “I’ve got the keys copied, if we do this in pairs we can let them all out faster.”

“Good thinking. Are there any guards patrolling down here?” Demile asked, running along behind her.

Nyneve skidded to a halt. “Damn! Yes, there are.”

“Okay. We can take care of them,” Nazar said. “Remember, aim for the limbs, people. We only need to wound them,” he reminded the rest of his group as they cautiously entered the dungeons.

They didn’t see any enforcers for the first few corridors, and let out the prisoners without too much difficulty. “If you head for the back gate it should be open,” Nyneve told them as they were freed. “Make sure you avoid the patrols though, and pull it to when you’re through.”

They had just gone down a level when they ran into a couple of guards. “Nyneve? What’s going… what are they doing here?” one of them asked.

Niketas and Mihran raised their weapons as one and took both guards’legs out. “We’ll just put you two in here for now,” Mihran said, dragging one of them into an open cell. “Here’s a med kit, sort yourselves out. We’ll release you when we’re done here.” Niketas put the other guard in and shut the door.

“Onwards, then,” Xarmen said, opening up the next cell. “Come on you two, time to escape.”

Alaric stretched. “Thank you. Come on Yuni,” he said, holding out his paw to his cellmate.

“Thanks Nyneve. And could you thank Mari for us when you see her?” Katayun asked as they ran past.

“I will,” Nyneve replied. “There shouldn’t be too many more in here now,” she began, but was interrupted by a loud explosion from upstairs.

“Sounds like the cameras are down,” Isolde shouted over the noise of shouting and falling rubble. “I think they used those explosives you found.”

“Probably. Let’s get everyone out then, while the enforcers are worrying about that,” Nazar said, rushing to the next lot of occupied cells.

After letting all the prisoners go, the rebels headed back up the stairs towards the top floor. “You think Saphrax knows there’s something going on yet?” Tsoline asked as they headed past the floor where the surveillance rooms had been.

Glancing at the damage, Nazar replied. “I think he might have noticed, yeah. Let’s get up there.”

Rehan stopped for a moment. “It should be around here…” she mumbled, looking around to get her bearings. “Yeah, down here,” she said, turning down a corridor to the left and opening a door.

There were a lot of screens and a large, flashing computer bank. There was also an enforcer sat in the middle of the room, who looked up when he heard the door open. “What the…?” he said, reaching for a button on the computer in front of him.

Levon fired, sending a shot neatly into the guy’s head. “Sorry. Right, anyone know how we can disable this lot quickly? Preferably without getting caught,” he added.

“Let me have a look,” Mari said. “I worked with this stuff for a while.” She fiddled with the computer for a few minutes.

“Mari, could you do that a bit quicker?” Shakrem asked. “Only, there’s a couple of enforcers heading this way. I think someone heard you shoot that guy, Lev.”

“Bastards,” Levon snapped. “Alright, we’d better stop them getting in here until the cameras are offline.” He took up a position near the door alongside Shakrem and Ziazan.

“Shoot to wound?” Ziazan asked as the enforcers got closer.
Ovsanna piped up. “Screw that, kill the bastards,” she cried. “They’d kill us if we gave them the chance.”

The others looked at each other. “She’s got a point,” Nazeli said. “And they do work for the man who had my brother killed.”

“Headshots it is then,” Shakrem said, turning to face the enforcers. The rebels made short work of the two enforcers, leaving them lying dead on the floor.

Levon turned to Mari. “How much longer?” he asked, hearing people running about downstairs. “It sounds like the others have released most of the captives.”

Mari shook her head in frustration. “There’s some sort of access code. I can’t get in to do anything. The only other way to take the cameras out would be to destroy the machine, but I don’t think…”

“That’s it!” Rehan shouted. “We can use the fire works things! Blow up the computer, that should do it,” she said, pulling the bag of explosives off her back.

“Nice thinking, love,” Levon said appreciatively. “Mari, Ovsanna, can you help set them up while we keep an eye out for more guards?” The three of them set to work getting the fireworks in position while the others kept watch on the door.

“Done,” Ovsanna said a few minutes later. “We pulled the strings out of some to make longer fuses, which we’ve tied together. That way we’ve only got one to light, and more time to get out of here before it blows up,” she told Levon.

“What about the ones you took the fuses out of?” Ziazan asked.

Ovsanna glanced at the bag she was holding. “They’ll still go off, I think, but they’ll go as soon as the heat touches them. We were going to leave them in here, so hopefully they’ll go when the rest do.”

Rehan nodded. “Okay, everyone else out so I can light it. Once it’s lit, we need to start running, because there’s going to be one hell of a big bang.” She bent to light the fuse while the others hurriedly left the room. As soon as the fuse caught, she ran, the rest of the group following close behind.

After about a minute, they stopped to catch their breath. “We should be far enough away by now,” Levon said just before they heard an almighty explosion. A wave of air hit them a few seconds later, carrying a substantial amount of dust from the outer wall.

“I’d say that destroyed the computer banks,” Mari said into a shocked silence. “Come on, we’d better go and meet up with the others,” she said, turning towards the stairs at the other end of the passage.

Drystan peered round the corner. “Okay, there’s a patrol up ahead. They’re moving away, you want to wait until they’re gone or rush them now?” he asked the others.

“Let’s just go. The quicker this is over the better,” Nadalia said. They ran out and charged at the enforcers, who seemed to decide they would rather run away than deal with the approaching rebels and hemsepans.

“Well that was easy,” Loras commented. “I hope the rest are like that.”

As the group moved up through the building, they encountered several more patrolling guards. A few ran off, screaming like frightened children, but most of them weren’t so easily scared.

“Damn, that guy didn’t want to go down,” Drystan said after a confrontation with a pair of particularly obstinate enforcers. “How close are we?”

Eznik answered. “If I remember the maps right, we should be pretty close. There should be a set of stairs at…” A very loud explosion from the next floor down interrupted him. “What the hell was that?”

“I’m going to guess Levon’s group decided to blow up the surveillance equipment,” Nadalia said.

David shook his head. “I was hoping this kind of thing would have stopped after all the humans were gone.”

“Trust me, it doesn’t happen that often,” Loras told him. “In fact, I don’t think anything like this has happened for a few centuries.”

“Can we just get up there?” Drystan said impatiently. “You can do the history lessons later.”

They ran up the stairs and reached the door into Saphrax’s private wing. “Okay, now we just need to wait for the others,” Nadalia said, catching her breath. “They shouldn’t be long.”

Sure enough, Levon and Rehan came running over to them after a few minutes. “Cameras are down. I’m guessing you heard the fireworks go off?” Levon asked. Everyone else nodded. “Naz should be up in a minute, we heard people running out from the cells.”

Once Nazar and his group had arrived, they opened the door and immediately dropped to the floor to avoid getting killed. “I think they were expecting us,” Rehan shouted over the crackling noise of about thirty shocker pistols being fired at once.

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