The 13th Kat

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Chapter 22

Once the bolts of electricity had dissipated, the rebels stood before the enforcers could recharge and fire at them again. “You lot stand at the back, we’ll need you when we reach Saphrax,” Shakrem told the hemsepans, positioning himself at the front and opening fire on the enforcers. Ziazan and Niketas joined him, and between them they managed to take out the majority of the guards before they ran out of shots.

The remaining enforcers saw their opportunity and took it. “Damn you!” Levon shouted as Niketas fell to the floor. He and his brother shot the rest of the enforcers and turned to the others. “Nads, Drystan, Loras, Eznik, you take the hemsepans and get to Saphrax. We’ll deal with any other guards that are hiding and join you there,” Nazar said.

“We’d better go with them, in case they run into anyone on the way,” said Demile, indicating Ovsanna and herself. The rebels separated once again, wondering exactly how many guards they would encounter before getting to where they needed to be.
“Should be in here,” Nadalia said, turning a corner and noticing an ornate door.

“Right, I’ve had an idea,” Loras told everyone. “If you three can wait here, and run in when we shout ’now’ that should give us an element of surprise. Eznik, could you wait with them?” Eznik nodded.

“Okay then, let’s get in there,” Drystan said, pushing open the door. “What… hey, get off me!” he cried, struggling against the enforcer who had grabbed him as he entered the room.

“So, you’re the ones who have blown a hole in the side of my building,” Saphrax said. “I must admit, I wasn’t expecting such a resourceful group of extremists. Though I suppose you have managed to evade my patrols for over a year. And here’s the rest of you,” he said as Nadalia, Loras, Ovsanna and Demile were dragged in. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you, Nadalia. Or do you prefer to be called the Thirteenth Kat?”

Rehan slumped against a wall. “I think that’s all of them. At least on this floor, anyway.” She looked across the room at Levon. “There’s someone we should be looking for,” she told him.

“Right. Can we leave you lot to get to Nads and the others? We’ve got to go and find our spies, get them out of here,” he called to the rest of the group.

Nazar nodded and led the remaining rebels down a corridor towards Saphrax’s personal rooms. They reached the corner where Eznik and the hemsepans stood waiting, and stopped.

“What’s happening?” Mari asked. “Are they in there?”

Eznik motioned for quiet. “They went in a few minutes ago. Saphrax has some enforcers in there; they’re all being restrained,” he whispered. “I don’t know what’s going on exactly, I’m just waiting for them to signal so we can rush in and scare the living daylights out of everyone.”

“Well I’m not waiting,” Mari said, taking a weapon from someone and heading in.

“Mari, hold on! Oh for crying out loud,” Nazar said, running after her.

Lucy glanced around at the rest of the group. “Anyone else fancy running in there?” she enquired.

“I think we’d do better to stay out here,” Mihran answered her. “We don’t need any more enforcers than they already have in there.” They all took up defensive positions along the corridor.

Nadalia stared across the room. “How long have you known?”

“Not long,” Saphrax told her. “Only since yesterday, really. Your dad gave you away, can you believe that? I thought there’d be some family loyalty there–”

“What did you do to him?” she asked heatedly. “He wouldn’t have told you anything unless you forced it out of him.”

Saphrax shook his head. “Is that really what you think of me?”

“Yes,” chorused the assembled rebels.

A cruel laugh came from the corner. “For your information, he didn’t lay a finger on your daddy,” Melicia cackled, stepping forward. “I did. I made him squeal like a little girl before he died.”

Before Nadalia could respond, the door burst open again. “Let my friend go, you bastard,” Mari shouted, aiming carefully at Saphrax.

“Mari, such a shame. You were doing so well, too,” Saphrax signalled one of the enforcers, who pulled Mari’s weapon away and picked her up by the scruff of the neck. “I’ll deal with you in a minute,” he said, noticing who had entered behind her.

“That’s enough, dad. We’re not going to stand for this anymore,” Nazar said firmly.

Saphrax sighed. “Not the conditions I was hoping for, but I suppose it’s the best reunion we can expect. I assume Levon is here, too?”

“Wait, he’s your dad?” Drystan asked incredulously. “What…?”

“I can explain everything later,” Nazar interrupted what was likely to be a tedious list of questions. “There’s a few things I want to clear up before this waste of space gets locked away. I was in your cells earlier, and there were a few people missing that I was expecting to see. Where are Aleyn and Ulfilas?” he asked coldly.

“Ulfilas was caught trying to escape, he died in the attempt. Aleyn was recaptured a few days ago, and it seems my enforcers were a little too enthusiastic. He died on the way back here,” Saphrax said, matching his son’s tone. “You should pick some less defiant friends next time,” he said.

“You’re not even sorry, are you?” Demile cried, wrenching her arm out of the enforcer’s grip and running at Saphrax.

Melicia shot her down before she had taken two steps. “You should listen to your father, Nazar. This lot are dropping like flies,” she scorned. “Dear, shouldn’t you be dealing with that traitor there?” she said, pointing at Mari.

“You’re right, of course. Mari, you really made the wrong decision there. You could have been so much more,” he said, faking regret as he took Melicia’s shocker and shot Mari. “You look upset, Nadalia,” he said, looking at her.

Nadalia only just heard him over the pounding noise in her ears. “Of course I’m upset,” she muttered through clenched jaws. “You’ve killed everyone I care about, you evil bastard!” she screamed, pulling away from the enforcers holding her. She ducked under Melicia’s shocker bolt, picked Mari’s weapon off the floor and emptied it into Saphrax’s head.

Then, several things happened at once. Loras shouted for Eznik, Nazar dragged Nadalia out of the way as the enforcers reached for their pistols, Drystan seemed to fly across the room to attack Melicia, and everyone started screaming as the presence of three hemsepans registered with the enforcers.

“Stay down!” Nazar shouted at Nadalia, pushing her under the desk and standing up to join the fight. Nadalia crouched on the floor, hearing but not really listening to the mayhem in the room. I killed him, she thought over and over. What am I going to do now?

“Die, bitches!” Ovsanna shouted, firing at the enforcers that were left. “I can see why your kind used to enjoy this,” she called to Ryan as the enforcers began to drop.

Melicia screamed as Drystan jumped on top of her, knocking her to the floor. She fired her shocker indiscriminately, hitting someone but neither of them could tell who at the time. “Nads got your boyfriend, but you’re mine,” he shouted at her, twisting her arm and making her drop the pistol.

Loras caught Nyneve as she fell. “Hang in there, we’ll get you out of here,” he said, noticing she had been hit by a shocker bolt that flew out of nowhere. “Try not to move,” he admonished, laying her down out of the way.

It was all over reasonably quickly. Once the room was clear of enforcers, Nazar brought Nadalia out from under the desk. “Nads, it’s over. We did it,” he said gently, helping her up. “Come on, let’s get out of here. Lev and Rehan should be waiting for us,” he said, stepping over Saphrax’s body.

Levon crept forwards. “It’s clear,” he called back to Rehan and the two ants. They walked quickly across the hall, and had almost reached the stairs when they heard a baby crying.

“What’s that?” Rehan asked. “Why would there be a crying baby up here?”

“Saphrax and Melicia had a baby, remember? Sounds like they’ve left her alone in there,” Levon said, nodding towards an open door.

Rehan stared at the door. “Let’s go and get her. She’s just a baby, she hasn’t done anything wrong.” She headed into the nursery to pick up the child.

Viviane was sitting up in her cot, wondering where everyone was. She didn’t like the noise, and wanted her mummy. She saw a younger lady come in, who wasn’t her mummy but looked nice.

“Shhh, it’s okay sweetie. I’ll look after you,” Rehan said, lifting Viviane out of the cot. “Let’s get out of here,” she said to Levon, who was waiting at the door.

They ran back down to the gate with the baby and the ants, to wait for their friends.

“What’s going on in there?” Alaric asked when they reached the gate. “We heard an explosion, so we thought we’d wait here. Is everyone okay?”

“Well, I can’t speak for the enforcers, but most of our side were okay when I left. Shakrem, Niketas and Ziazan are gone though,” Levon answered.

“They should be out soon,” Rehan said, gently bouncing the infant in her arms. “We said we’d wait for them back here, if you like you can wait with us,” she suggested.

After about half an hour, a considerably smaller but triumphant group left the deserted base. Nazar seemed to be leading Nadalia, who looked like she was in a state of shock. Mihran was supporting Isolde, who was bleeding heavily. The first thing Levon looked for, though, was any sign of pursuit by enforcers.

“It’s just us,” Nazar called to his brother. “I doubt there’s any enforcers left alive in there. If there are they’re keeping well out the way of these guys,” he said wryly, gesturing at the hemsepans trailing behind the group.

“Saphrax?” Levon asked, knowing Nazar would understand.

“Dead. Nads did it, though I don’t think she wants to accept it yet,” Nazar told his brother quietly.

Rehan cut in. “Who else is gone? There’s several of us missing,” she said, concerned.

“Mari, Demile and Nyneve. Aleyn and Ulfilas are gone, too. Saphrax told us,” Ovsanna said. “We need to get Isolde and Nads to a medical centre, Isolde got hit by a stray shot and Nads is in shock.”

Alaric nodded. “I’ve got a transport waiting, I thought we might need it one way or the other. Let’s get them in, there’s a hospital just down the road,” he said, helping Mihran carry Isolde into the waiting vehicle.

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