Sloane peered out from beneath her bangs at the charcoal black sky. Another storm moving in. Perfect cover for her, even if it meant rusted weapons. She ducked back under the cover of her tent in the throwaway camp of the rogues.
She fingered the chain on her neck. The teeth hanging from the crude rope clinked together as they settled against her pale skin. Sloane could recite who she’d taken each tooth from and how she’d killed them.
Sloane had an excellent memory.
“Hey,” said a soft voice from her right.
Sloane’s head swung around in a slow motion to meet the dark eyes of her oldest comrade, Mikhail. His skin beaded with sweat in the swelling humidity as he crouched next to her. “Mikhail,” she replied. “Any news?”
“You always ask me of nothing but news.” He chuckled and elbowed her. “It’s as though we have no friendship.”
“Our friendship runs strong, and you know it. But we have everything to do and nothing to lose. What news?”
He nodded. “Father is preparing the Breeders for a fresh round of child bearing. But he’s still not sure if Flint can make a son or not.”
Sloane snorted and sat back on her haunches with a gleam in her eye. “Of course he won’t. He never has. I wonder why?”
“Well,” Mikhail said as he stretched his legs out in front of him. “They say he can’t keep up.”
A siren interrupted Sloane’s giggles and they sat up and leaned into the steady downpour. Four of the leaders stood in the clearing looking for them. Sloane walked towards them slowly, eyes following their movements.
The closest one to her spun on his heel and stared at her. “You scared me, Sloane.”
“Not hard to do,” she mused, and fingered the teeth around her neck. “Am I adding to my collection tonight?”
They backed away collectively as she caressed the sharp point of the bone awl hanging loosely from her belt. “Yes,” said the eldest. “We have a new assignment for you and Mikhail.”
* * * *
The high fence loomed in darkness, only a sliver of light peeking over the side from a security lamp on the other side. Sloane stood, hands on her hips, and looked over the smooth stone.
“Well, Mikhail,” she whispered. “Shall we?”
“Shouldn’t we search for an easier route in?” He looked doubtful.
“Why?” She used a tree for leverage and swung her feet up the wall until she perched in the high branches and peered over the wall. Mikhail, shaking his head, landed neatly beside her. She pressed a finger to her lips and pointed.
A man sat in the gardens, alone and unaware of their presence. His muscled back shifted as he sighed and leaned forward to pick a flower from the ground. Sloane jumped to the ledge of the fence and cocked her head.
“Oh, sweet flower,” the man said, his deep voice betraying the pain he felt. “We’re both out here, in the cold, alone.” He turned the petals over in his fingers and held it to the moonlight. “Now that I’ve picked you, you’ll die. And now that he’s picked me, I’ll die.”
Sloane dropped to the ground, Mikhail on her heels. The man heard their feet and turned, dropping the flower to the ground. “Who’s there?”
Ignoring her friend’s hands, Sloane stepped into the moonlight. “Who are you?” She looked at him inquisitively, ignoring his defensive stance.
“Who are you?” he retorted. A look dawned across his face. “Oh. No, no, no. You’re that assassin girl. You’ve come to kill me.”
She snorted and shifted forward so quickly the man had trouble following her movements. She ran a hand across his back and he shivered. “Cold hands, warm heart,” she murmured, fascinated with the way his skin flexed. “Are you Father?”
The other flashers:
Julie Hayes (m/m)
West Thornhill (m/m)
Elyzabeth M. VaLey (m/f)
Freddy MacKay (m/m)
Lily Sawyer (m/m)
Sui Lynn (m/m)