More Leander Crane related stuff.

This is more world building than story really.  There’s a danger my next webnovella will revolve around this now, if I like it enough.

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As she lay on the floor, tendons neatly severed, Michelle cursed herself for choosing the black powder weapon. On any other day it would have been a small crossbow or even some form of blade, and she wouldn’t be lying on the floor with her legs useless and a simple thief standing over her.

She was screaming, but it wasn’t because of the pain. Yes, the pain from her legs was astronomical, but she was a professional, she could deal with pain. It was the helplessness that was getting to her. Normal injuries will impede your ability, but they can be overcome with willpower. Michelle recalled an event where, while sporting a broken arm, she had manually loaded and fired a siege ballista while fighting off three armed barbarians. Now she couldn’t even stand up, and no amount of willpower was going to change that. She was screaming because her body had betrayed her.

He was going to kill her, there was no other way it could end, you don’t cripple someone unless you mean to kill them. Michelle was a professional, however, and even in death she would see to it that the thief would be brought to justice. The thief was reaching for his sword now, only time for one quick glance out the doorway and into the dark.

There it was, the tiniest little glint in the darkness. Then the blade penetrated her heart.

 

*

 

The rat watched silently as its mistress died. It didn’t really understand what it was seeing, but it made a mental note anyway, a human would probably want to know eventually. They usually did.

 As the tall human male walked past, the rat took off after him, keeping to the shadows. It would be simple enough to keep track of him, that was what he was trained to do after all, but why bother? With his mistress dead, who was there left to report to? Perhaps there would be someone the mistress knew, one of her many mates perhaps, who would understand.

 The rat followed the male for almost an hour, an almost silent ticking sound the only sign of his presence. He had taken naturally to the life of a Rat Spy, a mechanically altered rodent used for the purposes of espionage and the like. Plague Rats, his particular breed, were the most suited for the job, being the most intelligent and numerous of all rats. A few small modifications and they made excellent surveillance equipment, assuming someone remembered to wind their brain. When the male finally reached his destination, the rat made a concerted effort to remember it and ran off to report.

 His brain was unwinding rapidly. Rat Spies were invented for short range missions, each memory using up more runtime to entrench into their brain. An hour long shadowing session would be impossible for most rats, even those that had been freshly wound, but this rat was going to try his very best.

 As the ticks became slower and quieter, he could feel his natural personality kicking in. He wanted to abandon it all, forget about the humans and go back to eating and reproducing. This wouldn’t do. On a nearby cobblestone, the rat turned his head and smashed his head painfully in an attempt to turn the small key that protruded from between his ears. There was a sound and he felt some of his senses return. It wasn’t much, but it might just be enough, if only he could find one of his mistress’s mates. It wasn’t as if they were in short supply.

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