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May. 29th, 2008

BANG

She doesn't need the sound to know something's up. The events in her headset go quiet, the floor under her trainers becomes hard, and suddenly there's warmth on her skin and a breeze. With that noise she's gone from standing in the familiar environment of her own kitchen to somewhere that's outside - a street.

"Trickshot?" she snaps into her mic. "Robin?"

The reason she's not panicking, she assumes, is that she can't quite decide what to panic about. The change just doesn't make any sense. There's no response in her headset, of course, so she runs over other options before she even considers moving.

The best option, she thinks, is to scream out: "HELP!" and to extend her stick out. Partly to help her explore the environment, partly as a visual clue to anyone who might find her. Without moving her feet, she starts long slow sweeps around her. A road, definitely. Near the kerb. There's a car parked near by.

"HEEE-EEEELPP!" she screams again. Anything to get attention.

The car, she discovers, is a two door hatchback - a Volkswagon. The windows have been smashed, much of the interior including the radio cleaned out, and it's a left hand drive. So is the next car she finds - halfway up the pavement and smashed into a low wall.

Nearby buildings may be residential - houses converted into flats, or may be commercial - houses converted into offices. Failing to find any plaques, she assumes the former.

Taking her time to explore the area, Leah starts towards the warmth of the sun, occasionally stopping to yell, switching to "HEELLLOOOO?" instead. She's never been good at estimating times, but it is in fact nearly an hour before her cries are answered, but it's not the answer she was looking for.

"Well, well, well, what have we here?" a harsh voice calls out in Spanish. "A little lost girl who needs some help?" Rough laughter from the direction of the speaker, four distinct voices. "We'll be glad to help you, little girl."

Leah stops. She would nod to herself, except that her self control is too great - for a second, then she lets her shoulders slump. Instinct prevents her at first from betraying that she speaks fluent Spanish.

"Hello?" she calls out, pretending to be panicking under her genuine relief to hear human voices. "Hello, you don't speak English, do you?"

The rough laughter comes again, "She wants to know if we speak English," the apparent leader's voice is cruel. "Watch this." Then the voice changes, becoming gentler and switching to broken English. "Speak a little English. You... lost?"

It's just her luck, Leah reflects, that she couldn't find friendly voices. It feels and sounds like she'll need as many allies as she can find, and she doesn't want to have to hurt anyone as lost as she is.

"Very," she says, turning her face towards the leader, while listening out for movement. Footfalls circle her, putting paid to the hope she might avoid a fight. "I was in my flat - in Liverpool. What happened? Where am I?"

There is a long pause before the tough answers. "Madrid." He's not nearly as good an actor as he thinks he is and his sly grin comes through loud and clear in his tone. Leah wonders briefly what benefit he could take from lying, then realises, sadly, that sometimes people don't need a reason to be malicious.

"What happened here? Where is everyone?" Leah grips her stick tightly, then relaxes. It's the first of these actions that is deliberate - a ploy to suggest she's vulnerable, and the second automatic, to better use it should she need to.

She really hopes they'll let her help them.

"Monsters," is the answer. "Guess. Not people left." The broken English is clearly making it difficult to explain. Assuming the tough knows what is going on. And assuming he has any interest in doing anything but hurting the woman fate had so kindly gifted him with.

He steps forward, almost to within arm's reach of her, and the men spread around her do the same. "Not worry. We help you."

Leah moves her stick in a small arc, enough to feel how close two of the men are, then lowers her arm almost completely.

"We'll need to help each other, right?" she says, suppressing her accent to make the English more understandable. "To survive?"

"Yes," is the cold answer. Then, in Spanish again, "Let's be careful with this one, yeah? We don't want to break her before we're done with her." One of the other men, the one on Leah's left, starts to speak, "I said I was sorry for kill--" but was cut off. "Just don't let it happen again."

Leah shakes her head, then lowers it, in apparent submission. Although really it's to assess the situation and to get a proper bearing on where everyone is. The man in front of her is easy - he's been talking so she has an idea of height and distance. Someone behind her is so close she can hear his breathing - he's just a little taller than her. The one on her left is further away. The others she can only get a rough placement on.

Oh well.

She twists her wrist quickly and jams the stick up and backwards into the face of the guy who had been about to grab her, then forward suddenly at groin height to the leader. This gang of men has been uncontested on these streets for a while, and a woman, a blind woman at that, registered as nothing more than prey. The attack is a complete surprise. There's a crunch and a cry as the stick breaks something in the face behind her. For a split second there is nothing but stunned silence, but That's broken by a choked wheeze and the sound of knees cracking into the pavement.

The sudden eruption of violence is usually the gang's territory, and they simply stand stunned as two of their number go down. The one on Leah's right recovers first and there's a scuffing sound a he rushes forward. She doesn't wait for him to get there and drops, her legs wide, spinning the stick around and hooking it sharply to the right, coupling that as well with a sharp jerk backwards to keep it moving. Leah has only her pole with her, so she's going to make it count. It clips the man hard in the ankle just as he drives forward to attack, and he grunts in surprise as he goes down, catching himself on his hands. He's swearing in Spanish as he starts to push himself back up.

Leah grins to herself; she rather likes it when her opponents are vocal: Helps her judge where they are and how badly they're hurt. She takes a risk and jams the pole into the road in order to vault over him before he can get up, turning an ear to the gang.

Leah's managed to put the entire gang in one direction. Her sudden movement is apparently enough to spirit the man who was on her left into action, but his own movement has him getting in the man on the ground's way.

Judging by the sounds he's making, the man she hit first is out of the fight, but the leader, still gasping enormous breaths has managed to stumble to his feet. Three left. She swings the pole swiftly and silently from side to side while listening to them move. It's the leader she's worrying about more - the others seem to lack initiative though that may just be the surprise of being attacked.

Again moving quickly and precisely, Leah spins around and stabs towards the leader with the hard sudden movement of the spearman. It makes her smile to herself to observe that even now she has to fight the instinct to throw it as a javelin.

There's a grunt from him, but the blow is only glancing. His voice is furious, "You two stand back," he says in Spanish. "She's blind, so I'll just shoot her." Then, in English, "Sorry! We leave!"

At least now she knows how far away he is. In a move that would give Will a heart attack if he knew she learned it from Spearmint Rhino, Leah uses the pole as a fulcrum to spin kick at chest height, following through when she makes contact with meal and hears the gun slide on the ground.

They can see where the gun lands, but she has the reflexes, and there's never any doubt she'd get there first.

Even as her pole falls to the ground, she's standing, gun in hand.
There's a moment of stillness before the leader speaks again, voice slow and careful. "Not blind?"

Leah smiles. Keeping the gun pointed in the direction of his voice, she lifts her head to face him, and let him see the scarring over her eyes. Glass eyes, she'd decided, were for the vain and the fakers. Covering her face in her own home would just be ridiculous.

"Can't see a thing," she says. "Want to take a bet I can't shoot you all where you stand?"

The silence stretches out, broken only by the moaning of the man with the broken face. At this point professionals would cut their losses, but these boys are bullies and their pride is hurt.

We go now," the leader said in his broken English. His words were belied by the tell-tale sounds of movement as one of the thugs tried to sneak silently around to Leah's back.

"You go," Leah agrees.

To prove it she whips the gun around and fires towards the creeping thug. Sure, she's no marksman, anymore, but she's making a point.

The shot misses, but it's close enough to draw a surprised yelp. "I'm out of here man!" one of the men yells, there's a cry of agreement and then rhetoric sound of retreating feet.

"I won't forget this," the leader promised darkly before walking away at a careful pace.

Leah stays still for a further few seconds, checks the gun and finds three more bullets. Then she retrieves her pole and stands straighter.

Still no idea what to do. Probably not safe to be around.

After a few minutes, she decides to spread her net wider and start checking inside the buildings.

Shatterverse

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