Chapter 8

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Yalu's household was sound asleep.

Urko leaned against the cool, misted wall behind him and wished for a smoke to pass the time until his scout came back. Of course he knew better than to announce to any sleepless neighbor that councillor Yalu was about to receive some unannounced visitors in the wee hours of the morning. On the other hand, once they'd set to work, everyone would fall out of their beds anyway. He patted down his vest for his tobacco pouch. Right then, the scout came back: nobody had tried to sneak out of - or into - Yalu's house; all entrances were locked for the night.

Not a problem; they had brought a battering ram. Granted, there wasn't a high chance that they'd get to try out all their new equipment on this occasion - Yalu was a high ranking council member, and you couldn't just kick down a councillor's door without very good backup from the council itself - but you never knew how a situation developed. If Yalu decided to barricade himself in to protect his wayward son...

Urko surveyed his team with a last sweeping glance - their body armour was well hidden under their usual uniforms, and apart from the battering ram, they wore no special weaponry, at least not where you could see it. This unit was still experimental, and Urko preferred to keep it concealed from the council's attention for now. They had still to prove themselves.

He squinted at something gleaming from one of the men's uniforms. „What's that on your collar, tac four?" They weren't using names; no need to give away their identities to Zaius' spies.

The man fingered the offending piece of metal. „Jus' a little badge, sir. Bush cat claws. My cousin's a silversmith."

Urko frowned. „Take it off. It reflects the light." And it was just too striking - displaying a part of their group's unofficial name. The men had taken up his mention of them being the 'teeth and claws of law enforcement' and called themselves the 'TAC team' which was a play on words that Urko could get behind, but he wouldn't allow them to have their wives sew blasted streamers with a thrice blasted logo on them!

The thing vanished into a pocket, and Urko waved his men to fall into line behind him. Much as he'd have loved to send them kicking down the front door, protocol demanded he'd try to be civilized first.

He knocked.

Nothing happened.

Urko stepped aside and jerked his chin towards the door. His lieutenant began pounding at it. „This is the CCP! Open the door!"

The pounding continued for some time, while the windows upstairs began to light up one by one. Urko lazily scratched his throat and silently ticked off the hits. He'd give the old fart three more rounds of banging and shouting until he'd allow his men - and himself - to bring out their new equip-

„What is this-"

The door was opened with a jerk, and the TAC barreled in, shoving Yalu aside and taking up position. It was meant to be as imposing and disorienting as possible, and so far, it had worked beautifully on every poor bastard they had selected.

„Are you out of your blasted minds? Urko, I'll have your head for this insolence!"

Well, there had to be one bastard where it didn't work, right? Urko wasn't really surprised that old Yalu was that one.

Wouldn't be half as fun if he wasn't.

The TAC were doing their sweep now, taking care to topple the occasional piece of furniture and frisking the slaves with ferocious enthusiasm. Urko had promised the boys a bit of fun, as long as they didn't forget to bring him Galen and his pets.

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