Rounding the corner of the building she found herself confronting the rival leader. “You!” she hissed.

“You!” snarled her rival, and dropped into the ritual crouch, eyes locked on her eyes, right hand out, palm up, left hand back and steadying the knife against her hip.

“You’ve been taking my runners out,” she said, her palm, too, stretched toward her rival.

“They’ve been in our turf.” Voice flat, eyes dead and watery.

“Runners have always been neutral, that’s the deal. Who put you up to this?”

“Nobody put me up to it. I can’t take your runners on my own? You’re getting weak, Rose; too weak to run anymore. Old and weak.”

The breath chuffed out of her and the knife came out of its sheath, bright and flashing in the late afternoon. Her rival sprang back from her slash and then the knives were flashing against each other, fish in a pond, smoke in a bar, metal. The breath was hard in her throat but her feet were as light as ever her hand as sure her blood as ready to kill.

“Retire!” shouted Opal.

“Death first,” she said and struck again and again.