Tirran dashed across the muddy yard towards the gate. He realised he didn’t have that long before the man he left on the floor in the hut raised the alarm, so a quick escape was the best option. Somewhere in the distance a clock chimed nine, meaning Scovie should have had just enough time to get back from Inche Street. It was just a matter of not getting killed before reinforcements arrived now. It seemed that every member of the gang was now involved in breaking into whatever sewer ran underneath the yard, leaving an almost clear run for the gate. Even so Tirran tried to keep out of the dull light cast by the braziers, skidding in the mud back around to the side of the cart. The home stretch was in sight, it was just a short sprint and he would have been free. Tirran almost reached the edge of the yard when someone grabbed him from behind and threw him into the mud.
He just managed to turn around in time to dodge a punch thrown by Rahdler, his fist impacting into the mud just past Tirran’s ear.
“You are really starting to piss me off.” Rahdler growled, managing to look even more manic as his anger took over. He lined up another punch, but Tirran swept his legs from beneath him, sending him collapsing into the mud hard. Scrambling to his feet, Tirran reached for his truncheon only to find the belt loop it usually rested on empty. Before he had a chance to find it, Rahdler launched himself off the ground and caught Tirran’s jaw with a right hook that would have made professional boxers proud. Just about maintaining his balance, Tirran swung at his attacker, connecting with the muscles just below the shoulder. Rahdler didn’t even flinch, he just kept glaring through the pain, fixed on the police officer with those mad, piercing eyes. As Tirran landed another punch, his expression changed. What started as a grimace slowly cracked into a grin. Before Tirran could realise what was coming, Rahdler head butted him hard about the muzzle, using his height advantage against him.
As the two men fought in the middle of the yard, slowly the other gang members began to take notice and downed tools to go and watch. As Tirran staggered back, dizzy from the headbutt, a circle started to form around the fight. Some of the more grizzled members of the small crowd were actively cheering Rahdler on, but the former navvies seemed to be less enthusiastic. More than once, one or the other combatant was pushed back from the opponents blows and the ring had to split to avoid becoming involved and then reform as the fight moved around the yard. At one point, Tirran had forced Rahdler against one of the side fences and tried as hard as he could to wear the mad Canid down. The crowd had become so engrossed in the fight that nobody noticed when something loudly slammed into the locked gate.
The pain was beginning to get to Tirran, but Rahdler still seemed to possess endless energy. This had passed beyond the job now, this had become personal. The bastard was so determined to show up his job, his city, his home, Tirran had mentally turned it into a direct slight on him. Dragging Rahdler off the fence and throwing him back towards the centre of the yard, Tirran took no notice as a second loud slam echoed across the yard, dismissing it as just the blood pumping around his bruised ears.
“Gods damn you, take the bloody hint.” He growled through gritted teeth while completely missing another punch. Rahdler said nothing, just continuing to grin wildly as he grabbed Tirran’s coat and tried to throw him at the ground again. A third loud slam came from the gate, and now at least one member of the crowd had taken enough notice to go and look.
Tirran dodged a left hook and tried to swipe at Rahdler’s legs again.
The gang member reached the gate.
Rahdler dodged and lunged at Tirran.
There was a fourth and final slam against the gate.
Tirran went down and Rahdler put him in a headlock.
The gate gave up against the force and, lock splintering, was flung open.
A confused silence descended over the yard as a brewer’s dray rumbled through the destroyed gate, knocking flat the curious gang member and coming to a stop just in front of the two fighters. For the first time, Rahdler’s composure had visibly cracked and an expression of panic spread across his face. Before anyone could react, Inspector Myrti rounded the drey, in full uniform with truncheon readied.
“Right!” He barked, his Galinian accent adding to the audible anger in his voice. “Ah‘ve been having something of a stressful couple of days, so if you gents could be so kind as t’oblige us by not cooperating, I’d be real appreciative.” As he yelled, ten more officers entered the yard behind him, equally ready for a fight. Almost as soon as Myrti’s voice had stopped echoing, complete pandemonium broke out. Some gang members immediately rushed the Brass-Tops, the rest fled in every direction in the vain hope of another way out. Rahdler made roared in pained anger, released his grip on Tirran and bolted for the hole in the ground. Falling to the ground, Tirran tried to catch his breath as he spied Scovie wading through the chaos towards him.
“Gods above, Sarge, you don’t do anything by halves, do you?” The constable helped him to his feet and handed him his discarded truncheon.
“You!” Yelled Myrti from behind him. “You are one jammy bastard, Cal, you know that.” The Inspector stalked across the yard to Tirran, occasionally stopping to administer some tough justice to an uncooperative gang member. “Was that the leader batterin’ the shite out of yer there?”
“That was Rahdler,” Tirran nodded, leaning on Scovie. “The bastard’s mad, totally mad. We’ve got to stop him, Where’d he go?” Scovie pointed off into the distance.
“Think he went down the hole, Sarge. Gods only know why.” He replied, steadying his mentor as he tried to stand upright. “Wouldn’t have thought getting stuck down there was any better than getting caught by us.” Tirran lurched away in the general direction of the hole. “Uh, Sarge?” Myrti turned from securing a gang member and put his hand out to obstruct Tirran’s progress.
“Cal, dinnae go being a dunderheed.” He said, trying to sound reassuring. “Ye’ve done enough today.”
“I’ve got to, Guv.” Tirran said, nudging Myrti’s hand out the way. “He’s got it in for me, for all of us, we don’t stop him now he’s just going to get worse.” Myrti considered this for a second before moving aside.
“Awright, but I’m sending the lads down as soon as we’re done here.” He said, nodding. As Tirran went to continue, he turned and yelled over the crowd. “Constable Calt, are y’gaun to do anything this evening or just stand playin’ with yer truncheon?” Tirran allowed himself a moment to laugh at this before descending into the earth.
At the bottom of the dirt incline, the brick wall of a sewer had been uncovered and a hole just large enough to squeeze through had been broken in it. There was a flickering light just visible inside, clearly someone had gone through with a lamp at some point. Tirran squeezed through the hole, cursing at the effort he had to exert and wondering how a man like Rahdler, who was much broader, had managed it. Finally pulling himself through, he looked around. The round sewer was just tall enough for him to stand upright. One direction was blocked, there was only one way Rahdler could have gone . Like before, the soft layer of muck stifled his footsteps, but ahead he could hear the distinct sounds of someone having difficulty. Even as he moved from the dim light from the lantern, he could see a bulky shadow in front of him. Trying to stay as stealthy as possibly, Tirran drew near, prepared his truncheon and struck for the head.
In a flash, Rahdler ducked out of the way, the truncheon impacting on his shoulder with a dull thud. Trying to retain the element of surprise, Tirran followed with a punch but the shadow had clearly already turned around and deftly caught it.
“Is that you, Sergeant? Couldn’t get enough of me, eh?” Rahdler mocked, before putting his entire weight behind slamming Tirran into the wall, the brass police helmet being all that stood between the lawman and a cracked skull. Tirran fought back, but it was becoming clear that both men were beginning to tire. The vicious trading of blows up on the surface had degenerated into a slow, uncoordinated brawl in the twilight gloom. With barely enough room to swing, Tirran had resorted to using the truncheon to try and shield his face while using his other hand to land blows. Recoiling from a sharp jab to his ribs, Rahdler stumbled back, his eyes even managing to pierce the half light that shrouded the two men. He was still grinning, through the pain and the tiredness, a grin of pure, unrestrained malice. Stumbling forward, he lunged at Tirran again, forcing the lawman to brace himself against the curved wall or be thrown down into the muck. Realising he had let his guard down for a second, Tirran lunged, hitting a snarling Rahdler square in the face. In the dull light cast from the distant lamp, Tirran could see ruby blood trickling from his opponents nose, the blow had clearly done some serious damage. Steadying himself again, a glint was just visible in Rahdler’s eye. The big Canid took a step back, telegraphing his next move. He threw a slow punch, but Tirran ducked, the fist sailing just past his head and straight into the wall. Rahdler howled, the blood curdling noise reverberating off the circular walls. Immediately, Tirran used what little energy he still had to spring up and catch his opponent in the chin with the hard wood of his truncheon, lifting Rahdler clear off his feet and slamming him down into the soft ground.
Tirran knealt on Rahdler’s chest, applying enough pressure to make the man groan in pain. Panting through sheer exhaustion, he pointed at his downed opponent with his truncheon.
“I have been having an exceptionally shitty couple of days.” He growled at Rahdler through gritted teeth. “Entirely because of you I’ve been dragged all across the city, I’ve had to put up with the appalling smell down here twice, and now I’m exhausted and aching.” He made sure he put even more pressure on Rahdler’s chest. “Now, you are fucking nicked. I’m giving you the opportunity to come quietly and for both our sakes I recommend you take it.” The tunnel went silent for a few seconds, then Rahdler, glaring defiantly through the gloom spat at Tirran.
“Go to hell.” He half said, half groaned, but still grinning. Tirran responded by bringing his truncheon down hard on Rahdler’s forehead. Taking a moment to make sure his captive was properly unconscious, he stood up.
“Your choice,” He said to himself, shrugging. Looking down the tunnel, he realised he had to get the bulky man out of the sewer somehow. Cursing loudly, he grabbed Rahdler around the shoulders and dragged him through the soil and muck back towards the way they both came in.
Back on the surface, Tirran squeezed through the hole in the brickwork into the fresh air. After taking his time to recover, he stuck his head back through the hole and tried to drag Rahdler out. He managed to get the bulky Canid about half way before he became wedged on the brickwork. After a few hard pulls, Tirran threw his hands up and decided his captive wasn’t going anywhere and stumbled up the dirt incline back into the yard proper. Things had quietened down by now, the gang members had been subdued and were being coaxed on to the drey in handcuffs by Constables Calt and Nallen. Myrti was coordinating, smoking his pipe with a look of smug accomplishment across his face. Upon seeing Tirran, he walked over.
“Cal! We was just about to send someone after you. Wait.” His expression darkened as realised Tirran was alone. “Where is he? Dinnae tell me you let him go!”
“He’s… er… well… in the hole.” Tirran said, leaning against the Inspector for stability. “Bastard was just too big.” Myrti blinked a couple of times and burst out laughing. As he regained his composure, he gave Tirran a congratulations shoulder pat, causing the sergeant to groan in pain.
“Calt, Nallen, go drag th’bastard out will you?” Myrti yelled at his subordinates, pointing at the hole. The two young Constables looked at one another in confusion for a second before jumping into action.
Myrti turned back to Tirran. “Helluva busy night, eh?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe, Guv.” Tirran said, not even bothering to mask his fatigue. “How’d it go up here?”
“Including yer man Rahdler, we got nine of them.” The Inspector recounted. As he talked, Scovie approached and hovered behind his superiors. “Bix reckon’d there was twelve so we’ve missed a couple, but I dinnae think they’ll be much of a bother now we got their headman.”
“Checked the fence, Guv.” Scovie added. “No holes or anything, if we missed anyone they mustn’t have been here.” Myrti nodded.
“Oh, and a bit o’good news.” He said, pointing vaguely over his shoulder at one of the carts. “Most of what they thieved was on that wagon over there. The eejits hadn’t had time to fence it yet.” Myrti paused and sniffed the air a few times. “Gods above, Cal, is that you?” Scovie started laughing.
“Like I said, busy night.” Tirran sighed. “Anything more you want from me tonight, Guv?”
“Go home an’ have a bath, Cal. anything else can wait ‘till morning. We’ve got this under control.” Myrti nodded his approval before turning back to the drey. “Gods damnit, stop fiddlin’ wi’the evidence, Constable Prattcher!” Tirran cracked a painful smile and staggered towards the shattered gate with Scovie trailing behind him.
“So what you gonna do now, Sarge?” The young constable asked. Tirran stopped and considered this a second.
“I am going home, Arb.” He declared. “I’m going to have a rest. The world owes me that much, I think.” He flashed a grin at Scovie and left into the gas lit streets.
| < PART FIVE | PART ONE |
The Author wishes to thank Stuart and Sandra Barlow, Ady Hartill, David Dryden, Martin “Teekay” Davison, Stefi “Heartlilly” Hauke, Josh Atkins and VHSRAT for their invaluable help during the writing, proofing and editing of this story.
This story, it’s characters and any associated names and imagery related to the Tarnhaven setting are ©2018 Dom “Ndro” Barlow, All Rights Reserved.