Sneep-frrrrt-<two drops of urine placed just *so*> lay in his selected ambush spot, on top of a packing case, half covered by oily rags, clutching his lance. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Spck-Spck-<quick flash of white underbelly>-eeEEek take up his position amongst a pile of cardboard boxes on the other side of the basement. He turned his attention back to the door, through which the bipeds-who-change-their-fur-almost-every-day-<spit spit spit> would soon be coming. He knew they would come, because one of the mad ones - Skrrtch-<wag tail horizontally 3 times>-ecke-ecke-f'tang - had told them they would come, and the mad ones were never wrong. They were in touch with the spirit world.

Presently he heard the sound of someone turning the handle. A shaft of light illuminated part of the basement floor as the door opened. A biped moved into the light. Sneep-frrrrt-<two drops of urine placed just *so*> felt a thrill of excitement as he recognised the creature: Female-who-kills-with-surprising-effectiveness. She was carrying a killing stick in one forepaw. With the other, she tried the light switch a couple of times, but the sept's warriors had taken the precaution of removing the tube that glows from the ceiling. They could see in the dark better than the bipeds.

Sneep-frrrrt-<two drops of urine placed just *so*> heard another biped behind the first one, speaking in their barbarous tongue.

"What a shame - light's gone. Let's come back some other time."

He recognised this one too. It was the Unintentional Liberator. Female-who-kills-with-surprising-effectiveness turned to address her.

"That's why you brought a torch, Danni."

"Oh, Pyth! How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Danni!"

The two bipeds entered the basement. Entered the trap. Sneep-frrrrt-<two drops of urine placed just *so*> would ensure that they did not emerge from it alive.

"Whoa!" Pythia commanded. "Point the torch at the ground, just in front of my toe."

Cassie did as instructed. Pythia grinned.

"Tripwire. Tricksy little beggars. Point up."

Cassie pointed the beam of the torch at the ceiling. Above their heads, they saw an old bed frame suspended from the ceiling. Many sharp wooden stakes had been affixed to it, all pointing downwards.

"Well, that's that sorted," said Cassie. "Now, if you no longer need my help hunting possibly sentient, rabid weasels, there's some important shopping I could be getting on with--"

"You stay here," Pythia ordered her. "It's your stupid fault the building is infested with these things. Hmm, what's this?"

The beam of the torch had picked out a small table stood a few feet past the tripwire. On it there was a cake, with "EAT ME" clumsily written on it with icing.

"Sloppy, guys, sloppy," Pythia murmured. "Even Danni wouldn't fall for that one. Underestimating your enemy is a mistake that's going to cost you."

But both she and Cassie jumped as an unexpected voice addressed them from the direction of a pile of cardboard boxes to their left.

"One is on a secret visit to this country, all the way from Windsor. One is in search of a blonde-topped breeding female of suitable age."

"What the hell...?" Pythia began.

"It sounds kind of like Prince William," said Cassie doubtfully.

"The bipeds of this country may not be aware of it, but this is the rutting season for the Royal sept that inhabits Windsor. Any blonde-topped breeding female of suitable age that happens by could be in for a treat."

"Only he sounds kind of weird."

"Inbreeding," Pythia suggested.

"Ah, one has just detected an appropriate breeding female in the vicinity! One refers to the blonde-topped one wearing the musk of crushed ungulate's testicles mixed with various synthetic volatiles, not the other borderline psychotic one. If she would only approach a little nearer, one would perform an extravagant courtship dance in her honour."

By moving her head from side to side, Pythia had more or less pinpointed the spot the voice was emanating from. She fired four rounds from her shotgun into the cardboard boxes. Spck-Spck-<quick flash of white underbelly>-eeEEek's speech, and his life, ended abruptly. A little shaken, the women continued their progress into the interior of the basement.

"We're nearly at the far wall," said Pythia. "The nest has got to be behind these packing cases. Get ready for fireworks."

"Halt!" a small voice squeaked at them from the top of the packing cases. A furry brown form emerged from a bundle of oily rags, clutching a pointed stick. Pythia levelled her gun at it.

"Where is the satisfaction in using your killing stick?" Sneep-frrrrt-<two drops of urine placed just *so*> demanded haughtily. "You are your sept's greatest fighter, I am mine. Let us engage in close

"Suits me," said Pythia. She crouched down to place her shotgun on the floor. As she did so, the weasel screeched a war cry and charged. Pythia plucked a throwing knife from her boot and transfixed the small creature with it before it even reached the edge of the packing cases.

"You didn't wait for the count of three," Pythia chided, retrieving her shotgun.

"You think you have won," Sneep-frrrrt-<two drops of urine placed just *so*> gasped. "But this action was only intended to delay you. It is we who will celebrate the final triumph."

He felt himself slipping into the other world. His last thought was whether he would meet the mad ones when they went on their spirit journeys.

Pythia shook the dead weasel off her knife and cleaned it on the rags. Then they rounded the packing cases. Here they encountered an enormous nest made from old blankets, towels, boxes, chewed-up cardboard and all kinds of bric-a-brac. It was deserted.

"Fuzzy Rambo wasn't kidding," Pythia mused. "They've evacuated."

"Good!" cried Cassie. "Can we go back to the office now?"

"Guess so. Hey, where are you going?"

"To fetch that cake. We can have it with our morning coffee."