It was a brutal little weapon, a revolver, its stubby black barrel decorated with ornate silver curls and illustrations of swordfish, the ebony handle wrapped with steel and bearing the strange, circular symbol of a red, upside-down tree inside a white ring, the tree's twisted roots tangled around the top half of the ring.
"Pistol." said the girl, expertly clicking it open to check that it was loaded. All six cylinders contained a glinting bullet cartridge.
"Yeah, obviously a it's a pistol. Wot kind?"
"A Seraphic Mark 2, multi-cylindered revolver. Gas augmented." Lily said as she flipped it closed.
Lady Thricetin smiled her rotten-toothed smile.
"Looks like me lessons have rubbed off on yer after all!" she said, ruffling the tangled mass of Lily's blood-red hair. Lily said nothing, her arms hanging loosely at her sides, the gun resting against the tattered white fabric of her gown. She shivered slightly in the winds of the open skies.
"Now, do you remember the plan?"
"And you're okay with the plan?"
The girl looked to the ground and gave a shuddering breath.
"And," Lady Thricetin sighed, "and are you crying?"
Lily went to speak, but only managed a whimper before clamping her mouth shut.
The old woman sighed again, and gave a steam of weary curses under her breath, and then knelt down to speak with the girl, the woman's dress spilling out around her, the frills like pale waves in a black satin sea. She placed her hands on Lily's shoulders.
"Listen, my girl,"
The girl hid her teary eyes with her arm, drawing it across her face, the gun still clutched in her filthy, skinny hand.
"I know this is your first mission, I know you have never...never killed anyone before. And I know this is your first time back in that ghastly place. I know you're scared and worried and whatnot, but nobody will attack you, cos nobody expects a child to pull a gun on 'em see, and even if they do just think of our training, and the hours we've spent. You're strong, and you have to be Lily, you have to be strong for them kids, toiling away in the furnaces. Lily look at me!"
And she shook the girl slightly, causing Lily's silver eyes to flash up towards her.
"I need you to do this my girl. I need you. They need you. Them kids in the workhouses, they are depending on us to burst this bleeding government. "
"Y-yes miss." she sniffed.