The Daughters of Sappho, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

“Well, if it isn’t the lovely ladies of the Subura,” said Albinus. He gazed across the piazza and at the three slender figures draped around the drinking fountain.

“You wouldn’t be calling them lovely if you knew them,” whispered his Aventine companion, Nereus.

The women looked up, no expression on their vulpine faces. Nereus narrowed his eyes as reached over his shoulder to take hold of his javelin. Yes, Leontia, Severa and Urgunalla’s contortionist skills and training as acrobatic dancers once made them popular at the city’s more exotic orgies, but now they worked for Mater Alypia and the Daughters of Sappho. The name alone made Nereus’ bladder twitch. An all-female gang in the Subura, the Daughters were not only lithe as panthers but as quick—and deadly—as vipers. Only a fool would tangle with these Gorgons, thought Nereus. He glanced at the leering Albinus. Here, he thought, is such a fool...

"What you ladies need is an introduction to my trusty weapon.” Albinus grabbed his crotch and gyrated his hips towards the trio.

“Mortus,” muttered Nereus as he tightened his grip on his javelin. ”We are so mortus.“

A gleam of silver flashed from the folds of Leontine's tunic and sped across the piazza, burying itself in Albinus’ throat. Eyes wide, Albinus gargled blood and he pitched forward onto the cobbles, twitching. Taking one step backwards and pausing to aim, Nereus threw his javelin at Leontia; it clattered against the far wall of the piazza as his target sidestepped the javelin with nonchalance and grace. In an instant Severa and Urganalla had cartwheeled toward him, Severa somersaulting to land on her feet behind Nereus. Urganalla stepped in front of Nereus, and her serpentine lariat hissed out and coiled around the Aventine ganger’s throat before he could even draw his gladius. With the lariat biting into his neck, Nereus grasped it with both hands in an effort to prevent his imminent strangulation. As he did so, Severa inserted a slim knife into the base of his skull from behind. He gasped, and the tip of the blade protruded from his open mouth. His bladder emptied as he slumped to his knees, vision diming as he slipped into the Underworld.

“Men,” sneered Leontia as—with one foot planted one foot on Nereus’ shoulder—she removed the dagger from his neck. “They’re all the same.”

"Well, this one certainly lived up to his name,” remarked Urganalla, taking care not to step into the growing pool of Nereus’ urine. “Nereus means ‘the Wet One’...”

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