Disclaimer : Katekyo Hitman Reborn! belongs to Akira Amano.

Rating : T? Mostly for some swearing in Russian, the rating will get worse eventually.

Author's Note : Yes, I got sucked into another fandom. Yes, it's another SI/OC fic. I'm going to try to avoid some of the issues my other one had, so expect updates to be slow since I'm going to try to stick to the plot worked out for this.

FYI: I actually have no idea how the Russian Mafiya works, bits and pieces of the lore for it I used in this story is cobbled together from different sources and tweaked a bit. Some translations of the Russian used is available at the end.

In Russia your name is legally written out like this: Family Name (Maiden if applicable) Given Name 'Nickname' Patronymic Name. One's Patronymic name is apparently the father's name with an –ovich for boys and -ovan for girls, -vovich and -vovan respectively if the last letter is another vowel. Though there is a Matronymic version, and my SI/OC's mother has one, it's not nearly as commonly used unless one's mother doesn't know the father's name (apparently unwed mothers). There is some conflicting sources for that, so I went to the first one I found and kept with it. (Which was a name generator site and why the mom has a female 'daughter of' Matronymic name.)

Edit (3/11/2015) - Shabondy corrected how Sonya's Patronymic name is ended, as I missed a step in that.

Edit (3/27/2015) - Qinetiq has corrected a few Russian terms for me and challenged a few things, some changes in the story mechanics resulted. Explanation at the bottom.

Edit (6/02/2015) - Weaver of Silver corrected the spelling of the female versions of Sonya's last name.

Edit (4/23/2017) - General corrections and date-shifts.

Edit (3/16/2018) - Final formatting and minor corrections.

Edit (9/1/2018) - Timeshift and minor error corrections.

Russian Roulette : Reloaded


I - (Thursday the 3rd of February, 1955. Saratov, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

Nikishina Sonya Mikhailovna was born to Nikishin Mikhail 'Misha' Vladislavovich and Nikishina (ne Lazareva) Nyura Ruslanovna on the evening of December 28th, 1950, in Saratov, a port city on the Volga River in Soviet Russia.

Their daughter was 'typically' Russian in features, with her mother's wavy ash-blonde hair coloring added to her father's sharp Slavic features and grey eyes, and she could very well pass herself off as a Barbie doll with baby fat given a couple more years to grow in. Neither of her parents were bulky people, which made the very young girl assume she would eventually inherit a willowy frame though she hoped she turned out more like her mother. Who could probably put in a claim of having been a ballerina in her younger years and get away with it.

Much to the relief of both her parents, Sonya wasn't the type of child that demanded a lot of attention. She was quiet and kept to herself, fussed little, and generally preferred to be left alone most of the time.

Which worked for them, they didn't seem too enthused with being parents at all.

Mikhail was intent on not being around much, when he was around he was either home to drink in the warmth of the house or try arguing with his wife about something or another. Nyura liked to pretend she wasn't a stay-at-home mother against what seemed to be the socially accepted norm around the local town to the point the neighbors thought little of the woman, the longer she could ignore the fact she had a daughter or husband the happier she was. Why either of them went through with the trouble of having a child was more than Sonya could answer, but in return for the food and shelter she didn't mind staying out of their way like they wanted.

She had enough trouble on her own end, the whole 'hands-off' childhood thing worked for her too.

Sonya's odd personality for a typical Soviet child, just being aware of how strange her home life was being merely a symptom of something not being exactly as it seemed, was something caused by the dream-nightmares she had starting shortly after her first few months of life. Dreams where she was living an entirely different life as one Rachel Victoria Stokes, a daughter of an always working lawyer mother and a mainly absent chemist of a father.

An American college graduate, who had been trying to figure out what to do with her degree in International Affairs which she had worked hard for but had no longer recalled why she had wanted it.

Only Rachel had died, in a mugging gone horribly wrong on dark night, while she tried to wrestle with herself about what she was going to do with her life. Once she came to terms with the sudden and abrupt removal of anything familiar, Sonya was left trying to muddle through twenty odd years of another life heaped onto her personality as it developed from a childish self-centeredness and into a fully aware person of her own right.

An American born in the year 1987 and died in 2012. Now she was a citizen of the USSR in the 1950s, dreaming about a young woman who wouldn't be born for decades if at all.

There were any number of days when she woke still thinking she was a young woman called Rachel, and the disjointed feeling she got when spotting blonde and not brown hair then grey and not hazel eyes was often disturbing. The age/height difference was a headache all its own, causing more than a small measure of her early childhood clumsiness so despaired over by her so-called 'mother'.

Said early childhood was mostly a never-ending series of nightmares and confusion for her as she tried to at least not draw any attention to herself as she sorted her own mind out, but she still rather disliked the abrupt change in circumstances that happened early in 1955.

As awkward as being a child born to two less than enthusiastic parents was in a town where that seemed to never be the case, she rather preferred it to learning that her parents had used her to pay off a debt they owed someone else.

Nikishina Sonya Mikhailovna then became one of many children taken to the local Mafiya recruitment drive, due to either their parents or unrelated members tempting them in.

The Mafiya group specifically the group of children to young adults all now belonged to had once been part of the vory v zakone, the thieves-in-law. Remnants of those who had previously been condemned into the GULAG labor camps under Joseph Stalin's reign, and kept holding the 'brothers in arms against the government' idea that had been mostly discarded upon their release after World War Two by the rest of the Russian Mafiya.

Sonya learned all of that from her tattoo artist, who took pity on her obvious confusion but appreciated she didn't wail and moan about the little curled cat tattoo she was given on her right bicep like some of the even older children did. Discounting that most of his storytelling was probably a bit whitewashed for a child's sake, she actually liked the little kitten and shrugged her agreement to return to him when she 'earned' her next tattoo.

Valya was good at his art for something that wasn't quite 'mainstream' popular yet, and he was somewhat pleasant while she was under his hands, so she accepted the tiny slip of paper that held the address for his usual haunt on it in case she wanted him to add to her non-existent tattoo collection.

The next thing she learned was that her kitten denoted that she was brought in young to be a thief, the general standby for those not specifically courted on whatever kind of recruitment run this was, instead of for any of the other criminal branches their new thieves' clan dabbled in. She wasn't the only one getting a curled cat tattoo that same day, but there were about a handful of other designs getting inked on other, mostly male children as well.

Some of them were picked by the people that guided the kids of varying age ranges into the warehouse-turned-tattoo parlor, others seemed to be assigned by lottery. There were card tattoos, various symbols denoting several money values, pairs of dice, three masks, a handful of guns on the older if still young adults, mixed in with the more common cats and spider webs and one lone much older teen that was in the middle of getting a bullet crossed with a knife where she had her own.

Sonya was by no means sold on this new direction of life, but she was also not as stupid to think she might be able to just walk out. For one, although she had the intelligence of an American college graduate she had the physical form and appearance of a young child. For another, if her parents had her to pay off whatever they owed then whoever they owed their firstborn child to probably wouldn't like nor stand for it if said payment took off on him or her.

Third, this was well organized and practiced. Well supplied, prepared for, and things seemed to be getting done at an alarmingly fast rate. They had done this before, would probably do this again, and any kind of escape Sonya could come up with had probably been tried many times before therefore likely any escape attempt would be foiled quickly.

She would have to wait and see, for both an opportunity to escape or if she really liked this no matter how much as she doubted she would she might stay regardless of her irritation with her parents.

Getting sorted out by their freshly given tattoos was a mess and a half at the end of the night, because they were new and most were still bleeding even with the surprisingly clean rags passed around like candy to staunch it. Of course, there were the handful of children that didn't pay attention to what they were getting which resulted in time wasted checking the swelling flesh for what general shape said tattoos were in.

Sonya ended up sorted out next to a chatty redheaded girl that called herself Tatiana and another but older mousy haired boy that gave Dmitriy as his name, her fellow girl another thief who could've gotten a card tattoo but picked a cat and Dmitriy clarified his spider in a web as apparently just 'dedicated to a life of crime' rather than an actual future job class to be trained in.

II (Thursday the 10 th of May, 1956. Arnseiy & Lisa's home, Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

Being fostered with Tatiana the to-be con artist was a distinctly different kind of situation than living with her own parents. Thankfully and strangely.

Taking stock again a year later proved… somewhat interesting.

For one, the couple the two of them were sent to learn under were accepting of Sonya's early independence from them only if she kept them informed of what she got up to. For another, she didn't have to find something to do out of sight every day by herself anymore.

Additionally, they weren't in Saratov anymore, they were in Moscow. It was apparently easier to hide the fact they were raising up the next generation of Mafiya members in larger cities, but equally so her 'father' didn't want her to remain in Saratov so she ended up elsewhere with a group of other 'displaced' children picked up by that Mafiya recruitment drive he shoved her into.

Vor Bazanov Arseniy Pavlovich was the girls' main trainer in everything an aspiring thief needed to learn the basics of, his partner but not wife who lived and certainly slept with him Primakova Elisaveta 'Lisa' Rostislavovna was the one primarily raising them and teaching them everything else a citizen of both the USSR and their Mafiya syndicate required them to know. They also stood in as their 'parents' in their little fake family, Tatiana claimed she had none and Sonya knew full well her own were still alive just utterly disinterested in her.

Arseniy only tended to teach the girls in the evening hours, and as such he slept most of the mornings away. The youngest of the household figured he worked a type of second shift, since being part of their Mafiya syndicate that upheld a variation of the vory kod prevented any of them from honest employment if one could support themselves by their criminal exploits. Elisaveta, who told the girls to call her just Lisa early on, took care of teaching them basic knowledge about everything else herself instead of sending them off to school like most children.

The older brunette first ensured they knew how to read and write not only in Cyrillic but several other Slavic languages first, then branched out into teaching them to speak in different languages as well as what Sonya recognized as basic geography, Soviet Union's variations and then foreign law, their own Thieves' Code they were being 'asked' to uphold, basic forgery in the guise of 'art', a very selective series of chemistry lessons, and mathematics.

Apparently neither girl could go to the public schools available as that would just allow the uchastkovyi, a cross between a Sheriff and a Constable but a local resident to their part of the city, to pick them out as Mafiya members before they ever stole their first mark. The two girls would eventually become known to the militsiya, and possibly the KBG, but Arseniy held the opinion the later that occurred the better.

Both children had ballet lessons in the morning, early enough that Tatiana usually swore under her breath every morning when Lisa woke them for the day. Sonya didn't mind the dance lessons, it helped with her still lingering clumsiness that she had yet to grow out of, and the other girl was enthusiastic of learning it if not appreciative of the early morning hours.

They also got to see a lot of the other girls they would eventually be working with then, as the woman who ran the ballet school was a minor clansman's wife who didn't mind teaching more Mafiya girls to dance even if they never did go professional.

Breakfast was made shortly after that, mostly done and eaten without Arseniy, then another hour or so of gymnastics in the backyard or the basement to work on tumbling routines. A short break for hygiene reasons and so Lisa could go greet her lover when he woke, then they spent the rest of the morning on whatever the older woman wanted them to learn.

Lunch was taken a bit later than Sonya was used to at first, and very rarely did Arseniy join them for that awake or not. If he did join them they would move into what typically ended up being the more recognizable training a thief might use to escape, disguises and how to act like you belonged even if you didn't, how to use odd building features to escape that way, and the like. If not then Lisa would teach them how to lie, how to act in high society, how to tell someone was lying, and the less overtly stated parts of the code they were going to be held to as thieves for the Russian Mafiya.

Late afternoon was when the girls occasionally got to see Dmitriy again, as well as all the other children also in their neighborhood there for training and not more domestic reasons. That was more recognizable training in skills a thief needed to know that vor Arseniy handled for all of them; pickpocketing, lockpicking, safecracking, hot wiring both automobiles and security systems, how to lose a tail, how to fence what you stole, and the like. Every now and again when the older criminal wasn't available due to whatever they would go to a different location that seemed centralized to their various foster homes for combat training under a man called vor Aleksandr, for small arms, knives, and whatever else anyone wanted to learn to use.

Then the two young girls had dinner with their two 'foster parents', and the rest of the evening was left to practice whatever skills they wanted before bed.

There was no real schedule to anything. There were frequent days when either Lisa or vor Arseniy weren't available and some rare occasions when neither were around for a day or three. Sonya and Tatiana were encouraged to do whatever appealed to them during those times, but while the older redhead was content to crack safes or work on her vocabulary in different languages the younger blonde liked to take a book on whatever was handy and escape their 'foster home' to explore some of Moscow's less traveled streets or get a bench somewhere quiet.

It was a beautifully austere if cold city, and always somewhat colorful with something new to investigate if she just looked. Some industrial pollution and cookie cutter architecture that tarnished the view fast, but she didn't think it was any worse than America's manufacture suburb hellscapes or even the Rust Belt of ruined factories a little south of where Rachel once/would live.

Unfortunately, in Lisa's and Arseniy's eyes, she didn't go out solely to practice her pickpocketing. Though she did tend to do that a little just so the vor didn't lecture her on keeping skills sharp and contributing to the household funds, as well as keep an eye out for the odd identification that either of her 'foster parents' might be able to use.

Sonya rather did like the rewards the occasional pickpocketing brought her, because even if she still wasn't sold on the whole 'thief' thing the Mafiya life she was living would prevent her from having the school records getting a decent legal job would require. Barring her from that side of the world until she had the experience and skills to dodge anyone sent after her long enough to correct that. The set of her own lock picks and the agreement for staff training she secured by acquiring the IDs were particularly useful, as she was very good at lockpicking and rather wanted to keep from getting a skull or tombstone tattoo that denoted kills any time soon or in the far future.

Tatiana tended to act like an older sister she never wanted, a high-maintenance one that demanded attention when she could, so she wasn't all that sold on the character of what could charitably be called her first real 'girlfriend'. The redhead also got a little jealous of the younger girl's skills, because hers were a little more immediately useful than safe cracking or forgery.

Lisa was more of an elder sibling-type role model, mostly because the woman didn't like being called 'aunt'. She was a cheerful early riser that didn't care if they swore or bitched if they did so while doing what she set them to do.

Vor Arseniy was more of a parent in the house, because no one wanted him angry or irritated. He wasn't abusive, but he also didn't hold off on smacking either girl if they got too mouthy or disrespectful of him.

It was also because of him that Sonya could wander on the rare occasions she had free. He had said it was alright and not even Lisa went against what he said when he wasn't home.

It was on one said occasions that she ran into something unusual, rather someone unusual, that clued her in to something being a little skewed from the reality she recalled in the bizarre dream-life of Rachel's she once lived through.

III (Wednesday the 3rd of September, 1958. Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

Three years into her next new life in Moscow, in the fall of her seventh year and a decent budding thief in the making, Sonya met Cherep.

Just Cherep, apparently. He who had bright purple hair with matching eyes and spoke his Russian with a distinctly Czech accent. Wandering around the streets just like her, even if it was a school-day where most of the kids their age were tucked away in dark and dreary classrooms getting stuffed full of knowledge they might not ever use.

He was mainly a little annoyed at the questions she kept pestering him with, but she was more than a little fascinated and too curious to care.

Purple wasn't a natural coloring, yet his hair was bright ass purple. Even his eyebrows and eyelashes were the same blatant shade of eye-popping violet, including the hair on his arms.

"Why does everyone keep asking that?" He asked the shockingly clear fall sky not three minutes after meeting her, and even if it wasn't directed to her Sonya answered him anyways.

"Probably because they want to know what dye they can use to get your hair coloring. It's pretty neat, really." While Cherep gaped at her, for what reasons the tiny pickpocket didn't care to know, she plucked out a strand of his chin-length hair to inspect the root.

It was purple the whole way through. Huh.

The violently purple kid she had found then squawked like an offended parrot, slapping at her hands well after she plucked a strand of his hair. He didn't even look too surprised that he missed her by a good margin, merely glaring with that same darkening lavender eye coloring the equally tiny blonde had to accept as being completely natural as well. "Don't do that."

Tucking the strand of hair into her borrowed book as a bookmark, she gave him a level look and tucked the bound stack of paper under one arm. "And how are you going to stop me?"

Floundering a moment as the question stumped him, he looked around then his features brightened as if he had thought he hit on the perfect idea. "By leaving, bye."

Amused at the weak attempt, she blatantly followed him out of the square she confronted him in. It only took him a street to realize she hadn't stayed behind, and the glare she got over his shoulder made her crack a smirk. "What?"

The kid, because he was more of a child than Sonya had ever been herself, huffed out his obvious irritation with her and proceeded to try and ignore the fact he was being followed. Badly.

As in, he tried running a few streets until his limited stamina ran out. She easily kept pace with his best effort to outrun her, much to his painfully obvious chagrin.

She politely, for her, waited out the gasps for breath before nudging the boy nearly folded in half and struggling to breath with one shoe. "Really? That was… pathetic."

Really pathetic. Like… not even the other civilian kids she sometimes watched from afar got out of breath that fast. He probably wasn't… well cared for.

The other child's clothing supported that guess, given the sloppily done patchwork almost not spanning the hole in his shirt enough to contain one sharply boney elbow.

"Don't you have other people to bother?" Cherep gritted out petulantly at her, still breathing heavily enough she was beginning to become concerned for him. "Go stalk someone else."

She actually thought about following his bitchy advise, but since neither vor Arseniy nor Lisa was home that day and Tatiana was being a little moody bitch Sonya didn't really care to be home just yet. There was the possibility of going to bug vor Aleksandr for additional lessons in whatever was at hand or going across the neighborhood to see what Dmitriy was up to, but neither option was guaranteed because they had their own things to do most days and might not have time for a lone girl-child.

Most didn't. Sony had never been stopped or bothered before she got a tiny bit distracted by the strange hair coloring.

It wouldn't pay to find a good target to pickpocket because no one was home to appreciate the new legal identity they had a limited time to use before it was reported. At home she had already picked most if not all the locks the vor had in stock for her, and was thoroughly bored with doing the same schoolwork that it seemed Rachel had once already done in her life and Sonya knew from that.

There was little else she had to do in a timely manner, sucked to be him.

"I actually have nothing else to do that's as interesting as you are right now." She informed him dryly, shrugging a little at his incredulous look that earned her.

Cherep gaped at her unattractively for a few moments longer, but eventually gave a kind of shudder-shrug and stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Um… okay."

She waited a beat, but when all the kid did was stare at her expectantly the blonde had to huff in bemused irritation herself. "You… are such a pushover."


It wasn't until much later, when she got home and ignored Tatiana wailing about having to cook for herself to check if Arseniy or Lisa were home yet, that Sonya absently recalled what Cherep's name translated into English as and realized what had bothered her so about the kid she met that morning.

Other than his apparently natural coloring, that is.

Cherep was a word she had for a skull.

A purple haired and eyed individual named Skull?

First off… who the hell named their kid skull?

Secondly… Rachel had watched an anime who had someone like that once. Sonya didn't recall most of the plot or anything about a lot of the characters in that show, all she really recalled was a wimpy son of some Italian Mafioso and boxers… and the cursed babies with the pacifiers.

She blankly stared at the ceiling over her bed as her 'foster sister' moped around a little downstairs and told herself it was just a coincidence, then tried to believe it.

She was part of the Russian Mafiya. The physically tiny thief would've heard something about colorful fire or creepy-strict zombie Mafia-Enforcers by now if that was at all true, and she hadn't. There had been a complete lack of anything supernatural or different from this life and her last.

However, she was a very minor baby Mafiya thief. Maybe she didn't qualify for that kind of information yet?

Maybe… maybe she should stick around Cherep until she sorted that out… because if something like that did exist… well…

Torn between wanting to laugh or cry at the impossibility, even if it was a connection to her last lifetime in a place she never thought to look, Sonya huffed a sigh as she rolled over to go to sleep.

IV (Friday the 26th of September, 1958. Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

"Sonya's been meeting with someone!" Tatiana practically sang much to Lisa's tolerant amusement, grinning stupidly at the fellow baby thief almost two full years younger than her.

"And how long did it take you to figure that one out?" Sonya deadpanned back, following them easily enough as they walked to where the morning's ballet practice was held. "It's only been going on for most of the month."

There was a kind of honor among thieves, or at least the Mafiya ones she had gotten to know here, but privacy wasn't something this version of them religiously practiced. If it happened regularly, chances were that both Lisa and Arseniy already knew it was going on and were planning something if you weren't supposed to be doing it.

Case in point, the first time she left their little home and neighborhood for another part of Moscow Lisa had known the moment she returned. Whether or not that was due to spies or someone being a concerned neighbor and informing her, or just because she noted something not available in their section of Moscow on her, was up in the air. The first time Tatiana blew off practice or study when she had the free time to just laze about like a bum Arseniy had known and given her hell for it and the man had been gone for three days due to whatever it was that took his attention most of the time.

"Sonya?" Lisa questioned lightly, giving the youngest a serious look even with the grin on her lips and tossing her short brown hair out of her way with one hand.

She kind of wondered how the woman managed that expression so flawlessly. "He's got purple hair. It's weird."

"Which would explain why he caught your attention." The older Mafiya member gave a semi-accepting and semi-dismissive shrug, holding them up just before the doors to the dancehall to continue posing questions. "Why keep meeting with him?"

"Because his reactions to me poking him are funny."

It wasn't worth it to lie, but telling the truth wasn't something Sonya want to do either. Telling the older woman that she was watching him for any purple fire suddenly appearing probably wasn't a good idea. She still wasn't too sure about the odd coincidence of the meaning of Cherep's name and his unusual coloring, so like the rest of the weird things that nagged her it was ignored.

Just like the memories of being Rachel and the fact she was used to alleviate the debts her parents had.

Lisa hummed instead of showing either disapproval or approval, waving both girls into the building for their usual morning activities.

It wasn't until they were stretching at the barre with their class that Tatiana asked a few questions herself. "Are you going to bring him home with you?"

'Was she going to bring him into the Mafiya' was what the redhead was really asking.

They were supposed to be on the lookout for additional blood for their syndicate, though it was more like a community in practice, and required to train them themselves if they found anyone.

"No. He's not really the type." Sonya informed her lowly with a shrug, trying to ignore the attention she was getting from some of the older girls for finally speaking up during this time. "From what I gather he's as innocent as can be, meeting Arseniy would probably cause him to faint or something. Clumsy too, he'd forever be trying to keep up even if he started classes with the boys right away."

Tatiana pulled a Lisa and hummed, not nearly as blandly as the older Mafiya woman could pull off but enough to convey the fact she wasn't sold on the younger girl's reasoning.

Much to her disgust Dmitriy pulled her aside just before their mass lesson on deciphering altered blueprints for hidden safes and panic rooms to ask her basically the same thing. The boy was kind of like the cousin that no one knew what job he had, he was generally good with whatever dropped into his lap and didn't seem to mind doing a bit of everything.

Dmitriy was also a solid friend she had somehow made over the last couple years, even if he tended to avoid the redhead she lived with when he could. "Well?"

Sonya rolled her eyes at him and the older boy snorted at her.

"Give me the quick and dirty version, then."

"Met him not too long ago, has weird but natural hair and eye colors, and he still freaks out when I track him down on my free days. No, I don't think he's Mafiya material. Anything else?"

He blinked at her a few times, frowning suspiciously. "This isn't the onset of a crush or anything stupid like that, is it?"

"Like the one Tatiana has on you?" She asked of him wryly, pulling him into her home's living room where Arseniy was setting up for his lesson that evening. "Hell no, don't think I'm even old enough to start that nonsense."

He gave an aggravated sigh, but willingly left her for the designated 'male' side of the room.

Their lesson might have been mixed in terms of ages and gender, but that didn't mean there were even remotely decent people on either side. Separating them out merely kept certain personalities from clashing and interrupting the lesson, both things that might just end up hospitalizing a handful of the younger but already established Mafiya members.

Arseniy hadn't been pleased the last time someone had the balls to interrupt him, he had tossed the offender straight out the front doors on his head. The last idiot that tried to grope Lisa on the sly ended up needing to get his hand reattached due to losing them to a pissed off vor, as well.

Sonya was always surprised when some moron tested his limits yet again, even if it happened nearly three to four times a year since she had started living and training under him.

Later that night, the older man's only reaction to learning she had admitted to knowing a civilian 'friend' was laying down the rule that only if she finished her work for any day she could go off to meet him if she wanted.

Tatiana was appalled at the favoritism.

He wasn't impressed with that assumption. "Maloletka, use your head. A true vor doesn't own property, it's against the code. Her friend can be used to buy and hold any property she might want, which gets around that nicely."

The younger girl actually suspected there was a little favoritism involved, if merely because she didn't tend to need lessons repeated to her so Arseniy didn't really have to deal with her often. Tatiana had been in trouble more than she had, both girls were rather sure Lisa reported to him everything they got up to given he never really needed to ask where they were in what skill or how much they practiced.

Both the insult and the mini-lecture was enough to get the older girl to shut up though, and the before bedtime safecracking practice continued as normal.

V (Monday the 29th of December 1958. Dmitriy's Garage, Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

Tatiana was among the first of them to be arrested.

Even considering the rest of the neighborhood baby Mafiya members around at various ages or rough skills, no one else had managed to screw up that badly yet.

Sonya skipped out of the house nearly the same instant Lisa reported the other girl's arrest to a freshly returned for the night Arseniy, spent a safe few hours with Cherep in a park then wandered over to the garage Dmitriy both lived over and worked at when he had little else to do.

The preteen, who was by that point eleven to her eight years of age, almost burst a rib laughing at the irony. "Who's the petty thief in your unit? What was she doing, pickpocketing?"

"Oh no, not picking pockets. The militsiya picked her up trying for a five-finger discount." Corrected the younger girl lazily, lounging on the hood of the car Dmitriy was hotwiring to show less mileage for later selling. Her nose wrinkled against the stench of motor oil and superheated metal that lingered in the shop with everything closed against the inclement weather outside even if they were the only ones there at the moment and nothing was running. "Shoplifting… poor Tatiana."

He actually stuck his head out from under the sedan, giving her a confused frown that she could see for once. "Why the hell did she do that? Tatiana can't be that stupid, to try a method she's not trained for."

"I bet you it has something to do with a few of the other girls around here." As the redhead did pour most of whatever free time she had into hanging out with the rest of the Mafiya girls living locally, while Sonya occasionally ducked out to see Cherep.

"No bet. That's too obvious." Dmitriy rolled back under the car, though the baby thief wasn't sure what he was doing now given the lack of metal on metal that would've sounded if he was doing something. Though from what little she knew of automobiles he might be manually rewinding the speedometer just to waste some time.

"I think I don't ever want to be arrested."

"You thinking of going straight?"

She gave that question some serious thought for a moment.

Over the years, her morals had changed a bit from what Rachel had to now. She didn't care much either way for the idea of stealing for a living, the only thing she kept to was ensuring that whoever she stole from would be able to afford the misfortune without too much trouble.

As it was, she did like the reward system she knew her two 'foster parents' Mafiya members were training her with, to mentally link positive recompenses with her stealing. Like a dog getting a treat for doing a trick but the 'treats' were generally either useful or desired, so Sonya kept up with it.

Rachel had floundered trying to pick her own job after college, she was surprisingly okay with having her own decided for her even if it was less than legal in nature. "Not really, I just don't want to deal with the hassle of getting arrested."

"That'd take some almost unreal skills, girl." Dmitriy informed her absently, finally fully rolling out from under the probably stolen sedan to pick himself up and look her in the eye. Just so they could have the rest of the conversation able to see one another, and so he could wind down from whatever he had been working on. "You know you're probably already on someone's watch list by now, right?"

An errant thought of her recent major wanderings made the young thief smirk at was arguably her best friend right now. "Then I'll be the World's Greatest Thief. Never caught, only suspected."

"Aiming high, are we?" He murmured more to himself than her as he cleaned off his grease and oil marred fingers with a rag pulled from his own battered tool chest. "Aren't you going to have to get into the higher end heists if you want to aim for something like that?"

"Probably." Sonya shrugged and hopped off the bonnet of the car she had spent the last two hours laying on, giving the older preteen a short wave of farewell on her way out of the garage and through the piling snow back to her 'home'.

To be bluntly honest, she didn't abstain from robbing low-income people out of some displaced desire to respect her fellow citizens' property or wages. She never pickpocketed them because it frankly didn't pay off that well, and they tended to spot the difference in their wallets faster.

You got more from lifting half of a tourist's wallet than you could from cleaning out five warehouse workers on payday, and one person raising a fuss was less notable than five in the same area.

That also meant the young thief tended to relieve wealthier citizens of their money simply because she tended to be lazy and not want to stalk more people than she had to.

Risk management wasn't something her Mafiya syndicate taught, but it was something she could pull easily enough from a dream-life.

VI (Thursday the 1st of January, 1959. A flophouse, Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

Cherep screeched a bit too loudly for Sonya's peace of mind when she popped open his window and let herself inside.

It was early, and one of the almost impossible days when the lady that ran their ballet classes was too sick to teach. Lisa was also gone for the day and possibly part of the next doing something no one spoke anything about, leaving vor Arseniy home with both Sonya and Tatiana.

The older girl was still basically grounded and confined to the house until she made up for the hassle the man went through to bail her out of jail in a mostly legal way that wouldn't stick her with the beginnings of a rap sheet.

Well… rather a rap sheet with more than any normal civilian girl would have.

That ended up giving her a downright out of the blue free morning in the middle of a Russian winter, when she generally tended to only have the afternoons or evenings to herself.

Only a fraction of which she had spent on him, all total, in honesty.

While she could appreciate Cherep's shock at seeing her in the morning, it was still too early for it. "Shut up already."

He flailed with his hands, as he usually did when she surprised him or did something he didn't think was polite. It was more panicked than Sonya was used to seeing from him, probably because he didn't know she knew full well he was bunking in a flophouse for beggars and the homeless.

She felt a little insulted at that possibly only assumed reasoning for the actions going on.

It hadn't been that hard to track him down, and the fact he usually wore ragged if serviceable clothing was a big tip off that he wasn't remotely financially secure. His health was another, but that could've been attributed to several factors if she was pressed to be honest. Figuring out he was an orphan, or at least without parental influences, was just as easy because in the half a year she knew him he never once mentioned either a curfew or limitation on his time to her and they did sometimes spend lunch and dinner together.

Sonya even kept a ready supply of rubles on hand for visiting him, tucking a few bills into his pockets now and again when it was either freezing cold or she hadn't seen him for a stretch of days. She had been curious how weather-proof his residence was and now she knew it'd do for deep winters, but it was a bit drafty.

Cherep wasn't doing too badly on his own, which was why she never really confronted him about his situation and still wouldn't. He could go to a local trade school if he wanted, ate somewhat regularly even without her, so she never felt very guilty for leaving her friend to handle his own affairs.

He'd either manage to do better on his own or stay in the slums all his life, and unless he asked for help she wouldn't nose into his life that much.

Instead of anything she was sure the kid was expecting from her, Sonya merely slumped on his saggy bare mattress of a bed but left the two ragged wool blankets he used to insulate himself at night alone. "For fuck's sake, please stop."



Blinking wide purple eyes at her, Cherep gripped then pulled his ratty blankets higher up his flannel clad chest and darted a few looks at his previously jammed shut window sill she had closed behind herself. "What are you doing?"

She peered up at him around her arms, not tempted at all to get upright. More sleep sounded wonderful to her. "Lazing around. Might take a nap. Why?"

He gave a full body twitch at her reply, the same one she always got for somehow irritating him. "What are you doing in my room? How do you even know where I live?"

"Again, lazing. I've got a free morning, oddly enough." The tiny thief scooted herself to a more comfortable position, stretching out across the foot of his bed. "And it wasn't that hard, I knew where you lived a couple days after I met you."

The boy gave her what he probably thought was a disgusted look, but he ended up looking more like a disgruntled cat to her than anything. "You are… annoying."

"And still, you're a pushover. Go back to sleep."

He visibly thought about it for a long moment but did eventually lay back down.

Sonya curled her arms up over her face, to both block out the early morning light and bury her nose into her own clothing instead of suffering through the rather squalid stench of Cherep's tiny room. It was a mix of burning dust, unwashed bodies, and the cheap soap he used to keep himself and his clothes somewhat clean.

Lying in a pool of sunlight was the only plus. That, and the walls blocking the worst of the draft seeping through this building.

"Do… you want to go get breakfast?"



VII (Tuesday the 22nd of March, 1960. Arseniy & Lisa's home, Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

Technically, Sonya could probably afford to strike out on her own after she turned nine if it wasn't for the whole age/physically a pipsqueak thing.

By the end of 1959 she was a well-trained petty thief, a respectable pickpocket and lockpick any crew of thieves could find multiple uses for. All she really had to do was a big haul or two, at least big enough for Arseniy to approve and take a cut for both lodging and training her and one for their clan's treasury, and she'd be freed from her 'foster home'.

She could even find a crew to join for said hauls or stick to working alone as she mostly tended to do already.

Her half joking goal of becoming the World's Greatest Thief meant there were a few more rough edges she still had to polish up before striking out of her 'foster home'. Safecracking for one, hacking was also something she really needed to investigate given Rachel's memories of the internet and how it hindered criminal activity once it took off, hot wiring security systems was another.

Lisa was highly amused at the goal she set herself, how she found out was a mystery she wasn't poking, vor Arseniy not so much but probably more for the fact it would mean Sonya was sticking around longer than he had figured on initially. They eventually decided then informed her that if she wanted to keep on training she could very well live with them at least until Tatiana deemed herself finished and ready to strike out on her own. Only if she contributed to the household funds, their tribute to the clan's coffers, and when she had nothing else to do keep going to both training and the physical conditioning classes when they were held.

Tatiana scoffed when she heard, fully into the swing of puberty and still with the jealousy problem that marred the girls' relationship. Sonya mainly ignored her, hoping that the redhead would get over it and they could go back to how they were in the beginning.

That hadn't been bad, a bit standoffish but decent enough. There had been none of the hate, at least.

Upon hearing she was going to try for that goal Dmitriy personally guided her through some hotwiring exercises and set up more when she asked. In return for the effort the preteen demanded a future favor or two from her, which had Sonya staring at him for a long moment dubiously before reluctantly agreeing to.

She did wonder what he wanted that badly to try to gain a hold on someone that might get it for him without personal risk. Favors weren't traded around lightly even between the younger kids running around the neighborhood for a reason, it usually only took one or two bad examples to warn off the rest from going lightly with it.

For the time being, all Sonya concentrated on was planning her first big heist and keeping an eye on what was happening in the world.

She knew the Cold War was ongoing and had no plans on still being in the USSR for the few decades it would take for Communism to be replaced by Capitalism. She was pretty sure there was a fallout of some serious degree that wouldn't be very conductive to her lifestyle.

The ongoing Space Race was interesting to watch happen, and she was torn between the smug pride in America for eventually beating the rest of the world to the Moon and some enthusiasm for the burgeoning USSR's Space Program's successes. The excitement and pride were somewhat infectious to witness.

One thing she did plan on was being in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, just simply because she could, and the first order of business the moment she got out of the USSR was to find herself some damn blue jeans.

Sonya planned to remain with Lisa and Arseniy for two or three more years as she built up her skills further just to be safe, then leaving the USSR for other pastures. As long as she sent back her tributes to their syndicate it was actually allowed because stealing where you lived tended to be a very bad idea, so thieves tended to wander a bit even without outside motives prodding them.

She spent a lot of time in January working up the nerve to steal a few building plans of high-end shops she intended to sharpen her cat burglary skills on. Then planning on how to get around the security systems and any possible guards, pricing what she was likely to pick up when she went so she'd know the order to prioritize, and how she was going to get to Kaluga and back with her 'hot' loot.

Lisa wasn't much for big heist planning, so Sonya spent a downright unusual amount of time with Arseniy as he overlooked her initial plans and pointed out the flaws that might get her caught before she learned the hard way.

The day before she left Moscow she spent an entire day with Cherep, who took advantage of the fact and had her pay their fees to visit the Soviet Army Theatre to see a play called The Last Night of the Last Tzar. Probably out of revenge for something she did he found less than agreeable because he was a passive aggressive little shit sometimes, but she honestly didn't mind this because it was something to do with someone that liked her being around.

Sonya wasn't impressed with the barely veiled mockery of the previous aristocracy's fall in the play but he had been, so she figured it was alright. Once she got back she would probably drag him to the cinema to see something impressive and find out what he thought of The Snow Queen, an animated film she recalled watching once upon a dream-time's childhood.

Packing up for her first big heist was both easy and hard as the young thief had been lifting small things for years, but this was the first time she would do something so blatantly illegal outside petty theft or easily hid targets.

Morally wrong or not, Sonya was excited to be formally entering her profession and that kept her fussing over her equipment and tools for a large part of the night.

Part of it might just be because she was tired of being viewed as a child, another part might just be the conditioning she had been subjected to for nearly five years making her unconsciously assume the big job would get her a big reward.

It could even be because she was anticipating a challenge, something she hadn't had since tackling the initial thief skills taught to her.

Lisa equipped her with the address of the safe house in the area she would be stealing from just before the young Mafiya girl got on the train with her luggage and reminded her to pay her dues for using them for shelter and operating in their territory.

VIII (Wednesday the 23rd of March, 1960. Kaluga, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

For all that Sonya had trained for years to handle something just like it, she had no expectations that her first heist would go smoothly.

It didn't, but at least she hadn't been surprised by that.

Her target was a jewelry store, a medium-sized one that had been in business for years and weathered the fall of the nobles shockingly well for a now communist run country. Probably by being somewhat affluent in their local section of the government. They had a few hired staff that would stall any formal investigation for a time and they were not nearly popular enough in designing their own pieces for their jewelry to be easily identifiable if she fenced them locally or in neighboring cities.

Not a good first target as there were a lot of semi-suspicious things going on there, but it was within her range and in an out-of-the-way part of the country so if she screwed up... she might dodge the worse of the suspicion she would then be due.

While she was a little concerned that they might have more than one method for catching jewel thieves, it was also an older building that hadn't been remodeled to have an alarm system in place yet. There was a night guard unfortunately, but her target wasn't the gems on display for sale unless she had the time and space for stealing them too.

What she wanted was the raw metal and gemstones waiting to be set. Much easier to fence and less noticeable to law enforcement and given the store did do repairs and a rare few custom designs?

They probably had the raw material on hand. Raw, harder to track, unworked silver and gold with maybe the loose gemstones due to be set into a piece of jewelry.

The afternoon of her planned heist, the physically tiny thief took an oversized piece of luggage with her and cased the store out under the guise of waiting for her mother to finish book shopping one building over. After a good look around and the preliminary inspection to ensure there wasn't an alarm system in place yet as the paperwork claimed, she wandered to the bookstore her fake mother was supposedly shopping in.

Getting the building plans for both buildings had taken a lot of time, but it paid off because she knew exactly where the vents ran in the bookstore and how to get to the roof of the jewelry store from there. A quick duck into the second-floor washrooms, after waiting for the only other lady to leave, netted her an easy access way that wouldn't raise awkward questions of what she thought she was doing.

Changing into long sleeved clothing, tying up her shoulder-length blonde hair into a bun, slipping on a pair of leather gloves, and the thief was ready to begin carefully climbing into the vents while juggling both the vent covering and her bag.

It was a tight squeeze, not to mention the luggage she had picked to hold whatever she stole tended to be unwieldy in its nearly empty state. She had to spend most of an hour carefully and silently edging her way up a sheer vertical shaft to the roof vent, then she spent the rest of the afternoon waiting behind the grill that kept animals from getting into the vent.

Next time, she was bringing a book or something for this part.

To play it safe, Sonya was only going to move between buildings under the cover of night. She had a black hood Lisa had made her, to cover her bright ash blonde hair from being spotted, as well as a thin scarf in dark blue that would cover her from nose to chin just in case. The luggage she had was reversible, the current 'inside' was a dark felt color and would be used to hold whatever she stole until she got somewhere to fence or pass it on for her tributes. Currently it held her lock picks, three lengths of rope, a screwdriver, a stethoscope, and her 'day' change of clothes.

When the sun finally sunk beneath the horizon, she carefully pried the vent covering off and slithered out onto the roof of the three-story building.

Emptying her bag of most of her tools she first tucked her lock picks into a pouch at the small of her back, secured the stethoscope around her neck, her screwdriver into a sleeve against her left forearm, then she uncurled one of her lengths of rope and affixed it to the sturdiest structure on the roof in preparation for later that night.

Another few hours were wasted as she waited for both the nightlife to taper off and for the security guard to have enough time to become complacent. Shortly after midnight was the point when she felt somewhat confident she would be able to reach the other building's roof without being spotted, and she finally got around to starting her heist already impatient and a bit antsy about how long she had been basically a sitting duck if anyone so much as got curious.

Dropping down a story wasn't that hard, and with her gymnastic training she managed it and the landing easily even if she could have lowered herself with the rope that instead lowered her bag.

It was once she got to the other roof that things started to go wrong.

According to the plans she had acquired the roof access door didn't have an alarm on it, but here in reality it was wired and clearly marked as a fire escape. Finishing her last-minute preparations for her break-in the thief also glared at said clearly marked door, wrapping the scarf over her lower face and fitting the hood over her hair and the excess cloth to keep it in place.

Instead of that plan, she had to look at this building's vents before maybe considering the windows. The problem was that these vents had covers that screwed on in this building, and it was likely she'd have to force the interior vents off and that would make noise she wasn't sure she could afford.

There wasn't much left to do but try something, as her first plan was a bust.

Recollecting her bag from weighing down the end of her escape rope, Sonya removed the exterior vent with her screwdriver and left it on the roof. Sliding into the ventilation ducts was different than doing the same in the newer building next to it, as it was less smooth and more piecemeal in construction. Her clothes kept getting snagged on sharp lips of metal or the occasional nail, making for a very jerky descent into the building.

She took the first opportunity to leave the ventilation system she could, a hallway vent that was positioned near the floor she barely squeezed through thanks to her tiny size. Finally, on the second floor and in what seemed to be the store's main offices, the budding thief started casing around for anything she might want to take.

Scorning the office supplies, as most of it was both too heavy and not worth much, she stole into what looked like the business owner's office after picking his lock. It took her less than three minutes to find the safe, but almost fifteen to crack it.

The business ledgers were left as they were, but the number of old ruble coins in pure gold and silver became the first things she lifted from her first heist. The supply of paper rubles went next and a bag of loose gemstones were the last of the things she took out of there. Relocking the safe and the office door behind her would hopefully delay the discovery of her work that night, or at least just this bit.

More settled now that things were finally going somewhat right as planned, she padded off. She was off to a lucrative start, and she hadn't even had to evade a night guard or found her main goal yet.

One last cursory look around the second floor showed little else that would interest her, so the Sonya descended to the first floor carefully.

Then she made a rapid retreat back up the stairs just ahead of the security guard as he apparently followed his normal habits to patrol the second floor after a check of the showroom downstairs.

By the ticking of the office clock glaring out into the gloomy space, it was barely one in the morning. Sonya decided to follow the man to figure out his route before risking getting caught from skipping ahead of his usual path.

What she forgot was the loose coins that caused her to duck hastily when her bag shifted, and they clinked together clearly into the near-silence. There was a pause in the guard's stride, a long one that took almost a minute as he listened for any further odd noises that might signify her location or another thief moving around him.

She didn't dare breathe until he slowly started walking again, and only moved when his pace picked up back to what it was before she almost tipped him off to her presence.

Instead of following him immediately, the thief waited until he had gotten a decent amount of space between them before finding a place to temporarily stashing her bag on someone's office chair.

Screw following him with the bag in hand… that near-miss had almost cost her a few years off her life.

IX (Friday the 25th of March, 1960. Arseniy & Lisa's home, Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

Bleary-eyed and still exhausted, Sonya returned to Moscow with more jewels and precious metals than she planned on.

She did successfully pull of the heist in the end, but at the cost of scaling up a ventilation shaft then spending the rest of the night and part of the next morning in the neighboring building's ventilation shafts with a bulky bag of loot to struggle with.

The jewelry store clerks had secured their stock of gems and metal under the display cases instead of leaving them in the mostly glass with brass fittings showcases, giving her the opportunity to lift them without alerting the lone guard that the store was being robbed under his nose. She had to take twice the amount of time she had planned on including that in her heist, as it took two shots to completely clear out with a guard wandering around, but she did it and got the jeweler's workstation located in the main floor's back room she had originally targeted.

Though she managed to get more than she thought she would and that was good in a way, it also proved to be a very heavy load for a young thief of her stature to manage.

She had waited until well after the robbery had been reported before even twitching from the lip of the vent she had spent more hours on than she was comfortable with inside of. Using the time she would need to make it down the other building's interior safely to put even more space between the cops showing up and finally leaving the area to widen their search for the thief responsible.

Making her slow and careful way out of the bookstore after changing back into the previous day's clothes had been nerve-wracking, Sonya even got stopped by a operativnik who asked what a young girl was doing wandering around alone that morning and she was forced to bullshit about a visit to a uncle a few streets over on the spot while the stolen goods he was looking for pulled heavily at her shoulders.

Her heart had nearly hammered out of her chest while doing so, but eventually the press of 'more important' things had gotten her dismissed.

The rest of her big heist day was spent sleeping off the late night at the Mafiya maintained safe house, then doling out the cash and a few of the bigger gems she managed to swipe as her tribute for infringing on another group's territory.

Her last day in Kaluga was geared more to sorting out the loot she stole, earmarking a few pieces of actual jewelry for both Lisa and Tatiana and a bar of solid gold for both Arseniy and Dmitriy. If she was a little more certain to Cherep's character and what he would do if given stolen items she might have marked something out for him, but she figured paying for meals and things to do when she visited was safer for the time being.

Sonya would be keeping some of the loose gemstones and two of the ruble coins for herself. It wasn't wise to keep trophies, but… rare old coins. Something she could sell later if she needed cash for something unexpected.

The rest she would fence or liquidate, then pay her thieves' clan tribute for a couple years with most of what was left and hoard a bit for a nest-egg.

Packing it all back away and in properly hidden locations took some doing, because the quilted blanket with the internal pockets she packed for it ended up too heavy to conceal everything. She had to acquire another and make simple thread loops to contain any noise all that metal would generate, just to ensure that if she was searched she would be able to get away with her loot.

Before she left the town, the tiny thief picked up the day's newspaper just for laughs. Her heist was secondary to the news about the successful launch of satellite Sputnik 5 and its later retrieval, but she was pleased to read about how the animals involved in the launch surviving perfectly fine.

She'd take the paper back with her but didn't plan on holding onto the article detailing the burglary of a mildly popular jewelry store for any longer than a week.

Her return to Moscow went off rather well, her two loot blankets hadn't rated a look beyond noting she had them by the conductor. Arseniy picked her up from the station, easily taking both suspiciously heavy blankets from her and not even twitching at the fact she had an additional one aside the one they sent with her.

Once home and her things were unpacked, she went to the basement with both older Mafiya members to sort out exactly what she had to give as tribute to both their syndicate and them as the ones that trained her. It was only after she started in on the second blanket, ripping the seams and spilling out the rag muffled jewelry and metal on the table set up for her, that Lisa started acting like a proud mother hen over her successful haul. All Arseniy did was smirk himself, but it did get bigger as more loose gems and metal ingots were set down for consideration after the complete jewelry sets.

It took them a few hours, and a bit of guesswork for general values certain pieces could be fenced for, to total up the amount she would be credited with bringing in. Sonya took the opportunity to distribute the tokens of her appreciation to them both under the vor's sharp eye and set aside the other pieces she intended to give Tatiana and Dmitriy.

Discounting the rare old coins that needed specialized fencers to sell or would be just buried somewhere and dug up once things got nice and muddled, she made away with nearly a million rubles in jewelry, gems, and metals. In USSR that might have been a lot, but it was barely a quarter of a million in US dollars.

Arseniy gave a slow nod as he totaled up their guesswork, finally giving Sonya a rare look of approval. "You may get a jeweled moon tattoo over your cat, to show you've successfully pulled off a jewelry heist at night. You could even get a grey dove, or even a pink rose, to show you did it without raising suspicion over your innocence."

"Even if I don't intend to be a jewel thief?" She quietly questioned tiredly, rubbing at her eyes with her left hand. "It's interesting, but something I'm probably not going to do again in a fast hurry."

He gave a dismissive shrug of a shoulder, picking through the heap of precious metal and stones to sort out the intricately designed pieces they would have to either sit on or sell fast. "You have time to waste, the proceeds of this will cover your dues for a few years if you want."

Lisa was pairing up the earrings, clipping them to blank cardstock they kept on hand for making fake business cards when needed for cons. "You can take a break, Sonya. No one can say you didn't earn it."

It was something to at least contemplate, so she gave the two of them a shrug in answer for now.

They were right, though. She had more than a little time to think about it before she had to do something or risk a hitman coming after her for flaking off her duties as an aspiring Mafiya thief.

X (Sunday the 27th of March, 1960. Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.)

After a day simply for rest, and to reset her sleeping pattern to be less 'night owl', Sonya skipped town again to visit Valya's tattoo parlor in Saratov.

The man proved to be greatly impressed that she achieved the rights to be identified as a 'jewel thief' as young as she had. She gave him an opal gemstone in exchange for inking the crystal crescent moon positioned to cradle her kitten.

The man even touched up her first tattoo before she left his rather hidden alcove for tattoo work, because over the last five years she had grown a lot and it was looking both faded and a bit stretched out.

She promised herself that only if she reached her mid-teens without getting caught would she get the white rose on the other side of her cat. Pink wasn't all that impressive, honestly, and she didn't remotely like the idea of murdering someone just to earn herself red roses.

Then she spent a few hours just wandering around her hometown, merely because she was kind of fascinated to see the differences half a decade had done to the city. She avoided the house she once lived in and general area she spent her first few years wandering around, simply because she was aware she had issues with both her biological parents and didn't feel like encountering either just yet.

There were doubts now, but not enough to make confronting anyone about her possibly off suspicions.

Instead, she visited a few of the farther early haunts. Noting if they had been re-appropriated or not and by whom.

Her second return to Moscow was quieter than the first time, given she took the morning train out and came back on the evening one.

What she didn't expect was encountering Cherep, or Cherep encountering a few Mafiya members that didn't think he was amusing.

Sonya dumbly watched from the shadows as one of the drunk and tattooed men take a swing at her friend, absently noting they had prison tats instead of the professional ones her syndicate had their members get.

There were drunk Mafiya vory on the street... in a territory she was sure they weren't allowed to wander freely... disturbing the quiet street, likely drawing the wrong kind of attention to themselves and the baby-Mafiya-in-training in the neighborhood, and they were harassing her friend.

As far as being a Mafiya member went, she wasn't particularly violent. She slapped and punched her friends, lightly, but didn't go out of her way to harm others if she could avoid it. The one thing that always seemed odd to her was her deep appreciation for the combat training they were given, especially the staff training she had bargained for years ago. She had loved it, badgering vor Aleksandr for every bit he might know and asking around for anyone else that might be able to teach her.

Using that combat training as it was intended had never really crossed her mind, other than ensuring Tatiana's sometimes big mouth didn't end up harming her unnecessarily. The staff-training she had begged for but only got a small amount of had been more a curiosity to her than something she had planned on ever using.

Staff training she promptly put into use with someone's discarded rake, after quietly breaking off the metal head affixed to one end.

Sonya leapt in to wallop one of the men across the face without much issue, sliding her thin body between that man and his two friends and her own friend. The fact Cherep didn't even squeak at her sudden arrival was mentally filed away to be questioned later, because they had a bigger problem.

The vory she had just defied were all killers, given the general guideline of what tattoo meant what the tiny thief could identify that much at a glance. A knife through the neck was a killer for hire, one had the 243 police badge across the back of one hand that was for assaulting police officers and a collection of skull tats for murders on his chest, and the third had the Celtic cross style crosshairs that meant hitman scrawled across his back.

Thankfully, the hitman was the one laid out cold by her first strike. She wasn't too sure how well she would have held up against him if he wasn't drunk and caught completely off-guard. As it was his two friends/underlings/drinking buddies were apparently the easily offended and aggressively drunk types, Sonya had difficulty fending them off even as wasted as they were.

They outweighed her, would've had a longer reach without the length of wood she had appropriated as a weapon, and were more used to fighting with the other as a team than she was fighting two opponents at the same time. The fact they were intoxicated was really the only reason she managed to buy any amount of time or even survived the first exchange of blows.

The vor with the police battery tat finally managed to gain a brain cell or two to use, a very disturbing grin crossing his dirty face before he abruptly spun to reach pass her for Cherep.

Who had stood there behind her like a moron and Sonya swore to herself that she would teach him what not to do in a fight the very next day… if they survived.

Desperate and a little terrified of the situation about to develop with her friend in the middle, she slammed a two-handed swing down on his arm even as she mule-kicked his partner in crime away from her for breathing room to use.

She was as surprised as everyone else when her double-handed blow managed to break a man's forearm and her kick knocked the other Mafiya man backwards into a brick wall. She still retained the presence of mind to drop the wood to grab Cherep and haul ass out of there before anyone else could recover, but a very nasty suspicion started weaseling into her thoughts even as her friend finally started trying to keep up with her.

As a not even ten-year-old girl, she was nowhere near strong enough for what she managed to do not a minute ago.

She tried to tell herself it was just the adrenalin. People could do awesome things when in fear of their or someone else's life, right?

It was coincidence, the kid technically named 'skull' behind her wasn't going to be cursed as a rainbow baby for years and there was no such thing as multicolored Mafia fire that could bend reality.


AN#2 : Promised Translations

Vorovskoy Mir – Thieves' World, Russian term for the underworld

Vory v Zakone (Singular vor, Plural vory) – Thieves-in-Law, title awarded by one's peers (like a peerage title rather than a military rank).

GULAG – was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems during the Stalin era, from the 1930s until the 1950s.

Vory Kod – Thieves Code (I made it up, seeing as the Ponyatiya doesn't exactly fit in with the KHR! world developments)

Uchastkovyi – Quarter Policeman, someone who maintains close relations with the residents of his quarter and gather information among them. In particular, uchastkovyi should personally know each and every ex-convict, substance abuser, young hooligan etc. in given quarter, and visit them regularly for preemptive influence.

Militsiya – A kind of paramilitary law enforcement, less military and more police in nature.

Maloletka – Used to mean little slut in this usage (lit. underage girl)

Operativnik – Detective/Investigator of the KGB

Edit Corrections - Had to change the Family based build I originally had, due to the fact Russia's underworld are structured more like gangs or clans rather than the Italian Families and one reader pointed that my way didn't fit as well as it should. Still not quite a reflection of real-life mafia, but closer now. I also screwed up the GULAG acronym use, I'm American... sue me. Also corrected some of the translations, as it implied the wrong thing about the terms used.