Hemant stared across the table into the eyes of his opponent. God, he hated playing against women. Men he could face on equal terms. But his chivalrous upbringing always gave female opponents an advantage.

Vedula stared back at him, and smiled, enjoying his discomfiture. She leaned forward slightly, and his eyes turned reluctantly away from her inviting cleavage. Bitch, he thought. She sat back, arranging the ermine coat around her shoulders.

"So are you going to move, or not?" he growled. As soon as he said it he knew it was a mistake. His temper was going, which was just what she wanted. She knew she had him anyway. She was just prolonging the agony.

"Five-minute limit is not up," Kilduff said. He stood as the impartial judge. Like Vedula didn't have him under her thumb. She was like a cat, toying with her prey before snapping its spine.

Vedula looked down at the board before her, seeming to consider a number of moves. As if there were more than one. "A-5," she said.

Hell. "Yeah, you sunk my fuckin' battleship, bitch." He spat across the table at her, and the last thing he felt was Kilduff's blackjack on the back of his skull.

Based on the words: Ermine Needle Table Battleship

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey /