“I would feel much, much better if we had more guns.” Adele looked down at the meager offerings.
“Or even just more bullets.” Natalya sighed. “Alright, we’ve got the 45 Greg took from the bad guys, and we’ve got Phil’s puny little backup ankle gun and…” She looked up at Yala and Greg. “You guys couldn’t have retrieved his sidearm while you were kidnapping him?”
“Bullets are the things that the gun spits out?” Yala glanced at Greg.
“Yep.” Greg nodded.
“Also known as ammunition.” Phil shrugged. Then he tilted his head at Natalya. “Puny?”
She held the gun up with the tip of two fingers. “Puny.”
“You ever tried strapping a bigger gun to your ankle and walked all day?” He raised an eyebrow at her.
“Honey, I wear high heels. Don’t even go there.” She folded her arms.
Phil started to open his mouth, and Greg reached over to put a hand over it. “Don’t.” Greg shook his head. “Just smile and nod.”
“Better if we had more strong outer layers.” Yala picked up Phil’s bulletproof vest.
“Armor.” Greg provided the word quietly.
“Armor. They will not shoot at me, but the rest of you are in harm’s way.” Yala exhaled.
“Yeah, killing you is pretty much the exact opposite of what they want to do.” Phil looked down at the crude sketch he’d made of the area. “We have the element of surprise at least.”
“How do you figure that?” Natalya stared at him.
“He threw a bed at me.” Phil gestured at Yala. “That was definitely a…” He blinked when the light came on in the small garage they were using for cover. “Surprise.”
Natalya turned to see a startled looking young man staring at them. “Uh, hi.”
“Hi…” He looked at the others, then back at her. “What are you doing in my shop?”
“Natalya Petrov.” She held out her hand as she took a step forward, smiling at him. “Nice to meet you.”
“Uh…” He accepted her handshake. “Jim. That, uh…” He gave a small head shake. “Doesn’t answer my question.” He glanced at them again. “I’m calling the police.”
“I am the police.” Phil shrugged. When Jim looked over at him, Phil held up his badge. “See? Come in here.”
“Uh…” The ginger-haired, freckled young man stepped all the way in. “Okay. Officer. Uh…” He glanced at the table, then his eyes widened at the sight of the rough map. “Oh, is this a sting?”
She glanced over her shoulder to see both Greg and Phil nod, Adel shrug, and Yala give her a confused look. “Yes, it’s a sting. We need you to be quiet, okay?”
“It’s the Penskies, isn’t it?” Jim started grinning. “I knew they were up to —”
“Jim, do you have a vehicle?” Greg’s head came up.
“Yeah, I got uh…” He gestured. “My bikes.” He brightened a little before pointing to the door into the work area proper. “Oh, and the jeep, but it’s hitched up to my boat.”
“You have a boat?” Yala straightened.
“Your name is seriously Jim Gordon?” Adele stared at the young man.
“Why is that funny?” Jim blinked at her.
“Like the commissioner?”
“The who?” Jim gave her a confused look.
She tried not to give a frustrated sigh. “In Batman?”
“I thought he was like, Bruce Kent.” Jim handed her the keys to the boat.
Great. They were trusting their lives to a stoner. She accepted the keys, then took a deep breath before patting his shoulder. “Thanks, Jim. You’re a sweetheart.” She glanced at the boat. It was bigger than she’d expected, though it looked old and a little battered. Jim followed her gaze, then began reassuring her the engine had just been fully overhauled. She patted him again, then smiled when he actually blushed a little in response. Hopefully, they’d manage to avoid any consequences for him, though there was a decent chance they were going to need to reimburse him for the boat and jeep. “Just keep your head down, alright?”
“Okay.” He hesitated a moment, then shifted his weight. “I’ve got some guns in the —”
“Guns?” Adele immediately turned toward him.
“Yeah, I mean, just my hunting rifle and a shotgun.” He gave her an awkward grin. “I mean, if it helps.”
“Thank you.” She kissed his cheek before gesturing for him to take her to the guns.
Yalathanil watched Phil head to the left, and Greg to to the right. He circled, continuing forward. The young man, Jim, had pointed to the storm drains, though he’d noted there were grates that would prevent them from using the drains to getting to the lake. To escape the garage and get behind the armed enemies, however, the drains had worked perfectly. Phil had complained a little about the smell, only to laugh when Greg had claimed the drains smelled ‘of victory’. All he’d smelled was stagnant water and rotting garbage.
He’d left the guns with the two humans. Both Natalya and Adele had admitted to having no firearm or real combat experience, thus they’d stayed behind with Jim in the garage to act as decoys. There was an odd smell to Jim, though considering the young man worked at the acrid smelling garage that was not entirely surprising.
The first of the snipers was on a roof, laying in front of his weapon. Facing an expanse of grass where children played on metal bars. A coward. Yalathanil hesitated only a brief moment before picking up one of the heavy metal bars laying on the roof. The sniper turned at the scraping sound.
His eyes barely had a chance to widen before Yalathanil used the metal bar to splatter the contents of his head over the roof.
Greg took a deep breath, then put the gun away. He drew the knife he’d taken from the garage, then continued creeping forward. The sniper was focused on his target, which looked to be the garage. Greg swallowed, spend a few moments wishing this wasn’t necessary…
Then grabbed the man, yanked him back, put a hand over his mouth, and jammed the knife up and under his ribcage.
“I’ve got two very unhappy mercenaries handcuffed to a fence.” Phil’s voice came over the phone. “And some more guns.”
“Good work.” Natalya smiled at the phone. “Are you on your way back?” Some small part of her was concerned that Phil would take this opportunity to flee them.
“Under cover and waiting at the drain for the others.” Her heart warmed just a little at the reassurance. “I think I see Yala.”
“Jim got us a couple more guns. Hunting rifle and a shotgun. Only about six rounds for the rifle, but like a dozen boxes for the shotgun. He apparently duck hunts.” Natalya looked at the firearms. “I know how to handle the rifle, though admittedly it’s because I’m used to one that fires tranquilizers, but Greg’s probably a better choice for either of these.”
“Alright, there is Greg, and…” Phil’s voice briefly trailed off. “And we probably should have explained to Yala that walking around in blood splattered clothing is not the best idea.”
“Yeah.” Natalya ran a hand down her face. “That would have been wise.”
Adele gestured for Jim to hide in the garage’s tool room. Being made of concrete, it was likely as close as they could get to bullet-proof. “You’ll be safe.”
“But then who is going to open up the roll doors for you to get the boat and jeep out?” He blinked at her.
“I…” She stopped herself. He had a point. “Shit.” She took a deep breath. “Okay, but as soon as you do that, you get into cover, alright?”
“Okay.” He nodded. She felt guilty taking advantage of the naive and not particularly bright youngster, but the situation was kind of desperate. Maybe when this was done she’d also get him a nice laptop or something. She was about to ask when his phone rang. He answered it before she could object. “Hey Christophe, can I call you bac—” Jim blinked at the phone. “Russian or American?” He rubbed his forehead. “Why?” His eyes widened a little. “I told them not to…” He glared. “I’m not being hypocrit…” He made a growling sound. “Stop them.” He exhaled. “Because that’s your job.” He gave a small head shake. “I can’t leave right now, I’m right in the middle of helping a lovely woman with…” He trailed off, then took the phone away from his ear and stared at it a moment before looking up at her. “He hung up on me.”
“Maybe you should go see what he needs?” She gave him a hopeful look as she tried not to add ‘and get yourself to safety’.
“But I’m helping you right now.” He smiled at her. “Hey, any chance I could get your phone number?”
Yalathanil looked down at himself. “Oh.” He picked up a fleck of brain matter, and tossed it aside. “I will wash in the drain.”
“Yeah, also not a good idea.” Phil shook his head.
“Here…” Greg stripped off the hooded jacket he was wearing. “Lose the shirt, it’s got most of it. The jeans are dark enough it’s not too visible.” He offered the jacket to Yalathanil.
“Right.” He tried not to smile. The jacket smelled like Greg when he put it on. “Let’s get back to the women.” He lifted the drain cover for the others.
“Okay.” Phil nodded. “With the snipers down, we can make a break for the water. They don’t dare move in the open, and once we are in the water, we’ve got a lot more options.”
“Like Yala just dives overboard and Xue is fucked.” Greg chuckled.
“Unless they follow us in boats.” Phil sighed. “Then —”
“Let them.” Yalathanil closed the grate behind them. “See how well their boats go when I punch holes in it and tear the motor off.” When they both looked at him, he shrugged, then briefly took his amphibious form and smiled to show all his teeth. “They want to take me on in the water, they are welcome to die.”
“Okay.” Phil swallowed. “I’m…” He took a deep breath. “A little terrified.”
“Yeah.” Greg just grinned. “Come on.”
“Sir, our men aren’t responding.” Genna went so far as to put a worried hand on his shoulder.
Xue bowed his head. “No. We can’t…” He exhaled. “Contact the rest we have in place. Tell them…” He searched his mind.
“Sir, the hostage threat worked.” Genna straightened.
“The creature responded to the hostage threat.” She took a deep breath. “But we need to move fast. Once it is in the water, we have no way to communicate with it.”
“Once it’s in the water, I’m a dead man.” He nodded to her. “You have a plan?”
“Yes, sir.” She smiled at him.
They didn’t have much left in the way of supplies. That made everything easier. Greg gave Adele a boost into the boat. “We do appreciate this.”
“Yeah.” Jim grinned at him. “Adele said.” He held up a small piece of paper. “She even gave me her number.”
He tried not to laugh. Jim had to be ten years younger than Adele. “Good on you.” He started to step toward the boat. “Alright, we need —”
In the back, the doors burst open. Men started to pour in, armed. Jim gave him a light shove. “Go, I’ll open the door.” He ran to the button for the roll up.
Greg started for the boat as the door started up. There were men on the other side with guns. “Go.” In the boat, Phil yelled at where Natalya was driving. Natalya started the jeep.
His hand caught the boat and he started to pull himself on board when he saw one of the men taking aim at the unarmed Jim. Greg kicked off the side of the boat to tackle the young man out of the line of fire. Something punched him in the midsection, and he hit the ground atop Jim.