Modern/Delta Green - The Beginning of the End (COMPLETED) - Page 33




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    The Last Castle: Part 4a – Blood Brothers

    The week went much the same as their first day on the job. Hammer threatened somebody, Jim-Bean explained why it was a good idea to comply, and the drug dealers dutifully forked over their not-so-hard-earned cash.

    It wasn’t long before Ridge noticed and inducted them into the “Castle Way.” The Castle Way was the same code of conduct used by the other police officers—brutal, effective, and violent. They were invited to come along as guards for an exchange between a drug dealer and the Castle TADU at a t-shirt factory.

    “Think Guppy and Archive can handle backup?” Jim-Bean said out of the corner of his mouth to Hammer. “They’re not exactly the best shots…”

    “They know where to meet us,” said Hammer. “They’ll be here.”

    They pulled up to a non-descript warehouse. Several of the Castle TADU stepped out and ushered them inside.

    Ridge stood before his men, his chest puffed with pride. “Welcome, gentlemen. This is the biggest deal we’ve made in history. We can retire after this.”

    The cops laughed in response. They were enjoying their lives as drug kingpins too much to ever retire.

    “Today,” said Ridge, “our buyer is going to inspect the goods.”

    He strode over to one of the vats. “First, Blink is turned into a solution in one of these vats.” He grabbed a white t-shirt from one of several boxes piled on the floor. “Then we dip these shirts into the solution.”

    Ridge pointed at a pile of shrink-wrapped t-shirts that could be on any department store shelf.

    “And here is the finished product in a perfectly ordinary shipping package. Next thing you know we’ll run the post office out of business.”

    The men got another laugh out of that.

    “Now, let’s get rich.”

    The drug dealer, a man named Slice, strode into the room, dripping gold from his ears and throat. Even his teeth were gold. “Yo, you got security hanging out front?”

    Ridge looked back and forth at his men. They shook their heads. “We got lookouts, but nobody you should be able to spot.”

    “Then you been made, man.” Slice started backing up and drew his pistol. “We ain’t—“

    All the Castle TADU tensed up, murder in their eyes.

    Jim-Bean drew his pistol. “We’ll take care of it.” He nodded towards Ridge. “Don’t worry about it.”

    “Yeah, you do that,” said Slice. “If this is an ambush—“

    “It’s not an ambush!” said Ridge. “We’ve come too far to screw this up. My boys will clean it up.”

    He fixed Hammer with a stare. “You better come back dripping blood.”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Last Castle: Part 4b – Blood Brothers

    Hammer padded up to the van with the reflexes of a trained professional. He tore open the door and yanked Guppy out onto the street with a yelp.

    “Hammer?” asked Guppy in surprise.

    “Great job,” said Hammer, pulling out a knife from his boot. “You guys just parked in plain sight?”

    “What? We didn’t think the van would be obvious—what are you doing with that knife?”

    “Someone has to play dead,” said Hammer. “And I need it to look real.”

    Jim-Bean appeared around the corner of the van with Archive, who looked groggy.

    “Uh, if it’s all the same to you I have taken quite a lot of abuse lately,” said Guppy, his voice rising. “So I’d like to nominate someone else besides me…”

    Archive snorted. “I’ll do it.”

    “Put out your hand,” said Hammer.

    Archive put out his hand. Hammer sliced the knife across his palm. Archive winced.

    Blood dripped down onto the blade. Hammer splattered the blood onto himself and Jim-Bean.

    “Now…you guys are going to lay low in the van. Pretend you’re dead.”

    “And if someone comes to investigate?” asked Archive.

    “Kill them,” said Hammer. “They shouldn’t expect much trouble since you’re supposed to be dead.”

    Jim-Bean reached into Guppy’s pocket and grabbed his cistron. “I need to borrow this. Left mine in my other pants.”

    Hammer and Jim-Bean stood up and drew their pistols. “Cover your ears,” said Hammer.

    Archive and Guppy, still crouching on the ground, plugged their ears with their fingers.

    The retort of two pistols shots reverberated throughout the warehouse district. They were in a part of town where such sounds were common. What was important was that Ridge and Slice heard it.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Last Castle: Part 4c – Blood Brothers

    Hammer came back in with Jim-Bean in tow.

    Bentfeld, the toady, had his pistol out, but it wasn’t pointed at Hammer. Yet. “Well?”

    “We took care of it,” said Hammer.

    Ridge smiled. “See? Taken care of.”

    Bentfeld wasn’t going to let it go. “Oh yeah? I wanna see the bodies.”

    “It’s taken CARE OF,” snarled Hammer. “Are you calling me a liar?”

    Bentfeld’s pistol was waved in his direction. “Not a liar. But awfully damn suspicious. Ridge, you gotta be suspicious, right?”

    “Not now,” said Ridge, the smile frozen on his face.

    “I dunno man. I dunno.” Barry started pacing. “Don’t you find it strange that these two show up from New York all of a sudden? I think they’re Feds.”

    Slice raised his hands. “I don’t need this drama. I’m out.”

    Ridge chuckled. “Calm down Barry before you blow this for us.”

    “Fine!” Hammer said with an exaggerated sigh. “Those WERE Feds. We took care of ‘em. We heard about what you were doing out here because we wanted in on the action, and it looks like we picked up a tail in the process. But now they’re dead. So if you wanna make a lot of money, you’ve got about fifteen minutes before someone else comes snooping around. Or if you wanna just waste everybody’s time, please, be my guest, LEAVE.”

    Ridge looked back and forth between Slice and Hammer, sweat on his brow.

    Slice broke out in a laugh. “Damn man, you are STONE COLD! I like it! Let’s do this thang!”

    Ridge forced a chuckle and slapped Slice on the back. “Let me show you how this works…”

    He explained the t-shirt process. Barry stalked over to Hammer.

    “You may have fooled Ridge but ain’t foolin’ me. I know you’re full of it.”

    “Take a step closer and you won’t take another one,” said Hammer. His pistol was still out in his hand.

    It was enough to distract Barry from what Jim-Bean was doing. He took a recording of Ridge as he explained the operation. Slice nodded to his men, who began unloading bags of money. T-shirts were loaded on the waiting trucks.

    Jim-Bean nodded to Hammer, but Barry was watching. He caught the gesture.

    “I knew it!”

    He drew his pistol and fired just as the front of the warehouse exploded.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Last Castle: Conclusion

    The battering ram of an APC anti-riot vehicle blasted through the doors. Floodlights flared overhead. Men in full SWAT gear shouted for people to get down on the floor with their hands up.

    Jim-Bean did as he was told. Now was not the time for heroics.

    Hammer fell to one knee, arms up. It wasn’t an act; Barry had shot him in the leg.

    Guppy and Archive walked in.

    “I f*&(#in’ told you man!” shouted Barry to Ridge as they were hustled off into a prisoner transport vehicle.

    Guppy caught sight of Hammer on a stretcher.

    “Did you get it?” he shouted as he was carted into an ambulance.

    Archive nodded. “Yep, all the footage. We’ll process it. Should have you out in a few hours.”

    “Great,” said Jim-Bean. “Just a few hours in prison with them.” He swallowed hard as the other prisoners glared at him. With a last mournful look behind him, the prisoner transport vehicle’s doors slammed shut, sealing him in with the drug-dealers and corrupt police.

    “I knew we got the boring part of the mission,” Guppy muttered to Archive. “We missed all the action!”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Chapter 24: The Fortress - Introduction

    This scenario, “The Fortress,” is a Spycraft mission from Combat Missions by Yours Truly. You can read more about Delta Green at Delta Green. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

    Our cast of characters includes:

    • Game Master: Michael Tresca
    • Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero/Telepath) played by Jeremy Ortiz
    • Sebastian “Caprice” Creed (Fast/Smart Hero/Techie) played by Bill Countiss
    • Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster
    It continually amazes me how these little Combat Mission scenarios, which are at most a few pages long and contain vague outlines of a plot, manages to elicit the best role-playing moments in our game. Our gaming group is better at social, free-form planning than straightforward, precision-style hack-and-slashing – they never think to check for traps and can’t be bothered with details.

    On the other hand, when it comes to cover stories, they can come up with some insane ideas. But in this case the real surprise was Bill, who role-played his white drug dealer/turned rapper Snow Dog with such convincing vigor that we took turns laughing at him and struggling to keep up.

    This scenario also turned into a chess game. I wanted to keep pressure on the PCs to ensure that they didn’t just waltz right into the drug dealer’s den (a tcho-tcho drug dealer, I might add) and bamboozle him into giving up his information. So Tang “Machete” Chasa plays mind game after mind game, convinced that the agents aren’t the real thing but frustrated that he can’t prove it. In the end, it took the pending death of an innocent NPC to break the tension. And then I just let the events go downhill from there.

    Once again, the events that took place played out a lot like Burn Notice.

    Defining Moment: You haven’t heard about Snow Dog’s new album? It didn’t get a wide release man, otherwise it would have been big: The Blizzard.

    Relevant Media
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    The Fortress: Prologue

    If you put it in a spoon man I would boot it
    Some king whose mental house was just a shack
    Where do you draw the line when all your friends are dyin
    You got to get that monkey off your back

    --Monkey on My Back by Aerosmith
    MIAMI, FL—“Let me get this straight,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “You CIFA boys want to horn in my operation for what reason again?”

    “Terrorists,” Jim-Bean said with a slow smile. “Tang Chasa is on our wanted list for drug trafficking and money laundering for a terrorist organization known as Al-Hazzan.” They were sitting in Trouville’s office, who was none too pleased to see them. “The profits made from drug trafficking here in the U.S. are being used elsewhere—“

    “In Iraq,” chimed in Hammer.

    “Iraq?” asked Trouville skeptically. “We’ve seen some trafficking in Vietnam, with Tang being half-Vietnamese, but—“

    “That’s right,” corrected Jim-Bean. “The drugs funnel through Vietnam and then the money is laundered in Iraq.”

    Trouville sighed. “All right. Fine. Our agency will do everything we can to help. But you have to do something for me.”

    “Name it,” said Jim-Bean.

    “I want full military support. We’re going to move on Chasa, but when we move I’m going to need serious backup. They don’t call the hotel he’s holed up in ‘La Fortaleza’ for nothing. It really is a fortress.”

    Jim-Bean nodded and tapped a few keys on his cistron. “You’ll have it.”

    “Good,” said Trouville. He handed out dossiers to the three agents, looking askance at Caprice’s rapper/drug-dealer getup. “These are the profiles of the people you’re dealing with.” He tapped the picture of Chasa. “You already know the leader, known as Machete on the street. He’s fond of hacking people up with his gold-plated knife.”

    “Charming,” said Jim-Bean.

    “Machete was a small time drug dealer until Blink arrived on the streets. I trust you’re acquainted with it?”

    Hammer nodded. “All too familiar.”

    “Then you know how addictive it can be. Machete got in first, took over fast, and then set up his little fortress. It’s run with all the precision of a business. The instant addiction of “Blink” and the well-organized guards that Tang employs keep things running smoothly. Tang has already eliminated several competitors and is poised to expand his operations beyond Miami.”

    Tourville pointed at the picture of a huge black man, his jowls of fat giving him a sad, hangdog expression. “This is Sluggy Two-Dogs, Tang’s bodyguard. He goes with him everywhere. Don’t be fooled by the fat; Sluggy moves fast when he needs to. He crushed a man’s head with his bare hands.”

    He flipped to another picture of a wild-eyed, beautiful African-American woman with her hair in a ponytail. “This is Janky Crank, Tang’s chief of security. Janky is fond of shooting people in the forehead, gangland style. She’s highly erratic and prone to violence. She’s also a crack shot.”

    Tourville turned to the third picture. “And this is the brains behind Tang’s operation, Keys. We think Keys was a former employee of Infinicredit and was somehow involved in that credit card scandal a few years ago. Keys programmed La Fortaleza’s security system and is responsible for the encryption of their firewalls. He personally trained a host of programmers who work for Tang.”

    “We’re after information,” said Jim-Bean. “We need to determine who is processing Blink. His drugs are too pure to be homemade.”

    “We’ll help however we can,” said Trouville. “What do you need?”

    Caprice, dressed in a long jersey, low-hanging shorts, a baseball cap, and gold dripping from everywhere, said with a gold-grilled smile, “Bitches, yo. A fly gang like ours is gonna need bitches.”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Fortress: Part 1 – Get Cranky

    The music of the Soho Lounge vibrated around their private booth. Hammer, Jim-Bean, and Caprice were all there. Caprice was dressed as his Snow Dog persona, complete with "bitches" -- two vice agents named Mary and Sarah. They made pleasant conversation while they sipped their drinks. The DJ, Spiderpussy, played a pounding eighties mix.

    "I still can't believe you requisitioned cash...and got it." Hammer watched Jim-Bean drop a hundred dollar bill on a waitress' tray to cover the tab.

    Hammer was dressed in a Miami Vice-style jacket and pants. Jim-Bean looked more corporate.

    “I’m team leader on this mission,” said Jim-Bean. “We can’t just walk into Tang’s place like some garbage off the street. If we want to roll with the big boys we have to act like them. And that’s why we’re the Kings.”

    Caprice’s eyes scanning the entrance to the club. “The THREE Kings, yo.” His cistron beeped. He looked down. It was an instant text message. "Keys just did a background check on us.”

    “If the Three Kings are supposed to be so successful, we've got to look the part in person AND on paper,” continued Jim-Bean. “Thus the cold cash. Besides, we actually have a bit of history now…we WERE tied up in another drug raid…”

    Hammer patted the wound where he had been shot. “Don’t remind me.” He looked askance at the women. “I still think we should have hired prostitutes,” he said in a low voice to Caprice. “Vice cops are a liability we can’t afford to--”

    Caprice leaned back, put his arms around the two cops, and smiled. "They're here," he said, slipping into his persona as Snow Dog.

    A tall black woman with wild, staring blood-shot eyes entered the room. She wore a white overcoat. A posse of four smaller men followed behind her, all of them wearing shades.

    "It’s Janky Crank," said Hammer.

    After chatting with the bartender, Janky strode over to them.

    "You said you wanted to talk to Machete?"

    Hammer stood up. "That's right. You don't look like him."

    "If it's worth his time, you'll meet 'im," said Janky. "But first you meet with me."

    Caprice dismissed the two scantily clad women snuggling up to him with a nod of his head. They scattered, and Janky's men took a few steps back to give them some privacy.

    "And you are?"

    "Janky. Janky Crank. They call me that 'cause you don't wanna see me cranky." Janky grabbed Caprice's glass and slurped it, finishing off its contents. She slapped it down on the table. "So what's this deal you're talking about?"

    Jim-Bean cleared his throat. "Ah yes, Miss Cranky...you see, we were recently working with an organization on the West Coast that was trafficking in Blink--"

    "I know it," said Janky. Judging from her bloodshot eyes, she used it too.

    "And that operation was shut down. The Three Kings are looking for new opportunities--"

    "Three Kings?" Janky eyeballed Jim-Bean. "Never heard of you."

    "That'd be us," said Hammer gruffly. "My territory is Southern Cali. Bean's is Northern Cali. Snow Dog's is Hollywood."

    "Snow Dog?" Janky barked out a laugh. "Are you serious?"

    Caprice got to his feet, gesturing wildly. "Machete's just jerking us around. I'm not gonna take this s#!t from this bitch--"

    Janky's revolver was out in a flash, aimed at Caprice's forehead. "See what you made me do? Now I'm gettin' CRANK-AH!"

    Caprice slapped the pistol aside, which had the net effect of pointing Janky's pistol at Hammer's head instead. "See what I mean? Small time, yo. Let's go."

    Hammer tapped the barrel of his Glock under the table on Janky's knee. It was aimed at her abdomen. He cleared his throat.

    Janky's guards tensed up. Then she slowly put the gun back in its holster beneath her overcoat.

    "$#!t, I was just playin'. All right, all right." She smiled. "So what's the terms, Kings?"

    "Thirty percent," said Jim-Bean. "And the opportunity to expand Machete's empire from coast to coast."

    Janky nodded. "All right. We'll see what Machete says."

    Hammer handed her a cell phone. "Call us on this. Any time. We'll pick up."

    Janky smiled. "You're a handsome boy, King," she said with a tone laden with innuendo. "I'll see you around."

    She strode out of the place with the guards in tow.

    "That went well," said Hammer.

    "Sure did," said Jim-Bean with a grin. "Let us know when your girlfriend calls you."

    Hammer rolled his eyes.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Fortress: Part 2 – La Fortaleza

    Entry into La Fortaleza was via two large gates. Inside, there were four lookouts, one at each corner of the building. In the main courtyard, customers walked around in a daze, warmed their hands on flaming garbage cans, and were patted down for weapons by guards. It was as much an insane asylum as it was a careful screening tactic to weed out undercover cops.

    Archive joined them as Father Archive, part of the entourage. His presence in a bright white suit seemed to make him nearly invisible to the guards, who regarded “spiritual advisors” the same way they viewed prostitutes – relatively harmless but necessary. The vice agents, also part of the entourage, were allowed as far as the gate. Caprice dismissed them to the car, a stretch limousine/SUV.

    Hammer carefully concealed one of his Glocks. Sluggy Two-Dogs didn’t find the gun with his sloppy pat down. The others relinquished their weapons. Hammer wondered where Janky was.

    So far, their plan had worked. Their carefully constructed backgrounds had been checked, along with their bank accounts. Now it was time to meet the man himself.

    “Welcome!” said a dark-skinned Asian man. He was thin and wiry with an odd bowl haircut. Dressed in a purple suit that looked a size too big, he welcomed them with a wide grin that displayed his gold grill. A gold-hilted blade hung in a sheath from his waist. Machete.

    “Welcome to tha FORTRESS!” He said dramatically. His voice was high pitched and squeaky, always on the border of hysteria. “Janky tells me you gentlemen are businessmen like me. You check out.”

    Machete offered them drinks, drugs, and women. The agents took the drinks. “Let me take you on the tour of our little operation.”

    Beyond the entryway, things turned very professional. “My employees and customers are issued membership cards that they flash to enter the building.” Machete snapped a card out of his suit pocket and slid it through the reader. The light over the door went from red to green.

    They climbed to the second floor. “Then you buzz in with a code. The code determines what and how much product you receive.” Machete punched a code and a few seconds later a pneumatic tube thumped in front of him. Machete grabbed the tube and, holding it triumphantly overhead, opened it. A plastic bag containing an eyedropper bottle fell into his open palm. Blink.

    “And if you want to…” Jim-Bean searched for the word. “…use your product?”

    “That’s Blissland, baby, “said Machete with a sly smile. “Down there.” He gestured down the hallway. “I didn’t fix you for a user.”

    “We need to know what we’re investing in,” said Hammer.

    “And I need to know what I’M investing in,” said Machete. “You boys seem all right. But I need details. I need numbers.”

    They passed a room where people were mixing Blink. There was another ingredient—something else was being added. Hammer noted that there manufacturing room where it was being mixed was filled with dust-covered workers who were naked except for a towel. Machete didn’t trust his own people.

    “Our operation is solid,” said Jim-Bean. “Our distribution network and contacts spans all of California. “

    “Network, huh? Why ain’t I heard of you?”

    “Because we got raided,” said Hammer with a frown. “We had the cops under control and then there was a sting by the Feds…”

    Machete muttered a curse about Feds.

    “Lots of gang leaders went down,” continued Hammer. “We’re the next wave.”

    “No you ain’t,” said Machete. “This is the next wave, right here.” He encompassed the drug manufacturing plant with a sweep of one arm. “But you know, this ain’t a partnership at thirty percent.”

    Jim-Bean frowned. “What do you mean?”

    “I mean partners is equals. And that’s fifty percent.”

    They made their way over to a lounge filled with garish velour couches. Machete flopped down.

    Jim-Bean shrugged. “We don’t know you. Your operation seems sound, but we need to know more about it. Like who supplies your drugs.”

    Machete barked out a laugh, a cackle that would have offended a hyena. “And put me out of business? I ain’t stupid, yo.”

    “Neither are we,” said Caprice tersely. “But trust has gotta start somewhere, G. And if it’s gonna start, it has to start here.”

    Machete pondered that. “I hear ya.” He leaned forward and yanked the gold grill off his front teeth, revealing a mouthful of carefully filed and sharpened incisors. It was like staring into the maw of a shark. “Let’s just say we keep it in the family, dig?”

    Hammer didn’t know what he meant. Before he could ask, gunfire went off in the courtyard. A second later a shrieking alarm went off.

    Machete swore a vile oath. He hopped to his feet. “You bring cops here?”

    “What?” snarled Hammer.

    “This seems like the sort of problem that would really destroy our confidence in your operation,” said Jim-Bean archly. They started backing up as Machete advanced.

    Dealers, Fortaleza staff, and criminals of all stripes milled about in confusion, some running, others staring blankly at the flashing red lights. In the fracas, Jim-Bean typed a query to Trouville. The raid wasn’t supposed to happen for another day. What the hell was going on?

    “We gotta get out of here,” said Machete. “Sluggy, show the men out.”

    Sluggy began pushing them out. Machete backed up, hand on the hilt of his blade, eyeing the main hallway.

    There was a shudder, like the sound of a battering ram. More gunfire echoed outside.

    A second later Jim-Bean’s cistron beeped. It was Trouville. He had typed just two words, all in caps:

    “WHAT RAID?!!!”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Fortress: Part 3 – Just Kidding

    Jim-Bean stopped short.

    “What’s up?” asked Hammer.

    Jim-Bean looked over his shoulder. “I think we should stay and fight. We killed those two Feds in Cali and we can kill some more here.”

    Hammer caught Jim-Bean’s expression. He turned. “Right. Let’s do it.”

    Caprice looked back and forth between them. “$#!*. Somebody gimme a gat!”

    Archive just started praying.

    There was a moment of stunned surprise and then Machete broke out into more cackling laughter. He held up a remote that tweeted, and the alarm went off. The gunfire and rumbling stopped.

    “I was messin’ with ya is all. Gotta be sure.” He slapped Caprice on the back. “I like your style! You ARE stone cold killers!”

    Caprice frowned. “We don’t have time for this Mickey Mouse bull$#!*. Let’s go.”

    Machete put his hands up. “Nah, nah, nah, come on now. Let’s sit down and talk like the businessmen we are.” He steered Caprice by his shoulder to the lounge.

    People were still scurrying up and down the hallways.

    “Sluggy, tell those damn fools it was a drill,” Machete said in irritation. Sluggy left the room.

    They sat back down. “Now I’m gonna be straight you,” said Machete. “My boy Keys, he checked around. And he knows everything about you. But you kill Feds and folks gonna be snoopin around. So I did some checkin’ on everybody.” He leaned forward. “EVERYBODY.”

    Sluggy dragged a woman into the room by her hair. “One of your bitches is a cop, yo.”

    It was Sarah, the vice cop.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Fortress: Part 4 – What Shall We Do About Sarah?

    "Stall," hissed Jim-Bean to Caprice out of the corner of his mouth.

    Caprice practically blazed fire from his eyes at Sarah. "You're a f(*#$ing COP? You BITCH!" He slapped her across the face and she went down, hard.

    To her credit, Sarah kept her eyes averted and her hair down over her face -- Caprice had barely tapped her, but she sold it.

    Caprice grabbed her by the hair. "You know what, TC? I'm gonna throw this bitch off the roof."

    Machete cackled. "You hardcore, baby. I like your style. Let's do it!"

    They started sauntering up towards the stairwell.

    "It's a new world order," said Machete, strutting his way down the hallway. "Mister DEA thinks he can infiltrate my operation? $#!t, he's been watching us for months, couldn't get anybody on the inside. Well we showed him, huh Sluggy?"

    Sluggy responded with a deep, grumbling laugh.

    "Showed him how, exactly?" asked Jim-Bean.

    Hammer had a horrible thought. "Where's Janky?"

    Machete grinned. "Doin' my business. Mister DEA's gonna learn not to mess with the MacheTAH!" He kicked open the door and then, as if he were a proper gentlemen, held it open with a bow for Caprice.

    Jim-Bean's cistron vibrated. He snuck a peak.

    "RAID ON," said Tourville's message. Jim-Bean knew what that meant. Machete wasn't bluffing and neither was Tourville.

    Caprice dragged Sarah up the steps onto the roof. The muggy heat of Miami enveloped them.

    "Find me a place where she ain't gonna catch on anything," said Caprice. "I want this to HURT."

    He shot Jim-Bean a glance. They were running out of time.

    Fortunately, Machete and Sluggy's attention was focused on Caprice. He tapped back a response.

    "Shoot me in the shoulder." He knew Tourville's men had taken position somewhere out there, and it most assuredly included snipers. "In one minute."

    "I'll deal with this hussy," said Jim-Bean. He twisted the handle on his walking stick and slowly drew the blade. "Falling is too good for her."

    Caprice snickered, but Jim-Bean knew he was nervous. "Be my guest."

    Jim-Bean grabbed Sarah by the hair. Her lip was starting to swell up from being roughed up, even though Caprice was pulling his punches. She was scared but still in control.

    "You're not seriously going to--" she began to whisper.

    Jim-Bean didn't give her a chance to prepare. With a flash, he sliced her forehead with the edge of the blade. It was a shallow wound, but in the sticky Miami heat combined with her sweat, it looked much worse than it was. An old American wrestling trick.

    Sarah shrieked. Jim-Bean knew it was real. "And now let's see if you can fly!" He grabbed her by the back of the neck and started marching her towards the edge of the roof.

    Jim-Bean was desperately trying to come up with another means of stalling when a bolt of lightning tore through his shoulder.

    The sniper was good. It tore through muscle without hitting bone and went out the other side. That didn't stop his body from going into shock. The blast spun him around and suddenly he couldn't feel anything. He caught a glimpse of the moon, the top of the roof, the moon again, and then the roof rushed at him.

    Jim-Bean was treated to the image of the huge Sluggy trying to flatten himself on the roof, which made him look a bit like a walrus flapping around on an ice floe. The other agents followed dove for cover.

    Gunfire echoed through Miami. The roar of a heavy vehicle was followed by the shudder of a battering ram tearing through the front gate. Jim-Bean could feel the impact through his cheek.

    "$#!T!" shouted Machete. "It's a raid for real!"

    Everyone scrambled for the stairs, including the other agents. Left alone with only the sounds of gunfire and screams to accompany her, Sarah carefully clambered down the fire escape.

    A pool of blood spread out from Jim-Bean’s body.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

    Want more? Subscribe to my column; follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar. Become an Examiner and get paid to write today!

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