Crash and Burn - Chapter 15: Hana 'ia

Steve braked the Camaro in an alley in Chinatown, stepped out, and took three bullet-proof vests out of the trunk. He gave one to Danny, put one on himself, and offered the third to Sabrina while indicating she could put her helmet into the trunk.

He watched from the corner of his eye as she secured her vest and adjusted her holster and gun.

“Okay,” he said, checked his phone screen. “The GPS locator says this is the spot.”

“The drycleaners?” Sabrina asked.

He nodded and motioned for their HPD backup to join them. “You...” He motioned to the three officers. “...go in front, we’ll take the back. Tell the rest to take a wider perimeter and stay back unless I call for them.”

“Yes, sir.”

When the HPD officers moved to the front door, Steve took Danny and Sabrina around back.

“This is it,” he whispered at the door. “Remember, these are trained cops. They will play dirty, let’s not make mistakes.”

The two nodded.

“You have your backup?”

Two more nods.

“Sabrina, your vest tight?”

“Yes.”

“You two ready?”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Good.” He pressed a finger to his ear. “We’re a go. On my mark. Three, two, one.”

One kick and the door gave. He lead with his gun, feeling his partner right behind him. As he checked room after room, nodding the ‘all clear’ to Danny and Sabrina, the world slowly receded, until nothing but the next room existed. He knew whatever happened, Danny had his back and he trusted his partner to keep Sabrina safe as well. Though she’d kick his ass if she knew what he was thinking.

“All clear,” sounded in his earpiece.

They met the three officers in a room on the other side of the long shop. Only one door led into the room, there was no other exit.

“There’s nothing here,” one of the officer said.

Steve checked his phone again as Sabrina moved to the wall.

“We’re on top of it,” he said, watching the dot blink on the screen.

“Yeah?” the HPD officer asked. “I don’t see anything.”

“Because we’re on top of it,” Reena hissed, running her fingers on the paneled wall. “There’s something else behind this wall.”

Steve was beside her in an instant. “Can you find the switch?”

“There should be a depression in the paneling.”

He flattened his palm on the wall and felt it, pressed, and the paneling swung back, revealing a steel staircase, leading downward. He grinned at Sabrina, drew his flashlight, and led the way.

The staircase arched slightly inward, turning at a 180 degree angle, back under the drycleaners, the entrance in the basement blocked by a steel door. It stood ajar.

With one last warning glance, Steve pushed the door fully open. It gave way without a sound. One sole crate stood open in the middle of the spacious room, filled to the brim with weapons seized in the recent HPD raid.

“Where’s the rest?” Danny whispered. There were supposed to be five more crates of weapons and ammo.

Steve signaled for him to be silent, listening intently. A sound was coming from the back. TV news.

Steve motioned for the three officers to stay and guard the door and for Danny and Sabrina to follow him.

The underground level was all open space, a combination of storage area, gaming room and meeting area with a large poker table serving as conference table. It looked like a dirty-cop lair out of some B-movie, complete with tacky, unmatching furniture. There were still cards, chips, glasses, and beer bottles on the poker table. The lighting was sparse, creating pockets of shadows along the walls. But for the faint sound of the TV from the back, the basement appeared deserted.

Steve, Danny and Sabrina moved toward the back in a tight, uniform formation, Steve checking the front, Danny and Sabrina guarding the sides, as if they’ve done it a million times before.

They arrived at a smaller door at the end of the basement. Still no movement, only the sound of TV.

“I don’t like this,” Danny whispered as he and Sabrina flanked Steve in front of the closed door. “It reeks of a setup.”

Steve quelled his own misgivings, counted to three with his fingers, and kicked in the door.

The small room actually had a rather cozy feel. If you were a guy. A large leather couch stood in the center of it, smaller leather armchairs strewn around the room. Every single piece of furniture was turned toward the large plasma TV on the wall. The TV that was the only source of illumination.

One man sat on the couch, watching the news, smoke rising from his lit cigarette, curling toward the ceiling.

“What took you so long?” Albert Reeves asked without turning. “I almost fell asleep waiting for you to show up.”

Danny and Steve circled the couch.

“Albert Reeves, you’re under arrest for the murders of Miranda Roth and Ema Liwai. You have the right to remain silent...”

As Danny red him the Miranda, Reeves started laughing.

“Arrest? Me?” He shook Danny’s hands off, stood and looked down the barrel of Steve’s gun. “You think you can arrest me?”

Steve scowled, his hands completely steady. “You really want to add resistance to arrest to the list, Revees?”

Reeves grinned evilly. “Do you want to add another body to our count, pretty boy?”

Sabrina’s quick intake of air from the doorway had Steve pivoting, only to stare in horror at the huge knife pressed against her throat.

“Drop the gun, gorgeous,” Weiss hissed against her ear, then looked at Steve and Danny. “You too, assholes, if you don’t want me to slice her neck.”

Reena let her fingers go limp letting the gun clatter to the floor and watched as Steve and Danny lifted their guns, barrels pointed at the ceiling.

“Okay, okay,” Steve soothed, feeling sweat pop up on his forehead. Six years in the SEALs, four years in Afghanistan with IEDs everywhere, mortar falling from the sky like confetti on New Year’s Eve, never knowing whether he’d actually wake up in the morning, and he’d barely broken a sweat. Now, with that knife pressed to that soft throat, for the first time he experienced true, blood-chilling fear.

He knew she could take care of herself, she was trained to take care of herself, but knowing that didn’t lessen the terror, his heart slamming against the wall of his chest. If the bastard hurt her, if Steve saw just one drop of blood well from that milky white skin on her neck, Weiss was a dead man.

“Just calm down, man,” he said, trying to come up with a plan, any plan that didn’t involve Sabrina getting hurt.

Weiss sneered. “That’s what you get for taking a chick to do a man’s job. Get their guns, Reeves, and call it in.”

Danny made eye contact with his partner, but Steve, a look of fear, that would’ve been comical in other circumstances, on his face, shook his head. They wouldn’t make any moves, not until that knife was pressed to Sabrina’s neck.

Reeves took both their guns, patted them down, and found their backups as well. “Easy as pie,” he snarled.

“Now let her go,” Steve demanded.

“Ah-ah, not so fast,” Weiss spat. “Not until our backup arrives. Then I’ll let her go. Maybe.” He sniffed her hair. “Or maybe I’ll play with her a bit.”

Danny felt goose bumps rise on his skin, but Steve didn’t even flinch, keeping his eyes trained on the knife. And he sure had to give Sabrina credit. She just stood there, unmoving in Weiss’s grip, her expression blank, her eyes empty. A knife was pressed to her throat and she barely blinked. These two certainly were cool customers.

“Del, come in,” Reeves spoke into his two-way. He received only static in reply. “Del, this is Reeves, come in.”

Only more static.

“Is the radio broken?” Weiss asked, a tremor in his voice.

“I checked it an hour ago,” Revee answered, a deep crease between his eyebrows.

They were both thinking the same thing, only too afraid to actually say it. Frank Delano has probably written them off, leaving them to take the blame.

Steve finally lifted his eyes off the knife at Sabrina’s throat and met her gaze. She blinked once, slowly and a corner of his mouth curved almost imperceptibly.

“They’re not coming, are they?” he taunted. “Your buddies left you here, while they hightailed it to God knows where. No honor among thieves this day.”

“Shut up!” Weiss shrieked. “Just shut up!”

He emphasized the last word by pointing the knife toward Steve...And Reena exploded into action.

She thrust her elbow back into his solar plexus, grabbed his right wrist, and twisted. Something snapped and Weiss cried out in pain, dropping the knife. She snapped her head back, the back of her head connecting with his nose. Cartilage cracked, blood spurted, and Weiss croaked like a dying frog.

Reena dropped and delivered the coup the grace. A crouched roundhouse kick to the shins, while she grabbed her fallen gun. One heartbeat later, she stood over his pitifully writhing figure, pointing her gun down at him.

“What was it about the chick doing a man’s work?”

At the same time Sabrina took down Weiss, Steve took care of Revees. The guy probably didn’t even know what hit him. Steve snapped the cuffs on Reeve’s wrists and looked at Danny. His partner was gaping like a fish toward where Reena was hauling Weiss to his feet.

“Everything okay, Danno?”

Danny looked at his partner, back at Sabrina, and at his partner again. He could barely believe what he’s seen. One moment she’d had a knife at her throat, the next she had gone all ninja, broken both the guy’s wrist and nose, and wasn’t even breathing heavily. Not that he’d ever confess or anything, but he secretly admired Steve’s training and ability to take down an opponent without much effort. But, call him a chauvinist, he never envisioned a woman, outside of movies, doing the same, as quickly and effortlessly as his partner.

Reena looked at them. “I’ll wait for you outside.” She pushed Weiss out of the room, and responded to his whining with a snapped, “Shut up, or I’ll break the other one, too.”

Danny cleared his throat, looked at Steve. “She’s you. With breasts.”

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