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Strong Hold
Little Prince Station
Just a Line
Coming Up:
One by One
Episode 1:
Boss went back to the dinning room just in time to see Rover giving Slash a cd. As though it was some kind of signal, Run lowered the oven’s fire and sat at the couch right in front of the tv; Trash put her gun aside and she also faced the still dark screen; Slash inserted the cd into the laptop and turned around on his chair as the tv screen showed an air view from a private neighborhood. Boss stood behind Run’s couch. 

— The Hill —Rover said, standing halfway between Slash and the tv—. Strafford García lives at the house 3. 
Slash used the zoom to center the picture on a rich three-floor house, surrounded by a five acres lot. There was a pool at the back garden, and the wired fence could be seen among the trees bordering the lot. 
— Doesn’t trust the neighborhood’s security —Slash quoted. 
Run nodded and turned to Rover. 
— Guards? 
— Four, six hour’s shifts. The Hill’s lot has another ten, set in cabins around the perimeter.
— Isolated —Trash muttered, thinking aloud. 

The house’s picture was replaced by separated diagrams of each floor. 
— García’s office is at the first floor —Rover pointed out the room at the rear left corner of the house—. The safe is there, with the disks we need. 

— Hum —Slash lighted a cigarette—. And between those disks and us, there are two closed tv circuits, two infrared systems, maybe three, one armed guard outside and another four inside... Pretty bait if that data isn’t there... And it’d been a two fucking wasted months’ work after him. 
Boss noticed Trash’s harsh glare, unspoken words violently floating in the air. But Slash was turning his back at her now, searching for something in his laptop. Run’s deep and calm voice washed away the strain. 
— Family? 
— Wife, three kids from five to twelve, four full time domestics. 
— Doesn’t miss a hit —Slash grunted. 
Rover waited for them to turn to him. 
— You’ll find the rest on the disk. Don't need to tell you we're in kindda hurry, for we can't prove they're using the Cartel's money without that data. So, when? 
Run gave the screen one last glance. — Two days. 
Rover just nodded, and they knew the meeting was over. Slash stood up with a sharp movement. 
— I walk you out. Gonna need some beer since it’s gonna be a long night. 
— And some fucking woo with the shop girl. 
Slash didn’t bother dignifying Trash’s biting words and headed for the door with Rover. Run sniffed towards the kitchen. — Ten minutes for dinner. 
The other man snarled something and went out. Then Run turned to Trash, who was lighting a cigarette. 
— You didn’t have to say that —his voice was cold, not harsh. 
Trash glared up at him. — Wasted time! —she bursted—. Kao is dying because of that mother fucker! And this fucking sucker talks about wasted time! 
Boss heard her surprised. So that was the "trouble" that made Rover call him... Run held up her look without a blink, the girl’s rage was a wave crashing onto a stone cliff. He stood up and went back to the kitchen. 
— You better cool down —he said later. 
Trash looked away snorting. 
— Boss, Rover said you’re good at explosives, does it mean chemicals too? 
Run put some plates on the counter. Trash wasn’t that kind of people you willingly turn your back to, but Boss chose to join Run by the counter. 
— Yeap. 
— That safe. We gonna need something fast and silent to open it. 
The hallway’s door slamed shut behind Boss, who tried to look as indifferent as Run. He had more than four questions in mind, but it was cristal clear it wasn't the best moment to ask them. 
— I can fix something. Acid, I think it’d be the best, but if I could know anything about the safe, it would help. 
— Thickness and material? 
— Enough for me. 
Withou even thinking, Boss took the plates and glases and placed them on the rounded table. When he faced Run again, saw a surprised glimpse in his green eyes, but he handed Boss also knives and forks with a fleeting grin. 
— We have turns to clean and cook —he said later—. Save each one’s clothes and room. 
Slash came back then, stalking across the room to leave the bottles in the freezer. Boss was about to remove the laptop from the table, Slash’s hands reached it first. Boss stepped back gently, letting him take care of it. Run left the smoky dish on the table and opened the hallway’s door. A heavy music’s avalanch filled the room. 
— Dinner’s ready —he said without raising his tone, closed back the door and sat at the table by Slash, who was already eating. 
Boss hesitated at the two empty chairs and looked up, finding Run’s grin as he pointed the other chair by Slash. They ate in silence for several minutes before Trash entered the room and sat between Boss and Run without looking at them. She was only wearing a loose t-shirt that hardly covered her underwear, bare feet; her wet mops dripped water onto her plate. 
— We’re going to The Hill —Run said then—. Tomorrow afternoon. 
— Tomorrow afternoon I’m going to the clinic —Trash said, her mouth full of food. 
Slash glanced over at her and turned again to his own plate without a word. Run nodded, leaving her out of the planning. 
— Don’t need to get too close, but we better go on broad daylight. Slash, Boss is gonna need some data
about the safe, did you finish that device? 
— I’m working on it, we could test it tomorrow. 
— Tomorrow it must be working. 
Slash just shruged. — Then I can’t deal with the rest of the stuff. 
Run turned to Trash. The girl looked at him as she chewed, gave a fleeting glance to Boss, nodded. 
* * *
He opened up his eyes in a rush. The slanting morning light filled the room. Some Mozart’s piece was sounding very loud somewhere near, seeming to sneak up his body to shake every of his nerves. Boss sat on his bed. From the wall in front of him, his own relfection in the mirror was staring at him with wide open eyes, the hair a complete mess, gasping more than breathing. The clock on the night table told him it was half past seven. He looked around as his mind took hold of the situation. Through the music, behind the wall, he heard noises at the next bedroom, steps at the hallway, a door opening an closing again, a voice saying good morning... Run... He fell back on the matress with a deep sigh. 
* * *
Trash got out of the van at the clinic’s corner. Heard the horn behind her, raised a hand without turning back, walking fast towards the glassed lobby. The van drove away and got lost in the avenue’s chaotic traffic. Reaching the West Access should take them half an hour at least, and anohter twenty minutes to get to The Hill. 

The clinic’s reception lobby was kind of luxurious, it recalled more of a wealthy company rather than a health institution. She stopped at the security agent by the vip elevator, gave him her name, waited for him to check it and let her in. Fifteenth floor’s hallway was empty, bright, clean. No trace of that antiseptic stinky air you should find at the lower floors. The old man should be wasting a fortune for each day Kao spent in there, single room, vip section, restricted visitors list . But Trash thought it just fair, since it'd been working for him what sent Kao there. 
She opened the door noiselessly, as though she could wake him up. But she knew damn well it wouldn’t happen. Kao’s coma was irreversible, and all that stuff around him was only delaying his true death. She stepped closer to the bed and stared for a long while at the pale thin face of who had been her partner for the last year. The bandage around his head was clean, no traces of blood, and some dark mops fell upon it. Seeing him like that just fed a raging impotence that burnt deep within her chest. Shouldn’t they parted. Shouldn’t that jerk came in her way. Should she got to him in time. Should... 
The girl shook the head, clenched teeth. Pictures were fixed behind her eyes, carved in blood and fire. She drew in a deep breath and took a chair, sitting by the bed and holding in hers one lifeless, barely warm hand. 
— He’s gonna pay for this —she hissed—. I swear you for my mum’s sake tonight he’s gonna pay. You ain’t gonna leave all alone. 
* * *
The living couch offered a complete catalogue of sofisticated guns. Trash was moving around them, checking they were all loaded, with available spare ammo. Slash’s fingers were tipying at a hell-like speed on his laptop keyboard, frowning, totally unaware of what surrounded him. By the kintchen’s counter, Run had all his attention focused on Boss’ explanations. The youth had fixed in just a while a simple device that promised to be effective, and now he was teaching Run to use it. 

— Look, inside the thiner tube you’ve got the clorhidric acid, the nitric in the other. To make it safe to carry it, you gonna mix them right there. Pressing the button you turn down the device, then you’ll see an orange gas; it’s toxic, that’s why you need the mask. Mix just a little and when the tube gets hot, you press the other button to let the water pour. Careful, for it’s gonna be like boiling oil, you let it pour on the lock till you run out of liquid, to make sure of burning the inner mechanism. Then you should be able to force the safe’s door open. If you can’t, it means it’s acid protected. 
Run nodded rolling in his hand the small device. Boss handed him what looked like a pocket lantern. 
— If acid doesn’t work, then use this. It’s an oxigen welder, it works even under water. Look, inside you’ve got two tubes too, one for the oxigen, another for ethyn. Do you smell something like garlic? That’s the ethyn. Turn it on pressing the button, it opens the valves and makes an electric spark, just like an ordinary lighter. Everything happens inside this capsule, for it’s built water proof. When you turn it on, the capsule burst off and you slide the flame carefully all over the edge, since you must cut the locks on three sides of the safe’s door. Slash’s gotta take care of the safe alarm. 

— This is gonna be fuking hard —Slash muttered then, and stared up at them. 
— The safe’s alarm? 
— Huh? No, that’s piece of cake, I’ll crack it even before you’re in. But the inner system is a pretty other thing. I don’t think I can hack it even for ten minutes. 
The other three came closer and he showed them at his screen a square diagram crossed for at least two dozen of lines. With a key he showed it in a 3d projection, the lines conforming now an intrincate net. 
— The rays web. No way to get through it. If those disks aren’t there, then they’re keeping something even more important in there. I've found out how to hack the system, but who made it was a fucking genious: within six minutes as much the system will track me and it’s gonna be a fucking mess out there —he turned to look at Run, who was thoughtfully listening to him—. Our safety margin is four minutes, four and a half as much. 
Run took a moment to weight his words, then raised the eyebrows. 
— We’ve got not many options —he turned to Boss—. You think those will work in such a short time? 
— You may need to use them both. 
Run faced Slash again slightly shrugging, then checked out his watch. 
— Half past midnight. We’re out at one o’clock. 
* * *
The black van was hidden beneath some trees’ shadows, fifty meters afar from The Hill’s rear border. At the back side, Slash leant over the keyboard, an unlighted cigarette between his lips, slightly grining, his eyes reflecting the four screens’ light despite the cap’s peak that should protect them. In one of the upper screens, three red dots were moving towards the fence that bordered The Hill’s lot. He stopped tipyng and looked up at the left screen: he had already blocked the infrared eyes and hacked the closed circuit system, correcting two cameras' positions. He grined wider. 

— Free way, boys. Seven minutes from now on. 
His voice reached the others through the tiny earphones. Then Run, Trash and Boss ran up to that two meters corridor Slash had just blinded to the cameras. They were wearing all in black, high-collar tops, gloves, Run also had a cap to hide his light hair and a mask hanging onto his chest to use with the acids. They carried long range automatic guns, a knife and a 9mm each. They stopped by the fence and set by their mouths the thin earphones’ mics, that also worked as a tracker for Slash. Run climbed the fence without hesitation, jumping to the other side. Trash and Boss followed him. They hid behind some bushes. 
— In —Run whispered. 
Slash activated the neighborhood diagram and guided them near to Strafford García’s house avoiding the light zones. Meanwhile, he restored the cameras’ position and quit that system. 
— I see the house —Run said spying through the trees. 
— Two minutes to hack the outer infrared —Slash replied, typing at full speed again. 
Run turned to Trash and Boss with a nodd. They nodded back and walked away together towards the lot’s front side, while Run sneaked right in front of the office’s window. When they saw the front gate, Boss left Trash and ran up to the first curve of the road that lead from the house to the neighborhood’s entrance. There he left a tiny device, hidden in the grass, and went back to the girl. 
— Twenty seconds —Slash said into their ears. 
Trash traded a look with him and crossed the access road, taking position at the other side of the gate. 
— Three... two... one... down. 
At Slash’s voice, the three of them climbed the inner fence and got into the house’s lot. Trash and Boss threw themselves flat among the bushes by the lane, Run sneaked to stick to the side wall of the house, painted in a bright white that clearly outlined his dark shape. 
— One minute to hack the inner infrared. 
Run was already climbing towards the closest office’s window. Soon he was ready to cut out the glass, a clean circle enough for his hand to get in and open the window at Slash’s signal. At the other corner of the lot, Boss turned on a small remote control. One of the four bodyguards was walking to and fro ten meters far from them, smoking, carelessly carrying an Usi, both his hands away from the trigger; Trash was ready to shoot him at any sign that he had noticed their presence. 
— Five... —Slash said— four... 
Boss activated the bait he'd left at the road’s curve. A malfunctioning engine's noise came from there. 
— Three... two... 
The guard turned the head towards the gate. 
— One... Now! Four Minutes! —Slash said, moving his hands off the keyboard. 
Just a few seconds later the screen showed him Run getting into the office and stopping by the safe. At the same time, the noise grew louder at the gate’s road, seemed to get closer and ended up with a brief burst. The guard quickly headed for the gate, another armed guy showed up at the left side of the garden and went towards him. 
— What the fuck...? —the first one snarled, stepping by Boss and Trash’s hiding. 
— Must be the 5’s old man —the other said, joining him. 
— This late? He’s sleeping by nine! 
They went together up to the gate and looked out from above it. The one comming from the side garden shrugged. 
— It’s him, with that old ruin of a car he’s got —he walked back towards the house—. Whatever, man. Let’s go inside to drink something. That fucking grass you gave is burning up my throat! 
They went away and dissappeared in the left garden, surely towards the kitchen’s door. Trash informed their move. Slash confirmed it. 
— Three inside. The fourth is at the backyard, passing the pool. Thirty meters far from the house. 
— I’m watching the kitchen —Trash said—. Boss, take the fourth. 
Boss looked up across the lane, finding Trash’s cold clear eyes by instinct. She stared at him for a moment, then vanished in the dark. 
— You’ve got free way, Boss —Slash told him. 
— Ok. 
Boss rounded the house by the left, heading for the back garden. Passed by the rope hanging from the office’s window, forced himself not to look up. The only thing that should take them all alive out from there was keeping focused on each one’s roles. He hid behind some trees ten meters passing the pool. The fourth guard was right in front of him, walking in a twenty steps circle, head down, lost into his own thoughts. 
— One minute and a half —Slash warned. 
— We’re meeting by the office in two minutes as much —Trash said. 
— Ok. 
The next minute seemed to be endless to Boss. But when he was about to retreat, heard a low growl on the earphone. 
— Shit! Someone’s got into the office! —Slash gasped. 
Through Run’s open channel, the others heard a suffocated mumble, low fighting rumors, then silence. Boss stiffed feeling a chill. It hadn’t last more than ten seconds. 
— Run? —Boss recognized an urgence echo in Trash’s voice. 
— Run... 
— Gather and come back —Slash ordered—. Forty seconds for the inner system to be up again. And it may be noisy. 
Boss retreated in a hurry up to the tree in front of the office’s window. Trash joined him a moment later. They looked at each other and turned to look with concern at the upper window. They couldn’t see any sign of movements in there. The girl turned her back to the house. 
— Slash? 
— His sign’s been steady for the last minute inside the office. I’m hacking the outer ray in thirty seconds. 
Boss faced Trash in disbelief. — I still can climb and take a look... 
— You’re not going anywhere —Trash snarled, her eyes scanning the front garden for any sign of the bodyguards. 
— Twenty seconds, you better move your asses —Slash grunted. 
— Let’s go. 
— I’m not leaving till I check out whether Run is dead or alive. 
When he said the last word, he already had the cold mouth of Trash’s gun silencer under his jaw. She removed the lock and glared at him, their faces very close to each other. 
— Comming by your own will or with your feet ahead? —she hissed through clenched teeth. 
— Five seconds, get the fuck off!! 
Trash retreated towards the fence, Boss following her three steps behind, still trying to put himself together again. 
— Jump! 
They climbed and jumped out of the lot, then ran again to the outer fence. The three of them kept silent, but all they got through the earphones was more silence. 
— Ready —Slash whispered. 
Just a minute later, Trash and Boss got into the back side of the van still gasping. Slash turned around in his chair, found the girl’s bright eyes, pointed out the tracker’s screen, where Run’s red dot was still steady in the middle of the office. The heat tracker focused on that room showed nothing alive in there. Trash turned to Boss, speaking as she checked her arms were loaded. 
— I need a granade’s delayer. 
— Whoever entered wasn’t a guard, and nobody came out. 
Trash refused to face Slash, just nodded at his words.— How many time left? 
— Five minutes. More than enough. 
Boss handed her the delayer. She took it avoiding any eye contact and jumped out the van, quickly vanishing in the dark. He turned to Slash with a questioning look. 
— When you’re in a team, you work as a team —came the bitter answer, as Slash turned again to his screens—. Get ready to go back out if you need to, then turn on the engine. 
Boss accepted the accusation without a word and did as the other said. It was his first assignment with them, and he still had lots of things to learn about how they used to work. 
— Holly shit! —Slash growled then—. You’re done, baby, the inner system blocked me out. 
The answer was a panting snarl: — Don’t give a shit. 
For Boss’ amazement, Slash laughed trully funny. 
— All yours, baby —he glanced at Boss from above his shoulder—. Drive out of here and down this street up to the first corner, then turn right. 
* * *
Trash stopped before the house’s fence trying to breath again; her heart was pounding, but not out of physical effort. Telling again to herself that Run was too good to let them catch him. Then she heard the racket and yells from the backyard. Howls, strides, two gunshots. She ran to the front gate as she carefully placed the delayer on a hand granade, turned it on and left the granade by the gate. Then she retreated quickly. More gunshots sounded from the backyard, the fence’s spots enlighted the lot as though broad day.

It was then that she saw the tall black figure running towards the fence, trying to take cover behind the trees, shooting back now and then to the men after him, who shot their automatic guns without even aiming at their target. Trash stopped right there and opened fire from where she was, forcing the guards to leave their chasing. The granade exploded at the same time Run jumped over the fence, falling among the bushes.Forgetting all about the guards, Trash ran to him and leaned at his side. Run looked up at her, his face covered with dirt and sweat, stained in blood too. He grined pressing his left arm against his side. 
— It’s allright. A bullet scraped a rib, that’s all —he was out of breath, but his voice remained warm. 
Trash shook the head frowning, though the glimpse in her eyes spoke about relief. Behind them, Strafford García’s house was a chaos of screams and light, still some shot to the wrong shadow. The nearest house was waking up too. 
— Straight ahead, lucky idiots —Slash told them then—. I’ve found a pretty cabin here, pay me a visit. 
Run let Trash help him to straighten up and got away towards the outer fence always hidding among the trees. Soon they saw the cabin. In there, a man in a grey uniform cringed in his chair, both hands up, pale and sweaty. Slash was on the doorway. One hand in his pocket, the cigarette at last lit in his mouth, the other hand pointing at the man with a 365. Behind him, on the street, Boss was waiting behind the van’s wheel. Seeing them coming, Slash sneered at them and nodded towards the street. 
— Hurry up, this friend here wanna go on sleeping. 
Run and Trash headed for the door without giving the man a single glance. 
— Gosh! You two stink! —Slash snorted—. You can take my bath turn tonight! —he grined at the man—. Good night, my friend, sorry for waking you up— he said, and followed the others with no hurry. 
* * *
Ten minutes later Boss was driving the van to the West Access highway, his thoughts had taken his mind far from there. At his right, Slash had turned the radio on and was singing too aloud every single song they played. At the back side, Run finished curing and bandagging his bruise under Trash’s fixed observation. She was sitting by him, holding a clean t-shirt for him to wear. 

— Who was it? —she asked in a whisper. 
— García —Run whispered too—. Looking for his smokes, I think. I drop the earphone during our struggle and didn't have a chance to get it back. 
— So...? 
Run faced her with a fleeting grin. 
— I lost the knife you gave me... But Kao won’t leave alone anymore. 
Sayaki - 3/2k

* Thanks to my brother Kuroi, for helping me with that acids stuff, despite all his support!!!