A 'Fine' Bust?
Summary - VinF&D list July 2012 Celebration week Round Robin. Five authors write one part each of 100 -500 words.
Ezra stood still, trying to maintain his composure, trying to control the impulse to grab the weapon being held on him or do anything else that would blow his cover. It was all he could do not to cry out his denial at the top of his lungs, not to drop to his knees and beg lenience for his friend.
He couldn’t imagine how his life would be without one of his six teammates, his friends… brothers. Ezra’s mind locked up, he couldn’t think of a resolution, his greatest tool, his quick wit, forsaking him when he needed it most.
Mother would be so disappointed.
With a shocking suddenness, everything snapped back into place and Ezra’s mind cleared. He watched as the men he and Vin had been meeting with ushered Ezra’s partner into the warehouse office and closed the door. Had their cover been blown somehow? Had one of the men recognized Vin? Why the need for the private chat with Tanner?
Ezra took care to keep an indifferent façade on his face as the remaining man held an automatic weapon pointed at him. Now that his unexpected bout of fear was passed, Ezra was able to review the recent sequence of events with objective clarity.
He and Vin had arrived at the warehouse to examine weapons their cover personas were hoping to ‘purchase.’ They had come with a token $10,000 down payment, unarmed and without listening devices, but confident that JD’s parabolic mike would pick up the conversation within the warehouse.
The other five men on Team 7 were stationed outside in various places with quick access to the warehouse. It hadn’t been possible to place Vin high inside to provide backup, so he’d come along as Ezra’s bodyguard.
Something had been off from the moment Ezra introduced Vin to the gunrunners. At first he’d thought it was just the fact that Ezra had not come alone, but after a few moments of hushed conversation between themselves, the lead man had requested that Vin come with him and that Ezra was to ‘wait here.’
Vin had shrugged, nodded and went with the four men, including the leader, leaving Ezra alone with the fifth. All of this had taken place within the last two or three minutes, including Ezra’s short panic attack. He blinked the only outward sign of his deep mental sigh. Ezra could see nothing that would indicate why the leader wanted them separated.
He glanced at the man across from him, then let his gaze rake nonchalantly around the room as he searched for anything he could use as a weapon. Ezra wanted nothing more at this moment than to have his derringer rig snugly around his arm. Nothing more except to see Vin walk out that door unscathed.
A sharp report from within the office made Ezra jump. He turned stunned eyes on the door as it took seconds too long for his brain to recognize the sound.
A gun shot.
Chris was wound tighter than a rattler in a hole.
He had been uneasy about this operation from the start. Sending his men in unarmed and without audio contact was risky, but unavoidable when dealing with professional gunrunners who would undoubtedly search their prospective clients for hidden devices.
However, the team had been on the gunrunner’s trail for over a year and he couldn’t refuse a golden opportunity to take them down.
Only moments before Josiah, from his vantage point beside a skylight on the warehouse roof and JD, positioned with the mic beside a half-open window, had reported that Vin had been taken into the office alone.
Although this unexpected development was alarming, Ezra had not yet given the agreed signal indicating that the undercover agents needed help. So Chris chose to wait, tense and wired, ruthlessly blanking out visions of Vin’s possible fate.
The seconds ticked by with interminable slowness.
In reality, it was less than three minutes before the muffled but unmistakable sound of a gunshot sent a cold chill through his gut.
“Single gunshot - from inside the office, I think. No movement there and Ezra’s not moving—”
“Ezra’s demanding to know what’s going on,” JD interrupted, frowning in concentration as he strained to pick up the words. “Sounds like the other guy’s getting angry--”
Josiah’s deep tones broke in, fast and urgent. “Ezra’s tackled him, trying for the gun--”
A second shot rang out.
This time, Chris didn’t hesitate.
“We’re going in!” he barked, sprinting for the door and trusting that the team, briefed for this eventuality, would follow.
Glad of the chance to release the pent up tension in action, Chris kicked open the warehouse door and took cover behind a stack of crates near the entrance. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw JD jump in through the open window while Buck and Nathan advanced through the side door.
Josiah was already in position on the balcony, rifle trained on the two men locked in combat on the warehouse floor.
There was blood, undoubtedly the result of the second shot. Chris couldn’t tell if it was Ezra who was hurt, but both men were conscious and struggling for control of the gun.
Gesturing for Buck to help Ezra, Chris focused his attention on the closed office door. The blinds were drawn across both door and window. His throat tightened. Vin was in there, maybe wounded, maybe – no. He wouldn’t let his mind take him there.
He needed a plan, and quickly.
The office door opened just enough for the barrel of a gun to poke through. A voice called clearly, “Agent Larabee, please order your team to drop their weapons and come out into the open with their hands up.” He barely had time to register the use of his name before the voice continued, “If you don’t do what I say right now, your team will shortly be seeking a new sharpshooter.”
Pain. Throbbing, relentless pain. What the hell just happened?
Lifting his head slightly off the floor, Vin saw the four, no five, pairs of legs.
He had entered the office with the four men that met them for the buy. They had some sort of conversation among them, and then asked him to join them. He could tell from subtle signs that Ezra was disturbed by this, but there was nothing either of them could do. He just had to play along as if he didn’t have any worries about what could be going on.
That was the only warning he had gotten before he felt a sudden pain to the back of his head.
He dropped to his knees and fought to stay conscious. He tried to focus on the pair of legs that were coming towards him.
“Imagine my surprise when you and Standish walked into this warehouse. I had hoped that one day I would have a chance to repay you all for the kindness that you once showed me and my own. It seems that day is today.”
The voice sounded familiar, but it was hard to think through the pain.
“With you two here, I’m sure the rest of your team is close by. Shall we invite them to join us?”
Vin flinched at the close gunshot above his head. He was suddenly grabbed and lifted to his feet. He tried to struggle, but the unexpected movement disoriented him. He was shoved onto a chair and his hands and feet were quickly secured.
Breathing through the pain and the disorientation, Vin looked up when he heard the voice speak again. “Agent Larabee, please order your team to drop their weapons and come out into the open with their hands up. If you don’t do what I say right now, your team will shortly be seeking a new sharpshooter.”
It was Stuart James.
Chris looked around for anything that could be used to buy them some time until he could come up with a plan to get Vin and Ezra out safely and bring James down. He knew there was no way James was going to let them live after the last time he and Team Seven had met. For although James himself had gotten away, his favorite nephew whom he had been grooming to take over the business had died during the fire fight between his men and the ATF team.
Vin tested his bonds, finding only the one on his left wrist had a little give. He kept his eyes focused on the men in the room who now all had their backs to him since he wasn't a threat anymore. Vin fought against the pounding in his head as he worked his wrist back and forth trying to free it.
And as if fate stepped in, everything happened at once. Chris spotted Buck slipping behind the office with a signal he had sight into the room.
Vin slipped his hand free of the rope and reached for a gun that had been left lying on the floor when the man had tied him up.
Ezra's elbow made contact with his opponent’s nose, shattering it and giving him control of the man’s gun, which he aimed and fired.
Buck aimed his gun through the back window that had at one time overlooked the warehouse floor. He saw Vin free a hand and reach toward a gun. But his attention was drawn instantly to the men by the door, when a shot rang out and saw the man that was hit fell just as quick. Buck took the chance, threw himself through the large window at the same moment Vin grabbed the gun and both men fired in unison.
Three men fell never to draw another breath leaving James standing alone, unarmed, two guns inside still aimed at him and a very angry Larabee charging the door followed by a worried Ezra as the three other team members stayed outside the office guarding their backs.
by Mary Ann
Everything happened so fast that everyone's senses were in
chaos. One thing was certain, the shooting was over. James was standing staring
in shock at Vin who was twisted in the chair, his ankles and one arm still tied
to it, but the gun several feet in front of James' face was rock steady.
James raised his hands as Larabee crashed through the door
ducking to one side as Ezra ducked to the other, guns aimed unerringly at
"'bout time ya'll came to the party. Would one of you
untie me?" Vin's drawl sounded, his eyes never leaving James.
"Mr. Tanner, are you all right?"
"Will be Ez soon's ya get me loose!"
Chris called in the all clear and moved to his seated friend
as Buck grabbed James by his arms, and handcuffed them behind the man. Chris
quickly released Vin helping him to his feet as Ezra stopped beside them. Vin
squirmed under two green eyed gazes.
"I'm fine, jus'ta headache. At least we got James,"
Vin replied glancing to where James was being read his rights by Buck with JD
standing nearby. Josiah walked through the door just then, followed by Nathan
who hurried to Vin and Ezra's side. Dark eyes flashed over both men.
"We're fine," they said simultaneously.
"Let him check you both. Ezra, what happened?"
While Vin's head was checked, Ezra filled Chris in on what
he knew, though he hadn't known Stuart James was behind everything. Vin told
Chris what happened to him while Nathan checked Ezra, who had a cut on his
forearm, though most of the blood on his jacket was from the man he'd wounded
in the leg when they fought for the gun, and the man's broken nose.
The police arrive and moved in to take over. Turning James
over to the cops they watched as he was led away, surrounded by three
officers. EMT's were checking bodies and helping the few
who were still alive, guarded by more police. Chris, Buck and Josiah
reported to the police captain in charge before making their way to where the
rest of team seven were waiting for them.
"Let's go," Chris said as he reached his men. As
one, the seven turned and headed for the vehicles waiting for them. Ezra headed
for his Jag with Nathan beside him. Vin matched Chris' steps as they headed for
the van parked under a sorry looking tree.
In the van, Buck drove as Chris glanced at Vin, whose eyes
"I'm fine,” Vin said without opening his eyes. “Well, today didn't go the way we planned did it?"
"No it didn't, but we caught one of the biggest gun
runners in the state, it's an iron clad case, with competent witnesses,"
"Damn right! James' been a pain in our ass for ages,
you two stay healthy and he's gone forever," Buck laughed.
"We're fine. James is done. Now let me rest," Vin snuggled into the corner falling asleep.