Follow the adventures and misadventures of one of the Original 13 Joes, as he contemplates the end of his career and searches for love. Watch out for action, because Cobra can strike at any time! (...
G. I. Joe, Cobra, and any associated characters are the property of Hasbro International and their licensees. Third Watch and any associated characters are the property of NBC and Warner Brothers. Any other copyrighted names used in this work are coincidental and not intended to infringe upon the owning company's copyright.
I am using the G. I. Joe, Cobra and Third Watch characters without permission, for the purposes of entertainment. There has been no attempt made to copyright any existing characters as my own, nor am I making any profit from the writing of this piece.
Washington Heights, New York
Northwest Manhattan, near Harlem
15:30 hours, local time
NYPD police officer Faith Yokas hung tightly onto the 'chicken handle' over the front passenger-side window of the 2002 Chevrolet Impala Radio Motor Patrol car that she shared with her partner, Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli. Bosco, behind the wheel of the RMP, was maneuvering through the busy afternoon traffic on Amsterdam Avenue like a madman as the car siren's wail made little impact on the rush hour traffic ahead of them.
"Come on, Bosco, will you calm down, please?" Yokas pleaded as Bosco swerved hard, shaving past a large delivery truck with inches to spare. "We just got out of the house and this is a brand new RMP! I don't wanna explain to the Lieutenant why you got us into an MVA with his nice shiny new unit! There ARE other units responding!"
"I don't want us to be the last arrival, Faith," Bosco replied, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles. "The Patrol Sergeant will give us grief about our response time again and I'm sick of that smug son of a bitch." Bosco leaned out of his open window and shouted over the blasting sirens at another driver who was honking his horn from a sedan that he had cut off on the roadway. "Hey, you asshole! Move clear of the cops next time!"
"Sheesh," was all Yokas could manage as Bosco roared through a red stop light with the lights and siren going full blast, and caused much of the cross traffic to squeal to a hurried stop.
The radio on board Bosco and Faith's RMP crackled to life as the 55th Precinct dispatcher called them with an update. "Five-five Central Dispatch to unit Five-Five-David. Proceed immediately to the ten-thirty, silent alarm report at the Banco Hipotecario Dominicano at 552 West One-eighty-one on the corner of Audubon Avenue. Backup units are delayed on Broadway. Respond to caller, Code Three!"
Yokas snatched up the radio handset and responded for herself and Bosco. "Five-Five-David, roger. ten-thirty at 552 West One-eighty-one, corner of Audubon Avenue. We're at One-seventy-ninth and Amsterdam. ETA is about four minutes."
Putting down the radio, Yokas turned her attention to Bosco, who had broken a sweat while dodging the thickening road traffic. "There you go, Bosco. Now we're the primary response. You don't have to be the Johnny-come-lately anymore."
Banco Hipotecario Dominicano (BHD)
552 West 181st Street, Washington Heights
A group of masked gunmen swarmed around the open customer lobby of the BHD bank, overpowering and disarming the handful of private security officers and herding all of the employees and customers into a windowless corner of the lobby. Armed with AK-74 assault rifles, the gunmen accomplished the takeover of the bank lobby with the precision of a military operation.
The assault on the bank had gone off like clockwork. The leader of the group, dressed in a black business suit, looked like just another of many corporate executives and private businessmen that passed through the doors of the institution to conduct their routine transactions. He had approached one of the safety deposit box service agents with his large black briefcase as if to arrange to visit his assigned box within the bank's storage vault.
When the agent unlocked the access door to the stairwell leading to the vault, the girl felt an automatic pistol jammed into her back and all hell broke loose.
Disguised as average customers and spread out throughout the lobby, men and women associated with the group leader produced pistols from backpacks and hidden shoulder holsters under business suit jackets, rapidly taking over the area and locking the main lobby entrance doors.
The bank's security men, despite being armed, chose wisely not to open fire wildly because in the opening chaos, it was impossible to tell whether they would hit an innocent or one of the gunmen. By the time the lobby was secured, it was too late. The security guards were being disarmed at gunpoint and additional criminals had entered the lobby to pass out assault rifles from a wooden crate that they had brought in from an unmarked truck parked in front of the main entrance.
The gunmen were unable to prevent the head teller from tripping the bank's silent alarm system. But considering the hardware that the group possessed, they were confident that any NYPD response could be dealt with in a very bloody manner. Having a lobby full of innocent hostages helped too.
"Okay everyone!" Gregor, the group's leader, shouted to everyone in the lobby. "If you all keep quiet and don't try anything funny, we'll all get out of this unharmed."
One of the gunmen stationed at the locked main entry doors motioned to the leader to get his attention. "Gregor! I hear sirens! The NYPD is coming!"
Gregor nodded and motioned to two of the thugs guarding the civilians. "Ivan and Linna, put up our shield!" The two criminals moved among the civilians, choosing a variety of the taller men and women, some bank employees and others from among the customers. They dragged them out of the cluster of hostages and lined them up against every floor-to-ceiling window, making them stand fully exposed and facing the street. Clicks of assault rifle bolts being worked and evil snickers from the gunmen prompted several of the exposed hostages to scream out in fear for their lives.
Gregor, pleased with how smoothly the initial takeover had gone off, raised a cell phone and dialed a number from its speed dial memory. "Gregor here. Phase one is complete. You may bring the vehicle up to the loading dock and deliver the rest of our men for Phase two. The NYPD is almost here." He hung up the cell phone and turned his attention to the steadily growing wail of police sirens approaching outside.
Officer Yokas spotted the BHD bank building to the left of the RMP as Bosco wheeled their late-model Chevy Impala around the corner of Amsterdam and 181st Street. They covered the final block to the structure at breakneck speed, when both officers noticed the nondescript delivery truck blocking the view of the main doors. "Bosco! Watch out!" Yokas yelled.
Bosco squealed to a stop in the middle of the intersection of 181st Street and Audubon Avenue, causing the cross-traffic to swerve around them. Surrounded by billowing clouds of road dust and smoke from their tire rubber, the NYPD officers swung open their car doors and crouched behind them for cover, trying to ascertain the total situation in the bank.
"Five-Five-David to Central," Yokas transmitted using her handheld walkie-talkie. "Ten-eighty-four at 552 West One-eighty-one! Situation appears critical from outside! Roll all available backup units and the ESU!"
"Get on this side of the car and cover me while I go check out the bank lobby and that parked truck!" Bosco called out to his partner. The hotheaded patrolman reached into the car and popped the trunk of the RMP using a switch near the steering column. As he traded positions with Officer Yokas, he reached into the car trunk and withdrew a bulletproof vest, which he quickly tossed over his shoulders and secured around his waist with the included Velcro straps.
"Jesus, Bosco, be careful!" Faith shouted. "Wait for the backup, dammit! We need to clear the civilians out and form a perimeter!" Yokas cringed while crouching behind the RMP's sheet metal fender and leveling her Smith & Wesson 9mm service automatic towards the bank. She always worried about what kind of trouble Bosco would get the partners into during an incident.
"What do you think I'm doing, Faith?" Bosco replied in an annoyed tone. "We can't see shit if that truck is blocking our view!" Crouching low to the ground and cocking his automatic pistol, Bosco charged out into the open between the RMP and the parked delivery truck. Staying to the street-facing side of the truck, he zigzagged across the pavement, expecting to hear weapons fire, and dove to the ground behind one of the vehicle's large tires. Once in position, he studied the bank from underneath while lying flat on his belly.
"Move those desks over to the front entrance and turn them over for cover," Gregor ordered, as his thugs scrambled to form a defensible perimeter. "The cops are on the corner. Everyone, lock and load your weapons. If one of the hostages so much as twitches the wrong way, eliminate them!"
When Gregor's orders were heard among the civilians, many of the more scared individuals began screaming and had to be silenced roughly by the thugs, who shouted and menaced the people with their weapons.
Gregor's NEXTEL phone chirped as a call came in on the phone's two-way radio mode. "Gregor, this is John on the second story. One of the NYPD cops is behind our truck barricade trying to get a look inside."
"Very well, John," Gregor replied into his phone. "Let him get a look at the hostages lined up in front of the windows and then you drive him back. The truck and our safe crackers are already pulling into the rear loading dock."
Bosco reached for the hand microphone connected to his Motorola police radio. "This is Five-Five-David, calling Central. We've got a real mess here. The signal ten-thirty looks like a real tactical job. They have hostages lined up against the windows so I can't see inside. And there's a truck parked in front of the main doors to block a direct assault. We need all available backup to clear the civilians on the street out ASAP!"
The sound of breaking glass from the second floor of the bank building caught both Bosco and Yokas's attention, just as a second NYPD RMP was squealing to a stop and pairs of foot patrolmen were arriving to corral the passers-by at a safe distance. Within mere heartbeats, the characteristic punch-punch sound of John's AK-74 rifle echoed in the afternoon air. The military-grade bullets chipped at the cement around Bosco as he covered his head and tried to crawl under the truck for better protection. "Holy shit!" Boscarelli shouted, completely surprised by the accuracy of the weapon fire.
"Bosco!" Faith yelled from her position at the RMP. She knew her service automatic would be of little or no use returning fire at the range between the RMP's position and the upper window. She grabbed her radio mic and yelled frantically, "Unit Five-Five-David to Central! Ten-thirteen! Officers need assistance! Heavy automatic weapons fire at 552 West 181st! My partner is under direct fire! Send in ESU!"
G. I. Joe "Detachment New York"
Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York
Duke sat at his government-issue steel desk, working on paperwork when his phone rang. Seeing the extension number on the phone's digital display, the Master Sergeant snatched up the handset and spoke quickly. "This is Duke."
"This is the Operations Room, Duke," the voice on the other end of the line reported. "We're getting a relay feed with copies of radio calls from the NYPD in upper Manhattan. The Banco Hipotecario Dominicano in Washington Heights has been taken by a large group of armed robbers and they're holding a large group of civilians hostage!"
"What's that got to do with us?" Duke questioned. "NYPD has the Manhattan North ESU platoon for that."
"The BHD bank came up on our computers as a high-value security target," the operations specialist replied. "It's a commercial bank that also specializes in international funds, securities and commodities transfers. They took in a large funds shipment bound for a national counter-terrorism program in Panama which was being routed from the New York Federal Reserve to support anti-Cobra operations."
"Damn!" Duke swore to himself. "Those thugs must've known they could hit that bank and exactly when the money would be there." Duke stood up and reached for his LBE equipment set and urban camouflage combat uniform. "Sound the alarm, ops room! Get every available Joe back to the unit, and ready the Quick Reaction Force vehicles in the motor pool garage! If Manhattan needs us, we're moving out!"
West 181st Street & Audubon Avenue
Sounds of sirens echoed from every direction as the NYPD finally got a safe perimeter formed around the BHD bank building. The word had gotten out quickly from the 55th Precinct dispatcher as soon as Yokas had called the 10-13, or 'officers need assistance' message code.
An assault platoon from the Upper Manhattan Emergency Services Unit had traded places with the uniformed patrol officers and plainclothes detectives who were covering the building. They trained an array of Heckler & Koch sub-machineguns and police shotguns at the criminals inside the bank while a hostage negotiator and New York FBI agents arrived to support the cops.
The FBI hostage negotiator and the ranking NYPD officer on the scene hid behind the bulk of an unmarked, black Mercury Grand Marquis police cruiser while they studied the bank with binoculars. Between the two of them, they agreed that the situation was potentially bloody if they handled it wrong.
"Have they tried to contact you with a demand yet, Lieutenant Meigs?" the FBI negotiator asked.
"Oddly enough, no," Lieutenant Meigs replied. "I'm rather perplexed as to what's really going on in there. It appears from outside to be a basic bank job, but in a way, it also looks like the gunmen inside were expecting us to respond. It smells more like a terrorist action than just a straight bank robbery."
"Well, at least we have our asses covered for that, Lieutenant," the negotiator said. "A city-wide Orange Alert warning went out, notifying the civil authorities and the resident military units of a potential situation. Before we act too hastily and get your ESU boys killed, let's call this incident under the Orange Terrorism Alert and get some heavy hardware up here."
Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York
Base Athletic Fields
Sergeant Major Lonzo Wilkinson, one of the Command Sergeant Majors on the reconstituted G. I. Joe Team, stared at the hands of a ticking stopwatch and fixed his face into a look that could stop traffic. As a group of running Joes approached from the road adjacent to the field, the Ranger non-com known as Stalker's voice boomed.
"You ladies are TOO SLOW!" he bellowed. "I could've run three APFT evolutions in the time it's taking you to manage the Organ Grinder course! If you grunts don't pick up the pace and impress me in the last mile, I'm gonna make you slimy turds run it all over again! MOVE IT! I only wanna see assholes and elbows! Go! Go! Go!"
The sound of squeaky brakes behind Stalker caught the Ranger's attention, as he turned to face the source of the noise. The offending brakes belonged to one of the Joes' AWE Strikers. Duke climbed out of the lightweight dune buggy and approached Stalker with a smile. He extended his hand in greeting.
"Hey Stalker," Duke said. "What do you say? Are you berating my Joes again?"
Stalker shook Duke's hand and clapped his teammate on the shoulder. "Just the usual motivational speeches, Top," he replied. "I'm trying to keep them going for the gusto. Today's drill was the Organ Grinder."
Duke cringed slightly at the thought of running the Organ Grinder himself. Despite being tough and one of the Joes who designed the strenuous test of fitness and endurance, at times he even thought that they had made the course too tough to survive.
"Sorry Stalker," Duke said. "We have to cancel the run. I need the alert team to hit the showers and be ready with combat gear in case we get orders. An Orange Alert notice from Washington Heights came down from NYPD. We may have to roll out at any time."
Stalker walked over to a Silver Mirage motorcycle and started it up with a throaty roar. "I'll have them ready in the Motor Pool with the QRF vehicles as soon as you need them, Duke!" Waving farewell, Stalker raced off down the base's perimeter road to catch the runners and send them back to the Joes' base area.
As Duke was leaning back into his AWE Striker to start up the engine, a communications specialist from the Operations Room ran to catch the First Shirt. Panting as he caught up to Duke, the radioman handed over a handwritten note.
"Duke, sir," the radioman said. "This just came over the wire. The bank situation has been upgraded to a terrorist incident. An agent of the FBI who's on site called it in. The Mayor's office has requested the Army to intervene. And the Army liaison officer from the Office of Emergency Management called for us to prepare a response while they assess the situation uptown."
"Okay, troop, settle down," Duke replied, urging the young radioman to sit in the Striker's passenger seat. The top sergeant gunned the vehicle's motor and drove towards the underground parking garage entrance that concealed their Motor Pool. "We'll be mobilized and on the way shortly."
West 181st Street & Audubon Avenue
"Lieutenant Meigs!" yelled a patrol officer waving a radio handset. "I have a relay request from Central Dispatch. There's a caller with the 911 center who claims to be inside the bank holding the people hostage!"
The FBI negotiator perked up at the patrolman's news. "Get me my cell phone from the car and bring me that radio handset! Quickly!" Once the negotiator's FBI-issued cellular phone was brought over to the impromptu command post, the special agent passed along the number to the 911 dispatcher so it could be relayed to the caller.
In less than a minute, the cell phone rang, and the negotiator picked it up. "This is FBI Special Agent Jay Price."
"I am the voice of the Eastern European Blackbirds," Gregor's thickly accented voice on the other end of the line said. "We have taken this bank to strike a blow against the capitalists on behalf of our brothers fighting for freedom in South America and elsewhere! I am calling to deliver a warning."
"You will notice a number of civilians lining the windows of this institution," Gregor continued. "Should you attempt to assault us directly, they will be killed by the fighters positioned behind them with automatic weapons. If our demands are not met within four hours, the civilians shall be eradicated one by one and then a bomb that we brought into the building shall be detonated in its basement. The explosives are powerful enough to level the entire city block from its foundations."
"What are your demands?" Agent Price asked of the caller.
"We shall call with our list of demands in due time," the accented voice replied. "But heed these words. You shall make no attempts at heroics. We are prepared to give our lives for our blood brothers and we shall take as many of your civilians as we can. That is all." The caller hung up the phone before Agent Price could speak any further.
"What's your take on that phone call?" Lieutenant Meigs asked. "Sounds like those folks mean business."
"We can't jump to conclusions, Lieutenant," Price replied. "The call gave us no means of verification. It could be an elaborate ruse to keep us confused and delay us out here while a highly organized bank robbery goes on in there. On the other hand, the caller used wording almost verbatim to the FBI's research on terrorist hostage taking incidents."
Price rubbed his chin as his mind thought through the different scenarios he could foresee. "The indicators I could figure out from the caller would also support that reasoning. The voice was foreign and thickly accented, and not under stress, as you might expect from a bank robber who was being surrounded by the cops. I need to know more before I can make an educated call on this. Hopefully the Army will get here soon and we can try to get more information from inside the building."
Agent Price paused to wipe his forehead with a handkerchief and then began to issue orders. "First off, Lieutenant, make the patrolmen extend the perimeter to at least one block in every direction and get the residents off the streets and away from open windows within any line of sight to the bank. I don't want any stray fire clipping a local. Get plans for the bank from the city buildings department shipped up here right away, and have the city 911 call-in center get the Army liaison on the horn."
"Use the police helicopters to scout out usable rooftops for the ESU sniper teams before sending the men up," Price added. "And keep the assault platoon in their places, behind cover but visible to any spotters the bad guys inside may have on the upper floor of the structure. If they look like they're moving, we might spook them into killing people. Get the closest fire and EMS units over here and on standby in case we need them."
New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
Empire State Building
"Additional word is coming in from FBI Special Agent Jay Price, the negotiator, Colonel Thomas," a secretary said after answering a phone call from the NYPD's 911 central dispatch unit. "The negotiator is calling for direct military intervention due to the high risk and plausible bomb threat, and the potential for massive civilian casualties. Additional ESU teams are rolling north to provide assistance with crowd control and situational containment, and all available manpower from the 55th and 33rd Precincts of the NYPD are moving into the area to firm up the perimeter."
"Very well," replied Colonel John Anthony Thomas, U. S. Army Reserve, the coordinator of New York City's local military assets, and a director of the Office of Emergency Management's crisis planning team.
Colonel Thomas quickly scanned a readiness report from his closest unit, a mixed Armor and Mechanized Infantry battalion housed in a number of National Guard armories around the United Nations on Manhattan's East Side, and responsible for beefing up the organization's protection in a crisis.
A reinforced unit, which was amalgamated from two oversized battalions in the past, the U. N. security force fielded twenty-eight M-60A3 tanks at a secret storage garage under the complex and forty-four armored personnel carriers elsewhere, not counting utility vehicles, along with a paper strength of over nine hundred well-trained Guardsmen.
Unfortunately, their manpower was down and the commander's daily report to NYC OEM said their hands were tied with increased security presence at major New York structures and the U. N. No other "publicly known" units had the trained personnel or were close enough to mobilize on no notice.
"Damn," the colonel thought to himself. "It's a Joe Team call for sure, this time."
He reached past a photograph of his son, also a member of the United States Army, in his 10th Light Infantry Division dress uniform, to pick up his secure telephone line. The colonel dialed in a number that he wasn't ever allowed to write down for security reasons.
"Fort Hamilton Pizza," a sleepy, Brooklyn-accented voice said when the phone call was picked up.
"I need a large with the works," the colonel replied, taking the pre-arranged code words of the call in stride and pausing until his secretary left the office. He didn't need to identify himself because his Caller ID was inevitably "Is the manager in?"
"I'll put him right on, sir," said the other voice. The line fell silent for a moment and then a new voice picked up the line.
"Duke here," Master Sergeant Hauser said into the telephone.
"This is Colonel Thomas over at New York OEM," the colonel replied.
"How can the Joes help you, sir?" Duke asked.
Colonel Thomas sighed and delivered the news. "We definitely need your response team. You're a go to move up to 552 West 181st Street to aid the incident unit on scene. My office will forward all the available intelligence data to your Operations Center and any IVIS-equipped vehicles in your response unit."
"No problem, Colonel," Duke said. "Bump it right to the network. My guys know what to do."
"Good luck to you and your team, Mister Hauser," Colonel Thomas said. "It's getting hairy up there."
"We'll do our best, sir," Duke replied and then hung up his telephone.
Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York
G. I. Joe Motor Pool, Sublevel one
"That's it, Joes," Duke said to the assembled response party, turning away from the wall-mounted telephone in the mechanic's area of the motor pool. "We're a go. We need to get to 181st Street in Manhattan. That's the Washington Heights section up near Harlem. The response kit is in the trailers and I see that you all drew weapons and ammo already. We're taking two AWE Strikers and two Hummers - actually, M-1038 Armament Carriers - with the gear trailers in tow. Sure Fire, your team will escort the convoy up to the incident. Let's move out!"
"YO, JOE!" shouted the nineteen members of the Joes that mobilized for the response. Stalker waved good luck to the group from a large glass picture window that connected the motor pool with a communications room, where the Ranger was taking charge of the home base in Duke's absence.
The soldiers piled into the four Army vehicles according to Duke's instructions. Sure Fire, Law and Mace took the lead AWE Striker in the convoy, and their section-mates, Barricade, Shockwave, and Snake Line (a newly recruited, ex-LAPD SWAT cop) took up the rear. Lieutenant Falcon commanded a second section of Joes, including Pathfinder, Lightfoot, Repeater, Footloose and Hit & Run. Falcon's team took the second M-1038, leaving the first for Duke and his command section of Steeler, Sparks, Crankcase, Low Light, Sneak Peek and Wiretap, a recently transferred communications-electronics expert from Fort Huachuca with counter-terrorist operations experience.
Duke leaped into the front passenger seat of his section's Hummer and grabbed the VRC-30 radio mic that outfitted each vehicle in the column. "Check. Check. Radio Check. All elements sound off."
Sure Fire replied from the point vehicle. "Striker at the head. Five by five."
Shockwave took care of the trail vehicle. "Striker on the tail. Radio is good to go."
Falcon had seated himself in the right front seat of his Hummer to take command, as Duke had, and handled the radio for his M-1038. "Second section is loud and clear, Duke."
"Roger that," Duke replied over the vehicle channel. "Quick Reaction Force, Start 'em up and MOVE OUT!"
The vehicles' ignitions cranked over their engines with a throaty roar, and then one by one the Joe equipment moved out of the motor pool and onto the surface level streets of Fort Hamilton, bound for Manhattan.
181st Street and Audubon Avenue, inside the bank
"All of our reinforcements are in the building, Gregor," Linna reported after having ducked into the basement stairwell that led to the rear loading dock and main bank vault levels. After the curvaceous brunette had re-emerged from the stairs, a number of masked men wearing a mix of blue and red or green and black uniforms stormed into the main lobby.
"Good," Gregor said. He motioned to the uniformed men with a sweep of his hand. "Vipers, relieve the Alley-Viper commandos in the lobby so they can change into their battle gear. You two Night-Vipers are to go to the second floor and relieve John's covering team. Set up your Dragunovs to cover the NYPD command post. Move your asses!"
"Yes, sir!" the Cobra Viper soldiers responded, as they ran to their designated positions. A Tele-Viper walked into the lobby to report to Gregor that the Techno-Vipers assigned to his detachment were already cutting the main vault open.
"Everything is moving along as planned," Gregor said to no one in particular. He then addressed his accomplices who had taken the bank at the outset of the incident. "Alley-Viper Commandos, get down to the truck and change into your combat armor. Ivan and Linna, get John and bring the device in from the truck."
180th Street and Audubon Avenue
Behind the bank building on 180th Street, one of the NYPD 55th Precinct's RMP cars slowly rolled along the street, the two partners aboard looking for any civilians that might be endangered by the unfolding situation inside the BHD building.
"Hey, Sully, take a look at that alleyway over there," Officer Ty Davis, the rookie of the pair, said. "Doesn't that lead right to the back of the bank? We should check out those trucks parked there."
"Easy does it, Davis," the RMP driver, Officer John "Sully" Sullivan, said. "We weren't ordered to check out the building directly. ESU and the specialists have that job. I don't want us to go walking into an ambush, okay?"
Ty Davis, the son of Sully's former partner of many years who was killed in the line of duty, was young and naive unlike his father. He urged Sully to pull over. "Come on, Sully. We have to have a look and report what's over here. There are people inside that bank who are counting on us!"
"Alright," Sully groaned, pulling the RMP off the street, out of view of the alleyway, and shutting off the engine. He picked up the radio and reported in while Davis eagerly opened the trunk of the RMP to fish out their bulletproof Kevlar vests. "Five-Five-Charlie to Central. We're stopped on one-eightieth behind the bank building. Going on foot to check out the neighbors."
Climbing from the driver's side of the patrol car with a huff, the slightly chunky Sully accepted his bulletproof vest from Davis and strapped it on. "If you get us into trouble, Davis, I don't know what the hell I'll do to you. And an ass kicking for stupidity behind the precinct house is almost guaranteed. Let's go have your look-see."
The two NYPD officers drew their side arms and pressed themselves against the concrete corner of the building on 180th closest to the bank's alleyway. Davis slid into the broad, truck-width alley first, with his service automatic raised and ready to fire. He didn't expect to be spotted from the bank's loading dock so quickly. A hail of bullets chipped at the cement wall where Davis stood as the police officer dropped to his belly and tried to lie flat on the ground.
"Davis! Get the hell back here!" Sully yelled, trying fruitlessly to return fire with his older .38-caliber revolver. Against his better judgment, the veteran cop darted into the alley to check on his partner. He reached the spot where Davis was lying prone to avoid being shot. Sully grabbed a fistful of Davis' vest and dragged the man clear of the gunfire. "Are you okay, Davis?" Sully asked.
"They didn't get me," Davis replied, visibly shaken. "Thanks for pulling me out, Sully."
Sully nodded and grabbed his walkie-talkie. "Five-Five-Charlie to Central. Shots fired at the rear of the bank facing One Hundred Eightieth Street. Ten-thirteen, send us an ESU covering team!"
181st Street and Audubon Avenue, in front of the bank
Special Agent Price's phone rang right after Lieutenant Meigs swore up a blue streak concerning Davis and Sully drawing fire from behind the building. The FBI agent shook his head and tersely answered the call.
"Special Agent Jay Price," he said quietly, waving his hand at Meigs so he would shut up.
"Did you not listen to my instructions?" Gregor said over the connection. "Did I not say to keep your policemen away?"
"The NYPD men were attending to the perimeter," Price said. "They knew the rules."
"Bullshit!" Gregor said, without changing his tone. "Your policemen were approaching the rear of the bank. I shall not listen to any of your excuses, and I shall make no exceptions. As I have stated, one of the hostages will die!"
Inside the bank, Gregor turned his cell phone away from his face, ignoring Price's pleas to let the hostage live. He nodded for Linna to take one of the female hostages out of the cluster they had been cordoned in. The woman struggled and screamed her head off when Gregor leveled his pistol in her direction and held his cell phone up so Agent Price could hear her screams.
Gregor fired twice and the hostage's single scream was instantly replaced by shouts and cries from the other men and women. The dead hostage's body fell to the neatly waxed tile floor with a thud and a pool of her blood and other soft tissues quickly formed from the bullet holes in her head.
Price nearly dropped his handset in fear when he heard the two pistol reports as loudly as if he was standing next to Gregor. "Dammit, Meigs!" he blurted out. "Your fuckin' blue suits just got a civilian killed!"
"Did you hear that, Price?" Gregor shouted over the din. "Did you hear that?"
Gregor motioned that he wanted quiet, and Linna fired her AK-74 high over the hostages' heads, quieting their shouts down to a few random sobs and sniffles.
Agent Price returned the cell phone to his ear and whispered, "I did. I heard you. How can we prevent another useless death?"
"You will pull your perimeter out farther," Gregor said with a smile. "I don't want to have any cops, agents, or emergency personnel, within my line of sight. If you don't clear out of your positions within ten minutes, a second hostage will die for every minute that you delay. And don't worry, Price. We have plenty to choose from."