Hard Boiled – Episode Two: The Roof is on Fire 1.53

“You are not happy to see me, Natalia. Yes?”

Natalia “Blacksheep” Zbruevaia scowled. The shadow beside her set her skin itching. Little Tokyo’s thick air was made thicker by the distinct scent of stainless steel wetted with machine oil. She shook her head.

“You are an unnecessary complication. A distraction.” A receiver, tucked into the curl of her ear, whispered to her in Japanese. The Yakuza lookouts were signaling when the vans passed their checkpoints. Remote surveillance and motion sensors helped cover the rooftops. Too many of the city’s heroes preferred acting like second-storey men. Her men stayed within the warehouse, or hid upon the rooftops. Casual surveillance would reveal a Yakuza presence, not unusual in this area. Not a Russian contingent.

“You are angry about Chechnya. Admit it.”

Chechnya. She had to bring up Chechnya. “I am showing deference to my employer by allowing you this much access to our operations. He seems to find some value in your employer’s activities in this city.” She hated to admit it, but it felt like more than just deference. Word had gone out that her ‘companion’ was to be given open hunting rights.

“It was honest mistake. Did not know target was passed to both of us. Natalia raised her hand. The vans moved past their final checkpoints and would be converging at the warehouse shortly.

“Two minutes. She smiled. “I’m sorry; it looks like you wasted your time. No sign of men in body armor yet. If anyone, it will be the fancy one and my Wolf…” Her shadow said nothing.

Motors hummed as the warehouse doors opened and admitted several bland box trucks and delivery vans. Boring, nondescript vehicles anyone could ignore on the highways. Two were decoys. Two held advanced weapons imported from the finest KGB caches. Natalia picked up her crook and moved out onto the catwalk above the warehouse floor.

[“Keep alert,”] She sub vocalized commands to her troops in Russian. [“The Japanese are leaving our flank open. Our targets should be arriving shortly.”]

Shadows moved from between the crates of antiques and hoisin sauce. They surrounded the vehicles and waited for her. She leapt down in front of the first true carrier van and smiled. “Watch the rooftops. They will be here soon.” AK-74’s were unslung and armed. The drivers opened the doors and stepped out.

Except the last one. He fell out in a heap. Billows of sickly green smoke followed. The gas tore at her enhanced sense of smell. Tear gas. She dragged her emergency mask over her face and checked the seal. Her men stumbled and reached for their masks. Another canister flew into the air, bounced off the underside of the catwalk and covered the other vans in the noxious fumes. Some of her men were too slow and fell to the ground, eyes red as blood.

“Wow. You know, Bo Peep, you should really find a better quality of smuggler to work with.” A tall figure in flak armor and a gas mask stepped out of the caustic mist. Even in the dark she could see the shattered gold hourglass sprayed across the chest plates. Two nightsticks whirled in his hands. He bounced a bearing the size of a golf ball between them as if it was a party trick. “I mean, I hijacked this truck right off the highway. And if I could do it, anyone who’s played Grand Theft Auto could rob you blind.”

CRACK Metal rang out against metal as he smashed a ball bearing at soldier trying to flank him. It struck and shattered the eye-covers on the gas mask. The soldier fell to the ground and clawed at his face.

“Blue said you’d be better than this.” Sleepwalker bounced the bearing off of one night stick, up and down. “But I guess you were expecting him to bust in with some shears, huh?” A blur of motion and the crack of metal against metal. Only her honed reflexes prevented the ball bearing from shattering her left shoulder. It flew into the dark.

Only to fly back to his hand, struck by a metal lash.

“I told you he would be here.” Lady Lash stepped from the shadows. “This one spent weeks tracking trucks, following movements, watching rest stops. This one is patient, he is.” One could almost hear the smile in her voice. “But, now, poor hero is alone with us little ladies, yes?” Black Sheep whirled her staff, waiting to parry any incoming projectiles. Lady Lash simply moved around Sleepwalker’s side, her lacerator making sparks as it struck the floor.

“Poor, maybe. But I never said I was alone…”

Before three of the Russian gangsters knew what happened, they fell to their knees, and then to the floor unconscious, with darts in the backs of their necks. The Starlight Sleuth stepped out of the shadow behind them, “Hope I’m not interrupting.”

“Nope, right on time.”

Blacksheep seethed. “Who are you, and where is Bluewolf?”

“He had a previous engagement, he sends his regards though,” the Mid-Night Man trained his dart gun on Blacksheep.

“That is a shame, темный один**, Blacksheep swung her staff at the Mid-Night Man, caught his hand with the crook, and sent his dart gun sliding across the concrete floor of the warehouse, “Kill them.”

Mid-Night Man and Sleepwalker barely dodged out of the way as a hail of bullets exploded from behind the van Sleepwalker drove in, “So, any bright ideas?

“I got one, can you get me a distraction?”

“I think so, hold tight,” the Starlight Sleuth leapt into the nearest shadow, popping back up behind the Russians. The shadows around the mobsters grew and enveloped them.

[“What the hell!”]*

[“How is this possible!?”]*

The Mid-Night Man returns to Sleepwalker’s side, “How’s that for a diversion?”

“Works for me,” Mid-Night Man could almost hear the smile in the Sleepwalker’s voice as he switched on the starlight lenses on his gas mask, and the two heroes went to work. A few baton shots and haymakers later, the darkness dissipated and the only people left standing were the two heroes. “Ok, that worked too well… ” Sleepwalker looked around, “Where are our female dancing partners?”

“We are right here,” the two heroes looked up toward the rafters, where Lady Lash and Blacksheep looked down on them. Black Sheep strutted like a proud hostess at a dinner party. “Did you really think it would be that easy?”

“Well,” the Mid-Night Man said with a smirk on his face, “kinda.”

“Unfortunately темный один**,” the glass of the warehouse’s skylight crashed around them as four Predator gun drones came through, “it will not be.”

“Oh crap.”

**from Russian meaning dark one
***translated from Russian

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