From an apartment’s window above a café they’d paid the owners to evacuate, Inez could see Mirabelle and Drew, their car perpendicular to that piece of crap the other team was in, perfectly clear. She needed a not-too-distant vantage point to control what was going on: close enough to provide cover fire to her team, far enough so that they wouldn’t see – well, she didn’t want to think of that. Just below her, the trio stepped out of their car, all their fists clenched. Inez didn’t know what kind of car any of them had so she’d been very particular when she pitched this plan to Mirabelle: Shay and I will look as close as we can at the driver and passenger’s faces. The first to spot it will text you. Shay had only nodded at her shoes as Mirabelle agreed.
When the car passed Shay had said nothing.
“Hello Lana.” Mirabelle’s proud voice carried down a street she’d paid to empty. “Hello . . . other ones.”
“Seriously?” The one with all the hair yelled. “You don’t know our names?”
“It’s Solana. Never Lana.” The blonde said, a bit spiffed.
“What? Who cares if I know your names?” Mirabelle asked, though at a distance Inez could see how offended The Hair was. Solana looked a little strong, a little sick, and Shay’s girl – Candy, Inez had learned – was stiff and distant. She had to know this was coming, Shay obviously warned her the night they brought Drew back from the hospital, but thanks to Inez there were no details she could’ve given that would help their team now.
Drew’s recovery period was definitely far from over, but she was anxious to get back out there as much as Mirabelle was thirsty for blood, so they’d pumped her full of painkillers and threw her into the field today wobbling like a half-sentient scarecrow. She was the team’s weak point and all seven girls knew it, but she was willing to take the risk and Mirabelle couldn’t refuse it.
“How did you track us down?” Candy asked, her voice haunted. Likely she thought Shay betrayed her, though Inez had no such luck – she found her the hard way.
“Well Inez, clever girl that she is, had this brilliant method–” Mirabelle began, but Drew cut in.
“Mira, they’ve got you monologuing.” She nodded towards three hands reaching for three guns.
“Oh! Fuckers!” She pulled out the gun rested on her hip. “Taking advantage of my natural desire to brag, I see.”
Yeah, it was a nightmare finding this girl: Inez appreciated the bragging. She took a guess that a black girl would want to live in a black community and started looking around her native neighborhood in Little Haiti – clearly Candy wasn’t Haitian, but it was a small enough community that anyone asking around would tip her off right away. So she dug through property records (but she rented and paid cash), public court information (never even a ticket, she probably didn’t own a car), and finally only had proof she lived in the neighborhood from a local BBQ place’s Facebook page – she was in the background of a singular 2015 outdoor event. From there she checked the Yelp RSVP list and matched every Yelp account to other social media sites. Only one came up empty, and she traced the IP address – she didn’t even have confirmation she was bombing the right house until she dug around in the girl’s family photos.
“You’re a monster.” Solana seethed. “You wired her house to blow! Have we showed up at your front door with a stack of bombs?”
“What, you thought you could get in my way without consequences? Fuck with my business for half a year, almost kill my girl – yeah, it’ll get personal.” Mirabelle said venomously. “But we did expect you to survive that. You wouldn’t be a very good gang if you didn’t. You see–”
“Mira! Monologuing!” Drew warned again. The Hair had taken a half-step back to the car. Inez clenched her remote tightly.
The remote wasn’t part of the plan. Not the one she gave Mirabelle. She’d checked in on her work every day, split between that and taking care of Drew in her guest room with bottles of drugs and piles of gauze. When Inez took a break to visit her Drew had demanded she reveal said plan by PowerPoint. Looking at her prone in bed, a mess of bandages, a pile of sweaty hair and a weak smile, she couldn’t refuse. Also because she didn’t know how to sign the word PowerPoint without spelling the whole thing out and knew it would feature heavily in eighty upcoming arguments if she turned Drew down.
“Is it set up right?” Mirabelle had asked her the next day. They were all crowded into the guest bedroom Drew was taking up with a projector that looked ‘borrowed’ from a local high school. Thanks to Mirabelle it was absolutely not set up right – Inez toyed with it for a few minutes until she got How We’ll Kill Those Meddlesome Kids displayed on the pristine white wall.
“Boo! You should’ve used the rainbow text.” Drew said. Shay, who had been immersed in her phone, snapped her head up in alarm, then eased. Inez moved onto the next slide.
- I already found them for you guys, you’re welcome
- It was a lot of work so if anyone wants to loudly congratulate me, buy me some flowers, that would be nice
- Literally all the hard work is done for you again you’re welcome
“Wow. Black Helvetica on a white background. You’ve really outdone yourself, Inez.” Drew commented. Shay said nothing. Mirabelle encouraged her to move on with an excited little wave like a dance recital mom. Inez switched to another slide, a map of the area in Little Haiti where Shay’s girl resided. There was a red X over her house. A street filled with local businesses was circled. She moved onto the third slide.
- Draw girls out – I know Mirabelle will have a fit if we just kill them with zero fanfare
- Which would be easier and way less risky but whatevs
- They’ll want to be near people (no matter who’s driving) so they’ll head to the circled spot on the map for the false sense of safety
- We’re gonna clear that bitch out!!!
“Okay, that’s promising.” Mirabelle smiled, and Inez moved back to the map and pointed to a crossroad.
You’ll park here and wait for them, she signed. Shay and I will keep lookout and let you know when we see them.
- Trap em
- Shay disables their ride from a sniping position (also suppression fire if we need it)
- The girls won’t put up a fight with Lana hurt so Mira and Drew, try your best to avoid the cover fire they let off when they try to haul ass out of there
- I will be nearby with my own gun: I won’t let them get far.
- Shoot em
- The End – PowerPoint By Inez Germain
“So I disable the car . . .” Shay began, but trailed off with uncertainty. Inez nodded.
You’re going to cut the fuel line with a shot, she signed with short, sharp movements, all conviction. Unfortunately the only good angle will be in this abandoned building.
She went back to the map and pointed to the building Shay would be placed in, a shuttered beer depot that was basically a small warehouse. She’d visited it already to take a look – there weren’t any windows on the first floor, and only a few small ones, all with bars on them, on the second, but Shay needed to be on higher ground to snipe anyway. Shay nodded uneasily, and Inez knew why: this wasn’t a task she could refuse, because Inez made it crucial. And she made it far from the rest of the girls, too far to help either side.
You need to be up on the second floor and you need to be extremely careful – she moved her hands forcefully to emphasize those words – on the old floorboards. We don’t need you crashing through.
“Alright, well, it’s been fun.” The Hair practically spat. Her fists were balled up, and Inez could see how stiff and tense the rest of her team was, especially Candy. “But we’re gonna drive off screaming now if that’s okay with you.”
Solana practically dove to the passenger door, and Candy and their driver moved with equal speed, but a dozen gunshots sounded out in a few seconds. Inez couldn’t hear it from the window she was observing from, but she could guess the girls were hearing the hiss of two leaking tires. The smell of gas would likely reach her soon – Shay actually had to shoot the ground beneath and hope for a ricochet. Getting it on the first try was lucky, but not for her, because now between Mirabelle’s smug look, Candy’s desperate terror, Drew’s out of focus glare, she had to press the button on that remote.
Eight days. Eight days she’d worked so hard formulating this plan, a way to find these girls and take them out without Shay rescuing her lady love. Without Mirabelle finding out about Shay’s secret or the fact that Inez knew all along. Eight days of work went into a PowerPoint, except for that remote, except for the drill it triggered. It was no accident that Shay needed to be in that decrepit building to disable the car: there was no way Inez could allow her to have a sniper rifle on the rest of the group while they murdered her crush in cold blood. Would she murder any of them? Not likely. But she could hurt someone, she could let the girls slip away and one day they’d return and destroy them all and fuck that, Inez was not letting any of her team lose any more to this trio.
She’d weakened an already rotting floor before they came today with a few well-placed cuts. Now one support beam was holding up an entire ceiling, so she set up the drill to take it out and send the whole thing crumbling down. It wouldn’t really hurt Shay – at worst she’d suffer a broken leg, though Inez was hoping against that – but she moved some lumber next to the door to become a pile of rubble sealing her in after the collapse and Shay would no longer be in a sniping position. Of course, she understood that Shay would be hurting after Candy’s death, but it was for the greater good and over time she would move on. It was better to nip this thing in the bud so they could all go back to normal.
So she hit the button on the remote and heard the most distant crash – so distant only Mirabelle and Candy seemed to notice, though the latter was smart enough not to turn her gaze away from an enemy, only raise her head questioningly. Mirabelle glanced up over The Hair’s – well, hair – to seemingly notice the lack of gun barrel in the window. When she looked back she was clearly troubled, but with the chance to kill her three biggest nuisances at her feet she couldn’t afford hesitation now. The worst for Inez was over. Now she just had to see things through and find out if Shay was alright later, when there’d be bodies in the street.
“Go!” Solana yelled, and Mirabelle and Drew ducked and rushed for cover as the trio ran and fired a few shots their way. Drew was a little slow to crouch behind the Maserati and a little slower to fire – they’d overdone it on the Vicodin. Inez just had to watch carefully. She raised her rifle the same time Solana grabbed Candy’s arm and pulled something from her purse.
“This is such a shit situation, but I have been waiting this moment for six long months.” She said with a manic glee on her face, and then Inez saw a grenade go flying and instinctively knew it wasn’t just a flashbang. She fired, but they were already running and she missed. The grenade soared through the air and flew directly into the passenger side’s open window of that crappy old car as Mirabelle rushed for cover. Drew pressed herself flatly against the road and the car exploded into a great orange fireball. There was a gust of heat and a plume of thick black smoke through which Inez could see nothing. She began to panic immediately – she couldn’t see if Mirabelle and Drew were alright, nor could she see if the other girls were making an escape. She heard glass smashing and pointed her gun across the road, but for a moment there was only strained, tense silence.
“We’re okay!” Drew yelled, probably unable to see Inez either. She sounded like she was still next to the car, and a moment later Inez heard a furious round of gunfire. She squinted through the smoke and knew the source came from the other side, even shot once through it though she didn’t want to open fire when she wasn’t certain of everyone’s positions. Drew and Mirabelle both fired back as the smoke began to clear and Inez saw the full extent of the damage.
That hunk of tin old car was still on fire, cooking quickly, and beside it the Maserati lost both its right side windows and the right side view mirror. The paint job was a mess of scratches from flying debris, but it would still function as a getaway vehicle. Drew was going to lose her mind though: she’d gotten really attached to that thing. Across the street, Inez saw the source of the broken glass in front of a local hardware shop and could tell the other girls had smashed a window. She spotted a swath of black hair hiding beneath a display table and fired, but just missed once again. Solana ducked from one table to behind the register’s counter and gunfire followed but didn’t strike. Mirabelle attempted to dart out and fire, but Solana shot at her feet and she retreated.
Great, another stand-off. At least Mirabelle and Drew had the advantage of a sniper. Inez peered into the building carefully and could see Solana whispering something to her friend, though she couldn’t tell what. She was only looking at one person though, and looking around Inez couldn’t spot Candy anywhere. She wasn’t in the hardware store, but surely she wouldn’t flat-leave her team, so Inez looked around. It was sunny out, and she scanned around for any moving shadows but found nothing. Drew looked up to her with uncertainty, and she gave the best reassuring nod she could from thirty meters away. There was a flurry of panic rising in her chest now as she looked around: where would she like to hide? Somewhere near, somewhere safe, somewhere with a vantage point?
Suddenly she realized: Shay had to have texted Candy and told her where she was by now. She was going to the warehouse. Inez glanced the slightest motion, someone trying to slip down an alley, and fired. She heard the scream even in the distance, and Drew and Mirabelle scrambled to their feet the same time Solana and the other girl jumped out and opened fire. For a moment Inez was hit with a nauseating wave of guilt, but she pushed past it quickly. Her own team (sans one) ducked and rushed behind the Maserati, then used the flaming old car that was practically dissolving at this point as cover while bullets still hurtled their way.
There was a moment’s pause as Mirabelle pulled Drew close to her, maybe to consider if they ought to run for the pair with cover or the wounded — maybe dead — girl alone. They seemed to decide that Candy wasn’t much of a threat and rushed towards the warehouse, and Inez fired at Solana again and again she ducked back. Suddenly, Drew whipped around and shot a single bullet, and Inez spotted Candy limping out of the shadows as a brick on the building behind her exploded into red dust. If Drew wasn’t high and her aim was better the girl would be dead.
Mirabelle and Drew abandoned the hardware shop and ran at Candy: Inez sensed that Mirabelle needed a win and Candy would be an easy one. Inez had shot her right in the center of her left calf, likely hitting the bone. The blood was already pouring from a neat little hole that was probably horrific to look at up close, and though Candy always came off as the tough one she just looked sick now, her skin tinged gray and beading with sweat. When she raised her empty palms in surrender it occurred to Inez that she hadn’t pulled her gun once.
“Wait!” She yelled, but Mirabelle raised her gun right between her eyes. “I have information!”
Mirabelle didn’t move the gun one bit, and instead of looking at her Candy looked up to Inez. It surprised her, but she also couldn’t help wonder how it felt to be this close to the woman she’d chased for so long only to jerk her head away – that had to take a lot.
“Hey Inez! You were in my house, right? You looked through my stuff?” She called out. Inez just stood there, a tiny bit flabbergasted. “So you saw I went to the University of Miami? You saw my criminology degree?”
Inez actually had seen that, mystified though she was, though she didn’t acknowledge it. Neither Mirabelle nor Drew glanced her way, smart enough not to take their eyes off the enemy. Candy looked back to Mirabelle and stared her down, though Inez felt she couldn’t see the desperation so far off.
“Had a couple classes with your fed. You spare us today and I give you some crucial information. Could save your life.” She said, and Mirabelle lowered her gun. Inez wanted to scream. It was a lie! She’d figured out so long ago that their agent wasn’t from around here, but Mirabelle seemingly didn’t know or was too blindsided by this revelation.
“How do you know we have a fed?” Mirabelle asked, so quiet Inez could barely make it out.
How do you know you can trust her?” Candy replied, her tone deadly, and Mirabelle’s hand fell to her side. Drew only moved to give her boss a sideways look of uncertainty. This was bad – she was going to sell her boss a lie! And get away! Inez trained her gun, her hands shaky.
“Maybe–” Mirabelle began, but if she stopped speaking or Inez stopped hearing it she didn’t know. They’d been distracted with Candy, too distracted to check up on Solana and her friend in the hardware store. Too distracted until Inez saw something small fly her way, spotted one blonde and one black and pink figure on the roof directly across hers. And then there was a flash of white and the loudest thing she’d ever heard and then nothing at all.