Mirabelle took off away from the bridge, not entirely sure where she was going or what she was up to. She’d needed to get to the helm to demand a captain or something to help get them out of there, but now that that damned blonde was taking over she wasn’t sure where to go. She primarily wanted to escape the range of Solana’s gun and then conjure up some semblance of a plan, so she ran across the deck until she stumbled into a small plane and swore to herself. They’d even boarded the ship the same way her girls did.
A helicopter flew overhead – Miami-Dade police, not her sight-seeing variety – and she waved her gun to make it clear they were armed. Hopefully they would step back and treat it as a hostage situation instead of storming in and ruining the whole plan before it ever got off the ground. When she wasn’t immediately sniped she assumed her prayers were answered, but still knew she was in danger and had to move.
“Mira, do you want me in the boiler room or what?” Drew’s voice came from her pocket, and Mirabelle fished out the walkie-talkie.
“No.” She said with a great deal of forced calm. “Stay where you are.”
“Mirabelle, Inez is really insistent.” Drew spoke again after a moment. “I told her it was probably a run of the mill emo but she swears she was holding a gun.”
“Yeah.” Mirabelle said distantly as she tried to think.
“What does that mean?” Drew asked. “Are you on the bridge?”
“Uh, no. Solana’s there.” She said, and spoke over whatever remarks she had. “Listen, we don’t have time for a full-scale war right now. We need to get this ship out into the water where security won’t be such a pain.”
“Holy fuck, what? You want us to heist around our three greatest enemies?” Drew asked skeptically. Though Mirabelle was slightly out of it in her confusion, the lack of panic in her voice calmed her to some small degree. “And just how are we supposed to do that?”
As if she had an answer. She hesitated a moment before asking a question she deemed more important for a moment: “How’s Inez looking?”
“Like she’s an inch from a heart attack.” Drew answered. “And very glum as well. She’s too busy wringing her hands to say anything.”
“Okay. It’ll be alright, Inez.” Mirabelle said slowly as she tried to kick her brain into working. The ship shuttered beneath her – the engines were running, and they seemed to be full blast. “Solana got them to turn the engines on, so Candy must be in the boiler room.”
“Should someone . . .” Drew trailed off awkwardly. Mirabelle understood.
“No, I need you down at the very bottom of the ship where they’re loading up: we’re going to pull away any minute so all that needs to be stopped.” She tried to sound more certain than she felt. “Inez, I need you with me, we’re going to have to intimidate someone out of the bridge or the engine room stat.”
There was a pause, seemingly as Drew was reading something Inez was saying. After a moment she responded: “We don’t know where Elvira is, I could be a sitting duck.”
“Meet me in the casino.” Mirabelle decided. “There’s cover and she’ll stick out like a sore thumb.”
“Gotcha, we’re moving.” Drew said, and Mirabelle took a breath. Inez was off her game not suggesting the casino immediately, and it was pretty obvious the rest of them were, too. But this was a do or die situation, so she could only raise her pistol and run down stairs with a very ugly carpet pattern and make her way to the casino. She was close and upon arrival saw that nothing had been turned on yet: the machines sat dull and devoid of lights like hokey plastic gravestones. A shiver went down her spine as she kept her gun drawn: Elvira would have been harder to spot in this area than expected.
There had to be some way of getting that trio off their ship without flat out murdering them. Maybe she was a bit soft for not wanting to, even when she’d told Shay she’d do what she had to do, but here and now she felt some hesitation. It had to be for Shay’s sake, though, because of course after all these months with three thorns in her side they had to show up during what was meant to be the final move against them. And of course they had to be stealing the same ship at the same time – she couldn’t tell if she ought to be angry at herself for picking an obvious target or impressed with everyone’s planning. Begrudgingly, she chose the latter.
She saw a figure near the entrance and started for a second until she recognized Inez and lowered her gun. When she beckoned the girl over she looked professional as ever; her thick hair twisted into a bun, her black turtleneck and leggings tight to avoid snags but flexible enough for movement, her sneakers soundless on the shiny linoleum floor. All four of them had dressed alike and no doubt all four of them had the same barely restrained miserable look on their faces. Inez made her way over and crouched amidst the slot machines with her, her eyes constantly scanning the room for security. Mirabelle lifted her gun so Inez could pocket hers and speak.
What’s the plan? She signed quickly.
“I don’t know, I thought you were the one with all the brains.” Mirabelle griped, and Inez gave her a lifeless look that may have had an attempt to smile in there somewhere. “They’ve completely commandeered this heist, we need to get back in the lead.”
We need to be in control of the captain, Inez replied. So we need to depose blondie.
“Easier signed than done.” Mirabelle said thoughtfully. “Solana’s on the bridge, Candy’s down in the engines with the bulk of the crew, Elvira’s skulking around somewhere. If the two of us can overpower one of them and lock her in a room somewhere we can–”
The other two won’t leave with one of their own on the ship we’re stealing, Inez pointed out swiftly. That was true. Mirabelle sighed. And if we kill any of them they’re going to slaughter all of us.
“We have Shay.” Mirabelle mumbled to herself, but Inez shook her head.
If we take one of them out and they get to one of us before we can explain, before we can make that threat . . . Inez trailed off, clearly queasy, and Mirabelle raised a hand to make her stop. The point was clear: none of them could understand Inez, so her life depending on her words was not the brightest idea and never one Mirabelle would accept. She decided to make that her official No Murder reason for the time being and cleared her head of any other softness.
“What if we throw one overboard?” She asked, and Inez looked skeptical. “I don’t know! I’m just saying if they’re off the boat they’re not an issue anymore.”
The water is warm, Inez mused, then pointed over Mirabelle’s shoulder. Mirabelle turned and fired, and the guard swore and ducked behind a corinthian-style pillar. Another came from nowhere, gun pointed straight at them, and Mirabelle shot him down.
“Three entrances. It’ll be difficult for them to surround us.” She said, but knew they couldn’t stay still for long. “Who do you think we can overpower?”
Candy, Inez answered quickly, but the hesitation was clear on her face. Mirabelle understood: that was Shay’s girlfriend, after all. She bit her lip.
“We don’t know where Elvira is and Solana’s where we need to be. Let’s go for her.” She said, and a shot sounded out and cracked the facade of a nearby game. She fired back and struck, sending the guard crashing into a blackjack table. When she looked around for any other guards and found none for the moment she began to move, only to catch a skeptical look from Inez. “Do you have any other ideas? No? Then let’s get on with it!”
Inez said nothing, only picked up her gun and followed Mirabelle through the casino and into a lounge she’d passed through coming in. She’d hoped for at least a moment of peace, but heard a loud “FUCK!” and nearly slid on the linoleum to turn and find Elvira ducking behind the bar. She fired once and knocked over a laminated drink menu, and Inez tried to pull her along as two shots responded and damaged the grand piano. She wrenched her arm free and stopped where she stood.
“Should we grab this one?” She asked, and a bullet whizzed by her and into the wall behind. Elvira hadn’t even popped her head up, which was, like most of the terrorizing this other group had done, begrudgingly impressive. Inez gave her a cautious look of doubt and tucked her gun away for a moment.
Do you actually want to? She asked, and Mirabelle hesitated.
“You’re right.” She said solemnly. “Solana’s on the bridge, that’s more important.”
“Like hell!” Elvira jumped up and Mirabelle ducked. This time when Inez grabbed her arm she ran right with her. Elvira was on their tails, swearing in Spanish and hailing bullets all around them. Mirabelle ran in a panic: Inez couldn’t really talk right now, so she was on her own in figuring out how to not get murdered. They flew past the stairs and down a corridor, slammed open a set of double doors and – an amphitheater. Dead end.
Mirabelle turned and raised her gun, and though Inez turned back she didn’t level hers. Elvira slid on the linoleum and stopped a moment, stared at them plainly. There was a long pause as they all stared at each other, breathing hard. Then Elvira turned on her heel and ran, and Mirabelle and Inez just watched her go.
She’s going to Solana, Inez signed as she slammed back through the double doors and disappeared.
“We won’t be able to take down both of them when they have cover and we’re scrambling along the deck.” Mirabelle said, and Inez looked down at her feet. “Fuck. What do we do?”
“Jefe, we have so many problems down here.” Mirabelle’s walkie crackled, and Mirabelle groaned and pulled it from her pocket. “Police are swarming. SWAT, Miami-Dade, firefighters, first responders, the feds, you name it.”
“Is the cargo bay secure?” She asked but feared the answer.
“Only for now and it’s absolute pandemonium. I watched a guy drop like 500 eggs before, it was crazy. Hilarious, but crazy.” Drew said with noted alarm. “I got all the doors sealed but there are still people on who want off, security’s swarming – if we started moving it would be a non-issue, but right now cops are walking right up and I keep having to cry hostage to move ‘em back.”
“I have no idea why we aren’t.” Mirabelle said. Maybe Solana was having trouble finding a chauffeur. “Are you in danger?”
“So much, yes.” Drew said immediately, and Mirabelle’s heart almost had a full shut down. “But if I leave the hull will be breached by all these fucking cops.”
“Get out of there.” Mirabelle demanded, then thought a moment. “We just need to float the hell out of here, and Solana’s the one keeping us from that. Run up to the deck, the three of us can take out her and Elvira.”
“Ya sure about that?” Drew asked warily, and Mirabelle frowned. “As soon as I leave people are gonna reopen the doors. Once police realize there’s no active threat they’ll board. And then what? How are we gonna convince Solana and Elvira to get out of our way?”
“How do we convince anyone to do anything?” Mirabelle spoke a bit too sharply. “We all have a gun, let’s finish this.”
She stuck the walkie back in her pocket with the knowledge that Drew wouldn’t reply, her hands shaky and her head starting to ache. Inez reached out tentatively and put a hand on her shoulder, and Mirabelle shut her eyes for a moment. This was exhausting and going far worse than she’d anticipated.
“We were doomed from the start.” She said. Inez was obviously silent, but she could feel her agreement. “I wish Shay were here.”
She opened her eyes to see Inez nod. She’d agreed to the plan they all made together, cautious and anxious though she was, but she put up her hands now and signed quickly, with her eyes down: we fucked up.
“Yeah.” Mirabelle sighed. “Yeah, I’ve got a feeling deep in my gut that we’re leaning a little evil here.”
That’s called unhappiness, boss, Inez signed. And I think we’re all feeling it.
Mirabelle nodded to herself. It had been this way too long – she just kept upping the ante and trapping both gangs in these insane, no way out situations. But still she could see no escape. Inez, with that damned intuition of hers, gave Mirabelle the most firm look she’d managed in ages.
Do you really want to go up and kill those girls right now? She asked. Do you of all people want to get rid of such fantastic competition?
“They are talented.” Mirabelle relented with a snort. “It would be a shame to rid the criminal world of that.”
But if she didn’t make a move now her girls would be endangered, her home town would be lost to her forever, and most importantly, she would be a loser. She’d gone so far and done too much to go out like that.
“Let’s get to the deck so Drew isn’t waiting on us.” She said after a moment, and Inez’ hands shook as she pulled out her gun and nodded. Mirabelle looked her up and down – she was all nerves, all doubt, all guilt. She reached out and smoothed a fly-away that refused to join the rest of Inez’ bun. “You girls are always going to be my first priority, okay? Even if I’m not the best den mother out there.”
A flash of fear moved across her face, but then she nodded. Things were falling to shit, but Mirabelle hoped her care trumped her occasional foolhardiness, just as she’d hoped with Shay that morning. Without another word they circled back to the stairs and climbed up until they reached the open air, salty and not as soothing as Mirabelle had hoped. She spotted Drew in a flash as she ran over from another stairwell, her face a careful mask that failed to hide her reservations.
“What’s the plan?” She asked, and Mirabelle did her very best not to shrug. She only led them along the deck, past the little plane, and towards the bridge, at which point she held her gun ready. The others did the same, none of them confidently, and Mirabelle took a deep breath and tried to steady herself.
“We’ll rush the room and open fire. I don’t care who gets hit as long as they’re down.” She said quietly. Inez looked sick and Drew seemed out of it, but they both nodded. “Let’s stow the feelings and be done with this.”
She ran to the doorway, lifted her gun, and immediately met eyes with Candy. Drew and Inez, behind, fired off a few rounds each that seemed – if she were in an accusatory mood – purposefully high. Solana was up front speaking with a group of men, Elvira had her gun trained at the door they stood at the whole time, and Candy was just standing there, very out of place. All six of them stared at each other.
“I thought you were with the crew downstairs.” Mirabelle finally said to Candy, who shrugged.
“Solana wanted me up here. They’re managed downstairs, not so much with the roomful of guys who’ve apparently had piracy drills once a week for the past decade.” She said, and Solana looked very sour from where she stood with the sailors. That wasn’t something Mirabelle had considered, and she guessed the other team hadn’t either.
“You guys here to kill us?” Elvira asked dryly. “At this point I’m almost okay with it.”
“Why are you grumbling?” Solana snapped at her. “This was your idea!”
“A very bad one.” Drew said. “Damn, let’s all sit down again.”
“No, no, we are not sitting down.” Mirabelle grabbed her by the arm as she began to lower. “We’re in too much a bind here. The ship is not secured, we need to start moving.”
“The ship would be secured if your team didn’t keep getting in our way.” Solana said sharply, very clearly stressed. “Please tell me you at least have Shay watching the cargo bay.”
“Did you guys leave your phones? She’s not texting me back.” Candy said, and everyone looked everywhere but at her. “Well that can only mean good things.”
Who wants to tell her? Inez signed flatly. Candy looked at her sharply.
“I got ‘tell’ and ‘her.’ Tell me what?” Candy asked. Inez looked taken aback.
We kidnapped your girlfriend, Inez signed, and Mirabelle swatted her hands even though Candy was clearly drawing a blank on this one.
“Uh – we may have uh – we may have put Shay elsewhere for just this one heist.” Mirabelle said. She’d never felt so sheepish – Solana even gave her an odd look for it. Candy stared at her for a very long moment, processing, until the sound of a helicopter loomed over their heads. “Yeah. It was over the line. Little too evil. My bad.”
“Yeah.” Candy said, then sucked in a massive breath. “Okay, I’m pissed, but that’s definitely a cop with a sniper rifle. We need to start moving and you guys are in the way. Which one of us is leaving?”
“That’s your fucking retort to your girlfriend getting kidnapped by her own gang?” Elvira yelled. “You’re Candy Caldera, you’re supposed to be kicking ass right now!”
“Love has made me a soft little idiot, now let me be!” Candy shot back, but Mirabelle knew it was really mercy she was shown, not softness. Candy had grown exponentially, and she’d grown kinder towards her girlfriend’s gang.
“We’re not leaving.” Mirabelle said suddenly. “Solana, why isn’t the ship moving?”
“Because no one’s moving it for me.” She crossed her arms. “We keep talking and talking and getting nowhere. I should’ve realized we’re dealing with sailors here, hardened by the damn sea!”
This is where we could’ve used Shay, Inez signed frankly.
“Yeah, why are you trying diplomacy when you usually just kick everyone’s shit in?” Drew asked. She had a point, but Solana only balked.
“They’re civilians! What the hell am I supposed to do?” She asked, and she had a point as well. Mirabelle waved a hand.
“Then let’s take a break from your way or Shay’s way.” Mirabelle pointed to Inez, who responded with a wicked grin. “Hey Brains, let’s try your way.”
Inez stepped up to the helm, looked around, and started playing with the switches. One of the sailors started biting his nails, and Mirabelle threw a smirk Solana’s way. If they didn’t leave at least they’d have an amusing time smashing into something. The helicopter passed over again, and Inez shifted nervously.
“Wait a minute, we didn’t agree to backing down.” Elvira said, and Candy rolled her eyes.
“Clearly we’re not.” She said, and gave Mirabelle a confident look, nearly encouraging. Mirabelle hadn’t gotten one of those in a long while, and felt some power rise in her, buzz in her chest like electricity.
“No, no one’s backing down. We have to steal this ship, and there’s only one way to do it.” Mirabelle looked between them all. “Together.”
They stared back at her for what she hoped wasn’t too long a moment. Maybe some of them were contemplating murder, the rest the looney bin. She wasn’t quite certain until Elvira lowered her gun.
“Okay.” She said, with a sudden, devilish smile. “What’s the plan?”