Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Playing With Fire - Chapter 10

Fiction Series: Playing With Fire - Chapter 10


“Miguel… no matter what, stay with me.” I signal for my team to follow my lead. I look down at my watch and begin to count down. I hear an explosion. My men pull down their masks. A second explosion is heard. This time it’s a little closer. We wait. 

Finally, there’s a third explosion. The door slides open. I thank God for Noelani in my head as smoke and gas fill the room. I don’t know how she did it but she equipped us with everything we needed to defend ourselves against Nuri’s security setup. I lead my team down a short corridor. We stop short in front of the door leading to the basement. I signal for Miguel to blow the lock. He does it effortlessly and steps back so that I can retake the lead. He follows me closely. 

We clear the rooms as we go. The gas has taken down most of Nuri’s men. Without the gas masks it’s impossible for them to put up any real defense. I wave my hand signaling for the team to split up and clear the basement rooms of any one standing that isn’t with us. After about sixty seconds gun shots cease. I walk through and do a head count. No casualties. 

My voice is muffled but I give direction. “You know the drill. Teams of two---bags, product, weapons… everything else burns.” I turn to make sure Miguel is still with me. “Show no mercy to any man on the ground.” Miguel nods and begins his walk through silencing anyone we missed and finishing off the wounded.  

I watch as my team begins to stack bags of cash and product by the exit. I look down at my watch. “Let’s go. We’re coming up on time.” 

“Cruz!” I hear Miguel shout my name from the room farthest away. I take caution as I make my way over. When I enter Miguel is standing in front of a door. “Yo, I think there’s someone in there.”

“That’s not our business.” I turn around to leave. “Time’s almost up.” Miguel doesn’t move. “Miguel, finish your assignment!” 

Miguel reaches into his vest and pulls out the backup explosive he’s been holding. “We can’t just leave ‘em in there.”

I think for a moment and then nod my head recognizing he isn’t going to back down. Miguel wrestles with the door for a moment and then the explosive is set off. The door jerks open revealing a cage. A woman is sitting in the corner severely bruised.

Miguel pauses and takes her in. “Gabby? Fuck.” Flustered, he fumbles with the chain holding the cage together. I push him out of the way. “Move.” I use my rifle and create an opening. I climb inside. She’s trembling. “Can you walk?” She looks at me through swollen eyes but doesn’t answer. “Dammit… here!” I shove my gun towards Miguel and offer my hands to her. She looks from me to Miguel uncertain. She reaches for me putting her arms around my neck. I lift her into my arms. “Let’s go. We’re out of time.” 

Miguel and I make our way back to the front. The team is waiting on us at the exit. “Back to the trucks!”


I look down at my watch as I hear the first explosion. I wait for the second explosion. I turn to check Isaiah’s mask. “You ready?” He nods his head at me. The second explosion shakes the ground beneath us. Without hesitation, Mario kicks in the front door. Nuri was clearly prepared for war. His men are all over the place. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t prepared for Noelani. I aim my pistol at one of Nuri’s men taking him out as he gasps for air attempting to fight off the gas. With Isaiah to my left and Mario to my right we make our way towards the stairs. The rest of the team fall in behind them. Pairing off back to back we take down every man standing who isn’t one of us. We clear the foyer and begin to ascend the stairs. The back of the line moves forward to begin leading the line as practiced.

The front man holds up his hand as he makes it to the top. It’s too quiet. I signal for Mario and Isaiah to remain where they are. I work my way pass the team to join my head of security at the top of the stairs. I look around. I see no one. I think for a moment and then shake my head. I signal for some of my men to follow me.  We quietly position ourselves in front of each door. On my signal they begin to let off rounds. Nuri’s men begin to fire back. Cowards. 

I signal to Mario. He nods his head running to my side. “Do it now.” My voice is muffled but he understands. 

Mario runs back and turns his brother around. He reaches into the backpack Isaiah is carrying taking out miniature flash bombs. We regroup at the first door on the hallway. I yield to Mario. He holds his hand up counting down from three. On one I kick the door in and he tosses in the flash bomb. We shield ourselves on either side of the door for a moment. My head of security steps in before my signal and someone inside raises a gun to the side of his head. Before I can react the trigger is pulled. I catch his body and use him as a shield taking out the gunman. I trade my pistol for my rifle and take out the first men I see. Mario steps in behind me clearing the rest of the room. I let my head of security fall to the floor. I step over him and survey the room. 

I point down the hall. The team, following Mario, go door to door using the remaining flash bombs in each of the rooms. 

Once clear we start working on the safes and computers. I go from room to room. “Check everything. Every book, every drawer, every photograph… I want everything.” I check my watch. “Fuck. You know what? Finish downloading, bag the safes and let’s get back to the trucks.” 

One man down and we’re out of time. I slam my fist into the wall. Cruz is never going to let me hear the end of this.


My fist is raised signaling for my team to hold their position. Everything is moving in slow motion. Suddenly, the first explosion goes off sending a surge of adrenaline through my body. I drop my hand and grip my pistol. We move as a unit through the back door. Confusion rushes through me. The halls are empty. As the other explosions go off I can hear gunshots and shouting in the distance. 

Nuri should have taken this route to get to his car but there’s no sign of him. As we round the corner I hear a familiar voice.

“Time’s up, Rique.”


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