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Hermosa Beach,
California


He reverently polished his car. Rubbing gentle circular strokes across the hood of the car revealed a great love for the corvette!

Two women sitting across the way are enjoying the view! "If he makes love the way he treats that car, oh mama!"

Hey, I found him first!" the other yells. "Mmmmm yes!" They sigh in unison.

"I wonder who he is," the first woman says.

"Have no idea!" the second answers. And they both sigh again as Matt stretches smiling at the results of his hard work, the car sparkles in the sunlight!

"Oh no he's finished, let's leave before he sees us," the first squeaks at her friend, the two women turn away facing toward the beach.

Matt noticed the young ladies as they turn back to the beach. He smiles as he catches the blush on there cheeks. "Way too young!" he mumbles. Picking up his gear he heads in to the Silver Star Hotel. He stops as he hears the sound of a Harley coming closer.

He watches as the Big Dog gets parked close to his Corvette. "Watch it friend, just cleaned it!" He greets his friend in a quasi-angry voice.

Benny Ray takes his helmet off, "Yes Major the world knows! There was talk off a new sun near the sea, but I told them it was just you cleaning that thing again!"

Matt tosses the cloth at Benny Ray who neatly catches it tossing it back. They laugh as they walk into the hotel.

As they are walking into the kitchen, the phone rings. "Shepherd!" Matt states picking up the phone. Benny Ray continues walking checking to see if any one else is around.

Spotting CJ behind a computer in the ops room. "Hi mate," he hears as the Englishman greets him a big smile on his face.

As Benny Ray steps closer he sees CJ closing a window in the screen. "Who were you talking with?" Benny Ray asks leaning against the desk behind CJ. "Just a friend!" he states and turns to face the sniper.

"Just a friend?" Benny Ray repeats, testing the words on his tongue. "Not very likely or was it Nicole?" CJ looks caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

CJ sighs and gets up from the desk, "It was private Benny Ray, it's 5 years ago that she and Danny got married! She needed to talk to me about something, that's all. She did say she was going to call you later!"

Benny Ray shakes his head his thoughts on the young widow. "Is she still in Japan?" he asks CJ. "Yeah and looking to buy a small apartment too! Since she's in Japan a lot, she was thinking of moving there!" Benny Ray mulls over this information in his head.

Seconds later Chance walks in all sweaty and sandy! Chance flashes Benny Ray several small scraps of paper, "I've got myself a couple of dates for the weekend!" he crows triumphantly, raising his arms in joy!

"Yeah, you are the man!" Benny Ray laughs giving him a high five. "Any one of those for me amigo," he asks?

Chance looks at the southern man, "Sorry Amigo you'll have to get your own this time! The beach is filled women!" He tells his friend.

CJ breaks in on the conversation. "Those chicks are just waiting for some TLC, and some nice bloke like me to rub suntan lotion on their backs! Hhhmmmm maybe I should go and give them what they need!!" He grins wide and the guys laugh.

"Let's wash up and get ready to pick up Margo from the mall! We are taking the suburban cos, the lady has been shopping!" Matt tells the team. They groan at the word "shopping".

"We are going to have to add a special room on the Hotel, for all her "shopping trips!" CJ chuckles.

Matt looks at him a huge smile on his face, "We're leaving in an hour! Whoever's late is buying dinner!"

Matt looks at Benny Ray, his face still frowning. "Are you ok?" Matt asks with concern in his voice, putting a hand on the snipers shoulder.

"Yeah, sure, why not?" he gets in return.

"Nothing, just a question!" Matt says and walks out behind them up the stairs. Listening as Chance brags about his dates and CJ complaining about not having one!

The Shopping Mall

Margo stands in thought trying to decide on a silk blouse in powder blue or a soft shell pink. She holds them in front off her glancing in the mirror. The young sales lady, seeing the multitude of bags from other stores was thinking about the bonus she could collect if she could persuade the lady to take them both!

"Good thing I gave Matt an hour to come and get me!" Margo thought, "At least now I have the time to look some more!" She smiles thinking about the last time she went shopping. The guys had to drag her out of the store - she had kept them waiting for 45 minutes! Shaking her head, the memory fades as she looks in the mirror again. Deciding on the pink one she turns to the counter. The young sales lady is smiling pleasantly. "This one Ma'am?" Starting to fold the blouse the salesclerk says, "Very nice color, and an excellent brand too!"

Margo looks at her and takes her credit card out. "I know, thank you!"

As the sales lady is doing the paperwork, Margo sees motion out of the corner off her eye. People outside are running and panicking. Several fall and run over each other.
"Quick, dial 911!" Margo yells over her shoulder. The sales woman hesitates walking over to the window to see why she needed to call.

Two men dressed in black coveralls and ski masks walk into the store holding Uzi's!
One walks toward the register coming back he says to the other, "this is all there is."

Margo and the sales woman are motioned out of the store. "Get with the others," the larger of the two barks pushing them roughly. They have no alternative and walk out of the store.

In the square in the middle off the mall, several people are gathered. The men are separated from the women, and some of the ladies are whimpering in terror! Margo and Denise, the sales woman according to her nametag are pushed toward the female group as shots are heard from down the mall.

Panic starts again and a man on the balcony above the square starts talking his voice booming over the wailing racket. "As you may have guessed, this is a stick up!" He laughs pauses for a moment looking over the people below huddled below him. "Please be calm and stay quiet, and you will survive long enough to see the world again! My men are armed and willing to shoot!" Margo looks around and sees another group coming into the mall, carrying crates and blowtorches. They walk to the jewelry store and she sees the men grabbing jewelry from the display cases.

One man stands up protesting.
A single shot is heard and the man drops to the floor - dead. Ladies scream and men gasp in horror at the unwarranted death "Remember what I've said, just stay calm, sit down, and don't interfere." The voice from above tells them.

Margo is counting the number of men she. Ten are guarding the groups and at least thirty more are walking in an out the stores, carrying cash and other items. A new small group arrives reporting to the man at the top of the stairs. He nods at the group, carrying blowtorches and other gear they head for the central safe!

Margo peaks on her watch and sees that her team was due to arrive at any minute.

His voice rings out again saying, "Please remove all watches, rings and earrings," giving them to the nice man. Approaching the group a man holding black velvet bag moves among them. The first lady he sees is scared and can't comply. The woman is shaking and doesn't seem to have heard the person! She gets a "little help" from the man in black as he slaps her hard across the face.

Margo jumps up kicking him in the knee. Denise screams as she sees Margo kicking the man. He falls down and Margo feels a barrel in her neck. "Sit down!" a voice hisses, "Or get down for good!"

"Please miss!" Denise begs Margo to do as she's told but Margo is reluctant, glaring at the man as she slowly does his bidding. Staring at the men in front of her she tells them, "You better watch how you treat these people, a horse listens to a gentle hand!" O darn, a BR ism flashes through her mind.

The barrel in her neck pushes harder, "just sit and you might stay pretty!" the voice whispers.

CJ drives the suburban into the parking lot at the shopping mall. "This is bizarre, lots of cars but no people!" he says looking around.

Chance sitting beside him scans the area. "This is very weird," he says and looks at Matt.

"Let's park the truck I think we need to do a little recon." Matt orders. Chance and Benny Ray reach under the seat, getting the guns out and ammo in place.

Matt dials Trout. "Trout we need info on the shopping mall on Santa Monica Blvd. Lots of cars but no people! Alert the cops to check it out please, we are going in to take a closer look."

Trout doesn't waste a minute and starts making calls around town.

The team is behind the suburban getting into climbing gear. "Use the drain pipes to get on top! Only recon, no contact till we know what's going on!" Matt orders, as the team gets ready to go. Comlinks in place, guns ready and loaded they move toward the building.

Several minutes later Matt hears, "Blue in place, Benny Ray says! Red in position, CJ reports! Black on top, Chance states!"

"Good, we keep it low and slow!" He tells them.

Moving on their belly they crawl to the skylight running through the middle of the mall. "I have a visual Sir! Benny Ray says.

"Go" Matt replies.

"Ten hostiles with Uzi's, approximately 100 hostages seated on the floor, one hostile standing on the second floor above the hostages. Several more tango's are moving in and out of the stores."

"Roger!"

"Confirm Sir," CJ states.

"I have men working on a big vault, Sir. Blowtorches the works!" Chance states.

After softly swearing beneath his breath Matt asks, "Any sign off Margo?"

"Black here, negative Major!"

"Blue here, negative Sir!"

"Red, bingo Major!" CJ states, "She's right below my position raising hell with a tango! I like her style!" he comments as he sees the man go down after her kick to his knee!

"Roger" Matt smiles, "that's our Margo!" In the distance, sirens can be heard, coming closer!

"Are we staying?" Benny Ray asks.

"Negative Benny Ray, pull out and head for the suburban!" Matt orders.

"Red? Are you packing?" Matt asks.

"Roger that mate," CJ says rubbing his hand together, thinking about the possibility of blowing something up.

"I've got a camera in place Sir," CJ says putting the final touches to the minicam on top of the building. With one last glance through the skylight CJ backs away.

"We should have visual in the van!" He tells Matt.

"Good. Move out people." Matt states. Moving silently the team repels down to the parking lot below as Trout pulls up.

Main Concourse

Margo is looking around catching site of a shadow on the rooftop! The face peering through the glass looked like CJ!!

With sigh of relief, pent up tension is released knowing her team was in place. Beside her Denise looks us asking between trembling lips, "What? Did you see something?"

"No nothing!" Margo tells her, "Just a bit of Yoga, to keep calm!" she smiles a thin smile at the young woman.

Denise wiggles, "I need to use a ladies room!" she is half crying. A woman behind her says, "Don't make trouble and stay still!" Margo takes the young woman by the shoulder, "Listen, I will ask ok, you just stay calm!" A half dozen Uzi's swing her way as she steps up to a guard. "My friend here would like to use the ladies room if that's possible?" She asks keeping her voice soft and low.

She hears a radio crackling, "What does she want?" A harsh voice asks.

"She asks for permission to go to the ladies room, sir!" Margo caught the "sir" said with respect as she stands waiting for an answer. The radio clicks again, "Go ahead," he answers, "take a few men as guards and cover them, when their finished bring them back the same way."

"Thank you," Margo smiles, as the guard takes her back to the other women. "Any one needing to use the bathroom?" Margo softly asks? A few elderly ladies stand up slowly. "I need to go," one says her voice trembling, "and I need to take my medication."

Margo nods and signals the women to come forward. "This man will take you to the restroom, just try to stay calm and everything will be alright!" Her voice carries some authority and the ladies are put at ease.

In the parking, Matt and the team are in the suburban, looking at what ever the minicam can pick up. Trout watches the little screen seeing what Margo is up to.

"What is that in the left corner?" Matt asks pointing to a spot on the screen. It looked like a dark splotch on the floor.

"Just a minute and we'll find out!" CJ says, hitting some keys on the computer. They all watch as the little camera changes position and moves in, the picture getting clearer.

"That's blood!" Trout says and as the video sharpens, seeing the body of the jeweler a few feet away.

"They drew First Blood, Major," Benny Ray growls low in his throat.

A knocks on the door of the van reveals a police officer wanting to know what was gong on. Trout gets out and Matt leaves it up the NSC man to explain their presence.

The police officer starts growling telling Trout that a SWAT team is en route and that further operations will be run by the SWAT commander.

Trout says yes, but his eyes say no! He had already explained it to the officer a team member was inside being held hostage. This team was going in!

The officer tells Trout to sit tight; the SWAT commander would make the call.

Trout steps back into the suburban finding the team ready to go back up. He watches as they holster weapons and slide knives into hidden pockets.

"Dressed to kill! No walk in the park on this one Matt!"

Matt smiled grimly, "These people are shooting to kill, we already have one hostage down, I want my team to be prepared for anything!"

Trout nods tapping Matt" chest, "Trauma plates are in place. What is your plan," Trout asks?

CJ has frozen a picture on the camera. "That is our ingress!" Matt tells Trout "And we go down from there!" Trout nods, "I will try to keep SWAT out of your way!"

"I suggest you succeed, or we'll end up shooting each other!" Matt tells him.

"Can we get some smokers or teargas from SWAT?" CJ asks Matt.

"Negative CJ, might cause more problems than we can deal with, hostages will panic and so will the Tango's, beside, I doubt SWAT is going to appreciate our going in without them, they are not going to be too willing to offer up supplies. Trout you stay here and monitor the situation!"

"Roger that Matt, Trout replies taking up a seat behind the computer. CJ give him a quick briefing on how to maneuver the little camera.

"All right people move out!" Matt orders.

The door of the van swings opens as Matt and his team start moving toward the building.

The SWAT team commander yells as he sees them sprinting across the parking lot.

"Hey, Where do you think you are going and who the hell are you?"

Chance turns around and whispers, "We're the things that go bump in the night, the ones your mama warned you about!

The SWAT commander shivers at the sound of the dark man voice. Chance looks closely at him and walks on. "I have a team member to collect"

Trout chuckles and walks up to the SWAT captain, "They are a trifle rude and their manners could use a little polishing, but they are the best at what they do. Let me inform you of our plans!" Taking the man by the arm Trout leads him back to the van.

"We need snipers here and here!" Trout says pointing to the screen, the captain grumbled loudly but knew he had no choice but to agree with Trout plan.

"How will we know when to move in?"

Trout smiles, "Oh, you'll know!" Over the com link, they hear, Blue in position, Black here in position, Roger, Gold in position," Matt answers.

Trout chuckles, "Matt good as Gold? That will be the day!" Trout knew each member of the team was stationed at a fire escape.

"Red, Are you in position?"

At the same time, all hell breaks loose as the alarms go off.

"Bloody hell I had the one with the alarm!" CJ says his voice portraying his anger.

"Move now!" Matt orders as the team moves in.

On the square the people are looking frighten as the alarm go off. Margo smiles, her team was coming in! Denise sees the smile, "Anyone you know?" She whispers. "Mmmmm could be!" Margo answers. She can hear the Uzi's fire and the MP5K-PDW return the favor!

Seeing the guards attention elsewhere, Margo kicks out catching the tango in the stomach. He goes down hard as his partner grabs Margo putting his weapon to her head.

Margo is dragged upstairs to face the tango's leader. "Who are you," he asks?

"I could ask you the same thing." Margo replies. The man in front of her smiles, his thin lips turning upward beneath the ski mask. The rest of his face is covered beneath the knit ski mask, but beads of sweat are visible on his upper lip.

"A bit to much ha?" Margo says pointing to the mask.

The man smiles again, "You have a sense of humor, I like that, to bad we are not going to get to enjoy it much longer!" He spits.

"Oh Why not?" Margo asks innocently.

"You beautiful lady are my ticket out off here!" the mystery man tells her.

"Get me a blowtorch and the other girl who was with her!" he orders.

As Matt reaches the center off the complex on the top floor, he sees Margo tied to a chair and a man holding a burning blowtorch close to her face.

Margo and the tango are on a small platform above the others. "Whoever you are, drop your weapons right now!" The man yells.

Matt speaks into his comlink, "Blue, are you near the square?"

"Roger sir, on your left!" Matt takes a peek around a dressed mannequin seeing Benny Ray lying on the floor.

"Do you have him in sight?" He asks.

"Negative Sir, Margo's head is blocking the shot can't risk it!"

"That is not what I needed to hear!" Matt mumbles. "Black report?"

"Two o'clock Major!"

Matt looks to his right across the platform. "Can you take him?" He asks.

"I could sir, but where the blow torch is too close, the shot could throw it directly into her face! I don't like the odds."

"Neither do I!" Matt growls.

Outside Trout signals to the SWAT team captain. "They are in, but the tangos are hiding in the crowd!" The captain nods and at the same moment Trout's comlink gets a signal.

"Trout, we could use SWAT in here. Ask the commander to send them through the revolving doors we need a diversion!"

"Roger that Gold will do!" Trout replies.

"Ok people, listen up, we can expect company from the cops, we need to move when they start come through the door!" Matt peeks around the corner again and sees his team moving closer to the platform. Using every bit of cover, they crawl up to the edge.
CJ is taking cover behind a stand with pink and blue bras as his cover. Chance was behind a leather couch situated in the corridor! Matt was next to a drugstore sitting beside a lipstick counter.
The leader motions his men over telling them to take the money and the crates to the truck and load them up.

The tangos had targeted the most expensive and exclusive stores in the mall. The vault in the main office was now empty. As the SWAT tem hits the entrance, most of the stores had already been cleaned out.

The front window shatters as gas and smoke canisters come flying into the main concourse. The hostages panic running toward the far end away from the doors. Massive panic erupts as the tangos begin firing blindly through the smoke. Disorganized, they begin to run toward the far side of the mall, where still more SWAT officers lay waiting.

The leader steps forward yelling to his men to stand fast and fire. That's when Benny Ray takes the shot.

The blowtorch goes flying and Denise screams in terror as she gets covered in blood!
Margo rocks her chair sideways sending it to the floor so the team has a clear field of fire!

A few minutes later silence reins, she can hear them say, " Blue clear, Red clear, Black clear, Gold clear!"

Trout smiles, as he sees Matt run toward Margo! She's all right. The woman behind her is hysterical but unharmed! "Trout we're coming out, Matt reports."

Five minutes later, the entire team is standing next to the van. "So Miss Vincent, planning on any more shopping trips?" Trout asks her.

Her face goes dark, "My bags, she groans they're still in the store!"

They hear a woman yell, "Miss oh miss, you forgot your bags and credit card!"
Denise is running toward them holding all of Margo's bags in her hands. As Benny Ray sees the bags he says, "I should have brought the truck too!"
He gets a smack on his arm from Margo.

"That's gratitude for ya," Benny Ray says grinning! "I will remember."

Margo grins back at him as she walks to meet Denise. "Thanks for this!" Margo says, "I was afraid SWAT might have gotten hold of them!" Denise smiles, relieved to be out off the mall, "I'm never going back there!" she tells Margo, "I quit!"

Margo laughs and Denise leans toward Margo. "And tell your friends thank you from me!" she says and turns to talk to the policeman who is waiting behind her.

Matt watches her leave and walks toward Margo, "What was that all about?" He asks looking at the young lady walking away.

"She is nice but a bit young don't you think Matt!" Margo grins at him seeing the look on his face. "She wanted me to thank you."

Together they walk back to the suburban. Trout stands leaning against the side of van getting ready to leave. "Well Matt, it was fun while it lasted but I have a diner date with my wife and daughter! So Adios!"

The team smiles rendering him a salute as he gets in the limo.

"Talking about dinner, you are late so you buy us dinner!" CJ says smirking at Margo. "Sorry guys," she says shrugging, "but I'm broke! All my money is in these bags!" pointing to the ground around her.

"Maybe you guys should buy me dinner," she says shuddering, her face taking on a horrified shocked expression, "because I was traumatized and held hostage!"

The rest groans in disgust. "What?" Margo innocently asks? "Hamburgers ok?" she sighs surrendering.

Matt comments, "I was leaning toward a nice big fat juicy steak, great workout this afternoon, I've worked up quite an appetite!"

Margo looks around and sees her teammates nodding in agreement.

"Bloody hell, I even showered for this!" CJ tells her. "We go back and shower again, I don't think a restaurant likes it when we walk in smelling like a bunch of junk yard dogs!"

An hour and a half later, the team steps in to their favorite steak house. The wooden floor, tables and seats give the impression of an old time western saloon. The cowgirls at the bar are checking out Chance. "Looks like I'm the one getting served up tonight," he mumbles at CJ.

"Relax mate, we are here to eat not to be eaten!" the English man responds. Matt and Margo head toward a table in the back of the restaurant and the rest follow.
After ordering their dinner, they are sipping on their drinks.

"Guys?" Margo says holding up her drink, "To great team work!"

They can only agree, their glasses clink and chime as they toast!

In the Silver Star hotel, a phone rings and the answering machine kicks in. "This is the Silver Star Hotel, we are not in at the moment, so please leave your name and number and we will get back to you!"

"Oh yeah, I'd forgot, Friday is out to diner night! Well, Benny Ray This is Nicole I'm in town for a few weeks and was wondering ….um. Call me ok!"

As they all return after a night filled with food, drink, laughter and dancing they all head for bed. Matt walks in tapping the play button on his answering machine and listens to the messages. As he hears the message from Nicole, he starts to smile, so that's why Benny Ray was a bit gloomy tonight.

Writing the message down he takes it Benny Ray's room.

The sniper hears Matt sliding a note under the door. Jumping up he sees from whom the message came. Grabbing for the phone he dials, "Hi gorgeous! Did you miss me?" Matt hears Benny Ray ask.

At least one of us will go to bed a happy man! Matt thinks laughing as he walks back to his room.

Fini for now…

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