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Prequel to the Big Hunt... (which is a SOF/Kung Fu The Legend Continues crossover)

 

The Crystal Hotel
2000 hours

Matt pulled the SUV to a stop in front of the hotel and helped Cindy from the passenger side. Handing his keys to the valet, Matt wrapped his arm around Cindy as they entered the hotel. The valet glared after them as he called someone on his radio.

"I can't believe the battery went dead," Matt complained as they walked through the deserted lobby. "This is one thing I shouldn't have been late for."

"Not your fault, sweetie," Cindy assured him, her own arm around him. "Uh, Matt?"

"Yeah?" he responded as they reached the elevator.

"Doesn't it seem odd to you that the lobby is deserted at eight o'clock on a Saturday night?"

"What?" Matt glanced around, noticing the absence of at least staff. "I hadn't noticed it. Yeah, it is. Maybe all the staff is upstairs at the reception. You know how Trout is. He probably requested everyone up there."

"Hmmm. Should at least be someone at the desk," Cindy commented.

The elevator doors opened and they stepped inside. Cindy stood close to Matt as the door slid shut, still nervous about being in enclosed spaces after her run in with Almeda.

The valet was still on the radio, being berated for allowing anyone into the hotel.

"Well, what was I supposed to tell them?"

"How about, sorry, gas leak?"

"Like they'd have believed that with a parking lot full of cars."

"Don't let anyone else in, or you'll be the first one to die. Take your next position."

"Yes sir," Frank responded. He flicked off the lights over the valet area and dragged two road-closed signs over, placing them across the parking lot entrances. He entered the hotel and locked the door behind him. Reaching behind the security desk, he grabbed his equipment and took his position at the desk. Frank's radio buzzed. "Yeah?"

"They're still in the elevator. There's a switch on the board that cuts the power to the elevator. Do you see it?"
Frank glanced around the board. "Yep."

"Flip it. Then go under the board and yank out the wires to it."

"Got it."

The elevator shuddered to a stop and the car went dark, with the exception of the security light.

"No," Cindy whispered.

Matt wrapped his arm around her. "It's okay, darlin'. You're not alone. It's just me herewith you." Matt reached over to push one of the buttons but nothing happened. Locating the security phone, he picked it up, but all it did was ring. No one picked it up. "Damn." He felt Cindy shiver against him and he tightened his hold on her.

The Crystal Room
2230 hours

The reception was in full swing when the doors slammed open and ten men bearing machine guns burst in. The team looked up when the music stopped, and they stared, shocked.

The leader stepped forward, firing a round into the ceiling. "Where's Xavier Trout?"

Trout started to move forward, but Alison, his daughter, and Deke stopped him.

"No one's talking? Fine. Let's see, I know this is his daughter's wedding reception, so what if we just grab the bride, shall we?"

Trout stepped in front of his daughter. "No need. I'm Xavier Trout. What do you want?"

"Come with me." With a glance at his men, Dimitri ordered, "Anyone moves, kill them. Anyone."

"You got it," one of the men answered.

Benny Ray kept Margo pushed behind him as he narrowed his gaze at the men. He saw Nick moving to try to follow Trout. Catching Nick's eye, Benny Ray shook his head no at him. Deke, however, had already disappeared. And he had no idea where Matt and Cindy were, since they hadn't shown up yet. That worried him.

The Elevator
same time

Matt and Cindy were sitting on the bench, their backs against the wall. "You okay?" he asked her softly.

Cindy nodded as she leaned against him. Nervously, she played with the edges of her black lace dress, trying not to remember things. Staring up at the ceiling, she nudged Matt. "Think we can get up there?"

"You want to go climbing on elevator cables?"

"We don't seem to be getting out any other way."

"Let's give it a few more minutes."

Footsteps sounded outside in the hall, along with some voices. Matt motioned for her to be quiet as he strained to listen to what was being said.

"Dimitri wants the plastique attached to the doors, then blow it. It'll wipe out the whole car."

"Let's try it," Matt said suddenly, getting to his feet.

"What changed your mind?" Cindy asked, taking off her high heels.

"Trying to avoid an explosive situation," Matt explained, removing his tux jacket. He checked his Glock in the shoulder holster. He watched Cindy remove her own gun from her purse but she couldn't find a place to put hers.

Matt smiled as he took it from her. "You need pockets, darlin'."

"Well, who knew?" she asked. Cindy rummaged through her purse until she found a fanny
pack tucked in the bottom. After pulling it out, she stuffed her shoes in.

"What else do you have in there?" Matt teased as she put it on.

"Ha ha," Cindy retorted, putting her gun in the pouch and swinging her purse over her shoulder. "Okay, let's go."

Matt lifted her up until she could slide the access panel over and watched as she climbed up.

"Eww."

"What?"

"It's dirty up here. Come on."

Matt slid the bench over and grabbed hold of the edge of the roof and hoisted himself up. "You go first, I'll be right behind you. But let's not go for the cables, just in case. Go for the iron framework."

"Okay, good." Cindy jumped from the roof of the car, grabbing on to the framework with a small grunt and started climbing up, Matt right behind her. They were about two floors up when the explosion went off. Quickly Matt climbed up directly behind her and pressed her against the wall so she wouldn't fall.

"Damn," Cindy uttered, the breath knocked out of her.

"Don't look down," Matt told her when he felt her try to twist to do just that.

"Onward and upward," she stated.

The Crystal Room
2300 hours

Benny Ray watched as several guests became hysterical. He shook his head. These people were going to get them all killed. Noticing none of the men looking his way, he motioned to Margo and they snuck into the kitchen. Silently they armed themselves, keeping a sharp lookout for any of the Russian's men.

"What do you think they want?" Margo asked.

Benny Ray shrugged. "Got me. Did you notice the direction they took Trout?"

"The manager's office. We've gotta get Chance, C.J. and Nick armed and ready. Any idea where Deke went?"

"Hard to tell. Probably turned himself invisible."

The explosion reverberated through the crowed room, everyone grabbing on to things to steady themselves.

In the kitchen, Benny Ray glanced up. "What was that?"

"I don't know," Margo shrugged.

Nick scurried into the kitchen. "Hey. What's up?"

"Don't have any idea," Benny Ray answered.

Nick pulled his gun from his shoulder holster and stood at the ready. "What's the plan?"

"Don't rightly have one just yet. Did they see you leave?"

"No, but they're gonna notice in a minute," Nick responded as he raised his gun and aimed just past Margo.

"What the hell are you doin' Delvecchio?" Benny Ray sputtered as Nick fired his weapon.

"Tango sneaking up on you. Say thank you, Benny Ray."

Margo spun on her heel to find the armed body lying behind her. She bent to retrieve his weapons as Benny Ray and Nick glanced around. A man burst through the kitchen door, his AK-47 at the ready. A startled look crossed his face as Margo raised her MP5 and fired at him.

Out in the room, pandemonium broke out as the guests dove for the floor as the Russians opened fire. Chance and C.J. pulled their Glocks out, preparing to fire, but there were too many people blocking their aim.

The Elevator Shaft
same time

Cindy was approaching another door when Matt told her to wait a minute.

Climbing up ahead of her, he managed to force the door open enough for them to get through. Matt eased through first, and checked the hall before motioning for Cindy to follow. Cindy pulled herself up, then eased her shoes back on. If nothing else, the heels would make good weapons.

Keeping Cindy to his back, they snuck through the hallway, trying to determine which floor they were on.

"It's a shame we didn't have the radios on," Cindy stated quietly.

"Yeah, I know. I hope everyone's all right."

Matt led her down the hall, their guns ready. As Matt passed, on the right, a door to one of the room's opened, and a man in a tee-shirt and jeans slid out, his gun out.

Cindy rested the barrel of her Glock against the man's neck. "Drop it," she ordered.

The man dangled his gun from his index finger, hands in the air. "You're making a mistake lady."

Matt backtracked to where the two stood at an impasse. Grabbing the man's gun, Matt stared at him. "What kind of mistake is she making?"

"I'm a cop. I'm here for a police convention. When I heard people going through the rooms and grabbing people, I hid in the air vent. My partner is somewhere in the hotel, but I don't know where. I'm Peter Caine."

"I assume you have ID," Matt commented, eyeing the man warily.

"In my shirt pocket. Feel free. So who are you people?"

Matt found the ID and checked it out, and nodded to Cindy who lowered her Glock. "Let's just say we do specialized work for the government. We're here for a wedding reception."

"Any ID?" Caine countered.

"Afraid not. Did you hear them say anything about what they want?"

"Nope," Peter said as he retrieved his gun from Matt. "But I know their main target is the penthouse."

"That's the wedding reception," Cindy muttered.

The Manager's Office
2400 hours

Trout looked at the Russian who had his gun pressed against Trout's chest. "Are you going to tell me what you want?

"I want...I want the people who work for you. All five of them."

Trout stiffened. "What are you talking about?"

"You know exactly what I am talking about, Xavier Trout. The people who came to my country and destroyed my family!" Dimitri Zhelenko shouted in the older man's face. "You give me them, you go free. They're here tonight, aren't they?"

When Trout remained silent, Dimitri turned to one of his men. "Bring me the bride. Kill the groom."

The man started for the door when Trout said, "No."

"Give me their names. They have a choice. They come willingly or an innocent guest dies."

"It would be better if I get them. At least let me tell them what's going on."

"Fine. You've got fifteen minutes. If you're not back here with them then, your daughter takes their place and her groom dies."

"Understood," Trout answered as he rose from the chair to return to the reception. "I'll approach each member and send them here."

"You'll be watched. No tricks, or the entire guest list is eliminated."

Trout glared at the young Russian before straightening his posture and returning to The Crystal Room. Damn, he thought. What now?

Upon entering the room, he saw all of the guests laying on the floor. He glanced around for the team members, finding only Chance and C.J. He moved over to the two retired men.

"Mr. Walker, Mr. Yates," Trout greeted them.

Chance looked at him suspiciously. "What's up?"

"Do you know where the others are?"

"Nope. Haven't even seen Matt and Cindy since the wedding. I repeat, what's up?" Chance demanded.

"I've got some bad news," Trout began, as he filled the two men in on the Russian's demands.

"Were we there?"

"Haven't a clue. Does the name Zhelenko ring a bell?" Seeing the two men nod, the older man continued. "I need to find Benny Ray and Margo. And Matt, wherever he is," Trout sighed.

C.J. looked at the older man, noting his desperation. "Well, I'm game, mate."

Chance glanced at the Brit. "You sure?"

"Yeah. Why not?"

"Who knows what's going to happen to us, wherever we're going," Chance observed.

"It's better than letting all of these people die," C.J. noted, knowing both of them were well armed, even though it was hidden.

Trout moved through the crowded room, not seeing any sign of the others. Come on. Where are you all?

Nick peered from his look out point in the air vent, waiting for Benny Ray to come back with his recon information. "Hey, Margo!"

"Yes, Nick. What is it?"

"Trout's on the move."

On the third floor, Matt and Cindy followed Caine to the conference room on that level. He was sure that was where all of the guests from that floor were herded.

Peter eased the door open to the room as Sergei, one of Dimitri's men, came around the corner, speaking rapidly into his radio.

Cindy fired a shot into the man, taking him down and watched as Matt stripped him of his weapons and they proceeded to follow Peter into the room.

All three were shocked by the carnage they found there. It had been a mass execution, bodies laying everywhere.

Peter sputtered, "Damn!"

Matt and Cindy moved quickly, feeling for pulses, but finding none.

"Do you see your partner in here, Peter?" Matt asked carefully.

"Jody," Tomas uttered as he knelt over the body of a fair-haired woman.

"Guess so," Cindy commented, upset by all of the pointless death.

A sound outside the door reached Cindy's ears, and she motioned to Matt she'd be right back.

"Be careful."

"I will."

Cindy went out the door to find a young woman in tears. "Ma'am? What's wrong?"

"My little girl, I can't find her. When they attacked our party down below...I played dead when the shooting started, but my little girl."

"I can help you in just a moment..." Cindy began, the sentence cut off when the woman wrapped an arm around her throat, the Glock clattering uselessly to the floor.

"You've already helped me," the woman sneered, pointing her gun at Cindy's mid-section.

Cindy shoved her elbow into the woman's stomach, breaking the hold on her. Before she could get away, the woman grabbed her by the hair and hit her in the face. Cindy managed to grab hold of the Glock and fired, but not before the woman sprayed pepper spray in her face. The woman fell to the floor, dead. Cindy sat there, ineffectually wiping at her eyes.

Matt crashed through the door, finding her sitting on the floor, a trickle of blood coming from her nose. "Hey. What happened?"

"Stupid, stupid, stupid. That's what happened. Ahhh. Pepper sprayed me."

"Come on," Matt said, pulling her to her feet. Peter came out of the room and Matt filled him in on what happened. Caine followed them into one of the rooms and stood guard while Matt flushed her eyes with water, and stopped the bleeding.

"Now, again. What happened?"

"I went out the door, found a crying woman. Said she had gotten separated from her little girl. I was offering to help her when she got the drop on me. Damn it."

"It's okay. Your eyes are going to be funny for a while. Thirty minutes to two hours, since we don't know how strong it was. You're going to have to rely on me."

"Okay," Cindy said, struggling to stand.

"Just sit there a minute, darlin'. Get yourself together."

"Mmm-hmmm. I'm okay." Cindy clutched his arm as she got to her feet

Dimitri slammed his fist down on the desk in the manager's office. Chance and C.J., who sat before him, hands tied behind their backs, both flinched.

"Vlad."

"Yes sir."

"There are people running around loose downstairs, causing trouble. Two, maybe three according to Sergei before he got cut off. Find them, kill them."

"Yes sir," Vlad responded, saluting as he gathered a few men before heading out.

Chance and C.J. glanced at each other. They had the dreadful feeling it was Matt and Cindy.

Deciding he had no where else to look, Trout wandered into the kitchen. Standing in the center of the spacious room. "Well, I don't know where else to look," he said to the empty air. "I guess everyone here is going to be killed in a short time."

Nick and Margo exchanged glances in the air vent. Benny Ray still hadn't gotten back and he had told them to use their own judgement if he wasn't back in ten minutes. It had been twenty.

The grate covering the air vent shifted and Nick climbed down, telling Margo to stay where she was.

"What's up?"

"Here's the situation. These men want the team or they're going to kill everyone out there. Chance and C.J. have already gone. Where's Benny Ray and Margo?"

"Margo's safe. Don't know where Benny Ray is. Deke either."

"They want five people. They knew exactly how many people were there. Problem is, I don't know which team members it was."

"What's his name?"

"Dimitri Zhelenko."

Margo slid down from the air vent. "That was, let's see, Benny Ray, Chance, C.J., Rico and Matt. I ran intel from the hotel. Matt had to kill his father to get everybody out safely. I think Dimitri was like fifteen, and he saw the whole thing.

"Someone needs to find Benny Ray. Nick, you're going to have to pretend to be Rico."

"Oh, yeah, like I look Hispanic."

"Sorry," Trout shrugged. "Any idea where Matt is?"

"No sir. He hasn't made it here as far as I know," Nick denied.

"That's not like Matt," Trout observed, watching Margo go back in the air vent to try to locate Benny Ray.

Matt was walking on one side of Cindy, Peter flanking her on the other side. He felt her hand tightly wrapped around his upper arm. He knew that, like Benny Ray, she hated to be dependent on anyone. They heard a thud up ahead, and the trio stopped, Matt pushing Cindy behind him, Peter stepping in front of her.

Walking down the hall, Benny Ray was startled when he ran into the group. "Major? What are you doing down here?"

"We got a little lost."

Benny Ray narrowed his gaze inquisitively at Caine, then said, "Where's Cindy?"

"I'm right here, Benny Ray," she said as she stepped to Matt's left.

Benny Ray took in her red, puffy eyes. "What happened?"

"Pepper spray. It's still wearing off," Matt explained. "This is Peter Caine. He was here for a police convention, got away from whoever they are. His whole party is in the conference room, dead. What's going on, Benny Ray?"

"Russians. They attacked upstairs and took Trout. I guess everyone else in the hotel is expendable. Well, lookee there who showed back up," Benny Ray noted, seeing Deke.

"Hey, bro."

"Where've you been?"

"Scoping out things. I found a way out, if we need it."

Matt made a quick decision. "Yeah, get Cindy out. Get her somewhere safe." As he spoke, Matt pushed Cindy toward the tall black man.

"I'm not leaving you..." she stressed.

"You're hurt. Go," Matt ordered her.

"But Matt..."

"Go. I'll see you later."

She started to protest again, but Deke picked her up and carried her back the way he came, ignoring her protests. En route to the exit, four of the Russians emerged, holding machineguns on Deke. "Damn," he mumbled, as he sat Cindy on the floor and put his hands up. "Well,neither of you are who we are looking for," one man spoke in broken English. "But obviously you work with them, and can be used as bait. Especially her."

A shot rang out and Deke fell to the ground and Cindy screamed "Deke!" Two of the men grabbed Cindy, tying her wrists behind her back. Her vision was starting to clear, finally, and found she was being led to one of the guest rooms.

Once inside, she was thrown on one of the beds and quickly tied, spread eagle, to the bed. Visions of Almeda ran threw her, and her heart pounded with fear. After securing her, the men walked out of the bedroom, closing the door behind them.

They radioed Dimitri that they had found an armed woman with someone who could be affiliated with the team. He asked what she looked like, then told his men to hold on.

He looked at Chance. "Okay. My men have captured a woman with long auburn hair, black lace dress. She was armed. Any idea who she is?"

Chance looked away, C.J. looked in the opposite direction. "I guess that means yes. So, is she important to anyone?"

A knock on the door interrupted him and Dimitri looked up to find Nick being led inside and settled by the other two. "Who is he?"

"Said his name is Rico. Funny, he don't look like a Rico."

"Who are you?" Dimitri whispered menacingly.

"Rico," Nick insisted.

"Right," Dimitri responded suspiciously.

Nick nodded and Dimitri sat back. "Okay," he said into the radio. "We just need the southerner and the leader, and then we can go. We need to find who the woman is important to."
Dimitri glanced at Nick who cast him a blank stare. The others followed suit. "They're not talking. Torture her," he ordered before setting the radio down.

Matt pulled out the radio he had taken off the woman Cindy had killed. Peter looked at him inquiringly. "I thought maybe I could reach help outside on a different frequency."

"Nikita? Come in Nikita?" the Russian's voice crackled over the airwaves. There was a howl of frustration. "Anybody there?"

Reaching only silence, Dimitri took a chance. "One of the Americans? Do you have this radio?"

"Yeah, what is it you want?" Matt growled.

"Ah, the leader himself. You and the southerner. Upstairs, immediately."

Benny Ray glanced at Matt and shook his head no.

"Listen carefully, I have three of your team here already. I also have one of your women, and they're torturing her as I speak. If you want her to live..." Dimitri trailed off menacingly.

An air-vent grate fell out, and Margo dropped down out of it in front of Matt and BennyRay. Raising an eyebrow, she looked at Peter. Benny Ray motioned that Peter was all right.

"Damn," Matt grumbled. "Where is she?"

Margo looked questioningly at Benny Ray who motioned her to the side.

"You get up here, now. And my men will stop. You are in no position to bargain with me."

"Why are you doing this?" Matt asked.

"You people destroyed my family. It's your turn to pay. I have great and wonderful plans for you."

In hushed tones, Benny Ray explained to Margo about Cindy's situation. With a nod, she went off to try to find the other woman.

In the room, one of the men was trailing a knife along Cindy's throat, speaking menacingly in Russian to her. She had no idea what he was saying, but she was sure she didn't like it. As she tried in vain to move away from the man, the man slapped her across the face. He grabbed the pillow from under her head and removed the case, twisting until it formed a rope then he gagged her with it.

He had started to raise her skirt up when he heard a struggle going on in the outer room. The man left the room, and Cindy bent her hand to try to reach her knife she always wore strapped to her wrist.

Cindy flexed her wrist with difficulty to reach the hilt of the knife, finally making a brushing contact with it, and pulled it from it's sheath. Angling her hand in the other direction, she managed to slice the rope. Freeing her wrist, she cut the other ropes and removed the gag.

Hearing a sound outside the door, Cindy quickly unplugged the lamp and removed the shade. Hefting the lamp onto her shoulder, she hid behind the door.

The door swung open as Margo eased into the room. Seeing no one, she whispered Cindy's name just as Cindy was preparing to lower the lamp.

"Margo! Oh, thank God!"

"You okay?"

"Fine," Cindy answered as the women left the room.

Margo explained to her what was going on as she handed Cindy one of the guns she had liberated from a dead Russian.

"We've got to find Deke," Cindy told her. "He was shot."

"All right, lead the way." As they cautiously walked back down the hall, Peter caught up with them.

"Matt and the other guy headed upstairs to turn themselves in," Peter explained. "We need to figure out how to track them, cause I guarantee the Russians aren't keeping them here. I heard at least one helicopter land on the roof."

"We've got to find Deke, too," Cindy repeated.

"I'm right here, baby. It was just a flesh wound. I'm ready to go."

Matt and Benny Ray were ushered into the manager's office, rifle barrels pressed against their backs, and forced to kneel on the floor in front of Dimitri.

"Ah, good. The two leaders have joined us. It will soon be time to leave," he said with a vicious smile. Picking up his radio, he hissed, "Kill the woman."

One of his men approached each of the team and attached a small device behind their right ears. "Any trouble from you, and that little gadget will blow your brains apart. Nice and calmly now, everyone to the roof. We'll be leaving for our destination now."

As several of the Russians escorted the team to the roof, Dimitri glanced at Sergei. "I know there's more of them here. It was too much trouble downstairs, and they're too calm. I want them too. Leave some sort of clue so they can find us. Bring him too," he ordered, motioning to Trout who was in the corner of the room. "We'll have a grand hunt and destroy all of our enemies while we're at it.

Dimitri's radio crackled and his face was covered with a look of disgust when he was told the woman had been freed.

The helicopters were just getting in the air when Cindy, Margo, Deke and Peter arrived on the roof.

Cindy's trigger finger itched to fire at the aircraft and bring it down, but she couldn't endanger the team's lives.

"Damn it," she and Margo said in unison.

Peter, exasperated and wanting to avenge his partner's death, turned to go back inside.

"Where you going, bro?" Deke asked, his hand on the man's shoulder.

"To look for clues to where they might be going. I'm also calling a friend of mine from home to get my father and come out here. We're going to need all of the help we can get.

...cont'd in The Big Hunt

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