The men of Team 7 had not been happy to discover their bust was to go down in an abandoned, half burnt down old theater. Unfortunately, per Ezra who was at the moment undercover inside the organization, their mark was intrigued with the many stories he had heard of the old place being haunted. To his own men's dismay, after the transactions were completed, Jarrod Von Brom planned to stay and do some ghost hunting; bragging that his ancestors were related to one of the characters the story, The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, had been based off of. He insisted that he was 'sensitive' to the presence of spirits and this location just set off all his psychic buttons.
Choosing to meet his buyers at midnight, on the 30th so that he could begin his ghost hunting in the early morning hours of Halloween day. Now several hours later, a seething Jarrod Von Brom along with his right hand man Elis Stratton stood waiting deep into the shadows of the burnt out building. So far none of his usual security measures had worked. First the small microphones the men wore would not work once they had entered into the building although they all worked just fine as soon as they stepped out into the open. The light that he carried was another failed device as well as the night goggles his hidden gunman had been wearing. This left Von Brom with no alternative but to trust these new buyers and the word of Stratton that this man was legit, which was something he did not like to do.
Chris Larabee and three of his men were in place inside the building along with the men in Team 8 who were their backup. It had not been easy getting inside the theater and finding spots to use for cover since Von Brom and his man Stratton continually stopped in and walked around the structure. Chris couldn't help chuckling as he listened to the pompass man talking of his 'abilities'. He knew that at least once after the teams had managed to get inside and into their assigned spots from Buck 's position noises that further fueled the man's claim of not of this world company having joined them.
Finally it was time. Chris watched as his last two men, Vin and JD, dressed as local gang members walked into the building. Both sides could hear JD's complain, "Man! Why does it have'ta be this place, Vic? It gives me the heebies, ya know!"
"Yeah, yeah.... kid. Ya made it clear ten minutes ago when ya first started whinin'. Don't make me regret agree'n ta have ya tag along. I coulda handled the buy without ya. If ya wanna wimp out, go ahead. Jist don't come cryin ta me or Blackie when ya don't get the heat a' yer choice."
Glaring at his friend in an attempt to keep the smirk hidden at hearing their team leader being referred to as Blackie, JD snarled, "Ain't whimpin out. I'm here ain't I! It's just the other night after ya all told us this way the meet, my big jerk of a brother started telling me stories about when this place burnt down the first time by the owner to kill his brother and his wife for cheating on him, then when it got rebuilt, how it burnt down again on opening night killing most of the people inside. He said that it happened on the anniversary of the first fire and that ever since then, people who have tried to stay here to work on it or use it for shelter have heard their screams and even on the coldest of nights, it's always extremely hot inside."
Vin glanced over at JD as he rolled his eyes, as mentally he noted to tell Buck a big thank you as he gave him a good left hook for scaring the kid before the bust. Moving deeper into the building he tried to calm his friend, "Well ya know he's an idiot, an most likely only tryin' ta scare ya. For once don't let him win, let's do what Blackie told us to do, buy some new hardware and get back. If'n we're late, Blackie ain't gonna be happy with either a'us and might just let the others use us as target practice. I ain't worked this hard to move up in the ranks and taken the beatin's I had ta, ta make my bones jist ta have ya screw it up. I ain't got a big brother ta secure me a spot. So shut up, do what yer told and ......."
"Gentlemen, gentlemen...," a voice spoke out from the surrounding darkness causing both to jump.
"Who the hell's there? Come out 'n show yerself," Vin called out, hating the shakiness of his own voice.
Grinning widely, Von Brom and Stratton stepped out from behind one of the few still standing walls where they had been observing the tall, lanky, long haired teen who wore a kerchief wrapped around the top of his head with a slightly shorter, shaggy haired youth beside him. Both wore well worn jean with more holes than material in many spots, white tee's and matching jean jackets with the gang emblem drawn down both arms. "So sorry. Did we frighten you?" Brom's voice sounded as insincere as his apology did.
"Yeah, whatever. Ya gots the goods?" ask Vin, stopping in his tracks and taking a quick glance around before once again centering his attention on the pair. His glance had taken in at least five men that were not ATF and he could only pray that his boss knew of their presence.
"Of course young man. The bigger question is, do you have the money?" Stratton spoke without trying to hide his contempt for the two hoodlums before them.
Stretching his hand out behind him and snapping his fingers, Vin waited for JD to hand over the knapsack that held the marked money. Once into his grasp, he flipped it around and gave the bag a slight swing so that it landed at the two men's feet with a loud plop.
Both men gave a small jump backwards and glared at the grinning teen. "Very amusing," Von Brom stated unhappily then motioned for his man to get the bag and verify that the money was inside. At the curt nod of the man, Von Brom pointed to another section of still standing walls,"Your merchandise can be found back there. Thank you both and if I may be of further service, you know how to reach my man."
"Not sa fast there, dude. Ya don't move out until we see what our money's bought. Get one a them idjits ya got tryin' ta hide 'round us ta bring 'em out."
"I can go get 'em, Vic!" JD offered, really wanting to get the heck out of the building and the now loud creaking noises that he was hearing.
"No!" his companion hissed, then in a kinder voice added, "We gave 'em our part with no tricks, they can damn well do the same. 'Sides, do ya really wanna go further in ta that darkness with that dinky bit a light ya brought?"
"Ummmm, ahh no. But..."
"No buts, kid. They either give back the money or bring out our merchandise."
Ezra, aka Elias Stratton, looked back at his current employer, "Sir?"
"Fine!" Von Brom snapped his fingers, the sound echoing loudly through the building.
Almost instantly, two men carrying two large gym bags over each shoulder stepped forward out of the shadows. Both men stepped up to the youths and opened each one to show the automatic guns enclosed before handing the bags over. 'Vic" adjusted his two bags over his shoulder and looked back to verify that the kid did the same.
Satisfied that they were finished with their transaction, 'Vic' began to take a step back when a strange knocking noise began. All six men froze in place, the only movement was their heads twisting around trying to find the cause of the noise. Taking two steps back so that he was beside JD, Vin glared at the four men before him as he demanded, "What're ya tryin' ta pull?"
"My employer might ask you the same, however, we are all well aware that this building is...well shall we say...less than stable. I'm sure what we heard was nothing more than loose boards knocking together by the wind." Ezra inserted hoping to keep the bust from falling apart, while planning his written and oral protest to Larabee and Travis for allowing such sloppy behavior.
Watching from his position, Chris cursed as once again the sound of he knocking became louder and four guns were being pointed at two of his men.
"Hey now!! Don't be pointing them thangs at us! We ain't the ones making them noises," 'Vic' shouted.
Hearing at least two of the aimed guns being jacked and readied to fire, Chris had no choice but to breath into his own mic,"Now!" and then standing up shouting, "Freeze all of you! This is the ATF and you're all under arrest."
Pandemonium broke out as men jumped out of the shadows from both sides and began shooting. Vin and JD quickly jumped behind a pile of debris, pulling their own guns from their hidden spots, while maintaining possession of the bags of guns. Both looked above them at the creaking sounds emitting from the what ceiling remained.
"We gotta get everyone out of here before the whole place collapses," Vin whispered to JD just before a louder crack sounded and both men knew no more.
It took three hours for emergency crews to pull the last two groups of men from the rubble. Outside of the building, eight variously bandaged men circled around four other pacing and like wise bandaged men. So far all of Von Brom's men had been found and were either in police custody or on their way to the hospital. The only remaining missing people were Von Brom himself and the three undercover members of Team 7.
Simultaneously, shouts from the two rescue groups signaled the men had been found. First out was the rotund figure of Von Brom on a gurney still unconscious.
Then to Chris's relief, three more gurneys appeared carrying his men, all three being extremely vocal in their insistence of being "Fine".
Walking up to them before they could be placed in ambulances, Chris glared and said, "Shut up all of you. You're going to be looked over and if the doctors say you're okay, then we'll see where you go from there."
Frustrated, but knowing they still had try and maintain their covers, the three quieted down. Ezra was placed in the same ambulance as Von Brom and the two men spent the trip glaring at each other. Arriving at the ER, the men were placed into separate treatment rooms, Ezra being seen to first. Showing no signs of outward injury and xrays revealing no broken bones, he was left alone being told to rest until the doctor could come back for one final look over. Ezra watched as the door closed and then moving carefully off the bed, snuck out of the room. Grinning evilly he stepped into Von Brom's room and carefully checked to ensure they were alone before moving up to the bed. "So Mr. Von Brom. I see you, as have I, managed to be extradited without injury. However, they seem to have placed very unbecoming bracelets upon your being, while having forgotten to do the same to me." Ezra watched as an angry frown appeared on the man's face. "I have no intention on waiting around for some glorified civil servant realize their error, and am departing immediately. Should you ever manage to find a way from under this mess in which you thrust us, please do not contact me," with a grin and two finger salute, Ezra left the room and made his way stealthily out of the emergency room doors and into a cab that would take him to the comfort of his own home.
Vin and JD were just as lucky as Ezra for the most part. No broken bones, but each would be off for a few days with cracked ribs, mild concussions and sporting matching bandages on their foreheads.
Dropping Vin off at his apartment on what was now Halloween night at his insistence, Chris walked up the four flights of stairs with his friend as they discussed the night before's strange ending to the bust. As soon as Vin entered his apartment, he started filling bowls with candy to hand out while glaring at Chris for his remarks about not needed any type of costume with his banged up image to greet his trick or treaters. He was tired and sore, not that he'd admit that to Larabee) and wanted nothing more than to unlock the door to his room and go to bed for the next week. But the kids would soon be arriving looking for their treats, showing off the many tricks he had been showing the youngsters how to do as well as borrowing a few of JD's jokes for them to tell. There was no way he could disappoint his 'kids'.
Instead, wanting to know who had made the noises and caused the ceiling to fall, Vin began to question Chris and was frustrated at his friends inability to give answers as well as at pranksters that would knock on his door and run away before he could get the door open.
Deciding to leave the door open so that the two men could observe anyone approaching it, they took a seat that allowed them to watch and minutes later exchanged shocked looks, scrubbing at their eyes before once again looking at the door.
No one stood in the doorway, yet just as they had heard the night before in the empty theater and at the closed door, a loud distinct knocking could be heard.......................