Christina hugged her boyfriend, Paul, as they stood in front of their apartment. “My man, going on his first business trip,” she smiled. “You’re moving on up in the world.”
Paul blushed. “Aw, this is really big shot Senior VP Samantha’s trip,” he replied. “She’s the one who’s going to make or break this deal with the Russian company. I’m just along to report on the condition of their labs.” Paul and Christina both worked for a company called Worth Chemicals. Christina was the company’s head of security, and Paul was a chemist. They had been dating for almost two years.
“Don’t sell yourself short,” said Christina. “Sam needs you, and the company needs you. Remember, out of all the chemists Mr. Worth chose you to be the one to go.” She kissed Paul on the lips.
A car horn was heard, indicating the arrival of the company vehicle that would take Paul to the airport. He reluctantly disengaged himself from his hot blonde girlfriend’s lips. “Have a good trip, and travel safe,” Christina called. “Love you.”
“Love you too,” Paul called back. The driver opened the trunk and put Paul’s bags in. Paul climbed into the back seat next to Samantha.
On the way to the airport, Samantha filled him in on the details of the trip. “Mr. Worth thinks that if we can make a deal with these Russian guys, we can have a supplier at a much lower price than our competitors. However, he’s worried about quality. That’s where you come in. I need you to do a careful inspection of the Russian company’s facilities while I’m handling the business end of things. Make sure everything’s up to our standards.”
Paul nodded and leaned back in his seat, excited to be on his first real business trip. He had no idea how exciting – and dangerous – things were going to get.
In Moscow, Paul and Samantha were met at the airport by a driver from the Russian company. As they drove along the streets, none of them noticed the black Mercedes that was following them. Inside the Mercedes, the driver, a big, ugly, curly-haired man, nodded to his comrade in the passenger seat. “Call Marina and tell her we have a fish and we’re in pursuit.”
The second goon, as big and ugly as his companion but bald, nodded and took out his cell phone. The two men were thugs working for the Russian mob. They were in the business of kidnapping rich people and holding them for ransom.
“We got something, Marina,” said the bald man into his phone. “Looks like a couple of rich American business travelers, one man and one woman. They have a local driver.”
“Location?” said the cold, feminine voice on the other end.
The bald man told her. “We’ve got it under control. I’ll call you when we’ve got them. Over and out.”
The vehicles entered a deserted stretch of road. “Let’s do it,” said the bald man. The curly-haired man snickered evilly and accelerated, ramming the back of the company car. There was a loud clash of metal. He rammed the car again, forcing the company vehicle off the road. It crashed into a tree and came to a stop. The Mercedes braked to a stop behind it and both goons jumped out, carrying pistols.
Paul and Samantha looked at each other in fear. They had been enjoying a nice ride when they had suddenly been rammed and forced off the road. A moment later, two men with guns appeared.
The curly-haired man cold-bloodedly executed the driver with a shot to the head. Paul and Samantha both gasped in shock. The killer pointed his gun at Samantha. “Get out, now!” On the other side of the car, the bald man, pointing his gun at Paul, motioned for him to do the same.
“Follow my lead,” Samantha whispered to Paul, before getting out of the car. She approached the curly-haired man with her hands up. A scared look was on her face, and only part of it was acting. She saw him relax as his brain told him he was dealing with no more than a frightened woman.
She struck with lightning speed, kicking the gun out of his hands and drawing a hidden stiletto from underneath her skirt. She plunged the weapon into his throat, twisting it hard, then yanked it out. The curly-haired man collapsed to the ground. Blood bubbled out of the dying man’s throat.
Paul had been watching Samantha closely. When she attacked, the bald man began aiming his gun at her. Paul did the only thing he could do. He jumped on the bald man, trying to wrestle the gun away. Paul was much smaller and weaker than his opponent, however, and the big goon soon gained the upper hand.
Samantha dove for the curly-haired man’s gun, which was lying on the grass a few feet away. Just before she could get to it, however, a shot rang out. Samantha looked down in surprise and saw that she had a large hole in her chest. A second later, she slumped dead to the ground.
“NOOOOO!” shouted Paul, who saw what happened from his position pinned under the bald man. Who could have shot her? He was still keeping the bald man busy.
He got his answer a moment later, as a tall, slender brunette woman appeared, a shiny, still-smoking .45 caliber pistol in her right hand. She had the stunning beauty of a model, but he could see the evil in her eyes.
The bald man whacked Paul in the head with the butt of his pistol, knocking him out. He then looked up at the woman. “Marina!” he said. “What are you doing here?”
“Saving your incompetent ass, apparently,” she answered. “You idiots can’t even do a simple kidnapping right. It’s a good thing I decided to come here myself. I had a gut feeling that something would go wrong.”
“Hey,” said the bald man defensively. “I got my man. And at least I wasn’t the one who got beat by a girl.”
“You just may be getting a beating from a girl, if you keep giving me attitude,” she snapped.
The bald man stood up straight. “Sorry, ma’am,” he said in a frightened voice.
Marina pointed at Paul’s unconscious form. “Now put him in the trunk and let’s get the hell out of here.”
Christina sat in her office, going over the weekly security report. She plucked out the last two French fries from the carton and ate them, even though they were cold, and tossed the empty carton and a crumpled burger wrapper into the trash can across the room.
Suddenly, there was a knock on her door. “Come in,” she said. Mr. Worth, President and CEO of the company, entered, an extremely worried and alarmed look on his face. Christina stood up and stared. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m afraid I have some bad news,” said Worth. “You’d better sit down. It’s about Paul and Samantha. They were…attacked by the Russian mob on the road from the airport. The mobsters were targeting Westerners for kidnapping. They killed the driver…and the fuckers killed Samantha too. They said she was resisting. Paul’s been kidnapped. The kidnappers are demanding that the company pay them $10 million within 72 hours, or they’ll…they’ll kill him.”
“Oh God,” said Christina, her hand flying to her mouth.
“I’m already working on getting the money together,” said Worth. “We should be able to…”
Christina jumped up. “Wait a minute. How do we know the fuckers won’t kill Paul even if we do give them the money?”
The CEO sighed. “We don’t. But I’m not going to give them an excuse to kill him. I’ve also been in contact with the Russian police, and they said unless they get extremely lucky, there isn’t much chance of catching the bad guys before time runs out. Handing over the money seems like the best chance we have to get Paul back alive.”
Christina began pacing. “I can’t stand by and let this happen without doing anything.”
“I know he’s your boyfriend…”
“He’s more than that!” the blonde interrupted. She reached into her pocket and showed Worth a ring. Her voice softened. “I was going to ask him to marry me. I was going to surprise him when he got back from his trip.” She felt the tears start to flow. She hadn’t cried since she was 13.
Worth stared at her. “I didn’t know you two were that close,” he said softly. “Er…I know how you are and I know how you operate,” he continued. “I kind of figured you might react the way you did. There may be another way to handle this. I have a…connection who may be able to help you.” He pressed a business card and an envelope into her hand. “If you need to take some time off in the next few days, it’s granted,” he said. As the CEO exited, he called out, “Good luck.”
Christina wiped the tears from her face and looked at the business card she held in her hand. It read:
‘Colonel Danica Cooper
Fort Lewis, Washington’
Beneath those lines were an address and telephone number. She opened the envelope and saw that it was filled with hundred dollar bills. There was a note on top of the money that read, “You’ll know what this is for.” A grim smile appeared on Christina’s attractive face as she reached for her phone and began dialing. Those mobsters were going to get a swift, sharp, and brutal lesson in pain very soon.
Danica met Christina at the entrance of the base. Christina had driven there as soon as she finished her call, stopping only at the bank to withdraw as much cash as she could on short notice to add to the stash in the envelope. The two women shook hands, then Danica led Christina into her office and closed the door.
“I’m so sorry about your boyfriend,” said Danica, squeezing the other woman’s hand. “Unfortunately, we have very little time. You told me the deadline was 72 hours and the kidnappers were Russian mobsters. I’m familiar with them and it pains me to say it, but they do have a tendency to kill kidnap victims even if ransom is paid. We’re going to have to move fast if we’re going to rescue him.”
“Which unit will be performing the rescue?” asked Christina.
“Unit?” said Danica, staring. “Honey, that rescue ain’t going to be performed by any Army unit. Do you have any idea how much red tape there is in this organization? By the time we got everything together, the deadline would have long passed.”
“And so just who will be executing this mission, then?”
“I’ll be leading a team of…hmm, how shall I put it…I’ll just say assassins.”
“ASSASSINS?!” Christina jumped up from the comfortable chair she had been sitting in. “Aren’t you an Army officer? What are you doing dealing with a…”
“There are a lot of shades of gray in the world. Sometimes things have to be done that regular soldiers just can’t do. There’s always going to be an underworld. My philosophy is to make deals with the ones who have some sort of code of honor, and make war on the ones who don’t.”
Christina sat back down, nodding her blonde head in understanding. This was a whole new world to her, and Danica knew it a lot better than she did.
“In my dealings I’ve gotten to know some good assassins,” the colonel continued. “I’ve already called the ones I think would be the best and brightest for this job. They’re on their way right now. Two of them, Abigail and Natalie, are coming in from Denver. They should be here in a couple of hours. The other one, Angela, is coming in from Tennessee, so she’ll need a little longer.”
Christina stared in surprise. “All girls?”
“Like I said, I picked the best and brightest. Funny how that worked out!”
Christina smiled. She was starting to like this woman.
Danica smiled back. “I promise you, us four girls will be a lethal and unstoppable team.”
“I’m sure you will be. However, five girls will make an even more lethal and unstoppable team. I’m coming with you.”
The colonel opened her mouth, but Christina continued speaking. “I assure you, I do not make this statement lightly. I’m experienced with firearms and well-trained in hand-to-hand combat. I’m not just an ordinary businesswoman.”
“I don’t doubt your talents, but this is a mission that will require killing people in cold blood,” said Danica. “Are you sure you’re up for that?”
“Those fuckers killed Samantha, my friend, and kidnapped Paul, my lover. Trust me, I’ll have no problem killing them.” Christina’s voice was grim.
Danica nodded slowly. “Then it’s settled. The five of us against the Russian mob.”
“Thank you, Colonel,” said the blonde.
“Please, call me Danica,” she replied. “Now we’d better get to the airport. The rest of our team will be arriving soon.”
Paul awoke with a terrible headache. The first thought that came to his mind as he regained consciousness was, “Not again.” In the past two years this was the second time he had been kidnapped, the second time he had been knocked out, and the third time he had been taken hostage.
Finding himself lying on a dirty cot, he sat up and groggily tried to remember what had happened. The drive…the ambush …Samantha getting killed by that sexy but deadly woman…and the ugly bald guy knocking him out.
Paul looked around and saw that he was locked in a dark, musty cell about eight feet square. There was no window, and a barred door was the only exit. A sink and toilet stood in the corner.
Suddenly, footsteps approached. There was the sound of a key turning in the lock and the cell door swung open. A pretty woman stood there…the same woman who had murdered Samantha.
“Ah, so you’re awake,” she said in a sexy accent. “I’m sorry we haven’t gotten the chance to become acquainted yet. I’m Marina.”
Paul said nothing.
“Now now, where are your manners, Paul?” she snickered. She held up his wallet. “Luckily, I already know who you are.”
“You murdered Samantha! How could you?!” He finally spoke up.
“Oh, was that her name? She was resisting. I had to ‘take care’ of her. We would have preferred two hostages but you’ll do well enough. We’ve already asked your boss for $10 million.”
Paul’s glance traveled past Marina and towards the open door. She noticed and laughed. “You’re thinking about escape, aren’t you?” She smiled sassily. “Well, go on and try it. Try and get past me.”
Paul shook his head and turned his body as if he was going to sit down on the cot, then suddenly charged her, hoping to take the vixen by surprise. She was too fast for him, however, and stopped his charge abruptly by kicking him in the face. His hands flew to his injured jaw. Glaring at her, he rushed her again. This time, she pivoted and knocked him back with a swift but powerful side kick to his chest. Paul, growling, was about to charge her a third time when she suddenly whipped out a gun from under her coat. He recognized it as the same one she had used to kill Samantha.
“All right, playtime’s over. I have some business to take care of. You be a good boy now.” Marina exited the cell and locked the door behind her. Paul sat back down on the cot and rubbed his sore jaw. He wondered if Christina knew yet. He began to sob. He didn’t want to die without seeing her again.
At the airport, Christina and Danica sat on a bench in the baggage claim area, waiting for Angela’s flight to come in. Abby and Natalie, whose flight had arrived earlier, were sitting on another bench across from them. When Danica had pointed the two new girls out, Christina had been shocked at how young they were. The skinny girl, Natalie, had rather irritably responded that “Abby and I are 21 now and we don’t even have to use our fake IDs anymore to buy beer.”
Christina sighed with uncertainty. Did she really want to go through with this? Associating with assassins and personally going on a mission that would involve cold-blooded killing? She tried to steel her resolve. “I have to do this for Paul.”
Abby and Natalie whispered to each other as they sat on their bench. “I don’t like this,” said Natalie. She nodded at Christina. “Why is she here? It’s not SOP for the client to come out here like this.”
“And why did Danica want to bring in another assassin? Does she think we can’t handle this ourselves?” wondered Abby.
“All right, stuff a sock in it, you two,” said Danica. “Abby, I have the utmost confidence in your and Natalie’s abilities. That’s why I chose you for this job. But this operation is too big for just two people.”
“When are you going to tell us the details of this operation?” Abby asked.
“When we’re all together back at headquarters. No need to go over everything twice.”
Christina stood up, pointing at the TV screen labeled ‘Arrivals.’ “Look, Angela’s flight just landed.”
The black, unmarked SUV sped over the deserted roads. It was a dark and moonless night. Danica, tight-lipped and silent, was at the wheel. Christina sat in the front passenger seat, a million thoughts racing through her head. She couldn’t believe she was actually doing this. Abby, Natalie, and Angela were in the back seat. Christina had watched the assassins size each other up when they had first met at the airport. She had been relieved to see that Angela, at least, was close to her age.
“Hey, that sign said Fort Lewis was the other way,” Angela piped up from the back seat.
“We’re not going to Fort Lewis,” said Danica. “We’re going somewhere more …private.”
After traveling on a succession of roads that got narrower and bumpier, the black SUV came to a stop in front of a gate. A barbed-wire fence stretched off to the left and right. From the illumination of the headlights, signs on the fence were visible that read PRIVATE PROPERTY. KEEP OUT. TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT. SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN and EXTREME DANGER. 10,000 VOLTS. Danica got out of the vehicle and punched in a code at a control pad next to the gate. The gate silently swung open. The Army colonel got back in the car and drove into the secret base. Christina gulped as the gate swung shut behind them.
After a few more minutes of driving, they came to a small tin shack. Inside, there was nothing but a set of stairs leading down. At the bottom of the stairs, Danica flipped on a light switch, revealing that they were in an enormous basement. For the first time, the five women were together in a private, well-lit place. They looked at each other carefully, sizing each other up.
Danica, as the leader of the expedition, was the oldest woman in the room, nearing forty (although she still looked youthful and sexy). At 5’8″ and 132 pounds, she was also the tallest. She had shiny, shoulder-length brown hair that was pulled back in a neat bun. Angela was thirty years old and a sexy Southern beauty. She was 5’7″ and 135 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a deep tan. Abby and Natalie were both 21 and the youngsters of the group. Abby was 5’6″ and 130 pounds, with long dark brown hair that went down to the middle of her back. Natalie was slightly smaller at 5’5″ and 120 pounds. Her shoulder-length hair was exactly the same color as Abby’s. All four women had very well-toned, muscular, and feminine bodies.
Although her body was as muscular, well-toned, and feminine as the others, Christina was still a little intimidated. She was 29 years old, but her youthful face and long blonde hair made her look younger. At 5’3″ and 120 pounds, she was also the shortest woman in the group. In addition, for the others, killing was their profession, whether legitimately or illegitimately. She was just a businesswoman.
“All right,” said Danica. “We don’t have a lot of time, so let’s get right to business. We’ve all been introduced. Christina here is our client. Her boyfriend, Paul, has been kidnapped by the Russian mob while he was on a business trip to Moscow. They demanded $10 million in ransom and threatened to kill him if they didn’t get the money within 72 hours. Since that was about six hours ago, we have 66 hours left. Christina and I both believe there is a good chance that Paul will be killed anyway even if the ransom is delivered on time. Therefore, we’ve decided on a rescue mission. I called the rest of you here because if I tried to get the Army to rescue him, by the time we got through all the red tape the deadline would have long passed. Angela, Natalie, Abby, I’ve read all your files…”
“Wait a minute,” interrupted Abby. “We have *files*?!”
“Yes. But that’s not important right now,” answered Danica. “What’s important is that I’ve read your files and I know you’re the best people for the job. The five of us will be going in…”
“Wait,” interrupted Natalie. “Five? Since when does the client go on the mission? We can’t carry passengers.”
“Excuse me, but I won’t be a passenger,” said Christina. “I know as much about weapons and hand-to-hand combat as anyone else in this room. I can take care of myself. I’m not going to just sit here while my boyfriend is in danger.”
“What-evah,” said Natalie. Danica scowled at her, not liking that attitude.
“Now as I was saying before I was interrupted, *repeatedly* I might add,” continued the colonel, “we’ll be leaving tomorrow evening. It’s getting pretty late and we all need a good night’s sleep. Once we get to Russia, we’ll have to work fast to beat the deadline and we may not have much time for sleeping. We’ll make preparations tomorrow. There are bedrooms off the hall to the right.” The five women headed off to bed, Christina full of apprehension, Danica still intensely focused, Angela cool and expressionless, Abby eager but calm, and Natalie eager and excited.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast in a makeshift dining room, they got down to business. Danica had already contacted her sources in Russia about possible places the mobsters might be keeping Paul. “We’ve narrowed it down to these three locations as the most likely. They’re known hideouts for the Russian mob, and they’re all isolated places that would be ideal for holding a prisoner. I have blueprints of each of the locations here.” The colonel put some documents on the table. “When we arrive, we’ll split up to do reconnaissance on each of these places. Abby and Natalie, you’ll take this one here. Angela and Christina, you’ll do this one. I’ll take this one alone, since it’s the smallest.” Danica then pulled out a map of Moscow and marked each of the mobster hideouts on it. “I have a map for each team. If you discover that Paul is being held at your location, call the others and we’ll be there as soon as we can. If our reconnaissance fails to reveal the hostage’s location, we’ll have to raid all three locations.” She paused. “Are there any questions?”
“What if we raid all three places and the hostage isn’t at any of them?” asked Angela.
“We’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it,” Danica answered. She continued, “Go over your blueprints with your partner. Decide on a game plan for recon and get it drilled into your heads good. Then we’ll all get together and make plans of attack for raiding each location. I want each of you to know all of these places like you know your own house. After that, we can start getting our supplies and weapons ready. Decide what weapons each of you wants to take. There’s an outdoor firing range at this facility, so we can get some practice in before we leave. We all need to be very sharp. A cargo plane will be landing at 6:00 this evening to take us to Russia. We need to be ready to drive to the base’s airstrip at 5:45. We have a lot to do. Let’s get to it.”
Christina stepped forward. “I…I just want to thank you all for doing this. I love Paul and I don’t want to think about life without him.” She pulled out the envelope that Worth had given her. “Here’s the money for the mission. Split this four ways, or divide it however you usually do these things. I’m sorry that it’s not more, but my boss and I had to grab whatever cash we could on short notice. No one else knows about this mission. Of course, no one would have had a problem with him using $10 million of company money to pay off the mobsters, but he uses less than that to pay for a rescue…then the sensitive and whiny would be offended if they found out. Go figure.” Angela nodded in understanding and agreement at that remark.
“It’s not really about the money for me,” said Natalie. “It’s about the thrill and the excitement.”
“For me, it’s about being the best at what we do, and being able to prove it by utterly defeating our opponents,” put in Abby.
“I’m motivated by the desire to take revenge against those who are truly evil,” said Angela.
Christina felt a small smile come to her attractive face. She was very different from these women, but there were similarities too. In any case, she hoped they could get along, work well together, kick some major gangster ass, and rescue poor Paul.
The women then got to studying their blueprints. Angela leaned over close to Christina and touched her arm. “I know what you’re going through,” she whispered. “My husband was murdered and I couldn’t have any peace in my dreams until I took revenge on the assholes who killed him. That’s how I became an assassin in the first place.”
Christina smiled at the other blonde and squeezed her hand. “Thank you,” she whispered back. She was especially glad to hear that from Angela because they would be working together. She also wondered whether she might have ended up like Angela if it had been Paul who had been murdered. She would have certainly wanted vengeance, and could easily have been driven to violent acts herself. In fact, if the Russian mobsters killed Paul, she might become…
“No,” she thought. “I’m not going to think about that. Not as long as Paul’s still alive.” She turned her attention back to the blueprints.
After they had finished their tactical planning, the five sexy women headed out to the shooting range. Christina, although she owned several guns and practiced frequently with them, was still nervous about how her performance would compare to those of the professional assassins. Though she was disappointed that her markswomanship wasn’t quite as good as theirs, she smiled when Abby told her, “You’re still a better shot than 99% of cops.”
The ladies had a fun time shooting various weapons. They made a bit of a friendly but intense competition out of it. Danica was revealed to be the best shot with pistol and revolver, Abby won the rifle contest, Angela took the shotgun competition, and Natalie was the best with the submachine gun and the crossbow. The shooting helped the tomboyish women bond and they shared jokes and work stories over lunch. After the meal was over, Danica went over some common Russian words and phrases.
The sun slowly moved lower in the sky as the girls continued with their preparations. Christina took a break to talk to Danica. “Thanks for organizing all this,” she said to the colonel. “This means so much to me.”
“No problem,” Danica replied. “I can only imagine how I’d feel if my husband or my daughter was kidnapped.” She paused and looked around, seeing that the others were busy. “I’m glad to see everyone’s getting along decently enough,” she said in a low voice. “I was worried about bringing so many clashing personalities together. I’m an Army officer and not a referee. Even in my capacity as a mom. My daughter’s an only child, so I’ve never even had to deal with squabbling siblings. But even though we may be different, I think we have enough in common that we can work together very well. I really think this mission is going to work.”
As the afternoon shadows got longer, the ladies changed into their combat clothes, each packed a small bag for their personal things, and readied their weapons and ammo. Danica called her husband and daughter to say that she was going on a secret mission. Abby, Natalie, and Angela were all comfortably single. At 5:45, the women, armed, beautiful, and dangerous, headed out of the building for the ride to the airstrip.
Danica was dressed in camoflauge pants and top and military boots, though she wore no rank or other insignia. Not for this mission. Her brown hair was tied back in its ubiquitous bun. She carried an M-16 assault rifle and a 9mm pistol.
Christina wore dark jeans and a black T-shirt that was tight enough to make the shape of even her small breasts stand out distinctly. Her long blonde hair was in a bun like Danica’s. She was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .357 magnum revolver.
Angela wore tight black shorts that showed off her cheerleader’s legs, and a black top that had the sleeves rolled up to show her muscular forearms. Her shoulder-length blonde hair was in a ponytail. She had an AK-47 assault rifle, along with an elegant but extremely sharp combat knife.
Abby and Natalie both wore tight black pants and black tank tops that displayed their well-toned biceps. Abby’s long brown hair was ponytailed, while Natalie’s shoulder-length brown hair was left free. Abby was armed with a semi-automatic, high-powered sniper rifle and a knife similar to Angela’s. Natalie had an Uzi submachine gun and a crossbow. Abby wore ordinary black sneakers, but Natalie had on a pair of sexy knee-high black leather boots.
Soon, the cargo plane landed. The girls climbed aboard and the plane quickly turned around and took off again. Danica alone spoke briefly with the pilot and co-pilot. It was clear that this was a ‘talk as little as possible to others’ type of mission. As the aircraft headed off into the darkening sky, each woman felt a surge of excitement run through her. They were all eager to kick some ass.
TO BE CONTINUED…