Story: When the Smoke Clears (chapter 1)

Authors: SDasher

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Chapter 1

Title: Prologue

[Author's notes: It's quite short, but there is going to be much, MUCH more than this in a while. I would like opinions and CONSTRUCTIVE critique, if possible! :D Hope you like.]

Lightning struck, bathing the road with a flash of bright light as rain blanketed the small black vehicle making its way down the road. The cabin was quiet, deathly still, but for the patter of drops against windows. Two of the four souls castled within the doors glanced every now and then back to one another, breaths shallow but even. Adrenaline broiled within them, driving their fingers to drum over their legs and the dusty arm-rests. There’s a look to criminals who know exactly what they’re going to do - it doesn’t take long to find, and this is it.

The engine kicked into the next gear; the giddy thrill of acceleration built up in their stomachs and then immediately dissipated. Her tongue flicked at the corner of her mouth habitually, eyes watching the road carefully. It was empty, cold and wet. Traffic at this time of night was uncommon. A dark, husky whisper from the back broke the palpable silence.

“Is this business, or do you just need some pocket change?” It asked. The voice that asked belonged to a masked face, eyes hard and cold. The shadow in the passenger seat twisted ever-so-slightly; she was listening. The masked woman spoke again, this time in a tone more frustrated. “Why don’t we just go home? Crack open a piggy bank?”

The voice from the front seat cut through the woman’s steely nerves.

“No. We discussed this already. We don’t wait. We don’t go home. We don’t fade into the background. You want to make an impact, Drugu? We stockpile. We plan. We act.” It was a tempered voice, masked by a light Slavic accent. It was low, husky, and confident, with a vague air of arrogant superiority. The figure’s head tipped to the side, the light of the streetlamps catching on its masked jaw-line.

“Act!?” The exasperated voice, hushed to a whisper, broke the finality that the figure’s words had implied. “No good can come from this repetitive der’mo!”

“Good?” The voice now seemed amused. “No. We make them afraid; make this populace scared of every shadow that crosses their way. We own them…” The masked figure raised its hand and clenched its fingers into a tight fist. Their voices were similar, but it was clear which held more weight in the conversation. Now distinguishable as female under the flickering passing street lights, the figure in the front passenger seat raised her hand behind the headrest, as if expecting something to be placed in it. “Give me your gun.”

The passenger in the rear hesitated. “What?”

The hand gestured back again - “Your firearm. Your gun. You think fresh immigrants to the United States are allowed their own?”

“You didn’t get one through your channels yet?” The voice asked dubiously.

“I’ve been busy nesting,” She replied (somewhat sarcastically), “I want it, Alessia. You’ll get it back, don’t worry.”

A long pause preceded a low sigh of acceptance, and the cool weight of her firearm reluctantly transferred to the waiting hand, “Good girl,” She muttered, turning the weapon over in her hands. Silence once more enveloped the cabin as she checked the clip, safety, and ran her thumb over the serial number.

“This is yours?” She asked, sounding more than a little tickled as she turned the small weapon over again in her hands. The woman in the rear of the car gave a soft huff in reply, but nothing more. She turned it over a few more times and stifled a smile; she had a hard time believing the woman sitting behind her was the owner of a mouth more worrisome than her gun. “Why don’t you just shout and spit at someone?” She suggested flatly, causing the men beside either of them to chuckle haughtily. The woman in the back seat glared at the back of her headrest, but remained silent.

A few moments later, the woman in front suppressed another smile and spoke, “Oh, now Alessia; don’t be going like that, it’s only a joke,” She paused, before carefully stuffing the weapon into the inner pocket of her dark jacket. It wasn’t actually true - the firearm had a decent wallop to it, but she did enjoy taking Alessia down a few pegs when it was necessary, and it so often was.

The cabin fell back into silence, and they continued down the road. Trees and small houses flanked their either side now as they entered a more densely populated neighbourhood. The atmosphere within the cabin grew tense; everybody but the driver sat up just a little more straight, and the car’s brakes whined as they pulled into the parking lot of a 24/7 Gas Station. A chill swept over them all as they straightened their ski masks and checked their weapons. Hairs on the back of her neck rising, she turned to the couple in the back seat, gave a quick nod, and exited from the vehicle.

The tallest woman, face all but hidden behind a ski mask but for her cool grey eyes, was of impressive stature, levelling in at a respectable six-foot-two. She possessed a trim waist and small chest, build athletic and sturdy. She glanced over at her shoulder at Alessia; she was similar to herself in all but hair colour - not that the differences could be discerned in the masks. The woman stalked past her, thin bag hanging from a clenched fist. The man who’d been sitting next to the blonde spitfire was heavily built and intimidating, possessive of a face all lines and angles. He wasn’t the most attractive man, but he got the job done, she supposed.

They stepped up toward the automatic doors, light from indoors spilling onto the concrete as they opened for the trio. Heading the group, the muscle-bound thug glanced down the aisles, as did everyone else, and satisfied that there were no witnesses, they turned to the counter.

“How can I...-“The cashier began, turning from facing the drinks for sale behind the counter, stalling upon seeing the darkly-clad, masked trio staring at him. The tallest, a woman in the centre of the group, drew and levelled the firearm to his head. The man, a balding, rotund man of thirty-something, froze out of fear. Alessia spoke, throwing the thin sack she held in her hand onto the counter.

“Put the money in the bag,” She said firmly, prompting the clerk to work. For a moment, he glanced from person to person, and gave a surprisingly calm nod. At least he seemed to know to remain calm. The clerk snapped into action as soon as he heard the tell-tale click of the safety turning off, punching his code into the register to get it to open. Forehead becoming misty, he shakily took the bag and began to load the bills quickly, bundles of green currency stuffed away. “Faster!” Alessia snapped, the man yelping and reaching further into the draw than previously.

The leader narrowed her eyes and interrupted the movement, shaking her head briskly “Leave the marked notes.”She commanded. He paused, she turned her aim upward to the ceiling, and fired, dust and plaster raining down from above. The muscle rubbed his ears sorely, and the clerk gave a shaky sigh, reluctantly withdrawing his hand from the draw and slamming it shut.

Holding both hands where they could be seen, he moved to the counter, the masked criminal snatching it from his outstretched hand, trembling as the woman holding the gun stared at him intently, re-levelling her aim to his forehead. Alessia stole out of the store first, the muscle following. The leader sighed, shaking her head as her gaze crossed from the clerk’s to the register. He stared back at her with fear, probably frantically wondering if he was about to die or not.

The woman turned the safety off. She didn’t like doing this.

Her shoulders momentarily dropped as she turned for the doors, “Sorry…” She mumbled, cool grey eyes narrowing as she ran out into the night air, rain assaulting her tall frame until she once more found herself in the passenger seat of their getaway ride.

Tires screamed, the engine revved, and they pulled out onto the road at breakneck speed, the leader pocketing her borrowed weapon.

She really didn’t like doing this.

[End notes: Again, hope you liked it, please say something if you did!]

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