Randian sighs loudly.
“So what’s the plan?”
Indy snatches the cigarette from my hand, and I in turn snatch the bottle from his and drink the remaining drops.
“We pack the car with explosive goodies and block the road right?” Indy asks
“No way” Brass responds, turning to Indy, “It’s too small to block the road, and the car would be seen from miles away. This is the only stretch of road between the city and the bypass, it’s the only choke spot we have. If the van makes it to the bypass, it’s gone. If we stop it before it gets to the bridge, it will divert. We need to stop it right where it is”
“So we stop it then yeah?” Brain states wearily.
“Yes Brain” Randian says patting him on the back, “that was an excellent contribution to the operation.”
Brain, seemingly unaware of the mockery, smiles broadly, before his eyes once again drift off into the ether.
“I’ve taken the liberty of planting a number of party balloons in strategic locations around the outer city that will all detonate at 2am on the dot. There will be numerous calls to the emergency services at this time. This will direct all of the police to locations away from the choke point. So there will be no unwanted guests at our party.” Brass grins.
Randian nods in appreciation.
“There’s no risk they’ll go off too early or too late?” Indy asks.
Indy had become something of a bomb connoisseur over the years, and had some skill in making effective time-delays.
“Not a chance” Brass responds “they’re all made by Cuckoo himself.”
“Really?” Indy’s face lights up “I lived in a squat with him a couple of years ago, his bombs are fucking lethal!”
Cuckoo was known to many in X faction circles as being an expert bomb maker, partly owing to his obsessive compulsive disorder, and a need for perfection in everything he made. Such desire for meticulous precision seemed contradictory to the chaotic cause to which his bombs were applied.
“They’re not that big, but they’ll raise a few heartbeats, enough to stir some shit up.” Brass responds to Indy, “I had him make me an extra-large depth charge for the main event. This one is connected to a mobile phone. It’s under the manhole lid under the bridge. It will detonate when I call it.”
“Ring ring boom!” Brain laughs vacantly.
Pogo slaps him viciously across the back of the head, causing him to yelp sharply and stumble away in fear.
Randian steps forward, “The van will be connected to a GPS, which detects any prolonged or unexpected stoppage. Should the van stop, the Paramilitaries will be scrambled immediately. I’ve taken the liberty of disrupting this connection –the Big Boots will be completely unaware of any interference”
Brass nods at Randian.
“Good work Prince” He winks, “I also have a homemade stinger in the boot of the car. It’s a rack of nails on a timber board” Brass continues.
“We’ll hide in the bushes at the side of the road, wait until the van approaches, then throw the stinger out to burst its tyres. If my estimations are correct, the van will grind to a halt right over the manhole lid, then we detonate the depth charge.”
Randian shakes his head slowly.
“Cash in transit vans have run-on-flat tires, made from extra durable Kevlar netted rubber” Randian chimes in, “your stinger won’t even make a dent, and even if it does, it won’t grind to a halt, it will keep moving!”
“Have you ever stopped one before Randian?” Brass says, poking Randian in the chest.
“-Then what the fuck do you know about it then?”
“It’s not going to work Brass, we need a backup plan”
“Oh really?” Brass spits, offended “Well why don’t you run home and get your laptop, send a computer virus to the van’s tires and make them explode?”
Randian grits his teeth angrily, seething.
Brass turns away dismissively, addressing the group as a whole.
“When the van goes up, they will try to escape.”
I nod, awaiting our part in the plan.
“We come down on them hard” Brass grins wickedly, “Petrol bombs, bottles, rocks, whatever missiles you can throw at them, we’re gonna declare judgement day on the fuckers.”
“How many will there be?” Indy asks
“Two armed civilians, one of whom will be the driver, and three or four Big Boots.” Brass responds, “They will be heavily armed, so be prepared for a fight.”
“Armed with what?” Sadie asks, “Shotguns?”
“Most likely yes” Brass responds, “Anyone ever come up against a shotgun before?”
“We have” I say motioning to myself and Indy, “When the Boots raided us in Brighton”
“Just remember this, if one barrel sits on top of another, they have range, so zig-zag and sidestep out,” I explain, “If they barrels sit side by side, they have a broad spread, so step the fuck back” I continue, “most modern shotguns carry six rounds, that means they can fire three times before being reloaded, so keep an eye on how many shots have been fired, they take a long fucking time to reload.”
Brass nods in my direction, grateful for my input.
“Three shots,” he says, “After the third shot, charge the bastards. Hit them with everything you’ve got. Don’t let any of them get away.” Brass raises his fists and throws two uppercuts into the air, his knuckle dusters glistening in the moonlight.
“What about bucklers? Will they have bucklers?” Indy asks.
“Not likely” Randian says dismissively, shaking his head, “Bucklers are too cumbersome to fit in cash-in-transit vans”.
Brass puffs his chest out, straightening the sleeves on his jacket.
“Yeah” Sadie chips in, “What exactly are we doing this for?”
“We’re doing it because Zero wants it done.”
“Fuck off” I spit, “You don’t know Zero” I say sceptically.
“He came to our squat looking for volunteers”
“I don’t buy that.”
“I don’t fucking sell it.”
“How did you even know it was Zero and not just some faggot claiming to be him?”
“When you see him, you just know it’s him.”
“Oh right” I say, “That explains that then. I suppose that idiot Pyrus and Zero are the best of friends too” I say sarcastically, “So why isn’t Zero here right now joining the charge?”
“Everything we do is connected to everything else, dumb shit” Brass growls, “Zero’s oiling the gears of the chain somewhere else, we just need a reaction”
“Answer my question Brass!” Sadie shouts impatiently.
“I don’t fucking know Sadie!” He turns to her angrily, “There’s something in that van, a box or something that Zero wants, are you gonna question him?”
“Sorry Brass” She mocks, “But I have problems taking orders outside of the bedroom, if you haven’t already guessed.”
I smirk at Sadie, raising my eyebrow. She glares at me indifferently.
“Well then” Brass says cracking his neck, “What the fuck did you come along for? Wanted to get a nice view of the pretty fireworks?”
“Nah” She shrugs, “I was bored, and I’m all out of coke.”
“That’s a good enough reason for me” Indy sniggers.
I look over at Indy apathetically.
“What time are we on?” I say.
Brass pulls the phone from his pocket.
“Quarter to” He says shoving the phone back into his jeans.
“Right” I say slapping my hands together, “Let’s get to it.”
“Give me the keys” Randian says, extending his hands in Brass’ direction, “I’ll pop the boot.”
Brass reaches into his jacket and throws the keys to Randian, who catches them and walks hastily towards the car, opening the door he reaches in and opens the boot.
Brass and Pogo move towards the back of the car, retrieving the stinger.
Randian’s concerns are well-founded. The stinger is a shoddily crafted rectangular piece of timber, peppered with nine-inch nails. We walk with it for a while, until we are on the edge of the bridge. We carefully climb the barrier, and hastily carry the stinger down the grass embankment, nestling ourselves into the bushes. The entire road, even the bypass, is totally empty. I quickly scan around for cameras, but find nothing. This is the perfect spot for an ambush.
“There” Brass points to a manhole cover, “That’s where the depth charge is, that’s where the van will stop.”
I nod at him silently.
“We’ll throw the stinger out into the road about a second before the van comes out.” He explains, “I’ll go on the left, and you go on the right. We throw it in one swift movement, it will slide in front of the van.”
He turns to Pogo and Sadie.
“You guys, go further up.”
“You got the bottles from the car?” He asks,
Sadie holds up her petrol bomb, grinning.
Pogo holds two up and begins to juggle them.
“Stop fucking about Pogo!” Brass shouts, “You drop them and I’ll drop you!” He spits.
Pogo catches the bottles in his hands, giggling wickedly.
Brass winces slightly.
“Get up there, and when the van stops, hit them with everything you’ve got, burn the fuckers out.”
“Prince Randian and Brain-dead” He says, turning to them, “You guys go on the other side of the road, further up”
Randian raises his thumb, unenthused.
“If anything goes wrong, if anybody tries to escape, attack attack attack.”
Brain smacks his lips, widening his eyes, as Randian turns and walks towards his position.
“Get a move on then!” I order.
Brain turns and hastily follows Randian.
“Indy” He says, “You stay here with us”
“Right” He replies,
“The second we throw the stinger, get out there and hit them with a petty bomb, we clear?”
“Crystal.” He nods confidently, pressing his bowler hat tight onto his head.
“Why does he wear that thing?” Brass whispers to me,
“To keep his hair nice and dry, stupid!” I snigger.
Anticipation fills me, as I hear the dull hum of a diesel engine in the distance.
Brass holds the phone in his hand, ready to dial. I glance across at the time as it changes to 2:00.
“They’re here.” I chime, as the soft but noticeable sound of explosions echo in the distance.
“That’s the party balloons” Brass grins.
I look up to see a pair of headlights heading towards us at the end of the road. I grip the stinger tightly, deliberately thumbing the tip of one of the nails, piercing my index finger.
I look behind us at Indy, crouching with a bottle in one hand and a lighter in the other. My attention shifts further up the road to Pogo and Sadie. Sadie is crouched, Pogo standing, with a bottle in one hand and the other tucked into his crotch.
Finally, I look across to Brain, who is on all fours staring vacantly across at Pogo.
“Shit!” I whisper, “Where’s Randian?!” I ask urgently.
“What?” Brass turns to look, “he’s fucked off!” He growls, “What a pussy!” he spits angrily.
“Or a bastard spy” I growl.
Cunt. I never trusted those techno-anarchists. Fights with his hands? what a crock of shit, and he barely touched the Minstrel.
“No time to worry about that now” Brass responds, gripping the stinger, as headlights approach in the distance.
The engine roars closer. The gears shift and the van accelerates towards us. The headlights are bright, and begin to burn my eyes. I grip the stinger tightly.
“Now!” Brass barks.
In a fluid motion, we throw the stinger forward. It skids across the tarmac. A loud crunch of steel echoes under the bridge as the van runs the stinger down. The van slows down slightly, but continues to move. I look at the stinger to see most of the nails have been flattened.
Brass hits his phone hastily to dial out.
Almost immediately, a deafening blast erupts from the manhole cover as the van drives over it. The cover clatters against the base of the van, as dark orange flames erupt outwards from underneath the van.
“Shit!” Brass curses, as the van continues to move onwards, accelerating hard.
Indy steps out, running forward with a lit bottle and hurls it after the van. It flies through the air, but fails to catch the van, hitting the ground and exploding, spreading a plume of flames across the ground.
Brass stands up gripping a bottle from the ground.
“Sadie! Pogo!” He shouts in their direction, “Hit them! Hit them!”
Sadie appears ahead of the van with a lit petrol bomb in her hand and throws it towards the oncoming vehicle. It hits the ground before the van and erupts into flames, causing the van to swerve, slowing it down long enough for Pogo to throw a second bottle, this time a direct hit on the side of the van. Flames trail from the van as it tries to continue moving.
I look across to Indy as Brass sprints after the van, having lit his petrol bomb. I grab the last remaining bottle and sprint after him, quickly followed by Indy.
The van slows rapidly as Pogo runs directly in front of the van with another, unlit bomb in hand.
I continue to chase the van as Pogo throws the bomb at the front of the van before diving into bush where Brain stands idly by. The bottle breaks, soaking the van in petrol and tar, which ignites from the existing flames.
The van briefly comes to a full stop, long enough for Brass to meander passed the existing lake of fire created by Indy’s first bottle.
The rag on Brass’ bottle is burning wildly.
“Throw it Brass!” I shout after him, “It’s gonna go up!”.
At once Brass throws the bomb, it twirls through the air rapidly, hitting the back of the van, and causing more flames to erupt. The van is now wrapped in dark orange flames. The van accelerates once more, as the driver panics, swerving wildly across the road. Sadie leaps backwards, narrowly avoiding the van as it charges towards her.
The flames on the van begin to simmer down as the van gains some speed. Emerging from under the bridge, the van has passed all of us, and seems to be out of our reach.
It is then that the car appears from the other side, heading directly towards the van. The crunch of twisted metal rings out through the air as the cars collide head on. The car skids backwards, as the van grinds to a standstill. I continue to run towards the van, overtaking Brass.
A moment passes as the flames on the van begin to spread once more across the stationary van. The passenger door opens up, and a tall man appears, coughing and spluttering, desperately trying to escape the flames. Sadie spots him, racing after him, she lunges towards him with a scalpel in hand, slashing at his back. The man stumbles, then continues to run. Pogo chases him down, hacking at him from behind with the machete. The blade connects with his neck, and the man drops to the floor, squirming. In a flash, Pogo stands above him, places his foot on his back and drives the blade down into his neck. He twitches violently for a moment, then falls limp. Sadie rushes towards the body, flipping him over, she reaches into his jacket pocket and takes a revolver, smirking as she raises it to her face.
All at once, the backdoors of the van burst open, and three men appear with shotguns raised. The Big Boots. I slow down slightly as I quickly examine where the barrels are placed. I see they are side by side. From my position, they are unlikely to do much damage to me. I throw my bottle through the air towards the van. Two of the men dive out of the way as it hits the ground not far from the van, and petrol splashes into the air. In a second, it catches fire, and one of the Big Boots erupts into flames, running forwards in panic, then rolling across the ground screaming in agony. Brain rushes towards one of the Big Boots, wielding a knife above his head. A shotgun blast echoes throughout the tunnel, as he turns to Brain and fires a shot directly into his face, killing him instantly. Brain’s lifeless body is propelled backwards by the blast, and lies slumped at the side of the road. His head resembling a mutilated hunk of gory flesh.
Brain’s killer turns rapidly, shrouded by smoke and fire, looking for us desperately. He turns to face me, spying me through the smoke, and starts in my direction aiming his shotgun in my direction. Pogo emerges from the smoke directly behind him, wielding his bloodied machete. In an instant, he slashes at the back of his neck, expertly targeting the unprotected part underneath his helmet, and above his back plate. He drops to his knees, grasping the back of his neck with his hand. Pogo seizes the opportunity to stamp his heel into the man’s hand, shattering his fingers and discharging the shotgun. The shot spreads out across the floor, missing Pogo. As the echo fades, the shrill laughter of Pogo can be heard as he descends on the wounded Bootman like a vulture.
I can hear the heavy footsteps of Brass and Indy behind me. I look towards the second Bootman, who is wading through the smoke towards Sadie. He spots her, raising his shotgun to take aim. She holds the revolver out in front of her and pulls the trigger, but no shot rings out. She dives behind the car which blocked the van’s escape. A shot is fired towards the car, narrowly missing Sadie. I stop short of the Bootman, grabbing a stray rock from the side of the road. I take aim and hurl it towards him. It hits him on the back of the helmet. He turns to face me. I rush to the left and he discharges the gun once more, narrowly missing me. He steps forwards into the smoke, looking down at the lifeless burning body of his comrade, he discharges another shot into the smoke. For a moment, I think he may have hit Pogo, but turn to see that he is unperturbed by the near miss, and is maniacally stamping on the injured Bootman he’d accosted earlier.
Brass continues the charge, running straight towards the Bootman, as he desperately tries to reload. I run parallel to Brass. Rushing past Pogo. I move around to the side of the van, the flames of which are beginning to die down. Coming around to the front of the van, I see the car. Randian is leaning across from the driving seat to the back door, opening it, Sadie throws herself inside, and he begins to reverse. I continue running around the front of the van to apprehend the Bootman from the back. Brass is engaged in a fight with the man, swinging his Brass knuckle-imbued fists into the Bootman’s face, clipping his helmet each time. The Bootman is staggering backwards, trying to reload the shotgun. I rush forward, leaping into the air feet first, I kick the Bootman hard in the back, knocking him forwards towards Brass, who uppercuts him in the chin.
The Bootman manages to hold his footing, dropping the shotgun, he swiftly pulls an extendable baton from his belt, and swings wildly, hitting Brass across the face, knocking him backwards to the floor. I leap onto his back, wrapping my forearm around his throat, and tightening it. He lashes the baton backwards against my flailing legs. The impact rocks my shins, but I feel no pain. Indy charges forwards from the front, a flick knife in his hand. He jabs the blade forwards into the Bootman’s stomach. The impact is absorbed by the armour. Indy pulls back and slashes at the Bootman’s wrist. The cut is deep and bleeds immediately. The Bootman drops the baton, and I release my grip from his neck, and begin throwing punches across his abdomen, to little effect. Indy slashes wildly at the Bootman’s face, who begins to retreat.
Brass recovers, standing tall he removes the padlock and chain from around his neck, steps behind the Bootman, shoving me out of the way, and loops the chain around the Bootman’s neck, twisting it tightly, choking him. I move to where Indy is stood, and hold my hand out. He hands me the knife, and I lunge forwards, driving it over the chain and into his throat. Blood erupts from his neck, as his feet give way entirely to the chain. Brass grips it tightly, as the Bootman submits to his injuries, twitching violently. Eventually, Brass releases him, and he collapses to the floor, a pool of blood spreading across the tarmac.
Myself, Indy and Brass take a moment to look down at the man briefly, before turning to the direction of Pogo. Who is straddling the remaining Bootman, laughing maniacally, smashing his fists into his face, as he tries desperately to escape.
A shot rings out, and Indy crumbles to the floor, cradling his leg. His bowler hat falls off his head, rolling across the floor. We turn to the direction of the shot. The driver stands there facing us, wearing a long beige coat and holding a pistol in his hands. In a flash, Brass and I dive for cover behind the van. Three more shots ring out, one of them ricocheting off the van. Crouching down against the wheel arches, we exchange glances briefly.
“He’s got two shots left” I say to Brass, who nods in return, “We could rush him from either side of the van”
“One of us will get it if we do” Brass responds hurriedly.
“Indy’s gonna get one in the head if we don’t”
Brass scowls at me, but quickly relents.
The sound of an engine roars, as Randian pulls the car up next to us.
“Get in.” He impetrates.
We throw ourselves into the back with Sadie, pressing her up against the window. Before we can close the door, Randian reverses rapidly.
“Heads down” Randian says leaning backwards, “Now!”
Randian pushes the gear stick into first and slams the accelerator down, jolting the car forwards. I keep my head up. With my head between my knees, a crash will break my neck.
Randian swerves violently around the van, heading straight towards the driver. He turns around, fires a shot towards the car which shatters the windscreen.
A dull thud is heard as Randian crashes into the man, sending him crashing over the top of the car. I look out of the back window, which is still intact, to see the man crashing limply to the floor.
Randian brings the car to a halt.
“Fuck!” Brass barks, cradling his shoulder, “That fucking hit me.”
I open the door again, rushing out towards Indy, who is rolling around on the floor in agony.
I quickly swoop to the floor to help.
“Get up Indy, we’ve got to go.”
“The bastard shot me Pick!”
“I can see that, suck it up, we’ve got to go.”
“I can’t walk Pick.”
I grip him roughly by the shoulders and heave him up to his feet, letting him rest most of his weight on me, and we limp back towards the car.
I throw Indy roughly into the car.
“You alright with them Sadie?” I ask.
“Wait here for me.” She responds, “Don’t die until I get back.”
She exits the car from the other side, and walks over towards the man on the floor, picking his pistol up from the ground nearby, she aims it at his head and pulls the trigger. His head bounces against the ground as the bullet shatters his skull. She tucks the pistol into her belt and casually walks back towards the car.
Brass, still cradling his shoulder, crawls across the seat and exits the vehicle.
“Sadie” He says in a strained voice, “Get back in the car, stop fucking about.”
I climb into the car next to Indy, who has pressed his leg up against the back of the seat to stop the bleeding. I take my shirt off and wrap it around his leg like a tourniquet.
Brass walks over to Pogo, gripping him by the shoulder, and throwing him off the barely conscious Bootman.
“You’re coming with us” He growls angrily at the semi-conscious Bootman, gripping one of his legs with his good arm and dragging him roughly towards the car. Randian pops the boot open, as Brass and Pogo roughly bundle him into the boot, spitting on him, they slam the boot closed.
Brass then returns to the van, disappearing into the back, he emerges seconds later with a black case. He then climbs into the front seat, setting it down on his knee, as Pogo climbs into the back with Sadie. The car is cramped in the back, and the smell of blood is only lightly masked by the pungent smell of smoke and petrol fumes.
“Get us out of here Randian” I spit angrily, “Brass, where’s your squat?”
“We can’t go there” Brass states, “Where’s yours?”
“Old Oxford Circus, the abandoned train station” I respond, “It’s off a main road, not a good place to hide.”
“Who wants to hide? We’re just here for the ride!” Pogo chants rhythmically
“Shut the fuck up Pogo!” Brass barks angrily
Pogo sniggers wildly, rubbing his face with his palm.
Randian accelerates rapidly, turning to Brass.
“We’re going to my squat.” Randian says blankly.
“Where is it?” Brass asks.
“You’ll find out, it’s safe.”
“I’m not going anywhere until you tell me where it is.” Sadie growls
“Alright then Sadie” Randian says as the car gains speed, “You’re welcome to jump out at any point. Don’t let the tarmac rip your skin off on the way out.”
Sadie grimaces angrily, as Pogo chuckles heartily.
“Okay” Brass nods, “We’ll go to your place, but if I tell you to take a diversion, you’d better do it. Anywhere there’s a party balloon, there will be police.”
“Just let me know” Randian nods, focussing intently on the road.
“You’re gonna be okay” I say, gripping Indy by the shoulder, “We’ll get you right.”
© JC Axe 2014