FIFTY-FIVE

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Virginia was on a lunch break at the gym when the call came in over her radio: "All available units, code 3, 19700 Washington Street."

What the hell? It was the address of the Chilvati warehouses, the same place Mark had taken her months ago for their little drag race. Wrapping up the remainder of her sandwich as she walked, she then pushed her back into the door of the gym and rushed to her car. Once inside, she grabbed the radio and relayed, "18-Lincoln-23 at Main and Manchester responding."

"Copy that, 18-Lincoln-23."

Next it was the cell phone—best to go directly to the source. The captain answered on the second ring. The siren in the background told her he was on route.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"Don't really know. We've been requested as backup by the DEA. You know them, it's all hush hush."

"I'm on my way."

She tortured herself over whether to call Mark, but decided to text him instead, hoping a quick message didn't make her too traitor-like.

ARE YOU AT THE WAREHOUSES—SOMETHING BIG IS GOING DOWN

Pulling away from the curb, she turned on her siren and lights.

It took all of ten seconds to get the response.

NO BUT SIMON IS

Simon's school was already on its Christmas break, and he was making some extra money doing odd jobs for his uncle. "Shit," she muttered, tossing the phone down and pushing hard on the accelerator.

Twenty minutes later she was at the scene, maneuvering through the barricades set up to close Washington Street near the Chilvati lot. A large group of uniformed police were congregated near the front gate, all of them in Kevlar. After she parked, she went to the trunk and pulled out her own. The added weight and tight fit of the vest provided some degree of reassurance, but it came with the cautionary price of limiting mobility.

Most of her station was there, along with officers from the neighboring Harbor division. Walt was at the gate using bolt cutters. With one snap, the lock and heavy chain rattled to the ground.

The captain had just started his rundown. He held himself with a commanding presence, looking years younger out here on the street, immersed in the action instead of stuck behind that ever increasing pile of paperwork he called a desk. She knew how much he enjoyed this, but she also knew he didn't like working in situations where he was kept in the dark, unsure of what to expect.

Neither did she.

He pointed and gestured during his spiel, having to yell for all to hear. "We are here for backup only. We need to secure the perimeter, make sure no one flees the area. We are under orders to use force if necessary. My officers take the right. Harbor, take the left. Fan out every hundred yards or so. Any questions?"

When there were none to be had, he nodded with a, "Let's go!"

They rushed in, hugging the fence line behind the warehouses. Spreading out as they moved along, they stationed themselves one-by-one and a football field apart. When Virginia stopped, the rookie from her station passed her.

"Beside me, Adrian," she called to him.

He nodded over his shoulder as he kept up with the pack, looking like a poor swimmer being swept along by a strong current. Adrian had not seen much active duty yet. She guessed that he was about twenty-two, too young to be thrown into this type of situation in her opinion. She prayed nothing would happen, that they would all be sent away complaining about what a waste of time this had been.

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