“I don’t like this,” Pickle said, checking her pistol and her ammo.
“You never like anything,” Cherry spoke back at her, putting on her armour.
Killie slapped her shoulder pads on. “What piece am I getting?”
“Well, I only have the shotgun,” Hector said, pointing at it propped up in the garage. “Can you handle it?”
Killie simply raised her chin and walked towards it. She picked up the shotgun, checked the shells and snapped it back shut with an effortless flick of her wrist.
“That’s a yes, I’m betting,” Hector said. He clapped his hands together. “Alright, what’s the plan, Pickle?”
Pickle froze, stopped her preparation and looked up. Everyone was staring at her. She pointed at herself. “Me? I thought you were leading this op.”
Hector shook his head and pressed his lips together. “See? You’re calling it an op. I’d just be calling it… I dunno. Whatever. Come on, Pickle, I know you have a plan. Spit it out already.”
Pickle winced. “Well, as a matter of fact, I do…”
Everyone waited for her.
“Okay, check this out.” Pickle pulled up some pictures of a titty bar on their veil, visible by everyone.
Cherry snorted. “Gee, Pickle, celebrate later. Let’s do the op first.”
“This is actually their base of operations,” Pickle interrupted her before she could tease her further. “The Albanians are running their entire business through this strip club.”
“Titty bar,” Cherry corrected her.
“Whatever. The Appolonides is where they keep their valuables. It’s actually very close, just down Syggrou and right at Poseidonos Avenue.”
Hector stepped forward, crossing his arms. “Yeah, I know it’s close. But what’s the actual plan?”
“Cherry, did you get that hacking program from Tony.”
Cherry held up a tablet. “Yup. It’s all here. And next time we need something, you’re the one negotiating with that sleaze ball.”
“What did that malaka want?” Hector asked, looking pissed off.
“Just some background information about me to update his site. It wasn’t the lewdest thing I’ve ever been asked for, but somehow he makes it dirty.” Cherry shook her hands as if they had something sticky on them, with the appropriate expression of disgust.
“Can we focus on the op?” Killie demanded, slapping the wall.
“Yes. Sorry. The hacking program can get us through their automated security. These guys might be the real deal mobsters, but they’re lazy. They depend on their security tech, so it will take a while before they realise something isn’t right. Unfortunately, they have an air-gapped system.”
Hector blinked. “Which is?”
“Not connected. That means Cherry will have to sneak in fast, plug the tablet physically in Appolonides intranet and wait for it to run.”
“Tony said it takes only a couple of minutes,” Cherry added.
“That’s quite a lot, especially when you’re in there all by yourself,” Hector said, frowning.
Cherry stood up and pinched his cheek. “Aww. You’re worried about me. Don’t be, baby. I’ll be in and out before they know it.”
“We are gonna need to disable one guard at the back, there’s no way around that,” Pickle said with a sigh, turning to Killie.
Killie shrugged, propping the shotgun on her shoulder. “Consider it done.”
“Good. And then I go in, open the safe and take the black diamonds. Then get out, running like the wind.”
They all turned to Pickle. “You can open a safe?” Hector and Cherry said at the same time, where Killie just frowned.
“Yeah,” Pickle said defensively. “It’s really not that hard, guys.”
“Okay,” Hector nodded. “If you say so. Where do you want me to be?”
Pickle winced. “In the car…”
Hector raised his hands in surrender. “I get it. It’s fine, the getaway driver gets all the babes anyway.”
Cherry grabbed him around the waist and tickled him. “That has literally never happened before, honey.”
“Just let me have this one,” Hector said, smiling. He clicked his fingers. “Oh, wait! I can get you some extra padding for the armours, cover up those distinctive patterns. We don’t want someone recognizing you on the spot now, do we?”
“Good call. You do that. Okay, Pies, gear up!” Pickle ordered. They all nodded and did as told.
Cherry went off to scout ahead. The Poseidonos avenue was large, well lit and had plenty of traffic. But the Apollonides strip club was behind a big parking space that was closed off, offering a modicum of privacy. If someone followed you, he would spot you in the car, but cars came and went all the time and patrons could get in and out discreetly. They couldn’t park too close. Hector stopped at the spot where Pickle indicated.
“What, no argument?” Pickle asked, checking social media feeds for last-minute information.
“About the place to stop? Of course not. I’m sure you thought of the best place already, and this is it.” Hector tapped his fingers on the steering wheel.
“Well, yeah. This way you can take off either East or West, and you have a clear enough path to see us coming and get ready. Also…”
Hector raised a hand and interrupted her. “As I said, it’s fine. Focus on the next thing, please. Cherry is in there. What are you looking for in the Agora profiles?”
Pickle grinned. “You’d be surprised how much info your can gather from people’s social media feeds. Look, this guy doesn’t care, he’s unmarried, he streamed the whole entry going in five minutes ago. It’s like having a spy cam!” She let go of a laugh.
“That wasn’t creepy at all,” Killie said from the back seat. “I’m getting into position.” She clicked her tongue and got out of the car.
“Hey, how come we didn’t get Mamacita for this?” Hector asked.
“Eh, I don’t really trust her.” Pickle instantly regretted it. She looked up to see a disappointed Hector. “Okay, look, I’m willing to. It just takes time, alright?”
“Fine,” Hector breathed out. “Is Cherry in?”
“Hold on…” Pickle said, raising a finger and checking the feeds.
Cherry was balancing on a wall. It was an old wall, definitely older than she was. She stepped on a brick and it came off, and she fell on her belly, reached down and grabbed the brick in the air before it fell with a crash.
Oof. That was close.
Thankfully, she had the tablet on a rugged bag with a strap on the small of her back, or else she’d have probably broken it with her sudden fall. She went vewy, vewy quiet and and looked around. The patrons were going in and out, focused on their feet. The shame kept them from looking up to notice her. Good.
Nah, it was probably the chilly night. Nobody ever dressed too warm in Athens, and there were warm bodies ready to rub on you for the price of a drink inside, so why take your time?
Cherry made the last few metres and found her entry spot. It was a sentry station. The security drones were land-based. Bars like these didn’t like having the flying drones buzzing around, it made the patrons weary, feeling recorded like that. But the land thingies were more discreet. They had wheels and zoomed around the place, the parking lot, under the cars. They were kinda cute, but Cherry didn’t wanna see how cute at that moment, for they would certainly raise the alarm. The Albanians weren’t stupid, they responded to an incident quite fast. Pickle had found plenty of videos of them taking down drunken patrons and stalkers waiting around for the strippers.
Cherry hugged the wall and slid down. Her armour was dark, and with the added padding Hector glued on, she was like a ninja. A sexy ninja with an amazing ass. Gods, she wanted to take an ass selfie right about now, but Hector and Pickle would scold her for it. She snuck further inside. Suddenly, there was noise and she crouched down.
A patron was coming in, kicking the dirt. He was already piss drunk. The bouncers wouldn’t appreciate that. Not your problem, Cherry. Moving on. She made sure no one else was coming and she waited for the drones’ rotation. She took the starting position like a sprinter, and one, and two, and bam! Run like the wind, Cherry!
She sprinted as quietly as she could and then threw her body inside a ledge on the wall. It was completely dark, covering her up from prying eyes and any surveillance.
Good. One more sprint to go. That one was actually trickier. There were those silly plants in the middle. The Albanians had tried to make the place prettier, but then they must have realised it limited visibility and they chopped things left and right, making it look even worse that before. More importantly, the pathetic-looking trees were in her way.
Nevermind. She could do it.
Just one more sprint, and then she could plug in the hacking tablet.
She waited for Pickle’s mark on their encrypted group chat. One, two, three!
She dashed forward, and slipped on the gravel and the dirt. Ow! Her ankle. No, it wasn’t a sprain, but it was definitely not good. She hid behind the big plant and grabbed the tablet from her back, bringing it forward and looking for the cable in the dark. She kept the case’s cover on, only opening it slightly to avoid the light from the screen betraying her location.
Success. Cable was in at the drones’ charging station, the program was running and she was victorious.
Who da girl?
Cherry da girl. She assumed the triumphant pose, the one she took whenever she scored a skull. Her fans loved it.
And then something red blinked next to her, and a security drone whirred to life.
End of chapter 2.