Mary and Hardcastle had watched as McCormick had climbed into the warehouse. After waiting many long minutes, she decided it was time to take other action.
“It’s been too long,” she said. I’m going to have to call for back-up.“
Hardcastle was forced to agree. He had hoped McCormick would have already been out with the girl but he knew their lack of information about the set-up of the warehouse and the spy ring had made a dangerous situation even worse. He watched as Mary whipped a small aerial from her capacious purse and slapped in onto the roof of the car. He listened as she called Headquarters for the needed support.
”Headquarters, this is Mama Bird,“ said Mary. ”I have located the Base Alpha and I’m on the perimeter. Be aware there are two civilians in Alpha. Trouble and Baby Bird. Repeat, Trouble and Baby Bird.“
”Wait!“ shouted Hardcastle as he saw McCormick try to lower Krissy onto the trashcan. He flinched as he watched the Krissy crash to the ground followed by McCormick’s less than graceful leap. He could see McCormick was in pain as he raced after Krissy.
”Trouble and Baby Bird have exited Base Alpha,“ Mary said in a breathless tone as she watched her daughter being thrown into the car. ”Three-no, four men have exited Alpha Base. Weapons are visible. Send back up to 13th and Cotner, ASAP.“
Mary and Hardcastle watched as the Coyote sped past them and made a sharp right turn at the end of the block. Mary attempted to turn her vehicle as two chase vehicles followed after McCormick. She started after them while relaying information about the small but deadly convoy. As she reached the end of the block, she heard Hardcastle yell for her to stop.
”There’s Krissy!“ shouted Hardcastle.
They watched as the small girl crawled out from under an abandoned car parked on the street. She looked scared and alone. Mary braked the car with an audible shriek as Hardcastle raced out and carried Krissy to the car.
”He told me to get out and hide,“ explained Krissy as put on her seat belt and Hardcastle got back in the car. ”He said you’d come for me. Mommy, they were shouting at him. They were shooting at us,“ she said as tears began to appear in her eyes.
”Don’t worry, we’ll help him,“ Mary said as she restarted the chase. She picked up the radio and reported, ”Baby Bird is back in the nest. Trouble is being followed by two vehicles, headed north from 13th and Cotner. We are continuing the pursuit.“
”Here,“ Hardcastle said as he thrust the boxed Bilbo into the little girl’s arms. ”Take care of Bilbo. He’s scared.“
Krissy’s tears began to subside as she spoke softly to the poor animal.
* * * * *
As he heard the bullets ping against his vehicle, McCormick was glad that he had taken the precious time to get Krissy to safety. He did not know the neighborhood and suspected the men from the warehouse were trying to box him in. He knew help must be on the way but a lot of bad could happen in a few minutes. McCormick cursed out loud as he was forced to make another turn and found himself on a dead end street. He got out of the car and tried to limp to safety as two long black vehicles pulled in behind him.
* * * * *
Mr. Grace motioned for his two associates to search the shiny red car as he and Tank chased after the fleeing man. Tank grabbed McCormick and shoved him. McCormick could feel the blood begin to flow from his nose as he was pushed against the brick wall of the alley.
”She’s not here, Mr. Grace,“ yelled one of the goons. ”Neither is the cat.“
McCormick was roughly turned to face the angry men. The back of his head struck the wall as a gun was shoved under his chin.
”Where is she?“ demanded Mr. Grace.
”Darn, I knew I forgot something back there,“ said McCormick was his best false bravado voice.
”Kill him,“ ordered Grace. ”Then go back and find the girl; she couldn’t have gotten too far. Then we’ll go back to the punk’s house and start killing people until we get that cat.“
McCormick closed his eyes and pulled in one ragged breath as he waited for the final shot.
”Drop your guns and put your hands up!“ said an impersonal voice from the far side of the alley.
McCormick opened his eyes and saw a small team of armed men pointing their guns into the alley. He could see Hardcastle and Mary among the crowd with their guns drawn. Another last minute rescue, he thought as he sighed in relief.
Mr. Grace waited several moments as he assessed his chances of escape. Finally he nodded his head and his men dropped their guns to the ground as the team of federal agents swarmed into the alley.
McCormick pulled up a tired grin of relief and victory as he saw the worried Hardcastle run up to him through the crowd. He tried to hobble over to meet with him but two Feds grabbed him by the arms and shuttled him off demanding he make his statement.
Hardcastle watched as the federal officers took McCormick away. He knew they would want to get statements as quickly as possible but he objected to the hostile manner in which they handled their potential witness. He felt a soft touch on his arm and turned to face the friendly face of Mary Brown whose other arm hugged her crying daughter.
”I’ll talk to them. He’ll be okay,“ she said.
Hardcastle sighed as he thought back on the harrowing rescue scene. ”Trouble?“ he questioned.
Mary smiled. ”That’s Mr. McCormick’s code name. I told you we read his file.“
”Oh. And what’s my code name?“ he asked.
”I’m afraid that’s classified,” she said with a small laugh as they went to rescue the harassed law student.