Andrea walked down the dark city street, brooding on her own thoughts. The night was cold, cold enough to garauntee that she couldn't get a taxi home.
    Hearing footsteps behind her, she looked over her shoulder and saw a casually dressed man walking about half a block behind her on the other side of the street. She shrugged mentally, but quickened her step. Not every man on the street at midnight was a mugger, but a little paranoia could be a healthy thing, she knew.
    She hated the clicking noise her heels made on the sidewalk. She believed that the noise alerted any hoodlum within earshot that a woman was approaching, and women could be easy prey for a variety of crimes. Her thoughts returned inward and she stumbled and almost fell. Catching herself against a newspaper machine, she felt the heel on her right shoe break. Great, she thought, think badly about them and they break. Brilliant. She decided that she could make the rest of the trip in her stocking feet, and bent over to pull off her shoes. Looking up, she noticed that the man walking behind her had also stopped about twenty feet away, and was watching her.
    "Oh shit..." she breathed. He looked a little too alert to be an ordinary passer by. Shoes her in left hand, right hand on top of her open purse, she started to walk down the street, back the way she came. She glanced at her observer, daring him to do something.
    He crossed the street ahead of her, walked towards her. She was obviously his objective. Andrea turned away from him, about to run, when two more men, built well enough to worry her, stepped out from a narrow street in front of her.
    Maybe they're just well organized muggers
. She thought desperately. Of course they aren't, you silly bitch. She chided herself. But try a bluff, anyway.
    "Uh, you guys want my wallet, right?" she said nervously. "It's in my purse, hold on I'll-" she stopped as the three men circled her. Two of them grabbed her, one on each arm. Andrea felt the blood drain out of her face. Training never really prepares a person for reality. "Really," she said frantically, "It's right here-"
  "We don't want your wallet." The third man said quietly. He looked at his companions and then jerked his head towards the alley they had just exited. "That'll do." he said. They began to pull the struggling Andrea into the dark.
  "Oh shit. Please don't hurt me...please." she protested, genuinely scared.
  They reached the darkness of the narrow street and stopped. The spokesman of the group looked at her for a long moment. Andrea tightened her grip on the broken heel in her left hand, she had dropped her shoes on the street.
  "Are you Andrea Smith?" he asked finally. Panic swept over her, no one outside of Code Black knew her by that name.
  "No, no, I've never heard of her." she whimpered. "Look, please let me go, I've got money..." The spokesman took a switchblade out of his pocket and cut the strap holding her purse on her shoulder. He looked inside.
  "The id's are here." Andrea assumed he meant the cards identifying her as a member of several intelligence agencies. "She's Smith, all right." he looked at her again. "You don't have as much money as we're getting for handing you over." he told her coldly. Andrea dropped down, wrenched her right arm free, and slapped at the watch on her wrist. Satisfied that the emergency beacon had been activated, she transferred the heel into her right hand and swung it towards the eyes of the man on her right. It missed his eye, but tore his face open and caused enough of a distraction for her to wriggle out of her coat and free of the man on her right.
  Her balance was off, and she fell onto her right side, sprawled slightly, and kicked out at the shins of the spokesman. The kick lacked force and he remained standing, but she heard him cry out in pain and saw her purse fall to the ground. Grabbing the purse and rolling away from the two men, further into the alley, Andrea wondered how long it would take for someone, anyone, to get to her.
  She almost laughed when her questing hand found the stilleto knife in her purse. It seemed fitting to maintain a theme.
  She glanced around to assess the situation just as one of her three assailiants, the one who was unharmed so far, tackled her. She thrust the stiletto into his body and pushed him away from her. He stood unsteadly, hand over the puncture wound in his stomach, and was about to attack her again when he suddenly stiffened and collapsed, dead. Andrea would have been impressed by the poison's potency, if she had had the time.
  The other two men, preparing to attack her, paused momentarily. The spokesman still held his switchblade.
  "It's poisoned, you fucks." she snapped. "Come on and kidnap me." That was really dumb, she realized.
  The man with the switchblade hesitated and then lunged towards her. The clumsiness of his attack surprised her, and she wasn't able to counter it effectively. A deep gash, blood flowing easily from it, opened across the right side of her torso and across her arm. The stilletto clattered out of her suddenly numb hand.
  Knowing better than to reach for it, she moved away from him, and looked around herself, hoping to find something that could be useful. "Okay." she gasped around the pain. "That was pretty good." Dizziness swept over her, and admitted to herself that she was in deep shit. He lunged at her again, but she was able to dodge and aim a kick at the back of his knees. He cursed and fell onto all fours.
  Andrea heard tires squealing nearby and hoped that it was someone coming to rescue her, and not reinforcements for the other side. She realized that she was shaking and fell to her knees. A pair of arms reached around from behind and entrapped her. Christ, I forgot about him, she thought hysterically.
  "Gotcha, you-" his breath wooshed out as Andrea elbowed him in the solar plexus. Leaning against the wall for support, Andrea hauled herself up and saw two men, in better shape than she, who were determined to kidnap her. Oh, if there's a God... she closed her eyes, uncertain if she would be able to open them again.
  Tires squealed again, closer this time, and Tulrabi's battered van rounded the corner. As Andrea slumped down towards the ground, a faint smile on her face, she saw that Jason, not Tulrabi, was behind the wheel. Marlena was with him, and they both wore expressions that Andrea desperately hoped weren't aimed towards her. If looks could kill...she thought.


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