Brand sat on the couch lost in his thoughts. He rejected the offer of food. As the other men ate, he kept replaying the shooting earlier in the day. Finally, he gave up. Experts, he came to realize, had set him up.
The cops undoubtedly checked the store video proving he was in the area at the same time detective Walgreen took a bullet and there were a fair amount of people in the parking lot to witnesses him running, which he had, when he chased the shooter. These factors combined with the appearance of his stolen gun at the scene, which naturally would have his fingerprints on it, made any defense he claimed reasonably weak. Unless, unless he was somehow able to track down the man who shot Walgreen, and get the shooter to confess. Depending on whether the man remained in the city, which of course was very unlikely if the Colombians were smart.
No problem, he told himself. He only needed to avoid a gang of outlaw bikers and a Colombian Cartel looking to run their competition from the city. So, all he had to do was find a phone Jerry had lost while drinking and then convince the Colombians to leave his friends alone while locating the man responsible for shooting a police officer, and all this, while avoiding death Cartel fashion for burning down their drug distribution warehouse. He contemplated asking Roy’s man to go back to the bar for another bottle of rye. One wasn’t going to be enough.
Brand was pondering the second bottle of rye when the sound of gunfire snapped him back to reality. The door to the back office flew open. A bartender, a towel still grasped in his hand, hurried into the room. Words spewed from the man’s mouth between gasps of breathe.
“We got gunmen pouring in through the front door. They’re shooting the place up.” The biker yelled. The men in the room stood as one, everyone’s attention focused on the bartender’s words. Roy hesitated briefly then rushed toward a closet at the far end of the office. He pulled the door open and flicked on the lights then sweeping hangers of clothes aside he slid a panel aside revealing a hidden compartment.
Brand shook his head, clearing what he thought were the effects of the whiskey. The niche, hidden in the back of the closet, resembled a small armoury. Light glinted off a row of assault rifles. Army issues. On a bench below the rifles, a handful of 9-mm handguns spread among boxes of ammo.
Roy was the first one into the closet and started passing weapons and boxes of ammunition to his men. Along with the guns, the leader of the Wolves issued orders. The first of the men to receive the firearms moved to cover the office door.
“Boss. We’ll secure the hallway. You get the hell out of here.” One of the men told Roy.
“No. I don’t think so.” Roy quashed the man’s plea. “These bastards want to shoot up my club then they'll pay dearly.”
“You are not going to do anybody any good by getting killed. ”The man replied. Roy ignored the appeal.
“Calvin. You stay here and get on your phone. See which of our boys are close to the area and call them in. The police will be coming. Get a hold of our contact and make certain that some of the uniforms showing up are friendly. When you've done that, hide the rest of these guns in case the joint gets searched.”
Brand fought against the dulling effects of the whiskey, adrenaline from sudden attack clearing his mind.
“Can we get to the second floor from here.” He asked no one in particular.
“Down at the end of the hallway, the first door on your right. Before the entrance to the bar.” Someone answered.
“Toss me one of those guns, Roy.” Brand demanded. The alcohol had helped him push the pain in his body to the back of his mind. In a rush, he grabbed a gun from Roy’s hands. Instinctively, he checked the magazine before worked the rifles bolt action jacking a shell into the empty chamber and stood ready waiting for his brother. Roy motioned with the barrel of his weapon directing men to defensive positions.
“You two. Cover the back door. Vaun, take Mike and Saddler. You three,” He said, “get down the hall. Block the door from the main bar and hold it. Nobody comes through.”
He looked down at Brand. “You ready,” he asked, then followed the three men into the hallway toward the front of the building. His men took positions at the door, separating the back rooms and the main bar, while Roy led the way up the stairwell to the second floor.
Carefully the pair scanned the stairwell as they climbed to a mezzanine overlooking the bar area. Bullets thudded into walls. The echo of gunfire mixed with screams and hollering as the brothers hurried to the upper level.
Roy ran ahead. A few long strides across the balcony, he stopped behind a cluster of wood wrapped columns, his back tight to the wood. Brand topped the stairs and using clad half post for cover, he inched his face around the post, his eyes quickly scanning the havoc playing out among the tables and patrons on the lower floor. The flickering strobe lights added a surreal, staccato motion to the chilling dance one story down, the two searching the dance floor for the gunmen who had entered the club.
From behind the decorative baluster, Brand surveyed the floor. The pulsating strobe lights lit the floor. Brand struggled to concentrate as he tried to distinguish armed assailants from beer drinkers and the clubs staff, advantage to the gunmen. While he and Roy’s men hesitated, careful to separate club's patrons from gun wielding assailants, the intruding gangsters had no such restrictions. A group of suited men stood side by side with bikers wearing Warrior colours. The cartel alliance walked deeper into the noisy, poorly lit bar sealing off the street entrance, preventing the scared customers from leaving. The line of suited and leather clad enemies advanced with automatic rifles held in their hands, content to fire sporadic rounds of bullets over the heads of the bars panicking clientele.
Brand caught movement from the bar side of the room. A bartender levelled a handgun at a biker from the rival gang, the biker’s actions quicker than the bartenders. Bullets from an automatic rifle tore into the bartender’s upright body. Brand swore and concentrated, his eyes narrowed against the pulsing lighting playing over the crowded room. Locking on the biker, he sighted the length of the barrel of his gun.
He drew a calming breath, tracking the leather wearing biker’s movements. He waited a heartbeat. The Warrior raised his gun toward the side. Caught in front of the biker’s sights, another club employee pinned in the open. With a gentle squeeze of his finger, a trail of bullets from Brand’s gun knocked the biker to the floor.
As soon as the shots exploded from the barrel of his gun, Brand swung his head, his eyes sweeping the confusion below for a second target, his finger ready against the trigger. Brand heard the bark of Roy’s gun as he strained to separate friend from foe through the flickering club lights.
A fusillade of bullets angled upward from the front of the bar tearing into the wooden posts on the second floor. Brand dropped to the ground to avoid the return fire. A short distance across the balcony, Roy sat with his back to the cluster of columns. Bullets sprayed upward tearing chunks of wood from the post Brand used as cover. The column rattled and shook. The two brothers trapped in the flurry of bullets, unable to move.
A pause in the battle allowed Brand to snake a look from behind his shelter. The flickering lights of the nightclub made detection of the gunmen a challenge. The flickering lights played tricks with his eyes, messed with his focus, blurring the commotion on the lower level, the actions of the people below flashing in and out in a sporadic motion. A pair of men came into view from the side of the room.
He angled the barrel of the gun in the men’s direction and put pressure on the trigger. Bullets erupted, striking the floor, missing the pair by inches. A volley of shots answered his actions, forcing him to duck back behind the safety of the baluster. The brief moment he had to survey the situation below told a bleak tale.
The floor littered with writhing bodies of wounded and screaming patrons and the silhouettes of rival gang members. The cries of the wounded rose up over the loud techno beat that still boomed and echoed off the walls of the bar. His rushed glimpse revealed pockets of Roy’s men hidden behind the barest of cover, bravely resisting the swarming enemies.
Crouched over, a lull in searching fire allowed Brand to scuttle closer to Roy. The music and screams made talking impossible. When he neared Roy, he hollered.
“Any idea how many gunmen we’re up against?” Roy shook his head without turning to look at Brand. His neck twisted around the bottom of the post, his eyes glued to the dance floor below while he combed for the movements of either the Warrior bikers or the cartel’s men.
“We need to move. Your guys on the floor won’t last long.” Brand yelled. Roy shook his head in acknowledgment.
Gunfire continued to crack in the confines of the bar. The repeated explosions of live ammo mixed and reverberated among the chaos of screaming, terrified customers all to a soundtrack of bass filled techno music thumping loudly off the room’s walls and ceiling.
Moments later Roy tapped Brand’s shoulder. “They’ve got us trapped. We can’t do much good from here.” Brand studied Roy’s face in the flickering strobes, both men grasping for a way out of the noose slowly tightening around Roy’s club.
“Keep your head down and stay alive,” Roy said suddenly then pushed away from the metal railing. Brand watched, momentarily confused, his brother palming a phone. Roy’s huge fingers stabbed at the small numbered buttons.
“Calvin… back door… alley… hurry” Parts of a broken conversation reached Brand’s ears before Roy leaped to his feet and threw the weight of his body against a second story window. The panes of glass shattered as Roy’s massive body fell outward. Bullets whined past the balcony rail and thudded into the drywall, some blasting away the remaining glass left in the window frame. Over the deafening report of gunfire, Brand heard a surprised grunt spring from Roy’s direction followed by a loud crash outside the window.
Roy’s sudden departure, noticed by the killers a floor below, drew a volley of gunfire. Brand rolled away from the broken window and scuttled back toward the bulky post at the top of the stairs. He peered cautiously between two metal pickets that lined the stairway. Glimpses of men appeared through the distorted lighting, the group edging their way toward the door at the bottom of the staircase.
Before Brand could swing his rifle in line, bullets sprayed upward gouging into the wooden baluster. Dropping to his stomach, Brand forgot about the approaching gunmen, pulled away from the opening and peered around the far side of the wooden post. He scanned the lower floor for the source of the sniper fire.
A solitary gunman was staring at the top of the stairs over the barrel of a rifle, the man partially hidden behind a jutting section of the wooden bar. A head and shoulder were visible above the counter as the man studied the balcony. Brand lifted off the floor and moved his gun barrel a few inches bringing the man’s head into his sights, his movements hampered by the post and rails, his timing a second too slow.
While Brand keyed on the sniper Roy’s men left the back hallway and crossed into the bar area at the bottom of the stairs. Their assault rifles bucked in their hands as they laid down covering fire, the wall of bullets driving back the advancing assailants.
The sniper dropped the barrel of is gun. Brand watched the small explosions as gunpowder flashed at the end of the weapon. The exchange of rounds took a man down, forcing two others to dive for cover.
Brand swung his attention back to the sniper, his finger tight on the trigger, the loud crack of exploding shells and expelled gunpowder blending with the chaos in the room. His shots tore through the bar top, catching the man’s upper body and driving him back into the bottles of assorted spirits lining the glass shelves behind the bar.
A new volley of lead rose from the lower floor in Brand’s direction. He twisted and dove back down on the floor, his bruised rib and leg painfully reminding him of the earlier events of the day. Rolling, he came to rest behind one of the large decorative columns, gun up and ready. Several men snaked their way along the right side of the dance floor ducking around the confused and panicked club patrons and using overturned tables as cover.
Brand watched the group move across the room as they inched their way toward the back. With the customers panicking and rushing the front door, he waited patiently for the gunmen to make a mistake, step away from cover and leave him a shot. From the edge of his sight, two Wolves bikers climbed the stairs, crouching close to Brand. A phone rang. One of the bikers fished the device from his pocket. The man answered, nodding while he listened.
“Roy needs us to stop the cartel boys from pushing to the back of the bar. He’s coming in the front door. Says we’ll catch these buggers in a crossfire.” The man yelled the conversation to Brand. Dropping the phone, Roy’s men joined Brand, the three firing down into the group of gunmen spread across the floor. Time slowly ticked by while the standoff continued.
Brand swung his sights back to the group creeping down the right side. The frightened customer's dove for tables as the men approached. Their panicked moves of self-survival leaving the gunmen exposed to Brand’s gun. Methodically and with purpose, he squeezed the trigger, releasing calculated bursts of bullets. Wounding some of the advancing killers, he dropped a couple of others sending the men scrambling for cover.
The racket from the gunfire, the screams and groans of agony from the wounded and the relentless beat of the techno music rose as one, giving the interior of the bar a surreal, nightmarish symphony, one where only the devil would find comfort.From the club’s entrance, Roy rushed onto the lower floor of the nightclub. Club members pinned by the sudden attack began rising from cover, the forming group converging on the remaining attackers. Another handful of Warriors rushed in front the front of the building. While his men spread across the littered floor breaking the cartel’s siege, Roy aimed his gun at the clubs sound system. A trail of bullets ripped into the stack of stereo equipment. The components sparked into silence ending the soundtrack for the, now gruesome scene.
“PUT DOWN YOUR GUNS!” Roy bellowed above the din of patrons and gunmen. His voice boomed through the room. “You’re surrounded. Drop your weapons and live or you can clutch them in your dying hands when you join your downed comrades, dead on the floor.”
“Someone, turn the damn lights on,” Roy loudly ordered before he made his way to the centre of the room.
The place went quiet, the fractured lighting of the strobes replaced by the steady glow of overhead bulbs. Thick, acrid smoke hung in the air followed by murmuring and the pleas of the wounded. Then the sound of metal hitting the floor as the cartel alliance looked about at the angry Wolves members blocking any chance of escape. The Colombians and their Warrior counterparts that remained standing raised their empty hands high in the air.