Just south of O’Hare, off Franklin;
The two black Ford Expeditions sat side by side in the darkness on the broad expanse of concrete. The chemical plant had been closed for years now, and this huge cement bowl that had once been a settling pool had been empty, except for a thin layer of probably-carcinogeous chemicals, for just as long. It was the perfect place for the meeting. Badi looked out of his window. He could see the headlights from the silver panel van approaching. He gave Mudar, in the other SUV, a wave then turned back to Fariq and found him punching numbers into his cell phone.
“What are you doing?”
“Dancing with the Supers was on last night. I’m voting for Airstream.”
“Put that away, you idiot.”
“I’m serious. He deserves to win. The judges are fools.”
“Put it away. The Armenian is here.”
Fariq stuffed his phone back into his pocket as the panel van came to a stop forty feet away. Badi got out and Fariq followed him. Mudar and the others climbed out of the other Expedition, all carrying Uzis. The Armenian, Tufenkian, got out of the driver’s side of the van and stepped over.
“He says your deposit is in the bank. The goods are in the back. Trade me keys.”
Mudar started to hand over the keys to his Ford, but Badi held up a hand to stop him.
“I want to look at the goods first,” he said. “Then you can leave.”
Tufenkian nodded his head toward the back of the van. Badi walked around and opened the silver double doors. Sitting inside were six large metal boxes labeled General Dynamics. Climbing up next to them, Badi flipped the six latches to open the first box and looked inside. There it was—a Red Eye IV anti-aircraft missile. And he was now the proud owner of six of them.
Leaning out of the van, he called to Mudar. “Trade keys with him. We’ve got what we want.”
“Good,” said Tufenkian, heading for the SUV. “I’m out of here.”
“Don’t go too far,” said a female voice. “I’m going to want to talk to you about your boss, after I finish with these guys.”
Badi and the others all turned toward the voice. The compact figure of a twenty-year-old blond girl stepped into the beam of one of the Ford headlights. She was practically naked, wearing only a tiny pair of shorts and a crop top, both blue with white stars. She could have been a college student who got lost on the way to spring break, except for the white boots and gloves. They were straight out of the superhero catalog.
“A super!” shouted Badi.
“It’s All American Girl,” said Fariq.
“I don’t care who she is; shoot her!”
Mudar was the quickest, bringing his Uzi to bear and spitting out lead at full auto. The girl was quicker though, leaping into the air and flipping over his head to land just behind him. She kicked Mudar in the back and sent him flying face first into the Ford’s windshield. As Siraj fired at her, she ducked, and the bullets instead hit the other ford, killing the Armenian, who had gotten halfway into the driver’s side door.
The girl flipped around like a top and hit first Siraj and then two of the others, knocking them out. It was the kind of move that would have gone over big on Dancing with the Supers. But she stopped right in front of Fariq, with her back to him. He pulled the trigger and hit her in the back with twenty or so 7.62mm Teflon coated rounds. Most of them bounced directly back at him. She winced in mild discomfort and turned around to look down at his bullet-ridden body.
Badi didn’t wait to watch her kick the crap out of the others. He ducked back in the van, opened the crate and pulled out the Red Eye IV. Jumping to the pavement, he found her looking right at him, standing with the limp form of Sajit in her right hand.
“Die!” he shouted and pulled the trigger.
The really humiliating thing about it was that he would have missed. The rocket would have gone right past the left side of her head and continued on until it hit one of the skyscrapers rising up in the distance. But she reached up and grabbed it right out of the air and looked at it, still spraying out rocket propellant. Then it exploded. Badi threw up his hands to protect his face from the blast, but he was knocked down onto his back. He jumped up, his ears ringing, to see the girl standing right where she had been, apparently unharmed.
Suddenly Badi and the super were bathed in a circle of light from a news helicopter drawn to the sounds of gunfire and explosions.
“It’s all over,” said the blonde, tossing aside what was left of Sajit like a ragdoll. “The only question is whether I turn you over to the cops or deal with you myself.”
“Go to hell, All American bitch!” he shouted.
“Fine,” she said, and reaching behind her, she ripped off the front end of the closest Expedition.
The last thing Badi saw was the oval Ford symbol, along with the rest of the fender, part of the engine, and the front drive train flying at him, along with that stupid personalized license plate—FARIQ31.