Whistler stepped out of the helicopter without it even touching the roof. He dropped into a crouch to avoid being knocked over by the powerful rotor wash as the chopper peeled away. Staying in a crouch he shuffled up to the edge of the building and laid down on his stomach. There was no parapet on the roof so he could see several streets ahead without having to prop himself up unnaturally.
He shifted around until he was comfortably positioned as if he was going to fire a sniper rifle. Even his hands were resting like there was an invisible rifle in his hand.
He took his right hand away from the imaginary trigger and reached around to his back. Opening one of four Velcro pockets at the bottom of his jacket he took out a magazine of 50 calibre ammunition. Resting the five bullet magazine on the ground directly in front of where his right hand had been he resumed his firing position. Feeling prepared he finally looked ahead.
There were two streets between Whistler and the bank; both of which had rows of offices that were all lower than where he lay so his view was unobstructed. He looked through the four large glass windows that covered the entire front of the bank and focused on the foyer. From his angle he couldn’t see further into the bank than the counter but that was enough to see the twenty one hostages kneeling in a line. Three armed men guarded the hostages who had their hands tied behind their backs. Everyone Whistler could see, including the guards, wore vests with a ring of twelve glass vials surrounding the waist.
Before Whistler could focus any closer in on the vests a ringing filled his ear and his phone vibrated in his pocket.
“Answer,” Whistler said without having to move and the earpiece on his left ear connected the phone call. “Whistler.”
“Special Agent Whistler this is Captain George of the NYPD,” the gruff voice on the other end of the phone announced. “I’m in charge down here on the ground. I understand you are en-route to provide us with support.”
“Affirmative, I am in position,” Whistler replied bluntly. “Give me the situation.”
“Five men armed with M16s took twenty four hostages. Everyone inside is wearing explosive vests with vials filled with ball bearings. The hostages have dead man switches in their mouths, and the captors are holding them. One hostage was sent outside before we could make contact. The captor, who we are assuming is the leader, shot her in the back of the head and blew her up.”
Whistler who had been listening in the back of his mind and paying more attention to the captors moving around inside the bank suddenly perked up. From his position he couldn’t see the street in front of the bank but he imagined that it was a complete mess. His opinion of Captain George went up a few notches. He sounded like he was fairly well keeping everything under control.
“Two hostages were taken into the manager’s office by two captors,” Captain George continued, not even mentioning the aftermath of the explosion. “We’re attempting contact but there has been no response.”
“Keep trying and in case you need to be told don’t do anything unless I say so,” Whistler commanded and then clenched as one of the male hostages jumped up.
The hostage charged at one of the captors who had turned his back to look out of the bank. The captor spun around before the hostage could close the gap and he braced himself as the hostage jumped and twisted so that his shoulder travelled straight towards the captor’s head.
The two collided and the captor staggered backwards a step but both remained standing.
The hostage immediately lunged forward to attack again but the captor lunged forward also and caught the hostage off guard. Unable to react to the quick closing of the gap between them the hostage had no defence.
The captor kicked the hostage in the side of the left knee and as he dipped the captor grabbed a fist full of his hair and dragged him to the front doors. He was thrown outside through the chocked open doors. He stumbled and then continued very slowly across the road, disappearing from Whistler’s sight.
The captor, who Whistler realised was the one running the show, picked up an M16 from beside the doors and stepped into the open without a care. He held the trigger grip with his right hand and because the dead man’s switch was obviously in his left hand he rested the barrel on his forearm for support.
A quick burst of gunfire echoed through the streets.
The captor dove sideways out of the exposed doorway as the bullets hit the concrete wall above the doors.
“What the hell are you doing!” Whistler yelled.
“If we don’t keep him inside he’s just going to blow this guy up,” Captain George explained sounding like Whistler was the idiot in the conversation.
“No shit! But you shoot him and you’ll blow up all of the hostages.”
Captain George raised another argument but Whistler blocked his voice out as he watched the leader walk over to one of his colleagues and offer his dead man’s switch.
Whistler responded immediately in preparation. He moved his right index finger from resting straight out on an imaginary trigger guard and moved it to where the trigger would be on a real rifle. The bullet at the top of the magazine slid forwards and dislodged from the magazine entirely on its own. It moved straight up and hovered horizontally just above and between Whistler’s hands.
The captor the leader tried to offload to was already holding a dead man’s switch in each hand so that another captor could hold his M16 with both hands. So he did the only thing he could and opened his mouth.
The leader shoved the switch into the captor’s mouth and pulled his hand away when the pressure was matched by the man’s bite. He turned back to the door and raised the rifle to his shoulder.
Whistler immediately focussed on the wrinkled crease in between the leaders eyes and pulled the trigger.
The high velocity round disappeared faster than the eye could see on a direct line to the target. It hit the leader between the eyes and blew the back of his head across the floor. Several of the hostages behind where he had been standing were sprayed with brain matter. His body flew backwards through the air and when his back hit the ground four of the cylinders were cracked. The ball bearings rolled across the floor and the two captors who were in sight of the windows looked down at their dead boss and then at each other. They turned their backs to the windows and ran for cover.
“What the fuck!” Captain George screamed so loud that Whistler would have heard him without the ear piece. “Are you insane? You could have blown us all up.”
“He handed off his switch and I had the shot,” Whistler said even though he had no need to explain himself. “I have to relocate to get a shot at the others. Keep me updated if anything happens.” Sure that the captors would stay down for a while he wasn’t afraid to expose his position. He picked up the magazine as he pushed himself to his feet and placed it into a pocket. There was no spent shell so he stepped away from his position and looked for the quickest route to navigate to the closer rooftops.
Several stories below him on a building down the street a metal framework with a set of traffic lights and highway signage connected both sides of the street. He ran and without looking leapt off the edge of the building. There was only a three metre alley between the buildings but he dropped an entire story to land with diving roll. He kept the momentum going and sprung up into a jog. At the edge of the building he jumped across the alley onto an enormous air conditioning unit. Dropping off the unit he walked straight onto the top of the framework that was barely wider than the width of his boots. He used the top of the signage to edge along as a slight breeze picked up and threatened to knock him off balance.
The street hadn’t been closed off and the people stopped at the lights below stared at him as he crossed. He caught sight of a young boy staring wide eyed with his mouth hanging open. Whistler gave him a small smile and then continued the rest of the way across. He stepped down to the rooftop and quickly moved up to the edge. He set himself up in the prone position again and placed the magazine onto the rooftop. There was an empty block between his position and the bank so he could see the street in front of the bank and the chaos that just one vest exploding had caused.
There was a police car on its side and all of the car windows on the bank side had shattered. Blood pooled on the road where the hostage been killed and where the victims of the explosion had been hit.
“I’m in position,” Whistler reported as he took his focus away from the street and looked into the bank. He scanned and spotted two of the captors peeking out from behind the counter. The other two were with the two remaining hostages that had been taken into the manager’s office directly behind the counter. The hostages sat behind a computer and one of them was holding a piece of paper as the other typed furiously into the computer. Both men were sweating profusely, but so were the captors after their leader had been taken out. The captor with the dead man’s switch in his mouth and one in each hand was inside the office with another captor who also held two switches. Which meant that the two men behind the counter were both clear targets.
Whistler focussed on the top of the head of the captor on the right as one of the bullets from the magazine moved into position. As soon as he pulled the trigger he looked left slightly while the second bullet was moving into position. He fired even before the first bullet had travelled the distance to the bank so there was almost no delay between the shots. The bullets punched clean holes in the glass window leaving only faint spider webs and then exploded out of the back of the captors’ heads.
The two remaining captors dove to the ground behind the computer desk and their hostages.
“Two more down,” Whistler conveyed. “The last two are behind the desk in the manager’s office and I doubt they’re going to risk poking their heads up. Get the hostages out of the foyer now.”
Whistler listened and watched across the open lot as Captain George corralled his troops and sent them out from behind the cordon.
Two SWAT officers ran over to the windows of the bank with large squares of cardboard as eight other officers rushed towards the open doors. The cardboard was pressed against the window in order to relay a message to the hostages. Most of the hostages in the foyer had their heads tucked down to their chests but two men were looking outside and saw the message. They nudged the people beside them and eventually the word spread and all of the hostages in the foyer had seen it.
The two hostages in the office were totally oblivious to what was happening and continued to work away.
Three of the hostages in the foyer slowly raised themselves to their feet but stayed in a crouch so they were below the height of the counter. They slowly inched towards the door treading as lightly as they could. The other hostages seeing that the others were getting to safety also started to follow.
As soon as the first hostages were out the front door they ran as fast as they could across the street. They were met by the bomb squad and ushered away to be disarmed.
All twenty hostages made it out of the bank and Whistler let out a breath that he didn’t even realise he was holding. The captors in the office hadn’t even noticed that their hostages had been released. The SWAT pulled back from the bank making sure to take their signs with them.
Whistler pocketed the magazine, rolled over onto his back and hung his feet over the edge of the building. Before he dropped down onto an awning and then jumped to the pavement he disconnected the phone call to Captain George.
He jogged down the street and put a building between himself and the bank instead of the empty lot before crossing the road and heading down an alley. A crowd had gathered at the end of the alleyway to watch the police do their business. Whistler pushed his way through and ducked under the police tape between two officers who were too distracted watching the hostages being led to safety. He walked purposefully to the man he assumed was Captain George and spoke to his back, “Move this cordon back and get these civilians off the street.”
Captain George turned around quickly and sized up the man who dared order him around.
He was a six foot tall African American in peak physical condition but he backed down when he saw the cold, dead stare in Whistler’s eyes even though the man was tiny in comparison. “Whistler, I presume,” he said reaching out a hand.
Whistler ignored the Captain and barked, “Now!”
The Captain took a step around Whistler and approached the officers manning the cordon.
Looking around at all of the different police units that had gathered Whistler located the SWAT van and headed their direction. They SWAT team was huddled around the blueprints of the bank atop a fold out table. Whistler recognised most of the men so he approached without a word and found a space at the table.
Around him the police manning the cordon pushed the crowd backwards. At the same time all of the non essential vehicles were moved further back. Eventually all of the bystanders were pushed back into the alleys and out several hundred metres to the sides of the bank. The wooden barriers were moved to the edge of the footpath leaving only the half flipped police car on the road.
The SWAT members recognised Whistler and backed away silently allowing him to survey the blueprints. The roof and walls of the bank were constructed of foot thick concrete and there were no emergency exits. The only entrance to the bank was via the front doors.
Whistler walked away from the table and found Captain George standing amid a group of policemen. “Keep calling the phones, I want them to think we will talk before entering the bank,” Whistler ordered. “I’m going inside so if somebody picks up connect me immediately. And make sure everybody stays behind the cordon, your men included. I don’t want anyone getting hit if those last two decide to detonate.”
Captain George gave a look that said he thought Whistler was crazy to walk into the bank alone. However, he kept his mouth shut and he gave a nod of acknowledgement before Whistler walked away.
As Whistler approached the bank he reached around behind his back and took two magazines out of one of the pouches. Instead of the short and stocky magazines for the sniper rifle ammunition they were long and thin, filled with 9mm rounds. He placed a magazine in each hand and clenched them in his fists with the tops of the magazines between his index finger and thumb. To anyone watching it would have looked like he was just making finger guns with the bottom of the magazine barely poking out of the bottom of his fists.
Striding straight through the bank doors without hesitation he locked his arms straight out in front and stared into the office. The two hostages who were sitting completely still behind the desk, having completed whatever task had been set for them, locked eyes with Whistler. As he moved soundlessly across the tiled floor and stopped behind the counter he shook his head slightly and mouthed the words, “Don’t move.”
The phone on the desk between the two men rang and the hostages glanced down before staring back up at Whistler. He nodded and both hostages turned their heads slightly and glanced behind them. Whatever they saw gave them enough confidence that the hostage on the right picked up the handset. Whistler’s phone rang almost instantly and he pressed a small button on the side of the ear piece to answer.
“Remain calm,” Whistler said softly. “I’m going to get you both out of here, but I’m going to need your help.”
The hostage had the dead man’s switch clenched between his teeth so he couldn’t reply even if he was going to with the captors right behind him, so he nodded.
“Captain George keep calling the other phones, I don’t want the captors to realise the hostages have answered,” Whistler said hoping the police were tapping the line.
The phone in the adjacent office started ringing almost immediately.
“Now,” Whistler said addressing the hostage. “I’m going to move closer and I need you to make alert me if the men behind you move.”
Whistler didn’t wait for an acknowledgement, moving as quickly as he could without making a sound and rounded the counter. Within seconds he navigated through the maze of desks and stood beside the door to the office. He peered his head around so that the hostages believed him when he whispered, “I’m right outside the office. I’m going to ask you to do something you might think is crazy. When I step into the office I want you both to get up and run to your right, around that desk and straight out of the bank. The two men hiding behind you aren’t going to stop you. Their leader is dead and they clearly aren’t prepared to run this show on their own.” Keeping the phone call connected so that the police outside could listen he stepped around the door frame. He took a step into the office aiming his hands between the hostages.
Both men noticed his hands and their eyes bloomed open with shock.
“Go!” Whistler mouthed and waved his hands sideways.
The hostages overcame their shock at the madmen who appeared to be freeing them by making gun shapes with his hands and they leapt to their feet, the phone handset thudding to the desk top.
Whistler took a step and dove around the left side of the desk as soon as he saw the hostages start moving. He came up in a crouch and aimed his hands behind the desk. The captors, sitting as low as they could on the floor, turned their heads to stop the hostages so didn’t see Whistler.
“Don’t move,” Whistler commanded adjusting his aim to the captors’ heads.
The hostages ran out of the office as the captors slowly turned their heads and noticed Whistler.
“I know this isn’t what you wanted just don’t do anything drastic. You could release those switches and blow us all up but that’s not going to achieve anything. You keep hold of them until the bomb squad can disarm them and you go to prison for a while. I know it’s not the best option but in a few years you can walk away with your lives.”
Both men were completely frazzled and looking down the barrel of Whistler’s hand guns and realising what he was dissolved any resolve they had.
Whistler stood up slowly and gestured towards the door with his head. “Let’s go.” He followed the two men, who’s heads were dropped in shame, all the way out of the bank.
The SWAT team was waiting outside and they corralled the two captors and rushed them away.
Whistler pocketed the magazines and replaced them with his phone. He disconnected the call and sent a wordless text message to an anonymous number. As he pocketed the phone Captain George rushed over.
“You’re one of them, aren’t you?” Captain George said and made a gun with his hand. “That’s why they told me to let you take complete control.”
Whistler gave a slight shrug and then stepped around Captain George as a helicopter flew overhead. The helicopter turned and made a quick descent onto the road in front of the bank in the space that the police had cordoned off. Before the skids had touched the ground Whistler ran and jumped into the open doors. He didn’t give a second thought to why the captors had taken over the bank without breaking into the vault as the helicopter lifted off.