A/N: Hi, everyone. This is a little something I just sat down and wrote today, just a short prologue to a story I've already started writing. As always, I can't promise regular updates, but I will get the next chapter up very soon. Let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I do not own Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys and am making no money from the writing of this story.

"I didn't want to have to do this to you boys." the man said with a shrug, pulling back the hammer of the deadly-looking revolver gripped expertly in his right hand.

Frank Hardy desperately tried to form an escape plan, but the sight of the loaded gun leveled casually at his brother caused panic to overwhelm his brain. "Don't do this. Please."

Joe's eyes flickered between his older brother's pleading expression and the cold gaze of the gunman. This was it. There was nowhere to go. An open-and-shut mob ties case, a chase gone wrong, a single suspect turning the tables on them... that was all it took. And here they were, a dead-end in a dingy back alley in a bad part of New York, where no one would come even if they screamed for help. He squared his jaw and stared into the barrel of the gun, his heart pounding ceaselessly in his ears...

A clomp sounded from a nearby fire escape, the sound of footfall on metal echoing through the silent alley. The gun did not waver from its intended target of Joe's forehead, but the man looked up and to his left, just for a moment. That was all the time it took for the lithe figure of a woman to drop from the fire escape, her boot connecting with his jaw with a solid snap. The gunman fell to the ground. Conscious and in pain, he redirected the revolver at his attacker, but one stomp on the wrist sent the gun skittering harmlessly across the asphalt. Frank and Joe watched in disbelief as the girl, hair hanging loosely around her face, kicked the fallen man savagely in the face not once, but three times. Bruised and beaten, his head lolled back, blood dripping from his nose and mouth into a puddle on the street.

Their savior took a step towards them, into the dim light of the flickering back-stair lamp. With one hand she brushed her long hair back from her face. It shone red in the lamp's glow. The other hand rested on her waist, her bare midriff. "Frank. Joe." There was mild surprise in her voice.

For their part, the Hardys were frozen in stunned disbelief at the sight of Nancy Drew.