Hello all my great and very patient readers, I'm back and I've finally got chapter ten done!

I'm so sorry about the long wait, but with your constant support I pulled through a nasty writers block ^^

I do still like some suggestions on the bet between Julia and Ria, as she will arrive very soon and to be honest, I don't have any good ideas. Not any original at least.

As always, I would like to thank all those who read, favorite, follow and review my story:

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Chapter ten: Guns and Men

Julia's body hit the floor before her head even acknowledged what happened. Reacting purely on instinct. Fortunately, her reflexes were faster than her head, so she didn't just land flat on her face. Instead, her palms supported her on the way down, though her knees did slam rather nasty against the marble floor. She didn't get to dwell on this smaller pain as another gunshot rung through the great hall. Guns had a way of getting your attention. A couple of people screamed or shriek in fear, others whimpered and probably covered themselves or their loved ones with their limps.

A desperate, but at the same time, very futile maneuver. A bullet would easily rip through flesh, with enough firepower, it would continue to the person they were holding close.

Julia actually wasn't sure what the others were doing; she herself had her arms over her head.

So she couldn't really see anything, other than between the cracks of her own limps.

A black figure moved among the people who were on the floor, gun pointed at anyone that move. Not many did. It seems that one of the persons got tired of the peoples whimpering and crying, 'cause he roared like thunder.

"Shut the hell up!"

The echoing from the hall, amplified his voice. Most became instantly quiet, but there was a few where this only made them whimper louder. This was the children and the mothers of those children.

Julia still couldn't see, but the children voices were distinct and there was one very near her. She suddenly remembered the little red haired girl with the plush unicorn. It gave a twinge in her heart. A child that young should never experience something like this, should never feel such fear.

"He said shut up! Do you wanna have your brain blown out?"

This time it was a female speaking. Julia dared sneak a peek over her arms. A more slender figure with noticeable curves stood over a little group of people. There was an elderly couple and a young teenage boy in the group. The gun was pointed at the boy, suggesting he had been the one to annoy the female robber.

He was shaking, even Julia could see that with the distance, and was curled into a ball. An instinct derived from the reptilian part of the brain, trying to protect any vital organs from harm. You could survive a gunshot to the leg or arm, but if it hit the lungs; you would drown in your own blood. Hit the stomach; and you will suffer one of the painful deaths. Hitting the kidney or spleen; blood loose. To the head was kind of obvious. If you were shot directly in the head with short range, the only blessing would be a quick death.

"You there!" a male voice shouted somewhere to her right.

"Get up" the same voice commanded, there was a little scuffle and the sound of someone standing -or more like stumbling- up to full height.

Julia prayed it wasn't some vigilante trying to be a hero, she wasn't sure if she could handle someone being shot.

Julia carefully shifted her head and looked to her right. An employer had apparently tried hiding under a table and was discovered, now he was violently pushed down on the floor with everybody else. He was probably the prideful kind and not one who was used to being manhandled, because he stupidly answered them again.

"You can't do thi-" he didn't get to finish his protest, as the handle of the gun hit him in the face, knocking him down on the floor again. "Keep your mouth shut!"

Julia, who had automatically closed her eyes when he received the blow, warily opened them again. The man certainly didn't have anything more to say with deep red blood trickled down from his forehead. This simple act of violence was enough to convince just about everyone in the room that these robbers were serious, for now they all were silent. Julia imagined the parents did something to mute their kids, not wanting any harm to come to them. Like a natural parent would do.

It wasn't just everyone else who was scared, Julia was as well. Her fingers were shaking so badly, she was sure she wouldn't be able to hold a pen right now. Her heart was beating like a herd of stampeding horses, feeling as it was up in her throat. She suddenly wished that Charlie hadn't fixed Betsy, without the old truck she probably would have waited with going to the bank and thus avoiding this situation. Not that wishing helped right now.

She swallowed something and forced herself to try and examine the situation, or what was going on at least. Turning her head discretely, Julia could count four -no five people clad in black and ski masks. One of them was by the door, looking out.

Had no one heard the gun shots?

Craning her neck a little more, Julia noticed that some of those gunshots had not been random. She could see three video cameras shot to pieces. Maybe she had read too many detective novels as a teenager, but the shooting of the cameras led Julia to believe that at least one of the robbers had been in the bank before. Investigating the scenario, finding the cameras and where the emergency buttons where.

'Those aren't amateurs, they have done this before' Julia thought, her eyes narrowed. She tried to absorb everything around her, remembering it. Every detail could be essential.

Her dad had taught her, that it was okay to be afraid but not to let it hinder her. If she was in a dangerous situation, she should act like a scientist. Examine everything, evaluate every detail around and figure out the odds and payoff of different actions.

Trying to gain control of her heart by taking deep breaths, slowing it down to as normal level as possible in this situation. Julia looked again, this time she held her head a bit up to see better.

It was four men and one woman. They were scattered but not in a disorganize way. Three of them walked among the hostages. One was by the door that was surely locked and even jammed, to prevent anyone walking in. Of course it was the kind of door you couldn't easy see through, the glass being blurry on purpose. She couldn't see any shinning blue lights, so the police was not there.

The last one was behind the service counter. Julia wasn't sure what he was doing; lying on the floor didn't give good field vision. Next Julia tried looking for personal features on the robbers. Which was easier said than done.

They all wore the same clothes that was plain and could have been bought anywhere.

Their hair was covered and so were their faces. The only you could see was their mouth and eyes, and both things were at least 5 feet above ground, not to mention it was stupid to make direct eye contact. Like dogs, they could perceive it as a challenge, a threat. That was definitely not what Julia needed. Right now, only the need to survive was present in her mind and that required that she remained unknown to the robbers.

In that illogical -probably human- part of her mind, Julia wondered how much time had passed by.

A couple of minutes? Fifteen? Half an hour?

For some odd reason, the time seemed important to her. Julia knew there were a clock over the entrance, but that would mean craning her neck pretty far up and that was noticeable.

"You there!" the sudden command made Julia jump a little, lowering her head as a reflex.

She heard movement, taking the chance she looked. One of the male robbers had his gun pointed at a young woman, maybe a bit older than Julia.

"Take everyone's cell phones and put them in here" he demanded, pushing a trashcan into her grip, gun still pointed at her head. "And you better do it, or I'll blow your head out!"

A sob ripped through the woman's throat, her neck down her back bent like a dog being beaten.

"Get to it!" shouted the female robber and the woman obeyed, going around to everyone in the room, checking their pockets. When she reached Julia, she could feel how her hands were shaking and she kept mumbling 'sorry' over and over again.

"It's okay" Julia whispered so low and mellow that only the young woman could hear.

The hands stopped for a brief moment, Julia couldn't see her but as the woman needed to apologize, and Julia felt the need to reassure not only the woman but herself as well.

"It's okay" she mumbled, "it's gonna be okay".

The hands started roaming again, this time a tiny bit calmer. At first Julia was sure she wasn't gonna find anything, seeing as she didn't own a cell phone. Then she remembered something, just as the young woman found what Julia had forgotten.

A couple days before, Throttle had given Julia something. A gift of some sort.

'So you will always be able to reach us'

That was his words, when he handed Julia an oval, metal device that he explained to her was a communicator and it had much better connection than any Earth phone.

She hadn't used it yet. Why should she? She saw the guys practical every day, but she kept it on her. Just in case, but now it had landed in the trashcan along with the earth cell phones. Out of her reach.

The young woman had hesitated at first, not knowing precisely what the metal thing was but ultimately putting it with the others.

Julia cursed herself for not remembering, she could have called the guys and have them beat the crap out of those robbers.

'Well, can't do that now, it's up to you Anderson'.

Her fear shrunk a bit, enough for her body to stop shaking as badly. If she was to get out of here, alive, body control was an important detail.

The woman gave the trashcan to the robber, who afterward shoved her to the ground. She yelped but stayed quiet. The robbers began talking, three of them gathered and seemed to be exchanging information. One was still by the door and the fifth she couldn't spot, but now that Julia listened there was something new in the background. When she ignored the crying and whimpering of her fellow hostages, she could hear a low...sizzle? She couldn't describe it better than that.

She tried, slowly but surely to move her body in a position so that she could see what made the noise. Behind the service counter was one of the robbers, crouched down on one knee with what looked like a blowtorch in his hands. Julia tilted her head discretely, trying to get a better look at the blowtorch. It was much smaller than the ones Charlie used at the garage. It didn't have the cylinders with gas attached, it was as long from an elbow to the fingertip and made of metal.

The blue flame came out more like a laser than fire, cutting through the volts door with precision. Julia had never seen one like it, not one that advanced.

Suddenly the noise of multiple sirens could be heard, together with cars screeching and people running. The police had arrived. Someone must have tipped them off, one of Chicago's biggest banks closed in the middle of the day would definitely raise some suspicion.

"The cops are here" the man by the door shouted, but not in panic as he moved out of the way, moving to standing behind a pillar made of solid stone.

It caught the attention of the four other robbers. None of them showed any signs of distress or even surprise. They had expected it. This worried Julia. They probably had planned this whole crime out from the start, so they were confident they would escape. What worried her was what kind of role she and the other hostages had in that plan.

The woman spoke, "How long?" and looked her accomplished by the volt, the one who tried cutting it open. He only looked at the woman very briefly and answered "ten maybe fifteen minutes".

It was the first time he had spoken, and Julia noted he had a faint accent in his voice.

The way he pronounced the i's sounded more like two e's.

So far he was the only one with a notable accent, the other ones had sounded like they were from Chicago or Maybe New York?

The woman nodded, then turned to her other comrades and said "move to phase two".

The three remaining robbers moved out. Quickly Julia covered her head again, not wanting to be seen looking at them. There was a sudden ruckus and screaming, making her look up to see what was happening. Two of the robbers were moving between the hostages, yanking them up, causing the frightened people to cry out. Men, woman and children alike was moved and one by one placed in front of the entrance, their hands tied beneath their feet with plastic strips and so were their feet.

Julia didn't get a chance to figure out why they were doing this, before a rough hand yanked her up by her hair as well. Against her will she let out a muffled cry of pain when he ripped at her hair and forced her over to where the others were seated. She was practically shoved into the cold marble floor, hurting her already sore knees. It didn't surprise her, when after the robber had tied her hands and feet, that her jeans was torn by the knees and blood seeped out from the scrapes the crashing with the floor for a second time had given her.

She tried wiggling a bit, moving her wrists and feet to no use. The strips were tight and almost impossible to loosen, unlike robe or even duct tape.

"Damn" she sighed from under her breathe, feeling what little hope she had, disappearing.

If only she hadn't forgotten the communicator. She could have contacted the guys and let them know she was in trouble. How would they ever know now?

Location; The Last Chance garage

"When will she be back" wailed a very impatient Vinnie, who was clearly bored out of his mind.

He and his bro's were still at the garage, helping out until Julia came back so they could begin their second movie night with their newest member of the family.

Yes, Vinnie considered Julia as family. She was like a sister to him, one he liked to annoy and have fun with. Even if their first meeting had resolved in him getting a bump on the head.

He liked her quick witted humor and he especially liked her cooking.

"She's only been gone for a little more than an hour" Modo replied, carrying a heavy load of tires to stack them and retrieving one for Charlie who was working on a motorbike that had been brought in the day before. Throttle was working on another one, that came the same day.

Modo, like Vinnie, treasured their new human friend much like a niece. Her caring nature never seized to surprise him, and he couldn't help but notice how she and their leader acted around each other. He was happy for his friend, it would be good for him after he and Carbine broke up.

Though it had been mutual and Modo had nothing against their general back on Mars, he was happy that Throttle had met Julia.

"She said she would be gone a couple of hours" Charlie chipped in, wrenching a bolt from the bike she was working on.

Charlie had quickly taken to the computer technician with brown hair. Charlie had no siblings and she only had her father left who lived in Michigan. So Charlie felt very connected with Julia, like the sister she never had. They could laugh together over the silliest things and she was quick natured and didn't care if her hands got dirty. Charlie had never been one to bond with other girls, through high school she had never had one girlfriend that she could be all BFF with.

Only guys who she hung out with at the garage her dad had given her when he got too old to run it.

So having another girl in the gang was really nice for her, one that wasn't a girly-girl but not a complete tomboy like herself.

Vinnie, admitting defeat, he went over to the shelf where an old radio stood and turned it on to find some music.

"The heat seems to continue-"

"buy Mr. Whiskers cat food and your cat-"

"the secret to a perfect stew is-"

He kept switching stations until he found one that played Rolling Stones' 'Tumbling Down'.

Then by the request of his gray bro' he helped with moving some heavy equipment from one side to the other. But much to the young mouse dismay, the chorus was cut short by a voice.

"We are interrupting with important news, there seems to be a robbery in the Chicago Bank on Georgia Street"

Everyone in the room looked at the radio almost simultaneously, the horror sinking in as they all thought the same thing: Julia.

Throttle was the first one by the radio, turning up the volume.

"We ask residents to remain indoors as the robbers are reported to have firearms and are considered extremely dangerous"

"Isn't that the bank Julia was going to?" Vinnie asked, his voice betraying his thoughts.

Charlie slightly shook her head, "I'm-I'm not sure, I think so" she stuttered, fearing that she was right. Throttle hadn't said a word, but the very thought of Julia being inside that bank with thugs made his blood boil. What if she was hurt? The news said they had guns and he knew Julia could be reckless enough to do something to provoke them.

"The chief of police will not comment on what is going on inside, but it seems that the robbers have moved the hostages to the outer walls and entrance, hindering the police to take action in risk of civilians lives. So far, there seems to have been no demands from the robbers and no contact and-"

That was it, Throttle couldn't take it anymore.

"We're going" he said in a stern voice, keeping his anger under control. If they had laid so much as a hand on her, he would make them pay.

Modo and Vinnie shared a quick look, concerned about the intensity of their leader's voice. It was pretty rare for him to use that tone, even in dangerous situations he would crack a joke with them.

This time was different, they knew that, those robbers had made it personal. They would certainly rue the day they held Julia hostage, without them knowing; they had unleashed an upcoming storm.

"I'm coming with you" announced Charlie, anger and determination showing in her face.

She would not sit back and twiddle her thumbs while Julia –her almost sister- was in danger.

Throttle was about to say something about it being too dangerous, but she cut him short.

"End of discussion" her voice was latched with such a seriousness, making it clear that nothing would change her mind.

Throttle nodded and she got on her helmet, before Vinnie tail snaked around her waist and placing her behind him. Throttle looked back, seeing in his comrades faces the same determination that he was feeling, he said "Ride out" and speed up.

So? Was it worth the wait? I had problems with writing this chapter and probably the next one as well. As you might expect, I have no experience with robbing a bank.

God, sorry about my writing! I've seen too much British television shows, I'm going to say 'bloody hell' then 'Oh my god'

Please do review, and give me ideas for the bet! Or it will become utterly boring.