After learning which girl was Katia, Paige moved cautiously over to her and sat beside her on the floor. She looked over at the lone guard to make sure that he wasn't interested in their conversation.
"Hi," Paige whispered to her, "I'm here to help you. Is your name, Katia?"
Katia turned her head away as if she was scared of Paige.
"How you know...?"
Paige kept her voice low. "It's ok. I know that you stayed at the home of Joseph Barone as a worker. I know that he abused and assaulted you."
Paige reconsidered her choice of words when she saw Katia start to cry.
"Who are you?" the girl asked.
"My name is Paige. I am with the police. My friends will be here soon to help you."
"No, no," Katia stuttered. "I cannot be in trouble with Sulla. I stay here."
Paige took a breath and looked into the girl's eyes. "We have Jessie," Paige told her. "She's safe."
Katia's entire demeanor changed. She wanted to believe the new woman, but it couldn't be true. "No," Katia said to her, "this is a trick."
Paige shook her head. "No, no trick. She is safe. We found her when we got control of the house. She lives with the police." Paige held Katia's hand. "She talks about you... You took care of her. You loved her."
Katia squeezed her hand around Paige's fingers.
"You are a hero," Paige said to her.
Katia's eyes looked conflicted as she did her best to hold back tears.
"My friends will be here soon to help everyone." Paige explained. "I need you to stay with me, ok?"
Katia nodded and Paige stayed with her, sitting on the floor, waiting for Briggs to burst in with the team.
Briggs had called in the TAC team after he had hung up with Mike, but the team couldn't set up until Carlito drove the truck into the compound. Briggs knew that if Carlito spotted the vehicles, he'd be spooked and would turn around.
He had gotten confirmation from Clarke that the team was waiting a mile away, ready to move in when Briggs notified them. Mike's team from the bus garage would be joining them as well.
Briggs and Charlie pulled their cars into the tree-line a little bit more so that they would be out of sight. It had gotten dark quickly and they couldn't risk keeping the cars or lights on, in case they could be seen from the warehouse.
After turning off the jeep, Briggs moved back into the passenger seat of Charlie's sedan.
Her phone was buzzing.
"That's got to be Mike," Briggs said to her. He took the phone and answered the call.
"Mike, where are you?"
"We're a few minutes out. Paige was right, Briggs," he said. "They're headed for the spot where Charlie's signal is coming from. Carlito should be there any second. We're following the trackers from the drugs so that we could keep our distance."
"Ok, I'll call in the other team after the truck moves—" Briggs cut himself off. He watched the 18-wheeler speed across the field. "Carlito and Johnny are here. He's headed right inside the fence, Mike."
"Ok, ok," Mike replied. "I'll tell Clarke's team to go in; we will be right behind them."
"See you soon." He hung up the phone and handed it back to Charlie.
Briggs jumped in his seat when Carlito pulled on the truck's horn. The noise was irritating, and Briggs was nervous that Jessie would be startled by it. He and Charlie both turned their heads to check on her, but were relieved to see that the girl was still asleep.
The compound had stadium lights shining down on the truck, and Briggs could see two men getting out of the cab in the front. A few other men came out of the warehouse to help them with the contraband.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Charlie asked Briggs.
"If those guys are storing drugs, they're not watching the girls," she said.
"You think Paige is gonna make a run for it?"
"I don't know. Keep your eyes open... but it would be a hell of a lot easier to do this take down if there were less guards inside."
They watched as the FBI team drove across the field without their headlights. They parked about fifty yards from where Briggs and Charlie were. Altogether, the team had two vans, four smaller cars and two ambulances.
"Do you think Sid knows that it's Carlito? Do you think he's here?"
"If he put the effort in to get himself on that list... he's here. He probably knows more than we do... I'm going to go check in with Mike."
Charlie leaned in to kiss him. "Be safe, Paul."
Briggs got out of the car and walked over to Mike and Jakes.
Mike was rushing to get on one of the bulletproof vests.
"You ok, Mike?" Briggs asked him. He gently rested his hand on Mike's shoulder.
He looked up at Briggs as though the answer was obvious. "I'm getting Paige out," he said. He checked his gun and his holster. "Where's Jessie?"
Briggs nodded over towards the tree line. "Charlie's car," he said. "Chuck's staying with her."
"Does she know...?"
"Kind of..." Briggs told him. "She knows that Paige wasn't with us in the car," he said sarcastically. "...I told her that Paige was helping other people."
Briggs took the vest that one of the other agents handed him and started to prep himself to take down Carlito and Johnny.
Mike nodded. "Yeah, ok."
"Hey, did you see Sid anywhere?" Briggs asked. He was looking over Mike's shoulder at the members of the arranged team.
"Not yet. The LAPD back-up is on its way."
"Unless he's already here." Briggs looked over at the warehouse. The men had been unloading the truck for about ten minutes now. They must be close to finishing. "We need to move in, Mike."
Mike nodded and gathered the team. "I'm going in to get the girls. You stay with Jakes and the team on Carlito." Briggs nodded and walked over to Jakes.
Mike was about to head out with the formation of agents, but doubled back into the van for an extra vest and a second gun.
When Paige heard the truck horn, she knew that her time was limited. She also knew that she was right about where Carlito would take the drugs. Many of the girls in the room look startled, especially when a few of the guards ran down the hall out to the truck.
But if Carlito was here, that meant... Mike was here too. A grin snuck onto her face when she realized that they would soon be reunited.
Paige didn't want to act until the FBI team made it inside. She held onto Katia's hand and did her best to reassure the girl that she would be ok.
Katia jumped when she heard the door kick in. The TAC team, wearing bulletproof vests and carrying aimed guns, filed down the hall towards them. Seeing the intruders, the girls started to scramble away.
Paige stood up to try and keep them calm. "No, they will help," she repeated to them. She was gesturing with her hands for them to stay in the room.
Most of the agents continued on through the building, but a few stayed with the girls.
Her eyes darted over to him. Mike was the last person in the line of agents.
He quickly walked over to her and handed her the vest. "Here, put it on."
He watched her take the vest and he let his eyes move down over the front of her body. He took notice of how she was dressed and saw some marks on her forearm.
"Are you ok?" He ran his hand down the side of her arm. She looked up at him after she had tightened the straps.
"You're not mad?" she asked him.
"Paige, how could I be mad at you?" His voice was sincere, but she could tell by his tone that he was worried.
She took the second gun from him. "I'm sorry for what I said this morning. You're right. How could we keep her? I wasn't being realistic." She shook her head and looked down at her feet.
He reached out and put his fingers under her chin, tilting her head up so that he could look her in the eyes. "Hey," he said gently, "we will work it out."
He considered telling her that Jessie was outside in Charlie's car, but he needed Paige to cooperate with his plan and he was nervous that she would try to deviate from it if she was concerned about Jessie's safety.
Mike looked around the room and surveyed the layout. "Do you know where Sulla is?"
"No," Paige said, "I thought he went outside with Carlito."
Mike nodded. "Let's hurry," he said.
He and the three other agents, along with Paige, got the girls to stay with them as they made their way out of the warehouse. Paige made Katia keep one hand on her shoulder so that Paige would know where she was.
Paige stayed close behind Mike as they inched their way down the hall. He turned back to look at her. "Who's your friend?" He asked the question somewhat comically.
"Mike," she whispered to him, "it's her. It's Katia."
He widened his eyes and did a double-take to look back at the girl. "You're sure?"
Paige leaned forward to speak into his ear. "Yeah, Mike. I'm sure."
"But she's so..."
They got to the door and the agent in the front kicked it open and started to escort the girls outside. There were other agents waiting to lead them over to the vans.
Charlie could hear Jessie stirring in the back of the car. Once the FBI had announced their presence, the amount of noise on the compound had increased.
Her cell phone started to go off and, in hopes of keeping Jessie asleep for a little while longer, she got out of the car and took a few steps away from it before answering the call.
"Hey, it's Jakes. Just wanted to let you know that we have the contraband secured."
"Yeppp. He and Johnny are are in a lover's quarrel... in matching metal bracelets."
She laughed out loud at his remark. "Glad to hear it, Jakes."
"You ok, Chuck?''
She was about to respond, but froze when she heard gunshots, followed by a bloodcurdling scream.
Charlie ended the call and ran out towards the FBI team to try and see what had happened.
Her eyes scanned the over the scene.
She saw Paige on the ground. Mike was laying on top of her, acting like a shield.
The girls had scattered, many of them were led to the vans, and she saw an FBI agent she didn't recognize laying in a pool of blood.
Behind the dead agent stood Sulla, the man from the photos that had scared Jessie.
He was holding a... "Oh no," Charlie said to herself. He had pulled one of the girls over to him and had the gun pressed against her temple.
Sulla aggressively held her close and marched forward toward the FBI vehicles, tempting the agents. He pushed the barrel of the gun into the side of the girl's head.
When the FBI didn't react the way Sulla wanted them to, he started screaming threats at them, yelling about what he had done to the girl.
Charlie could hear the hostage sobbing. It carried on for a few minutes.
Some of the agents had started to surround Sulla and the girl.
Charlie could see that Paige and Mike were now standing behind him, their weapons aimed at the back of his head.
"Let Katia go," Paige yelled at him, "or we will shoot you!"
Sulla laughed at her comment and moved his hand across Katia's chest.
"You like this one?" he yelled to Paige. He started groping the girl. "I like her too!"
"Do you have the shot, Mike?" Paige asked him.
"I got it!" he yelled.
Charlie was waiting for Mike to make the shot when her eyes spotted a small shadow that was moving quickly towards the agents.
It couldn't be.
Charlie looked back at the car. The side door was open and Jessie was gone.
The shadow was Jessie. She was sprinting across the field to Katia. She was almost there.
Charlie ran after her. "MIKE! DON'T SHOOT!"
The gunshot pierced through the air in slow motion. Mike saw Jessie running over to them as he made the shot. It threw off his focus and the bullet sliced through Sulla's inner shoulder instead of his skull.
Mike watched as Sulla and Katia both fell to the ground.
Jessie threw herself down onto Katia.
Mike had tears in his eyes as he looked over to Paige.