The Essence of Sin

Chapter 2

11 Years Later . . .

“Boss, they’re on my tail!” I spoke into the mic attached to my helmet. I turned my head and saw the red and blue lights flashing close behind my lime-green Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. I nudged the gearshift and sped faster down the road. The pavement flew under me in a blur, reminding me of my speed. One slip-up and I’d get to meet the concrete personally.

“We’re going to gun them out. Keep going and don’t slow down. Do you copy?” The crackled noise came from the speakers next to my ears. I sharply inhaled when Boss said that. Guns meant murder, and I hated when we had to resort to that.

“Copy that,” I replied with a bit of difficulty. I gripped the handlebars tightly and kept my eyes focused in front of me. I sped past the traffic light, gaining a few honks in the process. Like I cared.


That first shot deafened me, but I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t falter. If I did, it would mean instant death, but more importantly, it would ruin the mission. My heart pumped adrenaline through my body as I thought these things, so I quickly averted my attention to just driving. I made myself believe that I was all alone on the roadway, and there weren't seven cop cars chasing after me. I revved my engine and popped a wheelie, jerking the front wheel into the air so that only the back wheel was spinning on the pavement. Urging the bike to go faster, I heard more gunshots. The wind was hit me from behind in a way that I felt like I was flying. But no Titanic moments just yet. I had to get away from here, and everyone was counting on me to do that.

The weight on my back suddenly felt heavier as my stomach lurched with anxiety. I reached behind me with one hand, just to make sure the backpack was still there. I felt its course cloth and let out a deep breath. More gunshots sounded in the air—with screams to accompany them. I pushed all extraneous noise to the back of my mind, and to calm my nerves, I listened to the conversations coming in through the radio in my helmet.

“Yes! I got their engine!”

“Go around them. Don’t stop, Ryo.”

“Copy that, Boss.”

“Stay on our tail, Caleb. Don’t let up.”

“A'ight. Shaun, how’s it looking from your end?”

“One car right behind you, Caleb. Two more in pursuit about three hundred feet back. They’ve just called for backup, so stay alert.”

“Yeah, yeah. No problem.”

“Don’t get cocky with me! There’s a street to coming up on your left, Kara. I want you to take that. Do you copy?”

I blinked and turned my head. Coming up at an alarming speed was a neighborhood. I slammed on the brakes, drifted around the turn, and then I gunned it.

“Done!” I chimed. “Now which way?” I went straight until Shaun told me to take a right and then another left. He twisted me deep into the streets, to the point where I had no orientation of where I was. Before I could start panicking, I realized that the sound of sirens had completely vanished. I dared a look behind me and couldn’t see the blue-and-white cars anywhere. “Thanks, Shaun!” I exclaimed.

“You’re not out of it yet,” his voice crackled through the receiver in a warning scold. “Get back here as fast as you can.”

I returned to the main road and saw the rest of my gang merge smoothly around me. I wondered if that was coincidence, or if Shaun was really smart enough to time everything so flawlessly. Probably the latter. The guy could probably compare to Einstein in the intelligence department. He'd never gone to school, and yet he probably knew more about computers than an MIT graduate. I gave a thumbs up to everyone who waved me on.

“Faster, Princess!” I heard Gio’s deep voice through the radio.

“I’m going! I’m going!” I snapped. I sighed and leaned forward, going much to fast for any sane person. But nothing could equal the rush of speed, and I loved every second of it.

“Boss, where are you going?!”

I glanced back as everyone started to fall behind me. Or was I pulling ahead of them? I looked around my other shoulder and saw a shiny red bike flying closer to me, its engine growling menacingly. Boss was bent over it low, coaxing his baby to catch up with me. His face was concealed by his helmet, the visor tinted black. I brought my eyes back to the road and loosened my muscles. Being tense would do nothing for my reflexes.

Suddenly, I was assaulted by dozens of voices at once. I cringed, trying to make sense of the incoherent muddle. What the hell were they saying? One at a time! Geez!

“Kara! Look out!”

I gasped and turned my head towards Boss, which was an effort from the break-neck speeds I was going. My entire body froze.

I was staring right into the barrel of a gun. Holy. Shit.

“B-Boss?” I stuttered, extremely confused as to why my boss would be holding a gun to my head. What the hell was going on? Everyone’s shouts were suddenly drowned out by another, more deafening sound.


I screamed and stared at the man in horror as he quickly shoved the gun back into his holster. He grabbed the handle of my bike to steady it because I wasn’t moving. After I had regained the use of my limbs, Boss jerked his head towards him as he let go and slid away.

“Phew! Close one!” Caleb’s voice rang in my ears as I sat there stunned.

I heard a screech to my right and saw a police car spin out of control and crash into a tree. Turning my bike, I managed to dodge the mess of metal at the last moment. Blood was splattered on the windows of the cruiser. I thought I was going to be sick.

“You alright, Princess?” Boss asked, flicking his visor up a moment to look at me. I gulped and nodded. Boss’s green eyes were hard and cold, but I saw a hint of worry buried layers within them. He was struggling to keep this completely impersonal. We could die during missions, and he knew that. It was hard for him—really hard. Especially sending me out since I was the youngest member of our gang and the only girl. Well, I say fuck all that! I was just as capable of handling myself as the rest of the guys! But right now, I had other things to worry about, like the fact that a copper had almost shot me. And the fact that Boss had just killed one of them. I had to swallow the bile that was slowly sneaking its way up my throat.

“Sh-Shaun! What the fuck are you doing over there?!” I shrieked, thoroughly pissed off that he hadn't warned me that a copper was right next to me. I thought he had snuck small tracking devices onto all of the cop cars so he could see them on his computer. . . .

“Hey, don’t blame this on me!” he defended. “It’s not showing up on my radar.”

“What are you talking about?” Marco’s voice finally echoed in my head. He and his twin brother, Polo, had been silent for a while.

“I don’t know!” Shaun spat. I could faintly hear rapid typing through the radio. “You’re not out of range. I can still see all of you.” There was a pause. “Dammit! They’ve called for backup from the other station! I don’t have those cars wired. That explains it.”

“That’s alright, Shaun. Make sure you don’t make that mistake next time.” Boss’s voice was stern and didn't betray any emotion. “Everyone stay alert.”

I heard more clicking of keys from the speakers as Shaun calculated something.

“Polo, you’re falling behind,” he stated blatantly.

“I know! Get off my case!” the youth cried out.

“Polo!” I called. “You’re not going to let the girl be faster, are you?” I challenged, smirking.

“You really shouldn’t have said that, Princess.”

I shook my head in disappointment. Men and their sexist minds . . .

I was speeding alongside the Boss, my green bike and his red giving me the Christmas spirit. I started singing Christmas songs in my head while we drove, more to keep the sickening image of the dead cop out of my head than for personal enjoyment.

The street was almost clear of traffic, and the sun was ready to set behind the horizon. Its rays were blinding gold, but my visor blocked them out. It was the perfect evening for a heist, wouldn’t you think? I sighed contentedly and let my bike cruise down the empty roadway. I counted down: Three . . . Two . . . One . . .


An engine revved behind me. Right on cue.

“Hey, Princess!” Polo’s voice came in through the radio. I looked back to see a bright-yellow Kawasaki behind me. The boy riding it waved to me, and I chuckled, waving back.

“No messing around, you two.” The Boss’s voice was harsh, but I couldn’t blame him. Someone had to keep all us children under control. But what was the fun in order and control? I say live a little. Suddenly, I heard sirens shriek behind us.

“Aw, fuck!” Marco swore. I scanned behind me and saw his orange bike trailing in the back—right in front of five police cars.

“Okay, everyone. Time to lose the badges for good,” Shaun relayed. I grinned because this was my absolute favorite part of our robberies. “Kara and Gio straight. Jared, Caleb, and Polo left. Ryo and Marco, right. Everyone copy?”

“Copy that!” we chorused in unison. A flurry of voices suddenly exploded in my helmet as everyone started talking at once.

“Boss, slow down! I’m going to lose you.”

“Ryo, I’m coming at you from the right.”

“Copy that, Marco.”

“Gio, move over. I need to get through.”

“Right. Sorry, Marco.”

A green traffic light shone up ahead. A little too far ahead. It didn’t look like that would last long.

“Gio, the light’s gonna turn. Let’s go!” I shouted into the mic. My heart beat wildly, sending more than enough oxygen to my brain. All my senses were working in overtime as a result.

“I’m right behind you, Princess. Your lead.”

I drove towards the light and noticed the oncoming traffic start slowing to a stop as the light changed to yellow. Shit . . . ! We were too far away. We weren’t going to make it in time!

“Everyone!” The Boss’s voice rang in my ears. “Use it now!”

That was it. The signal. Hell yeah! I pushed a button on the end of the right handle and I almost fell off the bike as I activated the nitrous oxide. Boss, Caleb, and Polo surged forward on their bikes, blue flames spurting from the exhaust. They made a sharp left turn and separated from Gio and me, cutting off all the vehicles in front of them. Ryo and Marco burst forward and went right. I concentrated ahead of me, making sure not to falter. My steering had to be perfect. One wrong move at this speed, and I wouldn’t live to see another day. Wait. How fast was I going, anyway? My eyes glanced down at the speedometer.

Holy shit.

I was going over 110 mph! There was a speed limit sign coming up, and I took a split second to read it: 40 mph. Ha! I didn’t think I’d ever gone seventy miles over before. At least, not on this road.

“Gio and Kara. Do you read me?” Shaun asked.

“Yeah. Shaun! This is fun!” I cried out, the wind nipping at my jacket. Laughter from the other members of my gang sounded in my ears.

“Head straight back,” Shaun ordered. “That’s a left on Oak Ave. Do you copy?”

“We copy,” Gio replied. I tried to turn to look at my big friend, but I was more concerned about staying seated on the bike and not being ripped off by the harsh winds. After a few minutes of straight driving, the nitrous died and we started to slow down. Not that we still weren’t way over the speed limit.

Gio came up from the left and waved, signaling that this was the correct street. I nodded and wove through a few cars to turn into the small opening.

“Are the badges gone?” I asked Shaun.

“Off you and Gio, yes. Caleb, Polo, and Jared, no.”

I tuned out the conversation between them and raced down the road until it reached a dead end. I finally dared to slow to a sane speed, and Gio followed suit. We navigated around the chained-off stretch of pavement and went off the road onto gravel. I decided to keep below 40 mph, just to ensure I didn’t flip over on the uneven ground. We switched over to a dirt road and picked up some speed. Once the turning point came into view—a fork in the trees where our bikes could drive through—we slid around a tall oak, and I carefully wove my bike through the sparse woods, making sure not to scrape it against a branch. I hit a bump and swore as I almost lost control of the bike.

“You alright, Princess?” Ryo asked.

“Yeah, yeah,” I answered grudgingly. “Shaun, open up. We’re almost there.”


Gio had flipped his visor up, and I could see his dark brown eyes scanning the forest. I followed him and we finally cleared the dirt and landed in an open field of grass. I heard gears clicking and slowed to a halt in front of a seemingly harmless patch of clovers at the bottom of a hill. I heard the groan of metal and the clover patch rose in the air, revealing an underground passage just big enough for me to drive through. I gunned the engine, and the floor dropped away as the bike became airborne for a second. I felt the satisfying jolt from the landing and smiled. Oh, yeah! Who was totally awesome? I looked around and stopped. It was pitch black, and I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of my face.

“Lights, Shaun?” I asked impatiently, tapping my foot on the ground.

“Oh, sorry.”

Before the last word left his mouth, the tunnel burst into light, making me blink. Gio slowed behind me until I started driving at my usual speed of fifty. The air rushed past me, and I finally felt relieved. I was done with my part of the mission. It was an uneventful ride back to the hideout so I decided to listen in on everyone else. It technically wasn't eavesdropping if their voices were blasting in your ear, right?

“Ryo, Marco. I’m opening the door.”

“Thanks, Shaun.”

“Oh, yeah! We made it!”

“Alright, Jared. That leaves you and your group.”

“We’re trying, Shaun. We can’t shake them.”

“You gonna be alright, Boss?”

“We better be. Shaun, should we take the highway?”

“No. They’ll dispatch a helicopter with cameras and then we’d be all over the news. Then you’ll never lose ‘em. Head for the back alleys by the old warehouses. I’ll guide you.”

“Copy that.”

I snapped back to reality when I saw the lights at the end of the tunnel brighten. Had five minutes passed already? The tunnel opened out into a large space with metal floors. I could feel the change in texture under the wheels of my bike, and I let out a content sigh. Home at last! Gio and I led our bikes into the garage. The light was dim but still bright enough that I could park correctly. I slowed to a stop and cut the engine, hearing my friend do the same. I put down the kickstand and swung my leg over the bike, ripping my helmet from my head and tossing it onto my bike’s seat.

“Nice work out there, Princess,” Gio sighed, pulling his helmet off. His chocolate-colored complexion was glowing from excitement, pearly white teeth sharply contrasting his dark lips. He ran a hand through the black stubble on his head and collapsed right there on the floor, limbs sprawled. I followed his example. At least, I tried to. I still had the backpack hanging on my back. I pulled it off and held it by the strap before sitting down. Unzipping it and rummaging inside, I whistled happily at the contents.

“We got a damn nice haul today!” I exclaimed, my eyes sparkling. Gio sat up and looked over my shoulder at the contents.

“Yes, we did,” he said slowly. He stuck his hand in and pulled out one of the many wads of hundred dollar bills. “This is only part of it. Boss, Polo, and Ryo have the rest.” I nodded and squealed with excitement. With all this cash, I could finally get an iTouch! Oh, boy, did I want that iTouch badly.

A thumping noise came from a door to our right and we looked up.

“How’d you guys do?” A guy with long, dusty blond hair walked in—or rather, hopped in—on a pair of crutches, a neon green cast on his left leg. He had a soft smile on his face but it immediately hyped up with excitement when I held out the heavy backpack.

“Awesome, Lenny!” I cried out, flashing the cash at him. “I wish you could’ve come!” I pulled out the scrunchie that held my hair back and let my jet-black locks fall around my shoulders. I wrapped the hair tie around my fingers and shot it playfully at the teenager. He wasn’t in any position to dodge, and it hit him square in the chest.

“Was that really necessary?” he asked with a frown. I smirked and nodded. Messing with these boys was what I lived for.

I stood up just as Ryo and Marco drove into the garage from the tunnel. Their headlights blinded me for a moment before they parked and cut the engines. Both boys jumped off their bikes, running over to me without bothering to take off their helmets. I threw the bag of loot at them before they tackled me down. While they made it rain money, I walked over to Lenny, who had seated himself on a bench. I took his crutches from him and leaned them against a wall before I seated myself next to him.

“What are you going to get?” I asked him. He stared at the ceiling for a moment, thinking before he answered.

“I’d like a new book,” he said, grinning at me. We just jacked thousands of dollars and all he wanted was a book?

I scoffed at him, leaning back and letting my hair dangle over the back of the bench. I looked at him, studying his features. The gray irises of his eyes still mesmerized me to no end, sharply contrasting his golden hair. His mouth always seemed to be curled into a smile, forever happy about something. He was definitely a curious guy. If I didn’t know him so well, I would’ve thought him a nutcase. Lenny had his own way of doing things, not succumbing to peer pressure and not caring in the least what people thought about him. He seemed quiet or shy at first impression, but he had incredibly smart things to say if you got him talking. He always had his nose buried in a book, and once he was like that, almost nothing would get him out of the trance. Contrary to the rest of the gang, he wasn’t rowdy or loud. He did tend to mess around with us, but mentally, not physically.

“Yo, Princess!” Ryo called out to me. I looked up at him, annoyance dancing in my eyes. Couldn’t he see that I didn’t feel like moving right now? “You wanna get us some ice cream?” I almost choked at his stupidity. Gio and Marco both started inching away from the redhead, shaking their heads in disbelief. And they had good reason to. I narrowed my gaze at Ryo who took a step backwards, fear moving into his blue eyes. “Uh . . . never mind. . . .” I stood up and plowed my way over to him, glaring daggers. “Princess, you know I was just kidding, right?” he squeaked. Yeah. Well, I wasn’t. I pulled back my fist and smacked him in the head before grabbing his arm, twisting it around into a very uncomfortable position. I was not a maid.

“What did you do now, Ryo?” Polo called out as he drove into the garage, Caleb and Boss trailing.

“I just politely asked for some ice cream!” he exclaimed. Oh, did he, now? I tightened my grip on his arm, making him yelp with pain.

“Let him go, Princess,” Boss ordered, chuckling while he pulled off his helmet. “I think he’s learned his lesson.” I immediately released the older boy. He looked at me with a hurt expression as he rubbed his sore arm.

“Why do you do what Jared tells you?” he asked, sulking. I smirked.

“Because he’s the Boss. You’re not.” I poked him in the chest. Jared came up next to me and put an arm around my shoulders.

“Damn straight,” he chimed, ruffling my hair. I glared at him, making him back off. He could tell me what to do, but he could not mess with my hair. That crossed the line. I stretched, yawning royally.

“I need a shower,” I declared. “See you guys in a bit.” At the exit, I met with Shaun. I gave him a fake grin, and he looked down at me through his glasses as if I was a disease. That motherfucker . . . I punched him in the arm, making him jump in shock.

“Bitch,” he growled so low, only I could hear. The hate emanating from his eyes was apparent as he glared at me. He massaged his arm, which was probably bruised now. I gave him a sweet smile and began walking off. If there was a devil incarnate, it was him.

A rumble sounded from my stomach. “What’s for dinner?” I called back into the garage.

“Cake and ice cream!” Jared answered. This was why I respected the man. Anyone that gave me sugar was alright in my book.