Chapter One

"How long is this supposed to take?"

The girl in the backseat of the car spared him the briefest of glances before returning her attention to the screen of the laptop before her.

"Five minutes."

He tapped his fingers lightly on the steering wheel, sighed, and turned back to her.

"How long has it been?"

She looked up at him again, pushing her glasses back up her nose. "Sloan…" she began.

"Seriously." He flicked the windshield wipers on and off impatiently. "They've been in there for like, ten minutes already."

"Three and a half." She tapped a couple of keys with indifference. "I just opened the inner door for them, they'd better be on time." She reached up and grabbed a strand of brown hair, twisting it between her fingers. "You got any gum?"

Sloan opened the glove compartment and pulled out a pack of Berry Breeze Dentine Ice. The girl took it with a raised eyebrow.

"Kind of a girly gum to be in your car, isn't it?"

"Shut it, Kase," he growled, but not in a mean way. "Just keep your eye on that clock."

"Four forty-five. They should be crossing the lot as we—"

All three passenger-doors opened at once, and the car was moving before they'd all shut. The Ferrari blew out of the parking lot and into a sheltered alley. When they pulled into the main road however, bright, flashing lights and sirens exploded into life behind them.

"Shit!" Sloan turned a couple of tight corners, effectively halting traffic with a flurry of honks and a few flipped birds. The two cop cars followed in the wake of pissed off drivers.

"Shit! What the fuck did you do?"

One of the newcomers who had slid into the backseat with Kase laughed lightly.

"That was Ace,' she said, peeling off a pair of skin-coloured rubber gloves. "He decided to trip over air and set off the alarm."

The boy in the front passenger seat turned brick red.

Kase was livid. "After all those briefings where I told you, again and again…made you memorize the locations of those alarm boxes, yet you still—" She groaned. "What else could I have done, burned it onto your hand?"

Ace blushed even more, but didn't turn around.

Sloan had taken them six blocks further while Kase had been ranting and the cops were still on their tail.

"Kase, your anger is understood," he grunted, turning the wheel abruptly so that they sped down a side street. "But unless you've got an idea or on how to get us out of this mess, I suggest you shut the hell up." The sudden turn had lost one of the cars, but the other stayed close behind them.

"I've still got the semi," said the boy on Kase's other side, who had remained silent until now, his green eyes flashing.

"No!" It was Ace who spoke, whipping his head around to glare at the other boy. "No firefights. No killing if we can help it."

The green-eyed boy looked sulky. "But I've got some tire tacks—"

"No JD," the other girl said. "It could still kill someone if the car flips, and we mustn't kill anyone, must we?" She mimicked Ace's authoritative tone.

"Not helping, Berwin." Sloan snapped. She shrugged and leaned back in her seat. JD offered her the mickey of Jack Daniel's, which he had just pulled from his coat. He passed it over Kase's head, which was bent down as she searched for something in her bag.

"Sloan, slow down." She ordered, sitting up as Berwin took a huge swig of whiskey.

"What? Fuck no!" Sloan would have flipped her off if he could have. "The fucking cops will catch us, you idiot!"

"Just do it." There was too much strength in Kase's voice to argue. Sloan started to ease on the brakes and Kase passed Ace what looked like a miniature hockey puck with tape on one side. "When we come alongside the cop car, stick that on it anywhere you can."

"Anywhere?"

When she nodded, he asked; "What the hell is it?"

She grinned, almost evilly. "A little invention of mine."

The Ferrari slowed to an unbearably slow speed and the cop car pulled up beside them.

"A bit closer," Ace told Sloan, even as the cop yelled for them to pull over. Sloan edged the car closer tugging at the wheel as gently as he could.

'Closer," Ace repeated. "I'll only get one shot at this."

"I can't get any closer!" Sloan said through gritted teeth. "Their rearviews are almost touching us as it is! You have to go now!"

Ace took a deep breath, and then pressed the power window button. Even before it was all the way down, Ace had leaned over, shielding his face from view with one hand, and stuck the black puck onto the door of the squad car.

"GO!" Ace shouted, but Sloan had already floored the gas petal.

"What can you do for me, Kase?" Sloan demanded.

Kase started pressing keys in earnest. "How about putting on the brakes?" Their pursuer's brake lights flicked on behind them. "Now, let's wait until he stops, and we'll cause a nice little leak in his gas line, so he cant just restart the car." She smiled slightly as her fingers blurred over the keyboard. "And just to top things off, we'll lock the doors, disable the unlock button, melt his key in the ignition and dissolve my little gismo."

JD and Berwin stared at her in awe.

"That's a pretty useful little gadget, isn't it?" Ace smirked.

"I'd say." JD and Berwin said in unison. They looked at each other, and then all five of them started to laugh.

The house looked ramshackle and run down, and it was. Mould grew in every corner, and rat's nests and spider webs were as common as obese children set loose in a chocolate factory. Many floorboards were cracked and some were missing altogether, exposing the concrete framework beneath it.

Walter Anderson had bought the house dirt-cheap, in hopes that his 20-year-old son Sylvester would move out of the Anderson Mansion. But even though Sylvester appreciated the gesture, he refused point-blank to move his stuff the 400 feet to the neighboring house. Besides, it had been in such bad condition that it hadn't been worth fixing up, even to sell. So the house continued to rot under the name of Walter Anderson. And it was imperative to Sloan Sykes that it remained so.

The black Ferrari glided smoothly into a section of the eight-car garage of the Anderson Mansion. This particular section was the closest to number 16, Sylvester's unwanted house, and was blocked off from the rest of the garage by a soundproofed wall.

"Sylvester," Berwin laughed reading the gilt plaque above the garage door as they drove in.

"Classic Sloan, classic."

"You're one to talk, Bernice," Sloan retorted. Berwin would have continued the argument had they not all gotten out of the car at that point. Ace, JD and Kase, with a practiced air, stepped carefully between the two of them as they all entered the concealed elevator that would bring them down into an underground tunnel, and then into the totally refurbished basement of number 16 West Vine Court.

Sloan had outfitted the basement with as much technology as Ace and Berwin could safely steal, as well as quite a few of Kase's inventions. The moment they stepped into the room, they were blocked b y a complex grid of thin red lines (alarm sensors, stolen by Ace from a retail security store).

"Sloan Sykes, please step forward." A computerized voice chimed around them. Sloan complied. "Real name?"

Sighing, Sloan hand a hand though his short brown hair and said; "Sylvester Anderson." A laser flashed out and crossed over one of his violet eyes, taking in the abnormally small pupil which often gave him a over story of blindness when he was anything but.

The laser completed it's scan and the computer said; "Confirmed," in it's crisp electronic voice. Sloan walked through the sensors without incident and turned back to watch the other come though.

One by one, the others were called forward; Ace Acton, real name Arthur Brown, blond hair sticking up at odd angles from the jolting car ride, non-descript brown eyes looking bored, joined Sloan. Then Berwin Blake, who was really Bernice Dalton, stepped through—pulling her layered auburn hair out of its ponytail, her eyebrow piercing catching the light of the sensors—after her hazel eyes were scanned. Jeremiah Peterson, pseudonym JD James, followed suit, his catlike-green eyes contrasting starkly with his long black hair. Finally, Kassaundra Monroe, alias Kase Kameron, made her way past the lights, her wavy brown hair limp from stress, and her blue-gray eyes tired.

There they were—the driver, the thief, the assassin, the escape artist, and the hacker. Together, they made the perfect team, breaking into vaults, killing people, stealing things… and they were all under twenty-one.