“All the rooms are clear, ma’am,” the last of the men reported as he stepped back into the living room. “It doesn’t look like anyone has been here in a while.”
Eight other men were also in the living room, after searching through the building without finding anything. Florence Brown was squatting, looking under the rickety sofas to see if there was anything that could give them a clue.
“They were here,” Florence finally got up holding up an almost bottle of water.
They all stared at the bottle in her hand. One of the men moved closer to take the bottle from her.
“It looks new,” the man remarked after looking at the bottle closely. “But how can we say they were the ones who dropped it here? What if someone else was here?”
Florence Brown turned sharply to the guy. “If it were someone else, we would have known. But they tried to clean off traces to make no one know that they were here. There are no signs of life anywhere, except that bottle.”
“There were no signs, except the bottle,” another man moved closer to Florence. “But why did they drop the bottle if they wanted to remove all signs.”
“It must have been an error. They must have been rushing,” Florence answered thoughtfully. “Maybe they had an alarm which notified them that some people were close,” she added and then squinted. She turned quickly to the man with the bottle. “It took you and the other eight some time to get here. They must have gone through your route.”
“We were watching ma’am, there’s no way they could have passed without us noticing,” the man replied.
“What do you mean by you were watching ?” She raised her brows.
“You told us to watch for the patrolling police officers and we had to stop on the way because we saw some of them,” the man replied.
“Where did you meet them?”
“On the route here, they were on bikes.”
“Three of them?” She widened her eyes.
“Yes, two bikes and three people. We had to wait after they left to ensure there were no others coming too.”
“Sh*t! F**k you man,” Florence scoffed. “Those men you saw weren’t police officers. It must have been the three of them.”
“Ah, shi*t!” the man grabbed his hair with his hand. “We had to step aside because you asked us to avoid the police.”
“We need to go after them now,” the other guy standing in front of them said and turned.
“It’s needless,” Florence Brown remarked, unimpressed. “They’re on bikes and we still have to walk a long distance before we get to where our vehicles were parked. We have no chance of catching up with them,” she uncocked her gun and took out a phone from her pocket as she walked out of the building.
The FOX Office,
Hutton was standing close to the wall at the back and staring at the large screen from a distance. A group of FOX IT officials were sitting in front of the computer sets, working on different tasks. The official in the center was streaming live scenes from Ericken’s Smith Road, which was being projected to the larger screen for Hutton to see from behind.
His eyes had been fixed on the screen for more than ten minutes until a phone call distracted him. He took out the phone to check the caller. It was from Anthanna.
“I’ll be back,” he announced to the group before walking out of the room. He answered the call as he stepped into a small office opposite the place. “Florence, do you have good news?”
“No, they got away,” the reply came.
Hutton took in a deep breath. “I thought you’ve had your eyes on them.”
“Yes, I did. But my eyes can’t be everywhere,” Florence replied. “Some of our men got so close to Carl Winston and had the chance to take a good shot at him, but only God knows how he was able to ki*ll all four of them. Or maybe he had help.”
“So, are you still searching or what?”
“It’s pointless to keep searching when they could have gone anywhere. I don’t even know where to search.”
“You’ve got to think, Florence. That’s why you’re in charge of the operation there. They couldn’t have just disappeared into thin air. You can figure out where they went to.”
“Anthanna is large, Hutton,” Florence snapped. “They could have gone anywhere. I don’t know where to start searching.”
Hutton was quiet for a while. “Carl must have gotten the news of the explosion somehow. And he’s gonna try to be on his way back to Bexford, but there’s no way he could have gotten to El Deols City so fast. We should aim at stopping him before he gets back to Bexford. That’s the only way it’s going to be easy for us.”
“But how are we going to do that?”
“How many people are currently with Carl and Rex?”
“Just Sheila, the police took Adrian with them.”
“I’ve got the FOX under control now and we’ll make maximum use of the corporation. We can get the Anthannan FOX to catch them and hand them over to you.”
“If you get that done, I’ll ki*ll all three of them immediately I get the chance to.”
“I’ll get back to you,” Hutton said before ending the call.
He shook his head gently as he released a long breath from his lips. After taking a few seconds to think, he stepped out of the office and continued down the hallway. It took him two minutes to walk to a large open office with officials in a different department. He walked to the seat of the head Agent at the corner of the office.
“Sir!” The agent stood up to salute him.
“Sit,” Hutton replied and also took the seat in front of him. “I’ve got a hint from my group of special agents about a group of Red Wolves leaders travelling through El Deols in Anthanna, so we need to get the FOX there involved right away, and we also need your department to do some monitoring from here.”
“We’re ready, sir. Tell us what we need to do,” the agent replied.
“Those Red Wolves agents would likely want to return via air, so we need to get a list of all airdromes that are not controlled by the Anthannian government. We also need a list of all registered private airplanes. We need it immediately.”
“I’ll get on it, right now sir.”
“Good, I’ll be expecting your feedback in ten minutes,” Hutton got up and turned to leave.
He got out of the department and proceeded to his office this time. The secretary got up to salute him.
“I need you to connect me to the regional Chairman in Anthanna right away,” he ordered the secretary before walking into the office to seat.
Not too long after, the landline on his table rang.
“Yes,” he picked up the receiver.
“I’m connecting you to Agent Shaw now.”
“Proceed,” he permitted and then waited a few seconds to hear the agent’s voice.
“Chairman, sir,” the man at the other side cleared his throat. He had spoken to Agent Hutton earlier that day when he called to acknowledge him as the interim FOX chairman.
“Agent Shaw, I’ll be forwarding some pictures of three people to you in a minute. These men are suspected to be working with the Red Wolves and I want you to mobilize all forces to nab them in Anthanna.”
“Where exactly are these people in Anthanna?”
“El Deols, and we suspect that they’re going to be trying to get back to Bethanna. We need you to catch them in Anthanna before they get here,” Hutton explained, tapping on the computer in front of him.
“Okay, that’s fine. We keep them in custody here or transfer them immediately?”
“Bexford FOX representatives are already after them in Anthanna but we need more forces to track them down. Once you catch them, you hand them over to the Bexford agents who will transport them to the head office here.”
“That’s fine, I await the pictures.”
Hutton dropped the receiver immediately and then typed in the password to open the computer. The system had been hibernated before, so it didn’t take so much time to boot. Hutton took out a flash drive from his front pocket and plugged it into the computer. He was able to send the pictures to the Anthannian FOX office a few seconds after.
He headed out two minutes after sending the pictures and was walking through the hallway when his secretary came running behind him.
He turned to look at her. “Yes?”
“There’s a call from Agent Shaw, he says he needs to speak with you now.”
Hutton turned and proceeded back to the office silently. The secretary let him walk past her before she followed. She got to her seat while he proceeded into the office.
“Agent Shaw,” he picked up the receiver again. “Have you started mobilizing your men yet?”
“Yes, Chairman. But the pictures, I don’t seem to understand them,” the agent replied.
“What’s the problem with the pictures?”
“I see three people there – Agent Rex Morris, Agent Carl Winston, and Sheila Jack. The first two are dead, and the last one has been reported missing for a while.”
“Yes, but the two of them aren’t dead, and neither has Sheila Jack been missing.”
Shaw was slow to reply again. “Ermm… But the Bethannian FOX confirmed their deaths.”
“Yes, because those two faked their deaths so perfectly, but they’ve been alive. Just hold on, I’ll send you some pictures right away.”
Hutton reached for the mouse with his left hand while still holding onto the receiver. His flash drive was still plugged in, so he just clicked it open from the computer folder.
He resized the folder window to fit only half of the computer screen and moved it to one side. On the other half, he fixed the mailing app and clicked on the compose button. Immediately after the compose box opened, he dragged some pictures from the open folder into the box. Then, he typed the first two letters of the email address and clicked on the suggestion shown.
“I just sent you more pictures,” he leaned back after clicking on the send button.
“Okay, I’m on the mail right now, looking out for it,” There was silence for about thirty seconds before agent Shaw spoke again. “Received now, I need a minute to look at it.”
“Take your time, Shaw,” Hutton replied confidently.
“These pictures were taken recently?” Shaw asked after a minute.
“Yes, they’re recent,” Hutton replied. “The first picture of Rex Morris was taken about a year ago when he was hiding in Kebba, South Husan. His second picture was in England a few months ago. He left there after having surgery and killing the security officers and medical officials assigned to take care of him. You’ll also find several pictures of Sheila Jack and Carl Winston together. Carl and Rex are two rogue FOX agents who faked their deaths to work silently for the Red Wolves. I don’t know how they did it, but they recruited Sheila Jack with them.”
“I don’t even know what to think or say,” Shaw took in a deep breath. “You don’t have to say anything, man. There is no time to ask questions or discuss. We need to act now. Circulate the pictures to your men but do it silently. We cannot let them know that the FOX is after them, otherwise, they’ll be more cautious. And we know who these men are. We can’t afford to let them use the darkness of the night to their advantage.”
Hutton dropped the receiver and got up from the seat immediately. He took out his phone and dialled Florence’s number as he proceeded to the door. He stopped in front of the door to speak to her.
“Hey, the FOX and other security agents will be out looking for the three of them now. Meanwhile, I need you to get to Deols City as soon as possible. I’m going to make arrangements to create a FOX profile for you and a few other men. We’ll send you all the information you need to stay accurate.”
“What if the FOX agents here ask for an identity card or something like that?” Florence asked.
“You’ll be given a code, that’s all you need for whatever you tell them to check in,” Hutton replied. “You’re undercovers, so they won’t ask you many questions since they do not expect you to give them answers. Just your codes will be enough. I’ll send them to you as soon as possible.”
Maria walked slowly to the door, with her gun held behind her. She was already so close when she heard the knock again. She paused to take a deep breath and then continued as silently as possible.
She got to the door and checked through the peephole without leaning against it. She couldn’t see anything. She suspected that it had been blocked. There was a knock at the door again. She checked the peephole again and still couldn’t see anything. That was all she needed to confirm that someone had blocked it intentionally from outside.
She turned just in time to see her parents walking into the living room. She quickly placed a finger on her lips and widened her eyes to warn them against talking or making any sound. The two of them froze on a spot and stared at her in horror.
An idea came to her mind and she began to tiptoe back to them.
“We should call the police now!” Mrs Nasheed whispered to her.
Maria put the finger across her lips again to hush her. She got to them and collected the phone from her mother.
“We can’t call the police,” Maria said in whispers. “They’re listening outside and they may force their way in before the police get here.”
“What do we do?” the father raised his brows at her.
“We don’t need to get anything else to leave. Let’s just go. We’ll take the backdoor and get somewhere safe before calling the police or anyone,” Maria said to her parents and then led the way towards the backdoor. She stopped abruptly and turned. “Don’t make any sound,” she whispered another warning to the two before she continued.
They walked as silently as possible to the backdoor. Maria unhooked it from behind carefully but it still made a little noise. She asked her parents to step back a bit as she held her gun and tried to open the door slowly to peep first. Unfortunately for her, someone was already at the backdoor.
Samantha noticed the door was opened slowly and then kicked in it quickly with the bottom of her foot. It sent Maria crashing to the ground. Mr and Mrs Nasheed held their breaths in horror.
Maria tried to recover as quickly as possible but Samantha already had a gun pointed at her before she could.
“Don’t try it,” Samantha warned her. “Just drop the gun.”
“Sam,” Maria raised her brows. It wasn’t who she was expecting to see.
“Don’t move,” Samantha warned Mrs Nasheed who she suspected was about to run. “If any of you make a move, I’ll sh00t her.”
“What are you doing, Sam?” Maria squinted at her.
“Shut the f**k up!” Samantha slammed and pointed the gun at her again. “Put your hands up.”
Maria raised her hands slowly, with a confused look on her face.
Dave who had heard the noise was walking towards the backdoor.
“You were right,” Samantha remarked as she noticed him. “They were about to leave through the backdoor.”
Dave soon came into sight and Maria squinted at him. He pointed his gun at her and proceeded in.
“Get up,” Dave forced Maria up and then passed the gun on the floor towards Samantha with his feet. “Who else is inside?” Dave asked, staring at Mr Nasheed.
“No one,” the couple shook their head frantically. They had their hands in the air as they proceeded further into the house.
Samantha stepped in after them and closed the door.
“What are you guys doing?” Maria was forced to ask.
“Just shut the f**k up and don’t say a word,” Dave warned her.
In less than five minutes, Dave found enough items to gag and tied up the couple to chairs in the dining room. After that, he and Samantha led Maria out of the house.
“What’s happening guys?” Maria asked again as she was forced into the backseat of the car.
Samantha entered with her while Dave sat at the driver’s side. He started the car engine and got onto the road immediately.
“Would you like us to apply force or you’ll just start talking right away?” Dave asked, looking at her face from the rearview mirror.
Maria looked confused. She stared at Dave’s face for a while and then turned to Samantha. “I don’t know what’s happening here.”
Deols, El Deols
It took them over 45 minutes to get to the city on their motorcycles. Rex was riding alone on a bike while Sheila rode with Henry behind her on the other. They parked the bikes in a corner and walked for five minutes to get into a drinks store room.
Rex led them into the place with his phone’s flashlight before he turned on the bulb. He left Henry and Sheila to sit at the reception and walked to the far end to make a call.
“Hey, Tanko. We’re in the street now. I’ll text you our exact location to meet us.”
Henry looked around the place for a while and remembered that he had been there before, with Rex. He looked towards Rex and saw him walking back to them.
He got up from the seat and proceeded towards Rex who also saw him coming.
They met themselves on a spot and stared into each other eyes in silence for a moment. “Who were you calling?”
Rex raised a brow. He could hear distrust in Henry’s tone. “Hey,” he raised his brows. “I know I’ve got some explanations to make, but we gotta take these things slowly. I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
“I don’t wanna know everything yet. I just want to know if we’re safe in here,” Henry said and then glanced back towards Sheila.
Rex could tell he was more concerned about Sheila’s safety than himself.
“I promise you nothing is going to happen to her. We’re safe here. I only made a call to Tanko.”
“You’ll remember him when he gets here, he’s coming to help us.”
Henry stayed quiet for a while and Rex squinted at his face, wondering what was going through his mind.
“You got shot only a few days ago, how did you get to plan everything you did here?” Henry stared thinly into his friend’s eyes. “The motorcycles, the safe houses, the police uniform, and everything?”
“I had hours to think and plan, Carl. Besides, there are enough connections to help you get tasks done, as long as you have money,” Rex paused and took in a breath. “You weren’t supposed to be here, Carl. I planned only for myself, Sheila, and Adrian. It’s just good luck that you could squeeze yourself into the ones I got for myself. I’m feeling choked in this one.”
“Enough of the bullshit, Rex. Tell me why you went after my wife and son,” Carl snapped at him.
Rex looked away for a second and then fixed a thin stare on Henry’s face. He was about to say something when his phone began to ring. He looked at the screen and then faced it to Henry. “Tanko is here, I need to get him outside.”
Henry turned and watched him walk to the door. After a few seconds, he proceeded slowly after him.
to be continued