“Ma’am, you need to stay as calm as possible,” the policeman consoled Mrs Nasheed. He was sitting on the sofa opposite the two-seater where the woman and her husband were seated. “We’ll try everything possible to get her back home safely.”
“I can’t stay calm, Inspector. I can’t,” Mrs Nasheed wept while her husband wrapped his hand around her shoulder in comfort. “I don’t know what they’re doing to my girl right now. They could have hurt her or even killed her.”
“You have to stay hopeful with us, Mrs Nasheed,” the Inspector said before getting up. He made a signal to the officers in the Nasheeds’ living room with him – five of them. “We’ll be leaving two of our officers here with you in the meantime. In case, she or anyone with information contacts home, they’ll get to us. And if those men come back, these two men will be here to protect you.”
The Inspector leaned forward and held Mrs. Nasheed’s palms warmly before turning to leave.
“Inspector,” Mr Nasheed called as the officer got to the door.
The officer turned with the four others.
“When do we expect feedback from you sir?” the man asked.
“Sir, with the information you have given, we’ll have to reach the state security service and ask questions first. Her abduction could be linked to something they know about. We’ll let you know when we have something substantial,” the Inspector replied.
“Please, don’t keep us waiting for long,” Mr Nasheed sighed.
The officer nodded and turned to proceed out of the house when the sound of a ringing phone stopped them. It was Mr Nasheed’s phone.
She got up quickly and picked it from the footstool where it was placed on.
The Inspector returned with an inquisitive look on his face. “Who’s it?”
“It’s an unsaved number,” the woman replied in a trembling voice.
The inspector walked closer to her. “Answer and put it on loudspeaker,” he said and then turned back with a signal to one of the officers behind him. The officer proceeded out of the house.
Mrs Nasheed did exactly as she was told. Her eyes widened in excitement as Maria’s voice sounded from the other end.
The Inspector urged the woman to reply quickly.
“Maria, where are you?” the woman’s voice was shaky.
“You don’t have to bother about where I am, Mum. I’m going to be fine. I want you and Dad to stay calm. There’s no reason to worry. Once I get out of this place, I’ll send you an address to meet me. It could be by morning. Make sure you pack up and get ready to do as I say.”
The woman was unsure of what to say with the officers staring but the Inspector urged her to give any reply.
“Maria, you’re scaring us. I and your father have been so worried since those two took you with them,” Mrs Nasheed cried. “They threatened to ki*ll you.”
“Yes, I know, Mom. But I’m fine,” Maria replied in a comforting tone. “Have you two made a report to the police?”
Mrs Nasheed looked at the Inspector’s face and he signaled for her to reply with a yes.
“Yes, we called the police immediately after we got loose,” she replied.
“Are they still there with you right now?” Maria asked.
Mrs Nasheed looked at the officer’s face again and he shook his head.
“No, they left already,” Mrs Nasheed replied.
“Where are you, Maria?” Mr Nasheed got up to join his wife. “If you’re safe, you need to come back home and we have to go to the police together.”
“I’m okay, Dad. You have nothing to worry about, I’ll be getting out of here soon. I just need the two of you to get ready to leave with me by morning tomorrow. Once I leave here tonight, I’ll arrange for all of us to get to safety.”
“If you’re really safe, why don’t you just come home now and let all of us go to the police for protection?”
“You don’t understand, Dad. It’s complicated here. Just pray for me. Once I get away, I’ll be coming for you two. That’s why you should be prepared to leave with me by morning. For now, you just need to pack your bags, and sleep well tonight. Also, make sure you do not contact the police any longer.”
“What if you don’t get out of there, Maria?” Mr Nasheed asked.
There was silence from the other end for a while. The officer that stepped out after getting the instruction from the lead inspector stepped back in and replied with another signal.
“I’m going to get out, Father. You need to be hopeful for me…Sh*t! I gotta go now, just do as I’ve told you.”
The phone call ended even before they had the chance to say anything else. The couple stared at the inspector’s face.
“We got the location, sir,” the man who just stepped in said to the Inspector. “They’ll be sending it to me in a couple of seconds.”
“That’s good news, Mr and Mrs Nasheed,” the inspector turned to the couple. “Our men have gotten your daughter’s current location and we’ll be going there straightaway. These two officers will remain here with you.”
“Have you reached them?” Dave questioned as he and Samantha walked back to where Maria was sitting.
She was sitting in a dark spot behind a huge building. It looked like an abandoned security spot.
Dave had the nylon bag which contained the plates of food in his hand while Samantha had one with bottles of water.
“Yes, I have reached them,” Maria replied and handed the phone back to Samantha. “They told me they have reached the police but claimed they weren’t with them at the time I called. That was just two minutes ago.”
“Is it a good time to go now?” Samantha asked, setting down on a cement block opposite Maria. She dropped the pack of water on the ground. Dave put the nylon on another cement block and turned around to find something to sit on.
“It might be too early now,” Maria replied.
** In the Jet
“Where are the three men?” Rex asked Tanko who was just stepping into the jet. Sheila and Henry were also standing beside Rex.
“I selected them, they’re coming in already,” Tanko looked out through the door to see his men walking in.
“Do they know all the plans already?” Rex questioned.
“I told everything as you explained before,” Tanko replied. “But I hope nothing has changed.”
“Some things may have changed,” Rex replied before moving his gaze towards the entrance as three other men stepped. Each of them had a backpack strapped behind them and other backpacks in their hands. “Come closer guys,” Rex ordered and waited a few seconds for them to get close. “We’ll be moving very soon but some of the things we planned to do has changed.”
“As you may already know, this jet is not on the list of private aircraft in El Deols right now and that’s why we can be in it now without having security agents surround us. We planned to ditch the aircraft at the right spot and drop using our parachutes, but we can no longer continue with that. This aircraft is not just a private one, it’s something of sentimental value and we can’t afford not to get it back safely, because it cannot be replaced.”
“May I say something to you, Rex?” Sheila interrupted.
Rex turned to her. “In private?”
“Give us a second, guys,” Rex smiled at the men before stepping aside with Sheila.
“We can go ahead with our plans,” she whispered to him. “We’re not going to have any problem with my Dad as long as we’re safe… as long as I’m safe.”
“I think I know that,” Rex replied. “But I have a plan for us to keep it intact and we’re going to do so.”
Sheila gasped. “Okay.”
They returned to the gathering.
“Sorry, gentlemen. As I was saying, we need to keep this airplane in perfect shape. So, we’re going to land, all of us. We would have gotten into Bexford before they can figure out where we plan to land.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Henry put in. “Even though Sheila would make it possible for them not to detect where we’re landing at, they would know we moved from here. We don’t have many landing options in Bexford and they could be waiting anywhere for us.”
“That’s it! We don’t have to land in Bexford,” Rex pointed out. “They’re going to be focused on Bexford. We can land somewhere close to Bexford, where they’ll never think of.”
Henry squinted at him thoughtfully. “You’re thinking of the Vints ground?”
“Yes, Hutton Ryker is not going to expect us there,” Rex replied. “And it just going to be a thirty minutes drive into Bexford.”
“Okay,” Henry heaved a sigh of relief. “Let’s do it then.”
**In the Nasheeds’ Residence**
“You two have to eat something. Your daughter and the police will need you two to be strong when she’s back,” the officer who was sitting on the sofa opposite the couple advised again.
There were two plates of food in front of the couple but they didn’t move despite the policeman’s advice. The second officer was standing close to the door with a long gun hung around his left shoulder.
The living room grew silent again and all they could hear was the sound of the ticking wall clock. The officer got up to cover the couple’s plates of food after seeing that the two of them weren’t ready to listen. He was returning to his seat when he heard a strange sound.
“What’s that?” the officer paused and quickly took out his gun. He glanced at his partner who was also in motion.
“Sounds like something dropped,” Mr Nasheed got up from his seat.
“Hey, hold on,” the first officer ordered the man in hush tones. “Stay right here, I’ll go check it. Make sure you don’t say anything until I get back.”
Slowly and carefully, the officer moved towards the direction of the noise. He got into the passageway and wasn’t sure which of the rooms the sound could have come from.
He decided to pause for a second to listen for something else before deciding on which of the doors to open. As he imagined, there was another sound which was similar to the first. He could tell it was from the second door by the left.
He proceeded slowly to the door and stopped at the entrance for a moment. The door was fully closed, so there was no way he could take a peak in even though the bulb inside was on. The police had instructed the couple to turn on all the lights in the house when they arrive earlier. He took in a deep breath before opening the door and walking into the room in a flash.
He pointed his gun to the left and right. There was no one around, except a cat sitting on the table. Five books and an electrical lamp had fallen from the table.
The obvious explanation was that the cat dropped the books but the officer was not ready to leave it at that. He looked around the room for a while before he lowered his gun. He stared at the cat for a while.
“Mr Nasheed,” he called out from the room. “Why didn’t you let us know you had a cat?”
“Oh! We forgot to mention that. The cat wasn’t in when you guys arrived,” Mr Nasheed answered from the living room.
The officer turned and stepped out of the room. He closed the door and was about to proceed out of the passageway when he heard the sound of someone flushing the water closet in a toilet. He turned towards the direction of the sound and noticed the door in the opposite wall at the end of the passageway. He was sure that was the toilet. He lifted his shoulders slightly to get the attached mouthpiece closer to his mouth.
“I need you here, Terry,” the officer whispered into the device.
*In the living room
The other policeman got his colleague’s message in the living proceeded towards the passageway when he heard a noise from the kitchen area. Mr and Mrs Nasheed also heard it. It sounded like someone forced the kitchen exit door open.
“We might need to call backup, looks like there’s something here too,” the policeman whispered to his colleague through his device and then turned towards the kitchen.
Mr Nasheed also got up and walked towards the kitchen area without the policeman noticing.
The officer stepped into the kitchen to meet Maria taking out a drink in the refrigerator. The kitchen door was also slightly opened.
Maria turned toward the policeman and stared at him in surprise. They were yet to say anything when Mr Nasheeed surfaced from behind.
“Dad,” Maria gasped. “You should be sleeping now. I told you that needed to rest well.”
The policeman lowered his gun and whispered something into his mouthpiece. “You need to see this, man.”
The other officer heard his partner’s voice and wondered what he could have seen but did not bother to turn back. He was sure of what he heard from the toilet.
He stood in front of the toilet, hoping to hear another sound again and he did. A tap was running. He decided that the moment whoever was in there was using the tap was the right time to break in and he quickly pushed the door open to meet a woman pointing a gun at him. He glanced at the tap running on its own and realized that was just a ploy to get him to open the door.
They were pointing their pistols at themselves. The policeman had no idea who this lady was, but he was sure she was dangerous.
“Why don’t you drop your gun?” Samantha finally spoke. “You’re outnumbered.”
The policeman squinted at her, wondering what she meant by outnumbered. Before he could figure it out, he heard some footsteps behind him and saw a man with a pointed gun walking toward him. The man had just stepped out of the same room he saw the cat.
Samantha’s gun was kissing his forehead by the time he turned again.
“Maria, how are you here?” Mr Nasheed widened his eyes in surprise as he walked past the officer to his daughter. He grabbed her on both shoulders and looked into her eyes. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I am, Dad,” Maria replied after gulping some content from the bottle of drink in her hand. “I told you not to worry about me. Now, where’s mom?”
“She’s in the living room,” the father replied, still looking baffled.
“Let’s go see her,” Maria replied and then gulped down some more from the bottle. “After you,” she said to the man who then led the way.
The policeman stood and watched them in silence, waiting for them to walk past before going to join his friend. However, Maria stopped right in front of him and squinted at his face.
“You’re a police officer, I guess.”
The officer nodded.
“Did they tell you I work with the state security service?”
The officer nodded again.
“Why don’t you put that aside now?” Maria glanced at the pistol.
“I still gotta go meet my colleague who’s gone to check if there’s any danger in the rooms,” the officer said and turned to leave. He was about to walk past Mr Nasheed at the entrance when Maria spoke again.
“You don’t have to go there,” she said walking towards him with a gun pointed to the back of his head.
Mr Nasheed widened his eyes in surprise. The police officer could see her with his face turned sideways but did not react in any form.
“What are you doing, Maria?” the surprised father asked.
Maria ignored her father and kissed the back of the officer’s head with the pistol from behind and then reached for his right hand where he had the pistol. “Let it go, officer,” she whispered from behind.
The officer finally let the gun go, not sure of what was happening.
“Dad, let’s go back to the living room,” Maria gestured for her father to lead the way.
“You need to tell me what’s happening, Maria,” the man said in a shaky voice as he proceeded back into the living room.
They got there to see the second police officer being led back into the living room with two people pointing their guns at him.
Samantha, Dave, and Maria exchanged signals with their eyes and led the officers into the living room. Maria asked her parent to sit while they checked the officer’s bodies and removed all weapons and communication devices. Samantha returned with the dining chairs and ropes to tie the officers.
“Maria, you need to tell us what’s happening,” the couple were becoming impatient.
“Everything is fine, Mom. We’re just here to get you to safety,” Maria replied without taking a glance at the couple.
“These are the same people that took you away, Maria. They were threatening to ki*ll you,” Mrs Nasheed spoke out. She was feeling more fear than confusion.
“They’re my friends, ma. We had a disagreement but we’ve sorted it out.”
“But what have these officers done? They’re just here to protect us,” Mrs Nasheed cried and got up from her seat.
“Sit back, Mom. Don’t interfere. It could get bloody if you do,” Maria ordered her mother who was shocked at her tone.
She glanced at her husband who gestured to her to obey.
“We’re not hurting them,” Maria continued. “We just want to keep them from reporting that we’re here until we’ve gone far away with you.”
“They’re here to help,” Mr Nasheed put in.
“I know, but right now, the police’s job clashes with ours. And if we don’t tie them up and let them do their work, their proceedings will clash with ours.”
Hutton was sitting on the sofa silently, with his hands spread on the arms comfortably and his eyes closed. It had been that way for more than thirty minutes until he received a call.
He looked at the screen before answering it. It was from the Anthanna FOX Chairman.
“Sir, the flights were two,” Agent Shaw replied from the other end.
“What do you mean?”
“It wasn’t one flight sir, there was another one we did not detect early.”
“I’m still not sure what you’re talking about man,” Hutton replied. “How did a second flight go undetected?”
Thirty minutes ago, Agent Shaw had called to tell Hutton about a group of men that were caught trying to leave the country via private flight. However, none of the men’s faces matched with the wanted men. The men were also not armed, so the Anthannian FOX had no reason but to let them go after thorough screening.
“It was through an unregistered airplane owned by Emery Jack. Sheila Jack must have helped them escape with it,” Shaw explained.
“How the heck does Emery Jack have an unregistered airplane?” Hutton asked angrily.
“I made enquires and they told me the previous license expired three months ago. The man had just applied to renew it last week but the officials were yet to have a look at it. The application was scheduled to be reviewed this week.”
“Oh, sh*t! So you’re saying agents of the Red Wolves escaped right under your nose?”
“We couldn’t do anything about it, sir, their medium of escape was registered.”
“Wait… Does the plane have any sort of name?”
“Yes, I was told he named it after his late wife, Amanda…”
“Ah, f**k!” Hutton clasped his hands together and got up to his feet. “You guys were f**king dumb. How did you not know Emery Jack was telling his daughter about the jet with the video he released?”
“We had no prior knowledge of the jet sir.”
“Are you tracking its movement now?”
“Yes, we’re trying but we’ve yet to pick the location of any of the moving airplanes. Our networks aren’t picking the satellite signals. I sent the task to the Bethannian FOX to get on it too.”
Hutton heaved a sigh of frustration. “Sheila Jack could have done something to keep you off their tracks. You need to find and question Emery Jack immediately. He’s gonna know a way to track the jet.”
*1 hr 30 Minutes Later
Hutton maintained the same position on the sofa. His eyes popped open immediately after his phone rang. He reached for the phone on the sofa beside him and answered the call.
“It’s Florence, we’re in.”
“You should return to the base,” Hutton replied. “I’ve sent enough men to the different landing positions they could use in Bexford, but we still need to strengthen our base, in case they go past our men.”
“You’re sure I don’t need to go to any of the locations?”
“Did you listen to me? We can’t find the exact one. The best option is for you to return.”
“What if I know somewhere they could land?” Florence questioned. “Somewhere outside Bexford, but very close…”
To be continued