“It was Simon Perry that got himself killed after all,” Henry murmured, letting out a deep breath. “All fingers were pointing to you.”
“Yeah, I was the major murder suspect. That’s the only reasonable conclusion the London police could have made immediately,” Rex replied. “But I think they would have changed their minds after forensic examinations.”
There was silence for a little while before Henry spoke again. “How does Sarah come into all these?”
Rex turned his neck to stare at his friend briefly. “Sarah had nothing to do with what happened in the United Kingdom. All that must have been Hutton’s idea.”
“Okay…” Henry muttered in a shaky tone and squinted eyes at his friend, expecting him to continue with the explanation about Sarah’s involvement.”
“I found out about Sarah when…”
“Boss… We gotta talk,” a gruff voice interrupted them.
They looked up to see Tanko standing just right there.
“Hey!” Henry scoffed. “Couldn’t you choose another time to come?”
“I’m sorry, but this is urgent,” Tanko replied.
Rex returned the reclined seat to the normal position. “You want to see me here, or in private?”
“We can talk here,” Tanko shrugged.
“Then get started already,” Henry scoffed.
“I think we might need to stop in Bexford instead. I could think of the several safe places we could stop…”
“That’s not up for discussion. We’re already on a different route,” Rex interrupted him with a dismissal tone. He began to recline his seat again.
“Bexford police agents are sniffing around,” Tanko continued. “I’m afraid they may find our depot.”
“What depot are you talking about? And why didn’t you make enough arrangements to secure your depot beforehand?” Rex replied, unwilling to continue the conversation.
“The depot was always secure, but that’s on normal circumstances…”
“So what has become abnormal?”
“They profiled the men we sent to take the private airplane for the distraction and I think they’ve been able to link them to some of our resources.”
“Link them?” Henry raised a brow. “Why would they even think of linking them when they’re not supposed to know that was a distraction?”
Rex returned his chair to the regular position. “You forgotten that Hutton Ryker is in charge of the FOX now?” He glanced at Henry. “He must have realized we used them as a distraction.”
“If I don’t get to Bexford and give orders for some movement, they may discover all my arsenal. And you know what that is, I’ll be declared a wanted criminal,” Tanko put in.
“Relax, man. That’s not gonna happen. Besides, how did you find out that police officers were sniffing around?”
“I got a message from my man,” Tanko replied.
“A message?” Rex raised a brow. “We barely entered the Bethannian region. How did you get the signal?”
“This jet has a working WiFi.”
“Oh!” Rex nodded slowly. “I’m sorry, but we can’t change plans now. We’ll continue to Vints ground. After we get there, you can hurry to your men.”
“It might be too late,” Tanko replied in a sad tone. “That may set us back greatly.”
“We have no option here. Stop being a pessimist.”
Tanko heaved a sigh of frustration and then turned to leave. As he was leaving, Sheila appeared from the other side of the aisle.
“Sheila,” Henry exclaimed on seeing her. “You should be resting now.”
“I couldn’t sleep for long,” she replied in a sad tone. “I dreamt about my Dad. I don’t know if he’s in trouble now. What if they accuse him of helping us? They could get him arrested and charge him for aiding terrorism.”
Rex and Henry sighed and exchanged glances. They knew she was saying the truth, but they had to look for words to comfort her.
El Deols, Anthanna
Agent Shaw had fallen asleep in his office when a knock at the door jerked him up. He quickly wiped his face with a handkerchief and readjusted himself on the seat before answering the knock.
Two FOX agents walked in and saluted.
“Sir, we haven’t found Emery Jack. We’ve sent officers to all his houses and we were told he wasn’t there. We need extra permission to ransack his houses.”
“F**k! What if he escapes before you return?” Shaw questioned.
“That won’t be possible sir,” the agent replied. “We have men watching all of his properties.”
“Go and bring the necessary paper and bring them here. I’m gonna sign everything you need right away,” Shaw urged them.
“Thank you, sir,” the officer saluted and turned to leave.
They had yet to step out of the office when one of their phones rang. The agent paused and took out his phone. “Yeah?”
He listened for a moment and then turned back to Chairman Shaw.
“Our men just found out he visited one of his houses and left with some of his security aides in his rolls Royce over ninety minutes ago.”
“Then what else are you waiting for? “ Agent Shaw yelled. “Go trace that vehicle and get him right away.”
“Thank you,” Emery Jack said to the bodyguard who held the car door open as he stepped out.
“This way sir,” another man ushered him towards another vehicle.
Emery followed the man and entered the backseat of another car.
“Who else is going with us?” he asked, keeping a foot outside the car.
“Just me, we can’t take everyone with us,” the man who ushered him into the car answered. “We still need to change vehicles twice on the way. There won’t be enough space to hide everyone in the truck.”
Emery nodded in understanding and lifted his foot into the car. The man outside closed the door and turned to join the driver in the front seat.
“When will we get to South Husan?”
“We should get there in two hours,” the man at the passenger’s side answered.
“Where are we heading to?” the car driver asked again, peeking at her face through the rearview mirror.
“Just keep driving, I’ll let you know,” Florence Brown answered, seated comfortably in the backseat with a man.
Florence’s eyes were fixed on the tablet device in her hand, going through a map. The man by her side was also looking into the screen and listening as she spoke softly, pointing to device parts of the map occasionally.
“Take the next turn and stop in front of the third gate,” Florence ordered after a few minutes.
The driver soon made the turn and stopped in front of the gate as he was ordered.
Florence Brown stepped out of the car with the man in the backseat with her. They walked together to the gate and enter through the smaller opening.
It was noisy inside the yard. There were a group of over thirty men at the front of the building, all dressed like thugs. Some were smoking, some were playing games, and others were just busy with their phones. They all had weapons with them, mostly guns and a few knives. The place turned silent and their attention turned towards the visitors immediately.
The men created a passage space for their leader who was just stepping out of the building after being notified of the visitor’s arrival. The leader had two other men flanking him.
Florence and her partner stopped after walking halfway and waited for the three men approaching them.
“Is that him?” she whispered to her partner.
“Yeah, it is.”
Florence sighed in response. She took a quick scan of the yard and at the noisy men who had now turned quiet. She didn’t look impressed. They were different from what she expected. Hutton had promised to give her a group of skilled professionals after her request, but these men didn’t look a bit like what she wanted.
The three men go to their front and stopped.
“Are you Florence Brown?” the leader asked in a thick accent.
“Yes, I am.”
The guy nodded slowly. “You can call me Thiago,” he stretched out his hand to offer her a handshake.
“Thiago, nice to meet you,” she took his hand reluctantly. “Could you please give me a minute to talk with the strategist on the phone?”
“Yeah, go ahead,” Thiago shrugged.
Florence stepped aside and took out her phone. She dialled Hutton’s number after getting to a good distance.
“Yeah?” Hutton answered the call.
“Are these the guys you talked about?” Florence asked, making sure her voice was low.
“Is there a problem?” Hutton replied.
“These guys look like some street thugs. We’re going for something more serious…”
“Florence, those Spanish motherf**kers are good fighters and skilled in the use of guns. They are…”
“I don’t plan to get into a gun war or fist fight with Rex and Carl,” Florence interrupted him too. “I wanna keep it simple. So, I only need people who are going to understand my instructions well and carry them out effectively. The plan is not to fight or engage them, the plan is to get them to surrender peacefully. For this, I only need men who can position themselves right without making errors. And right now, I’ve got less than ten minutes to explain my plan to them. They must catch it fast. If Carl and Rex find any error with us, they’re going to exploit it and it’s gonna be bloody.”
“You should have let me finish talking,” Hutton snapped. “Thiago was a secret agent in the Spanish army for years. I worked with him in Spain before he got into trouble and escaped to Africa. His men are well-trained too. They’re gonna give you everything you need.”
Florence stayed quiet for a while. She turned to look at the men for a moment and let out a sigh of relief.
“Do you need anything else?” Hutton asked after noticing her silence.
“No, that’s all,” Florence replied.
“I’m not sure of what you’re doing, Florence. As a matter of fact, I don’t think Carl and Rex are going to be at that Vints ground like you believe. I barely trust anyone but I’ve decided to trust you with this. I’m giving you another chance to think again and get back to following my plan.”
“What if I decide to go ahead with my plan?”
“Then, it better be right. You’re the most effective man I have on board now. I could lose the opportunity to ki*ll Rex and Carl if you’re not at the right place.”
“Why are you letting me make the choice?”
“You’ve been right many times and could have killed Carl if I’d let you have your way on several occasions. So, I think this your choice may be right too.”
“You’ve got your men monitoring all landing grounds in Bexford. Carl and Rex know that already but they won’t want to land somewhere far from Bexford. The Vints ground is the safest choice for them.”
“Okay, go get them.”
Florence ended the call and walked back to the men.
“Doubting us ma’am?” Thiago chuckled as he saw her returning. “All my men are trained soldiers, but we only have these looks to disguise like ordinary drug pushers. That way, we’re only suspected of drugs and we’re never caught doing anything wrong.”
Florence Brown did not reply to his remarks.
She looked at the men in front of the building again and cleared her throat. “You’ve got communication devices for all your men?”
“I’m gonna send pictures to you and you’ll forward them to all your members. I’ll explain our plans on the way. We may need up to thirty-five men.”
“What about weapons?”
Florence stayed silent for a while, thinking again about her plan. “If things go accordingly, we won’t need weapons. We may not even sh00t a bullet. But we still need to go with a lot of weapons in case our targets decide to do it the other way.”
“How long is it going to take you to communicate these plans to us?”
“The maximum is six minutes if your men are capable. As I said, we may not use a bullet and even if we do, we’ll have the advantage because we have the numbers on our side.”
Thiago stared at her for a moment and then stepped forward, staring into her eyes intently.
“I don’t take quick jobs in a rush without listening carefully to all the plans. I’m only doing this because of my respect for the strategist.”
“You’re not going to regret this.”
Hutton dropped the phone on the armrest and shut his eyes, hoping to get some more sleep before his phone rings again. But he opened his eyes almost immediately again as he heard footsteps of someone approaching. It was Chanda.
“Two of the four dead people from the explosion have been identified,” Chanda reported.
“Who are the two?”
“Former FOX agent, Chairman Paul Edwards and President Arthur.”
“Hmmm…Haven’t they found more dead bodies yet?”
“No, they’re still searching the scene.”
“What about the two in the hospital? They’re still alive?”
“Yes, they haven’t been confirmed dead yet. But the doctors say that their chances of surviving are pretty low.”
“Let’s hope they survive. We’re going to need people to be the imprisoned scapegoats, especially now that we’re not capturing Carl and Rex alive.”
“They’re getting the best treatment. Let’s hope they survive.”
Hutton nodded slowly and shut his eyes for a moment.
“I’ll go get some sleep now,” Chanda said and turned to leave.
“Is there a woman among the dead four?”
Chanda stopped and turned. “Yes, there is a woman. The body has not been identified.”
Vints Ground Road
“There’s a vehicle coming,” Florence heard the report through her earpiece. She glanced towards Thiago in his hiding spot, giving him the ‘i-told-you-so’ look. Thiago also looked in her direction and their eyes met. He’d also gotten the message in his earpiece.
“Get ready guys,” Florence said into her earpiece and then peeped from the back of the wall where she hid.
From the headlights of the vehicle, she could tell it was a bus. That made her more convinced that it was coming for Carl and Rex. As the bus drew closer, she got to see the logo in front. It was a Mercedez bus.
She waited patiently until it got to the mark. “Now, guys!”
There were two men on the bus, discussing jovially and listening to Mexican music, unaware of the danger that was ahead. They were shocked when they saw a parked bus pull out from the front and block the road.
“What?” the driver exclaimed and looked back quickly with his partner. The distance between them and the bus was much, so there was still enough time to go back. But before he could make any move, another vehicle that was parked by the roadside blocked them from behind.
At the same time, men holding guns began to come out from several angles, leaving the two of them confused. It was usual for vehicles to park by the roadside, so none of the two had suspected any foul play. They had also not noticed men hiding in the shadows.
“Step out now with your hands raised,” a man yelled from outside the bus with a Spanish accent.
The driver quickly put his hands in the air, seeing the number of men outside. He looked at his partner and saw him trying to reach for a gun in the glove compartment.
“That’s the fastest way to get the two of us killed,” the driver whispered with a cautious look at his partner.
“We might eventually get killed anyway,” the partner seemed adamant.
“Don’t!” the driver warned outrightly this time.
His partner stared at him for a moment and then raised his hands.
“Step out,” the man outside the vehicle ordered them.
The men outside opened the door at both sides for them. The men stepped out with their hands raised.
“We don’t have anything on us,” the driver mumbled as he looked at the face of the man giving the orders.
“Shut up!” one of the men hit him in the belly with the butt of his gun. “You only talk when we ask you.”
The driver groaned out in pain but managed to avoid holding his belly. He looked around and counted more than ten men surrounding them. He knew they had no chance of battling all the men as they were all armed.
“Move forward,” the driver was ushered to the front of the vehicle.
Thiago was walking towards them. “Where are you two headed for by this time?”
The driver looked at Thiago’s face for a moment. “We have a client to pick up,” he answered in a stifled voice, still trying to contain the pain in his belly.
“Where are you picking this client up?”
“Over there, at the Vints landing ground,” the driver pointed forward.
“How soon is this client landing?”
“They should be here in twenty minutes at most.”
“Good!” Thiago smiled. “We’re also here to pick this client of yours. We just need your help to do so. If you comply, you two won’t get hurt.”
The men stayed silent.
“You two are going to get back into your bus but our men will be hiding inside the bus. You’re going to drive the bus to the ground like nothing happened and we’ll take it from there. Is that okay?”
The driver took in a deep breath and trembled. His lips felt too heavy to speak.
“Is that okay?” Thiago asked again, this time in a harsher tone.
“Yeah,” the driver mumbled and nodded.
The driver of the car looked at his partner as they saw the jet coming to a halt. He heaved a sigh of frustration, not knowing what to do.
There were four armed men and one woman hidden with the bus with them. Two of them were right behind, holding guns to their sides. The doors at both sides of the bus were left open.
“Can you see them?” the driver heard the lady speak.
“Yes, but…” He tried to answer but Thiago who was behind hit him in the belly with his gun.
“I told you to listen and take instructions from me alone.”
The driver looked back slightly and realized that the lady was talking to someone over a communicator and not him.
“Can you see them?” Florence asked the second time after she got no response.
“We have a clear view of the jet but they’ve yet to step out.”
“Keep watching closely.”
“We’re supposed to drive closer to the jet according to the instruction, can I do that?” the driver asked.
Thiago quickly glanced at Florence who gave the go-ahead nod. “Yes, drive,” he said to the driver.
The driver started the vehicle and drove closer to where the jet stopped.
“Someone is coming out,” Florence heard a man report through the earpiece.
She looked at Thiago and gave him a signal.
“Can you see anyone?” Thiago asked the driver.
“Yes, that’s the man who ordered us,” the driver replied.
“It’s Rex,” another person reported into the earpiece. This time, it was the man who was sitting in the backseat of the vehicle with Florence who reported. “I don’t know why he’s coming out alone,” the man added.
Thiago who could also hear the conversation through his earpiece looked towards Florence. She could tell from his look that he wanted to know if everything was okay.
“He’s coming towards us, I’m supposed to step out to meet him,” the driver said to Thiago.
“Let’s go now,” Florence gave a nod to Thiago.
“Get down and go to him,” Thiago ordered and then signalled at Florence again.
Immediately the driver opened the door to step out, and four out of the five people hidden in the bus stepped out, with guns in their hands.
Rex had stepped out from the airplane first to check out the bus. He had ordered Sheila to wake everyone up while he checked it out.
“Hey man,” he called out as he was approaching the bus. He took a few more steps before he stopped after realizing that something was off.
Before he could think of anything, he saw four people jump out of the bus, pointing their guns towards him.
Rex felt cold shrills run down his spine. The speed of his heartbeat doubled and he struggled to breathe. This was the last thing he expected. He had been sure there was no way Hutton would know about the Vints ground but here were men pointing guns at him.
His feet were glued to the ground as three armed men and a woman approached him.
The driver who had opened the door to step out before remained inside the bus. He couldn’t do anything.
Florence and her men had made sure they disarmed them before getting onto the bus and there was still one man pointing a gun at them in the bus from behind.
“Where are the others?” Florence was the one who spoke as they got to Rex.
Rex was too shocked to say anything. He had a gun behind him but he knew taking it out would be meaningless as he alone couldn’t take down the four people standing so close and pointing their guns around him.
He tried to take a quick scan around the area but he couldn’t do much as he did not want them to suspect him. The only thing he could hope for was that those in the jet would have seen what was going out. He was sure they had a chance of defeating these four people.
“You should stop what you’re thinking man. We have men surrounding this place. Your jet is gonna go up in flames in a minute if you try to fight,” Florence said as if reading his thoughts.
Rex stared at her expressionlessly. His eyes thinned slowly as he fixed them on the lady’s face.
“Look there,” Florence pointed with her two fingers towards a direction. “And there, there, and there too.”
Rex followed her fingers in all the directions she was showing him. She knew he thought she was bluffing and decided to show him some of the angles where her men were hidden. His heartbeat which had doubled before tripled. He had thought they were only four, but after seeing the angles she showed him, he realized there was nothing they could do.
“Cuff him,” Florence ordered one of the men.
Rex did not bother to resist. There was no reason to.
He was cuffed and led back towards the jet.
“Step out now, team B,” Florence ordered as they began to move closer to the jet.
Rex heaved a sigh as he saw the men getting out from the different areas they were hidden and walking towards the jet.
FAST FORWARD — 56 Minutes Later
“What the f**k just happened!” Hutton yelled as he paced about the living room, his phone held tightly in his hand. Kahn and Chanda were also in the living room with him.
He paused for a moment and dialled Florence’s number again but she didn’t answer. A minute ago, he was speaking to Florence Brown on the phone when he heard gunshot sounds. To make it worse, Florence stopped answering at the same time.
“You should have ordered her to ki*ll them right there,” Kahn scoffed. “I always knew transporting them would give us trouble.”
“Sh*t up, man!” Hutton slammed at him. “I was about to ask her to ki*ll and transport their dead bodies instead.”
There was silence in the room for a while but the tension was so strong. Hutton tried to reach Florence twice again but to no avail.
Ten minutes later, his phone beeped. He checked the notification and saw there was a new message from Florence’s number.
“Sh*t!” he cursed under his breath. Carl and Rex must have gotten hold of Florence’s phone, he thought.
To his greatest surprise, he opened the message to see a picture of Rex and Sheila on the floor dead.
Before he could say anything, the phone began to ring.
“Florence?” he answered immediately.
“They tried to cause us troubles,” Florence spoke in an exhausted voice. “I had to do it.”
“I was going to tell you to do so,” Hutton gasped. “What about Carl?”