“What did he say?” Samantha asked for the umpteenth time while she continued driving down the road.
Henry was still baffled by Dave’s report. His elbow was placed by the window and his chin rested on his palm as he stared blankly outside.
Samantha could no longer hold his silence and took a hand off the steering to nudge him. “You need to tell me what happened.”
Henry looked at her and gasped. He wasn’t sure of what to say. He looked out again without saying anything.
“Do I need to stop driving for us to have this conversation?” Samantha threatened, but Henry did not look bothered.
She eventually pulled up by the side of the road and turned to him. Instead of saying anything to her, he opened the door and stepped out of the car.
“What the f**k are you doing?” Samantha took out the car keys and also stepped out of the car from the other end.
She met Henry on the way, turning to the driver’s side.
“You need to return now, Sam. Let me have the keys,” Henry demanded.
“What the f**k are you talking about?” Samantha squinted at him, holding on to the keys tightly. “You’ve got to tell me what Dave told you first.”
“We don’t have time for that, Sam. Just go back and let me do this alone,” Henry said and tried to take the key from her but she resisted.
She punched him in the chest and stepped back as he tried to take off the key from her. “Why the f**k do you act like a dictator sometimes, always giving commands and expecting everyone to follow your orders without questions?”
“Please, let me have the keys, Sam. I’m doing this to keep you safe.”
With her hand hidden at her back, she leaned on the car. “I’m not following your orders, Henry. This is not the FOX and I’m not your junior officer. You told us at the start of this that we were partners. Don’t partners take decisions together?”
“This is not the time for this, Sam,” Henry gasped and took a glance at his wristwatch. “We are running out of time.”
“Then, tell me what you need to tell me.”
Henry eventually gave in. “The tracker led Dave and Maria to a morgue.”
“I don’t know,” Henry shook his head. “But whatever the reason is, we can no longer proceed together.”
“Why, how does that change anything?”
“It changes everything, Sam. I thought the tracker would lead us to somewhere we could hit the Red Wolves, but it didn’t. If I let you go with me, I’ll be putting your life in danger for no reason. We don’t have the numbers to go against them and we don’t have any strategy.”
“So, who’s gonna take Sheila back after the exchange?”
“That’s it, I don’t even know if the exchange will take place because my plans to force it to take place have fallen. If it doesn’t take place, Florence Brown is going to hold the two of us captive too. But if she sticks to her word and it takes place, Sheila can drive out of the place by herself.”
Samantha went quiet to think about it for a moment.
“Hand me the keys now, Sam,” Henry requested again, opening his palm. “Now, Sam!”
Samantha reluctantly dropped the keys in his palm.
“Please, go back now,” Henry said as he hurried into the driver’s side.
Samantha stood still and watched him silently. He drove off, leaving her covered in dust.
FOX Corporation, EPA Hill
“Good morning, Agents,” Hutton greeted as he walked into the gathering of the senior FOX agents from different departments. He was flanked by two of his men, who were not FOX officials. “Yesterday, I ordered for all cases to be put pending because we need all hands on deck to counter these terrorists that are trying to destroy our nation. Our efforts yesterday have been yielding some results. I can confirm to you that our team working with the Spanish mercenaries have gunned down some of the terrorist leaders earlier today.”
He paused to allow the men to clap.
“But the war has not ended yet,” he continued. “We need to wipe them out completely. When the President assigned the role of the Chairman to me, I promised we were going to wipe them out in days and I intend to keep that promise. That’s why we’re going in aggressively, and we will continue today. Everyone is part of this fight, I’m included. I won’t be sitting in the office when you all are on the battleground. So, we will provide you with all the information you need and every one of us have to deliver successfully.”
Different thoughts kept running through Henry’s mind as he continued down the road. He just didn’t understand how the tracker led Dave to a morgue.
Could it be that Sarah and Kellar died in that explosion? For some reason, the thought made him feel horrible. He had somehow felt better when he thought Sarah was the mole who set up the explosion, so she would have left with Kellar before it went off. But now, he wasn’t so certain anymore.
Rex had mentioned that Sarah was working with the Red Wolves and that was why he was after her. That he believed, but it just didn’t make sense that the Red Wolves would ki*ll her in the explosion if she worked with them. Or maybe they had used her, in their usual fashion. Maybe Sarah had some dirty secrets that Hutton somehow got to find out and decided to exploit. That was the same strategy Hutton had used to get several people in top positions to do his work.
But he couldn’t think of anything that Sarah could be hiding, so it made no sense. And why would Sarah decide to work for a terrorist group instead of owning up to him? He would have forgiven her, no matter what secret she had.
Whatever was going to happen, Henry wanted the opportunity to hear the truth. Even if Florence Brown decided to ki*ll him, he hoped it would be after Rex was allowed to tell him the truth about his wife. He just badly wanted to know if the wife he got into this war for was the one who betrayed him from the beginning. It would mean everything was unnecessary from the start.
After a few seconds, his thoughts drifted to Lawrence and Florence Brown. He remembered how Lawrence was killed and also how he and Rex. He also remembered how he and Rex found out Florence knew about her brother’s death, but they’d never thought there would be any reason to revisit it.
“You’re taking too much time in there,” a man barked at Lawrence from outside the toilet where he sat, typing a message on his phone.
“I’m almost done,” he squealed and quickly rushed up his message after being able to copy the location coordinates. He clicked on send and hid the phone behind the WC tank. He pushed the flush button and rinsed his hands with water before stepping out.
Two tough-looking guys were standing outside the toilet. They were staring sternly at his face as he stepped out. One of the men peeped in to see if there was anything suspicious.
“Is there anything else you want to say?” one of them asked him.
Lawrence looked undecided for a second and then quickly nodded. “Uhmmn… Would you allow me to speak to Mr. Jonah?”
“I’ve told you before that Mr. Jonah is busy,” the man replied in a thunderous voice. “Why not tell us whatever you need to tell him and I’ll relay your message to him?”
Lawrence shook his head frantically. “Don’t bother, let’s go,” he added and tried to proceed out of the place.
One of the men dragged him back and pushed him to the wall.
“Remember what we told you?” The man stared straight into his eyes coldly. Lawrence shook his head in fear. “If anyone finds out what you saw, you’ll be dead.”
Lawrence shook his head again. “I didn’t see anything,” he stammered.
“Good,” the man remarked before letting him go.
Lawrence proceeded straight to the cockpit, trying to catch his breath. He regretted sniffing around.
An hour before a trip, he had gotten suspicious of a particular set of goods he was to deliver to Bethanna. He decided to check when no one was watching, only to find out some of the bags contained packs of cocaine while a few had guns in them.
It was in the act that he was caught by the two men. They were supposed to be security guards of the company, so he tried to report his findings to them but was surprised to find out they already knew about it. Then, he found out that it wasn’t his first time transporting hard drugs and weapons to different locations. It was only his first time finding out.
The discovery raffled him and he asked to opt out but the men threatened him with death. There was no opting out after he had found out their secret. From then until the flight, the men kept their eyes on him, making it impossible for him to escape or talk to his sister about it. He had to use the toilet to send her a mail.
“We’re moving in six minutes, right?” the man following behind asked him.
“Yes,” he nodded without looking back.
“I’m going to be sitting with you in the cockpit and I’m not going to give you any problems. Make sure you stay relaxed,” the man added. “Did you hear me?” he added when he got no response from Lawrence.
“Yes, I’ll be relaxed as much as possible.”
Within two weeks of working, Lawrence had made seven trips. He had never had a reason to check what was in the bags they were delivering and it always went smoothly. That day, it was different, he knew he was delivering something illegal and it made him feel very uncomfortable.
He flew from El Deols as he was ordered to and landed on Vints Ground. This time, the merchants were dealing with a new client whom they had never met with. Unknowingly, the clients were FOX agents, Carl and Rex.
During their first battle against the Red Wolves, Carl and Rex dug deep to discover the ways through which the Red Wolves financed their activities. They linked the Zambian businessman, Jonah, to the Red Wolves. They began to investigate him and discovered how he recruited people to make illegal deals for him.
It happened that Lawrence Brown was Jonah’s recruit then, so they watched how Jonah tempted Lawrence with his wealth and recruited him into the company. Jonah never visited locations where the real illegal activities were carried out, so the FOX agents had to track those locations through Lawrence whom they’d seen with Jonah several times.
After establishing their findings, they set up new identities and used the name of a Bethannian drug cartel to contact the drug-pushing sect of the company. They worked diligently to ensure that Lawrence would be the pilot to fly the plane for the delivery and gave them the Vints ground as the landing and meeting point.
As planned, the men from the logistics company met with their “clients” on the Vints ground. Rex and Carl’s aim was to arrest the men, especially Lawrence, whom they could link to Jonah. That would give them enough substance to arrest the man, Jonah.
Unfortunately, it was not to happen. During the exchange, Lawrence was left inside the plane while the other five men on the flight stepped out to meet with the clients. One of them had gone back in to take another box when he caught Lawrence in the plane, trying to send a new message to his sister.
The guy took out Lawrence to report to the others. One of them lost his patience immediately and fired a bullet into Lawrence’s head, making it impossible for the FOX to arrest him as they planned to. Four of the men died in the face-off, after discovering that the business was a setup by the FOX. Only one was arrested, but the FOX failed to find enough connection to Jonah, the main target.
Henry took in a deep breath as he approached the Clemont City gate. He noticed that there were guards at the gate and took out his phone to call his last dialled number. His call was answered almost instantly.
“I’m at the gate,” he said briefly.
“They’ll let you in,” Florence replied. “I’ll be waiting for you at the abandoned police station.”
Henry ended the call and continued towards the gate. He was surprised as the men opened the gate and let him pass through without questions.
It took him another ten minutes to get to the abandoned police station. From afar, he could see some men standing on the verandah of the building. There were also some cars parked around the building. He parked and picked up his phone to dial the number again.
“I’m there,” he said immediately after the call was answered.
“I can’t see you inside,” Florence Brown replied.
“I’m in the car.”
“You have to come into the building.”
“I’m staying here until I see Sheila Jack walking towards this car,” Henry replied.
It took a few seconds for Florence Brown to reply. “The exchange will be on my terms.”
“Nah, if you really want me, then you’ve gotta let her go first,” Henry insisted. “Send her out now and tell her to come to where my car is parked. As soon as she’s ten metres close to the car, I’ll step out and start walking towards you. I’m going to stop halfway and watch her get into the car and drive off before I come in there to meet you.”
“Why should I believe that you won’t try to act smart?” Florence asked.
“I’ve come this far, I ain’t about to jeopardize everything.”
“Who knows? Maybe you still think you have a chance to save everyone.”
“Ma’am, send her out.”
“Just stay on this call and I’ll get you to step out of that car in one minute,” Florence replied.
There was an arrogance about her voice that made Henry suspicious. He looked around quickly and there was no one coming close to him from any direction. The car he was sitting in was bulletproofed, so he was confident that they couldn’t get him by shooting from afar.
A few seconds after, he began to hear the sounds of a vehicle speeding down from the route he had come from. He looked back quickly and took out his two pistols.
The vehicle sped past him and stepped in the middle spot between his car and the abandoned police building. Henry looked around again and squinted at the car, wondering what was going on. He heard sounds from the phone and quickly picked it up from his knee to listen.
“Ready to see what I’ve got for you?” Florence Brown asked.
“What the f**k are you doing?” Henry asked.
The doors to the car in the middle opened up and some men stepped out. The last man brought out Samantha with him, pointing a gun to her head.
“Sh*t!” Henry cursed under his breath.
“You’re coming in now or not?” Florence asked.
“Tell your men to let her go,” Henry replied.
“Step out first and drop your weapons.”
Henry had no choice but to do what he was told. He stepped out of the vehicle and walked to the front. He took out all the guns around him and placed them on the floor, leaving only one at his back.
“Tell them to let her go and I’ll be walking towards you,” Henry said into the phone.
“Start walking and they’ll let her go,” Florence replied.
He took the first two steps and stopped to watch. The man whose hand was around Samantha’s neck let her go and instructed her to proceed towards the car.
Henry advanced towards the men and Samantha to the car. He still held the phone to his ear.
His eyes were fixed on Samantha’s steps and he wished she could get into the car faster. He thought of what he could do to the four men behind her but they could ki*ll her before he even took out the gun behind him.
“My men are watching you, Carl. If you try anything smart, they’ll sh00t at her,” Florence Brown said as if she could read his thoughts.
They continued watching each other and stopped when they got to a line. Henry took the phone farther from his mouth slightly.
“Get into the car and drive away fast,” he said to Samantha.
“We’ll come for you, I promise. I’ll get back to the rest and we’ll come for you,” Samantha gasped.
The men at the back all pointed their guns at them in suspicion.
Henry took the phone close to his ear again. “I’m coming, Florence.”
“Move fast, you can’t be talking to her.”
Henry proceeded further and Samantha also advanced to the car. He stopped when he was close to the men and looked back to ensure Samantha got into the car. He looked forward again to see that the men had already surrounded him. They grabbed him and took out the last pistol from his back.
Samantha started the car engine and looked up to see Henry looking in her direction without struggling as the men rough-handled him.
Was that the end of it all? She asked herself, tears forming in her eyes and she turned the car to drive away. She looked back and saw him looking toward her as they whisked him away.
Henry met Florence Brown sitting in the first room in the building when he got in. She had two men flanking her and four others behind her. She got up after he stepped in and approached him.
“I’ve been waiting for this day, man. And now, you’re right here,” she laughed, staring him devilishly in the eyes.
“Where’s Sheila and Rex?” Henry asked her, looking unfazed.
She chuckled. “They’re not here.”
“That wasn’t our agreement.”
“Who says I must keep an agreement with you?”
Henry went silent for a moment and took in a deep breath. “Why are you doing this? You were a soldier.”
“It started when you and your men killed an innocent man.”
“We didn’t ki*ll your brother…”
“Hold it, man…” Florence interrupted him. “Your friend told me the story already. I don’t need to hear it from you too.”
“Where are they?” Henry asked again. “Where’s Sheila and Rex?”
“They’re dead,” Florence stated.
Henry gathered his eyebrows together.
“Your man tried to play the hero,” Florence shrugged. “And we had to do what we had to do.”
“What?” Henry could not believe his ears. He stepped forward and headbutted her in anger, making her crash to the ground. He followed and tried to punch her on the ground, but the men held him back.
“Ah, sh*t!” Florence got up groaning and rubbing her bleeding nose. “Tie him up guys,” she ordered as she turned back to take her phone from Xavier.
She dialled Hutton on her phone and turned to watch as the men tied Henry.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise. We’re bringing only Carl,” she said into the phone. “He got smart enough to let us release Samantha.”
To be continued