Florence stood impatiently at the front of the car in the garage, her elbows resting on the bonnet. Henry was sitting alone in the backseat of the jeep while Xavier was at the driver’s side.
Florence let out a breath on seeing Rex finally step out of the apartment and proceed towards them. She stood upright and proceeded at a slow pace toward the others side of the car.
“I hope we’re ready to move now,” Florence questioned him.
“I’m not sure yet,” Rex shook his head and walked past her. He opened the door to the passenger’s side in front and got in. Instead of entering the car, Florence stayed by Rex’s side to talk to him through the window.
“I’ll suggest that we move now,” Florence continued. “Sheila already gave us their location there. We can attack them carefully.”
Rex’s eyes were fixed on the tablet device in his hand, so it took some time for him to reply to her.
“They’re currently in a building that may be housing more than 100 people,” Rex answered. “We’re going close to the place right now, but we won’t attack until Hutton and his men step out of the place. That way, we can be sure we’re avoiding civilian casualties.”
Florence sighed and walked away from his side. She opened the door to the backseat and joined Henry there. “So we’re just going to wait until we get a response from Jonah Chanda? What if he f**ks us up? I don’t trust that guy a single bit.”
“There’s no reason not to trust him,” Henry put in, his eyes focused on Florence. “He’s seeking revenge for the death of his loved one, just like you. He’s not going to turn on us.”
“I really do hope so,” Florence remarked.
“He reached me already, that’s why I stepped out,” Rex stated, catching the full attention of the two at the back. “They’re gonna move out of the building soon, but he’s not sure where they’re going to.”
“He didn’t say what time they’re moving?” Henry asked.
“No,” Rex shook his head. “But he says Hutton mentioned that they have enough time to bath and change their clothes before they moved.”
There was silence for a few seconds as they tried to calculate the most probable time.
“The movement could be in an hour,” Henry stated. “Or even two hours, but I suggest we work with one hour to play it safe.”
“Did he really give you any useful information?” Florence raised her brows and scoffed. “We already knew they were going to move from there. What he could have helped us with were the specified time and their destination.”
“He doesn’t have that information yet,” Rex replied. “He’ll get back to me as soon as he does.”
“I thought you believed he was closer to Hutton. He should have such information already,” Florence added.
“He doesn’t have it yet,” Rex stated again.
“I think we’ve got to be patient,” Henry put in. “We’ve got a good plan, don’t let us mess it up by introducing many uncertainties. Whether or not Chanda gives us the time, we’re going to get there early enough to nab them if we move now.”
“We should go,” Rex said as he pulled on his seatbelt and signaled for Xavier to start the car.
“You’re right though,” Florence remarked after a brief moment of silence in the car. “It’s possible Hutton is not planning to tell his people about their destination to avoid being betrayed.”
Xavier drove out of the yard and got on the road at maximum speed.
Rex inputted the location they were headed for in the map to help Xavier with directions. After that, he picked up his phone and dialed Tanko’s number. “I’ve just sent you the location, let me know when you’re close to the place.”
“That’s Tanko?” Henry asked Rex after the call ended.
“Yeah, it is,” Rex glanced back with a nod.
“What did you do to make that dude so loyal to you?”
Rex chuckled. “I’m sure you know there’s nothing you can do to make people loyal to you, Carl. People choose to be loyal, maybe because of what they see in you or just because they choose to believe in you.”
“Isn’t that the same way your people are loyal to you?” Florence put in.
Henry stared at her, wondering what she meant.
“That girl that came with you to Clemont,” Florence continued. “She refused to leave, even after you asked to. My men had to be on her for her to leave.”
“Samantha…” Henry chuckled and mumbled under his breath. His mind flashed back to his meeting with Florence at Clemont District.
Henry took slow deep breaths in the room where he was kept. His hands and legs were tied so firmly to the chair that he couldn’t even move them, no matter how hard he tried.
His heart was beating so fast that he feared he was going to die, the smell of defeat was now so thick that he could no longer deny it. Except there was a special miracle, there was no getting out of this.
But the defeat was not the only thing making his heart fail. He couldn’t just stop thinking about all the people who he has failed after they put their trust in him. His wife and kid were dead. More than half of his group died in the explosion and now Sheila and Rex were dead too, all for nothing. His life seemed like the good definition of failure.
In a few hours, he too would be dead. And that would be the end of such a miserable life. For the first time in his life, he was so happy that death would be coming for him and he wasn’t going to do anything to fight it this time.
About twenty minutes after he was left alone in the room, Florence walked in with a tablet device in her hand. He noticed there was a small scar on her nose, a result of his headbutt some minutes ago.
She stopped in his front and squatted, looking directly into his eyes. After a moment of deafening silence, she raised her brows and put a finger on the spot where she had the wound. “I’m gonna make sure you pay for this, man.”
Henry stayed silent.
She got to her feet and unlocked the tablet device. “I’ve got a message for you though.”
Henry took in a deep breath. Was Hutton so impatient to taunt him that he couldn’t wait for Florence to bring them together in Venus as they’d agreed? He thought.
A few seconds later, Florence Brown connected to someone on a video call and turned to hold the phone up and squat beside Henry.
Henry was shocked to see who was at the other end of the video.
“Carl, how are you doing?”
Henry narrowed his gaze in disbelief. He stared at Florence for a moment, as if to ask if the video call was real.
“Rex, is that really you?”
“Yes, man. It’s me,” Rex replied with a bright smile.
“Damn! How is this possible?” Henry gasped and then glanced at Florence’s face. “She said you were dead.”
“Yea, we have to keep acting like I’m dead for a few hours,” Rex replied. “I and Sheila are fine here.”
Rex moved his device for the camera to show Sheila. Henry could see her sitting in front of a computer. She had earphones covering her ears.
“Wow!” Henry heaved a deep sigh of relief.
“Carl, Florence is working with us. She’s gonna tell you what to do.”
Henry glanced at Florence again. He couldn’t believe that she was indeed on their side. “Don’t you think I need more explanation?” He asked Rex.
“This isn’t the time, Carl. Just work with her, we have a plan. I’ll see you soon.”
“At least, you have to…” Henry could not complete the statement as Florence ended the video call abruptly.
“That’s enough,” she got up and made a scowl at him. “My hands are hurting from holding the tablet for you.”
“You could have untied me, I would hold it myself,” Henry scoffed.
Florence chuckled. She looked back for a second and dropped the tablet device on the floor. Suddenly, she turned and landed a heavy blow on Henry’s face, making him yell out in pain and crash to the ground.
“Oh, damn it! What the hell was that for?” Henry yelled.
Florence laughed in satisfaction while rubbing her knuckles. She then proceeded to pull him up with the chair.
“I said you were going to pay for hitting my face, but I didn’t tell you when,” she replied with a devilish smile.
“F**k you!” Henry growled. He was feeling so much pain in his face but couldn’t touch it as his hands were tied. “When the f**k are you going to untie me?”
“Shh…” Florence placed a finger on her lips and bent forward, staring into his eyes. “Some of the men here are still for the Red Wolves. They don’t know what I’m up to. We have to do away with them before the ropes can go off.”
“Okay…” Henry gasped. “At least, you gotta let me know what the plan is.”
** Somewhere outside Venus **
Hutton walked back into the general room thirty minutes after the last time he was there. He was dressed in a new suit now and his hair had been styled differently. Some of the other men in the room had also taken their baths, including Chanda. Most of them did not have other clothes to wear, so they put on the same clothes they had on before.
“Gentlemen, we’ll be on our way to the pickup location in the next thirty minutes. Please, wrap up whatever you’re doing before then. While all of us are going to the same pick-up spot, not every one of us will be heading to the same location,” Hutton said before walking out again.
He walked into a room where Elvis Kahn was. Two men who had helped Kahn dress up were also in the room.
“I can see you’re ready,” Hutton remarked on seeing Kahn.
Kahn nodded in response.
“What about the men I asked you to call?”
“I’ve called them and they’re ready. They’re waiting for your instructions.”
“Good,” Hutton remarked and turned towards the exit door.
“I don’t understand why you need them though,” Kahn put in before Hutton could leave. “Are you anticipating any problem?”
Hutton turned back and walked closer to Kahn. He looked at the two men in the room with them and signaled for them to excuse them. He waited until they were out before he continued to talk.
“It appears that Florence Brown wasn’t the only person that was convinced to join the other side.”
“What do you mean?” Kahn squinted at him.
Hutton stopped and dragged a chair to sit in front of Kahn. “I’m keeping my eyes on Chanda. I think he’s flipping on us.”
“What the heck!” Kahn was flabbergasted. “Why would Chanda do that? What could they have on him?”
“Well, that shouldn’t be a mystery to us like Florence Brown’s was. Maybe they told him the truth about his wife and he’s decided to revenge it by messing us up.”
There was silence for a few seconds.
“What are we going to do about it?”
“Well… For now, everything I’ve said are mere speculations. Once we prove it, I’ll know what to do.”
“They’re moving in the next thirty minutes,” Rex announced to the others in the car as soon as he read the text.
“Was that from Chanda?” Florence asked.
Rex nodded affirmatively.
“He still doesn’t know where they’re moving to?” Henry questioned.
“Yes, he doesn’t.”
“We should get there before thirty minutes right?” Florence asked.
“Yeah, we will,” Rex replied.
“What about our backup? Will they be there too?” Florence asked.
“No, but we’ve got Sheila tracking Chanda’s location. So, she’s gonna help us with directions,” Rex replied.
15 minutes later
They were still on their way toward the location when another message entered Rex’s phone. He clicked it open immediately. It was from Chanda.
I’m moving already with Hutton and Kahn. It appears that the 30 minutes was for our other men. I’ve still got no idea about the destination.
“sh*t!” Rex cursed after reading the message. “Hutton is moving already.”
“It’s just fifteen minutes,” Henry remarked after checking the time.
“According to the message, the thirty minutes was for the other men. Hutton, Kahn, and Chanda are on the move already,” Rex answered.
“Argh…” Florence scoffed. “We should have known Hutton will make that kind of move. He never tells people the whole plan.”
“But this doesn’t change anything right? We just need to follow Chanda to get them,” Henry remarked.
“I’m gonna ask Sheila to send me his location details right away,” Rex said and unlocked his phone. Before he could dial, a call came in. “Oh! She’s calling already,” He announced before answering and putting the phone on loudspeaker.
“Chanda is on the move already, did he tell you?”
“He did, I was about to call you.”
“Okay, I’m sending you the location details to follow them right now.”
“Thank you,” Rex replied. “You should also send it to Tanko.”
FLASHBACK – Ten minutes ago
Chanda looked up to see Hutton back into the living room again, just five minutes after he left. He returned with one of their men.
The other six men kept their eyes on Hutton, just like Chanda.
“As I said a few minutes ago, we’ll be leaving here in twenty-five minutes. Right now, I’ll like us to do something important to guarantee our safety. I’ll like all of us to submit all electronic devices right here,” Hutton paused and pointed to a cloth bag held by the man he came with. The guy immediately began to walk around, from one person to the other. “Please put in your phones, wristwatches, and every other device that can be used to track us.”
Chanda’s jaw dropped in shock at the new directive. He seemed frozen on the sofa for a moment as he couldn’t think of what to say or do until the man gathering the devices got to him. Chanda gave Hutton a questioning look as if to ask if he was also expected to drop his devices.
“Please, submit your devices, Mr. Chanda. Everyone is expected to,” Hutton replied, understanding what his look meant.
Reluctantly, Chanda took off his wristwatch and dropped it with his phone into the bag. It took the man a total of two minutes to gather all devices.
“Thank you for complying, guys. Our devices will not be traveling with us today, for safety purposes. But they’ll get to us two days after we arrive at our destination.”
Chanda became restless instantly. Not gaining access to his device could destroy everything he had planned with Rex. His hands and lips trembled in fear, but he managed to hide it as he thought of what to say.
Hutton turned to leave with the other man, but Chanda’s sudden outburst stopped him.
“Wait!” Chanda yelled and jumped up to his feet.
Hutton turned and squinted at him.
“I can’t afford to be without my phone,” Chanda said as he approached Hutton. Then his voice went lower to speak to Hutton only. “You know I’ve got my family to take care of.”
Hutton took in a deep breath. “Okay, you should take the time to think about all you want to say and all the instructions you have to give right now. I’ll give you one last chance to talk to them before we leave. You’ve gotta think about it well, because you only get one chance.”
With that, Hutton turned and walked out of the living room.
Chanda stood dumbfounded for some minutes. There was no way he would be able to send a message to Rex without his phone. He wasn’t sure Hutton would give him the luxury of using his phone in private anymore.
A thought came to his mind while he was still standing there. He peeped through the exit to see where Hutton and the man with the devices were heading for. He stepped further in through the entrance and noticed that they both got into one of the previously unoccupied rooms. He watched for a while and quickly stepped back into hiding when he noticed that the door opened again.
He stayed behind the wall for a while, contemplating what to do. After waiting for a while and not seeing Hutton and the other guy return, he peeped again. He realized that they must have returned to the same room where Kahn was, which meant they left the phones in the other unoccupied room.
Again, he hid behind the wall and took in slow deep breaths, thinking about what to do. He suddenly realized he was still in the living room and opened his eyes to see the men there staring at him.
He scoffed and ignored them. It wasn’t that anything happening between him and Hutton was their business anyway.
After a few more seconds of thinking, he proceeded further in, toward the room. He stopped for a moment and moved closer to the door of the room where Kahn was. He placed his ear close to the door, to confirm if they were really in. He stepped away after hearing some voices and proceeded toward the room where the phones were kept. Again, he placed his ear close to the door to listen. He heard nothing from the room.
Slowly, he turned the knob and pushed the door gently in. There was no one in the room as he thought. he proceeded in and quickly located where the bag was kept on the table.
Within a few seconds, he was able to locate his phone in the bag and he took it out. He quickly opened the text messaging app and was about to start typing when the door flung open.
Chanda froze in shock as he saw Hutton standing at the door with the henchman behind him. He noticed that there was a pistol in front of Hutton’s trousers now.
“What are you doing here?” Hutton questioned.
“Ermm, I…” Chanda stammered, having no explanation to make. He quickly dropped the phone back into the bag.
“Take it out,” Hutton ordered.
Chanda shook his head in fear, partially in fear and in regret. He knew there was nothing he could do to convince Hutton that he wasn’t betraying him now.
“Take it out, now!” Hutton thundered.
Chanda quickly picked the phone out of the bag again.
“Who were you trying to reach?”
“The contract man I asked to get my kids out of Zambia,” Chanda said, even though he didn’t think Hutton will believe him.
Hutton chuckled. He looked towards the man beside him and collected the tablet device.
“We made contact with your two kids in Zambia. They confirmed that you haven’t spoken to them since morning,” Hutton replied. “There is no contractman, Chanda.”
Chanda let out a sigh. He was speechless.
“You gotta talk man,” Hutton continued. “Or you’re going to be punished with the death of your kids.”
“No…” Chanda trembled in fear. What he feared the most was what Hutton was threatening him with.
“Who are you trying to contact?” Hutton remained calm.
Chanda still managed to stop himself from letting out the truth.
Hutton took out his phone and dialed a number. “Are you with them?”
“Yes,” someone replied from the other end.
“Can I hear their voice?” Hutton requested.
“Yeah, just a minute.”
Thirty seconds later, they could hear the man at the other end asking some questions. Two people replied to the man’s question. Chanda recognized them as his children.
“Thank you,” Hutton replied and ended the call.
“Your kids can go down in the next second if I give the command. Will you tell me who you’ve been contacting now?”
Chanda remained silent, which infuriated Hutton. He dialed the number on his phone again and the call was answered almost immediately.
“ki*ll the younger one…”
“No, stop!” Chanda yelled. “I was contacting Rex Morris.”
“Hold it for now,” Hutton replied to the call receiver and ended the call. He moved closer to Chanda and stopped right in front. He chuckled hard and shook his head in disbelief. It was so difficult to accept that Chanda was betraying them. “What the f**k did Rex Morris tell you?”
“You killed my wife, Hutton…”
“So?” Hutton cut him short. “Your wife was going to ki*ll you for money if I didn’t take her out first. I chose you because I thought you were more of an asset to me.”
Chanda did not believe Hutton’s words but he knew there was no need to argue.
“Well, it’s good that you’re in contact with Rex Morris,” Hutton chuckled again and stepped back. “You’re gonna help us take him down faster.”
Chanda was unsure of what Hutton meant.
After a few more seconds of thinking, Hutton continued. “You’re gonna send a message to Rex for us. You can choose to do it or let us ki*ll your kids.”
**5 Minutes Later**
Chanda had now been tied to a chair and gagged. Hutton was on a call, giving instructions to some of his men at a different location.
“The explosive devices should take them all out once they get into the building,” Hutton explained. “But if anyone survives by miracle, you guys have to be on standby to finish them off immediately. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, we’re ready,” the voice on the other end replied.
“Good,” Hutton remarked before ending the call.
He picked up the bag on the table and handed it to the man beside him.
“Head on to the location now, you’ll have another car following you.”
To be continued.