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Chapter 33

As they were ironing out the final details for their extraction plan, Henry’s cell phone rang. He answered it, and motioned for everybody else to be quiet. “Shyla,” he said. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m okay.” Shyla’s voice was muffled. “Where are you?”

Henry put the phone onto speaker, and placed it in the middle of the circle. “I’m at the ninja school. We’re planning to get you out.”

Shyla nodded on her end. “I’m in a cell somewhere on the rear of a large stone building, probably an old house. I can’t see any roads, but I was in the trunk long enough to be in Ronaldton.”

Henry looked over at Master Wong. The master leant forwards. “Shyla, is there anything else you can tell us?”

Henry’s blood ran cold at Shyla’s next words. “I’m not alone.”

Master Wong looked at Shaun. “Who is with you, Shyla?”

There was some scuffling in the background. Shyla returned on the line. “I’m going to have to call you back. The guards are going to be here any minute.”

Master Wong looked at Henry as soon as the call cut. “Any idea who is with her?”

Henry shook his head. “The only possibility is that girl you mentioned when we first all got together.”

Justin looked at Master Wong. “Girl?”

The master explained the situation quickly, while they waited for the phone to ring again.

Shyla slid the phone closed and pushed it up into the frame of the bed. Essie looked her up and down, taking in her loose black pants and grubby black shirt at a glance. “Who’s Henry?” she asked.

“My boyfriend,” Shyla mumbled sheepishly.

Essie stood up and moved to next to Shyla. “I’m sorry you’re in this mess.” Essie mumbled.

“The important thing is getting you out.” Shyla declared. “We need to work out how to get those bars out, and we need to help the guys on the other side with any information we can.”

Essie shook her head. “I’ve been trying to get those bars out for weeks. You need super strong nails to hope to achieve anything.” She held up her hands and showed Shyla her shredded fingernails. Dried blood was caked on her fingertips.

Shyla inclined he head towards the corner where her sheathed knife was stashed. “Would that help?” she asked with a grin.

Essie smiled. “Perfect.”

Just then, the door hit the inside wall with a bang. Two men entered, and Shyla’s protective instinct took over. She positioned herself between Essie and the two men, and kept a wary eye on their positions. The men looked her over, and then walked towards them. “Boss wants me to check you for weapons,” he said indifferently. “We don’t want you breaking out.”

Shyla held her arms out to the side, and the guard roughly patted her down. “She’s clean.” He said to the man by the door. “I don’t think she’s what they’re looking for.”

The man at the door looked at Essie, and then back at Shyla. “Joe doesn’t pay you to have an opinion. He will decide.”

The men left, still arguing, and pulled the door closed behind them. “Shyla,” said Essie. “I think we should call your friends back. If they can get us out soon, then we don’t need to worry about being broken by them.”

Shyla nodded. After two more minutes, she redialled Henry’s number and put the phone to her ear.

The call was answered quickly, and Shyla could hear voices in the background. “Master,” she said. “I’m here with Esther Jones. She was taken,” Shyla looked over at Essie, “four weeks and two days ago.”

At the ninja school, Master Wong looked over at Justin. “It’s her. Shyla, is there any way you can get out undetected?”

Shyla looked at Essie, who shook her head. “Negative, we are locked up in here tight.”

Shyla heard mumbled voices in the background. After a moment, another voice came on the line. “Shyla, we are going to run interference on Liborio Fragale to keep them from interrogating you. If anything goes wrong, you need to let us know so we can run a mass extraction on you both.”

Shyla looked at Essie. “I think that’s a good plan Justin, but you need to keep them away from us for at least two days. I don’t know if they will be able to go more than that without getting suspicious.”

Master Wong sat forwards. “Shyla, make sure you use Protocol Seven when in their custody.”

“I will, Master Wong.”

The master signalled the end of the call, and Shyla slid the phone back where they had hidden it. She turned to Essie. “What did these guys do to you?”

Essie sat on the floor under the window and stretched out her legs. Shyla sat next to her, but curled her legs up to her chest. “They took me to a room, asked me questions,” replied Essie. “But I don’t know what they thought I knew, so one of them hit me.” Her fingertips brushed the bruise under her left eye.

Shyla rested her head against the wall. “Why aren’t your parents looking for you? You’ve been missing a month and two days. Surely somebody is looking.”

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