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Chapter 50

Anthony watched as Anna struggled to hold herself together. Their fight earlier certainly hadn’t helped, but there was a deeper problem. It appeared that her proximity to him partially dressed was causing a near panic attack, but for the sake of the mission she had to get out of the room and initiate the next part of the plan. Their own Protocol Seven identities were in use, and Anthony tried to figure a way to get Anna out of the room before she blew the whole operation. To her credit though, it seemed that the three men in the room with them hadn’t picked up on her discomfort. They were more focussed on the main perceived threat in the room; Anthony himself.

Anna was only barely holding herself together. Anthony had no idea how much he had hurt her. She was shy, yes, but that didn’t mean she was any less of a ninja. She forced her mind back to what was going on in front of her. The three men had clearly written her off – rather stupidly – as not being a threat. That was the plan. Anthony, however, stood shamelessly by the front door, assessing the intruders. Anna placed her hand in the middle of his back, the fabric of his shirt warm from his skin, and then took a step away from him. Now was not the time for a panic attack.

Anthony seemed to sense her distress, and began to button up his shirt. There was no need to make things any worse between them. The men watched as he did up the bottom three buttons, not saying anything. Then he turned back to her, placing his hand gently on her cheek. Anna’s blue eyes opened wide at the touch. “Go back upstairs, babe. I will sort this out.”

Anna nodded mutely and vanished back up the stairs to Shyla’s bedroom. Anthony watched her go, lamenting that he had hurt hr in the first place.

This part of the plan wasn’t theirs, but Henry’s. The idea was for Anthony to distract Vinnie and his men long enough for the other ninjas to remove some from the equation before they caught on to the scam. But Anthony wasn’t too sure he could distract them long enough.

However, he had no more time for too much speculation, because Vinnie was scowling at the blonde man to his left. Anthony turned to face the men, straightening his shirt. He didn’t bother with the rest of the buttons. “What can I help you with?”

Vinnie raised an eyebrow, and quickly introduced himself and his two companions. “We were actually looking for someone; Shyla Evans. Is she here?”

Anthony shook his head. “Split town a week ago. Just gave us the keys and said she wasn’t coming back.”

Vinnie raised an eyebrow, clearly not expecting that answer. “You know her?”

Anthony shrugged. “An acquaintance from high school. She just gave us the keys, and told us to feed the cat twice a day.”

Vinnie looked at the man to his right again, before looking back at Anthony. “Do you know where she went?”

Anthony did up one more button. “She said something about California. San Francisco, I think. That’s all I heard before she drove off.”

While Anthony stalled the men downstairs, Anna climbed out of the upstairs window. She pulled her mask on. The earpiece crackled, and a familiar male voice filled her ear. Shaun. “Silent, online.”

Anna crouched on the branch. “Affirmative. Give me stats here.”

A second voice crackled in her ear. Henry. “Fifteen armed men located. We are go. Let’s get our birdie out of the nest.”

In the living room of Shaun’s house, he glanced at the screen in front of him, and then adjusted the headset he wore to keep in contact with the ninjas. The screen was connected to the camera above his front door, and looked right at Shyla’s house. Essie came into the room behind him, stronger now that she was eating regular meals again. It would take a while for her to get back to her ideal weight, but at least she was strong enough to go with him when he needed to leave.

That was the plan, after all. The ninjas would disable the men who had come for Shyla and Essie, Anna would immobilise two of the three SUVs, and Shaun would drive away with Essie to a safe house not far out of Rutherford. This was because, until that morning, Essie had been in no shape to be moved. Shaun bent forwards and addressed the mike in front of him. “Silent, Polka, Dark, you are go. Ginger, hang back, you have three on your six. Green, keep going. Monitoring all frequencies.”

Inside, Anthony nodded his head ever so slightly, the small earpiece concealed in his ear. This part of the plan he and Justin had designed, and it was more comfortable than the current situation he was in. All he could hope was that it would all go as planned. Personally, he would have preferred to be in Shaun’s position, but they needed a trained man on the inside.

Anna silently thanked Anthony’s degree in Advanced International Logistics, because he had worked on a flawless attack plan with Justin, making it possible to take down Liborio Fragale from the inside. She dropped from the upstairs window, pulling a wrench from her pocket as she moved.

As Anna hit the ground, Henry and Steven moved around the side of the house. The first two takedowns were simple, and Steven dropped to the ground to check the man he had taken down. He was well armed, and had an earpiece. “Home, are these men in contact with their superior?”

Shaun’s voice crackled in his ear about ten seconds later. “You need to move quickly, Silent. They’re in contact with the men inside. Green, watch your six.”

Anna ran to the first SUV, and crawled underneath. She disconnected the fuel pipe, and rolled out of the way as the diesel began to pour out onto the tarmac next to her head. She quickly crawled to the second SUV, and did the same thing. This time, the wrench hooked onto the oil pickup tube, pulling it from the housing and spilling oil onto her hair as she rolled out of the way of the rushing diesel. Anna swore, and ended up in a puddle of spreading oil and diesel. The foul smelling liquid soaked her shirt, while the oil turned her hair grey. Anna cursed again.

“Watch your language, Silent.”

Anna grinned at Shaun’s acerbic tone, and crawled back out. As she hit the sidewalk, a shape moved to her right. The takedown was swift, and Anna grabbed the man’s assault rifle and cracked him on the back of the skull with it.

Shyla, Steven and Henry had taken down around nine of the men, and including the one Anna had disabled, that left five men still on the street. Then Shaun alerted them to a problem. Something serious had happened inside.

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