Shyla was just stepping back into the shadow of the neighbour’s tree when she spotted something that made her blood run cold. Anthony, unmasked, was standing with his hands behind his head in front of her house. The last man she had dispatched had yelled out a warning. This was the result. “I’m sorry, Green.” Shyla knew Anthony could hear her apology.
Shaun’s voice crackled in her ear again. “Dark, Polka, Silent, Ginger. We need to get the birdie out of here. Green, we have your back.”
Before anybody could respond to Shaun, Vinnie pointed his gun at Anthony. The remaining three men who hadn’t been disabled by the ninjas were coming forward. Vinnie turned to face the street. “Ninjas! We know you’re out there! Step forward or he dies.”
Anna’s voice crackled into their ears. “Home, the back SUV is still functional. I’ll distract while you run.”
Shyla watched Anthony freeze, and then his hand shifted to his ear. “Stand down. Repeat, stand down. Do not engage.”
Vinnie jabbed Anthony in the ribs with the muzzle of his gun hard enough to leave a bruise. “Get your ninjas to step into the light of that lamp, and we won’t kill them. If they try anything, you die first.”
Anna stepped forward first, and raised her hands. “I’m sorry, Anthony.” Her murmur was barely audible, but Anthony’s slight responding nod was enough. Ninjas never left anybody behind. And Essie and Shaun had the ninjas’ loyalty.
Steven was next, and Shyla watched him place his knife on the sidewalk. “I’m not leaving you, Ant.”
As Henry took his first step forwards, Shyla heard Shaun’s front door open. She swore internally, and began to move around to her house. She had to move quietly, and was soon on her roof. The scene in front of her was terrible to see. Anybody else might have thought it touching, that the ninjas would sacrifice their own lives for a friend. But Shyla knew those ninjas would not hesitate to die for Anthony.
Three strong ninjas had been forced to surrender to save the life of one of their own. This was the reality of their lives, but Shyla had a plan. She just needed to get her timing right. Nobody was going to die tonight.
Anthony watched as three ninjas stepped into the circle of light. Three? His heart stuttered. There should be four. Where is the fourth?
Anthony could recognise Steven easily, since a part of that faded polka dot bandana was sticking out of his mask. The other male ninja was Henry. That meant it was either Anna or Shyla who was missing. Then his earpiece crackled. “This is Home. The birdie is on the move. We need a diversion.”
Shyla’s voice came through. She was whispering. “Home, keep low. This might just get messy.”
Vinnie hadn’t moved, unaware of the exchange that had turned Anthony’s blood to ice, and he jabbed Anthony harder with the gun. “Three ninjas? There must be more out there. Where’s your full team, Edd?”
Before Anthony could come up with a response, a high pitched scream broke the silence. And then there was pandemonium.