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Chapter 53

Henry watched the SUV disappear, and called everybody back to Shyla’s front garden. Anna came, but she was buckling under the weight of a clearly distraught Essie. Essie was sobbing, and her knees buckled. Anna stumbled. Anthony relieved her of the weight, and helped Essie sit down on the cool grass. He crouched down in front of her, and began to rub her back in slow circles.

As Anthony comforted Essie, Henry worried about Shyla. He knew her main objective had been to protect Shaun. It didn’t make him any more comfortable with the idea of Shyla going back into that place. The immediate concern was getting Essie to the safe house.

Anthony looked up at Steven, and both nodded. Henry could understand their concern for Essie. As brave as she had been, Essie hadn’t had the training they all had, and was not used to the shocks of being shot at. Anna had vanished in the interim, but reappeared with the remnants of the oil from the middle SUV smeared across her face. “The fuel is gone. We have no way of getting to them without a ride.”

Henry swore in Mandarin, and began to pace up and down the sidewalk.

Steven pulled out his cell. “Master, we have a problem. Modified Code Three.” A pause. “Yes, she still has her ears. We have a civilian involved too. Shaun.”

Henry knew a modified Code meant that the ninja involved had entered the situation willingly, but still needed assistance. A Code Three simply meant that a ninja was in a hostage situation, with potential for innocents being injured too.

Henry helped Anthony get the now quiet Essie to her feet, and that was when he realised his upper right arm was burning. He glanced down at it to see blood dribbling out of a slice across his bicep. Anthony spotted the wound too. “Looks like a bullet grazed your arm there, Henry.”

Henry flexed, swore in a different dialect of Mandarin, and then shrugged. “Master Wong has given me worse for not listening to an instruction. It probably won’t even need stitches.”

Anthony chuckled. “I don’t even want to know what you said there. The Oriental language thing isn’t my scene.”

Essie turned her head at the sound. “Where did they take Shaun?”

Anthony hooked his arm around her waist, steadying her. “We don’t know. But we do know Shyla is with him. She will keep him safe. Don’t worry, sweetheart.”

Henry knew the endearment wasn’t meant as flirtation; Anthony had three younger sisters, and was probably used to comforting them. Old habits were hard to break, after all.

The first order of business was to get the men they had disabled into one area. Justin arrived as the last of the fourteen men was being tied up. He shut the door of his sedan and walked over to where Henry, Steven and Anthony were standing. The police arrived just behind him, and began to take the men into custody. The police went to every house on the block, explaining the shoot out and making sure no-one had been injured.

Their call centre had been going crazy for ten minutes with reports of shots being fired in the street. The operators had all been briefed to advise the caller to stay indoors until the police had spoken with them.

Justin shook Henry’s hand. “You say there were fifteen?”

Henry nodded. “One left with Vinnie, his security chief Jordan, and one other unknown. Anthony has more details.”

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