Back in Rutherford, a slightly cleaner Anna sucked in a breath, at once thankful Shyla was safe, and worried about why she was calling her. “Shyla! Are you okay?”
Shyla sounded terrified. “Yes, it’s me. I’m okay. I’m in Ronaldton. Vincent tried to kill me, and I managed to get away from him.”
Anna frowned. “Shyla, what are you on about?”
The reply was just as cryptic. “I’m here, alone. He tried to shoot me. Please come and get me.”
Anna thought for a moment. This was definitely Shyla, so why was she being obscure? Unless… “Is there a civilian with you right now?”
Anna smiled, relieved. She waved Henry over. “I’m putting your call on speaker so the others here can hear you.” Once the ninjas had gathered around, and Anna had explained the situation, Anna spoke again. “Is Shaun with you?”
Shyla sounded a tiny bit relieved at the news that there were others with Anna. “No. he went with Greg back to the house. I didn’t want him to go but he left me.”
Henry bent forwards. “Is he seriously hurt?”
Back in Ronaldton, Shyla was worried about Shaun, but at the same time, happy that the rest of the ninjas had made it out alive. “He wouldn’t tell me. Just left with them.”
The clerk was giving her a questioning look, and so Shyla spoke again. “I need to go. Tell Justin and Essie that I love them. I’m sorry.”
Henry scowled. He knew Shyla, and that she was up to something. “Shyla, if you’re going in there…”
“I’m sorry. I love you, Anna.”
The call cut, and Justin turned to Henry. “Do you know what she was saying?”
Henry rubbed his hand over his face and into his curls, the frustration clear. “Shyla is about to attempt to breach the compound and get Shaun out alone. That was why she said ‘I love you’. It’s code.”
Justin raised an eyebrow. “Code.” He didn’t sound convinced.
Anna picked up where Henry left off. “When two ninjas begin to work as a pair, we often shorten the codes Master Wong gives us, and make it easier to communicate. I think Shyla and Henry did that.”
Henry nodded. “I love you. That means she’s about to go in. We were to use it when there was no other option.”
Steven looked at Anthony. They had their own code they used. It wasn’t an uncommon thing that happened. Anthony turned back to Justin. “So what now?”
Justin looked at Henry. “We need to get back to base, and prepare to attack.”
Shyla thanked the clerk, and told him she would wait outside for her friend to arrive. As she stepped out of the store, a long sedan pulled up. It was a dark green, and seemed to contain several rowdy people.
Rowdy people didn’t bother Shyla, and so she just kept her head down as she walked to the edge of the kerb. One of the people in the sedan staggered out and began to stumble his way into the store. His goal appeared to be the twelve pack of beer in the back of the store. Shyla used the clerk’s distraction – he had planned to keep an eye on her from inside – to walk quickly into the shadows. Shyla broke out into a dead sprint as soon as the darkness enveloped her.
She had cleared the block when the sedan roared past her. She shook her head, but began to familiarise herself with the town of Ronaldton. She was looking specifically for the compound, having never actually been able to see the route to get there.
Shyla decided to find the park bench Theresa had picked them up from the last time they were in town. Once she had located that, it was easy to retrace the path they had walked to reach it. Unfortunately for Shyla, the sky had been steadily getting lighter as she walked. It would soon be too light to mount an attack on the compound, even a stealth attack.
The compound soon appeared ahead of her, and Shyla kept to the tree line as she crept up to the nearest guard. He was armed, and appeared on high alert. This did not bode well for Shyla, especially if she was to get an injured Shaun to safety without backup.
Climbing a nearby tree, Shyla settled herself onto a low branch. From her vantage point, she could see the house she and Essie had been in, as well as all of the fencing between her and her goal.
As the sun rose on what promised to be a hot day, Shyla thought about Henry. She knew he would have been very upset when she said ‘I love you’, but she had meant it. There was a strong possibility she could be killed – what ninja didn’t live with that threat? Shyla had wanted Henry to know she loved him.
The day grew hotter, and Shyla took the opportunity to take a nap. Her power reserves were almost gone, and she knew sleep was a weapon. If she could do nothing else, reenergising her body would be a good place to start.