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Chapter 57

Shaun felt the cobwebs come and go, and fought the wave of nausea. He was in a dark room, and figured it was one of the cells in the basement. After what felt like forever, Shaun managed to force himself to sit up. His head swam, and he bent over to empty the contents of his stomach next to him.

After five minutes of agonising retching, he straightened up and rested his head on the wall behind him. The bump on the back of it throbbed, but he could ignore the pain. Especially when he discovered the earpiece still firmly in his left ear. Right now, there was no signal connecting him to anyone, but the fact it was still there was a small comfort to him.

As he shut his eyes to ward off the nausea, Shyla rolled out of the tree to land on her feet. She had been asleep for close to two hours, and now needed to find some food.

The town was too far to go to look for food, since her energy reserves were still dangerously low. So she began to scout the houses around the compound. Mostly the rich and famous, these homes were old money; wealthy families who had an ancestral home in Maine to brag about to their upper class peers. None of that interested Shyla, only the thought of one of those houses containing food. She went off to hunt.

Henry paced the meditation room, agitated and frustrated. It was sometime after midday, and Henry was eager to get to Shyla before she could get herself killed. Master Wong had told the ninjas they were not to attack until night fell, and so the day was spent planning for the attack. Henry worried about Shyla. She was still impulsive, and often reacted without too much thought.

Her decision to attempt a rescue on Shaun alone was, frankly, ludicrous. She wouldn’t survive the full assault of the security there. The ninja school didn’t need to lose any more of its students. Henry paused, glanced at his watch, and then continued to pace.

Anthony could have cut the tension in the room with a knife. The fact that he was the only one who felt it made it worse. Shyla was missing, Shaun was injured, and Anna was still furious at him. Anthony didn’t need a degree in psychology to understand why.

Henry wasn’t currently in this meeting, too agitated to concentrate. It was unusual to see the normally level-headed and calm ninja getting so worked up, but Anthony knew why. Shyla might be a pint-sized thunderstorm, but it was clear she was loved and respected by those she chose to give her loyalty to.

His attention was diverted back to Justin, who was busy putting the final details onto their attack plan. “We can only assume Shyla will attempt a diversion of some sort. So we need to be prepared to accommodate her involvement.”

The FBI agent had managed to put two plans together, and he and Anthony would have to co-ordinate them to account for what Shyla might do.

As the sun finally began to sink below the horizon, four ninjas collected in the alley behind the school. Master Wong joined them a few minutes later, with Essie in tow. “Her presence will harm no-one,” he told Steven, who had raised an eyebrow. “She will stay in my van with me. However, she asked to join us for the rescue.”

There was no objection from the ninjas. Master Wong would never intentionally put a civilian into danger. The group piled into a battered old panel van, and began the drive to Ronaldton. Justin had also wanted to join, but he was called back to his office at the last minute. That didn’t mean he wasn’t in contact with the master.

Henry and Anthony shared a glance as they locked their seatbelts. They could only hope Shyla was still okay.

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