The first but not the last
It was only a ten-minute trip to Camilla's place but already most of Alpha force was asleep by the time they arrived. In the back Amber's head rested on Hex's shoulder and his head drooped over onto hers with fatigue, Li had opted to lie across the other passengers in the back and use Paulo, who was snoring gently, for a pillow.
Alex felt wide-awake in the front seat, running over everything that had happened and replaying the violence of the afternoon in his head. He wondered if it was the adrenaline or just the relief of surviving that had caused their outbreak of laughter at the start of their journey and their sudden crash now. Alex was just so relieved that he and his friends had gotten away unscathed that he wanted to hold onto the warm feeling.
Eating away at this warmth was worry about their new friend Camilla; she seemed so tough and independent but Alex felt sure that there was more to it then that. Regardless, he didn't like the idea that they may have put her in danger and he knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if something happened to her.
Alpha Force was filled with a sense of dread when they stepped out of the taxi onto the quiet residential street that was Camilla's. An expensive car they didn't recognise was parked outside the flat; its engine was still ticking as it cooled beside Camilla's rented van.
"Hurry. They can't have been here long," Hex whispered as the five friends crept up to the nearest window.
Camilla had dropped off Alpha Force at their hotel before driving back to her home in the suburbs, the whole drive home she couldn't help but think about Alex and what he had said to her. The argument he presented was fair, but that wasn't it. When she thought about it she realised that for the first time in such a long time she actually felt a connection with anybody despite a difference of one or two years. She felt like she was free to be herself around him and this group of friends, who strangely called themselves Alpha force. No more hiding behind the hardened shell she had developed since…
This line of thought brought her back to herself and wondering what she was doing in such a dangerous job, maybe she should consider finding a nice man and settling down like her grandparents constantly urged her. She smiled a secret smile as she unlocked her door, thinking about a certain nice young man she had recently met who was maybe settling material.
After a long shower and changing into a tracksuit Camilla felt a lot more human. She had just came out of her bedroom when Camilla saw the man standing in her living room. Her gasp caught in her throat as her eyes jumped first to the stump on the side of his head and secondly to the gleaming machete he held in his large hand.
The Hyena smiled a menacing smile as he witnessed her terror.
"I'm sorry should I have knocked before letting myself in?" he asked in a cold voice, all trace of unfamiliarity with the English language was gone.
Camilla felt her breaths coming in short gasps, this man was a cold calculated killer and he was in her house, which could only mean one thing.
"Lomada says that there will be no aid for the villages who oppose his leadership." His chilling voice continued.
"They are people" Camilla cried in outrage, forgetting the imminent danger she was in for a moment, "and they are dying because of his so called leadership."
The smile vanished from the Hyena's face as he advanced on her, "It is none of your business how we run our country" he snarled fiercely.
From the window a horrified Alpha Force had watched, as the Hyena started stalking towards Camilla.
"We've got to do something," Amber whispered in stony anger.
"But what? He might kill her if we just bust in there." Hex retorted
Alex sighed his face hidden in the shadows, "I've got a plan, it's not great but it is all I can think of to stop him."
He took a deep breath before issuing orders.
"Li and Amber, you go round to the front door you are in charge of getting Camilla out. Paulo I need you to go and get the van running, hotwire it if you have to. We need it ready for a rapid extraction. Hex you're with me we are going in the back and creating a distraction."
Moving quickly the group got into position.
At the back door Hex whispered to Alex "How exactly do you plan on distracting this guy Alex?"
An odd look crossed Alex's face as he turned to answer his friends question by simply drawing the hunting knife, he always carried, from its sheath and tilting his head towards it.
Hex's jaw dropped and he starred incredulously at his friend.
"A-Alex can you do that?" Hex stammered.
"I hit that snake all right back in the Sahara" Alex answered with a wry smile that didn't quite seem to make it up to eyes.
Hex narrowed his stare at his friend. "You know that's not what I meant. I mean are you going to be alright with actually... hitting.. a person with that?"
Alex looked away from his friend not wanting to meet his gaze "It's the only way I can think of to stop him from hurting her, I've got to do it." He whispered in a level voice.
Hex finally nodded his head in agreement, "It's to save someone you're right, what do you want me to do?" he said softly placing a hand on Alex's shoulder.
Alex looked up at his friend grateful for understanding "I just need you to pick the lock for me, so I can get in quietly, mate."
Hex nodded again got out his tool kit and quickly got to work, seconds later the last tumbler fell into place allowing Alex into the house.
"Aim true" Hex whispered to the blond boy as he stealthily slipped into the house.
Camilla cowered as far back against the wall as she could, terrified as the killer kept coming towards her. The pretty woman shrunk her slender frame away as he stopped right in front of her, his rancid breath choking her as he leaned in close, pushing her up against the wall with his sweaty body. She shuddered in horror as she felt his free hand caress its way up from her hip and he hissed in her ear with a sinister smile.
"You should have stayed out of this little girl, because now you are in real trouble."
His hand reached her throat and she cried out as she felt the cold steel of his machete as he pressed the blade up to her neck.
The back door opened into the kitchen and Alex silently padded in, he could hear the Hyena in the next room and knew he must move quickly. He closed his eyes for a second to take a deep breath shutting out his thoughts, his doubts and his fears. With a hand gripping his trusty knife by its weathered blade and a familiar detached feeling of calm, Alex stepped out of cover.
Camilla closed her eyes tight, a single tear escaping down her bronzed cheek and waited for the pressure on her neck to suddenly increase and bring an end to her life. As if by a miracle though a strong, familiar voice rung out
"Leave her alone"
The pressure on her throat instantly disappeared, as the Hyena whirled around with a snarl like his namesake.
The predator turned from his prey to see a sandy haired youth standing in the doorway of the kitchen. He laughed at the audacity of being disturbed by a boy and stepped away from the girl, letting her slump to the floor.
"Brave words my young friend-" the killer began, only to be cut off by the boys' sudden movement, a flash of his arm.
He hadn't noticed the knife in the youth's grip until he looked down and saw it embedded in his stomach. He looked down in amazement, as a red wave started creeping out from hilt and dying his t-shirt. His machete clattered to the ground and he stumbled forward to his knees. As the room began to blur, he could only watch as his potential victim was pulled to her feet by two other teenagers and hustled out of the room.
The boy who had thrown the knife still stood exactly where he was, a hard look in his eyes that seemed to melt into a look of shock and horror. Alex stood a moment longer, staring at the man he had stabbed, before Hex grabbed him and dragged him out of the house and bundled him into the back of the awaiting van.