Lines of confusion could be seen on their faces. It startled them that Knuckles wasn’t in the chopper with them. Their heartbeat slowed down at the thought of what would remain of him considering his condition and nature of things back there.
“Hey Pilot, we got to go back” Scamal started abruptly, pushing aside the huge briefcase.
“I’m sorry, we can’t” was the simple reply as the pilot still had his gaze fixed on the radar
“What do you mean by that? There’s an injured and stranded soldier out there in the heat of things”, Collins spoke in a hoarse voice as he tried explaining. The pilot shook his head,
“Just following orders boys, it’s a retrieve and retreat mission”
Scamal bit his lips as he tried controlling the rage within. The chopper whizzed in the sky for about an hour before touching down at their secret base in the airport. A SWAT team came over to pick the briefcase.
“Handle with utmost care men” Sir Black’s voice sounded from a distance “Good work boys”, he turned to Scamal and Collins
“Yes sir…” Collins replied, “…we still got one of our guys back there sir”.
Commander turned back to them with that grim look, “I’ve got more than a dozen ‘ghosts’ back there trying to tidy things up” he said, referring to his men as ghosts“so I really don’t think your guy is special”
“But Sir…”Scamal interrupted
“He better try to stay alive and he just might get extracted with the rest” were his final words after which he turned away.
“Guy calm down, he’ll make it” Collins said softly as he patted Scamal from behind. They got into the abandoned Airbus A380 plane which served as their hideout. Darkness slowly fell, the final set of surviving ‘ghosts’ had returned but there was still no sign of Knuckles
“It’s been a good job guys” Sir Black started as they all settled for dinner “we got what we came for so we should be out of here before dawn. Get some rest guys, Nigeria’s miiiiiles away from here”
Scamal hissed and returned to forcefully swallowing his meal.
“How are you feeling?” Collins asked Cyber who had a P.O.P about his arm.
“Hope I’ll get out of this soon’’ he replied, gently patting the P.O.P.
‘’We still got no sign of Knuckles’’ he whispered, “I need your help now’’. Cyber nodded rationally.
It took a couple of minutes, a laptop and EvesDropTM (Cyber’s spy App) to come to a logical assumption. The Operation had been a Clean-Sweep; some vehicles had fled the Scene so they got the vehicles plate number and hacked into the traffic cameras to search for the vehicles. Only one of the vehicles had stopped at a specific place, the rest had stopped at random places like a gas station or an eatery.
“We’ll take our chances with this, thanks man” Collins said, “Scamal, let’s roll”
“I’ll get a shuttle ready” Ali added, everyone stared at him for a moment “You weren’t going to leave without me right?”
Scamal signaled approvingly and moments later, all three sneaked out the Airbus A380 and were on their own rescue attempt. They had 5 hours till their flight to Nigeria so they had to be in and out real quick.
Another heavy blow landed on Knuckles jaw, then another and another. He feebly let blood drool from his mouth.
“This one won’t talk” a voice said.
“We’ll see about that” was the reply , footsteps approached him. His vision was blurred and he could only see dark figures in the room. From his experience, he could tell that the room wasn’t an empty one because of the way the voices sounded; it had to be in a commercial environment from the noises he had heard while he was dragged in.
“Are you going to talk now?” the voice said, “Where did they take the controls to?”
“How would I know? We’ve been together all day” Knuckles replied. He receive another heavy blow which made him dumb for minutes
“We’ll be back, no one would save you from this” The footsteps departed from the room, leaving Knuckles to think of what the last minutes of his life would be like.
The door finally opened and hanging there was a lifeless looking Knuckles in chains. One of the figures signaled for him to be lowered till his foot could touch the ground.
“Are you going to talk now?” the same voice sounded again. Knuckles chuckled,
“Hear that?That’s death’s footsteps approaching”
There was a moment of muddle and just then the door flung open, there was confusion in the room as Knuckles could hear the gunshots around him. Scamal loosened the chains as he helped Knuckles get on his feet. They managed to get down the stairs and to the backdoor where Ali was waiting with an ambulance an. They sped off immediately, police sirens could be heard all around as it was just 1 a.m. and the gunshots had raised the alarm
“It’s alright man” Scamal said, helping Knuckles seat comfortably.
“Why una tey na?” Knuckles asked with a smile that disappeared almost immediately it came.They helped him dress the bruises.
“Do you know where you’re heading?” Collins moved to Ali who was on the steering and trying hard to get a clear view in this darkness that covered the earth.
“I hope so” Ali replied with a silent sigh.
They drove for two hours then the van finally stopped. There was an awkward silence in the van.
“What’s wrong?” Scamal asked as he reached for his rifle.
“I think we’re out of fuel” Ali replied slowly, they hissed in disappointment.
“We go waka the remaining one” Knuckles said, he had regained some strength.
They had driven north and now, they were stranded somewhere in a desert. The cold wind didn’t help matters too as they struggled through the ocean of sand, darkness in front and darkness behind. They had walked miles; the wind was even colder now as morning was breaking.
“Where are we even going?” asked an exhausted Collins amidst chattering teeth. The rest dropped on the large acre of sand, unable to give a reply or go any further. They laid there watching the beauty of the rising sun, perhaps it might be the last thing they did on earth. They had only succeeded in moving from frying pan to fire as all hope of being rescued was lost.
“Do you hear that?” Ali started as he jerked up “come on guys, get up!” They rose frailly as Ali assisted Knuckles who was fighting hard to survive the pains. The sound of a helicopter approaching was quite distinct and although it seemed to be at a distance from them, they knew waiting wouldn’t be a wise decision as they weren’t expecting any rescue team. They hurried feebly across the large sea of sand as they dragged their bodies sluggishly.
“It’s no use running” Knuckles said, one hand across Ali’s shoulder.
“Uh-Oh we got birdie at 3 O’clock” Scamal announced as he assisted Knuckles, relieving Ali of the extra work. Not only was the helicopter’s noise now very audible, its blades could be seen whirling at a distance.
“Come on guys, there’s a rock up ahead; we could camouflage there”, Collins urged his teammates as they headed for the huge chunk of rock which lay there in the sand. The chopper was now very visible-a black Boeing_CH-47_Chinook with a hollow face logo and inscription ‘EVIL’S NIGHTMARE’.
“We’ve been made” Knuckles aired out. Ali laughed out loud, causing his teammates to turn around. The look on their faces eased as they joined in laughing.
The helicopter landed a distance away from them; its rotating blades raised sand into the air.
“We’re almost late for take-off guys” Cyber’s thin voice came through; they raced towards the Chopper rather delighted.
“How did you find us?” Collins asked amidst gasps as the metallic bird rose to the sky.
“Did you think I was going to let you go just like that?, I bugged your boots…”
Collins was surprised to see the tiny beeping tracking device. “Smart Ass…”
It was an almost quiet flight to the airport; Nigeria sure was going to be one looooong journey!