Aurora: Eden (Aurora 5)
The Wrecking Ball champion, known only as Drazen, lifted thick, callused fingers to the calendar hanging on the grimy pale-blue wall. Professor Sharley had hung it there. This was the place he had to come and wait for Chet and Logan to arrive. But they did not. And Sharley told him that if they didn’t show, he was to wait and check the calendar until the red crosses neared. There was a small one – a signal to start – and there was a larger one in a cherry red, marking the date Sharley deemed as the time to enact the final assault, the final revenge. The last stand.
“I’ll give you anything you want. I swear.” A whimpering voice sounded to his right. Drazen turned to the small cell and eyed the man within. He was of late-middle age, balding, with curly gray hair at the sides of his head. His face was bruised and stubbled. His prisoner. Professor Sharley’s last hope. The first item on Sharley’s list of things for Drazen to attend to.
As soon as Drazen had played his part, deceiving the FRS by acting as Chet and crossing the border into Arizona to draw the Aurora away from the Welles woman, his next job had been to find this Professor Jenkin LeFroy. It had taken longer than he thought. Drazen expected to have Chet and Logan’s assistance, but they never returned with the twins. That meant they were dead.
Chet had already done some of the groundwork in locating LeFroy, but Drazen had had to do the rest of it himself. He was proud of his efforts. Proud of his patience, his stealth. He knew he could do this; that he was smarter than Sharley gave him credit for. Sharley, like many others, assumed that because he was a quiet man, he was also a stupid man. But he wasn’t. That was just what he liked people to think, so they would underestimate him. He would prove to Sharley that he could do this; that he alone could carry out Sharley’s wishes and earn his pay.
He had waited days for Chet and Logan to return, with no communication from them. For almost two weeks, he had not left this place. He dared not, not until that first red cross had passed on the calendar. That was his sign. That was the indicator to tell whoever was left to begin enacting Sharley’s next plan. The professor had allowed six months to pull the plan together. Step one had been to find Professor LeFroy, and Drazen had done so; LeFroy would help Sharley replace the Jumbos he had lost.
“Please …” LeFroy begged.
Drazen fixed his gaze on the university man and held his index finger – crooked from too many Wrecking Ball fights – to his lips. “Sh,” he said, his eyes emotionless.
LeFroy immediately obeyed. The man, a fraction of Drazen’s size, was terrified of him. As he should be.
Drazen turned his eyes back to the calendar and ran his hands across the days, the weeks, the months, until he found the next red cross. The big red cross. Cherry red. Blood red. That was the one he most looked forward to. If Sharley and the other Jumbos had not returned by that date, then Drazen could act alone. That red cross marked the day he could unleash total and utter destruction at Sharley’s will.
His gaze moved to the photos taped to the wall beside the calendar. The photos of three women. Three soldiers. The redhead with pale skin, the black woman with long braids, and the one Sharley wanted most: the Welles woman. The one who kept the professor’s children from him.
That one would pay most of all.