Through Keller’s amazing tracking efforts, they found out that Princess Karina and Gabby were being held in two separate locations, putting a damper on Johnny’s plan immediately. He hadn’t expected that to happen, but he had to adjust to it nonetheless. But the most important thing was that he hurry. Who knew what would happen to either one of them if he didn’t make a move soon?
Johnny swallowed a lump in his throat at the thought. What would happen to Gabby if he didn’t get to her? Was she lonely, scared, tired? Was she hurt?
If she was hurt, so help him, he wouldn’t stop himself from hurting Emil. What kind of person would hold two innocent women as hostages? Now that was a truly wicked thing to do.
“Scott, please don’t fail me,” Johnny whispered to himself in the darkness, and right then he had never felt so alone. He knew others were watching his every move from a distance, but Johnny couldn’t go in there with anything but a concealed knife, a gun, the fake weapon, and the clothes on his back. If he had anything else such as a tracker or earpiece, Emil might suspect foul play and kill one of the girls. At this point, he really didn’t know what was going to happen to himself, especially once he was unconscious, but all he knew was that he had to try.
After saying his dozenth silent prayer for this all to go down smoothly, Johnny wiped a trickle of blood from his nose. What he had injected himself with was strong, and it was starting to negatively affect his body. But that wasn’t the worst part because the weapon was stronger. Much stronger. He only hoped that the injection he had given himself would save him from the “fake” weapon. If not, he would be killed.
Finally, Agent Keller caught up with him and together they started making their way to the condemned house in which Gabby was being held up in. They decided that just the two of them would be the smartest. Not only would they expect Johnny to not come alone, but they also didn’t know that they had Scott’s team on their side. On top of that, he and his partner were the only ones who spoke Norwegian. They’d be much less obvious.
Two of Emil’s men stood guard at the front door of the creaking old house, their automatic rifles held to their chests as they stared Johnny and Keller down as they approached.
“If you want to see the girl, you must be unarmed,” one of the men growled, and very slowly, Johnny and Keller took their guns out of their holsters and set them on the ground. Only then did the men appear to be appeased and stood aside to let them in.
Immediately, a metallic rusty smell wafted in the air, and Johnny wasn’t sure if that was actual rust or the iron from his own blood. He didn’t think his nose was dripping anymore… But then again, he was beginning to lose feeling in his limbs. This had to happen quickly otherwise the chemical agent swimming in his own bloodstream would be a dead giveaway soon enough.
Johnny’s jaw clenched when he found Gabby tied to a chair that looked as if it would fall apart right along with this house, her eyes wide when she saw him enter the room.
“You shouldn’t have come for me!” she cried, tears streaking down her face. The princess, she’s—”
“I know,” Johnny interrupted, his heart pounding in his chest. “I can’t… I can’t let you die, Gabbs. I love you too much.”
“What a touching reunion,” Emil said with a triumphant grin on his face, pretending to wipe away a tear, but his grin immediately disappeared as if it hadn’t been there in the first place. “As promised, the weapon for the girl.”
Doing his best to control the anger that flared up inside of him, Johnny said, “Give me your word. She goes free.”
Emil rolled his eyes and cut Gabby loose from her bindings, and immediately she rushed into the safety of Johnny’s arms. Johnny held her close for what may be the last time, giving her a quick, meaningful kiss before he was forced to let her go.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart.”
Clearing his throat loudly, Emil said, “The weapon?”
Taking a shaky breath, Johnny handed over the small, silver, circular device and tried to control his hands to keep them from shaking whether from the chemical agent inside his blood or from the fact that he was terrified of what was about to happen, he didn’t know.
“Perfect,” Emil chuckled unforgivingly. “But I’m concerned that it doesn’t work as it should. I don’t want to be cheated out of my deal. Agent Harris, I want you to be the one in which we test it out on. If you refuse, we will kill the girl and your partner.”
Johnny knew this would happen, but he still needed to put on the act. “But I will die,” he growled. “That wasn’t part of the deal.”
Emil shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly as he studied the fake weapon. “Deals change, especially when I’m the one holding all the cards. It’s your choice. Either you die, or your friends will die along with you.”
“No!” Gabby shrieked as she tried to rush toward Johnny, but one of Emil’s men leapt forward and held her back, tears streaming down her face. “Johnny, please don’t do this. Please don’t die.”
Johnny shook his head, swallowing the fear he felt inside. “I don’t have a choice.” He took a seat in the chair, pretending to wipe away a sniffy, emotional nose when in fact he was wiping away some more blood. He already felt so awful inside, feeling as if he was going to puke, pass out, and explode all at the same time. If he felt like this now, he could only imagine what it would feel like when the “fake” weapon went off.
Emil passed around gas masks to everyone, and Johnny had to make sure that both Keller and Gabby received one before he allowed himself to relax. Even though he could hardly see Emil’s eyes over the gas mask, there was no mistaking the evil there. This was truly, truly evil.
Johnny said another silent, heartfelt prayer, praying that everyone would get out of this safely. He only hoped he would, but he would be exposed to a lot of dangerous compounds that he wasn’t supposed to survive as it was. He only hoped the agent inside of his blood would keep him safe long enough for the plan to be executed.
“Goodnight, Agent Harris,” Emil chuckled darkly as he activated the device, and even though Johnny could hardly see the gas being emitted throughout the entire room, he could definitely feel it constricting around his throat, tighter and tighter and tighter.
Very vaguely, Johnny could hear Gabby’s screams, but that was drowned out by the pain of the gas. His nose bled profusely, this time from the gas and not the agent, and his ears rang so loudly that he felt as if just that alone would kill him.
His body began trembling as his muscles lost control, his ears ringing even louder than he thought was possible, and then he felt incredibly dizzy beyond belief. His body pitched forward off the chair, and the last thing he was aware of was the cold wooden floor greeting his body with a smack.