Chapter 4.

Drake and Acton meet Gwen Hmong.

John Drake and Stewart Acton were the thieves that broke in the apartment of Pierce and they had hoped that the sticks had been there but to no avail. The fact is that they were too quick to search the room as Pierce had not had the time to hide the artefacts properly and by jumping the gun, they had given him a warning that he was probably under surveillance. A mistake that Gwen Hmong would not like.

They had been summoned by the head guardian as soon as they had told Susan Drake that they had left empty-handed. Susan had passed along the information and she was glad that she had not been the one to bungle the robbery. They would now have to answer for coming out empty handed.

As they parked their car near James Park, they could see the head guardian sitting at her favorite bench, the one that faced the sea and where a cool breeze could be felt. They knew it was she by the description given to them by Susan Drake. They got out of the car and began walking towards her. Dressed in suit and tie, they looked out of place as joggers and walkers passed them by. Sea gulls seemed to be accompanying them, uttering loud cries. They approached her with trepidation.

“Well, what happened?” said Gwen, losing no time in tearing into them.

“We searched thoroughly the room as instructed but came up with nothing. Either he hid the artefacts well or they were not in the room.” said John Drake.

“There is another possibility,” said Gwen. “Maybe you didn’t give him enough time for him to hide the sticks, maybe you were just too much in haste.” Gwen face was stern.

“Yeah, well, I suppose that is possible too,” replied Drake, looking at the surroundings but avoiding her gaze.

“And now by going in there too early you’ve warned Pierce that we are watching him!” Gwen was simmering with rage, her hands were cutting the air as she spoke. She felt like a volcano with the lava slowly rising inside and ready to erupt.

“Well maybe he might think that it was thieves looking for money,” uttered Stewart Acton. Acton never spoke much, always letting Drake do the talking as he had no wish to talk and explain himself to the head guardian or to anyone for that matter.

Gwen looked at Acton. By speaking up he reminded her of him and involuntarily he acted as the fall guy for Drake. She appeared so cross with his words that he took unconsciously a step backwards. She approached him and slapped him forcefully across his face, blood immediately spurting from his lips and nose. He took his handkerchief and applied it to his face trying to stem the flow of blood but some of it trickled onto his immaculate white shirt. He was a mess and he now looked like a modern art painting, with streaks of red here and there.

“Acton you are a fool, and your sidekick here is no better,” uttered Gwen, positively enraged at the incompetence of her henchmen. “I do not know what to do with such incompetent fools!”

Drake and Acton looked at their feet, waiting for the head guardian to give her instructions and to dismiss them. “Alright listen, from now on you will stay clear of his room, or his motorcycle. Do not be seen anywhere near those, understood?” said Gwen, with her index finger in the air. She was looking back and forth at Drake and Acton and pointing at them. Both were nodding but not saying anything.

“Well, don’t just nod, say yes,” said an exasperated Gwen.

“Yes, of course, yes,” replied both of the men in tandem, afraid to wake up again the anger that was just below the surface.

“Very, well, now go back and remember to follow Pierce from afar, we need to know what he is up to and where he is going, now go!” said Gwen in a decisive manner.

Both men quickly left the area, jumped into their car and sped off, happy to escape the gaze of the head guardian.

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