So, here I am. I'm sorry for the delay. I upload this chapter but I'm still waiting for corrections by a gentle friend of mine, but I know she's very busy. So I hope she doesn't mind when she'll read this chapter on Fanfiction website. As soon as she'll send corrections to me, I'll replace my writing. Meantime, be lenient to me, I'm not English native. Enjoy the story and let me your comment, if you want.

Chapter 21

Yebraim did not sleep, could not sleep. His brother's body was still in the room where they had been segregated Annie and that thought tormented him. Their French partner was left with a group of guerrillas which came to pick him up in mid-afternoon. They had agreed to maintain radio silence throughout the day, but then they would have heard the following day to receive orders. When the French had left, Mebruk had immediately seized the opportunity to take the lead, "Let's have some fun, little brother" had told him. These words still rang in his mind. Now he did not know what to do. Go Taoudenni meant to help the American girl, but also endanger their lives: he could be accused of treason both by his guerrilla comrades from his father. Going to Sijilmasa according to plan could mean his salvation but not the American's.

He was still caught in these considerations when it began to dawn. Annie woke up with a start, the experience of the previous day had not left her to rest much. She looked around a bit disoriented and realized that Yebraim was staring at her.

"Good morning," she said.

"Good morning tesednan. I hope you have been able to sleep at least a bit."

"Not really. What happened yesterday ... "Annie clutched in the blanket. Yebraim looked at her and nodded.

"I understand." He said. He paused and added "We'll have to bury my brother before we leave."

Annie looked down and pulled the blanket higher still as if to cover her head.

"What do you do now? Where are we going to go?"

"Actually I have not decided yet. For me, it is risky to return to Taoudenni. If we went to Sijilmasa ... "

"So you have not decided what to do with me. I realized that you wanted to take me from my own people "

"Yes, I had thought of that. But if we go back, for one reason or another, or my father or my companions, they could kill me "

"I see. Then you put at risk my life to save yours "Annie was relying on man's feelings for her. It was not something that she was proud of, but she had to do.

"You know I would never do that, I am not as Mebruk." Yebraim replied gravely.

Annie looked at him and realized that he really would have given his life to her. She felt overwhelmed by what she read in his eyes and terribly guilty about what she was doing.

"Okay, let's go Sijilmasa. Along the way we will study a way to avoid both end badly." she said.

"Agree. Get ready then, we leave as soon as possible "

They took the food from the building where they had locked Annie, they filled up the van jerrycans of water, filled the gas tank, wrapped the Mebruk body in a blanket and buried him just outside the walls. Then Yebraim contacted by radio his companions to inform them that they were going to leave Taghaza.

In less than an hour, they were ready to leave. The trip to Sijilmasa would be rather long and complicated, they had to travel more than 500 miles in the desert. They would be alone, without the support of any caravan. Shortly after noon they stopped near a gorge cut into the rock to stretch their legs, they ate something underneath the shade of the van and tried to get some rest. Yebraim's beginning to feel the fatigue of a sleepless night and nearly six uninterrupted hours of driving.

"I can drive myself," Annie volunteered.

"Are you able to do?"

"Yes, I think so. It seems to me that I've already done."

"Really don't you remember anything about your past?"

In the mind of Annie again that voice rang "Lies will confuse you, the truth is easier to remember"

"Yes, I really do not remember. I have some mental pictures, but I'm not sure if they are real memories or just dream that I did."

"Do you want to talk?"

"No. Not now, at least. I don't even know what to think of what I have in my mind. It seems to be shrouded in fog, without seeing a light that can guide me."

"I think it's normal when you lose your memory," said Yebraim. The two were silent for a while. The desert heat was stifling, and even the shadow of the rocks didn't give relief. They decided to leave and Yebraim entrusted driving to Annie. The navigator of the van was already set with the direction to follow, so they would not run the risk of getting lost. Once started, Yebraim settled in the back of the van to rest and within a few minutes, he fell asleep. As she drove, Annie could hear the steady breathing of his companion, he seemed calm and she was pleased. She felt very guilty for what Yebraim had had to do to his brother to save her. She had to help him as she could.

Around them, there were only sand and, occasionally, rocks. The landscape was pretty dull as fascinating. Annie focused on driving, following, when necessary, navigator's instructions. She did not notice the time passing: the light of day in the desert, it was always the same at any time. Except when, suddenly, you realized that the sunset approached. Then the sky took so intense warm colors that it seemed that even the air is tinged. And looking at the sky, Annie noticed that the sun was not far.

Yebraim's voice broke the silence. "What's your name? I mean the real one."

"Annie. Annie Walker. So at least the American who spoke with your father said to me two days ago "

"Annie." repeated Yebraim. "It's a beautiful name"

"Thank you. Were you able to rest?"

"Yes enough. No radio contact? "

"Nope. I'd have called you, otherwise "

"By now it is dark. It should not be much longer. "Yebraim climbed over the seat and sat beside her. He looked at the navigation display and then pointed to a spot on the horizon. "Here we are. In a few minutes, we reach."

"What will you say? About your brother, me ... "

"I do not know, actually. This morning I had thought many possible explanations, but now all they seem really trivial. But we will have to decide quickly "

"May I ask why you kidnapped me?"

"When the Captain realized that your friends were American government agents and not mere tourists, he has decided to use you as a bargaining chip. Your life for his life"

"Why?"

The attack on the convoy in which you traveled is his work and his men. Men died in that ambush and among them there were Americans. We know well how the US government takes these things The Captain is wanted by US government agencies, and not only by those."

"Why have they blasted the convoy? Your father told me that it was carrying humanitarian aid "

"Humanitarian aid but not only that."

"What do you mean?"

"Humanitarian aid is used to cover the transport of weapons to supply the French troops stationed in Niger and Mali."

At that moment the radio resting on the dashboard of the van gave the incoming call signal. Yebraim replied, then inserted the speakerphone.

"Where are you?" asked a man in French.

"We are coming to Sijilmasa. I think we'll be there in about ten minutes"

"Have you been informed about the French attacks to Tigharghar?"

"Yup. Our French contact in Taghaza informed us. "

"The French attacks were two, one yesterday and one today. Many of our people have died. As soon as you arrive, we will inform you of the counter-offensive which will take place tomorrow in Tilladeri "

"Good. See you later"

Annie thought back to the conversation she had a few minutes before with Yebraim and to that she had heard on the radio. So the political situation in North Africa was very difficult, with many wars. If the Jihadists guerrillas had blown up the convoy with which she was traveling, it meant that they had taken up carrying arms. And those weapons were definitely served to increase the firepower of terrorist groups. All this did not promise zero good.

The speed of thought of assembling the various information astonished Annie.

"Perhaps this shows that I've really been a CIA's operative." she thought.

The problem was to understand, now, what was her current job. Did she work for a private agency? If so, what kind of agency was? Why was she that convoy carrying weapons? Were they really weapons designed to allied troops?

. There were so many questions in her head, so many questions that she wanted and had to give an answer.

And before finding the answers to a thousand questions that assailed her, there were more immediate issues to resolve: What would become of her, once they arrive in Sijilmasa? What would Yebraim say to justify the absence of Mebruk? Could she, in some way, to warn Calder and his men about her position?