chapter 15 part 8
‘Our current strategy is failing,’ she began, not looking at anyone in particular. Cole reduced the volume of the television to hear her well. ‘Chief Nonso Abel has been captured by the Vice President and they’re threatening us to drop all allegations we have against him. We have to change our strategy; the new plan is to kill anyone at the slightest opportunity we have.’
‘No Tara, we can’t go that way,’ Henry protested as he got up from his seat. His tone and voice made the protest sound rather like a gentle plea. All eyes turned to him while he fixed his gaze on Tara’s face. ‘Please don’t let them influence us, we should not be turned to murderers because of what they do, please. Remember, we’re fighting to take the darkness away, we should not fight darkness with darkness.’
Tarasha eyes locked with his for a moment. She could make sense from his words and could see in the sincerity and passion in his eyes but she decided to be unmoved. She took her gaze off his face and glanced at the other guys, ‘We might need to spend some days out of this city, to plan, re-strategize properly and also train.’ She paused as her eyes met with Henry’s again. ‘I’m considering taking off the allegation for Chief Nonso’s safety but if we do, it would make the world believe more that we carried out the robbery operations.’ She paused again and looked at each one’s faces one after the other. ‘From this moment, no calls should be made or received in this building, no chats or messages should be replied to, until we move out. And start packing your bags right away, we should leave here first thing tomorrow morning. Henry would help the doctor with his bags and Cole, you see me in the computer room in the next seven minutes.’ She concluded and walked away from the living room, leaving everyone speechless and baffled.
She got into the computer room and quickly turned on the laptop she was using as the server in the base. She heard the door open while waiting for the computer features to load, she could smell Henry’s perfume as he walked closer to her.
‘Don’t try to change my mind, I won’t listen to you,’ she said in a strong tone.
Henry halted and stared at her thinly for a while. He shook his head and proceeded forward, still wanting to try his best to convince her. He pulled a chair close to her and sat.
‘Before I try to change your mind, I think I should tell you that the abduction of Chief Nonso is on the news already and the police have credited it again to Samantha Osman, they claimed she kidnapped Chief Nonso just like she did to the last two men who were killed.’ Henry said to her.
‘I’m not surprised about that, I was expecting them to.’
‘Listen to me Tara, there are better ways we can handle this issue that’ll be more productive than killing people.’
She heaved a sigh of tiredness and tilted her head backwards with her eyes closed.
‘I have an idea…’
She cut him short by raising her hand and facing her backpalm to him. ‘I’m not about to listen to you Henry, please don’t discuss this with me anymore.’
‘But we can…’
‘Shut the **** up Henry,’ she slammed and pulled out a gun. She pointed it to his chest.
He shifted back in fear and put his two hands in the air.
‘It’s either you listen to me and follow my instructions from this moment or you quit,’ she said to him in a strong tone. ‘Get the **** out of this place,’ she ordered, pointing the gun to the door. Henry got up slowly and proceeded out of the room. Two minutes later, Cole came into the room.
‘Cole, who did you tell about Chief Nonso?’ she asked as he walked towards her.
Cole stopped in shock, wondering why she was asking him such a question.
‘Boss, nobody heard anything about Chief Nonso from me. Besides, I barely know the man.’
‘Prior to this time, you’re the only one who knows about Chief Nonso’s association with us, Tomi might have only heard me mention Chief Gab a few times and even Henry knows nothing about Chief Nonso.’
‘Boss, do you think I told someone of his association with us?’ Cole asked in a calm tone with his eyebrows raised. He felt bad and disappointed that she could think he would sell them out.
Tarasha stared into his eyes for a few seconds, she could see the disappointment in it. She had doubted that it could be from him but still had to ask to give no room for errors. ‘We need to find how Chief Nonso was captured, how and when they found out he’s connected to us and if they also know about Chief Gabriel.’
‘How do we do that?’
‘First, you get all today’s NSCC records for the area where he was kidnapped from and let’s see the manner at which the kidnap was carried out.’
Cole hurried to another seat immediately and opened up a laptop to begin work.
After fifteen minutes of total silence, Tarasha received a call from Chief Gab.
‘Hello Chief,’ she answered the call with a calm tone.
‘Tarasha, I just heard you kidnapped Chief Nonso,’ Chief Gab stated from the other end, in a rather accusing manner.
‘No, I didn’t, Chief Elvis’ men did,’ she replied.
There was a sudden gasp from the other end and a silence of almost ten seconds. ‘Are you kidding me Tara, Chief Elvis took Chief Nonso?’
‘Yes, he did. I’m thinking they could have found out he was associated to us through the previous building where we were attacked.’
‘But Tara, you said you were going to do something about it.’
‘It appears they had the owner’s name before attacking us, I should have removed the name earlier before moving there if you hadn’t said the house was still needed.’
‘So what do we do now?’ Chief Gab asked in scared shaky voice.
‘I’ll get back to you Chief, everything would be over soon.’ She replied in a confident tone.
It took her five minutes more after the call to confirm that the removal of Chief Nonso’s name from the Ministry’s portal which she had done before was indeed successful. Then she was sure that Rex and his gang must have known the owner before coming to attack them. She knew things had gone complicated and it could get more difficult, especially if Chief Nonso was the lily-livered type. She remembered speaking with him on phone that night, she had implored him that even after she must have removed his name from the Ministry’s portal that night, he could still be questioned by the police or any other security group and therefore should deny having anything to do with the building or with her.
‘Are you making any progress yet?’ she asked Cole as she got up from her seat.
‘Yes, the footages should be ready in ten minutes time.’ Cole answered.
Tarasha walked out of the computer room and proceeded to Dr Ekwueme’s room. She knocked on the door and waited till the man asked her to come in.
‘Good evening Doctor,’ she greeted after closing the door, rubbing both palms together.
‘Good evening Samantha,’ the doctor replied. He was seating close to the headboard in the bed and staring at her in confusion, wondering what she was doing in the room. It was her first time of entering the place and their first time of seeing that day.
‘Hope you rested well today,’ she said and he nodded in response. ‘Okay, I’m going out tonight and I want you to come with me.’
‘I would, I don’t have a choice anyway.’ The man shrugged.
‘We might be working overnight; I do hope you still have enough strength for that.’
‘I can work all night, as far as you don’t give me heavy loads to carry.’ The doctor replied in a cheerful tone.
‘Good! We’d be leaving in the next forty five minutes, prepare’ she said and turned back to proceed out of the room.
‘Do you have any idea how those guys got into the house?’ Dave asked Stephanie as they both stepped into the elevator.
Both of them were properly now washed, the makeup on their faces had been cleaned off and their hairstyles returned to normal. They’d just finished having dinner in the hotel hall and were returning back to their rooms.
‘No, I don’t know how they came in. All I saw was a gun pointed to my head.’ she replied.
Two other people joined them in the elevator, so they had to pause their discussion until they got off to their floor.
‘And what made him hit you on your face?’
‘I think I turned after he asked me not to look back,’ she replied.
Dave stared at the black spot on her face for a while and shook his head angrily. He wished he could see the guy at that moment and punch his face hard in return.
They were lodged in separate rooms but the doors just beside each other. The length of wall separating their door was less than half a metre.
Stephanie stopped in front of her door and Dave stopped in front of his. They turned and stared into each other’s eyes for a minute which seemed like forever.
Stephanie was the first to look away and she immediately began to search her bag for the key.
‘We need to talk tonight,’ Dave said to her.
‘Do we really need to?’ Stephanie asked with a frown. ‘I’m feeling quite and I need to rest.’
‘I know you’re tired and I’m sorry for making you pass through all you did today but we still have to talk before morning tomorrow. Would you prefer I wake you up by two a.m. ?’
‘Two o’clock?’ Stephanie widened her eyes in surprise.
‘Yes, it’s important we discuss before morning.’
‘I’ll call you when I’m done having my bath tonight,’ she said as she unlocked the door with the key.
Forty Minutes Later
In Stephanie’s room. She had changed into a short sleeping gown while Dave was just on a white singlet and black trousers. He sat on the long sofa in the room with a laptop on his right lap while she sat conveniently in the bed close to the edge with her back leaning against the headboard of the bed.
‘We have to leave this hotel as early as five o’clock tomorrow, ‘ Dave said to her, his gaze fixed on the laptop screen and his fingers working on the keyboard.
She folded her arms and stared at his face. His face looked dry and white just like hers. They had visited a nurse who treated the wound on his head and recommended some drugs to him.
‘Why should we leave so early? You have a wound on your headand you need to rest well,’ she said, making it sound more like a complain.
‘Steph, there’s no time to rest now.’ Dave replied back in a gruff voice, now staring at her. ‘We don’t even know if we’re safe yet.’
Stephanie frowned as she heard his last statement, she tried to imagine what he meant but couldn’t come up with anything. ‘What do you mean by that?’
‘We were in the middle of an interview today and our host was kidnapped, we don’t know who did it or why they did it. If the police gets to know of our involvement, they would come looking for us first.’ He said, wanting it to sound like a threat which would make her willing to listen to him.
Fear crept into Stephanie’s heart slowly and she began to imagine different negative scenarios.
‘You don’t have to be scared, we only need to plan and we’d have no troubles.’ Dave said on noticing she was beginning to fear.
Her gaze dropped from the ceiling where it was focused and fell on his face. She was almost regretting why she had agreed to follow him for the interview. If he was a real journalist, he might get the backing of his media house if he got into trouble but she had used a fake identity card which he provided and it could get her into more trouble.
‘I have a plan and if we follow it carefully, we would have no problems.’ Dave continued. ‘I read on the news some few minutes ago that the police has credited the kidnap to Samantha Osman. They mentioned that her signatures were all over the place but thank God, they didn’t mention anything about us.’
Stephanie looked away for a second on remembering something, then she looked at his face again. He was about to continue talking when she interrupted. ‘That guy said Chief Nonso is one of Samantha Osman’s sponsors and he also said you knew about it. You haven’t explained that yet.’
‘I was coming to that part,’ Dave cleared his throat. ‘But since you brought it up now, let’s do away with it.’ he said and dropped his laptop beside him on the sofa. He took something out of his pocket and proceeded towards her. He placed a knee on the ground close to where she was seated on the bed and placed his elbows on the mattress with the item he took out of his pocket still in his right hand.
‘Stephanie, that guy that held you, can you identify him if you see him again?’
‘Yes, I should be able to.’
‘But do you recognize him from anywhere? I’m sure you must have seen him before,’ Dave asked, squinting into her eyes.
Stephanie paused to think for a moment. She closed her eyes and pictured his face in her mind for some seconds but she couldn’t see any resemblance to anyone she had met before. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen him.’
‘You have, but you couldn’t recognize him, I believe you couldn’t because of his changed hairstyle. He also have his eyebrows and moustache totally shaved off, I also did not recognize him at that moment.’
‘Who is he?’
‘He was a friend of the late criminal Don Dan, he was there when you were kidnapped, they worked with the cult group.’
Stephanie tried again to recall if she had seen his face but she still could not.
‘What about the other guy that hit my head from behind, can you recognize him?’
Stephanie frowned for a moment. ‘No, I only remember he had a band covering his forehead. I couldn’t look at his face boldly because he was pointing a gun at me and the other one also had his on my head.’
‘Well, I suspect that those guys are from another group of assassins employed by the Vice President to follow Samantha Osman.’ Dave said.
There was a brief silence in the room. Stephanie pondered on his words and tried to see the picture of another assassin being after Samantha Osman. ‘But you said the police reported that Samantha Osman kidnapped the Chief.’
‘Yes, that was what they reported but it’s not true.’
‘Well, does this mean that you truly knew that Chief Nonso was a sponsor of Samantha?’
‘I don’t know but I suspect he is. I think he’s been suspected by the Vice President too and that’s why the Vice President’s assassins came to get him.’
‘So, they’re going to kill him? What if he’s innocent?’ Stephanie asked in a terrified voice.
‘I don’t think they’ll kill him, they would rather want to use him to lure Samantha to them, or threaten her to take back the allegations she made against the Vice President.’
‘How do you know all these? Aren’t they too much for a journalist?’ Stephanie asked, in doubt of who Dave really was.
Dave reached for her two hands and squeezed her palms in his softly, then he placed his hands gently on her knees, still holding her palms.
‘I’m sorry I lied to you, but I’m not a journalist,’ he said softly, looking deeply into her eyesas she stared into his too.
She released one of her hands from his grip and reached for the item he had dropped on the bed, the one he took out from his pocket earlier. It was an identity card and it had Dave’s passport photograph at the upper right hand side. She stared at it for a few seconds and then looked at Dave’s face.
‘So you’re a secret Agent?’ she asked in low tones, giving him a thin stare.
He nodded and gently squeezed her palm which was still in his left hand. She stared at the identity card for few more seconds before returning it to the bed.
‘So, what about your desert reporters’ID card? Is it fake too?’ she asked.
He was silent for a moment. He had expected her to be angry and blame him for involving her in something so dangerous without considering her safety.
‘I’m a journalist for Desert Reporters, I submit news articles also but I’ve only been to their office once. My work with them is majorly online,’ he finally replied.
‘I knew there was something more to it,’Stephanie began, now staring blankly at the wall. Dave reached for her second palm, hoping she wasn’t going to flare up at him. ‘A journalist had no business coming into the hospital to help me like you did, so I didn’t believe when you told me you were one. I only got a bit confused when I saw the Desert Reporters’ ID card with the original seal this morning but we had gone too far for me to start asking questions then.’
Dave stared at her lips as she spoke, wondering why she was still speaking calmly instead of getting mad at him. She looked down and stared at his face also. He felt bad once again seeing the spot on her eyes.
‘So why did you have to tell me that you’re an Agent, I thought your service is supposed to be secret?’
Dave felt surprised at her question. He blinked his eyes and chuckled, then he rose from his knees and sat at the edge of the bed facing her directly and part of his body touching her legs.
‘I want you to decide what to do, it’s dangerous to work with me. You can choose to return to Abuja today if you want to,I would still join you work on your case against the Vice President.’ he said and waited for her response.
‘I’m not going anywhere,’ she replied, squeezing her face. ‘If you wanted me to decide, you should have told me before we left Abuja.’
Dave closed his eyes for a second. ‘When it comes to my job, we don’t allow people decide to work with us or not. I actually thought I could do to you like we do to the others, but I can’t.’ Dave confessed. He stared down for a moment before looking at her face again. ‘So, I’ll fix the flight for you to return to Abuja tomorrow morning. I’ll check you once I get back there,’ he said and got up from the bed.
‘No, I’m not going anywhere. What about the plans about making the allegations public?’
‘I’ll do that here, we don’t have to be together.’
‘I’m not going anywhere, I’m here already.’ she said stubbornly.
‘Stephanie,’ he returned to the bed. ‘Listen, it’s really dangerous to go around with me. I could get killed at anytime.’
‘But you’ve been at this job for a long time and you are still alive.’
‘Yes, I’m alive but I’m not sure of being alive tomorrow.’
She shook her head stubbornly and folded her arms.
‘Stephanie, what you saw is little today. My job gets so dangerous at times.’ Dave said, trying to convince her. ‘I was the one who led the chase on Samantha Osman from Crescent Moon Hotel in Anambra State someweeks ago, I almost got killed.’
‘Do you chase after her everyday?’Stephanie asked.
Dave heaved a sigh and remained silent for a moment. ‘Do you really want to stay here even after knowing I’m not a journalist?’
‘I didn’t come here with you because you were a journalist, I wouldn’t leave because you’re not one.’
Dave let out a breath and stared at her silently for some seconds. Then he moved closer and held her hand again. Stephanie tried to shift her legs to give space for him but her night gown opened and her left thigh was revealed. She quickly covered it back and remained in the previous position.
‘I’ve seen only one lady in recent times that caught my attention like you do, I wanted to go after her that day…’ Dave suddenly paused. He narrowed his gaze for some seconds as if he was thinking about what next to say. ‘Not that I really had anything to say to her but I just wanted to know her,’ he said and paused again. ‘The truth is, I didn’t ask you to come with me just for you to help me in my investigations, I only wanted to be close to you.’
She folded her lips in, staring at him speechlessly while he continued to talk. ‘I want to ask you again, do you really want to stay here?’
She squeezed her eyebrows and pouted her lips for some seconds. ‘Yes, I’m not leaving here…’
She couldn’t complete her words as he pulled her into a tight hug at that moment. She felt shocked at first but got to relax her body.
‘You’re choking me already,’ she complained a minute after. Dave seemed to be totally lost.
‘I’m sorry,’he released her and quickly jumped to his feet.
She gave him an awkward stare for a moment while he also stood on a spot and stared back at her. ‘I thought you said we had to make plans for tomorrow.’
‘Oh! That’s true.’
Dave returned quickly to the sofa and continued to work with his laptop.
‘Can you come here, I’d like to show you something?’ he said motioning her to join him on the sofa.
She got up and joined him there. She looked at the computer screen to see what he was doing but couldn’t understand.
‘You lost the phone I gave you, you see why I asked you to leave your own phone in your room?’
‘It dropped from my hands when the man hit my face. Did you know I was going to lose the phone?’
‘No, I did not; I didn’t take my phone with me too. As a secret agent, I don’t go around with things that I could be easily traced with.’
‘Hmmm, I get you.’
‘Here,’ Dave pointed to something on the laptop.
She looked at the screen. There was a large map now being displayed and a green shaded circle covering a point.
‘The Chief should be right here,’ Dave said. ‘They’re hiding him somewhere in Igbede.’
‘Is that in Lagos State?’ Stephanie asked.
‘Yes, this is Lagos map. Igbede is a community close to Ajangbadi in Ojo.’
He let her stare at the map for some more time before speaking again. ‘The man was taken with his phone, the installation you made on it before you were attacked apart from recording his phone calls for us, enables us to track the location of the phone on earth at point in time even if it is switched off.’
‘That’s interesting,’ she glanced at Dave’s face. ‘So, do we give this information out to the police?’
‘Police? No,’ he stared at her face. ‘The Vice President controls the police through the Inspector General, we would handle it ourselves.’
‘How? Just the two of us?’ Stephanie asked.
‘Can’t you get the other people from your agency involved?’
‘That should have been the case, but sadly my colleagues have also been compromised.’
‘Are you sure we can go there alone?’
‘We won’t go alone, Samantha Osman would be there before us.’
‘I don’t understand,’ Stephanie frowned.
‘I’ll send her a message and give out their location. If she responds to it as expected and he’s truly her sponsor, she would be the one to go save the Chief.’
‘Oh!’ Stephanie was about to ask another question when a ring tone distracted her. ‘That’s my phone,’ she said as she got up and walked to the bed to pick it.
‘Hello,’ she said after answering the call. ‘Mom!’ she exclaimed as she turned back, her eyes filled with happiness as it met with Dave’s. ‘Are you just landing?’
‘I heard you are in Abuja,’ the mom said from the other end.
‘Oh yes..sss… I was in Abuja,’ she answered hesitatingly.
‘Oh! I landed in Abuja and I was wishing I’d meet you at the house.’
‘No mom, I left already but I’ll soon be back.’
‘It’s okay, I’ll see you later dear.’
‘Yes mom, Goodnight. It’s good to have you back.’
Stephanie heaved a sigh after the call ended and returned to the seat.
‘So, now that Madam Henrietta is back, would you like to return to Abuja tomorrow?’ Dave asked her.
Stainless pushed the door gently open and peeped in. He looked around the room, it was so dark and he couldn’t tell where Rex was seating but he was sure because he could smell the smoke from weed which filled the room.
‘What do you want Stainless?’
Stainless was startled by the voice. He looked towards the direction of the voice and was finally able to see a figure looking very dark from afar.
‘The man is now awake.’
‘Yes, I know he is. The effect of the drug should have expired.’
‘Ermm… Aren’t we doing anything to him tonight?’
‘We’d work on him from tomorrow, Chief Elvis Richards will be joining us.’
Tarasha followed behind the Doctor as they walked into the house. She dropped the box she was holding on the floor to close back the door before proceeding with it again. She had gone with the man to the former base and they had used the laboratory there to prepare different liquids and mixtures. Tarasha had done most of the job, the doctor only supported. He wasn’t a lab scientist or expert in mixing and preparing poisonous substances but was helpful to her due to his ability to use the lab tools and his medical knowledge.
They met Cole sleeping on the long sofa in the living room. He stirred and sat up as he heard them approaching him.
Tarasha stopped at the middle of the living room and stared at him as he stretched and yawned while the doctor proceeded into his own room. She didn’t need to ask him why he was sleeping in the living room. She knew he hadn’t been sleeping in the room meant for him and Tomi and since Dr Ekwueme whose room he shared wasn’t around, he must have decided to use the living room.
‘I got your text message, can you explain more to me?’ Tarasha asked.
‘It’s a message from Dave James, he sent a location to us and claimed that Chief Nonso was taken there.’
‘Isn’t that the Secret Agent who works like a journalist?’
‘Yes, he sent the message as a journalist who was providing information to us, he doesn’t know we know who he is yet. He wants us to be at the location tomorrow morning. Ermm… I mean today actually.’
‘Let’s see the message,’ she said and marched towards the direction of the computer room. Cole followed her. ‘Do you think he’s saying the truth?’
‘I think so, from the footages, two Desert Reporters Journalists were present in the Chief’s house when he was kidnapped, a male and a female. I think Dave James was the one disguised as the male.’
‘We’d have to confirm that,’ Tarasha said as she opened the computer room door.
Chapter 15 part 9 &10
‘Boss, Boss,’ Cole called twice to get Tarasha’s attention where they sat in the computer room.
Her eyes turned to him but she didn’t look startled even though she had previously been staring like someone who was lost in deep thoughts.
She raised her eyebrows at him when he stopped talking after calling her attention.
‘So, what are we going to do? The stature of the guy in those footages is exactly the journalist’s stature, we’re sure he’s the one who was with the Chief before the abduction, we also saw someone with Rex’s stature.’
‘I’m trying to be as careful as possible, it would be foolish for us to fall into a trap at this stage. It could be the end of the road for us,’ Tarasha replied.
Cole sighed and rested his back. They remained in silence for almost five minutes.
‘Okay, we would reply his message while we start the move to Lagos. I’m trying to be sure he’s not working for the Vice President too.’
‘So, what do we send back to him in reply and how do we move to Lagos?’
‘You should book the next available flight for all of us while I handle the message,’ she said to him and turned back immediately to the computer to begin work.
IGBEDE, LAGOS STATE.
Chief Nonso shivered in the room as cold breeze blew in through the opened window. He opened his eyes and looked around. He was still on the same chair with his hands and legs fastened with ropes and his mouth covered with a tape. He stared at the window for a while, trying to guess what time of the day it was. It was turning bright already but the sun wasn’t out yet.
Another gentle wind blew in again and after it followed the sound of water droplets on the ground. Chief Nonso was now beginning to perceive the smell of rain. Soon the winds began to rush in more violently as a sign of a coming heavy rain. It continued for some minutes before Stainless walked into the room and went straight to the window to close it. He walked out back without saying anything to the Chief. Just as he closed the door with a loud bang, the rains began to pour down heavily
Twenty minutes later, Stainless returned into the room with another man. The lights in the room were turned on and the dark place became very bright. Rex dragged a chair to the front of the man and sat down.
‘Good morning Chief,’ he greeted in a cool voice.
Chief Nonso stared at him without blinking. He recognized Rex as the man who ordered him into the car the day before.
‘I see you have no time for unnecessary formalities, so I’d go straight to business.’ Rex said and adjusted his seating position. ‘We have a deal for you, it’s either you agree and go free or disagree and pay heavily for it.’ Rex paused to get a response from the man but the Chief remained mute. Rex got up from his seat and placed his feet on a little space on the man’s seat, he rested his arms on the knee of the leg placed on the seat and leaned forward o look into the man’s eyes. ‘Well, we want you to deliver Samantha Osman to us, how easy would it be for you to do that?’ Rex paused again to get a response from the man but still got none, he was getting angry already but tried his best to maintain his calmness.
He placed his feet back to the ground and took in a very deep breath. He walked some steps away from the man to the left side of the room and faced the wall. ‘I want you to realize that you do not only stake your own life but that of your wife and children and even your extended family’s life.’
Chief Nonso was shaken a bit by the threat but he tried to hold himself in. He remembered what was done to Chief Onwuli, how the man was killed and his whole family was wiped out after him. He couldn’t imagine the same happening to him but he knew that the same person who ordered Chief Onwuli’s death was still as wicked as ever and would not mind wiping out his family just like his abductor threatened.
‘Who are you and who sent you all these?’ Chief Nonso finally spoke out.
Rex turned back and faced him. ‘I’m out to stop Samantha Osman, bring Samantha Osman to me and I would let you and your family be.’
Chief Nonso gasped out. He didn’t know whether to believe his abductor’s words or not.
‘What are you considering? If I would keep to my words?’ Rex asked, raising his upper lips in scorn. ‘You have no choice, no one knows you’re here and no one can save you.’
‘I have to be go**** sure that you will fulfill your part of the bargain before I agree,’ Chief Nonso slammed angrily.
‘Calm down Mister, I could have chosen to force out the location from you but I chose to give you a choice.’ Rex said as he walked back to his seat and sat down.
Chief Nonso pondered on the matter for a while and concluded in his heart that it was better to give in than risk the lives of his family members.
He looked up and stared at Rex’s face. ‘But the truth is I do not know where she is right now, I don’t even have an idea.’
‘But you can help us bring her to a location we want,’ Rex said with an evil smile.
Rex turned back and flashed a quick look at Stainless. Stainless moved closer at once and took out two phones, he handed them to Rex and stepped back.
‘In which of them do you have Samantha Osman’s number stored?’
Chief Nonso pointed to his own phone, the second one was the female journalist’s phone which he had picked from the floor in his house.
‘Our first task for you is to call her and tell her to deny all her allegations against the Vice President,’ Rex said and got up to his feet to help the man take off the ropes fastening him to the chair. It took Rex a minute to take off the rope binding the man’s hands off but he still left the ones binding the legs. He handed the phone to the man and returned to his seat. He turned to Stainless and made a signal, Stainless understood and quickly walked to stay behind the man to monitor the call.
‘I’m not sure if I would be able to reach her,’ Chief Nonso said, still waiting for the phone which he had just powered on to finish loading.
Rex raised his eyebrows, demanding for reasons the man was speaking of possible inability to reach Samantha.
‘She has only called me twice on this number, but it never connects when I try to reach her.’ The Chief explained.
‘Is that the only phone number she uses?’
‘That’s the only one I have.’
Chief Nonso placed the phone on loud speakers for the two of them to listen. His call was directed to voice mail.
‘Drop a voice mail if her number wouldn’t connect and send a text message after the voice mail, she would get one of the both,’ Rex said.
AJANGBADI, LAGOS STATE.
‘Palace Hotel!’ Dave shouted out loud, calling unto a passing cab. The cab which speed had been slowed for him sped off immediately the driver heard the location. It only meant one thing, the driver was going to the location or anywhere close by it.
Dave heaved a sigh and shook his head. He was totally drenched already with the rain water and it was still pouring down on him but he refused to leave the road side and join Stephanie where she was hiding under the balcony roof of a closed shop. Stephanie had asked that they waited until the rain intensify reduced but Dave wasn’t willing to wait, he needed to get to the hotel as quick as he could so that he could check his mail for Samantha Osman’s response and also check the flight bookings of Abuja to Lagos to see if he would notice her movement. He knew it was possible for her not to be coming from Abuja, so he had already made plans on how to get an overview of those who lands in a flight to Lagos that day from any state.
Fifteen minutes later, a cab going to his destination finally stopped by. He beckoned on Stephanie as he opened the front door of the cab and entered, Stephanie quickly walked into the rain from her hiding place and entered into the car. They got to the hotel not too after and were lodged into two separate rooms close to each other like the first. Both of them settled in their individual rooms and began to do their different works.
It took some few minutes for Dave to set up his laptop. The first notification he received after setting up the laptop was the email reply he was expecting. He eagerly opened it, thinking that she had accepted his offer but he was disappointed with the reply he saw.
‘Mr. Dave James,
I kidnapped the only Chief Nonso Abel yesterday as the news reports, which other Chief’s location are you reporting to me?’
Dave paused for some minutes to think. He couldn’t understand what game she was trying to play. After a while he realized that she must be doubting the location he sent to her and his claim to know how the man was kidnapped. He clicked on the compose tool and began to type in a reply to her.
I know you didn’t kidnap the Chief, and I know how that the known signature is not yours. The location I provided you is real and I hope that you do act before it’s too late.’
He proofread the message after typing before he sent. He stared at the screen for a while after the message was sent, expecting an instant reply from her but he realized he wasn’t chatting and that it could take her several hours to see the message.
He felt a growling sound in his stomach and he knew that it was his body crying to get some food. He got up from his seat and proceeded to the bed to get his phone. He wanted to call Stephanie and ask what she wanted to take for breakfast.
A call came in just as he was about to dial Stephanie’s number.
‘Hey! Agent Dan, Morning.’ He saluted his colleague.
‘Morning sir,’ the caller replied in the same tone as his. ‘How are you doing this morning?’
‘I’m fine, how about you?’
‘I’m fine, and what about your girlfriend, is she better now?’
‘Yes, she is even though she’s yet to regain her memory but the doctor says its only temporal.’
‘That’s sad, but I pray she gets perfect soon.’
‘Alright bro, hope you remember you are to resume work tomorrow,’ Dan said.
‘Oh! Yea… I do,’ Dave replied, sounding not too happy to be remembered. ‘I’ll see you at work tomorrow.’
‘Okay, safe trip.’
Dave heaved a sigh after the call ended. He wasn’t planning to return to Abuja before the next day and there was no way he would resume work. His job was at stake and he knew it. The only way he could get permission to stay more was if he reported to the office that he got a good lead or headway on the present case and he had to remain there to investigate further. If the chairman accepts his lead or headway as good enough, he would be permitted to stay for as long as it takes to solve the case but would have to send reports every forty eight hours to the office and might also be sent people to work with him. His major fear was that the person or persons sent to him would be like Dan who would have been compromised with money.
A message ringtone sounded on his laptop before he could think of dialing Stephanie’s number again. He dropped the phone and quickly walked back to the laptop, he had gotten a reply from Samantha Osman.
Meet by five am tomorrow before at Newton’s College in Okokomaiko.’
A worried look appeared on Dave’s face after reading the new message. It was obvious Samantha Osman still did not believe him. He took some minutes to think of what to do and decided to send her another message.
‘Tomorrow might be late, the man’s life is in danger.’ he typed and sent. He placed his elbows on he table, one on each side and buried his face in his palms. A reply came to his message in less than a minute.
‘In whose custody is the man?’
He began to type his own reply immediately. ‘He was kidnapped by the same man who killed Senator Garuba Ahmed and Mr Eze Okafor.’ he paused for a minute to read through again before clicking on send.
‘I killed both men, what are you talking about?’ her reply came seconds after. The conversation was becoming more like an instant messenger chat.
‘I believe you didn’t kill them, the real person who killed them just kidnapped Chief Nonso.’
‘Mr. Dave James, see you at Newton’s College tomorrow morning.’
‘I insist that tomorrow morning might be too late,’ Dave typed in and sent.
He waited to get a response like the previous ones but stayed for ten minutes without getting any. He placed his forehead on the table beside the laptop and was about sleeping off when he heard a knock at the door.
‘Come in,’ he said and turned towards the door, thinking that it was a room service agent.
The door opened slowly and Stephanie walked in. She closed the door and stopped just behind it.
‘You were not answering your calls,’ she said and began to walk towards him slowly.
‘Oh! You called him,’ Dave asked with his eyebrows raised. He got up from his seat and got up to look for his phone. He discovered that he had tossed it under the pillow and that had muffled the sound of the ringtone. He had also gotten two missed calls from Lizzy.
‘Aren’t you going to get something to eat this morning?’
‘I would of course, I already thought about coming to ask what you would like to take but I’ve been waiting to receive the reply from Samantha Osman.’ Dave answered as he walked back to the seat.
Stephanie sat at the edge of the bed and crossed her feet. ‘Is it possible that she didn’t receive the message yesterday?’
‘She did, I’ve gotten a reply to yesterday’s message already and I’ve exchanged a couple of messages with her during the last thirty minutes.’
‘So what did she say?’
Dave remained quiet for a while. He refreshed the email application to see if it was network delaying the entrance of her reply.
‘She wants to meet me tomorrow morning in a school at Okoko,’ Dave replied.
‘Oh!’ Stephanie’s eyes turned bright. ‘Would we go together?’
Dave glanced at her briefly and then looked at the computer screen again to check if any message had entered.
‘Are we going together?’ Stephanie asked again.
‘Steph, I’m not sure if I would go yet.’
‘You won’t go?’ Stephanie asked in a disappointed tone.
‘Yes, I won’t. It’s dangerous, I don’t know what she could have in plans for me.’
‘But we’re trying to help her by telling her how to help the Chief.’
‘She doesn’t know that yet and even if she does, she still remains a criminal and a very dangerous one at that.’
‘So what do we do?’
‘I don’t know, I’m still thinking about it.’
‘The bags are ready Boss,’ Cole reported to Tarasha in the computer room. He was dressed in a shiny white Hausa attire and a cap to fit. He had new beards on is chin to further aid his disguise.
Tarasha was also dressed like a Hausa woman and had inscribed some marks on her face. She was working on the laptop in front of her. A small cubic box scanner was by the side and some books and documents by the side. The documents includes the documents given to her by Chief Gab, some of those given to her by Senator Garuba Ahmed and those she got from her several investigations.
‘The flight is in an hour time,’ she said to Cole. ‘I still have one more book to scan,’ she added as she took out her mother’s diary from the arranged books. She took a look at the diary and tried to estimate the number of pages it had in her mind. She typed in 100 as a command using the scanning machine buttons and opened the box. She flipped open the first page of the diary and place the book into the box.
‘Is Dr Ekwueme also ready?’ Tarasha asked Cole.
‘Yes,’ Cole replied.
They had all planned to travel as one family disguised as an Hausa family with Dr Ekwueme acting as the father. Their flight was scheduled for 11AM.
Tarasha who had not taken more than two hours sleep had taken time to plan out their activities, that was after spending about an hour to study the map and pictures of the location which was sent to the email address by the journalist.
‘This is the last on the scan queue,’ she said to Cole who was staring at the computer screen. She looked at the progress level of the scan and saw that it remained five minutes for the scan to be completed.
The door to the room opened and Henry walked in and proceeded to Tarasha. He was also dressed in the Hausa native attire and also had beards attached to his chin.
‘Tara, the Vice President would be travelling to Lagos today.’ Henry said as he approached the both of them.
She looked up quickly and kept her gaze on his face. ‘When is he leaving?’
‘Three pm, he’s going on the Presidential Private Jet.’
‘What about the Inspector General?’ Tara asked.
‘I don’t have any update about him yet, he’s still in his house.’
Tara paused to think for a few minutes. By the time she was done, the diary had been completely scanned into the computer system. She plugged her USB cable to the port and connected it to her phone. Then she converted the scanned diary document into a PDF file before sending it into the phone’s memory card.
‘We’d have to change our plans, we don’t need to check that location anymore, we’d wait for the Vice President’s arrival into Lagos instead and we’d track him and take him at the right opportunity.’
‘We want to kidnap the Vice President?’
‘Yes, that’s the best way to go.’ Tara replied him boldly.
‘But that’s like attempting suicide,’ Henry said shakily. He glanced at Cole’s face and then looked back at Tara. It was obvious he was terribly afraid.
‘We got to move now,’ Tara said and rose up quickly from the seat. She dragged the books and files in a big bag she picked from under the table and quickly zipped the bag. She handed the bag to Cole and sat back to shut down the computer system.
‘Dave, you haven’t answered my question,’ Steph said, looking at his face intently. She was seated at the right hand side of the car while Dave was driving. They were both dressed in black tops and face caps. Stephanie had a camera hung around her neck and a dark goggles on. She had put on everything only based on Dave’s instructions but without understanding why she did. She had asked him but he promised to answer her questions while they were on the way.
‘Which of the questions?’ Dave glanced at her.
‘I asked you why we are dressed this way and where we are going to,’ she replied.
‘We’re putting on black tops because we represent the same media house and we’re going to welcome someone at the airport,’ Dave replied.
‘Yes, the Vice President would be arriving by three o’clock.’
‘And why does he need us to welcome him? What would welcoming him do to us?’ she asked in an angry tone. She was not too happy that she would be taking pictures of the Vice President as Dave made it seem like.
‘He’s coming to Lagos to check the new General Hospital on behalf President.’
‘And what is our business with that?’
Dave smiled at her. ‘It is the role of journalists to cover every news they can.’
She shook her head sadly and heaved a sigh.
‘Don’t worry Steph, it’s not like you think.’ Dave reassured with a smile.
‘Then it’s what?’ Stephanie frowned. ‘I don’t understand all this and I even thought the launch of the hospital was supposed to be tomorrow.’
‘Yes, it is by eleven a.m. tomorrow but the Vice President chose to come here tonight instead of taking the morning flight tomorrow.’
‘Then why are we going there?’
Dave glanced at her. The smile on his face disappeared, he had expected her to understand at that point but he remembered that she wasn’t an investigator like him and wasn’t trained to think like him.
‘Steph, the Vice President’s decision to arrive here today means he has something to do here in the little hours he would spend before 11am tomorrow and what he likely wants to do is check Chief Nonso who he had ordered to be kidnapped.’
‘Oh!’ Stephanie exclaimed and let out a breath. She rested her back on the seat and closed her eyes. She realized that Dave was on the right path.
Lagos international Airport
‘He’s coming out of the plane already,’ Dave said to Stephanie was stayed close to the door of the room.
Dave was at the window side, with his hands holding a device at the front of his eyes as he viewed the landing ground from his position.
‘What do we do next?’ Stephanie asked as she proceeded towards him.
‘I’ll give the instructions as we go,’ Dave replied. He stepped away from the window and tried to fold the sighting device he just used but Stphanie stopped him.
‘Can I view with this please?’ she asked, pointing to the device.
‘It’s okay,’ Dave answered and gave her the device. He made way for her to the stay at window side. ‘Just thirty seconds please.’
‘Okay,’ Stephanie replied and placed the device in front of her eyes. She continued to move the direction until she located the Vice President and his escorts where the plane was. She tried to count the number of men on black suits beside the president but couldn’t because of the time. She was about to take the device off her eyes when she saw something that caught her attention. She looked again and met a very big surprise.
A lady was standing beside the Vice President and smiling as she greeted those who came to welcome the man. It was Madam Henrietta.
‘Cole, it’s time to move,’ Tarasha said into the communication device as she walked down the balcony.
She was dressed in all black, a uniform for the airport’s security officials. She had light makeup on and had a wig covering her short hair. She had seen the Vice President and his escorts coming out of the plane, and was trying to get to the public car park before they got to theirs. She had counted the number of escorts with the Vice President and knew it would be impossible to kidnap the man immediately, the only option left was to trail the man and watch until he was left with very little security officers around him. She was however sure that the man would have in his plans to visit Rex in the location where Chief Nonso had been kept and she knew he would not be able to go with so many security officers to avoid arousing suspicions.
‘Over here boss,’ Cole beckoned to her from afar. He had already driven the car out of the parking space.
Tarasha hurried to join Cole. She could see the car carrying the Vice President and his escorts already moving and she knew they wouldn’t be allowed to drive out until all the presidential cars had driven out.
She joined Cole in the front seat and Cole turned towards the gate immediately. It took the Vice President and his escort’s cars a minute to drive out and Cole had to wait until they did. They noticed a car following closely behind. Both Tarasha and Cole looked briefly into the rear mirror and saw two people seated in the car behind, they looked away without paying much attention and followed in direction of the Vice Preside nt’s cars as they got out of the airport land.
‘That guy driving is fast,’ Dave said to Stephanie who was seated by his side in the car. ‘I was thinking that we’d be the ones to follow the Vice President directly.’
‘The person might probably be in a hurry to get to his destination,’ Stephanie replied calmly with an innocent look. She stared at the camera still hung on her neck and wondered why they had come with it without making any use of it.
Dave caught her staring and decided to answer her unvoiced questions. ‘The Vice President made no stop, so there was no need to capture him. I saw a representative of Desert Media House already with one of those taking pictures so there was no need to join again.’
Stephanie shrugged and spread out her arms in a nonchalant manner. She wasn’t in anyway excited about taking the Vice president pictures, the only thing that had made her want to go nearer was Madam Henrietta who she saw with him.
Dave glanced at her face briefly. He noticed she isn’t looking cheerful in anyway and that’s it’s beyond the pictures which they did not take. He had noticed the change in her demeanor right after he allowed her look through the sighting device but he had thought it was her hatred for Vice President that had changed her mood and now he expected it to have faded away.
‘Steph, is there something wrong? You’ve not been the same since you used the telescope device,’ he finally asked.
She looked at his face briefly and made a hum sound as she rested her head against the headrest of the seat. She wondered why she was hiding it from him. It wasn’t because she was so confused about what Madam Henrietta was doing with the Vice President but she was feeling somehow ashamed that her foster mother was associated with someone as terrible as Chief Elvis.
‘Are you not going to talk with me?’ Dave pressed.
She sighed. ‘Didn’t you see any lady standing with Chief Elvis?’
‘A Lady?’ Dave squinted. ‘I think I noticed one but I didn’t give that any attention.’
‘You didn’t look at her face?’
‘No, I didn’t.’
‘It was Madam Henrietta,’ Stephanie gaped out.
Dave frowned a while, trying to assimilate her words. Then he stared at her face and raised a brow. ‘Madam Henrietta? What was she doing there?’
‘I don’t know and I can’t even imagine. I never knew she had any personal contact with the Vice President.’
‘That’s strange,’ Dave said shaking his head with a thoughtful look on his face.
There was silence for a while. They continued to follow in the direction the Vice President went until they got to a flyover. The cars carrying the Vice President and his escorts drove up the flyover while the car directly in front of them continued on the low land.
‘I thought you were going to take the flyover,’ Stephanie stared at Dave’s face. She was wondering why Dave had taken the low road. She was now even more anxious to trail the Vice President than Dave was himself.
‘The Vice President is driving in direction of the Presidential quarters, which could be his destination.’
‘So we don’t need to follow him anymore?’
Yes, we don’t. We’d just meet him from the front,’ Dave replied.
‘I don’t understand what you’re trying to do, this route you’re taking is longer and even if they are driving to the Presidential quarters, they would get there in nothing less than ten minutes before us.’
That’s wrong,’ Dave said with a smile on his lips. ‘That route is truly the quickest to the quarters but by this time of the day, there would be a little bit of traffic jam on the way. I’ll be passing through the streets here and would be on the other side before them.’
‘Well, if you say so.’ She shrugged.
The car in front of them turned into another road and they followed sharply.
‘Boss, this vehicle has been following us from the airport,’ Cole said to Tarasha, looking at the rearview glass.
‘I’ve noticed that and I’m watching closely,’ she replied.
‘Do you think someone is aware of our presence in Lagos?’
‘I don’t think anyone apart from Dave James is aware, except a member of our team has sold us out again.’
‘Can Dave James be aware?’ Cole asked with a doubtful tone.
‘The possibility is one percent, the only way he could be aware was if he knew about our flight this morning but I still don’t want to strike it out.’
‘These guys are following us, I’m sure’ Cole said staring intently at the rearview mirror.
‘We got to find out if they are,’ Tarasha said. She pulled out her gun and put a cartridge into it. She took out a dark eye glasses from her bag and put it on. Then she adjusted the side mirror to enhance visibility of what she wanted to see. ‘Maintain the fast lane, put on the indicator and slow down the speed.’
‘Huh?’ Cole widened his eyes at her. ‘I have to move to the slow lane to indicate before reducing my speed.’
‘No, do it on this lane. I’m the one holding the gun, ‘ she insisted.
Cole tried to reason it out but he couldn’t still understand what she was trying to do. He had no choice than to obey her. He turned on the indicator and reduced his speed. The car metres behind them which maintained it’s own speed turned slowly to the other side and began to level up with them.
Tara held her gun tightly as she looked into the side mirror. She could see the driver now and the girl beside him, there was nothing suspicious about them and there was no sign that they were coming after them.
‘What the f***!’ Dave exclaimed as he saw the indicating lights at the back of the car in front of theirs. ‘What is that driver trying to do?’
‘Where’s he trying to move to?’ Stephanie joined in, also wondering why the car was slowing down.
‘Something may be wrong with the car, he was driving well up until now’ Dave said and slowed down until he was able to overtake a car driving slower at the other lane.
He increased his speed and soon got to the same point as the blue car. His eyes met with the two people in front of the car but lingered more on the lady’s face.
‘I don’t know what they’re trying to do,’ Dave said to Stephanie as they drove past and overtook the blue car. He had a frown on his face as he realized the lady looked like somebody he had met before.
‘That lady looks like someone I’ve seen before,’ Stephanie said in a thoughtful tone.
Dave turned to her sharply. ‘She looks familiar to you too?’
‘I can’t really say if I’ve seen her before, maybe I’m just imagining things,’ she said and shook her head, trying to shake off the thought.
Tarasha’s shoulders dropped and she released her grip from the gun after the car drove past them. She let out a breath and rested her back.
‘Boss, that guy is Dave James,’ Cole said to her in a surprise tone.
‘And the girl is Stephanie George, they’re following the Vice President like we are,’ Tarasha added in a baffled tone, wondering what Stephanie George was doing with Dave.
‘Stephanie George?’Cole echoed. The name didn’t sound familiar in any way to him.
‘Yes, Steph George.’ Tarasha repeated.
‘Boss, does he recognize your real look?’ Cole questioned.
‘No, he doesn’t but he may recognize this exact look, I used this same disguise when I visited the SSS office in Anambra.’
‘So should we continue in the same direction now that we know where he’s going to?’
‘Is there another route to the place?’
‘If we’re to take any other route, it’ll take us a longer time to get there.’
‘Hmm,’ Tarasha paused to think. Cole had moved to the slow lane now and Dave’s car had gone far ahead of theirs.
Tarasha’s phone made a beep sound and she took it out. She had received a message from Chief Gab.
‘Please take back your accusations against the Vice President, that’s the only way to ensure Chief Nonso’s safety.’
The message totally changed the subject of her thoughts. She could have published their blackmail on the blog but didn’t want to cause a situation where Chief Nonso would be killed angrily.
She dialed Chief Gab’s number.
‘Hello, Tarasha,’ the call was answered without delay.
‘Chief Gab, why do you think taking down the allegations would make them release your friend.’
‘That’s the only way Tara. Nonso called me earlier and told me that they already issued a warning to you and if you don’t publicly declare the allegations as wrong in about thirty hours, he would be killed. I’ve also thought about it and I think that it’ll be the best option for us.’
‘We won’t have to wait till thirty hours Chief, Chief Nonso’s fate would be decided before the end of today.’ Tarasha replied.
‘How would you do that? Do you know where they took him to?’
‘Did he tell you where he was taken to?’ Tarasha asked.
‘No, he doesn’t know where he was taken to.’
‘I’ll get back to you tomorrow morning Chief,’ Tarasha said before the call ended.
Cole flashed a look at her face expecting her to give him new instructions, he was sure the plan must have changed.
‘Do you know the road to Igbede?’ she asked.
‘Yes, I do.’ Cole answered and paused to check his wristwatch. ‘We might encounter traffic jam if we decide to go there now, it’ll take us approximately two hours to get there.’
‘Let’s go back to the lodge first, we need Henry with us.’
Twenty Minutes Later.
‘So what do we do next now that we’ve confirmed that this is their destination?’ Stephanie asked Dave. It was few minutes after they watched the Vice President and his entourage drive into the presidential lodge.
‘We’dgo back to the hotel and monitor the rest of his movement through the security cameras,’ Dave replied her almost inaudibly; he had taken a bite from an apple and was munching the fruit in his mouth noisily.
‘Security Cameras? How are we going to do that?’
‘Leave that to me Steph,’ Dave replied, not giving her much attention. His focus was on the apple. ‘Do you realize we haven’t had lunch today?’
‘Yes, I know.’
‘Aren’t you hungry?’ He flashed a funny look at her and placed his gaze on the remaining apples in the nylon place on her lap.
Stephanie sighed. She was hungry but was eager to find out first what Madam Henrietta was doing with the Vice President.
‘If it’s about Madam Henrietta, I would advise you to relax. There’s no way we’re going to find out what she’s doing with the man, we can’t find out today, it’ll take another process, but a simple one.’ Dave said before taking another apple from the nylon. ‘I think you should call and talk to her, greet her warmly and ask where she is.’
Stephanie stretched her hand to the backseat and picked a bag from there. She was about to return the bag when Dave spoke.
‘Can I have my tab please?’ he requested. She took out his tablet device and handed it over to him before returning the bag to the backseat. Dave unlocked the device to use it while Stephanie made the call.
‘Hello mum,’ Stephanie said into the phone.
‘Hi Daughter, how are you?’
‘I’m fine, how about you mum?’
‘I’m fine too.’
‘So… Mum, where are you now?’
‘Erm… Why do you ask?’ Madam Henrietta questioned instead of giving an answer.
‘Well, I just feel like knowing.’
‘Okay, I’m at a friend’s place.’
‘Oh! Which of your friends?’ Stephanie asked again.
‘You don’t know him Steph, maybe I’ll introduce you to him soon.’
‘Okay, I was just wondering, you never told me of any friend you have in Abuja and…he’s even a male.’
‘Do you have any problem with that Steph?’ the woman’s voice sounded cold.
‘No Mum, not at all. I was planning to return to Abuja soon, that’s why I called.’
‘Tomorrow? We may not get to see hen because I’m leaving Abuja tomorrow morning.’
‘Wow! What if I start the journey this evening and get there very early tomorrow morning.’
‘There’s no need to do that, I’ll also be leaving very early and we won’t have time to talk.’
‘Okay Mum, say hi to your friend for me.’
The call ended and Stephanie let out a breath, she locked the phone and threw it carefully to the backseat. She then looked at Dave whom she was expecting to have made a comment. Dave was so busy with the tab and he seemed not to be aware of her presence anymore.
‘What are you doing?’ She asked.
It took him sometime before he replied her. He seemed to be lost in deep thoughts and Stephanie wondered what he had seen on the device just few seconds ago that made him thoughtful.
‘There’s a little shift,’ Dave said in a dragging tone. ‘Samantha Osman has arrived already and would try to rescue Chief Nonso this night.’
Stephanie widened her eyes in surprise, ‘I thought you said she would be meeting with you tomorrow morning.’
‘Yes, she said so but she didn’t tell me of her plans to be here tonight. I just saw her message now requesting for me to send her the data I’m using to track the Chief.’
‘Are you going to send it to her?’
‘No, how can I?’
Stephanie stared at him with a look of confusion. ‘I don’t understand, I thought you wanted to help her save Chief Nonso.’
‘Yes, I wanted to save Chief Nonso but you should remember that I am a government official, I shouldn’t be caught giving information to a criminal.’
‘How would you get caught?’
Dave glanced at her with a light smile on his lips and shook his head. ‘There are lots of things that you cannot understand about my job,’ he said and took out a small phone from his pocket. ‘I think it’s time I get the SSS fully involved in this.’
‘Who was that?’ Chief Elvis asked Madam Henrietta who was seated on a sofa in front of him.
‘Stephanie,’ she answered and pulled her gown as she adjusted her seating position. The man was not in the living room when the call came in and he had entered the living room to see her speaking on phone.
‘The poor girl, I hear she leads a group of activists in her school now.’
‘Yes, she does.’
Chief Elvis chuckled, ‘Just like her father, I pray she doesn’t end up like him.’
‘I pray so too,’ Madam Henrietta said. ‘I’ve tried so many times to warn her but she always refuses to listen. I’ve come to see her as my own daughter and I love her so much.’
‘I understand you, after being with her for so many years and bringing her up, you would definitely develop a strong attachment to her.”
She sniffed in cool air and smiled lightly.
‘Well, she’s not the reason you are here.’ Chief Elvis said and adjusted his seating position. ‘There are some documents I’ve been looking for and I don’t know if you have any idea of where they are.’
‘What documents could you need from me?’ She asked with a raised eyebrow.
‘Hey Boss, there’s an important text message here,’ Stainless said as he entered into Rex’s room.
Rex glanced at him with a nonchalant look. Stainless marched towards him with Chief Nonso’s phone in his hands.
‘That Chief tried to reach our hostage some minutes ago via call, but I cut the call and asked him to send a message instead. He sent a message thinking that Chief Nonso was the one with the phone.
Rex looked at Stainless with the side eye and stretched out his hand to take the phone, hoping that the message Stainless was excited about was really worth it.
‘Tarasha is coming soon, I think she knows your location and she would make you free by tonight.’
‘That Chief Gabriel sent this message?’ Rex asked, flashing a look at Stainless.
‘Yes, he did.’
Rex returned the phone to Stainless. ‘The other Chief is not in Nigeria, the only way Samantha could have gotten this location is by tracking that phone in your hand.’
Stainless remained mute.
‘You leave it with me here and move the man to the other facility we have in this town. I’ll wait for Samantha here, I already have enough weapons set up for her destruction.’
Stainless bowed and smiled evilly. He dropped the phone on the table in front of Rex and proceeded out of the room.
‘Hello, Vice President. You need to postpone your visit, I’m expecting another visitor.’
‘Who are you expecting?’ the Vice President replied in low tones from the other end.
‘Samantha Osman, it seems she found our location and she’s coming to us.’
‘Please don’t let her slip away this time,’ Chief Elvis pleaded.
‘She’d be dead the moment she gets into this building.’ Rex replied.
Cole is seated at the front seat with Henry who is driving the car. Tarasha is seated at the backseat and is busy with her tablet device.
‘Tara, I’m not still sure if we’re doing the right thing really.’ Henry said, looking at her face through the rearview mirror.
‘What’s making you doubt it?’ She asked and looked at his face briefly.
‘We don’t know how many guys we’re going to face where we are headed for,’ Henry said.
‘We’re not heading towards a barracks, we’d be able to take down all of them because we would catch them unawares.’
‘Unawares?’ Henry seemed a bit surprised. ‘How sure are you that we’re going to catch them unawares? That journalist who you sent the message, what if he works with the enemy and has told them of our coming.’
‘He doesn’t working with them, we caught him tailing the Vice President today, just like we were.’
‘Well, I don’t still trust him.’
‘If you don’t trust him, trust me.’ Tarasha replied and with that Henry gave in. She spoke again after some minutes of silence. ‘Make sure that you have your communication device on always, you should put on your earphone and mouthpiece before we step out of the car.’
‘Yes boss, I remember all the instructions,’ Henry replied.
‘How many minutes more do we have to get there Cole?’
Cole quickly checked the time on his phone. ‘Forty minutes more.’
‘It’s time to take a survey around the place,’ Tarasha said as she plugged an earpiece to her ear and clipped a mouthpiece beside a button on her shirt close to her mouth, Cole was also doing the same.
‘Okay, be careful,’ Henry replied, now putting on his communication pieces too.
He watched them step out of the car with his eyes full of fear. The weather was cold, but he felt hot. He felt like something terrible was about to happen.
Chapter 15 part 11&12
Cole leaned against a wall in the darkness to listen carefully. He had heard Tarasha’s voice from his earpiece but his fast walking steps had not let him pick the words she said.
‘Cole, where are you?’ the voice came again. She seemed to have repeated the question as she didn’t get an answer the first time.
‘Boss, behind the fence at the back.’
‘Have you seen anything yet?’
‘The whole place is dark, even the backyard of the compound is not lightened.’ Cole replied.
‘And you see no shadows at all?’
‘Yeah, not a single one.’
‘Now, that’s strange.’
‘Really strange boss.’
Tarasha on the other side was seating on the concrete footing of an electric pole on an elevated land and looking at the targeted house from there. All she could see was darkness like Cole had reported and she wondered why. She knew Rex should be expecting her. She tapped a button on a device hidden under her cloth to switch the communication link from Cole to Henry.
‘Henry, are you there?’
‘Yes, I am. Where are you?’
‘Just listen to me, in three minutes time, Chief Gab would be making a call, I want you to track the destination of the call and provide me the accurate details of the location.’
‘Okay Tara, I got you.’
She then disconnected her communication device temporarily and took out her phone. She dialed Chief Gab’s number and waited for him to answer.
‘Hello Chief, I want you to call Chief Nonso Abel again, and tell him we’re closer now.’
In the dark room, only Rex’s face could be seen due to the light from the computer screen reflecting on his face. He had three pistols on the table, one at the left hand side and the other two at the right hand.
He was expecting Tarasha and he knew she knew he was waiting for her. He had alarms set up for him to know the exact moment the gate of the fence was touched or when someone tries to climb over the fence from any side. His major weapon was the darkness which he ensured was around the building. It was the easiest way for a member of the Nefary Clan to kill its opponents especially if there was a gun and no hand battle was required. The darkness however posed some disadvantages to him. He was trying to monitor the surroundings with the security cameras but he couldn’t see what was going on in some dark places. He was however confident that the alarm set up would make up for the darkness. He had also put lasers to ensure that there would be no turning back once he notices a person entering the gate. He set up triggers of the laser at the grip of the gate where the person going out would unavoidably touch. The doors of the building were electrical doors and could only be opened from the outside. Once a person walks in through the door, there would be no going back because there was no way to open the door except someone else from outside opened it.
He rested his back in the chair and closed his eyes, trying to rest while he waited for any of the alarm go off. The ringing tone of a phone distracted his rest. He sat up and stretched his hand to get the phone. It was Chief Nonso’s phone.
He took the phone and stared at the screen carefully, Chief Gab was calling again. He knew there was something up his opponent sleeves for Chief Gab’s call to come in a second time. His finger hovered around the green button for a while before he finally answered. He placed the phone close to his ear and listened.
‘Chief Nonso, how far? Hope you’re still fine?’ the voice sounded.
There was a pause. The caller seemed to be waiting for an answer.
‘Be patient, I’m sure she’s very close to you already.’ the caller continued when no answer was coming forth. ‘In a few minutes, it’ll all be over.’
Rex remained in silence, his fingers working on the mouse of the computer in front of him.
The line went dead.
Rex dropped the phone back immediately. He wondered what was taking Samantha so long to attack but he knew that if she was really close like the Chief said, it was only a matter of minutes before she tried to attack and he was confident it wouldn’t take him time to finish her up in the darkness, not knowing she was aware that he was from the Tiger Clan and that she knew of their darkness tool.
‘Still in the same location Tara,’Henry’s voice sounded through the earpiece.
‘Has the call ended already?’ Tarasha replied.
‘Yes, it has.’
She fixed her gaze towards the building from where she was. It was still dark and there were no signs of anyone outside or in the house. She was however sure that Chief Nonso would have been moved from the place or would be used as bait for them.
She stared at the darkness for about five minutes more and there were still no signs of any forthcoming change. She knew there would be no other option than to go closer to the place instead of waiting, but as she made the move to rise up, something in her memory flashed through her mind. She could hear groans in her head, groans of her mentor queen on the night she fought with the assassin from the Tiger Clan. She remembered that the Queen was helpless in the darkness and was almost killed that night. It occurred to her that Rex must have a similar plan and it would be dangerous to move closer into the darkness.
‘Tara, Tara!’ Henry’s voice sounded suddenly in her earpiece.
‘Yes, speak up Henry.’ She replied.
‘I think we’ve got some visitors.’
‘Are you sure this is the right thing?’ Stephanie asked Dave, staring at him as he slowed down the vehicle.
They both had their faces partially covered with NIS masks. Dave was seated at the driver’s side and only Stephanie was in the car with him, however there were two SSS vehicles in front of them.
The SSS vehicles in front of them contained five officers each. Dave had called the NIS chairman and told him of his suspicions about Samantha Osman’s location and the Chairman in turn had ordered the SSS office in Lagos to provide support for him.
‘What are you not sure about?’ Dave asked Stephanie.
‘Everything, I mean everything we’re doing.’ She gaped. ‘Just look at me, is this right? I’m putting on the NIS mask without being an agent, won’t I be in trouble for this?’
‘No Steph, the only person who can get into trouble for this is me.’ Dave replied confidently. ‘Just follow the instructions I give to you and we’d be fine.’
Stephanie let out a gasp and shook her head tiredly, Dave was still repeating the same thing he had been saying to her.
‘But don’t you think Samantha Osman would believe we betrayed her?’
‘Years ago when I picked the NIS sign up form, I swore allegiance to the agency and my allegiance remain to them. I was so stupid to have sent her the location from the start.’
Stephanie stared at Dave in surprise, ‘I don’t understand you, how can you make such a turnaround in few hours?’
Dave shook his head. ‘You can’t understand me. The law knows no emotions or sympathy; it treats you like a criminal once you’re one.’
Stephanie sighed. ‘We should have never sent the location then, I don’t feel too good about this.’
‘She betrayed first,’ Dave said defensively. ‘She told me we would meet tomorrow morning, only for her to tell me that she’s on her way to the location.’
‘So that’s why you want to double cross her?’
‘No,’ Dave shook his head with his lips folded in. ‘I don’t have any business with her, the SSS is just here to save Chief Nonso Abel.’
Stephanie sighed. ‘I shouldn’t have come with you.’
‘Yea, you have the choice to return if you want to.’
‘Yes, I’m going back,’ Stephanie said and tried to take off the mask.
‘Don’t take that off yet until you’re out of this place.’ Dave warned and she stopped immediately. ‘I’ll drop once we get close to the location and you’d drive the car back to the hotel.’
‘Cole, we have to retreat now.’ Cole heard Tarasha’s voice sound in his ears.
‘Going back to the lodge?’ he asked.
‘Yea, the Vice President won’t be coming here like we expect. SSS officers are already around. I think the Agent tricked us,’ she replied.
‘Okay, where do we meet?’
‘Connect to Henry, he would send you his location.’
‘Agent, is the place surrounded yet?’ Dave said into the device as he watched Stephanie drive away in the car. He was walking hurriedly towards to join the other men who were at the front of the building they planned to invade.
‘The gate seems to be open, I’m going in with two other guys for a start, and you stay out and wait for the others.’ He got the reply through the earpiece.
‘Hey! Wait,’ Dave shouted as he could now see the officer at the gate from his distance. He was standing at the median and waiting for a clear way to cross to the other side.
The man at the gate had dropped the device already and seemed not to hear Dave’s shout. He pushed the gate open and stepped in gently, two other men followed him.
Rex got the first alarm finally and he raised his head quickly to look at the computer screen. He minimized the window and switched to the monitor cameras dashboard. He selected the footage for the camera covering the gate.
It was dark but he could still see the activities going on vividly because they were happening close to the camera. He felt disappointed as he saw the figures of three men walking in through the gate. They began to spread out tactically and began to move closer to the building itself, in a slow and careful manner.
He knew at once from the pattern of movement that it wasn’t a group led by Samantha Osman that had entered but he still believed that she must have pointed them there. His guess was that she was trying to play games with him and had invited the police to the location like she had done previously at a particular time. He minimized the opened window and opened the app which controlled the lightening of the building and the surroundings. He then turned on the lights of the front yard of the house.
The men froze for a second as the lights came on before looking and waving their guns around. They knew they were being watched by someone and the three of them exchanged looks amongst themselves. The one who led them in took out his communication device and said something into it.
Rex took a shot of one of the men and zoomed the picture in. He checked the shirt and noticed it was that the men were putting on one of the several kinds of SSS shirts. He shook his head angrily and in confusion. Now, he wasn’t sure anymore if it was Samantha Osman who brought them to him. He looked at the computer screen again, the three men who entered first had moved closer to the building and tried to hide under shadows while three others were coming in through the gate.
He opened the app for the lights again and turned all the lights on, eliminating shadows at every part of the house. He pushed his chair backwards with his bum and bent to pick something from under the table. He took out a long gun and two short ones. He put the short ones in his pocket and hung the long one on his right shoulder.
His hand reached for the mouse and he switched to the cameras monitor again. He then selected the stream from the camera covering the front of the gate from outside the compound. There was no one right in front of the gate but there were two cars, each one parked at either side of the fence.
He switched the camera to another one showing the left side area of the fence more clearly. The doors of the car were opened and the men sitting there had one leg out each, a sign of readiness for being called at anytime. A man was behind the boot of the car and was making a call. He looked familiar. Rex zoomed the video to see his face clearly. He recognized him, it was Dave James. Now Rex realized that Dave must have led the SSS officers to them. Then he also realized that he had made a mistake; not for sparing Dave’s life but for not thinking that Dave could find a way to track their location. Since he had seen no signs of Samantha Osman, he began to think that Dave could also be the one who had been pulling the Chief Gab’s trick. He dragged his mouse to the shut down option of the computer system and clicked on it, and then he picked his phone and marched out of the room.
‘I told you the Agent guy could double-cross us,’ Henry said to Tara as he drove the car with the other two in it.
Tarasha had just joined them in the car and was trying to take off her communication device from her body.
‘I didn’t trust him completely but we had no other option than to try the location given to us.’
‘We shouldn’t have told him we were coming,’ Henry replied.
‘I didn’t want to but I also didn’t want him to change his mind on meeting with me tomorrow morning. He could change his mind thinking that I would attack him because I attacked the location he gave to me without letting him know first.’
‘But haven’t we put Chief Nonso into more trouble now?’
MADAM HENRIETTA’S RESIDENCE IN LAGOS.
Chief Elvis sat in the sofa shaking his legs impatiently as he watched Madam Henrietta search through the carton and the folders in it. It was the fifth carton she was bringing out from her room that night. He would have joined her in the room but the place was so stuffy due to lack of use for days.
Chief Elvis stared at her impatiently. He wondered why she kept the documents in cartons, most of the papers were rusting already. She had claimed that she didn’t need most of them anymore and had only kept them for its sake.
‘Here, I think this is one of the documents you want,’ Madam Henrietta said to the Vice President after pulling out an old white file whose colour had changed to brown.
Chief Elvis readily stretched his hand to receive the file as she brought it to him. He collected it from her and opened immediately. His eyes scanned through for some minutes before he looked up again, this time with a deep frown on his face.
‘This isn’t what I need at all, ‘ he said as he stretched it forth back to her. ‘This one was given to you by George before he died. I need the one that was given to you after his death.’
‘The one that was given to me after his death?’ she frowned at him. ‘How could he have given me any document after he died?’
‘No, I didn’t say he gave it to you himself. It was given to you by his lawyer,’ The Vice President replied.
Madam Henrietta’s frown deepened, she seemed to be totally confused.
‘I sent men to George’s lawyer’s chamber, the lawyer is late now but my boys were able to check through the records in his place and found it written that the documents were handed over to you before the lawyer’s death because he trusted you as the woman in care of George’s only surviving daughter.’
‘Oh!’ She exclaimed, staring up at the ceiling for remembrance. ‘I think I recall now, the lawyer gave them to me,’ she gasped. ‘But…’ she paused to think.
‘But what?’ Chief Elvis was impatient.
‘I don’t think I’d be able to find them this night, you should go back home now, I’ll bring them to you before evening tomorrow.’
‘No, I have to get it now, anything could happen as long as they remain with you.’ Chief Elvis said in a loud and strong tone, shaking his head to show his seriousness.
He stared at her with a commanding look while she stared at him in a confused manner. She wondered why he didn’t ask for the documents several years ago when they were given to her and wondered what he needed them for. He seemed so desperate to get the document; she had told him that she would bring it to him at the residence but he insisted on following her to her house and now, he wasn’t going to return without getting it.
‘Would you stop staring at me and get me the documents?’ Chief Elvis barked at her when she kept staring at him on a spot without moving.
‘Okay, but you would have to be patient sir. I’m not sure I have the documents somewhere nearby,’ she said as she made her way into the house.
‘Just get to work immediately,’ he slammed at her.
He raised his wrist to check the watch. It was getting late already but he wasn’t bothered since he had nothing else to do that night, Rex had already asked him not to come any longer.
He began to hear the ringing tone of his phone. He looked back towards the door and saw his personal assistant who just entered into the living room bringing the phone to him. The assistant got to him and handed him the phone. He checked the screen, the caller’s ID was ‘Emergency’. It was Rex, he used the ID to save the number so as to avoid suspicions from anybody who sees his call records and number of times he conversed with that caller.
‘Hey,’ he said as he answered the call.
‘D–n you Chief, d–n you!’ Rex cursed. His voice sounded shaky, he was on a running motion.
‘Rex, b careful with your words, what’s the matter?’
‘The SSS officials have intervened, I have over ten of them here now, that d–n secret agent led them here…’ the line went dead.
‘Rex…’ the Chief called again before checking the phone’s screen. He quickly redialed the number and it began to ring but wasn’t answered. He tried two more times but it still wasn’t answered. Then he dialed the NIS chairman’s number.
‘Hello Chief, I’m surprised to get your call this night.’ The chairman replied in a friendly tone from the other end.
‘Why did you approve for your secret agent to bring other officers to attack my man?’
‘Huh? I didn’t approve anything of such.’
‘Then why did that silly agent of yours led ten men to my man.’
‘Ten men?‘ The man gasped. ‘I think that should be Dave, but he told me he needed men to invade a place he suspects Samantha Osman took Chief Nonso to.’
‘Oh! D–n it,’ Chief Elvis cursed angrily but he realized that the NIS chairman wasn’t aware yet that it wasn’t Samantha Osman that kidnapped Chief Nonso. ‘I told you to live anything about Samantha Osman to me, didn’t I? Let that secret agent of yours keep working without help, all we need from him are the secrets and things he finds out about Samantha Osman that can help us. And I think it’ll be proper to have him dead once everything is over.
‘I’m sorry sir, I never knew…’
‘Shh…’ the Vice President hushed him. ‘Don’t apologize yet, I won’t accept it, just do the right thing and make sure nothing happens to my man.’
Chief Elvis ended the call and immediately. He dialed Rex’s number again but it only rang without being answered. He heaved a sigh and rested his head on the headrest of the seat.
Rex had begun to hear the sound of someone’s footsteps coming closer to where he was when he stopped talking to Chief Elvis on phone and kept away the phone without concluding the conversation with the man.
He leaned back against the wall less than half meter to the opened doorway, he was sure the person coming must have heard his voice while talking on phone. He held his gun up as he saw the shadow on a man formed on the ground right in front of the opened door. From the movement of the shadow, he could tell the man was walking carefully.
He carefully timed the man’s movement as the shadow turned towards the room. He grabbed the man by the neck just as he took a step in and hit the back head of the man with the gun. Another man rushed out from the opposite room at that moment and Rex sent him to the ground with a quick bullet into his chest. He dropped the first man to the floor and proceeded out of the room. He still had more of them to kill.
Dave was alert with his gun behind the car, ready for the moment he would get an instruction from those who had gone into the building. He believed he had made the right choice by choosing to come get Chief Nonso himself, he was foolish to have tried to work with Samantha Osman, an hardened criminal would always be one and reason like one even if you tried to show them mercy.
His attention was distracted as his phone began to ring. He knew the caller was he NIS chairman because he had a special customized ring tone for the man. He took out the phone hesitatingly and answered the call.
‘Dave James, call your men back now!’ the chairman’s voice sounded rough and serious.
‘Sir… We can’t do that right now.’
‘Dave, call your men back right now. I’m not ready to listen to any excuses,’ the man replied in a strong tone and ended the call immediately.
He took out his communication device to speak with the lead SSS officer. ‘Sir, Agent DJ over here, is there any progress yet?’ he said into the mouthpiece and waited for an answer. He spoke again after fifteen seconds without getting any response, ‘I repeat, Agent DJ on the line, what position are you now?’
The reply came five seconds later, ‘We have four of our men dead already and I’ve not seen signs of anybody inside…Oh f***!’
‘What’s that?’ Dave asked on hearing the man curse.
‘I’ve just found the fifth man dead,’ the reply sounded.
Dave sighed and shook his head in confusion, wondering how five of the men had already being killed. He had thought they would catch Chief Nonso’s abductors’ unawares or even meet Samantha Osman there since she said in her message that she was going to be at the place. He was surprised to hear that they already had five of their men down.
‘I think we should retreat now,’ Dave said resignedly. ‘The Chairman just called and asked that we go back to the headquarters.’
‘Retreat? No, we can’t retreat now. There’s someone or a group of people in this building killing our men, I think we need to call the office for reinforcement and I also need more men with me.’ The Agent said in hush tones.
‘We have to retreat Agent, the Chairman has asked that we do so.’ Dave replied the man in an angry tone.
‘No, not until I get to the root of this.’ The other agent replied stubbornly and the connection went off.
‘Hey, Agent,’ Dave shouted into the device no response.
He quickly kept the communication device and his phone back into his pocket and left the back of the car.
‘Get back into your vehicles everybody, we have to retreat immediately,’ he shouted to the other officer hiding at strategic places.
Some of the men looked hesitatingly at him from where they were and made no movement in respect to his instruction.
‘We lost the men that went in already and the chairman just called that we return to the head office immediately.’ Dave said to strengthen his instructions.
The men began to leave their positions one after the other and got back into their cars.
‘Chief Elvis, Chief Elvis.’
He opened his eyes to find her standing in front of him and holding an old brown paper file in her hands. He felt a striking headache as he tried to sit up, his whole body felt hot and his mouth tasted bitter.
‘Arrggh,’ he winced in pain as he checked the time to see how long he had been sleeping. ‘Henrietta, it took you two hours to get the document?’ he asked staring into her eyes. She gave no verbal response. He wiped his forehead with his palm and took in a deep breath, he had slept for over one hour.
‘I actually kept the documents in the bank several years ago, but I took them back two years ago, in readiness to give it to Stephanie when the time comes.’ Madam Henrietta said to him.
‘You want to give them to Stephanie?’ he widened his eyes at her.
‘Yes, I was instructed to give it to her when she’s of age.’
He gasped and shook his head before taking the file from her. He quickly opened it and took out the papers inside it. He scanned through them for some minutes.
‘Henrietta, this is George’s will and property documents.’ He said with a tone of disappointment.
‘Yes,’ she replied, her eyebrows gathering together.
‘Goddamn it! I didn’t ask you to get his will for me, what in the world do I need his properties for?’
Confusion was written all over Madam Henrietta’s face. She tried to talk but words couldn’t come out from her mouth.
‘I need the goddamn documents the lawyer gave to you,’ the man shouted at her.
‘What else do you need? This is what the lawyer gave to me.’
‘No Henrietta, he gave you some other documents, it is written in his records that you have them.’
Madam Henrietta was more confused. She closed her eyes and searched her memory thoroughly to see if any other documents were given to her.
‘I don’t have any other documents with me.’
‘Come on, Henrietta, I need those files of the court case George had against the government.’ Chief Elvis finally said explicitly. He had been trying to hide the fact that those document were the ones he was really after.
Madam Henrietta’s mouth went open in surprise and she covered it with her palm.
‘Where are they?’
‘Uhmn… the lawyer said the documents were no longer important anymore since Mr. George was dead and that I could dispose them if I wanted to.’
‘So, did you throw them away?’ Chief Elvis asked, staring at her face anxiously.
She remained quiet for a moment, wondering whether to reply with the truth or not. The same documents the man was requesting for were the same ones she kept in the house at Abuja which Stephanie asked for. She knew mentioning Stephanie’s name to the Chief might get her into trouble.
‘Did you throw them away?’ he shouted at her again.
‘Yes,’ she let out an answer with force. ‘I burnt them years ago.’
‘Are you sure?’ he asked with a careful voice, narrowing his gaze at her threateningly.
‘Yes, I did.’ She answered, nodding her head.
‘Hmmm…’ he stared directly into her eyes to make her see his seriousness and know that it was dangerous for her to lie to him. ‘I really do hope you’re saying the truth, it’ll be dangerous if those documents are found with you or anywhere else.’
‘You won’t find them anywhere, I burnt them.’ She assured him, already deciding in her heart to go for the documents later and burn them up truly.
He let out a breath and then closed his eyes. He put a palm on his forehead and squeezed his face.
‘Is there anything wrong?’ she asked in concern.
‘No, thanks. It’s just a little fever,’ he replied, waving at her.
‘Do you need anything?’
‘No, I’ll just be on my way immediately.’
Tarasha stood down the balcony of the lodge, enjoying the cool air while her mind worked on getting a new direction for the team. She had only few hours to do something before Chief Nonso was executed by Rex. The only option left for her was to take the Vice President at the event the next day.
She looked back as she heard footsteps walking down the balcony. Henry and Dr Ekwueme were walking down hand in hand with smiles on the Doctor’s face. Henry had been with the man since they listened to the news for the night and it seemed they were having a nice time together.
‘I see you both are closer than the rest of us,’ Tarasha said in a cheerful tone, trying to ease the tension in her mind.
‘Yes, I’m glad to have someone who listens to me.’ Dr Ekwueme said with a smile as he stopped beside Tara with Henry by his side.
Tarasha smiled back and glanced at Henry.
‘This place brings back old good memories,’ the doctor continued and got the full attention of the two others. ‘I used to stay somewhere close to this place some years ago and I would always drive around this particular area to enjoy the night with my wife.’
Tara and Henry continued to look at the man’s face. He seemed very happy with his tale.
‘This night reminds me of a particular night I was visited by my friend Danjuma and his wife. They came with their little adopted daughter and we drove around town together in their Sienna car.’
Something struck Tara’s mind as she heard the man’s last sentence, a strange feeling overwhelmed her immedaitely.
‘You said their adopted daughter?’ she asked the man.
‘Yes, Omotara. The Danjumas only had boys, the girl they called their daughter wasn’t theirs.’ The man replied, staring happily at the stars in the sky as he continued his story without knowing he had caused something else
Chapter 16 part 1&2
‘Yes, Omotara. The Danjumas only had boys, the girl they called their daughter wasn’t theirs.’ The man replied, staring happily at the stars in the sky as he continued his story without knowing he had caused something else.
It took some time for Tarasha to assimilate the information. The doctor didn’t sound like someone who was drunk or someone who wasn’t sure of what he was saying. The cool atmosphere changed drastically for her and she began to feel hot inside.
The doctor continued to speak on but she could no longer hear what he was saying. She had several questions running through her mind and occupying her thoughts. She was also trying to picture in her mind who her mother could be if it wasn’t Lydia Danjuma.
‘Then who was Omotara’s mother?’ Tarasha suddenly asked in a loud tone, interrupting the man’s story.
The doctor and Henry turned to her in surprise. The look on her face was different from what it was when the both of them joined her down the balcony and they realized that something serious must have changed her mood into the unpleasant one she now seemed to be in.
‘Omotara’s mother?’ the doctor raised her eyebrows at her.
‘Yes, where is she?’
‘I don’t know who she is or where she is but…’ the doctor stopped with a gasp, wondering why she was interested in knowing who the mother was.
It then occurred to Henry that Tarasha was the same Omotara the doctor mentioned. He could now understand why her countenance had changed and why she looked so worried.
‘But what?’ Tarasha asked the man impatiently.
‘But… why are you so interested in knowing the mother? Is there something our operations also have to do with the Danjumas?’ The doctor asked.
Tarasha stared at him in silence for a while. Her mind couldn’t grasp the news yet and she hoped in her mind that the doctor was wrong. Then she suddenly remembered her mother’s diary; the only book where her mother (Lydia Danjuma) wrote all her secrets and poured out her heart. If what the doctor said was true, then something about it had to be in the diary.
She turned swiftly and proceeded straight up the balcony leaving Henry and the doctor dazed.
‘What’s wrong? Did I say anything that I wasn’t supposed to say?’ Doctor Ekwueme turned to Henry after Tarasha was out of sight.
‘You didn’t do anything wrong sir,’ Henry said, touching the man on the shoulder lightly. ‘Lets go in, I have to talk with her.’ He proceeded in straightaway and the doctor followed him.
‘Six officers were found dead in the place when the police arrived there. The reason for the gunclash is yet to be verified but it is believed that the SSS officers visited the location on getting information from an unverified source of Samantha Osman’s presence at the location. The Lagos State SSS Director is yet to say anything concerning the matter and no answer was given when a call was made to the SSS office for confirmation.’
Dave sat there in pain as he watched the breaking news. A video of the dead bodies of the SSS officers was being shown as the reporter spoke. Dave was overwhelmed with guilt especially when it got to the part showing the dead body Officer who had led the group of men into the building. The officer’s dead body was almost unrecognizable, it looked like a sharp object was dug into his forehead and made to come out from behind. The officers’ deaths were his fault, he had led them to their deaths just as he did in Anambra. The deaths of the men would haunt him for a very long time, he was very sure of that.
He got up from the bed and walked into the bathroom of the hotel room. He walked back out a minutes later with his face wet and a face towel hung around his neck. He proceeded out of his room and stopped at the door to Stephanie’s room.
He knocked at the door gently and waited for a response. He sighed when he got none after a minute. He knew she was likely not going to talk to him that night, he had been trying to get into her room for more than an hour after he returned to the hotel but she wouldn’t open the door to talk to him.
He lifted his hand to knock again but missed as the door opened at that moment.
Stephanie stood at the doorway. She was putting an underwear which covered her body partially.
She raised her brows at him without saying anything and he stared back at her for a moment without having words to start his conversation.
She tried to close the door and turn back inside but he stopped it with his hand.
‘Please, can I talk with you?’ He finally asked. She opened the door and let him in.
‘So, what do you want to talk to me about?’ she asked after closing the door. She stopped at the front of the door and folded her arms across her chest.
Dave looked around the room and noticed that the place was well tidied and clean. He noticed she had also packed her bags at a side.
‘I’ve been trying to speak with you since I returned but you wouldn’t open the door.’
‘Yes, I was trying to put the loads together. I’ve arranged all the tools and ID cards you gave me into the wardrobe,’ she paused and walked to the wardrobe. She opened to show him how she did the arrangements. ‘As you can see, my bag is ready, I’ll be returning to Abuja tomorrow. I think I can continue this without you.’
Dave was shocked and speechless. He just stared at her face with his mouth agape like a confused fellow.
‘My flight is by 8am, I won’t be needing anything, I’ve already ordered for a vehicle to come pick me by six thirty.’
‘Why are you doing this Steph? We started this together, why do you want to continue alone at this point?’ Dave asked in a pleading voice.
‘I’m sorry Dave but I can’t continue with you. I don’t trust you, you can sell me out.’
‘Sell you out? Come on, I would never do that.’
‘But I just saw you do it to someone else today,’ she sat on the bed and crossed her legs, turning her back to him.
Dave sighed. ‘Steph, you should understand me, I explained this to you already. Samantha Osman is a criminal that I can’t trust. I shouldn’t have tried to contact her at all.’
‘But you wanted to help her save the Chief, why did you turn around and bring in the SSS to take the glory?’
‘No,’ Dave frowned. ‘That’s not what I intended to do, I’m not interested in taking the glory for anything. I only realized that working with her would mean betraying my agency instead of being loyal to them.’
‘That’s the more reason I can’t work with you. Your loyalty is to your agency. Who knows if you would realize tomorrow that working with me would mean betraying your agency?’
She stared at him for close to a minute waiting for his answer but he kept mute. He couldn’t think of anything to say to her.
‘You should be rest assured that I won’t let anyone know of your secret agency. And If you want, I would not even act like I know you the next time we see.’ Stephanie added.
Dave was heartbroken with her last statement. He couldn’t bear the fact that she was already planning to cut off all ties with him.
‘Stephanie, I beg of you, please listen and try to reason with me. I had no option than to do the right thing.’
‘Yes, I know. That’s why I’m leaving all for you to continue with the right thing.’
‘Please don’t Steph, I believe that we can work this out together.’
‘No, thanks Dave.’ She said as she got up from the bed and proceeded to the door. ‘I think you should leave now,’ she said and opened the door for him to leave.
Dave was stunned. He could see it in her eyes that she was really mad at him. There was nothing else he could do. He let out a deep breath and proceeded out of the room hesitatingly.
‘Tara,’ Henry called out loud as he got to the door. He knocked twice thinking that she must have locked the door from behind but he noticed that it wasn’t locked and wasn’t jammed properly. He pushed the door in gently and walked in. She didn’t look up or act as if she noticed his entrance. She was seated at the right side of the bed and had a device in her hand. Henry could see as he got to the centre of the room that she had just turned on the device and it was still booting.
‘What do you have to say to me?’ Tara asked in an unwelcoming tone which made Henry stop on the spot. ‘I think I’m okay if all you want to do is comfort me.’
Henry heaved a sigh. He hadn’t totally made up his mind on what to say to her, and she wasn’t even looking any longer like one who was disturbed by the news. He made his way to the bed and sat at the same side as her, giving only a little space between them.
‘Well, can I seat with you for now?’ Henry asked with a shrug after seating.
She took her gaze away from him and focused on the device in her hand. She felt good on remembering that she had only scanned the diary and saved them on her device few hours before she needed it. The device had already finished booting. She clicked on the menu icon and changed her seating position as she scrolled down to find the PDF reader application.
PRESIDENTIAL LOUNGE, LAGOS.
The feverish feeling did not leave Chief Elvis even after he finished his meal and took his drugs for the night. He knew something serious other than malaria was wrong with him but he expected that the doctor at the clinic in Aso Rock should have found out that he needed more than just malaria treatment.
He dragged himself to the room tiredly and sunk into the bed without taking off his clothes. He thought of calling Rex again at that moment but he felt too weak to get up to search for his phone, but he was soon forced to look for it when he began to hear the sound of the ringing tone.
‘Oh!’ he let out a gasp as he saw the name of the incoming caller. It was the Inspector General who had called him earlier when he was at Madam Henrietta’s house. He had promised to return the call when he left the woman’s house but did not remember to do so.
‘Chief Rikau,’ he answered with a gasp. “I’m sorry I haven’t called you yet, I’ve not been feeling too well since I returned to the house.’
‘Sorry about that sir? But why is the fever still persisting, I thought they ran some tests on your blood already.’
‘Yes, I’ve been tested. The Doctor said it’s severe malaria but I think I have to visit another doctor. I’m however sure it’ll pass away soon.’
‘Please take care of yourself sir.’
‘I wanted to confirm if you still met with Rex today.’
‘No, he asked me to wait. He was expecting Samantha Osman but SSS men showed up.’
‘Agent Tim reported to me also, he said Samantha Osman was somewhere around Okoko in Lagos. He and Agent James visited the place.’
‘Tim and James are in Lagos?’ The Vice President asked.
‘Yes, they got there this afternoon.’
‘What are they doing here? I do not really understand, tonight’s case only concerns the SSS.’
‘I know sir, even the Samantha Osman’s case is supposed to have been fully handed over to the SSS for them to work on alone with full force but you remember we are working it in both forces with your influence and so that we can easily track her since she is directly against our individual selves.’
‘I know, but I don’t still understand what James is doing in Lagos. I still understand that Tim has to be here.’
‘Sir, he works together with Tim in the same team, it would be against protocols not to involve him in what Tim does.’
‘Come on, but you and I know that he cannot be involved.’
‘Yes sir, he doesn’t know anything that has to do with us. He only knows what Tim allows the team to know.’
‘Well, we just have to be careful with that boy. I do not even trust him even though he is my son. I’m thinking we should find a way to suspend him from the force until Samantha Osman’s case is over.’
‘Hmm, I will do something about that sir.
They spoke for few more seconds before they ended the call. Chief Elvis dialed Rex’s number immediately.
‘Hello Rex, I’ve been trying to reach you since we spoke last.’
There was no response for almost ten seconds. The Chief called his name twice again before there was a reply.
‘I’m sleeping already Chief, I believe you should have seen what I did to the SSS men on the news’
‘No, I didn’t listen to the news tonight. I wanted to find out if there is no problem.’
‘There’s none, I only regret not being able to kill the SSS men who withdrew.’
‘I asked for them to do so.’
‘They took a wise choice by obeying you,’ Rex said with a chuckle. ‘Well, I’ve moved the man to another location. I’ll come get you when I think it’s time to see him.’
‘No, can’t I come there after my event tomorrow?’
‘No, you can’t. The SSS men spoilt my plans already; we would have some trouble if you decide to come from your event.’
‘I don’t understand you Rex, I have limited time to use in Lagos. I have to return to Abuja next tomorrow so that I can give a report to the committee.’
‘You can’t come from straight for the event,’ Rex insisted in a calm voice. ‘Except I come there to get you myself.’
‘You don’t need to, I would return to the house briefly after the event to change my clothes and disguise a little, then I’ll come there with few of my escorts.’
‘Chief, do you know that Samantha Osman would be watching every of your moves tomorrow?’
The Vice President was quiet for a while. He realized that Rex was saying the truth.
‘That’s true, it means I have to increase my security.’
‘She might not attack you there but would monitor your movements and may follow you everywhere you go. That would mean you would be only be prone to attack when you journey to this location with your few escorts.’
Chief Elvis heaved a sigh of frustration. ‘So you are suggesting that I may not get to see that b—–d before leaving Lagos?’
‘You can decide to wait a little longer, you’d only make sure that you don’t tell anyone of your plans to remain in lagos.’
‘I can’t stay longer Rex, I need to return to Abuja next tomorrow.’
There was silence for almost one minute.
‘I think you should just kill the man, don’t risk the chance of him getting away.’
‘Well, are you aware that his death would not make Samantha Osman drop her charges against you?’
‘Wow!’ he let out a gasp. ‘That’s true. Let’s be patient for a little longer, maybe I do not have to talk with the Chief. Just continue with your threat to kill him and try as much as possible to extract hidden information from him.’
‘Can we torture him now?’
‘Let her drop the allegations first, I’m thinking she would demand to see him first before doing so. Seeing him tortured may cause something else. What about the substance you do inject people to get them to talk?’
‘The effectiveness of that substance depends on how weak and fearful the victim is. Most times, the victim has to be tortured before it works.’
‘Okay, just find any way to make him talk without giving him physical injuries first or you should probably wait until she withdraws her allegations.’
‘I’ll talk to you later Chief.’
The availability of the diary in electronic copy made it easy for Tarasha to locate the specific parts she needed to read without wasting time on flipping through many pages. For the first time, she realized that the diary contained almost thirty years of Lydia Danjuma’s life. She knew it wasn’t the original version, but that the different diaries she kept over the years were summarized, merged and rewritten into the available one.
She was able to locate what she needed quickly by typing a search word into the find box of the PDF reader. The keyword was ‘Tara’ and it was located several times in the document. Tarasha navigated back to the first result. She scrolled up to the beginning of the paragraph containing the word and began to read.
‘Adunni regained consciousness three hours after she started receiving treatment in the hospital. I could see her eyes moving to and fro and I knew immediately that she was looking for her baby.’
Lydia’s fingers worked on the keypads of her Nokia 3310 phone as she whiled away time with the game. She had another phone in her bag but preferred to use the Nokia more because of its strength and capacity of the battery. She was seated beside a hospital bed which had a young lady lying in it. An intravenous fluid bag from was hung on a stand beside the bed and the liquid from the bag was being passed into the young lady’s vein and she laid there still but breathing.
Lydia’s eyeballs rolled up as she noticed a movement in the bed. She met the young lady staring curiously at her.
‘Hey! You’re awake,’ she said with a kind smile.
The young lady squinted at Lydia for a moment and then let out a deep breath after remembering who she was. She could recall vividly the face of the woman and a man standing above her when she as lying in the bush with the baby.
‘Where’s my baby?’ the young lady asked.
‘She’s fine, I kept her with the nurses.’ Lydia replied, still keeping her smile.
‘Thank you,’ the young lady said with a faint smile. She heaved a sigh, wondering if the baby was a blessing or curse to her.
‘You’re welcome,’ Lydia replied. She dropped her phone into her handbag which was placed on the floor and then leaned towards the bed. She put on a serious look. ‘What’s your name? And how did you get into that bush?’
The young lady let out a sigh, she closed her eyes and then turned her head the other way.
‘Oh!’ Lydia gasped. ‘Sorry, maybe I should allow you rest properly before asking my questions.’
The young lady turned her face back slowly with her eyes closed. She took in a deep breath before opening her eyes. ‘My name is Adunni, my story is a long one.’ She began in a sad tone.
‘Oh! Adunni,’ Lydia said in a comforting tone. ‘I…’
Their conversation was interrupted when the door of the ward flung open and Danjuma entered with a Doctor. Both were surprised to see Adunni awake.
‘Hey! Young woman, how are you doing?’ the doctor asked as she proceeded towards Adunni.
‘I’m fine ma,’ Adunni replied.
‘Good to know,’ the doctor put on a smile. She placed two fingers on Adunni’s neck to check her temperature. ‘You’re sweating already, that’s good.’
Danjuma stopped beside his wife and placed a kiss on her cheek.
‘How far?’ Lydia asked almost breathlessly.
Danjuma shook his head and let out a sigh as he stood beside his wife, a sign that there was something wrong.
‘I’ll send the nurses to her now,’ the doctor said to them before Danjuma could answer his wife’s question.
‘Okay ma,’ Danjuma answered and they watched as the doctor walked away.
Danjuma turned to the other side beside his wife and sat at the edge of the hospital bed. ‘Have you spoken with her yet?’
‘I only found out her name is Adunni,’ Lydia answered. ‘Did you get to find anyone who knows her from the village?’
‘Yes,’Danjuma answered with a sigh. ‘Almost everybody knew her,’he said and paused to look at Adunni’s face. ‘They said she’s pregnant with someone else’s baby and tried to lie against someone else.’
Adunni turned her face to the other side and burst into tears, she muffled her voice with the pillow. Danjuma’s word brought pain to her heart again and she could still feel the shame that the pregnancy had brought her.
‘They said she lied against an important Chief…’Danjuma tried to continue.
‘Shhh…’ Lydia hushed him as she got up from her seat, she had noticed that Adunni was crying already.
Tarasha closed her eyes and heaved a sigh of frustration after reading to the end of the page. She closed the book temporarily, placing her finger on the page she was supposed to read next. She flashed a look at Henry who was now fast asleep and just changed his position in the bed. She continued to read from the next page and she read how her mother, Adunni was chosen by her village to be the first female child to go to the university because of her brilliance. She had been sent to a lecturer of the desired school who was also an indigene of the village and she got raped. It was stated there that the lecturer was also a chief, but the title which he held wasn’t stated.
Now that she knew that her real mother’s name was Adunni, she scrolled to the next date in the diary, hoping to find her father’s name there.
In the next page which covered the summary of the day after, Lydia Danjuma had put down Adunni’s side of the story.(See Tarasha Season 1 chapter 14 part 5 to read more on Adunni’s story) Tarasha learnt that her mother was raped at the lecturer’s office but the lecturer’s name was still not written there.
She wondered what Adunni, her real mother looked like and wondered where she was at that moment. She hoped her mother would be a kind and lovely woman like Lydia Danjuma was. She scrolled to the next page, anxious to read the rest of the story but what she saw on the first paragraph broke her heart.
‘I got to the clinic this morning to discover that Adunni was nowhere to be found, she had escaped the hospital leaving her baby and a note behind in the ward. She told us in the note how the baby had been a curse to her and how seeing the baby every time would forever make her unhappy for loosing the opportunity to further her education. She said she has decided to leave the baby for us or whoever needs it and go in search for a brighter future for herself.
We tried to no avail to search around for Adunni but there were no traces of her. The hospital does not have any security guard except for a young lanky man who stays at the gate, and he never saw her leave the vicinity. I guess he slept in his small office all through the night.’
Tarasha let out a deep breath after reading it. She tapped her power button to turn the phone screen off. She closed her eyes and fell into the bed. She realized that there was no point seeking for who Adunni was and if she were still alive. The woman considered her as a curse and that is what she had really been to the nation. She felt it sweet however, to be a curse and pain to people.
Adunni could go to hell if she wanted. She decided that the person she would always recognize as her mum would be late Lydia Danjuma.
Tarasha eyes popped open just as she felt a hand across her b—-t in the bed where she laid, she knew it was Henry and didn’t bother to protest. Memories of the night before ran through her mind again and she suddenly remembered that they had work to do that morning.
She realized that she had been distracted by the news of her real maternity that she forgot to make the necessary plans for their operation that morning. The first thing that was supposed to happen was her meeting with Dave which she wasn’t sure what going to hold anymore.
‘Henry!’she called with a loud voice as she sprung up to her feet. She hurried to the table and pulled the chair to seat on it. She opened up her laptop and clicked on the boot button.
‘Tara,’Henry replied with a sleepy voice, rubbing his eyes as he sat up.
‘Let’s get to work, get Cole to make arrangements for the cars while you set up the NSCC cameras and servers to the point to the venue of the event.’
Henry yawned loudly and stretched, dragging his feet as he proceeded to the door.
‘Be fast about it,’ Tarasha said to him in a loud and strong tone.
Dave folded his arms and watched as the vehicle drove out through the hotel gate. He heaved a sigh and closed his eyes, the car was out of sight when he opened his eyes. He turned back and proceeded into the hotel. Stephanie was gone and probably gone from his life forever.
He got back into his room after two minutes and settled on the seat behind the table hurriedly. He turned on his laptop which was already positioned on the table. He had so much work to do which he had delayed because he was trying to stop Stephanie from leaving, but since she had eventually left, life had to go on.
A notification box popped up the screen immediately the system finished booting. He zoomed it and found out that he had received two new emails into two different email addresses. The first was sent from Samantha Osman to the email address associated with his news blog and the second was sent to his work email address.
He opened the first one and quickly read through, Samantha Osman had sent a message asking him to confirm if he would be coming for their agreed meeting. The second was from the NIS office and he was being queried for leading a team of men to the wrong place without getting enough information first.
He hissed as he got up to his feet and headed for the bathroom.
ABUJA, MADAM HENRIETTA’S HOME
Stephanie alighted after the cab pulled up right in the compound. She paid the man and walked towards the boot of the car to get her bags. The driver followed to help her get the bags out. She took a quick glance at her wristwatch and sighed. She should have gotten home earlier but the driver had arrived at the airport twenty five minutes late.
She carried her bag and proceeded into the house while the cab man reversed the car and drove out of the compound.
She inserted her key into the door hole and turned it, but it didn’t open, a sign that it was locked from behind. She was surprised. The only person that could be in the house was supposed to be in Lagos with Elvis Richards. She then realized that it was possible Madam Henrietta had left one of her maids in the place. She stepped back and pressed the door bell. To her surprise, she heard madam Henrietta’s voice demanding for who was at the door.
She was in shock. Her mind replayed the scene at the airport again and she affirmed in her heart that it was really Madam Henrietta whom she had seen the day before, her eyes couldn’t have deceived her.
‘Who is it?’ Madam Henrietta asked again, this time her voice was closer to the door.
Stephanie was still too shocked to reply but the woman checked her face from the peephole of the door and identified her.
‘Stephanie!’ Madam Henrietta exclaimed in surprise as she opened the door. ‘You didn’t tell me you were coming today.’
Stephanie was still shocked to see her and she didn’t realize that the woman’s hands was spread out for an embrace.
‘Hey! What’s wrong?’ the woman asked with raised eyebrows.
‘Oh! I’m sorry mum,’ Stephanie finally came back to herself, realizing that her mother was in front of her. She hugged the woman briefly and proceeded into the living room leaving her mother at the entrance.
‘Steph, is there any problem?’ Madam Henrietta asked after locking the door back.
‘No mum, I’m just feeling a bit tired.’ Stephanie replied and sunk into the sofa and kept her bag on the floor beside her leg.
‘Are you sure it’s just tiredness,’ the woman asked and sat on a seat beside her.
‘Yes,’ Stephanie replied. She let out a deep breath and finally took time to look at the woman’s face well. She was putting on a white singlet and black shorts and was sweating profusely like one who had just finished a strenuous exercise. Stephanie didn’t notice the smell of burning paper(smoke) on her body.
‘Are you coming from Lagos?’ Madam Henrietta asked.
‘Yes, I took the 8AM flight,’ Stephanie replied.
‘Okay, I hope there’s no problem.’ Madam Henrietta let out a sigh of relief. She had also flown to Abuja that morning and the flight had left about the same time. She was sure that what saved her from the embarrassment of them running into each other was because she followed the some of Vice President’s crew who returned to Abuja that morning on a separate plane.
‘Ermm… No problem,’ Stephanie replied, still looking confused. She suddenly remembered the previous conversation she had with the woman and remembered that she said she would be traveling out of Abuja very early that morning. ‘But Mom, you said you were going to be leaving Abuja this morning.’
The woman mouth opened in shock as she remembered that she truly said she was going to travel that morning. ‘I… I…,’ she stammered for some seconds before she was about to come up with a good lie. ‘I actually wanted to travel but I have to wait because of my friend.’
‘Your friend, mum? You never told me about this friend you have in Abuja.’
‘Yea, Steph. We’ve never really had time to come to this state together except for now.’
‘Well,’ Stephanie let out a deep breath. She continued to stare Madam Henrietta’s face, still baffled as to how the woman was in Abuja. ‘Were you by chance in Lagos yesterday?’ she finally asked when she couldn’t hold it in anymore.
‘Lagos?’ Madam Henrietta opened her eyes wide in pretense. ‘I’ve not been to Lagos yet. Why are you asking? Didn’t we talk yesterday?’
Stephanie faked a smile. ‘Nothing Mum, don’t mind me.’ she said and picked her bag from the floor.
‘Yes mum.’ She got up to her feet and proceeded hurriedly with her bag to the room.
‘Stephanie, are you sure everything is alright?’ Madam Henrietta asked as she watched the girl go.
‘Everything is alright mum!’Stephanie shouted back.
She heaved a sigh of relief after Stephanie had gone out of sight. She wondered what made Stephanie ask if she was in Lagos. She realized that it could be the same reason she called the day before to ask where she was. Maybe someone who knew her had seen her and reported to Stephanie. She had to thread more carefully, she had gone a long way with Stephanie and couldn’t afford to lose the girl’s trust now.
Five minutes later, Stephanie returned to the living room with a more confused look. She was still putting on the same clothes even though they now looked ruffled.
‘Steph, you must be very hungry,’ Madam Henrietta said as she heard the girl’s footsteps approaching.’I prepared noodles this morning…’ she was saying as she turned back but stopped when she saw how the girl looked.
‘Mum, did you move those files in the cabinet?’Stephanie asked with a frown.
‘Which files are you talking about?’ Madam Henrietta raised a brow.
‘The ones I came to Abuja for, you told me they were here.’ she got to the woman’s front and stopped.
Madam Henrietta let out a tired sigh and shook her head. ‘Steph, what do you need those things for?’
‘Those things mum?’ Stephanie exclaimed and widened her eyes in amazement, wondering why her mum was referring to the documents like unimportant ones.
‘Yea, what do you need them for?’
‘Mum, those documents contain proof to my father’s innocence.’
‘And what do you need them for?’
Her mouth opened widely in shock, she couldn’t believe her ears. ‘Mum, I don’t believe that you’re asking me that.’
‘What’s there not to believe? I want to know what you need them for.
Stephanie gasped. She tried to speak but couldn’t find words to express herself.
‘Look here Steph, those documents are best thrown into the garbage bin, they can’t do you any good.’
‘Mum! Don’t tell me you threw them away.’
‘They’re on the field at the backyard.’ Madam Henrietta replied with a nonchalant attitude and turned her face from her.
Stephanie made her way to the backyard hurriedly. She hoped that the woman had not done anything to make the documents useless or damaged. She got to the field at the back and began to look for the documents around but found nothing, except for some fresh ashes at a corner of the field.
She was about to turn back and go into the house when she saw Madam Henrietta coming towards her from behind. The woman had her arms folded across her chest and her lower lip folded in as she walked.
‘Mum, I can’t find the documents you’re talking about.’
The older woman walked past her silently and stopped at the corner where the ashes were.
Stephanie suddenly realized that the documents were what had been burnt to ashes. She screamed out loud in agony.
PRESIDENTIAL LODGE, LAGOS.
‘Good morning your Excellency,’ the Vice President could hear the voice accompanying the knock at the door.
He stepped out of the bathroom with the towel wrapped around his waist and moved closer to the door to answer his assistant.
‘Please, give me some more minutes to dress up,’ he said and turned back towards the wardrobe.
He could feel his head pound with every step he took and he could feel hotness under his skin. He however forced his body to keep moving and to prepare for his outing.
Twenty minutes later, he was dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, putting on a navy blue tie. He sat at the dining table, eating his breakfast slowly. His security officers were standing close to the wall at the other end of the dining table. They were already dressed in their military outfits and were fully ready for the outing.
The nylon containing his medicines and a glass cup of water were brought closer to him after he finished the meal.
‘Do I need to use this thing again?’ he asked in a disgusted tone. ‘It’s not working; I’m feeling worse now than when it started.’
‘I think it’s the more reason you have to take it sir,’ his assistant said in a humble tone.
He stared at the medicines for a while before he picked them hesitatingly to use.
EVENT – Launch of the New General Hospital
The whole place was filled with activities. There were several foreigners and more citizens of the country present at the launch of the hospital. The new hospital facility was one of the best new facilities in the world. It was built with so many equipments and tools which were not readily available in most hospitals of the world.
For the event, the gate of the hospital was opened and party tents were arranged on the field.
Tarasha sat quietly with Henry in the car, watching those who came for the event from afar with the aid of a viewing device , both citizens of the nation and the foreigners. At exactly twelve am, the entry of the Vice President was announced.
Tarasha felt disgusted as she saw people come from right, left and center because they wanted to greet the Vice President. Two security officials stood beside the man but several others stood at different strategic places of the event ground.
Soon, Tarasha found what she was looking for. She saw the security official who just arrived and was taking a previously occupied spot by another official. It was Cole in the security official’s dress. That was a major step in their plan, finding a way to get close to the Vice President to ease his kidnap..
Chapter 16 part 3
‘NTV reporters are on their way,’ Tarasha heard Henry’s voice from the earpiece plugged in.
‘What position on the road are they now?’ She replied through the mouthpiece.
‘Coming from the left hand side,’ Henry replied. ‘In a car decorated with the NTV logo.’
‘Are you following them?’
‘Yes, I’m right behind them.’
‘Would you stop them or do I have to come?’ Tarasha asked.
‘Tara, I’m scared. You asked me to shoot two of their vehicle tyres and there’s no way I’m going to do it without causing an accident.’
‘F*** you Henry, I thought we talked this over,’ Tarasha replied angrily. ‘Fire at the d–n tyres and stop them from getting here.’
Henry’s deep sigh could be heard from the other end. ‘Okay, I’ll do it, I hope I do it well.’
‘Do it well, else, we’d all be in trouble,’ Tarasha warned. ‘Make sure you leave the scene immediately and change the car where the extra one is parked.’
‘Steph! What’s the matter with you?’ Madam Henrietta asked, afraid and alarmed at sound of the scream.
‘Mum!’ Stephanie screamed again, panting heavily and her eyes widening in anger. ‘Why did you burn the documents?’
‘I did it for your good, we don’t need them anymore, keeping them with us will only give room for bad memories to remain.’
‘Mum, I needed those documents and I still need them.’ Stephanie shouted.
‘You don’t need them Steph, what are you trying to do with them?’
‘Mum,’ Stephanie called almost breathlessly, now trying to control her anger.
Madam Henrietta stared at her, confused. She had never seen her angry at someone like that before let alone herself.
Stephanie kept a narrow gaze at the woman’s face as she tried to control her breath. Now, she was so sure that Madam Henrietta was working with Chief Elvis Richards and must have been the one seen at the airport the day before. The only mystery she was yet to understand was how the woman got to Abuja back before her the next morning.
‘Mum, you knew that those documents contain the proof of my father’s innocence and exposes the secrets of the Vice President but you chose to destroy them because they asked you to.’
‘What are you talking about Steph?’ Madam Henrietta asked, squinting at Stephanie’s face.
‘You know what I’m talking about Mum, don’t pretend.’
Madam Henrietta could see tears in Stephanie’s eyes as the girl spoke, she knew the girl was sure of what she was talking about. She was now also sure that she was seen with the Vice President in Lagos.
‘Steph, look at me. What are you doing with the documents? What you told me you needed were the pictures. It just happened that the pictures were in the files where the documents were…’
‘But you burnt up everything, both the pictures and the documents. Why didn’t you leave the pictures out of the fire?’
‘I told you before Steph, you do not need them. They will only cause troubles for you,’ Madam Henrietta shouted at her. She was already getting angry but was trying her best to put herself together. She closed her eyes and let out a breath, and then she continued to talk in a calm voice. ‘You don’t realize what trouble I’ve gotten you out of by burning those things.’
Stephanie could no longer speak again. Her eyes were full of tears and heart full of pain. She turned and proceeded back into the house, sobbing.
Madam Henrietta watched her go. She wondered why the girl was crying about the documents, she had never considered them as important because the lawyer that handed them over to her had told her that she could do away with them. She had checked the documents several times but had never been able to see how it incriminated the Vice President, so she wondered why Stephanie was claiming that the documents exposed the Vice President. It was unknown to her that Stephanie had gotten extra documents with the help of Dave.
Stephanie fell down flat into the bed with all her hopes of making the Vice President face justice finally gone. Madam Henrietta had burnt them with the papers. The only person who could now make the Vice President pay for his sins was Samantha Osman. But she also had troubles, Chief Nonso’s kidnap was being used to hold her back.
Stephanie’s phone which was placed on the footstool in the room began to ring. She didn’t bother to get it, she knew it was her lawyer whom she had promised to visit with the documents that morning.
The phone stopped ringing after thirty seconds and started again almost immediately. She managed to get to her feet and reach for the phone.
‘Good morning sir,’ she greeted.
‘Good morning Miss Stephanie,’ the lawyer replied in a cool voice. ‘It’s past ten already, I’m still waiting for you in my office.’
‘I’m sorry Barrister, I won’t be able to make it today anymore. Something happened here at home,’ Stephanie apologized.
‘Oh! I hope it’s not something bad. Your voice sounds shaky, hope you’re fine.’
‘Yes, I am. It’s just something little that’ll pass away soon.’ she answered, wishing she was saying the truth.
‘Okay, Please take care of yourself ma’am.’
The event had begun. Cole stood at his rightful position under the tent adjacent to the one under which the Vice President was seating. The officer who had previously occupied his position had been tied up and put in the boot of a car.
He stood alert like he saw the other security officers do and listened to everything being said by speakers of the event.
Thirty minutes later, his eyes located two people with media houses tags among the other journalists and photographers. The first person he identified there was Tarasha. A wig was covering her low cut hair and her face was faintly made up. The plans she had recited to him that morning began to play back in his mind. Her own job in the events centre was to get close to the Chief Security officer of the Vice President and attach something to his cloth while Cole’s job was to stand among the security officers and go back in one of the escorts cars which followed the Vice President to the place.
The second person he saw was Agent Dave James who was expected, also standing among the cameramen. Cole wondered for a bit why they all had to choose disguising as news media cameramen.
His fingers reached for the switch of the communication device and he connected to Tarasha.
‘Hello Boss, I just saw something.’ He said into the mouthpiece attached to the collar of his shirt.
It took sometime before Tarasha replied. She had to step back a little from the other journalists not to attract suspicions while talking.
‘What did you see?’
‘Agent Dave James is right there with you guys,’ Cole replied.
‘Huh?’ Tarasha replied. She had not noticed Dave James yet, she had been focused on covering every part of the event to make her appear hardworking like the other cameramen there.
‘Yes, I saw him now. He’s on a little disguise, an attached beard to his jaw and a moustache.’
‘Representing Desert Reporters right?’
‘Yes, Desert Reporters.’
‘Okay, I want you to put an eye on him and report every of his movement to me.’
Tarasha joined the other cameramen after the conversation. There were not too many of them, only seven media houses were invited and represented. Tarasha had made sure Henry give a report of his job before going into the events ground. Henry had shot at the tyres of the car and it resulted to a fatal accident which he didn’t wait to see.
She noticed Dave James immediately she joined the men again. He was just as Cole described his appearance. She began to monitor his every movement to see what he was up to.
Rex watched the event in silence from the corner where he sat under the fourth tent. Dressed as a medical student of Rael University and holding one of the invitation letters, he had been at that corner fifteen minutes before the program started and had been watching since then but had not seen any sign of Tarasha. He was however sure that she was there or was going to join sooner.
The time finally came for the Vice President to speak and lead the doctors to the ceremonial opening of the hospital. The different cameramen lined up at the provided position, covering every part of the Vice President’s speech.
The man finished with his speech and led the team of doctors and dignitaries to the main entrance of the hospital where a decorated ribbon line was used to block the entrance.
Five of the cameramen positioned themselves well beside the dignitaries in order not to miss any part of the ceremony. The security officials were not left out also, Cole was one of them. They left their positions to guard the dignitaries and the Vice President.
‘Boss,’ Tarasha heard the Cole’s voice from her earpiece.
‘Speak on,’ she mumbled carefully.
‘Dave James has left you guys, I think he’s looking for something else.’
‘Okay, have you found what he is looking for?’ she asked. She had also noticed that Dave James had stopped moving with the other camera men but decided to focus on her own assignment of attaching the piece to the Chief Security officer’s body. She had positioned herself where she was sure the officer would pass when it was time to follow the Vice President down the hospital.
‘I don’t know precisely, he’s just looking around. I think he’s expecting us to be around.’
‘Put an eye on him.’
Rex was up, standing with the other medical students and watching from behind where they were allowed to watch from. Like a monitoring camera, his eyes covered every single movement that happened close to the Vice President.
Loud cheers erupted from the people as the Vice President cut the ribbon into two halves with the use of the scissors. After a minute of some other formalities, they proceeded in for a tour of the place. It was then Rex noticed a female camera woman press her body against the Chief Security Officer of the Vice President and stepped back. He noticed that her lips began to move slowly after she stepped back. He stared more intently and noticed the earpiece in her ear. He immediately knew it was Samantha Osman and that she was talking to someone with a communication device. He took out his phone and unlocked it hurriedly.
‘Something has been planted on your CSO’s body,’ he typed as a text message and sent it to Chief Elvis. He didn’t expect getting results from the text message because he knew it was likely that the message would get only read after the event and if there was luck, an assistant of the Vice President would read the message and get to warn the CSO. However, he knew it was his best time to get Samantha Osman. He stepped away from the other medical students. He needed to change his clothes quickly.
Police Agent, James sat there watching the event with very little interest. He was there only to see his father. Since the man had banned him temporarily from coming to his house, he had not been chanced to talk to the man or even ask about his health. He felt very bored with the whole activities but he was patient, he had decided that it was time to reconcile with his father and find a way to solve the challenges in a legal way.
Elvis Richards legs felt heavier with every step he took but he still tried to look as cheerful as possible. His body and eyes were hot but he still felt some kind of cold in his body. Even as the doctors who led the exhibition explained and showed items to the listeners, Elvis Richards heard none of their words, the only thing he was concerned about was the end of the exhibition so that he could return home and have a good rest.
He began to feel very weak as they approached the pediatric center. His knees and fingers were trembling and his vision blurry.
‘Are you okay sir?’ he heard his assistant’s voice behind him.
‘Arrggh! I think I need a break, I…’ he wasn’t able to complete the statement as his knees buckled at that moment and he collapsed. He would have landed on the floor but for those around him and his assistant who was alert.
‘Are you okay sir?’ one of the doctors asked after they made him sit on a chair.
There was no answer from the man, he had his eyes closed as he managed to breathe.
‘Stay clear guys,’ the doctor said to the crowd gathering around, directing them with his hands to create space for fresh air to get to the man.
‘What’s wrong with him?’ another doctor asked as he joined the other in the squatting position.
‘He’s been down for some time with severe malaria,’ the Vice President’s assistant answered them.
‘I think we need to pause the exhibition for a while,’ one of the doctors said. ‘Let everyone excuse us for some time.’
The security officers ordered everyone including the cameramen and few medical students with them to leave the place.
‘What’s wrong boss?’ Cole said into the mouthpiece on seeing Tarasha and the other camera guys approaching the entrance of the hospital from inside. He was standing at the entrance with some other security officers.
‘I don’t understand for now, the Vice President seems to be a little weak, the exhibition has been paused.’ Tarasha replied him as she walked out of the place. Even though he was behind her as she walked past him, she didn’t give him a look or act like she had seen him.
‘Please I need to go in, I want to see my father,’ Agent James said to the security officials standing at the entrance of the hospital. It had been fifteen minutes after he had seen the other guests come out of the facility talking about how the Vice President collapsed.
The security officials spoke amongst themselves for a while before letting him in.
Agent James walked in hurriedly and soon located the ward which his father was carried into. He met two of his father’s security officers and the Chief outside the ward, only the P.A was inside with the doctors.
‘What’s happening with my father?’ He asked as he proceeded to the bed.
‘Agent James,’ his father’s P.A saluted, extending his hand for a handshake.
‘Hello sir!’ James replied and took the handshake warmly.
‘I thought they said he was getting better already.’
‘Yes, he was. He only started complaining again recently,’ the P.A replied.
James stood beside the bed quietly. He realized his father was conscious and had been listening to him talk. An Intravenous fluid bag was hung on a stand and the fluid was being rushed into his body.
‘Please excuse me sir,’ one of the doctors who just entered said to Dave to give him way.
James stepped back and stood beside the P.A. ‘I hope he’s not been going through a lot of stress recently.’
‘I don’t think so, it’s just been like normal work routine.’ The P.A replied.
‘Well, I think he needs a vacation. One needs to take a break from normal routine sometimes.’
‘Agent James Elvis,’ one of the doctors interrupted. Both of them turned to face the doctor.
‘Yes sir,’ James replied.
‘We need to run some tests on your father.’
‘That shouldn’t be a problem sir, as far as he gets better.’ James replied, feeling awkward a bit. He didn’t remember the last time he had a say over what concerned his father.
There was a long silence in the ward. James and the P.A kept their gaze on the Vice President’s face keenly. None of them ever thought the man would be the first patient in the hospital he had come to open officially.
Thirty minutes had gone and Rex was still watching Samantha Osman from the same position. He knew that the man’s sudden illness was what must have caused her inactiveness. He also couldn’t take any action because he didn’t want to cause a scene on the event ground. He just sat patiently, waiting for the right time – a time where Samantha would leave the ground to a secluded place around or decide to leave the place totally.
He had also noticed Agent Dave around the place but hadn’t seen him doing anything significant. He however kept his focus on Samantha Osman.
‘Tara, time is far spent, what is happening?’ Tarasha heard Henry’s voice through the earpiece. She got up from where she sat under the tent and walked to the back to reply.
‘Something happened here, the Vice President is down with a kind of illness.’
‘Oh! So what’s going to happen?’
‘I finished my task already, there may just be a little change in Cole’s part.’
‘So what do we do?’
‘We’d have to wait till the Vice President is ready to go,’ she replied.
‘Oh!’ Henry let out a sigh.
The sadness in Stephanie’s heart returned as her eyes opened. She sat up sluggishly and picked her phone. She opened the contact lists and began to scroll through. She felt in her heart the need to call someone and explain her plight to, but she couldn’t find anyone to call. She let out a deep sigh. It was one of those moments again when she felt like she still had contact with Samantha Osman. The other person who would be right to listen to her was Dave, but she had discovered that Dave was not trustworthy and had made up her mind not to involve him in her affairs anymore.
She dropped her phone back in frustration and ran her fingers into her hair. She got up slowly and walked to the window, and then she remembered someone else she could talk to, her mum. Her mum! Her eyes widened at the thought of it. Her mum would have the right words to tell her at that moment.
The excitement disappeared again after she realized that her mum could only comfort her but would not have the solution to her problem. The only option left was still Dave. She picked up the phone again and scrolled to his number.
EVENTS GROUND, LAGOS
Tarasha continued pacing around slowly after she had answered the call. She tried to see if the previous strategy could still work. She had attached an electrocuting piece to the belt of the Chief Security Officer of the Vice President. The piece would be activated when the Vice President would be going back to his house and electric shock would surge through the security officer’s body, causing a distraction in the vehicle. This would force them to stop the car for a while, meaning the Vice President would have to be delayed since he and his Chief Security Officer would be in the same car. Then if Cole had success in gaining entrance into one of the escorts’ cars, he would take care of the other three men in his car while Tarasha would attack from behind and take care of the men in the third car, leaving only the Vice President’s driver with him.
She was still thinking when she heard a strange voice sound behind her. She paused to listen carefully and heard the words correctly.
‘Samantha Osman,’ the male voice called again.
She felt a strange kind of fear and felt frozen to the ground that she couldn’t turn back. The man walked closer and stood beside her. He was dressed on black all through, he also had a black face cap and a dark shades on. She knew the man wasn’t Dave James and he was no ordinary man, the only person it could be was Rex.
She realized that she had run into error. She hadn’t made plans for his coming; she had been too distracted with the news of her mother that it took her time and ability to think, she knew there was some trouble for her and the team, Rex must have planned for her.
Chapter 16 part 4&5
Tarasha flashed a glance at his face and looked around as if to check if he was referring to someone else. She noticed his face was slightly disguised and that he also used his face cap to ensure that his eyes were not seen.
‘Excuse me, are you talking to me?’ she asked him with a frown.
Rex maintained his composure; he kept looking straight and didn’t turn to look at her face.
‘No Jokes Samantha, let’s have a talk.’
Tarasha stared at him for a while and then hissed. She turned back and tried to walk away but he held her by the arm. ‘You have few hours to comply before Chief Nonso is killed,’ he said in a threatening tone, mispronouncing the name ‘Nonso’ like he always did.
‘Come on, leave me alone. Who the hell are you?’ Tarasha screamed out loud and wriggled her hand off his grip.
Rex stood and watched as she walked away. He didn’t bother to follow because he knew that so many people were looking at him now and he didn’t want to cause a scene. He turned back and took out his phone. He opened the email application and located his previous conversation with her, the same one where he had notified her of Chief Nonso’s kidnap.
‘It’s less than ten hours to the death of Chief Nonso,’ he typed in and sent it to her as a reminder.
Tarasha’s brain continued to work as she sat back on a seat far from where Rex had met her. She could still see him from there, behind the other seated guests under the canopy, still standing and looking in her direction. She had seen him when he took out his phone and used it, she didn’t know what he did with it but was sure it was something that had to do with her.
After forty five seconds of sitting, an idea struck her mind. She clicked her communication device button and switched the connection to Cole.
‘Hey Cole, Rex is here and he’s taken some steps already, we need to change plans.’ she said calmly into the mouthpiece.
There was a sigh from Cole’s end. ‘So boss, what’s the change in plan?”
‘I would have loved you to stay if he wouldn’t recognize you, but we both need to leave here now.’
‘So, should I exit this place?’
‘No, I think he’s got plans for me. He would be watching. We need to get him distracted first.’
‘How do we do that?’
‘He should have a gun with him right now, you’re a part of the security officials. Find a way to get the other men’s attention to him.’
Cole pondered for a while on Tarasha’s words. He looked around and located the positions of the other security officers.
‘Boss, where exactly is he now?’ Cole said into his mouthpiece after a short moment of silence.
‘He’s standing behind, under the canopy at the middle.’
He paused for a moment and looked towards the direction, he couldn’t see Rex yet because of the height of the place he was standing on. He began to move towards the stairs of the balcony to get a good view.
‘Don’t!’ he stopped as he heard Tarasha say to him in a warning tone. ‘Step back, where are you going to?’
Cole took his time to step back carefully and looked around to see if none of the other security officers noticed his movements.
‘I want to take a walk down and locate his position,’ Cole answered Tarasha’s question.
‘Come on, you can’t do that now. He has his eyes on me and he’s watching out for what I’ll do, he’d identify you once he sees you walking by and looking at his direction. Just stay there and let me be your eyes.’
‘Okay boss…’ Cole sounded somewhat lost. ‘But I don’t really know what to do to get the other men’s attention to him.’
There was silence for more than half a minute, then Tarasha spoke again. ‘I’ll be moving towards the ladies, you’ll see him if he follows me, then you report him to the others for suspicious movement, also tell them that he tried to harass a lady under the former canopy he was standing.’
‘Okay boss,’ Cole said and relaxed in his standing position. He watched Tara as she stood up after some seconds and walked out of the gathering with her handbag.
Rex knew she was up to something. He had placed his gaze on her and noticed she was communicating to someone while sitting down and now that she had gotten up, he knew she had him in plans.
His eyes followed her as she walked towards the back of the building. He sprung into action quickly. He took out a device from his pocket and spoke some few words into it, instructing Stainless to join him at the back of the building.
He touched the gun attached to his belt, he had a silencer with him. An opportunity around the restroom area would be the best opportunity he would get to silence her forever.
He couldn’t find her when he turned to the back, he could only see other people walking out of the restroom. As expected, there were separate sections of restroom for ladies and for men. Rex stopped at the middle of both section to think for a while. He took out his communication device from his pocket again, ‘ Have you seen her yet?’
‘No, nobody with your description has come to the back yet.’
‘Remain alert,’ he said before ending the connection. He glanced at the back and his eyes met with the only security guard at the restroom area. He looked away and fixed his gaze on a woman coming towards the ladies. Another one stepped out from the restroom at that moment. He waited for the one coming to get to the entrance and then stepped up with her.
‘Hey! That’s for the ladies,’ the security man shouted and rushed in his way but Rex did not stop.
The man tried to stop him at the door but Rex grabbed his neck and twisted it sharply and let the body drop on the floor.
He was about to push the door open when he heard some voices far behind him. He glanced back and saw four security men already motioning towards him. He wondered what they were doing there at that moment and why they had to come after he had taken down one of the men.
He thought of exiting the place and running from them but he changed his mind and proceeded into the ladies. He shut the door behind him and removed the key. The restroom contained three toilets and other facilities. One of the ladies who had come out of the toilet half unclad screamed on seeing him, attracting the attention of the other females.
Rex ignored her and proceeded further, taking his gun out as he moved. The woman screamed more on seeing the gun, she rushed to the door and tried to open it but Rex had taken the key with him. He walked past the first toilet where the screaming woman had come out from, he pointed his gun straight at the second one as he approached it. The door opened and a woman poked her head out to see what was going on that was making the third woman scream. The baffled look on her face changed to a look of terror as she saw Rex with the gun. He ignored her and moved to the third toilet. Since Samantha wasn’t in the first and second, the next place she could be was the third one. A gunshot sound and screams from the women behind distracted him but he wasn’t distracted for more than two seconds, he knew that the men outside were already trying to open the door and he had to act faster than they were. He kicked open the third door with his foot and met the place empty. His eyes moved up from the water closet and stopped at the window. He noticed that the glass there had been taken off and the bolts and nuts of the window were on the floor. He also saw a ladies bag on the floor and a cloth the same color of the top Samantha was putting on.
Phew! He whistled as he turned back angrily. She was gone so quick. She must have changed her disguise for Stainless not to have seen her. ‘F**k Stainless!’ he cursed in his mind as he climbed up the water closet. As placed his hands carefully on apron of the destroyed window, he suddenly realized that he may have been the fooled person, maybe Samantha was the woman who came out of the restroom and walked past his side, after changing her disguise. He heard a second gunshot, he knew the door wouldn’t survive the third one. He supported his weight on his elbows and squeezed himself out through the window.
The officers rushed into the restroom with their guns and one of the women pointed the third toilet door to them. They allowed the women leave the place safely.
One of the officers proceeded into the third toilet and quickly noticed that the window had been destroyed. He climbed up the water closet and attempted to climb through the window but he screamed out in pain as he placed his hands on the window apron.
Henry kept looking around for signs of Cole a minute after Tarasha had entered back into the car silently. He knew they were not supposed to return without the Vice President according to their plan but he also knew that things didn’t work out as planned at the moment he saw Tarasha coming alone to the pick up point.
‘Where are you Cole?’ Henry turned to look back as he heard Tara’s voice. She was speaking into the mouthpiece of the communication device.
‘I changed my clothes and I’m coming out already,’ Cole’s voice sounded in Tarasha’s earpiece.
‘Just cross and wait at the other side, we’d meet you on the way.’ Tarasha said and ended the connection.
‘Where are we going to pick him?’ Henry asked impatiently.
‘Make a U-turn to the other side, he’d come out to meet us.’
Henry pushed the start button of the car and drove away after putting on his seatbelt.
‘So Tara, what happened?’ Henry said inquisitively, looking at her face through the rear view mirror.
‘Plans have changed, the target fell sick and won’t be able to leave the hospital for now.’ she replied him.
‘How long is he staying in the hospital?: Henry asked.
‘I don’t have an idea.’
‘That means the illness must be serious, for it to caused the event to stop.’
‘I don’t know how serious it is, but I know we have to leave here now.’ Tarasha replied, deliberately avoiding talking about Rex appearance.
The reason for her inefficient planning returned to her mind. Suddenly, she felt the need to know her real mother again and to know whether she had siblings or not and even if possible to know who her father was.
1 hour later
The search for Rex continued outside the hospital while the treatment of the Vice President continued inside. Rex was able to escape the men because he found the security officer’s clothes that Cole had abandoned and had worn it to disguise.
__In The Hospital__
‘Agent James, your father’s PCV is low. We’d need to put him on treatment to see if it’ll rise, but if it doesn’t, he’ll need blood transfusion.’ The doctor said, facing Agent James.
They were still in the hospital ward, Agent James was seated while the Doctor stood beside the bed.
‘What’s PCV?’ James asked the doctor.
‘PCV is the volume percentage of red blood cells in the body. It’s low for your Dad, I hope treatment works, so that he doesn’t need transfusion.’
‘Is there any problem with transfusion?’ James asked.
‘No, there’s no problem once we get someone’s blood that matches with his.’
‘My genotype is AA, I hope it’ll work.’
‘Well, it’s not about that alone. We’d have to run some tests first but let’s just hope the treatment for the PCV raises it.’
Dave was still seated with the other guests, his head was bowed and his face buried into his palms. He had been watching out for signs of Samantha Osman for hours and was already weary, he decided to rest a bit. Thoughts of Stephanie filled his mind, he wondered how she was going to go about the case now that she wanted to do it alone. He knew she would find it difficult even with all the evidences he had seen with her. He could only hope and pray that she loses none of the evidences and that she becomes able to keep the evidences in safety until she won the case.
Dr Ekwueme and Tomi watched keenly as Tarasha, Cole and Henry walked into the house tiredly. Tomi stared at the door keenly as the last of the latter group closed the door behind, wondering where the sixth person Tarasha had asked her to cook for was.
‘I’m hungry,’ Henry was the first to complain as he sank heavily into the sofa.
‘I’ve prepared food for everyone, I made for six.’ Tomi replied aloud, wanting Tarasha to hear her and hoping one of them would talk about the person they were supposed to kidnap but Tarasha walked straight to her room with her shoes after taking them off.
‘How was it?’ Dr Ekwueme asked Henry impatiently after Tarasha had walked out of sight, Cole had also followed her. Dr Ekwueme had been waiting for their arrival since they left. He had felt some excitement that morning after Tarasha explained the role he was supposed to play when they return with the Vice President. He was watching the television with Tomi when they heard of their arrival and had quickly lowered the volume in anticipation of their entrance into the house with the kidnapped Vice President.
Henry tried to sit up as he searched in his mind for simple words to summarize their ordeal to the doctor but he didn’t need to talk much when his gaze fell on the TV screen, the evening news was being broadcasted. ‘There, that explains why we came back with no one.’ Henry said, nodding towards the TV.
‘VICE PRESIDENT COLLAPSES DURING NEW GENERAL HOSPITAL OPENING,’ the headline of the news read.
Dr Ekwueme increased the TV volume and they all listened to the newscaster as she read out the details of the news.
‘Wow! That must have really disrupted the plans,’ Dr Ekwueme exclaimed, he and Tomi looking at Henry’s face and expecting more explanation
Henry shook his head in fatigue and sighed. ‘Please, can I get my meal now?’ He glared at Tomi.
‘Oh! Of course yes,’ Tomi smiled and hurried off to serve his food.
Cole squeezed his lips and covered his nostrils with the top lip to escape the stench from his socks as he took them off. He had been left with no choice other than to wear the smelly security guard’s shoes which were too tight for his feet for more than three hours.
He flung the pair of socks towards the wardrobe area and stood up from the edge of the bed to stretch his body and his feet. He was about sitting back when he heard the drowned sound of the ringing tone of one of his phones. As he proceeded towards the drawer where the sound was coming from, he realized that it was the phone he reserved for communicating with Patricia and he knew there could be no other caller except her. He opened the drawer and took out the phone. Her voice rang out with a sad melody as he answered the call.
‘Aww love, what have I done to you?’
‘What have you done to me?’ He repeated the question to himself with a frown appearing on his face.
‘Yes, what did I do to you? You refused to answer my calls since morning,’ Patricia replied from the other end.
‘No dear, it’s not as you think. I’ve been very busy and I’ve been without my phone. I just got into the house and haven’t even seen my phone until now.’
‘Oh! I thought you weren’t answering because you were angry with me.’
‘Come on, why should I be angry with you? I’ve just been so busy.’
‘I’ve missed you so much,’ she said in a touching voice.
‘I missed you too, more than you can imagine.’ Cole replied with a soft voice, smiling to himself. He turned and faced the other side, resting his bum on the top of the table.
‘When are we seeing again?’
‘Very soon, as soon as I return to Abuja.’
‘When are you returning?’
‘I’m not sure for now, but I’ll update you as time goes.’ He replied. Another phone which was on the pillow in the bed began to ring.
Patricia drew a deep sigh and remained in silence for a while.
‘It’s okay,’ she said, her voice sounding very low. ‘I’ll have to wait till you return.’
‘I promise it’ll be as soon as I can dear,’ Cole said as he proceeded to the bed. He was now in a hurry to end the call, the new call was from Tarasha. ‘I’ll call you later tonight.’
‘Okay, I’ll be expecting your call dear. Don’t…’
‘Later dear,’ Cole said and ended the call hurriedly without waiting to hear what she wanted to say next. He didn’t want the incoming call from Tarasha to end before he could answer it.
‘Boss,’ he said into the phone as he answered.
‘Come to my room,’ Tarasha’s voice sounded in an urgent tone and the line went dead immediately.
Two Minutes Later
‘Did you see Agent Dave James before we left the place?’ Tarasha asked Cole. She was seating on a chair behind a table with a laptop in front of her but staring thinly and thoughtfully at the wall. Cole stood behind her, he had put on a black sleeveless top and football shorts before coming there.
‘No, I didn’t. He was seated with some other guests the last time I saw him .’
‘So, we can’t tell if he did anything there.’
‘I didn’t see him do anything,’ Cole replied.
There was total silence for about a minute before Tarasha spoke again, ‘The Nanl Gang had its headquarters previously located in Lagos right?’
‘Yes, we were based in Lagos. Don Daniel operated from here with his major men but had some other agents in other states,’ Cole replied with a raised eyebrow, wondering why Tarasha was asking a question about the Nanl gang.
‘He had agents in all thirty six states?’ Tarasha asked.
‘Not in all, but in every major city in the country. In some, we had other related assassin gangs we work with, like that of Stainless that was in Abuja.’
‘These agents and other assassins you work with, how good were they?’
‘Not one of them was as good as Don Daniel, several of them were trained by him from the scratch or went through some form of training connected to him.’
‘Do you know if these agents also work for or with Stainless?’
‘No, they don’t. Stainless always saw Don Daniel as a threat and did not like to work with anyone who worked with Don.’ Cole replied. The frown on his face thickened and he became more eager to know the reason for her questions.
Tarasha remained quiet for a while. She tapped the laptop screen gently with a finger and it came on, she scrolled up and clicked on the desktop icon, then she opened the NSCC app. The video player was on and she had an ongoing video paused. She zoomed the picture and rested her back, she stared at the picture for a minute and began to ruminate on some thoughts.
Cole stared intently at the screen silently from behind. It was the security cameras footage of the hospital area that day during the opening ceremony. The particular scene she was at showed several security officers standing at specific places on the events ground, Cole could also locate himself. He counted and the security officers there numbered more than ten.
‘Rex is a high skilled assassin, he’s from the Tiger Clan.’ Tarasha suddenly began to talk again as she sprang up from her seat. She walked straight to the window side and Cole wondered if she was thinking aloud to herself or if she was talking to him. ‘He’s had so many advantages over us,’ she continued after opening the window blinds. She turned towards Cole and rested her palms behind her on the window apron. ‘We have to spend a lot of money to match up with him; else he’d always be ahead of us.’
She suddenly turned again and closed the window blinds, and then she returned to where she was seated previously. ‘Look here,’ she flashed a look at Cole as she zoomed out the video scene with her fingers. Cole quickly stepped forward, now realizing she was talking to him.
She was about to continue with her explanation when the door flung open and distracted both of them, Henry had come in. He stood at the door way and fanned himself with the shirt he took off while staring at both of them as they stared back at him like they saw a ghost. He was sweating profusely because of the hot meal he had just taken.
Tarasha turned back to the laptop but rested her back instead. She let out a sigh as Henry closed the door and proceeded towards them.
‘One major thing that’s weakening our team is the presence of emotions, ‘ she said to Cole in a sad tone before Henry got to them.
‘What are you guys up to?’ Henry asked.
‘Join us,’ Tarasha replied sharply and leaned forward again. ‘Rex works for the Vice President, therefore everyone working for the Vice President works with him, it doesn’t matter if they are aware or not. So we can say that all these security officers standing here works to the advantage of Rex,’ she said as she zoomed in the screen again. ‘This can be neglected when our enemies aren’t from a specialist clan like the Villary or when they’re ordinary security officers but it is an advantage for Rex, and it is enough to keep him ahead of us, that’s why we can’t ignore. We need to level up with him.’
She stopped talking and zoomed out the video, she used her finger to drag the duration pointer on the video player twenty minutes farther. She stopped and zoomed in again, it showed outside the hospital and the road leading there.
She took a quick glance at the faces of her listeners and she met Henry with a confused look staring at Cole who didn’t also look like he understood the last thing she said.
‘Boss, what do you mean by level up?’ Cole asked to clear his doubt.
Tarasha turned back and zoomed in the video, swiping slowly in different directions to show them the different points the security officers were located on the streets.
‘All these security officers work to protect the Vice President and that complements Rex’s work,’ she continued to explain. ‘We only went into the events venue as two men, Henry who is the third person was our backup. For us to have carried out the operation successfully if we wanted to kidnap Elvis Richards there, we would have had to deal with the security men in the venue and deal with those outside when trying to escape. This wouldn’t have been a problem except for Rex’s presence. He would have determined a way to defeat us while we were working on the security officers.’
‘Hmm…’ Cole made a humming sound, now making sense out of her explanation.
‘Now, we need to take care of the security officers and other defense options of the Vice President and Inspector General in another way while we face Rex and his team directly or we take care of Rex and face the other defense options squarely.’
‘I understand better boss, but how do we do this?’ Cole asked.
Tarasha got up and turned her seat around, she sat and faced Cole directly. ‘How many assassin agents can you reach in twenty four hours?’
Cole’s eyes wandered about the ceiling for a moment as he quickly searched through his mind.
‘I need you to reach at least five of them in the next twenty four hours and give them twenty four hours to report to a location here in Lagos. We’re going to work with them as substitutes and backups,’ she said without waiting to give him an answer and turned her chair back afterwards.
She minimized the NSCC application and opened the electronic mail app. She located the last message from Rex and clicked on reply.
She stopped for a second and turned to Cole. ‘When are you getting to work?’ she asked in a sharp tone, wondering why he was still standing behind her motionlessly.
‘Right away boss, I’ll just go take my food first.’ Cole said and quickly turned back. He flashed a look at Henry before proceeding towards the door.
‘Won’t you eat before you continue working?’ Henry asked Tara, a minute after Cole had gone out. He moved closer and stared at her activity on the screen, she was typing a message.
‘I will do that after sending this message,’ she replied and continued to type.
Henry carefully followed line by line as she typed.
‘You don’t need to kill Chief Nonso, I have a better deal for Elvis Richards. I need to meet him physically and have a chat with him. I understand he collapsed today and may not be able to attend to me right away but I’ll give him some few days to be fit enough and call for the meeting. All you have to do is make sure Chief Nonso is kept safe and sound. ’
She proofread the message once before clicking on send.
‘What? Tara, you think they would agree for you to meet Chief Elvis Richards?’ Henry asked with his eyes widened in surprise.
‘I don’t think so, but I know that this message would buy us more time.’ She replied
‘Are you really sure about this?’ Henry asked with a doubtful tone.
She gave him no answer even as he stared at her curiously. She shut down her laptop and closed it up.
‘I have to do some work before we meet with Rex and the Vice president again,’ she said as she turned her seat.
‘What other work are you talking about?’ Henry asked.
Tarasha stared at his face for a while. She then closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. ‘I need to know if my mum is still alive and find her location if possible.’
‘I don’t think they’re planning to leave Lagos soon,’ Dave read the chat message from Lizzy.
‘I believe they’ll remain here as far as the Vice President still remains here,’ Dave typed and sent in reply.
‘I’ll keep in touch with him and notify you anytime he’s in a traceable location,’ another message from Lizzy entered.
‘Thanks Liz, I appreciate your efforts.’
Dave finally closed the chat application. He stretched and yawned before lying in the bed. Just as he finished positioning his head on the pillow and pulling on the blanket, his mind got filled with thoughts of Stephanie. He heaved a deep sigh and reached for his phone again. He opened up the contact application and scrolled to her number.
Stephanie lay in the bed sleeplessly. She couldn’t still get her mind off the fact that all the proofs she had against the Vice President had been turned to ashes. She was never going to forgive Madam Henrietta if the Vice President went unpunished.
As she turned and twitched restlessly around the bed, her elbow touched her phone where she had dropped it. She picked it up and unlocked it. She stared at the screen for a while, not knowing what to do with it but later opened her WhatsApp messenger to check the messages. She scrolled through the list of chats and found none that caught her interest. She minimized the app and opened the Facebook mobile application, she began to scroll through the news feed slowly. As she did, she came across the friends suggestions and found a Facebook user named David James.
A strange calmness overwhelmed her and the phone dropped from her hand as she remembered Dave and the little time she spent with him. She knew he would have been the right person to talk to in her situation, but what could she do if Dave could not be trusted? It was better to wait until she finds someone else who can help her than to work with someone that she couldn’t trust.
The phone began to ring at that same moment and she turned to look at it. Surprisingly to her, Dave was the caller. She stared at the screen without making any move to answer the call. The same person she was wishing she could speak to some seconds ago was now calling but she was too angry with him to answer the call.
The phone stopped ringing and began to ring for a second time, she still did not answer.
‘Boss, we have a new message.’
Rex could hear Stainless voice from behind the door. He was seated in a dark room and was smoking heavily. He had not been able to think straight since he escaped from the venue of the event.
‘Who sent the message?’ He asked with his thickened voice.
‘It’s from Samantha, it was sent about two hours ago.’ Stainless replied.
Rex turned his phone on and flashed a quick look at the time. He let out a deep breath. He was surprised that he had been in that room for more than two hours. He quickly got up and hurried towards the door.
In few minutes, he was seated behind his laptop in another room after washing himself. Samantha’s new message came as a surprise to him and he wondered why she wanted to have a meeting with the Vice President and what her plan was. He pondered on the whole situation for a couple of minutes and was unable to draw out any reasonable purpose for her wanting the physical meeting. It then occurred to him that it was possible she only wanted to delay the threat he made against Chief Nonso.
There was no way he was going to kill Chief Nonso even if she didn’t try to delay. If making the threat hadn’t compelled her to do their wish, then carrying out the threat would not make things better, it could only make her more stubborn.
He pondered for some more minutes before making a conclusion. He knew she would be expecting a negative reply from him so he decided to send her a positive one, so she wouldn’t have excuses to make more delays. If she really needed the meeting, he would fix one with the Vice President for her.
Chapters 16 part 6&7
‘Good morning Cole, do we have any message yet?’ Tarasha asked as she walked into the living room with a mug containing warm tea in her right hand.
‘Morning boss, Yes, we have a reply already.’Cole replied. He stretched and yawned on the long sofa where he spent the night in. His phone dropped from the sofa to the floor and he quickly reached for it.
‘When did the reply come in?’ Tarasha asked as she gulped down the remaining contents of the cup.
‘Late last night, you were asleep already.’Cole replied. He already sat up and was trying to access the mail from his device.
‘Do you have it there?’ Tarasha asked as she dropped the cupnoisily on the centre table and joined him on the three seater sofa.
‘I’m trying to get it,’he replied her and adjusted himself to give her space on the seat.
It took Cole a minute to get the mail, he handed the phone to Tarasha and rested his back.
Tarasha read it through for a few seconds and looked up. ‘They accepted?’ she asked in surprise as she stared at Cole’s face.
Cole let out a breath and only stared back at her in reply. Tarasha rose to her feet and began to pace around slowly in thoughts. After some minutes, she stopped for a second beside the centre table and picked up the cup of tea she had dropped there, wanting to take a sip but she realized she had finished the tea before dropping the cup. She smashed the cup angrily on the floor.
‘Boss!’Cole stared at her in surprise, lifting his two legs up to avoid stepping on the broken cup.
‘Sorry about that,’ she flashed a look at him and apologized. ‘Please get Tomi to clean it up.’
Colereturned to the living room a minute after but sat at a different place. Tomi joined seconds later with a sweeper and something to pack the dirt.
‘How many of the assasinagents have you been able to reach?’Tarasha asked Cole some minutes later. She was now seated on the three seater as Tomi had finished cleaning the place.
‘I reached ten of them before two a.m, I got responses fromthree of them instantly and got two other responses this morning already,’he replied her.
‘Are they positive responses?’ she asked.
‘Yea…’Cole said with a note of confidence. Then his look changed again and he frowned. ‘Maybe,’ he answered again, this time with so much uncertainty in his voice.
Tarasha raised her brows at him, expecting more explanation.
‘Most of them were anxious to know about the pay, and except for two of them, they really wanted to know the reason you needed them.’Cole added.
‘Did you tell them it’s for a special mission?’
‘Yes, I did. But as it is, they’re anxious to know what the special mission is.’
‘Have they agreed to meet with you?’
‘Three have, andI agreed to cover their flight expenses. I should get the responses from all others before twelve noon today.’
‘And where did you choose to meet with them?’
‘I’ve not gotten a specific venue yet, I’ve only made arrangements for their hotel rooms. I will decide the venue when I get enough responses.’
‘Please ensure you do, you canmake use of my personal account for the money transfers when you’re ready.’she said as she got up on her feet to leave.
‘Okay boss,’Cole said, nodding his head gently. He watched her walk away slowly before moving back to the three seater sofa to continue his sleep.
**New General Hospital, Gbagada**
‘Good morning Dad, I hope you’re feeling better now.’James greeted his Dad as he settled on the seat beside the bed.
‘James, Good morning. Yes, I am feeling better.’ Chief Elvis Richards replied in a thick baritone voice. ‘I saw you here when I woke at midnight.’
‘Yes,I had to make use of the chair overnight.’
‘And you allowed them sleep comfortably in other rooms?’ the man questioned, referring to his guard and his assistant. One was standing close to the door while the other was seating some distance behind.
‘Well, I just felt like being the one to watch over you.’
‘Nice of you, but you should still have left them, that’s what they’re paid to do. I’m sure you’re here in Lagos for something important and you’d need to rest.’
‘It’s no issue Dad, I really wanted to be the one to stay here.’
‘Well, how did you get to know so quick I was sick?The news couldn’t have gone so far when you got here yesterday.’
‘I was actually here when it happened, I was part of the event.’ James answered.
‘You mean you were part of the hospital opening?’
‘Yes, I was but I didn’t come in for the exhibition.’
‘Okay, that’s strange. I’m not aware that you’re a fan of functions like this.’
‘Yes Dad, I actually wanted to see you and have a talk with you. I’ve not been able to do that since the last time I met with you at your house.’
‘Yes, we’ve not spoken since then.’ the man said in a low voice, stretching his body gently in the bed. ‘I really do hope this conversation you want with me would not end the way the last one ended.’
‘No, it won’t.’ James replied, letting out a smile. ‘But we can’t talk now, and I think I’m talking too much with you already, you should be resting.’
‘I’m talking with my mouth James, that isn’t where the sickness is.’
James smiled, ‘I saw the doctor after freshening up, he told me you were awake and asked me not to bother you with talks.’
The Vice President sighed and looked away, wondering in his mind what James had to talk to him about and why James was sounding so friendly. Maybe it was only because he was on the sick bed and James was having pity for him in the condition.
He turned back and looked at his assistant. ‘Where’s my phone? Do I have missed calls or messages?’
‘Yes, you do.’ the assistant replied and proceeded towards the Vice President after taking out the phone from his pocket.
‘Not now Dad,’ James snatched the phone from the assistant’s hand. ‘You just had breakfast and your mediations, the doctor asked that you rest well. Your assistant would continue attending to the messages for you.’
Dr Ekwuemesat quietly in his bedroom , reflecting on what his life had turned to. He wasn’t feeling unhappy or depressed, but he still felt things were not the way they ought to be. Actually, he had been more relaxed and been with less trouble in his mind since he had been with Samantha Osman. He couldn’t tell if she was like a protective covering of some sort but that was what she appeared to have been for him. His nightmares and premonition of evil had ceased since he started leaving with her and his heart had been filled with strange feelings of fulfilment knowing that he was in a team of people who were determined to punish the bad eggs in the country. He was also happy that he would have the opportunity of proving to his beloved ex wife that he could still make things right.
Strangely, he had stopped missing his family and the hospitalbut he didn’t wish to return to them if the Samantha Osman team did not succeed with their assignment. He only hoped that all would be well with his family and the hospital before everything ended.
A gentle knock at the door disrupted his thoughts and he looked up. The knock sounded again.
‘Please come in,’ he said after adjusting himself on the bed.
The door opened slowly and Tarasha walked in. She closed the door and stared at him for a few seconds before proceeding to the bed. She sat beside him and looked blankly into his eyes.
He stared back at her without saying anything, wondering what she had come to do in the room. He had seen her in the living room when he went for his breakfast and they had spoken casually, she hadn’t given a hint that she was coming to see him.
‘Doc, I have some questions to ask and I hope you do give me answers.’ Tarasha finally began to speak after leaving the man to wander in his thoughts for more than two minutes.
‘Of course,I will give you answers as long as I have them.’ the doctor replied.
‘It appears that you were very close to Dr Danjuma’s family before their death.’ she said.
‘Yes, they were like family friends to my family.’
‘So, that means you know much about their personal lives, and their kids.’
‘Yes, I think I do.’ the doctor replied. ‘But I’m not sure what you really want and why you’re asking about them.’
‘I only need to connect some things, the Danjuma family was one of those families destroyed by Chief Elvis Richards. We cannot ignore them if we want to bring down the Vice President.’
‘Okay, I’ll give you answers to your questions as long as I have them.’
‘Thank you, I gotta start now.’she paused for some seconds before she continued. ‘What happened to the Danjuma’s case against Chief Elvis Richards after their death?’
‘It was swept off, there was no one to continue. But even while they were alive, Chief Elvis won against them, Danjuma only threatened to take up the case again.’
‘So the whole of the Danjuma family was killed?Were there no relatives?’
‘The relatives of Dr Danjuma who I knew didn’t stay in Lagos and since Danjuma died, I never heard from them or about them.’
‘Is there a possibility that any member of the Danjuma’s family survived the assassination?’
‘I don’t think so, I know that they wanted to wipe the whole family out, I don’t think they changed that wish.’
There was silence for a moment.
‘What about the girl child of the Danjuma’s? You mentioned that she wasn’t their child.’
‘Yes, she wasn’t. They only saved and helped the mother and baby.’
‘Do you know who the mother of the girl is?’
‘I think I met the mother once or twice, she was a young lady then.’
‘How old was the girl child when you met the mother?’
‘I can’t remember that.’
‘Did you know when she was born?’
‘No, I don’t. I only knew after the birth when Lydia Danjuma assumed the role of the mother.’
Tarasha felt her heart ache at the sound of his last words but she held herself in and refused to make any outward expression.
‘So, can we find this girl’s mother?’
‘Huh?’ the doctor’s face thickened with a frown. ‘Find the girl’s mother? I’m not sure. What do you need her for?’
‘I do think she must be very close to the Danjuma’s family for Mrs Lydia to agree to cater for her baby and if she really was close, then I can get some information from her.’
‘No, I thought I told you before that they only found the young girl in a bush with the baby. They never knew her before then.’
‘Oh! So Lydia Danjuma found the mother and baby in a bush and decided to take home the baby?’
‘No, I think the mother needed help. And Lydia didn’t find them alone, she was with her husband when they found them together.’
‘Oh! What a nice couple they must have been.’
‘Yea, they were nice people.’ Dr Ekwueme said in a sad voice. ‘Its sad that the world is cruel and it doesn’t matter if you’re nice or not, evil happens to anyone.’
‘Why should evil happen to everyone?’Tarasha asked with a sad expression on her face. ‘My parents believed in a God they always prayed to and they believed he would help them avert evil. Alas! That God was only a figment of their imagination, he never existed.’
Dr Ekwueme flashed a quick look at her face, surprised to hear her talk like that. ‘Are you an atheist?’
‘What does that mean?’ she let out a chuckle. ‘Let’s go back to our discussion, is there anyway to find Dr Danjuma or Mrs Lydia’s relatives?’
‘I’m not sure,’ Dr Danjuma paused to think. After a while, he heaved a sigh and looked into her eyes. ‘I know a particular family that used to visit them often, I’m not sure who was related to who but I’m sure they were family.’
‘How well do you know this family?’
‘Not too well, we only met a couple of times at social functions.’
‘Do you know the family name?’
‘Do you know where they stay?’
Tarasha sighed tiredly. ‘That means there’s no way to find them since you know nothing about them.’
‘I know that the man was an estate agent at a time, he showed us some houses he was in charge of and tried to encourage us to buy them.’
‘Do you still remember the location of those houses?’ she asked, raising her eyebrows hopefully.
‘Yes, I think I do.’
‘Great, prepare now. We’d leave the house in the next one hour.’ she said and sprang up to her feet.
‘Sir, you’ve had four missed calls from a particular number. He asked to speak with you directly.’ the Vice President’s assistant said to him.
‘Who’s the person?’the Vice President asked, letting out a yawn.
‘He said his name was Rex.’
‘Rex?’ his eyebrows raised. The assistant and some of the Vice President’s close guards had met Rex but they didn’t know his name or the full details of what he did with the Vice President. He tried to sit up and was assisted by his assistant to rest his back against the headboard. ‘Dial the number and give the phone to me.’
The assistant carried out the instruction and gave the phone to the Vice President.
‘Hello Rex,’ the Vice President said into the phone.
‘Vice President, I just fixed a meeting with Tarasha for you, when would you be fit enough to meet with her.’
‘You did what? How could you do that without asking from me?’ the Vice President flared up.
‘Relax your Excellency, I have a plan.’ Rex said confidently from the other end.
‘This your plan shouldn’t involve me, I won’t have the time to meet her.’
‘You would man, I would fix it in a good way. All you need to do is tell me when you’re leaving the hospital.’
‘I’m not in support of this Rex,’ the Vice President said tiredly.
‘When are you getting out of there?’ Rex replied adamantly.
‘I’m leaving today,’ he replied reluctantly.
‘Good, I’ll fix the meeting for next tomorrow.’ Asked
‘No Rex…’ Chief Elvis tried to argue but Rex had already ended the call.
He heaved a sigh and shook his head. Then he passed the phone back to his assistant and closed his eyes to think.
Opic Estate, Ogun State
‘Who is there?’ a man’s voice sounded from behind the gate after the second time of pressing the bell.
Tarasha and the doctor kept mute and waited on hearing the footsteps of a man walking towards the gate.
‘Yes? Good evening, how may I help you?’ a young man said to them through a small space opened at the gate. They could only see his face partially.
‘Good evening sir,’ Tarasha replied. ‘Please, we would like to see those that stay here.’
‘Those that stay here?’ the young man’s brows gathered together. ‘What for please?’
‘I’m a journalist from Desert Reporters and I’m carrying out a survey. I would like to ask the owners of this house some questions.’ Tarasha answered, displaying her identity card for him to see.
The young man scanned through the identity card and stared at the two people for a while, scrutinizing their faces as if he could know if they were saying the truth or not by mere looking at them.
‘Please, wait for me, I’ll be back in few seconds.’ The young man said and walked back into the house. Two minutes later, he returned with an elderly man who opened the gate to see the guests.
‘Good evening sir,’ Tarasha greeted the elderly man first before he could talk.
‘Good evening young woman, how may I help you?’ the elderly man asked, standing in between the opened gate. He noticed the man standing behind her but couldn’t see the face as the man had his back turned to them and was looking at the road.
‘I’m Evelyn Alex sir, from Desert Reporters. I’m here on a survey and I’ll like to ask you some few questions about this apartment.’ Tarasha introduced herself. The gate was opened wider now, but still not wide enough for those outside to see the compound as both men were blocking the open space. Tarasha noticed the resemblance between the elderly man and the young man, she needed no one to make it known that the elderly man was the younger one’s father.
Dr Ekwueme finally turned back to join them in the conversation. He was about to greet the man when he noticed that he was someone he knew. The man also looked at his face at the same time and both stared at each other with their mouths agape in surprise as they tried to remember each other perfectly.
‘Dr Ekwueme,’ the other man was the first to speak out.
‘Dr Francis,’ Dr Ekwueme replied happily and both men moved closer to shake each other’s hands and hug briefly. ‘How have you been doc?’ Dr Ekwueme asked excitedly, patting the man on his back.
Tarasha sighed and shook her head. They had come for a different mission but the doctor seemed to have turned it to a reunion with his friend.
‘I’ve been fine, how about you and your family?’
‘We’ve been doing well too, thanks to God.’ Dr Ekwueme replied.
‘That’s nice to know, please come in.’ Dr Francis said and opened the gate wide enough for them to come in.
Tarasha allowed Dr Ekwueme walk in first and then followed after. She sighed again as she walked behind the doctors who continued chatting even as Dr Francis led them into the house. She wished she had not come to the place with Dr Ekwueme. But she still saw it as an advantage on the other hand because Dr Francis would be more willing to give them an answer to the question they had and even helped them where he could.
‘Your son has grown so big!’ Dr Ekwueme commented, staring at the man’s son who had stayed back to lock the gate and was just catching up with them.
The young man smiled and bowed slightly in respect, also mumbling some words in greeting.
‘Yes, he recently finished studying from the U.K while his younger sister is still in the U.K trying to obtain her masters.’
‘That’s good, I’m sure they are giving you the happiness you used to long for.’
‘Yes, of course.’ Dr Francis replied with a bright smile, remembering several years ago when he and his wife did not get their first child until after ten years of marriage. They got to the front of the big house and climbed up the short steps to the large balcony. ‘Can we sit here and talk?’ the man said, ushering Dr Ekwueme forward.
There were about three sets of tables and chairs arranged at spaced interval in the balcony. They settled at the closest one and Dr Francis asked his son to get refreshments for his guests.
‘So who is this pretty lady we have here? Your daughter I guess,’ Dr Francis said smiling, staring at Dr Ekwueme’s face.
‘Oh! Yea, you can call her my daughter. She’s like one to me,’ Dr Ekwueme replied, flashing a look at Tarasha who was seated beside him. Dr Ekwueme was sitting opposite them at the other side of the table.
Tarasha glanced back at Dr Ekwueme and chuckled at his words but tried her best to conceal it.
‘What have you been up to lately?’ Dr Ekwueme asked his friend.
‘Nothing really since I retired, you know I had interests in some business, so I invested in them after the retirement.’ Dr Francis replied cheerfully. ‘But the investments have been yielding slowly and there’s been nothing really big,’ he paused again and smiled. ‘I know it’s different for you, your hospital is one of the bests in the east.’
‘Come on, that’s what people say.’
‘They say it because it’s true.’
Dr Francis’ son soon returned with a maid and served them fruit juice.
‘Now, let’s get to the reason you are here. We can continue catching up with old times later on.’ Dr Francis said after giving his guests some minutes to have a taste of the juice. He kept changing his look from Tarasha to Dr Ekwueme’s face, wondering who would continue the talking.
Dr Ekwueme flashed a look at Tarasha’s face, expecting her to proceed with the discussion but he met her already staring at him and it was obvious she was expecting him to do the talking. He cleared his throat and fixed his gaze on Dr Francis face.
‘Dr Francis, my daughter here is a journalist who’s on a research. I actually brought her here because this estate is one which I know very well. She selected some few houses with unique designs and your house was selected among them. Incidentally, yours is the first we are visiting. What she actually needs it to know the builders or the civil engineers that constructed the house. They are the ones that would have more answers to give us.’
‘Hmmm,’ Dr Francis tightened his face. ‘Well, I don’t really know the builders of this house, I bought it after it was built.’
‘Oh!’ Dr Ekwueme exclaimed and rested his back like someone that felt disappointed.
‘Sir, isn’t there a way of finding out who did?’ Tarasha put in.
‘Well, there should be a way, but I don’t know that way.’
‘What about those that sold the house to you? Do you still have their contacts?’
‘Hmm,’ Dr Francis squeezed his face more. He closed his eyes briefly, trying to recall. ‘Well, I think I still have the agent’s contacts saved somewhere.’
‘Oh! The agent’s contact information would be nice too.’ Dr Ekwueme said.
‘But I have it written in a contact book somewhere not close by,’ Dr Francis said.
‘Somewhere not close by? How far is this place?’ Dr Ekwueme asked.
Dr Francis smiled. ‘Not far sir, it’s actually in this house but I kept them somewhere very uneasy to reach.’
‘Wow! So, what do we do now?’
‘I’ll just help you search for it,’ Dr Francis offered.
‘Oh! That’ll be nice of you, I appreciate.’ Dr Ekwueme thanked him.
‘Thank you sir,’ Tarasha joined with a smile. She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket at that moment and she took it out.
‘It’s Okay,’ Dr Francis replied. He took out his phone to check the time before rising up to his feet. ‘I think you should come in now and wait while I search for it.’
Dr Ekwueme flashed a quick look at Tarasha, as if to ask for her permission on what to do. From the look on her eyes, he was able to tell that she preferred to remain outside. ‘Well, we wouldn’t mind staying here except you’ll stay in for long.’
‘I don’t think I’ll spend much time, it’s only that you may feel alone.’
‘No, we’d be okay Dr Francis, please go in and check for us.’
Tarasha watched until the man walked into the house before she dialed back the number calling her phone.
‘Cole,’ she said into the mouthpiece as the call was answered.
‘Boss, we have another message from Rex.’
‘What is the message all about?’
‘He has already fixed a time for us to meet with the Vice President.’
Tarasha’s mouth was left agape in surprise, but only for a short moment. ‘What day and time did he fix?’
‘Next tomorrow, 2pm. But he says he would send us the venue and time later.’
‘Okay then,’ Tarasha said, letting out a deep breath. ‘We would have to start preparing for the meeting. How many of your assassin agents have arrived?’
‘Four of them are in Lagos already, I’m expecting three more today.’
‘Okay, tell me once the remaining three arrives. I believe the seven of them would be okay for now.’
42 minutes later**
Dr Francis had returned to the balcony with the house documents which contained the Agent’s name and the previous property owners. The doctor engaged Dr Ekwueme in a conversation while Tarasha went through the documents.
‘I think I even met the Agent through you, or didn’t I?’ Dr Francis said to Dr Ekwueme.
‘Hmm, I don’t think so.’ Dr Ekwueme replied.
‘Yes, I knew him through you.’ Dr Francis replied with more confidence. ‘He came along with you to the Birthday party I celebrated at Beno Hotels.’
‘Oh!’ Dr Ekwueme feigned remembrance. ‘I think I remember that birthday party, the person you’re talking about must be Danjuma’s relative.’
‘Humn… I think he was,’ Dr Francis hummed for a little while, trying to recall. ‘You’re right, he was.’
‘Here, thanks sir.’ Tarasha cut into their conversation, returning the file containing the documents back to Dr Francis.
‘Have you gotten all you need from it?’ Dr Ekwueme asked Tarasha and Dr Francis stared at her face to get the response.
‘Yes, I have written down all details that I needed to write. Thank you sir,’ she ended with a smile.
‘Thank you so much Dr Francis, we’re so grateful.’ Dr Ekwueme put in.
‘It’s my pleasure Doc, it’s nice seeing you again after such a long time.’
‘Yea,I think we do have to exchange numbers so that we can communicate more.’ Dr Ekwueme suggested.
The men exchanged phone numbers and Dr Francis saw the visitors off to their car which was parked outside the compound.
‘What exactly did you pick from the documents?’ Dr Ekwueme asked Tarasha few minutes after they had driven off. Tarasha was driving with the man seated by the right hand side, both had their seat belts on.
Tarasha glanced at the man, she had been expecting him to ask questions.
‘I got the names of the house agent and the name of the Estate Agency.’
‘Don’t I need to see the name of the Agent to confirm if he was really Danjuma’s relative?’
‘His name is Lewis A.G,’ Tarasha replied.
‘Lewis A.G?’ Dr Ekwueme frowned. Tarasha nodded affirmatively. ‘What’s the full for the initials?’
‘I think I saw it somewhere as Andrew George.’
‘Andrew George,’ the man muttered under his breath. ‘The name sounds familiar but I’m not really sure I remember though.’
‘Aren’t you sure anymore that the man was the agent of the house we just left?’
‘I’m sure, he brought the pictures of the houses in that area to me several years ago and told me their prices and location.’
‘Then we only have to find him through the Estate Agency. Even if he has retired or resigned, we should still be able to trace him.’
‘I hope so.’
‘James, are you spending the night at the quarters with me?’ Chief Elvis Richards asked his son. Both of them were seated at the back seat of a jeep while a security officer was at the front seat with the driver.
‘If you wouldn’t mind sir,’ James replied.
‘Of course, I wouldn’t. I just thought you would like to return this night to where you landed in Lagos.’
‘I don’t mind staying at the quarters if I’m allowed to, the hotel I lodged is far, in Ikeja.’
‘Okay, so what exactly did you say you wanted to discuss with me?’ Chief Elvis asked, repositioning himself on the seat as he stared at his son’s face.
James drew in a breath and also turned slightly sideward to face his Dad.
‘Dad, I know we’ve not really been on good terms and that we quarrel often ever since the day I refused to study medicine in school which you wanted me to. But I’ve got to realize that even though we might have been at constant disagreement with each other, I’ve never been able to stop caring about you.’
James paused to look into his father’s eyes. Chief Elvis also stared him back in the eye, he wondered if he was supposed to feel touched by his son’s surprisingly strange but kind words to him that night.
‘I realized that it is a waste of time to always be at loggerheads with you,’ James continued. ‘I’m saying this all in respect of the developing Samantha Osman’s case against you.’
Chief Elvis heaved a sigh. He knew that his boy could not have changed easily, what the boy needed was just to extract information from him(the father).
‘Dad, it’s not what you’re thinking.’ James said, shaking his head as he realized that his father must already be thinking that he was being self centered. ‘I’m not about to ask you again whether the accusations were true or not, I only want to let you know that I’ll stand by you, no matter what the case turns out to be.’
Chief Elvis could not believe his ears after James finished with the last words. He believed James was never going to agree to be on his side, so he still had doubts.
DAVE JAMES HOTEL ROOM
‘No significant progress today Dave,’ the WhatsApp message from Lizzy popped up on Dave’s phone screen.
He picked up the phone and swiped it open. ‘Were you able to speak or chat with him today?’
‘Yes, I did but only briefly. We talked more via chats, he had time to chat for a long time with me today.’
‘And you didn’t get any useful information from the chats?’
‘No, I got none. He kept on answering my questions with lies.’
‘Please keep me updated.’
‘You’ve got no problem.’
He closed the chat and fell into the bed. He sniffed in the smell of the pillow as he buried his face in it. Then he remembered Stephanie again who liked to play with pillows. An idea struck his mind, he quickly got up and reached for his second phone. He searched out Stephanie’s number and dialed it.
Tarasha walked into the house to meet the rest of the Gang seated in the living room. All their eyes turned to her as she walked into the living room and settled on a sofa. She let out a deep breath and took off the hair wig on her head.
All of them fixed their eyes on her face like they had never seen her before, under the wig she just took off was a new haircut, she had shaved every strand of hair off her head totally. Her face looked funny and got the rest of the assassin gang team laughing, even though they tried to conceal their laughs. She however seemed not to be bothered by them.
‘Hey! Why the skin cut?’ Henry was the only one bold enough to ask and he did in a reprimanding manner.
Tarasha glanced at him and smiled but she said nothing and turned to Cole. ‘Fix a meeting for all seven assassins tomorrow morning by 9AM.’
‘Okay boss,’ Cole said and sprang up to his feet.
‘Make sure you’re back on time to join us for the news time,’ Tarasha said to him before he walked away.
‘You didn’t answer me yet, Omotara.’ Henry spoke again stubbornly.
‘Hey man! Is there anything you need to achieve with the answer I’ll give you to the question?’
‘No, I just want to know. Why did you decide to make yourself look like a big doll?’
Tomi and Dr Ekwueme tried their bests to conceal their laughter at Henry’s description of her but they couldn’t hide it enough, even Tarasha laughed briefly.
‘You will know the reason tomorrow morning, if you’re observant,’ Tarasha replied and turned her focus back to the TV.
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