“Thank you so much everyone for honoring our invitation to this epochal event, this is the first of it’s kind but we are sure that it would not be the last.” The chairman of the launch committee delivered his speech as the first half of the journey drew to a halt. The dignitaries would be allowed to leave on their own after dropping at Oso for the inspection of the bridge construction. They could choose whether to return with the ship to Bexford or not.
He was addressing them in the lounge where the guests were either sitting or standing at their different corners, socializing with themselves.
“I’ll like to specially thank the honourable Minister of transportation, Mr Black Ernest, the Governor…”
He mentioned the names of each of the special guests and paused as his audience clapped at every mention.
“I also like to thank Mr. Julius Brad, the for…” he paused and looked around to locate the man but he was nowhere to be found. “The former minister of transportation, thank you for honouring our invitation.” He continued without making eye contact with the man like he did with the others. The audience clapped even in the absence of the person mentioned.
“Thanks to the men of the press and the security officials too,” he continued. “I know we all have different plans after the inspection of the construction project, but I’ll like to also invite you all for a small party during our return journey, it’ll hold right in one of the halls in this ship.
Thank’s once again for coming, and…” He paused as he sighted the former Minister of transportation dragging himself into the place from the other entrance. “Here comes the former minister of transportation, Mr Julius Brad, thank you sir for honouring our invitation. Thanks everyone and God bless you.”
“Where have you been?” One of the men asked Julius as he settled in the seat next to him.
“I went to hiss myself,” Julius lied in reply. He felt a little bit stronger than he felt a couple of minutes ago. The hotness he felt in his nostrils and his stomach after inhaling from the handkerchief had also reduced.
“But you took so long,” the man countered.
“Yeah, I went to the wrong place first.” Julius lied again.
“I was calling you when I saw you going there,” the man continued. “You never replied me.”
“I’m sorry, I was so pressed, one of the security men directed me wrongly.” Julius replied.
“It’s time to go,” the other man said, looking up as other men had gotten up and were proceeding orderly towards the door.
Oso 2 river, Oso
Jenny checked her wristwatch again. It was already the expected for Henry to join her there.
The main Bexford sea bank was where The Treak was headed to, from there the dignitaries would proceed to the inspection of the bridge and some would go their way.
The Oso 2 river was one of the waters that found it’s way to a smaller area in Oso land from the Bexford sea. The river was often patronized by the village nearby. A number of people from the village got water for domestic uses from it.
At that time of the day when the sun was hot, very few people visited the place.
Jenny was sitting on a rock, hiding under the shadow formed by a tree. Only one man could be seen around with her, washing some of the tools he had gone to the farm with.
Not long after she checked her time, she noticed some movements in the water. The man washing his tools also noticed the movements, he stopped washing and stared eagerly, wondering what could be moving that way in the water.
He noticed Jennifer coming close to him and stared at her face. He had observed she was a stranger when he arrived and met her sitting there but it wasn’t strange to him as they often had strangers visit the stream.
Soon, it was obvious the movement in the water was done by a person. The villager stared at Jenny’s face in surprise for a while before he continued his washing. He assumed that Jenny had been waiting there for the person swimming towards them.
Jennifer took off the backpack strapped to her bag quickly and brought out some clothes wrapped in a nylon.
Henry stepped out of the water few seconds later. He was drenched in his security official uniform.
“You didn’t use an oxygen mask?” Jennifer questioned in amazement.
“I did, I dropped it off when I got closer to this place.” Henry replied her as he took the piece of new clothes from her.
He looked around and located an angle where he could change into the dry clothes.
Star City, United States.
Gilbert watched Emery returning through the hallway from the bathroom. He was still sitting at the dining area.
“The clothes aren’t so bad on you like I thought they would,” He observed.
“Yeah, they’re a good fit.” Emery replied with a smile as he got to the dining area. He settled on the seat where he took the meal. The plates had been cleared and the table well arranged.
“I called my friend who is a police official,” Gilbert said. “He should be here anytime soon.”
“Okay, that’s nice of you.” Emery replied. He seemed puzzled for a while and then remembered he had not spoken with Sheila since the previous day. “May I have the phone now?”
“Yea, sure.” Gilbert got up slowly and went for the phone. He returned almost a minute after and handed the phone to Emery.
“Thanks,” Emery collected the phone and switched it on quickly. He waited for it to load and then dialed Sheila’s number immediately.
“You can’t connect to her?” Gilbert asked his friend after watching him try for about three minutes without success.
“It’s strange, she’s got all her numbers switched off including her official line.” Emery answered.
“Can you call someone else to reach her?” Gilbert asked.
“I’ll try,” Emery replied, searching quickly through his contact list to see if he had saved Adrian’s number in his email. He heaved a sigh after finding the number and dialled it quickly.
“Good morning…” Adrian answered the call.
Emery paused and checked the phone’s screen again to confirm if he had really dialed Adrian’s number. The voice sounded distressed.
“Good morning Adrian, this is Emery. What about Sheila?”
“Uhmn… Sir, we’re yet to find Sheila since yesterday and I have been trying to reach you…”
“What the hell are you talking about? Where did she go?” Emery cut him short impatiently.
“Sheila was kidnapped yesterday,” Adrian replied.
Emery was too shocked to reply. His mouth was left agape as he stared at Gilbert’s face dumbfounded.
“She was kidnapped yesterday at the explosion scene,” Adrian explained further. “We’ve been making further efforts to find where she is since then.”
“Weren’t you with her yesterday?” Emery asked.
“I was with her until you told her to leave,” Adrian answered. “We left at the same time, but I was told she returned after getting a call from the official in charge of the inspection. Another explosion involving another part of the building occurred when she returned there and she was kidnapped by some men in the process.”
“What of her bleeping bodyguard?”
“I’m at the hospital to get him, he was left unconscious from the incident yesterday,” Adrian answered.
“Let me speak with him,” Emery ordered.
There was silence for about two minutes and the next voice he heard was the bodyguard’s.
“Where the hell were you when Sheila was taken?”
“I was right with her, they had it well planned. The government Inspectors tricked us back. Miss Sheila was listening to them when the second explosion occured. More than seven of the inspection officers attacked me, I couldn’t stop them.”
“Damn it!” Emery let out a breath and shook his head in frustration. He ended the call abruptly and dropped the phone on the table.
“What happened to your daughter?” Gilbert asked.
Emery shook his head uneasily. “She was kidnapped yesterday,” he answered almost breathlessly.
“How in the world did that happen?”
Emery had not time to entertain questions at that moment. He was busy in his mind, trying to come up with the next step to take.
He picked up his phone and navigated to the contact list again, he began to search for a number.
There was knock at the door at that moment. They both looked towards the entrance.
Gilbert got up slowly and picked his walking stick. “That must be the police official, I’ll go get him.” he said and began proceeding further.
Emery let out a breath as he couldn’t find the contact he was looking for, it wasn’t saved in his mail contacts. He closed his eyes and tried to remember how else he could reach the person. He remembered he had a sim pack in his suit jacket where he possibly had the number stored.
He got up quickly and proceeded into the hallway. He had located the laundry room of the house after taking his bath and had kept his clothes there to wash later.
Bexford Sea Bank, Oso
More people, journalists and security officers were met waiting for the dignitaries. Pictures were been taken as the men stepped out one after the other, their aides and personal security officers there to receive them.
“I need to make a call now, I’ll join you guys in some minutes.” Julius’ friend who stepped out of the ship with him said as he stepped aside with his own aides.
“Okay, we’ll meet at the inspection.” Julius replied. He handed over his devices to one of his aides who had come closer to him.
As he proceeded further, he was greatly troubled in his heart as he remembered Carl Winston and the instructions which had been given to him. He knew he had to do something quick but he was so confused. His first line of thought was to call Kahn or Hutton and report to them but he was still in a public place among a crowd of people and he could not have that kind of conversation there.
He got distracted from his thoughts briefly at he saw a team of two journalists proceeding towards him to ask about his experience on the Treak just like they had asked the other guests that passed before him.
“Good morning sir,” the female reported greeted.
“Good…” Julius tried to reply but he coughed instead, throwing up blood from his mouth.
“Are you alright sir?” His alarmed aide quickly asked. He widened his eyes in shock at the man as he saw blood already dripping from his nose.
Julius felt some sudden weakness suddenly overwhelm him. He found it difficult to remain on his legs and he almost collapsed but for his aide who held him.
They called for help and people gathered around him quickly.
Cole glanced back and saw the man being gathered around and people calling for first aid and an ambulance. He was already changed into different clothes and was no longer with his camera.
He turned back forward and hurried on. He checked his time, he was sure Dave would already be waiting for him at the roadside.
Six unformed armed men walked into the house after Gilbert opened the door for them. He led them to the dining area to meet the absence of Emery.
“He was here,” he whispered to the men.
“So, where did he go?” The leader of the men asked him.
“I don’t have any idea,” Gilbert frowned.
He then turned towards the hallway and cleared his throat first. “Emery,” he called in a loud voice. “My friend is here.”
“I’m coming,” Emery shouted back from the hallway direction.
“He must have gone to the bathroom,” Gilbert whispered to them. “The guest restroom is at end of the main hallway.”
“Go get him,” the leader of the men whispered to them.
Five of the men proceeded into the hallway, holding their guns with them.
Oso Express Road,
“We’re close to the junction,” Jennifer heard Samantha say from the other end.
“We’re waiting there already,”she replied.
She was standing with Henry under a tree close to the junction which led to the Vincil road. She looked left where their vehicle was supposed to be coming from and it wasn’t in sight yet. She could only see a white bus and was sure it wasn’t them for their vehicle had already been described to her.
“We’ll get to you in a couple of minutes,” Samantha replied.
“They’re almost here,” Jennifer said to Henry after the call ended.
Henry was already dressed in the new set of clothes. A simple black t-shirt on a blue jean and black sneakers.
A minute later, Jennifer looked again and spotted the black Sienna jeep coming in their direction.
“They’re here,” she turned and said to Henry quickly and they both stepped closer to the road.
The Sienna pulled up right before them. Henry and Jennifer entered and sat at the middle seats. Cole and Samantha were at the back seat while Dave was in front driving with Hannah Kelvin beside him.
“How did it go boss?” Dave asked Henry as he continued the journey.
“Perfect, I guess.” Henry replied.
“Yeah, perfect truly.” Dave smiled. “Cole watched the man collapsing before he left the place.”
“There’s no way he’s gonna escape death,” Henry replied. “We all did a good job,” he said and turned around to look at their faces one after the other. “Kudos guys.”
“His death should be the breaking news soon,” Cole said from behind. “I’ve been following the news to get the update.”
“They’re been a lot of breaking news from around the world since yesterday,” Samantha chipped in. “Bethanians won’t be surprised to have one.”
“We really have a lot of news to follow,” Dave joined in again. “I just hope terrorism hasn’t really spread to our beloved Anthanna.”
Henry seemed to be lost for a moment. He wasn’t surprised though, he had been busy and was locked in the ship since the day before. He had gone in with a phone but network signals were unavailable.
“What happened in Anthanna, was there some sort of bomb blast?” He asked, staring at Dave.
“Yes, there was, in El Deols.” Dave replied. “They’re yet to ascertain if it’s about terrorism or factory accident.”
“I do think it might not just be any of that,” Samantha put in. “Don’t you think it’s strange that she was kidnapped also after the explosion?”
Henry heaved a sigh and rested his back. He felt lost and felt no need to ask any question since he could get to read the news by himself later.
“So, who was kidnapped and where exactly in El Deols did this bomb blast occur?” Cole asked, being concerned about the happenings in his country.
“At SheiDev Firm, it happened twice.” Samantha replied him. “The wealthy Billionaire’s daughter was also kidnapped yesterday after the second explosion which occurred in her presence.”
“The news says her father Emery Jack is out of the country,” Dave said from the front. “I just…”
“Wait!” Henry cut in suddenly with a loud authoritative voice. “Who did you just say was kidnapped?” He turned to Samantha.
“Miss Sheila Jack, you must have heard of her,” Samantha answered him.
Henry felt some hotness in his head and his eyes. His heartbeat increased and he felt a sudden surge of blood flowing through his veins.
“Miss Sheila Jack is the daughter of Emery…” Samantha began to explain but Henry interrupted.
“Pull over,” he said in a calm but commanding tone.
Dave glanced back at him, thinking he had heard wrongly.
“I said pull over!” Henry shouted so loud and got them all so alarmed.
Dave quickly pulled over to the curb.
All eyes were on Henry now. They stared at him in surprise and could see he looked thoroughly disturbed.
He didn’t talk until a minute after Dave pulled over.
“We have to go to the El Deols right away,” he said in an authoritative tone.
They were more confused, wondering how he was related to Sheila Jack and why he made such a decision so suddenly.
“Boss, is there something we need to know?” Cole asked in soft tones.
Henry turned to him sharply and stared for a couple of seconds. “I can’t let anything happen to Sheila Jack,” he answered Cole.
“You know her?” Dave asked in surprise.
Henry turned again and stared at Dave too. Then he turned and faced forward in Jennifer’s direction.
“Sheila Jack was that woman that saved my life at the Nura river.”
There was total silence in the car. The rest of the team except for Hannah Kelvin remembered Henry had told them how he was saved from the river but had hidden the identity of the woman that saved him.
They now understood the reason for his sudden rage and decision.
Getting back Sheila Jack was going to be a very difficult task, they all knew. But it wasn’t an option, it had to be done.