® 18+ SNVL
© Oluwatosin Emmanuel Oyinloye
“What the f***! I thought this guy called Rex was supposed to be your friend, I mean your bosom friend,” Maxwell blurted out loud, his eyes moving from one person to another in search of answers.
“He was supposed to be my brother,” Henry was the one who finally answered him. His voice sounded calm and somewhat broken. The other team members just stared blankly, all pondering on the subject matter. “But I guess his loyalty has changed.”
“I still think there’s something somewhere you’re missing,” Samantha joined in. “And if you don’t get it, it could be terrible for you and in extension, all of us.”
“And what’s that?” Henry turned his gaze to her.
“If you want to know how to prepare for Rex’s attack against you, then you must find out why exactly he joined the Wolves, at what point, and what his gain is,” Samantha answered.
“I don’t have answers to these questions you raised but there’s no time to search for answers about Rex right now,” Henry said and got up to his feet sharply. “We’ve got to get valuable information from those document now.”
He began to walk towards the inner section when his phone rang. Without waiting for a second to confirm who the caller was, he swiped the green button right to answer the call.
“Hey, Sheila! You’ve got anything for me?”
“The same email just made some contact with Rex,” Sheila reported from the other end. “The messages were encrypted, so I couldn’t read the document sent. But with the nature of encryption, it looks like the message includes some HTML documents.”
Henry exhaled deeply in frustration, shaking his head at the same time. “How long do you need to intercept his messages.”
“I don’t have everything I need here, and my Dad won’t f***ing let me get out of the house,” Sheila complained. “I need to get a stronger connection to go past the firewall built to protect the communication. If I break in forcefully without enough protection for myself, I would be discovered by Rex or whomever he’s working with.”
“Don’t do that,” Henry warned. It sounded more like a plea. “If you can’t get it done, don’t put yourself in danger. I will find a way around it. Rex is coming for me but I’ve got to get to him first.”
The FOX Office, Bexford
“Good morning, Agent Steve. I was told you were at my office earlier,” Evelyn greeted as she walked into his office.
“Yeah, Evelyn,” Steve got up immediately and walked to the cabinet. “Please have your seat,” he offered as he returned to his seat with a file. “Here I’ve made a compilation of information we have on the Loki gang. Would you take some time to go through the file?” he dropped it in front of her and continued without getting her response. “And if you won’t mind, I’ll also like you to tell me all you know about them.”
“I don’t know anything concerning the Loki Gang apart from the fact that they were involved in Carl Winston and Rex Morris deaths,” she replied as she flipped open the file. “What does this have to do with us now?”
Steve stared at her face for a moment without replying. “The Loki gang were the ones at your apartment yesterday. If you can tell me all you know about them. It will help me know what they want and probably help you any way I can.”
She kept a gaze on his face for a while. “I don’t know anything about them,” she replied with a blank look on her face.
Steve exhaled and then bit the inner part of his lower lips gently. “If you let me know what’s happening around you, I can join you fight whoever is coming against you. I’ve also made confirmation that the Loki men were among those who attacked you at the mall some time ago. Let me know what’s happening with you and we can do this together.”
“I told you before, I can’t let you know anything. You’ve been compromised,” she paused and noticed the look of disappointment appearing on his face. “Besides, I don’t know anything about this gang you’re talking about.”
“But why are they after your life?” Steve leaned forward across the table with a lowered voice.
“I can’t tell you that,” she replied.
“But you know you can be prosecuted for hiding valuable information from the FOX,” Steve threatened.
“There’s no way the FOX’s gonna know about that,” she answered with confidence, staring him directly in the eyes.
He withdrew his body and rested his back in the chair, keeping his gaze on her face. He needed no one to tell him that she was also threatening him with the hidden information she knew.
“There’s no way we’re going to succeed by threatening each other…”
“Thank God you know that,” she interrupted. He paused to allow her to continue. “If you can find out who sells you out among those you work with, then I may consider letting you know what’s up with me.”
Steve stared blankly at her face without having words to reply to her. She seemed so confident that someone whom he worked with was giving information to her enemies but he couldn’t tell who that person was.
“If that’s all you have to discuss sir, I’ll like to take my leave now,” she got up to leave but he stopped her.
“Hold on, Evelyn,” he said and she turned back to him again. “Please, sit down.”
“I know you may find it difficult to believe my words. But trust me, I had no suspicions about you when I began to follow you. Was following you for a different reason, until the incident at the mall,” he began to explain. She furrowed her brows at him, looking more interested in the conversation. “After witnessing the incident that day, I called you but you lied to me about what happened. That’s when I began to wonder what was happening with you.”
He paused for a moment to get her response but she didn’t say anything, so he continued.
“And those two guys that died in your former apartment. I didn’t mean to kill them. I was only trying to find out what you’re up to and I thought I could find useful information in the apartment. That’s why I broke in. But I had not seen anything when those guys came in and tried to kill me. Everything I did was in self-defence
Again he paused to see if she would make any comment, especially ask why he did not make a report about it to the FOX. But she only kept a stern look at him.
He shook his head and gasped. “If those incidents make you think I’ve got a connection with the Wolves or whomever your enemies are. I want you to know that I don’t have any connection and I’m not a mole.”
Evelyn stared at him for a while without saying anything. She felt tempted to ask him the reason he began to follow her initially but restrained herself.
He also continued to stare at her as he had nothing else to say. When it was obvious he was done talking, she gave her response.
“Someone you’re working with is giving the Wolves information,” she said dryly as she got up to her feet. “Find the person,” she added and then walked straight to the door.
Steve sighed as he watched her walk away. She was adamant about not letting her know what she was up to.
“Evelyn,” he called before she could open the door. She stopped but didn’t turn back. “Don’t forget we’re going out in the next fifteen minutes.”
She squinted and then turned. She checked her wristwatch, it was almost half-past twelve. Then she recalled their planned outing.
“To find Lucas Perez, right?”
“Yes, to find Lucas Perez,” Steve affirmed.
“I’ll be ready in ten minutes.”
Back in the Hotel at Benuit
Henry stood in front of a white marker board with a pen in his hand. After a few hours of work, they had been able to make out some meaning from the document which they were analyzing. While the whole document seemed meaningful, the information they needed was hidden with a pattern.
The keywords which led to the secret Henry’s teams needed were inserted in the middle of the sentences on each line. So, while the sentences made sense. The middle words on each line formed other meaningful sentences. They were able to pick out a total of 200 words from the text.
However, not all the 200 words they picked out were relevant. Only about 50 words gave them useful information.
“Now, we’ve gotten three things from the document so far,” Henry continued after they had been able to narrow their work down to the three useful sentences. “We know that there are four keys, three ordinary keys and then a skeleton key. We don’t know if these four keys are symbolic representations or if they’re real. But I think they are symbolic.
It also shows that there is an explosive device and there is a man called Perez. We don’t know who Perez is or what his role is but we know that there’s an explosive device. And for this device to be mentioned in this document, I’m sure it’s not the regular explosives, it must be very fatal and aimed at something important.
From my previous discoveries, the Red Wolves are going to retrieve three codes from different people. If I’m right, these three codes would be the ordinary keys talked about. But there’s nothing concerning the skeleton key. And this could mean that they hold the skeleton key.
These three keys or codes, I believe are with three men. Abraham Carter, Dexter Joe, and Evans Blake. Now that they have abducted Abraham Carter already, it could mean they have the first key. Then, they would be going for the second key. This means they would soon go for Dexter Joe and Evans Blake. Whom they will go for first, we don’t know.”
“Excuse me, boss, we need to connect this properly,” Dave cut in. “I mean if they hold the skeleton key, why would they bother retrieving these ordinary ones. The skeleton key should be used in place of the other three.”
Henry moved further from the board and closer to the table. “These keys like I mentioned before are most likely symbolic. And if it’s a skeleton key, it could just mean that it’s the key to their biggest ever move,” Henry paused and thought for a while. “We don’t have these answers yet, but we will get them.”
“So, how do we know whom the Wolves are going after first. Evans Blake or Dexter Joe?” Samantha chipped in.
“There’s only one way to find out,” Henry turned to her. “If we can identify the reason they went for Abraham Carter first, we will find out whom they are going after next.”
He paused and then reached for a file on the table. He flipped it open and picked out a sheet.
“So, we’d take a journey back to everything that has happened and carefully connect the dots,” he continued. “I, Dave, and Sam will continue with the job right away while Jennifer makes us lunch,” he paused and turned to Maxwell. “I understand you have a date with Emily.”
“Yeah, I do. She’ll call me soon,” Maxwell replied.
“So, you meet up with her and act as usual. But you have to be at the venue way earlier than the meeting time. I couldn’t listen to her conversation with Kahn yesterday, so it will be great if you can find out if she suspects anything.”
“I will try,” Maxwell replied.
“What if she suspects him already and is only trying to pull him into a trap?” Samantha suggested.
“That’s why he needs to be at the place earlier than the scheduled time. He’ll stick around somewhere and watch until she gets in. If she arrives at the venue with someone else or is seen making suspicious communication, he would know there’s something wrong,” Henry paused and then directed his gaze at Maxwell. “And if you ever find yourself in an unexpected situation, you know how to alert us immediately.”
“Sure,” Maxwell nodded.
“Any more questions before we get to work?” Henry asked, staring at each of their faces. “Since there’s none, we start now.”
“Ever been here before?” Steve asked as he stopped the vehicle in an open space.
“Yes, but that was several years ago,” Evelyn answered him, taking off her seatbelt.
She took out her sunshades and put them on before opening the door to step out. They both stepped out of the vehicle at the same time and Steve locked the doors with the remote control. Evelyn waited by the road until Steve joined her.
Vigal was a slum in southern Bethanna. As expected, the town was rough and filled with substandard houses. The drainage was clogged and the overall hygiene of the area was poor.
“Where do we go from here?” Evelyn asked Steve who was staring around just like her.
“We asked questions,” he glanced at her and then proceeded forward. She followed.
They walked together to a small wooden kiosk where lottery tickets were sold. An aged man with grey beards and a scarf tied around his head was sitting inside.
“You want to play?” he stuttered, sizing the guests with his eyes. He had a funny accent which confirmed that he was a native of the town.
“No, Ba,” Evelyn replied, addressing him the way the residents there addressed elderly men. “We are looking for someone.”
“Who?” He leaned forward with his arms on the platform.
“Here,” Evelyn took out a picture and placed it on the platform. “His name is Lucas.”
The man eyes widened slowly after he stared at the picture for a while. It was obvious he recognized the man in the photo.
“Lucas,” he blinked as he leaned back. “What did he do?” his eyes moved from Evelyn to Steve.
“No, he didn’t do anything. We just want to ask him a few questions, and that’s all,” Evelyn answered.
“He used to come here frequently but I’ve not seen him for a while.”
“Okay, can you tell us where or how to find him?” Evelyn asked.
The man shook his head slowly with a sad look. “I’m sorry, I don’t know where you can find him.”
“Do you know anyone close to him we can reach out to?”
The man shook his head again.
“Why not go through your records, old man. You take down the phone numbers of your customers on your copy of the tickets, don’t you?” Steve slammed. Evelyn flashed a look at him.
The man stared at Steve with a confused look for a second. “I think you two should leave here, now,” he flared up.
“Sorry, Ba,” Evelyn quickly apologized. “Please don’t mind my friend here, he has a short temper.”
“Leave my place, now!” The man repeated, staring at Steve furiously.
“I’m sorry, Ba,” Steve finally apologized. “I’m sorry,” he repeated as the man still had a furious look on.
The man turned to Evelyn as his face softened a little. “I can’t give his number, we don’t do it here.”
“Ba, we really need to find him, it’s urgent,” Evelyn pleaded.
The man shook his head.
She sighed and glanced at Steve’s face. He looked visibly tired and disgusted.
An idea came to her mind. She quickly reached into her pocket and took out a fifty bethannan dollar note and placed it on the platform.
The man glanced at her surprised. He also glanced at Steve and then reached for the money but Evelyn kept a finger on it. He understood and reached for his record book.
“The last time he came here was a month ago,” he said as he flipped open his book. In less than 2 minutes, he was able to locate Lucas’ name on the list. “I’ve found it here,” he said and reached for the money again. She released it to him.
Then he turned the record book to them with a finger pointed at the line where Lucas’ record was. It had his name, the ticket number, and his phone number.
Evelyn quickly took out her phone and quickly copied the number. She dialled to see if it will connect but it was unreachable.
“The number is not connecting,” she reported to the man.
“I don’t know why,” he replied as he returned his record book.
“When last did you call him?” Evelyn asked.
“I’ve never called him,” the man stared at her. “I don’t call people, they only get text messages if we need to reach them.”
She sighed. “His number is not connecting, how else can we reach him?”
He shook his head. “I can’t help you anymore.”
“You don’t know where his house is?”
“I don’t,” he replied blankly.
She stared at his face for a while, she could tell he was lying. She reached for her pocket and took out another 50 Bethannan dollar note.
“Do you know where we can find him?” she asked with a finger placed on the note.
Again, he glanced at Steve’s face. Steve was looking utterly disgusted at this point but the man ignored his face.
“Yes,” he replied. “Table tennis place is just down that road,” he pointed in the direction. “His house is opposite the table tennis place. It is coloured yellow.”
“Are you sure about this?” Evelyn raised a brow.
“Yeah, very sure,” the man nodded.
Evelyn released the note and turned to leave. Steve gave the man a scornful glare before turning to join Evelyn.
“You shouldn’t have given him so much,” he complained as he walked on with Evelyn.
“It made it easier for us, isn’t that good enough?” She answered him rhetorically.
They walked down the road for about three minutes before they located a local table tennis court. Some men were there, playing noisily at that moment.
“That’s the house,” Evelyn said as she spotted the yellow bungalow at the opposite side.
Steve chuckled. “What the f*** is an explosive maker doing here?”
They proceeded towards the place. The house looked dirty like most houses at the place. They got to the main door and knocked.
“Who is there?” their answer came a few seconds after. They could tell that someone was walking closer to the door.
“Mr Lucas, can we have a word with you?” Evelyn answered.
Lucas got to the door and peeped through the hole. A suspicious look appeared on his face as he saw the visitors. He rarely had people knocking at his door and even when they did, it was always his neighbours. The visitors looked like they were from town.
“I’m coming,” they heard him say and could tell he had gone back into the house.
Steve and Evelyn glanced at each other. They had to be careful not to get into trouble.
Less than a minute after, Lucas returned and opened the door.
“Good afternoon,” he greeted as he stared at their faces.
He was a short man with a slender body. His head was bald and his face was smooth and without any form of moustache or beards.
“Good afternoon, Lucas,” Evelyn replied his greeting, displaying her ID card. “We’re security agents and would like to see you briefly.”
Lucas stared at them for a while, as if thinking whether or not to let them in.
“You may come in,” he finally said and opened the door wide for them.
Evelyn stepped in first while Steve took another look around before proceeding. Lucas closed the door after them.
“Please, have your seats,” he offered.
The sitting room looked more like a workshop of some sort. It was old and rusty but somewhat neat. There were some sofas and an old glass centre table. There was also an old TV beside the wall and a video player underneath. The TV was on and was tuned to a news station.
“How can I help you, agents?” he asked after they sat.
“We know who you are and what you do, Lucas,” Steve began. “But we’re not here against you, we want to help you.”
Lucas just stared on without knowing what response to give.
“We have a few questions to ask you and we want you to be honest with us,” Steve continued. “Are you ready to be honest?”
“How long have you been creating explosives for the Red Wolves?”
To be continued