The FOX Corporation,
*continuation from the video call*
“Damn it!” Mark suddenly got it after the long silence. “I think I know why he turned off the cameras yesterday. He’s gonna attack the FOX building.”
Paul Edwards got up from his seat to sit beside Henry. “He’s not just going to attack the FOX, Mark. After he takes down the FOX, he’s gonna attack every other important organization that’s connected to the country’s economy. That’s the way he can take the President out alive and also regain authority in the FOX.”
There was another moment of silence.
Maria was pacing about behind them while Mark and Steve remained seated in front of the laptop.
“Now that we know this, we need to prepare to prevent their attacks and make meaningful arrests,” Mark said to break the silence.
“You should start immediately,” Henry said from the other end. “There are still a lot of things we need to connect together, but for now, let’s begin to work with the information we have.”
“That’s right,” Mark replied.
The landline on his table began to ring at the same time. He stared into the camera for a while, considering whether to answer or not.
“You should take that,” Henry suggested.
Mark nodded in agreement and got up to turn to the other side. “Hello.”
“Sir, the Vice President is holding a session with journalists at the moment. I think you need to see it. It’s on the central news station,” an agent informed the chairman.
“Thank you,” the Chairman said and dropped the receiver. He turned to the other side immediately. “I was just informed that the Vice President is on air – a session with reporters. Maybe we need to hold the call for now.”
“Sure,” Henry consented.
Mark ended the call immediately and opened the TV app on his device. In less than a minute, he was connected to the station. The Vice President’s face appeared on the screen. He was standing on the podium with several microphones from news media houses in front of him.
He had just finished answering a question and then pointed to another reported who was raising her hand.
The reporter got up to speak. “Sir, if the President is truly alive? Why hasn’t he come out to address the nation?”
Shocked gripped Mark’s heart as he heard the question. His jaw fell and he began to drag his breath loudly.
“He will come out at the right time. This is all a strategy to keep the President safe, but we’re closing in on the terrorists and we’ll bring the whole situation to an end soon.”
Another reporter was picked for questioning.
“Have you had time to speak with the President or you’re just saying this because it’s what the FOX chairman said?”
“No, I haven’t spoken with the President. But there’s no reason to doubt the FOX chairman, He told me that the President is alive and healthy and I believe him.”
Mark could no longer take it. He was struggling to breathe. He got up and turned to his drawer to take out his inhaler. He took a long deep breath from the inhaler through his mouth. He exhaled deeply and closed his eyes for a moment, trying to regulate his breaths.
The press session with the President continued.
“How soon is the President going to address the country?” another journalist asked.
“Very soon, I believe. Or whenever the FOX chairman thinks it’s okay.”
“Sir, since the President is not ready to come out yet, why are you telling us this?”
“Because the FOX chairman no longer thinks it needs to be a secret,” the Vice President replied. “What we need to do now as good citizens of the country is to stay calm and report any threats or suspicious movements you notice. Together, we will fight the terrorists and overcome. Thank you.”
With that, the Vice President walked off the stage, leaving the multitude of reporters with unanswered questions.
Mark managed to get up from his seat and returned to the other side. He minimized the TV application and launched the video caller immediately. The call was answered within thirty seconds.
“Did you see that?” Mark asked immediately the video connected.
“Yeah, we saw enough to know what’s up,” Henry replied. “But don’t let it ruffle you. What you need to do now is scan and ensure that no bugs or items have been implanted in the building.”
Mark nodded in response before ending the call. He turned to Steve and Maria. “You two should organize the team and search every corner of this building.”
“Right away sir,” Steve replied and got up immediately. He and Maria exchanged a look before they proceeded out of the office.
Mark closed his eyes and took in a deep breath after they left. For a moment, the feeling of frustration overwhelmed him. He began to wonder the Vice President had just disrupted most of his plans with that single announcement. It made him feel like all his efforts were wasted.
He couldn’t come out to counter the Vice President’s claim that the President was alive, neither could he say that he did not tell the Vice President about it. The first option will make him look ridiculous after the President finally steps out and the latter would make him look clueless.
After a few more minutes of thinking, he turned to his seat and took out a phone from his drawer and dialed the Vice President’s number.
An assistant answered the call. “Good day, Chairman Mark. His Excellency is quite busy now. He will call you once he’s free enough to speak.”
“Tell him it’s urgent.”
“I’m sorry, he can’t answer your call now.”
“The President wants to speak with him,” Mark gasped desperately. “Tell him that.”
There was silence from the other end for a few seconds. “I’ll let him know,” the assistant finally said.
“Good,” Mark remarked and then click on the record button.
A few seconds later, the Vice President was on the line. “Hello.”
“Hi, Your Excellency. I must say you pulled a good one there,” Mark chuckled mischievously.
“Chairman Mark, what are you talking about?” The man feigned ignorance.
“Your Press conference, that was smart.”
“I don’t understand, man. What’s smart about that?”
“I didn’t tell you anything and you f***ing went out to say I did. What do you intend to achieve with that?” Mark cussed. He was getting frustrated by the VP’s antics.
“Watch your language, Chairman Mark,” the Vice President warned. “Yes, you didn’t tell me anything but you sent Hutton Ryker to me.”
“What?” Mark frowned.
“Yea, he delivered your message,” the VP continued. “You told him that the President was alive and that you only needed to act he was dead to watch the next moves of the Red Wolves and fish out the moles. He also told me that the two of you agreed that he was not needed there since you are still in control of the situation contrary to what I thought”
“What the f***!” Mark cussed again. He added a chuckle at the end of it.
“Again, watch your tongue, Chairman Mark. By the way, I’m busy and I only answered your call right now because you said the President wanted to speak with me.”
“I know what you’re doing, man. You and Hutton Ryker, I know everything.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the VP insisted. “And can I speak to the President now?”
“You’ll speak to him later,” Mark dragged in a breath as he stared thinly into the air. “Take care,” he added before ending the call.
For some seconds after the call ended, he fondled his phone is his hand as he pondered on the call. He couldn’t help it and erupted into laughter, partly in mockery of himself and also in awe of Hutton’s tactics. He realized the main aim of the press conference and couldn’t but admit to himself that Hutton was a genius. Not once did he ever consider that this kind of move could be pulled.
He unlocked his phone again and navigated to the files folder. He located the recording file and deleted it from the phone. It was useless as the Vice President was smart enough to answer all his questions without giving out any implicating information. His aim for the call was not achieved.
Mark chuckled as he thought about it again. He navigated to the call dialer and clicked on the Carl contact.
“Hey,” Henry answered. “Hope you’re checking the whole building already.”
“Yeah, I’ve got my men at it,” Mark replied and took in a breath before he continued. “Do you think the President will be safe after this?”
The response from the other end was delayed. “Why… Why do you ask that? I thought you said he was safe where you kept him?”
“Yes, he’s safe there but I can no longer keep him there. With information out that he’s alive, he’s got to return with governance.”
“Oh! Shi*t,” Henry growled as he suddenly realized the effect of the Vice President’s session. “Damn! He’s trying to get us to bring him out. We didn’t think of that.”
“Even if we thought about it, there was nothing we could have done to stop it,” Mark replied. “But what I’m concerned about now is the safety of the President.”
Henry was silent for a while. “You think he’s gonna try to attack him again?”
“Yes, don’t you think so? Or why would Hutton Ryker want him out again?”
Again, Henry stopped to think for almost one minute. “I don’t think they’d try to attack him. We’ll beef up the security around him and there’s no way they’ll attack with a missile again. If there’s gonna be another attack, it has to be a close one. And they’ll only succeed at that if we don’t increase the security.”
“Oh! You’re right,” Mark heaved a sigh of relief. “So, why the heck did they pull that move?”
“Because they need him out to continue running the country when they strike,” Henry answered. “If they’re going to impeach him successfully, he has to be in office.”
“You’re right, they need him to go back to office.”
“Chairman Mark, I need you to stay focused and determined. We’re going to win this war. We already won the battle of stopping them from killing the President. That got Hutton frustrated and he’s desperately trying to further his cause with new strategies. Whatever he does, we have to be ready. We’re going to stop whatever impeachment plans they have. We have to give no rooms for distractions and focus on the goal.”
“You’ve got nothing to worry about, Carl. We’ll beef up security around the country and around the President. The whole military, police, and every security agent will be involved in this.”
Hutton, Chanda, and Kahn were eating at the dining table while discussing their structures. As usual, Chanda was doing less talking and more of listening.
“Are we gonna try something else if the President doesn’t show up tomorrow?” Kahn asked.
“He’s gonna show up,” Hutton sounded confident. “Mark and Carl Winston are wise. They’re not going to keep hiding him.”
“Do you also have a backup plan if Rex doesn’t follow what we envisaged?” Chanda asked after being silent for a long while.
“You don’t get it yet, man,” Hutton stopped eating and fixed his gaze on him. “Rex is now the backup plan. And if he doesn’t work out, we’ll still beat Carl Winston if every other thing works.”
“We can never be sure of beating Carl Winston, man,” Kahn scoffed. “There are several times we thought we did but we failed.”
“You’re right,” Hutton took in a deep breath and shook his head. “We have better chances of winning this time. I’m sure Rex will follow through. After Foden’s death, he lost the only process he could use to communicate with Carl secretly. His only way to reach Carl will be to get to Sheila Jack. So, he’s going to fish out Sheila Jack for us and once we have Sheila Jack, we’ve got enough to break Carl Winston.”
Rex was sitting in a large public internet café. He had a hat on his face and a handkerchief tied around his neck. There were at least thirty others in the café, browsing silently at their different computer terminals.
A news article was opened on the browser. The headlines read: MISS SHEILA JACK STILL MISSING AS POLICE CONTINUES DESPERATE SEARCH.
There were about thirty other tabs opened in the same browser. About twenty of the pages there were about Sheila Jack. Rex had spent close to ninety minutes reading everything about her and a decision had been made in his mind.
The phone beside the keyboard vibrated and he picked it up to check the message.
The message read – I’LL BE IN IN ONE MINUTE
Rex took in a deep breath and counted some seconds in his mind before looking towards the entrance. A few seconds later, he spotted a man walking in and instantly knew that was his man.
The man’s eyes wandered around as he walked to the attendant’s desk. Rex had described his dressing to him, so it didn’t take long for him to spot where Rex was sitting. The man took off his eyeglasses to talk to the attendant.
Meanwhile, Rex had also sent a reply to the text message. “GO TO SEAT 34,” the message read.
The man’s phone beeped as he was handed his ticket by the attendant. He took out his phone to read the text message and then made a signal to the attendant who gave him a knowing look. Then he headed for the seat which was far away from Rex.
He settled there and brought out his thirty minutes ticket. He noticed a bag under the table but act like he didn’t. He proceeded to type the username and password to log in to the computer. After that, he took a casual look around the place – the ceilings, the corners, and those close to him. The closest person to him was five seats away. He also looked up towards the surveillance camera as if to check if it was still on, even though he trusted that the attendant would have turned it off.
He pulled out the bag under and opened to check. There were bundles of naira notes in it. By the time he zipped it and sat up, Rex was already calling his phone.
“Hey, is the money complete?” He answered the call. He had an earpiece in his ears, so the phone was left on the able.
“You know I won’t play cheap tricks,” Rex replied.
“Yea, you don’t do that. But considering that you’ve been off the radar for a while and you raised the money quickly, I gotta be careful.”
“Your money is complete,” Rex reassured him. “It’s not your business how I raised it.”
The man took in a breath and cleared his throat. “A black Lexus jeep is close to the electricity pole outside. There’s a bag in it that contains all you require – new clothes, new passport, and new identity to help you get to Anthanna.”
“Nice doing business with you again,” Rex said and ended the call.
The next thing the man saw was Rex on his feet, heading towards the entrance.
The whole team was already waiting in the planning room when Maria led Steve in.
“Welcome, guys. We’ve been waiting for the two of you,” Henry waved at them from the front. He was sitting on a stool close to the screen at the wall.
“Good evening, everyone,” Steve greeted. He seemed lost at first but felt more relaxed on seeing Evelyn and Mark already seated. Evelyn welcomed him with a smile.
“Please, have your seats,” Henry urged them. They got seated and Henry stepped down from the stool. He signaled to Maxwell who projected a map. “Guys, I’ve spent my whole day studying the map of Bexford and trying to discover hidden escape routes that the Red Wolves may try to use if they attack. But then, I realized that it is wiser to focus on stopping the attack and saving lives. We will cover the known possible escape routes first.”
He stopped and walked to the table to pick a pointer before walking back to the screen.
“We marked out the most likely organizations they’ll be attacking,” he said as he pointed to a spot. Maxwell immediately zoomed in. “This is the central bank of Bethanna. Every bank is connected here. There are states secrets stored in there and if anyone is to destabilize the nation’s economy and activities quickly, that will be the number one target. That’s why we’re discussing this first.”
“But isn’t it impossible for them to attack there successfully, considering how secure it is? Besides, more security men have been deployed today,” Jennifer asked.
“Good questions, Jenny. That’s exactly what they want us to think – that it is impossible for an attack to be successful there. But our experience with Hutton Ryker gives us an idea of how smart he works. Anyone one else would attack the organization by introducing new people. But Hutton doesn’t work with new people, he has many old people working with him. So, if he probably has something on one or more employees of the Central Bank right now and that’s what he’s going to exploit like he always does. Do you get that?”
Henry paused to look at their faces. Most of them did not look like they were getting what he was trying to explain.
“Are you suggesting that he’s gonna coordinate the attack from inside the bank? You think he has someone that works there?” Mark questioned.
“Yes, Chairman. Unfortunately, there are many corrupt men in different organizations and Hutton has a talent for discovering their corrupt activities and using it against them. So, he’s gonna use someone or a process that we do not suspect.”
“I still do not understand, boss,” Samantha put in. “Shouldn’t we be more concerned about blocking any attack process instead of who?”
“The problem is that we cannot know what that process is until we know who. Unfortunately, the central bank has over 1000 employees. We don’t know who it’s gonna be. We can only guess and we may guess wrongly,” Henry answered. “This doesn’t just apply to the central bank alone but to the other targeted organizations.”
“So, what are we going to do?” Dave asked.
“We’ll have one person here in those organizations from today,” Henry answered. “In their control rooms, monitoring everything that goes in and come out. Since the central bank is the largest of all the organizations, we’ll be having Maxwell and Jennifer there from tomorrow.”
El Deols, Anthanna
Adrian took in slow deep breaths, enjoying his bath as the water poured from the shower down his body. After washing off all lather from his body, he turned off the shower and pulled the towel from the hanger. He took in another breath as he wiped his face with the towel and proceeded out into the room.
He was wiping dry his body as he stepped out of the bathroom, naked, only to raise his head and see a man sitting on a footstool at the other side of his bed.
His eyes widened and his jaw dropped in shock. He quickly covered his manhood with the towel and then wrapped the towel around his waist. There was a gun in the man’s hand.
“Don’t,” Rex warned as Adrian tried to step back into the bathroom. “Just come forward.”
Adrian cleaned his soles dry on the footmat before proceeding according to the instructions of the man.
“Sit,” Rex ordered as he got close to the bed. Adrian sat down. “I don’t have any business with you, man. I just need to reach Sheila Jack.”
Adrian’s jaw dropped. Rex furrowed his brows at him. “Sheila Jack has been missing for a while…”
“Shut the heck up, man. We both know she’s not missing. You’ve been in communication with her,” Rex slammed.
Adrian trembled in fear. “Ermm…I used to be in communication with her until her number no longer connects.”
“Get your phone,” Rex ordered him. He noticed Adrian was sluggish about it and then thundered. “Get your phone now!”
Adrian jumped up and walked towards the drawer. An idea came to his mind as he opened the drawer. He picked out his phone and held it tight in his hands before turning towards Rex.
“Please, I feel uncomfortable in this towel. Would you please let me put on something?” Adrian requested.
“What the f***!” Rex was irritated by his request. “Shut the hell up and come closer.”
“I swear to you, man. I don’t have an idea where Sheila is,” Adrian stammered as he approached Rex slowly.
“If you ki*ll me, you’re going to be doing it for nothing because I have no idea where she is.”
Rex squinted at him in suspicions. He wondered if Adrian was a talkative or if he was just up to something.
“Oh! F***!” He cursed and jumped up as he realized what was happening. “Give your phone.”
Adrian froze and began to tremble all over as Rex approached him. Rex snatched the phone from his hand and knocked him unconscious with the butt of his gun.
He checked the phone’s screen and noticed that Adrian had dialed a police officer’s number and the call had been answered. That was why he was delaying and trying to talk.
“You, motherf***er!” He cursed and stared at Adrian in disgust.
Seven minutes later
The police arrived at Adrian’s place as soon as they could. They met one of the security maen unconscious and the other one tied and gagged. Some of the officers proceeded into the house while three stopped to untie the security man.
“He left with Mr Adrian already,” the security man said to them immediately.
To be continued