Sylvester dropped the landline receiver after speaking with Agent Dakolo, he sat back into his seat, trying to decide whether to attend to the Agent’s request first or to follow after Henry. He chose the latter and got up from his seat. He picked up his phone from the table and proceeded out of the office. Two minutes later, he was seated in the visitor’s seat behind Henry’s table. Henry wasn’t paying much attention to him but was focused on his work on the laptop.
‘Here’s what I wanted to show you’ Henry quickly handed a paper to Sylvester and turned back to his laptop.
‘How was the interview? What position did she apply for?’ Henry asked.
‘There was no interview’ Sylvester answered without taking a look at the paper he was handed. ‘She only came to submit her credentials in person’
‘I see’ Henry said in a low voice, acting less interested. ‘You thought I invited her over for an interview?’
‘Yes, of course. You are the Boss here and you don’t need my permission to interview anybody’ Henry answered with a slight chuckle. ‘But we already agreed to work with those available and not to take in anyone else for now. I wouldn’t go against our agreement’ Henry paused and looked up, he fastened his eyes on Sylvester’s face.
‘I didn’t suggest that in anyway’ He said and turned his face back to the laptop. ‘Oh! You thought that was the reason I didn’t agree to see her?’
‘What else could be the reason?’
‘I wasn’t aware of the interview before, neither do I know the position the interview is for so I didn’t think I had any business to do with her’ Henry answered, keeping a light smile on his face. Sylvester remained quiet for a while, staring at Henry’s face. He had thought Henry was angry but Henry’s demeanor and words have proved him wrong.
‘So what do you …’ Henry paused on seeing that Sylvester had not checked the paper given to him. ‘Come on, read what’s there’ Sylvester picked the paper and scanned briefly through it.
‘When did you start working on this?’
‘It wasn’t my work, Dayo did it’ Henry replied. Dayo was the new employee that was taken in the week before.
‘It looks good but we have to find how crackable these codes are’ Sylvester commented.
‘That’s why I was in your office then, I wanted to check through your history log but I’ve been able to check it from here’
‘So, are they crackable?’
‘Yes, it’s even made up of very easy combinations’
‘Does that make it usable or not?’
‘It’s not usable. It would be easily cracked by the opposition’ Sylvester folded the paper and dropped it on the table.
‘Agent Dakolo called some minutes ago, he’ll be here in the afternoon to get a report on all that we’ve been doing concerning the breach we’ve been experiencing’
‘Okay, I’ve been expecting him to ask for it. I prepared a report already and he doesn’t even need to come here, we could mail it to him’ Henry said.
‘I think he’ll also like to get some explanations, that’s why he wants to come physically’ Sylvester put in.
‘No problem, we’ll be ready for him’
‘So what do we do now with Mr Dayo’s piece?’ Sylvester asked as he got up from the chair, ready to leave for his office.
‘We’ll just keep it and keep working, we need something deeper’ Henry tapped the enter key on his laptop keyboard in a loud manner and then relaxed into his seat, signifying that he was through with what he was doing. He stared up at Sylvester’s face.
‘You know we are trying to entrap this group, so we have to be wiser than they are. We cannot afford to use simple keys and scripts in tackling them, that’ll be making mockery of ourselves’
‘Alright then’ Sylvester shrugged and turned to leave
**Kabakawa, Batagarawa Katsina, Katsina State. **
After lodging in a hotel for two days, the team finally moved into the rented apartment for which they had paid the rent fee for a year. The house wasn’t too expensive but it was big enough to contain all of them. It was already furnished to their taste before they moved in. They had chosen a flat with three bedrooms in the two storey building house with a total of six flats. Theirs was located by the left side on the middle floor. Tarasha had carefully chosen an apartment for them in an open area this time, it would reduce the rate of unnecessary suspicions. But they also had to be extra careful and watchful.
It was Monday morning and work had begun already. Cole was seated behind a table, composing an email on his laptop to inform the Atta’s foundation of their team’s arrival into the country. Benny was in one of the rooms where he and Cole had chosen for themselves, arranging the new arms and ammunitions into the wardrobe. He neatly arranged the various sizes of bullets and sealed explosives in a section. He arranged the pistols in another section and long guns in another. The last section was used to store his clothes and Cole’s.
Aisha was also in her room, setting the place in the order she wanted. She hissed on seeing the little bag of clothes which she brought to the place. Although the bag was actually the biggest bag amongst all bags of clothes the team had brought, she still thought it to be small. Their kind of job would not satisfy her desire to always take her best clothes around town. She hissed again as she saw herself in the mirror on bending to arrange the makeup kits placed in front of the mirror.
What did she even need the clothes for now that her hair was gone? She looked like a man, she thought. She gave a brief mockery laugh at herself as she rubbed her palms on the head.
She then turned back to pick a small case which contained more makeup kits. That wasn’t for her but for the team, the team would frequently need to change their appearances on this operation. Another small bag was lying beside the case, it contained camouflage materials like artificial beards, masks, wigs and even skinlike gloves.
Benny walked into the living room after he was done with arranging the tools, he met Cole already closing his laptop.
‘Have you finished typing the email?’ He asked as he moved to sit on the couch.
‘Yes, we’ll see it when we come back from the boutique’ Cole answered, standing up with his closed laptop in his hand.
‘You want us to go now?’ Benny seemed not too comfortable with the idea.
‘Yes, what else should we do now?’
‘Why don’t you send the email now and let’s see their reply, they may probably engage you in a chat’ Benny tried to convince Cole.
‘I’ve sent the mail to the Boss first for vetting, until she replies us we cannot forward it to the foundation’ Cole responded with a wry look on his face.
‘Dust your lazy a-s and let’s go out to get the clothes now. I’ll go get Aisha.’ With that Cole walked away, leaving Benny who remained on the seat tiredly. For Benny, it was always fun to get new clothes but this one was different, the clothes would have to be disposed off at the end of the operation.
~~~ **Abuja** 2pm
‘You went this far?’ Dakolo stared Henry in the face as he read the report provided to him. ‘Even the US CCTV officials have not discovered up to this, nice job’ he commended cheerfully jamming his palms together.
‘Thank you sir’ Henry smiled. ‘The only thing that looks similar in this their report is…’ Dakolo began but stopped abruptly. He bent to bring out the report from the US CCTV from his small brief case which was placed by the leg of the chair he was seated. He placed the binded four pages report on Henry’s table. Sylvester was the first to pick up the report and open it. Dakolo opened back Henry’s report which was still in his hands. He began to flip the pages until he got to the last. ‘Here’ he said, pointing a particular area on the page.
‘This code looks similar to theirs’ Henry bent forward to look at where Dakolo was pointing. Dakolo handed it over to him to have a better view. ” BN 10354 ‘ Encrypt XL << — t.a.r– n.e.f — >> Run script = enter ‘ >>”
That was one of the most mysterious encryption code Henry had ever come across. He had never seen the key words anywhere else before and since he discovered the script, he has not been able to decrypt it. Dakolo collected the report Sylvester was holding and opened to the second page. ‘Here ‘ he pointed another area for Henry to look at. The encryption script Henry saw in the US report was similar to the one in his report. “BN 20679 ‘Encrypt XL << — s.e.r— n.e.f — >> Run script = enter ‘ >>”
‘What??’ Henry’s lips vibrated as he fixed his eyes on the code, looking slightly baffled. He took his eyes off to Dakolo face. ‘The assassin group is larger than we thought, it’s a worldwide organization’ Dakolo licked his lips slowly and silently as he watched Henry fix his eyes again to the report.
‘Can I…’ Sylvester who was anxious to see the correlation stretched forth his hand impatiently to collect the reports from Henry.
‘So now that we know that we are dealing with a worldwide assassin group, we have to up our game’ Dakolo finally spoke.
‘Your engineers have to be informed about what they are dealing with. And I think the corporation has to establish a strong connection with the US corporation’
‘Wow! I wasn’t aware that there have been breaches in the CCTV operations in the US too’ Henry spoke in low tones, relaxing his back in the seat.
‘There have been’ Dakolo replied him, tapping a finger on the table as he stared into the air and inhaled. ‘The breaks always comes during the period of assassinations just like ours’
‘Hmm… Same strategies, same codes’ Henry said thoughtfully. Dakolo stared at Henry’s face for a moment.
‘Henry E.G, I need to ask you some questions’ Dakolo stated after a brief moment of silence. Henry sat upright and adjusted himself to pay attention, surprised at the Agent’s sudden change of tone.
‘What questions sir?’
‘You were kidnapped recently’ Dakolo paused and stared at Henry’s face, noticing a change. It was obvious to him that Henry wasn’t comfortable with the new subject.
‘Yes sir’ Henry confirmed reluctantly.
‘It happened after you got a job from the late Chief Jubril Lawal?’ Dakolo continued, making sure he maintained eye contact with Henry. Henry noticed this and decided to try as much as possible to hide his expressions, else the Agent would extract every information from him even if he tried to lie.
‘Yes, I don’t know if the job was for Chief Jubril but it was brought to us by one of his workers’ Henry answered.
‘Chief Jubril sent him’ Sylvester quickly put in. Dakolo took a glance at Sylvester and fixed his eyes back to Henry’s face.
‘Let’s talk about your abduction first. It lasted for less than a day. How did you escape?’
‘I was told that they left us to go after they had a disagreement amongst themselves’ Henry replied.
‘You were told?’
‘Yes, I was knocked out. I only opened my eyes after we’ve moved far away from there’
‘You and your girlfriend?’
‘No, but a very close lady friend’
‘Well, I don’t need to go into details of how you were abducted that day. I know that you have been questioned about that already.’ Dakolo adjusted to a more comfortable seating position and placed his chin on his right fist. ‘You mentioned during your interrogation with the police that your suspect was Dare, Chief Jubril’s son?’
‘Yes’ Henry confirmed with a nod.
‘But you didn’t mention to me that you’ve seen him recently’ Dakolo frowned.
‘Sir, we’ve not really been able to discuss personal matters since you came into town’
‘That’s true.’ Dakolo paused and turned to Sylvester who was already clearing his throat to announce his desire to leave since he felt he wasn’t concerned with the questioning.
‘Mr Sylvester’ Dakolo called with a chuckle. ‘You have to wait, I also have some questions for you too.’ Sylvester nodded in reply and comported himself. Dakolo turned back to Henry. ‘Let’s push the personal matters aside for now’ Dakolo continued with Henry. ‘Did you ever think that the kidnap could be related to the job brought by the late Chief’s PA?’
‘No’ Henry replied sharply after narrowing his eyes thoughtfully.
‘You don’t think so?’
‘Yes, I don’t’ Henry shook his head in negative to emphasize. He thought again briefly. Omotara was the suspect behind the number he was investigating, so was it really possible that she had planned their kidnap.
‘So you insist that it could have only been Dare Lawal?’ Dakolo pressed. ‘Wait’ he cut in before Henry could speak. ‘What was the result of your investigation?’ Henry’s heartbeat increased thrice in speed. The question he was scared of have been finally asked. Was he now going to turn Omotara in? Knowing fully well that Agent Dakolo would not stop until he fishes out who Alexander Evelyn really was and probably even associate her with the Chief’s assassination which Henry believed Omotara was innocent about.
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++++ **Tuesday Morning**
Sylvester sat behind his table, brushing up some of his previous works. Something surprising had happened the day before. It all started from the moment Dakolo asked about the report of Chief Jubril’s job, Henry did not reply with a straightforward answer. Dakolo did ask, ‘what was the result of your investigation?’ Henry who was obviously not suffering from catarrh before that moment sniffed in and rubbed his nose like someone who was heavily disturbed with cold.
‘The man has not come to collect it’ Henry gave an answer which surprised his two listeners. Dakolo slanted his face slightly and stared into Henry’s face. He wasn’t expecting an off point answer like that from the brilliant Henry, his detective mind quickly suggested to him that Henry was trying to hide something.
‘I know’ Dakolo persisted, ‘but what I want is the report’ Henry stared still for some seconds without a reply.
‘I have it with me’ Henry answered, still trying to conjure what kind of answer would be accepted by the Agent. At this point, Dakolo was quite sure that Henry was trying to hide the truth but he still decided to keep his doubt unknown as he could be wrong, he didn’t want to wrongly suspect or accuse the honorable Henry.
‘What was the result? Was the number really Canadian?’ Dakolo made his question more specific.
‘Yes, it was. The calls they were receiving was from Canada’ Henry finally gave in and lied to cover up Omotara. He could see the unhidden surprise on the face of Sylvester who he had once told that the number was cloned and the calls were being made from Africa.
‘Hmm’ Dakolo paused for a moment, still staring straight into Henry’s eyes. He took a brief glance at Sylvester as if to confirm Henry’s words from him but the look on Sylvester’s face was that of a person who was just hearing the report too. Sylvester tried to help Henry cover up too. Dakolo returned his gaze to Henry’s face, still trying to deduce if Henry was hiding the truth. He shook his head, smacked his lips softly and rubbed his palms together.
‘Let me leave you guys to continue with your work for now, I’ll be back to give and get more information’
Dakolo had concluded before getting up to pack his load. Back to Sylvester. He was still wondering why Henry told a lie to the Agent as he arranged his table. Or did Henry give him the false report earlier? Whatever it was he would have loved to find out immediately but with the look Henry kept on his face after Dakolo had left, he couldn’t summon enough courage to ask.
‘Alexander Kimberly’ he pronounced as his eyes met the file dropped by Tarasha the day before. He selected it and took out the papers inside. The first was her curriculum vitae, followed by copies of her certificates from school, then some copies of the reports of her personal projects as a developer and software engineer. He began to read the report and soon found the contents interesting. She seemed intelligent and competent.
‘She may be good for the job’ he said to himself on a second thought. He continued to read through the reports and found some details that astonished him. He was forced to check her curriculum vitae again to confirm which university she graduated from. It was a London university. He returned to the report again and continued to scan through, getting more surprises as he read through. At a point, he began to doubt the authenticity, it was possible that she had copied from the works of a successful developer. He was still engrossed with the reports when his phone rang. He picked it up and checked the caller, it was an unsaved number. He answered the call and a familiar voice sounded.
‘Good morning sir, it’s Alexander Kimberly’ the voice introduced.
‘Oh!’ He sighed, he was just considering her files and here she was already calling his number.
‘Miss Kimberly, how did you get my phone number? I don’t remember giving it to you’
‘I got it from your office yesterday sir’ she replied. ‘I saw it on the calender too’ He sighed again.
‘Okay, what can I do for you?’
‘I’m at the reception now and I asked to see you but I was told that you’ve asked that I should not be let in’ she answered.
‘Yes, I’m not expecting anybody today’ Sylvester replied tiredly. ‘And why are you here again? I didn’t ask you to come’
‘Yes, I’m sorry about that sir but since we couldn’t talk yesterday due to the circumstance that played out, I thought it okay to come back today’ Sylvester rested his forehead on his palm which was placed on the table.
‘You shouldn’t have come’
‘I’m sorry sir, I apologize for any inconvenience’ she said sharply, as if the reply had been rehearsed. There was a short pause, Sylvester could not be heard saying anything.
‘So should I come to your office?’ She asked after waiting without hearing his voice. She was sure he was still online as she could hear little sounds of his intake of breath.
‘I’ll call the Secretary first’ Sylvester accepted reluctantly. Well, not really reluctantly, he was already wishing and itching to interview the applicant who presented such a mind-blowing personal project. Six minutes later, Tarasha was in Sylvester’s office seated in the same seat she sat the day before. She was dressed in a black skirt suit and blue inner shirt. The attachment on her hair had been changed but she still made the hair in the same style, done to fall at both sides and cover her ears and cheeks. Sylvester took some minutes before he finally gave her attention.
‘Why didn’t you stay back in London to get a job?’ He asked, staring into her curriculum vitae.
‘My parents wanted me to come back to Nigeria. I’m their only child’ Tarasha replied. Sylvester paused and rolled his swivel back a little.
‘These projects’ Sylvester lifted the papers for her to see. ‘You handled them on your own? Or someone else joined you’
‘Yes, I carried out every single one on my own’ she replied with a smile. ‘I still have the files with me’
‘If that’s true, it means you’re good.’ He complimented.
‘Thank you sir.’ Her smile broadened.
‘For now, the vacancies are closed’ Sylvester announced bluntly, returning the papers back into the file. Tarasha’s smile diminished. ‘I promise to call you once we have another opening’ he said, handing her property to her. Tarasha didn’t collect it immediately. It took some encouraging looks from Sylvester before she took it from him.
‘Can I work as a volunteer?’ She asked after a moment of deafening silence.
‘Volunteer?’ His eyes widened in surprise.
‘Yes, I just feel I have something to do here’ she continued convincingly. ‘Especially with our recent security problems, I think I’ve got something to put in’ Sylvester placed a finger on his lips as he tried to reason. Taking her as a volunteer seemed excellent to him, but what if Henry thinks he employed her as a full staff? He gave a brief smile and clapped his hands together. Even Henry had said he was the Boss, so he wouldn’t owe Henry any explanation.
‘Okay’ he smiled. ‘You’ll do some personal jobs for me, when would you like to start?’
‘Start?’ Tarasha widened her eyeballs to express her joy. ‘I can start now, I’m ready’
‘Are you sure?’ Sylvester folded his arms and rested back.
‘Yes, I am’ she replied briefly. Sylvester gave a crooked smile. He was going to have an intelligent person work for him, for free. He started to think of his abandoned projects that he needed to work on.
Elvis Richards Residence, Asokoro, Abuja ~~
Elvis Richards laid in the bathtub filled with warm water, he had a pipe in his mouth. That was his perfect thinking place when he had a serious difficulty, in the bathroom. He could either stay thirty minutes thinking under the shower while having what was supposed to be a brief bath or deliberately set himself up in the bathtub. But it had been years since he did any of those, because for a long time, he had not been faced with any challenge which got him so perplexed as this one. Though when he became the Vice President, he had promised himself to stay away from police and criminal matters, he couldn’t keep his promise as the recent assassinations involved two of his closest, old-time friends and business associates.
Thinking about all the assassinations and the mode; that is how they were killed when they weren’t even vying for any position or contending for any post. He began to think that this dangerous assassin, Samantha Osman could actually be their nemesis, his nemesis. After the day he and the President had met with the heads of all security bodies, he had become more conscious of this thing, Nemesis. Or how could you explain how his two close pals were killed? Without any concrete or suspected reason.
The meeting had opened his eyes to see more clearly, that’s why he quickly agreed to work with the security bodies and bring in his experience to help them defeat the assassin. But he still lacked absolute trust in the security system. Being once a part of the system and a notorious one at that, he concluded that the system could not be trusted as there could be one like him who would be the one perpetrating the crime and also fighting it, like he did during his time of service. All these troubles, just for his past. He wished he could erase it totally and be a new man, but it wasn’t possible. The effect of the atrocities committed by him, Nasiru Attahiru – the Senate President, the late Jubril Lawal, the late minister of health and some others who had been dead for a longer while would still be felt for generations to come.
One thing that still got him confused and considering if it wasn’t nemesis was the second victim of assassination, the Rivers State Governor. The Rivers State Governor was never a friend or associate of his, so he couldn’t connect the man’s assassination to his close pals’ deaths. Or maybe it was just a coincidence, maybe some serial killers had just been released into the countries of the world and had unfortunately chosen his two friends.
Anyway anyhow it was, he had to be prepared for anything. Now that he had joined forces with the security bodies, he needed to also seek some other alternatives. He stepped out of the bathtub and took the towel from where it hung. He covered his nakedness with the towel and began to proceed out of the bathroom. He stopped at the entrance as he remembered an option. Don. That was the topmost assassin in the country. Of course, the topmost before Samantha Osman was revealed. Several years ago, Don was known as a trainee under Scot, an assassin who used to work for Chief Elvis and his friends.
Scot was a dreaded cultist during his days in the university, he was always used several by politicians to carry out political assassinations and violence. Seven years after leaving school, Don Daniel headed the same cult he had left. Don graduated from school and joined Scot in the assassination job but be proved to be wiser and cleverer than Scot. Don later killed Scot after they had a disagreement and took over Supremacy. Don had a large network of assassins under him and he also was connected with others who were working on their own. Chief Elvis was sure that Don would know who Samantha Osman is. She may even be an assassin under his control, he thought.
He was going to contact Don before deciding what step was next. Chief Elvis finally stepped into the room and closed the bathroom’s door. He had a meeting in the next three hours to prepare for.
++++ ~~Same day, 4pm ~~
Henry was returning to the office in his car after driving out to get something in a computer gadgets store. He had been moody all day, barely talking to anyone in the office. He couldn’t get his mind off what transpired in the office the day before. He wondered if he had made the right choice in lying to protect Omotara or if he had just gotten himself into trouble. He also wondered where Omotara was now and if she had decided to take his advice to get a decent job.
He let out a deep breath as he turned at the roundabout point and faced the road which led to the office. A median was separating his lane from the opposite direction lane. There was an unusual traffic jam on the lane but the other was free. Henry sighed as he queued behind a taxi, just few metres to the office. As the cars began to move slowly, he saw a car which looked familiar drive through the opposite lane. At first, he couldn’t tell where he had seen the car but in a moment of seconds, realization hit him. It felt as if he was punched hard in the stomach. It was the same blue car he saw in Omotara’s compound, he could recognize it by the scratch on the bonnet. He wanted to turn and follow after the car immediately but there were cars already behind him and he could not fly over the median.
He poked out his head through the window immediately and looked back, he couldn’t see the car anymore. He hissed and shook his head in pity for himself. He was just hallucinating, he thought. …
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To be continued