April 25, 2031
‘Cole, look out for a pharmacy as you drive, we need to get some drugs.’ Tarasha said to Cole as he drove them home in the car from the airport. She and Dr Martin Ekwueme sat comfortably at the backseat of the car.
‘Okay boss,’ Cole nodded. He looked at the rearview mirror to look at the man’s face again. He knew it must be the man who needed to buy drugs, Tarasha had never stopped to buy drugs on the road without taking a license of representing a hospital or clinic.
His eyes met with Tarasha’s in the mirror and he looked away . He knew she had caught him observing the man and would be wondering what he had in mind.
He flashed a look at the mirror again, this time to have another view of her face but she had moved closer to the door and her face couldn’t be seen except he adjusted the mirror position. What caught his interest on her face was her new hairstyle. He hadn’t imagined she was going to cut her hair when she asked him to suggest to her a good salon in Lagos.
‘There’s a pharmacy over here,’ Cole said and moved to the slow lane of the road, he reduced the speed and put on the trafficator.
‘Where’s the list of drugs?’ Tarasha asked Dr Martin.
‘Here, just five drugs.’ Dr Martin pulled out a folded paper from his pocket and handed it to Tarasha.
Cole parked at a reasonable space in front of the pharmacy and took off his seatbelt.
‘Get these drugs and three bottles of water,’ Tarasha said to him, handing him the list of drugs and a debit card.
Cole collected the items from her and stepped out from the car. ‘Can I also get myself a bottle of water?’ he asked Tarasha after closing the door.
‘The third bottle was for you,’ she replied him. He nodded and mumbled some inaudible words before walking away.
‘Who’s he?’ Martin Ekwueme asked after Cole left.
‘He’s Cole,’ Tarasha replied briefly.
‘He’s Cole,’ she repeated.
‘Okay,’ the man stopped and refrained from asking more questions about Cole. Tarasha had already told him she wasn’t going to be answering all his questions and that he would have to either keep shut or find out some things by himself.
Twenty minutes later
‘Just take those ones in, I’ll bring the remaining with me.’ Tarasha said to Cole who was trying to overload himself with the bags in the boot.
Cole pulled the big traveling box in his right hand and held Tarasha’s backpack in his left. He left Tarasha at the boot with the briefcase and a cubic shaped bag.
‘Can I help with any?’ Tarasha heard Dr Ekwueme offer.
She let out a fake smile and said, ‘Don’t bother, just follow him inside.’On a usual day she would have said, ‘Old man, get the f*** in and stop misbehaving.’
She closed the boot and carried the bags in her hands, following the man behind at his pace.
Dr Martin glanced around, taking a good view of the house as he proceeded towards the entrance from the car park. It was where he was going to live till Samantha said she was done with him, he assumed. It looked beautiful to him but he wondered if it would be livable like a normal residence or more of an assasin’s crib. Anyone it was, he was ready to live there until it was over. Tarasha had threatened that the lives of his family members were at stake if he ever tried to betray her. She had said it lightly and indirectly, but he wasn’t going to take it lightly especially after he had watched the news on TV with her the last night and saw the recap of the blood scenes at the hotel. From that he also got to know why she repainted the Toyota Yaris they left in the compound at Anambra state. Tarasha seemed to be someone of two different personalities to him; the first a lovable innocent girl who was ready to listen and help always and the second personality, a ruthless assasin.
Tarasha followed patiently behind the slow walking aged man until they got to the corridor and she found her way to his front.
‘Where is she?’ she heard Henry’s voice as she stepped into the living room. She halted at the entrance as her eyes met with his, he was standing at the entrance of the corridor leading to the rooms. She knew her arrival must have taken him by surprise, she asked Cole to come to the airport without saying any word about her arrival.
‘Omotara,’ Henry mumbled under his breath with his eyes widely shone at her as if he couldn’t believe that she was really there.
For reasons unknown, Tarasha could not move any further from where she was and Henry also froze for sometime. Their eyes connected and something similar to an electric current surged through Tara’s body.
Henry began to walk close to her while she remained at the same spot. Dr Martin was now standing behind her and couldn’t pass because she blocked the entrance, he however didn’t say a word but waited patiently to see what was making her remain there.
Her bags dropped from her hands as Henry got closer and he didn’t not allow her say anything before he pulled her into warm embrace.
Tarasha remained stiff for a while, not knowing how to respond as it felt strange. The only time she knew how to respond to an embrace was when it was being given to her by someone she was trying to lure to his death or extract an important piece of information from. She finally realized that he was holding her tightly and one of his hands was at her back and the other close to her waist, then she responded by placing her hands at the same position his was.
‘I thought I was going to lose you,’ Henry said, finally releasing her from his grip.
She stared at his face passionately without knowing which words to respond with. Her hands found it’s way to his back and pulled his face closer by his neck to her own face for a kiss.
Someone cleared his throat as their lips touched each other’s.
‘I’m sorry, but I’m quite tired, you have to allow me pass first so that I can give you all the time to enjoy yourselves.’ the doctor said.
Both of them disengaged and Tarasha picked up her bags from the road to allow the man pass.
‘Good afternoon,’ Dr Martin greeted Henry as he walked past to the centre of living room.
‘Wow! We have someone new,’ Henry exclaimed with a chuckle, his surprise causing him not to return the man’s greeting. His eyes followed the man as the man walked to one of the sofas and sat down tiredly.
‘Yes, we do.’ Tarasha replied him and attempted to proceed forward with the bags. Henry stopped her and collected the bags from her. He then carried it to the rooms while she joined Dr Martin where he was seated.
She walked to his front and stopped right there with her back turned to him. Then she turned back and squatted at the same time. He stared at her face wondering what she was up to.
She could see the fright in his eyes as her eyes met with his. She held her breath for a moment. ‘Don’t get too familiar with me, it’s dangerous,’ she said in a serious warning tone.
He nodded fearfully, holding his breath in his throat as she stared at his face coldly. She finally got up and walked away, leaving him to keep wondering what she meant by her warning. He couldn’t tell if it was connected to what he just did at the door or if it was something else entirely.
‘I want the list of all NAFDAC’s director generals from 2008 till date,’ Tarasha said to Cole who was working on another system while she worked on the master system.
Cole nodded in response and began his work. He knew what she meant when she said ‘list’, it meant a complete profile and details of each one of the director generals and not just their names.
The door to the control room opened and Henry stepped in. He was surprised to see Tarasha working already, he had expected that she would take some time to rest, probably a day off before resuming work. He closed the door gently and walked towards her. He stopped behind her chair and placed a hand on her shoulder, looking at what she was doing.
Her body twitched as Henry’s hands touched her shoulders. She hoped that he didn’t notice the twitch and continued with her work without looking at him. His fingers spread around her shoulders for a while gently caressing her neck and shoulder muscles.
‘Who’s he?’ Henry suddenly stopped what he was doing and stared at a picture she just opened. Previously, she had been on the Nigeria Citizen’s directory portal and had hacked into it. She then minimized and opened a USB device connected to the computer. The file she clicked on was what displayed the image Henry was asking about. The man had a bandage around his head.
‘He’s the SSS agent who traced me to Anambra state,’ she replied, not getting rightly the pronunciation of ‘Anambra’.
‘How did you get him? I thought the news reported that his identity was unknown.’ Henry asked.
Cole’s attention had also been drawn to them from where he was and was staring at them, wishing he could see that SSS agent that was able to trace Tarasha.
‘Yes, no one knows his identity except the top Security agents. I had to go the SSS head office to find out,’ Tarasha replied.
‘Boss, can I see his picture? He could be someone I know,’ Cole said and got up to his feet.
Tarasha opened the picture back for Cole to have a view.
Cole stared at the picture for close to thirty seconds. ‘His face is familiar,’ Cole said. ‘How did you get his picture?’
‘I captured him with the back camera of my phone,’ Tarasha replied and exited the image.
‘Wow!’ Cole exclaimed and returned to his seat, imagining how Tarasha was able to take the picture boldly without the SSS guy knowing.
Henry dragged a seat close to Tarasha and sat beside her, watching as she selected the main features of the face in the picture and exported it to the citizen’s directory checker. She clicked on search by passport and relaxed back as it began to load.
‘I think I know who the guy is,’ Cole suddenly spoke again after three minutes. He had been thinking about it since he saw the picture. ‘That guy is a journalist,’ Cole added.
Tarasha glanced at him without saying anything back, he didn’t sound too sure of his assertion. She looked back to the screen in front of her. The search on the citizen’s directory was slow and had only loaded two percent. ‘You’re not sure,’ she turned back to Cole.
Henry moved his chair backwards to allow her see Cole easily.
‘I am, I’ve seen him at several crime scenes with cameras and recorders.’
‘He can’t be a journalist, he was the SSS official that came after me in the Chevrolet.’
‘Did you confirm he was a officer of the SSS from their office?’
‘No, they would never confirm that. They told me he only had to use the car to pick up one of the injured officer and that he was working as a doctor close to the hotel.’ she said and looked back at the screen, it was now at nine percent.
‘I’m sure he’s a journalist, I’ve seen him with the desert reporters’ badge at crime scenes several times.’ Cole insisted.
‘Desert reporters?’ she asked.
She minimized the current window and opened another app. ‘We can get more information about him if he’s truly a journalist for desert reporters.’
Aguda House, Aso Rock.
Elvis Richards made slight noises with the soles of his shoes and the walking stick as he made his way down the stairs. The Chairman of the NIS and the Inspector General of police who were waiting for him in the living room already got alerted of his coming by the sounds made. The NIS Chairman rose up to his feet as the Vice President approached while the IG who was in his wheelchair remained seated.
‘Good afternoon sir,’ the NIS Chairman and IG chorused.
‘Good afternoon gentlemen,’ Elvis Richards stretched forth his hand to the NIS man first before going to the IG. ‘Please be seated,’ he said and also located a seat. ‘I believe the both of you know it’s really important we meet. We need to really know what happened in Anambra two days ago and I think you’re in the best position to answer us,’ he concluded by facing the NIS Chairman.
‘Yes sir, reports from my men have already been sent to me and I transferred them to the IG already.’ the NIS Chairman said.
‘So, IG, what have you been able to make out of the report sent to you?’ the Vice President turned to Chief Rikau.
‘Sir, we couldn’t make out anything tangible, her going to Anambra doesn’t really make any sense except she went there to kill someone else we don’t know about and who isn’t connected to us.’
‘What about your Undercover agent who traced her there?’
‘He’s still there but with company now, they’ve not made any progress on her since she escaped that morning and they should be returning here tomorrow morning.’
‘Is he fine now? I mean how Undercover agent.’
‘Not yet, he goes in and out of the hospital every now and then to redress his wounds.’
‘I don’t know why but I’m having a feeling that whatever she went to do in Anambra is still connected to us,’ the Vice President said thoughtfully.
‘I don’t think so,’ Chief Rikau replied. ‘I think she went on another different mission, she’s an assassin who kills for money, so she could just take another job.’
There was a brief silence.
‘Well, I want that your man thoroughly monitored from now on, he seems to be making more progress than the police team is doing and that’s why I asked you not to suspend him.’ Elvis Richards said to the NIS Chairman.
‘Yes, the agent is efficient and intelligent.’ the NIS man replied.
‘So we have to work with him closely and provide him the necessary support needed.’
‘Yes sir, we would.’
‘Okay. Another thing I wanted to let you know is that I’ll be functioning more from here henceforth,’ the Vice President said and paused to see their reactions. He noticed a visible change in the looks on their faces, especially on Chief Rikau’s face. ‘Listen men, I’m not trying to escape from there. As you know my house there is also well secured. But I’ve just made my intention to contest for the presidency next year known to my party and common sense tells that I stay here.’
‘Oh! I’ve been expecting that,’ the IG said with a bright smile.
‘Yeah, now. It’s here,’ Chief Elvis smiled back.
‘Wow! Congratulations already sir, I believe no one else deserves the position better than you do.’ the NIS Chairman commented.
‘Thank you,’ Chief Elvis said as he dipped his hand into his pocket to take out his phone. He checked the screen, his daughter was calling. He silenced it and held it in his hand.
‘So, I guess the primaries are holding very soon right?’ Chief Rikau asked.
‘Yes, before the end of the year.’ he replied. His phone was vibrating again, his daughter was calling again. ‘Please excuse me misters, permit me to answer this call, she won’t let my phone rest if I don’t.’ he said before clicking on the green button.
‘Hello dear,’ he said into the phone with a smile.
‘Hi Dad, where are you?’ the tiny voice was audible to him only.
‘I’m in the house,’ he replied.
‘The Villa,’ he replied.
‘Okay, I’m on my way there now.’ she said.
‘Hey, I’m quite…’ he tried to tell her not to come but she already ended the call. He looked at Chief Rikau’s face and shook his head with a smile.
‘Isn’t that Vivian, is she in the country?’ Chief Rikau asked.
‘Yes, but I thought she was in Lagos, only for her to tell me she’s on her way here already.’ the Vice President replied.
‘Hahaha…’ Chief Rikau laughed heartily. ‘The lastborns of the house can be full of surprises most times.’
‘This one is surely a bundle of surprises everytime, she doesn’t take no for an answer.’
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‘Why is his name only written as DJ in the citizen’s directory?’ Tarasha asked aloud, staring at the computer with a confused look. After waiting close to an hour for the search to be completed, it loaded very scanty details after it finished loading.
‘What other details does it show?’ Cole asked from his seat. Henry was no longer in the room with them.
‘It shows his previous occupation as a student and shows his hubby as swimming,’ she answered him.
‘No address or present occupation?’
‘None.’ She folded her arms and rested her back. ‘There’s no way we’re going to confirm if he’s affiliated with Desert reporters with this.’
The control room door opened and Henry entered, now on a sleeveless top and shorts. ‘Lunch has been served, I’ll advice you guys go for it before it gets cold.’ he said as he walked to the seat beside Tarasha.
As he sat, he noticed that none of them replied him and also observed the look on Tara’s face. ‘Is there any problem?’ he asked, looking at Cole.
Cole nodded a no and continued with his own work but Henry wasn’t convinced. He looked at Tara’s face, she wasn’t saying anything but was staring at the screen with a thoughtful face. He looked at the screen. A Nigerian citizen’s profile was being displayed, an old passport of boy in his mid teens was the picture there and the name showed was only ‘DJ’.
‘Is this the SSS agent’s profile? If his details are not there, it means he’s not just an official of the SSS but a special agent of the NIS.’ Henry said after skimming through the profile.
He finally got Tara’s attention. ‘What’s NIS?’she asked him.
‘National Intelligence Service, a secret division of the State Security Service.’ Henry answered. Cole was also staring at him now.
‘So, it means we can’t identify him from this directory?’ Tarasha asked.
‘You can but only with an authorized computer system.’
‘And how do we make this computer authorized?’
‘There’s no way we can make the system authorized, what makes it authorized is if it is used in the premises of the NIS Headquarters.’
‘You mean we can only access his profile from their office?’
‘That’s crazy!’ Tarasha chuckled. Going into the den of several NIS officers just to get one of them would definitely be the most stupid thing to do. ‘So, where is this NIS office?’
‘I don’t know, it’s secret and their operations are secret too.’ Henry answered.
Tarasha closed her eyes for a moment and laid back her head on the backrest of the chair. She searched her mind for another method to find the Agent. The only thing she could think of was going to meet Jumoke in Lagos but then there was a high certainty that Jumoke wouldn’t know anything about the Agent, he could have gotten the information from her secretly or even from somewhere else entirely.
‘I think I’ve also met the guy, he’s a journalist.’ Henry said, staring thoughtfully over the computer screen.
Cole and Tarasha fastened their eyes on him, wondering if he was sure of what he was saying.
‘Can I see his recent picture again?’ Henry said to Tara.
She located the gallery tab in the status bar as clicked on it. Henry got up and placed a finger on the screen, covering the bandage head in the picture. He titled his head in both directions one at a time to view the picture.
‘It’s him,’ he said as he returned to his seat. ‘David James, Desert Reporters journalist. He’s quite young and intelligent, we met thrice and worked together on one occasion.’
‘What did you do with him?’ Tarasha asked.
‘It had to do with creating a virtual server, the guy is quite good in cracking and developing too.’ Henry replied.
‘So how do we find him?’
‘I don’t know, I don’t know anything else about him apart from our work together.’
Tarasha remained silent for a moment and bit her lower lip thoughtfully, ‘I hope you’re right with this name you just provided, if you are, then we don’t have a problem with locating him anymore.’
‘He’s right,’ Cole stated boldly, getting up from his seat. He walked towards them and stopped beside Henry. ‘When you travelled, I made some research and I got to know the name of the journalist who broke the news of your mother’s kidnap,’ Cole said looking at Henry. ‘His name was David James, he’s the same person.’
Tarasha turned away from Cole and faced the other side. She smiled evilly to herself. The initials ‘DJ’ which she saw now made sense to her. The guy’s real name was David James.
‘He must have been trailing me for a long time,’ she said, turning back to the men. They both stared back at her expressionlessly. ‘I need to pay him a visit soon,’ she said and got up to her feet. ‘Now my tummy is asking for food, I’ve got to settle it.’
With that she walked out of the control room. Cole and Henry stared at each other for some seconds before Cole followed her. Henry stayed back as he had already eaten.
…to be continued