Flashback ~~ An Hour Ago
‘Have you called Agent Dave?’ Agent Godwin asked Dan as he walked into a living room where Dan was seated and resting comfortably and watching TV.
‘No, why?’ Dan asked the man.
‘I was told he was at the office some minutes ago, he told my secretary that he forgot something there.’ Godwin replied.
‘What could he have forgotten?’ Dan questioned with a frown.
‘I don’t know, I’m just wondering why he didn’t call to let me know.’
‘Well, I’m sure he would be back soon. No need to worry, he would explain himself.’
Dave looked towards the hospital gate again from where he was seated, in the car he rented. He glanced at his wristwatch one more time, it was sixteen minutes to eight. It was either the men he was expecting had gone into the hospital before he arrived or they were going to resume late that night.
While he was still thinking, one of the men he recognized appeared at the other side of the road looking out for cars before he would cross the road. Dave started the car engine immediately and drove forward, he stopped beside the fence of the hospital just before the gate. The man was now standing at the median. The road was soon free for him and he crossed to the other side and headed towards the gate. Dave pushed the horn to call his attention.
The security man stopped and observed the car for a second, it was an expensive one. The owner must be a very wealthy person, he thought. He changed direction and walked to the car.
‘Good evening sir,’ Dave greeted with a kind smile.
‘Good evening,’ the security man greeted. The person in the car looked younger than he expected. He had thought he would find a man above fifty year old at the backseat of the car with a driver in front. Immediately in his mind, he concluded that the young man was an internet fraudster if he was the real owner of the car.
‘Sir, I need some help from you. I’d like to ask you some questions about your hospital, I hope you don’t mind joining me in the car so that we can talk.’
‘I’m on my way to work as you can see,’ the security man replied and stood up straight, now looking towards the gate.
‘Sir, this is for you if you’ll answer my questions.’ Dave said as he reached for a briefcase behind. He opened it to show the man but the man was still staring at the gate, a woman with a bandage on the head was coming out with a man.
‘What did you say?’ the security man turned back to him. He took a step backward and bent towards the car. His mouth opened wide in shock as he saw the content of the briefcase – one thousand naira notes well stacked and arranged.
Dave took out two bundles and closed the briefcase. ‘This will be for you after you answer my question.’
The security man whistled in low volume as he calculated the bundles in his mind, it would be nothing less than a hundred thousand naira. That was huge to him. Without thinking much, he turned to the other side and entered the car after making sure that no one was watching him from the hospital gate.
‘Can I start right away?’ Dave asked.
‘No,’ the man answered, still looking around to see if anyone was watching. ‘Let’s move away from here,’ he said. All he had in mind was to get to a place he could collect the money without anyone seeing him.
Dave could read his mind. He felt pity for him because the notes weren’t going to touch the man’s hand even though they were fake naira notes. He had taken the briefcase from Agent Godwin’s office. He learnt from their visit there in the morning that Agent Godwin was dealing with a case of fake money printed and the man talked about the briefcase while discussing with them. He had to return it to the SSS Office after use.
Dave drove the car a little bit forward and halted again.
‘I think this is a very good place to stay,’ the security man said, looking out through the back window. He turned back and faced Dave with an anxious look. ‘Please ask any questions you want.’
‘Please sir, I want you to be truthful with me. I could add more to the money if you provide me with the right information.’
‘Okay, ask,’ the man hurried him up, nodding affirmatively. He took a glance at the bundle of money between Dave’s lap again.
‘I learnt that Samantha Osman was in your hospital last night, is that true?’
‘Uhm…’ the man frowned a bit, it wasn’t the kind of question he was expecting. ‘Yes…ss.’
‘I heard the security men saw her,’ Dave continued. ‘Were you one of them and do you know how long she stayed in the hospital?’
‘Ermm… No, and I can’t tell how long she stayed.’
‘Oh!’ Dave closed his eyes, he inhaled deeply and exhaled. ‘That means I have to find someone else who knows how long she was there, that’s the most important information I need, so that I can determine where she went after that.’
‘Ermm…’ the man cleared his throat as his blinked severally. ‘Do you promise to still release the money if I tell you the truth?’ the man asked, his gaze lingering on the bundles of money again.
‘Yes,’ Dave handed him one of the bundles. ‘I’ll add two more bundles if you tell me the whole truth.’
‘Ahem!’ he cleared his throat again and looked through the back window as if to confirm once more if anybody was watching. With his face full of smiles, he tried to force the first bundle into his pocket.
‘I have a bag for you,’ Dave offered. He stretched his hand to the backseat and picked a small leather bag, he gave it to the man and the man inserted the first bundle.
‘The truth is that Samantha Osman did not come to our hospital yesterday,’ the man said boldly. He knew that Dave may not like the truth he was about to say but he was confident because one of the bundles was already with him and if he was lucky, Dave would appreciate the truth by giving him more. ‘In fact, we saw nobody at all. We didn’t know how the killer of Eze Okafor got in or how the person got out, even our security cameras didn’t capture the movement.’
Dave faked a look of surprise, ‘But the police officers think that Samantha Osman was the one.’
‘That was the instruction given to us, I think our head security officer was bribed to accuse Samantha Osman and he also commanded the rest of us to also give the same information to police officers and
‘So Samantha Osman did not come to your hospital?’
‘I don’t know, non of my colleagues know but our head security officer claims she did but we don’t trust him, we believe he was asked to say that. We were the ones on duty and we didn’t see anyone.’
‘Who do you think bribed your head security officer?’
‘I can’t tell, I don’t have an idea.’
‘Okay,’ Dave bit his lips and stared in silence for a while. Then he turned to the backseat and moved the briefcase, he picked up a pistol the bag was covering. ‘Let me have the money back,’ he said, pointing the gun at the man.
The man stared silently at him, shocked beyond words. He tried to open the door stylishly but he couldn’t, Dave had placed all the doors on lock.
‘Dave, where the hell have you been?’ Dan stared at Dave with a bossy look as the latter walked into the living room.
Dave got to the sofa and sank in tiredly. He loosened his belt and laid his head on the headrest for some seconds before giving Dan attention.
‘I was everywhere bro, the cathedral, the SSS office and a bar.’ Dave said to Dan.
‘What did you forget at the SSS office?’
‘Our travel permit,’ Dave said. He managed to sit up and pulled out a folded piece of paper from his pocket, something flew out from his pocket to the floor in the process.
‘What’s that?’ Dan asked, with his eyes widened in surprise.
Dave shifted and stared at the floor. ‘s***!’ he cursed under his breath. A nylon of condom had dropped. He got up quickly and picked it. ‘It was distributed freely to me on my way back,’ he said as he began to make his way towards the room.
‘Hmm, free distribution indeed.’ Dan laughed as he watched Dave leave.
Dave dropped the condom into the waste bin as he entered the room. His purpose with it had been achieved. It was to make Dan ask him less questions and assumed that he had spent the evening in a brothel.
He sank into the bed tiredly. The traffic back to the SSS Office was terrible, but he had to go through it to return the briefcase there.
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COLE’S RESIDENCE, ABUJA.
Victor and Patricia were on the long sofa, Victor seated at the rear end and Patricia laying straight with her head on his laps. They seemed to be engrossed in their discussion.
‘So, do you really mean I’ll have to pay millions for your bride price?’ Victor said in a light mode, staring straight into her eyes. His left hand was close to her head with his fingers caressing her face and ear occasionally. The right hand was placed across her chest.
‘No, I meant that was our tradition back then. Parents insist that their daughter must come home with a very rich man.’
Dave chuckled, ‘Anyway, I wouldn’t mind if I pay so much for you, you deserve more.’
Patricia smiled and located his hand with hers, she curled her fingers around his and tightened it. ‘I love you so much.’
‘I love you more.’
A phone began to ring. Cole gave a sigh as he flashed a look at the centre table where the phone was. He recognized the caller’s ringtone and wondered what Henry was calling him for at that time.
‘Excuse me please,’ he said to Patricia and gently moved her. He reached for the phone and answered the call.
‘What’s up man?’ Victor said and began to walk towards the dinning area.
Patricia watched him go, she got up from the seat and reached for her bag on the center table. She opened the outer pocket and brought a little transparent nylon with a white powdery substance in it. She took a brief glance at her wristwatch to confirm the time. She would put the substance in a drink for him in thirty minutes time and would be able to extract enough data from his devices before morning.
BASE B, CONTROL ROOM.
‘So, John Bisong is the best option?’ Tarasha asked to confirm as she typed the name into Google search box.
‘Yes, he’s the only man who worked with Garuba Ahmed but was on the Chief Elvis’ side.’ Dr Ekwueme replied.
Tarasha took her time to go through the search results. At the top of the page was John Bisong’s picture and summary of his profile on Wikipedia, he was the current commissioner of Police in Cross River state.
‘Do you know anything personal about him?’ she asked.
‘No, I only know he worked with Garuba Ahmed.’ Dr Ekwueme replied.
‘I’ll go through the profile and get back to you. By the way, I’ll like to go through the details of Chief Elvis Richards’ Child Trafficking again, tomorrow morning.’
‘I’m ready for it, you call me when you’re ready,’ Dr Ekwueme replied.
Tarasha nodded gently, ‘Thank you, you may return to your room now.’
‘Thank you,’ Dr Ekwueme said and got up from the seat.
Henry entered into the control room just as the man was about leaving. He bowed slightly to greet and allowed the man to walk out before closing the door.
‘I called Cole on phone some minutes ago, I heard he wouldn’t be coming back here tonight.’ Henry said to Tara as he walked closer.
‘Yes, I’m aware.’ Tarasha replied after taking a brief glance at him.
‘I think something needs to be done about him and Tomi,’ Henry said as he settled in the chair beside her.
‘What’s wrong with the both of them?’ she asked, turning her face to him.
‘Things are not going fine between them and I think it’s the reason for Tomi’s sullen mood,’ Henry answered.
‘I noticed the look on her face too but I don’t want to get involved, it’s unnecessary,’ she replied and faced the desktop again.
‘You have to be involved, we all have to be in good terms with each other if we want to work well.’
‘No, we don’t have to.’ Tara disagreed in a strong tone. She stared at him with her eyes widely shone, ‘This is an organization, it doesn’t matter who your colleague is, you don’t bring personal matters into work.’
‘No buts,’ she stopped him, shaking her head to show her reluctance in discussing the matter further. ‘From the start, I warned both of them not to let whatever they do with each other affects their jobs, anyone who doesn’t carry out his activities properly would be penalized.’
Henry sighed and closed his eyes, he knew there was no way he was going to convince Tarasha to interfere. He opened his eyes and met her still staring at him, she still had the bossy look on. Her conversation with him in recent times was that of a boss to her subordinate except for times when they were alone. It showed her professionality and further strengthened her reason for not wanting to get involved between Cole and Tomi.
30 minutes later.
Tarasha was alone in the control room again. The whole house was dead silent. Henry had left her to go to sleep as she was still very busy. Now, she just finished with a part of her work and was about to begin another.
She clicked on the Nefary email application icon on the desktop, it opened immediately and she typed in her login details. It took about fifteen seconds for it to finish loading the messages. She scrolled down her inbox and located the conversation with firstname.lastname@example.org. She clicked on it and read through her latest reply. She had paid off Chief Gab’s debt without letting him know about it yet. It was against their laws and it came with a strict penalty as punishment. She located her phone and dialed Chief Gab’s number. It took some time for the man to answer.
‘Hello Tarasha,’ the man’s voice sounded sleepy.
‘Why are you owing the weekly dues Chief?’ Tarasha asked straightaway without wasting time on pleasantries.
Chief Gab was silent. He didn’t know Tarasha would find out. He had reasons he had not been able to pay yet but wasn’t bold enough to state them as excuses.
‘Talk to me Chief!’
‘Tarasha,’ Chief Gab called calmly and followed with a sigh. ‘I will pay as soon as I can.’
‘I’m not asking you to tell me when you would pay?’ ‘I’m asking why you haven’t paid when you know it’s a requisite for me to remain here.’
‘I know that Tarasha, but I’ve been very low on cash recently, I promise to pay up once I have enough money.’
‘Try your best to do that but make sure you call me before you pay anything,’ she said in conclusion and ended the call.
She dropped the phone on the table and continued with the email. She scrolled down to the previous message in reply to the assignment she gave the junior queen. She had scanned through it days ago when she received it but had no time to go through it thoroughly. It was a brief message but it contained all the important details she needed, with images and word documents attached.
‘From the descriptions you gave, it is clear that the man is an assasin from a neighboring clan. Apart from the Nefary clan, four other assasin clans exist in Northern Asia and Eastern Europe, their various signs are known but we aren’t so sure of their names except for the Villary our arch enemy clan whose attributes and signs we don’t know. There are eight images and four two-paged word documents attached in this message, two images peculiar to each clan and one document for each clan. If you can identify any two of the signs as the one on his mask, going through each document will help you identify the document the sign is peculiar to, and with the attributes detected, you can pick the best strategy to defeat this assasin.
I hope this helps you. Kill well, Queen.’
She took a quick scan of the images to see if she would easily pick out the sign but she couldn’t. She began to go through each one carefully, taking about two minutes on each. She got to the last image still without finding the sign she wanted. She repeated the process for a second time and still couldn’t identify any that would make her remember the sign on Rex’s mask that day.
She rested her back and closed her eyes for a brief moment, replaying the fight with Rex in her mind. Like a scary nightmare it was as the torture and pain seemed real and present to her again. She opened her eyes with a gasp and her heartbeat increased. She still couldn’t remember what the sign looked like.
She sat up and scanned through the images again. She still didn’t recognize any one. She then rotated each of them 180° and began to go through each one for a minute each. The fifth picture looked strangely similar in its rotated view. Suddenly, with a sharp ache in her head she recalled the sign on Rex’s mask. It was the face of a tiger. The fifth picture was half of it.
She saved the file on the desktop and continued with the remaining pictures, using more than a minute on each. She started again from the first picture to the last, omitting the fifth this time, she found nothing else. The email stated that there were two images for each clan and she still needed to locate a second image. She began to go through the pictures again after rotating them 90°. She found another picture, it was the second half of the tiger’s face. She saved the file also and proceeded to the word documents.
It took her about five minutes on each document. She got to the fourth one before locating the one she wanted. The second paragraph in the fourth document described the qualities of a tiger and the strengths. Then she remembered something, it wasn’t her first time of facing an assasin from the ‘tiger clan’. She had faced one once with her guide Queen.