‘Cole, it’s time to move,’ Tarasha said into the communication device as she walked down the balcony.
She was dressed in all black, a uniform for the airport’s security officials. She had light makeup on and had a wig covering her short hair. She had seen the Vice President and his escorts coming out of the plane, and was trying to get to the public car park before they got to theirs. She had counted the number of escorts with the Vice President and knew it would be impossible to kidnap the man immediately, the only option left was to trail the man and watch until he was left with very little security officers around him. She was however sure that the man would have in his plans to visit Rex in the location where Chief Nonso had been kept and she knew he would not be able to go with so many security officers to avoid arousing suspicions.
‘Over here boss,’ Cole beckoned to her from afar. He had already driven the car out of the parking space.
Tarasha hurried to join Cole. She could see the car carrying the Vice President and his escorts already moving and she knew they wouldn’t be allowed to drive out until all the presidential cars had driven out.
She joined Cole in the front seat and Cole turned towards the gate immediately. It took the Vice President and his escort’s cars a minute to drive out and Cole had to wait until they did. They noticed a car following closely behind. Both Tarasha and Cole looked briefly into the rear mirror and saw two people seated in the car behind, they looked away without paying much attention and followed in direction of the Vice President’s cars as they got out of the airport land.
‘That guy driving is fast,’ Dave said to Stephanie who was seated by his side in the car. ‘I was thinking that we’d be the ones to follow the Vice President directly.’
‘The person might probably be in a hurry to get to his destination,’ Stephanie replied calmly with an innocent look. She stared at the camera still hung on her neck and wondered why they had come with it without making any use of it.
Dave caught her staring and decided to answer her unvoiced questions. ‘The Vice President made no stop, so there was no need to capture him. I saw a representative of Desert Media House already with one of those taking pictures so there was no need to join again.’
Stephanie shrugged and spread out her arms in a nonchalant manner. She wasn’t in anyway excited about taking the Vice president pictures, the only thing that had made her want to go nearer was Madam Henrietta who she saw with him.
Dave glanced at her face briefly. He noticed she isn’t looking cheerful in anyway and that’s it’s beyond the pictures which they did not take. He had noticed the change in her demeanor right after he allowed her look through the sighting device but he had thought it was her hatred for Vice President that had changed her mood and now he expected it to have faded away.
‘Steph, is there something wrong? You’ve not been the same since you used the telescope device,’ he finally asked.
She looked at his face briefly and made a hum sound as she rested her head against the headrest of the seat. She wondered why she was hiding it from him. It wasn’t because she was so confused about what Madam Henrietta was doing with the Vice President but she was feeling somehow ashamed that her foster mother was associated with someone as terrible as Chief Elvis.
‘Are you not going to talk with me?’ Dave pressed.
She sighed. ‘Didn’t you see any lady standing with Chief Elvis?’
‘A Lady?’ Dave squinted. ‘I think I noticed one but I didn’t give that any attention.’
‘You didn’t look at her face?’
‘No, I didn’t.’
‘It was Madam Henrietta,’ Stephanie gaped out.
Dave frowned a while, trying to assimilate her words. Then he stared at her face and raised a brow. ‘Madam Henrietta? What was she doing there?’
‘I don’t know and I can’t even imagine. I never knew she had any personal contact with the Vice President.’
‘That’s strange,’ Dave said shaking his head with a thoughtful look on his face.
There was silence for a while. They continued to follow in the direction the Vice President went until they got to a flyover. The cars carrying the Vice President and his escorts drove up the flyover while the car directly in front of them continued on the low land.
‘I thought you were going to take the flyover,’ Stephanie stared at Dave’s face. She was wondering why Dave had taken the low road. She was now even more anxious to trail the Vice President than Dave was himself.
‘The Vice President is driving in direction of the Presidential quarters, which could be his destination.’
‘So we don’t need to follow him anymore?’
Yes, we don’t. We’d just meet him from the front,’ Dave replied.
‘I don’t understand what you’re trying to do, this route you’re taking is longer and even if they are driving to the Presidential quarters, they would get there in nothing less than ten minutes before us.’
That’s wrong,’ Dave said with a smile on his lips. ‘That route is truly the quickest to the quarters but by this time of the day, there would be a little bit of traffic jam on the way. I’ll be passing through the streets here and would be on the other side before them.’
‘Well, if you say so.’ She shrugged.
The car in front of them turned into another road and they followed sharply.
‘Boss, this vehicle has been following us from the airport,’ Cole said to Tarasha, looking at the rearview glass.
‘I’ve noticed that and I’m watching closely,’ she replied.
‘Do you think someone is aware of our presence in Lagos?’
‘I don’t think anyone apart from Dave James is aware, except a member of our team has sold us out again.’
‘Can Dave James be aware?’ Cole asked with a doubtful tone.
‘The possibility is one percent, the only way he could be aware was if he knew about our flight this morning but I still don’t want to strike it out.’
‘These guys are following us, I’m sure’ Cole said staring intently at the rearview mirror.
‘We got to find out if they are,’ Tarasha said. She pulled out her gun and put a cartridge into it. She took out a dark eye glasses from her bag and put it on. Then she adjusted the side mirror to enhance visibility of what she wanted to see. ‘Maintain the fast lane, put on the indicator and slow down the speed.’
‘Huh?’ Cole widened his eyes at her. ‘I have to move to the slow lane to indicate before reducing my speed.’
‘No, do it on this lane. I’m the one holding the gun, ‘ she insisted.
Cole tried to reason it out but he couldn’t still understand what she was trying to do. He had no choice than to obey her. He turned on the indicator and reduced his speed. The car metres behind them which maintained it’s own speed turned slowly to the other side and began to level up with them.
Tara held her gun tightly as she looked into the side mirror. She could see the driver now and the girl beside him, there was nothing suspicious about them and there was no sign that they were coming after them.
‘What the f***!’ Dave exclaimed as he saw the indicating lights at the back of the car in front of theirs. ‘What is that driver trying to do?’
‘Where’s he trying to move to?’ Stephanie joined in, also wondering why the car was slowing down.
‘Something may be wrong with the car, he was driving well up until now’ Dave said and slowed down until he was able to overtake a car driving slower at the other lane.
He increased his speed and soon got to the same point as the blue car. His eyes met with the two people in front of the car but lingered more on the lady’s face.
‘I don’t know what they’re trying to do,’ Dave said to Stephanie as they drove past and overtook the blue car. He had a frown on his face as he realized the lady looked like somebody he had met before.
‘That lady looks like someone I’ve seen before,’ Stephanie said in a thoughtful tone.
Dave turned to her sharply. ‘She looks familiar to you too?’
‘I can’t really say if I’ve seen her before, maybe I’m just imagining things,’ she said and shook her head, trying to shake off the thought.
Tarasha’s shoulders dropped and she released her grip from the gun after the car drove past them. She let out a breath and rested her back.
‘Boss, that guy is Dave James,’ Cole said to her in a surprise tone.
‘And the girl is Stephanie George, they’re following the Vice President like we are,’ Tarasha added in a baffled tone, wondering what Stephanie George was doing with Dave.
‘Stephanie George?’Cole echoed. The name didn’t sound familiar in any way to him.
‘Yes, Steph George.’ Tarasha repeated.
‘Boss, does he recognize your real look?’ Cole questioned.
‘No, he doesn’t but he may recognize this exact look, I used this same disguise when I visited the SSS office in Anambra.’
‘So should we continue in the same direction now that we know where he’s going to?’
‘Is there another route to the place?’
‘If we’re to take any other route, it’ll take us a longer time to get there.’
‘Hmm,’ Tarasha paused to think. Cole had moved to the slow lane now and Dave’s car had gone far ahead of theirs.
Tarasha’s phone made a beep sound and she took it out. She had received a message from Chief Gab.
‘Please take back your accusations against the Vice President, that’s the only way to ensure Chief Nonso’s safety.’
The message totally changed the subject of her thoughts. She could have published their blackmail on the blog but didn’t want to cause a situation where Chief Nonso would be killed angrily.
She dialed Chief Gab’s number.
‘Hello, Tarasha,’ the call was answered without delay.
‘Chief Gab, why do you think taking down the allegations would make them release your friend.’
‘That’s the only way Tara. Nonso called me earlier and told me that they already issued a warning to you and if you don’t publicly declare the allegations as wrong in about thirty hours, he would be killed. I’ve also thought about it and I think that it’ll be the best option for us.’
‘We won’t have to wait till thirty hours Chief, Chief Nonso’s fate would be decided before the end of today.’ Tarasha replied.
‘How would you do that? Do you know where they took him to?’
‘Did he tell you where he was taken to?’ Tarasha asked.
‘No, he doesn’t know where he was taken to.’
‘I’ll get back to you tomorrow morning Chief,’ Tarasha said before the call ended.
Cole flashed a look at her face expecting her to give him new instructions, he was sure the plan must have changed.
‘Do you know the road to Igbede?’ she asked.
‘Yes, I do.’ Cole answered and paused to check his wristwatch. ‘We might encounter traffic jam if we decide to go there now, it’ll take us approximately two hours to get there.’
‘Let’s go back to the lodge first, we need Henry with us.’
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Twenty Minutes Later.
‘So what do we do next now that we’ve confirmed that this is their destination?’ Stephanie asked Dave. It was few minutes after they watched the Vice President and his entourage drive into the presidential lodge.
‘We’d go back to the hotel and monitor the rest of his movement through the security cameras,’ Dave replied her almost inaudibly; he had taken a bite from an apple and was munching the fruit in his mouth noisily.
‘Security Cameras? How are we going to do that?’
‘Leave that to me Steph,’ Dave replied, not giving her much attention. His focus was on the apple. ‘Do you realize we haven’t had lunch today?’
‘Yes, I know.’
‘Aren’t you hungry?’ He flashed a funny look at her and placed his gaze on the remaining apples in the nylon place on her lap.
Stephanie sighed. She was hungry but was eager to find out first what Madam Henrietta was doing with the Vice President.
‘If it’s about Madam Henrietta, I would advise you to relax. There’s no way we’re going to find out what she’s doing with the man, we can’t find out today, it’ll take another process, but a simple one.’ Dave said before taking another apple from the nylon. ‘I think you should call and talk to her, greet her warmly and ask where she is.’
Stephanie stretched her hand to the backseat and picked a bag from there. She was about to return the bag when Dave spoke.
‘Can I have my tab please?’ he requested. She took out his tablet device and handed it over to him before returning the bag to the backseat. Dave unlocked the device to use it while Stephanie made the call.
‘Hello mum,’ Stephanie said into the phone.
‘Hi Daughter, how are you?’
‘I’m fine, how about you mum?’
‘I’m fine too.’
‘So… Mum, where are you now?’
‘Erm… Why do you ask?’ Madam Henrietta questioned instead of giving an answer.
‘Well, I just feel like knowing.’
‘Okay, I’m at a friend’s place.’
‘Oh! Which of your friends?’ Stephanie asked again.
‘You don’t know him Steph, maybe I’ll introduce you to him soon.’
‘Okay, I was just wondering, you never told me of any friend you have in Abuja and…he’s even a male.’
‘Do you have any problem with that Steph?’ the woman’s voice sounded cold.
‘No Mum, not at all. I was planning to return to Abuja soon, that’s why I called.’
‘Tomorrow? We may not get to see then because I’m leaving Abuja tomorrow morning.’
‘Wow! What if I start the journey this evening and get there very early tomorrow morning.’
‘There’s no need to do that, I’ll also be leaving very early and we won’t have time to talk.’
‘Okay Mum, say hi to your friend for me.’
The call ended and Stephanie let out a breath, she locked the phone and threw it carefully to the backseat. She then looked at Dave whom she was expecting to have made a comment. Dave was so busy with the tab and he seemed not to be aware of her presence anymore.
‘What are you doing?’ She asked.
It took him sometime before he replied her. He seemed to be lost in deep thoughts and Stephanie wondered what he had seen on the device just few seconds ago that made him thoughtful.
‘There’s a little shift,’ Dave said in a dragging tone. ‘Samantha Osman has arrived already and would try to rescue Chief Nonso this night.’
Stephanie widened her eyes in surprise, ‘I thought you said she would be meeting with you tomorrow morning.’
‘Yes, she said so but she didn’t tell me of her plans to be here tonight. I just saw her message now requesting for me to send her the data I’m using to track the Chief.’
‘Are you going to send it to her?’
‘No, how can I?’
Stephanie stared at him with a look of confusion. ‘I don’t understand, I thought you wanted to help her save Chief Nonso.’
‘Yes, I wanted to save Chief Nonso but you should remember that I am a government official, I shouldn’t be caught giving information to a criminal.’
‘How would you get caught?’
Dave glanced at her with a light smile on his lips and shook his head. ‘There are lots of things that you cannot understand about my job,’ he said and took out a small phone from his pocket. ‘I think it’s time I get the SSS fully involved in this.’
‘Who was that?’ Chief Elvis asked Madam Henrietta who was seated on a sofa in front of him.
‘Stephanie,’ she answered and pulled her gown as she adjusted her seating position. The man was not in the living room when the call came in and he had entered the living room to see her speaking on phone.
‘The poor girl, I hear she leads a group of activists in her school now.’
‘Yes, she does.’
Chief Elvis chuckled, ‘Just like her father, I pray she doesn’t end up like him.’
‘I pray so too,’ Madam Henrietta said. ‘I’ve tried so many times to warn her but she always refuses to listen. I’ve come to see her as my own daughter and I love her so much.’
‘I understand you, after being with her for so many years and bringing her up, you would definitely develop a strong attachment to her.”
She sniffed in cool air and smiled lightly.
‘Well, she’s not the reason you are here.’ Chief Elvis said and adjusted his seating position. ‘There are some documents I’ve been looking for and I don’t know if you have any idea of where they are.’
‘What documents could you need from me?’ She asked with a raised eyebrow.
‘Hey Boss, there’s an important text message here,’ Stainless said as he entered into Rex’s room.
Rex glanced at him with a nonchalant look. Stainless marched towards him with Chief Nonso’s phone in his hands.
‘That Chief tried to reach our hostage some minutes ago via call, but I cut the call and asked him to send a message instead. He sent a message thinking that Chief Nonso was the one with the phone.
Rex looked at Stainless with the side eye and stretched out his hand to take the phone, hoping that the message Stainless was excited about was really worth it.
‘Tarasha is coming soon, I think she knows your location and she would make you free by tonight.’
‘That Chief Gabriel sent this message?’ Rex asked, flashing a look at Stainless.
‘Yes, he did.’
Rex returned the phone to Stainless. ‘The other Chief is not in Nigeria, the only way Samantha could have gotten his location is by tracking that phone in your hand.’
Stainless remained mute.
‘You leave it with me here and move the man to the other facility we have in this town. I’ll wait for Samantha here, I already have enough weapons set up for her destruction.’
Stainless bowed and smiled evilly. He dropped the phone on the table in front of Rex and proceeded out of the room.
‘Hello, Vice President. You need to postpone your visit, I’m expecting another visitor.’
‘Who are you expecting?’ the Vice President replied in low tones from the other end.
‘Samantha Osman, it seems she found our location and she’s coming to us.’
‘Please don’t let her slip away this time,’ Chief Elvis pleaded.
‘She’d be dead the moment she gets into this building.’ Rex replied.
Cole is seated at the front seat with Henry who is driving the car. Tarasha is seated at the backseat and is busy with her tablet device.
‘Tara, I’m not still sure if we’re doing the right thing really.’ Henry said, looking at her face through the rearview mirror.
‘What’s making you doubt it?’ She asked and looked at his face briefly.
‘We don’t know how many guys we’re going to face where we are headed for,’ Henry said.
‘We’re not heading towards a barracks, we’d be able to take down all of them because we would catch them unawares.’
‘Unawares?’ Henry seemed a bit surprised. ‘How sure are you that we’re going to catch them unawares? That journalist who you sent the message, what if he works with the enemy and has told them of our coming.’
‘He doesn’t working with them, we caught him tailing the Vice President today, just like we were.’
‘Well, I don’t still trust him.’
‘If you don’t trust him, trust me.’ Tarasha replied and with that Henry gave in. She spoke again after some minutes of silence. ‘Make sure that you have your communication device on always, you should put on your earphone and mouthpiece before we step out of the car.’
‘Yes boss, I remember all the instructions,’ Henry replied.
‘How many minutes more do we have to get there Cole?’
Cole quickly checked the time on his phone. ‘Forty minutes more.’
‘It’s time to take a survey around the place,’ Tarasha said as she plugged an earpiece to her ear and clipped a mouthpiece beside a button on her shirt close to her mouth, Cole was also doing the same.
‘Okay, be careful,’ Henry replied, now putting on his communication pieces too.
He watched them step out of the car with his eyes full of fear. The weather was cold, but he felt hot. He felt like something terrible was about to happen.