‘NTV reporters are on their way,’ Tarasha heard Henry’s voice from the earpiece plugged in.
‘What position on the road are they now?’ She replied through the mouthpiece.
‘Coming from the left hand side,’ Henry replied. ‘In a car decorated with the NTV logo.’
‘Are you following them?’
‘Yes, I’m right behind them.’
‘Would you stop them or do I have to come?’ Tarasha asked.
‘Tara, I’m scared. You asked me to shoot two of their vehicle tyres and there’s no way I’m going to do it without causing an accident.’
‘F*** you Henry, I thought we talked this over,’ Tarasha replied angrily. ‘Fire at the damn tyres and stop them from getting here.’
Henry’s deep sigh could be heard from the other end. ‘Okay, I’ll do it, I hope I do it well.’
‘Do it well, else, we’d all be in trouble,’ Tarasha warned. ‘Make sure you leave the scene immediately and change the car where the extra one is parked.’
‘Steph! What’s the matter with you?’ Madam Henrietta asked, afraid and alarmed at sound of the scream.
‘Mum!’ Stephanie screamed again, panting heavily and her eyes widening in anger. ‘Why did you burn the documents?’
‘I did it for your good, we don’t need them anymore, keeping them with us will only give room for bad memories to remain.’
‘Mum, I needed those documents and I still need them.’ Stephanie shouted.
‘Mum,’ Stephanie called almost breathlessly, now trying to control her anger.
Madam Henrietta stared at her, confused. She had never seen her angry at someone like that before let alone herself.
Stephanie kept a narrow gaze at the woman’s face as she tried to control her breath. Now, she was so sure that Madam Henrietta was working with Chief Elvis Richards and must have been the one seen at the airport the day before. The only mystery she was yet to understand was how the woman got to Abuja back before her the next morning.
‘Mum, you knew that those documents contain the proof of my father’s innocence and exposes the secrets of the Vice President but you chose to destroy them because they asked you to.’
‘What are you talking about Steph?’ Madam Henrietta asked, squinting at Stephanie’s face.
‘You know what I’m talking about Mum, don’t pretend.’
Madam Henrietta could see tears in Stephanie’s eyes as the girl spoke, she knew the girl was sure of what she was talking about. She was now also sure that she was seen with the Vice President in Lagos.
‘Steph, look at me. What are you doing with the documents? What you told me you needed were the pictures. It just happened that the pictures were in the files where the documents were…’
‘But you burnt up everything, both the pictures and the documents. Why didn’t you leave the pictures out of the fire?’
‘I told you before Steph, you do not need them. They will only cause troubles for you,’ Madam Henrietta shouted at her. She was already getting angry but was trying her best to put herself together. She closed her eyes and let out a breath, and then she continued to talk in a calm voice. ‘You don’t realize what trouble I’ve gotten you out of by burning those things.’
Stephanie could no longer speak again. Her eyes were full of tears and heart full of pain. She turned and proceeded back into the house, sobbing.
Madam Henrietta watched her go. She wondered why the girl was crying about the documents, she had never considered them as important because the lawyer that handed them over to her had told her that she could do away with them. She had checked the documents several times but had never been able to see how it incriminated the Vice President, so she wondered why Stephanie was claiming that the documents exposed the Vice President. It was unknown to her that Stephanie had gotten extra documents with the help of Dave.
Stephanie fell down flat into the bed with all her hopes of making the Vice President face justice finally gone. Madam Henrietta had burnt them with the papers. The only person who could now make the Vice President pay for his sins was Samantha Osman. But she also had troubles, Chief Nonso’s kidnap was being used to hold her back.
Stephanie’s phone which was placed on the footstool in the room began to ring. She didn’t bother to get it, she knew it was her lawyer whom she had promised to visit with the documents that morning.
The phone stopped ringing after thirty seconds and started again almost immediately. She managed to get to her feet and reach for the phone.
‘Good morning sir,’ she greeted.
‘Good morning Miss Stephanie,’ the lawyer replied in a cool voice. ‘It’s past ten already, I’m still waiting for you in my office.’
‘I’m sorry Barrister, I won’t be able to make it today anymore. Something happened here at home,’ Stephanie apologized.
‘Oh! I hope it’s not something bad. Your voice sounds shaky, hope you’re fine.’
‘Yes, I am. It’s just something little that’ll pass away soon.’ she answered, wishing she was saying the truth.
‘Okay, Please take care of yourself ma’am.’
The event had begun. Cole stood at his rightful position under the tent adjacent to the one under which the Vice President was sitting. The officer who had previously occupied his position had been tied up and put in the boot of a car.
He stood alert like he saw the other security officers do and listened to everything being said by speakers of the event.
Thirty minutes later, his eyes located two people with media houses tags among the other journalists and photographers. The first person he identified there was Tarasha. A wig was covering her low cut hair and her face was faintly made up. The plans she had recited to him that morning began to play back in his mind. Her own job in the events centre was to get close to the Chief Security officer of the Vice President and attach something to his cloth while Cole’s job was to stand among the security officers and go back in one of the escorts cars which followed the Vice President to the place.
The second person he saw was Agent Dave James who was expected, also standing among the cameramen. Cole wondered for a bit why they all had to choose disguising as news media cameramen.
His fingers reached for the switch of the communication device and he connected to Tarasha.
‘Hello Boss, I just saw something.’ He said into the mouthpiece attached to the collar of his shirt.
It took sometime before Tarasha replied. She had to step back a little from the other journalists not to attract suspicions while talking.
‘What did you see?’
‘Agent Dave James is right there with you guys,’ Cole replied.
‘Huh?’ Tarasha replied. She had not noticed Dave James yet, she had been focused on covering every part of the event to make her appear hardworking like the other cameramen there.
‘Yes, I saw him now. He’s on a little disguise, an attached beard to his jaw and a moustache.’
‘Representing Desert Reporters right?’
‘Yes, Desert Reporters.’
‘Okay, I want you to put an eye on him and report every of his movement to me.’
Tarasha joined the other cameramen after the conversation. There were not too many of them, only seven media houses were invited and represented. Tarasha had made sure Henry give a report of his job before going into the events ground. Henry had shot at the tyres of the car and it resulted to a fatal accident which he didn’t wait to see.
She noticed Dave James immediately she joined the men again. He was just as Cole described his appearance. She began to monitor his every movement to see what he was up to.
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Rex watched the event in silence from the corner where he sat under the fourth tent. Dressed as a medical student of Rael University and holding one of the invitation letters, he had been at that corner fifteen minutes before the program started and had been watching since then but had not seen any sign of Tarasha. He was however sure that she was there or was going to join sooner.
The time finally came for the Vice President to speak and lead the doctors to the ceremonial opening of the hospital. The different cameramen lined up at the provided position, covering every part of the Vice President’s speech.
The man finished with his speech and led the team of doctors and dignitaries to the main entrance of the hospital where a decorated ribbon line was used to block the entrance.
Five of the cameramen positioned themselves well beside the dignitaries in order not to miss any part of the ceremony. The security officials were not left out also, Cole was one of them. They left their positions to guard the dignitaries and the Vice President.
‘Boss,’ Tarasha heard the Cole’s voice from her earpiece.
‘Speak on,’ she mumbled carefully.
‘Dave James has left you guys, I think he’s looking for something else.’
‘Okay, have you found what he is looking for?’ she asked. She had also noticed that Dave James had stopped moving with the other camera men but decided to focus on her own assignment of attaching the piece to the Chief Security officer’s body. She had positioned herself where she was sure the officer would pass when it was time to follow the Vice President down the hospital.
‘I don’t know precisely, he’s just looking around. I think he’s expecting us to be around.’
‘Put an eye on him.’
Rex was up, standing with the other medical students and watching from behind where they were allowed to watch from. Like a monitoring camera, his eyes covered every single movement that happened close to the Vice President.
Loud cheers erupted from the people as the Vice President cut the ribbon into two halves with the use of the scissors. After a minute of some other formalities, they proceeded in for a tour of the place. It was then Rex noticed a female camera woman press her body against the Chief Security Officer of the Vice President and stepped back. He noticed that her lips began to move slowly after she stepped back. He stared more intently and noticed the earpiece in her ear. He immediately knew it was Samantha Osman and that she was talking to someone with a communication device. He took out his phone and unlocked it hurriedly.
‘Something has been planted on your CSO’s body,’ he typed as a text message and sent it to Chief Elvis. He didn’t expect getting results from the text message because he knew it was likely that the message would get only read after the event and if there was luck, an assistant of the Vice President would read the message and get to warn the CSO. However, he knew it was his best time to get Samantha Osman. He stepped away from the other medical students. He needed to change his clothes quickly.
Police Agent, James sat there watching the event with very little interest. He was there only to see his father. Since the man had banned him temporarily from coming to his house, he had not been chanced to talk to the man or even ask about his health. He felt very bored with the whole activities but he was patient, he had decided that it was time to reconcile with his father and find a way to solve the challenges in a legal way.
Elvis Richards legs felt heavier with every step he took but he still tried to look as cheerful as possible. His body and eyes were hot but he still felt some kind of cold in his body. Even as the doctors who led the exhibition explained and showed items to the listeners, Elvis Richards heard none of their words, the only thing he was concerned about was the end of the exhibition so that he could return home and have a good rest.
He began to feel very weak as they approached the pediatric center. His knees and fingers were trembling and his vision blurry.
‘Are you okay sir?’ he heard his assistant’s voice behind him.
‘Arrggh! I think I need a break, I…’ he wasn’t able to complete the statement as his knees buckled at that moment and he collapsed. He would have landed on the floor but for those around him and his assistant who was alert.
‘Are you okay sir?’ one of the doctors asked after they made him sit on a chair.
There was no answer from the man, he had his eyes closed as he managed to breathe.
‘Stay clear guys,’ the doctor said to the crowd gathering around, directing them with his hands to create space for fresh air to get to the man.
‘What’s wrong with him?’ another doctor asked as he joined the other in the squatting position.
‘He’s been down for some time with severe malaria,’ the Vice President’s assistant answered them.
‘I think we need to pause the exhibition for a while,’ one of the doctors said. ‘Let everyone excuse us for some time.’
The security officers ordered everyone including the cameramen and few medical students with them to leave the place.
‘What’s wrong boss?’ Cole said into the mouthpiece on seeing Tarasha and the other camera guys approaching the entrance of the hospital from inside. He was standing at the entrance with some other security officers.
‘I don’t understand for now, the Vice President seems to be a little weak, the exhibition has been paused.’ Tarasha replied him as she walked out of the place. Even though he was behind her as she walked past him, she didn’t give him a look or act like she had seen him.
‘Please I need to go in, I want to see my father,’ Agent James said to the security officials standing at the entrance of the hospital. It had been fifteen minutes after he had seen the other guests come out of the facility talking about how the Vice President collapsed.
The security officials spoke amongst themselves for a while before letting him in.
Agent James walked in hurriedly and soon located the ward which his father was carried into. He met two of his father’s security officers and the Chief outside the ward, only the P.A was inside with the doctors.
‘What’s happening with my father?’ He asked as he proceeded to the bed.
‘Agent James,’ his father’s P.A saluted, extending his hand for a handshake.
‘Hello sir!’ James replied and took the handshake warmly.
‘I thought they said he was getting better already.’
‘Yes, he was. He only started complaining again recently,’ the P.A replied.
James stood beside the bed quietly. He realized his father was conscious and had been listening to him talk. An Intravenous fluid bag was hung on a stand and the fluid was being rushed into his body.
‘Please excuse me sir,’ one of the doctors who just entered said to James to give him way.
James stepped back and stood beside the P.A. ‘I hope he’s not been going through a lot of stress recently.’
‘I don’t think so, it’s just been like normal work routine.’ The P.A replied.
‘Well, I think he needs a vacation. One needs to take a break from normal routine sometimes.’
‘Agent James Elvis,’ one of the doctors interrupted. Both of them turned to face the doctor.
‘Yes sir,’ James replied.
‘We need to run some tests on your father.’
‘That shouldn’t be a problem sir, as far as he gets better.’ James replied, feeling awkward a bit. He didn’t remember the last time he had a say over what concerned his father.
There was a long silence in the ward. James and the P.A kept their gaze on the Vice President’s face keenly. None of them ever thought the man would be the first patient in the hospital he had come to open officially.
Thirty minutes had gone and Rex was still watching Samantha Osman from the same position. He knew that the man’s sudden illness was what must have caused her inactiveness. He also couldn’t take any action because he didn’t want to cause a scene on the event ground. He just sat patiently, waiting for the right time – a time where Samantha would leave the ground to a secluded place around or decide to leave the place totally.
He had also noticed Agent Dave around the place but hadn’t seen him doing anything significant. He however kept his focus on Samantha Osman.
‘Tara, time is far spent, what is happening?’ Tarasha heard Henry’s voice through the earpiece. She got up from where she sat under the tent and walked to the back to reply.
‘Something happened here, the Vice President is down with a kind of illness.’
‘Oh! So what’s going to happen?’
‘I finished my task already, there may just be a little change in Cole’s part.’
‘So what do we do?’
‘We’d have to wait till the Vice President is ready to go,’ she replied.
‘Oh!’ Henry let out a sigh.
The sadness in Stephanie’s heart returned as her eyes opened. She sat up sluggishly and picked her phone. She opened the contact lists and began to scroll through. She felt in her heart the need to call someone and explain her plight to, but she couldn’t find anyone to call. She let out a deep sigh. It was one of those moments again when she felt like she still had contact with Samantha Osman. The other person who would be right to listen to her was Dave, but she had discovered that Dave was not trustworthy and had made up her mind not to involve him in her affairs anymore.
She dropped her phone back in frustration and ran her fingers into her hair. She got up slowly and walked to the window, and then she remembered someone else she could talk to, her mum. Her mum! Her eyes widened at the thought of it. Her mum would have the right words to tell her at that moment.
The excitement disappeared again after she realized that her mum could only comfort her but would not have the solution to her problem. The only option left was still Dave. She picked up the phone again and scrolled to his number.
EVENTS GROUND, LAGOS
Tarasha continued pacing around slowly after she had answered the call. She tried to see if the previous strategy could still work. She had attached an electrocuting piece to the belt of the Chief Security Officer of the Vice President. The piece would be activated when the Vice President would be going back to his house and electric shock would surge through the security officer’s body, causing a distraction in the vehicle. This would force them to stop the car for a while, meaning the Vice President would have to be delayed since he and his Chief Security Officer would be in the same car. Then if Cole had success in gaining entrance into one of the escorts’ cars, he would take care of the other three men in his car while Tarasha would attack from behind and take care of the men in the third car, leaving only the Vice President’s driver with him.
She was still thinking when she heard a strange voice sound behind her. She paused to listen carefully and heard the words correctly.
‘Samantha Osman,’ the male voice called again.
She felt a strange kind of fear and felt frozen to the ground that she couldn’t turn back. The man walked closer and stood beside her. He was dressed on black all through, he also had a black face cap and a dark shades on. She knew the man wasn’t Dave James and he was no ordinary man, the only person it could be was Rex.
She realized that she had run into error. She hadn’t made plans for his coming; she had been too distracted with the news of her mother that it took her time and ability to think, she knew there was some trouble for her and the team, Rex must have planned for her.