Dr Ekwueme and Tomi watched keenly as Tarasha, Cole and Henry walked into the house tiredly. Tomi stared at the door keenly as the last of the latter group closed the door behind, wondering where the sixth person Tarasha had asked her to cook for was.
‘I’m hungry,’ Henry was the first to complain as he sank heavily into the sofa.
‘I’ve prepared food for everyone, I made for six.’ Tomi replied aloud, wanting Tarasha to hear her and hoping one of them would talk about the person they were supposed to kidnap but Tarasha walked straight to her room with her shoes after taking them off.
‘How was it?’ Dr Ekwueme asked Henry impatiently after Tarasha had walked out of sight, Cole had also followed her. Dr Ekwueme had been waiting for their arrival since they left. He had felt some excitement that morning after Tarasha explained the role he was supposed to play when they return with the Vice President. He was watching the television with Tomi when they heard of their arrival and had quickly lowered the volume in anticipation of their entrance into the house with the kidnapped Vice President.
Henry tried to sit up as he searched in his mind for simple words to summarize their ordeal to the doctor but he didn’t need to talk much when his gaze fell on the TV screen, the evening news was being broadcasted. ‘There, that explains why we came back with no one.’ Henry said, nodding towards the TV.
‘VICE PRESIDENT COLLAPSES DURING NEW GENERAL HOSPITAL OPENING,’ the headline of the news read.
Dr Ekwueme increased the TV volume and they all listened to the newscaster as she read out the details of the news.
‘Wow! That must have really disrupted the plans,’ Dr Ekwueme exclaimed, he and Tomi looking at Henry’s face and expecting more explanation
Henry shook his head in fatigue and sighed. ‘Please, can I get my meal now?’ He glared at Tomi.
‘Oh! Of course yes,’ Tomi smiled and hurried off to serve his food.
Cole squeezed his lips and covered his nostrils with the top lip to escape the stench from his socks as he took them off. He had been left with no choice other than to wear the smelly security guard’s shoes which were too tight for his feet for more than three hours.
He flung the pair of socks towards the wardrobe area and stood up from the edge of the bed to stretch his body and his feet. He was about sitting back when he heard the drowned sound of the ringing tone of one of his phones. As he proceeded towards the drawer where the sound was coming from, he realized that it was the phone he reserved for communicating with Patricia and he knew there could be no other caller except her. He opened the drawer and took out the phone. Her voice rang out with a sad melody as he answered the call.
‘Aww love, what have I done to you?’
‘What have you done to me?’ He repeated the question to himself with a frown appearing on his face.
‘Yes, what did I do to you? You refused to answer my calls since morning,’ Patricia replied from the other end.
‘No dear, it’s not as you think. I’ve been very busy and I’ve been without my phone. I just got into the house and haven’t even seen my phone until now.’
‘Oh! I thought you weren’t answering because you were angry with me.’
‘Come on, why should I be angry with you? I’ve just been so busy.’
‘I’ve missed you so much,’ she said in a touching voice.
‘I missed you too, more than you can imagine.’ Cole replied with a soft voice, smiling to himself. He turned and faced the other side, resting his bum on the top of the table.
‘When are we seeing again?’
‘Very soon, as soon as I return to Abuja.’
‘When are you returning?’
‘I’m not sure for now, but I’ll update you as time goes.’ He replied. Another phone which was on the pillow in the bed began to ring.
Patricia drew a deep sigh and remained in silence for a while.
‘It’s okay,’ she said, her voice sounding very low. ‘I’ll have to wait till you return.’
‘I promise it’ll be as soon as I can dear,’ Cole said as he proceeded to the bed. He was now in a hurry to end the call, the new call was from Tarasha. ‘I’ll call you later tonight.’
‘Okay, I’ll be expecting your call dear. Don’t…’
‘Later dear,’ Cole said and ended the call hurriedly without waiting to hear what she wanted to say next. He didn’t want the incoming call from Tarasha to end before he could answer it.
‘Boss,’ he said into the phone as he answered.
‘Come to my room,’ Tarasha’s voice sounded in an urgent tone and the line went dead immediately.
Two Minutes Later
‘Did you see Agent Dave James before we left the place?’ Tarasha asked Cole. She was sitting on a chair behind a table with a laptop in front of her but staring thinly and thoughtfully at the wall. Cole stood behind her, he had put on a black sleeveless top and football shorts before coming there.
‘No, I didn’t. He was seated with some other guests the last time I saw him .’
‘So, we can’t tell if he did anything there.’
‘I didn’t see him do anything,’ Cole replied.
There was total silence for about a minute before Tarasha spoke again, ‘The Nanl Gang had its headquarters previously located in Lagos right?’
‘Yes, we were based in Lagos. Don Daniel operated from here with his major men but had some other agents in other states,’ Cole replied with a raised eyebrow, wondering why Tarasha was asking a question about the Nanl gang.
‘He had agents in all thirty six states?’ Tarasha asked.
‘Not in all, but in every major city in the country. In some, we had other related assassin gangs we work with, like that of Stainless that was in Abuja.’
‘These agents and other assassins you work with, how good were they?’
‘Not one of them was as good as Don Daniel, several of them were trained by him from the scratch or went through some form of training connected to him.’
‘Do you know if these agents also work for or with Stainless?’
‘No, they don’t. Stainless always saw Don Daniel as a threat and did not like to work with anyone who worked with Don.’ Cole replied. The frown on his face thickened and he became more eager to know the reason for her questions.
Tarasha remained quiet for a while. She tapped the laptop screen gently with a finger and it came on, she scrolled up and clicked on the desktop icon, then she opened the NSCC app. The video player was on and she had an ongoing video paused. She zoomed the picture and rested her back, she stared at the picture for a minute and began to ruminate on some thoughts.
Cole stared intently at the screen silently from behind. It was the security cameras footage of the hospital area that day during the opening ceremony. The particular scene she was at showed several security officers standing at specific places on the events ground, Cole could also locate himself. He counted and the security officers there numbered more than ten.
‘Rex is a high skilled assassin, he’s from the Tiger Clan.’ Tarasha suddenly began to talk again as she sprang up from her seat. She walked straight to the window side and Cole wondered if she was thinking aloud to herself or if she was talking to him. ‘He’s had so many advantages over us,’ she continued after opening the window blinds. She turned towards Cole and rested her palms behind her on the window apron. ‘We have to spend a lot of money to match up with him; else he’d always be ahead of us.’
She suddenly turned again and closed the window blinds, and then she returned to where she was seated previously. ‘Look here,’ she flashed a look at Cole as she zoomed out the video scene with her fingers. Cole quickly stepped forward, now realizing she was talking to him.
She was about to continue with her explanation when the door flung open and distracted both of them, Henry had come in. He stood at the door way and fanned himself with the shirt he took off while staring at both of them as they stared back at him like they saw a ghost. He was sweating profusely because of the hot meal he had just taken.
Tarasha turned back to the laptop but rested her back instead. She let out a sigh as Henry closed the door and proceeded towards them.
‘One major thing that’s weakening our team is the presence of emotions, ‘ she said to Cole in a sad tone before Henry got to them.
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‘What are you guys up to?’ Henry asked.
‘Join us,’ Tarasha replied sharply and leaned forward again. ‘Rex works for the Vice President, therefore everyone working for the Vice President works with him, it doesn’t matter if they are aware or not. So we can say that all these security officers standing here works to the advantage of Rex,’ she said as she zoomed in the screen again. ‘This can be neglected when our enemies aren’t from a specialist clan like the Villary or when they’re ordinary security officers but it is an advantage for Rex, and it is enough to keep him ahead of us, that’s why we can’t ignore. We need to level up with him.’
She stopped talking and zoomed out the video, she used her finger to drag the duration pointer on the video player twenty minutes farther. She stopped and zoomed in again, it showed outside the hospital and the road leading there.
She took a quick glance at the faces of her listeners and she met Henry with a confused look staring at Cole who didn’t also look like he understood the last thing she said.
‘Boss, what do you mean by level up?’ Cole asked to clear his doubt.
Tarasha turned back and zoomed in the video, swiping slowly in different directions to show them the different points the security officers were located on the streets.
‘All these security officers work to protect the Vice President and that complements Rex’s work,’ she continued to explain. ‘We only went into the events venue as two men, Henry who is the third person was our backup. For us to have carried out the operation successfully if we wanted to kidnap Elvis Richards there, we would have had to deal with the security men in the venue and deal with those outside when trying to escape. This wouldn’t have been a problem except for Rex’s presence. He would have determined a way to defeat us while we were working on the security officers.’
‘Hmm…’ Cole made a humming sound, now making sense out of her explanation.
‘Now, we need to take care of the security officers and other defense options of the Vice President and Inspector General in another way while we face Rex and his team directly or we take care of Rex and face the other defense options squarely.’
‘I understand better boss, but how do we do this?’ Cole asked.
Tarasha got up and turned her seat around, she sat and faced Cole directly. ‘How many assassin agents can you reach in twenty four hours?’
Cole’s eyes wandered about the ceiling for a moment as he quickly searched through his mind.
‘I need you to reach at least five of them in the next twenty four hours and give them twenty four hours to report to a location here in Lagos. We’re going to work with them as substitutes and backups,’ she said without waiting to give him an answer and turned her chair back afterwards.
She minimized the NSCC application and opened the electronic mail app. She located the last message from Rex and clicked on reply.
She stopped for a second and turned to Cole. ‘When are you getting to work?’ she asked in a sharp tone, wondering why he was still standing behind her motionlessly.
‘Right away boss, I’ll just go take my food first.’ Cole said and quickly turned back. He flashed a look at Henry before proceeding towards the door.
‘Won’t you eat before you continue working?’ Henry asked Tara, a minute after Cole had gone out. He moved closer and stared at her activity on the screen, she was typing a message.
‘I will do that after sending this message,’ she replied and continued to type.
Henry carefully followed line by line as she typed.
‘You don’t need to kill Chief Nonso, I have a better deal for Elvis Richards. I need to meet him physically and have a chat with him. I understand he collapsed today and may not be able to attend to me right away but I’ll give him some few days to be fit enough and call for the meeting. All you have to do is make sure Chief Nonso is kept safe and sound.’
She proofread the message once before clicking on send.
‘What? Tara, you think they would agree for you to meet Chief Elvis Richards?’ Henry asked with his eyes widened in surprise.
‘I don’t think so, but I know that this message would buy us more time.’ She replied
‘Are you really sure about this?’ Henry asked with a doubtful tone.
She gave him no answer even as he stared at her curiously. She shut down her laptop and closed it up.
‘I have to do some work before we meet with Rex and the Vice president again,’ she said as she turned her seat.
‘What other work are you talking about?’ Henry asked.
Tarasha stared at his face for a while. She then closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. ‘I need to know if my mum is still alive and find her location if possible.’
‘I don’t think they’re planning to leave Lagos soon,’ Dave read the chat message from Lizzy.
‘I believe they’ll remain here as far as the Vice President still remains here,’ Dave typed and sent in reply.
‘I’ll keep in touch with him and notify you anytime he’s in a traceable location,’ another message from Lizzy entered.
‘Thanks Liz, I appreciate your efforts.’
Dave finally closed the chat application. He stretched and yawned before lying in the bed. Just as he finished positioning his head on the pillow and pulling on the blanket, his mind got filled with thoughts of Stephanie. He heaved a deep sigh and reached for his phone again. He opened up the contact application and scrolled to her number.
Stephanie lay in the bed sleeplessly. She couldn’t still get her mind off the fact that all the proofs she had against the Vice President had been turned to ashes. She was never going to forgive Madam Henrietta if the Vice President went unpunished.
As she turned and twitched restlessly around the bed, her elbow touched her phone where she had dropped it. She picked it up and unlocked it. She stared at the screen for a while, not knowing what to do with it but later opened her WhatsApp messenger to check the messages. She scrolled through the list of chats and found none that caught her interest. She minimized the app and opened the Facebook mobile application, she began to scroll through the news feed slowly. As she did, she came across the friends suggestions and found a Facebook user named David James.
A strange calmness overwhelmed her and the phone dropped from her hand as she remembered Dave and the little time she spent with him. She knew he would have been the right person to talk to in her situation, but what could she do if Dave could not be trusted? It was better to wait until she finds someone else who can help her than to work with someone that she couldn’t trust.
The phone began to ring at that same moment and she turned to look at it. Surprisingly to her, Dave was the caller. She stared at the screen without making any move to answer the call. The same person she was wishing she could speak to some seconds ago was now calling but she was too angry with him to answer the call.
The phone stopped ringing and began to ring for a second time, she still did not answer.
‘Boss, we have a new message.’
Rex could hear Stainless voice from behind the door. He was seated in a dark room and was smoking heavily. He had not been able to think straight since he escaped from the venue of the event.
‘Who sent the message?’ He asked with his thickened voice.
‘It’s from Samantha, it was sent about two hours ago.’ Stainless replied.
Rex turned his phone on and flashed a quick look at the time. He let out a deep breath. He was surprised that he had been in that room for more than two hours. He quickly got up and hurried towards the door.
In few minutes, he was seated behind his laptop in another room after washing himself. Samantha’s new message came as a surprise to him and he wondered why she wanted to have a meeting with the Vice President and what her plan was. He pondered on the whole situation for a couple of minutes and was unable to draw out any reasonable purpose for her wanting the physical meeting. It then occurred to him that it was possible she only wanted to delay the threat he made against Chief Nonso.
There was no way he was going to kill Chief Nonso even if she didn’t try to delay. If making the threat hadn’t compelled her to do their wish, then carrying out the threat would not make things better, it could only make her more stubborn
He pondered for some more minutes before making a conclusion. He knew she would be expecting a negative reply from him so he decided to send her a positive one, so she wouldn’t have excuses to make more delays. If she really needed the meeting, he would fix one with the Vice President for her.