The General paced the huge sitting area in the mansion. He was furious. His face contorted with rage. He looked at Sophia for the umpteenth time.
“How the hell was he uncovered?” The General asked.
Sophia was surprisingly calm. She sat on the single sofa and crossed her legs, with a glass of champagne in her left hand. She had gotten used to the General now. He had stayed with her for days now and the enigma which she saw him as had gradually worn off. She had huge respect for him. She still saw him as a father figure. Even though she no longer cowered or trembled at his every bark.
She sipped the alcohol slowly and dropped the glass back on the table beside her.
“It was The Colonel.” Sophia replied after a few minutes looking straight into the General’s eyes.
“Giwa Haruna?” The General asked surprised and continued
“I thought Ambrose’s cover was 100 per cent fail safe. I need a damn explanation!” The General screamed hitting the glass center table with his right fist.
The table broke in pieces with some pieces of glass lodging in between the General’s knuckles. He showed no sign of hurt or pain. He stood straight and carefully picked out the tiny shreds of glass that his knuckles had embraced.
“Tell me how it happened” He said, taking out the last two visible shreds of glass.
Sophia was unmoved by his sudden burst of anger. She knew he was losing it. She had only seen him this uncontrollable once, when he was denied autonomy over the South West Region of the African Conglomerate of Undercover Operations. Sophia was able to calm him and help him re-strategise. He later went on to win the appeal and was the head of the Conglomerate till date. That was seven years ago.
She was not ready for all that at the moment. She had her own demons to take care of, which included finding Eva and Sean.
“The Colonel left clues. He wanted us to know he did it. He was able to crack the server codes and bypass the rigid firewalls. He had help from a certain Frankenstein. Bee Hive is finding a hard time tracking Frank. The Colonel has not made any demands yet but I am sure he will soon.” Sophia said.
“I should have killed him when I had the chance!” The General retorted.
“It is not your style. You bit the tiger’s tail when you smoked Ahmed. You know how much he cared for the detective. I wonder how you got desperate and lost control of the calm and demeanour that made you the most feared person in all quarters.” Sophia replied.
She had long dropped addressing him as sir. They had returned to the way they were years ago when she lived under his roof. He preferred it that way.
“I needed to stamp my authority! Killing Ahmed was the only way to send that message S. Don’t you see?” The General replied, sitting on a chair opposite his ward.
Sophia felt sorry for him. His hand was bleeding slowly.
“You need to take care of that.” Sophia said.
“I’ll be fine. What else do I need to know?” The General asked
“Bee Hive deployed a smoke screen and they now have the co-ordinates of The Colonel’s location. We are looking at a very wide area and it will take about fifteen agents to flush him out. It’s too risky and a long shot. I would not advice it. Besides, something tells me he would be expecting a barrage of agents. He has most probably set up bosom traps and little diversions.” Sophia advised.
“What’s our best course of action?” The General asked. He took out a handkerchief from his shirt pocket and bandaged his bloody knuckles.
“Wait him out. If we rush, we would be playing directly into his hands. He is on his turf. We need to draw him into our terrain. We need to look unconcerned. Act nonchalant. But we would be vigilant. He is currently out for blood. He wants to avenge Ahmed as soon as he can. And he knows he has an advantage. When he sees that we are not acting, he may feel that we did not get his message. He would want to strike again. This time, a little deeper and harder. And he can’t do that in hiding or on his turf. He has to come out. And then, we’ll have him.” Sophia said.
The General pretended to think for a while. Sophia’s intelligence had always astounded him. He had initially been thinking about storming the co-ordinates Bee Hive had given and take out The Colonel with brute force. He had done that before. Three years back, he had stormed the Gulf Coast south of the Bakassi when he got intel that Drago was hiding there. Drago had cloned Bee Hive and was negotiating with the British to sell the information. The General had been searching for Drago for months and when he had finally gotten his location, he stormed the hideout and took down Drago, assault style.
He was thinking of taking similar action against The Colonel but he had doubts. The Colonel was very smart. He had taught The Colonel many of the things he now knew and could use them against him. The Colonel could predict his moves. He had to do something he would not normally do under the circumstances. Sophia had given him the perfect alternative.
“Where are we with Bee Hive?” The General asked.
“All data files have been rewritten and coded with Radeon encryption. All agents’ history have been wiped and replaced with forged identities. All missions have been changed. Our database is safe. If The Colonel were to present his hacked evidence anywhere, he would be running a wild goose chase.” Sophia replied.
“Hmmmm…” The General snorted.
There was a moment of silence between the two veterans.
After a few minutes, the door to sitting room opened. Austin came in, supporting Ambrose on his shoulder. Ambrose was holding his stomach. His once white starched shirt was now stained blood red. Sophia got up instinctively and helped put Ambrose on the long couch. The General just sat on his chair looking. He showed no sign of emotion, care or feeling. He just stared coldly at the events unfolding in front of him.
“How is he doing?” Sophia asked Bruno, putting two fingers on his neck to feel his pulse. She got a weak pulse.
“He’s lost a lot of blood. I tracked his distress call to a toilet in a mall in the outskirts of Lokoja. I could not take him to a hospital. It’s a miracle he is still alive.” Austin replied.
Just then Ambrose groaned. He opened his mouth but no words came out. The General got up and walked to where Ambrose lay.
“Lieutenant, how are you feeling? What really happened?” The General asked.
“He needs to rest sir. I think he’ll come around. Can I have some time alone with him sir?” Sophia said, looking at the General and then Austin. The General folded his arms while his right arm came up to his jaw. He scratched his hairless jaw for a few seconds as if in deep thought. He needed to know what exactly happened. He needed to be there when Ambrose came to. However he needed him alive. He put his hands in his pant pockets. He felt the tiny but powerful voice transmitter in the depths of his right pocket.
“Okay. I will be in the Visitor’s lounge. I demand that he be made available to me immediately he comes to. And that is an order.” The General said, walking towards the door.
“Roger that sir.” Sophia replied.
Austin also got up from the arm of the four-seat long cushion settee. He looked at Ambrose, shook his head and went after The General who was already ahead of him heading towards the door. The General brought his right hand from his pocket to open the door. As he turned the knob, he released the tiny bean sized bug that was in his hand, blocking the bug’s landing with his legs so no one would see. It landed softly on the Persian rug that filled the wide room.
The General opened the door and stepped out, turning right towards the visitor’s lounge. Austin wasn’t any wiser. He had no idea what had just happened he went out after the General and turned left heading to the guest bedroom.
As Austin shut the door behind her, Sophia smiled.
She had seen the little stunt the General pulled. Her trained eyes had caught the fall of the transmitter. He was hiding something and she had since had her doubts about him. If he trusted her, why did he want to eavesdrop on her? She walked to the door and squatted by the tiny bug. She did not touch it. She examined it carefully. It was an ultra-powerful listening device. The NODE-01 Jaguar. It had the capacity to relay sounds clearly up to 100 meters. She got up, leaving the bug where it was.
She went back to Ambrose and whispered in his ears.
“Coast is clear. Meet me in the bathroom now!”
Ambrose opened one eye. Then the other. He looked around. Sophia was already headed towards the bathroom. He got up from the chair and grimaced. He actually hurt himself when he jumped on the train. But it was not as bad as he made it seem to Austin and The General. He had contacted Sophia when he got off the train and thanked her for saving his life. She had asked him how bad the situation was and he had told her everything he knew. She advised him to fake being hurt, get some more blood on himself and contact Austin. Ambrose had had a tricky moment when Austin tried to take off his clothes to access the extent of injury to his stomach area. Ambrose knew that he could not afford to have his fake injury found. He had groaned and screamed terribly and Austin backed off. Austin felt sorry for him and promised to get him to the mansion so Sophia could look at him. He did not attempt to check Ambrose’s injury again.
When Ambrose got to the bathroom, the tap attached to the hand wash sink was rushing at full capacity. The shower was also running. The sound of rushing water would interfere with the transmitter’s reception, blocking the bug from detecting their voices. Sophia sat on the closed toilet seat and beckoned him to come close to her. He got in front of her and sat on the ground, leaning his back on the bath tub.
She got out her phone and typed a message:
“Did you bring the chip?”
She handed the phone to Austin and he read it. He cleared the message Sophia typed and replaced it with his.
“Yes I did.” Ambrose typed.
Ambrose handed the phone back to Sophia. He got up and walked to the hand washing sink and bent low before it. He put his ‘peace’ fingers in his mouth, gagged on it, and vomited in the sink. He put his hand in the disgusting goo and fished out a black rectangular micro sim.
He opened the tap, flushing the goo down the sink and rinsed the micro sim. He walked back to Sophia and handed it to her.
“How did you get it?” Sophia asked curiously in a barely audible whisper.
“As we approached the police car that was supposed to take me to the Capital, your message came in. I freed myself from the agent by hitting him just below the ribs. I used the opportunity to grab his smartphone from his side pocket. When I got on the train, I realised that I was being tracked with the phone that I had stolen. I took out the sim and left the phone on in the train. It would be a while before they realize that they have been barking up the wrong tree.” Ambrose replied.
“Good job Ambrose. Are you sure you don’t want anyone to check you out?” Sophia asked, getting up from the toilet seat and heading for the door.
“I think I am fine.” Ambrose replied.
“Good. You need to keep up the act a little while longer. Maybe until after tomorrow.” Sophia said with a tone of finality.
“Can I get some sugar in my room? It would really speed up my recovery.” Ambrose asked with a mischievous smile on his face.
Sophia smiled, turned and walked up to him. She kissed him deeply and fully on his lips, sucking his lower lips, her tongues flicking in and out, teasing the palates of his mouth. Ambrose squeezed her br3asts as his essence stood at attention, raging like a wild bull. After what seemed like forever, Sophia detached herself from him, eyeing him seductively and stepping two steps back. Ambrose tried to come forwards, attempting to continue the action.
“Hey tiger. That was just to say thank you. Will send a hottie into your room in ten minutes.” Sophia said, putting a hand on his chest to stop him from coming any closer.
She licked her lips, bit her lower lip and looked at his gr0in area. His body went up in flames of desire. She turned her back on him and wiggled her hips as she shut the door behind her. Ambrose unbuckled his belt and looked into his pants. His desire needed to be satisfied. He walked out of the bathroom and went to his room.
It was a very hot afternoon. The sun was scorching hot and people were sweating as they walked along the streets. Sean walked along the busy Obalende road, heading for the lonely street North of the small roundabout. He got to a very tiny busy street. He heard screams of “Yaba!!! Yaba going bus!!!” from the scores of commercial buses that lined the streets. As he took a left turn, someone bumped into him hitting him by the shoulders. Sean did not look back. He just smiled and continued moving. The person who hit him wore a hood which covered his entire head. He already knew who it was.
He put his hand inside the side pocket of his blazers and felt the tiny piece of paper that was not there a few minutes ago. He kept moving forwards, not knowing exactly where he was going. When he saw an empty tricycle, he quickly sat in it. He took out the paper and read the content:
MEET ME IN IKD TONIGHT.
Tearing the paper to tiny shreds, Sean got out of the tricycle and tracked back the same way he came. He walked for a while, turning corners abruptly, stopping suddenly and sometimes just turning and heading back the same way he came. He continued to move around in circles, making sure that whoever it was that was tailing him got lost along the way.
When he was certain that he had lost any trackers, he moved beside buses, crossed the road a few times back and forth, and zigzagged his way until he got to the Barracks and opened the back seat of a grey G-wagon.
“How did it go?” Eva asked as Sean settled in beside her in the back seat.
He just looked at her and smiled.
He looked at the rear view mirror and met the gaze of his driver
“DRIVE!” Sean commanded.
* * * * *
The Colonel laughed gently as he sat on the roof of the UBA building in Obalende. When he hit Sean a few minutes before, he had dropped a tiny note in his pocket. The note had a bug on it. There was no way Sean would handle the tiny paper that he would not get the transmitter onto himself. It was a tracking device which would allow The Colonel monitor Sean’s movement. He knew he had won Sean over to his side, but he was not completely certain that it would remain that way. He just had this gut feeling that just as Sean agreed to work with him, he could easily decide to switch sides again.
However, he knew Sean was very smart. Even though he did not know the exact degree of Sean’s intelligence, putting the bug on the tiny note was the perfect test. And to his chagrin, Sean passed perfectly. That was the reason for The Colonel’s laugh. The Colonel had been looking at his hybrid wristwatch which was configured to act as a monitor for the tracking device. For five minutes, the red dot on his wrist watch was static, unmoving. It was just blinking a few meters from the location he had hit Sean. Sean definitely did not have the bug on him.
The Colonel had half expected this. He had concluded that if Sean failed to detect the bug, he would not be involved in the bust to take down GhostCorp. But now not only did Sean detect the bug, he had suddenly disappeared from view. He was nowhere to be found. The Colonel searched the whole of the Obalende axis with his powerful custom made binoculars, looking for Sean at every angle. This was his back-up plan. He had thought he would be able to catch a glimpse of Sean if the tracking stunt failed.
As he looked behind him, peering down through his binoculars 45 degrees South East, he saw Sean slowly snaking his way behind the red BRT buses that were parked and waiting for passengers.
“Gotchya!” The Colonel said to himself.
He pressed a button on the right panel of his binoculars to activate X-ray Detection Mode. The view changed, wiping every other element off and displaying just the image of Sean. He was coming back the same way he just went and was now crossing over to the other side of the road.
“You can run friend, but you can’t hide.” The Colonel said softly again.
Sean crossed the road and waited. The Colonel wondered what was keeping Sean. Could he be waiting for someone? He activated Face Detection and zoomed in on Sean’s face. Sean looked completely indifferent. Totally unreadable. He did not look anxious, scared or worried. He just looked sideways a few times as if he was waiting to cross the road. The Colonel had tracked down a lot of very good spies. He was very good at it. But at one point or the other, they always gave themselves away especially when he used his binoculars and gauged their facial expression. No one had ever escaped him. But now, he could not read Sean’s countenance.
“What is on your mind boy? What are you trying to do?” The Colonel asked himself.
A commercial bus was calling for passengers and stopped just where Sean stood. Sean waited a while and then entered just as the bus began to move. The Colonel saw this. He took the registration plates of the bus and typed it into his palm sized satellite computer. As the bus moved just about 100 meters, a truck carrying fuel crossed the road causing traffic to build up. Sean got down from the bus with other passengers and mixed himself with the crowd. He went to the side of the truck and entered through the passenger door. People were looking at Sean. The Colonel was watching everything with keen interest. His view of Sean was blocked by the rising number of people that were now trying to move the truck away from the road. He could only see a little part of Sean’s body in the truck. Another man entered the driver’s seat of the truck and attempted to start the truck. It refused to move.
The man got down from the truck and opened the front compartment of the truck’s engine chamber. Sean was no longer in the truck. It was just a few seconds. How did Sean get out of his sight? He quickly scanned the whole area, imprinting faces and looking for Sean. The results were negative. Sean was not in the vicinity. Two minutes later while the binoculars was still scanning, the driver of the truck got back into the truck and started the engine. It revved to life, emitting thick black smoke from the exhaust pipe. The truck reversed and gradually got off the road, parking on a safe part of the busy commercial axis. Still, Sean was no longer in view.
When the truck driver got out and got out his phone, The Colonel had a sudden brainwave. Zooming his powerful binoculars on the driver’s phone, he took several pictures of the phone’s screen until the driver put it back into his pocket and began to walk away from the truck.
The Colonel transferred the pictures onto his Ipad 7 Unlimited and zoomed in on the pictures. The first picture showed the menu of the truck driver’s phone. He continued his scrutiny of the pictures till he got to the seventh one. It was a message from an unknown number.
The Colonel continued to scroll. The remaining pictures showed the truck driver deleting the message and exiting the screen to the main menu. A truck came out of nowhere, blocked the road, granted Sean entrance and allowed him disappear. The truck which had seemed totally bad suddenly got working and was able to leave the road. And barely a minute after Sean’s disappearance off the radar, the truck driver got a text showing appreciation.
The coincidence was too true to be ignored. The truck driver had been Sean’s diversion and means of escape. The Colonel nodded his head and smiled. He was impressed. Sean had outwitted him and totally knocked him off his trail. Nobody had ever done that. He shut down his devices and packed them in a small briefcase. He headed for the fire escape and proceeded to exit the UBA building. He had made up his mind. Sean was definitely going to be his right hand man.
The General got into the Visitors lounge, shutting the door behind him. He scanned the walls and corners, looking for any form of surveillance or hidden bugs. After less than a minute of scrutiny, he brought out two wireless ear plugs and inserted them in his ears. Once they were in his ears, they started blinking purple – a sign that they were activated.
He listened intently, hoping to hear whispers or any form of activity in the room. He only heard the sound of rushing water. He waited for seven minutes. He was beginning to get worried. The shower or whatever it was had begun to take too long. Besides, seven minutes was too long a period to wash off Ambrose’s wounds and bring him back to the sitting room. Even at that, there still had to be some form of communication or small talk. So far he had not gotten anything and that worried him. He pressed the earpiece deeper into his ears. Still nothing.
Just as he was about to leave the lounge, he heard voices.
“How do you feel now?” The General heard Sophia say.
“Much better. Thanks a lot for the injection.” Ambrose replied.
“So what really happened back there?” Sophia asked
“It all happened so fast. I do not even recall all right now. Still looks hazy at the moment. But I think I need to rest.” Ambrose said.
“Okay then. A room has been prepared upstairs for you. I will ask someone to lead you there. What do I tell the General? He would need information.” Sophia asked
“The General scares me. I fear he may shoot me himself if he doesn’t get anything out of me.” Ambrose replied.
When the General heard that, he smiled. He was glad he had not lost the fear factor he had on his lieutenants. Sophia inclusive. He had heard enough. He walked out of the lounge, taking out the buds in his ears as he approached the sitting room. He opened the door as a steward was leading Ambrose upstairs to the room that had been prepared for him.
“Where is he going?” The General asked Sophia who didn’t seem the least startled at his intrusion.
He was beginning to lose his power on Sophia and they both knew it. But he had no choice. He had lost his most intelligent Lieutenants. He had only Sophia now. She was the calmest and the most calculating. She worked best under pressure. She always delivered. She was his only hope if he was to come out of his brewing war with The Colonel. He had no doubts whatsoever that Sophia knew that she was his only powerhouse in this ensuing battle. He also knew she was cunning and could snake him. Tawo and Shina were dead. Ambrose was temporarily out and he had only Sophia. So he would stick with her till this was over and take her out. He had thought about rendering her inactive, deploying her to a remote island or taking her away to a different section of GhostCorp. But with every thought he always came to the same conclusion: She had become too comfortable and it was not healthy for him. She had to die.
He preferred his enigma status and if Sophia did not feel threatened by him, she could influence others to feel the same. And then, he would no longer be The General that everyone really feared and got trembled at.
“He is going to his room. He needs to rest.” Sophia replied.
“Has he said anything?” The General asked.
“Nothing yet. His thoughts seem unclear at the moment, nothing a good rest will not solve.” Sophia replied.
“Where are we with Sean and Eva?” The General asked.
Sophia was shocked. She hadn’t expected that the General would have known so soon. It had been barely 48 hours and she was hoping she would get concrete information by the end of day. She had no idea where they were.
“I have everything under control. They are ready for their part. We just need to get a way to blend them into the new scheme now that Ambrose has been compromised.” Sophia replied.
“Where are they?” The General asked, walking to the water dispenser and helping himself with a cup of cold water. He drank the water, keeping his gaze on Sophia as he waited for her reply.
Sophia was quiet.
“Ahhhhhhhhh. Refreshing!” The General exclaimed as he set the cup down and licked his lips.
“I asked a question S. Where is the location of Sean and Eva?”
“My best guess is that they are now working with the Colonel. They were visited by the Colonel in their hotel suite and have gone rogue since then. We got know this from the surveillance footage in the hotel. He intentionally let himself get captured by the cameras. They have been spotted around the city but successfully shaken off all our best trackers. I have taken over supervision of finding them and I will get something soon. I think they will let themselves be found when they are ready. We trained them too well.” Sophia explained.
“Are you giving me excuses lieutenant?” The General said raising his voice angrily.
Sophia was unmoved.
“I would never give excuses sir. I am just saying that we have studied the Colonel. He wants revenge. He is blinded by his current bloodlust. We can use it to our advantage. If we wait him out, pretend to be unaware of him and his vices, he would be forced to act. Then we would nail him. We have the upper hand sir. We need to gather our resources, stock pile our strategies and expect an attack. Then we’ll counter in such a way he never saw coming.” Sophia explained sitting down and crossing her legs, staring straight into her Guardian’s eyes.
“Let me know when Ambrose comes to. If he has nothing concrete to present, you will have to kill him. Use him as bait, smoke him, anything. He is now a liability. You have twenty hours to find the missing love birds.” The General said and walked out of the room.
He did not wait for a reply. Sophia had none to give. She had plans of her own.
As the General shut the door behind him, she got up and headed for Ambrose’s room.
TO BE CONTINUED
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