Tunde was driving like a maniac. He had to meet agent Bakare at the rendezvous and time was not on his side. He had been driving in circles through Lagos traffic for the past two hours, changed cars thrice and he was now driving out of town. He was on his way to Abeokuta to meet the agent.
He kept watching his rear mirror to determine driving patterns of other road users as he sped through Lagos Ibadan Express way. He car did not come with wings, but Tunde did a good job of making it fly. He turned at the intersection after speeding for over twenty minutes since leaving Berger; he was on the final stretch of his journey. His wrist watch read five-thirty pm.
He drove for another twenty five minutes before getting to his destination. It was a nondescript mud house on the outside of town. He had pulled into a dirt road and driven through a forest to get to the house. He parked the car, got out and walked briskly to the house.
‘You’re late.’ A voice said from within the shadows of the house. ‘And you’re getting sloppy. I coulda killed you a hundred times before you got to the door.’
‘Good for me you’re not out to whack me.’ A smile spread across his face. ‘Bakare my man, how has life been?’
The man in the shadows walked into the light. ‘Bad, my friend. My life is in danger.’ His face was grim.
Tunde had realized that the man had an important message to pass. But agent Bakare was beyond theatrics and paranoia. He was one of the few men that Tunde considered his equal in the field. So when the man made that solemn declaration, Tunde took it seriously.
‘What do you mean your life is in danger?’ Tunde asked as he sat down.
Agent Bakare sat opposite him. ‘You remember I was relieved of active duty nine months ago?’
Tunde nodded. That had been one nasty affair. Agent Bakare and the Colonel Bala had had a public shout, with the superior calling his subordinate all sorts of names and letting him go. Tunde had thought it was overkill, but after his run-in with the Sting people, he turned to Bakare who wouldn’t lift a finger to help he didn’t know what to believe.
‘I remember. I also remember that you left me out in the cold when I needed a safe house three months ago…’
‘I’m sorry.’ Agent Bakare broke his flow.
Tunde mulled over the quick apology, ‘okay, I’ll bite. Tell me everything, and then, maybe I’ll help.’
‘You will help, you have to.’ There was urgency in the agent’s voice.
Tunde became curious. ‘What’s this about? You denied me, and now you suddenly need help, I’m the one you turn to. I have half the mind to walk away from here.’
Agent Bakare smiled. ‘You could, but you won’t. Listen, I have a story to tell. It’s both touching and gripping, the kinds of stuff novels are written about. Yet, because of the urgency, I’ll just skip to the highlights.’
Tunde had almost forgotten the agent’s love for prattling. He suddenly realized that one of the reasons he was sitting across the agent an hour from Lagos was because agent Bakare’s message had been vague. The man talked a good deal, yet he didn’t say anything in his messages.
‘I’m all ears.’ He folded his hands and leaned across the table.
Agent Bakare began his story. ‘Remember my bad exit at the agency?’
‘Ah!’ Tunde objected smiling, ‘I always knew that was staged, it was one of the reasons I came to you.’
‘You almost blew my cover then. Don’t worry, I’ll get to it. So, when you called needing a place, much as I wanted to, you had to be sacrificed. Here’s what happened. About a year ago, the president caught a whiff of a cabal at the villa. He confided in the DG who made several moves and wafted through the elites.
‘Eventually, Colonel Bala called me up and briefed me. He told me that it would be my last case as a field agent should I accept the mission. I agreed. The president’s making positive changes and I wanted to contribute my quota. Needless to say, we staged that atrocious comedy and I went full time to work.
‘Because I was bitter and angry, I was extended a hand of fellowship by a group who claimed they had what it takes to help me and make me feel better. I signed up with them and I was in. I had to go through the usual probation and all, but over the last few months, I have been consistently able to leak out their secrets. That’s why you had the opportunity of apprehending the perps you did three months ago.’
‘Whoa, wait!’ Tunde was stunned. ‘You mean you actually gave that lead. I wondered then how I became so lucky and scored a cheap case.’
Agent Bakare shook his head. ‘It was hardly easy. From what I learned, you were almost killed yourself.’
Tunde shrugged. ‘I’m here, aren’t I? That’s what matters. That I am still alive, and well.’
Agent Bakare dismissed his explanation with a wave of his hand. ‘I kept leaking intel to NIA and made sure to cover my tracks. However, I believe that the group is onto me. I have been tapped to meet with the Leader tomorrow. I guess this is it.’
Tunde’s brows arched. ‘The Leader? Who’s that, what do we know about him?’
He’s a ghost. All our agents who have been able to identify him are dead. Not one of them is alive. The man always takes them out.’
Tunde’s face was grim, that’s why you said you’re in danger?’
‘Yes, and I may have stumbled on a beehive. There’s honey to be had, there’s also the case of the bees producing the honey.’ He paused for effect, and then continued.
‘I have uncovered a plot to assassinate the president, and I will rather say, it’s an ingenious plot.’ He was smiling now.
Tunde sat still, unamused. ‘You uncovered a ploy to whack the president of the country and you’re sanguine about it? How demented have you gotten?’
‘Ah!’ Said agent Bakare, ‘remember I just said it’s an ingenious ploy? There’s nothing you or anyone would be able to do stop it if they activate the machinery. That is why I’m asking you to stop it before it gets to that stage.
Tunde had a queer look on his face now. ‘In case you haven’t noticed, I have my hands full trying to orchestrate a meeting with Ismaila. I am just moving up his social ladder.’
‘Well, you will need to shelve that for this. Believe me, this is of utmost importance. I’d pursue the case myself, but I can’t…’
‘And why exactly is that?’ Tunde was becoming wary of his friend.
‘Simple, I’m a walking bomb.’ Agent Bakare smiled sadly. ‘Did I tell you that we’re developing weaponized toxins?’
Tunde was aghast. ‘In Nigeria? We’re not as advanced as that now. Where are they developing biological weapons in this country, and how come we had no idea about it?’
‘Glad you articulated our weakness. From what I’ve been able to glean, the president stood against the development of the toxins. He blocked all the agencies trying to develop it and pulled their allocation. That was the beginning. They went ahead, got private funding, and now, they’re out for the president’s head.’
Tunde was both surprised and angry. He found he couldn’t really articulate with words his confusion. He sat still, hoping agent Bakare would fill him in.
‘I snooped and found the secrets: the president’s impending assassination and the biological warfare plant. Unfortunately, this really is my last case. I was shot with a dart containing one of the fluids. I barely escaped and had the dart analyzed. I have approximately sixteen hours left to live.’ His face was grim.
‘What!’ It was more a reaction than a question.
‘The dart I was shot with contains particles that mixes with the blood to make the person a ticking bomb. Depending on how fast or slow the metabolism of the body is, the bomb will go off. I’ve been laying low and keeping all my vitals up. I have up to sixteen hours best case scenario.’
‘And the worst case?’ Tunde found he couldn’t stop himself.
‘I could go off now. All my insides splattered across this whole room. Won’t be tidy.’ Agent Bakare grimaced. ‘Now you know. What do you say?’
Tunde was speechless for a while. ‘Where’s the lab?’ He figured he would have to destroy the lab first before doing any other thing.
‘Destroyed. They’re not leaving anything to chance. They were destroying it when I went there. And I got shot with the dart for snooping.’
Tunde balked. ‘So you mean the weapons have already been dispatched?’ Agent Bakare nodded. God help us all Tunde thought. The country was under siege and she didn’t know yet.
General Musa smiled as Captain O’Brien entered his office. ‘Sit.’ He commanded as the captain saluted. He did not have the time to waste so he got right to it.
‘Did you hear anything about the shootings in Jos?’
The captain nodded before answering. ‘Yes I did. I read about it in dailies.’
‘Good, I want you to get your best men and head a search. We’ve been alerted that the shooters are still in the state. Sniff them out, and bring them to me dead or alive. That is your directive.’
Captain O’Brien stood, saluted and turned smartly. He was on his way out.
General Musa smiled. He had two men under the captain’s command whom he had instructed to shoot to kill Efe Charles. That was one part of the problem. He picked his phone, dialed a number and waited whilst it rang. When the phone was answered, he gave the order.
‘It’s time to administer the drug, the patient is terminal.’ He didn’t wait for the person on the other end to answer, he clicked off the phone. That was the second part of the problem. He slouched on his seat. Time to watch as his machinery performed. He could relax, for a bit.