A Billionaire’s Ransom Part 1… Chapter 6

Captain Brown captain brown, captain captain captain brown,
The flight from Abuja took roughly an hour and so much delay, but they were at the Kano International Airport by 11 a.m. that morning.
Getting through the unusually tight security at the airport had been easy enough for Alex. Hooking up with the taxi driver in the arrivals hall had been even easier, but communicating with the man, that was the hard part.
Alex tried a few times before he realized that the smiling, head bobbing, middle-aged Gwari man who gave ‘yes’ as a reply to every question, really didn’t understand a word of English. Alex’s grasp of the Gwari language wasn’t too good so he tried Arabic which didn’t work either because the man wasn’t a Muslim but one of these rare northern Christians. Using signs and the Hausa language which he spoke quite fluently because it was the second official language of the Army right after English, Alex finally managed to convey to the man that he wanted the windows rolled completely down so as to allow more of the fresh late morning air come into the hot interior of the car as he drove.
The taxi was an ancient car that looked a lot like a pre-1990 model Passat with mixed body parts. It was nicely painted on the outside, but its interior was a write off held together by loose screws and glue. Nothing worked on the inside of the car, the dashboard was obviously for fancy and the engine sounded like it hadn’t been serviced in twenty-five years. The driver had to pull over by the roadside where he spent nearly ten minutes using a spanner to fight down each window before getting back in behind the wheels and re-starting the car with a vigorous pumping of the accelerator.
Alex was no stranger to rickety vehicles, they were all over the place up here in the northern part of the country and he had spent most of the last five years traveling all over the region. He forced himself to relax in the back seat of the taxi now and remain calm while the crazy driver took him to ‘heaven only knows where’. If it turned out to be the wrong place, he would have to get himself out of there somehow and then call Rufai or Basil fast.
The flight had been smooth and uneventful, that was what the rest of the passengers would call it but not Alex. He had seen Rufai and Samuel; they had all been in first class together, pretending not to know each other. Alex had tried hard but never spotted Samuel’s other two men. He would see them soon enough, he thought as he unhooked the dark sunglasses from the front of his shirt, put it on and stared curiously out of the window at the ancient city laid out under the hot late morning sun. He had never been to Keno before.
In a minute, his mind went back to the plane and he idly wondered where in the city she could be now, what she was doing and with whom.
The Military Intelligence agent who had met him on the flight had also been in first class and her identity had been a big shocker. Alex had spotted her so easily because she was none other than Captain Sylvia Brown, one of the four ranking female staff officers at Defense headquarters, a woman with whom he’d had one hell of an affair not too long ago.
Just above average height, Sylvia Brown was a light complexioned, elegant beauty who possessed a beautiful plumpish curvy body that was wonderful to look at even in an Air Force officer’s uniform. Alex first set eyes on her during one of his first visits to Defense headquarters two years ago and was hooked from that moment on. She had been a Lieutenant like himself then, but senior in service years and at thirty, had been nearly four years older than he was in age. But none of all that changed the fact that she was one of the most attractive women he had ever seen in his life. When months later, Alex got stationed temporally in Abuja, he had ample opportunity to woo her which hadn’t been easy because of her superior status and the several senior male officers after her too. Alex could hardly believe his luck when he eventually became the ‘chosen one’ but the hot relationship that followed lasted only two months before the cracks began to show. Their sex life had been wonderful, but the trouble was that Sylvia, like most female military officers too used to issuing commands and being obeyed, was a possessive and controlling woman. His inferior age hadn’t helped matters at all, and then there was the other troubling issue…. Captain Sylvia Brown was too expensive a woman for him to maintain.
In the third month of the relationship, Sylvia suddenly got promoted to Captain and that came with a new office, new car, new accommodations, new responsibilities and new friends. She promptly dumped him without ceremony and took up with a rich Major from a wealthy northern family. Barely a week after the break up, Alex was ordered back to the war front, far to the northeast, and that should have been the end of everything except that Sylvia Brown had somehow managed to get into his iron fortress of a heart so forgetting her hadn’t been easy at all until the fighting and bloodbath took his soul completely.
Alex hadn’t seen or heard from Sylvia since they parted ways over a year ago, and then, suddenly, there she was on the plane, looking even more attractive and beautiful in a fine yellow skirt suit with matching high heels… apparently, his contact!
She had been among one of the last passengers to board the plane and she had definitely seen him clearly as she came walking down the aisle, went right past the seat where he sat without even a hint of recognition as she headed towards the rear of the first-class compartment where her own seat was. Not even a secretive blink of the eye, that was how Alex knew for sure that she was there for him. He got a bit confused when, barely a few short minutes into the flight, a pretty air hostess arrived to serve him a drink and there on the tray she carried lay a small white card, carefully set so he easily saw and read the boldly written code words, his brain translating swiftly…’toilet, five minutes’.
Two minutes after the air hostess had walked away, looking into the round mirrored surface of his digital wristwatch, his customized rear review mirror, Alex saw Captain Sylvia Brown abruptly got up from her seat and head out towards the rear of the plane where the toilets were.
No one else in the compartment moved. No one noticed her go.
Alex waited the full five minutes before following. He found one of the toilet doors ajar, pulled it open and there she was, standing and waiting coolly in the confined space.
Alex went in, closing the door behind him and as he faced her, her lovely rosy perfume filled his nostrils and lungs, instantly awakening in him a deep sexual hunger, the old raging desire for her he hadn’t felt in a long time. It suddenly became a struggle to keep control of his senses and keep his hands from reaching out for her.
Standing barely three feet apart in the confined space, the old lovers stared at each other.
“Hello, Ninja,” she said, smiling and looking so damn lovely.
‘Ninja’ was the pet name she often called him and it had a lot to do with his deadly fighting skills and abilities which she was well aware of.
“What are you doing here?” he asked coldly.
“It’s nice to see you again too.”
“What the hell are you doing here, Sylvia?”
“Well, I think you already know the answer to that.” she pointed a long red tipped finger at the hand wash crucible in which was a white package and a black file folder. “These are all the things you requested. The maps, the drugs, the tracker, the explosives and the detonator, all present and in the pocket linings on the light bulletproof vest. Just put the vest on under your shirt and you’re good to go, nothing will show. The folder contains special documents for you to sign.”
Alex glanced at the items. He hadn’t seen her with anything like the package at any point and she had certainly walked out of the first-class compartment empty-handed, which meant there must be another agent on the plane, a backup, probably the air hostess. Captain Sylvia Brown was a very smart woman, a very smooth talker too.
Alex shifted his eyes back to her. “Since when did you start delivering packages for Military Intelligence?”
“Since a particular civilian with deadly military skills started making strange demands that require high-level approval,” she said coolly. “Technically, Military Intelligence cannot give you the immunity you want but Counterintelligence can. Colonel Iyang reached out to us last night and once I heard your name, I decided to handle things myself,” she picked up the black file folder, opened it and held it out to him. “Just sign these and you have your immunity as well as license to kill.”
Alex dragged his eyes off her lovely face to the open folder. He reached out slowly to take it. There were two sheets of paper, important looking documents, and a pen stuck in it. He read the documents swiftly and carefully and saw that everything was in perfect order. He pulled out the pen and signed them, then handed it all back to her.
“Thank you,” she said politely, then handed him a white envelope. “The code name and number of this operation, your code name and that of your special contact at the regional command headquarters in Bornu state. Colonel Iyang himself will be coordinating things on this one and your number one priority is El Soldat. Open the envelope, memorize all that is on the paper inside and destroy it, you know the routine. Things have already been fixed with security at the Kano airport so you won’t be searched or bothered at any point on arrival,” She placed the folder on the lid of the toilet seat. “Leave this and every other thing you don’t need behind when you leave. The air hostess that served you a drink earlier will be right in to take care of everything, she’s a Counterintelligence agent.”
Alex tossed the envelope on the package in the crucible and fixed her with his full attention. He was all too conscious of her powerful sexuality, the availability of her lush body in the confined space, less than an arm’s length away. He was suddenly aware of how long he had been without a woman. Too many months.
Sylvia met his eyes fully and the tip of her red tongue touched her luscious full lips, glossy red with lipstick.
Alex felt the last of his self -control begin to evaporate.
“Why are you really here, Sylvia?” he asked in a dangerously low voice.
She stepped very close to him then, put her hands on his chest and shoulders, running them slowly over the ridges of hard muscles.
“I want a reconnection,” she said softly.
He stared at her. “Last I heard, you were well-connected to a Major with lots of money to splash on you.”
She lifted her eyes from the activities of her hands and looked into his. “That was over with many months ago. I’m just alone by myself now and it’s rather depressing.”
“There isn’t a shortage of high-ranking officers with fat salaries, is there?”
A small smile touched her lips and her eyes shifted away from his briefly. “No, there definitely isn’t, but none seem to fit my standards of a perfect man like you so completely did. I was beginning to find life very discontenting and then you showed up again on the scene with a big salary of your own,” She fixed him with her lovely big eye again and her arms slid around his neck. “Having me at your feet and having a meaningful relationship, isn’t that what you always wanted?”
Alex stared at her even as his arousal levels rocked upwards. “I’m not even in the military anymore.”
She shook her head slowly. “I never really wanted a man in the military. I don’t even want to be in the military anymore. I want a home and children of my own, I want a family.”
Alex didn’t know what to say. He searched desperately for words, and then she was kissing him. He stopped trying to think and pulled her tightly against his body as he kissed her back with all the hunger in his entire being.
The kiss was deep and long. When finally, their lips parted, they stared deeply into each other’s eyes and she touched his face gently, cleaning the lip gloss from his lips.
“When you return, we will start over again.” she said softly. “Please, take care of yourself for me.”
She pulled gently out of his arm as she moved towards the door, got it open and slipped out, closing it gently after her.
Bewildered, Alex took several deep breaths to lower his blood pressure then picked up the envelope and tore it open. He got out the paper inside, unfolded and read it quickly. He read it again, then a third time and the information was rewritten into his memory. He tore the paper to shreds and flushed it down the loo then turned his attention to the package. He tore open the tough nylon container and checked the vest carefully to make sure everything was in place. Satisfied, he took off his blue long-sleeved shirt and put the vest on. He put his shirt back on over the vest, then checked carefully in the mirrors to make sure nothing showed. When finally, he opened the door and stepped out of the toilet, he found the air hostess waiting patiently close by.
He had simply nodded to her and headed back to his seat.
At the Kano airport, while many of the passengers were being checked by security, he had been one of the few to be waved through unbothered. In the arrivals hall, this taxi driver had approached him boldly with a note on which the prearranged message had been scribbled and signed by the legitimate contact, Mr. Danjumma. He had then followed the taxi driver without question as the note implored.
Alex brought his mind back to the present and checked his watch. It was going on to twelve O’clock now.
The old taxi wasn’t fast, but within fifteen minutes they were in an area that looked like an industrial estate. They soon pulled up before a pair of large brown gates with the black and gold Goldfield company logo on them and the driver sounded the sharp horn twice. An alert uniformed security man pushed the gates open quickly and the taxi drove through into the deserted compound of a huge warehouse, or rather three large warehouse buildings linked together as one. The giant doors of one of the warehouse buildings stood partly open and beside it was a man dressed in white shirt sleeve and black trousers. No other soul was in sight.
The taxi driver drove through the large compound and pulled up directly in front of the open warehouse doors. The man stepped up at once and got the rear door open for Alex.
 “Welcome, sir,” he greeted as Alex climbed out of the back seat.
The man was about thirty, clearly Hausa in origin, but he spoke fine English.
“Thank you,” replied Alex and looked around. He carried his light bag easily in one hand.
“Just go on inside,” said the man gesturing at the open doors of the warehouse. “My boss and your friends are waiting for you.”
As Alex walked off, the man turned to the taxi driver and switched effortlessly to the Gwari language. He handed over a few naira notes from a fat bundle in his pocket and the driver was all smiles. The taxi drove off, made an easy U-turn in the large compound and headed back towards the gates.
Alex took off his dark sunglasses as he walked cautiously through the open doors of the warehouse.
The interior of the large warehouse was gloomy, but he could see it was parked high with large wooden crates and cartons of goods, all the way deep in. There was more space closer to the open doors and to one side was parked a white Toyota Hilton bus while to the other were several chairs arranged around two big tables. Rufai and Samuel sat there enjoying some refreshments and chatting with another man he had never seen before.
They saw Alex right away and the stranger got to his feet immediately, coming quickly towards him.
“Ah, Mr. Okoye, good afternoon,” said the man in perfect English, smiling broadly. “I’m Mr. Danjumma. I trust you had a nice flight?”
Mr. Danjumma was a respectable looking man in his late forties, clearly Hausa. He was dark skinned and of average height with a thick well-fed body that radiated the kind of good living that came from success and having money. He was dressed in the customary long robe and trousers style outfit that was the regular thing among the men up here in the north. The quality of the material used in tailoring the outfit spoke volumes of the financial and social status of the man who wore it. The well to do men usually had theirs tailored with expensive materials while the flamboyant ones among them added the luxury of a hat and sometimes, particularly in the case of the rich ones, the extra layer of a voluminous wide sleeved over-robe that transformed the entire outfit completely into something else, an Agada. Mr. Danjumma clothes were tailored from a clearly expensive red fabric, he had on a matching decorative hat and expensive looking shoes to go.
Alex put him down as a top employee of Goldfield Holdings, probably the guy who ran this warehouse complex and whatever subsidiary company that was attached to it.
Alex took the man’s proffered hand in a firm handshake. “I had a nice flight, thank you.”
“Oh, good, good,” said Mr. Danjumma enthusiastically and began to stir Alex towards the chairs and tables where the other two men sat. “I was just outlining our travel arrangements to Mr. Rufai and Lieutenant Samuel while we waited for you and the other two to arrive. Come please, come and sit down and help yourself to some the refreshments, there’s enough for everyone. We consider ourselves very hospitable people up here in the north.”
Alex followed him over, shook hands with Rufai and Samuel, had a few words with then took a chair at the table, placed his bag on the floor next to it as he sat down.
There were several bottles of good wine and mineral water on the table along with a tray packed high with roast beef. Alex picked out a bottle of wine and a glass, Mr. Danjumma placed an empty plate before him and gestured at the trayful of beef.
“Please, help yourself,” he said encouragingly.
“Thank you,” replied Alex and picked out a few large chunks of juicy looking beef on to the plate.
“As soon as Lieutenant Samuel’s men arrive, we’ll be heading out,” said Rufai.
“In the Hilton?” asked Alex.
Rufai nodded. “Yes.”
“We’ll be picking up a few travelers along the way to avoid any complications,” said Mr. Danjumma now seated again in his chair. “There are too many military checkpoints along the roads now, only public transport vehicles stand a chance of getting through easily.”
“Of course, Hassan, but no smelly market women,” said Rufai with much familiarity.
“Of course, not,” replied Mr. Danjumma at once. “Just five or six travelers, that’s it”
Alex got the bottle of wine open and filled up his glass, then turned to the roast beef. Rufai and Samuel ate away at the beef and drank their own wine too, while Mr. Danjumma just sat relaxed in his chair with a glass of wine, watching all of them.
“There has been some news,” said Mr. Danjumma after some moments.
“What news?” asked Rufai looking over at him, mouth full.
They were all looking at Mr. Danjumma.
“Boko Haram has now overrun all the small towns and villages south of the Yedzaeam river. Mastari is completely gone. They hit Bama itself last night.”
“Christ!” exclaimed Samuel “Isn’t that supposed to be the second biggest city in Bornu state?”
“It’s the only other city in the entire state aside from the capital, Maiduguri,” answered Rufai. “Technically speaking, it’s still a town, a very big one.”
“How sure are you about this information?” asked Alex.
“One hundred percent sure. I have a well-placed friend in the Army’s regional headquarters in Maiduguri. He has been out of reach for the last four days, so I wasn’t sure of anything until this morning. As of this morning, Boko Haram has occupied major areas in the southern part of the town, but the Army is holding its grounds so far.”
Alex shook his head sadly, there was suddenly a bitter taste in his mouth. “Not even up to a year and the entire state is already gone.”
“And the terrorists are still advancing on all fronts,” put in Mr. Danjumma. “The refugees have been pouring into Maiduguri in their thousands for weeks now. The new camps the government set up there just last week are already overflowing. Even here in Kano, it’s the same thing, too many refugees all at once, you’ll notice the influx once we get on the interstate roads.”
Rufai looked at Alex. “How does this affect our mission?”
Alex shook his head. “I don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t sound good at all. Bama is just twenty-eight miles northeast of Sambisa forest which is their stronghold. All their big shots are based either in Sambisa forest itself or within the vicinity and they never venture too far away from that region, El Soldat is right there among them. With Bama in military hands we would have had a safe zone just behind our backs as we went out to meet with them, but now?” Alex shook his head again. “El Soldat will still want to meet at a secure location that’s not too far from Sambisa forest and that’s still to the south of captured Bama, there’s no way he’s coming into the town or over the Yedzaeam river. We may find ourselves going very deep into what is now becoming enemy-held territory to make this exchange.”
“We’ll know for sure soon enough,” said Samuel unworriedly and turned to his glass of wine.
A few minutes of silence followed as they all turned to the food and drinks and then the sounds of vehicles pulling up outside reached them.
“They are here,” said Mr. Danjumma but made no move to get up.
A minute later, two men, both in jeans and colored T-shirts, came swaggering in through the entrance. They each carried an identical version of the same small suitcase Alex carried, the very same kind Samuel and Rufai had with them. They were both big men, about six feet in height, powerfully built and full of arrogance. The same kind of arrogance one saw in young men with a lot of confidence in their own strength and power.
Alex noticed how lightly they moved on their feet and knew at once that they were definitely highly-trained, combat-fit soldiers like Samuel.
“About time,” said Samuel as the men came up.
The two men threw him a relaxed salute, which told Alex that Samuel had a good relationship going with his men.
“What kept you bastards so long?” asked Samuel.
“Those security goons at the airport searched us like criminals, sir,” said one.
“Bloody morons, all of them,” grumbled the other one, he had a hard face.
Samuel glanced at Rufai. “We weren’t searched. Alex, were you searched?”
“No,” said Alex with a shake of his head even as he realized exactly what Military Intelligence had done or rather what Captain Sylvia Brown had done. Yes, she was very smart, that was one of the reasons he liked her so much aside from her wonderful rich body and beauty. Letting most of the first-class passengers go through security unbothered had given him good cover.
Samuel looked at his men and raised his eyebrows.
“Well, sir, we flew business class while you people flew first class. The rich always have it all handed to them on a plate”
Samuel made a sarcastic noise in his throat and looked at Alex and Rufai again. “Please meet my men, Sergeants Garko and Efosa. Guys these are Captain Rufai and Lieutenant Okoye”
The two Sergeants instantly let their bags fall to the floor as they snapped stiffly to attention.
“Good afternoon, sirs!” they barked out in unison.
“They are no longer in the Army,” added Samuel dryly, already busy with some beef.
Efosa rolled his eyes heavenward and glanced at his hard-faced partner. They both relaxed.
“Good afternoon, sirs,” greeted hard faced Sergeant Garko generally.
“Afternoon, Sirs,” repeated Efosa.
Efosa was the one making all the cheerful remarks and Alex found himself liking him, which was something that didn’t come easily at all. The Sergeants were roughly the same size and height, but Garko had slightly bigger chest and shoulders, and he was downright mean looking with his unsmiling hard face. Efosa, on the other hand, was easy going and good looking.
“Afternoon,” replied Alex and Mr. Danjumma almost at the same time. Mr. Danjumma still sat relaxed in his chair.
“Afternoon, Sergeants,” said Rufai and jerked a thumb at the other table which had a large covered bowl, bottled water and three bottles of wine atop it. “Sit down and help yourself to something, we have another long journey ahead of us.”
“Thank you, sir,” replied the Sergeants. They moved over to take seats at the table.
Settled now, the five men ate in silence for a few minutes and then the man from outside walked into the warehouse and headed over to the white Toyota Hilton bus parked across on the other side.
Mr. Danjumma glanced at his watch, then at Rufai. “We move out within half an hour, if that’s okay with you.”
“No problems, Hassan,” answered Rufai with a nod.
Mr. Danjumma got up and walked across the warehouse, heading towards the bus. His man was already getting the doors of the bus open.
To Be Continued…

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