Alex slept like a dead man for six hours, and then, like an inbuilt alarm clock, the drug kick-started his brain, bringing him instantly and fully awake at two-fifteen a.m. in the early hours of the morning.
Feeling completely fit and full of energy, his mind very clear, Alex got out of the bed at once and went over to the wardrobe. He got his trousers and put it back on then got the bulletproof vest next. He took out all the necessary items from the secure pockets of the vest, a miniature roll-up universal toolkit, a small tube of glue, a roll of thin wire, a pencil flashlight, the tiny tracker, a miniature detonator and the two small blocks of C-4 plastic explosives. He put them all in the pockets of his trousers, then got the glass cup he’d brought in from the kitchen last night and half-filled it with water from the plastic bottle.
Barefoot and shirtless, the glass of water in one hand, Alex stepped out of his room into the brightly lit hallway, closed the door quietly behind him and stood to listen.
The sound of the big generator chiming out the electricity to the back of the house reached his ears but there was no sign of anyone about.
Quickly and noiselessly, Alex went down the hallway to the storeroom door and tried the handle. It wasn’t locked. He pushed the door open and went in quickly, closing it again behind him.
The lights were off and the room was in complete darkness.
Alex got out the thin torch and flashed its powerful white beam of light around to make sure no one was there as he crossed quickly over to the safe. He knelt before the safe and carefully placed the glass of water on a particular spot on it. Alex waited patiently for the water to settle down completely in the glass cup before trying the knob of the safe which had a numerically calibrated rim. He watched the water level in the glass very carefully as he turned the knob very slowly around several times. Each time the water moved in the glass, ever so slightly, he memorized the corresponding number on the knob facing the small red arrow target mark.
Alex had the numbers in less than ten minutes, dialed them in sequence and the safe popped open. He got out the briefcase quickly, entered the last four digits of his military identification numbers into the number lock, depressed the two buttons and the lid popped open. Quickly, he emptied the wads of dollar bills out onto the floor to one side and studied the design of the empty briefcase carefully, inside and out. Once sure of what was to be done, he took out the items from his pocket, laid them out on the floor and went to work swiftly.
The interior of the briefcase was black so Alex left the black casings on the two small blocks of plastic explosives. They fit in perfectly at the bottom corners of the briefcase and he glued them firmly into place at opposite angles. Next, he set the tiny detonator in place, wired everything up with thin black wires and glued them all firmly down. Lastly, he inserted the tracker into a tiny slot, glued the slot closed and he was done.
Alex surveyed his handiwork carefully to make sure nothing was too visible or out of place, then repacked all the money again, arranging the wads of dollar bills perfectly. The money completely covered up every trace of the explosive devices at the bottom of the briefcase.
Completely satisfied with everything, Alex relocked the briefcase and put it back in the safe then relocked the safe securely again. Quickly, he gathered up all the items he had worked with from the floor and put them in his pocket.
Flashing the torch around to make sure he hadn’t overlooked anything, Alex stood up and picked up the glass of water from atop the safe. He moved quickly back to the door and stood there for several moments, listening for sounds of movement out beyond in the hallway.
He heard nothing.
Alex opened the door abruptly and walked casually out into the hallway, taking a drink from the glass of water like he had been up to the most normal thing in the world.
The hallway was empty.
Alex walked quickly back to the door of his room and went in. He put the glass of water away fast and went for the phones. They were both fully charged now, he disconnected them, put the other phone aside and turned on GX-2 as he went over to sit down on the white plastic chair that was the only furniture in the bare room.
The ultra slim GX-2 could have passed for an expensive android phone with an unbreakable large screen. but its heavier weight gave it away as something more. The things the phone could do were better imagined than explained and one of those was that, even without a SIM, it could fully utilize the signals of any of the six major commercial telecommunications networks in the country. It could also loop into any signal that was well outside the range normal phone, secure Wi-Fi networks were a piece of cake, military networks were a given. As a civilian without the necessary military access codes, Alex hadn’t been able to access the device’s deeper features which was one of the reasons he packed it up soon after leaving the military service. The other two reasons were the phone’s weight and the danger of being caught, a civilian carrying around a high-tech device that could intercept encrypted military communications.
The phone took less than a minute to power up and decrypt, but it took Alex much longer to send the series of codes and text messages that looped it into the servers at Military Intelligence headquarters, Abuja.
As he waited for the response, a knock came at his door.
“Are you awake yet, sir,” came Garko’s voice from outside.
“Yeah,” answered Alex.
“Gear up in thirty minutes, meals on the table for officers in ten.”
“Got that, Sergeant.”
Alex checked the time on the phone again as he heard Garko walk away from the door. It was nearly three o’clock now. The damned response was taking too long, he thought impatiently, checked the network settings and realized his mistake immediately.
The GX-2 had the ability to automatically scan the signals in any area and lock onto the strongest, and that was where the trouble really lay for a civilian using it. If the phone got within one thousand yards of any security sensitive military facility, it would immediately try to loop into their signals and without the proper access codes, trigger all kinds of intruder alarms which would lead to the user’s swift arrest. To solve the problem as a civilian, Alex had the phone locked onto a particular commercial network and all had been fine until he eventually packed up the phone.
The phone was still locked into that particular network now and the signal strength of the network up here was far below average. Alex restored the phone’s network setting to the automatic mode, permitted it to boost and it instantly locked onto a strong military grade Wi-Fi signal, supplying his access codes automatically to stall any alarms. Within seconds, the response from the Military Intelligence servers came, and then the tracker’s signal was live, right on top of his own signal which was actually the phone’s own GPS signal. Alex checked the GPS coordinates and a few other important things, then switched off the phone and tossed it down on the bed.
He hurried to the bathroom.
Several minutes later, all dressed up in the familiar Army camouflage uniform and shiny new black boots, complete with his old Special Forces issue black hand gloves, Alex headed for the living room. He found Rufai and Samuel already there when he walked in. Both men, in full military combat uniform, sat at the table eating their breakfast and there was an extra plate of food for him.
“Morning,” greeted Alex as he went over to take his seat.
“Morning,” answered both men almost simultaneously.
The food was fried rice, noodles and fried meats with a carton of fruit juice to wash them down. Alex dug in enthusiastically.
The three men ate quickly and once done, stood up together and headed for the storeroom. The Sergeants joined them in the hallway from the kitchen and they all moved into the storeroom together to gear up for action.
There were four tables in the storeroom and all had equipment and weapons arranged neatly on them. One table had six pistols on it, five new Glock semi-automatics and two big revolvers. The Glock pistols had high accuracy and fired 9mm ammo so there were thirteen rounds per magazine. Alex chose a Glock, checked it well and put it away in his waist hostler. He picked up five extra magazines for the gun from an open box on the table, put them in his ammo pouch and moved on to the next table. He noticed that Rufai who was next up to the pistol table, chose one of the big revolvers without hesitation.
The new table had the banana-shaped magazines for Ak-47 rifles spread out on it and five new rifles were on a rack close by, one rifle for each man. Alex took a rifle and got five extra chips for it, lots of loose bullets too. He put everything away in his ammo pouches along with two grenades from the small pile in a box on another table. He got a wonderful Commando knife with an extra saw edge, got a solid-looking digital wrist-watch, pocketed a ski mask and a new hand towel, got one of the new radio communication devices, a very light earpiece with an extended microphone to the mouth, and he was ready.
Rufai handed Alex a pair of binoculars along with the briefcase and they were all set.
In the military documents and by the insignia on their uniforms, the Sergeants and Samuel retained their ranks, Alex was a Lieutenant again and Rufai a full Captain.
“Alright people, listen up,” began Alex in an authoritative voice, looking around at the four hard men standing with him in the room, all armed and eager to move. “We’ve got a big date with some very bad people we can’t afford to keep waiting. The express purpose of this mission is to pay them their money and get our girl back, safe and unharmed.” Alex held up the phone with the girl’s photo for all to see particularly the Sergeants who hadn’t seen it before. “These people we are going to do business with are very bad, but we are worse. We are not going there to start any trouble, we don’t want to join the bloody war, but if they bring the trouble, then we’ll have no choice than to feed it back to them and get our girl back the hard way. Whichever way this goes, our priority will still remain the same… the girl.” Alex paused to give his word weight, holding the phone up again for them to see. He glanced around at the faces of each man again. Satisfied they understood him very clearly, he abruptly looked at his watch., “0400 hours it is, people, let’s move it.”
“ON THE WAY!!!” yelled Garko and Efosa in unison and headed purposefully for the door.
Having locked the house securely and turned off the generators, the men piled into the bus.
Sargent Efosa got in behind the wheels while Alex took the front passenger seat next to him. Rufai and Samuel got in the back, taking the first row of back seats directly behind the front seats in which Alex and Efosa sat.
Sergeant Garko got the gates open and the bus drove out of the compound, then stopped in the middle of the dark street outside to wait as he relocked the gates, ran up and jumped in.
Efosa eased the accelerator down and the powerful engine made a very audible deep purring sound in the dead quiet of the night as the bus moved off down the empty road.