Chapter 3: the current II

"You should have seen their faces," he said while laughing. He actually laughed, Unbelievable!

"It's not a joke, Emeka," I replied, not sparing him a glance as we walked down the halls. He had always had this nonchalant attitude to him and it was nerve racking sometimes.

My mind was even still hovering on the fact that I might have issues with the Commander because of this guy beside me. Richard Young was strict in his dealings, never failing to spare any of his boys that defaulted and broke rules. I had a fall out with him last month for some personal reasons and another one following it up in line would just be destructive.

It was unbecoming of me to keep disappointing Richard, I still had so much to pay for.

"Come on, Lade, lighten up, we are not in trouble," he said, still finding everything amusing. Emeka threw his arms around my shoulder, leaning his weight on me a little as we walked. I elbowed him away right after but I wouldn't deny that my annoyance had faded by the time mentioned.

After a while, I checked my watch and about five minutes had gone by. It would have then taken another three to finally reach the conference hall. Everything about this place was large and extreme, but that had surely been noted, as we had prepared ourselves already for the long but hasty walk.

Emeka didn't seem rattled and I strongly wondered how he had always managed to seem calm. It was like he was constantly breezy with nothing that could rile him up in existence. In a way, he could have just been putting up a pretentious stance for all eyes to see but on another hand, it could have just been him being plainly him - acting in a manner as if actually, nothing had really ever bothered him.

I didn't want to jinx it though but I guess Emeka already had because at the next turn, we were both met with the scowling face of our commander.

We saluted immediately and when he gave us the command to rest, I made sure my eyes were on every other thing except him and it was funny because Emeka did as though he hadn't understood what was going on. Tricky bastard! He endlessly acted like the fool on every occasion but I would always know that deep down, there was a more calculated and astute guy, maybe even cold too.

"Seems like you two have grown wings," the Commander said in a steely tone to the both of us but Emeka nonetheless just kept his head down, trapping me in the place of being the one to deliver reasons and answers.

"No sir," I replied firmly, straightening my features like we were taught.

"What time is it?"

"10:54 am, sir," I answered, using my programmed military voice.

"And what does that mean?" He asked but I had bent my head in response, now lacking the boldness in my speech after learning that he had caught on to our slip up.

"No answer?" He questioned again, arching a brow and following it up with a mirthless laugh. I glanced at my side and still, I had seen Emeka's head hung as if obediently. I was alone in this, meaning any wrong words and it would all be on me, he might even end up being completely forgotten.

"No sir," I said in denial once more, lifting my head and trying to act with as much mettle as I could muster. When I had finally answered, he had looked at me as though waiting for a more detailed explanation and so, I gave it my best shot.

"Uhm, Sir with all due respect, we hadn't intended to miss the briefings this morning but we were held up unexpectedly by an unconventional scene involving an army officer and we had to settle it," I explained, making sure I avoided mortification, trying my best not to end up stuttering as I stared at the stern, half Asian man before me.

He didn't say anything further as he held my gaze, contemplating his next line of action.

"Meet me in my office after the meeting, the both of you, Now proceed!" He ordered, pointing at us both just as his steely eyes set themselves firmly in our direction. We didn't waste anymore time. Emeka and I had scurried away from his presence, seeing as the whole discussion hadn't been exactly pleasant for us.

A minute to the meeting time and we walked in through the conference hall's panel door. It had almost been too overwhelming and breathtaking as I took in the view before me. Men and Women from different ranks in the military and many other organisations, were seated on each of the twin chairs spread across the arena.

The hall was spacious, probably capable of swallowing voices if not without the help of a public address system. On the right hand side sat the ICRC, NSC and the homicide Bureau, then to the left was the special forces, and the armed forces which consisted of the Navy, the police and the air force. Directly at the centre was where the ICS sat, our black coats an entirely different attire from the others. With us sat some Senators and important Ministers while the Chief of Defence, Mr Dan Gambari and the Vice President, Abubakar Ali sat on the high table before us all.

We had gone our separate ways. I headed to the front of the seats reserved for the D3 agents of the ICS while Emeka joined the J4 agents behind, who were lower than us in ranks but still performed almost the same functions.

The arena became quiet when the Vice President picked up the mic to address us. I didn't forsee his presence but I guess him being here was a necessity as he was the second in command in the whole nation. Our attitudes and body postures had shifted to being more rigid and highly concentrated on the man and the words about to be spoken. Even I noticed the involuntary shift in my actions, I had entered into work mode now. No time for jokes or unseriousness as this was a National Crisis we were currently trying to solve.

Mr. Abubakar had started with his opening remarks, stating the obvious circumstances that we were well aware of. Of course, he had written another boring speech due to protocol, instead of getting to the main point of the event.

"I welcome you all seated here to the first emergency meeting consisting of all the security personnels we have ever had in the country. I appreciate your presence and interest in coming here to join ideas and create a standard solution that would save us from this evil that has befallen our dear land.

It was about 10 years ago..."

He began for the second time and I had trailed off as he was about to go down a path in history that was absolutely time wasting and irrelevant. I had crossed my legs, bending and resting my elbows on the arm of the seat while looking straight at the stage. It appeared as though I was fully engrossed in the boring tale the Vice president was currently delivering but I wasn't, instead I was thinking.

My thoughts were currently on the move, as it began to trace the previous engagements and hostilities of the terrorist group, Jama'atu Haram. Why was it that this group of ignorant persons were smarter than a whole nation's military? I needed to state the obvious here, it was strange that they had all the resources capable of turning a whole nation into chaos but yet, were a bunch of nobodies.

Despite the fact that I was deep in thought, my eyes still silently scanned the room, registering every action vividly and precisely. An important conference of this sort could end up having problems accompanying it, and so, I was sure a majority of us here were on the look out, expecting and searching for anything strange or discrete actions that just didn't add up.

I almost missed it but I didn't, those subtle fidgets, never seeming to be comfortable in a sitting and the constant adjustment of the cap sleeve. It was rather weird as there was absolutely no sign of comfort and easiness on the person's features.

My eyes were fixated upon the woman sitting at the far end of the row in front of mine, wearing a rather provocative red lace gown with an elegant updo hairstyle. She was quite attractive but surely that hadn't been what had caught my attention. We were trained to always discern people's thoughts and actions through their body movements and now this woman in question was visibly a bundle of nerve endings.

This meeting was top secret. The President didn't want any information conjured up within these walls leaked without his assent and we were here to formulate a winning plan that would put us a step ahead of these terrorists. The need to smarten up and change strategies had challenged us but now, could this strange woman be the sought out loose end?

People might have overlooked her, thinking she may have been amongst the present ministers or representatives, but I didn't, I had seen through the facade.

I knew first hand how it felt to be the different person amidst a bunch of others and yes, I would admit, this woman was strikingly beautiful. She had classy looks and her style was chic but there was clearly an agenda.

It was very obvious at least to me. The perfect dress for the perfect disguise, something that would throw any attention on her, off from the principal fact which I had strongly doubted was any good. In truth, my eyes were still looking straight at the stage but from that moment onwards, I was focused on her every move.

She posed as a threat to the day's mission; acting as a spy or an informant, maybe she had even been sent here on a suicide mission. Either way, one could never be too sure. It was at this point that I knew I had to do something to eliminate the possible threat but quietly.

It was only an inferred notion on my part but there was no one in this room who didn't expect the Jama'atu Haram to infiltrate this conference. In essence, we all knew they would be here lurking in the shadows or attempting to spout chaos in some way. Certainly, I could eventually be wrong about her but then, I could be right as well.

Principally, I had no intentions to cause a scene, and so, carefully and tactfully, I alighted from my seat, going round to where the woman was seated on the other column but closely opposite to mine.

I took heed to ensure that my movements weren't noticed but apparently, when I had reached the end of the aisle, I felt the weight of someone's stare on my back. I snuck a glance backwards, discovering at the close that it had been Emeka's eyes glued to my every move. It hadn't shocked me. The way he perceived things in quick and volant successions was almost striking.

Now, a guard holding a tray of drinks had passed me by and ridiculously, it had shown how grave and tight the level of security here was but sadly, only quick thinking had the power to stop the Jama'atu.

Workers weren't permitted to be inside and in their place, some low ranked soldiers waited on the guests. Successively, the light in the room was luckily dimmed as a result of the introduced projector at the front and quickly assuming my role on time, I stood for a while at an area closer to the edge where it had been a lot darker, waiting patiently for the same guard with the drinks to pass by again.

I had a plan, no doubt. Sure it was bit sudden and uncalculated but nevertheless, it was still the oldest trick in the book and I had clearly known that it wouldn't result in confusion and end up disrupting the serenity of this meeting.

But I could only just hope that the guards tray wouldn't be emptied by the time he had completed his rounds...

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