EGGSHELL 2

 

 

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Lagos, Nigeria

 

March 12, 1995.

 

 

Dogo was good at what he did. When you are trained by the best and work for a ruthless, unforgiven group of devils you have no option than to be the best. So following the man had not been a difficult affair. The target had no clue what was on and had gone about his business without inkling that he had suddenly grown a second shadow.

 

He waited for him in his car outside of his office block at the Oregun address given to him (along with some other scanty info that had been gathered and placed in a paper folder). From that point on it was easy to confirm his house address, get his bank details and other financial info that was important to his client; to even identifying his main circle of friends, clients and business associates. All these intel had been gathered in just a week, showing how easy this particular quarry was. Much more were still streaming in from the telephone that had been tapped and his apartment that had been bugged.

 

It was too easy, and that made him worry. From what he had been told he didn’t expect it to be this easy.

 

What this particular guy was to do he didn’t know. He cared less even, he just had a job to do and so far it looked like a piece of cake. He however knew he had to prepare the target. That was the exact words that had been used.  If some chap had been foolish enough to cross his client, then that was his own funeral.

 

These are high stakes and the people he was with, those who had picked the target, and had asked that his background be checked out; don’t joke around at the table. They needed as much intel on this whiz as much as possible – the greasier they come the better.

 

The target was described as a whiz in the report. But, how did he get qualified as such? He had shown as much brain as a chicken since he picked up his trail at his office last week. He would have expected him to be a bit more discrete and a bit more aware – pick up on some oddities, if he was half as smart as he had been described in the briefing papers.  But maybe he was just one of those geeky types who can’t see beyond their noses. Not even when a pair of pointed tits got poked at them.

 

He waited in the car, the stereo on but his eyes firmly fixed on the twin gates in front of the one-storey block house where his target had gone in earlier, and from which he expected him to re-emerge. They were the only exits open to him, unless of course he decided to scale the seven-foot wall and escape through the back. But, that could only happen if he had been spotted by his quarry. So far, he didn’t think that had happened and if the past week had been any indication of the capabilities of this target, he wouldn’t be jumping any fences. He would walk right out of the gate (his calculated guess being the one to the left – the same one he went in through). He had sat there for about two hours waiting for him to come out and head for the airport. He’d thought about waiting for him at the airport, but ruled that out, as he wanted to tail him all the way there. He might pick up a few more important intel that way.

 

He knew his target’s destination – he had booked his own ticket to the Seychelles within the same hour after he booked his (a reserved seat, right next to the target, which he was able to swing with the help of his friends in the secret service). It might have been difficult otherwise, but his contacts had been able to find him what he wanted. It was one debt he owed and would one day find a way to pay back.

 

As inexperienced and seemingly unremarkable as the target was, he seems to know his way around some. He had been able to wing himself a very good seat on the business class section of the plane – window seat very close to the exit. But, he needed to know if he was capable of carrying through on the tough assignment that lay ahead of him.  A task he had been nominated for without his knowledge or consent.  A task he needs to take on and successfully carry out or his life would become unimaginably unbearable.

 

And it was his job to hand him the ultimate test that will prepare him for the task. If he succeeded, he gets to live. But, if he failed in his task then tough luck for him.

 

The target finally stepped out from his apartment (using the left gate as he had predicted), he boarded the waiting cab and they drove out of the street. In thirty minutes they arrived at the airport and the protocol of checking in and boarding took exactly another hour. He quietly took his own reserved seat next to the unsuspecting target, clamped on his headphone and proceeded to sleep through most of the flight.

 

 

 

***

 

Port Victoria, Seychelles

 

March 12, 1995.

 

The plane landed smoothly at the Aéroport de la pointe Larue in Greater Victoria at exactly 8.05 p.m, after more than seven hours of flying and taxied to a stop on the tarmac. The night air was windy and Wemimo breathed in deeply as he stepped off the ramp, tasting the tanginess of it on his tongue – the result of the evaporated salty water from the ocean. It felt good and he felt the least tired from the flight, with a brief stopover in Jo’burg.

 

He took a cab from the airport; he needed to be careful how he spent his money while he was in this glittering island of pleasure. His head told him he was spending too much for his pitch for this project already, a project he had not even won. But, Wemimo was a purist and his heart as always, was ruling in this struggle. He felt the need to put in as much preparation into his proposals for the pitch as possible. It was a multi-billion naira business prospect and a few hundred thousand there and another there, even a couple of million quid spent towards winning it wouldn’t be money thrown away. He had done some homework on the company – BK Infometrics Inc., and found that it was a company that prided itself as a lover of everything indigenous. That to Wemimo, was information he intended to play to his great advantage. Hence, he was ready to go the extra-mile he knew a lot of other indigenous firms who would tender for this pitch might not go to. And if what he had learned of BK is true, then he had a better chance of winning the contract for their new HQ than any foreign firm that puts in a proposal. He just had to play his cards right and put his ideas – all of them, together to pull in the same direction on this one.

 

In warfare, a superior strategy will only help you win wars but it was the dedication and loyalty of your men that definitely counts at the end of the day. Most important however, is having information on your enemy and laying your hands on some quality inside intel.

 

It was for that reason he was here in the Seychelles, he thought to himself, as the cab rode along the Victoria-Providence Highway. He looked out of the window in wonder at the beautiful night sight, made of thousands and thousands of brilliant lights. The water under the bridge as the cab streaked along shimmering and glistening under the night skies.  Wemimo turned over his idea for his proposal again in his mind. It was an idea that had never been attempted by any construction and engineering firm in Nigeria. His dream for the project sounded hare-brained, but the advertisement had asked for exactly that – he recollected the phrase vividly, ‘ideas and design that will trouble the hearts of men, yet win the admiration of all’. That was the brief and he was here to try and find the key to unlocking a very special door that will ensure his idea does just that, ultimately leading to him winning a contract that will change his entire future landscape for him. The idea he had for the architectural design he knew would be avant garde, and almost outlandish. But, the execution was going to be tricky that is why he needed to be here to lay his hands on some valuable blueprints.

 

In the meantime, he needed to try and conserve his funds too. So, he asked the cab driver for tips on where he could find a nice and affordable accommodation. Acting on the advice he got from his Mauritian cab driver he was recommended to the relatively cheap, yet exquisite, Le Relax hotel & Restaurant.

 

They rode for about twenty minutes before they arrived at the hotel, an exquisite three-storied Gregorian-styled building with the outside elaborately decorated with stucco walls, a large fountain and a well-kept lawn – the cactuses bordering the walk up the wide stairs into the front lobby were profuse, yet elegant.

 

The cab deposited him at the foot of the wide staircase which led up into the impressive piece of architecture that housed the Le Relax. Wemimo’s appreciation of the architectural perspicuity of the people behind the building was heightened when he stepped through the revolving doors into the wide, almost circular lobby. Its high domed roof was intimidating, while the circular railings on every floor gave the place the feel of an atrium. The floor was decorated with a deep dark tile that shone in the brilliant lighting of scores of hanging lights that drooped from the ceiling high above. The brilliance of the lights made the whiteness of the walls of the circular lobby even more accentuated.

 

In a semi-circle facing directly opposite the revolving door, was the attendants’ station. There were six of them – three male and three females, all clad in beautifully cut grey suit jackets. Wemimo approached the one right in the middle, his training coming to the fore in making the decision – the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. He approached the male attendant and in a few minutes and with little fuss, he was detailed a porter who took his sparse luggage to room 431. And just like the cab driver had said, the accommodation was cheap, relative to what he was getting in return– at least judging by what he has seen so far of the hotel. A real bargain he thought to himself as he approached the bank of elevators with the porter.

 

His mind was already working out the details of how he was going to spend his short trip in this famous archipelago. This was not strictly a pleasure trip, but he could do with some fun and if anything he had seen of the hotel attendants was anything to go by, he was sure he was not going to be bored.  But, business before pleasure, as always is with him. It was the way it should be, you take care of your business first. It is only after that you can relax and have yourself some fun. And for him, this trip was all about gathering information. Information that will help him on his pitch for the new business portfolio he was chasing.

 

The purpose of his trip and the best ways to approach his mission, were the thoughts that occupied him as the elevator’s door closed. He did not see the other man who approached the same attendant who had attended to him only a few minutes before. The same man who had sat beside him on the plane from Lagos, Nigeria.

 

The man who glanced at him with interest as the doors closed on him.

 

 

 

***

 

Greater Victoria, Seychelles

 

March 12, 1995.

 

He knew she would be professional in discharging her duties; she was well-trained in counter-intelligence and defensive and offensive combat – a more-than-enough match for the target. But, the protocols still needed to be followed. He had set them up himself and would not be the one who breached it. Rules were rules, and they were meant to be followed.

 

So, he waited for her to come to his room – room 430 in the Le Relax hotel, for a proper briefing on contact point with the target and other details of her operation. It could have been set up elsewhere, but it had been a while they had seen each other. Plus, privacy was a key element in all of this. They couldn’t be seen together, in case any thing went wrong. That however, wasn’t all of the reason for meeting here in his room. In the meantime, he had showered and helped himself to two glasses from the bottle of fine Chardonnay that the hotel had thoughtfully placed in an ice-bucket on his center table. He was in a dress robe, with one hand stuck in one of the deep pockets while the other clutched his glass of wine. He drifted to the windows, staring at the large expanse of water that made the view breathtaking. He always loved the ocean. It had a strangely calming effect on the volcano of emotions that constantly welled up inside him. He let himself be lost to the rhythmic noise of the waves as it crashed against the dykes. He was still standing at the window, staring at the distant lights when the soft knock on the door announced her arrival.

 

Dogo smiled to himself. Now it was going to start….

 

***

 

Kano, Nigeria

 

March 13, 1995.

 

“We need to move this project along faster Abu.”

“I know.”

He delivered the statement with an inflection that suggested he won’t brook further comment on the matter. None came in the few short seconds he paused to sip at his water and continue, “I totally agree we are behind schedule, but we need to be more cautious now than ever before. The whole thing is now at its most critical stage and any mistake; any call of wrong judgment will bring everything down like a pack of cards. The domino effect I believe it is called and I know no one at this table wants us to fail on this.” He looked around the table and proceeded to fix the men an appraising stare.

 

They remained silent, except for the occasional rustle of agbada and scraping of chairs. He knew they were getting impatient, but only he knew how important it was not to allow impatience jeopardize the success of the project. A project he had kick-started two years back – even before any of the men seated had any inkling what was going on or what was to happen if no action was taken.

 

Foresight – he prided himself on having plenty of it. He had been proven right on too many occasions for him to ever doubt his instincts. He looked around reassuringly at the faces around the table.  Four men, powerful captains of industry who had decided to throw their hats into the ring with him stared back at him. Their resolution was clear and their commitment unshakeable, not after they had come this far in two years. They were playing a dangerous game they all knew; but these men knew and understood the score. Nevertheless, they needed reassurances once in a while to keep them on track and their focus aligned towards the main goal.

 

Everyone needs reassurance, especially when there is so much at stake.

 

“Gentlemen, everything is working out as planned. As at this morning, I have received a report that our ‘pilot’ is in the Seychelles. The report is as accurate as you being the one who had it firsthand. Our ‘pilot’ so far has also looked every bit what we envisaged. However, we shouldn’t rush the play along. Let us follow through on our tempering tests. It is the only way we can be sure our man will guide this ship to its final destination.” He looked around again at the faces of the men seated around the small oval table. There were still some apprehensive expressions, but that was to be expected. They are men who are playing a highly dangerous game. The kind they have never played before, so it is normal to be jittery. But, he also knew that these are men that were committed. Men that will go to the ends of the world to get results they wanted. They are tough men and EGGSHELL needed tough men to succeed.

 

They were all committed by blood to ensuring it did.

 

***

 

Greater Victoria, Seychelles

 

March 14, 1995.

 

She tapped him quietly on his shoulder, “It’s time to leave, mon chere.” When she was satisfied he was fully awake, she stepped away from the bed and walked buck naked to the dress stand at the foot-end of the bed. He watched her every step till she got to the dress stand, appreciating every inch of her lithe frame.

 

Dogo raised himself onto the headrest of the bed. She was a demon with wings, in and out of bed. She was as skilled in it as she was off it. He continued to appraise her naked figure and judged that she would have beaten many contestants at a world pageant contest; even if she didn’t win she would have given the other contestants a good run for their money. She was still as adventurous in bed as she had been those many years ago when he had met her in the SAS training camp in Herefordshire. They were a hot item together then, but that flame had died out quickly for obvious reasons. However, their longing and needs obviously hadn’t.

 

There was serious work to be done now.

 

“You know the drill, Katerina?”

 

“Oui, Abu. Don’t worry, this is a piece of cake and I am actually looking forward to meeting my boy. This looks like more fun than the last time,” the woman finished dressing, picked up the brown envelope that contained the cash and the intel on the target –intel she didn’t think she needed. However, she couldn’t tell Abu that. He can’t know. She pecked him on the cheeks before sashaying out of the room.

 

He had no doubts she was going to be able to set up the target nicely. His anxiety lay in being sprung an unpleasant surprise. He hated surprises, and yet he knew there was no way he could guarantee there won’t be any along the way.

 

Dogo fell back into bed and pulled the sheets up to his chin. He could only wait and watch carefully. He needed to call in his progress.

 

The ball was already rolling….

 

***

 

In room 431, Wemimo woke with the sunshine streaming into his room through the slightly parted curtains. He had parted them before going to bed, to allow the breeze and noise from the sea into his room. He got up from the bed and padded barefoot into the bathroom. His appointment with his contact at Club Subsix was not until around 10 that night, so he had all the morning and afternoon to tour Greater Victoria. He also had it in mind to take the catamaran into Praslin, the second largest island in the archipelago and only just an hour or so away.

 

In another hour, he was dressed casually in a light brown shirt and black trousers with black suede crepe-soled shoes to match. He left instructions with an attendant, female this time and beautiful too, for his mails to be held and his calls to be routed to his number. The attendant beamed him a smile that had a wicked hint of mischief behind it. It was something he could explore later he thought as he walked casually from the hotel into town, towards the Sir Selwyn-Clarke market. It was a beautiful day to walk around town and admire the buildings, most of them designed after old Anglo-Saxon architecture – a strong reference to the colonial roots of the area, although it was mainly French-speaking due to early occupation by explorers.

 

He noted with mild surprise that most of the buildings, even more so the residential ones, were built close to the ocean, with private beaches at the back and open access to the ocean beyond. He saw also that there were several ‘open space’ cafes along the cobble-stoned streets. These were people who lived mostly outdoors with several seating in the sunshine in groups, passing away time. Every few minutes he consulted his pocket map and re-oriented himself with his position relative to his intended destination. He strolled leisurely along the sidewalk, heading in the general direction of the city center, a few minutes later he came face-to-face with the famous Clock Tower. He turned east and walked a couple more minutes before he saw the market.

 

This was where he starts his first bit of intelligence gathering. He crossed the road and walked into the crowd heading through the wide gates.

 

============================ To Be Continued =====================

 

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