(Nigerian military intelligence, Nigerian military intelligence, Nigerian military intelligence)
El Soldat sat in a wooden armchair in the largest room of the lodge, which he used as both an office and living room. He stared gloomily at the opposite wall, his heart dark with rage.
His muscular upper body was bare now, he wore only his uniform trousers and boots. The doctors had bandaged his right shoulder, treated his other wounds and told him he would be fine in a week, but these were the least of his worries.
He had lost too many fine men today. Men he had trained well himself, putting in so much time and energy. Men who would be hard to replace.
Only three of his eight lieutenants were left now, one was very badly injured while the other four were dead. The news about Tariq had come in just minutes ago, he and his entire unit had been wiped out, all of them very good men that made his life easier here with Boko Haram. His last three surviving lieutenants stood around in the room with him now and he didn’t even know which one to put in overall charge.
The girl was gone too, just like the money, vanished into thin air just when he thought he had her completely in his hands.
According to the reports he was getting, all this was the handiwork of just one single man and not a small army like he’d thought when his convoy had been ambushed with so much firepower. It was why he had run blindly into the forest like a fool.
Yes, a fool. A fool and a coward… but was he either?
El Soldat knew that the Nigerian Military Intelligence agencies wanted him dead very badly and in such independent situations, they were far more dangerous than the military itself. The patrols had captured one member of a dedicated Special Forces team trying to get into the forest just a month ago, and although it took two days of torture, the man had eventually talked so El Soldat knew quite well that he was a badly wanted man, dead or alive.
He had known even then that it was only a matter of time before another Special Forces team came for his head and he thought that time was today when he saw that pickup suddenly blow up right before his eyes.
But it wasn’t a team. It was just one man!
One single man!
El Soldat had known exactly who that man was immediately the report came in that Tariq and his men were all dead and the body of the leader of the Nigerian soldiers was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t even surprised when his badly injured bodyguard who had been brought in from the scene of the accident, claimed to have been assaulted by the very same man.
No, he wasn’t surprised at all. He had known that man was no ordinary soldier the minute he laid eyes on him, but Special Forces hadn’t come into his mind at the time. If it had, he would have made sure the man was properly dead before leaving that church.
El Soldat stared fixedly at the wall as his mind kept working, looking for answers to troubling questions and solutions to his new problem.
How had the Nigerian Military Intelligence people even managed to become involved in a private ransom negotiation that had been kept so secret? How did one man manage to get past all the alert security checkpoints and patrols spread out over many miles and into the forest unseen? How did this man find his way so quickly here to the lodge? How had this very same man gone missing again, vanished completely into thin air with the girl and a whole jeep without leaving even a tire mark anywhere!
El Soldat thought about the girl and felt his manhood harden with desire despite the pains in his body. No woman had ever affected him the way the girl did. He hadn’t even touched her and now she was gone!
El Soldat felt the strange emptiness in his heart and tightness of sexual frustration in his body. He would get her back and he would get that motherless bastard who took her from him.
The forest was locked down tighter than a rat’s ass now and it was only a matter of time before the Nigerian soldier was flushed out from whichever hole he had disappeared into with the jeep and the girl. There was no escape for them.
Once they were caught, he would take personal charge of the Nigerian soldier’s torture and all the answers would surely come out. The man would sing like a bird.
The sound of a ringing phone reached El Soldat’s ears and Jubrin, the most senior of his three surviving lieutenants, second only to Tariq, answered his cell phone.
Jubrin listened for a minute and then spoke angrily into the phone.
El Soldat watched him carefully, gauging him.
Jubrin was in his early thirties, a good age, just two years younger than Tariq with whom he formed a good partnership. Jubrin was tall and powerfully built, cunning as a fox to boot. He could get things done right and fast and the men would definitely follow him, but would they fear him greatly like they did Tariq? Yes, they would come to fear him and quickly. Jubrin would definitely adjust to the new responsibilities but would he ever be as perfect as Tariq?
El Soldat kept watching the man and pondering on the answers to the questions running rapidly through his mind.
Jubrin finally got off his phone and looked at El Soldat with anger in his eyes.
“It’s sector fourteen,” he said. “The jeep just come out of the forest there and got away clean.”
“Accused fools and incompetence!” swore El Soldat venomously and kicked at a low side stood with his booted foot, sending the tray of fruits on it scattering. He came abruptly to his feet and faced Jubrin, voice as hard as steel. “Take all the men you need and go after that man. I want that girl back unhurt and I want that jeep back too, but alive or dead, I want that man here. You hear me?”
“I hear you, Amir,” said Jubrin with a bow. He knew he had just been officially promoted to fill up Tariq’s now vacant position and his continued existence in the land of the living depended greatly on his level of success in the task that had just been assigned to him.
Jubrin turned on his heels and hurried for the door, gesturing for the other two men to follow him.
They all went out and the door closed after them.
El Soldat was left alone now and his anger suddenly burst forth. In a flash, he snatched up the coffee table close by and hurled it against the wall.
The table shattered into pieces against the solid hardwood wall.