(Continued from The Warrior Princess VI)
“There isn’t a single federal police helicopter on the airspace between Chuka and Nairobi. What my people can see are six military choppers,” Kashfa, the leader of the drug cartel tells Chairman. “Either they have already arrived, or you have been misinformed.”
The Chairman ponders this for a while. There is no way the choppers could have arrived. He acted with speed when he was informed of the disaster at the hospital. And the CEO made the call while the choppers were still on the ground.
He was not misinformed either. Why would the CEO come up with such a lie? It is Ingrid who has played a number on him. For the first time he feels panic gnawing at him. For her to have pulled a fast one on him, she must have anticipated his move. Maybe she is as good as they say she is.
“I am sure they are in some of the six. Can you bring them all down?”
He has realized that Ingrid is going to be a problem. Maybe it is better if she is dead.
“We cannot do that Chairman. Not even for you. Shooting down military planes will put us at cross hairs with our friends and we cannot afford that. We cannot afford to have the military as our enemy. Besides, I doubt we can do any harm to those planes. They are equipped with anti-missiles,”
The Chairman sighs.
“But how did Ingrid get military planes for her operations? I am sure the choppers that landed at the two hospitals were NCIS planes. At what point was the switch done?”
“We are also looking into that. We are also concerned. If she is now allying herself with the military, that makes her very dangerous. We will have to find a way to get rid of her. But we will find out what is going on from our friends in the military soon,”
“Okay. Please let me know. She is becoming a pain in my behind too.”
He hangs up and switches off his cell phone. He climbs up to the warehouse and leaves the phone on the desk that is normally used by the warehouse foreman. Then he goes back underground. The door leading underground is concealed by an old sack. If the Feds track his phone, or if they have followed him, they will find his phone and think he escaped through the back door. All communication from his underground office will be through a secure telephone that was installed for him by a bunch of tech savvy Chinese youth that Kashfa recommended.
Ingrid smiles. The Chairman has no idea that her officers have already bugged his phones, his office, his car and his home. And by tracking his cell phones, they already know he is hiding in his farm. What she likes about the NCIS officers is their efficiency. When she asked them to plant listening devices on the Chairman’s office, they went ahead and bugged his phones, home and car. NCIS officers are taught to listen to the unspoken instructions of the boss. Now she is going to listen to every single conversation the Chairman has whether at home, in the car or in his office. That is the reason she doesn’t want him arrested yet. She needs more information from him, through his phone calls.
His call to Kashfa has opened another war front that her agency needs to explore. She now knows that Kashfa and his cartel have links to the military, and that is why it has been near impossible to bring them to book. Now she is going to find out who their military contacts are and destroy them.
One thing Kashfa and the Chairman haven’t put into consideration is that the newly elected President Leodong is a former NCIS Director. Before that he had worked as the head of intelligence at Kenya Army. Leodong is the man who built NCIS into the fearsome institution it is today. He is not only incorruptible, he is totally committed to fighting the vice. He had envisioned NCIS as institution that fights not only murderers, rapists and robbers, but also one that puts white collar criminals behind bars. But he was frustrated by successive governments and wasn’t able to put even a single big time corrupt official behind bars. That is what pushed him into politics.
Now he is the President and the first thing he did after being sworn in was to renew Ingrid’s term. And he had very specific instructions for her:
“I have a lot of admiration for you Ingrid. I know murderers and rapists fear you. I will make sure you have the support you need so that the white collar cartels fear you as well. I know there is all that business about the separation of powers, and I respect it. But let your officers watch the judges, magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors. If anyone takes a bribe to kill a case, arrest them and haul them before another judge. If that other judge cuts corners to protect their fellow judge, arrest them too. I don’t care whether we will arrest all of them or not, but having a clean judicial system is the first step towards our winning the war against white collar criminals.”
Those words coming from the President were music to her ears. She will put one of her deputies to work on Kashfa, his cartel and their military links. For now she is devoting herself to the Tharaka Nithi cartel and will use it to demonstrate to the President that she is willing to put his trust to work.
But the Tharaka Nithi matter is also personal for her. She is blaming herself for her husband’s shooting. When Karwitha got kidnapped, she had wanted to intervene, but when she told her husband he reminded her that they had an agreement not to meddle in each other’s career. In his opinion, having his wife look into their enemies constituted unfair advantage.
“They are not being fair C,” she had pleaded at the time. “Kijamba wanted to kill Karwitha. Everyone knows that. I do not want to do anything that will give you an unfair advantage in the race. You and Karwitha have already won the election. I just want my officers to watch that Kijamba guy so that he doesn’t get any more stupid ideas.”
But Charles was stubbornly adamant, and Ingrid backed away. Now she cannot stop blaming herself for backing away. She could have discreetly scared away Kijamba, and Charles wouldn’t have known. Yes, she knows that if she starts doing things behind Charles back the trust that her twenty-six-year marriage to Charles has been built on will start getting eroded. But then again if Charles was killed there would have been no marriage to protect.
There is no need to cry over spilt milk though. All she can do now is hope that Charles will make it. Then channel all that anger she is feeling towards dismantling the Caucus and getting all those crooks behind bars.
Dave is taken to the NCIS offices in Embu where he is locked up. He will be charged in the Federal High Court tomorrow. Since his offence is federal, he cannot be charged in the State Courts.
He is allowed to make a phone call. He tries to call Celina to find out what is going on but her phone is off. He is now terrified. He is staring at the death sentence. Kenya has adamantly refused to do away with the death penalty, even though many other countries have done so. In fact, former President Swazuri, in a departure from a forty year tradition, ordered the execution of all the inmates on death row who did not have appeals pending. But death is no longer by hanging. These days the death penalty is enforced through a lethal injection.
A brand new execution center was set up at Kamiti Maximum Prison, and death row inmates of both genders from prisons across the country are taken to Kamiti’s death row a week before their set date of execution. It took six months of daily injections to clear the backlog of death row inmates.
So the death penalty is a big deal these days. President Leodong has already signed the death warrants of four death row inmates since he was sworn in two weeks ago. Dave knows he will have to get a very good lawyer to escape the death penalty. Fortunately, with the little law he knows, he knows that if he gets a good lawyer, he can plea bargain: get a prison sentence in exchange for information that can get Celina behind bars. He doesn’t know how that works though, and that is why he needs to get a lawyer.
He calls his brother and asks him to find the best criminal lawyer in the country. Money is not a problem. His shady deals have earned him a tidy sum which is tucked away in his account. He has been living only on his salary.
Kibaara is not worried even as he is led to the cells. He knows the Chairman will take care of things. The Caucus always takes care of its people. If they have to be punished, it punishes them itself. Losing their jobs is the obvious punishment. Hopefully, that will be the only punishment they will face.
Kibaara is cursing himself silently for allowing Celina to include that fool Henry in their plans. Now they have lost their jobs and the millions of shillings the deal would have brought, and have been humiliated by being paraded in cuffs like common thieves in front of their staff.
The Chairman removes his spectacles and wipes them. It is a habit he has when he is nervous. And right now it feels like the walls are caving in and threatening to squeeze him to death. He is not used to acting impulsively, but today he did and now it has landed him in a lot of trouble. He should have allowed Kijamba to go ahead with his plans of eliminating those two. Even if he had failed, the Caucus had a decent plan of ousting the Governor and his deputy. But he allowed himself to get carried away by impulse and intervene, and thanks to those incompetents on his payroll, the feds led by that woman Ingrid are on his back.
He rotates in his chair while still wiping his spectacles. He needs a solution. Finally he gets it: if he gets rid of Henry, Kibaara, Celina, Anne and Dave, the feds will have no-one to prosecute. Any law enforcement officer would let the matter drop if the key suspects are dead. But he knows that the death of those five will make Ingrid chase the Caucus even harder. So she will have to die as well. Her death will scare off her successor and the Caucus will be left alone.
Tonight he will take care of his incompetent employees, then tomorrow he will take care of Ingrid. He will take care of the Governor and her deputy after the small issue of the feds is straightened out.
As Anne is driving home in the evening, she notices a red Nissan Juke tailing her. She takes a detour and drives to Chuka town center. The red Juke follows. She drives back to the hospital and goes looking for Dr. Henry. The red Juke does not enter the hospital but drives straight ahead. She finds Henry in his office. With Kibaara and Celina in federal custody, Henry and Anne has been able to work peacefully throughout the day. That might not be the case tomorrow if their bosses are released on bail. But Anne and Henry have purposed to cross that bridge when they get there.
Henry is surprised to see Anne waiting for him at the car park, and he is stunned to hear that people have been following her. He had almost thought they had gotten away with their insubordination because their bosses are in federal custody. They agree to spend the night in a hotel in Embu town. So they hail an Uber to confuse whoever might be waiting for either of their cars outside the hospital gate. Anne doesn’t like the idea but she has no alternative. She simply cannot go to her apartment alone.
Anne wakes up coughing. There is a lot of smoke in the room. Last night they hired a two bedroom apartment within the new Capital Ero Hotel in Embu. The apartment is very expensive, and they agreed to figure out a cheaper solution in the morning. They wanted to be near each other for security, but could not spend the night in the same room for obvious reasons.
Searing heat promptly notifies Anne that the hotel is on fire. She dashes out of her room. Smoke is everywhere. She tries the front foot but it is locked. It is Henry who locked it. Henry. She dashes to his room to check on him. Fortunately, he did not lock his door. She pushes it open and finds him still in bed, unconscious. Great. Not only does she have to figure out how to save her skin, she has the additional burden of saving an unconscious friend. Anne sizes up the windows. They are not grilled, but the apartment is on the fifteen floor of the hotel tower. There are no balconies on any floor. There is no getting out. They are as good as dead. She checks her phone: 3:15 am.
There is chaos at the NCIS offices in Chuka. It is early morning and the guards would normally be preparing to take the remandees to court. But two corpses have been found in the cells. The male one belongs to the CEO of Chuka State Hospital, while the female one belongs to the Medical Superintendent of the same hospital. That is not all. A third body had been reported by the NCIS office in Embu. It belongs to a Dr. David Kinoti, a surgeon at Eagle Flight Hospital in Embu State. No one knows the cause of their deaths, and they have no visible injuries. Their fellow inmates are not talking.
The excitement is palpable. Phones are ringing left, right and center. Officers and other staff are murmuring amongst themselves. None of them has ever seen anything like this before.
Ingrid opens her lunch. She is famished. The food was procured from a nearby restaurant by one of the office assistants. She is eating in the office today as she tries to monitor the situation in Embu and Tharaka Nithi States. Three suspects in the attempted assassination of her husband and his new boss died in the cells. The two people who helped them survive are suspected dead after a hotel burnt down in Embu last night.
She knows the Caucus is behind these incidents, but if she doesn’t move quickly to link them to the three confirmed deaths, it is her agency that will shoulder the blame. After all, the three died while under the custody of the NCIS. She will have to work around the clock to find out how the Caucus breached her agency’s stations in the two States and murdered the three.
What she doesn’t know is that the Caucus has breached her office at the headquarters as well, and that the food she is about to take is poisoned.
.We are wrapping up this story on Friday. That is when I will release the novella. In the meantime, if you haven’t bought last month’s novella (Sandra) or the January bonus novella (A Wealthy Widow in Kangema) you can still do so by either one of two ways:
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