THE ANGEL AND THE FUGITIVE – CHAPTER SEVEN PART B
© Reginald Obetta
With subsequent missions, Tafa turned into a world class act and he was sung like a song by Ruff. His intelligence earned him a higher rank and drew jealousy from other members, though, it wasn’t apparent but Tafa knew it. He was able to handle guns effectively and efficiently, detonate and deactivate bombs. Three days later, the group was out on a mission to do some burglary for fun. They were to spy on the three streets to monitor situation and get reports, one was where the mall was located, where Tafa and Rogers headed, the other two were opposite, where Ruff and the rest had taken routes, making sure no one was readily available. They moved in two’s as usual. The streets was unusually cold, scary and at the same time, looked like something was amiss, but was undecipherable. Maybe the insecurity in the state had made everyone stay indoors. The mall was the biggest in the city and previously, were open till 10.pm,but like the deserted street, they opened on selected days and closed before 5.pm. From their surveys, no one was detected around and as they got closer to the entrance, gun shots were fired at them from no particular position. Unexpectedly, they ran behind the electric poles as cover, some ran behind the mall, still, it was as if, the shots were coming from close range. Few weapons were with them, they didn’t expect to run into their trap. It was by no mistake that they had been ambushed. Soon, Ruff noticed one of the shooters, a little from afar and shot at the from where he hid, the rest shot sporadically. Tafa hid behind old blocks, got a sight of another shooter and shot at him. Ruff’s men continually ran out of bullets, Ruff told them to run without looking back which they did but then, one of them Al-Amin was shot twice and was hemorrhaging. Ruff couldn’t help it, seeing one of his members dying at the forefront. Bullets were flying in the air and Al-Amin hemorrhaged profusely, Ruff dived and crawled but Tafa was closer, he had long reacted before Ruff did and so, Al-Amin was saved, on the run to safety, one of the soldiers aimed at Tafa, Ruff calculated it was Tafa and after it had been fired, he took the bullet, Tafa looked back and saw Ruff was down but he was safe with Al-Amin, he cut out some parts of his vest and arrested the bleeding. They all knew Ruff wasn’t going to make it after sustaining three shots. Two of them had lost their lives, the new entrees on their first mission to burgle. They watched from their hideout that the shooters withdrew, probably they saw no one to shoot at, they took five of their men that died during the shootout and left. Only Rogers and Tafa came out of their hiding, they suspected the shooters had not gone very far. They wanted to avoid more men dying. Ruff was still breathing, they hurriedly took him to where the rest were hiding, each tore a piece of their clothes and wrapped it against the parts that bled;
“You are not going to die, you will live “, were Tafa’s words of encouragement, even if it seemed not too encouraging. Ruff was in a pretty bad shape, the thoughts of him living was very slim, he had gotten deep wounds.
“Hhhooowww is he?”, he managed to speak. He was concerned about the health of Al-Amin.
“He is fine for now at least, till we take him to a more comfortable place for proper wound dressing”. Ruff was happy about the assurance, it was read all over his face as he smiled. He was happy to trade his life for his. He kept coughing profusely, emitting blood from his mouth. It was apparent, he wouldn’t survive in the next minute. He took out a symbol, in the form of necklace from his pocket , held it in his hands. Others waited to see who he would give it to, it was a necklace of authority and power, every subsequent leader will wear. Rogers was the obvious person as he was a rank behind Ruff but that wasn’t the case, he held it towards Tafa, who was quizzical. To him, he was just a newbie, others deserved it better than he does. Others frowned at the decision especially Rogers who considered it biased.
“Your heroic deeds today was marvelous and totally deserved to be the recipient of this. Don’t forget your beliefs, don’t live in the thralldom of anyone, continue to be the new self you have discovered, who you are now is who you actually are, implies to all of you. Take this”, he handed it over to Tafa, who wore it almost immediately.
“Rule like the leader I never was”. The rest held out his hand and he gave up the ghost. It was a black day for them.
“We promise you, we will”, Tafa wrapped his body and with the aid of others, they took him to bury in one of their cribs, outside the school.
“We got them sir, three of them went down but the rest fled”, one of the soldiers spoke through his walkie-talkie. He was communicating with the defense quarters about their operation. The soldiers drove back to their camp in tankers.
“Do you confirm Baigari state as their location”
“Yes, but we are not too sure if they are terrorists or armed robbers for they headed the mall to steal”
“You are saying is still unconfirmed ”
“Not good. Good job. Continue the good work”
“Thank you sir”, the soldier ended.
The news circulated in all the media in the morning about the shootout with unknown armed men, they assumed were a terrorist group in Baigari State. Discovering their niche and the shootout raised a satisfactory remarks about the military maneuver from the citizens. The news was sent by Public Relation Officer who ensured proper editing before releasing the statement. Of course, to get a vote of confidence and maximize the president’s chances of winning the Election. Many considered the president’s deployment as a good implementation, widely applauded. The truth behind it was nobody knew actually the body of the news, whether it was a terrorist group or armed robbers was inconsequential, they needed to make the people believe they had actually hit something, that they working at optimum level.
The burial had taken place, in far away Zani, a city in the outskirts of the state. Tafa was ultimately, the new leader in a quiet ceremony, the same night Ruff was buried. Tafa had declared that day and the day after as days of bereavement. He couldn’t stop crying. He took it upon himself to avenge his death. He summoned the rest after the bereavement, his presence became more fierce, evil and terrified everyone.
“Ruff is dead, may his soul rest in perfect peace”, he started.
“This is a new era, a new beginning with new set of rules with. We are one family, you have no other. You have only one life and that is here, with us. No going out alone, everyone should have a soul mate, a confidant and should be responsible for you anytime. There is a price for every violation of our rules, you all know that is death. We are going full blown, we will be known and be famous, our names shall reign high. We will burn down churches, government buildings but first thing is first, our niche has been discovered, the government is at our neck, we are getting out of this place, out of campus and never come back except when necessary, no more schooling or whatsoever. And we will hit them for our dead brothers, for Ruff. And one more thing, no one should say nothing while leaving. All of you should call me Bin-Ahmed, and not the cool headed Tafa. We kill in the name of Al-hida. Any questions? ”
When he saw no one endeavored to ask, he dismissed them. He got a call immediately on Ruff’s phone after their departure and received.
“Tafa, it’s Alhaji Saheed”
“How did you know my name”
“I know everything. My eyes are everywhere. You are their leader now and only answerable to me. Imbibe his qualities and be absolutely loyal to me. It’s time to get the real jobs done. Your pay with the rest will be doubled. You know what do next right?”
“Yes, I do. It’s been planned”
“Good, will be glad to work with you. Impress me, more than your predecessor ”
“Yes sir”, he hung up.
He knew what he wanted to do, he had already told his subordinates but they will be launching the attack on the military base of the state the next day in day time, before they sign-off the from the state.