“You should not have worn that,” Wande whispered her irritation at Bisade’s choice of clothing. “Don’t you know what a stealth mission is?” she hissed.
“I didn’t have time to change into something less conspicuous, my father was refusing to go to sleep early,” Bisade replied as she absentmindedly smoothened down the creases on her yellow kente dashiki.
“Stop doing that, you are making a lot of noise,” Wande hissed into the darkness. Despite her irritation at the situation, she could not blame Bisade. Her father was one of those men who have refused to get with the times. He still held on to an ideal that was long dead- an ideal where a man’s word was final.
It was a breezy, moonless night and the stars were hidden behind pregnant clouds. They were crouched behind a palm tree, watching the house they were about to break into. Wande swallowed nervously and glanced warily at the darkening skies. She rolled her eyes at her ancestors in annoyance, she had them to thank for the deteriorating climate; for the fact that it was constantly raining when it was supposed to be harmattan season. The weather was sly and mercurial, playing pranks on unsuspecting humans. If one ventured out with an umbrella, the skies would produce sunlight with magnificent flourish, but more often than not, especially on the days when one happened to venture out without an umbrella, the sky was sure to dump buckets on one’s head. At least here, in Ile-Ife, they had breaks in the weather. It was worse in Eko; it rained so hard every day that the entire city was almost submerged in water. The Resistance had agents in the city, getting displaced persons to safety and shelter.
She sent a quick prayer to Osun- or was it Sango or Oya? She never really could tell which of the deities was in charge of rain. Whoever it was, she prayed they would hold off the rain for a little bit otherwise their entire mission would be ruined.
Although, thinking about it, the mission was already on its way to being ruined with Bisade and her clumsy dashiki.
“Okay, let’s run through the plan again, “Wande turned to Bisade, unfolding the map which, Emeka, who had been working undercover as a cook in the mansion for months, had procured for them.
Switching on a minuscule flashlight which was so dull that they could barely see what was on the brown paper, she said, “We obviously can’t go in through the front door, but there is a staircase at the back, that leads to the kitchen. Emeka already promised to leave the door open for us before he leaves for the day, then we follow this path…” she said, tracing the red lines Emeka had marked for her on the map with her finger, “…to this room. Here, there is a trap door that leads to the secret laboratory, that’s where we will find the egg. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds, the egg is locked in a safe and that Bisade, is where you come in,” Wande stated as she folded up the map and tucked it into her catsuit.
“There’s only one light on, now,” Bisade noted, looking towards the massive single-story building they were about to infiltrate.
“Looks like the living room; He must be watching the evening news. We need to move in now.”
They placed their left hands on top on each other and whispered, ‘For the Resistance!’ before rising from their crouched position.
As expected, it was easier for Wande to blend in with the darkness than it was for Bisade, dressed as she was in her yellow dashiki top and tight pants, Wande would have sent Bisade back home, if she wasn’t an expert at breaking into safes, but there was nothing either of them could do about it now, the mission was underway and they could only pray to the gods to be with them.
Finding the staircase was easy enough. Just like Emeka had promised, the door at the top of the stairs was open. As they sneaked in quietly into the dark kitchen, Wande turned on her torch so they could navigate their way without bumping into any obstacles.
“That’s no use, couldn’t you have brought a bigger and much brighter flashlight?” Bisade whispered.
“Unlike you, I don’t intend to announce to Alade, that we are trying to break into his house,” Wande hissed back.
“I already told you, I didn’t have time to change,”
“Yeah, whatever…Just relax and let your eyes adjust to the darkness,”
“Easy for you to say, when you were trained to fight in complete darkness, I on the other hand…” Bisade wasn’t allowed to finish her statement as the room suddenly brightened. It took them a few seconds to get their eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness. By the time they did, they noticed three men standing side by side in the grand kitchen.
In the middle was a huge, dark-skinned man, with about fourteen horizontal tribal marks on his face- seven on each side of his cheeks. They didn’t need to be told who he was, Alade’s reputation preceded him. He was the current head of The Olugbala, a terrorist organization which the Resistance had been fighting since their inception a century ago.
Wande found herself staring into the eyes of the man who had murdered her mother. She swallowed hard and began to count to hundred backwards, it was what she did – what her mother had taught her to do to keep her wits together and control her emotions, because the gods knew she wanted to kill Alade, but nothing good could come out of losing control at this moment.
“I have been expecting you,” Alade said in his thickly accented English. He smiled wickedly at them and Wande fought the urge to shiver under the intensity of his gaze.
“Do you think we will let you take us without a fight,” she said putting up her bravest face. It would be a trifling task to take down the two men standing on each side of Alade, it was Alade himself she was afraid of; she could not let him see the fear in her. Counting was not helping her at the moment, she needed to think and act fast.
“You, I don’t doubt…but, what about your friend here?” His eyes cut towards Bisade and his smile turned from sinister to amused, “yellow…really? Is this what The Resistance has come to?”
“I miss the old days when The Resistance was a worthy opponent, now it’s just filled with children who can’t even follow the footsteps of their parents,” he added, with a saccharine grin.
Wande knew he wanted a reaction from her but she would not give him the satisfaction of knowing she was unnerved. In any event, she was more worried about Bisade. She did not need to look at her friend to know that she was staring at her feet; she was not one for confrontations.
This was supposed to have been a covert operation, Alade was not supposed to have seen them. The fact that he had been lying in wait for them could only mean one thing- someone had betrayed The Resistance.
“I don’t want any trouble and I’m sure you don’t either, come quietly with us and your friend will be safe,” Alade said in a lazy drawl. Wande knew better than to let his tone fool her, Alade was as dangerous a man, he was a man who could snap the neck of a newborn child in front of its mother just because he wanted to, he found sadistic pleasure in hurting others.
Wande knew better but Bisade didn’t.
She turned terrified and ran madly for the door through which they had come in, but more of Alade’s henchmen were waiting outside the door. One of the thickly muscled men caught Bisade just as she ran out and dragged her back into the kitchen screaming and kicking.
By this time, the men standing beside Alade had their guns drawn out and ready to shoot. Alade turned to face Wande, his eyes sardonic as he took in Bisade’s near hysteria.
“Now, I have two of your friends, you will come with me quietly or you can watch me kill them, ” he threatened.
“Two?” Wande heard herself ask although she was finding it hard to focus on Alade with Bisade still screaming incessantly in the background.
“Ah, did you think I would be stupid enough to let Emeka sneak up on me and not notice?” He snickered and his bird-brained henchmen did the same.
“I only allowed him to carry on in a bid to draw out The Resistance’s finest, and honestly, I’m not impressed,” he added.
Wande had to think and think really fast, she needed to get the egg out of Alade’s house but she also needed to get Emeka and Bisade- whose screaming was already irritating at this point, out safely. She was just about to voice out her irritation when Alade spoke.
“Tell your friend to shut up, or I’ll ask that big guy holding her to snap her neck. She is of no use to me, if you think about it.”
That shut Bisade up immediately.
Everything else seemed to happen quickly after that. They were led at gunpoint through a dark passageway, then down a set of stairs and ultimately they were pushed into a dungeon-like cell.
“Do you have to be so dramatic?” Wande said as one of Alade’s men slammed and locked the gate.
“I sell African artefacts for a living, I have to show up otherwise my clients won’t take me seriously. Don’t you like it…the 15th century African vibe?” He replied. It was dark in the dungeon but with the help of the sliver of light from the stairway, Wande could still make out the lines of his sinister smile as well as the depraved glitter in his eyes.
“You are a sick bastard! You sell more than African art, you twist people’s minds with every lie possible just to make money,” Wande spat and he chuckled.
“It’s not my fault that people’s minds are so vulnerable, they are always looking for a sense of purpose. I would be a fool to not use that to my advantage. You know, The Resistance and The Olugbala aren’t so different, we both give people a sense of purpose.”
“No, don’t dare compare yourself to The Resistance; we give people a sense of belonging, you take that away from them.”
“Yeah, Yeah, keep on telling yourself that, maybe one of these days it will become true.”
“You are a sick bastard!” Wande spat at him through the bars.
“Your family must really love using those words, your mother said those same words just before I plunged my knife into her heart,” those words set Wande off, she rushed at him but was prevented from grabbing him by the cell’s gate.
“You bastard! Don’t you dare talk about my mother, don’t even think about her, you dirty dirty psycho.” Her outburst only earned a chuckle from Alade.
“Feisty, just like your mother. She was a worthy opponent and I do not doubt that I would enjoy killing you just as much as I enjoyed killing her.”
With that, he and his gang left the dungeon, shutting the doors behind them and plunging them into complete darkness.
“Bastard,” she yelled after them, but the only reply she got was the mocking echo of her own voice.
“That’s of no use,” a subdued voice whispered. It was Emeka; she could recognize that thickly accented Igbo voice anywhere in the world. She ran towards him and somewhere in the dark dungeon, Bisade sobbed quietly.
“Emeka, what happened?” She crouched beside him and placed her lightly on his shoulder, from his laboured breathing she could tell that he had been tortured.
“It was a trap,” he answered.
“No, kidding, ” Wande replied and immediately regretted her sarcasm. It wasn’t Emeka’s fault, it was her fault for not planning this properly. She had failed The Resistance; she had failed her mother’s legacy.
She sighed and sat on the floor, resting her back on the rough wall. She began to stroke the tribal tattoo that ran across her left forearm, the same tattoo that every member of the Resistance had. The catsuit she wore made it impossible for her to touch her bare skin, but just knowing the tattoo was embedded into her arm gave her a sense of comfort. Bisade’s sobbing and Emeka’s laboured breathing slowly merged into a dull hum in her subconscious mind as thoughts of her mother floated into the centre of her mind.
Her beautiful mother, with her thick black hair that she had loved to colour, sometimes it was bright orange as the setting sun, sometimes red as the flames from the cooking fire. As a child it used to amaze her, how the colours of her thick curly hair changed, always accentuating her big brown kind eyes. She remembered the way her raspy voice had she sounded whenever she sang her timeless songs.
“You are so horribly tone-deaf,” her father used to tease her mother.
Her mother’s death had created a void in Wande’s heart that she had never been able to fill. Likewise, her father hadn’t been the same ever since, he just passed through the days waiting for his own life to end. Sometimes she hated her father for the way he had let himself go but most times she pitied him, how could she not, when she understood his pain. She understood how much he missed her mother’s laughter, her warmth, her stories- the same stories that had made Wande seek out The Resistance after her mother’s death.
As a child, she had been fascinated by her mother’s stories. At the time, she hadn’t believed they were real. How could she, when her mother told of a time when Africans were sold into slavery to the West, a time when Africans were ruled by white people, when Africans had abandoned their religion for a foreign religion and it was a taboo to teach about African deities in schools, a time when Africans hated each other because of the colour of their skin. Her mother had spoken of colonialism, colourism, racism, corruption, poverty; words that were too heavy for her to understand as a wide-eyed little girl. When she had learned more in school about the wars that plagued the world and the post-colonization effect that took the form of civil wars that plagued Africa, she had begun to pay more attention to her mother’s stories, for she had come to realise that they were more than just stories, they were history; a painful, heart-wrenching history.
Her mother, seeing that she had taken interests in her stories, began to tell her things that she did not learn in school.
In school, she was taught that Africa’s fate began to change in the year 2020, after the outbreak of a deadly virus that wiped out half of the world’s population. So many theories surrounded the outbreak of the virus. The most common one being that it was a terrorist bio-attack, but as every terrorist organization that existed during that time hadn’t claimed responsibility for the attack, the theory died a quick death, giving way to more ludicrous theories that Wande usually rolled her eyes at.
Nevertheless, a vaccine had been developed by an African scientist from Sierra Leone; a vaccine that had not only saved the world but had also enriched Africa. After the development of the vaccine, the world finally began to accord Africa the respect that she deserved. It had not been an easy journey as there were those that were determined to undermine the puissance of the continent, but many African countries had developed from third world to first world countries.
Wande had not completely believed that part of history. To her thinking, it didn’t make sense that the world just magically began to respect Africa. Judging by their history, it did not make any sense to her that the then world powers and heavyweights would have sat back and watched Africa rise to power. This was where her mother’s most mind-boggling stories had come in.
Her mother told her a story she had found harder to believe than the history of Africa’s rise to power. She had told her about The Resistance, a secret organization that ran throughout Africa, dedicated towards the development of Africa. The world had known that a vaccine had been developed by an African scientist, what they had not known was that The Resistance had a team of scientists working all across Africa and together they had come up with the vaccine. The development of the vaccine had not been the work of one man but of many men and women. Next, The Resistance had infiltrated various levels of governments around the continent. Leaders began to die off mysteriously and the ones who weren’t killed off were forced to resign and little by little The Resistance had people loyal to the cause in power. It was the removal of the corrupt government officials, who would not have hesitated to sell Africa to the world in order to enrich their pockets that had made Africa rise to the top.
The Resistance had agents all over the world that helped retrieve stolen artefacts from the West. They had put agents on the streets whose purpose was to spread the news among the people, to change public opinion, to destroy the self-doubt that had spread amongst Africans like cancer.
Little by little, things began to change for Africa. The people began to embrace their own hair, skin colour, culture and deities; they began to demand for the natural and moral rights due to them as human beings. There was also a rapid widespread expansion of economic activities across the continent. Although in some countries, the colonial language was still used for ease of communication among the multilingual people, though, most now preferred to learn the ethnic languages of their counterparts.
Now, over a century later, The Resistance had caused a relatively complete purge of the African society but still remained a secret organization still dedicated to protecting Africa from people like Alade; people who only cared about enriching themselves at the peril of others.
Alade ran a deep underground network of thugs who could be compared to terrorist organizations of the past. They believed that The Resistance had tipped the balance of things, that the idea propagated by The Resistance that it was Africa’s time sit at the world table as equals was a myth; a mere propaganda spread by The Resistance to further enslave the minds of people. They touted that they were the ones who truly wanted to liberate Africans, by giving them the chance to choose for themselves, whether or not they truly wanted to be free of western rule. It was, of course, a whole load of nonsense, but the minds of humans were gullible and easily manipulated.
The Olugbala was like a hydra; you cut off one head and two more would grow in its place. With Alade as the current head of The Olugbala, Wande knew it was pointless to try to kill him because another leader would rise in his place, but she had a personal vendetta, against the man who had murdered her mother. So when the regional leader of Wande’s branch had announced that Emeka had found Griffin’s Egg – a much sought after time machine – and it was in the possession of The Olugbala, Wande had jumped on the assignment to retrieve the Egg and possibly earn a win over Alade.
She did not harbour any illusions that she could kill Alade so easily, but she reflected that if she was able to retrieve Griffin’s Egg right from under his nose, it would be mean that Alade wasn’t as insurmountable as she had thought. To her thinking, it would be the first step towards ending his life the same way he had ended her mother’s.
“Nne, what are we going to do now?” Emeka’s voice brought her consciousness back to the dark, dank, musty-smelling dungeon.
“The Egg will be auctioned off tomorrow. The auction will begin at exactly one o’clock in the morning and all the former world powers will be bidding for that Egg. If it gets to their hands, everything will be lost, we would become slaves again…and this time with slave masters who know what rebellion we are capable of,” he added. “I don’t have to tell you what a disaster it would be if that happened.”
Wande sighed again, “I know,” she answered sounding almost defeated.
She hated being helpless; being helpless meant she was letting her mother down. But the truth of it was that she had no idea what to do from here.
“We have only an hour before the auction begins,” Bisade spoke up. Wande had temporarily forgotten that Bisade was in the dungeon with them. She looked in the direction of her voice and saw a small light blinking in her hands.
“What is that in your hands?” Emeka asked.
“This is one of my little toys,” Bisade whispered and crawled towards Wande and Emeka, the small light from the device illuminating their faces.
“It looks like a tablet,” Wande pointed out.
“Never mind what it looks like, I can use this thing to jam the servers and delay the auction for at least thirty minutes. We can use that time to get the Egg out of here; it’s our best shot at securing the Egg,”
“Wait, so you mean all this while, you’ve had this thing on you?” Wande asked a bit of hope had seeped into her voice.
“The yellow dashiki, the screaming and kicking; it was all an act. I wanted Alade to think me an idiot so his focus wouldn’t be on me. We have been friends for so long, Wande, I knew you would not have a plan B. I needed to your plan B,” Bisade said with a smile that Wande felt rather than saw.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Wande asked. She made a mental note to stop underestimating Bisade; she could not have become a part of The Resistance if she was not intelligent.
“Your poker face is too strong; you tend to overact when you are pretending. He would have suspected that something was wrong,” She replied and Emeka managed a small laugh at her words.
“Both of you are not serious,” Wande hissed, she did not like being teased. “We need a plan ASAP. How many guards are in the safe room?” She asked Emeka,
“Usually he has about four men guarding the place, but he’s gotten cocky, now that he has us in here so maybe two,” Emeka answered.
“Let’s be prepared to fight six guards. I don’t want to underestimate Alade ever again,” Wande said, “How’s your stance, will you be able to fight?”
“I’m good,” Emeka replied, wincing with the effort it took to hide the pain in his voice.
“Good.” Wande said, “Bisade, how do we move from here?”
“Like I said, I’ll jam their servers and then we will take the guards outside the safe room down, I’ll break into the safe and then we will get out of here. It sounds simple but we have to be prepared for the worst, “Bisade said.
“We are forgetting one important thing; how do we get out of this place?” Emeka asked.
“Leave that to me,” Bisade said with a broad smile on her face.
“We either get the Egg or die trying,” Wande said.
“It is not going to be easy but remember we are doing this…”
“For The Resistance and for Africa,” they all said in unison.
What do you think about this short story?
Edited by AriButtercup
Featured Photo: Goldhoop Studio on Pinterest