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Image courtesy of IBTimes UK

November was almost coming to an end. It had been a long week so I had opted to spend the weekend indoors in between a movie, a good book and playing chess.

Then the phone rang:

Steve: Fred mambo

Me: Poa sana Steve. How are you doing? It’s been a while.

Steve: I have been well. It’s been a while for sure. I have been traveling around, trying to open up new markets for my business and as such, I haven’t had enough time to look for people and spend quality time with friends.

Me: that’s understandable. This has been a cruel year for startups. The Company hasn’t been doing so well lately because no clients are coming in. As you know, our business depends on a great percentage of foreign clients so with travel advisories not many have been willing to check in.

Steve: it’s been, tough bro.

Me: Talk to me men. Are you in the country?

Steve: Actually I just stepped in last evening. The reason I am calling is to invite you to a mbuzi eating event among friends this Saturday. I have realized I have several at my mum’s place and I feel that we can slaughter one or two for old times sake… Drink some scotch whiskey and catch up. A few other guys will be there and I feel that your company will be great to have. What do you say?

Me: that’s an amazing idea. unfortunately, next Saturday I will be in Yemen for a security training on some NGO workers and I might not make it. Can we push it to the Saturday after next?

Steve: Okay. Let me see what I can do. Take care. Halafu you can bring an Arab girl ukirudi.
We laughed it off and he hangs up with the promise of getting back to me regarding the change of dates. I really needed time off. Deep down I hoped that the guys would be okay with the new proposed date.

An hour and a half later a WhatsApp message pops in and it’s Steve.

“Okay. Saturday after next it is. Ukipata plus one come naye. Muarabu Sana sana. 😂😂”

“😂 Muarabu ni wewe. Thanks for the consideration. See you then”

“Anytime bro. See you then”

I tried to sleep but ended up watching Valor.

The following morning I traveled to Yemen and what I saw there was horrible. The country was characterized by shells in the place of houses and the need for humanitarian aid for the 20 Million displaced persons could be smelled from the airport to Sanaa.

Yemen was a country whose stability was next to impossible due to a complex web of violence and fighting between the central government backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Iran backed Houthi rebels. The war had escalated since it’s breakout in 2015 after the rebels toppled the then government and as a result, UNHCR has reported thousands of deaths (mostly civilian) and millions of people in displacement.

The war created a great need for humanitarian assistance including training of NGO staff involved in the alleviation of suffering on life skills, basic security training, first aid, HEAT, caring for victims of abuse and handling of simple firearms (for guards and security forces).

That’s where my company came in. Having worked for United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) for 10 years, I had quit the organization and started Clockwork Security Services and Consultants (CSSC). I had started with 3 employees and gradually using my connections and those of my close friends, the organization had 47 full-time employees working in different countries around the globe. The headquarters was in Nairobi with branches in Lagos, Cape Town, Hargeisa, Dubai, and Riyadh.

It’s through the Riyadh branch that the security training job had come in. Being the MD and the lead security consultant, I had to fly out to ensure everything was done to acceptable standards.

I had thought the flight would be an unpleasant one but my assistant Kim has ensured that I got a comfortable seat with a view of the skies. Since I never liked to attract attention (my job demanded such) I always declined to fly Business.

I had just settled in when a dreadlocked lady came and sat next to me. Before doing so, however, she had looked at her ticket numerous times trying to see whether or not she had the right seat. After convincing herself that she had, she sat down, placed her backpack on her feet and closed her eyes.

It was supposed to be an approximately 5-hour flight from Nairobi to Riyadh after which I would take one of the three weekly flights from Riyadh to Sana’a. Everything had been organized by the office in Saudi Arabia so mine was to show up in Riyadh, get a briefing of the tenets of the job and it’s specifics, pick up the team that would travel with me and fly into Yemen.

It was all clockwork.

“Hi, five hours is not such a long time, neither is it too short to sit next to a stranger. My name is Muthoni. Mitchelle Muthoni. Doctor Mitchelle Muthoni”

Her voice startled me from my daytime reverie. I looked towards her to find her hand stretched.
“Hello, you’re right. The least we can do to make this flight more pleasant is to know each other. I am Oloo. Frederick Oloo.”

“You don’t look like a Fredrick”

“Hahaha, and how are Fredricks supposed to look like Mitchelle?”

“Bullish.”

“If that’s the case, I will take that as a compliment.”

Her hands were worked out. Not the muscular kind of working out but they felt like hands that were used to hard work.

“Medical Doctor?” I asked after shaking her hand firmly but briefly.

“Yes. 15 years in practice. What gave me away?”

“Nothing did. I just guessed. Hehe”

“What about you?”

“I am a glorified guard”

“Do not be modest. What do you do?”

“I am a safety and security consultant.”

“Sounds like you do more than frisk people and search for explosives in briefcases…”

She looked really intent on what I was saying. She had her whole upper body turning towards me with the lower part held down by the seat belt.

In the overhead speakers…

“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Captain Samson….”

Upon hearing the conclusion of the announcement, she immediately sat upright, looked ahead, and held onto the seat armrests until her light knuckles started to turn white.

I placed my left hand on hers since it was apparent that she wasn’t too comfortable with takeoff. She briefly opened her eyes, smiled at me and closed them again. When we were airborne, she removed her hand from beneath mine and placed hers on top.

“Thank you. I have been flying all my adult life and take off always chills me to my spine. I have never understood why I can’t quite get a hold of myself during those instances.”

“No worries. We all have these incidences of inadequacy”

“What guard uses the word inadequacy in a statement?”

“A glorified one…”

She makes one of those involuntary laughs that end up with tears in her eyes. I am not sure what made her laugh like she does but she really enjoys the statement.

The flight had been better than I had visualized it to be. Dr. Mitchelle was working with IFRC and she was attending a conference on Emergency Medical Aid in war-torn countries that was hosted each year in different world cities. She had been amazing company and I had promised to call her after I was through with my assignment.

I was picked up from the airport by an armed escort and driven to the regional headquarters of the organization. Upon arrival, I was met by Rukia, who was the head of outreach and also project coordinator for any operations being undertaken in Saudi Arabia.

“Welcome, sir. I hope your flight wasn’t too tenuous”

“Hello Rukia, my flight was okay thank you. How are you? How is work?”

“I am well. Work is challenging. As you know, the situation in Yemen is quickly deteriorating, whose direct result is increased cost of operations through increased security arrangements, exorbitant operation fees levied by the government and the militia and a whole other web of complexities caused by the war.

You should rest before I brief you on everything regarding the training and the trip. I have booked you into the Grand Deluxe Suite at Kempinski Al Othman Hotel Al Khobar where you will have your dinner and breakfast. I will come over after work to brief you on everything about tomorrow and the next five days.”

The one reason I preferred Rukia to any other person to head the outreach activities was her straightforwardness. She never minced words. She was a pleasant 37-year-old woman with a Ph.D. in Project Management and Coordination. Professional to a fault, she treated me like an ordinary employee and not the boss. I liked that. She would criticize my plans without blinking. That’s what I liked most about her. It was her greatest asset as far as I was concerned.

I had met her on one of the numerous trips that characterized my work when I was with the UN and after starting CSS, I had learned she had gone back to Saudi to look after her ailing mother. This had forced her to take a long leave from work which had eventually cost her job. When the opportunity came to open the Riyadh office, she had been the first person I gave a call to.

After greeting every staff member, a brief meeting was called in which I was briefed on operations and the yearly strategic drive of the regional office. This didn’t take more than 30 minutes because of the articulate nature of the regional manager. He was perfect but not as good as Rukia. His hunger had given him the job.

I was then driven through CBD to Kempinski after which the occupants of the rear SUV disappeared leaving me with my driver and two security honchos who were contracted to keep me safe. It wasn’t uncommon for hits to be ordered on anyone trying to ‘meddle’ in the Yemen situation.

A security consultant I had known for close to 5 years had been assassinated in South Africa because of him and his men providing security to a convoy of refugees escaping from the war-torn country. No one really knew for a fact why he had been killed but I did. Before he had died, he had sent me a copy of a book he was writing about the country and the general security situation in the Middle East.

Being in the security sector, one always has ears everywhere which exposes someone to all sorts of Intel, some of which is too messy to be published in foreign media outlets. Sarin gas was an occurrence that was so dirty that no one wanted to speak about. He had spoken about it at length through a blog article (Death through Science) that was published by many international media outlets.

He had first published the article on his online platform (the Middle East Through Ahmed’s Eyes) which brought him on the crosshairs between governments that struggled each day with illegitimacy questions and radicalized rebels who went to whatever end necessary to make a point. Rebels fighting against injustice, tyranny and human rights restoration cheered him on but that didn’t change his fate with the bullet.

The article had marked the start of his woes. Of course, he had received death threats before but after the publishing of the commentary, the people who didn’t have an appetite for the truth had become bolder. At one time, a grenade was hurled to the first floor of his offices in Riyadh just behind his desk and he had escaped by a whisker. Knowing that he was a constant target, he had relocated his family to Nairobi and ensured he was always on the move.

However, his days had been cut short by what appeared to be an armed robbery while in Cape Town. The reason no one suspected it was an assassination was that it was done when he was withdrawing money from an ATM. Cape Town being what it was, no one thought much of the ‘robbery’.

However, I had received an encrypted email two days later warning me that if I didn’t close up my operations in Yemen, I would be next. That had been two days before confirmation of the project contract had come in. The sender of the email had warned me not to set foot in Riyadh, leave alone Sanaa.

I was a stubborn SOB.

I had proceeded here with no regard to what would happen. Having made peace with existence, I was ready to serve humanity at whatever cost. Having been to refugee situations all over the world, I was determined to do everything I could to help these helpless people.

I feared death just like everyone else, but that couldn’t stop me from being here today.

I am woken from my reverie by a pinging on my phone. It is an incoming Skype call. Its Rukia informing me that she is leaving the office and will be in the hotel in a few minutes for our dinner meeting. Its dark outside, so I get into the hot shower and let the warm water wash away the weariness of the day.

The water pours down over my body, dripping consciously by my side, as my mind fades into dullness and everything is a foggy illusion. The sensation of the steamy water calms me; it takes my mind off things. The calmness through which this happens fades the looming danger that’s coming with the journey ahead.  All the things that honestly mean everything to me flood my mind in flashes and for a moment I am living in my thoughts… My mind swirls, and it’s like I’m standing under an everlasting waterfall.

After an eternity, I hear the doorbell ring and I walk across the room to let Rukia in. I am in a robe and I know she won’t mind. She has shed off the official nature of our earlier encounter in the office and she is all warm and bubbly. She comes in for a hug which doesn’t last more than three seconds.

Over dinner, she explains the travel plans, the security arrangements and everything needed to ensure the training is a success. We eat silently and when the enormity of the task ahead sinks in, she leaves her Mac Book behind and rises up to leave.

“If it was up to me, you wouldn’t go. So much has happened in the past one year and Yemen is the most volatile it has been in years. Someone wants to kill you. You don’t have to make it easy for them to carry out their plans. Someone can take over the training. It doesn’t have to be you. We have people who have been to Yemen more times and know of the terrain better. Don’t get me wrong, you are most qualified but we can get someone else to do the job at a lesser risk.”

She is standing by the door looking back at me.

“You worry too much Rukia. You are on top of everything and as such, I have no worries….”

Immediately she leaves, I lock the door using all the hatches available and walk back to the dining table. While at it, I open my robe since it feels too tight all in an effort to get a little fresh air on my exhausted physique. I am tired and a lot is on my mind. The job ahead is tough and the thought that someone is after me makes it all exhilarating. I hate violence but the thought that someone intends to kill me proves that I am making a significant impact on the lives of refugees within Yemen and the Middle East.

Upon reaching the dining table, I dial Rukia’s Skype ID because I know she has the app on her phone. Since I am using the official ID on her laptop, I prefer using her personal one. It rings for several times but she doesn’t pick up.

*

Rukia was brought up in Iran. Her mother was a Kurd and her father was a Persian. As such, she was exposed to different cultures based on the primary fact that her father had been educated in London whose effect was a unique view and opinion on how children were supposed to be raised, an idea that conflicted with that of many Iranian families.

Her father had sent her to the UK for school which made her reasonable, smart, intuitive and accommodating.

Life back home had been an uphill task but she had managed to maneuver the different and varying expectations of people from different cultures because she knew better. Her focus, opinions about life and her perceptions and understanding of different cultures were drawn from her Masters’ project which had been on population studies.

She had a unique view of the world population, why things were the way they were, the deceptive appearances of states ran on democratic ideals but most importantly, she had an idea of what needed to be done to make the world better.

*

I dial room service and retreat to my bedroom to prepare for the day that’s coming. I take out the incident briefs Rukia had brought with her and delve deep into understanding the conflict, its basis, its history, justification and ultimately what was being done to ensure things cooled down or at least ceasing of hostilities between warring factions.

It is a complex balance of conflicting ideas on what religion is really about, what development should focus on and ultimately who should exercise absolute power for and on behalf of the people.

3 minutes into the brief, the doorbell rings and I proceed to open to let room service in.

When I open the door Rukia is standing there completely changed. Seeing her startles me since it is unexpected.

“I know you didn’t expect me here but I felt that I should take you around.” She says as soon as I open the door

“Is that the reason you didn’t answer the Skype call earlier?” I ask her.

“Yes, it is. I knew I would see you later so I saw no need.” She responds and eyes me from head to toe.

I lean on the door frame and get a good look at her. She is in a black cotton dress that goes just above her knees. Her liberal nature is accentuated by her choice of clothing. She is wearing an expensive diamond watch and earrings that match her necklace.

On her palms is a clutch bag small enough to fit all achievements of the Jubilee government.

She is a direct contravention of traditional values that her ancestors ascribed to. Her hair is let loose, her legs are out (long) and her femininity is out there for everyone with eyes to see and feast on. She is a site of intoxicating sexual allure.

Earlier on you were talking about how insecure it is for me here and even any other country that can access the internet. Now, here you are, looking amazing, telling me that we should go out. Is there something I am missing?” I ask as soon as my eyes get satisfied from checking her out.

“No. You are not missing anything. Tomorrow, when you head out into a war zone, so much will be taken off our control. There will be so much we will be unsure of. So I decided to make this night memorable for you. Besides, I am the only person from the office who has the guts to ask you out.” She responds matter of factly.

I am lost for words. She makes a lot of sense but the preparations that have gone into the groundworks for the trip guarantee security for me and the team that will be accompanying me.

“To reassure you, four of our best security men will be with us throughout the night. I also have some local police officers on speed dial in case anything goes wrong.” She continues in a voice that hints pride and reassurance. It is smooth but at the same time, it bears a lot of authority in the words it is muttering.

“Okay. Let me change. Come in.” I tell her as I show her back into the suite.

She comes in, sits on the couch and I head into the bedroom to change. I choose some light denim trousers, a polo shirt, a white baseball cap, and white sneakers.

Her face lightens up when I get out of the bedroom and I can tell she is impressed by what she sees. When it comes to anyone in the office, I am the boss, the no-nonsense perfectionist particular about results, KPIs, expansion into hostile territories and the growth of the organization.

No one has seen this side of me.

Rukia has always been the free minded one. She never backed down when she saw something she wanted, a venture she wanted to chase, a dream that needed achieving or an employee that needed firing.

Unlike everyone else, she doesn’t fear me. I like that because it opens up the communication between us about everything.

Having worked in the security sector for most of my life, my body is well built, athletic enough and there isn’t a single ounce of fat in my muscles. The t-shirt clings just right on my body and this is the only time I have worn something this informal in the presence of an employee. I am always in loose clothing in official meetings. This, however, is far from that.

“Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have something sticky on my face?” I ask her while putting on the cap.

That statement makes her laugh but she doesn’t stop staring.

“I haven’t seen you in informal ware since we met. I should have seen you sooner… You are refined…” She says as she stands up to help adjust my t-shirt collar.

“Are you flirting with me right now?” I ask her as she takes back her seat.

“Why would I?” She retorts.

“Why wouldn’t you?” I ask her, folding my arms on my chest playfully.

“Are you done? Can we leave already?” She asks me smiling.

“Yes, we can. I am done as you can see” I say putting my arms out and turning around 360 degrees.

“I wish everyone would see this side of you. They would look at you so differently” She says as she takes her clutch bag.

“I don’t want anyone else to look at me differently. There is a thin line between looking at me differently and treating me differently as a result. I like keeping things official and formal depending on the situation because it ensures that everyone owns up to their part of the bargain.” I say as I lead her to the door.

“And what’s different about today?” She asks as she waits for me to lockup.

“One, you are standing outside my hotel room, two, I am not in a suit, three, there’s that dress you are wearing and finally, you just asked me out” I respond and look to her to gauge her reaction to the statement.

She is impressed.

“You are so confident about yourself. Not that I didn’t know that prior to me coming here but I like this side better. The formality is still there but then there is a mystery man behind the vision statements, project indicators, performance milestones, and work ethic” says Rukia.

“There is a lot about me that only me knows. My life isn’t a mystery per say but I only let the world look at me. I don’t really let people see me. There is the company, that’s all I want the world to know about me. My private self is sacred and private.” I respond to her, leaning on the suite door.

She takes out her phone from the tiny clutch bag and sends a text.

“I hope things go according to plan. I don’t want anything happening to you or anyone that accompanies you tomorrow. There is a lot of good that you and this company can do for the world. I have just texted the security guys. They should be here any minute” She responds to me as an explanation to her earlier action.

Rukia then turns and leans on the rail overlooking the pool.

The pool on the basement floor is well lit and there is a couple doing some evening rounds. The lady is in a swimsuit with an American flag imprint at the front and the gentleman is in a dark swimming short. They laugh out loud as they chase each other in the water.

I hear some gunshots in the distance but not Rukia or the couple are bothered by such. It looks like it’s a way of life here. This bothers me but the look on Rukia’s face is reassuring.

“If she isn’t bothered, there is no need for me to be,” I think to myself.

It’s as if she reads my mind because she reaches out, holds my hand and pulls me to the rail.

“Look at those guys. They seem to be content with the state of things here. They are taking a night swim oblivious of everything happening outside this bubble of security. Look at the lady for instance” She says referring to the lady in the swimming pool below.

“She is in an American branded swimsuit not knowing (or not bothered by the fact) that the Americans are the reason this is among the very limited spaces she can enjoy this fickle freedom of almost skinny dipping a stone throw away from a war zone” She talks all along focusing her eyes on the couple.

I can feel a hint of pain and anger in her words. They are words that emanate from a point of helplessness though faintly. She is the strongest person I have met in this part of the world. This strength is radiated through the passion she speaks about her homeland. She knows she has to fight to salvage the little of what’s left of it.

“How do you know she is not American?” I ask her following her eyes.

Rukia doesn’t respond to me immediately. She takes time as if to think of the right response to my question. I like challenging people’s line of thought, not necessarily to discredit them but among other things to make them aware, there are more than three sides of a coin. In addition, it helps in making know if the person really understands what they are talking about or just blubbering.

“It really doesn’t matter what nationality she is extracted from as long as she is an adult who should know better moreso decisions and considerations of what she chooses to wear in public. If she is American, then she should even be more ashamed to flaunt their bullishness in this part of the world their Foreign policy has helped destroy.” She responds to me calmly.

It’s as if she expected the question and was well prepared to give me an answer. I don’t probe her further. This is because I have been to meetings that decided fates of such nations and I wouldn’t want her to look at me differently. During my time at the UN, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Middle East question were situations I always believed could only be resolved through intervention by level-headed individuals. Little did I realize how south things were deemed to go. I always believe I should have known better.

We enjoy the evening breeze in silence till the security guys announce their presence with a cough behind us.

“Are you ready to rumble?” She asks excitedly as we wait for the elevator to take us to the basement parking. She is a completely different person from the passionate Iranian girl calling out American Imperialist bs some moments earlier.

The security guys in front of us (Mark and Steve) look back at me waiting for my response.

“I am if you are” I respond in the coyest voice I can master.

“Awesome” she responds and she and Mark high five.

It looks as if this is something they had planned way in advance.

The elevator opens its doors and we get in, sandwiched between Steve and Mark behind and Kim and Job in front.

As soon as we reach the downstairs parking signified by the pinging from the elevator and the Arabic voice from the soft sound system, Steve and Mark alight first, take a sweep of the parking lot and when they are satisfied everything is okay, they signal Job and his colleague who gets off first followed closely by Rukia and me.

She is clasping her clutch bag on one hand and her other hand is holding mine.

Something feels off. Having been in worse off setups before, I know when shit is about to hit the fan. We proceed to the car quickly after which Job and Kim take the back seats of the Cruiser, we take the middle, and Steve takes the wheel with Mark being the co-driver.

“Let’s have all the windows rolled up” Steve talks back to Job and everyone else in the car.

The V8 being tinted ensures that no one from outside can tell the occupants of the vehicle but we can all make out the street lights as we leave the parking lot, the hotel lobby and finally hit the highway. Soft jazz plays on the stereo as we take a ride before disappearing into uncertainty the following day.

Rukia looks calm and jovial by my side. She chats the night away with Steve and Mark and they make fun of me in my informal wear because none of the occupants have seen me this ‘cool’ before.

The vehicle is traveling at a speed of 120Km/H and being a top range SUV ensures that the comfort keeps getting cozier the more the gas chamber is pushed down. The feeling of uneasiness returns as we approach a police checkpoint some few kilometers from the hotel.

Sam slows down when he is flagged down and comes to a stop some few meters from the blockade. He takes out his license and the vehicle’s registration before rolling down the window to talk to the military officer standing by his window.

Several others have surrounded the vehicle, two on my side, two on Rukia’s side, one in front of the car and I can see another one behind the vehicle from the dashboard screen being fed by the rear camera. The ones on the side have their AK47s strapped on their shoulders but the one in front has his gun unclasped and he is aiming it at the vehicle in case the driver decides to speed off.

This one looks trigger happy and jittery. The slightest provocation would see him shower us with lead.

“Good evening sir, can I have your license and registration?” the officer asks as soon as Sam rolls down the window. His English is perfect but the hints of Arabic aren’t lost in his pronunciations.

“Is there a problem?” Sam asks feigning irritation as he hands him the license and vehicle registration. The officer doesn’t respond to him. He instead walks back to the police cruiser parked at the side of the road and hands the documents to someone inside the vehicle. He waits for two minutes then starts walking back towards the vehicle.

“What’s the problem officer?” Mark asks as soon as the officer reaches Sam’s window.

“There is no issue sir. Have yourselves a great night.” He hands over the documents and signals the man at the barricade to let us pass.

“That was weird.” Job says as soon as we pass the barricade.

“How so?” Rukia asks as she turns back to him to hear what he has to say.

“First, he had no reason to flag us down, secondly the least he could have asked Sam to do was open up the windows for the rest of the vehicle so that he could check the occupants of the vehicle. Its standard practice around these areas. You never really know who or what is being transported in these vehicles. Lastly, he was too polite to be from this godforsaken part of the world.” Job concludes

“Those guys aren’t cops,” Mike says with a tone of finality and conviction.

The vehicle goes quiet for some few minutes as everyone ponders on the ramifications of that reality.

“Strap up guys” Sam slowly instructs without talking to anyone in particular.

I have been in such situations several times but each experience is different and scary in its own kind of way. I hear the cocking guns as the team behind gets ready for the ambush that’s not too far away. I feel the hair at the nape of my neck stand to attention.

I look sideways to Rukia and I am impressed as I see her opening her small clutch bag and extract a customized Taurus TCP 380 handgun with her initials at the side. She goes through the entire process of cocking and loading without noticing my attention to her.

As she looks up to look at me, the sound of spluttering side mirror makes her yank her body towards me as Sam brings the car into an emergency halt. We hadn’t been ready for that. No one had seen the cruiser that has been all along on our chase. From the dashboard screen, we can see one ‘officer’ with his upper body out of the passenger’s side, holding the AK47 firing continuously at us. He misses incessantly and were it not for the bullet that caught the side mirror, we could have only noticed them when it was too late.

“The windows are bulletproof. Do not go out at any cost. Keep your bodies low always.” Sam commands as he looks at Rukia and me.

“Since you have handled weapons before, here get this… do not use it unless it’s absolutely necessary.” Mark says as he hands me a .45.

“I should come out with you guys. This is not the first time I am doing this” I speak loud in the midst of gunfire from the truck that’s just some meters from us. Rukia is lying on my lap and my body is crouched irrespective of the fact that the vehicle is armored and fully bulletproof.

“Today, we protect you. Today you see why we are the best team to guarantee your safety tomorrow” Job says as he tries to wiggle his way past us.

Job slowly opens the back right rear door, slides out and as soon as Kim gets out, the door is closed with a soft bang. In the car are Rukia, I and Mark. Sam has already gotten out and when he bangs the door twice, Mark also gets out.

They ensure all doors are locked and I can see them through a tab that is receiving feeds from their respective body cams. They manage to escape into the thickets around the car unnoticed and start approaching the truck from the bushes with Sam coordinating their movement in a hushed tone.

*

When the attackers get to 10 meters of our car, the leader, in Arabic, orders them to stop shooting. The fact that no one is shooting back at them surprises him. They didn’t expect it to this easy. The reason they stopped the car in the first place was to surveil and know of the occupants and their firepower.

*

When Sam and the team are on opposite sides of the truck, they put silencers on the guns and take aim.

“Each one of us takes a single shot at the back of the truck to neutralize the four idiots at the back of the truck. The way we are positioned ensures that each of us has a target within reach and elimination. At the count of three, we fire and then speed towards the vehicle to take the driver and the two other occupants by surprise. Everyone copy?” Sam instructs in a whisper to the coms.

“Copy.” The other members of the team respond.

“One, two…fire”…

Before the four attackers at the back of the truck realize what’s happening, their bodies slouch lifeless at the back of the truck.

Sam and the team then sprint towards the vehicle and in a matter of seconds, two other soldiers have their throats split and the driver has a gun on his head.

“Who sent you?” Job asks as he tightens his grip around the soldier’s throat and presses the gun more firmly on his forehead.

“How do you expect him to talk when you are almost choking him?” Mark asks amidst laughter from the other three members.

Job looks at Mark and Smiles.

“I am waiting for him to call me daddy… hahaha” he responds as the others burst out in more laughter as if they haven’t just killed six guys.

The soldier, whose name reads Ahmed, from his uniform is visibly scared and when Job loosens his grip and repeats the question, he coughs uncontrollably then in an audible voice, he responds…

“Allah Akbar…”

The response doesn’t surprise them. When it comes to such fanatics, they know it is futile to keep asking questions and so Sam pulls out his gun and empties a whole magazine on the idiot.

*

Plans change because of the attack and the uncertainty of the situation and we drive back to the hotel. Upon reaching the lobby, Rukia and I get out and head to the elevators to go to my room.

No one knows where the shot comes from but as soon as the elevator doors open, I feel Rukia falling lifelessly and that’s when I noticed blood oozing from the back of her skull from a fresh bullet wound.

“Please don’t die out on me…” I plead with her as I fall beside her and clasp her head in my laps. Her blood soaks the denim but I don’t care.

She looks up at me and in a frail attempt, lifts her hand and caresses my face with it. Her fingers are soaked red but getting cold quickly.

“Soooooooomeeeeeebbbbbboooooooooddddddddddyyyyyyyyy heeeeeellllllppppp….” I scream desperately.

“Please don’t go… Cmoon Rukia… Please… Cmooon….” I plead as tears sting my bloodied face.

“Take….Caa…..reee….. ooo…fff” she tries to mumble amidst the blood soaking her mouth.

“Talk to me… talk to me… Talk to me Rukia… Please finish your sentence….” I respond as I fight back tears. She is fading fast. I can feel her ebbing away.

“Take… ca…re of you….rs..elf… Do….n’t be saaa..d n…oow….” She struggles and finishes the sentence.

Ken

The authorKen

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