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5. 25 A.M.


“Sir, through biometric matching, I’ve been able to identify thirteen suspects based on the voice recognition,” Maluze Moses, the Chief computer analyst of the CTAN said, standing behind a computer panel before the large, wall-sized display unit.

“Narrow it down to suspects with past criminal records, but keep the others on reserve. We can’t afford to take chances,” Agent Adams said, his hands behind his back.

The Counter Terrorist Agency of Nigeria (CTAN) was established a few years ago to help fight and investigate the rising insurgency and acts of terrorism in the country. The country had been plagued in recent years with indiscriminate terrorist attacks from various insurgent groups. The Federal government as a last resort inaugurated the CTAN to handle high profile investigations and ensure the security of lives and property.

“Call my attention when you’ve got something,” Adams said and with his hands still behind his back, he walked over to other workstations.

The agents were perched precariously at their workstations working hard.

“I want all hands on deck. Concentrate on the Vatican security situation. I need leads ASAP,”

“I got something,” Agent Linda calls his attention. He walks grandly to her workstation, his Kenneth-Cole designer loafers thudding noisily on the floor.

“Aerial satellite surveillance in the Vatican City has spotted five passenger planes from major Italian airports that have exploded in mid-air. Reports coming from the rescue ops indicate that survivors are no fewer than 250 and the death toll is steadily hovering over three hundred and sixty,” she explained.

Adams maintained a calm demeanor. “Did the pilots send an SOS message?”

“None of them was able to do that.”

“Then, this is not an accident. Use the GPS satellite to locate the co-ordinates of the explosion sites.”

Her hands flew over the keyboard.

“Here,” she said, pointing at the LCD display map. “We’ve got one directly over Rome, debris is most likely to fall over the Vatican City and around the perimeter,” she said.

Adams thought for a moment, “The attack must have something to do with the terrorist threat.”

And it just occurred to him that the terrorist mentioned something like that in the audio message, something about setting an example and this had to be it. He only had to verify.

He walked over to the LG OLED plasma on the wall, took its remote from the rack and turned it on.

He browsed through the channels till he got to Mattina in Famiglia, an Italian TV morning news. He caught the female reporter just rounding off her reports. Behind her, a wall-sized television replayed the aerial videos of the explosion of the different planes.

He switched over to the CNT and an American reporter was showing the same video while making remarks about how the Vatican had finally entered the list of the world’s most unsafe places.

He switches over to the CBN and an American reporter is showing the same video while making some remarks.

“Italy is currently experiencing the highest number of plane crashes it has ever had in a day. This is the first of its kind in many years and they all seem to have the same pattern. This is happening right before The Vatican City commences the final stage of her Easter ceremony. The Holy See is now on the list of the world’s most unsafe places. So far, about 50 persons had been injured as a result of the falling debris from a plane which fell around the perimeter of a forest reserve in Bergamo, Rome. Bomb experts and rescue teams are yet to find any survivor but are currently gathering information from the plane’s black box. The story is the same at other scenes of the explosion. Unconfirmed reports have it that all the black boxes retrieved were erased of all information. Airport security has become tighter while most of the airports are on lockdown, citizens are complaining of difficulty in boarding planes, families of various victims can be see crowding Italian airport terminals and riots are erupting sporadically all through the Italian states. The story is the same all over the world as various countries are uncertain which country is next and which country the attacks emanated from. A third world war may be imminent. Currently, this is the worst case of anarchy and pandemonium the Italian government is yet to handle. Though security personnel are currently …” The male news reporter rattled on.

“Italian authorities would finally have to initiate a lockdown on the major airports and seaports,” Agent Elroy said from behind as Adams switched off the television.

Elroy is the assistant director of CTAN, Adams’ right hand man.

“And that means that we won’t be able to get our men over there,” Adams said sitting down on a nearby desk.

Elroy shrugged. “In the recorded message, he made it clear that he would raze down the major structures in the Vatican City, if the bargain was not kept.”

“But they are just mugging things up. They don’t really expect the Vatican to risk the life of the world’s most renowned church leader under such irrational conditions. I mean, it’s unreasonable.”

“The worst is they must have infiltrated the Vatican City and the Malibu must have international ties and sponsors to be able to pull this one off,” Elroy said, wiping the screen of his IPhone on the hem of his black polo.

“Honestly, when I first listened to that shit, I discarded it as thoughtless and an empty threat, but it seems to be turning into something bigger than I imagined. Maluze!” he called over Elroy.

“Yes boss!” he answered, peeking from behind his workstation.

“Send the results to my office, and Linda, run a comprehensive list of everyone that entered Italy on an African visa seventy-two hours from now, send it over as well. Be fast about it, time is not on our side.”

“I’m on it, sir.”

“That’s a good place to start, don’t you think?”

“Uh-huh. Of course, I guess you’re right,” Elroy said, looking up from his Smartphone and quickly jabbing it into his pocket.

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