THE HEIST OF IRON MOUNTAIN (Amara Quest Series)

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CHAPTER 4

“Unlike in previous years, Nigeria is evidently progressing and taking giant strides in the area of security at a faster pace than most of her West African counterparts and it is an honor to let you know that G.S. Tech Corporation has pledged its allegiance in lending its full support for the actualization of a crime-free Nigeria,” Derek said while coming out of the backstage to the podium, he loved making a dramatic entrance and it got the desired effect as the audience was already clapping before he got to the podium.

He cleared his throat when the hall became quiet and continued, “Before I continue with my presentation, I would first like to introduce myself. My name is Derek Oscar, Chief Supervising Officer and Chief of the Research and Development department at G.S. Tech Corporation, Dubai,” he paused,

‘You’re welcome’ and other acknowledgments rang across the massive hall along with clapping and catcalls. He had become quite a public figure in the country after his escapade with the Malibu operation coupled with the glowing reviews and names media outlets had given him such as ‘the black batman’ and ‘Elon musk of Africa’.

The Convention center of the Eko Suites and hotels Victoria Island was half filled with governors and state representatives from the thirty-six states, service chiefs, commissioners, tech journalists, local and international security and technology agencies and all stakeholders involved either directly or indirectly with the security of the country and the different tiers of Nigerian law makers.

The summit was organized with an aim to launch Nigeria into a new era of national security with the full involvement of technology due to the unceasing technological advancements of criminals and terrorists who now had access to a variety of advanced weaponry.

With such a new development, the country wouldn’t want to be caught unawares and unprepared; the summit served as one of the major steps the Federal government is taking to improve the National security on a larger scale.

“For some time now, there has been an increase in high intelligence, technology-aided and the use of sophisticated weaponry by robberies and terrorists. Gone were the days of Lawrence Anini, Shina Rambo, Captain Blood and the rest of them who make use of juju and charms to protect themselves from the double barreled guns of the police while effortlessly terrorizing the whole country,” the audience erupted in laughter and murmur; Derek kept a straight face and waited until the hall was quiet once again.

“Oh yeah, we are way ahead of that, now take a look at this,” he pulled out a holographic projector device that looked much like a mouse; he placed it on the podium and pushed a button, it projected its display right in front of him.

“Just a second please,” Derek said and virtually transferred the display to the huge white board that was at a corner of the stage with a swift movement of his fingers.

The wall behind him was covered with a display unit showing slideshows of the security summit and occasionally showing a live coverage of Derek on the stage, two stage managers lifted the white-board and placed it right beside the podium,

“Right before you is a video coverage of the epic robbery of one of the commercial banks in Abuja, the most advanced bank theft Nigeria has ever experienced. This was shot by one of the Artificial Intelligent security drones which G.S. Tech corp. with the support of the government launched last two months as part of an effort to boost the security of the country. Here,” he zoomed in on the image of one of the robbers armed to the teeth,

“Fortunately, our drones were able to identify the armor and weapons. They look just like they hopped out of a G.I. Joe movie,” he said and laughter rang across the hall,

“Like this one right here, observe the full face armor with 3D multi-task thermal vision glasses which has a digital display much like the Google glass only that this right here is more sophisticated and electronically linked to the assault rifle for more precise aiming. The head gear is complete with a lightweight jaw piece, tiered body armor system and full combat gear; as you can see from the video, the result was the police and SSS overpowered barely few minutes after they discovered that their guns were powerless against heavily armored robbers that rode into the bank in a freaking armored tesla truck and flew off with millions of dollar bills in a Chinese developed Z-18 helicopter,” he turned off the display and walked back majestically to the podium.

“We’ve all heard about this robbery but the harsh reality is that we have been ushered into an advanced phase in crime, the types experienced occasionally in more advanced countries; it is unfortunate that Nigeria as a country may not as yet be prepared to handle it, the civilians particularly. One thing I know for sure is this, for a nearly developed country, so to say, a lot have been done to eschew crime and ensure national security. I therefore call on all the stake holders directly involved with ensuring national security, all hands must be on deck to ensure and see to it that we achieve a crime and terror free Nigeria. We all at G.S. Tech corporation pledge our full support to achieving this dream together, thank you,” Derek made a curt bow and the huge capacity hall erupted with a resounding applause.

Most of the politicians and senators, some of them with protruding pot bellies were laughing heartily and conversing among themselves, obviously impressed. Derek waved at the audience and mounted down the posh carpeted steps of the stage, he made a show of operating his phone while walking down the aisle with one hand stuck in his pocket, he must have been walking too fast as he bumped into something cold.

He looked up and saw what it was – a camera tripod with a photographer positioned behind it, the young man even had the guts to move the camera a bit backwards and took a few more snap shots – with the flashlights on!

Derek was already fuming and he was waiting for an apology which wasn’t forth-coming, the albino camera man was so busy admiring his shots to notice the look on his face.

“Young man, do you have any sense of civility in that big head of yours?” Derek asked rashly, it took all his self-control not to land a punch on the skinny photographer’s face; he would only attract unwanted attention and more crazy news photographers which he dreaded.

“Oh sorry about that sir, do not be offended,” a female voice said from somewhere but Derek was too pissed off to hear. The albino kept on squinting at the pictures he took like they were the best shots he had ever seen and was even about to take another shot of Derek standing and fuming on one of the aisles of the Eko Convention center; how ridiculous.

He was about to make a move on the annoying photographer when he felt a soft touch restraining his arm, he turned to know who it was and came face to face with a young lady; at first Derek was a bit taken aback, then he made a show wiping his eyes and then stared back at her. The lady looked just like one of those models you see on commercials and for a split second he considered she must have been one of the melanin popping models that appear on the annual calendars of Orange drugs ltd.

Well, some people are just created to be so beautiful, he thought to himself. The pretty young lady had a seemingly perpetual smile on her lips, her hair was made into big cornrows that ran down to her back, she had the two ends draped over her left shoulder and even with little make-up and a smile showing a set of white teeth, she looked attractive and had that kind of ‘I’m a business-minded pretty woman’ look on her face.

Derek stepped back and took a second to look her over; there was something about her, maybe he knew her from somewhere.

“I’m so sorry,” she said cocking her head to one side, “he’s my photographer and as you can see, he’s an albino and also has a hearing problem. Sunday, take it down!” she shouted above the sound of the speakers in the hall, the photographer suddenly looked up – the aftermath of a grin still on his face and he squints his eye some more to see who it was. She motioned him to take down the camera and the surprised photographer moved the tripod out of the aisle.

“Come sit with me,” she pleaded and even before Derek could nod a ‘yes’ she was already pulling him to a nearly empty row.

A lady dressed in the Yoruba Alaari Aso-oke was the only one sitting in the middle of the entire row. She sat down and Derek heaved himself on the cushioned seat beside her.

“Is that a BB Passport? I so much loved it,” she said and draped one of her arms on the head rest of the seat he was sitting on. It was then that he noticed that he still had the phone in his hands,

“Oh, I’m not actually a big fan,”

“You’d better be. Android OS doesn’t get any better these days, upgrades are nearly always the same yet there are glitches here and there. By the way, wonderful presentation you did up there and I told my photographer to make sure he gets the whole thing,”

“Well I’m sure he did a good job of that,” Derek said and they both chuckled.

“Except for the part where you keep repeating ‘ensure’ like the success of your presentation depended on it,” she said slyly.

Derek wondered how smart and witty this strange damsel could possibly be,

“Oh really… I didn’t notice that, it must have been the number of people in here,” Derek grinned from ear to ear. They kept on talking and laughing while the presentations dragged on, she turned out to be humorous and Derek was enjoying their conversation.

Soon enough, the summit ended and they all headed for the Sky restaurant which sits on the 12th floor of the hotel.

“I love Chinese food. Spring rolls, chicken soups and all that,” she said while sipping champagne from a flute glass.

Adele’s ‘Hello’ was playing softly from the DJ booth and some of those in the restaurant could be heard singing along. The lighting of the bar was superb; the restaurant was filled up with a variety of people.

“Hmm, I’ve never tasted it though. You’ve not told me your name pretty lady,” Derek said and sipped his own Pol Roger champagne while staring intently at her.

“Chidimma, my pals prefer to call me Chidimma. And you?” she was running her hands down the ends of her braids and smiling.

“Derek Oscar, CSO at G.S. Tech Corp.,” he cocked his head,

“With all the cool hi-tech stuff you helped developed that keeps on getting media attention, I’d be damned if I didn’t know you,” she said beaming,

“So you just decided to ask?”

“Yep, feels better hearing it from the horse’s mouth,”

“So, who do you work for? Or are you freelance?” Derek asked,

“Oh, I write for Wired magazine; I’m a tech journalist and a broke blogger,” they both chuckled.

“Cool, you write for my best technology magazine,”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,”

“No I’m not. I’d vote for Wired any day and I always make sure to get any newly released issue. I’ve got a whole stack of them in my archive; I’ll check them out for your articles, I bet they’ll be as witty and funny as you are.”

“Stop it, I’m blushing already,” she smiled, the glass still on her lips.

“I don’t think so,” Derek said and she punched him on the shoulder; he chuckled and checked his phone, “I’ll have to get going,”

“Alright, I really had a nice day and sorry about the camera thing,”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll keep in touch,” he said smiling and stood up. He sent Segun a text,

“Please can I see your phone?” she asked and crossed her legs.

“you really should get one for yourself since you like it,” Derek said handing it over.

Chidimma ran her hand over the edge, and then she pulled out her phone and touched the backs of the two phones together briefly before handing the smart phone back to him.

“That’s my contact details,” she said,

“How did you do that?” her full profile was on the screen of his phone. He made a mental note not to discard the phone yet; she was such a nice and easy going person, he had to admit that she was pretty too with high cheek bones and dreamy blue eyes.

“You keep calling me witty and I keep doing stuffs like that; well I used the NFC technology,”

“I think I’ve heard about that from somewhere,”

“You’ve got Google on that smart phone, you better learn how use it more often,” she stretched her hand and he grabbed it in a firm handshake.

“I’ll keep in touch,”

“There’s no problem,” she said and put her phone back into her purse. Segun walked up to them clutching a black suitcase.

“Good evening sir and madam,” he gave a curt bow smiling,

“Meet Segun my personal assistant and driver,” Derek said,

“Nice to meet you Segun. I’m Chidimma,”

“The pleasure is mine,” he said and grabbed her hands in a firm handshake,

“See you later,” Derek said and headed for the elevator with Segun trailing behind.

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