They all got into the big bus which the government provided for the mission. Since they knew where there were headed, they did not need to divide into teams. Rather, they left some teams behind as backup. They also had three choppers with them. Chike was of the opinion that it was important to view the incident from the air so that nothing escaped them.
Nancy suddenly announced, her voice urgent, ‘We need to head towards Enugu. The Bane is moving that way. I hope we make it before it enters the city. Judging from the damage it has caused this last week, I will say that it is not about to stop. There are a lot of corrupt people in that city.’
Chike looked at her with reproachful eyes. He did not like anybody giving commands when he was around. He was tempted to contradict her, but he knew that it would be childish, and she was the child here.
‘If that is the case, let us move it,’ he said.
They made their way to Enugu. A few kilometres later, Nancy said that she had to get down and stand on the ground to know what was going on underneath. Some of them got down to stay with her in case she needed any sort of help.
Nancy looked around, her eyes vigilant. The others were watching her every move. The next thing they knew she was on all fours touching the ground and smelling the dirt.
Chike was appalled by her behaviour and he did not bother hiding it. They could have told him that she was a dog not a human being. She was a very strange one, he concluded, and he did not like strange things. It brought nothing but trouble for him.
OZed was fascinated. He was tempted to go on all fours to know if he could feel what she was feeling. She behaved in a peculiar way, as though she was connected to the earth. His body hummed with excitement. He had never seen anything like it. He brought out his jotter and started taking notes of everything he noticed.
Mariah was very worried. What was wrong with her niece? She hoped that the death of her parents was not driving her crazy. She would be very sad if that should happen. She wondered what she was searching for in particular as she sniffed like a dog.
‘Are trying to feel like a dog, little girl?’ Rita barked. ‘We don’t have all day, you know?’
Nancy knew in her bones that the Bane was here, but she could not understand where it was heading. All she knew was that she felt the powerful magnetism when it was very close. She touched the ground again, and felt a strange tingling feeling in her fingers. She quickly pulled away her hand and it stopped. She put it back again and the feeling came back. She placed her hand in another part of the ground but nothing happened. She followed the feeling on the tips of her fingers, hoping it would lead her to something.
It led her into the forest that was on one side of the road. She kept on going, following the sensations in her fingers, and finally found herself in the deepest part of the forest which was gloomy with little sunlight. The soldiers had long since turned on their torches.
Nancy came to a stop when she noticed something that looked like a cave but without the stone. At a closer inspection she realised that vines and trees formed the cave. It was eerie.
‘I think you should hold a torch so that you know where you are placing your legs,’ OZed advised. ‘I don’t want you dying now.’ He chuckled. ‘I can’t find my way out of here if you give me a map and a magnifier!’
‘Something is not right,’ Nancy said slowly. She knew it but she had no idea what it was.
‘You bet something is not right,’ OZed echoed. ‘I feel like I am in one horror movie, and I don’t even know what the horror is.’
‘This place is scary, man. I don’t like it,’ Sam whined, not bothering to hide his nervousness. He looked at Musa and Rita, and nearly groaned. If he had brought his own girlfriend he would at least have had company, and wouldn’t be feeling this terrible.
He looked at Nancy, and smiled. The girl was full of surprises. He mused on her list of demands and thought she had guts. And the way she was acting was another shocker. Seeing her now in uniform, he thought she looked rather dashing.
Chike’s harsh voice interrupted Sam’s thoughts. ‘Nancy, when was the last time you went for a merry-go-round with your parents?’
Sam winced. He knew where this was leading. He doubted if Nancy would let it go. He waited for her to give the commandant a piece of her mind. If there was something Nancy did better than sniffing the ground, it was insulting people.
Nancy sighed. ‘I would have loved to answer that, but I will not.’ She held the man’s eyes. ‘Do you know why? Because it is none of your damn business!’ Ignoring him, she turned to the others and shouted, ‘Everybody, get out your heater. This thing is nasty.’
Sam could not resist the urge to smile. She knew how to put someone down gently. And what was she saying about bringing out heater? He had not finished thinking that when he felt the earth move beneath him. Not the gentle move one felt when there was an accident. It was the kind of powerful movement that was similar to an earthquake.
‘What the hell was that?’ he bellowed, though he was not expecting an answer, because a sudden panic had broken.
‘I say that girl is evil,’ Rita screamed, holding onto Musa for her dear life. ‘She brought us here to kill us. Is this your idea of a game?’
‘No, my idea of a game is seducing your husband,’ Nancy retorted. ‘But I am not in the mood for games, and your husband is not my type.’
‘What is happening?’
‘Nothing for now, MaryJohn,’ Nancy replied calmly. ‘You said I should find out what is pulling down the houses. I brought you to their headquarters. You can thank me later.’
MaryJohn’s face twisted with fury. ‘The hell I can thank you later. What is going on now? And by God stop playing games.’
‘I am not playing games. I left my g4 at home. Let me brief you, guys. We just disturbed the temple of this green thing. They are coming to eliminate the threat. They are like humans in this case. Once they see a threat, they come out swinging. Turn on your heater and bring out your knives. Guns are useless with them. We cannot go back because they will get us. They are faster. I can’t promise that everybody will be saved but if you start an immediate chopper evacuation, some of us might make it.’
An absolute silence settled on the crowd at Nancy’s statement.
‘Just what exactly are we facing?’ MaryJohn asked in a subdued tone.
‘You are facing specie of plant that is dedicated to protecting the earth and helping other plants make a living. You can think of this place as Plant Asorock. I’d have loved to suggest that we blast this place until Kingdome come, but that will not help matters in the long run. Three factors are involved; The primary one is that it is too dangerous for us. Secondly, the Bane will not die but regroup after sometime, and thirdly, it will affect vegetation in the whole of Nigeria. I certainly do not want that.’
‘So what do you think we should do?’ Chike asked, remembering he was the one in charge.
‘I don’t need to think. I am suggesting that we all try to stay alive and get out of this place as fast as we can. This thing that is coming is not friendly. And they are upon us.’
Secretly Nancy delighted in their fear. She knew she was freaking them out, but hey, welcome to my world. But in a serious note, she could feel that danger was upon them. The Bane was not an easy thing to handle but she was positive they would do something about it.
‘Where is it coming from?’ Sam asked.