Ntawale and Mwase were going to the Q auction as potential buyers. All they needed to do was place a piece of Xo and Kuleza’s spyware and we would track the Qs and siphon information from any devices near it.
“This is not a rescue mission girls.” Salifya said firmly.
“Why shouldn’t it be?” Ipy asked.
Salifya’s eyes were glued on the schematics of the building the auction was taking place in. “Because if we go in there and play hero. There will fold up this cell and we will have no way of tracking whoever is behind this.” Sali retorted without turning to face me and Ipy, our hollgrams were behind her.
“But if we let them go today, we lose the pygmies they currently have.” I pointed out.
“We are playing the long game here.” Xo said. He was seated on far right corner of his workroom where his computer was. “If we go in today we will be slicing one head off the hydra. By doing it this way, we find out more and can take down the whole thing.”
Me and Ipy hated leaving the pygmies in there. But we understood Xo and Sali’s logic. Mwase and Ntawale also agreed with them when we went over the play with them.
Mwase and Ntawale were about to go the location of the auction when Ipy got a call from Xo.
“My sister has been kidnapped.” Ipyana said when she got off the phone. Ntawale and Mwase went to where Salifya was taken to examine the crime scene. While I combed through the footage of the cameras around the part where she was taken. Ipyana started going through Salifya’s old case files from Kaulimi to see if anyone would have a grudge enough to do this. I found an image of a man who we thought took her. He had hidden himself, but with the help of Xo, I found a partial image of his face. Xo sent the image to Ipy’s mother who sent us the name and location of the man. Ntawale and Mwase were going to question him. Xo wanted to go with them.
“That is not wise.” Ntawale told him on his phone. “Stay at your computer.”
“She is my wife. I need to go get…” Xo argued.
“You are too close to this. Let us handle it. It’s what we do.” Mwase said.
Kuleza found out the man was a professional kidnapper who had just been paid 50 thousand kwacha. The interview did not go well but Mwase secretly placed a tracker on him. He called someone five minutes after we left him. Ipyana traced the call back to a man called Chande Sanudi. We rolled out to Sanudi’s lodge room as soon as we could. There was no one there.
“I guess Mwape found the tracker we placed on him.” I said. “It’s offline.”
“Is there blood?” Ipy asked.
I scanned the room for biologicals. “No blood.”
“She is still alive.” Ntawale said. “We will find her.”
When we told Xo our progress with the case. He told us he knew Sanudi. In college he had helped him build a smart house. Sanudi lived in one of these houses in addition to selling them. “I was new at all this. My programme had a lot of flaws, which a clever crime syndicate figured out. They attacked his house, and killed his wife and robbed him.” Xo explained. “He blamed me.”
“If he blames Xolani, he will kill Salifya,” Ipy said.
I turned and faced my computer. “We will find her.”
It was 2pm now, she had been gone for ten hours now. We were all working as fast as we could. Xo got a message saying Nzinga, he was sure it was from Salifya. He traced the number to a warehouse in Katete. Me, Ipy, Xo and the two D.Is rolled out there. Police back up was on the way. I could hear tussling and screams. We rushed into the room Kuleza said Sali was being held in. Salifya was on the floor choking a man with her legs. Surrounding her were her three captors all unconscious.
She released the man from her chokehold. “Sanudi is escaping that way,” Sali pointed towards a door to her right. Me and Mwase raced towards the door. We caught up with Sanudi and arrested him.
“They found out I sent the message and were going to kill me. That’s when I knew I had escape.” Salifya said calmly. Ntawale took her statement then let Ipyana’s mother, Ipyana and Xo escort her to the hospital.
“Salifya is so badass. She is pregnant and yet she took out four guys: two ex-military and the rest ex-ZUA.” Mwase said when he got into the pod we had shared.
I made the pod ascend into the sky. “And her demeanour she is so calm after all this.”
“Isn’t it strange that she got kidnapped the same day we were going undercover into the auction.” Ntawale pointed out.
“It can’t be a coincidence.” Mwase said.
“Someone did this to distract us.” I said slowly.
“Who?” Ntawale asked.
“We will find out.” Mwase retorted.
Ipy returned to the station to fill out her after action report. She told us that everything was okay with the baby.
“Shouldn’t you be with Sali?” I asked.
“She is resting at home. I know she wants to be alone.” Ipy said. “So you don’t want to go to see Dream on a Monkey Mountain with me?”
“I will go,” Ntawale said. “It sounds like an interesting play.”
“It is.” Ipy smiled. “I can always rely on you Atu, unlike some other people.” She cast a glare at me.
“I like stuff from this century.” I chuckled, my eyes glancing at my screen which had my after action report.
“What a surprise to see you here.” I said.
“I was about to say the same.” Kuleza retorted.
“This seat taken?” I gestured to the seat next to him. He shook his head. I sat down in the cushioned seat.
“Where is Ipy?”
“She is gone to the theatre house. Hates violence.”
“You are into bot fights?”
“No I just got lost.” I laughed. “Yes I am into it. I just found out about this place yesterday.”
“It’s a good joint.” Kuleza’s eyes moved vertically. “You look fried.”
“So do you.” Looking for Sali took a lot out of all of us. I know Ipy wanted to go to the play just to get her mind off it all. That’s why I was here too. “Who kidnaps a pregnant woman to kill them?”
“We live in a fallen world. I am glad she is safe.” Kuleza retorted. They brought the robots into the arena as the announcer told us their specs. Both robots looked like human beings, they were each dressed in a black tank top and black shorts. They moved in a circle, within the metal cage that formed the arena.
“Which one are you betting on?” I asked.
“The E.M you?”
“Definitely the L.K. it has military training.”
I lost my bet.
“Tell me, how did you know the E.M would win.” I said afterwards. Kuleza just laughed. “Please,” I insisted.
“Okay, not a lot of people know this but the E.M is a war bot.”
“Which means it knows advanced martial arts.” I face-palmed myself.
“Yeah. It’s not as advanced as the stuff you guys found in the warehouse but its close.”
“I feel like such a fool betting on the bot with military training.”
Kuleza chuckled. “Hey, there was no money involved.”
“I hate losing.”
“Well you can have your revenge at the match next week same place, same time.”
“I am not betting with a hacker again but I will come.”
“I will save you seat.” He grinned.
I waved goodbye and strolled to my pod.
“How was the play last night?” I asked.
“It was a lot of fun. Strange play, it really got me thinking.” Ipy replied. “How was the senseless violence?”
“That was fun too. Met Kuleza there.”
“Kuleza is really into bot fighting.” Ipy mixed the sugar she had just put in her nkobe, boiled maize seeds, cow peas and beans together. “I forgot to tell you my mother spoke to Mrs Kuyeli from one domestic survivor to victim. She said she can’t go to Kaulimi because of her eleven old son. And she is ashamed to return to family because she has left her husband several times after an incident but returned after promises of rehabilitation from Mr Kuyeli. Ama says it will take her time to get the courage to leave. She will be in touch with her.”
“I hope she leaves him soon.”
I sipped my tea. “Before he does irreversible damage.”
“How is Sali?”
“Sali is tough. I don’t think this has shaken her the way it has me, Ama and Xo or she is just good at hiding it.”