Khetiwe was shocked when Xo told her what happened. She told us I was lucky, everyting was okay with me.
“I am glad you and the baby are both okay,” Ama said hugging me.
“Me too.” I said.
She took our emptied cups of tea and left the sitting room. “Goodnight.”
As soon as she was out of earshot, I glanced up at Xo. “You should have come sooner. I should not have had to fight my way out of there. I am carrying your child you should have been able to protect me.” I breathed in and out. “I am only going to get heavier and my ability to protect myself will diminish.”
Xo slid to the edge of the couch we were sharing. “You are right. I am sorry I took long.”
My hand was resting on my belly. “He wanted to cut out the baby. He was setting up the video-feed so you could watch.”
“His wife was pregnant when she died.” Xo said. His head was in his palms. “I did not know he hated me this much.”
“Can’t sleep?” I asked.
Xo turned away from his monitor to face me. “Just trying to find out more about what happened today.” He replied exhaling heavily.
I sprawled myself on the chair beside his. “I can’t sleep. I did not know how much I loved this baby till today. I would rather die than let anything happen to my child.”
“I would rather die than let anything happen to the two of you.”
“I was harsh earlier. I apologise for my causticness. I know you did your best to find me.”
“You were right babe, I should have found you sooner. This is what I do.”
“Sanudi hired people equally good at their job.” I starred up at his eyes, which were glittering with sadness. “I was scared when he started telling me how he will cut out our child. The last time I was that afraid was when we were in the H.M.”
He engulfed my hand with his, his fingertips caressed my belly. “I got a glimpse of what it would be like to lose you both. It was horrible.”
“I thought it was someone from my past.”
“We all did.” He squeezed my hand. “I thank God you are home safe.”
I inserted my legs into the space between the table and the bench. “I am Salifya.” I said lowering myself into the bench.
He glanced up at me from his plate.
“I think I have a way out of here.” I said. I was just 10, I did not know that I had just introduced myself to my future husband.
“I am Xolani. What’s your plan?”
“I saw you reconfigure the system so they wouldn’t run tests on you today. Maybe you could make the camera look away as we escape. I will deal with any of guards we meet. I already stole a blaster.”
His eyes scanned the dinning room falling on the two guards with rifle blasters. “I can. The best time to escape is 2 am. There is a 30 min delay between when the guards change shifts.”
Everything in our plan went on smoothly except the guards returned 15 minutes earlier. Xo said they had noticed that one of their blasters was missing. I ran out of solar beams in my blaster shooting my way out.
“I got the two rats trying to escape.” The guard said pointing his rifle blaster at us. He was standing between us and the gate. I glanced at Xo.
The guard moved closer savouring the moment. “Nobody gets out of here.” He pressed the blaster on Xo’s forehead.
“You can’t kill us. Your boss will kill you.” Xo shouted. I snatched a knife the guard had strapped to his thigh and plunged it into his leg. He groaned gripping his leg. I grabbed his blaster. He stumbled backwards. I shot at him over and over again.
“Stop Salifya. He is dead!” Xo said. I stopped shooting. Xo hacked the gate to let us out despite the place being on lock down.
“Salifya pregnant, this a sight I thought I would never see.” A familiar voice from behind me said. I turned around. It was Diminga. My KUA academy instructor. “Look at you fully domesticated.”
My face felt hot. I know Diminga thought I would stay in KUA for a long time. “How are you?”
Her tight expression eased up to allow slight smile. “I am okay. You?”
“I am okay too.”
Was that causticness in her tone? My eyes darted towards the parked pods before us. “Congrats. Pass my regards to your husband.”
She must have been disappointed in me. “I will.”
Her petite figure sashayed to her pod. I loaded my groceries in the pod. Domesticated? What did that mean? Domesticated meant I was vulnerable. Domesticated meant I could be kept hostage by four men I could have taken out earlier, if I was not worried about them hurting my child.
If anyone was to take a guess on who would end up domesticated in my class at KUA academy. It would Shasha. She had social skills. Deep inside she was cold, but she could feign human connections and affections better than I could.
“Dziwani, tell me where the bomb is.” Shasha asked gently. She had been “dating” him for the last six months. He was a lieutenant in Order. “My boss she is a psychopath. She won’t ask nicely.” Her cover was blown, so we kidnapped him.
I heard him spit on the floor. I walked into his hotel room.
“Talk to me!” Shasha said feigning panic.
“You may watch but do not interrupt.” I glanced down at Shasha. She removed herself from the chair Dziwani was strapped to and sat down on the bed in the room. My eyes caught Dziwani’s, which were alight with fear. “I will only ask this once; where is the bomb?”
I pressed the torturer on his skin. It played a sim of him in a closed space something I knew from Shasha he hated. After two sims like that, he told us all he knew. Shasha shot him. We found the bomb which they meant to denote in Kaulimi using their female followers.
Ipyana was too upset to speak so Naledi spoke. “He calls me, Ipy, Atuweni and Mwase into his office. He tells us that he knows we’ve been trying to bring Waranda down. That the reason he did not want us to investigate the conspiracy nuts theory was because it was true. He confesses that he has been working for Waranda for the last five years. They threatened his family and when he didn’t comply they shot his son in what seemed like a botched robbery as a warning. His son survived this warning shot. He tells us that they killed the conspiracy nut. That he is sick of being part of it.
He promised to end it tonight.
By the time our shift ended we had all heard the news that the DSU was involved in a pod crash. I don’t know what he did but I know they killed him.” Naledi’s lips were trembling. Ipyana was sobbing again. I moved and sat on the couch Ipy was on, placing my hand on her back and stroking it.
“He had a wife and two kids in college.” Ipy choked.
“He was a good man. He did not deserve this.” Naledi lamented. “We keep thinking about how we could have helped him maybe stopped them from...”
“Don’t think about that. Think about how we can bring whoever did this to justice.” I told her. “I will get Kuleza to access his communications for the last five years so I can go through them and learn more about Waranda.”
“Stay the night with us, you should not be alone.” Xo said.
The Sikwese looked odd outside of Chitipa.
“I am here presenting a paper at a history conference,” Asikwese told us. “I am quite anxious to return.”
Xo and Ipy chuckled at this. I just smiled.
“Tumpale, your cousin contacted me. He wants to connect with you.” Anyazgambo said. “I have not answered him.”
I pulled myself to the edge of the couch. “What does he want?”
“I really do not know.” Anyazgambo retorted.
“Maybe he just wants to know you guys since you are family.” Asikwese said. My eyes rested on the picture of me and Xo on our wedding day. Tumpale’s grandmother had beat and starved my father just like his parents did me.
My chest felt tight. “We have to think about it.” I exhaled.
Themba had been starring at my stomach for sometime now. He climbed out of Ipyana’s arms and came up to me. He pointed his finger at my stomach and asked: “What’s inside your stomach?” My eyes shot at Xo. The hiding stage was coming to a close, my stomach was now the width of an avocado pear. “Did you swallow watermelon seeds?”
“There is a baby inside.” Xo said still laughing.
Themba’s eyes widened. “What’s the baby doing inside there?”
“The baby is sleeping.” I replied picking him up.
“How did the baby get inside?” the little boy pried, his fingers tracing the swell of my bump.
“God put the baby there.” Xo replied. Phew. I would not have known what to say.
“I tried to get as organic food as possible.” I said.
“Thanks for the effort.” Asikwese smiled dipping some nsima in the small silver fish stew mixed with groundnut powder. I knew this was their favourite meal.
“What’s this incident about a bot penetrating the borders of Utawaleza?” Xo asked. He was trying to eat and carry Themba, who insisted on sitting on his lap, at the same time.
“It’s really troubling.” Anyazga replied. “We have been trying to get the government to approve new Electric Magnetic Pulsanator to match new technologies but they won’t let us.”
“We who?” Ipy inquired reaching across the table to grab a jar of water. She poured the water into her tumbler.
“The league of Jume, the Utawaleza representatives in Zamania,” Anyazga retorted. “The robot’s trespassing proves what our engineers have been saying for months. We aren’t safe.”
“Why can’t your engineers just build one?” I asked.
“We already have but they need government’s approval to install it.” Asikwese said.
“Why won’t they let you update the EMP? What do they gain?” Naledi asked.
“The government wants us vulnerable.” Anyazgambo fumed.
““Some ministers feel that Utawaleza should be harvested for its resources.” Asikwese extrapolated.” Asikwese extrapolated.
“What resources?” Xo asked.
“The geo-thermal energy from the hot springs, the hydro-energy from the water falls and most importantly the human resources. They feel that Utawaleza is brain-draining Zamania.” Asikwese responded.