“Lwando is a psychopath. She could have killed them and it would have been my fault.” I said.
Xo moved to my side of the bed, nestling me in his large arms.
I leaned on his broad shoulder. “If Ipy died, I would never be able to forgive myself.”
“Babe, no one is perfect only God is. Where we fail, God picks up. That’s what happened tonight.”
“You are right.”
He kissed my forehead. “Let’s sleep. You need your rest.”
“I can’t sleep. No, not Ipyana. I am just finding it difficult to sleep these days.”
Xo released me from his arms and bent over till his face was close to my belly. “Isn’t it too early to be giving mummy sleepless nights?” he whispered almost as though he didn’t want me to hear it.
“I can’t believe that I am lying in a hammock with you after you were swimming in turtle excrement.” I said resting my head on Xo’s chest. Behind his muscly arm and mesh of the hammock were the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
Xo chortled. “Salifya, you made me bath. Twice.”
“You were swimming in turtle body fluids. I should have made you bath in antiseptic.”
“I was swimming in the part of the ocean that has turtles in it. You should have joined me. It’s our honeymoon we are supposed to be doing things together.”
“Not unhygienic things.” I put my fingers in between his loose locs. “We are so different. Why are you in love with me?”
“Because, you are Christian, brave,” He pulled my chin to him crashing his lips against mine. “And you are serious and you tell it is as it is. What about you? Why are you in love with me?”
I leaned my head on the hammock. Our eyes met. “You are Christian. You are altruistic. You make me laugh and smile even when I don’t feel like it. You are incredibly clever and yet humble.”
“Hey no fair. I am the guy here. I am the one who is supposed to say more reasons than you.”
“Maybe that’s one of the other reasons you are in love with me because I am romantic.” I chuckled. Xo laughed.
My eyes moved to Xo, who was asleep beside me. He had given me a glass of milk before bed but that had not helped with my insomnia. I was so lucky to have him. My eyes begun to shut, maybe the milk was finally working.
Xo was still asleep when I left to have breakfast with Asante at nearby restaurant.
“How are you?” Asante asked mixing the sugar into her tea.
“My feet are swollen and sleep is elusive.” I sipped my tamarind juice.
“Hang in there, tough girl. A few more months and it will be over.” She said as she buttered her toast.
“How is Yanja?” I asked adding yoghurt to my nkobe.
“He is much better.”
“I am glad to hear that. How did the raid on Order go?”
“Not well. I told every officer that was going in with me I wanted every operative alive so we could question them especially the ring leader. And most of them listened but there is one officer that annoyed me. He killed the Order leader.” She placed her phone on the table between us and played the raid. “Look at this. He didn’t have to shoot him. He could have just shot his arm and that would have made him drop the blaster.”
I replayed the video twice.
“What?” Asante asked.
“This officer is a morpher. He has to be ZUA.”
“How can you tell?”
Asante did not know I was ex-mzengeli.
“The way he holds the blaster,” I replayed the video. “Even the way he walks into the room. No policeman surveys a room like that. It’s not in police training. He is trying hard to imitate police training. Send me this video so I can confirm this.”
“Why would he kill the order leader if he was ZUA, wouldn’t it be in his best interest to let us bring him in?”
“Not if he is rogue. If this was a ZUA sanctioned operation, the order leader would have disappeared weeks ago and being questioned daily on some sun-less cell on Chome island.”
“It was hard to find what Yatuta has been up.” Kuleza said cutting the fried pork chops into smaller pieces. I had asked him to find out what Yatuta had been upto in Ulalo. “But I eventually found that he has been buying S bombs.”
“S bombs don’t work on cyborgs only on humans.” I said. “And have a big blast radius.”
“Oh. Well, he has about ten of them now. I just don’t know where he put them.” Kuleza sighed.
Xo put his glass of mango juice on the table. “I can find them. They shouldn’t be that hard to hide.”
“Yeah let Xo handle the S bomb search. I need you to find the identity of this guy.” I showed Kuleza the video I got from Asante. “I am certain he is ZUA. And that he is wearing a morph.”
“Wait doesn’t KUA have anti-morphing software?” Kuleza asked. “Couldn’t you just get a trusted buddy to run it for us?”
“Ulalo is powerful and we have to assume they’ve infiltrated KUA also. Running a search on them in KUA might be tipping our hand.” I explained.
“It will take me time but I will get it done.” Kuleza pushed his chair backwards and stood.
“You are leaving already?” Xo asked.
“I have a bot match.”
“We are going to that match too”, Xo looked at his watch. “It starts in 90 minutes.”
“I just wanted to go home and freshen up a little before the match.” Kuleza rubbed the back of his neck with his fingers.
A mocking smirk spread over Xo’s lips. “Naledi is coming isn’t she?”
Kuleza nodded his head, his eyes glued to the floor.
“Does she know that you shower before meeting her?” I asked.
Kuleza’s lips twitched, his smiling lips were holding down a chuckle. “I expect this sort of teasing from Xo, not you Salifya.”
I chuckled. “But seriously, this has been going on for months. Have you told her how you feel?”
“I am waiting for the right time.” He retorted.
“I am sure she likes you. She wouldn’t be coming out this often to matches if she didn’t.” Xo said.
“And I am sure she is lonely, because Ipyana is withdrawn because of her grief.” Kuleza responded, sitting down. “What if the reason we are this close is because she needs someone to fill the void.”
“Naledi is a perceptive girl. I am sure she has figured it out by now. Especially after the expensive computer you got her for her birthday.” I said. Naledi admired the tech Xo had, so Kuleza bought her a computer like Xo’s. “If she didn’t like you, she would have pushed you away by now. She is that sort of girl.”
“I need to be sure. I also need to be going.” Kuleza got up.
At the match, Xo and I sat where we could watch Kuleza and Naledi but they couldn’t see us. I could see why he liked her she made him laugh and she made him talk. It took me and Kuleza years to get the friendship level we are now. They are still times when we are together ,and Xo isn’t there, that we are silent. She was his Xo.
“She likes him.” Xo said. “His introverted-ness fascinates her and his cleverness draws her in. I can tell.”
Naledi whispered something in Kuleza’s ear and he laughed a good hearty laugh which was rare for someone like Kuleza. “He is falling in love with her.” I said.
“Lusayo says I am better than I was a few months ago. Maybe I am, there have been several nights I spent in the tender arms of the Lord. That’s what’s gotten me through it.” Amama moved to her side and rested her head on the pillow on her bed. “We’ve discussed this with my doctor and Sayo, we’ve all agreed to stop trying for another baby. I don’t have the heart to go through another miscarriage. It hurts me to give up but not as much as losing two of my children did.
I went to see my mother last month. I told her about my latest miscarriage and that I will be closing of my womb. She told me she was sorry for my loss. And I cried like a child. She told me how she had a stillborn child after she gave birth to me. And that she sometimes wonders who this child would have been. I wish I had gone home like I did after my first miscarriage. We would have done the ceremony of grieving mothers. Where the other women who have lost children in birth or soon after or during pregnancy would sit and bury their grief in talk. I didn’t go because I was ashamed that their prophecy for my marriage to a colossus had come true.” I closed the tablet. She had such a hard life. My right palm pressed against my belly in a sweeping motion. What if Ipyana fell in love with a normate? Would I stop her? Was I okay with Kuleza and Naledi getting together because I was closer to the normate in the relationship? Had Kuleza considered this? He was a reflective man I am sure he had. Had Naledi considered it? I am sure she knew of the difficulties my mother had. Was this the life that lay ahead of her?
Xo was out with Fya rescuing a Q sold as a body guard. It was a simple rescue that I knew he would survive without me.
“I pray for you everyday.” I said.
“Why?” Ipy asked.
“Because it can’t be easy losing your best friend. You and Talilo have known each other since you were toddlers.” I shifted myself to sit closer to her on the couch, then I put my arm around her shoulder. “How are you doing?”
“Not well, it’s been hard. She was my pillow to cry on, my cheerleader when I doubted myself. I have just gotten so used to leaning on her, that I don’t know how to go on without her. Every day I pray for strength to not let my loss swallow me.” Her voice was calm and composed. The calmness that comes after you were empty of tears, because you have been crying for so long. “One day at a time right?”
“What about you? I know you lost people too?”
“I just feel angry and it’s what keeps me going at this Ulalo thing so strong because I want whoever did this to pay.”
“Anger is better than sadness.”
“In this case, anger is deception giving me a false sense of control of our lives. Okay if I couldn’t protect them at least let me make the people responsible pay. It’s me running away from the feeling of lack of control over my life.”
“At least your feelings don’t cripple you emotionally.”
I kissed her forehead. “You will be okay. I know you will. Now you think about it every day, but as the days go by you will think about it less and its sting will lessen.”
“The beauty of time?”
“No, the beauty God’s provision.”
“God let her die Sali. I just don’t understand why.”
“I won’t lie to you that, one day you will understand. You might not. But take comfort in knowing that she is in a better place.”
“Despite myself I enjoyed our dinner at Tumpale’s house. I still find how he pries into our affairs annoying but he is a decent fellow.” I said.
“I am glad you gave him a chance.” Xo put the foot he had just finished massaging down.
“You are getting better at this.”
He climbed into bed. “Well I have had a lot of practice.”
I kissed him. “Thank you.”
He sat down on his side of the bed. “It’s the least I can do. After all you are carrying my child.” His hand nestled my belly.
“You don’t have to stay up with me. I will be able to sleep eventually.”
I nodded my head. He kissed me goodnight and lay down. He started snoring so I left the room to go to my study. I missed the days I could just lie down and sleep. I starred at my board of clues. Our operating theory was Kaulimi was the target. But if it were the target why did they attack it with a bomb? Kalulu knew that after that attack the security levels would be raised. It would only make sense to use that as red herring if the attack was on the same day or a few weeks after, while Kaulimi was still recuperating. But it had been two months now and still no attack on Kaulimi. Kaulimi had rebuilt itself and increased its security. An attack on it would be futile. And then there was the S bomb. It was designed to take out humans but not cyborgs. Kaulimi had a large army of cyborgs that would fight the war bots if they invaded. Maybe they planned on attacking our parliament when our leaders were all congregating. But then again our parliament buildings had S bomb shields. It didn’t make sense. I starred at the topography schematics I had found in the files Kuleza and Ama got from Yatuta’s devices. I ran them through Xo’s system, they matched 60 % the topography of Kaulimi. I ran them through all of Zamania. I found a 80 % match; Utawaleza. It made sense. Draw attention to Kaulimi, while getting ready to attack Utawaleza. And Utawaleza had an army suitable to fight humans but certainly not war-bots. The S bomb would annihilate them.