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Khalid and his Dragonfire group were about leaving the University campus.
They drove to the University main gate in their black Hyundai jeep and a white Mitsubishi thirty two sitter bus.
They soon met a long queue of slowly moving vehicles at the campus gate.
The Chief Security Officer had ordered his minions to make a thorough search on every vehicle that turned out of the campus via the main gate and other security check points. His junior officers were also to halt incoming vehicles for the time being.
Khalid perceived the stench of oncoming trouble but had to trust in Teslim’s celebrity personage to again get them through the fully manned gates.
Teslim drove the huge Hyundai jeep, steadily following the thirty two sitter bus that conveyed Khalid and all his other men.
Kabir manned the wheel of leading white Mitsubishi bus; and Mark was sitting next to Khalid in the backseat.
Mark was already becoming jittery as their bus approached the security checkpoint at the gate. And Khalid noticed Mark was nervous.
He muttered quietly. ‘Relax, Mark.’
The words were meant to soothe the young man’s tension; but they sounded more like an order to Mark.
Kabir was pulling over at the order of a security officer when Khalid checked the time on his wristwatch.
It was 11:45 AM.
Fifteen minutes left the bomb blast.
Khalid put out a question to Mark. ‘Did you say it’s only your fingerprint that can work on the remote sensor to deactivate the bomb?’
Mark gave a quick response. ‘Yes, Boss.’
Teslim’s vehicle tailed behind. And so the film star couldn’t be the group’s pathfinder this time around.
But Teslim still made an effort anyway.
He pulled over and opened the car door. He was about to set a foot on the ground when seven huge military peacock vans whizzed into a sudden stop just at the entrance gate.
Within a nanosecond, the battalions of soldiers were down on the road; with their dreadful boots thumping a ferocious thud.
The military men were the squads assigned to the University campus from the Ankara Army Barracks. They arrived upon the emergency call from the University’s Chief Security Officer.
Teslim rushed back in and slammed his door close. He knew his celebrity status wouldn’t work here.
The Chief Security Officer had a briefing with the commanders within a minute or two.
And afterwards, the general commander of the battalions ordered a thorough check of the waiting vehicles by his men.
Khalid had been bothered about getting out of the University campus before the military men arrived.
But now, he knew getting out of there would be more difficult than the tough trip a thread takes through the needle eye.
A security officer approached the bus conveying Khalid and his men, holding a metal detector in his hand.
One of the soldiers also approached the bus; and he asked Kabir to open the boot.
Kabir hesitated for a while. He waited to hear instructions from Khalid but nothing was forthcoming. He knew he couldn’t stall any longer.
He gave in and opened the boot.
Both soldier and the security officer approached the vehicle’s rear side. They checked the boot for a few seconds.
They were just about to close the boot when the soldier sighted the fire metre, the new bomb control device Mark was working on.
The soldier picked up the device and examined it for a while. He couldn’t figure what exactly he was holding; but it had raised his suspicion already.
He summoned a few of his fellow men.
The other soldiers examined the metal object.
One of them identified the device. He had seen a similar device in Zimbabwe when he was drafted into a mission squad there some years ago.
The soldiers became alert the instant they knew what it was. And they ordered everyone out immediately.
That very instant, Khalid knew they’d been caught.
While Khalid and his men filed out of the bus, the only thought that enrapt Khalid’s mind was one about his big plan.
By all means, he wanted his plan to succeed and he was ready to do anything to make it fall through.
Khalid watched Mark’s nervous demeanour as the younger man matched out in front of him.
He couldn’t trust Mark could stall until the dot of twelve, without divulging any information to the soldiers.
He only needed the clock to strike twelve. He only needed the bomb to go off just then as he’d schemed.
He wanted Kelvin dead by all means. But at the moment, he wasn’t sure he could really have his way.
His mind raced through lanes of ideas. He thought desperately of what to do.
Mark’s fingerprint was the only way to deactivate the bomb. Mark was the only one that could disrupt his plan at the moment.
He was Kelvin’s only way out.
Khalid was about to step out of the bus.
He knew that once he was out he wouldn’t be able to do what he was about to do. For he’d be asked to throw up his hands in surrender.
Khalid didn’t give it a second thought.
He pulled out a pistol tucked in his hip pocket and fired a close shot at Mark’s heart.
The young handsome man slumped to the ground; his heaving chest smeared with a surge of blood.
A hot stream coursed down Mark’s wide open eyes as he gasped.
It was a weary last gasp of breath.
The sudden bang of the shot was like a drop of stone into a still pool; sending out ripples after a sound.
The ripple effect of the gunshot sound was a ringing echo in every ear.
Civilians were stiff and still in a moment. Some others crouched down to the ground, cowering. An ice cold dread wrapped up the whole environment.
The situation alerted the soldiers. And the general commander was quick to react.
He passed on an order through his walkie-talkie immediately. ‘Don’t shoot to kill. I repeat: Don’t shoot to kill.’
Commander Jubril knew the gunshot wasn’t from his men. He knew the shot was fired from a pistol.
The Commander was fast to calculate that killing the culprit would be granting the death wish of a person that didn’t care to die.
He understood that no reasonable person would fire at someone in the presence of armed soldiers unless the person had an easy-death wish.
And he was not going to grant that wish yet.
Khalid didn’t care what happened to him next. He wanted to complete his mission by all means.
And he’d reasoned that by killing Mark he would be able to seal Kelvin’s fate.
Commander Jubril repeated his instructions a few more times as he matched to the scene.
Two soldiers aimed at Khalid and fired a couple of shots at his joints and ankles.
Khalid’s right kneecap and an ankle bone gave way first; oozing out blood in tiny streams and clots.
He lost his grip on his pistol as it flew out of his hand, while a soldier took up in his gloved hand.
Khalid dropped to the ground on one knee, right before another shot dislocated his other limb.
Sprawled on the ground in a sparse splatter of blood, Khalid held onto his knees. A shot hit both his wrists and damaged his gripping power entirely.
Khalid winced in pain and groaned hard. And the shooting ceased a moment.
Khalid drew his aching left hand to himself, grimacing in pain. Right about then, his elbow joints was fired with a few shots.
The Drogongod boss cringed into a small bundle and yelled in excruciating pain, as his aching arms gave way like his other joints had.
He waited for the soldiers to aim at his head and fire a fatal shot. But the shootings had suddenly ceased.
Just now, he wished so dearly that the soldiers killed him. Just now he wished he’d shot himself in the head just before these. He dearly wished to be killed now.
And this was what Commander Jubril wanted for Khalid.
Jubril ordered the soldiers to arrest Khalid and his men.
And while the men were being handcuffed, the security man who passed their vehicles the previous day recalled the incidence.
He noted the vehicles and he sighted Teslim sitting quietly in the black jeep.
He remembered the film celebrity was part of the group.
He informed the soldiers and they went for him as well.
Khalid was bundled into the van and watched as they brought in his ambitious young men with metal cuffs in their hands.
He wondered why he couldn’t bring Kelvin down without going down himself.
◙ ◙ ◙
And then, like an earthquake, like the eruption of a sleeping volcano… a loud noise that could deafen the sharpest ears sounded; a burst of fire that could blind the eyes erupted.
It was a thunderous big boom.
It was twelve on the dot.
The bomb blasted.
The fifty-something year old building of the Department of English came down in an eruption of fire. Concretes shattered in a thick, black smoke.
The monumental building was buried in mighty fumes of flames. And along with the few people that never heeded the urgent call to leave the building.
The ivory tower became down a huge red-hot ruins.
Everything was over. The race against time. The anxiety and the fears. A billion thoughts. A million actions. Everything was over.
But there was something else.
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