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While I couldn’t give Leo the benefit of doubt, I shuddered at the thought of what would happen to him if his cruel bosses caught him selling information to the CID.

“Leo,” I said calmly, “let’s do business first. We can think about other arrangements later.”

He relaxed and leant forward in his chair. “Noriega and Singh are making an astronomical transaction 2 days from now.”

Noriega was the code name we had given a local drug baron operating along the Kenyan coast. His accomplice, Singh, was an international criminal wanted by Interpol and a dozen intelligence services in the world. There was a large bounty on his head in India for an individual, an organisation or a country that would help catch him.

Two days were too few, too soon to do anything substantial. “Where’s the venue?”

Leo straightened up and sighed. Here was where he normally bargained for a pay hike, especially whenever he used words like ‘astronomical transaction’.

“That’s where the problem is,” he said, avoiding my eyes. A bad sign. “Noriega suspects that his operations have been infiltrated by the CID. So we’ve 2 venues.”

“Two venues? How’s that possible?”

He shrugged. “I’ve heard that the Indian, who’s meeting Noriega in person for the first time, will wait until the last 2 hour to the rendezvous before divulging to Noriega which venue to go to.”

I couldn’t tell whether this was a cock and bull story. “Are you kidding me?”

“Have I ever done that?” Leo sounded hurt. But there was no way of knowing if he had indeed played some prank on me.

“I guess not. And not because you’re loyal but because I never gave you the chance. Anyway, tell me the venues.”

Leo hesistated. He was supposed to name his price. I glowered at him hard and he got the message. I was not in the mood for haggling. He told me.

The venues were a staggering distance apart on the opposite ends of Nairobi city. It would take 2 hours to move from one to the other on a police motorbike, and longer in a squad car.

“There’s another little problem,” Leo stated nonchalantly. “A local drug lord, who has been doing business with Singh, is unhappy with the deal. He’s planning to gatecrash the party.”

That had to be Jane’s influntial politician, the ex-spy chief, Barun Kau, who had retired and joined politics unscrupulously to protect his interests. His illegal businesses: guns, drugs and other counterfeits, were ruining the country. He also evaded tax and nobody could do anything about it. The US and some European countries had frozen his oversea assets and banned him from travelling abroad.

“What do you suggest?” I asked absent-mindedly.

“You want the men?” Leo shrugged. “Cover the two venues. As simple as that.”

Not that simple, I thought. A half the police in the city was compromised. They were either on Noriega’s or Kau’s payroll. Some were on both. Large scale mobilisation and deployment of manpower would alert the bastards. Noriega would be on the next flight out of the country. Kau would seek to ‘neutralise’ the enemy (he kills all those who stand in his way, including political rivals). Singh and his bounty would stay somewhere in Asia. An operation that had taken years to build would crumple to the ground.

“Nice suggestion,” I lied. “You’ll get a bonus for that.”

Leo gave a toothy smile that froze on his face when I said, “Let’s think about getting you out of here.”

“What do you…”

“I noticed six goons manning the front entrance to this hospital. There are probably more at the back.”

Evacuation was the trickiest part of the game. Leo had been a very useful agent and I couldn’t leave him at the mercy of the bad boys.

“Tracy, put him under anaesthesia. Gown him. Strap him on a stretcher and refer him to MTRH. His bed is already reserved for him in the ICU.”

Leo shook his head. “I don’t want to…”

“I’m sorry, Leo,” I said adamantly. “We can’t afford to jeopardise this unit.” I drew a gun and pointed it at him. “It’s either this or the injection.”

He nodded towards the large hypodermic needle that the doctor was brandishing like some deadly weapon. A shiver ran down my spine.

Tracy walked towards Leo, a faint smile playing on her lips. “It’s called ketamine,” she said pleasantly. “It’s the safest in cases like this.” She set the needle on the desk, rolled up Leo’s sleeve and tied a cord around his arm. “Clench your fingers into a fist,” she instructed. After a few slaps on the arm, a vein materialised. Tracy took the need, plunged it into to the vein, loosened the cord and asked Leo to unclench his fist. He did. She pulled on the piston of the syringe slightly. Blood mixed with the drug. “A little pain,” she said staring into Leo’s eyes as she injected the drug in his blood.

The drug took effect imediately. Leo sprawled in his chair, unable to sit upright. “Thank you for cooperating, Leo,” I said tucking away the gun.”I knew you would.”

What I hadn’t told him was that he was on top of his gang’s that night’s hit list.

TO BE CONT…

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