Night, p.33
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       Night, p.33


  Night looked down at his black Casio G-Shock wrist watch. It was just on four hours after they had taken off from Lanseria airport. The pilot had circled the landing strip once already, pre landing recon, and was lining up for the final approach to what looked like a temporary airstrip set up somewhere in the Karoo desert. Four hours – was this even the Karoo? Night looked out of his window and could see nothing but desert for miles in this direction. He looked out of the opposite window and still saw only sand. The runway had been crudely fashioned with strips of log and tree branches on either side. The Cessna Grand Caravan’s rugged airframe construction, immense, steel tube landing gear and bulky rough field tires were suited to the challenging terrain. As they descended men were visible on the runway itself with brooms, apparently brushing away any debris and large stones, rocks and any other obstacles out of the touchdown path of the incoming plane. In typical African style it was being done at the very last minute. T.I.A.

  Night laughed to himself and thought: “We may not even make the landing.”

  To Night’s utter astonishment, five minutes later the plane was safely on the ground, taxiing towards the edge of the “airstrip” where he saw four old battered and bruised 4x4 soft skinned Toyota Land Cruisers parked. The men he had seen earlier preparing the runway were now waiting at the vehicles.

  Minutes later and all the men had disembarked from the transport plane and were huddled in a semi-circle around General Amos Arosi.

  “Good afternoon gentlemen. I hope you enjoyed the journey and inflight meal. A big thanks to our fine pilot” said the General and paused, looking at the aviator who now sat on the stairs of his aircraft while eating an apple, cutting slices off with his fighting blade. The man, with his rugged surfer boy good looks and burnt blond hair, looked up, lowered his Ray Ban shades and gave a cocky wink and grinned.

  “It’s what I do General!”

  The twelve mercenaries all looked at the pilot in appreciation of his obvious winged skill and nodded in recognition.

  “Now. Here we are. Somewhere in a desert. That’s all. From here on out we use call signs and only call signs, unless of course you already know each other and it’s non-operational chat. In any tactical situation, gentlemen, whether it be operational planning and preparation or actual indenture engagement we will refer to ourselves and each other through our calls signs only. Understood! Good, now we will climb in the vehicles here. Four men in each, I will be in the lead vehicle as a fifth. From here we will travel to our FOB (Forward Operating Base). There we will gear up and commence our operational planning. The brief will be short as time is of the essence. This operation has been planned to be swift and violent. When we arrive you will have 30 Mikes to yourself. There is a small pool of water near our FOB, coming down from a flowing mountain stream. I suggest you cool off and freshen up in it. And then we strike. A very brief introduction, and background validation, of your comrades. First, we have four members from the South African Police Special Task Force, gentlemen please make yourselves known.”

  Four men who stood in an obvious group nodded their identification. Night had already pinged them as being the STF men because of their obvious physical strength and fitness. They looked like modern day Spartans, Night thought to himself. One was a black man, the other of mixed race and the remaining two were white.

  “We have four members of a private security company, Mike Romeo. All are former members of the South African Army Special Forces.”

  Night had also identified the Army SF members. Two of the men were black, one white and one of mixed race. They were leaner, non-combatants would call them skinny, and built more for stamina, marching long distances and jungle warfare. And although to the civilian eye they looked less imposing they were in fact probably a lot more sinister and perhaps even more dangerous than the police members, not necessarily in combat capability but more so in predictability. Night had experienced this before when he was an army commando. Soldiers are trained to use deadly violence solely to take lives and will use excessive force whenever possible, quite rightly as a soldier, as the goal is to always utterly dominate the enemy. And to army personnel the deaths of the general population during combat could always be referred to as collateral damage, the price of war.

  Police officers however are trained in deadly combat to save lives and only ever use the necessary force, the least amount of force required against criminal suspects – the police officers’ enemy. When Night had first transitioned from army to police it took him a while to soften to this truth. But it suited him better. He preferred saving lives and protecting life. Today though they would all work as one element. One fighting force. And their goal was a hell of a lot more military than police. Their goal was to annihilate their enemy. Without quarter.

  “And we have some police patrolmen with us, known infamously throughout Johannesburg as unforgiving, but fair, bastards. All are South African Police Force with various military backgrounds including South African Army Commando and Russian Spetsnaz. The giant you see before you is Zulu. And that I am sure he will agree is enough of a fighting background.” Shaka puffed out his already massive chest in agreement with the General’s validation of worth.

  “Finally, we have Tango Tango, my personal bodyguard and perhaps the most deadly protector I know. His background lies so deep in the confidential that I can say no more. Except this, only yesterday he saved me from an attempt on my life by British mercenaries and I vouch for him. Okay. Introductions done, I want the police officers who are all trained in advanced driving to… you guessed it. Drive.”

  The General signalled to one of the men, obviously a desert nomad, who wore a Shemagh (Desert Scarf). The man approached and dropped three keys into the General’s outstretched hand. Night noted the men and saw they each had an AK draped under their desert wear. They were the airstrip guards.

  “Thank you. Okay. Tango Tango, you take the lead vehicle with myself, Mike November and November Sierra.”

  Tony Tshabalala stepped forward and accepted the car keys.

  “Delta Sierra you take the follow vehicle with the Army SF boys.”

  Daniel Shaka stepped forward and took hold of his keys. At this point one of the Army SF operators said: “Will he even be able to fit in the bloody damn vehicle. What with all that steroid induced muscle of his.”

  It is a well-known truth that in the contracting world soldiers often laugh at their security counterparts who are well muscled as they realise this will do nothing for them in a setting of war. In fact it will actually work against them in most conflict zones, especially in Africa, where having to walk for hundreds of kilometres is common.

  “Not steroids my friend. Only chicken!”

  The giant Zulu grinned widely and put his powerful arm around the lanky ex-soldier pulling him along with some force.

  “Come brother, let’s introduce ourselves and talk about manners!”

  The rest of the former Army SF soldiers saw this and immediately warmed to the massive police constable. Their leader, the older white man with a wizened face, remarked: “I think we will get along just fine. And don’t mind the bomb maker. His talent lies in explosives, not making friends.”

  Finally the General threw the last set of keys to the Commander of the Special Task Force four, call sign Kilo.

  “You decide who drives. You will be in the follow vehicle. And keep up, we move with haste as time is short. Our destination is approximately twenty Kilo Mikes out. Let’s Move!”

  Night thought about the motley crew - It truly was a rainbow nation of an extremely deadly fighting force! Even our mercenaries are now integrated. The way it should be!

  Some time later and the convoy of vehicles was speeding along the desert surface. Tony had initially brought the fleet up to a speed of 170kph but had to reduce haste due to small stones and dirt being flung onto the following vehicles, giving the second 4x4 a cracked windscreen. Tony had to slow again and finally found the ide
al cruising speed to be 125kph on the rough surface. The convoy moved as one. The follow vehicles showed extreme skill in being able to keep up so closely. The three vehicles were never more than a metre apart from one another. It was a fine display of convoy driving.

  Uninterrupted and without misfortune the armed force arrived at their destination, mapped out by a global positioning system. The private legionnaires arrived at their destination in under ten minutes. The pace was blistering and the look of concentration on the drivers’ faces was apparent when the men exited their vehicles.

  The FOB was made up of no more than one large, old and tattered white tent, surrounded by thorn bushes and deceptive camouflage.

  The private force entered the big tent to find two tables, one with gear and equipment, the other with Russian made AK 47s, magazines and ammunition.

  “All right gents. Take thirty, private time. Enjoy the water. Then report back here to receive your kit and weapons” said General Arosi.

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