Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.
The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy, if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.
Now, it appears, his problems stem from another operation he participated in, and because of it, he has now been roped into what might be called a suicide mission.
“That was far too bloody easy.” I heard Monroe’s voice come over the radio, not long after we left the camp.
“It was a bit easier than I thought. But I did make it quite clear if we didn’t all leave in one piece we’d reduce his camp to rubble with everyone in it.”
“He knows the territory. Something’s waiting for us out here.”
Back at the camp, not only had the commander’s men search for the hidden weapons, and, when everyone checked, were still there, they had also taken off the crates with the film equipment. I was not sure what the commander was intending to do with the equipment, but what disappointed me was the fact we hadn’t taken the time to rescue the rocket launcher.
Now the commander had it.
If he bothered to search the crates properly. I suspect he was yet to do so. What we had rescued and successfully hidden were the C4 explosives and detonators. They might come in useful at the airstrip.
Just before we reached the fork in the road, where we would be turning left to head towards the airfield, and surprisingly had not run into any of the commander’s men, we stopped and let Monroe and Shurl out to make a sweep towards the airstrip, not too far away.
I also called up Mobley to see how he was.
The Colonel answered. “Everything is under control now.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. “What happened?”
“The kidnappers send out a team to intercept us on the way to the airstrip. It wasn’t a stretch to imagine they would know what we were planning because they’d know we would not be retracing out steps to Uganda. Got them before they got a shot off. I suspect there are Government troops at the airstrip, it’s too important to let anything happen to rich foreigners coming to see their wildlife reserve. There are several troop carriers, and we’ve seen a few men on the outskirts patrolling. There’s several at the gate if you could call it that.”
“Is there a plane there?”
“As it happens there is. A grand old DC3. It’s not a charter plane, so I’m guessing it belongs to an overentitled American big game hunter or the photographic variety. At least I’m hoping that’s the case.”
“What do you recommend?”
“Not to storm the field. You’re going to have to find another means of getting here, preferably without any fanfare.”
My first choice was to go in and get out, with as little firefight as possible, particularly in case they started shooting at the plane. If I was reading between the lines properly, the Colonel was telling me there were more troops there than we could handle quickly and quietly.
“Very good. Can you get sight on just how many troops are there, and if you can see who’s in charge?”
Monroe had been standing next to me during the exchange.
“Three in place, two more on the perimeter, if we can cover as many as possible, you might be able to take the rest from the inside.”
Secreting the weapons again, maybe. It was a possibility, but going in with hidden weapons, and then found by the guards at the gate, who would be more efficient and careful searchers than the kidnappers, it would create hostility and itchy trigger fingers.
“No. We have to find some way of letting them feel as though they have complete control of the situation. They know we’re coming; the commander would have told them.” The only reason why he was still the cat who ate the canary. He might even have told them he had some men waiting as the first line of defense.
The airstrip commander would then know we were armed and relatively dangerous.
It was time for yet another dangerous gambit.
I picked up the radio. “Colonel?”
A second later, “Sergeant?”
“Whatever happens in the next twenty minutes or so, just ignore it. It’s not much of a plan, but it will get us onto the field.”
“Hopefully some divine intervention.”
Monroe looked skeptical. “You’re going to just drive up to the gate and surrender?”
“Not exactly. It won’t be fait accompli until we reach the terminal, or hanger, or whatever the commander has set up as headquarters. They’ll have most of our weapons, yes. But they won’t have all of us.”
“No. But they’ll know we have a sniper, so one of you are going to have to allow yourself to be captured, just to ease their minds.”
“Leaving one of us and Mobley and the Ugandans. Can we trust them?”
“I hope so, otherwise this could go badly. But, today, I’m an optimist. We’ve got this far.”
Trying to show more confidence in the plan that I had. It was always a worry when you had to trust people you didn’t know. That had been the problem the last time. At least this time we had managed to get the hostages. It was always going to be a problem getting them out.
Monroe gave me one of her special, you’re a fool, looks. “I hope you know what you’re doing.” She then nodded in Shurl’s direction and they disappeared into the bush again.
I gestured to Davies to come over.
“Did you find out what sort of plane it is?”
“Hopefully. The Colonel tells me there’s a DC3 off the airstrip. I assume you can fly one.”
She smiled, the first time since this operation had started. “Sure can. I spent three summers putting one back together. My dad has a sort of airplane museum. A DC3, a DC4, and a Lancaster, a very sorry looking Lancaster at that. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Then try to not get shot.”
“Do my very best not to.”
Once again, it was time to go. Going into the unknown was getting to be the norm, but hopefully, this would be the last time. I didn’t consider it wise to advise the hostages, they had their own problems to worry about.
© Charles Heath 2020