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The Coup

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  • The Coup

    Well I'll kick it off. This, fittingly, has it's genesis in the classic MP.net Dogs Of War thread.

    An early draft, has been updated but this will do in the meantime.

    ----------------- Not very well paragraphed, etc due to the transition from Word to this format. Meh.

    Chapter 1

    Death is rolling in every verse

    I was up before sunrise. Didn’t know what day of the week it was. Didn’t know the date. Didn’t care. I drank a bottle of water laced with electrolytes as I went through a series of stretches. When I was satisfied most of the kinks and knots had been worked out of my recovering body I got dressed in my running kit, left the bungalow and slowly jogged down the track leading to the coast road. The humid air was laden with foreign smells that I was still becoming accustomed to even all these months later. As I ran I carefully catalogued all that was going on around me. Looking for inconsistencies in my surroundings, tell tales of unfamiliar presence. It had been over a year since I’d faced a direct threat but that was no reason for complacency. I slowed to a walk as I approached the road and veered into the scrub to one side. I stood in concealment for a few minutes observing the vantage points that anyone would use to get eyes on the conventional exit to my current residence. Satisfied that there was no one in an obvious position I started jogging down a narrow foot track that paralleled the road.
    It occurred to me once again that I was approaching my time limit of occupation here. Nothing specific to force me to consider a change. Yet. Just a general feeling of having pushed my time here borne of intuition and other subliminal feelings. There were plenty of expats on this section of the Indonesian coast for me to blend in with, and I certainly looked the part of the itinerant western surfer dude, my hair was down to my shoulders and my beard would have done Jesus proud. Months of a fruit and fish heavy diet, with running and surfing as my main exercise, had left my body lean and brown. The Silat martial arts training that had been introduced to me early in my recovery was packing ropey muscle onto my frame with increasing rapidity. The locals didn’t bother me at all. I was polite and respectful and had enough Bahasa to communicate effectively. My peers by and large didn’t pry into each other’s business, however human nature was such that over time a sense of familiarity grew naturally within the micro communities to the point where reciprocation was naturally expected and noted when not forthcoming. I generally extended this period by staying away from the usual tourist haunts, bars, nightclubs, whorehouses, etc, wherever I went, but eventually questions would begin to be asked. Answers more stridently sought. I hadn’t survived this long by ignoring the patterns and currents of human behaviour.
    As ever, I had plans thought out in advance and in place to cover a range of contingencies. I had taken to working out my future locations “2 up”, the first in detail and the one beyond that in general. That was for ‘normal’ living. If things turned to **** suddenly, I had emergency ‘rat runs’ planned out using a variety of modes of transportation that would get me to various ‘boltholes’ in different locations across South East Asia and the Pacific designed to hide and support me for a short period of time till I was able to move on. Barring unforeseen circumstances i had the funds to survive the next couple of years operating this way in a fair level of comfort. My only extenuating factor would be boredom.
    Where was this all heading? Well, the overall plan as such was to recover and let the dust settle from the late unpleasantness to the point where i could move a little more freely and work. The culmination of that period would lead me to Africa or the Middle East where I’d get back into some form of security work. Pretty loose as far as plans go, even overall ones, but given the circumstances it was about as good as it was going to get in the meantime.
    I picked up the pace as the major muscle groups in my legs warmed up and broke off the track onto the road. Traffic was picking up with small holders moving their produce into town for the market. I cut through the traffic and onto the coastal plain and through a palm oil plantation. After a couple of kilometres of gently undulating terrain, a series of relatively low but steep sided hills began. I powered up their front slopes and coasted down their rear, building up a good sweat in the process. At what amounted to the halfway point I decided to pause the run and go for a swim to cool down. On one of my first runs after arriving here i’d chanced upon a secluded cove all but hidden on the tip of a blunt peninsular jutting into the ocean. There was no road or even track leading to it and it was far enough off the beaten path that few if any seemed to visit it. I sat for awhile on the cliff top overlooking the beach, drinking in the sea air and admiring the view, before I made my way carefully down the switchback cliff side path that led to the far corner of the cove. At the other end maybe 200m away was a small lagoon fed by a waterfall from the cliff above. A narrow band of scrub and palm trees about 80m wide buttressed the cliffs from the white sand beach and the crystal blue water.

    As i reached the base of the path my ears picked out a faint buzzing sound to my front. I became instantly wary, not once having come across my fellow man here and quickly but quietly made my way towards the tree line. I’d prefer to avoid meeting anyone else here if at possible and would simply leave if necessary. Always pays to be sure of the circumstances before acting though. The sound faded in and out and was difficult to isolate over the wash of surf at the shore. I was about to withdraw back into the scrub and cloverleaf around to get a better view further along when I caught a flash of movement out of my peripheral vision. An IRB appeared motoring around the headland at speed and then turned and made a beeline for the shore directly to my front. A quick glance told me the vessel contained four men, all of whom were armed with rifles. I sank slowly from my kneeling position into the ****e and low crawled backwards to give myself some room to move. I snuggled into a rotten chunk of palm tree log, hiding in its shadow.

    My brain sprang into high gear, measuring angles, assessing routes, cover and concealment, cycling through its instinctive combat appreciation.
    That was the front of my mind. The back of my brain went off on a tangent, trying to figure out the process by which this crew had found me, conducted surveillance, planned a hit or snatch, and then been able to implement it, because what else were they doing here? All of which would have taken a decent amount of time. And yet despite all my caution I had not picked up on any of the indicators of that activity.
    But that was for later. Now I had to get out of this situation and into a more favourable one. The path back up the cliff was out of the question as it would leave me fully exposed to observation and fire from below. Getting past them and into the water looked virtually impossible, so the only option at the moment was to go to ground. My black dry fit T shirt and shorts didn’t provide great camouflage but were better than nothing right now.
    The four got out of the boat then stood for awhile talking to each other urgently and looking around. A conclusion reached, they fanned out in line abreast over a 20 metre frontage and began making their way directly towards me up the beach. Their weapons, all AK47 type rifles, were held ready and facing their front. I palmed the spyderco folder from where it was clipped to the inside of my pants and thumbed the blade open. I began to breathe deeply, saturating my body with extra oxygen and gathered my arms and legs under me to attack off the ground. The odds were **** house but I going to go hard regardless. As they reached the edge of the tree line they paused and looked to their right. More of the low buzzing sound announced the arrival of yet another IRB. This one disgorged another group of armed men at the other end of the beach about 200 metres away.

    Awesome. Pincer move. ****.

    Group one stopped halfway to the tree line and engaged in a loud conversation with what i assumed was the second group via a Motorola type radio. This gave me a chance to assess them. The weapons they held looked brand new, but the men themselves ragged and unkept. Their clothes were threadbare and they were barefoot. I couldn’t see any spare mags or other equipment, although they did carry satchels. The fact that they were bunched up, talking loudly and not really facing delineated ‘arcs’ of observation and searching for threats in a situation like this showed that they certainly weren’t professionals.
    So who the **** were they? The back of my mind swung off on another tangent. This didn’t add up, my main threat was from Indonesian security forces working on behalf of a foreign organisation. So I would expect to see a unit of Det 88, Kopassus or the Indo Pol equivalent fitted out in full tac kit with attached Caucasian observers from either Interpol, NZ Pol or maybe the AFP. There was a secondary threat from the criminal organisation that I had destroyed in New Zealand over a year ago, or more to the point from their international associates, but I judged that as fairly low.

    © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

  • #2
    Before that train of thought went any further, the group to my front started moving towards me again, still talking loudly to the other crew over the radio. I could now pick up snatches of the conversation which was in Bahasa.
    “......At least two of ...... maybe four....guards.....armed...”

    Wait. What?

    This led to some anxious chatter from the group in front of me.

    “He said only one guard! Now he’s saying four?”

    “Calm down. Given what she is worth to us of course she will have more than one guard. Even if there are four, we are ten against them and we know they have only pistols. It will still be easy.”

    Perspective flipped on its head. I was not the target. Someone else was. Apparently. Ok, fine. But it’s not like I could stand up and walk away. My circumstances remained extant.

    They continued on, now semi obscured by the waste high scrub they were relatively alert and obviously searching for something, or someone. The furtherest on the right was going to pass close by me, so he was the first I’d go for. I would be on his left but his attention was taken up with talking to the guy to his right and watching where he was walking. The next guy in line was yapping away in Bahasa, talking nervously about a girl from the snatches I could understand. I slowed my breathing as they drew closer and split my attention between the two of them.

    BAP BAP......BAP BAP BAP POKPOKPOK

    Gunfire erupted from down the other end of the beach. A pistol fired first, then return fire from an AK with its distinctive popping sound. More pistol fire, then high pitched screaming from a male, amidst other indistinct shouting. Alternating pistol fire and AK’s firing in bursts, then a single pistol shot and an abrupt end to the screaming.

    Contact Contact wait out!

    Adrenaline began to flow and focus tightened right up as the group in front of me stopped in their tracks and swung away from me towards the sound of the battle. One of them shouted a command in Bahasa and they took off running towards the gunfire. Except the one nearest to me, who for some reason hesitated. As the rest of the group disappeared into the undergrowth he began to follow although at a slower pace. I couldn’t see or envisage a better opportunity, so got out from under the log, gathered myself and charged him from behind. With all his attention focused to his front he never heard or saw it coming. I reached around and cupped his mouth whilst simultaneously stabbing him in the right kidney, then kicked out the back of his knee and inserted the blade into his brainstem just under the back of his right ear, wiggling it around to be sure. He died instantaneously and I lowered his body to the ground and *****ped his rifle off him. I wiped the blade clean and gave his corpse a cursory check. Finding a spare mag in the satchel, I checked the rifles chamber to ensure there was a round seated and thumbed the selector to semi. The gunfire was building down the beach, the group from my location had obviously married up with their mates and the combined firepower would soon overwhelm whoever was down there.
    I was pretty sure judging from the snippets of conversation i’d overheard that I wasn’t the object of this little activity and there was in fact another group on the beach who these ****s were after. That still didn’t solve my dilemma however as I still wouldn’t be able to extricate myself with any guarantee of safety as the situation stood currently.

    **** it. The best defence is a violent offence.

    I stuck the spare mag in my waistband, brought the AK to my shoulder in the low ready and headed off to sound of the guns. Paralleling the beach about twenty metres inside the tree line, I took my risks early by moving at a quick jog, then slowed down as i approached the source of the gunfire till I was stalking in one pace at a time. Closing up on the firing point I could see three indistinct shapes through the thinning foliage, laid out on a low mound that from memory I knew overlooked the lagoon. Any sound my approach may have made was masked by the firing as I covered off the central of the three ****e firers, crabbed up till I was just to his rear and then from left to right double tapped two rounds into each of them between their shoulder blades. Each one just collapsed where they lay, still facing the lagoon, hunched over their weapons. I crawled over them and *****ped their weapons away, quickly *****ping the bolts out and throwing them into the scrub behind me.
    I changed mags for the full one and peered over the mound at the lagoon below. There were a group of three people at the far end of the lagoon, up by the waterfall taking cover in some rocks. Two males and a female. Both males were armed and firing. One guy looked wounded from the way he moved. At the seaward side of the lagoon there were three bodies spread across the beach, two motionless and one feebly crawling back towards the boat, leaving a snail trail of blood in the sand. Two more of the boat guys were on the far side of the lagoon against the rock wall. From the way one moved along he was wounded too, trying to cradle his AK in his left hand and stay in cover as he crabbed along the rock wall towards the group they had pinned down in the rocks at the end. Of the tenth guy there was no sign. I took up the ****e position and sighted in on the guy still in the fight. As I took up the slack on the trigger, there was a flurry of shooting from my left and I turned to see the tenth boat guy charging along the bottom of the cliff face towards the end of the lagoon, firing his AK from the hip. The wounded guy now had no cover but stood his ground and opened fire with his pistol with deliberate aimed shots, leaning against the rocks for support. The guys on the far side opened fire as well, trying to suppress or kill the pistol shooter. We were now all laid out in a diamond formation with about 60-70 metres between us. The pistol shooter went down in a welter of blood from a hits to the chest, his mate was also firing at the running guy. I could just make out the female taking cover behind him. I got up onto one knee and snapped off five quick rounds at the running guy to my left. Off hand and with an unzeroed AK at 70m with a moving target, I was fortunate to get a hit which clipped a leg out from under him and sent him tumbling across the sand.

    © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

    Comment


    • #3
      I switched fire to his mates across the lagoon, dropped back into the ****e and fired three quick double taps, one of which connected and dropped the wounded guy face down into the water. His mate dived into the cover of the rocks around him and i put three more rounds into his general area to keep him occupied. I turned back in time to see the guy i’d wounded snap off a round which caught the last pistol guy in the lower arm, sending him flying. He was up and limping towards the pistol guy who was now in my line of fire, making it impossible for me to safely engage limpy. I took off at a dead run towards the pair trying to angle for a shot, but there just wasn’t the room left. I fired a couple of rounds over his head to get his attention but he was either the best of them or too far gone to care and didn’t take any notice. A second later he’d reached the wounded guy and placed his AK barrel against his head. Surprisingly it was his head that exploded and he fell straight down on top of his intended victim.

      The female stepped out from behind the rock, pistol trained on headless guy in a two handed weaver grip, slide locked back on an empty chamber. Noticing me apparently for the first time, she swivelled at the waist to point her weapon at me then screamed as a round mangled her hand and sent the pistol flying. I crash tackled her to the ground out of the line of fire and then dragged her into the cover of the rocks before stepping back out as the air cracked and thumped around my head with further incoming fire and laid down a few rounds into the rocks around where i’d last seen the remaining bad guy. His fire abruptly ceased and I used the pause to drag the wounded guy into cover as well.
      He was a big bulky guy that had PMC/PSD written all over him from his shaved head and goatee to his tribal tattooed arms, bulked up from years spent in weight rooms and no doubt several metric tons of ‘nutritional’ supplements. Now though, he was white as a sheet, barely conscious and going into shock. He’d taken a round in his wrist that had then travelled up his forearm before exiting messily from his elbow. Lots of blood and lots of pain. I paused to check how many rounds were left in the AK’s mag (eighteen) before popping out and putting two rounds into the rocks again. I lay the rifle down, cut off the guy’s polo shirt and started tearing it into *****s.
      As I did this I gave the girl the once over, she was curled up with her injured hand cradled in her lap, swearing up a storm. Swearing meant breathing and coherency which meant no immediate danger of expiry. Back to old mate. I tied a knot in a ***** then bound the guys arm with the knot putting direct pressure on his inner forearm, keeping an eye and ear on what the last bad guy was up to.
      No sign of him so I figured that after sorting out the females hand i’d have to go and hunt him down. I gave the guy with the chest wound a cursory examination but it was clear that he was gone. His bowels had evacuated and the place now stunk of cordite, fresh blood, **** and piss. Perversely comforting. I *****ped him of his pistol and remaining magazine and moved over to the girl.
      She looked about eighteen or nineteen and attractive in a lithe sporty kinda way. Dark hair cut in a pixie style with bright blue eyes. Dressed in shiny black ****** with a crisp white shirt, blood spattered starkly across it, knotted at her trim waist. She saw me coming and uncurled up onto her feet and into a combat stance. I was surprised and impressed all at once.

      “You ok?”
      I got a glare in return.

      “You speak English?” No answer. But the glare was fading into a grimace.

      She still cradled her left hand but I could tell it was badly damaged. I would have expected her to be curled up in the foetal position squealing like a stuck pig, but she obviously had some spine to her. I stopped out of her reach and reloaded the pistol. She watched me closely. I held up the pistol, a Glock, side on.

      “There’s fourteen rounds in the mag, and one in the chamber. Safeties on.”

      I then laid the pistol on the rocks just out of her reach and backed right off. It was a gamble to trust an unknown person in a situation like this with a pistol at my back, but she obviously could use it and had no qualms about killing. I was just as obviously just as much of an unknown quantity to her. Communication was the best way forward.
      “I live here, came down for a swim. I saw ten men land in two boats. There’s one left alive as far as I can tell, although a couple more may be wounded. I really need your help to deal with the last one. “
      I poked my head around the rocks again as I spoke, rifle shouldered. Nothing.

      “To be of use to me though you really need that hand to be bandaged up. How about you let me do that for you. You can hold the pistol on me while I do it if it makes.....”
      Snick.

      I turned back to look at her. She’d retrieved the pistol and had it pointed at my chest. She had her left hand stuffed under right armpit. I held her eyes with a neutral stare for a count of three.
      “Well?”

      “Yes. It will make me feel much better to cover you as you bandage my hand.” Interesting accent. Faintly American with a weird guttural tone. Feminine but very husky. My eyes almost dropped to her crotch to check. I wasted no time in binding her hand.

      The round had hit in the web of her hand between her ring finger and little finger making quite a mess. Her breath hissed between her teeth as I gently moved her dangling fingers into line then bandaged them together firmly. The pain almost overwhelmed her and she staggered and would have dropped had I not caught her under the arms and propped her against the rocks. I quickly finished bandaging her hand and then opened the top button of her blouse.
      She glared at me from the edge of consciousness.

      I held one hand up, “Don’t flatter yourself; I need to elevate your hand to slow the bleeding”

      Although to be honest, the rush of hormones and endorphins with the onset of combat, mixed with the package of chemicals that her fresh sweat were delivering to my animal brain - left my adult brain compensating hurriedly to remain focussed. *** and death. Fighting and ****ing. A perverse duality perhaps but one as old as mankind, which I was well accustomed to.

      Placing her hand on her chest; I buttoned her blouse below and above the wrist to hold it in place.
      Turning back to the task of dealing with the last guy, I began to notice a rhythmic thumping over the sound of the waves crashing onto the headland. I couldn’t narrow down the direction from which it came as the cliffs were reverberating the sound as it gained strength. This didn’t sound like another boat, more like a...

      Whopwhopwhopwhop


      © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

      Comment


      • #4
        A helicopter suddenly flashed low over the cove, descending from behind the cliffs and banking out across the beach as it slowed. Both doors were open and locked back. Three pairs of legs dangled out each side and I could see more seated in between them. The glimpse as they dove past showed me that they were all armed and wearing tactical vests. Ok, who the **** were these guys? That clearly wasn’t an Indo chopper, it has a civi rego and the guys I could see were anglos. That meant they weren’t TNI, etc. Were they reinforcements for the boat guys? A rival crew? The combat appreciation process kicked up a few notches.
        I froze as I felt the pistol press into my neck. Then it scrapped past and the girls hand hooked over my shoulder as she struggled to stand upright. I instinctively slipped my left hand around her waist and up under her arm to support her weight. There was a crackle of muted automatic fire in short bursts from one side of the helo as it swung around towards us past the far wall of the lagoon where the last guy was holed up and then it came to a hover side on to our front. The shooters inside all had their weapons trained on us. Things had happened so quickly that I was left in a really ****ty tactical position. Any attempt to attack or defend against these guys would see me and the girl gunned down where we stood. I carefully dropped the AK off to one side and raised my right hand. The girl waved to the occupants. The centre guy in the door facing us waved back.
        Curious.

        He had a headset on and cupped the boom mic in his hand for a second. The helo hovered lower, not quite landing and the three guys on either side jumped the few feet to the ground. The helo then climbed away with the remaining two occupants taking the vacant doorway spaces. It remained in a slow orbit about one hundred feet above us.
        Good tactics. Put a force on the ground to sweep through and secure but keep your helo airborne with a team to provide overwatch.
        The ground team tracked over to us in a 4 up, 2 in depth formation. Two covering us, two watching the flanks and two covering the rear. They were armed with Heckler & Koch G36K’s with ACOG’s or Aimpoints, and suppressors. They wore coyote brown patterned Molle plate carriers with assortment of pouches and equipment. Each had an earpiece and throat mic. They moved confidently and fluidly as a group, weapons at the ready. In terms of tactics, deportment and equipment, they were a decidedly more professional crew than the boat guys.

        On the one hand I was professionally impressed. On the other I accepted that these guys would be more difficult to deal with by several orders of magnitude than the last guys had been if things went to ****. And I wasn’t sure where I stood just yet from their point of view.

        The ground team stopped short and the rear four went down on a knee and into all round defence. The front two approached a little closer, weapons trained on us and the taller of the two spoke briefly into his throat mic in a language I didn’t recognise. I became acutely aware of the pistol hanging over my right shoulder.
        Before i could say anything, the girl began speaking in the same language to the tall guy. The conversation lasted about three minutes and although i didn’t understand the words I was reading the body language clearly enough. The tall guy was obviously the commander of this group and although he didn’t particularly like what he was hearing he was listening respectfully and his responses were equally respectful. That told me something about the girl and the situation overall. The leader walked off a few paces and began a conversation over his radio.

        She turned to me and spoke into my ear.
        “These are my father’s men. They are his security team. They’ve come to save me after my guards radioed that we had been attacked. I told them you have already saved me. I explained what has happened.”
        Her breath tickled my ear and I shrugged.

        Right. Situation update. Girl and her bodyguards at the beach. A gang of ****sticks try and take the girl. I got stuck in the middle and ****ed their plan up. Daddy’s cavalry came riding in to save the day. All’s well that ends well.

        “Ok, so if you’re safe with these guys, which you obviously are, there’s no need for me to hang around. I’m quite happy to go my separate way now. ”
        Before I could move, the leader came back and began speaking.

        “My father wants to talk to you. Ephraim is under orders to escort you back to the ship.”

        At that, Ephraim stepped around to my right rear, and his opposite number my left rear, and closed in just out of reach but with their weapons at the low ready. Unspoken command; Start walking in this direction. Now.
        Neat move.

        The girl held onto her pistol, I held onto her, and we both moved awkwardly in the direction indicated. Ephraim spoke into his mic again and the helo swooped down to land to our front. I turned us away from the sand and spray debris thrown up from the lagoon by the rotor wash until the blades changed pitch, and then climbed into the cargo bay. There were two more security guys in there, both armed with long guns, some sort of SR-25 clones. Scoped, Semi auto, 7.62mm 20 rd magazines, suppressors to tame the muzzle rise. Just the thing for precision airborne fire support. I strapped us both web seats side by side and gave the pilot a nod. Habit. Ephraim sat opposite us between the pilots and kept me discreetly covered with his weapon. To be expected. I’d do the same in his position.

        He spoke into his mike and the helo lifted off smoothly and banked out over the ocean. I caught glimpses of several dead bodies before we straightened up. My idyllic swimming spot had lost its lustre.
        We flew low and fast out to sea. I looked over at the girl. She was slumped in her seat, parasympathetic backlash, the natural reaction to an intense sustained flight or fight response taking its toll on her. The crushing fatigue left you emotionally and physically drained as the chemicals the body had force fed itself through a critical incident abruptly dissipated. I’d seen soldiers fall asleep in the middle of a rolling battle due to its effects. She also had shock brought on by her injuries to contend with. I shook her a couple of times to keep her awake, tried to get her to talk to keep her from sliding deeper into shock. I didn’t know what ‘ship’ we were supposed to be going to but I hoped it had a really good doctor for her sake. I could feel the effects of post combat come down myself. Training and experience had taught me how to ride it out. I kept alert by working through my options and cataloguing all the info I had at hand so far.
        Ten minutes later according to my G Shock a vessel emerged through the visual soup of the tropical heat haze. I suddenly tensed as it looked for all the world like the silhouette of a warship to me. As we closed though I could see that it was actually a yacht. A very large one. So big I didn’t think ‘super’ would be a suitable descriptor for it. At least 150 metres from bow to stern. Painted in complicated shades of cream and blue. It was the size of a small cruise liner yet from its layout clearly not intended for the masses. We swung into the wind and came in to land on a marked pad amidships. We disembarked and the helo immediately took off and headed back the way we’d come. There was a reception committee off to one side of the pad. More armed guards (how many were there?) and some smartly dressed crew(wo)men in white. They’d brought a stretcher with them and promptly placed the goatee guy on it then disappeared to I could only guess where, for his sake I hoped a well appointed sick bay.

        © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

        Comment


        • #5
          A small group stood slightly apart from the others. Three men, two in their sixties and one considerably younger, more my age. He was of medium height and build, had a full head of grey hair and moved awkwardly, as if all his limbs were working independently of each other. He dragged his right leg and didn’t seem able to turn his head, but instead moved his whole body to look around. Serious back injury at some point in his past. From the way all others in the vicinity deferred to him, both directly and indirectly, he was clearly the man. He spent some minutes talking to the girl, both of them occasionally glancing over in my direction. Presently, he hugged her carefully and sent her off with another crewman. Once the girl was on her way he turned his attention to where I stood on the other side of the deck. Ephraim had placed himself off to one side where he had an unobstructed line of fire on me if he so required one. The trio approached me, the man teetering from leg to leg as if constantly about to topple over. He stopped just outside my personal space and conducted a thorough appraisal.
          “My name is Rolf Von Steinhoff.” He said, holding out his hand.

          I shook it. Regardless of any apparent physical issues, his grip was firm and strong. “Michael.” I replied, offering the least amount of information necessary rather than lie.
          “Michael....you have apparently, at least according to her, saved my daughter’s life. It would appear that I am indebted to you. ”
          He spoke with a slight accent but with such precise diction as to make it impossible to define.

          “You don’t seem convinced?”

          “I will be honest and admit that I am not. My family has been deliberately attacked and I am unsure as yet as to what the circumstances are. Therefore I am unsure as to what to make of my daughters story. A certain sense of paranoia is inescapable and perhaps prudent in times like these.”

          “I can empathise. On both points.”

          “Perhaps. We will see. I will certainly require to...interview...you about the circumstances regarding this morning’s incident. But first I must see to my daughter. I must insist that you remain my guest until such time as I can be assured of the situation. I apologise in advance if this inconveniences you.”

          Like I had a choice. Meh, at least he was polite about it.

          “I understand. I hope your daughter recovers quickly and look forward to talking further with you so that we may resolve this situation to our mutual satisfaction.”
          Steinhoff gave a little tip of the head and said, “Just so. In the meantime, please go with Ephraim and my security chief Hans, they will ensure you are taken care of.” I smiled sardonically; ‘taken care of’ could be construed in a number of ways.
          Hans shook my hand and led me down a level and sternwards. We passed through several open areas which seemed designed for entertaining, on a grand scale. The opulence was beyond anything I’d encountered in my life. The decor was stylish and understated, but clearly very expensive. In fact expensive didn’t begin to describe what i was seeing. We ended up on the fantail level a couple of decks above sea. The space was adorned with varnished teak and set out as a lounge with deep leather sofas in the same cream/blue style as the hull and low tables arrayed seemingly in random. With a sweep of his arm Hans offered me a seat and refreshments. I accepted both offers and settled into the remarkably comfy couch.
          Hans preceded to debrief me thoroughly on the morning’s events. Having been debriefed many times in the past and done more than a little of it myself, it went very smoothly and quickly. I held nothing back and spoke honestly and in great detail where necessary as I recalled the events from my personal point of view. I was careful to separate out what I knew as fact from what was only my opinion.
          Presently food and drink arrived. Tea, coffee, fruit juices, water and plates of toast and breakfast meats, bowls of fruit, yogurt and nuts. I helped myself, needing to recharge my body after the morning’s exertions. No doubt Hans was using the pause to good effect, collating and analysing what he’d learnt about me so far.

          We made small talk as we ate. Or at least that’s how it would have seemed to an outsider. In reality, a weird little verbal dance played out with Ephraim looking on from across the deck. They knew enough about me by now to know I was no ‘ordinary citizen’. Given the circumstances they were determined to learn as much about me as possible. I on the other hand had good reason to mask my background and personal situation as much as possible, keeping in mind that the way I’d been talking and reacting to events earlier in the morning so far clearly indicated that I had capacity beyond what could be considered as the norm. Hans undoubtedly had an intelligence background of some kind. His questioning technique was unhurried and would have appeared natural to someone without training and a lot of experience. Sticking to my itinerant surfer retired dude cover story, I trickle fed information into the conversation rather than speaking as if from a script. Hans was mentally cataloguing every last thing I said, choosing the most promising pieces intelligence wise and following those branches as far as possible whilst attempting to wring every last drop of information out of them and me that he could. All the while remaining amiable and discreet.

          Presently Von Steinhoff entered the room, stumbling along in that shambling gate of his towards us. He sat down across from us both with a little smile at the corner of his mouth.
          “I am glad to see we are meeting our obligations as your hosts, Michael. You will be interested to know that my daughter’s perspective of this morning’s events has been supported by her bodyguard. We also have independent verification from the cursory scene investigation conducted by my staff. They also managed to question the remaining assailant, at least till he expired from his wounds.” That faint smile again. “I have also been listening to Hans’s interview with you and have matched your version of events to what i have learned thus far. I know enough now to be confident that appearances were accurate as they first seemed. So, whilst we are still investigating the incident and there remain many unanswered questions, what is clear is that you weren’t involved with the assailants, that you did in point of fact save my daughter. Therefore I am indebted to you.”
          I kept my face neutral and nodded.

          “Well, I don’t see that you owe me a debt at all. But I’d appreciate it if you could drop me back on shore and then we can go our separate ways. I would consider us even at that.”
          “I will be happy to arrange that for you Michael, it is the very least I could do under the circumstances, but I wonder if we could discuss one final matter first before we go our separate ways?”
          I nodded my head and flicked my hand up in a ‘come on’ gesture.
          “I am a man of enormous means, Michael. This boat, well ship really, was designed from the keel up to serve my purposes. It is my home, my office and in times of threat my fortress. It cost 700 million dollars US to construct and another 280 million to fit out. I could have one hundred more built with the wealth I have at my disposal. I am a billionaire many times over. I state these facts not in attempt to impress you, but to illustrate that even with all this wealth at my disposal and the power and influence that brings, I can’t even protect my own daughter from those who would wish me harm. ”
          Wordlessly, I picked an orange from the bowl and leant forward towards Von Steinhoff. Palming my knife from my waistband, I thumbed the blade open and then peeled the orange with it. Looking at each one of them in turn as I did so to see if i’d made my point.
          Ephraim and Hans had gone very still. I’d been in close proximity to their boss, a man they were expected to protect, on two occasions now and during an overall situation that should have lent itself to a heightened state of security. This whole time i’d been armed and an unknown quantity. Whoops.
          Wordless looks laden with communication flicked between the three of them.
          I ate my orange in silence, wiped the juice from my face with the back of my hand, put my knife way in my waist band and then leaned back into the sofa.
          “The fact is Herr Von Steinhoff...”
          “Please, call me Rolf.”
          “The fact is Rolf, you can never fully protect yourself or your family. If someone wants to do them or you harm, and they possess the will power and capability, then they will succeed eventually.”
          “I understand. This brings me to the heart of the final matter I wish to discuss with you, a man’s inability to fully protect his family. That is something you know only too well from personal experience, if my information is correct, Michael. Or should I say, Michael Rune.”

          © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

          Comment


          • #6
            I stared at him impassively.

            I looked at Hans, he wasn’t surprised at the announcement. Neither was Ephraim. Heh, situational update through their Bluetooth receivers. Slick.
            “I did not recognise you at first, and of course the world believes you to be dead. The circumstances that lead to that belief are, were, most compelling. I doubt whether anyone truly thinks you still live. Add to that you have lost weight plus the beard and hair completely breakup the shape of your head and face, you look like a different man.”
            “What gave it away?”
            “The eyes Michael, I knew i’d seen them before. I wasn’t sure of course, but the more I listened to your conversation with Hans, the more certain I became. Michael, you can’t know this of course but I have studied you at great length and in quite some depth. You came to my attention via the news reports that circulated at the time. Your situation and the circumstances leading to it intrigued me. They also resonated with me on a deeply personal level. The more I learned through open sources, the more detail I wanted to know. Clearly” he gestured awkwardly behind himself, “I am a man of means, as I have already stated and as you can see for yourself. At times I indulge myself by applying my means to personal projects which are really nothing more than a whim. Hans was most helpful in collecting a wide range of personal information about you.” Hans inclined his head in a slight salute.
            “I must say that I was most surprised to realise that the infamous Michael Rune was aboard my ship. I watched and listened to your conversation with Hans via the security system to make sure my hunch was correct. I must also say that I was of two minds before I entered the suite; part of me wanted you off my ship as soon as humanly possible, by whatever means necessary” There was that smile again, I smiled dangerously in return. “And the other wanted to offer you a position within my organisation.”

            Ephraim had seen the look on my face and instinctively shifted his stance a fraction, twisting his body to lead with his left foot and shoulder and bringing his hands down to his sides from where they were clasped previously.
            Von Steinhoff, sensing my attitude from my body language and seeing his guard move and obviously understanding its portent, held up his hands in a placating manner. His arms bobbled around like a puppets as he spoke quickly.
            “Michael, you are a man with a formidable reputation, and if any of us had thought the stories of your previous exploits had been exaggerated then this morning’s events would have only reinforced your abilities beyond any doubt. I quickly realised that you are far better to have on ones side, or at least as a neutral party, than to make into an enemy. ”
            My smile lost some of its edge and slowly made its way to my eyes.

            Von Steinhoff took a deep breath. Ephraim relaxed by degrees.

            “As I said Michael, a part of me considered offering you a position. Certainly, I have ‘gaps’ in my security that require immediate attention” This with a sideways glance at Hans. “Although as you say, there is only ever so much you can do. I too now this from personal experience.”

            I held up a hand to interrupt.

            “I don’t do PSD work. I’m not interested in standing outside someone’s room for hours on end, carrying their luggage or shopping bags, opening their car doors for them and being prepared to catch a bullet on their behalf, etcetera. Not my style. No offence.” I waved at Ephraim. He stared back impassively.
            “Yes well, that’s not a position I had in mind.”
            “Oh my bad, I’ll shut the **** up and let you finish then.” Some of the tension bleeding out verbally.

            I expected to get a rise out of him but was surprised when he merely smiled back ruefully.
            “I’m well aware of your....unique... sense of humour, amongst other character traits. As I have already said, what I learnt Michael is that you are not a man to be crossed for any reason and under any circumstances. I need you to know that I understand that and that I understand what the consequences of deceiving you or going against you would be. You may be aware, in New Zealand in the aftermath of your actions, they have a coined a new saying, ‘to be runed’. It pertains to doing something negative to someone and having that person come back and destroy or greatly damage your circumstances in revenge. Really quite a delicious play on words.”
            I shook my head. “I turned my back on that country a long time ago; I don’t waste any effort on finding out what goes on there.”
            “I can understand that. Regardless, I do not wish for myself or my organisation and other interests to ‘be runed’. I can only imagine that having you as an enemy would be like contracting a two legged case of cancer. Or maybe Ebola virus.” He started chuckling at his own joke.

            © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

            Comment


            • #7
              I smiled not because it was funny, it was, but because I appreciated the perversity.

              “I also understand that you do not know me and therefore cannot trust me. And of course you are a man who does not trust easily. I would however like to be given the opportunity to build a level of trust with you.“
              “That would depend on what it is you want from me. This position you want to offer?”
              “Of course. I also know from my research that you do not suffer fools and you can be impatient, however you can appreciate I had to state my position with regards to my respect for you up front, for my own piece of mind if nothing else. But to the point, I wish to offer you a position as my special projects manager. ”
              “What’s the project?” Because I could tell he had a specific one in mind.
              He leaned forward with some effort and looked me in the eye. “Overthrow the dictator of a small African nation and install a puppet government in its stead.”
              “Well, that’s quite a project.”
              “Isn’t it just? I have been considering this project for some time however have not been able to source a suitable manager for it. This morning’s unfortunate event has by some bizarre twist of fate conspired to provide me with almost the perfect candidate from my point of view. I am a man who knows intrinsically how to recognise and take advantage of opportunity Michael. I would not be where I am today without that trait. Anyway, I do not expect you to give me an answer on this immediately.”
              “Well, I appreciate your patience.” I said dryly.
              “Indeed.” He said with a slow smile. “I am a patient man Michael, and although I hope we can work together on this project I will understand if you decide to go your own way. I also understand there will be much you wish to know before making your final decision, both about myself and about the project. But I think that I can convince you that this project in particular, and working for me in general, can and will be of great benefit to you.”
              “Rolf, I admit that I am intrigued. But you are correct. There is much more I want to know before I commit. If I commit.”
              “Then that is a good start Michael. What I suggest we do from here is that I fly you back to the cove.” Seeing me shake my head he was quick to add, “Do not be concerned, my men have been meticulous in their clearance of the area. You will find all trace has gone from the scene and therefore there is nothing to lead anyone to believe anything untoward has occurred there. The sheltered nature of the cove is such that I believe few if any would have heard the gunfire, let alone witnessed the events. Anyway, I will give you a number where you can reach me, night or day, if you should so choose too.”
              With that he stood and gestured back towards the helo pad.
              “If you decide to come back Michael, I will give you a tour of my ship. Underneath the gloss, she has many attributes a man like you will appreciate.”
              “What’s her name?”
              “Badmash. It means....”
              “Hooligan. In Dari.”
              “Just so! I had forgotten you had spent some time in that region. A cemetery of grand dreams and designs, don’t you think?”
              “I most certainly agree.”
              “My father gave me the nickname when I was a child. He picked up the term during his time there in the early 80’s.”
              More information to add to my growing picture of the man.

              We came out of the wide companionway and up the flight of stairs leading to the pad. The Long Ranger sat astride the deck, engine idling. Rolf handed me a card embossed with a string of numbers and nothing else, then grasped my hand and drew me close to shout into my ear over the rotors blades roar.
              “I must thank you once again for saving my daughter. She literally means the world to me. It is a debt that I must repay in some way, shape or form.”
              “Seriously, think nothing of it Rolf. By the way what is your daughter’s name; we never had a chance to get introduced.” Rolf raised his eyebrow. Really?
              “We were a little busy at the time to be exchanging pleasantries.”
              He nodded thoughtfully. “Well of course you would have been. Her name is Katya. She is my only child.”
              “Ok, well I hope Katya recovers from the experience and the injury she suffered.” We shook hands.

              And with that I boarded the helo and flew back to the beach.

              © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

              Comment


              • #8
                Chapter 2

                The man in the arena

                I shifted locations as a matter of course. The chances that someone had heard or seen the fight on the beach or come across its aftermath in some way shape or form were too high for me to risk hanging around here anymore. I had no strong feelings either way about where i’d spent the last few months so wasn’t fussed about leaving. The drill for moving was also well planned and rehearsed to the point where it was virtually effortless in terms of required outputs.

                The new location was several hours away on another island. The great thing about travelling in Indonesia, with seventeen thousand islands and the requirement for transportation between them all, is that there was plenty of anonymous travel opportunities to be had. Many vessels were carrying passengers and freight illegally without licenses or paying taxes and therefore the ability to move off the grid gave me far greater freedom of movement than I would have had in many other countries. The move and setup took over a week and allowed me to consider Rolf Von Steinhoff’s offer. Not so much the offer itself as there really wasn’t much to go on, but more about whether or not I wished to become involved in something of this magnitude, which would lead who only knew where...

                By the end of the week i’d decided and a couple of days later, after making some final preparations, I rang the number.

                The Badmash’s helo picked me up a day later and flew me out to the ship. I was met by the man himself and two gorgeous women in flawless makeup and immaculate, tight uniforms. Von Steinhoff didn’t muck me around. After the two crew showed me to my state room, I dumped my overnight bag and was shown to a conference room already set up for a presentation. Food and drinks were available down one wall and I helped myself before settling into one of the plush armchairs. Rolf and Hans were there, as was the third elderly gentleman I saw the first time I landed on this ship. Rolf introduced him as Ernst Volker, his business manager, then sat across from me.

                “First of all Michael, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you for returning. I can understand that it is something of a gamble for you to come here again, not really knowing me or what it is I intend. I’d like to start by explaining why I have chosen you for this position. I have had the project in mind for quite some time. It was never until recently in any way a priority for me although some preliminary ground work has been done over the last several years. But I could not find an individual to manage and run the project. There are plenty of potential candidates, particularly given the wars waged by the west in the last decade. But given the delicacy of the task and the specific requirements, which we’ll cover in due course, a fitting individual could not be sourced. And then free will and chaos conspire to cross our paths. From my research I know that you have the willpower and capability, the training and experience, to manage this project. What you don’t have, and what I will provide, are the resources to achieve this project. Do you know of a country called Equatorial Guinea?”

                “I've heard it mentioned. Somewhere central on the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa if I remember rightly. I don’t recall many details though.”
                “Well you know of the place we are talking about then, however I’ll let Hans give you a more detailed background with regards to the country, and then I will explain why I want this project done. After that I will require an answer from you as to whether or not you’ll undertake the task. Alright?” I nodded.

                Hans positioned himself off to one side of the blank front wall as a huge LCD screen flickered to life. As he began speaking a Powerpoint presentation scrolled through slide by slide.
                “Equatorial Guinea, a small country on the central west coast of Africa. It has two parts: a Continental Region (Río Muni), including several small offshore islands including Corisco, Elobey Grande and Elobey Chico; and an insular region containing Annobón island and Bioko island (formerly Fernando Po) where the capital Malabo is situated. Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko Island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the east is the mainland region. Equatorial Guinea is bordered by Cameroon on the north, Gabon on the south and east, and the Gulf of Guinea on the west, where the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name is suggestive of its location near both the equator and the Gulf of Guinea. Besides the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast next to Morocco, it is the only territory in mainland Africa with Spanish as the official language. With an area of 28,000 square kilometres Equatorial Guinea is one of the smallest countries in continental Africa.
                “It is also the richest per capita; the discovery of sizeable petroleum reserves in recent years is altering the economic and political status of the country. Its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranks 28th in the world however, most of the country's considerable oil wealth actually lies in the hands of only a few people, with 70% of the population living under the United Nations Poverty Threshold of $2/day. With a population of 650,702, Equatorial Guinea is the third-smallest country in continental Africa.”

                “A short history of the country is as follows. In the continental region that is now Equatorial Guinea there are believed to have been pygmies, of whom only isolated pockets remain in southern Río Muni. Bantu migrations between the 18th and 20th centuries brought the coastal tribes and later the Fang. Elements of the latter may have generated the Bubi, who emigrated to Bioko from Cameroon and Rio Muni in several waves and succeeded former Neolithic populations. The Annobón population, native to Angola, was introduced by the Portuguese via São Tomé island (São Tomé and Príncipe).The Portuguese explorer Fernão do Pó, seeking a path to India, is credited as being the first European to discover the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa ("Beautiful"), but it quickly took on the name of its European discoverer. The islands of Fernando Pó and Annobón were colonized by Portugal in 1474.In 1778, the island, adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger and Ogoue Rivers were ceded to Spain in exchange for South America´s territory Sacramento In September 1968, Francisco Macías Nguema was elected first president of Equatorial Guinea, and independence was recognized on 12 October 1968. In July 1970, Nguema created a single-party state. Nguema’s reign of terror led to the death or exile of up to 1/3 of the country's population. Out of a population of 300,000, an estimated 80,000 had been killed. The economy collapsed, and skilled citizens and foreigners left. Teodoro Obiang deposed Francisco Macías Nguema on 3 August 1979, in a bloody coup d'état.”



                © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

                Comment


                • #9
                  “Economically as I’ve stated before, EQ’s main hard currency GDP earnings come from its large reserves and production of oil and natural gas. Current production is 500,000 barrels per day and climbing. Farming, fishing and forestry also contribute to the GDP but successive brutal regimes have diminished potential for growth in the rural economy. Much of the oil wealth is siphoned off by Obiang, his family, particularly his son, and various other senior officials within his regime, mostly from his own tribe. ”
                  Hans stepped back from the screen and left a map of EQ up.

                  “It is only a general country brief; but are there any questions, Michael?”

                  “Not yet Hans, thank you.” Hans nodded to Rolf, who turned to me.

                  “So to continue, the project I want you to manage would be to overthrow the government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and install a puppet government in its stead.”

                  There was a pause as everyone in the room looked at me for my reaction. I was expecting something of a military nature, but nothing of this magnitude. Still, I maintained professional demeanour, in fact didn’t show any visible reaction and simply waited for them to continue.

                  “Now, as to why I want this done, Michael.” Rolf leaned forward in his chair, “I told you when we first met that I understood you. This understanding is what drew me to the details of your story and why I researched it with something of an obsession. Why I was able to recognize you even though we’d never met and your features are so obscured. But you of course can’t possibly understand or even believe me when I say that to you. So I will explain.

                  Some twenty years ago, I was a Project engineer for the Russian energy company Gazprom. Back then Gazprom was one of the largest energy companies in the world and in a few short years since the fall of the Soviet Union it had exploded in size. My specialty was prospecting and the initial development of new finds. I was married to a beautiful East German girl and we had a new baby, a girl, Katya. My life was good. Then it all changed.
                  The company was approached by the government of Equatorial Guinea to conduct a survey of the Gulf of Guinea in 1995. My team was dispatched to conduct it. The survey was forecast to take nine months or more so it was decided that little Katya would stay with her mother’s parents in Germany whilst my wife lisle and I would live in Equatorial Guinea. She was a doctor and would work at the main hospital in Balibo, the capital. Life for us was good to begin with, the expat community was thriving with social activity, our respective work was challenging and kept us both busy, and we were very much in love. The pay from this stint of work would set us up in some comfort on our return to Russia and I had already been sounded out with regards to launching a new energy firm. It was an exciting time and the future looked very bright. But after a few months the shadows began to close in. We were invited to the Presidential Palace to mark their independence day from Spain. It was the 12th of October. There was a receiving line, to meet the President, his family and senior officials. I remember everyone was very pleasant, but there was an undercurrent at play too. Arrogance which I expected, after all they are a dictatorship, but also something darker, a real malignancy. When Lisle and I got to the President’s son, Teodorin, things began to change. I’ve never seen such naked lust on a man’s face before or since Michael. I could see immediately that his overriding intention from that point forward was to bed my wife.”

                  Rolf’s fists were clenched and his knuckles had gone white. He saw me looking and relaxed a little self consciously. “I apologize, you’d think I’d be better able to control my emotions after so long, wouldn’t you?”

                  I shrugged. “Actually, I wouldn’t think that at all. It’s not in my psychological make up to let go of things easily. Hence the path that’s led me here today.”

                  “Of course. You must forgive me, even though I have studied you at great length, I am still surprised to find myself in your company.”

                  “Free will and chaos.” I said, echoing his earlier comment.

                  “Indeed. But I digress. The party. Teodorin pestered us constantly throughout the night, trying to win Lisle’s attention, but she wasn’t interested. Politely but firmly she rebuffed his advances again and again. Teodorin was clearly not accustomed to being turned down by anyone, let alone a woman. He became enraged, drinking to excess and making a scene. Eventually he tried to grab her breasts, I pushed him away and he tripped and fell. His father berated him, which only made things worse and in the end bodyguards for the president had to manhandle him from the room. We left the party as early as decorum would allow, both of us shaken. We could hear Teodorin screaming at us from inside the palace as we left. We heard nothing more on the matter over the next few weeks and thought the matter was over. We were quite wrong.”
                  “One night at the end of November during a monsoon Teodorin struck. He had his men slaughter our local guards and had us arrested. Lisle and I were separated. I was imprisoned in Black Beach prison and tortured brutally. They broke my ankles, knees and pelvis, my wrists, elbows and shoulders with lengths of reinforcing rod. One joint per day. On the thirteenth day they broke my back.”
                  “The next day they dragged me into a chair, I was delirious with pain by this stage, and made me watch a video. It showed a collage of scenes starting with my Lisle being interrogated by Teodorin. He accused me of conspiring against his father, of planning a coup, and threatened to have me executed unless she had sex with him. The filthy animal couldn’t just rape her against her will, that wouldn’t be sadistic enough, he had to make her want to do it herself. She refused for several days not realizing what I was being subjected to. Then he showed her video of them torturing me. My poor Lisle, she was devastated. That swine took her love for me and manipulated it for his own sordid ends. She agreed to have sex with him. He had her every way imaginable and whenever she balked at the next level of depravity he insisted on inflicting upon her he just showed her another video of me being abused. He soon broke her spirit to the point where she would mindlessly do whatever he demanded. The last scene of the video showed him having her gang raped by his men and then beaten and kicked to death to the soundtrack of their laughter. ”
                  “Once the video was finished he had me castrated and thrown into Black beach prison to die. Somehow, I did not expire though despite the inhuman treatment and conditions. I would say the intense hatred and thirst for revenge stooped me from descending into madness and sustained me through the horror. Three months later was released on ‘humanitarian grounds’ and deported to Germany.”
                  The sort of horror story you hear every now and then from Africa. Colonialism was only the second worst thing to happen to the continent. The worst was the obscene haste by which the Colonizers abandoned their charges to fend for themselves with societal framework or support. This lack of foundation to launch anything close to a stable society left most African nations ripe for exploitation along tribal lines. The psychotic and despotic rose to the top like so much shit.
                  “Did Gazprom do anything?”
                  Rolf shook his head. “The Russian government made some noise about the incident but the Guineans blamed criminals, they caught and executed some random men after a sham trial. They then offered Gazprom a share of the development rights to the oilfield. So the Russians caved. Understandable realpolitik. I recovered in time, and after a fashion. Although as you can see I am crippled and will forever remain so. I eventually took the job I’d been offered before going to EG, threw myself into it to escape from the past and, well, found out that while I’m a very good engineer, I am a much better businessman.”
                  “I did rebuild my life after it was all but ruined by these people, but I’ve never gotten over it. I have dreamed of revenge for years. Planned it all in my head over and over and over again. I will confess I have had several members of their family killed and have sabotaged their economy where ever I have been able to but it has not been enough, Michael. Nothing short of their complete destruction will suffice to bring me peace.”

                  I recognised a glint in his eyes as he spoke. A hint of madness.

                  “Simply put, I want that entire family destroyed for what they did to me. Their societal mechanism wiped from the face of the earth. And there is no better way than deposing them and destroying their power. That’s my personal reason. Obviously, from a business point of view, I can see an excellent opportunity in that securing the rights to their petroleum reserves through the new government would be an exquisite act in many ways as well. And of course, from a moral point of view, that country deserves its freedom. “

                  Rolf turned back to me. “Hans has given you the ‘where and what’, I have given you the ‘why’. If you agree to undertake this project for me then I will require you to give us the ‘how’ and ‘when’, having had time to conduct a feasibility study in order to determine what is required and planned accordingly of course.”

                  © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    “Of course.” I replied with a faint smile. “I have a question. Well several actually, but the answer to this will one set the scene as it were for most of the others.”

                    “Certainly.”

                    “What is your projected operating budget for this project?”
                    Ernst leant forward and spoke for the first time. “Currently, the provisional sum of US $100 million dollars has been allocated for this project. That is based on our initial, very conservative estimates. We expect and are prepared for it to cost more. Keep in mind that the current production level of Equatorial Guineas assets is just on 500,000 barrels a day. That equates to approximately US $300 million dollars a week in oil revenue. ”

                    Well, that puts things into a certain perspective.

                    “You understand the enormity of what you intend from a logistical perspective? Invading a country and knocking over its government is relatively simple and straight forward. The Americans managed it handsomely in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very different examples but In each case the existing regime was changed with relatively little effort and in a short space of time. The aftermath however was a different case entirely. Simply because the Americans and their allies in their arrogance had underestimated the enormity of the task they had set themselves. They thought quite simplistically that they would be welcomed as liberators and reacted badly when they were not. “

                    “I could plan and execute a coup that would topple the government of EG in fairly short order. It would be cheap and simple. You’d get your revenge by several orders of magnitude. But almost certainly that country would descend into civil war as those that see and recognise the opportunity rise up and take advantage of the old regimes fall. The oil infrastructure would be destroyed along with everything else of any worth and there would be no money to be made.
                    To make this work what’s required is a plan that not only deals with the existing regime and its various apparatuses but is also designed to deal with the aftermath of that regime change. The score settling, looting, general criminality, etc. Not to mention the fact that the country is controlled and run down to the lowest level by a very small and select group of people. The vacuum created upon their demise will need to be filled very quickly and competently in order to prevent anarchy."

                    “I understand that Michael. I am serious about this enterprise, and realistic, as well as committed.” Rolf said.

                    “How committed are you? Other than financially I mean? Because if we do this, you and I, it will be very far from bloodless. Even for the ordinary citizens of that country. Long held animosity and grudges are going to erupt into an orgy of revenge unless we are very fortunate and plan very effectively. It’s always the way in these tribal based societies when one faction lords it over another for long enough, particularly in Africa. How much death and destruction are you willing to be personally responsible for? How many destroyed lives?”

                    He glanced at me over his shoulder, “Truly? As many as it takes, Michael. I have thought of this for years. At times thought of nothing else. I will see that family burn and will enthusiastically destroy anything or anyone that stands in my way to make it so.” The flat hard tone of delivery and the look in his eyes convinced me. I’d seen that look many times. Usually In the mirror. “But, I also understand, and accept, that I have a moral responsibility to this country if I am to affect its current state of affairs to such a dramatic extent. Being as rich as I am does not preclude me from possessing a conscience.”
                    I sat staring at his back thinking it through.

                    Billionaire semi psycho wants to bankroll me to take over a small African nation. Heh, like there’s anything to really consider.

                    “Rolf”, he turned back to me, “If I’m to do this then I insist on doing it properly. No half measures and no interference. Call in all the experts for second opinions and advice if you want but I make the final decisions. With regards to chain of command, I demand complete control of this project and I report to you and you alone.”
                    “I agree.” He stated without hesitation.

                    “Ok. I’m in.”

                    Rolf turned slowly, a bleak smile etched across his face. “Thank you Michael, you can’t possibly know how much I appreciate it. But I have a question for you. You haven’t asked or demanded anything from me for this. What do you want in return for doing this for me?”

                    “Nothing immediately comes to mind.” He tilted his head quizzically at me. I shrugged my shoulders in return.“I haven’t given it any thought to be honest. But I’m sure I’ll figure something out.”

                    In the morning over breakfast we discussed preliminary logistics. Rolf had suggested that I relocate to an island he owned further east from here from where I could produce a draft Ops Plan to get the project off the ground. I agreed, knowing that I’d need a secure base for awhile. He needed to stay behind to conduct business and source the first members of the team I required. Apparently he already had people identified to fit my initial requirement of a staff consisting of an S1 (personnel), S2 (intelligence), S3 (operations) and S4 (logistics). He’d sourced them as part of the preliminary planning he’d conducted in recent years. He assured me they’d be available within a month. I’d given myself a month to research the operation and come up with a draft ops plan, so that would work out nicely.

                    The next morning a Canadair turbo prop float plane dropped out of the haze and splashed down next to the ship. A skiff took me and my bag out to the amphibian and no sooner had the door closed then we were bounding across the waves and into the air. Hans had supplied me with an encrypted android smart phone and laptop before I left to communicate and conduct research with.

                    I sat back in one of the plush seats and booted the computer up. A gorgeous stewardess in the same type of immaculate uniform I'd seen on the Badmash served me refreshments. “If Sir wishes anything else, please don’t hesitate to summon me” she said with a subtly suggestive smile and a bend at the waist that afforded me the view of a pair of perfectly proportioned breasts, before sashaying away down the aisle. I shook my head in wonder, connected to the planes satellite wifi and began to open source data mine for the project.

                    © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The Operational Concept

                      I was up early and went for a run down the beach then a swim through the breakers to bleed off some of the excess energy coursing through my system. I had a shower and dressed casually in a T shirt, cargo shorts and jandals before taking breakfast on the deck. A Boeing BBJ descended from out of the early morning haze in the distance and disappeared behind the palms as it touched down. I had set up the conference room the day before and rehearsed the presentation a couple of times from start to finish in order to iron out any kinks in the delivery. Wandering up the path to the main complex, I ran through the questions I forecast I could possibly be asked about the plan and formulated answers.

                      I was ten minutes early but there were already people seated in the auditorium. Hans and Ernst of course, but there were also some strangers. A much older man with a cane, elegantly dressed and sprightly looking with a mischievous glint in his eyes and three young, stylishly dressed women. They sat in a group off to one side. Rolf stomped in right behind me and greeted me warmly.
                      “Michael I would appreciate it if we could dispense with the formalities of introductions and launch straight into your presentation. After you’ve finished I would ask you to leave us in order that we may discuss your proposals.”

                      I nodded in agreement and went back to booting the laptop and starting the projector. As I did so I kept one eye on the group of strangers and conducted an evaluation in the back of my mind. The women were all of an approximate age and dressed to an impeccable standard of business attire. My initial instinct was that they may have been secretaries or PA’s for the old guy but three seemed excessive for one guy and their mutual body language suggested otherwise. All were at ease with one another with no deferment exchanged between them other than respect and politeness. Interesting...
                      I began briefing the ground by breaking it down from a general overview into the component parts that would affect the operation. I expressly stated that I did not have enough hard intelligence yet to be able to tie certain elements of the operation to exact locations.

                      Having finished with the ground brief i asked for any questions. There were none at that stage so i asked that there be no further questions till the end of the presentation. When uttering that long familiar phrase from so many O groups in days past I felt a frission of nostalgia for my old life.
                      I glanced down at my briefing notes took a sip of water, and then launched into the presentation.

                      “This as operational concept briefing for the, as yet, unnamed project of overthrowing the standing government of Equatorial Guinea. As touched upon in the ground brief, all information has been open sourced and therefore this brief will remain at the operational level for the most part.”

                      “The initial tasking was to conduct a feasibility study for a coup to remove the existing government. As I worked on the study I realised that simply changing the regime wouldn’t satisfy both of the original objectives set by the principle; one, to overthrow and destroy the ruling elite, and two, to secure the rights to the energy reserves. The first was relatively simple and could quickly be accomplished. The second would take a lot more effort, resources and time. Consequently the scope of the feasibility study has been expanded to encompass the greater span of the stated objectives.”

                      “There will be three lines of operations;
                      1. Leadership decapitation and key point take over
                      2. Installation of puppet interim govt and contracted security force
                      3. Consolidation of power and control

                        There will be a prequel that will involve the organisation and preparation of the assault force and follow up security force”

                        “The prequel will consist of recruiting, equipping and training the assault force. This activity will be conducted under the OPSEC umbrella of forming a Private Military Company. This company will be a legitimate business venture that will itself be an integral part of the plan as it will be contracted by the new interim government of EG to provide security in the immediate aftermath of the regime change. The company will be owned by you Rolf through a series of shell companies and will be a revenue generating entity in its own right.”
                      “For the assault force we will create our own teams and task organisation. For the leadership and command I'd prefer ex-commonwealth troops such as Kiwi’s, Aussies, Canadians. I've found they tend to be able to work together a lot better with each other and different ethnic groups due to their shared cultural values and societal characteristics than other disparate nations thrown together. For the rest I haven’t decided. We’ll be recruiting based on rank and experience, no one below Corporal/Infantry section commander level and all with at least two tours of operational experience. Direct combat roles, as opposed to fobbit work. All of an infantry background with a predilection for Airborne. No Special Forces types, I’m not interested in managing that level of egotists in those numbers. I also have some very specific psychological requirements we’ll be using to screen the assault crew applicants for the preferred candidates.”

                      © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

                      “The assault force will be designed to take the country in the specific sense of seizing key points and personnel and destroying others. It will not be able to hold any gains achieved for any length of time. Therefore another force will be required to follow on immediately, relieve the assault force, and continue seizing the rest of the country as well as consolidating those gains already made. The follow on force will consist of a battalion sized task force predominately made up of light infantry. They will be dual roled/tasked for conventional operations against any immediate intervention attempts by neighbouring nations as well as public order management and internal security. The bulk of the troops for this battalion will be drawn from Ghurkhas recently made redundant by the brits. Given the available pool of manpower raising such a battalion should take minimal time and effort, relatively speaking. As a contingency we’ll plan and prepare to recruit and train a second Ghurka battalion along with various support units should the situation require. We’re basically going to construct a standalone army in a box. This force will form the nucleus for what will eventually become the defacto EQ Defence force. Given the realistic time period required to recruit, equip, train and field a national military force from scratch in a country with such a stunted society, it can be expected that this force will remain in place for a number of years. At least five, perhaps as many as ten or more. Again, the PMC will be responsible for raising, training and sustaining this force. Under a lucrative contract to the provisional government of EQ, of course.”

                      “As for the operation concept, at this stage the intent for the first line of operations is to conduct a night raid designed to dislocate the countries C3I, such as it is, whilst simultaneously killing a number of HVT's and seizing control of key infrastructure around the capital. We will also destroy the Presidential Guard and any loyal military units.”

                      “The challenge is to make it seamless. Decapitate the ruling faction and then as quickly and smoothly as possible exchange it for a local puppet, preferably someone with credibility, if not then promise democratic elections a way down the line with a decent IO campaign to back it up, etc.”
                      “Decapitation includes the tribal leadership as well as the military leadership. The government and 90% of military and police forces are from the Fang tribe, of which there’s sixty seven clans, who took control of the country after decolonization of Equatorial Guinea from Spain. Its apparent familial and ethnic ties to the president determine promotions and influence within the military. It’s crucial to the long term viability of this plan that the leadership of that tribe is neutralised immediately. Military decision-making is completely centralized with the President also serving as the Minister of Defence. So, incompetent commanders are likely and the effects of a 'decapitation' strike will be that much greater than they would on a democratic government or western trained military. As part of the HUMINT operations we need to identify the second and third line leadership of the tribe and major clans and design a plan to convince them to support the new government, one way or the other.”

                      “As for locals, we’ll employ a number of them for the initial operation, most would be employed to provide HUMINT in the lead in, but I'd also train a force of them to provide a diversion on D day, and to put a quickly identifiable Guinean face on the operation. Make it look to the world as if it’s an internally conceived and led operation. A bit of a Sun Tzu, “make noise in the east, attack in the west”, kind of thing. But they won’t be entrusted with any critical operational objectives.”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        “The second line of operations consists of establishing initial national security and order by installing a puppet to lead the country in the interim as well as our PMC contracted by him, obviously with us pulling those strings, to secure the country in the absence of local security forces, till such forces can be established. The puppet clearly needs to be someone compliant and able to be controlled, but still have some social standing amongst the people of EQ. His selection and grooming will accordingly be vitally important. The PMC will not only act as a security force till the new local security forces have been organised and trained, it will also be contracted to do the training. As previously stated, this force will predominately employ Ghurkhas with commonwealth ex soldiers as the leadership and training element for the local forces. It will be prepped and ready to hand over with the assault force in a seamless transition immediately upon completion of the initial decapitation operation. This has the added effect of making outside interference far less likely in the short term. It’s one thing for a stakeholder to contemplate intervening in this situation if they know the opposition is a bunch of ragtag, poorly led and trained revolutionaries. Quite another if they’re presented with a well armed, trained and disciplined group of PMC’s, who are clearly working to a plan in restoring order, etc.”
                        “Externally, to enhance that effect, there needs to be a plan to placate the surrounding countries and reassure them that this issue will be resolved in short order and won’t spill over into their territories. Some diplomatic manoeuvring and perhaps treaty or trade negotiations would be useful. Some mapping of the other external stakeholders and modelling of their reactions must also take place. There needs to be a plan ready to deal with their reactions and pre-empt any actions they may take.”

                        “The third line of operations seamlessly transitions from the second. Internally, it’s vital to give the general populace the least amount to worry about during what will be a tumultuous period. A content population is less likely to rise up and take action. The plan in the immediate aftermath would be for a couple of NGO’s/ aid organisations to rapidly arrive and spread aid money around and action some ‘quick effect’ hearts and minds projects as well as beginning some medium and longer termed ones. As with the PMC brought in to provide security, these aid organisations will be set up by us and run through dummy corporations and as non-profits.
                        Hand in hand with the aid programs there will also be a requirement for a program to completely revamp the existing government structure. We’ll have to replace almost all heads of government ministries and departments with competent stand-ins till we can identify and train replacements from the local population. Also all government departments will need to be revamped from scratch given the endemic corruption and incompetence. A huge task but doing this will ensure that the status quo for the day to day running of the country carries on in the short to medium term and improves in the long term, which again will directly affect the stability of the population. The intent is to form a consultancy firm that will provide national and internal governance expertise and training for a contracted period of not less than five years, and probably longer.”

                        I turned the last page and but continued speaking from memory.

                        “The end state after the 3rd line of operations is that the country will be led by an interim provisional government, whose representatives are puppets controlled by us, that will be secured by a PMC that is controlled by us and with a population that, in the short to medium term, is supported and influenced by several NGO’s and political/governance consultancies who are, once again, controlled by us. With stability restored and control assured, the economic resources fall into your sphere of influence. For a very long time.”
                        “That ends my presentation. Are there any questions?” An ironic thing to say under the circumstances.

                        The old man with the cane raised his hand. I nodded in return.

                        “Can you provide some detail regarding the dislocation of 3CI, please?’”

                        “Certainly. Control of information is key which means, radio, TV, telephone exchanges, ISP's, news paper offices, etc, must be under our control from the outset. According to the CIA Fact book, there is 1 TV station and 3 FM radio stations. 55,000 cell phones and 9600 landline phones.
                        Control of transportation nodes, ie, APODs, SPODs, rail and bus terminals is also important.
                        I don’t know yet whether or not the TV and radio stations share a building and transmitter. If so that means we need to secure one TV station, three radio buildings, a telephone exchange and some kind of cell phone facility, and a building housing the servers for the ISP. This will factor into our planning and weigh heavily on our man power requirements.”
                        “Why do you not simply destroy the facilities or seize them?
                        “We don't want to destroy them because we'll need them in the aftermath as the backbone to our Information Operations campaign. We’ll need them to spread our message. The fact is you don't need to control the buildings themselves, only the means with which they have to broadcast. Our intelligence collection plan may well find a shared antenna cluster being used by most of the media. Control that and we cut down on the troop to task numbers we’ll otherwise need for every single target building. The intelligence collection plan will answer those questions amongst others.”

                        The red head cleared her throat. I nodded again.

                        “What do you know of the threat you will face.” Interesting accent. Throaty, sort of American, but clearly laid over something else.

                        “A unit of airborne infantry from Morocco, paid for by France, constitute the Presidential Guard. Apparently his association with the Moroccans goes back to 1979 when 600 Moroccan 'mercenaries' supported him in his coup. He is said to have close ties with Hassan II. This would make them crucial to his power base and puts them at the top of the HVT list. They’re anywhere from company to battalion minus in size. Other bodyguards are Gabonese and Guineans, with good experience and trained by Israel. Obiang's son tried to shoot over his father’s head in an incident two years ago and one of the Moroccans stopped the bullets with his body, so they're well trained and are dedicated. The rest of the military is pretty mediocre. There are approximately 2300 of them, of which 1400 are army, 400 paramilitary police and the rest are navy and air force. Overall they are poorly trained and equipped, mainly small arms with few heavy weapons. There are a number of soviet era armoured vehicles, trucks, aircraft and heavy equipment but they are as far as i can tell inoperable due to lack of maintenance and spares. There is no clear command structure; discipline and professionalism are low to nonexistent. It looks like a classic case of a dictator not trusting his own military not to attempt his overthrow, after all he was a general himself and has survived an estimated twelve coup attempts, so therefore he keeps them limited in capability, and instead relies on an elite guard of mercenaries to maintain his powerbase. Again, the intelligence collection plan will give us a clearer picture.”


                        © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The blond raised her hand, “How is the human terrain going to affect your plan?” Silky aristocratic lilt to her English accent. Thrilling.

                          “Unsure in detail at this stage. The power base has been within the Fang tribe since independence in 1968 as they make up the majority of the population, some 80%. As in other similar situations throughout Africa the dominant tribe treats the others as slaves or worse. The twist here is that the Fang are from Rio Muni on the mainland but in the islands the tribes are predominantly Bubi, Ndowe, Krio, etc with only 20% or so being Fang. Bioko and Annabon are of course where the capital, the military bases, deep water ports and oil production facilities are. Or in other words the military, political and economic centres of gravity. Hold those and you hold the country for all intents and purposes. Of course that’s overly simplistic, but I have some ideas to flesh out on how to transition the nation from the current state of play into something more suited to our requirements.”

                          The petite one with the raven hair was next.

                          “You mentioned mapping stakeholders and modelling their reactions? Are you able to explain that more?” French. What is this, the UN?
                          “Sure. We know that America has a strategic interest in EG, specifically because of its energy reserves. They’ve turned a blind eye to the regimes human rights and corruption excesses as a result. It helps that the regime is basically right wing in its leanings. Britain and France have both had an historical interest in the ‘gold’ coast of course. Spain as the former colonial power can be expected to have some level of interest. The large energy corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron will obviously have huge influence on their respective countries and others through lobbyists etc. And then of course the neighbouring countries; Gabon and Cameroon will understandably be concerned with events in EG. There will be more stakeholders besides these and we must identify them and then model and forecast any actions on their behalf that may affect us and develop suitable plans to mitigate, and if necessary pre-empt those actions. Get your retaliation in first, as it were.
                          The fact is though my background is at the tactical and operational level, whereas this is firmly in the realm of strategy which I’m comfortable admitting is beyond my personal experience. ”
                          “Perhaps so. But you seem to be doing just fine so far.” The Frenchwoman bestowed a gorgeous smile on me.

                          After a short period of silence I asked for any final questions. There were none so I gathered my notes, nodded to Rolf and walked out.
                          I felt no anxiety at being discussed behind closed doors. The plan was as sound as I could make it based on what information I had to hand and my experience. But it was Rolf’s dime so he had the yea or nay vote.

                          One of the house servants fetched me a drink and I sat on the expansive deck with my feet up in the sun, enjoying the cool breeze washing over me at intervals. After about twenty minutes the servant reappeared to request I return to the auditorium. Rolf didn’t waste any time.

                          “Michael, I approve of your outline plan. In fact we all do.” He stated, gesturing at the rest. “And I think now is the time to introduce you to your team.”

                          My team?

                          He gestured to the elderly gent. “Angus Stormont. Angus is your recruiter, he has contacts throughout the security and intelligence world and an uncanny ability to match the right person to the job.”
                          “How do you do.” in a soft Scottish burr.

                          “Yeah, good. Yourself?” I received a devilish smile in return.
                          “Angus has taken the liberty of choosing a principle staff for you. Angus?”

                          “Michael, while you were toiling away on your plan, and it’s a very well thought out one by the way considering your lack of support so far, Rolf contacted me and gave me the task of sourcing a number of experts to support you in this grand campaign of yours.” Eyes twinkling. “And this I have done. As per your request, I have sourced your principal staff officers. As an S1 you will have myself. Your S2 intelligence officer is Ms Jaime Middleton, late of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment of Her Majesties Armed Forces.” The aristocratic sounding blond.

                          “Hullo Michael.” Calculating ironic appraisal. Eye’s flitting across my face.
                          “G’day.” Polite smile in return. No BSA here for you girl. Instinctively I knew that Ms Middleton’s background was as Field Intelligence Operator or HUMINTer as it is colloquially known.

                          Next the cute red head. “Your S3 operations officer, Mrs Rachael Lavi. Rachael comes to us from the Israeli Defence Forces, specifically the Sayet Matkal unit, and has wide experience in complicated covert operations. ”
                          “Nice to meet you Michael.” That explained the interesting accent.
                          ”How’s it going?” The firm dry grip, lean ropey muscles coiling up her arms and calluses on the edges of her palms told me that Ms Lavi had some steel beneath that cute exterior. Appearances were certainly deceiving.

                          “And finally, Mademoiselle Dominique Piraud, formerly of the French Intelligence services. She will be your S4 logistics officer. ”
                          “Bonjour Michael.” Delicious accent. Silky smooth with all sorts of promising inflections.
                          “How you doing?”
                          “Very well thank you.” There was that smile again.

                          Rolf cleared his throat. “If you would all please excuse us, Michael and I have more to discuss. You will find servants waiting outside to take you to your rooms. Lunch will be at noon. I would appreciate your attendance but will understand if you would prefer to sleep off your jet lag. “

                          With nods and smiles they filed out and shut the door behind them.

                          Rolf stood and walked over to the window, looking out across the sea towards the horizon. “You have more than met my expectations with your plan Michael. You have comfortably exceeded them. I never thought you would disappoint, but...there is always an element of doubt, you understand?”
                          “I do.”
                          “Just so Michael. I’ve come to understand in the time that I’ve personally known you that you and I are much alike, except of course that you have already wrought your vengeance against those who took what you loved most. I was left in no fit state to do so personally, nor did I have the skills, experience or opportunity and as such have had to search for a suitable avatar to carry my war to them. With you I think I’ve happened across almost the perfect candidate. The skills, experience and willpower, that I have noted before. But also, you have no remaining ties either directly or indirectly to a government. You are a ghost for all intents and purposes, or maybe a shadow is more accurate. So being faced with the wrath of the Americans, British, the French or indeed anyone is really of no consequence to you. You are stateless and therefore unconcerned. And although I will pay you handsomely for your time, effort and risk I know that if you choose to work for me you won’t be doing it just for the money. I don’t need a mercenary, a warrior who works solely for riches. I need someone, who in his heart, is only ever comfortable fighting for a cause. In short I require a soldier.”
                          “But as much as you are a soldier fighting for a cause, soldiers still require to be paid for their time, efforts and risk.” He handed me a sheet of paper. “As my special projects manager I will of course provide you with a very generous salary package. The banking details are as per the sheet. Numbered secure accounts in several countries for your personal funds and several expense accounts for operational funds. All accessible via secure internet. You will also be given a new identity with the requisite legitimate documents, including a Diplomatic passport to reinforce it. I doubt reconstructive surgery will be required due to how your facial injuries have healed, however it would be prudent to erase your finger prints I think, yes? If you wish I can have that organised for you. ” The figures on the sheet, along with the rest of the package outlined, were indeed very generous. At least compared to anything i’d been paid before. Of course the NZDF who id worked for all my adult life had some of the lowest pay scales for a western army relatively speaking, so what did I know?

                          “Come Michael, let us lunch.” He smiled and clapped me on the shoulder. “Tonight I am hosting a party, just a few influential people. You’ll enjoy the atmosphere I think. Dress casually.”


                          © Ngati Tumatauenga 2014

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Posted a bit earlier than planned, so not very polished. Pretty rough actually.

                            But Bill requested it, so....

                            This takes place roughly 9 months after the events of the last chapters and approximately 6 months after the coup itself. It's actually probably a better fit for a sequel give the natural flow of the sequence of events in the first book.

                            The External

                            Long before first light broke across the emerald green waves of forest outside Ayok its inhabitants were waking to face the new day. Pungent smoke from numerous cooking fires filled the air followed soon by the smell of breakfast being prepared by each household. The Gabonese Army camp just to the East of the Mbe River was also waking up with the new recruits, conscripts in actual fact, as well as former EQ regime soldiers being kicked into rough lines on the newly bulldozed parade ground by their mercenary instructors and mentors.

                            Close to three thousand men, and a not a few women, were drawn up on the packed red earth. Dressed in knock off Chinese woodland pattern camouflage and armed with brand new Type 56 assault rifles, the mass of humanity were intended to be the backbone of the insurgency to reclaim Equatorial Guinea for its ruling Tribe. But first they required training and psychological conditioning to transform them into the raw meat needed for the coming campaign.

                            As the first rays of sun rent the air from the East, a steadily building whine interrupted the mega phone shouted instructions from the Equatoguinean Camp commander to his charges. Looking skywards the mass of people tried to identify the source of the sound as it reverberated off the buildings and surrounding jungle canopy. Already exhausted and anxious from little sleep, even less food and the long hours of training under the brutal instructors, the recruits began to panic at this eerie and unfathomable sound. As the edges of the formation began to falter, the instructors waded into the crowd beating anyone they saw wavering in their discipline. The whine reached a crescendo as a large passenger jet burst into view from the West at only a thousand feet of altitude. The camp commander had instinctively flinched when it suddenly appeared over the camp, cursing at his embarrassment at being seen to be frightened by what he recognized as only a Boeing 737 passenger jet. It continued steadily on towards the East blithely unaware of the commotion it had caused with its passing. Gradually the throng calmed down as they were kicked and beaten back into dull submission.

                            The camp commander picked himself off the ground and backhanded a smirking former EQ soldier standing next to the podium. He had transformed his embarrassment into rage and preceded to unleash it verbally on the pathetic recruits formed up below him. Spittle flying from his mouth, He berated their stupidity and inferiority. Reminding them yet again that because of the cowardice they had shown during the criminal invasion by the colonial terrorists they now owed their former country a debt that would be repaid, in blood if necessary. His captive audience stood dumbly before his as his rant continued knowing from bitter experience that to react was to invite swift and summary retribution.

                            Again came the steadily building whine cutting the commander short in his diatribe. This time it came from the East out of the rising sun. Cursing In exasperation, the camp commander shielded his eyes with a hand as he tried to spot the 737, apparently returning. This was the third time this week the plane had flown past the camp always at the same time from west to east. Although why it was returning so soon he couldn’t understand. Previously it hadn’t returned until late afternoon. His complaints to the Ministry of Defence in Libreville had yet to be answered.

                            Dozens of whiplash cracks abruptly rent the air above the trees to the East as dull orange puffs of smoke appeared in a ragged horizontal line. Two Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft flying wing tip to wing tip had each ripple fired four 20 round pods of rockets into the camp perimeter.

                            The one hundred and sixty S8S rockets discharged a maelstrom of 320,000 flechettes that carved a swathe of death across the parade ground and surrounding area. Shredded body parts, broken equipment and assorted unidentifiable detritus flew in all directions as a pink mist instantly erupted amidst gouts of red earth across the parade ground. A sound akin to a thousand meat cleavers impacting on flesh filled the air. The remnants of the morning parade not instantly felled by the hail of steel darts instinctively cringed at the sounds and sights around them for several long seconds before realizing the enormity of their situation and beginning to flee, panic stricken from the field in all directions. They tripped over and trampled their fellows in desperation to escape the carnage, running blindly for safety.

                            The Frogfoots followed up the rocket strike by dropping two RBK-500U cluster bombs apiece as they passed over the base perimeter less than two hundred metres above ground level. Each 500kg dispenser ejected 126 AO-2.5RTM munitions which hit the ground and bounced back to head height before exploding. The eastern side of Mbe river camp was inundated with shrapnel.
                            The SU-25s broke left and right leaving an expanse of human wreckage in their wake.

                            Two more Frogfoots appeared over the treeline from the east and split to fly down the length of either cardinal perimeter of the camp. Every half second they released an FZAB-500 incendiary frag bomb creating a wall of fire hundreds of metres long. The perimeter defences on the northern and southern sides of the camp were inundated in explosions and fire. As the quickly as the planes appeared they were gone. The howl of their twin Soyuz/Gavrilov R-195 turbo jets quickly dissipating until the screams and moans of the hundreds of wounded and dying took precedence.
                            The camp commander crawled out of the wreckage of the reviewing stand, his shredded left arm hanging limply. The air around him was moist with vaporised blood and stank of offal. From what little he could see of scene before him it resembled nothing so much as market abattoir, except on a huge scale.

                            Someone had hit the alert siren and for several seconds its wail fought against the wall of noise from hundreds of stricken throats before hit’s high/low tone took primacy. Through the haze of shock that engulfed him the commander saw men, mainly the instructor cadre, running to arm themselves and man the defences.

                            Through the shock he became aware of a fluttering whine steadily rising in the background. A brace of olive drab camouflaged MI-24V Hind gunships emerged from the wall of fire to the north, the flames licking their armoured belly’s as their rotors cast double vortices through the smoke. Five round BL-13 pods stacked beneath the stub wings ripple fired S-13D fuel air explosive rockets at the already battered eastern side of the camp. The FAE rounds detonated in huge concussive blast waves that drove domes of condensed humid air outwards for a fraction of a second before the heat vaporised the moisture in the air. The Twenty huge explosions walked across the eastern perimeter including the front entrance immolating people, buildings and vehicles; anything caught in their blast zones, leaving an area of scorched destruction and death. The overlapping blast waved spread across the camp knocking down flimsy accommodation huts and flipping vehicles, equipment and people across the ground.

                            Immediately behind the Hinds came a flight of four MI-17 troop carriers barely clearing the tree line and wall of flames before flaring dramatically into the area just cleansed by the rocket run. The already lowered tail ramps each disgorged dozens of camouflaged troopers who quickly formed up into five man fire teams and began assaulting west through the camp.

                            No defenders on that side of the camp, such as survived, attempted to engage the troops that had landed within their midst. The violence of the LZ preparation had effectively sanitized any defences in the area.

                            With his focus to the east the commander missed the approach of a pair of AN-32B Cline turboprop transport aircraft from the south. Line abreast they flew down the western side of the camp at 250 feet AGL, just off one side of the rough dirt airstrip. Streams of paratroopers disgorged out of each planes rear side doors, their dun coloured chutes snapping open long enough to allow their cargos to swing once or twice beneath them before plunging into the trees or spudding across the red earth.
                            Last edited by Ngati Tumatauenga; 01-09-2015, 08:16 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I hit the ground in a barely adequate para roll and stripped out of my harness, the chute collapsing away behind me. I then paused to orientate myself, at the same time unstrapping my Hun Gun and conducting a quick functions check. If the hard landing had fucked it, I wanted to know before I pulled the trigger. Satisfied, I checked the rest of my kit to make sure I hadn't lost or damaged anything during the exit and descent.
                              As I did so I watched the rest of the Jaegers RV into their teams before leading my guys further north behind the rapidly forming stop line. Spread out along the western bank of a dry stream bed facing back into the camp, the stop line was sited for maximum effect with arcs of observation and fire across the adjacent dirt airstrip. I figured once the terrorists were driven out of the camp by the Ghurkas and hit this obstacle in numbers, those few who survived would naturally flow North West towards the bridge over the Mbe River so leaned towards the right of the line.

                              As it was we were already encountering panic stricken terrorists sprinting headlong into our midst in ones and twos. The muffled reports of suppressed Hun Guns on single shot and the odd burst putting them down could be heard periodically up and down the stop line. Orders were to refrain from using the Pecheneg’s or MGL’s in the first instance. There was an MG per fireteam and an MGL per group and that much firepower would be decisive at the right time. But a heavy weight of fire to soon from those would give away the element of surprise and defeat the purpose of the stop line.

                              The eighty four Jaegers were settled across a roughly three hundred metre frontage by the time I reached the northern flank of the line. A steady patter of target reference point indications were being muttered between the pairs and fireteams as commander’s allocated arcs of observation and fire within their groups and coordinated with their flanks.
                              I held my hand out to Ryan for the handset and called the Kamov airborne CP/OP for a review of the situation. The Ghurka’s had successfully been inserted into the far side of the camp and were assaulting towards our present location, where the Jaegers had parachuted in to set up a stop line. On the other two flanks of the camp the Frogs had laid down a wall of incendiaries to dissuade any terrorists trying to make it out of the kill box, with a pair of Hinds running racetrack patterns down either flank to further deny .

                              I checked in with Harrington, the Ghurka Coy OC, for a sitrep. The Ghurkas had assaulted through and cleared about a quarter of the camp in a little less than fifteen minutes with no serious casualties, but resistance was stiffening as they approached areas not as thoroughly prepped by fires as the eastern fringe.
                              Van Neikerk’s men had rallied a number of the terrorists as the shock of the initial assault wore off and were leading them in a desperate defensive action, particularly around the camps HQ complex. They were also getting scratch teams manning some of the Anti-Aircraft weapons scattered around the airstrip. These were taking shots at the Hind gunbirds prowling the northern and southern perimeters, ineffectively so far, but they couldn’t afford to have their aerial firepower suppressed.
                              I had the Ghurkas go firm and directed the Kamov circling above as an airborne OP to bring down some mortar fire to suppress the AA guns. The KA-29 coordinated with the admin base fire support team and within a couple of minutes a mix of High Explosive airburst and white phosphorous 120mm bombs were being corrected onto each target till it was neutralized. Once they were suppressed I brought in a pair of Hinds to conduct gun runs on the defences around the HQ complex.
                              I didn’t want to use heavy ordinance on those buildings lest it destroy the intelligence haul they were sure to contain.

                              Long bursts of 23mm cannon fire sprayed across the compound and its immediate surroundings. Hundreds of high explosive rounds raising an instant cloud of dust and smoke. The Ghurkas began their assault immediately as the last MI-24 pulled off, storming across the parade ground under cover of their Pecheneg MG’s to breach multiple entry points simultaneously. A sections worth of troopers began a hard clearance of each building, the elimination of all enemy being the primary objective. A cacophony of concussion grenade detonations punctuated by automatic bursts erupted across the complex, interspersed could be heard faint shouts in broken English of ‘room clear!’ with the amount of dead enemy in each if any.
                              The gun runs broke the back of the camps resistance in the main, although one nest of holdouts just beyond the HQ building had to be destroyed in place. Two Ghurka fireteams saturated the breeze block structure with RPO-A Shmel rockets, obliterating the position and its defenders with thermobaric warheads.
                              With their will to fight shattered by the overwhelming firepower and superior soldier skills of the Ghurkas terrorists began streaming away from the attacking troops in ever increasing numbers. Channelised by the incendiary inundated ground to the North and South, as well as the Hinds lurking along those perimeters, what had been a trickle increased exponentially until hundreds of surviving terrorists fled for their lives towards the river.

                              From my position a few metres behind the line I watched as the trickle of retreating terrorist’s developed in less than a minute into a mob of panicked humanity surging clear of the camps confines and onto the wide swathe of dirt airstrip, desperate to escape the looming death behind them.
                              All the jaegers were in the prone position, both to minimize silhouettes and to improve aim. It almost looked like range shoot form the rear. The intermittent suppressed shots around me grew in quantity as more targets appeared. Then a Pech cut loose with its distinctive staccato growl, followed by the weird tonk tonk sound of an MLG as it spat a couple of 40mm rounds.
                              There was a pause in firing for a couple seconds then as the HEDP rounds detonated with a double crump amongst a knot of terrorists, knocking them sprawling, and then the stop line erupted from end to end as every weapon that could be brought to bear opened up on the mass of terrorists who’d materialised from the veil of smoke and dust across the camp.

                              They ran headlong into the massed fusillade of twenty Pecheneg machine guns. 7.62x54mm rounds sleeted across the hundred odd metres of open ground at a rate of seven hundred rounds per gun. Each gunner had linked two 250 round belts together and the Pechenegs unique design now came into its own, the gun able to fire at a sustained rate of 600 rounds a minute. The killing was augmented by the Jaeger group’s eight grenadiers, each of whom added six High Explosive Dual Purpose grenades to the slaughter.
                              The 148 grain steel cored bullets arced through the horde, at that short range often killing or wounding several terrorists each. Stomachs were eviscerated. Limbs cleaved from torsos. Huge gouts of flesh, bone and organs were torn out of bodies. What the bullets didn’t touch, and very often what they did, the grenades took care of. Misshapen shards of shrapnel spewed forth from each flash lit blossom of smoke, rendering bodies asunder in all directions.
                              It was difficult to tell for sure amongst the visual and audial overload but it didn’t seem that we were receiving much fire. There were a few cracks and snaps but that could just as well have been over shoots from the Ghurkas. Many of the terrorists were armed but in their panic stricken state they weren’t in a mind to use their weaponry. That was fine by me. A number of the terrorists also appeared unarmed but I didn’t give a shit about that either. If an individual was in this cam, then as far as concerned they were either a terrorist or a sympathiser.
                              Several minutes of concerted slaughter turned the airstrip into a carpet of thickly strewn prostrate bodies. Mostly corpses and those soon to be without immediate assistance expert trauma surgeons. Probably some laying doggo as well. The Jaegers would take care of that when they swept through conducting battlefield clearance. The air was now thick with dust and smoke, reeking of cordite and the complex stench of freshly rendered mammals.


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