“I’m up, I’m up. What is it?”
“Sir, we’ve got company…”
“Sir. Straight ahead, Sir.”
Getting up off of the wheelhouse floor, I peered over the control panel and saw a police boat coming towards us, two hundred yards out. A little larger than our boats but much faster by look of it. At once I knew what we had to do. I ordered my men to hide in and behind the wheelhouse and as we were being boarded they were to board the police boat and take control of it.
“Make sure you don’t kill any of them, L2. We don’t need the weight of the police force on our shoulders. Cuff and search them all and take their weapons. Go straight for their wheelhouse.”
Of course I knew we’d run into someone at some point but Jesus were we unlucky to meet these guys. In our uniforms we had no chance of bribing them and we couldn’t kill them. Even though we knew they were violent and corrupt. Scrambling into position, my men just about managed to hide themselves as the police boat pulled up alongside us. Thank god it was getting dark.
Their arrogant manor was apparent off the cuff as they tossed lines aboard for us to tie off. I delayed them as much as possible with smiles and laughter at the rail, but they brushed past me and stepped on deck. Three men in uniforms walked onto the open deck as a fourth walked right up to me and began barking orders in face. Glancing over his shoulder I could see two men in the wheelhouse and another on the roof of the wheelhouse training a rifle on me.
As my new friend continued to spray orders in my face I watched as Junior reached up and pulled a leg out from under the man atop the wheelhouse. As he fell face first into the wheelhouse roof my new friend spun around to see what had happened, and as he turned back to face me, he was met with the barrel of my side arm and five of my men pouring out of our wheelhouse aiming their guns at his friends. With the timing of a well-trained unit my men came together in a flash and overran the police vessel and the poor souls on our deck. A quick search of their boat showed no radio equipment, but at least we had them in our custody as well as their vessel in our possession.
With their hands in the air I motioned for them all to get down and they obeyed with grimaces and grunts. It was all over in a second, but now we had to deal with our unwanted visitors. I couldn’t let them go, and I didn’t want to hold them hostage, but I wasn’t about to murder them either. Once they were tied up, gagged and under watch we took off again, with the police boat escorting us with Murphy at the helm. Sailing away from sunrise that morning I knew we’d have to deposit our disgruntled cargo somewhere, but in that environment you could kill a man by dropping him in too secluded a location.
“Sir. What are we gonna do with these lads, Sir?”
“We’re gonna have to deposit them soon, Murphy. We can’t hold onto them, we haven’t got the food or water to spare.”
“Where do you want to leave them so, Sir?”
“Just keep your heading. We’ll get to the nature reserve in the next few hours and with the resources up there we’ll have time to decide what to do with them. Their vessel and uniforms will provide us with some extra cover too. If we’re lucky the locals will avoid us, our escort is a great cover.”
“You can say that again, Sir. I’ve already seen a few folk walk off the banks as we came by. These boys must have a hefty reputation.”
“I can only imagine. Did you see how he approached me? They put their uniform to shame.”
“Here, here. Sir.”
“You get any more hassle, come find me.”
And so I left the wheelhouse to take in some air. Having taken those men aboard we had made a bad situation even worse. It would be an all-out manhunt if they got back to their own men. It would be even worse if something were to happen to them, we would have been shot on sight. So there I sat, on the lip of the deck as we chugged along into our second morning on the water. The river breeze adding to our sense of relief as we sailed towards freedom – not to mention we didn’t have to march through the sand, let alone our having covered of hundreds of miles in a couple of days – morale was boosted to an all-time high. Looking around at my men I saw calm, relaxed faces. Like a proud father I reclined against the wheelhouse wall and let my thoughts drift to Anna.
I was of no illusion that by now she would have heard of the HQ getting overrun and would be attempting to find out what happened to my unit from back at home. Knowing her; while she would be keeping her worries from our son, of course, she would be distraught. I hated not being able to lift that burden from her shoulders and comfort her. I hated her being caught between my unit and these Shining Light madmen. I hated it, but there was nothing I could do about it so I decided to let it eat at me and just get on with the mission at hand. She wouldn’t want me to let my men down, or myself. At about three in the afternoon Junior stepped out of the wheelhouse as Toddy took the helm.
“Sir. We’re here, Sir.”
“I couldn’t read the sign but there were animals painted all over it. It looked the part.”
“Have Toddy slow down and signal Murphy on the lead boat. I want us to come to a stop over… there,” I ordered as I pointed towards a small cove rimmed with trees and long grass. “We need to get rid of one of these boats before we head across the lake.”
“Once we moor up I want you to get the lads to move the fuel from the escort boat and all of its reserves fed into this boat and the one behind us.”
“And I want all the uniforms and weapons taken from our guests. Then I want the boat readied to be sunk. Understood?”
“Sir, Yes, Sir!”
“And send Tony up to me.”
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey