Authors: Casey Christie
And the troop went off silently into the cold desert night. While they moved Night thought about the man they called Kalahari. His age was hard to determine, anywhere between 30 and 50, Night guessed. He spoke with a calm confidence that held a certainty of victory in it. For some reason Night felt a strong camaraderie with this man as though he had known him for a lifetime. He also felt sure that this man and his team could accomplish the mission themselves, but that was absurd --four vs. 24 – then again, even the General seemed to defer to this man they called Kalahari.
They marched silently for what seemed like both an eternity and no time at all. Night was lost in thoughts about Lisa and his beloved Wamba – was the great dog still alive, he wondered? How was Lisa? Was what he was doing right? Tactically he also realised that he and his team had been set the most difficult task within the mission objective. Their target would surely be ready and waiting by the time they reached the colonel’s marquee. But getting into a gunfight is never safe and without risk. Unlike Hollywood action movies sometimes the best art of war is to simply go to war. Head on. But was this strategy of blunt attack foolhardy and gratuitously dangerous? Well, whatever the answer was, from the day uSathane came into the life of Michael Night so violently it was forever changed.
Moments later Night’s attention was brought back to the present. The order was received to stand by. The troop halted. The Army SF men moved off into the dark. The General spoke on whispered tones over the radio net.
“Next command will be to move up to the staging area. Just around that koppie (small hill). The target is just beyond it.”
So the General, Night, Shaka, Stanislov, Tony, Kalahari and his three men waited patiently in formation for the word to come from Echo Bravo that the charges were set, his men were in position and they were ready to attack. This was the most crucial point in the operation. If Echo Bravo’s team failed, the mission would fail. If Echo Bravo’s team succeeded then the operation would most likely succeed. Seconds passed. Seconds turned into minutes. And the minutes continued to tick by. Night looked at the General who looked at Kalahari. Kalahari spread his hands. The General looked worried, for the first time in the operation. Then.
“Stand by. Stand by. Stand by.” And then.
“GO! GO! GO!” Radio Echo Bravo.
The line of men moved up to the staging area. The General peeled off to join the sniper at the OP.
They were in position. They could see the enemy, only metres in front of them. Night could see the ill-discipline of the perimeter watch. The patrolling front two were chatting, sitting on a large rock. The main defence of four were playing cards and drinking. Night knew then that his enemy were doomed.
BOOM! Multiple explosions rang out as one. The sound was thunderous and the effect was immediate. Night’s hearing vanished, as usual, he entered into tunnel vision and as one he and his comrades moved in. Then everything was crystal clear to Night. Time slowed. His vision enhanced, his speed and strength quadrupled and he entered into a secondary plane of existence. He was in bliss.
Night watched as the soldiers of the ZNA scrambled for their weapons but their efforts were futile. The first two men of the patrol went down like sacks of potatoes one after the other, the Scout Sniper double tapping each man, one in the chest, one in the head until they fell to the floor and then a few more rounds into their centre mass to make sure.
Kalahari and his men moved up and wielded their AKs in a manner Night didn’t think possible. They used short bursts of gunfire and cut down the guard of four within seconds. Night swore Kalahari had taken them all out himself. As they passed the fallen enemy two of the STF men finished their magazines of ammunition into the bodies of the collapsed men. To make sure. They tactically reloaded their weapons as they peeled off from Night and his men. Two by two. The Black Bastards moved past them and as they did so Kalahari gave Night a look and flashed him a smile. Night’s mind focused sharply once more on his objective and he concentrated on the tent in front of him.
It was bigger than it had first looked, deceptively so. The four men drew up to the Colonel’s lodging and were moments from entering when the first ZNA trooper appeared, a deranged look on his disfigured face. He lowered his AK to fire but it was far too late. Stanislov and Night cut the soldier down simultaneously sending more than a dozen rounds into him. He collapsed and they continued forward. Night and Stanislov drew their respective flashbangs and as one they pulled out the safety pins of their non-lethal stun grenades and expertly deployed them into the lair of the Devil and his men. They tactically stacked up at the entrance and waited a second for the explosions to sound and a second longer for the enemy to feel the disorienting effects of the flash and the bang. With a nod and a hand signal the Black Bastards and the General’s bodyguard breached the structure.
And there inside the dwelling Night saw the Colonel, uSathane, sitting on a large chair, he was smiling, and he was surrounded by six men, three on either side, their weapons drawn and aimed at Night and his men. Inconceivably the flashbangs had had little to no effect! Or perhaps they were just duds Night instantly thought – but he had heard the detonations. And more ominously they had got their intelligence wrong. There was more than double the amount of men in the target’s tent and they were doomed. The Colonel sat there unarmed so Night targeted the man next to him as he knew Stanislov would target the man on the far left and Shaka the man on the far right. Tony would have to think on his feet. Night was right, as one they opened fire and four men fell, bullets cutting them to pieces. Tony had done his part so far. But the two remaining soldiers had also opened fire and Night felt the burn of lead searing into his chest. Then he felt the huge hand of Shaka grab him on his right shoulder and pull him to the ground. Night went down and saw Shaka grab Stanislov and drag him into Tony, sending both men to the relative safety of the floor. Night realised what his friend was doing and he felt the excruciating pain of realisation that Zulu, his lifetime brother, was sacrificing himself.
The remaining two shooters acquired Shaka as a target and let loose a torrent of bullets upon him. A hailstorm of ammunition came down on the great Zulu warrior but he surged forward emitting inhuman strength, bellowing his Zulu battle cry. He threw his rifle down and pulled out his stabbing knife heading straight for the man who had mutilated and killed his little brother. Night saw uSathane stop smiling.
Meanwhile Stanislov and Tshabalala had regained some sort of composure and fired at the remaining two soldiers, each choosing to aim for the heads of their enemy and they succeeded, the two men fell in a heap to the floor, blood and brain matter splattered onto the back of the dusty white tent.
Sergeant Night saw uSathane rise to his feet, arms outstretched, his six guards dead on the floor. His expression was one of sneering contempt as he glared at Night and began an incantation in words Night had never heard. An almost imperceptible chill mist began to swirl around him and Night sensed the emergence of evil. But the Colonel’s eyeline shifted and he saw Shaka charging at him with his assegai raised. The arrogance fell from uSathane’s features and his face contorted into naked, visceral terror. The Zulu was upon him.
Daniel Shaka thrust his killing knife into the heart of Colonel Sifisu Sibanda from under his rib cage and lifted him clear off the ground. Shaka held him there, suspended in the air, while looking directly into his eyes.
“This is for my little brother Henry and for everybody else you have brought pain and misery to.” He then pulled the knife out and let uSathane fall to the floor. He slumped forward and Shaka caught his head and decapitated the criminal warlord with one mighty swipe and pull of his large killing knife.
uSathane fell to the ground, finally dead. And without his head.
Shaka dropped the Colonel’s skull, which neatly rolled its way next to the body of its owner, and Zulu fell backwards. The big man must have taken over a dozen 7.62MM rounds of AK ammunition to the chest at close range. He too was dead.
Night tried to stand up but couldn’t, he had taken a round to his chest and a round to his left leg that had shattered his shin bone. As he tried to stand up his leg collapsed in on itself. Night started to crawl to where his brother’s body lay.
Seconds later Kalahari and his men entered the tent.
“Outside is all clear. The majority of the force was in here! Our lot were sleeping. We kept them that way” said Kalahari.
Then Echo Bravo and one of his men entered the tent.
“All clear our side, all accounted for. One fatality… but he was sloppy.”
Night reached the lifeless form of Shaka and he put his arm on his large chest. There was no movement. Night pulled himself up to be able to look at the body of his friend. He noticed that Shaka’s chest was even larger than normal. He carefully removed his battle jacket and to his surprise saw that there was another kevlar vest underneath the protective kevlar and ceramic plating of the top battle jacket. Underneath that he had a trauma pack. Once Night had removed all of the defensive apparatus he felt something on Shaka’s chest. Was it? … It was.
The General entered the tent.
“We have it, the gold and cash. It is secure. There is still more to excavate but it’s all here. My God Michael, Daniel, my boys… are you… is he?”
“His heart is beating General, he is alive, barely” said Night.
The General took a deep breath.
“Thank God. Our plane is on the way and will touch down in under three minutes, I had arranged for him to fly past whether we succeeded or failed. The Bedouin men are setting up a landing strip and lights. We have a predetermined touchdown area and the pilot is also an excellent medic and a qualified CCA (Critical Care Assistant) and certified in ALS (Advanced Life Support.) We have full medical kit on board including a defibrillator, stretchers and drips.”
Night and his best friend could still survive. They stood a chance, albeit a small one. Would he enjoy another braai at Lisa’s place with his lifelong brother by his side and the great Wamba at his feet, only this time as a Captain and a millionaire? Time would certainly tell.
A personal message from the author:
Thank you for purchasing Night of the Black Bastards – I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it for you!
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All the best and stay safe,