Entry 44 – Nile
The river Nile – the jewel of Africa, a stripe of blue and green stretching across endless deserts, bringing life to an otherwise utterly barren region. That’s what welcomed us near Khartoum as our camp was located near its left bank.
Suddenly I had this strong sense of déjà vu. This is how my adventure started, in a desert surrounded by mercenaries. Only now Gail was at my side and other people I grew to know too – Jim Twocrows, currently preoccupied with explaining undoubtedly important things to a gaggle of fresh faces, O’Sullivan was here as well – I could recognize the thick Irish accent anywhere along with his signature curses. Everything was the same... and yet so different. This wasn’t a simple training job – this was far more.
Later that day we received a visit – an emissary from Coldridge Crocodiles, a notorious high-end mercenary company known for its ruthless conduct. True to their namesake, they like to operate along the river Nile so their presence wasn’t unexpected, but it was a bad omen nonetheless.
It immediately turned out they weren’t aware of our mission. They were stationed around some kind of an installation to the south of Khartoum and Jim, ever the diplomat, managed to convince them our small army wasn’t after whatever they were guarding. It’s not like they wouldn’t want us gone either way but witnessing the amount of firepower we were bringing was most likely behind the decision to believe us for the time being.
The bad news was that the news of our presence would soon reach whoever hired Hanson Coldridge and his gang of psychos. At best, we just drew a lot of unwanted attention to ourselves. At worst, we tipped off some people that we definitely didn’t want appraised of our goals, chief amongst them being Reginald O’Neill who was reportedly still looking for the culprits behind the Dublin raid. Either way, the clock was ticking.
We buried ourselves in preparations for yet another journey through the desert. A few more of those and I’m growing scales, I thought as I hauled crates upon crates of supplies to our trucks. Ammunition, food, water... everything a military unit might need for at least several days in the desert. And scientific equipment – I had no idea what most of it was even for but it looked important and expensive. By the day’s end, we were all sweaty and longing for a shower, but water was constantly an issue out here and the old industrial grade purifiers we brought from god knows where just weren’t up to the task of providing the much needed respite for all of us.
In the end, we all agreed that women would go first and whatever was left for us men would have to suffice – so much for equality, the cynical me thought, but the truth is that this is yet another thing hard-coded into us, an instinct embedded into our very nature. We may all be equal and all that but when push comes to shove, it’s the man’s duty to put himself between evil and the fair sex – even if the evil is just a stench of unwashed bodies.