El Soldat sat comfortably in the backseat of his air-conditioned Jeep, staring moodily out of the window.
It had all gone so wrong and so fast. One minute he had the one million dollars he needed to see the deal through and the next it was burning right before his very eyes! All his long put together plans, gone to pieces in a few short seconds!
He had just come from an important meeting with the top commanders of the sect, including the Supreme Commander himself, Abubakar Shekau, with his endless conspiracy theories, was already looking towards an internal spy and a secretly planted bomb, but El Soldat knew it was neither. That briefcase had somehow been rigged to explode in his possession, he was sure of it, although he couldn’t prove it.
The face of the leader of those Nigerian soldiers came clearly into his mind’s eye and El Soldat cursed him and all his generations bitterly. ‘The number is 555’ the vile being had said and he had told Yaro those very numbers as he passed him the briefcase to transfer the money.
El Soldat knew exactly why he was alive now and not dead like Yaro and the other two men. He was alive now because of the Boko Haram principles of ‘hatred’ for western ways and technology, which he had to obey, particularly when meeting with their top commanders.
It had been necessary for the money to be transferred from the ‘western looking’ briefcase to a locally made leather bag before El Soldat could present it to Abubakar Shekau and the other top commanders of Boko Haram along with the full details of the new arms deal he was putting together which would redefine their war completely by bringing them sophisticated weaponry. On arrival at his lodge from meeting with the Nigerian soldiers at the cathedral, he had given the briefcase to Yaro to make the transfer to the leather bag while he went about the important business of quenching his put up lust for the girl before leaving for the meeting with Abubakar Shekau and the other top commanders.
He had barely stepped a foot into the room where he kept her when the huge explosion came, knocking him off his feet and leaving him deaf and dazed for several minutes afterwards.
El Soldat was so glad he hadn’t died like a dog from this trickery today. It would have been highly dishonorable. A true soldier was supposed to die in combat or of old age after a life of accomplishments, this was the only way to achieve great honor in paradise.
Yes, a life of accomplishments. But what was to be his greatest accomplishment in life, the ultimate defeat of the Nigerian Armed Forces, had just been ruined.
He had gone to the meeting empty-handed and without the one million dollars he intended as part of the advance payments for the weapons and the top commanders had shut the door on the new arms deal without much delay. El Soldat had tried his best but failed to convince them differently. It wasn’t just the issue of the deal being too expensive, the real trouble was that their recent victories had bolstered their confidence too much. The fools actually thought that they were winning the war with their head-on tactics and the few shipments of hand-me-down weapons they were getting from Libya, their crude pipe bombs and a handful of rusty armored vehicles stolen from military dump grounds around. He had warned them time and again that the enemy they faced was actually a slumbering old bull that could awaken at any time so they needed to be well armed and ready when that time came but they wouldn’t listen.
No one was listening to him now, particularly without that one million dollars in his hands.
Well, he would sit and wait for the scales to fall from their eyes. He would keep getting them their second-rate weapons and training their men to use them well while he waited. Hopefully, it would not be too late by the time they realized their mistake and all could be corrected swiftly.
El Soldat’s mind abruptly went to the new shipment of weapons that had come in the day before, the land mines. They needed to be sorted out and laid quickly. Tariq was supposed to have handled everything by now.
Where in a thousand worlds was Tariq?
Tariq hadn’t answered his phone all morning and neither had any of his men. No one knew where he or his entire unit was and things were going wrong without him.
“Has Tariq answered his phone yet?” asked El Soldat aloud in Arabic.
“No, Amir, he hasn’t and no member of his unit is answering their phone either,” replied his bodyguard sitting in the front passenger seat in front of him. He spoke Arabic too, but without the heavy Fulani accent that became very pronounced when he spoke English. “It could be they are doing something in a dark zone.”
“No” El Soldat shook his head. “Not for this long. Send a unit back to that church to check things out, I have a bad feeling about this.”
The bodyguard got on his phone at once and El Soldat turned to look out the window again.
Something was very wrong somewhere. He could feel it deep in his bones.
Lying flat on his belly in the undergrowth by the roadside and watching through the binoculars, Alex saw the two vehicles coming up the road.
In the lead was a pickup jeep, parked with armed men, and El Soldat’s Cherokee Jeep came behind.
Alex put away the binoculars and, slowly, crawled backward into the undergrowth so he was completely hidden. He picked up the rifle lying on the grass next to him.
The two vehicles came on at speed, heading fast for the lodge.
They were only a short distance from their destination when the sound of a rapid-fire assault rifle shattered the peaceful silence of the forest and the pickup truck exploded into a huge ball of flames as the first bullets slammed into its full fuel tank.
The driver of the Cherokee was very good but the mighty explosion right before his eyes stunned and blinded him. He swerved sharply away to one side to avoid running into the burning vehicle and men but lost control of the wheels as bullets slammed into its side.
The big Jeep flew off the road, heading into the forest. The driver managed to take off his foot from the gas pedal in time and the powerful Automatic Braking System bit in, locking the wheels, the big off-road tires clawed into the loose earth and the big jeep came to an abrupt halt just one foot from trunk a huge tree beyond the forest line.
Alex came out of the opposite side of the road at a run, skirted the burning pickup truck, ignoring the dying screams of the burning terrorists who had been in it as he ran towards the big jeep now stuck half out of the forest on the other side of the road.
As he reached the jeep with his rifle at the ready, the front door jerked open and the blood covered driver staggered out. Alex killed him at once with a single shot to the head, then hurried quickly around to the other side of the jeep.
The rear passenger side door stood open, but El Soldat wasn’t in there.
Alex turned quickly, looked all around and at the forest. El Soldat was nowhere in sight.
“Shit!” cursed Alex in angry frustration and turned back to the jeep.
The big Jeep wasn’t damaged at all and its engine was still running. There were no bullet holes anywhere and the windows weren’t even cracked yet he’d hit this jeep with more than half a magazine full of high-velocity bullets.
The man in the front passenger seat was still there, slumped forward against the dashboard, unmoving.
Alex went over and got the door open, caught the man by the collar of his military camouflage uniform and dragged him out to the ground. The man started to move, Alex kicked him viciously in the head and he was still again.
Alex turned and examined the body of the jeep quickly. He slammed the butt of his rifle into it and the blow bounced right off with equal strength without even leaving a scratch.
“Shit!” cursed Alex venomously. The bloody jeep was fully bulletproof!
The two men in the front seats must have hit their heads badly on the dashboard and steel strong windshield, but El Soldat sitting in the back would be unhurt. Alex jerked around and stared angrily at the forest, tempted to go in after the fleeing man, but knowing he couldn’t leave the girl unprotected.
He made up his mind swiftly and easily. He had to get the girl out of here before more of the terrorists arrived. The sounds of gunshots and the massive explosion in the relative quiet of the forest must have alerted every last one of them.
Alex pushed the passenger doors of the jeep closed, ran around to the other side and jumped in behind the wheels. He threw the jeep into reverse and drove it fast backward onto the road, making a U-turn so it faced the way it had come as he wheeled it expertly over to the other side of the road, running over the blackened bodies of burning terrorists on the ground.
Alex brought the Jeep to a halt close to where he had lain before, leaned across and threw the front passenger side door wide open.
“AISHA…. AISHAA…… AISHAAA!” he screamed.
The girl came running blindly out of the forest to the urgent sound of his voice. She stopped short and stared in shock and confusion at the sight of the burning vehicle and burning bodies strewn out around on the road. She saw her savior right in the wrong vehicle with the door wide open, waving and calling out urgently to her.
“Come on!” he shouted.
Aisha ran to him. She climbed quickly into the jeep and pulled the door closed.
“Put on your seat belt,” said Alex quickly as he activated the central locking system and checked to make sure all the bulletproof dark windows were closed tight. The air-conditioning was on full.
The girl obeyed quickly, pulling the belt across her body and locking it home.
Alex checked carefully to make sure she was secure then threw the jeep into gear.
“Hold on tight!” he told her and floored the accelerator.
The big Jeep leaped forward with a deep roar of its powerful engine and went charging back down the road the way it had just come.
Seven hundred yards on down the road was a wide stream, cutting right across the road, flowing from the east to west. Alex knew the stream well. He had followed it coming in.
The big Jeep covered the distance fast and hit the stream with a big splash. Alex swung the wheels sharply to the right, sending the Jeep completely off the road and into the middle of the stream, driving right through it. The big off-road tires sank deeply into the virgin mud at bottom of the stream and the powerful four-wheel drive engine growled deeply as it put out more power, pushing the big Jeep forward.
The big Cherokee Jeep plowed right through the middle of the stream, following it deep into the forest for about two hundred yards and then swung out of it, going up the muddy bank at speed and vanished right into the thick dark forest.
Alex relocated and followed the old elephant trail he had come across earlier on his way to the lodge. The huge elephants had cut a wide road of their own right through the living forest, their huge feet stamping it smooth with constant use over time. The wide trail was more than a little overgrown with vegetation now as if no elephants had been on it in a long while but it was still there, almost invisible to the ordinary human eyes, running parallel to the stream but staying deep in the forest as it headed eastward.
Judging by the migration patterns of elephants, Alex figured the old trail led right out of the forest. He wasn’t too sure where exactly it would lead, but he would find out soon enough. He turned on the powerful headlamps to light up his way as the forest got even thicker and darker, shifted up a gear and increased speed a little more, sending the big jeep surging fearlessly forward over the thick vegetation overrunning the trail.
The muddy trail wasn’t too bad and Alex knew he had to get the hell out of this bloody forest before they locked it down even tighter. He glanced over at the girl. She looked deeply shaken but fine.
Alex drove on.
For nearly half an hour, the big Jeep clawed its way through the thick forest.
The forest suddenly became lighter and, without warning, the Jeep burst out into open flat grassland.
Alex took in the entire scene around with a few swift glances, swung the Jeep sharply to the right and floored the accelerator as he reached for one of the grenades in the ammo pouch at his belt.
The big Jeep increasing speed rapidly as it charged directly towards the security post six hundred yards ahead.
Yahaya was commander of sector fourteen, a region on the eastern borders of Sambisa forest that was about two miles wide and three miles deep. All the patrols and security posts in this sector were under his command, they all answered directly to him.
There were no roads in his sector, only pathways used by a few of the villagers so Yahaya wasn’t too worried about the alert which had been broadcast on the radio half an hour ago about the hijacking of El Soldat’s jeep right within the forest. Some of his men, packed in one of his two pickup trucks had been dispatched into the forest as security was beefed up on all the top commanders while other soldiers poured into the forest around El Soldat’s lodge in search of the attackers.
Yahaya was sitting in a wooden chair in the shade of his security post, relaxing after a nice meal of roasted bush rat, picking his rotten brown teeth with the point of a knife, when the very jeep everyone was looking for burst right out of the forest where no road should be.
Yahaya had to rub his hands over his eyes and look again in order to make sure of what he was seeing and then his men started shooting at the jeep from every direction. Yahaya came to his feet slowly and stared in utter disbelief at the spectacle unfolding before his very eyes.
Most of the bullets his men were firing actually hit the jeep with clear sparks of metal against metal, but didn’t seem to be having any effects at all. It was as if the jeep had great medicine that was protecting it from iron bullets!
The men around him were shouting, shooting their rifles and running away. Yahaya suddenly realized that the jeep was coming directly for his post!
“Allah!” exclaimed Yahaya in horror and leaped for his rifle leaning against the chair he had been sitting in but changed his mind quickly and went for the big machine gun mounted on a tripod over the sandbags.
The heavy machine-gun was facing the wrong way, outward, away from the forest, ready to meet any trouble coming at the stronghold, but the trouble was right in the stronghold or rather, coming out it. Yahya fought the big machine-gun desperately and just as he began to lift it up and turn it around to face the approaching threat, the jeep shot right past the security post and the pickup truck parked by it exploded into a huge ball of flame.
The explosion blew Yahaya and the heavy machine gun a clean ten feet back into the large security post and he hit the ground a dead man, the machine gun landing next to him on the ground.
The thatched roof of the security post caught fire easily and then the entire post began to burn furiously like the pickup.
None of Yahaya’s men could go into the security post for the heavy machine gun and the other security posts were undermanned and too far out of range for their heavy machine guns to effectively come into play.
The three heavily armed terrorists on ordinary motorcycles gave hot pursuit but didn’t really stand a chance of catching up with the speeding jeep, the men on horseback did even try.
Within seconds, the jeep was effectively out of rifle range and with their only Pickup jeep burning furiously, the terrorists just stood and stared helplessly as it sped away into the far distance and disappeared from sight.
To Be Continued…
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED by the author Eze King Eke (@www.kingezesblog.com)