Monday, May 10, 2010

Chapter 50: Hand-Gun Range

Bettina, the third woman of my team, joined us as we moved to the range. Lisa stuck to her like glue, although I didn't consider her to be a member of the team.

The refresher on the range achieved my first objective very quickly, which was to drive home the fact that most soldiers shot really, really badly with hand-guns of any type. The problem is normally to get them to admit it, so that alternative arrangements can be made. I had learnt my lesson the hard way though, and knew that actions spoke much louder than words.

Most people who have shot hand-guns, have trained on a static range with paper targets. A lot of these, including professional soldiers, had not been formally trained at all, just taught themselves or picked up what they could from observation and trial and error.

Our range was designed to make the point instantly that this was not good enough. A person can be taught to shoot an assault-rifle sufficiently well in just a few weeks, that he can be considered a competent infanteer. It was my experience that the same was not true of hand guns. They involve completely different skills and abilities.

I took my team through the range first, so that we could get them out of the way, but also so that they wouldn't have any pressure on them as they wouldn't know what was good or bad.

After I had briefed them on the range rules, and test their knowledge, I took them them through the course one at a time. This first course was a favourite of mine with strange things like pumpkins and oranges and water-filled plastic bottles hanging from strings. All designed to be highly visible when hit. A lot of them had movement built in, swinging and twisting in the breeze.

Daise was a lot more confident this time, having used her weapon in action, and managed to score a respectable 60% of possible. Alina and Bettina scored in the low forties, but the big surprise was Lisa.

I had no intention at first of even allowing her to shoot, but she insisted and her mother backed her up. I tried to offer her a smaller weapon, but she refused that too, insisting that she be given the opportunity equal to the adult's.

She turned out to be fairly slow, recovery from the recoil was hard on her, hurting her wrists, but she stuck it out and at the end of the course I was astounded and delighted that she had scored a full possible; 100%.

Once we had all gone through the course, I took my team aside to discuss their performance and put it into context for them. Normally, I had to explain to a very discouraged group that it was normal to fail the course; that's what it was designed for after all, but Lisa had screwed that up for me completely.

It worked out very well in another way though. Once all the men had been through the course, and not one of them had beaten Daise's score, the example of Lisa reinforced the idea that they could shoot these weapons as well as they could.

I made it clear to them that we would be running classes for all those who wished to attend them, and that they qualifying score on this range was 80%. Anything less than that and I didn't want to risk the collateral damage they might cause in an urban environment.

We broke for lunch after that, and I took the opportunity to greet someone that I had really hoped to see, but hadn't been sure would show up.

Jack is a short, quiet man. Completely unobtrusive and the antithesis of flamboyant. He was the person, however, who had designed and built the Special Forces Urban Warfare course on the Bluff, and ho had written the manual for the South African doctrine along the way. He also had the distinction of having been awarded the Honoris Crux, the SA decoration for valour equivalent to the American CMH or the British VC. He had retired from the army as a Major and gone on to fulfill his life-long dream of becoming a game-ranger.*

We discussed quietly what I hoped to achieve and Jack gave me some initial pointers before disappearing. I was able to extract a promise from him that he would visit a few times and help to evaluate and improve the program, and possible even present a class or two, but he wasn't prepared to commit to more than that, to my huge disappointment.

* Read the real life story of Major Jack Greeff, HC (rtd) in his book "A Greater Share of Honour" from

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chapter 49: Marriage Proposal Squared

Satisfied that Gerrie was on the job, I returned to the crowd around the Urn and grabbed myself a mug of Rooibos tea. As I was adding sugar, Daise grabbed my arm and asked to speak to me. I nodded, told her to follow me and walked a short distance away from the crowd. When Alina spotted us, she hurried out to join us, and I noticed that Daise waited for her to catch up before she began speaking. "Rupert, we've been thinking," Daise began. I shuddered, hoping that this wasn't the beginning of a speech about 'it was nice to know you but...'

"No, I think you've got the wrong idea," Alina blurted when she saw the expression on my face. "Please just listen to what Daise has to say. She speaks for both of us on this."

"OK," I responded, "I'm listening." I schooled my face to try to prevent my feelings from reflecting quite so obviously, and turned slightly to face Daise, but ensuring I could keep an eye on Alina's expression at the same time.

"Well..." Daise began hesitantly, "You remember you and I spoke about marriage..."

"Yes?" I prompted gently, feeling my facial muscles freeze, and steeling myself for the worst.

"Well... Alina and I were talking this morning while you were out and we want to suggest something."

"Daise, please just tell me... The suspense is killing me. Do me the favour of putting me out of my misery quickly."

"Oh Rupert, it's just that Alina and I realised as we spoke that not only do we really love each other, but we both love you, and we wouldn't like to split up, but we wanted to know what you felt and we'll do whatever you want, but we would like to stay together and ..."

Daise trailed off, a little out of breath from her little speech, which she had made without seeming to pause for breath.

Now she lifted her eyes, which she had dropped down while she was talking, to look at my face. I could see that was more than slightly disconcerted to see the broad smile which was plastered there. I also noticed the hope blooming in Alina's expression, as I started grinning like a maniac.

"What are you smiling at Rupert?" Daise asked finally, unable to suppress a reciprocal smile of her own.

"The two of you have no idea how happy you have just made me," I managed to get out past the frog that had taken up residence in my throat. "I've been agonising over the very same thing.

I took Daise's hands in mine, looked deep into her eyes, and told her "You know I love you Daise." She sparkled with happiness as I bent my head down to kiss her deeply.

When I pulled back, Daise's eyes were closed and she had a blissful expression on her face.

I dropped Daise's hands, turned to Alina, and took up her hands in mine.

"I love you too Alina," I told her and proceeded to give her pretty much the same sort of kiss Daise had gotten. While we were kissing, I felt Daise's arms encircle both of us, and I thought I heard a faint sob of relief, but I couldn't be sure.

When we finally parted, and surfaced for air, it was to be greeted by applause and slightly ironic cheers. I laughed happily, and responded "That'll be enough from the peanut gallery please." All I got for my effort was more good-natured laughter.

I bent down and pulled the two women's heads close together, so I could talk quietly for their ears alone. "I love you both equally, and I wouldn't want any of us to be seperated from the others. When all this is over, maybe we can speak to the Sgt-Major's Induna about a Zulu wedding, where more than one wife is perfectly acceptable.

Daise and Alina looked stunned at this thought. I smiled and left them to follow me as I returned to join the crowd.

It took a few minutes, and not a few ribald comments, before everyone was settled again, and I could introduce Johnny. He proceeded to lay out the tentative block program for training over the next few days, as well as some suggestions for the teams of four that we had decided were the best combinations for operational purposes.

These 'bricks' of four would from then on train together and eventually deploy as a team, so we wanted to get the combinations right from the start.

Once Johnny was finished, we moved out for the first exercise, which was to get everyone through refresher training in various weapons, with an emphasis on safety-precautions and range orders.

It came as no surprise to me, of course, that my team consisted of the three women and me.

Chapter 48: First Briefing

The next morning I was up before the sun. I took a long relaxing run around the lake to stretch my muscles and work some of the kinks out of my body. It had been a while since I had run, and I knew that the next while would stress me, and while I normally didn't like running, it was neccessary to start getting myself ready. When I returned to the room, both the girls were up and dressed. I heard their voices coming from the veranda, and when I tried to eavesdrop, was thwarted by the fact that they seemed to be chatting in Russian. I popped into the shower and got rid of the sweat then joined them for a light breakfast. After breakfast, we walked over the ridge to the training area. I was surprised and pleased to see that we had a number of new faces. Well, old faces actually, some of whom I hadn't seen for a long time. It was clear that the drums were beating. I grabbed a mug of coffee, and joined the crowd standing and chatting in the early morning, greeting those that had arrived overnight and just enjoying the sight of the mist slowly dissipating as the sun slowly heated the air. I waited until the last few stragglers joined us from the lodge, brushing off the few enquiries about what was going on until we had a full compliment. "Right," I called to get everyone's attention once I was ready, "let's get this show on the road." Everyone took seats on the benches around the tables on the veranda of the barracks-room, and settled down. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm an old NCO who went across to the dark side, which means that I have both the wits of an NCO and the extra half I got with my commission..." I paused for the expected chuckles and groans, then continued, "This is not an official operation and in fact has no connection with any organisation at all, it is purely a private fight." I could see on at least half of the faces a polite disbelief, but decided to let it go. I would talk to each man individually as things went on to clarify the situation. "What I have in mind is that we start with some refresher training and conditioning. In addition, there are probably a lot of you who haven't done 'Urban in Durban' so some of what we will do will be completely new. In any event, we need to get everyone operating on the same wavelength. Some of the stuff we'll do will be brand new, even to those of you who have done Urban before. We have some people with great experience both old and new, a lot of the new stuff picked up in Iraq from the Pommies and Yanks, and one old instructor that I think will add some very valuable input. While this is going on, we will wait for some decent INT and then start moving the training up from general stuff to OPS specific. Concerns, Questions, Problems?" "What's the actual situation. I just heard that there was a possible fight... " asked a voice from the back. "Thanks for coming anyway Mannie," I greeted, "I'll give you a summary after this of what's been going on. Anything else?" I waited, but there were no more questions. I guessed that those who had questions decided that they would wait to hear what the situation was. None of the men who were here hadn't been around the block a few times. It took me just under an hour to go over everything that had happened, dealing with a variety of questions for clarity and more detail as I went. When I was finished, there was a period of silence while those who hadn't been involved digested what they had heard. I could see that what I had told them had intrigued some, and I got the feeling that they were caught up in the same feelings of disgust and smoldering anger that I was feeling. After looking around for a few minutes, I decided to get the ball rolling. "I'd like to introduce you to someone that most of you don't know and ask him to talk a little about his experiences. he's going to be here for a while to see if he can add any value to what we do. This is Jurgen and he has a story to tell us." At the mention of his name, Jurgen got up and walked over to stand next to me. He started talking in his rather thick German accent. "I'm eighty-seven years old and I've lived here in South Africa for almost fourty years. When I was sixteen, I left school to join the German army. I lived in Munich at the time. I went with the Army to Stalingrad and back." There was a deafening silence. These men knew what was behind those few words. "I made sergeant during the battle but I don't know exactly what I can contribute. I met Rupert some months ago, and we found that we were soldiers of different countries, different wars and different generations, but we still had something in common. After a few beers, he got me to tell him my story. It's not something I have told to anyone else. All my family knows about it is that I still have nightmares sometimes and wake up in the middle of the night." There were a few nods and I could see that what I had seen in Jurgen was also apparent to a lot of those listening. He proceeded to tell his story, and although it was bare of much detail, for those who had experience, that was enough. When he was finished, he sat down, the strain of talking about his experiences obvious. "I called Jurgen yesterday, and asked him to spend some time with us. He will observe and sit in on our planning. I think it's about time for tea." Some throats were cleared as everyone got up and started milling around, grabbing something to drink and chatting about what they had heard. I left them there and went to find Gerrie. He had set himself up in the little room just off the barracks-room, and I was not surprised to see that the walls were already covered with maps and diagrams, and that there were three computer monitors that I could see, with at least seven computers set up. He was busy at a keyboard, and Kate was seated next to him, at another computer. From what I could see, she was browsing the web while he was busy with something completely imcomprehensible. "Howzit Gerrie," I greated him, "anything useful yet?" Gerrie was startled and turned to face me. Kate turned as well, and got a faint blush on her face when she saw me glance at the rumpled bedclothes on the bed against the wall. I smiled at her and waited for Gerrie. "Yes," Gerrie answered, oblivious to the silent exchange, "I'm making some progress, but nothing really concrete yet." "Give me a 'for example' please, ' I asked. "Well, I've traced the ownership of the club that you told me about, and it has no reference to this Dimitri at all, jsut what must be the previous owners, but I got hold of some friends in the Metro Police and they were very happy to let me have a run down of what they know and suspect about the man. I've got Kate on some Russian boards though and she's been very useful there, picking up all kinds of rumours and hints. Seems our man's ex-military alright. An officer. Captain when he left. We'll need to put some electronic bugs onto him and his crew as soon as possible though to get something about what he's doing now. He seems to keep everything behind front-men so it's hard to get much else." "Ok. That sounds like the first order of business then. You tell me what you need and I'll put it together." Gerrie handed me a printed list wordlessly and turned back to his computer. I smiled at Kate and left them to their own devices. Most of you know my story about short chapters and writing on my cell phone yadda yadda... I am also posting this story at where there is often additional information such as appropriate photos etc. Update your vote for: "Mail-Order Bride" Technical Merit: Spelling, grammar and overall readability Plot: Creativity, storyline and character development Personal Appeal: Story's emotional and/or intellectual impact on you This story is in your library. to remove from library completely Or to adjust bookmark settings (type, list, etc...) To Be Continued... Go to BoonDock’s Blog Posted: 2009-02-12 Last Modified: 2010-03-22 / 08:58:08 pm Version: 2.00 If you enjoyed this work, take a moment to email the author. Your comments are their only payment. Name: (optional) Email: To: BoonDock Subject: Mail-Order Bride Message: Home - My Library - Top [Bookmark Next Chapter] - More Info

Chapter 47: INT OPS

Bettina was subdued the during the rest of the tour of the facilities, but Lisa bounced right back and got into everything. I noticed more than one fond grin directed her way by the guys, and figured out that Lisa would probably have more than one father-figure in her life. All good in my opinion. I noticed that Daise and Alina seemed to be very intimidated by the high obstacles on the obstacle course, looking up at the wooden structure with some trepidation. Well, not to worry, the whole idea of the course was to build confidence in their ability to handle themselves as well as in the team to look after each other. Once we had toured all the various facilities close to the barracks, we returned to the Lodge for lunch. The food was excellent as usual, the conversation mostly light. Just as we were finishing, I got a call from Gill, Roy's ex-wife, to tell me that the doctors had given permission for Roy to leave the hospital as long as he promised to spend time in bed recovering at home. I was very happy to hear this and immediately told Gill that I would prefer her to bring him and their daughter out to the Lodge to stay for as long as necessary. Gill seemed relieved by the offer, and said she would discuss it with Roy. I felt pretty confident that they would be out to stay in a couple of days. When I got off the phone, Daise and Alina made noises about spending some time hanging around the pool, and a lot of the rest decided that was a good idea. It wasn't long before we were changed and lying on loungers at the pool-side. I made no bones about the fact that I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to admire the sleek, sexy forms of the females in their bikinis. We'd been there about an hour and a half when Gerrie arrived. I noticed his Harley arriving, no-one could have missed the noise, and knew he'd be out to join us once he was settled. "What was that?" Alina asked in response to the noise. "Gerrie is a Harley Davidson Motorbike fanatic," I told her. "There are lots of people who buy new bikes now and think that they are some kind of heroes because they own one. Gerrie is different. He really knows and loves the bikes. He has one that he rescued from the scrapheap. It was a World War II vintage bike. When he got it, everything was either rusted solid, or rusted away. He took it apart and not only rebuilt it, he actually recreated the whole thing. Building the engine from scratch. If you have a few weeks spare, ask him to talk about his bikes." "I'll give that a miss, I think," Alina laughed. "Actually, Gerrie is really shy. He probably won't even talk to you unless you get him talking about his beloved bikes." Gerrie appeared about twenty minutes later and pulled up an outdoors chaise-lounge next to me. I introduced him around, but he greeted all the others perfunctorily before focusing on me. "Rupert," he began earnestly, "I've been hearing all kinds of crazy things. If half of them are true..." "Probably less than that," I interrupted. "Let me summarise what has happened for you." I gave Gerrie a concise summary of the events and actions of the last few days, starting with my contact with Daise. Gerrie listened, as he always does, with total concentration and without interrupting once. He was a really scary guy to deal with in some ways. He had an eidetic memory and could recite conversations verbatim from twenty years back, which was probably why he had never been married. Most women don't like their husbands to be able to recite chapter and verse of their words from the last argument they had had. Gerrie was interested in information. He was the perfect military intelligence NCO, able to collate and analyse vast amounts of data in his head. He was ran the computer systems of a major insurance company as his day job, but he had been allocated to a Commando after completing his National Service and worked as the Intelligence Clerk in their OPS Room at the beginning. It didn't take the Int Officer long to discover his talents though, and he was soon the senior NCO responsibile for Intelligence for the Unit, collecting information from members of the Commando when they reported for duty and branching out more and more into an intelligence collection role. Within five years, he was invited by the Police and all the other Army Units to brief them on a regular basis. He consistently refused a commission though, claiming that he liked to actually work for his pay. "Rupert, I'm really glad you called me," Gerrie told me when I finished my summary, "You've been blundering around in the dark as usual. I'm sure I can pull something together to get you the information you need." "Great Gerrie. Welcome aboard," I told him as a great weight lifted from my shoulders. "Whatever you need, just let me know and I'll see what I can do to get it for you. I thought that we could set up an OPS room and Int Office near the barracks, and you can brief us as you get information and feed it into our training." "Sounds like a plan. I'll get started on that now," Gerrie declared, and then disappeared. I knew that he would have more information than I could shake a stick at in no time at all. Katy climbed out of the pool and sat on her chair, before looking around and saying something quietly to Bettina. "Rupert," Bettina called, "Katy was wondering what happened to your friend, the one who just arrived." She had a smile on her face that she carefully hid from Katy, keeping her head turned towards me. "He Mysterpeared", I told her. "Mysterpeared?" I laughed. "That's a word my daughter made up when she was four or so ... means 'Mysteriously Disappeared'" I told her. "Oh. Ok. But where did he Mysterpeared to?" "He'll probably be down near the barracks," I answered her, watching Kate's intense concentration on our conversation. I thought that if Kate had a romantic interest in Gerrie, it would do both of them the world of good. "Kate," I said, "Could you do me a favour please?" "Sure Rupert," Kate replied standing up and walking closer, "do you want me to fetch you something?" "Actually, no. I'm just concerned about Gerrie. He gets very distracted when he's busy. I was wondering if you could find him and offer to help him. Use that as an excuse to make sure that he looks after himself, eats regularly that sort of thing." "Sure Rupert," Kate said quietly, trying to hide her blush. I wondered how she had ever been caught up in Dimitri's world, although I could see the attraction her demure, submissive nature would have to clients of his establishments. She disappeared quickly, wrapping a kikoi around her hips and walking quickly through the lodge. As Kate disappeared, Bettina burst out laughing. "Thanks Rupert, that was perfect. She couldn't take her eyes of Gerrie from the moment he first appeared. I think it'll be good for her to get together with someone like him. He seems like a good man." "He is. Is she OK though? We never followed up with a doctor's visit for her." "She seems to be fine. When we were getting changed she told me that she wasn't really even sore any more. Chris is better than he thinks, better in some ways than a doctor I think." "True. I'd choose him, or any Ops-Medic, over a doctor to treat my wounds any day." Supper time rolled around very quickly. The long lazy afternoon had been perfect to unwind and allow everyone some time to get their heads straight. After supper, we retreated to our room, with almost unseemly haste when Daise pointed out that both her and Alina had gotten a little sunburnt and needed some Aloe-Vera cream spread all over their bodies to ease the burn. Chapter 48 Home - My Library - Top [Bookmark Next Chapter] - More Info

Chapter 46: Who's your Daddy

The barracks room was a pretty rude shock after the luxury of the rooms in the lodge. It was a long building with rows of double-bunk beds extending down either side, at right-angles to the walls. There were twenty-five double bunks down each wall, enough place to house a hundred people. Each end of the building had toilets, showers and basins. The showers were open, with no partitions and the toilets were seperated only by low walls between them; no doors. I could see that the girls were curious about the place. "Like our new accommodation?" I asked and laughed as the girls turned on me with looks of dismay on their faces. "We'll move in here in a day or two, once things are organised. That is those of you who want to go through the training with us." I watched as Daise quickly made up her mind. Her expression cleared and she nodded at me, accepting that where I was, she wanted to be. Alina followed her lead. Bettina was obviously in two minds and Katy just seemed shy. "There's no pressure. If you don't want to join in, you can continue to live in the lodge. There's space there. I just want us to focus, and living together here, working and training together will build the team. We'll also do things at odd hours, and it's just easier. We are also hoping for a bunch more guys to join us, and we couldn't host them all in the lodge, never mind that we would have to turn away paying guests if we did so." Katy and Alina whispered together for a while, and I wasn't surprised when Katy told me that she would like to try to be part of what we would be doing. "Rupert," Bettina said finally, "I wouldn't mind being involved, but..." she rolled her eyes in Lisa's direction and shrugged. "Yes, I thought it might be difficult for you," I told her, "this is not exactly the best place for a child." Like all children, Lisa had long ears, especially when she thought that the adults might be discussing something that would effect her. She turned on her mother, a thunderous expression on her face. "Mom," she declared, "I'm almost eight. I'm not a baby any more. I want to be with Rupert and do this stuff." Bettina looked at me, and I shrugged, amused. Lisa watched this interaction, and then rocked my world. She reached out and took my hand. "Rupert," she said in a small voice, "I don't have a Daddy to look after me, will you be my Daddy?" Of course I had no defence against an appeal like that. I dropped to a knee and wrapped her in my arms. It had started out as a pretence, and as a way to get her own way, but when I hugged her, she started sobbing and clung to me fiercely. I looked up at Bettina and saw she had tears in her eyes too. She shrugged and nodded at me, and I bowed my head, putting my mouth right next to Lisa's ear. "Of course I will Darling, I'll look after you. You don't need to worry," I said quietly. I had surprising difficulty talking with the huge lump in my throat. "You better give your Mom a hug, I think she needs one." Lisa whirled around and Bettina swept her up into a crushing embrace, the two of them walking off to talk. Chapter 47 Home - My Library - Top [Bookmark Next Chapter] - More Info

Chapter 45: Paradise Explained

The next morning I woke with the sun. I was sprawled on my back and I had two bodies curled up and entangled with mine. I had a clear head, as I hadn't had very much alcohol at all the previous night, but my body was sore. It was a feeling I knew of old, the punishment extracted for physical exertion and adrenaline. I extracted myself, reluctantly, from the tangle on the bed and dosed myself with some paracetamol, and took care of the usual bathroom routine. I pulled on a bath-robe before pulling up a deck-chair on the balcony to watch the magnificent spectacle of the sunrise over this beautiful piece of African bush. The morning chorus swelled into its full-throated glory, while the hippos lumbered into the water to rest from their nocturnal exertions. After ten minutes or so, I heard sounds of life from the room behind me, and after a while Daise emerged, wrapped in her own terry-cloth robe, to silently hand me a cup of coffee. I nodded my thanks to her and she sat on my lap while we took sips and shared a silent appreciation for the peaceful spectacle. Alina emerged a short while later and stood behind the chair., resting her hands on my shoulders. "Beautiful morning," I finally broke the silence. "Is it always like this?", Daise asked quietly. "Mostly. Sometimes there is mist on the water then I think of Avalon." "The Lady of the Lake?" Alina asked. I twisted my head to look up at her. "Yes, you know the story?" "My father read to me a lot when I was younger. Mostly old Russian fables, but I also enjoyed the English stories. I learnt a lot of old-fashioned English words like that." "If you liked those, maybe you would enjoy some of the fantasy that I do." "Like what?" "Lord of the Rings?" "I have tried to read that. It was a very long book, almost as long as some of the old Russian stories..." Daise interjected I laughed when I saw the teasing smile on her face. "Tolkien was born here. Few hundred kilometers away, in Bloemfontein. We'll drive through there when we take a trip down to Cape Town sometime. We can stop and see the museum they have there. It's quite interesting." "Will we ever be able to just enjoy ourselves?" Daise asked sadly. "Yes," I answered definitively. "We'll sort all this stuff out and then we can live normal lives. I promise." "OK." Daise's voice was small and quiet. She was so tiny and vulnerable in my lap, it made me feel all fatherly and protective. I was slowly learning that she had moods like a cat. Sometimes fierce and aggressive, the Huntress, then the next moment sensual and demanding, then sometimes, rarely, showing a soft vulnerability that was particularly endearing, especially considering its rarity. "We need to go down to breakfast," I finally announced reluctantly. "There's lots to do today." "What should we wear?" Alina asked. "Jeans and T-shirt should be fine. We'll just explore a bit today spend a lot of time talking. We weren't the first to get to the dining room. Bettina was there with Lisa and Katy. When we walked in, Bettina looked up and saw me and responded to my querying look with a laugh. "You should know what its like to have kids. Up before Sparrow's Fart..." Bettina said smiling at Lisa. "What's that?" Katy wanted to know. Lisa was only too keen to show off her knowledge. "Have you ever heard a Sparrow Fart?" she asked Katy. "No," Katy answered with a frown. I could see that Daise and Alina were just as puzzled. "Then you haven't got up early enough," Lisa declaimed, then burst into giggles at the expressions on the three women's faces. I left them to gossip, and grabbed a plate, ordering two fried eggs from the on-duty chef, and piling my plate with fried mushrooms, pork sausages, bacon strips and four slices of toasted white bread. When my eggs were ready, I put them onto the toast, piled the bacon and sausages on top and dribbled a generous helping of Golden Syrup over the lot. I sat down to eat and after a few mouthfuls got a strange feeling, so I looked up to see four female faces staring at me with identical looks of disbelief. Lisa was the odd one out. She had approval and curiosity written large on her face. "Does that taste nice?" Lisa asked. "No," Bettina jumped in, "you're not trying that." At the sight of Lisa's disappointed face, I stage whispered to her, "Try some from my plate." Lisa shifted quickly to sit next to me, avoiding even a glance at her mother, and ate the forkful of food that I offered her. Bettina frowned at me, and I shrugged, "Little Girls, like butterflies, need no excuse." Bettina smiled and I could see her deciding to let it slide. Lisa was instantly a fan, but before she could start pestering her mother to allow her to have a plate of her own, I told her, "You can have a plateful tomorrow," adding after a frown from Bettina, "if your mother says you can." I ignored the beginning of the protracted mother-daughter negotiations as the guys started arriving. Once everyone was well breakfasted, I gathered everyone up and herded them outside. As we walked I pointed out items of interest, distracting them from where we were going and what we were planning on doing. My mind had been working furiously all the time, even waking me early to send me out onto the balcony, and the whole time I had been exchanging morning banter with the crowd, I had been thinking through what our next steps were going to be. I took a footpath up the rise to the right (south) of the lodge, with the rest following me to the top. Once we crested, I waited for everyone to catch up then pointed out what was in the valley below. "As most of you know," I started, to rolled eyes and grins from the guys, "the purpose of the farm is to run as a business. The lodge is only a minor part of what we do here. This is the major part." "What is it?" Daise asked, looking down into the valley, obviously puzzled. "That's what we call our 'Adventure Center'," I replied, "It's where we do the Team-Building and training that pays for this whole operation." "Can you tell me what we are looking at?" Bettina asked. "Sure. That's why we're here." I answered. "This building just below us to the right is the barracks, then over there is the obstacle course," I pointed out. "Where the trees and dense green bush runs is a small river where we have a bush-lane firing course. Up there where the river runs up into the hills, we have a standard firing range." "What's that funny set of ruined buildings?" Daise pointed them out. "That's the paint-ball range," I answered. Bird spluttered as he tried to suppress a laugh. "What's so funny, Bird?" Alina asked him. "Rupert's not telling you the 'Whole Truth'," he answered. "Have you played paint-ball?" "Yes," Daise and Alina answered, almost in unison. "OK, but not like this I guess. We have what's called Airsoft1 gear. It's called Milsim2 — Military Simulation — because it is supposed to be a game that simulates military operations. I get the feeling that you're going to find out just how intense and little like a game it is though, if I know Rupert." I grinned and said nothing about that. "What I've been thinking, is that we need to start putting some teams together and seeing if we can't hurt these arseholes. While we're waiting for things to happen, I figured it wouldn't hurt to start sharpening ourselves up, and running you ladies through some sort of training program," I told them. "Bird is correct, the Milsim weapons and training ... we've gotten to a stage that it's as close to real as we can go. Instead of firing at targets, we set up scenarios where your team has to fight another team, and it feels like the real thing. We do use real weapons for the range and the bush-lane course, with targets, but we'll train you on the Airsoft stuff first." "What are we going to wait for Rupert?" Johnny asked, emerging finally from his long introspection which I suspected had more to do with an excess of alcohol than with any natural philosophical bent. "My first priority is intelligence. I've called on an old mate, Gerrie. He's a Mil-Int type. He's driving down from Vrede. Should be here late today. Also put out the word that there's an Op happening and we'll see how many that attracts. You know how the bush-telegraph works." "Ja, might get no-one or hundreds rocking up," Johnny said with a smile. "Have to wait and see." "In the meantime, I want us all to move into the barracks and start working on fitness and weapons drill. Sharpen up on Urban and introduce the ladies to the game. Should be fun." There were groans from the guys and a few puzzled looks from the girls. I ignored both and headed down the hill towards the barracks. 1 2 Chapter 46 Home - My Library - Top [Bookmark Next Chapter] - More Info

Chapter 44: Paradise Explored

Once we were in the room, with the door firmly closed behind us, I fully expected to explore more fully the raging emotions that had erupted in the corridor. I should have known better, I was dealing with women of course, and what male can ever predict or explain their thought processes? Daise and Alina dropped me like a hot potato and, with squeals of excitement, began to explore our room. The first thing that they realised was that it was more like a suite or an apartment, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms including toilets, a kitchen and a small lounge. What really got them excited though, was the fact that all the exterior walls facing the lake opened up completely onto a balcony that ran along two sides of the building. There was an old-fashioned style bath, on claw feet and a magnificent view of the lake and surrounding bush. "Rupert," Daise said in an decidedly seductive tone, do you think we could fit the three of us into that bath?" "Well," I started, but was interrupted by Alina. "I'll scrub your back?" Alina promised. I conceded defeat gracefully. The time in the bath didn't provide much relaxation, and in fact led to some rigorous exercise. We had all three just finished showering when we got a call on the internal phone to remind us that Supper would be served in the lodge dining room. When I told Daise and Alina that we half an hour to get ready, they went into a full-tilt rush to get dressed and organised. I heard more than one muttered comment about how lucky males where, when I pulled on a clean set of jeans and a Golf-shirt and sat watching them get dressed. I agreed wholeheartedly, watching them get dressed was a pleasure and a privilege... When we got to the dining room, only slight later than we were supposed to, I was happy to see that the staff had really pushed out the boat. We were greeted with enthusiasm and led into the lounge. The fragrance of Frangipani blossoms filled the room, blown in by a slight breeze from the tree growing just outside the window. Some of the flowers were mixed in with the arrangements dotted around the room on side tables. A waiter took drink orders while we waited. As it turned out, some of the single men were even later than us. When everyone had arrived, and Moose had stammered out his apologies for having fallen asleep and waking up late, we moved through to the dining room. Everyone found a place to sit, and when they were settled, I proposed my favourite toast, "Here's to us, and those like us. Damn few left!" All the men downed whatever they were drinking, and slammed their glasses down, the we all sat and the waiters brought in the appetiser. The main meal was laid out buffet style, so that we could help ourselves without having anyone outside the group hanging over our shoulders. I spent some time making a bit of a fuss of Lisa, making her feel very grown-up to be included in the meal. The mood was strange: no-one referred to any of things that we had been through in the last few days, following wthout prompting the unwritten rule of the mess, 'no religion, politics or work to be discussed in the mess'. Most of the conversation revolved around sport, especially a general disgust that the Springbucks couldn't seem to get their game together on their European tour. There was also a lot of appreciation for Amla's double Test century against the English. When the last Irish coffee had been drained, and belt loosened to ease stuffed bellies, three hours had passed. I pushed back my chair and stood, before calling for a final toast. This time, it was at first only the men, but I insisted that Daise join us. I had arranged with the waiter before-hand they had set aside a tray of 'shooter' glasses and a bucket on the floor with a brick in it. When all the men and Daise had their glasses filled with Chivas Regal, I propsed the toast, "To Rfn Zondi and all those we left behind". Everyone responded, "those we left behind" then tossed their drinks back and one by one we each smashed our glasses in the bucket. Without another word, I led the way out of the room and took my ladies to bed. Chapter 45 Home - My Library - Top [Bookmark Next Chapter] - More Info

Chapter 43: Paradise Found

I basked in the reaction from Daise, Alina, Rebecca and the rest as they saw what we call "The Farm" for the first time. I turned off the engine, and climbed out, encouraging them all to do the same. We ended up in a line on the road in front of the Land Rover, staring down into the valley. The land dropped away in front of us in a wide valley. Just off the road to the right, about five hundred meters from the hill where we we standing, the lodge and guest-houses were nestled into the bush. They had a magnificent view down the valley, and overlooked a small lake. "What are those ... those ... animals in the lake?" Daise asked me, clutching my arm tightly. "Hippos ... Hippopotamus," I answered her with a smile. Alina was most taken with the sight of a troop of Giraffe grazing from the Acacia trees on the left of the road. They were no more than fifty meters from us, and completely unfazed by the fact that we were there. Once everyone had their fill, we climbed back into the Land Rover and drove down to the Lodge. I stopped outside the reception and everyone followed me into the lobby. The sandstone coloured walls stretched up for two stories to the exposed wooden beams under the thatch roof. There were large photo-prints some of the scenes of wildlife arranged on the walls. We were very proud of the fact that we had four of the 'Big Five' on the reserve, missing only Lions. I spoke to the woman manning the recpetion desk, and told her what I would prefer, then took everyone to show them the board that displayed a stylised map of the resort and surrounding area. "This is where we are now," I explained as I pointed it out on the map. "You can see the boundaries of the estate marked with a red line. This part of the boundary, marked in green, is where we border the Ihala Game Reserve. At certain times of the year we will drop the game fence to allow the animals to cross freely between the two reserves." "Why would you want to do that?" Daise asked. "For a number of reasons, a lot of them having to do with the management of the game. The most important reason is the use of water. We have some good water here and better access to the river, So in the dry season, the Ithala animals are allowed to come across. The other reason is breeding, we like to allow the various animals the chance at a broader selection of mates." "That makes sense," Alina responded. I was quite surprised by just how intensely foucused her and Daise had been during my explanation. I had the impression that the two of them were sponges feeling the first spring rains after the drought. On reflection, I decided that they were probably so committed to adapting that they wanted to absorb everything that they could. If that was the case then I was happy. That sort of commitment to their new lives meant that my emotional energy and financial resources weren't being wasted. Just then the reception lady called me over and we started dishing out keys to rooms and instructions about how to get there. It was fortunate that it was a quiet time of the year, so we had a very low occupancy and there was plenty of space to house everyone in luxury. Of course, it the resort had been full, then we could have put everyone up in what we called the "Backpackers Lodge". That was essentially a barracks in design; a long room with double-bunks spaced evenly against both sides. Daise followed me happily enough when I set off for our room, but I noticed Alina hanging back a little. She wasn't looking too happy. I rolled my eyes at Daise and pointed in Alina's direction with my chin. Daise frowned at me for a second, then glanced at Alina then back at me. I saw her expression change as she figured it out. "Alina," she said, "Rupert is worried about you. Are you OK?" Alina frowned at Daise, then looked at the expression on my face. We had stopped at this point, allowing the porter to continue on with our luggage. When Alina could see that Daise was correct, and that all she could see on my face was concern for her and puzzlement over the reason, she sighed deeply. "OK," Alina said softly, "I feel like a puppy that cringes all the time, expecting to be kicked. I was worried about where I was going to stay. I didn't know if you wanted me with you." Her voice had gotten very soft and trembly, and her whole posture seemed to lose rigidity. She drooped, and looked exactly like the puppy she had mentioned. I couldn't help myself, I laughed. Daise's head swung sharply, and Alina's face jerked upwards and I found myself speared by two very indignant stares. I raised both hands and started moving them placatingly. "Sorry ladies," I quickly started to explain, "it's just that Alina looked just like the puppy she said she felt like." The intensity of the stares didn't decrease, they increased in power by at least a mega-watt, and I found myself still on the spot. "Alina," I turned to her and said in my most serious voice, "I'm sorry, for laughing but more importantly, for not making this clear to you before." I reached out and took both of Alina's hands in mine, and waited for her to look me fully in the eyes. When her eyes met mine, I told her, "As far as I am concerned, you and Daise are sister-wives to me. There is no difference in status or anything else of the sort in my eyes. I had assumed that you knew that, my mistake. I was also holding back because I am concerned that you will think I am the same as one of those men." Daise had tears in her eyes at this point, and Alina had moisture streaming down her face, her tears and mucus from her nose joining together to drip from her chin. Her eyes were wide, and her head moved slowly from side to side, matching the soft sound of her repeating 'No' over and over again. "Rupert," Alina managed to get out at last, I thought I had made it quite clear that I trusted and respected you, and was starting to love you." She stopped talking, glanced at Daise for a second while wiping off her face with the sleeve of her shirt, then continued, "Obviously, just like most men, you prefer to be shown, not told." With that, Alina flung her arms around my neck and pulled my face down to meet hers for a kiss. When I surfaced from the tumult of emotions, and pulled gently back from Alina, it was to hear the amused voice of the porter announcing, "Your room is ready sir, is there anything else you need from me?" I smiled at him and shook my head, the tucked Alina into an embrace under one arm, Daise under the other, and we finally got to our room. Chapter 44 Home - My Library - Top [Bookmark Next Chapter] - More Info

Chapter 42: The Farm

As we turned off the tarred road, onto the deeply rutted dirt two-track road that led through the bush to the entrance gate to the farm, Daise asked "Are you sure we're going to be OK out here?" I glanced across at her and saw that she was really nervous. I figured that she was really coming down hard from the huge adrenaline surges she had experienced over the last few days. Never mind the huge culture-shock of leaving everything she had known and becoming a "Stranger in a Strange Land". I smiled to myself, and thought that she was doing a pretty good job of "grokking" what was going on. "I think so. We'll have a layered defence here. The first part of that is that it's unlikely that any of those arseholes will know about this place, but I also intend to gather a bunch of old friends together, and that should go a long way towards keeping us safe." "I find that strange. You said right at the beginning that you were lonely, but you have so many friends?" I was please that Daise was distracted into a different topic. As she frowned, her body showed that when she wasn't concentrating on her worries, she lost some of her tension. "I have been struggling a bit with depression I think. Nothing serious, but maybe just that 'mid-life' thing that so many men seem to go through, looking back and wondering if you've really made a difference, and wondering what sort of legacy will be left behind when you're gone." "Ok, that makes a kind of sense I suppose," Daise replied, but I could hear that she didn't really understand, and it underscored for me the fact that she was actually really young. I had been easy for me to admire her beauty and youth and forget that age was a major factor in determining understanding of other people. As I thought about it though, I worked out that Alina, while about the same age as Daise, was a lot more mature is some ways because of the experiences that she had been through. "I haven't had much female companionship though," I pointed out. Daise giggled, which drew my eyes to the delightful things is did to her chest. She blushed when she saw where my eyes had strayed and looked over her shoulder into the back of the Land Rover. "You seem to have fixed that problem at least." Daise's arch tone and raised eyebrows made it my turn to go slightly pink, and I welcomed the distraction of having to stop for the main gate of the farm. We had spent some time and effort to create a feeling of ruggedness and rustic charm in all aspects of the place, and the gate was the first indication that visitors got of this. The gate itself was made of raw timber from indigineous trees, and had a gate-house attached to it that was covered in thatch. The person on gate-duty was dressed in a smart looking khaki uniform that had the name of the farm on embroidered sleeves pulled onto his epaulettes. He carried only a knobkerrie, as we didn't want to create the impression of an armed camp. He had obviously heard the sound of the vehicle as he was waiting for us with a clip-board and the sign-in form, but as he realised who it was, he stepped back with a smile and a wave to me and opened the gate. I waved back at him as I drove through and turned my head to speak over my shoulder. "Bird, we need to think about some more substantial security now." "Yes, my thought exactly," Bird replied. "I think an OP on the rise over there to give overwatch capability and maybe a sand-bag wall on the inside of the hut to provide cover from fire?" "I'll leave it to you," I told him. I knew that it was as good as done. "What about perimeter security?" "We'll set up some patrols, but I think the wild-life will provide a pretty good deterrent for the outer perimeter. I'd like to concentrate on the inner perimeter for actual defences." "Sounds good," I replied, satisfied for the moment. "Daise, Alina, watch this," I warned. We followed the road as it wound through the bush and finally topped out on a small rise. I stopped the Land Rover, knowing what an impression the first sight of the place normally had on visitors.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Change of Site

I have decided to move my blog/story to I am slowly reposting the story there and I soon as I have caught up, the new chapters will be available. Thanks for reading.. Update: Making the move was a mistake. The site proved to be unstable. Shifting back here, at least until something better comes along!