Tupolev Tango Uniform Down!
Bart De Wet returned to South Africa, battle-weary and riddled with guilt over the death of his wife Salome. Spiraling towards the grip of alcoholism he takes refuge in an isolated cabin in the picturesque environment of the South African bushveld, but he knows he can’t hide here forever. There are ghosts in his past that has returned to haunt him and he sets off on a new mission to clear his name.
South Africa was governed by a flawed and internationally condemned political system, the sustainability of which was always questionable at best Now, Following a plane crash, near the border of South-Africa and The communist state of Mozambo, of a Russian built Tupolev T.U. aircraft, en route to Mozambo and the subsequent death of all of its passengers and crew, amongst whom, are the president, Sambu Mohabe and several top members of his cabinet, De Wet unwittingly stumbles upon a web of deceit on a scale that has unexpected political ramifications. Against his will but by necessity, Bart is faced with having to fight for survival under conditions where his skill and training as a Special Forces operative, are tested to their limits.
South Africa February 1981, Northern Transvaal.
BART DE WET SLICES CLEANLY THROUGH THE WATER, his shoulders broad and muscular, his arms rolling smoothly in even, measured strokes as he rapidly closed in on the shoreline. The haunting cry of a lone Fish Eagle reverberated through the crisp morning air and the bark of a waking troupe of baboons echoed off craggy, weather-beaten hills overlooking the lake.
Reaching the shallows, De Wet rose to his feet and stood waist deep looking back to admire the picturesque environment. The rising sun reflected off the water in a shimmering pathway the color of molten copper, and the rolling hills beyond stood in dark silhouette against the subtle hue of dawn. He looked at his Omega-Mariner watch and grunted with satisfaction. I swam three kilometers in forty-two minutes, a way better time than yesterday; and by nearly a full minute. Grinning, he cocked his head and arched an eyebrow
“Not too shabby” he muttered to himself.
Turning, he waded towards the nearby rocky outcrop where he had left his shoes and a towel. As he reached the shoreline he froze. Leopard spoor lay imprinted in the mud at the water’s edge; those tracks had not been there when he’d set off on his swim earlier and he went down on his haunches to examine them. The hair at the nape of his neck bristled as he cautiously looked around, half expecting the animal to be somewhere dangerously close, but the trail disappeared into the thick bush along the lakeshore and he breathed a sigh of relief as the adrenalin rush subsided. He ran a hand through his long, dripping hair and scratched at his stubbly beard. The tracks were fresh, not more than fifteen minutes and pondered the wisdom of an idea that instantly came to mind.
The scene offered up a silent challenge, and for a moment Bart was torn between ignoring it or taking it up. Abruptly, as if he’d made up his mind and feared to give himself time to rethink it, he donned his shoes, grabbed the towel from the rock and dashed up the hillside to his cabin two hundred meters away. Within minutes he was back, decked out for the chase.
Drawing on his years of Special Ops training and combat experience, he followed the spoor, moving with ghostlike stealth through the undergrowth. Twice he lost the faint trail and had to retrace his steps and cast a circle to recover it. It had taken him well over an hour when he finally sighted the beast languishing in the dappled shade beneath a Mopani tree. Naturally camouflaged and barely visible, he would never have seen it had it not been for the tell-tale flick of his tail. Bart crept quietly into a hidden recess between clumps of thorn trees, from where he had a clear view, with only twenty meters separating him from his quarry. This closeup, the majesty of the animal, was breath-taking. It never failed to surprise De Wet how underestimated these creatures were when seen from afar.
He adjusted the scope, bringing the image into sharp focus, the crosshairs held steady for a perfect shot and squeezed gently down on the trigger….‘Click, click, click, click’… The Canon’s auto-shutter rolled in a rapid succession of consecutive images.
Startled by the intrusive whirr, the cat scrambled to its feet, teeth bared in a belligerent snarl, its stance an intimidating display of defiance; hind quarters compressed in muscular contraction set to defend itself against the unseen peril. Appearing mystified by the absence of a visible adversary, the animal held its pose for a few seconds before turning and darting away, quickly vanishing into the dense undergrowth. From his vantage point, De Wet held down on the shutter button running off a full roll of thirty-six film exposures. He had captured the sequence frame by frame and he grinned triumphantly at the accomplishment of his venture.
“Gotcha” he murmured in smug satisfaction.
For a few minutes, he remained motionless giving the big cat plenty of time to get clear, then rose from his prone position and stretched, allowing himself a luxuriant yawn as he physically unwound from the tension of the hunt.
Slinging the camera over his shoulder, he sat down on a rock and lit a cigarette as he surveyed the rustic beauty of his surroundings. He looked up at the dazzling aquamarine sky where a flock of geese flew in perfect V formation and sparse white clouds hovered idly like floating balls of cotton wool. All around him the animated chatter of birds and insects added to the enchantment of the African bush. This was paradise, he thought. His very own Garden of Eden and a refuge from the life he had chosen to leave behind, but a life from which he knew he could not escape. He pondered briefly what needed to be done, and then cast the thought aside. After a while, he got to his feet and began the long walk back to his cabin.
Please edit and comment. Regards, Andre’