Dawn had broken. Philipps was in the control tower. He had had one of the men cook meals from the food found in the airport restaurant.
Philipps scanned the horizon with his binoculars. Beside him sat a weary air traffic controller. He was speaking to pilots. ”No sorry Borno Airport is closed to all flights. You are diverted.”
In the distance Philipps saw some APCs moving down the road towards the airport. He had heard the radio broadcasts going on constantly – over and again confirming that Kona was dead and that the revolution had succeeded.
Just then the phone in the control tower rang.
”Fuck. They have got the phones working again. Only took them a few hours” said Philipps.
Perkins, who stood beside him, tittered.
Philipps picked it up.
”Hello. This is Captain Abacha. What is going on there at the airport?”
”Patriotic forces have taken over. Everything is fine. Kona is dead. The provisional government is in total control. Are you on our side?”
”On your side? I heard Kona is dead. Is that true?”
”It is true. Don’t you listen to the radio? You can see his body in the morgue of the general hospital like they say.”
”You sound English. Who the hell are you?”
”You don’t need to know. I am Bornoese. So do you swear allegiance to the new president and get $100 cash or do you want to die?”
”Swear allegiance?” the temperature on the phone dropped several degrees.
”Yes, swear allegiance to the new president.”
With that the phone was slammed down.
A moment later one of the coupsters hurried into the control tower.
”Commander, sentry reports he has seen troops moving up the road. They have APCs with them and artillery. ”
”How far away are they?”
”He reckons a mile. Saw them through his binoculars.”
”Get a sharpshooter out there with a sniper rifle. Take out the artillerymen as as priority – after that officers. Understood?”
”Sir” the soldier saluted and marched off.
Philipps then got on the radio to the aircraft hangar.
”Scramble all jets – now. Enemy seen approaching on from the capital. Bomb them. Repeat – scramble all jets. Bomb the hell out them.We have got to hit them hard now. Enemy approaching on the road from the capital. Give them the whole nine yards. Over”
Bakri received, ”Roger that. This is aircraft hangar. I read you Over.”
”Do it fast. Over and out.”
”Over and out.”
A minute later Philipps heard automatic fire in the distance. The sniper must be hitting people and that was why the enemy was firing back. The wrathful racket continued. The Bornoese Army was crawling through the sucking mud and undergrowth. Philipps sent out a team with a general purpose machine gun to hose down those approaching. They were ordered to stay a few hundred metres away from the attackers so as not to be dusted with cannister by the air force. A Bornoese sergeant could be heard haranguing his men – which betrayed their position.
Within a minute jets were in the air. The swooped down on a column of the Bornoese Army and bombed them relentlessly. The Bornoese Army fell back in disorder. The sound of bombs exploding sharpened Philipps senses.
Philipps received radio reports from the pilots. The Bornoese Army was in a rout. Philipps spoke to Gul.
”Commander to Gul. Do you read me? Over ”
”Roger. Yes, sir. This is Gul. Over.”
”Gul – now you are to have six planes bomb the barracks. Hammer them. Fly over it twice. Six planes are to go and bomb the other airbase. Got that? Six planes attack the barracks and six planes fly north and smash the airbase there. Over”
”Roger that” said Gul, ”Six planes to bomb the barracks. Six other planes go and bomb the airfield upcountry. Over”
”Over and out.”
”Over and out.”
The men in the radio station kept Kona’s widow announcing and reannouncing Kona’s death. On the scanner the coupsters soon heard the Bornoese Army telling each other that they had been to the morgue and seen his corpse. They confirmed the rumour was true. Kona was dead.
It was 7 o clock in the morning when the men in the radio station were astonished to see a young woman walking along the road towards them. She was in her mid 20s and wore a buff coloured skirt and immaculate white blouse. Her mid brown penny loafers and her hair was pinned back.
”Who the hell is that?” asked Alexander?
”How should I know?”
They brought Kona’s daughter to the window to look at the woman approaching. ”Who is she?”
”She is the newscaster. ”
”The newsreader? What she is turning up for work.”
”Doesn’t she know there is a coup on?”
”This is her scoop. Biggest story she has ever broken I suppose.”
”Well, I will let her come in.” said Alexander. He went downstairs and waited in the lobby area.
The young woman looked only slightly nervous as she walked in. She saw Alexander holding his AK 47. The woman stood 5’5” and had mid brown skin. Her hair was chin length and tied back. She had a wide nose and intelligent yet tranquil eyes. She was naturally smiley but on this occasion she appeared a little melancholic. She was busty but her hips were not broad.
”Hello – what;s your name doll?” Alexander inquired with false cheer.
”Hello sir my name is Verity.” She tried to look composed but her blood ran cold. Had she really just done this? Really walked into the lion’s den? She was at the mercy of the coupsters.
”Verity? Your a journalist. Verity is a good name for a journalist isn’t it. It means truth – you do ken hen?”
”Hen. Why you call me hen?”
”Hen. Sorry. That’s Scottish. Hen means young woman. ”
”Well Verity you are here for work?”
”Yes, I am.”
”Well then. Come up we have a story for you. Have you no heard there has been a change of government? Kona is dead and the country is now free.”
”I am a journalist. I only report what I know to be true” said Verity with great self-assurance.
”Have you no listened to the radio this morning?”
”Yes, I have. And I want to find out the truth.”
”Welcome then doll. This is the place to find out the truth” Alexander was amused but still suspicious.
They walked upstairs. They went into the broadcast room.
Mrs Kona and her daughter seemed relieved to see her.
”The First Lady!” said Verity and nearly curtseyed.
”Oh Verity. Am I glad to see you.”, there was a thick film on her eyes.
”I am so pleased you are unharmed. They kept us here for hours. They said after the broadcast we could go but they will not let us go.”
”It is no safe out there” said Alexander. ” There has been fighting at the airport. Our air force has had to bomb the shit out of your boys. Killed hundreds of them. We cannae let you out to get killed.”
Mrs Kona embraced Verity as did the daughter.
”Mrs Kona. I must ask. Is it true what you said on the radio. Is President Kona dead?”
”Yes, yes he is” she looked down and tears came to her eyes.
”I thought they made you lie at gunpoint but I can see you speak the truth”. Verity cried too and hugged Mrs Kona again. Kona’s daughter began to weep too.
”Get over yourself girls. We have a job of work to do. Now, Verity. You heard the truth. You will now announce his death. You are the most trusted newsreader in the country.”
”What? Work as a tool of British propaganda? I shall not.”
”Oh yes you shall darling” the flinty faced Scot aimed his weapon at her chest.
A minute later Verity was broadcasting the death of Kona and reading aloud the coupsters’ statement.