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A Court Of Fowls: Episode 56

Nimrod and his followers ready a captured boat for action to right a terrible wrong.

Novelist Michael Conrad Wood continues his thrilling tale set in turbulent East Africa.

To read earlier episodes of Michael's novel visit

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Chapter 18
Uhuru (continued)

I was so relieved to see the boys back unscathed. I could hardly
believe that they’d successfully achieved what they set out to do. Secured
only twenty metres offshore was the boat which Nimrod had
promised – a little battered looking, but functional.

From papers found stashed away on board we learned that she
was an 82 foot patrol vessel originally named Point Mast. She was first
stationed at Long Beach, California from 1961-65 during which time
her duties included law enforcement and search and rescue operations.

The vessel was then assigned to Squadron One, Division 11,
Vietnam until 1970. She was then transferred to South Vietnam under
the new name of Ho Dang La. The Vietnamese later presented
the by then aging vessel to Siad Barre. Now she was ours!

renamed her Uhuru44. All in all, she proved very seaworthy, if in need
of a coat of marine paint (which we were unable to provide).
Khadra was given his ‘substantial bonus’ but Nimrod decided to
keep him on. With only shack accommodation in Kaambooni our
new engineer decided to come and live with us in the camp.

was still work to do fine tuning the boat’s working parts and to help
‘convert’ her for the purposes we required. This included securing
the housing for a fine pair of Browning M2 machine guns which
Nimrod had acquired from the maniacal Lord’s Resistance Army in
2005, on one of his mysterious gun running trips. These fired .50
calibre rounds and were considered effective against lightly armoured
vehicles and boats, even light fortifications. The guns had
not been fired in anger (by us) but we had plenty of ammunition.
The LRA apparently viewed the weapons as an encumbrance, not
best suited to their brand of bush warfare.

The next week was devoted to ‘sea trials.’ It was important that
we learned more of Uhuru’s capabilities, and quickly. It didn’t take
long, under Khadra’s watchful eye, for our boys to have grasped the
essentials. They were soon blazing around the lagoon at speed, easily
maneuvering the craft into sharp changes of direction, accelerating
away from a standing start, and judging the time needed for reverse
engines to bring the vessel to a halt. Now we were ready for the next
step. One that we realised could put us all in the path of danger. Yet
somehow, I had never been happier. We were taking action, in our
terms titanic, to right a wrong, and to do it with gusto and braggadocio.

As I lay with Nimrod that night he told me about al-Rashid. I
could only feel relief. The man had been a brute and a pig. Did he
deserve the end that finally overtook him? I thought about how he
and Gabobe had treated me. How he had mercilessly cut a young
girl’s throat and laughed about her worth as her life blood seeped
into the desert sand. Yes, he deserved it, I concluded. May he rot in


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