The flight into Port Selao was a short hour and a half trip. Just enough time for a catnap or to get acquainted with a neighbour. I almost always choose the latter. My seat mate was a solid looking Englishman named Nicholas Greaves. He claimed to be a ‘transport consultant’. When I asked what that meant, he simply grinned and told me he’s part of the game. Clearly a mercenary. But he was a charming man with a powerful laugh. Like so many Brits I’ve met, Greaves enjoys his potty humour . I’ll spare you the transcription.
To the casual observer, Greaves did indeed appear to be some drab
businessman of sorts. Entirely unassuming, a crisp white cotton dress
shirt under a taupe blazer. An ascot tastefully tucked at his neck. He
looked the part of the British expat on a desperate hunt for the
nearest bangers and mash. But a few words between us and it was clear
he had far more intricate plans than a simple bit of home cooking.
Greaves, or Nicholas as he insisted, asked if I’d ever heard of Major Oliver Tambossa. I knew him as the Chief of Staff for the former government but had no idea of his whereabouts now. I speculated that he had fled the country with the President.
Matter-of-factly, Nicholas stated the President was dead. I was taken aback by such off-handed remarks in open company. But then mercs rarely exhibit fear.
Nicholas told me Tambossa’s the one to watch. He spit Addi Mbandtuwe’s name calling the rebel leader a corrupt puppet master hiding behind the Opposition. He believed Tambossa was the country’s best hope for restoring order and stabilizing the economy. He spoke passionately about the man as if he truly believed the future lay in his hands. But I’ve met enough mercenaries to know that Nicholas sees an opportunity. Yes, he believes in Tambossa but only so much as one believes in the 5th horse in the 7th race. Greaves is gambling that Tambossa will be the one to come out on top and Greaves wants to be in the front row to enjoy the spoils.
Yes, the man was charming. But then, almost every mercenary I’ve
ever met has a disarming charm about them. It must be a way to
compartmentalize the death and devastation they perpetrate.
When our plane arrived, Nicholas thanked me for the company. As we reached the tarmac, I turned for one final word only to find the man had vanished. I have no doubt I will never see him again.