Once the three of us were seated in the jet Frank turned to me and said, “Tell the pilot we are headed to Lusaka.”
“Where is that?” the Princess asked.
“Africa – the capital city of Heaven Kumwambaof - once part of Zambia.”
“That is where the war is.”
“Yes, and a very nasty war it is. I think it has been going on for almost fifteen years. Jack, give us both a run down on the war.”
“Yes Sir, the war has been going on for seventeen years. It grew out of a Bantu nationalism movement that was suppressed by the Zambia government which was being dominated by the Bantu and Chinese elite in the capital city. At that time more than 90% of the copper was being exported to China at below market prices due to the government corruption. Sporadic fighting started outside the city; a Moslem named General Andikan, which is a Bantu name meaning ‘Conqueror’ started a guerrilla army that would often hide in neighboring Mozambique in the Tete province. He seems to be a rather inspiring chap and by his fifth year of fighting he took over Lusaka and declared his Kingdom of Heaven or as it is called in Bantu, Heaven Kumwambaof. The city was ravaged during the five year fight and had lost over half its population. General Andikan slaughtered every Chinese person he could find. He currently controls about 30% of Zambia as well as Tete. It is estimated he has over 50,000 soldiers, including about a thousand robotic soldiers supplied by North Korea. Ever since China lost control of their once dependent satellite North Korea the Koreans have been seeking ways to keep China’s world power confined. More than two hundred thousand Africans have been killed by the Zambian Army or by General Andikan’s army. Another four hundred thousand have been killed by famine. The leaders of Zambia have temporally set up the city of Chibombo as the new capital of Zambia. Much of the Kingdom of Heaven’s wealth comes from illegally traded goods, including diamonds, arms, human sex slaves and drugs. Currently, there is a sort of cease fire –“
“Okay, Jack, that is enough. This heaven on earth is also the last refuge for international outlaws. If you have the money, no matter what your politics are, the General will find a place for you in Lusaka. He has all those mansions left by the Chinese to fill.”
“And you think that is where Terrance has gone?” the Princess asked in a tone of disbelief.
“I do. With his resources he could easily set up a staging area to launch his attack on religion.”
I felt at this point it was within my duties to warn my master, “Sir you realize that the Lusaka airport still does not have ground control. You fly there at the risk of being shot down by Andican’s forces.”
“I once got drunk with the General about six years ago in New York when he insulted the United Nations for an hour for their refusal to recognize his new nation. He is a cunning man. In fact, he is far more versed in business than in fighting which is why he is still in power and the weak corrupt Zambia elite are too busy backbiting and taking bribes to defeat him. He told me he had the President of Zambia on his payroll and I don’t doubt it. I have my paper send him a case of Jack Daniels every New Years.”
“Do you really like this guy?” the Princess asked in a tone of disgust.
“Of course not, he is a monster, but great headlines often come from those you don’t like. Besides, if he is drunk, he is more likely to miss when he is trying to shoot someone. There is a regular procession of junior officers in his army. They tend to die young. Jack send off a message to the General and ask his permission for landing. Jack how long until touchdown?”
“About nine hours, Sir.”
Frank looked at the Princess with his big baby blue eyes and said in a mocking kind of tone, “Any idea what we could do for nine hours?” The Princess came over to him and sat on his lap and whispered something into Frank’s ear. After that their social interactions regressed to mock procreation. I discreetly turned my chair toward the back of the plane and scanned the Internet for any interesting news. They did not make love for nine hours, no human can. They boast as much, but within a half hour the love birds were asleep.
When I felt the plane starting to ascend I woke up my Master and he, in turn, woke up the Princess. They both quickly used the executive bathroom and took showers. I laid out fresh clothes for the two of them and had fresh coffee and some muffins ready for them. Both must have been a little nervous as only the coffee was consumed.
A new message came in and it was from General Andican. I immediately told Frank I had a message from the General. He told me to read it to him. It went as follows: My dear fellow, you are most welcome to come with your friend, the Princess, to visit my heavenly country. Cheers, General Andican
Even my emotional circuits were in surprise mood when we landed. At the airport was a half a dozen black limousines and a red carpet waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. There was even a color guard with the blood red flag of the General’s personal country as well as the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. Since no legitimate leader of a country has ever visited the General he probably insisted on the color guard to boost his own ego. Frank and the Princess slowly made their way down to the tarmac and then paused on the red carpet as the General and his aides came out to greet them. The General after welcoming the Princess first and then Frank, took from an assistant a large bouquet of flowers and gave them to the Princess.
Behind the General and his aides were a dozen black photographers with old fashion film cameras with flash. I think the General had watched a lot of old movies and decided that important people needed to have their photographs taken constantly. Flash photography had disappeared decades ago with the common availability of cameras that could take photos under the darkest conditions. To have modern cameras silently clicking away was not impressive enough for General Andican. He had to have not only the sound of mechanical shutters and power film advance, but he had to have the large strobe units to the side of the old Nikon FM2 and Hasselblad cameras. I noticed to the side was one photographer with a modern professional camera, which made me wonder if the other cameras even had film.
The General walked us down the red carpet to a bank of microphones. Again, I think this was because the General had seen old films where important people were always surrounded by at least a dozen microphones whenever they had a press conference. These days the podiums seldom had any microphones visible for a press conference. All of the sound and camera work were done by JAICs like me.
The Princess was gracious enough to say a few comments to the Press. They were very generic, but as usual, done in her charming and authentic style. Frank did not even bother to step up to the podium as it was obvious that the Princess was the real news.
After that an aide escorted us to our limo while the General stepped into one of the others. The General’s personal Press Corp was divided between two older model limos. The security people and aides disappeared in the remaining limos. Soon we were moving off the tarmac onto a side road that lead out of the airport. Once we reached the highway Frank noticed the President’s car made a right turn, whereas we had made a left turn.
“What the fuck,” Frank said as he craned his neck around so he could look out the back window. “All the cars turned right, but our car.”
“What do you think that means, Frank?” the Princess asked.
“In my business, not good, but maybe he is just giving us a lift to the Hilton that is downtown?” Frank said composing himself.
It was soon evident to me that we were not going to downtown Lusaka, but instead headed out of town. I informed my master and he fidgeted some more. Frank does not like to not be in control. The Princess rummaged in her handbag and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. She took one and held the box out to Frank and he took one as well. As is my duty I provided the flame and they seemed relaxed after their first draw. After another ten minutes the car pulled off the highway. I told my master that this road lead to an old British military base that was then the largest Zambian army base until the General captured it in his attack on Lusaka.
“Is the General using it?” Frank asked.
“No sir, it has been left as a ghost town. Due to the war thousands of buildings were abandoned.”
The car slowed down to around 15 mph and Frank impulsively tried to open the door. It was locked of course. Finally, it pulled up to what looked like a hangar and slowly went into the darkened space. The headlights of the limo turned on and there ahead of us was a line of robotic soldiers. To their left was the man Frank had wanted to see – Sir Terrance Lutts, in the flesh.
When the car came to a stop I could hear the door locks disengage. I opened my door and held it open for the Princess and Frank. They egressed with matching scowls on their face and silently walked over to where Sir Terrance was standing with his aides. Lutts finished giving some type of direction and then turned to his newly arrived guests.
“Welcome to heaven, my dear wife and Mr. Huntington. This is what you were looking for all along.”
“And what is that my dear, husband?” the Princess asked.
“Why where I plan on changing the world, my dear. It is here that I shall launch my own plague on Egypt and the rest of the world. Tomorrow we set it off,” Lutts said with a smile, “Be so good as to follow me.”
“Sure, just don’t try and drug us this time,” Frank said with sarcasm.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Huntington, I have bigger fish to fry,” Sir Terrance said with a small chuckle.
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