Saturday, April 30, 2016



History repeated itself in 2035: hundreds of Kenya Defence Forces soldiers were massacred. Our position in Kismayo, Somalia was attacked and overran by joint al-Shabaab and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) mujahedeen. It was worse than the January 15th, 2016 Elade attack.  Only thirteen of us survived, and no, we did not fight the dastard terrorists to the end—we escaped when we still could. Only the Indian Ocean stopped us from running. A US Destroyer, USS Trinity—which was somewhere close by—speedboats saved us from the terrorists closing in on us.  

In Kenya, for the cameras, we were heroes; but to the system we were cowards—we failed to pursue the enemy whom it was our duty to pursue, we did not assist to the utmost of our ability our fellow soldiers, and for me, Captain Olmeda, I improperly abandoned my command. We were court-martialled and sentenced to death by firing squad.

Speeding along Thika Superhighway, thoughts trundled through my brain like a train, with no intention of stopping. As every passing minute confirmed our imminent death awaiting us at the army’s secret execution site where we were been taken, to be killed by the army we had fought its wars as it propagated the imperialistic foreign policy of a government that cared less about internal security, I wished to live a life where little or no interest could be found in one gang of despots launching attacks upon the other.

Then, suddenly, the mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) personnel car six of us were in swerved out of control. There was an explosion that lifted the heavy car off the ground. A moment later there was clang of metal against tarmac. My body jerked forward, restrained by seatbelts and the Smith & Wesson Belly Waist-chain handcuffs fastened to the floor. What a way to die, I thought as I looked at the others slumped against the wall of the overturned heavy vehicle. My bones, muscles, joints, and organs felt like they were being crumbled and smashed into a tiny box. My lungs contracted with such force that I was afraid they would fold into themselves. My vision kept flashing from bitter darkness to blinding white light. The only sound that filled my ears was the crushing of glass mixed with the distinct crackles of my bones.

“Get them out of here,” I heard a stern voice say.

The rear door of the MRAP was pried open and I glimpsed combat camouflage and boots before blinding light took away my vision along with consciousness.

When I came to, I was in a brightly-lit room with the others. We were being tended to by a horde of medics in KDF Special Forces’ uniform. And then he entered—towering, muscular, commanding. The Commanding Officer SF.

“Welcome to hell,” his voice boomed. “Bad news, you’re alive. Good news, you’re dead.”
It took a moment for his words to sink in, and then I knew that we truly were heroes.

“The system did not want you, it never wants anyone when you cock up. You are brave, and I’m going to make you proud of yourself. To the world, you are dead, but here we are. In the system you were cowards, in your death you will be super-soldiers…”

***

No military commander has ever become great without audacity, and I had never admired a military commander than I did Colonel Fidel Ombieno, CO Special Forces.

At an underground, secret laboratory and training facility at the foothills of Lions Hill, Nakuru, the thirteen of us were turned from coward soldiers and weaklings of the battlefield to veritable super-soldiers. This may sound like military science fiction, but it really happened: we were genetically engineered; whoever had a hereditary disease was cleansed of the malaise; implanted with cybernetics; I wouldn’t say brainwashed but we were given a purpose to die for our country again; and were injected with extreme training regimen and super-soldier serum that gave us extreme physical strength, rapid healing, offered protection against chemical, biological, electromagnetic, and ballistic threats, including direct fire from a .50-calibre bullet.

The kitting was super: SuperCombat camouflage dress engineered with full-body ballistics protection; integrated heating and cooling systems; embedded sensors, antennas, and computers; life-saving oxygen and haemorrhage controls. It incorporated audio, visual, and haptic sensors, including thermal imaging for the eyes, sound suppression for the ears, and fibre optics from the head to the fingertips. We had Night-Vision Contact Lenses, Thought Helmet that could turn pre-speech thoughts into quantifiable bits information and beam them to others enhancing Silent Talk without giving anything away to the enemy.

Technically, we were immortals. Not even the high impact Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosives Devices (VBIEDs) al-Shabaab and ISIS were using to target our troops in Somalia could put a single super-soldier down.

Colonel Ombieno was stinking rich. His oil magnate father owned OilOmbi Kenya Ltd, an oil exploration company that drilled oil wherever it was discovered in Eastern Africa—Turkana in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, and the contentious oil rich Olemi Triangle that led to the one-month Kenya-South Sudan war in 2030. He used his money to fund the top secret Project Phoenix. From the ashes came thirteen secret super-soldiers.

“There’s no honourable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending,” Colonel Ombieno told us on the day he send us out. “This is a call of duty. You are going deep behind enemy lines in Somalia as an elite Black Ops super-soldier with only one aim—to finish al-Shabaab and ISIS. Make Kenya safe, make your mother proud, and make the system see their mistake in court-martialling and killing you…”

In all my life in the army, I had never been more motivated to go to to Somalia and put my life on the line for my country.

When the KDF went into Somalia in 2011, they thought capturing and liberating territories from al-Shabaab was the ultimate win. The commanders termed it propaganda when al-Shabaab claimed they had made a strategic retreat when Kismayo, the terrorists’ financial hub, was captured. Four years later the terrorists made a comeback with a bang. They overran African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces’ positions, killed many soldiers, and took equipment, weapons and ammunition that they used in their next attack.

After the 15th January, 2016 attack on KDF position in Elade, Somalia, al-Shabaab faced another enemy—ISIS. There was a lull as al-Shabaab focused on routing out the Caliphate forming mujahedeen of the Middle East, but ISIS were invincible. AMISOM became a peacekeeping mission where gullible commanders advised against leaving Somalia for self-enrichment from import and export businesses along the Somalia Coasts ports. When no terror group seemed to win, al-Shabaab and ISIS merged, and AMISOM became the common enemy. Their first attack was on our position, Kenya contingent Sector Headquarters in Kismayo.

“Your mission is total annihilation of the two terrorist groups,” Colonel Ombieno said.
And so, we, thirteen veritable super-soldiers, formerly cowards, ended terrorism in East Africa. Somalia today is the region’s main economic hub, Kenya is a superpower in Africa, courtesy of us—the Special Annihilation Squad Thirteen (SAS-13).  

But something happened to me in our last mission to Nigeria two years ago. We managed to annihilate the last of the remaining Boko Haram sleeper cells in Borno State. I don’t know what happened to my SuperCombat dress, but I was the only one injured when our Humvee hit a landmine on our ride to our extraction pick-up point.


There are nights I dream in such vivid detail that when I wake up I am confused, forgetting for a fraction of a second that my sight is gone. I feel grief all over, the loss of things I never even consider missing. My life as a super-soldier was all action, all hero, never slowing for even a day. Once the sadness becomes less acute I reach for my cane and slowly tap my way to the laboratory where I became someone else, something else. I will never see my own aging, forever twenty-eight in my mind’s eye, though my fingers would tell me of the wrinkles and hair loss in due course. Part of me wonders if the dreams would change, if one day they would be the same monochrome shadows of my super-soldier days...

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