Mikhael sat up, peeled his damp shirt away from the back of the passenger seat of the helicopter and looked at his watch. He stifled a yawn and picked up Jed’s flight bag, “What’s for lunch today?”
ed chuckled as he glanced at Mikhael, “Help yourself boet. It’s wors from last night’s braai. I grabbed a BLT samie before we started this grid search.”
Mikhael swallowed the last piece of boerewors, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, “The boys gave you a lekker farewell bash last night. I’m gonna miss you boet.”
“Ja, it’s sad to be leaving. We’ve been a great team.”
Jed flew up the next length of the grid, “I won’t’ be sorry to say goodbye to these grid searches. Man, they are boring, but it’s hard to beat some of those amazing highs we have after a successful result from a car chase.”
Mikhael smiled, “Are you looking forward to your touring gig in and out of Africa.”
Jed grinned, “Yeah. I’m bound to have some adventures flying around Arica. I’m going to Mozambique and Tanzania for my first few tours.”
Jed played his air guitar and burst into a Juluka song, “I’m sittin’ on the top of Kilimanjaro. I can see a new tomorrow …”
The hand-held radio kicked into life, “Case in Soweto. Red Golf 5. Driver shot. Girlfriend kidnapped with vehicle.”
Jed swore in anger, “For the sake of a car, someone is shot and someone is kidnapped!”
Jed toyed with the idea of flying south of Rand airspace but snapped off the quandary in his head. He flicked the helicopter radio frequency to Rand ATC, “Request permission to fly overhead the airfield, tracking for Soweto.”
Mikhael nodded, “We need to get there fast! I pray she is rescued.”
Jed clenched his teeth, “Or if she gets thrown out of the vehicle, the paramedics need to be dispatched and directed to her.”
Mikhael muttered a string of swear words under his breath whilst he scrutinised the tracking device. The tracking unit registered on his screen, “Signals towards Kliptown.”
Jed bobbed his head in acknowledgement and scanned his instruments. Mikhael swung his head around and looked at Jed, “With the time we spent on that area grid search, have we got enough fuel?”
Jed reassured Mikhael, “We still have two and a half hours left in the tanks, and we need to land with at least 20 minutes in the tanks for our reserves.”
Mikhael, visibly relaxed, picked up his phone and sent a SMS, “I’ve just asked control for an update on the driver.”
Jed lapsed into silence and bit his lower lip, “Boet, with a life at risk in this hijacking, if we are still involved in the chase and we start burning into the fuel reserves, will you be OK if we continue until the low fuel light comes on, at which point I’ll put her down on the road?”
Mikhael’s anger boiled, “For sure Jed. Let’s get this bastard. No ways this scumbag is going to get away.”
The hand-held radio crackled, “Hey Choppie, it’s Cephas here. We’re travelling behind the suspect. He turned right about two Ks from where you are.”
Jed looked sideways out of his window, “There he is! What’s this guy on? Crack or something? He’s driving like a raving lunatic.”
The suspect accelerated and skidded around a corner, trying to shake off the ground crew that tailed him.
Mikhael swore loudly whilst he watched the maniac hurtle along the narrow street.
Jed spoke into the radio, “The moron’s turned into a cul-de-sac. There’s no way out for him.”
“Gotcha Choppie. We’re going in after him. We’ve got another two ground crew cars behind us.”
The red Golf braked. Jed watched the suspect open the driver’s door and kick it open with his foot. The door bounced wide open and sprang back on its hinge hitting the suspect in his torso as he leapt out of the car.
Mikhael guffawed, “Idiot!”
The suspect untangled himself from the door and pummelled it closed with his boot. He glanced around and darted into the small dirt yard of a house.
Jed barked, “Cephas, he’s doing do a runner! get him!”
Cephas sped past the stationary Golf and stationed his vehicle in the cul-de-sac, whilst a second ground-crew vehicle blocked the entrance to the narrow road – any attempt to escape in the hijacked vehicle would be thwarted.
Jed hovered above the chaotic sprawl of housing structures, “It’s like watching a movie from up here – watching the good guys suit up in body armour and load up their automatic weapons. I hope this ends well.”
Mikhael regarded the four ground crew teams as they manoeuvred into position, one at each corner of the block of land, “Great to see the ground crew on form. They’re coordinating well today.”
The hand-held radio crackled, “There was nobody in the Golf when we drove past. Did he drop the victim off?”
Mikhael shook his head, “Negative. The single suspect jumped out, and ran into that block of houses.”
“Can you direct us to where he ran?”
Mikhael calculated the location relative to where Cephas stood, “Ja, he’s in the backyard, two houses away from you on your left.”
Jed noticed that two of the other ground crew units also turned left. Both teams, inadvertently, turned away from the suspect.
“Wow, that’s not working.”
Jed cautioned Mikhael, “You need to try to identify which team you’re talking to and get the other teams to remain where they are whilst one team flushes out the suspect.”
“Cephas,” Mikhael called over the radio, “Can you guys just stop where you are and wave your hands above your heads?”
Mikhael focused on the ground crew stationed near the Golf, “Why isn’t he waving?”
Jed cleared his throat, “Cephas is waving. He’s still positioned in the cul-de-sac.”
Mikhael swore under his breath – frustrated. The adrenaline pumped through his body, “It would help if they had flippin’ numbers on their caps.”
Mikhael took a deep breath, “OK Cephas, you guys move to the corner and keep a lookout, both up and down the street. You guys are the furthest away.” Mikhael continued, “Ground team by the house with the white fence …”
Jed interrupted Mikhael, “There’re several houses with white fences.”
Exasperated, Mikhael snapped, “Ja, Ja.” He scanned the location of the four ground crew teams and re-took control, “Team by the house with a taxi in the yard, you guys are the closest. Proceed to the back of the taxi and continue into the backyard. The suspect is on the other side of the back wall in the neighbour’s yard.”
Jed blurted, “He’s escaping.”
Mikhael hollered into the radio, “He’s jumping over the wall into another property. Don’t let the thug get away!”
Jed and Mikhael watched helplessly as the suspect picked himself up from his vault over the wall in his dash for freedom.
Out of the shadows, what looked like a bear pounced on and tackled the suspect. The black monster and the suspect rolled together in the dirt. Jed and Mikhael shouted and boxed in the air as they cheered on the newest team member. The fever of adrenaline heightened in the cockpit as a storm of dust rose off the ground from the tussle.
The animation in the cockpit froze into silence. Jed and Mikhael watched in disbelief as the suspect freed himself from the hound. The thug spurted away from his attacker and ran towards his escape route. As the dog lurched at him, he flung himself over the wall.
Jed held his breath. The suspect lifted his head from his plunge over the wall and recoiled as the barrels of two automatic rifles were pointed within inches of his head. Jed high-fived Mikhael and whooped, “Nailed!”
Jed peered at his watch and scanned his instrument panel. He chuckled at the smug look on Mikhael’s face, “We’ve still got some of fuel to burn. Check with Control if they have another case for us.”
Before Mikhael pressed the button to speak to control, the radio sputtered, “We’ve got her … we’ve got her!”
Jed furrowed his eyebrows and looked at Mikhael, “We’ve got her?”
Mikhael shook his head and shrugged, “Ground crew, too much excitement and confusion.” He took command, “Station Transmitting. Say again last. Take your time and be clear.”
“Choppy … the kidnapped girl, she was in the boot. She’s alive! We got her! We got her!”
Jed beamed, “Wahoo! Now that’s what I call a good result.”