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“Are you sure, Senator, this looks like a very private time?”
The voice woke Sandy up. It was Bushie. Dave was still there, asleep in a chair, holding Afa’s hand. There were new ice bags around Afa. They must have replaced them while he was dozing. The others were gone.
The Senator was at the door, with Bushie, Tom Bishop, Dan Goldman, and half a dozen other people, most with cameras.
“The team is still asleep behind the curtains. Just about time for them to wake up. If they don’t want you here, you’ll know about it.”
Bushie walked up to Sandy. “It’s an honor to meet you son. I’d have you on my team.” He must have noticed Sandy’s confused look. “We saw the video, and the hole in your head.”
Sandy looked at the clock. 11:15.
“Get a shot of that flag.”
That was one of the new guys, without a camera. Sandy looked around. It wasn’t there before, but yeah it was O4 awesome. There, on the wall, was the new 1RR flag. 1RR in the top left. In the middle an embroidery of Sandy from the video, with rifle in one hand, pistol in the other, pointing at the two rocks. A body had fallen out from behind one. A blood trail led from the other. And wonderfully, it wasn’t his picture. It was CC Afa, in camo pants, shirtless, bleeding from his five bullet wounds. And from below the 1RR, curving to the bottom right of the flag, around and under Corporal Afa, O ta’engata pea ta’engata.
There was a noise from behind the curtains. Gunny Shane, still in surgical scrubs, obviously he’d slept in them, pulled back one of the curtains. He saw the flag, stood to attention, thumping one foot on the ground as he did so, and saluted. One by one, the rest of the team came out from behind the curtains. Soon they were all there, in a line, at attention, saluting their flag and Afa. Half of them were in scrubs. The rest just in boxers.
“That will do, team. Out of here. Show us how, Corporal.” And they were gone, following Corporal Stan out of the room.
“They are on their way back to their barracks to have breakfast and get into their training gear. Sorry, no cameras there. Not this morning. You won’t see them again until they arrive at the ground.”
“This is unbelievable.” It was Dan Goldman, the commentator from New Ziland. “But how can they play today?”
Sandy was surprised to hear Tom Bishop. His voice sounded husky. “They can play. I hope they win.”
He walked up to Sandy, and shook his hand. “Me too, I’m real proud to meet you, Sir.”
Sandy was embarrassed. And then Dan Goldman came up. He was rescued by the Senator.
“We had better leave here. Gentlemen, we will take a helicopter to the area where the playing field is. You want to start broadcasting in half an hour. Sandy, you’re with me please. We will have a clean uniform for you at the ground.”
The big helicopter was waiting for them on the roof. So was General Dean. The three of them sat apart from the television guys. They were taken from the landing area to the ground in open carts. Armed soldiers were positioned every ten meters or so.
In the command center, Sandy changed into his clean uniform, captain’s pips and all. It wasn’t a fair trade – two pips for Afa.
Today there was a big screen on the far wall. The broadcast was just beginning. It was Dan Goldman.
“We didn’t know they existed a few days ago. Now we hear that the only sport played by Gooch and Choo is rugby league and the main game of their season is an armed forces grudge match, between 1RR, a recon and rescue force, and the defenders, a reservation based force.
Here, it’s midday Saturday. For our viewers back in Australia, New Ziland, and the Pacific Islands, it’s early Sunday morning. I promise you, this is going to be a game worth staying up for, worth getting up for. If you’ve got mates or family still in bed, get them up. This is one game you are going to want to say you’ve seen.
I’m Dan Goldman, and with me in the commentary team today are two men who need no introduction. Bill Silver, the most successful Blues coach of all time.” The screen showed Bushie, “And Tom Bishop who led Souths to their first championship in forty-three years, playing on after he suffered a broken cheekbone in the first tackle of the grand-final.”
The screen showed that famous head clash, and shots of Tom during the game with the hollow in his cheek, and then the swelling clearly visible.
“Stay with us, for what must be the most dramatic pre-game in the history of rugby league, and for an act of heroism that defies belief.”
And there’s the clip of Sandy, covered in blood and bleeding from his head wound, staggering out of the gap in the rock. He falls over. Gets up, sways. Takes the rifle and two ammo magazines, then starts jogging unsteadily up the path towards the field.
“But now, let’s meet the players. First the defenders. They had a gym session last night, before the game. Here’s their captain, Sergeant Charles Gooch with Tom Bishop.”
Charles Gooch is big, even for a Gooch. He comes up to Tom who is sparring with a punching bag. Tom moves aside, and Charles jabs the bag which explodes, covering them both in sand. The clip moves to a weight bench. Tom bench presses 140 kilos, about 300 pounds. Pretty good. Charles is at spotter. He curls the 140 kilos. Incredible. Then he signals off screen. A much thicker bar is brought over, and 50 kilo weights are loaded onto it. Ten of them. Five hundred kilos, eleven hundred pounds, plus the bar. Charles completes three sets of eight.
Tom Bishop has this to say. “And there are four of them on the defenders team. Props. Tonight, I’m happy to be retired.”
The cameras spend another ten minutes with the defenders. Then it’s back to Dan Goldman.
“1RR decided on a captain’s run the night before the game. It’s a bit of a mission to get to the field.” A clip of the three vehicles making their way through the jungle, and coming up to the gates. Video of them jogging to the ground. Video of the warm up. Players setting up for the kick returns. A few of these. Gunny looks towards the sentries, says something to Corporal Afa who runs over to them. Shooting. Afa falls, as do four of the guards. Fire is returned by the other sentries. The team pepper pots to their weapons.
“This was not a drill. The reservation was attacked by a team of navy seals. Those four soldiers are dead. The Choo who was running towards them, Corporal Afa, is severely wounded. But what is happening down the tunnel, that’s incredible.”
And Sandy sees it again. There he was walking casually towards the fork. The other guys are coming up from the lake. Sandy draws his pistol. Some of them raise their rifles. Sandy dives into the gap in the rock. Bullets hit the stone around him. Then the dead soldier is being used as a shield, with Sandy firing from behind him. The shield soldier is hit half a dozen times. Sandy takes one in the head and falls. A replay in slow-mo of the bullet hit, and in slow-mo the blood and tissue fly out. Sandy was sure he could see bone chips flying.
The navy seals charge past. One of them stops at the gap and fires a couple of rounds into the dead soldier/Sandy. They take the path to the ground.
Sandy staggers out of the gap in the rock. Bleeding from his head. Lots of blood on his uniform. He falls over. Gets up, sways. Takes the dead soldier’s rifle and two ammo magazines, then starts jogging unsteadily up the path towards the field.
The navy seals come into view. Sandy raises the rifle to his shoulder. He shoots while continuing to move forward. Three down. The fourth takes cover. Sandy does not take cover, He charges, dives, rolls, rolls again, shoots. Four navy seals dead. Then the scene with Sandy in the middle of the path, pistol in one hand, rifle in the other, covering both rocks. A dead body falls from behind one rock, blood flows from behind the other.
The clip continues.
It shows Nellie running up to Sandy. The whole ‘you stupid boy’ thing. Gunny’s instructions to Nellie and Abel.
Sandy and Afa being loaded onto the helicopter. Mr Bolton desperately trying to keep Afa alive. His conversation with the medics and with the hospital.
Voiceover from Dan Goldman. “For those of you who don’t know, expectant is the military triage category used to describe wounded soldiers who can’t be saved given the resources available. These are the soldiers whose deaths are expected. Minimal means treatment can be delayed with no long term threat to life, limb, or sight. They’re tough over here. Maori tough. If you survive getting shot in the head, that’s minimal. You can wait in the queue for treatment.”
Another clip, in slow-mo of the bullet hitting Sandy.
The helicopter landing, on the roof. Sandy hadn’t seen this before. A nurse comes running with, well, a toolbox. Afa is placed on something with wheels that leaves him at chest height. Mr Bolton steps on a small platform and they, bed and platform are pushed towards a lift. Mr Bolton slashes a deep cut down Afa’s chest. He is handed, what, a saw, and begins cutting, splitting the sternum. They are in the lift. “Chest retractor”. He is handed something which he places in the wound and uses to separate both sides of the chest. Not another word has been spoken. The lift doors open. He is handed a scalpel. Oh man, that’s Afa’s heart. You can see it beating, in a sac thing. Mr Bolton cuts the sac, and blood pours out. That can’t be good. A big swab comes into picture. Mr Bolton shakes his head. You can see his fingers in the blood, and he comes out with a bullet between his fingers. A dish appears, and the bullet goes into it. Now the swab. They are in the operating theatre. Mr Bolton is stitching up Afa’s heart. That was unbelievable.
Dan Goldman again.
“The surgeon is Mr Ian Bolton. Three days ago he was operating in Auckland hospital. It is rumored that he operated on Mr Adam Gooch, in an airport hangar, after Mr Gooch was shot by New Ziland police. He was suspended from practice by the Medical Council of New Ziland yesterday. But viewers, that is how it is done. You will never see better emergency trauma surgery than that. Done on the run. If you’ve still got friends and family who aren’t watching this, get them out of bed. You haven’t seen anything yet. This was at eight pm last night, our time over here.”
The Senator had been talking. Clever. Dan Goldman goes on.
“But there was another injured person on the helicopter. Let’s not forget about him.”
Sandy hadn’t seen this either. They are on the roof. He is also on one of those elevated stretcher things on wheels. But there is a nurse in front of the lift. With a soldier, an officer. And Nellie is having words. This bit he had heard before, most of it anyway.
“They won’t let us take the patient, Major.”
“Soldiers, you can’t come into the treatment areas. Leave your weapons here and take that lift to the ground floor where you can wait.”
“Nah thanks. We got our orders, and he’s our mate. He aint going nowhere without us.”
“You are not going inside the hospital with weapons.”
“Then we’ll stay outside. Nah, I aint leaving my rifle behind. He’s my mate and he just got shot right here on the reservation… Nah, we’re staying here. He’s not going anywhere without us right beside him…Who the frig are you… Major... Major pain in the ass… You aint the boss of me and if you aint gonna treat my mate, get your ass out of here before I shoot you.”
The major moved forward. “Soldier I have given you an order. Put that weapon down.” He took another step forward. Nellie raised his weapon, pointed it at the major. The click as he offed the safety catch was loud, real noticeable.
Then Abel was there. Between the major and Nellie.
“Major, I’ve had enough of you.” One punch, and the major was knocked out. “That’s the kind of fight I like Nellie. Two hits. I hit him. He hits the ground.” Abel picked the major up, threw him over his soldier and walked toward the lift. The nurse was squawking into a microphone on her blouse “Security, security to the rooftop landing pad.”
Abel pushed the lift button. The doors opened. He threw the major into a corner. Something broke. You could hear the crack. “Nurse, you better get in here. And we need a new major, eh. This one’s broken.”
The nurse scuttled into the lift and Abel walked back to Nellie.
“Whaddya do that for? I woulda shot him.”
“Yeah, that’s why.”
There was the ding of a lift arriving. It was the Senator. Then the clip moved to Sandy being examined by TOM, and the squeezing of, well it wasn’t really polyfilla was it, into the space where you could see bone was missing, then TOM sewing Sandy up. The scene of Nellie almost getting himself choked to death in the MRI room.
Dan Goldman again. “Two different preparations.”
The next clip showed the defenders, enjoying dinner together, playing cards. All very relaxed.
Back to 1RR. Sandy entering the recovery suite with Nellie and Abel. Everybody clapping.
Dan Goldman again. “That was just about midnight here. Corporal Afa was still in surgery. The whole 1RR team is here, waiting for news. And then at half past two in the morning, this..”
There it is again. Mr Bolton coming in to deliver the bad news. The boys around Afa as he dies. The paintings. General Dean’s visit.
Dan Goldman again. “And if any of you can watch that and still believe that these people should be shot on sight, may you rot in Hell. You probably think you haven’t seen that young man with the head wound before tonight. He just joined the army here earlier in the week, with his two friends, Nellie and Abel, but if you live in New Ziland you have seen him before. He’s this guy…”
This clip shows Sandy, in his suit, rescuing Abel, and their retreat, with Abel in a towel half running, half being carried between Sandy and Shane.
“He’s the chap our prime minister has labeled a terrorist. And one of his mates is the young man he rescued, Abel, the son of Mr Adam Gooch. Abel who you have just seen deal to the troublesome major. Abel, who got stabbed twice in New Ziland two days ago, is playing today in place of Corporal Afa. It looks as though the prime minister has been pulling pony tails again…The teams will be arriving soon. We will shortly be going down to the locker rooms. The defenders are arriving at the ground now.. But before we go, take a look at this. First, we have the defenders ..”
And the clip is of a team enjoying time together over breakfast.
“And then 1RR”
This is the clip of the team coming out from behind the curtains, and saluting Afa and the flag. You can see the mattresses behind them.
Now, it’s Bushie speaking.
“Well, I’ve seen enough. Those two, Nellie and Abel are good enough for me. I’ve never seen them play, but I’ve got signed contracts here for them. The bad news is that Penrith is not the first choice for either of them. Nellie, he likes the Roosters. Abel is a Souths fan.”
“Abel has never played the game before Bushie. His father wouldn’t let him play in New Ziland. He tells me his son was too rough.”
“That’s good enough for me, Senator. What do you pay the lad? I’ll double it.”
“Oh, well Abel was on a soldier’s pay, with danger money and allowances. But after last night, I’ve made him a citizen. That changes things.”
“How much Senator? What’s he on? I’ll double it.”
“He doesn’t get paid as a citizen. So one dollar a year will do. But Souths have first option.”
“Fair enough. I’ll give them until kick off.”
“Come on Russell. Get on the phone.” That was Tom.
“And what about Nellie? I hope he’s a citizen too.”
“He is. That’ll cost you another dollar.”
“Unless the Chooks take him before kick-off.”
Dan Goldman, again. “While we make our way down to the locker room to greet the defenders, have a look at this footage from our cameras in the locker room.”
There is the sound of a phone ringing. A voice in the background says “It’s for you, Mr Silver.”
“Pay the man a dollar Bushie. Abel is a bunny now. Tom’s opinion is good enough for me.”
“That was quick. What do you think of it so far?”
“I’ll do the movie for free. Just tell them to keep a part open.”
The cameras cut to show the defenders getting off their carts and going into their locker room. General Dean is down there. It looks pretty professional as the players make their way to their seats, and are handed their jerseys by the general.
The camera cuts to Dan Goldman outside the locker room. “The defenders know nothing about last night, and we have agreed to keep the secret.”
“Come on Sandy. Let’s go downstairs. I want to see this.” Sandy followed the Senator. They met the commentators outside the defenders’ locker room.
“Is it OK if we have a look in your team’s shed, Senator?’
“Sure Bushie, go right ahead.”
Tom Bishop went in first. He came out pretty much straight away, tears visible on his cheeks.
“Crikey Senator, that’s pretty powerful.”
There was a muttered oath from the locker room. That was Bushie. The Senator went in, followed by Sandy.
Afa was there. Sitting beneath the number “13”, wearing his jersey. Elbows on knees, chin resting on his knuckles. Hands closed into fists. Dead, but there.
It was Bushie, the super coach, who spoke. “Cripes Senator, you are some man manager.”
Sandy and the Senator went outside. The 1RR team was arriving. They looked pretty flash in their training singlets.
“They’ll warm up out here, and go inside thirty minutes before kick-off to get changed and rubbed down. Keep an eye out for Dave would you? He’ll be coming into the locker room with us. You’ll hand the players their jerseys, Captain.”
The ground had filled up. The Senator said two thousand people could fit in around the field. It seemed pretty full already to Sandy. There was Dave. He jogged up to them.
“Come on you two. We should be inside before the team comes in.”
The locker room was a big space. There were the seats. Behind them was the shower block. Nearer the door was an area with a couple of massage tables. For rub downs before the game, and medical treatment during it. Next to the showers was a large area with some gym equipment on the walls, and a big enough open area to throw a few passes. The commentators and cameras were in there.
Dave teared up when he saw Afa. “Thank you Senator. He was really looking forward to this game.”
“He’s part of the team Dave. O ta’engata pea ta’engata.”
And then the team was filing in. Led by Citizen Sergeant Max, the captain. He started when he saw Afa. Stood in front of him, Struck himself over the heart with his right fist and boomed “o ta’engata pea ta’engata”, parade ground voice, before taking his seat under the number eight on the wall. He was followed by Shane. Every player followed, striking himself over the heart and repeating “O ta’engata pea ta’engata”, before taking his seat. Nellie, and only Nellie, stayed on his feet. Abel was the last to take his seat. When he was seated, Nellie took off his singlet, moved over to be in front of Afa and commenced a war dance, stamping, jumping, pointing. Sandy had never seen him do anything like this before. Abel recognized it, stood up, took his singlet off, and joined Nellie.
When they finished, and took their seats, they were pumped. Everyone was pumped. The Senator moved forward.
“The Sipi Tau, performed by the Tongan rugby team before a game. Men, there is not much for me to say. You know what today is about. It’s not just a game of footie. It’s the greatest day in any of our lives. Dying in your bed many years from now, you will remember today. You will remember how as young men you took this chance, this one chance, to tell our enemies, to tell the world, that they may take our lives but they cannot take our freedom. For we will fight, and continue to fight. And we will win. O ta’engata pea ta’engata."
The reply, from the seventeen seated players was thunderous. “O ta’engata pea ta’engata.”
Ahh what, the Senator stole that speech from Braveheart!
Then it was all Sandy. He went up to Max, and gave him jersey number 8. The front of the jersey had been embroidered with their unit flag. Brilliant. There was Afa, pistol and rifle in hand, o ta’engata pea ta’engata.
Sandy didn’t think Gooch could do it, but there were definitely tears there. He went around the locker room, and when all the jerseys were given out, he followed the Senator out the back door. They collected the television guys and went back upstairs.
Dan Goldman again. “So here we are folks. Set up for an incredible game. And that was an incredible privilege, being in the locker room for the giving out of the jerseys. I’d say those men were prepared to die for the Senator and each other. No doubt about it, but it’s much more than that. However, being realistic the men of 1RR can’t hope to win today, can they? I mean, one of their mates was killed last night in a terrorist attack by the United States. They’ve had hardly any sleep. It’s obviously all pretty emotional. It’s not possible to play eighty minutes of football on top of all that. What do you say, Tom.”
“I don’t know if I could do it. But these guys they are something special. I reckon we might see just how special in the next eighty minutes.”
“And what about you Bushie?”
“I’ve had a bit of luck coaching in my time, and I’ve had some good boys to coach. But the Senator is something special. And so are the boys of 1RR. Regardless of the result today, I’m proud that Australia has taken the side of the reservation, and, I know I’m a little old for it, but give me a uniform and I’ll stay here to defend the reservation against the United States. What about you two, are you in?”
“I’m in.” Tom Bishop.
“It’s only a game of footie Bushie. It’s not worth shooting anyone over. Anyway, here come the teams onto the field.”
1RR kicked off. The defender’s captain, Charles Gooch got to make the first hit up. He charged up-field. Straight towards Shane. They collided on the twenty-meter line.
“What a collision. Two freight trains in a head on smash. And look at this, the first dust up of the game…”
The referee had called “held”, and as the two players stepped back from one another, Shane had patted Charles on the cheek. Charles had responded with a solid punch to Shane’s head.
“If that’s your best punch, you’re in trouble laddie.” The referee was close enough that Shane’s comment was heard by the commentators and the TV audience.
Then players were rushing in. General Dean grabbed the ground microphone.
“Sergeant Charles, stand down. Defenders stop right where you are. If any of you take another step forward, I’ll come down and shoot you myself.”
He had a great voice did General Dean. Order was restored before disorder had a chance to get underway.
The referee waved to the sideline.
“Would you look at that? I’ve never seen anything like it. That collision was so fierce they’ve popped the ball.”
It wasn’t long before 1RR was pinned in their red zone, defending that area between the goal line and the ten meter line. Four sets, twenty-four tackles, two repeat sets from penalties given away.
Of those twenty-four tackles, Abel was involved in half, either as tackler or second man in.
A chant went up around the ground “1RR, all day 1RR, all day.” Dave was behind the goal line waving the unit flag.
Then a defender lost the ball in the tackle. It popped forward and was swooped on by Abel, who ran back behind the line. He yelled something to Nellie and booted the ball over the defenders, over halfway. It bounced and rolled to the twenty meter line, and Nellie was there. He scooped the ball up one handed and ran to dot down between the posts.
Bushie was out of his seat. “Brilliant play, and that boy has never played league before today. Stabbed on Wednesday. Water boy at training last night. Only got his jersey because there was no-one else when the number 13 was shot and killed. I love it. He’s tackled his heart out, and when he got the chance he’s turned the game around. That’s the best dollar Russell will ever spend. And look at the winger, my boy. The Roosters didn’t phone before kick-off. By crikey he’s quick.”
Easy conversion. Six-nil to 1RR. Twenty minutes gone.
Just on half-time they struck again. 1RR was enjoying a rare period on attack, twenty meters out from the try line. Stan got the ball, ran to the line and threw a long pass outside. It went to nobody, bounced, and was heading over the touchline.
Abel was there. He dived, and with most of his body in the air, out of the field of play, he caught the ball and flicked it infield, netball styles. Nellie caught it on the bounce. A Gooch to his right. He steps that way, then left. The Gooch is unbalanced and Nellie slides under his arm to score. Try not converted. Ten-nil at half time.
Bushie is out of his seat again. “Let’s replay that catch and pass. All day. You’ll never see anything better. It’s individual brilliance that’s breaking this arm wrestle, and young Abel is the go-to man for that.”
The second half begins badly for 1RR. Sergeant Harley is knocked out by a late swinging forearm. Not seen by the referee.
The defenders have all four of their Gooch on the field. That’s too much power in the middle. They score. 10-6
They try the same thing again. 1RR holds them out. Then Shane has the ball. He is held up in the tackle. Nellie runs in for the short ball. Shane gives it, and there’s Nellie, two Gooch in front of him. Steps, steps, and runs between them. Only the fullback to beat. Easy. Eighty meter try under the posts. Converted. 16-6.
“He doesn’t need much room that boy. He’ll sleep in the crack under your door. And that step, step you right out of your boxers he will.” Bushie had a way with words, especially when he was excited.
And then it happened. Nellie had come back into the middle to help out on defense. He was second man in the tackle, rolled away to clear the tackle area, and was on his back when one of the defenders ran up, kneed him, and punched him flush in the face. A sickening blow. Nellie lay motionless.
Shane and Max rushed up and stood over Nellie. It looked like being the brawl to end all brawls. Abel went for the guy who had punched Nellie. Knocked him out. Then he was surrounded by defenders. Punching, punching, punching. But Abel was going strong in the middle of it all. On fire.
Sandy got a fright. General Dean had jumped past him. He ran through the plate glass window onto the deck, glass everywhere, pulled out his pistol, and fired off a full magazine, nine shots in the air.
The players stopped, and looked up. The general was furious. “You, Enoka, when you wake up, COME HERE LADDIE! You’re out of this game, and cleaning toilets for the next month. The rest of you, play footie. You’re getting beaten. Harden up.”
An excellent parade ground voice. Easily heard all over the field without any need for a public address system.
“Well, you don’t see that every day in Sydney. An owner smashing his way through the front of his box and pulling a gun on his team.” Dan Goldman.
“What a game. What a great game. But how’s the lad?” Bushie was focused.
Sandy could hear through the referee’s microphone.
“Whaddya mean I’m knocked out. I’m talking to ya aint I? Tell ya what, if I was dreaming it wouldn’t be about you. Just winded that’s all. Get out of my face and I’ll be up.”
Nellie was good to go.
But it seemed like the general’s pep talk had worked. Or maybe the boys were just too tired. Two converted tries to the defenders. 16-18 with one minute to go, and 1RR back defending their goal-line.
“It’s been a brave effort by 1RR, but just a bridge too far after the night they had. What do you think Bushie?”
“She’s an eighty minute game Dan. It’s not over till it’s over.”
1RR was squeezed in their right hand corner. The ball came back to Abel from dummy half. What was he thinking? An overhead pass, a gridiron pass, to the other side of the field. To Nellie. Who caught the ball and was off. Oh yeah, what a try. One hundred meters. Three players racing across. No way they could catch him. But he had the wobbles. Twenty meters from the goal line he fell, rolled, regained his feet, and was over in the corner.
A win, a fantastic win.
It wasn’t until they were back in the locker room that Sandy realized the boys were all still painted. He was painted. The Senator was painted. But the day wasn’t over yet. They still had to bury Afa. He had left the building.
Someone had brought uniforms. There were clean number ones on the hooks beneath the player numbers. And towels. The boys were buggared. Absolutely. Nothing left in the tank. They were chivvied into the ice baths. And then to the showers.
General Dean and Charles came into the room. They went round shaking hands. Charles asked if they could come to the funeral. “Yeah, but you leave that cowardly piece of dog crap Enoka at home, you hear.” It didn’t sound as though Sergeant Max believed that what happened on the field stayed on the field, not always.
The commentators wanted a word with Nellie, four try Nellie, but the Senator said no. “Just listen. That boy talks. You’ll get your sound-bytes.”
They did. Abel came up and asked Nellie how he was doing.
“I’m allgoods man. What was up with that last pass?”
“Why did you throw two balls at me? Lucky I caught one of them.”
“Why did you fall over before the try line?”
“Dunno. Must have been an earthquake or something. Did you feel it where you were?”
They had even brought a new uniform for Sandy. A suit for the Senator.
“I’m on a bit of a tight schedule. I have to meet President Trump at twenty thirty. I will have to leave straight from the funeral. You better get that dressing changed.”
Sandy didn’t think he needed to do that. Took the bandage off when he had a shower, and left it in a rubbish bin.
The trip back to the house was quiet. Afa was going to be buried in the front yard, with the four sentries. No cameras. Sandy didn’t mind if the commentators attended.
Four coffins, and Afa wrapped in a white sheet. With a 1RR flag folded on his chest. The Last Post playing as he was lowered into the ground.
Sandy wanted the war to start. It was time for an extinction event, an Alpha extinction event.