Entry 36 – Mercs, Bars and Tanks
When you want to do business in North Africa without getting entangled in unnecessary paperwork and you’re not a billionaire, there’s no better place than Algeria. Sure, there’s Dubai and all that, but that’s for big corporations important enough for the authorities to turn a blind eye to their shenanigans.
Algiers is different. A cosmopolitan city by any standard and a safe port to boot but, at the same time, there’s this untamed, free vibe to it mercs love so much. In other words – if you are planning to open the newest branch of your boutique brand anywhere between Cairo and Nouakchott, you go to Dubai. If you want to hire a couple of mercs to guard your in-the-middle-of-nowhere illegal bio-lab, you go to a seedy bar in Algiers.
That’s where we found ourselves in shortly after out ship landed. With the crew busy taking inventory of our supplies, the Perihelion troops scattered in groups (usually led by someone who’d been to the Barbary Coast at least once) to find the nearest bar, a strip joint, a shisha bar... anything to take off the edge. I couldn’t blame them. Fortunately for us, a lot of the veterans we employed had exactly the right kind of experience as the U.S. military maintains a strong presence in the country, keeping a close eye on its developed oil processing industry. Just because half of Europe ostensibly gave up on oil doesn’t mean the rest of the world did – and certainly not the good old U.S. of A. Sometimes it feels like oil runs in our blood.
Espinoza and I found a little joint off the main area the mercs typically hang out in. A little quiet was just what the doctor ordered after the crazy couple of days and the first couple of drinks went down real fast. We weren’t about to drink ourselves under the table, no sir – only just enough to be able to get back to the ship in once piece and on time. How do you do that, you might ask? There’s a simple trick to it – you tell the bartender you want to do just that along with a tip big enough to dissuade him from keeping us drinking the whole night. Bartender code and all that.
In the end, the whiskey loosened our tanks and we talked about all sorts of things, most of which I can’t really recall that much and Espinoza... Gail, she won’t either I assume, watching her sleep next to me as I write these lines. She snores worse than I do, seriously. Not something I’d usually write into a diary but, after all, what is life but a series of fleeting moments, single frames of the movie that is your existence? Each passes faster than you can blink.
It is early morning and a memo just landed on my tablet. Apparently, Ferguson’s coming personally to oversee the operations, having already negotiated a partial help from the Algerian military. That woman never ceases to amaze me and the same goes for our budget and influence. They say everything’s for sale in this part of the world if the price is right but hiring a company of Algerian troops to escort us to the borders doesn’t exactly cost pocket change.
Now, that’s our problem, isn’t it – we have to somehow travel three thousand miles south-east while crossing some the least stable regions on the planet. And that’s just the beginning. Before us, Sahara – the greatest of all deserts and an unforgiving wilderness where few dare to tread. I have absolutely no idea how we’re going to make it and whether this is all worth it or it’s going to be one big wild goose chase. Time will tell.