a chase in the sahara

Order was not restored until the reserve troops arrived with Grosvenor. In the confusion, Durant had escaped. The Sufi were nowhere to be found. Adrian approached Grosvenor, “We underestimated them!” Grosvenor looked self-satisfied. “So, you admit your incompetence in leadership? I have a plan to reclaim the motor-cycle. I’ll consider telling it to you. That is, if you have been humbled since your little outburst at our first meeting.”

Adrian clenched his fists. “Men died under my command. It is true. And that’s why I will not let their sacrifice be in vain, and we will bring Durant to justice. I admit whatever you want. Now! Tell me about this plan!” Grosvenor smirked. “My agents have tracked Lucien Durant to a small galley heading for the mainland. One of them managed to stow away on board. Upon landing, the agent will fire a flare. A steamboat containing mounted Foreign Legion soldiers will lie in wait, and capture Durant and the motor-cycle there.”

With that, it was full steam ahead, mainland. Waited in tense anticipation on horseback, watching for the flare that would signal the beginning of the operation. Just like clockwork. Flare appeared at the precise time as planned. Our ship put on steam towards the mark. The gangplanks were lowered on shore and the marines disembarked. Durant and his lackeys had entered a gated villa along the coast and sealed the entrance. Adrian approached on horseback the gates and challenged, “Durant, there is no escape. There are no civilians to interfere. You’re surrounded. Give yourself up!” A strange laughter came from behind the gates. Hired guns began firing on the Foreign Legion forces, who returned in kind. A rumbling sound ignited in the background. In the midst of the skirmish, a soldier yelled,

“There it is!”

Durant rocketed out of a side exit of the villa on the motor-cycle. It howled and sputtered like a wild animal. He was a black shade on the gleaming magenta machine that blasted off towards the desert. A vast cloud of sand blasted behind it. The Foreign Legion fired a volley of hot lead that was swallowed up by the sandstorm. The horses trembled in fear. Some fled, dismounting their riders. Adrian immediately commanded, “After him!” Adrian, the troops and I took off in pursuit of Durant.  Grosvenor cowardly returned to the steamboat. Durant led us into the Sahara, holding a steady distance, just out of range. Adrian pushed the abilities of the horses and their riders to the limit. Still, he was unable to close the distance whatsoever. The chase and the day wore on in the hot desolate sunlight.

By sunset, it was clear that the chase was futile. Adrian gave in to the reality of the situation. The horses were exhausted. Even if they could catch Durant, they would perish in the desert on the return journey. Adrian was forced to stop for the night, moody about the ignominious return to Saint-Louis. As we set up camp, I glimpsed Durant riding through the Sahara. Setting sun reflected off his motor-cycle in rare brilliant flashes of pink that made their way through the billows of sand and dust. That cloud slowly disappeared into the dusky horizon.


a chase in the sahara

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