Binky and the Staring Skulls of sakati
at Dawn the crocodiles feasted
Just before dawn the rocky outcrops that marked where the river left the lake could be made out ahead of them against the sky. Piet's navigation had been spot on and they were exactly where they should be. The natives looked on in wonder at the big whiteman who had led them here using a tame demon that he kept in a small cage - he called the demon Zeqstant. This amused Piet as he put his sextant away.
Binky and Adrian peered ahead into gloom. The way ahead looked clear and quiet. Too quiet. Surely there should be fishermen in canoes? Binky ordered the alert and the Askaris readied the Nordenfeldts checked their rifles and ammunition pouches. The Princess and her party changed into their war gear. This caused a bit of consternation amongst the white man as it appeared that they fought almost naked!
Suddenly from the islands volleys of arrows rained upon the canoes. The first volley caused casualties, including Bibi, Hayder's gun bearer, who fell to the bottom of the canoe pierced by an arrow.
The rifle fire reduced the number of arrows but as they sailed on more and more groups of concealed natives opened up with volleys of arrows from islands, mud banks and other positions.
Casualties mounted on both sides but the tribesmen got the worst of it as the machine guns came into action.
Suddenly a shout from the front canoe alerted everyone to the boom of logs across the river. And at that moment from the shadows of a cove a great shape emerged. Huge eyes stared out at the canoes causing terror amongst the natives.
Flanked by war canoes the great war barge of the chief sailed out to the attack. Binky's force was in dire trouble. Arrows rained down from the cliff tops, from ambush positions and from the canoes. Binky's canoe looked more like a porcupine than a boat!
The tribes men paddled furiously to ram the canoes. But Ramsden swung the Norden feldt round and so did Adrian. Into the point blank crossfire they sailed. The bullets smashing the woodwork and turning the whole vessel into a slaughterhouse. As the rowers died the war barge came to a halt. There were few survivors. of that hectic gun battle.
With their chief dead the tribesmen melted away as if the darkness swallowed them. The way was clear once the boom was cut away. But the cost had been heavy on both sides and the crocodiles fed well. In the action Binky received another light flesh wound, Bibi was wounded severely in both legs, two others wounded and three killed.
Modeller's notes: THE WAR BARGE is made from two of the canoes with a central deck added. A bit like a catamaran.
The construction is kept simple. The floors of the canoes and the central raised decking are made from the heavy card used by picture framers to mount watercolours. I get this free from the chap who frames my paintings.
Once each part is constructed check the fit and make a sort of jig to hold them in place while the glue sets. The details are cocktail sticks/tooth picks. The decking was scored to look like rough planking though this does not show up too well in the photo.
I then painted it to look like a great water dragon. I kept the paintwork fairly rough looking (deliberately) and limited the colours to ochre, green, black, red and white. These are colours that I have seen used in many African tribal patterns and paintings so I thought it best to use them.
If I was making it now I'd have painted some bits of the central section before final assembly and maybe added a few more details.
I did not adorn it with skulls and other stuff because I was trying to make it look like a monster. It is possible to mount a Foundry small cannon in the bow so that I might use it with my Arab slavers to terrify the locals!
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