But the fearless team soon comes face to face with the perils of a nation in conflict with each other. Caught in the crossfire of a country plunged into a historically charged political war, keeping their wits about them and allegiance to their mission are the only things keeping them from being killed.
And lurking in the shadows, a narcissistic billionaire with a sinister desire to feed his ego will stop at nothing to steal the fossil. Seeking more than mere power and acclaim, his motives drive him to stop at nothing to get his hands on the relic before anyone else does.
Will Alex and Sam successfully complete their mission and escape South Africa unscathed, or will this be their first mission to leave more harm than good in its wake?
February 11th, 1990 - Victor Verster Prison, South Africa
Johan Theron gripped his young son’s hand as the crowd on the opposite side of the road threatened to push through the barricades and police officials. They were among the thousands of people that had gathered along the hip-high metal fences surrounding the prison - whites on the left, blacks on the right. Johan smiled lovingly at his wife and kissed the back of her hand. They've never been out together in public, and for the first time since they were married, he saw a future for the three of them. It was the happiest day of his life; one that held no boundaries.
“Thandi, my love, this is it. We don’t have to hide anymore. This is the day we’ve been praying for. Tomorrow I’m taking you to that fancy restaurant on Adderley Street, and I’m going to buy you the nicest dress from the boutique down the road; and that’s only the beginning. We’ll go to the drive-in theatre in one car and watch that new Bond movie you’ve been talking about. Just like we dreamed about. And our little boy over here, will go to the best private schools, and he’ll be allowed at any of the country’s top universities; just like everyone else in this country.”
Thandi smiled back at her husband of eight years. Hope filled her eyes as she listened to her husband’s dreams about their future. Their marriage hadn’t been easy. Living amongst a nation where black and white people were separated from each other by law proved harder than they initially thought it would be. Their marriage was known only to her family who saw no distinction between them. They had been in hiding on the farm since the day they met and fell in love. Johan was the son of a white cattle farmer, and Thandi, the daughter of one of his father’s black workers on their family farm. And their young son, neither white nor black. Apartheid laws prevented them from being seen together, much less being married. And, if caught, would have them killed. But not anymore. This day marked the end of Apartheid in South Africa. Where no law nor man will have the right to discriminate against any race. Where blacks and whites could buy from the same shops and sit on the same busses together, and where Johan Theron, a white farmer could freely hold his black wife’s hand in public.
The crowd cheered louder as the massive prison gates opened and the police officials ushered Nelson Mandela to freedom.
Johan protectively scooped his four-year-old son up into his arms as the crowds forced their way to the front to get a better view of the man that will set the nation free.
He watched his fellow white nationals looking on in somber silence. They knew this day would change their lives forever. The white people of South Africa had relinquished their reign to a black government that harbored decades of hatred and oppression against them. The tides had turned and once rulers of a predominantly white country will now be no more. Johan searched his heart. Covered under a blanket of guilt over being party to it all, he was torn between his white heritage and own hopes for a new future with his black wife and colored child. Until now he had been stuck between two opposite worlds that will today become one.
His inner convictions were interrupted as a multitude of triumphant black citizens broke out into loud applause and proudly waved their homemade banners above their heads. Clicking their tongues in tribal chime, they saluted Mandela as he slowly made his way down the long driveway toward the cheering crowd of supporters. The Theron family and the rest of the world watched as Nelson Mandela walked out of prison a free man.
A young television news reporter and his cameraman moved closer to the crowd against the barrier in front of Johan. His voice was filled with uncertainty masked by words of pride and feigned excitement.
“And there he is South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela. Freed after twenty-seven years in prison and now a beacon of hope to a new nation. It is a historic day for our country as this man holds the hope of the nation on his shoulders; a new nation. No longer separated by the color of our skin, but united as one nation. As he walks toward us, excited supporters of the African National Congress welcome their new leader taking his first steps into a new South Africa. And the unspoken question on everyone’s lips remains. What will this mean to the white South African?”
“VIVA MANDELA! AMANDLA!” An excited crowd shouted as Mandela got into his chauffeured vehicle and drove off along the crowded street. Masses of supporters pushed each other out of the way fighting for a chance to touch his car. Struggling to control the hordes, police officials moved their shields into their trained formation in an attempt to push a large number of overly enthusiastic supporters away from the car. On the far end, a large group of white protestors shouted in anger as they expressed their disagreement with Mandela’s release.
Subdued sniffing had Johan turn around to see a proud Afrikaans man behind him. He was older, in his late fifties perhaps and dressed in traditional farmer attire — khaki shorts, button-up short-sleeve khaki jacket and a matching khaki hat. The white-bearded man wiped his eyes.
“What are you looking at, traitor?” the man spat at Johan, who turned back around and ignored him. Johan gripped Thandi’s hand and held onto his son.
“Hey! I said. What are you staring at, you traitor? You, with your black slave-wife and bastard son! You’re a disgrace to this country! What? Do you think you are better than us now that you can take your black slave into our streets?”
Johan clenched his jaw as he fought the urge to defend his wife and son’s honor. His body grew tense under the man’s insults. He sensed things were about to get ugly. His eyes frantically searched for a way out through the masses of people flanking both sides of him.
“So now you’re a coward too? Fight back like a man. Or have you forgotten you’re white?”
The farmer’s words precipitated his friends huddling closer together, preventing Johan and his family from moving in either direction to escape his wrath. They were trapped between an angry group of white farmers and the barricade. Johan felt his pulse quicken as he pulled his son closer to his chest and whispered in his ear. “If something happens you run to that policeman there and you ask him to take you to Gôgo on the farm, ok?” Knowing his son was tiny enough to slip through the metal bars he pointed to a colored official about twenty yards ahead on the other side of the bulwark.
The reporter who had his back toward them, turned around as he became aware of the commotion that was playing out in the crowd behind him. With the camera pointed at his face, a now frightened Johan stared directly into the lens. He knew full well the danger that threatened their mixed-race family. But with no way out, Johan pinned his faith on the camera lens in the hope that it might intimidate the angry white man behind him. He was wrong. Seconds later he felt the sharp edge of a knife in his right shoulder and stumbled forward against the iron roadblock. His son fell forward onto the reporter who caught him just in time before a second stabbing sliced into Johan’s bicep. From the corner of his eye, he noticed police officials charging toward them.
“You’ll never be white, you black whore!” someone yelled behind him just before he heard Thandi’s shrill scream as she dropped to her knees.
“Thandi!” Johan screamed and stooped down to help her up.
Warm liquid instantly drenched his hand under the stab wound in his wife’s ribcage. Rubber bullets flew over his head onto the attackers behind them as the police stepped in to break up the assault. Concerned only for his wife he ignored his own injuries and pulled Thandi to her feet, lifting her over the metal barricade. He had to get his wife and son to safety. He let go of Thandi for a moment to take his son from the reporter’s arms when a gunshot echoed through the air and hit his wife in her neck. Thandi Theron slumped onto the tarmac beside him. He watched in shock and horror as life drained from his beloved wife’s brown eyes. She was barely breathing. Blood gushed from her neck.
“Help! Somebody, help!” he screamed while the police charged into the crowd to detain the shooter.
He knelt down and stared at the open bullet wound in Thandi’s neck. The pressure from his large hand on the wound provided little resistance as blood pumped through his shaking fingers out onto the ground. The terrifying sobs of his young son crying in fear beside him sent chills through his body.
“Hold on Thandi, hold on! I’m going to get you to a doctor. Don’t you dare die on me today! Do you hear me? Not today! Today is our day of freedom. Don’t you die on me, Thandi!”
Johan scooped his wife up in his arms and, with his son clinging to his leg, ran toward the prison gates. Chaos ensued as the events set off a motion of protests between black and white citizens. But Johan’s tense gaze looked straight ahead at the prison gates in front of him. Determined it was the only place he might find medical assistance he pushed through his physical pain and rushed toward the entrance. Wedged between the police and the protestors, Johan ducked as rubber bullets flew over his head.
“Sir, this way!” The reporter shouted, pulling both Johan and his son into the safety of their news van. With the help of the reporter and his cameraman, they lay Thandi on the floor inside the van. A soft groan escaped her blood-filled mouth.
“Shh, try not to speak. We’re going to get you to a hospital. Just hold on, ok?”
But Johan’s pleas and his young son’s cries weren’t enough to prevent the inevitable and Thandi Theron drew her last breath.
* * *
As Johan Theron poured the last spade-full of sand over Thandi’s casket, a fresh tear rolled down his cheek. He sat down on the loose soil next to his son and pulled him into his arms. The sun hung low on the horizon of his farm in the North-West province of South Africa, and for the first time, he had no hope. Encircled by the whimpers of her friends and family, and the soft singing of a tribal hymn, as the sun’s last rays hit his face, Johan Theron’s soul died.
“It will be ok, Pa. I’ll look after you” his young son’s words of childlike strength chimed in his ears. “You can sleep with me in my bed ,and I’ll let you hold Mr. Teddy.”
Johan looked into his son’s eyes and saw the innocence of an evil world yet unknown to him. He had no idea of the political significance of his mother’s death. Perhaps it was best that way. Best that he never knew she got killed because she wasn’t white. And while his heart ached for the life they dreamed of, he had to protect his son from the same ridiculed fate. Resolved to shave his son’s curly ash brown hair, and rub lemon juice on his skin to make it paler, Johan silently vowed to never let the world find out the truth. He would raise him as a white man and no one would ever know he was the son of a white man and a black woman.