Thilo

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 11

We weren't up and about early enough to see Hans-Peter off, but he'd left a note to Dad expressing his gratitude for having Thilo to visit and for the previous evening.

He had also taken the opportunity to personally thank Helen, lavishing praise at her feet for having provided one of the finest meals he could remember eating.

We make sure that she understands just high up in the ranks of 'Awesome' she is, but to have that personally spoken by a guest is something that she thought very special.

We took another tour of the yards, thanking everyone was saw; even Jeff had something to say.

"You buggers take care of each other, d'you hear me?"

We went back to the house and finished packing then took a break for coffee before Moses arrived and a farewell to my parents.

The journey was a quiet one. Even Moses seemed deep in thought, but then he saw signs to that transport café and pulled over.

"I need coffee, and also, I need to talk with you guys. This won't take long, but better here than once you're back at school."


"When we get back to the car, I'll be providing you each with some personal protection, a hand gun with enough ammunition to start a minor rebellion.

This was suggested by my boss and sanctioned by your father, Stephen. More than that, I'll be giving you documentation from your Home Office together with licences for both of you that allow you to carry them, - not openly, but otherwise accessible.

Reason?

Someone, somewhere is very angry.

I have no idea why; I wish I did, but it would appear we're not out of the woods just yet, so stay vigilant; we will do all we can to keep you safe, but the first line of defence has to be you guys.

Any questions so far?"

"Not so much a question, more of a statement.

This goes beyond scary? This is fucking unreal!"

"Settle down Stephen. Your RSM is going to train you in their use; hone your skills to the point where you'll never want to see a firearm ever again.

Make no mistake. RSM Collins is one of the finest soldiers of his generation, so listen to what he has to say, follow his instructions, and you'll be so well equipped to defend yourselves and those around you, you'll wonder why you need police armed response squads in the first place.

Now, let's get going, shall we?"

"No. Let's not get going! I need answers!"

"Like?"

"Like, does the school, - RSM Collins aside, know about this?

If we agree to having them, they'd have to be kept in the armoury; I mean, no way would they sanction us keeping them in our room, so then what possible use could they be?

Then…… even if they did? Fine carrying them during the cold weather, we wear thick tweed jackets, but come the summer, - Cumbia or not, it can get very warm and shirt sleeves are the order of the day, so forget trying to conceal them?

This is nuts!!"

"At first glance, I must admit it seems like a crazy idea, but do you honestly believe that The Home Office would sanction this, then licence the pair of you; one of whom isn't even a UK citizen, if they weren't 100% convinced?

I think not.

As for the school?

Yes of course they're fully up to speed.

Gun safes are being installed in your rooms, but yes, the dress code did flag up some problems, - all overcome though. More about that will be explained by your RSM"

"Still off the scale of FUCKING MANIACAL!

This has to be one of the biggest pisstakes in a generation!"

"Okay. Let me put it this way.

Could you sleep at night having been witness to Thilo being butchered in the most horrific manner that only those savages could dream up, but knowing that if you had a weapon under your arm you could've saved his life?

It is possible, - just possible, that someone will come back. Someone more professional, someone better able to get to you.

You have to be prepared Stephen, we will do all we can, but in school?

It has to be your call I'm afraid."

I turned to Thilo. Tears rolling down my face.

"Put it like that? I'm sold."

"And you Thilo? Will you feel comfortable keeping one with you?"

"I was well used to doing so at home, but here in England? I don't suppose there are many options open to us."

"None if you want to stay safe, but with this comes a problem.

RSM Collins will call a meeting of everyone in your year group to explain to them that you're armed. No other students need to know, but with the amount of time you spend with your fellows, both studying and relaxing together, they will no doubt notice that you're carrying, and the reasons behind it must be made clear.

Unfortunately, you will have to tell them what happened in Namibia, and also what occurred during your holiday.

It might upset you, but can you do it?"

"Yes, I guess so."

"Good.

Now, your RSM will be drilling you in their use to the point where those weapons become like an extension of yourselves. Stripping them down, cleaning them and reassembling them blindfold until they become a part of you, your friend and ally.

We'll stop off at one of our quarries where I'll show you how to wear a shoulder holster, and for the summer, a leg holster.

If you have to play sports or go running, you must wear sweat pants and or tops to conceal everything. Remember, those weapons must be carried at all times, and when you go to bed, put them under your pillow or someplace where you can get to them easily. Get into a routine. The same place every night until you don't even have to think about it.

Questions?"

"I have one Moses?"

"Fire away Stephen."

"What guns are they?"

"Beretta 92FS Semi-automatic 9mm pistols. I'll be handing them out once we get to the quarry and out of the way of the public.

If that's everything, we ought to get going."


"Feel comfortable Stephen?"

"Bulky but okay."

"You'll be surprised just how fast you'll get used to it.

Okay then. Now for the hardware.

Like I told you earlier. These are Beretta 9mm semi-automatic hand guns. Magazine capacity, twenty rounds. Constructed from Inox stainless steel throughout, apart from the chamber and the barrel lining which is much the same, but with a very high chromium content.

The handgrip is made from Bakelite, meaning the only thing that's likely to corrode them is salt, so if they come into contact with, say, a saline fluid, clean them thoroughly at the first opportunity."

"They're heavy."

"Yep, and even more so once there's twenty rounds inside the grip. However, the advantage of the increased weight means there's minimal kick. My Glock is much lighter, and unless you're experienced, horribly inaccurate as it kicks like a donkey.

Now for the ammunition.

Three clips with red markings to indicate that they contain live rounds, but this one with blue markings is loaded with blanks so you can practice without needless wastage.

You load the clips like this, then by pulling back the slide, and then allowing it to go forward, you've put a round into the chamber.

I would urge you to keep your guns in this state of readiness at all times. Split seconds count. You don't want to be hanging around priming the chamber if you're in danger, just safety off and fire.

Let me see you do it using the blank clip."

Not difficult. The guns were brand new and the action, smooth.

"Right.

Now when you go to clean them, remember to eject the round from the chamber. Most accidents are due to bad practice, so again, this must be an automatic reaction. Clear the chamber, and remove the clip before proceeding.

Let me see you do it Stephen."

Somehow, I found it hard to get a handle on the fact that these weren't toys, but killing machines.

I went through the procedures as if I'd been doing it all my life, but then Moses told us to load live clips, and holster our weapons.

It was time to get back to school.


Pinned to our common room door was a notice.

'Following supper, all sixth form students must assemble in this room where a meeting will be held.

Attending this meeting will be the Head Master, Mr Amos and RSM Collins. All students will attend. No excuses, no special dispensations.'

Short and to the point.


"Good evening gentlemen. I trust you all had an enjoyable break, and I apologise for disrupting your first evening back.

Mr Forester? Might I suggest that you open the bar? I'll have an Irish Whiskey if I may?"

"Certainly, Head Master. Mr Amos? Mr Collins? What can I get for you?"

Mr Amos asked for a Scotch, Mr Collins a beer, and once we had all placed our requests, Mr King called the meeting to order .

"Unfortunately, circumstances have dictated that two of your number have been issued with personal firearms which they will be expected to carry at all times.

The why's and wherefores are not up for discussion at this juncture; I'll have to leave that to those individuals to explain later, but Mr Broadhurst and Mr Roker have been licenced by the Home Office, and will be thoroughly trained in the use of semi-automatic hand guns."

He turned to Thilo and me.

"Might I suggest that you show your fellow students what you're carrying?"

We reached inside our jackets, removed the guns from our holsters and placed them on the table.

Sharp intakes of breath, together with comment such as 'Jesus H Christ!' and 'Shit!' echoed round the room.

"Now, please tell everyone what they are."

Thilo nodded at me, effectively nominating me as the spokesman.

"Beretta Inox 92FS Semi-automatic 9mm pistols.

Weight, 950 grams or 34 ounces.

Length overall, 217 millimetres or 8.5 inches.

Barrel length, 125 millimetres or 4.9 inches.

Muzzle velocity, 381 metres per second, or 1,250 feet per second.

Feeder mechanism, detachable box magazine obtainable in various capacities however, these guns carry 20 rounds which are mounted inside the hand grip."

RSM Collins pointed at them, then asked if he could take a look.

"Very nice. Heavy, but they feel good."

Mr King obviously didn't agree!

"There's nothing nice about hand guns Mr Collins, and more especially as two of our students have to carry them!

But enough of that.

I have to stress that, under no circumstances are you to mention anything about this outside of this room, just between yourselves. What I don't want is for the entire school talking about this. Do I make myself clear?

Mr Collins will be drilling Messrs Broadhurst and Roker in their use, is that correct Mr Collins?"

"Yes, Head Master. To the point where they'll wish they'd never set eyes on them.

Might I suggest that you make safe one of them, then pass it around so everyone knows what you're handling?"

I ejected the round from the chamber, withdrew the magazine and placed them on the table, then handed the gun back to Mr Collins.

"The gun is safe Sir, but please check it."

Check he did, then made a suggestion.

"Until you're well up to speed, I think it might be a wise idea to check each other's weapons once you've made them safe, like before cleaning them?"

"We've already decided to do that Sir."

"Very good.

Now, what Mr King has proposed, is that the pair of you together with myself take breakfast at 7.30am. You are excused attending chapel, so that gives us a couple of hours each day on the firing range and in the classroom, okay?"

"Yes Sir."

"Further to that, until you're as proficient as you can possibly be, you are not, I repeat NOT to go using any other guns but these.

By the time I've finished with you, you'll know these things backwards, forwards and inside out. Clear?"

"Yes Sir. Totally clear."

"Good.

Sorry you have to forego chapel?"

Mr King grunted.

"Card carrying atheist, and now a gun carrying, card carrying atheist. It won't come as any hardship."

"I'd much prefer being called a gun carrying, card carrying agnostic Sir."

"Whatever Stephen. Whatever.

Thank you all for the drinks. We'll leave you so you can get a better understanding of just why our government have seen fit to arm two schoolboys."


After they left, Nigel handed my gun back where I reloaded it, and pulled back the slide putting a round into the chamber, then checking the safety was on, I re-holstered it, as did Thilo his.

James stood up and helped himself to another stiff gin, then turned to us.

"Explanation time?

Why the fucking-hell are you allowed to carry what, for just about everyone else in the country are illegal firearms?"

"That's a question I'll leave for Thilo to answer, then, with a bit of input from me, you'll get the picture.

Thilo?"

He walked them through everything from his family's background, to the first skirmish, to the raid on their main complex and right up to include how he ended up at Keswick Priory, hospitalisation and the start of the Easter break.

I took over at this point.

"Everyone thought he was away from danger, but then when we were back at my place over Easter, they came again. They attacked our head stockman, stole a quadbike and followed us over the fields to where we were erecting fencing.

Our bull had one of these blokes, but the other kept on coming. Fortunately, we had rifles with us as Dad had seen mink in that area.

A lucky shot took out this guy's machete, broke his wrist and dislocated his shoulder.

We are where we are, but who it was that managed to convince the Home Office to allow the carrying of concealed weapons, we don't know, but Thilo's uncle visited us, so perhaps something was discussed once we'd left the room.

Thinking about it now, this bears all the hallmarks of my dear father."

James looked as if he was on the verge of tears.

"I'm so sorry Thilo. No one said so much as a word about what happened to you, but needless to say, no one in this room will say anything.

We're here if you need anything. You only have to ask."

There was a general muttering of agreement, then Nigel made a suggestion.

"Why don't all of us take an early breakfast and show some solidarity?

We could maybe even join these guys for some shooting practice. God knows I need it?

We can't skip chapel, but we could put in an hour, so if something does happen and we managed to get as far as the armoury, we could at least make a lot of noise?"

James went for a show of hands.

No defaulters. So, with that, together with the prospect of an early start, the bar was closed and everyone headed for their beds.


"Well-well-well! What do we have here!"

"Solidarity amongst friends Sir. It isn't right that Steve and Thilo have to take all the heat, so here we are."

"Very commendable. I wish I could get you off going to chapel, but you know well enough what Mr King's attitude would be.

Let's get some breakfast inside us. We can discuss how we do things as we eat."


"What I thought might work, is for you blokes to pair off, one respectable gun with one crap one. So, if you Martyn, who's rather good, pair off with Nigel who's…… sorry Nigel, but you're rubbish, and so on down the line. Sort it out yourselves, but as you're not under supervision, safety first please people.

Keep, number and sign your results. It'll be very interesting to see how this way of working pans out.

One last point before you begin? You're all of you A level students, meaning you have lots of free periods, so there's no need to clean your weapons immediately after every session, but find time to get it done as soon as you're able.

Now let's go!"


We were worked hard. Not only time spent learning the art of small weapons, but cleaning them was another thing we had to perfect.

We began by stripping them down under lights, - a set order for each individual component on the table, then cotton buds and rods, gun oil and finally the reassembly.

Then Mr Collins would dim the lights which made it harder to see what we were doing, then finally we were having to do it under blackout conditions.

Next, we had a stopwatch put on us.

Our timing…… well, mine at any rate, was slow, but practice, practice and yet more practice had us down to times that elite commandos had to meet.

"What can I say lads! Bloody well done! Keep that up and we can concentrate on firing the damn things."

Static targets, then as we progressed, slow moving, through medium-paced through to pissing quick!

I watched Thilo who, by the way, was far better than I'll ever be, turn from the range to reload a fresh clip, and just as he pulled back the slide, Mr Collins yelled at him.

"Mr Roker! Target fast from your left!"

Thilo whipped around, dropped down on to one knee, saw this bag of straw on a wire hurting towards him from the left, and CRACK-CRACK. Neck and right between where its eyes should've been. It disintegrated in a shower of hessian and dust onto the floor.

Thilo took a deep breath and stood up as Mr Collins walked over to where we were standing.

"Mr Collins? Don't you ever fuck with me again!"

"Hey! That was fun?

Not only are you very good, I think you're better than me, and I'm not just good, I'm fucking world class!

I think it would be fun if the three of us had a friendly competition. Me with that Glock, and you guys with your Beretta's.

Up for the challenge?

Winner gets to buy the drinks afterwards!"

"Game ON sir!"

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