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The last rays of sunlight paint the Armoured Personnel Carrier with soft tones of pink, blue and green: the green darkening by the second to eventually become olive drab. The rear-mounted 7.62mm machine gun swivels to the left and then to right, as its automatic infra-red target-acquisition system scans the desert. The hills, on either side of the Jezreel Valley, cast long shadows upon the valley floor and the shadows inch towards the two crew-members, engaged about a Primus stove. The soft, orange glow of the flame making a small circle of light, upon the rock-strewn desert. To the front of the multi-antennaed, multi-domed vehicle, the commander, equipped with a light-enhancing apparatus strapped to his kevlar helmet, scans the desert in the direction of Mount Carmel. His Famas' automatic rifle lies close-by.
A voice comes from the outside speaker: the clarity, in tone, a tribute to modern acoustics. "Tiberias Delta-Echo. Tiberias Delta-Echo. Come in recon Mike-Alpha-Romeo."
At Tiberias HQ, a man places a pin in the map of Galilee, at the approximate position of the APC. A slight breeze comes off the Sea of Galilee and wafts against the brown-paper window-shade causing a slight rattle against the wooden frame. It becomes more pronounced as the wind increases, then, as it diminishes, fades to a pitter - pitter' sound, as though attempting to convey meaning. The wind blows against the nape of his neck, catches in the front of the crisp khaki shirt, then circulates down his trouser-leg. It tingles his sunburnt thigh and gives relief from the slight burning: caused by too much sun, while lying on the beach. Strangely, at the same time, there is a faint feeling of nausea.
Sliding the keyboard from under the CPU, situated to his left, he logs onto Jerusalem, inserts his unit I.D into the box on the screen, and pulls forward a swivel-chair with his foot. He proceeds to place his long body into a more comfortable position, hums impatiently then mutters.
"Probably going through the security procedure right now,"
He cups a hand under his chin, the other rests close to the keyboard, clicking uselessly at an unmoving screen. A large wall-clock, mounted upon a pink wall, ticked sonorously. There is a sudden, static hiss and a voice rings out in loud tones.
"Haifa-One. Haifa-One for Tibrias Delta-Echo, come in please."
A scowl crosses his swarthy features, the hooked nose and hawk-like eyes upon a diamond face, clipped at the top and the bottom, moving sideways in synch with the moving chair, as it slides toward the radio receiver. Quickly he places the headphones over shiny, black, wavy hair as, at the same time, he flips a switch. The room returns to silence, broken by the scribbling upon the scratch pad.
"Tiberias Alpha-Delta-Romeo en route,"
He glances at the scratch pad.
"Montreal, Kerack piquet, over, out."
The Marder crew pack up the cooking gear, deposit it in a compartment above the tracks, then climb aboard the hull of the vehicle. Overhead the pitch-black, star-pricked sky absorbs the surrounding desert making both it and firmament one. A clank, and then another, as the centre-front and left-front hatches open. Driver and gunner gingerly ease themselves into the soft blue light of the interior of their separate compartments, with an easy, fluid movement, born of long familiarity. There is an accompanying clang from the rear, as the commander closes his hatch, and then a faint whine and a bark. A spitting of carbon smoke from the rear exhaust momentarily lights the desert under the rear tracks. The tracks scrape, as they seek traction, and then there is a jump forward which forces the crew backwards, into the plush, foam-cushion backrests. The hatchways clank closed in unison and clink as the retaining clips catch onto the locking mechanism. The 7.62 mm machine gun, resting upon its pedestal, sways slightly as the machine moves and then assumes a fixed, rigid position, facing into the trailing dust.
In a military installation in Haifa, to the West, a bored conscript gazes out onto the Mediterranean. Peeking over the blue tips of Mount Carmel, a silver moon lights a flat sea, leaving a silver trail upon the salty-smelling water. An airman experiences a feeling of emptiness, as somewhere down below, a ticker-tape rattles, a door opens and then, with a bang, closes. The night-shift is arrayed in straight rows behind desks and terminals, their blue uniforms accentuating the khaki-attired figure who walks briskly between the desks.
"Hello!" he mumbles. "Maybe we are in for some excitement after all!"
The door flies open to outline a khaki-clad figure against the green corridor; the harsh overhead neon-light causes the shiny hat-peak to cast a shadow across a round cherubic face. The man confers with the duty officer, who in turn nods his head in a grave fashion, the pudgy, balding figure looking straight at him as they confer. The man exits with a flourish, jamming his hat into a military angle. He uses both hands to do so.
Lieutenant Weitzman approaches him, a slip of paper in-hand, eyes fixed intently upon his. Through the window, a light beams down onto the green, shrub-dotted landscape, and moves in the direction of the Jezreel Valley. The possibilities race through his mind: An attack from Syria: A parachute-landing on Gaza City: An armoured offensive coming from Egypt. The duty officer chuckles as he is handed the slip of paper.
"Here, it's from one of your buddies. Don't tie up military channels next time. OK!"
He reads: Hi Arri, Moose here, nothing much is happening here, I'm bored, maybe we could trade places, you put in for a posting here in Tiberias, I'll put in for one at your place in Haifa.'