48 On The Water
Rickie called Raine and swiftly explained the situation both in France and Malaysia to her as he hustled to his Rexton and unlocked the vehicle door.
"I'm heading out to the boathouse right now. I'll let you know what I find when I get to the platform. If the team is correct, everything is going to happen tonight, but I won't be completely sure until I arrive."
"Should you take a helicopter? It would be faster." Rickie shook his head as he climbed into the cab and turned the engine over.
"If they have set up any type of explosive device, the sight of a helo might cause them to set it off. I'd rather take the boat; it will be only about a half-hour to reach it. Raine, just stand by until I have some information; that way we don't have a false alarm to the APMM."
[A/N: Malaysian Coast Guard]
There was a pause, then Raine replied, "Okay, but if I don't hear from you within the hour, I'm sending the troops."
Rickie agreed, snapped the phone shut, and concentrated on reaching his boathouse in the shortest possible time.
~ ~ ~
The sleek white boat sped across the waves towards the gas rig. Rickie hoped that his hunch and the data collected by his team were incorrect, and that his family's property was not the target of a terrorist act. He had attempted to contact the tower by phone, but was unsuccessful; and, as the steel scaffolding of the platform showed as black webbing against the barest orange glow from the sky, he slowed his pace and regarded the structure.
Outwardly, everything appeared serene, with nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe we are wrong about this, Rickie thought, a thread of doubt surfacing for the first time as he approached closer.
A bright puff of light exploded near the helipad, and suddenly the exterior lights illuminating the helipad and tower shut off, plunging everything into almost total darkness to his dazzled eyes.
Rickie immediately slowed to a crawl and turned off his running lights. He swore when he realized his cell phone wasn't showing a signal, so he grabbed the boat radio and switched it to an emergency frequency while he waited for the retinal afterimages to fade.
"May Day, May Day, this is the boat Air Harimau Bintang from Ahmad Holdings."
"This is APMM Maritime District 11, Leftenan Madya Maritim Najib bin Talib speaking. What is the nature of the emergency, over."
"This is Rick Ahmad; there appears to be a possibility of a terrorist act at our FLNG platform, Compliant Tower # 3, GPS location 2.459538 / 109.126682. Director Raine of the BKN is aware of the circumstances and may already be in touch with your office. Please activate STAR on our behalf. At this time, I am unable to contact you by anything other than this radio at this time, over."
"We copy, and recommend you wait until we arrive and confirm the situation, over."
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"Negative, Maritime. I intend to reconnoiter and make sure my crew is okay. I'll contact you again once I am on the tower, over." Rickie switched off the radio before they had a chance to protest.
After he signed off, Rickie stared into the night, where he could just see the tower, and, as quietly as he could, continued his course until he was directly underneath the drilling platform by the dock.
An unfamiliar black and white Bayliner was moored to the dock; Rickie shut down his engines and glided in, jumped out and secured the bow of his boat before tying off the aft section. He loaded his Glock 17 and placed it in a holster in the small of his back, and headed for the stairs leading to the upper decks but paused every few steps to listen for any disturbance.
On the lower deck, where the employees' quarters were located, he saw several lighted windows and decided to sneak a look through one of them. The sight that greeted caused his heart to skip a beat.
It had already started.