Rickie blew on his hands to warm them. With the inky blackness of night, the breeze had taken a cooler turn.
At first he thought the quiet growl was his stomach, but then realized it was coming from across the water. A dark shape detached itself from the pitch-black water, and Rickie smiled for the first time in hours when he recognized the rigid hull fender boat of the APMM. The newest and fastest vessel in the Maritime fleet, capable of 50 knots speeds and painted matte black for covert operations, it eased in behind his cigarette boat, and began discharging its dark-clothed occupants.
Rickie use a small penlight to flash the agreed-upon signal, and then went down to the dock to meet the team. He shook hands around, and then handed his radio to the team leader.
"The crew members here are on this frequency, but the at least one Tango is able to listen in. I'm not sure of her current destination; the other one is still on the helipad. I don't believe there are any others here. I've only visually confirmed her. She called herself "Ani"; black fatigues, around 170 cm, dark hair. She has an assault rifle, but I don't know what other weaponry is on her. I last saw her in the crew mess hall on Level D. I'm going back to the Control Room; I'll contact you on Tac channel 7 once I'm in place. Good luck."
They all nodded, pulled their balaclavas in place, and silently glided up the steps. Rickie watched them go to make sure they had a good start, bowed to the boat pilot still at the wheel, and climbed back up to start his winding way back to the Control Room.
~ ~ ~
Rickie carefully unlocked the door to the Control Room and surveyed it to look for any changes. Without a radio, he was unable to determine where the troops were before getting here. Since there were no staccato sounds of gunfire, he decided they hadn't engaged anyone yet. He walked back over to the bank of monitors and gave them a cursory glance before grabbing one of the radios from the charger and switching it to the appropriate tactical channel.
"This is Ahmad; I'm back in the Control Room. Nothing visual yet, but will advise, over." His transmission was acknowledged, and he sat back down in front of the screens and began to look more closely at them.
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For several minutes, he directed the Alpha team through the platform to the helipad. Several team members pulled off to assist the civilian crew members still waiting in the meeting room, but most were heading for the helipad. Rickie was sure John was still there to make sure the helicopter couldn't land.
Once the team was in place, Rickie pulled back, momentarily closed his eyes and rubbed his temple with his right hand, trying to stop the headache that threatened to settle in his forehead.
He was concentrating on that spot of pain when he felt a cold metal object against his left ear.
"Why, Mr Ahmad," Ani purred, "How nice to see you again."