For those who would like to follow the action on a map, here's a link to google maps, centered on Geraldton, which can also be moved and zoomed to show other areas mentioned.
As they drove through the streets of Geraldton, Bridget winced in agony. “We must stop for supplies, any convenience store shall do, though best to clear the area first,” she said, clutching her cracked rib.
Billy kept driving; it had been only a few minutes since they’d seen Kookaburra sail, and he still had no idea where they were going. “Which way should I go?” he asked.
Bridget sighed. “This is very problematic. I can only guess that the police will soon be watching the roads, especially to the north and south. They may think to check all vehicles rented in Geraldton, particularly by people with American accents – they will surely be investigating Americans first of all. It is reasonable to suppose that we have some time, though not much.” Bridget studied the GPS for a few moments, selected a destination, and entered it. “Just follow the directions. I’ve set it to take us inland on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet highway.”
Fifteen minutes later, as they left Geraldton behind, Bridget pulled Basingstoke’s satellite phone out of the glove box. “I think it is time to help our odds,” she said, snapping open the phone. She checked the settings, and then dialed for the pilot of the chartered jet. As soon as the pilot answered, she said, in a voice tinged with pain, “Pilot, this is Mrs. Saint-Claire. I took a nasty fall due to the explosion, and have a broken leg. The hospital is too busy to take me immediately. Can you get me aboard the plane? I must leave!”
The pilot and copilot had heard the explosions from their motel, just a few blocks away, and had made their way to the front desk, seeking information. The pilot replied, “Yes, if you’re in a stretcher, we can carry you on.”
“I don’t have a stretcher, but I must leave at once,” Bridget replied, and then after a pause, added, “Just carry me on. Ensure that you are fully fueled; we have a long flight ahead of us. How soon can you be ready to leave?”
“One hour,” the pilot replied.
“I shall meet you at the plane in an hour or so, as soon as I can manage. Thank you, dear,” Bridget said, and then ended the call. She then removed the phone’s batteries, and popped the batteries out of the other cell and satellite phones. “We can’t have these being tracked, and Basingstoke has assigned times to call,” Bridget explained.
The pilot turned to his copilot, who had been listening in, and asked, “What do you make of that?”
“With a broken leg, a long flight would be the last thing she’d need. I’d think she’d want taking to the nearest available hospital, and that’d be a short hop. She’s American, and we just heard that the cops are looking high and low for an American woman who sort of matches her description, who’s thought to be injured – and carrying a bomb.”
“That’s what I think too,” the pilot replied. He then called the police.
Within fifteen minutes, three Geraldton officers waited in hiding near Bridget’s chartered plane, expecting her to appear. Due to the Geraldton Police Department still being so shorthanded and saddled with the need to attend to the aftermath of the bombings, this constituted half of the police actively looking for Bridget in the area. Even so, it was possible only due to the arrival of a couple of officers from neighboring towns. A dozen officers, along with the bomb squad, were flying up from Perth, but due to the need to get the men together and their equipment loaded, plus the length of the flight, they were not expected to land for at least another four hours.
Billy drove east for sixty more miles on the Mount Magnet highway, until Bridget, who had been studying the GPS, said, “There appear to be a gas station and a convenience store in Mullewa, just ahead.”
Billy saw it first, and pulled in, only to have Bridget direct him to park in back, not trusting the darkness alone to conceal her.
“Be most careful. Do not speak if you can avoid it; your accent might give you away. Get shaving cream, a razor, a baseball cap, some aspirin, and something to eat and drink. Now, repeat that list back to me.”
Billy did so, and Bridget sent him on his way. She then gritted her teeth and endured the pain as she got out of the car. Several other vehicles were parked nearby. She chose a similar model, parked just a few yards away, and under cover of night she carefully swapped license plates with it, using the screwdriver on a Swiss army knife.
Bridget was still struggling with her task when Billy jogged up, bags in hand. “No problems; I didn’t need to talk,” he said quietly, as he stooped to help Bridget.
“Excellent. I wanted to exchange our license plates with another car while we waited, in case they look for this one. However, if they have its description and stop every vehicle matching it, we will have an issue.” Billy had rented the vehicle using a Canadian driver’s license and credit card, but Bridget correctly assumed that the police would be investigating all rentals in Geraldton – which could not be a large number – and she knew that the license Billy had used would not withstand a check by the police. “I think we have some time, though roads are few where we are going, making the job of the police easier. We need a different vehicle. I trust that you know how to hotwire a car?” Bridget asked, as they completed their task and climbed in, Bridget wincing from the pain.
Billy shook his head as he drove off. “Sorry, I don’t. I’m pretty good with home heating and cooling systems, but I’ve never done much with cars. I wouldn’t know how to begin boosting one, especially newer ones. Uh, I don’t suppose you know how and could talk me through it?”
Bridget sighed. “I am skilled at many things, though cars are not amongst them. Clearly, we need a different plan.” Bridget consulted the GPS for a few minutes, and then said, “Our drive to the rendezvous would be a hazardous one; a long journey in an area with few roads. Time to adapt; we will have Basingstoke alter the rendezvous to somewhere more feasible – the coast south of Kalbarri would be one option. Therefore, we must wait for word from him, and his first call window is at dawn. Turn right ahead, onto the Wubin-Mullewa road.”
Billy made the turn, and after driving a dozen miles southeast, they turned off at the Wilroy nature reserve, following increasingly precarious dirt tracks, bouncing in ruts and potholes, until they saw a copse of eucalyptus trees in their headlights. “There will do,” Bridget directed, through teeth clenched in pain.
Once the car was concealed, Bridget, working mainly by touch though with some occasional light from the visor’s mirror light, and wincing from the pain that raising her arms caused her, began the process of shaving her head, starting from the front. She worked with scissors at first, and then began shaving. It was a difficult task, which took her the better part of an hour, but at the end of it, she flicked on an interior light for a few moments to study her bald visage in the passenger visor’s mirror. She’d left a few uneven tufts in back and some stubble elsewhere, as she’d intended.
Bridget tugged on the baseball cap Billy had purchased, and then sighed. “I shall need to borrow some of your clothes from your suitcase. A T-shirt and shorts will do.”
Billy, who had been watching, figured it out. “You want to look like a cancer patient, right?”
“Precisely. A poor one,” Bridget replied, as she tugged off her diamonds. She then took six aspirin before availing herself of one of the sandwiches Billy had purchased, as they settled in for a few hours’ sleep.
Aboard Kookaburra, forty miles offshore, Trevor manned the helm, holding to a course of southeast, heading for Fleet Base West. “We’ll be at the base in about twelve hours,” Trevor said, as he adjusted the sails again, trimming for the maximum speed the wind would provide – the wind conditions were nearly ideal for a high speed run. Trevor had spoken to the Geraldton police once since leaving port, and knew that they had yet to catch Bridget.
Shane fidgeted in the cockpit, glancing out into the darkness – Kookaburra was running completely blacked out. “Maybe we’d best call your Uncle Greg and see what’s up,” he said.
Trevor reached out to put his hand on Shane’s shoulder, though he could not find the words. After a few moments, he knew that none were needed.
Shane smiled in the darkness, and gave Trevor a hug. “It’ll be a long night, so I’ll go make us some coffee.”
Trevor turned his attention to the phone, and made the call. “Hi, Uncle Greg,” Trevor said, as soon as Fowler answered. Trevor then quickly mentioned their course, speed, and that Kookaburra was blacked out.
“Is the AIS transponder off?” Fowler queried.
“Yeah,” Trevor replied, and then asked, “Any news on Bridget? Did they get her yet? And what about the pilot guy?”
Fowler sighed, wrestling with his conscience. “They’re still looking. Bridget had a jet at Geraldton airport and its pilots are helping us set a trap. She’s expected there any time now, with a broken leg – though she’s a bit overdue, if I heard right. If we get her, we’re probably going to bring you and Shane back and put you on a plane. For now, keep heading where you’re heading, as fast as you can.”
“How’d she get a broken leg?” Trevor asked.
Fowler, who had the call on speakerphone, winced as he glanced at Grundig and Ned. He put the phone on hold, and asked, “Do I lie to him?”
Ned and Grundig shared a worried look, and then Ned replied, “I think he has a right to know about his mum, but if you tell him, he’ll probably come about and go racing back to Geraldton.”
Fowler closed his eyes for a moment, remembering his own past. “I was his age when my mum passed, and it took me years to forgive my father for not telling me how sick she really was. I had no idea, until they told me she’d gone.” He then picked up the phone’s handset. “Trev,” he said softly, “I want your word, right now, that you won’t go back to Geraldton unless we tell you to.”
“What’s going on?” Trevor asked.
“Your word, right now,” Fowler demanded.
“Okay,” a confused Trevor replied.
Fowler clutched the phone in his hand hard enough that his knuckles lost their color. “Trev, your mum spotted Bridget Bellevue, and recognized her. Your mum then lit into her with her cane –”
“Way to go Mom!” Trevor whooped, with joy in his voice. It was not to last.
“Trev, your mother has been hurt – badly. She’s in hospital. She was in shock from blood loss by the time she arrived. Martin just got there, and he told me that they say she has massive internal bleeding, perhaps from a ruptured spleen, though they aren’t positive yet. They’re talking about surgery now, though it’s too soon to know much: they’re still doing tests. We’ll know more after the tests and surgery.”
A long silence, and then Trevor’s voice, deathly quiet, “Bridget did this.”
“We don’t know. From what I’ve heard, Bellevue cried for help and a bystander tackled Rachel. We don’t know if the injuries are from that, or something Bellevue did directly,” Fowler replied.
“Either way, Bridget did this.” This time, Trevor’s voice held fury. In a softer tone, he said, “Give me the number for the hospital, I want to… I want to know if Mom will be okay.”
Fowler gave him the number before adding, “No one knows yet. Trev, you can’t go there. Your mum would be the first to tell you that. You’d be putting your life, and Shane’s, in grave peril. We still don’t know where Bellevue or that hired killer are.”
Trevor sighed, his voice catching in his throat. “After all these years, I find out she’s alive, and then… I can’t lose her now. I can’t.”
“We’re hoping she’ll pull through; they really don’t know how serious it is yet. Trev, please, keep heading for the base for now,” Fowler said.
“Okay, I am. I don’t like it, but I am,” Trevor replied.
“I’ll ring off now, but I’ll let you know as soon as there’s any news on anything,” Fowler said.
For several long moments after the call, Trevor held the phone in his hands, staring at it. He glanced up to see Shane returning, with two cups of coffee.
Moving carefully in the darkness, Shane handed Trevor a coffee. “How went the call? I heard you whoop; did they get Bridget?”
Trevor struggled to find the words. “It was Mom who found her. She got her with her cane, but then Uncle Greg told me… Mom is in the hospital, internal bleeding…” Trevor, in a halting voice, went on to recount all of what Fowler had told him. Halfway through it, Trevor felt Shane’s arms around him.
“Are we going back? I’m okay either way,” Shane offered.
After a few moments, Trevor remembered Fowler’s warning that Shane would be in danger too, and replied, “I want to, but Uncle Greg made me promise not to unless they give the okay, and… I guess he’s right. There’s nothing we could do.”
Trevor called the hospital, and after a brief chat with Martin, learned that the surgery had been postponed in order to wait for test results.
Dejected, Trevor could only hug Shane as Kookaburra churned on, alone on the sea. “Why this? Why now? Why?” Trevor shouted, venting his anguish at the starry sky above.
“Let it out, Trev,” Shane whispered, cradling his lover in his arms. Trevor fought back the tears for a few moments longer, before pulling Shane to him, nestling his head on his shoulder, as the tears at last began to flow.
Long minutes later, Trevor’s grief eased somewhat, and a cold anger joined it in his heart, alongside a gnawing fear. “Shane, I’m okay now, thanks,” he said, taking Kookaburra off autopilot and resuming his place at her port helm, with Shane settling into the seat with him. Feeling frustrated, Trevor tapped at the navigation screen, setting the cursor on Geraldton and hitting a button to enter it as a course. Though he craved to do so, he didn’t engage it. He stared at the screen, his heart aching, as Geraldton grew ever more distant.
With each other for comfort, they sailed on through the dark night.
Kookaburra’s tiny crew cabin, like Atlantis’s, was her fifth cabin, smaller than the other four and located forward of the port forward passenger cabin. It was not accessible from the salon area like the other cabins; the only access was via a hatch in the port foredeck. The foredeck was not visible from the cockpit – the salon was in the way, so the police, unaware of the existence of the tiny cabin, had not checked it. It wouldn’t have mattered if they had; Basingstoke hadn’t entered it until well after Kookaburra’s engines had rumbled to life. To get in, he’d forced the lock with a screwdriver, and the damage was visible, had anyone looked closely – in daylight.
Alone in the dark cabin, Basingstoke had listened to the sounds of the boat, a task made far easier once Kookaburra had switched from engines to sail. He’d been up on deck once, to peek through the salon windows. He was now relatively certain that only Trevor and Shane were aboard. He smiled in the blackness; he’d expected to have to kill one or two police officers. He’d felt confident that being able to strike by surprise would have made that fairly easy, but he now welcomed the simplification. He began to sweat in his wetsuit, his nerves on edge as they always were before a kill.
He ached, and his wetsuit chafed. His shoulder and ankle were still sore from his precipitous exit from his plane, and had been aggravated by the underwater swim into the harbor, where he’d sabotaged the customs boat before turning his attention to Kookaburra.
Always a careful planner, Basingstoke had read some of the news reports on Trevor’s encounter with the pirates. It had been those that had given him the idea from which his plan had sprung: Trevor hanging from a rope between the hulls until the pirates had gone. Basingstoke had strung a rope from the netting between the bows, and then slipped under the pier beside Kookaburra, where he had waited underwater. Water is an excellent conductor of sound and, as expected, he’d heard the explosion of the trash can – loud enough to terrify him – and then, not long after, Kookaburra’s engines had rumbled to life.
Basingstoke had swum to his hanging knotted line between the hulls and hung on tightly as Kookaburra raced out of the harbor. He’d slipped out of his air tanks and weight belt, and then crept up the line for a peek in the sunset. He’d been told by Bridget that there was no way to see the forward decks from the cockpit, and also where to go – the crew cabin. He’d had a few tense moments when his aching shoulder had proven barely up to the task of getting aboard, but now the worst was behind him.
After a quick check of his watch, he glanced upwards through the transparent access hatch, to see the expected first glimmer of the coming dawn. The direction told him that they were southbound. He’d waited for this time, preferring a hint of light to make his move, for darkness gave too much of an edge to those most familiar with their surroundings.
Basingstoke scaled the ladder, pausing for a moment to peer through the hatch. He eased it open, emerging on deck, one of his Makarov pistols in hand, the other in his belt. Moving with stealth, he crept along the deck, ducking under the boom as he passed the salon’s superstructure, on his way to the cockpit, where he could hear voices.
Shane saw him first, a movement in the corner of his eye, coming around the side of the salon. “Trev,” he shouted in warning, though it was already too late.
Basingstoke, still on the main deck, aimed his Makarov down at Shane. “Don’t move and you won’t be hurt, I only want the boat; I could have killed you already had I wished,” he said, as Trevor and Shane froze in place; Trevor at the helm, and Shane six feet away, in the center of the cockpit.
Trevor forced himself to look at Basingstoke and not at the cockpit’s bench seat, a position partially obscured from Basingstoke’s view by the cockpit table. “Okay, anything you want,” Trevor replied, partially raising his hands.
Basingstoke needed Trevor alive – for a short while – to handle calls to the authorities. Shane was a different matter, needed only to secure Trevor’s cooperation. Basingstoke turned his gun on Shane. “Drop the cup.” Shane complied, letting his coffee mug tumble to the deck. Basingstoke nodded at the cockpit’s aft railing. “Now jump overboard,” he commanded Shane.
“No!” Trevor gasped, his eyes meeting Shane’s. Trevor ached to rush to the cockpit bench, just a few yards away, but knew he’d never make it.
Basingstoke aimed at Shane’s head. “Jump, or die. I only want the boat. Trevor, you’ll be making a radio call for me, and if you do it right, I’ll turn you loose in the Zodiac. You can then pick him up and head for shore. By the time you get there, I’ll be long gone. I won’t say it again; jump, or you both die. Either way suits me.”
Shane gave a shaky nod, and took a hesitant step towards the cockpit’s aft rail. “Okay, okay, I’m going,” he said, his eyes flicking to meet Trevor’s.
Once again facing an armed intruder in his cockpit, and seeing Shane head for the railing, caused Trevor to flash back, for the briefest of seconds, to that night on Atlantis, south of the Seychelles, when the pirates had arrived. He remembered being dragged to Atlantis’s aft railing, moments before being thrown overboard, intended to die. Again, he remembered being adrift after his plunge to the depths, and so very alone.
Trevor was well aware that if Shane went overboard and was lost from sight, finding him again would be unlikely, even if Basingstoke kept his word – which Trevor did not believe for an instant.
Trevor locked eyes with Shane, saw the fear and confusion, and then, a brief glance by Shane at the cockpit stairs. Trevor knew then that Shane was about to rush Basingstoke: a desperate and likely fatal act. Trevor tried to warn him off with his eyes, and then, with no hesitation, he lowered his left hand onto Kookaburra’s navigation screen.
Trevor’s move took Basingstoke by surprise, and he swung his gun to bear on Trevor.
Trevor, after pressing two more on-screen buttons, raised his hands high, surprised that Basingstoke hadn’t shot him.
Basingstoke had no idea what Trevor had done, though he suspected he’d turned on a radio. He increased his pressure on the Makarov’s trigger; his instinct was to shoot Trevor, but he eased off, remembering that he needed him alive for a short while, if feasible. “Get away from that,” he barked.
Trevor meekly nodded, and took a step towards Basingstoke, hands held high. He was now one step closer to the cockpit bench, which was his goal. They’d prepped the spear guns as soon as they’d left the dock, though the thought had been that any threat would come from a boat, so they’d placed them on the cockpit bench, thinking they’d have time to reach them in case of need.
Kookaburra’s autopilot took note of the commands Trevor had entered. She was currently on a course of southeast, with the wind off her starboard aft quarter. Trevor’s commands had engaged the autopilot, setting it for Geraldton. The autopilot commanded Kookaburra’s rudders and, slowly, she began turning to port.
Basingstoke, unfamiliar with yachts and intent on covering Trevor and Shane, did not at first notice the gentle and ongoing course change.
Shane did, and edged back towards the railing. Basingstoke saw the move as one of acquiescence, and ordered, “Jump!”
Kookaburra continued her turn, her bows now pointing east, her sterns passing through the eye of the wind. A ruffling sound was the first warning, as her sails began flapping. Basingstoke heard the sounds and knew that something was amiss, though not what. Reflexively, he glanced towards the source of the sounds, just in time to see the boom begin to swing, driven by the wind.
With the boom coming towards him, Basingstoke ducked. The boom only moved a few feet before whipping against the mainsheet – a line with pulleys, attached to the end of the boom, used to control the mainsail as well as to stop the boom from swinging freely in case of an unexpected jibe.
While Basingstoke was ducking – the boom came to a halt almost directly over him – Trevor lunged, leaping across the cockpit and slamming into the deck beside the cockpit bench, where the two spear guns lay.
Basingstoke saw Trevor’s sudden move – it was in his general direction, but down in the cockpit – and reacted, spinning to face him and standing up, jostling his shoulder against the boom.
With Trevor on the cockpit deck and partially obscured from his direct line of sight, Basingstoke’s gun tracked in on Shane.
Trevor stood, six feet from Basingstoke, spear gun in hand and trained on Basingstoke’s torso. Trevor could see that the gun was pointed at Shane, and hesitated, fearing that Basingstoke would reflexively pull the trigger if hit.
Due to the predawn light, Basingstoke was silhouetted against the glowing sky, but he could see only dark shapes in the cockpit. It was enough, and he discerned that Trevor was pointing something at him. It did not appear to be a gun, but it was something, and that was enough for Basingstoke. He began taking a step forward to clear his field of fire. He knew he needed Trevor alive for a short while, to keep the authorities in the dark, but now the situation had changed, and in his judgment, dead would have to do. He kept his gun on Shane, preparing to swing it around for a snap shot at Trevor.
“Stop!” Trevor yelled, standing upright, making himself a clear target.
Basingstoke now had a better view of the spear gun, and took a step backwards, though his gun remained trained on Shane. “I only want the boat, so drop it or you’re both dead,” he said, before snapping his gun around towards Trevor. Basingstoke could see the lump at the tip of the spear, though he had no idea what a powerhead was. To him, it looked like a safety cap.
Only concern for Shane had stayed Trevor’s hand. Now, Trevor stared down the barrel himself. Without hesitation, he pulled the spear gun’s trigger. With a soft thunk, the spear launched.
Trevor had been aiming for the center of Basingstoke’s torso, but his aim was somewhat off. The spear struck Basingstoke in the shoulder, and the powerhead triggered on contact, firing the bullet, accompanied by the propellant blast, through Basingstoke’s wetsuit and into his skin, where the expanding gasses did their work: shredding flesh.
For Basingstoke, there was a sudden sense of pressure, accompanied by the loud blast of the .45 caliber round as the powerhead at the tip of the spear detonated. The impact of the gasses caused his torso to twist, spoiling his aim, sending his answering shot screaming past Trevor’s ear.
Shane surged forward, leaping up as if to spike a volleyball, slamming his hands against Basingstoke’s outstretched arm, sending the Makarov clattering against the salon door.
Trevor dropped the spear gun as he took the stairs in a single bound, and then racing forward on the main deck to deliver a furious right hook to the already-falling Basingstoke’s jaw.
Basingstoke collapsed on the deck, reeling from the confusing onslaught and excruciating pain, his remaining usable arm fumbling reflexively for the other pistol, still in his wetsuit utility belt.
Trevor got there first, snatching the pistol away, pausing only to give Basingstoke’s head a swift kick before stepping back.
Unfamiliar with Makarov pistols – he had rarely used handguns other than his revolver – Trevor studied it for a moment in the poor light, unable to see the red dot showing under what he assumed was the safety lever. He could see that the hammer was cocked back, and guessed that the gun was ready to fire. He pointed it skyward and pulled the trigger; the gun fired with a painful crack. Trevor lowered his aim to Basingstoke’s head, and took another step back from the prostrate man before glancing at Shane. “You okay?”
“I am now,” Shane replied, snatching up the other pistol, which he had no idea how to use.
“It’s just point and shoot,” Trevor said helpfully, and then turned his attention to Basingstoke, who was writhing in pain, with bright red blood spreading from his shoulder. “If you so much as blink, I’ll blow your fucking brains out.”
Shane approached, and handed his gun to Trevor. “Let’s see what else the bastard is hiding,” he said, as he circled around Trevor to avoid his line of fire. Crouching, he began with a quick, rough pat down, relieving Basingstoke of his oversized dive knife before he finished.
Trevor handed the gun back to Shane as soon as he was clear. Trevor glared at Basingstoke, and then said to Shane, “Don’t take any chances.”
Shane glanced at the gun in his hands. It was the first time he’d ever held a handgun. “It’s ready to fire, right?”
Trevor took it, aimed it skyward, and fired. As the resounding crack echoed across the sea, Trevor handed the gun back to Shane and said, “Yep. If he even looks at you funny, shoot him.” Trevor glared at Basingstoke for a moment, and then said, “You’re going to talk to me, and you’ll do it right now. Why do you want me and this boat? Who sent you, and where’s Bridget?”
Basingstoke glanced into Trevor’s eyes, seeing the burning rage. In that moment, he understood that he was in imminent danger. He was in pain and afraid, and clutched at his shoulder. “I need a bandage,” he gasped.
“Fuck off,” Shane shot back, and then shrugged before asking Trevor, “Any idea how long it’ll take the police to get here?”
“That’s a great way to get dead,” Basingstoke replied, still trying to find a way out, and seeing one last chance. “We just want the boat. Let us have it and let me go, and there’s no more threat to you.”
“We?” Trevor blurted out, his gun now sweeping forward towards the salon door as he belatedly realized that they had no reason to assume that Basingstoke was alone.
“Shit,” Shane gasped, dashing into the cockpit to retrieve the other spear gun, which was loaded and ready. He then bounded back up the stairs and pointed both it and the gun at Basingstoke. “If I were you, mate, I’d start talking. Who else is aboard?”
Basingstoke only scowled, and Trevor faced a dilemma; he knew that the police were not an option – it would take them far too long to arrive if anyone else was on board. They could spend time tying Basingstoke up – a grave danger, if there was someone else – or one of them had to remain to guard him while the other searched alone.
Shane drew the same conclusion. “I’ll go find some rope,” he said.
Trevor glanced at Basingstoke, remembered his orders to Shane, and saw a safer solution to the problem. “Don’t bother, there’s a faster way.” He handed the pistol to Shane, clenched his fist, and swung a furious backhand blow, connecting with Basingstoke’s jaw with a satisfying meaty thud.
Basingstoke, prostrate from Trevor’s blow, writhed on the deck, and grunted through clenched teeth, “So call the damn cops. I’ll be out in a fortnight and you’ll still have people after you.” Basingstoke groaned, and then wheezed, “But if you two leave in the Zodiac, right now, this is over; we’ll never bother you again.”
All Trevor had been through; the bomb in the Suez, the pirates, and the long ordeal to survive… all of it came flooding back, and he shivered, though not in fear. Rage filled him, and now, at long last, he had an enemy face-to-face. Adrenalin surging, he grabbed the collar of Basingstoke’s wetsuit, yanking him to a sitting position to deliver a hard right jab to his mouth. As Basingstoke reeled back from the blow, Trevor used both hands to haul him to his feet. Trevor, four inches taller than Basingstoke, used his leverage to hurl him at the safety cable at the deck’s edge.
Basingstoke toppled over the wire, grabbing it with his good hand, dangling from it, his feet trailing in the sea. Trevor bought his foot up, and gave Basingstoke’s fingers a kick. “Get the fuck off our boat!” he mumbled, as Basingstoke slammed into the sea.
Kookaburra had slowed due to the turn, though her misconfigured sails still caught some wind, propelling her at a lazy three knots. Trevor watched as Basingstoke surfaced, passing aft of Kookaburra’s sterns, and then said to Shane as he took one of the guns back, “Now we can search.” On his way through the cockpit, he set a GPS waypoint at their current location, and then, taking the lead, began a rapid search of Kookaburra.
Shane had the phone in his hand, but belatedly realized that talking while searching was not a good idea, and slipped it back into his pocket.
Basingstoke, slightly dazed and in agony, sputtered to the surface. He saw Kookaburra sailing lazily away, and with no land in sight, he began to panic, yelling and pleading for Kookaburra to come back, only to see her grow ever smaller.
The search did not take long; there weren’t all that many places aboard where a person could hide. Soon, they spotted the open access hatch to the crew cabin and realized that that’s where Basingstoke had been. After opening the hatch for a careful look and listen, Trevor stormed down the ladder, gun at the ready, though they were growing increasingly certain that Basingstoke had been alone. All he found were a few empty Ziploc bags – which Basingstoke had used to keep his guns dry.
Shane spotted the forced lock. “Looks like he busted it open,” he said.
Trevor, still shaking from the adrenalin, scrambled back up onto the deck and headed aft. When he reached the cockpit, he glanced aft, trying to spot Basingstoke.
Shane offered Trevor the phone. “Who do you want to call first?”
“Not right now. We need to know what he knows, and I’ve got a hunch he might not talk to the police. Do me a favor and get the laptop, and see if you can make it record sound.”
“It can do that,” Shane confirmed, taking a step towards the salon, before pausing to say, “I don’t think he’ll want to say much – not willingly.”
“Yeah, but I’m fucking sick of this shit. He’s going to tell us what we need to know,” Trevor said, with fury in his voice, as he began lowering the sails.
Trevor retook the helm, firing up the engines and bringing Kookaburra hard about. He motored back towards Basingstoke. Trevor heard his yells before he saw him, and then, with Basingstoke in sight, Trevor used the engines to pirouette Kookaburra until her sterns faced Basingstoke, thirty feet away. Basingstoke began paddling towards the sterns so Trevor used the engines to hold their distance. He then waved the gun in Basingstoke’s direction. “Listen up; you’re bleeding, and there’s a lot of sharks in these waters. Tell me everything and I’ll bring you back aboard. If not, I’ll be on my way.”
Basingstoke, in agony and treading water, thought Trevor was bluffing, and made one last play for his freedom. “Keep the damn boat. Let me go in the Zodiac, and it’s over. Just put the key in and launch it. If you turn me in, it’ll go very badly for you. You’ve no idea what you’re up against.”
“You’re going to tell me that, and a lot more,” Trevor replied, his voice cold. “Let’s start with Bridget Bellevue: where is she?”
“Never heard the name,” Basingstoke replied, which was the literal truth, though he had a very good guess who Trevor meant. Basingstoke was afraid; of his wound, and of going to prison, though he was also well aware that if he talked, he’d be writing his own death warrant. “Call the cops and see what happens to you, or give me the Zodiac,” Basingstoke parried.
“You’ll talk to me or the sharks, your choice. Tell me everything, right now,” he ordered, as Shane returned with the laptop, signaling with a nod that it was recording. Trevor motioned for him to keep it out of Basingstoke’s sight. Shane did so, and also carefully turned the laptop so that its microphone was pointing astern.
“You can’t do this!” Basingstoke wailed, wracked by the pain from his wound, which was now bathed in salt water. The buoyancy of his wetsuit was helping to keep his head above water, though he got a mouthful of seawater due to his yell.
“I already have, in case you haven’t noticed,” Trevor shot back. “Say hi to the sharks,” he added, easing the throttles forward to open the gap, just a little.
Basingstoke trod water for a few moments, and then sputtered, “Okay, you win. Get me aboard and I’ll tell you all I can.”
Trevor gunned the engines for a second, just for effect. “Go fuck yourself. Here’s how it works; you talk, and when I’ve heard it all, I’ll bring you aboard. One thing you better remember; I know some of it already. If I catch you in a lie, just one, I’m gone, no second chances. I also don’t know how long it’ll take the sharks to come, and I don’t care. If they get here before we’re done, I’ll just stand off and watch the show.”
The fact that Trevor knew Bridget’s name gave Basingstoke pause, and the increasing distance to Kookaburra was making him believe that Trevor would leave him to die.
Shane, at the cockpit’s stern rail, thought of a way to help, and said to Basingstoke, “Whoever sent you screwed you right proper; last time, they sent a whole band of pirates. Did they bother to tell you that the pirates got themselves dead as maggots? Trev got ‘em. Now he’s got you. If I were you, I’d tell him what he wants to hear.”
Basingstoke had read a bit about what had happened to the pirates. He glanced around, seeing empty horizon save for Kookaburra, which was gradually pulling away. In his mind’s eye, he could see sharks. Fear gripped him, deep and unrelenting, panic welling up within him. Without even a conscious decision, he blurted, “The contract was taken out by e-mail, by a drug lord. I don’t know his real name, just that he’s high up in one of the cartel syndicates, one the Melbourne smugglers had dealings with him before. The contract’s for an American woman who’s here, said her name’s Ms. Margaret, but the guy with her calls her Mrs. B.”
Trevor’s eyes narrowed. “How does she talk? Like me?”
“A yank, but real formal, not like you.” Basingstoke received another mouthful of seawater, and coughed.
Trevor, who already knew Bridget was in the area, well remembered how she spoke. He glanced at the laptop, and listened to the soft thrum of the engines for a moment, guessing that it was low enough not to be a great hindrance to recording. “That’s Bridget Bellevue. I’ve met her, and know a lot about her. Like I said, I know some of this. Okay, I’m going to come closer, toss you a life ring, and we’ll finish our chat. If you try anything, or lie to me even once, I’m gone: no second chances.”
Trevor backed Kookaburra to within twenty feet of Basingstoke before hurling a life ring, minus the normally-attached rescue line, at Basingstoke. As soon as Basingstoke reached it, Trevor began an intense question-and-answer session, his blood running cold when he learned that Basingstoke had intended to leave Shane adrift, to face almost certain death.
Shane looked at Trevor in horror when Basingstoke divulged that he’d intended to kill Trevor, and then ship his head to the cartel.
Basingstoke, in agony from the seawater lapping at his wound, and becoming ever more terrified, held nothing back intentionally. He confessed his part in the Geraldton bombings, and then, at Trevor’s prodding, admitted to two of the contract murders he’d previously committed. He even told of the rendezvous plans.
While Trevor questioned Basingstoke, Shane retrieved a first-aid kit and tended to Trevor’s bleeding knuckles.
Trevor questioned Basingstoke some more, trying to find out why they had been after him and Kookaburra but, at last, he accepted that Basingstoke didn’t know, and kept his promise to take Basingstoke aboard – though he was far from gentle about it.
Trevor and Shane hogtied Basingstoke, and then bandaged his wound, over his wetsuit, before leaving him in a heap on the cockpit deck.
“Now what?” Shane asked.
Trevor shrugged. “I want to get Bridget, but… she’s got a guy with her, and this fuckwit isn’t sure if they’re armed, but he does think they’ve got a stick of dynamite left. I think it’s time to give Uncle Greg a call and turn this over to the police. I need to find out if there’s anything new on Mom, too.”
While Trevor picked up the phone, Shane told Basingstoke, in a deadly tone, “If I was you, I’d be hoping like hell his Mum’s going to be okay.”
Trevor made the call, and asked without preamble, “Any news on Mom?”
The call had caught Fowler in a groggy state; he’d been awake all night, and was with Ned, having just received a phone call from Martin, in Geraldton. “Hi Trev,” Fowler said, and then with a tired smile on his face, added, “Yes, I was just about to ring you. Tentative good news; the MRI and tests did indicate a ruptured spleen, so they took her into surgery to remove it. She’s just come out, and the doctor said it went fairly well, though she’s still in guarded condition. If all goes well in the next few days, they expect her to make a full recovery in a few weeks. It’s not as bad as they’d first feared.”
“That’s great news, Uncle Greg. Uh, any chance I could go see her? I don’t think Bridget is still in the area, unless you got her already.”
“Sorry Trev, that flying killer is still about, and we don’t even have a lead on him yet. I think he’s the greatest threat, so you continue towards the base.”
“If somebody captures him, then can I go see Mom?” Trevor asked.
Fowler, who wasn’t thinking clearly, saw no harm in agreeing to that. “I suppose so, with a police escort, but for now, keep going to the base. We don’t know where he’s at, or what he’s up to.”
Trevor was relieved over the good news regarding his mother, and had good reason to be hopeful that their troubles were at an end. In an almost euphoric mood, he chuckled. “You don’t, but I do. I’m using him for a footstool.”
“What?” Fowler asked, blinking at Ned in confusion. “Say again!”
“He was on Kookaburra when we sailed. He hid in the crew cabin when we left the harbor. The bombs were to drive us out to sea, and he planned to kill any police aboard, then Shane and me as well. We’ve been having quite a conversation; he’s told me all sorts of stuff.”
Fowler shook his head as if to clear it. He was highly skeptical; he knew how much Trevor wanted to see his mother, and suspected that he was making things up. “What’s he doing now? What’s the situation?”
“Shane and I are fine. As for our flying headhunter – that’s what he was after, my head – he’s kinda tied up right now: real well. We got him, and he’s not going anywhere. I guess somebody might want to get him to a doctor eventually; I pretty much blew up his shoulder with a powerhead and he’s lost a lot of blood. He’s probably okay for now, but we’ve got a problem; he’s supposed to take Kookaburra to a rendezvous with Bridget near Onslow – about two hundred forty miles north of you – in two and a half days.”
“Trev, are you serious about all this?” an incredulous Fowler asked.
“I’ll get him to say something,” Trevor said, holding the phone towards Basingstoke, who only glared. Trevor clenched his fist and cocked his arm back, and said in a warning tone, “Say hi to Uncle Greg, or it’s really gonna hurt.”
“Hello,” Basingstoke dutifully responded. “I’m being threatened, I’ve been shot and thrown to the sharks, and I need a doctor.”
At the sound of the unfamiliar voice, Fowler began to believe Trevor, and was now fully alert. When Trevor came back on the line, Fowler said, “Bloody hell, Trev. Okay, uh, what’s your ETA at the base?”
“I’d prefer to go see Mom, but… about four hours. We’re off Yanchep, way out to sea.”
“There’s already a patrol boat en route to escort you in; they sailed about two hours ago. They should get to you… I don’t know, shouldn’t be too much longer. Give me your coordinates, base course, and speed and I’ll let them know where you’re at.” Fowler wrote down the information, and then said, “Here, talk to Ned, I’ve got to use the other phone.”
While Trevor gave an incredulous Ned a rundown on the situation – which included a few words from Basingstoke – Fowler called Fleet Base West, who radioed the patrol boat with the updated information regarding Kookaburra.
Fowler then took the phone back from Ned and said, “Trev, if you hold course and speed, they’re just under an hour away. They’re on a reciprocal course, and they just went to flank speed. They’ll take your prisoner, put a couple of armed men aboard, and then you keep heading for the base, okay?”
They spoke for a few more minutes, mainly Trevor filling in details of what he’d learned.
As soon as the call ended, Fowler glanced at Ned. “Get Atlantis ready to put to sea, maybe for a long run.”
“All she needs is a full load of fuel and she’ll motor just fine,” Ned promised.
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