(Here's a link to google maps, which can be zoomed and moved around, centered on the areas in the chapter, because I know some of you are like me, and love to follow along and see the areas they are in.)
Gray had been avoiding his usual haunts. He found the sudden and persistent disappearance of his two associates worrisome, a gnawing dread at the back of his mind as he made his way to a small apartment he maintained in Melbourne. He’d acquired it for a purpose; to be a safe house, in case anything went wrong.
The news had not been long in coming. One of his contacts in the local police department left him a message, warning him that his pseudonym, Gray, was known and that they were looking for him. This warning came in just after the police raided his regular bar, which was all the confirmation he needed.
Atlantis, well into her eastbound voyage, ran before the winds, keeping up her steady pace, averaging almost two hundred miles a day.
Trevor and Shane had plenty of things to do to keep them busy. They caught up on maintenance, restored the pole-mounted radar they’d taken down in Cairns, and began to build a faux structural beam for a hiding place, similar to what they’d found on Kookaburra.
After a week at sea, Shane began unpacking the boxes that had been stored in his aunt’s garage. In their cabin, with Atlantis running on autopilot, Shane sat with Trevor, digging through the boxes. First out were Shane’s many trophies, which they placed on shelves in the cabin, using double sided tape to keep them in place. Shane’s old clothes were next and, though they’d seen better days, Shane greeted them with relish. The rest, odds and ends, were put away in drawers, with Shane explaining many of the items and what they meant to him. It was a time for reminiscing, and time was something they thought they had plenty of.
Kookaburra had made her way through Torres Strait and across Northern Australia to Rhys Lagoon in Shark Bay, her arrival timed to coincide with high tide.
Rachel, at the helm, was joined by Martin. “I’ve never made it in without touching bottom. You’ve done so, but not all the time,” Martin said, and then nodded at Fowler, who was emerging from the salon. “Greg and I have a bet on whether you can get us in without grounding.”
“And which way did you bet?” Rachel asked, with a chuckle.
“Well, Trev made it in and out a couple of times without grounding, including his first time in. Shane just delighted in telling me that. You’re his mum, so I bet Greg a beer that you could do it.”
Rachel cast a mock glare at Bluey and Bonzer, who were standing near the rail, snickering. “Okay, off to the bows with you two; we’re about to find out. Call out the depths,” Rachel said, as she approached the shallows at three knots.
They were almost in when it happened; a soft rumbling hiss came from the port hull, only to fade away. Martin turned to Rachel with a bemused look on his face. “Looks like I owe Greg a beer.”
Head held high, Rachel replied, “I didn’t ground. I was merely using the hull as a depth gauge, to feel my way in.”
“You owe me a beer, Martin,” Fowler declared.
Now past the shallows, Rachel increased their speed, racing across Rhys lagoon towards the far beach, where the customs boat and a day-cruiser powerboat were moored – both were planing hull craft, so had been able to enter at speed. The powerboat was loaded with all the tools and equipment Ned thought he’d need to search Kookaburra.
After mooring Kookaburra alongside, a round of greetings ensued, and then Fowler took Craig Grundig aside for a private chat, though it was Grundig who spoke first. “You’re looking mighty well for a corpse, Greg.”
Fowler gave Grundig a wry smile. “It was damn close to being real. So, any updates?”
Grundig smiled. “As of this morning, one of the two bastards on that powerboat has had a bit of a change of heart. One of our blokes reminded him, with the aid of a few photos, what happened to that killer from Geraldton once he got to prison. He pointed out that it was done to keep him quiet. Well, that did the trick, and he’s starting to cooperate in return for a lighter sentence and protection. He identified that driver Trevor and Shane had; he’s a nasty piece of work, some kind of enforcer for the mob. He’s not sure what happened in Melbourne, but he did give us the name of a pub the enforcer, who goes by ‘Gray’, uses. The police are watching it. No signs yet.”
“Anything else? Any other leads?” Fowler asked.
“Not yet, but hopefully soon. For now, the service says you’re supposed to stay missing-at-sea.”
“Let’s see what Ned turns up on Kookaburra.” Fowler said.
“Ah, about Ned. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the police down in Perth are on the track of that doll he found on Kookaburra and sold. The bad news is that it was sold again, about a year ago, at an auction. It was a cash sale, so no record of the buyer. However, it’s likely someone in the business so they’re doing some legwork.”
Ned began by examining the hulls. His pronouncement on their conditions was succinct. “I’ll need to haul her out to get that flexboard off. It’s been put on with epoxy, and it looks like they roughed the surface with sandpaper. I’ll need to grind it off, then redo the glassing under the paint and anti-foul.”
“Ned, we need to know, as soon as possible, if there’s anything hidden aboard. I don’t mean by the bomber, but years ago in Florida as well.”
Ned gave Kookaburra’s deck a thoughtful look. “I’ll get her done, though I’ll need your help.”
For Bluey and Bonzer, the days in Rhys Lagoon were a welcome chance to swim and explore. While on a hike around the lagoon, Bluey grinned. “So this is the place Shane named after himself. It’s as great as he said. I wonder how long they’ll keep us here.”
Bonzer shrugged. “Dunno, but I hope it’s a while.”
A few days after Kookaburra’s arrival in Rhys Lagoon, Craig Grundig returned in the customs boat. As soon as he arrived, he pulled alongside Kookaburra, motioning to Fowler, “Greg, I need a word,” he said, gesturing for him to board the customs boat. As soon as Fowler hopped aboard, Grundig pulled away, motoring towards the north end of the lagoon.
“What’s going on?” Fowler asked.
“I was told to speak to you alone. The long and the short of it is, the police have had some more success in rolling up the operation that tried to bomb you. They’ve got the one who planted the bomb, though he was killed after taking a few shots at officers. The good news is one of the two from the powerboat is now fully cooperating and has given us a lot more information. The picture isn’t good. It looks like someone hired Gray to head up the operation, and he was Trevor and Shane’s driver in Melbourne. The best guess is he was following Atlantis in hopes of finding Kookaburra – they aren’t sure how. He also overheard a call from Gray to the other guy on the powerboat; something about Brisbane, and keys. Atlantis was there. More good news is that the police found two more bombs, like the ones you had on Kookaburra, with the bomber. The bad news is that means they might be after Atlantis, too.”
“They think Gray was following Atlantis? How?” Fowler asked.
“They don’t know. She came up clean when the navy scanned her; no transmissions.”
“That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s clean,” Fowler replied, before pausing to think for a few long moments. “Let me stew on that a bit. I also need to ring Gonzalez in Florida. Craig, when you get back to town, do me a favor and ring up a communications specialist in the service. I need to know if I’m just being paranoid about using the phones, or not. When Trev first got here, I was mainly interested in keeping him from running off at the mouth to his friends in Florida, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea to be wary of anything that transmits. The comms guys in the service ought to know if the risk is real, because I’d really like to be able make some calls and not have to worry. Now, as for Kookaburra and us; how much longer are we supposed to remain missing?”
Grundig shrugged. “The commander said to tell you that’s your call.” Grundig’s eyes glazed over for a moment, and then he added, “Speaking of calls… remember the wild goose chase Bridget led the police on by stashing that satellite phone in a truck? The satellite phone company was able to track it to a general area, and we know the Melbourne mob, plus Bridget herself, are very well connected. What if they had someone, somewhere, maybe in law enforcement or pretending to be, make a request to the satellite company? They could be tracking Trevor’s satellite phone while it’s in standby.”
Fowler’s eyes opened a little wider. “Good thinking. Okay, follow that up. Write up a request to them and then kick it upstairs to the commander; he can get action pretty quick. They’ll need the phone number,” Fowler said, reaching for a pad and pencil to write Trevor’s number down.
In Florida, Joel’s father, Charles Stiles, regarded a morose Lisa and Joel with a wary eye. “Are you two still in the doghouse?” he asked, though he knew the answer.
Lisa nodded. “Daddy is still furious. I’ve never seen him so mad for so long.”
Charles could only nod in agreement. “I can’t say I blame him. What you two did in the Bahamas was stupidly dangerous.”
Joel winced, and began fidgeting. “Mr. Whitaker knows that Kookaburra’s missing and that there was probably a bomb. He also knows what happened off Geraldton. He told Lisa that if we insist on sailing off on Atlantis for our honeymoon, he won’t help Lisa with college. He also said that bringing Atlantis to the wedding is just too risky.”
“So, Daddy canceled our honeymoon,” Lisa said, in a dejected tone. Lisa and Joel, during a conversation with Trevor and Shane, had picked up on Trevor’s carefully-phrased comment about Kookaburra – lamenting only the destruction of the boat – and had understood, as intended, that no one had died. They also understood that they couldn’t tell anyone.
Charles began pacing. “I have to agree. This means Bridget Bellevue is likely alive, and though it’s thought she no longer has motive, it’s not wise to tempt fate – speaking of which, you two continuing to use her guesthouse, as well as parking Trevor’s car in her garage, was beyond madness,” he said, glancing out at his front yard, which was now graced with Trevor’s decrepit car, courtesy of Officer Gonzalez.
“I had to put it somewhere,” Joel protested.
Charles sighed in defeat. “We can’t leave it outside; the neighbors will complain. If you absolutely have to keep it, then you get to clean out the far side of the garage, put down plastic and kitty litter to catch the oil, and then fix it. But you have six weeks, not one day more. Fix it to the point where Dirk can take it off our hands. That means making it reliably self-propelled and not leaking oil by the gallon. If you can’t, I’ll have it towed to the junkyard – assuming they’ll take it.”
Joel brightened slightly. “Thanks. I’ll start on the garage today. I guess I’ll have to tell Trev that the honeymoon has been canceled. He’ll need to dock somewhere other than his own father’s marina too; Mr. Whitaker insists that, if Atlantis is anywhere nearby, he won’t approve.”
Charles turned, hiding a smile. “Well, that’s for the best. A honeymoon really isn’t suitable for a trip with friends. What you need is a real honeymoon; a week at a resort. I’m not supposed to tell you this as it was going to be a surprise, but my father is giving you just that as a wedding present. I’ve cleared it with Robert too; no objections.”
Lisa and Joel instantly brightened. “Awesome!” Joel declared, breaking into a broad grin.
Charles wasn’t done. “He won a resort stay – a honeymoon package of all things – from a travel agency drawing, and the timing couldn’t have been better. It doesn’t include airfare but my frequent flier miles make that easy. I did discuss the matter at length with Robert and, though he’s not thrilled with the idea, he’d be okay with you two being met there after your stay and going for a cruise on Atlantis, provided that you don’t tell anyone where you’re going; that means both the resort, and the trip on Atlantis.”
Lisa and Joel shared a delighted grin, and Lisa gushed, “We promise! Where are we going?”
Charles grinned, and began to chuckle. “That’s the thing. There was only one way Robert would trust that you two wouldn’t blab, and that’s if you don’t know. So, it’ll be a surprise for the wedding. It’s in the Caribbean, a beautiful resort on the beach, and you’ll have a honeymoon suite. Don’t bother asking; I won’t tell you any more.”
“When do Trev and Shane get to find out?” Joel asked.
Charles shrugged. “You can tell them what I told you, but they’ll find out the location at the wedding, not before, same as you. Incidentally, where are they now?”
Joel shrugged. “I called Trev and Shane just after they left New Zealand, which means they’re on their way to the Panama Canal. Lisa and I went to see Jim and Mr. Carlson yesterday; they’d talked to Trev and Shane too. It’s about eight thousand miles in all due to the route the winds force them to take, so my guess is around six weeks at sea if they make around eight knots on average.”
“Okay, but let’s get back to you two; you’re to stay the hell away from Bridget’s property, and no more searching for her. If she’s behind the attack on Kookaburra, she’s still got a hell of a reach. Let’s not give her a reason to go after you two.”
Lisa and Joel shared a worried look.
When Grundig returned to Carnarvon, he did as he’d been asked, writing up a request to the satellite phone company and sending it to the regional customs service commander in Fremantle. His next step was to call headquarters and be put through to a communications expert. He voiced his concerns about cellular and satellite phones.
The communications tech replied, “My brother is a cellular engineer, so I know a good bit about that system. GSM – the system we use here – is digital, so listening in directly on the frequency is no use. All you’ll hear is a hiss. It’s a digital stream, encrypted by an algorithm. However, if you have the algorithm table, which the mobile companies have to, it’s easy to intercept a call if you’re within range. There are already concerns related to industrial espionage. Now, for satellite phones, there I don’t know as much, but I do know that they still use the A5/2 algorithm that GSM phones dropped last year due to it having been cracked. The other issue there is that you don’t need to be in range of the handset; you can listen in on the satellite transmission from anywhere on that side of the planet. However, my guess is that doing this sort of thing requires a fair amount of sophistication and knowledge. It’s not something a casual eavesdropper is likely to manage.”
Grundig sighed at the bad news. “This relates to the Geraldton bombing case. We can’t rule out that they’d have the resources.”
“In that case, I’d suggest not using any sort of mobile phone for sensitive issues.”
Grundig drummed his fingers on his desk in frustration. “If those phones can be eavesdropped on, why can’t we do it to criminals?”
The communications tech chuckled. “Two reasons; one’s the law. You need a warrant. With that it can be done, but it’s easier to just use it to get the carrier to put a tap on the account. The other is that the bad guys are getting smarter; they use encryption, which scrambles their conversation and reassembles it on the other end. This can be done with software added to the phone or, for better security, a matched pair of hardware add-ons, one at each end of the call.”
Grundig’s eyes opened wide. “How can they get tech like that? And if they can, how come we can’t?”
“Easy, they buy it on the internet. Hold on a sec…” the sounds of fast typing came over the line “Here’s a decent pair of phone encryption boxes – they plug into the hands-free jack – for four hundred. I’m sure you can find them for less if you shop around.” The tech gave Grundig the URL.
To Grundig’s surprise, he received a reply on his inquiry within the hour, direct from the satellite phone company’s headquarters in the United States. A satellite phone tech – one chosen due to having worked sensitive cases before – reported that no tracking requests for Trevor’s number had been asked for or performed.
While Grundig had him on the line, he initiated a conference call with the communications tech, and explained the concerns to both. Then he asked, “Is there any way a satellite phone could be used as a tracking device but not show up during a radio emission check?”
The communications tech replied, “Sure, if it’s off. It wouldn’t be hard to rig a timer. You’d only need it on for a few seconds. Many of the newer ones could do that with just some coding in the phone’s operating system, or just a simple timer cube. Set it to transmit a few times a day but shut off the rest of the time. That’d save battery life, too.”
Grundig then listened while the communications tech discussed the matter with his counterpart at the satellite phone company, and within seconds they came up with a plan.
“I’ll do it,” Grundig said, hoping that they’d hit lucky and the suspected tracking device was on the same satellite network as Trevor’s.
Grundig phoned Trevor. “G’day, Trevor. This is Craig, from Carnarvon. All’s well here, but we’ve got to be careful what we say – phones aren’t safe. I need you to turn off any of the type of phone you’re on except the one you’re on. We need to run a bit of a test, no worries.”
Trevor recognized Grundig’s voice, though the ‘no worries’ made him decidedly uneasy. “This is the only one of that kind I have on. Uh, are things okay with, uh, your partner?”
“They’re at the monument to Shane’s ego, if you catch my drift. I’ll be letting him know in the morning. I’m positive he’d tell you the same. You’ll be hearing from him tomorrow,” Grundig replied.
As soon as he’d ended the call with Trevor, Grundig called the satellite phone company. “Okay, his is the only one on.”
The process was similar to when they’d tracked Bridget’s phone, though in this case it was somewhat easier. Grundig had given them Trevor’s satellite phone number, which gave them his phone’s unique ID. That allowed them to track it to within fifty miles. In that vast expanse of the Pacific, over a thousand miles east of New Zealand, Atlantis was the only vessel within hundreds of miles, and thus the only satellite phone. Except, as they soon saw, that was not the case. Eight hours into their search – which mainly involved checking system logs – they found what they were looking for; a brief connection, a text message sent, and then the phone shutting off instead of going into standby. They tracked it, localizing it each time to within their margin of error for Trevor’s phone. Their call to Grundig found him at home, asleep, at four in the morning. “Sir, we have a hit,” the satellite phone tech said, and went on to explain.
“Can you shut it off?” Grundig asked.
“Not without a court order – one that a U.S. judge will accept – and the phone is registered in Singapore so that might complicate matters. I’m not in the legal department, so I’m not exactly sure of the procedure,” was the reply.
“Could it be used to trigger a bomb?” Grundig asked.
“Unlikely. It shuts off after transmitting, and stays off for two hours. The window of timing is so brief that any incoming call would need to be precisely timed – though I suppose it is possible.”
“How long until it turns on again?”
“Uh… approximately one hour and forty-seven minutes, assuming it keeps to the two-hour schedule.”
Grundig, in desperation, blurted, “There are innocent lives at risk here. They’ve already tried to kill the guys on that boat. They also put a bomb on a yacht, Kookaburra, just a couple of weeks ago. This isn’t just an investigation; it’s a case of trying to stop an ongoing murder spree!”
The satellite tech hesitated, and then replied, “Look, I can’t officially do anything, but… there’s going to be a purely accidental change to that account, rendering it out of service for any incoming calls and it’ll route anything it sends to my account. That’ll hold for twenty-four hours. I’d very much appreciate it if you could get somebody to make this official though.”
“Thanks! You’ll be hearing from somebody a lot higher up than me in a few hours. Does this mean that even if it’s also a bomb, it’s safe?”
“Um, that’s a first for me… I’m guessing no, it could be on a timer or something. What I’ve just done stops anyone using the phone to send or receive, that’s all.”
“Let me get to work. Thanks again,” Grundig replied, hanging up and leaving his half-asleep and confused wife in bed. From the next room, he phoned Atlantis. Shane, who was on watch and in the salon, answered.
“G’day, Shane. This is Craig from Carnarvon. Is Trevor handy? I need you both.”
“He just got off watch, he’s asleep. I can go wake him,” Shane replied, already on his way down the galley stairs.
Soon, a sleepy Trevor joined the conversation. “We’re both here.”
At that moment, Grundig decided that speed outweighed any risk of being eavesdropped. “Good, now listen carefully. You’ve something aboard. It’s based on a satellite phone. The test we ran tracked two; yours and one other. It’s operating as a tracking device and you need to find it. The only advice I can give is it needs a clear view of the sky, blocked only by plastic or glass, not metal, same as your phone.”
“Shit,” Trevor grumbled, handing the phone to Shane and pulling on some shorts. As he did so, he said loudly, “We’ll start looking right away.”
“Uh, don’t touch it when you find it, just in case it’s got a bomb,” Grundig added.
“Oh fuck, we searched all over already,” Trevor replied, having retaken the phone.
“It probably doesn’t, and it’s probably small. Basically the guts of a satellite phone, probably. According to an expert it’d be easy to hide, and would only work where your satellite phone works.”
“That’s pretty much the whole boat,” Trevor replied, glancing around. “Any idea how long we’ve got?”
“Well,” Grundig hedged, “You’ve got at least a day to find it; they’ve disabled its ability to receive calls and act as a trigger and the tracking data has been redirected so that’s no worry now. The only real remaining issue is we’re worried that it might also be a bomb with a timer as backup, so you do need to find it. One of us will call back in a few hours. Do your best to find it. Call right away if you do, and, ah, don’t mess with it if you find it.”
With the call over, Trevor gave Shane, who had heard every word, a worried look. “This is a fucking awful way to wake up in the morning.”
“I can think of better ones,” Shane replied, frantically glancing around. “Could it have been in my stuff? We were looking for something larger before, so if we skip everything we checked then, and rule out the bilges for now, we might have an easier task.” Shane immediately began examining his many trophies.
A wild, frantic search ensued. Trevor began in the galley, looking everywhere he could think of, even inside his garlic crusher. He then moved to the salon, searching frantically. Shane joined him to report, “It’s not in my kit, but something that small could be bloody anywhere.”
Trevor had a hunch. “The light housing at the top of the mast? I’ll get the boson’s chair out.” The sea conditions were a bit rough that day, with a long swell out of the west, so going eighty feet up the mast was not a task to be taken lightly. Shane’s panicked look prompted Trevor to add, “I’ll go. I know heights aren’t your thing.”
“Let’s leave it until last. I had an idea; if we knew when they did it, it might clue us into where it is. Remember Melbourne? The police asked for your keys.”
“Shit, they did. And you know what? Some of the locks were acting up until I put graphite in ‘em. They were new and stiff, so if somebody forced ‘em… it was the salon door lock and also the crew cabin hatch.”
“That’d mean access to the whole interior,” Shane replied, shaking his head. “But that’d rule out the mast top – for now anyway.”
“It’d also mean they had to be pretty quick.” Trevor turned around, his eyes racing around the salon. “But we checked pretty well everywhere when looking for a bomb.”
They resumed their search, mentioning any ideas they had, until Shane happened to glance at the salon ceiling. “Trev, we never checked the roof.”
Trevor shook his head. “It’s hard to get the paneling down, so I just looked for marks on the screws. There weren’t any, plus there wasn’t really room for what we were looking for.”
“Yeah, but what about the light fixtures?” Shane asked, pointing to one of the halogen pucks that were part of the salon’s ceiling lighting. “Too small for what we were looking for then, but not now.”
Trevor immediately began checking them, and Shane had another thought. “What’s above the paneling?”
“It used to be just a void space, only a couple of inches over most of it, but Ned put in some honeycomb infrared insulation, to keep the salon from getting so hot in the sun. There isn’t much room left – but enough.”
“I’ll check the crew cabin; there are a few spots in there.”
Trevor kept looking, wondering if he’d need to take down the whole ceiling.
A few minutes later, Shane burst in through the salon doors. “Trev, I think I found it – I found something anyway!” he yelled, screwdriver in hand. They both dashed forward to the crew cabin access hatch and dropped down inside, treading carefully to avoid the drawer contents Shane had strewn around during his frantic search of the tiny cabin. “That doesn’t look like something that’s supposed to be in there,” Shane said, pointing at a wall light fixture that now dangled on its wires. Inside of the void space thus revealed they could see a black box - roughly the dimensions of a deck of cards – with a short cable leading to a tiny, flat, hexagonal antenna a few inches away, all attached with double-sided tape.
“That’s nothing that’s supposed to be there. I think you found it,” Trevor replied, giving Shane a relieved pat on the back, though the worry that it could be a bomb, coupled with the fact that they were over a thousand miles from the nearest land, persisted. “I’ll be right back with the phone.”
When Trevor returned, he was already on the phone to Grundig, who added the communications specialist and the satellite phone tech to the call. A few minutes later, he added the bomb disposal expert who had helped Fowler. The three experts talked mainly with each other, occasionally bouncing questions off Trevor regarding the device. Finally, they reached a consensus on what it likely was, and the phone tech said, “There’s room in it for satellite phone innards or a small bomb, not both. And that antenna is an external one for a satellite phone. The account is under our control now, so we’ll see if it keeps sending or not; the next one is due in about twenty minutes. Reach in and pull the antenna plug out.”
The bomb expert jumped in to say, “Wait. Let’s be safe. Use a string so you can pull the plug from a distance, somewhere well outside that cabin.”
“Uh, too late… I’ve already pulled it out. Should I put it back?” Trevor asked.
The bomb expert chuckled. “No need now. Let’s just wait and see to make sure that was the tracker, which is almost surely what it is.”
Trevor and Shane retreated to the salon to await the next scheduled location transmission. The phone tech waited until ten minutes after the scheduled time to be sure, and told them all, “Nothing. That’s the tracker, so it’s not a bomb.”
Trevor and Shane raced forward on deck to the crew cabin and, with the device in sight, Trevor asked, “Now what?”
“Just pull it out.”
Trevor reached in and, after taking a breath, tugged the device free. “Got it; now what?” he asked.
“It probably can’t work without the antenna; I don’t think that case is big enough to contain a usable antenna. It’ll have a battery. You might want to take that out as well, just in case, plus I’d like to know the serial number and a few other details,” the phone tech advised.
Trevor examined the black plastic box. “It’s just screwed shut, I can do that.”
Grundig said, “I’ll ask the satellite company to have another look for any signals, to make doubly sure we’ve found the right thing.”
Grundig handed the call off to the satellite phone tech, due to having other calls to make. His first action was to report the recent developments to the federal police, who began investigating the account. They would also soon acquire a court order, which made the satellite tech’s change to the account official.
In the salon, Trevor and Shane placed the tracker on the main table. Trevor soon had the cover off and the battery lead disconnected. “There, it’s dead,” he said, with a note of anger in his voice. He studied the tiny circuit board, amazed at how small it was. The satellite phone tech quizzed Trevor on the layout, and also had him read off serial numbers from the SIM and CPU.
Like most phones, much of the bulk in a satellite phone is due to the keypad, antenna, display, case, and battery. “Same make as ours,” Trevor observed, his mind racing in several different directions. “Maybe we can put it to use; we could make it watertight and put it on a float. Let Bridget and her people track that while we go the other way.”
The communications tech replied, “You could, except that’d mean they’d have to turn the account back over to whoever had it, which might be suspicious. Or not; maybe as far as they know, it looks like it just stopped working for a bit.”
Trevor’s eyes narrowed, as another idea began to take form. ‘Wairaka’ he thought, not yet ready to give it voice.
Trevor returned to the matter at hand. “Okay, can’t hurt to make it ready, in case we decide to do that. We could make a raft out of a few floats and rig a small sail. Could you do me a favor and give me your number? I might need some help testing it when I’m done.”
The satellite phone tech gave Trevor his number, and then cautioned him, “We’ve blown it already for this call, due to the need. However, be careful what you say over the phone – to anyone.”
Even though they’d been assured that they’d found the tracker, they spent much of the following day searching Atlantis for any other surprises, though they found nothing for there was nothing more to find.
The day after finding the tracking device, Trevor checked the weather and navigation systems, which let him know that it was close to decision time. He’d yet to give voice to his germ of an idea, hoping that it would prove unnecessary via some good news from his uncle, but now, time was running out.
Trevor took a deep breath and glanced at Shane. “We know Bridget was after something aboard Kookaburra. Uncle Greg knows that too, so I’m betting they’ve searched her top to bottom. Maybe there was more to find, but maybe not. We thought Bridget was after the gold, but blowing up Kookaburra at sea wouldn’t get her that. I think that means she wants either the tape or the asset list, but wants them destroyed. Too late on the asset list – it’s old and it’s been published, and according to Jim there’s not much of use on it – but what about that tape? Arnold Bellevue said on it that it’d hurt her. That’s probably what she’s really after.”
“Could be, maybe that’s why Kookaburra had a bomb and we only had a tracker. But what can we do about it? Send it to the authorities and keep hiding?”
Trevor shook his head. “We need a copy before sending it to anyone, plus hiding and waiting for the police to do stuff isn’t working. The police back home tried to stop Bridget and couldn’t. Same in Australia; they tried, but we ended up with a hit man aboard anyway, then this… we’re still in her crosshairs. We can’t just keep running; they’ll get us sooner or later. They’ve already tried to kill everyone on Kookaburra, so my best guess is they’ll come after us next. They might go after them again, too.”
“We could go to an uninhabited island in some remote part of the Pacific,” Shane suggested, only to frown as he added, “But for how long? Forever?”
Trevor glanced at the horizon, his eyes distant, thoughtful, and resolute. “Remember that statue in New Zealand? Wairaka. She saved everybody by doing what she wasn’t supposed to.” Trevor turned to look at Shane. “There’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time. I’ve been thinking about it more and more since we left Carnarvon, and I’ve been kinda toying with the idea of doing something to find out, but I didn’t want to do anything about it – we didn’t need to, then. I didn’t want to know for sure I guess, but now… if I’m right, it might be the answer.” Trevor went on to voice his concerns in detail. It took quite some time.
“That’s too much to be coincidences. I think you might be right,” Shane replied, his eyes wide with surprise.
Trevor frowned, glancing out to sea. “As for Bridget, she has a knack for getting people on the inside, like that cop in Florida she killed, and the assistant district attorney who tried to railroad Dad. They’d been in place for a long time. I’m not sure, but…”
“That does fit,” Shane agreed. He studied Trevor’s face for a moment. “The facts fit – but you don’t want to believe it.”
Trevor sighed. “I don’t want this to be true, I really don’t, but there’s just one way to find out for sure. If I’m right, I think we’ve got a way to let Bridget get exactly what she wants and end this once and for all. It should be safe as long as no one knows where we’re going…” Trevor said, and proceeded to lay out what he’d come up with.
Shane considered the idea for a moment. “I think you’re nuts, but that’s nuts enough that it might work.”
“I’ve never been sane,” Trevor said, with a weak smile.
“Of that, there can be no doubt,” Shane replied, giving Trevor a hug. “Let’s give it a burl.”
For the rest of the day, they worked on the plan, fleshing in the details together.
“How long to get there, after the course change?” Shane asked.
“About a week,” Trevor replied.
They were one thousand seven hundred miles east of New Zealand as the sun set astern that day. Trevor, in his usual shipboard attire of just a pair of shorts, stood at the helm, jaw set, shoulders back, the wind blowing in his hair. He glanced at the weather display and then at Shane, and said quietly, “It’s time.”
Trevor swept his eyes around the horizons, listening to the sounds of sea and wind. He took a breath, then another, and with an unwavering hand spun the wheel, bringing Atlantis to her new course of due north.
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