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A Bit of Piracy, Savvy?


iKrolm
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[size="3"][font="Times New Roman"]OOC: A short piece I wrote; color me inspired by Talk Like a Pirate day.
IC:

[b]Former Territories of Minilla Island: Two Years Ago[/b]

Nicholai Niu flipped a coin to the attractive barmaid as she brought yet another round to Nicholai and his companion, Neron Espinal. "So the way I figure it," Nicholai continued as she retreated out of earshot, "we need a single boat-–a fast one-–and we'll stick small. Fishing boats and such, you get it? Boats with small crews who won't fight back much. Then we pull alongside, make them an offer they can't refuse and drop them on the nearest beach while we sail to a port where no one's ever seen the boat before & sell it. We won't make much with each sale, but that's why we go after small boats in the first place: low risk means we don't have to pay the crew much so in the end, we make more money than, say, going after an oil tanker or something big like that and getting caught. You get it so far?"

Nicholai was tall for an Indonesian man, 180 centimeters but he was skinny. His long-time friend Neron was the opposite, just over 160 centimeters and with a few more kilograms one might say he was overweight however both man shared the brown eyes and brown-black hair common to half the world's population, plus a dark native-indonesian complection. "I say you're crazy," Neron anwered. "Sure, we don't have to worry about the Minilla Island navy anymore, but the Oceanic Union, meaning Selenarctos, just dumped ten thousand troops on Borneo and another twelve thousand plus two squadrons of fighter jets right here in Indonesia," Neron answered.

"I know, only twelve thousand for all of the Indonesian archipelago! There's no way they can cover everywhere so if we just play it smart and careful, we'll never have any trouble with Union soldiers. We'll stick to the small ports, only attack small ships-–none flying the Union's own colors, mind you-–and we keep moving. Too many attacks in one area will draw attention, but if we hit Sumatra, the Java Sea and the waters north of Dili, and don't hit twice in one area in a couple months we'll be fine. We take a ship on the Celebes, and sell it in Grand Papau for a nice profit--or Maluku if Papau gets it's act together, but fat chance of that hah! By the time its owner files a report with their '[i]friendly Union-backed local government representative[/i],' we'll be long gone and the boat safely sold into someone else's hands."

Nicholai took a long sip of beer, watching Neron over the bottle before he continued. "From the air, we'll look just like another fishing boat and if we get stopped, we'll say we're armed because we've heard of pirate attacks happening in the area. Hell, if we move fast enough we may be able to buy up some Minillan weapons before the Union troops get to them… I'd be the captain and I'll make you my first mate and together we'd put together a little crew of men. So, what do you say?"

Nicholai could see Neron liked the sound of First Mate Espinal, but he still looked dubious. "But we don't have a ship… Where would we get a ship?"

"Ah, now you're talking! As it just so happens, I've got my eye on a small fishing vessel that arrived in port today. Named the [i]Sari Eko[/i], after the captain's daughter, or so I hear. He's been having a bad run since the economy tanked with Minilla Island's collapse and now he's trying to sell the boat. I've already arranged a tour tomorrow, for two--you still have that pistol, right? So what do you think the name [i]Ripper[/i]?"



[b]South Celebes Sea: Present Day[/b]


Admiral Nicholai Niu (self-appointed) stood on the bridge of his flagship and the newest ship in his fleet, the [i]Abomination[/i]. Formerly a fishing schooner registered to the Union's Borneo protectorate, Nicholai had 'liberated' her last month and spent the time since refitting her for his more… adventuresome… purposes. At just over forth meters, she dwarfed the twenty-three meter [i]Fang[/i] and his former flagship, the thirty-three meter [i]Ripper[/i].

This was the [i]Abomination[/i]'s first mission since Nicholai had proclaimed her refit complete: a 105mm howitzer from the former-Sultanate Army and scheduled to be recycled had replaced the [i]Abomination[/i]'s forward net winches. It has cost an arm and a leg to obtain the gun and his mechanic spent two days just mounting it, but less would do for his flagship. Six 50 caliber machine-guns lined the [i]Abomination[/i]'s upper deck, her freezers (emptied of fish and turned off) held an arsenal of small arms and explosives, but his favorite were the pair of exocet missiles mounted on the rear of the ship: former Minilla Islander stock, they made his flagship into a real warship. They would also make sure the two Captians under him, Yuri of the [i]Fang[/i] and Viera of the [i]Ripper[/i] would think twice before deciding to strike out on the own. No, every man in Nicholai's fleet served under him and he made sure they knew it.

"Bring us three degrees towards the south," Nicholai ordered his helmsman Yair Botello as he examined the ship's navigation computer. There had been no particular reason to order the course change, but Nicholai liked to give the occasional order precisely for that reason: it kept the men on their toes. It forced Yuri and Viera to follow his lead and, though he would never admit it, he enjoyed giving orders and seeing them executed.

His fleet sailed through the south Celebes Sea, eighty nautical mile from the coast and just ten from the Papau/Borneo shipping lane in search of prey. Fishing boats registered to one of the OU protectorates were nice targets: lightly armed at best, and by the time the ship's owners had negotiated their way through the paperwork to file a complaint with the OU peacekeepers, the vessel would be sold off the vessel in some distant port that didn't ask many questions. Like the ships of his fleet, before he repurposed them.

The stolen ships didn't bring in much money, but it was enough to pay the men and keep a neat little profit for himself. Now that he had three ships though, he could afford to go after larger profit: perhaps a luxury yacht from Australia or a container ship bound right before it headed out into the Pacific. Of course he didn't really need three ships to take one of these, but it was all about appearances: if the crew of his intended victim thought they could fight him off, they might try. If they tried, undoubtedly his some of crew would get hurt which wasn't all that bad, but then his crew would demand higher pay and almost anything was preferable to that. So instead, he'd played it smart: going after the smaller targets that wouldn't fight back, the small ships with only a half dozen crew who knew they didn't stand a chance when the [i]Fang[/i] and [i]Ripper[/i] came into view.

The [i]Abomination[/i] changed things though. Sure, maybe you and your cargo ship crew could hold off a boat or two of men as they threw ropes from their smaller vessels and up climbed to your deck, but what could you do staring down the barrel of a howitzer? No, better to surrender while you still had the chance-Nicholai was sure merchant captains would see the logic in that. Still relatively little risk for him and his crew but now a larger payoff. All in all, things were looking good.

"Admiral, sir, I think I've a boat for us," Nicholai's radar operator Bruno Malave interrupted his thoughts.

"A ship, Mr. Malave, if we're interested in it then it's a ship." Nicholai replied with more annoyance then he really felt. Bruno was new to his crew-–new to ships in fact, a young kid on his first time away from his sustenance farmer family on Borneo-–but he'd proved remarkably good with the ship's computers and radar.

"Yes, Admiral, sir, a ship. It looks like a small container ship: I can't tell for sure, but I'd guess around sixty meters and she looks loaded, sir," Bruno replied, not looking up from the radar's screen.

Nicholai didn't know how the kid did it: the radar was an antique, barely functional and a range only slightly further than the horizon yet Bruno could not only pick out a ship but also guess its size and that it was loaded. "I'm intrigued: what's the heading?"

"Almost due west and heading towards us: at fifteen knots, we'll intercept in under an hour."

"Very well. Bring us to Malave's course Mr. Botello, and alert the [i]Fang[/i] and [i]Ripper[/i] to follow us?"

"Aye, Admiral, I'm on," helmsman Yair Botello replied, spinning the [i]Abomination[/i]'s wheel and radioing the orders to Nicholai's other ships.

Sure enough, fifteen minutes later the cargo vessel in question appeared over the horizon with a full load of containers. It looked a little high in the water so maybe not all of its continuers were full, but a worthy prize none-the-less. "What are her colors, Mr. Espinal?" Nicholai asked as Nicholai's first mate Neron arrived on the bridge with a large pair of binoculars.

"OU Protectorate I believe, sir," Neron replied. "Named the the [i]Island Spirit[/i]. She's flying a Minilla Island flag but they're allowed to do that as long as they've re-registered with the Union."

"Mr. Malave, any other vessels on the radar?" Nicholai asked.

"Just a fishing boat or two, Admiral, sir," Bruno replied.

"Very well: sound the general alert and bring us in. When we're in range, place a warming shot across their bow with the howitzer and bring me the short-range radio."

Perhaps thirty minutes later, with the container ship a hundred meters to their starboard, Nicholai (still on the bridge) dropped his gaze from the [i]Island Spirit[/i] to the bow of the [i]Abomination[/i] where three of his men were cranking up the howitzer's elevation. "Gun ready, sir," Neron reported as the gunnery chief waved up at the bridge's windows.

"Very well: fire," Nicholai ordered, projecting an aura of calm control over the situation. This was their biggest target to date; a real cargo vessel, loaded with who-knows-what: personally, he hoped for electronics, Ceylon-made if they were especially, or perhaps munitions--they were always fetched a good price on any market plus he could keep the best pieces for himself.

The howitzer's boom rattled the bridge's glass windows and shook the boat, but the shot flew true: arching up and in front of the [i]Island Spirit[/i] to splash down a few hundred meters on the other side of her. "My complements to the gunner," Nicholai said as he took the hand-held radio Neron offered him.

"Attention crew of the [i]Island Spirit[/i]," Nicholai began. "This is Admiral Niu of the [i]Abomination[/i]. You are hereby ordered to strike your colors, disengage your prop and prepare to be boarded. If you comply peacefully, you will not be harmed. If you attempt to resist or signal for help, then measures will be taken to ensure your complaisance. You have sixty seconds to reply."

The [i]Island Spirit[/i]'s captain didn't keep him waiting a quarter of that. "This is Captain Rocher of the [i]Island Spirit[/i]. We shall comply with your demands. My crew shall stand down, you may come aboard," the radio responded.

"An excellent choice Captain Rocher, it's always a pleasure to work with a man of reason and intelligence. We shall be taking possession of your ship for a short time, before releasing her to the open market. Your crew shall be treated humanely until the first possible chance I have to release you in a Union protectorate; after that, you shall be free to go as you please. Right now, however, the [i]Fang[/i] shall pull along side and members of her crew shall board your own ship. Please assist the men in any way they ask, or there will be consequences. Have I made myself clear, Captain?"

There was another short pause before the radio replied, "Perfectly clear Admiral. My crew and I will comply so long as none of them are harmed."

Nicholai clicked off the radio and turned to Bruno who has moved from the radar screen to a communications console. "Any radio transmissions, Mr. Malave?" Nicholai asked.

"Nothing that looks like an SOS, Admiral sir." Bruno answered.

"Very well, signal the [i]Ripper[/i] to begin it's approach."

It took an hour before the token crew from the [i]Ripper[/i] reported they were familiar enough with the [i]Island Spirit[/i] to reengage her prop and begin the voyage to a port where they could sell her. Nicholai had used the time to selected the port: a small town in southern Sumatra. Sure, they had an government now but it couldn't be [i]that[/i] organized in such a short time and the growth that came with a new government always prompted a strong demand for ships and industrial goods–-machining equipment, as the [i]Island Spirit[/i] turned our to be carrying. Nicholai was just about to give the order for his fleet to move out when a shout from the deck reported a ship approaching from their rear.

Nicholai watched the two men he expected to receive reports from jump into action: Bruno sliding from the comm console to the radar console and Yair Botello grabbing a pair of binoculars and rushing out the bridge door for a clear view behind the [i]Abomination[/i].

"Just a fishing boat Admiral," Bruno answered first, seconds before Yair Botello raced back into the bridge white-faced.

"Sir! That's the mother of all frigates out there, and it's bearing straight down on us!" Yair stammered.

Nicholai's jaw dropped. "Binoculars!" He demanded, grabbing them from Yair's hands on his way our the door. The humid tropical air melted through his clothes as he left the air-conditioned bridge but he ignored it, staring through the binoculars at the monstrosity bearing down on them at twenty knots, at least. It was a Frigate. Maybe not the mother of all frigates, but it was a genuine Grade A warship at least a hundred meters long flying the blue-and-red pentagons of Selenarctos.

Nicholai lowered the binoculars slowly, his mind working rapidly. He couldn't tell if the guns were deployed or not. It occurred to him that didn't know what a frigate's deployed guns looked like, but he'd seen pictures of the Duwende Class Frigate and knew one was bearing down on him now: painted gray and built from angled lines and flat edges that looked more like concrete bunker than a warship. He'd known they were stealthy, but he hadn't known what that meant until today: apparently it meant they looked like a fishing vessel on radar. He could turn and run, try to go faster than their frigate but he doubted he could and he knew he couldn't outrun their missiles, their own Exocets or whatever they used. He also couldn't bring the [i]Island Spirit[/i] with him if he did, and probably not the [i]Ripper[/i] either: they'd just slow him down.

"Mr. Espinal?" Neron had left the bridge to join him staring at the destroyer, fifteen clicks away and closing. "Arm the Exocets and prepare to bring us about. They'll probably expect us to negotiate holding the crew hostage--which we will--but first, there's no way they know we're packing missiles."

He raised the binoculars again Neron left to issue his orders, and held them to his face until Bruno tapped him on the shoulder to hand him the short-range radio again.

"Admiral Nui?" The radio said, "This is Captain Vallejo of the Selenarctos Ship Alcasid. You are hereby ordered to strike your colors, disengage your prop and prepare to be boarded. If you comply peacefully, you will not be harmed." Nicholai's mouth dropped for a second time as the frigate's Captain recited his own surrender speech back to him. The !@#$%^&!

Nicholai stormed back into the bridge; frigate or not, he had three ships to [i]Captain[/i] Vallejo's one. "Captain Vallego, is it?" Nicholai deliberately mispronounced the man's name, "I need a moment to confer with my crew." Then he switched off the radio. "What's our range?"

"Thirteen clicks and closing," Bruno answered. "The Exocet controls say they can lock on, but I still can't see it well with our radar."

"Don't bother, it's stealthed. Launch the exocets and bring us about to engage with the howitzer. Signal the [i]Ripper[/i] and [i]Fang[/i] to move to cover our port and starboard respectively."

"Sir?" Bruno looked worried.

"Do it," Nicholai repeated, ending any chance of discussion.

Nicholai stepped out of the bridge again as the roar of the two launching Exocets engulfed the ship. They rose on twin pillars of fire, accelerating upwards then curving back downwards to level off just meters above sea level, homing in on the poor frigate. Yet even as he watched, a rapid stream of bullets lanced our from the frigate towards the first missile. A burst of large caliber round or tracers (he could see their trails in plain daylight) tore in front of the lead missile, then behind it, then scored a direct hit dropping it into the sea. Before he realized what was happening, Nicholai's second missile suffered a hit and dropped into the blue ocean as well.

"Keep bringing us about!" Nicholai shouted through open bridge door, even as the hope he'd briefly fostered left him. With the Exocets, they might have stood a chance. Without them, they might as well be throwing rocks at a cannon. Captain Vallejo knew it too. Three heavy shots echoed from the frigate, each splashing down less then ten meters in front of Nicholai's three ships--one per ship. He watched frozen, paralyzed, as a helicopter rose from the frigate and began chopping it's way towards the [i]Island Spirit[/i].

Nicholai gripped the railing in front of him instinctively. He knew the order he had to give. He knew it was not over yet, that they still had the crew as hostages, that the frigate could not truly attack them as long as they had those hostages, but he could not. He could not open his mouth, he could not call Neron, he could only watch helplessly as the helicopter came closer and closer.

"Your orders, sir!" Neron was right beside him now and the helicopter was right over the [i]Island Spirit[/i]. "We're committed, we can't back out now, Admiral." Neron paused. "Nicholai, pull yourself together! What are your orders!?" Still Nicholai could say nothing. The [i]Abomination[/i] had completed it's turn, the howitzer was facing the frigate but he could say nothing. "ADMIRAL!"

Nothing. Neron spun away and reentered the bridge as the helicopter dropped ropes and combat-armored soldiers rapelled down to the [i]Island Spirit[/i]'s deck. "I am assuming command. Fire the howitzer across [i]their own[/i] bow and get me on the radio with that frigate and our boys on the cargo ship. I want that frigate to know that if it moves so much as a millimeter, we start killing civilians!"

The shooting on the [i]Island Spirit[/i] started before Bruno passed Neron the radio as bursts of automatic SMG and assault rifle fire were suppressed with astonishing speed and brutality by the frigate's Advanced Boarding Team. The howitzer shot seemed almost like an afterthought and though its boom momentarily drowned out the firefight on the [i]Island Spirit[/i], and though the frigate was now only eight clicks away the shot missed by a good five hundred meters or more.

No one on the [i]Abomination[/i] heard the Advanced Boarding Team nor even had a chance of intercepting the Advanced Boarding Team's encrypted radio traffic as they announced the acquisition of thirteen hostages alive and unharmed, the [i]Island Spirit[/i]'s entire crew, but they did hear the 100mm naval shell fired from the frigate's main battery and felt the shell score a direct hit in the [i]Abomination[/i]'s bridge. For self-appointed Admiral Nicholai Niu, it was the last thing he ever felt.

EDIT: fixed italics[/font][/size]

Edited by iKrolm
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