TITLE: Numb3rs: Speared
Disclaimer – I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Numb3rs and its characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended. No financial reward gained. All real organisations are used in a fictional sense. Original characters and the storyline are mine however.
A/N: Standalone fic but revisits some characters and locations from my fic "A Nice Day Out". Written for Rinne (Rinkle at LJ) for the Numb3rs Exchange challenge at Live Journal, Summer 2008. This version is the original, the one on LJ was necessarily modified to conceal the author.
SPOILERS: "When Worlds Collide"
The small zodiac bumped gently against the side of the much larger luxury cruiser. Two figures climbed stealthily onto the deck and the zodiac moved away, paddled by a third man. The cruiser was at anchor and there was no sign of life onboard.
The two men stayed together for a few seconds, orienting themselves on the rear deck. A quick check confirmed that the powerboat secured on the aft deck as a tender was unoccupied. It was a size of craft that a lot of Californians would have considered a reasonably decent day boat. The two men shared a look that confirmed they'd both had the same thought. Some people just had too much money.
One man kept watch whilst the other crept closer to the rear door and tried to peer in through the dark tinting. This close the second man could see that the cabin was illuminated but despite that he couldn't see past the blinds that were also drawn into place. He turned back to his dark haired companion and shook his head. No go. A few hand signals later the two men split and one went up on either side of the superstructure, heading towards the wheelhouse.
"Are you sure?"
"No. That's why I'm passing it to you like this." DEA Agent Cam Gideon answered. "We don't think there is enough in it to run with, not at the moment anyway. My bosses have pulled the operation now that everything has changed. All we do know is that they were supposed to be on a luxury cruiser waiting at that anchorage."
"So you suspect that they are smuggling people and high end stolen jewellery, maybe some drugs but don't have enough to pull a full raid?" Special Agent Don Eppes, of the Los Angeles FBI office said into the phone summing up the last five minutes of conversation.
"Not any more. We already have the warrant but I have another op in the works so I can't spare anyone for some recon. I thought you might be interested."
Don ran his hand down his face and looked around the nearly empty office. It was just after noon on a Sunday and the day was pretty much on a go slow. David was on a day off, something to do with a family commitment. They were still waiting for Megan's replacement which left just him and Colby to hold the fort in their section. So far, with semi-overcast weather and mild temperatures nothing had gone wrong today. Truth to be told he was itching to go outside and had been about to suggest to Colby that they take a cruise in the Suburban to see what they might find, try a few known haunts, shake a few trees, that sort of thing.
"Just one problem, we don't have a boat."
"No problem at all. It just so happens that the Seahawk is in harbour."
"The Seahawk?" Don repeated. Not so sure he liked the sound of that, last time he was on the Coast Guard Cutter, Cam in the guise of a drug trafficker had held a gun against his head. Whilst he had forgiven Cam who had been undercover at the time, he had not forgiven the other two traffickers, one of whom was now dead. As a result and through no fault of the Seahawk or her crew, he had some negative associations with the vessel. But then he recalled that he also had a positive association, the thought of which lightened his mood.
"I've already been liaising with Lieutenant Dylan and she was ready to help us out. I'm sure she could run you guys out and back you up." Cam continued, seemingly not noticing the slightly flat tone that had been in the agent's voice.
Sarah Dylan Don remembered very well. He kept his thoughts professional, she ran a tight little ship and wasn't afraid to get into the action. "Does she know that you've pulled the pin?"
"Yeah, just got off the phone with her. They were all set to go but the fleet of boats we were expecting to be led by the cruiser just never eventuated and everything has fallen kinda flat. Just the cruiser has shown and we don't think there will now be anything to find. We got this other big job and have to send our resources that way. We don't need the Seahawk any more."
"So you think there is nothing in it today, but would like us to check it out for you." Don concluded.
"Yeah. I just got this feeling that someone should still take a look, you know?"
He did know. Sometimes it just worked like that, a hunch with nothing to back it up. Nine times out of ten you were wrong, but that one time in ten was the kicker, worth the other nine. Well, he'd wanted to go out and troll around to see if they could find some action and Cam was offering him some on a platter. Something different too, a trip out to sea and just because it went pear-shaped last time didn't mean anything would go wrong this time.
"Okay. Why not? I got Colby here and we got nothing on, so sure."
"Thanks Don. Let me know how it goes."
Cam left Don the direct phone number for the Seahawk and he spent a few minutes speaking with Lieutenant Dylan teeing everything up. As the Coast Guard had been ready to roll for the DEA's operation there was nothing they needed to do to be ready for the FBI. They already had all the DEA's intel and the location of the target vessel was programmed into their navigation system. The weather in the area the vessel was anchored was not as pleasant as on shore, a series of drizzly showers were obscuring the area reducing visibility. Those conditions however were perfect for a snappy recon mission.
The plan was to approach the vessel, board and covertly search it before leaving it with hopefully the owners unaware. The warrant faxed over from the DEA was still good. The vessel had been seen to arrive earlier that morning; a powerboat had gone out from shore with one man and had returned to shore with several men. Cam had them under loose surveillance due to his limited manpower and the vessel was believed to be unoccupied. Their mission was to gather whatever intel they could, numbers, names, copies of maps and such like that could lead the DEA to piece together exactly what this crew were into.
"Hey Colby, heads up we got a job." Don outlined the situation to the junior agent.
"Cool." It had been a little while since his last water-ops training and he was looking forward to putting some of it into practice. "I'll get the gear."
An hour and a half later they were walking up the gangplank onto the Seahawk, each carrying a bag containing their specialised equipment.
"So let me get this straight, this is the exact same boat where you had that run-in with the drug traffickers that time?" Colby queried as they stopped on the deck. He eyed his boss carefully, that had been a close run thing from what he had told them, being held at gunpoint, beaten and almost taken from the Seahawk onto a gun runner's boat. That could bring back some nasty memories but his boss seemed to be taking it all in stride. Something Colby was not too surprised about on reflection.
"This is the one."
"Agent Eppes, pleased to see you again." A female voice called from above them.
Don and Colby looked up to the small deck at the rear of the wheelhouse and saw the trim figure of the lieutenant. It was Don who answered her. "Lieutenant Dylan. Thanks for the ride."
"No problem." She made her way down the ladder to the deck.
Colby noticed the warm smiles that flitted across two faces before being quickly filed away behind professional masks. Pretending he hadn't noticed the subtle interplay between the two he made his greetings as they were escorted inside. He figured that his boss and the lieutenant had experienced a personal encounter somewhere along the way. Something else he was not surprised about as he covertly ran an appreciative eye over the lieutenant.
"If it's alright with you we might do some safety inspections while you conduct your search." Dylan said as she watched them sort their gear on one of the saloon tables.
"Sounds like a good cover for us." Don agreed. If anyone were to notice the activity on the suspect boat having the others nearby boarded by the Coast Guard for safety inspections would effectively disguise their real purpose. It would take a close observer to see that their black vests were labelled 'FBI' in dull grey lettering and were not self inflating life jackets but neutrally buoyant ballistic vests with tactical harnesses.
It took a further hour and a half to get on site, by which time it was starting to get darker with the intermittent drizzle. The Seahawk was holding station a short distance away from the anchorage, far enough out that her engines on idle were unlikely to be heard.
"Do you want some of my crew to go with you?" Dylan repeated her earlier offer as they prepared to board the zodiac in the Seahawk's stern dock.
Don shook his head, glancing at the boarding party standing ready. "No. Stick with the safety inspections on the other boats as planned."
"Okay. You've got the radio to call us if there are any problems?"
Don patted the pouch on his vest containing the small handheld radio. As with the rest of their gear it was fully waterproof.
The zodiac took them most of the way under the power of its outboard motor. When they got closer however their young skipper cut the motor and pulled out a paddle. Colby grabbed the other one and they paddled in silently. Even with the intel suggesting the vessel was unoccupied it paid to be cautious. After reaching the target they floated off for a few long moments just watching for signs of life. There was nothing. Don nodded and they moved in, climbing stealthily onto the rear deck. After a quick thumbs up the zodiac paddled away, heading back to the Seahawk to pick up their boarding party to start their non-convert inspections.
Now moving along the side of the cabin Don checked each window but as Colby had found with the cabin windows facing the stern deck each was covered with a tightly fitted blind. He moved slowly and quietly, his continued caution rewarded when he thought he heard a voice. He stopped and listened carefully and seconds later heard a second male voice. Another moment and he was sure that the voices were live, not from a television or radio. Quietly he pulled his primary weapon from its holster then activated his radio.
"Colby, caution. There are men onboard." He whispered.
"At least two."
"What do you want to do?" Colby's equally hushed voice queried. "Execute the warrant?"
"Recon and assess first." Don advised. Those involved in smuggling, whether of people, valuables or drugs were dangerous as his first hand experience could attest. The DEA wanted intel; he would try and get it. The DEA had suggested that a covert raid would be optimum given the circumstances but that may not be possible now. With the cabin occupied there would be no other way to gain any information without overtly executing the warrant. He didn't want to leave with nothing. If there were just the two men it was worth the risk, if there were more they would slip away as quietly as they had came to consult with the DEA before coming back better prepared.
He considered calling the zodiac back but discarded that. Even paddled by hand the approach of the small boat may be noticed and he didn't want to risk that unnecessarily. They could swim away if they had to. He leant back against the cabin wall and tried to hear what was being said inside. Pressing his ear against the fibreglass only made it possible for him to tell that the voices were male and that there were at least two, nothing else. He moved forward a little more in the hope that the cabin wall may be thinner and allow more sound through.
His stealth was shot all to hell a moment later. The shrill noise sent a jolt of adrenalin through his body. Instantly recognising the sound there was no time for self recrimination as he scrabbled furiously in his pocket for the offending instrument. A moment later he got it stopped as it was just starting on the second burst. He'd slipped the cell phone into his pocket as he'd geared up intending to take it out just before they got into the zodiac but clearly he'd forgotten. Unlike the rest of his gear it wasn't waterproof. He should have taken the additional safety measure regardless and switched it to vibrate instead of ring, but he hadn't. He couldn't help but be furious at himself for the rookie mistake.
He was frozen in place, weapon up and scanning as he listened through the cabin wall. The ebb and flow of the voices continued their muffled conversation as if nothing had happened. Could he be so lucky? He waited a little longer but still no change. Releasing his pent up breath he forced himself to relax, by some miracle his blunder had not been noticed. Perhaps the thickness of the cabin walls had come to his aid. His pulse settling back to a more reasonable rhythm he started moving forwards once again. Hopefully he would be able to see inside the cabin area via another window further forward. Passing each one he checked but all were covered by blinds.
"How much longer, Tolya?"
"Not long, we-" The second man started to answer. His boss could be too impatient at times. Not that Tolya would ever tell him so of course, he valued his life. It would take time for those that had gone ashore to prepare the meet. This dry run with just the one boat had so far gone to plan but experience had taught him that you could never be sure. A sudden unexpected sound from the other side of the bulkhead interrupted him. It stopped quickly but he had recognised it, as had his boss. So much for plans.
"Who's out there?"
"No one." Tolya replied, looking around the cabin at the rest of their men. Everyone was accounted for.
"You and you, keep talking." Kamenev ordered, pointing at Tolya and one of the other men. As they started a banal conversation he headed towards a cabin window and peered carefully around the edge of the blind.
A short distance away he saw a zodiac alongside a nearby boat. The inflatable craft was clearly marked with the last thing he had wanted to see, 'USCG'. He also saw a man moving openly along the side deck of the other boat. The American Coast Guard were boarding boats in the anchorage. To his suspicious mind that meant only one thing, the Americans were not just looking for something they were looking for them. The cell phone ring that he'd just heard through the bulkhead of his own boat confirmed that they had also been boarded. He returned to his men.
"It's a raid." He gave a quick description of what he'd seen. He waved his hand in the air in a circling motion, keep talking. Tolya and Maksim obediently continued their conversation.
Kamenev moved to the bulkhead and listened carefully for movement along the side deck. He was rewarded with a slight scraping noise and then another as the raider apparently believing he'd been undetected resumed his path, heading towards the front of the boat. He turned back to his lieutenant noting that he and the other men had now drawn their weapons.
"No. That'll just alert them." Kamenev went to the rack at the rear of the cabin and carefully selected a weapon. Checking the gauge on the side he saw that it was ready, he always kept these weapons primed. Handing it to Tolya he pointed towards the side door. The Coast Guard officer would be passing it shortly if the soft footsteps were any indication.
"There will be more than one." Tolya objected softly, hefting the one-shot weapon.
"I have only heard this one here. We take him quietly then search for the other."
Tolya could be happy with that. He was also going to enjoy this, having always wanted to try this style of weapon out on a man. He moved to the door and waited for the raider to pass before pulling it open, weapon already lowered and aimed at where the raider should be.