The constant roar of the helicopter's rotors thrummed overhead as the Seattle skyline faded away behind them. Burn was sifting through his compartmentalized satchel, ensuring the detonators were separate from the charges until he was ready to set them. Whisper sat in silent meditation with his eyes closed. He was dressed in little more than a black body suit that seemed to be covered in seemingly random hidden pockets with all his equipment stored away.
Red sat in the copilot seat and was accessing AR, as he searched for the boat's signal. He sent out a ping every few seconds, seeing if they were making up ground on the craft. Dakota sat slumped over in the pilot's seat, as she was jacked into the aircraft, constantly making course corrections following what she had calculated as the best route for the target to have taken in order to reach Bangkok in the quickest time, with the fewest ports. Once they arrived in Thailand, their cargo would be gone, taken to Phnom Penh and lost to the jungles.
"We've got a hit!" Red said and he relayed the telemetry to Dakota. The Hughes Stallion lurched sideways as Dakota changed course to intercept the craft. Whisper leaned smoothly with the roll of the craft, but Burn practically fell from his seat, as he tried to stand to look out toward their quarry.
As they flew overhead, Burn looked down at the small yacht. It was an older craft, but still seaworthy. Still it looked small for what it was reportedly carrying. "You sure that's it?" Burn asked.
"According to the intel I found, she's inconspicuously small and her aft compartment's been modified to be like a coffin motel. Pack as many bodies into the hull as they can then set out."
"All right, well, time's a-wastin'. Confucius, you ready to go?"
By the time Burn looked back to Whisper, the man had stood up and harnessed himself to the helicopter, ready to lower down to the deck. "More ready than you, it would seem."
The ork scowled and retrieved his charges before clipping himself to the harness system. "Ready to go, Dakota."
The Stallion looped around and hovered over the aft deck of the yacht. "Be careful down there. She's out of position from where I figured she would be. Either her navigator isn't too bright, or they knew we were coming and tried to avoid us."
Burn brandished his pistol and chambered a round. "I know I'm ready for them. Let's do this."
Whisper leapt out of the side of the helicopter with Burn close behind. The two had a moment of freefall before they applied the brakes on their lines and came to a sliding stop a meter above the boat. Pulling the release, the two runners dropped to the deck.
Burn swept the area visually, keeping his gun raised. "Comms check. Can everyone hear me?"
"Loud and clear," Dakota responded. "Just let us know when you've got the boat secured."
"I hear ya," Whisper responded.
"Good. I'll take over the bridge. Whisper, you find our cargo, all right?"
Burn turned to look at Whisper only to find out he was already gone. "I'll take that as a yes."
Seeing no one on the deck, Burn made his way toward the cabin, which was up a flight of stairs from the main deck. "Any signs of life from up there?" Burn asked as he neared the stairs up to the bridge.
"Nothing. I'm not even getting any signals from commlinks," Red said. "Something's weird here."
Burn cautiously advanced up the stairs, keeping his pistol ready. He rose to the door of the enclosed bridge. He closed his hand on the door handle and tried to open it but it was locked. "Door's locked. I'm going in." Burn closed his cybernetic hand over the door handle and wrenched on it. Springs broke free and the wood cracked from the force as Burn put his shoulder to the door. As the door flew open, Burn raised his weapon.
The bridge was empty. The amenities were a little out of date, but the ship's computers were all online and guiding the ship on its way.
"It's empty," Burn relayed. "This thing's on autopilot."
"Not good. Burn, hook your commlink up to the navigator," Dakota said.
Burn crossed the carpeted space and pulled the retractable cable from his commlink and jammed it into the data port set into the bridge's console.
After a pause, Dakota said, "I think you'd better get out of there. This ship is set up on a dummy course. It's just a straight line across the Pacific."
"Isn't that the fastest way?"
"Not when you factor in that there are at least three major islands in the way, air and ocean currents, as well as needing to stop for fuel, food and water. This ship was never going to make it to Bangkok with these instructions."
"What the hell is going on? Whisper, you have any luck?"
Whisper had crept through the rooms under the main deck and something was definitely off. There were no sign of inhabitants; no mess, no food and no signs of recent activity. He had noticed a bulge in the floor of the ship that was buried under new carpet, so someone had definitely done some modifications to the original design. It was likely that the ship had been altered for smuggling, but the work was definitely second rate.
Making his way through the empty kitchenette, there was a short hallway that led past several crew bunks. The bunks were stripped of any sheets, showing only bare, tired mattresses.
"Whisper, you have any luck?" Burn asked over the comm.
"Nothing yet. There doesn't appear to be any crew on board. I've got a bad feeling about this," Whisper said, moving further astern.
"You too, huh? The navigational data's all shit. This thing's looking like a decoy. You guys have anything to report up there?"
"I've got nothing on radar and Red's digging for further leads. Isn't this boat a bit expensive to use as a decoy?"
"When you've got as much money as the Triads, perhaps it was more worthwhile for them to cut their losses once they learned we were onto them," Burn suggested.
"Hey, I wasn't traced. There's no way they knew we'd be coming," Red defended.
Coming to the end of the hallway, Whisper came across a locked door. Unlike the rest of the ship, the door was very new, using reinforced plastisteel and a pair of heavy bolted locks. "I may have something here," Whisper said. "A reinforced locked door. Very different from everything else on the ship."
"Well, maybe there was some truth to the rumours after all," Burn said. "Can you get in?"
"Give me a few minutes," Whisper said. Reaching into one of the many pockets on his custom suit, Whisper produced a set of lockpicks and went to work on the locks that secured the door. He pushed the tumbler pick into the hole and wiggled it around until he felt each pin fall away and he smiled as the first of the two locks fell open.
Repeating the process with the second lock, it was only slightly more complicated than the first lock, but as the second lock fell open, he said, "I'm in. I'm going to sweep the interior"
"Go for it. Hopefully, this hasn't been a total waste of time," Burn replied.
Whisper pulled out a Memory Blade and held it at the ready as he slowly turned the handle on the door. He quickly jerked it open and stepped into the darkened room beyond. As the door opened, Whisper heard the metal twang of a tripline severing. The room lit up with numerous digital readouts, activating with a five second countdown. The red hue from the detonators revealed that the room was full of barrels of explosive. A wire ran under the floor leading back the way he came. The bulge under the carpet had been a buried chain of charges, running along the keel of the boat.
As the timers counted down from five, Whisper leaned heavily on the doorframe in defeat.
Burn ran out of the bridge, ready to go down to the deck. "Whisper, get out!"
Burn was thrown up, through the roof of the bridge as the rear of the boat exploded outward. The explosion ran along the entire boats length, reducing the entire boat to a spray of fiery splinters in seconds. Burn was vaguely aware of commlink chatter but his ears had cut out, thanks to the damper built into his cybernetic replacements, reducing everything to a dim whisper.
There was a sense of weightlessness as Burn hurtled through the air. His clothes, skin and hair were burning thanks to his proximity to the blast. He thought about his past in that brief moment. He had lost his arm and hearing due to an industrial blast years before and now another explosion was going to take his life.
He was roughly roused from his revelry as he struck the ocean hard. He plunged into the frigid salt water with a heavy crack that doused the fire but seared his skin at the same time. The cold shocked him awake enough that he instantly began scrambling for the surface. He felt like he would never make it when he finally gasped the air again and surveyed the area.
The ocean was on fire all around him. His damper had still cut out as it tried to sort itself out from the blast. Disoriented, Burn swam over to a floating piece of deck board and draped himself over it. He stabbed the button on his commlink to set it to Active mode before passing out from exhaustion and falling prey to the ocean current.