BLACK LAGOON

Crimson Atoll

PROLOGUE

Widi Sukandar watched in satisfaction as her men herded the crew of the large freighter at gunpoint towards the deck of the ship. She could see, could feel, the terror on the crewmembers as they were arranged on the deck like cattle. Sukandar liked that, she enjoys seeing fear on the eyes of her prey.

Sukandar didn't fit the description of a pirate. The daughter of an Indonesian man and a Dutch mother, she is almost six foot tall with blue-black hair, very white skin and a figure that could easily win her a stint on fashion magazines. Her white robe didn't hide her magnificent physique, especially her gigantic breasts that look as if it will leap out of her exposed cleavage. But her eyes are cold and predatory, as if she will pounce on her victim like a viper. Her men treated her with respect and greatly feared her displeasure. Widely known as the queen of the pirates, Sukandar is ruthless and brutal on her victims and even on her own men that didn't meet her criteria.

Sukandar is standing on the deck, arms crossed on her chest as she watches her men doing their work. She drilled her men for many, many months and she was not disappointed by the results. Once a group of ragtag, untrained, spray-and-pray idiots, her pirate group has swelled to almost a hundred men armed with state-of-the-art weapons and well-trained on combat. Of course, they have to do their best on training or Sukandar would have torture and/or kill them just by falling behind. On the opposite, Sukandar could be very compassionate and generous when her demands are met. She pampered them with money and other perks that made them very happy. This regimen forged her men into hardened high-sea raiders, loyal to her and her alone.

"Madame, all crewmembers had been accounted for," her second-in-command Ali reported. Shorter than Sukandar, Ali is a Filipino with dark-skin and well-muscled physique. He is cradling a high-tech-looking Heckler and Koch G36 rifle with one hand. On his belt are a .45 caliber pistol and a large knife with a very fat blade, its carabao-horn handle jutting out of its thick leather sheath. Called a barung, the knife was used by Muslim warriors in Mindanao for centuries. It is said that with enough force, a barung knife could cut M14 rifles with one slash.

"Very good," Sukandar nodded. Like all her men, she is also heavily armed. Her G36 hung on her side. An H&K USP pistol is on her belt, as well as two wicked-looking barbeque tongs that could be describe as combat pincers. Each weapon is two feet long with jagged teeth on the tips that could grab and tear flesh from the bone. Sukandar loves these tongs for close combat; she could use one to grip and rip a weapon-wielding hand of an opponent then use the other one to rip off the man's throat – or his testicles.

Sukandar walked closer to their hostages cowering in fear. They refused to look at the deadly beauty standing in front of them. A dozen pirates guarded the crewmembers with their H&K rifles. Unlike other pirate gangs on the South China Sea, Sukandar's men are the only ones armed with modern German-made weapons. From all the money that they seized, Sukandar made sure her men gets the best weapons money could buy. With proper maintenance, the G36's are surprisingly robust and reliable in the sea and jungle of Southeast Asia. They are also much more accurate and have a longer kill range than the famed AK-47 rifles, perfect for raiding ships in the middle of the sea.

"Who is your captain?" asked Sukandar in perfect English.

A man in white uniform bravely stood up. He is a tall Chinese, about 40 years old. "I am captain," he said. "You are hijacking a ship that belongs to the People's Republic of China."

Without another word, Sukandar drew her USP pistol, aimed it at the captain's head and fired one shot. The man's head exploded in a rain of blood and brains, his corpse tumbling head over heels. Sukandar looked pleased as she witnessed the fear on the crew's eyes tripled. She reholstered her pistol and pointed at a man cowering in fear. One of her men pulled him out of the crowd of hostages. The pirates watched in amusement as the hostage was brought in the center of the deck. They knew what was coming.

Sukandar tossed her rifle and pistol to Ali. "Give him a weapon," she ordered, drawing her tongs. One of the pirates handed the terrified man a machete.

Sukandar stood with her tongs ready. "You kill me, and you all go free," she said to the man.

The Malaysian crewmember knew nothing about combat, but he thought he could easily kill Sukandar. After all, he is armed with a long, bladed knife and the bitch only has ridiculous-looking tongs. Surely, he could win.

With a shout, the crewmember attacked, raising his machete up in the intent of splitting Sukandar's head like a coconut. Sukandar simply waited him to get close, then trapped the man's wrist with one of his tongs and squeezed hard. The crewman screamed in pain and dropped his machete, then Sukandar mercilessly locked her other tong on the man's neck. She could hear the crack as the trachea was crushed and the man fell dead on the deck.

Her men erupted in cheers. Sukandar nodded and in cue, her men opened fire in unison. Blood and gore exploded as the crew were massacred in a hail of bullets. The pirates made sure no one survives, going body to body and putting rounds on the heads of the men.

Ali approached her with a smile on his face. "Madame, we have found the packages. It's positive."

"Bring one out," Sukandar ordered.

Despite being lifted by eight well-built pirates, one of the large casket-like boxes took a few minutes to be transported to the deck. The heavy metal casket is dull gray in color, with an ominous radioactive sign on top which gives a clue on what's inside. It was sealed by an ordinary padlock that was easily broken by one shot from Ali's rifle. They opened the casket and breathed a sigh in amazement.

Twelve gray, cylindrical rods about fifteen inches long and four inches thick rested on anti-shock foam. Sukandar couldn't resist the urge; she held out her hand and touched one of the rods. It was warm.

"Jackpot," she muttered, smiling at Ali. She sealed the casket shut and quickly washed her hands on a sink nearby. "Take all the cases to our boats," she ordered. "Plant explosives on the hull and sink this ship. Leave no evidence."

Thirty minutes later, Sukandar's small flotilla of speed boats left as the freighter slowly sinks under the waves. In their possession are six metal caskets. Sukandar managed a tight lip smile as her men celebrate triumph. She let them, after all in a few weeks they will be richer than ever before.

If they don't die on the process, that is.