A Problem With Pirates
Chapter 5: Taking the War Ashore
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
September 10, 1990
The boat full of pirates turned and ran upon seeing the monster battleship appear from behind the cargo ship. They were willing to take on a simple patrol boat, but not a battleship. Four days earlier, two boats sent out from a nearby town had mysteriously disappeared after failing to take over a cargo ship. Now the mystery had been cleared up.
Thoughts of pirates conjures up images of three masted ships armed with cannon sailing up to some similarly armed ship, engaging in a small battle in which cannon fire was exchanged, and then boarding the ship to take control over it. In olden times, pirate vessels were essentially fighting ships manned by a highly trained crew.
In modern times, pirates used small highly maneuverable boats to charge up to defenseless cargo ships, board while firing at the crew, and taking over the ship. Modern cargo ships had relatively small crews that were easily overwhelmed by a single boatload of pirates. The boarding parties weren’t sailors, but thugs with guns.
The boat these pirates were using was a small craft not really meant for the wide open sea. It was way too old to be making risky voyage like this. In addition, it was overloaded with people. The captain of the boat pushed it as fast as he was willing to risk it. It was a balancing act. Trouble this far from shore was certain death. Of course, fighting a battleship was certain death as well.
The pirates, holding on for dear life, were frantically tossing their weapons overboard. They knew that life in prison awaited them if caught with arms out at sea like this. Replacing their weapons would be expensive, but getting out of prison would be impossible.
A nerve wracking shudder went through the boat. Looking over his shoulder, the captain could see that the battleship was not in pursuit of them. He eased back the throttle to reduce the stresses on his boat.
“Why are you slowing down?”
“Did you feel that shudder?”
“I don’t like it. I’m pushing this old boat harder than I should. I’ve got to slow down a little before something breaks.”
“What about the battleship?”
“It’s not following us.”
“It could still shoot us.”
“We might be in range, but at this distance we are a very small target.”
“If you say so.”
“I’m going to the big island. We’ll hide out there for a couple of hours. If we don’t see anything, we’ll head back to port. They’ve got to know the Navy is here.”
“The big island is not a good place to hide out. His majesty will sic his goons on us.”
“I’ll tell his goons the truth. I heard something wrong with the boat and stopped there to check it out.”
“They might accept that.”
Stepping back from the periscope, Sword Aleksy said, “They are slowing down and heading to the big island.”
“We’ll have to wait them out,” Sword Shalon said.
Sword Anahita said, “The choice of that island as a hiding spot reduces the probable set of ports down to three.”
“Let’s inform the others,” Sword Aleksy said.
“Cart Sema, we’ll continue to follow the boat.”
“It’s going to be tricky when they reach the island,” Cart Sema said while studying the maps of the region.
She was the current navigator and was trying to determine how they could follow a boat into the waters around the island. The waters in that area were too shallow, particularly at low tide, for the submarine to remain submerged in a number of places. The one thing they didn’t want was to be spotted by the pirates.
“We can stay well offshore so long as we can keep them in sight,” Sword Shalon said.
“That will help,” Cart Sema said. “There’s a ridge that comes off the island that we’ll have to avoid by swinging out from the island. We might lose sight of them for a time if they park on the continental side of the island.”
“Do your best,” Sword Shalon said.
There were thirty nine Carts, two Hearths, and eight Swords aboard the submarine. The Carts were performing all of the normal functions of a submarine crew except for weapons stations which were staffed by Swords. Despite being understaffed, the voyage from Inra had been without problems. They had taken their time in reaching their destination and had only arrived the previous day.
“We need to establish a pick up point,” Sword Aleksy said.
“I’ve got a good one. It’s far enough offshore of the most likely port that we won’t be seen and close enough to all three to reach any one of them in time for the operation,” Cart Femi said looking up from her chart.
“We’ve got less than an hour of charge at the speed we’re moving,” Cart Bega said looking down at her control panel.
One of the problems with the submarine owned by the Jade Force was the fact that it was a diesel-electric. It used a diesel engine to charge the batteries, but could only charge the batteries when an external air supply was available for the diesel engine. The batteries allowed the submarine to operate submerged. At slow speeds, the batteries could last for forty-eight hours. At top speed, the batteries were only good for ninety minutes.
“There are too many eyes aboard the boat for us to snorkel. It’s too easily seen,” Sword Anihita said.
She was making reference to using the air exchange snorkel that would allow them to run the diesel engines long enough to recharge the battery. The snorkel allowed the submarine to recharge the batteries while remaining at periscope depth.
Watching the pirate boat through the periscope, Sword Aleksy said, “The boat is slowing down even more. Cut speed to half. We’re starting to pass them.”
“That’s good news,” Cart Bega said. “At that speed, we can stay submerged for another four hours.”
Cart Sema said, “We’re only twenty minutes from the island.”
Sword Aleksy said, “They are turning towards the south end of the island.”
Studying the detailed map of the island, Cart Sema said, “There’s only a handful of good places to hide on that side of the island.”
“Is there any chance they have a base on the island?” Sword Shalon asked looking over at Sword Aleksy.
Sword Aleksy had been in Cartoom while the submarine had been in transit from Inra. He had been one of the Swords who had scouted a number of the islands offshore Cartoom. As a result, he had access to all of the scouting reports.
“None,” Sword Aleksy said.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Two Swords scouted it out. It looked perfect for a remote base except for the fact that there is a rather wealthy family living on the island and they don’t like visitors. They have a private security force to keep people, particularly locals, from dropping in unannounced,” Sword Aleksy answered.
“That sounds a little suspicious. Any chance the family is involved in pirate activities?”
“They are, but we believe that most of the pirates don’t know that. That’s why they don’t want anyone stopping at the island. Plausible deniability. At least, that’s what the intelligence says.”
The pirate’s boat entered into one of easier to watch coves. The submarine pulled well away from shore, raised the snorkel, and started recharging the batteries. They sat offshore watching the cove for three hours before seeing the boat leave. The engines were shut down, the snorkel lowered, and the submarine prepared for travel. It followed the pirate boat to port.
“It’s time to get to work,” Sword Aleksy said.
“I’ve radioed in the port,” Cart Femi said.
The submarine made its way back to open water to meet with the pickup boat. Four of the eight Swords aboard would be leaving the submarine to participate in the next phase of the operation. Sword Aleksy, Sword Anahita, Sword Josie, and Sword Jennifer would join the other Swords moving into positions around the small port town.
It was three hours later that the four Swords finally met up with the rest of the attack team. Night was quickly approaching and the timetable for the raid was tight. There was a lot to do and there wasn’t much time.
The four Swords gathered around Sword Manela. She handed out an aerial photograph of the port town. A number of buildings were circled on the photograph. Most were in blue ink, but four of the buildings were circled in black ink.
Sword Manela said, “This photograph is of the port town. It’s about six hours old. We’ve marked what we believe are the homes of the pirates who participated in the attempted raid this morning. The eight of us are to move in and destroy these four homes.”
She pointed out four buildings on the photograph that were circled with black ink. The homes were surrounded by other houses, most of which weren’t circled. It might be a small town, but it had over a hundred homes, a good number of businesses, and a lot of boats.
“We’ll break into two teams of four and take out two houses each. At each house, toss a couple grenades into the building and then enter to make sure there are no survivors,” she said pointing to the routes.
“Why such large teams?” Sword Josie asked with a frown.
Sword Manela said, “The whole town is in on this piracy thing, and most of the men are walking around armed. We’ve seen kids thirteen years old carrying weapons. We believe that we’ll stir up a hornets nest when we act. It’s a sure thing that we’ll have to fight our way out. Depending on how quickly they react, each team may have to fight its way to the second house.”
“I don’t like it,” Sword Aleksy said looking at the photograph.
The distances they had to travel weren’t that far, maybe a hundred yards to the furthest house. The problem was that the houses were small and built one next to another. They’d pass twenty houses on each side of the street to get to the four they were targeting. That meant they would have to deal with forty to fifty hostile sites along the route.
Sword Aleksy said, “We’re going to have to carry a ton of ammo.”
“If you think what we have to do is bad, think about the team going into the center of town. They’re taking out two bars, the shipyard where the pirate’s boat is at dock, and the town’s main dock.”
“How are they getting out?” Sword Aleksy asked.
“A boat is dropping them off and picking them up from the dock.”
“That’s awful exposed,” Sword Aleksy said.
“We know. We didn’t have much time to put together a plan. We’re trying to send a message,” Sword Manela said.
“Don’t leave port.”
“I’d rather wait until morning when we’ve got everything scouted out,” Sword Aleksy said.
“We want them to know that we’re on their ass. Waiting until tomorrow morning doesn’t convey that part of the message.”
Sword Aleksy looked around at the other Swords gathered there. He was the second highest rated in tactics. Sword Manela was rated higher than him. That made her leader of the first team and him leader of the second team.
Sword Aleksy asked, “When do we go in?”
“That doesn’t leave us much time to prepare,” he said.
“I know. You and I need to get to work.”