Chapter 49 & 50
The room appeared to be the crew members’ mess hall. Amid the long white tables, there sat about a dozen employees, most of them still wearing their hardhats, their work clothes showing the everyday grime of a driller. They were all sitting in close proximity to each other, and were all staring in the same direction at a female figure pacing near the double doors that lead to the galley.
The cold eyes of Ani passed over the huddled group as she moved past them. She was dressed in black fatigues and carried a SIG 553 snub-nosed assault rifle in one hand, its dark, squat shape somehow more menacing than a more standard weapon. She was talking to someone using an ear mike, but Rickie was unable to hear what was being said.
Instead, he quickly glanced through the room and noted that this was only part of the entire complement of personnel on the structure. Maybe some of them had escaped and were. John, her partner, was nowhere in sight, but there wasn’t anything he could do about that for now.
The important thing right now was to get those individuals away from that woman, and do what he could to prevent anything from happening to the drill.
Rickie pulled away from the frightening scene and thought about how he could create a diversion. He warily opened the exterior door to the galley and went inside. He looked around for some type of weapon or useful item.
The gleaming stainless steel utensils and pots stacked on various metal open-weave shelves reflected the light trickling from the mess hall doors, but did little to inspire him. He glanced around the perimeter of the room, but ended back at the shelves. After staring at them for a moment, Rickie thought of an idea to possibly create a diversion; that was all he was able to do to assist them. He hoped the crew members would be able to take advantage of his efforts and escape.
Pulling several aprons off the hooks near the sinks, he used a paring knife to cut the aprons in half, and then he knotted them together. He tucked the knife into his boot and tied one end of his makeshift rope to an upper shelf. He played out the fabric until it stretched towards the outside door.
Taking a deep breath, Rickie pulled with all his might, and heard a cacophony of sound as the shelf and all the cookware crashed to the floor. He ran out the galley door back into the camouflaging darkness without knowing if his ploy was successful.
Rickie crouched beneath a diamond-plate walkway and tried to catch his breath. The sound of running feet and shouting meant that his distraction may have allowed some of the crew to escape. Since the tower was miles offshore, the authorities were at least twenty minutes out, and Rickie needed to determine what the saboteurs might have done to the structure. Deciding the Control Room was the best choice to reconnoiter, he headed towards one of the doors leading to the interior.
He hesitated a moment before spinning the door lock and pulling open the heavy iron door. The brightness of the interior stung his eyes as they adjusted. He strained his ears but did not hear anything, so his quickly slipped down the corridor towards the center of the structure.
In short order, he reached the Control Room without incident, and pressed an ear against the door. Since he didn’t hear anything, he cautiously opened the door and ducked inside. Straightening out, he noted that most of the security cameras appeared to still be online. Rickie locked the door, and sat down in the chair in front of the bank of monitors. Scanning the cameras, he saw several groups of crew members throughout the rig, but did not see either of the saboteurs.
He attempted to use the main radio to contact the Maritime Enforcement Agency, but all he received was static. Possibly the explosion he saw previously had damaged the communication dish. He checked his phone again, and kicked the wall in frustration; he should have thought to bring a satellite cell phone with him.
Wait; maybe there was one here in the Control Room. A brief search yielded no results, although there was a locked cabinet underneath the desktop. He pulled the paring knife out of his boot and used it to force the cabinet door open.
Wonder of wonders, the cabinet contained a bank of two-way radios as well as a satellite phone. He picked up one of the radios from the charging station on the table and turned it on.
“…where is everyone…she’s escaped…we need to find them…” Rickie winced at the babble and turned the volume down. Leaving the chaos for the moment, he switched on the phone and called Raine.
“Just what the hell is happening?” Raine demanded once Rickie identified himself.
“It’s just as Meaghan said. I saw one of the consultants with an assault rifle corralling a group of crew members. I managed to make enough noise for a distraction, but I don’t know who escaped. I’m currently holed up in the Control Room. The male subject is nowhere on the camera monitors, and I’ve lost sight of her as well. Several of the personnel have radios. I haven’t contacted any of them yet. I wanted to check with you first.”
Raine replied, “We’ve got two patrol ships on their way, and the APMM also launched their AS 365 Dauphin helicopter as well. A STAR commando unit of fifteen is on both the ship and the helo. Just sit tight and they should be there soon.”
“I can’t do that, Raine. Those bastards might have explosives somewhere, and I’m not willing to have an ecological disaster happen to my tower.”
“Don’t be a hero!” Raine all but yelled. “You need to let the professionals do their job.”
Rickie gritted his teeth. “Don’t forget, I’m one of those professionals, too. I went through PASKAU training, just like them. Moreover, I know this building, and I’ll be careful. What frequency will they be monitoring?”
Raine blew out a breath, as if she knew he wasn’t going to budge on this. “Fine, Tac Channel 7 has been assigned. The boat team is Unit Alpha; the helo team is Unit Bravo. And Prince, if you get damaged, you’ll hear it from me.” Rickie laughed and gave a smart salute as if she was standing in front of him.