The pirates were dead, all three of them. Matt Christopher had been hired to provide armed security for the ship’s wealthy charter guests, and he did the job. His rapid response had ended the lives of the marauders before they were able to lay a finger on the luxury yacht floating quietly in the Gulf of Thailand.
”They really screwed up. Picked a calm, moonlit night to try to come aboard,” he told the vessel’s captain, Billy Worsley, as the ship’s exterior lights went to full bright. Worsley had spent his life at sea, the years of salt water, high winds, and punishing sunlight had weathered him, but this was all new to him. “Kill those, please,” Matt added in the tone of command rather than as a request. “If there’s more out there, I need the moon to light them up. Your floods will only blind me and illuminate us as a target.”
Responding to the American’s request, the Captain of the 160’ pearl white motor yacht directed his number one to douse the spotlights and notify the authorities.
“Belay that notification, please, captain,” Matt said in a softer tone. “I’m not supposed to be here with the small arsenal we brought aboard. If the authorities get involved, we’ll both have more explaining and red tape to cut through than the chum in the water is worth.”
Both men stepped to the silver rail and looked down into the sea. The ship’s lights, glowing from their hull mountings a foot below the waterline, were meant to illuminate the tropical waters and reveal the wondrous creatures that swam through the night. Instead, they spotlighted three men, floating face down as the sea around them turned red.
“We at least have to retrieve their remains,” Worsley insisted as he placed his hands on his hips in frustration. “It’s required by the law here.”
Matt let a dry laugh escape but then stepped around the captain on the deck to greet the primary charter guest, Nigel Anderson, a wealthy industrialist with holdings in Asia and the United Kingdom. Tall, fit and tanned, the man had come up on deck wearing boxers that resembled his countries own red, white, and blue flag – the Union Jack.
“Everything’s okay, Nigel,” Matt reassured his client. “I saw them from my spot up above the bridge.”
“What happened?” Nigel looked around the deck as if expecting to see bodies.
“They didn’t make it very far,” Matt explained. “I lit the laser site on my rifle and washed it across their boat, but they kept coming. The M4A1 assault weapon was his go-to, the same one used by the SEALS back when they had trained him, back before they had uncovered his Achilles and washed him out. When I waved it across their faces as a warning, they still didn’t stop. They sped up. I made my way down to the stern where they were headed. They were within five feet of the boat, and one of them threw that at me.” Matt turned and pointed to an assault-style knife, scalpel sharp edge on one side, serrated on the other, now lying on the deck after having missed its intended target. It had, however, left a mean mark on the ship’s beautiful teak trim.
“Thank God you weren’t hurt,” Nigel said. “I guess this wasn’t a negotiation?” He eyed the assault rifle with the night scope, laser pointer, and sound suppressed barrel hanging from Matt’s right shoulder.
“Yep. The second that knife left his hand, it was game over.” He led Anderson to the railing and pointed toward the water where the pirates’ Zodiac barely floated, unoccupied.
“Who would have thought that when I called you asking if you could recommend a security team that you’d be here, in Thailand, with some time to kill,” Anderson said as he patted Matt on the back. Both men slowly shook their heads at the comment.
“Your night crew is still on watch as I directed?” Matt asked the captain. “There could be more out there, although I doubt it. Better to be safe than tied up down below with your throat slit.” The captain appeared still shaken by the incident.
“Never thought this would ever happen to me, to my ship,” he said. “I was totally against your coming aboard, but I’m grateful you were here for this.”
He shook their hands, then went back to the rail and looked down. “We still need to retrieve the bodies. They need to be identified. Their families, if they have them, should know.” He paused. “What if they had children? They need to know.” Matt considered the captain’s concerns but shook his head slowly. “Life’s a bitch,” he said in a softened tone, saddened by the thought.
”They stay in the water,” Nigel stated emphatically. “We’re in international waters, and those assholes could have killed us all.” He looked at Matt. “I’d just as soon leave them to the fish. Circle of life and all that; nothing but shark shit before morning.”
Matt smiled grimly. “Can’t say I disagree.” He turned his attention back to the Gulf. “Bull sharks and Tigers swim in these waters,” he stated. “Attacks are rare, but those boys are floating with all that blood in the water. I expect that will attract the attention of a hungry few, and those bodies disappear in no time. I told the Captain they needed to stay in the water, and I’m glad to hear you feel the same way.”
The Captain shifted on his feet and looked away, as if considering how wise it was to overrule the man with the gun and the charter guest who might demand a full refund and, on top of that, withhold the typical $20,000 tip most luxury charter guests paid at the end of their journey.
”Let’s compromise, Mr. Christopher,” the captain suggested, “If the bodies are still there at sunrise, we’ll fish them out. Otherwise, we’ll leave them to the sea to reclaim them.”
Hours later, the blinding sun, heat, and humidity of the season greeted the rest of the charter guests as they arose to begin their last scheduled day on the water. Aside from Anderson, they were unaware of just how close they may have come to being robbed, or worse. Matt finally left his post at the stern of the ship. There was nothing else in sight on the water. The bodies were long gone. The inflatable the pirates had arrived on had finally sunk, thanks to the half dozen shots Matt had fired into it as part of his rapid response to the failed incursion. A spent shell casing one of the crew had scooped as a souvenir was collected and thrown overboard with the rest of the evidence.
Soon, word about what had happened during the night had, by now, made it to everyone aboard. Some took it in stride, while others bypassed morning coffee and opted for a bloody mary, extra spicy or screwdriver, heavy on the vodka. Matt had already stowed his assault weapon in a secure space at the back of the ship, but he kept his holstered 9 mm Glock with an extra clip on his belt. His floral designed shirt lay over the bulge on his right hip. Anyone who had been against having armed security on the ship at the onset was now an appreciative supporter. Anderson’s wife wrapped her arms around Matt and squeezed but then stepped back. He tensed as she pressed his shirt hard against his sweat and bumped the gun underneath, neither of which he appreciated. She didn’t speak a word. She kissed his cheek, pausing for a moment, and then stepped back, her beautiful blonde hair pulled up in a bun to reveal the exquisite, tanned face of a top London fashion model. He read the thanks in her emerald eyes and could still smell the intriguing scent she’d left behind.
He headed straight for the breakfast buffet the staff had laid out for their guests. Bypassing the crab omelets and eggs benedict, he went right for the coffee and could have found it with his eyes closed, locked in like a hunting dog on a much different scent. Sam Norton emerged through the automatic sliding doors of the West Indian mahogany dining room and nodded to his friend. His white short-sleeved shirt decorated with a ring of blue palm trees lay over the bulge of another holstered weapon. They both looked like they belonged there, handsome features, perfect tans on fit bodies. Sam was fresh out of a shower and ready for the day. Matt did not return the smile.
“Nothing out of the ordinary inside Matt,” Sam reported. “Sorry I missed all the fun.” Matt’s gaze out over the sea didn’t change as he shook his head slowly and sipped another and then another bit of coffee. They were in hearing distance of the guests, so Matt kept up the charade.