STORY: The Sultan of Java – 3

[This is the third of four excerpts from a section of a novel I wrote.  All four will be posted as a single excerpt the day after the fourth one is up.]

Well, I made my calls.  With a terse thank you the Sultan’s brother assured me that things would gear up before I got off the line;  and the banker I spoke to in New York (to whom I relayed the same code as verification) said the cash would be in Puerto Princesa within forty-eight hours.

I could do no more, and tried to go about my business, anxiously awaiting further information about this dicey turn of events half way around the globe.

For the next few days I could not get events in far-off Palawan out of my mind, but as the days wore on without further news one way or the other, I admit that I gave less and thought to that world.  It was only about three months later that I received a coded communiqué from the Sultan in which he explained in broad outlines what had happened.

After making his calls to me and to New York, he waited around in Puerto Princesa another forty-eight hours until the cash arrived in a compact suitcase – of one hundred packets of one hundred used hundred-dollar bills each, neatly bundled and snugly stacked in a small case privately designed and manufactured for precisely this purpose.  He had returned by chartered helicopter to southern Palawan and delivered the cash to his captors.  They in turn had shot another hostage, a Japanese investor, to impress upon the remaining group that they were not to move from their present location for at least twenty-four hours, and then the thugs had set off into the remote recesses of the mountainous jungles.

Meanwhile, many hundreds of miles south in the city of Pontianak on the west-central coast of Borneo, elite units of Indonesian marines and hardened mercenaries flown in from distant parts of Afghanistan and Angola and other ‘trouble spots’ around the globe were readying a massive invasion of the area held by the Philippine rebels.  That the marines would undertake operations with mercenaries and that they would in effect invade a foreign country, however clandestinely, spoke volumes about the kind of juice the Sultan of Java and his people had with the military that just the past July had deposed the feckless Wahid and installed Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sukarno’s daughter, as the new president of an imploding nation.  The Sultan and his family had a large estate in Menteng, the same upscale suburb of Jakarta in which Mega herself lived.

Extensively equipped with helicopters, coastal vessels, and lethal munitions by the United States, the invasion force had made a stealthy approach toward the target area by night and marshaled all forces on a tiny island lying in the extensive archipelago of the Balabac-Bugsuk group just off the southern tip of Palawan.  As predetermined, the force arrived just in time at the marshaling point to receive coded satellite messages from the freed hostages as they finally made it to the shore-line about twenty miles south of a city named Valdez.  This was the code that they were safely away from the bandits, and the counter-coup operation proper could begin.

Early the next morning the hostage party was taken off the beach by motorized rubber dinghies launched from beyond the surf line by the missile boats. The party was exhausted and mauled by insect bites, but otherwise in reasonable condition, given the ordeal they had just endured.

Because of his past service in the Indonesian navy, the Sultan insisted on assuming second-in-command status of one of the Mandau class missile boats for the gruesome mission that followed.  A Korean rip-off of an American design, she weighed close to 300 tons, and with some 25,000 shaft hp her top speed was above 40 knots.  Bristling with computerized launch platforms for high-energy piercing armaments she was a formidable offensive weapon for running coastal patrols against the pirates and smugglers who infested the increasingly violent and disputed waters of the South China Sea.  In this case, along with half a dozen similar vessels and a clattering contingent of military helicopters, she outclassed the resources of the FPP thugs by a ridiculous margin — as they were shortly, and briefly if horribly, to discover.

Well, I made my calls.  With a terse thank you the Sultan’s brother assured me that things would gear up before I got off the line;  and the banker I spoke to in New York (to whom I relayed the same code as verification) said the cash would be in Puerto Princesa within forty-eight hours.

I could do no more, and tried to go about my business, anxiously awaiting further information about this dicey turn of events half way around the globe.

For the next few days I could not get events in far-off Palawan out of my mind, but as the days wore on without further news one way or the other, I admit that I gave less and thought to that world.  It was only about three months later that I received a coded communiqué from the Sultan in which he explained in broad outlines what had happened.

After making his calls to me and to New York, he waited around in Puerto Princesa another forty-eight hours until the cash arrived in a compact suitcase – of one hundred packets of one hundred used hundred-dollar bills each, neatly bundled and snugly stacked in a small case privately designed and manufactured for precisely this purpose.  He had returned by chartered helicopter to southern Palawan and delivered the cash to his captors.  They in turn had shot another hostage, a Japanese investor, to impress upon the remaining group that they were not to move from their present location for at least twenty-four hours, and then the thugs had set off into the remote recesses of the mountainous jungles.

Meanwhile, many hundreds of miles south in the city of Pontianak on the west-central coast of Borneo, elite units of Indonesian marines and hardened mercenaries flown in from distant parts of Afghanistan and Angola and other ‘trouble spots’ around the globe were readying a massive invasion of the area held by the Philippine rebels.  That the marines would undertake operations with mercenaries and that they would in effect invade a foreign country, however clandestinely, spoke volumes about the kind of juice the Sultan of Java and his people had with the military that just the past July had deposed the feckless Wahid and installed Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sukarno’s daughter, as the new president of an imploding nation.  The Sultan and his family had a large estate in Menteng, the same upscale suburb of Jakarta in which Mega herself lived.

Extensively equipped with helicopters, coastal vessels, and lethal munitions by the United States, the invasion force had made a stealthy approach toward the target area by night and marshaled all forces on a tiny island lying in the extensive archipelago of the Balabac-Bugsuk group just off the southern tip of Palawan.  As predetermined, the force arrived just in time at the marshaling point to receive coded satellite messages from the freed hostages as they finally made it to the shore-line about twenty miles south of a city named Valdez.  This was the code that they were safely away from the bandits, and the counter-coup operation proper could begin.

Early the next morning the hostage party was taken off the beach by motorized rubber dinghies launched from beyond the surf line by the missile boats. The party was exhausted and mauled by insect bites, but otherwise in reasonable condition, given the ordeal they had just endured.

Because of his past service in the Indonesian navy, the Sultan insisted on assuming second-in-command status of one of the Mandau class missile boats for the gruesome mission that followed.  A Korean rip-off of an American design, she weighed close to 300 tons, and with some 25,000 shaft hp her top speed was above 40 knots.  Bristling with computerized launch platforms for high-energy piercing armaments she was a formidable offensive weapon for running coastal patrols against the pirates and smugglers who infested the increasingly violent and disputed waters of the South China Sea.  In this case, along with half a dozen similar vessels and a clattering contingent of military helicopters, she outclassed the resources of the FPP thugs by a ridiculous margin — as they were shortly, and briefly if horribly, to discover.

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One Response to STORY: The Sultan of Java – 3

  1. heather says:

    does part four come tomorrow? can’t wait!

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