Chapter 1

Jakarta, Indonesia

Thirty-five men, all dressed in black, walked hidden in the shadows of the evening light. They moved slowly, silently, but not as one. Their training had only gone so far, and the men were not of the highest caliber. Still, theirs was a simple task, one that even these less-adept fighters could handle.

Each man carried an AK-47 assault rifle and two, thirty-round magazines. Their orders were to keep the rifles in semi-automatic mode, firing only one shot for each trigger pull. None were marksmen, but it didn’t matter—the mission didn’t require accuracy.

They continued to their destination, a busy shopping complex abutting Thamrin Road. The area had recently been renovated, blocking off a side road to make way for a new pedestrian mall. Affluent people, mostly expats and tourists, milled about, shopping or dining at the outdoor cafes and bars. The mall was designed to keep people shopping and eating, and offered little means for a quick escape.

Still hidden by the shadows, the group split, and fifteen made their way through a dark alley to the only other exit. As this group got into position, two white vans pulled alongside. The drivers, also clad in black, got out and opened the rear doors, standing ready.

Given the signal, the first group lowered their masks, raised their rifles, and began firing. Panic was nearly immediate as sound of gunfire reverberated over the din of the conversations and the noise of clinking glasses. The firing gunmen advanced, each shooting along the perimeter of the shop entrances, forcing the fleeing crowd away from the approaching gunmen and the protection of the buildings.

The sounds of chairs hastily being pushed back reverberated across the courtyard were competing with the sounds of screams and shouts. Packages were dropped, and plates shattered as they hit the ground. The crowd swarmed together, rushing to the only means of escape.

As the mass approached the opposite exit, they were quickly surrounded and forced on their knees, where they were handcuffed with zip ties, and shoved into the waiting vans. Those that struggled were shot without warning.

Filled to the brim with no way out, the drivers tossed a smoke pellet in each van, quickly locking the driver’s door. The smoke contained a powerful sleeping agent, and within two minutes the screams and pounding were replaced with the sounds of sirens and approaching helicopters in the distance.

There were four people left who would not fit into the crammed vans. Each was shot in the head and left on the pavement.

The drivers donned gas masks, got in, and drove away as two more vans appeared. The fighters entered these vans, which took off in different directions.

***

With no eye witnesses, the police could not give any information to the helicopter pilots, who were forced to circle around and look for anything suspicious. They canvased the area, but the vans were traveling at normal speed and each took a different route, blending in with other traffic.

After reviewing the mall’s surveillance video, the police were able to identify the types of vehicles used in the attack. It didn’t take long before they stitched together enough traffic camera footage to approximate the hijacker’s location.

The local police moved in and surrounded the perimeter, while an elite unit of Indonesia’s National Police, Detachment 88, was deployed to locate and neutralize the attackers. Clearing the various buildings and warehouses, they identified the one they were looking for, a small warehouse with a broken lock on the door.

Thermal scans identified two vans, the engines still glowing in the screen as they gave off heat, but no bodies were indicated. At least nothing that moved. Suspecting that the hostages were held further inside the building, the ground team prepared to breach the door. Helicopters were ordered to circle overhead, their powerful searchlights covering the area, casting a harsh light on the ground below.

Using a bullhorn, the team leader called out, ordering the captors to let the hostages go. He repeated the command several times, each one being ignored. After the fourth attempt, the team burst in. A woman’s body was on the floor, surrounded by a pool of blood, her hands still bound. Inside the vans, they found a few cut zip ties, pieces of torn clothing, a smattering of blood and vomit.

***

The Jakarta Post cited unconfirmed reports that thirty-two hostages were taken, with seventeen people killed at the scene, including four shot execution style. No nationalities of the hostages were named, and no one knew of their fate, but the Post printed photos taken from surveillance cameras at the scene.

No group had yet claimed responsibility.

© 2018 Michael Klapheke

Adrift

Edi Vanco is a smooth talker with a ruthless underside. Rising in the ranks of a resurrected fundamentalist group in Northern Indonesia, Edi is ravenous for power and money, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Striking a deal with a powerful general, Edi plots to kill the president of Indonesia, then launch a coup to seize control. His first step—attack a popular tourist spot in Jakarta, take hostages, and demand a ransom for their release.

A drug raid in Bogota left Paco Sanchez critically wounded. Recovering with a new face and a new identity, Paco is transformed into Tom Finnegan, a successful businessman in Miami, leaving the life he knew behind. But his past catches up to him when is ex-wife Ana becomes one of the hostages. Tom’s sister, the only one that knows he’s still alive, pressures Tom into finding Ana.

Join Tom in an around-the-world adventure as he tries to keep one step ahead of the British, American, and Australian governments to rescue the hostages before it’s too late.

Tangse, Indonesia

Jakarta
75°
light rain
humidity: 100%
H 79 • L 77
84°
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Thu
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