Authors: Peter Tonkin
At this time of year, the sun comes up out of the sea beyond Blow Hole Cay on the horizon far to the east and sets behind Brigantine Cay equally far away to the west. The sun set a couple of hours ago in an orgy of red and gold and there is a full moon rising above Alligator Beach on Cat Island, a hundred kilometres distant due north across the calm, clear Caribbean. The evening breeze smells of sea and tamarind, woodsmoke and seafood. In the scrub behind the huts, frogs and cicadas have begun to sing, beetles to stir and scuttle. The sky beyond the bay is bright enough to show â jet black against opal and ultramarine â flocks of birds returning to roost and columns of bats whirling out to hunt above Rat Cay. Its gathering silvery brightness is just beginning to outline the little Beechcraft Bonanza A36 float plane that the Pitman piloted down here this morning, where it bobs in the shallows of the bay.
Harry and the Pitman have made no use of the hobs or cookers yet, though they've made much of the fridges and the showers. They dived this afternoon, after unloading and unpacking. The Pitman caught two lobsters and a grouper. These she has killed and roasted in a fire pit on the beach, and she and Harry have just consumed them with roast plantain from the palms and an avocado salad purchased in the South Beach shopping centre on their way to pick up the Beechcraft at Nassau airport this morning. Harry has also sipped her way through a good deal of Californian Murphy-Goode Sauvignon FumÃ© Blanc and is on the tipsy side of utter relaxation. As the Pitman makes sure the fire pit is safe, burying the lobster shells and fish bones in preference to using garbage disposal or dishwasher, Harry swings at ease in her hammock with her laptop lying across her naked thighs. With access to any news service in the world, she has settled on her hometown website, the
. She is lazily trawling through the Boston, American and World News sections when she sees a familiar name and clicks on the link. âHey, Angela, look at this. It says,
Heritage Mariner stock rises on back of successful delivery of gas to Japan.
âOh, yeah?' answers the Pitman. âI thought there was going to be a big investigation. It was a pretty near-miss after all.'
âApparently not. I'll scroll down. Here it is.' Harry begins to read, her tone lazy, throaty and low. â“The Japanese minister for environment and power announced today that there is no need to investigate the reported collision between the LNG gas transporter
and the floating nuclear power facility
any further. âThe impact was minor and caused no damage except to the vessels involved and that was slight,' Minister Takahashi said. âNow that
's cargo is safely in the NIPEX facility, the power supply to the floating city of Kujukuri has already been switched over to gas.
is on her way to her next assignment in the Kamchatka region of Russia, with the thanks of the entire Japanese nation for a job well done.' It is reported that
will resume her work after some refitting and extensive work on her on-board computers. In the meantime, she will proceed with a human crew. The owners of the two vessels, Heritage Mariner and Bashnev/Sevmash, have both seen their stock rise on exchanges worldwide since the announcement. Shares in both companies are trading at twice last week's price and seem set to rise further. The Mariner family, who are known to own a great deal of their own company stock, will have seen their personal wealth reach unprecedented heights, London analysts say. Madame Anastasia Asov, Chief Executive of Bashnev Oil and Power, announced in Moscow that this is a new dawn for her company. The Bashnev's second floating power station,
, is due for launch later this year and there is already a waiting list for her services. Two more are on the way. Miss Asov is pictured making the official announcement en route to a reception at the Mariinski Theatre with her associates, Mr Ivan Yagula and Mr Felix Makarov. She is wearing the legendary dress designed by British designer Debbie Wingham. The black and red
-style outfit features a design in red diamonds and has an estimated value of eighteen million dollars.”'
âHunh,' says the Pitman. âGive me a good piece of hardware any day. Talking of which â¦'
âWait,' Harry interrupts. âThere's another piece. “Canadian Authorities confirm that they have closed down a major organized crime ring centred around the Duisberg Reinsurance Company of Vancouver. A spokesman for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit Integrated Gang Task Force of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated that Duisberg Reinsurance was a local expression of a worldwide threat. He told our reporter that the IGTF was in contact with authorities in Italy, Great Britain, Holland, Belgium and right across the old Soviet Union. Duisberg Reinsurance was a cover for Mafia-style dealings by the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, he said. An upsurge in criminality, particularly in drug-smuggling, has centred round a man called Francisco Alberto Lazzaro, for whom an international arrest warrant has been issued. But, as is common under these circumstances, Lazzaro has dropped out of sight and is believed to be hiding somewhere in Calabria, though he was last seen on board his ocean-cruiser
which has also been reported missing in the North West Pacific, off the east coast of Japan.”'
âDo tell!' The Pitman chokes on a laugh. âI'll bet he was with Macavity and the others when they got the surprise of their lives. The
surprise of their lives. Now come over here, lover. I have a new SBR I want you to see. It's got a custom-cut barrel with a stabilized inner, a Noveske rail and a Magpul CTR Stock. Come here and I'll show you how to field strip it.”'
âOh put that stuff away and come over here, Angela,' says Harry, her voice still throaty as she closes her laptop and puts it aside. âIt's about time you stopped messing about with your boys' toys and started to field-strip