Don Brown: The Malacca Conspiracy

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Don Brown The Malacca Conspiracy
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    The Malacca Conspiracy
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In The Malaccan Conspiracy by Don Brown, author of the Navy Justice series, a dastardly plot is hatched in the Malaysian seaport of Malacca to attack civilian oil tankers, assassinate the Indonesian President, and use fat windfall profits to finance a nuclear attack against American cities. Can Navy JAG officers Zack Brewer and Diane Colcernian foil the conspiracy before disaster strikes?

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Don Brown


The Malacca Conspiracy

© 2010

This novel is dedicated to my three fabulous children:

Mary Claire Brown, born August 2, 1988,

at Mercy Hospital, San Diego, CA

Caroline Mitchell Brown, born March 6, 1992,

at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD

Graham Hardison Brown, born January 8, 1996,

at Presbyterian Hospital, Matthews, NC

Special thanks to

US Army veteran Jack Miller of La Mesa, California and

Maydelé Jorge of Charlotte, North Carolina,

for their superb editorial assistance

He who controls the seas controls the world.

Sir Walter Raleigh


Preface

The Strait of Malacca is located between the long, Indonesian island of Sumatra and the west coast of the Malaysian Peninsula.

At its northwestern entrance, the shorelines of Indonesia and Thailand are separated by two hundred miles of open water.

Five hundred twenty miles to the southeast, near the city-state of Singapore, the strait narrows into the shape of a funnel. At its narrowest point, eight miles of water separate Indonesia and Malaysia. The strait ends at Singapore, where it flows into the Singapore Strait.

The Singapore Strait, 3.2 miles wide at its narrowest point, begins at Singapore, the busiest port city in the world. Stretching sixty-five miles to the northeast, it empties into the South China Sea, and from there, the Pacific.

The linked Straits of Malacca and Singapore form the shortest sea route between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Most of the world’s oil supply is transported on tankers, from the Middle East through these straits.

Prologue

The Malacca Strait

Near the mouth of the Malacca River

The early twenty-first century

Under the bright glare of the midday sunshine, the cigarette boat sliced through the tropical waters to the east. Glistening like the stainless-steel blade of a sharp dagger, the boat, a thirty-eight-foot “Top Gun” model with twin 600 horsepower engines, carried three passengers plus the pilot.

Approaching the coastline at fifty miles per hour, bouncing across light swells and passing several slower boats, it raced by a navigation buoy a half mile offshore.

Houses and storefronts grew visible as the boat approached the shoreline. Cars could be seen moving along coastal roadways. Two single-engine airplanes buzzed the skies.

A second navigation buoy issued warnings in red and white to inbound nautical craft. The warnings were in both English and Malay.

Slow!

No Wake!

The pilot throttled back the powerful twin inboards, morphing their rocketlike thrust into a chugging putter, slowing the boat to a floating crawl.

The general waited for a moment until the boat leveled off. Then, from his jump seat behind the pilot, he unholstered his pistol. He worked the action, chambering a nine-millimeter bullet into firing position.

“Doctor, ready your weapon,” he ordered.

“Yes, General.” The man sitting next to him retrieved an identical pistol, pointed it in the air, and pulled back the firing clip.

In a foreign land, even a foreign land so close to Indonesia, prudence required being armed-especially when the lines between friend and foe were blurred…and where his hosts had a track record of murder.

What was their agenda?

To warn President Santos to abandon his Western-loving ways or face a fate like former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto?

Perhaps.

General Perkasa smiled. Bhutto had gotten what she deserved. He couldn’t be so lucky with Santos, could he?

Initially, General Perkasa had declined the hosts’ invitation.

Then they padded the general’s offshore bank account as a measure of good faith. Overnight, the general and the doctor had become wealthy men, without even speaking to their hosts yet.

But why?

Why remained a mystery.

He would know why soon enough.

General Suparman Perkasa, Army of the Indonesian Republic, was certain of only one thing: a weapon seemed prudent at the moment, and he would fire that weapon without hesitation if necessary.

The boat planed down. Perkasa flipped the gun’s safety switch and reholstered it.

Cruising through calm waters, they passed a third buoy, just at the mouth of the Malacca River. Then they puttered under a bridge, just inside the river’s mouth.

The river narrowed.

Panoramic colors and the salty smell of a small, Asian seaport greeted their senses. Several small craft, mainly single-engine skiffs, glided up and down the river in both directions near the shoreline.

Automobiles crawled along a small, urban street parallel to the right bank. To the left, bright, rainbow-colored houses and apartments scrunched up to the riverbank. Laundry hung from clotheslines behind the houses and apartments.

Perkasa extracted a cigar from his shirt pocket and offered it to his companion. The doctor declined.

The general lit the cigar and sucked satisfying tobacco smoke into his mouth. He swirled the warm smoke around his tongue and teeth.

His young Malaysian escort began to drone on like the tour guide he was. “For hundreds of years, Malacca was the busiest port on the Malaysian peninsula. The Portuguese, Dutch, and British have all seized this port. Now Singapore, just 180 miles to the south, has taken away most of the shipping traffic. But Malacca will always be the birthplace of Islam in Malaysia. Arab traders brought Islam here in the 1400s.”

The general, a short, middle-aged man with a thirty-eight-inch waistline, cocked his head back, basked his face in the warm, overhead sunshine, and opened his mouth into a round circle. Concentric smoke rings rose into the tropical air, then dissipated in breezy wisps. He flicked ashes over the side of the boat into the calm waters of the river.

“Now it is a quiet place,” the fellow babbled. “Small among Malaysian cities. This peaceful harbor is inaccessible to oceangoing vessels.”

He should pull his gun on this babbling idiot just to shut his mouth. But he needed the fool to guide him to the rendezvous point and, afterward, to get them out of the country again.

“Our dock is there.” The guide pointed to a pier just past a bend in the river.

The pilot throttled the engines into idle and steered the wheel to the right. The boat floated toward the dock. Two men, one Asian and the other with Middle Eastern features, stood at the edge of the dock.

“Our ride awaits us, General,” the guide said, tossing a rope to the Asian man.

The general stood, and as the boat inched to the dock, stepped off to the outstretched hand of the Middle Eastern-looking man.

“Ah, General Perkasa,” the man said. “I am Bander Omar, chief assistant to Farouq Al-Fadil.”

“Mr. Omar.” General Perkasa withdrew his hand and motioned to his companion. “This is Dr. Guntur Budi.”

“A pleasure, Doctor,” Omar said. “I have heard of you and also your father. He was a great man.” Two jeeps were parked on the street just behind the docks. “Come. Our Malaysian hosts await us.”

The general got into one jeep. The doctor sat in the jeep behind him. They pulled forward, and in a few minutes turned left across a bridge spanning the Malacca River.

On the north side of the river, the jeeps turned left, driving a short distance down a street paralleling the water. They turned right off the river street and stopped in front of a small hotel. The white stucco building with ornate exterior features suggested a bygone era.

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