Croonford Detectives Case 17: To The Orient
Author’s note: My first story where the Croonford girl detectives travel away from the UK. I hope I got the information on Penang, its culture and especially its food correct and no offence to Penangites or Malaysians. No offences as well to the police in Penang, the Royal Malaysian Police and Malaysian intelligence services.
This story is entirely fictional although based on a historical incident.
Please comment on the story here.
21 January 1968: Over Greenland
The view below was magnificent, if only the temperature could be higher, Major D'Mario thought. The reason for this was he was seated at least two miles above the earth in a cramped and increasingly hot cabin. His fellow crewmen were also shivering so he made a fatal choice by opening an engine valve. The heat increased but all of a sudden, large flames of fire started to spread. Despite their best attempts, the fire engulfed most of the plane and each member finally bailed out. Jumping from an inferno into an icy cold atmosphere, Major D'Mario remembered that they had left vital items behind...
Croonford UK 1500 GMT
Teen Detectives Headquarters
"Ow!" Michelle Summers cried, as the edge of the portable radiator dial lightly sliced through her finger. For the past half hour, she and Jennifer Thompson were trying in vain to fixed the heating system in their detective hideout. For a place which contained a mini forensics laboratory, the main necessity—the heating system—was down.
"It's all in the wrist Chelle," a voice behind her remarked as a hand shot out, adjusting the knob properly. "Gosh! You startled me Lin, at least you could…woah!"
Michelle gasped at the youth chief forensic outfit. Despite the chilly weather, Lin Ling was clad in a low-cut purple tube top and a skirt that reached only a few inches above her knees. She clearly was wearing small denier tights with open toe shoes.
"Lin! Aren't you freezing!"
"We're all warm-blooded creatures Chelle, I just make the most of it. Anyway, since you two are whining about the cold and it's half-term break, how about heading off to some place where the sun shines?"
"Where? “Jenn replied, her teeth chattering, wondering if it was a European city.
"Penang, Malaysia. One of my aunts has a nice house and she has invited my mother and us for a short holiday and will take us everywhere including beaches. Don't worry about plane ticket fares; Ma and my aunt will foot the bill. It'll be sun, sand and sea for at least a week. My mother will clear it with your parents. Whatcha think?
"Well since the plane fares and accommodation are taken care of, why not. Better than this freezer of a town," Michelle replied, still nursing her finger.
Jenn thought over it for half a minute and gave her thumbs up. "Righto, but first, we need to get something for you Jenn," Lin replied.
outskirts of Los Angeles, California
A while ago
0310 hours local
"Thud! Thud! Thud!" The rapping on the old wooden door broke the silence of the night. "Don't worry dad, I'll get it," the woman called, moving down the spiral staircase in her robe, nightie and slippers. The old man smiled and was about to turn his back when a bang ten times louder than the rapping shattered his eardrums.
"What the..." he cried and as he just reached his doorway when he was grabbed in a bear hug. Almost strangled, there was a trio of masked men, one which was grabbing his daughter. Her nightie was ripped, slightly exposing her right breast and a wide piece of tape covered her jaw. With her arms bent, it was certain her wrists were bound behind her.
"Move it old man," the muffled voice behind said. Still startled, both were half-dragged to the main study and forced to kneel. "Ok, old man, what's the safe's combination number?" A silence followed as the elderly man sealed his lips. "What is the combination number!" The hooded figure yelled, smacking the old man on the face one more time. His only reply was a spitting on a loose tooth.
"Alright," the intruder snarled and yanked the young lady from the hands of his accomplice. "First, bullet number one will go in her foot, then bullet number two will go into her knee, then bullet number three…." "OK! OK! Three, Seven, Five, Nine. There's nothing important in there! Please don't hurt her!" The man replied, suddenly convinced by the pleading eyes of his daughter. Snatching the pile of papers from the safe, the hooded figure turned and bullets spat from his silenced gun. "Ooops," was all he said.
Somewhere deep in the Arctic Ocean
"Is that it?" Captain Christine Andersen peered closely at the image on the false aperture sonar. What was at first appeared to be a large blob on the screen slowly changed into a long cylinder nearly a hundred metres across.
"That's your magic wand that will change the world?"
"Yeah, can your sub hold it?", the man wearing a pure black diving suit asked.
Christine looked at the dimensions on the screen and nodded. An extractor arm extended and grasped the object. After several attempts, it came off the seabed and minutes later it was secured in the mini sub's storage bay.
"Ya know, after scrounging around for days, I can't believe I'm going to get 50K for picking up what may turn out to be an old ship's funnel or some waste dumped by some unknown ship long ago. For all ya know this may be..."
The babbling research Captain passed away with the tiny prick of her skin. Pushing her to one side, the dark-skinned man simply said, "You're relieved of duty Captain."
Teen Headquarters, 1520 GMT
"A bikini. You're not going to laze around Penang's best beaches in your ugly blue one-piece swimsuit," Jenn replied, propping herself on the table.
"No way, you're not influencing me with girlie antics Miss Chan! I'm happy with my one-piece swimsuit!" Jenn retorted, still warming herself by the heater.
"Yes way. All of us girls have bikinis, right Chelle?" Chelle simply remarked she had a black halter set.
"And all the other school girls have two-pieces. Hattie, Bethan, Heather..."
"Julia doesn't," Jenn remembered that Julia told her that.
"Well, the majority own at least one. It's the in-thing..."
"I'm not influenced by your pressure. It's just like exposing myself in my undies!" Jenn recalled when she was forced and bound and gagged in just them.
"It is not. Ok, then I'll take one of the bikini owners and leave you in this chilling chamber."
"How dare you..." Despite her debating skills, Jenn couldn't believe that she was getting blackmailed.
"You wouldn't dare..."
Lin patted her hand on her friend's back and replied, "You know Jenn, there are three kinds of people. the Wills, the Won'ts, and the Can'ts. The Wills accomplish everything, the Wont's oppose everything, and the Can'ts won't try anything. Your definitely both a Won't and a Can't".
"Your quote from The Black Hole won't change my mind."
"Why not I take you shopping for a bikini. Just one."
"Oh, alright you win. But I have a condition I still have until I arrive at a beach before I expose myself." Deal?"
A costal village, Sumatra, Indonesia, the same time
"...and finally, after months of setbacks, ASEAN members have decided to sign a security accord that would increase anti-terror operations against a Southeast Asian extremist Islamic group mixed with Jemaah Islamiyah and ISIS members. Due to the latest larger scale attacks in the region, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers have approved to hold the meeting on the cruise liner Emeritus, the point of embarkation and sail route classified for security purposes. In other news..."
The black clothed figure twisted the volume and addressed the similarly dressed man in front of him.
"My son, you have made us proud in the last move."
"Father, we did not hit all that we intended to strike. Many infidels unfortunately escaped."
"Patience, son. We have a big plan upcoming. I trust everything is on schedule?"
"Yes, our California team managed to locate the necessary documents. Our greatest minds are working on it and will produce the crude result by next week. Transportation and deception are all taken care of. Father, have we had any lead on where the ship will sail?
"Not yet. Your brother Karim is still searching. Time will come my son. Allah has been good to us."
"Indeed father. We will give the blow that is needed. Ironically, most of the material are made by the infidels"
Both men clasped each other in a tight embrace and the younger one departed, a devilish smile forming on his lips...
Croonford Shopping Centre, 1610 GMT
Jenn continued to pout as her East Asian friend pulled her to the rows of bikinis. Finally, they stopped at a selection of blue halter top bikinis. "No!" Jenn cried, "I'm not wearing those!"
"Can you please not fuss, this is the best selection for proper ladies swimwear," Lin replied.
"Not these, can't I have plain-coloured ones, like normal underwear. Or leave me in my normal suit", whined Jenn for the umpteenth time.
"Argh, one day you'll regret not having a boyfriend without some real ladies clothing," Lin remarked, giving her friend a teasing pat. Not wanting to argue further, both girls continued through that section until Jenn pointed at a white thick strap bikini. Despite Lin's gesture towards a thinner beige-coloured set, it was the final choice until the nearby shop assistant remarked, "sorry darling, we don't 'ave your size on display."
"Size? What's your..?" Lin started then stopped after receiving her friend's look and Jenn whispered to the assistant. The purchase was finally made when both their mobile phones buzzed.
Check this news link. There's a murder case on the news.
Outside they both played the video Chelle sent them. "A retired professor and his granddaughter were found brutally murdered in a Los Angeles Suburb yesterday. Formerly a professor of biomedical science at Aston University, Professor Ariel Goodman was a leading advisor to the UN on nuclear materiel proliferation. Police have yet to ascertain the cause of the homicide. In other news, ASEAN, foreign ministers will be embarking on the cruise liner Emeritus from Penang for a week-long summit on security in the Asia Pacific..."
The girls were interrupted by Jenn's mobile ringing. "Hey, did you read the news link?"
"Chelle, that incident is thousands of miles away and isn't anything. What, do you want to cancel our Penang trip and..." Lin replied
"No, just giving you guys new, nothing, I'll see you two later," Michelle replied. On that note, Lin told both of them not to bring any gadgets as Malaysian customs are extremely strict.
"Thank goodness for that; I really thought she was going to create a long-distance case this winter. So let me give you a summary of what Penang is like from the books?" Jenn asked. Lin nodded for her smart friend to go ahead.
"It's a great Southeast Asian resort island off the coast of Northern Malaysia. If you're not hitting the beach, you'll be sampling local delights especially the Peranakan and Nyonya cuisine or exploring the various historical sites," Jenn began.
"And that is where they filmed the show Anna and the King." Jenn continued as they boarded the bus, ensuring her two-piece was hidden from sight.
"Uh huh, listen, save the story until we head over there."
Their parents all granted them permission to journey to Penang, especially Chelle's mother who wanted her to be clear of finding detective cases at home. The boy detectives, Mark Cadvish and Reinhard Tomas were left behind to guard the fort. Mark had his usual rugby practice while Reinhard had to take additional classes to improve his English.
The customs check at Penang International Airport was not as strict as Lin mentioned although there was no frisking. Once through, they were met by Lin's aunt who introduced herself as Patricia Oei.
"How do you pronounce your surname again?" Chelle asked.
"It's pronounced like 'we' and is our maiden name," came Patricia's reply, after hugging her sister Pearlyn. "And this is..." she pointed to a 164cm and 38B cup girl who completed the sentence as "Stacey." She shook hands with Chelle and Jenn then only nodded curtly at Lin. As they all entered Patricia's car, Stacey finally commented, "still working on beautifying yourself, Ling?"
"It's Lin. At least I know how to present myself," Lin replied, jerking her
"Lin is a surname. And I'm not stuck in a world of science."
"Girls, stop your arguing or both of you will get detention and Lin Ling you may be sent home earlier," Pearlyn scolded them. Chelle immediately noted animosity between the two cousins but simply positioned herself between them. As it was early morning and the guests stated they were hungry, Patricia parked her car somewhere along Gurney Drive and the group found themselves at what was described as one of the most well-known hawker areas on the island.
"There's so much to choose from, go ahead," Patricia told them. That was easier said than done since Chelle and Jenn couldn't speak the Hokkien dialect. Noticing that, Stacey rushed to help Jenn. Lin simultaneously rushed up to aid Chelle, although her Hokkien was not as proficient. Chelle picked Chee Cheong Fun with a sauce that she found rather sweet yet strange and a bowl of piping hot hae meen or prawn mee.
"That's called hae kor," Stacey informed her, adding it was made of prawn paste to which Chelle said it tasted fine. Jenn was mid-way through her Char Siew Wan Than Mee or Tok-Tok Mee when she queried Lin regarding her dark-brown noodle dish.
"Char Kway Teow, something I really miss when living in the UK." Came her reply and Jenn asked to try some, finding it really oily but loved the ingredients like the large prawns and fish cake. Meals over, Patricia gave them a whirlwind tour of the wider George Town including Little India, the Khoo Kongsi, a UNESCO World Heritage site and other colonial areas.
Finally, at the Oei residence, they met the elderly, yet strong mother of Pearlyn and Patricia, Mei Hua. After greetings, she promised to cook a Nyonya meal for the girls before the end of their visit. Just as they were about to discuss where to head next, Jenn suddenly bolted to the toilet.
Chelle took this opportunity to yank Lin to a side room and questioned her regarding the explicit rivalry with her cousin. It took Lin five second before she said, "That girl, also known as Yan Lian, has been my constant rival since kindergarten, sports and family." She paused then explained that Stacey constantly accused Lin's father of constantly harassing Stacey's dad and thus contributing to his suicide.
"And what do your mother and aunt say? Was there any investigation?"
"There was a vague one and Yan Lian claims constant calls and emails from Pa regarding Uncle Sam's business. My Ma and Aunt don't really talk about it and..." they heard a flush and Jenn reappeared.
"Just a bit of stomach ache," Jenn remarked, popping an Imodium tablet in.
"It's the food. You want to rest here?" With Jenn's head shaking, Lin announced they should head to the beach, causing the shortest girl to groan. Lin checked in with her aunt Pat and they decided on Batu Ferringhi beach. Although that was a beach often filled with tourists, Patricia remarked that it wasn't 'large tourist' season and she knew a hotel where the girls could shower and change inside with no trouble.
Leaving Pearlyn and Stacey behind, Patricia beat the usual Penang traffic, arriving beach side within an hour.
"Look, there are people on the beach and water in full swimsuits," Jenn pointed and groaned.
"Oh, Jenn, there are women in bikinis as well," Lin countered. "Look, there's a more secluded area there so boys won’t look." Suddenly, Jenn ran forward.
"What's she up to, trying to get in the water fully-clothed?" Chelle wondered, removing her shorts. Jenn had in fact stopped near a small rockpile and began to remove the rocks, revealing what she spotted was a human hand, no it was a whole decomposing human body!
"Over here!" As her friends ran and saw the body, Lin called her aunt to notify the police. They arrived promptly and the detective in charge was donned not just with a full uniform but also with a thick moustache with the name tag reading 'Razak'. He curtly asked Jenn several questions then to the annoying cries of the beach-goers, most of the area was closed. Jenn however had to follow the police for a forensic search.
"It's quite different from Croonford police forensics department or other UK ones. And that Inspector Razak was more formal than friendly as the trio along with the adults gathered at Ayer Itam, where one of the island's most famous Assam laksa stalls was located. Everyone except Jenn ordered laksa, she went with a non-Hokkien dish, Hainanese Chicken Rice from a further away stall.
"So, it was a dead body?" Stacey asked as she spooned the rice noodles and broth onto her spoon. After learning what transpired, she remarked that dead people or murder cases on such populated beaches in Penang were rare.
"Still could be a case worth exploring," Chelle remarked after getting more hae kor to calm down the spiciness of the laksa.
"Girls, you're here on holiday not to search for dangerous adventures," Lin's mother reminded them and they all had to affirm that. With lunch finished, as they walk to the car, Jenn suddenly drew out her phone and showed the girls a picture of a watch lightly strapped to the dead man's right wrist.
"That's just a watch...." Lin started until Stacey asked to see it. "I've seen it before; it's sold only in shops in Balik Pulau." She explained it was a town on the western side of the island, dominated more by Malays and started off as spice plantations and other agriculture. The title translated to 'the back of the island' in English.
"Maybe, we should head over there." Chelle's suggestion however was cut short with the roar of thunder. The girls were thus trapped inside their guest house as the tropical rainstorm poured down. In the evening, as Chelle was alone in the guest room, she felt that once part of the wall was looser and produced a hollow sound unlike the other areas. Ignoring the risk of defacing the wall, she used a screwdriver and found that section of the wall was in fact a panel! Slowly, she opened it and found a thin diary there. She excitedly read the most recent entry until her phone beeped.
"Hey, look Nikki says she knows that Inspector Razak," Chelle showed her friends the WhatApp message which mentioned Razak took the same detective cause as their long-term police ally at Croonford CID. 'Tell him I say hi and who you girls are. But be very careful regarding a murder case.'
They all still agreed to meet Inspector Razak and mention the watch but the rain still was present. Once clear however, the girl detectives found themselves taking the cable car up part of the way along Penang hill then climbing the rest. They tried muruku, an Indian snack, locally roasted corn and condensed milk-flavoured tea before Lin's aunt agreed with the peculiar request to take them to the police station. Instead of entering. they found the Inspector exiting the station. Initially he rebuffed them, until Chelle showed him the WhatsApp message from now DCI Nikki Heath.
"Nicola, oh yes I remember her, she taught me more than the course did," he remarked, bringing a plate of dry Mee Siam with additional chilli sambal. The girls all ordered nasi lemak with Jenn initially struggling to de-bone the fried fish. Chelle immediately summarised who the three of them were and the only response were agreements through grunts. Jenn quickly showed him the photo of the watch and how Lin's cousin identified it from Balik Pulau.
"There are hundreds, no thousands of watch shops across the island and Seberang Perai," he replied, meaning the mainland which was officially part of the state of Penang and previously as Province Wellesley. The trio couldn't explain why they thought the origin of the watch was worth looking into.
"Let's go to Balik Pulau," Chelle suggested after they thanked him for lunch. Jenn did remind them what Lin's mother said about avoiding any detective-related cases.
"We are on a holiday, exploring unknown areas," Lin replied. She was annoyed that Stacey was asked to join but Chelle pointed out that she identified the origin of the watch and as she mentioned, she knew most of the area. Balik Pulau wasn't as easily accessible as the famous areas of Penang so Patricia again volunteered to drive them there, on condition they all return before early evening. After driving through a winding Jalan Tun Sardon, they reached the town and the girls cycled the remaining length on borrowed bicycles. Stacey pointed to the main landmarks then took them to the nearest watch shop. They explored nine shops and none displayed watches exactly like the dead man wore.
"Where's the next shop?" Chelle asked.
"It's close to the fishing village," Stacey pointed. "But it's getting late and my ma said to return home."
"We've still got time," the sleuth replied and she and Lin pedalled towards that direction. Stacey and Jenn called them but they soon disappeared out of sight.
"What the...is this what you girls have been up to? Rushing away into adventure?" Stacey asked.
"We're girl detectives, always into adventure...and get in trouble," Jenn replied.
Marseille, France 1630 local
This target is too easy, CIA field agent Claire Stirrup thought to herself for the umpteenth time. He doesn't move randomly, wears shoes that leave footprints as clear as day and hardly shaves. This is certainly a milk run she thought but was jolted as her target finally got off his seat. Slipping a few Euros under her coffee cup, she straightened her coat and kept her usual distance away from the rather lean-built man.
Claire Stirrup had an amazing life all the time. Born in New Hampshire, she had a fun-filled life, skiing with her parents every winter, excelling in her guides troop, playing hockey and breezing through her school years. She was educated on both sides of the Atlantic in Politics and International Relations but shunning the usual jobs, she applied and was accepted into the Central Intelligence Agency. 'I want to be a field agent', was her motto but instead her superiors shifted her from desk job to desk job until the position in France was open. Her first job was to follow a certain Mediterranean-ned skin man around for a few weeks, reporting on his activities. Her long-term expectations of the glamour of a field agent now came to a sudden halt after following, following and nothing but following a guy who appeared to be an innocent civilian.
Her target once more obediently followed the traffic rules, crossing at the lights instead of copying the half a dozen jaywalkers. Suddenly, instead of turning into his usual block of flats, he moved suddenly to the left. Ah, what's going on, Claire thought. As she reached into her pocket for her miniature camera, she felt a pin prick at the side neck. What the.. Claire's mind became foggy and she stumbled, swaying side to side and then…
"Silly bitch," her target friend, or rather simply known as Ibrahim Ahad remarked in heavily-accented English. The unconscious agent was swiftly pulled into a side building by Ibrahim's assistant who had fired the minute tranquiliser dart. Inside, Ibrahim and his assistant swiftly exchanged clothes and they applied extensive cream to their faces and some additional wig and fake beard on. "Secure her and get her ready for the operation. We don't have time."
Complying, his assistant wrapped cable ties over the agent's wrists and ankles, then brought them together and used another piece to lock her in a strict hog tie. Several pieces of duct tape were stuck across her lips, ensuring that even if she awoke, she would not be able to cry for help.
Near a Fishing Village
"No, we sell no such watch," the store owner grunted and waved away Chelle's phone. She pressed him again but told her to head back to 'her country.' Lin gave him a dirty look and was about to turn around until she noticed the tattoo on his now-exposed arm.
"That's the same..."
The shop owner bolted back and closed a metal grill and both girls managed to climb over the counter and gave chase. Their chase was cut short fast as loud barking noises and another man, instead wearing a black hood and holding a plastic taser while the store owner pointed a another at them. "Give it up! Unless you want stunned!” the 'store owner' yelled.
Before they react, both girls were pushed down and suddenly the floor moved vertically downwards, with the teen detectives quickly finding themselves in an under chamber. With the gun barrels pressed against their back, the girls were pushed further in through some plastic doors, then boots pushed them to the ground. There was constant chatter between both men and Lin tried to figure out the discussion, unsuccessfully. It wasn't Bahasa Melayu, the Malay lingo, nor was it any Chinese dialect. Were they even Malaysians in the first place? Both girls wondered what this place was and how they would escape.
Basement of some building, Marseille, France
As soon as Ahad left, his assistant carried the trussed-up CIA agent down several staircases into a room much like a medical operating theatre. There another colleague helped to remove her bonds and all her outer clothes with her bra loosened. Claire was then strapped tightly to a waveless waterbed, heated precisely to his skin temperature to help deaden her sense of feeling and sever any sensory input. A flimsy translucent sheet was draped over her to prevent excess moisture from awaking her.
An intravenous drip with a computerised metering device was fixed to her left arm, which quickly alternated a sedative, haloperidol, and phencyclidine hydrochloride or PCP, the powerful hallucinogen also known as 'angel dust' in tune with a electroencephalograph. Her gag was removed and a tube had been inserted into Claire's mouth to deaden her taste buds, to keep her teeth apart and to keep her from swallowing her tongue in case of an induced epileptic episode. Finally, her eyes were covered by a tight blindfold. Small earphones were inserted into her ears and misinformation was fed to her. However, as the same words were repeated the third time, foam came out of her mouth, her muscles twitched and the agent passed away.
Back in the chamber, Lin slowly noticed that they had some peculiar coating on them. It must be lead, she thought and tried to work why there was a need for that anti-radiation shielding. Her thoughts were only interrupted by additional men, two of them who locking their arms around both of them as they picked up.
“Move,” and both girls were prodded towards a side door. Inside, the sound of a conveyor belt could be heard and so could the humming of machines. There were several men in radiation shield suits suddenly appeared and one spoke with an electronic muffled voice. “We will be decontaminating you for the radiation you may have been exposed too. That means removing all your clothes and passing yourselves through a foam shower. Don’t try anything silly unless you want to suffer from radiation sickness.”
So that’s it, Lin thought. They are building some kind of nuclear device here. “Can," Chelle began but was silenced by a slap on her cheek. One suited man waved a Geiger counter across the girls and announced, pointing at Michelle, “She’s higher.” The sleuth was prodded towards the running belt and again told to strip. A sharp prod in the back was the response to her hesitation thus Chelle reached behind her back to remove her shirt. One of those suited men whistled as she undid her bra and knickers with Lin giving him a dirty look.
“Go on, get in,". Gingerly the naked teen covered her breasts and stepped forward, thankful the shower was enclosed then yelped as a blast of creamy foam splattered all over her. “Rub yourself; it’s not poisonous,” came further orders through a speaker. It may be but it’s sure yucky, thought as she was moved further in by the belt. Surprisingly, the foam fell off her body like dust by the time she reached the end. Another suited person was waiting for her with an open bathrobe. What a wonderful clothing, she thought and gingerly accepted the rough robe. He swept another Geiger counter across her and pronounced her free of radiation. Two other suited men quickly restrained her with coarse rope and stuffed a slightly dirty piece of cloth in her mouth, sealing it with a longer piece of cloth.
It was Lin’s turn next and her C-cup breasts brought another hooting from the men as she discarded her black bra. Dressed in the gown, the Geiger counter still read some radiation. “Her fingernails,” the same man announced and forced her hands between some bars. “Ok,” he announced and Lin was trussed and gagged in similar fashion. The two bound and gagged girls were immediately marched off and pushed against two separate plastic poles with their captors tying them to the poles.
The girls naturally start to struggle wildly as the men moved away. There were many times their gadgets were intentionally taken away from them but this time, their stuff was left thousands of kilometres away back home. Both girls thought rope would be easy to get loose but this kind of rope proved them wrong. Lin's struggles made her rise up and she spotted the men crouching over something. Words from a nearby wooden panel with a date, '1/21/1968.' Wait, that's...Lin's mind fluttered back to reading a Cold War history book. The 1968 Thule Air Force Base Crash! But they should have recovered the debris and the bombs. No, it was not fully certain all four bombs were recovered. Was this nuclear material from that crash? Were they going to launch an attack on the whole island? A piece of paper fluttered, reading 'Emeritus.'
Above ground, Patricia Oei was frantic and screaming. "What do you mean they cycled away?"
Shivering, Jenn explained what happened. "Get back in the car," Pearlyn ordered the two girls. It was also her own fault; she had stopped for a coffee break therefore did not keep a full eye on all the girls. She drove fast towards the direction Chelle and Lin took but did not find the particular watch shop they visited. After circling around and checking with locals, there was no clue so Patricia frantically called the police.
Inspector Razak took the case, dispatched several units but didn't think it was a high priority case. Just then, he received another call. Initially, the caller identified himself by unit number and Razak thought it was a prank call.
"You have a dead body found recently..."
"Look, whoever you are...."
"I'm," the caller identified himself as Officer Azim from the Special Branch, causing Razak to sit up after checking the unit number The Special Branch was the country’s internal intelligence service. "The body is the brother of someone on our watchlist, Bakr. More importantly, we received a tip off from the Americans that there's an impending terrorist attack near Penang and Bakr is part of the terrorist cell. Get your people on alert! I'm flying over!"
Both Chelle and Lin continued to struggle and the former finally managed to loosen her wrist bonds. However, the captors had long left and Lin cried through her gag as they carried something in a pack out. Just as Lin tugged against the knots, there was a commotion and a squad of Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) officers burst in, with Inspector Razak holding his service Glock 19 up. "It's a nuclear device! They're targeting the cruiser liner Emeritus!" Lin yelled as her gag was removed.
"We know," Razak replied then noted the decontamination equipment around. "Get a HAZMAT team here!"
Hours later, the local newscaster read, "Malaysian RMP officers and their UTK or Special Actions Unit along with Special Branch officers, detained or removed a terrorist group that was aiming to attack a cruise liner filled with ASEAN foreign ministers and their delegations. The RMP have cleared the island and declared Batu Ferringhi beach open. In other news..."
"A nuclear device?" Jenn asked.
"Broken Arrow," Lin explained the story of the B-52 crash, the nuclear bomb that was missing recovered by the terrorist cell and how it linked to the expert killed in Los Angeles.
"Lin Ling, girls," Pearlyn reduced the volume of the TV, "you disobeyed me and your aunt. I’ve the very mind to...."
Just then the doorbell rang and it was Inspector Razak out of his uniform. “I hope I'm not interrupting anything. Usually, we at the RMP don't give out any awards. I did however get my superiors to approve these. I hope I spelt your names correctly." He handed out certificates to all three teen detectives that acknowledged their contributions to Penang RMP, albeit not mentioning the terrorist cell. "I may be visiting the UK soon, so may stop by to meet you three and Nicola. Selamat Petang."
That meant 'Good Evening' in Malay.
"Well, that's some thanks. I'll excuse you girls again but you all aren't totally off the hook. Go help your grandma to prepare dinner, Lin."
Before Lin could move, Chelle yanked her and Stacey aside and showed both girls the entry she read. It showed that Stacey’s father was unable to manage his own business and was harassed not by Lin's father but by other colleagues, contributing to his suicide.
"There's not feud at all. I want you two to make up, now," Chelle remarked in an authoritative tone.
"I still hate you getting a black belt earlier than me," Lin said.
"And I dislike that..."
"Shake hands," Chelle ordered and the two cousins instead hugged each other.
Dinner as Mei Hua promised was a traditional meal. The guests got to try Kuih Tai Tai or Pulot Tartal which Jenn fell in love with. There was Perut Ikan made mostly from pickled fish stomach but the girls found it delicious. Jenn also appreciated the Jiu Hu Char which took hours to prepare and was now comfortable with the sambal belacan."
"Oh, our flight is delayed till tomorrow evening," Pearlyn checked.
"Great!" Lin called.
The next morning at the beach, Chelle and Lin were down to their black halter and strapless skimpy purple bikinis. Jenn however, was still unsure.
"Come on Jenn!" Her friends called. That took another call and a check that the beach was populated with females. Finally, Jenn was down to her white bikini and Lin dragged both her detective friends into the ocean, creating sequels from the chill and delight.
Michelle, Lin Ling, Jennifer, Mark and Reinhard will return in a story, title not yet confirmed.