A Time for Heists: The Greatest Treasure

What would you do if you have the power to alter the course of history and change the world’s opinion about the great man who inspired the Philippine revolution?
 
Joseph’s professional thieving business which he runs with his reclusive friend, Herman, is thriving, not lacking for internationally rich and famous clients from whom they accept “projects” and get sky-high commissions as reward for their “extraordinary skills.”
 
But this particular job gives him the creeps. He has to steal a rare Rizal bust wherein the national hero’s letters on the whereabouts of the richest gold deposit in the Philippines are said to be hidden. To make matters worse, the bust is located in a seemingly impregnable yacht fortress in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, guarded by dangerous creatures he prefers not to encounter.
 
The client also requires that one of her own people do the job with him, and Joseph always works alone. But okay, a beautiful, all-woman but equally skilled thief, Amanda, may not be a bad companion, after all. That is, until he learns that her marching orders are to dispose of him once the bust is secured.
 
Now why would an apparently insignificant piece of wood generate such homicidal act on the part of his client? Surely, those letters don’t hold the power to alter the course of history and change the world’s opinion about the great man who inspired the Philippine revolution—or do they?

The deafening explosion which rocked the tranquil atmosphere at the Gold Coast Yacht and Country Club was heard at exactly six fifteen in the evening, just when the sun was setting in its home in the west, that exact moment when its red orange hue was about to darken into purple blue. It was followed by chaos and upheaval such as never before seen in the usually quiet and uneventful marina.

Seconds after the explosion, frantic people rushed along the floating dock, shouting, “Fire! Fire!” Running feet, panicked shouts, splashes of water followed. Everyone’s focus was on the burning super yacht which was no doubt on its way to sink into the depths of the South China Sea.

Which was why they barely noticed a lone man walking gingerly away from the fire scene, instead of toward it. Tall, broad-shouldered and donned in a blue thermoprene shorty wetsuit which molded his hard, muscled body perfectly, he strode barefoot, noiselessly on the dock. In his left hand, he gripped a 133 cubic foot steel air tank. His right hand clutched a large, gray duffel bag.

If anyone took a closer look at him and wondered why he was oblivious to the ruckus, they’d notice the earphones clamped to his ears, and they’d come to the conclusion that he was listening to songs at full blast, rendering him almost deaf from all the noise. Amid the commotion and as far as everyone was concerned, he was insignificant.

Of course, they wouldn’t know that his ‘earphones’ were connected to a thin, iPod-like device inside his suit, taped to his bare chest. Or that his wetsuit wasn’t wet, especially his naturally thick, wavy hair with sides cut short. Or that he was now in possession of a very valuable object—which he effortlessly took under a framed poster of Michael Jackson from the now burning yacht—and for which he would be paid a hefty sum of money.

“Joseph, you didn’t have to do that,” an irate male voice spoke from the ‘earphone’ in the man’s ear.

“What? What did I do?” Joseph asked, feigning ignorance. He tightly grasped the handle of the duffel bag, moving it out of harm’s way when a group of burly firemen marched toward him, bumping into him in their haste to do their job.

“You could’ve walked out of there and no one will be any the wiser. Instead, you caused the yacht’s kitchen to explode.”

“Relax, my friend, no one’s there. The overindulgent teens are in another yacht far from there, partying to their hearts’ content.”

“Someday, I fear you’ll hurt someone. May that someone be not yourself.If it comes to that, I’ll laugh at your grave.”

“Herman, I always go out with a bang, you know that,” Joseph chuckled.

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