“Why don’t you call Hooper and Bullock?”

“Why them?”

“Because I’m betting they don’t pick up.” “Why wouldn’t they?”

“Just call them.”

She did so and there was no answer on either phone.

Landry put her cell away. “Both went to voice mail. But they could be asleep.”



“Just don’t think so.”

“You’re not implying that they’re somehow involved in all this.”

“We don’t have time for explanations. Are you coming or not?”

Landry drew another long breath.

Puller said, “I think t

he town can get along without you for a few hours.”

“If this costs me my job?”

“Then you can kick my ass. And I’ll help you get another job.”

Landry smiled resignedly. “And your friend the general?”

“She’ll help you too.”

“Right, like I believe that. I don’t see us being best friends.”

“You might be surprised. Let’s go.”

“Where exactly?”

Puller pointed toward the Gulf.

“Out there.”


The boat was not large, and the seas were rough. Water continually washed over the sides of the boat.

Puller had everyone put their weapons in a watertight compartment. Mecho had given up his gun reluctantly.

Puller could hardly blame him. He did not like to be without a weapon either.

Puller had the wheel of the twenty-two-foot bow rider that Diaz had led them to. It was the same one they had used to dispose of the bodies of the men they killed. There was still some blood on one of the gunwales.

When Landry saw this she looked startled, but on a glance from Puller she said nothing. However, there was wariness in her eyes after that as she stood next to him at the helm holding on as the boat bounced over the waters.

Mecho had given Puller general directions to follow to the oil platform. In the darkness he was navigating by compass and the GPS plotter.

“Are you sure about these directions?” asked Puller. Mecho nodded, though he didn’t look all that confident.

Carson came to stand next to him. She held up her smartphone.

“Before we left land I had my office forward me the locations of every platform within fifty miles of Florida. There is one that is far closer to the coast than any other. Here are the coordinates.”

Puller looked at the numbers on her phone and then checked his plotter. He shot Mecho a glance. “Your memory is good. It’s pretty much right where you said it was.”

A wave hit them and Puller had to execute a sharp turn.

Puller looked at Landry, who was watching the rising seas with caution.

“Why so rough out here?” he asked. “Remember Tropical Storm Danielle? It’s heading this way. Might get up to a Cat One. We’re catching the front edge of it.”

“Great, love the timing,” said Puller.

“You want me to pilot?”

“I got it.”

Landry looked over at Diaz. “That’s the woman from Lampert’s place. Murdoch, right?” “Right.”

“What’s she doing here?”

“Her name isn’t Murdoch.”

“What is it then?”

“Diaz. She’s a cop.”

“A Fed?”

“You could say that. She was planted at Lampert’s.”

“Lampert? He’s involved in this?”

“Apparently his source of wealth is selling people.”

“Jesus! And his car being blown up?”

“A not so subtle warning that someone was on his track.”

Landry pointed at Diaz. “Her?”

“No, the big guy over there.”

“Why him? Is he a cop too?”

“No. I think this is more personal with him.” Mecho sat in one of the stem seats and stared straight ahead. The pitching and rolling of the boat seemed to have no effect on him.

However, Carson and Diaz were leaning over the sides of the boat and looking green.

Landry observed this and said, “They don’t have their sea legs.”

“Carson is Army. She’s used to firm land under her feet. Diaz, I don’t know.”

The boat caught a large wave the wrong way and nearly capsized. They were all drenched.

Puller regained control and focused on the seas ahead. “Take a seat, Landry, and hold on.” Puller turned and called out to the others, “Everybody get life jackets on, now. This is going to get worse before it gets better.”

They all pulled on life jackets, although Mecho’s was far too small. It wouldn’t even stretch across his chest so he just held on to it.

Puller looked up ahead. The sky was jet black even though the dawn wasn’t all that far off. While light would be welcome so he could see the approaching waves better, he preferred the dark. Attacking something in broad daylight was never a good idea even with superior numbers.

And they would not have superior numbers.

They would in fact probably be vastly outnumbered, with prisoners who could instantly be turned into hostages. It would take perfection to actually pull this off. And one almost never achieved perfection on the battlefield.

The VHF radio mounted underneath the helm squawked. Diaz must have programmed it to sound off when there were weather alerts available. Puller picked it up, listened to the taped announcement. He put the handheld back in its slot and looked grim.

Carson crab-walked over to him as the boat rolled and pitched in waves that were far higher than it.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Small craft warning was just issued. Ordered to get to shore.”

“Well, we’re going the other way,” said Carson.

“You okay on the water?”

“If I were I would’ve joined the Navy.”

“I’d take you back to shore if I could.”

“I wouldn’t let you. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force. We all go where the battle will be fought. Get there however we can.”

“With that attitude you’ll get at least three stars, General.”

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