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datatime: 2022-12-04 06:06:32 Author:METhSBLM

Mason turned and held up four fingers. It was an unnecessary gesture because all his men were plugged into the helicopter's communications system, but he did it for emphasis. The tension was so thick he could have cut it with the knife at his belt. It seemed only seconds passed before the pilot said, "Visual contact."

"Boiler room. Engines are purring away. No one here either."

"Boiler room. Engines are purring away. No one here either."

Mason donned his night-vision goggles and ordered his platoon to do the same. He made out the silhouette of an enormous ship plowing wake through the sea. He called the other teams to report visual contact. Both had sighted their targets. He said he would call as soon as he was aboard the LZ, military shorthand for landing zone, and quickly slipped his phone back into its pouch.

"When we do, I will call you. Over and out."

"Call when you make visual contact."

"This is Omega One. Proceed according to plan and cut out the lousy poetry."

A voice crackled in Mason's earpiece. "Up Squad. Gone through the crew and officers' quarters. Beds all made. No one here. Spooky as hell."

"This is Omega One. Proceed according to plan and cut out the lousy poetry."

The voice of the 2IC came onto Mason's radio. "Lieu tenant, I think you should get up to the bridge as quickly as possible."

"Call when you make visual contact."

The squads continued into the ship, and still they encountered no one. After a thorough search, they climbed back to the main deck.

"This is Omega One. Proceed according to plan and cut out the lousy poetry."

"T minus four," the pilot's voice droned.

Moving quickly, Mason led his team to the wheelhouse. On the way, they passed men who were stationed on the decks and wings of the bridge keeping watch.

Every man knew that this was when the teams were at their most vulnerable. As they had practiced dozens of times, the SEALs dropped a two-inch-thick rope that was secured to the hoist bracket down to the deck, then they donned heavy welder gloves. Mason stood in the door, got a good grip on the line and jumped. Using the upper body strength that was a product of rigorous SEAL training, he checked his controlled fall before his feet touched the deck, quickly moving aside to avoid the next man down.

Mason ordered the teams forward. They broke into two squads on both sides. One squad formed the base element, taking up firing positions to protect the other group as it raced forward. Then the assault team became the fire team and the other squad leapfrogged ahead in a maneuver that quickly covered ground.

Mason turned and held up four fingers. It was an unnecessary gesture because all his men were plugged into the helicopter's communications system, but he did it for emphasis. The tension was so thick he could have cut it with the knife at his belt. It seemed only seconds passed before the pilot said, "Visual contact."

"Anything?" Mason said to the man who carried the shotgun.

Moving quickly, Mason led his team to the wheelhouse. On the way, they passed men who were stationed on the decks and wings of the bridge keeping watch.

"Omega Three. All A-OK."

They were seconds away from their target. At the last moment, when it seemed as if they were going to slam into the side of the ship, the Seahawks cut their speed, swooped up and over the vessel and hovered over each side of the wide stern deck. Thermal-imaging viewers scanned the ship for heat areas that would indicate human presence. Satisfied the deck was clear, the pilot maneuvered the aircraft past the masts and antennae and hovered at fifty feet.

"T minus four," the pilot's voice droned.

"Omega Two. Stern secured. No one home, so we will roam."

"Omega Three. All A-OK."

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