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datatime: 2022-12-01 01:05:56 Author:wdMTALJJ

"Roger," Louis answered, although it must have killed him not to say "Dodger."

"Doubt if the admiral would like being called Goldilocks. Besides, it was the air force's turn to name this mission."

Mason got on his cell phone. "Omega Three. Stern LZ secured. No assets encountered. Report in, Omega Two."

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

Within minutes, they had rendezvoused in the bow of the ship with the port team. Mason ordered his 2IC to probe the bridge and superstructure while he took his squad to the decks below. Using the same leapfrog technique, Mason and his men made rapid progress through the storage areas and holds. They stopped in front of one door that was welded shut. Since they couldn't get in, no one could get out, so they moved on. They burst into the boiler room with guns ready. The engines were going, but there was no sign of boiler men or engineers.

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.

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.

"Figures. Fly boys. T minus eight."

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.

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

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

"Roger," Louis answered, although it must have killed him not to say "Dodger."

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

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

"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.

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."

"Omega Three. All A-OK."

Within minutes, they had rendezvoused in the bow of the ship with the port team. Mason ordered his 2IC to probe the bridge and superstructure while he took his squad to the decks below. Using the same leapfrog technique, Mason and his men made rapid progress through the storage areas and holds. They stopped in front of one door that was welded shut. Since they couldn't get in, no one could get out, so they moved on. They burst into the boiler room with guns ready. The engines were going, but there was no sign of boiler men or engineers.

Mason punched another button and got Will Carmichael, leader of Omega Three. In contrast to Louis, Carmichael went by the book. Even his spontaneous comments seemed to be programmed. He reported that his team was right on schedule, then added, "Pieceacake."

"Roger. Hey, Zack, couldn't the navy brass come up with something more imaginative than Omega. Maybe something like the Three Bears?"

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

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

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.

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

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