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Authors: Michael Howe

Trident Force

BOOK: Trident Force
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Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Berkley Book /published by arrangement with the author
Berkley edition / December 2008
Copyright © 2008 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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eISBN : 978-1-440-65480-0
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Rio de Janeiro
Carlos Coccoli inhaled his cigarette in long, slow drags as he leaned over the safety railing and looked twelve stories down into Graving Dock Number Three. Behind him, half a mile and two security fences away, lay the industrial northeast of Rio de Janeiro. In front lay the wide, dark waters of the Baia de Guanabara.
Despite the late hour, the blue-white glare of the Xenon floods lighted the hole with the intensity of the tropical noon sun. He studied the dock's gray-black concrete sides; the various cave-like mezzanines and work platforms built into those gray-black sides; the puddles of black water that glistened on the dock floor and the row of keel blacks lined up along the bottom about a hundred feet from the far wall. The dock was over twelve hundred feet long and over five hundred wide. Built to accept all but the most insanely large ships. It was so big, thought Carlos, that it had made
Aurora Australis
, the ship that had occupied it up till a few hours before, look like a toy. They could easily have fit three
s in there.
“Umberto,” called Carlos over his shoulder, “I now see why you like working here so. This dock reminds you of that quarry you used to work in.”
“I'd be better off back there,” replied Umberto, who was standing on the concrete apron a few yards back from the edge of the dock, in the dense shadow created by a work shed and the framework of one of the many surrounding cranes.
Carlos didn't want to hear that sort of thing but said nothing as he joined his taller companion in the shadows. They stood there, dressed in light gray coveralls with Tecmar badges sewn to them, and smoked in silence. Even after dark the yard was still very busy, but the area around Graving Dock Number Three was also almost unsettlingly quiet. There were no air compressors roaring. There was no banging and crashing of steel on steel. No shrieking of hull and deck plates being cut to precise shapes. No screeching of railroad wheels on tracks. There were no truck horns and backing alarms. Even the sounds of the city, very much alive on the far side of the security fences surrounding the yard, were all but lost in the thick night air.
Where, the day before, the cruise ship
Aurora Australis
had rested now only a row of keel blocks, surrounded by black puddles of water, remained on the dock's floor. Once the overhaul had been completed, the dock had been flooded and the steel doors opened. Tugs had worked the cruise ship out into the channel; the doors had been closed again and the dock pumped dry, leaving the lingering smell of petroleum and burnt steel, which permeates all shipyards. Tomorrow the blocks would be repositioned in preparation for the dock's next guest, but tonight it slept.
“It's hotter than hell,” snarled Umberto as he swatted what sounded to him like a mosquito.
“No hotter than usual,” replied Carlos, speaking and moving with the abrupt self-confidence of a young man who knows he's headed up in a world filled with fools. “You worried all of a sudden?” As he spoke, he looked out over the dark waters of the Baia de Guanabara, the tear-shaped body of water that separates Rio from Niterói to the east. He watched the car lights moving across the distant Rio-Niterói bridge. The great span had been there all his life, and now was probably the last time he would see it. He wondered briefly if he would miss it. Of course not! The tourists might find Rio enchanting, but for millions of
, including Carlos, it was nothing more than a suffocating prison filled with poverty and frustration. A prison that was becoming more and more crowded as the rural poor flooded in, thinking life was better in the big city.
Thanks to Omar he now had the chance to escape. Within a few minutes he would be very rich; able to visit practically any bridge in the world. Able to do practically anything, for that matter.
“Hell, no! Why should I be?”
“Having second thoughts?”
“Shit, no. Have I ever?” The expression on Umberto's face seemed to belie his words.
“Good. With what they're paying us, we'll never have to have second thoughts again about anything.”
“Where the hell is he? Who the hell is he? Really?”
Carlos glanced at him, snorted, then looked away again. While Graving Dock Number Three might be sleeping, the rest of the shipyard was not. A quarter of a mile away, a Venezuelan ULLC, a supertanker, was parked in Graving Dock Number Two, bathed in its own banks of brilliant floods while its bottom was cleaned, repaired and painted. Another half mile beyond that a deep-drilling rig was under construction for Petrobras, the Brazilian national oil company. Up and down the coast of South America, the shipbuilding business was booming. From where Carlos and Umberto stood, however, the noise of the rest of the yard was barely a muted mumble, almost as if it were coming from another planet.
“You do understand that we have to disappear forever . . . tonight. We can't be in Rio or anywhere nearby tomorrow morning.”
“Those new IDs he's supposed to bring us . . .”
“He showed me mine. They're good.”
“What about Anna?”
“I told you, I'm not bringing her. She's stupid. I can't trust her. With the money we're getting I can do much better. You and me are both going to be rich and free as birds.”
“How does Omar know we did it right? That we didn't cheat him?”
“He has some way of checking. Omar's no fool. Probably somebody in the crew. Somebody's got to detonate the damn things.”
“You think a lot of them will get killed?”
“Their asses are going to be blown to hell. I'm going to love it. They've been raping us and everybody else for centuries. They don't mind a few of us dying if they can make some money on the deal, so why should we let a few of them stand between us and millions of dollars? U.S dollars. Even the sheiks who own this place don't like them.”
“You think Omar is working for him? The sultan?”
“Seems likely. He's some sort of Arab, I think, though he talks almost like a

“Is the sultan an Arab?”
“Is there some other kind?”
Umberto was silent and Carlos cursed to himself. The fool was having second thoughts, he concluded as he looked out over the harbor, at the lights sparkling along the Niterói shore and at the full moon, huge and yellow, hanging above it. Umberto was far too nervous—it was hard to believe he had worked for years as a blaster in a quarry.
Whatever he may have done in the past, he was now having second thoughts about their recent and future activities. Losing his nerve. In this condition he was dangerous. Dangerous to Carlos. And Carlos started to have second thoughts about him.
As Carlos considered what to do about his tall, thin co-conspirator, the light of a pair of headlights swept across the concrete apron. As they moved side to side, the beams dodged some air compressors and welding machines, only to fully illuminate others. Periodically they dipped down and reflected on the railroad tracks set into the apron.
“This must be him,” said Umberto, a note of relief in his voice.
“Yes,” agreed Carlos, watching as a beat-up van with “Estaleiro Tecmar” written on its side pulled up to the crane and stopped.
“Isn't this a surprise,” commented the van's driver, a thin, darkish man, dressed in a blue coveralls identical to those worn by his victims. The driver could have been either Arab or Latin and would have fit into practically any crowd anywhere. “Carlos and Umberto taking the night air under a crane.”
“Don't be funny,” snapped Carlos, irritated at their employer's tone. “Our work was satisfactory, wasn't it?”
“Very much so. The oppressed of the world are very much in your debt.”
Before either victim could react, the driver raised a small-caliber pistol and shot each in the forehead. The pistol made a breathy pop when it was fired, one easily mistaken for the sound of a pneumatic tool being disconnected from the air hose that had provided its power. The two ship fitters each grunted and collapsed to the grimy concrete, where they twitched slightly. The driver opened the door and stepped down onto the apron.
BOOK: Trident Force
13.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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