high-tech countries allowed them to outpace the more restrictive nations in nearly every measure of progress. This openness also made her job as an industrial spy much easier. She felt a small twinge of guilt at the thought of stealing the information from her old flame’s fledgling company, but she suppressed that reaction. She had harmed no one, and in a few years’ time, most of Pangen’s secrets would be well documented in scientific journals. Her consulting relationship with Ian Parnell simply allowed her to cash in on the impatience of Pangen’s wealthiest rival.
4 ROOSEVELT ROADS NAVAL STATION, PUERTO RICO
The surf rolled in against the beach, four-foot waves cresting and crashing with a dull roar and the hiss of briny foam. The sky was partly overcast as the remnants of a late-season tropical storm drifted over the Caribbean island. The long stretch of beach along Puerto Rico’s eastern coastline was deserted, not because of the weather but because this area was off-limits. Traditional naval operations controlled a majority of the base real estate. The untamed jungle, just north of the docks and support facilities, was home to Navy Special Warfare Unit Three. It was here that Nolan Kilkenny’s squad of SEALs had been sent to prepare for their mission. It was late in the afternoon, with dusk only an hour away, when the first black shape emerged from the surf. A head peered out from beneath the waves, scanning the beach. As quickly as it appeared, it vanished. A moment later, seven black-suited figures emerged from the sea, riding an ebbing wave onto the sand. Black neoprene wet suits covered each of the men from head to toe, protecting them from the strength-sapping chill resulting from their long exposures to cool salt water. Their swim fins had been removed in the water and hooked to their dive belts in preparation for the transition from sea to land. All were armed and each focused his attention on a specific section of the beach. They thought and acted as one. ‘Master Chief,’ Nolan Kilkenny called out, ‘did everybody make it home?’ ‘Hoo-yah, sir!’ Master Chief Max Gates replied. ‘Just a walk in the park.’ ‘Very well, then. This beach is secure and the exercise is over!’ Kilkenny announced. ‘Stow your gear and clean your weapons.’ Kilkenny slipped his mask down around his neck and stood to survey the beach. ‘Rodriguez.’ ‘Yes, sir,’ replied a short fireplug of a man who had been born in a small town near the base. ‘Nice job on point.’ ‘No sweat, sir. I just followed the smell of my mama’s cooking.’ A pang of regret hit Kilkenny-that was a smell he would never follow home again. Kilkenny’s squad walked the short distance from the beach to the huts that served as their base of operation. Loose gear was removed first, dive belts, masks, and fins, and dunked in a large barrel of freshwater to rinse off the brine. Next off came the closed-circuit rebreathing units the SEALs used in place of the more common open-circuit scuba tanks. The rebreathing units, which recycled the diver’s exhaled air for reuse, allowed the SEALs to approach a target from beneath the water without leaving a telltale stream of bubbles along the surface. The men stripped their weapons down and carefully inspected and cleaned each component. This work was done quietly and with the utmost seriousness. Each member of the squad relied on the others, and none wanted a mission to fail or a buddy to be hurt because of something as preventable as a dirty weapon. After reassembling and stowing his Heckler-Koch submachine gun and his 9-mm pistol, Kilkenny checked the in-basket in his hut. Inside, he found a manila envelope containing the latest satellite photos of the Haitian jungles. After a week of hard preparation, his team was beginning to gel. He had them eat, sleep, and breathe the mission twenty-four hours a day. Each piece of the equipment that they would use was becoming like a