IF ONLY the pirates had known what they were getting themselves into they might have chosen a different mark.
Now it’s too late: they’re already committed. They’ve singled out their target and closed in, approaching the massive vessel in three battered aluminium fast-boats, intent on capturing the officers and crew and taking control of the bridge.
A haul of this size will be the making of these until-now-smalltime criminals. In the grimy backstreets of Porto Pequeno, a frontier town clinging to no-man’s-land between Venezuela and Guyana, the men holding the mighty Jeddah will be heroes. The ransom its owner will pay will be a literal fortune by local standards.
Aubrey Sentro first learns of the attack when unfamiliar voices fill the corridor outside her cabin.
She certainly hasn’t been expecting this. The voyage started normally enough for Sentro and her companions, a handful of paying passengers aboard a working cargo ship, with a quick call in port in Georgia before heading out across the Caribbean towards South America’s north-easternmost tip.
It’s supposed to be a long-overdue break for Sentro, recently returned from yet another infiltration-and-extraction mission in a scruffy part of the world and experiencing memory lapses courtesy of several concussions too many. Ex-military, Sentro now uses the skills developed in army intelligence to operate covertly for a private firm that specialises in hostage retrieval.
As far as her family knows, however, she works in something called “reinsurance” and travels frequently for a white-collar desk job. Back home in Maryland, Sentro’s adult children think she’s on a leisure cruise, no doubt sipping cocktails by the pool on some 21st-century version of Hollywood’s Love Boat.
Not in their wildest nightmares could they imagine their mother pitting herself against 13 heavily armed mercenaries in a battle for survival.
Little do they know what she’s capable of doing.