0215 Hours, Arabian Sea
5 Miles South of the Indus River
Coast of Pakistan
A DARKENED SHIP is a burdened ship, Moore thought as he
stood outside the pilothouse of the OSA-1 fast attack
craft Quwwat. She was indigenously built by the Karachi
Shipyard and Engineering Works and based on an old Soviet
design, complete with four HY-2 surface-to-surface missiles
and two twin 25-millimeter antiaircraft guns. Three diesel engines
and three shafts propelled the 130-foot-long patrol boat
at thirty knots across waves tinged silver by a quarter-moon
shimmering low on the horizon. Running at "darken ship"
meant no range or masthead lights, no port or starboard running
lights. International Regulations for Preventing Collisions
at Sea (COLREGS) dictated that were an incident to occur,
Quwwat would be at fault regardless of the circumstances.
Earlier in the evening, at dusk, Moore had walked down a
Karachi pier with Sublieutenant Syed Mallaah, trailed by four
enlisted men, a SPECOPS team from the Pakistan Special Service
Group Navy (SSGN), an organization similar to the U.S.
Navy SEALs, but, ahem, their operators were hardly as capable.
Once aboard the Quwwat, Moore had insisted on a quick
tour that ended with a cursory introduction to the commanding
offi cer, Lieutenant Maqsud Kayani, who was distracted
as he issued orders to leave port. The CO couldn't have been
much older than Moore, who was thirty-fi ve himself, but the
comparisons stopped there. Moore's broad shoulders stood
in sharp juxtaposition to Kayani's lean cycler's physique that
barely tented up his uniform. The lieutenant had a hooked nose,
and if he'd shaved in the past week, there was no clear evidence.
Despite his rugged appearance, he had the twenty-eight-man
crew's utmost attention and respect. He spoke. They jumped.
Kayani eventually gave Moore a fi rm handshake and said, "Welcome
aboard, Mr. Fredrickson."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. I appreciate your assistance."
They spoke in Urdu, Pakistan's national language, which
Moore had found easier to learn than Dari, Pashto, or Arabic.
He'd been identifi ed as "Greg Fredrickson," an American, to
these Pakistani naval men, although his darker features, thick
beard, and long, black hair now pulled into a ponytail allowed
him to pass for an Afghan, Pakistani, or Arab if he so desired.
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES
Lieutenant Kayani went on: "Have no worries, sir. I plan
to arrive at our destination promptly, if not early. This boat's
name means prowess, and she's every bit of that."
Point Foxtrot, the rendezvous zone, lay three miles off the
Pakistan coast and just outside the Indus River delta. There,
they would meet with the Indian patrol boat Agray to accept a
prisoner. The Indian government had agreed to turn over a
recently captured Taliban commander, Akhter Adam, a man
they claimed was a High-Value Target with operational intelligence
on Taliban forces located along the southern line of the
Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Indians believed that Adam
had not yet alerted his own forces of his capture; he had simply
gone missing for twenty-four hours. Still, time was of the essence.
Both governments wanted to ensure that the Taliban
was not tipped off that Adam had fallen into American hands.
Therefore, no American military assets or forces were being
used in the transfer operation—except a certain CIA paramilitary
operations offi cer named Maxwell Steven Moore.
Admittedly, Moore had misgivings about using a security
team of SSGN guys led by a young, inexperienced sublieutenant;
however, during the briefi ng he'd been told that
Mallaah, a local boy from Thatta in Sindh Province, was fi ercely
loyal, trusted, and highly respected. In Moore's book, loyalty,
trust, and respect were earned, and they would see if the young
sublieutenant was up for the challenge. Mallaah's job was, after
all, rudimentary: oversee the transfer and help protect Moore
and the prisoner.
Assuming that Akhter Adam made it safely aboard, Moore
would begin interrogating him during the trip back to the
Karachi pier. For his part, Moore would use that time to determine
if the commander was indeed an HVT worthy of serious
CIA attention or somebody to leave behind for the Pakistanis
to play with.
Forward of the port beam, the blackness was pierced by
three quick white fl ashes from the Turshian Mouth lighthouse
guarding the entrance to the Indus River. The sequence repeated
every twenty seconds. Farther east, nearer the bow, Moore
picked up the single white fl ash from the Kajhar Creek light, and
that fl ash repeated every twelve seconds. The sealed-beam revolving
beacon of the often-disputed Kajhar Creek (aka the Sir
Creek light) was situated on the Pakistan-India border. Moore
had taken special note of the lighthouse names, locations, and
their identifying fl ash sequences from the navigational charts
rolled out during the briefi ng. Old SEAL habits died hard.
With moonset at 0220 and fi fty percent cloud cover, he
anticipated pitch-black conditions for the 0300 rendezvous.
The Indians were running at darken ship, too. In a pinch the
Turshian Mouth and Kajhar Creek lighthouses would keep him
Lieutenant Kayani held true to his word. They reached Point
Foxtrot at 0250 hours, and Moore shifted around the pilothouse
to the only available night-vision scope mounted on
the port side. Kayani was already there, manning the scope.
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES
Meanwhile, Mallaah and his team waited on the main deck,
midships, to haul the prisoner across once the Indian vessel
Kayani backed away from the night scope and offered it to
Moore. Despite the gathering clouds, starlight provided suffi -
cient photons to bathe the Indian Pauk-class patrol boat in a
green eerie twilight, bright enough to expose the numerals 36
painted on her hull. Approaching bows-on, at twice the weight
of the Quwwat, the fi ve-hundred-ton Agray carried eight GRAIL
surface-to-air missiles and dual RBU-1200 ASW rocket launchers
up on her bow. Each ten-tube system was capable of de ploying
decoys and ASW rockets for surface-to-surface and antisubmarine
warfare operations. The Quwwat felt diminutive in
As the Agray began to drift down the port side and prepared
to come about to make her approach, Moore spotted her
name painted in black letters across the stern, rising above the
mist agitated by the bow wash. He then glanced through the
pilothouse door out to the starboard bridge wing and caught a
short-long, short-long light fl ash. He tried to remember which
lighthouse used that light sequence. The Agray completed her
turn, and Kayani was now busy leaning over the port side, directing
the placement of fenders to minimize any hull damage
once the two ships came together.
The fl ashes came again: short-long, short-long.
Lighthouse, my ass, Moore thought. ALPHA-ALPHA was
International Morse Code for, in practical terms, "Who the hell
A chill spiked up Moore's spine. "Lieutenant, we're getting
an ALPHA-ALPHA on the starboard side. We're being
Kayani charged across the pilothouse to the starboard wing,
and Moore hustled up behind him. How many times had they
already been challenged? They were in Pakistan territorial waters;
what were Pakistan's rules of engagement?
A fl are burst overhead, peeling back the night and drawing
deep shadows across the decks of both patrol boats. Moore
looked across the sea and saw it, a thousand meters out, rising
up out of the waves, a nightmare with imposing black sail and
dull black decks fully awash as she breached, her bow pointed
at them. The commander had brought the sub to the surface to
challenge them, then had fi red the fl are to visually confi rm his
Kayani lifted the pair of binoculars dangling around his neck
and zoomed in. "It's the Shushhuk! She's one of ours. She's supposed
to be back at the pier!"
Moore's chest tightened. What the hell was a Pakistan
Navy submarine doing in his rendezvous zone?
He craned his head to the Agray, where he assumed that
by now the Taliban prisoner was on deck. According to the
plan, Adam was wearing a black jumpsuit and turban, and his
wrists were bound. His escorts were supposed to be two heavily
armed MARCOS, or marine commandos, of the Indian
Navy. Moore spun back to face the submarine—
And then, suddenly, he saw it—a line of phosphorescence
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES
bubbling up in the water and streaking past their stern, heading
toward the Agray.
He pointed. "TORPEDO!"
In the next breath, Moore came up behind Kayani, shoved
him over the side, then jumped himself as the torpedo struck
the Agray in a horrifi c explosion whose thundering and fl ashing
was as surreal as it was shockingly close. A blast wave of debris
pinged off the Quwwat's hull and rained down to strike the
water in dozens of splashes.
Moore's eyes widened as the steaming, hissing sea came
up at them, heated now by all the white-hot shards of hull and
deck and torpedo that continued to blast off the Agray. As he
hit the water, narrowly missing a jagged piece of steel, a ball of
fl ames set off the Agray's GRAIL surface-to-air missiles and
both clusters of ASW rockets on her fo'c'sle.
Moore sank below the waves, his shoes colliding with
something below. He swam back to the surface and jerked his
head around, searching for the lieutenant. There he was, just
out of reach.
Suddenly, three of the Agray's ASW rockets blew up into
the Silkworm missile housings aboard the Quwwat. The resulting
detonations boomed so loudly and brightly that Moore refl
exively ducked back under the water for cover. He swam
toward the lieutenant, who was fl oating supine and appeared
only semiconscious, his face bloody from a deep gash along the
left side of his head. He must've struck some debris as he'd
entered the water. Moore surfaced at the man's shoulder. He
splashed salt water onto the gash as Kayani stared vaguely at
him. "Lieutenant! Come on!"
Thirty meters away, the sea surface was afl ame with burning
diesel fuel. The stench left Moore grimacing as for the fi rst
time he felt the deep rumble of nearby diesel engines . . . the
submarine. He had some time. The sub wouldn't approach the
wreckage until the fl ames subsided.
Other men were in the water, barely visible, their shouts
punctuated by more explosions. A strangled cry resounded
nearby. Moore scanned the area for their Taliban prisoner, but
the twin thunderclaps of another detonation sent him back
under the waves. When he came up and turned back, the
Quwwat was already listing badly to port, getting ready to sink.
The Agray's bow was entirely submerged, the fi res and deep
black smoke still raging, ammunition cooking off with sharp
cracks and half-muffl ed booms. The air grew clogged with a
haze that reeked of burning rubber and plastic.
Willing himself into a state of calm as the heat of the
fi res pressed on his face, Moore removed his shoes, tied the
laces together, then draped them around his neck. Three miles
to the beach . . . but right now, this low in the water, he had no
idea where the beach was. With the exception of the fl ames,
everywhere he looked was inky black, and each time he glanced
toward the confl agration, his night vision was ruined.
Flash-fl ash-fl ash. Wait a minute. He remembered. He
started counting . . . one one thousand, two one thousand . . .
at nineteen, he was rewarded with three more quick fl ashes. He
had a lock on the Turshian Mouth lighthouse.
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES
Moore seized Kayani and rolled him around. Still drifting
in and out of consciousness, the lieutenant took one look at
Moore, at the fi res around them, and panicked. He reached out,
seizing Moore by the head. Obviously the man wasn't thinking
straight, and this behavior was not uncommon among accident
victims. But if Moore didn't react, the frantic lieutenant could
easily drown him.
Without pause, Moore placed both hands on the front of
Kayani's hips with the heels of his hands against the man's
body, fi ngers extended, thumbs grasping the lieutenant's sides.
He pushed Kayani back toward the horizontal position, using
this leverage to loosen the man's grip. Moore freed his head and
screamed, "Relax! I got you! Just turn around and breathe."
Moore grabbed him by the back of the collar. "Now fl oat on
With the man in a collar tow, Moore began a modifi ed
combat sidestroke around the burning debris, the pools of burning
diesel beginning to swell toward them, his ears stinging
from the continuous thundering and drone of the spitting and
whipping fl ames.
Kayani settled down until they passed through a half-dozen
bodies, members of his crew, just more fl otsam and jetsam now.
He hollered their names, and Moore kicked harder to get them
away. Nevertheless, the sea became more grisly, an arm here,
a leg there. And then something dark in the water ahead. A
turban fl oating there. The prisoner's turban. Moore paused,
craning his head right and left until he spotted a lifeless form
bobbing on the waves. He swam to it, rolled the body sideways
enough to see the bearded face, the black jumpsuit, the terrible
slash across his neck that had severed his carotid artery. It was
their guy. Moore gritted his teeth and adjusted his grip on Kayani's
collar. Before starting off, he looked in the direction of the
submarine. It was already gone.
During his time as a SEAL, Moore could swim two ocean
miles without fi ns in under seventy minutes. Collar- towing another
man might slow him down, but he refused to let that
challenge crush his spirit.
He focused on the lighthouse, kept breathing and kicking,
his movements smooth and graceful, no wasted energy, every
shift of the arm and fl utter of the feet directing the power where
it needed to go. He would turn his head up, steal a breath, and
continue on, swimming with machinelike precision.
A shout from somewhere behind caused Moore to slow.
He paddled around, squinting toward a small group of men,
ten—fi fteen, perhaps—swimming toward him.
"Just follow me!" he cried. "Follow me."
Now he wasn't just trying to save Kayani; he was providing
the motivation for the rest of the survivors to reach the shore.
These were Navy men, trained to swim and swim hard, but
three miles was an awful long way, more so with injuries. They
needed to keep him in sight.
The lactic acid was building in his arm and his legs, the
burn steady at fi rst, then threatening to grow worse. He slowed,
shook his legs and the one arm he was using, took another breath,
and told himself, I will not quit. Ever.
He would focus on that. He would lead from the front,
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES
drive the rest of these men home—even if it killed him. He
guided them across the rising and falling sea, kick after agonizing
kick, listening to the voices of the past, the voices of instructors
and proctors who'd dedicated their lives to helping
others unleash the warrior's spirit lying deep and dormant in
Nearly ninety minutes later he heard the surf breaking on
the shoreline, and with every rising swell he saw fl ashlights
moving and bobbing all along the beach. Flashlights meant
people. They'd come down to view the fi res and explosions
offshore, and they might even see him. Moore's covert operation
was about to make headlines. He cursed and looked back.
The group of survivors had drifted much farther back, fi fty
meters or more, unable to keep up with Moore's blistering pace.
He could barely see them now.
By the time his bare feet touched the sandy bottom, Moore
was spent, leaving everything he had back in the Arabian Sea.
Kayani was still going in and out as Moore dragged him from
the surf and hauled him onto the beach as fi ve or six villagers
gathered around him. "Call for help!" he shouted.
Out in the distance, the fl ames and fl ashes continued, like
heat lightning that printed the clouds negative, yet the silhouettes
of both ships were now gone, leaving the rest of the fuel
to continue burning off.
Moore wrenched out his cell phone, but it had died. Next
time he planned on being attacked by a submarine, he'd be sure
to pack a waterproof version. He asked one of the villagers, a
college-aged kid with a thin beard, for a phone.
"I saw the ships explode," the kid said breathlessly.
"Me, too," snapped Moore. "Thanks for the phone."
"Give it to me," called Kayani from the beach, his voice
cracking, but he seemed much more lucid now. "My uncle's
a colonel in the Army. He'll get us helicopters here within an
hour. It's the fastest way."
"Take it, then," said Moore. He'd read the maps, knew they
were hours away by car from the nearest hospital. The rendezvous
had intentionally been located opposite a rural, sparsely
Kayani reached his uncle, who in turn promised immediate
relief. A second call to Kayani's commanding offi cer would
summon Coast Guard rescue craft for those still at sea, but the
Pakistan Coast Guard had no air–sea rescue choppers, just
Chinese-built corvettes and patrol boats that wouldn't arrive
until mid-morning. Moore turned his attention back on the
surf, studying every wave, searching for the survivors.
Five minutes. Ten. Nothing. Not a soul. Between the blood
and body parts strewn across the water like some ungodly stew,
it was a safe bet that the sharks had come. And quickly. That,
coupled with the injuries of the other survivors, may have been
too much for them.
It took another half-hour before Moore spotted the fi rst
body rising up on a wave like a piece of driftwood. Many others
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES
More than an hour passed before an Mi-17 appeared in
the northwest sky, its twin turbines roaring, its rotors
whomping and echoing off the hillsides. The chopper had been
specifi cally designed by the Soviets for their war in Afghanistan
and had become symbolic of that confl ict: Goliaths of the sky
slain by slingshots. The Pakistan Army had nearly one hundred
Mi-17s in their inventory, a trivial detail Moore knew because
he'd been a passenger aboard them a few times and had overheard
a pilot griping about how he was stuck fl ying a Russian
pile of junk that broke down every other fl ight and that the Pakistan
Army had almost a hundred fl ying junkyards.
Slightly unnerved, Moore boarded the Mi-17 and was fl own
with Kayani to the Sindh Government Hospital in Liaquatabad
Town, a suburb of Karachi. While en route, the fl ight medics
administered painkillers, and Kayani's wide-eyed grimace
turned to a more peaceful stare. It was sunrise by the time they
Moore stepped out of the hospital's elevator on the second
fl oor and ducked into Kayani's room. They'd been at the
hospital for about an hour now. The lieutenant would have a
nice battle scar to help him get laid. Both men had been severely
dehydrated when they'd come ashore, and an IV drip had
been jabbed in the lieutenant's left arm.
"How are you feeling?"
Kayani reached up and touched the bandage on his head.
"I still have a headache."
"I couldn't have swum back."
Moore nodded. "You got hit hard, and you lost some blood."
"I don't know what to say. Thank you is not enough."
Moore took a long pull on the bottle of water given to him
by one of the nurses. "Hey, forget it." Movement in the doorway
drew Moore's attention. That was Douglas Stone, a colleague
from the Agency, who stroked his mottled gray beard and stared
at Moore above the rim of his glasses. "I have to go," Moore said.
"Mr. Fredrickson, wait."
"Is there a way I can contact you?"
Kayani looked to Stone and pursed his lips.
"Oh, he's okay. A good friend."
The lieutenant hesitated a few seconds more, then said, "I
just want to thank you . . . somehow."
Moore used a tablet and pen on the tray table to scribble
down an e-mail address.
The lieutenant clutched the paper tightly in his palm. "I'll
be in touch."
Moore shrugged. "Okay."
He headed out into the hallway, turned, then marched forcefully
away from Stone, speaking through his teeth. "So, Doug,
tell me—just what the fuck happened?"
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES
"I know, I know." Stone had deployed his usual calming
tone, but Moore would have none of that, not now.
"We assured the Indians that the rendezvous would be clear.
They had to cross into Pakistan territorial waters. They were very
concerned about that."
"We were told the Pakistanis were taking care of everything."
"Who dropped the ball?"
"They're telling us their submarine commander never received
any orders to remain at the pier. Somebody forgot to
issue them. He made his usual patrol and thought he'd sailed
into some kind of engagement. According to him, he sent out
multiple challenges without response."
Moore snickered. "Well, it's not like we were looking for
him—and when we did see him, it was already too late."
"The commander also reported that he saw the Indians
taking prisoners on their deck."
"So he was ready to fi re on his own people, too?"
Moore stopped dead in his tracks, whirled, and gaped at
the man. "The only prisoner they had was our guy."
"Hey, Max, I know where you're coming from."
"Let's go swim three miles. Then you'll know."
Stone removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "Look, it
could be worse. We could be Slater and O'Hara and have to
fi gure how to apologize to the Indians while making sure they
don't nuke Islamabad."
"That'd be nice—because I'm headed there now."