that he was never dating another stewardess for as long as he lived.

1844 hours, 19 January

The Warehouse, Bangkok

It was dark outside as Hsiao completed work on the last set of

operational orders. They were committed now, with Sheng li hanging on a

single toss of the dice. Leaning forward at his desk, he used the

intercom to summon Phreng.

“You sent for me, General?”

“Yes. Get the prisoners.”

“Yes, sir.” Phreng hesitated, then grinned. “Are we going to start

working on them again?”

Hsiao heard the man’s not very subtle emphasis on the plural “them.” He

knew Phreng had been looking forward to working on the girl, and the

thought angered him. For Hsiao, torture was a tool, not a means for the

gratification of twisted personalities.

He was not going to let Phreng enjoy that pleasure … not yet, at any

rate. The Americans might yet have some value as hostages, and he

didn’t want them permanently damaged.

There was no need. Bayerly had given him all the information he needed.

“They are not to be hurt. Either of them.”

Phreng’s expression fell. “Yes, sir.”

“Make arrangements for a truck … an army truck with a canvas top. We

will take them out tonight.”

“Yes, sir. Where are we taking them?”

“To U Feng.” Hsiao tapped the end of his pen against the maps spread

out on the table before him. “We will want to be clear of the city

before the festivities begin.”

“Festivities, sir?”

Hsiao allowed himself a shallow smile. “Tonight we begin the final

phase of Sheng li.”


“Yes. Now … have my driver bring the car around.”

“Yes, sir. And your destination?”

“Lumpini,” he said, reaching for the telephone on his desk. That was

the name of a large park on Rama Four Road, less than two miles from

Klong Toey.

He’d used it for meetings with fellow conspirators before. “I have some

final arrangements to make.”

Phreng made a wai and backed out of the office. Minutes later, Hsiao

was speaking the innocuous code phrases which would inform Colonel

Kriangsak where and when his master would speak with him.

The attack on the Jefferson had to be carried off swiftly, before the

Americans were aware of their danger. It would not take long for the

helicopters, already prepared for their mission, to reach the carrier

from the air base at Sattahip.


1910 hours, 19 January

The Warehouse, Bangkok

Tombstone and Pamela had been returned to the room where he had been

held earlier. Mercifully, the bodies of the three seamen were gone,

though the coppery stink of fresh blood lingered. Traces of red gore

still streaked the concrete floor and pooled about the rusty drain in

the center of the room.

Their clothes had been returned to them, though wallets, watches, money,

and IDs were missing. Their captors had collected everything they could

find back in the hotel room, searching for useful information. That he

and Pamela were being allowed to dress was in itself encouraging.

Possibly the worst of the ordeal was over.

They were going to be moved, Tombstone guessed. He didn’t think Hsiao

was going to dispose of his captives, not yet at least. Their Chinese

interrogator was planning … something, something very big. He and

Pamela would have hostage value for negotiations if nothing else, and

Hsiao did not seem to Tombstone to be the sort of man who would throw

away any advantage, however small.

His mind turned to Bayerly. An initial surge of anger died before it

more than ruffled his thoughts. It was hard to blame Made It for

breaking the way he had; Tombstone himself didn’t know if he could have

sat there and done nothing while they tortured Pamela. The question for

the moment was not Bayerly’s cracking, but what could be done about the

situation now.

As he sat down on the edge of the cot next to Pamela, she reached over

and took his arm. He was surprised by the strength of her grasp as she

leaned close and echoed his own thoughts. “Matt? What are we going to


He glanced around the room without answering, looking at the walls. They

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Categories: Keith Douglass