Home > SEAL Next Door (SEALs of Coronado #9)(9)

SEAL Next Door (SEALs of Coronado #9)(9)
Author: Paige Tyler

Lucero picked up a remote and flipped through the slides until he reached a photo of two men. Both dark haired with beards to match, they were standing on a crowded city street talking to each other. Even though they weren’t dressed in military garb, Sam recognized them as the men they’d seen on the island who were in charge of the group they’d pegged as terrorists.

“Meet Abyasa Alatas and his brother, Adika,” Lucero said, motioning to each of the men as he said the names—not that Sam was likely to remember which was which because they looked too damn much alike. “They got their start as terrorists kidnapping tourists to fund various bombing attacks throughout the Indonesian Islands. But over time, they’ve become less focused on the typical terrorist goals and more interested in simply making money. Still, this most recent meeting changes everything.”

The image on the monitor changed to a man in his late-forties or early-fifties with sharp features, a fierce gaze, and dark hair starting to show touches of gray here and there. He was wearing a military uniform, and Sam knew without a doubt that he was the guy who’d led the more organized group on the island that night.

“This is Colonel Chung-Hee Kam of the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force,” Lucero said. “For the past fifteen years, he’s been a major figure in the North Korean long-range missile program, including the development of their nuclear capabilities.”

Sam got a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach. He prayed he was wrong, but with Chasen and their other two Teammates abruptly added to the mission, he couldn’t help but think that this was heading in a bad direction.

“And this,” Lucero continued, pulling up a picture of a younger man that Sam recognized as the bigger guy who’d stood behind Kam the entire time, silent and looking menacing, “is Kam’s right-hand man, Major Kang-Dae Tae. He’s been in charge of security at several nuclear weapon storage sites, including Yongdoktong, located near Kusong. He’s also known as the person who makes problems disappear for his boss and he’s extremely good at his job. Most of the intelligence agencies in the world have attempted to slip into Yongdoktong at one time or another over the years, interested in getting a look at the status of their weapon technology, but no one—not even the CIA, I’m sorry to say—has come close thanks to Major Tae and his security forces. It’s not an exaggeration to say the man is responsible for the death of at least twenty covert agents over the past decade or so.”

“What the hell are two men like that doing on an Indonesian island in the middle of the night with people like the Alatas brothers?” Sam asked, not sure if he wanted to know the answer. “They’re high-vis officers in one of the most influential and powerful parts of the North Korean military, which means they live with advantages and benefits that most people in the country could never dream of seeing. Why would they bother going so far to meet a bunch of terrorists?”

Lucero pinned him with a look. “Because Colonel Kam has become a victim of his own success. His accomplishments and leadership skills have earned him the loyalty and admiration of a large segment of the military and its supporting industrial and scientific communities. Unfortunately for him, being that respected in North Korea tends to get you the wrong kind of attention from the powers that be in the Workers’ Party. They’ve already started to view him as a threat, and it’s widely believed that it’s only a matter of time until someone comes up with a reason to drag him in front of a firing squad for crimes against the regime. Shortly after that, Major Tae and the totality of Kam’s inner circle of soldiers and scientists will simply disappear.”

“Crap,” Lane breathed. “He’s looking at an execution because he’s good at his job? That sucks.”

Lucero nodded. “It appears that Colonel Kam would agree with you. That’s why he was on that island in the middle of nowhere meeting with terrorists.”

“Meaning?” prompted Holden as Lucero paused to flip through more slides.

Lucero stopped on a blurry image filled with fine black lines and strange looking symbols before looking at them. “Meaning that the Colonel has a retirement plan for himself and his men. And the Alatas brothers are going to be funding that plan.”

Dalton and Chasen both got up and moved closer to the monitor, leaning forward like they thought that would help them identify the image on the screen. Sam could have told them it wouldn’t.

“What are we looking at?” Dalton asked.

“According to our subject matter experts, you’re looking at a neutron generator,” Lucero said. “It’s a linear particle accelerator used to help start a nuclear fusion reaction. I understand it has multiple industrial applications, but in this case, it’s used to trigger the reaction in a nuclear bomb.”

“Shit,” Sam muttered. “Kam and his soldiers were on that island to negotiate the price for a nuclear bomb? He’s selling the Alatas brothers a North Korean nuclear weapon?”

Lucero nodded, a grim look on his face. “Unfortunately, yes. And it’s our job to stop it from happening.”

* * * * *


“Holden told me that you’ve started seeing someone,” Chasen remarked as he fell into step beside Sam outside the conference room.

After Lucero had dropped the figurative bomb on them, they’d spent another hour going over details on Colonel Kam and the Alatas brothers trying to find something that might help them figure out what the bad guys’ next move might be, but it had largely been a waste of time. They simply didn’t have enough intel to build a reasonable plan. And they wouldn’t, not until someone came up with info on where and when this nuclear weapon buy was going down.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “I only met her few days ago, but we’ve really hit it off. I’m seeing her again tonight actually.”

“She sounds great,” Chasen said with a smile, and for some reason, Sam appreciated that acknowledgment. “You bringing her to the cookout at your parents’ place next Saturday? That way, we can all meet her.”

Sam grimaced. His dad had been part of SEAL Team 5 for a long time and had only recently retired, but he was still involved with the team as a support contractor and instructor. Sam’s parents still held regular cookouts every month like he did when his father was active duty.

“I’m not sure,” Sam admitted. “She has no idea I’m a SEAL and I’m not sure I’m ready to throw her in the deep end of the pool before I know what we could have together.”

Chasen was silent for a moment, like he was considering that. “I get it. But your Team is part of who you are. If you want her to be in your life, she needs to be aware of that side of things. Besides, your mom will make sure that everyone behaves and treats your girlfriend right.”

Sam had no doubt about that. “I’ll think about it.”

As they left the secured part of the building, Sam stopped by the storage locker to pick up his phone—cells weren’t allowed in the classified area. He pulled up Google to look for a cool place to take Poppy out to dinner when his phone dinged with a text notification.

It was Poppy.

Want to come over to my apartment for dinner tonight? I’m make something simple and we can just relax and hang out here.

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