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Chapter 1



I was surf fishing off the rocks at Port Canaveral when they arrived. You are not allowed to fish off the rocks, so I was gambling I could bring something in before the beach patrol showed up and brought me in.

It was the perfect time of day. The morning’s peak tide was just beginning to ease out, encouraging the pompano to gather beyond the breakers where they waited to collect sand fleas before the beach line became too shallow.

They don’t like you out on the rocks because it’s easy to fall and if you do you will almost certainly be seriously hurt. Then the paramedics must do their least favorite imitation of Laurel and Hardy trying to maneuver a body board out onto the jagged breakwater to bring you in. My six-foot-two frame would be an added disappointment to them if such an incident did occur, and I already have enough scars here and there to commemorate the philosophy of not obeying rules. But, there it is.

So, struggling to balance myself and at the same time set a frozen shrimp on my hook, I was trying to keep an eye out for the shore patrol’s ATV when the shuttle suddenly came streaking in above the trees. It was a gaudy entrance, really. They hovered over the parking lot for longer than needed, then settled into the RV parking area having caused everyone on the beach and in the picnic area to stop what they were doing and gawk. There were fifty or sixty others enjoying the ocean so I figured there was a good chance this wasn’t about me. Still, the eagle and olive branch seals on the shuttle’s polished blue and white surface gave me pause to worry since I recently had more attention from government agencies than any mortal man should have to bear.

It was too good a day to waste. I cast out, teetered a bit, then slowly brought in the slack until I could feel the pyramid sinker. Waiting to feel the quick hard taps on the end of the line, I watched in the direction of the shuttle, hoping its occupants had other business.

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