like a dive locker, with masks and fins and wetsuits hanging from a taut line. A third room functioned as a communications hub, with blinking machinery and streams of wire that converged on a small wooden desk, where a young man fiddled with the knobs of a yellow plastic box. The air all around was dank and heavy with morning rain and the sky was a gray camouflage of clouds and the tips of small islands peeked through a swarthy mist on the horizon, but standing at the edge of the barge Emery seemed oblivious to it all— the mist, the noise, the men, the islands— glaring down into the water as if daring it to a duel.Even at a glance, it was obvious that Emery was unlike the other men on board. They were young and fit and clean- shaven, with tattoos of mer-maids and dragons that snaked across long sinews of muscle. Emery was a dozen years older, stocky and grizzled, with deep lines etched around his eyes, his beard at least a week grown in, his hair an unruly explosion of wire, and his faded khaki T-shirt matted to his chest by a combination of rain and sweat. He smiled little and spoke less. From time to time, one of the other men would pause for a moment to study him, as if noticing their leader for the first time. Later, when they thought back on Emery, they would marvel at how little they knew him, how little he said or gave away, even at the end.Most of the men also knew little about one another. Many had never met before and would never meet again. They had been pulled together from all four corners of the fighting forces— soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines— with each man chosen for his individual talent. There were deep-sea divers trained by the Navy’s experimental school in Florida to endure underwater pressure so extreme that the depths were considered secret. There were bomb defusers just back from Iraq with tired eyes and easy smiles and the latest operational intelligence on IED design. There were Air Force historians trained to identify, from the smallest fragment of metal or plastic, the make and model of any US aircraft built since 1941.
There were forensic scientists who could do the same with bones,
9781594487279_Vanished_TX_p1-274.indd 208/08/13 7:18 PM