The old ocean liner had been bound for the breaker’s yard when the tow line had parted in a gale, casting it adrift in international waters. Fearing for their ship, the tug crew abandoned their work–an action that would have gotten them hauled up before a maritime board if they hadn’t been registered with a fly-by-night, see-no-evil outfit in Liberia.

It was a heavy, nasty old thing, that ship. Started life on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain before being halfheartedly Westernized. The country that built it didn’t exist anymore, the breakers would barely make back their investment in scrapping it, and the return on a Lloyd’s Open Form would be so low that no commercial tug was interested in a tow.

But there was still money to be had. A savvy crew, hired on the cheap, could strip the floating hulk of copper wire, easily removable bits of steel and iron, and anything else not required to keep the ship afloat. That was our plan, at least. Little risk, substantial reward.

A pity it didn’t work out that way.

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