Doug Shepherd rode his long board into shore on the Waikiki Beach, leaped into the surf and trotted across the beach to the surf shop where he worked, Kiki’s Board Dogs. Glancing at his watch, he saw he still had plenty of time before his shift began.
He ran around the back to store his board and dipped under the outdoor shower to sluice off the saltwater. Shepherd was heading for the locker room to change when Billy said, “Shep!”
He turned, brushing a hand through his long blond hair.
Billy jerked a thumb. “Two suits looking for you, man.”
Shep didn’t like that much. Two men in suits showing up on a beach in Hawaii usually wasn’t good news. He scanned his memory, trying to think of any money he owed, laws he might have broken, lawsuits he might have stumbled across or ex-wives he might owe … god knows what? He came up blank.
Shepherd turned to find that he had made an incorrect assumption. The suits weren’t both men. One was a woman. They weren’t lawyers, either. They were government. He knew it as soon as he saw them.
The woman, in a gray suit, said, “Are you Dr. Douglas Shepherd?”
Running a towel over his bare chest, he nodded. “What wants to know?”
The man held out a leather identification folder. “Fred McGovern. D.O.D.”
Shep took the identification, studying it. “DARPA,” he said. He glanced at the woman and held out his hand for her identification. She handed it to him. Also Department of Defense, also the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the out-there-on-the-fringes science part of the Pentagon. Her name was Allison West.
He handed back their IDs. “What can I do for you?”
“Your government needs you.”
“I gave at the office. No thanks.”