Richard Veale and Michael Conner flew from London to Athens a few days before their meeting with X-Ray. The two private investigators needed time to assess what they were walking into. X-Ray had come forward a few months earlier, in the spring of 2016, claiming to have critical information about the Brillante Virtuoso case, one of the strangest episodes of high-seas piracy that anyone in the shipping industry could remember.
Veale and Conner were instantly suspicious. The man had been reluctant to identify himself, and they’d decided to refer to him only by a code name. And he’d made it clear he was prepared to talk not because he wanted to help them find the truth, but because he thought there would be money in it—“millions,” as an adviser working with him put it. The only way to determine if the guy was for real, Veale and Conner reasoned, was to sound him out in person. So now, in September, they were in Athens, with a long list of questions for X-Ray.