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Chapter 17

Maria Latvin opened the door and knew the dreaded visit had come at last. The two men wore conservative western business suits, but she recognized the type and, despite herself, felt as if she had been suddenly yanked eight thousand miles back to the home she had fought so hard to leave.

The taller man stepped forward and reached into his inner jacket pocket for a small leather identification folder. He flipped it open and Maria stared at it. Not his papers, but photographs. Her mother and younger brother still Mapped in Lithuania. Fighting the growing feeling of numbness, she stepped back and held the door open for them.

The tall man spoke quietly in Russian.

'We must see Paul Krone.'

'He's not well,' Latvin replied, slipping into the same language.

'We know that. We must see him anyway and judge his condition for ourselves.'

'You know who I am. Why are you interested in Paul?'

'This is not necessary for you to know. You will take us to him.'

The woman led the two Russians into the study.

'There, you see,' she pointed to a figure seated before the fireplace, 'he is very ill and cannot talk to you.'

The two men approached the figure in the chair slowly. They crouched next to the chair, then began to whisper animatedly to one another.

Finally the taller one stood and walked back across the room to where Maria Latvin stood. 'You take care of him?'

'He responds to me a little. Enough for me to feed and wash him, to see to his basic functions.' 'His research?'

The woman merely raised an eyebrow in a deeply sceptical look.

'What do you know of his work?' the man demanded.

'Nothing. I am no scientist. I know nothing.'

'Notes. Does he keep notes of his work?'

'If he does, they are at the lab. He never worked here.'

A faint crinkling cracked the frost around the man's eyes.

'I must report for instructions. He will stay with you,' he said, gesturing to his companion.

The woman's face betrayed no expression. The man shot a glance at his companion, a silent order, and left the room rapidly.

He had been gone five minutes when they heard a car coming up the drive. Maria Latvin looked questioningly at the remaining Russian. He shook his head and slid a hand towards the bulge under his jacket.

'Quickly,' she said, 'you can hide in a rear bedroom. I'll see who it is.'

'Get rid of them. Immediately!' he demanded, as she hustled him down the hallway.

Isaacs scanned the house as they approached. It was a large, multi-level adobe structure, graceful despite the characteristic thick walls and solid projecting beams. It faced the southwest with a glorious view of the plains and the oncoming sunset. Isaacs spoke to the agents and the pilot who had driven them up to the house.

'This is a private home, and we don't want to come on like an invasion force. We're just going to try to speak with the man who runs the complex up the road. I'd like you to sit tight here.'

The agents nodded.

Isaacs, Danielson, and Runyan walked up the flagstone walk to the massive carved front door. Not seeing a doorbell, Isaacs used his knuckles.

After a moment the door swung open. Runyan was not sure what he expected, but it was certainly not what he saw in his view over Isaacs's shoulder. A lovely young woman stood there, one hand on the knob of the door. She was of medium height, dressed in a dark hostess gown. She had a smooth brown complexion, thick black hair in a longish page-boy cut, and high cheekbones. Her black eyes sparkled behind gold-rimmed eyeglasses, but registered no surprise at the three strangers in the doorway of her redoubt. Runyan saw her take in Isaacs and then swing her gaze to him. After a moment she looked past him to Danielson and raised one eyebrow in a slight quizzical gesture.

Isaacs displayed his badge and said, 'We are here by authority of the President of the United States. May we come in?'

The woman seemed to instantly understand and accept the situation. She stepped aside and said, 'Come in,' in a lilting slightly accented voice.

Inside the door was a foyer, high ceilinged and about eight feet across. There was a closet door on the left. On the right was a small stand holding a lamp and fronting a mirror which ran nearly to the ceiling and added even more width to the area.

The woman led them from the foyer to a large living room. The room was decorated in Spanish style. A massive fireplace dominated the wall directly across from where they entered. A thick Navaho rug lay on the dark tile floor in front of the fireplace. Bordering the rug were two heavy feather sofas at right angles with a high-backed overstuffed leather chair filling the gap on the right side of the fireplace. On the wall on either side of the door through which they had entered were floor to ceiling shelves of dark mahogany which contrasted with the whitewashed walls. The shelves were filled with books and excellent specimens of Mayan and Incan relics. To their left a large archway led to a dining room dominated by a great mahogany table, surrounded by twelve ornate chairs, but set, Isaacs noted, with only two places — the right end and the position to the immediate left of that, such that the diner would face away from the living room. To the right of the fireplace a hallway disappeared from view.

The woman stepped around the sofa which faced the fireplace and sat back in the chair, fucking her legs beneath her. Without taking his eyes off her, Runyan followed her and perched unbidden on the corner of the sofa nearest her chair. Danielson watched him with the closest scrutiny, but remained standing behind the central sofa with Isaacs. Isaacs asked the key question.

'Is Paul Krone here?' The woman looked back at Runyan and then at Isaacs.

'Yes,' she replied simply.

'May I ask who you are?'

'I am Maria Latvin, his companion.'

'I would like to speak with Dr Krone.'

'Certainly.' She arose without further comment and proceeded down the hallway to the right of the fireplace.

Runyan rose with the woman as she led the three of them down the corridor. They passed a closed door on the right, but she paused before a door somewhat beyond that to the left. Opening that door, she stood aside and gestured for them to enter.

The room was a study, extending down to the left and ending in another large fireplace which backed up to the one in the living room.

The other three walls were lined with shelves completely filled with books. A large desk dominated the middle of the room. Its surface looked well used, but was currently empty save for a pencil holder and a couple of mementos. Two high-backed large chairs, mates of the one in the other room, flanked the fireplace. Unlike the other fireplace this one had a small flame flickering in the grate. A figure was seated in the chair to the right of the hearth. From their vantage point just inside the door at the far end of the room, they could only see extended legs, and the left arm draped on the armrest.


Runyan jumped slightly and turned at the sound of the voice behind him. Her tone had been gentle, but family condescending, as one might address a child. The figure gathered itself slowly and rose from the chair.

Isaacs had never met Krone personally, but he recognized him immediately from photographs. He also saw more. Krone was in slippers and a dressing gown, incongruous attire for a physicist, but it was his face which arrested Isaacs's attention. The jaw was slack, the eyes glazed and unfocused, his whole visage one of lifelessness. Isaacs stepped forward.

'Krone? Paul Krone?'

The eyes shifted slowly to the speaker, but there was no sign that the words registered.

Isaacs stepped up to Krone and lightly grasped his arm above the elbow. The eyes maintained their original focus. Isaacs waved his other hand in front of Krone's face. The eyes blinked about three seconds later with no apparent regard to cause and effect.

Isaacs released Krone and spun around to face the dark figure in the doorway. 'He's virtually catatonic! How long has he been like this?'

Her face was nearly as expressionless as Krone's except for her eyes which, by contrast, still sparkled with life. 'Since last April,' she replied succinctly.

'Has he been treated?' Isaacs' voice betrayed more strain than he intended.

'Three experts have been called in. They have been of no use.'

'Do you know what happened to him?'

She unwound slightly, moving around Runyan and Danielson to the desk and extending the fingers of her left hand until they rested lightly on the surface. She turned her face to speak directly to Isaacs. Her voice dropped in pitch.

'He was doing experiments in his laboratories. He was very excited, totally engrossed. Then the excitement left. He became withdrawn, more and more. Very late one night he tried to commit suicide. I called the doctor at the laboratory. He was in the hospital for a month. They saved his life, but since then he has been like this.'

She moved to the motionless figure beside Isaacs and took his arm in much the same manner that Isaacs had.

'Come, Paul,' she spoke gently and led him to the chair where he sat as if by instinctual response. She saw that he was arranged comfortably and then turned and proceeded directly from the room without a glance at her visitors.

During this interchange, Danielson's eyes had been scanning the bookshelves. When Maria Latvin departed, she moved over and touched Isaacs's sleeve. He followed her pointing finger to a shelf behind the desk. There was an array of lab books identical to the one they had found at the complex. Isaacs and Danielson stepped around the desk and began to examine them. They took turns lifting down a volume, checking its contents briefly and adding it to a growing pile on the desk. All the books seemed to be related to the experiment which led to the creation of the black hole. Although it became clear they were in chronological order, they continued to spot-check to make sure that all dealt with the same subject.

Maria Latvin hurried along the corridor to the room where she had left the Russian agent.

'They are from the Central Intelligence Agency,' she whispered. 'They also came to see Paul. I could not make them leave. You must warn the other. He must not come in.'

'What are they doing?'

'I left them in the study.'

'They cannot talk to him. Perhaps they will leave.'

'I do not think so.' She had lied to the Russians. She knew the lab books were on the shelf, but resolved to tell them as little as possible unless forced. She had seen that Danielson carried one of the books and knew they would spot the others. 'I think that they will want to take Paul away.' That was a stall, but also the probable truth.

'Show me a back way out,' the man demanded. 'I will head my compatriot off, and find out our orders. You must learn the intentions of the American agents. Keep them in the front of the house, and meet us back in this room in ten minutes. If you are not here -'

He reached under his jacket again, his meaning crystal clear.

Isaacs was rapidly evaluating the situation. Krone was useless for their immediate needs. The machine itself would speak to experts, but not to them. The lab books were a treasure, but was there something else they should know about? They could grab the books and head home, but if they quickly perused them they might find other valuable clues as to what had gone on in this remote place. He grabbed several books at random.

'Let's spend a little time looking through these,' he said.

'See if there is any hint that we should try to dig up something other than these books themselves.'

He went over to the second high-backed chair and swivelled it to face the room. He kept one book to read and put the others on the floor. Danielson sat at the desk and began to look at another, the last she had taken down from the shelf. Runyan rummaged through the stack to find some of the earliest tomes. He looked around, realized all the chairs were taken, and moved to the wall near the door where he plopped himself on the carpet and leaned back against the bookshelf.

Some time passed in a silence broken only by the crackling of the fire and an occasional rustle of a turned page. Danielson suddenly became aware of a small motion in the doorway. The woman, Maria Latvin, stood there looking at the chair in which Krone sat. Her hands were clasped softly in front of her: perhaps that was the motion that had caught Danielson's attention. Danielson was sure the woman had been there for some time, quietly watching.

The same motion must have caught Runyan's attention, too. Danielson watched him as he sat a little more than an arm's length from the doorway.

Danielson could see his eyes as he scanned the lovely, composed face, down the curves of her body to her feet in open, tastefully designed sandals. She turned to go and Runyan bent over and craned his neck to follow with unabashed interest her passage down the hallway. When he could see her no longer, he straightened up and looked over to catch Danielson's eyes upon him. Danielson looked quickly down at the book before her with blurred eyes. She felt ice in her stomach and warm fire on her face.

Maria Latvin opened the door to the bedroom. At first she thought only one was there, but then the tall one stepped out from behind the door.

'What do they do now?'

'They look at books in the study and talk among themselves.' A mix of truth and half-truth.

'We are taking Krone. And you. To care for him.'

God! To go back. She felt the wave of despair again.

'And what of them?' She gestured towards the front of the house.

'If you cooperate, they need come to no harm. Where is Krone now?'

'He is still in the study. With them.'

'You must bring him here. We will escape out the back to our car which is hidden down the road.'

'And if they resist?'

'You must find a way. If they discover our presence here they will die.'

'If we get away, they, and soon many others, will follow,' the woman argued.

The tall man thought for a long moment.

'You must make it look as if it is your idea. If they look only for a woman on the run, our job will be easier.'

Now Maria Latvin thought deeply. She could go to the agents in the study and reveal the Russians, but at the risk of death or worse for her mother and brother. She could make off with Paul herself and to hell with them all, but the Russians, at least, would exact the same penalty. She wanted no harm to come to those in the other room, least of all Paul. She dreaded the idea of going back, but she would be with Paul, and surely the Americans would do everything to have him released. Staying close to him was her best chance of survival.

She needed some way to distract them. She thought of the lab books. Paul had been working with them when he had drifted from her. The Americans were keenly interested in them. She supposed the Russians would be too, if they only knew how near they were. She hated them!

She spoke to the tall one.

'I will get him out in the car. You can wait to see us leave. We have a hunting lodge higher in the mountains, I'll draw you a map. I will head in the opposite direction and then double back on another road. We can switch to your car there.'

'I don't like it,' said the other man. 'We shouldn't let her or Krone out of our sight.'

The tall man turned to speak to him, keeping his eyes locked on Maria Latvin.

'I don't think there will be any problem.' He smiled an unpleasant smile and patted the leather folder in his breast pocket.

Isaacs closed another book and checked his watch. He had found no reference to other useful material beyond an occasional technical journal. The lab books seemed selfcontained. There was no reason to delay further.

'It's time to get back to the base and radio a report,' he said. 'How are you doing?' he inquired of his companions.

'This is amazing stuff!' Runyan replied enthusiastically.

'The man is really incredible. He has developed a whole series of innovative techniques to accomplish things I would have said were impossible. Apparently, he deliberately set out to make a black hole. He wanted to use it as an energy source, utilize the power emitted as material is swallowed. Vast power from anything, dirt, water, air. He started by investigating how great a density he could create in the lab. Just a question of pure basic science with no practical application in mind. Then he got the idea of creating a black hole. He imploded pellets of iron with his standard beam techniques — iron so that there would be no nuclear reactions. The problem is that it requires vast energies to overcome the internal pressure of the compressed matter. Krone seems to have developed a way to neutralize the electrical charges in the pellet and the beam which compresses it. That reduced the pressure and allows much higher densities. I haven't got to anything about black holes yet, but if I'm any judge his studies will advance our knowledge of the behaviour of nuclear matter by a decade.'

'Could be,' replied Isaacs. 'I was just looking here somewhere in the middle of the story,' he checked a date, 'about a year and a half ago. Apparently, he has had some success at reaching high densities, but trouble maintaining them. He's describing here the development of a magnetic confinement configuration which can support the compressed pellet while he continues to focus the intense neutron beams on it. The discussion is highly technical. I'm barely getting the gist of it.'

Isaacs paused to rub his eyes.

'The real question is whether we are going to learn anything from these that will tell us how to undo the damage. Are you getting any sense of that?'

'He's done the impossible and recorded it in meticulous detail,' Runyan replied. 'Only time will tell, but I can't believe there won't be some new knowledge, some hints. I know this, as long as the original knowledge is locked up there,' he glanced at Krone's still figure, 'these books are invaluable.'

Danielson had not seemed to pay any attention to this interchange. She had swivelled her chair away from the desk and was staring at the fire.

'Pat?' inquired Isaacs.

She turned to look at him with a vacant smile. 'I was thinking about Shelley.'

'The poet, Percy Bysshe?'

'No, his wife, Mary Wollstonecraft.'

'Oh, right, Frankenstein. Well, our scientist has created a monster all right.'

'Four of them.'

'What's that?'

She pointed at the book she had abandoned on the desk.

'He thinks he made four of them. At first the suspension system was ineffective. He cites evidence that he managed to start three seeds, but then they disappeared from the system. There was no sign that they had evaporated, no unexplained release of energy. He suspects they fell into the earth, but are too small to detect. By the fourth time, he made significant improvements to the magnetic suspension and managed to force-feed and grow the one we know about. Eventually, the suspension failed again. This time he detected it seismically and knew for sure what was happening.'

'My god!' gasped Runyan from his seat by the door.

'Didn't he know what he was doing? Why didn't he stop after the first disaster?'

She looked at him Godly.

'The journals are pretty clinical so his state of mind is only implicit, but I get the feeling that he was totally caught up in the scientific and engineering questions and driven by a powerful megalomania. Apparently, he was so consumed by his quest that he didn't question the failures in that way, just what had become of them. When the fourth got away from him, he finally thought seriously about the implications of what he had done — and it destroyed him.' She waved a hand towards the quiet figure in the chair by the fireplace.

'But if he's right about the other three,' said Runyan, 'then even if we find some solution to the big one we're still in danger from the others. Drag on them is going to act more quickly to cause them to settle into the earth where they're unreachable. They may take a much longer time to grow to a dangerous size, but it's still just a matter of time.'

He exchanged a long glance with Isaacs. Isaacs broke it off, gathered up the books he had been reading and stood.

'Well, let's see if we can get these books to someone who will understand them better than we do.'

Danielson stood up from the desk, and Runyan gathered his long legs under him and shoved himself to his feet.

Maria Latvin appeared in the doorway. She gave Runyan a cool look and then addressed herself to Isaacs.

'I must put Paul down for his rest. Then I would like to talk to you, if I may. Would you please wait in the living room?'

'Certainly,' replied Isaacs. 'We have a couple of issues to discuss with you as well.'

They filed out of the room and down the hall as the woman bent to help Krone from the chair.

Isaacs deposited the books he had been holding on the table in the foyer. He walked over next to Runyan who had settled in the chair next to the fireplace. Danielson examined the artefacts on the shelves.

'What next?' Runyan inquired.

'We'll explain to her that we need the books and that we'll have to send someone for Krone. Something tells me she's not going to take that news too well.'

Runyan's face clouded over. 'I don't believe I fathom that lady. Surely she realizes that we represent some threat to upset her isolated but rather posh applecart here, yet she doesn't seem at all perturbed.'

'I'm not sure of her role, either,' Isaacs answered. 'She does seem to be devoted to Krone. If he returned the consideration, he may have set her up for life, regardless of what happens.'

Runyan smiled an impish grin. 'Or maybe Krone's not as incapacitated as he seems. That's one good-looking woman there.'

'Oh, for heaven's sake!' Danielson turned, exasperated.

'You can see what shape that man is in. Can you imagine what an effort it must be to care for him? All by herself?'

Runyan leaned towards Isaacs and said in a stage whisper, 'Touchy feminist.'

'Mr Isaacs,' Danielson's voice was cold with fury. 'I don't believe you need me here anymore. I'll wait in the car.' She paused to pick up the lab books Runyan had left in the foyer and then swept out the front door.

Runyan gave a half shrug as Isaacs fixed him with a stony stare.

'That was completely unnecessary, Alex. I don't know what you've done to upset her, but I want a lid on it.' 'Hey, it was a little joke.'

'There's more to it than that. Something's going on between you.'

'Well, to hell with you,' Runyan scowled. 'My personal life is none of your business.'

'It is if it keeps one of my people from performing at top efficiency, or distracts us at all from what we're doing here.'

'Horse shit,' seethed Runyan. 'Don't tell me I'm not on top of what's going on.' He stood up and looked down at the slightly shorter man. 'You wouldn't even be here if it weren't for me.'

'I know what you've contributed, and I'd like to keep you on the team, but if you get in my way, you're out!'

The two men glared at one another, then Runyan broke off and looked at the carpet, scuffing his toe, then finally back at Isaacs.

'Look,' he said, 'this thing is too big for us to lose sight of it fighting over some girl.'

'Girl! She's a damn fine worker. Let me remind you neither of us would be here if it weren't for her early work.'

'She's a bright lady, I know that. She's also attractive, in case you hadn't noticed. We got a little friendly out there in Arizona. Didn't mean anything.'

'I think it did to her.'

They were silent a moment. Then Isaacs spoke.

'We've got to get a move on here. The woman's had plenty of time to put Krone to bed or whatever she was going to do. See if you can find her. I'll get the two men in the car to start carrying out the books.'

Runyan headed down the hallway. He heard a noise, turned into the study, and was rooted with shock. A huge fire roared in the fireplace. In disbelief, he watched Maria Latvin pick up an object, squirt it with charcoal lighter, and toss it into the fireplace where it ignited with a FOOMPF! and added to the blaze. He looked more carefully and realized that the grate was filled with burning books. The lab books!

'What the hell are you doing?' he shouted, rushing towards her.

The woman swivelled quickly, the fingers of her right hand deftly sweeping up a bone-handled knife as she turned. I wish no one hurt, she thought, but I'm too close to let this one stand in my way. I must get to Paul!

She faced Runyan in a half-crouch, the position they had learned when planning the escape. She felt the rush of irony that she should use this skill to fight her way back in. She spread her feet wide, wielding the weapon in the classic offensive position, point out, not down from her fist like a dagger. Runyan registered her savage, determined look and the wicked tip of the blade. He tried to brake, off balance.

The knife whipped in a deadly arc towards his face. He jerked his head back and threw up his arms for protection, stumbling backwards. He felt his jaw go numb as the blade went by and then a deep agony flashed through his right forearm. He crashed onto the floor. The woman's knife hand had completed its vicious cycle, instantly ready to strike again. Runyan's fall on his back, legs sprawled, had taken him just out of reach. He saw her look at his exposed crotch and draw back the knife. Panic seized him. He shuttled backward, crab-like, then flipped onto all fours. He screamed as his right arm gave way, and he fell on his face. He crawled awkwardly with one arm, flailing, splashing blood, then finally got his feet under him and lurched out the door and down the hallway.

Isaacs was on the front step when he heard Runyan shout. He raced into the living room just as Runyan, frightened and bloody, ran from the hall.

'Burning the lab books!' Runyan shouted hoarsely, as he collapsed onto Isaacs who lowered him to the floor. The two CIA agents pounded into the room. Danielson and the pilot followed them, breathing hard, eyes wide.

'The woman! Get her!' Isaacs directed the agents. 'And watch out — she's got some kind of weapon. Pat, see to him, will you?' he said standing, pointing to Runyan's sprawled form. 'You!' he said, fingering the pilot, 'come with me.'

He raced down the hallway. At the end of it, the two agents were putting their shoulders to a locked door. Dimly, Isaacs heard the roaring start of a high performance engine.

'A car!' he shouted. 'Out the front way. See if you can stop her! If she's got Krone with her, for god's sake don't do anything to harm him.'

Isaacs turned into the study as the agents ran back down the hallway past him. He fought down a sense of dismay at the sight of the hearth full of burning books, then grabbed the fireplace tongs and began to frantically pull them from the grate. The pilot backed into the room watching the two CIA field men disappear into the living room. Then he turned and stopped transfixed, watching as Isaacs threw book after burning book about the room.

'Get your jacket off!' Isaacs shouted over his shoulder. 'Smother those!'

The carpet was starting to smoulder in a dozen places. The young pilot stripped off his jacket and began to extinguish the flames, covering the books with his jacket, kicking them away from areas of smoking carpet.

Isaacs pulled the last book from the grate, a half— consumed block of char. He removed his jacket and methodically worked on the flames nearest him. After a frenetic minute, the last of the flames died. Isaacs, breathing in huge gulps of air, smiled gratefully at the young 'man. His proud grey-blue jacket was a scorched tatter. He was covered with soot and his hands were red with angry welts. Isaacs felt his own hands begin to puff and sting with burns he had ignored.

'Sorry about your hands, and clothes.'

The young man shrugged.

'Would you make sure these are all out?' Isaacs asked him. 'I'll check the others.'

Isaacs left the soldier gently kicking the books into the hallway, checking for those still smouldering.

Pat Danielson had run over to Alex Runyan and then stopped, weak-kneed. He lay on his back, staring pale faced at the ceiling. His shirt was slashed just below his right elbow and a dark stain spread into the cloth, but it was his neck that held her attention. His beard below the chin line dripped red blood. She paid no attention to the two CIA agents who tore through the room and out the front door. My god, she thought, dropping to her knees, his throat's been slashed!

Runyan rolled his eyes to her and smiled weakly. 'I'll never look at another woman again.'

Danielson forced herself to look at his neck. With relief, she realized the wound was just along the jaw bone. It was deep, with pink bone showing, but not life threatening.

'She — she nearly cut your throat.'

'I certainly got the impression that was her goal,' Runyan croaked.

'Let me look for something to stop the bleeding', Danielson said. She ran through the dining room into the kitchen. She slammed through the cabinets until she found a stack of dish towels. She turned to go, then stopped and pulled open drawers until she found a large, sharp kitchen knife. She fretted back to Runyan who was struggling to sit up.

'Lie down, crazy,' she said, pushing him in the chest with the butt of the knife.

Runyan spied the gloaming blade. 'You're going to finish the job,' he groaned. 'Make it quick.'

Danielson put the knife and towels down and gave him a pained look. She rolled one of the towels up and aligned it with the cut on his jaw.

'Hold that!' she said sternly, grabbing his good left hand and putting it on the towel. She laid his right arm slowly, gently, straight out from his body. Then she picked up the knife and carefully inserted the tip in the hole in his shirt and slit the gash to the end of the sleeve. She reversed the knife and extended the slash to his upper arm so she could curl the cloth away from the wound. It was also deep, with sliced tendons exposed, bleeding steadily and profusely. She wrapped a towel around the forearm and it promptly turned a bright crimson. She slit another towel in several places with the knife and then tore it into strips. She knotted two strips around the towel on the wound and another just above the elbow as a tourniquet.

She felt Isaacs crouch at her side.

'How is he?'

'Not as bad as he looks, I thought his throat was cut. He's lost a lot of blood, though.'

'I'll send the pact in the van for his chopper. There must be someplace he can set down around here. We'll get him down to the base hospital at Holloman as soon as possible.'

Isaacs headed quickly for the door. Outside the two agents were jogging back up the driveway.

'Missed her?' Isaacs inquired.

'No way,' one of them replied. 'Damn Ferrari, or some such thing. But she didn't head for the lab: she took off in the opposite direction. Shall we take the van after her?'

'No, we need it to help get medical attention for Runyan. Was Krone in the car?'

'Didn't get a good look, but yeah, I thought I saw a passenger.'

'Can't be too hard to find such a car in these parts,' Isaacs observed.

'Nah,' the agent agreed, 'it's bright red and goes two hundred miles an hour. Should be a snap from the air. It'll be dark soon, though. That could give her an edge.'

'Let's get on it then,' Isaacs said. 'You go with the pilot to the lab. Radio from the helicopter for a search team.'

'Right,' replied the agent, heading for the van.

Inside the house, Runyan had closed his eyes. Pat Danielson looked at his face, nearly as white from shock as the plaster on the adobe walls. Slowly, she reached out and put a comforting hand on the pale forehead.

'Damn you,' she whispered. 'Damn you.'

Chapter 16 | The Krone Experiment | Chapter 18