Gray cut her off. "Funny."
Monk strode around the far side of the car and called, "Shotgun!"
Fiona ducked, searching around.
Gray steadied her and guided her toward the rear door. "He was only claiming the front seat."
Fiona scowled across the car at Monk. "Wanker."
"Sorry. Don't be so jumpy, kid."
They all climbed into the sedan. Gray started the engine and glanced back to Fiona. "Well? Where to?"
Monk already had a map pulled out.
Fiona leaned forward and reached over Monk's shoulder. She traced a finger along the map.
"Out of town. Twenty kilometers southwest. We have to go to the village of Buren in Alme Valley."
"What's the address there?"
Fiona leaned back. "Funny," she said, repeating his own word from a moment ago.
He met her gaze in the rearview mirror. She wore a disgusted look at his last lame attempt to coerce the information from her.
Couldn't blame a guy for trying.
She waved for him to head out.
With no choice, he obeyed.
On the far side of the parking garage, two figures sat in a white Mercedes roadster. The man lowered the binoculars and donned a pair of Italian sunglasses. He nodded to his twin sister beside him. She spoke into the satellite phone, whispering in Dutch.
Her other hand held his. He massaged his thumb across her tattoo.
She squeezed his fingers.
Glancing down, he noted where she had chewed one of her fingernails to a ragged nub. The imperfection was as glaring as a broken nose.
She noted his attention and tried to hide her nail, embarrassed.
There was no reason for shame. He understood the consternation and heartache that resulted in the chewed nail. They had lost Hans, one of their older brothers, last night.
Killed by the driver of the car that had just left.
Fury narrowed his vision as he watched the BMW slide out of the parking garage. The GPS transponder they'd planted would track the vehicle.
"Understood," his sister said into the phone. "As expected, they've followed the book's trail here. Undoubtedly, they will be headed to the Hirszfeld estate in Buren. We'll leave the jet under surveillance. All is prepared."
As she listened, she caught her twin brother's eye.
"Yes," she said both to the phone and her brother, "we will not fail. The Darwin Bible will be ours."
He nodded, agreeing. He slipped his hand from hers, twisted the key, and started the ignition.
"Good-bye, Grandfather," his sister said.
Lowering the phone, she reached over and shifted a single lock of his blond hair that had fallen out of place. She combed it in place with her fingers, then smoothed it out.
He kissed the tips of her fingers as she pulled back.
Love and a promise.
They would have their revenge.
Mourning would come later.
He drifted their polar white Mercedes out of its parking place to begin the hunt.
11:08 a.m. HIMALAYAS
The soldering gun's tip flared fiery crimson. Painter steadied the tool. His hand shook, but it was not fear that trembled his fingers. The headache continued to pound behind his right eye. He had taken a fistful of Tylenol, along with two tabs of phenobarbital, an anticonvulsant. None of the drugs would stave off the eventual debilitation and madness, but according to Anna, they would buy him more functional hours.
How long did he have?
Less than three days, maybe even shorter before he was incapacitated.
He fought to block out this concern. Worry and despair could debilitate him just as quickly as the disease. As his grandfather said in that sage Pequot
Indian manner of his, Wringin'your hands only stops you from rollin' up your slee ves.
Taking this to heart, Painter concentrated on soldering the cable connection to an exposed ground wire. The wiring ran throughout the entire subterranean castle and out to its various antennas. Including the satellite uplink dish hidden somewhere near the top of the mountain.
Once done, Painter leaned back and waited for the new solder to cool. He sat at a bench with an array of tools and parts neatly aligned, like a surgeon. His workspace was flanked by two open laptops.
Both supplied by Gunther. The man who had slaughtered the monks. Murdered Ang Gelu. Painter still felt a well of fury whenever near the man.
The large guard stood at his shoulder, watching his every move. They were alone in a maintenance room. Painter considered putting the soldering gun through the man's eye. But what then? They were miles from civilization, and a death sentence hung over his head. Cooperation was their only means of survival. To that end, Lisa remained with Anna in her study, continuing her own line of investigation into a cure.
Painter and Gunther pursued another angle.
Hunting down the saboteur.
According to Gunther, the bomb that had destroyed the Bell had been set by hand. And since no one had left the grounds since the explosion, the saboteur was likely still in the castle.
If they could apprehend the subject, perhaps more could be learned.
So a bit of bait had been distributed through word of mouth.
All that was left was to set the trap to go along with it.
One laptop was plugged into the castle's networked communications systems. Painter had already piggybacked into the system, using passwords supplied by Gunther. He had sent out a series of compressed code packets intended to monitor the system for all outgoing communication. If the saboteur tried to communicate to the outside world, he would be discovered, his location pinned down.
But Painter did not expect the saboteur to be so ham-fisted. He or she had survived and operated in secret for a long time. That implied cunning—and a means of communication independent of the castle's main communication network.
So Painter had built something new.
The saboteur must have obtained a private portable satellite phone, one employed in secret to communicate with his superiors. But such a phone needed a clear line-of-sight path between the unit's antenna and the geosynchronous orbiting satellite. Unfortunately there were too many niches, windows, and service hatches where the saboteur could accomplish this, too many to guard without raising suspicions.
So an alternative was needed.
Painter checked the signal amplifier he had attached to the ground wire. It was a device he had engineered himself back at Sigma. His expertise as a
Sigma operative, before assuming the directorship, had been on surveillance and microengineering. This was his arena.
The amplifier linked the ground wire to the second laptop.
"Should be ready," Painter said, his headache finally waning a bit.