Sleeping Giants Page 51

—What kind of tests did Alyssa perform on you before the mission to Korea?

—She sent me to San Juan for some X-rays. She took a bunch of samples.

—What kind of samples?

—Everything, I guess. Blood. A lot of blood. Saliva, sperm, hair. Why? What do you think she’s doing?

—I do not know. How did you manage to free Ms. Resnik?

—I didn’t free her. I think they were done with her so they let her go. She knocked at my door.

—How was she?

—Pretty banged up. She was still hammered from whatever Alyssa had given her. She grabbed my hand, and we lay down in bed until morning. When I woke up, she was already dressed. She looked really nervous. We both knew we had to get out of there.

—What was your plan?

—We didn’t have a plan. We just tried walking out the front door. The guards had orders not to let us through. I could tell Kara was thinking about fighting her way out. I wasn’t really up to fighting four armed men. I put my hand on her shoulder to stop her. It took a few seconds, but I eventually felt her relax. Once she’d given up on the idea, we went back to my room to whip up some sort of plan.

—What did you come up with?

—Nothing at first. There’s only one elevator shaft, and it’s heavily guarded. That left only the underwater hatch and the air shafts. Neither of us knew how to ride a sub, so we gave up on that one rather quickly, and we couldn’t come up with a way to climb the shafts. They’re about a mile long. Then I thought: Han Solo.

—…

—Han Solo, you know. “If they follow standard imperial procedure, they’ll dump their garbage before they go to light speed, and then we just float away.”

—Is that supposed to help?

—Today’s garbage day. They take out the Dumpsters once a week, whatever they couldn’t incinerate—metal, all kinds of scraps, and then a truck picks it up. We snuck into one of the containers, and they carried us out, with the rest of the trash.

—I am surprised Ms. Resnik went along with that plan.

—I was too. I can’t say I was too confident about it myself. The one thing we knew is that we didn’t wanna spend another day in there. It was just better than not trying anything at all.

We got out of the Dumpsters when we heard the door close and we started walking. We weren’t even half a mile away when we heard the trucks they sent after us. We cut through the woods and ran as fast as we could. They caught up to us real fast. I told you the rest already.

We can’t leave Kara in there with that psycho.

—I agree.

—OK, so what’s the plan?

—I have absolutely no idea.

—Can’t you storm the place with a platoon of Marines?

—No.

—Delta Force, anything?

—I wish I could. I no longer have access to military personnel. As far as the United States government is concerned, I am in the proverbial doghouse for the time being.

—You must have friends somewhere else.

—I have connections in several countries, but if by “friends,” you mean military-trained people who will foray into US territory for a rescue mission in a hostile environment, then no, I do not have friends at the moment. I do have access to substantial amounts of money. Given enough time, I can probably assemble a team of mercenaries, but it is not something that can be done in a matter of hours, even days.

—How long?

—Two or three weeks at best.

—She can’t stay in there for two weeks. She could die today, tomorrow. She might be dead already.

—There is time. They will not kill her. This might sound insensitive, but she is too valuable an asset to risk permanently damaging her. Her stay will involve some unpleasantries, I am sure. Ms. Papantoniou will do everything in her power to discover what makes her…special, but she will not kill her.

—I know Alyssa won’t kill her on purpose, but you know Kara. She can get a rise out of anyone. I’m worried she might do something stupid. I’m sure the guards were told not to harm her, but they won’t just stand there while she beats the crap out of them. There are a lot of guns in there, people on edge. A lot of things can go wrong.

—I suggest you accompany me back to the United States. We may be able to convince the Office of the President that it is in their best interest to help.

—What do you need me for?

—I will be arrested the minute I step through the White House gate. If they decide to let me sit in a cell for a few days, you can deliver the message yourself.

—They won’t lock you up before they hear what you have to say. You go. You convince them we need their help. I’ll stay behind and see what I can do from here.

—What could you possibly do? You do not know anyone and you do not speak the language. Where will you hide?

—Nowhere. You’re right. I’d have a hard time ordering coffee out here. I’ll go back. I think they’ll let me in.

—They will lock you in a room and never let you out.

—I don’t think so. I’ll tell them I realized that this project is all I have, that I have nowhere to go. They probably won’t trust me at first—I mean, it’s too obvious—but if I keep it up, they’ll want to trust me. It would be too convenient for them if I really wanted back in. It’ll be impossible to resist. I’m pretty sure they’ll give it a shot.

—If they do fall for this rather patent subterfuge, what will you do then?

—Wait for the cavalry. Make sure nothing happens to Kara.

—And if I were to be unsuccessful? You will have risked your life and lost your freedom again, for nothing.

—I’ll find a way, maybe. I’ll try to come up with something better than hiding in the trash. I’ll try to find out what Alyssa has up her sleeve. I mean, if she’s willing to treat us like prisoners, she can’t really expect us to cooperate that much. She must be really close. Maybe she has something working already.

—Before she evicted me from the premises, she suggested she might have found a way to keep the helmets working after you had turned them on. She made it sound more like a project than something functional.

—I doubt that. She has a big ego, but if you were that close, wouldn’t you step on your pride for a few more days rather than risk everything on a bet? And that can’t be all of it. She couldn’t keep the helmets turned on forever. She’d still need us to start her up from time to time. It would need to be something we don’t have to do voluntarily. It’s hard enough to get up there as it is, I can’t imagine trying to bring up someone who doesn’t want to go.

—Please forget about the investigation and focus on finding a way to escape again. I am worried that Alyssa may not be the only imminent threat to your life and that of Ms. Resnik. The cavalry, as you called it, might do more harm than good.

—Do I wanna know?

—There are a lot of moving parts to this plan. The United States government might simply decide to cut its losses and neutralize the threat.

—You mean blow us all to pieces?

—Nothing so dramatic. The public might frown upon the United States carpet bombing a national park in Puerto Rico.

—That’s reassuring. You had me worried there for a second.

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