Sleeping Giants Page 57

—So they just let her go?

—No one even saw her. She must have found a way to escape the compound before Mr. Mitchell took action.

—Where would she go?

—I do not know. The Marines looked for her at the airport. There were no women by that name on any of the passenger manifests for the day. They have calculated some possible routes. The most likely scenario is that she took a short flight to one of the neighboring islands. She may have hopped between a few islands before taking a flight to America or Europe.

—So she gets away and we forget about the whole thing? I’m not that forgiving.

—Me neither. I contacted the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina this morning. I provided them with some evidence. It might be enough for Sarajevo to ask for her extradition when she is found.

—Evidence of what? What’d she do in Bosnia?

—She was born there.

—Papantoniou?

—It is not her name. She never went back to her maiden name after her husband died.

—So what’s the evidence?

—There is a thirteen-month gap in her employment history. Yet, her financial records show little or no change in her spending patterns during that period.

—Wow. Let me get this straight: you think she’s a criminal because she kept spending the same even though she had no job. Maybe she had enough savings. Maybe Mom and Dad helped.

—Both her parents were dead. More to the point, that thirteen-month gap occurred right around the time of the Srebrenica massacre.

—Srebren…You think she’s the doctor who tortured those poor people? Who forced Muslim women to…I…I can’t speak…

—Take your time.

—Is that why you sent me to find Fata?

—I sent you there to find a potential witness. As I said, I have no hard evidence. She has a medical background. Her previous employment was in a hospital only ninety miles from Srebrenica, and she cannot account for her income during the time of the massacre.

I did find a sympathetic ear with the Bosnian government. It would be a significant political victory to bring the Butcher of Srebrenica to justice, so they will look into the matter further. They will send an investigator to the village where you found Fata and show her some pictures.

—Are you sure it was her? I mean, “really” sure?

—I am about 98 percent certain that she had absolutely nothing to do with the events that occurred in Srebrenica. In all honesty, it is a terribly far-fetched interpretation of the facts. But, I have been proven wrong before. The Bosnian government might be able to build a case against her, whether or not she is guilty of that particular crime.

—Remind me never to get on your bad side. When will we know?

—I would say in about ten years.

—Ten years! How long can it take to show a woman one picture? Or is that how long you think a trial would take?

—I do not know how rapidly the wheels of justice move in Bosnia. What I do know is that a trial could not start until she is extradited, and she could not be extradited if she is serving a prison sentence for another crime.

—What other crime? What else could she have done? Kill Kennedy?

—She has done nothing yet. But if she lands in one of the major airports I have contacts in, she will be found in possession of several kilos of heroin, or some other illegal narcotic. That should considerably extend her stay, wherever that is. I would say for approximately ten years, based on the average sentence for drug trafficking.

—You don’t mess around, do you?

—I like to be thorough.

—I don’t like to think of myself as vindictive, but…

—But you are.

—Exactly. So, thank you. She deserves it. How the hell did you end up picking Eva Braun to run this place anyway? Don’t answer that, I don’t really wanna know.

—I can answer that very easily. She is the only person I did not choose myself. And people ask me why I micromanage everything…

—So, can we go home now?

—There is another matter I am afraid we must discuss before we depart. It concerns you and Mr. Couture personally.

—Should I be worried?

—How would you like to make history?

—Whoa. Cheesy. Isn’t that what we’ve been doing all along?

—Well, how would you like to serve in the Earth Defense Corps?

—What the heck is that?

—An armed branch of the United Nations dedicated to planetary defense. It will be the first ever military force maintained directly by the UN.

—An army with soldiers from all over the world?

—For now, personnel would mostly come from the United States and Canada.

—It would just be me and Vincent…

—Yes. The preliminary plan calls for a command and research center to be created within two years. It will need to be staffed. When that happens, you are correct: personnel will come from everywhere.

—What will we do?

—The primary focus of the organization will be research: exploring the capabilities of the device and using it as a springboard for the development of new technologies with planetary-defense applications.

—I meant what will Vincent and I do?

—Parades and photo opportunities, for the most part. Unless, of course, Earth is attacked by alien forces, in which case you will most likely die a quick and meaningless death at the hands of a superior enemy with overwhelming numbers.

—You make everything sound so exciting. I’m psyched. And who will run this Earth Defense thing?

—I do not know. I have been tasked with finding a suitable team leader. I promise to stay away from any candidate exhibiting sociopathic tendencies. What matters for now is that this project cannot go forward without you, and I would like to tell the UN that they can count on your continued involvement.

—You want my answer now?

—There is no time like the present.

—…Sure. What am I gonna say? No, I don’t want to drive that awesome alien thing? I know Vincent wouldn’t give this up for the world. I sure won’t be the one to take it away from him.

—I am very pleased to hear you say it. I felt it necessary to ask, given all that you have been through recently.

—I know, you big softy. You act all tough, but really you’re all mush inside.

—That reminds me, your mother would like to see you.

—Mom? Where is she?

—Guantanamo.

—…Come on! Really? You put my mother in a cell to use her as leverage in case I said no?

—While it is not unfathomable that I would use the presence of your loved ones as a means of persuasion, you should know I would never put your mother in a cell. I am, after all, all mush inside. She is at the base in Guantanamo, not the prison. Her plane had to drop some Marines along the way. She should be here within the hour. You can fly back to the United States together.

—You’re an asshole. Vincent said you’d pull something like that.

—How is Mr. Couture doing? I have not had the chance to see him yet.

—He’s fine. He’s more than fine. He really likes that hero stuff. It’s scary.

—Is that a bad thing?

—I don’t know. I’m still mad at him.

—What has he done now to deserve your ire? He has been, as you pointed out, fairly heroic these past few days.

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