DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN
"Every now and then a writer delivers a book that is just so pure pulp, you want to clap
your hands and shout hallelujah. Derrick Ferguson as a writer is cut from the same cloth as
Walter Gibson, Lester Dent, Ian Fleming and Clive Cussler. He's a pulp wordsmith who
spins a rollicking adventure yarn that never lets up from the first page to the last."
-- Ron Fortier, Editor-in-Chief, AIRSHIP 27
"Written in the fashion of the classic pulp novels made popular by characters such as Doc
Savage and The Shadow, author Derrick Ferguson has created a new adventure hero whose
toughness and bravado will be long remembered after you finish reading this book."
-- D.K. Gaston, author of 13: An Avery Hudson Adventure
Dillon and the Voice of Odin
By Derrick Ferguson
Published at Smashwords
This book is also available in print at most online retailers.
Copyright 2003 by Derrick Ferguson
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The ship was such a crumbling; decrepit hulk that it was amazing it had survived the
journey from the volcanic island where it had been found. Huge plates of rust, some more
than eight feet in diameter, scaled the battered hull like the decaying, flaking skin on a
Dillon fought off the feelings of desolation and unease as he made his way down the
corridor to the captain's cabin, trying not to cough at the fetid odors crowding his nostrils.
He sloshed through the two feet of green, syrupy water; thankful he'd worn the knee-high,
waterproof boots he'd bought in Japan some four months ago when he'd taken time off after
that adventure concerning the Daughters of the Peacock King. God knows he'd needed the
vacation time and he'd been enjoying himself immensely when word of this little job had
reached him. He'd been sufficiently intrigued to take a look into it. Not that the money had
been enough. But the thought of wandering in the bowels of this vessel—long thought
lost—had sparked his curiosity and snagged him out of the boredom he'd been suffering
through. Dillon hated to be bored worse than anything in the world.
Fat, lazy fish with blind eyes swam in the mucky water and Dillon didn't even want to
know how they were surviving. Ropy spider webs hung from the ceiling and spiders the
size of dinner plates watched Dillon as he passed below, red eyes glittering like rubies
dipped in fresh blood.
Dillon's powerful flashlight bored into the darkness ahead; his steps sure and steady as he
continued to the captain's cabin.
The water ahead of him suddenly foamed and agitated as an albino snake—its body fully
as thick as Dillon's own considerably well-muscled thigh—broke the surface, whipping
Dillon jumped backward, wiping water from his eyes as his gloved hand dropped
downward to a hidden sheath inside the top of his right boot. He withdrew a switchblade
and hit the button. A long, ten-inch blade popped out, glittering in the light held in his other
The snake lunged forward; mouth gaped wide at an impossible angle, fangs springing into
sight. Dillon met the snake's lunge with his own and the head went flying into the murk,
neatly severed from its thick body.
Dillon wiped off the blade and returned it to his boot, not even giving the churning water
behind him another look. The door of the captain's cabin was rusted shut, but two good,
solid kicks opened it in quick time. Inside, a heavy, greasy coating of greenish-white
fungus covered everything. Dillon went on inside, water sloshing around his knees. A
desiccated corpse lay on the bed, still garbed in a captain's uniform. The cap rested next to
the shriveled head. A huge, ornate golden ring with an inlaid opal was on the second finger
of the right hand.
Dillon whispered a prayer before removing the ring from the finger, placing it inside a
secure pocket of the bronze-colored leather jacket he wore. He quickly retraced his steps,
returning to the elevator at the end of the corridor. Dillon climbed up through the access
hatch in the ceiling and ascended up the maintenance ladder rungs bolted to the wall of the
elevator shaft. Now it was a matter of a simple climb back up to the main deck, sneak past
the guards on the dock and the job would be over. And Dillon would have satisfied another
of his friends. Easy and relatively unexciting. Nice to have a job that was simple for a
Suddenly, the entire ship lurched and one of Dillon's gloved hands slipped. He found
himself clinging tightly to the metal rung by one hand, a bone-shattering drop waiting for
him if his hand slipped. He looked down at the yawning metal shaft below him. It looked
like a really long way down. The ship lurched again, and damned if it didn't begin to
actually move, which was surprising in itself because the ship hadn't moved under its own
power in nearly seventeen years. Dillon regained a firm hand and foothold on the metal
rungs and scampered up the ladder, wondering exactly what the hell was going on now.
He clambered out through the partially opened doors of the elevator and emerged onto the
main deck of the luxury ocean liner, Goliath. Once the proudest vessel in the Delta Star
line of ships of British registry, it was now just a hulk, a shell of the glory it had been. But
it was a shell that somebody was taking. Dillon looked down at the dock and saw British
police officers assigned to guard the ship frantically running to and fro, shouting
instructions and orders. The dock was too far away for Dillon to make a jump for it so he
quickly ditched the idea and ran up the nearest ladder to a higher level so he could see
exactly what was happening.
Shielding his eyes against the early morning sun, he looked toward the bow and saw eight
cargo hovercrafts all towing the immense Goliath into the middle of the Thames River.
The skyline of London was clearly visible in the dawn light as well as two Balduur-class
attack helicopters, which were enthusiastically strafing the docks on either side of the river
as the hovercrafts picked up speed.
Dillon dropped to the deck and ran toward the stern of the ship. Somebody was stealing
the Goliath and doing quite an excellent job of it. Of course, they'd had the abominable bad
timing to be doing it the same day he'd picked, but sometimes that couldn't be helped. The
thing to do now was to get off the ship before whoever was stealing it found out Dillon was
on board, because the only thing of value that was onboard Goliath was the ring now in
One of the Balduurs swung by on a pass and Dillon clearly saw the pilot, which meant
that the pilot clearly saw him. Damn! He'd be on the radio to who- ever was on the ship,
telling them they had company, which meant that right about now—
Three armed men, garbed in standard mercenary gear came pounding up a ladder, all of
them brandishing weapons. "Hold it right there, pally!"
Dillon most certainly did not 'hold it right there.' He never did. Without breaking stride, he
turned his headlong run into a one-handed somersault, reaching for his .44 Desert Eagle
Magnum as he did so. In an upside-down position, standing on one hand, he aimed and
snapped off six shots that drove the mercenaries back through the hatch they'd popped out
of. Dillon landed on his feet and continued his run without losing a step.
Bullets zinged and whizzed around him, hitting the deck, the railing, sending metal and
wood chips flying around him. He dived, rolled and came up with the Magnum held in
both hands, firing at the Balduur attack chopper that had been firing its .40mm electric
cannon at him so gleefully. As the Balduur swooped over his head, Dillon emptied the clip
into what he hoped was the gas tank. The damn thing was going pretty fast and it had been
a long time since he'd flown one, so he couldn't exactly remember where the fuel tanks
But he must've hit something vital because he saw fat, bright sparks leaping from the
underside of the helicopter, followed by a thick twist of black smoke that curled like an
evil jinn escaping as the pilot steered the helicopter in a looping arc over the ship.
Dillon got to his feet and continued running, ejecting the spent clip from his Magnum
and slamming home a fresh one. His mind was racing, running through his mental file
cabinet of the mercenaries he knew, trying to figure out who had the bucks to spend on an
operation of this size...armed men, attack choppers, hovercrafts...it was a short list and a lot
of the names he was coming up with belonged to men and women who were dead...some
of them as a result of crossing Dillon on a bad day.
He rounded a corner and braked to a halt.
Some twenty guns of various calibers were all aimed right at him, in the hands of men who
looked as if they wanted nothing more than a chance to use them.
Dillon lifted his hands, the Magnum dangling by the trigger guard from one long finger. "I
don't suppose we could try diplomacy?"
They bum-rushed him.
Battered and sore from the gratuitous kicking and pummeling he had taken, Dillon
was dragged to the bridge. Five men were there, garbed and armed pretty much like the
rest. A sixth man stood off to one side, wearing a khaki safari suit that had obviously been
tailor made to his lean, well-muscled body. He puffed on a freshly lit Maya Viajante cigar,
the light herbal scent battling with the smell of mold and decay. His gorgeously dazzling
blond hair swept back from his high, aristocratic forehead. A beautifully embroidered black
leather eye patch—depicting a dying dove impaled on a thorn—covered his left eye. He
was watching the hovercrafts towing Goliath into open sea as the helicopters kept pursuing
police helicopters at bay. He puffed on his cigar for a few seconds more and then turned to
"Hold him. Hold him good. And search him. He must have the ring. It wasn't in the
captain's cabin." The man with the eye patch sized Dillon up with some contempt. "Do you
have any notion of whom you've decided to interfere with, my friend?"
"Sure I do. I've heard of you. You're Cecil Henshaw." "Very good. And you are—?"
Henshaw's good eye opened wide in momentary surprise. He quickly com- posed himself
and replied. "I'm surprised we've not crossed paths before. Your reputation is well known
to me, sir."
"Your reputation precedes you as well, Henshaw. Had your lands and title stripped from
you by the British courts as I recall."
"My lands and title were taken from me by jealous scum. A situation I fully intend to
rectify one day."
"Oh, please. Gimme a break. You're a mercenary now and you like it. Gives you a chance
to indulge in your favorite sport, which if I remember right is shooting women in the back
and drowning helpless infants. You're the sort that gives the profession a bad name."
The back of Henshaw's hand striking Dillon's cheek was sharp and harsh. "I think I'll
remove your man sack myself before cutting your throat, my mouthy friend." Henshaw
looked at the man who had searched Dillon. "Did you find it?"
"No, sir. No ring."
Henshaw turned back to Dillon. "Where is it?" "Where is what?"
This time, Henshaw drove his fist into the pit of Dillon's stomach. Even though he was
ready for it, Dillon doubled over in genuine pain. Henshaw had put a lot behind that punch
and it had hurt.
"I'm only going to ask you once more and then I'm going to have my men slice you up like
a Christmas goose. Where is the damned ring?"
"Okay, okay...tell your boys to let me go and I'll produce it."
"Because I swallowed it while your little sisters were getting their rocks off beating up on
me. You want it, I've got to bring it back up."
Henshaw motioned to his men. "Cover him. If he does anything else except bring that ring
up, kill him on the spot."
Dillon's arms were released and he bent over. He must have been nine or ten when he'd
learned the trick of swallowing an object and bringing it back up at will. It had always been
a good one and he was using it now as a stall while he figured a way out of this mess. It
wasn't going to be easy. The bridge was full of armed men and they all had their guns
pointed right at him.
With a sudden, sharp retching sound the ring came back up to lay in Dillon's gloved palm,
the opal sparkling like a dark, wet eye.
Henshaw nodded in approval. "Place it on the deck and step away. Very slowly, if you
Dillon slowly knelt down and placed the ring on the deck. His mind had seldom moved so
fast, calculating distance, trying to figure out whom to jump first...
The windows of the bridge exploded into a million miniature flying glass knives as
bullets from the machine guns of a British Army helicopter strafed the Goliath. Four of
Henshaw's men died instantly, armor-piercing bullets punching through their body armor
effortlessly. They jiggled and danced as if 10,000 volts of electricity had suddenly been
slammed through their bodies, their fingers tightening on the triggers of their weapons,
adding to the general mayhem.
Dillon snatched the ring and his fist continued upwards from the deck in a beautiful
uppercut that that sent Henshaw flying backwards out through a window. Dillon then dived
for cover as Henshaw's remaining men opened fire on the Army helicopter, which broke
off its attack and dived away. Dillon saw his Magnum lying just a few feet from him,
dropped by one of Henshaw's dead mercenaries. But there was no way he could get to it
without being properly ventilated.
Maybe it was time to try diplomacy. "Hey! Hey!" Dillon yelled. "Listen to me, you
idiots! It's over! You hear me! Over! Henshaw's through! You want to die for nothing or
spend the rest of your lives in a British prison? That Army chopper's just the beginning!
There's probably a dozen more as well as gunboats surrounding this wreck right now!"
Dillon ducked back down again as more bullets filled the air.
"You sound like you're talkin' a deal, guy!"
"I am and here it is! Every man for himself! I don't stop you from getting away and you
don't stop me!"
"Give over the ring! Henshaw promised us a lotta jake if we got that ring! Even if he's
dead, its gotta be worth a lot! Enough to make this morning worth the work at least!"
"Shove it up a grainy hole!"
"Think it over! Y'got five seconds an' y'just used two of 'em!"
The Army copter and the Balduur were circling over the ship, firing on each other, trading
lethal curtains of lead that bounced off the considerable armor plating covering the metal
hide of each aircraft. The Balduur jinked down and to the right and Dillon saw one of the
forward rocket launchers on the Army copter ignite, preparing to fire. He made a split
second decision, diving forward as low as possible, right toward his gun. He grabbed it up
and rolled wildly out of the bridge's hatch, tumbling down a flight of steps as the bridge
was disintegrated by the rocket, leaving a flaming, smoking ruin behind with charred,
screaming bod- ies flying through the air.
Dillon crashed onto the deck, stunned, coughing and struggling to focus his twinning
eyesight. He staggered to his feet and surveyed the battle in the sky and the air.
Just as he'd told Henshaw's cronies, there were four or five British Army helicopters
circling the Goliath. One of the Balduurs—most likely the one he'd plugged earlier—was
just about done for. The amount of smoke pouring out of the aircraft was appalling and the
pilot had to be one hell of a flier to keep the crippled ship in the air. The other choppers
were pounding bullets into the hovercrafts towing the Goliath. It had been a daring plan,
indeed. But this one wasn't destined for success. Dillon reckoned that it would be another
thirty minutes or so and Goliath would be retaken.
It was while Dillon was watching the battle and thus distracted that Cecil Henshaw
leapt on his back, whirling him and punching him right in the jaw, sending him flying.
The ring left Dillon's hand, skittered across the deck, and came to rest perilously close to
Dillon still had his Magnum in his hand and he got off a shot, which missed. Henshaw
grinned and came back on in, heavy fists landing in Dillon's midsection, the solid blows
driving Dillon back several steps.
The Army chopper cut loose with a rocket that smashed into the side of the Goliath
and the resulting explosion kicked the ocean liner to one side, heaving and rocking in the
The ring slid toward the edge with frightening speed, toward the ocean and oblivion.
Dillon ignored Henshaw and leaped, the welcome liquid-fire of adrenaline burning in every
The ring went over the side, spinning in mid-air and began its drop to the ocean.
Dillon's gloved hand closed over the ring, saving it from eternal loss.
Henshaw leaped on Dillon's back, hissing in rage. "Black bastard!" as he gripped Dillon's
head and gave it a vicious twist, trying to break his neck.
Dillon brought the Magnum up and fired over his shoulder. The large Magnum slug went
through the embroidered eye patch and exited out the back of Henshaw's skull, taking a
sizable amount of brain matter with it.
Dillon thrust Henshaw's body off his back and shakily got to his feet. Hearing the sound of
a Balduur he turned to see one of them heading right for him. Dillon ejected the clip in his
Magnum, quickly snagged a clip containing armor-piercing shells from his belt and
slammed it home. He whipped the big gun around and sent six slugs right through the
armored glass of the canopy. Four of the bullets did in the pilot, who slumped forward over
the controls, blood splashing the inside of the cockpit from the massive exit wounds.
Dillon jammed his still smoking weapon into its holster and ran for the opposite side
of the ship, helped considerably by the fact that the huge Goliath was already slanting in
that direction. He figured he had maybe twenty seconds to cover a distance half the size of
a football field before the 'copter hit the side of the ship. Maybe.
The Balduur dived right at Goliath, piloted by a dead man.
Dillon leapt over the rail of the ship, arms and legs outstretched, the water looking
awfully far away as he plummeted straight down, yelling like a Comanche.
The Balduur impacted into the Goliath's side like a runaway comet and the explosion
was an incredible, apocalyptic fireball of orange and red that seemed to engulf the entire
front half of the ocean liner.
The rush of superheated air from the explosion rocked the nearest Army chopper and
the pilot swore as he fought to control his suddenly bucking aircraft.
"Good bloody Lord," his co-pilot whispered, crossing himself. "Should we look for the
bloke who jumped for it?"
The pilot turned the chopper back toward London. "Take a good look at that, mate!
D'you really think anybody human could have survived that?"
The Goliath was going down fast. The bow was already underwater and the flames were
spreading toward the rest of the ocean liner with a greedy pace that made the orange flames
seem alive. Thick, inky black clouds billowed into the bright blue morning sky and the
water was covered in a lake of flaming oil extending two hundred feet around the ship.
"You're right about that," the co-pilot said slowly. "Nobody human could've survived
Lady Thelma Sharpe sat in her bedroom, still in the frilly, lacy, pale pink nightgown she
had gone to bed in, sipping straight vodka from a Stinelle crystal goblet. Lady Thelma
couldn't get her day going until she had consumed enough vodka to put most grown men
into a coma. And this was her third goblet. She reached out and softly touched the call-pad
on her nightstand.
Ten seconds later, her personal assistant entered the bedroom. Kris Quinlan was a tall
South American beauty that knew she turned heads without even trying. She walked across
the spacious room on three-inch heels as if she were born wearing them. Her spectacular
mane of blond hair was like a waterfall of gold around her shoulders.
"Yes, Lady Thelma?"
"Have you seen the news? Have you? The entire ship is lost! It's burning so hot that no
rescue ships can get near it! The whole thing has turned into a bloody disaster! Haven't you
been able to get hold of Lavimore Watson yet? Where is he?"
Kris responded in an even, quiet tone that she had learned how to use not too long after
entering Lady Thelma's service. "I've left messages all over town for him. He seems to
have gone into hiding."
"He damn well better have! He's totally bollixed up this entire affair! What's the name of
this so-called friend of his? The one who was supposed to be getting the ring 'with no
"Dillon is his name, Lady Thelma."
Lady Thelma threw back the last two fingers of vodka in her goblet and motioned for Kris
to pour her another drink. "What in God's name could have happened? What did this man
"According to the soldiers on the Army helicopters, they saw a black man fighting against
several others. The black man would be Dillon. The pilot and co-pilot of one of the
helicopters reported seeing him jump off the ship before it exploded but they doubted he
could have survived."
Lady Thelma swirled the vodka around in the goblet before taking a gulp. "I trusted
Lavimore to hire the best to get my ring back and he assured me that there was none better
than Dillon. According to Lavimore, Dillon makes his living surviving things like this.
Where's Mr. Whalen? I want to see him right now!"
Kris lifted her wrist and spoke softly into the comlink strapped around it. She received
confirmation and turned to Lady Thelma. "He was making a personal sweep of the
grounds. He'll be here shortly."
Lady Thelma nodded and turned her attention back to the television. Her estate covered
nearly eleven thousand acres in Chelsea and her influence reached even further than that.
Lady Thelma's family was a major power in world ship- ping, had been for nearly one
hundred and three years now. Lady Thelma herself was highly feared not only in her native
England but also in many other parts of the world. Mainly because nothing seemed to make
her happy save for the acquisition of power. Power over life and death. Power to alter the
destinies of countries and dynasties. Lovely, lovely power.
Unfortunately, all that power wasn't doing her a whole lot of good since she didn't seem to
be able to lay her hands on one simple damned gold ring.
Frederick Whalen came into the room without knocking. He was quite used to doing so.
Standing at an even seven feet tall, weighing four hundred pounds, he was nicknamed, of
course, 'The Whale.' Lady Thelma had found him fifteen years ago on a trip to Sri Lanka
where she became intrigued by stories of a giant boy with freakish, superhuman strength
helping a sect of monks build a temple. She'd followed up on the rumors and found the
monks and the boy. The monks had explained that his parents had abandoned the boy when
he was eighteen years old. Even then, he stood six feet six inches and ate whole roast pigs
twice a day without a belch. Lady Thelma had taken Whalen with her when she left Sri
Lanka, educated him in the finest private schools in London and hired the world's best
martial artists to train the boy in a dozen different disciplines. Frederick Whalen was
totally devoted to Lady Thelma and worshipped her with no reservations whatsoever.
"You wanted to see me, Lady Thelma?" The Whale's voice was even, well modulated, soft.
His tailored suit fit his immense body well, but it didn't completely hide the massive ropes
of muscle moving on his arms and back.
"You've done some background work on this man of Watson's. This Dillon. What's your
"You've heard about the Goliath blowing up this morning. You think this Dillon
could have survived it?"
"If even half of what I've heard about him is true, I'd say yes."
Lady Thelma gulped more vodka.
"What's his next move going to be? Do you think he'll come here?"
"He'll need money to get out of the country and Watson doesn't have any. I think its safe to
assume he'll come here. That's why I've been checking the grounds and house myself. I've
got the house security staff on full alert."
"Finish whatever it was you were doing when I called for you then get right back here.
Until we know exactly where Dillon is and what he plans I want you right where I can see
you, Mr. Whalen. Kris, I want you to call Frayne and tell him to get over here."
Kris looked dismayed. "Frayne?...but he's—"
"He's the man I want you to call right now. Go do what I tell you!"
Kris nodded quickly and double-timed it out of the room, followed by Whalen. Despite his
size he moved as quietly and gracefully as a Russian ballerina. Lady Thelma reached for
her drink and took a sip, staring at the television screen without actually seeing it. Her
mind's eye was looking back into the past, to a day that seemed as sharp and clear in her
memory as if it had happened last week...
Somewhere in Brazil—1973
Only the hierarchy of the world intelligence community—which was a separate realm
that operated under its own rules and codes of behavior and protocol—knew of the
location of this secret laboratory complex. Before the meeting, the participants had spent
months undergoing strenuous background checks, confirmation of identities, and
rechecking of bonafides so that they could attend this demonstration. The complex had
been built under a cloak of fanatical security and those who worked there had not left the
complex for nearly four years.
Inside, four people were situated behind a thick plexiglass window looking into a large,
well-lit rectangular room. Three men and one woman. They all sat in comfortable leather
chairs an equal distance from one another and they all had one trusted bodyguard
standing at their elbow. They were all powerful people and they had come to this remote
location, hidden in the mountains of Brazil and built on the ruins of a lost city, to invest in
what could only be termed as the ultimate weapon.
Leopold Gynt walked into the room behind the glass. Six inches over six feet, he was well
muscled and extremely powerful in appearance despite his obviously advanced age, made
apparent by the deeply sunken lines in his face and the liver spots on his skin. But there
was still power of character and will in his squarely set jaw and hooded eyes...a gaze that
burned with menacing fanaticism. His thick iron-gray hair was swept back dramatically
from his high forehead. Long ago, in another life, he had been known by another name. A
name he had adopted again for this operation.
He beckoned and three items were wheeled in on separate trolleys. A crystal vase, a metal
cube three feet square, and a concrete block five feet square.
Leopold Gynt, also known as Odin, cleared his throat and spoke to his audience. "It has
taken me many years to construct the device I am going to demonstrate for you today. I
think afterwards you will agree that this is an extraordinary leap in weapons technology...
"For most of my adult life, I have studied the military applications of harmonic wave
variances. The theory is simple: everything on Earth, no matter if it is organic or
inanimate, vibrates at a specific and unique pattern. If that pattern can be isolated and
identified, a counter vibratory wave pattern can be generated that will disrupt the original
pattern. I will now demonstrate to you what can occur when this happens."
Gynt motioned to his assistants again and they rushed out to return a few minutes later,
pushing a machine on a hydraulic flatbed. A fist-sized, black stone shaped like an oval was
connected to electronic taps, running to huge black condensers and generators that
hummed as electric coils glowed with arcane energies. A cone of cloudy, yellowish crystal
pulsed with mysterious power within.
Gynt walked over to the machine and began making adjustments on the control panel. The
machine hummed musically and a series of metal rods, some barely an inch in diameter
and others as thick as a human leg, unfolded from the interior and pointed at the black
stone. The cone swung around until it pointed at the crystal vase. Gynt turned knobs and
dials, and the needles within the dials swung sharply from a resting position to stand
The cone blazed with bitter, inner light and the vase exploded into powder with a sound
like the dying wail of a banshee.
Gynt's whole body seemed to swell with excitement as he manipulated the controls again.
The cone swung around to point at the cube. He tapped a button to increase the power and
the machine throbbed faster. The metal cube glowed a bright cherry red, turning quickly to
orange, and then purest white. The cube began to bubble and smoke, melting in rivulets of
hot liquid metal that ran like water onto the floor. Gynt's assistants ran over with jugs of
cold water that they poured over the blistering liquid, and the demonstration chamber was
soon filled with clouds of steam.
Gynt was dancing from one side of the control panel to another like a macabre ballerina as
he manipulated the awesome energies he had called forth. One slip, one mistake, and a
cataclysm would be the result.
The concrete block was next. It split right down the middle, huge chunks flying into the air.
Some hit the thick plexiglass. The entire room was beginning to vibrate, not only the
demonstration room, but also the room where the visitors were watching. Gynt was playing
with one of the fundamental forces of the universe and it was not meant to be tamed by any
human for long. Not even a man as brilliant as Leopold Gynt.
He shut down the power and the machine quieted. Then he turned to face the window, his
face shining with triumph.
"As you can see, I have developed a weapon of incredible power. It can break stone. It can
shatter steel or melt human flesh. I still have much testing to run to learn how to correctly
harness it and make sure it will be safe for your organizations to use. But give me a year,
just a year! And I can guarantee a weapon that this world has never seen and one that you
no doubt will want in your arsenal."
Lady Thelma looked over her elderly companion's shoulder at John Velvet, the Deputy
Director of the American Intelligence Machine. A lean, hawkish man who was known for
two things in the espionage community: his brilliantly ruthless mind...and his wardrobe.
Velvet was always impeccably groomed and well dressed. Designers frequently sent him
custom made suits as Velvet could wear them with the quiet, elegant grace that eluded even
most professional models. Velvet invariably changed clothes two or three times a day and
rumor had it that he'd long ago had his sweat glands surgically removed, since no one in
living memory could ever remember having ever seen him sweat. Outside of clothing, his
only passion seemed to be his job. He performed with a tenacity and single-mindedness of
purpose that could only be described as scary.
"Do you think Velvet is taking any of this seriously, sir?" Lady Thelma asked the aged
gentleman with her. He was an old turtle of a man with no neck and watery eyes sunk deep
in his bullet shaped skull. It was rare for the head of The British Secret Service to make
this trip, and he probably would have rather one of the Double-O's had made this trip with
him, but Lady Thelma's family had much influence and power and she herself was just as
capable as any field agent. And besides, The Prime Minister herself had asked for Lady
Thelma to go along as a personal favor.
The old man grunted. "He seems bored if you ask me. But then, Velvet was always a
"You sound as if you have first hand knowledge of the man."
"Velvet took some training with our Double-O lads when he was just starting his career. I
tried to recruit him myself with no luck. He's no mercenary, that one. Loyal to his country,
first last and always."
Lady Thelma nodded and said "What about this weapon? Do you wish me to put in a bid
The old man snorted in disgust. "The British government doesn't have time to waste on
damned comic book nonsense."
Even as he said it, Lady Thelma fought to hide a secret smile. Maybe he didn't have a use
for this weapon but she knew that one day, someone would....
Dillon finished his third huge mug of hot, sweet coffee, washing down the last of the
second massive medium-rare steak he had literally devoured in front of his friend's eyes.
"Damn but that was good."
Lavimore Watson looked on with amused amazement. "You've got a remarkable appetite
for a man who's been shot at, beaten up and almost incinerated."
"Shit like that works up an appetite, chum." Dillon stood up and stretched his long,
Lavimore Watson put down his coffee cup and pushed his long, iron gray hair away from
his face. A former CIA operative who had been forcibly put out to pasture, he worked
freelance now. He and Dillon had met some seven years ago when Dillon had gotten
involved in a CIA operation in Australia. Since then, they'd worked together on several
jobs. Watson sighed. "I guess I owe you an explanation, huh?"
"I'd say so. There's a lot more to this job than you let on. Cecil Henshaw was no small
timer and he had a small army on that ship."
"Henshaw was no pushover, pal."
"Let him go impress the rest of the losers in Hell. What's the deal, Lavimore? And give it
to me straight, okay?"
"All I know is that Lady Thelma's family owns the Goliath. When she heard that it
had been found, she put out the word that she needed the ring recovered from her father's
body and she was willing to pay a lot of money to get it back. I figured you'd be the best
man for the job."
"Which tells me that you had an idea that there might be some trouble." Dillon moved
to the closet, selected a storm-cloud gray double-breasted Italian suit and began dressing.
Dillon had been using Watson's London townhouse as a base while in England, and he had
had some of his clothes and weapons shipped here from one of the many safe houses he
owned around the world. He had no safe house in London since he rarely visited England,
due to some bad blood between him and the London underworld. "And she gave you no
idea just why the ring is so valuable to her?"
"None at all. I swear."
"I've examined it and there's no hidden compartment, no writing on it, no circuitry inlaid
"So where are you going now?"
"To see Lady Thelma, of course." Dillon selected a midnight black tie and knotted it
around his neck. "Not only does she owe me money, but she might be in danger herself.
Henshaw had a lot of friends and they're not going to like me blowing him up. His buddies
might decide to take it out on her."
"Anything I can do to help?"
"Just lend me a car and wait for a call from me. Chances are I'll be coming back this way in
one hell of a hurry." Dillon slipped his Desert Eagle into a holster belted just behind his
right hip. The suit was cut in such a way that the gun was barely noticeable, even to a
trained, expert eye.
"You be careful, hear? Lady Thelma has a bodyguard who looks like Schwarzenegger on
"The Whale? Yeah, I've heard stories about him. But I'm not going looking for trouble."
Watson raised a questioning eyebrow as he watched Dillon slip his switch- blade into a
sheath strapped to his forearm, but said nothing.
Gregory Tipp looked more like a banker or a schoolteacher than a top agent of Her
Majesty's Secret Service. Slight of build, thin and balding with round wire-frame glasses
covering watery gray eyes, he looked like he would have trouble opening a bag of potato
chips. In fact, he was strong enough to bend a fireplace poker into a U shape. His thirty
years of service had won him an impressive reputation in the intelligence community.
He sat in his office, located on the tenth floor of the Transworld Consortium building.
The entire forty-three-floor structure was nothing more than an elaborate front for the
Secret Service, although the first eight floors of the building were actually used as a
working import/export firm that managed to turn a tidy profit for the government. Tipp
turned down the volume of the radio and Mariah Carey's voice diminished. He turned back
to the report he was reading about the wild and explosive events that had taken place that
morning aboard the now-destroyed Goliath. Other files were stacked on his desk; files that
he was rapidly coming to believe were all connected.
Most of the files were about the activities of a man who had been whispered about for
years, but no one could lay a hand on him. Indeed, no one knew what his nationality was or
could even produce a picture of the fellow.
Odin was a shadowy terrorist who had come to prominence in the last ten years or so. A
man of total mystery who worked in the darkness, through his agents, all of which had
been recruited from the ranks of the world's most dangerous mercenaries, adventurers and
rogues. Odin's organization, The Order of the Black Sun, was known primarily for the theft
of the latest in technological advances and devices. Odin's trademark was using the
extreme advances of the world's most innovative scientists to further his ends. What those
ends were was anybody's guess.
Gregory Tipp was working along with other agents from the United States, France,
Australia, Canada and Japan to track down Odin and his shadow organization, to no avail.
However, just this morning, one of Tipp's more reliable snitches had sent him word that
Cecil Henshaw had been the cause of that morning's Goliath fiasco.
And then there was the eyewitness account of a man who had jumped off Goliath as it
exploded. Was he a member of Henshaw's gang who had tried to double-cross his boss? Or
was this a new player who had gotten caught in between?
Tipp wished to God he had gone on vacation like he was supposed to. Two weeks in
Trinidad sounded a damn sight better than sitting in a drafty office under fluorescent lights
that made his eyes ache, trying to make his tired brain work when it quite clearly didn't
want to. What his brain wanted was to swim in an ocean filled with Bahama Mommas.
His special line rang. It was a secure direct line that was used by his network of informants
and undercover field agents. He answered it. "Tipp."
"Hiya. This is Malden."
"Good to hear from you. Have you learned anything more about exactly what Henshaw's
connection was to that disaster this morning?"
"Word on the street is hard to come by. Everybody's even tighter-lipped than usual. But an
interesting name has been bandied about. Ever hear of Dillon?"
"Well, he's here in England. May even still be in London."
"Are you serious?"
"As a bloody heart attack. Near as I could find out, he was first seen four days ago. Given
his rep, I don't think it's such a wild guess that he had something to do with that set-to this
"Not at all. Thanks, Malden. Watch yourself out there and get in touch with me the minute
you learn anything else."
Tipp hung up the phone. Dillon. Well, that bit of intelligence was making things a bit
clearer. One could usually tell where Dillon had been by following the trail of outrageous
destruction the outlaw seemed to leave in his path wherever he went. Tipp consulted his
computer for a few minutes and then picked up the secure phone again.
"I want all field agents to be on the alert for a man I want found and picked up if possible.
His name is Dillon. That's the only name I have on file for him. His aliases are too
numerous to name now. They'll be on a more detailed alert sheet. He's black, between 30
and 40 years of age. Weight around 240 pounds. Height is six feet, four inches. His eyes
are his most identifiable feature. They're a copper color, described in my file as being the
color of freshly minted American pennies. He's to be considered extremely dangerous but
he's also been known to have co-operated with law enforcement agencies in the past. When
he's spotted, I want him brought to me straightaway. And the agents who spot him are to
identify themselves to him. I don't want anybody getting shot and killed because of a
Kris Quinlan opened the door and Dillon stepped into the foyer of Lady Thelma's estate.
"Good evening, Mr. Dillon. I'm Kristin Quinlan, Lady Thelma's personal assistant.
Dillon looked around at the foyer. It was larger than some homes he'd been in, with its
chandeliers and huge works of art decorating the walls and the painted ceiling, depicting
the history of Lady Thelma's family.
"Please, come with me into the visitor's lounge where you can be more comfortable while
waiting for Lady Thelma."
Dillon followed her down a wide, mirrored corridor to the visitor's lounge, which came
equipped with a bar, comfortable low couches and high-backed leather chairs. Sliding
doors looked out onto a lovely garden that ran riot with multicolored flowers that looked as
if they were tended to 24/7.
"May I fix you a drink?" Kris asked.
"Please. Demarara rum with a twist of lime...easy on the ice."
While she fixed his drink, Kris sized him up. He certainly looked fit enough to take on
armed bands of mercenaries. "You know, I was quite flabbergasted when you called and
said you were coming to see Lady Thelma."
"Really?" Dillon was wandering around the room, seemingly just looking at the paintings
on the walls, admiring the expensive knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. Actually he was
scanning for surveillance devices. He sneaked a look every now and then at his watch. If
the normally black face turned orange, that meant he was within ten feet of a bug. So far, in
the short time he'd occupied the room, the watch face had turned orange four times. "Why
"I was pretty well convinced you'd perished in that explosion. Lady Thelma was...more
optimistic." Kris came from behind the bar to hand Dillon his drink. He watched her as she
walked toward him, admiring the spring in her step.
"I'm not sure how to say this without sounding like I'm bragging, but my reputation is
based on my surviving things of that nature. Do you think I could see Lady Thelma now?"
"She'll be here shortly. You've made her quite nervous, you know."
"And what exactly does she have to be nervous about? She didn't have a gang of
hired killers trying to kill her before breakfast."
"You seem upset." Kris said, cocking her head to the side in a manner that made her very
desirable. Dillon kept his mind on his business. A difficult thing to do when standing just a
few feet from such a lovely package, but after all, he did pride himself on being a
"Miss Quinlan, there are risks in my chosen profession that I accept. However, I
dislike the fact that there were vital facts that were withheld from me. Facts that might
have resulted in my premature demise if it wasn't for the fact that I can run like a
roadrunner on crack."
"So you think Lady Thelma is obligated to tell you the true nature of the object you
"I don't." Those stony words came from the raspy throat of Lady Thelma, who entered the
room wearing a simple yet elegant pale green pantsuit. The mountainous Frederick Whalen
was close at her back. Dillon had heard stories about him, sure, but that was quite different
from seeing the fellow in person. Dillon tipped his head back and looked up at the smiling
giant. Lady Thelma was amused despite her initial anger.
"Impressive, isn't he?"
"And then some. What do you feed him? Fishing villages?"
"If you don't drop that cocky attitude, you'll quickly find out. Now give me my ring. Now."
"Not so fast. I'd like the answer to a few questions first."
Whalen answered, his voice rumbled from the deep recesses of that cave he called a chest.
"You agreed to perform a job for Lady Thelma, Dillon. I suggest you hand over her
property so that we can conclude this business and you can leave."
"I didn't bring it with me." Dillon sipped his drink calmly, looking up into Whalen's angry
eyes. Dillon was wondering if he could use his glass to blind the giant if Whalen decided to
yank Dillon apart like a chicken wing. He turned his head to look at Lady Thelma while
still managing to keep Whalen in his line of sight. "Look, Lady Thelma, I think you're into
something that's way over your aristocratic head. I know your rep and know how tough
you're supposed to be, but in this arena, there are players who will rip out your liver and eat
it right in front of you just for grins. Don't you think that having me on your side will help
us all out in the long run?"
Lady Thelma grinned, displaying a truly alarming set of bright teeth and blood-red gums.
"But I already have plenty of help on my side. Come on in, Frayne."
Alistair Frayne came in from a side door, moving like a lean and cruel panther. His leather
duster flapped around his legs and his shoulder length platinum hair shone in the bright
sunlight streaming into the room. He was as handsome as a fallen angel and a thirst for
violence was in his eyes.
The four men with him carried AK-47's and silently surrounded Dillon, their weapons
aimed at him. Frayne smiled and tied his hair into a ponytail as he said, "I suggest you get
real smart real fast and do as you're told. Give over the ring."
Dillon shrugged, finished his drink and very slowly and carefully put the glass down. He
reached into a pocket, pulled out a dark gray globe the size of a tennis ball and gripped it in
both hands, giving the top half a twist. The room was filled with a high-pitched whine and
a red light on top of the ball began blinking.
The blood drained from Frayne's wolfish face. "Are you mad?" Dillon just smiled widely.
"What is it?" Lady Thelma demanded. "Is it a grenade?"
Whalen answered her. "It's a Belinski explosive device. It's powerful enough to destroy this
entire room and us with it."
"Good boy, Jumbo," Dillon confirmed. "You will note that I've got it set to go off three
seconds after I take my finger off the safety. Which means that it would not be a smart
move to shoot me. Agreed?"
Frayne licked his lips and nodded.
Dillon's copper eyes were unemotional but his voice was pure sugar as he said softly,
"Now, shall we try diplomacy?"
Frayne sprang upon Kris Quinlan with the easy speed of a large jungle predator, pressing a
gun to her neck. Kris squawked and briefly struggled, so Frayne shook her until her
"Shut it off, Dillon. I mean it. Shut that thing down now."
Dillon was examining Frayne's large handgun with the practiced eye of a professional.
"Impressive. A 650 AutoMag Steranko Series BoneSplitter with laser-guided computer
enhanced targeting, am I right? Pretty fly for a white guy." Whalen growled and took a step
forward. Frayne's men still had their guns aimed at Dillon, but now seemed unsure as to
what was going to happen next.
Kris's breathing was loud and ragged in the suddenly quiet room.
Frayne's voice was frosty as he snarled. "I'm not playing Mexican standoff with you,
Dillon. Shut that thing off and let's negotiate this."
"I'm not negotiating a damn thing with you, Frayne. Let the girl go and the both of us will
take a nice walk. You can chase after us at your leisure."
Lady Thelma hissed at Frayne, "What are you waiting for? Shoot him! Shoot the girl!
Dillon cocked an eye at Whalen. "You look like you've got the most brains in this room,
Gigantor...next to me that is. I'm willing to bet you did your homework and checked me
out real good."
"Your research uncover any time I ran a bluff on somebody?"
Whalen's shoulders tensed and bunched visibly as he took a step back. "In fact, it said that
the one sure thing about you is that you never bluff." Whalen looked at Lady Thelma and
Frayne. "Pointless to force the issue now. I'd allow him to walk. With the girl, if he insists."
Frayne released the girl. The huge handgun disappeared under his coat like it had never
existed. "Okay, tough guy. You win this round. But this isn't over by a long shot. You'll
never get out of England alive. I'll see you dead before another day is done."
"Maybe so, but you can believe this: I'm going to make sure I die last. Miss
Quinlan, step over here, and do so quickly."
A dazed Kris stumbled over to where Dillon stood. Keeping his eyes on his opponents,
holding the explosive device in one hand, Dillon managed to guide the girl toward the front
door. Kris hissed into Dillon's ear, "We can't leave Lady Thelma with that maniac!"
"Why not? She hired that maniac. Maybe you'd rather I left you with him?" Kris shut her
mouth and kept heading for the door. Shortly they were outside
and piled into Dillon's borrowed car, roaring away from the house.
Frayne watched the car as it sped off in a cloud of gravel and dust and sighed. "I was
hoping to wrap this up quickly and head to Switzerland for a few days. Blast and damn."
Frayne waved a long hand at his men, who gathered round to hear his orders. "Isaac, start
making calls. I want our people on the streets covering everything. I want Dillon found
before nightfall. The rest of you, get the vans and bring them round to the front. Looks like
our boy's going to make a fox hunt of this business."
Lady Thelma rasped harshly. "I certainly hope you've got a plan in mind to recover my
"Of course I do. The plan is ridiculously simple: hunt Dillon down, yank him apart until he
gives over the ring, then flush his remains down the nearest toilet. How about lending me
the Whale for a few hours?"
"You can have his services so long as I go along!" Lady Thelma yapped. "I cannot be
unprotected for a minute while that man is alive!"
Frayne shrugged and strolled away, his words drifting sardonically over his shoulder.
"Bring along your bloody hairdresser and astrologist, why don't you? Make a friggin'
holiday out of this."
Lavimore Watson moodily sipped his Diet Pepsi, wondering just what the hell had
happened to Dillon and why he was taking so long doing whatever it was he was doing.
Dillon was unpredictable at best and Lavimore knew from past experience that Dillon just
jumped headfirst into a situation and worried about how to get out later. It was a trait that
would end up getting him killed someday. Lavimore would have preferred if Dillon got
himself killed in some other country.
His cell phone rang. He flipped it open. "Watson here."
"Don't you sound stressed. What are you doing, waiting by the phone for me to call?"
"I'm also drinking this nasty tasting diet soda instead of good Kentucky bourbon because I
didn't want to get stinking drunk worrying about you. What the hell's going on? Where are
"Getting out of town in a goddamn hurry. I need you to do a few things for me."
Lavimore reached for a pen and pad. "Go."
"I'm going to hold on to your car for awhile. I need it to drive down to Pymberty. You
know where that is, right?"
"About a seven hour drive south of London. I've been there." "How soon can you have my
gear packed up and sent there?"
"I know a guy with a chopper. I'll get hold of him and have your things waiting at the
"That's what I'm talking about. I also want you to call the station and book a sleeping coach
for Mr. and Mrs. A. Gordon."
"It's a long story."
"Never mind. I'm probably better off not knowing. Anything else?"
"Just get busy with what I gave you and stay by the phone. I'll be in touch."
The train station at Pymberty had been completely rebuilt twenty months ago to
accommodate the magnetic repulsion system most of Europe was converting to these days.
The city planners had figured that as long as the system had to be upgraded, why not
rebuild the entire station. And while the rest of Pymberty remained a quaint English city of
some seven hundred thousand with architec- ture dating back to the 11th Century in some
districts, Pymberty Station was a totally modern, 21st century transportation center.
Upon their arrival at the station, Dillon had immediately used one of the many
voice-activated Internet access kiosks and transferred a sizable amount of funds from one
of the dozens of international bank accounts he maintained. He then used a GlobalBank
card to withdraw money. He'd then taken Kris to a women's clothing shop and bought her
several changes of clothing, toiletries and two ruggedly sturdy suitcases to put the
purchases in. Kris was dazzled at the speed by which Dillon was organizing this
While waiting in line to pick up their tickets, Kris asked, "Exactly what is it you intend on
doing with me?"
"That's a loaded question, Miss Quinlan. What is it you would like me to do with you?"
Kris gave him her coldest stare and saw with some dismay that it had no effect on him at
all. He was grinning like a schoolboy cutting math class. "I suppose that a man in your line
of work is used to meeting the class of women who would be flattered and amused by that
crude and uncouth manner of talk. I assure you that I am not! I am a woman of class and
"And your only bad quality is you work for psychotics. But you're right...you didn't deserve
a crack like that. I apologize. And to answer your question; you can go anywhere you want.
You're not my prisoner. I did what I had to do because Frayne was pointing a gun at your
head and he would have put your lights out if I hadn't gotten you out of there. Now, if you
want to go back to Lady Thelma and her boyfriend," Dillon shrugged broad shoulders,
"well, that's on you. I only perform so many rescues in a day."
Dillon showed a passport in the name of Artemus Gordon and received their tickets. Dillon
whistled for the attention of a porter to help with the luggage and turned to Kris. "Keep
walking. I'm going to slip away for a minute."
"Two gentlemen over there by the newsstand are very interested in getting a good look at
me. One of them is going to the ticket window now."
Kris was flabbergasted. Dillon was looking straight ahead but he was accurately describing
events happening behind him as if he had eyes in back of his head. Kris turned to look at
the ticket window and then turned back to Dillon.
But he was gone.
Gregory Tipp didn't like it when a mystery refused to be solved. He'd issued orders for
Dillon's apprehension some time ago and nothing had come of it so far except for a few
vague and random sightings here and there.
His private line rang and he snatched up the phone. "Tipp here."
The voice was totally unfamiliar to Tipp and as per procedure; he pressed a button that
started an immediate trace. He'd know where the call was coming from in eighty seconds
"Who is this?"
"No fair. I asked you first. Why have you got men looking for me?" A sudden realization
hit Tipp. "Dillon?"
"X gets the square. Now, you want to answer my question or do I start breaking bones on
your two boys?"
"My name is Gregory Tipp and I'm with the Secret Service. I'll take it right harshly if my
men are hurt."
"Oops. My bad. I wouldn't have roughed them up if I'd known they were good guys. What
are you doing chasing me, Tipp?"
"Your name has come up in conjunction with that ship that was stolen and destroyed this
morning. There's something going on and I want you to come in and tell me exactly what's
going on. I know you've cooperated with law enforcement agencies in the past, so I'm
willing to give you the benefit of the doubt in this instance, but I must insist that you
surrender yourself to my agents at once."
"Your agents here need to be surrendering themselves to the ministrations of a doctor.
Since it's my fault, I'll call the local hospital and make sure they get medical attention. And
I really don't have the time to answer questions about anything. I'm kinda trying to make a
run for it before I'm tracked down and killed."
"Don't dare play games with me, Dillon! I want to know what's going on!" "Ask Lady
Thelma Sharpe. But watch yourself. That hussy's got a tongue like a ginsu." The
connection was broken and Tipp was left listening to a dial tone.
The sleeping car was downright luxurious. First class all the way. The various functions
were voice activated and the partition that separated the car could be rendered clear as air
or jet black as anthracite with the slightest touch on the control pad. The porter showed
Kris how to use the voice controls and the control pad. He was just finishing up when
Dillon entered the car. The porter asked if Dillon wanted similar instructions and Dillon
shook his head in a negative, pressing some bills in the man's hand.
Once the porter left, Dillon darkened the car's windows from the outside so that no one
could see in, but he could still see out. Kris flopped on a plush recliner and pushed
backwards, raising her aching feet up, kicking off her heels.
"I have to give it to you. You do know how to go first class. What happened to those two
"Contusions, bruises, abrasions, maybe a sprain or two and finally, unconsciousness,"
Dillon said absently as he opened the bags that had been waiting for him at the station, as
Lavimore had promised. The larger duffle bag held his 'working clothes': tough black
jeans, well-worn leather boots with thick Vibram soles, his battered, weathered bronze
leather jacket, and a Sam Browne belt with snap shut pouches. Dillon tossed the clothes to
the side and unrolled the other cylindrical bag. A frightening variety of lethal weapons and
devices were all snugly fitted into holsters and pockets along its length. Pistols, shotguns,
grenades, climbing robes, spare ammo clips and a computer no thicker than a comic book.
Daggers, throwing stars, short swords, and two or three crossbows of various sizes. Dillon
slipped the thermal device out of his pocket and placed it in the appropriate pouch.
"But who were they?" Kris insisted.
"British Secret Service," Dillon said, rolling the bag back up into its original shape and
securing it with thin but durable leather straps.
"If you don't wish to tell me, then say so. But don't go on making up ridicu- lous lies just to
How in the HELL did this guppy survive so long with an old barracuda like Thelma
Sharpe? Dillon wondered. "Look, I'm going to go grab something to eat. I imagine you'd
like something as well."
Kris nodded. "I most certainly would. I hadn't planned on being kidnapped, you
Dillon let his head drop in mock astonishment. "Are we back on that again? You
haven't gotten it yet that Lady Thelma would have let Frayne blow your head clean off
without a second thought?"
"Lady Thelma was quite upset at the time. And why shouldn't she be? You refused to
return her rightful property! Property you were hired to return I might add!"
"And she could have had it back if she'd answered my questions and hadn't tried to
pull that strong-arm stuff on me. And incidentally, you haven't been kidnapped. You can
go anytime you like. Now, I'm going to get something to eat. Is there anything special
"Broiled chicken breast smothered in onions, sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella and Swiss
cheese, please. With coffee and iced tea."
Dillon eyed her warily. "Let me guess: you've been dreaming about having that all day,
"It's something I order quite frequently since it takes very little time to prepare and just
about anyone can make it."
Dillon sighed and left the compartment, closing the door firmly behind him and locking it.
He'd left his cell phone in plain sight where Kris would have to be blinder than Ray
Charles not to have seen it. Dillon fully expected her to use it to call Lady Thelma and that
was just fine with him. He'd go have a drink while he ordered their food and that would
give the two ladies time to have a nice long chat, which would then be recorded on his cell
Dillon ambled in search of a stiff drink, whistling the theme from '1941' as he did so.
As soon as she heard the door lock, Kris pounced on the small silver cell phone she'd seen
Dillon place on the bed behind his bags.
Not so smart, are you! she thought triumphantly as she flipped the phone open and
tapped in the number to Lady Thelma's cell phone. Dillon had no doubt thought she was
just oh, so taken with his charm and easy, engaging grin and hadn't seen him slip the phone
behind his bags. But Kris had been watching him carefully, looking for an opportunity to
get her hands on his phone and call her employer.
Lady Thelma's shrill voice made the small phone shiver. "Who is this? What do you
want? I'm busy!"
"Lady Thelma! It's me! Kris!"
"Kris...? Kris! Where in the hell are you? Where's my ring? Where's Dillon?"
"We're at Pymberty Station. Dillon drove down here and got us a sleeping car
on the 11:53 Skylark Limited to Paris. Lady Thelma, you really wouldn't have let
Frayne shoot me, would you? I mean...you were just playacting to get Dillon to give over
the ring...weren't you?"
"Shut up and listen to me and try to get things straight! First things first:
where is Dillon?"
"He left the car to go get us something to eat. I'd say I've got about a half hour before he
gets back. Lady Thelma, he's says the Secret Service is chasing him...do you know
anything about that?"
"Will you shut up your nitwit blathering and listen!" Lady Thelma screeched. "Where
is the ring? Have you seen it?"
"No, I haven't seen your bloody ring! Haven't you been in the least concerned that I've
been kidnapped by a dangerous lunatic?"
"You're at Pymberty Station? You're sure of that?" Lady Thelma demanded as if she hadn't
heard a blessed word Kris had uttered.
"How many times must I say it? What is the matter with you, Lady Thelma?" "You've got
to find that ring! How could you be with him this long and not
know if he has it or not? Have you made some kind of a deal with him?"
"Lady Thelma, I'm beginning to think that this whole debacle has seriously impaired your
thinking. I. Have. Been. Kidnapped. Don't you think you should try and help me?"
Lady Thelma's voice dropped to a low cooing. "Of course, dear girl...of course I'll
help. But you must be careful that the information you're giving me is completely accurate.
You did say Pymberty Station...the Skylark Limited to Paris, correct?"
"Yes, yes, yes!"
"Stay with Dillon. No matter what happens, you stay with him!"
It was too late. Lady Thelma had broken the connection.
Frayne looked up from his copy of the latest Maxim as Lady Thelma slammed her
cell phone down on the seat next to her and released a torrent of toxic vulgarities and
obscenities that was astounding in variety and imaginative imagery. Frayne nodded in
grudging admiration. He'd known some men who could utter some pretty outrageous
profanity, but he had to admit, Lady Thelma Sharpe was probably the uncrowned queen of
"Was that your pretty assistant?"
"All the silly bitch cares about is her pampered, perfumed ass! You'd think she'd have her
mind on business and find out what that bastard has done with my ring but all she thinks
about is herself! She had the audacity to suggest that I don't have my priorities straight!"
"You? Unbelievable. You're the very soul of stability." Frayne arranged his legs more
comfortably. They were sitting in the spacious passenger compartment of his Mercedes
limousine. Whalen was riding up front with the driver while the rest of Frayne's men
followed the limo in an armored black van that contained enough weaponry to make a
Special Forces unit salivate with envy. "So where can we find our good friend Dillon?"
"He's on a train at Pymberty Station. It's going to be leaving for Paris at 11:53."
Frayne pulled back a sleeve to look at his Rolex. "Blast and damn."
"We can't get to Paris in time to meet the train?"
Frayne looked at Lady Thelma as if she'd just dug a fresh booger out of her nose. "Dillon's
not fool enough to ride the train all the way to Paris. He'll slip off shortly after dark and
make his way to wherever he's really going. But in the meantime, he'll use the respite he's
gained to eat and grab a few hours of decent sleep. No, we've got to head that train off by
nightfall." Frayne thumbed a button on an armrest and a voice came from a hidden speaker.
"Yes, Mr. Frayne?"
"Colin, turn this thing around and call Zachary at our airfield. Tell him to get the helicopter
ready. We've got a train to catch."
"Did you have enough to eat?" Dillon asked, placing his knife and fork aside carefully and
wiping his mouth with a silk napkin.
"Indeed I did. Thank you." Kris sipped her tall glass of iced tea and reflected on how much
better she could think once she had a full stomach. The food had been quite excellent and
Dillon had even sprung for a bottle of Nospinal. He popped the cork and poured them both
glassfuls. "You'll understand if I don't care to share a toast with you, given the unusual
circumstances by which we have been thrown together."
Dillon shrugged. He had retrieved his incredibly thin computer from his bag and had
opened it, placing it on a small worktable that folded out from the nearest wall. Kris
watched with great interest as he powered it up. The thing came on in a nanosecond. Dillon
pressed his thumb to the screen and the computer went to work, establishing a secure
Internet connection through its built in satellite uplink system. While he waited, he pulled
out a sterling silver cigar case from his inside jacket pocket. He thumbed a stud on the side
and out popped a Canonero Double Corona.
"May I have one?" Kris asked. Dillon looked at her suspiciously. "Have you never seen a
woman smoke a cigar?"
"Sure I have. Plenty. It's just that you don't exactly strike me as the stogie puffin' type."
"It's a habit I got from my mother. She was Brazilian and she smoked cigars all the time."
"You're from Brazil, then?"
"No, I was born in Cristobal. It's a country located in South America. My mother married a
British diplomatic attaché who was assigned to the British Embassy there. But due to his
work we traveled..."
Dillon passed over a cigar and lit it for Kris. "I've been to Cristobal. Lovely country. The
food there is wonderful." Soon the both of them had the car filled with cigar smoke. Dillon
pressed a button and the air filtration system went to work, gently sucking the air out of the
car. He bent over his computer, typing furiously. "I was there last about nine years ago.
One of the few times I could take a vacation without having somebody trying to shoot me
in the back."
Kris sat back, glass of champagne in one hand, cigar held in the other and thought that
under other circumstances, this would have all been rather nice. "May I ask what you're
Dillon looked up and removed the cigar from his mouth before answering. "There's a large
number of websites, messages boards and newsgroups that are used, maintained and run by
people in my profession. I'm checking them out to see what the latest word is about me."
"Truly. They're used to pass along information, share business tips and ideas, gossip,
spread rumors, alert friends when the heat is on. I also need to check my email to see
if...ah...here's a bunch from Lavimore Watson."
"What does he say?"
"He suggests that I leave Europe and don't ever come back. Turns out that some people
have placed some sizable bounties on my head. Including the Order of the Black Sun,
who'll pay six million in any currency if I'm delivered to Odin alive. Now that's a name I
didn't expect to hear come up in conjunction with this mess. What's Lady Thelma's
connection to Odin?"
Kris puffed furiously on her cigar and stared up at the ceiling before answering in a very
definite and curt tone. "I will not betray the trust that Lady Thelma has placed in me."
"Lady Thelma will probably have Frayne cut your throat when she catches up to us."
Dillon had to say this last with a straight face. When he had returned to the car, he had
retrieved his cell phone and had gone into the bathroom to listen to the recorded call; and
he had to smother his laughter while doing so. Kris was putting up a good loyal employee
act, but if Dillon were any judge of character, he would have to say that Miss Quinlan and
Lady Thelma would soon be on the outs.
"Lady Thelma means me no harm. And she would not plan any violence against you if you
would only return her ring to her!"
"Oh, come on! Even you can't play this stupid forever! Do you really think I'm going to
believe that everybody is going through all this expense and blowing things up and
pointing guns at each other over a lousy gold ring that's probably not worth more than a
couple hundred bucks?"
"I'm not going to say anything more, so you can stop asking! If you're so bloody smart,
you'll find out soon enough what's going on!" Kris snapped back.
Dillon blew out smoke in Kris's direction. "You shouldn't be worried about me finding out
what's at the bottom of this deal, sweetheart, because I'm going to. And maybe sooner than
you think. No, you've got a more immediate concern."
Dillon's copper eyes narrowed slightly as he answered "Concern yourself with what action
I'm going to take in regards to you when I do find out what's going on."
Gregory Tipp heard the firm knocking on his office door from inside his broom closet of a
bathroom and shouted.
"Come in!" He finished his business, washed his hands, banging his elbows painfully as he
did so, and walked back into the office. "Ah, Alvin...good of you to come round so
Colonel Alvin Thompson handed Tipp a cardboard cup of piping hot coffee, a twin to the
one in his other hand. "If the great Greg Tipp says he has a problem and needs help, I know
it must be serious."
"Sit down, Alvin, please." Tipp indicated one of two armchairs in front of his desk. Instead
of sitting behind his desk, he took the chair next to Thompson. They weren't just
co-workers, but also friends, going all the way back to high school. They'd both served in
the military and were both recruited into the Secret Service. But Tipp had naturally
gravitated toward the more labyrinthine corridors of intelligence gathering while
Thompson had instead been assigned to the British Intelligence Tactical Elite, or B.I.T.E,
as the squad was more commonly known. They handled internal threats to England's
security and they were known throughout the European terrorist and criminal networks as
some bad fellows to fool around with indeed.
Thompson crossed his legs and sipped his coffee. "So what's all this about, Greg? What do
you need my lads and I to do for you?"
Tipp passed over a folder some five inches thick. "You ever heard of this chap?"
Thompson took the folder and looked at the name stamped on the front. "Dillon! Well, I
must say: if you're going to chase someone, why not the bloody Prince of Darkness
"Then you have heard of him?"
"In our business, who hasn't? It's been a while since he was in London, though. Not
that I'm complaining. He took out quite a few bastards the last time he blew through town."
"Well, he's back and he was involved in that business with the Goliath. According to
what I've been able to find out, he's on the run with a lot of nasty customers chasing him."
"How'd you find that out?"
"Cheeky son of a bitch knocked out two of my men and called me on their own cell phone.
I was sitting right here when he called. Said he was trying his best not to get killed."
Thompson chuckled and flicked through the thick folder. "Sounds like something he'd do.
He doesn't lack for nerve. So where was he calling from?"
"Pymberty. I've got his description out and we should be hearing something soon. I'm
betting he's on a train."
"And you want me and the lads to...?"
"You get Dillon for me. You get him and you sit on him and hold him for me."
When Dillon came awake, it wasn't with the groggy disorientation that most people wake
with. Thanks to his rigorous training, not to mention the advantage of having spent years
evading some of the world's most dangerous professional assassins and killers, he came
awake instantly alert and ready, totally aware of his surroundings.
He had fallen asleep dressed in his 'working clothes' and his hand slid under his pillow for
his Magnum as he sat upright, cocking the weapon and pointing it at the door. The car was
dark and silent, save for a nightlight burning in the bathroom. Kris was sleeping soundly,
snoring quite lustily, her softly shining hair the only thing visible as she had completely
covered herself with the blanket.
Dillon stood up, holstering his weapon quietly and trying to figure just what had woken
him up. Then he got it. The train had changed speed, slowing down considerably. He
looked at his watch. They weren't due to stop for another sixty minutes, which was when
he had planned to get off. It was quite possible that there was nothing to worry about, but
he hadn't lived this long by assuming anything. He went over to where Kris slept and shook
"Kris. Wake up."
"Wake up, I said." Dillon hauled her into an upright position. "This may be important."
Kris pushed her hair out of her face and gazed at Dillon, still half asleep. "What in the hell
is going on now?"
"I need you to wake up and put your shoes on. The train's slowed."
"So?" Kris snarled. She obviously hated being snatched out of a sound sleep.
"There's no scheduled stop for another sixty minutes. This could be trouble. I need you up
"Maybe there's some technical reason that the train is slowing. Did you think of that?"
"Just get up and get ready. If you're not by the time I get back and there is a problem,
I'm not waiting while you fix your pantyhose, got me?" Dillon didn't wait for her answer
and left their car to hunt up a conductor. He passed through the series of sleeping cars
toward the rear of the train. He looked out of the windows but the night was as black as the
bottom of a mineshaft at midnight. He wished he had thought to bring his night scope so
that he could have taken a look outside.
In the observation car, he found three conductors consulting their watches and talking
in low voices. One was muttering into his wrist walkie-talkie. Dillon joined them.
"Anything wrong, fellas? The train's going awfully slow all of a sudden." Normally, the
conductors would have just sent a passenger back to his car with well-used words of
reassurance, but this chap definitely didn't look like a fellow who was used to his questions
not being answered. One of the conductors replied; "Can't rightly say, sir. We're trying to
get hold of the engineer now to ask him why we've slowed. Usually he drops the speed
slightly when we go through the Hervis Tunnel, but—"
The conductor stopped as Dillon held up a gloved hand and his copper eyes looked to the
roof, his head cocked to the side as if listening for something.
Dillon's head snapped back to look at the conductor and the man was startled into silence.
Dillon's normally sparkling copper eyes had darkened to a hot, molten gold and his voice
held the pure steel of command. "Get on your radios and call the authorities for help! Tell
them that your train's being boarded and you need emergency vehicles and heavily armed
police out here right now!"
"Sir, have you been drinking—"
The conductor was cut off as the train lurched to a complete stop, throwing
everybody except Dillon to the floor. Dillon reached down and yanked the conductor he
had been speaking with to a standing position. "The damn train is being taken by armed
men! Get on the radio now!"
He whirled and ran back toward his car. The sounds he had heard faintly were booted
feet on top of the train. The sound of machine gun fire rang out. A woman screamed and he
could hear breaking glass from either end of the car. A Sikorsky helicopter swooped over
the train and powerful searchlights suddenly came on, illuminating not only the train, but
the immediate surrounding area as well.
Back in the sleeping coach, the door had been kicked in and Kris was gone. Dillon reached
under his bed, withdrew his weapons kit and slung it on his back, tightening the straps to
hold it securely as he went in search of her. The passengers were filling the passageways
now, bleary-eyed and furious, shouting questions, demanding answers from each other.
Dillon ignored them, shoving past as he made his way through the forward dining car.
Dillon pushed past more confused passengers. He could see past their heads to the
forward observation car, where two men were dragging Kris up a short flight of stairs, with
a third covering their rear.
"Dillon!" Kris screamed again.
"Ain't that just like a woman," Dillon muttered as he yanked free his Magnum.
"Everybody down! Police!"
Upon seeing the huge gleaming Magnum, the passageway was filled with more
screams as everybody hit the ground and Dillon charged forward, trying his best not to step
on anybody. "Scuse me, pardon me, sorry 'bout that, 'scuse me, 'scuse me, comin' through!
Make a hole there. Make a hole, dammit, or lose that head!"
The covering man cut loose with a short burst from his machine gun and bullets ripped
into the wall and roof of the passageway. Dillon threw himself onto something soft and his
Magnum boomed. The shooter fell back, pumping life-blood from his throat. He dropped
his weapon and his hands went up to his neck in a futile attempt to stop the geyser.
Dillon looked down into the surprised hazel eyes of the beautiful auburn haired woman he
had thrown himself on top of. She was wearing a blindingly red sheer silk nightgown and
not much else. "Sorry about that, miss."
"Couldn't be helped," the beauty gulped as Dillon got to his feet and resumed the pursuit.
Thankfully, the forward observation car was empty and Dillon leveled his gun. "Hold it
One of the men turned and swung his AK-47 around to fire while the other shoved Kris out
and down out of his way. Dillon pumped off two shots and the first man was knocked back
seven or eight feet by the sledgehammer impact of the heavy Magnum slugs. The second
man was frantically trying to pull the pin on a hand grenade. The train lurched again and
the grenade fell out of his hand, bouncing wildly. The mercenary looked in horror at the
pin in his hand.
Dillon sprinted across the distance separating him from the mercenary and elbowed him to
the side. He reached down and yanked Kris to her feet. "Hang on!" He fired a shot at the
nearest window and the glass disintegrated. He wrapped a powerful arm around Kris and
leapt out of the car, Kris's scream knifing into his ear. They fell, hit the ground and
tumbled down a steep incline as the grenade went off and the observation car was engulfed
in an orange explosion. Flaming pieces of metal and plastic arced through the air in their
The helicopter hovered over the burning observation car, the searchlight hunting for
them. Lady Thelma's voice boomed from the loudspeaker like a harpy's scream of rage.
"Get down there after them! I saw them jump out of the car! Get them!"
Dillon and Kris finally came to a stop. Both of them were covered in dirt and small
leaves. Dillon brushed small broken twigs out of Kris's hair. He looked up, saw they had
rolled some eighty feet away from the train down a sharp incline.
"You okay?" he asked Kris.
She nodded dumbly, amazed at still being alive. "C'mon!" He seized her by the wrist and
pulled her after him while he jammed his Magnum back in the holster. He fumbled in a
pocket of his weapons kit, found his night scope, placed it to an eye and stopped. He'd
almost run into a tree that was no more than four feet in front of him.
Sending up a prayer to every god he could think of, including a few he made up right on
the spot, he pulled Kris after him as he plunged into the stand of trees. Hopefully, the trees
would provide cover from the helicopter's searchlight.
The Sikorsky hovered overhead, the searchlight probing downward like the incandescent
finger of an angel trying to pick out sinners. Bullets ripped through the branches and Dillon
threw both himself and Kris to the wet, mossy ground as more bullets tore through the
trunks of the trees. Leaves and chips of wood rained down upon them.
"Enough of this shit," Dillon muttered and rolled over on his back. He pulled out his
Magnum, aimed right for the center of the light and snapped off shot after shot, one right
after the other until the clip was spent.
The light went out, the helicopter's engines coughing like the phlegm-filled lungs of a
twenty-year smoker, and the Sikorsky turned away. Dillon smelled oily smoke. He'd hit
something that was for sure. Whether it was something vital or not, he had no idea. It might
be minor damage that they could fix and get the chopper back into the air, but he had no
intention of staying around long enough for them to do so. And in any case, there'd be men
on the ground looking for them. And they'd have night scopes with infrared lenses, to be
He pulled Kris to a sitting position, reaching down to slip her high heeled pumps off her
small feet. He snapped off the heels, slipped them back on her feet and pulled her to a
standing position. "We're going to have a lot a walking ahead of us. And I mean a lot. You
keep up with me, you hear? And don't say a word! I've gotta be able to hear what's going
Kris could only nod dumbly. She was still in a state of shock at their narrow escape.
The pickup truck lumbered into the gas station with a rusty wheeze and clattered to a stop.
Dillon opened the passenger door and climbed out, offering his hand to Kris. The Pakistani
driver of the truck said something in his own language that made Dillon roar with laughter.
They exchanged a few more words in the driver's native tongue before Dillon pressed
money into the man's hand. He slammed the door shut and the truck grumbled on its way
down the road.
Kris looked in dismay at the gas station. Small enough to fit into a hip pocket, with two
lone pumps, it looked as if it were being held together by the ancient dirt and grease that
seemed to coat everything here. Kris looked down at herself. Two hundred dollar shoes, a
five hundred dollar dress, a three hundred dollar hair job, and all absolutely ruined in just
two days. She looked a total wreck and felt it. They had tramped through pitch black
woods most of the night until at last coming to a road where Dillon had flagged down a
ride and then they had spent four uncomfortable hours riding in a rusty truck that smelled
like a barnyard.
Kris fixed Dillon with a hot, hateful look. "I have had quite enough. I demand that we part
company as soon as possible."
Dillon yawned and stretched like a huge lynx. Joints and muscles popped and cracked,
making him sound like a huge rice krispy. "Fine. There's the road. Have a nice life."
"I wish to be taken to a place of safety first!"
"You want this; you want that; what are you so twisted about?" "You nearly got me killed
Dillon shrugged, reached around to scratch under his right armpit. "I admit; my plan didn't
work out the way I'd hoped."
"Do any of your plans go the way you hope!? In the two days I've known you, nothing
you've planned has gone right! It's a total mystery to me how you've managed to gain the
supposedly sterling reputation you enjoy!"
"I must be doing something right or we wouldn't be standing here having this delightful
conversation, now would we? And since you wanna play 'point the finger,' if you hadn't
called Lady Thelma and told her where we were, that train wouldn't have been attacked."
Dillon had dropped his bantering, joking tone and his voice was pure ice. "If anybody's
responsible for anything that happened back at that train, it's you."
Kris looked at Dillon silently for a minute, her large eyes guilty and nervous. "You know I
called her. How could you know that?"
"Do I have imbecile written on my face, or what? Who do you think you're dealing
with? Trust me when I say I know everything you said to Lady Thelma. I was beginning to
think you understood this situation we're in and maybe you were starting to trust me a little.
I'll be sure to know better from here on out."
Kris bit her lower lip, all the fight gone out of her. "I...I was confused and scared—"
"Save your sidewalk act for the innocents back at the train who were hurt and maybe even
"I said I was sorry! What else can I do?"
Dillon said nothing. He turned away and walked inside the gas station. A lean, mournful
looking youth sat on the counter, reading a Michael Moorcock paper- back. He barely gave
Dillon a glance as he walked over.
"'Morning, young man. You got any local maps?"
The youth jerked his peach-fuzzed chin at a spinner rack near the pay phone. Dillon walked
over and began looking for a local map of the area while taking out his cell phone. He
dialed Lavimore Watson's number. Kris had followed Dillon inside and she walked over to
the large wall cooler, looking for something cold to drink. The youth's eyes freely roved
over her as she looked for an iced tea. Even looking like a wreck, Kris was a helluva
On the seventh ring, Watson answered. "Hartin Restorations."
"It's me, Watson. What's going on?"
"What in God's name have you been doing?"
"Trying to stay alive, mostly. What the hell's wrong with you?"
"Dillon, I can't talk to you anymore after this. That train attack was all over the news. MI6
has put B.I.T.E. on your trail and they've been tearing up the town looking for you. I've just
gotten home after a four-hour grilling. They know we've got history and they made it clear
that they want you in the worst way."
"This doesn't sound good at all, bro." "Where are you?"
"I don't have the slightest idea. I had to put as much distance between the bad guys and me
as I could. I'm trying to figure out where I am right now, so I can get the hell outta this
country before somebody puts a bullet in my ass."
"The girl still with you?"
Dillon was watching Kris read the ingredients on two different brands of iced tea with the
intensity of a bomb squad trainee attempting a first time disarming of a nuclear device.
"Unfortunately, yes. Look, I need a pilot to fly me out of here and there's no way I can go
near my usual contacts. Do you know anybody?"
"I've got a guy I use for emergencies. He's got to come from Austria so he's going to charge
"I don't give a monkey's maybe what he charges. You set it up. Here's how we'll do it. You
get hold of him; tell him to fly to England. Be here as soon as he can. I'm going to call you
back in four hours and you tell me where he wants me to meet him. I'll make my way to
wherever he wants but he's got to fly me to Africa. I'll pay for everything, he doesn't have
to worry about that."
"He'll fly you to friggin' Oz if I say so, don't worry about that. You just take care,
man. B.I.T.E. is no joke. And ditch that damn girl! She's nothing but a magnet for trouble.
And make damn sure the next time you call me is the last time—"
Dillon cut off Watson and stowed the phone away in a jacket pocket. Considering that it
was Watson who had gotten him into this mess, Dillon couldn't understand what he was so
upset about. Hell, it wasn't as if he had hordes of bloodthirsty killers chasing him. He
unfolded the map as he walked over to the where the youth sat.
"What's the nearest town, young man?"
"Numby Dell. 'Bout three, four mile walk up the road."
Kris paid for her iced tea. "I don't suppose you'd have a car we could hire?" "Sorry, miss,
me old man's got the wheels t'day. Took th' day off on a per-
sonal holiday, y'know?" The boy waved his paperback to take in the gas station's dismal
interior. "That's why I'm stuck in here."
"That's okay, son," Dillon said. "It's a nice morning and we don't mind the walk."
As they left the gas station and began their hike, Kris handed Dillon a bottle of orange
juice. "Here's breakfast. Hope you appreciate it."
"Why, thank you, Kris." Dillon opened the bottle and drank half of it in one long gulp.
"That'll do until we reach Numby Dell. A nice three-mile hike in the morning is just the
thing to work up an appetite. By the time we get there, we'll be hungry as New York sewer
"I'm hungry now," Kris complained. "Whom were you talking to on your phone?"
"A friend in London. I've got to make plans to get out of Europe altogether. I've got
B.I.T.E. after me."
Kris's eyes opened wide. "Oh, dear...you do have a problem, don't you? Is there anybody
you don't have chasing you?"
Dillon gave her an unpleasant look. "Thanks a lot. If it wasn't for the fact that I feel some
sort of obligation to keep you from getting your cute little ass shot to pieces, I'd probably
be sitting on a beach in the Bahamas right now instead of running from British
Intelligence's best gunslingers."
From the gas station, the boy watched them walk down the road. It was obvious from their
gestures and body language that they were arguing, although the boy couldn't imagine that
he would have anything to argue about with a bird that looked that good. He pulled a cell
phone from his pocket and tapped in a number. When it was answered, he spoke rapidly,
giving an amazingly accurate description of both Dillon and Kris. He put the phone away
and returned to sitting on the counter and reading his book.
Numby Dell was a town filled with quaint shops, small, cozy houses and many narrow,
cobbled streets. Dillon expected Julie Andrews to come gaily tripping down the street
singing loud enough to make his ears bleed. He noticed that most of the cars seemed to be
of makes and models fourteen or fifteen years old. Not that there were all that many cars in
the first place. Most everybody seemed to get around on foot or on bicycles. He even saw a
couple of horse-drawn carts and carriages. The people seemed friendly enough, though.
Women smiled and men tipped their hats in greetings.
"I feel like I've stumbled into a G-rated movie," Kris said.
"I know just how you feel," Dillon answered. "Doesn't this burg have a
Wendy's or a Mickey D's? They call this civilization?"
"Are you always hungry?"
"I'm still a growing boy. I need my nutrition."
"It's a wonder you're not overweight."
"You'd be surprised at the amount of exercise I get," Dillon answered with a straight face.
They found an inn named The Broken Saber and entered the cool, dim interior. It was
a comfortable, old-fashioned establishment that smelled of cigar smoke, whiskey and old
wood. The conversation lulled as the strangers walked in. The regulars sitting at the bar,
looking as if they had been sitting on those same stools since the day Jesus rolled back the
rock, eyed the newcomers carefully as Dillon steered Kris to a booth in the back. He could
watch pretty much the entire room from there, and it wasn't far from the swinging doors
that led to the kitchen and a rear entrance...just in case they needed to leave in a hurry.
The barflies turned back to their drinks and conversation.
"I don't appreciate the way we're being stared at," Kris muttered.
Dillon's copper eyes sparkled with amusement as he yanked off his gloves. "I wouldn't take
it personally. They probably don't see many strangers, much less an interracial couple
dropping in for lunch. Lighten up. They don't mean any harm."
A broomstick thin waitress ambled over to the table to take their orders. Kris simply asked
for salad and a broiled steak with French fries. Dillon's order was a bit longer.
"Gimme a whole roast chicken, very greasy. Double order of mixed vegetables and melt
some cheese over 'em. Two grilled pork chops, make 'em well done. Keep the beer and
coffee coming every fifteen minutes until I say stop. And if you've got any honeydew
melons you're hiding in the back for yourself, cut one in half and bring that by as well."
The waitress cocked an eye at Dillon in approval. "Be me pleasure. Be right back wit' th'
coffee and a pitcher of beer."
Dillon cracked his knuckles and flexed his fingers. "You may have to go to the authorities
and tell them everything you know about Lady Thelma's illegal activ- ities. Have you
thought about that at all?"
Kris sighed and sat back, pushing her disheveled hair out of her eyes. "You don't
understand at all, do you? Lady Thelma's been good to me, despite what you may think
"How'd you get mixed up with her anyway?"
"Lady Thelma and my mother went to the same school in Switzerland. When my parents
died in a plane crash, there wasn't much of a reason for me to stay in Cristobal. My sister
had gotten married and moved to New York and I really didn't want to stay. Everywhere I
looked, I was reminded of my parents. Lady Thelma had come to the funeral and offered
her help so I decided to take her up on her offer. She said I could come work for her and
sent her private plane to fetch me. I've been with her ever since."
Dillon frowned. "So when did she lose her mind?"
Kris thrust an angry finger at Dillon. "I've had just about enough of your—" The door
of the inn was thrown open with a Wham! and six men dressed in matching black uniforms
with silver piping on the legs and arms marched inside. Muscular, hard-looking men with
no nonsense looks on their pale, emotionless faces. They marched right up to the booth
where Dillon and Kris sat and lined up in front of them, hands folded behind their backs,
all of them looking directly at Dillon.
Their leader then strode in. Clad in a pearl-gray military style costume with a sparkling
black sash across her chest and a great black cloak that billowed behind her like smoke.
The cloak was fastened at her left shoulder with a solid gold clasp fashioned into a sunburst
and a dazzling riot of medals and ribbons festooned her right breast. She wielded a swagger
stick and looked no older than eighteen, an Asian girl playing grown-up, with a torrent of
midnight black hair that cascaded around her thin shoulders. Large green eyes peered from
under the stingy brim of her cap.
The girl swaggered up to the booth and stopped, smiling at Dillon and Kris, who could
only look back at this apparition in amazement.
It was Dillon, of course, who found his tongue first. "I certainly hope somebody's paying
you to dress up like that, 'cause I'd sure as hell hate to think you're doing it 'cause you like
The Asian girl smiled and clicked her polished booted heels together smartly. "Good
afternoon to you, Mr. Dillon and Ms. Quinlan. On behalf of Dr. Aristotle Numby, I offer
the hospitality of Numby Castle for dinner, conversation, and good company."
"Who's your tailor, little girl?" Dillon asked.
The Asian girl flushed bright red as the barflies burst out laughing. She whirled to eye
them angrily and they all turned back to their drinks, falling silent.
"My name is Chew Mi. I am in charge of Dr. Numby's security force."
Dillon could barely contain his laughter. "You gotta be kidding me...Chew Mi? I'm going
to take a wild guess here...your parents didn't give you that name, did they?"
"In regards to Dr. Numby's generous offer...?"
"Well, you just run along back to your doctor friend and tell him that on behalf of
myself and my companion that we're truly honored he would take the time to extend such
gracious kindness to strangers visiting the area. However, we are pressed for time and must
be moving on right after our meal."
Chew Mi snapped red nailed fingers. One of her men stepped forward and lifted a
hand. He stripped off the black glove to reveal a metal hand that glittered silver-gray in the
light. The man flexed his metal fingers and they clicked like a locust in a box. The cyborg
fixed his eyes on Dillon, closed the hand into a fist, and smiled.
Dillon quickly took the hint. "But on further reflection, we're not in so much of a hurry that
we can't take a few minutes to pay our respects to Dr. Numby and maybe have a bite of
lunch with him. How about it, Kris?"
Dillon was smiling pleasantly enough and Kris forced herself to smile back and nod. It was
either that or start screaming and Kris had the definite feeling that if she started doing that,
she wouldn't be able to stop.
B.I.T.E. maintained an impressive array of vehicles that were indispensable in the work of
protecting British citizens and interests against various domestic and foreign threats, but
Colonel Alvin Thompson's favorite had to be the long, midnight black eleven-car train he
and his men were currently using. The train contained complete sleeping quarters for the
sixty members of B.I.T.E., a full kitchen and dining car, electronics and forensics
laboratories, a medical car that was as well-equipped as the emergency room of any major
metropolitan hospital, two weapons cars that were stuffed with a truly amazing and lethal
variety of destructive hardware, and a communications car that could put Thompson in
touch with any location in the world that he wished to speak with in a matter of three
Thompson stood near the still smoking ruin of the observation car that had been destroyed
by a grenade some hours before. The report of a passenger train being attacked by a
helicopter had sounded exactly like the sort of business Dillon would be involved in, and
Thompson had lost no time in getting out to the scene where he was greeted by hysteria,
disgruntled and babbling passengers, and out-and-out pandemonium. It had taken
Thompson nearly five hours to get everybody and everything sorted out, and his technical
boys had gone over the train at least twice from one end to the other. Thompson himself
had searched the sleeping car Dillon had slept in, finding nothing at all. But then again, he
hadn't really expected to.
It was the girl's place in all this that puzzled him. Exactly why was Dillon dragging her
around with him? Maybe he'd talked her into selling out Lady Thelma? Could she be
working for Dillon? Thompson tended to doubt that. Nothing in her background indicated
anything of that sort.
Lt. Hastings approached. One of Thompson's trusted aides; they'd worked together for
about seven years now. With his severe crew cut and square wire-framed glasses, coupled
with his long, serious face, he always reminded Thompson of a young Michael Caine.
"We've finished with the train, Colonel. There's nothing more we can learn here. As for the
passengers...quite frankly, sir, I'm tired of hearing their complaints."
"Have some compassion, Hastings. You're used to having your sleep interrupted by
bullets flying all round the place. Some of these people won't be able to have a good night's
sleep for months."
"Still and all, sir, you'd think that somebody would be able to give a reasonable
description of what happened here! We've got bodies, spent shells, the burned out husk of a
car that was blown up with what we're pretty sure was a grenade, but nobody can tell us
anything of any importance!"
"The only thing of importance that we need to know is that Dillon was here. I've got
accurate descriptions from a couple of the conductors and a young lady Dillon fell on."
"Beg pardon, sir?"
"Never mind. Now, where's that map of the area?"
Hastings passed over a mapboard, a computer about the size and shape of an ordinary
kitchen cutting board. The mapboard could display maps of just about anywhere in the
world with simple verbal instructions or by tapping the touch sensitive iconic display
panel. Thompson and Hastings walked back to the last car of the B.I.T.E. train,
Thompson's private command car.
"There's quite a few small towns and hamlets in the general area, I see," Thompson mused,
sitting down heavily in a high-backed swivel leather chair. "Dillon might have headed for
any one of them."
"You think that's just what he's done, sir?"
"If I had an untold number of hired guns after me, I'd find someplace I could eat, rest up
and get in touch with one of my mates to make arrangements to get me the hell out of the
country. Dillon's done just that, I'll warrant."
A phone on the desk rang and Thompson motioned for Hastings to answer it. Thompson
knew it was Gregory Tipp calling. The phone was a private line between them. Hastings
said little, did a lot of 'yes, sirs', and hung up.
"Mr. Tipp requests that you wait here for him, sir. He's flying out himself to join us. Said
he couldn't sit in the office while you were haring around the country having all the fun.
Said he wanted to be right there when we lay our hands on this chap."
Thompson nodded. "Round up the lads. I want them in civilian clothes and I want them to
start canvassing the towns in the area. We've got how many vans on the train?"
"I want you in charge of transporting our lads. Spread them out and let's see what they can
find out on foot."
"Aren't you going to do anything else besides stare at those old swords?" Kris asked sourly.
Dillon was standing with his hands folded behind his back, looking at the collection of
blades hanging on the wall. "These aren't just any old swords. What you're looking at here
are Montoya swords, handcrafted by Inigo Montoya, one of the greatest swordsmen who
ever lived. His father was a great sword maker and his son Inigo followed in his father's
art. I believe he lived in the early 16th Century..."
Dillon and Kris had been brought to Numby Manor, a spectacularly large and sprawling
castle that stood on a hill some fifteen miles outside of Numby Dell. Chew Mi and her
cyborg guards had not spoken during the drive to Numby Manor and upon arriving, Dillon
and Kris had been escorted through corridors as wide as the Lincoln Tunnel, adorned with
rich tapestries and priceless portraits some eight to ten feet high. Although the castle was
obviously centuries old, it had been retrofitted with modern touches, such as the
computerized locks on many of the doors. Chew Mi had ordered them to wait in this room,
which seemed to be some sort of guest reception chamber.
Dillon noticed men and women walking the corridors wearing simple, dark brown
jumpsuits with the Numby family crest on the shoulders. Many were carrying laptops or
smaller computer devices. Whatever this Doctor Aristotle Numby was into, it took a hell of
a lot of scientific staff and security.
"What will it take for you to realize the danger we're in?" Kris demanded.
"I know exactly how much danger we're in." Dillon was walking around the room,
examining the portraits, the Indian and Spanish vases resting on five-foot high pedestals of
smoky Carrera marble. "It's a source of great worry to me."
"You have a gun! You could have put up a fight back there in the tavern!"
"There were a lot of innocent people back there who don't have a blessed thing to do with
my problems. I could've gotten us out of there, sure. And more than likely, somebody who
didn't deserve it would have gotten killed."
"And this is better? We have no chance of getting out of here!"
Dillon turned sparkling copper eyes on her. "I don't know about you, but I always have a
The doors suddenly opened and Chew Mi swept in with two of the cyborg guards escorting
Dr. Aristotle Numby.
He was a well built man of average height with curly red hair and small, twinkling green
eyes that never stayed on one object or person for long, but constantly roved back and
forth, here and there, hither and thither. He grinned amiably at Dillon and walked over to
shake hands with him.
"Delighted to have you here, fellow! Simply delighted!" Numby's accent was odd. Dillon
was good at placing regional accents, but Numby's seemed to be a curious blend of
Scottish and Hungarian, of all things. "You can't imagine how happy I was when I learned
you were visiting Numby Dell. Really excellent stroke of luck all the way round!"
"For who, exactly?"
"Why for me, of course. Have you been treated well?"
"Is there anything I can do to make things more comfortable?"
"Two first class airplane tickets to the States would be nice."
Numby threw back his head and laughed, a trill, high laugh. "I've heard tell that you
possess a delightful sense of humor, my friend. I can see that it was not an untruth."
"So glad I can provide you with an amusing moment. Helps to break up the monotony of
both our days. Now how about those plane tickets?"
Numby's laughter subsided and he waved to a comfortable couch nearby. "Well, that's
something we need to talk about, my friend. Has Chew Mi offered you and your lovely
companion any refreshments?"
"No, she hasn't."
Numby fixed the diminutive Asian girl with a mock glare of reproach. "Chew Mi! You
mean you didn't offer Dillon and—Miss Quinlan, isn't it?—so much as a drink?"
Chew Mi shrugged carelessly, tapping her swagger stick against her knee.
"What can I offer you?" Numby asked.
"Whatever you're having," Dillon said. "I don't think we're in a position to be choosy."
"Indeed not...indeed not. Chew Mi, the champagne our cellar has to offer for our guests.
Please sit while I explain what is to happen."
"Dr. Numby, what say I give you the ring right now in exchange for letting us go?" Dillon
asked abruptly. Kris looked at him in surprise. Giving up the ring was the last thing she had
expected him to offer, considering all the trouble he'd gone through to hold onto it.
Numby shrugged. "What ring?" "Aren't you holding us for Odin?"
"I certainly am, but I know nothing about any ring, and I don't much care for jewelry."
"Odin has placed a bounty of considerable value on you, my friend. He wants you alive
and he's offering quite a bit of money to anybody who can deliver you to him."
Dillon waved a hand around in the air to take in the opulent room and the castle beyond. "It
doesn't look like you're hurting for money in any sort of way. I find it hard to believe that
six million would make that much of a difference to a man with your obvious wealth."
Chew Mi handed them tall crystal flutes of sparkling Waller champagne as Dr. Numby
crossed his legs and continued to speak. Kris sat next to Dillon, holding her glass in both
hands. It was the best way to keep them from visibly shaking.
"Now that's where you're wrong. You see, my area of scientific research is quite expensive.
I have a personal fortune, yes, which I keep separate from the funds I use to further my
"Genetic enhancements, sir! Surely you've noticed Chew Mi's security force?
Cyborgs, sir. Cyborgs that I provide to several organizations and government agencies in
return for a sizable price I pour directly into even more research involving genetic
enhancements. The ten million that Odin is offering for you is nothing to sneeze at."
"Ten? I thought it was six."
Numby winked at Dillon. "If the grapevine is to be believed, Odin is quite upset with you,
young man. You appear to have disrupted some private timetable of his. Accordingly, he
has...raised the ante, let us say."
"I seem to be making quite a lot of people mad at me these days." Dillon finished off his
champagne and stood up. "So what's going to happen now?"
"Well, I shall now turn you over to the gentle ministrations of Chew Mi who has an
excellent place where you shall be kept until Odin's representatives have arrived. And as
for Miss Quinlan...well, I'm certain I can think of things to keep her occupied."
Dillon was flanked by three of the cyborgs as the elevator dropped deeper into the earth
under the castle. Naturally, the bag with his weapons and survival gear had been taken
from him, and in addition, the cyborgs had searched him most carefully. Dillon had put up
token resistance to test their strength and quickly gave up the idea of trying to outfight
them. The cyborgs were easily able to outmatch him in sheer muscle, and he was willing to
bet they were pretty fast as well. No, getting out of this was going to take more than using
his mouth or his fists. And he had Kris to worry about. Better to let Chew Mi throw him in
whatever holding cell she had waiting for him. Dillon hadn't yet seen a prison or jail cell
that could hold him.
His mind raced, weighing options, running through various plans; discarding this one,
evaluating that one...
Chew Mi suddenly spoke, looking up at her captive in quiet, amused contempt. Dillon
easily towered head and shoulders over her, but it didn't seem to intimidate her one little
bit. "You know, Dillon, I thought you'd be tougher. You certainly haven't lived up to the
formidable reputation you enjoy."
"Stick around. I haven't gotten warmed up yet."
"You make light of all the dangerous situations you find yourself in?"
"No. I make light of the ridiculous situations I find myself in. Such as the present one
where I find myself being held captive by a little girl who likes to dress up like a bad guy
out of a G.I. Joe cartoon and the poorest excuse for a mad scientist I've seen in quite a
while. Just what is the deal with you two, anyway?"
"Dr. Numby is engaged in a quest to control the very building blocks of life itself. A
power like that can change the very course of human destiny."
"You even talk like a cartoon character. Amazing."
The elevator smoothly hissed to a stop and the doors whooshed open. Dillon was shoved
into a long corridor. He was seized by the arms and hustled into a circular metal room
whose lone unusual feature was a large, round metal hatch in the stone floor. Dillon was
held tightly by two of the cyborgs as the third unsealed the hatch and yanked it open with
The sound of rushing water was suddenly very loud in the metal room.
Chew Mi whacked her swagger stick against one highly polished boot and spoke loudly to
be heard over the water. "I understand you have something of a reputation as an escape
artist. I can't chance placing you in a conventional cell since you'd be out in no time,
causing havoc. But I think that what you will find in the Fishbowl will keep you
sufficiently occupied so that you won't have time to make mischief for me or Dr. Numby."
Dillon looked down into the open hatch and saw only intergalactic blackness. "You're
going to put me down there?"
Chew Mi nodded once with satisfaction. "Pitch him in, boys."
The cyborgs lifted Dillon bodily and tossed him head first through the open hatch. Chew
Mi bent over, a gloved hand cupped behind an ear, listening. Fifteen seconds went by.
She heard the splash and grinned widely. "Close the hatch."
Kris Quinlan had planned exactly what she was going to say. She would simply explain to
Dr. Numby that she was most definitely not a part of Dillon's insanity. In fact, she was the
victim, if anything. She was sure that being the proper English gentleman that he was, Dr.
Numby would act accordingly, see that she was blameless, and allow her to go on her way
once she told him the truth of her being in Dillon's company.
Inside Dr. Numby's comfortable den, she felt reassured by the roaring fireplace which was
large enough to roast an entire ox with room left over for a pair of sheep and a couple of
chickens, the life-sized portraits of the Numby ancestors, and the ornate decorations in the
wall sconces. Numby seemed to have a thing for collecting relics, she noticed, since every
room she'd been in so far had boasted rare and valuable knick-knacks from nearly every
country in the world.
She'd been taken to a restroom as large as her entire suite of rooms back at Lady Thelma's
estate and allowed to freshen up before being brought to Dr. Numby's den to await his
pleasure. Kris turned as the door opened and Dr. Numby entered, taking off a white lab
coat and throwing it carelessly over the back of a chair.
"I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting, my dear, but I have half a dozen critical
experiments all going at the same time and I must be kept abreast of their progress. But
that's enough of me." Numby motioned for her to sit down. "You've had quite the ordeal,
my dear. Kidnapped by a lunatic. Dragged halfway across England. Shot at repeatedly.
Quite an adventure, I should say."
"Hardly an adventure, Dr. Numby. More of a nightmare, I assure you. I hope you'll allow
me my chance to explain to you exactly how I became involved in this affair against my
"Oh, dear lady, I'm convinced of your innocence! Dillon is nefarious for his criminal
activities in many parts of the world. I'm sure that after some meaningful dialog on your
part we can sort this entire nasty affair out."
Kris felt her spirits rise when Numby first spoke, but that last part had a somewhat
ominous hint of darkness behind it. Kris smiled nervously. "Why, whatever do you mean
by that, Dr. Numby?"
"While it is true that Dillon's only value to me is the fact that Odin is willing to pay ten
million in gold for him, my natural scientific curiosity cannot help but wonder what it is
that Dillon has that would allow Odin to place such a high value on him."
Numby smiled amiably, like a favored uncle about to allow his niece to stay up past her
bedtime. "Perhaps it might even be something that I could use to increase the price Odin is
willing to pay? After all, if he's raised it from six million to ten, might he not raise it
further? Maybe from ten to twenty? Maybe even thirty?"
"Dr. Numby, Dillon is in possession of a ring that Odin wants desperately. That's all I
know. I swear."
Numby's smile faded a bit as his eyes narrowed, and became chilly. "Do you expect me to
believe that? Dillon blathered on about some ring earlier, as I recall. Why should I believe
such an obvious and transparent lie; a fabrication meant to divert my attention from
Dillon's true worth to Odin?"
"Dr. Numby, if I could make up something more plausible that you would believe, I would
do so happily. But I can't. I'm too afraid to lie. Odin wants a ring that Dillon stole from a
ship two days ago...you heard of the ship that blew up back in—"
"Enough." Numby waved a hand in dismissive impatience. "I am an extremely busy
man and don't have time for these games. Odin's representative will be here shortly and
Dillon must be alive and well in order for me to collect the bounty. However, there is no
bounty for you and therefore I feel no constraint whatsoever to keep you alive and well."
Kris suddenly found herself unable to control her shaking as the full impact of Dr.
Numby's words struck her fear-choked brain.
"I am very much afraid that unless you tell me what this is all about...very unpleasant
things indeed are about to happen to you, young lady."
When Dillon hit the icy water, the shock was so brutal that his muscles spasmed and
cramped painfully. His lungs felt as if they had turned into sacks of mud and he fought the
impulse to open his mouth to breath. Despite his body's demand for air, he managed to
keep control, and his long arms and legs kicked him toward the surface. He quickly
thrashed about, forcing his body to move. He stroked to the surface, gasping as he drew in
deep gulps of air. He wiped water out of his eyes and took in just where he was.
The domed ceiling was studded with powerful halogen lights that lit up the interior of the
Fishbowl like high noon in the desert. The entire chamber was huge, easily a half mile in
diameter, and half filled with water. The only land in sight was a sickle-shaped hump of
rock that was smack dab in the middle of the water-filled lower half of the Fishbowl.
Something brushed by Dillon's foot and he jerked in surprise. Obviously he wasn't the only
thing alive here in the Fishbowl. He took in a deep breath and stuck his head under the
water; curious as to what kind of fish Dr. Numby kept in such a place.
And he saw. And then Dillon swam for the rock, fast enough to set a speed swimming
record for the thousand yards he covered, his arms a blur, his legs kicking the water into
froth. He stumbled onto the narrow beach, hardly able to believe what he had seen
underwater...a goldfish the size of a New York City subway car.
Dillon heard a whirring noise, as if a giant locust was approaching. He turned and watched
as a metal globe maybe a little larger than the average human skull floated over to his
position, some ten feet above his head. The globe was studded with lenses and sensors. A
voice came from a speaker; a voice Dillon was beginning to dislike immensely.
"Please don't feed the fish," Chew Mi's voice said with a giggle. "How do you like the
Fishbowl so far?"
"You mean to say that Numby wants Odin's ten million dollar reward just so he can grow
"Oh, the Fishbowl is the result of Dr. Numby's contract with certain pharmaceutical
companies looking for a growth hormone. If I were you, I'd stay on the island until I send
somebody for you. There are other species in the water that Dr. Numby has exposed to his
growth hormone. Much more dangerous species."
"I'm gonna get out of here and so help me, I'm gonna turn you over my knee and give you
the spanking your daddy should have given you long ago."
"Promises, promises." The globe flew away to the ceiling and through a circular hatch that
irised open and closed.
Dillon sat down on the beach and took stock of his situation. He'd been stuck in a lot of
tough spots, but this was a humdinger. There was no way he could climb up to the ceiling
and escape back through the hatch Chew Mi had thrown him through. There was only one
way he could think of to escape. The water had tasted fresh, which meant that there was
some kind of filtration system cleaning the water, a filtration system that he could
conceivably swim through to escape. The only problem was finding it. In a pinch, Dillon
could hold his breath for five minutes; but it might take five minutes just to find the vent.
But then again, it wasn't as if he had anything else to do except hunt for the damned vent.
He took inventory of what weapons and/or devices he had left.
Chew Mi had searched Dillon pretty well. But the girl was young, cocky, and too secure in
the ability of her cyborg guards. She should have checked his teeth. Dillon had two molars
that were fake, one on each side of his mouth. Separately, they were just fake teeth. But
when crushed and mixed together, they formed a powerful explosive. That would be good
enough to take out the vent once he found it.
Dillon heard wet, splashing sounds and whirled to his right, ready for anything. What he
saw made him recoil in disgust and he scrambled to his feet. Dozens of pale gray eels were
emerging from the water crawling on hundreds—if not thousands—of tiny legs. The eels
were horrendously large, easily as thick around as Dillon's thigh, and shards of rotting flesh
hung from their jaws. Their huge mouths bristled with fangs that overlapped each other,
gnashing and chomping in a writhing, disgusting wave that hissed and snapped as they
Chew Mi blinked in surprise as her aide handed her a gold-colored business card.
"Alistair Frayne? He's here?"
"And Lady Thelma Sharpe is with him, along with some of Frayne's men and
Sharpe's bodyguard." "The Whale." "Yes."
Chew Mi tapped the business card against her lips as she debated whether to disturb Dr.
Numby with this. Chew Mi and Dr. Numby knew Alistair Frayne on a professional basis.
Frayne had worked for Dr. Numby a couple of times in the past.
"Give me an hour to change and then bring them to my office."
Chew Mi decided not to alarm Dr. Numby with this. She would find out for herself why
Frayne and Lady Thelma had made the trip all the way from London, but she had more
than a suspicion that it had to do with Dillon. Chew Mi quickly changed into another of the
military style outfits she loved to wear so dearly. A scaled, golden sash covered her chest
from shoulder to hip, with some nineteen medals from as many countries pinned to it. She
donned knee-high black boots that had been polished to a painfully bright shine, and a
narrow-brimmed cap that sat rakishly on her head.
Chew Mi's office was impressively large with thick, stone columns and 14th century
French stained glass windows. She posed in front of a full-length, silver-framed mirror
until the hour was up and Frayne, Lady Thelma, the Whale, and Frayne's men were
Chew Mi flopped in an easy chair, sitting with her legs stretched out in front of her,
crossed at the ankles, and twirled her swagger stick as she eyed the motley band. With the
exception of the Whale, who looked as fresh and bright as new money, they all looked like
they hadn't had a good night's sleep in a week.
"Good to see you again, Alistair...if unexpected. What is it I can do for you and Lady
"I'm tracking a man named Dillon. He's got some property that belongs to Lady Thelma,
and her secretary is probably in with him." Frayne held up his cell phone and waggled it
from side to side. "Scuttlebutt on the 'net is that you've got them."
"I do. I'm holding him for Odin's people."
"Look, that rotter's worth a helluva lot more than the paltry ten million Odin's offering for
him. Maybe we should go talk with Dr. Numby and we can reach an agreement that will
net all of us a big fat payday."
Chew Mi was eying Frayne carefully. One thing she'd never liked about Frayne was it was
difficult to tell when he was lying. When he wanted to, Frayne could make his face as open
and honest as an orphan's on Christmas Eve.
"What makes this Dillon so valuable?"
"Its not him. It's a ring he's got. He himself doesn't know how valuable it is. Only Lady
Thelma and Odin do. The ring is no good to you and the only reason Odin wants Dillon is
because he's in possession of the ring. You get the ring from Dillon and Dr. Numby can
name his own bleedin' price and trust me on this, twinkle; Odin has a lot more money in his
piggy bank than a measly ten million."
"Sounds like you're suggesting that Dr. Numby and I renege on a deal we've made in good
Chew Mi grinned wickedly. "Maybe we can work out something."
"Where's Dillon now?"
"I've got him in a secure place, no worry on that front."
"And the ring?"
Chew Mi shrugged. "We found no ring when we searched him."
The Whale growled. "Let me have him. I guarantee I'll find the ring."
Chew Mi's left eyebrow rose slightly. "Well, there's always Dillon's girlfriend. Maybe
she's got the ring or knows where he's hidden it on his person."
"Kris?" Lady Thelma spoke for the first time, her head jerking forward, eyes wild with
barely controlled frustration. "Where is she?"
"Dr. Numby is entertaining her. Would you like to see her?"
"See her? I want to kill her!"
Chew Mi threw a questioning look at Frayne, who rolled his eyes in exaggerated
"Then come along, Lady Thelma and I'll reunite you with your wayward employee..."
Dillon scrambled up the side of the rock and the eels followed, eager for this newest morsel
delivered to them. He kicked at the eels, who fell away easily enough, but the problem was
that there were simply too many of them. He'd be overrun soon enough. Dillon leapt off the
top of the rock and landed on the eels, squishing their soft bodies under the full weight of
his 240 pounds of solid muscle. He ran right through the pack and hit the water swimming,
his powerful arms pulling him under the surface. Like it or not, he was going to start
looking for that vent.
The eels were not ready to give up on dinner that quickly. They splashed back into the
water in a single mass and followed. Dillon turned and saw with dismay that he wasn't
nearly fast enough to evade them. The thousands of tiny legs they had developed thanks to
Dr. Numby's growth hormone aided them in swimming, and they were rapidly closing the
distance. Dillon twisted around and prepared to put up as strong a fight as he could, and
maybe try to make it back to the rock.
The eels were suddenly scattered by the monstrous goldfish who appeared as if by magic.
It began gulping down the eels eagerly, and the mutated eels had obviously run into the
giant goldfish before, because they did not strike back, but instead scattered, every eel for
itself. Dillon saw another giant goldfish heading for the picnic, and he decided to get the
hell out of there before the goldfish tired of eel.
His lungs were beginning to ache so he forced himself to increase the strength of his
strokes as he swam to the bottom. If any filtration vents were to be found, most likely that's
where they would be. After all, it seemed to him as if the Fishbowl was no more than a
The sudden tug of a strong current yanked Dillon off course and pulled him along as if he
was being towed on a line. Dillon didn't resist and went limp. He could see the large round
vent just ahead. The current was the water being sucked through a tube to the filtration
system where it would be cleansed of waste materials and returned to the Fishbowl. Dillon
twisted himself around and hit the vent backwards so that he could look and see if any
more monstrous fish were heading his way.
In fact, it looked as if the eels and the goldfish had reached a mutual decision to stop trying
to eat each other and sample Dillon. He reached up and jammed his fingers inside his
mouth, fighting to keep water from getting in, and with two sharp tugs, ripped free the false
molars. He jammed both fake teeth into a hinge, and with one firm twist, shattered them.
The chemicals mixed, Dillon shoved away from the vent, and then held his ears as the
explosion reverberated through the Fishbowl.
The vent crumpled as Dillon was sucked inside the tube. The increased suction caught a
hold of him, and he grabbed onto the rim as the eels and the giant goldfish were caught and
yanked inside. The goldfish had an amazed look in its eyes as it passed. The tube vibrated
violently as another explosion from further down occurred, and the suction significantly
decreased in force. Dillon let go of the rim and swam down the tube. He was almost out of
air, black blots were slowly, lazily moving in front of him, and his arms and legs felt as if
they had lead weights attached to them.
He found that he could stand up in the tube. His head broke the surface and he
thankfully drew in fresh air. He was in the main filtration plant and it wasn't a pretty sight.
There were goldfish guts and flesh everywhere. The poor thing had been sucked into the
mechanism and destroyed it. That must have been the second explosion, Dillon mused. The
eels had fared a little better. They had climbed up out of the filtration chute and had sought
out the tender flesh of the technicians who maintained the plant. Some of them had tried to
run but hadn't gotten away. Dillon splashed out of the tube and seized one technician who
was scrambling away on hands and knees from a pair of eels that Dillon impatiently kicked
away. The eels hissed and snapped, but crawled away to find something less aggressive to
Dillon yanked the tech to his feet. "You know who I am?"
"You're the man Chew Mi threw into the Fishbowl."
"Wrong. I'm the highly pissed off man Chew Mi threw into the Fishbowl. You
following me so far?"
The tech nodded his head so hard his hair flopped over his forehead and into his eyes.
"You know the layout of the castle pretty well, don't you?" "I should. I've been here for
nine months now."
"Good. I've got some property I've got to recover, and then there's a few places I'd like to
The tech had proven quite cooperative in assisting Dillon in gaining the upper levels of
Castle Numby. The tech, whose name was Ben, proved to be an interesting source of
knowledge. Ben had found a dry set of coveralls that Dillon drew over his own clothes,
from which he had wrung as much excess water as he could. Ben also found Dillon a
hardhat, which he advised him to keep pulled down low over his face.
"There are a few blacks here, but not so many that you can go walking around anywhere
you please. Sooner or later, somebody's going to tumble that your face isn't familiar, and
then you'll be caught and I'll be dead."
"You get me to where my equipment is kept and I give you my word I'll look after your
Ben nodded. "I'll be just as happy to get the hell away from here in any case." "Why?"
Dillon followed Ben to an elevator that the tech activated with a com-
"There's a lot of us who aren't all that pleased with being here. Dr. Numby's mixed up with
a lot of nasty, crazy stuff. Unfortunately, he's got the lot of us by the short hairs. You come
to work for him and you have to sign a contract that basically says he owns you right down
to your toenails."
The elevator started upwards. "Then why work here at all?"
Ben shrugged. "The pay, mate. Why else? Dr. Numby pays real well, but truth to tell, this
is the creepiest place I've ever been in my life. And those goddamned cyborgs are
everywhere, and that nasty little bitch Chew Mi doesn't think twice about siccin' 'em on a
body if she doesn't like you."
The elevator stopped and Dillon motioned for Ben to walk ahead of him. Ben whispered
out of the side of his mouth, "This is the security floor. Pretty soon, somebody's going to
ask me what I'm doing here."
There were several guards who threw the two men curious looks, but they didn't stop them
or ask their business. Ben visibly relaxed. "Thank God...it's a shift change. This is the shift
going off duty. Maybe we've got a chance. Here...this is the room you want."
The indicated room was filled with shelves and lockers that contained a remarkable amount
of personal items, all confiscated from the staff. Ben informed Dillon that none of them
were allowed to keep any kind of personal communication device, such as cell phones,
pagers, laptop computers and PDA's.
Dillon shucked out of the overalls and began looking for his stuff. He grinned in delight
when he saw his equipment bag and his leather jacket. He opened up his bag, pleased to
find that everything was there, and withdrew a pair of jet-black
9mm Browning automatics. He loaded them, then rolled up the bag, strapped it tight and
shrugged into his leather jacket.
"So what do you want to do now?" Ben asked nervously from his post at the door.
Dillon loaded the Brownings and slid them into holsters under his arms. "You were serious
about what you told me? That there's some here that don't like working for Numby and
Dillon's eyes were hot and golden as he said grimly; "Then I suggest you get hold of them.
Anybody that doesn't want to get killed better get their ass as far away from here as they
When the door opened and Kris saw Lady Thelma, she felt her knees go all wobbly. The
very last thing she expected to see was the old woman charging in, eyes wild with anger.
Lady Thelma let out a piercing war whoop, ran across the room, leapfrogged right over an
ottoman, and pounced on Kris like a puma on a rabbit. The chair Kris was sitting in toppled
over and the two women went rolling across the floor, screaming and pummeling each
Dr. Numby looked from Chew Mi to the fighting women and back to Chew Mi. "What in
the hell is all this row about? Chew Mi, who is this madwoman?" Dr. Numby reached
down and yanked Lady Thelma to her feet. "Stop this at once! Stop it, I say!"
Lady Thelma's response was to deliver a teeth-rattling slap to the side of Dr. Numby's
head. Numby didn't even blink as he drew back his right fist and clocked Lady Thelma
right in the jaw.
A bad decision.
Frederick Whalen moved with terrible speed, speed a man his size had no business being
capable of. There was a terrible series of snapping sounds, as bones were broken like
popsicle sticks and Dr. Numby crumpled to the floor, blood flowing from ears and nose.
Frayne's men drew their guns to cover Chew Mi, who was staring in open-mouthed horror
at what had happened so quickly. She recovered in seconds, and snarled at Frayne.
"Oh, I'll make you pay for this, you bastard!"
Frayne stepped forward and backhanded Chew Mi, who dropped to the floor, her hat
falling off her head and rolling away.
Frayne went over to check Dr. Numby and found him dead as a dodo's date book. Frayne
brushed off his hands and stood up to glare pure poison at Whalen, who held the two
struggling, screeching women under each arm. They were both yelling obscenities...and
still trying to get at each other.
"Shut them up!" Frayne ordered. "Don't we have enough problems as is?"
Whalen's expression made it plain that he didn't care one little bit for the tone of Frayne's
voice, but he did as he was told, squeezing the two women against his body very carefully
until they passed out from lack of air.
"Thank you." Frayne scratched his nose thoughtfully. "Now, let me ask you something:
how do you think we're going to get out of here now that you've killed Dr. Numby?"
"He shouldn't have hit Lady Thelma." Whalen sounded almost petulant. "I
reacted without thinking, I admit."
"No shit. The question still stands: how do we get out of here?"
"There's Chew Mi." Whalen jerked his chin in the direction of the Asian girl who was
shakily getting to her feet, pure hatred on her face. "Have her take you to Dillon and bring
him here. We're all in the same predicament more or less, and having an extra gun
improves our chances, doesn't it?"
"I hate to admit it, but we're thinking along the same lines, big man. Let's ask twinkle here
her opinion. What do you think about the Whale's idea, Chew Mi?"
Chew Mi responded with the sort of Chinese young ladies her age weren't supposed
to know. Frayne couldn't catch it all but he did clearly note the part concerning his female
ancestors and their mating habits with various species of canines and primates. Frayne
sighed and backhanded Chew Mi again. Harder this time.
Frayne reached down and yanked the girl to her feet. "And to think I gave up a wife,
two girlfriends and a promising career in advertising for this life." He turned to Whalen.
"You stay here and babysit the Golden Girls. I'll take the girl and the lads and go round up
"Shouldn't I come with you?"
"Don't you think you'll be more than a little suspicious carrying two unconscious women
under your brawny arms, my lad?"
The Whale grunted. "Just don't forget to come back for us."
"Uppermost thought in my mind, old sport." Frayne slapped Chew Mi's hat back on her
head. "Fix your face, baby girl...and let's go get Dillon."
Dillon hefted a Heckler & Koch 9mm UMP submachine gun and motioned to Ben. "You'd
best get a head start while I go to work. Just one thing before you go..."
The technician, looking highly uncomfortable indeed, paused in his headlong flight out the
"Thank you." Dillon extended his hand. Ben looked at it in surprise for a few
seconds, and then shook it. Ben's face was one of obvious relief. Probably had second
thoughts about turning loose a crazy man with a bag fulla guns in his boss's home. And if
he doesn't, he should, Dillon thought.
"The main security room is four doors down. I dunno how you're going to get in there,
though. My keycard won't open it."
"I'll use my own key." Dillon jerked his head toward the door. "Scram. I'll give you one
minute to get off the floor." Ben nodded and left. Dillon checked his holstered automatics
once again. Several grenades were clipped to his belt as well as a flare gun and several
different types of flares stowed away in his jacket pockets, along with spare ammo clips.
He hefted the H&K, yanked the door open and stepped boldly into the corridor. Four
cyborg guards had exited the elevator and the doors were closing. Dillon got a glimpse of
Ben's face just before the two halves of the door kissed.
Dillon cut loose with a withering stream of bullets that caught the cyborgs in their legs.
Blood and lubricating fluids spurted from veins and tubes. Bone and plastic splinters flew.
The cyborgs collapsed in a collective heap and dragged themselves along the floor at a
frightening rate of speed toward Dillon, fat yellow sparks leaping from their shattered legs.
Dillon smoothly drew his flare gun and fired on the floor in front of them.
The cyborgs yowled and cursed as the bright, pure white flare flooded the corridor with
intense light. Dillon whirled, keeping his eyes tightly shut. He could hear more shouts of
pain, rage and dismay all around him as other guards, alerted by the shots, burst from
rooms on either side, only to be blinded by the flare.
The flare abruptly went out. Dillon made his flares himself, and they only burned for one
minute. His enemies would be blinded for a long time, but he was able to go on and do
what needed to be done.
Dillon ran to the door leading to the main security room, jammed a grenade in the
handle and yanked the pin. With a Whoomp! the door was blown off its hinges and Dillon
quickly followed, taking advantage of the smoke and noise to spray the room with quick,
lethal bursts of deadly bullets.
Men screamed and tried to fire back, but they barely got their guns clear of their
holsters. In all the time they'd been working here, they'd never run up against opposition
such as this. Dillon turned and fired back through the door, taking the guard who had been
sneaking up on him full in the chest, throwing him back clear across the hallway to smash
against the far wall. The guard slid to the floor, leaving a wide, sticky red smear.
Dillon heaved a grenade out into the hall and then ducked as if went off. He was rewarded
with screams of dismay and pain. He quickly popped outside and sprayed the hallway with
bullets, first left and then right. He ducked back inside, ejected the empty clip, slapped in a
fresh one, and again sprayed the hall.
He heard desperate, frantic orders to pull back. Good. They'd take a minute or so to
regroup and figure out how best to hit him again. But that was okay...he already had an
idea of how to get out of here. But first, he had to find out where Kris was.
The security setup wasn't far removed from similar systems Dillon was familiar with, and it
wasn't long before he was cycling through the series of security cameras in various rooms
and sections of the castle.
"What in bloody hell is going on?" Frayne demanded. He jammed his gun in Chew Mi's
side. "What's happening?"
"How should I know?"
Indeed, there were alarms and sirens going off, and flashing emergency lights had popped
up from the floor, indicating the quickest route the staff should take to clear out. Armed
guards were shoving past quickly exiting technicians. Spying Chew Mi, they headed
Chew Mi roughly knocked Frayne's hand off her arm and smiled dangerously. "Guess who
just bought themselves a weekend being tortured by yours truly."
"Don't be such a nit. If what I think happened has happened, you're going to need
every gunman you can find."
"And what do you think has happened, you smirky bastard?"
Chew Mi snatched Frayne's gun from his hand and cracked him across the face while her
men surrounded Frayne's mercenaries. "You must think I'm stupid! I put Dillon somewhere
that nobody could get out of! I don't care how good he's supposed to be; he couldn't get out
of the Fishbowl!"
Frayne spat out a thick gob of blood. "Ask your men what's happened, then."
Chew Mi snapped at the first man in line. "Report!"
"It's the prisoner you threw into the Fishbowl. Somehow he got out, got hold of his
weapons and he's gone berserk. He's killed everyone up on the security floor!"
"How did he get up there?"
"I have no idea. He must have destroyed everything in the main security room, because the
communication systems and the backups have all gone dead." Chew Mi raised her fists to
the ceiling and screamed in pure hatred. "Get up there and kill him! Regain control of the
floor. And I don't care how many of you
die doing it!"
"Bad move," Frayne said.
"I suppose you have a better idea?"
Frayne sighed. "Don't you understand yet who you're dealing with? He gets to your
security room, raises a considerable amount of holy hell and while you and your men rush
up there wasting time, he's long gone. He's only one man against an army. He can't afford
to stay in one spot for too long or you'll overrun him with sheer numbers...and he knows
"So what are you saying? He's gone already?" Chew Mi demanded. Her eyes were still
furious, but she was listening.
"Sure he's gone. And I know exactly where he went: to rescue the girl. He'll want to get her
before he escapes."
"And why would he do that?"
"Because he fancies himself the friggin' hero of this show, that's why. And he won't leave
the Quinlan girl in the hands of the dastardly villains. He'll go right to her. But what he
doesn't know is that the Whale is there as well, and if you don't wanna miss a good fight, I
suggest we hurry up and get moving."
But Dillon did know that Frederick Whalen was in the room. He'd seen the huge
bodyguard on the security camera, and that was why he went in machine gun first when he
burst through the door of Numby's office. He rolled, bounded to his feet lightly, and spun
about, searching for Whalen. Where the hell does a bastard that big hide? Dillon wondered
as he became increasingly more and more aware that Whalen was not in the room.
Dillon stood up straight, frowning. He looked over at the couch and saw Kris and Lady
Thelma lying on it, both out cold. The body of Dr. Numby looked somehow small and
pitiful lying near a beautiful handmade Pakistani rug. Dillon didn't like it. Whalen wouldn't
have gone anywhere without Lady Thelma, which meant he had to be somewhere
near...but where? Dillon hadn't exactly snuck into the room, and even the stone deaf could
have heard all the noise he had made busting into the place. Maybe he went to investigate
the alarms and sirens that were still going off all over the castle?
And maybe you just oughta stop playing 20 Questions with yourself, get the girl and
get the hell out before he shows up along with Frayne and Chew Mi! the common-sense
part of his brain yelled at him. Dillon hurried toward the couch...
And the Pakistani rug jumped up and attacked him...seizing him in a bear hug.
For one of the few times in his life, Dillon had been caught totally by surprise. The rug had
somehow grown arms that had wrapped completely around him and were squeezing him
with frightening strength. Dillon blindly whipped his head forward and heard something
that sounded suspiciously like bone crunch. The arms relaxed slightly and Dillon brought
his legs up into the rug's chest and shoved with all the power in his considerable leg
muscles. The rug went flying one way and he went flying in the opposite direction to
somersault to a panther-like landing on his feet.
The Whale threw the rug aside and Dillon saw how the trick had been worked. Using his
prodigious strength, the Whale had actually ripped up a section of the parquet wood
flooring with his bare hands, wedged his body into the space underneath, and arranged the
rug over the hole.
The Whale was charging Dillon. He fired off the last few bullets left in the clip and
watched in amazement as the bullets hit Whalen in the chest with no effect whatsoever.
Dillon ducked under Whalen's swing and was nearly knocked off balance by the wind.
Dillon seized Whalen's ankle and whipped the limb up into the air. Whalen executed a
complete somersault and crashed onto his back with an impact that knocked paintings off
the walls and knick-knacks off the fireplace mantle.
Whalen moved quicker than any man that size had a right to move and twisted like a giant
alley cat, getting to his feet as if he were yanked upright by a bungee cord. Dillon ejected
the spent clip and wasted precious seconds fumbling for a fresh one while Whalen seized
the advantage and charged.
Dillon twirled out of the way with the grace of a bullfighter and cracked Whalen a good
sharp blow upside the head with the butt of the Heckler & Koch. Whalen shrugged it off as
his elbow lashed into Dillon's side, throwing him onto Dr. Numby's desk. Before Dillon
could react, Whalen had grabbed the desk, which had to weigh at least five hundred
pounds, and flipped it. Dillon tumbled through the air like a badly tossed Frisbee to strike
the wall where Dr. Numby's collection of swords hung. The impact of Dillon's body hitting
the wall knocked the swords off their hooks and they clattered around Dillon, who rolled
out of the way of the larger blades.
Whalen jumped over the desk, his eyes gleaming with delight. Glad you're enjoying
this little workout, Dillon thought as he snatched up a sword and hurled it right at Whalen's
throat. See how you enjoy having this!
Whalen caught the sword almost lazily, as if he plucked swords out of the air every
day. Whalen grinned at Dillon, broke the sword in half in his bare hands, and tossed the
two halves over his shoulders. Then he charged again. Dillon slid between his legs like
Jackie Robinson sliding for home and when Whalen turned around, Dillon let him have it
with everything he had in a punch right over the Whale's heart.
The Whale's entire body jerked as if he had stuck his finger in a light socket. A horrid,
blubbery gasp escaped him. His eyes bulged and he tried to draw in a breath. Dillon
reached under his jacket, got one of his automatics clear before Whalen slapped it out of
his hand, but the big man followed it up with a straight punch that made Dillon see red as
he flew the length of the room and collided into the far wall hard enough to leave a
man-shaped impression. He hit the floor, all the air knocked out of him.
Whalen wasn't doing much better, but then again, after the punch Dillon gave him, he
shouldn't have even been alive. A punch like that would've stopped the heart of a normal
man, but as Frederick Whalen was proving, he was nowhere near normal.
The door swung open and armed men piled into the room, taking up positions where they
had clean lines of fire. Dillon used the wall as a brace while he pushed himself up to his
feet. Whalen was bent over, hands on his knees, drawing in deep breaths as his color
returned to normal.
Frayne shook his head. "What a shame. I'd have paid good money to see that one."
Colonel Alvin Thompson looked up from his desk as Gregory Tipp entered Thompson's
private command car located at the rear of the twelve-car B.I.T.E train. Tipp's face was
bright with excitement. He eagerly shucked off his topcoat, threw it carelessly onto a
high-backed chair, and walked over to Thompson's desk.
"You took your sweet time about getting here," Thompson complained mildly, gesturing at
a silver, eighteen-cup capacity coffee urn burbling happily in a corner. "Coffee?"
"I'd rather have a belt of something stronger, but I know you don't allow that sort of thing
before a mission."
"Absolutely not," Thompson confirmed. "And all my lads know better. I don't care if they
drink a barrelful of booze once the job's done, but nobody on my team goes on a mission if
they've had so much as a mouthful of Listerine. I'm sorry, Greg. Technically you're my
boss, but those are my rules and—"
Tipp waved away Thompson's regretful words. "This is your court, Alvin, and I'll play by
your rules. I'm not here as your boss. I'm here as a colleague to help smooth out the rough
spots. Coffee will be fine, just throw an extra couple spoonfuls of sugar in it and that'll be
enough of a jolt to keep me up. Now what's the play?"
Thompson gestured at the mapboard he had been examining. "I just received confirmation
from one of my scout teams that Dillon was taken hostage by private guards in the employ
of Dr. Aristotle Numby. I understand that he's been under surveillance for some time now,
but he's got a lot of powerful friends in influential places and we haven't been able to get
the authorization to go into his castle for Dillon."
Tipp nodded and looked at the schematics of the castle. "I know Numby. Met him at a
variety of government functions. He's reputedly a brilliant man, but he's also been known
to bend the rules a bit in his work in genetics and biomechanics. Numby's been one the
major players lobbying for a relaxation of the laws regarding cybernetic augmentation in
the United Kingdom."
"Well, he's got Dillon, that's a fact. My men questioned several barflies in Numby Dell and
they swear that Dillon and the Quinlan girl were taken by 'Dr. Numby's windup warriors.'"
Tipp looked up sharply. "That a quote from your lads or the barflies?"
"And you interpret that to mean—?"
Thompson shrugged, walked over to the urn, and began pouring coffee for Tipp into a huge
black mug with B.I.T.E. in red letters emblazoned on the side, the letters forming huge
fangs in a gaping snake's mouth. "Numby's got cyborgs up there that he uses for his
personal use is the only thing I can figure."
Tipp looked back down at the schematic. "Big place. What did you have in mind?"
"First off, do you have the authorization to give me the go ahead to take the castle?"
Tipp took the steaming mug of coffee and blew on the liquid twice before taking a
cautious sip. He looked at his friend with steady eyes. "Don't worry about it. I'm giving you
the word to take the castle any way you deem necessary."
Thompson frowned. "Dammit, Greg, don't go putting your arse in the grinder if you don't
have to! If we bust in there and kill some people and don't find Dillon or any evidence of
"Then I guess you'll just have to bloody well make sure that you do, hmm?"
"I'm going to end all of this right here and now," Chew Mi promised grimly. An even
dozen of her men had their guns pointed squarely at Frayne and his men. Frayne was
unarmed, but his men still had their guns and looked perfectly ready to use them with or
without a word from Frayne.
Dillon and the Whale had been shoved into the middle of the two groups. Now that he
was closer to the larger man and could see through the bullet holes in his shirt, Dillon saw
how the Whale had survived being shot: the giant was wearing some kind of flexible body
armor. That, along with his considerable musculature had been enough to spare him. Dillon
made a note to use armor-piercing shells next time he had Whalen in his gun sight. If there
was going to be a next time, because from the antsy way Chew Mi's and Frayne's
respective crews were acting they were just about to reenact the last fifteen minutes of The
"Good idea, twinkle." Frayne confirmed and snapped his fingers. A gun was tossed to
him by one of his men and he ran lightly over to where Kris lay on the couch. "First things
first: I want that damned pain in the ass ring, Dillon, and I want it right now. No tricks or I
give your girlfriend here a 9mm hair dye using her brains."
"Okay, okay!" Dillon reached into a pocket and pulled out the golden ring, the opal
sparkling wetly in the bright overhead lighting. "Listen, let's just all take it easy here
Whalen rabbit punched Dillon with enough force to knock him to the floor. The ring flew
up into the air, turning over and over, and for a few crucial seconds, everybody's eyes were
Chew Mi was the first to snatch her eyes back on the one thing in the room that really
mattered to her: Frederick Whalen, the man who had slain her beloved Dr. Numby. Chew
Mi lifted her AK-47 and screamed as she squeezed the trigger. A dozen bullets took
Whalen high up on the chest and blood spurted in a fine mist as Whalen's body jiggered
and jumped. The impact of the bullets kicked him backwards into two of Frayne's men.
AK-47 must have been loaded with Teflon bullets, Dillon thought as he watched Whalen's
massive body crash to the floor.
The rest of Frayne's crew opened fired enthusiastically on Chew Mi's men, who were
just as generous in their return fire. Dillon stayed on the floor, covered his head, and hoped
they'd use up all their bullets in their sudden, bloodthirsty zeal to wipe each other out
before remembering he was between them.
Frayne caught half a clip in his stomach and chest and fell right next to Dillon, his eyes
astonished, as if he could hardly believe that he was dying. Dillon looked over at Whalen,
who was sitting with his hands in his lap like a giant child, his eyes glazed and unfocused,
his shirt and jacket soaked with his own blood.
Frayne's crew and Chew Mi's men were all dead, having shot each other into hamburger.
The room was filled with smoke and the thick smell of cordite. Chew Mi dropped her
AK-47, grabbed up the golden ring and ran from the room, cackling. "Now I have Odin's
ring and it is I who will determine where it goes!"
"Swell." Dillon got to his feet and stepped over Frayne, his intention to check on Kris.
Frayne's hand seized Dillon's ankle. Dillon looked down at his dying enemy, who was
trying to say something, but only managed a gargling rasp as thick, dark blood bubbled
past his lips.
"What the hell do you want, Frayne? Die with a little dignity, willya?"
"Too bad...it had to end up...like this..."
"Not from where I'm standing." Dillon kicked his foot free and went over to Kris. He
yanked her to a sitting position, unsnapped one of the pouches on his belt, and pulled out a
small white capsule that he cracked in half under her nose. She came back to consciousness
in seconds and was appalled to find herself sitting in a room that had been turned into a
"What...Dillon, what in...?"
Dillon pulled her roughly to her feet. "I'll explain on the run. Right now we've got to catch
up to Chew Mi!"
"Why else? The damn ring's changed hands again!"
The trio of B.I.T.E. armored assault vehicles crashed through the fortified gates of Numby
Castle as if they had been made out of plywood. Fat sparks shooting from severed
electronic connections like miniature runaway comets. The guards at the gatehouse did
their best to stop the intruders, but it was no use. Their weapons were too small a caliber to
even be an annoyance to the massive behemoths with their thick armor plating. Three black
helicopters swooped in from the north and the west, and their huge spotlights lit up the
grounds at an intensity close enough to high noon as to make no difference. Men and
women alike were running in all directions. Some technicians, some castle-staff. Here and
there, some of Numby's security staff had obviously taken the hint that there were no
further paychecks here and it was time to go.
The lead assault vehicle hissed to a stop some five hundred feet from the immense double
doors leading into the castle, and an amplified voice boomed from a speaker on top of the
"This is Colonel Thompson of the British Intelligence Tactical Elite! In the name of
her Majesty the Queen, I am empowered to use any and all means at my disposal to secure
this castle and arrest all within! You have thirty seconds to surrender!"
His answer was an enthusiastic storm of machine gun fire from the castle. Numby still
had some loyal men who were willing to keep earning their pay. Thompson's reply was
quick and to the point.
A pair of rockets zoomed from the assault vehicle's main cannons and blew apart the
double doors, sending thick pieces of flaming wood and metal yowling in all directions.
Ribbons of flames engulfed the front of the castle and broken, charred bodies were flung to
and fro. The lead assault vehicle rumbled inside the castle, right into the main entrance
hall, rolling over blackened, smoking rubble. The side door slid open and B.I.T.E.
commandos poured out, silent and deadly, loaded with weaponry. Machine guns chattered
as they covered the first team, which drew a defensive perimeter around the assault vehicle
and began securing the area.
Some fifty of Numby's men were putting up a fight, crouched in doorways leading to other
parts of the castle, covering the rest of their force, retreating up the giant, curving marble
staircase that was slick with blood. Thompson leaped out of the vehicle, closely followed
by Gregory Tipp, who looked much different now. Garbed in a skintight black jumpsuit
made of a Kevlar IV/Ferosium micro-mesh weave, he looked nothing like the deskbound
paper pusher he nor- mally appeared to be. He aimed his grenade launcher and fired at the
staircase. The explosion was not enough to destroy the marble, but it was enough to clear a
sizeable path, sending ruined, bloody bodies somersaulting through the air, their screams
echoing in the vast hall.
"We've got to get further inside the castle and find Dillon, if he's still alive!" Tipp shouted.
Thompson stopped firing long enough to toss a fierce grin over his shoulder.
"I'd bet my pension that he's somewhere raising a considerable amount of hell himself.
Give me and the lads here half a mo' to teach these buggers who's in charge here and we'll
go look for him together."
When the first explosions rocked the castle, Dillon skidded to a stop and Kris almost fell
on her face in surprise at how quickly he'd halted. The floor under their feet was vibrating.
"My God, what now?" Kris moaned.
"It's B.I.T.E." Dillon was grinning with respectful admiration. "I gotta give Tipp his
props...when he's on your ass, you truly have somebody on your ass." Dillon turned to
Kris. "Looks like this is where you get off, sweetheart. Stay here and wait for Tipp. He'll
take care of you from here on out."
"Wait! Where are you going?"
"After Chew Mi. I owe her for throwing me in that glorified fish tank, and I've got to get
that ring back."
"Oh, let her have the damned ring! What good can it do anybody now? Everybody's dead!"
"She's not dead and neither am I. And Odin's still out there somewhere. I owe him a
big beat down for siccing his dogs on me, and the one way to get to him is to get that ring."
Dillon cupped her chin in a gloved hand and kissed her swiftly. "Stay here and wait for
Tipp. You'll be okay." Dillon ran down the hall about five feet then stopped and turned. He
flashed her that Cheshire Cat grin she'd come to know well.
"You were a pain in the ass at times, but you're okay, Kris Quinlan." He ran down a
corner and was gone.
Dillon kicked open the door to the rooftop hangar, a pair of Browning automatics in his
gloved fists. He figured that if Chew Mi were going to try to get away, flying out would be
the best way, so he'd headed straight up here. He didn't like the thought of shooting a girl
as young as she was, but he also had a deep aversion to being killed himself. The rooftop
hangar was an enclosed area with a roof that could be folded back to permit takeoffs and
landings by the various aircraft kept at the castle. A couple of helicopters, an autogiro, a
couple of one and two-man jumpsticks. Dillon moved soundlessly through the hangar, his
eyes a smoldering, molten gold, his face a neutral mask of calm detachment.
He heard the hum of a firing system being activated three seconds before bullets started
tearing into the wall next to him. Dillon ran, firing both his weapons, slugs humming and
screaming around him as he dived, rolled, and came to rest next to a yellow and red
"Dillon. Oh, Dil-lon...come out and play-ay..."
"I really don't want to have to kill you, Chew Mi, so don't make me. Throw down your
weapon, come out, and I'll let you off with an ass-whooping, okay?"
Dillon peered over the forklift and saw Chew Mi floating slowly toward his position, riding
an Olishanky air cycle. It floated on a field of magnetic-repellent energy that made the
underside of the vehicle glow neon blue. She sat astride it as if it were a proud warhorse.
Gleaming silver and red, it was a pleasure device of the idle rich that had been converted
by Chew Mi into a flying weapon. A 30mm electric cannon was mounted on the front and
it was still smoking from her initial salvo.
Chew Mi's painfully young face contorted in a snarl of psychotic rage. "Let's see who'll
give who the ass-whooping!"
"Ain't nothing between us but air and opportunity!" Dillon leapt to his feet. He ran
backwards almost as fast as he ran forward, firing both his guns. Bullets spanged off the
armored windshield and sides of the air cycle with painful whines, but to no effect. Chew
Mi laughed. "You think you're so fucking smart don't you? I'll show you!"
Dillon stopped his backwards run and back-flipped straight up about six feet onto a stack
of metal storage containers. He dropped his empty guns and reached under his jacket for
his .44 Desert Eagle Magnum. Chew Mi cut loose with the 30mm cannon, cutting the
container he stood on into metal shavings that collapsed under the withering fire. Dillon
disappeared as he tumbled backwards. The containers toppled and crashed, the screeching
sounds of metal banging against metal harsh and loud. A cloud of yellowish dust obscured
"Hah! Not so tough now, are ya?" Chew Mi twisted the throttle, gently nudging the
air cycle forward...but not too much...she'd underestimated this man once before and she'd
not do that again.
A .44 Magnum slug cut through her hat, ripping it from her head, barely missing her
skull. A cluster of hair strands fell in her face and she blew them away as she turned the
Olishanky to the right. The 30mm cannon yelped as it cut loose with its lethal spray, a
veritable high-pressure hose of lead.
Dillon jinked like an NFL pro running back, zigzagging like mad, snapping off shots as he
dashed to the far end of the hangar, belly flopping to slide under a light Reese/Hartin
autogiro as Chew Mi pounded bullets into the aircraft's gas tank. Dillon gained the other
side, scrambled to his feet, and continued running as the bullets ignited the fuel. The
aircraft seemed to open up like a metal flower to reveal an orange-red explosion within that
picked him up and threw him another fifteen feet in the air. Dillon twisted in mid-air, using
the thrust of the explosion to propel him higher. It gave him enough room to tumble, twist
and land on his feet. He brought his weapon up and snapped off three more shots at the air
cycle that was rushing right towards him through the flames rapidly spreading through the
The bullets shattered the windshield but didn't hit the grinning Chew Mi, whose hair was
flying wildly around her head and shoulders as she gunned the air cycle full throttle. Dillon
leapt upwards and landed on the front grille of the speeding air cycle, but it continued on,
smashing through one of the huge windows at the end of the hangar and flying into the
night sky over Numby Castle.
Chew Mi was headed right towards one of the B.I.T.E. helicopters. She twisted the
controls, skewing to the right, barely missing the rear rotors. Dillon slid off the front of the
air cycle and he grabbed onto the electric cannon for dear life, looking down at Numby
Castle, which all of a sudden seemed very small beneath him.
Chew Mi raised a small fist. The golden ring with the sparkling opal glittered on her index
finger and she brought her fist whistling down into Dillon's face. His lower lip split and
fresh blood filled his mouth as volcanic rage filled his soul. He whipped his right leg up
and around and his booted heel cracked Chew Mi a good one upside her head, snapping it
Chew Mi twisted the directional thrust and the air cycle began to spin, once, twice, three
times, with Dillon desperately holding onto the cannon as his body was pulled straight out
by the centrifugal force. Using the momentum, he flipped himself into the seat in back of
Chew Mi twisted around, the side of her head purpling from Dillon's kick, and snapped at
his face like a rabid Doberman. Dillon head-butted her and reached to grab the controls,
turning the air cycle back to the castle.
Chew Mi's hands went for his throat and she started strangling him with real enthusiasm as
the air cycle went careering straight back at Castle Numby. Chew Mi was laughing, a
schoolgirl's giggle that was incredibly macabre.
"I'm bad! I'm bad! You know it!"
The air cycle smashed through one of Numby Castle's priceless 16th Century stained
glass windows, hit the floor, skidding some twenty feet with Dillon and Chew Mi still
relentlessly fighting each other, then hit a marble pillar, throwing them off in opposite
Dillon shakily pushed himself to his hands and knees, shaking multicolored glass from his
back. His entire body was aching from all the fighting he'd done this night. He had
extraordinary reserves of strength and endurance, but even he had his limits, and the strain
of the last twenty-four hours was beginning to tell on him. He could feel the black cloak of
unconsciousness being pulled over him and he fought to get to his feet. The ring could not
fall into Odin's hands. No matter what. He rose and looked for Chew Mi.
The air cycle lay smoking and hissing where it had crashed into the pillar, but there was no
sign of Chew Mi. Maybe she had decided to make a run for it while he was pulling himself
"Where's my ass-whoopin'?"
Dillon whirled but he was too slow. Chew Mi caught him with a solid roundhouse kick. An
explosion of pain went off on the left side of his head.
"Big bad-ass Dillon gonna give the little girl an ass-whoopin', right?" Chew Mi delivered
another devastating roundhouse kick to the other side of his head that made him stagger
backwards, completely disoriented.
"So long, farewell, auf wiedersein, and goodnight!" Chew Mi gave him a blistering
uppercut that lifted him off his feet about five inches. He crashed to the floor on his back,
out colder than a penguin's pizzle.
Chew Mi gazed down at him for a disdainful moment, contemplating ending his life.
Then she looked at the golden ring on her fist and a smile curled her lips. No. She had a
better idea. Dillon's life would end and she would do it. But later. There was work to be
done. Odin's work. And who better than he to have the services of the one person who had
been able to beat Dillon when others such as Frederick Whalen and Alistair Frayne had
And since they were dead, there was only Dillon left to be tortured for ending the life of
her beloved lover and father, Aristotle Numby.
Chew Mi turned, her cloak swirling about her like a great dark wing, and she left Dillon
where he lay.
The castle had taken nearly fifty minutes to secure, and Thompson received word to join
Tipp upstairs in one of the upper chambers. Thompson had been making sure that Lady
Thelma Sharpe and Frederick Whalen were firmly in custody. Incredibly, considering the
amount of punishment he had taken, the Whale was still alive. In fact, he had put up
enough of a fight that he had to be shot with a tranquilizer. They were being taken to a
special compound known as 'the Cloisters' where they would be questioned.
Even though Lady Thelma's role in this affair was pretty clear, she was still a powerful
woman with many influential friends, a significant number of which had political clout.
She would have to be handled carefully.
Thompson found Tipp in a smoke filled room where he was looking down at Dillon, who
was being examined by a pair of paramedics. Tipp was quietly smoking a cigarette.
"You've got him at last, Greg."
Tipp nodded. "I've been talking to some of the prisoners. Seems as if you were right.
Before we got here, Dillon had broken free of some kind of holding cell and was working
out some frustrations on Numby and his staff. Hell, if we'd waited another hour, the lot
might have been pleading for us to rescue them from him."
Thompson nodded. "We've got the Quinlan girl downstairs in one of the choppers, but
she's half out of it. Can't tell a coherent story. Goddamn, Greg, what is going on here?"
"I don't know. But we need answers, and we need them fast."
Thompson eyed his friend warily. "So what do you want to do?"
Tipp seemed to set his shoulders, as if taking on a great weight before answer- ing. "I'm
going to send Dillon and the Quinlan girl to Project: 65."
"That's a little extreme, don't you think, Greg? God. Dillon may not be a friend, but he's not
an enemy either."
Tipp's voice was cold as he answered. "I need answers from Dillon, and I'm prepared to use
any means necessary to get them out of him. And yes, Al, I'll even use Project: 65. You see
to his transport there, and then forget him. I'll cover your ass; never fear on that score."
"I'm not concerned about that, Greg. I'm concerned about the damage you might do to a
"Potential ally or not, I'll do as I see fit. Because as of right now, Dillon belongs to Her
Majesty's Secret Service."
75 HOURS LATER IN NEW YORK CITY
New York City is a lovely place to be in early August. People take off from work and stroll
in the Village or Brooklyn Heights. They take impromptu picnics in Brooklyn's Prospect
Park and toss Frisbees in Manhattan's Central Park or take in free concerts or matinee
movies. August in New York is a time to think of giving your boss excuses for not coming
in to work.
It's not a time for the Voice of Odin to be heard.
The Voice was heard exactly at 6:07 PM. And while there were many different accounts of
that day, one thing was agreed on: the Voice was a musical, even magical sound, like a
thousand crystal wind chimes all being stirred at once by the same soft summer breeze. A
sound that hung in the air and cascaded like a veritable waterfall of harmonious sound. A
sound so fearfully deadly.
Later that day, the complete reports of the effects of the Voice added up to three
thousand cases of heart attacks, eight thousand with permanent loss of hearing, and twelve
thousand other cases of injuries relating to those who had lost unconsciousness or had a
seizure or...something else. The 'or' cases were quickly classified by the American
Intelligence Machine, the National Security Agency, and other alphabet soup agencies.
The Voice of Odin was heard again in Hong Kong an hour after the New York attack.
Again, everybody remembered hearing that same sound of a thou- sand crystal wind
chimes, almost heartbreakingly beautiful in its simple glorious- ness.
And then twenty thousand glass windows exploded into shards of deadly transparent razor
sharp missiles that killed over a thousand people and injured six thousand more.
But the Voice of Odin was not through yet. In Hollywood, the famous actress Dixie
Dunbar was receiving the Madeline Bouchard Lifetime Achievement Award for her
outstanding 40-year career in film and television. Still gorgeous at the age of 63, with an
outstanding figure and a pair of knockout gray-green eyes that melted the hearts of men
young enough to be her grandsons...Dixie was giving her acceptance speech when that
same musical, thousand wind chime sound was heard in the Amphitheatre located in the
Michael J. Fox Cultural Center. And everybody who was there said the same thing: when
the angelic wind chime sound was heard, the gorgeous, beautiful Dixie Dunbar clutched
her throat, then her heart, and then dropped like the Titanic.
Of course, this being Hollywood, and this being Dixie Dunbar, it was a while before
it was realized that this was not some publicity stunt or outré entertainment, but was, in
fact, another attack by the Voice of Odin.
An email was delivered to every major news service some seven hours after Dixie
Dunbar's death. By then, the rumors were flying fast and furious over the airwaves and on
the Internet. The email soon put a name to the terror that was threatening everyone:
"My name is Odin. Today you heard my Voice speak in three major world cities. It will
speak again. It will speak because you must be convinced of the truth of what I can do. My
Voice will be heard every three days. After you hear my Voice, I will make my wishes
known. If my wishes are not obeyed to the letter, my Voice will continue to be heard. You
have seen what my Voice can do. If you choose not to obey me, it is at your own peril,
since the peoples of the world do not know where or whom it will strike when I speak next.
"I understand that it will take time for you to be convinced. I have that time. I have
waited long for my Voice to be heard, and I have nothing but belief in the power of my
Voice. Ignore me at your peril. Disregard me and the lives lost will be your responsibility.
"To the peoples of the world; your leaders will tell you that I am a madman, that what
I have done today, I cannot do again. Your leaders are self-serving fools who care only for
the security of their jobs, and nothing for you. Think of your wives, your husbands, your
parents, your children. They are the ones who will suffer because your leaders decided
your fate. I beg of you that you not leave the future of your lives in their hands.
"I truly do not wish to create such havoc and chaos. But there must be order imposed on
this tired world, and I will impose it at any cost. So I say this to the people of the world:
obey the Voice of Odin or make your peace with whatever god you worship.
"And do it right soon."
The President of the United States sat in her Oval Office, mightily wishing that she had
stayed a senator from New York. Senators didn't have to deal with madmen wielding
technological terrors that slew from a distance. Several men sat across her large desk
looking at her, each with laptops or thick folders in their hands. They were the men she
was counting on to give her advice in this unthinkable hour of fear.
Doctor Michael Cadwallander was one of her Science Advisors. He was also the Director
of Special Projects for the Henderson Institute of Alternative Technologies, one of the
leading scientific research firms in the world. Cadwallander was about five eight, with hair
and eyes the color of ashes.
The second man was dressed in a steel blue business suit and was furiously tapping on his
laptop. Milo Dane was the head of Omega Elite, the U.S. government's ultimate 'dirty
tricks' department. He had been given the codename 'Wildcard' with good reason. He was
unpredictable; no one ever knew what he would do in a given situation. When the first
attack had happened, Omega Elite's members had been put on alert. The problem was,
where was the target?
General Patrick Nathan Leary, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was speaking into a cell
phone quietly. A muscular slab of a man: blocky, with a square, honest face and the steely
gaze of a born warrior.
The President spoke in a voice as brittle and fragile as ice on the surface of a lake.
"I need answers from you, gentlemen. What kind of weapon is this and why don't we have
a defense against it?"
Cadwallander answered in a clear but troubled voice. "Madame President, it's pretty clear
that this Odin has somehow created an effective sonic weapon using harmonic wave
patterns based on molecular vibratory signature variances. As we've seen today, it's very
dangerous and very effective. Various government agencies and independent research
facilities experimented with such devices, but it was judged unfeasible and funding was cut
from those experiments."
Milo Dane nodded. "Our weapons research was concentrated into electronics and physical
enhancements. Sonic research was something we just...well, let slip."
The President ran a short-nailed finger through her honey-blond hair and leaned back in her
chair. She crossed slim legs and said some very un-lady-like words. "Do we have any
experts on this we can call in? Where's Kalaydjian Feros?"
"He and his team haven't been seen for two weeks. They went on a personal mission to
France and that's the last anyone's heard of them," Leary answered. "I've got friends of ours
over there looking for him."
The President fixed a bilious eye on Cadwallander. "And where's your boss? Where's
Cadwallander shrugged. "I called him two hours ago and got his personal assistant.
She simply said he was unavailable."
"Damn! What's the point of me giving these people carte blanche to run around doing
what they want when I can't find them when they're needed?"
"Madame President, I've got my people putting together a file on Odin right now, but
it's pretty obvious to me and to all of us that we've got to move and move damn fast," Milo
Dane said quietly. "We've got three days before Odin turns that thing loose against us
again." Milo looked at Cadwallander. "You wanna help me out here?"
Cadwallander gave the other man a disdainful glare and turned his attention to the
President. "The only advice I can give you is this; we have to find Odin and we have to
find him fast. And for that, I suggest you talk to the one man who isn't here. Talk to John
Velvet. He knows people that he can put on this to find Odin. But whoever he puts on that
job had better be damn good and damn fast because when Odin turns that Voice loose
again, there's no telling what'll happen next."
John Velvet was highly upset. Outraged even. Downright pissed once you cut out all
the polite euphemisms. He hadn't slept much since this Odin business had started, and he
was wired from drinking so much black coffee. John Velvet held an important position as
Director of the American Intelligence Machine. As such, he was expected to be able to
identify potential threats to the safety of these United States and counter them. He had
realized right from the first attack that he had had the opportunity to secure the Voice of
Odin for the United States and had let it slip through his fingers.
His desk phone rang and he picked it up. His assistant's voice spoke in his ear, "Sir,
I've got a call from Colonel Thompson of B.I.T.E. Priority Alpha One."
"Put him through." Velvet leaned back in his high backed chair and rubbed his aching eyes.
"John? It's Alvin Thompson."
"Al, I hope this isn't a social call. As you can imagine, I'm busier than a one-legged man in
an ass-kicking contest over here."
"Trust me, I know exactly what you're going through. London's a ghost town. Everybody
was scared shitless that Odin would hit the city."
"Then you'll understand my bluntness when I ask you to get to the point of this call."
"First off, I want your word that this call stays between us."
"Hold on a sec." Velvet reached over to the phone console and shut off the digital voice
recorder that had automatically activated when the call was patched through to him. "Okay,
my recorder's off. This better be good, Al."
"It is. Do you know a man named Dillon?"
Velvet felt a sudden sharp pain in his gut as if a spear of ice had been driven into his
bowels. Hearing Dillon's name usually had that effect on him. "Don't tell me he's mixed in
"Up to his eyebrows. He spent a merry few days running from me and Greg Tipp, half the
mercenaries in Europe, and some of Odin's agents. John, you know him, right? Is he a bad
"Dillon? No. He's an arrogant son of a bitch with more mouth and nerve than brains. But
I've had occasion to work with him a few times. I don't like him, but I trust him. Just how
involved is he in this Odin business?"
Thompson spent a quick twelve minutes telling Velvet everything he knew and Velvet
listened quietly, not interrupting or asking questions until the story was finished.
"So where's Dillon now?"
Thompson's voice was wary. "Project: 65."
"Christ! Why'd you send him there, Al? Dillon's a pain in the ass, sure, but he'd have
worked with you and Tipp! Why did—?"
"Now steady on, John! I didn't make that decision, and I even questioned Greg on the
wisdom of it. I agree with you that we'd be better off with Dillon on our side, working with
us, but Greg's determined to make Dillon suffer for the dance he led us on. Why do you
think I wanted your word that this conversation would be between the two of us? If Greg
Tipp knew I was handing this information to you, he'd have my head, friendship
notwithstanding. But I'd heard that you and Dillon knew each other and I figured that if
anybody could put pressure on Greg, it would be the Director of the Machine."
"Damn right I will."
"Whatever you have to do, do it quick. Greg's had him there for two days already. And
that's just about the record for holding out. Greg's about to really start to go to work on
Project: 65 is located on a small rocky island off the English coast, protected by one of
the most sophisticated electronic cloaking devices in existence. Established back in 1985, it
was jointly funded by several intelligence agencies, including the Machine and MI6, as
well as others of various allied nations. The island existed for one purpose: to extract
information from men and women in any way necessary. To accomplish this end, Project:
65 employed a variety of experts in interrogation techniques, some subtle and insidious,
others savage and brutal. Project: 65 guaranteed one thing: if someone were sent there for
the purpose of getting information out of them, it would be gotten. No matter what.
Doctor Yolanda Merrydew watched on a monitor screen as Dillon was removed from the
sensory deprivation tank he had been confined to for two days now. He was placed on a
gurney and his naked body wiped dry. Yolanda stood a petite five-foot-one and a riot of
soft auburn curls framed her round face. She looked more like a cheerleader than one of the
world's leading experts in elec- tronic interrogation. She turned to her assistant, Oskar. "So
what's the progress we've made on this one?"
Oskar looked at a computer notepad in his freckled hand. "The subject has been in sensory
deprivation for two days following injections of Crash...numbers four and seven, I believe.
He's ready for White Room interrogation."
Yolanda Merrydew sighed. "Gregory Tipp sure about that?"
"He was most definite. He said he wants this one interrogated in the White
Room and furthermore, he wants to be there."
Gregory Tipp was ushered into the control center of the White Room. Dillon was already
encased in a huge chair with built in restraints that held down his arms and legs securely.
Dozens of sensors were attached to his muscular body. His breathing was slow and
shallow, as his eyes had rolled up into his head until only the whites showed. Two
technicians were placing a bulky helmet on his head, affixing several thick black cables
that ran from the chair to the helmet, and adjusting readouts. The White Room was a
chamber of solid, pristine white. The chair was in the center of the room, and Yolanda
Merrydew and Gregory Tipp sat behind a thick pane of one-way plexiglass where they
could keep a visual eye on Dillon.
Dillon's body was absolutely limp and helpless. He had been pumped full of two versions
of Crash, a potent psychotropic drug created by Yolanda. She had devised it to completely
tear down any and all psychological barriers natural and unnatural in the shortest amount of
time possible. Coupled with the sensory deprivation chamber, Dillon was now ripe for
interrogation in the White Room.
Yolanda activated her control board. There were four rows of seven hundred red buttons,
four rows of two hundred orange buttons and three rows of four hundred black buttons,
arranged in a semi circular pattern.
"How on Earth do you remember what all those buttons are for?" Tipp murmured.
"It's not unlike playing a piano, believe it or not." And indeed, Yolanda was cracking her
knuckles and limbering up her fingers much like a concert pianist preparing to play a
difficult piece. "I'll be constantly bombarding Dillon with a variety of electronic stimuli
designed to make him remember whatever we want to know. He's been injected with two
versions of Crash, and that's more than most people are able to take. He's only now open to
us. I've never seen a subject fight as hard as he has against the drugs."
"What will happen exactly after you begin the interrogation?"
Yolanda pointed at an LCD screen that unfolded from the ceiling. "The White Room is
basically a huge computer designed to interpret human brain waves and translate them into
holographic images we can see. Once we begin, we'll be able to see his thoughts and
memories on that screen." Yolanda seated herself and her skinny fingers danced lightly
over the keys. "Ready when you are."
Tipp sat down next to her and his lips quirked as he looked down at the thick file he held in
his hands. It was Dillon's file. He'd spent a few minutes looking at it before coming to a
decision. "His file has nothing about his childhood or his nationality. Let's start with filling
in a few holes in his background. Can you do that?"
Yolanda nodded and her fingers became a blur as they manipulated the keys of the White
Dillon: Age 12
The snow was thigh deep and Dillon was sleepy and tired. The icy wind slashed at his face
through the thick scarf and goggles he wore. His hooded parka was warm despite the heavy
coating of ice that sheathed it.
He turned his head to look up at the Amazonian woman who held his gloved hand in hers.
She wore no parka or hat or goggles and she seemed impervious to the arctic winds. Her
shoulder length black hair was now pure white with ice. An eye patch covered her right
eye. Her face was that of a classic beauty, proud with high cheekbones. She was so strong
and Dillon loved her more than anything else he had loved in his young life.
"I'm tired," Dillon whimpered. She bent down and whispered to him, told him he only had
to be strong a little longer and soon they would be with friends who would look after them
and help them escape their pursuers. But it was hard to be strong. Dillon had forced himself
to be strong for so long. He remembered his father, a big, powerful man with a bristling
beard and a booming laugh, one that had shaken Dillon with awe that such a huge sound
could come from someone human. His father had disappeared when their enemies had
destroyed their island home and that was when Dillon had learned to be strong. But he
couldn't be strong any longer. He and the woman at his side had been on a horrendous
odyssey covering the entire world, pursued by hateful foes that slew in silence and mist.
They trudged through the snow. The woman looked back over her shoulder every few
minutes. She couldn't let the boy know just how exhausted she truly was. It would be
dangerous for him to know how desperate their situation had become. But it would all be
over soon. She would have kept her promise to her husband, a man she loved more than
Dillon stumbled and fell to his hands and knees. His feet and hands were numbed, even
through the thick mittens he wore. He couldn't go on. He was too tired, too cold. He just
didn't care anymore. He cried, hating himself for the weakness he was displaying in front
of the woman. He wasn't supposed to be weak. His father had always told Dillon that he
was a special boy who would grow up to be a special man. But right now he didn't feel
special at all. He felt like a crybaby. A weak, useless crybaby who would never, never
grow up to do all the special things his father had said he would do.
"Dillon! Get up!" The woman's voice was a scream, not of fear, but a harpy's war cry.
Dillon looked over his shoulder and felt his bladder go, his ski pants soaking with urine as
he watched death coming and coming damn fast.
Four tall men, all in baggy black clothes. No snow touched them. They would not allow it
to touch them. They had skin that was the gray of cold, dead ashes. They did not appear to
run but they came swiftly over the snow, leaving no track. Black baseball caps sat atop
their hairless heads and they carried large leather satchels that greatly resembled bowling
With a burst of fear-induced adrenaline the woman snatched Dillon up and swung him onto
"Hold on!" And she took off like a greyhound, all fatigue gone.
God, could she run! The world became a blur to Dillon as he wrapped his legs around her
waist and his arms around her throat, listening to her breathing as she ran flat out, not
allowing the four gray men to gain any ground, but not losing them either. Dillon hung on
with all his might, too scared to do anything. Why did the strange men want him dead?
Why had his peaceful and happy life, once upon a time spent on an idyllic island paradise
with a palace like Aladdin's, been turned into a constant, unending nightmare of pursuit
The woman was tiring. She could no longer maintain the pace she had set. But that was
fine with her. She had known this would be her final sprint; that she would blow herself out
once the adrenaline rush wore off. But her goal was in sight.
Ahead of them, a shining silver bridge that seemed woven from gossamer strands as
delicate as any spider's web spanned a deep gorge. The bridge was actually singing as the
arctic winds blew through it, and to Dillon the song sounded like one of hope. Stamped on
the arch of the bridge's entrance was a symbol: a golden circle surrounding a phoenix
holding a sword in one claw and a shield in the other.
The symbol of Shamballah, the City Eternal.
The four men would be on them before they could reach the bridge. But Dillon could make
it. Once he set foot on the bridge, he would be safe.
She swung Dillon from her back, set him on his feet, and her long arm thrust out to
point at the bridge. "Listen! Go to the bridge! Cross it and don't come back across it to the
"Aren't you coming with me?" Dillon asked wildly.
The gray men glided closer, their free hands opening the zippers of their satchels, even as
their faces split into ugly grins of red gums and jagged, overlapping teeth.
"No! You have to go! Don't be afraid. There are people on the other side, friends of
mine who will love you and care for you just as much as I do. Now go and do as I say!
She thrust Dillon away and he stumbled toward the bridge. The woman ripped her coat
open, pulled out a .44 Magnum revolver, and fired the last two shots she had been saving
for herself and Dillon. Two of the gray men fell, their skulls shattered by the heavy slugs.
Inky blood spilled onto the snow.
Dillon reached the bridge, ran across, and didn't stop until he had reached the other side.
He fell to his knees, gasping and coughing. He looked over his shoulder.
The woman had thrown away the empty gun and she faced her enemies with nothing
but her bare hands. She leaped like a tigress to fight her last, lonely battle at the top of the
world. Her last words drifted on the howling winds. "I love you, Dillon!"
The battle was savage and swift. Sharp objects in the hands of the gray men flashed
silver, then red. Blood spurted.
Dillon watched, horrified. And only one word burst from his throat in a howl of anguish.
Tipp blinked his eyes as the screen suddenly went black. So engrossed had he been in
the holographic representation that he'd actually been leaning forward in his seat. Tipp
looked into the White Room. Dillon's right hand had formed into a fist and his body was
jerking uncontrollably. His cheeks were wet with tears.
Yolanda pushed away from the console. She looked at Tipp with wide eyes. "My God...his
mother...she was butchered like a hog in a market."
"But where were they?" Tipp demanded. "Where were they going? Who or what were
those...things chasing them? Where does that bridge go? Why did you shut the program
"I didn't!" Yolanda scooted her chair back to the console and consulted her readouts.
"Dillon's fighting the drugs and the stimuli. He's got an incredibly strong will. Somewhere
in there, he knows we're probing his memories and he's fighting to keep them locked
inside. The White Room itself aborted the program so as not to cause him any permanent
physical or psychological damage."
Tipp took off his glasses and dry-washed his face with his hands before replacing them.
"Could what we just saw have been some kind of psychotic fantasy on his part?"
Yolanda shook her curly head. "Absolutely not. The White Room would have detected any
sort of abnormal brainwave activity. True, Dillon has some unusual brain activity I'm not
familiar with, but he's not crazy, I can tell you that."
"I want to know more. Can we go back to that point in his life?"
"I strongly advise against it. It's obvious that was a highly traumatic event in his life, and if
we force him to relive it yet again—"
"Point taken, Doctor. I don't want a vegetable on my hands. Very well. How about if we
jump ahead a few years and see what we can learn."
"Very well. But let's be careful how we go about this. We could open up another trauma
"Let's see what happened to him at...nineteen. How about that?"
Yolanda nodded and her nimble fingers again manipulated the keys of the White Room.
Dillon: Age 19
Dillon held his head up proudly as he climbed the nine hundred gold and marble steps
leading to the Andarran Tower, fortress and home of the Warmasters of Liguria. There was
joy in his heart, but sadness as well. He had caused his friends and teachers much pain
when he had announced his decision to leave Shamballah and return to the world. He could
not stay any longer. He had spent the past seven years in the care of the Warmasters, and
they had taught him well, taught him much, but what they had taught him in seven years
amounted to a single drop from a tall glass of water.
His teachers stood at the top of the stairs, awaiting him. Mister Om, the smiling Oriental
with the face of a thousand wrinkles. Serena, tall and slender as a rapier. James, the thickly
muscled African with a laugh much like Dillon's father. And Kerenos Ford, whose golden
eyes had looked upon Dillon these past seven years with much love and respect.
It was Kerenos Ford who had urged him to stay. "Your training has barely begun, my son.
Stay and become one of us. Become a Warmaster."
Dillon's answer had been full of regret, but firm nonetheless. "I've learned enough for what
I need to do. I have a quest I must pursue, and a vengeance I must enact if I am to sleep at
night without hearing the screams of my mother in my ears."
Kerenos Ford had dropped his head and could not look at Dillon. "You know that you may
not be able to find Shamballah again if you want to come back. It was a miracle your
mother was able to."
"I know." Dillon embraced the old warrior. "I know."
He reached the top of the stairs and knelt before his teachers. Kerenos Ford raised his right
hand, a hand that wore a beautiful gauntlet of silver and bronze. He laid his hand on
Dillon's head and—
Dillon's entire body jerked as if he were having a heart attack. Sweat flew from his skin as
he jerked and thrashed.
Tipp leaped to his feet. "My God, what's happening? Is he dying?"
Yolanda was madly punching buttons. "I've never seen anything like this! His entire
system is rebelling against the drugs and the electronic stimuli."
"You've got to get things back under control! I want to know who those people were!"
"I've got to stop the interrogation! Everything is redlining! If we continue we'll kill him!"
Dillon's body suddenly went slack and still. His head lolled to the side and saliva drooled
from his slack, open lips.
"What's going on now?"
"I won't know until I've examined him, dammit!" Yolanda snapped at Tipp.
"Is he dead?"
Tipp's cell phone bleeped for his attention. He fished it from a pocket and pressed a button.
"Sorry to disturb you, sir, but it's John Velvet, Director of the Machine."
"I know who Velvet is, dammit! What does he want?"
"He wants to speak to you, sir. Alpha Priority."
"Did he say how he knew I was here?"
"No, sir. But he doesn't sound a bit happy."
"Damn. Tell him I'll talk to him in ten minutes by Ethercom."
"Very good, sir."
Tipp put his phone away. "I have to use your Ethercom to talk with this man Velvet." He
pointed at Dillon. "You check him over and you get him ready. When I finish with Velvet,
I'll want to start the interrogation again."
"I've told you that we could kill him if we start opening up traumatic events in—"
"Dr. Merrydew, you have your orders. Either you carry them out or I'll find somebody who
will." Tipp brushed by the woman who could only watch him go with a look of hurt
astonishment on her face.
Tipp stepped into the Ethercom room and the gunmetal gray door sealed behind him with a
quiet, sibilant hiss. On a solid black dais were two chairs. Tipp sat in one and swiveled it to
face the other. He spoke to the room. "Gregory Tipp. Codename: Slalom. Priority
Clearance: Indigo Nine-Two. Ethercom Access PIN: 922902293."
The Ethercom communications system activated, and the air in the opposite chair
shimmered and glittered with multicolored patterns as the holographic image of John
Velvet appeared. The illusion that it was actually Velvet sitting there was almost perfect. In
the dim lighting, it was an effort to notice that his outline was just slightly blurry.
Tipp put a false smile on his face. Inside he was seething with anger and eaten up with
curiosity as to just who had betrayed his confidence to this man. Oh, he and Velvet weren't
friends by any stretch of the imagination, but neither were they enemies. The reality of the
lives they led was something that neither man deluded himself about. Tipp knew for a fact
that if it ever became necessary, Velvet would kill him with no more regret than putting out
a cigarette, and Tipp would do precisely the same to Velvet if he had to. But Tipp also had
a feeling he knew why Velvet had demanded this Ethercom talk.
"So what can I do for you, John? I hope you can make it quick. This Odin business has us
all rather busy over here." The sarcasm was not lost on Velvet. But he ignored it and got
down to business.
"I understand a bit of activity involving a man named Dillon started the whole thing. Way I
hear it, he's been leaving a trail of wrecked vehicles and dead bodies strewn all over your
"He's been more of a damned nuisance than anything else. I've wasted considerable
manpower and time tracking him down. He's blocked me at every opportunity. I gave him
a chance to come clean and help me out and he gave me his cheeky arse to kiss. He's a
menace, right enough."
"A menace that's been busy doing your job, the way I hear it."
"My job? How do you figure?"
"I mean that any one man who dropped the hammer on Cecil Henshaw, Alistair Frayne
and Aristotle Numby is more a public servant than a menace. I'm going to drink a toast
now that those three world-renowned pieces of shit have finally been flushed. Look, Greg,
I don't have any more love for Dillon than you do, but he doesn't deserve what you're going
to do to him there at Project: 65. Let me talk to him, what do you say? Dillon and I have
managed to work together in the past, and I'm sure I can get him to throw in with us on this
Odin thing. Put him on and let me talk to him."
The last thing Tipp wanted to have to admit to Velvet was that Dillon had already been
under intense interrogation in the White Room. He cleared his throat. "I'm doing a
preliminary investigation right now. I'd like to finish it before I let him talk to you."
Velvet didn't like the sound of that idea at all. "You didn't stick him in the White Room,
did you, Greg?"
"Would I do that?"
"Hell, yes. Who do you think you're talking to?"
Tipp's voice became harsh and brittle. "I don't want this to turn into something ugly
between us, John, especially since we're both going to have to work pretty closely until this
Odin is captured or killed. So let me clarify a few facts for you: Dillon is in possession of
information vital to the security of my country. Therefore, I will question him in any
manner I see fit until I am satisfied."
"You did use the White Room on him. Jesus, Greg!"
"Why are you so interested in this one mercenary? Level with me, John. Is he one of
"I want to talk to Dillon at the earliest opportunity, Greg. I mean it."
"This conversation is over. I see no reason to explain myself any further to you. Instead of
worrying about Dillon, you'd best be more concerned as to what is going to happen the
next time Odin speaks. Good day, John. I'll be in touch."
Upon Tipp's return to the White Room, he found Yolanda in near darkness, reviewing the
information from the interrogation. Dillon was gone. Tipp whirled upon the woman.
"Where is he? What have you done with him? Why was he moved without my express
Yolanda's voice was cold and brittle as a chunk of arctic ice. "Right after you left, he
slipped into some kind of coma."
"What do you mean, some kind of coma? A coma's a coma!"
"Not like this one. All his life signs plummeted to the barest minimum level that life
can still be supported. His brainwave activity has also been reduced to its lowest. It's as if
he's...switched himself off."
Tipp looked at her as if she had lost her mind. "Talk sense, woman! He's a human
being, not a blasted Vulcan out of Star Trek! Humans don't have on and off switches!"
"Then you examine him and explain to me what's wrong with him. That's the only way
I can describe it. It's as if there's some subconscious mental trigger that has thrown his
body into a state of deep hibernation to prevent us from getting any deeper into his
Tipp smiled in relief. Now they were moving out of the murky overcast desert plains of
mysticism and into the sun-splashed green country of rationality. "A post-hypnotic
suggestion. I've seen the like before."
Yolanda looked doubtful. She'd seen a technique such as the one Tipp was thinking of, but
she didn't think that applied to this particular situation. But since Tipp was the chief bottle
washer, she kept her thoughts to herself and merely continued to update him. "I've had
Dillon taken to a secure room where he'll be isolated and monitored until I examine him."
Tipp ground his teeth in frustration. "And how long do you think that will be?"
"I can't even begin to give you any sort of guesstimate until I've thoroughly examined
"I've got John Velvet nipping at my heels, demanding to talk to Dillon, and I can't have that
until I've finished with him. So here's what you're going to do: you're going to figure out
what he's done, and you're going to undo it so we can get back to interrogating him. Is that
"I won't be responsible for any psychological damage done to that man. Is that clear?
And I want it on the record that this is being done against my strongest recommendations."
"Noted. I don't have time to pussyfoot around with this one, Dr. Merrydew. Not when
the security of the world could be at stake."
"If that's true, and this man has what you're looking for, tearing his mind to bits won't
Tipp shrugged. "Won't hurt either. You go do your job while I do mine. I've got to talk to
the girl. Maybe she'll be able to shed some more light on this."
"And if she doesn't?"
"Then you'd best make sure that the White Room is ready for her."
Once again, Kris Quinlan found herself waiting to be interrogated by a stranger. It was
becoming a cruel sort of running joke. The room she had been escorted to was small and
comfortable, with no windows and no knob on her side of the door. Still, there was a
rolling cart with various types of club sandwiches, snacks, cookies, bite-sized cakes and the
like, and a pot of fresh hot coffee and a fifth of bourbon. Even though she didn't like
bourbon, Kris felt as if she could drink the whole bottle with a whoop and a holler. And the
first day of her imprisonment, she had done just that. Upon recovering from her binge, she
had found that the food and drink on the rolling cart was all fresh, having been replenished
while she was passed out.
She attempted to feign being asleep, reasoning that whoever was holding her might come
into her room to change the food and that would give her a chance to ask some questions.
However, she actually did fall asleep and when she awoke, the food was not only again
changed but several pairs of gray jumpsuits and plain white slippers had been placed near
her. Kris washed up as best she could in the stainless steel sink in the corner, donned the
fresh clothes, and after wolfing down several sandwiches, she hit the booze again.
And so she was still waiting, with no idea of how much time had passed or where Dillon
was. For that matter, she didn't even know if he was still alive or not. She poured herself a
half glass of the bourbon and sat down, aware that she was most likely being watched by
She felt shaky, yet outraged. This was becoming intolerable. In a matter of a few short days
her once secure and peaceful life had been completely changed. She had been closer to
death more times in the past several days than most people in their entire lifespan, and it
had all been caused by one strange man who possessed the most outstanding talents, two of
which were upsetting homicidal, psychotic maniacs and escaping certain death while
making it look easy.
The door swung open and Kris sized up the avuncular looking man who stepped into the
room. His horn-rimmed glasses and quiet brown business suit lent him the air of a boy's
school headmaster or a retired university professor. He smiled, somewhat shyly to her mild
surprise, and held out a hand as he crossed the room. "I think it's about time someone
explained to you exactly what's going on. My name is Gregory Tipp." He shook her hand
warmly, placing his other hand on top of hers in a gesture of camaraderie.
"Yes, that would be nice indeed. Can you tell me where I am?"
Tipp's eyes became sorrowful. Kris was hard pressed to tell if he was acting or not. He
certainly seemed regrettable. "I'm afraid I can't divulge that as yet, Miss Quinlan. I'm just a
go-between of sorts. My superiors send me in to ask questions, not answer them, and I take
your answers back to them. They'll go over them and once they're satisfied as to their
veracity, then they instruct me as to what information I may give you in turn. Do you
"I suppose so," Kris said slowly. It did make sense in a way. These people operated in
the shadows, that much she knew. And this man Tipp seemed so shy and quiet; he couldn't
be more than a glorified errand boy. He certainly wasn't the brutal and terrifying inquisitor
she had been expecting. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all...
"What I can tell you is that you are being held in the custody of the British Secret
Service, and I can only advise you that your complete co-operation will facilitate your
release that much quicker."
"Where's Dillon? What have they done with him?"
"Why...nothing." Tipp blinked owlishly and smiled that shy smile again. "He's in the
infirmary now where the medical staff is seeing to his wounds. The man seems to have
gotten somewhat injured in that to-do at Numby Castle."
Tipp motioned to a couch. "Please, relax yourself and let's go over exactly what this entire
affair is about, shall we? May I freshen your drink?"
Kris nodded, held out the glass, watched while Tipp dropped several ice spheres into it, and
then splashed a generous tipple of bourbon over them. He handed the glass back to her, sat
next to her on the couch, and leaned forward, his eyes quite mournful and sympathetic.
"First off, I want to assure you that in no way can Dillon harm you. He's being guarded at
all times and this room is on another level from the one he's on. There's no way he could
know where you are."
Kris frowned. "I'm very much afraid you've gotten your story backwards, sir. Dillon's been
no threat to me, other than the fact that I happen to be with him every time some lunatic
tries to kill him."
"Our intelligence was that he had kidnapped you from Lady Thelma Sharpe's estate, Miss
Quinlan." Tipp removed a small notebook from an inside pocket of his suit jacket and
thumbed through it. He was holding it in such a way that Kris couldn't see that the pages
were all blank. Tipp pretended to read one of the pages intently. "It would appear that
we've been mistaken about some aspects of this business. I'm sure you understand that I
must get your side of things in order to present a full report to my superiors."
"Of course." Kris didn't know if the warm glow filling her stomach was the bourbon or the
feeling of safety this man Tipp gave her, but she was feeling better than she had in days.
"May I ask a question first?"
"Certainly. I don't promise to answer it, though." Tipp smiled and gave her a conspiratorial
wink as if to say that he found the rules of the game as childish and petty as she did.
"Lady Thelma and Mr. Whalen were at the castle when everybody was running around
shooting and killing each other. Are they—"
"Lady Thelma is alive and well. She's safe, although she's at another facility. Whalen was
shot numerous times but he's still alive, God only knows how. The doctors tending him are
already bragging about the papers they'll write about him. But let's get back to you and
exactly how Dillon became involved in this..."
Nine levels down, Dillon lay on a bed, connected to five or six different machines that
monitored his vital functions. In addition, motion sensors would alert the staff if he moved
in the slightest. Dillon had no intention of moving, and he wouldn't for another four hours.
His training had been extraordinarily thorough, not just in the martial arts, but in mental
disciplines as well. His subconscious mind, aware that certain mental barriers were about
to be violated, had countered by placing him in a state of self-induced suspended
animation, in which his body could completely rest until his energy levels were brought
back up to peak performance. His conscious mind was still active and totally aware of
everything that had been said in his vicinity.
Dillon was seething with fury at the intrusion on his most painful and cherished memories.
What had happened to his mother was his pain...and his alone. And the only condition
placed upon him by the Phoenix Council of Shamballah when he left was that he keep the
secrets of the City Eternal. Shamballah's mysteries had to be protected at all costs, and
Dillon realized that whatever records were kept of his interrogation had to be found and
destroyed before he could leave Project: 65. And leave he would. And if Gregory Tipp
intended to hold him, Dillon would turn this entire island into a smoking crater if he had
Tipp put down his coffee cup and took off his glasses, rubbing his eyes. "I must say; that's
quite the story, Miss Quinlan. Full of derring-do and cliffhanging escapades, eh?"
"I realize some parts of it must sound utterly fantastic, Mr. Tipp, but I assure you that it's
Tipp replaced his glasses and chuckled. "My dear girl, it's not for me to judge the truth or
falsity of your story. My superiors will determine that. But it does seem as if Dillon has
been doing his best to keep you safe from harm, and I suppose we must credit him for
"Mr. Tipp, exactly who is Dillon? Where does he come from? Why does he do what
Tipp shrugged and refilled his coffee cup. "I first heard of Dillon maybe ten years ago.
He was in Vietnam trying to help a British industrialist find his daughter, who had gone
missing in those parts. Ended up finding the girl in some lost city where a band of crazed
Americans believed the war was still going on. From there, his reputation spread, and my
organization began to keep a file on him. There's hardly a country he hasn't been in at least
once. He's regarded as one the world's twelve most dangerous men, and he's well respected
and feared. He's wanted by half the law enforcement agencies in the world and has aided
the other half. He's got friends and enemies everywhere. He speaks more languages than
Berlitz teaches. He's extraordinarily proficient with many weapons, and his skill in the
martial arts is legendary." Tipp paused. "As for who he is and where he comes from? That's
unknown. No one has been able to find out where he was born or what his nationality is.
It's as if he didn't exist until ten years ago. Didn't he tell you anything about himself?"
"To be honest, we were too busy trying to stay alive."
Tipp laughed softly, finished his coffee, and placed the cup down. He stood up and brushed
his hands together briskly. "I think we're done here for now. I'm afraid I'm going to have to
leave you alone for a little bit while I report. You may want to try and get some sleep. If
you need anything else, just speak out loud. You'll be heard."
"Hidden microphones? I thought so."
"Of course, my dear. We are spies, after all."
Gregory Tipp found Yolanda Merrydew in her spacious, yet somewhat antiseptic and
impersonal office. Yolanda had no photographs or any sort of personal items of any sort in
her workspace. She was working at her computer, completing her report of Dillon's
interrogation. Tipp knocked politely on her door before entering. "Any change in Dillon's
"None. I've examined him thoroughly, and if it wasn't for the fact that our monitoring
equipment says he's still alive, I'd sign the death certificate myself. I've got a few ideas
about how to bring him out, though, and after I've gotten some sleep and a decent meal, I'll
go back to work on him."
"Excellent. I'm going to need your Ethercom again, if I may. Some representatives from
different intelligence agencies are going to come here and I need to coordinate their
"Of course. Feel free to use any of our facilities as you see fit." Yolanda gave Tipp a smile.
In reality, Tipp didn't have to ask her for a damn thing and she knew it. But he was asking
as a way of apologizing to her for his harsh words earlier.
"Maybe I'll try to grab an hour or two of sleep myself. And please do whatever you can to
bring Dillon out of that self-induced coma. According to the girl's story, I may be wrong
about his involvement in this."
"I'll do my best. That's all I can do, Gregory."
Much refreshed and relaxed after a dinner of scampi meuniere, Yolanda and one of her
assistants met at Dillon's room. Dr. Errol Wayans was a round, intense man of average
height in his early fifties. His eyes were large and watery, and his mournful, jowly face put
one in mind of the late Walter Matthau. He was quite interested in Dillon's case, as he had
conducted intensive research in his younger days into just this sort of thing. He related his
thoughts to Yolanda in a thick, slow voice.
"I've seen adepts and mystics who could do the same thing this fellow appears to have
done. You would have sworn they were dead as Julius Caesar, but after a few hours, they
brought themselves out of it and seemed to be healthier and more alert than before."
"So it's some sort of trance that speeds up and assists the healing process, then?"
Wayans nodded slowly. "It would seem so. Poisons and toxins are purged from the system
as well. The subject recovers with his full strength and facilities intact. It's really quite
remarkable. Where did this fellow learn to do this, I wonder?"
Yolanda shrugged to indicate she had no idea. They came to Dillon's room and Yolanda
used her security pass to unlock the door. They entered the room where the only sound was
the gentle, muted chirping of the monitoring equip- ment. Dillon lay on the bed like a dead
man. Yolanda and Wayans spent a few minutes checking the monitoring equipment. Then
they turned their attention back to Dillon. Wayans lifted one of Dillon's eyelids and flashed
the beam from a small penlight into the pupil. "Check his brain wave activity again, please.
I'm getting some strange dilations here."
"Of course." Yolanda turned her back for maybe nine seconds to check the desired
instrument, and when she turned back around, a strong hand covered her mouth. She was
looking into two sparkling copper eyes. Dr. Wayans lay on the floor by the bed,
"Do us both a favor," Dillon suggested in a deadly whisper. "Shut off all the security
systems monitoring this room and listen to me very carefully..."
Paris is a lovely city, full of romance, culture, and exotic diversions enough to satisfy even
the most jaded of tastes, attracting millions of tourists a year from all over the world. It is a
city accustomed to fun, gaiety, and tranquility, and it is not a city that is used to the terror
practiced by the man calling himself Odin.
The French government had been warned by email to have the Eiffel Tower evacuated by
10 AM Paris time. Odin did not want loss of life. He wanted only to demonstrate the power
of his Voice once more. He made it very clear that he did not want anyone to be hurt or
killed. This time. The purpose of this demonstration was to prove that he could strike
wherever he wished with his Voice. The French government decided to take the madman at
his word, and not only made sure that the Eiffel Tower was evacuated, they evacuated
every single building for a square mile around the world-famous landmark, and cordoned
off the perimeter.
By this time, a veritable army of news people had invaded Paris and set up positions
wherever they could in order to be able to get the best possible shot of the Eiffel Tower.
Live feeds went out all across the world on all the major news channels: CNN, MSNBC,
GlobalNet; they were all there, cameras ready to record whatever might happen.
Representatives from every major law enforcement and espionage agency were on hand as
well, with their own equipment to monitor the event.
The first sound was heard at exactly 10AM. A high pitched, shivering sound that did
in fact sound unpleasantly like a human voice striving to hit notes that a human voice was
never designed to touch. It seemed as if the keening cry rose higher and higher and that
was all. Nothing appeared to be happening to the Eiffel Tower itself.
The Voice changed pitch and tone suddenly, as if trying to find the right reverberation
to cause the tower's destruction, and indeed, shortly after the change, the Eiffel Tower
began to visibly quiver and tremble, like a plucked banjo string.
The Voice deepened, and the shivering quality became more pronounced as the Eiffel
Tower thrummed and vibrated like the world's largest tuning fork, and then, incredibly,
simply burst into tons upon tons of powder.
The world watched in incredulous horror as the Eiffel Tower, reduced to a mountain of
pulverized, powdered metal, began to blow away. Once the crowning glory of the
magnificent City of Light, it was now nothing more than fine particles that were being
carried away on the wind.
Deep in some hidden sanctum, Odin laughed in mad, delighted glee, satisfied in his
hideous power, reveling in the delicious black fear that he was spreading over an entire
planet as he contemplated the next step in his insidious plan...
Yolanda Merrydew heard Dillon out completely without interruption; fascinated, and more
than a little captivated, by this strange man with the compelling, vibrant voice and bright
copper eyes that seemed to radiate trust. She pointed at her unconscious colleague. "You
didn't hurt him, did you?"
"Certainly not. I just wanted to talk to you alone. You appear to be the only person
sympathetic toward me on this entire island."
Yolanda leaned forward slightly and placed a hand on Dillon's cheek. "When I was
interrogating you inside the White Room, there was a memory of your mother. She died a
horrible, lonely death to save you. And I don't think she sacrificed herself for an evil
purpose. No. Whatever it is she was saving you for, it couldn't be anything evil..."
"Then you'll help me get out of here? All I need for you to do is to get me to the airfield."
Yolanda's pretty face darkened. "May I ask why?"
"So I can steal a plane, of course."
"You make it sound so simple."
"Well, it's not like boosting a '67 Chevy from a 7-11 parking lot, but I have had some
experience at this sort of thing. We'll need to pick up Kris Quinlan as well."
"You're not going to take her with you, are you? I think she'd be safer here."
Dillon shook his head in a firm negative. "Once I blow this pop stand, Tipp's not going to
be a very happy man. I wouldn't want him taking out his anger at me on her."
Yolanda reluctantly nodded in agreement. "I just hope I'm doing the right thing here."
Dillon flashed his easy grin. "Trust me. Helping to save the world ranks up there pretty
high on my to-do list."
Kris was just emerging from a restless sleep in which she was being chased by a Lady
Thelma with turkey feet and great crimson batwings when the door of her room opened
and Dillon stuck his head inside.
"Loooocie! You got some 'splainin' ta do!" he said, in a flawless Desi Arnaz voice.
"Dillon!" Kris squealed, and raced across the room to embrace him fiercely. Dillon grinned
and impulsively kissed her warmly on the lips. Kris kissed him back, and hugged him as
tight as she could.
"Hey, if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were happy to see me, kid," Dillon said. He
motioned for Yolanda to enter the room, and she closed the door behind her. "This is Dr.
Merrydew. She's on our side, and she's going to help us get out of here."
Kris pushed back her mane of hair and looked confused. "But it's okay! I took care of
Dillon's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What exactly do you mean that you took care of
everything? Have you been talking to anybody?"
Kris's head bobbed up and down in the affirmative. "I talked to this wonderfully nice man
named Tipp who said that he's going to talk to his superiors about us. I told him the whole
story and he was ever so nice and—"
Kris stopped as she saw the dismayed expressions on the faces of Dillon and Yolanda.
Both of them looked as if they'd just heard some truly awful news indeed. "But what's the
"You told Gregory Tipp everything?" Dillon said in a somewhat strangled, strained
"Well...yes...He said that he was just a go-between, but if I trusted him and told him
everything, he'd report back to his superiors and he'd..." Kris trailed off as she watched
Dillon and Yolanda trade dismayed glances. "Will one of you tell me what the hell you're
so worried about?"
"My dear, Gregory Tipp is in charge of Project: 65," Yolanda explained, "as well as quite a
few other divisions and operations of the British Secret Service. In fact, there's not too
many higher than him."
Kris's eyes opened so wide that it would have almost been comical if the situation hadn't
been so desperate. "But he seemed so nice and understanding..."
Yolanda gestured at Dillon. "That nice and understanding man ordered me to subject
your friend to a highly dangerous form of technological torture in an effort to find out what
he knew, and I assure you that if you hadn't talked as freely as you did, you would have
Kris looked at the older woman with a slightly dazed expression, as if she'd been
rabbit punched. "Torture? What do you mean?"
"That's what I do, my dear. I'm an interrogator by profession."
"And that reminds me of another favor I've got to ask of you." Dillon gently laid his hands
on Yolanda's shoulders and looked deep into her eyes. "Whatever records you have of my
interrogation needs to be destroyed."
"Has it got something to do with those strange people I saw?"
Dillon nodded. "After my mother was killed, those people became my family. And they
only allowed me to leave once I promised I would keep their secrets safe from the rest of
the world. Please. If you trust me this far, then trust me a little further and destroy whatever
"Of course I will. You have my word on it."
Kris had listened to this exchange, which was just a meaningless babble to her. The only
thing she was concerned about was getting as far away from here as possible. "Dr.
Merrydew, is there anything you can do to get us out of here?"
"I think so."
"What about your equipment?" Kris said.
"I'll have to leave it. We've pushed our luck enough as it is. I don't know where Tipp is, but
it's a sure bet that he's going to—"
The blare of an alarm cut off the rest of his sentence. Yolanda finished it for him. "Find out
that you're gone any minute now, correct?"
Dillon jerked his head toward the door. "Come along, Kris. I do believe it's time for us to
Gregory Tipp was livid with rage as he stormed into the main control center housed
in the administrative wing. "How did he escape? How?"
A security officer was speaking into a walkie-talkie, coordinating the search effort. He
turned to Tipp. "We think he's got Dr. Merrydew as a hostage, sir. I'm having a search done
"Search my arse! Shut down the entire island and shut it down now! I want Dillon
brought to me in the next half hour or the lot of you will be in the Arctic searching icebergs
for militant penguins! Now move!"
Dillon and Kris abandoned all pretense of trying to sneak to the hangar, and ran across the
tarmac. Guards yelled at them to halt, and fired warning shots in the air as they spotted
them. Dillon ordered Kris to ignore them, and they dashed inside the hangar where a
number of airplanes were lined up. Dillon ran an expert eye over the eight or so aircraft and
pointed at a small fighter jet. He helped Kris up the ladder into the rear seat, and he
tumbled into the pilot seat.
He'd flown this model before, the small but lethal Artemis fighter, that in a pinch,
could do in the neighborhood of Mach 4 for a short amount of time. The armament was
pretty standard, but able to keep bigger and more powerful planes at bay. The canopy
closed just in time as small machine gun fire spanged off the armored glass. Kris screamed
and scrunched down in the cramped seat as far as she could.
"Don't worry! They'd have to bring up something a lot heavier than what they've got
now to blast us out of this crate."
"Could you just get us the hell out of here and save the dissertation for later?" Kris
"Strap in!" Dillon scanned the board quickly. It had been a while since he'd flown an
Artemis, but things were quickly coming back to him, thanks to the rapidly mounting
pressure. Men were ringing the aircraft, demanding that they come out and surrender.
Dillon ignored them and began the pre-flight sequence. The turbines boomed into life and
soldiers scattered as the fighter began to move, taxiing out of the hangar doors smoothly
and easily, if a bit too slowly for Kris's liking.
Dillon threw a cheery wave at her over his shoulder. "Piece of cake! We'll be airborne
in no time."
The Artemis stopped dead, some one hundred feet out of the hangar. Dillon looked at
the computer screen, which was displaying a truly depressing bit of information:
PRE-FLIGHT ABORTED. COMMAND OVERRIDE ENABLED.
Now jeeps were racing toward them as well as more soldiers on foot, brandishing heavier
weapons that Dillon was fairly positive could pierce the armor of the fighter with no
"What are you doing?" Kris screamed.
"Fucking up," Dillon muttered as his fingers flew over the small keyboard, trying to
remember how to override the override and regain control of the plane. The message
changed abruptly and now read:
MISSILE CLUSTER ONE ENABLED.
From the plane's belly, a sphere was deployed, popped downward and fired thirty
pineapple sized missiles in all directions around and away from the Artemis. The resulting
chaotic destruction was nothing short of spectacular. A pair of jeeps were hit in their
engines and were blown into the air, flipping over and over, throwing men in all directions,
before crashing back onto the tarmac. Other jeeps collided as the drivers cursed and turned
the steering wheels frantically to evade the missiles.
Tires screamed in protest and blew. One jeep was hit dead bang in the gas tank and it
leaped into the air on a trail of orange fire, spewing ribbons of blazing gasoline that struck
several men. They immediately forgot all about trying to capture Dillon, and ran about,
screaming, until their comrades could grab them, throw them to the tarmac, and extinguish
the fires before their spare ammo clips got hot enough to explode.
Five of the missiles streaked into the hangar, struck oil drums, a helicopter, and two other
planes as the hangar exploded in an orange fireball that threw burning debris all over the
airfield. Men were knocked flat by the sheer force of the hellish detonation, and more than
a few of the soldiers got on their radios, screaming for assistance, convinced they were not
trying to capture one man but rather they were under a full scale air strike.
The airfield was quickly covered by a thick, choking cloud of black, sooty smoke that
made it impossible to see anything more than three feet in any direction. Men were firing
wildly, hitting their own comrades in their panic. Never had any of them seen anything like
this. Carnage like this simply wasn't supposed to happen at Project: 65.
A couple of the soldiers had the discipline to remember what they were supposed to be
doing and they ran to the plane, weapons at the ready. One man pulled down the ladder and
another scampered up, gun at the ready, his eyes murderous and hate-filled.
The canopy was open and the plane empty. Dillon and Kris were gone.
Dillon and Kris were watching all this from the relative safety of a smaller hangar they
were now taking refuge in. Kris peered over Dillon's shoulder timidly. "Is this going
according to plan?"
Dillon's answer was uncharacteristically short and to the point: "No."
"Then how are we going to get out of here?"
"We start by giving ourselves up."
"You must be joking. You just blew up their airfield and now you want to surrender?"
"Just follow my lead and whatever you do, say absolutely nothing, no matter what."
Dillon placed his hands on top of his head and walked out of the hangar boldly. Kris
sighed, offered up a short prayer, and followed his example. In seconds, they were
surrounded by a mob of angry soldiers, all pointing their weapons at them and looking as if
they wished mightily for a chance to use them.
Dillon looked as innocent as dear old Santa Claus himself. "Take me to your leader."
Dillon sipped from a bottle of spring water and watched as Gregory Tipp entered the bare
interrogation room, which looked pretty much the same as every other interrogation room
Dillon had ever been in. Four gunmetal gray walls. A single, harsh light in the ceiling
protected by a wire mesh covering. A square table. Two chairs. A one-way window in the
wall facing Dillon.
Tipp sat down across the table and extended his hand. "I'm Gregory Tipp."
Dillon nodded. "Dillon. It's a pleasure to meet you at last." The two men shook hands
"I must say, it's strange to be sitting face to face with you like this after chasing you for so
Dillon sat back easily in the chair, interlaced fingers on top of his head. "And doing an
excellent job of it, I might add. Now I know how the Roadrunner feels. You and Wile E.
Coyote must have trained together."
Tipp frowned. "Who? Is he an American agent?"
Dillon sighed. "Never mind. Shall we get down to business?"
"I'd say it's past time. Odin's busy destroying the world while we're playing games with
"You got most of the story from the Quinlan girl."
"Yes. And it may surprise you to hear that I've come to be convinced that even if you're not
on our side, then at least you're not working for Odin."
"Well, thank you very much. You said something about Odin destroying the world. What's
been going on?"
Tipp informed him, ending with the destruction of the Eiffel Tower. Dillon listened with
his sparkling copper eyes half-closed, rocking back on the rear legs of his chair. When
Tipp was finished, Dillon spoke quietly. "How familiar are you with vibratory wave pattern
Tipp shrugged. "I may know a thing or two. Tell me what you know and then I'll tell you
what I know. Fair enough?"
"Sounds like Odin has got his hands on some kind of sonic weapon. Which is a very
dangerous thing to have, and even more dangerous, not to mention downright stupid, to
"Sonic weapons disrupt the vibratory wave patterns of solid matter. But like throwing a
pebble into a still lake of water, it creates ripples that spread outward, always outward,
until coming into contact with something that causes still more ripples. It's like that old
wheeze about the beating of a butterfly's wings in Brazil causing a hurricane in China."
Tipp nodded. "You're talking side effects. Odin's not only disrupting the wave patterns of
his targets, but of everything else on some level."
"If I were you, I'd start tracking abnormal weather patterns. It's my guess that there's some
truly funky weather starting to form in parts of the world it has no place being. The more
Odin uses his Voice, the more disruptions of weather patterns will occur. This will
continue until we have tidal waves, tsunamis, and eventually, earthquakes. Odin thinks he's
got the perfect weapon, but what he's really got is Pandora's Box. And he just keeps
opening and closing the lid. Sound is a fundamental force of nature, and he's a barking mad
asshole if he thinks he can control it by flipping a switch on and off."
Tipp was stroking his chin and looking at Dillon curiously. "And just exactly how do
you know all this?"
"I read a lot. There's a vault in the United States, located in Colorado, buried two miles
straight down. Inside this vault are literally tons of secret files that won't be released to the
public until the year 2197. I was bored one day and broke in just to have something to do,
and then I spent the next fifteen days going back and forth reading the good stuff. Want me
to tell you what really happened to Amelia Earhart?"
"Don't be flip with me!"
Dillon shrugged. "Suit yourself. Anyway, some of those documents detailed an experiment
done back in 1976, I think it was. Somebody built a sonic bomb and tested it on a mountain
in Australia. The bomb reduced a seventy thousand foot high mountain to dust in twenty
minutes, and the resultant 'ripple effect' was felt for some one hundred square miles from
the detonation point. After that, NATO and the World Security Council forbade any more
experimentation or testing of sonic weapons. It scared the pure dee piss outta 'em."
Tipp was sitting with his hands splayed out on the table, each and every finger neatly
spread out. His eyes were hard and remote. He seemed as if he were having an internal
"Greg? You want some of my water?"
"I would prefer you call me Tipp. But if you insist on being familiar, then call me
"Sure, Greg." Dillon grinned insolently. "How about that water?"
"Have you ever heard the name Leopold Gynt?"
Dillon thought for a minute, and then shook his head in a negative.
"Leopold Gynt was a brilliant scientist who devoted his life to the field of harmonics and
wave pattern theory. Back in 1971, he demonstrated a sonic weapon for representatives of
many of the world intelligence agencies. I wasn't there, but two people were whom you
know. John Velvet, who at that time was Deputy Director of the Machine and Lady
Thelma Sharpe, who was working for us at the time."
"By us, you mean the Secret Service."
"Exactly. Leopold Gynt's weapon was a spectacular success, and it was he who built
the sonic bomb and tested it."
Dillon's eyes opened wider in sudden realization. "Then this Gynt...he's Odin, I take it?"
"Yes. Yes he is. And I think I know where he is. Are you up to taking him on?"
Dillon's copper eyes darkened into molten gold. "Sounds like you're talking a deal,
"Indeed I am."
"Then let's get down to it. As I told Dr. Merrydew, saving the world is pretty high on my
Tipp's personal briefing room was certainly more comfortable and relaxed than the
interrogation room. Dillon made for the plushest looking chair in the room and flopped into
it with a sigh of pure contentment.
"Now this is more like it," he said with an amiable grin. Tipp snorted in derision, walked
over to his desk, and unlocked it, withdrawing a thick file folder from a drawer. Inside the
folder were a number of minidisks held in clear plastic pouches. Tipp motioned at the black
octagonal table in the center of the room. Dillon leaned forward, his copper eyes sparkling
with interest as he sipped from his bottle of water.
Tipp placed one of the minidisks into a slot on the top of the table, and it automatically
came to life, holographic displays floated in the air above the table's surface, slowly
revolving. "You're looking at digital holos of the destruction that has already been done by
the Voice of Odin," Tipp said, seating himself across the table from Dillon so that the two
men were looking at each other through the holograms. "Never in their wildest
imaginations did anybody think a weapon like this could actually be built, much less used."
"Well, that's the bad thing about weapons, isn't it, Greg? There's not much point in building
them if you're not going to use them, right? It's a dilemma that goes back to the first
caveman who clunked a wild pig on the head with the first club ever made. How long do
you think it took him before he started wondering how that club would sound going upside
the head of the guy living in the cave next door?"
"Spare me your simplistic moralizing. You live in a fantasy world of good guys and bad
guys and think everything can be explained on those terms."
"You've got a madman out there holding the world hostage with a weapon that can
destroy by sound, and you've got the balls to say I'm living in a fantasy world?" Dillon
chuckled, tossed his empty water bottle behind him. It arced through the air and landed
neatly in the waste bucket by the door. Tipp's eyes opened wide in amazement. "You got
something stronger than water? If I have to listen to your bullshit I'd rather do it while
having a decent drink."
"There's a bar behind you." While Dillon got up to hunt a bottle of Demarara rum,
Tipp continued. "As I've told you, Leopold Gynt was probably the world's greatest expert
in harmonics and wave pattern theory. After the incident with the sonic bomb back in '76,
Gynt fully expected that he would be contracted to make more weapons. He wasn't. By all
reports, he was bitter and angry that so many years of work went for nothing. He
disappeared from the public eye for a time, maybe about a year or so before resurfacing in
"You keep talking about Gynt in the past tense, but you also said that you think he's Odin.
Now, he's either dead, in which case somebody else is using his work to carry out these
attacks, or he's still alive. Which is it?"
"He was in his early fifties back in '76, so if he's still alive today, he'd be an old man. I
think he'd be quite capable of directing these attacks, but he'd need help to do so, and I
think that perhaps his two sons would be more than happy to provide that help."
Dillon sat down with his glass of rum, watched as Tipp inserted another disk, and the
holograms shimmered and changed. Now he was looking at two young men. One with a
mustache and large, mournful eyes, and the other somewhat beefier, with a cunning glare
that bespoke of a devious mind.
"Gynt's sons. Donovan and Paul Gynt. After the sonic bomb test, Gynt relocated his family
to Antofagasto, Chile, and desperately sought backers for his sonic experiments."
"Seems to me that there would be a lot of organizations and individuals who wouldn't mind
throwing a couple hundred million into a project like that. He wouldn't have much of a
problem finding decent funding."
Tipp smiled sharkishly. "And he would have if it wasn't made clear that both British and
American intelligence agencies were keeping a close eye on Gynt. We had no intention of
using his sonic weapons and we damned well weren't going to let someone else get their
hands on them either. Anytime someone approached Gynt, they were...discouraged from
pursuing the matter further."
Dillon chewed on an ice cube thoughtfully. "Why didn't you just kill Gynt?"
"It was a joint decision made by the heads of the allied intelligence agencies. There was an
outside chance that the time would come when we would have need of a sonic bomb. So
Gynt was left unmolested and alive. But watched."
"And you wonder why the bastard's got a mad on." Dillon shook his head. "You went to
him and said 'pal, dream us up the most frightening weapon in mankind's history' and he
did exactly what he was asked. His only fault was that he did too good a job and so he was
ostracized and exiled. He wasn't allowed to continue to develop or refine his work and no
one would use what he'd already done. This was after he spent the majority of his life
working on this. A life wasted."
Tipp sighed. "Again, your schoolboy moralizing is totally irrelevant to this situation. I
thought you wanted a deal."
"I haven't heard one yet."
"It's a very simple one." Tipp tossed the file on the table. "There's everything I've got about
Gynt and his two sons. I'll give you a plane and send you on your way. If you get on Odin's
trail and find where he is, you make a phone call to me. That's it."
"Don't you have agents down there in Chile hunting for the Gynt boys already?"
"I would say that most of the world's top intelligence agents are down there now looking
for them. Both of the Gynts have vanished, by the way."
Dillon sat back, a shrewd look in his eyes. "So why would you think that one man would
be able to do what all those fancy secret agents with their laser gun pens and secret decoder
Tipp shrugged. "You're supposed to be highly intelligent with excellent deductive abilities.
You figure it out."
"Oh, I already have." Dillon got up to make himself another drink. "Seems to me that if
Gynt has been watched as carefully as you claim he has, then where the hell did he get the
time and more importantly, the money to build this thing without anybody noticing what
the hell was going on?"
Tipp nodded. "Incredible. You can think. Go on."
"Which means that Odin's somehow infiltrated the intelligence community network to such
a degree that he was able to feed back false information. Or there's a government
sponsoring Odin behind your back, and they're the ones who have been funding him and
covering for him all these years."
Tipp nodded. "You see my dilemma. It hardly makes a difference how many agents there
are down there or how good they are if there are other forces working against them,
feeding them false information, sending them on wild goose chases."
Dillon sipped his drink. "We could be talking about a rogue cell inside of an established
agency. Hell, Greg, it could be right inside yours."
Tipp nodded. "That's why I'm willing to take a chance on you. And you've got your own
lookout as well. Odin's not about to forget all the problems you've caused him. I daresay
he's still got his people looking for you."
"I hope they're people he's got no more use for 'cause anybody he sends after me I'm going
to send right back in doggie bags." Dillon raised his glass. "You've got a deal."
"Excellent." Tipp stood up to shake hands. Dillon reached out and then hesitated. Tipp
frowned. "What's wrong?"
"Kris Quinlan. You think you could do me a solid and see that she gets back to London
"As a matter of fact, I was hoping you'd take her with you."
Dillon looked at Tipp as if the man had burst out singing 'Some Enchanted Evening.'
"Greg, I'm going to South America. What am I going to do with her?"
"I'd rather not have her here. I'm going to have the devil of a time as is explaining why half
of the bloody island is in flames! And she can't very well go back to England. How long to
you think it would be before Odin's agents got a line on her and kidnapped or killed her?"
"So take her somewhere and stick her in a safe house or something. Dammit, Greg, I've
already dragged that woman through enough!"
"Doesn't she come from somewhere in South America originally?" Tipp asked. "Cristobal,
I think? Would it be that much of a problem to drop her off there? Surely she's got family
down there who can look after her until this business is over."
Dillon's lips quirked as he thought it over. "Okay, okay, I supposed that would be best for
everybody all way round. I'll do it. You'll give me back my stuff and bring Kris to the
"Of course...just let me see if I can hunt up a plane that you haven't destroyed yet..."
Dillon climbed out of the 928 Lambert, a beautifully designed, gull-winged aircraft
designed for long distance flights. He had run through the pre-flight check and personally
fueled the plane himself. Although Tipp had given orders that Dillon was to be left alone,
several of the soldiers were standing a respectful distance away, idly stroking their hand
grenades and every once in a while throwing him looks most foul. Dillon couldn't blame
them a bit. He had made the security of Project: 65 look like a joke, and hurt, maimed and
even killed a few of the supposedly elite security force. And now here he was being given
an aircraft and being allowed to fly away just like that. One of them might just take it into
his head to say the hell with it and chuck a grenade at him. Of course, Dillon had no
intention of standing there while this happened but he understood the feeling behind it. He
didn't know if he could have had that much discipline if the shoe was on the other foot.
Tipp had found him the airplane and a relatively undamaged section of the airfield to work
and take off from when he was ready. The fires had been put out and the wreckage
removed with the aid of a pair of bulldozers and several forklifts, but it would take a
considerable amount of work to get the airstrip back in shape for regular flights to and from
Gregory Tipp drove up in a jeep with Kris Quinlan next to him. Kris was wearing a cobalt
blue jumpsuit with her riot of golden hair tucked under a black cap with a stingy brim.
Dillon's eyes lit up as he saw that Kris had his equipment bag slung over her shoulder. The
soldiers, seeing Tipp, muttered among themselves and moved away. The air was still tangy
with the smell of burning gasoline and metal. Dillon and Tipp watched the soldiers slowly
"I think if you hadn't shown up, there might have been a lynching," Dillon said.
"You killed four of their mates and put eighteen others in intensive care. Six of them might
not make it. You really don't give a rat's ass about the consequences of your actions, do
you? I've heard for years that you're a bloody menace and now after seeing you in action, I
see that the stories weren't exaggerated. I'll be cleaning up your mess for months."
Dillon's eyes darkened to molten gold as he answered; "I'm gonna tell you something for
free, Greg. You can kiss my dimpled black ass, okay? Nobody told you to stick me in your
torture chair and try to turn my brains into tapioca. Way I see it, we're even."
Kris was standing by the door of the plane with Dillon's bag. "Dillon, can we just go?
He nodded. "This isn't getting us anywhere. She's right. Best if I just go on and hold up my
end of the deal."
Tipp nodded. "Remember, you have no official standing with me. You run into the wrong
crowd and that's your lookout. The only thing I expect from you is a call when you've
found Odin." Tipp rattled off a string of numbers. "That's a secure number where you can
reach me, night or day." Dillon nodded and turned away but was stopped by Tipp's firm
hand on his elbow.
"Yes, there's damn well something else. Our truce lasts only until Odin is either caught or
killed. Once that happens, I'll be coming after you. I don't much like the thought of a man
with your secrets and talents and acquired knowledge of things you have no business
knowing running around. You need to be controlled."
Tipp felt a tug at his waist and suddenly, Dillon was pointing Tipp's own gun right at his
left eye. "Then maybe I should blow what passes for your brains outta your head right now
and get it over with," Dillon snarled. "You honestly think I wouldn't?"
Tipp smiled with absolutely no fear whatsoever. "Not your way. Oh, you could kill me if I
were coming at you with a weapon, sure. But like this? Not bloody likely."
Dillon stood with the gun pointed at Tipp's head. He actually seemed to be thinking it over
and for a second, Tipp saw something in Dillon's eyes that made him think that he had
made a very bad mistake indeed.
Then the moment had passed. Tipp felt his gun being jammed back into its holster and his
shoulders relaxed. "I suggest you get on that plane now."
"And I suggest you stay as far away from me as you can, Tipp. I can only be pushed so far
and you've just used up any and all debts I might have owed you. Stay off of my ass. I
mean what I say."
Dillon climbed aboard the plane and closed the hatch, dogging it shut securely, then went
up to the cockpit. He had intended to scan the plane for bugs but right now he just wanted
to get the hell away from Tipp as fast as he could. Kris was in the co-pilot's seat, hands
folded in her lap. Dillon dropped into the pilot's seat and slipped a headset on, waiting for
the control tower to confirm that he could leave. It was necessary for them to verify that he
had a clear path since he would have to cut across several commercial airline routes in
order to clear British air space in the shortest amount of time.
Kris looked at Dillon; saw the anger in his face and the impatient way he manipulated the
controls. "You were honestly thinking about killing him, weren't you?"
"If it hadn't been for one thing, I'd've killed him dead as Julius Caesar." Dillon muttered.
"Of course, you! If I had killed him we'd have never gotten off this miserable rock alive
and I figure that after everything you've been through, the least I can do is take you to
"Because I can't leave you here and I'm going to South America, that's why! Anything else
you want to know?" Dillon began taxiing into position for take-off.
"That man Tipp told me you were going after Odin. I want to come along and help."
"Surely you must be joking. I don't know if you've been paying close attention or not but
people have been getting killed on a pretty regular basis lately. And if you thought it was
bad before, then things are really going to heat up."
Kris said quietly but firmly, "I'm involved in this. I have been from the start, even though I
tried to delude myself into believing that I wasn't. I've done a lot to hurt you and hold you
back. You've saved my life at every turn despite my being such a fool. I really want to
Dillon looked at Kris and sighed. "Oh, what the hell. You might as well come to Chile for a
while at any rate. Maybe you can be useful until the bullets start flying."
Kris grinned and settled back in her seat as Dillon received his clearance. He gunned the
engines, sending the plane speeding down the runway. Shortly, it was in the air, streaking
through the sky in a burst of speed. Dillon allowed a small smile to play across his lips.
Somewhere out there, Odin was waiting for him, and somehow he knew that very soon
they were going to at last stand face to face. And then the fun would really start.
Kris ate her second small bowl of pistachio ice cream slowly. She was beginning to think
that just maybe Dillon wasn't coming back for her. They had landed in Chile six hours ago
on a secret airfield that wasn't such a secret to Dillon obviously. When she had asked how
he found out about it, he had simply pointed at his laptop and she remembered the
underground network he had told her about back on the train. That seemed as if it had
taken place years ago, so much had happened since then.
Dillon had bargained with one of the men at the airfield to drive them into Antofagasto
where Dillon had escorted Kris to a restaurant. He had then spoken directly with the
manager and returned to the rear booth where she sat. "Wait here. No matter how long it
takes, just sit and relax. Order whatever you want, the manager will take care of you. If you
want something to read like newspapers or magazines, do NOT go out for it yourself. Tell
the manager and he'll send one of his people to get it for you."
"But where are you going? Why can't I come with you?"
"Because I've got a lot of fast moving and some sneaky underhanded things I've gotta do
and it's better for you that you don't be there when I do them. Just eat and relax."
"What did you say to the manager? Why is he going to let me sit here ordering anything I
want without paying?"
"I'll pay him later. And he's letting you sit here because he thinks you're Christina
Aguilera doing research for your upcoming starring role in Mission: Impossible 3."
Dillon grinned. "Improvisation is very important in this business. Catch you later."
But Kris was beginning to think that all that was just one of Dillon's scams to get her out of
harm's way. She was tired of eating and she had a small stack of magazines and
newspapers at her elbow that she had read through twice at least. And she had taken some
eight photos with the manager and his family and signed five autographs for him that he
was probably trying to sell on eBay right now, she thought wryly.
At last the restaurant door was thrown open and Dillon strode in. He no longer wore his
'working clothes' and was dressed in a midnight blue double-breasted Armani suit. He had
a fresh haircut and shave, and he looked more like a business executive than the
rough-and-tumble adventurer she had become accustomed to. He winked at Kris while he
paid off the manager with the local currency.
"Sorry I took so long. Let's go." Dillon helped an indignant Kris out of her seat but she
angrily yanked her arm away from his helpful hand.
"Did you stop to think that maybe I might have liked a change of clothes as well? Not to
mention a hot shower or bath? How can you be so selfish?"
"Hey! Don't be like that! I told you I had things I had to do. Everything is all set for you.
You'll be taken care of at the villa."
"Villa? What villa? Where?"
"The villa I just bought on the outskirts of the city." Dillon held the door of the restaurant
open for her and gestured. "There's our ride."
Kris's lower jaw sagged open in astonishment. A long bronze Mercedes-Benz limousine
was idling at the curb, the driver holding the rear passenger open for them. Kris, frankly
dazed and astonished, allowed herself to be helped into the back seat, which appeared to be
large enough to host a good sized party. Her eyes roved over the CD/DVD player, the
satellite flat screen television with twenty-inch screen and the compact but fully stocked
bar. The driver closed the door, resumed his seat and soon they were moving into traffic.
Dillon was opening a bottle of champagne while Kris found her tongue. "How in God's
name did you pay for all this?"
He finally got the bottle open and poured champagne for them both in tall crystal flutes as
he answered. "I've got pretty hefty accounts stashed in banks here and there. It was just a
matter of me transferring funds to a bank down here. And then I had to purchase a villa to
use as a base of operations. No point in going to a hotel and advertising to Odin and his
organization that I'm down here."
"But the bank will have records of the transfer of your funds, won't they?"
"No, because I used my laptop to wipe the transfer records clean. Cost me a pretty penny in
bribe money, let me tell you. But I've got other enemies besides Odin and I couldn't take
the chance that they'll trace me down here. I've got enough on my plate without worrying
about old baggage."
"So what do we do now?"
Dillon held his flute of champagne up and clinked it against hers. "We get you cleaned up,
rest up and then we work on a plan for finding Donovan and Paul Gynt and through them,
their daddy Odin."
Chew Mi lay naked on a huge beach towel, tanning herself. The intense South American
sun was just perfect for getting an all-over tan and Chew Mi had been appalled at just how
pale her skin was once she had arrived here. After a bit of difficulty locating them, she had
successfully made contact with the Gynt brothers. It was unfortunate that it had involved a
bit of killing, but then again, breaking a neck here and there hardly bothered Chew Mi.
The Gynts had brought her to one of their plantations, some thirty miles outside of
Antofagasto. This particular one was a rubber plantation, one of several they had purchased
through falsified documents and smokescreens of fake identities. It was easy to hide in
Chile, even in this day and age of ultra-sophisticated high tech equipment, if one knew how
to make that self-same technology work to cover one's tracks.
Donovan and Paul were playing tennis nearby while Chew Mi took in her tanning.
Occasionally she would lift her head to watch them. They didn't look much like brothers
she had noticed from the start. Donovan was the taller, mustached Gynt with the slim build
of a fencer or dancer. His glowering, mournful eyes lent him an air of melancholy and
misery. Paul was the shorter, more muscular Gynt. He was also the sneakier brother by far.
Donovan was a methodical planner where Paul was simply a born backstabber.
The tennis game was interrupted by one of the servants coming from the huge three-story
mansion and walking down the wide marble path to the tennis court. "Secure
communications for you, sirs. And madam." The servant added, trying hard not to look at
Chew Mi's splendidly firm young body as she stood up with no shame whatsoever and
walked over to where the servant was placing a laptop computer on a glass table.
Donovan and Paul wiped their faces dry with white face towels as Chew Mi sat in front of
the laptop and punched in codes to open the video link. Shortly, the screen was resolving
into a shadowy form whose face was obscured by electronic distortion, as was the voice. It
was impossible to tell if the figure on the screen was white or black, male or female. But
their identity was confirmed by Chew Mi's greeting.
"Odin. How may we serve you?"
"You might put some clothes on to begin with," the electronically disguised voice chided.
"Must you prance around like some ignorant slut?"
Chew Mi pouted but wisely said nothing, just held out her hand as Donovan handed her a
robe. The man was making a heroic effort to control his laughter. Once Chew Mi was
covered up properly, Odin continued:
"Certain components of The Voice have broken down and must need be replaced.
Donovan, I will expect you to have the parts shipped out here within 24 hours."
Donovan Gynt nodded. "At once, Odin."
"Paul, I have a special job for you and Chew Mi. Dillon has left England and he is headed
Chew Mi snarled; "Are you positive?"
"My source of information is totally reliable. I am tired of hearing this man's name. He has
completely disrupted my British operations. And I am going to have to arrange for Lady
Thelma and her man Whalen to escape somehow. She knows far too much to be allowed to
remain in custody. This means there are still more agents of mine who will have to be
compromised and will no longer be of any use to me. Dillon has cost me too much in time,
equipment and people, and I want him destroyed."
Paul was nodding as he reached into a nearby cooler and got himself a fruit drink. "I don't
see a problem with that. Dillon's wildly overrated if you ask me. Nobody could be that
"Ask Chew Mi. She fought him."
Paul shrugged. "So she says. If she did fight him and let him live, then I'd have to say that
she has a measure of responsibility for Dillon getting back on your trail, correct?"
Odin's retort was sharp and to the point. "And without Chew Mi, I would not have my ring.
She has been a good and faithful servant and I forgive her transgression in not killing
Dillon when she had the chance because I am positive that such a lapse of judgment will
NOT happen again. Am I correct, Chew Mi?'
"Yes, Odin." Chew Mi's voice was a mouse squeak of contrition.
"Then go about your jobs and be sure that you do not fail this time. I am moving into the
final stages of my master plan and I need no more annoying gnats like Dillon interfering."
Kris Quinlan walked down the curving staircase to the spacious living room of the
two-story villa located in the rolling green hills just outside of Antofagasto. She had
figured Dillon would be up and about, but she didn't expect to find him in the middle of a
veritable war room. Dillon's extraordinary laptop was hooked up to a printer that was
spitting out sheets of printed paper with hideously efficient speed. Maps were pinned up on
the walls, huge maps of the city and the surrounding countryside. Photographs of the
countryside and of the Gynt brothers were spread on the rectangular glass table. Dillon was
speaking into his cell phone even while typing on the keyboard of the computer that had
come with the villa with a speed that a professional corporate secretary might have envied.
Kris didn't interrupt him but instead went into the kitchen, and was grateful to find a full
fresh pot of hot coffee waiting. She poured herself a large mug and returned to the living
room, where Dillon was finishing up his conversation.
Kris looked out through the large glass doors that led to the patio and the kidney shaped
Olympic sized swimming pool. She sighed. This was such a beautiful country and Kris was
beginning to realize exactly how much she had missed South America. Homesickness was
washing through her and she was beginning to have regrets about insisting on helping
Dillon in his mission to find Odin. She could hop on a plane and be in Cristobal in four
"Good morning." Dillon put his phone down and turned in the swivel chair to smile at Kris.
"I had no idea how much I missed sleeping in a real bed until last night. It seems like years
since I had a decent night's sleep. But what about you? Didn't you sleep at all?"
"Sure. Two or three hours."
"That's more than enough. And I sleep during the day. Catnaps here and there."
Kris looked skeptical. "I've never seen you sleep during the day since I've been with you."
"You weren't supposed to. It was part of my training. I can go to sleep while standing on
my feet or walking and you'd never know it."
Kris still looked dubious but she let it go and waved at the room in general, taking in all the
maps and papers in a single expansive gesture. "So what's all this then?"
"Tracking down the Gynt boys. Seems as if they've been missing for some time now.
Whereas they were quite visible previous to this Odin business."
Kris nodded. "So that means that they're probably helping their father."
Dillon held up a long forefinger and waggled it in a negative. "Let's not be so hasty. It
could be that they're in hiding from their daddy as well."
"But you don't believe that, do you?"
Dillon shook his head. "Frankly, no. But I try to keep an open mind." He pointed at the
laptop. "I'm printing out complete records of their business holdings, houses they own and
the like. And I keep coming up with some interesting things. The Gynt boys own more
stuff under phony names and dummy corporations than they do under their own names.
Including quite a few electronics companies, research facilities and manufacturing plants."
Kris's perfectly shaped eyebrows went up in sudden understanding. "The Voice. They
could have had it built down here."
"I'd say that's a good bet. Wanna try for where?" Dillon got up and walked into the kitchen
to get himself some coffee. Kris watched him, admiring his long muscular legs. "You get
three guesses and the first two don't count."
"Somewhere in the jungle, right?"
"Bingo. But the problem is this: where in the jungle?" Dillon returned to his seat with not
only his coffee but also a cheese Danish. Kris looked at the pastry longingly.
"I didn't see any Danish," she said accusingly.
"You didn't look. Focus, okay? Where in the jungle would you hide a super weapon?"
Kris shrugged. "I have no idea." She turned her head, casually tossing her hair. She was
miffed about the Danish.
Dillon sighed and got up to go get her a Danish. While he did so, he said; "There's one
thing we know about The Voice: it takes massive amounts of power to run it so we're
talking about nuclear level power here. Now I don't believe for a second that even Odin
would be able to build both The Voice and a nuclear power plant without somebody
tumbling onto what he was doing, so that leaves one thing." Dillon returned with the
Danish and handed it to Kris, who smiled and bit into it with relish. "He's using the natural
geothermic energy of a volcano to power his weapon and guess what? The Licancabur
volcano is located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile."
Kris looked up from her pastry. "How can a dormant volcano have enough energy to power
"You're confusing a dormant volcano with an inactive one. He could still tap into a magma
pocket and get more than enough energy."
"And what about the ring?" Kris said. "Exactly how does that bloody ring fit into
everything? That's how we got involved in this ungodly mess in the first place."
Dillon shrugged. "I haven't forgotten about that but we've got to lay our hands on Odin
before we can solve that mystery."
"So how do we find him? What's your plan?"
"To find him? I do it the easy way. I let him find me."
Dillon grinned. "Take a wild guess."
"I would imagine we do our best to survive whatever he throws at us and then backtrack
his trail until we get to him."
"Kris, you are developing quite the aptitude for this kinda work."
"So how exactly do we let Odin and his minions find us?"
Dillon looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully. "Well, if they're as good as I think they are,
then they'll know we're here by now; but that's okay 'cause we're pulling out soon as we
"We are? Where?"
"Haven't you been listening to a word I said? We're going north to the volcano and look for
The Voice there. No sense in hanging around Antofagasto. What did you think we were
going to do? Go partying and wait for the Gynt boys to take a shot at us?"
"It would be nice to have a couple of days to rest and relax."
"It's time we don't have, sweetheart. And neither does the world." He stood up and walked
over to where she was, gently pulling her to her feet. His sparkling copper eyes looked
down into her wide blue ones. "Look, I know you said you wanted to help, but it's going to
get awful rough from here on and I've got a bad feeling that what's coming up is going to
make what we've been through so far look like a tea party. Maybe it's time for you to cash
in your chips and go home."
Kris's arms seemed to have a life of their own because before she knew what she was
doing, they had slipped around Dillon's lean waist. She sighed as he pulled her closer to
him and his face came closer to hers. He murmured softly, "I've gotten quite fond of you,
you know...and I wouldn't want to see anything happen to you..."
"What the hell is all this about?" The sliding glass doors to the patio opened and a man
entered the room. He looked to be somewhere vaguely between fifty and seventy.
Silver-gray hair hung to his shoulders and a grizzled growth of three-day-old stubble
covered his cheeks and chin, but he boasted a full and busy mustache. Despite his obvious
age, he was thin and lean and strong as a bullwhip, and his eyes twinkled with youthful
vigor. His faded khaki pants, battered old cowboy boots and well-worn leather flight jacket
looked like something Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart might have worn in a 1930's
Howard Hawks movie.
Dillon stepped away from Kris and snarled, "Dammit, Eli, your timing rots."
"And you're getting sloppy. You mean to say you didn't know I was there for almost thirty
"No, you old pervert. Kris, this is one of my closest and dearest friends, Elias Patrick
Creed. Eli, this is Kris."
With the grace of a Virginian gentleman of The Old South, Eli bowed and kissed Kris's
hand. "And may I say that I understand Dillon being distracted by such a woman of
exceptional and unusual beauty and charm."
Kris smiled and said; "Well...I must say I'm surprised that Dillon would have friends with
such manners and a way with words."
Eli reached up a hand and slapped Dillon in the back of his head. "Yeah, and I'm also a
friend who's telling him right in front of you that he better get his thinking outta his little
head and back into his big one if he wants to live through this job." Eli turned a serious eye
on Kris. "And now that the pleasant introductions have concluded: go put on some damn
Kris gaped in astonishment for maybe ten seconds before scurrying up the staircase. Dillon
grimaced when they heard her door slam. "Jeez, Eli...you know how long she's gonna be
mad? That woman's got a temper like you wouldn't believe."
"Later for her. C'mere!" Eli hugged the taller man warmly and clapped him on the back
several times. He stepped back and took a good look at him. "How you been, kid?"
"As you can see, I'm still in one piece. You brought everything I asked?"
"Soon as I got your email, I threw everything you wanted in a cargo plane and came on
down. Gretchen told me to tell you that she'll be very hurt if you get yourself killed before
she has a chance to marry you off."
Dillon grinned. Gretchen was Eli's plump, vivacious wife. Eli lived with her and his eight
children on a magnificent 1037-acre ranch in Colorado. Eli had retired there after a full life
of adventuring and mercenary work. However, whenever Dillon called for help, he
promptly dropped whatever he was doing and eagerly lent a hand. Eli had been one of
Dillon's mentors when Dillon had first begun his career, and the two of them had shared
many exploits together.
Eli looked around the living room. "You got anything to drink? I've been here ten minutes
and you haven't even offered me so much as a lousy beer. And are you going to explain
just what the hell you've gotten yourself mixed up in now? Your email wasn't all that
Dillon motioned for Eli to have a seat. "I'll get us a six-pack and I'll tell you the whole
story. It began when I was hired to recover this lousy, pain-in-the-ass ring..."
Chew Mi was rather irritated that she hadn't been allowed by Donovan and Paul to help
search the city with the small army of mercenaries they had hired. They had made inquiries
and found out that a man fitting Dillon's description had been seen in the city but then,
after making several substantial purchases, he had simply vanished, as if he had left the
country. Donovan had even suggested that perhaps Dillon had done so, but Chew Mi
quickly vetoed that idea. "He's still here, trust me."
Paul shrugged carelessly. "It matters little. We've got nearly 40 men looking for him. If he's
here, they'll find him and they'll kill him."
Chew Mi laughed. "You think so? All you're doing is sending him a warm-up. Once he's
finished with your mercs, he'll come after you."
"You give this man too much credit, Chew Mi," Paul said angrily. "He's just luckier than
most, that's all."
"Say what you wish, but I was there at Dr. Numby's castle and I saw first hand what he can
do. I barely escaped from him with my skin in one piece. You'd do well to take him more
"Enough with the useless debate!" Donovan snapped, irritated. He had listened to the
constant bickering between Chew Mi and his brother for days now and it frankly got on his
last nerve. The two of them would argue about everything and anything if left to their own
devices. "Paul, I have to leave immediately to take the replacement parts to Odin. Would it
be possible for you and Chew Mi to cease your antagonism long enough to accomplish the
task assigned to you?"
"Of course, Donovan. Once we've taken care of this man, we'll join you." Chew Mi
grumbled, "We've got to find him first..."
Eli finished his third beer and tossed the empty can into the trash. "That's quite a story,
partner. You've been a bad, bad boy, haven't you?"
"I was just minding my business. The last thing I wanted was to have half the world
chasing my ass hither and yon." Dillon shook his head. "And it's not going to get any easier
from here on out."
"So what's the plan?"
"Find Odin's hideout and make that phone call to Tipp and then run like hell. He wants to
take out Odin so bad, fine, let him do it while I take a much-needed vacation. Maybe I'll
come up to the ranch and hang out with you for a week or so. I—" Dillon broke off as an
insistent bleeping filled the room. Eli looked up hopefully.
Dillon walked over to his laptop and looked at the screen. It had changed to a
topographical map of the villa and the surrounding grounds. "Hello, what have we here?
Eli ambled over to look at the screen with Dillon. There were four red dots on the screen
indicating four hostiles who had tripped the proximity sensors. Eli hadn't tripped the
sensors because Eli had known where Dillon would place them.
"How you wanna handle this?"
Dillon turned and lightly ran up the stairs to Kris's room. He rapped sharply on the door
and the furious Kris quickly opened it; but she changed her attitude when she heard
Dillon's terse words. "Get ready to move out. There are four men on the grounds. Stay in
your room until either Eli or I come for you. You still have the gun I gave you?"
"Good. Anybody else comes through this door, shoot."
Dillon ran back down the stairs and rejoined Eli. "How does it look to you?"
Eli pointed at one red dot that wasn't moving. "Looks like this guy is hanging back. Could
be that he's the straw boss of the outfit."
"Then that's the one I want alive. You go get him. I'll handle the others."
Eli grinned and reached under his jacket, withdrawing a genuine Bowie knife that looked
almost as big as a machete. It had a well-worn bone handle and the blade, though it was
old, was still razor sharp. Eli was an avid knife collector and had over 800 in his collection.
This particular one was one of his favorites, and he claimed the infamous Western outlaw
Cole Younger had first owned it.
"I said alive, Eli. I mean it. I need him to be able to answer questions." Eli shrugged. "Y'got
three others out there."
"Not for long." Dillon's copper eyes darkened to moody, angry molten gold. "They picked
a bad day to come foolin' around in my backyard."
The three mercs were puzzled that they had been able to approach the house with no signs
of being seen at all and no resistance. They'd been briefed on Dillon and had been warned
to not underestimate him. One of the mercs had actually seen Dillon in action four years
ago in Thailand, and he had assured his two companions that the stories were no
exaggeration. None of the mercs liked it. It didn't feel right at all—
Dillon dropped lightly from a tree and stayed low to the ground, moving like a giant jungle
cat, and pounced on the three men before they knew what the hell was going on. The first
man was paralyzed by a chop to the back of his neck that snapped it with a grisly, meaty
POP. Dillon's hands were as hard as oak and knew exactly where to hit a man to kill him at
once. The second merc whirled, bringing up his silenced revolver.
Dillon whirled, spun with a grace that seemed impossible for a man of his height and
weight and appeared to actually levitate as his foot lashed out in a spinning back kick. It
nearly took off the second man's head as it broke his neck and jaw at the same time. He
was dead before he hit the ground. Dillon landed and caught the revolver on its way down.
The third merc was turning, lifting his pair of automatics but he was too slow. Dillon fired
twice, both silenced bullets catching the merc in the chest, pounding him backwards
several steps. Dillon fired two more times, blowing away the merc's kneecaps, and the man
screamed and dropped his weapons, clutching his shattered knees. Dillon ruthlessly and
coldly walked over to the merc and shot him right between the eyes. Then he dropped the
still smoking revolver next to the dead body, turned and headed back to the villa.
Once inside, he ran up the stairs and called out, "Kris!" before knocking on the door. It was
thrown open a second later and Kris stood there, eyes big as cue balls.
"Get ready to get outta here. And don't look out back." "I-I saw from the window—"
"It was them or us, Kris. The Gynt brothers sent them here to kill us. Don't forget
that." Dillon walked back down the stairs where Eli was dragging in a most unwilling
companion. The gentleman looked somewhat disheveled and he had some lovely purpling
bruises on one side of his face. His wrists were bound behind his back with plastic binders
(that Eli just happened to have on his person).
"Here he is and he's alive, by God. You happy?"
"Ecstatic." Dillon hunkered down next to the prisoner, who was staring up into his smiling
face with an expression of great unease. "How you doin'?"
"Fine." The prisoner nodded and looked nervously from Dillon to Eli and back to Dillon. "I
suppose you've killed the others?"
Dillon nodded, smiled pleasantly. "Did it with my own two hands. Not much of a
workout. If that's all the Gynts have to throw at me, I'm disappointed. Ah, it was the Gynt
boys who hired you, wasn't it?"
The prisoner licked dry lips and his eyes narrowed craftily as he saw a possible way
out of this. "You'll let me go if I tell you what I know?"
There was the quiet, deadly hiss of steel sliding from a concealed sheath as Eli drew
forth his Bowie knife and knelt down, holding the razor edge under the prisoner's nose. "I
don't think you quite understand your position, amigo...you're gonna tell my boy
everything he wants to know or I'm gonna start looking for your liver." Eli grinned
wickedly. "The hard way."
The prisoner shuddered and appealed to Dillon. "C'mon man, you guys are
professionals! This is how the game works! I tell you what you want to know and you let
Dillon's grin increased. "Unless you start talking right now, I'm gonna let that crazy
old man there have all the fun he wants cutting you up. You think you got balls enough to
take him hacking away at you with that blade?"
The prisoner babbled; "It was the Gynts! Sure, sure! They hired a whole bunch of
us...30...maybe 40...we were to keep searching until we flushed you out and then let them
know exactly where you were!"
"You've told them where this villa is?"
"No! I swear! See, me and the others, we figured that maybe we could grab you and find
out what the Gynts wanted from you...maybe it was something we could have kept for
"Honor among thieves, eh, Dillon?" Eli chuckled. He poked the prisoner slightly with the
knife. "Keep talkin' sonny...don't make like a clam now."
"You got the Gynts worried. They keep sayin' that they have to get rid of you. They never
come out and said it, but it was obvious that there was somebody pullin' their string. And
they had the Chinese girl raggin' on 'em as well."
"Chinese girl? Young? Hot looking?"
Despite his predicament, the prisoner's eyes flickered with lust. "Yeah! She spoke like she
knew more than the Gynts. And even though she's only a kid, word has it she can handle
Eli looked up at Dillon. "That this Chew Mi you told me about?"
Dillon nodded. "Couldn't be anybody but her."
"Humph. You been having considerable trouble with women on this job, haven't you?"
"You should meet Lady Thelma. Now there's a woman who has serious issues with
men. Drag his sorry ass into the next room and gag him then come on back and give me a
hand packing my stuff."
It only took about two hours to drive to the secluded airstrip where Eli's cargo plane was
safely hidden. Three men who Dillon recognized as hired guns Eli had used before guarded
it. Dillon nodded at them and they casually nodded back. Dillon grinned at his friend as he
climbed out of the jeep and helped Kris out. "How'd you find this strip, Eli?"
"C'mon, man...this part of the country is filthy with secret airstrips going back to World
War II. I know of about a dozen of 'em myself. Some of us still rely on our brains and not
that fancy hardware you like playing with."
"Gotta keep up with the times, old man. You bring me my wheels?"
Eli nodded and motioned for them to follow him up the ramp of the cargo plane into the
main hold. Locked securely into place was an oversized, modified Defender Land Rover.
Dillon grinned and ran his hand over the green and black hood of the vehicle. It had huge
halogen spotlights on the front and rear. A tarp was covering the roof rack where there was
equipment already packed. Side bins were securely locked and extra cans with fuel and
fresh water were lashed on the back. Kris looked curiously at the outsized winches on the
front and rear bumpers of the Land Rover. The cable wound around the drums was as thick
as a man's thumb. Two spare wheels were stowed in the spacious rear of the Land Rover,
along with more metal bins. It occurred to Kris that Dillon must have told Eli what he
would need and the old man had packed the Land Rover to save time.
"The GPS is up and running, so I can find you with no problem," Eli was saying. "You sure
you don't want me to come along? We could leave the girl here with the boys." Eli looked
at Kris. "They won't bother you, miss. I can vouch for their behavior. Sure, they look
rough, but they're okay."
"Negatory on that." Dillon said. "I need you here. You're the designated cavalry in case I
screw up and land up to my ass in a pit of alligators."
"Which, knowing you as well as I do is a dead bang certainty," Eli replied cheerfully. "Oh,
well...I brought along an X-Box...I guess me and the boys can keep busy playing football
while you're off saving the world." Eli suddenly became serious. "Look here...you get in
over your head, don't be too proud to yell for help. That's what I'm here for. Okay?" Eli
roughly hugged Dillon and impulsively kissed his cheek.
Dillon pushed the older man away and embarrassedly wiped his cheek. "Will you stop
doin' that! People already talk about us as it is!"
Kris couldn't help laughing at Dillon's discomfort from Eli's unashamed display of
affection. "Well, I think it's sweet that a man Eli's age can show his true feelings."
"You would..." Dillon grumbled. "Get in the Land Rover."
"We're leaving now? Right now?"
"No sense wasting time or daylight. We are on the road. Eli...keep your eyes on the GPS
and your ears to the radio."
Eli walked over to a control panel and hit the switch that unlatched the Land Rover's
wheels. "Vaya con Dios, amigo..."
Dillon started up the vehicle and the huge engine boomed into life, making Kris jump
in surprise. The entire vehicle was throbbing as if there was barely contained power
surging through it. Dillon drove down the ramp, high-fiving Eli as the Land Rover roared
out of the cargo plane. Once clear, Dillon turned the vehicle in a wide arc and gave it the
gas, heading north toward where he was sure he would at last find Odin.
"I remember when I was a little girl, my father loved to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons. There
was one my father never failed to laugh at uproariously no matter how many times he saw
it. Bugs and Daffy Duck attempt to take a vacation by tunneling underground and they
ended up hundreds of miles from where they were supposed to be. And as I recall, all that
Bugs could offer as an excuse was; 'I knew I shoulda made that left turn at Albuquerque.' I
now understand why my father laughed so hard and so long. There can be no other reaction
to such an evolved degree of outright stupidity. I only wish that I could find it in me to
laugh now, since it strikes me that we are in exactly that same situation."
Kris was standing by the Land Rover, looking at their latest predicament while Dillon
spread a map across the hood of his vehicle, holding the edges down with small stones he
picked up from the side of the rough dirt trail they had been following for nearly five
hours. Dillon had been promising that they would stop soon for the night and he assured
her that the GPS indicated that there was a spacious clearing next to a river not far ahead.
And while Dillon had been right about a great many things since this adventure began, this
hadn't been one of them.
Kris was looking at a formidable gorge seven thousand feet straight down. At the bottom
were nothing but huge boulders and jagged rocks and massive crags of rock that jutted
upwards. Probably the only time a river flowed down there was during the monsoon season
when flash floods were common. But right now, there was nothing but rock, rock and more
A wooden bridge crossed the gorge. Maybe some eight hundred feet long, it was wide
enough to accommodate two Land Rovers. The boards were thick and sturdy-looking and
the pillars that the bridge was anchored to looked as if they had been there for hundreds of
years. They were nearly petrified, so long had they been exposed to constant wind and rain
and sun. A woven mesh of rope, thick as Dillon's wrists, served to prevent clumsy walkers
from slipping and falling. The mesh would catch them if their footing wasn't as sure as it
Dillon reached down to his boot, and from a hidden sheath, withdrew a switchblade and
pressed the button. A 10-inch long blade flicked out. He used it to track their trail on the
map as he said absently, "Funny you should mention Daffy Duck...he's my favorite cartoon
character. Who's yours?"
"I am an adult. Adults don't have favorite cartoon characters," Kris snapped. "And how are
we going to get across this gorge before it gets dark? And why didn't it show up on your
vaunted GPS? I'm beginning to think your friend Eli was correct when he pointed out your
over-reliance on silly gadgets!"
Dillon was unperturbed by her tirade. He'd become used to them by now. "Everybody's got
a favorite cartoon character...ah, I see where we went wrong. C'mere and take a look."
Kris walked over to the Land Rover and Dillon used the switchblade to point out
what had happened. "See? We turned off this road here because I saw the fresh tracks of
trucks and I didn't want to run into anybody. Then I thought turning off here would bring
us back onto the original road we were following but I missed the turnoff there and so we
ended up at this bridge. But it's okay. We can cross this bridge, drive for another hour and
we'll be right back on course."
Kris looked at him in total disbelief. "You honestly mean to say you're going to take
this truck across that flimsy wooden bridge? Are you mad?"
Dillon closed the switchblade and stuck it back in his boot. "It won't be that bad. I've
crossed wooden bridges like this all over the world. There's a reason they've lasted for
hundreds of years."
"That thing looks like it's going to fall down as soon as we try to drive across it!"
"Did you ever see The Wages Of Fear?" Dillon asked. "Or Sorcerer?"
Kris sighed. "No matter how much time I spend with you, I never fail to be amazed at
your talent for spouting utter nonsense in the face of calamity. What are you babbling
Dillon shook his head as he folded up the map. "The Wages of Fear is a French movie
about four down-on-their-luck losers stuck in South America who are hired to drive a
couple of trucks full of nitroglycerin to an out of control oil fire. Sorcerer was the
American remake starring Roy Schneider. Both are kick-ass flicks. Didn't you have time to
watch movies in-between keeping Lady Thelma pickled in vodka?"
"I will be most certain to rent them both at my local Blockbuster, assuming I live to
see civilization again. What has that got to do with our present situation?" "Well, in both
movies, there was a part where the trucks had to cross a wooden bridge over a gorge. The
way they did it was this: one guy went ahead
and made sure the bridge was safe and guided the trucks over the weak areas." "And you're
proposing we do this?"
Dillon stowed the map away inside the Land Rover. He leaned on the door and sighed
tiredly. "Look, Kris, if we gotta backtrack we'll lose too much time. The best way for us to
do this is for you to get inside, drive the damn truck and I'll walk ahead and test the bridge.
If we do it my way, I guarantee we can have camp set up inside of two hours and have
dinner and get a good night's sleep. If we have to backtrack and go around and all that
other good shit, it'll be maybe four, five hours before we can even think of settling down
for the night."
Kris was biting her lower lip in indecision. "You're sure that we can get across safely?"
"I've crossed maybe a hundred bridges just like this one all over the world. I'm telling you,
the people who built them made them to last...we'll be over before you know it. Just be
careful you don't run me over. I'll be about ten feet in front of you. Now, the Land Rover
has a lot of power so you don't have to tromp on the gas pedal. Just ease it and we'll be
Kris climbed behind the wheel and took the keys from Dillon. "I'm still not sure about
this...the common sense part of my brain keeps saying we ought to backtrack and never
mind the lost time."
Dillon waved a gloved hand carelessly. "You worry too much...what could go wrong?"
Chew Mi looked at the three dead bodies of the mercenaries, lying neatly side-by-side in
the living room of Dillon's rented villa. They had their hands neatly folded on their chests
and a note was pinned to the shirt of one. A simple printed note that said: 'You're going to
have to do better than this. Love, D.'
Paul Gynt was directing the dozen men with them to search the rest of the villa. He
holstered his Magnum revolver and joined Chew Mi. She was wearing a leopard print
leather jumpsuit that was so tight it was a wonder than she was able to breathe. A jaunty
beret with several medals pinned to it sat on top of her head at a rakish angle. She whacked
a swagger stick against her leg as she surveyed the three dead men.
"Three of them," Gynt snarled. "Three! And he took 'em like they were rank amateurs."
"Compared to Dillon, they are. I keep trying to tell you that this is no ordinary man we're
up against. Where's the other man? His body's not here."
"Right here." Rubbing his sore wrists, the straw boss emerged from another room, where
Gynt's men had found him. "Dillon and his partner tied me up and left me."
"Partner?" Chew Mi frowned. "You don't mean the girl?"
The straw boss shook his head. "Nah...this was an old guy. But he was a tough old son of a
bitch. Bastard nearly took my head off when he walloped me unconscious. Dillon called
Chew Mi looked thoughtful. "Eli, hmm? Eli Creed?"
The straw boss nodded in the affirmative. "Yeah...yeah...I think that was the name. Eli
Creed. You heard of him?"
"Yes I have, and you should have as well. He's a dangerous man in his own right.
Dillon must have called him in for backup." Chew Mi whacked her leg again with such
force that Paul Gynt winced. That had to hurt, but Chew Mi looked as if it didn't bother her
one little bit.
Paul took over the questioning. "Where did they go? Did they discuss their plans?"
"Don't be an idiot, Paul," Chew Mi chided. "Dillon's too smart to have said anything in
front of him."
"Hey, I saw something here, though. Dillon had all kinds of maps of the area here in this
room. It looked like he was trying to plan a route somewhere."
Chew Mi nodded and looked at Paul. "He's going for Odin." "Impossible. How could he
have figured out where Odin's base is?"
"Give Dillon enough time and he could figure it out. One thing I've learned about him: he's
a lot smarter than people give him credit for. I don't think we can put it past him that he's
on his way toward Odin right now."
"So what do we do? How do we stop him?"
"How soon can you get me a helicopter?" "What kind?"
"Any attack helicopter loaded down with all the ordinance it can hold. Some- thing light
Paul already had his cell phone out and was punching in a number. "Give me ten minutes
and I'll get you the meanest bird I can find."
Chew Mi whacked her leg again and smiled.
Kris was biting her lower lip so hard, she had drawn blood. They were maybe
halfway across the bridge and she hadn't prayed this hard since her SATs. If she didn't look
down, it wasn't too bad. Unfortunately, the bridge was swaying and that had the effect of
convincing her that it was getting ready to collapse at any moment. Dillon was out in front,
a little too far for her taste, and she was convinced he was out that far so that when the
dammed bridge did begin to fall apart, he could dash to safety and leave her to die.
Dillon was carefully stomping on the boards and waving her to come on. They were so
tightly lashed, there were virtually no cracks between them, so the effect was much like
riding on a bumpy road, except for the fact that roads didn't swing from side to side.
Kris couldn't take it any longer. She stuck her head out of the window and screamed;
"I don't know how I let you talk me into this bloodydamnawful insanity! This is crazy!"
Under his breath, Dillon muttered; "That'll do, donkey...that'll do."
"What!? What did you say?! Is the bridge breaking?" Kris looked down wildly.
Dillon sighed and forced himself to smile as broadly and as splendidly as he could.
This was the last time he would drag a woman with him on an adventure, and he didn't care
how beautiful or sexy the next one was. "We're doing fine, Kris! Just keep coming on
ahead! Not too much further now. We'll make camp on the other side and we'll make a nice
fire and sing 'Kumbaya,' okay?"
Kris was snarling something he couldn't quite catch but he had a feeling it probably had to
do with his ancestors and their mating habits with various animal species. He waved her
on. Kris gingerly tapped the gas and The Land Rover crept forward like a tired old man
with bad feet and a weak bladder, struggling to make it to the bathroom at 3 AM.
Chew Mi strapped herself into the cockpit of the Quartermain & Levine Ringstriker, a
compact one-man (or in this case, one-woman) attack helicopter. Paul was pointing out the
ordinance as Chew Mi familiarized herself with the controls.
"You got your 30mm electric cannon trigger here. Just put the helmet on and look at what
you wanna kill and pull the trigger, okay? Two fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles and 15
smaller HotStuff heat seekers. You can't kill Dillon with all this, then he's either divinely
protected or you don't know what the hell you're doin'."
Snorting in derision, Chew Mi snatched off her beret and flung it away, then she put
on the helmet. "There's a reason your incompetents haven't been able to kill Dillon yet and
that's because nobody deserves to kill him except for me. He's the only man to have eluded
me this long and given me the trouble he has. No one else has even come close. I'll almost
be sorry to kill him." Chew Mi's voice had become dreamy, almost sensual as she
continued. "I had a chance to kill him. He lay at my feet and he was unconscious and
helpless. But that would have been far too easy and too plain. Dillon's death must be as
spectacular as his life, and I must be the one to send him to Valhalla in a burning pyre that
will be the envy of every warrior's soul as he goes to join them."
Paul Gynt was unimpressed. "You ask me, I think you have some serious father figure
issues you need to resolve. Just go kill the guy, okay?"
The gentle ringing of the phone on his office desk awakened Gregory Tipp. He yawned and
sat up on the bed that folded out of the couch. Ever since returning to London, he hadn't
been home but stayed mostly at his office, waiting for some word, any word about Odin
He walked over to the desk and picked it up, grunting, "Tipp here. What's going on?"
"Sorry to rouse you, sir, but you wanted to be alerted the minute there was any news."
"Get on with it, man. What's happening?"
"Well, it's Odin again, sir. He's made another announcement. Says that he's going to strike
again in 10 hours but hasn't said where."
Tipp dry-washed his face while he groaned. "Very well. Send me a copy of the latest
warning. B.I.T.E. still on alert?"
"Yes, sir. They're ready to move out as soon as you give the word."
"And we've heard nothing from Dillon, correct?"
"No, sir." The voice on the other end hesitated a second then went ahead and asked the
question that even Tipp was beginning to wonder about. "Sir, can we be certain that Dillon
is even still alive?"
Tipp thought about that question with professional detachment and then gave the only
answer he could give; "No, we can't be certain about that at all, I'm afraid."
All of Dillon's senses were acute to an alarming degree of sensitivity and if he had to put
money on which was the highest developed, he'd have been hard put to choose between his
sense of smell and his hearing. His nose and his ears had frequently saved his life. And it
was his ears that were standing him in good service now, because he was hearing
something he didn't like at all.
He held up a hand to stop the Land Rover's progress, cupped his gloved hands behind his
ears and turned his head slightly. He had heard what sounded like the blades of a
helicopter, and a helicopter out here could only mean that Odin was looking for them.
Dillon didn't believe in coincidence and there was hardly a practical reason for any
helicopter to be out this way. He waved at Kris and ran toward the Land Rover. Kris's eyes
bulged wide and she screamed in panic, convinced that the bridge was falling. Dillon
wished mightily that he could simply knock her out until this was all over, but that was
hardly a solution. He had to get inside the Land Rover and drive it off the bridge right now
A waspish black helicopter looped into view from over the low hills far to the left of the
bridge. Dillon saw it coming swiftly toward their location. He made it to the driver's side of
the Land Rover and unceremoniously shoved Kris out of the seat and onto the passenger
side. She squealed in panic and struggled to sit upright. Dillon watched the waspish attack
helicopter coming closer, and he could see the electric cannon spinning slowly, preparing
Dillon grabbed Kris and shoved her under the dashboard just as the helicopter's 30mm
electric cannon spat sixty rounds a seconds in a hot stream. Fortunately, Chew Mi had been
in such a hurry that she hadn't bothered to load armor piercing shells into the magazines
and Dillon's Land Rover (like all of his vehicles) was sufficiently armored so that the
bullets flattened against the doors and windows, raising minute spider web cracks in the
glass, but otherwise not even causing much of a dent. The noise was deafening inside and
Kris screamed. Several of the thick ropes holding the bridge together popped and
whiplashed through the air and the bridge sagged some five feet.
The helicopter whooshed on past, close enough for Dillon to look out the driver's side
window and see the grinning face of Chew Mi.
Kris was shouting; "Who's shooting at us? Odin's men?"
"Worse," Dillon grunted, looking through the back seat for something. "It's Chew Mi."
"Chew Mi? The girl from Numby Castle? What in God's name is she doing here?!"
"Trying her best to shoot the shit outta me." Dillon came up with a Heckler
& Koch MP5A3 submachine gun and pressed a button on the dashboard. The roof of The
Land Rover folded back and he stood up. Compensating for the swaying of the bridge, he
squeezed the trigger, firing at the helicopter as it came back around for another pass.
Chew Mi yelped as 9mm slugs smashed into the canopy. The armored glass was strong
enough to keep most of them out, but a couple got through. It was just blind dumb luck that
she wasn't hit. That, and Dillon's gun had jammed. Chew Mi grinned and let out a war
whoop as she fired a pair of HotStuff heat seeking missiles that immediately sensed the
heat being thrown off by the super-charged engine of the Land Rover.
Dillon dropped the submachine gun and dived into the back seat again, com- ing up with a
Very pistol in his hand. He slammed a flare into the pistol and fired it up into the air, away
from the bridge. The flare arced upwards, bursting into brilliant, superheated life, and the
two missiles abruptly changed course, curving under the bridge, turning back upwards into
the air to zip right past Chew Mi's helicopter on either side and collide with each other as
they converged on the flare.
The shockwave from the explosions caused the bridge to sway even more violently and
more ropes snapped from the strain. The Land Rover slid from the middle of the bridge to
the mesh railing on the left side. The railing held, which was a testament to the skill of its
Chew Mi struggled with the controls, cursing wildly as the small helicopter was rocked by
the shockwave. She got it under control and sent it swooping upwards so that she could
come around for another pass.
Kris and Dillon were struggling inside the Land Rover to sit upright, having been tossed
around like dice in a cup. Kris twisted around, trying to see what was going on. Her elbow
hit the lock of the passenger side door and it flew open. With a shocked howl of terror, she
fell out of the vehicle. She flailed for a handhold and managed to seize the seat belt. Her
plummet to the rocks below was halted and she hung precariously, screaming for Dillon to
pull her in.
Dillon, who was trying to see just where the hell Chew Mi had gotten to while he plugged
a fresh clip into the H&K, yelled back; "Just hang on!"
"As if I have a goddamn CHOICE?!" Kris screamed back.
Dillon stood up and saw Chew Mi coming back in, the electric cannon firing. He fired
back, the armor-piercing bullets of his machine gun punching through the canopy. Two of
them took Chew Mi high up on the chest. She snarled and broke off her attack, diving
down and to the left. Dillon pounded bullets into the helicopter as it swooped under the
bridge. He dropped the smoking gun on the floor of the Land Rover and leaned out to grab
the seat belt, hauling Kris up and in. "What are you doing up here?" she demanded. "Why
don't you shoot her?"
Before Dillon could answer, more ropes broke. It wouldn't be long before the bridge
collapsed completely. He threw himself behind the steering wheel and said; "Strap yourself
"What are you going to do?"
"The bridge is breaking! I got an idea, though!"
Dillon flipped several buttons on the dashboard and the entire vehicle began shaking
violently. With a blast of compressed air, the thick cable on the front drum of the Land
Rover fired with explosive force. There was a round metal ball on the end of the cable, and
ten feet away from the Land Rover, it sprang open like a metal flower into a six-pronged
grappling hook. The cable sped over the bridge and fell to the ground on the other side.
Just then, major support lines simply snapped, one right after another. The bridge groaned
and began to come apart. The Land Rover fell toward the cruel, uncaring rocks below.
The grappling hook was dragged along the ground until snagging in the roots of a huge tree
that looked to be a hundred years old at least, and held.
The Land Rover jerked like a trout on the end of a line and slammed with bone-jarring
force into the wall of the gorge, dangling at the end of the cable. Dillon reached down for
the H&K. He could hear the helicopter and he was certain that Chew Mi was going to take
this opportunity to uncork everything she had.
Chew Mi was glaring with murderous hatred at Dillon through a red fog. She was losing a
lot of blood and knew she was going to pass out soon. Once that happened, she would
crash and die. But she was determined to take Dillon with her. She thumbed the button to
fire the electric cannon at the same time that Dillon fired his weapon at the missile pods.
Dillon's explosive bullets punched into the HotStuff heat seekers and ignited them,
engulfing the helicopter in an orange and red fireball. Heat washed over him. He watched
with grim satisfaction as the fireball plunged to the bottom of the gorge, where it crashed
and exploded again, throwing flaming metal high into the air, ribbons of burning fuel
arcing left and right.
Kris let out a whoop of exultation and pounded Dillon on the back, yelling, "You got her!
You got her!"
"Yeah, so I did. Now let's get ourselves out of here." He pressed a button on the dashboard
and the winch throbbed into life. Slowly, the Land Rover climbed the gorge wall and up
over the edge.
Once they were on flat land, Kris gratefully fell out. She hit the ground and just lay there,
gasping in joy at being alive.
Dillon climbed out and walked to the edge, looking down at where the helicopter burned.
Billowing clouds of thick black smoke filled the air. "One of these days, I gotta get me a
real job," he muttered.
"...And there is still no word on exactly how many are dead or injured from the latest attack
by the international terrorist known only as Odin. He has indiscriminately attacked mass
transit operations around the world with a weapon he calls The Voice of Odin, and has so
far knocked at least nine airplanes out the sky. The airplanes belonged to airlines of
American, Japanese and British origin. Five ocean liners sunk were of Dutch and
Bahamian registry. Several hours after the attacks began, all air travel was grounded and all
ships were ordered to return to their homeports. Odin's latest attack has effectively ended
air and ocean travel around the world. To repeat our top story..."
"Wake up! Wake up, you lout!" Kris shoved Dillon hard enough to rouse him out of
his sound sleep. He sat up on the air mattress and blinked the sleep out of his eyes.
Kris had already climbed out from under the covers and was getting dressed quickly.
Dillon took a few minutes to admire the wonderful effect the early morning sun was having
on her tanned, naked flesh. "You know, you don't have to climb out of bed so quickly,
Kris yanked up the zipper on her khaki shorts and looked for her boots. "Don't you hear the
radio? Odin has struck again and we're out here in the jungle dallying while the world goes
Dillon stretched his long arms and yawned lazily. "Seems to me you weren't all that
concerned about dallying last night when you—"
"I'll thank you to NOT remind me of what occurred last night!" Kris laced her boots with
quick, snappy movements of her fingers. "What happened lastnight was the result of us
being together for quite a long time. It's only natural—"
"A beautiful full moon helped as well...not to mention a couple of bottles of chilled
"Are you going to get dressed?"
"Are you going to keep pretending you didn't enjoy last night as much as I
did? I especially enjoyed the way you—"
Kris stomped out of the tent without so much as an angry comeback, which was kind of
disappointing as Dillon actually looked forward to those. She'd gotten quite good at them.
He sighed, threw back the covers and began hunting up his clothes.
Once they'd gotten Chew Mi off their backs, Dillon had found a suitable campsite and set
up tents for both of them. The tents came with their own air-conditioners and firm air
mattresses, as comfortable as any feather bed. They'd spent an agreeable few hours making
and eating dinner and then they'd listened to big band music on the satellite radio and
Dillon had produced champagne. He couldn't say exactly when he and Kris had ended up
in his tent but he had no trouble recalling the torrid, passionate hours that followed.
He washed up quickly while continuing to listen to the radio. He had to admit one thing;
Kris was right about the world going to hell. But if Dillon had it figured right, either they
would find Odin's hideout today or Odin's people would catch up to them. If that happened,
Dillon would allow himself to be captured and taken straight to Odin's lair, saving time and
effort. He wasn't sure what he was going to do after that, but he was confident that he
would think of something.
He dressed, picked up his Desert Eagle, checked to make sure it had a full clip and shoved
it in his shoulder holster. Then he stepped out of the tent, whistling 'Anything Goes.'
A dozen gun barrels were thrust in his face and all around him he heard nothing but the
ratcheting of automatic weapons and handguns. Dillon looked around very slowly. Easily
seventy armed men had surrounded his tent and were pointing their weapons at him. Kris
was struggling in the firm grasp of two more men. Her eyes were wide and frightened. A
bandana had been jammed in her mouth to prevent her from shouting a warning. A short,
muscular man dressed in fatigues stepped forward. He looked Dillon up and down with
eyes filled with hate. "So you're the great Dillon that's got even Odin shaking. You don't
look like much to me."
Dillon smiled politely as he replied, "You most certainly have me confused with somebody
who gives a damn about your opinion. You must be Paul Gynt. And that's—" Dillon jerked
his head in the direction of the taller man, who stood just a few steps behind Paul. "—your
brother Donovan. The smart Gynt brother."
Donovan spoke in a somber, even tone. "Watch yourself, Paul. That's one of his favorite
tactics. He likes to insult and cause his opponents to lose their temper. Don't let him bait
Paul laughed explosively. "I'm tired of everybody making such a big deal about this one. It
wasn't much to capture him was it? Not when he and that blue-eyed slut over there were
raising such a ruckus doing the horizontal bop."
Dillon's copper eyes slowly began to darken to molten gold. "No reason to be vulgar, Paul.
The lady doesn't deserve to hear that. Especially not from you."
Paul Gynt laughed again. "Lady? Her? Any slut that would willingly let a nigger give it to
her right up the old—"
Dillon's head whipped forward, quick as a striking snake and his strong teeth crunched
down on Paul Gynt's nose. Blood spurted and Gynt screamed in a high-pitched womanish
squeal, "MY NODE!"
Dillon was seized and yanked off Paul Gynt. There was something in Dillon's teeth and he
spat it out; it hit Paul in the chest and thumped to the ground. It was Paul's nose. There was
only a gushing hole in his face where it had once resided. Paul was screaming as blood
squirted from between his fingers. Dillon's laughter was wild as he yelled: "It's always
funny until somebody loses a nose, ain't it, Paul?"
Donovan Gynt's eyes were slits of cold anger as he lifted a hand and fully a half dozen men
piled on Dillon, slammed the butts of their automatic rifles into his face, sides, chest and
back and threw in lusty kicks with their steel toed boots.
Kris could only avert her gaze from the savage beating.
Dillon slowly came back to consciousness with his head in Kris's lap. His entire body was
one throbbing ache and it felt as if there hadn't been one square inch that had been left out.
Kris smiled down at him and kissed his forehead. "Oh, Thank God! I was afraid you were
never going to wake up!"
Dillon painfully sat up on the cot. They were inside his tent. He could hear men shouting
orders outside, the sounds of vehicles being started up. "How long have I been out?"
"About an hour. Paul tried to come inside and shoot you twice. But his brother has four
men outside to make sure that nothing happens to you until they contact Odin and report to
Dillon stood up and started a series of exercises that would let him know exactly how much
damage had been done to his body. He asked, "And did they?"
Kris nodded excitedly. "From what I could hear, Odin wants you brought to him. Paul was
frothing with rage. He spoke to Odin himself over the radio and tried to convince Odin that
you should be killed on the spot. He's walking around with bandages covering half his face
and his nose packed in a Thermos of ice. He thinks it can be put back on."
Dillon snorted in derision. "Fat chance of that. He'll have to pay for a new nose. That's
assuming of course he gets away from me alive, and that's something I don't think is gonna
Kris smiled weakly. "You don't have to be brave for me. I know this is pretty much the end
of the line. Once we're taken to Odin, we're sure to be killed."
Dillon sat back down next to her on the cot. "Hey, now...nobody on my team goes into a
mission even contemplating failure, okay? We're still alive, aren't we? We've beaten
everybody Odin's thrown at us, haven't we? So what's this talk then?" He tenderly kissed
her on the lips. "I wouldn't have brought you this far if I didn't have a plan to get us out.
Now, put on your game face and don't let the bad guys see you sweat." Dillon stood up and
resumed his exercises. Except for being sore as hell, there wasn't any real damage done.
Thanks to his rigorous exercise regimen and his exceedingly active lifestyle, he was pretty
much 240 pounds of solid muscle.
The flap of the tent was pulled aside and the lanky form of Donovan Gynt entered. He eyed
Dillon with his glowering, mournful eyes. "You can thank your lucky stars that Odin wants
to see you. Otherwise my brother would be having his way with you. And I'd be helping."
"You tell your brother he insults this lady again and I'll bite his whole head clean off. He
wants to pick a fight, fine. Pick it with me." Dillon kept on exercising as he spoke. "And
what does Odin want to see me about? Does he think I'm going to make restitution for the
damage I've done to his organization?"
Donovan Gynt said, "The Order of The Black Sun is larger than Odin, even though he was
one of its architects. I'm sure there is a good reason for keeping you alive. But I'm giving
you fair warning right now: you want the woman left alone, fine. Then you leave my
brother alone. You've ruined his face for an insult that children in a playground would have
laughed off. You say another word to him or even look at him wrong and I'll kill you
myself and suffer Odin's displeasure gladly."
Dillon stopped his exercising and sized up Donovan Gynt carefully. This was not only the
smarter Gynt brother. He was also the truly dangerous one. "You'll have no more trouble
from me, Gynt. I know when I'm beaten."
Donovan laughed sharply. "You mean you know when to bide your time and wait for an
opportunity to turn the odds in your favor. We move out in fifteen minutes. You'll be
placed aboard one of my trucks with a guard."
"What about my Land Rover? My equipment?" Dillon demanded. Donovan only looked at
him as if he were a total idiot and left the tent.
Kris asked, "Just what was that about?"
"Have you forgotten Eli? He's my cavalry, remember? If I could get to the Land Rover, I
could send a signal for him to come in and get us. Damn!"
Kris walked over to the tent flap and opened it just enough to peek out. "I can see the Land
Rover. It's about 90 feet straight ahead."
Dillon was peering over her shoulder. "Might as well be 90 miles. There's nothing but
armed men between The Land Rover and us. The second I stick my head outta here,
I'll—say, what the hell are you doing?"
Kris was rapidly peeling out of her clothes. "Soon as I pop out and start my act, you
make a run for the Land Rover and make it count."
Dillon could only gawp in surprise as Kris slipped out of her bra and panties. She had only
left her boots on and was otherwise naked as Godiva the day she said "gee, it's a lovely day
to go horseback riding." Kris took a deep breath and said, "You ready?"
"Me? Are you ready? I'm not the one who's going out there bucky-tail nekkid in front
of an army of horny mercenaries."
"Just be sure I'm not doing this for nothing," Kris muttered, and then she was out and
running flat out, her mane of golden hair streaming behind her as she bolted right through
the camp. The men Gynt had hired were all seasoned mercenaries, true. Professional
soldiers every last one of them, battle-honed and hardened in a hundred wars in the wild
parts of the world. But they were still men, and when men see a naked woman running,
especially one with such splendid assets as Kris possessed, they stopped what they were
doing and looked.
Dillon burst out of the tent, bowling over the four guards, and was up on his feet and
sprinting toward his Land Rover. Despite his height and weight, he was a remarkably fast
runner, and he had covered fully half the distance to the vehicle before a hue and cry was
raised. He could hear Paul Gynt's shrill screams over all, exhorting the men to kill him. He
jinked right and then left as bullets chewed up the ground around him and hummed past his
ears. He reached the door of the Land Rover, yanked it open and jumped inside, slamming
it shut and rolling up the window. He then did the same to the door on the driver's side and
by then, they were on him.
A dozen mercenaries ringed the vehicle, their weapons chattering as they pounded
bullets into the armored sides of the Land Rover. Dillon ignored the hellish din and felt up
under the dashboard, flipping what he called 'the panic button.' This would send a signal to
Eli that he could home in on using the GPS tracking console in his plane. Now if only Eli
got the signal before they busted open the Land Rover and dragged him out. Dillon looked
out the windshield and saw that, not only did they have Kris, but also Paul Gynt was
running up to the Land Rover, grinning broadly despite the thick white X of bandages on
his face. He was holding a rocket launcher.
Eli was shaving with his Bowie knife when one of his men jogged over to him. "Eli?
There's a signal coming in from Dillon."
Eli nodded. "I want a solid fix on his position. And get the plane prepped. Soon as you can
tell me where my boy is, we're gonna go get him."
"Sure thing, Eli."
Paul Gynt was laughing hysterically as he aimed the rocket launcher at the front of The
Land Rover and pulled the trigger. So intent on killing Dillon was he that he ignored the
fact that a dozen of his men were standing around the Land Rover. They dived for cover as
the rocket sped from the launcher and hit the Land Rover squarely between the headlights,
kicking the vehicle backwards and up into the air. It was a tribute to the armoring job
Dillon had done to the vehicle that it did not blow up, but was flipped over and landed with
a tremendous crunch of shattering glass and crumpling metal on its side. That was about
Well, not quite all. Paul Gynt had thrown the empty rocket launcher away and was
fumbling with another one, trying to release the safeties so he could send another rocket
into the vehicle. He wanted to see Dillon burn. He wanted to hear Dillon shrieking in
hellish agony as flames consumed his flesh. Paul's thirst for Dillon's death only hastened
his own as he was shaking so from excitement that he dropped the rocket launcher. It hit
the ground and activated, and the rocket shot from the launcher with a whoosh!, hitting
Paul right square in the middle of the X on his face. Paul Gynt was totally obliterated,
pieces of him raining all over the camp and the mercenaries.
Donovan Gynt had watched all of this in stunned astonishment. If someone had just
described the events he himself had witnessed to him second hand, he wouldn't have
believed such a dark comedy capable of happening. The naked girl sprinting through the
camp. Dillon getting to his Land Rover to do God knows what. And now his brother had
somehow blown himself up with a rocket meant for Dillon.
Some of the mercenaries had pulled Dillon from the wreckage of the Land Rover and
dragged him over to where Donovan stood, dumping him at his feet. Dillon was
unconscious. Donovan Gynt ached to put a bullet in this man's brain for causing his
brother's death. But there was Odin's order to think of. And certainly, Dillon did not
deserve the quick death of a single bullet. No, his dying would take many, many days, and
Donovan certainly wanted to be there to enjoy every single drop of agony he could wring
out of him.
"Tie him up and put him in a truck. And the girl as well. Let's get out of here. We've
wasted too much time as it is."
One of the mercenaries jerked a thumb at the Land Rover. "What about that?"
"What about it?"
"We oughta blow it up. Maybe he tripped a homing beacon or somethin' in it. We shouldn't
take any chances."
Donovan was still looking at the smoking spot where his brother had died. "Take care of it,
then, since you're so worried about it."
"What do you mean, the signal's stopped?" Eli entered the cockpit of the cargo plane,
dropping into the pilot's seat and beginning his pre-flight checks.
"I was locking in on the signal as you ordered and all of a sudden it just...stopped."
"Would you say that it was manually cut off or forcibly interrupted?"
"I'd have to say it was interrupted. The break was just too abrupt for it to be anything else.
But I can put you within five miles of where the signal originated."
"That's all I need. Knowing Dillon, we'll see explosions or something. Seal this sucker up
and let's grab some sky."
This time when Dillon regained consciousness, he was in the back of a truck. Two men
were sitting with their backs to the driver's cab, their weapons pointing at him. He was
restrained with two pairs of handcuffs and his ankles tightly bound. Kris was sitting across
from him, similarly bound and once again fully dressed. The truck was bouncing along
what could only be referred to as a road by the wildest stretch of the imagination. He
smiled at Kris. "I see you found your clothes."
She shrugged. "You should have heard what Donovan said to me. You know, it's strange
that for someone who's so indifferent to human life, he's awfully Puritan in his attitudes
Dillon struggled to a sitting position as he replied. "You'd be surprised how many
psychopaths are like that. Where the hell are we going in such a hurry?"
"There's some sort of timetable they're supposed to be sticking to. We upset it with our last
stunt. Oh, by the way, Paul Gynt's dead."
Dillon blinked. "Can't say I'm sorry to hear that. How'd it happen?"
Despite their danger and the constant threat of sudden death at any moment, Kris had to
giggle as she said; "After he hit you with the first rocket, he tried to fire another. The
butterfingered fool dropped the rocket launcher and killed himself with it. The rocket hit
him right...." Kris burst out into a gale of laughter. "...it hit him right where his nose used to
Even the two guards were grinning broadly and trying to smother their own laughter.
Dillon looked from the guards to Kris and back to the guards and then back to Kris. "Are
you shittin' me? The jackass blew himself up with a rocket? Right in the face?" He shook
his head sorrowfully. "And I missed it. I'd have paid good money to see that."
Kris was shaking all over from laughing. "It was something to see, let me tell you."
"But Donovan's still set on taking me to Odin, I see."
Kris's laughter subsided as she nodded agreement. "He must truly fear Odin."
"I don't think it's only that. I've pretty much wiped out Odin's crew...Lady Thelma, The
Whale, Paul Gynt, Chew Mi...Donovan's in a good position if he can stay alive...he's the
only one left to reap the rewards. Don't fool yourself for a minute and think he hasn't
thought of that."
The truck was slowing down, coming to a stop. Kris shook her head as if to dislodge a
nagging thought. "But what could Odin offer him? He's already extraordinarily rich. How
much more wealth can one man aspire to have?"
"None," Donovan Gynt said from the rear of the truck. He was unlatching the rear tailgate
so that Dillon and Kris could be hauled out. "I'm not doing this for money. I'm doing this to
right a grievous wrong done to my father. He sacrificed his life for his work and that work
was refused, ignored. Locked away. And he was told that he could never see it come to
Dillon's feet were untied but the handcuffs were left on. "So Odin is your father,
Leopold Gynt? He's still alive after all this time and he still wants revenge. And like the
good little son you are, you're helping Daddy destroy the world."
Donovan smiled thinly. "There's so much you don't understand, Dillon. But you will.
You will." He gestured to the guards. "Bring them!"
The trucks had stopped next to a concrete path that looked as if it had been put down
recently. It was comfortably wide and most of the jungle vegetation on both sides had been
cut down, stripped in order to provide a clear view on both sides of the trail. It would be
virtually impossible to sneak up on anybody navigating the trail. Dillon was much more
interested in what was up ahead in the clearing. A group of sixteen buildings, none of them
over two stories and painted dull gray and green to blend in with the trees that towered
over them. And behind the buildings was a gigantic black dome that appeared to be made
of some kind of ceramic material, from what Dillon could tell from that distance. He and
Kris were led into the clearing, and he saw that some of the buildings were barracks for the
mercenaries, housing for what appeared to be technical support, a radio shack (the location
of which he committed to memory) a kitchen, an infirmary, an armory. It was a regular
little military outpost Odin had for himself here.
Donovan Gynt noted Dillon's interest. "Don't miss a trick, do you? I'll let you in on a little
secret: you won't live to profit from what you're seeing here."
Dillon grinned wickedly. "Don't make the same mistake your brother did, Donny."
Donovan Gynt said nothing and continued to lead the way inside the dome. Once there,
most of the mercenaries stayed outside and Donovan motioned for Dillon and Kris to come
along. They walked up a ramp that slanted upwards until coming to an elevator. The guards
stuck their guns right into Dillon's mid- section.
"He makes one wrong move. Just one," Donovan said. "Kill him."
Dillon did not make a wrong move. He had no intention of doing anything until he
came face to face with Odin.
Eli lowered the binoculars and turned to his co-pilot. "I got smoke. Something's burning up
The co-pilot nodded as he took the binoculars. "Matches the location fix Harry gave us.
You think Dillon's in trouble?"
Eli sighed as he pushed the yoke forward, dropping in altitude to take a closer look.
"As long as I've known that guy, he's never not been in trouble."
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Dillon and Kris were shoved forward into what
could only be described as a combination control center and throne room. Technicians who
were bent intently over the readouts on their screens manned curving banks of consoles.
While many of them were spouting out scientific data, others were tuned to the various
news services of the world, monitoring events as they happened, gauging the world's
reactions to Odin's attack.
Past the curving consoles was a dais of some sixteen steps high, upon which a massive
chair of metal rested. Various controls were set into the arms of the chair, and the big
hands of the man who sat in it idly manipulated them. He was dressed in a one-piece steel
blue jumpsuit. His face was lined with age, and his deep set watery gray eyes blazed with
intelligence and purpose. His lips barely moved as his deep and commanding voice said:
"Dillon, here at last...and I...I am Odin. I believe that you and I have business between us to
Dillon smiled as he looked up into the face of the man who had expended so much time
and effort in trying to kill him. "And now that we're finally face to face, how is this
business between us going to end?"
"The only way it can end, of course. With you dying in total agony, begging for a mercy
that will not come." Odin's eyes bored into Dillon's with a fiery hatred. "Oh, you have
caused me much distraction and anguish. My delicate timetable has been rescheduled far
too many times due to your insufferable interference."
"Oh, cut the bullshit and let's get down to it, shall we? You didn't bring me here just so you
could go through the standard 'Ha-Ha, I win and you lose,' speech, didja? Now that would
truly disappoint me to no end. You've shown so much flair for the dramatic so far."
"I wanted you here at the last. I am planning another attack with The Voice in two hours.
The final attack that will bring the world to its knees. You will watch it here. After that
attack, nothing will matter."
Dillon's eyes narrowed in sudden alarm. "What are you planning, Odin? What are you
going to attack next?"
"Even as we speak, The Voice is being configured for a specific vibratory wave pattern
that will trigger a disruption in the local weather. But the effect will spread rapidly. Within
27 hours, there will be storms and hurricanes and tidal waves the like of which the world
has never seen. And they will scour the face of the Earth."
"This was always about revenge, wasn't it?" Kris said suddenly. She had been quiet all
throughout the exchange between Dillon and Odin but she could be silent no longer. "You
had always planned this. The other attacks were just preliminaries, warm-ups before the
main event, if you will. You just wanted to be sure that The Voice was powerful enough
for you to do what you really wanted it to do."
Odin's head turned slowly, almost as if he were in pain as he regarded Kris. "Very good,
young lady. And yes, you're absolutely right. My intention was always to bring destruction
down on the head of a world that should have ended long ego."
"And you're going to hide out here in the jungle and do what? Hang out after the
apocalypse and watch millions die?" Dillon asked. "Awfully wasteful, don't you think?"
"I created a device that would have ensured lasting peace on this planet for eons. The
Voice would have made nuclear weapons obsolete!" Odin's already deep voice boomed as
he turned back to look at Dillon. "What nation's leader in his right mind would keep
nuclear weapons when The Voice could detonate them right in their home silos? None!
Every nation would have willingly disarmed their nuclear weapons and that threat would
have been removed forever."
"Leaving only The Voice for them to worry about," Dillon said.
"The Voice has a flaw that can be exploited and one I would have revealed eventually."
"Don't you see, Gynt? That was the real reason the intelligence agencies rejected your
Voice and exiled you down here! Because you were the only man who truly understood
The Voice and the principals behind it. They would have never been comfortable trusting
one man with all that knowledge and power, and if you thought they would, then you're
worse than a naive fool."
"But I would given the knowledge to everybody!"
"Exactly the danger. Don't you get it yet? If you had approached the United States
alone or Russia alone or England alone, they'd have snapped up The Voice and you'd be
living in a palace today. But you wanted to be an idealist and give The Voice to the world.
And you know what the world decided? That since one nation alone couldn't have The
Voice, then nobody would have it. The very nations you approached made a pact to shut
Odin was silent for perhaps thirty seconds. Dillon cocked his head to the side and looked
at Odin carefully. There was something strange about his mannerisms. Maybe it was
because he was up there in years and old men did move oddly, but still...
Donovan Gynt and the two mercenaries behind Dillon had been silent so far but now
Gynt spoke up. "We should lock them up now and get them out of our hair until—"
Dillon leaped straight up into the air, bringing his handcuffed wrists from behind his back,
under his feet and up in front of him. He landed and whirled around, seizing hold of
Donovan Gynt, whose brain was still trying to catch up with the speed at which Dillon was
moving. Dillon grabbed the machine gun Gynt was holding and tore it loose from his
hands, swiftly smacking him with the butt and kicking his legs out from under him.
Kris squealed and dived for cover as Dillon cut down the two startled mercenaries and then
turned the machine gun on the curving banks of consoles and instruments. The technicians
screamed and ran like a flock of startled chickens surprised by a starving fox. Monitors
burst with impressively loud explosions and thick dark smoke billowed from the ruined
and smashed instruments.
And Odin sat impassively throughout this destruction, not moving. His powerful eyes
blazed with hatred. Dillon dropped the spent machine gun and reached for the holstered
gun of one of the slain mercenaries. He whirled and fired seven shots from the large
Browning automatic, all of them smashing into Odin's chest.
Odin did not move, did not cry out, and did not even blink as the large caliber bullets tore
into him. His eyes remained open, still looking at Dillon with that same hideous hatred.
Dillon stopped firing and looked closely at the still form sitting on the dais.
Kris was looking through the pockets of the slain mercenaries for the keys to their
handcuffs and found them. Donovan Gynt was lying on his side, groaning and struggling to
get to his feet. Dillon coolly walked over to where he was and brought the barrel of the
Browning down on the back of his head. Gynt slumped into unconsciousness with a
strange gargling gasp. Kris ran over to unlock Dillon's cuffs. "You certainly took your time
"Wanted to be sure we had the right guy." Dillon gestured for Kris to follow him. "And I'm
still not sure that we do." Dillon ran lightly up the steps of the raised dais. Odin did not
move, did not even acknowledge Dillon's getting closer.
"What's wrong with him?" Kris asked. "Is he catatonic?"
Dillon bent down and looked right into Odin's eyes. Odin did not react in the slightest.
Dillon jammed the automatic into his belt and reached out with his strong hands and seized
Odin's head. Tendons and sinews bunched like pythons on his arms as Dillon twisted and
yanked Odin's head right off his shoulders. Kris squealed and leaped back, expecting a
fountain of blood to gush forth.
The only thing that gushed was oil and other lubricating fluids from several tubes
protruding out of the neck. Dillon held up Odin's head, from which wires and cables and
fiber optic lines and computer webbing dangled. Kris's mouth flopped open in
astonishment. Dillon muttered a curse and dropkicked the head across the room.
"What does this mean?" Kris asked, totally stunned.
"Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain!" Dillon snapped. He put his fist right
into Odin's chest and yanked out a handful of circuitry. "I've been chasing the fucking
Wizard of Oz, that's what this means! This is nothing but a robot! A highly sophisticated
animatronic device I've been jerking around with while Odin's sitting somewhere in this
complex laughing his fool ass off! While I'm been patting myself on the back thinking I'm
saving the world he's been talking to me through his high tech puppet!" Dillon yanked the
automatic free and went back down the steps. "Get those guns from those guys and let's
"Go? Go where?"
"To find Odin and turn off The Voice. That thing up there may have been a fake but I don't
think that Odin's threat was."
"What about him?" Kris gestured at the still form of Donovan Gynt.
"Him? Oh, I got a quick answer for that." Dillon walked over to Gynt and bent down,
aiming right at Gynt's forehead.
"Oh, please, no! In God's name, I beg you, NO!"
Dillon brought the gun up to aim at a thin, small woman with pure white hair and a
lined face. She was one of the technicians who had run screaming from the room when
Dillon had first begun firing. Her wrinkled hands were trembling and tears were coursing
down her aged face. She ran over to where Gynt lay and kneeled down next to him.
"Please. Don't kill him. He's all I have left."
"Exactly who are you, lady?"
The old woman looked up at Dillon and wiped away her tears. She said with a mixture of
pride, sadness and amusement, "I am Odin, Dillon. I am Odin."
Dillon and Kris exchanged amazed looks. Kris lifted her index finger to the side of her own
head and twirled it in a corkscrew, crossing her eyes at the same time. Dillon shrugged and
hunkered down next to the old woman. "You'll forgive me if I'm just a little bit skeptical
that you could be Odin, ma'am. It was my understanding that Leopold Gynt had created
The Voice and it was he who was codenamed Odin."
The old woman was cradling Donovan's head in her lap and stroking his forehead. "He was
known as Odin for many years. And after his death, I adopted his name and his mission as
my own. Who had better claim to his name and his work than his wife?"
Dillon nodded in sudden understanding. "Of course. If it was a snake, it woulda bit me.
You were mentioned in the files I found but no one had heard or seen anything of you for
the past twenty years. It was assumed that you had died and nobody bothered to record the
"Exactly what I wanted the world to think. My husband died a broken, bitter man. He
drank himself to death, filled with self-loathing and guilt. For years I tried to persuade him
to either use The Voice or destroy it." The old woman laughed softly. "If he never used it, I
knew I would, or our sons. The Voice is the legacy of the Gynt family."
"It's a legacy that has killed your husband and one of your sons," Kris said softly. "And
now you would use it to destroy the world?"
The old woman looked up at Kris with red eyes that brimmed with tears. Her cracked,
raspy voice was a saw blade of rage that had festered inside of her for years. "My husband
was deprived of his life's work by an uncaring world that asked him to create the ultimate
weapon! They came to him, not the other way round! He devised The Voice with the aim
that if it was properly used, it would be the ultimate deterrent and no one would ever have
to fear war again! It wasn't his fault that the same people who asked him to create The
Voice were too small minded and petty to see the true potential of the device! They
decided that if they could not use the weapon, then the creator should be shuttled off to
some remote corner of the world where he could not create another! And I had to watch
him waste away! And you say I have no right to avenge the miserable heap of steaming
excrement his life became?"
Dillon seized hold of the old woman's thin upper arm and firmly, but gently pulled her
to her feet. "Mrs. Gynt, I'm truly sorry for what's happened to you and yours. But the
bottom line is this: I've come halfway across the world and stepped over a lot of bodies to
shut you down and I'm going to do just that. You're going to take me to The Voice and
you're going to show me how to turn it off." Dillon cocked the automatic and pointed it at
the still unconscious Donovan. "Or I'm going to kill your son."
Mrs. Gynt looked up into Dillon's hot golden eyes. "Oh, I have no doubt you will do
exactly what you say you will. If I had you working for me..." She shook her head ruefully.
"Time's up, Mrs. Gynt. Are you going to take me to The Voice or not?" "You'll leave my
son alive? And myself? You won't kill us? Or turn us over to
Dillon sighed heavily. "Ma'am, I'm supposed to radio British Intelligence and tell them
where to come get Odin. Far as I know, Odin is that robot sitting up there. You play
straight with me and take me to The Voice and you have my word that you and your son
can leave here alive. Where you go and what you do after that is up to you."
The old woman nodded and motioned for Dillon and Kris to follow her as she walked
toward a bank of elevators.
Kris whispered in Dillon's ear; "Are you sure you're doing the right thing?" Out of the side
of his mouth, Dillon whispered back, "No, but what the hell
am I gonna do? Look at her, Kris. The woman's on her last legs. It a miracle she's lived this
long and she's probably hung on through sheer willpower. She's maybe got another year or
two at most to live. What's the harm in letting her go? Without The Voice, she's just
another old woman."
"An old woman who controls a worldwide terrorist organization!"
"Then you take her to Tipp and tell him that a 90-year woman who looks like Norman
Rockwell's grandmama brought the world to its knees. I'll come visit you in the nuthouse
he'll throw you in."
"You may have a point there," Kris admitted reluctantly.
"It's my guess that nobody outside of her sons knew who Odin really was." Dillon raised
his voice. "How about it, Mrs. Gynt? Anybody ever knew you were the real power behind
that souped up dummy back there?"
Mrs. Gynt reached into a pocket of her lab coat, drew forth a keycard, and inserted it into a
slot. The elevator doors whooshed open and they stepped inside. A moment later, the
elevator was moving upwards. "No. I communicated with my agents completely by
electronic means. Occasionally I would have them flown here for brief periods and they
would return to the world and tell others that they had seen Odin. They were unknowingly
helping me to convince the world that Odin was a large, powerful man. Aged, yes, but still
a man. It was useful to have the robot as it kept all eyes off of me and allowed me to
continue working in peace behind the scenes."
"Where did you get the idea for such a thing?" Kris wanted to know.
Mrs. Gynt shrugged thin shoulders. "My people needed an Odin who was strong and
powerful and looked the part of a world terror. I provided such an Odin." The old woman
leaned against the wall of the elevator. "Not bad for a 90-year-old woman who looks like
Norman Rockwell's grandmama, eh?" She grinned at Dillon and he couldn't help but grin
Donovan Gynt sat up suddenly. A bandanna soaked in cold water from a canteen had been
slapped on his face, jolting him back into consciousness. He wiped the water out of his
eyes and looked up at the faces surrounding him. Most of the technicians had run outside
and alerted the mercenaries, who had then piled into the chamber. Gynt struggled to his
feet. Nobody else knew the reality behind Odin and he meant to keep it that way.
"Everybody out! Out! I'm fine!"
Several of the mercenaries were looking at the headless body of the Odin robot on the dais.
One of them turned and said to Gynt, "What the hell's going on here? A few days ago I was
standing here taking orders from that thing. It's a fuckin' robot? Where's Odin? Was that
thing Odin all the time?"
Gynt snorted convincingly. "Don't be crazy. That's a stand-in Odin had made up just in
case Dillon tried something funny. And it paid off. Dillon tried something and Odin got the
drop on him."
"Then why were you lying there knocked out? Where's Dillon? Where's Odin?"
Gynt snarled back. "You don't get paid to ask questions. You get paid to do what you're
told. Now get back outside and secure the camp. All of you crowded in here gawking at
things you don't even understand! Get back outside!"
The mercenaries were swapping knowing looks. Something here had gone wrong. Really
wrong. But it wasn't their job to figure out what it was. One thing experienced mercenaries
could do was smell when the paychecks were going bad. This setup suddenly smelled like
three-day-old fish left out in the sun, and they knew exactly what to do about it. Without a
word, they filed out. Shortly, they would loot the camp of everything that would might
them an extra buck, and then they would melt into the jungle.
But Donovan Gynt wasn't thinking about the mercenaries now. He sealed the room and
checked his gun, making sure he had extra ammunition clips. He had no illusions about
why he was still alive. Dillon wouldn't harm an old woman, but he would hold the threat of
killing Donovan over her head. His mother must have made a deal and taken Dillon to The
Voice. That was where Donovan would find him. Dillon couldn't be allowed to deactivate
The Voice. It was the last chance for Leopold Gynt to have his revenge, and his son would
make sure it was carried out and any and all costs.
"Dear God," Kris whispered. Dillon nodded in quiet agreement. Mrs. Gynt stood next to
them, watery eyes shining with pride as they all looked upon The Voice of Odin.
They stood on a catwalk, one of a series that encircled The Voice, a huge, copper-colored
cylinder a thousand feet high, veined with thick black cables that wound and snaked
around it, sparkling and crackling with arcane energies. The base of the device was a
spherical control room that Mrs. Gynt led them to. The room contained a single chair in
front of complicated control panel. Dillon examined the control board with fascination. "So
from here you can select the vibratory wave frequency needed?"
Mrs. Gynt nodded. "See here? This is a computerized database that stores the various
vibrational wave frequencies so that I don't have to keep recalibrating The Voice. Now
over here..." She gestured at another computer whose face was a kaleidoscope of shifting
cubes of color. "This is the actual device that locks onto vibratory wave patterns. My
husband...he was such a genius. Even back then he foresaw a day when the skies would be
full of satellites. The Voice itself can utilize those satellites by means of shifting binary
programs, based on Petrozello's Five Principals of Alternate Artificial Intelligences. And it
is those satellites that deliver the actual disruptive frequencies."
Dillon was nodding his head. "Incredible. I am impressed."
"Well, I'd be impressed if you'd tell me just one thing," Kris said. She was standing with
her arms folded, tapping one foot impatiently. "Exactly what in the hell was so important
about that damned ring you sent an army of bloody murderous maniacs after us to get it
Mrs. Gynt laughed and just for a second, Dillon could see the young girl she had been
many years ago. "Ah! The ring. Yes, I suppose there have been many who have been
wondering about that. Come, come...I'll show you." Mrs. Gynt walked around to the other
side of the control board and lovingly patted a huge solid black case affixed to the
machine. "This can only be opened by my palm print." She explained as she placed her
other hand on the face of the black case. After a few seconds, the front of the case split
apart into four sections and opened with a hiss. Dillon and Kris bent forward to look at
what was inside.
The golden ring with the large black opal, held in a web of electronic leads and
Mrs. Gynt looked at the shocked, surprised expressions on their faces. "The black opal was
carved from a meteorite that my husband found many, many years ago. He performed
exhaustive experiments on it and discovered that it was a power source unlike any that had
ever been seen on Earth. He fashioned the ring to hold that fragment that looks like an
opal, and it is that which powers The Voice."
Kris was plainly flabbergasted. "I don't believe it! You expect us to believe that
that...bauble is capable of powering this entire complex?"
"Oh, no, dear. Not the complex...just The Voice. And yes, that bauble as you call it has
more than enough power for a dozen Voices. And then, if it ever did run out of power, the
"That's enough, Mother! That's enough," Donovan Gynt snarled as he entered the
control room, gun pointing at Dillon. "Drop it."
Dillon carefully dropped the Browning on the ground and lifted his hands. "Toss your
gun away, Kris. Don't force the issue."
"There's no issue to force! I'm going to do what I should have done in the first place and
blow your miserable brains out! You won't take my birthright from me! Not now, not when
we're so close!"
Mrs. Gynt started walking forward, throwing a triumphant grin over her shoulder at Dillon.
"Excellent! Kill these two and then we—"
Kris exploded into action, throwing herself at Mrs. Gynt and grabbing up the old woman,
who squealed and kicked and spat. Donovan fired, trying to hit Kris and only succeeded in
blowing away his mother's left knee. And by then, Dillon was all over him.
Dillon's leg went up and out in a shattering sidekick, and took Donovan right in the chest.
Donovan flew backwards as if a bomb had gone off in his chest. He hit the curving wall of
the control room and tried to bring the gun up to aim and fire. But then there was this
horrible crunching noise and he suddenly had no feeling below his neck. He looked into
two eyes that were like swirling pools of hot molten gold and there was a low, soft voice in
his ear that said, "When you get to Hell, tell the rest of the losers Dillon says hi."
And there was another crunching sound. To Donovan it sounded like that terrible
crunching was right between his ears. And then he was dead.
Dillon turned away from the body and ran over to where Kris was holding Mrs. Gynt's
head in her lap. The old woman was shaking all over as if she was having a seizure. Dillon
ran an expert eye over her ruined leg. Below what remained of her knee, scraps of muscle
tissue and cartilage were holding her lower leg together. "She's done for. She's dying from
shock," he said. "There's nothing we can do for her. Donovan's killed her and I've done for
A hissing sound made Dillon look at the case containing the ring. It was slowly closing.
Dillon ran over and yanked the ring free just before the case shut completely. "Hah! At
least this thing won't hurt anybody else! We've done it, Kris!" Dillon held up the ring
Kris was bent over, listening to something Mrs. Gynt was muttering. The old woman
grinned wickedly at Dillon and then her eyes closed and she joined her husband and her
sons. Kris looked around at Dillon with terror in her wide eyes. "What the hell's the matter
with you? We've got the ring and we've shut down
The Voice. World's saved. It's Miller Time."
"She...she said that you needed a special code to remove the ring...she said that by just
yanking it out like that, you activated the self-destruct...this whole place is going to go up
in 30 minutes..."
"She was probably trying to throw a last scare into us," Dillon snorted in derision.
The floor under them vibrated ominously. Dillon looked down and then looked at the
ring. "Shit on TOAST!"
"If you've got the ring, then what could be powerful enough to blow up this whole
installation?" Kris asked.
"Remember back at the villa when I mentioned that Odin was probably using magma
pockets to power this base? Well, that's what's going to blow us up."
"Don't you think we'd better get outside and get a jeep and get the hell away from here,
"Best idea you've had all day. C'mon!"
"Where are all the jeeps and trucks?!" Kris shrieked.
She and Dillon were standing in the middle of the group of buildings where the
mercenaries had been housed. But there were no mercenaries left, the buildings had all
been ransacked, and there were no vehicles anywhere to be found. The mercenaries had
cleaned out, taking everything with them that could be taken.
The ground rumbled as if a generator deep inside the earth had suddenly come to life.
Kris looked wildly at Dillon. "What do we do?"
Dillon sucked on a tooth and looked up in the sky with an infuriating calm- ness. "Die,
"Can't we run? Can't we try to get far enough away?"
"Sweetheart, in a little less than fifteen minutes, we're going to be standing on top of a
volcano and our chances of outrunning a volcano are roughly—" Dillon suddenly held up a
hand. It seemed as if he was listening to something.
"What? What is it?" Kris demanded.
Dillon began running back toward the dome. "Maybe our only chance of coming out of this
mess alive! C'mon!"
"Where are you going? What are you going to do?" Kris demanded as she followed him
back inside the dome. The rumbling and shaking was growing ever more ominous and
pronounced. It was as if a giant under the Earth was turning over and over in a restless
sleep. Dillon spotted the elevator and darted inside.
"Ah-ha! Just what I was looking for!" He reached up into the rear left corner of the elevator
and unsnapped the small mirror there, standard in all elevators so that someone entering the
car could see if somebody was already inside. "I need something to signal Eli."
"I hear the engines of his plane. He's probably been searching for us all this time. I need to
let him know where we are so we can get outta here." Dillon ran back outside, heading for
the long concrete path that was just about the nearest open area. Kris looked up anxiously
into the sky. She could hear the cargo plane's engines now herself, but she was at a loss to
understand just how Eli was going to land and take off, especially with the ground shaking
like Charo having a conniption fit. Dillon angled the mirror to catch the sun's rays and
flashed a signal straight up where there could be no mistaking it for what it was: a call for
Shortly, the cargo plane roared overhead, flying as slowly as it could without stalling out.
Kris did her part, jumping up and down and screaming until her tonsils hurt. Dillon kept
flashing the signal as the cargo plane continued on its way.
"He didn't see you!" Kris wailed.
"Hold on a sec! Wait!" Dillon was a seasoned pilot and he could tell by the sound of the
engines that the plane was turning and coming back their way. Strange groaning sounds
were coming from the ground and zigzagging cracks began opening in the concrete path.
Foul smelling gases belched out into the air.
The cargo plane appeared overhead again and this time, a large gray bundle was thrown
from the hatchway to thump to the ground some ten feet from them. Dillon ran over and
began undoing the bundle. Kris looked on in total bafflement.
"Isn't he going to land?" Kris demanded. Dillon didn't answer her. He was totally focused
on his task, and Kris watched in amazement as he removed a bulky nylon and canvas
harness from the bundle and quickly strapped it on. A large sheet of orange plastic was
removed next, which he threw on the ground. He pulled out a black canister and twisted the
valve. Kris heard a loud hissing and to her wonderment, the orange plastic sheet began to
fill out and shortly resolved itself into the shape of a balloon. It was attached to a nylon
cord as thick as her wrist, which was attached to Dillon's harness.
More cracks were appearing and spurts and bubbles of red-hot magma were seeping
upwards, oozing outwards in all directions. The dome itself has thousands of cracks and
jagged gashes opening in its surface. Something exploded inside the dome and Dillon
yelled, "Get down!" They wrapped their arms over their heads for cover as debris was
thrown far into the air and over the clearing.
"We're not going to make it!" Kris screamed.
"Just hang on tight to me! Whatever you do, don't let go!"
The balloon had risen high into the sky, and suddenly Kris knew what Dillon was up to.
"You can't be serious!"
"You wanna stay and blow up? Do what I tell you!"
Kris wrapped her arms around Dillon's neck and her legs around his waist as the cargo
plane appeared again. It was flying somewhat higher now and a metal loop was hanging
from the rear. The speed of the plane increased.
"What if he misses?" Kris yelled.
Dillon grinned and gave her a quick kiss. "It's gonna really ruin our day, then. Hang on!"
The cargo plane roared overhead and the metal loop dropped right over the balloon. It
tightened on the nylon rope and Dillon and Kris were yanked off the ground and up into
the sky. Kris's scream knifed through the air, in counterpoint to Dillon's joyous
"WAH-HOO!" They were tumbling wildly, twisting this way and that. The trees at the edge
of the clearing were coming up fast and Kris yowled "The trees! The trees!"
Inside the plane, the cable was being winched inside as Eli yanked back on the yoke,
climbing for altitude. Dillon's legs brushed the top of the trees as they barely cleared them.
Behind them, the ground under Odin's complex seemed to sag as if tired and then
with a rending BOOM!, a jet of super hot magma burst through the concrete path and
leaped upwards for a thousand feet, spewing this way and that. A rush of hot air washed
over them as the plane climbed higher. The dome broke apart as if it were made of plastic,
another terrible explosion ripping through the structure. The building that had housed the
mercenaries caught fire and burst apart as if it had been dynamited. Odin's dome was
collapsing, crumbling into rubble, and the dreams of a doomed family crumbled along with
it. More explosions tore The Voice apart for all time and the components fell into a lake of
magma to be melted into sludge. Great gouts of magma arced into the air, washing over the
dome and covering it as if it had never existed. It was as if the earth herself was determined
to eradicate the offensive structure.
Dillon and Kris were winched into the plane and helped inside by Eli's men, who were
grinning in relief at the narrow escape Dillon had pulled off. Eli hurried into the back,
jerking a thumb at one of his men to go forward and take the controls. Kris was helped to a
bucket seat that folded out from the bulkhead while Dillon just leaned up against a cargo
container, his sweat-streaked face displaying his usual Cheshire Cat grin.
Eli shook his head and laughed softly. "Can I ask you just ONE question?"
"Considering you've just saved my life, why not?"
"Do you have a reason why you cut these thing so damn close?"
Dillon shrugged and gratefully took a bottle of water from one of Eli's crew before
answering: "Wouldn't be any fun otherwise, now would it?" He looked over at Kris, who
was breathing loudly with her head between her knees. "How you doin' over there, kid?"
Kris sat up straight, her lovely face flushed with excitement and fear, and pushed back her
hair before answering:
"One of these days you are going to have to get a real job."
Eli roared with laughter. "So we through here? The Voice of Odin destroyed?"
Dillon swallowed more water and nodded. "Blown to pieces."
"Bad guys dead?"
"Roasting in Hell where they belong."
"So where do you want to go now?"
"Back to Antofagasto. Take a couple of days to rest up and relax. Then New York."
Eli frowned. "You sure that's a good idea? You remember what happened the last time you
were there. The cops'll be on your ass in no time."
Dillon grinned again and gestured at Kris. "Gotta take my date home, don't I?"
"I simply cannot get over this car. Where did you get it?"
Dillon and Kris were riding in a huge silver beast of a car that turned heads as they drove
to the West Manhattan condo Kris's sister lived in, not far from the West Side Highway. It
was an elegant, streamlined car—a convertible—and Dillon had the top down so they
could enjoy the bright sunshine pouring down on the city. The massive hood was twice as
long as a modern car's and the large engine thrummed with barely contained power. Kris
couldn't get over the size of the front seat. It was like sitting on a living room sofa.
Dillon was tapping the steering wheel, listening to a Celine Dion CD. "This is a 1959
Bethea Roadmaster. One of the finest examples of an automobile you're likely to see. I
bought it about ten years ago. Cost me a fortune to have it rebuilt and refitted but it's worth
"You never cease to amaze me, you know that?" Kris asked. She was wearing a smart red
pantsuit while Dillon wore a double-breasted pale gray suit. They had spent a couple of
days in Antofagasto after their narrow escape and then Eli had flown them to New York,
where Dillon intended to deliver Kris to her sister. Now that the danger was over, there was
no reason why she couldn't pick up her life again.
But Kris found herself having strange feelings she hadn't felt before. Despite all the danger
and the death she had seen and experienced since meeting Dillon, she couldn't deny that
she had never felt more alive. She now understood something about him: the rush you felt
when you rolled the dice against Death and won. She had to admit, even though she'd been
terrified half the time, the other half had been fun. And she wasn't sure she wanted it to
Dillon pulled up in front a gleaming white spire that thrust upwards some 40 stories. The
doorman hurried over and said, "You can't park here, sir. Sorry."
Dillon handed over a $50 bill. "I'm just going to see the lady upstairs and I'll be right back
down...give me ten minutes okay?"
The doorman made the bill disappear with a skill that would have wrenched a gasp of envy
from David Copperfield, and made a slight bow, touching the shin- ing black brim of his
cap. "Very good, sir."
Dillon and Kris walked into the lobby. "I love New York," Dillon said. A bank of a dozen
elevators was to their left. Kris placed a hand on Dillon's arm.
"I want to say something before we go up to my sister's."
Dillon nodded. "Sure. Is everything okay?"
Kris took a deep breath and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Won't you change your
mind and take me with you?"
Dillon's arms went around her waist and his copper eyes were serious and somber as he
said; "I can't, Kris. Really. I don't have a normal life, as you can see. But I've never had a
normal life. I'm used to this. This is the only life I know. And I've got too much to do yet. I
made a promise to my mother and I haven't fulfilled that promise yet."
Kris sighed and placed her head on his chest. "Don't you want to be in love? To get
married? Have children?"
Dillon lifted her head and kissed her gently. "Of course I do. I'm arrogant, insensitive and
rude, but I'm human as well. I want all those things. But not now. Not now." He kissed her
Kris nodded and blinked back the tears that wanted to spill from her eyes. "Well, when you
change you mind, look a girl up, okay?"
Dillon kissed the tip of her nose. "That's a promise. Now, let's go take you to your sister
before I change my mind."
A very petite woman who looked like a smaller version of Kris, except that her eyes were
lighter in color and her hair was cut short, framing a heart-shaped face, opened the door.
"Oh, my God!" she shrieked upon seeing them. "Didn't you get my message?"
Kris hugged her sister Anna and kissed her warmly on the cheek. "Dillon hasn't checked
his messages since we landed an hour ago. I wanted to get right over here and see you and
he's got to leave right away."
Anna's eyes were large and full of meaning as she said quickly; "Why don't you go back
downstairs and I'll meet you—"
Dillon instantly picked up that something was wrong and reached out to yank Kris back out
of the apartment; but from behind the door, a massive hand shot out and seized Anna by
the neck. A familiar voice snarled, "Come inside and close the door or I snap her neck like
Kris squealed in fear, but stepped inside. Dillon followed and shut the door. Frederick
Whalen stepped into view, his hand still wrapped around Anna's neck. "That's right," The
Whale said in that voice that rumbled like two boulders grinding together. "Let's all just
relax and be friends." He raised his voice slightly and said, "I have the situation under
control, Lady Thelma."
Lady Thelma Sharpe came stumbling in from the master bedroom, one wrinkled claw of a
hand wrapped around tall glass of vodka. She looked terrible. Her eyes were red and her
hair was stringy and unkempt. Her soiled brown dress looked as if she'd been sleeping in it
for days, whereas The Whale looked cool and capable in khaki pants and a crisp white
shirt. "At last," Lady Thelma cackled. "At last."
Dillon was honestly surprised to see them here. He'd actually forgotten about them after the
throwdown at Numby Castle. "I got to give you two points for persistence. How the hell
did you know we'd be showing up here?"
Lady Thelma flopped into a leather recliner and took a gulp of vodka. "I know more about
Kris than she knows about herself. I knew she'd show up at her sister's house eventually. It
was just a matter of being patient and placing a tap on her phone and waiting until Kris
Whalen released Anna and she ran over to hug Kris. "I'm sorry! I didn't know Lady Thelma
was like this! Before I knew what was happening, they were inside and told me that they'd
kill the children if I didn't cooperate!"
Dillon's copper eyes darkened to molten gold. He looked up at Whalen. "Y'know, I thought
you were a professional. Threatening kids isn't professional."
Whalen was unmoved. "Where is Lady Thelma's ring?"
"Blown to Hell and gone. Along with Odin, Chew Mi and the Gynts. I've settled all
accounts with them in full."
"Liar!" Lady Thelma shrieked and threw the glass at Dillon. He ducked, smoothly
drew his Magnum Desert Eagle and fired at Whalen. The heavy Mag- num slug smashed
into Whalen's thigh and the giant's long arm swept out and smacked Dillon's arm with an
impact he felt in his whole body. The gun went flying across the room to hit the wall. But
by then, Dillon had rolled under Whalen's follow-up swing. His foot pistoned into
Whalen's ribs and everybody heard a distinct CRACK! as two of his ribs broke.
Kris yowled like a stepped on cat and leaped across the room to land on Lady Thelma.
The recliner went tumbling over and both women were screeching and cursing as they
rolled over and over, punching and kicking.
Whalen's fist looped up and around and slammed into Dillon's chest. Dillon went sailing
through the air to hit the wall hard enough to crack plaster. He dropped to the floor,
gasping for breath, shaking his head to clear it. Whalen rushed him and ran right into
Dillon's switchblade, which slid from the ejection sheath strapped on his right forearm. The
blade took him in the stomach and Whalen roared and seized Dillon with both hands, clean
jerking him right off the floor to slam into the ceiling. Dillon's right foot lashed out to
crack Whalen in the nose, splitting it like a tomato. Blood gushed as if from a garden hose.
Kris got to her feet and kicked off her pumps. "Go make sure the kids are okay!" she yelled
over her shoulder to Anna. Lady Thelma got to her feet, and from a pocket of her dress
withdrew a kitchen knife.
"I'm going to cut you until there's nothing left but bone!" Lady Thelma snarled, waving the
knife in front of her, advancing slowly.
Kris was bobbing and weaving like Sugar Ray Leonard. "Come on and do it then,
bitch. 'Cause I'm sick and tired of taking your shit!"
Whalen dropped Dillon, who rolled between the giant's legs and came up behind him.
He reached down to his belt and twisted the buckle. It came free, along with a length of
nylon cord. Dillon leaped on The Whale's back, wrapped the cord around his neck and
twisted viciously, whispering into Whalen's right ear, "You wanna threaten kids, big man?
Lemme show you what I do to tough guys who threaten kids."
Dillon's corded muscles bunched and the sleeves of his suit jacket split as he pulled
backwards with all his strength, shoving his feet into the small of Whalen's back at the
same time. Both men fell backwards and Dillon shoved up and out with every bit of power
he had. Incredibly, The Whale's massive body went sailing the length of the apartment,
right over the heads of Lady Thelma and Kris and right through the double doors leading to
the balcony. There was an impressive smash as the glass door disintegrated.
Lady Thelma gawped at seeing Whalen manhandled thus. Kris neatly stepped in and
swung her small fist, striking Lady Thelma's jaw with such force that it shattered like
cheap china. Lady Thelma dropped to her knees, the knife clattering on the parquet wood
Dillon set himself and charged out onto the balcony, his hot golden eyes burning with that
terrible anger that was usually the last thing his enemies ever saw. Whalen got shakily to
his feet, his once white shirt now completely red, and his head came up as Dillon's foot
took him full in the chest. Frederick Whalen went over the railing and fell 12 stories to the
street, where he landed with enough impact to shatter sixty percent of the bones in his
body. He lay on the sidewalk, an immense, bloody slab of muscle that had just enough life
left to see Dillon's face looking over the railing. And those golden eyes blazing with a
molten fire of righteousness.
Dillon went back inside the apartment. The fight had been short, but the living room was a
wreck. Anna would be remodeling for days. Dillon hurriedly reached for his wallet and
pulled out a handful of bills. He pressed them into Kris's hand. "Give this to your sister and
tell her sorry for the mess."
"I will! I will. But you get out of here! The police will be here soon!"
Dillon gestured at the unconscious woman on the floor. "What about her?" Kris waved a
disdainful hand. "I can handle her. You just go!"
Dillon was digging through his pockets. "I got something for you. A little souvenir of your
adventure. Ah, here we go!" Dillon withdrew the golden ring he'd taken from the control
center of The Voice of Odin and slipped it on the index finger of her left hand where it
fitted perfectly. "I had it resized back in Chile."
Kris looked at the sparkling opal that was actually a piece of the stars. A piece that had
powered the most dangerous weapon on Earth. "Oh...I don't know what to say..."
Dillon kissed her warmly. "Don't say anything. Just take care of yourself, Kris. Always
take care of yourself." And then he was gone out the door.
Dillon drove furiously down the West Side Highway. He was pursued by several police
cars that had their sirens blaring and their bubblegum lights spinning like mad. After
leaping over the dead body of The Whale, he'd jumped into his car and headed for the dock
where Eli was waiting with the cargo plane. He could see the plane as it kicked the water
into a frothing spray going. Eli was warming up the engines.
His cell phone rang and he reached for it, flipped it open. "I'm busy, Eli!"
"Just wanted you to know that the Coast Guard has been alerted. You want to step on
"Open the hatch and start takeoff!"
"You gotta be shittin' me."
"Just do it!" Dillon yelled and weaved around slower traffic as he stepped on the gas. The
powerful engine of the Roadmaster boomed and the vehicle surged forward like a metallic
greyhound, leaving slower cars in its wake.
The cargo plane moved slowly away from the dock, even as the rear cargo doors slowly
Dillon drove onto the dock, raising a shower of sparks from the car's underside as it cleared
a low curb and landed with a bone-jangling impact on the wooden dock. The police cars
followed. Dillon gritted his teeth and tromped on the gas pedal.
The Roadmaster leaped off the dock, speeding through the air a dozen feet above the water,
to land inside the cargo plane with a crash of breaking glass and crunching metal. The
doors closed as Eli gunned the engines, and the cargo plane bounced over the choppy
waves and lifted into the air.
Dillon climbed out of his car and looked ruefully at the smoke billowing from the hood. He
walked to the cockpit, loosening his tie, and flopped into the co-pilot's seat. "Y'know, I lose
more cars this way."
Eli looked at his friend and shook his head. "Where to now?"
Dillon shrugged; "Where else do the heroes fly off to? Into the sunset, bro...into the
Anna had made sure her two children were fine. Lady Thelma had made them drink shots
of vodka to put them to sleep and they would wake up no worse the wear. Anna walked
through the wreck of her living room to find Kris standing on the balcony, fingering a
golden ring on her finger. She was watching a plane fly into the sunset and tears were
flowing freely down her face.
Anna touched Kris on the shoulder. Kris half turned and bent down to hug
"Kris, are you all right?"
"Oh, my...YES...I'm all right..." Kris turned back to watch the plane disappear into the
blazing corona of the setting sun and she laughed with true happiness. "We're ALL going
to be all right."
Nobody writes a story like Dillon And The Voice of Odin alone and I'd like to take the
opportunity to thank some people who helped immensely:
My wife, Patricia Cabbagestalk-Ferguson for her unending support. Nobody believes in
my talent more than she does and a lot of times, that belief is the one thing that gets me
through a rough patch when the words don't come so easy. A remarkable woman of infinite
insight and wisdom far beyond her years who never loses faith in me even when I do.
My sisters, Jan Shipman, who was one of Dillon's first fans and Valarie Ferguson who
calls me up just to remind me how blessed I am.
Joel Jenkins , the best friend I have who I've never met but has been a wellspring of
inspiration and encouragement. Thanks for all your support, Joel...I love you, buddy.
Russ Anderson and Mike McGee, two gentleman of extraordinary talent in their own
right who have been two of Dillon's biggest fans from Chapter One.
And I can't forget all the readers who have emailed me to comment on Dillon And The
Voice Of Odin, because they're the ones who count. They're the ones who gave up valuable
time to read the story and let me know what they thought about it.
And last, but certainly not least, my parents, Leroy and Corine Ferguson, who instilled
in me a love of reading and movies and to so many other things that inspired me to write in
the first place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Much like removing a bandaid, I suppose the best way to get through this is to rip it off as
quickly as possible, accept the pain and move on:
My name is Derrick Ferguson and I'm from Brooklyn, New York where I've lived most of
my life. Married for 27 years to the wonderful Patricia Cabbagestalk-Ferguson, who lets
me get away with far more than is good for me.
My interest include old radio shows, classic pulps from the 30's/40's, comic books, fan
fiction, Star Trek, pop culture, science fiction, animation, television and movies...oh
yeah...movies. I'm currently the co-host of the podcast Better in the Dark where my partner
Thomas Deja and I rant and rave about movies on a bi-weekly basis.
My primary love is reading and writing and I've written five books to date:
Dillon and the Voice of Odin , my love letter to classic pulp action/adventure with a
modern flavor and the sequel, Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell.
Derrick Ferguson's Movie Review Notebook and its sequel, The Return of Derrick
Ferguson's Movie Review Notebook.
Diamondback Vol 1: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time , a spaghetti western
disguised as a modern-day gangster/crime thriller.
Anything else you'd like to know about me, check out my LiveJournal.
Also by Derrick Ferguson
DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL – When old enemies and an
emissary from a far country rudely interrupt Dillon's vacation, he discovers that an old
friend has managed to embroil him in a brewing civil war of the island nation of Xonira.
The Lord Chancellor of Xonira figures he can unite the enemy factions if he recovers the
ancient artifact called the Golden Bell and so he hires Dillon and Eli to recover it from the
haunted vaults of the sealed Blagdasen Citadel. But what good can come from unearthing
an artifact forged in blood? And what of the ancient forces of evil guarding it? The author
of The Nuclear Suitcase, Joel Jenkins, describes Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell
as "James Bond meets Cthulhu" and you'll want to check out this heady mixture of the spy
thriller and horror genres! (ISBN: 1449590632)
DIAMONDBACK: IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME – When a gunman
calling himself Diamondback Vogel arrives in Denbrook offering his services to the
highest bidder, the crimelords who have a stranglehold on the city have some questions to
ask: Is this the same Diamondback who was reputed to have been killed in a bloody
Foreman City shootout or is he an imposter, and why does his arrival coincide with an
impending shipment of hi-tech guns and ammunition that will make one crime boss a very
rich man? (ISBN: 0979732980)
DERRICK FERGUSON'S MOVIE REVIEW NOTEBOOK – Derrick Ferguson, the
co-host of the Better in the Dark podcast, tells all about the movies you've never seen,
about the movies you have seen; and about the movies you should never see! "Derrick puts
many critics to shame with his reviews. Not only are they well-written and entertaining, but
more importantly, Derrick Ferguson understands what movies are about. In his reviews, he
reflects a true love for the medium of film, a love that many critics have either lost or never
had." --Percival Constantine, author of Love & Bullets
RETURN OF DERRICK FERGUSON'S MOVIE REVIEW NOTEBOOK – The rumors
of Uncle Derrick's unfortunate demise were greatly exaggerated, and now the co-host of
the popular Better in the Dark movie podcast returns with reviews of the movies that you
should see and the movies that you never should see... (ISBN: 0979732972)
Books Available From Pulpwork Press
Dillon and the Voice of Odin
Derrick Ferguson’s Movie Review Notebook
Return of Derrick Ferguson’s Movie Review Notebook
Diamondback: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell
Exiles of the Dire Planet
Into the Dire Planet
Devil Take the Hindmost
The Nuclear Suitcase
Through the Groaning Earth
The Sea Witch
Bury Me Deep & Other Southern Folk Songs
Wake the Dead
Born Under a Bad Sign: The Ghost Breaker & Other Weird Heroes
Love & Bullets
How the West was Weird edited by Russ Anderson
For more information on these and other titles or for online ordering, visit us at