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Tema: Tom Clancy ~ Tom Klensi  (Pročitano 71333 puta)
15. Avg 2005, 06:50:27
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Tom Clancy
Patriot Games

   When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

EDMUND BURKE


   Behind all the political rhetoric being hurled at us from abroad, we are bringing home one unassailable fact – [terrorism is] a crime by any civilized standard, committed against innocent people, away from the scene of political conflict, and must be dealt with as a crime . . .
   In our recognition of the nature of terrorism as a crime lies our best hope of dealing with it . . .
   Let us use the tools that we have. Let us invoke the cooperation we have the right to expect around the world, and with that cooperation let us shrink the dark and dank areas of sanctuary until these cowardly marauders are held to answer as criminals in an open and public trial for the crimes they have committed, and receive the punishment they so richly deserve.

WILLIAM H. WEBSTER, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, October 15,1985
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Chapter 1
A Sunny Day in Londontown

   Ryan was nearly killed twice in half an hour. He left the taxi a few blocks short of his destination. It was a fine, clear day, the sun already low in the blue sky. Ryan had been sitting for hours in a series of straight-back wooden chairs, and he wanted to walk a bit to work the kinks out. Traffic was relatively light on the streets and sidewalks. That surprised him, but he looked forward to the evening rush hour. Clearly these streets had not been laid out with automobiles in mind, and he was sure that the afternoon chaos would be something to behold. Jack's first impression of London was that it would be a fine town to walk in, and he moved at his usual brisk pace, unchanged since his stint in the Marine Corps, marking time unconsciously by tapping the edge of his clipboard against his leg.
   Just short of the corner the traffic disappeared, and he moved to cross the street early. He automatically looked left, right, then left again as he had since childhood, and stepped off the curb –
   And was nearly crushed by a two-story red bus that screeched past him with a bare two feet to spare.
   "Excuse me, sir." Ryan turned to see a police officer – they call them constables over here, he reminded himself – in uniform complete to the Mack Sennett hat. "Please do be careful and cross at the corners. You might also mind the painted signs on the pavement to look right or left. We try not to lose too many tourists to the traffic."
   "How do you know I'm a tourist?" He would now, from Ryan's accent.
   The cop smiled patiently. "Because you looked the wrong way, sir, and you dress like an American. Please be careful, sir. Good day." The bobby moved off with a friendly nod, leaving Ryan to wonder what there was about his brand-new three-piece suit that marked him as an American.
   Chastened, he walked to the corner. Painted lettering on the blacktop warned him to LOOK RIGHT, along with an arrow for the dyslexic. He waited for the light to change, and was careful to stay within the painted lines. Jack remembered that he'd have to pay close attention to the traffic, especially when he rented the car Friday. England was one of the last places in the world where the people drove on the wrong side of the road. He was sure it would take some getting used to.
   But they did everything else well enough, he thought comfortably, already drawing universal observations one day into his first trip to Britain. Ryan was a practiced observer, and one can draw many conclusions from a few glances. He was walking in a business and professional district. The other people on the sidewalk were better dressed than their American counterparts would be – aside from the punkers with their spiked orange and purple hair, he thought. The architecture here was a hodgepodge ranging from Octavian Augustus to Mies van der Rohe, but most of the buildings had an old, comfortable look that in Washington or Baltimore would long since have been replaced with an unbroken row of new and soulless glass boxes. Both aspects of the town dovetailed nicely with the good manners he'd encountered so far. It was a working vacation for Ryan, but first impressions told him that it would be a very pleasant one nonetheless.
   There were a few jarring notes. Many people seemed to be carrying umbrellas. Ryan had been careful to check the day's weather forecast before setting out on his research trip. A fair day had been accurately predicted – in fact it had been called a hot day, though temperatures were only in the upper sixties. A warm day for this time of year, to be sure, but "hot"? Jack wondered if they called it Indian summer here. Probably not. Why the umbrellas, though? Didn't people trust the local weather service? Was that how the cop knew I was an American?
   Another thing he ought to have anticipated was the plethora of Rolls-Royces on the streets. He hadn't seen more than a handful in his entire life, and while the streets were not exactly crowded with them, there were quite a few. He himself usually drove around in a five-year-old VW Rabbit. Ryan stopped at a newsstand to purchase a copy of The Economist, and had to fumble with the change from his cab fare for several seconds in order to pay the patient dealer, who doubtless also had him pegged for a Yank. He paged through the magazine instead of watching where he was going as he went down the street, and presently found himself halfway down the wrong block. Ryan stopped dead and thought back to the city map he'd inspected before leaving the hotel. One thing Jack could not do was remember street names, but he had a photographic memory for maps. He walked to the end of the block, turned left, proceeded two blocks, then right, and sure enough there was St. James's Park. Ryan checked his watch; he was fifteen minutes early. It was downhill past the monument to a Duke of York, and he crossed the street near a longish classical building of white marble.
   Yet another pleasant thing about London was the profusion of green spaces. The park looked big enough, and he could see that the grass was tended with care. The whole autumn must have been unseasonably warm. The trees still bore plenty of leaves. Not many people around, though. Well, he shrugged, it's Wednesday. Middle of the week, the kids were all in school, and it was a normal business day. So much the better, he thought. He'd deliberately come over after the tourist season. Ryan did not like crowds. The Marine Corps had taught him that, too.
   "Daddee!" Ryan's head snapped around to see his little daughter running toward him from behind a tree, heedless as usual of her safety. Sally arrived with her customary thump against her tall father. Also as usual, Cathy Ryan trailed behind, never quite able to keep up with their little white tornado. Jack's wife did look like a tourist. Her Canon 35mm camera was draped over one shoulder, along with the camera case that doubled as an oversized purse when they were on vacation.
   "How'd it go. Jack?"
   Ryan kissed his wife. Maybe the Brits don't do that in public either, he thought. "Great, babe. They treated me like I owned the place. Got all my notes tucked away." He tapped his clipboard. "Didn't you get anything?" Cathy laughed.
   "The shops here deliver." She smiled in a way that told him she'd parted with a fairish bit of the money they had allocated for shopping. "And we got something really nice for Sally."
   "Oh?" Jack bent over to look his daughter in the eye. "And what might that be?"
   "It's a surprise. Daddy." The little girl twisted and giggled like a true four-year-old. She pointed to the park. "Daddy, they got a lake with swans and peccalins!"
   "Pelicans," Jack corrected.
   "Big white ones!" Sally loved peccalins.
   "Uh-huh," Ryan observed. He looked up to his wife. "Get any good pictures?"
   Cathy patted her camera. "Oh, sure. London is already Canonized – or would you prefer that we spent the whole day shopping?" Photography was Cathy Ryan's only hobby, and she was good at it.
   "Ha!" Ryan looked down the street. The pavement here was reddish, not black, and the road was lined with what looked like beech trees. The Mall, wasn't it? He couldn't remember, and would not ask his wife, who'd been to London many times. The Palace was larger than he'd expected, but it seemed a dour building, three hundred yards away, hidden behind a marble monument of some sort. Traffic was a little thicker here, but moved briskly. "What do we do for dinner?"
   "Catch a cab back to the hotel?" She looked at her watch. "Or we can walk."
   "They're supposed to have a good dining room. Still early, though. These civilized places make you wait until eight or nine." He saw another Rolls go by in the direction of the Palace. He was looking forward to dinner, though not really to having Sally there. Four-year-olds and four-star restaurants didn't go well together. Brakes squealed off to his left. He wondered if the hotel had a baby-sitting –
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   BOOM!

   Ryan jumped at the sound of an explosion not thirty yards away. Grenade, something in his mind reported. He sensed the whispering sound of fragments in the air and a moment later heard the chatter of automatic weapons fire. He spun around to see the Rolls turned crooked in the street. The front end seemed lower than it should be, and its path was blocked by a black sedan. There was a man standing at its right front fender, firing an AK-47 rifle into the front end, and another man was racing around to the car's left rear.
   "Get down!" Ryan grabbed his daughter's shoulder and forced her to the ground behind a tree, yanking his wife roughly down beside her. A dozen cars were stopped raggedly behind the Rolls, none closer than fifty feet, and these shielded his family from the line of fire. Traffic on the far side was blocked by the sedan. The man with the Kalashnikov was spraying the Rolls for all he was worth.
   "Sonuvabitch!" Ryan kept his head up, scarcely able to believe what he saw. "It's the goddamned IRA – they're killing somebody right –" Ryan moved slightly to his left. His peripheral vision took in the faces of people up and down the street, turning and staring, in each face the black circle of a shock-opened mouth. This is really happening! he thought, right in front of me, just like that, just like some Chicago gangster movie. Two bastards are committing murder. Right here. Right now. Just like that. "Son of a bitch!"
   Ryan moved farther left, screened by a stopped car. Covered by its front fender, he could see one man standing at the left rear of the Rolls, just standing there, his pistol hand extended as though expecting someone to bolt from the passenger door. The bulk of the Rolls screened Ryan from the AK gunner, who was crouched down to control his weapon. The near gunman had his back to Ryan. He was no more than fifty feet away. He didn't move, concentrating on the passenger door. His back was still turned. Ryan would never remember making any conscious decision.
   He moved quickly around the stopped car, head down, keeping low and accelerating rapidly, his eyes locked on his target – the small of the man's back – just as he'd been taught in high school football. It took only a few seconds to cover the distance, with Ryan's mind reaching out, willing the man to stay dumb just a moment longer. At five feet Ryan lowered his shoulder and drove off both legs. His coach would have been proud.
   The blind-side tackle caught the gunman perfectly. His back bent like a bow and Ryan heard bones snap as his victim pitched forward and down. A satisfying klonk told him that the man's head had bounced off the bumper on the way to the pavement. Ryan got up instantly – winded but full of adrenaline – and crouched beside the body. The man's pistol had dropped from his hand and lay beside the body. Ryan grabbed it. It was an automatic of some sort he had never handled. It looked like a 9mm Makarov or some other East Bloc military issue. The hammer was back and the safety off. He fitted the gun carefully in his right hand – his left hand didn't seem to be working right, but Ryan ignored that. He looked down at the man he'd just tackled and shot him once in the hip. Then he brought the gun up to eye level and moved to the right rear corner of the Rolls. He crouched lower still and peeked around the edge of the bodywork.
   The other gunman's AK was lying on the street and he was firing into the car with his own pistol, something else in his other hand. Ryan took a deep breath and stepped from behind the Rolls, leveling his automatic at the man's chest. The other gunman turned his head first, then swiveled off-balance to bring his own gun around. Both men fired at the same instant. Ryan felt a fiery thump in his left shoulder and saw his own round take the man in the chest. The 9mm slug knocked the man backward as though from a hard punch. Ryan brought his own pistol down from recoil and squeezed off another round. The second bullet caught the man under the chin and exploded out the back of his head in a wet, pink cloud. Like a puppet with severed strings, the gunman fell to the pavement without a twitch. Ryan kept his pistol centered on the man's chest until he saw what had happened to his head.
   "Oh, God!" The surge of adrenaline left him as quickly as it had come. Time slowed back down to normal, and Ryan found himself suddenly dizzy and breathless. His mouth was open and gasping for air. Whatever force had been holding his body erect seemed to disappear, leaving his frame weak, on the verge of collapse. The black sedan backed up a few yards and accelerated past him, racing down the street, then turning left up a side street. Ryan didn't think to take the number. He was stunned by the flashing sequence of events with which his mind had still not caught up.
   The one he'd shot twice was clearly dead, his eyes open and surprised at fate, a foot-wide pool of blood spreading back from his head. Ryan was chilled to see a grenade in his gloved left hand. He bent down to ensure that the cotter pin was still in place on the wooden stick handle, and it was a slow, painful process to straighten up. Next he looked to the Rolls.
   The first grenade had torn the front end to shreds. The front wheels were askew, and the tires flat on the blacktop. The driver was dead. Another body was slumped over in the front seat. The thick windshield had been blasted to fragments. The driver's face was – gone, a red spongy mass. There was a red smear on the glass partition separating the driver's seat from the passenger compartment. Jack moved around the car and looked in the back. He saw a man lying prone on the floor, and under him the corner of a woman's dress. He tapped the pistol butt against the glass. The man stirred for a moment, then froze. At least he was alive.
   Ryan looked at his pistol. It was empty, the slide locked back on a dry clip. His breath was coming in shudders now. His legs were wobbling under him and his hands were beginning to shake convulsively, which gave his wounded shoulder brief, sharp waves of intense pain. He looked around and saw something to make him forget that –
   A soldier was running toward him, with a police officer a few yards behind. One of the Palace guards, Jack thought. The man had lost his bearskin shako but still had an automatic rifle with a half-foot of steel bayonet perched on the muzzle. Ryan quickly wondered if the rifle might be loaded and decided it might be expensive to find out. This was a guardsman, he told himself, a professional soldier from a crack regiment who'd had to prove he had real balls before they sent him to the finishing school that made windup toys for tourists to gawk at. Maybe as good as a Sea Marine. How did you get here so fast?
   Slowly and carefully, Ryan held the pistol out at arm's length. He thumbed the clip-release button, and the magazine clattered down to the street. Next he twisted the gun so that the soldier could see it was empty. Then he set it down on the pavement and stepped away from it. He tried to raise his hands, but the left one wouldn't move. The guardsman all the time ran smart, head up, eyes tracing left and right but never leaving Ryan entirely. He stopped ten feet away with his rifle at low-guard, its bayonet pointed right at Jack's throat, just like it said in the manual. His chest was heaving, but the soldier's face was a blank mask. The policeman hadn't caught up, his face bloody as he shouted into a small radio.
   "At ease, Trooper," Ryan said as firmly as he could. It was not impressive. "We got two bad guys down. I'm one of the good guys."
   The guardsman's face didn't change a whit. The boy was a pro, all right. Ryan could hear his thinking – how easy to stick the bayonet right out his target's back. Jack was in no shape to avoid that first thrust.
   "DaddeeDaddeeDaddee!" Ryan turned his head and saw his little girl racing past the stalled cars toward him. The four-year-old stopped a few feet away from him, her eyes wide with horror. She ran forward to wrap both arms around her father's leg and screamed up at the guardsman: "Don't you hurt my daddy!"
   The soldier looked from father to daughter in amazement as Cathy approached more carefully, hands in the open.
   "Soldier," she announced in her voice of professional command, "I'm a doctor, and I'm going to treat that wound. So you can put that gun down, right now!"
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   The police constable grabbed the guardsman's shoulder and said something Jack couldn't make out. The rifle's angle changed fractionally as the soldier relaxed ever so slightly. Ryan saw more cops running to the scene, and a white car with its siren screaming. The situation, whatever it was, was coming under control.
   "You lunatic." Cathy surveyed the wound dispassionately. There was a dark stain on the shoulder of Ryan's new suit jacket that turned the gray wool to purple-crimson. His whole body was shaking now. He could barely stand and the weight of Sally hanging on his leg was forcing him to weave. Cathy grabbed his right arm and eased him down to the pavement, sitting him back against the side of the car. She moved his coat away from the wound and probed gently at his shoulder. It didn't feel gentle at all. She reached around to his back pocket for a handkerchief and pressed it against the center of the wound.
   "That doesn't feel right," she remarked to no one.
   "Daddy, you're all bloody!" Sally stood an arm's length away, her hands fluttering like the wings of a baby bird. Jack wanted to reach out to her, to tell her everything was all right, but the three feet of distance might as well have been a thousand miles – and his shoulder was telling him that things were definitely not all right.
   There were now about ten police officers around the car, many of them panting for breath. Three had handguns out, and were scanning the gathering crowd. Two more red-coated soldiers appeared from the west. A police sergeant approached. Before he could say anything Cathy looked up to bark an order.
   "Call an ambulance right now"'
   "On the way, mum," the Sergeant replied with surprising good manners. "Why don't you let us look after that?"
   "I'm a doctor," she answered curtly. "You have a knife?"
   The Sergeant turned to remove the bayonet from the first guardsman's rifle and stooped down to assist. Cathy held the coat and vest clear for him to cut away, then both cut the shirt free from his shoulder. She tossed the handkerchief clear. It was already blood-sodden. Jack started to protest.
   "Shut up. Jack." She looked over to the Sergeant and jerked her chin toward Sally. "Get her away from here."
   The Sergeant gestured for a guardsman to come over. The Private scooped Sally up in his arms. He took her a few feet away, cradling her gently to his chest. Jack saw his little girl crying pitifully, but somehow it all seemed to be very far away. He felt his skin go cold and moist – shock?
   "Damn," Cathy said gruffly. The Sergeant handed her a thick bandage. She pressed it against the wound and it immediately went red as she tried to tie it in place. Ryan groaned. It felt as though someone had taken an ax to his shoulder.
   "Jack, what the hell were you trying to do?" she demanded through clenched teeth as she fumbled with the cloth ties.
   Ryan snarled back, the sudden anger helping to block out the pain. "I didn't try – I fucking did it!" The effort required to say that took half his strength away with it.
   "Uh-huh," Cathy grunted. "Well, you're bleeding like a pig, Jack."
   More men ran in from the other direction. It seemed that a hundred sirens were converging on the scene with men – some in uniform, some not – leaping out to join the party. A uniformed policeman with more ornate shoulder boards began to shout orders at the others. The scene was impressive. A separate, detached part of Ryan's brain catalogued it. There he was, sitting against the Rolls, his shirt soaked red as though blood had been poured from a pitcher. Cathy, her hands covered with her husband's blood, was still trying to arrange the bandage correctly. His daughter was gasping out tears in the arms of a burly young soldier who seemed to be singing to her in a language that Jack couldn't make out. Sally's eyes were locked on him, full of desperate anguish. The detached part of his mind found all this very amusing until another wave of pain yanked him back to reality.
   The policeman who'd evidently taken charge came up to them after first checking the perimeter. "Sergeant, move him aside."
   Cathy looked up and snapped angrily: "Open the other side, dammit, I got a bleeder here!"
   "The other door's jammed, ma'am. Let me help." Ryan heard a different kind of siren as they bent down. The three of them moved him aside a foot or so, and the senior officer made to open the car door. They hadn't moved him far enough. When the door swung open, its edge caught Ryan's shoulder. The last thing he heard before passing out was his own scream of pain.

   Ryan's eyes focused slowly, his consciousness a hazy, variable thing that reported items out of place and out of time. For a moment he was inside a vehicle of some sort. The lateral movements of its passage rippled agony through his chest, and there was an awful atonal sound in the distance, though not all that far away. He thought he saw two faces he vaguely recognized. Cathy was there, too, wasn't she – no, there were some people in green. Everything was soft and vague except the burning pain in his shoulder and chest, but when he blinked his eyes all were gone. He was someplace else again.
   The ceiling was white and nearly featureless at first. Ryan knew somehow that he was under the influence of drugs. He recognized the feelings, but could not remember why. It required several minutes of lazy concentration for him to determine that the ceiling was made of white acoustical tiles on a white metal framework. Some of the tiles were waterstained and served to give him a reference. Others were translucent plastic for the soft fluorescent lighting. There was something tied under his nose, and after a moment he began to feel a cool gas tracing into his nostrils – oxygen? His other senses began to report in one at a time. Expanding radially down from his head, they began to explore his body and reported reluctantly to his brain. Some unseen things were taped to his chest. He could feel them pulling at the hairs that Cathy liked to play with when she was drunk. His left shoulder felt . . . didn't really feel at all. His whole body was far too heavy to move even an inch.
   A hospital, he decided after several minutes. Why am I in a hospital . . .? It took an indeterminate period of concentration for Jack to remember why he was here. When it came to him, it was just as well that he could contemplate the taking of a human life from within the protective fog of drugs.
   I was shot, too, wasn't I? Ryan turned his head slowly to the right. A bottle of IV fluids was hanging on a metal stand next to the bed, its rubber hose trailing down under the sheet where his arm was tied down. He tried to feel the prick of the catheter that had to be inside the right elbow, but couldn't. His mouth was cottony dry. Well, I wasn't shot on the right side . . . Next he tried to turn his head to the left. Something soft but very firm prevented it. Ryan wasn't able to care very much about it. Even his curiosity for his condition was a tenuous thing. For some reason his surroundings seemed much more interesting than his own body. Looking directly up, he saw a TV-like instrument, along with some other electronic stuff, none of which he could make out at the acute angle. EKG readout? Something like that, he decided. It all figured. He was in a surgical recovery room, wired up like an astronaut while the staff decided if he'd live or not. The drugs helped him to consider the question with marvelous objectivity.
   "Ah, we're awake." A voice other than the distant, muffled tone of the PA system. Ryan dropped his chin to see a nurse of about fifty. She had a Bette Davis face crinkled by years of frowns. He tried to speak to her, but his mouth seemed glued shut. What came out was a cross between a rasp and a croak. The nurse disappeared while he tried to decide what exactly the sound was.
   A man appeared a minute or so later. He was also in his fifties, tall and spare, dressed in surgical greens. There was a Stethoscope hanging from his neck, and he seemed to be carrying something that Ryan couldn't quite see. He seemed rather tired, but wore a satisfied smile.
   "So," he said, "we're awake. How are we feeling?" Ryan managed a full-fledged croak this time. The doctor – ? – gestured to the nurse. She came forward to give Ryan a sip of water through a glass straw.
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   "Thanks." He sloshed the water around his mouth. It was not enough to swallow. His mouth tissues seemed to absorb it all at once. "Where am I?"
   "You are in the surgical recovery unit of St. Thomas's Hospital. You are recovering from surgery on your upper left arm and shoulder. I am your surgeon. My team and I have been working on you for, oh, about six hours now, and it would appear that you will probably live," he added judiciously. He seemed to regard Ryan as a successful piece of work.
   Rather slowly and sluggishly Ryan thought to himself that the English sense of humor, admirable as it might otherwise be, was a little too dry for this sort of situation. He was composing a reply when Cathy came into view. The Bette Davis nurse moved to head her off.
   "I'm sorry, Mrs. Ryan, but only medical person –"
   "I'm a doctor." She held up her plastic ID card. The man took it.
   "Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital." The surgeon extended his hand and gave Cathy a friendly, colleague-to-colleague smile. "How do you do. Doctor? My name is Charles Scott."
   "That's right," Ryan confirmed groggily. "She's the surgeon doctor. I'm the historian doctor." No one seemed to notice.
   "Sir Charles Scott? Professor Scott?"
   "The same." A benign smile. Everyone likes to be recognized, Ryan thought as he watched from his back.
   "One of my instructors knows you – Professor Knowles."
   "Ah, and how is Dennis?"
   "Fine, Doctor. He's associate professor of orthopedics now." Cathy shifted gears smoothly, back to medical professional. "Do you have the X-rays?"
   "Here." Scott held up a manila envelope and extracted a large film. He held it up in front of a lighting panel. "We took this prior to going in."
   "Damn." Cathy's nose wrinkled. She put on the half-glasses she used for close work, the ones Jack hated. He watched her head move slowly from side to side. "I didn't know it was that bad."
   Professor Scott nodded. "Indeed. We reckon the collarbone was broken before he was shot, then the bullet came crashing through here – just missed the brachial plexus, so we expect no serious nerve damage – and did all this damage." He traced a pencil across the film. Ryan couldn't see any of it from the bed. "Then it did this to the top of the humerus before stopping here, just inside the skin. Bloody powerful thing, the nine millimeter. As you can see, the damage was quite extensive. We had a jolly time finding all these fragments and jigsawing them back into proper place, but – we were able to accomplish this." Scott held a second film up next to the first. Cathy was quiet for several seconds, her head swiveling back and forth.
   "That is nice work, Doctor!"
   Sir Charles' smile broadened a notch. "From a Johns Hopkins surgeon, yes, I think I'll accept that. Both these pins are permanent, this screw also, I'm afraid, but the rest should heal rather nicely. As you can see, all the large fragments are back where they belong, and we have every reason to expect a full recovery."
   "How much impairment?" A detached question. Cathy could be maddeningly unemotional about her work.
   "We're not sure yet," Scott said slowly. "Probably a little, but it should not be overly severe. We can't guarantee a complete restoration of function – the damage was far too extensive for that."
   "You mind telling me something?" Ryan tried to sound angry, but it hadn't come out right.
   "What I mean, Mr. Ryan, is that you'll probably have some permanent loss of use of your arm – precisely how much we cannot determine as yet – and from now on you'll have a permanent barometer. Henceforth, whenever the weather is about to change for the worse, you'll know it before anyone else."
   "How long in this cast?" Cathy wanted to know.
   "At least a month." The surgeon seemed apologetic. "It is awkward, I know, but the shoulder must be totally immobilized for at least that long. After that we'll have to reevaluate the injury and we can probably revert to a normal cast for another . . . oh, another month or so, I expect. I presume he heals well, no allergies. Looks to be in good health, decent physical shape."
   "Jack's in good physical shape, except for a few loose marbles in his head," Cathy nodded, an edge on her weary voice. "He jogs. No allergies except ragweed, and he heals rapidly."
   "Yeah," Ryan confirmed. "Her teethmarks go away in under a week, usually." He thought this uproariously funny, but no one laughed.
   "Good," Sir Charles said. "So, Doctor, you can see that your husband is in good hands. I will leave the two of you together for five minutes. After that, I wish that he should get some rest, and you look as though you could use some also." The surgeon moved off with Bette Davis in his wake.
   Cathy moved closer to him, changing yet again from cool professional to concerned wife. Ryan told himself for perhaps the millionth time how lucky he was to have this girl. Caroline Ryan had a small, round face, short butter-blond hair, and the world's prettiest blue eyes. Behind those eyes was a person with intelligence at least the equal of his own, someone he loved as much as a man could. He would never understand how he'd won her. Ryan was painfully aware that on his best day his own undistinguished features, a heavy beard and a lantern jaw, made him look like a dark-haired Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties. She played pussycat to his crow. Jack tried to reach out for her hand, but was foiled by straps. Cathy took his.
   "Love ya, babe," he said softly.
   "Oh, Jack." Cathy tried to hug him. She was foiled by the cast that he couldn't even see. "Jack, why the hell did you do that?"
   He had already decided how to answer that. "It's over and I'm still alive, okay? How's Sally?"
   "I think she's finally asleep. She's downstairs with a policeman." Cathy did look tired. "How do you think she is. Jack? Dear God, she saw you killed almost. You scared us both to death." Her china-blue eyes were rimmed in red, and her hair looked terrible. Jack saw. Well, she never was able to do much of anything with her hair. The surgical caps always ruined it.
   "Yeah, I know. Anyway, it doesn't look like I'll be doing much more of that for a while," he grunted. "Matter of fact, it doesn't look like I'll be doing much of anything for a while." That drew a smile. It was good to see her smile.
   "Fine. You're supposed to conserve your energy. Maybe this'll teach you a lesson – and don't tell me about all those strange hotel beds going to waste." She squeezed his hand. Her smile turned impish. "We'll probably work something out in a few weeks. How do I look?"
   "Like hell." Jack laughed quietly. "I take it the doc was a somebody?"
   He saw his wife relax a little. "You might say that. Sir Charles Scott is one of the best orthopods in the world. He trained Professor Knowles – he did a super job on you. You're lucky to have an arm at all, you know – my God!"
   "Easy, babe. I'm going to live, remember?"
   "I know, I know."
   "It's going to hurt, isn't it?"
   Another smile. "Just a bit. Well. I've got to put Sally down. I'll be back tomorrow." She bent down to kiss him. Skin full of drugs, oxygen tube, dry mouth, and all, it felt good. God, he thought, God, how I love this girl. Cathy squeezed his hand one more time and left.
   The Bette Davis nurse came back. It was not a satisfactory trade.
   "I'm 'Doctor' Ryan, too, you know," Jack said warily.
   "Very good, Doctor. It is time for you to get some rest. I'll be here to look after you all night. Now sleep. Doctor Ryan."
   On this happy note Jack closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be a real bitch, he was sure. It would keep.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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Chapter 2
Cops and Royals

   Ryan awoke at 6:35 A.M. He knew that because it was announced by a radio disc jockey whose voice faded to an American Country & Western song of the type which Ryan avoided at home by listening to all-news radio stations. The singer was admonishing mothers not to allow their sons to become cowboys, and Ryan's first muddled thought of the day was. Surely they don't have that problem over here . . . do they? His mind drifted along on this tangent for half a minute, wondering if the Brits had CAW bars with sawdust on the floors, mechanical bull rides, and office workers who strutted around with pointy-toed boots and five-pound belt buckles . . . Why not? he concluded. Yesterday I saw something right out of a Dodge City movie.
   Jack would have been just as happy to slide back into sleep. He tried closing his eyes and willing his body to relax, but it was no use. The flight from Dulles had left early in the morning, barely three hours after he'd awakened. He hadn't slept on the plane – it was something he simply could not do – but flying always exhausted him, and he'd gone to bed soon after arriving at the hotel. Then how long had he been unconscious in the hospital? Too long, he realized. Ryan was all slept out. He would have to begin facing the day.
   Someone off to his right was playing a radio just loudly enough to hear. Ryan turned his head and was able to see his shoulder –
   Shoulder, he thought, that's why I'm here. But where's here? It was a different room. The ceiling was smooth plaster, recently painted. It was dark, the only illumination coming from a light on the table next to the bed, perhaps enough to read by. There seemed to be a painting on the wall – at least a rectangle darker than the wall, which wasn't white. Ryan took this in, consciously delaying his examination of his left arm until no excuses remained. He turned his head slowly to the left. He saw his arm first of all. It was sticking up at an angle, wrapped in a plaster and fiberglass cast that went all the way to his hand. His fingers stuck out like an afterthought, about the same shade of gray as the plaster-gauze wrappings. There was a metal ring at the back of the wrist, and in the ring was a hook whose chain led to a metal frame that arced over the bed like a crane.
   First things first. Ryan tried to wiggle his fingers. It took several seconds before they acknowledged their subservience to his central nervous system. Ryan let out a long breath and closed his eyes to thank God for that. About where his elbow was, a metal rod angled downward to join the rest of the cast, which, he finally appreciated, began at his neck and went diagonally to his waist. It left his arm sticking out entirely on its own and made Ryan look like half a bridge. The cast was not tight on his chest, but touched almost everywhere, and already he had itches where he couldn't scratch. The surgeon had said something about immobilizing the shoulder, and, Ryan thought glumly, he hadn't been kidding. His shoulder ached in a distant sort of way with the promise of more to come. His mouth tasted like a urinal, and the rest of his body was stiff and sore. He turned his head the other way.
   "Somebody over there?" he asked softly.
   "Oh, hello." A face appeared at the edge of the bed. Younger than Ryan, mid-twenties or so, and lean. He was dressed casually, his tie loose in his collar, and the edge of a shoulder holster showed under his jacket. "How are you feeling, sir?"
   Ryan attempted a smile, wondering how successful it was. "About how I look, probably. Where am I, who are you – first, is there a glass of water in this place?"
   The policeman poured ice water from a plastic jug into a plastic cup. Ryan reached out with his right hand before he noticed that it wasn't tied down as it had been the last time he awoke. He could now feel the place where the IV catheter had been. Jack greedily sucked the water from the straw. It was only water, but no beer ever tasted better after a day's yardwork. "Thanks, pal."
   "My name is Anthony Wilson. I'm supposed to look after you. You are in the VIP suite of St. Thomas's Hospital. Do you remember why you're here, sir?"
   "Yeah, I think so," Ryan nodded. "Can you unhook me from this thing? I have to go." The other reminder of the IV.
   "I'll ring the sister – here." Wilson squeezed the button that was pinned to the edge of Ryan's pillow.
   Less than fifteen seconds later a nurse came through the door and flipped on the overhead lights. The blaze of light dazzled Jack for a moment before he saw it was a different nurse. Not Bette Davis, this one was young and pretty, with the eager, protective look common to nurses. Ryan had seen it before, and hated it.
   "Ah, we're awake," she observed brightly. "How are we feeling?"
   "Great," Ryan grumped. "Can you unhook me? I have to go to the john."
   "We're not supposed to move just yet. Doctor Ryan. Let me fetch you something." She disappeared out the door before he could object. Wilson watched her leave with an appraising look. Cops and nurses, Ryan thought. His dad had married a nurse; he'd met her after bringing a gunshot victim into the emergency room.
   The nurse – her name tag said KITTIWAKE – returned in under a minute bearing a stainless steel urinal as though it were a priceless gift, which under the circumstances, it was, Ryan admitted to himself. She lifted the covers on the bed and suddenly Jack realized that his hospital gown was not really on, but just tied loosely around his neck – worse, the nurse was about to make the necessary adjustments for him to use the urinal. Ryan's right hand shot downward under the covers to take it away from her. He thanked God for the second time this morning that he was able, barely, to reach down far enough.
   "Could you, uh, excuse me for a minute?" Ryan willed the girl out of the room, and she went, smiling her disappointment. He waited for the door to close completely before continuing. In deference to Wilson he stifled his sigh of relief. Kittiwake was back through the door after counting to sixty.
   "Thank you." Ryan handed her the receptacle and she disappeared out the door. It had barely swung shut when she was back again. This time she stuck a thermometer in his mouth and grabbed his wrist to take his pulse. The thermometer was one of the new electronic sort, and both tasks were completed in fifteen seconds. Ryan asked for the score, but got a smile instead of an answer. The smile remained fixed as she made the entries on his chart. When this task was fulfilled, she made a minor adjustment in the covers, beaming at Ryan. Little Miss Efficiency, Ryan told himself. This girl is going to be a real pain in the ass.
   "Is there anything I might get you, Doctor Ryan?" she asked. Her brown eyes belied the wheat-colored hair. She was cute. She had that dewy look. Ryan was unable to remain angry with pretty women, and hated them for it. Especially young nurses with that dewy look.
   "Coffee?" he asked hopefully.
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Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
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   "Breakfast is not for another hour. Can I fetch you a cup of tea?"
   "Fine." It wasn't, but it would get rid of her for a little while. Nurse Kittiwake breezed out the door with her ingenuous smile.
   "Hospitals?" Ryan snarled when she was gone.
   "Oh, I don't know," Wilson, observed, the image of Nurse Kittiwake fresh in his mind.
   "You ain't the one getting your diapers changed." Ryan grunted and leaned back into the pillow. It was useless to fight it, he knew. He smiled in spite of himself. Useless to fight it. He'd been through this twice before, both times with young, pretty nurses. Being grumpy only made them all the more eager to be overpoweringly nice – they had time on their side, time and patience enough to wear anyone down. He sighed out his surrender. It wasn't worth the waste of energy. "So, you're a cop, right? Special Branch?"
   "No, sir. I'm with C-13, Anti-Terrorist Branch."
   "Can you fill me in on what happened yesterday? I kinda missed a few things."
   "How much do you remember. Doctor?" Wilson slid his chair closer. Ryan noted that he remained halfway facing the door, and kept his right hand free. "I saw – well, I heard an explosion, a hand grenade, I think – and when I turned I saw two guys shooting the hell out of a Rolls-Royce. IRA, I guess. I took two of them out, and another one got away in a car. The cavalry arrived, and I passed out and woke up here."
   "Not IRA. ULA – Ulster Liberation Army, a Maoist offshoot of the Provos. Nasty buggers. The one you killed was John Michael McCrory, a very bad boy from Londonderry – one of the chaps who escaped from the Maze last July. This is the first time he's surfaced since. And the last" – Wilson smiled coldly – "we haven't identified the other chap yet. That is, not as of when I came on duty three hours ago."
   "ULA?" Ryan shrugged. He remembered hearing the name, though he couldn't talk about that. "The guy I – killed. He had an AK, but when I came around the car he was using a pistol. How come?"
   "The fool jammed it. He had two full magazines taped end to end, like you see all the time in the movies, but like they trained us specifically not to do in the paras. We reckon he bashed it, probably when he came out of the car. The second magazine was bent at the top end – wouldn't feed the rounds properly, you see. Damn good luck for you. You knew you were going after a chap with a Kalashnikov?" Wilson examined Ryan's face closely.
   Jack nodded. "Doesn't sound real smart, does it?"
   "You bloody fool." Wilson said this just as Kittiwake came through the door with a tea tray. The nurse flashed the cop an emphatically disapproving look as she set the tray on the bedstand and wheeled it over. Kittiwake arranged things just so, and poured Ryan a cup with delicacy. Wilson had to do his own.
   "So who was in the car, anyway?" Ryan asked. He noted strong reactions.
   "You didn't know?" Kittiwake was dumbfounded.
   "There wasn't much time to find out." Ryan dropped two packets of brown sugar into his cup. His stirring stopped abruptly when Wilson answered his question.
   "The Prince and Princess of Wales. And their new baby."
   Ryan's head snapped around. "What?"
   "You really didn't know?" the nurse asked.
   "You're serious," Ryan said quietly. They wouldn't kid about this, would they?
   "Too bloody right. I'm serious," Wilson went on, his voice very even. Only his choice of words betrayed how deeply the affair disturbed him. "Except for you, they would all three be quite dead, and that makes you a bloody hero. Doctor Ryan." Wilson sipped his tea neatly and fished out a cigarette.
   Ryan set his cup down. "You mean you let them drive around here without a police or secret service – whatever you call it – without an escort?"
   "Supposedly it was an unscheduled trip. Security arrangements for the Royals are not my department in any case. I would speculate, however, that those whose department it is will be rethinking a few things," Wilson commented.
   "They weren't hurt?"
   "No, but their driver was killed. So was their security escort from DPG – Diplomatic Protection Group – Charlie Winston. I knew Charlie. He had a wife, you know, and four children, all grown."
   Ryan observed that the Rolls should have had bulletproof glass.
   Wilson grunted. "It did have bulletproof glass. Actually plastic, a complex polycarbonate material. Unfortunately, no one seems to have read what it said on the box. The guarantee is only for a year. Turns out that sunlight breaks the material down somehow or other. The windshield was no more use than ordinary safety glass. Our friend McCrory put thirty rounds into it, and it quite simply shattered, killing the driver first. The interior partition, thank God, had not been exposed to sunlight, and remained intact. The last thing Charlie did was push the button to put it up. That probably saved them, too – didn't do Charlie much good, though. He had enough time to draw his automatic, but we don't think he was able to get a shot off."
   Ryan thought back. There had been blood in the back of the Rolls – not just blood. The driver's head had been blown apart, and his brains had scattered into the passenger compartment. Jack winced thinking about it. The escort had probably leaned over to push the button before defending himself . . . Well, Jack thought, that's what they pay them for. What a hell of a way to earn a living.
   "It was fortunate that you intervened when you did. They both had hand grenades, you know."
   "Yeah, I saw one." Ryan sipped away the last of his tea. "What the hell was I thinking about?" You weren't thinking at all, Jack. That's what you were thinking about.
   Kittiwake saw Ryan go pale. "You feel quite all right?" she asked.
   "I guess." Ryan grunted in wonderment. "Dumb as I was, I must feel pretty good – I ought to be dead."
   "Well, that most emphatically will not happen here." She patted his hand. "Please ring me if you need anything." Another beaming smile and she left.
   Ryan was still shaking his head. "The other one got away?"
   Wilson nodded. "We found the car near a tube station a few blocks away. It was stolen, of course. No real problem for him to get clean away. Disappear into the underground. Go to Heathrow, perhaps, and catch a plane to the continent – Brussels, say – then a plane to Ulster or the Republic, and a car the rest of the way home. That's one route; there are others, and it's impossible to cover them all. He was drinking beer last night, watching the news coverage on television in his favorite pub, most likely. Did you get a look at him?"
   "No, just a shape. I didn't even think to get the tag number – dumb. Right after that the redcoat came running up to me." Ryan winced again. "Christ, I thought he'd put that pigsticker right through me. For a second there I could see it all – I do something right, then get wasted by a good guy."
   Wilson laughed. "You don't know how lucky you were. The current guard force is from the Welsh Guards."
   "So?"
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   "His Royal Highness's own regiment, as it were. He's their colonel-in-chief. There you were with a pistol – how would you expect him to react?" Wilson stubbed out his cigarette. "Another piece of good luck, your wife and daughter came running up to you, and the soldier decides to wait a bit, just long enough for things to sort themselves out. Then our chap catches up with him and tells him to stand easy. And a hundred more of my chaps come swooping in.
   "I hope you can appreciate this, Doctor. Here we were with three men dead, two others wounded, a Prince and Princess looking as though they'd been shot – your wife examined them on the scene, by the way, and pronounced them fit just before the ambulance arrived – a baby, a hundred witnesses each with his own version of what had just taken place. A bloody Yank – an Irish-American to boot! – whose wife claims he's the chap in the white hat." Wilson laughed again. "Total chaos!
   "First order of business, of course, was to get the Royals to safety. The police and guardsmen handled that, probably praying by this time that someone would make trouble. They're still in an evil mood, they tell me, angrier even than from the bandstand bombing incident. Not hard to understand. Anyway, your wife flatly refused to leave your side until you were under doctor's care here. Quite a forceful woman, they tell me."
   "Cathy's a surgeon," Ryan explained. "When she plays doc, she's used to having her own way. Surgeons are like that."
   "After she was quite satisfied we drove her down to the Yard. Meanwhile we had a merry time identifying you. They called your Legal Attache at the American Embassy and he ran a check through your FBI, plus a backup check through the Marine Corps." Ryan stole a cigarette from Wilson's pack. The policeman lit it with a butane lighter. Jack gagged on the smoke, but he needed it. Cathy would give him hell for it, he knew, but one thing at a time. "Mind you, we never really thought you were one of them. Have to be a maniac to bring the wife and child along on this sort of job. But one must be careful."
   Ryan nodded agreement, briefly dizzy from the smoke. How'd they know to check through the Corps . . . oh, my Marine Corps Association card . . .
   "In any event we have things pretty well sorted out. Your government are sending us everything we need – probably here by now, actually." Wilson checked his watch.
   "My family's all right?"
   Wilson smiled in rather an odd way. "They are being very well looked after. Doctor Ryan. You have my word on that."
   "The name's Jack."
   "Fine. I'm known to my friends as Tony." They finally got around to shaking hands. "And as I said, you're a bloody hero. Care to see what the press have to say?" He handed Ryan a Daily Mirror and a Times.
   "Dear God!"
   The tabloid Mirror's front page was almost entirely a color photograph of himself, sitting unconscious against the Rolls. His chest was a scarlet mass.
   ATTEMPT ON HRH – MARINE TO THE RESCUE

   A bold attempt to assassinate Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales within sight of Buckingham Palace was thwarted today by the courage of an American tourist.
   John Patrick Ryan, an historian and formerly a lieutenant in the United States Marines, dashed barehanded into a pitched battle on The Mall as over a hundred Londoners watched in shocked disbelief. Ryan, 31, of Annapolis, Maryland, successfully disabled one gunman and, taking his weapon, shot another dead. Ryan himself was seriously wounded in the exchange. He was taken by ambulance to St. Thomas's Hospital, where emergency surgery was successfully performed by Sir Charles Scott.
   A third terrorist is reported to have escaped the scene, by running east on The Mall, then turning north on Marlborough Road.
   Senior police officials were unanimous in their opinion that, but for Ryan's courageous intervention. Their Highnesses would certainly have been slain.

   Ryan turned the page to see another color photograph of himself in happier circumstances. It was his graduation photo from Quantico, and he had to smile at himself, resplendent, then, in blue high-necked blouse, two shiny gold bars, and the Mamaluke sword. It was one of the few decent photographs ever taken of him.
   "Where did they get this?"
   "Oh, your Marine chaps were most helpful. In fact, one of your Marine ships – helicopter carrier, or something like that – is at Portsmouth right now. I understand that your former colleagues are getting all the free beer they can swill."
   Ryan laughed at that. Next he picked up the Times, whose headline was marginally less lurid.

   The Prince and Princess of Wales escaped certain death this afternoon. Three, possibly four terrorists armed with hand grenades and Kalashnikov assault rifles lay in wait for their Rolls-Royce; only to have their carefully-laid plans foiled by the bold intervention of J. P. Ryan, formerly a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, and now an historian . . .

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   Ryan flipped to the editorial page. The lead item, signed by the publisher, screamed for vengeance while praising Ryan, America, and the United States Marine Corps, and thanked Divine Providence with a flourish worthy of a Papal Encyclical.
   "Reading about yourself?" Ryan looked up. Sir Charles Scott was standing at the foot of his bed with an aluminum chart.
   "First time I ever made the papers." Ryan set them down.
   "You've earned it, and it would seem that the sleep did you some good. How do you feel?"
   "Not bad, considering. How am I?" Ryan asked.
   "Pulse and temperature normal – almost normal. Your color isn't bad at all. With luck we might even avoid a postoperative infection, though I should not wish to give odds on that," the doctor said. "How badly does it hurt?"
   "It's there, but I can live with it," Ryan answered cautiously.
   "It is only two hours since your last medication. I trust you are not one of those thickheaded fools who do not want pain medications?"
   "Yes, I am," Ryan said. He went on slowly. "Doctor, I've been through this twice before. The first time, they gave me too much of the stuff, and coming off was – I'd just as soon not go through that again, if you know what I mean."
   Ryan's career in the Marine Corps had ended after a mere three months with a helicopter crash on the shores of Crete during a NATO exercise. The resulting back injury had sent Ryan to Bethesda Naval Medical Center, outside Washington, where the doctors had been a little too generous with their pain medications, and Ryan had taken two weeks to get over them. It was not an experience he wanted to repeat.
   Sir Charles nodded thoughtfully. "I think so. Well, it's your arm." The nurse came back in as he made some notations on the chart. "Rotate the bed a bit."
   Ryan hadn't noticed that the rack from which his arm hung was actually circular. As the head of the bed came up, his arm dropped to a more comfortable angle. The doctor looked over his glasses at Ryan's fingers.
   "Would you wiggle them, please?" Ryan did so. "Good, that's very good. I didn't think there'd be any nerve damage. Doctor Ryan, I am going to prescribe something mild, just enough to keep the edge off it. I will require that you take the medications which I prescribe." Scott's head came around to face Ryan directly. "I've never yet got a patient addicted to narcotics, and I do not propose to start with you. Don't be pigheaded: pain, discomfort will retard your recovery – unless, that is, you want to remain in hospital for several months?"
   "Message received, Sir Charles."
   "Right." The surgeon smiled. "If you should feel the need for something stronger, I shall be here all day. Just ring nurse Miss Kittiwake here." The girl beamed in anticipation.
   "How about something to eat?"
   "You think you can keep something down?"
   If not, Kittiwake will probably love to help me throw up. "Doc, in the last thirty-six hours I've had a continental breakfast and a light lunch."
   "Very well. We'll try some soft foods." He made another notation on the chart and flashed a look to Kittiwake: Keep an eye on him. She nodded.
   "Your charming wife told me that you are quite obstinate. We'll see about that. Still and all you are doing rather nicely. You can thank your physical condition for that – and my outstanding surgical skill, of course." Scott chuckled to himself. "After breakfast an orderly will help you freshen up for your more, ah, official visitors. Oh, don't expect to see your family soon. They were quite exhausted last night. I gave your wife something to help her sleep; I hope she took it. Your darling little daughter was all done in." Scott gave Ryan a serious look. "I was not misleading you earlier. Discomfort will slow your recovery. Do what I tell you and we'll have you out of that bed in a week, and discharged in two – perhaps. But you must do exactly as I say."
   "Understood, sir. And thanks. Cathy said you did a good job on the arm."
   Scott tried to shrug it off. The smile showed only a little. "One must take proper care of one's guests. I'll be back late this afternoon to see how you are progressing." He left, mumbling instructions to the nurse.

   The police arrived in force at 8:30. By this time Ryan had been able to eat his hospital breakfast and wash up. Breakfast had been a huge disappointment, with Wilson collapsing in laughter at Ryan's comment on its appearance – but Kittiwake had been so downcast from this that Ryan had felt constrained to eat all of it, even the stewed prunes that he'd loathed since childhood. Only after finishing had he realized that her demeanor had probably been a sham, a device to get him to eat all the slop. Nurses, he reminded himself, are tricky. At eight the orderly had arrived to help him clean up. Ryan shaved himself, with the orderly holding the mirror and clucking every time he nicked himself. Four nicks – Ryan customarily used an electric shaver, and hadn't faced a bare blade in years. By 8:30 Ryan felt and looked human again. Kittiwake had brought in a second cup of coffee. It wasn't very good, but it was still coffee.
   There were three police officers, very senior ones, Ryan thought, from the way Wilson snapped to his feet and scurried about to arrange chairs for them before excusing himself out the door.
   James Owens appeared to be the most senior, and inquired as to Ryan's condition – politely enough that he probably meant it. He reminded Ryan of his own father, a craggy, heavyset man, and, judging from his large, gnarled hands, one who had earned his way to commander's rank after more than a few years of walking the streets and enforcing the law the hard way.
   Chief Superintendent William Taylor was about forty, younger than his Anti-Terrorist Branch colleague, and neater. Both senior detectives were well dressed, and both had the red-rimmed eyes that came from an uninterrupted night's work.
   David Ashley was the youngest and best dressed of the three. About Ryan's size and weight, perhaps five years older. He described himself as a representative of the Home Office, and he looked a great deal smoother than either of the others.
   "You're quite certain you're up to this?" Taylor asked.
   Ryan shrugged. "No sense waiting."
   Owens took a cassette tape recorder from his portfolio and set it on the bedstand. He plugged in two microphones, one facing Ryan, the other toward the officers. He punched the record button and announced the date, time, and place.
   "Doctor Ryan," Owens asked formally, "do you know that this interview is being recorded?"
   "Yes, sir."
   "And do you have any objection to this?"
   "No, sir. May I ask a question?"
   "Certainly," Owens answered.
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   "Am I being charged with anything? If so, I would like to contact my embassy and have an attor –" Ryan was more than a little uneasy to be the focus of so much high-level police attention, but was cut off by the chuckles of Mr. Ashley. He noted that the other police officers deferred to him for the answer.
   "Doctor Ryan, you may just have things the wrong way 'round. For the record, sir, we have no intention whatever of charging you with anything. Were we to do so, I dare say we'd be looking for new employment by day's end."
   Ryan nodded, not showing his relief. He'd not yet been sure of this, sure only that the law doesn't have to make sense. Owens began reading his questions from a yellow pad.
   "Can you give us your name and address, please?"
   "John Patrick Ryan. Our mailing address is Annapolis, Maryland. Our home is at Peregrine Cliff, about ten miles south of Annapolis on the Chesapeake Bay."
   "And your occupation?" Owens checked off something on his pad.
   "I guess you could say I have a couple of jobs. I'm an instructor in history at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. I lecture occasionally at the Naval War College in Newport, and from time to time I do a little consulting work on the side."
   "That's all?" Ashley inquired with a friendly smile – or was it friendly? Ryan asked himself. Jack wondered just how much they'd managed to find out about him in the past – what? fifteen hours or so – and exactly what Ashley was hinting at. You're no cop, Ryan thought. What exactly are you? Regardless, he had to stick to his cover story, that he was a part-time consultant to the Mitre Corporation.
   "And the purpose of your visit to this country?" Owens went on.
   "Combination vacation and research trip. I'm gathering data for a new book, and Cathy needed some time off. Sally is still a preschooler, so we decided to head over now and miss the tourist season." Ryan took a cigarette from the pack Wilson had left behind. Ashley lit it from a gold lighter. "In my coat – wherever that is – you'll find letters of introduction to your Admiralty and the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth."
   "We have the letters," Owens replied. "Quite illegible. I'm afraid, and I fear your suit is a total loss also. What the blood did not ruin, your wife and our sergeant finished off with a knife. So when did you arrive in Britain?"
   "It's still Thursday, right? Well, we got in Tuesday night from Dulles International outside Washington. Arrived about seven-thirty, got to the hotel about nine-thirty or so, had a snack sent up, and went right to sleep. Flying always messes me up – jet lag, whatever. I conked right out." That was not exactly true, but Ryan didn't think they needed to know everything.
   Owens nodded. They had already learned why Ryan hated flying. "And yesterday?"
   "I woke up about seven, I guess, had breakfast and a paper sent up, then just kinda lazed around until about eight-thirty. I arranged to meet Cathy and Sally in the park around four, then caught a cab to the Admiralty building – close, as it turned out, I could have walked it. As I said, I had a letter of introduction to see Admiral Sir Alexander Woodson, the man in charge of your naval archives – he's retired, actually. He took me down to a musty sub-sub-basement. He had the stuff I wanted all ready for me.
   "I came over to look at some signal digests. Admiralty signals between London and Admiral Sir James Somerville. He was commander of your Indian Ocean fleet in the early months of 1942, and that's one of the things I'm writing about. So I spend the next three hours reading over faded carbon copies of naval dispatches and taking notes."
   "On this?" Ashley held up Ryan's clipboard. Jack snatched it from his hands.
   "Thank God!" Ryan exclaimed. "I was sure it got lost." He opened it and set it up on the bedstand, then typed in some instructions. "Ha! It still works!"
   "What exactly is that thing?" Ashley wanted to know. All three got out of their chairs to look at it.
   "This is my baby." Ryan grinned. On opening the clipboard he revealed a typewriter-style keyboard and a yellow Liquid Crystal Diode display. Outwardly it looked like an expensive clipboard, about an inch thick and bound in leather. "It's a Cambridge Datamaster Model-C Field Computer. A friend of mine makes them. It has an MC-68000 microprocessor, and two megabytes of bubble memory."
   "Care to translate that?" Taylor asked.
   "Sorry. It's a portable computer. The microprocessor is what does the actual work. Two megabytes means that the memory stores up to two million characters – enough for a whole book – and since it uses bubble memory, you don't lose the information when you switch it off. A guy I went to school with set up a company to make these little darlings. He hit on me for some start-up capital. I use an Apple at home, this one's just for carrying around."
   "We knew it was some sort of computer, but our chaps couldn't make it work," Ashley said.
   "Security device. The first time you use it, you input your user's code and activate the lockout. Afterward, unless you type in the code, it doesn't work – period."
   "Indeed?" Ashley observed. "How foolproof?"
   "You'd have to ask Fred. Maybe you could read the data right off the bubble chips. I don't know how computers work. I just use 'em," Ryan explained. "Anyway, here are my notes."
   "Getting back to your activities of yesterday," Owens said, giving Ashley a cool look. "We now have you to noon."
   "Okay. I broke for lunch. A guy on the ground floor directed me to a – a pub, I guess, two blocks away. I don't remember the name of the place. I had a sandwich and a beer while I played with this thing. That took about half an hour. I spent another hour at the Admiralty building before I checked out. Left about quarter of two, I suppose. I thanked Admiral Woodson – very good man. I caught a cab to – don't remember the address, it was on one of my letters. North of – Regent's Park, I think. Admiral Sir Roger DeVere. He served under Somerville. He wasn't there. His housekeeper said he got called out of town suddenly due to a death in the family. So I left a message that I'd been there and flagged another cab back downtown. I decided to get out a few blocks early and walk the rest of the way."
   "Why?" Taylor asked.
   "Mainly I was stiff from all the sitting – in the Admiralty building, the flight, the cab. I needed a stretch. I usually jog every day, and I get restless when I miss it."
   "Where did you get out?" Owens asked.
   "I don't know the name of the street. If you show me a map I can probably point it out." Owens nodded for him to go on. "Anyway, I nearly got run over by a double-decker bus, and one of your uniformed cops told me not to jaywalk –" Owens looked surprised at that and scribbled some notes. Perhaps they hadn't learned of that encounter. "I picked up a magazine at a street stand and met Cathy about, oh, three-forty or so. They were early, too.
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