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Patrick said, “Bryn! On your nine!” She turned left, expecting to see an enemy, but there was nothing but fence, and . . . and a gate.

And the gate was a whole lot easier to scale than the wall itself.

Bryn climbed, slipped down the other side, and unlocked it to swing it open for Patrick, who eased in with his eyes darting from one side of the interior pasture area to the other. Nothing to see, not even a dog or a gardener. Eerily quiet.

“Maybe he’s gone,” she said. “This may not be his full-time home.”

“You know us rich people with our vagabond ways,” Patrick said, but he wasn’t disagreeing. “Go. I’ll cover you.”

There wasn’t any need. There were no booby traps, no ambushes, no hidden deadly enemies. They simply ran—and then walked—right up to the front door.

The mansion was big, and conventionally built for this part of the country. . . . It was what the well-to-do thought of as “rustic” despite being completely modern, just with rougher log finish. All the lights were on inside. Bryn thought about opening the door, but then, on a whim, decided to just . . . knock.

The door was answered by a boy.

Bryn blinked. Yes, that was a boy, all right, about ten years old, brown hair, a coffee-and-cream skin tone, eyes so darkly colored it was hard to tell iris from pupil. He stared at her for a second, then turned and yelled at ear-piercing volume, “Dad! They’re here!”

Bryn looked over her shoulder at Patrick, who seemed just as stunned. He quietly holstered his gun. So did she. Bryn had time to mouth, what the fuck? and then the boy moved aside, and a man stepped up into the doorway in his place.

He was medium height, a little plump and straining the buttons on his button-down shirt. Well-worn jeans and battered work boots.

“Ah,” he said. “Come in. I’ve been expecting you; I don’t think there’s anything I can add to what you already know, but I’ll certainly try. Can I offer you a drink? Iced tea, maybe?”

“Sure,” Bryn said. She wasn’t at all sure what the hell was going on, and from his expression, neither was Patrick. “That’d be fine. Excuse me, but you are Martin Reynolds?”

“All day long,” the man said. “And you’re here about the Fountain Group. Aaron, go play with your sister. Stay out of here until I call you—understand?”

The boy looked up at his father and frowned. “Why can’t I stay?”

“Boring stuff,” Reynolds said. “Go. Scoot.” As his son ran off through the large, comfortable living room and turned to the right, Reynolds watched him with a soft, loving smile. “Good kid.” He turned and met Bryn’s gaze with surprising directness. “Come on. Let’s get you that tea and sort all this out.”

Chapter 12

Bryn had to wonder whether Patrick found this as surreal as she did—sitting at the breakfast table in the big granite-countered kitchen while the man they’d been dead set on capturing made them iced tea. With freshly sliced lemons. “I saw you on the security cameras,” he said. “I’d have gone out to let you in, but I was afraid you’d think that was confrontational.”

He set Bryn’s iced tea in front of her, then Patrick’s. She gave Patrick a little shake of her head to tell him not to drink yet, and took a deep mouthful. Cold, tangy, and good. She waited for any ill effects, but nothing came.

“So—you’re on the board of the Fountain Group.”

“Yes.” He put his glass down, and his easy expression shifted to something serious. “At least I was, until very recently. Until I discovered exactly what they were doing in their . . . processing centers. I’ve resigned now, and I can assure you, I had absolutely no idea of the cost overruns associated with the research. If I’d known, I’d have taken aggressive action to rein in that kind of reckless behavior.”

The stunning cluelessness of it made Bryn sit there, staring at him, unable to think how to even begin. Finally she said, “You were concerned about the costs,” she repeated. “What about the—ethics of what you were doing?”

“Ethics?” He said it as if the word were untranslatable. Maybe it was, in his world. “Look, this is about budgets, isn’t it? I told you, when the true costs were uncovered, I just found it all unacceptable, and I simply could not sign off on the expense of turning it into the expanded program. That’s all. I know you’re here from the auditors, but—”

“Auditors,” Patrick said, and pulled his sidearm. He put it on the table between them with a heavy thunk on the wood. “You really think we’re auditors.”

Bryn watched his eyes go blank and wide, and his knuckles whiten around his glass. He didn’t make a move. Finally, he licked his lips and said, “What is this?”

“It’s a gun,” Bryn said. “I can give you make and model, if that’s what you’re asking. But I think we need to rewind this conversation again. Why exactly did you quit?”

“I—I told you! I found out there were significant costs that weren’t being accounted for, and it was bound to come out. I wanted to be on record as having nothing to do with it. . . . What’s going on? Why are you carrying a gun?”

“More than one,” Bryn said, and showed him hers, concealed under the jacket. “You’re talking about numbers. We’re talking about lives. The Fountain Group is killing people, Mr. Reynolds.”

“Dr. Reynolds,” he said, in an automatic sort of way as if he corrected people all the time. He did strike her as an academic more than a businessman, she thought. Someone with his head in the ivory-tower clouds. “I have no idea why you would say a thing like that, Miss Davis.”

“Bryn,” she said. “Since we’re all friendly, Dr. Reynolds. And I say that because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the experiments. I’ve seen the damage. I’ve seen the death. And you were part of it.” His clueless confusion was making anger knot tight inside her guts. How could he—how dare he sit there with his iced tea in his smug little mountain getaway and tell her that he had no idea? She had a sudden, unsettling impulse to grab him by the throat and squeeze, out of blind fury.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, and slowly rose to his feet. “I think you’d better leave.”

“I think you’d better sit your ass down,” Bryn snapped. “Anyone else in the house besides your kids?”

“No. My wife is traveling. She’s—” He sank back in the chair, even though she hadn’t made a move for the gun. “Are you going to kill me? Please, not my kids, please—”

“We’re not here to kill anybody,” Patrick broke in. Speak for yourself, Bryn thought. “Dr. Reynolds, you must have been aware of the pharmaceutical research being conducted under the Fountain Group’s direction.”

“Of course I was. The research is vital to national defense. But I didn’t know the cost. . . .”

“You mean, in helpless dementia patients being used as human petri dishes to grow nanites?” Bryn said. “The entire staff of Pharmadene killed and revived to ensure corporate loyalty? That cost?”

She expected him to get more upset, but oddly enough, he relaxed. He sat back in the chair, sighed, looked down, and shook his head. “I only learned about Pharmadene after the fact, and that had nothing to do with us, nothing at all. We were merely investors in the project. Once Pharmadene imploded, we took over the intellectual property, and it immediately became clear the potential was vast, so we made arrangements with the military to continue the technology in a very tightly controlled manner. There’s nothing wrong with what we did.”

They all sat in silence for a moment. Bryn couldn’t come up with a reply, not one that didn’t involve physical force. It took Patrick to say, in a tight but calm voice, “You mean you see nothing wrong with conducting illegal experiments on nonconsenting patients. Or destroying them when you’re done.”

“You fail to see the bigger picture.” Dr. Reynolds leaned forward now, earnest and eager. “Those people were dying in a horribly useless way; I know, my own father suffered from Alzheimer’s. But this drug, our drug—it gave them a chance to be useful.”

“Useful,” Bryn repeated. Her throat was so tight it hurt. “They were incubators. I was there. When you were finished with them, you dumped them in incinerators. Don’t you get it?”

He flinched and looked away. “You just don’t understand the potential,” he said, but his voice was fainter now. Less certain. “We can cure everything with this, ultimately. We can stop the suffering of billions. Wipe out disease completely in our lifetimes.”

“You can create a sterilized crop of controllable creatures who aren’t human any longer. Want to see what you’ve accomplished, doctor?” Bryn’s hand blurred to the side, and she picked up the gun and aimed it at Reynolds before Patrick could stop her. “Want to really see what you’ve made? Because I can show you. I can show you, your kids, and any other living thing in this house. And you will not enjoy it.”


She knew Patrick had said her name, but it only registered as a blip, a vague shadow. Her focus was a needle-sharp arrow pointed right at Reynolds. He seemed to be the only thing she could focus on.

A predator’s instinct.

“Bryn. Enough.” This time, Patrick’s voice, and his hand on her wrist, broke through. She blinked and sat back, but she didn’t give up the weapon. “Take a good look, Doctor. This woman was murdered by people associated with Pharmadene; she was brought back. Doesn’t she seem grateful?”

“But hasn’t it made you better?” Reynolds asked urgently. “You won’t get sick. You can’t be injured badly, or for long. You can’t be killed except by . . . extreme measures. It’s what humanity has always wanted—health and survival, a guarantee in a hostile world.”