THE CHINA FORMULA

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Chapter Eleven

Nancy caught a whiff of blood when she opened her front door and she froze. It was a smell she was intimately familiar with and she went instantly from love struck grad student to deadly capable agent. She quietly entered the house.

All her senses and instincts told her it was empty but she proceeded as if it wasn’t. The smell grew stronger as step by quiet step she got closer to the study. She knew what this was about and cursed herself for not being here when it happened and for waiting so long to act. She knew what she would find when she reached the study and she braced herself for it.

She didn’t react when she found Michael’s body. She placed her disgust, outrage, and loss in a cold small corner of her mind where she would deal with it later. The strong smell of blood assaulted her nostrils. She was reminded of a slaughterhouse, and indeed that was what had occurred here, the slaughter of a weak man. She put the thought on hold, for now. She was a trained agent, an observer trying to assess what had happened here and trying to decide what to do next.

Michael had obviously been tortured and she had no doubt that the timid, fragile economist had told his murderers everything he knew about the secret and about Lambros.

She studied the body critically. They had worked him over; she doubted if she would have even recognized it as him if she had come across the corpse anywhere other than his home. She looked around the study and her observations confirmed her assessment that the economist had told his killers everything. Every laptop, CPU, disc, USB, notebook, anything associated with the project was gone. Michael’s torturers would need all of that for any attempt to reproduce Lambros work but the professor had already tried that and it hadn’t worked. They would need Lambros and she was sure that the frightened, tortured, Michael had told them this. Their obvious next move would be to track him down.

She moved swiftly through the rest of the house looking for anything that would give her a clue as to how many there were or a hint of who they were. When she had gone over the entire house and didn’t find anything that helped her she returned to her bedroom and retrieved the Glock 26 pistol she had hidden in a false bottom she had created in her dresser drawer. She had made Michael purchase the gun for her over his objections but Canada or not, she felt naked without a lethal form of protection and a kitchen knife just didn’t cut it for her.

The weapon had been lying here unused and unthought-of of for months so getting the 3/32nd inch punch and Swiss Army Knife she had purchased at Sears she disassembled it, assembled it, and performed a function check. After determining that the pistol functioned perfectly she attached the silencer and changed from her mini skirt into a pair of camouflage BDU pants she had purchased from an Army surplus store. Military fashion seemed popular everywhere she remembered thinking when she had bought the pants. She put on a tight white tank top, then after placing the pistol in her right cargo pocket and four magazines of ammo in her left, she liberally doused her arms and neck with baby oil, carefully making sure her hands were powder dry when she was finished.

She debated as to whether she should call the Lambros house but rejected the idea. That was the lover and friend speaking. The professional knew it was too late for phone calls, that they wouldn’t help or resolve anything. She had to go there and she had to be ready to face whatever she found. She checked herself, mentally and physically one more time then strode out to her Toyota and sped towards her lover’s house.


After dropping Nancy off at the university Lambros had cruised home in a daze. He was in love and all was right with the world. When he got home he paid no mind whatsoever to the strange car parked in the yard. He assumed it was an unannounced visit from friends, a visit his parents had simply neglected to mention with all that was going on in their lives these days. A quiet Sunday morning visit with friends might be good for mom he thought as he put his key into the front door and entered the house.

A strong arm yanked him into the house and he heard the door slam as a blow to his face startled and confused him further. He dropped to his knees and mercifully the attacks ceased as he looked down on the floor and tried to think and recover. When he looked up he found himself surrounded by four men, one of them a giant.

The giant spoke; ’you are Leonidas Lambros?” It was more a demand for confirmation than a question. Leonidas nodded in the affirmative still too dazzled to speak. This was unthinkable; it wasn’t as if this was the United States. He lived in a quiet suburb of Toronto for God’s sake. Suddenly a terrifying thought occurred to him and despite his confusion he asked the big man, “Where are my parents? What have you done with them?”

The giant nodded to himself; this was good. If this Lambros loved his parents as even an infidel should then it would be no problem getting the information from him.

“Your mother and father are alright. We have not touched them, but whether they remain unharmed is completely up to you Mr. Lambros. We have some questions for you. If you answer them honestly and completely, both you and your parents will come through this without injury. If you refuse or if we catch you in a lie, then the consequences will be severe, fatal even.” He roughly hauled Lambros to his feet and pushed him in the direction of the den.

When they got to the den Leon filled with rage when he saw his frightened parents huddled in misery on the sofa. A tall, thin, bearded man stood over them with a gun. They’re Arabs Leonidas realized and even through his anger became a little more afraid. Terrorists often didn’t want anything and most times there was nothing you could do to appease them. But despite his fear something had changed in Leon, something had clicked somewhere in his head when he saw his parents and he did a mental shift from victim to protector and possible avenger. These men would pay for this. One way or another he would make sure of that. But what the hell was this about?

“Mom, dad, are you OK? Did they hurt you?”

“We’re OK son.” His father answered weakly. “They seemed to just be waiting for you.”

“Me? What is this all about?” Leon demanded angrily turning to the giant, but it was the other man, the man holding the gun on his parents, who answered him.

“Mr. Lambros, my name is Khalid sheik Mohammed and this is about the formula the professor claims you discovered.


Stanley and Allen woke up late Sunday morning. They had separate rooms at the Hyatt and neither was in the mood to even pretend camaraderie today so they didn’t even eat breakfast together. The unspoken consensus was that they had been seeing entirely too much of each other lately.

Around eleven AM they decided to scope out the professor’s neighborhood and maybe even give him a visit today at home instead of approaching him on campus tomorrow. Stanley was convinced the professor would be at home. “After all,” he patiently explained to his partner, “He’s a professor and a Chinaman, where else is he going to be, Church?”

After driving around what appeared to be a nice, quiet neighborhood in an extraordinarily peaceful North American city they decided to see if the professor was home. Stanley reasoned that the guy might be more intimidated and thus more cooperative away from the university where he was probably one of its most respected and powerful figures. They pulled up in front of the house just in time to miss a determined Nancy pulling off.

After knocking, ringing the doorbell, and shouting, they decided to chance breaking and entering. Again, it was Stanley’s call and he only bothered to explain his reasoning to his partner after he had pulled out his tools and began working on the lock.

By this point Allen was beginning to feel as if he was only along for the ride but that was fine by him. This mission smelled, and like it or not, Stanley usually had good instincts about this sort of thing so he was content to follow his lead. If Stanley felt it was useful to go through the house while the professor wasn’t home, then more than likely they would find something interesting and useful. Stanley was lucky that way.

They got into the house quickly and easily. The locks were a snap. Stanley had heard that most Canadians didn’t even bother locking their doors. The professor may has well have joined the majority and not have bothered, if he was going to choose such an easy lock to pick he thought as the door opened. The place felt empty but they proceeded quietly until they got to the study.

“Holy shit!” Stanley exclaimed when he found the bruised and battered corpse. “Somebody beat us to him, and I’m guessing he told them everything he knew. Allen concurred and was secretly pleased he had not had to help do something like this to the poor dead guy, even if it meant their mission was a failure.

They looked around for obvious clues as to who did this. It was clear that one or more computers were missing but after looking through the house the only surprising thing they learned was that a young girl lived here with the professor and strangely enough there were no photographs of her anywhere. Friend? Girlfriend? Student? These were possible but the lack of pictures set both men’s warning radar off. A young modern girl with no pictures around? It didn’t add up.

They decided to call the murder in and let the Canadians do a complete investigation. It would be easy enough to have someone in the CIA call to make sure they were thorough, fast, and would allow Stanley and Allen access to the report.

There was absolutely no sign of anything to do with a financial formula; they didn’t even find a checkbook. Maybe they’d get lucky at the guy’s office over at the university. That was the obvious next step though both men doubted they’d get lucky there. Only one thing was certain about this mess at this point and that was that Mr. Jonathan Stewart would be one unhappy camper when he got their next phone call.

Stanley and Allen spent the day combing over everything in the professor’s university office. They didn’t find any clue of the formula but maybe the tech boys would get lucky with the computer. What they did find was a name: Leonidas Lambros.

Omar was having the time of his life. He managed to keep a serious face so that his comrades would think he was a serious man and so take him seriously…but it was hard sometimes. Take for instance when they were beating and torturing the oriental heathen.

While they had been subjecting the old man to various indignities and painful tortures here in real life, up on the computer monitor a big black transvestite had been subjecting her slave, a mild mannered white guy to her own version of torture. It had been titillating, so titillating that Khalid, their spiritual leader had left the room in protest when Yusuf refused to turn the computer off.

The other four had stayed and Omar could tell that they were all enjoying the performance on the computer as much as he was. Yusuf clearly enjoyed it the most and it was frightening to watch him sometimes as he worked the old man over far beyond what was necessary to get information from him. Right now, there was a lull in the excitement as Khalid tried to persuade this Lambros to give them the information they required without the use of torture but Omar had a feeling that Lambros was tougher and smarter than the old Chinaman and Yusuf would once again get the chance to show an infidel the wrath of the righteous.

The only problem was that Omar was currently assigned to the kitchen and watching the back door. If he stayed here he would miss all the fun but he had a plan. When Yusuf started doing his thing he would request that he and Jamal, who was watching the front door, be rotated. That way he would be closer when the giant was unleashed and the fun started.

“Look”, Leon said for what seemed the hundredth time, “I am the one who discovered this process… but it’s just that, a process…not a formula. It will take me hours to write it up so that someone with knowledge of how the Forex market works would know what to do to get the right results. There is no point in even trying to explain it to you guys. You don’t have the basic training and background.”

What Lambros said was true to a point but for the most part he was stalling, waiting for an idea or an opportunity. Right now, it didn’t look like he would get one but he was optimistic. They would make a mistake. He would get an opportunity. He had to be able to recognize it and take complete advantage when it happened. He tried not to look at his parents sitting helpless and tied together on the sofa. He had to focus, focus on the opportunity, and focus on staying alive.

He thought about a conversation he’d had with Nancy where she had suggested that bad men might do bad things to acquire a secret that could bring them unimaginable wealth. He had laughed, secretly thinking that her idea was the result of having been brought up in a communist system. Such a thing couldn’t happen in the West, certainly not in Canada. There were laws and systems in place. But he realized now that he had underestimated the power of human greed.

Greed followed no rules, respected no laws. Greed had come knocking on his front door and when he didn’t answer had simply kicked it open and come in anyway. This was his fault. He should have known greedy men would be drawn to his work. He should have thought of another way, a safer way, to bring it out into the world. He should have listened to Nancy and the professor, if he had, the professor would be alive now and none of this would be happening. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Khalid was in over his head and he knew it. They were committed now; murder had been done in a foreign country. The very best way to make sure that they were successful would be to take Lambros with them and let others more knowledgeable extract the information but this was clearly impossible. They had the computers and everything else associated with the formula, they even had the man himself, but they ran the risk that because of their ignorance it would all be for nothing. They would have to trust that whatever Lambros wrote up about his process was factual…unless.

“This is what we will do. We will go down to your cave and you will write up the report. You will write it so that anyone can follow your instructions. Then using your report to guide me I will make several transactions. If my transactions prove successful we will leave here with you and your parents unharmed, but if even one of these transactions proves wrong then I will have my man kill one of your parents, you can choose which one. Your life and the lives of both your parents are in your hands Mr. Lambros but know this: we will not leave here until I am convinced we have the correct information and that I know how to use it. Do you understand me?”

Leonidas nodded. He was running out of excuses and he was running out of time. He had to do something soon. Common sense told him these men couldn’t afford to leave him or his parents alive.

“Good, let’s go down to the basement and get started.”


Nancy parked her car two streets over from the Lambros house and started walking back towards it. She had decided that she couldn’t afford to make her move until after dark. It had seemed like the longest day of her life as she waited and imagined what might be happening to Leonidas, Catherine, and Emmanuel. It was hard to focus on formulating strategy when images of the dead Michael kept popping into her head as a reminder of what might be happening right now to the Lambros family but she had icily put herself in agent mode until nightfall.

She had decided to go in through the back door which was in the kitchen. Chances were, there was a guard there but it was probably only one man. It wasn’t a very secure door. The bottom half was solid enough but the top half consisted of small rectangular panes of glass separated by thin wooden strips. If you broke a pane near the doorknob you were in. She had guessed there were no more than six men involved since she had spotted only the one car. They would have a guard at the front door and the back, and one or maybe two men guarding Mr. and Mrs. Lambros, probably in the big den. The rest would probably be down in the bat cave with Leon. She had considered several ways to get through the door and into the kitchen but finally decided on keeping it simple.

Walking up to the door she peered through the curtain trying to get a glimpse of whoever was inside. No one was moving and she couldn’t see anyone, so gently she twisted the knob hoping against hope that it was unlocked… it wasn’t so with a sigh of resignation she gently knocked.


Omar was bored now. The action, what little there was, had moved down into the basement while he was still stuck here in the kitchen. It didn’t look as if this Lambros was going to put up much of a fight but still, maybe Yusuf would let him kill the infidel or one of his parents after they got what they needed. He and Yusuf had been friends since childhood and Omar to his embarrassment had never killed anyone so he was hoping his friend would do him a favor and let him gain credit for the death of at least one of these infidels.

He was imagining himself back in his village boasting of his exploits in Canada, to the boys and men when he heard a gentle knock on the door. He moved towards the door not sure if he hadn’t imagined the sound. He pulled back the curtain to see if anyone was there and Nancy shot him in the forehead. Reaching in through the pane her bullet had shattered she let herself into the house.

Abdul heard noise from the kitchen but he didn’t pay it any attention. That idiot Omar had been banging around back there all day. He was probably cooking something, hopefully he would share. They had been here for hours and Abdul was getting hungry. He was sitting with his back to the hallway that led to the kitchen so that he could watch Mr. and Mrs. Lambros as well as see if anyone came up from the basement or from the front, it was a good position for watching every direction except that of the kitchen, so he didn’t notice Nancy creeping up behind him but Mr. and Mrs. Lambros did.

Emmanuel Lambros was a tough old man but he had never been in or imagined being in a situation like this. He was afraid. He admitted that to himself, he thought a man would have to be stupid not to be afraid in this situation. But his fear was mostly for his wife and his son, not for himself, and he felt good about that because that was the right response when a man’s loved ones were in danger. When he saw, Nancy sneaking up on their guard his first thought was that, in his excitement and desperation he had begun hallucinating, but he immediately dismissed that idea, he’d been a hard headed and practical man all his life no matter the situation. Why would he suddenly go flaky now? It didn’t make sense. His second thought was the hope that his eyes hadn’t given his son’s girlfriend away to the terrorist watching them so closely. They hadn’t; but his wife’s had.

Nancy could have put the guard away with a single shot, except for the fact that Emmanuel and Catherine were directly in the line of fire on the other side of her target. She didn’t want to chance it so she began to move off at an angle that would give her a clean shot with no chance of hitting her friends when the terrorist jumped up, spun, and fired in one smooth motion that almost caught her completely off guard.

It also almost cost her life but forward motion at the angle she was moving, meant the bullet caught her in the shoulder instead of the top of the chest. It did cost her the gun however, and it bounced uselessly out of reach on the thick carpet where the bullet to the shoulder had caused her to fling it. What saved her life though was when Abdul saw it was a girl. That was the reason he didn’t keep pulling the trigger, once the gun hit the floor he thought he was in control of the situation. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Emmanuel flew from the sofa. His hands were tied and his legs were stiff, but he hit Abdul hard with a body check, his only goal to separate the terrorist from his gun. He was successful and he heard the gun hit the floor but there was no time to savor his victory, Abdul instantly began pounding him mercilessly so he concentrated on staying close. When he got the chance, he did the only thing he could do offensively, taking a deep breath and opening his mouth as wide as possible he bit his assailant on his arm, his mouth came down on the terrorist’s bicep and Abdul screamed in pain and outrage then doubled his efforts to beat Emmanuel off but the old man hung on like a pit bull in a death match.

Butrus, the killer stationed at the front door, rushed into the den a moment after he heard Abdul scream, his focused immediately on the tussle in the middle of the room so for a second he wasn’t even aware that Nancy was in the room. That second was all she needed. She kicked his pistol from his hand, then closed with him. Because of her shoulder wound she couldn’t finish him as quickly as she normally would have but still it was no contest.

Butrus was a strong young man and something of a fighter but he was only trained well enough to survive about a minute of Nancy’s vicious, well executed martial arts attack. He died when, using the knuckles of her tightly closed left fist. She shattered the cartilage that gives the nose its shape and followed through with blow after merciless blow until a piece of it pierced his brain. She sprang up and ran over to where Omar was so focused on taking out his rage and frustration on the now helpless Emmanuel. The thug kneeled over the old man, hitting him again and again. It was obvious that he wouldn’t stop until his victim was dead. Nancy pounced on the terrorist’s back and locking her left arm around his head gave a violent twist, one time…two times…three times. The man dropped like a rock all life having instantly fled his body.

“Are you all right? She asked the old man, gently helping him to his feet.

“I’ve been better.” He laughed while he tried to staunch the blood running from his nose. Nancy ripped the shirt off Abdul’s back and guiding him gently back to the sofa, helped him lean his head back while she pressed the shirt firmly over the injured organ. She untied Catherine and after a quick hug retrieved the three guns. Placing one in the hand of the recovering Emmanuel she said simply, “Protect your wife.” The old man grasped the pistol firmly and nodded his tilted head.

“Wait here. Don’t call the police yet, just stay alert, this shouldn’t take long. If the next person you see isn’t me or your son shoot them. Shoot them until you are sure they’re dead then reload the gun. How many of them are in the basement with Leonidas?” she asked, checking the other two guns as she spoke.

“Two, but one of them is huge.” Catherine answered.

Nodding, and with a gun in each hand, Nancy headed down the hall.

Down in the bat cave, Leonidas was getting worried. He had been trying to come up with a plan that gave him a fighting chance once the instructions on accurately predicting the Forex market were complete but nothing he thought of eliminated the advantage created by Yusef’s size and strength. The best he had could come up with had been to put his security protocols back online.

They weren’t lethal, merely an impressive sound and light show meant to scare off unauthorized visitors but it might give him a moment of surprise as they left the basement and he would use that moment to attack the giant with everything he had. He wasn’t optimistic about his chances but it was all he had. He knew that once these men were sure they had what they had come here for they would kill him and his mom and dad would be next. There was a very good chance he wouldn’t leave this basement alive.

“Is this all?”

“Yeah, this is it but I think it’s going to take you a while to fully understand it.”

“That may very well be.” Khalid replied calmly taking the printout from Leon. “But in the meantime, you will make three transactions for me, huge transactions, and I hope for your sake…and your parents, that something in the next few hours convinces me that your process is veracious and that I can replicate your results with the information I’m holding in my hand.”

“Do you even have three Forex accounts?”

“Don’t be condescending Mr. Lambros. We came prepared. Let me at your computer a moment.”

Leonidas grudgingly stood up. As Khalid sat down, the basement exploded in a flurry of light and sound as Nancy tripped the alarm system coming in. She had tried to gently open the door. She knew about the alarm but assumed it would be off since Leon was inside. So much for stealth. she thought and burst into the room.

Everyone reacted differently. Leon was as startled as the Arabs but realized this was the moment he had been praying for. He went for the seated Khalid, one burning thought at the front of his mind. Get the Gun!

His prayed the giant wouldn’t shoot him because they still needed him. In fact, that was only one of several reasons Yusef didn’t kill him then, another was that he wanted to see how the sanctimonious preacher would react with an infidel at his throat. He suspected Lambros would get the best of Khalid and he hoped that in his humiliation Khalid would give his assent to torture the Canadian and his family…whether they needed it or not. He was moving at a leisurely pace towards the two men and still a little disoriented by the lights and noise when Nancy hit him from behind like a ton of Chinese bricks.

Not willing to risk a shot, she jumped on the big man’s shoulders, she flung one pistol down, locked her legs, and began pounding Yusef mercilessly on the head her Glock. The giant roared like a wounded bull as he twisted and turned, his enraged efforts to dislodge his assailant resulting in a macabre parody of dance.

On the other side of the room, Khalid and Lambros were locked in their own version of a dance with death, both struggling fiercely to take the lead. Leon was stronger and in better shape but he had never been involved in a struggle so desperate or where the stakes were so high. Khalid held the gun in both hands while Leon’s hands were locked around his.

Leon slammed the Arab’s hand again and again against the hardwood surface of the desk but the preacher refused to relax his grip on the gun. He jerked his knee hard into his opponent’s groin. One time, two times, three times, until with a grunt of anguish, pain, and failure, Khalid let go of the gun.

Leon continued the assault. He swung a fist around against the side of Khalid’s face. He couldn’t land a satisfying blow because of the angle but it was enough to distract the man from protecting his bruised groin. Leon slammed his knee up with every ounce of strength he could muster and when the Arab finally dropped to his hands and knees, the angry Canadian put all of his rage and frustration into a terrible kick that smashed Khalid’s face and broke his neck. Leonidas Lambros had killed his first human being and he knew it. He promptly bent over and vomited.

Nancy was on the ride of her life. The giant roared as he slammed himself backwards into the walls of the basement. He was strong, and his tactic might have eventually worked if he hadn’t had to worry about the pistol that kept pounding mercilessly at his head. It was maddening. When in his pain, frustration, and confusion, he switched tactics and reached up to simply snatch her off his back with brute strength, Nancy was ready for him. Still pounding his head with the pistol in her right hand, she squeezed his torso relentlessly with her athletic thighs and held on as she grabbed the middle finger of the giant’s upwardly seeking right hand, with her left hand, and snapped the middle finger.

His roar turned into a howl of pain and he instinctively snatched his hand down and away from the source of the pain. But she was still pounding against his skull and he was blind now from the blood seeping from his head and running down into his eyes. He dropped to his knees, more from despair and frustration than from siphoning strength and with one smooth move Nancy unlocked her legs, planting them firmly on the floor.

Centering her left hand on the base of the huge head she leaned in and pushed with all her might. The instant the giant’s face smashed into the tiled floor she flipped the Glock’s safety off with her thumb and put a bullet into the back of his still struggling head. She gazed across the room at her lover, her professional eye clinically taking in the dead bodies. She noted the smell of fear, sweat, and vomit that so often accompanied the deceptive calm that was the inevitable aftermath of violent chaos.

Leon looked like hell but he was alive. That was all that mattered to her now. Despite the scene, despite her growing fear that he might not be able to love and accept the real Nancy, she smiled.

“One hell of a morning, wouldn’t you say?”

When Leonidas smiled back she felt an unfamiliar flutter in her heart at the possibility that they would come out of this even stronger than before. A frown crossed his face and her heart froze.

“Mom and dad?” he asked weakly, hopeful but afraid of the answer.

“They’re upstairs. They’re alright. Let’s go up and check on them. We need to talk. I need to tell you some things. You need to make some decisions and sorry but you’re going to have to make them fast.”

In the living room, there was an intense emotional reunion. Everyone hugged as they assured each other they were alright. Then they sat down to compare notes and decide what to do next. Nancy led off. She told them everything. Who she was, who Michael had been, and what she had witnessed at his house this morning. She ended her story with a now very complicated truth. She loved Leon and though she was far from certain what their next move should be, she had a growing certainty that he wasn’t safe anywhere in the West.

“So you’re a spy.” Emanuel stated flatly.

“I work for the Chinese government. China’s enemies are my enemies. I wasn’t sent here to harm you or move against Canada in any way but it was important for my government to ascertain the veracity of your son’s formula and try to make sure it wouldn’t be used against us.”

“So who are these guys?” Leonidas asked aloud. “And how did they even know about me or what I can do?”

“A good question. They are obviously Middle Eastern, obviously trained terrorist, though not trained very well I think. These are soldiers. Low level, expendable soldiers sent to retrieve something of value and bring it back to their hidden masters, whoever they are. The question for us right now is what will those masters do when they find out their soldiers have failed?”

“Shouldn’t we call the police and just let them handle this?” Catherine suggested a little uncertainly. This was more excitement and danger than she had ever been exposed to in her quiet life and she was tired. She was also a model citizen and just wanted to turn this whole thing over to the proper authorities in the naive belief that they would do the right thing.

“That is certainly an option.” Nancy stated in the matter of fact tone she used to explain things to others, “But the more I think about this, the more I think that someone in authority somewhere sent these men.”

“You mean someone in the government?” Emanuel asked incredulously.

“Someone in a government, but probably not the Canadian government. If I had to bet, I’d say it was the Americans. This isn’t Canada’s style. Nor would they have access to a trained terrorist cell.”

“So, what do you suggest we do?”

Leonidas knew he was in over his head and he felt remorse and guilt that his naiveté had put all their lives at risk. Something told him to trust Nancy now. She was apparently experienced and trained for this type of situation.

“First we contain it. We clean up this mess and make these bodies disappear. Then we get Catherine and Emmanuel to safety. I suggest an extended visit to Greece. She wants to visit again and you have friends and relatives there.”

Catherine had told her this in one of the many heart to heart conversations they’d had in the last few months as they’d delicately forged a mother-daughter bond of surprising but welcome intensity.

“Leonidas, you and I need to find out who’s behind this. We will need resources and protection. My resources are limited here in North America and my protection only entails what I can do physically. I can do so much more in China. I think we should go there, find out who these people are and figure out a way to take the fight to them. I believe I can do all of that from China…but here, I’m just…one highly talented individual with a very useful set of skills.”

Leonidas thought it over. His mind reeled at what a difference a day made. He was shaken by the violence and terror of the previous few hours but he was also moved by the love he and Nancy had consummated and the fact that she had risked her life and now compromised her assignment for him and his family. He bitterly cursed his naiveté in ignoring that something as potentially profitable as his knowledge would draw predators willing to do anything to own it. Like sharks drawn to the smell of warm blood in seawater they had come and now he must deal with them.

He looked at his parents and at the carnage done to his previously happy typical Canadian home and something stirred within him. He wanted to prevent this from ever happening again. He wanted to teach whoever this was that he was not prey, not anymore, never again. More than anything else though, he wanted revenge.

“I’m in. Where do we start?”

Nancy smiled. She recognized that determined look. “You guys clean this place up. I’ll show you how to sanitize it. I’ll take care of the bodies.”

She looked around at the dead Arabs, thinking of the many ways she knew of to dispose of dead human flesh. She was a firm believer in keeping things simple and time was critical.

“Would you happen to know where the nearest pig farm is?”

“I’ll draw you a map.” Emanuel volunteered and went in search of pen and paper.

“I’m going to get my car.” Nancy responded and went outside. It was a quiet night; with no hint of the violence and tragedy the day had brought. She brought her car around and parked it in front of the Lambros house, then grabbed her cellphone and went back inside.

When she powered the phone on she saw there was a message and she guessed it was probably from the dead Michael. A message from the grave? She shivered and played the message while Leonidas attended to his mother.

The message was in Chinese but to her surprise it was from her grandfather, not the professor. His voice was terse, strained and she immediately knew something was wrong.

“Things are coming to a head here in China. I have been wounded but I’m OK. I need rest though, and I need you. I’m going to the safe house in the White city. Come to me as soon as you can and be prepared to go to work. China is on the verge of civil war and you and I may be the only ones who can prevent it.”

Her confusion and fear played across her face for a moment before quickly replaced with her mask of resolve.

“Is something wrong?” Leonidas asked.

After the events of today he thought he was prepared for anything but he reeled in confusion when she said: “Change of plans. There’s trouble in China. After we clean up here we need to get the first available plane to China.”

“Beijing? Shanghai?”

“No” she smiled.

“Baicheng.”

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