The Shadows of Olympus

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Chapter 13

Logan logged onto the Amrail web site, where he bought them two tickets for the next train running the high-speed Boston-Washington D.C. line. They’d board at the station on Market Street when it stopped there a little before six and get off in Baltimore two hours later. Given the hassle involved in getting on a plane that was at least as quick a way to get there—which also spared them the headache of having to pass through airport security, and the risk involved in hanging around such a high-security place for so long. Logan also found them a two-bedroom hotel suite downtown.

That left them with the problem of explaining their abrupt departure on the New York end of things. Fortunately as an art dealer and a security consultant, each of them was self-employed, and each had had to travel on short notice for business purposes a number of times in the past, so that their doing so would not greatly surprise anyone.

Ashley started writing the e-mail that would let Emma know that her absence from the gallery would continue longer than she’d expected as she continued to glance at the feed of Granite-Face and G-Woman (as she mentally dubbed the two figures) poking about her apartment.

She didn’t expect them to find anything compromising. The contents of her computer at home, her papers—she kept anything having to do with this work out of them. She also kept all the special tools of her trade elsewhere, in a rented storage unit. There were keys, to the safe house and the unit, but they were unmarked, and in any case she took them with her the last time she left.

Still, there was always the chance that she’d made a mistake, in spite of her precautions left something incriminating, and if she had done that she needed to know about it as quickly as possible. There was, too, the possibility that one or the other of them would say something about what their boss was thinking, about their rationale in going to her home. However, they remained wordless until they gave up and left, apparently empty-handed.

But she couldn’t assume that would be the last place they went. And she didn’t confuse the likelihood that they didn’t know about the safe house with their not being able to find out about it. Fortunately she and Logan didn’t plan to be there much longer, and when they did leave, they would take everything of importance with them: their copy of the disc, documents to support several different identities.

As the afternoon progressed each of them packed a suitcase just under the train company’s size limit for carry-ons, as anything larger than that had to be checked forty-five minutes before the train’s departure, and the last thing they wanted was anyone possibly going through their things. During the process they took care to distribute the more critical items between them, so that losing one or both of the suitcases would not seriously disrupt the plan.

Once they saw to these details Ashley considered the message she would send the Client. She supposed it was best not to mention her suspicions, or even the intrusion into her apartment. Her recognizing what he was thinking would look not like her having cleverly connected the dots, but proof of her transgression. It seemed better to simply ask what was going on, to act the anxious contractor—as she had good reason to be given that she’d rendered the promised service and not been paid for it.

She simply wrote, “It’s been four hours. Where’s the money?” and then fired off the e-mail without hope either of reply or of the pursuit being called off anytime soon, and an acute awareness that the Client might not be the only one coming after her. Northrop’s people could still be gunning for her, intent on answers to the questions they still had after getting the disc back, or simply punishment. (Ashley remembered how the other day she’d thought about the danger of having two different sets of people out to get her. That didn’t seem like a danger anymore. It was in all likelihood the actuality.)

At the same time they couldn’t forget about the problem of the authorities independently taking an interest in her, if not because of the MyTube video, then her being so near to Colby so shortly before his death. It was a brush-pass, but there was still a small chance that someone in the park remembered a woman sitting down next to Colby and passed word of it on to them. And unlikely as it seemed at the moment, if the Client were to bring in the authorities, the information he had on her made his turning in their direction far more threatening.

At four-fifty P.M. Ashley and Logan made a final check of the security system and left, exiting the building through the back door and proceeding to the subway station. (Speed still had priority over counter surveillance technique this time.) There they caught the five o’clock to the Market Street train station, where they collected their tickets, then proceeded to the platform to board their first-class car. Inside they made their way to their seats near the middle (where anyone who tried would have a hard time sneaking up on them) and put their suitcases in the overhead bin. Ashley kept just her purse as she settled into her window seat, Logan the aisle-side seat next to hers (to give Ashley a discrete measure of shelter from onlookers).

The airline-style seats had separate armrests and ample legroom, enough that even the six-two and rather broadly built Logan looked at ease sitting down in his. Still, Ashley was very conscious of the other seats around them being filled up. Not that they expected otherwise, one reason why they’d agreed not to speak at all while on the train.

Instead Logan folded down his table, laid his laptop on it, and plugged the computer’s power cord into an ankle-height outlet in the side of the car. Once it was on, he plugged a pair of ear buds into the laptop and inserted Orangutan Island into the disc tray. Something light to pass the time, Ashley supposed. She got out her Qpod and put its buds in her ears, but didn’t turn the Qpod on just yet, listening instead to the hubbub around her while scrutinizing the people settling into the surrounding seats the same way she had the people in the entrance hall. (For a moment Ashley thought that G-Woman was in the car with them, but a second glance, and then a third, corrected that impression.)

The doors closed, and the train got going—rather more slowly than its “bullet train” label suggested. There were stretches when they couldn’t have been going more than fifty miles an hour, because it was a state-of-the-art train traveling on an old stretch of track, with the latter dictating the terms of the journey.

That was a bit disappointing, but as night fell she thought about that less, because she couldn’t see what was outside very well from the car’s brightly lit interior. Not much except the lights, lights so thick in these densely populated spaces that in a nighttime shot of North America from space she’d seen once looked like a solid carpet of light between the total darkness of the ocean, and the sparser illumination of the lands to the west. Seeing the lights through the window of the train now she thought of how they could have belonged to any number of places. She thought, too, of those places, and the occasions of visits to them, and of that last time in her life when she hadn’t even imagined that she would ever be doing anything like what she was doing now.

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