Quantico, p.1
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       Quantico, p.1

           Greg Bear


  Greg Bear

  To those who put themselves in harm’s way to save us from madness, greed, and folly.

  Table of Contents

  Cover Page

  Title Page



  Chapter One Guatemala, near the Mexican Border Year Minus Two

  Chapter Two Iraq Year Minus One

  Chapter Three Year Zero Arizona

  Chapter Four FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia

  Chapter Five Washington State

  Chapter Six Quantico

  Chapter Seven Washington State

  Chapter Eight El Centro, California

  Chapter Nine Washington State

  Chapter Ten Quantico

  Chapter Eleven Washington State

  Chapter Twelve Temecula, California

  Chapter Thirteen Quantico

  Chapter Fourteen Washington State

  Chapter Fifteen Quantico

  Chapter Sixteen Temecula, California

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen Washington, DC

  Chapter Nineteen Temecula, California

  Chapter Twenty Seattle, Washington

  Chapter Twenty-one Maryland

  Chapter Twenty-two Temecula

  Chapter Twenty-three Seattle

  Chapter Twenty-four Temecula

  part two PILLAR OF FIRE

  Chapter Twenty-five The Patriarch’s Farm Snohomish County

  Chapter Twenty-six Temecula

  Chapter Twenty-seven Snohomish County

  Chapter Twenty-eight Virginia

  Chapter Twenty-nine Washington State

  Chapter Thirty Turkey/Iraq

  Chapter Thirty-one Seattle, Harborview Medical Center

  Chapter Thirty-two Middle America

  Chapter Thirty-three Iraq

  Chapter Thirty-four Washington State

  Chapter Thirty-five Silesia, Ohio

  Chapter Thirty-six Seattle

  Chapter Thirty-seven Northern Iraq, near the Turkish Border

  Chapter Thirty-eight Silesia, Ohio

  Chapter Thirty-nine Seattle

  Chapter Forty Northern Iraq

  Chapter Forty-one Seattle

  Chapter Forty-two Silesia, Ohio

  Chapter Forty-three Seattle

  Chapter Forty-four Northern Iraq

  Chapter Forty-five Silesia, Ohio

  part three MEMORY

  Chapter Forty-six Trenton, NJ October

  Chapter Forty-seven Bethesda, Maryland

  Chapter Forty-eight Silesia, Ohio

  Chapter Forty-nine Incirlik Air Base Turkey

  Chapter Fifty washington, DC

  Chapter Fifty-one Silesia, Ohio

  Chapter Fifty-two SIOC J. Edgar Hoover Building Washington, DC

  Chapter Fifty-three The Hajj Road, ten kilometers from Mecca

  Chapter Fifty-four Temecula, California

  Chapter Fifty-five Spider/Argus Complex Virginia

  Chapter Fifty-six Secure Strategic Support Command (SSSC) Forward Base DAGMAR Jordan

  Chapter Fifty-seven Private Home Maryland

  Chapter Fifty-eight Mecca

  Chapter Fifty-nine Reagan International Airport

  Chapter Sixty Hogantown

  Chapter Sixty-one Turkey, Iraq

  Chapter Sixty-two Mecca

  Chapter Sixty-three Federal Correction Institution Cumberland, Maryland Domestic Security Wing

  Chapter Sixty-four Mecca

  Chapter Sixty-five The Red Sea U.S.S. Robert A. Heinlein, SF-TMS 41

  Chapter Sixty-six Mecca 9th Day, Dhu-Al-Hijjah

  Chapter Sixty-seven SAPTAO Airspace Saudi Arabian Peninsula Tactical Area of Operations Mecca

  Chapter Sixty-eight Desert, East of Mina

  Chapter Sixty-nine The Red Sea U.S.S. Heinlein

  Chapter Seventy Mina

  Chapter Seventy-one Arafat, Mina

  Chapter Seventy-two

  Chapter Seventy-three

  Chapter Seventy-four Arafat

  After Note

  About The Author

  By the same author


  About the Publisher

  part one


  They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities; and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

  —KJV, Deuteronomy, 32:21, cf. Romans 10:19

  …make the town see that he was an enemy of the people, and that the guerillas shot him because the guerillas recognized as their first duty the protection of the citizens.

  Central Intelligence Agency Instruction Manual, Psychological Operations in Guerilla Wars


  Guatemala, near the Mexican Border Year Minus Two

  From the front seat of the Range Rover, the small fat man with the sawed-off shotgun reached back and pulled the hood from his passenger’s head. ‘Too hot, seńor?’ the fat man asked. His breath smelled of TicTacs but that did not conceal the miasma of bad teeth.

  The Nortamericano’s short sandy blond hair bristled with sweat. He took a deep breath and looked out at the red brick courtyard and the surrounding lush trees. His eyes were wild before they settled. ‘A little.’

  ‘I am sorry, and also it is so humid today. It will be nice and cool inside. Senńor Guerrero is a man of much hospitality, once he knows he is safe.’

  ‘I understand.’

  ‘Without that assurance,’ the fat man continued, ‘he can be moody.’

  Two Indians ran from the hacienda. They were young and hungry-looking and carried AK-47s across their chests. One opened the Range Rover’s door and invited the Nortamericano out with a strong tug. He stepped down slowly to the bricks. He was lanky and taller than the fat man. The Indians spoke Mam to each other and broken Spanish to the driver. The driver smiled, showing gaps in his tobacco-stained teeth. He leaned against the hood and lit a Marlboro. His face gleamed in the match’s flare.

  The Indians patted down the tall man as if they did not trust the fat man, the driver, or the others who had accompanied them from Pajapita. They made as if to pat down the driver but he cursed and pushed them away. This was an awkward moment but the fat man barked some words in Mam and the Indians backed off with sour looks. They swaggered and jerked the barrels of their guns. The driver turned away with patient eyes and continued smoking.

  The tall man wiped his face with a handkerchief. Somewhere a generator hummed. The roads at the end had been brutal, rutted and covered with broken branches from the recent hurricane. Still the hacienda seemed to have suffered no damage and glowed with lights in the dusk. In the center of the courtyard a small fountain cast a single stream of greenish water two meters into the air. The stream splashed through a cloud of midges. Small bats swooped back and forth across the blue dusk like swallows. A lone little girl with long black hair, dressed in shorts, a halter top, and pink sandals, played around the fountain. She stopped for a moment to look at the tall man and the Range Rover, then swung her hair and resumed playing.

  The fat man walked to the back of the truck and opened the gate. He pulled down a quintal bag of coffee. It thudded and hissed on the bricks as the beans settled.

  ‘Mr. Guerrero uses no drugs but for coffee, and that he drinks in quantity,’ the fat man said. He squinted one eye. ‘We will wait for you here.’ He tapped his platinum watch. ‘It is best to be brief.’

  A small old woman wearing a long yellow and red cotton dress approached from the hacienda and took the tall man by the hand. She smiled up at him and led him across the courtyard. The little girl watched with a somber expr
ession. Beneath a fine dark fuzz, her upper lip had the faint pink mark of a cleft palate that had been expertly repaired. The bronze gates before the hacienda’s patio were decorated with roughly cast figures of putti, little angels doing chores such as carrying fruit. The angels’ eyes, sad but resigned, resembled the eyes of the old woman and their color was a good match for her skin. Beyond a serious iron door and then a glass door, the hacienda’s centrally cooled air stroked the tall man’s face. Music played through the broad white rooms—light jazz, Kenny G. The old woman showed him to a white couch and pushed him back until he sat. She knelt and removed his shoes, replacing them with sandals from a pouch concealed in the folds of her dress.

  Mr. Guerrero appeared alone in the doorway to the dining room. He was small and well-formed and he wore a yellow and black Hawaiian shirt tucked in and white linen pants and a rope belt. His hair was thick and dark. He looked like a well-to-do man pretending to be a beachcomber.

  ‘Mr. Santerra, welcome,’ Guerrero said. ‘I trust your ride was sincerely terrible.’

  The tall man, whose name was not Santerra, held up a small cloth bag. Glass vials jingled softly inside. ‘At least nothing broke.’

  Guerrero’s cheek jerked. ‘It is done, then?’

  ‘Proof of concept,’ the tall man said. ‘Pure and lethal. Try it on someone you no longer need.’

  Guerrero held up his hands. ‘I am not that kind of man,’ he said. ‘We will test it in a lab, with animals. If it is what you say, you will be given your next money at a place of our choosing. Money is not safe here or in the islands. Terrorism has forced your nation to pay too much attention to world banking.’

  A large balding black man in a black suit entered from the kitchen and walked around Guerrero. He stood in front of the tall man and held out his hand. He received the bag and opened it carefully. Three vials filled with fine powder tinkled into his pink palm. ‘You realize this is not the final product,’ the black man said in a reedy voice with an Austrian accent, to Guerrero. ‘It proves nothing.’

  Guerrero waved his hand, dismissing that concern. ‘You will tell me if they have proven good faith before the next payment. Correct, Seńor Santerra?’

  The tall man nodded.

  ‘I may never see an end to this trouble,’ Guerrero said. He had not taken a step closer since the tall man held up the cloth bag. ‘But I hope my children will. Have you viewed the movie, M, Seńor Santerra?’

  The tall man shook his head.

  ‘The underworld of Germany seeks out a child molester and puts him on trial because he is bringing down so much heat on their operations. It is so here. If you keep your promise, we will give those thoughtless monsters what they deserve.’ He paused, allowing the black Austrian to leave the room with the bag. Then he sat on a heavy wooden chair. His face was lined with years of worry. ‘You have a dangerous quality. It makes me want to trust you.’

  The tall man did not acknowledge this compliment, if it was one.

  ‘I appreciate that you have come in person. When can I expect news?’

  ‘Within three months, at most six.’ The tall man held out his hand to shake on their deal.

  Guerrero looked down at the hand. His cheek twitched once more. He looked decades older than his forty years. ‘Now you will go,’ he said.

  The old bronze woman hustled into the room again and knelt to replace the tall man’s shoes. He stood and walked to the door.

  In the courtyard, they had kept the engine running. The little girl had gone inside. The driver extinguished his cigarette and deposited the butt in a tin he drew from his pocket.

  The fat man opened the door to the Range Rover and dangled the hood from one hand, smiling. ‘There are too many bats around here,’ he said. ‘I suppose it is because there are so many insects.’


  Iraq Year Minus One

  The red plastic beads on the curtain rattled like finger bones in a cup.

  The man who stepped down into the coffee house had yellow hair. He wore sunglasses, as did almost every man in Baghdad, a city of thieves, killers, and merchants. Fine dust swirled from his shoes as he pushed them through a double brush set in the bricks. For a moment, he turned up his nose and frowned as if possessed by some noble doubt, and his temple and cheek were lit by a false hope of rubies. A hero, obviously—an Englishman perhaps—tall and slender and possibly strong, though that was difficult to judge beneath the baggy cut of his linen coat.

  Ibrahim Al-Hitti watched from the small round table and pulled in his polished black shoes, not wishing them to be trampled. There was little room in the basement, few tables and fewer customers. A one-eyed cousin of a cousin owned the establishment and had been persuaded it could be used on occasion as a place of personal business, not to be asked after. He would literally turn a blind eye to any activities. That plump and ill-dressed relative now stood behind the small black bar surrounded by a rising cloud of steam from an old espresso machine imported, so he boasted, from Italy. The steam frightened two horseflies seeking refuge from the outer heat. They buzzed and batted until settling on the plaster wall beside a small fogged mirror. The air in the basement café was humid and hot like the rest of Iraq this time of year, a climate fit for sordid talk and deeds.

  Al-Hitti had been born in Yemen but had spent most of his youth in Egypt and England. He had no love for Iraq and he did not like Iraqis in general. This part of town, near Firdos Square—allegedly cooled by breezes off the Tigris—was frequented by businessmen mostly and the secretaries and office workers of Shiite clerics. Businessmen he despised. Of clerics he held no opinions.

  Though a Muslim and a Sunni, Al-Hitti was of that pragmatic sect that had proliferated in the Middle East in the last century—a nonaligned brotherhood most interested in diverting the rivers of power. Religious passions had divided Muslims for too many centuries and only made them weak. What would bring them together and restore lost glory were the cool efforts of the mind, working to enact difficult, some would say sordid deeds.

  The tall man removed his sunglasses, unafraid to reveal his face. Al-Hitti saw immediately that he was American, not English—they were as different in step and behavior to his discerning eye as Ethiopians and Somalis. So this was the one whom he was scheduled to meet. It was an appointment he had not looked forward to. A disappointment.

  He enjoyed playing with English words.

  And he was even less happy now that he saw that the man he would have to kill was in fact a decent-looking fellow with strong features and even a respectable tan. That English word, tan, appeared in his head, surrounded by half-naked women. This irritated him.

  The American caught his eye and stepped forward, walking lightly around the tables to the rear of the shop. To Al-Hitti he offered his right hand and in low, mellow tones introduced himself. His name was John Brown. He was from Massachusetts—a silly, sneezing sort of name for a place. His Arabic was of the Cairo variety and surprisingly good.

  ‘You are just as I imagined you,’ Al-Hitti told the American, a lie. He had imagined instead a small, furtive man wearing loose clothing.

  ‘Is it so?’ the American said, and pulled back a flimsy wrought-iron chair to sit. They both measured out tiny smiles.

  The cousin arrived to take their orders. He pointedly ignored the American, turning his good eye from that part of the room. John Brown did not seem to mind.

  As Al-Hitti waited for a glass of thick sweet tea, he examined the American closely. Their silence drew out. His first impression had been one of quiet strength, a man who would appeal to women. But Al-Hitti’s deeper instincts made him less certain. There were telling lines in the American’s face and a determined sadness that reminded Al-Hitti of an old fighter—not a soldier, who could be casually cruel and blame others, but a mountain guerilla, used to working and living alone for months and having no one to blame but himself.

  John Brown’s appearance was made more striking by the fact that he had one blue eye and one green
eye. Al-Hitti had never seen such a thing.

  The American put his hand to his chest. ‘Before you decide whether or not to kill me…’ He reached swiftly into his coat pocket and pulled out a heat-sealed plastic packet full of beige powder.

  Al-Hitti reacted as if stung by one of the horseflies. He pushed back, eyes wide, and his chair banged into another chair. ‘What is this?’

  ‘A sample,’ the American answered.

  ‘Complete?’ Al-Hitti asked, his voice rising in pitch.

  The American raised his chin. ‘Not yet. Soon.’

  Al-Hitti refused to handle the package until he saw his courage was in question and that the American was rapidly losing confidence. It was probably fake, anyway. Anything else would be too much to hope for. He took it. The plastic was beaded with sweat from the American’s hands, but inside, the powder was miraculously fine and light, clinging and dry.

  A handful of a hundred thousand miseries.

  ‘Tell your scientists, or your graduate students at university, to examine it with great care,’ the American instructed. ‘It will behave like a gas, penetrating everywhere if not properly handled. They will tell you that it is pure and that it has been genetically modified, but it is not complete. Not yet. Try it on someone you wish dead. Let your subject breathe a few grains, or swallow it, or touch it to his skin. In time, examined in the dark, his lesions will glow green and then red. These inserted genes are proof that we can do what we say.’

  Al-Hitti could not help avoiding the tall American’s gaze. There was something about the blue eye that reminded him of the sky over a desert waste.

  Al-Hitti leaned forward. ‘What sort of proof is this, just a package of powder extracted from the soil of Texas, where a steer has died, perhaps? How can we believe the rest of your story?’ Al-Hitti held the package out between two fingers. ‘I hear this is easy to make. That is what I am told.’

  ‘Believe what fools say,’ the American said, ‘less the fools they.’ He brought forth a small knife, pulled open a blade, and laid it on the table between them. ‘Rub it on your skin like baby powder. Let’s breathe it together.’

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