(Note: This novel contains critical ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC
"plot spoilers,"so consider reading that book before plunging into this sequel.)
In less than two hours, Ranya was driving the dead warden's black pickup back toward the double-box of high chain link and razor wire, which surrounded the back gate leading away from the base. On their way to her house, the warden's ISA identification card had gotten them through the inner gate leading out of the D-Camp area into the rest of the old Army base. Ranya could only guess if that same ID card would be sufficient to allow her to pass entirely out of the base, and into the civilian world.
Her hair was dyed black and scissors-cut to resemble the warden's, as closely as Ranya had been able to manage in the bathroom mirror. A sun and moon, approximating the warden's tattoos, were inked in ballpoint on the sides of her neck. She wore the white blouse and black pants of the dead woman. To defeat the RFID implants in the back of her left shoulder, she had stripped the circular magnet from the speaker of a portable radio, and secured it in place with generous strips of duct tape. Another detainee had explained this trick to Ranya, but she had no way of knowing for sure if the big magnet would override the RFID microcircuits or not. Well, she would find out soon enough!
Ranya wore Linssen's gold-framed aviator's sunglasses and a black ball cap with the ISA patch on the front, to obscure her face. She hoped that the gate guards would not study her too closely, but would be basing their judgment on Linssen's familiar black vehicle with its ISA bumper and windshield decals, and her ISA uniform and ID card. If the warden's vehicle had any special RFIDs placed in it, Ranya could only hope that they would indicate that it was authorized to depart the base via this back gate. The vehicle gate was already outside of D-Camp, in another part of the old military base, and she hoped that it had less stringent requirements for permitting outward passage. In any event, Ranya had no way of knowing the overall scheme of the security protocols that were in effect.
In case it didn't work, if the guards became suspicious and stopped her for a close inspection, Ranya had the warden's Glock 19 pistol, loaded with sixteen 9mm hollow points. She had found it in the locked drawer of the warden's bedside night table, hidden in a hollowed-out Bible. Now the ugly black pistol lay on the seat beside her right thigh, concealed beneath a copy of "Homeland Security Today" magazine. No matter what happened next, Ranya was finished with D-Camp. She was finished with around-the-clock interrogations, and with months buried alive in solitary confinement, in an underground "supermax" cell. She was finished with troikas of unseen judges, who handed down sentences of "non-judicial detention" from behind face-blurring translucent screens.
She was not going back. Deputy Warden Starr Linssen lay beneath her own bed, wrapped in her shower curtain, strangled and drowned and dead. The pistol beside Ranya's hip had a round chambered, ready to fire in an instant.
Ranya slowed and made the right turn toward the vehicle gate, her heart hammering inside of her chest. The inner gate rolled back on grating steel rollers with a clank of chains and the whine of an electric motor, and she pulled the little truck inside the inspection zone. One of the two middle-aged guards on duty was sitting on a stool inside of his cement block guardhouse, and he unenthusiastically raised himself up to do his duty. She noted that the service pistol on his belt was hidden beneath the flap of a black nylon holster. It would be no match in speed for her Glock, if they both had to draw in a hurry. Shooting both guards and activating the outer gate from inside their guard house would be a last ditch desperation measure, but she would attempt it if they tried to stop her now.
She held the ISA card up against the side window a yard from another optical scanner on a steel post, the way she had seen Linssen do it, while keeping her eyes forward. It was obvious the truck was empty in the back, and held no passenger other than the authorized driver, the easily recognizable deputy warden of D-Camp. The guard took a step toward the truck, paused just two paces away, stopped for a moment...
And then he waved her forward with a casual flip of his hand.
The outer gate squealed open, and in a moment Ranya was through, bursting forth with immeasurable bounding joy. In seconds, she had the pickup truck going sixty miles an hour on the ruler-straight blacktop, heading south toward Interstate 40.
Ranya Bardiwell was out of D-Camp, but she was still far from free.
Alex Garabanda had tried to call Karin several times, but his cell phone had not been able to make a connection. Finally, when he had gotten through to her phone, she didn't pick up and he didn't want to leave a voice mail message. He knew she was using the caller ID to screen her calls, one of her favorite tactics in their ongoing psychological war. As much as he dreaded it, he needed to speak to his ex-wife personally, in real time. Leaving a voice mail would give her too many ways to play him, to blame him if Brian wasn't picked up from day care.
It was so ridiculous. It was beyond absurd, because she was working in the same Federal Building only thirty or so feet beneath him. Karin was three stories below the FBI Field Office, where he was one of the five Supervisory Special Agents. He could take the elevator down to the IRS offices and physically locate her, but he ruled that option out. Any such pursuit could and would be written up as "stalking" or "intimidation." It had been many weeks since he had entered the IRS offices where she worked as an admin assistant.
He left his little office and went out into the bullpen, to use a landline that she wouldn't recognize on her cell phone's caller ID. Finally, she picked up. "Hello?" She sounded pleasant enough, less than an hour from the close of business on Friday afternoon.
"Karin? It's me."
Several seconds went by without a response, dead air. He wondered if the connection had dropped, which happened frequently enough for it to be his first thought. When she did answer, the warmth in her voice had evaporated.
"What is it?"
"Something's come up. I can't pick up Brian from kindergarten." Their five-year-old son was in the day care center, on the first floor of the Albuquerque Federal Building.
"Well, sorry, I already have plans. You have to pick him up."
"Karin, I can't. Really. I have no choice; it's a meeting I can't get out of. Somebody's come down from Washington."
"From Washington? Should I be impressed? So deal with it, Al!"
"I can get Brian at home after six, maybe seven at the latest."
"Oh, no you won't! I've already made plans...I actually have a life! And you're certainly not picking him up after his bedtime. If you can't get him from daycare at five, then you'll just have to come by tomorrow morning and get him, at the house."
"Karin, I'm sorry, but--"
"That's right, you are sorry. I'll get Brian at five. You'll just have to get him tomorrow. Okay? Buh-bye, Al."
She had already disconnected.