discoveries in this area of research.”
“And because they knew eventually they’d get the chance to implant the chip without him ever knowing about it,” Emma mutters.
Ryan shrugs. “The project falls under the auspices of PRISM, and therefore unwarranted surveillance of those working on NSA projects is a matter of national security. In this case, it turns out embedding a GPS chip was a good thing, since it may save millions of lives. One scenario is that he’ll use the island’s guests as guinea pigs to test the plague vaccine’s effectiveness. An even worse scenario is that he’s meeting with a few interested parties—an enemy nation, say, or a terrorist organization—and selling it to the highest bidder.”
“Do we know for a fact that he wasn’t kidnapped, along with the samples?” Jack asks.
“That very well could be the case. But unfortunately for Dr. Mandrake, a crucial four hours of video footage covering the time of his disappearance has been obliterated, from both his office and condo security feeds. Also gone is his NSA photo file and ID info. All we’ve got to go on is one photo of him, snapped by a colleague at the department’s annual Christmas party.”
The photo appears on the screen. Everyone scrutinizes it silently, but it’s too fuzzy to make out the sort of details we’ll need to validate a suspect. “I know it’s slim pickings,” Ryan opines. “Even so, our facial recognition software has picked up a few features that can help our ID process. Jack, as for your question, the bottom line is that we don’t know if the disappearance of Mandrake’s file was a kidnapper’s doing, or Mandrake’s. But after the Snowden and Grodin debacles, the NSA is taking no chances that Mandrake might indeed be a traitor. Our orders are to shoot first and ask questions later.”
Emma frowns. “At the same time, we have no idea what the good doctor looks like?”
“All we know is that he’s single and in his late forties, around five-feet eleven inches, with dark hair,” Ryan answers. “He’s a loner, has no family to speak of, and he has pretty much kept to himself. His hobbies are hunting and math games.”
“Other than the logical choices of the Hunt Club and Eden Key, it doesn’t give us much at all to go on,” Dominic and I say in unison. Instinctively I glance over at him. His sly smile makes me blush.
And yes, Jack notices this, which is why he’s now frowning.
Ryan’s expression warns us that all eyes should be focused on him. “He does have one distinguishing mark,” he continues, “a tattoo of a mushroom cloud, at the base of his spine.”
“I say, Ryan, are we to blithely ask the other guests to drop trou without so much as a promise of a dirty weekend?” Dominic chuckles as he asks the question, but he also seems intrigued by the thought.
Ryan’s eyes narrow at the inference. “Prime suspects with cause for examination will be routed to the mission’s honey pot.”
Meaning moi .
Oh boy, seems I’ve got my work cut out for me. From what the manifest shows, between guests and staff, there are at least hundred and sixty men on the island.
Time to change the subject, which I do without looking up from the note I’m writing to myself. ( Lose eight pounds by tomorrow: Fantasy? Sexy muumuu: oxymoron? ) “I take it we’ve at least pinpointed his location to the island, thanks to the GPS tracker?”
“Yes, but he’s apparently roaming all over the place—something which also merits suspicion. And sometimes the GPS signal disappears completely. All the more reason we have to bring him—and the plague samples—back to the NSA as soon as possible.” Ryan circles the room. “Acme has secured six seats on Fantasy Island’s weekly private charter jet, which leaves three times a day, from Orange County Airport. Each plane is met by the island’s Director of Resorts, Mr. Boarke—” The photo on the monitor has changed. It now shows an elegant
Norah Wilson, Heather Doherty