Chapter no 20

Quantum Radio

In the small office, Ty listened as his mother, Richter, and Bishop worked the phones, coordinating the growing efforts to gather genomic data.

When his mother hung up, she walked over to him and whispered a phrase she’d often said when he was a child: “Penny for your thoughts.”

Helen seemed to immediately realize what she had said—the name of the woman he was likely thinking about and stressing over. “Actually, I’ll give you a quarter.” She shrugged. “Inflation.”

“Ha ha,” he muttered.

“You liked her, didn’t you?”

“I like her, Mom. Present tense.”

“It’ll work out, Ty. If it’s meant to be.” “Great. That makes me feel better.”

“Attitude, Ty,” she said, firm but encouraging. “What do we say about attitude?”

“Mom, I’m too old—” “Humor me.”

“Your attitude determines your altitude.” He exhaled. “It’s just… It’s been a long twenty-four hours.”

“You’re stressed.”

“That’s an understatement.”

“And from an evolutionary standpoint, what do we know helps?” “Kindness.”

“That’s right. Focus on kindness, Ty. And have faith.” “In what?”

“In the future. In the process we can’t see. That this will all work out—in time. Time heals all wounds.”

Richter wandered over then, seemingly oblivious to their conversation, lost in his own thoughts. “The universities are getting involved.”

The levity had left Helen’s voice when she spoke again. “What lie did you use?”

Richter crossed his arms. “The sample collection will be done under the auspices of a global cancer research initiative. We’re calling it Twenty-Four Hours to Cure Cancer.”


“A benign lie to a worthy end: saving lives.”

“Certainly your specialty, Gerhard. Clever lies for your causes.”

Ty held his hands up. “Stop. Both of you. Please.” He eyed his mother. “Kindness, remember.”

She smiled. “Touché. And you’re quite right, Ty.”

He considered adding a bit about time healing all wounds, but sensed that the moment wasn’t right, that whatever had happened between them, even time hadn’t yet healed.

To Richter, he said, “I want to see that article about Penny.”

Richter hesitated a moment, then reached into his pocket, drawing out the folded page and handing it to Ty. Without a word, he walked away, and so did Ty’s mother, leaving him alone to read the printout from Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung. The headline read:


Ty reeled as he read the first lines of the article:

The Heidelberg police have confirmed the identity of the twenty-eight-year-old woman killed in a late-night hit-and-run traffic accident as Penelope Howard Neumann…

It didn’t make any sense. It was Penny’s full name. And her age. And she was from Heidelberg. The incident had occurred about two months before she had come to Geneva.

Ty scanned the article, then flipped both pages over. He couldn’t believe it—it was wrong somehow.

And there was no picture.

He walked over to Richter. “It’s not Penny. There’s no photo. There has to be some mistake.”

Richter led Ty to the closest computer terminal and logged in— apparently, he had credentials on the DARPA network. He did an internet

search and pulled up another article about the death, one that featured a photo.

Of Penny.

It was, in fact, the woman Ty knew. The woman he had met in Geneva.

In the article, she had that same knowing smile and just a hint of sadness in her eyes, as though she had been hurt before.

He shook his head.

“It doesn’t make sense.” “No. It doesn’t.”

“Why would she fake her own death?”

Richter studied Ty’s face with what the younger man thought was sympathy. “I believe you’re asking the wrong question.”

Before Ty could try to find the right question, the door flew open and a tall marine barged in, addressing Bishop. “Sir, pardon the interruption, but we’ve got—” He stopped in mid-sentence when he realized Ty and the others were in the room.

“Speak freely,” Bishop said. “They’re cleared.”

“We have a hit on the genome matching, sir. One of the males.” “Who?”

“He’s a naval officer, sir. A SEAL. Lieutenant Kato Tanaka.” “Where is he now?”

The marine grimaced. “We’re not sure, sir.” “He’s not on active duty?”

“He is… but, we may have an issue, sir.”

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