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Chapter One

He felt the phone vibrate just as the MARC train pulled away from the Silver Springs station. The Maryland Area Regional Commuter train was running late again. Normally, Dylan would have already been at his office. Pulling the over-sized cell phone out of its special holster on his belt, he looked into the camera with his right eye for the split-second it took for the iris scan to unlock the case. The case was hinged on its long axis like a book. Once open, two separate screens covered each half of the inside of the case. Actually, each half contained its own complete phone. On the left, his private cell phone screen was blank. The screen on the right, which was the company phone, contained a high resolution satellite video image of a blast crater where some kind of industrial plant used to be. Pipes and tanks were still intact outside the perimeter of the blast site, with some of those pipes ending in a tangled mess at the crater. Beyond that, the remains of a building, pieces of pipe and other equipment covered a wide area. Smoke was rising from growing spot fires in the sagebrush surrounding the site.

“This is a NatGas compressor station near Rangely, Colorado,” a voice said in Dylan’s ear. The woman’s voice coming through the earbuds sounded just like a real person, not the machine voice of an AI computer that he knew it was. “The explosion occurred at zero-six-thirteen local time.”

Dylan glanced at the current time. Just over half an hour ago. He wondered why there weren’t any fire trucks on scene, and right on cue, the flashing red and blue lights of emergency vehicles came into view on the two-lane highway at the edge of the screen. Shouldn’t take long to put out the fires, he thought. I just hope they don’t screw up the evidence. As far as Dylan was concerned, that’s what most local yokels were good at; screwing up evidence before he could get there.

“The cause of the blast is unknown,” the AI voice said through the nearly invisible buds in his ears. The tiny earbuds would appear to a casual observer to be nothing more than hearing aids, though one might wonder why someone as young as Dylan would need them.

There was a lot about Dylan Anderson that a casual observer would never notice, like the special issue Glock that was always in the shoulder holster under his left armpit. He wore casual business attire just like most of the businessmen and women who rode the MARC train into DC every morning, but most of his fellow travelers didn’t have pistols hiding under their jackets.

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