Dr. Nicholas Ozark ducked down behind a partition as one of Steele's goons clumped his way down the aisle. If it had been daytime, Ozark knew, the guard would have had no trouble spottting him; but Steele kept the converted jetliner in near darkness at night. Probably force of habit, Ozark thought, from the days when Steele had been an ordinary airline pilot, and The Pinnacle had been an ordinary 747.
As he slowly stood up and resumed moving up the aisle, Ozark could feel the packing tape tug on the skin of his back. It might not have been the most elegant solution to the problem of smuggling the Israeli scientist's formula to the world, but it was the best he and Hattie had been able to contrive.
Ozark felt rather than heard the clumping footsteps of the guard returning up the aisle, and he slipped behind a steel cabinet. When the guard was gone, Ozark followed him towards the front of the plane. In moments, he reached the partition that had once separated the business class passengers from first class. He ducked beneath a counter, and waited while the guard passed by on his way back to the tail section.
Springing up, Ozark hurried up to the hatch just aft of the pilot's cabin. The parachute, he was relieved to see, was still hidden beneath the drink trolley, yet another relic of The Pinnacle's days as a passenger jetliner. He had just shrugged himself into the harness and was turning to face the hatch, when the lights came up in a sudden luminous explosion.
"Turn around slowly," a familiar voice ordered, as pain stabbed into Ozark's eyes. "And keep your hands where I can see them."
Turning, Ozark could make out through streaming tears the tall figure in his stylized black pilot's uniform. Each hand, he saw, held a machine pistol.
"So, Doctor Ozark," said Rayford Steele, "we meet again."
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