Heimana hefted the delicate porcelain vase in one hand and with a smooth motion, smashed it against the wall. The violent sound of the vase's demise did nothing to assuage her wrath. All her carefully laid plans, ruined! The money she paid out for the mercenaries, the time she spent learning the operating system of that accursed machine, wasted! All because she let herself be seduced by that thrice-cursed Englishman! Because she listened to him about Hackenbacker and Barnes. She should have just picked up Hackenbacker alone and then killed him when she was through with him.

She raked her sharp nails across the wallpaper, slashing it to strips. How had she come under scrutiny? Obviously someone had talked. The Martins most likely. Before they were spirited away to that ranch in Australia. And taken the Campbell woman with them. She continued shredding and smashing her possessions in her fury.

After she fled those black-clad intruders, she hid in a nearby building to see what would happen. She watched as the men who had perpetrated so successful a raid brought Hackenbacker out and put him in the back seat of an outlandishly pink Rolls Royce. Hackenbacker was very pale; it looked as if he had lost large quantities of blood and would surely die from his wound. The woman in the commando team got in the car with him. Then a huge silver aircraft landed in front of the building. A strong, older man popped out of the craft and made his way over to the pink car. He looked inside the window, then a younger man, dressed in blue, joined him. There was something about the younger man's uniform that she knew she should recognize, but the mental connection did not yet surface. The older man shook hands with the two commandos, then motioned the younger man back to the silver ship. It rose into the air and flew away to the northeast. The three left behind entered the building and a scream that even she could hear from her hiding place rang out. Soon, one of the raiders came out and opened the boot of the black sedan, removing a large medikit and a folding backboard from it. He hurried back inside with these items.

The scene was quiet for a while, then Barnes was carried out to the dark sedan, strapped to the backboard, a stiff collar around her neck. Janis Campbell, obviously freed from the closet in which she had been imprisoned, came with the group and got in the sedan with Barnes. The Rolls departed with one of the commandos in the driver's seat. The other two men went back in and brought out a bound Sir James. By this time, the commotion had both been heard and reported to the local authorities, and they put in an appearance. After much animated discussion between the men who held Sir James and the constable who had arrived, Masters was escorted to the waiting police car and one of the black garbed ones got into the black sedan and drove it away. The older man was left alone in front of the demolished doors. He stood there as if waiting.

Within minutes, a large truck pulled up. The older man got in on the passenger side of the cab and the truck pulled around to the other end of the building. Heimana got up from her hiding place and found another close to the loading dock, where she knew the truck would go. A squad of men and women jumped out of the back of the truck. They followed the older man inside and started coming out with the components of the machine, the software disks, the recorded disks, everything. She was sure they were stripping the room as thoroughly as she herself had done in Abidjan.

Once the truck left, the dark sedan returned for the older man. Then there were only the sounds of the Thames as it made its way through London.

Heimana returned to the building to see if maybe, just possibly, something had been left behind. She stood in the room, looking everywhere for something, anything to compensate her for her losses. The cupboards were all bare, there were no notes, not a scrap of paper, not even the shards of a CD in the trash basket. Not a thing was to be found except for the wooden chair, the cut ropes, and the two bloodstains on the floor.

Now she wished she could rip apart the people who had done this to her. She seethed at how her perfect scheme had gone up in smoke. She kept smashing and shredding, spinning round and round the room until suddenly, powerful hands caught her wrists. She was forced to look at a hard face with thick eyebrows, eyes beneath them glowing with power. She struggled in his grip, wanting nothing more than to scratch those eyes out.

"You fool! You don't know what you had in your hands!" the man growled at her. She tossed her head, and spoke to him impertinently.

"You can stop trying to use your hypnotic powers on me. You know they won't work." The man's eyes ceased to glow, but he kept his hands firmly around her wrists.

"What do you mean, I didn't know what I had? I had a plan, a genius of a plan, a plan that would have made me rich beyond my wildest dreams. A plan that went south as soon as I started listening to that seductive, conniving son of a bitch, Masters," she hissed.

"No, child of a whore! You had the secrets of International Rescue in your fumbling hands and you let them slip through your clumsy fingers!" he shouted, incensed.

"International Rescue?" The connection she had not made between the blue-clad man and his silver craft now became crystal clear. She gasped. "Those intruders, those commandos, they were part of International Rescue?" she asked, unsure of the connections between the men in black and the man in blue.

"Yes! And the engineers, Hackenbacker and Barnes. They are part of that cursed band, too," he expounded as to a dolt. "The commandos were rescuing their own."

"And I scanned Hackenbacker's brain!" She now realized the true worth of her loss. She screamed in fury, writhing in the strong grip that still held her wrists, and with them, her nails, from movement.

He let go of one wrist and quickly struck her a blow across the face. As she looked on him, her anger redirected, she brought up the freed hand with its deadly weaponry to slice him. He caught the wrist again easily and held the arm down.

"Now, Heimana, my 'crown of power'. You will do as I say. Our forces joined, we can have our revenge on International Rescue. We can destroy them and scatter their ashes to the four winds. Them and anyone else foolish enough to get in our way." His voice had dropped to a conspiratory level, rich with power and promise. She looked at him doubtfully, then nodded, a cold smile crossing her face.

"Perhaps. Perhaps we can bring down our enemies together.....Father."

The Hood smiled a smile of pure evil. He now had the perfect ally: his daughter.