Часть Первая. Солнце
Закрепив последние канаты и убедившись, что начинающийся шторм шатёр не сорвёт, мужчины угрюмо уселись перед входом. Кусок изодранной овечьей шкуры, прикрывавший выдолбленную бадью, в которую женщины опорожняли по утрам вёдра с овсом для лошадей, полоскал под ударами ледяного ветра, разбрасывая зёрна по двору, но отец не замечал ни ветра, ни разлетавшихся зёрен
The three men sat in silence inside their ThermaTech storm tent. Outside, an icy wind buffeted the shelter, threatening to tear it from its moorings. None of the men took notice; each had seen situations far more threatening than this one.
Their tent was stark white, pitched in a shallow depression, out of sight. Their communication devices, transport, and weapons were all state-of-the-art. The group leader was code-named Delta-One. He was muscular and lithe with eyes as desolate as the topography on which he was stationed.
The military chronograph on Delta-One’s wrist emitted a sharp beep. The sound coincided in perfect unison with beeps emitted from the chronographs worn by the other two men.
Another thirty minutes had passed.
It was time. Again.
Reflexively, Delta-One left his two partners and stepped outside into the darkness and pounding wind. He scanned the moonlit horizon with infrared binoculars. As always, he focused on the structure. It was a thousand meters away—an enormous and unlikely edifice rising from the barren terrain. He and his team had been watching it for ten days now, since its construction. Delta-One had no doubt that the information inside would change the world. Lives already had been lost to protect it.
At the moment, everything looked quiet outside the structure.
The true test, however, was what was happening inside.
Delta-One reentered the tent and addressed his two fellow soldiers. “Time for a flyby.”
Both men nodded. The taller of them, Delta-Two, opened a laptop computer and turned it on. Positioning himself in front of the screen, Delta-Two placed his hand on a mechanical joystick and gave it a short jerk. A thousand meters away, hidden deep within the building, a surveillance robot the size of a mosquito received his transmission and sprang to life.