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“What's that supposed to mean?” Nora asked.

“Probably means 'yes and no,' ”Travis said. “He likes some rock and roll. but not all of it.”

Einstein wagged his tail to confirm Travis's interpretation.

“Classical?” Nora asked.


Travis said, “So we've got a dog that's a snob, huh?”

Yes, yes, yes.

Nora laughed in delight, and so did Travis, and Einstein nuzzled and licked them happily.

Travis looked around for another picture, snatched up the one of the man on the exercise treadmill. “They wouldn't want to let you out of the lab, I guess. Yet they'd want to keep you fit. Is this how they exercised you? On a treadmill?”


The sense of discovery was exhilarating. Travis would have been no more thrilled, no more excited, no more awestricken if he had been communicating with an extraterrestrial intelligence.


I'm falling down a rabbit hole, Walt Gaines thought uneasily as he listened to Lem Johnson.

This new high-tech world of space flight, computers in the home, satellite-relayed telephone calls, factory robots, and now biological engineering seemed utterly unrelated to the world in which he was born and grew up. For God's sake, he had been a child during World War II, when there had not even been jet aircraft. He hailed from a simpler world of boatlike Chryslers with tail fins, phones with dials instead of push buttons, clocks with hands instead of digital display boards. Television did not exist when he was born, and the possibility of nuclear Armageddon within his own lifetime was something no one then could have predicted. He felt as though he had stepped through an invisible barrier from his world into another reality that was on a faster track. This new kingdom of high technology could be delightful or frightening- and occasionally both at the same time.

Like now.

The idea of an intelligent dog appealed to the child in him and made him want to smile.

But something else-The Outsider-had escaped from those labs, and it scared the bejesus out of him.

“The dog had no name,” Lem Johnson said. “That's not so unusual. Most scientists who work with lab animals never name them. If you've named an animal, you'll inevitably begin to attribute a personality to it, and then your relationship to it will change, and you'll no longer be as objective in your observations as you have to be. So the dog had only a number until it was clear this was the success Weatherby had been working so hard to achieve. Even then, when it was evident that the dog would not have to be destroyed as a failure, no name was given to it. Everyone simply called it 'the dog,' which was enough to differentiate it from all of Weatherby's other pups because they'd been referred to by numbers. Anyway, at the same time, Dr. Yarbeck was working on other, very different research under the Francis Project umbrella, and she, too, finally met with some success.”

Yarbeck's objective was to create an animal with dramatically increased intelligence-but one also designed to accompany men into war as police dogs accompanied cops in dangerous urban neighborhoods. Yarbeck sought to engineer a beast that was smart but also deadly, a terror on the battlefield- ferocious, stealthy, cunning, and intelligent enough to be effective in both jungle and urban warfare.

Not quite as intelligent as human beings, of course, not as smart as the dog that Weatherby was developing. It would be sheer madness to create a killing machine as intelligent as the people who would have to use and control it. Everyone had read Frankenstein or had seen one of the old Karloff movies, and no one underestimated the dangers inherent in Yarbeck's research.

Choosing to work with monkeys and apes because of their naturally high intelligence and because they already possessed humanlike hands, Yarbeck ultimately selected baboons as the base species for her dark acts of creation. Baboons were among the smartest of primates, good raw material. They were deadly and effective fighters by nature, with impressive claws and fangs, fiercely motivated by the territorial imperative, and eager to attack those whom they perceived as enemies.

“Yarbeck's first task in the physical alteration of the baboon was to make it larger, big enough to threaten a grown man,” Lem said. “She decided that it would have to stand at least five feet and weigh one hundred to a hundred and ten pounds.”

“That's not so big,” Walt protested.

“Big enough.”

“I could swat down a man that size.”

“A man, yes. But not this thing. It's solid muscle, no fat at all, and far quicker than a man. Stop and think of how a fifty-pound pit bull can make mincemeat of a grown man, and you'll realize what a threat Yarbeck's warrior Could be at a hundred and ten.”

The patrol car's steam-silvered windshield seemed like a movie screen on Which Walt saw projected images of brutally murdered men: Wes Dalberg,

Teel Porter . . . He closed his eyes but still saw cadavers. “Okay, yeah, I get your point. A hundred and ten pounds would be enough if we're talking about something designed to fight and kill.”

“So Yarbeck created a breed of baboons that would grow to greater size. Then she set to work altering the sperm and ova of her giant primates in other ways, sometimes by editing the baboon's own genetic material, sometimes by introducing genes from other species.”

Walt said, “The same sort of cross-species patch-and-stitch that led to the smart dog.”

“I wouldn't call it patch-and-stitch . . . but yeah, essentially the same techniques. Yarbeck wanted a large, vicious jaw on her warrior, something more like that of a German shepherd, even a jackal, so there would be room for more teeth, and she wanted the teeth to be larger and sharper and perhaps slightly hooked, which meant she had to enlarge the baboon's head and totally alter its facial structure to accommodate all of this. The skull had to be greatly enlarged, anyway, to allow for a bigger brain. Dr. Yarbeck wasn't working under the constraints that required Davis Weatherby to leave his dog's appearance unchanged. In fact, Yarbeck figured that if her creation was hideous, if it was alien, it would be an even more effective warrior because it would serve not only to stalk and kill our enemies but terrorize them.”

In spite of the warm, muggy air, Walt Gaines felt a coldness in his belly, as if he had swallowed big chunks of ice. “Didn't Yarbeck or anyone else consider the immorality of this, for Christ's sake? Didn't any of them ever read The Island of Doctor Moreau? Lem, you have a goddamn moral obligation to let the public know about this, to blow it wide open. And so do I.”

“No such thing,” Lem said. “The idea that there's good and evil knowledge . . . well, that's strictly a religious point of view. Actions can be either moral or immoral, yes, but knowledge can't be labeled that way. To a scientist, to any educated man or woman, all knowledge is morally neutral.”

“But, shit, application of the knowledge, in Yarbeck's case, wasn't morally neutral.”

Sitting on one or the other's patio on weekends, drinking Corona, dealing with the weighty problems of the world, they loved to talk about this sort of thing. Backyard philosophers. Beery sages taking smug pleasure in their wisdom. And sometimes the moral dilemmas they discussed on weekends were those that later arose in the course of their police work; however, Walt could not remember any discussion that had had as urgent a bearing on their work as this one.

“Applying knowledge is part of the process of learning more,” Lem said. “The scientist has to apply his discoveries to see where each application leads. Moral responsibility is on the shoulders of those who take the technology out of the lab and use it to immoral ends.”

“Do you believe that bullshit?”

Lem thought a moment. "Yeah, I guess I do. I guess, if we held scientists responsible for the bad things that flowed from their work, they'd never go

to work in the first place, and there'd be no progress at all. We'd still be living in caves."

Walt pulled a clean handkerchief from his pocket and blotted his face, giving himself a moment to think. It wasn't so much the heat and humidity that had gotten to him. It was the thought of Yarbeck's warrior roaming the Orange County hills that made him break out in a sweat.

He wanted to go public, warn the unwary world that something new and dangerous was loose upon the earth. But that would be playing into the hands of the new Luddites, who would use Yarbeck's warrior to generate public hysteria in an attempt to bring an end to all recombinant-DNA research. Already, such research had created strains of corn and wheat that could grow with less water and in poor soil, relieving world hunger, and years ago they had developed a man-made virus that, as a waste product, produced cheap insulin. If he took word of Yarbeck's monstrosity to the world, he might save a couple of lives in the short run, but he might be playing a role in denying the world the beneficial miracles of recombinant-DNA research, which would cost tens of thousands of lives in the long run.

“Shit,” Walt said. “It's not a black-and-white issue, is it?”

Lem said, “That's what makes life interesting.”

Walt smiled sourly. “Right now, it's a whole hell of a lot more interesting than I care for. Okay. I can see the wisdom of keeping a lid on this. Besides, if we made it public, you'd have a thousand half-assed adventurers out there looking for the thing, and they'd end up victims of it, or they'd gun down one another.”


“But my men could help keep the lid on by joining in the search.”

Lem told him about the hundred men from Marine Intelligence units who were still combing the foothills, dressed as civilians, using high-tech tracking gear and, in some cases, bloodhounds. “I've already got more men on line than you could supply. We're already doing as much as can be done. Now will you do the right thing? Will you stay out of it?”

Frowning, Walt said, “For now. But I want to be kept informed.”

Lem nodded. “All right.”

“And I have more questions. For one thing, why do they call it The Outsider?”

“Well, the dog was the first breakthrough, the first of the lab subjects to display unusual intelligence. This one was next. They were the only two successes: the dog and the other. At first, they added capital letters to the way they pronounced it, The Other, but in time it became The Outsider because that seemed to fit better. It was not an improvement on one of God's creations, as was the dog; it was entirely outside of creation, a thing apart. An abomination-though no one actually said as much. And the thing was aware of its status as an outsider, acutely aware.”

“Why not just call it the baboon?”

“Because . . . it doesn't really look much of anything like a baboon any more. Not like anything you've ever seen-except in a nightmare.”

Walt did not like the expression on his friend's dark face, in his eyes. He decided not to ask for a better description of The Outsider; perhaps that was something he did not need to know.

Instead, he said, “What about the Hudston, Weatherby, and Yarbeck murders? Who was behind all that?”

“We don't know the man who pulled the trigger, but we know the Soviets hired him. They also killed another Banodyne man who was on vacation in Acapulco.”

Walt felt as if he were jolting through one of those invisible barriers again, into an even more complicated world. “Soviets? Were we talking about the Soviets? How'd they get into the act?”

“We didn't think they knew about the Francis Project,” Lem said. “But they did. Apparently, they even had a mole inside Banodyne who reported out to them on our progress. When the dog and, subsequently, The Outsider escaped, the mole informed the Soviets, and evidently the Soviets decided to take advantage of the chaos and do us even more damage. They killed every project leader-Yarbeck and Weatherby and Haines-plus Hudston, who had once been a project leader but no longer worked at Banodyne. We think they did this for two reasons: first, to bring the Francis Project to a halt; second, to make it harder for us to track down The Outsider.”

“How would that make it harder?”

Lem slumped in his seat as if, in talking of the crisis, he was more clearly aware of the burden on his shoulders. “By eliminating Hudston, Haines, and especially Weatherby and Yarbeck, the Soviets cut us off from the people who would have the best idea how The Outsider and the dog think, the people best able to figure out where those animals might go and how they might be recaptured.”

“Have you actually pinned it on the Soviets?”

Lem sighed. "Not entirely. I'm focused primarily on recovering the dog and The Outsider, so we have another entire task force trying to track down the Soviet agents behind the murders, arson, and data hijacking. Unfortunately, the Soviets seem to have used freelance hitmen outside of their own network, so we have no idea where to look for the triggermen. That side of the investigation is pretty much stalled.

“And the fire at Banodyne a day or so later?” Walt asked.

“Definitely arson. Another Soviet action. It destroyed all the paper and electronic files on the Francis Project. There were backup computer disks at another location, of course . . . but data on them has somehow been erased.”

“The Soviets again?”

“We think so. The leaders of the Francis Project and all their files have been wiped out, leaving us in the dark when it comes to trying to figure how either the dog or The Outsider might think, where they might go, how they might be tricked into captivity.”

Walt shook his head. “Never thought I'd be on the side of the Russians, but putting a stop to this project seems like a good idea.”

“They're far from innocent. From what I hear, they've got a similar project under way at laboratories in the Ukraine. I wouldn't doubt we're working diligently to destroy their files and people the way they've destroyed ours. Anyway, the Soviets would like nothing better than for The Outsider to run wild in some nice peaceable suburb, gutting housewives and chewing the heads off little kids, because if that happens a couple of times . . . well, then the whole thing's going to blow up in our face.”

Chewing the heads off little kids? Jesus.

Walt shuddered and said, “Is that likely to happen?”

“We don't believe so. The Outsider is aggressive as hell-it was designed to be aggressive, after all-and it has a special hatred for its makers, which is something Yarbeck didn't count on and something she hoped to be able to correct in future generations. The Outsider takes great pleasure in slaughtering us. But it's also smart, and it knows that every killing gives us a new fix on its whereabouts. So it's not going to indulge its hatred too often. It's going to stay away from people most of the time, moving mainly at night. Once in a while, out of curiosity, it might poke into residential areas along the edge of the developed eastern flank of the county-”

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