Chapter 27: Lay Your Cards Out

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Turtle looked to Mr. Goode, then down at the stun gun. It lay in his hand like a sleeping snake, not pointed at them but hanging, lazily, like Mr. Goode forgot it was even there.

The other man, a blonde with a scruff of a beard, had been wearing a mask when he saw him in the subway, but Turtle remembered his dark, scuffed boots.

"This is my associate from the military—or formerly in the military. Mr. Adams, let me introduce you to Agata Llorente and Paul Fulton."

"A pleasure," said Mr. Adams with a rich, slow British accent. "I'm Martin. Martin Adams. And, incidentally, we didn't mean to fire at you, dearie," said Mr. Adams. "Trigger slipped."

Mr. Goode grinned. "I assure you, dear lady, we mean no harm unless, of course, there is a problem. I'm not the threatening type, Agata, but, as your father knows, we have been looking long and hard for the things he possesses, and so we're going to do what we need to do. Is that understood?"

Agata looked at him impassively.

"All's fair in love and war, and I understand your reticence to work with us. But work with us you will. This is the plan," said Mr. Goode. "You're going to go with this man here, once his associate arrives. They will take you to your mother, Agata. They'll take Paul here as well. You'll stay where I put you for a few days until I find the second half of the Conductor's Key, and if all goes according to plan

with no rash moves, we'll let you go. We'll tell your grandmother where you are, of course. We'll tell the truth but tell it slant, as they say. No use in alarming her about the Mytro and Barcelona. She'll think you're being kept against your will. How does that sound?"

"My father trusted you!" exclaimed Agata. Turtle grabbed her hand and she squeezed it tightly. "He told me I could trust you, Mr. Kincaid."

"You can just let us go. Tell us where Agata's mom is and let us go," said Turtle.

"I would, but you two know the Mytro too well, and I'd worry that you'd be able to point in our direction people we don't want interrupting. We'll take your map, to be certain, but I'd rather have a few unencumbered days to work."

Turtle ran through the situation in his head, the same way he ran the cipher. It was convoluted but clear: whatever the Mytro had done, it had put Turtle into Agata's path and, unfortunately, into Mr. Kincaid's. But how did Mr. Kincaid know who had found Agata?

Turtle could have kicked himself for being so stupid. He had been wearing his Manhattan Friends gym T-shirt when he opened the door for Agata back in the park. The men must have seen him, and Mr. Kincaid would trace it back to Nick and Nate. One quick call and Mr. Kincaid knew everything he needed to know.

"Where is her father?" asked Turtle.

"Her father is a special case. Even we don't know where he is. I assure you he isn't in our custody," said Mr. Goode.

Mr. Kincaid walked over to the door propped against the wall of her father's study. Mr. Adams reached into his pocket and pulled out two white pieces of plastic, about as wide as pipe cleaners but twice as long.

"Now, if you'd be so kind as to hold out your hands for Mr. Adams, he'll put you in cuffs and we can get you to your mother." "Not too tight, Martin," said Mr. Kincaid, but Mr. Adams pulled

the cuffs taut on Turtle's wrists, the white plastic cutting into his skin. Then he zipped them over Agata's. She winced but said nothing. When she moved, he noticed the leather cord hanging around Agata's neck.

Turtle's mind raced: Agata still had the other part of the

Conductor's Key. Mr. Goode didn't know she had it. He thought it was still in Prague. Mr. Adams gave the cuffs another tug.

"Stop that, not so tight," yelled Turtle.

"Sadly I can't loosen them once they're on. We'll cut them off soon enough. If you would lead the way, Paul," said Mr. Goode. "But if you would, do me one final kindness, Mr. Kincaid. Could you take possession of what we've been looking for?"

Mr. Kincaid reached out toward Agata's neck. He pulled back her shirt collar to reveal the leather cord holding the other half of the Conductor's Key. He reached out to the office desk littered with papers and books and plucked a pair of scissors from the mess. Then, with a quick snip, the key was his.

"You knew?" asked Agata.

"I did know and I was quite disappointed when you didn't tell me in the restaurant. Much of this could have been avoided if you had never left Brooklyn, Turtle. You could have both been home. Instead, we have this sorry state of affairs."

"Quite sorry," said Mr. Goode.

"Friends, our train has arrived." Mr. Goode opened the portable station with a flourish just as the next train roared into view. The three men—Mr. Adams with his gun drawn, Mr. Goode with his stun gun lying idle at his side, and the timid Mr. Kincaid—stepped over the threshold into the small space. Mr. Kincaid helped the children through the door, righting them as they fell forward slightly. The Mytro train doors opened. Agata screamed.

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