"Captain?" Lieutenant Collet loped toward them from the direction of the command post. "Captain,I just heard. They located Agent Neveu's car.""Did she make the embassy?""No. Train station. Bought two tickets. Train just left."Fache waved off warden Grouard and led Collet to a nearby alcove, addressing him in hushedtones. "What was the destination?""Lyon.""Probably a decoy." Fache exhaled, formulating a plan. "Okay, alert the next station, have the trainstopped and searched, just in case. Leave her car where it is and put plainclothes on watch in casethey try to come back to it. Send men to search the streets around the station in case they fled onfoot. Are buses running from the station?""Not at this hour, sir. Only the taxi queue.""Good. Question the drivers. See if they saw anything. Then contact the taxi company dispatcherwith descriptions. I'm calling Interpol."Collet looked surprised. "You're putting this on the wire?"Fache regretted the potential embarrassment, but he saw no other choice.
Close the net fast, and close it tight.
The first hour was critical. Fugitives were predictable the first hour after escape. They alwaysneeded the same thing. Travel. Lodging. Cash. The Holy Trinity. Interpol had the power to makeall three disappear in the blink of an eye. By broadcast-faxing photos of Langdon and Sophie toParis travel authorities, hotels, and banks, Interpol would leave no options—no way to leave thecity, no place to hide, and no way to withdraw cash without being recognized. Usually, fugitivespanicked on the street and did something stupid. Stole a car. Robbed a store. Used a bank card indesperation. Whatever mistake they committed, they quickly made their whereabouts known tolocal authorities.
"Only Langdon, right?" Collet said. "You're not flagging Sophie Neveu. She's our own agent.""Of course I'm flagging her!" Fache snapped. "What good is flagging Langdon if she can do all hisdirty work? I plan to run Neveu's employment file—friends, family, personal contacts—anyone shemight turn to for help. I don't know what she thinks she's doing out there, but it's going to cost herone hell of a lot more than her job!""Do you want me on the phones or in the field?""Field. Get over to the train station and coordinate the team. You've got the reins, but don't make amove without talking to me.""Yes, sir." Collet ran out.
Fache felt rigid as he stood in the alcove. Outside the window, the glass pyramid shone, itsreflection rippling in the windswept pools. They slipped through my fingers. He told himself torelax.
Even a trained field agent would be lucky to withstand the pressure that Interpol was about toapply.
A female cryptologist and a schoolteacher?
They wouldn't last till dawn.