The cold mountain water tore Kathy’s breath from her body as she plunged beneath its surface. Her concentration was shattered away as the cold saturated her body, chilling it to the bone. It was sheer instinct that made her begin swimming upward as soon as she hit the water. After what seemed forever she stopped descending and finally began to rise toward the surface. Somewhere in her brain concern about the gunmen flashed amidst the paralyzing cold . They could begin firing into the water, shooting fish in a barrel— pun intended. But even if they waited until the pair surfaced to open fire the danger remained.
She and John were vulnerable and helpless. Kathy would have wished for a gun right but even that thought would have just been wasted the precious seconds she had left. About ten feet away John was watching her and their eyes met as they neared the surface of the water and prepared to meet their Maker. Kathy’s father went to sea, often in a submarine, and that fostered a deeply religious attitude in her childhood home. Her job with The Company had deepened it in since she knew just how fast death could come.
But it wasn’t just the thought of dying that filled her with sorrow as the surface came closer. Instead Kathy Bennett wished she’d had more time to get to know John Parker. She only hoped that he was as ready for this as she was. But the prayer she sent up was one of thanks for having met him. He was the reason she could leave world not completely bitter and angry at Greg. Even though anything between John and she would end here at least she knew there were good men in this world. Then they breached the surface.
A black helicopter was directly above them, filling the air with the roar of its motors and rotors. It hovered just above the road, a machine gun pointed out its left door toward the parking lot and the gunmen. From where she was treading water Kathy could see intermittent muzzle flashes and somehow hear staccato gunfire over the engines.
A figure in a black wetsuit stepped out of the chopper’s right door into midair and rappelled down to them. He grabbed John, fastening the journalist to himself with a harness then the two rose into the air. A second black clad figure passed them on the way down to Kathy and seconds later she too was on her way up.
Then they were in the chopper with the crew wrapping blankets around them as Kathy looked out at the road. Now she could see the door gunner was firing his bursts over the heads of their attackers. But the attackers had gotten the message and as Kathy watched one of the cars came to life, backing out and racing toward town. But the helicopter was on the move, too. With the doors closed and it dropped to the water level and headed down the valley in the same direction as the Westerners got their bearings.
There were three crewmembers–including the divers— in the helicopter cabin with them. Dressed in black jumpsuits with facemasks and goggles covering their faces. On the way back toward Xian they produced garment bags with identical outfits to what Kathy and John were wearing. The two used the blankets as cover to change their outer garments, socks and shoes then the crew offered them thermoses of hot tea as their wet clothes were stuffed in garbage bags.
By now the helicopter was landing in a roadway far down the valley from the dam. The door opened and two Chinese agents in black suits and sunglasses helped them out onto the pavement. As they were escorted to one of three black Acuras the black helicopter lifted off and was gone in seconds. John and Kathy got in the back of the middle car and the doors were closed.
Then all three cars did burnouts and took off toward Xian. In the back seat of the middle car John looked at Kathy who shrugged. She had no clue what was going on but she was sure this wasn’t a CIA op. Back in Xian the drivers wove through Chinese traffic like psychics until they reach the train station. Racing through a service entrance they stopped at a loading dock where a Chinese man and woman stood there, both in black suits and wearing Ray Ban sunglasses.
They opened the doors and the pair were hustled out of sight as the cars raced away. The two Americans were escorted along the platform to the service entrance of a train like the one they had just gotten off of. They were taken to a compartment marked Out Of Service. The woman unlocked the compartment, the two entered and the door closed behind them.