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It's still a long way up the corridor from Fargo's office back to the elevator, but that just gives them time to discuss.

"We need to arrange for transport trucks and establish evacuation routes," Carter muses.

Allison nods. "Make emergency contingencies for every location that could be hit."

The two of them are leading the group, walking quickly ahead of Stark and Henry, while Fargo trails along behind the rest.

It's Carter's turn to nod. "Yeah, area hospitals should be prepped for emergency overflow."

"And we'll need to estimate collateral damage in and around the target perimeter," Allison reminds him.

Noticing that his jacket cuff is out of line, Stark adjusts it in silence. The movement draws Carter's notice, and he snaps over his shoulder,

"You can hear us, right?"

"Unfortunately." Stark spares a moment of his attention from his sleeve to glance up at the other man. "You're panicking."

Carter stares at him in disbelief. "We're not panicking, we're reacting! You say 'death ray,' we have a reaction."

"You said death ray," Stark corrects, blandly.

"It's a ray, right? That causes immediate death?"

Stark sighs. "Yes. It could cause immediate death. It could simply blow up, and people here would immediately die. It could strike Moscow, and people there would immediately die. Then Moscow would retaliate, and people everywhere would immediately die."

A dismal silence fills the hallway while everyone considers this.

"Evacuation's moot," Stark concludes, matter-of-factly. "No place is safe."

Carter glares at him. "Well, you chose a great time to be indifferent."

For the first time in the last several hours, real irritation shows clearly on Nathan Stark's features.

"I'm not indifferent, Sheriff; I'm focused." A beat. "We have twenty-four hours, and we happen to be in the most advanced scientific facility in the world, housing the largest supercomputer in the world, fabricated by the smartest scientists in the world. We've got plenty of time to figure this out, as long as we don't panic."

This is evidently news to Fargo, who bursts out, "But we've downloaded, scanned and decrypted every file, every schematic and every piece of paper of every project ever developed here, and there's nothing!"

Whatever Stark was about to reply is overridden by Henry, who realizes, "Well, maybe not every piece of paper...."


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Nathan Stark

March 2010

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