In his office, Quarry was writing an email to the investors.

To: Etienne amp; Clarisse Mussard, Elmira Gulzhan amp; Francois de Gombart-Tonnelle, Ezra Klein, Bill Easterbrook, Amschel Herxheimer, Iain Mould, Mieczyslaw Lukasinski, Liwei Xu, Qi Zhang

From: Hugo Quarry

Subject: Alex

My dear friends, by the time you read this you will probably have begun to hear the tragic story of what happened to Alex Hoffmann yesterday. I will call you all individually later today to discuss the situation. For now I just wanted you to know that he is receiving the very finest medical care, and that our prayers are with both him and Gabrielle at this difficult moment. Of course it is too early to talk of the future of the company he founded, but I did want to reassure you that he has left systems in place which mean that your investments will not only continue to prosper, but will, I am confident, go from strength to strength. I will explain in more detail when I speak with you.

The quants had taken a vote on the trading floor and agreed to keep what had happened confidential. In return, each would receive an immediate cash bonus of $5 million. There would be further payments in the future, on a scale to be agreed, dependent on VIXAL’s performance. No one had dissented: he supposed for one thing they had all seen what had happened to Rajamani.

There was a knock at the door. Quarry shouted, ‘Come!’ It was Genoud.

‘Hello, Maurice, what do you want?’

‘I’ve come to take out those cameras, if that’s all right with you.’

Quarry considered VIXAL. He pictured it as a kind of glowing celestial digital cloud, occasionally swarming to earth. It might be anywhere – in some sweltering, potholed industrial zone stinking of aviation fuel and resounding to the throb of cicadas beside an international airport in South-East Asia or Latin America; or in a cool and leafy business park in the soft, clear rain of New England or the Rhineland; or occupying a rarely visited and darkened floor of a brand-new office block in the City of London or Mumbai or Sao Paulo; or even roosting undetected on a hundred thousand home computers. It was all around us, he thought, in the very air we breathed. He looked up at the hidden camera and gave the slightest bow of obeisance.

‘Leave them,’ he said.

Gabrielle was back where her day had begun, sitting in the University Hospital, only this time she was beside her husband’s bed. He had been put into his own room at the end of a darkened ward on the third floor. There were bars on the windows and gendarmes outside, a man and a woman. It was hard to see Alex under all the bandaging and tubing. He had been unconscious since he hit the ground. They told her he had multiple fractures and second- degree burns; they had just brought him out of emergency surgery and connected him to a drip and a monitor; he was intubated. The surgeon declined to offer a prognosis: he said only that the next twenty-four hours would be critical. Four rows of glowing emerald-green lines processed hypnotically across the screen in gentle peaks and troughs. It reminded her of their honeymoon, watching the Pacific breakers forming far out at sea and following their progress all the way in to land.

Alex cried out in his sedated sleep. He seemed terribly agitated by something. She touched his bandaged hand and wondered what was passing through that powerful mind. ‘It’s all right, darling. Everything’s going to be all right now.’ She laid her head on the pillow next to his. She felt strangely content, despite everything, to have him beside her at last. Beyond the barred window a church clock was striking midnight. Softly she began singing to him a baby’s lullaby.

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