Altar of Eden
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Baghdad falls . . . and armed men are seen looting the city zoo. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground lab is ransacked--and something horrific is set loose upon the world.
Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk investigates an abandoned shipwrecked fishing trawler carrying exotic caged animals, part of a black market smuggling ring. But there is something disturbingly wrong with these beasts--each an unsettling mutation of the natural order, all sharing one uncanny trait: incredibly heightened intelligence.
Joining forces with U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard--a man who shares with her a dark and bloody past--Lorna sets out to uncover the truth about this strange cargo and the terrorist threat it poses. Because a beast escaped the shipwreck and is running amok--and what is about to be born upon the altar of Eden could threaten not only the future of the world but the very foundation of what it means to be human.
chased around the island in a descending spiral, adding to the hellish maelstrom. The firestorm continued to blast its way toward the beach. A tower of black smoke climbed into the sky. Jack smelled the distinct odor of napalm. They’re torching the place. Mack shoved next to him. He had to yell to be heard above the continuing detonations. “What now?” Bruce took matters into his own hands. It was death to remain in the forest. The only escape lay across the land bridge. The man dove out onto
half closed, T-Bob listened to the bayou. He didn’t need fancy goggles to hunt like the two Border Patrol agents who shared his canoe. He smelled their aftershave, the starch in their clothes. He had no use for the pair. T-Bob had been born in the bayou—literally birthed in a canoe like this one. He had hunted these parts since he could first walk. The bayou was as much kin to him as his own brother. As they headed through the swamp, he listened to the forest around him. Night in the bayou was
a few to bleeding again. No one had bothered to clean them. She sighed. “There’s a full bath with a shower off the sleeping porch in back. I want you to take hot water and soap to any and every wound from that cub.” “We don’t have time—” “Doctor’s orders.” She stood up. “There are clean towels in there. I’ll get you a fresh shirt. My brother’s about your size.” He looked ready to argue, but she pointed her arm. “Go. I’ll make a fresh batch of coffee and warm some leftover beignets.” That
it’s one of the reasons why I called for you. I needed an expert on genetics and breeding. Someone to tell me who could have produced this bizarre cargo.” He led her through the hold. A wire cage held a mass of winged bats the size of footballs. “Vampire bats,” Lorna said. “But they’re ten times the size they should be. May be a form of primordial gigantism.” Similarly a caged fox down the row was the size of a bear cub. It hissed and growled and threw itself against the bars. They quickly
watched the forest. As he strained all his senses, his headache flared and his vision tunneled. For a moment a strange static filled his skull, as if his body were a radio tuner straining for a signal. Then a cracking of branches exploded to the right. For some reason he knew to glance up. A shadow passed overhead and fell heavily down toward Jack and his men. They had to scatter out of the way. It struck the ground in the center of their group. Blood splattered in all directions. Jack stared,