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Mount Dragon



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—Stuart Woods, author of Choke

“A delightfully gruesome yarn and an apt mirror of our love-hate relationship with science.”

Business Week

Mount Dragon: an enigmatic research complex hidden in the vast desert of New Mexico. Guy Carson and Susana Cabeza de Vaca have come to Mount Dragon to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest scientific minds on the planet. Led by visionary genius Brent Scopes, their secret goal is a medical breakthrough that promises to bring incalculable benefits to the human race. But while Scopes believes he is leading the way to a new world order, he may in fact be opening the door to mass human extinction. And when Guy and Susana attempt to stop him they find themselves locked in a frightening battle with Scopes, his henchmen, and the apocalyptic nightmare that science has unleashed. ...

“The writing team that scared the willies out of readers with The Relic returns with a second, equally gripping novel of techno-terror. ... It’s a grand and scary story, with just enough grisly detail to stimulate real-life fears and characters full enough to engage the attention.”

Publishers Weekly

“Dynamic duo Preston and Child once again demonstrate their mastery of the genre. ... The thrillfest runs full force to the very last page.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Read this and you’ll be panting for Preston and Child’s next yarn.”


The most dangerous place on Earth. ... “A slam-hang medical thriller, swift, gruesome, and wickedly clever.”

—Richard Preston. New York Times

best-selling author of The Hot Zone

“The Hot Zone meets The Stand. ... Explosive.”

Jack Anderson. Pulitzer Prize- winning columnist

“When you finish this book you’ll want to storm a genetic engineering firm and destroy their projects. ... Mount Dragon is a powerful, fast-paced story, with a cast of interesting characters. ... It will probably be made into a motion picture in no time.”

San Francisco Examiner

“Like a fictionalized rock-’em, sock-’em version of Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone.”

Library Journal

“A chilling, fabulous trip through cyberspace, flight and survival on the searing desert, high-tech wonders that defy belief—all these elements and more combine for an evening’s worth of heart-stopping excitement. A year ago, it seemed difficult, if not impossible, for these two guys to top their first novel. After I finished flipping the pages of this one and my near cardiac arrest had been averted, one clear impression lingered. Brother, was I mistaken.”

The Tampa Tribune-Times


“First rate entertainment. ... Imagine a Michael Crichton-style thriller with immensely more detail paid to the level of writing. ... And yes, Preston and Child weave in plenty of soberly provocative discussion of the ethics of screwing around with human genetics. ... First class storytellers and stimulating entertainers.”


The Relic is a straight thriller. That’s like saying, however, that Die Hard was just another action adventure flick or that Gone With the Wind was just another Civil War film. Each stands as a superlative example of its type.”

Orlando Sentinel on The Relic

“Better than anything the theoretically recombinant team of Michael Crichton and Peter Benchley could ever hope to achieve.”

Albuquerque Journal on The Relic

The Relic satisfies the primal desire to be scared out of one’s wits. ... The ending is a real bone-chilling shocker.”

Express Books on The Relic

Forge Books by

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child


Mount Dragon


Douglas Preston

& Lincoln Child

Copyright © 1996 by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

To Jerome Preston, Senior

—D. P.

To Luchie; my parents; and Nina Soller

—L C.


First, we want to thank our agents, Harvey Klinger and CAA’s Matthew Snyder. Gentlemen, we lift our tumblers of single-malt Highland scotch in your honors: this project would never have been started were it not for the help and encouragement you’ve given us.

We’d also like to thank the following people at Tor/Forge: Tom Doherty, whose vision and support have remained equally unflagging; Bob Gleason, for believing in us from the beginning; Linda Quinton, for her refreshingly candid marketing advice; and Natalia Aponte, Karen Lovell, and Stephen de las Heras, for their sundry acts of authorial succor.

From a technical aspect, we wish to thank Lee Suckno, M.D.; Bry Benjamin, M.D.; Frank Calabrese, Ph.D.; and Tom Benjamin, M.D.

Lincoln Child would like to thank Denis Kelly: pal, erstwhile boss, long-suffering sounding board. Thanks to Juliette, soul of patience and understanding. Thanks also to Chris England for his explication of certain arcane slang. Wotcher, Chris!

A pre-war Gibson Granada, along with a generous fistful of chocolate-chip cookies, to Tony Trischka: banjo deity, confidante, and all-around “good hang.”

Douglas Preston would like to thank his wife, Christine, who crossed the Jornada del Muerto desert with him no less than four times, as well as Selene, who was helpful in so many ways. Aletheia was a great sport, camping in the Jornada with us when she was only three weeks old. Thanks to my brother Dick, author of The Hot Zone, for his help. Thanks also to Smithsonian and New Mexico magazines, who helped finance our exploration of the ancient Spanish trail across the Jornada known as the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.

Walter Nelson, Roeliff Annon, and Silvio Mazzarese accompanied us on horseback around the Jornada and were delightful riding companions. We also acknowledge with thanks the following people, who kindly allowed us to ride across their ranches: Ben and Jane Cain of the Bar Cross Ranch; Evelyn Fite of the Fite Ranch; Shane Shannon, former manager of the Armandaris Ranch; Tom Waddell, current foreman of the Armandaris; Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, owners of the Armandaris; and Harry F. Thompson Jr. of the Thompson Ranches. Gabrielle Palmer was very helpful, as always, with historical information.

Special thanks go to Jim Eckles of the White Sands Missile Range for a memorable tour of the 3,200-square-mile range. We would like to apologize for the liberties we have taken in describing White Sands, which is without a doubt one of the best run (and environmentally aware) Army testing facilities in the country. Obviously, no such place as Mount Dragon exists on WSMR property.

Finally, our thanks to all the rest who have helped us with Mount Dragon in particular and our novels in general: Jim Cush, Larry Bern, Mark Gallagher, Chris Yango, David Thomson, Bay and Ann Rabinowitz, Bruce Swanson, Ed Semple, Alain Montour, Bob Wincott; the sysops of CompuServe’s Literary Forum; and others too numerous to mention. Your enthusiasm helped make this book possible.

Our symbols shout at the universe,

They fly off, like hunters’ arrows

Into the night sky.

Or knapped spearpoints into flesh.

They race like fires across plains,

Driving buffalo.

—Franklin Butt

One window upon Apocalypse is more than enough.

—Susan Wright/Robert L. Sinsheimer,

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists


The sounds drifted over the long green lawn, so faint they could have been the crying of ravens in the nearby wood, or the distant braying of a mule on the farm across the brown river. The peace of the spring morning was almost undisturbed. One had to listen carefully to the sounds to make certain they were screams.

The massive bulk of Featherwood Park’s administrative building lay half-hidden beneath ancient cottonwood trees. At the front entrance, a private ambulance pulled away slowly from the porte cochere, pebbles scurrying on the gravel drive. Somewhere a pneumatic door hissed shut.

A small, unmarked white door was sunk into the side of the building for use by the professional staff. As Lloyd Fossey approached, his hand came forward automatically, reaching for the combination pad. He had been struggling to keep the sounds of Dvorak’s E-minor piano trio alive in his head, but now he frowned and gave up. Here in the shadow of the building, the screams were much louder.

The nurse’s station was all ringing phones and scattered paper. “Morning, Dr. Fossey,” said the nurse.

“Good morning,” he replied, pleased when she managed to give him a bright smile amid the confusion. “Grand Central here today.”

“Two came in early, bang, one after the other,” she said, working forms with one hand and passing him charts with the other. “Now there’s this one. Guess you already know about him.”


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