‘But that’s insane,’ said Gilly after Mac had recounted his conversation with the thugs.

‘Indeed,’ replied Mac, ‘but that is exactly how They want it.’

They?’ asked Iseult. ‘Who are They?’

‘Now we are at the heart of the matter,’ said Mac gravely. Mac sat down and the others joined him.

‘In the course of my life’s work I uncovered what I believed to be a cosmic plot intent on destroying the world.’

‘A cosmic plot?’ repeated Iseult. ‘Whatever can you mean?’

‘Exactly that,’ said Mac. ‘And nothing more.’

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