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“You better know what the hell you’re doing, Director,” Jabba hissed. “We’re about to lose shut‑down capability.”

Fontaine did not respond.

As if on cue, the door at the back of the control room opened, and Midge came dashing in. She arrived breathless at the podium. “Director! The switchboard is patching it through right now!”

Fontaine turned expectantly toward the screen on the front wall. Fifteen seconds later the screen crackled to life.

The image on screen was snowy and stilted at first, and gradually grew sharper. It was a QuickTime digital transmission‑only five frames per second. The image revealed two men. One was pale with a buzz cut, the other a blond all‑American. They were seated facing the camera like two newscasters waiting to go on the air.

“What the hell is this?” Jabba demanded.

“Sit tight,” Fontaine ordered.

The men appeared to be inside a van of some sort. Electronic cabling hung all around them. The audio connection crackled to life. Suddenly there was background noise.

“Inbound audio,” a technician called from behind them. “Five seconds till two‑way.”

“Who are they?” Brinkerhoff asked, uneasily.

“Eye in the sky,” Fontaine replied, gazing up at the two men he had sent to Spain. It had been a necessary precaution. Fontaine had believed in almost every aspect of Strathmore’s plan‑the regrettable but necessary removal of Ensei Tankado, rewriting Digital Fortress‑it was all solid. But there was one thing that made Fontaine nervous: the use of Hulohot. Hulohot was skilled, but he was a mercenary. Was he trustworthy? Would he take the pass‑key for himself? Fontaine wanted Hulohot covered, just incase, and he had taken the requisite measures.