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Midge Milken stood fuming at the water cooler near the entrance to the conference room. What the hell is Fontaine doing? She crumpled her paper cup and threw it forcefully into the trash can. There’s something happening in Crypto! I can feel it! Midge knew there was only one way to prove herself right. She’d go check out Crypto herself‑track down Jabba if need be. She spun on her heel and headed for the door.

Brinkerhoff appeared out of nowhere, blocking her way. “Where are you headed?”

“Home!” Midge lied.

Brinkerhoff refused to let her pass.

Midge glared. “Fontaine told you not to let me out, didn’t he?”

Brinkerhoff looked away.

“Chad, I’m telling you, there’s something happening in Crypto‑something big. I don’t know why Fontaine’s playing dumb, but TRANSLTR’s in trouble. Something is not right down there tonight!”

“Midge,” he soothed, walking past her toward the curtained conference room windows, “let’s let the director handle it.”

Midge’s gaze sharpened. “Do you have any idea what happens to TRANSLTR if the cooling system fails?”

Brinkerhoff shrugged and approached the window. “Power’s probably back on‑line by now anyway.” He pulled apart the curtains and looked.

“Still dark?” Midge asked.

But Brinkerhoff did not reply. He was spellbound. The scene below in the Crypto dome was unimaginable. The entire glass cupola was filled with spinning lights, flashing strobes, and swirling steam. Brinkerhoff stood transfixed, teetering light‑headed against the glass. Then, in a frenzy of panic, he raced out. “Director! Director!”