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Ðề tài: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

  1. #121
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 110


    Jabba stared blankly at the printout Soshi had just handed him. Pale, he wiped his forehead on his sleeve. “Director, we have no choice. We’ve got to kill power to the databank.”

    “Unacceptable,” Fontaine replied. “The results would be devastating.”

    Jabba knew the director was right. There were over three thousand ISDN connections tying into the NSA databank from all over the world. Every day military commanders accessed up-to-the-instant satellite photos of enemy movement. Lockheed engineers downloaded compartmentalized blueprints of new weaponry. Field operatives accessed mission updates. The NSA databank was the backbone of thousands of U.S. government operations. Shutting it down without warning would cause life-and-death intelligence blackouts all over the globe.

    “I’m aware of the implications, sir,” Jabba said, “but we have no choice.”

    “Explain yourself,” Fontaine ordered. He shot a quick glance at Susan standing beside him on the podium. She seemed miles away.

    Jabba took a deep breath and wiped his brow again. From the look on his face, it was clear to the group on the podium that they were not going to like what he had to say.

    “This worm,” Jabba began. “This worm is not an ordinary degenerative cycle. It’s a selective cycle. In other words, it’s a worm with taste.”

    Brinkerhoff opened his mouth to speak, but Fontaine waved him off.

    “Most destructive applications wipe a databank clean,” Jabba continued, “but this one is more complex. It deletes only those files that fall within certain parameters.”

    “You mean it won’t attack the whole databank?” Brinkerhoff asked hopefully. “That’s good, right?”

    “No!” Jabba exploded. “It’s bad! It’s very fucking bad!”

    “Cool it!” Fontaine ordered. “What parameters is this worm looking for? Military? Covert ops?”

    Jabba shook his head. He eyed Susan, who was still distant, and then Jabba’s eyes rose to meet the director’s. “Sir, as you know, anyone who wants to tie into this databank from the outside has to pass a series of security gates before they’re admitted.”

    Fontaine nodded. The databank’s access hierarchies were brilliantly conceived; authorized personnel could dial in via the Internet and World Wide Web. Depending on their authorization sequence, they were permitted access to their own compartmentalized zones.

    “Because we’re tied to the global Internet,” Jabba explained, “hackers, foreign governments, and EFF sharks circle this databank twenty-four hours a day and try to break in.”

    “Yes,” Fontaine said, “and twenty-four hours a day, our security filters keep them out. What’s your point?”

    Jabba gazed down at the printout. “My point is this. Tankado’s worm is not targeting our data.” He cleared his throat. “It’s targeting our security filters.”

    Fontaine blanched. Apparently he understood the implications—this worm was targeting the filters that kept the NSA databank confidential. Without filters, all of the information in the databank would become accessible to everyone on the outside.

    “We need to shut down,” Jabba repeated. “In about an hour, every third grader with a modem is going to have top U.S. security clearance.”

    Fontaine stood a long moment without saying a word.

    Jabba waited impatiently and finally turned to Soshi. “Soshi! VR! NOW!”

    Soshi dashed off.

    Jabba relied on VR often. In most computer circles, VR meant “virtual reality,” but at the NSA it meant vis-rep—visual representation. In a world full of technicians and politicians all having different levels of technical understanding, a graphic representation was often the only way to make a point; a single plummeting graph usually aroused ten times the reaction inspired by volumes of spreadsheets. Jabba knew a VR of the current crisis would make its point instantly.

    “VR!” Soshi yelled from a terminal at the back of the room.

    A computer-generated diagram flashed to life on the wall before them. Susan gazed up absently, detached from the madness around her. Everyone in the room followed Jabba’s gaze to the screen.

    The diagram before them resembled a bull’s-eye. In the center was a red circle marked data. Around the center were five concentric circles of differing thickness and color. The outermost circle was faded, almost transparent.

    “We’ve got a five-tier level of defense,” Jabba explained. “A primary Bastion Host, two sets of packet filters for FTP and X-eleven, a tunnel block, and finally a PEM-based authorization window right off the Truffle project. The outside shield that’s disappearing represents the exposed host. It’s practically gone. Within the hour, all five shields will follow. After that, the world pours in. Every byte of NSA data becomes public domain.”

    Fontaine studied the VR, his eyes smoldering.

    Brinkerhoff let out a weak whimper. “This worm can open our databank to the world?”

    “Child’s play for Tankado,” Jabba snapped. “Gauntlet was our fail-safe. Strathmore blew it.”

    “It’s an act of war,” Fontaine whispered, an edge in his voice.

    Jabba shook his head. “I really doubt Tankado ever meant for it to go this far. I suspect he intended to be around to stop it.”

    Fontaine gazed up at the screen and watched the first of the five walls disappear entirely.

    “Bastion Host is toast!” a technician yelled from the back of the room. “Second shield’s exposed!”

    “We’ve got to start shutting down,” Jabba urged. “From the looks of the VR, we’ve got about forty-five minutes. Shutdown is a complex process.”

    It was true. The NSA databank had been constructed in such a way as to ensure it would never lose power—accidentally or if attacked. Multiple fail-safes for phone and power were buried in reinforced steel canisters deep underground, and in addition to the feeds from within the NSA complex, there were multiple backups off main public grids. Shutting down involved a complex series of confirmations and protocols—significantly more complicated than the average nuclear submarine missile launch.

    “We have time,” Jabba said, “if we hurry. Manual shutdown should take about thirty minutes.”

    Fontaine continued staring up at the VR, apparently pondering his options.

    “Director!” Jabba exploded. “When these firewalls fall, every user on the planet will be issued top-security clearance! And I’m talking upper level! Records of covert ops! Overseas agents! Names and locations of everyone in the federal witness protection program! Launch code confirmations! We must shut down! Now!”

    The director seemed unmoved. “There must be some other way.”

    “Yes,” Jabba spat, “there is! The kill-code! But the only guy who knows it happens to be dead!”

    “How about brute force?” Brinkerhoff blurted. “Can we guess the kill-code?”

    Jabba threw up his arms. “For Christ sake! Kill-codes are like encryption keys—random! Impossible to guess! If you think you can type 600 trillion entries in the next forty-five minutes, be my guest!”

    “The kill-code’s in Spain,” Susan offered weakly.

    Everyone on the podium turned. It was the first thing she had said in a long time.

    Susan looked up, bleary-eyed. “Tankado gave it away when he died.”

    Everyone looked lost.

    “The pass-key . . .” Susan shivered as she spoke. “Commander Strathmore sent someone to find it.”

    “And?” Jabba demanded. “Did Strathmore’s man find it?”

    Susan tried to fight it, but the tears began to flow. “Yes,” she choked. “I think so.”
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  2. #122
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 111


    An earsplitting yell cut through the control room. “Sharks!” It was Soshi.

    Jabba spun toward the VR. Two thin lines had appeared outside the concentric circles. They looked like sperm trying to breach a reluctant egg.

    “Blood’s in the water, folks!” Jabba turned back to the director. “I need a decision. Either we start shutting down, or we’ll never make it. As soon as these two intruders see the Bastion Host is down, they’ll send up a war cry.”

    Fontaine did not respond. He was deep in thought. Susan Fletcher’s news of the pass-key in Spain seemed promising to him. He shot a glance toward Susan in the back of the room. She appeared to be in her own world, collapsed in a chair, her head buried in her hands. Fontaine was unsure exactly what had triggered the reaction, but whatever it was, he had no time for it now.

    “I need a decision!” Jabba demanded. “Now!”

    Fontaine looked up. He spoke calmly. “Okay, you’ve got one. We are not shutting down. We’re going to wait.”

    Jabba’s jaw dropped. “What? But that’s—”

    “A gamble,” Fontaine interrupted. “A gamble we just might win.” He took Jabba’s cellular and punched a few keys. “Midge,” he said. “It’s Leland Fontaine. Listen carefully. . . .”
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  3. #123
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    Chapter 112


    “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.
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  4. #124
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 113


    “Absolutely not!” The man with the buzz cut yelled into the camera. “We have orders! We report to Director Leland Fontaine and Leland Fontaine only!”

    Fontaine looked mildly amused. “You don’t know who I am, do you?”

    “Doesn’t matter, does it?” the blond fired hotly.

    “Let me explain,” Fontaine interjected. “Let me explain something right now.”

    Seconds later, the two men were red-faced, spilling their guts to the director of the National Security Agency. “D-director,” the blond stammered, “I’m Agent Coliander. This is Agent Smith.”

    “Fine,” Fontaine said. “Just brief us.”

    * * *

    At the back of the room, Susan Fletcher sat and fought the suffocating loneliness that pressed down around her. Eyes closed, and ears ringing, she wept. Her body had gone numb. The mayhem in the control room faded to a dull murmur.

    The gathering on the podium listened, restless, as Agent Smith began his briefing.

    “On your orders, Director,” Smith began, “we’ve been here in Seville for two days, trailing Mr.Ensei Tankado.”

    “Tell me about the kill,” Fontaine said impatiently.

    Smith nodded. “We observed from inside the van at about fifty meters. The kill was smooth. Hulohot was obviously a pro. But afterward his directive went awry. Company arrived. Hulohot never got the item.”

    Fontaine nodded. The agents had contacted him in South America with news that something had gone wrong, so Fontaine had cut his trip short.

    Coliander took over. “We stayed with Hulohot as you ordered. But he never made a move for the morgue. Instead, he picked up the trail of some other guy. Looked private. Coat and tie.”

    “Private?” Fontaine mused. It sounded like a Strathmore play—wisely keeping the NSA out of it.

    “FTP filters failing!” a technician called out.

    “We need the item,” Fontaine pressed. “Where is Hulohot now?”

    Smith looked over his shoulder. “Well . . . he’s with us, sir.”

    Fontaine exhaled. “Where?” It was the best news he’d heard all day.

    Smith reached toward the lens to make an adjustment. The camera swept across the inside of the van to reveal two limp bodies propped against the back wall. Both were motionless. One was a large man with twisted wire-rim glasses. The other was young with a shock of dark hair and a bloody shirt.

    “Hulohot’s the one on the left,” Smith offered.

    “Hulohot’s dead?” the director demanded.

    “Yes, sir.”

    Fontaine knew there would be time for explanations later. He glanced up at the thinning shields. “Agent Smith,” he said slowly and clearly. “The item. I need it.”

    Smith looked sheepish. “Sir, we still have no idea what the item is. We’re on a need-to-know.”
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  5. #125
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 114


    “Then look again!” Fontaine declared.

    The director watched in dismay as the stilted image of the agents searched the two limp bodies in the van for a list of random numbers and letters.

    Jabba was pale. “Oh my God, they can’t find it. We’re dead!”

    “Losing FTP filters!” a voice yelled. “Third shield’s exposed!” There was a new flurry of activity.

    On the front screen, the agent with the buzz cut held out his arms in defeat. “Sir, the pass-key isn’t here. We’ve searched both men. Pockets. Clothing. Wallets. No sign at all. Hulohot was wearing a Monocle computer, and we’ve checked that too. It doesn’t look like he ever transmitted anything remotely resembling random characters—only a list of kills.”

    “Dammit!” Fontaine seethed, suddenly losing his cool. “It’s got to be there! Keep looking!”

    Jabba had apparently seen enough—Fontaine had gambled and lost. Jabba took over. The huge Sys-Sec descended from his pulpit like a storm off a mountain. He swept through his army of programmers calling out commands. “Access auxiliary kills! Start shutting it down! Do it now!”

    “We’ll never make it!” Soshi yelled. “We need a half hour! By the time we shut down, it will be too late!”

    Jabba opened his mouth to reply, but he was cut short by a scream of agony from the back of the room.

    Everyone turned. Like an apparition, Susan Fletcher rose from her crouched position in the rear of the chamber. Her face was white, her eyes transfixed on the freeze-frame of David Becker, motionless and bloody, propped up on the floor of the van.

    “You killed him!” she screamed. “You killed him!” She stumbled toward the image and reached out. “David . . .”

    Everyone looked up in confusion. Susan advanced, still calling, her eyes never leaving the projection of David’s body. “David.” She gasped, staggering forward. “Oh, David. . . how could they—”

    Fontaine seemed lost. “You know this man?”

    Susan swayed unsteadily as she passed the podium. She stopped a few feet in front of the enormous projection and stared up, bewildered and numb, calling over and over to the man she loved.
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  6. #126
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 115


    The emptiness in David Becker’s mind was absolute. I am dead. And yet there was a sound. A distant voice . . .

    “David.”

    There was a dizzying burning beneath his arm. His blood was filled with fire. My body is not my own. And yet there was a voice, calling to him. It was thin, distant. But it was part of him. There were other voices too—unfamiliar, unimportant. Calling out. He fought to block them out. There was only one voice that mattered. It faded in and out.

    “David . . . I’m sorry . . .”

    There was a mottled light. Faint at first, a single slit of grayness. Growing. Becker tried to move. Pain. He tried to speak. Silence. The voice kept calling.

    Someone was near him, lifting him. Becker moved toward the voice. Or was he being moved? It was calling. He gazed absently at the illuminated image. He could see her on a small screen. It was a woman, staring up at him from another world. Is she watching me die?

    “David . . .”

    The voice was familiar. She was an angel. She had come for him. The angel spoke. “David, I love you.”

    Suddenly he knew.

    * * *

    Susan reached out toward the screen, crying, laughing, lost in a torrent of emotions. She wiped fiercely at her tears. “David, I—I thought . . .”

    Field Agent Smith eased David Becker into the seat facing the monitor. “He’s a little woozy, ma’am. Give him a second.”

    “B-but,” Susan was stammering, “I saw a transmission. It said . . .”

    Smith nodded. “We saw it too. Hulohot counted his chickens a little early.”

    “But the blood . . .”

    “Flesh wound,” Smith replied. “We slapped a gauze on it.”

    Susan couldn’t speak.

    Agent Coliander piped in from off camera. “We hit him with the new J23—long-acting stun gun. Probably hurt like hell, but we got him off the street.”

    “Don’t worry, ma’am,” Smith assured. “He’ll be fine.”

    David Becker stared at the TV monitor in front of him. He was disoriented, light-headed. The image on the screen was of a room—a room filled with chaos. Susan was there. She was standing on an open patch of floor, gazing up at him.

    She was crying and laughing. “David. Thank God! I thought I had lost you!”

    He rubbed his temple. He moved in front of the screen and pulled the gooseneck microphone toward his mouth. “Susan?”

    Susan gazed up in wonder. David’s rugged features now filled the entire wall before her. His voice boomed.

    “Susan, I need to ask you something.” The resonance and volume of Becker’s voice seemed to momentarily suspend the action in the databank. Everyone stopped mid stride and turned.

    “Susan Fletcher,” the voice resonated, “will you marry me?”

    A hush spread across the room. A clipboard clattered to the floor along with a mug of pencils. No one bent to pick them up. There was only the faint hum of the terminal fans and the sound of David Becker’s steady breathing in his microphone.

    “D-David . . .” Susan stammered, unaware that thirty-seven people stood riveted behind her. “You already asked me, remember? Five months ago. I said yes.”

    “I know.” He smiled. “But this time”—he extended his left hand into the camera and displayed a golden band on his fourth finger—“this time I have a ring.”
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  7. #127
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 116


    “Read it, Mr. Becker!” Fontaine ordered.

    Jabba sat sweating, hands poised over his keyboard. “Yes,” he said, “read the blessed inscription!”

    Susan Fletcher stood with them, weak-kneed and aglow. Everyone in the room had stopped what they were doing and stared up at the enormous projection of David Becker. The professor twisted the ring in his fingers and studied the engraving.

    “And read carefully!” Jabba commanded. “One typo, and we’re screwed!”

    Fontaine gave Jabba a harsh look. If there was one thing the director of the NSA knew about, it was pressure situations; creating additional tension was never wise. “Relax, Mr. Becker. If we make a mistake, we’ll reenter the code till we get it right.”

    “Bad advice, Mr. Becker,” Jabba snapped. “Get it right the first time. Kill-codes usually have a penalty clause—to prevent trial-and-error guessing. Make an incorrect entry, and the cycle will probably accelerate. Make two incorrect entries, and it will lock us out permanently. Game over.”

    The director frowned and turned back to the screen. “Mr. Becker? My mistake. Read carefully—read extremely carefully.”

    Becker nodded and studied the ring for a moment. Then he calmly began reciting the inscription. “Q . . . U . . . I . . . S . .. space. . . C. . .”

    Jabba and Susan interrupted in unison. “Space?”Jabba stopped typing. “There’s a space?”

    Becker shrugged, checking the ring. “Yeah. There’s a bunch of them.”

    “Am I missing something?” Fontaine demanded. “What are we waiting for?”

    “Sir,” Susan said, apparently puzzled. “It’s. . . it’s just . . .”

    “I agree,” Jabba said. “It’s strange. Passwords never have spaces.”

    Brinkerhoff swallowed hard. “So, what are you saying?”

    “He’s saying,” Susan interjected, “that this may not be a kill-code.”

    Brinkerhoff cried out, “Of course it’s the kill-code! What else could it be? Why else would Tankado give it away? Who the hell inscribes a bunch of random letters on a ring?”

    Fontaine silenced Brinkerhoff with a sharp glare.

    “Ah . . . folks?” Becker interjected, appearing hesitant to get involved. “You keep mentioning random letters. I think I should let you know . . . the letters on this ring aren’t random.”

    Everyone on the podium blurted in unison. “What!”

    Becker looked uneasy. “Sorry, but there are definitely words here. I’ll admit they’re inscribed pretty close together; at first glance it appears random, but if you look closely you’ll see the inscription is actually . . . well . .. it’s Latin.”

    Jabba gaped. “You’re shitting me!”

    Becker shook his head. “No. It reads, ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes.’ It translates roughly to—”

    “Who will guard the guards!” Susan interrupted, finishing David’s sentence.

    Becker did a double-take. “Susan, I didn’t know you could—”

    “It’s from Satires of Juvenal,” she exclaimed. “Who will guard the guards? Who will guard the NSA while we guard the world? It was Tankado’s favorite saying!”

    “So,” Midge demanded, “is it the pass-key, or not?”

    “It must be the pass-key,” Brinkerhoff declared.

    Fontaine stood silent, apparently processing the information.

    “I don’t know if it’s the key,” Jabba said. “It seems unlikely to me that Tankado would use a non random construction.”

    “Just omit the spaces,” Brinkerhoff cried, “and type the damn code!”

    Fontaine turned to Susan. “What’s your take, Ms. Fletcher?”

    She thought a moment. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but something didn’t feel right. Susan knew Tankado well enough to know he thrived on simplicity. His proofs and programming were always crystalline and absolute. The fact that the spaces needed to be removed seemed odd. It was a minor detail, but it was a flaw, definitely not clean—not what Susan would have expected as Ensei Tankado’s crowning blow.

    “It doesn’t feel right,” Susan finally said. “I don’t think it’s the key.”

    Fontaine sucked in a long breath, his dark eyes probing hers. “Ms. Fletcher, in your mind, if this is not the key, why would Ensei Tankado have given it away? If he knew we’d murdered him—don’t you assume he’d want to punish us by making the ring disappear?”

    A new voice interrupted the dialogue. “Ah . . .Director?”

    All eyes turned to the screen. It was Agent Coliander inSeville. He was leaning over Becker’s shoulder and speaking into the mic. “For whatever it’s worth, I’m not so sure Mr. Tankado knew he was being murdered.”

    “I beg your pardon?” Fontaine demanded.

    “Hulohot was a pro, sir. We saw the kill—only fifty meters away. All evidence suggests Tankado was unaware.”

    “Evidence?” Brinkerhoff demanded. “What evidence? Tankado gave away this ring. That’s proof enough!”

    “Agent Smith,” Fontaine interrupted. “What makes you think Ensei Tankado was unaware he was being killed?”

    Smith cleared his throat. “Hulohot killed him with an NTB—a noninvasive trauma bullet. It’s a rubber pod that strikes the chest and spreads out. Silent. Very clean. Mr. Tankado would only have felt a sharp thump before going into cardiac arrest.”

    “A trauma bullet,” Becker mused to himself. “That explains the bruising.”

    “It’s doubtful,” Smith added, “that Tankado associated the sensation with a gunman.”

    “And yet he gave away his ring,” Fontaine stated.

    “True, sir. But he never looked for his assailant. A victim always looks for his assailant when he’s been shot. It’s instinct.”

    Fontaine puzzled. “And you’re saying Tankado didn’t look for Hulohot?”

    “No, sir. We have it on film if you’d like—”

    “X-eleven filter’s going!” a technician yelled. “The worm’s halfway there!”

    “Forget the film,” Brinkerhoff declared. “Type in the damn kill-code and finish this!”

    Jabba sighed, suddenly the cool one. “Director, if we enter the wrong code . . .”

    “Yes,” Susan interrupted, “if Tankado didn’t suspect we killed him, we’ve got some questions to answer.”

    “What’s our time frame, Jabba?” Fontaine demanded.

    Jabba looked up at the VR. “About twenty minutes. I suggest we use the time wisely.”

    Fontaine was silent a long moment. Then sighed heavily. “All right. Run the film.”
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  8. #128
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 117


    “Transmitting video in ten seconds,” Agent Smith’s voice crackled. “We’re dropping every other frame as well as audio—we’ll run as close to real time as possible.”

    Everyone on the podium stood silent, watching, waiting. Jabba typed a few keys and rearranged the video wall. Tankado’s message appeared on the far left:

    ONLY THE TRUTH WILL SAVE YOU NOW

    On the right of the wall was the static interior shot of the van with Becker and the two agents huddled around the camera. In the center, a fuzzy frame appeared. It dissolved into static and then into a black and white image of a park.

    “Transmitting,” Agent Smith announced.

    The shot looked like an old movie. It was stilted and jerky—a by-product of frame-dropping, a process that halved the amount of information sent and enabled faster transmission.

    The shot panned out across an enormous concourse enclosed on one end by a semicircular facade—the Seville Ayuntamiento. There were trees in the foreground. The park was empty.

    “X-eleven’s are down!” a technician called out. “This bad boy’s hungry!”

    Smith began to narrate. His commentary had the detachment of a seasoned agent. “This is shot from the van,” he said, “about fifty meters from the kill zone. Tankado is approaching from the right. Hulohot’s in the trees to the left.”

    “We’ve got a time crunch here,” Fontaine pressed. “Let’s get to the meat of it.”

    Agent Coliander touched a few buttons, and the frame speed increased.

    Everyone on the podium watched in anticipation as their former associate, Ensei Tankado, came into the frame. The accelerated video made the whole image seem comic. Tankado shuffled jerkily out onto the concourse, apparently taking in the scenery. He shielded his eyes and gazed up at the spires of the huge facade.

    “This is it,” Smith warned. “Hulohot’s a pro. He took his first open shot.”

    Smith was right. There was a flash of light from behind the trees on the left of the screen. An instant later Tankado clutched his chest. He staggered momentarily. The camera zoomed in on him, unstable—in and out of focus.

    As the footage rolled in high speed, Smith coldly continued his narration. “As you can see, Tankado is instantly in cardiac arrest.”

    Susan felt ill watching the images. Tankado clutched at his chest with crippled hands, a confused look of terror on his face.

    “You’ll notice,” Smith added, “his eyes are focused downward, at himself. Not once does he look around.”

    “And that’s important?” Jabba half stated, half inquired.

    “Very,” Smith said. “If Tankado suspected foul play of any kind, he would instinctively search the area. But as you can see, he does not.”

    On the screen, Tankado dropped to his knees, still clutching his chest. He never once looked up. Ensei Tankado was a man alone, dying a private, natural death.

    “It’s odd,” Smith said, puzzled. “Traumapods usually won’t kill this quickly. Sometimes, if the target’s big enough, they don’t kill at all.”

    “Bad heart,” Fontaine said flatly.

    Smith arched his eyebrows, impressed. “Fine choice of weapon, then.”

    Susan watched as Tankado toppled from his knees to his side and finally onto his back. He lay, staring upward, grabbing at his chest. Suddenly the camera wheeled away from him back toward the grove of trees. A man appeared. He was wearing wire-rim glasses and carrying an oversize briefcase. As he approached the concourse and the writhing Tankado, his fingers began tapping in a strange silent dance on a mechanism attached to his hand.

    “He’s working his Monocle,” Smith announced. “Sending a message that Tankado is terminated.” Smith turned to Becker and chuckled. “Looks like Hulohot had a bad habit of transmitting kills before his victim actually expired.”

    Coliander sped the film up some more, and the camera followed Hulohot as he began moving toward his victim. Suddenly an elderly man rushed out of a nearby courtyard, ran over to Tankado, and knelt beside him. Hulohot slowed his approach. A moment later two more people appeared from the courtyard—an obese man and a red-haired woman. They also came to Tankado’s side.

    “Unfortunate choice of kill zone,” Smith said. “Hulohot thought he had the victim isolated.”

    On the screen, Hulohot watched for a moment and then shrank back into the trees, apparently to wait.

    “Here comes the handoff,” Smith prompted. “We didn’t notice it the first time around.”

    Susan gazed up at the sickening image on the screen. Tankado was gasping for breath, apparently trying communicate something to the Samaritans kneeling beside him. Then, in desperation, he thrust his left hand above him, almost hitting the old man in the face. He held the crippled appendage outward before the old man’s eyes. The camera tightened on Tankado’s three deformed fingers, and on one of them, clearly glistening in the Spanish sun, was the golden ring. Tankado thrust it out again. The old man recoiled. Tankado turned to the woman. He held his three deformed fingers directly in front of her face, as if begging her to understand. The ring glinted in the sun. The woman looked away. Tankado, now choking, unable to make a sound, turned to the obese man and tried one last time.

    The elderly man suddenly stood and dashed off, presumably to get help. Tankado seemed to be weakening, but he was still holding the ring in the fat man’s face. The fat man reached out and held the dying man’s wrist, supporting it. Tankado seemed to gaze upward at his own fingers, at his own ring, and then to the man’s eyes. As a final plea before death, Ensei Tankado gave the man an almost imperceptible nod, as if to say yes.

    Then Tankado fell limp.

    “Jesus.” Jabba moaned.

    Suddenly the camera swept to where Hulohot had been hiding. The assassin was gone. A police motorcycle appeared, tearing up Avenida Firelli. The camera wheeled back to where Tankado was lying. The woman kneeling beside him apparently heard the police sirens; she glanced around nervously and then began pulling at her obese companion, begging him to leave. The two hurried off.

    The camera tightened on Tankado, his hands folded on his lifeless chest. The ring on his finger was gone.
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  9. #129
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 118


    “It’s proof,” Fontaine said decidedly. “Tankado dumped the ring. He wanted it as far from himself as possible—so we’d never find it.”

    “But, Director,” Susan argued, “it doesn’t make sense. If Tankado was unaware he’d been murdered, why would he give away the kill code?”

    “I agree,” Jabba said. “The kid’s a rebel, but he’s a rebel with a conscience. Getting us to admit to TRANSLTR is one thing; revealing our classified databank is another.”

    Fontaine stared, disbelieving. “You think Tankado wanted to stop this worm? You think his dying thoughts were for the poor NSA?”

    “Tunnel-block corroding!” a technician yelled. “Full vulnerability in fifteen minutes, maximum!”

    “I’ll tell you what,” the director declared, taking control. “In fifteen minutes, every Third World country on the planet will learn how to build an intercontinental ballistic missile. If someone in this room thinks he’s got a better candidate for a kill code than this ring, I’m all ears.” The director waited. No one spoke. He returned his gaze to Jabba and locked eyes. “Tankado dumped that ring for a reason, Jabba. Whether he was trying to bury it, or whether he thought the fat guy would run to a pay phone and call us with the information, I really don’t care. But I’ve made the decision. We’re entering that quote. Now.”

    Jabba took a long breath. He knew Fontaine was right—there was no better option. They were running out of time. Jabba sat. “Okay . . . let’s do it.” He pulled himself to the keyboard. “Mr. Becker? The inscription, please. Nice and easy.”

    David Becker read the inscription, and Jabba typed. When they were done, they double-checked the spelling and omitted all the spaces. On the center panel of the view wall, near the top, were the letters:

    QUISCUSTODIETIPSOSCUSTODES

    “I don’t like it,” Susan muttered softly.“It’s not clean.”

    Jabba hesitated, hovering over the ENTER key.

    “Do it,” Fontaine commanded.

    Jabba hit the key. Seconds later the whole room knew it was a mistake.
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

  10. #130
    Gia nhập
    Sep 2006
    Bài gởi
    702

    Trả lời: Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

    CHAPTER 119


    “It’s accelerating!” Soshi yelled from the back of the room. “It’s the wrong code!”

    Everyone stood in silent horror.

    On the screen before them was the error message:

    ILLEGAL ENTRY. NUMERIC FIELD ONLY.

    “Damn it!” Jabba screamed. “Numeric only! We’re looking for a goddamn number! We’re fucked! This ring is shit!”

    “Worm’s at double speed!” Soshi shouted. “Penalty round!”

    On the center screen, right beneath the error message, the VR painted a terrifying image. As the third firewall gave way, the half-dozen or so black lines representing marauding hackers surged forward, advancing relentlessly toward the core. With each passing moment, a new line appeared. Then another.

    “They’re swarming!” Soshi yelled.

    “Confirming overseas tie-ins!” cried another technician. “Word’s out!”

    Susan averted her gaze from the image of the collapsing firewalls and turned to the side screen. The footage of Ensei Tankado’s kill was on endless loop. It was the same every time—Tankado clutching his chest, falling, and with a look of desperate panic, forcing his ring on a group of unsuspecting tourists. It makes no sense, she thought. If he didn’t know we’d killed him . . . Susan drew a total blank. It was too late. We’ve missed something.

    On the VR, the number of hackers pounding at the gates had doubled in the last few minutes. From now on, the number would increase exponentially. Hackers, like hyenas, were one big family, always eager to spread the word of a new kill.

    Leland Fontaine had apparently seen enough. “Shut it down,” he declared. “Shut the damn thing down.”

    Jabba stared straight ahead like the captain of a sinking ship. “Too late, sir. We’re going down.”
    Con bò là ai con bò là ta
    Học hành biếng nhác thành ra con bò

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