Propagating Farces
in Spacetime
by Dal Merlin Jeanis


Jason Garner, nicknamed Switch, rubbed his eyes, took a drink of the strong black coffee, and read the paragraph for a fourth time.

These causality problems can be solved without any change to the mathematical formalism of General Relativity (GR), but only to its interpretation.  Simply, gravity must once again be taken to be a propagating force of nature in flat spacetime with the propagation speed indicated by observational evidence and experiments: not less than 2 x 10^10 c.  Such a change of perspective requires no change in the assumed character of gravitational radiation or its light-speed propagation. Although faster-than-light force propagation speeds do violate Einstein special relativity (SR), they are in accord with Lorentzian relativity (LR), which has never been experimentally distinguished from SR -- at least, not in favor of SR.

Indeed, far from upsetting much of current physics, the main changes induced by this new perspective are beneficial to areas where physics has been struggling, such as explaining experimental evidence for non-locality in quantum physics, the dark matter issue in cosmology, and the possible unification of forces. Recognition of a faster-than-light-speed propagation of gravity, as indicated by all existing experimental evidence, may be the key to taking conventional physics to the next plateau.

The next plateau indeed.  Switch considered the concept with growing excitement.  Even if the thoughts were plagiarized, the consequences were immense.

If gravity was a propagating force with an arbitrarily high velocity, then it was carried by a wave-particle which moved faster than light through the intervening space.  This meant that faster than light communication was possible.  Hell, maybe even faster-than-light travel.

Not only that, but the experiments proposed by Shreck would demonstrate that subtle forces like gravity could be created with gross equipment -- not multi-billion-dollar, ten-mile-long nuclear accellerators but merely multi-million-dollar engines.  Once that was conclusively demonstrated, the race would be on to begin miniaturizing them into a size fit for spaceships, then airplanes, then automobiles.

Then Nikes, for God's sake.  By about 2020, he guessed, tennis shoes really would be helping athletes make slam dunks, like the commercials had been claiming for over a decade.  Of course, now they were claiming they'd make you a superhero, or at least a hero, what with all those Omega/Permafrost spots.  Sheesh.  Who'd believe that crap?

Several meg of technical data, historical data, dissertations and other papers related to Winston's, Shreck's and Johannessen's work, their personal histories, and miscellaneous other crap were in his laptop.  It didn't seem to matter how much he read, it only opened up more lines of inquiry, and more interesting scientific possibilities.  Unfortunately, none of them seemed to relate directly to cold fusion.

Johannessen was a long-time nuclear physicist who attended the Swedish Royal Academy for Engineering Sciences, and belonged as well to the Swedish Atomic Energy Committee. Her work on isotopes produced in cyclotrons was quite significant as was her breakthroughs in magnetic confinement fusion at UC Berkeley.

For over thirty years she had made a living pursuing her interests in nuclear physics, currently in association with Maximillian Powers and several Ivy League schools within long commutes from her farm north of Oxford Village in South-Eastern Pennsylvania.

Chester County is a great place in which to get lost. Mile after mile of rolling hills, etched by stream-filled valleys and woodlands; horse farms, covered bridges, and beautiful wildflowers. This is a very special valley. Here we are still able to see with the eye of an artist, listen with the ear of the poet -- grasping the special magic which has drawn so many to this place where art, history and culture flourish.
Switch frowned.  Pretty or not, that was a pretty damn long commute -- two to three hours drive to any of  the universities, and almost an hour to the nearest facility owned by Maximillian Powers.  An evil grin spread across his face.  While Johannessen wasn't answering or returning any phone calls from strangers, she had to be checking in on any experiments, and communicating by email or video with her assistants.  Which meant there would be a dedicated phone line.  A FAST line.  If he could find the company, he could clone the line.  He added it to his list of things to do.  A long list.

Shrugging, he went back to the technical side of his study, bypassing Shreck's paper to return to Johannessen's "Small Forces and Smaller Places" essay.  Something about that fifth equation was making him itch.  He just had this sickly little feeling that, if you worked it hard enough, you could use that to prove that two equals three.  It just didn't feel right.

But that could just be his thermodynamics training.  After all, she was trying to show that you could get something for nothing. In which case you could have monopolar magnets, and point-source cooling units, and all sorts of rather far-fetched... he drifted off into some kind of reverie.

Switch shook himself.  Possibilities within possibilities.  Johannessen and, what was the coauthor's name?  E. D. Arnstein?  The name was vaguely familiar from somewhere.  He hadn't been able to find anything recently by Arnstein.  An Elijah Arnstein had worked with Iijima on fullerene nanotubes back in the mid-nineties, and way farther back there was a paper cowritten with Kaminski, but there weren't any other publications by him recently.  It was like he was just
blown off the...

All of a sudden it clicked.

There was an Eli Arnstein on TWA flight 800.

Switch had spent weeks of his free time over the last four years trying to figure out who on the flight was important enough for the US Navy to want dead.  He had pored over the list, just as he had pored over the passenger list of Swissair 111.  It was easily established that the flight was hit by a CR missile.  It was easily established that the Navy was on maneuvers in zones W-105 and W-106 nearby.

And, since there were no leaks from Naval sources, it was easily established that it was NOT an accident.  If it had been an accident, it would have been, "Oops, sorry, here's a few million.  It won't happen again."  But instead, there was a total silence from those who should know.  And it DID happen again, two years later with Swissair 111.

The fact that Clinton was personally involved in the cover-up was easily enough established.  The only two theories that fit the bill were that either a terrorist missile blew up the flight and Clinton suppressed it to get reelected, or that the US Navy blew up the flight and everyone suppressed it, for some reason.  It was so frustrating.

But Eli Arnstein was on the passenger list.  Whether or not he was on the flight, he was on the official dead list.  And he just happened to be the third co-author of a paper whose primary author allegedly committed a mysterious murder-suicide.  God, this just kept getting wider.

Switch sighed, and prepared to leave Eatzi's.  Once again, although he still sat where no one could look over his shoulder, there didn't seem to be anyone watching him.

It had been several days since Switch had seen any of the FP cars, and it bothered him.  Not that he had done anything "they" should have thought suspicious, but simply due to the old maxim about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.  That, and the fact that he had managed to surreptitiously acquire some low-grade transponders, and had been waiting for the right moment to bug a Grand Am.

He paid the tab with his -- Jacob's -- credit card, then went out into the hot Texas summer to the Jag.  His meter was expired, and there was a fresh ticket on the windshield, courtesy of a police officer who was now three cars down on the opposite side of the street. A woman with a shrill voice was arguing with the old officer.

"That car has been there since before I parked.  Why didn't you ticket that one?"  she harumphed.

"Government issued, lady. I could ticket it, but I don't need the headaches."

A chill went up his spine as Switch turned to glance at the car.  A blue Honda Civic CX, plate
E 0013.  The lady kicked the car.

"Do you want me to add 'vandalism of government property' to that ticket lady?"

Switch grinned and got into the Jag, baking in the hot leather interior.  As he adjusted the mirror, he mentally ran all the way through the drive from his hotel to Eatzi's, then the day before.  The Honda was there when he pulled out of the hotel.  But the entire prior day, there wasn't a Honda to be seen.  Interesting.

He pulled out of the parking space and slowly drove the Jag away, giving the Honda time to follow.  After a few miles of driving, he pulled into an open space in front of a Borders bookstore.  He browsed the stacks for a half hour, looking at the psychology and self-help sections, then history.  The smells of new paper and glue surrounded him, buoying his spirits.  He went over to the science fiction section and picked up a copy of Winston's novel, Property of Time.

He bought the English version of a German paper, to see what he might pick up on current events in Poland.  It seemed that the elections would be a cakewalk for incumbent President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who would probably get over 50% of the vote in the first round of elections against a dozen challengers, including former President Lech Walesa.  The guy's approval ratings were over 70 percent, and he hadn't even been caught lying about screwing interns.  Obviously, Poles were behind the times.

Poland had joined NATO in the late nineties, and was now bucking to join the European Union, although very few Polish economists were arguing for abandoning the zloty for euros.  After all, the Polish economy was booming, with both exports and imports increasing.  The zloty looked great compared with a sagging euro.  The German writer sounded jealous, since Germany was having to deal with East German economic doldrums and suppression of both pro-Nazi sentiments and the occasional metahuman.

Finally, he picked up a copy of the Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza.  Trying to dredge his way through it would give him practice at reading the language.  Since most newspapers were aimed at a third- to sixth-grade vocabulary, it should be about readable by the end of the month.

When Switch returned to his car, he glanced around to find the Honda.  It was parked a few aisles over, empty.  His eyes went past it to the Marble Slab Creamery, and he smiled suddenly.  This should be fun.

Putting the newspapers into his Jag, he then walked across the hot asphalt parking lot into the ice cream shop.  After a few minutes waiting in line, he purchased a double scoop of high-fat Butter Brickle ice cream in a sugar cone.  It tasted wonderful.

He walked back across the asphalt lot, the hot tarry smell mixing badly with the taste of the ice cream.  No matter, it would only last a moment.

When he reached the Honda, he "accidentally" tripped over a speed bump, dropping the cone onto the trunk of the unoccupied surveillance car.

"Oh, dear,"  he said, to no one in particular.

He made a big show of cleaning the ice cream off the car, badly, smearing it all over the fender with his hands, placing a bug into the bumper.  Finally, hands sticky with Butter Brickle, he went back to the ice cream shop, washed his hands, and bought a single-dip replacement.

He drove away in the Jag, laughing his head off.


The chuckling ended abruptly when he was sweeping for bugs.  The one in the car was expected, even obligatory.  The ones in his hotel room were annoying.  The one in his left shoe was startling.

He mentally scanned back over the last several days, since the last sweep.  There was really no way to know how long they had been there, but every single pair of shoes he owned was bugged.  For a moment, the first time in years, he felt true fear.  He had no clue how much they had heard.  Especially since he was known to talk to himself when hacking.

He took apart his laptop, checking all the components.  There were no internal bugs.  But he had to assume that, as thorough as "They" seemed to be, the phone lines would be tapped or even cloned.  Carnivore or something nastier would be parsing his keystrokes.  Luckily, the last two days online had been spent in research rather than hacking.

The phone rang, startling him. His hands shook as he picked up the receiver.

"Jacob?  This is Beverly."

It took Switch a moment to focus.  "Beverly?..."

"Beverly Dunn. Jason's friend."  Beverly was disappointed that she had to remind him who she was, after Jacob had written her such a nice thank you letter.  But after all, she consoled herself, they had only met once, at the funeral.  Even if they did have a bond of mutual loss.

"Oh, God, Beverly.  Thanks for calling.  I've been... somewhat distracted."  The voice, so like Jason's voice, sounded tired and somewhat depressed.  On an impulse, she invited him out for lunch.

Surprised, Switch looked at the phone.  He had tried to get her to lunch for years, and finally had to die to make it happen.  He grinned wryly.

"I'd love to."  He finally replied.  "Do you like Indian food?"


As they entered Pasand Indian Cuisine, the scents of curry, roast lamb and gentle spices hovered around them like a solicitous host.  Brightly colored Madras tablecloths with gold threads complimented the fabric wall hangings of multi-armed blue gods on golden elephants.

Pasand was located in Richardson, heart of the telecom corridor.  It was right across from University of Texas at Dallas, but it was a little too upscale to draw much in the way of a student crowd.  The other patrons for the lunch buffet were about evenly split between local telecom employees and Pakistani or Indian people.  Switch had found that that was always a good sign in an ethnic restaurant -- it showed that it was authentic, but still catered somewhat to American

Beverly was dressed in a Façonné silk suit, pale blue with patterns of tiny black squiggles all over it.  He helped her off with her blazer, more fully revealing the deep red silk blouse, the Hermès scarf in blues and reds, and the shiny gold jewelry she had used to round out the look.

"You look marvelous."  Switch was able to say it because Jacob would have done so.  Being someone else was occasionally liberating.  As himself, Switch would have been teasing her about dressing like a marketing person.  Which she was, of course.

"Thank you, Jacob.  You look nice, too."  Switch glanced down.  It was a khaki-colored poplin suit from Brooks Brother's, light weight enough for a  Texas summer.  If you didn't mind roasting, of course -- there wasn't any fabric light enough for  Texas summer.  But it did look nice with the blue pinpoint cotton shirt and silk tie.  Of course, it was a clone of something Jacob had worn two years' back -- Switch didn't understand business fashion enough to improvise yet.  In fact, he might never.

Switch grinned.  After over a year of unsuccessful attention on his part, it felt really good for Beverly to be interested in him.  He motioned the waiter to bring them two iced teas, and led her to the buffet.  "The Korma curry is the mildest.  Don't do the Vindaloo unless you have cast iron ... ummm"

"Stomach?" Beverly ventured.

"Well, that and all points south."  It was strange.  Two months ago he wouldn't have hesitated to have finished the sentence, and now he was being circumspect about simple things like body parts.  This being someone else every day was definitely having an effect on him.

Beverly watched his face for a moment, viewing but not comprehending the play of emotions.  Jacob was cute when he was embarrassed, very unlike his late brother.  Jason had been able to say the most incredible things without embarrassment, sometimes without noticing he was doing so.  She smiled, tentatively at first and then more broadly.  "My points south are quite well, thank you, but I think I will stick to the Korma."

Switch allowed himself a gentle glance at her "points south", then his gaze came back to rest on her eyes.  "Your points north are pretty awesome, too."

Her breath caught slightly, then she turned to fill her plate.


"Well, I don't understand all the specifics.  He was experimenting with what the newspapers called 'cold fusion', although he called it "palladium-deuterium phase induction."  I've been studying everything I can about it, but I'm afraid science just isn't my field."

"Just what is your field, Jason?"  She leaned forward as she asked it.  Jason looked at her, startled.  It took Beverly a moment to realize what she had said. "Oh, I'm sorry, Jacob.  You know it isn't..."  She crumpled her cloth napkin with her hands, then looked at the door, embarrassed.

Switch reached across the table and took both of her hands with his.  "It's all right.  Sometimes...sometimes I feel like I'm living my brother's life -- like I should have died and he lived."

He let the sentence hang there a long time.  "It's called 'survivor's guilt.'  Psychology and sociology are my fields."  He paused again.  "'Survivor's Guilt' will probably be the title of my next book, if I can ever get myself back in the habit of writing."

Beverly looked at him a long time, mascara just slightly blurred by the wetness of her eyes.  It warmed him to know that her sadness was for him, even if it was too late for him to receive it.  Well, too late to receive it as himself.  Finally, he let go of her hands, gently returning to eating as if nothing had happened.  It seemed to help her return to calmness.

He put down his fork.  "You mean Jason never told you what I did?  The little geek!"

Beverly smiled.  "Maybe he was afraid I'd like you more."

"Ah, yes, the dreaded psychologist envy.  Many women are known to have a fetish for psychotherapists.  At least in studies done by psychotherapists, of course."

Beverly giggled.  Switch had never heard her giggle.

"Well, how am I doing so far?"  He batted his eyelashes like the heroine in a silent movie.

Beverly looked him in his gray eyes, her breathing slow and even.  "I like you more."

It was nearly a minute before he could breath again.


Leaving Pasand, it was time to prepare his escape.  On the way back to the hotel, Switch stopped by the Galleria and bought some new running shoes, a jogging suit and two fanny packs.  It wouldn't seem suspicious at all until he disappeared.  And even then, they wouldn't have any idea whether he was just on a long jog or had noticed his tail.  They'd have to assume the latter, of course.

He stopped by Radio Shack for some components, then returned to the Renaissance hotel.  The hotel had gone through several names in the last twenty years, depending more on the fortunes of the various owners than anything else.  It was a big pinkish marble tower shaped like a Bic lighter, off highway 35 near downtown.  His suite, on the nineteenth floor, consisted of a king sized bedroom, a marble bathroom with 4-person Jacuzzi, and a sitting room, oddly shaped due to being at the curved end of the building.

The curved sitting room had a desk with integrated outside phone lines, which he had quite happily used.  But no more.  He looked out the windows at the view.  The view of downtown was spectacular at night, but at this time of day it was a view of dingy smog and dirty buildings.  Nonetheless, the lunch with Beverly had brought his spirits up.  He looked across the freeway to the hotel opposite, studying the jogging trails and planning his escape.

Finally satisfied, he changed into the workout clothes and hid his sweeper and ID in a fanny pack.  His laptop he couldn't do anything about -- there was no way to carry the whole thing without making his watchers suspicious too early.  After a few minutes' agonizing, he popped the hard drive out, added it to the second fanny pack and then re-closed the case.  By the time they broke in and tried to access his laptop, it would be too late.

Oh, but he could make it even more uncomfortable for them.  The maid had already cleaned today, so he put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.  He quickly rigged up an alarm using the rest of the computer, an infrared sensor and some speakers, where entering the room without entering a code into the computer would set off several other pieces of equipment with varying delays of high-pitched screams.  This embarrassing of government agents was becoming a hobby of his.

At the front desk, Switch left a message that he would be away for a few days and his room was not to be disturbed.  The clerk, a heavy young black woman with an ornate hairdo and one gold tooth, agreed brightly, and typed something into the computer.  Switch smiled, hoping that the computerized note would not become available to his watchers for at least a few minutes.  That was all he would need.

The trip across the freeway in the Jag was uneventful. He didn't even see a tail, although he would bet that it would be there.  He parked the Jag near the jogging trail, got out and put on the two fanny packs.  Once the car was locked, he put the keys in one pack and after one glance back started jogging on the trail.  The glance showed a Honda parking several rows away, possibly occupied by two people.

He grinned as he ran.  Fifteen minutes later, after a full lap around the track, there were still two people in the car.  The afternoon heat was brutal, so he could certainly understand why they might want to stay in the car rather than chase him round the track.  He got a long drink at the hotel, checked the time, then went out for another round.  Near the farthest point on the track, he cut across the lawn and under a bridge.  After two minutes of sprinting full out, he arrived within sight of his goal -- a bus stop on a major street.  According to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit tables, he had five minutes to stay out of sight before the bus would pass.

An agonizing twelve minutes later, the DART Bus finally arrived, but in the meantime there had been no sign of pursuit.  He watched the traffic patterns as the bus took him deep into downtown, where he was able to pick up the DART light rail toward North Dallas.

It was crowded in the mid-afternoon rush hour traffic.  He got a few curious glances in his jogging suit, and the DART cop raised a pierced eyebrow and grinned while punching his one-way ticket, but there didn't appear to be anything unusual about any of the other passengers.  Well, unusual by DART standards, anyway.

He got off the light rail near his old apartment, which he had long ago rented under another name just on general principle.  His -- Jason's -- car was still parked there.  It had been clean the morning after the fire, and the last few times he had been there, but he swept it again just in case.  There was a bug behind the front grill, and one in the cab. That meant this apartment was
compromised also.

Calculating quickly, he gave himself three minutes to get into the house and grab his equipment.  Most likely they would not have posted anyone to watch an empty house -- they would have known it was Switch, whether they knew him as Jacob or Jason.  But even with the close timing of his DART trip, and the rush hour traffic on Central Expressway to slow them down, they would be heading here within a very few minutes.  Unless he could come up with a diversion...

He continued loading the car, as the stereo in his apartment played "Don't Worry Be Happy."

"Hey, vato, can you spare some change?"

The voice startled him, friendly as it was.  He turned to see his neighbor, Enrico, pot belly and old gang tattoos hanging out limply in all directions.  "What, you need some cerveza, Enrico?"

"Well, if you put it that way..."  Enrico turned to go back inside.  Switch dropped the voice bug, smashed it and grinned a moment before he called Enrico back.

"Enrico, if you do me a favor I'll buy you a case of Negro Modelo."  Enrico looked at him, interested but not greedy.

"I like Coors."  he corrected.  "What kind of favor?"

Switch held up small transponder.  "Someone bugged me.  I'd just like to play a little joke on them.  Take this with you to the liquor store, then put it on the car of the meanest looking vato you can find.  Or a little old lady, I don't care."

Enrico grinned.  "For you, anything.  Well, and for a case of Coors."

Switch laughed out loud.


The Candlewood Suites were near the intersection of LBJ Freeway and Central Expressway, two major arteries of the city of Dallas.  A Mister Gerald Atrich registered with his car, then brought a few pieces of luggage and some boxes of equipment into the second floor suite.

There was a large desk integrated with the kitchenette, a sitting area with a large television, couch and recliner, and a bedroom with a huge bed, tiny TV and a small writing area.  The desk off the kitchen had a computer port.  That was what he had needed the most.

Switch assembled the equipment, installing the hard drive from his laptop into the hardware from his old apartment.  He had been using the Atrich name for a few weeks on telephone calls, with a specially programmed voice modulator to make him sound like an older reporter.

It had been helpful more than a few times.  Just like it had been helpful to him to have a nonexistent newly-hired secretary named Diane Sutch.  She could ask naïve questions which "Jacob" himself could not.

Like "who was it Mr Garner was talking to in Poland last month?", which none of his publisher, lawyer or bookkeeper seemed to have an answer to.

Like "when is Mr Garner's book going to be published?", a question his publisher danced around the answer to.  It seemed that the contract required Jacob to tour with the book, but the best time for pop psychology books to be pushed was during the holiday season, so if her boss didn't mind waiting a little while...?

Jason Garner, Jacob Garner, Gerald Atrich, Diane Sutch, Alan Benjamin Kott...  He sighed.  Whoever Switch was at this particular moment, he had work to do.

Switch began using the computer port in this suite to fill in the blanks in his research.  The "E" in the plate stood for Energy Research and Development Administration.  It fit with all the rest of this nonsense.

One of his favorite newsgroups had information about a hacker code named IB2Tap, who was sought for information regarding electronic break-ins into several large companies and agencies, including one of Switch's favorite haunts.

He swore under his breath.  He couldn't go in there for a while, not while they were looking for IB2Tap.  He wished them luck, though, as little as possible.

Switch hacked long into the night.


A few days later, Switch was standing, watching a warehouse through binoculars.  The ERPA Honda was parked outside the warehouse, near the rail yards in Fort Worth.

This area had not yet been yuppified by the start-up phenomenon -- although much of the warehouse space in Dallas proper was being used as cheap rental space for high-tech companies, there were only three warehouses in this block with satellite dishes, and this was one of them.

Some secret base, Switch snickered.  It was just the sort of half-assed way that a government organization would do something, he thought.

He took a break from the Musak as he checked his equipment and moved the targeting scanner.  The laser interferometer had picked up nothing from most of the warehouse windows.  Either they were shielded, or whatever offices were inside belonged to people who liked to hear the same Kenny G album over and over and over...

No, no one could have that little imagination.  It was just a mild form of psychological warfare.

The only snippets of conversation Switch had picked up had come from the windshield glass of the Honda as they had arrived, and the glass of the door the agents had entered after using their magnetic ID badge.  Switch replayed it in his mind.


The blue car pulls in and jerks to a stop.  I adjust the sighting laser as quickly as I can, but they're almost out of the car before it's right.

" up eventually.  He's too high profile not to."  The bigger one with the dark hair is speaking.  They're both dressed like the government issued them the suits.

"I know that!"  There is irritation in the voice of the small blond with the mustache.  "If they'd given us better equipment we wouldn't have had to..."

"Come on, Dane.  You know as well as I do that he isn't that important."  The large one is swiping his id badge in the reader next to the door.  I readjust the sights on the stationary door next to the one that opens.  Dane tailgates him in without swiping.

I grin at the lax security, but my grin is cut off by the voice of a guard.  "Good morning, Mr Aldritch, Mr Dane."  The tenor voice sounds friendly but not familiarly so.

"Good Morning, Dave,"  says Dane.  A breath of hot wind stirs the back of my hair.

The door closes with a hushed sound, and there are some sounds like footsteps and elevator doors.  When the agents have been gone for a few seconds, the tenor adds one last comment.


"You got that right," I reply, unheard.


Not finding anything much new in the memory, Switch decided not to spend much longer watching the silent warehouse.  He was sure there was electronic equipment inside, including some pretty advanced tracking stuff.

When he returned to their sights, he could be relatively certain they would use more advanced equipment, assuming they didn't kill him outright, just on principle.  Nonetheless,  it was a waste of his time to watch a dead warehouse and listen to G's "Girl From Ipanema" for the fifteenth time.  Why didn't G's greatest hits include any decent blues, for god's sake?

Switch decided before leaving Fort Worth to stop by the Kimball museum.  He had been meaning to visit the Ishikawa collection before it left for New York, but never seemed to have the time to make the hour-long journey from Dallas.

The private collection of Japanese treasures included armor and weaponry from nearly a thousand years ago, jeweled and embroidered triptychs and wall-hangings, and lots of finely fired pottery.  Some of them were reputed to have magic powers, although the item that interested him most was the jewel on the hilt of the Kiro-o Katana.  A clear, pure ruby, it could be used as a focusing agent for some of the more interesting experiments he had been considering.

After only a cursory look at the security arrangements, he discarded the concept of "borrowing" it.  This stuff was way beyond his experience in security.  Not only was the Kimball a world-class museum, they also had world-class security.  But that didn't stop him from enjoying the exhibit, or from mentally tallying just exactly what type of magic would be required to arrange for a loan of the sword.

He left Fort Worth headed northward, and once again swept the car before heading west and trading it for a rented car in Lubbock, on a credit card registered to Alan Kott.  In the rental car, he headed west out of Texas.


IB2Tap completed the initialization routine for the new diversion server.  It came on line with no fuss, no muss, no buzz.  Given any luck, he would have the fingerprints he needed in a few moments.

Half an hour later, he was still unable to get access to the right database.  Apparently the government, in its usual dinosaur-like efficiency, had finally made the prints of convicted hackers off-limits.  He counted at least two firewalls, and some data seemed to have been removed completely from the FBI's virtual private network.

No matter.

There was a computer nerd in Oklahoma City by the name of Billy Wayne Hobbs.  He had already been caught breaking into his own high school's computers to change his transcripts, and into a couple of government sites as minor pranks.  If anyone discovered the diversion server, they would find Billy's fingerprints on the equipment.

IB2Tap laughed.  The boy would be notorious for a few weeks, at least until someone ran a DNA analysis on the prints.  It was highly unlikely that anyone would be convicted using fingerprints that were made of dog sweat.

Now, IB2Tap thought as he cracked his fingers.  Time to start working on the San Jose Mercury News LAN...

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