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While I was busy reviewing the conversation, Clair asked Jamila, "You think Turner's a good guy?"

"The best," she said.

"Isn't he a little young to be in charge, though?"

"Age doesn't come into it. All that matters is getting the job done."

"The job being to destroy d-mat, I suppose."

The woman smiled as though Clair was asking a stupid question. "We'll pray for you. I know you will come to the right decision."

She vanished through the door and locked it behind her.

"What happens if we don't?" Clair asked the walls of their prison.

"I guess we fake it," said Jesse.

Clair returned to her cushion against the window and sat down, closing her eyes.

"Are you there, Q?"

"I'm right there with you. Hey-that rhymes."

"Tell me what you know about VIA. Who's in charge, where its headquarters are-that kind of thing."

"I can tell you that the head of VIA is Ant Wallace." Information flowed into Clair's lenses from the Air. Anthony Reinhold Wallace was a white man of medium height and medium build, with a pleasantly symmetrical, trustworthy face and lightly greying hair. He had joined the organization as a volunteer twenty years earlier and risen quickly to the very top. He wasn't an overt publicity seeker, but he was active in several public arenas, from urban planning to modern orchestral music. In particular, he was an advocate for increased research into the biochemical causes of depression and an occasional speaker at rallies urging the OneEarth administration to do more to inform the public on the issue.

"His office is in New York City," I told her.

"What about Turner Goldsmith? Young guy, a bit too smooth for his own good."

"I have a peacekeeper warrant outstanding for one Turner Archibald Goldsmith, but he's not young. He's listed as 82 years old."

"Well, that can't be right, unless he's the original's grandson, using a family name."

"His records show no offspring."

"Maybe he stole the old guy's identity, then."

"That would explain the discrepancy."

It would. Label-swapping was much more common than I had ever imagined.

"I need a way to get to New York without being spotted," Clair said. "Do you think you can help me with that?"

"Of course, Clair. Assuming d-mat is out of the question, I can suggest several alternate routes depending on-"

I stopped. Her signal was flickering in and out.

". . . . was that, Q? I missed . . . ."

"There's some kind of natural interference at your end, Clair. I'll try to filter it."

". . . . fading again. What . . . ?"

"I'm detecting unusual readings, Clair."

All my senses converged on the Skylifter. It was a bright speck gleaming in a shaft of light stabbing straight down from the heavens.

As I watched in horror, the light flared brighter still, and the Skylifter began to wobble.

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