Systems security specialist Mark Zoubianis was sinking deeper into his futon and scowling at the information on his laptop screen.
What the hell kind of address is this?
His best hacking tools were entirely ineffective at breaking into the document or at unmasking Trishs mysterious IP address. Ten minutes had passed, and Zoubianiss program was still pounding away in vain at the network firewalls. They showed little hope of penetration. No wonder theyre overpaying me. He was about to retool and try a different approach when his phone rang.
Trish, for Christs sake, I said Id call you. He muted the football game and answered. Yeah?
Is this Mark Zoubianis? a man asked. At 357 Kingston Drive in Washington?
Zoubianis could hear other muffled conversations in the background. A telemarketer during the play-offs? Are they insane? Let me guess, I won a week in Anguilla?
No, the voice replied with no trace of humor. This is systems security for the Central Intelligence Agency. We would like to know why you are attempting to hack one of our classified databases?
Three stories above the Capitol Buildings subbasement, in the wide-open spaces of the visitor center, security guard Nuñez locked the main entry doors as he did every night at this time. As he headed back across the expansive marble floors, he thought of the man in the army-surplus jacket with the tattoos.
I let him in. Nuñez wondered if he would have a job tomorrow.
As he headed toward the escalator, a sudden pounding on the outside doors caused him to turn. He squinted back toward the main entrance and saw an elderly African American man outside, rapping on the glass with his open palm and motioning to be let in.
Nuñez shook his head and pointed to his watch.
The man pounded again and stepped into the light. He was immaculately dressed in a blue suit and had close-cropped graying hair. Nuñezs pulse quickened. Holy shit. Even at a distance, Nuñez now recognized who this man was. He hurried back to the entrance and unlocked the
door. Im sorry, sir. Please, please come in.
Warren BellamyArchitect of the Capitolstepped across the threshold and thanked Nuñez with a polite nod. Bellamy was lithe and slender, with an erect posture and piercing gaze that exuded the confidence of a man in full control of his surroundings. For the last twenty-five years, Bellamy had served as the supervisor of the U.S. Capitol.
May I help you, sir? Nuñez asked.
Thank you, yes. Bellamy enunciated his words with crisp precision. As a northeastern Ivy League graduate, his diction was so exacting he sounded almost British. Ive just learned that you had an incident here this evening. He looked deeply concerned.
Yes, sir. It was
Wheres Chief Anderson?
Downstairs with Director Sato from the CIAs Office of Security.
Bellamys eyes widened with concern. The CIA is here?
Yes, sir. Director Sato arrived almost immediately after the incident.
Why? Bellamy demanded.
Nuñez shrugged. As if I was going to ask?
Bellamy strode directly toward the escalators. Where are they?
They just went to the lower levels. Nuñez hastened after him.
Bellamy glanced back with a look of concern. Downstairs? Why? I dont really knowI just heard it on my radio.
Bellamy was moving faster now. Take me to them right away.
As the two men hurried across the open expanse, Nuñez caught a glimpse of a large golden ring on Bellamys finger.
Nuñez pulled out his radio. Ill alert the chief that youre coming down.
No. Bellamys eyes flashed dangerously. Id prefer to be unannounced.
Nuñez had made some big mistakes tonight, but failing to alert Chief Anderson that the Architect
was now in the building would be his last. Sir? he said, uneasy. I think Chief Anderson would prefer
You are aware that I employ Mr. Anderson? Bellamy said.
Then I think he would prefer you obey my wishes.