A decade from St. Patrick’s and the terrible events in New York, Cardinal Joseph Ansoni finds himself where he’d really rather not be. But they had to put it somewhere.
Vatican City has many hidden-away places, but most had been entirely unsuitable—they couldn’t run the heavily shielded petabit cables just anywhere. And besides, if you want something to go unnoticed, hide it in plain sight. So it is that an agitated Joseph has arrived at a rather innocent-looking door, down a marble-floored corridor, somewhere within La Città del Vaticano.
He fishes out a key for the mortise lock. There are just five keys to this door, and one of them is held by the commandant of the Swiss Guard. Not that anyone would enquire as to access—this place is far too dull. The lock is new and its mechanism stiff, but the door yields to Joseph, its purpose simply a façade for what lies within.
A small vestibule leads to a plain steel door, complete with a digital lock and biometric scanner. Joseph taps in a sixteen-digit code and slaps his palm down on the scanner plate. An almost inaudible click, and the steel door pops off its latch.
Motion detectors bring up subdued lighting. A good-sized room, albeit windowless, with four workstations, all empty. No surprise at this small hour. Joseph makes straight for a station whose terminal cannot be seen from the entrance.
Seating himself activates the terminal, an iris scan gaining him access to a menu of options—he taps one labeled “Lagrange Two.” A schematic of the Earth-Moon system and its Lagrangian points of nulled-out gravity appears, zooming in on the far side of the Earth from the Sun to reveal a set of markers. Another tap—“James Webb.”
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