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Chapter 1 Earth

His right index finger touched the keyboard return-key, and he paused. He read the responses coming over the Internet. He thought, "This can't be real nuclear detonation controls! They're too easy. There has to be more to this than a password and the decryption key!" On the screen appeared, "Nuclear Detonation Sequence Initiated and Locked." He stared at the words for a few minutes. He mused, "Maybe it didn't work. The best protection is telling you what you want to hear. 'Wonder if this is a ruse? Oh well." He decided not to think about it.

He turned off his monitor and walked outside under the green patterns of a maple tree shimmering in the warm summer sun. He had just committed the greatest criminal act of all time. The whole world would be looking for him, and they would ultimately find him. They would find him because of a pretty young lady in another place, far away. But he didn't know her, and she didn't know him, yet.

Erisa was content. The computer terminal bathed Erisa in a soft blue glow in the darkened room. Her delicately featured face turned from green, to white, to blue, as she clicked the mouse. She was surfing the Internet in idle entertainment. At 24, she had a good job, a great boyfriend, the economy was booming, and the Net had permeated everywhere. The Internet, the one global network, connected everything. It connected every computer, every telephone, every television, and even many radios and watches. She was just exploring, looking for things to read and minds to meet. She came across an Opinions newsgroup on a Rockefeller University computer with the subject posting, "Us canaries in a gilded cage."

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