He was here, Kade thought. Somewhere amidst the well-pressed suits and the glittering gowns was the man whom Kade sought. It seemed as though every celebrity had descended upon this bright spinning station in Earth’s orbit. Glass walled the circular room, and, beyond it, a sea of lights sparkled in the darkness, and the moon hung like a gray pearl, so large that it dominated the view in one direction.
Esgarion was said to be the last bastion of real civilization, for the colonies of the moon, Venus, and Mars possessed all the roughness and resilience of the frontier. Esgarion was the Ellis Island of Earth, the international passage to and from the Mother Planet and the colonies. It was also a favorite meeting place of the wealthy and influential from all nations, and the United System events on Esgarion kept a fragile peace amongst the powerful nations who had interests in the colonies.
Such events were the perfect places to hide in plain sight. Of course, there were identity checks and a dozen other security measures, but as quickly as brilliant minds devised such precautions, other brilliant minds designed counter-measures to render the precautions useless. It was the way of technology.
There were also ways to change one’s appearance. Even if Kade had known the man’s features, they could be different now. The man that Kade watched for could be anyone.
There was only one clue to the other’s identity: the large ivory-faced clock occupying one wall, displaying intersystem military time. The man he looked for would be under that clock at precisely 2400 hours, and he would make three errors in his speech by 2405. That was all that the decoded message had said.
It was 2358 hours now. As the wall beneath the clock already included a sizable gathering of guests, Kade decided to take his place there and wait for the crucial moment. One could never be too careful.
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