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In the late eighties and nineties, programmers had devised ways of storing data by printing it.Primitive UPC barcodes evolved into data structures that were read up-and-down as well as left-and-right.He took a deep drag from his hand-rolled, unfiltered cigarette.The cheap tobacco was harsh; the greasy blue smoke bit his throat and lungs when he inhaled. The cafe was small--tiny, really--only four tables, a family operation that catered to locals.
The paper was pink and, he supposed, had some distant relation to the taste of strawberries. It amused him to smoke pink cigarettes, and he knew that no one would mark him as a secret operative of a foreign service from the colorful paper; in fact, they would notice a man who smoked pink fags, and in so doing, assume that he wasn't a spy--a spy would not do anything as stupid as that to draw attention to himself. Toni and I decided that was not going to happen again." "You could have stayed in the office from then on," Thorn offered. They found out where I lived and went to my home because they had seen or heard who I was from my public appearances." "You surely rated bodyguards? "My advice is for you to do what you do best and leave the heavy lifting in the field to the regular feebs or the military arm. He had his fencing, but you didn't get to carry an epee or saber around in polite society these days, and facing off with thugs was not his forte. "You'll want your own people, of course, but you have a pretty good team here already. It wasn't often he got to play with old-style media these days, what with flash memory and cardware being so cheap, and data disks so wonderfully dense. But that was the way it was in third-world countries--most of the toys they got to play with were outdated cast-offs.As a boy, Jay had had a battered and much-loved Nintendo Gameboy that had featured a card reader.Games were "printed" on the back of the card in 2-D formats and "read" by the handheld. Which made things more difficult--unless he read the code from the exact direction it had been intended to be read from, he'd get nothing. It was bitter, full of grounds, and it had gone cold, but it gave him something to do with his hands. At fifty, even after twenty-six years in the game, he was always a little nervous at this stage.
Death was a spy's constant companion, but Celik had outrun Him every time before, and even though he was slower now than he had been as a young man, he had no reason to believe he couldn't outrun the grave diggers one more time.Swart, a thick black moustache, black hair going gray under a cap, clothes that were old, patched, dusty, but not too raggedy. Michaels, on his feet and apparently packing personal belongings into boxes, came from around his desk and extended his hand. A pleasure to finally meet you, sir." Michaels smiled, showing a lot of laugh lines at the corners of his eyes. Jay Gridley sat in his office and stared at the zip disk. Soon just about the only familiar face around here would be Jay's own. Either way, though, he was going to miss the old crew. Oh, they'd probably stay in contact, but it wouldn't be the same. It was really , too--blocky black-and-white dots portrayed a cartoonlike lion's head, with an even uglier-looking border surrounding it.Just another poor Turk on his way back to his dust farm or small shop, stopping in for coffee before he got back on the road. Outside, a twelve-year-old flatbed truck, a German machine with a hundred and fifty thousand kilometers on it, sat parked on the side of the building that would grow shady when the sun began its morning climb. When they shook, Michaels used his left as well, clasping Thorn's hand in a firm grip, but not a crusher. Which was odd--he had never thought of himself as the survivor type. New bosses sometimes cleaned out the cupboards when they came on board, re-shuffling the deck and dealing in their people. He was Jay people who could replace him--well, at least not on this side of the law. Arabic numerals and script proclaimed "Mosque-by-the-sea Tourist Photos disk 11." At least that was what the neat hand-written print in English underneath the script said.He did not wear a good watch openly, though he had one in his pocket--no point in pushing his luck when it came to drawing attention--but there was a clock on the counter, he had checked it against his watch when he had come in, and it was accurate. The rules were simple: If a meeting did not take place at the appointed time, it was not going to take place. "You will be on time," Hard Ass had said to the class of green trainees. If you are to meet another operative near the new fountain in Ankara at noon, you will there at noon. Jay slid the disk into the drive he had dug up from a storage closet and jacked into VR. In this case, the data on the disk was the ore, and the sluice was a complicated search engine he'd put together with code lifted from the NSA, with some of his own special touches.