The security technician held his breath as his commander leaned over his shoulder, studying the bank of security monitors before them. A minute passed.
The commander’s silence was to be expected, the technician told himself. The commander was a man of rigid protocol. He had not risen to command one of the world’s most elite security forces by talking first and thinking second.
But what is he thinking?
The object they were pondering on the monitor was a canister of some sort—a canister with transparent sides. That much was easy. It was the rest that was difficult.
Inside the container, as if by some special effect, a small droplet of metallic liquid seemed to be floating in midair. The droplet appeared and disappeared in the robotic red blinking of a digital LED descending resolutely, making the technician’s skin crawl.
“Can you lighten the contrast?” the commander asked, startling the technician.
The technician heeded the instruction, and the image lightened somewhat. The commander leaned forward, squinting closer at something that had just come visible on the base of the container.
The technician followed his commander’s gaze. Ever so faintly, printed next to the LED was an acronym. Four capital letters gleaming in the intermittent spurts of light.
“Stay here,” the commander said. “Say nothing. I’ll handle this.”