In London, a BBC technician ejected a video cassette from a satellite receiver unit and dashed across the control room floor. She burst into the office of the editor‑in‑chief, slammed the video into his VCR, and pressed play.
As the tape rolled, she told him about the conversation she had just had with Gunther Glick in Vatican City. In addition, BBC photo archives had just given her a positive ID on the victim in St. Peter’s Square.
When the editor‑in‑chief emerged from his office, he was ringing a cowbell. Everything in editorial stopped.
“Live in five!” the man boomed. “On‑air talent to prep! Media coordinators, I want your contacts on line! We’ve got a story we’re selling! And we’ve got film!”
The market coordinators grabbed their Rolodexes.
“Film specs!” one of them yelled.
“Thirty‑second trim,” the chief replied.
The coordinators looked encouraged. “Usage and licensing price?”
“A million U.S. per.”
Heads shot up. “What!”
“You heard me! I want top of the food chain. CNN, MSNBC, then the big three! Offer a dial‑in preview. Give them five minutes to piggyback before BBC runs it.”
“What the hell happened?” someone demanded. “The prime minister get skinned alive?”
The chief shook his head. “Better.”
At that exact instant, somewhere in Rome, the Hassassin enjoyed a fleeting moment of repose in a comfortable chair. He admired the legendary chamber around him. I am sitting in the Church of Illumination, he thought. The Illuminati lair. He could not believe it was still here after all of these centuries.
Dutifully, he dialed the BBC reporter to whom he had spoken earlier. It was time. The world had yet to hear the most shocking news of all.