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The Hidden Realm


Prologue
For the third time in as many months the Group of Nine convened in a subterranean room. O nyx
walls, a marble ceiling and floor, ensured isolation from detection or infiltration; protected from any
attack.
This time the US representative chaired the meeting. As always for these meetings he wore the
navy-blue 'patriot' uniform: understated yet authoritative in accordance with the others.
'So, conclusions to evaluation report seven.' He looked across a long dark and reflective glass
table to his appointed second, the Russian representative.
'There have been rumblings of discontent in Moscow over the cyber espionage incident,' the
man replied. 'Intelligence operatives suspect their old superpower foe, and insider bribery.'
'Why not an outsider – a Cyber-mercenary or a hacker just wanting to make a fast buck?'
'No one, they believe, can penetrate their key files, because of such deep level encryption
behind a Fortress firewall,' No.2 said. 'They think it had to be only one of a top level of personnel
with clearance.'
'Sold out, huh, with the chance of a life of luxury – is that convincing?'
'It's not as if they've renounced their culture of austerity,' commented No.3, the overseer for
Western Europe.
No.2 said: 'We carefully selected the most likely candidate and planted the necessary evidence,
removed him and altered his identity.'
'Well, in any case,' said No.4, Eastern Europe's overseer, 'who would ever suspect the man at
the top being in on it?' He then chuckled briefly.
'I am confident no one will ever make the link,' affirmed No.1. 'Only the US has a strategic
interest – and they'd go to any lengths to secure an advantage.'
'Indeed, if only for security – the old paranoia.'
The evaluation was agreed by a majority vote. Stage three had been a success.
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