By Gregory Benford

A small dice of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb.

An incomprehensible item in an very unlikely position; its age,its objective, and its origins are unknown.

Its discovery has unleashed a world typhoon of intrigue, robbery and espionage, and is pushing countries to the threshold of war.

Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it includes doesn't belong in this Earth.

It is secret and madness—an enigma with out equivalent in recorded heritage. it's mankind's maximum discovery… and worst nightmare.

It can have already obliterated an international. Ours is next.

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They graze the backs of his knees as they bank around his husky columnar body. Randy is holding his new GSM phone to the side of his head. Supposedly it works anywhere in the world, except for the United States. This is his first chance to try it out. “All the airlines have those now,” he announces monotonically. ” “It kind of hung there for hours. MIDWAY. ” Randy reaches the departure gate for Manila, and pauses to admire a five-foot-wide high-definition TV set bearing the logo of a major Nipponese consumer-electronics company.

Farther south, the mountains are swidden-scarred— the soil beneath is bright red and so these parts look like fresh lacerations. But most is covered with foliage that looks like the nubby green stuff that model railroaders put over their papiér-mâche hills, and in vast stretches of the mountains there are no signs whatsoever that human beings have ever existed. 01 3/12/03 9:39 AM Page 33 CRYPTONOMICON 33 forested, sprinkled with structures, ribboned with powerline cuts. The towns are accretions of shanties, nucleated around large cross-shaped churches with good roofs.

Avi says, sounding a little spooked. He prides himself on unpredictability. ” Avi rattles off canned justifications: office space is much cheaper in Intramuros. Government ministries are closer. Makati, the gleaming new business district, is too isolated from the real Philippines. Randy pays no attention to it. “You want to work out of Intramuros because it was systematically annihilated, and because you’re obsessed with the Holocaust,” Randy finally says, quietly and without rancor. “Yeah. ” Avi says.

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