ROTATING CLEARTEXT WORKS! MUTATION STRINGS ARE THE TRICK!
It was unthinkable, and yet there it was. E-mail from Ensei Tankado. He had been writing to Greg Hale. They were working together. Susan went numb as the impossible truth stared up at her from the terminal.
Greg Hale is NDAKOTA?
Susan's eyes locked on the screen. Her mind searched desperately for some other explanation, but there was none. It was proof-sudden and inescapable: Tankado had used mutation strings to create a rotating cleartext function, and Hale had conspired with him to bring down the NSA.
"It's…" Susan stammered. "It's… not possible."
As if to disagree, Hale's voice echoed from the past: Tankado wrote me a few times… Strathmore took a gamble hiring me… I'm getting out of here someday.
Still, Susan could not accept what she was seeing. True, Greg Hale was obnoxious and arrogant-but he wasn't a traitor. He knew what Digital Fortress would do to the NSA; there was no way he was involved in a plot to release it!
And yet, Susan realized, there was nothing to stop him-nothing except honor and decency. She thought of the Skipjack algorithm. Greg Hale had ruined the NSA's plans once before. What would prevent him from trying again?
"But Tankado…" Susan puzzled. Why would someone as paranoid as Tankado trust someone as unreliable as Hale?
She knew that none of it mattered now. All that mattered was getting to Strathmore. By some ironic stroke of fate, Tankado's partner was right there under their noses. She wondered if Hale knew yet that Ensei Tankado was dead.
She quickly began closing Hale's E-mail files in order to leave the terminal exactly as she had found it. Hale could suspect nothing-not yet. The Digital Fortress pass-key, she realized in amazement, was probably hidden somewhere inside that very computer.
But as Susan closed the last of the files, a shadow passed outside the Node 3 window. Her gaze shot up, and she saw Greg Hale approaching. Her adrenaline surged. He was almost to the doors.
"Damn!" she cursed, eyeing the distance back to her seat. She knew she'd never make it. Hale was almost there.
She wheeled desperately, searching Node 3 for options. The doors behind her clicked. Then they engaged. Susan felt instinct takeover. Digging her shoes into the carpet, she accelerated in long, reaching strides toward the pantry. As the doors hissed open, Susan slid to a stop in front of the refrigerator and yanked open the door. A glass pitcher on top tipped precariously and then rocked to a stop.
"Hungry?" Hale asked, entering Node 3 and walking toward her. His voice was calm and flirtatious. "Want to share some tofu?"
Susan exhaled and turned to face him. "No thanks," she offered. "I think I'll just-" But the words got caught in her throat. She went white.
Hale eyed her oddly. "What's wrong?"
Susan bit her lip and locked eyes with him. "Nothing, "she managed. But it was a lie. Across the room, Hale's terminal glowed brightly. She'd forgotten to dim it.