“All right,” Graves said. “You may now open your packets.”

Elbows and hands jutted awkwardly at the briefing room table as the participants broke the paper seals on their briefing folders. A destroyer was not a spacious ship to begin with, and packing the room with people had not helped the innate claustrophobia.

“You’ll have time to review the materials on your own,” the officer continued, “but I must emphasize that this is top secret, eyes-only information protected under the Espionage Act of 1917 and Title 18 of the US Code. Penalties for any leakage are severe.” Graves held up and rattled a cardboard box on which bars had been sharpied. “That’s why all your devices are in phone jail and will remain there until we land.”

Amid grumbles and moans, Graves activated the built-in briefing screen. It showed a large circle centered in the South Pacific, outlined in red, with a dot at its center. “Is anyone familiar with this?” he said.

“Point Nemo,” said Norah. “The place on water that is furthest from any land. Pretty close to the sunken city of R’lyeh from Lovecraft.”

“Yes, that’s right. Remotest spot on water, and aside from the occasional ship, the largest patch on the planet with no humans,” said Graves, pointedly ignoring the Lovecraft reference. He clicked a hidden wireless pointer, and a series of small red X marks overlaid the area. “We use it as a satellite graveyard, since they are less likely to hit anything important.”

“Did something unusual crop up in the graveyard?” Jamesson said, adding a sotto voce ghost moan.

Graves pressed his lips together, as if musing extending the sentence Jamesson’s Samsung in phone jail. “Yes,” he said.

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