Still he continued: "The wall was necessary. It was necessary, okay? Look, we had to. We had to. People say the money could have been better spent-that it didn't need the spikes, say, or the gangway for the guards, or the mote. But I play into people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. In the case of my wall, it is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular-I mean, have you seen it? Beautiful. Beautiful. Wouldn't you say, Coup?"Coup looked around as people started to wake up. "Well, I-I guess as far as walls go-it's a monster, that's for sure. Makes for some great shade. About 50-billion dollars' worth."Nobody said anything."I take it you don't agree," said the President."I'd say your instinct on that is flawless," said Coup. He looked the man squarely in the face. "As always."Tucker just looked back-his large eyes puffy and purple, his brow furrowed. It was pretty clear that he wasn't used to being challenged-on anything. "What's not coming through anymore, Coup?"Abbie yawned and tried to intervene woozily. "Has anyone eaten anything? I'm starving ...""No, no, no. What's not coming through anymore?"Coup pinched the bridge of his nose, already tired with the conversation. "Look, how about we just leave it-""Murderers, Coup. Drug runners. Human traffickers. Bing bing, bong bong, bing bing. You name it. Rapists ...""Murderers and rapists ...""Well, someone was doing the raping, Coup! I mean, somebody was doing it. Who was doing the raping? Who was doing the raping?""Jesus, I was doing raping, can we drop it, si?" said Johnny from Tuscan, and stood, leaving the group.Tucker and Coup looked at each other as Briggs straightened in his chair."Going to I.D. him, Chief?" said Coup, his eyes still locked with the President.And then something thumped against the window and everyone jumped, and when they all focused on it they saw an enormous tri-clawed hand pressed open-palmed against the glass; a hand which moved downward as they watched so that the tips of its claws scraped like fingernails on a chalkboard. Then it was gone, retreating into the gloom-within which Coup saw a massive shape shift and move forward, even as another massive shape crossed opposite it, so that it was clear to him that whatever had touched the window was not alone.