Paranoia (113 of 170)

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Paranoia
by Joseph Finder
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Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
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Part Six: 61 (Cont'd)

"Excellent," I said quietly. The import of what I'd done was beginning to sink in, and now I felt like a damned traitor to Trion—Jock Goddard's own Benedict Arnold. I had just given the hideous Nick Wyatt the most valuable, paradigm-shifting technology since color TV or whatever. "I'm glad I could be of service."

"I want every fucking last spec," Wyatt said. "I want their prototype. I want the patent applications, the lab notes, everything they've got."

"I don't know how much more I can get," I said. "I mean, short of breaking into the fifth floor—"

"Oh, that too, guy. That too. I've put you in the fucking catbird seat. You're working directly for Goddard, you're one of his chief lieutenants, you've got access to just about anything you want to get."

"It's not that simple. You know that."

"You're in a unique position of trust, Adam," put in Judith. "You can gain access to a whole range of projects."

Wyatt interrupted: "I don't want you holding back a single fucking thing."

"I'm not holding back—"

"The layoffs came as a surprise to you, is that it?"

"I told you there was some kind of big announcement coming. I really didn't know anything more than that at the time."

" 'At the time,' " he repeated nastily. "You knew about the layoffs before CNN did, asshole. Where was that intelligence? I have to watch CNBC to find out about the layoffs at Trion when I've got a mole in the fucking CEO's office?"

"I didn't—"

"You put a bug in the CFO's office. What happened with that?" His overly tanned face was darker than usual, his eyes bloodshot. I could feel the spray of his spittle.

"I had to pull it."

"Pull it?" he said in disbelief. "Why?"

"Corporate Security found the thing I put in the HR department, and they've started searching everywhere, so I had to be careful. I could have jeopardized everything."

"How long was the bug in the CFO's office before you pulled it?" he shot back.

"Not much longer than a day."

"A day would get you a shitload."

"No, it—well, the thing must have malfunctioned," I lied. "I don't know what happened."

Frankly, I wasn't sure why I was holding back. I guess it was the fact that the bug revealed that Camilletti had been the one who'd leaked to the Wall Street Journal, and I didn't want Wyatt knowing all of Goddard's private business. I hadn't really thought it through.

"Malfunctioned? Somehow I'm dubious. I want that bug in Arnie Meacham's hand by the end of the day tomorrow for his techs to examine. And believe me, those guys can tell right away if you've tampered with it. Or if you never put it in the CFO's office in the first place. And if you're lying to me, you fuck, you're dead."

"Adam," said Judith, "it's crucial that we're totally open and honest with each other. Don't withhold. Far too many things can go wrong. You're not able to see the big picture."

I shook my head. "I don't have it. I had to get rid of it."

"Get rid of it?" Wyatt said.

"I was—I was in a tight spot, the security guys were searching offices, and I figured I'd better take the thing out and throw it in a Dumpster a couple of blocks away. I didn't want to blow the whole operation over a single busted bug."

He stared at me for a few seconds. "Don't ever hold anything back from us, do you understand? Ever. Now, listen up. We've got excellent sources telling us that Goddard's people are putting on a major press conference at Trion headquarters in two weeks. Some major press conference, some big news. The e-mail traffic you handed me suggests they're on the verge of going public with this optical chip."

"They're not going to announce it if they haven't locked down all the patents, right?" I said. I'd done a little late-night Internet research myself. "I'm sure you've had your minions checking all Trion filings at the U.S. Patent Office."

"Attending law school in your spare time?" Wyatt said with a thin smile. "You file with the Patent Office at the last possible second, asshole, to avoid premature disclosure or infringement. They won't file until just before the announcement. Until then, the intellectual property is kept a trade secret. Which means, until it's filed—which may be any time in the next two weeks—it's open season on the design specs. The clock's ticking. I don't want you to sleep, to rest for a goddamned minute until you have every last fucking detail on the optical chip, are we clear?"

I nodded sullenly.

"Now, if you'll excuse us, we'd like to order dinner." I got up from the table and went out to use the men's room before I drove off. As I came out of the private dining room, a guy walking past glanced at me.

I panicked.

I spun around and went back through the private room to the parking lot.

I wasn't one hundred percent sure at the time, but the guy in the hall looked a whole lot like Paul Camilletti.




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