Paranoia (152 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 Eight: 82 (Cont'd)

Meacham's goons had brought back my computers and such, which was fortunate, because I needed them.

I popped the CD into my computer with all the stuff I'd copied from Alana's laptop. A lot of it was e-mails concerning the vast marketing potential of AURORA. How Trion was poised to own the "space," as they say in tech-speak. The huge increases in computing power it promised, how the AURORA chip really would change the world.

One of the more interesting documents was a schedule of the public demonstration of AURORA. It was to happen on Wednesday, four days from now, at the Visitors Center at Trion headquarters, a mammoth, modernistic auditorium. E-mail alerts, faxes, and phone calls were to go out only the day before to all the media. Obviously it was going to be an immense public event. I printed the schedule out.

But I was intrigued, most of all, by the floor plan and the security procedures that all AURORA team members were given.

Then I opened one of the pullout garbage drawers in the kitchen island. Wrapped in a trash bag were a few objects I'd stored in Ziploc bags. One was the Ani DiFranco CD I'd left around my apartment, expecting her to pick it up, as she did. The other was the wineglass she'd used here.

Meacham had given me a Sirchie fingerprint kit, containing little vials of latent print powder, transparent fingerprint lifting tape, and a fiberglass brush. Putting on a pair of latex gloves, I dusted both the CD and the wineglass with a little of the black graphite powder.

By far the best thumbprint was on the CD. I lifted that carefully on a strip of tape, put it in a sterile plastic case.

Then I composed an e-mail to Nick Wyatt.

It was addressed, of course, to "Arthur":

Monday evening/Tuesday morning will complete assignment & obtain samples. Tuesday early morning will hand over at time and place you specify. Upon completion of assignment I will terminate all contact.

I wanted to strike the right note of resentfulness. I didn't want them to suspect anything.

But would Wyatt himself show up at the rendezvous?

I guess that was the big unanswered question. It wasn't crucial that Wyatt show up, though I sure wanted it to be him. There was no way to force Wyatt to be there himself. In fact, insisting on it would probably just warn him not to show. But by now I knew enough of Wyatt's psychology to be fairly confident that he wouldn't trust anyone else.

You see, I was going to give Nick Wyatt what he wanted.

I was going to give him the actual prototype of the AURORA chip, which I was going to steal, with Seth's help, from the secure fifth floor of D Wing.

I had to give him the real thing, the actual AURORA prototype. For a number of reasons it couldn't be faked. Wyatt, being an engineer, would probably know right away whether it was the genuine item or not.

But the main reason was, as I'd learned from Camilletti's e-mails and Alana's files, that for security reasons, the AURORA prototype had been inscribed with a micromachined identification mark, a serial number and the Trion logo, etched with a laser and visible only under a microscope.

That's why I wanted him to be in possession of the stolen chip. The real thing.

Because the moment Wyatt—or Meacham, if it had to be—took delivery of the pilfered chip, I had him. The FBI would be notified far enough in advance to coordinate a SWAT team, but they wouldn't know names or locations or anything until the very last minute. I was going to be in complete control of this.

Howard Shapiro, Seth's boss, had made the call for me. "Forget about dealing with the bureau chief in the U.S. Attorney's office," he said. "Something dicey like this, he's going to go to Washington, and that's going to take forever. Forget it. We go right to the FBI—they're the only ones who'll play the game at this level."

Without naming names, he struck a deal with the FBI. If everything came off successfully, and I delivered Nick Wyatt to them, I'd get probation, and nothing more.

Well, I was going to deliver Wyatt. But it was going to be my way.




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