Paranoia (064 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part Three: 33 (Cont'd)

Goddard turned suddenly to look at her, his great white eyebrows aloft. We all stared at her, shocked. I couldn't believe I was hearing this. She was burning her entire team.

"Jock," she went on, "if there's one thing you've taught me, it's that sometimes a true leader has to sacrifice the thing he loves most. It kills me to say it. But I simply can't ignore the facts. Maestro was great for its time. But its time has come—and gone. It's Goddard's Rule—if your product doesn't have the potential to be number one or number two in the market, you get out."

Goddard was silent for a few moments. He looked surprised, impressed, and after a few seconds he nodded with a shrewd I-like-what-I-see smile. "Are we—is everyone in agreement on this?" he drawled.

Gradually people started nodding their heads, jumping on the moving train as it pulled out of the station. Chad was nodding, biting his lip the way Bill Clinton used to; Mordden was nodding vigorously, like he was finally able to express his true opinion. The other engineers grunted, "Yes" and "I agree."

"I must say, I'm surprised to hear this," Goddard said. "This is certainly not what I expected to hear this morning. I was expecting the Battle of Gettysburg. I'm impressed."

"What's good for any of us as individuals in the short term," Nora added, "isn't necessarily what's best for Trion."

I couldn't believe the way Nora was leading this immolation, but I had to admire her cunning, her Machiavellian skill.

"Well," Goddard said, "before we pull the trigger, hang on for a minute. You—I didn't see you nodding."

He seemed to be looking directly at me.

I glanced around, then back at him. He was definitely looking at me.

"You," he said. "Young man, I didn't see you nodding your head with the rest."

"He's new," Nora put in hastily. "Just started."

"What's your name, young man?"

"Adam," I said. "Adam Cassidy." My heart started hammering. Oh, shit. It was like being called on in school. I felt like a second-grader.

"You got some kind of problem with the decision we're making here, uh, Adam?" said Goddard.

"Huh? No."

"So you're in agreement on pulling the plug."

I shrugged.

"You are, you're not—what?"

"I certainly see where Nora's coming from," I said.

"And if you were sitting where I'm sitting?" Goddard prompted.

I took a deep breath. "If I were sitting where you're sitting, I wouldn't pull the plug."


"And I wouldn't add those twelve new features, either."

"You wouldn't?"

"No. Just one."

"And what might that be?"

I caught a quick glimpse of Nora's face, and it was beet red. She was staring at me as if an alien were bursting out of my chest. I turned back toward Goddard. "A secure-data protocol."

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