Paranoia (065 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's brows sunk all the way down. "Secure data? Why the hell would that attract consumers?"

Chad cleared his throat and said, "Come on, Adam, look at the market research. Secure data's like what? Number seventy-five on the list of features consumers are looking for." He smirked. "Unless you think the average consumer is Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery."

There was some snickering from the far reaches of the table.

I smiled good-naturedly. "No, Chad, you're right—the average consumer has no interest in secure data. But I'm not talking about the average consumer. I'm talking about the military."

"The military." Goddard cocked one eyebrow.

"Adam—" Nora interrupted in a flat, warning sort of voice.

Goddard fluttered a hand toward Nora. "No, I want to hear this. The military, you say?"

I took a deep breath, tried not to look as panicked as I felt. "Look, the army, the air force, the Canadians, the British—the whole defense establishment in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada—recently overhauled their global communications system, right?" I pulled out some clippings from Defense News, Federal Computer Week—magazines I always happen to have hanging around the apartment, of course—and held them up. I could feel my hand shaking a little and hoped no one else noticed. Wyatt had prepared me for this, and I hoped I had the details right. "It's called the Defense Message System, the DMS—the secure messaging system for millions of defense personnel around the world. It's all done via desktop PCs, and the Pentagon is desperate to go wireless. Imagine what a difference that could make—secure wireless remote access to classified data and communications, with authentication of senders and receivers, end-to-end secure encryption, data protection, message integrity. Nobody owns this market!"

Goddard tilted his head, listening intently.

"And Maestro's the perfect product for this space. It's small, sturdy—practically indestructible—and totally reliable. This way, we turn a negative into a positive: the fact that Maestro is dated, legacy technology, is a plus for the military, since it's totally compatible with their five-year-old wireless transfer protocols. All we need to add is secure data. The cost is minimal, and the potential market is huge—I mean, huge!"

Goddard was staring at me, though I couldn't tell if he was impressed or he thought I'd lost my mind.

I went on: "So instead of trying to tart up this old, frankly inferior product, we remarket it. Throw on a hardened plastic shell, pop in secure encryption, and we're golden. We'll own this niche market, if we move fast. Forget about writing off fifty mil—now we're talking about hundreds of millions in added revenue per year."

"Jesus," Camilletti said from his end of the table. He was scrawling notes on a pad.

Goddard started nodding, slowly at first, then more vigorously. "Most intriguing," he said. He turned toward Nora. "What's his name again—Elijah?"

"Adam," Nora said crisply.

"Thank you, Adam," he said. "That's not bad at all."

Don't thank me, I thought; thank Nick Wyatt.

And then I caught Nora looking at me with an expression of pure and undisguised hatred.

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