Paranoia (153 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.


I got into work early on Monday morning, wondering whether this was going to be my last day at Trion.

Of course, if everything went well, this would just be another day, a blip in a long and successful career.

But the chances that everything in this incredibly complicated scheme would go right were pretty small, and I knew it.

On Sunday, I'd cloned a couple of copies of Alana's proximity badge, using a little machine Meacham had given me called a ProxProgrammer and the data I'd captured from Alana's ID badge.

Also, I'd found among Alana's files a floor plan for the fifth floor of D Wing. Almost half the floor was marked with cross-hatching and labeled "Secure Facility C."

Secure Facility C was where the prototype was being tested.

Unfortunately, I had no idea what was in the secure facility, where in that area the prototype was kept. Once I got in, I'd have to wing it.

I drove by my dad's apartment to grab my industrial-strength work gloves, the ones I'd used when I worked as a window cleaner with Seth. I was sort of hoping to see Antwoine, but he must have gone out for a while. I got this funny feeling while I was there, like I was being watched, but I wrote it off as just your basic free-floating anxiety.

The rest of Sunday, I'd done a lot of research on the Trion Web site. It was amazing, really, how much information was available to Trion employees—from floor plans to security badging procedures to even the inventory of security equipment installed on the fifth floor of D Wing. From Meacham I'd gotten the radio frequency the Trion security guards used for their two-way radios.

I didn't know everything I needed to know about the security procedures—far from it—but I did find out a few key things. They confirmed what Alana had told me over dinner at the country inn.

There were only two ways in or out of the fifth floor, both manned. You waved your badge at a card reader to get through the first set of doors, but then you had to show your face to a guard behind a bulletproof glass window, who compared your name and photograph to what he had on his computer screen, then buzzed you through to the main floor.

And even then, you weren't anywhere near Secure Facility C. You had to walk down corridors equipped with closed-circuit video cameras, then into another area set up with not only security cameras but motion detectors, before you came to the entrance to the secure area. That was unmanned, but in order to unlock the door you had to activate a biometric sensor.

So getting to the AURORA prototype was going to be grotesquely difficult, if not impossible. I wasn't even going to be able to get through the first, manned checkpoint. I couldn't use Alana's card, obviously—nobody would mistake me for her. But her card might be useful in other ways once I got onto the fifth floor.

The biometric sensor was even tougher. Trion was on the cutting edge of most technologies, and biometric recognition—fingerprint scanners, hand readers, automated facial-geometry identification, voice ID, iris scans, retina scans—was the next big thing in the security business. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but finger scans are generally considered the best—reliable, not too fussy or tricky, not too high a rate of false rejections or false acceptances.

Mounted on the wall outside Secure Facility C was an Identix fingerprint scanner.

In the late afternoon, I placed a call, from my cell phone, to the assistant director of the security command center for D Wing.

"Hey, George," I said. "This is Ken Romero in Network Design and Ops, in the wiring group?" Ken Romero was a real name, a senior manager. Just in case George decided to look me up.

"What can I do for you?" the guy said. He sounded like he'd just found a turd in his Cracker Jack box.

"Just a courtesy call? Bob wanted me to give you guys a heads-up that we're going to be doing a fiber reroute and upgrade on D-Five early tomorrow morning."

"Uh huh." Like: why are you telling me?

"I don't know why they think they need laser-optimized fifty micron fiber or an ultra-dense blade server, but hey, it's not coming out of my pocket, you know? I guess they've got some serious bandwidth-hog applications running up there, and—"

"What can I do for you, Mister—"

"Romero. Anyway, I guess the guys on the fifth floor didn't want any disruptions during the workday, so they put in a request to have it done early in the A.M. No big deal, but we wanted to keep you guys in the loop 'cause the work's going to set off proximity detectors and motion detectors and all that, like between four and six in the morning."

The assistant security chief actually sounded sort of relieved that he didn't have to do anything.

"You're talkin' the whole darned fifth floor? I can't shut off the whole darned fifth floor without—"

"No, no, no," I said. "We'll be lucky if my guys can get through two, maybe three wiring closets, the way they take coffee breaks. No, we're aiming for areas, lemme see, areas twenty-two A and B, I think? Just the internal sections. Anyway, your boards are probably going to light up like Christmas trees, probably going to drive you guys frickin' bonkers, but I wanted to give you a heads-up—"

George gave a heavy sigh. "If it's just twenty-two A and B, I suppose I can disable those...."

"Whatever's convenient. I mean, we just don't want to drive you guys bonkers."

"I'll give you three hours if you need it."

"We shouldn't need three hours, but I guess better safe than sorry, you know? Anyways, appreciate your help."

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