Social Engineer - Chapter 16

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Today, 1:10pm

“I have something for you,” said Brody.

Mel looked up sharply, her final spoonful of dessert paused on its way to her mouth. She detected the solemn expression on his face and placed it back on the plate, pushing it to one side and giving him her full attention.

He slowly reached into the pockets of his jeans.

A huge beam spread across her face. “You ’ave something for me?” she breathed, reaching out to clasp his other hand across the table.

“I’ve been wanting to say this since I met you,” he said, pulling a small item out of his pocket. “And I thought this would be the best way.”

“Brody, it ’as only been two months.” She squeezed his hand: a gentle warning. “Please, tell me you’re not going to propose marriage.”

It took a few moments for him to register what she had just said. He hadn’t meant to imply that. What an idiot he was sometimes.

“Marriage? No, of course not . . .”

Her face dropped when he revealed the contents of his hand. He placed the item on the table in between them.

“What is this thing?” Mel asked. Sensing she was in a premonitory moment, she withdrew her hand and wrapped both her arms around herself.

He was relieved she had steered the conversation back on track. “A USB memory stick. But it’s what’s on it that’s important.”

Mel inhaled deeply, gathering herself.

“Go on.”

“On here is video footage taken from inside HTL’s campus in Kent showing intolerable cruelty to rhesus monkeys, all in the name of drug research.”

Brody recalled the sickening images and the physical reaction he had experienced at the time. It was one of the sequences he had edited out from his presentation to the HTL executives that morning. At least, he mused, they had got some value from his pentest, even if he had manipulated Dr Moorcroft into hiring him to carry it out in the first place. Once this footage emerged, they would probably link it back to Brody. However, the contact details they had for him were fake. He had made sure they would never be able to track him down again.

Her brows furrowed and she tipped her head to one side, trying to understand.

“It will help you gain new media exposure against the drug companies. I was talking to Mary last week at dinner and she said it’s exactly what you all need to ratchet up the campaign to the next level. She said you needed one big uppercut . . . actually I said uppercut, but anyway, one big-hitting punch that the media couldn’t ignore.” His words jumbled together in his rush to explain. He stopped talking.

Nothing.

He waited a moment before pressing. “I thought you’d be pleased.”

“I am,” she said. Monotone.

He couldn’t help himself, after all the trouble he’d put himself through to get hold of the footage. “You could at least seem so.” As the words escaped his lips, he realised how petulant he sounded. The whole idea was for her to be delighted, cushioning the blows from the bombshells yet to come.

“How did you get this, Brody?” she asked, warily.

“Before I answer, I want to step back and explain something.”

Mel leaned back in her chair, an obvious gesture to distance herself from whatever was coming.

Brody launched the first barrage.

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