Chapter 20

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"So, in short," Angus summarizes, "we have nothing."

"We have quite a lot," Keiran says. He looks around the dining-room table at the others. It is very quiet, as if the whole 11th arrondissement is listening to his report. "We have access to their internal corporate network. That's not nothing."

"But it gives us nothing."

"We have home addresses and phone numbers galore. You wanted to go after the suits? Now we know where they live."

"But nothing culpable," Angus says angrily, as if it is Keiran's fault. "No evidence that Kishkinda is knowingly dumping toxic chemicals."

"I found plenty of documents which seem to indicate that they're not. I mean, half of them are in French, maybe you can correct me, I've only got an A-level and two years of uni," Keiran is being sarcastic, "but these seem to claim that as far as Kishkinda knows, they're not dumping anything, and the soil and groundwater samples they take have chemical levels well within international standards."

"Don't be an idiot. Of course they have documents like that. You think they make the real ones available to everyone in the company? No. Only a very small group know the truth."

"Like who?"

"Like the CEO," Angus says. "Gendrault. What do the files on his machine say?"

"I told you. We don't know. We only have his password. Which is 'chevalier' incidentally. Think he fancies himself a knight? Or he's hoping for a gong? He's got a British passport too if I recall."

"If you have his password, why can't you read his files?" Estelle asks. "Because they're paranoid bastards, aren't they? They use SecurID tags. Little keychain things that generate a new six-digit number every minute. In sync with their server doing the same thing. You have to enter both his password and his current SecurID number to log in as him. Or any of the other top management."

"Fucking hell," Angus shakes his head. "We break into their office and plant bugs and we still don't have their passwords?"

"We've got their home addresses," Estelle says. "That's a start. But we wanted their details, schedules, security plans."

"What I wanted was culpable evidence," Angus says. "Not that I expect the police would actually arrest anyone from a major company. But if we could create litigation risk for them, that would weigh heavily on their share price."

"You sound like you're planning a takeover," Danielle says.

Angus nods. "If we had the money we would. Take it over and shut it down. Easiest solution. But driving them bankrupt works just as well."

"Listen," Keiran says, "I did find something interesting."

They look at him.

"There's a stack of encrypted documents on their network server, in a directory called 'Project Cinnamon'. And not your standard shite Microsoft password protection. Serious public-key encryption."

"Can you crack the codes?" Danielle asks.

Keiran half-laughs. "No way. Your National Security Agency couldn't decrypt this if you gave them a decade. These files are secure. That is, until someone on one of our bugged computers reads them. When they enter the pass phrase, our lovely little bugs will remember every word they type."

"It could be weeks before anyone reads those files," Angus says. "Months."

Keiran nods. "A lot of hacking is waiting."

"We don't have that kind of time. What about their email? That's what we wanted most. Can we read that?"

Keiran sighs. He doesn't like being the bearer of bad news. "Sorry. The Exchange database file is encrypted. Not like Project Cinnamon, but we'd need a SecurID code, again, to read a given person's mail. Or root access to read everyone's."

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