Warren Murphy: Judgment Day

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    Judgment Day
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The new director is ordering the Destroyer and his mentor Chiun to kill Smith, the director of CURE. They are searching for Smith, who is successfully hiding, when immediate trouble begins for the deadly duo, because Chiun doesn't want to agree to the killing. Smith is Chiun's emperor, the man who pays the salary that supports the ancient village of Sinanju. Chiun doesn't know about CURE, just about Smith, and the cash always arrives on time. That's enough. Remo is a company man though, a trained killer who works for CURE, the top-secret agency that doesn't exist, and if they don't want Smith to exist any longer, it is his job to murder him. Orders are orders. But who is the new director? Who hired him and who fired Smith? Could there be another infiltrator? CURE's security has been violated before, and there is always that possibility. There are a lot of questions to be answered before judgment day arrives.

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***********************************************

* Title : #014 : JUDGMENT DAY *

* Series : The Destroyer *

* Author(s) : Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir *

* Location : Gillian Archives *

***********************************************

CHAPTER ONE

He wanted to know if anyone could hear screams from there. The real estate salesman said he had never thought of the property in those terms. Secluded, yes. Pastoral, yes. Fantastic view, most assuredly. Why didn't Mr. Blake Corbish just look around?

"Yes," agreed Corbish. "A fantastic view… but who can see us from here?"

Ignoring the plastic happiness of the real estate salesman, Corbish intently examined the cliffside, from the coves down to the lapping blue Pacific outside the small California town of Bolinas. Behind him the lower slopes of Mt. Tamalpais gently rose toward the sky.

He looked left, then right. Almost a mile down the fragile dirt and gravel road he could see a small white cabin. With powerful binoculars a man down there could see all the way up. A man might even be able to hear with the aid of an audio-snooping device. The things that could be done with electronics nowadays were amazing.

But even more amazing was what could be done with computers. Blake Corbish knew. Why, you could put a whole country on a computer system if you had to. You could program it in such a way that only one man could have access to the final printouts. And if that man was stubbornly selfish with his information, then he should not be allowed to stand in the way of greater good in the way of Blake Corbish's employer, International Data Corporation, IDC. Not even if he screamed.

"As you see, sir, this house, this property is a rare find for someone who wants seclusion and graciousness."

"Hmmm," said Corbish. He glanced behind him at the sprawling California-style ranch house with the large stone patio that was too open to helicopter view, the wide, glaringly open-view windows that faced the Pacific and the surrounding foothills, the innumerable sliding glass doors that a man could run right through if he were desperate enough or stubborn enough.

"A lovely house, don't you think, Mr. Corbish?"

"Uh, well…" Corbish looked down the road again at the white cabin.

"Who owns that?" he asked.

"Oh, you're not interested in that. That's barely insulated, only one improperly working bathroom and the owner wants an unreasonable amount for it."

"Hmmm," mused Corbish. He was in his late thirties, a trim gentleman with clipped brown hair, parted as if with the help of a mechanic's rule, a smooth, slightly tanned face hinting of sailing at the Hamptons and skiing at Vail, a neatly tuned body draped in the elegant simplicity of Brooks Brothers gray, and the strong solid roots of the muted black and orange stripes in his not-too-wide tie. A perfect IDC executive, a model IDC executive, a vice president at thirty-seven. Maybe even the next senior vice president of IDC if there were not thirty others at IDC almost exactly like him on various rungs of the corporate ladder in "the corporation to be in" if you were talking about corporations. And no one talked about anything else in the circles of Blake Corbish,

"Let's see the house," said Corbish in that perfect IDC way that committed nothing and demanded everything.

He endured the flossy enthusiasm of the agent, who described the parquet floors of the bedrooms, the solid stone of the massive fireplace, the new weather control that could create anything indoors from Berkshire autumn to Puerto Bican spring, and, of course, the carpeting. From fireplace right out to patio, indoor-outdoor, and it could take anything from mud to a hurricane and come up pure and clean as the day it was installed. Wall to wall, of course.

"Anything else?" asked Corbish, who did not like the telephones in every room.

"As an executive with IDC, you probably have already noticed the telephones. Well, I must honestly confess, there has been some trouble with telephone service up here. A big storm can put out the phones sometimes. They come up here on one exposed wire. But you can, with your influence, I'm sure, have underground lines put in."

Corbish liked the single exposed line just the way it was. But that was about all he liked. The house was too open, too vulnerable.

"You certainly have made a good presentation," said Corbish. "I'll have to consider it."

"An ideal property like this is sure to move quickly."

"I imagine it is," said Corbish. He moved to the door. There were several other properties he would check out today.

"And there's the deep basement. I don't imagine you'd be interested in that. One basement is pretty much like another."

Deep basement,

"Since I'm already here, I might as well take a look," said Corbish.

"I feel I should explain," said the real estate agent. "You can use it for storage or you can panel it, fix it up. It doesn't look too pretty now. You see, the builder at the time was caught up in the bomb shelter craze when everyone was afraid of atomic war. It's not really a basement. It's a lead-lined deep hole in the ground with special air filtering ducts and, well, it's sort of spooky. We could have it done over as a basement playroom before you'd even be ready to move in."

Blake Corbish examined the deep basement once and told the real estate agent he not only didn't mind the basement, he wanted the keys to the house right away.

"Then you wish to buy?"

"Definitely. And I want that little white cabin down the road too."

"The banks here don't like to give mortgages on second homes," said the real estate agent.

"IDC doesn't need mortgages," said Corbish. I want the sale consummated within twenty-four hours."

"That white cabin really isn't worth the price, if I may say so, sir."

"IDC wants it."

The real estate agent grinned, flush-faced.

"Well, anything IDC wants, IDC gets."

"We use positive corporate policy, yes," said Corbish.

"I read about you in Forbes, I believe, Mr. Corbish. You are one of the youngest vice presidents at IDC."

"There are thirty vice presidents at IDC," said Corbish coldly.

"You're exceptional, according to what I read."

"We're all exceptional."

"Then how do they decide who becomes president?"

"Whoever makes the strongest contributions becomes president. We know, down to the very digit."

"Yes," the salesman agreed. "I've heard that mentioned about IDC, that your advanced computer research puts you a generation ahead of everyone eke in the field."

"Positive corporate approach," said Corbish coldly. He endured the real estate salesman's never-ending sales talk all the way back into San Francisco, thirty miles to the south.

Corbish would not have had a man like that in his organization. He didn't know his job. A good salesman stops selling when he has made the sale. More often than not, he can lose an already-made sale by offering too much information. One should only give a prospect enough information to make the sale and no more.

Information was the true base of power of IDC. Other companies made computers. Other companies designed computer programs. Only IDC had the whole package, the designing, the pure science, the construction and the operation. Competitors were into computers; IDC was into information.

But no corporation could thrive with only one product, and as IDC moved farther into acquisitions of lumber, oil, coal, aluminum, transistors and real estate—not just the purchase of a little Pacific coastline house, but vast tracts of undeveloped land—the executive teams began to realize that they needed even more information. There was a scarcity of knowledge about what went on in those other fields.

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