"Have you seen the latest general policy directive?"

"Sure. Lots of trash. So what?"

"Did you hear that 'informal request' Sam Packard made to the department last week?"

"You mean 'stop them, but keep their secrets for use in further investigations'? Just the kind of hypocrisy I would expect of someone like him. So now we are going to enforce the rules, but gather the loot for Packard and his ilk."

"Wait, it gets better. Today we lunched with Vera and the other real movers."

"Don't tell me they also have a view on this."

"Bingo. You always were my best agent. Anyway, during the brandy and cigars, Robinson took me aside and told me to ignore Packard's request. If necessary, to lie to him."

"Whew! Haven't they got better things to do with their time than harassing us?"

"Actually, both were dead serious. I haven't seen Robinson this serious since the China coup. He meant what he said: don't stock up on nanostuff. Don't try to learn from it. Don't make it easy for Packard and company to start their own lab."

"I can see the point. So now we are going to crack down on the nanohackers, pretend we are secretly gathering information while actually ignoring it? And how the hell are we supposed to do some real work in all this mess?"

"I haven't got the faintest clue. But one thing is sure: some of them are scared to death of the situation. You better watch out."