Chapter 1: // Dark Pool
Profits in Milliseconds— “Algorithmic stock trading is the future of finance,” according to Wall Street titan Anthony Hollis , whose Tartarus Group employs sophisticated software that responds to market conditions, trading equities with sub-millisecond speed. Due to its extraordinary profitability, Hollis’s form of programmatic trading grew from 14 percent of all equity volume in 2003, to 73 percent of all volume in 2009.
However, critics contend that high-frequency trades —where a single stock may be bought and sold multiple times an hour—only increases market volatility while producing nothing of value .
An elderly man emerged from the crowd and aimed a revolver straight at Anthony Hollis’s face. As the old worker’s thick index finger squeezed the trigger, Hollis sat up in darkness—breathing hard.
He glanced at the clock on the nightstand:
Motionless, he listened to his own rapid breathing.
He started to calm down as he looked around his bedroom. It was illuminated only by the soft glow of large flat-screen monitors mounted on the far wall, scrolling stock prices for the Nikkei, Shanghai, and Seoul exchanges. The monitors weren’t necessary anymore. They were merely a comfort to him.
Hollis took one more deep breath and tried to shake off the nightmare. He was just about to lie back down when the unmistakable crackling of gunfire somewhere in the night came to his ears.
He sat up again.
The phone beside his bed warbled. He grabbed the handset. “Metzer, what’s going on?”
The calm voice of Rudy Metzer, his security director, came over the line.
“We have a situation by the service gate. It’s being contained.”
“What kind of goddamned situation? Who the hell is shooting?”
In the bed next to him, Hollis’s latest girlfriend looked up at him sleepily. She was a third his age. “What is it?”
He ignored her and tried to listen to Metzer.
“Mr. Hollis, as a precaution, I want you to move into your secure room as soon as possible.”
“Are the police on the way?”
“Sir, the estate’s outside lines have been cut. Cell phones and radios jammed. We’re isolated for the moment. I need you to move quickly and calmly to your safe room. I’ll phone you on the landline. Do you understand?”
Hollis absorbed Metzer’s words and felt actual fear. “Yes. Yes, I understand.” He returned the phone to the cradle and stared at nothing for a moment. The screens on the far wall now showed only video snow.
“What’s happening, Tony?”
Kidnappers? Assassins? Two months ago a retired autoworker had tried to kill him in Chicago. Metzer’s men saw the guy make his move, and they tackled him before he could pull the trigger. Some pension fund loser bent on revenge. Tonight’s intruders sounded more serious.
He turned to her. “Relax. Somebody tried to break in.” Hollis got out of bed and put on his slippers and a robe.
“Where are you going? I don’t want to be left alone!”
“Don’t be a pain in the ass. They caught the guy. I just need to take a piss.” He ignored her frightened look and headed to the master bathroom.
He nudged the door closed behind him, turned on the lights, and padded across the Italian marble floor, headed toward the walk-in wardrobe. He opened twin doors to enter a sizeable room lined with H. Huntsman and Leonard Logsdail suits and rows of Edward Green and Berluti shoes.
Hollis avoided his reflection in the wraparound mirrors as he closed the doors behind him. Yes, he felt a twinge of conscience, but then, he didn’t really know this girl. He hadn’t done a backgrounder on her yet, and he wasn’t about to bring her into his secure room. She could be a plant. People were capable of anything for money.
Hollis walked quickly to the far wall and opened the faceplate of a wall-mounted digital thermostat. It revealed an alphanumeric keypad where he tapped in his security code—the exact amount of his first investment. A section of the wooden wall rolled aside, revealing a hidden room whose lights flickered on automatically. The door was solid steel, nearly six inches thick—the reinforced concrete walls of his secure room were even thicker. A sign of the times.
He moved inside and tapped a red pressure switch near the door. The opening slid closed and locked with a dull
. A large bank of monitors glowed to life on the far side of the room above a security console. From
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