Please adjust the frame on the left to read the following story to avoid using the stroll bars at the bottom.

                      "TERMINAL COMPROMISE"
                        by Winn Schwartau
     A high tech thriller that comes from today's headlines!

"The Tom Clancy of computer security."
          Assoc. Prof. Dr. Karen Forcht, James Madison University

"Terminal  Compromise" is a highly praised novel about the  inva-
sion of the United States by computer terrorists.

Since  it was first published in conventional print form,  (ISBN: 
0-962-87000-5)  it has sold extremely well world-wide,  but  then 
again,  it never hit the New York Times Bestseller  List  either.  
But that's OK, not many do.

(C) 1991, 1992, 1993, Inter.Pact Press


"It's all about the information . . . the information."
                         From "Sneakers"

Taki Homosoto, silver haired Chairman of Japan's huge OSO  Indus-
tries,  survived Hiroshima; his family didn't. Homosoto  promises 
revenge  against the United States before he dies.  His  passion-
ate, almost obsessive hatred of everything American finally comes 
to a head when he acts upon his desires.

With  unlimited resources, he comes up with the ultimate  way  to 
strike back at the enemy. Miles  Foster, a brilliant 33 year old
mathematician   apparently isn't  exactly  fond of America either.
The  National  Security  Agency wanted  his  skills, but his back-
ground and "family" connections kept him from advancing within the
intelligence  community.  His  insatiable - borderline psychotic-
sex drive  balances  the intensity  of waging war against his own
country to  the  highest bidder.

Scott  Mason,  made  his fortune selling high tech  toys  to  the 
Pentagon.   Now as a New York City Times reporter,  Mason  under-
stands  both  the good and the evil of technology  and  discovers 
pieces  of  the terrible plot which is designed  to  destroy  the 
economy of the United States.

Tyrone  Duncan, a physically huge 50-ish black senior  FBI  agent 
who suffered through the Hoover Age indignities, befriends  Scott 
Mason.  Tyrone provides the inside government track and confusion 
from competing agencies to deal with the threats.  His altruistic 
and  somewhat pure innate view of the world finally makes him  do 
the right thing.

As  Homosoto's  plan evolves, Arab zealots,  German  intelligence 
agents and a host of technical mercenaries find the weaknesses in 
our  techno-economic  infrastructure.   Victims  find  themselves 
under  attack by unseen adversaries; Wall Street suffers  debili-
tating  blows; Ford and Chrysler endure massive shut downs.   The 
U.S. economy suffers a series of crushing blows.

From  the White House to the Pentagon to the CIA to the  National 
Security Agency and FBI, a complex weaving of fascinating politi-
cal characters find themselves enmeshed a battle of the New World 
Order.   Sex,  drugs, rock'n'roll: Tokyo,  Vienna,  Paris,  Iraq, 
Iran.  It's all here.

Enjoy reading "Terminal Compromise."

ISBN: 0-962-87000-5

          "Terminal Compromise" is dedicated to:

There is no adequate way to say thank you.  You are the super-glue 
of the family.  Let's continue to break the rules. 
I Love You

She  wrote  three books before I finished the first  chapter  and 
then became a South-Paw. 

Welcome, pilgrim. 



  Friday, January 12, The Year After
  The White House, Washington D.C.

The President was furious.  In all of his professional  political 
life, not even his closest aids or his wife had ever seen him  so 
totally  out  of character.  The placid  Southern  confidence  he 
normally  exuded, part well designed media image, part real,  was 
completely shattered.  

"Are  you  telling me that we spent almost $4  trillion  dollars, 
four goddamn trillion dollars on defense, and we're not  prepared 
to  defend our computers?  You don't have a game plan?  What  the 
hell  have we been doing for the last 12 years?"   The  President 
bellowed  as loudly as anyone could remember. No one in the  room 
answered. The President  glared right through each of his  senior 

"Damage Assessment Potential?"  The President said abruptly as he 
forced a fork full of scrambled eggs into his mouth.

"The  Federal  Reserve and most Banking transactions  come  to  a 
virtual standstill.  Airlines grounded save for emergency  opera-
tions.    Telephone  communications  running at 30%  or  less  of 
capacity.   No  Federal payments for weeks.  Do you  want  me  to 

"No, I get the picture."

The  President  wished to God he wouldn't be  remembered  as  the 
President who allowed the United States of America to slip  back-
ward 50 years.  He waited for the steam in his collar to  subside 
before saying anything he might regret.

* * * * *
  Monday, August 6, 1945.  

The classroom was coming to order.  Shinzo Ito, the 12th graders' 
instructor  was running a few minutes late and the students  were 
in a fervent discussion about the impending end to the war.   And 
of  course  it  was to be a Japanese victory  over  the  American 

Ito-san  was only 19 years old, and most of the senior class  was 
only  a year or two younger than he. The war had deeply  affected 
all  of  them. The children of Japan were  well  acquainted  with 
suffering and pain as families were wrenched apart - literally at 
the seams, and expected to hold themselves together by the  honor 
that their sacrifices represented.  They hardened, out of  neces-
sity,  in order to survive and make it through the next day,  the 
next week; and so they knew much about the war.  Since so many of 
the men had gone to war, women and children ran the country.   10 
and 11 year old students from the schools worked as phone  opera-
tors. It was an honorable cause, and everyone contributed; it was 
only  fitting.  Their fathers and loved ones were fighting  self-
lessly and winning the war.  

Many  of  the children's fathers had gone to war, valiantly,  and 
many  had not come home.  Many came home in pieces, many  others, 
unrecognizable.  And when some fathers had gone off to war,  both 
they and their families knew that would never return.  They  were 
making the Supreme Sacrifice for their country,  and more  impor-
tantly, a contribution to their honorable way of life. 

The sons and daughters of kamikazes were treated with near rever-
ence.   It  was  widely believed that their  father's  honor  was 
handed down to their offspring as soon as word had been  received 
the mission had been successful. Albeit a suicide mission.

Taki Homosoto was one 17 year old boy so revered for his father's 
sacrifice.  Taki spoke confidently about such matters, about  the 
war,  about American atrocities, and how Japan would soon  defeat 
the round faced enemy.  Taki had understood, on his 17th birthday 
that  his  father would leave . . .and assuredly die as  was  the 
goal  of the kamikaze.  He pretended to understand that  it  made 
sense to him. 

In the last 6 months since his father had left, Taki assumed,  at 
his  father's  request,  the patriarchal role  in  the  immediate 
family.  The  personal  anguish  had  been  excruciating.   While 
friends and family and officials praised Taki's father and  fami-
ly,  inside Taki did not accept that a man could willingly  leave 
his family, his children, him . . .Taki, never to return.  Didn't 
his father love him? Or his sister and brother?  Or his mother?

Taki's  mother got a good job at one of the defense  plants  that 
permeated  Hiroshima, while Taki and his brother and sister  con-
tinued  their schooling. But the praise, the respect didn't  make 
up for not having a father to talk to, to play with and to  study 
with.  He loved his mother, but she wasn't a father.

So  Taki compensated and overcompensated and pretended  that  his 
father's  sacrifice  was just, and good, and for  the  better  of 
society,  and  the war effort and his family.  Taki  spoke  as  a 
juvenile  expert on the war and the good of Japan and the bad  of 
the  United  States and the filthy Americans  with  their  unholy 
practices  and  perverted  ways of life, and  how  they  tortured 
Japanese  prisoners.  Taki was an eloquent and convincing  orator 
to his piers and instructors alike. 

At  8:15  A.M., the Hiroshima radio station, NHK,  rang  its  old 
school  bell.   The bell was part of a warning  system  that  an-
nounced impending attacks from the air, but it had been so  over-
used  that it was mostly ignored.  The tolls from the  bell  were 
barely  noticed  by the students or the teachers in  the  Honkawa 
School.   Taki  though,  looked out the window  toward  the  Aioi 
Bridge. His ears perked and his eyes scanned the clear skies over 
downtown  Hiroshima.   He was sure he heard something  .  .  .but 
no . . . 

The  first sensation of motion in the steel  reinforced  building 
came  long  seconds after the blinding light. Since  the  rolling 
earth  motions in 1923 devastated much of  Tokyo,  schoolchildren 
and  households nationwide practiced earthquake preparedness  and 
were reasonably expectant of another major tremor at any time.  

But  the combination of light from 10,000 suns and the  deafening 
roar  gave those who survived the blast reason to wish they  had-
n't.   Blindness  was instant for those who saw the  sky  ignite.  
The  classroom  was collapsing around them.  In the air  was  the 
noise of a thousand trains at once...even louder.  In seconds the 
schoolhouse was in rubble.

The  United States  of American had just dropped the Atomic  Bomb 
on Hiroshima, Japan.  This infamous event would soon be known  as 
ayamachi -  the Great Mistake.

* * * * * 

  Tuesday, August 7, 1945

Taki  Homosoto opened his  eyes.   He knew he was laying  on  his 
back,  but  all else was a clutter of confusion.  He saw  a  dark 
ceiling,  to what he didn't know and he hurt He turned  his  head 
and  saw  he was on a cot, maybe a bed, in a long  corridor  with 
many  others  around him.   The room reeked of  human  waste  and 

"Ah . . .you are awake.  It has been much time."  The voice  came 
from  behind  him.  He turned his head rapidly  and  realized  he 
shouldn't  have.  The pain speared him from his neck to the  base 
of  his spine.  Taki grimaced and made a feeble attempt at  whim-
pering.   He said nothing as he examined the figure in the  white 
coat  who spoke again. "You are a very lucky young man, not  many 
made it."

What was he talking about . . .made it?   Who?  His brain  wanted 
to speak but his mouth couldn't.  A slight gurgling noise ushered 
from  his  throat  but nothing else.  And the pain .  .  .it  was 
everywhere  at  once  . . .all over . . .he wanted  to  cry   for 
help  . . .but was unable.  The pain overtook Taki  Homosoto  and 
the vision of the doctor blackened until there was no more. 

Much later, Taki reawoke.   He assumed it was a long time  later, 
he  been  awake  earlier  . . .or had that  been  a  dream.   The   he was in school and the earthquake . .  .yes,  the 
earthquake  .  . .why don't I remember?  I was knocked  out.   Of 
course.  As his eyes adjusted to the room, he saw and  remembered 
that it wasn't a dream.  He saw the other cots, so many  of them, 
stretching in every direction amidst the cries of pain and  sighs 
of death.

Taki  tried to cry out to a figure walking nearby but only a  low 
pitched   moan   ushered  forth.   Then  he   noticed   something 
odd  .  .  .and  odd smell.  One he  didn't  recognize.   It  was 
foul  . . .the stench of burned . . .burned what?  The odor  made 
him sick and he tried to breathe through his mouth but the  awful 
odor  still  penetrated his glands.  Taki knew that he  was  very 
hurt and very sick and so were a lot of others.  It took him some 
time,  and a lot of energy just to clear his thoughts.   Thinking 
hurt  -  it concentrated the aching in his head, but  the  effort   
took  away  some of his other pain, or at least  it  successfully 
distracted him focussing on it.

There  were  cries from all around.  Many  were  incomprehensible 
babblings, obviously in agony.  Screams of "Eraiyo!", ("the  pain 
is  unbearable!") were constant.  Others begged to be put out  of 
their  misery.   Taki actually felt fortunate; he  couldn't  have 
screamed if he had wanted to, but out of guilt he no longer  felt 
the need to.

Finally,  the same doctor, was it the same doctor? appeared  over 
his  bed again.  "I hope you'll stay with us for a few  minutes?"  
The  doctor  smiled.  Taki responded as best he  could.   With  a 
grunt and the raising and lowering his eyelids.  "Let me just say 
that  you  are in very good condition . . .much better  than  the 
others,"  the doctor gestured across the room.  "I don't mean  to 
sound cruel, but, we do need your bed, for those seriously hurt." 
The doctor sounded truly distraught.  What had happened?

A  terrified  look crossed Taki's face that ceded into  a  facial 
plead.    His   look   said,  "I  can't  speak   so   answer   my 
questions  .  . .you must know what they are. Where  am  I?  What 
happened? Where is my class?"

"I  understand  your name is Taki Homosoto?"  the  doctor  asked. 
"Your school identification papers . . ."

Taki blinked an affirmative as he tried to cough out a response. 

"There is no easy way to tell this.  We must all be brave. Ameri-
ca  has used a terrible weapon upon the people of Japan.  A  spe-
cial  new  bomb so terrible that Hiroshima is no  longer  even  a 
shadow of itself. A weapon where the sky turns to fire and build-
ings and our people melt . . .where the water sickens the  living 
and  those  who seem well drop in their steps from  an  invisible 
enemy. Almost half of the people of Hiroshima are dead or  dying.  
As I said, you are a lucky one."

Taki helped over the next days at the Communications Hospital  in 
what  was left of downtown Hiroshima.  When he wasn't tending  to 
the dying, he moved the dead to the exits so the bodies could  be 
cremated, the one way  to insure eternal salvation.  The city got 
much of its light from pyres for weeks after the blasts.

He  helped distribute the kanpan and cold rice balls to the  very 
few doctors and to survivors who were able to eat.  He walked the 
streets  of Hiroshima looking for food, supplies,  anything  that 
could help.  Walking through the rubble of what once was Hiroshi-
ma  fueled  his  hate and his loathing for  Americans.  They  had 
wrought  this  suffering by using their  pikadon,  or  flash-boom 
weapon, on civilians, women and children. He saw death, terrible, 
ugly death, everywhere; from Hijiyama Hill to the bridges a cross 
the wide Motoyas River.

The  Aioi  bridge spontaneously became an  impromptu  symbol  for 
vengeance  against the Americans.  Taki crossed the  remnants  of 
the old stone bridge, which was to be the hypocenter of the blast 
if  the Enola Gay hadn't missed its target by 800 feet.   A  tall 
blond  man  in an American military uniform was tied to  a  stone 
post.   He  was an American POW, one of 23 in  Hiroshima.  A  few 
dozen  people, women in bloodstained kimonos and mompei and  near 
naked  children  were hurling rocks and insults at  the  lifeless 
body.  How appropriate thought Taki.  He found himself mindlessly 
joining in.  He threw rocks at the head, the body, the legs.   He 
threw rocks and yelled.  He threw rocks and yelled at the remains 
of the dead serviceman until his arms and lungs ached.

Another 50,000 Japanese died from the effects of radiation within 
days  while Taki continued to heal physically.   On August 17,  9 
days after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and 2 days after Emper-
or  Hirohito's broadcast announcing Japan's surrender, a  typhoon 
swamped  Hiroshima  and killed thousands more.  Taki  blamed  the 
Americans for the typhoon, too.

Taki was alone for the first time in his life.  His family  dead, 
even  his  little sister.  Taki Homosoto was now a  hibakusha,  a 
survivor  of Hiroshima, an embarrassing and dishonorable fact  he 
would desperately try to conceal for the rest of his life.

* * * * *

  Forty Years Later . . .
  January, 1985, Gaithersburg,  Maryland.

A pristine layer of thick soft snow covered the sprawling  office 
and laboratory filled campus where the National Bureau of  Stand-
ards sets standards for the country.  The NBS establishes exactly 
what  the time is, to the nearest millionth of a millionth  of  a 
second.   They make sure that we weigh things to the accuracy  of 
the weight of an individual atom.  The NBS is a veritable techno-
logical  benchmark  to  which everyone agrees, if  for  no  other 
reason than convenience.

It  was  the NBS's turn to host the  National  Computer  Security 
Conference  where the Federal government was ostensibly  supposed 
to  interface  with  academia and the business  world.   At  this 
exclusive  symposium,  only two years before, the  Department  of 
Defense  introduced a set of guidelines which  detailed  security 
specifications to be used by the Federal agencies and recommended 
for the private sector. 

A very dry group of techno-wizards and techno-managers and  tech-
no-bureaucrats  assemble for several days, twice a year, to  dis-
cuss  the latest developments in biometric identifications  tech-
niques, neural based cryptographic analysis, exponential  factor-
ing  in  public key management, the subtleties  of  discretionary 
access control and formalization of verification models. 

The National Computer Security Center is a Department of  Defense 
working group substantially managed by the super secret  National 
Security  Agency.   The NCSC's charter in life  is  to  establish 
standards and procedures for securing the US Government's comput-
ers from compromise.  

1985's high point was an award banquet with slightly ribald 
speeches.  Otherwise the conference was essentially a maze of 
highly complex presentations, meaningless to anyone not well 
versed  in computers, security and government-speak.  An  attend-
ee's competence could be well gauged by his use of acronyms.  "If 
the  IRS  had DAC across its X.25 gateways,  it  could  integrate 
X9.17  management,  DES, MAC and X9.9 could be  used  throughout. 
Save the government a bunch!"  "Yeah, but the DoD had an RFI  for 
an RFQ that became a RFP, specced by NSA and based upon TD-80-81.  
It  was  isolated, environmentally  speaking."   Boring,  thought 
Miles  Foster.   Incredibly boring, but it was his  job  to  sit, 
listen and learn.  

Miles  Foster was a security and communications analyst with  the 
National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland.  It was part of 
the regimen to attend such functions to stay on top of the latest 
developments from elsewhere in the government and from university 
and private research programs.  

Out  of the 30 or so panels that Miles Foster had to attend,  pro 
forma, only one held any real interest for him.  It was a  mathe-
matical  presentation entitled, "Propagation Tendencies  in  Self 
Replicating  Software".   It was the one subject title  from  the 
conference guide about which he knew nothing.  He tried to figure 
out  what the talk was going to be about, but the answer  escaped 
him until he heard what Dr. Les Brown had to say.

Miles Foster wrote an encapsulated report of Dr. Brown's  presen-
tation with the 23 other synopses he was required to generate for 
the NSA.  Proof of Attendance.

Dr. Les Brown - Professor of Computer Science, Sheffield  Univer-
sity.  Dr. Brown presented an updated version of his PhD thesis. 

Dr. Brown spoke about unique characteristics of certain  software 
that  can  be written to be self-replicating.   He  examined  the 
properties of software code in terms of set theory and adequately 
demonstrated  that software can be written with the sole  purpose 
of  disguising  its  true intents, and then  replicate  or  clone 
itself throughout a computer system without the knowledge of  the 
computer's operators. 

He  further described classes of software that, if  designed  for 
specific  purposes, would have undetectable characteristics.   In 
the  self replicating class, some would have  crystalline  behav-
iors,  others  mutating behaviors, and others  random  behaviors.  
The set theory presentations closely paralleled biological trans-
mission characteristics and similar problems with disease  detec-
tion and immunization. 

It  became quite clear from the Dr. Brown's talk, that  surrepti-
tiously  placed software with self-replicating  properties  could 
have deleterious effects on the target computing system.


It appears prudent to further examine this class of software  and 
the  ramifications  of its use.  Dr. Brown  presented  convincing 
evidence  that such propagative effects can bypass existing  pro-
tective  mechanisms  in sensitive data  processing  environments.  
There  is indeed reason to believe that software of  this  nature 
might  have  certain offensive military applications.  Dr.  Brown 
used the term 'Virus' to describe such classes of software. 

Signed, Miles Foster
Senior Analyst

After he completed his observations of the conference as a whole, 
and the seminars in particular, Miles Foster decided to eliminate 
Dr. Brown's findings from the final submission to his  superiors.  
He wasn't sure why he left it out, it just seemed like the  right 
thing to do.


                            Chapter 1
     August, 4 Years Ago. 
     National Security Agency 
     Fort George S. Meade, Maryland.

Thousands  of  disk drives spun rapidly, at over 3600  rpm.   The 
massive  computer  room, Computer Room C-12, gently  whirred  and 
droned with a life of its own.  The sublime, light blue walls and 
specially fitted blue tint light bulbs added a calming  influence 
to  the  constant urgency that drove the computer  operators  who 
pushed  buttons, changed tapes and stared at the dozens of  amber 
screens on the computers.

Racks  upon  racks of foreboding electronic  equipment  rung  the 
walls of Room C-12 with arrays of tape drives interspersed.  Rats 
nests  of wire and cable crept along the floor and in and out  of 
the  control centers for the hundreds of millions of  dollars  of 
the  most sophisticated computers in the world.  Only five  years 
ago,  computing  power of this magnitude, now fit in a  room  the 
size of an average house would have filled the Pentagon.  All  of 
this, all of this power, for one man.

Miles Foster was locked in a room without windows. It contained a 
table,  4 chairs, and he was sure a couple of cameras and  micro-
phones.  He had been held for a least six hours, maybe more; they 
had taken his watch to distort his time perception.  

Within 2 minutes of the time Miles Foster announced his  resigna-
tions  as  a  communications expert with  the  National  Security 
Agency,  S Group, his office was sealed and guarded by  an  armed 
marine.  His computer was disconnected, and he was escorted to  a 
debriefing  room  where he had  sporadically  answered  questions 
asked by several different Internal Affairs Security Officers.  

While  Miles Foster was under virtual house arrest, not the  pre-
ferred term, but an accurate one, the Agency went to work.   From 
C-12,  a  group of IAS officers began to  accumulate  information 
about  Miles Foster from a vast array of computer  memory  banks. 
They  could dial up any major computer system within  the  United 
States, and most around the world.  The  purpose, ostensibly,  of 
having  such  power  was to centralize and  make  more  efficient 
security checks on government employees, defense contractors  and 
others who might have an impact on the country's national securi-
ty.  But, it had other purposes, too.  

Computer  Room  C-12 is classified above Top  Secret,  it's  very 
existence  denied by the NSA, the National Security  Agency,  and 
unknown to all but a very few of the nation's top policy  makers.  
Congress  knows  nothing of it and the President  was  only  told 
after  it  had been completed, black funded by  a  non-line  item 
accountable   budget.   Computer  Room C-12 is one  of  only  two 
electronic doors into the National Data Base - a digital  reposi-
tory  containing the sum total knowledge and working profiles  of 
every  man,  woman  and child in the United  States.   The  other 
secret  door  that guards America's privacy is  deep  within  the 
bowels of the Pentagon.

From  C-12,  IAS  accessed every bank record in  the  country  in 
Miles'  name, social security number or in that of his  immediate 
family.   Savings,  checking, CD's.  They had  printouts,  within 
seconds, of all of their last year's credit card activity.   They 
pulled 3 years tax records from the IRS, medical records from the 
National  Medical Data Base which connects hospitals  nationwide, 
travel  records  from American carriers,  customs  checks,  video 
rental history, telephone records, stock purchases. Anything that 
any  computer  ever knew about Miles Foster was printed  and  put 
into eleven 6" thick files within 2 hours of the request from the 
DIRNSA, Director, National Security Agency.

Internal Affairs was looking for some clue as to why a successful 
and  highly talented analyst like Miles Foster would so  abruptly 
resign  a  senior analyst position.  While Miles  was  more  than 
willing  to tell them his feelings, and the real  reasons  behind 
his  resignation, they wanted to make sure that there  weren't  a 
few  little details he wasn't telling them.  Like,  perhaps  gam-
bling  debts, women on the side, (he was single) or women on  the 
wrong side, overextended financial obligations, anything unusual.  
Had  he suddenly come into money and if he did, where did he  get 
it?  Blackmail was considered a very real possibility when  unex-
pected personnel changes occur.

The files vindicated Miles Foster of any obvious financial anoma-
lies. Not that he knew he needed vindication.  He owned a Potomac 
condominium in D.C., a 20 minutes against traffic commute to Fort 
Meade  where he had worked for years, almost his  entire  profes-
sional life.  He traveled some, Caribbean cruises, nothing osten-
tatious but in style, had a reasonable savings account, only used 
2 credit cards and he owed no one anything significant. There was 
nothing  unusual  about his file at all, unless  you  think  that 
living  within ones means is odd.  Miles Foster knew how to  make 
the most out of a dollar.  Miles Foster was clean.

The  walls  of his drab 12 foot square prison room were  a  dirty 
shade  of government gray.  There was an old map on the wall  and 
Miles  noticed  that the gray paint behind the it  was  7  shades 
lighter  than the surrounding paint. Two of the four  fluorescent 
bulbs were out, hiding some of the peeling paint on the  ceiling.  
Against one wall was a row of file cabinets with large iron  bars 
behind  the  drawer handles, insuring that no one,  no  one,  was 
getting into those file with permission.  Also prominent on  each 
file cabinet was a tissue box sized padlock. 

Miles was alone, again.  When the IAS people questioned him, they 
were  hard on him. Very hard. But most of the time he was  alone. 
Miles  paced the room during the prolonged waits. He  poked  here 
and there, under this, over that; he found the clean paint behind 
the map and smirked.  

When the IAS men returned, they found Miles stretching and  exer-
cising his svelte 5' 9" physique to help relieve the boredom.  

He  was 165 lbs. and in excellent for almost 40.  Miles wasn't  a 
fitness  nut,  but he enjoyed the results of staying in  shape  - 
women,  lots  of women.  He had a  lightly  tanned  Mediterranean 
skin, dark, almost black wavy hair on the longish side but immac-
ulately styled. His demeanor dripped elegance, even when he  wore 
torn jeans, and he knew it.  It was merely another personal asset 
that Miles had learned how to use to his best advantage.    Miles 
was  regularly  proofed. He had a face that would permit  him  to 
assume any age from 20 to 40, but given his borderline arrogance, 
he  called it aloofness, most considered him the younger.   None-
theless, women, of all ages went for it. 

One peculiar trait made women and girls find Miles  irresistible. 
He had an eerie but conscious muscular control over his  dimples.  
If he were angry, a frown could mean any number of things depend-
ing  upon how he twitched his dimples.  A frown could mean,  "I'm 
real  angry, seriously", or "I'm just giving you shit", or   "You 
bore me, go away", or more to Miles' purpose, "You're gorgeous, I 
wanna  fuck  your brains out".   His dimples could  pout  with  a 
smile, grin with a sneer, emphasize a question; they could accent 
and augment his mood at will. 

But now. he was severely bored.  Getting even more disgusted with 
the  entire process.  The IAS wasn't going to find  anything.  He 
had made sure of that.  After all, he was the computer expert.

Miles heard the sole door to the room unlock.  It was a heavy, 'I 
doubt  an ax could even get through this' door.  The  fourth  IAS 
man  to question Miles entered the room as the door was  relocked 
from the other side.  

"So,  tell  us again, why did you quit?"  The  IAS  man  abruptly 
blurted  out even before sitting in one of the old, World War  II 
vintage chairs by the wooden table.   

"I've told you a hundred times and you have it on tape a  hundred 
times."   The disgust in his voice was obvious and intended.   "I 
really don't want to go through it again." 

"Tough shit.  I want to hear it.  You haven't told me yet."  This 
guy was tougher, Miles thought.  

"What  are you looking for?  For God's sake, what do you want  me 
to say?  You want a lie that you like better?  Tell me what it is 
and  I'll give it back to you, word for word.  Is that  what  you 
want?"   Miles  gave away something.  He showed, for  the   first 
time,  real anger.  The intellect in Miles saw what  the  emotion 
was  doing,  so his brain quickly secreted a  complex  string  of 
amino  acids to call him down.  Miles decided that he  should  go 
back to the naive, 'what did I do?' image and stick to the plan.  

He put his head in his hands and leaned forward for a second.  He 
gently  shook  and looked up sideways.  He was  very  convincing.  
The IAS man thought that Miles might be weakening. 

"I want the fucking truth," the IAS man bellowed.  "And I want it 

Miles  sighed.   He was tired and wanted a cigarette  so  bad  he 
could shit, and that pleasure, too, he was being denied.  But  he 
had prepared himself for this eventuality; serious interrogation.

"O.K.,  O.K." Miles feigned resignation.  He paused  for  another 
heavy  sigh.  "I quit 'cause I got sick of the  shit.   Pure  and 
simple.   I like my work, I don't like the bureaucracy that  goes 
with  it.  That's it.  After over 10 years here, I expected  some 
sort  of  recognition other than a cost of living  increase  like 
every other G12.  I want to go private where I'll be appreciated. 
Maybe even make some money."

The  IAS man didn't look convinced. "What single event  made  you 
quit?  Why  this morning, and not yesterday or tomorrow,  or  the 
next  day, or next week.  Why today?"  The IAS man blew smoke  at 
Miles to annoy him and exaggerate the withdrawal symptoms.  Miles 
was exhausted and edgy. 

"Like I said, I got back another  'don't call us, we'll call you' 
response  on my Public-Private key scheme.  They said,  'Not  yet 
practical'  and set it up for another review in 18 months.   That 
was  it.  Finis! The end, the proverbial straw that  you've  been 
looking for.  Is that what you want?"  Miles tried desperately to 
minimize any display of arrogance as he looked at the IAS man.

"What do you hope to do in the private sector?  Most of your work 
is classified."  The IAS man remained cool and unflustered.  

"Plenty of defense guys who do crypto and need a good comm guy. I 
think  the military call it the revolving door."  Miles'  dimpled 
smugness did not sit well with IAS.  

"Yeah,  you'll  probably  go  to work for  your  wop  friends  in 
Sicily." The IAS man sarcastically accused.

"Hey   - you already know about that!"  That royally  pissed  off 
Miles.   He  didn't appreciate any dispersion  on  his  heritage.  
"They're relatives, that's  it.  Holidays, food, turkey, ham, and 
a  bunch  of  booze.   And besides,"  Miles  paused  and  smiled, 
"there's no such thing as the Mafia."

By  early evening they let him relieve himself and  then  finally 
leave  the Fort. He was given 15 minutes to collect his  personal 
items,  under  guard, and then escorted to the front  gate.   All 
identification  was removed and his files were  transferred  into 
the  'Monitor'  section, where they would sit for  at  least  one 
year. The IAS people had finally satisfied themselves that  Miles 
Foster was a dissatisfied, underpaid government employee who  had 
had enough of the immobility and rigidity of a giant bureaucratic 
machine  that moves at a snails pace. Miles smiled at the end  of 
the  interrogation.   Just like I said, he thought, just  like  I 

There was no record in his psychological profiles, those from the 
Agency  shrinks, that suggested  Miles meant anything other  than 
what he claimed.  Let him go, they said.  Let him go.  Nowhere in 
the  records  did it show how much he hated  his  stupid,  stupid 
bosses,  the bungling bureaucratic behemoths who didn't have  the 
first  idea  of  what he and his type did.   Nowhere  did  Miles' 
frustration  and resultant build up of resentment and anger  show 
up  in  any file or on any chart or graph.   His  strong,  almost 
overbearing ego and over developed sense of worth and  importance 
were  relegated  to  a personality quirk  common  to  superbright 
ambitious engineering types.  It fit the profile.  

Nowhere,  either,  was it mentioned that in years at  NSA,  Miles 
Foster had submitted over 30 unsolicited proposals for changes in 
cryptographic and communications techniques to improve the  secu-
rity  of  the United States.  Nowhere did it say, they  were  all 
turned down, tabled, ignored. 

At  one  point or another, Miles had to snap.  The  rejection  of 
proposal  number  thirty-four gave Miles the  perfect  reason  to 

* * * * *

Miles Foster looked 100% Italian despite the fact his father  was 
a  pure Irishman.  "Stupido, stupido" his grandmother  would  say 
while  slamming the palm of her hand into forehead.  She was  not 
exactly fond of her daughter marrying outside family. But, it was 
a good marriage, 3 great kids, or as good as kids get and  Grand-
mama  tolerated  the relationship. Miles the oldest, was  only  7 
when  his father got killed as a bystander at a supermarket  rob-

Mario  Dante, his homosexual uncle who worked in some  undefined, 
never mentioned  capacity for a Vegas casino, assumed the  pater-
nal role in raising Miles.  With 2 sisters, a mother, an aunt and 
a  grandmother  all living under the same  roof with  Miles,  any 
male  companionship,  role  model if you  will,  was  acceptable.  
Mario  kept  the Family Honor, keeping  his  sexual  proclivities 
secret  until  Miles turned 18.  Upon hearing,  Miles  commented, 
"Yeah, so?  Everyone knows Uncle Mario's a fag.  Big deal."

Mario  was  a  big important guy, and he  did  business,  grownup 
business.   That was all Miles was supposed to know.  When  Miles 
was 13, Mario thought it would be a good idea for him  to  become 
a  man.   Only 60 miles from Las Vegas lived the  country's  only 
legal  brothels.  Very convenient.  Miles  wasn't going  to  fool 
around with any of that street  garbage.  Convention girls. Miles 
should go first class the first time. 

Pahrump, Nevada is home to the only legalized prostitution in the 
United States.  Mario drove fast, Miles figured about 130mph,  in 
his  Red Ferrari on Highway 10, heading West from  Vegas.   Mario 
was  drinking  Glen Fetitch, neat, and he steered with  only  one 
hand, hardly looking at the road.

The  inevitable  occurred.  Gaining on them, was a  Nevada  State 
Trooper.   The flashing lights and siren reminded Mario  to  slow 
down  and  pull over.   He grinned, sipped his  drink  and  Miles 
worried.   Speeding  was against the law.  So  was  drinking  and 
driving. The police officer walked over to the driver side of the 
Ferrari.  Uncle Mario lowered the window to let the officer  lean 
into  the  car.   As the trooper bent over  to  look  inside  the 
flashy  low slung import, Mario pulled out a handgun  from  under 
the seat and stuck it into the cop's face.

Mario started yelling. "Listen asshole, I wasn't speeding. Was I?   
I don't want nothing to go on my insurance.  I gotta good driving 
record, y'know?"  Mario was crazy! Miles had several strong urges 
to severely contract his sphincter muscles. 

"No  sir, I wanted to give you a good citizenship  citation,  for 
your contributions to the public good."  The cop laughed in Uncle 
Mario's face.

"Good  to see you still gotta sensa'humor."  Uncle Mario  laughed 
and  put  the gun back in his shoulder  holster.   Miles  stared, 
dumbfounded, still squeezing his butt cheeks tight.

"Eh,  Paysan! Where you going so fired up? You know  the  limit's 
110?"  They both guffawed. 

"Here!"  Mario pointed at Miles. "'Bout time the kid took a  ride 
around  the world, y'know what I mean?"  Miles wasn't sure   what 
he meant, but he was sure it had to do with where he was going to 
lose his virginity.

"Sheeeee-it!  Uptown! Hey kid, ask for Michelle and take  2  from 
Column B, then do it once for me!"  Even though they weren't,  to 
a 13 year male Italian virgin, Mario and the cop were making  fun 
of  him. "I remember my first time.  It was in a pick  up  truck, 
out  in the desert.   Went for fucking ever!  Know what  I  mean?  
The  cop winked at Miles who was humiliated.  To  Miles'  relief, 
Mario  finally  gave the cop an envelope, while  being  teasingly 
reprimanded.   "Hey, Mario, take it a little easy out here,  will 
yah? At least on my watch, huh?"

"Yeah, sure. No problem.  Ciao."


They  were off again, doing over 100mph in seconds.  The rest  of 
the  evening went as planned.  Miles thanked his uncle in  a  way 
that brought tears to Mario's eyes.  Miles said, "You know, Uncle 
Mario.  When I grow up, I want to be just like you."

* * * * *

"He's  just a boy, Mario! How could you!"  Miles' mother did  not 
react favorably to the news of her son's manhood.  She was trying 
to  protect him from the influence of her relatives.   Miles  was 
gauged near genius with a pronounced aptitude for mathematics and 
she didn't want his life to go to waste.  

His mother had married outside of the family, the organized crime 
culture, the life one inherits so easily.  She loved her  family, 
knew  that  they  dealt in gambling, some  drugs,  an  occasional 
rough-up  of an opponent, but preferred to ignore it.   She  mar-
ried  a man she loved, not one picked for he, but had lost him  6 
years before. They _could not_ have her son.

Her  wishes  were respected, in the memory of Miles  father,  and 
also because it wasn't worth having a crazed Sicilian woman rant-
ing  and raving all about. But Miles was delectable bait  to  the 
Family.  His mathematical wizardry could assist greatly in gaming 
operations, figure the odds, new angles, keep the dollars in  the 
house's favor despite all advertising claims to the contrary.

But, there was respect and honor in their promise to his  mother.  
Hands  off was the rule that came all the way from the  top.   He 
was  protected. Miles was titillated with the attention,  but  he 
still  listened to his mother. She came before all others.   With 
no  father,  she became a little of both,  and  despite  anyone's 
attempts, Miles knew about Mario.

Miles  was  such a subject of adoration by his mother,  aunt  and 
grandmother,  siblings aside, that Miles came to expect the  same 
treatment from everyone, especially women.  They praised him  so, 
he  always got top honors, the best grades, that he came  to  re-
quire the attention and approval.

Living with 5 women and a gay uncle for 11 years had its  effect.  
Miles  was incredibly heterosexual. Not anti-gay at all,  not  at 
all. But he had absolutely no interest in men.  He adored  women, 
largely  because of his mother.  He put women on  pedestals,  and 
treated  them  like queens. Even on a beer budget    Miles  could 
convince  his  lady that they were sailing  the  Caribbean  while 
baking  in  the desert suburbs of Las  Vegas.   Women  succumbed, 
willingly, to Miles' slightest advance.  He craved the  approval, 
and worked long and hard to perfect his technique.  Miles  Foster 
was  soon an expert.  His mother never openly  disapproved  which 
Miles took as approval.

By the time Miles went off to college study advanced  mathematics 
and  get a degree, he had shattered half of the  teen-age  hearts 
within  50 miles of Vegas. Plus, the admiration from  his  female 
family  had allowed him to convince himself that he was going  to 
change  the world.  He was the single most important person  that 
could  have  an effect on civilization.  Invincible.  Can  do  no 
wrong.  Miles  was the end-all to be-all.  If Miles said  it,  it 
must  be so, and he bought into the program.  What his mother  or 
girl  friends  called self confidence others called  conceit  and 
arrogance.  Even obnoxious.   

His  third love, after his mother and himself,  was  mathematics.  
He  believed in mathematics as the answer to every problem.   All 
questions can be reduced to formulas and symbols.  Then, once you 
have  them on a piece of paper, or in a computer . . .the  answer 
will appear. 

His  master thesis was on that very subject.  It was a  brilliant 
soliloquy on the reducibility of any multi-dimensional  condition 
to a defined set of measured properties.  He postulated that  all 
phenomenon  was  discrete  in nature and  none  were  continuous.  
Given  that  arguable position, he was able to develop a  set  of 
mathematical tools that would permit dissection of a problem into 
much smaller pieces.  Once in manageable sizes, the problem would 
be worked out piece by piece until the pieces were reassembled as 
the  answer.   It was a tool that had very definite uses  in  the 

He  was recruited by the Government in 1976.  They wanted him  to 
put his ingenious techniques to good use.  The National  Security 
Agency  painted  an  idyllic picture of the ultimate  job  for  a 
mathematician  - the biggest, fastest and best computers  in  the 
world at your fingertips.  Always the newest and the best.  What-
ever  you  need,  it'll be there.  And that's  a  promise.  Super 
secret important work - oh how his mother would be proud.   Miles 
accepted,  but they never told him the complete truth.  Not  that 
they lied, of course.  However, they never bothered to tell  him, 
that  because of his family background, guilt by  association  if 
you wish, his career would be severely limited.  

Miles  made  it to senior analyst, and his family was proud,  but 
he  never told them that over 40% of the staff in his  area  were 
senior  analysts.  It was a high tech desk job that required  his 
particular skills as a mathematician. The NSA got from Miles what 
they wanted; his mathematical tools modified to work for  govern-
ment  security  projects.  For a couple of years,  Miles  happily 
complied  - then he got itchy to work on other  projects.   After 
all, he had come up with the idea in the first place, it was time 
he came up with another.  Time to move on.

In typical bureaucratic manner, the only way to get something new 
done  is to write a proposal; enlist support and try to  push  it 
through committee.  Everyone made proposals. You not only  needed 
a good idea for a good project, good enough to justify the use of 
8 billion dollars worth of computers, but you needed the  connec-
tions  and assistance of others.  You scratch mine, I'll  scratch 

During  his tenure at NSA, Miles attempted to  institute  various 
programs,  procedures, new mathematical modes that might be  use-
ful.   While  technically his concepts were superior,  his  arro-
gance,  his better-than-everyone, my shit doesn't stink  attitude 
proved to be an insurmountable political obstacle.  He was unable 
to ever garner much support for his proposals.  Thus, not one  of 
them was ever taken seriously.  Which compounded the problem  and 
reinforced Miles' increasingly sour attitude towards his  employ-
er.  However, with dimples in command, Miles successfully  masked 
his disdain.  To all appearance he acceded to the demands of  the 
job,  but  off the job, Miles Foster was a  completely  different 

* * * * *

The  telephone warbled on the desk of the IAS  Department  Chief. 
The digital readout on the phone told him that it was an internal 
call, not from outside the building, but he didn't recognize  the 

"Investigations,"  The chief answered.

"This is Jacobs.  We're checking up on Foster."

"Yessir?"  DIRNSA?  Calling here?

"Is he gone?"



"No sir."

"Good. Close the file."


"Close it.  Forever."

* * * * *

     September, 4 Years Ago
     Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Miles  Foster set up shop in Washington D.C. as a  communications 
security  consultant.   He  and half of those  who  lived  within 
driving distance of the Capitol were known as Beltway Bandits,  a 
simultaneously  endearing  and self-deprecating  title  given  to 
those  who make their living selling products or services to  the 
Federal Government.  Miles was ex-NSA and that was always impres-
sive to potential clients.  He let it be known that his  services 
would now be available to the private sector, at the going rates.  

As  part  of  the revolving door, from  Government  to  industry, 
Miles' value would decrease with time, so he needed to get a  few 
clients  quickly.  The day you leave public service all  of  your 
knowledge  is  current,  and therefore  valuable,  especially  to 
companies  who want to sell widgets to the government.    As  the 
days  and months wear on, new policies, new people, new  arrange-
ments  and  confederacies are in place.   Washington's  transient 
nature  is  probably no more evident than through  the  political 
circle  where  everyone is aware of whom is talking to  whom  and 
about  what.  This Miles knew, so he stuck out his  tentacles  to 
maximize his salability.

He  restructured  his dating habits.  Normally Miles  would  date 
women  whom he knew he could fuck.  He kept track of  their  men-
strual  cycles to make sure they wouldn't waste his time.  If  he 
thought a particular female had extraordinary oral sex skills, he 
would make sure to seduce when she had her period. Increased  the 
odds of good blow job.

Now  though, Miles restricted his dating, temporarily,  to  those 
who could help start his career in the private sector.  "Fuck the 
secretary to get to the boss!" he bragged unabashedly.  

Miles dragged himself to many of the social functions that grease 
the  wheels  of motion in Washington.   The  elaborate   affairs, 
often  at  the expense of government contractors  and  lobbyists, 
were a highly visible, yet totally legal way to shmooze and booze 
with the influentia in the nation's capital.  The better parties, 
the  ones  for generals, for movers and for shakers,  for  digni-
taries  and  others of immediate importance, are  graced  with  a 
generous sprinkling of strikingly beautiful women.  They are paid 
for  by  the hosts, for the pleasure of the  their  guests.   The 
Washington  culture  requires that such services  are  discreetly 
handled.  Expense reports and billings of that  nature  therefore 
cite  French Caterers, C.T. Temps, Formal Rentals  and  countless 
other  harmless,  inoffensive  and  misleading  sounding  company 

Missile  Defense Systems, Inc. held one of the better parties  in 
an elegant old 2 story brick Georgetown home.  The building was a 
former  embassy, which had been discarded long ago by its  owners 
in  favor of a neo-modern structure on Reservoir Road. The  house 
was  appointed with a strikingly southern ante-bellum flair,  but 
tastefully done, not overly decorated.  The furniture was modern, 
comfortable, meant to be and used enjoyed, yet well suited to the 
classic formality.  

The hot September night was punctuated with an occasional breeze.  
The breaths of relief from Washington's muggy, swamp-like  summer 
air  were  welcomed by those braving the heat  in  the  manicured 
gardens  outside,  rather than the refreshing luxury of  the  air 
conditioned indoors. 

It  was  a  straight cocktail party, a stand-up  affair,  with  a 
hundred  or so Pentagon types attending. It began at  seven,  and 
unless tradition was broken, it  would be over by 10 as the  last 
of  the girls finds her way into a waiting black  limousine  with 
her partner for the night.  Straight politics, Miles thought.  

9:30  neared, and Miles felt he had accomplished most of what  he 
had  set out to do  - meet people, sell himself, play  the  game, 
talk  the line, do the schtick.   He hadn't, though, yet  figured 
out how he was going to get laid tonight.  

As  he sipped his third Glen Fetitch on the rocks, he  spotted  a 
woman  whom  he  hadn't seen that evening.  Maybe  she  had  just 
arrived, maybe she was leftovers.  Well, it was getting late, and 
he shouldn't let a woman go to waste, so let's see what she looks 
like  from  the front.  She looked aimlessly through  the  French 
doors at the backyard flora.  

Miles  sauntered  over to her and introduced himself.   "Hi,  I'm 
Miles  Foster." He grinned wide, dimples in force, as she  turned 
toward  him.  She was gorgeous.  Stunning even.   About  an  inch 
taller  than Miles, she wore her shimmering auburn hair  shoulder 
length.   Angelic,  he thought.  Perfectly formed full  lips  and 
statuesque  cheek  bones underscored her  sweetly  intense  brown 
eyes. Miles went to work, and by 10P.M., he and Stephanie Perkins 
were on their way to Deja Vu on 22nd. and M Street for drinks and 
dance.   By 10:30 he had nicknamed her Perky because her  breasts 
stood  at constant attention. By 11:30 they were on their way  to 
Miles' apartment.

At 2:00 AM Miles was quite satisfied with himself. So was  Perky.  
His  technique was perfect. Never a complaint.  Growing up  in  a 
houseful without men taught Miles what women wanted.  He  learned 
how to give it to them, just the way they liked it.  The  weekend 
together  was  heaven  in bed; playing,  making  love,  giggling, 
ordering in Chinese and pizza. Playing more, watching I Love Lucy 
reruns,  drinking  champagne,  and making  love.   Miles  bounced 
quarters on her taut stomach and cracked eggs on her  exquisitely 
tight  derriere. By Sunday morning, Miles found that he  actually 
liked Stephanie.  It wasn't that he didn't like his other  women, 
he  did.  It was just, well this one was different.  He  'really' 
liked her.  A very strange feeling for Miles Foster.

"Miles?" Stephanie asked during another period of blissful after-
glow.  She snuggled up against him closer.

"Yeah?"  He responded by squeezing her buttocks.  His  eyes  were 
still closed. 

"In  a  minute  stud, yes." She looked up  reassuringly  at  him. 
"Miles, would you work for anyone?"  She kissed his chest. 

"What  do you mean?" he asked in return.  He wasn't in  the  mood 
for shop talk.

"Like, say, a foreigner, not an American company.  Would you work 
for them?"

"Huh?"  Miles looked down inquisitively. "Foreigner? I guess  so.  
Why do you ask?"  He sounded a tad concerned.

"Oh, no reason." She rubbed him between his legs. "Just  curious.  
I thought you were a consultant, and consultants work for  anyone 
who can pay.  That's all."

"I am, and I will, but so what?"  He relaxed as Stephanie's hands 
got the desired result.

"Well,"  she stroked him rhythmically. "I know some  people  that 
could  use you. They're not American, that's all.  I didn't  know 
if you cared."

"No, I don't care," he sighed.  "It's all the same to me.  Unless 
they're  commies.  My former employer would definitely  frown  on 

"Would  you  mind  if I called them, and maybe you  two  can  get 
together?" She didn't miss a beat.

"No go ahead, call them, anything you want, but can we talk about 
this later?"  Miles begged. 

* * * * * 

Miles  felt  very  much uninformed on his way  to  the  Baltimore 
Washington  Airport.   He knew that he was being flown  to  Tokyo 
Japan, first class, by a mystery man who had prepaid him  $10,000 
for a 1 hour meeting.  Not a bad start, he thought.  His  reputa-
tion obviously preceded him.  Stephanie was hired to recruit him, 
that  was obvious.  And that bothered Miles. He was  being  used. 
Wasn't  he?  Or had he seduced her and the trip was a bonus?   He 
still  liked  Stephanie, just not as much as  before.   It  never 
occurred  to  Miles, not for a second, that Stephanie  might  not 
have liked him. 

At  JFK  in New York, Miles connected to the 20  hour  flight  to 
Tokyo  through  Anchorage, Alaska.  He had a brief  concern  that 
this  was  the same route that KAL Flight 007 had taken  in  1983 
before  it  was shot down by the Soviets, but he  was  flying  an 
American  carrier  with a four digit flight number.   He  allowed 
that thought to remove any traces of worry. 

The flight was a couple of hours out of New York when one of  the 
flight attendants came up to him.  "Mr. Foster?"

"Yes?"  He looked up from the New York City Times he was reading.

"I  believe you dropped this?"  She handed Miles a  large  sealed 
envelope. His name had been written across the front with a large 
black marker.

"Thank you," said Miles. He took it gratefully.

When  she left, he opened the strange envelope.  It  wasn't  his.  
Inside there was a single sheet of paper.  Miles read it.






The name meant nothing to him so he forgot about it.  He had more 
important things to do.  His membership in the Mile High Club was 
in jeopardy.  He had not yet made it with a female flight attend-

They landed, 18 hours and 1 day later in Tokyo.   Miles was now a 
member in good standing.

* * * * *

     Thursday, September 3
     Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

"DFW, this is American 1137, heading 125 at 3500."

"Roger American 1137, got you loud and green.  Maintain 125, full 
circle 40 miles then 215 for 40."

"Traffic Dallas?"

"Heavy.   Weather's been strong.  On again off again.   Piled  up 
pretty good."


"None so far.  Ah, you're a '37, you carry a sheer monitor.   You 
got   it  made.  Have to baby sit some 0's and '27's.  May  be  a 

"Roger Dallas.  125 40, 215 40. Maintaining 12 point 5."

"Roger 1137."

The  control  tower at DFW airport was busier than  normal.   The 
dozen or so large green radar screens glowed eerily and made  the 
air  traffic controllers appear pallid under the  haunting  light 
emitted  from  around  the consoles.   Severe  weather  patterns, 
afternoon  Texas  thunderstorms  had  intermittently  closed  the 
airport  forcing  a  planes to hold in a 120  mile  pattern  over 
Dallas and Fort Worth.

Many  of  the tower crew had been at their stations for  2  hours 
past their normal quitting time due to street traffic delays  and 
highway pileups that had kept shift replacements from arriving on 
time.    Planes were late coming in, late departing,  connections 
were  being missed.  Tensions were high on the ground and in  the 
air by both the airline personnel and travelers alike.  It was  a 
chaotic day at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

"Chad?  Cm'ere," said Paul Gatwick, the newest and youngest,  and 
least burnt out of the day shift flight controllers.  

Shift supervisor Chad Phillips came right over.  "What you  got?"  
He asked looking at the radar screen.

"See  these three bogies?"  Paul pointed at three spots with  his 

"Bogies?  What are those symbols?"

"They  just  appeared,  out of nowhere.  I  don't  think  they're 
there.   And over here," he pointed, "that was Delta  210.   It's 
gone."   Paul  spoke calmly, in the professional  manner  he  was 
trained. He looked up at Chad, awaiting instructions.

"Mike," Chad said to the controller seated next to Paul.  "Switch 
and  copy 14, please.  Fast."  Chad looked over to Mike's  screen 
and saw the same pattern.  "Paul, run a level 2 diagnostic.  What 
was the Delta pattern?"

"Same as the others, circle.  He's at 45 doing a 90 round."

"Tell him to hold, and verify on board transponder."  Chad  spoke 
rapidly and his authority wasn't questioned.  

"Mike,  see if we can get any visuals on the bogies.  They  might 
be a bounce."

Chad  took charge and, especially in this weather, was  concerned 
with  safety first and schedules last.  In less than a minute  he 
had  verified that Delta 210 was not on any screen,  three  other 
ghost  planes  meandered  through the airspace,  and  that  their 
equipment was functioning properly.  

"Dallas,"  the calm pilot voice said, "American 1137,  requesting 
update.  It's getting a little tight up here."

"Roger,  1137,"  Gatwick  said  nervously.   "Give  me  a  second 
here . . ."

"Dallas, what's the problem?"

"Just a check . . ."

Chad immediately told the operator of the ETMS computer to notify 
the FAA and Department of Transportation that a potential  situa-
tion     was developing.  The Enhanced Traffic Management  System 
was  designed  to  create a complete picture  of  every  airplane 
flying within domestic air space. 

All  status  information, on every known flight in  progress  and 
every commercial plane on the ground,  is transmitted from the 22 
ARTCC's, (Air Route Traffic Control Centers) to an FAA  Technical 
Center in Atlantic City and then sent by land and satellite to  a 
DoT  Systems Center.  There, an array of DEC VAX super mini  com-
puters  process the constant influx of raw data and send back  an 
updated map across the ETMS every five minutes.

Chad  zoomed  in on the picture of the country into the  DFW  ap-
proach area and confirmed that the airplanes in question were not 
appearing  on  the National Airspace System data fields  or  dis-
plays.  Something was drastically wrong.

"Chad, take a look here!" Another controller urgently called out. 

His radar monitor had more bogies than Paul's.  "I lost a  Delta, 
too, 1258."

"What is it?"


"Shit,"  said Chad.  "We gotta get these guys wide, they have  to 
know  what's happening."  He called over to  another  controller.  
"Get  on  the wire, divert all traffic.  Call  the  boss.   We're 
closing  it  down."  The controllers had the power to  close  the 
airport,  and direct all flight operations from the tower.   Air-
port  management  wasn't always fond of their autonomy,  but  the 
tower's concern was safety at all costs.

"Another one's gone," said Paul.  "That's three 37's gone.   Have 
they had a recall lately?"

The ETMS operator asked the computer for a status on 737's  else-
where.   "Chad, we're not the only ones," she said.  "O'Hare  and 
LAX have problems, too."

"OK, everybody, listen up," Chad said.  "Stack 'em, pack 'em  and 
rack 'em.  Use those outer markers, people.  Tell them to believe 
their eyes.  Find the 37's.  Let 'em know their transponders  are 
going.  Then, bring 'em down one by one."

The  emergency  speaker  suddenly rang out.  "Shit!  Dive!"   The 
captain of American 1137 ordered his plane to accelerate  ground-
ward  for 10 seconds, descending 2500 feet, to avoid  hitting  an 
oncoming, and lost, DC-9.   

"Dallas,  Mayday, Mayday.  What the fuck's going on  down  there?  
This is worse than the freeway . . ."

The emergency procedure was one they had practiced over and over, 
but  rarely was it necessary for a full scale test.  The FAA  was 
going to be all over DFW and a dozen other airports within hours, 
and Chad wanted to be prepared.  He ordered a formal notification 
to Boeing that they had identified a potentially serious malfunc-
tion.  Please make your emergency technical support crews  avail-
able immediately.

Of  the 100 plus flights under DFW control all 17 of  the  Boeing 
737's  disappeared from the radar screen,  replaced by dozens  of 
bogies with meaningless signatures.

"Dallas,  American 1137 requests emergency landing . .  .we  have 
several injured passengers who require immediate medical  assist-

"Roger, 1137," Gatwick blurted back.  "Copy, EP.  Radar status?"

"Nominal," said the shaken American pilot.

"Good.  Runway 21B.  We'll be waiting."

* * * * *

By 5:00 PM, Pacific time, Boeing was notified by airports  across 
the country that their 737's were having catastrophic transponder 
failure.  Takeoffs were ordered stopped at major airports and the 
FAA  directed  that  every 737 be  immediately  grounded.   Chaos 
reigned in the airline terminals as delays of several hours to  a 
day were announced for most flights.  Police were needed to quell 
angry crowds who were stuck thousands of miles from home and were 
going  to miss critical business liaisons.  There is  nothing  we 
can do, every airline explained to no avail.

Slowly, the planes were brought down, pilots relying on VFR since 
they  couldn't  count on any help from the ground.   At  airports 
where weather prohibited VFR landings, and the planes had  enough 
fuel,  they were redirected to nearby airports.  Nearly  a  dozen 
emergency landings in a two hours period set new records that the 
FAA  preferred  didn't exist.  A field day for the media,  and  a 
certain  decrease  in future passenger activity until  the  shock 
wore off.

The  National  Transportation Safety  Board  had  representatives 
monitoring the situation within an hour of the first reports from 
Dallas,  San Francisco, Atlanta, and Tampa.  When all 737's  were 
accounted for,  the individual airports and the FAA lifted flight 
restrictions  and left it to the airlines to straighten  out  the 
scheduling  mess.  One hundred thousand stranded  passengers  and 
almost 30% of the domestic civilian air fleet was grounded. 

It was a good thing their reservation computers hadn't gone down.  
Damn good thing.

* * * * *

by Scott Mason

"A  national  tragedy was avoided today by the  quick  and  brave 
actions of hundreds of air traffic controllers and pilots working 
in harmony," a spokesperson for The Department of  Transportation 
said,  commenting  on  yesterday's failure  of  the  computerized 
transponder systems in Boeing 737 airplanes.

"In  the interest of safety for all concerned, 737's will not  be 
permitted  to  fly commercially until a  full  investigation  has 
taken  place." the spokesperson continued.  "That process  should 
be complete within 30 days."

In  all, 114 people were sent to hospitals, 29 in serious  condi-
tion,   as a result of injuries sustained while pilots  performed 
dangerous gut wrenching maneuvers to avoid mid-air collisions.  

Neither Boeing nor the Transportation Safety Board would  comment 
on how computer errors could suddenly affect so many airplanes at 
once, but some  computer experts have pointed out the possibility 
of sabotage.  According to Harold Greenwood, an aeronautic  elec-
tronics  specialist with Air Systems Design in Alpharetta,  Geor-
gia,  "there  is a real and definite possibility that  there  has 
been  a  specific attack on the airline  computers.  Probably  by 
hackers.   Either that or the most devastating computer  program-
ming error in history."

Government  officials  discounted Greenwood's theories  and  said 
there is no place for wild speculation that could create panic in 
the  minds of the public.   None the less,  flight  cancellations 
busied the phones at most airlines and travel agencies, while the 
gargantuan  task  of rescheduling thousands of flights  with  30% 
less  planes  began.   Airline officials who didn't  want  to  be  
quoted estimated that it would take at least a week to bring  the 
system back together,

Airline  fares will increase next Monday by at least 10%  and  as 
much as 40% on some routes that will not be restored fully.

The tone of the press conference held at the DoT was one of  both 
bitterness and shock as was that of sampled public opinion. 

"I think I'll take the train."

"Computers?   They always blame the computers.  Who's  really  at 

"They're  just  as bad as the oil companies.   Something  goes  a 
little wrong and they jack up the prices."

The  National  Transportation  Safety Board said  it  would  also 
institute  a  series of preventative maintenance steps  on  other 
airplanes' computer systems to insure that such a global  failure 
is never repeated.   

Major  domestic airlines announced they would try to lease  addi-
tional planes from other countries, but could not guarantee prior 
service  performance  for 3 to 6 months.   Preliminary  estimates 
place  the  cost of this debacle at between $800 Million  and  $2 
Billion if the entire 737 fleet is grounded for only 2 weeks.

The  Stock Market reacted poorly to the news, and  transportation 
stocks dove an average of 27% in heavy trading.

The  White  House  issued a brief  statement  congratulating  the 
airline industry for its handling of the situation and wished its 
best to all inconvenienced and injured travelers.

Class  action suits will be filed next week against the  airlines 
and Boeing as a result of the computer malfunction. This is Scott 
Mason, riding the train.

* * * * *

"Doug,"  pleaded 39 year old veteran reporter Scott Mason.   "Not 
another  computer virus story . . ."   Scott childishly  shrugged 
his shoulders in mock defeat.  

"Stop your whining," Doug ordered in fun.  "You are the  special-
ist," he chided.

When the story first came across the wire, Scott was the  logical 
choice.   In only seven years as a reporter Scott Mason  had  de-
veloped quite a reputation for himself, and for the New York City 
Times.   Doug  had had to eat his words from years  earlier  more 
times than he cared to remember, but Scott's head had not swelled 
to  the size of his fan club, which was the bane of so many  suc-
cessful writers. He knew he was good, just like he had told Doug

"There is nothing sexy about viruses anymore," said Scott  trying 
to politely ignore his boss to the point he would just leave.  

"Christ  Almighty," the chubby balding sixtyish editor  exploded.  
Doug's  periodic exclamatory outbursts at Scott's nonchalance  on 
critical issues were legendary.  "The man who puts Cold Fusion on 
the  front  page of every paper in the country  doesn't  think  a 
virus is sexy enough for the public.  Good night!"

"That's not what I'm saying."  Scott had to defend this one.   "I 
finally  got someone to go on the record about the  solar  payoff 
scandals between Oil and Congress . . ."

"Then the virus story will give you a little break," kidded Doug.  
"You've been working too hard."

"Damn  it, Doug," Scott defied.  "Viruses are a dime a dozen  and 
worse,  there's no one behind it, there's nobody there.   There's 
no story  . . ."

"Then  find one.  That's what we pay you for."  Doug loudly  mut-
tered  a few choice words that his paper wouldn't be caught  dead 
printing.   "Besides, you're the only one left."  As he  left  he 
patted Scott on the back saying, "thanks.  Really."

"God, I hate this job."  

Scott  Mason loved his job, after all it was his invention  seven 
years  ago  when he first pitched it to Doug.   Scott's  original 
idea had worked.  Scott Mason alone, under the banner of the  New 
York  City Times, virtually pioneered Scientific Journalism as  a 
media form in its own right.

Scott  Mason was still its most vocal proponent, just as  he  was 
when  he connived his way into a job with the Times, and  without 
any journalistic experience.  It was a childhood fantasy.  

Doug remembered the day clearly.  "That's a new one on me,"  Doug 
had said with amusement when the mildly arrogant but very likable 
Mason  had  gotten  cornered him,  somehow  bypassing  personnel.  
Points  for aggressiveness, points for creativity and points  for 
brass balls.  "What is Scientific Journalism?"

"Scientific Journalism is stripping away all of the long  techni-
cal  terms that science hides behind, and bringing the  facts  to 
the people at home."

"We   have   a  quite  adequate  Science  Section,   a   computer 
column  . . .and we pick up the big stories."  Doug had tried  to 
be polite.

"That's  not what I mean," Scott explained.  "Everybody  and  his 
dead  brother can write about the machines and the computers  and 
the software.  I'm talking about finding the people, the meaning, 
the impact behind the technology."

"No one would be interested," objected Doug.

Doug was wrong.  

Scott  Mason immediately acclimated to the modus operandi of  the 
news  business  and actually locked onto the collapse  of  Kaypro 
Computers and the odd founding family who rode serendipity  until 
competence  was  required for survival.   The antics of  the  Kay 
family  earned Mason a respectable following in his articles  and 
contributions as well as several libel and slander suits from the 
Kays.   Trouble was, it's not against the law to print the  truth  
or a third party speculations, as long as they're not  malicious.  
Scott instinctively knew how to ride the fine edge between  false 
accusations and impersonal objectivity.  

Cold  Fusion, the brief prayer for immediate, cheap energy  inde-
pendence made headlines, but Scott Mason dug deep and found  that 
some  of  the advocates of Cold Fusion had  vested  interests  in 
palladium  and iridium mining concerns.  He also  discovered  how 
the experiments had been staged well enough to fool most experts.  
Scott  had located one expert who wasn't fooled and  could  prove 
it.   Scott  Mason rode the crest of the Cold  Fusion  story  for 
months before it became old news and the Hubble Telescope  fiasco 
took its place.

The  fiasco  of  the Hubble Telescope was nothing  new  to  Scott 
Mason's readers.  He had published months before its launch  that 
the  mirrors were defective, but the government didn't  heed  the 
whistle blower's advice.  The optical measurement computers which 
grind  the mirrors of the telescope had a software  program  that 
was  never tested before being used on the Hubble.  The  GSA  had 
been  tricked by the contractor's test results and Scott  discov-
ered the discrepencies.  

When  Gene-Tech  covered  up the accidental  release  of  mutated 
spores  into the atmosphere from their genetic engineering  labs,   
Scott Mason was the one reporter who had established enough of  a 
reputation as both a fair reporter, and also one that  understood 
the technology.  Thanks to Mason's early diagnosis and the Times' 
responsible publishing, a potentially cataclysmic genetic  disas-
ter was averted.

The  software problems with Star Wars and Brilliant Pebbles,  the 
payoffs that allowed defective X-Ray lasers to be shipped to  the 
testing ground outside of Las Vegas - Scott Mason was there.   He 
traced  the  Libyan chemical weapons plant back to  West  Germany 
which triggered the subsequent destruction of the plant.

Scott's  outlook was simple.  "It's a matter of  recognizing  the 
possibilities  and then the probabilities.  Therefore,  if  some-
thing  is possible, someone, somewhere will do  it.   Guaranteed.  
Since someone's doing it, then it's only a matter of catching him 
in the act."

"Besides," he would tell anyone who would listen, "computers  and 
technology and electronics represent  trillions of dollars  annu-
ally.   To believe that there isn't interesting,  human  interest 
and  profound news to be found, is pure blindness.  The  fear  of 
the  unknown, the ignorance of what happens on the other side  of 
the buttons we push, is an enemy wrapped in the shrouds of  time, 
well disguised and easily avoided." 

Scott  successfully opened the wounds of ignorance and  technical 
apathy and made he and the Times the de facto standard in  Scien-
tific Journalism.

His reputation as a expert in anything technical endeared him  to 
fellow Times' reporters.  Scott often became the technical  back-
bone of articles that did not carry his name.  But that was good.  
The journalists' barter system.  Scott Mason was not considered a 
competitor to the other reporters because of his areas of  inter-
est  and  the skills he brought with him to the paper.   And,  he 
didn't flaunt his knowledge.  To Scott's way of thinking, techni-
cal  fluency  should be as required as are the ABC's, so  it  was 
with the dedication of a teacher and the experience of  simplifi-
cation  that Scott undertook it to openly help anyone who  wanted 
to learn.  His efforts were deeply appreciated. 


                            Chapter 2
     Friday, September 4
     San Francisco, California

Mr. Henson?"

"Yes, Maggie?"  Henson responded over the hands free phone on his 
highly  polished black marble desk.  He never looked up from  the 
papers he was perusing.

"There's a John Fullmaster for you."

"Who?" he asked absent mindedly.

"Ah, John Fullmaster."

"I don't know a Fullman do I?  Who is he?"  

"That's Fullmaster, sir, and he says its personal."

Robert  Henson, chairman and CEO of Perris, Miller and  Stevenson 
leaned  back in the plush leather chair.  A brief perplexed  look 
covered  his  face and then a sigh of resignation.   "Very  well, 
tell him I'll take it in a minute."

As the young highly visible leader of one of the most  successful 
Wall  Street investment banking firms during the merger mania  of 
the 1980's, he had grown accustomed to cold calls from aggressive 
young  brokers  who wanted a chance to pitch him  on  sure  bets.  
Most  often he simply ignored the calls, or referred them to  his 
capable and copious staff.  Upon occasion, though, he would amuse 
himself with such calls by putting the caller through  salesmen's 
hell;  he would permit them to give their pitch,  actually  sound 
interested, permit the naive to believe that their call to Robert 
Henson would lead them to a pot of gold, then only to bring  them 
down  as harshly as he could.  It was the only seeming  diversion 
Robert Henson had from the daily grueling regimen of earning  fat 
fees  in the most somber of Wall Street activities.  He needed  a 
break anyway.  

"Robert  Henson.  May I help you?"  He said into the  phone.   It 
was  as  much a command as a question.  From the 46th.  floor  SW 
corner  office, Henson stared out over Lower New York  Bay  where 
the Statue of Liberty reigned.

"Thank  you for taking my call Mr. Henson."  The caller's  proper 
Central  London  accent was engaging and conveyed  assurance  and 
propriety. "I am calling in reference to the proposed merger  you 
are  arranging between Second Boston Financial and Winston  Ellis 
Services.   I don't believe that the SEC will be  impressed  with 
the  falsified figures you have generated to drive up your  fees.  
Don't you agree."  

Henson  bolted  upright in his chair and glared into  the  phone. 
"Who the hell is this?" he demanded.

"Merely a concerned citizen, sir."  The cheeky caller paused.  "I 
asked, sir, don't you agree?"

"Listen,"  Henson shouted into the phone.  I don't know  who  the 
hell  you are, nor what you want, but all filings made  with  the 
SEC  are public and available to anyone.  Even the press  whom  I 
assume you represent . . ."

"I am not with the press Mr. Henson," the voice calmly interrupt-
ed.  "All  the same, I am sure that they would be quite interest-
ed  in  what I have to say.  Or, more precisely, what I  have  to 
show them."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Henson screamed.

"Specifically,  you inflated the earnings of Winston  Ellis  over  
40%  by burying certain write downs and deferred losses.   I  be-
lieve  you are familiar with the numbers.  Didn't you  have  them 
altered yourself?"

Henson  paled  as the caller spoke to him matter of  factly.  His 
eyes  darted  around his spacious and opulent  office  as  though 
someone  might be listening.  He shifted uneasily  in his  chair, 
leaned into the phone and spoke quietly.

"I don't know what you're taking about."

"I think you do, Mr. Henson."

"What do you want?"  Henson asked cautiously.

"Merely  your acknowledgment, to me, right now, that the  figures 
were falsified, at your suggestion, and . . ."

"I admit nothing.  Nothing."  Henson hung up the phone.

Shaken,  he dialed the phone, twice.  In his haste  he  misdialed 
the first time.  "Get me Brocker. Now. This is Henson."

"Brocker," the other end of the phone responded nonchalantly.

"Bill, Bob here.  We got troubles."

* * * * * 

"Senator  Rickfield?   I think you better take this  call."   Ken 
Boyers was earnest in his suggestion.  The aged Senator looked up 
and  recognized a certain urgency.  The youthful 50 year old  Ken 
Boyers  had  been with Senator Merrill Rickfield  since  the  mid 
1960's  as an aide de campe, a permanent fixture  in  Rickfield's 
national  success.  Ken preferred the number two spot, to be  the 
man  in  the background rather the one in the public  light.   He 
felt he could more effectively wield power  without the  constant 
surveillance  of  the  press.  Only when events  and  deals  were 
completely  orchestrated were they made public, and then  Merrill 
could take the  credit. The arrangement suited them both.

Rickfield  indicated that his secretary and the two  junior  aids 
should leave the room.  "What is it Ken?"

"Just take the call, listen carefully, and then we'll talk."

"Who is  it, Ken. I don't talk to every. . ."

"Merrill  .  . .pick up the phone." It was an  order.   They  had 
worked together long enough to afford Ken the luxury of  ordering 
a U.S. Senator around.  

"This  is  Senator Rickfield, may I help  you?"   The  solicitous 
campaign voice, smiling and inviting,  disguised the puzzled look 
he  gave  his senior aide.  Within a few seconds  the  puzzlement 
gave  way  to open mouthed silent shock and  then,  only  moments 
later  to  overt fear.  He stared with disbelief at  Ken  Boyers.  
Aghast, he gently put the phone back in its cradle.

"Ken," Rickfield haltingly spoke. "Who the hell was that and  how 
in  blazes did he know about the deal with Credite Suisse?   Only 
you, me and General Young knew."  He rose slowly rose and  looked 
accusingly at Ken.

"C'mon Merrill, I have as much to lose as you."

"The  hell  you do."  He was growling. "I'm  a  respected  United 
States  Senator.  They can string me up from the highest  yardarm 
just  like they did Nixon and I'm not playing to lose.   Besides, 
I'm the one the public knows while you're invisible. It's my  ass 
and  you know it.  Now, and I mean now, tell me what the hell  is 
going on?  There were only three of us . . ."

"And  the bank," Ken quickly interjected to deflect   the  verbal 

"Screw the bank.  They use numbers.  Numbers, Ken.  That was  the 
plan.   But this son  of a bitch knew the numbers.  Damn  it,  he 
knew the numbers Ken!"

"Merrill, calm down."

"Calm down?  You have some nerve to tell me to calm down.  Do you 
know  what  would happen if anyone, and I mean anyone  finds  out 
about  .  .  ."  Rickfield looked around and  thought  better  of 
finishing the sentence.

"Yes I know.  As well as you do.  Jesus Christ, I helped set  the 
whole thing up.  Remember?"  He approached Merrill Rickfield  and 
touched  the Senator's shoulder. "Maybe it's a hoax?   Just  some 
lucky guess by some scum bag who . . ."

"Bullshit." The senator turned abruptly.  "I want a tee off  time 
as  soon  as  possible.  Even sooner.  And make  damn  sure  that 
bastard Young is there.  Alone.  It's a threesome."

* * * * *

John  Faulkner was lazing at his estate  in the eminently  exclu-
sive, obscenely expensive Bell Canyon, twenty miles north of  Los 
Angeles.   Even though it was Monday, he just wasn't up to  going 
into   the  office.  As Executive Vice  President  of  California 
National Bank, with over twenty billion in assets, he could  pick 
and choose his hours.  This Tuesday he chose  to read by the pool 
and  enjoy the warm and clear September California  morning.  The 
view  of  the San Gabriel mountains was so distracting  that  his 
normal thirty minute scan of the Wall Street Journal took  nearly 
two hours.  

His estate was the one place where Faulkner was guaranteed priva-
cy  and anonymity.  High profile Los Angeles banking  required  a 
social  presence and his face, along with his wife's, graced  the 
social  pages  every  time an event of any  gossip-magnitude  oc-
curred.  He craved his private time.

Faulkner's  standing instruction with his secretary was never  to 
call  him  at home unless "the bank is nuked, or  I  die"   which 
when translated meant, "Don't call me, I'll call you."  His  wife 
was  the  only  other person with the  private  phone  number  he 
changed every month to insure his solitude.

The  phone rang.  It never rang.  At least not in recent  memory.  
He  used it to dial out; but it was never used to receive  calls.  
The  warble  surprised him so, that he let it  ring  three  times 
before suspiciously picking it up.  Damn  it, he thought.  I just 
got a new number last week. I'll have to  have it changed again. 

"Hello?" he asked suspiciously.

"Good  morning Mr. Faulkner. I just called to let you  know  that 
your  secret is safe with me."  Faulkner itched to  identify  the 
voice behind the well educated British accent, but that  fleeting 
thought dissipated at the import of the words being spoken.

"Who  is this? What secret?"

"Oh,  dear me. I am sorry, where are my manners.  I am  referring 
to  the millions you have embezzled from your own bank  to  cover  
your  gambling  losses last  year.  Don't worry. I won't  tell  a 
soul."  The line went dead.

Sir George dialed the next number on his list after scanning  the 
profile.   The phone was answered by a timid sounding  gentleman. 
Sir George began his fourth pitch of the day.  "Mr. Hugh Sidneys?  
I would like to talk to you about a small banking problem I think 
you have . . ."

Sir  George  Sterling made another thirty four  calls  that  day.  
Each  one alarmingly similar to the first three.  Not  that  they 
alarmed him.  They merely alarmed, often severely, the recipients 
of his calls.  In most cases he had never heard of the persons he 
was calling, and the contents of his messages were often  cryptic 
to  him.  But it didn't take him long to realize that every  call 
was  some form of veiled, or not so veiled threat.  But  his  in-
structions  had been clear.  Do not threaten.  Just pass  on  the 
contents of the messages on his list to their designees.  Do  not 
leave  any  message unless he had confirmed, to the best  of  his 
ability  that he was actually speaking to the party in  question.  
If  he received any trouble in reaching his intended targets,  by 
secretaries  or aides, he was only to pass on a preliminary  mes-
sage.   These were especially cryptic, but in all cases,  perhaps 
with a little prod, his call was put through. 

At  the end of the first day of his assignment, Sir George  Ster-
ling  walked onto his balcony overlooking San Francisco  Bay  and 
reflected on his good fortune.  If he hadn't been stuck in Athens 
last  year, wondering where his next score would come from.   How 
strange the world works, he thought.  Damn lucky he became a Sir, 
and at the tender age of twenty nine at that.

His  title,  actually purchased from The  Royal  Title  Assurance 
Company,  Ltd. in London in 1987 for a mere 5000 pounds had  per-
mitted George Toft to leave the perennial industrial smog of  the 
eternally drizzly commonness of Manchester, England and assume  a 
new  identity.   It  was one of the few ways out  of  the  dismal 
existence that generations before him had tolerated with a  stiff 
upper  lip.    As a petty thief he had done  'awright',  but  one 
score had left him with more money than he had ever seen. That is 
when he became a Sir, albeit one purchased.  

He spent several months impressing mostly himself as he  traveled 
Europe.  With the help of Eliza Doolittle,  Sir George  perfected 
his  adapted upper crust London accent.  His natural  speech  was 
that  of  a Liverpuddlian with a bag of marbles in  his  mouth  - 
totally unintelligible when drunk.  But his royal speech was  now 
that  of a Gentleman from the House of Lords.  Slow  and  precise 
when  appropriate  or a practiced articulateness   when  speaking 
rapidly.  It initially took some effort, but he could now correct 
his  slips instantly. No one noticed anymore.  Second  nature  it 
became for George Sterling, n<130> Toft.

Athens was the end of his tour and where he had spent the last of 
his  money.  George, Sir George, sat sipping Metaxa  in  Sintigma 
Square  next to the Royal Gardens and the imposing  Hotel  Grande 
Britagne  styled  in nineteenth century rococo  elegance.  As  he 
enjoyed the balmy spring Athens evening pondering his next  move, 
as  either  George Toft of Sir George Sterling,  a  well  dressed 
gentleman sat down at his tiny wrought iron table. 

"Sir George?"  The visitor offered his hand.

George  extended  his hand, not yet aware that his guest  had  no 
reason whatsoever to know who he was. 

"Sir  George?  Do I have the Sir George Sterling  of  Briarshire, 
Essex?"   The accent was trans European.  Internationally  cosmo-
politan.   German? Dutch? It didn't matter, Sir George  had  been 

George  rose  slightly.  "Yes, yes. Of course. Excuse me,  I  was 
lost  in  thought, you know.  Sir George  Sterling.   Of  course. 
Please do be seated."

The  stranger said, "Sir George, would you be offended if  I  of-
fered  you another drink, and perhaps took a few minutes of  your 
valuable time?"  The man smiled genuinely and sat himself  across 
from George before any reply.  He knew what the answer would be.

"Please  be seated.  Metaxa would it be for you, sir?"   The  man 
nodded  yes.  "Garcon?"  George waved two fingers at one  of  the 
white-jacketed waiters who worked in the outdoor cafe.   "Metaxa, 
parakalo!"   Greek waiters are not known for their  graciousness, 
so  a  brief grunt and nod was an  acceptable  response.   George 
returned his attention to his nocturnal visitor. "I don't believe 
I've had the pleasure . . ." he said in his most formal voice. 

"Sir George, please just call me Alex.  Last names, are so, well, 
so unnecessary among men like us. Don't you agree?"  

George nodded assent.  "Yes, quite. Alex then, it is.  How may  I 
assist you?"

"Oh  no,  Sir George, it is I who may be able to assist  you.   I 
understand  that you would like to continue your, shall  we  say, 
extended  sabbatical.   Would  that be a  fair  appraisal?"   The 
Metaxas arrived and Alex excused the waiter with two 1000 Drachma 
notes.  The overtipping guaranteed privacy.

George looked closely at Alex. Very well dressed.  A Saville  was 
it? Perhaps.  Maybe Lubenstrasse.  He didn't care. This  stranger 
had either keen insight into George's current plight or had heard 
of  his escapades across the Southern Mediterranean.  Royalty  on 
Sabbatical was an unaccostable lie that regularly passed critical 

"Fair.  Yes sir, quite fair.  What exactly can you do for me,  or 
can we do for each other?"

"An  even  more accurate portrayal my friend, yes,  do  for  each 
other."  Alex paused for effect and to sip his  Metaxa.   "Simply 
put  Sir George, I have the need for a well spoken  gentleman  to 
represent me for a period of perhaps, three months, perhaps  more 
if all goes well.  Would that fit into your schedule?"

"I  see no reason that  I mightn't be able to, take a  sabbatical 
from  my  sabbatical  if  .  .  .well  now,  how  should   I  put 
this . . ."

" . . .that you are adequately compensated to take time away from 
your valuable projects?"

"Yes,  yes  quite  so.  Not that I am ordinarily  for  hire,  you 
understand,   it's  just  that . . .".  Alex  detected  a  slight 
stutter as Sir George spoke.

Alex held up both hands in a gesture of understanding.   "No need 
to  continue my dear Sir George.  I do thoroughly  recognize  the 
exorbitant  costs  associated  with your studies  and  would  not 
expect your efforts, on my behalf of course, to go unrewarded."

George  Toft was negotiating with a man he had never met,  for  a 
task as yet unstated.  The only reason he didn't feel the discom-
fort  that  one  should in such a situation is that  he  was   in 
desperate need of money.  And, this stranger did seem to know who 
he was, and did need his particular type  of expertise,  whatever 
that was.

"What exactly do you require of me, Alex.  That is, what form  of 
representation have you in mind?"  He might as well find out what 
he was  supposed to do before naming a price.

Alex  laughed. "Merely to be my voice.  It is so simple,  really.  
In  exchange for that, and some travel, first class and  all  ex-
penses to which you are accustomed, you will be handsomely paid."   
Alex  looked for Sir George's reaction to the proposed  fees.  He 
was pleased with what he saw in George's face. 

  Crikey, this is too good to be true.  What's the  catch.  
As George ruminated his good fortune and the Metaxa, Alex contin-

"The  job  is  quite simple, really, but  requires  a  particular 
delicacy  with which you are well acquainted. Each day  you  will 
receive  a list of names.  There will be instructions  with  each 
name.  Call them at the numbers provided. Say only what is  writ-
ten.   Keep  notes of each call you make and I will  provide  you 
with the means to transmit them to me in the strictest of  confi-
dence. You and I will have no further personal contact, either if 
you  accept or do not accept my proposition.  If we are  able  to 
reach  mutually agreeable terms, monies will be wired to  a  bank 
account in your name."  Alex opened his jacket and handed  George 
an  envelop.   "This is an advance if you accept. It  is  $25,000 
American.  There is a phone number to call when you arrive in San 
Francisco.  Follow  the instructions explicitly.  If you do  not, 
there  will be no lists for you, no additional monies and I  will 
want  this  money  back.  Any questions Sir  George?"   Alex  was 
smiling warmly but as serious as a heart attack.

Alex  scanned  the contents of the envelope.   America.   He  had 
always wanted to see the States.  

"Yes,  Alex,  I do have one question.  Is  this  legal?"   George 
peered at Alex for a clue.

"Do you really care?"


"Off you go then.  And good luck."

* * * * * 

Sir George Sterling arrived in San Francisco airport the  follow-
ing evening.  He flew first class and impressed returning  Ameri-
can tourists with his invented pedigree and his construed  impor-
tance.  What fun.  After the virtually nonexistent customs check, 
he  called  the number inside the envelop.  It rang  three  times 
before answering.  Damn, it was a machine, he thought.

"Welcome to the United States, Sir George.  I hope you had a good 
flight."  The  voice was American, female, and  flight  attendant 
friendly.   "Please check into the San Francisco Airport  Hilton.  
You will receive a call at 11 AM tomorrow.  Good night."   A dial 
tone replaced the lovely voice.  He dialed the number again.

A mechanical voice responded instead. "The number you have called 
in  no  longer in service. Please check the number  or  call  the 
operator for assistance.  The number you have called is no longer 
in service..."

George dialed the number twice more before he gave up in frustra-
tion. He had over $20,000 in cash, knew no one in America and for 
the  first time in years, he felt abandoned.  What kind  of  joke 
was  this?  Fly half way around the world and be greeted with  an 
out  of service number.  But the first voice had known his  name. 
The Hilton.  Why not? 

At precisely 11AM, the phone in Sir George Sterling's suite rang.  
He was still somewhat jet lagged from his 18 hours of flying  and 
the span of 10 time zones.  The Eggs Benedict was exquisite,  but 
Americans could learn something about tea.  The phone rang again.  
He casually picked it up.

"Good  morning, Sir George.  Please get a pencil and paper.   You 
have fifteen seconds and then I will continue."  It was the  same 
alluring voice from yesterday. The paper and pen were right there 
at  the phone so he waited through 14 seconds of  silence.  "Very 
good. Please check out of the hotel and pay cash.  Proceed to the 
San Francisco airport and from a pay phone, call 5-5-5-3-4-5-6 at 
1 P.M.  Have a note book and two pens  with you.  Good Bye. "  

The annoying dial tone returned.   What a bloody waste  of time. 

At  1P.M. he called the number as he was instructed.  He  figured 
that  since he was to have a notebook and pens he might  need  to 
write for  a while, so he used one of the phone booths that  pro-
vides a seat and large writing surface.

"Good  afternoon Sir George.  In ten seconds,  your  instructions 
will  begin."   Again, that same voice, but  it  almost  appeared 
condescending  to  him now.  Isn't that the way  when  you  can't 
respond.   The  voice continued.  "Catch the next flight  to  New 
York  City.  Stay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Grand Central  Sta-
tion on 42nd. Street and Park Avenue.  Not a suite this time, Sir 
George, just a regular room."   Sir George was startled at Alex's 
attention to detail.

"You  will  stay there for fourteen days.  On  56th.  street  and 
Madison  avenue is a school called CTI, Computer Training  Insti-
tute.  You are to go to CTI and enroll in the following  classes: 
DOS,  that's D-O-S for beginners, Intermediate DOS  and  Advanced 
DOS.  You will also take WordPerfect I and II.  Lastly, and  most 
importantly  you will take all three classes  on  Tele-Communica-
tions.  They call it TC-I,  TC-II and TC-III.  These eight class-
es will  take you ten days to complete.  Do not forget to pay  in 
cash. I will now pause for ten seconds."  Alex was writing  furi-
ously.  Computers?  He was scared silly of them.  Not that he had 
ever  had the opportunity or the need or the desire to use  them, 
just  from lack of exposure and the corresponding ignorance.  But 
if this meant he could keep the $25,000 he would do it.  What the 

"After  you enroll, go to 45 West 47th street to a  store  called 
Discount Computer Shoppe.  Buy the following equipment with cash. 
One Pro-Start 486-80 computer with 8 Meg  RAM.  That's 8 M-E-G R-
A-M and ask for a high resolution color monitor.  Also  purchase, 
and  have them install a high speed modem, M-O-D-E-M.  Do not,  I 
repeat,  do not purchase a printer of any type.  No printers  Sir 
George.   You are never to use a printer. Ever. Lastly, you  will 
purchase  a copy of Word Perfect and Crosstalk.  If you wish  any 
games  for  your  amusement, that is up to you.   When  you  have 
completed  your studies you will call 212-555-6091.  Do not  call 
that  number  before  you have completed your  studies.  This  is 

Sir  George  was just writing, not comprehending a thing. It  was 
all gibberish to him.  Pure gibberish.

"Sir George."  The female voice got serious, very serious for the 
first time in their relationship. "You are to speak to no one,  I 
repeat,  no  one, of the nature of your business, the  manner  in 
which  you receive instructions,  or why computers have a  sudden 
interest for you. Otherwise our deal is off and your advance will 
be expected to be returned. Am I clear?"

George  responded  quickly, "Yes!" before seeing  the  lunacy  of 
answering a machine.

"Good,"  the voice was friendly again.  "Learn your lessons  well 
for you will need the knowledge to perform your tasks.   Until we 
speak  again, I thank  you, Sir George Sterling."  The line  went 

George Toft took his computer classes very seriously.  He had  in 
fact  bought  a few games to amuse himself and he  found  himself 
really  enjoying  the work.  It was new, and exciting.  His  only 
social  distractions  were the sex shops on  Times  Square.   Red 
Light  Amsterdam or the Hamburg they weren't, so midnight  antics 
with the Mario Brothers prevailed most evenings.  Besides,  there 
was  a massive amount of homework.  Bloody hell, back to  school.  
He excelled in his studies which pleased George a great deal.  In 
fact  most of the students in Sir George's computer  classes  ex-
celled.   The teachers were very pleased to have a group of  stu-
dents  that actually progressed more rapidly than the  curriculum 
called  for. Pleasant change from the E Train Bimbos from Queens. 

The  computer  teachers didn't know that a vast majority  of  the 
class  members had good reason to study hard.  Most of  them  had 
received their own $25,000 scholarships.

* * * * *

     Sunday, September 6
     SDSU Campus, San Diego, California.


the computer screen displayed.  That was hackerese, borrowed from 
the military for What The Fuck? Over! It was a friendly  greeting 
that offended no one. 

Back on.  Summer finals are over.  Everyone still there?


Yeah, 4 days before next term starts . . .Has anyone got the  key 
to the NPPS NASA node?


And CHAOS?  Anyone?


When you get the code send me a copy, OK?


Careful!  Remember 401


What you gonna do, boy?  In them thar computers?


Excellent! Hey, Lori's on the line. gotta go.


     <<<<<< CONNECTION TERMINATED >>>>>>

The  screen of his communications program returned to a  list  of 
names and phone numbers.  Lori said she'd be over in an hour  and 
Steven  Billings  was tempted to dial another couple  of  numbers 
before his date with Lori. But if he found something  interesting 
it might force him to be late, and Lori could not tolerate  play-
ing second fiddle to a computer. 

Steven  Billings, known as "KIRK, where no man has gone  before", 
by  fellow hackers, had finished his midterms at San Diego  State 
University. The ritual labors were over and he looked forward  to 
some relax time. Serious relax time.  

The one recreation he craved, but downplayed to Lori, was  spend-
ing time with his computer.  She was jealous in some respects, in 
that  it received as much attention from Steve as she  did.  Yet, 
she also understood that computers were his first love, and  they 
were part of his life long before she was. So, they came with the 
territory.   Steve attended, upon occasion, classes at  SDSU,  La 
Jolla. For a 21 year old transplant from Darien, Connecticut,  he 
lived in paradise.  

Steve's  single largest expense in life was his phone  bill,  and 
instead  of working a regular job to earn spending  money,  Steve 
tutored  other  students in their computer courses.  Rather  than 
flaunt his skills to his teachers and risk extra assignments,  he 
was more technically qualified than they were, he kept his  mouth 
shut,  sailed through classes, rarely studied and became  a  full 
time  computer hacker.  He translated his every wish into a  com-
mand that the computer obeyed.  

Steve  Billings did not fill the picture of a computer nerd.   He 
was almost dashing with a firm golden tanned 175 pound body,  and 
dark  blond hair that caused the girls to turn their  heads.   He 
loved  the outdoors, the hot warmth of the summer to  the  cooler 
warmth of the winter, surfing at the Cardiff Reef and betting  on 
fixed jai-alai games in Tijuana.  He played soccer and OTL, a San 
Diego  specific  version  of gloveless and  topless  co-ed  beach 
softball.  In short, he was a guy. A regular guy.

The  spotlessly groomed image of Steve Billings in  white  tennis 
shorts  and a "Save the Whales" tank-top eclectically  co-existed 
with  the  sterile  surroundings of the  mammoth  super  computer 
center.   The  Cray Y-MP is about as big and bad  a  computer  as 
money can buy, and despite Steve's well known skills, the head of 
the  Super  Computing Department couldn't help  but  cringe  when 
Steve  leaned  his surf board against the  helium  cooled  memory 
banks of the twelve million dollar computer.

He  ran his shift at the computer lab so efficiently and  effort-
lessly  that over time he spent more and more of his hours  there 
perusing through other people's computers. Now there was a  feel-
ing.   Hacking  through somebody else's  computer  without  their 
knowledge. The ultimate challenge, an infinity of  possibilities, 
an infinity of answers.

The  San Diego Union was an awful paper, Steve thought,  and  the 
evening  paper was even worse.  So he got copies of the New  York 
City  Times when possible, either at a newsstand,  borrowed  from 
yesterday's Times reader or from the library.  Nice to get a real 
perspective on the world.  This Sunday he spent the $4.00 to  get 
his own new, uncrumpled and unread copy of his revered paper, all 
thirty four pounds of it.  Alone.  Peace.  

Reading  by  the  condo pool an article caught  his  eye.   Steve 
remembered  a story he had heard about a hacker who  had  invaded 
and  single  handedly stopped INTERNET, a computer  network  that 
connected  together  tens of thousands of  computers  around  the 

* * * * * 

     Government Defense Network Halted by Hacker
     by Scott Mason, New York City Times

Vaughn  Chase, a 17 year old high school student  Galbraith  High 
School in Ann Arbor, Michigan was indicted today on charges  that 
he  infected  the  nationwide INTERNET network  with  a  computer 
virus.   This  latest attack upon INTERNET is  reminiscent  of  a 
similar incident launched by Robert Morris of Cornell  University 
in November, 1988. 

According to the Computer Emergency Response Team, a DARPA  spon-
sored  group,  if Mr. Chase had not left his name in  the  source 
code of his virus, there would have been no way to track down the 

A computer virus is a small software program that is secretly put 
into  a  computer, generally designed to cause  damage.  A  virus 
attaches  itself to other computer programs secretively. At  some 
time after the parasite virus program is 'glued' into the comput-
er,  it is reawakened on a specific date or by a  particular  se-
quence of events.

Chase, though, actually infected INTERNET with a Worm.  A Worm is 
a  program  that copies itself, over and over  and  over,  either 
filling  the  computer's memory to capacity or slowing  down  its 
operation  to  a snail's pace.  In either case, the  results  are 
devastating - effectively, the computer stops working.

Chase,  a  math wizard according to his  high  school  officials, 
released the Worm into Internet in early August with a detonation 
date  of September 1, which brought thousands of computers  to  a 
grinding halt.

INTERNET  ties together tens of thousands of computers  from  the 
Government,  private industry, universities and defense  contrac-
tors  all over the country.  Chase said he learned how to  access 
the  unclassified computer network from passwords and  keys  dis-
tributed on computer Bulletin Boards. 

Computer security experts worked for 3 days hours to first deter-
mine  the cause of the network slowdown and then to  restore  the 
network  to normal operation.  It has been estimated that  almost 
$100 Million in damage was caused by Mr. Chase's Worm.  Mr. Chase 
said  the  Worm was experimental, and was  accidentally  released 
into  INTERNET when a piece of software he had  written  malfunc-
tioned.  He apologized for any inconvenience he caused.

The  Attorney General of the State of Michigan is  examining  the 
legal aspects of the case and it is expected that Mr. Chase  will 
be  tried within in a year.  Mr. Chase was released  on  his  own 

This  is  Scott Mason wondering why the  Pentagon  doesn't  shoot 
worms instead of bombs at enemy computers.

* * * * *

The  next day Steve Billings signed on to the SDSU/BBS  from  his 
small Mission Beach apartment. It was a local university Bulletin 
Board  Service or BBS.  A BBS is like a library.  There  are  li-
braries of software which are free, and as a user you are  recip-
rocally expected to donate software into the Public Domain.  Con-
ference  Halls or Conversation Pits on the BBS  are  free-for-all 
discussions where people at their keyboards can all have a 'live' 
conversation.  Anyone, using any computer, anywhere in the  world 
can call up any BBS using regular phone lines.   No one cared  or 
knew  if  you  were skinny, fat, pimpled,  blind,  a  double  for 
Christy Brinkley or too chicken shit to talk to girls in  person.  
Here, everyone was equal.

     Billings 234


There was a brief pause.


Steve Chose (12) for SERVICES:

The menu changed to a list of further options.  Each option would 
permit  the  user  to gain access to other  networks  around  the 
country.   From  one single entry point with  a  small  computer, 
anyone  could  'dial  up'  as it's called,  almost  any  of  over 
20,000,000 computers in the country tied into any of ten thousand 
different networks. 



Steve  selected  CALNET, a network at Cal Tech  in  Los  Angeles.  
Many of the Universities have permanent connections between their 

     LOGON: Billings014


Again,  there was a pause, this time a little longer.  Now,  from 
his room, he was talking to a computer in Los Angeles.  There was 
another  menu  of options, and a list of other  widely  dispersed 
computer  networks. He requested the SUNYNET computer, the  State 
University of New York Network.  From there, he asked the comput-
er  for a local phone line so he could dial into a very  private, 
very secret computer called NEMO.

It  took Steve a grand total of 45 seconds to access NEMO in  New 
York, all at the price of a local phone call.

NEMO  was  a  private BBS that was restricted to  an  elite  few.  
Those who qualifications and reputations allowed them entry  into 
the  exclusive domain of hacking.  NEMO was born into this  world 
by Steve and a few of his friends while they were in high  school 
in Darien.  NEMO was a private club, for a few close friends  who 
enjoyed their new hobby, computers.  

NEMO's Menu was designed for the professional hacker. 

     2. NEW NETS
     5. WHO'S NEW?
     7. CRYPTO
     8. WHO ELSE?
     9. U.S. NETWORKS
     11. FOR TRADE

He selected (8), WHO ELSE?  Steve wanted to see who else was 'on-
line' now.  He wanted to talk about this Chase guy who was giving 
hackers a bad name. The computer responded:


That  was  great! Two of the half dozen of NEMO's  founders  were 
there.  La Creme de la Creme was KIRK's college roommate, but  he 
had  not  yet returned to San Diego for the  fall  term.   RAMBO, 
'I'll  get through any door' was the same age as Kirk and  Creme, 
but  chose  to study at Columbia in New York's  Harlem.   Hackers 
picked  alter-  ego monikers as CB'ers on the  highways  did;  to 
project  the  desired image. Steve and his cohorts  picked  their 
aliases when they were only fifteen, and kept them ever since. 

Steve typed in a 'Y' and the ENTER key.


NEMO was asking for an additional password.


Steve  typed.   A brief pause, and the computer  screen  came  to 


That  was  his  invitation  to  interrupt  any  conversation   in 
progress. Steve typed in,



Greased'em.  Ready to come back? 


Sure.  Hey, what's with the Morris copy cat?  Some phreak blowing 
it for the rest of us. 


What  the hell really happened?  I read the Times.  Said that  he 
claimed it was accident.  



Ten-Four.   Seems like he don't wanna live by the code.  Must  be 
some spoiled little brat getting too big for his britches . . .



Jeez.  Anyone else been hit yet?  


OK, I'll be supersleuth.  Any word on CHAOS? Legion of Doom,  The 


Funny.  Why don't you put a rubber on your big 640K RAM?  Or your 


Will  do.  Any word on the new Central Census Data Base?   Every-
thing about every American stored in one computer.  All of  their 
personal  data,  ripe for the picking.  Sounds like the  kind  of 
library that would do the bad guys a lot of good. 


Zero! Ha! Keep me in mind. 

* * * * *

Steve copied several pages of names, phone numbers and  passwords 
from  NEMO's  data base into his computer 3000 miles  across  the 
country.  These were the most valuable and revered types of files 
in  the underground world of hackerdom.  They include all of  the 
information needed to enter and play havoc inside of hundreds  of 
secret and private computers.

          National Institute of Health        301-555-6761
     USER: Fillstein          PASSWORD: Daddy1
     USER: Miller9            PASSWORD: Secret
               VMS 1.01  
               SUPERUSER: B645_DICKY

          VTEK NAS, Pensacola, Fla            904-555-2113
     USER: Major101       PASSWORD: Secret
     USER: General22      PASSWORD: Secret1
     USER: Forestall      PASSWORD: PDQS

          IBM, Armonk, Advanced Research     914-555-0965
     USER: Port1     PASSWORD: Scientist
     USER: Port2      PASSWORD: Scientist
     USER: Port3          PASSWORD: Scientist

There were seventeen pages of updated and illegal access codes to 
computer  systems across the country. Another reason NEMO was  so 
secret.   Didn't  want just anybody climbing the walls  of  their 
private playground.  Can't trust everyone to live by the Code.

Steve  finished  downloading the files from NEMO's  distant  data 
base and proceeded to print them out for a hardcopy reference. He 
laughed  to himself.  Big business and government  never  wizened 
up.   Predictable passwords, like 'secret' were about as  kinder-
garten as you could get.  And everyone wonders why folks like  us 
parade  around  their computers.  He had in his hand  a  list  of 
over 250 updated and verified private, government and educational 
institutions  who had left the keys to the front doors  of  their 
computers wide open.  And those were just the ones that NEMO knew 
about today.

There is no accurate way to determine how many groups  of hackers 
like  NEMO  existed.  But, even if only 1/100 of 1%  of  computer 
users classified themselves as hackers, that's well over  100,000 
people breaking into computers.  Enough reason to give Big  Busi-
ness cause for concern. Yet, no one did anything serious to  lock 
the doors. 

Steve  spent the next several hours walking right  into  computer 
systems all over the country.  Through the Bank of California  in 
San Francisco, (Steve's first long distance call) he could  reach 
the  computers of several corresponding banks.  He  read  through 
the new loan files, saw that various developers had defaulted  on 
their  loans  and were in serious trouble.  Rates were  going  to 
start rising.  Good enough for a warm up.  

Steve still wanted back into the NASA launch computers.  On  line 
launch information, results of analysis going back twenty  years, 
and  he  had  had a taste of it, once.  Then,  one  day,  someone 
inside  of NASA got smart and properly locked the front door.  He 
and  NEMO  were  ever on the search for a key  back  into  NASA's 

He figured that Livermore was still a good bet to get into  NASA.  
That  only meant a local call, through the SDSU/BBS to Cal   Tech 
then into Livermore.  From San Diego, to LA, to San Francisco for 
a mere 25 cents.

Livermore  researchers  kept the front doors of  their  computers 
almost  completely open.  Most of the workers, the graduate  stu-
dents,  preferred  a  free exchange of  information  between  all 
scientists,  so their computer security was extraordinarily  lax.  
For  a weapons research laboratory, funded by the  Department  of 
Energy, it was a most incongruous situation.  

Much of the information in the Livermore computers was considered 
sensitive  but unclassified, whatever that meant  in  government- 
speak, but for an undergraduate engineering major cum hacker,  it 
was great reading.  The leading thinkers from the most technical-
ly  demanding areas in science today put down their thoughts  for 
the  everyone  to  read.  The Livermore  scientists  believed  in 
freedom of information, so nearly everyone who wanted in, got in.  
To the obvious consternation and dismay of Livermore  management. 
And its funding agency. 

Steve  poked  around  the Livermore computers  for  a  while  and 
learned  that SDI funding was in more serious jeopardy than  pub-
licly  acknowledged.  He discovered that the last  3  underground 
nuclear test explosions outside of Las Vegas were underyield, and 
no  one knew why.  Then he found some  super-technical  proposals 
that sounded like pure science fiction:

Moving  small asteroids from between Mars and Jupiter into  orbit 
around  the Earth would make lovely weapons to drop on your  ene-
mies.  War mongers. 

All  of this fascinating information, available to anyone with  a 
computer and a little chutzbah.

* * * * *

Alexander  Spiradon had picked Sir George and his other  subjects 
carefully, as he had been trained to do.

He  had  spent the better part of twenty years working  for  West 
German   Military  Intelligence,  Reichenbunnestrad   Dunnernecht 
Deutchelande,  making less money than he required to live in  the 
style  he  desired.  To supplement his  income,  he  occasionally 
performed extracurricular activities for special interest  groups 
throughout  Europe.  A little information to the IRA in  Northern 
Ireland,  a warning to the Red Brigade about an  impending  raid.  
Even the Hizballah, the Party of God for Lebanese terrorists  had 
occasion  to use Alex's Services.  Nothing that would  compromise 
his  country, he rationalized, just a little help to the  various 
political factions that have become an annoyance to their respec-
tive governments.

Alex  suddenly  resigned  in 1984 when he  had  collected  enough 
freelance fees to support his habits, but he was unaware that his 
own agency had had him under surveillance for years, waiting  for 
him  to slip up.  He hadn't, and with predictable German  Govern-
ment  efficiency, upon his departure from the RDD, his  file  was 
promptly retired and his subsequent activities ignored. 

Alex  began  his full time free-lance  career as a  'Provider  of 
Information'.  With fees of no less than 250,000 DM, Alex  didn't 
need  to work much.  He could pick and choose his clients  as  he 
weighed  the  risks and benefits of  each  potential  assignment.  
With his network of intelligence contacts from Scotland Yard,  Le 
Surite, and the Mossad, he had access to the kind of  information 
that terrorists pay for dearly .

It was a good living.  No guns, no danger, just information.

His latest client guaranteed Alex three years of work for a  flat 
fee  in  the millions of Deutch Marks.  It was  the  intelligence 
assignment  of a lifetime, one that insured a peaceful and  pros-
perous retirement for Alex.  He wasn't the perennial spy, politi-
cally or dogmatically motivated.  Alex wanted the money.

After  he  had completed his computer classes and  purchased  the 
equipment from the list, Sir George dialed the number he had been 
given.  He half expected a live person  to congratulate him,  but 
also realized that that was a foolish wish.  There was no  reason 
to  expect  anything  other than the same  sexy  voice  dictating 
orders to him.

"Ah, Sir George.  How good of you to call.  How were your  class-
es?"   George nearly answered the alluring telephone  personality 
again, but he caught himself. 

"Very good," the voice came back in anticipated response. "Please 
get a pencil and paper. I have a message for you in 15  seconds."  
That damned infernal patronization.  Of course I have a  bleeding 
pen.  Not a pencil.  Idiot.

"Are  you ready?"  she asked.  George made an obscene gesture  at 
the phone. 

"Catch a flight to San Francisco tonight.  Bring all of  the com-
puter equipment you have purchased. Take a taxi to 14  Sutherland 
Place on Knob Hill.  Under the mat to Apartment 12G you will find 
two keys.  They will let you into your new living quarters.  Make 
yourself  at home. It is yours, and the rent is taken care of  as 
is the phone bill.  Your new phone number is 4-1-5-5-5-5-6-3-6-1.  
When you get settled, dial the following number from your comput-
er.   You should be well acquainted with how to do that  by  now.  
The number is  4-1-5-5-5-5-0-0-1-5.  Your password is  A-G-O-R-A.  
Under  the  mattress in the bedroom is a PRG,  Password  Response 
Generator.   It looks like a credit card, but has an eight  digit 
display.  Whenever you call Alex, he will ask you for a  response 
to  your password.  Quickly enter whatever the PRG says.  If  you 
lose  the PRG, you will be terminated."  The voice paused  for  a 
few seconds to George's relief.

"You will receive full instructions at that point.  Good Bye."  A 
dial  tone replaced the voice he had come to both love and  hate.  
Bloody hell, he thought.  I'm down to less than $5000 and now I'm 
going back to San Francisco? What kind of bleedin' game is this?  

Apartment 12G was a lavish 2 bedroom condominium with a drop dead 
view of San Francisco and bodies of water water in 3  directions.  
Furnished in high tech modern, it offered every possible amenity; 
bar,  jacuzzi, telephone in the bathroom and full channel  cable.  
Some job.  But, he kept wondering to himself, when does the  free 
ride end?  Maybe he's been strung along so far that he can't  let 
go.  One more call, just to see how the next chapter begins. 

George  installed his computer in the second bedroom on  a  table 
that fit his equipment like a glove.

          C:\cd XTALK 

His  hard  disk  whirred for a few seconds.  He  chose  the  Dial 
option  and entered the phone number from the keyboard  and  then 
asked the computer to remember it for future use.  He omitted the 
area code.  Why had he been given an area code  if he was dialing 
from the same one?  George didn't pursue the question; if he  had 
he would have realized he wasn't alone.

The modem dialed the number for him.  His screen went momentarily 
blank and then suddenly came to life again.


George entered a "Y"


George  entered AGORA.   The letters did not echo to the  screen.  
He hoped he had typed then correctly.  Apparently he did, for the 
screen then prompted him for his RESPONSE. 

He copied the 8 characters from the PRG into the computer.  There 
was a pause and then the screen filled. 







George pushed the space bar.  The screen was again filled.




The screen was awaiting a response.  George typed in "Y".












Finally, thought Sir George, the reason for my existence.







Force,  what the hell does that mean?  I guess the answer is  No, 
thought George.




Sir  George was a little confused, maybe a lot confused.  He  was  
the proud owner of a remote control job, a cushy one as far as he 
could tell, but the tone of the conversation he just had with the 
computer  was worrisome. Was he being threatened?  What  was  the 
difference between 'Services Terminated' and 'Terminated' anyway.  
Maybe he shouldn't ask.  Keep his mouth shut and do a good job. 

Hey, he thought, dismissing the possible unpleasant  consequences 
of  failure.  This is San Francisco, and I have a three days  off 
in  a  new city.  Might as well find my way around the  town  to-
night.  According to the guide books I should start at Pier 39.


                         Chapter 3
     Tuesday, September 8,
     New York City

But they told me they wouldn't tell! They promised." Hugh Sidneys 
pleaded into his side of the phone.  "How did you find out?"   At 
first, Scott thought the cartoon voice was a joke perpetrated  by 
one  of  his friends, or more probably, his ex-wife.   Even  she, 
though,  coudn't possibly think crank a phone call was a  twisted 
form of art.  No, it had to be real.

"I'm  sorry Mr. Sidneys.  We can't give out our sources.   That's 
confidential.   But  are you saying that you confirm  the  story?  
That it is true?"

"Yes, no.  Well ," the pleading slid into near sobbing.  "If this 
gets  out, I'm ruined.  Ruined.  Everything, my family .  .  .how 
could  you have found out?  They promised!"  The noise  from  the 
busy  metro room at the New York City Times made it difficult  to 
hear Sidneys. 

"Can  I  quote you, sir?  Are you confirming  the  story?"  Scott 
pressed  on for that last requisite piece of  every  journalistic 
puzzle  confirmation  of  a story that stood to  wreck  havoc  in 
portions  of the financial community.  And Washington. It  was  a 
story  with  meat,  but Scott Mason needed  the  confirmation  to 
complete it.

"I don't know. . .if I tell what I know now, then maybe . . .that 
would  mean  I  was  being helpful . .  .maybe  I  should  get  a 
lawyer  . . ."  The call from Scott Mason to First State  Savings 
and Loan on Madison Avenue had been devastating. Hugh Sidneys was 
just doing what he was told to do.  Following orders.

"Maybe,  Hugh.  Maybe."  Scott softened toward Sidneys,  thinking 
the first name approach might work.  "But, is it true, Hugh?   Is 
the story true?" 

"It  doesn't  matter anymore.  Do what you want."   Hugh  Sidneys 
hung up on Mason.  It was as close to a confirmation as he  need-
ed.  He wrote the story.

* * * * * 

At  39,  Scott Byron Mason was already into  his  second  career. 
Despite the objections of his overbearing father, he had  avoided 
the  family  destiny of becoming a longshoreman.  "If  it's  good 
enough for me, it's good enough for my kids."  Scott was an  only 
child,  but his father had wanted more despite his mother's  ina-
bility to carry another baby to full term.

Scott caught the resentment of his father and the doting  protec-
tion of his mother.  Marie Elizabeth Mason wanted her son to have 
more  of a future than to merely live another generation  in  the 
lower  middle  class doldrums of Sheepshead Bay,  Brooklyn.   Not 
that Scott was aware of his predicament; he was a dreamer.

Her son showed aptitude.  By the age of six Scott knew two  words 
his father never learned - how and why.  His childhood  curiosity 
led to more than a few mishaps and spankings by the hot  tempered 
Louis Horace Mason.  Scott took apart everything in the house  in 
an  attempt  to  see what made it  tick.   Sometimes,  not  often 
enough, Scott could reassemble what he broken down to its  small-
est  components.  Despite his failings and bruised  bottom  Scott 
wasn't satisfied with, "that's just the way it is," as an  answer 
to anything.

Behind  his  father's  back, Marie had Scott take  tests  and  be 
accepted to the elite Bronx High School of Science, an hour and a 
half train ride from Brooklyn.  To Scott it wasn't an escape from 
Brooklyn, it was a chance to learn why and how machines worked.

Horace  gave Marie and Scott a three day silent  treatment  until 
his  mother  finally put an end to it.  "Horace  Stipton  Mason,"  
Evelyn  Mason said with maternal command.  "Our son has  a  gift, 
and  you  will  not, I repeat, you will not  interfere  with  his 

"Yes dear."

"The  boy  is thirteen and he has plenty of time to  decide  what 
he's going to do with himself.  Is that clear?"

"Yes dear."

"Good." She would say as she finished setting the table.  "Dinner 
is ready.  Wash your hands boys."  And the subject was closed.  

But throughout his four years at the best damn high school in the 
country,  Horace found ample opportunity to pressure Scott  about 
how it was the right thing to follow in the family tradition, and 
work at the docks, like the three generations before him. 

The  issue  was never settled during Scott's  rebellious  teenage 
years.   The War, demonstrating on the White House lawn,  getting 
gassed at George Washington, writing for the New York Free Press, 
Scott was even arrested once or twice or three times for peaceful 
civil  disobedience.  Scott Mason was seeing the world in  a  new 
way.   He  was rapidly growing up, as did much of  the  class  of 

Scott's grades weren't good enough for scholorships, but adequate 
to be accepted at several reasonable schools.  

"I already paid for his education," screamed Horace upon  hearing 
that  Scott chose City College to keep costs down. He would  live 
at home.  "He broke every damn thing I ever bought, radios, TV's, 
washers. He can go to work like a man."

With his mother's blessing and understanding, Scott moved out  of 
the  house  and in with three roommates who  also  attended  City 
College,  where all New Yorkers can get a free education.   Scott 
played very hard, studied very little and let his left of  center 
politics  guide  his  social life.   His  engineering  professors 
remarked  that  he was underutilizing his God-given  talents  and 
that  he  spent more time protesting and  objecting  that  paying 
attention.   It  was an unpredictable piece of  luck  that  Scott 
Mason would never have to make a living as an engineer.  He would 
be able to remain the itinerate tinkerer; designing and  building 
the most inane creations that regularly had little purpose beyond 
satisfying technical creativity.

"Can we go with it?" Scott asked City Editor Douglas McQuire  and 
John Higgins, the City Times' staff attorney whose job it was  to 
answer just such questions.  McQuire and Mason had been asked  to 
join Higgins and publisher Anne Manchester to review the  paper's 
position on running Mason's story.  Scott was being lawyered, the 
relatively  impersonal cross examination by a so-called  friendly 
in-house attorney.  It was the single biggest pain in the ass  of 
Scott's job, and since he had a knack for finding sensitive  sub-
jects,  he was lawyered fairly frequently.  Not that it made  him 
feel  any less like being called to the principal's office  every 

Scott's boyish enthusiasm for his work, and his youthful  appear-
ance  allowed some to underestimate his ability.  He looked  much 
younger than his years, measuring a slender 6  foot tall and  shy 
of  160  pounds. His longish thin sandy hair and a  timeless  all 
about  Beach Boy face made him a good catch on his  better  days-  
he  was back in circulation at almost 40.  The round wire  rimmed 
glasses  he donned for an extreme case of myopia were  a  visible 
stylized reminder of his early rebel days, conveying a  sophisti-
cated air of radicalism. Basically clean cut, he preferred  shav-
ing every two or three, or occasionally four days. He blamed  his 
poor  shaving habits on his transparent and sensitive skin  'just 
like Dick Nixon's'.   

The four sat in Higgins' comfortable dark paneled office. With  2 
walls full of books and generous seating, the ample office resem-
bled  an  elegant and subdued law library.  Higgins  chaired  the 
meeting  from behind his leather trimmed desk.  Scott  brought  a 
tall  stack  of  files and put them on the  glass  topped  coffee 

"We need to go over every bit, from the beginning.  OK?"  Higgins 
made  it sound more like and order than responsible  journalistic 
double checking.  Higgins didn't interfere in the news end of the 
business; he kept his opinions to himself. But it was his respon-
sibility to insure that the City Times' was  kept out of the  re-
ceiving  end  of any litigation.   That meant that as long  as  a 
story  was properly researched, sourced, and confirmed, the  con-
tents were immaterial  to him.  That was  the Publisher's choice, 
not his.

Mason had come to trust Higgins in his role as aggravating media-
tor  between news and business. Scott might not like what he  had 
to  say, but he respected his opinion and didn't argue too  much.  
Higgins was never purposefully adversarial.  He merely wanted  to 
know that both the writers and the newspaper had all  their ducks 
in  a  row.  Just in case.  Libel suits can be such a  pain,  and 

"Why don't you tell me, again, about how you found out about  the 
McMillan  scams."  Higgins turned on a small  micro-cassette  re-
corder.  "I hope you don't mind," he said as he tested it. "Keeps 
better  notes than I do," he offhandedly said.  Nobody  objected. 
There would have been no point in objecting even if anyone cared. 
It  was an unspoken truism that Higgins and other good  attorneys 
taped many of their unofficial depositions to protect  themselves 
in  case anything went terribly wrong.  With a newspaper as  your 
sole client, the First Amendment was always at stake.

"OK,"  Scott began.  His reporter's notebook sat atop files  full 
of computer printouts.   "A few days ago, on September 4,  that's 
a Friday, I got an anonymous call.  The guy said, 'You want  some 
dirt on McMillan and First State S&L?'  I said sure, what do  you 
have and who  is this?"  

"So  then you knew who Francis McMillan was?" Higgins  looked  up 

"Of  course," Mason said. "He's the squeaky clean bank  President 
from  White Plains.  Says he knows how to clean up the S&L  mess, 
gets  lots  of air time. Probably making a play  for  Washington.  
Big time political ambitions. Pretty well connected at  Treasury.  
I guess they listen to him."

"In a nutshell."  Higgins agreed. "And . . .then?"

Mason sped through a couple of pages of scribbled notes from  his 
pad.  "My  notes start here.  'Who I am don't matter but  what  I 
gotta  say does. You interested'.  Heavy Brooklyn accent,  docks, 
Italian,  who knows.  I said something like, 'I'm listening'  and 
he  says  that McMillan is the dirtiest of them all.   He's  been 
socking more money away than the rest and he's been doing it real 
smart.   So  I go, 'so?' and he says he can prove it  and  I  say 
'how'  and  he  says 'read your morning  mail'."   Mason  stopped 

"That's it?" Higgins asked.

"He hung up.  So  I forgot about it till the next morning."

"And  that's  when you got these?" Higgins said pointing  at  the 
stack  of  computer printouts in front of Mason. "How  were  they 

"By  messenger.  No receipt, nothing.  Just my name and  the  pa-
per's." Mason showed Higgins the envelop in which the files came.

"Then you read them?"

"Well not all of them, but enough." Scott glanced at his  editor. 
"That's when I let Doug know what I had."

"And what did he say?"  Higgins was keeping furious notes to back 
up the tape recording.

"'Holy  shit', as I remember."  Everyone laughed.  Ice  breakers, 
good  for  the  soul, thought Mason.   People  are  too  uptight.  
Higgins indicated that Scott should continue. 

"Then  he said 'we gotta go slow on this one,' then  he  whistled 
and Holy Shat some more."  Once the giggles died down, Mason  got 
serious.  "I borrowed a bean counter from the basement, told  him 
I'd  put  his  name in the paper if anything came of  it,  and  I 
picked his brain.  Ran through the numbers on the printouts,  and 
ran  through  them  again.  I really worked that  poor  guy,  but 
that's the price of fame.  By the next morning we knew that there 
were  two sets of books on First State."  Mason turned  a  couple 
pages in his files.

"It  appears,"  Scott said remembering that he  was  selling  the 
importance  of  the  story to legal and the  publisher,  "that  a 
substantial portion of the bank's assets are located in  numbered 
bank accounts all over the world."  Scott said with finality.

Higgins interrupted here.  "So what's wrong with that?" he  chal-

"They've effectively stolen a sandbagged and inflated reserve ac-
count  with over $750 Million it.  Almost 10% of  stated  assets.   
It  appears from these papers," Scott waved his hand  over  them, 
"that the total of the reserve accounts will be taken, as a loss, 
in  their next SEC reporting."  Mason stopped and looked at  Hig-
gins as though Higgins would understand everything.

Higgins snorted as he made more notes.

"That  next  morning," Mason politely ignored Higgins, "I  got  a 
call again, from what sounded like the same guy."

"Why do you say that? How did you know?"  Higgins inquired.

Mason sighed.  "Cause he said, 'it's me remember?' and spoke like 
Archie  Bunker.  Good enough for you?" Mason grinned wide.  Mason 
had  the accent down to a tee.  Higgins gave in to another  round 
of snickers.

"He  said, 'you like, eh?'" Mason spoke with an  exaggerated  New 
York  accent and  used the appropriate Italian hand  gesture  for 
'eh!'.   "I  said, 'I like, but so what?'  I still  wasn't   sure 
what he wanted.  He said, 'they never took a loss, yet.  Look for 
Friday.  This Friday. They're gonna lose a bunch.' I  said,  'how 
much' and he said, 'youse already know.'"  Mason's imitation of a 
Brooklyn accent was good enough for a laugh. 

"He  then  said, 'enjoy the next installment', and that  was  the 
last  time  I spoke to him.  At any rate, the next  package  con-
tained  a history of financial transactions, primarily  overseas; 
Luxembourg,  Lietchenstein,  Switzerland,  Austria,  Hong   Kong, 
Sidney,  Macao,  Caymans and such.  They show a  history  of  bad 
loans and write downs on First State revenues.

"Well,  I grabbed the Beanie from the Basement and  said, help me 
with  these now, and I got research to come up with the 10K's  on 
First State since 1980  when McMillan took over.  And the results 
were  incredible."  Mason held out a couple of charts  and   some 

"We  compared both sets of books.  The bottom lines on  both  are 
the  same.  First State has been doing very well.   McMillan  has 
grown  the  company from $1 Billion to $12 Billion in  8   years. 
Quite  a  job, and the envy of hundreds of every other  S&L  knee 
deep  in their own shit."  Higgins cringed. He thought  Ms.  Man-
chester  should be shielded from such language.  "The problem  is 
that, according to one set of books, First State is losing  money 
on some investments merely by wishing them away.  They  disappear 
altogether from one report to the next.  Not a lot of money,  but 
a few million here and there."

"What have you got then?" Higgins pressed.

"Nobody notices cause the losses are all within the limits of the 
loss  projections and reserve accounts. Sweet and  neat!  Million 
dollar embezzlement scam with the SEC's approval."

"How  much follow up did you do?"  Higgins asked as his  pen  fly 
across the legal pad.

"Due to superior reporting ability," Scott puffed up his chest in 
jest,  "I  found that a good many account numbers listed  in  the 
package  I received are non-existent.  But, with a  little  prod-
ding,  I did get someone to admit that one of them  was  recently 
closed and the funds moved elsewhere. 

"Then,  this  is the clincher, as the caller promised,  today,  I 
looked for the First State SEC reports, and damned if the numbers 
didn't  jive.  The books with the overseas accounts are the  ones 
with  the  real losses and where they occur.   The  'real'  books 

"The bottom line, please."

"Someone  has been embezzling from First State, and when  they're 
through it'll be $3 Billion worth."  Scott was proud of  himself.  
In only a few days he had penetrated a huge scam in the works. 

 "You can't prove it!" Higgins declared.  "Where's the proof? All 
you have is some unsolicited papers where someone has been  play-
ing a very unusual and admittedly questionable game of 'what if'.   
You have a voice on the end of a phone with no name, no  nothing, 
and  a so-called confirmation from some mid-level  accountant  at 
the bank who dribbles on about 'having to do it' but never saying 
what 'it' is.  So what does that prove?"

"It  proves that McMillan is a fraud, a rip-off," Scott  retorted 

"It does not!"

"But  I have the papers to prove it," Scott shuffled through  the 

"Let  me explain something, Scott." Higgins put down his pen  and 
adapted a friendlier tone.  "There's a little legal issue  called 
right  to  privacy.  Let me ask you this.  If I came to  you  and 
said that Doug here was a crook, what would you do?"

"Ask you to prove it," Scott said.

"Exactly.  It's the same here."

"But I have the papers to prove it,  it's in black and white." 

"No Scott, you don't.  What you have is some papers with  accusa-
tions.   They're  unsubstantiated.  They could have  easily  been 
phonied.  You know what computers can do better than I  do.   Now 
here's the key point.  Everybody in this country is due  privacy.  
You don't know where these came from, or how they were  obtained, 
do you?"

"No," Scott hesitantly admitted.

"So, someone's privacy has been compromised, in this case  McMil-
lan's.    If, and I'm saying, if, these reports are  accurate,  I 
would take the position that they are stolen, obtained illegally.  
If  we publish with what we  have now, the paper could be on  the 
receiving  end of a slander and libel suit that could put us  out 
of  business.   We even could be named as a co-conspirator  in  a 
criminal suit.  I can't let that happen.  It's our obligation  to 
guarantee responsible journalism."

"I see." Scott didn't agree.  

"Scott,  you're good, real good, but you have to see it from  the 
paper's  perspective." Higgins' tone was now conciliatory.  "This 
is  hard stuff, and there's just not enough here, not to go  with 
it  yet.  Maybe in a few days when you can get a little  more  to 
tie it up.  Not now.  I'm sorry." 

Case closed.

Shit, shit shit, thought Scott.  Back to square one.

Hugh Sidneys was nondescript, not quite a nebbish, but close.  At 
five  foot  five with wisps of brown scattered over  his  balding 
pate,  he only lacked horn rimmed glasses to complete the  image. 
His bargain basement suits almost fit him, and he scurried rather 
than  walked down the hallways at First  State Savings  and  Loan 
where  he  had been employed since graduating from  SUNY  with  a 
degree in accounting twenty four years ago. 

His  large ears accentuated the oddish look, not entirely out  of 
place on the subways at New York rush hour.  His loyalty to First 
State  was  known throughout the financial  departments;  he  was 
almost  a fixture.  His accounting skills were extremely  strong, 
even remarkable if you will, but his personality and  appearance, 
and that preposterous cartoon voice, held him back from advancing 
up the official corporate ladder. 

Now, though, Hugh Sidneys was scared.   

He needed to do something . . .and having never been in this kind 
of    predicament   before   .   .   .he   thought   about    the 
lawyer . . .hiring one like he told that reporter . . .but  could 
he afford that . . .and he wasn't sure what to do . . .was he  in 
trouble?  Yes, he was . . .he knew that.  That reporter .  .  .he 
sounded  like he understood . . .maybe he could help . . .he  was 
just asking questions . . .what was his name . . .?

"Ah,  Mr. Mason?" Scott heard the timid man's Road  Runner  voice 
spoke gently over the phone. Scott had just returned to his  desk 
from  Higgins'  office.  It was after 6P.M. and time to  catch  a 
train back home to Westchester.

"This is Scott Mason." 

"Do you remember me?"  

Scott recognized the voice immediately but said nothing.  

"We     spoke    earlier    about    First    State,    and     I 
just  . . .ah . . .wanted to . . .ah . . .apologize . . .for  the 
way I acted."

Scott's confirmation.  Hugh Sidneys, the Pee Wee Herman  sounding 
beancounter from First State. What did he want?  

"Yes,  of course, Mr. Sidneys.  How can I help you?"   He  opened 
his notebook. He had just had his story nixed and he was ready to 
go home.  But Sidneys . . .maybe . . .

"It's just that, well, I'm nervous about this . . ."

"No  need  to apologize, Hugh." Scott smiled into  the  phone  to 
convey  sincerity. "I understand, it happens all the time.   What 
can I do for you tonight?"

"Well,  I,  ah, thought that we might, maybe you  could,  well  I 
don't  know  about help, help, it's so much and I  didn't  really 
know, no I shouldn't have called . . .I'm sorry . . ." The  pitch 
of Sidneys' voice rose as rambled on. 

"Wait! Don't hang up.  Mr. Sidneys.  Mr. Sidneys?"

"Yes," the whisper came over the earpiece.

"Is there something wrong . . .are you all right?"  The fear, the 
sound  of fear that every good reporter is attuned to  came  over 
loud and clear.  This man was terrified.

"Yes, I'm OK, so far."

"Good.   Now,  tell me, what's wrong.  Slowly  and  calmly."   He 
eased Sidneys off his panic perch.

Scott  heard Sidneys compose himself and gather up the  nerve  to 

"Isn't there some sorta rule," he stuttered, "a law, that says if 
I talk to you, you're a reporter, and if I say that I don't  want 
you  to tell anybody, then you can't?"  Sidneys was  scared,  but 
wanted to talk to someone.  Maybe this was the time for Scott  to 
back off a little.   He stretched out and put his feet up on  his 
desk,  making  him feel and sound more relaxed,  less  pressured.  
According  to Scott, he generated more Alpha waves in  his  brain 
and  if  wanted  to convey calm on the phone, he  merely  had  to 
assume the position.

"That's called off the record, Hugh.  And it's not a law."  Scott 
was  amused  at the naivete that Hugh Sidneys  showed.   "It's  a 
gentleman's  agreement, a code of ethics in journalism.  You  can 
be  off  the record, on the record, or for  background,  not  for 
attribution,  for  confirmation, there's a whole bunch  of  'em."  
Scott  realized  that  Hugh knew nothing about the  press  so  he 
explained the options slowly.  "Which one would you like?"  Scott 
wanted  it  to seem that Sidneys was in control  and  making  the 

"How  about  we  just  talk,  and  you  tell  me  what  I  should 
do . . .what you think . . .and . . .I don't want anything in the 
paper.   You have one for that?"  Hugh was feeling easier on  the 
phone with  Scott.

"Sure do.  We'll just call it off the record for now.  Everything 
you  tell  me, I promise not to use it without  your  permission.  
Will that do?" Scott smiled broadly.  If you speak loudly with  a 
big  smile  on your face, people on the other end  of  the  phone 
think  you're honest and that you mean what you say.  That's  how 
game show hosts do it.

"OK."   Scott heard Sidneys inhale deeply. "Those papers you  say 
you have?  Remember?" 

"Sure  do.  Got them right here." Scott patted them on his  clut-
tered desk.  

"Well, you can't have them.  Or you shouldn't have them.  I  mean 
it's  impossible."   Hugh was getting nervous again.   His  voice 
nearly squeaked.

"Hugh,  I  do have them, and you all but confirmed  that  for  me 
yesterday.   A weak confirmation, but I think you know more  than 
you let on . . ."

"Mr. Mason . . ."

"Please, call me Scott!"

"OK . . .Scott.  What I'm trying to say is that what you say  you 
have, you can't have cause it never existed." 

"What  do you mean never existed?"  Scott was confused,  terribly 
confused  all  of sudden.  He raised his voice. "Listen,  I  have 
reams  of  paper here that say someone at First State  is  a  big 
crook.  Then you say, 'sure it's real' and now you don't.  What's 
your  game, Mister?"  Playing good-cop bad-cop alone  was  diffi-
cult, but a little pressure may bring this guy down to reality.

"Obviously you have them, that's not the point."  Sidneys reacted 
submissively  to  Scott's ersatz domineering  personality.   "The 
only place that those figures ever existed was in my mind and  in 
my  computer.  I never made a printout.  They were never  put  on 
paper."  Hugh said resolutely. 

Scott's mind whirred.  Something is wrong with this picture.   He 
has  papers that were never printed, or so says a guy whose  sta-
bility  is  currently in question.  The contents would  have  far 
reaching  effects on the S&L issue.  A highly visible tip of  the 
iceberg.   McMillan, involved in that kind of thing?  Never,  not 
Mr. Clean.  What was Sidneys getting at?

"Mr.  Sidneys . . .Hugh . . .do you have time to have a  cup   of 
coffee  somewhere.   It might be easier if we sat face  to  face.  
Get to know each other."

Rosie's Diner was one of the better Greasy Spoons near the Hudson 
River  docks on Manhattan's West Side.  The silver  interior  and 
exterior  was not a cliche when this diner was built. Rosie,  all 
280  pounds  of her, kept the UPS truckers coming back  for  over 
thirty  years.   A lot of the staff at the paper ate  here,  too.  
For  the  best tasting cholesterol in New York,  saturated  fats, 
bacon  and  sausage  grease flavored starches,  Rosie's  was  the 
place.  Once a month at Rosie's would guarantee a reading of over 

Scott  recognized  Hugh from a distance.  No one  came  in  there 
dressed.   Had  to be an accountant.  Hugh hugged  his  briefcase 
while nervously looking around the diner. Scott called the  short 
pale  man over to the faded white formica and dull chrome  booth.  
Hugh ordered a glass of water, while Scott tried to make a  light 
dinner of it.

"So, Hugh,  please continue with what you were telling me on  the 
phone."  Scott tried to sound empathetic. 

"It's  like I said, I don't know how you got them or  they  found 
out.   It's  impossible."  The voice was uncannily  like  Pebbles 
Flintstone in person.

"Who found out?  Does someone else know . . .?"

"OK," Hugh sighed.  "I work for First State, right? I work  right 
with McMillan although nobody except a few people know it.   They 
think  I do market analysis and research.  What I'm really  doing  
is helping shelter money in offshore investment accounts.   There 
are  some tax benefits, I'm not a tax accountant so I don't  know 
the reasons, but I manage the offshore investments."

"Did you think that was illegal?"

"Only a little.  Until recently that is."

"Sorry, continue."  Scott nibbled from the sandwich on his plate.

"Well  there  was  only one set of books to  track  the  offshore 
investments.   They  wanted them to be kept  secret  for  various 
reasons.  McMillan and the others made the deals, not me. I  just 
moved the money for them." Again Hugh was feeling paranoid.

"Hugh,   you moved some money around illegally, maybe.  So  what?  
What's  the  big deal?"  Scott gulped some hot  black  coffee  to 
chase the pastrami that almost went down the wrong pipe.

Sidneys  continued after sipping his water and wetting his  lips. 
"Four  days  ago I got this call, from some  Englishman  who  I'd 
never spoken to before.  He said he has all the same figures  and 
facts  you said you have.  He starts reading enough to me  and  I 
know  he's got what he says he got.  Then he says he wants me  to 
cooperate  or he'll go public with everything and blow  it  right 
out of the water."  Hugh was perspiring with tension.  His  fists 
were clenched and knuckles white.

"And then, I called you and you came unglued. Right?"  Scott  was 
trying to emotionally console Hugh, at least enough to get  some-
thing  more.  "Do you think you were being blackmailed?  Did  he, 
the  English guy, demand  anything? Money? Bribes?  Sex?"   Scott 
grinned.  Hugh obviously did not appreciate the attempt at  levi-

"No,  nothing.  He just said that I would hear from him  shortly.  
That  was it. Then, nothing, until you called.  Then I figured  I 
missed his call."  Hugh was working himself into another  nervous 

"Did he threaten you?"

"No. Not directly.  Just said  that it would be in my best inter-
est to  cooperate."

"What did you say?"

"What could I say?  I mumbled something about doing nothing wrong 
but  he said that didn't matter and I would be blamed for  every-
thing and that he could prove it."

"Could  he prove it?" Hugh was scribbling furiously in his  note-

"If  he had the files in my computer I guess I would look  pretty 
guilty,   but there's no way anyone could get in there.  I'm  the 
only  one, other than McMillan who can get at that  stuff.   It's 
always  been a big secret.  We don't even make any  printouts  of 
it.   It's never on paper, just in the computer." Hugh fell  back 
in  the thinly stuffed torn red Naugahyde bench seat  and  gulped 
from his water glass.  

Scott shook his head as he scanned the notes he had been  making. 
This  didn't make any sense at all.  Here was this  little  nerdy 
man,  with a convoluted tale of embezzlement and  blackmail,  off 
shore money and he was scared.  "Hugh," Scott began slowly.  "Let 
me  see  if I've got this right.  You were part of  a  scheme  to 
shift investments overseas, falsify reports, yet the  investments 
always  made a reasonable return in investment."  Hugh nodded  in 
agreement silently.

"Then,  after  how many, eight years of this, creating  a  secret 
little world that only you and McMillan know about . . ."

"A few others knew, I have the names, but only McMillan could get 
the  information from the computer. No one else could.  I set  it 
up that way on purpose." Hugh interrupted. 

"OK,  then you receive a call from some Englishman who says  he's 
got  the numbers you say are so safe and then I get a copy.   And 
the numbers agree with the results that First State reported.  Is 
that about it?" Scott asked, almost mocking the apparent  absurd-

"Yeah,  that's   it.  That's  what happened."  Hugh  Sidneys  was 
such a meek man.

"That  leaves me with a couple of possible conclusions. One,  you  
got  yourself  in  over your head, finally decided  to  cut  your 
losses  and  make up this incredible story.   Maybe make  a  deal 
with  the cops or the Feds and try to be hero.  Maybe you're  the 
embezzler  and want out before  it's too late.  Born again  bean-
counter.  It's  a real possibility."  Hugh's face  grimaced;  no, 
that's not what happened, it's just as I told you. 
"Or,  two, McMillan is behind the disclosures and is  now  effec-
tively sabotaging his own plans.  For what reasons I could hardly 
venture a guess now.  But,  if what you are saying is true,  it's 
either you or McMillan."  Scott liked the analysis. It was  sound 
and  took  into account all available information,  omitting  any 

"Then why would someone want to threaten me? 

"Either you never got the call," the implication was obvious, "or 
McMillan is trying, quite effectively to spook you." Scott put  a 
few dollars on the table next to the check.

"That's  it?   You won't say anything, will you?  You  promised!" 
Hugh leaned into Scott, very close.

Scott consoled Hugh with a pat on his wrinkled suit sleeve.  "Not 
without  speaking  to you first. No, that  wouldn't  be  cricket.  
Don't worry, I'll call you in a couple of days."

His  editor,  Doug McGuire agreed that Scott should keep  on  it. 
There might be a story there, somewhere.  Go find it.  But  don't 
forget about the viruses.

* * * * * 

The  headline  of the National Expos, a  weekly  tabloid  caught 
Scott's  attention on his way home that evening in Grand  Central 


Scott's  entire story, the one he wasn't permitted to  print  was 
being  read  by  millions of  mid-American  supermarket  shopping 
housewives.  In its typically sensationalistic manner, the  arti-
cle  claimed   that  the Expose was in  exclusive  possession  of 
documents that proved McMillan was stealing 10's of millions from 
First  State  S&L.  It even printed a fuzzy picture of  the  same 
papers that Scott had received.  How the hell?


                         Chapter 4

     Thursday, September 10
     Houston, Texas.

Angela Steinem dialed extension 4343, Network Administration  for 
MIS  at  the Treadline Oil Company in Houston,  Texas.   It  rang 
three  times before Joan Appleby answered. Joan was  the  daytime 
network administrator for Building 4.   Hundreds of IBM  personal 
computers were connected together so they could share information 
over a Novell local area network.  

"Joan, I don't bug you much, right?"  Angela said hesitantly.

"Angela, how about a good morning girl?"  They were good  friends 
outside of work but had very little business contact.

"Sorry, mornin'.  Joan, I gotta problem." 

"What's  troubling  ya hon."  Joan Texas spoke  with  a  distinct 
Texas twang.

"A little bird just ate my computer."   

"Well, then I guess I'd be lookin' out for Big Bird's data dump."  
Joan laughed in appreciation of the comedy.

"No  really.  A little bird flew all over my computer and ate  up 
all the letters and words on the screen. Seriously."

"Y'all are putting me on, right?"  Maggie's voice lilted.

"No.  No, I'm serious.  It was like a simple video game,  Pac-Man 
or something, ate up the screen.  I couldn't get it to come  back 
so I turned my computer off and now it won't do anything. All  it 
says is COMMAND.COM cannot be found. Now, what the hell does that 

Joan  Appleby  now took Angela seriously.  "It may mean  that  we 
have some mighty sick computers.  I'll be right there."

By the end of work, the Treadline Oil Company was essentially  at 
a  standstill.   Over  4,000 of  their  internal  microcomputers, 
mainly  IBM and Compaq's were out of commission.  The  virus  had 
successfully struck.

Angela  Steinem  and her technicians shut down the more  than  50 
local  area  networks  and gateways that  connected  the  various 
business  units.   They  contacted the  National  Computer  Virus 
Association  in San Mateo, California, NIST's  National  Computer 
Center  Laboratories and a dozen or so other watchdog groups  who 
monitor computer viruses.

This  was a new virus.  No one had seen it before.   Sorry,  they 
said.  If you can send us you hard disk, we may be able find  out 
what's going on . . .otherwise, your best bet is to dismantle the 
entire  computer system, all 4,000 plus of them, and  start  from 

Angela informed the Vice President of Information Systems that it 
would  be at least a week, maybe ten days before Treadline  would 
be fully operational again.

Mary  Wallstone,  secretary to Larry Gompers,  Junior  democratic 
representative from South Carolina was stymied.

Every  morning  between 7:30 and 8:00 AM she  opened  her  boss's 
office  and  made coffee.  Most mornings she brought  in  Dunkin' 
Donuts.   It was the only way she knew to insure that her  weight 
would  never ebb below 200 pounds.  Her pleasant silken skin  did 
not match the plumpness below.  At 28 she should have known  that 
meeting  Washington's best and brightest required a more  slender 

This morning she jovially sat down at her Apple Macintosh comput-
er  with 3 creme filled donuts and a mug of black coffee  with  4 
sugars.   She turned on the power switch and waited as the  hour-
glass icon indicated that the computer was booting. It was  going 
through  its  self  diagnostics as it did every  time  power  was 

Normally, after a few seconds, the Mac  would come alive and  the 
screen would display a wide range of options from which she could 
select.  Mary would watch the procedure carefully each time - she 
was an efficient secretary.

This  time, however, the screen displayed a new message, one  she 
had  not  seen in the nine months she had worked  as  Congressman 
Gompers' front line.






As she was trained, she heeded her computer's instructions.   She 
watched  and  waited  as the computer's  hard  disk  whirred  and 
buzzed.  She  wasn't familiar with the message,  but  it  sounded 
quite official, and after all, the computer is always right.  

And  she waited. Some few seconds, she thought, as she dove  into 
her  second  donut.  And she waited through the third  donut  and 
another mug of too sweet coffee.

She  waited nearly a half an hour, trying to oblige the  instruc-
tions  from the technocratic box on her desk.  The Mac  continued 
to  work, so she thought, but the screen didn't budge  from  it's 
warning message.

What  the  hell, this has taken long enough.  What  harm  can  it 
cause if . . .

She turned the power switch off and then back on.  Nothing.

The computer did absolutely nothing.  The power light was on, the 
disk light was on, but the screen was as blank as a dead  televi-
sion set.  

Mary  called Violet Beecham, a co worker in another  office  down 
the hall.

"'Morning Vi.  Mary."

Violet sounded agitated.  "Yeah, Mare, what is it?"

"I'm being a dumb bunny and need a hand with my computer.  Got  a 
sec?"  Mary's sweetness oozed over the phone.

"You,  too?  You're having trouble?  My computer's as dead  as  a 
doornail.   Won't  do  anything.  I mean  nothing."   Violet  was 
frustrated as all get out and the concern communicated to Mary.

"Dead? Vi, mine is dead too.  What happened to yours?"

"Damned  if I know.  It was doing some self check  or  something, 
seemed to take forever and then . . .nothing.  What about yours?"

"Same thing.  Have you called MIS yet?"  

"Not  yet,  but I'm getting ready to.  I never  did  trust  these 
things.  Give me a typewriter any day."

"Sure Vi.  I'll call you right back."

Mary  looked up the number for MIS Services, the technical  magi-
cians  in the basement who keep the 3100 Congressional  computers 

"Dave here,  can I help you?"  The voice spoke quickly and indif-

"Mary  Wallstone,  in Gompers  office.  My computer seems  to  be 
having  a little problem . . ."  Mary tried to treat the  problem 

"You and half of Congress.  Listen . . .is it Mary?  This morning 
is going to be a slow one.  My best guess is that over 2500  com-
puters died a quick death.  And you know what that mean."

"No, I don't..." Mary said hesitantly.

"It means a Big Mac Attack."

"A what?"

"Big  Mac, it's a computer  virus.   We thought  that  Virus-Stop 
software  would  stop it, but I guess there's a  new  strain  out 
there.  Congress is going to be ordering a lot of typewriters and 
legal pads for a while."

"You mean you can't fix it?  This virus?"

"Listen, it's like getting the flu.  Once you got it, you got it.  
You can't pretend you aren't sick.  Somebody took a good shot  at 
Congress  and  well  . . .they won.  We're gonna be  down  for  a 
while.   Couple of weeks at least.  Look, good luck, but I  gotta 
go."  Dave hung up.

Mary ate the other three donuts intended for her boss as she  sat 
idle at her desk wondering if she would have a job now that there 
were no more computers on Capitol Hill.

* * * * * 

     by Scott Mason, New York City Times

The Congressional Budget Office announced late yesterday that  it 
was requesting over $1 Million in emergency funding to counter  a 
devastating failure of Congress's computers.  

Most  of the computers used by both Senators and  Representatives 
are Apple Macintosh, but Apple Computer issued a quick  statement 
denying  any  connection  between the massive  failures  and  any 
production problems in their machines.

The CBO said that until the problems were corrected, estimates to 
take up to four weeks, that certain normal Congressional  activi-
ties would be halted or severely curtailed.  Electronic mail,  E- 
Mail  that has saved taxpayers millions, will be unavailable  for 
communications until October at a minimum.  Inter-office communi-
cations,  those that address legislative issues, proposed  bills, 
and  amendments have been destroyed and will require ". .  .weeks 
and  weeks  and  weeks of data entry just to get  back  where  we 
started.  This is a disaster."

The  culprit  is, of course, a computer virus.  The  question  on 
everyone's mind is, was this virus directed at Congress, or  were 
they merely an anonymous and unfortunate victim?

I  have an IBM PC clone at home.  Technically it's an AT  with  a 
hard  disk, so I'm not sure if that's an XT, and AXT, an XAT,  an 
ATX or . . .well whatever.  I use it to write a lot of my stories 
and  then  I can send the story to the computer at  work  for  an 
overdiligent editor to make it fit within my allotted space.

It never occurred to me that a computer could get sick.

I  am,  as we all are, used to our 'TV going on  the  Fritz',  or 
'Blowing a Fuse'.  It seems like a lot of  things blow: a  gasket 
blows,  a light bulb blows, a tire blows or blows out,  the  wind 
blows.  I am sure that Thomas W. Crapper, the 19th century inven-
tor of the flush toilet would not be pleased that in 1988 man has 
toasters  and other cooking devices that 'crap out'.   The  Phone 
Company 'screws up', the stock market 'goes to hell in a handbas-
ket'  and VCR's 'work for s__t'.  

It never occurred to me that a computer could get sick.

Computers  are supposed to 'crash'.  That means that either  Aunt 
Tillie  can't  find the ON switch or her cat knocked  it  on  the 
floor.  Computers have 'fatal errors' which obviously means  that 
they died and deserve a proper burial.  

It never occurred to me that a computer could get sick.

In  the  last few weeks there have been a lot  of  stories  about 
computers across the country getting ill.  Sick, having the  flu, 
breathing  difficulty, getting rashes, itching, scratching  them-
selves . . .otherwise having a miserable time.  

Let's  look at the medical analogy to the dreaded computer  virus 
that  indiscriminately  attacks and destroys  any  computer  with 
which it comes in contact.

Somewhere  in  the  depths of the countryside   of  the  People's 
Republic of China, a naturally mutated submicroscopic microbe has 
the nerve to be aerodynamically transferred to the smoggy air  of 
Taiwan.   Upon landing in Taipei, the microbe attaches itself  to 
an impoverished octogenarian who lives in an overpopulated 1 room 
apartment over a fish store.

The  microbe works its way into this guy's blood  stream,  unbek-
nownst  to him, and in a few days, he's sicker than a  dog.   But 
this microbe is smart, real smart.  It has heard of  antibiotics, 
and in the spirit of true Darwinism, it replicates itself  before 
being  killed off  with a strengthened immunity. So, the  microbe 
copies  itself and when Kimmy Chen shakes hands with his  custom-
ers, some of them are lucky enough to receive an exact duplicate, 
clone if you will, of his microbe.  Then they too, get ill.  

The  microbe  thus propagates its species until the  entire  East 
Coast of the US has billions and trillions of identical  microbes 
costing  our fragile economy untold millions of dollars  in  sick 

However,  the microbe is only so smart.  After a while,  the  mi-
crobe  mutates  itself into a benign chemical  compound  that  no 
longer can copy itself and the influenza epidemic is over.  Until 
next  year when Asian Flu B shows up and the process  begins  all 
over  again.  (The same group of extremists who believe that  the 
Tri-Lateral  commission  runs the world and Queen  Elizabeth  and 
Henry  Kissinger are partners in the heroine trade think the  AMA 
is behind all modern flu epidemics. No comment.)

The point of all of this diatribe is that computers can get  sick 
too. With a virus.

Don't  worry, mom.  Your computer can't give you the flu  anymore 
than  your fish can get feline leukemia. 

It all started years ago, before Wozniak and Apple and the PC.

Before personal computers there were mainframes; huge room  sized  
computers to crunch on numbers.  One day, years ago, Joe, (that's 
not a real name, it's changed to protect him) decided it would be 
great fun to play a prank on Bill, another programmer who  worked 
at a big university.  Joe wrote a little program that he put into 
Bill's big computer.  Every time Bill typed the word 'ME' on  his 
keyboard,  the computer would take over.  His video screen  would 
fill up with the word 'YOU', repeating itself hundreds and  thou-
sands of times.  Bill's computer would become useless.

That  was called a practical joke to computer  programmers.   Joe 
and Bill both got a laugh out of it, and no harm was done.   Then 
Bill  decided  to get back at Joe.  He put a small  program  into 
Joe's big computer.  Every day at precisely 3:00 P.M., a  message 
appeared: 'Do Not Pass GO!'.

It  was all good fun and became a personal challenge to  Joe  and 
Bill to see how they could annoy each other.

Word  spread about the new game.  Other graduate students at  the 
university got involved and soon computer folks at Cal Tech, MIT, 
Carnegie  Mellon, Stanford and elsewhere got onto the  bandwagon.  
Thus was born the world's first computer disease, the virus.

This is Scott Mason. Using a typewriter.

* * * * * 

     November, 3 Years Ago
     Sunnyvale, California.

When Data Graphics Inc. went public in 1987, President and found-
er  Pierre  Troubleaux,  a nationalized American  born  in  Paris 
momentarily  forgot  that  he had sold his soul  to  achieve  his 
success.   The company, to the financial community known as  DGI, 
was on the road to being in as much favor as Lotus or  Microsoft.  
Annual sales of  $300 Million with a pre-tax bottom line of  over 
$55 Million were cause celebre on Wall Street.  The first  public 
issues  raised over $200 Million for less than 20% of the  common 
stock.   With a book value in excess of $1  Billion,  preparation 
for a second offering began immediately after the first sold  out 
in 2 hours.

The  offering made Pierre Troubleaux, at 29, a rich man;  a  very 
rich man.  He netted almost $20 Million in cash and another  $100 
Million in options over 5 years.  No one objected.  He had earned 
it.   DGI  was the pearl of the computer industry in  a  time  of 
shake  ups  and shake outs.  Raging profits,   unbridled  growth, 
phenomenal market penetration and superb management.  

Perhaps  the most  unique feature of DGI,  other than its  Presi-
dent's deal with the devil, was that it was a one product  compa-
ny.   DGI was somewhat like Microsoft in that they both got  rich 
and famous on one product.  While Microsoft branched out from DOS 
into  other  product areas, DGI elected to remain  a  1   product 
company  and  merely make flavors of its products  available  for 
other  companies which then private labeled them under their  own 

Their software product was dubbed dGraph, a marketing abbreviated 
term for data-Graphics. Simply put, dGraph let users,  especially 
novices,  run their computers with pictures and icons instead  of 
complex  commands  that  must be remembered  and  typed.   dGraph 
theoretically  made IBM computers as easy to use as a  Macintosh.  
Or, the computer could be trained to follow instructions in plain 
English.  It was a significant breakthrough for the industry.

DGraph was so easy to use,  and so powerful in its abilities that 
it  was  virtually  an instant success.   Almost  every  computer 
manufacturer  offered dGraph as part of its standard fare.   Just 
as  a  computer needed DOS to function, it was  viewed  that  you 
needed dGraph before you even loaded the first program.   Operat-
ing  without  dGraph  was considered  archaic.  "You  don't  have 
dGraph?"   "How  can you use your computer without  dGraph?"   "I 
couldn't live without dGraph."  "I'd be lost without dGraph."

The ubiquitous non-technical secretaries especially loved dGraph.  
DGraph  was taught at schools such as Katherine Gibbs and  Secre- 
Temps  who insisted that all its  girls  were fluent in  its  ad-
vanced uses. You just can't run a office without it!

As  much  as anything in the computer industry is, dGraph  was  a 
standard.   Pierre Troubleaux was unfortunately under the  misim-
pression that the success for DGI was his and his alone and  that 
he too was a standard . . .a fixture.  The  press  and  computers 
experts portrayed to the public that he was the company's  singu-
lar genius, with remarkable technical aptitude to see "beyond the 
problem to the solution . . .".

The  official  DGI  biography of Pierre  Troubleaux,  upon  close 
examination,  reads  like that of an inflated resume by a  person 
applying  for a position totally outside his field of  expertise.  
Completely   unsuited for the job.  But the media hype had  rele-
gated that minor inconsistency to old news.

In  reality  Troubleaux was a musician.  He was  an  accomplished 
pianist  who also played another twenty instruments,  very,  very 
well.  By the age of ten he was considered something of a prodigy 
and  his parents decided that they would move from Paris  to  New 
York, the United States, for proper schooling.  Pierre's scholar-
ships at Julliard made the decision even easier.  

Over the years Pierre excelled in performances and was critically 
acclaimed as having a magnificent future where he could call  the 
shots.  As a performer or composer.  But Pierre had other  ideas.  
He  was  rapt  in the study of the theory of  music.   How  notes 
related  to each other.  How scales related to each other.   What 
made  certain atonalities subjectively pleasing yet  others  com-
pletely offensive.  He explored the relationships between Eastern 
polyphonic  scales and the Western twelve note  scale.   Discord, 
harmony,  melody, emotional responses; these were the true  loves  
of Pierre Troubleaux.  

Upon   graduation from Julliard he announced,  that  contrary  to 
his family's belief and desire, he would not seek advanced train-
ing. Rather, he would continue his study of musical relationships 
which by now had become an obsession. There was little  expertise 
in  this  specific area, so he pursued it alone.   He  wrote  and 
arranged music only to provide him with enough funds to exist  in 
his pallid Soho loft in downtown Manhattan.    

He  believed  that there was an inherent underlying  Natural  Law 
that  guided  music and musical appreciation.  If he  could  find 
that  Law,  he would have the formula for  making  perfect  music 
every  time.   With the Law at  the crux of all music,  and  with 
control  over the Law, he ruminated, one could write  a   musical 
piece  to  suit the specific goals of the writer and  create  the 
desired effect on the listener.  By formula.

In 1980 Pierre struggled to organize the unwieldy amount of  data 
he  had  accumulated.  His collections  of  interpretive  musical 
analysis  filled file cabinets and countless shelves.  He  relied 
on  his  memory to find anything in the reams of paper,  and  the 
situation was getting  out of control.  He needed a solution.

Max  Jones was a casual acquaintance that Pierre had met  at  the 
Lone  Star Cafe on the corner of 13th and 5th Avenue.   The  Lone 
Star was a New York fixture, capped with a 60 foot iguana on  the 
roof.  They both enjoyed the live country acts that played there.  
Max played the roll of an Urban Cowboy who had temporarily  given 
up  Acid  Rock in favor of shit kickin'  Southern  Rock.   Pierre 
found the musical phenomenon of Country Crossover Music  intrigu-
ing,  so he rationalized that drinking and partying at  the  Lone 
Star  was  a worthwhile endeavor which contributed to  his  work.  
That may have been partially true.

Max  was  a  computer jock who worked for one of  the  Big  Eight 
accounting firms in midtown Manhattan. A complex mixture of  com-
puter junkie, rock'n'roll aficionado and recreational drug  user, 
Max maintained the integrity of large and small computer  systems 
to pay the bills.

"That  means  they pretend to pay me and I pretend  to  work.   I 
don't really do anything productive."

Max was an "ex-hippie who put on shoes to make a living"  and   a 
social  anarchist at heart.  At 27, Max had the rugged look  that 
John  Travolta popularized in the 70's but on a rock  solid  trim 
six foot five 240 pound frame. He dwarfed Pierre's mere five feet 
ten inches.

Pierre's  classic  European good looks and  tailored  appearance, 
even  in  jeans  and a T-shirt were a strong  contrast  to  Max's  
ruddiness.   Pierre's jet black hair was side parted and  covered 
most of his ears as it gracefully tickled his shoulders.  

Piercing  black eyes stared over a prominent Roman nose and  thin 
cheeks which tapered in an almost feminine chin.  There was never 
any confusion, though; no one in their right mind would ever view 
Pierre  as anything but a confirmed and  practiced  heterosexual.  
His  years of romantic achievements proved  it.  The remnants  of 
his French rearing created an  unidentifiable formal and educated 
accent;  one which held incredible sex appeal to American women. 

Max  and Pierre sipped at their beers while Max rambled on  about 
how  wonderful  computers were.  They were going  to  change  the 

"In a few years every one on the planet will have his own comput-
er  and  it will be connected to everyone else's  computer.   All 
information will be free and the planet will be a better place to 
live and so on . . ."  Max's technical sermons bordered on  reli-
gious  preaching. He had bought into the beliefs of Steven  Jobs, 
the young charismatic founder and spiritual guiding force  behind 
Apple Computer.

Pierre  had heard it before, especially after Max had had a  few.  
His  view of a future world with everyone sitting in front  of  a 
picture tube playing  with numbers and more numbers . . .and then 
a thought hit him.

"Max . . .Max . . ." Pierre was trying to break into another  one 
of Max's Apple pitches. 

"Yeah  .  . .oh yeah, sorry Amigo.  What's that  you  say?"   Max 
sipped deeply on a long neck Long Star beer. 

"These computers you play with . . ."

"Not  play,  work with.  Work with!" He pointed  emphatically  at 
nothing in particular.

"OK, work with.  Can these computers play, er, work with music?"

Max looked quizzically at Pierre. "Music, sure.  You just program 
it  in  and  out it comes.  In fact, the Apple II  is  the  ideal 
computer  to  play  music.   You  can  add  a  synthesizer   chip 
and . . ."  

"What if I don't know anything about computers?"

"Well,   that  makes  it a little harder, but why doncha  let  me 
show you what I mean."  Max smiled wide.  This was what he loved, 
playing  with  computers and talking to people about  them.   The 
subject was still a mystery to the majority of people in 1980.  

Pierre winced. He realized that if he took up Max on his offer he 
would be subjected to endless hours  of computer war stories  and 
technical esoterica he couldn't care less about.  That may be the 
price though, he thought.  I can always stop.

Over  the  following months they became fast  friends  as  Pierre 
tutored  under Max's guiding hand.  Pierre found that  the  Apple 
had  the ability to handle large amounts of data.  With  the  new 
program  called Visi-Calc, he made large charts of his music  and 
their numbers and examined their relationships.  

As Pierre learned more about applying computers to his studies in 
musical  theory,  his questions of Max and demands of  the  Apple 
became increasingly complex. One night after several beers and  a 
couple  of joints Pierre asked Max what he thought was  a  simple 

"How can we program the Apple so that it knows what each piece of 
data means?" he inquired innocently.

"You  can't  do  that, man." Max snorted.  "Computers,  yes  even 
Apples  are stupid.  They're just a tool.  A shovel doesn't  know 
what  kind  of dirt it's digging, just that  it's  digging."   He 
laughed out loud at the thought of a smart shovel.

Pierre found the analogy worth a prolonged fit of giggles through 
which he managed to ask, "but what if you told the computer  what 
it  meant  and it learned from there.  On its own.  Can't a  com-
puter learn?"

Max was seriously stoned.  "Sure I guess so.  Sure.  In theory it 
could learn to do your job or mine.  I remember a story I read by 
John Garth.  It was called Giles Goat Boy.  Yeah, Giles Goat Boy, 
what  a title.  Essentially  it's about this Goat, musta  been  a 
real smart goat cause he talked and thunk and acted like a  kid."  
They  both roared at the double entendre of kid.  That was  worth 
another joint.

"At  any   rate," Max tried to control  his  spasmodic  chuckles.  
"At  any  rate, there were these two computers who  competed  for 
control of the world and this kid, I mean,"  laughing too hard to 
breath,  "I  mean this goat named Giles went on search  of  these 
computers to tell them they weren't doing a very good job."

"So, what has that got to do with an Apple learning," Pierre said 
wiping the tears from his eyes.

"Not a damn thing!"  They entered another spasm of laughter.  "No 
really.   Most people either think, or like to think that a  com-
puter can think.  But they can't, at least not like you and me. " 
Max had calmed down.

"So?" Pierre thought there might still be a point to this conver-

"So, in theory, yeah, but probably not for a while.  10 years  or 

"In theory, what?"  Pierre asked.  He was lost.

"In theory a machine could think."

"Oh."  Pierre was disappointed.  

"But,  you might be able to emulate thinking. H'mmmm."   Max  re-
treated  into mental oblivion as Abbey Road played in  the  back-
ground.   Anything from Apple records was required  listening  by 

"Emulate.   Emulate?   What's that?  Hey, Max.   What's  emulate?  
Hey Max, c'mon back to Earth.  Emulate what?"

Max  jolted  back  to reality. "Oh, copy.  You  know,  act  like.  
Emulate.  Don't they teach you emulation during sex education  in 
France?"   They  both thought  that that was the  funniest  thing 
ever said, in any language for all of written and pre-history.

The  substance of the evening's conversation went  downhill  from 

A few days later Max came by Pierre's loft.  "I been thinking."

"Scary  thought.   About what?" Pierre didn't look  up  from  his 

"About  emulating thought.  You know what we were  talking  about 
the other night."

"I can't remember this morning much less getting shit faced  with 
you the other night."

"You were going on and on about machines thinking.  Remember?"

"Yes," Pierre lied.

"Well, I've been thinking about it." Max had a remarkable ability 
to  recover  from  an evening of  illicit  recreation.  He  could  
actually grasp the germ of a stoned idea and let a straight  mind 
deal  with it the following day.  "And, I maybe got a way  to  do 
what you want."

"What do I want?" Pierre tried to remember.

"You  want to be able to label all of your music  so that to  all 
appearances each piece of music knows about every other piece  of 
music. Right?"

"Kinda,  yeah,  but you said that was impossible .  .  ."  Pierre 
trailed off.

"In  the true sense, yes.  Remember emulation though?   Naw,  you 
were  too stoned.  Here's  the basic idea."  Max ran over to  the 
fridge,  grabbed  a beer and leapt into a bean  bag  chair.   "We 
assign  a value to every piece  of music.  For example, in  music 
we might assign a value to each note.  Like, what note it is, the 
length  of  the  note, the attack and decay  are  the  raw  data.  
That's just a number.  But the groupings of the notes are  what's 
important.  The groupings.  Get it?"

Pierre was intrigued.  He nodded. Maybe Max did understand  after 
all. Pierre leaned forward with anticipation and listened intent-
ly,  unlike in one ear out the other treatment he  normally  gave 
Max's sermons. 

"So  what  we do  is program the Apple to recognize  patterns  of 
notes;  groupings, in any size.  We do it in pictures instead  of 
words. Maybe a bar, maybe a scale, maybe even an entire  symphony 
orchestra.  All 80 pieces at once!"  Max's enthusiasm was  conta-
gious.  "As the data is put in the computer, you decide what  you 
want to call each grouping.  You name it anything you want.  Then 
we  could have the computer look for similar groupings and  label 
them.   They  could all be put on a curve, some graphic  of  some 
kind, and then show how they differ and by how much.  Over  time, 
the  computer  could learn to recognize  rock'n'roll  from  Opera 
from radio jingles to Elevator Music.  It's all in the  patterns. 
Isn't that what you want?"  Max beamed while speaking  excitedly.  
He knew he had something here.

Max  and  Pierre worked together and decided to switch  from  the 
Apple II computer to the new IBM  PC for technical reasons beyond 
Pierre's understanding.  As they labored, Max realized that if he 
got his "engine" to run, then it would be useful for hundreds  of 
other  people  who needed to relate data to each  other  but  who 
didn't know much about computers. 

In  late 1982 Max's engine came to life on its own.   Pierre  was 
programming  in pictures and in pure English. He was getting back 
some incredible results.  He was finding  that many of the  popu-
lar rock guitarists were playing lead riffs that had a  genealogy 
which sprang from Indian polyphonic sitar strains. 

He  found curious relationships between American  Indian  rhythms 
and  Baltic sea farer's music. All the while, as Pierre  searched 
the  reaches of the musical unknown, Max convinced  himself  that 
everyone else in the world would want his graphical engine, too.

Through  a series of contacts within his Big Eight  company,  Max 
was put in touch with Hambrecht Quist, the famed Venture  Capital 
firm  that  assisted such high tech startups as Apple, Lotus  and 
other  shining stars in the early days of the computer  industry. 
Max  was looking for an investor to finance the marketing of  his 
engine that would change the world.  His didactic and circumlocu-
tous preaching didn't get him far.   While everyone was polite at 
his presentations, afterwards they had little idea of what he was 
talking about.  

"The  Smart Engine permits anyone to cross-relate  individual  or 
matrices  of data with an underlying attribute structure that  is 
defined by the user.  It's like creating a third dimension.  Data 
is conventionally viewed in a two dimensional viewing field,  yet 
is  really a one dimension stream.  In either source  dimensional 
view,  the  addition of a three dimensional  attribute  structure 
yields  interrelationships that are not inherently obvious.  Thus 
we use graphical representations to simplify the entire process."

After several weeks of pounding the high risk financial community 
of  the San Francisco Bay area, Max was despondent.  Damn it,  he  
thought.   Why  don't   they understand.  I  outline  the  entire 
theory  and  they don't get it.  Jeez, it's so easy to  use.   So 
easy to use.  Then the light bulb lit in his mind.  Call  Pierre. 
I need Pierre.  Call Pierre in New York. 

"Pierre, it's Max."  Max sounded quite excited.

"How's the Coast."

"Fine, Fine. You'll find out tomorrow. You're booked on  American 
#435 tomorrow."

"Max, I can't go to California. I have so much work to do."

"Bullshit.  You owe me.  Or have I forgotten to bill you for  the 
engine?"  He was calling in a favor.

"Hey,  it  was my idea.  You didn't even understand  what  I  was 
talking about until . . ."

"That's  the whole point, Pierre.  I can't explain the engine  to 
these Harvard MBA asswipes.   It was your idea and you got me  to 
understand.   I just need you to get some of these  investors  to 
understand  and  then we can have a company and make  some  money 
selling engines." Max's persistence was annoying, but Pierre knew 
that he had to give in.  He owed it to Max.

The   new presentations Max and Pierre put on went so  well  that 
they had three offers for start up financing within a week.  And, 
it was all due to Pierre.  His genial personality and ability  to 
convey the subtleties of a complex piece of software using actual 
demonstrations from his music were the touchy-feely the investors 
wanted.  It wasn't that he was technical; he really wasn't.   But 
Pierre had an innate ability to recognize a problem, theoretical-
ly,  and reduce it to its most basic components.  And the  Engine 
was so  easy to use.  All you had  to do was . . .

It worked.  The brainy unintelligible technical wizard and  char-
ismatic front man.  And the device, whatever it was, it seemed to 

The  investors installed their own marketing person to get  sales 
going and Pierre was asked to be President.  At first he said  he 
didn't  want  to.   He didn't know how to run  a  company.   That 
doesn't  matter, the investors said.  You are a salable item.   A 
person  whom  the press and future investors can relate  to.   We 
want you to be the image of the company.  Elegance, suave,  upper 
class. All that European crap packaged for the media.  Steve Jobs 
all over again.

Pierre relented, as long as he could continue his music.

Max's  engine was renamed dGraph by the marketing folks  and  the 
company was popularly known as DGI.  Using Byte, Personal Comput-
ing,  Popular Computing and the myriad computer magazines of  the 
early  1980's,  dGraph was made famous and used  by  all  serious 
computer users.  

DGraph  could interface with the data from other programs,  dBase 
II,  123,  Wordstar and then relate it in  ways  never  fathomed.  
Automatically. Users could assign  their own language of, at that 
time,  several hundred words, to describe the third dimension  of 
data.   Or, they could do it in pictures. While the data  on  the 
screen  was being manipulated, the computer, unbeknownst  to  the 
operator,  was  constantly  forming  and  updating  relationships 
between the data.   Ready to be called upon at any time.

As the ads said, "dGraph for dData."

As  success reigned, the demand upon Pierre's time  increased  so 
that he had little time for his music.  By 1986 he lived a virtu-
al fantasy.  He was on the road, speaking, meeting with  writers, 
having  press  conferences every time a new use for   dGraph  was 
announced.  He was adored by the media.  He swam in the glory  of 
the  attention  by  the women who found  his fame  and  image  an 
irresistible  adjunct to  his now almost legendary French  accent 
and captivating  eyes.  

Pierre  and Max were the hottest young entrepreneurs  in  Silicon 
Valley; the darlings of the VC community.  And the company  spar-
kled  too.  It was being run by professionals and Max  headed  up 
the engineering group.  As new computers appeared on the  market, 
like  the IBM AT, additional power could be effectively put  into 
the  Engine  and  Voila! a new version of dGraph  would  hit  the 
market to the resounding ring of an Instant Hit on Softsel's  Top 

Max,  too,  liked  his position.  He was making a great  deal  of 
money, ran his own show with the casualness of his former  hippie 
days, yet could get on the road with Pierre any time he needed  a 
break.   Pierre  got into the act hook, line and sinker  and  Max 
acted  the  role of genius behind 'The Man'. That  gave  Max  the 
freedom to avoid the microscope of the press yet take a twirl  in 
the fast lane whenever he felt the urge.  

The  third  round  of funding for DGI came  from  an   unexpected 
place.   Normally  when a company is as successful  as  DGI,  the 
original  investors go along for the ride.  That's how  the  VC's 
who  worked  with  Lotus, Compaq, Apple and  other  were  getting 
filthy  stinking  rich.  The first two rounds went  as  they  had 
planned, the third didn't. 

"Mr. Troubleaux," Martin Fisk, Chairman of Underwood  Investments 
said  to Pierre in DGI's opulent offices. "Pierre, there is  only 
one way to say this. Our organization will no longer be  involved 
with  DGI.  We have sold our interest to a Japanese firm who  has 
been trying to get into the American computer field."

"What  will that change? Anything?"  Pierre was nonplused by  the 

"Not as far as you're concerned.  Oh, they will bring in a few of 
their  own people, satisfy their egos and protect  their  invest-
ment,  that's entirely normal.  But, they especially want you  to 
continue on as President of DGI.  No, no real changes."

"What about Max?" Pierre had true concern for his friend.

"He'll  remain, in his present capacity.  Essentially the  finan-
cial people will be reporting to new owners that's all."

"Are we still going to go public?  That's the only way I'm  gonna 
make any real money."

Martin was flabbergasted.  Pierre wasn't in the least  interested 
as  to  why the company changed hands.  He only  wanted  to  know 
about  the money, how much money he would make and when.   Pierre 
never  bothered to ask, nor was it offered, that Underwood  would 
profit over 400 percent on their original investment.  The  Japa-
nese buyer was paying more than the company was worth now.   They 
had come in offering an amount of money way beyond what an  open-
ing offer should have been.  Underwood did a search on the  Japa-
nese  company and its American subsidiary, Data Tech.  They  were 
real,  like  $30  Billion real and did were  expanding  into  the 
information  processing field through acquisitions, primarily  in 
the United States.  

Underwood sold it's 17% stake in DGI for $350 Million, more  than 
twice its true value. They sold quickly and quietly.  Even though 
Pierre  and Max should have had some say in the transfer,  Under-
wood  controlled  the board of directors and  technically  didn't 
need  the founder's consensus.  Not that it overtly  appeared  to 
mattered to Pierre.  Max gave the paper transfer a cursory exami-
nation, at least asked the questions that were meaningless to the 
transformed Pierre, and gave the deal his irrelevant blessings.

After  the meeting with the emissaries from DGI's new owner,  OSO 
Industries,  Pierre  and Max were confident  that  nothing  would 
change  for them.  They would each continue in  their  respective 
roles.   The day to day interference was expected to be  minimal, 
but  the  planned  public offering would  be  accelerated.   That 
suited Pierre just fine; he would make out like a bandit.

Several  days before  the date of  issue, Pierre received a  call 
from Tokyo.  

"Mr. Troubleaux?" The thick  Japanese accent mangled his name  so 
badly Pierre cringed.

"Yes, this is Pierre Troubleaux," he said exaggerating his French  
accent.   The  Japanese  spoke French as well  as  a  hair-lipped 
stutterer  could  recite "Peter Piper picked a  peck  of  pickled 

"I wish to inform you,  sir, that the Chairman of OSO is to visit 
your city tomorrow and participate in your new successes.   Would 
this be convenient?"  

Pierre had only one possible response to the command  performance 
he  was  being   'invited' to.  Since OSO had  bought  into  DGI, 
Pierre was constantly mystified by the ritualism associated  with 
Japanese  business.  They could say "Yes!" a hundred times  in  a 
meeting, yet everyone present understood that the speakers really 
meant "No Way, Jose!"  There of course was the need for a quality 
gift  for  any visitor from Japan. Johnny Walker  Black  was  the 
expected  gift over which each recipient would feign  total  sur-
prise. Pierre had received more pearl jewelry  from the  Japanese 
than he could use for ten wives.  But the ritual was preserved.

"Of  course  it  will.  I would be most honored.  If   you  could 
provide  me with details of his flight I will see to it  that  he 
receives appropriate treatment."

"Very good Mr. Troubleaux." Pierre stifled a smirk at the mispro-
nunciation. "Your trouble  will not go unrewarded."

"Mr. Homosoto, it is so good of you to visit at this time.   Very 
auspicious, sir."  Pierre was kissing some ass.

"Troubleaux-San,"  Homosoto's  English  had a  touch   of  Boston 
snobbery in it, "you have performed admirably, and we all look to 
continued  successes in the future.  I expect, as I am  sure  you 
do, that the revenues raised from your public stock offering will 
provide  your company with the resources to grow ten  fold."   It 
was a statement that demanded an answer.  Another Japanese quirk.

"Yessir, of course.  As you know, Mr. Homosoto, I am not involved 
in the day to day operations and the forecasting.  My function is 
more  to inspire the troops and carry the standard, so to  speak.  
I will have to rely  upon the expertise of others to give you the 
exact answers you seek."

"That  is  not necessary, I have all I need to  know  about  your 
business and its needs.  Your offer is most kind." 

"Why  do you call DGI my business?  Aren't we in  this  together?  
Partners?"   Pierre clarified the idiom for the rotund  bespecta-
cled Chairman of OSO Industries.

"Hai!   Of  course, my friend, we are partners, and you  will  be 
very  wealthy in a few days."  That statement had the air  of  an 
accusation  more than good wishes.  "There is  one little  thing, 
though. It  is so small that I don't wish to mention it."

Well then don't, thought Pierre.  "Nothing is so small it should-
n't  be  mentioned.   Please, proceed Homosoto-San.   How  may  I 

"That's it exactly!"  Homosoto beamed. "I do need your help.  Not 
today, but in the future, perhaps a small favor."

"Anytime  at all, sir.  Whatever I can I will."  Pierre  was  re-
lieved.  Just some more Japanese business practices that  escaped 

Homosoto  leaned in towards Pierre. His demeanor had  shifted  to 
one  of  a very serious man. "Mr. Troubleaux, how can I  be  sure 
that you won't disappoint me?  How can I be sure?"

The  question  threw Pierre for a loop.  How can he be  sure?   I 
don't know.  Maybe this was only an Oriental game of mumbley  peg 
or chicken.  "Sir, what would I need to do to convince you of  my 
willingness to comply?"  When in doubt, ask.

Homosoto relaxed again, leaned back in the plush office chair and 
smiled.   "In my country, Mr., Troubleaux, honor  is  everything.  
You  have nothing, nothing without your honor.  Every child,  man 
and woman in Japan knows that.  We are raised  with the focus  of 
growth  being honor.  During  the war between our  countries,  so 
many years ago, many found honor by making the supreme sacrifice.  
Kamikaze pilots are of whom I am speaking of, Mr. Troubleaux."

Pierre's  face  must  have given away the  panic  that  instantly 
struck him. Suicide?  This guy is truly nuts.

"Do  not worry, Mr. Troubleaux, I can see what you are  thinking.  
No.   I  only  speak of kamikaze pilots to serve  as  example  of 
honor.   The  kind  that brought honor to Japan in  the  face  of 
defeat.  That is something Americans will never understand.   But 
then again you're not American are  you?"

"I was born a Frenchman, but I naturalized over twenty years ago, 
at the same time my parents did."

"Ah  yes.  I remember.  Then honor does mean more to you than  to 
most  Americans.  That will be quite good.  Now, for  the  future 
favor.  I require nothing of you today, other than the  guarantee 
of you honor. Is that agreeable to you, Mr. Troubleaux?"  Homoso-
to was pushing with the facade of friendliness.  Pierre's concern 
was  not  alleviated.  All the same, he  reluctantly  nodded  his 

"Very  good.  Now for the favor."  Homosoto stood up and  reached 
inside  his size 48, ill fitting suit.  Pierre was amazed at  how 
much  money the Japanese had, yet were apparently unable to  ever 
wear clothes that fit properly.  

Homosoto  handed a 5 1/4" floppy disk to Pierre.  Pierre took  it 
carefully  from Homosoto and looked at the label.   The  diskette 
was marked only with:

     FILE1.EXE to FILE93.EXE

He  looked inquisitively at Homosoto, his eyes asking, Yeah,  so? 
What's this got to do with anything?

"I see now you are confused.  It is so simple, really.   Sometime 
in the future, you will  be instructed to add one of the files on  
this  disk onto the dGraph programs you sell. That's it. So  sim-
ple.  So I have your word Mr. Troubleaux?  Honor among men."

Pierre's mind was racing.  Put a file onto a program?  What  does  
that  do?  What's on it?  Does it help dGraph?  No that can't  be 
it.   What  is it?  Why so secret.  What's with  the  honor  bit?  
From  the  Chairman of OSO, not a technician?  One  floppy  disk?  
Pierre smelled a fox in the chicken coup.

"Mr.  Homosoto, sir.  I mean no disrespect.  But, I  hardly  know 
what  to  think.  I don't even know what this disk is.   You  are 
asking  me to promise something I don't understand.  What  if   I 
don't  agree.   At least until I know what I'm doing? I  need  to 
know  what's going on here." he said holding the disk  up  promi-

"I prefer to think, Mr. Troubleaux of what occurs as long as  you 
do  agree to maintain the honor between us.  It is so  much  more 
pleasant."    Homosoto  edged towards the doors  of  Troubleaux's 
office as he spoke. 

"When  you  agree to act honorably, perform for  me  this  small, 
insignificant favor, Mr. Troubleaux, you will get to keep the $20 
Million you make this Friday and you will be permitted to contin-
ue living. Good Afternoon."  Homosoto closed the door behind him. 

* * * * * 

Alexander  Spiradon  was pleased. His students were  doing  well.   
The other students from the New York computer school had  already 
checked  in;  they didn't have as far to travel  as  Sir  George. 
Everything was in place, not quite a year to the day since he and 
Taki  Homosoto had set their plans in action. Alex hadn't  spoken 
to Homosoto in a couple of months.  It was now time to report  to 
Homosoto  in  Tokyo.  It was 17 hours earlier  there  -  Homosoto 
would probably be at his desk. The modem dialed a local Brookline 
number.   The phone in Brookline subsequently dialed a number  in 
Dallas, Texas, which dialed another phone in Tacoma,  Washington.  
The  Tacoma  phone had the luxury of  dialing  the  international 
number for Homosoto's private computer.

Call forwarding services offered the ultimate in protection.  Any 
telephone tracing would take weeks, requiring the cooperation  of 
courts  from  every state where a forwarded  phone  was  located.  
Then,  the  State Department would have to coordinate   with  the 
Japanese  Embassy.  An almost impossible task, if anyone had  the 
resources.  It took about 45 seconds for the call to be  complet-


Alex  entered  his password, GESUNDHEIT and his  forced  response 
from his own PRG card.  His computer terminal paused.  If he  was 
on satellite to Japan, or to Dallas or anywhere else, his  signal 
could travel a hundred thousand miles or more each time he sent a 
character from his keyboard. 


Alex Spiradon chose 43.  Each communication he had with  Homosoto 
was also protected with full encryption.  If someone was able  to 
isolate  their conversations, all they would get would  be  sheer 
garbage,  a  screen  full of unintelligible  symbols  and  random 
characters. By choosing 43, Alex told his computer and Homosoto's 
computer  to use Crypt Key 43, one of over 100 secret  keys  that 
both computers held in their memory.  This cryptographic  scheme, 
using the U.S.'s Data Encryption Standard, DES, and ANSI standard 
X9.17  was the same one that the Treasury Department and  Federal 
Reserve  used to protect the transmission of over $1 trillion  of 
funds transfers daily.  


That was the signal for Alex to send the first words to Homosoto.

Good Morning, Homosoto-San.


Yes. All is in place.


Of course.  The last of the Operators are in place.  We call  him 
Sir  George.  That makes 8 altogether. San Francisco,  (SF),  New 
York, (NY), Los Angeles, (LA), Boston, (BM), Atlanta, (AG) Chica-
go, (CI), Washington, (DC) and Dallas, (DT).  


They are aware of the penalty.  If not, we have others that  will 
replace them. Besides, you are rewarding them most handsomely for 
their efforts.  

The Mail Men are waiting as well. Four of them in NY, DC, LA  and 


They  will  deliver  our messages in writing to  those  who  need 
additional proof of our sincerity.  They know nothing other  than 
they get paid, very well, to make sure that the addressees are in 
receipt of their packages.  


Yes.   Elimination  is a strong motivation.  Besides,  they  know 


That can only help.  They do not know where the money comes from.  
Most  need the money more than their lives.  My contacts make  my 
choices ideal.  Death is . . .so permanent.


Most  of the time, yes.  There are always exceptions, and we  are 
prepared for that, too.


Thank you.  The Ground Hogs, the first are in place.


Over  50 so far.  I will keep recruiting. We have 11 in the  long 
distance phone companies and at AT&T, 3 at IBM, 14 in  government 
positions, 12 in major banks, a couple of insurance companies,  3 
Hospitals  are  compromised . . .and a list of others.   We  will 
keep the channels full, I promise.


They  will  gain access to the information we need, and  when  we 
call,  they  will perform.  I will add more as  we  proceed.   It 
amazes me, these Americans.  Anything for a buck.


I  will not.  That is my promise.  When will the  information  be 


Ground  Hogs receive 2 paychecks. They understand  their  obliga-
tions.   We pay 10 times their salary for their allegiance.   The 
Operators and Mail Men will start soon. 


Americans  pay homage to the almighty dollar, and  nothing  else.  
They will be loyal.


Completely.  I am responsible for my people.


Yes.   That is my responsibility, to insure the security  of  our 
task.  No one must know.  I know my job.




                         Chapter 5

     Monday, September 14
     New York City

Doug!  Doug!"  Scott hollered across the city room.  As  in  most 
newspaper  offices,  the constant scurry of people  bumping  into 
each other while reading and walking gave the impression of  more 
activity than there really was.  Desks were not in any particular 
pattern, but it wasn't totally chaotic either.  Every desk had at 
least one computer on it.  Some two  or three.  Scott pushed back 
into  place  those that he dislodged while running  to  McGuire's 

Doug  McGuire noticed the early  hour, 8:39 A.M. on the one  wall 
clock  that gave Daylight Savings Time for the East  Coast.   The 
other dozen or so clocks spanned the time zones of the globe.  It 
wasn't like Scott to be his energetic youthful self before noon.

"Doug, I need you." Scott shouted from 3 desks away. "It'll  just 
take a minute."  

Scott nearly dragged the balding, overweight, sometimes harsh  60 
year old Doug McGuire across the newsroom.  They abruptly  halted 
in front of Scott's desk.  Boxes full of files everywhere; on the 
floor,  piled 3 or 4 high, on his desk. "Will you look  at  this.  
Just  look at this!" He stuck a single sheet of paper  too  close 
into Doug's face.  Doug pushed it away  to read it out loud.

McGuire read from the page. "A Message from a Fan.  Thanks." Doug 
looked perplexed.  He motioned at the paper hurricane on  Scott's 
desk. "So, what is this mess?  Where did it come from?"

Scott  spoke  excitedly. "I got another delivery, about  an  hour 
ago.   I  think  it's from the same guy  who  sent  the  McMillan 
stuff."  He perused the boxes.

"Why do you say that?" Doug asked curiously.

"Because  of what's in here.  I haven't been able to  go  through 
much of it, obviously, but I scanned through a few of the  boxes.  
There's dirt on almost every company in the Fortune 1000.  Copies 
of  memoranda, false figures, confidential  position  statements, 
the  truth  behind  a  lot of PR scandals, it  goes  on  and  on.  
There's  even a copy of some of the shredded Ollie North  papers.  
Or so they say they are.  Who knows.  But, God!  There are  notes 
about  behind the scene plays on mergers, who's screwing  who  to 
get  deals done . . .it's all here.  A hundred years  of  stories 
right here . . .".

"Let's see what we've got here."  Doug was immediately hooked  by 
the  treasure  trove of potential in from of  them  coupled  with 
Scott's enthusiasm.  The best stories come from the least  likely 
places.   No reporter ever forgets the 3rd rate burglary  at  the 
Watergate that brought down a President.

By  late afternoon, Scott and several of the paper's  researchers 
had  set  up a preliminary filing system.  They  categorized  the 
hundred of files and documents and computer printouts by company, 
alphabetically.  The contents were amazing.  Over 150 of the  top 
American corporations were represented directly, and thousands of 
other by reference.  In every case, there was a revelation of one 
or  more particularly embarrassing or illegal  activities.   Some 
were documented accounts and histories of past events and  others 
that  were in progress. Many of the papers were  prognostications 
of future events of questionable ethics or legality.  It reminded 
Scott of Jeanne Dixon style predictions. 

From  Wall  Street's ivory tower deals where payoffs  are  called 
consulting fees, and in banking circles where delaying  transfers 
of  funds can yield millions of dollars in interest  daily,  from 
industrial  secrets  stolen  or purchased from such  and  such  a 
source, the laundry list was long.  Plans to effect such a  busi-
ness plan and how to disguise its true purposes from the ITC  and 
SEC.   Internal, very upper level policies which never reach  the 
company's  Employee Handbook; policies of  discrimination,  atti-
tude,  and protective corporate culture which not  only transcend 
the  law but in many cases, morality.  The false books, the  jim-
mied numbers . . .they were in the boxes too, but that was almost 
accepted  accounting practice as long as you didn't  get  caught.  
But  the depth of some of the figures was amazing.  Like how  one 
computer  company brought in Toshiba parts and sold them  to  the 
government despite the ban on Toshiba components because of their 
sale of precision lathes to the Soviets.

"Jesus,"  said Scott after a lengthy silence of  intent  reading. 
"This  nails everyone, even the Government."

There  were well documented dossiers on how the EPA  made  unique 
exclusions hundred of times over based upon the financial  lobby-
ing  clout  of the particular offender.  Or how  certain  elected 
officials in Washington had pocketed funds from their PAC  monies 
or  how defense contractors were advised in advance of  the  con-
tents of an upcoming billion dollar RFP. 

The  cartons of files were absolute political dynamite.  And,  if 
released, could have massive repercussions in the world financial 

There  was  a fundamental problem, though.  Scott  Mason  was  in 
possession of unsupported, but not unreasonable accusations, they 
were certainly believable.  All he really had was leads, a  thou-
sand leads in ten thousand different directions, with no apparent 
coherency or theme, received from an anonymous and dubious donor.  
And there was no way of immediately gauging the veracity of their 
contents.  He clearly remembered what is was like to be lawyered.  
That held no appeal at the moment. 

The  next  obvious question was, who would have  the  ability  to 
gather  this amount of information, most of which  was  obviously 
meant to be kept very, very private.  Papers meant not for anyone 
but only for a select group of insiders.  

Lastly,  and just as important to the reporter; why?  What  would 
someone  gain  from  telling all the nasty goings  on  inside  of 
Corporate  America.   There have been so many  stories  over  the 
years  about this company or that screwing over the  little  guy.  
How the IRS and the government operated substantially outside  of 
legal  channels.  The kinds of things that the Secretary  of  the 
Treasury  would prefer were kept under wraps.  Sometimes  stories 
of this type made the news, maybe a trial or two, but not exactly 
noteworthy in the big picture.  White collar crime wasn't as good 
as the Simpsons or Roseanne, so it went largely  ignored.

Scott Mason needed to figure out what to do with his powder  keg.  
So,  as any good investigative reporter would do, he  decided  to 
pick  a few key pieces and see if the old axiom was true.   Where 
there's smoke, there's fire.

* * * * * 

Fire.  That's exactly what Franklin Dobbs didn't want that Monday 
morning.   He  and 50 other Corporate CEO's  across  the  country 
received  their  own unsolicited packages by courier.   Each  CEO 
received  a  dossier on his own company. A very  private  dossier 
containing  information that technically didn't, or wasn't  offi-
cially supposed to exist.  Each one read their personalized  file 
cover to cover in absolute privacy.  And shock set in.

Only  a few of the CEO's in the New York area had ever  heard  of 
Scott  Mason  before, and little did they know that  he  had  the 
complete collection of dossiers in his possession at the New York 
City  Times.  Regardless, boardrooms shook to  their  very  core.  
Wall  Street trading was untypically low for a Monday, less  than 
50,000,000  shares.  But CNN and other financial   observers  at-
tributed the anomaly to random factors unconnected to the  secret 
panic that was spreading through Corporate America.

By  6 P.M., CEO's and key aides from 7 major  corporations  head-
quartered  in the metropolitan New York area had agreed to  meet. 
Throughout  the  day,  CEO's routinely talk  to  other  corporate 
leaders  as  friends, acquaintances, for brain  picking  and  G2, 
market  probing  in the course of business.  Today,  though,  the 
scurry of inter-Ivory-Tower calls was beyond routine.  

Through  a  complicated ritual dance  of  non-committal  consent, 
questions  never asked and answers never given, with a good  dose 
of  Zieglerisms, a few  of the CEO's communicated  to each  other 
during the day that they were not happy with the morning mail.  A  
few agreed to talk together.  Unofficially of course, just for  a 
couple  of  drinks with friends, and there's  nothing  wrong,  we 
admit nothing, of course not. 

These  are  the rules strictly obeyed for  a  non-encounter  that 
isn't  happening.   So they didn't meet in a very  private  room, 
upstairs  at the Executive Club, where sensitive  meetings  often 
never  took  place.  One's presence in that room is  as  good  as 
being on in a black hole. You just weren't there, no matter what.  

The  room that wasn't there was heavily furnished and dark.   The 
mustiness  lent to the feeling of intrigue and incredulity the  7 
CEO's felt. Massive brown leather couches and matching  oversized 
chairs  surrounded by stout mahogany tables were dimly lit by the 
assortment of low wattage lamp fixtures.  There was a huge  round 
dining  table  large  enough for all of  Camelot,  surrounded  by 
mammoth  chairs  in  a large ante-room.    The  brocade  curtains 
covered  long  windows that stretched from the  floor  to  ornate 
corner moldings of the 16 foot ceilings.

One tired old black waiter with short cropped white hair appeared 
and  disappeared skillfully and invisibly.  He was so  accustomed 
to working with such distinguished gentlemen, and knew how impor-
tant  their conversations were, that he took great pride  in  re-
filling  a drink without being noticed. With his little game,  he 
made sure that drinks for everyone were always full.  They  spoke 
openly around Lambert.  Lambert had worked the room since he  was 
16 during World War II and he saw no reason to trade occupations; 
he  was  treated decently, and he doubled as a  bookie  for  some 
members which added to his income.  There was mutual trust.

"I don't know about you gentlemen," said Porter Henry, the  ener-
getic  and feisty leader of Morse Technologies,  defense  subcon-
tractor.  "I personally call this blackmail."  A few nods.

"I'm  not about to admit to anything, but have you  been  threat-
ened?" demanded Ogden Roberts, Chairman of National First  Inter-

"No,  I don't believe any of us have, in so many words.  And  no, 
none  of  us have done anything wrong.  We are merely  trying  to 
keep  sensitive corporate strategies private. That's all. But,  I 
do  take  the position that we are being  intimidated.   I  think 
Porter's right. This is tantamount to blackmail. Or the precursor 
at a minimum."

They discussed, in the most circumlocutous manner, possibilities.  
The why, how, and who's.  Who would know so much, about so  many, 
supposedly sacrosanct secrets.  Therefore there must have been  a 
lot  of  whos,  mustn't there?  They figured about  50  of  their 
kindred CEO's had received similar packages, so that meant a  lot 
of whos were behind the current crisis in privacy.  Or maybe just 
one big who.  OK, that's narrowed down real far; either a lot  of 
whos, one big who, or somewhere in between.

Why?   They  all  agreed that demands would be  coming,  so  they 
looked  for synergy between their firms, any sort of  connections 
that spanned at first the seven of those present, to predict what 
kinds  of  demands.  But it is difficult to  find  hard  business 
connections  between  an  insurance company, a  bank,  2  defense 
contractors, a conglomerate of every drug store product known  to 
man and a fast food company.  The thread wasn't there.

How?   That was the hardest.  They certainly hadn't come up  with 
any  answers on the other two questions, so this was  asking  the 
impossible.  CEO's are notorious for not knowing how their compa-
nies  work  on  a day to day basis. Thus, after 4  or  5  drinks, 
spurious and arcane ideas were seriously considered.  UFO's  were 
responsible,  I once saw one . . .my secretary,  I  never  really 
trusted   her   at   all    .  .   .the   Feds!   Must   be   the 
IRS  .  .  .(my/his/your)  competitor  is  doing  it  to  all  of 
us . . .the Moonies, maybe the Moonies . . .

"Why don't we just go to the Feds?" asked Franklin Dobbs who  did 
not participate in the conjecturing stream of consciousness  free 
for all.  Silence cut through the room instantly.  Lambert looked 
up from his corner to make  sure they were all still alive.  

"I'm  serious.  The FBI is perfect.  We all  operate  interstate, 
and internationally.  Would you prefer the NYPD?"  he said  dero-
gatorally waiting any voices of dissent. 

"C'mon  Frank.  What are we going to tell them?"   Ogden  Roberts 
the banker asked belligerently.  The liquor was having an effect.  
"Certainly  not the truth . . ." he cut himself short,  realizing 
that  he  came dangerously close to  admitting  some  indefinable 
wrong  he  had  committed.  "You know what I  mean,"  he  quickly 

"We  don't go into all of the detail. An abbreviated form of  the 
truth,   all  true, but maybe not everything.  I am sure  we  all 
agree  that  we  want to keep this, ah, situation,  as  quiet  as 
possible."  Rapid assent came from all around.

"All we need to say is that we have been contacted,  in a threat-
ening  manner.  That no demands have been made  yet, but  we  are 
willing  to cooperate with the authorities.  That would give   us 
all a little time, to re-organize our priorities, if you see what 
I mean?"  Dobbs added. The seven CEO's were thoughtful. 

"Now  this  doesn't  mean that we all have  to  agree  on  this,"  
Franklin  Dobbs said.  "But as for me, I have gone over this,  in 
limited  detail,  with  my attorney, and he agrees with it  on  a 
strategic level.  If someone's after you,  and you can't see 'em, 
get  the  guys with the White Hats on your side.   Then  do  some 
housekeeping.  I am going to the FBI.  Anybody care to join me?"

It was going to be a lonesome trip. 

* * * * *

     September, 4 Years Ago
     Tokyo, Japan. 

OSO Industries maintained its world headquarters in the OSO World 
Bank Building which towered 71 stories over downtown Tokyo.  From 
the executive offices on the 66th floor, on a clear day, the view 
reached  as far as the Pacific. It was from these  lofty  reaches 
that Taki Homosoto commanded his $30 Billion empire which  spread 
across 5 continents, 112 countries, and employed almost a quarter 
million people.

OSO  Industries had diversified since it humble beginnings  as  a 
used tire junkstore.  

The Korean conflict had been a windfall.   Taki Homosoto  started 
a  tire  retreading business in 1946, during  the  occupation  of 
Japan.  The Americans were so smart, he thought.  Bring over  all 
of  your men, tanks, jeeps and doctors not telling us  the  truth 
about radiation, and you forget spare tires.  Good move, Yankee. 

Taki  gouged the Military on pricing so badly, and the  Americans 
didn't  seem  care, that the Pentagon didn't  think  twice  about  
paying  $700 for toilet seats decades later. Taki did give  great 
service  -  after all his profits were so  staggeringly  high  he 
could afford it.  Keep the American's happy, feed their ego,  and 
they'll come back for more. No sense of pride.  Suckers.

When  the Americans moved in for Korea, Tokyo was both a  command 
post  for the war effort and the first choice of R&R by  service-
men.  OSO Industries was in a perfect position to take  advantage 
of  the US Government's tire needs throughout the conflict.   OSO 
was  already  in place, doing a good job; Taki  had  bought  some 
friends  in the US military, and a few arrangements were made  to 
keep business coming his way.  

Taki accumulated millions quickly.  Now he needed to diversify.

Realizing  that the war would come to an end some  day,  Homosoto 
begin making plans. OSO Radio sets appeared on the market  before 
the end of the Korean Police Action.  Then, with the  application 
of  the  transistor,  the portable radio  market  exploded.   OSO 
Industries  made more transistor radios than all  other  Japanese 
electronics  firms combined.  Then came black and  white  televi-
sions.  The  invention  of the single beam color  TV  tube  again 
brought OSO billions in revenues every year.

Now,  OSO was the model of a true global corporation.  OSO  owned 
banks and investment companies. Their semiconductor and electron-
ics products were household words. They controlled a vast network 
of companies; electronic game manufacturers, microwave and appli-
ance  manufacturers,  and notably, acres and acres  of  Manhattan 
Island, California and Hawaii.  They owned and operated  communi-
cations companies, including their own geosynchronous  satellite. 
OSO  positioned  itself  as a holding company  with  hundreds  of 
subsidiaries,  each  with their own  specialty,  operating  under 
thousands of names.  Taki Homosoto wove an incredibly complex web 
of corporate influence and intrigue. 

OSO was one of the 10 largest corporations in the world.   Reaga-
nomics  had already assisted in making OSO and  Homosoto  himself 
politically  important  to both Japan and the  US.   Exactly  how 
Homosoto  wanted  it.  American leaders,  Senators,  Congressmen, 
appointees,  lobbyists, in fact much of Washington coddled up  to 
Homosoto.   His empire planned years in advance.  The US  Govern-
ment,  unofficially  craved his insights, and  in  characteristic 
Washington style, wanted to be near someone important.   Homosoto 
relished  it.   Ate  it up.  He was a  most  cordial,  unassuming 
humble guest.  He played the game magnificently. 

Almost  the entire 66th floor of the OSO Bank Building was  dedi-
cated to Homosoto and his immediate staff.  Only a handful of the 
more then 200,000 people that OSO Industries employed had  access 
to the pinnacle of the OSO tower which graced the Tokyo skyline.

The building was designed by Pei, and received international  ac-
claim  as  an architectural statement. The atrium  in  the  lobby 
vaulted  almost  700  feet skyward  precursoring  American  hotel 
design in the next decade.  Plants, trees over 100 feet tall  and 
waterfalls graced the atria and the overhanging skylobbies.   The 
first floor lobby was designed around a miniature replica of  the 
Ging  Sha forest, fashioned with thousands of Bonzai trees.   The 
mini  forest was built to be viewed from various  heights  within 
the atrium to simulate a flight above the earth at distances from 
2 to 150 miles.

The lobby of OSO Industries was a veritable museum.  The Van Gogh 
collection was not only the largest private or public  assemblage 
in  the  world, but also represented over $100 Million  spent  in 
Sothby and Christies auctions worldwide since 1975.

To  get to the elevator to the 66th floor, a security  check  was 
performed,  including a complete but unobtrusive electronic  scan 
of the entire person and his belongings.  To all appearances, the 
procedure  was  no  more than airport security.  However  to  the 
initiate  or the suspect, it was evident from the  accuracy  with 
which  the guards targeted specific contraband on a person or  in 
his  belongings that they knew more than they were telling.   The 
OSO guards had the girth of Sumo wrestlers, and considering their 
sheer  mass,  they received little hassle.  Very  few  deemed  it 
prudent to cross them.

The lobby for all of its grandeur, ceilings of nearly 700   feet, 
was  a fairly austere experience.  But, the elevator to the  66th 
floor  altered  that  image at once.  It was  this  glass  walled 
elevator, the size of a small office, with appropriately comfort-
able  furnishings, that Miles Foster rode.  From the  comfort  of 
the living room setting in the elevator, he enjoyed a panorama of 
the  atrium  as  it disappeared beneath him.  He  looked  at  the 
forest and imagined what astronauts saw when they catapulted into 
orbit.   The executive elevator was much slower than the  others.  
Either  the residents in the penthouse relished the solitude  and 
view  or  they  had motion sickness.  Nonetheless,  it  was  most 

"Ah,  Mister Foster! Welcome to OSO.  Please to step  this  way." 
Miles  Foster  was  expected at the terminus of  the  lift  which 
opened  into  an obscenely large waiting room  that  contained  a 
variety  of  severe and obviously uncomfortable  furniture.  Aha! 
Miles,  thought.  That's exactly what this is.  Another art  gal-
lery,  albeit a private one for the eyes of his host and  no  one 
else. White walls, white ceilings, polished parquet floors, track 
lighting,  recessed lights, indirect lights.  Miles noticed  that 
the room as pure as the driven snow didn't have any windows.   He 
didn't  recognize  much of the art, but given his host,  it  must 
have represented a sizable investment.

Miles  was ushered across the vast floor to  a set of  handsomely 
carved,  too tall wooden doors with almost garish gold  hardware.  
His slight Japanese host barely tapped on the door, almost  inau-
dibly. He paused and stood at attention as he blurted an obedient 

The  aide opened both doors from the middle, and in deference  to 
Mr.  Foster,  moved to one side to let the  visitor  be  suitably 
impressed.    Homosoto's office was a total contrast to his  gal-
lery.   Miles first reaction was astonishment.  It  was  slightly 
dizzying.  The ceiling slanted to a height of over 25 feet at the 
outer walls, which were floor to ceiling glass. The immense  room 
provided  not only a spectacular view of Tokyo and 50  miles  be-
yond, but lent one the feeling of being outside.  

Coming  from the U.S. Government, such private opulence  was  not 
common. It was to be expected in his family's places of business, 
the  gaming parlors of Las Vegas, but not in normal commerce.  He 
had been to Trump Tower in New York, but that was a public build-
ing, a place for tourists.  This office, he used the word  liber-
ally, was palatial.

It  was  decorated  in spartan fashion with  cherry  wood  walls. 
Artwork, statues, figurines, all Japanese in style, sat  wherever 
there was an open surface.  A few gilt shelves and marble display 
tables  were randomly scattered around the room.  Not  chaoticly; 
just  the  opposite.   The scattering  was  exquisitely  planned.  
There was a dining alcove, privatized by lavish rice paper panels 
for  eating  in  suhutahksi. Eating on the  floor  was  an 
honored ritual.  There was a small pit under the table for  curl-
ing one's legs on the floor. 

A   conference  table with 12 elegant wooden chairs  sat  at  the 
opposite end of the cavernous office. In the center of the  room, 
at  the  corner  of the building, was Homosoto's  desk,  or  work 
surface if you prefer.  It was large enough for four, yet Homoso-
to,  as he stood to greet Foster, appeared to dwarf his  environ-
ment  and desk.  Not in size, but in confidence.   His  personage 
was in total command. The desk and its equipment were on a  plat-
form some 6" above the rest of the room. The intended effect  was 
not lost on Foster.

The sides of the glossy cherrywood desk were slightly elevated to 
make  room for a range of video monitors, communications  facili-
ties,  and  computers which accessed Homosoto's empire.   A  vast 
telephone  console  provided  tele-conferencing  to  OSO  offices 
worldwide.  Dow Jones, CNN, Nippon TV were constantly  displayed, 
visible only to Homosoto.  This was Homosoto's Command Central as 
he liked to call it.

Foster  gawked  at the magnificent surroundings as  he  stood  in 
front  of his assigned seat. A comfortable, plush, black  leather 
chair.  It was one of several arranged in a  sunken  conversation 

Homosoto acknowledged Foster's presence with the briefest of nods 
as  he  stepped down off of his aerie.  Homosoto  wore  expensive 
clothes.  A dark brown suit, matching solid tie and the omnipres-
ent  solid white starched shirt.  It didn't fit, like most  Japa-
nese business uniforms.

He  was short, no more than five foot six, Miles  noticed,  after 
Homosoto got down to the same level as the rest of the room.   On 
the heavy side, he walked slowly and deliberately.  Eyes  forward 
after  the  obligatory nod. His large head was  sparsely  covered 
with  little wisps of hair in nature's futile attempt  to  clothe 
the  top of his freckled skull.  Even at 59 Homosoto's  hair  was 
still  pitch  black.  Miles wasn't sure if  Grecian  Formula  was 
available  in Japan.  The short crop accentuated  the  pronounced 

A rounded face was peppered with spots, dark freckles perhaps, or 
maybe  carcinoma.   His deep set black eyes  stared  through  the 
object  of  his attention.  Homosoto was not the  friendly  type, 
thought Miles. 

Homosoto stood in front of Miles, extended his hand and bowed the 
most  perfunctory  of  bows.  Miles took his  hand,  expecting  a 
strong  grip.  Instead he was greeted with a wet  fish  handshake 
which wriggled quickly from his grasp.  Homosoto didn't give  the 
slightest indication of a smile.  The crow's feet around his eyes 
were  caused  by pudginess, not happiness. When he  sat  opposite 
Foster in a matching chair, he began without any pleasantries. 

"I hear you are the best."  Homosoto stared at Foster.  It was  a 
statement that required a response. 

Foster  shifted his weight a little in the chair.  What a way  to 
start.   This guy must think he's hot shit.  Well, maybe  he  is.  
First  class, all expense paid trip to Tokyo,  plus  consultation 
fees.  In  advance.  Just for one conversation, he was  told,  we 
just  want some advice.  Then, last night, and the night  before, 
he  was honored with sampling the finest Oriental women. His  hot 
button.   All expenses paid, of course.  Miles knew he was  being 
buttered up, for what he didn't know, but he took advantage of it 

"That's what's your people tell you."  

Foster took the challenge and glared, albeit with a smirk dimpled 
smile, politely, right back at Homosoto.  Homosoto continued  his 
stare.  He didn't relax his intensity.  

"Mr.  Foster,"  Homosoto continued, his face  still  emotionless.  
"Are you as good as they say?"  he demanded.

Miles Foster defiantly spat out the one word response. "Better."  

Homosoto's  eyes squinted.  "Mr. Foster, if that is true, we  can 
do  business.  But first, I must be convinced.  I can assure  you 
we know quite a bit about you already, otherwise you wouldn't  be 
here."   Miles  noticed that Homosoto  spoke  excellent  English, 
clipped  in style, but Americanized.  He  occasionally  stretched 
his vowels, to the brink of a drawl.

"Yeah,  so  what do you know.  Pulled up a few  data  bases?  Big 
Deal." Miles cocked his head at Homosoto's desk.  "I would assume 
that  with  that  equipment, you can probably  get  whatever  you 

Homosoto let a shimmer of a smile appear at the corners  off  his 
mouth.   "You are most perceptive, Mr. Foster."  Homosoto  paused  
and leaned back in the well stuffed chair.  "Mr. Foster, tell  me 
about your family."

Miles  neck reddened. "Listen! You called me, I didn't call  you.  
All I ever knew about OSO was that you made ghetto blasters, TV's 
and  vibrators.  So therefore, you wanted me, not my family.   If 
you  had  wanted  them you would have called  them."  Miles  said 
loudly.  "So, keep my family the fuck out of it."

"I do not mean to offend," Homosoto said offensively. "I just  am 
most  curious  why you didn't go to work for your  family.   They 
have money, power.  You would have been a very important man, and 
a  very  rich  one." Homosoto said matter of  factly.   "So,  the 
prudent man must wonder why you went to work for your Government?  
Aren't  your  family  and your government, how shall  I  say,  on 
opposite sides?"

"My  family's got nothing to do with this or you. Clear?"   Miles 
was  adamant.  "But,  out of courtesy for getting  me  laid  last 
night,  I might as well tell you.  I went to the feds cause  they 
have  the  best  computers, the biggest equipment  and  the  most 
interesting  work.   Not much money, but I have a backup  when  I 
need it.  If I went to work for my family, as you put it, I would 
have been a glorified beancounter. And that's not what I do.   It 
would  have  been no challenge. Boring, boring,  boring!"   Miles 
smiled sarcastically at Homosoto. "Happy now?"

Homosoto didn't flinch. "Does that mean you do not disapprove  of 
your family's activities?  How they make money?"

"I don't give a fuck!" Miles yelled.  "How does that grab you?  I 
don't give a flying fuck.  They were real good to me, paid a  lot 
of  my way.  I love my mother and she's not a hit man.  My  uncle 
does I don't know what or care.  They're family, that's it.   How 
much clearer do you want it?" Miles continued shouting.

Homosoto grinned and held up his hands. "My apologies Mr. Foster.  
I mean no disrespect.  I just like to know who works for me."

"Hey, I don't work for you yet."

"Of course, a simple slip of the tongue."

"Right."  Miles snapped sarcastically.

Homosoto ignored this last comment.  The insincere smile left his 
face,  replaced  with a more serious countenance.  "Why  did  you 
leave your post with the National Security Agency, Mr. Foster?"

Another inquisition, thought Miles.  What a crock.  Make it  good 
for the gook.

"'Cause I was working for a bunch of bungling idiots who  insured 
their  longevity  by creating an invincible  bureaucracy."  Miles 
decided  that a calm beginning might be more appropriate.   "They 
had  no real idea of what was going on.  Their heads were so  far 
up  their ass they had a tan line across their chests.   Whenever 
we  had  a good idea, it was either too novel, too  expensive  or 
needed additional study. Or, it was relegated to a committee that 
might  react  in 2 years.  What a pile of bullshit,  a  waste  of 
time.   We could have achieved a lot more without all the  inter-

"Mr.  Foster, you say, 'we'.  Who is 'we'?"   Homosoto  pointedly 
asked Miles.

"The  analysts,  the people who did the real  work.   There  were 
hundreds of us on the front lines. The guys who sweated  weekends 
and  nights  to make our country safe from  the  Communists.  The 
managers just never got with the program."

"Mr. Foster, how many of the other analysts, in your opinion, are 

Miles stepped back in his mind to think about this.  "Oh, I guess 
I  knew  a half dozen guys, and one girl, who were  pretty  good.  
She  was  probably the best, other than me,"  he  bragged.  "Some 

"Excuse me? Chicken?"

"Oh, sorry." Miles looked up in thought. "Ah, chicks, fox,  look-
er, sweet meat, gash, you know?"

"Do you mean she's very pretty?"

Miles  suppressed an audible chuckle. "Yeah, that's  right.  Real 
pretty,  but  real smart, too.  Odd combination,  isn't  it?"  he 
smiled a wicked smile. 

Homosoto  ignored  the crudeness.  "What are your  politics,  Mr. 

"Huh?   My politics?  What the hell has that got to do with  any-
thing?"  Miles demanded.

"Just answer the question, please, Mr. Foster?"  Homosoto quietly 

Miles was getting incensed.  "Republican, Democrat?  What do  you 
mean?  I vote who the fuck I want to vote for.  Other than  that, 
I don't play."

"Don't  play?"   Homosoto briefly pondered the  idiom.  "Ah,  so. 
Don't play.  Don't get involved.  Is that so?"

"Right.   They're all fucked.  I vote for the stupidest  assholes 
running  for  office.  Any office.  With any luck he'll  win  and 
really screw things up."  Homosoto hit one of Miles hot  buttons.  
Politics.  He listened attentively to Miles as he carried on. 

"That's  about  the only way to fix anything. First fuck  it  up.  
Real bad.  Create a crisis.  Since the Government ignores whoever 
or whatever isn't squeaking that's the only way to get any atten-
tion.  Make noise.  Once you create a crisis, Jeez, just look  at 
Granada  and Panama and Iraq to justify Star Wars, you get a  lot 
of  people  on  for the ride. Just look at  the  national  energy 
debate.  Great  idea,  30  years and  $5  trillion  late.   Then, 
'ooooh!',  they say.  'We got a big problem.  We better fix  it.' 
Then they all want to be heroes and every podunk politico  shoots 
off his mouth about the latest threat to humanity. "

"That's your politics?"

"Sure.   If you want to get something fixed, first fuck it up  so 
bad  that everyone notices and then they'll be crawling  up  your 
ass trying to help you fix it."

"Very novel, Mr. Foster.  Very novel and very cynical."  Homosoto 
looked mildly amused.

"Not meant to be.  Just true."

"It  seems  to me that you hold no particular  allegiance.  Would 
that  be a fair observation?"  Homosoto pressed the same line  of 

"To  me.  That's my allegiance.  And not much of anything  else."  
Miles sounded defensive. 

"Then,  Mr. Foster, what does it take to make you a job offer.  I 
am  sure  money  isn't everything to a man  like  you."  Homosoto 
leaned  back. All 10 of his fingers met in mirror  image  fashion 
and performed push ups on each other.

Foster  returned  Homosoto's dare with a  devastating  stare-down 
that  looked  beyond  Homosoto's face. It looked right  into  his 
mind.   Foster used the knuckles from both hands for supports  as 
he leaned on the table between them.  He began speaking  deliber-
ately and coherently.

"My greatest pleasure?  A challenge. A great challenge. Yes,  the 
money  is nice, don't get me wrong,  but the thrill is the  chal-
lenge.  I spent years with people ignoring my advice, refusing to 
listen  to  me.   And I was right so many times  when  they  were 
wrong.   Then they would start blaming everyone else and  another 
committee  is set up to find out what went wrong. Ecch!  I  would 
love to teach them a lesson." 

"How  unfortunate  for them that they failed  to  recognize  your 
abilities  and  let  your skills serve them.   Yes,  indeed,  how 
unfortunate."  Homosoto said somberly.

"So,"  Miles  said arrogantly as he retreated back to  his  seat, 
"you  seem to be asking a lot of questions, and getting a lot  of 
answers.   It  is your dime, so I owe you  something.   But,  Mr. 
Homosoto, I would like to know what you're looking for."

Homosoto  stood up erect. "You, Mr. Foster. You. You are  what  I 
have  been  looking  for.  And, if you do your job  right,  I  am 
making the assumption you will accept, you will become  wealthier 
than you ever hoped.  Ever dreamed.  Mr. Foster, your  reputation 
precedes  you." He sincerely extended his hand to Foster.  "I  do 
believe  we can do business." Homosoto was beaming at Miles  Fos-

"OK,  ok, so if I accept, what do I do?" said Miles as  he  again 
shook Homosoto's weak hand.

"You,  Mr.  Foster, are going to lead an invasion of  the  United 
States of America."


                    Chapter 6

     3 Years Ago
     Sunnyvale, California.

Pierre Troubleaux was staggered beyond reason.  His life was just 
threatened and he didn't know what to do about it.  What the hell 
was  this disk anyway?  Military secrets?  Industrial  espionage?  
Then  why  put it on the dGraph disks and programs?  Did  I  just 
agree?   What did I say?  I don't remember what I said.  Maybe  I 
said maybe.

Panic  yielded  to confusion.  What is so wrong?  This  was  just 
some old Japanese guy who was making some veiled Oriental threat.  
No,  it  was  another one of those  cultural  differences.   Like 
calisthenics  before work at those Japanese companies that  satu-
rate the West Coast.  Sure it sounded like a threat, but this  is 
OSO Industries we are talking about.  That would be like the head 
of  Sony using extortion to sell Walkmen.  Impossible.   All  the 
same,  it was scary and he had no idea what was on the disk.   He 
called Max.

"Max!   What are you doing?"  What he meant, and Max  understood, 
was 'I need you.  Get your ass up here now.'

"On my way Amigo."

The  next few minutes waiting for Max proved to be  mentally  ex-
hausting.  He thought of hundreds of balancing arguments for both 
sides of the coin.  Be concerned, this guy is nuts and meant  it, 
or I misunderstood something, or it got lost in the  translation.  
He prayed for the latter.

"Yo, what gives?"  Max walked into Pierre's office without knock-

"Tell  me  what's on this!" Pierre thrust  the disk up  at  Max's 
large physique.

Max  held  the disk to his forehead and gazed skyward.   "A  good 
start.  Yes, a good start." Max grinned.

Pierre  groaned, knowing full well  that the Kreskin routine  had 
to  be  completed  before anything serious  was  discussed.   Max 
brought  the disk to his mouth and blew on it so the disk  holder 
bulged  in the middle.  Max pulled out the disk and pretended  to 
read  it.  "What do you call 1000 lawyers at the  bottom  of  the 
ocean."  Pierre chuckled a half a chuck.  He wasn't in the  mood, 
but then he had no love for lawyers.

"Max!  Please."

"Hey, just trying new material...."

" . . .that's 5  years old." Pierre interrupted.

"All  right already. Gimme a break. OK, let's have a look."  They 
went   behind Pierre's desk and inserted the disk in his IBM  AT. 
Max asked the computer for a listing of the diskette's  contents.  
The screen scrolled and stopped.


     FILE84.EXE   01/01/80    704
     FILE85.EXE       01/01/80    2013
     FILE86.EXE       01/01/80    1900    
     FILE87.EXE       01/01/80    567
     FILE88.EXE   01/01/80    2981
     FILE89.EXE       01/01/80    4324
     FILE90.EXE       01/01/80    1280
     FILE91.EXE   01/01/80    1395
     FILE92.EXE   01/01/80    2374
     FILE93.EXE       01/01/80    3912
     93 Files     1457 Bytes Remaining

"Just a bunch of small programs.  What are they?"  Max's lack  of 
concern was understandable, but it annoyed Pierre all the same.

"I  don't know, that's what I'm asking you. What are they?   What 
kind of programs?"

"Jeez, Pierre, I don't know.  Games maybe? Small utilities?  Have 
you used them yet?"

"No, not yet, someone just gave them to me.  That's all."   Pier-
re's nervousness betrayed him.

"Well  let's  try one, see what it does."  Max typed  in  FILE93. 
That would run the program.  

A few seconds later the disk stopped and the computer returned to 
its  natural  state, that of  the C:\.  "That  one  didn't  work.  
Let's  try 92.  H'mmmm.   That's curious, it doesn't do  anything 
either.   Looks like a bunch of crap to me.  What are  they  sup-
posed to do?"  Max shrugged his shoulders.

Max  kept trying a few more of the numbered programs.   "I  don't 
know, really.  Maybe it's just a joke."

"Some  joke,  I  don't get it.  Where's the  punch  line?   Damn, 
nothing." Max punched a few more keys. "Let me have this. I wanna 
take me a look a closer look," Max said as he pulled the diskette 
from the machine. 

"Where are you going with that?"

"To  my lab.  I'll disassemble it and see what's what.   Probably 
some garbage shareware.  I'll call you later."

At 4PM Max came flying through Pierre's office door again. Pierre 
was doing his magic . . .talking to the press on the phone.   

"Where did you get this?" bellowed Max as he strutted across  the 
plush carpet holding the diskette in his hand.

Pierre waved him silent and onto the couch. He put up one  finger 
to  indicate just a minute.  Pierre cut the reporter short on  an 
obviously  contrived weak excuse. He promised to call  back  real 
soon.  He meant that part.  He would call back.

"Pierre, where did you get this?" Max asked again.

"Nowhere. What's on it?" he demanded.

"Viruses.  Lots of 'em."

"You mean it's sick?  Like contagious?" Pierre was being genuine.

"No you Frog idiot. Computer viruses."

"What is a computer virus? A machine can't get sick."

"How  wrong you are ol' buddy.  You're in for a lesson now.   Sit 
down." Pierre obliged.  This was Max's turf.

"Here  goes. If I lose you, just holler, ok, Amigo?"  Pierre  had 
grown  to hate being called Amigo, but he had never asked Max  to 
stop.  Besides, now wasn't the appropriate time to enlighten  Max 
as  to  the  ins and outs of nick name  niceties.  Pierre  nodded 
silent agreement.

"Computers  basically use two type of information.  One  type  of 
information  is called data.  That's numbers, words, names  on  a 
list, a letter, accounting records whatever.  The second type are 
called  programs, we tweaks call them  executables.   Executables 
are almost alive.  The instructions contained in the  executables 
operate  on  the  data.  Everything else  is  a  variation  on  a 

"Yeah, so the computer needs a program to make it work.  Everyone 
knows that.  What about these?"

"I'm getting there. Hold on.  There are several types of executa-
bles, some are COM files, SYS and BAT files act like  executables 
and  so do some OVR and OVL files.  In IBM type computers  that's 
about  it.  Apples and MACs and others have  similar  situations, 
but  these  programs are for IBM's.  Now imagine  a  program,  an 
executable  which  is  designed  to  copy  itself  onto   another 

"Yeah,  so.  That's how dGraph works.  We essentially  seam  our-
selves into the application."

"Exactly,  but dGraph is benign.  These,"  he holds up the  disk-
ette,  "these are contaminated. They are viruses.  I only  looked 
at a couple of them, disassembly  takes a while.  Pierre, if only 
one  of these programs were on your computer, 3 years  from  now, 
the  entire  contents  of your hard disk would  be  destroyed  in 
seconds!"    Pierre  was stunned.  It had never occurred  to  him 
that a program could be harmful.

"That's  3 years from now?  So what?  I probably won't  have  the 
same  programs on my computer then anyway.  There's always  some-
thing new."

"It doesn't matter.  The viruses I looked at here copy themselves 
onto other programs and hide themselves.  They do nothing,  noth-
ing at all except copy themselves onto other programs.  In a  few 
days  every program on your computer, I mean every one  would  be 
infected,  would be sick.  Every one would have the same  flu  if 
you  wish.   And then, 3  years from now, any computer  that  was 
infected  would destroy itself.  And, the virus itself  would  be 
destroyed  as well.  Kind  of like Jap kamikazes from  World  War 
II.  They know exactly when they will  die and hope to take a lot 
of others with them. In this case the virus commits suicide in  3 
years. Any data or program within spitting distance, so to speak, 
goes too."

"So  why doesn't someone go looking for viruses and come up  with 

"It's  not that simple.  A well written virus will  disguise  it-
self.   The ones you gave me, at least  the ones  I  disassembled 
not only hide themselves, but they are dormant until  activation; 
in this case on a specific date."  Max continued the never ending 
education of Pierre.  "Besides, it's been proven that there is no 
way  to  have a universal piece of software  to  detect  viruses.  
Can't be done."

"Whew  . . .who comes up with this stuff?"  Pierre was trying  to 
grasp the importance of what he was hearing.

"Used  to be a UNIX type of practical joking; try writing a  pro-
gram that would annoy fellow programmers.  Pretty harmless  fool-
ing around.  No real damage, just embarrassment that called for a 
similar revenge.  It was a game of one upmanship within universi-
ty  computer science labs. I saw a little of  it while  I  worked 
at  the school computer labs, but again it was harmless  shenani-
gans.   These though.  Wow.  Deadly.  Where the hell did you  get 

Pierre was in a quandary. Tell or don't tell.  Do I or don't   I?  
He trusted Max implicitly, but what about the threat.  Naw, I can 
tell Max.  Anything.


"What?" asked Max incredulously.

"Homosoto.  He gave it to me."  Pierre was solemn.

"Why? What for?"

"He said that I was to put it on the dGraph disks that we sell."

"He's  crazy.   That's absolutely nuts.  Do you know  what  would 
happen?"  Max  paced   the floor as he spoke  angrily.  "We  sell 
thousands of dGraph's every month.  Tens of thousands.  And  half 
of the computer companies ship dGraph with their machines.  In  3 
years time we may have over  a couple of million copies of dGraph 
in  the  field.  And who knows how many  millions  more  programs 
would   be   infected,  too.   Tens  of  millions   of   infected 
programs  .  . .my God! Do you know how many  machines  would  be 
destroyed  . . . well maybe not all destroyed but it's about  the 
same  thing.  The effects would be devastating."  Max stopped  to 
absorb what he was saying.  

"How  bad could it be?  Once they're discovered, can't  your  vi-
ruses  be destroyed?" Pierre was curious about the newly  discov-
ered power. 

"Well,  yes and no.  A virus that is dormant for that long  years 
is also called a Time Bomb and a Trojan Horse.  There would be no 
reason  to  suspect that a legitimate software company  would  be 
shipping a product that would damage computers.  The thought   is 
absurd . . .it's madness.  But brilliant madness.  Even if a  few 
of  the  viruses accidentally go off prematurely, the  virus  de-
stroys  itself   in the process. Poof! No smoking gun.   No  evi-
dence.  Nobody would have clue until V-Day."


"Virus Day."

"Max, what's in this for Homosoto? What's the angle?"

"Shit,  I can't think of one.  If  it ever got out that our  pro-
grams  were infected it would be the end of DGI.  All  over.   On 
the other hand, if no one finds out before V-Day, all the PC's in 
the  country,  or Jesus, even the world, self destruct  at  once. 
It's  then only a matter of time before DGI is caught in the act.  
And  then,  Amigo, it's really over.  For you, me and  DGI.  What 
exactly did Homosoto say?"

Pierre  was teetering between  terror  and disbelief. How had  he 
gotten into this position?  His mind wandered back over the  last 
few years since he  and Max had come up with the Engine. Life has 
been  real good.  Sure, I don't get much music in anymore, and  I 
have  kinda  been seduced by the fast lane, but so what?   So,  I 
take  a  little more credit than credit's due,  but  Max  doesn't 
mind. He really doesn't.  

The  threat. Was it real?   Maybe.  He tried to convince  himself  
that his mind was playing tricks on itself.  But the intellectual 
exercises  he performed at lightening speed,  cranial  neuro-syn-
apses  switching for all they were worth, did not  permit  Pierre 
the luxury of a respite of calm.

"He  said he wanted me to put this on dGraph programs.   Sometime 
in the future.  That's about it."   There was no reason to  speak 
of the threats.  No, no reason at all.  His vision became sudden-
ly clear.  He was being boxed into a corner. 

"Well  . . .?" Max's eyes widened as he expected a response  from 

"Well what?"

"Well,  what are you going to tell him? Or, more like  where  are 
you going to tell him to go? This is crazy.  Fucking crazy, man."

"Max,  let me handle it. " Some quietude returned to  Pierre.   A 
determination  and resolve came from the confusion. "Yeah,   I'll 
take care of it."

"Mr.  Homosoto,  we need to speak."  Pierre showed  none  of  the 
international  politic that usually was second nature. He  called 
Homosoto at the San Jose Marriott later that afternoon. 

"Of  course, Mr. Troubleaux.  I will see you shortly."   Homosoto 
hung up.

Was  that a Japanese  yes for a yes, or a yes for  a no?   Pierre 
wasn't sure, but  he was sure  that he knew how to handle Homoso-
to.  Homosoto didn't have the common courtesy to say he would not 
be coming until the following morning.

In the plushness of Pierre's executive suite, Homosoto sat   with 
the  same  shit  eating grin he had left  with  the  day  before.  
Pierre hated that worse  than being called amigo.

"Mr.  Troubleaux, you asked to speak to me.  I assume  this  con-
cerns  a matter of honor between two men."  Homosoto spoke  in  a 
monotone as he sat stiffly.

"You're damned right it does." Pierre picked up the diskette from 
his desk.  "This disk, this disk . . .it's absolutely incredible.  
You know  what's here, you know what kind of damage it can  cause 
and   you have the gall,  the nerve to come in here and  ask  me, 
no,  worse  yet, tell me to distribute these along  with  dGraph?  
You're out of your mind, Mister."  Pierre was in a rage.  "If you 
think we're a bunch of pawns, to do your dirty little deeds,  you 
have another thing coming."

Unfazed, Homosoto rose slowly and started for the door.

"Where  do you think you're going? Hey, I asked you where  you're 
going?   I'm not finished with you yet.  Hey, fuck the deal.    I 
don't want the goddamned money.  We'll stay private and wait  for 
someone  honest  to  come along."  Pierre was  speaking  just  as 
loudly with hand, arm and finger gestures.  While not all of  the 
gestures were obscene, there was no doubt about their meaning.

Homosoto  spoke gently amidst Pierre's ranting. "I will give  you 
some  time to think about it."  With that, he left and  shut  the 
door in Pierre's bright red face.

Three  days later DGI stock would be officially  unleashed   upon 
the  public. Actually institutional buyers had already  committed 
to  vast  amounts of it, leaving precious little  for  the  small 
investor  before driving the price up.  That morning  Pierre  was 
looking for Max.   They had a few last minute details to iron out 
for   the  upcoming press conferences.  They had to  prepare  two 
types of statements.  One if the stock purchase went as expected, 
sold  out  almost instantly at or above the offering  price,  and 
another  to explain the financial bloodbath if the  stock  didn't 
sell.   Unlikely, but their media advisors forced them  to  learn 
both positions, just in case.

His  phone  rang.  "Pierre, Mike Fields here." Fields  was  DGI's 
financial  media consultant.  He worked for the underwriters  and 
had a strong vested interest in the outcome. He didn't sound like 
a happy camper.

"Yes,  Mike.   All  ready for tomorrow? I'm so  excited  I  could 
burst,"  Pierre pretended.

"Yes, so am I, but we have a problem."

Pierre immediately thought  of Homosoto.  "What kind of  problem, 
Mike?" Pierre asked suspiciously.

"Uh, Max, Pierre, it's Max."

"What about Max?"

"Pierre, Max is dead.  He died in a car crash last night.  I just 
found out a few minutes ago. I gather you didn't know?"

Of  all  the possible pieces of bad news that Mike  Fields  could 
have brought him, this was the farthest from his mind. Max  dead? 
Not possible.  Why, he was with him till after 10 last night.  

"Max, dead?  No way.  What happened? I don't believe it.  This is 
some kind of joke, right?"

"Pierre,  I'm afraid I'm all too serious, unless CHiPs is  in  on 
it.  They found a car, pretty well burned up, at the bottom of  a 
ravine  on I280.   Looks like he went through a barrier and  down 
the, well . . .I . . ."

"I get the idea, Mike. Who . . ?" Pierre stuttered. 

"It was an accident, Pierre. One of those dumb stupid  accidents.  
He  may  have  had  a  blow out,  fallen  asleep  at  the  wheel, 
oh  . . .it could be a million things.  Pierre, I am  sorry.   So 
sorry.   I  know what you guys meant to each other.  What  you've 
been through . . ." 

"Mike,  I have to go," Pierre whispered.  The tears were  welling 
up in his  eyes.

"Wait,  Pierre," Mike said gingerly. "Of course we're  gonna  put 
off the offering until . . ."

"No. Don't." Pierre said emphatically. 

"Pierre,  your best friend and partner just died and you want  to 
go through  with this . . .at least wait a week . . .Wall  Street 
will be kind on this . . ."

"I'll  call you later.  No changes.  None." Pierre hung  up.   He 
hung  his head on his desk, shattered with conflicting  emotions.  
He was nothing without Max.  Sure, he gave great image. Knew  how 
to  do  the schtick.  Suck up to the press, tell a  few  stories, 
stretch  a few truths, all in the name of marketing,  of  course.  
But  without Max, Max understood him.  Damn you Max  Jones.   You 
can't do this to me.

His grief vacillated from anger to despair until the phone  rang. 
He  ignored  the first 7 rings.  Maybe they would go  away.   The 
caller persisted.

"Yes," he breathed  into the phone.

"Mr. Troubleaux," it was Homosoto.  Just what he needed now. 


"I  am  most sorry about your esteemed friend,  Max  Jones.   Our 
sympathies are  with you.     Is there anything I can do to  help 
you  in this time of personal grief."   Classic Japanese  manners 
oozed over the phone wire.  

"Yeah.  Moral bankruptcy is a crime against nature, and you  have 
been  demonstrating an extreme talent for vivid androgynous  self 
gratification."  Pierre was rarely rude, but when he was, he aped 
Royal British snobbery at their best.

"A physical impossibility, Mr. Troubleaux,"  Homosoto said dryly. 
"I  understand your feelings, and since it appears that I  cannot 
help  you,  perhaps we should conclude our  business.  Don't  you 
agree Mr. Troubleaux?"  The condescension dripped from Homosoto's 
words.   The previous empathy was gone as quickly as if  a  light 
had been extinguished. 

"Mr.  Homosoto, the offering will still go through,  tomorrow  as 
scheduled.  I assume that meets with your approval?"  The  French 
can be so caustic.  It makes them excellent taxi cab drivers.

"That  is  not the business to which I refer.   I  mean  business 
about honor. I am  sure you remember our last conversation."

"Yes,   I remember, and the answer is still no.  No, no,  no.   I 
won't do it."

"That  is  such  a  shame.   I hope  you  will  not  regret  your 
decision."    There it was again, Pierre thought. Another  veiled  

"Why should I?"

"Simply,  and to the point as you Americans like it,  because  it 
would  be  a terrible waste if the police obtained  evidence  you 
murdered your partner for profit."

"Murdered?  What in hell's name are you talking about?"   Crystal 
clear  visions  scorched  across Pierre's mind;  white  hot  fire 
spread  through  his cranium.  Was Homosoto right? Was  Max  mur-
dered?  Searing heat etched patterns of pain in his brain.

"What  I mean, Mr. Troubleaux, is that there is  ample  evidence, 
enough  to convince any jury beyond a reasonable doubt, that  you 
murdered  your partner as part of a grander scheme to make  your-
self even richer than you will become tomorrow.  Do I make myself 

"You  bastard. Bastard," Pierre hissed into the phone.  Not  only 
does Homosoto kill Max, but he arranges to have Pierre look  like 
the  guilty  party.   What choice did  he  have.  At  least  now.  
There's no proof, is there? The police reports are apparently not 
ready.  No autopsy.  Body burned? What could Homosoto do?

"Fuck you all  the way to Hell!" Pierre screamed at the phone  in 
abject frustration and then slammed the receiver down so hard the 
impact resistant plastic cracked.

At  that  same instant, Sheila Brandt, his  secretary,  carefully 
opened  the door his door. "Pierre, I just heard. I am so  sorry.  
What  can I do?" She genuinely felt for him.  The two had been  a 
great team, even if Pierre had become obsessed with himself.  Her 
drawn  face with 40 years of intense sun worshiping  was  wracked 
with emotional distress. 

"Nothing   Sheil.    Thanks    though  .  .   .what   about   the 
arrangements  . . .?"  The helpless look on his face brought  out 
the mother in her even though she was only a few years older.

"Being taken care of . . .do you want to . . .?"

"No,  yes,  whatever  .  .  .that's  all  right,  just  keep   me 
advised . . ."

"Yessir.   Oh,  I hate to do this, but your  9AM  appointment  is 
waiting.  Should I get rid  of him?"

"Who is it?  Something I really care about  right now?"

"I don't know.  He's from personnel."  

"Personnel? Since when do I get involved in that?"

"That's  all  I know. Don't worry I'll have him  come  back  next 
week . . ."   she said thinking she had just relieved her boss of 
an unnecessary burden that could wait.

"Sheil?  Send him in.  Maybe it'll get my mind off of this."

"If you're sure . . ." Scott nodded at her affirmatively.  "Sure, 
Pierre, I'll send him in."

An elegantly dressed man, perhaps a dash over six feet, of  about 
30 entered.  He walked with absolute confidence.  If this guy was 
applying  for a job he was too well dressed for most of  DGI.  He 
looked  more  like a tanned and rested Wall  Street  broker  than 
a  . . .well whatever he was. The door closed behind him  and  he 
grasped Pierre's hand.

"Good  morning Mr. Troubleaux.  My name is Thomas Hastings.   Why 
don't  we  sit  for moment."  Their hands released  as  they  sat 
opposite  each other in matching chairs. Pierre sensed  that  Mr. 
Hastings  was going to run the conversation.  So be it.  "I am  a 
software  engineer with 4 advanced degrees as well 2  PhD's  from 
Caltech  and  Polytechnique in Paris.  There are  34  US  patents 
either  in  my name alone or jointly along with  over  200  copy-
rights.  I  have  an  MBA from  Harvard  and  speak  6  languages 
fluently . . ."

Pierre  interrupted, "I am impressed with your  credentials,  and 
your clothes. What may I do for you."

"Oh  dear, I guess you don't know.  I am Max Jones'  replacement.  
Mr. Homosoto sent me.  May I have the diskette please?"

* * * * * 

The  financial  section of the New York City Times  included  two 
pieces on the DGI offering.  One concerned the dollars and cents, 
and the was a related human interest story, with financial reper-
cussions.  Max Jones, the co-founder of DGI, died in a car  acci-
dent  2 days before the company was to go public.  It would  have 
earned him over $20 Million cash, with more to come.  

The  article espoused the "such a shame for the company" tone  on 
the loss of their technical wizard and co-founder.  It was a true 
loss  to the industry, as much as if Bill Gates had  died.   Max, 
though, was more the Buddy Holly of software, while Gates was the 
Art  Garfunkle. The AP story, though, neglected to  mention  that 
the San Jose police had not yet ruled out foul play.  

* * * * * 

     Wednesday, September 1
     New York City

Scott arrived in the City Room early to the surprise of Doug.  He 
was a good reporter; he had the smarts, his writing was exemplary 
and he had developed a solid readership, but early hours were not 
his strong point.

"I don't do mornings," Scott made clear to anyone who thought  he 
should  function socially before noon.  If they didn't  take  the 
hint,  he behaved obnoxiously enough to convince anyone that  his 
aversion to mornings should be taken seriously.

Doug  noticed that Scott had a purpose in arriving so early.   It 
must  be those damned files.  The pile of documents that  alleged 
America was as crooked as the Mafia.  Good leads, admittedly, but 
proving  them  was going to be a bitch.  Christ, Scott  had  been 
going at them with a vengeance.  Let him have some rope.

Scott got down to business.  He first called  Robert Henson,  CEO 
of  Perris, Miller and Stevenson.  Scott's credentials as  a  re-
porter  for  the New York City Times got him past  the  secretary 
easily.   Henson took the call; it was part of the job.

"Mr.  Henson?  This is Scott Mason from the Times.  I would  like 
to  get  a comment on the proposed Boston-Ellis  merger."   Scott 
sounded officious.

"Of  course, Mr. Mason.  How can I help?"  Robert Henson  sounded 

"We  have  the press releases and stock quotes.   They  are  most 
useful  and I am sure that they will be used.  But I  have  other 
questions."  Scott hoped to mislead Henson into thinking he would 
ask the pat questions he was expected to ask.

"Yes,  thank you.  My staff is very well prepared, and we try  to 
give  the press adequate information. What do you  need?"   Scott 
could hear the smiling Henson ready to play the press game.

"Basically, Mr. Henson,  I have some documents that suggest  that 
you  inflated the net earnings of Second Boston to such a  degree 
that,  if, and I say, if, the deal goes through, your  firm  will 
earn  almost  one million dollars in extra  fees.   However,  the 
figures I have do not agree at all with those filed with the SEC.  
Would you care to comment?"  Scott tried not to sound accusatory, 
but it was difficult not to play the adversary.

Henson  didn't try to conceal the cough he suddenly developed  at 
the  revelation.   "Where," he choked,  "where did you  get  that 

"From a reliable source.  We are looking for a confirmation and a 
comment.   We know  the data is correct."  Scott was playing  his 
King, but he still held an Ace if he needed it.

"I  have no comment.  We have filed all required affidavits  with 
the appropriate regulatory agencies.  If you need anything  else, 
then I suggest you call them."  Henson was nervous and the  phone 
wires conveyed his agitation.

"I  assume, Mr. Henson, that you won't mind that I ask  them  why 
files  from your computer dispute figures you gave to  the  SEC?"  
Scott posed the question to give Henson an option.

"That's  not what I said," Henson said abruptly.  "What  computer 

"I  have a set of printouts that show that the  earnings  figures 
for  Second Boston are substantially below those stated  in  your 
filings.   Simple and dry.  Do you have a comment?"  Scott  stuck 
with the game plan.

"I . . .uh . . .am not familiar . . .with . . .the . . .ah . . ."  
Henson  hesitated and then decided to go on the offensive.   "You 
have nothing.  Nothing.  It's a trap," Henson affirmed.

"Sir,  thank  you  for your time."  Scott hung  up  after  Henson 
repeatedly denied any improprieties. 

"This  is Scott Mason for Senator Rickfield.  I am with  the  New 
York  City  Times."  Scott almost demanded  a  conversation  with 
Washington's  leading debunker of the Defense  Department's  over 

"May I tell the Senator what this is in reference to?"  The  male 
secretary matter of factly asked.

"Yes  of  course." Scott was overly polite.  "General  Young  and 
Credit Suisse."  

"Excuse me?" the young aide asked innocently.

"That  will do.  I need a comment before I go to  print."   Scott 
commanded an assurance that the aide was not used to hearing from 
the press.

"Wait one moment please," the aide said.  A few seconds of  Muzak 
on  hold bored Scott before Senator Merrill Rickfield  picked  up 
the call.  He was belligerent.

"What the hell is this about?" The senator demanded.

"Is that for the record?"  Scott calmly asked.

"Is what for the record?  Who the hell is this?  You can't intim-
idate me. I am a United States Senator."  The self assurance gave 
away nervousness.  

"I mean no disrespect, Senator.  I am working on an article about 
political compromise.  Very simple.  I have information that  you 
and General Young, shall we say, have . . .an understanding.   As 
a  member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you  have  helped 
pass  legislation  that gave you both what you  wanted.   General 
Young got his weapons and you have a substantial bank account  in 
Geneva.  Comments, Senator?"

Rickfield was beside himself but was forced to maintain a  formal 
composure.  "Sir.  You have made some serious accusations,  slan-
derous at least, criminal I suspect.  I hope you are prepared  to 
back  up these preposterous claims."  Scott heard desperation  in 
the Senator's voice.  

"Yessir,  I am.  I go to print, with or without  your  comments," 
Scott  lied.  A prolonged pause followed.  The first  person  who 
spoke lost, so Scott busied himself with a crossword puzzle until 
Rickfield spoke.

"If you  publish these absurdities, I will sue you and your paper 
right into bankruptcy.  Do you copy?" 

"I  copy  , Senator. Is that for attribution?"  Scott  knew  that 
would piss off Rickfield.  The line went dead.  

Scott  made  similar  calls for a good part of the  day,  and  he 
continued to be amazed.  

From  call to call, the answers were the same.  "How did you  get 
that?"  "Where did you find out?"  "There's no way you could know 
that."  "I was the only one who had access to that . . ."   "That 
was in my private files . . ."  

Blue  Tower Nuclear Plant denied that Scott held  internal  memos 
instructing safety engineers to withhold critical flaws from  the 
Nuclear Regulatory Committee.   General Autos denied using  known 
faulty  parts in Cruise Control mechanisms despite the fact  that 
Scott held a copy of a SECRET internal memorandum.  He especially 
upset  the  Department of Defense when he asked them  how  Senors 
Mendez and Rodriguez, CIA operatives, had set up Noriega.

The Center for Disease Control reacted with abject terror at  the 
thought  of seeing the name of thousands of AIDS victims  in  the 
newspaper.  Never the less, the CDC refused to comfirm that their 
files  had  been  penetrated or any of the  names  on  the  list.  

Everyone he called gave him virtually the same story.  Above  and 
beyond the official denial to any press; far from the  accusatory 
claims  which were universally denied for a wide variety of  rea-
sons, all of his contacts were, in his opinion, honestly  shocked 
that he even had a hint of their alleged infractions. 

Scott  Mason  began to feel he was part of a conspiracy,  one  in 
which everyone he called was a victim.  One in which he  received 
the same formatted answer; more surprise than denial. 

Scott  knew he was onto a story, but he had no idea what it  was.  
He had in his possession damning data, from an anonymous  source, 
with, thus far, no  way to get a confirmation.  Damn.  He  needed 
that for the next time he got lawyered.

When  he  presented his case to his editor, Scott's  worst  fears 
were  confirmed. Doug McGuire decided that a bigger story was  in 
the  making.  Therefore, we don't go.  Not yet. That's an  order.  
Keep digging.

"And while you're at it," Doug said with the pleasure of a father 
teasing  his son, "follow this up, will you?  I need it by  dead-

Scott took the AP printout from Doug and read the item.

"No,"  Scott gasped, "not another virus!"  He threw the paper  on 
his desk.  "I'm up to my ass in . . ."

"Viruses," Doug said firmly, but grinning.

"Have a heart, these things are such bullshit."

"Then say so.  But say something."


                         Chapter 7
     Thursday, September 17
     New York City Times

     Christopher Columbus Brings Disease to America
     By Scott Mason

Here's a story I can't resist, regardless of the absurdity of the 
headline. In this case the words are borrowed from a story  title 
in last week's National Expose, that most revered of journalistic 
publications  which distributes half truths and tortured  conclu-
sions from publicity seeking nobodies.

The title should more appropriately be something like,

"Terror Feared in New Computer Virus Outbreak", or

"Experts See Potential Damage to Computer Systems", or

"Columbus Day Virus: Imaginary Panic?"

According  to  computer experts, this Columbus Day,  October  12, 
will  mark a repeat appearance of the now infamous  Columbus  Day 
Virus.   As for the last several years, that is  the  anticipated 
date for a highly viral computer virus to 'explode'.  The history 
behind the headline reads from an Ian Fleming novel.

In  late 1988, a group of West German hackers and  computer  pro-
grammers thought it would be great fun to build their own comput-
er  virus.  As my regular readers recall, a computer virus is  an 
unsolicited  and unwanted computer program whose sole purpose  is 
to wreak havoc in computers. Either by destroying important files 
or otherwise damaging the system.

We  now know that that these Germans are part of  an  underground 
group  known  as CHAOS, an acronym for Computer  Hackers  Against 
Open Systems, whatever the heck that means.  They work to promote 
computer systems disruption worldwide.  

In  March  of 1989, Amsterdam, Holland, hosted  an  international 
conference of computer programmers.  Are you ready for the  name?  
Intergalactic Hackers Conference.  Some members were aware of the 
planned  virus.   As a result of the negative  publicity  hackers 
have  gotten  over the last few years, the  Conference  issued  a 
statement  disavowing  the propagation and creation  of  computer 
viruses.   All  very honorable by a group of  people  whose  sole 
purpose in life is to invade the privacy of others.  But,  that's 
what they said.

Somewhere, somehow, something went wrong, and the CHAOS virus got 
released at the Intergalactic Hackers meetings.  In other  words, 
files and programs, supposedly legitimate ones, got corrupted  by 
this disreputable band, and the infections began spreading.

The  first outbreak of the Columbus Day Virus occurred  in  1989, 
and caused millions of dollars of down computer time, reconstruc-
tion of data banks and system protection. 

Again  we are warned, that the infection has continued to  spread 
and  that  some strains of the virus are programmed  to  detonate 
over a period of years.  The Columbus Day Virus is called by  its 
creators,  the "Data Crime Virus", a name befitting its  purpose.  
When it strikes, it announces itself to the computer user, and by 
that time, it's too late.  Your computer is kaput!

What  makes this particular computer virus any  more  tantalizing 
than the hundred or so that have preceded it?  The publicity  the 
media has given it, each and every year since 1989.

The Data Crime, aka Columbus Day Virus has, for some  inescapable 
reason attracted the attention of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and hundreds 
of newspapers including this one.  The Associated Press and other 
reputable  media have, perhaps due to slow news weeks, focused  a 
great  deal of attention on this anticipated technological  Arma-

Of course there are other experts who pooh-pooh the entire  Virus 
issue  and see it as an over-exploited media event  propelled  by 
Virus  Busters.  Sam Moscovitz of Computer Nook in Dallas,  Texas 
commented,  "I have never seen a virus in 20 years.   I've  heard 
about  them  but really think they are a figment of  the  media's 

Virus  Busters  are people or firms who  specialize  in  fighting 
alleged computer viruses by creating and selling so-called  anti-
dotes.   Virus  Busting Sean McCullough, President of  The  Virus 
Institute  in San Jose, California thinks that most  viruses  are 
harmless and users and companies overreact.  "There have been  no 
more  that  a few dozen viral outbreaks in the  last  few  years.  
They spread more by rumor than by infection."  When asked how  he 
made  his  living, he responded, "I sell  antidotes  to  computer 
viruses."  Does he make a good living?  "I can't keep up with the 
demand," he insists.

The  Federal Government, though, seems concerned, and  maybe  for 
good  reason.  On October 13,  another NASA space shuttle  launch 
is planned.  Friday the 13th is another date that computer  virus 
makers use as the intended date of destruction.  According to  an 
official spokesman, NASA has called in computer security  experts 
to  make sure that their systems are " . . .clean and  free  from 
infection.  It's a purely precautionary move, we are not worried.  
The launch will continue as planned."  

Viruses.  Are they real?  Most people believe they are real,  and 
dangerous, but that chances of infection are low.  As one  highly 
respected computer specialist put it, "The Columbus Day Virus  is 
a  low risk high consequence possibility.  I don't recommend  any 
panic."  Does he protect his own computer agaist viruses?  "Abso-
lutely.  I can't risk losing my computers."

Can  anybody?  Until October 12, this is Scott Mason,  hoping  my 
computer never needs Tylenol.

* * * * * 

     Scarsdale, New York.

The Conrail  trains were never on time.

Scott  Mason regularly tried to make it to the station  to   ride 
the 7:23 from the wealthy Westchester town of Scarsdale, New York 
into  Grand Central Station.  If he made it. It was a  32  minute 
ride into the City on good days and over 2 hours  when the feder-
ally subsidized rail service was under Congressional scrutiny.

The  ritual  was simple.  He fell into his old  Porsche  911,  an 
upscale  version of a station car, and drove the 2 miles  to  the 
Scarsdale train station.  He bought a large styrofoam cup full of 
decent  black coffee and 3 morning papers from the blind  newsman 
before boarding the express train.  Non-stop to Harlem, and  then 
on to 42nd St. and Park Avenue and wake up time.

Tyrone  Duncan followed a similar routine.  Except he  drove  his 
silver  BMW  850i to the station.  The FBI provided  him  with  a 
perfectly  good  Ford Fairlane  with 78,000 miles on it  when  he 
needed a car in New York.   He was one of the few black commuters 
from  the affluent bedroom community and his size made  him  more 
conspicuous than his color. 

Scott  and Tyrone were train buddies.  Train buddies are  perhaps 
unique in the commuterdom of the New York suburbs. Every  morning 
you  see the same group of drowsy, hung over executives on  their 
way  to the Big Apple.  The morning commute is a personal  solace 
for  many.  Your train buddy knows if you got laid and  by  whom.  
If  you tripped over your kids toys in the driveway,  your  train 
buddy knew.  If work was a bitch, he knew before the wife.  Train 
buddies  are  buddies to the death or the  bar,  whichever  comes 

While  Scott and Tyrone had been traveling the same  the  morning 
route  since  Scott had joined the paper, they had  been  friends 
since  their wives introduced them at the Scarsdale Country  Club 
10  years  ago.  Maggie Mason and Arlene Duncan  were  opoosites; 
Maggie,  a giggly, spacey and spontaneous girl of 24 and  Arlene, 
the dedicated wife of a civil servant and mother of three  daugh-
ters  who  were going to toe the line, by  God.   The  attachment 
between the two was not immediately explainable, but it gave both 
Scott and Ty a buddy with their wives' blessing.

The  physical  contrast  between the two was  comical  at  times.  
Duncan  was a 240 pound six foot four college linebacker who  had 
let  his considerable bulk accumulate around the middle.   Scott, 
small and wiry was 10 years Ty's junior.  On weekends they played 
on  a very amateur local basketball league where minimum age  was 
thirty  five,  but there, Scott consistently out  maneuvered  Ty-
rone's bulk.

During  the week, Tyrone dressed in impeccable Saville Row  suits 
he  had made in London while Scott's uniform was jeans,  sneakers 
and  T-Shirt of choice.  His glowing skull, more dark brown  than 
ebony, with fringes of graying short hair emphasized the  usually 
jovial face that was described as a cross between rolly-polly and 
bulbous.  Scott on the other hand, always seemed to need a  hair-

Coffee  in hand, Tyrone plopped down opposite Scott as the  train 
pulled out of the open air station.  

"You must be in some mood," Tyrone said laughing.

Scott laid down his newspaper and vacantly asked why.

"That  shirt," Ty smirked.  "A lesson in how to make friends  and 
influence people."

"Oh, this?"  Scott looked down at the words on his chest:

               I'm O.K.
          You're A Shithead.

"It only offends them that oughta be offended."



"Gotcha," Ty said sarcastically. "Right."

"My  mother,"  groused Scott.  "VCR lessons."  Ty  didn't  under-

"I gave my mom a VCR last Christmas," Scott continued. "She ooh'd 
and ah'd and I thought great, I got her a decent present. Well, a 
couple  of weeks later I went over to her place and I  asked  how 
she  liked the VCR.  She didn't answer, so I asked again and  she 
mumbled that she hadn't used it yet.  I fell down," Scott laughed 
out loud. 

"'Why?'  I  asked her and she said she wanted to get used  to  it 
sitting  next  to her TV for a couple of months before  she  used 
it."  Tyrone caught a case of Scott's roaring laughter. 

"Wheeee!" exclaimed Tyrone.  "And you an engineer?"  

"Hey,"  Scott settled down, "my mom calls 911 to change a  light-
bulb."   They laughed until Scott could speak.  "So last night  I 
went over for her weekly VCR lesson."

"If it's anything like Arlene's mother," Tyrone giggled,  "trust-
ing  a machine to do something right, when you're not  around  to 
make sure it is right, is an absolutely terrifying thought.  They 
don't believe it works."

"It's  a lot of fun actually," Scott said fondly.  "It  tests  my 
ability to reduce things to the basics.  The real basics.  Trying 
to teach a seventy year old widower about digital is like  trying 
to get a square ball bearing to roll."  

Even so, Scott looked forward to those evenings with his mom.  He 
couldn't  imagine it, the inability to understand the  simplicity 
of  either 'on' or 'off'.  But he welcomed the tangent  conversa-
tions  that invariably resulted when he tried to explain how  the 
VCR  could record one channel and yes mom, you can watch  another 
channel at the same time.

Scott  never  found  out that his mother  deprogrammed  the  VCR, 
cleared  its  memory and 'Twelved' the clock an  hour  before  he 
arrived to show her how to use it.  And after he left, she repro-
grammed it for her tastes only to erase it again before his  next 
visit.  If he had ever discovered her ruse it would  have  ruined 
her  little game and the ritual starting point for their  private 

"By  the  way," Scott said to Tyrone. "What are  you  and  Arlene 
doing Sunday night?"

"Sunday?  Nothing, why?"  Tyrone asked innocently.

"My mom is having a little get together and she'd love the two of 
you . . ."

"Is this another one of her seances?" Tyrone asked pointedly.

"Well, not in so many words, but it's always possible . . ."

"Forget  it."  Tyrone said stubbornly.  "Not after what  happened 
last  time.  I don't think I could get Arlene within 20 miles  of 
your  mother.  She scared the living shit out of her . .  .and  I 
have my doubts."

"Relax," Scott said calmly.  "It's just her way of keeping  busy.  
Some people play bingo, others play bridge . . ."

"And  your mother shakes the rafters trying to raise her  husband 
from the dead," said Scott with exaperation.  "I don't care  what 
you  say,  that's  not normal.  I like your  mother,  but,  well, 
Arlene  has put her foot down."  Tyrone shuddered at the  thought 
of  that evening.  No one could explain how the  wooden  shutters 
blew  open or the table wobbled.  Tyrone preferred, just  as  his 
wife did, to pretend it never happened.

"Hey,"  Tyrone said with his head back behind the newspaper.   "I 
see you're making a name for yourself elsewhere, too."

"What do you mean?" Scott asked. 

"Don't give me that innocent shit.  I'm a trained  professional," 
Tyrone  joked.    He held up the New York City  Times  turned  to 
Scott's Christopher Columbus article. "Your computer crime pieces 
have  been raising a few eyebrows down at the office.  Seems  you 
have better sources than we do.  Our Computer Fraud division  has 
been going nuts recently."

"Glad you can read."  Scott enjoyed the compliment.  "Just a job, 
but I gotta story much more interesting.  I can't publish it yet, 


"Damn  lawyers want us to have our facts straight.  Can  you  be-
lieve  it?"  Scott teased Tyrone.  "Besides, blackmail is so,  so 

Tyrone  stopped in mid-sip of his hot coffee.  "What  blackmail?"  
The  frozen visage caught Scott off guard.  They rarely spoke  of 
their  respective jobs in any detail, preferring to remain  at  a 
measured professional distance.  The years of dedication invested 
in their friendship, even after to everyones' surprise, Maggie up 
and  left for California were not to be put in jeoprady  unneces-
sarily.  Thus far their interests had not sufficiently overlapped 
to be of concern.

"It's a story, that, well, doesn't have enough to go into  print, 
but, it's there, I know it. Off the record, ok?" Scott wanted  to 

"Mums the word."

"A  few days ago I received some revealing documents papers on  a 
certain company.  I can't say which one." He looked at Tyrone for 

"Whatever," Tyrone urged anxiously.

Scott told Tyrone about his nameless and faceless donor and  what 
Higgins had said about the McMillan situation and the legality of 
the apparently purloined information.  Tyrone listened in  fasci-
nation  as Scott outline a few inner sanctum secrets to which  he 
was privy.

Tyrone got a shiver up his spine.  He tried to disguise it.  

"Can I ask you a question?"  Tyrone quietly asked.

"Sure. Go for it."

"Was one of the companies Amalgamated General?"

Scott shot Tyrone a look they belied the answer. 

"How did you know?"  Scott asked suspiciously.

"And  would another be First Federated or State  National  Bank?"  
Tyrone tried to subdue his concern.  All he needed was the  press 
on this.  

Scott could not hide his surprise.  "Yeah! And a bunch of others.  
How'd you know?"

Tyrone  retreated back into his professional FBI persona.  "Lucky 

"Bullshit.  What's up?" Scott's reporter mindset replaced that of 
the lazy commuter.

"Nothing, just a coincidence."  Tyrone picked up a newspaper  and 
buried his face behind it.

"Hey, Ty.  Talk ol' buddy."  

"I can't and you know it." Tyrone sounded adamant.

"As a friend?  I'll buy you a lollipop?" Scott joked.

Ty  snickered. "You know the rules, I can't talk about a case  in 

"So there is a case? What is it?" Scott probed.

"I didn't say that there was a case," Ty countered.

"Yes you did.  Case in progress were your words, not mine.  C'mon 
what's up?"  

"Shit,  you media types."  Tyrone gave himself a few  seconds  to 
think.  "I'll never know why you became a reporter.  You used  to 
be  a  much  nicer pain in the ass before you  became  so  nosy."  
Scott sat silently, enjoying Ty's awkwardness.

Tyrone hated to compromise the  sanctity of his position, but  he 
realized  that he, too, needed some help.  Since he  hadn't  read 
any of this in the papers, there had to be journalistic responsi-
bility from both Scott and the paper. "Off, off, off the  record. 
Clear?"  He was serious.


The train rumbled into the tunnel at the Northern tip of  Manhat-
tan. They had to raise their voices to hear each other, but  that 
meant they couldn't be heard either. 

"As  near  as I can tell," Tyrone hesitantly began.   "There's  a 
well coordinated nationwide blackmail operation in progress.   As 
of yesterday, we have received almost a hundred cases of  alleged 
blackmail. From  Oshkosh, Baton Rouge, New York, Miami,  Atlanta, 
Chicago,  LA,  the works.  Small towns to the  metros.   It's  an 
epidemic  and  the local and state cops  are  absolutely  buried.  
They  can't handle it, and besides it's way out of their  league. 
So  who do they all call? Us. Shit. I need this, right?   There's 
no  way we can handle this many cases at once.  No way.  Washing-
ton's going berserk."

"Who's  behind it?"  Scott asked knowing he wouldn't get  a  real 

"That's  the  rub.  Don't have a clue.  Not a clue.   There's  no 
pattern, none at all.  We assumed it was organized crime, but our 
informants  say they're baffled.  Not the mob, they swear.   They 
knew about it before we did.  Figures."  Tyrone's voice echoed  a 
professional frustration.


"None. We're stuck."

"Sounds like we're both on the same hunt."

The  train  slowed to a crawl and then a hesitant stop  at  Grand 
Central.   Thousands  of commuters lunged at the  doors  to  make 
their  escape to the streets of New York above them.  Scott  won-
dered if any of  them were part of Duncan's problems.

"Scott?"  Tyrone queried on the escalator.


"Not a word, ok?"

Scott  held  up  his right hand  with  three  fingers.   "Scott's 
honor!" That was good enough for Tyrone.

They  walked up the stairs and past a newsstand that caught  both 
of their eyes instantly.  The National Expose had another  sensa-
tionalistic  headline: 


They fought for who would pay the 75 cents for the scandal filled 
tabloid, bought two, and started reading right where they stood. 

"Jesus,"  Tyrone  said more breathing than  actually  saying  the 
word.   "They're going to make a weekly event of  printing  every 

"They have the papers, too," muttered Scott.  "The whole  blasted 
lot.  And  they're  printing them."  Scott put  down  the  paper.  
"This makes it a brand new ball game . . ."

"Just what I need," Tyrone said with disgust.  

"That's  the answer," exclaimed Scott.  "The motive.  Who's  been 
affected so far?"

"That's the mystery. No one seems to have been affected.   What's 
the  answer?" Tyrone demanded loud enough to  attract  attention.  
"What's the answer?" he whispered up close.

"It's you."  Scott noted.

Tyrone expressed surprise.  "What do you mean, me."

"I mean, it seems that the FBI has been affected more than anyone 
else.  You said you're overloaded, and that you can't pay  atten-
tion to other crimes."

"You're  jumping to conclusions."  Tyrone didn't  follow  Scott's 
reasoning and cocked his head quizzically.

"What  if the entire aim of the blackmail was to so overwork  the 
FBI, so overload it with useless cases, and that the perpetrators 
really  have other crimes in mind.  Maybe they have  already  hit 
their real targets.  Isn't it possible that the FBI is an unwill-
ing  dupe,  a decoy in a much larger scheme  that  isn't  obvious 
yet?"   Scott  liked the sound of his thinking and  he  saw  that 
Tyrone wasn't buying his argument. 

"It's  possible, I guess . . .but . . ." Tyrone didn't  have  the 
words  to finish his foggy thoughts.  It was too far  left  field 
for  his  linear  thinking.  "No this is crazy as  the  time  you 
though  that UFO's were invading Westchester in '85.  Then  there 
was the time you said that Columbian drug dealers put cocaine  in 
the water supply . . ."

"That wasn't my fault . . ."

"  . . .and the Trump Noriega connection and the other  500  wild 
ass conspiracies you come up with."

Scott  dismissed  Tyrone's  friendly criticism  by  ignoring  the 
derisions.   "As I see it," Scott continued, "the only victim  is 
the  FBI.   None of the alleged victims have been  harmed,  other 
than ego and their paranoia levels. Maybe the FBI was the  target 
all  along.    Scott  suggested, "it's as good a  theory  as  any 

"With what goal?"  Duncan accepted the logic for the moment.

"So  when  the  real thing hits, you guys are too  fucked  up  to 

* * * * *

     The Federal Bureau of Investigation
     Federal Square, Manhattan. 

The flat white and glass square building, designed in the  '60's, 
built shoddily by the lowest bidder in 1981, in no way echoed the 
level of technical sophistication hidden behind the drab  exteri-
or.     The  building had no personality, no  character,  nothing 
memorable  about  it, and that was exactly the way  the   tenants 
wanted it. 

The 23 story building extended 6 full floors below the  congested 
streets of Lower Manhattan. Throughout the entire structure  well 
guarded  mazes held the clues to the locations of  an  incredible 
array  of  computing power, some of the world's  best  analytical 
tools,  test equipment, forensic labs, communications  facilities 
and  a  staff  of experts in hundreds  of  technical  specialties 
required to investigate crimes that landed in their jurisdiction. 

The  most sensitive work was performed underground, protected  by 
the solid bedrock of Manhattan island.  Eavesdropping was  impos-
sible, almost, and operational privacy was guaranteed.   Personal 
privacy  was  another matter, though.  Most of the  office  staff 
worked  out  in an open office floorplan. The walls  between  the 
guard stations and banks of elevators consisted solely of bullet-
proof floor to ceiling triple pane glass.  Unnerving at first, no 

There  was  a self-imposed class structure  between  the  "bugs", 
those who worked in the subterranean chambers and the "air-heads" 
who worked where the daylight shone.  There was near total  sepa-
ration  between the two groups out of necessity; maintain  isola-
tion  between  those with differing need-to-know  criteria.   The 
most  visible  form  of self-imposed  isolation,  and  unintended 
competitiveness was that each camp spent Happy Hour at  different 
bars.  A line that was rarely crossed.

Unlike  the mechanism of the Corporate Ladder, where  the  higher 
floors  are reserved for upper, top, elite management, the  power 
brokers, at the FBI the farther down into the ground you  worked, 
the more important you were.  To the "airheads", "bugs" tried  to 
see  how low they could sink in their acquisition of power  while 
rising up on the Government pay scale. 

On  level  5, descending from street level 1, Tyrone sat  on  the 
edge  of his large Government issue executive desk to answer  his 
ringing  phone.  It was Washington, Bob Burnsen,  his  Washington 
based  superior and family friend for years.

"No,  really. Thanks," Ty smiled.  "Bob, we've been through  this 
before.  It's all very flattering, but no.  I'm afraid not.   And 
you  know why.  We've been through this all . . ."  He was  being 
cut off by his boss, so he shut up and listened.

"Bob  .  .  .Bob . . .Bob," Tyrone was laughing as  he  tried  to 
interrupt  the other end of the conversation. "OK, I'll  give  it 
some more thought, but don't get your hopes up.  It's just not in 
my cards."  He listened again.

"Bob,  I'll speak to Arlene again, but she feels the same  way  I 
do.   We're  both  quite content and frankly, I  don't  need  the 
headaches."  He looked around the room as he cocked the  earpiece 
away from his head. He was hearing the same argument again.

"Bob,  I said  I would.  I'll call  you next week."   He  paused. 
"Right. If you don't hear from me, you'll call me. I  understand. 
Right.  OK, Bob. All right, you too. Goodbye."

He  hung  up the phone in disbelief.  They just  won't  leave  me 
alone.  Let  me be! He clasped his hands in mock  prayer  at  the 

* * * * *

Tyrone Duncan joined the FBI in 1968, immediately after  graduat-
ing  cum  laude from Harvard Law.  Statistically  the  odds  were 
against  him ever being accepted into the elite  National  Police 
Force.  The virtually autonomous empire that J. Edgar Hoover  had 
created  over 60 years and 12 presidents ago was very   selective 
about whom it admitted.  Tyrone Duncan was black.  

His  distinguished  pre-law training had him prepared  to  follow 
into  his father's footsteps, as a partner with one  of  Boston's 
most  prestigious law firms.  Tyrone was a member of one  of  the 
very  few rich and influential black families in the North  East.  
His  family was labeled "Liberal" when one wasn't ashamed of  the 

Then  came  Selma.    At 19, he participated in  several  of  the 
marches  in  the  South and it was then that he  first  hand  saw 
prejudice. But it was more than prejudice, though.  It was  hate, 
it  was ignorance and fear.  It was so much more than  prejudice.  
It  was  one of the last vestiges left over from a  society  con-
quered  over a century ago; one that wouldn't let go of its  mis-
guided myopic traditions.

Fear  and hate are contagious. Fueled by the oppressive heat  and 
humidity,  decades  of racial conflict, several 'Jew  Boy  Nigger 
Lovers'  were  killed that summer in Alabama. The murder  of  the 
civil  rights workers made front page news. The country was  out-
raged, at the murders most assuredly, but national outrage turned 
quickly to divisional disgust when local residents dismissed  the 
crime  as  a prank, or even congratulated  the  perpetrators  for 
their actions.  

The  FBI was not called in to Alabama to solve murders,  per  se; 
murder  is  not a federal crime.  They were to  solve  the  crime 
because  the  murderers had violated the victims'  civil  rights.  
Tyrone  thought that that approach was real slick, a  nice  legal 
side  step  to get what you want. Put the lawyers  on  the  case.   
When  he asked the FBI if they could use a hand, the local  over-
worked,  understaffed agents graciously accepted his  offer   and 
Tyrone  spent the remainder of the summer filing papers and  per-
forming other mundane tasks while learning a great deal.

On  the  plane  back to Boston, Tyrone Duncan  decided  that  his  
despite  his father's urging, after law school he would join  the 

Tyrone Duncan, graduate cum laude, GPA 3.87, Harvard Law  School, 
passed  the  Massachussettes  Bar on the  first  try  and  sailed 
through the written and physical tests for FBI admission. He  was 
over 100 pounds lighter than his current weight.  His  background 
check was unassailable except for his family's prominent  liberal 
bent.   He had every basic qualification needed to become an  FBI 
Agent.  He was turned down.

Thurman  Duncan, his prominent lawyer father was beside  himself, 
blaming it on Hoover personally.  But Tyrone decided to 'investi-
gate'  and  determine  who or what was pulling  the  strings.  He 
called  FBI personnel and asked why he had been  rejected.   They 
mumbled something about 'experience base' and 'fitting the mold'.  
That was when he realized that he was turned down solely  because 
he  was black. Tyrone was not about to let a  racial issue  stand 
in his way.  

He located a couple of the agents with whom he had worked  during 
the  last summer.  After the pleasantries, Tyrone told them  that 
he  was  applying for a position as an assistant  DA  in  Boston. 
Would  they mind writing a letter . . .

Tyrone Duncan was right on time at the office of the FBI  Person-
nel Director.  Amazing, Tyrone thought, the resemblance to  Hoov-
er.   The  four letters of recommendation, which read  more  like 
votes for sainthood were a little overdone, but, they were on FBI 
stationary.   Tyrone asked the Personnel  Director if they  would 
reconsider  his  application,  and that if  necessary,  he  would 
whitewash his skin.  

The following day Tyrone received a call.  Oh, it was a big  mix-
up.   We misfiled someone else's charts in your files and,  well, 
you understand, I'm sure.  It happens all the time.  We're  sorry 
for  any  inconvenience.  Would you be available to  come  in  on 
Monday? Welcome to the FBI.  

Tyrone paid his dues early.  Got shot at some, chased long haired 
left  wing hippie radicals who blew up gas stations in 17  states 
for  some unfathomable reason, and then of course,  he  collected 
dirt  on imaginary enemies to feed the Hoover Nixon paranoia.  He 
tried,  fairly successfully to stay away from that last  kind  of 
work.  In Tyrone's not so humble opinion, there were a whole  lot 
more  better things for FBI agents to be doing than  worry  about 
George McGovern's toilet habits or if some left wing high  school 
kids  and their radical newspaper were imaginarily linked to  the 
Kremlin.  Ah, but that was politics.  

Three weeks after J. Edgar Hoover died, Tyrone Duncan was promot-
ed  to Section Chief in the New York City office.  A  prestigious 
position.  This was his first promotion in 8 years at the bureau. 
It  was one that leaped over 4 intermediate levels.   The  Hoover 
era  was gone.  

After  hanging up the phone with Bob Bernsen, Tyrone  sat  behind 
his desk going over his morning reports.  No planes hijacked,  no 
new counterfeiting rings and nary a kidnapping.  What dogged  him 
though was the flurry of blackmail and extortion claims.  He  re-
read the digested version put out by Washington headquarters that 
was faxed to him in the early hours, ready for his A.M. perusal.

The apparent facts confounded his years of experience.  Over  100 
people,  many of them highly placed leaders of American  industry 
had called their respective regional FBI offices for help. A call 
into  the FBI is handled in a procedural manner.   The agent  who 
takes the call can identify the source of the call with a readout 
on  his special phone;  a service that the FBI had had for  years 
but was only recently becoming available to the public.  Thus, if 
the  caller had significant information, but refused to  identify 
himself, the agent had a reliable method to track down the  call-
er.   Very  few people who called the FBI realized that  a  phone  
inquiry to an FBI office triggered a sequence of automatic events 
that was complete before the call was over.

The phone call was of course monitored and taped.  And the  phone 
number of the caller was logged in the computer and displayed  to 
the  agent. Then the number was crosschecked against  files  from 
the  phone company.  What was the exact location of  the  caller?  
To whom was the phone registered?  A calling and billing  history 
was made instantly available if required.  

If the call originated from a phone  registered to an individual, 
his  social security number was retrieved and within  seconds  of 
the receipt of the call, the agent knew a plethora of information 
about  the caller.  Criminal activities, bad credit records;  the 
type of data that would permit the agent to gauge the validity of 
the call.  For business phones, a cross check determined any  and 
all dubious dealings that might be valuable in such a  determina-

Thus,  the profile that emerged from the vast number  of  callers 
who intimated blackmail activities created a ponderous situation.  
They all, to a call, originated from the office or home of  major 
corporate  movers  and shakers.  Top  American  businessmen  who, 
while not beyond the reach of the law, were from the FBI's  view, 
upstanding  citizens.   Not pristine, but certainly not  mad  men 
with a record of making outlandish capricious claims.  It was not 
in their interest to bring attention to themselves.

What  puzzled  Tyrone, and Washington, was the sudden  influx  of 
such calls.  Normally the Bureau handles a handful of diversified 
cases of blackmail, and a very small percentage of those pan  out 
into  legitimate  and solvable cases.   Generally,  veiled  vague 
threats do not materialize into prosecutable cases. Tyrone Duncan 
sat back thoughtfully.

What is the common element here? Why today, and not a year ago or 
on April Fools Day?  Do these guys all play golf together?  Is it 
a joke?  Not likely, but a remote possibility.  What enemies have 
they  made?   Undoubtedly they haven't befriended  everyone  with 
whom they have had contact,  but what's the connection?  Tyrone's 
mind  reeled  through a maze of unlikelihoods.  Until,  the  only 
common  element  he could think of  stared at him  right  in  the 
face.  There was a single dimension of commonality between all of 
the  callers.  They had, to a company, to a man, all  dealt  with 
the same organization for years.  The U.S. Government.

The thought alone caused a spasm to his system.  His body  liter-
ally  leapt  from his chair for a split second as he  caught  his 
breath.   The  government.  No way. Is it possible?   I  must  be 
missing  something, surely.  This is crazy.  Or is  it?   Doesn't 
the  IRS  have records on everyone?  Then the  ultimate  paranoid 
thought  hit him square in the cerebellum.  He playfully  pounded 
his forehead for missing the connection. 

Somewhere, deep in the demented mind of some middle management G- 
9  bureaucrat, Duncan thought, an idea germinated that  he  could 
sell  to another overworked, underpaid civil servant;  his  boss.  
The G-9 says, 'I got a way to make sure the tax evaders pay their 
share,  and it won't cost Uncle Sam a dime!'.  His boss says,  'I 
got  a  congressional hearing today, I'm too busy.  Do  some  re-
search and let me see a report.'

So this overzealous tax collector prowls around other  government 
computers  and  determines  that the companies on  his  hit  list 
aren't necessarily functioning on the up and up.  What better way 
to get them to pay their taxes than to let them know that we, the 
big We, Big Brother know, and they'd better shape up.

He  calls a few of them, after all he knows where  the  skeletons 
and  the phone numbers are buried, and says something like,  'Big 
Brother is listening and he doesn't like what he hears.'   And he 
says, 'we'll call you back soon, real soon, so get your ducks  in 
a  row'  and that scares the shit out of the  corporate  muckity-

Tyrone smiled to himself.  What an outlandish theory.  Absurd, he 
admitted,  but  it was the only one he could say fit  the  facts.  
Still,  is it possible?  The government was certainly capable  of 
some  pretty bizarre things.  He recalled the Phoenix program  in 
Viet  Nam where suspected Viet Cong and innocent  civilians  were 
tossed  out  of helicopters at 2000 feet to their deaths  in  the 
distorted hope of making another one talk.  

Wasn't  Daniel Ellsburg a government target?  And  the  Democrats 
were  in  1972 targets of CREEP, the Committee  to  Re-Elect  the 
President.   And  the Aquarius project used  psychics  to  locate 
Soviet  Boomers  and UFO's.  Didn't we give LSD  to  unsuspecting 
soldiers  to  see  if they could function  adequately  under  the 
influence? The horror stories swirled through his mind. And  they 
became more and more unbelievable, yet they were all true.  Maybe 
it  was  possible.   The United States  government  had  actually 
instituted a program of anonymous blackmail in order to  increase 
tax revenues.  Christ, I hope I'm wrong. But, I'm probably not.

The  buzzer on the intercom of his phone jarred Tyrone  from  his 
daydream speculations.

"Yes?"  He answered into space.

"Mr. Duncan, a Franklin Dobbs is here for his 10 o'clock appoint-
ment.  Saunderson is out and so you're elected."  Duncan's secre-
tary  was too damned efficient, he thought.  Why not give  it  to 
someone else.  He pushed his intercom button.

"Gimme a second, I gotta primp."  That was Tyrone's code that  he 
needed  a few minutes to graduate from speculative forensics  and 
return  to  Earth  to deal with real life  problems.   As  usual, 
Gloria obliged him.  In exactly 3 minutes, his door opened.

"Mr. Duncan, this is Franklin Dobbs, Chairman and CEO of National 
Pulp.  Mr. Dobbs, Mr. Duncan, regional director."  She waited for 
the  two men to acknowledge each other before she shut  the  door 
behind her.

"Mr.  Duncan?"  Dobbs held his hand out to the  huge  FBI  agent.  
Duncan accepted and pointed at a vacant chair.   Dobbs sat obedi-

"How can I help you, Mr. Dobbs?"  

"I am being blackmailed, and I need help."  Dobbs looked straight 
into Duncan's coal black eyes.  

The IRS, thought Duncan.  "By whom?" he asked casually.

"I don't know." Dobbs was firm.

"Then how do you know you are being blackmailed?"  Duncan  wanted 
to conceal his interest.  Keep it low profile.  

"Let me tell you what happened."

Good  start, thought Duncan.  If only half of us would  start  in 
such a logical place.

"Two  days ago I received a package by messenger.   It  contained 
the  most sensitive information my company has.  Strategic  posi-
tions,  contingency  plans, competitive information  and  so  on.  
There are only a half dozen people in my company that have access 
to  that kind of information.  And they all own enough  stock  to 
make sure that they aren't the culprits."

"So who is?" interjected Tyrone as he made notes.

"I don't know.  That's the problem."

"What  did  they ask for?"  Duncan looked  directly  into  Dobbs' 
eyes.  To both force an answer and look for signs of deceit.  All 
he saw was honesty and real fear.

"Nothing.  Nothing at all.  All I got was the package and a brief 

"What was the message?" Tyrone asked.

"We'll be in touch.  That's it."

"So where's the threat?  The blackmail.  This hardly seems like a 
case for the FBI."  Tyrone was baiting the hook.  See if the fish 
is real.

"None,  not  yet.  But that's not the point.  What they  sent  me 
were copies, yet they looked more like the originals, of informa-
tion  that would negatively affect my company.  It's the sort  of 
information that we would not want made public. If you know  what 
I mean."

Tyrone thought,  you bet I know.  You're up to and you want us to 
protect you.  Fat chance. "I know what you mean," he agreed.

"I need to stop it. Before it's too late?"

"Too late?" asked Duncan.

"Too late.  Before it gets out."

"What gets out, Mr. Dobbs?"  Duncan stared right into and  beyond 
Dobbs' eyes.

"Secrets.   Just  secrets."  Dobbs paused to  recompose  himself.  
"Isn't there a law . . .?"

"Yes,  there is Mr. Dobbs.  And if what you say is true, you  are 
entitled to protection." Duncan decided to bait Dobbs a bit more.  
"Even  if  the information is illegal in nature."  Wait  for  the 
fish to bite.  

"I grant you I'm no Mother Teresa. I'm a businessman, and I  have 
to make money for my investors.  But in the files that I received 
were  exact copies of my personal files that no one, and  I  mean  
no one has access to.  They were my own notes, ideas in progress.  
Nothing  concrete, just work in progress.  But  someone,  somehow 
has gotten a hold of it all.  And, by my thinking, there's no way 
to have gotten it without first killing me, and I'm here. So  how 
did  they  get it?  That's what I need to know."   Dobbs  paused.  
"And then, I need to stop them." His soliloquy was over.

"Who  else is affected?"  Duncan asked.  The question made  Dobbs 
pause too obviously.  The answer was clear.  Dobbs wasn't alone.

"I  only  speak for myself.  No one else."  Dobbs rose  from  the 
chair.  "It's eminently clear. There's not a damned thing you can 
do. Good day."  Dobbs left the room abruptly leaving Tyrone  with 
plenty of time to think.


                         Chapter 8

     Monday, September 21
     New York

     14 Dead As Hospital Computer Fails
     by Scott Mason

Fourteen patients died as a result of a massive computer  failure 
this weekend at the Golda Meier Medical Center on 5th. Avenue.

According to hospital officials, the Meditrix Life Support  Moni-
tors attached to many of the hospital's patients were accidental-
ly disconnected from the nurses stations and the hospital's  main 
computer.   Doctors  and nurses were unaware of  any  malfunction 
because all systems appeared to operating correctly.  

The LSM's are connected to a hospital wide computer network  that 
connects  all hospital functions in a central computer.   Medical 
records,  insurance filings and treatments as well  as  personnel 
and  operations are coordinated through the  Information  Systems 

Golda Meier Medical Center leads the medical field in the used of 
technologically  advanced  techniques, and has been  applying  an 
artificial intelligence based Expert System to assist in  diagno-
sis and treatment.  Much of the day to day treatment of  patients 
is  done  with  the LSM continually measuring  the  condition  of 
patient,  and  automatically updating his  records.   The  Expert 
System  then  determines  what type of  treatment  to  recommend.  
Unless there is a change in the patient's condition that warrants 
the intervention of a doctor, drugs and medicines are  prescribed 
by the computer.

According to computer experts who were called in to  investigate, 
the Expert System began misprescribing medications and treatments 
early  Saturday morning.  Doctors estimate that over  50%,  about 
300,   of the hospital's patients received  incorrect  treatment.  
Of those 14 died and another 28 are in critical condition.

Until  this weekend, the systems were considered foolproof.   The 
entire  computer  system of Golda Meier Medical Center  has  been 
disconnected until a more intensive investigation is completed.

In response to the news, the Jewish Defense League is calling the 
incident,  "an unconscionable attack against  civilized  behavior 
and the Jewish community in particular."  They have called for  a 
full investigation into the episode. 

No group or individuals have yet taken credit for the crime.  The 
AMA has petitioned the Drug and Food Administration to look  into 
the matter.

Gerald  Steinmetz, chief counsel for the Center, said  in  inter-
views that he had already been contacted by attorney's represent-
ing the families of the some of the victims of this tragedy.   He 
anticipates extended legal entanglements until such time that the 
true  cause can be determined and blame can accurately  assigned.  
The hospital denies any wrong doing on its or its staff's part.

This is Scott Mason, determined to stay healthy.

* * * * *

     December, 4 Years Ago
     Tokyo, Japan

Miles  Foster arrived at Narita Airport as another typhoon  shat-
tered the coast of Japan.  It was the roughest plane ride he  had 
ever taken; and after 2 weeks of pure bliss.  Boy, that  Homosoto 
sure knows how to show a guy a good time.

After  their first meeting at the OSO World Bank Building,  Miles 
had  flown  to Tahiti and spent 18 delightful days at  the  outer 
resort  of  Moorea, courtesy of OSO Industries, with all  of  the 
trimmings. He was provided with a private beach house  containing 
every modern amenity one could want.  Including two  housekeepers 
and a cook.  Only one of the housekeepers knew how to keep house.  
The other knew how to keep Miles satisfied.

Marasee was a Pacific Islander who was well schooled in  advanced 
sexual techniques.  At barely 5 feet tall and 96 pounds, her long 
silken  black  hair was as much as sexual tool as her  hands  and 
mouth.  Her pristine dark complexion and round face caused  Miles 
to  think  that  he was potentially guilty of  crimes  against  a 
minor,  but  after their first night together, he  relented  that 
Marasee knew her business very well.

"Mr.  Homosoto-San," she purred in delicately  accented  English, 
"wants you to concentrate on your work."  She caressed his shoul-
ders  and  upper body as she spoke.  "He knows that a  man  works 
best when he has no worries.  It is my job to make sure that  you 
are relaxed.  Completely relaxed. Do you understand?"

Her  eyes longed for an affirmative answer from Miles.  At  first 
he  was somewhat baffled.  Homosoto had indeed sent him  on  this 
trip, vacation, to work, undisturbed.  But Miles thought that  he 
would  have to fend for himself for his physical pleasures.    He 
was used to finding ways to satisfy his needs.   

"Homosoto-San  says that you must be relaxed to do  very  serious 
business.  Whenever you need relaxation, I am here."  

The  food was as exquisite as was Marasee.  He luxuriated in  the 
eternally  perfect  weather,  the beach, the waves  and  he  even 
ventured under water on a novice scuba dive.  But, as he knew, he 
was  here  to concentrate on his assigned task, so  he  tried  to 
limit his personal activities to sharing pleasure with Marasee.  

In  just a few days, a relaxed Miles felt a peace, a solace  that 
he  had  never  known before.  He found that his mind  was  at  a 
creative  high.  His mind propelled through the problems  of  the 
war  plans,  and  the solutions appeared.  His  brain  seemed  to 
function  independent  of effort.  As he established  goals,  the 
roads  to  meet them appeared magically before him,  in  absolute 
clarity.   He was free to explore each one in its entirety,  from 
beginning to end, undisturbed.

If  a  problem confounded him, he found  that  merely  forgetting 
about  it during an interlude with Marasee provided him with  the 
answer.   The barriers were broken, the so-called 'walls  of  de-
fense'  crumbled before as he created new methods of  penetration 
no one had ever thought of before.

As his plan coalesced into a singular whole, he began to  experi-
ence  a euphoria, a high that was neither drug nor  sexually  in-
duced.  He could envision, all at once, the entire grand  strate-
gy;  how the myriad pieces effortlessly fit together and  evolved 
into  a picture perfect puzzle.  Miles became able to  manipulate 
the  attack scenarios in his mind and make slight changes in  one 
that  would have far reaching implications in another portion  of 
the  puzzle.   He might change only one slight  aspect,  yet  see 
synergistic  ramifications down a side road.  This  new  ability, 
gained  from total freedom to concentrate and his newfound  worry 
free life, gave Miles new sources of pleasure and inspiration.

As  his plans came together, Miles yearned for something  outside 
of his idyllic environment.  His strategies grew into a  concrete 
reality,  one which he knew he could execute, if Homosoto  wasn't 
feeding him a line of shit.  And, for the $100,000 Homosoto  gave 
him to make plans, he was generally inclined to believe that this 
super  rich, slightly eccentric but obviously dangerous  man  was 
deadly serious.

As  the days wore on, Miles realized that, more than anything  in 
his life, even more than getting laid, he wanted to put his  plan 
to  the  test.  If he was right, of which he was sure, in  a  few 
short years he would be recognized as the most brilliant computer 
scientist in the world.  In the whole damn world.

His  inner  peace,  the one which fed his  creativity,  soon  was 
overtaken  by  the unbridled ego which was Miles  Foster's  inner 
self.   The prospect of success fostered new energies  and  Miles 
worked  even harder to complete the first phase of his task.   To 
the  occasional  disappointment of Marasee, Miles  would  embroil 
himself  in  the  computer Homosoto  provided  for  the  purpose.  
Marasee had been with many men, she was an expert, but Miles gave 
her as much pleasure as she to him.  As his work further absorbed 
him, she rued the day her assignment would be over.

Miles left Tahiti for Tokyo without even saying goodbye to  Mara-

The  ritualistic  scanning and security checks before  Miles  got 
onto  the living room elevator at the OSO Building in Tokyo  evi-
denced that Homosoto had not told anyone else how important Miles 
was.   Even  though he recognized the need for secrecy  in  their 
endeavors, Miles was irked by the patronizing, almost rude treat-
ment he received when he was forced to pass the Sumo scrutiny.

The  elevator  again opened into the grand white gallery  on  the 
66th floor.

"Ah  . . .so good to see you again Mr. Foster.   Homosoto-San  is 
anxious to see you."  A short Japanese manservant escorted  Miles 
to the doors of Homosoto's office.  The briefest of taps  invited 
the bellow of "Hai!" from its inner sanctum.

Homosoto  was  quick to rise from his  techo-throne  and  greeted 
Miles as if they were long lost friends.

"Mr.  Foster . . .it is so good to see you.  I assume  everything 
was  satisfactory?   You  found the working  conditions  to  your 
liking?"   Homosoto awkwardly searched for the  vain  compliment.  
He  pointed at the leather seating area in which they  had  first 
discussed their plans.   They sat in the same chairs they had the 
last time they met.

Miles was taken aback by the warm reception, but since he was  so 
important  to  Homosoto, it was only fitting to be  treated  with 

Miles returned the courtesy with the minimum required bow of  the 
head.  It was a profitable game worth playing. "Very much so, Mr. 
Homosoto.  It was most relaxing . . .and I think you will be very 
pleased with the results."   Miles smiled warmly, expecting to be 
heavily  complimented on his promise.  Instead, Homosoto  ignored 
the business issue. 

"I  understand  that Miss Marasee was most pleased . .  .was  she 
not?"  The implication was clear.  For the first time, Miles  saw 
a glimmer of a dirty old man looking for the sordid details.

"I  guess so.  I was too busy working to pay  attention."   Miles 
tried to sluff off the comment.

"That  is what she says.  That you were too busy for her . .  .or 
to  say goodbye and thank her for her attentions.  Not an  auspi-
cious beginning Mr. Foster."  Miles caught the derision in  Homo-
soto's voice and didn't appreciate it one little bit.

"Listen.   My  affairs  are my affairs.  I am  grateful  for  the 
services, but I do like to keep my personal life just that.  Per-
sonal."   Miles was polite, but firm.  Homosoto nodded in  under-

"Of  course, Mr. Foster, I understand completely.  It  is  merely 
for  the sake of the young woman that I mention it. There  is  no 
offense   intended.   It  is  shall  we  say  .  .  .a   cultural 

Miles  didn't  believe  in the cultural difference  to  which  he 
referred,  but he didn't press the point.  He merely nodded  that 
the subject was closed.   A pregnant pause followed before  Homo-
soto interrupted the silence.

"So, Mr. Foster.  I really did not expect to see you for  another 
few  weeks.   I must assume that you have made some  progress  in 
planning  our  future  endeavors."  Homosoto wore  a  smile  that 
belied little of his true thoughts.  

"You  bet  your  ass, I did."  Homosoto winced  at  the  colorful 
language.  It was Miles' way of maintaining some control over the 
situation.   His  dimples  recessed even further  as  he  enjoyed 
watching Homosoto's reaction.   "It turned out to be simpler than 
even I had thought."

"Would you be so kind as to elaborate?"

"Gotcha."  Miles opened his briefcase and brought out a sheath of 
papers  with charts and scribbles all over them.  "Basically  the 
technology is pretty simple.  Here are the fundamental systems to 
use  in  the attack, there are only four  of them.    After  all, 
there are no defenses, so that's not a problem."

"Problem?" Homosoto raised his eyes.

"Ok,  not  problem.  As you can see here, putting  the  technical 
pieces together is not the issue.  The real issue is creating  an 
effective  deployment of the tools we create."  Miles was  matter 
of fact and for the first time Homosoto saw Miles as the  itiner-
ant professional he was capable of being.  The challenge. Just as 
Miles promised earlier, 'give me a challenge, the new, the undone 
and  I  will be the best.'  Miles was shining in his  own  excel-
lence,  and his ego was gone, totally gone.  His  expertise  took 

"I  have  labeled various groups that we will need to  pull  this 

"Pull off? Excuse me . . ."

"Oh, sorry.  Make it work? Have it happen?"

"Ah yes,  So sorry."

"Not at all."  Miles looked at Homosoto carefully.  Was  there  a 
mutual respect actually developing?

"As  I said, we will have to have several groups who  don't  even 
know  about each other's existence.  At NSA we call  it  contain-
ment, or need to know."

Homosoto  cursorily examined the printouts on the table in  front 
of  him,  but preferred to address Miles' comments.   "Could  you 
explain,  please?   I don't see how one can build a  car  if  you 
don't  know what it's going to look like when you're  done.   You 
suggest that each person or group functions without the knowledge 
of the others?  How can this be efficient?"

Miles smiled.  For the first time he felt a bit of compassion for 
Homosoto, as one would feel for the naive child asking why 1 plus 
1  equals  2.   Homosoto was used to  the  Japanese  work  ethic:  
Here's  a  beautiful picture of a car, and all 50,000 of  us  are 
going  to build it; you 5,000 build the engines, you 5,000  build 
the  body and so on.  After a couple of years we'll have built  a 
fabulous automobile that we have all shared as a common vision.  

Homosoto had no idea of how to wage a war, although he apparently 
afford it. Miles realized he could be in control after all, if he 
only sold Homosoto on his abilities, and he was well on the way.  

"You see, Mr. Homosoto, what we are trying to do requires that no 
one,  except a few key people like you and I, understand what  is 
going  on.  As we said  in World War II, loose lips sink  ships."  
Homosoto  immediately bristled at the mention of the war.   Miles 
hardly noticed as he continued.  "The point is, as I have it laid 
out  here,  only  a handful of people need to know  what  we  are 
trying  to achieve.  All of the rest have clearly defined  duties 
that  they are expected to perform as we ask.   Each  effectively 
works  in  a  vacuum.  Efficient, not exactly.   Secure,  yes.  I 
imagine you would like to keep this operation as secret as possi-

Homosoto took immediate notice and bolted his response. "Hai!  Of 
course,  secrecy is important, but how can we be sure of  compli-
ance by our . . .associates?"

"Let me continue." Miles referred back to the papers in front  of 
him.  "The first group is called the readers, the second will  be 
dedicated  to research and development." Homosoto smiled  at  the 
R&D  reference. He could understand that.  "Then there will be  a 
public relations group, a communications group, a software compa-
ny  will  be needed, another group I call the  Mosquitoes  and  a 
little  manufacturing  which  I assume you  can  handle."   Miles 
looked for Homosoto's reaction.

"Manufacturing, very easy.  I don't fully understand the  others, 
but  I am most impressed with your outline.  You mentioned  prob-
lem.  Can you explain?"  Homosoto had become a different  person.  
One  who showed adolescent enthusiasm.  He moved to the  edge  of 
his seat.

"As  with  any  well designed plan," Miles  boasted,  "there  are 
certain  situations that need to be addressed.  In this  case,  I 
see several."  Miles was trying to hook Homosoto onto the prover-
bial deck.

"I asked for problem."  Homosoto insisted.

"To  properly effect this plan we will need two things  that  may 
make it impossible."

Homosoto met the challenge. "What do you need?"

Miles  liked  the sound of it.  You. What do _you_  need.   "This 
operation could cost as much as $50 million.  Is that a problem?"

Homosoto  looked  squarely at Miles.  "No problem.  What  is  the 
second thing you need?"

"We  will  need  an army.  Not an army with guns, but  a  lot  of 
people  who will follow orders.  That may be more important  than 
the money."

Homosoto  took a momentary repose while he thought.  "How big  an 
army will you need?"

"My guess?  Today?  I would say that for all groups we will  need 
a minimum of 500 people.  Maybe as many as a thousand."

Homosoto  suddenly  laughed out loud.  "You call  that  an  army?  
1000  men?  An army?  That is a picnic my friend."  Homosoto  was 
enjoying his own personal joke.  "When you said army, Mr.  Foster 
I  imagined  tens of thousands of people running all  around  the 
United States shooting their guns. A thousand people?  I can give 
you  a  thousand dedicated people with a single phone  call.   Is 
that all you need?"  He continued his laughter.

Miles was taken aback and had difficulty hiding his surprise.  He 
had  already padded his needs by a factor of three.  "With a  few 
minor specialties and exceptions, yes.  That's it.  If we  follow 
this blue print."  He pointed at the papers spread before them.

Homosoto  sat  back and closed his eyes in  apparent  meditation.  
Miles watched and waited for several minutes.  He looked out  the 
expanse  of  windows over Tokyo patiently as Homosoto  seemed  to 
sleep in the chair across from him.  Homosoto spoke quietly  with 
his eyes still closed. 

"Mr. Foster?"

"Yes?"  Miles was ready.

"Do you love you country?"  Homosoto's eyelids were still.

Miles had not expected such a question.

"Mr. Foster?  Did you hear the question?"

"Yes, I did." He paused. "I'm thinking."

"If  you  need to think, sir, then the answer is clear.   As  you 
have told me, you hold no allegiance.  Your country means nothing 
to you."

"I wouldn't quite put it that way . . ." Miles said  defensively.  
He couldn't let this opportunity escape.

"You  hold your personal comfort as your primary concern, do  you 
not?   You want the luxuries that the United States  offers,  but 
you  don't care where or how you get them? Is that not  so?   You 
want your women, your wine, your freedom, but you will take it at 
any  expense.  I do not think I exaggerate.  Tell me Mr.  Foster, 
if I am wrong."  

Miles  realized  he was being asked to state his  personal  alle-
giances in mere seconds.  Not since he was in the lower floors of 
the NSA being interrogated had he been asked to state his convic-
tions.  He knew the right answer there, but here, he wasn't quite 
sure.   The wrong answer could blow it.  But, then again, he  was 
$110,000 ahead of the game for a few weeks work.

"I  need to ask you a question to answer yours."  Miles  did  not 
want to be backed into a corner.  "Mr. Homosoto.  Do you want  me 
to have allegiance to my country or to you?"

Homosoto was pleased. "You debate well, young man.  It  is not so 
much that I care if you love America. I want, I need to know what 
you  do love.  You see, for me, I love Japan and my family.   But 
much  of my family was taken from me in one terrible  instant,  a 
long  time ago.  They are gone, but now I have my wife, my  chil-
dren  and  their children.  I learned, that if there  is  nothing 
else,  you must have family.  That must come  first, Mr.  Foster.  
Under all conditions,  family is first.  All else is last.  So my 
allegiance  shifted, away from country, to my family and  my  be-
liefs.   I don't always agree with my government, and  there  are 
times I will defy their will. I can assure you, that if we embark 
upon  this route, neither I nor you will endear ourselves to  our 
respective governments.  Does that matter to you?"

Miles  snickered.  "Matter?  After what they did to me?   Let  me 
tell you something.  I gave my country most of my adult life.   I 
could have gone to work with my family . . .my associates . . ."

"I am aware of your background Mr. Foster," Homosoto interrupted.

"I'm  sure you are.  But that's neither here nor there.  I  could 
have been on easy street.  Plug a few numbers and make some bucks 
for  the clan."  The colloquialism escaped Homosoto, but  he  got 
the  gist  of  it.  "But I said to  myself,  'hey,  you're  good.  
Fixing  roulette wheels is beneath you.'  I needed, I still  need 
the  diversion, the challenge, so I figured that the  Feds  would 
give  me the edge I needed to make something of  myself."   Miles 
was turning red around his neck.

"The  NSA had the gear, the toys  for me to play with,  and  they 
promised  me the world.  Create, they said, lead America's  tech-
nology  into the 21st. century.  What a pile of shit. Working  at 
the  NSA is like running for President.  You're always trying  to 
sell yourself, your ideas.  They don't give a shit about how good 
your  ideas  are.  All they care is that you're  asshole  buddies 
with the powers that be. To get something done there, you need  a 
half  dozen  committees  with their asses greased  from  here  to 
eternity  for  them  to say maybe.  Do you  know  the  difference 
between ass kissing and having your head up your ass?"

"If  I  understand your crudities, I assume this is  an  American 
joke, then, no Mr. Foster, I do not know the difference."

"Depth perception."  Miles looked for a reaction to his  anatomi-
cal doublette.  There was none other than Homosoto's benign smile 
indicating no comprehension.  "OK, never mind, I'll save it.   At 
any rate, enough was enough.  I gotta do something with my life."  
Miles had said his piece.

"In other words, money is your motivation?"

"Money  doesn't  hurt, sure.  But, I need to do what  I  believe.  
Not that that means hurting my country, but if they don't  listen 
to  what makes sense, maybe it's best that they meet their  worst 
enemy to get them off of their keesters."  Miles was on a roll.

"Keesters?"  Homosoto's naivete was amusing.

"Oops!" Miles exclaimed comically.  "Butts, asses, fannies?"   He 
patted his own which finally communicated the intention.

"Ah  yes."  Homosoto agreed.  "So you feel you could  best  serve 
your country by attacking it?"

Miles  only thought for a few seconds. "I guess you could put  it 
that way.  Sure."

"Mr.  Foster, or should I say General Foster?"  Miles  beamed  at  
the reference.  "We shall march to success."

"Mr. Homosoto," Miles broke the pagential silence.  "I would like 
to ask you the same question.  Why?"

"I was wondering when you were going to ask me that Mr.  Foster,"  
Homosoto  said with his grin intact.  "Because, Mr. Foster, I  am 
returning the favor."


                    Chapter 9

     September, 1982
     South East Iraq

Ahmed  Shah lay in a pool of his own blood along with  pieces  of 
what was once another human being. 

The pain was intolerable.  His mind exploded as the nerve endings 
from  the remains of his arms and legs shot liquid fire into  his 
cerebral  cortex.   His  mind screamed in sheer  agony  while  he 
struggled  to stay conscious.  He wasn't sure why, but he had  to 
stay   awake    .  .  .can't  pass  out  .  .   .sleep,   blessed 
sleep  .  .  .release me from the pain . .  .Allah!  Oh  take  me 
Allah  .  .  .I  shall  be  a  martyr  fighting  for  your   holy 
cause . . .in your name . . . for the love of Islam . . .for  the 
Ayatollah . . .take me into your arms and let me live for   eter-
nity in your shadow . . .

The  battle for Abadan, a disputed piece of territory that was  a 
hub for Persian Gulf oil distribution had lasted days.  Both Iran 
and  Iraq threw waves of human fodder at each other in  what  was 
referred  to  in the world press as " . . .auto-genocide .  .  ."  
Neither  side  reacted  to the monumental  casualties  that  they 
sustained.   The lines of reinforcements were steady.   The  dead 
bodies  were thick on the battlefield; there was no time to  col-
lect  them  and provide a proper burial. New troops had  as  much 
difficulty  wading  through the obstacle courses  made  of  human 
corpses as staying alive.   

Public  estimates  were  that  the  war  had  already  cost  over 
1,000,000 lives  for the adversaries.  Both governments  disputed 
the figures.  The two agreed only 250,000 had died.  The  extrem-
ist  leaders of both countries believed that the  lower  casualty 
numbers  would mollify world opinion.  It accomplished the  exact 
opposite.   Criticism  was rampant, in the world courts  and  the 
press.   Children were going to battle.  Or  more  appropriately, 
children were marching in the front lines, often without  weapons 
or  shoes, and used as cover for the advancing armed  infantrymen 
behind  them.  The children were disposable receptacles for enemy 
bullets.  The supreme sacrifice would permit the dead pre-adoles-
cents the honor of martyrdom and an eternal place with Allah.  

Mothers  wailed and beat their breasts in the streets of  Teheran 
as word arrived of loved ones and friends who died in Allah's war 
against the Iraqi infidels.  Many were professional mourners  who 
were  hired  by others to represent families to  make  them  look 
bigger and more  Holy. Expert wailing and flagellation came at  a 
price.   The  bulk of the civilized world, even  Brezhnev's  evil 
Soviet  empire denounced the use of unarmed children  for  cannon 

The war between Iran and Iraq was to continue, despite pleas from 
humanity, for another 6 years.

Ahmed  Shah was a 19  year old engineering student at the  exclu-
sive Teheran University when the War started.  He was reared as a 
dedicated  Muslim  by wealthy parents.  Somehow his  parents  had 
escaped the Ayatollah's scourge after the fall of the Shah. Ahmed 
was never told the real reason, but a distribution of holy  rials 
certainly  helped.  They were permitted to keep  their  beautiful 
home  in the suburbs of Teheran and Ahmed's father kept his  pro-
fessorship at Teheran University.  Ahmed was taught by his family 
that the Shah's downfall was the only acceptable response to  the 
loss of faith under his regime.  

"The  Shah  is a puppet  of the Americans.   Ptooh!"  His  father 
would  spit.  "The Yanqis come over  here, tell us to change  our 
culture and our beliefs so we can make them money from our  oil!"  
For a professor he was outspoken, but viewed as mainstream by the 
extremist  camps.  Ahmed learned well.  For the most part of  his 
life  all Ahmed knew was the Ayatollah Khomeini as his  country's 
spiritual  leader. News and opinion from the West  was  virtually 
nonexistent  so Ahmed developed as a devout Muslim, dedicated  to 
his country and his religion.

When  the War began he thought about enlisting  immediately,  but 
the University counselors convinced him otherwise.

"Ahmed Shah, you are bright and can offer Iran great gifts  after 
you  complete  your studies.  Why not wait, the War will  not  be 
forever,  and then you can serve Allah with your mind,  not  your 

Ahmed  took  the advice for his first year at  the  a  university 
student,  but  guilt overwhelmed him when he learned  about   how 
many  other young people were dying in the cause.  From his  par-
ents  he  would hear of childhood friends who  had  been  killed.  
Teheran  University students and graduates were honored daily  in 
the  Mosque  on campus.  The names were  copied  and  distributed 
throughout the schools.  True martyrs.  Ahmed's guilt  compounded 
as  the months passed and so many died.  He had been too young to 
participate in the occupation of the American Embassy. How  jeal-
ous he was. 

Why  should  I wait to serve Allah? He mused.  Today I can be  of 
service,  where he needs me, but if I stay and study, I will  not 
be able to bid his Will for years.  And what if Iraq wins?  There 
would be no more studies anyway.  Ahmed anguished for weeks  over 
how he could best serve  Iran, his Ayatollah and Allah.  

After  his freshman finals, on which he excelled, he  joined  the 
Irani  Army. Within 60 days he was sent to the front lines  as  a 
communications officer.

They had been in the field 3 days, and  Ahmed had only gotten  to 
know a few of the 60 men in his company when the mortars came  in 
right  on top of them.  The open desert offers little  camouflage 
so  the  soldiers built fox holes behind the larger  sand  dunes. 
They innaccurately thought they were hidden from view. More  than 
half  the company died instantly.  Pieces of bodies  were  strewn 
across the sandy tented bivouac.

Another  20 were dying within 50 yards of where Ahmed writhed  in 
agony. Ahmed regained consciousness. Was it 5 minutes or 5  hours 
later.   He had no way of knowing.  The left lower arm  where  he 
wore his wristwatch was gone.  A pulpy stump.  As were his  legs.  
Mutilated  . . .the highest form  of insult and degradation.  Oh, 
Allah, I have served you, let me die and come to you now.  Let me 
suffer no more.

Suddenly his attention was grabbed by the sound of a jeep  cough-
ing its way to a stop.  He heard voices.  

"This  one's  still alive."  Then a shot rang  out.   "So's  this 
one."  Another shot.  A few muted voices from the dying protested 
and  asked for mercy. "Ha! I give Mercy to a dog before you."   A 
scream  and 2 shots.  They were Iraqi!  Killing off the  wounded.  
Pigs!  Infidels!  Mother Whores!

"You,  foreskin  of a camel! Your mother lies with  dogs!"  Ahmed 
screamed  at the soldiers. It brought two results.  One, it  kept 
him  a little more alert and less aware of his pain, and two,  it  
attracted the attention of the two soldiers from the jeep.

"Ola!  Who insults the memory of my mother  who sits with  Allah? 
Who?"  One soldier spun around and tried to imagine which one  of  
the pieces of bodies that surrounded him still had enough life to 
speak.   He  scanned the sand nearby. Open eyes were not  a  sure 
sign of life nor was the presence of four limbs.  There needed to 
be a head.

"Over  here camel dung.  Hussein fucks animals who give birth  to 
the  likes   of  you."  Ahmed's viciousness was the  only  facial 
feature  that  gave away he was alive.  The  soldiers  saw  their 

"Prepare to meet with your Allah, now," as  one soldier took  aim 
at Ahmed's head.

"Go ahead!  Shoot, pig shit.  I welcome death so I won't have  to 
see your filth . . ."  Ahmed defied the soldier and the automatic 
rifle aimed at him.

The  other soldier intervened. "No, don't kill him.  That's   too 
easy and we would be honoring his last earthly request. No,  this 
one doesn't beg for mercy.  At least he's a man. Let's just  make 
him  suffer."  The second soldier raised his gun and  pointed  at 
the  junction  of Ahmed's two stumps for legs.  Two  point  blank 
range  shots  shattered  the three components  of  his  genitals.  
Ahmed  let out a scream so primal, so anguished,  so  penetrating 
that  the  soldiers  bolted to escape the sounds  of  death.  The 
scream  continued,  briefly interrupted by a pair of  shots  that 
caught the two soldiers square in the middle of the back as  they 
ran.  They dropped onto the hot desert  sand with matched thuds. 

Ahmed  didn't  hear  the shots over the sounds  coming  from  his 
larynx. He didn't hear anything after that for a very long time.

Unfortunately for Ahmed Shah, he survived.  

He woke up, or more accurately, regained semi-consciousness  more 
than  a  week after he was picked up at the site  of  the  mortar 
attack.   He was wired  up to tubes and machines in an  obviously 
well  equipped  hospital.  He thought, I must be back  in  Teher-
an  .  .  .then  fog  .  . .a  blur .  .  .a  needle  .  .  .feel 
nothing . . .stay awake . . .move lips . . .talk . . .

"Doctor, the patient was awake." The nurse spoke to the physician 
who was writing on Ahmed's medical chart.  

"He'll  wish he wasn't.  Let him go.  Let him sleep. Hell  hasn't 
begun for him yet."  The Doctor moved onto the chart on the  next 
bed in ward.  

Over the next few days while grasping at consciousness, and  with 
the  caring  attention of the nurses, Ahmed pieced  together  the 
strands of a story . . .what happened to him.

The Iraqis were killing the wounded, desperate in their  attempts 
to  survive the onslaught of Irani children.  All must die,  take 
no  prisoners were their marching orders. In the Iraqi  Army  you 
either did exactly as you were told,  with absolute obedience, or 
you  were shot on sight as a traitor.  Some choice.  We  lost  at 
Abadan,  the Iraqi's thought, but there will be more  battles  to 

Ahmed  was the only survivor from his company, and there  was  no 
earthly reason that could explain why he lived. He was more  dead 
than  alive.   His blood coagulated well in the hot  desert  sun, 
otherwise the blood loss alone would have killed him.  The medics 
found  many  of his missing pieces and packed them up  for  their 
trip  to the hospital, but the doctors were unable  to  re-attach 
anything of significance.

He was a eunuch.  With no legs and only one good arm.  

Weeks  of  wishing himself dead proved to be the source  of  rest 
that contributed to his recovery.  Was he man? Was he woman?  Was  
he, God forbid, neither?  Why had he not just died along with the 
others,  why  was  he spared! Spared, ha!  If I  had  truly  been 
spared  I would be living with Allah!  This is not being  spared. 
This  is living hell and someone will pay. He cried to his   par-
ents about his torment and his mother wailed and beat her breast.  
His  father  listened  to the anger, the  hate  and  the  growing 
strength  within his son's being.  Hate could be the answer  that 
would  make his son, his only son, whole again.  Whole in  spirit 
at least.

The debates within Ahmed's mind developed into long philosophical 
arguments  about right, wrong, revenge, avenge,   purpose,  cause 
and  reason. He would take both sides of an issue, and see if  he 
could beat himself with his alter rationales. The frustration  at 
knowing one's opponents' thoughts when developing your own  coun-
ter  argument  made him angry, too.  He finally  started  arguing 
with  other patients.  He would take any position, on  any  issue 
and  debate  all night. Argumentative, contrary,  but  recovering 
completely described the patient. 

Over the months his strength returned and he appeared to come  to 
grips with his infirmaries.  As much as anyone can come to  terms 
with  such  physical mutilations.  He covered his  facial  wounds 
with  a full black beard that melded into his full short  cropped 
kinky hair.  

Ahmed  graduated  from Teheran University in 1984  with  a  cruel 
hatred  for anything Anti-Islam.  One major target of his  hatred 
was President Reagan, the cowboy president, the Teflon president, 
the  evil  Anti-Muslim  Zionist loving  American  president.   Of 
course there was plenty of room to hate others, but Reagan was so 
easy  to hate, so easy to blame, and rarely was there  any  disa-

He  thought  of grand strategies to strike back at  the  America.  
After  all, didn't they support the Iraqis?  And the  Iraqis  did 
this  to  him.  It wasn't  the soldiers' fault.  They  were  just 
following orders: Do or Die.  Any rational person would have done 
the  same thing.  He understood that.  So he blamed  Reagan,  not 
Hussein. And he blamed the American people  for their  stupidity, 
their isolationism, their indifference to the rest of the  world.  
They  are  all so smug and caught up in their  own  little  petty 
lives, and there are causes, people are dying for causes, and the 
American  fools  don't even care.   And Reagan  personified  them 

How does a lousy movie actor from the 1950's get to be  President 
of  the United States?  Ahmed laughed to himself at  the  obvious 
answer. He was the most qualified for  the job.  

His commentaries and orations about the Imperialists, the  United 
States,  England,  even the Soviet Union and  their  overwhelming 
influence in the Arab world made Ahmed Shah a popular man on  the 
campus  of  Teheran University. His  highly  visible  infirmities 
assisted with his credibility. 

In his sixth semester of study, Ahmed's counselor called him  for 
a conference.  Beside his counselor was another man, Beni  Farja-
ni,  from the government. Beni was garbed in Arab robes and  tur-
bans that always look filthy.  Still, he was the officious  type,  
formal and somber.  His long white hair snuck through the turban, 
and his face shoed ample wrinkles of wisdom.

He and  the Counselor sat alone, on one side  of a large   wooden 
conference  table  that  could easily  have  seated  20.    Ahmed 
stopped  his motorized wheel chair at the table,  Farjani  spoke, 
and curiously, the Counselor rose from his chair and slipped  out 
of the room.  Ahmed and the Government official were alone. 

"My  name is Beni Farjani, Associate Director to the  Undersecre-
tary of  Communications and Propaganda.  I trust you are well."

Ahmed  long  since gave up commenting on his well being  or  lack 
thereof.  "It is good to meet you,  sir."  He waited for more.

"Ahmed  Shah,  you are important to the state and the  people  of 
Iran."  Farjani said it as though his comment was already  common 
knowledge.   "What I am here to ask you, Ahmed Shah, is, are  you 
willing again to serve Allah?"

"Yes, of course . . .?"  He bowed his head in reverence.  

"Good,  because  we think that you might be able to assist  on  a 
small  project we have been contemplating.  My son, you have  the 
gift  of  oration, speaking, moving crowds to  purpose.   I  only  
wish I had it!"  Beni Farjani smiled solemnly at Ahmed.

"I  thank Allah for His gift.  I am only  the humble conduit  for  
his Will."

"I  understand, but you have now, and will have much to proud of.  
I believe you graduate in 6 months.  Is that correct?"

"Yes, and then I go to Graduate School . . ."

"I am afraid that won't be possible Ahmed Shah." Farjani shook  a 
kindly  wrinkled finger at him.  "As soon as you  graduate,  your 
Government,  at Allah's bidding, would like you to move   to  the 
United States."

"America?"  Ahmed gaped in surprise. 

"We fear that America may invade Iran, that we may go to war with 
the  United  States."    The words stunned Ahmed.   Could  he  be 
serious?   Sure,  relations  were in pretty bad  shape,  but  was 
Farjani  saying  that Iran was truly preparing for  War?   Jihad?  
Holy War against the United States?

"We  need to protect ourselves," Farjani spoke calmly,  with  au-
thority. "America has weapons of mass destruction that can  reach 
our  land in minutes, while we have nothing to offer in  retalia-
tion.   Nothing, and that is a very frightening reality that  the 
people  of Iran must live with every day. A truly helpless  feel-
ing."   Ahmed was listening carefully, and so far what  he  heard 
was making a great deal of sense.

"Both  the Soviets and the Americans can destroy each  other  and 
the  rest  of the world with a button.  Their armies  will  never 
meet.   A  few missiles and it's all  over.  A  30  minute  grand 
finale to civilization.  They don't have to, nor  would we expect 
either  the Soviets or the Americans to ask the rest of the world  
if they mind. They just go ahead and pull the trigger and  every-
one else be damned.

"And  yes, there have been better times when our nation  has  had 
more friends, when all Arabs thought and acted as one; especially 
against the Americans.  They have the most to gain and  the  most 
to lose from invading and crossing our borders.  They would  love 
nothing  more than to steal our land, our oil and even take  over 
OPEC.  All in the name of world stability.  They'll throw  around 
National Security smoke screens and do what they want."   Farjani 
was speaking quite excitedly.  

Ahmed  was fascinated.  A man from the Government who was  nearly 
as  vitriolic as he was about America.  The only  difference  was 
Ahmed wanted to attack, and  Farjani wanted to defend.  He didn't  
think it opportune to interrupt.  Farjani continued.

"The  Russians  want us as a warm water port.  They  have  enough 
oil,  gas  and resources, but they crave a port that  isn't  con-
trolled by the Americans such as in the Black Sea and through the 
Hellespont.  So they too, are a potential enemy.  You  see  don't 
you,  Ahmed, that Allah has so graced our country  everyone  else 
wants to take it away from us?"  Ahmed nodded automatically.

"So  we need to create a defense against  outside aggressors.  We 
do not  have weapons that can reach American shores, that is  so. 
But we have something that the Americans will never have, because 
they will never understand.  Do you know what that is?"

Before Ahmed could answer, Farjani continued.

"Honor  and Faith to protect our heritage, our  systems, our  way 
of life."   Ahmed agreed.

"We want you, Ahmed Shah to build a network  of supporters,  just 
like  you,  all across the United States that will  come  to  our 
service  when  we  need them.  To the death.   Your  skills  will 
capture the attention of those with kindred sentiments.  You will 
draw them out, from the schools, from the universities.

"Ahmed  Shah, there are over 100,000 Irani and Arab  students  in 
the  United States today.  Many, many of them are sympathetic  to 
our  causes.  Many of  them are attending American  Universities, 
side  by side  with their future enemies, learning  the  American 
way  so we may better fight it.  You will become one of them  and 
you  will find others that can be trusted, counted  on,  depended 
upon when we call.

"Your obvious dedication and personal tragedies," Farjani pointed  
at  the obvious affliction, "will be the glue to  provide  others 
with  strength.  You will have no problems in  recruiting.   That 
will be the easy part."

"If recruiting is so easy, then what will be the hard task?"

"Holding  them back. You will find it most difficult to  restrain 
your  private  army from striking.  Right  under  the  American's 
noses,  you  will have to keep them from bursting  at  the  seams 
until the day comes when they are needed.  If could be weeks,  it 
could  be years.  We don't know.  Maybe the day will never  come.  
But  it   is your job to build this Army.  Grow it, feed  it  and 
keep  our national spirit alive until such time that  it  becomes 
necessary  to defend our nation, Allah and loyal  Muslims  every-
where.   This  time, though, we will fight America  from  within, 
inside her borders.

"There  hasn't  been a foreign war on American soil  since  1812.  
Americans  don't know what is like to have their country  ruined, 
ravaged,  blown up before their eyes.  We need a defense  against 
America,  and  when it is deeded by Allah, our army  will  strike 
back  at  America where is hurts most.  In the streets  of  their 
cities.   In  their homes, parks and schools. But first  we  must 
have that army. In place, and willing to act.

"You  will find out all the details in good time, I  assure  you.  
You  will  require  some training, though, and  that  will  begin 
shortly.  Everything you need to serve will be given you. Go with 

Ahmed  trained  for several months with  the  infamous  terrorist 
group Abu Nidal.  He learned the basics that every modern terror-
ist needs to know to insure success against the Infidels. 

Shah moved to New York City on December 25, 1986.  Christmas  was 
a non issue.  He registered at Columbia as a graduate  researcher 
in the engineering department to legitimize his student visa  and 
would commence classes on January 2. 

Recruitment was easy, just as  Farjani had said. 

Ahmed built a team of 12 recruiters whom he could trust with  his 
life.   Seven  professional terrorists, unknown to  the  American 
authorities,  thoroughly sanitized,  came with him to the  United 
States  under  assumed   visas and the other 5,  already  in  the 
country were personally recommended by Farjani. 

His  disciples were located in strategic locations; New York  was 
host  to Ahmed and another Arab fanatic trained in  Libya.   They 
both  used Columbia University as their cover.   Washington  D.C. 
was honored with a Syrian terrorist who had organized mass  anti-
US demonstrations in Damascus as the request of President  Assad.  
Los  Angeles and San Francisco were homes to 4  more  engineering 
type  desert terrorist school graduates who were allowed to  move 
freely and interact with the shakers and movers in high technolo-
gy disciplines.  Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, and Dallas were 
also used as recruitment centers for developing Ahmed's  personal 

If the media had been aware of the group's activities they  would 
have made note that Ahmed's inner circle were very highly skilled 
not only in the use of C4 and Cemex, the Czechoslovakian  plastic 
explosive  that was responsible for countless deaths of  innocent 
bystanders,  but  that were all very well educated.   Each  spoke 
English like a native, fluent in colloquialisms and idioms unique 
to America.  

Much  of his army had skills which enabled them to acquire  posi-
tions  of importance within engineering departments of  companies 
such  as  IBM, Apple, Hughes Defense Systems,   Chase  Manhattan, 
Prudential  Life, Martin Marietta, Westinghouse, Compuserve,  MCI 
and  hundreds of similar organizations.  Every one of  their  em-
ployers would have attested to their skills, honor and loyalty to 
their  adapted country.  Ahmed's group was well versed in  decep-
tion.  After all, they answered to a greater cause. 

What even a seasoned reporter might not find out though, was that 
all  12  of Ahmed's elite recruiters had to pass a  supreme  test 
often  required  by international political  terrorist  organiza-
tions.   To guarantee their loyalty to the cause,  whatever  that 
cause might be, and to weed out potential external  infiltrators, 
each  member  had  to have killed at least one  member  of  their 
immediate family.

It  requires extraordinary hardening, to say the least,  to  kill 
your mother or father.  Or to blow up the school bus that carried 
your pre-teen sister to school.  Or engage your brother in a mock 
fight  and then sever his head from his body.  The savagery  that 
permitted one access into this elite circle is beyond the compre-
hension  of  most Western minds. Yet such acts were  expected  to 
demonstrate one's loyalty to a supreme purpose or belief. 

The events surrounding Solman Rushdie and the Satanic Verses were 
a  case in point.  Each of those who volunteered  to  assassinate 
him at the bequest of the Ayatollah Khomeini had in fact  already 
killed  not  only innocent women and children in order  to  reach 
their  assigned  terrorist targets, but had brought the  head  of 
their family victim to the table of their superiors.  A deed  for 
which they were honored and revered.

These  were the men, all of them men, who pledged  allegiance  to 
Ahmed  Shah and the unknown, undefined assignments they would  in 
the future be asked to complete.  To the death if necessary,  and 
without fear.   These men were reminiscent of the infamous  moles 
that  Stalin's  Soviet Empire had placed  throughout  the  United 
Kingdom  and  the United States in the 1930's to be  awakened  at 
some  future  date to carry out strikes against  the  enemy  from 
within.  The only difference with Ahmed's men was that they  were 
trained  to die, not to survive.  And unlike their Mole  counter-
parts, they were awake the entire time, focused on their mission.  
Clearly  it was only a matter of time before they would be  asked 
to  follow orders with blind obedience.  Their only reward was  a 
place in the Muslim heaven.

Meanwhile,  while  awaiting  sainthood, their task  was  to  find 
others with similar inclinations, or those who could be corralled 
into their system of beliefs.  It was unrealistic, they knew,  to 
expect to find an entire army of sympathizers who would fight  to 
the death or perform suicide missions in the name of Allah.   But 
they  found it was very easy to find many men, never  women,  who 
would  follow  orders  and perform the tasks  of  an  underground 

The mass influx of Arabs into the United States was another great 
mistake  of the Reagan '80's as it opened its doors to  a  future 
enemy.  The immigration policy of the U.S. was the most  open  in 
the  entire world.  So, the Government allowed the entry of  some 
of  the world's most dangerous people into the country, and  then 
gave  them  total freedom, with its associated  anonymity.   Such 
things  could never happen at home, Ahmed thought.  We  love  our 
land  too much to permit our enemies on our soil.  It is so  much 
easier to dispose of them before they can cause damage.

So  the  thinking went, and Ahmed and his cadre  platooned  them-
selves often, in any of the thousands of American resort complex-
es, unnoticed, to gauge the progress of their assignments.

By  early  1988, Ahmed's army consisted of  nearly  1000  fanatic 
Muslims  who would swallow a live grenade if the deed  guaranteed 
their place in martyrdom. And another several thousand who  could 
be led into battle under the right conditions.  And more came and 
joined  as  the  ridiculous immigration  policies  continued  un-

They  were students, businessmen, flight attendants who were  now 
in the United States for prolonged periods of time.  All walks of 
life  were included in his Army. Some were technicians  or  book-
keepers, delivery men, engineers, doctors; most disciplines  were 
represented.   Since Ahmed had no idea when, if ever, he and  his 
army  would  be needed, nor for what purpose, recruiting  a  wide 
range  of talents would provide Allah with the best odds if  they 
were ever needed. They were all men.  Not one woman in this man's 
army, Ahmed thought.

The  biggest  problem,  just as Farjani had  predicted,  was  the 
growing sense of unrest among the troops.  The inner 12 had  been 
professionally trained to be patient.  Wait for the right  moment 
to  strike.  Wait for orders.  Do nothing.  Do not disclose  your 
alliances or your allegiances to anyone.  No one can be  trusted.  
Except your recruiter.  Lead a normal life.  Act like any  Ameri-
can  immigrant  who flourishes in his new home.  Do not,  at  all 
costs, give yourself away.  That much was crucial.

Periodically,  the  inner 12 would  assign  mundane,  meaningless 
tasks to various of their respective recruits.  Americans  called 
it  busy  work.  But, it kept interest alive, the belief  in  the 
eventual  victory  of the Arab Nation against the  American  mon-
grels.   It  kept  the life in their  organization  flowing,  not 
dulled  by the prolonged waiting for the ultimate call: Jihad,  a 
holy  war against America, waged from inside its own  unprotected 
borders.  It was their raison d'<130>tre.  The underlying gestalt 
for their very existence.  

* * * * * 

     February 6, 1988
     New York City

"It is time."   Ahmed could not believe the words - music to  his 
ears.  It was not a long distance call; too clear.  It had to  be 
local.  The caller spoke in Ahmed's native tongue and conveyed an 
excitement  that immediately consumed him. He sat in  his  wheel-
chair  at a computer terminal in an engineering lab  at  Columbia 
University's Broadway campus.  While he had hoped this day  would 
come,  he  also knew that politicians, even  Iran's,  promised  a 
glory  that  often was buried in diplomacy  rather  than  action. 
Praise be Allah.

"We  are ready.  Always for Allah."  Ahmed was nearly  breathless 
with  anticipation.  His mind wandered.  Were we at war?  No,  of 
course  not.   The spineless United States would never  have  the 
strength nor will to wage war against a United Arab State.

"That is good.  For Allah."  The caller agreed with Ahmed.   "But 
it is not the war you expect."

Ahmed was taken aback.  He had not known what to expect, exactly, 
but,  over the months he had conjured many scenarios of  how  his 
troops  would be used to perform Allah's Will.  His mind  reeled.  
"For whom do you speak?"  Ahmed asked pointedly. There was a hint 
of distrust in the question.

"Farjani  said you would ask.  He said, 'there hasn't been a  war 
on U.S. soil since 1812'.  He said you would understand."

Ahmed understood. Only someone that was privy to their  conversa-
tions would have known that.  His heart quickened with  anticipa-
tion.  "Yes, I understand.  With whom do I speak?"   Ahmed  asked 

"My  name  is of no consequence.  I am only a humble  servant  of 
Allah  with a message.  You are to follow  instructions  exactly, 
without reservation."

"Of  course.  I, too, am but a servant of God.  What are  my  in-
structions?"   Ahmed  felt like standing at parade  attention  if 
only he had legs.

"This  will not be our war.  It will be another's.  But our  pur-
poses are the same.  You will act as his army, and are to  follow 
his  every request.  As if Allah came to you and so ordered  him-

Ahmed beamed.  He glowed with perspiration.  Finally.  The chance 
to act.  He would and his army would perform admirably.  He  lis-
tened  carefully  as the anonymous caller gave him  his  instruc-
tions.  He  noted  the details as disbelief sank  in.    This  is 
Jihad?   Yes, this is Jihad.  You are expected to comply.   I  am 
clear,  but  are you sure?  Yes, I am sure.  Then I  will  follow 
orders. As ordered.  Will we speak again?  No, this is your task, 
your  destiny.  The Arab Nation calls upon you now.  Do  you  an-
swer?  Yes, I answer. I will perform. We, our army will perform.  


"Yes, God willing."

Ahmed  Shah put his teaching schedule on hold by asking  for  and 
receiving  an  immediate sabbatical.  He then booked and  took  a 
flight to Tokyo three days later.

"I need an army, and I am told you can provide such services  for 
me.   Is that so?"  Homosoto asked Ahmed Shah though  he  already 
knew the answer.

Ahmed Shah and Taki Homosoto were meeting in a private palace  in 
the  outskirts  of  Tokyo.  Ahmed wasn't quite sure  to  whom  it 
belonged,  but  he  was following orders and in no  way  felt  in 
danger.  The grounds were impeccable, a Japanese Versailles.  The 
weather  was cool, but not uncomfortably so.  Both men sat  under 
an  arbor  that  would be graced with cherry blossoms  in  a  few 
months.  Each carried an air of confidence, an assurity not meant 
as  arrogance, but rather as an assertion of control, power  over 
their respective empires.

"How  large  is you army?"  Homosoto knew the answer,  but  asked 

"One  thousand  to the death.  Three thousand  to  extreme  pain, 
another ten thousand functionaries."  Ahmed Shah said with pride. 

Homosoto laughed a convivial Japanese laugh, and lightly  slapped 
his knees.  "Ah, comrade.  To the death, so familiar, that is why 
you  are here, but, I hope that will not be necessary.  You  see, 
this war will be one without bullets."  Homosoto said waiting for 
the volatile Arab's reaction. 

This was exactly what Ahmed feared.  A spineless war.  How  could 
one afford to wage a war against America and not expect,  indeed, 
plan  for, the death of some troops.  There was no Arab  transla-
tion for pussy-wimp, but the thought was there.

"How may I be of service?"   

"The  task is simple.  I have need of information, much  informa-
tion that will be of extreme embarrassment to the United  States.  
Their Government operates illegally, their companies control  the 
country with virtual impunity from law.  It is time that they are 
tried for their crimes."  Homosoto tailored his words so that his 
guest would acquire an enthusiasm similar to his.

"Yes,"  Ahmed  agreed.  "They need to learn a lesson.   But,  Mr. 
Homosoto,  how  can that be done without weapons?  I  assume  you 
want  to attack their planes, their businesses,  Washington  per-
haps?"   Ahmed was hopeful for the opportunity to give his  loyal 
troops the action they desired. 

"In a manner of speaking, yes, my friend.  We shall strike  where 
they  least  expect it, and in a way in which  they  are  totally 
unprepared."   Homosoto softened his speech to further his  pitch 
to  gain Ahmed Shah's trust and unity.  "I am well aware  of  the 
types  of training that you  and your people have  gone  through.  
However,  you must be aware, that Japan is the  most  technically 
advanced country in the world, and that we can accomplish  things 
is  a less violent manner, yet still achieve the same goals.   We 
shall  be much more subtle.  I assume you have been  informed  of 
that by your superiors."  Homosoto waited for Ahmed's response.

"As  you say, we have been trained to expect, even welcome  death 
in the struggle against our adversaries.  Yet I recognize that  a 
joint  effort  may be more fruitful for all of us.  It may  be  a 
disappointment to some of my people that they will not be permit-
ted  the  honor  of martyrdom, but they are  expected  to  follow 
orders.   If they do not comply, they will die without the  honor 
they crave.  They will perform as ordered."

"Excellent.   That  is as I hoped."  Homosoto beamed at  the  de-
veloping understanding.  "Let me explain.  My people will provide 
you with the weapons of this new war, a type of war never  before 
fought.   These  are technological weapons that do not  kill  the 
enemy. Better, they expose him for what he is.  It will be up  to 
your  army  to  use these weapons and allow us  to  launch  later 
attacks against the Americans.  

"There  are  to be no independent actions  or  activities.   None 
without  my  and your direction and approval.  Can you  abide  by 
these conditions?"

"At  the request of my Government and Allah, I will be  happy  to 
serve  you  in  your war.  Both our goals will  be  met."   Ahmed 
glowed at the opportunity to finally let his people do  something 
after so much waiting.  

Homosoto  arose and stood over Ahmed.  "We will make  a  valuable 
alliance.   To  the destruction of America."  He held  his  water 
glass to Ahmed.

Ahmed responded by raising his glass.  "To Allah, and the cause!"

They  both drank deeply from the Perrier.  Homosoto had one  more 

"If one or more off your men get caught, will they talk?"

"They will not talk."

"How can you be so sure?"  Homosoto inquired naively.

"Because, if they are caught, they will be dead."

"An excellent solution."


                         Chapter 10

     Tuesday, October 13
     New York 

     by Scott Mason

For the last few weeks the general press and computer media  have 
been  foretelling  the destruction to be caused  by  this  year's 
version  of the dreaded Columbus Day Virus.  AKA Data Crime,  the 
virus began exploding yesterday and will continue today,  depend-
ing upon which version strikes your computer. 

With  all of the folderall by the TV networks and news  channels, 
and the reports of anticipated doom for many computers, I expect-
ed  to wake up this morning and learn that this paper didn't  get 
printed,  my train from the suburbs was rerouted to Calcutta  and 
Manhattan's  traffic  lights were out of order.   No  such  luck.  
America is up and running.

That  doesn't mean that no one got struck by computer  influenza, 
though.   There are hundreds of reports of widespread  damage  to 
microcomputers everywhere.

The Bala Cynwyd, PA medical center lost several weeks of records.  
Credit  Card International was struck in Madrid, Spain and  can't 
figure out which customers bought what from whom.  A few  schools 
in England don't know who their students are, and a University in 
upstate New York won't be holding computer classes for a while. 

William  Murray of the Institute for Public Computing  Confidence 
in  Washington, D.C., downplayed the incident.  "We have had  re-
ports  of several small outbreaks, but we have not heard  of  any 
particularly  devastating  incidents.  It seems that only  a  few 
isolated sites were affected."

On the other hand, Bethan Fenster from Virus Stoppers in  McLean, 
Virginia,  maintains  that the virus damage was much  more  wide-
spread.  She  says the outbreaks are worse than reported  in  the 
press.  "I personally know of several Fortune 100 companies  that 
will  be  spending the next several weeks putting  their  systems 
back in order.  Some financial institutions have been nearly shut 
down  because  their computers are inoperable.   It's  the  worst 
(computer) virus outbreak I've ever seen."  

Very  few companies would confirm that they had been affected  by 
the  Columbus Day Virus.  "They won't talk to you,"  Ms.  Fenster 
said.  "If a major company announced publicly that their  comput-
ers were down due to criminal activity, there would be a  certain 
loss of confidence in that company.  I understand that they  feel 
a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to minimize  the 
effects of this."

Despite  Ms.  Fenster's position, Forsythe  Insurance,  NorthEast 
Airlines, Brocker Financial and the Internal Revenue Service  all 
admitted that they have had a 'major' disruption in their comput-
er  services  and expect to take two to six weeks to  repair  the 
damage.  Nonetheless, several of those companies hit, feel lucky.

"We  only  lost about a thousand machines,"  said  Ashley  Marie, 
senior  network  manager at Edison Power.  "Considering  that  we 
have  no means of protecting our computers at all, we could  have 
been  totally  put out of business."  She said that  despite  the 
cost  to repair the systems, her management feels no need to  add 
security  or  protective measures in the future.   "They  believe 
that  this  was a quirk, a one time deal.   They're  wrong,"  Ms. 
Marie said.

Many  small companies that said they have almost been put out  of 
business  because  they were struck by the  Columbus  Day  Virus.  
"Simply not true," commented Christopher Angel of the  Anti-Virus 
Brigade,  a vigilante group who professes to have access to  pri-
vate information on computer viruses.  "Of all of the reports  of 
downed  computers  yesterday,  less than 10% are  from  the  Data 
Crime.   Anyone who had any sort of trouble is blaming it on  the 
virus  rather than more common causes like  hardware  malfunction 
and  operator error.  It is a lot more glamorous to  admit  being 
hit  by  the virus that has created near hysteria over  the  last 

Whatever the truth, it seems to be well hidden under the guise of 
politics.   There is mounting evidence and concern that  computer 
viruses and computer hackers are endangering the contents of  our 
computers.  While the effects of the Columbus Day Virus may  have 
been  mitigated by advance warnings and  precautionary  measures, 
and  the actual number of infection sites very limited,  computer 
professionals are paying increasing attention to the problem.

This is Scott Mason, safe, sound and uninfected.

* * * * * 

     Wednesday, October 14
     J. Edgar Hoover Building, FBI Headquarters
     Washington, D.C.

The sweltering October heat wave of the late Indian summer  pene-
trated the World War II government buildings that surrounded  the 
Mall and the tourist attractions.  Window air conditioners didn't 
provide the kind of relief that modern workers were used to.  So, 
shirtsleeves  were rolled up, the nylons came off, and ties  were 
loose if present at all.  

The streets were worse.  The climatic changes that graced much of 
North  America were exaggerated in Washington. The heat was  hot-
ter,  the  humidity wetter.  Sweat was no longer  a  five  letter 
word, it was a way of life.  

Union  Station,  the  grand old train station  near  the  Capitol 
Building provided little relief.  The immense volume of air to be 
cooled  was too much for the central air conditioners. They  were 
no match for mother nature's revenge on the planet for  unforgiv-
ing  hydrocarbon emissions.  As soon as Tyrone  Duncan  detrained 
from  the elegant Metroliner he had ridden this morning from  New 
York's Penn Station, he was drenched in perspiration.  He discov-
ered, to his chagrin, that the cab he had hailed for his ride  to 
headquarters  had no air conditioning.  The stench of  the  city, 
and the garbage and the traffic fumes reminded him of home.   New 

Tyrone showed his identification at the J. Edgar Hoover  Building 
wishing he had the constitution to wear a seersucker suit.  There 
is no way on God's earth a seersucker could show a few hours wear 
as desperately as his $1200 Louis Boston did, he thought.   Then, 
there  was the accompanying exhaustion from his exposure  to  the 
dense Washington air. Duncan had not been pleased with the  panic 
call  that forced him to Washington anyway. His reactions to  the 
effects of the temperature humidity index did not portend a  good 
meeting with Bob Burnson.

Bob had called Tyrone night before, at home.  He said, we have  a 
situation here, and it requires some immediate attention.   Would 
you  mind being here in the morning?  Instead of a  question,  it 
was  an  unissued order.  Rather than fool around with  hours  of 
delays at La Guardia and National Airport, Tyrone elected to take 
the train and arrive in the nation's capitol just after noon.  It 
took, altogether just about the same amount of time, yet he could 
travel  in  relative luxury and peace.  Burnson was  waiting  for 

Bob  Burnson held the title of National Coordinator for  Tactical 
Response  for the FBI. He was a little younger that Duncan,  just 
over  40,  and appeared cool in his dark blue  suit  and  tightly 
collared  shirt.  Burnson had an unlikely pair of qualities.   He 
was both an extraordinarily well polished politician and a astute 
investigator.   Several years prior, though, he decided that  the 
bureaucratic life would suit him just fine, and at the expense of 
his investigative skills, he attacked the political ladder with a 

Despite the differences between them, Burnson a willing compatri-
ot of the Washington machine and Duncan preferring the rigors  of 
investigation, they had developed a long distance friendship that 
survived  over the years.  Tyrone was most pleased that he had  a 
boss  who would at least give his arguments a fair listen  before 
being told that for this or that political reason, the Bureau had 
chosen a different line of reasoning.  So be it, thought  Duncan.  
I'm not a policy maker, just a cop.  Tyrone sank into one of  the 
government  issue chairs in Burnson's modern, yet  modest  office 
ringed with large windows that can't open. 

"How  'bout that Arctic Chill?"  Burnson's short lithe 150  pound 
frame showed no wear from the heat.  "Glad you could make it."

"Shee  .  . .it man," Tyrone exhaled as he wiped  his  shiny  wet 
black face and neck.  He was wringing wet.  "Like I had a choice.  
If  it  weren't for the company, I'd be at the  beach  getting  a 
tan."  He continued to wipe his neck and head with a  monogrammed 

"Lose  a few pounds, and it won't hurt so bad. You know, I  could 
make an issue of it,"  Bob poked fun.

"And I'm outta here so fast, Hoover'll cheer from his grave,"  he 
sweated.   The reference to the FBI founder's  legendary  bigotry 
was a common source of jokes in the modern bureau.

"No  doubt.  No doubt."  Burnson passed by the  innuendo.  "Maybe 
we'd balance the scales, too." He dug the knife deeper in  refer-
ence to Tyrone's weight.

"That's two," said Duncan.  

"Ok, ok," said Burnson feigning surrender.  "How's Arlene and the 
rest  of the sorority?"  He referred to the house full  of  women 
with whom Tyrone had spent a good deal of his life.

"Twenty degrees cooler."  He was half serious.

"Listen, since you're hear, up for a bite?"  Bob tried.

"Listen,  how  'bout we do business then grab a  couple  of  cold 
ones.   Iced  beer.   At Camelot?  That's my idea  of  a  quality 
afternoon."  Camelot was the famous downtown strip joint on  18th 
and M street that former Mayor Marion Berry had haunted and  been 
86'd from for unpublished reasons.  It was dark and frequented by 
government  employees for lunch, noticeably the ones from  Treas-

"Deal.  If you accept."  Bob's demeanor shifted to the officious.

"Accept what?" Tyrone asked suspiciously.

"My proposition."

"Is  this another one of your lame attempts to promote me  to  an 
office job in Capitol City?"  

"Well,  yes and no.  You're being re-assigned."  No easy  way  to 
say it.

"To what?" exclaimed Tyrone angrily.

"To ECCO."

"What the hell is ECCO?"

"All  in good time. To the point," Bob said calmly. "How much  do 
you know about this blackmail thing?"  

"Plenty.   I read the reports, and I have my own local  problems.  
Not to mention that the papers have picked it up.  If it  weren't 
for  the  National Expos printing irresponsibly,  the  mainstream 
press  would  have  kept  it quiet  until  there  was  some  con-

"Agreed,"  said  Burnson.  "They are being spoken to  right  now, 
about  that very subject, and as I hear it, they will  have  more 
lawsuits on their doorstep than they can afford to defend.   They 
really blew it this time."

"What else?"  Bob was listening intently.

"Not much.  Loose, unfounded innuendo, with nothing to follow up.  
Reminds me of high school antics or mass hysteria.  Just like UFO 
flaps."  Tyrone Duncan dismissed the coincidences and the thought 
of  Scott's conspiracy theory.  "But it does make for a busy  day 
at the office."

"Agreed, however, you only saw the reports that went on the wire.  
Not the ones that didn't go through channels."

"What  do you mean by that?"  Duncan voiced concern at being  out 
of the loop.

"What's  on the wire is only the tip of the iceberg.   There's  a 
lot more."

"What else?"

"Senators  calling  the Director personally, asking  for  favors.  
Trying  to keep their secrets secret.  A junior  Midwest  senator 
has some quirky sexual habits.  A Southern anti-pornography ball-
breaker happens to like little boys.  It goes on and one. They've 
all received calls saying that their secrets will be in the news-
papers' hands within days."

"Unless?"  Duncan awaited the resolved threat.

"No unless, which scares them all senseless.  It's the same story 
everywhere.   Highly  influential people who manage many  of  our 
countries' strategic assets have called their senators, and asked 
them to insure that their cases are solved in a quiet and expedi-
ent political manner.  Sound familiar?"  Burnson asked Duncan.

"More than vaguely," Tyrone had to admit.  "How many?"

"As  of this morning we have 17 Senators asking the FBI  to  make 
discreet investigations into a number of situations.  17!  Not to 
mention  a  couple  hundred  executive  types  with  connections.  
Within  days  of  each other.  They each, so  far,  believe  that 
theirs is an isolated incident and that they are the sole  target 
of  such  .  . .threats is as good a word as  any.   Getting  the 

Tyrone whistled to himself.  "They're all the same?"

"Yes,  and there's something else.  To a man, each  claimed  that 
there was no way the blackmailer could know what he knew.  Impos-
sible."   Burnson  scratched  his head.   "Strange.   Same  story 
everywhere.   That's what got the Director and his cronies in  on 
this.   And  then me . . .and that's why you're  here,"   Burnson 
said with finality.

"Why?"  Tyrone  was getting frustrated with the  roundabout  dia-

"We're  pulling the blackmail thing to the national office and  a 
special task force will take over.  A lot of folks upstairs  want 
to  pull you in and stick you in charge of the  whole  operation, 
but I told them that you weren't interested, that you like it the 
way it is.  So, I struck a deal."  Burnson sounded proud.  

Duncan  wasn't convinced.  "Deal?  What deal?  Since when do  you 
talk  for  me?"  Tyrone didn't think to thank Bob for  the  front 
line pass interference.  Keep the politicos out of his hair.

"Have  you been following any of the computer madness  recently?"  
Burnson spoke as though he expected Tyrone to know nothing of it.

"Can't  miss it.  From what I hear, a lot of people  are  getting 
pretty spooked that they may be next."  

"It  gets  more interesting than what the papers say,"  Bob  said 
while  opening a desk drawer.  He pulled out a large  folder  and 
lay it across his desk.  "We have experienced a few more computer 
incidents than is generally known, and in the last several  weeks 
there has been a sudden increase in the number of attacks against 
Government computers."

"You  mean  the INTERNET stuff and Congress  losing  it's  mind?"  
Tyrone  laughed at the thought that Congress would now use  their 
downed computers as an excuse for not doing anything.

"Those  are only the ones that have made it to the  press.   It's 
lot  worse."   Bob scanned a few pages of the  folder  and  para-
phrased  while  reading.  "Ah, yes, the NPRP,  National  Pretrial 
Reporting  Program over at Justice . . .was hit with a series  of 
computer  viruses apparently intentionally placed in VMS  comput-
ers, whatever the hell those are."  Bob Burnson was not  computer 
fluent, but he knew what the Bureau's computer could do. 

"The Army Supply Center at  Fort Stewart, Georgia had all of  its 
requisitions  for the last year erased from the  computer."   Bob 
chuckled as he continued.  "Says here that they have had to  pool 
the  guys'  money  to go to Winn Dixie to buy  toilet  paper  and 
McDonald's  has  offered a special GI discount until  the  system 
gets back up."

"Ty,"  Bob said.  " Some people on the hill have raised  a  stink 
since their machines went down. Damn crybabies.  So ECCO is being 

"What the hell is ECCO?" Tyrone asked again.

"ECCO stands for Emergency Computer Crisis Organization.  It's  a 
computer crisis  team that responds to . . .well I guess, comput-
er crises."  Bob opened the folder again.  "It was formed  during 
the, and I quote, ' . . .the panic that followed the first INTER-
NET Worm in November of 1988.'"

Tyrone's mouth hung open.  "What panic?"

"The one that was kept under absolute wraps," Bob said,  slightly 
lowering  his  voice.  "At first no one knew  what  the  INTERNET 
event was about.  Who was behind it.  Why and how it was  happen-
ing.   Imagine  10's of thousands of computers  stopping  all  at 
once.   It scared the shit out of the National Security  Council, 
remember  we and the Russians weren't quite friends then, and  we 
thought that military secrets were being funneled straight to the 
Kremlin.  You can't believe some of the contingency plans I heard 

"I had no idea . . ."

"You  weren't  supposed to," Bob added.  "Very few did.   At  any 
rate, right afterward DARPA established CERT, the Computer  Emer-
gency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon, and DCA set up a Security 
Coordination Center at SRI International to investigate  problems 
in the Defense Data Network.  Livermore and the DOE got into  the 
act  with  Computer Incident Advisory  Capability.  Then  someone 
decided that the bureaucracy was still too light and it  deserved 
at  least  a  fourth redundant, overlapping and  rival  group  to 
investigate on behalf of Law Enforcement Agencies.  So, there  we 
have ECCO."

"So what's the deal?" asked Tyrone.  "What do I have to do?"

"The  Director has asked ECCO to investigate the latest round  of 
viruses  and  the  infiltration of a dozen or  so  sensitive  and 
classified  computers."  Bob watched for Ty's reaction,  but  saw 
none yet. He wondered how he would take the news.  "This time, we 
would  like to be involved in the entire operation from start  to 
finish.  Make sure the investigation is done right.  We'd like to 
start nailing some of the bastards on the Federal level.  Besides 
you  have the legal background and we are treading on  some  very 
new and untested waters."

"I can imagine.  So what's our role?"

"Your role," Bob emphasized 'your', "will be to liaison with  the 
other interested agencies."

"Who else is playing?" asked Tyrone with trepidation.  

"Uh, that is the one negative," stammered Bob.  "You've got  NSA, 
CIA,  NIST,  the NSC, the JCS and a bunch of  others  that  don't 
matter.  The only rough spot is the NSA/NIST connection.   Every-
one else is there just to make sure they don't miss anything."

"What's their problem?"

"Haven't heard, huh?" laughed Bob.  "The press hasn't been  kind.  
They've  been in such a pissing match for so long  that  computer 
security  work came to a virtual halt and I don't want  to  spoil 
the surprise, ah, you'll see," he added chuckling.

Tyrone  sat  back in the chair as he was cool enough now  not  to 
stick to it, closed his eyes and rotated his head to work out the 
kinks.  Bob never had gotten used to Tyrone's peculiar method  of 
deep thought; he found it most unnerving.

Bob's   intents were crystal clear, not that Tyrone  minded.   He 
had no desire to move to D.C.; indeed he would have quit instead. 
He  wanted  to stay with the Bureau and the action  but   in  his 
comfortable New York existence.  Otherwise, no.  But, if he could 
get  Bob  off his back by this one favor.  Sure it might  not  be 
real    action,    watching   computer    jockies    play    with 
themselves . . .but it might be an interesting change in pace.

"Yes, under a couple of condition."  Tyrone was suddenly a little 
too agreeable and smug after his earlier hesitancy.  

"Conditions? What conditions?" Bob's suspicion was clear.

"One.  I do it my way, with no, and I mean, absolutely no  inter-
ference."  Duncan awaited a reply to his first demand.

"What else?"

"I get to use who I want to use, inside or outside the Bureau."

"Outside?   Outside?  We can't let this outside.  The last  thing 
in the world we want is publicity."  

"You're gonna get it anyway.  Let's do it right this time."

"What do you mean by that?" Bob asked somewhat defensively.

"What I mean is," Tyrone spoke up, sounding confident, "that  the 
press  are already on this computer virus thing and  hackers  and 
all.   So,  let's not advertise it, but when it comes  up,  let's 
deal with it honest."

"No way," blurted out Bob.  "They'll make it worse than it is."

"I  have that covered.  A friend of my works for a paper, and  he 
is a potential asset."

"What's the trade?" 

"Not much.  Half day leads, as long as he keeps it fair."

"Anything else?" Bob asked, not responding to Ty.

"One last thing," Tyrone said sitting up straighter.  "After this 
one,  you promise to let me alone and work my golden  years,  the 
way I want, where I want until my overdue retirement."

"I don't know if I can . . ."

"Then forget it," interrupted Tyrone.  "I'll just quit."  It  was 
the penultimate threat and bluff and caught Bob off balance.

"Wait a minute. You can't hold me hostage . . ."

"Isn't that what you're doing to me?"  Touch<130>!

Bob sat back in thought.  To an event, Duncan had been right  on.  
He had uncannily been able to solve, or direct the solution of  a 
crime where all others had failed.  And, he always put the Bureau 
in  the best possible light.  If he didn't go with him now,  lose 
him for sure.

"And, I may need some discretionary funds."  Duncan was making  a 
mental list of those things he thought he needed.  His sources of 
information  were the most valuable. Without them, it would be  a 
bad case of babysitting sissy assed bureaucrats staking out their 

"Yes  to the money.  Ouch, but yes to hands off  your  promotion. 
Maybe, to the reporter.  It's my ass, too, you know."

"You called me," Tyrone said calmly.  "Remember?"

I  can't win this one, thought Bob.  He's never screwed  up  yet.  
Not big time.  As they say, with enough rope you either bring  in 
the  gang or hang yourself.    "I want results."  That's all  Bob 
had  to say.  "Other than that, I don't give a good goddamn  what 
you do,"  Bob resigned.  

"One more thing," Tyrone slipped in.

"What is it?" Bob was getting exasperated.

"It happens out of New York, not here."

"But . . ."

"No buts.  Period."  

"Ok, New York, but you report here when I need you.  Agreed?"

"Agreed," said Tyrone agreeably.  "Deal?"

"Yes, except no with the press, this reporter of yours.  Agreed?"

"Whatever," Tyrone told Bob.

* * * * * 

From  his  hotel room, Tyrone Duncan called Scott  Mason  at  his 
home.  It was after 11P.M. EST, and Ty was feeling no pain  after 
several  hours  of drinking and slipping $10  bills  into  garter 
belts at Camelot. 

"RCA, Russian Division,"  Scott Mason answered his phone.

"Don't do that," Tyrone slurred.  "That'll trigger the monitors."

"Oh,  sorry, I thought you wanted the plans for the Stealth  Bom-
ber . . ."

"C'mon, man," Tyrone pleaded. "It's not worth the paperwork."

Scott  choked through his laughter. "I'm watching  a  Honeymooner 
rerun.  This better be good." 

"We need to talk."

* * * * * 

     Thursday, October 15
     Washington, D.C.

The  stunning view of the Potomac was complete with a cold  front 
that brought a wave of crisp and clear air; a much needed  change 
from  the brutal Indian Summer.  His condo commanded a  vista  of 
lights  that reflected the power to manipulate the world.   Miles 
reveled  in it.  He and Perky lounged on his 8th. floor   balcony 
after  a wonderfully satisfying romp in his waterbed.  For  every 
action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Sex in a  water-
bed  meant  the expenditure of the least energy for  the  maximum 
pleasure. Ah, the beauty of applied mathematics. 

Over the last four years Perky and Miles had seen each other on a 
periodically  regular basis.  She was a little more than  one  of 
Miles'  sexual release valves.  She was a  semi-sorta-kinda  girl 
friend,  but wouldn't have been if Miles had known that  she  re-
ported their liaisons back to her boss.  Alex was not  interested 
in how she got her information.  He only wanted to know if  there 
were any digressions in Miles mission.  

They  sipped  Grande  Fine from oversized  brandy  glasses.   The 
afterglow was magnificent and  they saw no reason to detract from 
it  with meaningless conversation.  Her robe barely  covered  her 
firm breasts and afforded no umbrage for the triangle between her 
legs.   She wasn't ashamed of her nakedness, job or no  job.  She 
enjoyed  her time with Miles.  He asked for nothing from her  but 
the obvious.  Unlike the others  who often asked her for  solici-
tous introductions to others who wielded power that might further 
their own particular lobby.  Miles was honest, at least.  He even 
let her spend the night upon occasion.

At  2  A.M., as they gazed over the reflections in  the  Potomac, 
Miles'  phone warbled.  He ignored the first 5 rings  to  Perky's 

"Aren't you going to answer?"  Her unspoken thoughts said, do 
whatever you have to do to make that infernal noise top.

"Expecting a call?"  Miles asked.  His eyes were closed,  convey-
ing his internal peace.  The phone rang again.

"Miles, at least get a machine."  The phone rang a seventh time.

 "Fuck."  He stood and his thick terrycloth robe swept behind him 
as he walked into the elegantly simple modern living room through 
the open glass doors.  He put down his glass and answered on  the 
8th ring.

"It's  late,"  he answered.  His 'I don't give a  shit'  attitude 
was evident.

"Mr.  Foster,  I am most displeased."  It  was  Homosoto.   Miles 
curled  his lips in disgust as Perky looked in from  her  balcony 

Miles breathed heavily into the phone. "What's wrong now?"  Miles 
was trying to verbally show his distaste for such a late call.

"Our plans were explicit.  Why have you deviated?"  Homosoto  was 
controlled but forthright.

"What the hell are you talking about?"  Miles sipped loudly  from 
the brandy glass.

"I  have  read about the virus, the computer  virus.   The  whole 
world in talking about it.  Mr. Foster, you are early.  I thought 
we had an understanding."

"Hey!"  Foster yelled into the phone. "I don't know where you get 
off  calling me at 2 in the morning, but you've got your head  up 
your ass."

"Excuse  me  Mr. Foster, I do not and could not  execute  such  a 
motion.   However,  do  not forget we  did  have  an  agreement."  
Homosoto was insistent.

"What the fuck are you talking about?"  Miles was adamant.

"Since  you insist on these games, Mr. Foster.  I have read  with 
great interest about the so called Columbus Day Virus.  I believe 
you have made a great error in judgment."

Miles had just had about enough of this. "If you've got something 
to say, say it." he snorted into the phone.

"Mr.  Foster.  Did we not agree that the first major  strike  was 
not to occur until next year?"

"Yeah," Miles said offhandedly.  He saw  Perky open her eyes  and 
look at him quizzically.  He made a fist with his right hand  and 
made an obscene motion near his crotch.  

"Then,  what is this premature event?"  Homosoto persisted.

"Not mine."  Miles looked out the balcony.  Perky was  invitingly 
licking her lips. Miles turned away to avoid distraction.

"Mr. Foster, I find it hard to believe that you are not responsi-

"Tough shit."

"Excuse me?"  Homosoto was taken aback.

"Simple.  You are not the only person, and neither am I, the only 
person  who has chosen to build viruses or  destructive  computer 
programs.  We are merely taking a good idea and taking it to  its 
logical  conclusion as a pure form of offensive weaponsry.   This 
one's not mine nor yours.  It's someone elses."

The  phone was silent for a few seconds.  "You are  saying  there 
are  others?"   The  childlike naivete was  coming  through  over 
12,000 miles of phone wire.

"Of course there are.  This will probably help us."

"How do you mean?"

"There  are a hundreds of viruses, but  none as effective as  the 
ones  which  we use.  A lot of amateurs use them to  build  their 
egos.  Jerusalem-B, Lehigh, Pakistani, Brain, Marijuana, they all 
have names.  They have no purpose other than self aggrandizement.  
So,  we  will be seeing more and more viruses  appear  that  have 
nothing  to  do with our efforts.  I do hope you  will  not  call 
every time you hear of one.  You know our dates. "

"Is there no chance for error?"

"Oh  yes!  There is, but it will be very isolated if  it  occurs. 
Most  viruses do not receive as much attention as this  one,  and 
probably  won't until we are ready.  And, as I recall we are  not 
ready."   Miles  was  tired of the timing for  the  hand  holding 
session.  Ms. Perkins was beckoning.

"I hope you are right.  My plans must not be interfered with."

"Our  plans," Miles corrected.  "my ass is on the line,  too.   I 
don't  need you freaking every time the press reports a  computer 
going on the fritz.  It's gonna happen a lot." 

"What  will  happen, Mr. Foster?"  Homosoto was  able  to  convey 
disgust with a Japanese accent like no other.

"We've been through this before."

"Then go through it again," Homosoto ordered.  

Miles turned his back to Perky and sat on the couch inside  where 
he  was  sure  he could speak in privacy.   "Listen  here  Homo,"  
Miles  scowled.  "In the last couple of years viruses  have  been 
become techno-yuppie amusements.  The game has intensified as the 
stakes  have  increased.  Are you aware . . .no I'm  sure  you're 
not,  that  the experts here say that, besides our  work,  almost 
every local area network in the country is infected with a  virus 
of one type or another.  Did you know that?"

"No,  Mr.  Foster,  I didn't.  How do you know  that?"   Homosoto 
sounded unconvinced.

"It's my fucking job to know that. And you run an empire?"

"Yes,  I know , and I hope you do, Mr. Foster, that you work  for 
me."   Condenscention was an executive Oriental trait that  Miles 
found unsettling.

"For now, I do."

"You  do,  and  will until our job is over.  Is  that  clear  Mr. 
Foster?  You have much to lose."

Miles  sank deep into the couch, smirking and puckering his  dim-
ples. He wanted to convey boredom.  "I a job.  You an empire."

"Do not be concerned about me. Good night, Mr. Foster."

Homosoto had quickly cut the line.  Just as well, thought  Miles. 
He  had  enough of that  slant-eyed  slope-browed  rice-propelled 
mother-fucker for one night. He had bigger and better and  harder 
things to concern him. 

* * * * * 

     October 31, 1989
     Falls Church, Virginia.

"What do you mean gone?"

"Gone. Gone.  It's just gone."  Fred Porter sounded panicked.

Larry Ferguson, the Senior Vice President of First National  Bank 
did  not  appreciate the news he was getting  from  the  Transfer 
Department  in New York.  "Would you be kind enough to  explain?" 
he said with disdain.

"Yessir, of course." Porter took a deep breath.  "We were running 
a  balance, the same one we run every day.  And every  day,  they 
balance.   The transfers, the receipts, the charges .  .  .every-
thing.   When we ran them last night, they didn't add up.   We're 
missing a quarter billion dollars."

"A quarter billion dollars? You better have one good explanation, 

"I wish I did," Porter sighed.

"All  right,  let's go through it top to bottom."  Ferguson  knew 
that  it was ultimately his ass if $250 Million was really  miss-

"It's just as I told you."

"Then tell me again!" Ferguson bellowed.

"Yessir, sorry.  We maintain transfer accounts as you know."

"Of course I know."

"During the day we move our transfer funds into a single  account 
and  wait till the end of the day to move the money to  where  it 
belongs.  We do that because . . ."

"I  know why we do it.  Cause for every hundred million  we  hold 
for  half a day we make $16,000 in interest we don't have to  pay 

"Yessir, but that's not official . . ."

"Of course it's not you idiot . . ."

"I'm sorry sir."

"As  you  were saying . . ." Ferguson was glad he had  moved  the 
psychological stress to his underling.

"When  we  got  to the account, about 9:00 A.M.,  it  was  empty.  
That's it. Empty. All the money was gone."

"And, pray tell, where did it go?" Templeton said sarcastically.

"We  don't  know.  It was supposed to have  been  transferred  to 
hundreds of accounts. Here and abroad.  There's no audit of  what 

"Do  you know how long it will take you to pay for this screw  up 
Porter?"  Templeton demanded.


"How long?"

"A hundred lifetimes," Porter said dejectedly.

"Longer. A lot longer."  Ferguson really knew that Porter  would-
n't  pay  any price.  As long as the computer records  showed  he 
wasn't  at  fault,  he would continue to be  a  valued  employee.  
Ferguson himself was bound to be the scape goat.

"What do you want me to do, sir?"  Porter asked.

"You've  done  enough.   Just wire me the records.  I  need  them 
yesterday.   I have to talk to Weinhauser."  Ferguson hung up  in 
disgust.  It was not going to be a good day.


               Chapter 11

     Wednesday, November 4
     The Stock Exchange, New York

Wall Street becomes a ghost town by early evening with the  night 
population largely consisting of guards, cleaning and maintenance 
people.   Tightly packed skyscrapers with their  lighted  windows 
create  random geometric patterns in the moonless  cityscape  and 
hover ominously over dimly lit streets. 

Joe Patchok and Tony Romano worked as private guards on the  four 
to  midnight  shift at the Stock Exchange on Cortland  Street  in 
lower Manhattan.  For a couple of young college guys this was the 
ideal  job.   They could study in peace and quiet,  nothing  ever 
happened, no one bothered them, and the pay was decent. 

They were responsible for the 17th. and 18th. floors which had  a 
sole entrance and exit; controlled access.    This was where  the 
central computers for the Stock Exchange tried to maintain sanity 
in  the market.  The abuses of computer trading resulting in  the 
minicrash of 1987 forced a re-examination of the practice and the 
subsequent  installation  of  computer brakes  to  dampen  severe 
market fluctuations. 

Hundreds  of millions of shares exchanged every day are  recorded 
in  the computers as are the international, futures and  commodi-
ties trades.  The dossiers on thousands upon thousands of  compa-
nies stored in the memory banks and extensive libraries were used 
to  track  investors, ownership, offerings, filings  and  provide 
required information to the government.

Tony  sat at the front guard desk while Joe made the next  hourly 
check through the offices and computer rooms.  Joe strolled  down 
the  halls, brilliantly lit from recessed ceiling fixtures.   The 
corridor  walls  were all solid glass, giving the  impression  of 
more openness than was really provided by the windowless, climate 
controlled,  40%  sterile  environment.   There  was  no  privacy 
working in the computer rooms. 

The  temperature  and humidity were  optimized;  the  electricity 
content  of  air was neutralized both  electrostatically  and  by 
nuclear ionization, and the air cycled and purified once an hour.  
In  the event of a catastrophic power failure, which is  not  un-
known  in  New York, almost 10,000 square feet was  dedicated  to 
power  redundancy  and  battery backup.  In case  of  fire,  heat 
sensors  trigger  the release of halon gas and suck  all  of  the 
oxygen  from the room in seconds.  The Stock  Exchange  computers 
received the best care.

Joe  tested the handle on the door of each darkened room  through 
the  myriad  glass hallways.  Without the  computers  behind  the 
glass  walls, it might as well have been a House of Mirrors.   He 
noticed  that the computer operators who work through  the  night 
were  crowded  together  at the end of a hall next  to  the  only 
computer rooms with activity.  He heard them muttering about  the 
cleaning staff.

"Hey guys, problem?" Joe asked. 

"Nah,  we escaped," a young bearded man in a white lab coat  said 
pointing  into the room. "His vacuum cleaner made one  God  awful 
noise, so we came out here til' he was done."

"New cleaning service," Joe said offhandedly.

The  dark complexioned cleaning man wore a starchy white  uniform 
with  Mohammed's Cleaning Service emblazoned across the  back  in 
bold red letters.  They watched him, rather than clean the  room, 
fiddle with the large barrel sized vacuum cleaner.  

"What's he doing?"

"Fixing that noise, I hope."

"What's he doing now?"

"He's looking at us and, saying something . . ."

"It looks like he's praying . . ."

"Why the hell would he . . ."

The entire 46 story building instantly went dark and the force of 
the  explosion  rocked Tony from his seat fifty yards  away.   He 
reached  for the flashlight on his belt and pressed a  series  of 
alarms  on the control panel even though the video monitors  were 
black and the emergency power had not come on.  Nothing.  He  ran 
towards the sound of the blast and yelled.

"Hello?  Hey?" he yelled nervously into the darkness.

"Over here, hurry," a distant pained voice begged.

Tony slid into a wall and stopped. He pointed his flashlight down 
one hall.  Nothing. 

"Over here."

He  jumped sideways and pointed the beam onto a twisted  maze  of 
bodies,  some with blood geysering into the air from their  necks 
and arms and legs.  Tony saw that the explosion had shattered the 
glass  walls into thousands of high velocity razor sharp  projec-
tiles.  The corpses had been pierced, stabbed, severed and  muti-
lated by the deadly shards.  Tony felt nauseous; he was going  to 
be sick right then.  

"Tony."  A shrapnelled Joe squeaked from the mass of  torn  flesh 
ahead of him.

"Holy shit . . ."  Tony's legs to turned to jelly as he bent over 
and gagged.

"Help me!"

The force of the blast had destroyed the glass partitions as  far 
as  his light beam would travel.  He pointed the light  into  the 
room that exploded.  The computer equipment was in shambles,  and 
then he saw what was left of the cleaning man.  His severed  head 
had  no recognizable features and pieces of his body were  strewn 
about.   Tony suddenly vomited onto the river of blood  that  was 
flowing his way down the hallway.  

"I gotta go get help," Tony said choking.  He pushed against  the 
wall to give him the momentum to overcome the paralysis his  body 
felt and ran.

"No, help me . . ."

He ran down the halls with his flashlight waving madly.  The ele-
vators.   They  were out, too.  Maybe the phone on  the  console.  
Dead.   He  picked up the walkie-talkie and  pushed  the  button.  
Nothing.  He banged the two way radio several times on the  coun-
ter in the futile hope that violence was an electronic  cure-all.  
Dead. Tony panicked and threw it violently into the blackness.  

Neither the small TV, nor his portable radio worked.

* * * * *

"I  know  it's  almost midnight," Ben Shellhorne  said  into  the 
cellular phone.  He cupped his other ear to hear over the  commo-
tion at the Stock Exchange building.  

"Quit your bitching.  Look at it this way; you might see dawn for 
the first time in your life."  Ben joked.  All time was equal  to 
Ben  but  he knew that Scott said he didn't do  mornings.  "Sure, 
I'll  wait," Ben said in disgust and waited with agitation  until 
Scott came back to the phone.  "Good.  But don't forget that beer 
isn't just for breakfast." 

He craned his neck to see that the NYPD Bomb Squad had just  left 
and gave the forensics team the go ahead.  No danger.  

"Listen,"  Ben said hurriedly. "I gotta make it quick, I'm  going 
in for some pictures."  He paused and then said, "Yes, of  course 
after  the bodies are gone.  God, you can be gross."   He  paused 
again.  "I'll meet you in the lobby.  One hour."

Ben  Shellhorn, a denizen of the streets, reported  stories  that 
sometimes didn't fit within the  all-the-news-that's-fit-to-print 
maxim.   Many  barely bordered on the decent, but they  were  all 
well  done.  For some reason, unknown even to Ben,  he  attracted 
news  whose  repulsiveness made them that much more  magnetic  to 
readers.  Gruesome lot we are, he thought.  

That's  why one of his police contacts called him to say  that  a 
bunch  of computer nerds were sliced to death.  The Cheers  rerun 
was  bringing him no pleasure, so sure, what the hell; it  was  a 
nice night for a mutilation.  

"It's  getting mighty interesting, buddy boy," Ben  said  meeting 
Scott  as  he stepped out of his filthy Red 911 in front  of  the 
Stock  Exchange an hour later.  His press  credentials  performed 
wonders  at  times.   Like getting behind police  lines  and  not 
having to park ten blocks away. 

The  police  had  brought in generators to power  huge  banks  of 
lights  to eerily light up the Stock Exchange building,  all  500 
feet  of it.  Emergency vehicles filled the wide  street,  every-
thing  from ambulances, fire engines, riot vehicles and New  York 
Power.   Then  there were the DA's office, lawyers  for  the  Ex-
change, insurance representatives and a ton of computer people.

"What the hell happened here?" Scott asked looking at the  pande-
monium  on the cordoned off Cortland Street.  "Where are all  the 
lights?"   He turned and gazed at the darkened streets  and  tall 
buildings.   "Did you know a bunch of the street lights are  out, 
too?"  Scott meandered in seeming awe of the chaos.  

"This is one strange one," Ben said as they approached the build-
ing  entrance.  "Let me ask you a question,  you're  the  techno- 

Scott scowled at him for the reference but didn't comment. 

"What kind of bomb stops electricity?"

"Electricity?   You mean power?"  Scott pointed at the  blackened 
buildings  and streets and Ben nodded.  "Did they blow the  block 

"No, just a small Cemex, plastic, bomb in one computer room.  Did 
some damage, but left an awful lot standing.  But the death  toll 
was  high.   Eleven dead and two probably not going to  make  it.  
Plus the perp."  

Scott  gazed around the scene.  The dark sky was pierced  by  the 
top  floors of the World Trade Center, and there were  lights  in 
the  next  blocks.  So it's not a blackout.  And  it  wasn't  the 
power  grid that was hit.  A growing grin preceded Scott  shaking 
his head side to side.

"What is it?"  Ben asked. 

"A nuke."

"A nuke?"

"Yeah, that's it, a nuke," Scott said excitedly.  "A nuke  knocks 
out power. Of course."  

"Right,"  Ben  said mockingly.  "I can hear it  now:  Portion  of 
17th.  Floor  of Exchange Devastated by Nuclear  Bomb.   News  at 

"Never  mind," Scott brushed it off.  "Can we get up there?"   He 
pointed at the ceiling.  "See the place?"

Ben pulled a few strings and spent a couple of hundred of Scott's 
dollars  but succeeded in getting to the corpse-less site of  the 
explosion.  Scott visually poked around the debris and noticed  a 
curved  porcelain remnant near his feet.  He wasn't  supposed  to 
touch,  but, what was it?  And the ruby colored chunks of  glass? 
In  the  few seconds they were left alone, they snapped  a  quick 
roll  of  film and made a polite but hasty departure. At  $200  a 
minute Scott hoped he would find what he was looking for.  

"Ben, I need these photos blown up, to say, 11 X 17?  ASAP."  

The  press conference at 4:15 in the morning was necessary.   The 
Stock Exchange was not going to open Thursday.  The lobby of  the 
Stock  Exchange was aflood with TV camera lights, police and  the 
media hoards.  Voices echoed loudly, between the marble walls and 
floor and made hearing difficult.

"We  don't  want  to predict what will happen over  the  next  24 
hours,"  the  exhausted stocky spokesman for the  Stock  Exchange 
said loudly, to make himself heard over the din.  "We have  every 
reason  to expect that we can make a quick transition to  another 

"How is that done?"

"We have extensive tape vaults where we store everything from the 
Exchange  computers daily.  We will either use one of our  backup 
computers, or move the center to a temporary location.  We  don't 
anticipate any delays."

"What  about the power problem?" A  female reporter from a  local 
TV news station asked.

"Con  Ed is on the job," the spokesman said,  pleased  they  were 
picking on someone else.  "I have every confidence they will have 
things up and flying soon."

"What caused the power outage?"

"We don't have the answer to that now."

Scott  edged to the front of the crowd to ask a question.   "What 
if,"  Scott asked the spokesman. "if the tapes were destroyed?"

"Thank God they weren't . . ." he said haltingly.

"Isn't  it  true," Scott ventured accusingly, "that in  fact  you 
already know that every computer in this building is dead, all of 
the emergency power backup systems and batteries failed and  that 
every  computer  tape or disk has been completely  erased?"   The 
other reporters stood open mouthed at the unexpected question.

Scott spoke confidently, knowing that he was being filmed by  the 
networks.   The spokesman nervously fumbled with some  papers  in 
his hand.  The press pool waited for the answer that had silenced 
the  spokesman.   He stammered, "We have no . . .until  power  is 
restored a full determination of the damage cannot be made . . ."

Scott  pressed the point.  "What would happen if the  tapes  were 
all erased?"

"Uh,  I, well . . ." he glanced from side to side.  On  his  left 
were  two men dressed in matching dark blue suits,  white  shirts 
and sunglasses.  "It is best not to speculate until we have  more 

"Computer experts have said that if the tapes are erased it would 
take  at least thirty days to recreate them and get the  Exchange 
open  again.  Is that correct?"    Scott exaggerated. He was  the 
computer expert to whom he referred.  Journalistic license. 

"Under  the conditions," the spokesman said trying to maintain  a 
credible  visage to front for his lies, "I also have  heard  some 
wildly exaggerated estimates.  Let me assure you," the politician 
in  him came out here.  "that the Exchange will in no way  renege 
on its fiduciary responsibilities to the world financial communi-
ty."  He glanced at his watch.  "I'm afraid that's all the time I 
have  now.   We will meet here again at 9:00 A.M. for  a  further 
briefing.  Thank you."  He quickly exited under the protection of 
New  York's  finest  as the reporters  all  shouted   their  last  
questions.  Scott didn't bother.  It never works.

One  of  the men in the blue suits leaned over to the  other  and 
spoke quietly in his ear. "Who is that guy asking all those ques-

"Isn't that the reporter the Director was talking about?"

"Yeah.  He said we should keep an eye on him."

* * * * *

     Thursday,   November 5
     Tokyo, Japan



Ahmed heard his computer announce that Homosoto was calling.   He 
pushed  the  joystick on the arm of his electric  wheelchair  and 
proceeded  over to the portable computer that was outfitted  with 
an  untraceable  cellular modem.  Even if the number  was  traced 
through  four interstate call forwards and the original  overseas 
link, finding him was an entirely different matter. Ahmed entered 
the  time base PRG code from the ID card he kept strapped to  his 



yes.  we were well served by martyrs.  they are to 
be honored.


8 more.


1 month.





* * * * *

     Friday, November 6
     New York City

The Stock Exchange didn't open Friday either.

Scott  Mason  had made enough of a stink about the  erased  tapes 
that  they could no longer hide under the cover of computer  mal-
functions.   It  was finally admitted that yes,  the  tapes  were 
needed to verify all transactions, especially the computer trans-
actions,  and they had been destroyed along with the entire  con-
tents  of  the  computer's memory and  hard  disks.   Wiped  out.  

The  Exchange  didn't tell the press that the  National  Security 
Agency had been quietly called in to assist.  The NSA specializes 
in  information gathering, and over the years with tens  of  bil-
lions  of dollars in secret appropriations, they  have  developed 
extraordinary  methods to extract usable information where  there 
is apparently none.  

The  Exchange couriered a carton of computer tapes to NSA's  Fort 
Meade  where the most sophisticated listening and analysis  tools 
in the world live in acres upon acres of underground laboratories 
and  data processing centers.  What they found did not  make  the 
NSA  happy.  The tapes had in fact been totally erased.  A  total 
unidirectional magnetic pattern.

Many  'erased'  tapes  and disks can be recovered.   One  of  the 
preferred  recovery methods is to use NMR Nuclear Magnetic  Reso-
nance, to detect the faintest of organized magnetic orientations.  
Even tapes or disks with secret information that have been erased 
many times can be 'read' after an MNR scan.

The  electromagnetic  signature left remnant on  the  tapes,  the 
molecular  alignment of the ferrous and chromium oxide  particles 
in  this case were peculiarly characteristic.  There  was  little 
doubt.   The NSA immediately called the Exchange and asked  them, 
almost  ordered  them, to leave the remaining  tapes  where  they 

In less than two hours an army of NSA technicians showed up  with 
crates and vehicles full of equipment.  The Department of  Energy 
was  right behind with equipment suitable for radiation  measure-
ments and emergency responses. 

DOE  quickly  reached  no conclusion.   Not  enough  information.  
Initially  they  had expected to find that someone  had  stumbled 
upon a way to make highly miniaturized nuclear weapons.   The men 
from the NSA knew they were wrong.

* * * * *

It  took almost six weeks for the Stock Exchange to  function  at 
its previous levels.  Trading was reduced to paper and less  than 
10,000,000 shares daily for almost two weeks until the  temporary 
system was expanded with staff and runners.  Daily trading  never 
was  able  to exceed 27,000,000 shares until the  computers  came 
back on line. 

The SEC and the Government Accounting Office released preliminary 
figures  indicating the shut down of the Exchange would cost  the 
American  economy  almost  $50 Billion this  year.   Congress  is 
preparing legislation to provide emergency funding to those firms 
that were adversely affected by the massive computer failure.  

The  Stock  Exchange has said that it will  institute  additional 
physical and computer security to insure that there is no  repeat 
of the unfortunate suicide assault.

* * * * *

     Sunday, November 8
     Scarsdale, New York

"You never cease to amaze me," Tyrone said as he entered  Scott's 
ultra  modern house.  "You and this freaking palace.   Just  from 
looking  at you, I'd expect black lights, Woodstock  posters  and 
sleeping  bags."   He couldn't recall if he had ever  seen  Scott 
wear anything but jeans, t-shirts or sweat shirts and  spotlessly 
clean Reeboks.  

Scott's  sprawling 8000 square foot free form geometric white  on 
white  home sat on 2 acres at the end of a long driveway  heavily 
treed  with evergreens so that seclusion was maintained all  year 
long.   Featured  in  Architectural Digest,  the  designers  made 
generous  use  of  glass brick inside and out.  The  indoor  pool 
boasted  sliding glass walls and a retractable  skylight  ceiling 
which gave the impression of outdoor living, even in the midst of 
a harsh winter.  

"They're  in the music room."  Scott proceeded to open a  set  of 
heavy oak double doors.  "Soundproof, almost," he said  cheerily.   
A  72 inch video screen dominated one wall and next to it  sat  a 
large  control center with VCR's, switchers and satellite  tuner.  
Scott's audio equipment was as complex as Ty had ever seen and an 
array of speaker systems flanked the huge television.  

"Toys, you got the toys, don't you?"  joked Tyrone.

"The only difference is that they cost more," agreed Scott.  "You 
wanna see a toy and a half? I invented it myself."

"Not  another one?" groaned Tyrone.  "That idiot golf machine  of 
yours was  . . ."

"Capable of driving 350 yards, straight as an arrow."

"And  as I remember, carving up the greens pretty  good."   Scott 
and  his  rolling  Golf Gopher had been  thrown  off  of  several 
courses already.

"A few modifications, that's all,"  laughed Scott.

Scott  led Tyrone through the immense  family-entertainment  room 
into a deep navy blue, white accented Euro-streamlined  automated 
kitchen.   It  was like no other kitchen he had  ever  seen.   In 
fact, other than the sinks and the extensive counters, there  was 
no  indication  that this room was intended for  preparing  food.  
Scott  flipped a switch and suddenly the deep blue cabinet  doors 
faded into a transparent tint baring the contents of the shelves. 
The  fronts  of the stoves, refrigerator and  freezer  and  other 
appliances exposed their function and controls.  

"Holy Jeez . . ." Ty said in amazement.  Last month this had been 
a regular high tech kitchen of the 80's.  Now it was the Jetsons. 
"That's incredible . . .you invented that?"

"No,"  dismissed Scott.  "That's just a neat trick of LCD  panels 
built  into  the  cabinets.  This was my idea."   He  pressed  an 
invisible switch and 4 ten inch openings appeared on the  counter 
top  near  the  sink.  "Combination  trash  compacter  re-cycler.  
Glass,  plastic,  aluminum, metal and paper.  Comes  out  by  the 
garbage, ready to go to the center."

"Lazy son of a bitch aren't you?"  Tyrone laughed loudly.

"Sure,  I admit my idea of gardening is watching someone mow  the 
lawn."   Scott  feigned  offense.  "But this is in  the  name  of 
Green.   I bet if you had one, you'd use it and Arlene would  get 
off your ass."

"No way," Tyrone objected.  "My marriage is too good to screw up.  
It's  the only thing left we still fight about, and we both  like 
it just the way it is. Thanks, but no thanks. I'm old fashioned."

Scott  showed Tyrone how to use the kitchen and he found that  no 
matter  what he wanted, there was button for it, a hidden  drawer 
or  a  disguised appliance.  "I still buy dishwashers  at  Sears.  
How the hell do you know how to use this stuff," Ty said fumbling 
with the automatic bottle opener which automatically dropped  the 
removed caps into the hole for the metal compactor. 

Tyrone  had come over to Scott's house for a quiet  afternoon  of 
Sunday football. An ideal time because Arlene had gone to  Boston 
for the weekend with his daughters.  Freedom!

They  made it to the Music Room with their beers as  the  kickoff 
was  midfield.   "So  how's the promotion  going?"   Scott  asked 
Tyrone in half jest.  Over the last few weeks, Ty had spent  most 
of his time in Washington and what little time was left with  his 

"Promotion my ass. It's the only way I can not get a  promotion."  
Tyrone added somberly, "and it may be my last case." 

"What do you mean?"  Scott asked. 

"It's  gotten outta hand, totally out of hand. We have  to  spend 
more  time protecting the rights of the goddamned criminals  than 
solving  crimes.  That's not what it should be about.   At  least 
not for me."

"You're serious about this," Scott said rhetorically.

"Hey, sooner or later I gotta call it quits," Ty replied soberly. 
"But this computer thing's gonna make my decision easier."

"That's what I asked.  How's the promotion?"

"Let's  just  say, more of the same but  different.   Except  the 
interagency  crap  is amazing.  No one commits to  anything,  and 
everything needs study and nothing gets done."  Tyrone sighed.  

He  had been in Washington working with NIST, NSA, DoD and  every 
other  agency that thought it had a vested interest in  computers 
and their protection.  Their coordination with CERT and ECCO  was 
a joke, even by government standards.

At the end of the first quarter, the 49'ers were holding a  solid 
10 point lead.  Scott grabbed a couple more beers and began tell-
ing  Tyrone  about the incident at the Exchange.   The  New  York 
Police  had taken over the case, declaring sovereignty over  Wall 
Street and its enclaves.  

"They don't know what they have, however," Scott said immodestly.

"The talk was a small scale nuke . . ."

"The  DOE smashed that but fast," Scott interrupted.  "What if  I 
told you that it was only the computers that were attacked?  That 
the deaths were merely incidental?"

Tyrone groaned as the 49'ers fumbled the ball.  "I'd listen,"  he 
said noncommittally.

"It was a classified magnetic bomb.  NSA calls them EMP-T."

"Empty?  The empty bomb?" Tyrone said skeptically.   "Since  when 
does NSA design bombs?"

"Listen,"  said Scott trying to get Ty's attention away from  the 
TV. "Have you ever heard of C-Cubed, or C3?"

"No." He stared at the San Francisco defense being crushed.

"Command,  Control and Communications  It's a special  government 
program to deal with nuclear warfare."

"Pleasant thought," said Tyrone.

"Yeah, well, one result of a nuclear blast is a terrific  release 
of electromagnetic energy.  Enough to blow out communications and 
power lines for miles.  That's one reason that silos are hardened 
-  to keep the communications lines open to permit the  President 
or whoever's still alive to shoot back."

"Like I said," Tyrone shuddered, "pleasant thought."  He  stopped 
suddenly at turned to Scott.  "So it was a baby nuke?"

"No,  it  was  EMP-T,"  Scott said in such a  way  to  annoy  Ty.  
"Electro Magnetic Pulse Transformer."  The confusion on  Tyrone's 
face was clear.  "Ok, it's actually pretty simple.  You know what 
interference sounds like on the radio or looks like on a TV?"

"Sure.  My cell phone snaps, crackles and pops all of the time."

"Exactly.  Noise is simply electromagnetic energy that interferes 
with the signal. Right?"  Scott waited for Tyrone to respond that 
he understood so far.

"Good.   Imagine  a  magnetic pulse so strong that  it  not  only 
interferes  with the signal, but overloads the electronics  them-
selves.   Remember  that electricity and magnetism are  the  same 
force taking different forms."

Tyrone shook his head and curled his mouth.  "Right.  I knew that 
all the time."  Scott ignored him.

"The EMP-T bomb is an electromagnetic explosion, very very short, 
only a few milliseconds, but incredibly intense."  Scott gestured 
to indicate the magnitude of the invisible explosion.  "That  was 
the bomb that went off at the Stock Exchange."

"How  can  you possibly know that?" Tyrone asked with a  hint  of 
professional derision.  "That requires a big leap of faith . . ."

Scott leaned over to the side of the couch and picked up the  two 
items he had retrieved from the Exchange.

"This," Scott said handing a piece of ceramic material to Ty, "is 
superconducting material.  Real new.  It can superconduct at room 
temperature.   And this," he handed Tyrone a piece of red  glass, 
"is a piece of a high energy ruby laser."

Tyrone  turned the curios over and over in his hands.   "So?"  he 

"By  driving  the output of the laser into a High  Energy  Static 
Capacitive  Tank,  the energy can be discharged  into  the  super 
coil.   The  instantaneous release of energy creates  a  magnetic 
field  of millions of gauss."  Scott snapped his  fingers.   "And 
that's  more than enough to blow out computer and phone  circuits 
as well as erase anything magnetic within a thousand yards."

Tyrone was now ignoring the football action. He stared alternate-
ly at Scott and the curious glass and ceramic remnants.   "You're 
bullshitting me, right?  Sounds like science fiction."

"But the fact is that the Stock Exchange still isn't open.  Their 
entire  tape library is gone. Poof!  Empty, thus the name  EMP-T.  
It  empties computers.  Whoever did this has a real  bad  temper. 
Pure  revenge.  They wanted to destroy the information,  and  not 
the hardware itself.  Otherwise the conventional blast would have 
been stronger.  The Cemex was used to destroy the evidence of the 
EMP-T device."

"Where the hell do these bombs come from." 

"EMP-T  technology  was  originally developed as part  of  a  Top 
Secret  DARPA project for the DoD with NSA guidance a  few  years 

"Then how do you know about it?"

"I did the documentation for the first manuals on EMP-T.  Nothing 
we got from the manufacturer was marked classified and we  didn't 
know or care."

"What was the Army going to do with them?" asked Tyrone, now with 
great interest.

"You  know, I had forgotten all about this stuff until the  other 
night,  and  then it all came back to me,"  Scott  said  mentally 
reminiscing.    "At the time we thought it was a  paranoid  joke. 
Another  government folly.  The EMP-T was supposed to be shot  at 
the  enemy  to screw up his battlefield computers and  radar  and 
electronics  before  the ground troops or helo's went it.   As  I 
understand  it, EMP-T bombs are made for planes, and can also  be 
launched from Howitzers and tanks.  According to the  manufactur-
er, they can't be detected and leave a similar signature to  that 
of  a conventional nuclear blast.  If there is such a thing as  a 
conventional nuke."

"Who else knows about this," Tyrone asked.  "The police?"

"You  think  the NYPD would know what to look  for?"  Scott  said 
snidely. "Their bomb squad went home after the plastic  explosive 
was found."

"Right.  Forget where I was."

"Think  about it," Scott mused out loud.  "A bomb  that  destroys 
all of the computers and memory but leaves the walls standing."

"Didn't that asshole Carter want to build a nuke that would  only 
kill people but leave the city intact for the marauding invaders?  
Neutron bombs, weren't they?" 

"There's obviously nothing immoral about nuking computers," Scott 
pontificated.  "It was all part of Star Wars.  Reagan's Strategic 
Defense  included  attacking enemy satellites with  EMP-T  bombs.  
Get  all  of the benefits and none of the fallout  from  a  nuke.  
There's no accompanying radiation."

"How easy is it to put one of the empty-things together?"  Tyrone 
missed another 49'er touchdown.  

"Today?"   Scott  whistled.   "The ones I saw  were  big,  clumsy 
affairs  from  the 70's.   With new ceramics, and such,  I  would 
assume  they're  a lot smaller as the Stock Exchange  proves.   A 
wild guess?  I bet that EMP-T is a garage project for a couple of 
whiz  kids,  or if the government orders them, a  couple  hundred 
thou  each."  Scott laughed at the absurdity of competitive  bid-
ding for government projects.   Everyone knew the government paid 
more for everything.  They would do a lot better with a VISA card 
at K-Mart.

"I think I better take a look,"  Tyrone hinted.

"I thought you would, buddy.  Thought you would."  Scott replied. 

They  returned to the game 12 seconds before half time.  The  gun 
went  off.   Perfect timing.  Scott hated  football.    The  only 
reason  in  his mind for the existence of the Super Bowl  was  to 
drink beer with friends and watch the commercials.

"Shit," declared Tyrone. "I missed the whole damned second  quar-
ter."  He grabbed another beer to comfort his disappointment.

"Hey," Scott called to Tyrone.  "During the next half, I want  to 
ask you something."  

Tyrone  came back into the Music Room snickering. "What the  hell 
is that in your bathroom?" 

"Isn't that great?" asked the enthused Scott.  "It's an automatic 
toilet seat."

"Now just what the devil is an automatic toilet seat? It pulls it 
out  and dries it off for you?"  He believed that Scott was  kid-
ding with some of his half baked inventions.  That Scott subject-
ed any of his guests to their intermittent functioning was  cruel 
and inhuman punishment according to Tyrone.

"You're  married  with girls.  Aren't they always  on  your  case 
about the toilet seat?"

"I've  been married 26 years," Tyrone said with pride.   "I  con-
quered toilet seats on our honeymoon.  She let me know right then 
that she was boss and what the price of noncompliance was."

"Ouch, that's not fair," Scott said in sympathy. "I  sleep-piss." 
He  held  his hands out in front.  "That's the only  side  effect 
from too much acid.  Sleep pissing."

Tyrone scrunched his face in disgust.  

Scott spoke rapidly and loudly. "So for those of us who forget to 
lower the seat after use, for those who forget to raise the seat; 
for  those who forget to raise the lid, Auto-Shit." Ty had  tried 
to  ignore  him,  but Scott's imitation of  a  hyperactive  cable 
shopping  network host demanded that one at least hear  him  out.  
Ty's eyes teared. 

"Make that woman in your life happy today.  No more mess, fuss or 
or  morning arguments.  No more complaints from the neighbors  or 
the  health department.  Auto-Shit.  The toilet that  knows  your 
needs.   The  seat for the rest of us.  Available in  6  designer 
colors.  Only  $49.95, Mastercard, VISA, No COD.   Operators  are 
standing by."

Tyrone  fell  over on his side laughing.  "You  are  crazy,  man.  
Sleep pissing.  And, if you don't know it, no one, I mean no  one 
in  his right mind has five trash compactors."  Tyrone waved  his 
hand at Scott. "Ask me what you were gonna ask me."

"Off  the  record, Ty," Scott started, "how're the  feds  viewing 
this mess?"

Tyrone  hated the position he was in, but Scott had given  him  a 
ltoe recently.  It was time to reciprocate.  


"So  far  off, so far off that if you turned the  light  "On"  it 
would still be off."

"It's  a fucking mess," Tyrone said quickly.  He was relieved  to 
be able to talk about it.  "You can't believe it.  I'm down there 
to watch a crisis management team in action, but what do I find?"  
He  shook his head.  "They're still trying to decide on the  size 
of  the  conference table."  The reference  caught  Scott's  ear.  
"No, it's not that bad, but it might as well be."

"How is this ECCO thing put together?  Who's responsible?"

"Responsible?  Ha! No one," Tyrone chuckled as he  recounted  the 
constant  battles among the represented agencies.  "This  is  the 
perfect  bureaucratic solution.  No one is responsible for  shit, 
no  one is accountable, but they all want to run the show.   And, 
no one agency clearly has authority.  It's a fucking disaster."

"No  one  runs security?  In the whole government,  no  one  runs 

"That's pushing it a little, but not too far off base."

"Oh,  I gotta hear this," Scott said reclining in the deep  plush 
cloth covered couch.  

"Once  upon a time, a super secret agency, no one ever spoke  the 
initials,  but it begins with the National Security  Agency,  got 
elected  by the Department of Defense to work out  communications 
security during the Cold War. They took their job very seriously.  

"Then along came NIST and IBM who developed DES.  The DOD  formed 
the  Computer Security Initiative and then the Computer  Security 
Evaluation Center.  The DOD CSEC became the DOD Computer Security 
and then after NSA realized that everybody knew who they were, it 
became the NCSC. Following this?"

Scott nodded only not to disrupt the flow.

"Ok,  in  1977, Carter signed a bill that said to NSA,  you  take 
over  the  classified national security stuff, but  he  gave  the 
dregs,  the unclassified stuff to the NTIA, a piece of  Commerce.  
But  that  bill made a lot of people unhappy.   So,  along  comes 
Reagan  who  says, no that's wrong, before we get  anything  con-
structive  done, let me issue a Directive, number 145,  and  give 
everything back to NSA.  

"That  pissed off even more people and Congress then  passed  the 
Computer  Security Act of 1987, stripped NSA of what it  had  and 
gave  NIST the unclassified stuff.  As a result, NSA  closed  the 
NCSC, NIST is underbudgeted by a factor of 100 and in short, they 
all  want a piece of a very small pie.  That took over  4  years.  
And that's whose fault it is.


"Congress  of  course.  Congress passes the damn  laws  and  then 
won't fund them.  Result? I get stuck in the middle of third tier 
rival  agency  technocrats fighting over their turf  or  shirking 
responsibility, and well , you get the idea.  So I've got ECCO to 
talk  to CERT to talk to NIST to talk to . . .and it goes  on  ad 

"Sorry I asked," joked Scott.

"In other words," Ty admitted, "I don't have the first foggy idea 
what  we'll  do.   They all seem hell bent on  power  instead  of 
fixing the problem. And the scary part?"

"What's that?"

"It looks like it can only get worse."

* * * * *

     Tuesday, November 11
     White House Press Room

"Mr.  President,"  asked the White House correspondent  for  Time 
magazine.   "A  recent article in the City Times  said  that  the 
military has been hiding a super weapon for years that is capable 
of  disabling enemy computers and electronics from a  great  dis-
tance  without any physical destruction.  Is that true, sir,  and 
has  the use of those weapons contributed to the military's  suc-
cesses over the last few years?"

"Ah,  well," the President hesitated briefly.  "The Stealth  pro-
gram  was certainly a boon to our air superiority.  There  is  no 
question  about  that, and it was kept secret for a  decade."  He 
stared to his left,  and the press pool saw him take a visual cue 
from  his National Security Director.  "Isn't that right  Henry?"  
Henry  Kennedy  nodded  aggressively.  "We have  the  best  armed 
forces  in  the world, with all the advantages we  can  bring  to 
bear,  and I will not compromise them in any way.  But, if  there 
is  such  a classified program that I was aware  of,  I  couldn't 
speak  of  it even if I didn't know it existed."   The  President 
picked another newsman.  "Next, yes, Jim?"

During  the next question Henry Kennedy slipped off to the  ante-
room  and  called the Director of the National  Security  Agency.  
"Marv,  how far have you gotten on this EMP-T thing?"  He  waited 
for a response.  "The President is feeling embarrassed."  Another 
pause.  "So  the Exchange is cooperating?"  Pause.   Wait.   "How 
many  pieces  are  missing?"  Pause.  "That's  not  what  Mason's 
article said."  Longer pause.  "Deal with it."

Immediately  after  the  press conference,  the  President,  Phil 
Musgrave, his Chief of Staff, Henry Kennedy and Quinton  Chambers  
his old time ally and Secretary of State had an impromptu meeting 
in the Oval Office.  

They sat in the formal Queen Anne furniture as an elegant  silver 
coffee  and tea service was brought in for the five  men.   Minus 
Treasury  Secreatry Martin Royce, this was the  President'  inner 
circle, his personal advisory clique who assisted in making grand 
national  policy.   Anything goes in one of these  sessions,  the 
President had made clear in the first days of his Administration.  

We do not take things personally here, he would say.  We have  to 
explore all options.  All options.  Even if they are distasteful.  
And in these meeting, treat me like one of the guys.  "Yes,  sir,  
Mr.  President."   The only formality of their caucuses  was  the 
President's  fundamental  need to mediate  the  sometimes  heated 
dialogues  between  his  most  trusted  aids.   They  were   real 

"Henry,"  the  President said.  "Before we start,  who  was  that 
reporter?   Where  the hell did that question come up  about  the 
weapon stuff?" 

"Forget  him. The story started at the City Times.  Scott  Mason, 
sir."   Musgrave replied quickly. His huge football center  sized 
body  overwhelmed the couch on which he sat.  "He's  been  giving 
extensive coverage to computer crime."

"Well, do we have such a bomb?" he asked with real curiosity.

"Ah, yessir," Henry Kennedy responded.  "It's highly  classified.  
But  the  object is simple.  Lob in a few of the EMP-T  bombs  as 
they're  called, shut down their communications and control,  and 
move in during the confusion.  Very effective, sir."

"Well,  let's see what we can do about keeping secrets  a  little 
better. O.K., boys?"  The President's charismatic hold over  even 
his  dear  friends and long time associates made him one  of  the 
most  effective  leaders  in years.  If he was  given  the  right 

The President scanned a few notes he had made on a legal pad.  

"Can I forget about it?"  the President closely scrutinized Henry 
for any body language.


The  President  gave Henry one more glance and  made  an  obvious 
point of highlighting the item.  The subject would come up again.


                    Chapter 12

     Thursday, November 14
     NASA Control Center, Johnson Space Center

The voice of Mission Control spoke over the loudspeakers and into 
hundreds of headsets.


The  Space  Shuttle Columbia was on Launch Pad 3,  in  its  final 
preparation  for  another secret mission.  As was  expected,  the 
Department  of Defense issued a terse non-statement on  its  pur-
pose: "The Columbia is carrying a classified payload will be used 
for  a  series of experiments.  The flight is scheduled  to  last 
three days."

In reality, and most everyone knew it, the Columbia was going  to 
release  another KH-5 spy satellite.  The KH-5 series  was  able, 
from  an altitude of 110 miles, to discern and transmit to  Earth 
photos  so crisp, it could resolve the numbers on  an  automobile 
license  plate.   The photographic resolution of KH-5's  was  the 
envy  of every government on the planet, and was one of the  most 
closely guarded secrets that everyone knew about.


Mission control specialists at the Cape and in Houston  monitored 
every  conceivable  instrument on the Shuttle itself and  on  the 
ground equipment that made space flight possible.

A  cavernous room full of technicians checked and double  checked 
and  triple checked fuel, temperature, guidance,  computers  sys-
tems,  backup  systems, relays, switches,  communications  links, 
telemetry,  gyros,  the  astronauts'  physiology,  life   support 
systems,  power  supplies . . .everything had  a  remote  control 

"The liquid hydrogen replenish has been terminated, LSU pressuri-
zation  to flight level now under way.  Vehicle is  now  isolated 
from ground loading  equipment."


"SRB  and external tank safety devices have been  armed.  Inhibit 
remains  in place until T-Minus 10 seconds when the range  safety 
destruct system is activated."

The  Mission Control Room had an immense map of the world  spread 
across its 140  feet breadth. It showed the actual and  projected 
trajectories  of the Shuttle.  Along both sides of the  map  were 
several  large rear projection video screens. They displayed  the 
various  camera  angles of the launch pad, the  interior  of  the 
Shuttle's  cargo  hold, the cockpit itself and an  assortment  of 
other  shots that the scientists deemed important to the  success 
of each flight.


"At the T-Minus one minute mark, the ground launch sequencer will 
verify that the main shuttle engines are ready to start."


"Liquid hydrogen tanks now reported at flight pressure."

The  data  monitors scrolled charts and numbers.   The  computers 
spewed  out  their  data, updating it every few  seconds  as  the 
screens flickered with the changing information.


The  Voice of Mission Control continued its  monotone  countdown.  
Every airline passenger is familiar with the neo-Texas twang that 
conveys sublime confidence, even in the tensest of situations.

The  Count-down  monitor  above the global  map  decremented  its 
numbers  by the hundredths of seconds, impossible for a human  to 
read but terribly inaccurate by computer standards.

"Coming up on T-Minus one minute and counting."


"Pressure systems now armed, lift off order  will be released  at 
T-Minus 16 seconds."

The voice traffic became chaotic.  Hundreds of voices give  their 
consent  that their particular areas of responsibility are  ship- 
shape.  The word nominal sounds to laymen watching the world over 
as a classic understatement.  If things are great, then say 'Fuel 
is  Great!'  NASA prefers the word Nominal to indicate that  sys-
tems  are performing as the design engineers predicted  in  their 
simulation models.


The  hoses  that connect the Shuttle to the Launch Pad  began  to 
fall away.  Whirls of steam and smoke appeared around portions of 
the boosters.  The tension was high.  45 seconds to go.

"SRB flight instrumentation recorders now going to record."

Eyes riveted to computer screens.  It takes hundreds of computers 
to make a successful launch.  Only the mission generalists  watch 
over  the big picture; the screens across the front of the  behe-
moth 80 foot high room.


"External tank heaters now turned off in preparation for launch."

Screens danced while minds focused on their jobs.  It wasn't until 
there were only 34 seconds left on the count down clock that anyone 
The main systems display monitor, the one that contained the sum of 
all other systems information displayed a message never seen before 
by anyone at NASA.


"We have a go for auto sequence start. Columbia's forward comput-
ers now taking over primary control of critical vehicle functions 
through lift-off."


"What the hell is that?"  Mission Specialist Hawkins said to  the 
technician  who was monitoring the auto-correlation noise  reduc-
tion  systems needed to communicate with the astronauts  once  in 


"What?"  Sam Broadbent took off his earpiece.


"Look at that." Hawkins pointed at the central monitor.


"What does that mean, it's not in the book?"


"I  dunno.  No chances though."  Hawkins  switched  his  intercom 
selector  to 'ALL', meaning that everyone on line, including  the 
Mission Control Director would hear.


"We have an anomaly here . . ." Hawkins said into his mouthpiece.


"Specify anomaly, comm," The dry voice returned.  Hawkins  wasn't 
quite  sure  how to respond.  The practice runs had  not  covered 
this eventuality.


"Look  up  at Video 6. Switching over." Hawkins tried  to  remain 


"Copy comm. Do you contain?"


"Negative Mission Control. It's an override." Hawkins answered.


The  voice of Mission Control annoyed Hawkins for the first  time 
in his 8 years at NASA.

"Confirm and update."


Hawkins blew his cool. "Look at the goddamned monitor for  Chris-
sakes.  Just look!" He yelled into the intercom.


"Holy . . .who's . . .please confirm, local analysis," the  sober 
voice sounded concerned for the first time.


"Confirmed  anomaly."  "Confirmed."   "Confirmed."   "Confirmed."  
The votes streamed in.


"We have a confirm . . ."



"We have a go for main engine start."




"We have a main engine start . . .we  have a cut off."

"Columbia, we have a monitor anomaly, holding at T-minus 5."

"That's a Roger, Houston,"  the commander of Space Shuttle Colum-
bia responded calmly. 

"We  have a manual abort override. Columbia's on board  computers 
confirm the cut-off.  Can you verify, Columbia?"

"That's a Roger."

The  huge  block  letter message continued to  blaze  across  the 
monitors.   Craig Volker spoke rapidly into his  master  intercom 
system. "Cut network feed.  Cut direct feed. Cut now! Now!"   All 
TV  networks suddenly lost their signal that was  routed  through 
NASA's huge video switches.  NASA's own satellite feed was simul-
taneously cut as well. If NASA didn't want it going to the public 
it didn't get sent. 

CNN got the first interview with NASA officials.

"What caused today's flight to be aborted?"

"We  detected a slight leak in the fuel tanks.  We  believe  that 
the  sensors were faulty, that there was no leak, but we felt  in 
the  interest  of safety it would be best to abort  the  mission.  
Orbital  alignment is not critical and we can attempt a  relaunch 
within 2 weeks.  When we know more we will make further  informa-
tion available."  The NASA spokesman left abruptly.

The CNN newsman continued.  "According to NASA, a  malfunctioning 
fuel  monitor  was the cause of today's aborted  shuttle  launch. 
However,  several seconds before the announced abort, our   video 
signal  was  cut  by NASA.  Here is a replay  of  that  countdown 

CNN  technicians  replayed one of their video tapes.   The  video 
monitors within Mission Control were not clear on the replay. But 
the  audio  was. "Look at the goddamned monitor  for  Chrissakes. 
Just look."  Then the video went dead.

* * * * *

Steve  Billings received an urgent message on his  computer's  E- 
Mail when he got home from classes.  All it said was 


He dialed NEMO directly this time.  


He  chose  CONVERSATION PIT from the menu.  La Creme  was  there, 
alone and probably waiting.

What's the panic?


Just finished exams . . .been locked up in student hell . . .


So?  More Beckel fuel problems I s'pose.


From aliens? SETI finally came through?




Get real . . .


I don't get it.


Sure I do.  Poke and Play.  I'm not alone.


Never. It's against the Code.


What are getting at?


Fuck, no.  You know better than that.


Hey . . .thanks for the vote of confidence.


I don't know.  That's sick.


Damn. Better get clean.


Nah.  They're security is for shit.  No nothing.  Besides, I  get 
in as SYSOP.  I can erase my own tracks.


I'm not going back, not for a while. 


Can't blame 'em. What d'you suggest?  I'm clean, really.


I hope so . . .

* * * * *

     Friday, November 15
     New York City Times

     by Scott Mason

NASA  canceled the liftoff of the space shuttle Columbia  yester-
day,  only 15 seconds prior to liftoff.  Delays in  the  troubled 
shuttle program are nothing new.  It seems that just about every-
thing  that can go wrong has gone wrong  in the last  few  years.  
We watch fuel tanks leak, backup computers go bad, life   support 
systems malfunction and suffer through a complete range of incom-
prehensible defects in the multi-billion dollar space program.  

We got to the moon in one piece, but the politics of the  Shuttle 
Program is overwhelming.

Remember what Senator John Glenn said during his historic 3 orbit 
mission in the early days of the Mercury Program.  "It worries me 
some.  To think that I'm flying around up here in a machine built 
by the lowest bidder."

At the time, when the space program had the support of the  coun-
try  from the guidance of the young Kennedy and from the fear  of 
the  Soviet  lead,  Glenn's comment was meant  to  alleviate  the 
tension.   Successfully, at that.  But since the Apollo fire  and 
the  Challenger disaster, and an all too wide array  of  constant 
technical  problems, political will is waning. The  entire  space 
program suffers as a result.

Yesterday's aborted launch echoes of further bungling.  While the 
management  of NASA is undergoing critical review, and  executive 
replacements seem imminent, the new breed will have to live  with 
past  mistakes for some time.  Unfortunately, most  Americans  no 
longer watch space launches, and those that do tune out once  the 
astronauts  are out of camera range.  The Space  Program  suffers 
from external malaise as well as internal confusion.  

That is, until yesterday.

In an unprecedented move, seconds after the countdown was halted, 
NASA  cut its feeds to the networks and all 4 channels were  left 
with the omnipresent long lens view of the space shuttle  sitting 
idle on its launch pad.  In a prepared statement, NASA blamed the 
aborted  flight  on yet another leak from the massive and  explo-
sive  355,000  gallon fuel tanks.  In what  will  clearly  become 
another  public  relations  fiasco, NASA lied to  us  again.   It 
appears that NASA's computers were invaded.

CNN  cooped the other three networks by applying advanced digital 
reconstruction  to  a few frames of video.  Before NASA  cut  the 
feed,  CNN was receiving pictures of the monitor walls from  Mis-
sion  Control in Houston, Texas.  Normally those banks  of  video 
monitors contain critical flight information, telemetry,  orbital 
paths and other data to insure the safety of the crew and machin-

Yesterday,  though, the video monitors carried a message  to  the 


This  was  the  message that NASA tried  to  hide  from  America.  
Despite the hallucinations of fringe groups who are  prophesizing 
imminent contact with an alien civilization, this message was not 
from  a large black monolith on the Moon or from the Red Spot  on 
Jupiter.  A Star Baby will not be born.

The  threatening  words came from a deranged  group  of  computer 
hackers who thought it would be great sport to endanger the lives 
of  our astronauts,  waste millions of taxpayer  dollars,  retard 
military  space missions and make a mockery of NASA.  After  con-
fronted  with the undisputed evidence that CNN presented to  NASA 
officials  within  hours of the attempted launch,  the  following 
statement was issued:

"The Space Shuttle Columbia flight performing a military mission, 
was aborted 5 seconds prior to lift-off.  First reports indicated 
that  the  reason was a minor leak in a  fuel  line.   Subsequent 
analysis showed, though, that the Side Band Communications  Moni-
toring System displayed remote entry anomalies inconsistent  with 
program  launch sequence.  Automatic system  response  mechanisms 
put the count-down on hold until it was determined that intermit-
tent  malfunctions could not be repaired without a launch  delay.  
The launch date has been put back until November 29."

Permit me to translate this piece of NASA-speak with the straight 

The anomaly they speak of euphemistically was simple:  A computer 
hacker, or hackers, got into the NASA computers and caused  those 
nauseating  words to appear on the screen.  The  implication  was 
obvious.   Their sickening  message was a distinct threat to  the 
safety of the mission and its crew.  So, rather than an  automat-
ic  systems shut-down, as the CNN tape so aptly  demonstrates,  a 
vigilant technician shouted, "Look at the g_______ed monitor  for 
Chrissakes! Just look!"

While  the  NASA computers failed to notice that  they  had  been 
invaded  from an outside source, their able staff prevented  what 
could have been another national tragedy.  Congratulations!

If computer hackers, those insidious little moles who secretively 
poke  through computer systems uninvited and unchecked,  are  the 
real  culprits as well placed NASA sources suggest, they need  to 
be  identified quickly, and be prosecuted to the  fullest  extent 
possible.   There are laws that have been broken.  Not  only  the 
laws regarding computer privacy, but legal experts say that cases 
can  be made for Conspiracy, Sedition, Blackmail,  Terrorism  and 

But, according to computer experts, the likelihood of ever  find-
ing  the interlopers is " . . .somewhere between never and  none.  
Unless  they left a trail, which good hackers don't, they'll  get 
away with this Scott free."

Hackers have caused constant trouble to computer systems over the 
years,  and  incidents have been increasing in  both  number  and 
severity.  This computer assault needs to be addressed immediate-
ly.  America insists on it.  Not only must the hacker responsible 
for this travesty be caught, but NASA must also explain how their 
computers  can be compromised so easily.  If a bunch of kids  can 
enter one NASA communications computer, then what stops them from 
altering flight computers, life support systems and other comput-
er controlled activities that demand perfect operation?

NASA, we expect an answer.

This  is Scott Mason, waiting for NASA to lift-off from its  duff 
and get down to business.

* * * * *

     Friday, November 15
     New York City.

Scott Mason picked up the phone on the first ring.

"Scott Mason," he said without thinking.

"Mr.  Mason?  This is Captain Kirk."  The voice was serious,  but 
did  not resonate as did the distinctive voice that  belonged  to 
William Shatner.  Scott laughed into the phone.

"Live long and prosper."  Mason replied in an emotionless voice.

"I need to talk to you,"  the voice came right back.

"So  talk."  Scott was used to anonymous callers so he  kept  the 
rhythm of the conversation going. 

"You have it all wrong.  Hackers aren't the ones." The voice  was 

"What are you talking about?"  Scott asked innocuously.

"Your articles keep saying that hackers cause all the trouble  on 
computers. You're wrong."  

"Says who?"  Scott decided to play along.

"Says me.  You obviously don't know about the Code."

"What code?" This was getting nowhere fast.

"Listen, I know your phone is tapped,  so I only have another few 
seconds.  Do you want  to talk?"

"Tapped?  What  is this all about?"  The annoyance was  clear  in 
Scott's voice.

"You keep blaming everything on hackers.  You're wrong."

"Prove it." Scott gave this phone call another 10 seconds.

"I've been inside the  NASA computers."

That  got  Scott to wake up from the droll papers  on  his  desk.  
"Are  you telling me you wrote the message  . . .?"  Scott  could 
not contain his incredulity.

"God,  no."  Captain  Kirk was firm. "Do you have  a  modem?   At 

"Yeah, so what."  Scott gave the caller only another 5 seconds.

"What's the number?"

"Is this love or hate?"  Time's up thought Scott.



"News.   Do I talk to you or the National Expos<130>?  I  figured 
you might be a safer bet."  The voice who called himself  Captain 
Kirk gave away nothing but the competitive threat was effective.

"No contest. If it's real. What have you got?"  Scott paid atten-

"What's the number?" the voice demanded. "Your modem."

"Ok!  914-555-2190." Scott gave his home modem number.

"Be on at midnight."  The line went dead.

Scott  briefly mentioned the matter to his editor, Doug,  who  in 
turn  gave  him a very hard time about it. "I  thought  you  said 
virus hacker connection was a big ho-hum.  As I recall, you  said 
they weren't sexy enough?  What happened?"  

"Eating  crow can be considered a delicacy if the main course  is 

"I see," laughed Doug.  Creative way out, he thought.  

"He said he'd been plowing around NASA computers," Scott argued.

"Listen,  ask your buddy Ben how many crackpots admit  to  crimes 
just for the attention.  It's crap."  Doug was too jaded, thought 

"No,  no,  it's legit," Scott said defensively.  "Sounds  like  a 
hacker conspiracy to me."  

"Legit?   Legit?" Doug laughed out loud.  "Your last column  just 
about  called for all computer junkies to be castrated and  drawn 
and  quartered  before they are hung at the stake.  And  now  you 
think  an  anonymous caller who  claims to be a  hacker,  is  for 
real?   C'mon, Scott.  You can't have  it both  ways.   Sometimes 
your conspiracies are bit far fetched . . ."

"And when we hit, it sells papers."  Scott reminded his boss that 
it was still a business.   

Nonetheless,  Doug made a point that hit home with Scott.   Could 
he  both  malign computer nerds as sub-human and then  expect  to 
derive a decent story from one of them?  There was an  inconsist-
ency  there.  Even  so, some pretty  despicable  characters  have 
turned  state's evidence and made decent witnesses against  their 
former  cohorts.  Had Captain Kirk really been where no  man  had 
been before?

"You  don't care if I dig a little?" Scott backed off and  played 
the humble reporter.

"It's  your  life."  That was Doug's way of saying, "I  told  you 
there was a story here. Run!"

"No  problem, chief."  Scott snapped to mock attention  and  left 
his editor's desk before Doug changed his mind.

* * * * *

     Scarsdale, New York

Scott  went  into his study to watch Nightline after  grabbing  a 
cold  beer and turned on the light over his computer.  His  study 
could by all standards be declared a disaster area, which his ex-
wife Maggie often did.  In addition to the formal desk, 3 folding 
tables  were piled high with newspapers, loose clippings,  books, 
scattered notes, folders, magazines, and crumpled up paper  balls 
on  the  floor.   The maid had refused to clean the  room  for  6 
months since he blamed her for disposing of important notes  that 
he had filed on the floor.  They were back on good terms, he  had 
apologized, but his study was a no-man's, or no maid's land.

Scott  battled  to  clear a place for his beer  as  his  computer 
booted up.  Since he primarily used his computer for writing,  it 
wasn't  terribly  powerful by today's standards.   A  mere  386SX 
running  at  20 megahertz and comparatively  low  resolution  VGA 
color  graphics. It was all he needed.  He had a modem in  it  to 
connect  to  the paper's computer. This way he  could  leave  the 
office  early,  write his articles or columns at home  and  still 
have  them in by deadline.  He also owned a GRiD 386 laptop  com-
puter for when he traveled, but it was buried beneath a mound  of 
discarded  magazines  on  one of the built-in  floor  to  ceiling 
shelves that ringed the room.

Scott wondered if Kirk would really call.  He had seemed paranoid 
when he called this afternoon.  Phones tapped?  Where did he ever 
get  that idea? Preposterous.  Why wouldn't his phone at home  be 
tapped if the ones at  work were?  We'll see.

Scott  turned  the old 9" color television on the corner  of  the 
desk to Nightline. Enough to occupy him even if Kirk didn't call.  

He  set  the ComPro communications program  to  Auto-Answer.   If 
Kirk, or anyone else did call him, the program would automatical-
ly answer the phone and his computer would alert him that someone 
else's computer had called his computer.

He noticed the clock chime midnight as Nightline went overtime to 
further  discuss the new Soviet Union.  Fascinating, he  thought.  
I  grow up in the 60's and 70's when we give serious  concern  to 
blowing up the world and today our allies of a half century  ago, 
turned Cold War enemy, are talking about joining NATO.  

At  12:02,  Scott Mason's computer beeped at  him.   The  beeping 
startled him.

He looked  at the computer screen as a first message appeared.


Scott  didn't  know what to make of it, so he  entered  a  simple 


The computer screen paused briefly then came alive again.


Scott entered 'Yes'.


Scott wondered what the proper answer was to a non-question by  a 
computer.  So he retyped in his earlier greeting.

Hello.   Again.


What a question! Scott answered quickly.

Please be gentle. 


I call the computer at work.  First time with a stranger.  Is  it 

Scott  had a gestalt realization.  This was fun.  He didn't  talk 
to the paper's computer.  He treated it as an electronic mailbox. 
But this, there was an attractiveness to the anonymity behind the 
game.   Even  if this Kirk was a flaming asshole, he  might  have 
discovered a new form of entertainment.


Not too quick, sweetheart.




Kirk, or whoever this was, was comfortable with anonymity,  obvi-
ously.  And paranoid. Sure, play the game.

You screwed up the NASA launch. 

I DID NOT!!!!!!!!!!  OK, IT'S YOU.

Glad to know it.


What do I have wrong?


You called me, remember?


Sure, I think. 


That's what I've been saying


A  guy who pokes his nose around where it's not wanted.  Like  in 
NASA computers.


So, change my mind.


You still haven't told me what you think a hacker is.


A Ham.


In my day it was a sliderule, and we called them propeller heads.


A fly boy, space jockey.


A grease monkey


Fucking crazy!!!!


Ok,  let's  accept  that for now.  What about  those  stories  of 
hackers  running around inside of everybody else's computers  and 
making  computer viruses and all.  Morris and Chase were  hackers 
who caused a bunch of damage.  


Wait  a minute.  You first say that hackers are the guys  in  the 
white hats and then you admit that you are one of those  criminal  
types who invades the privacy of others.  


Why?  For the thrill?


That's a line of crap.


So you admit hacking is a crime?


You made that up.


How is it different?  


What about theft of service?


Breaking and entering.


But, you have to admit, you are doing it without permission.


Aw, come on.


Nice place to make a home. 


That's crazy.


I  guess  the police would figure me for a  blithering  idiot,  a 
candidate for the funny farm, and my insurance company might have 
reason not to pay me after they canceled me.  So what?


It  can't be that simple.  No one would leave keys  lying  around 
for hackers.


If what you're saying is true . . .


I  don't know if I buy this.  But, for now, I'll put that  aside. 
So, where do these hacker horrors come from?


Not many I guess.


That's impossible.  


Why should I believe that?


Throw me off the track.


By the way, what's your name.


No, really.


How can I call you?


Handle? Like CB?  Never had one.


Been called worse.  How about Spook?  That's what I'm doing.


What do you mean we?


repo man


I  suspect that hackers are up to no good.


Got me.  You're right, that's what the public buys.  But not  all 
news is bad.


At least we don't do the crime, just report it.  What about these 
viruses.  I suppose hackers are innocent of that too.


You keep mentioning this code.  What is the code?


That's it?


So,  you said earlier that you poke around NASA  computers.   And 
NASA just had a pretty good glitch that rings of hackers.   Some-
one broke the code.


Why  would  they?  Isn't that a sure giveaway and a trip  up  the 




And then gets caught, right?


So it was you?


Uh . . .


I'm thinking.


The police, NASA, 


That you did it.


Good point.  Who are you?


I don't know if I buy everything you say, but it is something  to 
think about.  So what about the NASA thing.


You mean, I gather, nobody has owned up to it.


How can I describe you?  If I wanted to use you in an article.


Sounds like a Letter to Penthouse Forum.


If you've done nothing wrong, why not come forward?


What time is  it?


Arrange a trip?  Travel agent on the side.


Let's say I am.




                    Chapter 13

     Wednesday,  November 25
     By Scott Mason

As  most of my readers know by now, I have an inherent  suspicion 
of  lame excuses for bureaucratic bungling.  If any of  you  were 
unable to make a long distance phone call yesterday, you  weren't 

AT&T, the long distance carrier that provides the best  telephone 
service  in  the world, handles in excess  of  100,000,000  calls 
daily.   Yesterday, less than 25% got through.  Why?   There  are 
two  possible  answers:  AT&T's official  response  and  another, 
equally  plausible and certainly more sinister reason  that  many 
experts claim to be the real culprit.  

According  to  an AT&T spokesperson from its Basking  Ridge,  New 
Jersey  office,  "In  my 20 years with AT&T, I have  not  seen  a 
crisis  so dramatic that it nearly shut down  operations  nation-
wide."   According  to insiders, AT&T came close to  declaring  a 
national emergency and asking for Federal assistance.

Airlines  and  hotel  reservation services  reported  that  phone 
traffic was down between 65-90%! Telemarketing organizations said 
that sales were off by over 80%.  

Perhaps  an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of  a 
phone call is in order.

When you pick up your phone, you hear a dial tone that is provid-
ed  by the Local Exchange Company, or as more commonly called,  a 
Baby Bell.  The LEC handles all local calls within certain  dial-
ing  ranges.  A long distance call is switched by the LEC to  the 
4ESS, a miracle of modern communications.  There are 114 Number 4 
and 5 Electronic Switching Systems used in all major AT&T switch-
ing  offices  across the country. (A few rural  areas  still  use 
relays and mechanical switches over 40 years old.  When it rains, 
the relays get sticky and so does the call.)

Now  here's the invisible beauty.  There are 14  direct  connects 
between each of the 114 4ESS's and every other 4ESS, each capable 
of handling thousands of call at once. So, rarely do we ever  get 
a  long distance busy signal.  The systems automatically  reroute 

The 4ESS then calls its own STP, Signal Transfer Point within  an 
SS7 network.  The SS7 network determines from which phone  number 
the call originated and its destination. (More about that later!)  
It sends out an  IAM, Initial Address Message, to the destination 
4ESS switch and determines if a line is available to complete the 
call.   The  SS7 is so powerful it can actually create  up  to  7 
additional virtual paths for the heaviest traffic.  800  numbers, 
Dial  a Porn 900 numbers and other specially coded phone  numbers 
are translated through the NCP( Network Control Point) and routed 
separately.  Whew! Had enough?  So have I.

The  point is, massive computer switches all across  our  nations 
automatically  select  the routing for each call.   A  call  from 
Miami  to  New York could be sent through 4ESS's in  Dallas,  Los 
Angeles  and  Chicago before reaching its  ultimate  destination.  
But what happened yesterday?

It seems that the switches got real stupid and slowed down.   For 
those  readers who recall the Internet Worm in November  of  1988 
and  the  phone system slowdown in early 1990 and then  again  in 
1991, computers can be infected with errors, either  accidentally 
or otherwise, and forced to misbehave.  

AT&T's explanation is not satisfying for those who remember  that 
AT&T had said, "it can never happen again."

Today's official explanation is; "A minor hardware problem in one 
of  our New York City 4ESS switches caused a cascading of similar 
hardware failures throughout the network.  From all  appearances, 
a  faulty piece of software in the SS7 networks was the  culprit.  
Our  engineers  are studying the problem and  expect  a  solution 
shortly.   We are sorry for any inconvenience to our valued  cus-

I agree with AT&T on one aspect: it was a software problem.

According  to well placed sources who asked to remain  anonymous, 
the  software problems were intentionally introduced into  AT&T's 
long  distance computers, by person or persons yet to be  identi-
fied.  They went on to say that internal investigation teams have 
been  assigned to find out who and how the "bug" was  introduced.  
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, AT&T is expected, 
they  say,  to maintain the cover of a hardware  failure  at  the 
request of the public relations Vice President.

AT&T  did,  to their credit, get long distance  services  up  and 
running at 11:30 P.M. last night, only 9 hours after the  problem 
first  showed up.  They re-installed  an older SS7 software  ver-
sion that is widely known to contain some "operational anomalies" 
according  to  the company; but they still feel that it  is  more 
reliable than what is currently in use.

If,  in  fact the biggest busy signal in history  was  caused  by 
intruders  into the world's largest communications systems,  then 
we  need to ask ourselves a few questions.  Was yesterday a  sym-
bolic  choice of dates for disaster or mere  coincidence?   Would 
the damage have been greater on a busier business day?  Could  it 
affect our defense systems and the government's ability to commu-
nicate  in case of emergency?  How did someone,  or  some  group, 
get  into AT&T's computers and effect an entire nation's  ability 
to  do  business?   And then, was there  a  political  motivation 
sufficient to justify am attack om AT&T and not on Sprint or MCI?

Perhaps  the most salient question we all are  asking  ourselves, 
is, When will it happen again? 

This is Scott Mason, busy, busy, busy.  Tomorrow; is Big  Brother 

* * * * *

     Friday, November 27
     Times Square, New York

The  pre-winter overnight snow-storm in New York City  turned  to 
sleet  and ice as the temperature dropped.  That didn't stop  the 
traffic though.  Hundreds of thousands of cars still crawled into 
Manhattan  to  insure  downtown gridlock.  If  the  streets  were 
drivable, the city wouldn't stop. Not for a mere ice storm. 

Steam  poured from subway grates and manhole covers as rush  hour 
pedestrians  huddled  from the cold winds, tromping  through  the 
grimy snow on the streets and sidewalks.

The  traffic  on  42nd street was at a near  standstill  and  the 
intersection  at Broadway and 7th Avenues where the Dow  Chemical 
Building  stood was unusually bad.  Taxis and busses  and  trucks 
and cars all fought for space to move.  

As  the  southbound light on 7th turned green, a dark  blue  Ford 
Econoline  van screeched forward and cut off two taxis to make  a 
highly illegal left turn.  It curved too quickly and too  sharply 
for  the dangerously icy conditions and began to slide  sideways. 
The driver turned the wheel hard to the left, against the  slide, 
compensating  in the wrong direction and then he slammed  on  the 
brakes.   The van continued to slide to the right as it  careened 
toward the sidewalk. The van rotated and headed backwards at  the 
throngs  of  pedestrians.  They didn't notice until  it  was  too 

The van spun around again and crashed through a McDonald's window 
into  the dense breakfast crowds.  As it crushed several  patrons 
into the counter, the van stopped, suddenly propelling the driver 
through the windshield into the side of the  yogurt machine.  His 
neck was broken instantly.

Getting  emergency vehicles to Times Square during the A.M.  rush 
hour  is  in  itself a lesson in futility.  Given  that  17  were 
pronounced dead on the scene and another 50 or more were injured, 
the task this Monday morning was damned near impossible.

City-ites come together in a crisis, and until enough  paramedics 
arrived, people from all walks of life  tended to the wounded and 
respectfully  covered those beyond help.  Executives in  3  piece 
suits  worked with 7th avenue delivery boys in  harmony.   Secre-
taries  lay their expensive furs on the slushy street as  pallets 
for the victims.

It was over two hours before all the wounded were transferred  to 
local  hospitals and the morgue was close to finishing its  clean 
up  efforts.  Lt. Mel Kavitz, 53rd. Precinct, Midtown South  NYPD 
made it to the scene as the more grisly pieces were put away.  He 
spoke  to a couple of officers who had interviewed witnesses  and 
survivors.   The  media were already there adding to  the  frigid 
chaos.   Two of the local New York TV stations were  broadcasting 
live,  searching out sound-bytes for the evening news and  all  3 
dailies  had reporters looking for quotable quotes.  Out  of  the 
necessity  created  by such disasters, the police  had  developed 
immunity to the media circus.

"That's  it lieutenant.  Seems the van made a screwball turn  and 
lost  control."   The young clean-shaven patrolman  shrugged  his 
shoulders.  Only 27, he had still been on the streets long enough 
not to let much bother him.

"Who's the driver?"  Lt. Kavitz scanned the scene.

"It's a foreign national, one . . .ah . . .Jesef Mumballa. Second 
year engineering student at Columbia."  The young cop looked down 
and spoke quietly. "He didn't make it."

"I'm  not surprised.  Look at this mess." The Lieutenant took  it  
in  stride. "Just what McDonalds needs.  Another  massacre.  Any-
thing on him?"  Kavitz asked half suspecting, half hoping.

"Clean. As clean as rag head can be."

"Ok, that's enough. What about the van?"

"The van?"

"The  van!"  Kavitz said pointedly at the  patrolman.  "The  van! 
What's in it? Has anybody looked?"  

"Uh  . . .no sir.  We've been working with the injured .  .  .I'm 
sure you . . ."

"Of course.  I'm sorry." Kavitz waved off the explanation.  "Must 
have  been  pretty rough." He looked around and shook  his  head.  
"Anything else officer?"

"No  sir,  that's about it.  We still don't have an  exact  count 

"It'll  come soon enough.  Soon enough."  Kavitz left  the  young 
patrolman  and  walked into the bloodbath, pausing  only  briefly 
before opening the driver's side door. "Let's see what's in  this 

* * * * *

"D'y'hear  about the mess over at Times Square?"  Ben  Shellhorne 
walked up to Scott Mason's desk at the City Times.

"Yeah,  pretty  gruesome.   The Exchange .  .  .McDonald's.   You 
really  scrape the bottom, don't you?"  Scott grinned  devilishly 
at Ben.

"Maybe some guys do, not me."  Ben sat down next to Scott's desk.  
"But that's not the point. There's something else."

"What's that?"  Scott turned to Ben.

"The van."

"The van?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, the van.  The van that busted up the McBreakfast crowd."

"What about it?" 

Ben hurried. "Well, it was some sort of high tech lab on  wheels.  
Computers and radios and stuff.  Pretty wild."

"Why's  that so unusual?  Phone company, computer  repair  place, 
EPA monitors, could be anything." Scott seemed disinterested. 

"If  that were true, you're right.  But this was a  private  van, 
and there's no indication of what company it worked for. And  the 
driver's  dead.   Personal ID only.  No company, no  numbers,  no 
nothing, except this."

He  handed  a  sheaf  of  computer  printouts  to  Scott.   "Look 

Scott took the papers and perused them.  They were the same  kind 
that Scott had received from Vito, his unknown donor. These  were 
new  documents as far as Scott could tell - he  didn't  recognize 
them as part of his library.  They only contained some stock tips 
and  insider trading information from a leading Wall Street  bro-
kerage house. Pretty tame stuff. 

"These," Scott pointed at the papers, "these were in the van?"  

"That's what I said,"  Ben said triumphantly.

"How did you get them?" Scott pushed.

"I have a few friends on the force and, well, this is my beat you 
know.  Crime, disaster, murder, violence, crisis, death  and  de-
struction on the streets. Good promo stuff for the Big Apple."

"Are there any more?" Scott ignored Ben's self pity. 

"My  guy  said there were so many that a few  wouldn't  make  any 

"Holy Christ!" Scott said aloud as he sat back in thought.

"What is it? Scott?  Does this mean something?"

"Can I have these, Ben?  Do you need them?"

"Nah!  There's  no  blood on 'em?  Not my kinda  story.   I  just 
remembered  that secret papers and computers are your  thing,  so 
they're yours."  Ben stood up. "Just remember, next time you hear 
about a serial killer, it's mine."  

"Deal.  And, hey, thanks a lot.  Drinks on me."  Scott caught Ben 
before he left. "Ben, one more thing."

"Yeah?"  Ben stopped.

"Can  you  get  me into that van.  Just to look  around?  Not  to 
touch, just to look?"  Scott would have given himself a vasectomy 
with a weed eater to have a look.  This was his first solid  lead 
on  the source of the mysterious and valuable documents  that  he 
had  stymied  him  for so long.  He had been  unable  to  publish 
anything  significant  due to lack of confirming  evidence.   Any 
lead was good lead, he thought.  

"It may cost another favor, but  sure what the fuck.  I'll set it 
up.   Call  you."  Ben waved as he walked off  leaving  Scott  to 
ponder the latest developments. 

* * * * * 

The  interior of the dark blue Ford Econoline van was not in  bad 
shape  since the equipment was bolted into place.   The  exterior 
though  was  thoroughly trashed, with too many blood  stains  for 
Scott  to stomach.  It was a bad wreak, even for the  Police  Im-

While  Ben kept his cooperative keeper of the peace occupied,  he 
signaled  to Scott that he would only have a minute,  so  please, 
make it quick.  

Scott  entered the van with all his senses peaked.  He wanted  to 
take  mental pictures and get as much detail as he  could.   Both 
sides  of  the  van contained steel shelving, with  an  array  of 
equipment  bolted firmly in place.  It was an odd  assortment  of 
electronics, noticed Scott.  There were 2 IBM personal  computers 
with  large WYSIWYG monitors. What You See Is What You Get  moni-
tors were generally used for intensive word processing or desktop 
publishing.  In a van? Odd.

A digital oscilloscope and waveform monitor were stacked over one 
of the computers.  Test equipment and no hand tools?  No  answer. 
Over  the other computer sat a small black and  white  television 
and a larger color television monitor.  Two cellular phones  were 
mounted  behind the drivers seat.  Strange combination.  Then  he 
noticed what appeared to be a miniature satellite dish, only 8 or 
so  inches across.  He recognized it as a  parabolic  microphone.  
Aha!  That's  it.  Some sort  of spy type  surveillance  vehicle.  
Tracking  drug dealers and assorted low lifes.  But, a  privately 
registered vehicle, no sign of any official affiliations to known 
enforcement agencies?

Scott felt his minute was gone in a only few seconds. 

"Well,  you find what you're looking for?" Ben asked Scott  after 
they  had left the police garage grounds overlooking  the  Hudson 

Scott  looked puzzled. "It's more like by not finding anything  I 
eliminated what it's not."

Ben  scowled. "Hey riddle man, back to earth.  Was it a waste  or 

"Far from it." Scott's far away glaze disappeared as his personal 
Eureka! set in.  "I think I may have stumbled, sorry, you,  stum-
bled  onto to something that will begin to put several pieces  in 
place  for  me. And if I'm right, even a little bit  right,  holy 
shit.  I mean, hoooolly shit."  

"Clue  me  in, man.  What's the skinny. You got  Pulitzer  eyes."  
Ben tried to keep up with Scott as their pace quickened.

"I gotta make one phone call, for a confirmation.  And, if it's a 
yes, then I got, I mean we got one fuckuva story."

"No, it's yours man, yours.  Just let me keep the blood and guts.  
Besides,  I don't even know what you're talking about, you  ain't 
said shit.  Keep it.  Just keep your promise on the drinks. Ok?"

Scott arrived at Grand Central as the huge clock oppose the giant 
Kodak  photograph  struck four o'clock.  He  proceeded  to  track 
twenty two where the four-thirteen to Scarsdale and White  Plains 
was  waiting.   He walked down to the third car and took  a  seat 
that would only hold two.  He was saving it for Ty.

Tyrone Duncan hopped on the crowded train seconds before it  left 
the station.  He dashed down the aisle of the crowded car.  There 
was  only one empty seat.  Next to Scott Mason.   Scott's  rushed 
call  gave Ty an excuse to leave work early.  It had been one  of 
those days.  Ty collapsed in a sweat on the seat next to Scott.

"Didn't  your  mother  tell you it's not polite  to  keep  people 
waiting?" Scott made fun of Tyrone.

"Didn't your mama tell you not to irritate crazy overworked black 
dudes who carry a gun?"

Scott  took  the  hint.  It was safest to  ignore  Ty's  diatribe 
completely.  "I think I got it figured out.  Thought you might be 
interested."  Scott teased Duncan.

Tyrone  turned his head away from Scott.  "If you do,  I'll  kiss 
your  bare  ass on Broadway.  We don't have  shit."   He  sounded 
disgusted with the performance of his bureau.

Scott  puffed  up a bit before answering.  The pride did  not  go 
unnoticed by Duncan.  "I figured out how these guys, these black-
mailers, whoever they are, get their information."  Scott  paused 
for effect which was not lost on Duncan.

"I don't care anymore.  I've been pulled from the case,"   Tyrone 
said sounding exhausted.

"Well," Scott smirked.  "I think you just might care, anyway."  

Tyrone  felt himself Scott putting him into a trap.   "What  have 
you got?" 

Scott relished the moment.  The answer was so simple.  He saw the 
anticipation  in Tyrone's face, but they had become  friends  and 
didn't feel right about prolonging the tension. "Van Eck."

Duncan  was expecting more than a two word answer that was  abso-
lutely  meaningless  to him.  "What?  What is Van Eck?   The  ex-
pressway?"  He said referring to the New York Expressway that had 
been  a  14 mile line traffic jam since it opened some  40  years 

"Not Van Wyck, Van Eck.  Van Eck Radiation.  That's how they  get 
the information."

Duncan was no engineer, and he knew that Scott was proficient  in 
the discipline.  He was sure he had an education coming.  "For us 
feeble  minded  simpletons, would you mind  explaining?   I  know 
about Van Allen radiation belts, nuclear radiation . . .but ok, I 
give.  What's this Van Eck?"

Scott had not meant to humble Tyrone that much.  "Sorry.  It's  a 
pretty  arcane branch of engineering, even for techy types.   How 
much do you know about computers? Electronics?"

"Enough to get into trouble.  I can wire a stereo and I know  how 
to  use the computers at the Bureau, but that's about it.   Never 
bothered to get inside those monsters.  Consider me an idiot."

"Never,  just  a novice.  It's lecture time.  Computers,  I  mean 
PC's,  the kind on your desk and at home are electronic  devices, 
that's  no  great revelation.  As you may know, radio  waves  are 
caused  by the motion of electrons, current, down a  wire.   Ever 
heard or seen interference on your TV?"

"Sure.  We've been down this road before, with your EMP-T bombs."  
Tyrone  cringed at the lecture he had received on secret  defense 

"Exactly.   Interference  is caused by other  electrical  devices 
that  are running near the radio or TV.  Essentially,  everything 
that runs on electricity emanates a field of energy, an  electro-
magnetic field.  Well, in TV and radio, an antenna is stuck up in 
the air to pick up or 'hear' the radio waves.  You simply tune it 
in to the frequency you want to listen to."

"I know, like on my car radio.  Those are preset, though."  

"Doesn't  matter.   They  still pick the frequency  you  want  to 
listen to.  Can you just hold that thought and accept it at  face 
value?"   Scott followed his old teaching techniques.  He  wanted 
to  make  sure that each and every step of  his  explanation  was 
clearly understood  before going on to the next.  Tyrone acknowl-
edged  that  while he wasn't an electronic  engineer,  he  wasn't 
stupid either.

"Good.  Well computers are the same.  They radiate an electromag-
netic  field  when  they're in use.  If the  power  is  off  then 
there's  no  radiation.  Inside the computer there  are  so  many 
radiated  fields  that it looks like garbage, pure  noise  to  an 
antenna.  Filtering out the information is a bitch. But, you  can 
easily tune into a monitor."

"Monitors.  You mean computer screens?"  Tyrone wanted to clarify 
his understanding. 

"Monitors,  CRT's, screens, cathode ray tubes, whatever you  want 
to  call them.  The inside of most monitors is just like  televi-
sion sets.  There is an electron beam that writes to the  surface 
of  the screen, the phosphor coated one.  That's what  makes  the 

"That's how a TV works? I always wondered." Duncan was only  half 

"So,  the phosphor coating gets hit with a strong electron  beam, 
full  of high voltage energy, and the phosphor glows, just for  a 
few  milliseconds.  Then, the beam comes around again and  either 
turns it on or leaves it off, depending upon what the picture  is 
supposed to show.  Make sense?"

"That's why you can go frame to frame on a VCR, isn't it?   Every 
second there are actually lots of still pictures  that change  so 
quickly  that the eye is fooled into thinking it's  watching  mo-
tion.   Really,  it's a whole set of photographed  being  flipped 
through  quickly."  Duncan picked up the essentials on the  first 
pass.  Scott was visibly impressed.

"Bingo! So this beam is directed around the surface of the screen 
about 60 times every second."

"What moves the beam?"  Duncan was following closely.

"You are one perceptive pain in the butt, aren't you?  You nailed 
it  right on the head."  Scott enjoyed working with  bright  stu-
dents.  Duncan's smile made his pudgy face appear larger than  it 
was.   "Inside the monitor are what is called  deflection  coils.  
Deflection  coils are magnets that tell the beam where to  strike 
the  screen's  surface.  One magnet moves the  beam  horizontally 
across  the screen from left to right, and the other magnet,  the 
vertical  one, moves the beam  from the top to the bottom.   Same 
way as in a TV."  Scott paused for a moment.  He had given  simi-
lar  descriptions before, and he found it useful to let is  audi-
ence have time to create a mental image.

"Sure, that makes sense.  So what about this radiation?"   Duncan 
impatiently asked. He wanted to understand the full picture.

"Well,  magnets concentrate lots of electrical energy in a  small 
place, so they create more intense, or stronger magnetic  fields. 
Electromagnetic radiation if you will.  In this case, the  radia-
tion  from a computer monitor is called Van Eck radiation,  named 
after the Dutch electrical engineer who described the phenomena."  
Scott sounded pleased with his Radiation 101 course brief.  

Tyrone  wasn't satisfied though.  "So how does that  explain  the 
blackmail and the infamous papers you have?  And why do I care? I 
don't get it."  The confused look on Tyrone's face told Scott  he 
hadn't successfully tutored his FBI friend.  

"It's  just like a radio station.  A computer monitor puts out  a 
distinctive  pattern  of  radio waves from the  coils  and  pixel 
radiations from the screen itself, at a comparatively high power.  
So, with a little radio tuner, you can pick up the signals on the 
computer screen and read them for yourself.  It's the  equivalent 
of eavesdropping on a computer."

The stunned grimace on Duncan's face was all Scott needed to  see 
to realize that he now had communicated the gist of the technolo-
gy to him.  

"Are  you  telling me," Tyrone searched for the words  and  spoke 
slowly,  "that a computer broadcasts what's going on  inside  it?  
That anyone can read anyone else's computer?"  

"In a sense yes."

Tyrone looked out the window as they passed through Yonkers,  New 
York.  He whistled quietly to himself.

"How  did  you  find out?  Where did you . .  .?"  The  questions 
spewed forth.

"There  was a wreak, midtown, and there was a bunch of  equipment 
in  it.   Then I checked it out with a couple of  .  .  .engineer 
friends who are more up on this than I am.  They confirmed it."

"This  stuff was in a van?  How far away does this  stuff  work?"  
Duncan gave away his concern.

"According  to  my sources, with the proper gear,  two  or  three 
miles  is  not unreasonable.  In New York, maybe only  a  half  a 
mile.  Interference and steel buildings and all.  Manhattan is  a 
magnetic sewer, as they say."

"Shit,  this could explain a lot." The confident persona  of  the 
FBI  professional returned.  "The marks all claim that there  was 
no way for the information to get out, yet it did.  Scott, is  it 
possible that . . .how could one person get all this stuff?  From 
so  many  companies?"  The pointed question was  one  of  devil's 

"That's  the scary part, if I'm right.  But this is where I  need 
your  help."  Scott had given his part, now to complete the  tale 
he  needed the cooperation of his friend.  The story was  improv-

"Jesus,"  Duncan said quietly contemplating the implications. 

"Most  people believe that their computers are private.  If  they 
knew  that their inner most secrets were really  being  broadcast 
for  anyone  to hear, it might change their behavior  a  little."  
Scott had had the time to think about the impact if this was made 

"No shit Sherlock.  It makes me wonder who's been listening in on 
our computers all these years.  Maybe that's why our jobs seem to 
get  tougher  every day."  Duncan snapped himself back  from  the 
mental digression.  "Where do you go from here?"

Scott  was prepared.  He had a final bombshell to lay  on  Duncan 
before specifying his request. "There are a couple of things that 
make  me think.  First, there is no way that only one  guy  could 
put  together the amount of information that I have.   I've  told 
you how much there is.  From all over the country.  That suggests 
a  lot  more than one person  involved.  I don't know  how  many, 
that's your job.

"Two, these blackmail threats.  Obviously whoever is reading  the 
computers,  Van Ecking them is what I call it, has  been  sending 
the  information  to someone else.  Then they, in turn,  call  up 
their targets and let them know that their secrets are no  longer 
so  secret.   Then  three, they have been  probably  sending  the 
information to other people, on paper.  Like me and the  National 
Expose.   I  have  no idea if any others  are  receiving  similar 
packages.   What  I see here, is a coordinated effort to .  .  ."  
Scott held Tyrone's complete attention.

"You  still haven't told me what you need. Lay it on  me,  buddy.  
There can't be much more."

"Doesn't it make sense that if we had one van, and the  equipment 
inside, we could trace it down, and maybe see if there really are 
other  Van  Eck  vans out there?  For an  operation  that's  this 
large,  there  would have to be a back up, a contingency .  .  ."  
The excitement oozed from Scott as his voice got louder.

"Shhhh . . ." Tyrone cautioned.  "The trains have ears.  I  don't 
go for conspiracy theories, I never have.  Right now all we  have 
is raw, uncorrelated data.  No proof.  Just circumstantial events 
that may have nothing to do with each other . . ."

"Bullshit.   Look  at this."  Scott opened up his  briefcase  and 
handed a file folder to Tyrone.  

"What  is  it?  Looks like a news story, that . . .uh  .  .  .you 
wrote  and, it's about some mergers.  Big deal."   Duncan  closed 
the folder.  "What does this have to do with anything?"

"This.   Yes, I wrote the story.  Two  days ago.  It hasn't  been 
printed yet."  Scott took the folder back.  "I found this copy in 
the van that was wrecked two days ago.  It was Van Eck'ed from my 
computer  the  day I wrote it.  They've been watching me  and  my 

"Now  wait a second.  There are a hundred possible answers.   You 
could have lost a copy or someone got  it from your wastebasket."  
Duncan  wasn't convincing either to himself or to  Scott.   Scott 
smirked as Tyrone tried to justify the unbelievable.

"You want to play?"  Scott asked.

"I think I'd better.  If this is for real,  no one has any priva-
cy anymore."  

"I know I don't."  


                         Chapter 14

     Sunday, November 29
     Columbia University, New York

The  New York City Times had put the story on the 7th  page.   In 
contrast,  the New York Post, in Murdoch's infinite  wisdom,  had 
put  pictures of the dead and dying on the front page.  With  the 
McDonalds' window prominent.

Ahmed Shah reacted with pure intellectual detachment to the deba-
cle  on Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street.  Jesef was a  martyr,  as 
much of one as those who had sacrificed their lives in the  Great 
War  against Iraq.  He had to make a report.  From his  home,  in 
the Spanish Harlem district of the upper West Side of  Manhattan, 
3 blocks from his Columbia University office, he wheeled over  to 
his computer that was always on. 

C:\cd protalk

He dialed a local New York number that was stored in the  Protalk 
communications program.  He had it set for 7 bits, no parity,  no 
stop bits.


The  local  phone  number he dialed  answered  automatically  and 
redialed  another  number, and then that one dialed  yet  another 
number  before a message was relayed back to Ahmed Shah.  He  was 
accustomed to the delay.  While waiting he lit up a Marlboro.  It 
was the only American cigarette that came close to the vile taste 
of Turkish camel shit cigarettes that he had smoked before coming 
to  the  United States. A few seconds later, the screen  came  to 
life and displayed


Ahmed entered his password and his PRG response.


He chose a random crypt key that would  be used to guarantee  the 
privacy of his conversations.


That  told Ahmed to begin his message, and that someone would  be 
there to answer.  

Good Morning.  I have some news.


We have a slight problem, but nothing serious.


One of the readers is gone.


No, the Americans aren't that smart.  He died in a 
car crash.


No.  In New York we have another 11 readers.   But 
we have lost one vehicle.  The police must have it.


A martyr.


 He had false identification.   They  will  learn 


They can learn nothing. Why?


I read about it today.  The crash was yesterday.  


It would not matter if they did.  They are  loyal.  
The  papers  said nothing of the van. They cared only  about  the 
Americans who died eating their breakfasts. 


It will be done.


* * * * * 

     Monday, November 30
     New York City

The  fire at the New York City Police Impound on 22nd Street  and 
the  Hudson  River  was not newsworthy.  It  caused,  however,  a 
deluge  of paperwork for the Sergeant whose job it was  to  guard 
the  confiscated  vehicles.  Most of those cars  damaged  in  the 
firestorm had been towed for parking infractions.  It would  cost 
the city tens of thousands of dollars, but not at least for three 
or four months. The city would take as long as possible to  proc-
ess the claims. Jesef Mumballa's vehicle was completely destroyed 
as  per Homosoto's order. The explosion that had caused the  fire 
was identified as coming from his van, but little importance  was 
placed with that obscure fact.

Ben  Shellhorne noticed, though.  Wasn't that the van that  Scott 
Mason had shown such interest in yesterday?  A car bombing,  even 
if  on police property was not a particularly interesting  story, 
at  least in New York.  But Ben wanted the drink that  Scott  had 
promised.  Maybe he could parlay it into two.

"Scott,  remember  that van?"  Ben called Scott on  the  internal 
office phones.

"Yeah, what about it?"  

"It's gone."

"What do you mean gone?"

"Somebody blew it up.  Took half the cars in the impound with it.  
Sounds like Cemex.  Just thought you might care.  You were pretty 
hot  about  seeing it ."  Scott enjoyed  Ben's  nonchalance.   He 
decided to play it cool.

"Yeah,  thanks  for the call. Looks like another  lead  down  the 

"Know whatcha mean."

Scott called Tyrone at his office.  

"4543."  Duncan answered obliquely.

"Just an anonymous call."  Scott didn't disguise his voice.   The 
message would be obvious.


"A  certain  van in a certain police impound was just  blown  up.  
Seemed  le  Plastique was involved.  Thought you  might  want  to 

"Thanks."  The phone went dead.

Within  30  minutes, 6 FBI agents arrived at the  police  impound 
station.  It looked like a war zone.  Vehicles were strewn about, 
many the victim of fire, many with substantial pieces missing.

With the signature of the New York District Chief on  appropriate 
forms, the FBI took possession of one Ford Econoline van, or what 
was left of it.  The New York police were just as glad to be  rid 
of   it.   It was one less mess they had to worry  about.   Fine, 
take  it.  It's yours. Just make sure that the  paperwork  covers 
ours  asses.  Good, that seems to do it.  Now get out.   Frigging 

* * * * *

Tyrone Duncan took an evening Trump Shuttle down to  Washington's 
National Airport.  The 7:30 flight was dubbed the Federal Express 
by the stewardesses because it was primarily congressmen,  diplo-
mats  and other Washington denizens who took this  flight.   They 
wanted  to  get to D.C. before the cocktail  parties  began   and 
found  the 2-drink flight an excellent means to tune up.   Duncan 
was  met  out in front by a driver who held up a sign  that  read 

He  got into the car in silence and was driven to a residence  on 
"P"  Street  off Wisconsin in Georgetown.   The  brick  townhouse 
looked  like  every  other million dollar home  in  the  affluent 
Washington  bedroom community. But this one was special.  It  not 
only  served  as a home away from home for Bob  Burnson  when  he 
worked  late, but it was also a common neutral meeting place  far 
from prying eyes and ears.   This night was one such case.

An older, matronly lady answered the door.  

"May  I  help you?"  She went through the formality for  the  few 
accidental tourists who rang the bell.

"I'm  here to see Mr. Merriweather.  He's expecting me."   Merri-
weather  was the nom-de-guerre of Bob Burnson,  at least at  this 
location.  Duncan was ushered into the elegant old sitting  room, 
where  the  butleress  closed the door behind  him.   He  double-
checked that she was gone and walked over to the fireplace.   The 
marble  facade was worn in places, from overuse he  assumed,  but 
nonetheless,  traces of its 19th century elegance  remained.   He 
looked up at the large full length standing portrait of a somber, 
formal man dressed in a three piece suit.  Undoubtedly this  vain 
portrait  was his only remaining legacy, whoever he  was.  Tyrone 
pressed a small button built into the side of the picture frame.

An  adjoining  bookcase slipped  back into the wall,  exposing  a 
dark  entry.  Duncan squeezed his bulk through the  narrow  wedge 
provided by the opened bookcase. 

The  blank wall behind him closed and the lights in the  room  he 
entered slowly brightened.  Three people were seated at an  over-
sized  table with black modern executive chairs around  it.   The 
room  was large.  Too large to fit behind the 18 foot width of  a 
Georgetown  brownstone.  The adjacent building must be an  ersatz 
cover for the privacy that this domicile required.  The room  was 
simple,  but  formal.  Stark white walls  and  their  nondescript 
modern paintings were illuminated by recessed lights.  The  black 
trim  work was the only accent that the frugal decorator  permit-

His old friend and superior Bob Burnson was seated in the middle.  
The  other two men were civil servants in their mid 40's as  near 
as  Duncan  could  determine.  Both wore  Government  issue  blue 
suits,  white shirts and diagonally striped maroon  ties.   Their 
hair was regulation above the ears, immaculately kept.   Reminded 
Duncan  of  the junior clerks on Wall Street.   They  could  only 
afford suits from the discount racks, but still tried to make   a 
decent  impression.  The attempt usually failed, but G-Men  stuck 
to  the tradition of poor dress. He had never seen either of  the 
men  that flanked Burnson, which wasn't unusual.   He was  a  New 
Yorker  who carefully avoided the cacophony of  Washington  poli-
tics.  He played the political game once nearly 30 years  ago  to 
secure his position, but he had studiously avoided it since.  

"Thanks for making it on such short notice,"  Burnson solicitous-
ly  greeted  Duncan.   He did it for the benefit  of  the  others 

"Yes  sir.  Glad to help."  Duncan groaned through the  lie.   He 
had been ordered to this command performance.

"This  is," Burnson gestured to his right, "Martin  Templer,  our 
CIA  liaison,  and,"  pointing to his  left,  "Charlie  Sorenson, 
assistant DIRNSA, from the Fort."  They all shook hands  perfunc-
torily.   "Care  for  a drink?"  Burnson asked.   "We're  not  on 
Government time."  

Duncan looked and saw they were all drinking something other than 
Coke.   The bar behind them showed recent use.  "Absolut  on  the 
rocks.   If  you  have it."  It was Duncan's  first  time  to  'P 
Street' as this well disguised location was called. Burnson  rose 
and poured the vodka over perfectly formed ice cubes.  He  handed 
the drink to Duncan and indicated he should take a seat.

They exchanged pleasantries, and Duncan spoke of the  improvement 
in the Northeast corridor Shuttle service; the flight was  almost 
on time. Enough of the niceties.

"We don't want to hold you up more than necessary, but since  you 
were  here in town we thought we could discuss a couple  of  mat-
ters."   Burnson  was the only one to speak. The  others  watched 
Duncan  too  closely for his taste.  What a white wash.   He  was 
called down here, pronto.  Since I'm here, my ass.

"No problem sir." He carried the charade forward.

"We need to know more about your report.  This morning's report."  
Sorenson,  the NSA man spoke.  "It was most intriguing.  Can  you 
fill  us in?"  He sipped his drink while maintaining eye  contact 
with Duncan. 

"Well, there's not much to say beyond what I put in."   Suspicion 
was evident in Duncan's voice.  "I think that it's a real  possi-
bility  that  there is a group who may be using  highly  advanced 
computer  equipment as weapons.  Or at least surveillance  tools.  
A massive operation is suspected.  I think I explained that in my 

"You  did  Tyrone,"  Bob agreed.  "It's just that  there  may  be 
additional  considerations  that you're not aware of.   Things  I 
wasn't  even aware of.  Charlie, can you elaborate?"  Bob  looked 
at the NSA man in deference.

"Thanks,  Bob,  be  glad to."  Charlie Sorenson  was  a  seasoned 
spook.  His casual manner was definitely practiced.   "Basically, 
we're following up on the matter of the van you reported, and the 
alleged  equipment it held."   He scanned the folder in front  of 
him. "It says here," he perused, "that you discovered that  indi-
viduals have learned how to read computer signals, unbeknownst to 
the computer users."  He looked up  at Duncan for a confirmation. 
Tyrone felt slightly uncomfortable. "Is that right?"  

"Yes, sir," Duncan replied. "From the information we've received, 
it appears that a group has the ability to detect computer radia-
tion  from  great distances.  This technique  allows  someone  to 
compromise computer privacy . . ."

"We know what it is Mr. Duncan."  The NSA man cut him off abrupt-
ly.  Duncan  looked at Burnson who avoided his stare.   "What  we 
want  to   know is, how do you know?  How do you  know  what  CMR 
radiation  is?"  There was no smile or sense of warmth  from  the 
inquisitor.   Not  that  there had been  since  the  unpropitious 
beginning of this evening. 

"CMR?" Tyrone wasn't familiar with the term.

"Coherent Monitor Radiation.  What do you know?"

"There was a van that crashed in New York a couple of days  ago." 
Duncan was not sure what direction this conversation was going to 
take.  "I have reason to believe it contained computer  equipment 
that was capable of reading computer screens from a distance."

"What  cases are you working on that relate to this?"  Again  the 
NSA man sounded like he was prosecuting a case in court.

"I  have been working on a blackmail case,"  Duncan  said.   "Now 
I'm  the  agency liaison with ECCO and CERT.   Looking  into  the 
INTERNET problems."

The  two  G-men   looked at each other.   Templer  from  the  CIA 
shrugged at Sorenson.  Burnson was ignored.

"Are you aware that you are working in an area of extreme nation-
al security?"  Sorenson pointedly asked Duncan.

Tyrone  Duncan thought for a few seconds before  responding.   "I 
would imagine that if computers can be read from a distance  then 
there  is a potential national security issue.  But I can  assure 
you, it was brought to my attention through other means."  Duncan 
tried to sound confident of his position. 

"Mr.  Duncan," Sorenson began, "I will tell you something, and  I 
will only tell you because you have been pre-cleared."  He waited 
for a reaction, but Duncan did not give him the satisfaction of a 
sublimation.   Cleared  my ass.  Fucking spooks. Duncan  had  the 
common sense to censor himself effectively.

"CMR  radiation,  as it is called, is a major threat  facing  our 
computers  today.   Do you know what that means?"   Sorenson  was 
being solicitous.  Tyrone had to play along.

"From  what  I gather, it means that our computers are  not  safe 
from eavesdropping. Anyone can listen in."  Tyrone spoke  coldly.  
Other than Bob, he was not with friends.

"Let me put  it succinctly,"  Sorenson said.  "CMR radiation  has 
been  classified for several years.  We don't even admit that  it 
exists.   If  we  did, there could be panic.  As far  as  we  are 
concerned  with  the  public, CMR radiation is a  figment  of  an 
inventive imagination.  Do you follow?"

"Yes,"  Duncan agreed, "but why?  It doesn't seem to be much of a 
secret to too many people?"

"That  poses two questions.  Have you ever heard of  the  Tempest 

"Tempest? No. What is it?" Duncan searched his mind.

"Tempest  is  a classified program managed by the  Department  of 
Defense and administered by the National Security Agency.  It has 
been in place for years.  The premise is  that computers  radiate 
information  that  our  enemies can pick  up  with  sophisticated 
equipment.   Computers broadcast signals that tell  what  they're 
doing.   And they do it in two ways.  First they radiate  like  a 
radio station.  Anyone can pick it up."  This statement confirmed 
what  Scott  had been saying.  "And,  computers  broadcast  their 
signals  down  the  power lines.  If someone  tried,  they  could 
listen to our AC lines and essentially know what was the computer 
was  doing.  Read classified information.  I'm sure you  see  the 
problem."  Sorenson was trying to be friendly, but he failed  the 
geniality test.

Duncan nodded in understanding.  

"We are concerned because the Tempest  program is classified  and 
more importantly, the Agency has been using CMR for years."

"What for?"

"The  NSA is chartered as the ears and eyes of  the intelligence 
community.  We listen to other people for a living."

"You mean you spy on computers, too? Spying on civilians?   Isn't 
that  illegal?"  Tyrone remembered back when FBI and  CIA  abuses 
had totally gotten out of hand.

"The  courts  have determined that eavesdropping in  on  cellular 
phone  conversations in not an invasion of privacy.  We take  the 
same position on CMR."  Sorenson wanted to close the issue quick-

Duncan  carefully prepared his answer amidst the outrage  he  was 
feeling.  He sensed an arrogant Big Brother attitude at work.  He 
hated  the 'my shit doesn't stink' attitude of the NSA.   All  in 
the  name  of National Security.  "Until a couple of days  ago  I 
would have thought this was pure science fiction."

"It  isn't  Mr. Duncan.  Tempest is a front line  of  defense  to 
protect  American secrets.  We need to know what else  there  is; 
what you haven't put in your reports."  The NSA man pressed. 

Duncan  looked  at  Bob who had long ago ceased  to  control  the 
conversation.   He  got  no signs of support.  In  fact,  it  was 
almost  the opposite.  He felt alone.  He had had little  contact 
with  the Agency in his 30 years of service.  And when there  was 
contact  it was relegated to briefings, policy shifts. .  .pretty 
bureaucratic stuff.   

"As  I  said, it's all in the report.  When  there's  more,  I'll 
submit it."  Duncan maintained his composure.

"Mr.  Duncan, I don't think that will do."  Martin Templer  spoke 
up again.  "We have been asked to assist the NSA in the matter."

"Whoah!   Wait a second."  Duncan's legal training had  not  been 
for  naught.  He knew a thing or two about Federal  charters  and 
task designations.  "The NSA is just a listening post.  Your guys 
do  the  international spook stuff, and we do  the  domestic  leg 
work.  Since when is the Fort into investigations?"

"Ty?   They're right."  The uneasiness in Bob's voice was  promi-
nent.  "The protection of classified information is their respon-
sibility.   A  group was created to report on  computer  security 
problems that might have an effect on national security.  On that 
committee  is  the Director of the NSA.  In  essence,  they  have 
control.  Straight from 1600.  It's out of our hands."

Tyrone  was  never  the technical type, and  definitely  not  the 
politician.  Besides, there was no way any one human being  could 
keep  up with the plethora of regulations and rule  changes  that 
poured out of the three branches of government.  "Are you telling 
me  that  the NSA can swoop down on our turf and take  the  cases 
they want, when they want?"  Duncan hoped he had heard wrong.

"Mr.  Duncan,  I  think you may be under  a  mistaken  impression 
here."  Sorenson sipped his drink and turned in the swivel chair.  
"We don't want anything to do with your current cases, especially 
the  alleged  blackmail operation in place.   That  is  certainly 
within the domain of the FBI.  No.  All we want is the van."  The 
NSA  man realized he may have come on a little strong and  Duncan 
had misunderstood.  This should clear everything up nicely.

Tyrone decided to extricate himself from any further  involvement 
with these guys.  He would offer what he knew, selectively.

"Take the van, it's yours.  Or what's left of it."  

"Who else knows about CMR?  How is works?"  Sorenson wanted  more 
than the van.

Duncan  didn't  answer.  An arrogance, a defiance came  over  him 
that  Bob  Burnson saw immediately.  "Tell them where  you  found 
out, Ty."  He saw Duncan's negative facial reaction.  "That's  an 

How  could he minimize the importance of Scott's contribution  to 
his  understanding  of CMR radiation?  How could  he  rationalize 
their  relationship?  He thought, and then realized it might  not 
matter.  Scott had said he already had his story, and no one  had 
done anything wrong.   Actually  they had only had a casual  con-
versation on a train, as commuter buddies, what was the harm?  It 
really exposed him more than Scott  if anything came of it.

"From  an  engineer  friend of mine.  He told  me  about  how  it 

The  reactions from the CIA and NSA G-Men were  poorly  concealed 
astonishment.  Both made rapid notes.  "Where does he work?   For 
a defense contractor?"

"No, he's also a reporter."  

"A reporter?" Sorenson gasped.  "For what paper?"  He breathless-
ly  prayed that it was a local high school journal, but  his  gut 
told him otherwise.

"The  New  York City Times,"  Duncan said, confident  that  Scott 
could  handle himself and that the First Amendment would help  if 
all else failed. 

"Thank you very much Mr. Duncan."  Sorenson rapidly rose from his 
chair.  "You've been most helpful.  Have a good flight back."

* * * * *

     Tuesday.,  December 1
     New York City

The morning commute into the City was agonizingly long for  Scott 
Mason.  He nearly ran the 5 blocks from Grand Central Station  to 
the  paper's  offices off Times Square.  The  elevator  wait  was 
interminable.  He dashed into the City Room, bypassing his  desk, 
and ran directly toward editor Doug McQuire's desk.  Doug saw him 
coming and was ready.

"Don't  stop here.  We're headed up to Higgins."  Doug  tried  to 
deflect the verbal onslaught from Scott.

"What the hell is going on here, Doug?  I work on a great  story, 
you  said you loved it, and then I finally get the missing  piece 
and  then   . . .this?"  He pushed the morning  paper  in  Doug's 
face.  "Where the fuck is my story? And don't give me any of this 
'we  didn't  have the room' shit.  You yourself thought  we  were 
onto something bigger . . ."

Doug  ignored Scott as best he could, but on the elevator to  the 
9th floor, Scott was still in his face.

"Doug, I am not a pimple faced cub reporter.  I never was, that's 
why you hired me. You've always been straight with me . . ."

Scott  trailed  behind Doug as they walked down  the  hallway  to 
Higgins'  office.   He was still calling Doug every name  in  the 
book  as they entered the room.  Higgins sat behind his desk,  no 
tie,  totally  un-Higgins-like.   Scott shot  out  another  nasty 

"Hey, you look like shit."

"Thanks to you," the bedraggled Higgins replied.

"What?   You  too?  I need this today." Scott's  anger  displayed 
concern as well. 

"Sit  down.   We got troubles."  Higgins could be  forceful  when 
necessary.   Apparently he felt this was an appropriate  time  to 
use  his drill sergeant voice.  It startled Scott so he sat -  on 
the  edge  of his seat.  He wasn't through dishing  out  what  he 
thought about having a story pulled this way.

Higgins waited for nearly half a minute.  Let some calm, normalcy 
return before he started.

"Scott,  I  pulled the story, Doug didn't. And, if it  makes  you 
feel  any better, we've both been here all night.  And we've  had 
outside counsel lose sleep, too.  Congratulations."

Scott was confused.  Congratulations?  "What are you . . .?"

"Hear  me out.  In my 14 years at this paper, this is  the  first 
time  I've  ever had a call from the  Attorney  General's  office 
telling  me, ordering me, that I, we had better not run a  story.  
I  am as confused as you."  Higgins' sincerity was  real;  tired, 
but real.

Scott  suddenly felt a twinge of guilt, but not enough to  remove 
the anger he still felt.  "What ever happened to the first amend-
ment?" Irate confusion was  written all over his face.

"Here  me out before you pull the switch,"  Higgins sounded  very 
tired.   "About  10:30  last night I got a call  from  the  Print 
Chief.  He said that the NYPD was at the plant with a restraining 
order  that  we not print a story you had written.   What  should 
they do, he asked.  Needless to say I had to come down, so I told 
him, hold the presses, for a half hour.  I called Ms.  Manchester 
and  she  met me here just after eleven.  The officer  had  court 
orders, from Washington, signed by the Attorney General personal-
ly, informing us that if we published certain information, alleg-
edly  written  by you, the paper could be found in  violation  of 
some bullshit national security laws they made up on the spot.  

"I called Doug, who was pleased to hear from me at midnight I can 
assure  you, and he agreed.  Pull it. Whatever was going on,  the 
story  was so strong, that we can always print it in a  few  days 
once  we sorted it out.  We had no choice.  But now, we  need  to 
know, what is going on?"  Higgins was clearly exhausted.

Scott  was at a loss for words.  "I  . . .uh . . .  dunno.   What 
did the court order say?"

"That  the paper will, will is their word, refrain from  printing 
anything with regards to CMR.  And CMR was all over your article.  
Nobody here knew much about it, other than what was in the  arti-
cle, and we couldn't reach you, so we figured that we might  save 
ourselves a bushel of trouble by waiting.  Just a day or two," he 
quickly added.

"How  the  hell did they find out ?"   Scott's  mind  immediately 
blamed  Tyrone.   He had been betrayed.  Used.  Goddamn  it.   He 
knew  better than to trust a Fed.  Shit.  Tyrone must  have  gone 
upstairs   and  told  his  cronies  that  I  was  onto  a   story 
and . . .well one thing led to another.  But Jeez . . .the Attor-
ney General's office.

"Scott, what is going on here?"  Higgins asked but Doug wanted to 
know  as  well.  "It looks like you've got a tiger by  the  tail.  
And  the  tiger is in Washington.  Seems like you've  pissed  off 
some important people.  We need to know, the whole bit.  What are 
you onto?"

"It's  all in the story," Scott said, emotionally drained  before 
9:00  AM.  "Whatever I know is there.  It's all  been  confirmed, 
Doug  saw  the  notes." Doug nodded, yes, the  reporting  was  as 
accurate as is expected in such cases.  

"Well,"   Higgins continued, "it seems that our friends in  Wash-
ington  don't want any of this printed,  for their  own  reasons.  
Is any of this classified, Scott?"

"If  it is, I don't know it," Scott lamely explained.  He felt up 
against an invisible wall.  "I got my confirmations from a couple 
of  engineers  and a hacker type who is up on  computer  security 
stuff. This stuff is chicken feed compared to SDI and the Stealth 

"So why do they care?"

"I have an idea, but I can't prove it yet," offered Scott.

"Lay it on us, kid," said Doug approvingly.  He loved  controver-
sial reporting, and this had the makings of . . .

"What  if  between this and the Exchange we fell  into  a  secret 
weapons program," Scott began.

"Too  simple.  Been done before without this kind  of  backlash," 
Higgins said dismissing the idea.

"Except,  these weapons can be built by any high school kid  with 
an  electronics lab and a PC," Scott retorted undaunted.   "Maybe 
not  as good, or as powerful, but nonetheless, effective. If  you 
were the government, would you want every Tom, Dick and  Shithead 
to build home versions of cruise missiles?" 

"I  think you're exaggerating a little, Scott."  Higgins  pinched 
his nose by the corners of his eyes. "Doug?  What do you think?"  

Doug  was amazingly collected. "I think," he said  slowly,  "that 
Scott  is onto a once in a lifetime story.  My gut tells me  this 
is real.  And still, we only have a small piece of the puzzle."   

"Scott?   Get  right back on it," Doug ordered. "I want  to  know 
what  the big stink is.  Higgins will use outside counsel to  see  
if  they dig anything up, but I believe you'll have better  luck.  
It  seems that you've stumbled on something that  the  Government 
wants kept secret.  Keep up the good work."

Scott  was  being congratulated on having a story  pulled,  which 
aroused mixed emotions within him.  His boss thought it wonderful 
that it was pulled.  It all depends what side of the fence you're 
on, I guess.

"I have a couple  of calls to make."  Scott excused himself  from 
Higgins'  domain  to get back to his desk.   He  dialed  Duncan's 
private number.  

"4543," Duncan answered gruffly.

"Fuck  you very much."  Scott enjoyed slamming down the phone  as 
hard as he could.

Scott's second call wouldn't be for hours.  He wished it could be 
sooner,  so the day passed excruciatingly slowly. But, it had  to 
wait.  Safety was a concern, not getting caught was paramount. He 
was going to rob a bank.  

* * * * * 

     Washington, D.C.

"I will call you in 5 minutes."

Miles  Foster  heard the click of the phone in his ear.   It  was 
Homosoto. At midnight no less.  He had no choice.  It was  better 
to speak to Homosoto over the computer than in person.  He didn't 
have to hear the condescension.  He turned his Compaq 486 back on 
and  initiated  the  auto-answer mode on the  modem  through  the 
ProTalk software package.

Miles was alone.  He had sent Perky home a few minutes before.  

He  heard his modem ring, and saw the computer answer.  The  com-
puter automatically set the communications parameters and matched 
the  crypt  key as chosen by the  caller,  undoubtedly  Homosoto. 
Miles  set  his  PRG code to prove to the computer  that  it  was 
really him and he waited for the first message.


That was obvious, why state the obvious, thought Miles.

I am listening.


By whom?


How?  We don't do that sort of stuff.


They don't screw with the press, though.  That's frowned upon.


Why him?


How much does he know?


Yes, I agree.  I wish I knew how you find out these things.  


What do you want me to do?


I know how to do that.  That will not be a problem.  Do we  still 
have readers?


How many?


No, I know.  Curiosity.


It is my plan.






Just an expression.



* * * * * 

     Midnight, Wednesday,  December 2
     Scarsdale, New York

Since  he had met Kirk, Scott had developed a mild affection  for 
his long distance modem-pal, and pretended informer.  Now, it was 
time  to take advantage of his new asset.  Maybe  the  Government 
carries weight with their spook shit, but a bank can't push  hard 
enough  to  pull a story, if it's true.  And Kirk,  whoever  that 
was, offered Scott the ideal way to prove it.  Do it yourself.

So he prepared himself for a long night, and he would  definitely 
sleep  in tomorrow; no matter what! Scott so cherished his  sleep 
time.   He  wormed  his way through the mess  of  the  downstairs 
"study  in disaster," and made space by redistributing  the  mess 
into other corners. 

He  felt a commitment, an excitement that was beyond that of  de-
veloping a great story. Scott was gripped with an intensity  that 
was a result of the apprehension of invading a computer, and  the 
irony  of it all.  He was an engineer, turned writer, using  com-
puters  as an active journalistic instrument other than for  word 
processing.   To Scott, the computer, being the news itself,  was 
being  used as a  tool to perform self examination as a  sentient 
being, as a separate entity.  Techno-psychoanalysis?  

Is  it  narcissistic for man's tools to use  themselves  as  both 
images of the mirror of reflective analysis? They say man's brain 
can never fully understand itself.  Is the same true with comput-
ers?   And since they grow in power so quickly compared to  man's 
snail-like  millennia by millennia evolution, can they  catch  up 
with themselves?

Back to reality, Scott.  The Great American Techno-Philosophy and 
Pulitzer  could  wait.   He had a bank to rob.   Scott  left  his 
computer  on  all the time since Kirk had first called.   If  the 
Intergalactic  Traveler called back, the computer  would  answer, 
and  Kirk could leave a message.  Scott checked the Mail  Box  in 
the ProCom communications program.  No calls.  Not that his modem 
was a popular number.  Only he, his office computer and Kirk knew 
it.  And the phone company, but everyone knows about them . . .

Just as the clock struck midnight, Kirk jumped in his seat.   Not 
only  was  the bell chiming an annoying 12  mini-gongs,  but  his 
computer  was beeping.  It took a couple of beeps from the  small 
speaker  in  his computer for him to realize he was  receiving  a 
call.  What do I do know?  The 14" color screen came alive and it 
entered terminal mode from the auto-answer screen that Scott  had 
left yesterday.


The screen rang out.  Scott knew the answer.



Welcome pilgrim, what has brought thee to these shores?


Seems a bit more sporting that hiding behind techy-talk.


So, as Maynard G. Crebbs asked, "You Rang?"


No, the originals.  


You've just dated yourself.  Thanks.


You read my mind :-)


What do you mean?


You're kidding.  Just like Superman carries Lois Lane?




English kimosabe. 


Stop! I'm writing . . .


What's that?




Thanks!  Got it.


Done!   I like Ctrl-Alt-S.  Suits me fine.  No memory needed.


Scott did as instructed.  The entire procedure made sense  intel-
lectually,  but inside, there was an inherent disbelief that  any 
of these simple procedures would produce anything meaningful.  It 
is inherently difficult to feel progress, a sense of  achievement 
without instantaneous feedback that all was well.

Less than a minute later, the screen told Scott it was  finished.  
Did he want to Save the file? Yes.  Please name it.   Mirage.Exe.  
Would  you like to receive another? No.  Do you want to  exit  to 
Command line?  Yes.  He entered Mirage.Exe as Kirk had  instruct-
ed,  hoping  that  he was still waiting at the  other  end.   The 
screen  displayed various copyrights and Federal  warnings  about 
illegal  copying of software, the very crime Scott had just  com-

The  video  suddenly split into two windows.  The  bottom  window 
looked just like the screen he used to talk to Kirk, except  much 
smaller.   Only 10 out of a possible 25 lines. The upper half  of 
the screen was new.  MIRAGE-Remote View (C)1988.

Kirk announced himself.


Yup!  I got something.  Two screens.


vga 14 inch


Can't I save everything? 


Done.  Anything else?


A Sunday drive in the country . . .


Scott  watched  with  his fingers sitting on  the  keyboard  with 
anticipation.   A phone number was displayed on top line  in  the 
Upper Window: 18005555500.  


In a few seconds the screen announced,


The graphics got fancy but in black and white.  



The video monitor did not let Scott see the access codes.

     Welcome to USA-NET, Kirk.
     Time synchronizing:  0:04:57  December 18, 1990


Scott's  large window began to scroll and fill with  lines  after 
line of options:

     (A) Instructions
     (B) Charges
     (C) Updating
     (D) OAG
     (E) Shopping Menus
     (F) Trading Menus
     (G) Conversation Pits

In  all there were 54 choices displayed.  The lower  window  came 




Scott had gone this far.  He would worry about the legalities  in 
the morning.  Higgins would have his work cut out for him.

Aye, aye, Captain.


The upper window changed again.

     QUIT?  Y


Another number flashed in the upper window.  12125559796.


After  less than 2 rings the screen announced that they  had  ar-
rived  at the front doors to the computer system at  First  State 
Bank,  in New York.  Another clue.  Kirk was not from  New  York.  
He used an area code.     

Scott  felt like looking back over his shoulders to see  who  was 
watching  him.  His automatic flight-or-fight response  made  the 
experience more exhilarating.  He tried to force his intellect to 
convince  himself that he was far from view, unobservable,  unde-
tectable.  Only partially successful, he remained tense realizing 
that he was borderline legal.



     SECURITY: SE-PROTECT, 4.0  REV. 3.12.1  10, OCT, 1989
     TIME: 00:12:43.1
     DATE: 04 December
     PORT: 214






     ID: 374552100/1






Scott  watched in fascination.  Here he was, riding shotgun on  a 
trip through one of  New York's largest bank computers, and there 
was no resistance.  He could not believe that he had more securi-
ty in his house than a bank with assets of over $10 Billion.  The 
bottom window showed Kirk's next message.


Pretty stupid


That the bank doesn't have better control


* * * * *

     Wednesday, December 2
     New York City

"Doug," Scott came into the office breathlessly, "we have to  see 
Higgins.  I gotta great . . ." 

"Hey,  I thought you were gonna come in late today? Wire  in  the 
copy?"   He  looked at the New York clock on the  wall.   It  was 
9:15.   Scott  broke the promise he made to himself  to  come  in 

"Yeah,  well,  I  underslept."   He brandished a  thick  file  of 
computer printouts.  "Before I write this one, I want Higgins and 
every other lawyer God put on this green Earth to go over it."

"Since  when  did you get so concerned with pre-scrutiny.   As  I 
remember,  it  was  only yesterday that you  threatened  to  nuke 
Higgins'  house and everyone he ever met."  Doug pretended to  be 
condescending.   Actually, the request was a great  leap  forward 
for  Scott  and every other reporter.  Get pre-lawyered,  on  the 
approach, learn the guidelines, and maybe new rules before  plow-
ing ahead totally blind.

"Since  I broke into a bank last night!"  Scott threw the  folder 
down on Doug's desk.  "Here.  I'm going to Rosie's for a  choles-
terol fix.  Need a picker upper."

When  Scott came back from a breakfast of deep fried fat and  pan 
grilled  grease he grabbed his messages at the front  desk.  Only 
one mattered:  

     Higgins.  11:00.  Be there.  Doug.

Still the boss, thought Scott.  

Higgins' job was to approve controversial material, but it gener-
ally  didn't  surround only one reporter, on  so  many  different 
stories within such a short time span.  

"Good to see you, Mason," snorted Higgins.  

"Right.   Me too," he came back just as  sarcastically.   "Doug."  
He acknowledged his editor with only slightly more civility. 

"John, the boy's been up all night," Doug conciliated to Higgins. 
He  called all his reporters boys.  "And Scott, lighten up."   He 
was serious.

"Sure, Doug," he nodded.  

Higgins began. "O.K., Scott, what is it this time?  Doug said you 
broke  into a bank, and I haven't had time to go over these."  He 
held   up the thick file of printouts.   "In 25 words  or  less."  
The legal succinctness annoyed Scott. 

"Simple.   I tied in with a hacker last night,  'round  midnight.  
He  had the passwords to get into the First State computers,  and 
well, he showed me around.  Showed me how much damage can actual-
ly  be done by someone at a keyboard.  The tour lasted  almost  2 

"That's it?" Asked Higgins.

"That's it?  Are you kidding?  Let me tell you a few things in 25 
words  or more!"  Scott was tired and the lack of sleep made  him 

"I  did  a little checking before I went on this  excursion.  You 
bank at First, don't you, John?"  

It was a setup question.  "Yes," Higgins said carefully.

"I thought so.  Here let me have that file.  Gimme a minute,"  he 
said  flipping pages.  "Here it is, and yes, correct me if I  say 
anything that you don't agree with."  His  curtness and accusato-
ry sound put both Higgins and Doug off.  Where was he going?

"John W. Higgins, social security number, 134-66-9241. Born Rock-
ville, Maryland, June 1, 1947.  You currently have $12,435.16  in 
your checking account, $23,908.03 in savings . . ."

Higgins' jaw and pen dropped simultaneously.  Doug saw the  shock 
on his face while Scott continued. 

"Your  mortgage  at  115 Central Park West  is  $2,754.21.   Your 
portfolio  is split between, let's see, CD's, T-Bills,  the  bank 
acts  as  your broker, and you have three safety  deposit  boxes, 
only  one to which your wife, Helen Beverly Simons,  has  access.  
You make a deposit every two weeks . . ."

"Stop!  How the hell do you know . . ."

"Jeez you make that much? Can I be a lawyer too, huh? Please  Mr. 

Higgins threw his chair back and stormed around his desk to  grab 
the papers from Scott. Scott held them away.

"Let me see those!" Higgins demanded.

"Say please. Say pretty please."

"Scott!"  Doug  decided enough was enough.  Scott  had  made  his 
point.  "Cool it.  Let him have them."

"Sure,  boss!"   He  grinned widely at Doug who  could  not,  for 
reasons of professional conduct, openly condone Scott's  perform-
ance, no matter how effective it was.

Higgins looked at the top pages from where Scott was reading.  He 
read  them intently, looking from one to the other.   Slowly,  he 
walked  back to his desk, and sat down, nearly missing the  chair 
because he was so engrossed.

Without  looking  up  he spoke softly.   "This  is  unbelievable.   
Unbelievable.  I can't believe that you have this."  Suddenly  he 
spoke right to Scott.  "You know this is privileged  information, 
you  can't go telling anyone about my personal finances.  You  do 
know that, right?"  The concern was acute. 

"Hey,  I don't really give a damn what you make, but I needed  to 
shake the tree.  This is serious shit."

"Scott,  you've  got  my total,  undivided  attention  now.   The 
floor's yours.  You have up to 100 words."  Humor wasn't Higgins' 
strong point, or his weak point, or any point, but Scott appreci-
ated  the gesture.  Doug could relax, too.  A peace  treaty,  for 

"Thanks,  John." Scott was sincere.  "As you know I've been  run-
ning  a few stories on hackers, computer crimes, what have  you."  
Higgins rolled his eyes.  He remembered.  "A few weeks ago I  got 
a call from Captain Kirk.  He's a hacker."

"What  do you know about him?"  Higgins was again  taking  notes.  
The tape recorder was nowhere to be seen.

"Not much, yet, but I have a few ideas.  I would  hazard to guess 
that he is younger.  Maybe in his late '20's, not from New  York, 
maybe the Coast, and has a sense of responsibility."

"How do know this?"

"Well, I don't know, I guessed from our conversations."

"Why didn't you just ask?"

"I  did.  But, he wants his anonymity.  It's the things he  says, 
the  way he says them. The only reason I know he's a he   is  be-
cause he called me on the phone first."

"When did you speak to him?"  Higgins inquired.

"Only once.  After that it's been over computer."

"So it could be anyone really?"

"Sure,  but  that doesn't matter.  It's what he did.   First,  we 
entered the computer . . ."

"What do you mean we?"  Higgins shot Scott a disapproving stare.

"We.  Like  him and me.  He tied my computer to his  so  I  could 
watch what he was doing.  So, he gets into the computer . . ."


"With the passwords.  There were three."

"How did he get them?"

"From  another hacker I assume. That's another story."  The  con-
stant interruptions exasperated Scott. "Let me finish, then grill 
me. O.K.?"  

Higgins nodded.  Sure.

"So,  once we were in, he could do anything he wanted.  The  com-
puter  thought he was the Systems Administrator, the head  honcho 
for  all the bank's computer operations.  So we had  free  reign.  
The first place we went was to Account Operations.  That's  where 
the general account information on the bank's customers is  kept.  
I asked him for information on you.  Within seconds I knew a  lot 
about  you."  Higgins frowned deeply. "From there, he  asked  for 
detailed information on your  files; credit cards, payment histo-
ry,  delinquencies,  loans  on cars, IRA's,  the  whole  shooting 

"I have to interrupt here, Scott,"  Higgins said edgily.   "Could 
he, or you have made changes, to, ah . . .my account?"

"We did!"  

"You made changes?  What changes?"  Higgins was aghast.

"We took all your savings and invested them in a new startup fast 
food franchise called Press Rat and Wharthog Sandwiches, Inc."

"You have got be kidding."  Scott saw the sweat drops at Higgins' 

"Yeah,  I am.  But he did show me how easy it is to make  adjust-
ments in account files.  Like pay off loans and have them  disap-
pear, invoke foreclosures, increase or decrease balances, whatev-
er we wanted to do."

"Jesus Christ!"

"That's not the half of it.  Not even a millionth of it.  See, we 
went  through  lots  of accounts.  The bank  computer  must  hold 
hundreds  of thousands of account records, and we had  access  to 
them all.  If we had wanted to, we could have erased them all, or 
zeroed them out, or made everyone rich overnight."

"Are  you  telling me,"  Higgins spoke carefully, "that  you  and 
this  . . .hacker, illegally entered a bank computer and  changed 
records and . . ."

"Whoah!" Scott held up his hands to slow Higgins down.  "We  left 
everything the way it was, no changes as far as I could tell."

"Are you sure?"

"No,  I'm not.  I wasn't in the driver's seat.  I went along  for 
the ride."

"What  else did you do last night, Scott?"  Higgins  sounded  re-
signed  to more bad news. The legal implications must  have  been 
too much for him to handle.  

"We  poked around transfer accounts, where they wire  money  from 
one  bank  to another and through the Fed  Reserve.   Transaction 
accounts, reserves, statements, credit cards.  Use your  imagina-
tion.  If a bank does it, we saw it.  The point is, John,  I need 
to know two things."

John  Higgins sat back, apparently exhausted.  He knew  what  was 
coming,  at least half of it.  His expression told Scott  to  ask 
away.  He could take it.

"First, did I do anything illegal, prosecutable?  You know what I 
mean.  And, can I run with it?  That's it."

Higgins' head leaned back on the leather head rest as he began to 
speak deliberately.  This was going to be a lawyer's  non-answer.  
Scott was prepared for it.

"Did you commit a crime?"  Higgins speculated.  "My gut  reaction 
says no, but I'm not up on the latest computer legislation.   Did 
you, at any time, do anything to the bank's computers?"

"No.  He had control.  I only had a window."

"Good, that helps."  The air thickened with anticipation as  Doug 
and Scott both waited for words of wisdom.  "I could make a  good 
argument that you were a reporter, with appropriate  credentials, 
interviewing an individual, who was, coincidentally, at the  same 
time,  committing a crime.  That is, if what he did was a  crime.  
I don't know the answer to that yet.

"There  have been countless cases where a reporter has  witnessed 
crimes and reported on them with total immunity.  Yes, the more I 
think  about it, consider this."  Higgins seemed to have  renewed 
energy.   The  law was his bible and Scott was listening  in  the 
congregation. "Reporters have often gone into hostage  situations 
where there is no doubt that a crime is in progress, to report on 
the condition of the hostages.  That's O.K..  They have  followed 
drug dealers into crack houses and filmed their activities."

Higgins  thought  a  little more. "Sure, that's  it.   The  arena 
doesn't  change  the  rules.  You said you  couldn't  affect  the 
computers, right?"  He wanted a confirmation.

"Right.   I  just  watched.  And . . .asked  him  to  do  certain 

"No you didn't!  Got that?  You watched, nothing else!"   Higgins 
cracked sharply at Scott.  "If anyone asks, you only watched."

"Gotcha."   Scott recognized the subtle difference.  He  did  not 
want to be an aider or abettor of a crime.

"So, that makes it easy.  If you were in the hackers home, watch-
ing him over his shoulder, that would be no different from watch-
ing  him  over  a computer screen."  He  sounded  confident.   "I 
guess."   He sounded less confident.  "There is very little  case 
history on this stuff, so, if it came to it, we'd be in an inter-
esting position to say the least.  But, to answer your  question, 
no, I don't think that you did anything illegal."

"Great.   So  I  can write the story and  . . ."   Scott  made  a 
forgone conclusion without his lawyers advice.  There was no  way 
Higgins would let him get away with that.

"Hold your horses.  You say write a story, and based upon what  I 
know so far, I think you can, but with some rules."

"What  kind  of rules?"  Skepticism permeated  Scott's  slow  re-

"Simple  ones.   Are you planning on printing  the  passwords  to 
their computers?"

"No, not at all. Why?"

"Because,  that is illegal.  No doubt about it.  So,  good,  rule 
one is easy.  Two, I want to read over this entire file and  have 
a  review of everything before it goes to bed. Agreed?"   Higgins 
looked  at Doug who had not contributed much.  He merely  nodded, 
of course that would be fine.

"Three, no specifics.  No names of people you saw, nothing exact.  
We do not want to be accused of violation of privacy in any  way, 
shape or form."

"That's  it?"  Scott was pleasantly surprised. What  seemed  like 
common  sense to him was a legal spider web that Higgins was  re-
quired to think through.

"Almost. Lastly, was this interview on the record?"

Damn good question, Scott thought.  "I dunno.  I never asked,  it 
didn't  seem  like a regular interview, and since  I  don't  know 
Kirk's real name, he's not the story.  It was what he did that is 
the story.  Does it matter?"

"If the shit hits the fan it might, but I think we can get around 
it.  Just be careful what you say, so I don't have to redline 90% 
of it.  Fair enough?"

Scott  was  pleased beyond control.  He stood to  thank  Higgins.  
"Deal.  Thanks."  Scott began to turn.

"Scott?"  Higgins called out.  "One more thing."

Oh  no, he thought, the hammer was dropping.  He turned  back  to 
Higgins.  "Yeah?"

"Good  work.   You're  onto something.  Keep it up  and  keep  it 

"No problem."  Scott floated on air.  "No, problem at all."

Back at his desk, Scott called Hugh Sidneys.  He still worked  at 
State First, as far as he knew, and it was time to bring him  out 
of the closet, if possible. 

"Hugh?"   Scott said affably.  "This is Scott Mason, over at  the 

"Yeah?  Oh,  hello,"  Sidneys said suspiciously.   "What  do  you 

"Hugh, we need to talk."  

"About what?"

"I think you know.  Would you like to talk here  on the phone, or 
privately?"  Sometimes leaving the mark only two options, neither 
particularly  attractive,  would keep him  within  those  bounds.  
Sidneys was an ideal person for this tact.

The  pregnant pause conveyed Sidney's consternation.   The  first 
person to speak would lose, thought Scott.  Hugh spoke.

"Ah,   I  think  it  would  be  .  .  .ah  better  .  .  .if   we 
spoke . . .at . . ."

"How about the same place?" Scott offered.

"OK," Hugh was hesitant.  "I guess so . . .when?"

"Whenever you want.  No pressure."  Scott released the tension.

"I get off at 5, how about . . .?"

"I'll be there."

"Yes ma'am.  This is Scott Mason.  I'm a reporter for the  Times.  
I  will  only take a few seconds of his time. Is he  in?"   Scott 
used  his  kiss-the-secretary's-ass  voice.   Better  then  being 
aggressive unless it was warranted.

"I'll  check,  Mr.  Mason," she said.  The phone  went  on  hold.  
After  a  very few seconds, the Muzak was replaced with  a  gruff 
male voice.

"Mr.  Mason?  I'm Francis MacMillan.  How may I  help  you?"   He 
conveyed self assuredness, vitality and defensiveness. 

"I  won't take a moment, sir."  Scott actually took several  sec-
onds  to make sure his question would be formed  accurately.   He 
probably  only  had  one chance.  "We have  been  researching  an 
article on fraudulent investment practices on the part of various 
banks;  some fall out from the S&L mess." He paused  for  effect.   
"At  any  rate, we have received information that  accuses  First 
State  of  defrauding  it's investors.  In  particular,  we  have 
records  that show a complicated set of financial maneuvers  that 
are  designed to drain hundreds of millions of dollars  from  the 
assets of First State.  Do you have any comment?"

Total silence.  The quality of fiber phone lines made the silence 
all the more deafening. 

"If  you  would like some specifics, sir, I can provide  them  to 
you,"  Scott said adding salt to the wound. "In many cases,  sir, 
you are named as the person responsible for these activities.  We 
have the documents and witnesses.  Again, we would like a comment 
before we go to print."

Again Scott was met with silence.  Last try.

"Lastly, Mr. MacMillan, we have evidence that your bank's comput-
ers  have  been invaded by hackers who can  alter  the  financial 
posture  of First State.  If I may say so, the evidence is  quite 
damning."  Scott decided not to ask for a comment directly.   The 
question was no longer rhetorical, it was implicit.

If  feelings could be transmitted over phone wires,  Scott  heard 
MacMillan's  nerve  endings commence a primal scream.  The  phone 
explosively hung up on Scott.

* * * * * 

     Thursday,  December 3
     First State Bank, New York

Francis  MacMillan,  President of First State Savings  and  Loan, 
bellowed at the top of his lungs.  Three Vice Presidents were  in 
his office before 7:00 A.M.

"Who the fuck's in charge of making sure the damned computers are 

The  V.P.  of Data processing  replied.   "It's  Jeanne  Fineman, 

"Fire him."

"Jeanne is a woman . . ."

"Fire them both.  I want them out of here in 10 minutes."  McMil-
lan's virulent intensity gave his aides no room for dissent.

"Sir, why, it's almost Christmas, and it wasn't her fault . . ."

"And no bonus.  Make sure they never work near banks, or  comput-
ers ever again!  Got that?"  Everyone nodded in shock.

"Al?"   McMillan shouted.  "Buy back our stock,   quietly.   When 
the  market hears this we're in for a dump.  No one will  believe 
us  when  we  respond, and it will take us a day to  get  out  an 

"How much?" Al Shapiro asked.

"You figure it out.  Just keep it calm."  Shapiro noted it agree-

"Where the hell are the lawyers?  I want that pinko-faggot  news-
paper stopped by tonight."  McMillan's rage presaged a very, very 
bad day at First State.

"And  someone, someone, find me that shit hole worm  Sidneys.   I 
want  him in my office in 30 seconds.  Now," he violently  thrust 
his  arms  in the air, "get the hell out of here until  you  have 
some good news."

* * * * * 

     Friday,  December 4

     by Scott Mason

Since yesterday afternoon, First State Savings and Loan has  been 
in asset-salvation mode.  Upon reports that computer hackers have 
had access to First State's computers and records for some  time, 
and  can change their contents at will, the stock market  reacted 
negatively  by  a sell-off. In the first 15 minutes  of  trading, 
First State's stock plummeted from 48 1/2 to 26 1/4, a  reduction 
of  one  half its value.  Subsequently, the stock moved  up  with 
block  buying. At the noon bell, the stock had risen modestly  to 
31.  It is assumed that First State itself is repurchasing  their 
own stock in an attempt to bolster market confidence.

However,  at 2:00PM, First State contacted banking  officials  in 
New  York and Washington, as well as the SEC, to announce that  a 
rush of worried depositors had drained the bank of it's available 
hard  currency  reserves,  and would close  until  the  following 
morning  when  cash transfers would permit the bank  to  continue 

Last quarter cash holding were reported in excess of $3  Billion, 
and  First State has acknowledged that any and all monies   would 
be available to those who desired it.  In a press release  issued 
by First State at 1:00 PM they said, "A minor compromise  of  our 
computers has caused no discernible damage to the computers,  our 
customers  or the bank.  A thorough investigation has  determined 
that  the  hacker was either a figment of the  imagination  of  a 
local  paper  or was based upon unfounded  hearsay.   The  bank's 
attorneys are reviewing their options."

The  combination of the two announcements only further  depressed 
First  State  stock.   It stood at 18 7/8 when  the  SEC  blocked 
further trading.

This  is Scott Mason, who reported the news as he saw it.   Accu-


                    Chapter 15

     Sunday,   December 6
     Washington, D.C.

Miles  Foster  was busy at one of the several  computers  in  his 
Washington,  D.C. condo.  It was necessary, on a daily basis,  to 
stay  in contact with a vast group of people who  were  executing 
portions of his master plan.  He thought it was going quite well, 
exceedingly  so  in  fact.  Spread over 3  continents  he  remote 
controlled  engineers  and programmers who  designed  methods  to 
compromise computers.  With his guidance, though.  He broke  them 
into  several groups, and none of them knew they were part  of  a 
much  larger  organization, nor did they have any idea  of  their 
ultimate objective.

Each of his computer criminals was recruited by Alex; that's  the 
only  name that Miles knew. Alex.  Miles had drawn up a  list  of 
minimum  qualifications  for his 'staff'.  He forwarded  them  to 
Homosoto,  who, Miles guessed, passed them on to  the  ubiquitous 
yet  invisible  Alex.  That obviously wasn't his real  name,  but 
suitable for conversation.  

Miles had developed a profile of the various talents he required.  
One  group  needed to have excellent programming skills,  with  a 
broad  range  of expertise in operating  systems.   An  operating 
system is much like English or any other language.  It is the O/S 
that  allows  the computer to execute its commands.   Unless  the 
computer  understands  the  O/S, the computer is  deaf  dumb  and 
blind.   As a child learns to communicate, a computer  is  imbued 
with  the basic knowledge to permit it to function.  It is  still 
essentially  stupid,  that is, it can't do anything  on  its  own 
without  instructions, but it can understand them when  they  are 

In  order to violate a computer, a thorough understanding of  the 
O/S,  or  language of the computer is a must.   Good  programmers 
learn  the  most efficient way to get a computer to  perform  the 
desired  task. There are, as in any field, tricks of  the  trade.  
Through  experience,  a  programmer will learn how  to  fool  the 
computer  into doing things  it might not be designed to do.   By 
taking advantage of the features of the Operating System, many of 
them unknown and therefore undocumented by the original designers 
of  the O/S, a computer programmer is able to extract  additional 
performance from the equipment.

Similarly, though, such knowledge allows the motivated programmer 
to  bypass critical portions of the Operating System  to  perform 
specific jobs and to circumvent any security measures that may be 
present.   For example, in most of the 85,000,000 or so DOS  com-
puters in the world, it is common knowledge that when you ERASE a 
file,  you really don't erase it.  You merely erase the  NAME  of 
the file.  If a secretary was told to dispose of document from  a 
file  cabinet, and she only removed the name of each   file,  but 
left  the contents remaining in the file drawers, she would  cer-
tainly  have reason to worry for her job.  Such is an example  of 
one of the countless security holes that permeate computer land.

To  take  advantage of such glaring omissions,  several  software 
companies  were  formed that allowed users to  retrieve  'erased' 

These were among the skills that Miles wanted his people to have.  
He  needed  them to be fluent in not only DOS, but  Unix,  Xenix, 
VMS,  Mac  and a host of other Operating Systems.   He  needed  a 
group  that knew the strengths and weaknesses of every major  O/S 
to  fulfill his mission.  They needed to be able to identify  and 
exploit  the trap doors and holes in all operating  and  security 
systems.  From an engineering standpoint, Miles found it terrifi-
cally  exciting.   Over the three years he had been  working  for 
Homosoto,  Miles  and his crew designed software  techniques  and 
hardware  tools that he didn't believe were even contemplated  by 
his former employer, the NSA.

The  qualifications he sent to Homosoto were extensive,  detailed 
and  demanding.  Miles wasn't convinced that anyone but he  could 
find the proper people.  The interview process alone was  crucial 
to  determining  an applicant's true abilities,  and  a  mediocre 
programmer could easily fool a non-technical person.  While Miles 
and Homosoto agreed that all programmers should be isolated  from 
each  other, Miles felt he should know them more than by a  coded 
name  over  modem lines.  Miles lost that battle with  one  swift 
word from Homosoto. No.  

To Miles' surprise, within a few days of providing Homosoto  with 
is  recruitment lists, his 'staff' began calling him on his  com-
puter.   To  call Miles, a computer needed his  number,  and  the 
proper  security codes.  To a man, or woman, they all did.   And, 
as  he  spoke to them over the public phone lines,  in  encrypted 
form  of  course,  he was amazed at their quality  and  level  of 
technical  sophistication.   Whoever Alex was, he knew how to  do 
his job.

Over  a period of a few months, Miles commanded the resources  of 
over  100 programmers.  But, Miles thought, there  was  something 
strange  about  most of those with whom he  spoke.   They  seemed 
ready  to  blindly follow instructions  without  questioning  the 
assigned tasks.  When a programmer takes a job or an  assignment, 
he  usually knows that he will be designing a data base, or  word 
processor  or other application program.  However,  Miles'  staff 
was to design programs intended to damage computers.  

He  had  assembed the single largest virus software team  in  the 
world,  and none of them questioned the nature or ethics  of  the 
work.  Miles would have thought that while there  is considerable 
technical  talent around the world, finding people who  would  be 
willing  to  work on projects to facilitate the  interruption  of 
communications and proper computer operations would have been the 
most  difficult part of recruitment.  He realized he  was  wrong, 
although he did not know why.  Technical mercenaries perhaps?  He 
had  never  seen an ad with that as a job title,  but,  what  the 
hell.   Money can buy anything.  Weapons designers  since  Oppen-
heiner  have had to face similar moral dilemmas, and  with  wide-
spread hatred of things American, recruitment couldn't have  been 
all that difficult. 

As  he  sat in his apartment, he was receiving the  latest  virus 
designs  from one of his programmers who lived in the suburbs  of 
Paris,  France.  While there was somewhat of a  language  barrier 
when they spoke, the computer language was a common  denominator, 
and  they all spoke that fluently.  It broke down  communications 
errors.  Either it was in the code, or it wasn't.

Miles  knew  this  designer only as Claude.  Claude's  virus  was 
small, less than 2K, or 2000 characters, but quite deadly.  Miles 
went  over it and saw what it was designed to do.   Ooh,  clever, 
thought  Miles.  As many viruses do, this one attached itself  to 
the  Command.Com file of the DOS Operating System.   Rather  than 
wait  for a specific future date, the next time the computer  was 
booted, or turned on, Claude's virus in the O/S would play  havoc 
with  the  chips  that permit a printer to be  connected  to  the 
computer.  In a matter of seconds, with no pre-warning, the  user 
would  hear  a small fizzle, and smell the recognizable  odor  of 
electronic burn.  During the time the user poked his nose  around 
the  computer,  to see if the smell was real  or  imaginary,  the 
virus would destroy the contents of the hard disk.

According  to Claude, whose English was better than most  French-
men, there was a psychological advantage to this type of  double-
duty  virus.  The victim would realize that his  computer  needed 
repair  and  take it be fixed at his local computer  shop.   But, 
alas! Upon its return, the owner would find his hard disk trashed 
and attempt to blame the repairman.  Deviously clever.  Of course 
this type of virus would be discovered before too long.  After  a 
few  thousand  computers had their printer port  blown  up,  word 
would  get around and the virus would be identified.  But,  mean-
while, oh what fun. 

As Miles prepared to send Claude's latest and greatest to another 
of  his staff for analysis and debugging, the computer  dedicated 
to  speaking to Homosoto beeped at him.  He glanced over at  Nip-
Com.   He labeled all his computers with abbreviations.  In  this 
case, Nippon Communications seemed appropriate.



Miles  scooted his chair over to NipCom and entered his  PRG  re-

Here Boss-san.  What's up




What are you talking about?


I still don't know what you mean


Oh, that.  Good bit of work.


Me, why?  I didn't have anything to do with it


Nothing  to explain.  My group doesn't do that, and even if  they 
did, so what. 


Why?  It's all in good fun.  Let 'em release them all they want.


Bull.  If anything, they help us.


Getting folks good and nervous.  They're beginning to  wonder who 
they can trust. It sure as hell won't be the government. 




Not  a  chance.  Listen, there are hundreds, maybe  thousands  or 
more  of  small time hackers who poke around  computers  all  the 
time.   Sometimes they do some damage, but most of the time  they 
are  in  it  for the thrill.  The challenge.   They  are  loosely 
organized at best.  Maybe a few students at a university, or high 
school  who  fancy themselves computer criminals.  Most  of  them 
wouldn't know what to do with the information if they took it.

The only reason this one hit the papers is because First is under 
investigation  anyway, some fraud stuff.  Literally thousands  of 
computers  are attacked every day, yet those don't appear in  the 
paper  or TV.  It's kind of like rape.  Companies don't  want  to 
admit they've been violated.  And since damage has been  limited, 
at least as far as the scale upon which we function, it's a  non- 

Well,  that's the way it is.  There are maybe a half  dozen  well 
coordinated hacking groups who care to cause damage.  The rest of 
them, ignore them.  They're harmless.


There's not much we can do about it.


We  can't.   Look at our plans.  We have hundreds of  people  who 
have a single purpose. We operate as a single entity.  The  hack-
ers  are only a small thorn.  Industry can't do much about  them, 
so they ignore them.  It is better that we ignore them, too.






I told you, you can't do that. It's impossible.  Call the Arab.


What do you want me to do with them?


I'll see what I can do. 



Fuck, thought Miles.  Sometimes Homosoto can be such an  asshole.  
He doesn't really understand this business.  I wonder how he  got 
into it in the first place.  

He remembered that he had to get Claude's virus properly analyzed 
and tested, so he sent it off to an American programmer who would 
perform  a  sanity-check on it.  If all went well he  would  then 
send it out for distribution into America's computers through his 
BBS system set up just for that purpose.

With  Diet  Coke and Benson and Hedges Ultra Lights  in  hand  he 
figured he might as well have someone look into Homosoto's  para-
noia.   With  some luck they could get a lead on  this  anonymous 
hacker and maybe Homosoto would leave him alone for a few  hours.  
The  constant interruptions and micro-management was a  perpetual 
pain in the ass. 

Miles  moved over to his BBS computer and told ProCom to dial  1- 
602-555-3490.   That  was the phone number of  the  Freedom  BBS, 
established  by Miles and several recruits that Alex had so  ably 
located.   It  was mid morning Arizona time.   Revere  should  be 


          Welcome to the Freedom BBS
          Owned and Operated by the
          Information Freedom League

     Are You a Member of the IFL?  Y

     Pause . . .


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

     FREEDOM FLASH!!!!!!!!!

     Another  hacker has been convicted of a computer  crime  and 
     has been sentenced to 1 Year in jail, a fine of $25,000  and 
     2000 hours of community service!  

     His  crime?  Larry Johnson, a respected hacker from  Milwau-
     kee,  WI,  was a founding member of the 401  Group  over  10 
     years ago.  Since then he has been hacking systems  success-
     fully  and  was caught after he added $10,000  to  his  bank 

     GOOD FOR THE SECRET SERVICE!  Congratulations Guys!

     The  IFL believes in a free exchange of information for  all 
     those who wish to be willing participants.  We  whole-heart-
     edly  condemn all computer activities that violate  the  law 
     and code of computer ethics.  All members of IFL are expect-
     ed to heed all current computer legislation and use  comput-
     ers exclusively for the betterment of mankind.

     Any  IFL member found to be using computers in  any  illegal 
     fashion  or for any illegal purpose will be reported to  the 
     Computer Crime Division of the Secret Service in Washington, 

     Remember, hacking is a crime!

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

A  little thick, thought Miles, but effective.   And a stroke  of 
genius.   He  patted himself ion the back every time he  saw  how 
effective Freedom, his computer warfare distribution system was.






     Pause . . .


Betch'ure ass.  Revere? How's trix?


Trying to make a profit.  Hey, we gotta talk.


No whisper.



     Pause . . . 
     Pause . . .


Still here.


Me too.  


Couple  of days, sure.  Some doosies.


A  graphics program that kicks the living shit out of VGA  Master 
and Paint Man. Deadly too.


Copies portions of itself into Video RAM and treats it as a  TSR.  
Next  program you load gets infected from Video RAM  and  spreads 
from there.  Undetectable unless you're running debug at the same 
time and looking for it.  Then it stealths itself into all  V-RAM 
applications and spreads outside the O/S.  


I  forget  the  exact trigger mechanism, but  it  gives  constant 
parity errors.  Nothing'll run.


Also have a few Lotus utilities, a couple of games.


How many? 


Anyone sending money?


Shit.  That's not what we wanted.


Yeah Yeah Yeah.  Need some info.


You hear about the First Bank hacker?


You're kidding


Was it us?


Then who, really?




Since  now.  Things are heating up too soon.  I need to know  who 
pulled the job.


Whoever did it is not likely to advertise it openly.  We may need 
to pull him into the open.


Here's my thinking.  Assume the hack is just a kid.  He's getting 
no  credit and receives a shitty allowance.  So, we offer  a  re-
ward.   Whoever can prove that they are the one's who broke  into 
First Bank, we'll send them a new 386.  Whatever, use your imagi-


If  it's a pro, no.  But this doesn't ring of a pro.   The  news-
papers know too much.  


Just  get me his number and shipping address.  Make sure he  gets 
the computer too.  


Keep up the good work.  Oh, yeah.  I need the estimates.


Love it.  Peace.



* * * * *

     Monday, December 7
     New York City

The phone on Scott Mason's desk had been unusually, but grateful-
ly quiet.  Higgins had been able to keep the First State  lawyers 
at  bay with the mounds of information the paper had  accumulated 
on  MacMillan's doings.  The bank's stock was trading again,  but 
at a dilution of over 75%.  Most individual customers had  cashed 
out  their accounts, including Higgins, and only those long  term 
portfolios  remained.  Scott's stories on First Bank had won  him 
recognition by his peers.  No awards, but an accolade at the  New 
York Journalists Club dinner.  Not bad, he thought.

Now the hard work continued for him.  The full background  analy-
ses, additional proof, more witnesses now that Sidneys was  under 
Federal  indictment and out of work.  MacMillan was  in  trouble, 
but  it  was clear to Scott, that if the heat got turned  up  too 
much, there was a cache of millions offshore for the person  with 
the right access codes.

His phone rang.

"Scott Mason."

"Hey, Scott this is Kirk.  We gotta talk, I'm in trouble."   Kirk 
sounded panicked.

"Damn Klingons," Scott cracked. 

"Seriously, I'm in trouble.  You gotta help me out."  

Scott realized this was no prank.  "Sure, sure, calm down.   What 

"They  found  me,  and they got into my  computer  and  now  it's 
gone . . .shit, I'm in trouble.  You gotta help me."

"Kirk!"  Scott shouted.  "Kirk, relax, ground  yourself.   You're 
not making sense.  Take it from the beginning."

Kirk exhaled heavily in Scott's ear, taking several deep breaths.  
"O.K., I'm O.K., but should we be talking on the phone?"

"Hey, you called me . . .,"  Scott said with irritation.

"Yeah, I know, but I'm not thinking so good.  You're right,  I'll 
call you tonight." 


* * * * *

Nightline  was  running  its closing credits  when  Scott's  home 
computer  beeped  at him.  Though Kirk had not told him  when  to 
expect  a call, all other communications had begun  precisely  at 
midnight, so Scott made  a reasonable deduction. 

The  dormant  video  screen came to life as   the  first  message 


That was unlike Kirk to start a conversation that way.



Now it was Scott's turn to be suspicious.

Prove it.


Prove it.


So did half of the crack pots in New York


So were the others. 


Good  enough.  You sound as scared here as you did on the  phone.  
I thought computers didn't have emotion.


OK, what's up.




How? What?


What did you do?




You sure?


And you think I did something.


Thanks, Why?


Excuse me?


What is?


What did it say?


That doesn't make sense.


Nobody except terrorists leave their calling card, and then  only 
when  they're sure they can't be caught.  I would bet dollars  to 
donuts that First State had nothing to do with it.


No,  I'm  not  sure, not 100%, but it  doesn't  add  up.   You've 
stepped  on somebody's toes, and it may or may not have  anything 
to do with First State.  They're just trying to scare you.


Have you called the police.


So I see.  Who else knew about your trips through the bank, other 
than me. I will assume I'm not the guilty party.


No one else?


Let me ask you.  If you wanted to find out who was hacking where, 
how  would you find out?  Let's say you wanted to know what  your 
friends were doing.  Is there a way?


And you told no one? No one?


What's Freedom?


What do they do?


Is that significant?


Do they make money?


Non-Profit did you say? Are you sure?


What's their number?


So you are from the Coast.


That was an accident.  I really don't care.


Maybe it is the right tree.


Never mind. So, you said you told them?


Apparently it did.  


Let's say I had something to hide, and let's even say I was First 


So, a bunch of people claim to have wrecked havoc on a  computer.  
What easier way to cover all the possible bases than to  threaten 
them all.  


Right.  Get to them all.


I'm  not  saying  they did.  Do you know any of  the  others  who 
claimed responsibility?


Can you call him?


Don't  use  Freedom. Is there any other way to contact  him?   On 
another BBS?


Look.  This BBS may be the only link between the First State hack 
you and I were in on,  by the way, did you use my name?


Thanks  for the warning. HA! At any rate, you check it  out  with 
this  Da Vinci character and once you know, just call me  at  the 
office,  and  say something like, the Mona  Lisa  frowned.   That 
means  he  got  a message similar to yours.   If  the  Mona  Lisa 
smiles, then we can figure out something else. OK?




I'm serious.


bLet me ask you a question.  How many surrealistic painters  does 
it take to screw in a lightbulb?


A fish.


That's the point. Neither do I. Yet.  But you can help.   Accord-
ing  to  what  you're saying, there may be  some  weirdness  with 
Freedom.   What  do you recommend so I can dig a  little  deeper?  
Into  the whole cult of hacking.  And don't worry.  I don't  hang 
sources.  Besides, I think we may need each other.


I think you should talk to the authorities. 


Wait.   I have a friend, ex-friend, who knows about this kind  of 
thing, at least a little, and he might be of some help to you.  I 
just don't think it should go unreported.  Would you talk to him?


He probably would want a face to face, but I can't say for sure.


So can a lot of people.


A convention?


In other words, reporters are taboo.


Where is this meeting?




Why there?


What goes on?


Some name.  Is that really what they call it?


Understood.  How do I get in, what's it called?  


You're kidding.  So what do you do to get me in?


That's great, I really appreciate that.  Will you be there?


Will anyone talk to me, as a reporter?


Again,  thanks.  I'll expect your call.  And, I'll let  you  know 
what my Fed-Friend says about your problem.



* * * * * 

     Tuesday,  December 8
     Vienna, Austria

Vienna is not only the geographic center of Europe - for 45 years 
it has been the geopolitical center as well.   A neutral country, 
as  is Switzerland, it contains the highest concentration of  KGB 
and  CIA  operatives in the world.  Perhaps that  is  why  Martin 
Templer chose to meet Alex Spiradon there a week after his  meet-
ing with Tyrone Duncan at P Street.

Situated by the Danube of Strauss fame, Vienna, Austria is an odd 
mixture  of the old, the very old and nouveau European high tech.  
Downtown  Vienna is small, a semi-circle  of cobblestone  streets 
and brash illuminated billboards at every juncture.  

Templer  contacted Alex through intermediaries stationed  in  Zu-
rich.   The  agreed upon location was the third  bench  from  St. 
Stephen's  Cathedral  on the Stephansplatz, where  Vienna's  main 
street,   Karntnerstrasse-Rotenturmstrasse  changes  names.    No 
traffic is allowed on the square, on Kartnerstrasse or on Graben-
strasse,  so  it  is always packed with  shoppers,  tourists  and 
street musicians.  Ideal for a discreet meeting.

"Have  you ever seen Vienna from Old Steffel?" A deep voice  came 
from  behind where Martin was seated.   He looked around and  saw 
it was Alex.

"Many  years  ago.  But I prefer the Prater."   He spoke  of  the 
fairgrounds  2  kilometers  from town where  the  world's  oldest 
Ferris  Wheel offered an unparalleled view of the  Viennese  sur-
rounds.   Templer smiled at his old ally from the  German  Bunde-
poste.  Today though, Alex was an asset to the Agency, as he  had 
been  since he had gone freelance some years ago.   An  expensive 
asset, but always with quality information.  

"Did  you know that St. Stephen's,"  Alex gestured at the  pollu-
tion  stained  church, "is one of the finest examples  of  Gothic 
architecture in Europe?  And Vienna's paradox?"

Templer had never been a history buff.  He shook his head.

"Most  of Vienna is Baroque, in fine fashion, but there are  iso-
lated examples of Gothic.  Yet, they seem to coexist.  In peace."  
Alex's  poetic words rolled off of his well educated tongue.  The 
allegory  was not lost on Templer.  Western and Eastern  intelli-
gence services used Vienna as a no-man's land, where  information 
and people were regularly exchanged.

"It is a new world," commented Templer.  "The threats are differ-

Alex took the hint.  "Let us walk," he urged.  

They slowly strolled up the Kartnerstrasse as the Austrian night-
life took on its own distinct flavor. 

"How  long  has it been, my friend?"  Alex  casually  asked.   He 
disliked rushing into business, the way the Americans favored. 

"Damned  if  I know.  4, 5, 6 years?  Too long.  We've  had  some 
good times."  

"'85, '86 was it?  So much travel blurs the senses."  Alex  wrin-
kled  his  forehead in thought.  "Wasn't it  the  Pelton  affair?  
Yes,  that would be summer of '85."  He referred to  Ron  Pelton, 
the  ex-NSA  analyst who sold American cryptographic  secrets  to 
the Soviets. 

"Yeah,"   Templer laughed.  "That poor jerk.  I'd  forgotten  all 
about that.  Never would have caught on to the scam if it weren't 
for  Slovnov.  The KGB should tell their own to stay out  of  the 
Moulin Rouge.  Not good for business.  Ivan had to trade  Slovnov 
for  Pelton.   We  didn't find out for a year  that  they  wanted 
Pelton out anyway.  He was too fucked up for them."   

"And  now?   Who do you spy on since Sam and  Ivan  are  brothers 
again?"  Alex openly enjoyed speaking obliquely. 

"Spy?  Ha!"   Templer shook his head.  "I  got  pushed  upstairs.  
Interagency  cooperation,  political  bullshit.  I  do  miss  the 
streets though, and the friends  . . .on both sides."

"Don't  you  mean on all sides?"  Cocktail  semantics  made  Alex 
occasionally annoying.

"No,  I mean both.  At least we had class; we knew the rules  and 
how  to play.  Now every third rate country tries to stick  their 
nose in and they screw it up.  One big mess."  Templer had been a 
staunch  anti-Communist  when there were Communists, but  he  re-
spected  their  agents' highly professional  attitude,  and  yes, 

"Touch! I have missed our talks and our disagreements.  I  never 
could  talk you into something you did not believe in, could  I?"  
Alex slapped Templer lightly on his back.  Templer didn't answer.  
"Ah, you look so serious.  You came  for business, not old  memo-

"No, Alex, I'd love to chat, and we will, but I do need to get  a 
couple  of questions answered, and then, I can relax.  Perhaps  a 
trip  to  Club 24?"  Templer pointed at the bright  yellow  kiosk 
with the silhouettes of naked women emblazoned on it.  For a mere 
$300, you can buy a bottle of Chevas Regal and share it with  one 
or  two  or more of the lovely skimpily clad ladies  who  adorned 
the bar seats.  All else was negotiable in private.

"Done.   Let  us speak, now.  What can I do for you?"   Alex  ap-
proved of the plan.

"I need some information," Templer said seriously.

"That is my business, of course."

"We have a problem in the States . . ."

"As usual," Alex interrupted.

"Yes,"  Templer grinned, "as usual.  But this one is  not  usual.  
Someone, someone with connections, is apparently using  computers 
as a blackmail tool.  The FBI is investigating domestically, and, 
well,  it's our job, to look outside.  So, I figure,  call  Alex.  
That's why I'm here."

Alex  disguised  his surprise.  How had they found him?   He  now 
needed to find out what, if anything, they knew.

"Blackmail?  Computers?  That's not a lot to go on."  Alex  main-
tained absolute composure.

"Here's what we know.  And it's not much.  There appears to be  a 
wholesale blackmail operation in place.  With the number of  com-
plaints  we have gotten over the last few months, we could  guess 
that  maybe 10, or 20 people, maybe more are  involved.   They're 
after  the  big boys; the banks, some senators, folks  with  real 
money  and power.  And it's one professional job.  They  seem  to 
get  their  information from computers, from the  radiation  they 
emanate.  It's something we really want to keep quiet."

Alex  listened  quietly.   If Templer was  being  straight,  they 
didn't  know much, certainly not the scope of the  operation  nor 
Alex's  own involvement.  It was possible, though,  that  Templer 
was  playing dumb, and trying to elicit clues from Alex.   If  he 
was a suspect. 

"What  sort of demands are being made?"  Alex was going  to  play 
the game to the hilt.

"None. Yet."

"After 2 months?  You say?  And no demands?  What kind of  black-
mail   is  that?"   Alex ineffectively stifled  a  laugh.   "This 
sounds  like  some Washington paranoia.  "You really  don't  know 
what to do without an adversary, so you create one," Alex  chuck-

"Alex,  c'mon.   No shit, we got some muckity  mucks  with  their 
heads  in  a tail spin and our asses in a sling.   I  don't  know 
what's  happening,  but, whatever it is, it's causing a  pile  of 
shit bigger than Congress and smellier."

"And  you  thought I might know something about it?"   Alex  ven-

"Well,  no, or yes, or maybe," Templer said coyly.  "Who's got  a 
grudge?   Against so many people?  And then, who's also  got  the 
technology  to  do it.  There must be a lot of smart  people  and 
money in on it.  You have the best ears in Europe."  The  compli-
ment might help.

"Thank you for the over-statement, but I have only a small  group 
on  whom  I  can rely.  Certainly your own agency  can  find  out 
before I can."  Deniability and humility could raise the ante.

"We have our good days, but too many bad days." Templer was being 
sincere concluded Alex. "Listen,  I need the streets.  If there's 
nothing,  then  there's nothing.  It could be  domestic,  but  it 
smells of outside influence.  Can you help?"

Alex  stopped  to  light up a non-filtr  Gaulloise.   He  inhaled 
deeply  as  his eyes scanned the clear sky.  He  wanted  to  have 
Templer think there might be something.

"How  much  is this information worth?"   Alex  was  the  perfect 
mercenary, absolutely no allegiance to anyone other than himself.  

"We have about fifty grand for good info.  But for that price, it 
had better be good."

Alex had to laugh to himself at the American's naivete.  Homosoto 
was  paying him a hundred times that for one job.  Being a  free-
lancer  means treating all customers as equals, and there was  no 
way he would jeopardize his planned retirement for a cause or for 
a friend.  This would be easy.

"Phew!"  Alex whistled.  "Hot off the griddle, huh? I'll see  who 
knows what.  It may take a while, a week, ten days, but I'll  get 
back to you with anything I find.  No promises, though."

"I  know it's a long shot, but we have to look at all angles.   I 
really  appreciate it."  Templer sounded relieved.  He  had  just 
recruited,  for no money down, the best source of information  in 
Europe.  "Let's go have a bottle of Chevas.  On me."  The  Ameri-
can  taxpayer was about to pay for the sexual relief of a  merce-
nary enemy.

Alex made it home at 4:00 A.M. after the romp in Club 24. Or  was 
it  Club  1?  He no longer knew, no cared.  Despite  his  intense 
intoxication, he had to talk to his employer.  Somehow he managed 
to  get his computer alive.  He dialed the number in  Tokyo,  not 
knowing whether Homosoto would be in the office. 


He  responded  to both, nearly blinded from the Chevas,  yet  his 
professionalism demanded that he make immediate contact if possi-


Alex  missed the message for several seconds before forcing  him-
self  alert.   He quickly entered his opening  words  before  the 
connection would shut down.

I have been contacted.

Homosoto  apparently  never went home. He got  an  immediate  re-



The  screen  paused for several seconds.  Alex was too  drunk  to 


An old frrrriend. He called for a meeeeeeting.


He asked about the US operations.


They kkknnow about the blackmail.   But,  they're 


Looking for answers.  They know nothing.


The  FBI is looking for an answer, who is behind the  propaganda. 
They think it is very important, take it seriously.  They brought 
in the CIA and, probably, the NSA.  The effect is beginning.   We 
should be pleased.


No, it was suppressed.  The Government still controls the press.


The same reason you did.  It  is pure coincidence.


An  old friend, a colleague, called for a meeting.  He asked  for 
my help.  He tried to hire me to find out if it was foreign. 


I told him the streets, the rumors, know nothing.  That is  true. 
He never suspected me.  I was surprised.  He offered me money  to 
give him information.


$50,000 US


No, only 100 times.


Only if they equal your money.


The  CIA does not have that kind of money.  That is why the  Rus-
sians learned so much for so little.  The US does not think  they 
should pay to keep their secrets.


They call it blackmail.  They do not have the funds.


I  will tell them that it is not from here.  No, it must be  from 
the  US.   They  will believe me.  I will charge  them  for  that 


If I make them pay, yes.  If I give it for free, no.  That's  the 
American  way.   They will believe what is  easiest  to  believe.  
They do not know that this is my last job.  They cannot know.  If 
they think  that, they will suspect me.  And then, you.


They will use drugs I cannot resist.  So, I must make sure I help 


Then we negotiate.




                         Chapter 16

     Wednesday, December 9
     New York

The  late afternoon pace of the City Room at the Times tended  to 
be  chaotic.  As deadlines approached and the paper was laid  out 
for  the printers, the flurry of activity was associated with  an 
increase in the loudness of the room.   Scott Mason listened with 
one  hand over his right ear and the phone so  awkwardly  pressed 
between  his left ear and shoulder that his glasses sat askew  on 
his  face. Suddenly hanging up the phone, Scott sprung up  shout-
ing,  "I  got  it."   Several people stopped and  stared  in  his 
direction,  but  seeing nothing of concern or interest  to  them, 
they returned to their own world.

Scott  ripped a page from a notebook and ran into and around  his 
co-workers.  "Doug, I got it. Confirmed by the President."

"You're  kidding  me?" Doug stopped his  red  pencil  mid-stroke. 
"Give  it to me from the top."  He turned in his swivel chair  to 
face Scott more directly.

"It  goes like this.  A few weeks ago Sovereign Bank  in  Atlanta 
found  that someone had entered their central  computers  without 
permission."  Scott perused his notes.  "It didn't take long  for 
them to find the intruder.  He left a calling card.  It said that 
the  hackers  had found a hole to crawl through  undetected  into 
their  computers.  Was the bank interested in knowing how it  was 
done?  They left a Compuserve Mail Box.  

"As you can imagine the bank freaked out and told their  computer 
people  to fix whatever it was.  They called in the  FBI,  that's 
from my contact, and went on an internal rampage.  Those good ol' 
boys don't trust nobody," Scott added sounding like a poor imita-
tion of Andy from Mayberry.  

"Anybody  that could spell computer was suspect and  they  turned 
the place upside down.  Found grass, cocaine, ludes, a couple  of 
weapons  and  a lot of people got fired.  But no  state  secrets.  
You  talk  about a dictatorship," commented Scott  on  the  side.  
"There's  no privacy at all.  They scanned everyone's  electronic 
mail  boxes looking for clues and instead found them  staring  at 
invasion  of  privacy suits from employees and  ex-employees  who 
were fired because of the contents of their private mail.

"The  computer jocks unplugged the computers, turned them  inside 
out  and  screwed them back together.  Nothing. They found  nada.  
So  they tighten the reins and give away less passwords, to  less 
people.  That's all they figured they could do."

"This is where the fun starts."  Scott actively gestured with his 
hands as he shifted weight to his other foot.  "A few days  later 
they discover another message in their computer.  Says  something 
like,  'sorry Charlie' or something to that effect.  The  hackers 
were  back.  And this time they wanted to sell their services  to 
the  bank.  For a nominal fee, say, a million bucks,  we'll  show 
you how to sew up the holes."

"Well, what does that sound like to you?" Scott asked Doug.


"Exactly,  and ape-shit doesn't begin to describe what  the  bank 
did.  Bottom  line?  They made a deal.  We'll pay you  a  million 
bucks as consultants for 10 years.  You agree to stay out of  the 
machines  unless  we  need you.  Immunity unless  you  break  the 

"What happened?" Doug said with rapt attention.

"Sovereign bank now has three fourteen year old consultants at  a 
hundred  grand a year," Scott said choking with laughter  on  his 

"You're kidding," exclaimed Doug slapping his knees.

"No shit.  And everyone is pretty happy about it.  The kids  have 
a way to pay for a good college, they're bright little snots, and 
they get off.  The bank figures it's making an investment in  the 
future  and actually may have gotten off cheap.  It woke them  up 
to  the problems they could face if their computers did  go  down 
for  a month.  Or if they lost all their records.  Or if  someone 
really  wanted to do damage.  Thoughts like that trigger a  panic 
attack in any bank exec.  They'd rather deal with the kids.

"In  fact, they're turning it into a public relations coup.   Dig 
this," Scott knew the story like the back of his hand.  "The bank 
realized that they could fix their security problems for a couple 
of million bucks.  Not much of an investment when you're guarding 
billions.   So  they design a new ad  campaign:  Sovereign.   The 
Safest Your Money Can Be."

"Now  that's  a story," said Doug approvingly.  "Important,  fun, 
human,  and everyone comes out a winner.  A story with  a  moral.  

"Every  bit.  From the president.  They announce it all  tomorrow 
and we print tonight with their blessing. Exclusive."

"Why?  What did you have to do . . ?"

"Nothing.   He  likes the work we've been doing on  the  computer 
capers  and crime and all and thought that we would give it  fair 
coverage.  I think they're handling it like absolute gentlemen."

"How fast do you type?"

"Forty mistakes a minute.  Why?"

"You got 40 minutes to deadline."

* * * * *

     Friday, December 11
     Washington, D.C.

Throughout his years of Government service at the National  Secu-
rity Agency, Miles Foster had become a nine to fiver.  Rarely did 
he  work in the evening or on weekends. So the oddball  hours  he 
had to work during his association with Homosoto were  irritating 
and  made him cranky. He could function well enough, and  cranki-
ness was difficult to convey over a computer terminal, but  work-
ing  nights  wasn't much to his liking.  It interfered  with  his 
social responsibilities to the women.

The master plan Miles had designed years ago for Homosoto was now 
calling  for phase two to go into effect.  The beauty of it  all, 
thought Miles, was that it was unstoppable.  The pieces had  been 
put  into play by scores of people who workedfor him;  the  pro-
grammers,  the Freedom League BBS's and the infectors.  Too  much 
had  already gone into play to abort the mission.  There  was  no 
pulling back.

Only a few weeks were left before the first strike force  landed.  
The  militaristic  thinking kept Miles focussed on  the  task  at 
hand, far away from any of the personalization that might surface 
if he got down to thinking about the kinds of damage he was going 
to be inflicting on millions of innocent targets. Inside, perhaps 
deep  inside, Miles cared, but he seemed to only be aware of  the 
technical  results  of his efforts in distinction  to  the  human 
element.   The human elements of frustration,  depression,  help-
lessness - a social retreat of maybe fifty years, that was  going 
to be the real devastation above and beyond the machinery.   Just 
the way Homosoto wanted it.  To hurt deep down.  

Miles had come to learn of the intense hatred that Homosoto  felt 
toward the United States.  In his more callous moments, especial-
ly when he and Homosoto were at odds over any particular subject, 
Miles would resort to the basest of verbal tactics.

"You're  just  pissed off 'cause we nuked your family."   It  was 
meant  to  sting  and Homosoto's  reactions  were  unpredictable.  
Often violent, he had once thrown priceless heirlooms across  his 
office  shattering  in a thousand shards. A  three  hour  lecture 
ensued  on one occasion, tutoring Miles about honorable  warfare.  
Miles listened and fell asleep during more than one sermon.  

But at the bottom of it, Homosoto kept a level head and showed he 
knew  what he was doing.  The plans they formulated  were  coming 
together though Miles had no direct control over many pieces. The 
Readers  were  run by another group altogether; Miles  only  knew 
they were fundamentalist fanatics.  He didn't really care as long 
as  the  job was getting done.  And the groundhogs;  he  designed 
them, but they were managed by others.  Propaganda, yet  another, 
just as the plan called for.  Extreme compartmentalization,  even 
at the highest level.

Only  Homosoto knew all the players and therefore had the  unique 
luxury  of  viewing the grand game being  played.   Though  Miles 
designed  every nuance, down to the nth degree of how  to  effect 
the invasion properly, he was not privileged to push the chessmen 
around the board.  His rationalization was that he was being paid 
a great deal of money for the job, and he was working for a  more 
important  cause, one that would make it all worthwhile.  Perhaps 
in  another year or two when the final phases were complete,  and 
the  United States was even more exposed and defenseless than  it 
was right now, the job would be done. 

Miles' ruminating provided a calming influence during the  inter-
minable months and years that distanced the cause and effect.  In 
the  intelligence game, on the level that he had  operated  while 
with  the  NSA, he would receive information,  process  it,  make 
recommendation  and  determinations, and that  was  that.   Over.  

Now  though, Miles had designed the big picture, and  that  meant 
long  range planning.  No more instant gratification.  He was  in 
control, only partially, as he was meant to be.  He was impressed 
with  the operation. That nothing had gone awry so  far  consoled 
Miles despite the fact that Homosoto called him almost every  day 
to ask about another computer crime he had heard about.

This time is was Sovereign Bank.  Homosoto had heard rumors  that 
they  were being held hostage by hackers and was  concerned  that 
some of Miles' techies had gone out on their own.

Homosoto  reacted  to the Sovereign issue as he had  many  others 
that he seemed so concerned about.  Once Miles gave him an expla-
nation, he let the matter drop.  Not without an appropriate warn-
ing to Miles, though,  that he had better be right.

The  number of computer crimes was increasing more  rapidly  than 
Miles  or anyone in the security field had predicted only  a  few 
years  ago  and the legal issues were mounting  faster  than  the 
state  or  federal legislatures could deal with  them.   But,  as 
Miles continually reassured Homosoto, they were small timers with 
no heinous motivation.  They were mostly kids who played  chicken 
with  computers instead of chasing cars or smoking crack.  A  far 
better alternative, Miles offered.  

Just  kids having a little fun with the country's most  important 
computer systems.  No big deal.  Right?  How anyone can leave the 
front door to their computer open, or with the keys lying around, 
was beyond him. Fucking stupid.

His  stream of consciousness was broken when his NipCom  computer 
announced that Homosoto was calling. Again. Shit. I bet some high 
school  kids changed their school grades and Homosoto thinks  the 
Rosenburgs are behind it.  Paranoid gook.



That's me. What's wrong.


That's a change.  Nobody fucking with your Ninten-
do, huh?


S'pozed 2


Never Mind.  What do you need?


I know.


Sure.  Freedom is doing better than expected. Over a million now, 
maybe  a  million and a half.  The majors are  sick,  real  sick.  
Alex  has  kept my staff full, and we're putting out   dozens  of 
viruses a week.  On schedule.


I'm gonna be out for a few days. I'll call when  I 
get back.


I  carry a portable.  I will check my computer, as I  always  do. 
You have never had trouble reaching me.




A  hackers  conference.  I need a break anyway, so  I  thought  I 
might  as well make it a working vacation.  The top  hackers  get 
together  and stroke themselves, but I could pick  something  up.  
Useful to us.  


No one does.  No one.  I use my BBS alias.  Spook.

* * * * *

     San Francisco, California

Sir George Sterling checked his E-Mail for messages.  There  were 
only  2, both from Alex.  The one week holiday had been good  for 
Sir George.  Well earned, he thought.  In less than 3 months,  he 
had called over 1,700 people on the phone and let them in on  his 
little secrets, as he came to call them. 

Every month Alex had forwarded money, regular like clockwork, and 
Sir George had diligently followed instructions.  To the  letter.  
Not  so much in deference to the implicit threats issued  him  by 
Alex,  over computer and untraceable of course, but by the  pros-
pect  of continued income.  He came to enjoy the work.  Since  he 
was in America and his calls were to Americans, he had the oppor-
tunity  to dazzle them with his proper and refined accent  before 
he  let the hammer down with whatever tidbit of private  informa-
tion he was told to share with them. 

In  the beginning Sir George had little idea of what the  motiva-
tion  behind his job was, and still, he wasn't  completely  sure.  
He  realized  each call he made contained the undercurrent  of  a 
threat.   But he never threatened anyone, his  instructions  were 
explicit;  never  threaten.  So therefore, he reasoned,  he  must 
actually be making threats, no matter how veiled.

He  rather enjoyed it all.  Not hurting people, that  wasn't  his 
nature,  but he savored impressing people with his knowledge  and 
noting their reactions for his daily reports back to Alex. In the 
evenings  Sir  George searched out  small  American  recreational 
centers  inaccurately  referred to as pubs.  In  fact  they  were 
disguised  bars with darts and warm beer, but it gave Sir  George 
the chance to mingle and flash his assumed pedigree.  When  asked 
what he did for a living, he truthfully said, "I talk to people."  
About what?  "Whatever interests them."

He  became somewhat of a celebrated fixture at several 'pubs'  in 
Marin County where he found the atmosphere more to his liking;  a 
perfectly civilized provincial suburb of San Francisco where  his 
purchased  affectations  wore well on the  locals  who  endlessly 
commuted  to their high tech jobs in Silicon Valley 40  miles  to 
the south.

Hawaii  had been, as he said, "Quite the experience."   Alex  had 
informed  him  one day that he was to take a holiday  and  return  
ready  for  a  new assignment, one to which now  he  was  ideally 
suited.   Sir  George smiled to himself.  A job  well  done,  and 
additional  rewards.  That was a first for George Toft of  dreary 
Manchester, England.  

Since he did not have a printer, there was no way he would  jeop-
ardize his livelihood for a comfort so small, he read his  E-Mail 
by copying the messages into Word Perfect, and then reading  them 
at his leisure.  All E-Mail was encrypted with the Public Private 
RSA  algorithm, so he had to manually decrypt the  messages  with 
his private key and save them unencrypted.  When he was done,  he 
erased the file completely, to keep anyone else from  discovering 
the nature of his work.  Alex's first message was dated two  days 
before he returned from Hawaii.  It was actually cordial, as  far 
as Alex  could be considered cordial.  After their first  meeting 
in Athens, Alex had taken on a succinct if not terse tone in  all 

Sir George:

Welcome  back.  I hope you had a most enjoyable holiday.  It  was 
well deserved. 

We now enter phase two of our operations.  We place much faith in 
your ability and loyalty.  Please do not disrupt that confidence.

As in the past, you will be given daily lists  of 
people to call.  They are some of the people whom you have called 
before.   As  before, identify yourself and the  nature  of  your 
call.   I am sure your last call was so disturbing to them,  they 
will take your call this time as well.

 Then, once you have confirmed  their  identity, 
give  them the new information provided, and ask them  to  follow 
the  instructions  given, to the letter.  Please  be  your  usual 
polite self.


The second message was more Alex-like:

     Sir George:

     If  you have any problems with your new  assignment,  please 
     call me to arrange your termination.


* * * * *

"Hello?  Are you there?" Sir George Sterling spoke with  as  much 
elegance he could muster.  "This is John Fullmaster calling again 
for  Robert Henson."  Sir George remembered the name but not  the 

"One moment please," Maggie said.  "Mr. Henson?"  She said  after 
dialing  his intercom extension. "It's John Fullmaster  for  you. 
Line three"


"Mr.  Fullmaster.  He called once several months ago.  Don't  you 
remember?"   He thought.  Fullmaster.  Fullmaster.  Oh,  shit.  I 
thought  he  was a bad dream.  Goddamn  blackmailer.   Never  did 
figure  how  he knew about the Winston Ellis  scam.   Good  thing 
that's been put to bed and over.  

"All  right,  I'll  take  it."  He punched  up  the  third  line.  
"Yeah?"  He said defiantly. 

"Mr.  Henson?   This is John Fullmaster.  I believe  we  spoke  a 
while back about some of your dealings?  Do you recall?"

"Yes, I recall you bastard, but you're too late.  The deal closed 
last month.  So you can forget your threats.  Fuck off and  die."  
Henson used his best boardroom belligerence.

"Oh,  I  am sorry that you thought I was threatening you,  I  can 
assure you I wasn't."  Sir George oozed politeness.

"Bullshit.   I  don't know how the blazes  you  learned  anything 
about my business, and I don't really care . . ."

"I think you might care, sir, if you will allow me to speak for a 
moment."  Sir George interjected.  The sudden interruption caught 
Henson off guard.  He stood his ground in silence.

"Thank  you."   Sir George waited for  an  acknowledgement  which 
never  arrived, so he continued. "Winston Ellis is old news,  Mr. 
Henson, very old news.  I read today, though, that Miller Pharma-
ceuticals is about to have its Anti-AIDS drug turned down by  the 
FDA.   Apparently it still has too many side effects and  may  be 
too  dangerous  for  humans.  I'm sure you've  read  the  reports 
yourself. Don't you think it would be wise to tell your investors 
before  they  sink another $300 Million into a  black  hole  from 
which  there  is  no escape?"  The  aristocratic  British  accent 
softened  the  harshness of the words, but not the auger  of  the 

Henson  seethed.  "I don't know who you are," he hissed,  "but  I 
will  not  listen  to  this  kind  of  crap.   I  won't  take  it 
from . . ."

"Sorry,"  Sir George again interrupted, "but I'm afraid you  will 
listen.   The instructions are as follows.  I want $5 Million  in 
small  bills in a silver Samsonite case to be placed into  locker 
number  235 at Grand Central Station, first level.  You  have  48 
hours  to  comply. If you do not have the money  there,  we  will 
release  these  findings to the media and the SEC which  will  no 
doubt  prompt an investigation into this and other of your  deal-
ings.  Don't you think?"

Blackmail was anathema to Robert Henson, although he should  have 
felt  quite  comfortable in its milieu.  It was  effectively  the 
same stunt he performed on many of his investors.  Nobody  treats 
Robert  Henson this way, nobody.  He needed time to  think.   The 
last  time Fullmaster called it was a bluff, obviously, but  then 
there were no demands.  This time, he wanted something.  But, how 
did  he  know?  The FDA reports were still confidential,  and  he 
hoped  to  have completed raising the funds  before  the  reports 
became public, another few weeks at most.  He counted on  ineffi-
cient  government bureaucracy and indifference to delay  any  an-
nouncement.   Meanwhile though, he would pocket several  millions 
in banking fees.

"You got me.  I'll do it.  235. Right?"

"Very good, Mr. Henson.  I'm glad you see it my way.  It has been 
a  pleasure doing business with you."  Sir George sounded like  a 
used  car salesman. "Oh, yes, I almost forgot.  Please, Mr.  Hen-
son, no police.  In that case, our deal is off."

"Of  course,  no  police.  No problem.   Thanks  for  the  call."  
Henson hung up.  Fuck him.  No money, no way.  

* * * * *

"Mr. Faulkner, this is John Fullmaster."  Sir George was  sicken-
ingly sweet.  "Do you recall our last conversation?"

How  couldn't he?  This was the only call he had received on  his 
private line since that maniac had last called.  Faulkner had had 
the  number  changed at least a half a dozen times  since,  as  a 
matter  of  course, but still, Fullmaster, if that was  his  real 
name, reached him with apparent ease.

"Yes, I remember," he said tersely.  "What do you want now?"

"Just a piece of the action, Mr. Faulkner."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"Well,  according  to my records, you have lost quite  a  sum  of 
money since our last conversation, and it would be such a  shame, 
don't you agree, if California National Bank found out they  lost 
another $2 million to your bad habits?"  Sir George instinctively 
thought Faulkner was a California slime ball, never mind his  own 
actions, and he briefly thought that he might actually be   work-
ing for the side of good after all.

"You  have  a real doctor's bedside manner.  What do  you  want?"  
Faulkner conveyed extreme nervousness.

"I  think,  under the circumstances that, shall we say,  oh,  one 
million would do it.  Yes, that sounds fair."

"One  million? One million dollars?" Faulkner shrieked  from  his 
pool side lounge chair.

"Yessir,  that sounds just about right."  Sir George  paused  for 
effect.   "Now here is what I want you to do.  Go to  Las  Vegas, 
and  have your credit extended, and acquire small  bills.   Then, 
place  the  money in a silver Samsonite case  at  Union  Station.  
Locker number 12.  Is that simple enough?"  British humor at  its 

"Simple, yes. Possible, no," Faulkner whispered in terror.

"Oh,  yes, it is possible, as you well know.  You cleared up  the 
$2.4  Million you owed Caesar's only last week.  Your  credit  is 

"There's  no  way you can know that . . ."  Then it  occurred  to 
him.   The  mob.   He wasn't losing enough at  the  tables,  they 
wanted  more.   Losing money was one thing, his way, but  a  sore 
winner is the worst possible enemy.  He had no choice.  There was 
only one way out.

"All right, all right.  What locker number?"

"Twelve.   Within 48 hours.  And, I probably needn't mention  it, 
but no police."

"Of  course," Faulkner smiled to himself.  At last the  nightmare 
would be over.

"Thank you so very much.  Have a nice day."

* * * * *

"Merrill!  It's the blackmailer again. Merrill, do you hear  me?"  
Ken Boyers tried to get Senator Rickfield out from the centerfold 
of the newest Playboy.  "Merrill!"

"Oh  sorry,  Ken.  Just reading the articles.  Now what  is  it?"  
Rickfield  put  the magazine down, slowly, for one  last  lustful 

"Merrill,  that Fullmaster fellow, the one who called  about  the 
Credite Suisse arrangements . . ."

"Shut  up!   We don't talk about that in this  office,  you  know 
that!"  Rickfield admonished Ken.

"I know, but he doesn't," he said, pointing at the blinking light 
on the Senator's desk phone.

"I thought he went away.  Nothing ever came of it, did it?"  

"No,  nothing,  after we got General Young onto it,"  Boyers  ex-
plained.  "I  thought he took care of it, in his  own  way.   The 
problem just disappeared like it was supposed  to."

"Well," Rickfield said scornfully, "obviously it didn't.  Give me 
the  goddamned phone."  He picked it up and pressed  the  lighted 
button.  His senatorial dignity was absent as he spoke.

"This is Rickfield.  Who is this?"  

"Ah, thank you for taking my call.  Yes, thank you."  Sir  George 
spoke  slowly, more slowly than necessary.  This call was  marked 
critical.   That  meant,  don't screw it up.  "My  name  is  John 
Fullmaster  and  I believe we spoke about some  arrangements  you 
made with General Young and Credite Suisse."

"I  remember.  So what?  That has nothing to do with me,"   Rick-
field  retorted.  He grabbed a pen and wrote down the name,  John 
Fullmaster.  Ken looked at the scribbled writing and shrugged his 

"Ah,  but  I'm afraid it does.  I see here that  Allied  Dynamics 
recently made a significant contribution to a certain account  in 
Credite  Suisse.  There are only two signators on  the  passbook.  
It also says here that they will be building two new factories in 
your  state.  Quite an accomplishment.  I am sure your  constitu-
ents would be proud."

The  color drained from Rickfield's face.  He put his  hand  over 
the  mouthpiece  to  speak privately to Ken.   "Who  else  knows?  
Don't bullshit me, boy.  Who else have you told?"

"No  one!"  Boyers said in genuine shock.  "I want to  enjoy  the 
money, not pay attorney's fees."

Rickfield  waved  Boyers away.  He appeared  satisfied  with  the 
response.   "This  is  speculation.  You can't  prove  a  thing."  
Rickfield took a shot to gauge his opponent.

"Believe  that if you wish, Senator, but I don't think it  is  in 
either  of  our best interests to play the other for  the  fool."  
Sir  George  saw that Rickfield did not attain  his  position  as 
Chairman  of  the Senate Committee on Space,  Transportation  and 
Technology by caving in to idle demands or threats.  In fact,  in 
34  years of Senate service, Senator Merrill Rickfield  had  sur-
vived  8 presidents, counseling most of them to  varying  degrees 
depending upon the partisan attitude of the White House.

At  65,  much of the private sector would have  forced  him  into 
retirement,  but  elected Government service  permitted  him  the 
tenure  to continue as long as his constituents allowed.   Claude 
Pepper  held  the record and Merrill Rickfield's  ego  wanted  to 
establish new definitions of tenure.

His involvement with General Chester Oliver Young was recent,  in 
political terms; less than a decade.  During the Reagan  military 
buildup,  nearly  3 trillion dollars worth,  defense  contractors 
expanded  with the economy, to unprecedented levels and  profits.  
Congress was convinced that $300 Billion per year was about right 
to  defend  against a Cold War enemy that couldn't feed  its  own 
people.   The overestimates of the CIA, with selective and  often 
speculative  information provided by the  country's  intelligence 
gatherer, the NSA, helped define a decade of political and  tech-
nological achievements:  Star Wars, Stealth, MX, B1, B2 and other 
assorted toys that had no practical use save all out war.  

With that kind of spending occurring freely, and the Senate Over-
sight  Committee in a perpetual state of the doldrums, there  was 
money  to  be made for anyone part of Washington's good  ol'  boy 
network.  General Young was one such an opportunistic militarist.  
Promoted  to one star general in 1978, after two  lackluster  but 
politically  well connected tours in Vietnam, it was deemed  pru-
dent  by  the power brokers of that war to bring Young  into  the 
inner  rings of the Pentagon with the corresponding perks such  a 
position brought.  But Young had bigger and better ideas.  

He  saw countless ways to spend taxpayers money  protecting  them 
from the Communist threat of the Evil Empire, but had  difficulty 
getting support from his two and three star superiors.  It didn't 
take him long to realize that he had been token promoted to  keep 
his  mouth  shut about certain prominent people's  roles  in  the 
Vietnam  era.   Events  that were better left to  a  few  trusted 
memories than to the history books. 

So  Young decided to go out on his own and find support from  the 
legislative  branch;  find  an influential proponent  for  a  few 
specific  defense  programs by which he could profit.   Over  the 
course  of  a  few years, he and Senator  Rickfield  became  fast 
friends, holding many of the same global views and fears, if  not 
paranoias.   When  Allied  Dynamics  began  losing  Congressional 
support  for  an advanced jet helicopter project, Young  went  to 
Rickfield  for  help.   After all, Allied  was  headquartered  in 
Rickfield's  home state, and wouldn't it be a great boon  to  the 
economy?  The recession was coming to an end and that meant jobs.

Rickfield was unaware, initially, that Allied had an  arrangement 
with General Young to donate certain moneys to certain charities, 
in certain Swiss bank accounts if certain spending programs  were 
approved.   Only when Rickfield offered some later resistance  to 
the Allied projects did Young feel the need to share the  wealth.  
After  25  years in Congress, and very little money put  away  to 
show for it, Rickfield was an easy target.

Rickfield's recruitment by Young, on Allied's behalf, had yielded 
the Senator more than enough to retire comfortably on the  island 
paradise  of  his choice.  Yet, Rickfield found  an  uncontrolled 
desire  for more; considerations was his word for it, just as  he 
had  grown used to wielding power and influence in  the  nation's 
capital.   Rickfield was hooked, and Credite Suisse was the  cer-
tain  Swiss bank in question.  Ken Boyers was involved  as  well, 
almost from the start.  They both had a lot to lose.

"No, I must assume that you are not a fool, and I know for a fact 
I  am  not  one, so on that one point we  do  agree."   Political 
pausing  often allowed your opponent to hang himself  with  addi-
tional oration.   Rickfield found the technique useful, especial-
ly on novices.  "Please continue."

"Thank  you." Sir George said with a hint of patronization.   "To 
be  brief, Senator, I want you to keep your money, I  think  that 
dedicated civil servants like yourself are grossly underpaid  and 
underappreciated.   No sir, I do not wish to deny you the  chance 
to  make  your golden years pleasant after such  a  distinguished 

"Then  what is it.  What do you want from me?"  The  Senator  was 
doodling nervously while Ken paced the room trying to figure  out 
what was being said at the other end of the phone. 

"I'm glad you asked," said Sir George.  "Beginning next month you 
are  chairing  a  sub-committee that will  be  investigating  the 
weaknesses and potential threats to government computer  systems.  
As  I  remember it is called the Senate Select  Sub-Committee  on 
Privacy and Technology Containment.  Is that right?"

"Yes, the dates aren't firm yet, and I haven't decided if I  will 
chair the hearings or assign it to another committee member.   So 

"Well,  we  want you to drag down the  hearings.  Nothing  more."  
Sire George stated his intention as a matter of fact rather  than 
a request.

Rickfield's  face  contorted in confusion. "Drag  down?   Exactly 
what does that mean, to you, that is?"

"We  want you to downplay the importance of security for  govern-
ment  computers.   That there really is no threat  to  them,  and 
that government has already met all of its obligations in balance 
with  the  new world order, if you will.  The  threats  are  mere 
scare  tactics by various special interest groups and  government 
agencies who are striving for long term self preservation."   Sir 
George  had practiced his soliloquy before calling Senator  Rick-

"What  the  hell for?"  Rickfield raised his  voice.   "Security?  
Big deal!  What's it to you?"

"I am not at liberty to discuss our reasons.   Suffice it to say, 
that we would be most pleased if you see to it that the  hearings 
have minimal substance and that no direct action items are deliv-
ered.   I  believe that term you Americans so eloquently  use  is 
stonewall, or perhaps filibuster?"

"They're not the same things."

"Fine, but you do understand nonetheless.  We want these hearings 
to epitomize the rest of American politics with  procrastination, 
obfuscation  and  procedural  gerrymandering."   Sir  George  had 
learned quite a bit about the political system since he had moved 
to the States.

"And  to what aim?"  Rickfield's political sense was  waving  red 

"That's it.  Nothing more."

"And  in return?"  The Senator had learned to be direct in   mat-
ters  of additional compensation since he had hooked up with  the 
earthy General.

"I  will  assure you that the details of your  arrangements  with 
Allied Dynamics will remain safe with me."

"Until the next time, right?  This is blackmail?"

"No.  Yes."   Sir George answered.  "Yes, it  is  blackmail,  but 
without the usual messiness.  And no, there will be no next time.  
For, as soon as the hearings are over, it would be most advisable 
for  you to take leave of your position and enjoy the  money  you 
have earned outside of your paycheck."

"And,  if I don't agree to this?"  Rickfield was looking  at  his 
options which seemed to be somewhere between few and none.  Maybe 
he only had one. 

"That  would be so unfortunate." Sir George smiled as  he  spoke.  
"The  media will receive  a two page letter, it is  already  pre-
pared I can assure you, detailing your illegal involvements  with 
Allied, General Young and Mr. Boyers."

"What's in it for you?  You don't want any money?"  The confusion 
in Rickfield's mind was terribly obvious, and he was sliding on a 
logical Mobius loop. 

"No Senator, no money.  Merely a favor."

"I will let you know what I decide.  May I have your number?"

"I do not need to contact you again.  Your answer will be evident 
when  the  hearings begin.  Whatever course you pursue,  we  will 
make an appropriate response."

* * * * * 

"Scott!"  A woman called across the noisy floor.  "Is your  phone 
off the hook?"

"Yeah,  why?"  He looked up and couldn't match the voice  with  a 

"You gotta call."

"Who is it? I'm busy."

"Some  guy from Brooklyn sounds like.  Says he got a package  for 

Holy  shit.  It's Vito!  Scott's anonymous caller.  The  one  who 
had caused him so much work, so much research without being  able 
to print one damn thing.  

Not yet.

"Yeah,  OK.  It's back on."  The phone rang instantly  and  Scott 
rushed to pick it up on the first ring.

"Yeah, Scott Mason here."  He sounded hurried.

"Yo!   Scott.   It's  me, your friend, rememba?"   No  one  could 
forget the accent that sounded more fake than real.  He had  been 
nicknamed Vito for reference purposes by Scott.

"Sure  do, fella," Scott said cheerily.  "That bunch of shit  you 
sent me was worthless.  Garbage."

"Yeah,  well,  we may have fucked up a little  on  that.   Didn't 
count on youse guys having much in the ethics department if youse 
know what I mean."  Vito laughed at what he thought was a  pretty 
good  joke. "So, we all screw up, right?  Now and  again?   Never 
mind  that,  I got something real good,  something  youse  really 
gonna like."

"Sure you do."

"No, really, dig this.  I gotta list of names that . . . "

"Great another list.  Just what I need.  Another list."

"Whad'ar'ya,  a  wise guy?  Youse wanna talk or  listen?"   Scott 
didn't  answer.   "That's better, cause youse  gonna  like  this.  
Some  guy  named  Faulkner, big shit banker from La  La  Land  is 
borrowing  money from the mob to pay off a blackmailer.   Another 
guy, right here in New York Shitty, a Wall Street big shot called 
Henson, him too.  Another one named Dobbs, same thing.  All being 
blackballed by the same guys. Youse want more?"

"I'm writing, quiet.  Faulkner, Henson and Dobbs, right?"

"That's whad'I said, yeah."

"So how come you know so much?"

"That's my job. I deal in information.  Pretty good, huh?"

"Maybe. I gotta check it out.  That last stuff was . . ."

"Hey!"  Vito interrupted, "I told youse 'bout that.  Eh,  paysan, 
what's a slip up among friends, right?"

"I'll ignore that.  Gimme a couple of days, I'll call you."

"Like  hell  you will. I'll call you.  You'll see, this  is  good 
stuff.  No shit.  All right? Two days."


* * * * *

     Monday,  December 14
     Washington, D.C.

The  FBI runs a little known counter intelligence operation  from 
the  middle of a run down Washington, D.C. neighborhood  on  Half 
Street.   Getting  in and out is an exercise in  evasive  not  to 
mention  defensive driving.  The South East quadrant of  Washing-
ton,  D.C. is vying for the drug capital of the nation, and  per-
haps  has  the dubious distinction of having the  highest  murder 
rate  per capita in the United States. Since the CI  division  of 
the  FBI  is a well kept secret, its location  was  strategically 
chosen  to keep the casual passerby from stopping in for a  chat. 
Besides,  there was no identification on the front of the  build-

Most  Americans think that the CIA takes care of  foreign  spies, 
but their agents are limited to functioning on foreign land.   On 
the domestic front the FBI Counter Intelligence Group is assigned 
to  locate and monitor alien intelligence activities.  For  exam-
ple,  CI-3 is assigned to focus on Soviet and East  Bloc  activi-
ties, and other groups focus on their specific target  countries. 
Thus,  there  is a certain amount of competition, not all  of  it 
healthy,  between the two agencies chartered to protect  our  na-
tional  interests.  The CIA is under the impression that it  con-
trols all foreign investigations, even if they tread upon  United 
States  territory.   This line of thinking has  been  a  constant 
source  of irritation and inefficiency since the OSS  became  the 
CIA  during  the Truman administration.  Only during  the  Hoover 
reign  at the FBI days was there any sense  of peaceful  coexist-
ence.  Hoover did what he damn well pleased, and if anyone  stood 
in  his  way,  he simply called up the White House  and  had  the 
roadblock removed.  Kennedy era notwithstanding, Hoover held  his 
own for a 50 year reign.

Tyrone  Duncan  received  an additional  lesson  on  inter-agency 
rivalry when he was called down to Half Street.  His orders  were 
similar to those he had received from  the safe house in  George-
town  months before.  Stick to your hackers and viruses,  period, 
he was told. If it smells of foreign influence, let the CI  fight 
it out with Langley.  Keep your butt clean.

In 25 years of service, Tyrone had never been so severely  admon-
ished for investigating a case that he perceived as being  domes-
tic in nature.  The thought of foreign influences at work had not 
occurred to him, until CI brought it up.  

As  far as he was concerned the quick trip from New York to  Half 
Street  was  a bureaucratic waste of time  and  money.   However, 
during the fifteen minute discussion he was told by his CI compa-
triots that both the blackmail and the ECCO investigations situa-
tions had international repercussions and he should keep his nose 
out  of  it.  CI was doing just fine without  Tyrone's  help.The 
meeting, or warning as Tyrone Duncan took it, served to raise  an 
internal flag.  

There  was a bigger picture, something beyond a classical  black-
mail operation and some hackers screwing with government  comput-
ers,  and he was being excluded.  That only meant one thing.   He 
was  pushing  someone's button and he didn't know how,  where  or 
why.   The  Trump Shuttle flight back to La Guardia  gave  Tyrone 
time  to  think  about it, and that only  incensed  him  further. 
Aren't  we all on the same team?  If I stumbled  onto  something, 
and you want me to back off, O.K., but at least let me know  what  
I'm missing.

Twenty  five  years and a return to Hoover paranoia.   He  under-
stood,  and  advocated,  the need for secrecy,  privacy  and  the 
trappings  of  confidentiality.   But,  compartmentalization   of 
information this extreme was beyond the normal course to which he 
was accustomed.  The whole thing stunk.

He  arrived back at New York's Federal Square during lunch  hour. 
Normally there was a minimal staff at that hour, or hour and half 
or  two hours depending upon your rank.  When the elevator  doors 
opened on Level 5, seventy feet under lower Manhattan, he  walked 
into  a  bustle of activity normally present only  when  visiting 
heads  of state need extraordinary security.  He was  immediately 
accosted  by  eager  subordinates.  The  onslaught  of  questions 
overwhelmed  him, so he ignored them and walked through the  maze 
directly to his office. 

His  head ringing, he plopped himself down behind his  desk.   He 
stared  at the two agents who followed him all the way, plus  his 
secretary  stood  in  the open  door,  watching  with  amusement.  
Duncan was not appreciative of panic situations.  His silence was 

"Who's first?"  He asked quietly.

The  two agents looked at each other and one spoke. "Uh,  sir,  I 
think we have a lead in the blackmail operation."  Duncan  looked 
at the other, offering him a chance to speak.

"Yessir,  it  seems  to have broken all over  at  once."   Duncan 
opened his eyes wide in anticipation.  Well, he, thought, go on.

The first agent picked up the ball.  "Demands.  The  blackmailers 
are making demands.  So far we have six individuals who said they 
were  recontacted by the same person who had first called them  a 
year ago."

Duncan sat upright.  "I want a complete report, here, in 1  hour. 
We'll talk then.  Thank you gentlemen."   They took their cue  to 
exit  and  brushed by, Tyrone's secretary  on their way  out  the 

"Yes, Gloria?"  Duncan treated her kindly, not with the  adminis-
trative brusqueness he often found necessary to motivate some  of 
his agents.

"Good  morning, or afternoon, sir.  Pleasant trip?"  She knew  he 
hated sudden trips to D.C.  It was her way of teasing her boss. 

"Wonderful!" Tyrone beamed with artificial enthusiasm.  "Book  me 
on  the  same flights every day for a month.   Definite  E-ticket 

"Do  you remember a Franklin Dobbs?  He was here some  time  ago, 
about, I believe the same matter you were just discussing?"   Her 
demureness pampered Duncan. 

"Dobbs? Yes, why?"

"He's  been  waiting all morning.  Had to see you,  no  on  else. 
Shall I show him in?"

"Yes, by all means, thank you."

"Mr.  Dobbs, how good to see you again.  Please," Duncan  pointed 
at  a  chair in front of his desk.  "Sit down.  How  may  I  help 

Dobbs  shuffled over to the chair and practically fell into   it.  
He sighed heavily and looked down at his feet.  "I guess it's all 
over.  All over."

"What do you mean?  My secretary, said you were being blackmailed 
again.   I  think you should know I'm not working  on  that  case 

"This  time it's different," Dobbs said, his eyes darting  about.  
"They want money, a lot of money, more than we have.  Last time I 
received a call I was told some very private and specific  knowl-
edge  about  our company that  we preferred  to  remain  private.  
That  information contained all our pricing,  quotation  methods, 
profit  figures, overhead . . .everything our  competitors  could 

"So  you  think  your competition is  blackmailing  you,"  Duncan 

"I  don't know.  If they wanted the information, why call me  and 
tell me?  We haven't been able to figure it out."

"What  about  the others," Duncan thought out loud.  "The  others 
with access to the information?"

"Everyone  is suspecting everyone else.  It's not healthy.   Now, 
after this, I'm thinking of packing  it in."

"Why now? What's different?"

"The demands.  I can't believe it's my competitors.  Sure, it's a 
cut throat business, but, no, it's hard to believe."

"Stranger  things have happened, Mr. Dobbs."  Duncan tried to  be 
soothing.  "The demands, what were they?"

"They  want  three million dollars, cash.  If we don't  pay  they 
said  they'd give away our company secrets  to  our  competitors.  
We don't have the cash."

Duncan felt for the man.  Dobbs had been right.  There was  noth-
ing the FBI could have done to help.  No demands, no  recontacts, 
and no leads, just a lot of suspicion.  But, now, the Bureau  was 
in a position to help.  

"Mr. Dobbs, rest assured, we will pursue this case  aggressively.  
We  will  assign you two of our top agents, and,  in  cases  like 
this,  we are quite successful."  Duncan's upbeat tone was  meant 
to lift Dobbs' spirits.  "Was there anything else demanded?"

"No, nothing, they just told me not to go to the police."

"You haven't told anyone, have you?"  Duncan asked.

"No, not even my wife."

"Mr.  Dobbs,  let me ask you a couple more things,  then  I  will 
introduce  you to some fine men who will help you.  Do  you  know 
anyone else who is in your position?  Other people who are  being 
blackmailed in similar ways?"

Dobbs  shuffled his feet under the chair, and picked at the  edge 
of the chair.  Duncan hit a raw nerve.  

"Mr.  Dobbs,  I don't want names, no specifics.  It's  a  general 
question.  Do you know others?"

"Yes," Dobbs said almost silently.

"Do  you  know how many?"  Duncan needed details if  his  current 
line of thinking would pan out into a viable theory.

"No, not exactly."

"Is it five?  Ten?  More than Ten? Twenty-five? More than twenty-
five?"  Dobbs nodded suddenly.

"Do  you mean that you know of 25 other companies that are  going 
through  what  you're going through?  Twenty five?"   Tyrone  was 
incredulous at the prospects.  The manpower alone to  investigate 
that many cases would totally overwhelm his staff.  There was  no 
way.  The ramifications staggered him.  Twenty five, all at once.

"Yeah. At least."

"I  know you can't tell me who they are . . ." Duncan hoped  that 
Dobbs might offer a few.

"No.  But,  look  at their stocks. They're not  doing  well.  Our 
competitors seem to be getting the best of the deal."

Twenty  five cases in New York alone, and he knows of at least  6 
others, so far.  The rekindled blackmail operation, after  months 
of  dead  ends.  Duncan wondered how big the monster  behind  the 
head  could  get.  And how could the FBI handle  it  all.    Poor 
bastard.  Poor us.

* * * * *

     Tuesday, December 15
     New York

It was before 8:00 A.M. and Scott cursed himself for arriving  at 
his office at this ungodly hour.  He had found the last piece  of 
the  puzzle, didn't sleep very much, and was in high gear  before 
6:00.   Scott couldn't remember the last time he had  been  awake 
this early, unless it was coming round the long way.  He scurried 
past security, shaking his ID card as he flew through the closing 
doors on the express elevator. The office hadn't yet come to life 
so Doug McGuire was available without a wait or interruption.

"I need some expense money," Scott blurted out at Doug. 

"Yeah,  so?"   Doug  sounded exasperated  with  Scott's  constant 
requests  for money.  He didn't even look up from his  impossibly 
disorganized desk.

"I'm serious . . .," Scott came back.

"So am I."  Doug firmly laid down his pen on his desk and  looked 
at  Scott.   "What the hell kind of expenses do  you  need  now?"  
Scott  spent more money than several reporters combined,  and  he 
never  felt  bad about it.  While a great deal of  his  work  was 
performed at the office or at home, his phone bills were extraor-
dinary as were his expenses.   

Scott  had developed a reputation as willing to go to almost  any 
lengths to get a story. Like the time he hired and the paper paid 
for  a call girl to entertain Congressman Daley  from  Wisconsin.  
She  was  supposed to confirm, in any way necessary,  that  LeMal 
Chemical was buying votes to help bypass certain approval  cycles 
for their new line of drugs.  She accidentally confirmed that  he 
was  a homosexual, but not before he slipped and the lady of  the 
evening became the much needed confirmation.

As Scott put it, Daley's embarrassed resignation was  unavoidable 
collateral  damage in stopping the approval of a drug  as  poten-
tially dangerous as thalidomide. 

Or  then there was the time that Scott received an anonymous  tip 
that the Oil Companies had suppressed critical  temperature-emis-
sion  ratio calculations, and therefore the extent of the  green-
house effect was being sorely underestimated.  As a result of his 
research and detective work, and the ability to verify and under-
stand the physics involved, Scott's articles forced a re-examina-
tion  of the dangers.  He received a New York Writer's Award  for 
that series.

When  Doug had hired Scott, as a thirty-something  cub  reporter, 
they  both  thought that Scott would fit in, nice and  neat,  and 
write  cute,  introspective technical pieces.   Neither  expected 
Scott  to  quickly  evolve into a innovative  journalist  on  the 
offensive who had the embryo of a cult following. 

But  Scott  Mason also performed a lot of the more  mundane  work 
that  most  writer's  suffer with until the  better  stories  can 
justify  their full time efforts. New products, whiz  bang  elec-
tronic  toys for the kitchen, whiz bangs for the  bathroom.   New 
computer this, new software that. 

Now,  though,  he was on the track, due in part he  admitted,  to 
Doug coercing him into writing the computer virus bits.  Yes,  he 
was wrong and Doug was right.  The pieces were falling in  place.  
So, no matter what happened, it was Doug's fault.

"I'm going to Europe." 

"No you're not!"  thundered Doug.

"Yes I am. I gotta go . . ."  Scott tried to plead his case.

"You  aren't  going anywhere, and that's final."   Doug  retorted 
without a pause.  He stared challengingly through Scott.

"Doug," Scott visibly calmed himself, "will you at least hear  me 
out,  before  telling me no?  At least listen to me, and  if  I'm 
wrong, tell me why.  O.K.?"  Same routine, different day, thought 
Scott.   The calmer, sincere request elicited empathy from  Doug.  
Maybe he'd been too harsh.  

"Sorry,  it's  automatic to say 'no'.  You know  that  they,"  he 
pointed  down  with  his thumb, "have us  counting  paper  clips.  
Sure, explain to me why I'm going to say 'no',"  he joked. Doug's 
overtly stern yet fatherlike geniality returned. 

"O.K."  Scott  mentally organized his thoughts.  He  touched  his 
fingers  to his forehead and turned to sit on the edge of  Doug's 
desk.  A traditional no-no. "Without my notes . . ."

"Screw the notes, what have you got? If you don't know the  mate-
rial, the notes won't help. They're the details, not the  story."  
Scott had heard this before.  

"Sure,  sorry." He gained confidence and went straight  from  the 
hip.   "Fact one.  The FBI is investigating a  massive  blackmail 
campaign  that  nobody wants us to talk about, and  probably  for 
good  reason from what I can see. As of now, there is no clue  at 
all to whom is behind the operation.

"Fact two. My story got pulled by CIA, NSA or someone that pushed 
the AG's buttons.  And this Tempest thing gets heads turning  too 
fast  for my taste."  Doug nodded briefly.  Scott made  sense  so 
far, both things were true.  

"Three,"  Scott  continued, "First State has been the  target  of 
hackers, plus, we have Sidneys . . ."

"Sort of.  McMillan hasn't caved in on that yet."

"Agreed,  but  it's still good.  You and I both know  it."   Doug 
grudgingly nodded in agreement.  

"Then we have all those papers that came from a van, or more than 
one van I would guess, and not a damned thing we can do with them 
according to Higgins."  Again, Doug nodded, but he wondered where 
all  of this was going.  "Then the EMP-T bombs, NASA,  the  Phone 
Company,  and all of these viruses.  What we have is a number  of 
apparently  dissimilar events that have one  common  denominator: 

Scott  waited  for a reaction from Doug that didn't  come  so  he 
continued.   "Don't you see, the van with the computer data,  the 
endless  files,  the Sidneys problems, pulling  my  stories,  the 
hackers?  Even the viruses.  They're starting to get a little out 
of hand.  It's all the same thing!"

Doug  rolled his head from side to side on his shoulder.   Rather 
than boredom, Scott knew that Doug was carefully thinking through 
the logic of it.  "Aren't you acting the engineer instead of  the 
reporter here?  Miss the old line of work 'eh?"

"Give  me a break!  You and your viruses are the ones who got  me 
into this mess in the first place."  Scott knew it would come up, 
so  he had been ready and grabbed the opportunity Doug  had  just 
given  him.   "That's exactly the point!"  Scott leaped  off  the 
desk to his feet.  "All we have are technical threads, pieces  of 
a  puzzle.  It's a classic engineering problem."  Although  Scott 
had  never been a brilliant engineer, he could argue  the  issues 

"Let me give you an example.  When I was in defense  electronics, 
whenever  someone  built something we had  to  document,  without 
failure,  it didn't work.  Radar, navigation, communications,  it 
didn't matter. The engineers forever were releasing products that 
failed  on  the first pass."  Doug stopped rolling his  head  and 
looked at Scott with a blank stare.

"We had these terrifically advanced products meant to defend  our 
country  and they didn't work.  So, we had to tell the  engineers 
what  was wrong so they could figure it out.  Our  own  engineers 
and  I got involved more times than we liked because the response 
time  from  the contractors was for shit.  They didn't  care  any 
more.   Since we hadn't designed it, we only saw the pieces  that 
were  on  the fritz, we had symptoms and had to figure  out  what 
they  meant in order to diagnose the failure so we could get  the 
designers  to  come  up with a fix.  The point is,  we  only  had 
shreds  of  evidence, little bits of technical  information  from 
which  to try to understand the complete system.  That's  exactly 
what's going on here."

"So?" Doug said dead panned.

"So," Scott avoided getting incensed. "You're damn lucky you have 
me  around.   I see a pattern, a trail, that leads I  don't  know 
where, but I have to follow the trail.  That's my job."

"What has Europe got to do with it?"  Doug was softening.

"Oops, thanks! I almost forgot."  Scott felt stupid for a second, 
but  he  was without notes, he rationalized. "Kirk is  my  hacker 
contact who I've been talking to over my computer. Gives me  real 
good stuff.  He says there's a conference of hackers in Amsterdam 
next week.  It's a real private affair, and he got me an  invite. 
I think, no I know, there's something bigger going down;  somehow 
all of these pieces tie together and I need to find out how."

"That's it?"  Scott looked disappointed at Doug's reaction.  

"No, that's not it!  You know that the Expos has been publishing 
bits and pieces of the same stuff we haven't been publishing?"

Scott didn't know which of his arguments made the case, but  Doug 
certainly reacted to the competitive threat.  "How much?"

"How much what?"  Scott wasn't ready for the question.

"For Europe?  How much play money will you need.  You know I have 
to sell this upstairs and they  . . ."

"Airfare  and a couple of nights plus food.  That's it.   If  you 
want,"   Scott  readied the trump card he had never used  at  the 
Times.  "I'll  pay for it myself, and submit it all when  I  come 
back.  Then, you make the call. I'll trust you."

"You really think it's that important?"  Doug said.

"Absolutely.   No  question.  Something's going  on  that  smells 
rotten,  bad, and it includes the Government, but I have no  idea 
how."   Scott spoke as if he was on a soapbox.  He had  shot  his 
wad.  That was it.  Anything more was a rehash of the same  stuff 
and  it  would have been worthless to say more.  He shut  up  and 
waited  for Doug who enjoyed making his better reporters  anxious 
with anticipation.

"Have  a good trip,"  Doug said nonchalantly.  He leaned  forward 
to  hunch  over  his desk, and ignoring Scott, he  went  back  to 
redlining another writer's story.  

* * * * * 

     Tuesday, December 15
     Scarsdale, New York

Kirk  delivered  on his word.  In his E-Mail  repository  at  the 
Times,  Scott found a message from Kirk.  It was short,  but  all 
Scott needed to hear.  Never mind how Kirk broke into the comput-

     Tues.  12/15  00:02:14.1
     << FREEDOM BBS >>

Repo Man,  

When  you  arrive, call 602-356.  It's an Amsterdam  number.  Jon 
Gruptmann is your contact.  I told him you were a reporter, but a 
good one. I said you're working to preserve freedom of electronic 
information  and you were sick and tired of the police and  media 
beating up on hackers.  He thinks you want to give the other side 
of the story to the public. 

Jon is one of the best in Holland and  anywhere.  
He  agreed to meet and talk with you himself.  He will  show  you 
around. Have a good trip.  Call me, oops, no can do.  

Oh, Yes.  Mona Lisa frowned. I will call you.



When Scott got home from work he checked his E-mail and found the 
same  message from Kirk, telling him to be on the  line  tonight.  
The  Mona  Lisa frowned.  That meant to Scott  that  someone  was 
interested enough in Kirk's activities, or alleged activities  at 
First State to break in and ruin his computers.  And Da  Vinci's.  
Who was so scared of hackers, or of what they knew to go to these 
lengths?  How many have had their computers ravaged? 

As anticipated, midnight brought Kirk calling.


After who?


What's wrong?




Strange? Over a computer?


You're putting me on.  


Dude?  Good reason to be suspicious.


How can you do that?


Ah hah!




Don't get yourself into hot water again . . .


* * * * *

     Friday, December 18
     New York 

     U.S. Army on Virus Vigil!
     by Scott Mason

In July of 1990, the United States Army joined the inner  sanctum 
of the Computer Hacker.  

The Pentagon had finally realized that the computer is as  essen-
tial  to battlefield operations and communications as is the  gun 
and the radio.

Therefore,  as  the logic goes, why shouldn't  the  computers  be 
directly attacked as are other military targets.  In keeping with 
that  line  of  thinking, the Army said,  use  computer  viruses.  
Viruses are those little gremlins which roam throughout a comput-
er  system,  hiding  themselves in silicon  gulches,  waiting  to 
ambush mountains of megabytes and erase deserts of data.  Perfect 
for modern warfare.

The Army issued an RFP, (Request For Proposal) asking the private 
sector to study and design computer viruses and other methods  to 
be  used offensively against enemy computers.  The  half  million 
dollar contract was awarded to a Beltway Bandit, a small  govern-
ment  sub-contractor so named for their proximity  to  Interstate 
495, which loops around Washington, D.C.  

So, the Army is going into the hacking business, but this  brings 
up quite a few questions. 

Question  I.   How long has the Government  known  that  computer 
viruses and other maladies could be used in a strategic militari-
ly offensive fashion?  RFP's are always preceded by much internal 
research  and consultation with private industry. The  Government 
typically will have issued RFI's, (Requests For Information)  and 
RFQ's  (Request For Quotes) and already have a darn good idea  of 
what's available and from whom.  

Question II.  Has the Government already sponsored such research?  
The existence of the EMP-T Bomb has created quite a furor.

Question  III.   What if the Army created  experimental  computer 
viruses and they get loose?  Who is responsible for silicon based 
biological warfare on desktop computers?

Question  IV.   Have any computer viral outbreaks  actually  been 
Government projects  gone out of control?

Question  V.  If the Government knew that civilian  and  military 
computers  could  be systematically attacked and  destroyed,  why 
haven't  we done anything to defend ourselves against  a  similar 

Last  month's attack on the Stock Exchange by secret EMP-T  bombs 
prompted  an investigation into such military  capabilities,  and 
some surprising answers were uncovered.

In  an  attempt to get specific answers from  various  Government 
agencies, I located a secretive group called OCTAG/0N. (Offensive 
Computer Technology Applications Group/Zero-November).   OCTAG/0N 
is a highly classified interagency project whose sole function is 
to  develop  methods to destroy or disable computers  from  great 

According  to  a highly placed source at the  Pentagon,  OCTAG/0N 
allegedly  developed computer viruses that will destroy the  ene-
my's hard disks.  Successful deployment, to use Pentagon-ese,  is 
the  hard part.  "If we can get at their computers," an  engineer 
with  OCTAG/0N said requesting anonymity, "we can stop  them  in-
stantly.   Getting them there has been the problem.  But  now  we 
know how to get at their computers from great distances."

In the battlefield, for example, advanced tactical communications 
groups  explode  small  Magnetic Bombs (EMP-T)  which  emit  very 
strong  electromagnetic  pulses at certain frequencies.   The  EM 
pulses  destroy  nearby  computers, (RAM,  ROM,  EPROM,  Magnetic 
storage).   Some  computer  systems  are  'hardened'  with  extra 
shielding  as in the Tempest program.  Other computers,  such  as 
those in Air Force One, inside missile silos, or in the  Pentagon 
War  Room are additionally protected by the secret  C3I  programs 
which 'super-hardens' the computers against the intense  magnetic 
pulses associated with above ground nuclear explosions.

Intensely focussed energy beams of low power can totally  disrupt 
an unshielded computer as far away as three miles.   Synchronized 
Interference Techniques provide double duty to both listen in  on 
and jam air borne computer traffic.  One of OCTAG/0N's pet tricks 
is to broadcast a computer virus  from a small antenna so that it 
is caught by a computers communicating on the same frequency.  So 
simple, yet so devious.

In conversations with computer experts and the underground hacker 
community,  the  existence of such high tech  weaponry  has  been 
confirmed, although the Department of Defense is still issuing  a 
predictable 'no comment'.

So, I have to ask again.  Why hasn't our Government been  helping 
us  protect ourselves against an apparently  formidable  computer 
weapons  complement?   I  hope "The Other Guys"  aren't  so  well 

This is Scott Mason, adding a chastity belt to my modem.


               Chapter 17

     Monday, December 28
     A/K/A Software
     by Scott Mason

The Christmas Virus is upon is.  So is the anticipated New  Years 
Eve and New Year's Day Virus.  

Seems  like wherever I look, someone is making a virus to  attack 
my computer or celebrate a holiday.

Rather than another rash of warnings about the impending doom and 
gloom  faced  by your computers, my editor asked me to  find  the 
lighter  side of computer viruses.  I strongly objected,  stating 
that I found nothing amusing about them.  They were a deadly  and 
cowardly  form of terrorism that should be rewarded with  behead-

However, there is one thing . . .

The  geniuses  who come up with the names for  viral  infections; 
about as believable and laughable as a Batman comic. 

I wonder what most of us would think if our doctor told us we had 
the Ping Pong virus instead of strep throat.   Or in spring  time 
we contracted the April Fool's Virus. 

It is entirely within the realm of reason that America's  comput-
ers go unprotected because of the sheer absurdity of the names we 
attach to each one.  Comical names create a comical situation, so 
no one takes the issue seriously.

The Marijuana virus conjures up images of a stoned orgy, and  why 
would  a computer care about that.  The Fu Manchu virus  conjures 
up the Red Chinese Army crossing the Mississippi, which is clear-
ly not the case, so it is ignored.

Viruses  know  no national boundary.  The  Pakistani  virus,  the 
Icelandic,  the Israeli, Jerusalem A, Jerusalem B,  Jerusalem  C, 
Lehigh,  Alameda,  Vienna,  Czech, Rumanian - I  found  over  900 
current  and active viruses that are identified by their  reputed 
place of origin.  

The  Brain virus sounds more sinister than the Stoned Virus,  and 
Friday the 13th viruses are as popular as the movie sequels.  The 
Columbus  Day  Virus was actually dubbed by its authors  as  Data 
Crime, and might have generated more concern if not for the nick-
nom-de-plume it inherited.

So  to fulfill my editor's dream, I will list a few of  the  more 
creative  virus  names.   Some were chosen  by  the  programmers, 
others  by the Virus Busters and others yet by the  media.    See 
what  you think each virus would do to your computer, or when  it 
will strike, merely from the name.

     The Vatican Virus               The Popeye Virus  
     The Garlic Virus            The Scrooge Virus
     Teenage Mutant Ninja Virus          The Ides Virus   
     The Quaalude Virus              The Amphetamine Virus
     Super Virus             The Tick Tock Virus
     The String Virus            The Black Hole Virus
     The Stupid Virus            Stealth

I have a few of my own suggestions for future virus builders.

The Jewish Sex Virus (Dials your mother-in-law during a  romantic 

The  Ronald  Reagan Virus (Puts your computer to  sleep  only  in 
important meetings.)

The Pee Wee Herman Virus (Garbage In Garbage Out)

The  Donald Trump Virus (Makes all of your spread sheets go  into 
the red.)

Tomorrow, Viruses from Hell on Geraldo.

Namely, this is Scott Mason. 

* * * * * 

     Tuesday, December 29
     Washington, D.C.

"Why the hell do I have to find out what's going on in the  world 
from  the  goddamned papers and CNN instead of  from  the  finest 
intelligence  services  in  the world?"   The  President  snapped 
sarcastically  while sipping black coffee over his daily  collec-
tion of U.S. and foreign papers.  

The early morning ritual of coffee, newspapers and a briefing  by 
Chief  of  Staff  Phil Musgrave provided the day  with  a  smooth 
start.  Usually.

"I've been asking for weeks about this computer craziness.  All I 
get is don't worry, Mr. President," he said mimicking the classic 
excuses he was sick and tired of hearing.  "We have it taken care 
of,  Mr. President.  No concern of yours, Mr. President, we  have 
everything under control.  We temporarily have our thumbs up  our 
asses, Mr. President."  Phil stifled a giggle behind his napkin.

"I'm sorry, Phil," the President continued, "but it irritates the 
shit  out of me.   The damn media knowing more about what's  hap-
pening  than we do.  Where the hell is that report I  asked  for?  
The  one  on the bank hostage I've been requesting for  a  week?"  
The President's mood portended a rough day for the inner circle.

"Sir, as I understand, it wasn't ready for your desk yet."

"Do  the goddamned missiles have to land on the White House  lawn 
before we verify it's not one of our own?"  

Phil  knew better than to attempt any dissuasion when the  Presi-
dent got into these moods.  He took notes, and with luck it would 
blow over in a couple of days.  Today was not Phil's lucky day.

"I want a briefing.  Two Hours."

"Gentlemen," the President said from behind his desk in the  oval 
office,  "I'd like to read you something I had Brian put  togeth-
er."   The efficiency of the White House Press Office  under  the 
leadership  of Brian Packard was well known.  The  President  had 
the  best  rapport  with the press that any President  had  in  a 

He  slipped on his aviator style glasses and pulled the  lobe  of 
his  left  ear while reading from his desk.  "Let's  start  here.  
Phone  Company Invaded by Hackers; Stock Exchange Halted by  Gov-
ernment  Bomb; Computer Crime Costs Nation $12 Billion  Annually;  
Viruses  Stop Network;   Banks Lose Millions to  Computer  Embez-
zlers;  Trojan Horse Defeats Government Computers; NASA  Spending 
Millions  On Free Calls for Hackers."  He looked for  a  reaction 
from  his  four key associates: Phil,  Quinton  Chambers,  Martin 
Royce and Henry Kennedy.  "If you don't know, these are headlines 
from newspapers and magazines across the country."

The  President  read  further from his  notes.   "Viruses  Infect 
Trans-Insurance  Payments; Secret Service Computers Invaded;  NSA 
and  NIST  in  Security Rift; FBI Wasting  Millions  on  Computer 
Blackmail  Scheme; First National Bank Held Hostage;  Sperm  Bank 
Computer  Records  Erased; IRS Returns of the Super  Rich."   The 
President removed his glasses wanting answers. 

"What is going on here, gentlemen?" the President asked directly.  
"I  am baffled that everyone else but me seems to know there's  a 
problem, and that pisses me off.  Answers?"

He wondered who would be the first to speak up.  Surprisingly, it 
was  Henry,  who normally waited to speak last.   "Sir,  we  have 
active programs in place to protect classified computer systems."

"Then  what  are these about?"  He waved a couple  of  sheets  of 
paper in the air.

"Of course we haven't fully implemented security everywhere  yet, 
but  it  is an ongoing concern.  According to NSA,  the  rash  of 
recent  computer  events are a combination of anomalies  and  the 
press blowing it all out of proportion."

"Do  you  believe Henry," the President asked, "that  if  there's 
smoke, a reasonable man will assume that there is a fire nearby?"  
Henry nodded obligingly.  "And what would you think if there were 
a hundred plumes of smoke rising?"

Henry  felt stumped.  "Jacobs assured me that he  had  everything 
under control and . . ."

"As I recall Henry," the President interrupted, "you told me that 
a couple of months ago when the papers found out about the  EMP-T 
bombs.  Do you recall, Henry?"  

"Yessir," he answered meekly. 

"Then what happened?"

"We have to rely on available information, and as far as we know, 
as far as we're being told, these are very minor events that have 
been sensationalized by the media."

"It says here," the President again donned his glasses,  "Defense 
Contractors  Live  with  Hackers; Stealth  Program  Uncovered  in 
Defense Department Computers; Social Security Computers At  Risk. 
Are  those  minor events?"  He pointed the question at  not  only 

"There was no significant loss of information," Coletree  rapidly 
said.   "We  sewed up the holes before we were  severely  compro-

"Wonderful,"  the President said sarcastically.  "And  what  ever 
happened to that bank in Atlanta?  Hiring Those kids?"

"If I may, sir?"  Phil Musgrave filled the silence.  "That was  a 
private concern, and we had no place to interfere - as is true in 
most of these cases.  We can only react if government property is 

"What is being done about it?  Now I mean."

"We  have  activated CERT and ECCO,  independent  computer  crime 
units to study the problem further."  As usual, Phil was impecca-
bly  informed.  "Last years the Secret Service and  FBI  arrested 
over 70 people accused of computer crimes.  The state of Pennsyl-
vania  over 500, California 300.  Remember, sir, computer  crimes 
are generally the states' problems."

"I'm  wondering if it shouldn't be our problem, too," the  Presi-
dent pondered.

"There  are  steps  in that direction, as well.   Next  week  the 
Senate hearings on Privacy and Technology Containment begin,  and 
as I understand it, they will be focusing on exactly this issue."

"Who's running the show?"  the President asked with interest.

"Ah," Phil said ripping through his notes, "Rickfield, sir."

"That bigot?  Christ.  I guess it could be worse.  We could  have 
ended up with Homer Simpson."    The easing of tension worked  to 
the President's advantage, for a brief moment.  "I want the whole 
picture,  the good and the bad, laid out for me." He scanned  his 
private  appointment book.  "Two weeks.  Is that long  enough  to 
find out why I'm always the last to know?"

* * * * * 

     Wednesday, December 30
     New York

"Scott Mason," Scott said answering the phone with his mouth full 
of hot pastrami on rye with pickles and mayonnaise.

"Scott?   It's Tyrone."  Tyrone's voice was quiet, just  about  a 

"Oh,  hi."   Scott continued to chew.  Scott  was  unsuccessfully 
trying not to sound angry.   

Other than following Scott's articles in the paper, they had  had 
no  contact  since that eventful phone call a month  ago.   Since 
then, Scott had made sure that they rode on different cars during 
their  daily commute into the city.  It was painful for  both  of 
them  since  they had been close friends, but Scott  was  morally 
obligated,  so  he thought, to cut off  their  association  after 
Tyrone  broke  the cardinal rule of all  journalists;  keep  your 
sources protected.  And, Tyrone had broken that maxim. Scott  had 
not  yet learned that the Bureau made their own rules,  and  that 
the  gentleman's agreement of off-the-record didn't carry  weight 
in their venue.

"How  have you been?"  Tyrone said cordially.  "Good bit of  work 
you been doing."

"Yeah, thanks, thanks,"  Scott  said stiffly.  

Tyrone  had  already determined that he needed Scott if  his  own 
agency wouldn't help him.  At least Scott wasn't bound by idiotic 
governmental  regulations  that stifled rather  than  helped  the 
cause.  Maybe there was hope for cooperation yet, if  his  little 
faux pas could be forgiven.

"We need to talk.  I've been meaning to call you."  Though Tyrone 
meant it, Scott thought it was a pile of warmed up FBI shit.

"Sure,  let's  talk."   Scott's  apparent  indifference  bothered 

"Scott,  I  mean it," he said sincerely.  "I have an  apology  to 
make, and I want to do it in person.  Also, I think that we  both 
need  each  other . . .you'll understand when I tell  you  what's 
been  going on."  Tyrone's deep baritone voice  conveyed  honesty 
and a little bit of urgency.  If nothing else, he had never known 
or  had any reason to suspect Tyrone of purposely  misleading  or 
lying  to him.  And their friendship had been a good one.   Plus, 
the tease of a secret further enticed Scott into agreeing.

"Yeah,  what the hell.  It's Christmas."  Scott's aloofness  came 
across as phony, but Tyrone understood the awkwardness and let it 

"How 'bout we meet at The Oyster Bar, Grand Central, and get shit 
faced.  Merry Christmas from the Bureau."

The  Oyster Bar  resides on the second lower level of Grand  Cen-
tral  Station, located eighty feet beneath Park Avenue and  42nd. 
Street. It had become a fairly chic restaurant bar in the  '80's; 
the seafood was fresh, and occasionally excellent. The  patronage 
of the bar ranged from the commuter who desperately quaffed  down 
two  or three martinis to those who enjoyed the  seafaring  ambi-
ence.   The  weathered hardwood walls were  decorated  with  huge 
stuffed crabs, swordfish, lifesavers and a pot pourri of  fishing 
accouterments.   The  ceilings were bathed in worn  fishing  nets 
that occasionally dragged too low for anyone taller than 6 feet. 

Away  from the bar patrons could dine or drink in  privacy,  with 
dim  ten  watt lamps on each table to cut through  the  darkness.  
Tyrone  was  sitting at such a table, drink in  hand  when  Scott 
craned  his  neck from the door to find his  friend  through  the 
crowd.  He ambled over, and Tyrone stood to greet him.  Scott was 
cool, but willing to give it a try.  As usual Tyrone was elegant-
ly  attired,  in a custom tailored dark gray pin stripe  suit,  a 
fitted designer shirt and a stylish silk tie of the proper width.

Scott  was  dressed just fine as far as he  was  concerned.   His 
sneakers were clean, his jeans didn't have holes and the  sweater 
would  have gained him admission to the most private ski  parties 
in  Vermont. Maybe they were too different and  their  friendship 
had been an unexplainable social aberration; an accident.

Scott's stomach tightened.  His body memory recalled the time the 
principal had suspended him from high school for spreading liquid 
banana  peel on the hall floors and then ringing the  fire  drill 
alarm.   The picture of 3000 kids and 200 teachers  slipping  and 
sliding and crawling out of the school still made Scott smile.  

"What'll  you  have?" Tyrone gestured at a  waiter  while  asking 
Scott for his preference.

"Corona, please."

Tyrone  took  charge. "Waiter, another double and a  Corona."  He 
waved  the  waiter  away. "That's better."   Tyrone  was  already 
slightly  inebriated.  "I guess you think I'm a real  shit  hole, 

"Sort  of,"  Scott agreed. "I guess you could put it  that  way." 
Scott was impressed with Ty's forthright manner.  "I can think of 
a bunch more words that fit the bill."  At least Tyrone  admitted 
it.  That was a step in the right direction.

Ty  laughed.  "Yeah, I bet you could, and you  might  be  right."  
Scott's  drink came.  He took a thirsty gulp from the  long  neck 

"Ease  on  down the road!"  Ty held his half empty drink  in  the 
air.   It was peace offering.  Scott slowly lifted his and  their 
drinks  met  briefly.   They both sipped again,  and  an  awkward 
silence followed.

"Well,  I guess it's up to me to explain, isn't it?" Tyrone  ven-

"You  don't have to explain anything. I understand,"  Scott  said 

"I  don't think you do, my friend.  May I at least have  my  last 
words before you shoot?"  Tyrone's joviality was not as effective 
when nervous.

Scott  remembered that he used the same argument with  Doug  only 
days before.  He eased up. "Sure, ready and aimed, though."

"I'm  quitting."  Tyrone's face showed  disappointment,  resigna-

The  beer bottle at Scott's lips was abruptly laid on the  table.  
"Quitting?   The  FBI?"  Tyrone nodded.  "Why?   What  happened?"  
For one moment Scott completely forgot how angry he was.  

The  din of the Oyster Bar made for excellent cover.  They  could 
speak freely with minimal worry of being overheard.

"It's  a long story, but it began when they pulled your  article.  
God,  I'm sorry, man," Tyrone said with empathy.  The furrows  on 
his  forehead deepened as he searched for a reaction from  Scott.  

Ty  finished  off his drink and started on the  refill.   "Unlike 
what you probably believe, or want to believe, when you called me 
that morning, I had no idea what you were talking about.  It  was 
several  hours before I realized what had happened. If I had  any 
idea . . ."

Scott  stared  blankly  at Tyrone. You haven't  convinced  me  of 
anything, Scott thought.

"As  far as I knew, you were writing an article that had no  par-
ticular consequence . . ."

"Thanks a shitload," Scott quipped.

"No,  I  mean, I had  no idea of the national  security  implica-
tions, and besides, it was going to be in the paper the next  day 
anyway."  Tyrone  shrugged with his hands in the  air  for  added 
emphasis.  "Tempest meant nothing to me. All I said was that  you 
and I had been talking.  I promise you, that's it.  As a  friend, 
that  was  the extent of it.  They took it from  there."   Tyrone 
extended  his hands in an open gesture of conciliation.   "All  I 
knew  was that what you'd said about CMR shook some people up  in 
D.C..   ECCO  has been quite educational.  Now I  know  why,  and 
that's why I have to leave."

The  genuineness from Tyrone softened Scott's attitude some.   "I 
thought you spooks stuck together.  Spy and die together."

Tyrone  contorted  his face to show disgust  with  that  thought.  
"That'll  be the day. In fact it's the opposite.  A third of  our 
budgets  are meant to keep other agencies in the dark about  what 
we're doing."

"You're kidding!"  

"I wish I was."  Tyrone looked disheartened, betrayed.  

"At any rate," Tyrone continued, "I got spooked by the stunt with 
your  paper and the Attorney General.  I just couldn't call  you, 
you'll  see why.  The Agency is supposed to enforce the law,  not 
make  it and they have absolutely no business screwing  with  the 
press. Uh-uh."  Tyrone took a healthy sip of his drink.  "Reminds 
me of times that are supposed to be gone. Dead in the past.   Did 
you know that I am a constitutional lawyer?"

Scott ordered another beer and shook his head, no. Just a regular 
lawyer.  Will wonders never cease?

"Back  in  the  early 60's the South was not  a  good  place  for 
blacks.   Or Negroes as we were called back then."   Tyrone  said 
the  word Negro with disdain.  He pulled his tie from  the  stiff 
collar and opened a button.  "I went on some marches in  Alabama, 
God, that was a hot summer. A couple of civil rights workers were 

Scott  remembered.  More from the movie Mississippi Burning  than 
from memory. 

Civil rights wasn't a black-white issue, Tyrone insisted. It  was 
about  man's  peaceful  co-existence with  government.   A  legal 
issue.  "I  thought that was an important  distinction  and  most 
people were missing the point.  I thought I could make a  differ-
ence working from inside the system.  I was wrong, and I've  been 
blinded by it until now . . .you know.

"When I was in college the politicians screamed integration while 
the  poor  blacks no more wanted to be bussed to the  rich  white 
neighborhood that the rich whites wanted the poor blacks in their 
schools."  Tyrone spoke from his heart, his soul, with a touch of 
resentment  that Scott had not seen before.  But then,  they  had 
never  spoken of it before. This was one story that he  had  suc-
cessfully  neglected  to share. "Forced integration  was  govern-
ment's answer to a problem it has never understood.

"It's about dignity.  Dignity and respect, not government  inter-
vention.   It's about a man's right to privacy and the  right  to 
lead his life the way he sees fit.  Civil rights is about how  to 
keep  government from interfering with its citizens.   Regardless 
of color."  Tyrone was adamant.

"And  that's why you're gonna  quit?"  Scott didn't see the  con-

"No, goddamnit, no," Tyrone shouted.  "Don't you get it?"   Scott 
shook  his head.  "They want to take them away."  He  spoke  with 
finality and assumed Scott knew what he meant.  The liquor fogged 
his brain to mouth speech connection.

"Who's  gonna take what away?"  Scott asked, frustrated  by  Ty's 

"I  know it's hokey, but the Founding Fathers had a plan, and  so 
far it's survived two hundred years of scrutiny and division.   I 
would  like  to think it can survive the computer  age."   Tyrone 
quieted  down some.  "My father used to tell me, from the time  I 
was  old enough to understand, that law was merely a  measure  of 
how  much freedom a man was willing to sacrifice to  maintain  an 
orderly society."

"My  father was a radical liberal among liberals," Tyrone  remem-
bered.  "Even today he'll pick a fight at the family barbecue for 
his own entertainment.  And he'll hold his own."

Scott  enjoyed the image of a crotchety octogenarian stirring  up 
the shit while his children isolated their kids from their  grand 
father's intellectual lunacy.  What was this about?

Tyrone  caught  himself and realized that he wasn't  getting  his 
point  across.  He took a deep  breath and slouched back  in  the 
chair that barely held him.

"From the beginning," he said.  "I told you about ECCO, and  what 
a  disaster it is.  No authority, no control, no  responsibility.  
And the chaos is unbelievable. 

"I don't pretend to understand all of the computer jargon, but  I 
do recognize when the NSA wants to control everything.  There's a 
phenomenal  amount  of  arrogance there.  The NSA  reps  in  ECCO 
believe  that  they  are the only ones who  know  anything  about 
computers  and  how to protect them.  I feel sorry for  the  guys 
from NIST.  They're totally underfunded, so they end up with both 
the grunt work and the brunt of the jokes from the NSA.  

"NSA  won't cooperate on anything.  If NIST says it's white,  NSA 
says  it's black.  If NIST says there's room to  compromise,  NSA 
gets  more stubborn. And the academic types.  At long last I  now 
know  what happened to the hippies:  they're all government  con-
sultants  through   universities.   And all they want  to  do  is 
study,  study, study.  But they never come up with answers,  just 
more questions to study.  

"The  vendors try to sell their products and don't  contribute  a 
damn  thing,"  sighed  Tyrone.  "A bunch of  industry  guys  from 
computer  companies  and the banks, and they're as baffled  as  I 

"So why quit?  Can't you make a difference?"

"Listen.  The FBI views computer crimes as inter-state in  nature 
and therefore under their domain."

Scott nodded in understanding. 

"We  are  enforcement, only," Tyrone asserted.  "We do  not,  nor 
should  we make the laws.  Separation of power; Civics  101.   To 
accomplish anything, I have to be a private citizen." 

"What do you want to accomplish?"  asked Scott with great  inter-

"I want to stop the NSA."  Tyrone spoke bluntly and Scott sat too 
stunned to speak for long seconds.

"From what?"  A sudden pit formed in Scott's stomach.

"I found out why they dumped on you about the CMR," Tyrone  said.  
"I  haven't been able to tell you before, but it  doesn't  matter 
any  more."  Tyrone quickly shook off the veiling sadness.   "NSA 
has  a built-in contradiction.  On one hand they listen into  the 
world  and spy for America.  This is supposed to be very  secret, 
especially how they do it.  It turns out that CMR is one of their 
'secret' methods for spying on friends and foes alike.

"So, to keep our friends and foes from spying on us, they  create 
the  secret Tempest program.  Except, they think it needs  to  be 
kept  a military secret, and the public sector be  damned.   They 
actually believe that opening the issue to the public will hamper 
their intelligence gathering capabilities because the enemy  will 
protect against it, too."

Scott listened in fascination. What he was learning now more than 
made up for the loss of one article.  He felt bad now that he had 
overreacted and taken it out on Tyrone.

"Same goes for the EMP-T bomb," Tyrone added.  "Only they  didn't 
know  that you were going to publish ahead of time like they  did 
when I opened up my fat trap."

Scott's eyes suddenly lit up. "How much did you tell them?"

"That I knew you and you were writing an article. That's it." 

"Then how did they know what I had written?  It was pretty damned 
close.  I assumed that you had . . ."

"No way, man," Tyrone held his hands up.

"Then how did . . .Ty? What if they're using CMR on my computers?  
Could they . . ."

Tyrone's  predicament was to decide whether or not to tell  Scott 
that  he knew the NSA and others spied on Americans and  gathered 
intelligence  through  remote control means.  "I  assume  they're 
capable of anything."

"Shit!"  Scott  exclaimed.  "Privacy goes right out  the  window.  
Damn."   Scott rapidly spun in his chair and vacantly stared  off 
in space.  "Is that legal?"

"What?  CMR?  I looked into that briefly, and there's nothing  on 
the  books  yet, but I did find out that tapping  cellular  phone 
conversations is legal."

"Phone tapping, legal?"  Scott couldn't believe his ears.

"Cellular phones, yeah.  The FCC treats them like TV sets,  radi-
os, satellites.  Anyone  can listen to any station."

"That's  incredible,"  Scott said, mouth gaping.  "I  wonder  how 
they'll handle RF LAN's."

"RF LAN's," asked Ty.  "What are those?"

"A  bunch of computers tied together with radios.   They  replace 
the  wires that connect computers now.  Can you imagine?"   Scott 
saw  the  irony in it.  "Broadcasting your private  secrets  like 
that?  Hah!  Or if you have your own RF network, all you have  to 
do  is dial up another one and all the information ends up  right 
in  your  computer! Legal robbery.  Is this a  great  country  or 

"Now  you know why I'm leaving.  The NSA cannot be  permitted  to 
keep the public uninformed about vulnerabilities to their person-
al  freedom.  And hiding under the umbrella of national  security 
gets old.  A handful of paranoid un-elected, un-budgeted, non-ac-
countable,  mid-level  bureaucrats  are deciding  the  future  of 
privacy  and freedom in this country.  They are the ones who  are 
saying, 'no, no problem,' when they know damn well it is a  prob-
lem.  What they say privately is in diametric opposition to their 
public statements and positions."

Scott stifled a nervous laugh.  Who wound Tyrone up?  A conspira-
cy theory.  Tyrone was drunk.  "Don't you think that maybe you're 
taking  this a little far," he suggested. For the first  time  in 
years the shoe was on the other foot.  Scott was tempering  some-
body elses extremes.  

"Why the hell do you think there's so much confusion at ECCO  and 
CERT and the other computer SWAT teams?  NSA interferes at  every 
step,"  Tyrone responded.  "And no, I am not taking this too far.  
I  haven't taken it far enough.  I sit with these guys  and  they 
talk as though I'm not there.  I attend meetings where the  poli-
cies and goals of ECCO are established.   Shit, I trust the dope-
smoking  hippies from Berkeley more than anyone from  the  Fort."  
The  bitterness  came  through clearly, but Scott  could  see  it 
wasn't focussed on any one person or thing.  

But  Scott  began to understand.  For over 20  years  Tyrone  had 
insulated himself from the politics of the job and had seen  only 
what  he  wanted to see; a national Police  Force  enforcing  the 
laws.  Tyrone loved the chase of the crime.  The bits and pieces, 
the  endless  sifting of evidence, searching for clues  and  then 
building a case from shreds.  The forensics of modern criminology 
had  been so compelling for Tyrone Duncan that he had missed  the 
impact  that the mass proliferation of technology would  have  on 
his first love - The Constitution.  

The sudden revelations and realizations of the last several weeks 
set his mind into high gear. Tyrone introspectively examined  his 
beliefs;  he  tried  to review them from the  perspective  of  an 
idealistic  young man in his twenties.  What would he  have  done 
then?  He realized the answer was easier found now that he was  a 
man of experience:  Do Something About It.

Far  from a rebel looking for a cause, the cause jumped all  over 
Tyrone with a vengeance and the tenacity of a barnacle.  

All at once Scott knew that Tyrone was serious and that he  would 
be a better friend if he congratulated instead of castigated.

"You know, I kind of understand a little.  Same thing with my ex- 

"Hey, that's not fair, man," Tyrone vigorously objected.  "Maggie 
was a dingbat . . ."

"I know that and she knew that," Scott agreed, "but that was what 
made  her Maggie."  Tyrone nodded, remembering her antics.   "And 
in  some ways we still love each other.  After ten years of  fun, 
great  fun, she wanted to get off of the planet more than I  did, 
so  she went to California."  The softness in Scott's voice  said 
he still cared about Maggie, that she was a cherished part of his 
life, that was and would remain in the past.  

Scott shook off the melancholy and continued. "It's the same  for 
you.  You're married to the FBI, and while you still love it, you 
need to let it go to move on with your life."

"Y'know, I don't know why everyone says you're so stupid," Tyrone 
said with respect.  "UFO's aside, you can actually make sense."

"Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't really matter.  But I'm doing  exactly 
what  I  want to do.  And the day it stops being fun,  I'm  outta 

"Isn't that the arrogance of wealth speaking?" Tyrone asked.

"And  you're any different?  The 22 room Tudor shack you live  in 
is  not exactly my vision of poverty.  As I see it, it's  one  of 
the benefits," Scott said unembarrassed by his financial  securi-
ty.   "Before  I made my money, I swore that when I got  rich,  I 
would give something back.  You know, to the planet or society or 
something.    Do something useful and not for the  money."  Scott 
spoke  with  honest enthusiasm.  "But I don't believe  there's  a 
rule  that  says I have to be miserable.  I love what I  do,  and 
well,  I don't know.  The concept of career is different for  me.  
I  like  the  idea of doing a little bit of  everything  for  the 
experience.  You know, I drove a cab for one night.  Glad I  did, 
but never again."

"So?" asked Tyrone.

"So, do what you want to do and enjoy it. Period.  As a friend of 
a friend says, live long and prosper." 

Scott  let  Tyrone  sit in contemplative silence  as  the  waiter 
brought them two more.  They were doing a good job of sticking to 
the plan of getting 'shiffaced'.

"You  know,"  Tyrone opined,  "INTERNET is only the  tip  of  the 
iceberg. NASA is having ECCO and CERT look into over $12  Million 
in unaccounted-for telephone calls.   The Justice Department sold 
old  computers  containing  the names and other  details  of  the 
Witness  Protection  Program  to a junk dealer  in  Kentucky  and 
they're suing him to get them back.  The Secret Service is  rede-
signing its protection techniques for the President since someone 
got into their computers and copied the plans.  The computers  at 
Mitre  have been used by hackers for years to get  at  classified 
information.    The  public hears less than 1%  of  the  computer 
problems in the government.  And still, no one will do  anything.  
There's  even talk that the missing Plutonium that  the  Israelis 
theoretically stole in 1981 was actually a computer error."

"What do you want to do about it?"  Scott was asking as a friend, 
not a reporter.

"First," said a newly determined Tyrone,  "I'm gonna nail me some 
of  these  mothers, and I'll do it with your help.   Then,  after 
that?"  Tyrone's old smile was suddenly back.  "I think I'm gonna 
kick  myself some government ass."  Tyrone roared  with  laughter 
and  Scott joined the contagious behavior.  "In the  meantime,  I 
want  to  take  a look at some blackmail.  I  think  you  may  be 

"About what?  I don't listen to what I tell you."

"Remember  you  said  that the  blackmail  scheme  wasn't  really  
blackmail."   Tyrone  shifted  his weight in  the  chair  and  he 
reached for the words through is fogged mind.  "You said it might 
be a way to make us too busy to see our own shadow.  That it  was 
a cover up for another dissociated crime."

"Yeah? It might be," Scott said.

Tyrone's body heaved while he snickered. "We finally have a lead.  
Demands have been made."

"What  kind? Who?  What do they want?"  Scott's  journalist  mind 
clicked into gear.  "What about the computer virus crap?"

"I'm kind of looking into both, but this morning my interest  was 
renewed.  A corporate type I met says not only he, but another 25 
or more of his corporate brethren are getting the same treatment.  
If he's right, someone is demanding over $30 Million in ransoms."

"Jesus Christ! Is that confirmed?"  Scott probed.

"Yes.  That's why I said you were right." 

The  implications were tremendous, even to Scott's clouded  mind.  
While  the  legal  system might not be  convinced  that  computer 
radiation  was  responsible  for an  obviously  well  coordinated 
criminal  venture,  he, as an engineer, realized  how  vulnerable 
anyone - everyone was.  The questions raced through his mind  all  
at once.  

Over  a  few dozen oysters and not as many drinks, Scott  and  Ty 
proceeded  to share their findings.  Scott had documents  up  the  
ying-yang, documents he couldn't use in a journalistic sense, but 
might  be valuable to the recent developments in Ty's  case.   He 
had moved the files to his home; they were simply taking too much 
space around his desk at the office.  They were an added  attrac-
tion  to the disaster he called his study.  Scott agreed to  show 
Ty  some  of them.  After the meeting with  Franklin  Dobbs,  and 
knowing there might be others in similar situations, Ty wanted an 
informal look at Scott's cache.  

"I've been holding back, Ty,"  Scott said during a lull in  their 

"How do you mean?"

"I  got  a call from a guy I had spoken to a few  months  ago;  I 
assume  he sent me those files, and he said that  key  executives 
throughout the country were being blackmailed.  Some were borrow-
ing money from the mob to pay them off."

"Do you have names?  Who?"  Tyrone's took an immediate interest.

"Let  me  see if I have'm here," he said as he  reached  for  his 
small  notebook in the sports jacket draped over the back of  his 
chair.   "Yeah,  he  only gave me three, not much to  go  on.   A 
Faulkner,  some  banker  from L.A., a Wall  Street  tycoon  named 
Henson and another guy Dobbs, Franklin Dobbs."

"Dobbs!  How the hell do you know about Dobbs?" Tyrone yelled  so 
loud  several remaining bar patrons looked over  to see what  the 
ruckus was. 

Scott  was taken aback by the outburst.  "What're  you  hollering 

"Shit,  goddamned shit, I don't need this." Tyrone  finished  one 
and  ordered another drink.  He was keeping his promise; well  on 
the  way to getting severely intoxicated.  "Dobbs.  Dobbs is  the 
poor fucker that came into my office."

"You  saw  Dobbs?  He admitted it?"  Scott's heart raced  at  the 
prospect of a connection.  Finally.

"Scott," Tyrone asked quietly, "I have no right to ask you  this, 
but  I will anyway. If you find anything, on Dobbs, can you  hold 
back? Just for a while?"  A slight pleading on Tyrone's part.

"Why?"  Was this part of the unofficial trade with Ty for earlier 

The  waiter  returned with the credit card.   Tyrone  signed  the 
slip,  giving the waiter entirely too much of a tip.  "I'll  tell 
you on the train.  Let's go."


"To your house.  You have a computer, don't you?"

"Yeah . . ."

"Well, let's see if we can find out who the other 25 are."

They took a cab from the Scarsdale station to Scott's house.   No 
point  in ending up in the clink for a DUI, even with  a  Federal 
Agent in tow.  Scott's study was in such disarray that he  liter-
ally  scraped off books and papers from the couch onto the  floor 
to  find Ty a place to sit and he piled up bigger piles of  files 
to make room for their beers on one of his desks.

Scott and Tyrone hadn't by any means sobered up on the train, but  
their thinking was still eminently clear.  During the hour  ride, 
they reviewed what they knew. 

Several  prominent businessmen were being  actively  blackmailed.  
In  addition,  the  blackmailer, or a  confederate,  was  feeding 
information  to the media.  At a minimum the Times, and  probably 
the Expos.  Perhaps other media as well were in receipt of simi-
lar information, but legitimate news organizations couldn't  have 
much to do with it in its current form.  

Presumably  then, like Scott, other reporters were calling  names 
in  the files.  Tyrone reasoned that such an exercise might be  a 
well planned maneuver on the part of the perpetrators.  

"Think  about it this way," he said.  "Let's say you get  a  call 
from  someone  who says they know something about  you  that  you 
don't want them to.  That'll shake you up pretty good, won't it?"  
Scott  rapidly agreed.  "Good.  And the nature of the contact  is 
threatening,  not directly, perhaps, but the undercurrent  leaves 
no doubt that the caller is not your best friend.  Follow?"

"And  then," Scott picked up, "a guy like me calls with the  same 
information.  The last person in the world he wants to know about 
his  activities is a reporter, or to see it show up in the  news, 
so he really freaks."

"Exactly!" Tyrone slapped his thigh.  "And, if he gets more  than 
one call, cardiac arrest is nearby. Imagine it.  Makes for a good 
case of justifiable paranoia."

Tyrone nodded vigorously.  "I've been in this game long enough to 
see the side effects  of blackmail and extortion.  The psycholog-
ical effects can be devastating.  An inherent distrust of strang-
ers  is common.  Exaggerated delusions occur in many cases.   But 
think  about this.  If we're right, you begin to distrust  every-
one, your closest friends, business associate, even your  family.  
Suddenly,  everyone is a suspect.  Distrust runs rampant and  you 
begin  to  feel a sense of isolation, aloneness.  It  feels  like 
you're  fighting  the entire world alone.  Solitude  can  be  the 
worst punishment."

The  analysis was sound.  The far ranging implications had  never 
occurred to Scott.  To him it had been a simple case of extortion 
or blackmail using some high tech wizardry.  Now, suddenly  there 
was a human element.  The personal pain that made the crime  even 
that much more sinister.

"Well, we, I mean the FBI, have seven stake outs.  It's a  fairly 
simple operation. Money drops in public places, wait and pick  up 
the  guy who picks up the money."  Tyrone made it sound so  easy.  
Scott wondered.

"I bet it isn't that simple," Scott challenged.

"No shit, it ain't,"  Tyrone came back.  

"So whaddya do?"

"Pay and have another beer."  Tyrone tempered the seriousness  of 
their conversation.  

As  Scott  got up to go the kitchen he called out, "Hey,  I  been 

"Yeah?" Tyrone yelled. 

He  popped a Bud and handed it to Tyrone.  "Listen, I  know  this 
may be left field, but let's think it through."  Scott sat behind 
his  desk and put his feet on top of some books on the desk.   He 
leaned  back  and put  his hands behind his  head.   "We've  been 
talking about the front end of this thing, the front lines  where 
the  victims are actually being blackmailed.  The kind  of  stuff 
that makes headlines."  Scott smiled devilishly at Ty who made  a 
significant  hand  gesture in return.  "And  now  you're  talking 
about  how to catch them when they pick up the money.   Have  you 
thought of the other side?"

"What other side?"  Tyrone was still confused by Scott's logic.

"Assume  for a moment that all this information is really  coming 
from computers.  The CMR. Ok?"  Ty grudgingly shrugged his shoul-
ders.   "Ok, you said that there are 7 cases across the  country.  
Dobbs  said  he  knew of more here. Right?  Well,  who  gets  the 

Confusion showed on Tyrone's face. "Gets the information?"

"Yeah,  who runs around the country listening in  on  computers?" 
The question had been obvious to Scott.   All of sudden  Tyrone's 
face lit up.

"You mean the van?"

"Right.   How  many  vans would it take to  generate  all  this?"  
Scott pointed at  several boxes next to the disorganized shelves. 

"Damned if I know!"

"Neither do I, but I'll make a wild guess and say that there  are 
quite  a few running around.  One blew up, or more  specifically, 
was blown up.  You guys have the pieces."

"Not  any more," Ty said. "They were taken away by CI .  Said  it 
was  national security .  I was told to stay away from it.   Told 
you about us Feds."

"Whatever," Scott waved away the sidebar.  "The point is that  if 
a  whole bunch of these vans were used, that's not  cheap.   They 
held  a lot of very expensive equipment.   Why not look  for  the 
vans?   They  can't  be that hard to  find.   Maybe  you'll  find 
your . . . "

"Holy  Christ,  Mother Mary and Joseph, why didn't  I  think   of 
that."   Tyrone stood up and aimlessly meandered amongst  Scott's 
junk heaps.  "We've been looking in one direction only.  The  van 
ceased to exist in our minds since CI took it. The Government can 
be a royal pain in the ass.  The van, of course."

Just as Scott was going to describe how to find villains  without 
wasting  hundreds  of  hours scouring data  banks,  his  computer 
beeped  three times.  Scott was shaken from his  comfort.   "What 
the  .  .  .?"  He looked at the clock.  It  was  just  midnight.  
Kirk!  Kirk was calling and he totally had forgotten  to  mention 
the computer ransacking to Ty.

"Great!  It's Kirk. I wanted you to meet him."  As  Scott  leaned 
over  the keyboard to answer the page, Tyrone looked  quizzically 
at him. 

"Who's Kirk?"

"This hacker, some kid on the West Coast.  He's taught me a  lot.  
Good  guy.  Hope to meet him someday." Scott pushed a  few  keys. 
The screen came alive.


"Hey," said Tyrone, "that's what we used to say in the Reserves."

Gotta Spook here.


Who's Spook?


Not Spook, a spook.  FBI guy.


Don't worry. Tell him yourself. Who is Spook, anyway?  


He's a friend.  He doesn't know.

Tyrone  had come over to the crowded desk to watch the  exchange. 
"Who is this guy?  What don't I know?"

Kirk, can I tell him?  No one knows who you are?


Be back . . .

Scott  proceeded  to  tell Tyrone about the  warnings  that  Kirk 
received  and  then how his computers were destroyed.   That  the 
calling card warned Kirk to stay away from First State Bank.  And 
how  another  hacker  calling himself Da Vinci on  a  BBS  called 
Freedom might be a link.  Then Scott admitted that he had been in 
on  a  bank robbery, or at least breaking and entering  a  bank's 

Tyrone  had enough.  "I'm not sure I want to hear  anymore.   You 
have been busy.  So what can I do?"

"Tell Kirk what he can do," Scott said.

"He could probably go to jail.  Bank computers, my God!  Is  that 
where you get your stories? You live them and then report them in 
the third person? Stories for the inquiring mind."

"Are  you through! I mean, are you through?"  Scott sounded  per-

"It's true. What does this guy want?" 

"Advice.  Talk to him.  Here."  Scott motioned for Tyrone to  sit 
at the keyboard.

"What do I do?"

"Just type," Scott said with exasperation.  "You're as bad as  my 
mother.  Type!" Scott ordered.

This is Ty

Scott  pulled  Ty's  hands from the keyboard. "A  handle,  use  a 
handle, like on a CB!"

"Oh, yeah, I forgot," Tyrone lied.

This is the FBI

Scott  looked on in shock. Tyrone laughed out loud.  "He  already 
knows who  I am. So what? I've always liked saying that anyway."  


So I hear. Been to any good banks lately?


Can't take a joke?


Listen, I don't know you from Adam, and you don't have to talk to 
me, but I am curious.  Did your computers really get bashed?


Tyrone pointed his thumb at the computer.  "Wise guy, eh?"

"Give him a chance.  Generation gap."  Tyrone didn't take  kindly 
to references to his age. Sensitive area.



That's clear.


Do you want to make a formal complaint?




You think it was First State?


Don't you go around poking into other computers, too?


So why not someone else?


"He knows who you are?"  Tyrone asked.

"Sure.   He likes calling me Repo Man for some reason that  still 
escapes me.

Where else do you go?


Gotcha.  Well, I guess that's about it.



"I guess you scared him off." Scott was amused.

"Sorry," Tyrone said. 

"He'll call back," Scott waved off the apology.  "When the  coast 
is clear." 

"Fuck off."  Their friendship was returning to the level it  once 
had been.

"Hey, it's getting beyond late," Scott ignored him.  "What say we 
get together in a few days and sort through some of this."

"I  know, but one thing. Can you get into your computers, at  the 

"Yeah, why?"

"Dobbs  said that the other victims had had their stock  go  down 
pretty  dramatically.  Can you look up stock prices and  perform-
ances over the last few months?"

"Yeah, do it all the time."

"Could you?  I want to see if there are any names I recognize."

"No  problem."  Scott dialed the Times' computer  and  identified 
himself.   After  going into the bank computer with  Kirk,  every 
time  he  dialed  up his office, he felt an  increased  sense  of 
power,  and an increased sense of responsibility.  He had  access 
to  massive amounts of information that if it got into the  wrong 
hands . . .

He shook the thought.  The computer offered the 'Stocks and Bonds 
Menu' and Scott set up a query in a modified SQL that was  simple 
enough for reporters to use: 


The  computer flashed a message. 'Working'.  Scott  leaned  back.  
"Takes  a  few seconds.  Oh, as I was saying, when  I  get  back,  
I'll call and we'll see what we can screw together."

"Back from where?"  Tyrone sounded accusatory but jealous.

"Europe.   Amsterdam." Scott checked the computer screen. It  was 
still busy.

"Rough life."  

"No,  it's only for a couple of days.  There's a hackers  confer-
ence.  I've been invited, by Kirk as a matter of fact."

"Hackers  conference, sounds like tons of fun."  Tyrone  was  not 

"The best hackers in the world are going to be there.  I hope  to 
get  some leads on the First State mess.  The Freedom BBS is  not 
all it seems."

"Please stay in touch," Tyrone implored.

"Sure.   Here we go.  It's ready.  Ah, let's see, there  are  267 
companies who meet that criterion.  I guess that narrows it  down 
for you."

"Smart ass.  Ah, can you get those in New York only?"

"The city? Sure."

     SORT BY ZIP 100XX

"That'll give us . . ."

"I  know what it means."  Tyrone shut Scott up in  mock  defense.  
In  reality he didn't know much about computers, but some  things 
were obvious even to the technically naive.

"That was fast," said Scott. "Only 17. Help any?"

"Might. Can I get that on paper?"

Scott gave him the printout of the finances on the several unfor-
tunate  companies  who had lost more than a third  of  their  net 
worth in the last year.  Tyrone folded it into his jacket pocket.  
"Hey, call me a cab.  I'm too drunk to walk."

* * * * *

     Wednesday, December 30
     Lenox, Georgia

A  faded blue Ford Econoline van sat in the Lenox Square  parking 
lot.   The  affluent Atlanta suburb had been  targeted  from  the 
beginning.  Demographically ,it fit the bill to a tee.

From  the  outside, the van looked like a thousand  other  parked 
cars; empty, with their owners shopping in the huge mall.  On the 
inside  though, two men were intently operating a vast  array  of 
electronic equipment.

"Here  comes another one," said the first.  "How many  does  that 
make today?"

"A  hundred  and  forty seven.  Let's do  it."   The  second  man 
watched  the  enhanced color video image on a small  monitor.   A 
well  dressed  lady walked up to the ATM machine, card  in  hand.  
The  first man pressed a switch on another monitor and  the  snow 
filled  picture  was transformed into an electronic copy  of  the 
ATM's video display.

Please Insert Card

The screen in the van echoed the ATM screen.

"Can you tune it in a bit?" asked the first man. " It's a  little 

"Yeah,  we must have settled.  Let me adjust the  antenna."   His 
hand  grabbed  a joystick on one of the tightly packed  racks  of 
equipment  and  gingerly moved it from left to right.   "Is  that 
better?"   A  small  disguised antenna on the  roof  of  the  van 
aligned itself as the joystick commanded. 

"Yeah . . .no . . .yeah, back again . . ."

"I see it. There."


     Enter Personal Identification Number:

A  third monitor over the second man's cramped desk came to  life 
as the number 3435 appeared across his screen. 

"Got it.  You, too?"

"On disk and saved."

"I'll back it up."

"Better not.  Here comes another one."

"Busy day."

* * * * *

It was a very busy day.  Ahmed Shah saw to it that his  followers 
were kept busy, six days a week.  As they had been for months.

When  his army of a hundred plus Econoline vans were not  raiding 
the  contents  of  unsuspecting computers during  the  day,  they 
became  electronic  ears which listened in on  the  conversations 
between the ATM's and their bank customers.  

Ahmed's vans were used most efficiently.  On the road, doing  his 
bidding  twenty  four  hours a day, every day  but  the  Sabbath.  
Ahmed  created cells of eight loyal  anti-American  sympathizers, 
regardless of nationality, to operate with each van.  Each  group 
operated as an independent entity with only one person from  each 
able to communicate privately with Ahmed over cellular modem.  No 
cell knew of any other cell.  If one group was apprehended,  they 
couldn't tell what they didn't know.  Therefore, the rest of  the 
cells remain intact.

Absolute  loyalty was an unquestioned assumption for all  members 
of  Ahmed's  electronic  army.  It had to be that  way,  for  the 
bigger cause.  

All  day  and night one of Ahmed Shah's computers in his  lab  at 
Columbia  received constant calls from his cell leaders.   During 
the  day  it was the most interesting information that  they  had 
captured  from computer screens.  At night, it was the  passcodes 
to automatic bank tellers machines and credit card information.

Once  the  passcodes were in hand, making fake ATM  cards  was  a 
trivial task.


                    Chapter 18

     Wednesday, January 6
     Amsterdam, Holland

Scott  Mason  had a theory.  It didn't matter than  no  one  else 
believed it, or that they thought him daffy.  It worked for him.

He  believed that jet lag was caused by the human body  traveling 
across  mystical  magnetic force fields called  Ley  lines.   The 
physics  of his theory made common sense to anyone but  a  scien-
tist.   It  went like this: the body is  electric  and  therefore 
magnetic  fields can influence it.  Wherever we live we are  sub-
ject  to  the  local influence of magnetic,  electrical  and  Ley 
lines.  If we move too quickly, as by plane, through  Ley  lines, 
the  balance of our system is disturbed. The more Ley  lines  you 
traverse, the more upsetting it is to the system.  Thus, jet lag. 

But, Scott had a solution. Or more accurately, his mother had one 
which she had convinced him of years earlier. Scott carried  with 
him  a  small box, the size of a pack of cigarettes, that  had  a 
switch  and a blinking light.  It was called an  Earth  Resonance 
Generator,  or  ERG.  The literature said the ERG  established  a 
negative  gravity field through a magnetic Mobius  loop.   Inside 
the box was a battery, a loop of wire, a light emitting diode and 
the  back  side of the switch.  In short, nothing  of  electronic 
consequence  or obvious function. There was no way in  hell  that 
this  collection  of passive components could do  anything  other 
than wear out batteries.  All for $79.95 plus $4 shipping. 

Scott  first heard his mother proselytize about the magic of  the 
ERG  when he was ten or twelve.  His father, the role  model  for 
Archie  Bunker ignored her completely and said her  rantings  in-
creased  with  certain lunar phases.  Since his  father  wouldn't 
listen to her any longer, she endlessly lectured Scott about  the 
virtues of the ERG whenever she returned from a trip.  His father 
refused to travel, and had never even been on a plane.  

His mother so persisted in her belief that she even tried experi-
ments.  On  one  of her trips to Rome,  she  somehow  talked  the 
stewardesses  into  handing  out  the  400  questionnaires  she'd 
brought  with  her onto the plane.  It asked the  passengers  how 
they  felt after the flight, and if they do anything  special  to 
avoid  jet lag.  She claims more than 200 were returned and  that 
they  overwhelmingly indicated that no one felt jet lag  on  that 

She  attributed  this immense success to the  ERG  effects  which 
purportedly spread over one acre.  In other words, the ERG  takes 
care of an entire 747 or L-1011 or DC-10.

For years Scott successfully used the ERG to avoid jet lag.  Some 
people put brown paper bags in their shoes, others eat yogurt and 
bean  sprouts before a long flight.  Maybe his solution was  psy-
chosomatic, Scott admitted to anyone who asked, but, so what?  It 
still  works, doesn't it?  Scott was forever impressed that  air-
port security had never, once, asked him what this little  blink-
ing black box was.  Scary thought.

He arrived completely refreshed via KLM at the Amsterdam Interna-
tional  Airport  at 9:15 A.M.  While he had been to  Europe  many 
times,  he had thus far missed the Amsterdam experience.  He  had 
heard that pot was legal in Amsterdam.  In fact it was more  than 
legal.  Every morning the marijuana prices were broadcast on  the 
local  radio stations and Scott had every intention  of  sampling 
the  wares.   After 20 years of casual pot use, he  preferred  it 
immensely  to  the effects of drinking, and he was not  going  to 
miss out on the opportunity.

In  New  York no one harassed pot smokers,  but  technically,  it 
still  wasn't  legal, while Amsterdam  represented  the  ultimate 
counterculture.   This was the first time since Maggie  had  left 
for the Coast three years ago that Scott felt an independence,  a 
freedom reminiscent of his rebellious teen years. 

He gave the taxi driver the address of the Eureka! hotel, on  the 
Amstel.   During the half hour fifty guilder ride into  downtown, 
the  driver continuously chattered.  "Amsterdam has  more  canals 
than  Venice.  Many more.  Holland is mostly land reclaimed  from 
the  sea. We have the biggest system of dikes in  Europe.   Don't 
forget to see our diamond centers."  He spoke endlessly with deep 
pride about his native land. 

The  Eureka! is a small four story townhouse with only  16  rooms 
that  overlooked  the  Amstel, the largest  canal  in  Amsterdam, 
similar to the Grand Canal in Venice.    The Times had booked  it 
because  it was cheap, but Scott felt instantly at  home.   After 
settling  in, Scott called the local number that Kirk  had  given 

"Hallo?"  A thick Dutch accent answered the phone.

"Hello?  I'm looking for Jon Gruptmann? This is Scott Mason."

"Ya, this is Jon."

"A mutual friend, Kirk, said I should call you."

"Ah, ya, ya.  Repo Man, is it not?"  The voice got friendly.

"That's what Kirk calls me."

"Ya,  ya.  He said you want to attend our meetings.  Ya? Is  that 
so?"   Jon sounded enthusiastic. 

"That's  why  I swam the Atlantic, all three thousand  miles.   I 
would love to!"  Jon didn't sound like Scott expected a  computer 
hacker to sound, whatever that was. 

"Huh?" Jon asked.  "Ah, ya, a joke.  Goot. Let me tell you  where 
we meet.  The place is small, so it may be very crowded.  I  hope 
you do not mind."  Jon sounded concerned about Scott's comfort. 

"Oh, no.  I'm used to inconvenience. I'm sure it will be fine."

"Ya,  ya.   I expect so.  The meetings don't really  begin  until 
tomorrow at 9AM.  Is that goot for you?"  

"Yes,  just fine, what's the address?" Scott asked as he  readied 
paper and pen.

"Ya.   Go to the warehouse on the corner of Oude  Zidjs  Voorburg 
Wal  and  Lange Niezel.  It's around from  the  Oude  Kerksplein.  
Number 44."

"Hold it, I'm writing." Scott scribbled the address phonetically.  
A necessary trick reporters use when someone is speaking unintel-
ligibly.  "And then what?"

"Just say you're Repo Man.  There's a list.  And please remember, 
we don't use our given names."

"No problem. Fine.  Thank you."

"Ya. What do you plan for tonight?" Jon asked happily.

"I hadn't really thought about it," Scott lied. 

"Ya, ya.  Well, I think you should see our city. Enjoy the unique 
pleasures Amsterdam has to offer."  

"I might take a walk . . . or something."

"Ya,  ya, or something. I understand.  I will see  you  tomorrow.  
Ya?"  Jon said laughing.

"Wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Do  one favor?"  Jon asked.  "Watch your wallet.  We  have  many 

"Thanks for the warning.  See you tomorrow."  Click. I grew up in 
New York, Scott thought.  Pickpockets, big deal.

* * * * *

Scott  took  a shower to remove the vestiges of the  eleven  hour 
trip; an hour ride to Kennedy, an hour and a half at the airport, 
a half hour on the tarmac, seven hours on the plane, and an  hour 
getting into town.   

He dressed casually in the American's travel uniform: jeans, jean 
jacket  and warm sweater.  He laced his new Reeboks knowing  that  
Amsterdam  is  a  walking city. Driving would  be  pure  insanity 
unless  the goal is sitting in two hour traffic jams. The  single 
lane  streets straddle the miles of canals throughout  the  inner 
city  which is arranged in a large semi-circular pattern.   Down-
town, or old Amsterdam, is a dense collection of charming  clean, 
almost pristine 4 story buildings built over a period of  several 
hundred  years.  That's the word for Amsterdam;  charming.   From 
late medieval religious structures to townhouses that are tightly 
packed  on almost every street, to the various Pleins  where  the 
young crowds congregate in the evenings, Amsterdam has  something 
for  everyone.  Anne Frank's house to the Rembrandt Museum  to  a 
glass  roofed boat trip down the canals through the diamond  dis-
trict and out into the Zeider Zee.  Not to mention those  attrac-
tions for the more prurient.

He  ran  down the two flights to the hotel lobby  and  found  the 
concierge behind the Heineken bar which doubled as a registration 
desk.  He wanted to know where to buy some pot.

"Not to find us selling that here," the Pakistani concierge  said 
in broken English.  

"I  know.  But where . . ."  It was an odd feeling to  ask  which 
store sold drugs.

"You want Coffee Shop," he helpfully said.

"Coffee Shop?"  Scott asked, skeptical of the translation.

"Across bridge, make right, make left."  The concierge  liberally 
used his hands to describe the route. "Coffee shop.  Very good."  

Scott  thanked him profusely and made a quick exit thinking  that 
in  parts of the U.S., Texas came to mind,  such  a  conversation 
could  be construed as conspiracy.  He headed out into  the  cool 
damp late morning weather.  The air was crisp, clean, a  pleasure 
to  breathe  deeply.   The Amstel canal, not  a  ripple  present, 
echoed the tranquility that one feels when walking throughout the 
city.  There are only a half dozen or so 'main' streets or boule-
vards in Amsterdam and they provide the familiar intense interna-
tional  commercialism  found in any major European city.   It  is 
when one begins to explore the back streets, the countless alleys 
and  small  passageways; the darkened corridors  that  provide  a 
short  cut to the bridge to the next islet; it is then  that  one 
feels the essence of Amsterdam.

Scott  crossed  over the bridge that spans the wide  Amstel  con-
scious  of the small high speed car and scooters that dart  about 
the tiny streets. He turned right as instructed and looked at the 
street  names on the left.  While Scott spoke reasonable  French, 
Dutch escaped him.  Bakkerstraat.  Was that the name? It was just 
an  alley,  but there a few feet down on the right  was  the  JPL 
Coffee  Shop.  JPL was the only retail establishment  on  Bakker-
straat,  and it was unassuming, some might call it  derelict,  in 
appearance.  From a distance greater than 10 meters, it  appeared 

Through the large dirty plate glass window Scott saw a handful of 
patrons  lazing on white wrought iron cafe chairs at small  round 
tables.   The  Coffee Shop was no larger than  a  small  bedroom.  
Here goes nothing, Scott thought as he opened the door to  enter.  
No one paid scant attention to him as he crossed over and  leaned 
on the edge of the bar which was reminiscent of a soda  fountain.  
A man in his young twenties came over and amiably introduced him-
self  as Chris, the proprietor of the establishment. How could he 
be of service?

"Ah . . . I heard I can buy marijuana here," Scott said.  

"Ya, of course. What do you want?" Chris asked.  

"Well,  just  enough for a couple of days, I can't take  it  back 
with me you know," Scott laughed nervously. 

"Ya.  We also have cocaine, and if you need it, I can get you he-
roin."  Chris  gave  the sales pitches verbally -  there  was  no 
printed menu in this Coffee Shop.

"No!"  Scott  shot back immediately, until he realized  that  all 
drugs  were legal here, not just pot.  He didn't want to  offend.  
"Thanks anyway.  Just some grass will do."

"How many grams do you want?"

Grams?  How  many grams? Scott mused that  the  metric  Europeans 
thought in grams and Americans still in ounces and pounds.  O.K., 
28 grams to an ounce . . .

"Two  grams," Scott said.  "By the way, how late are  you  open?"  
Scott pushed his rounded spectacles back up his nose.  

"Ah, sometimes 8, sometimes 10, sometimes late," Chris said while 
bringing  a tissue box sized lock box to the top of the bar.   He 
opened  it  and inside were several bags of pot and  a  block  of 
aluminum foil the size of a candy bar. "You want hashish?"  Chris 

Scott  shook his head, 'no,' so Chris opened one of the bags  in-
stead of the candy bar.

"You  American?"   A  voice came from one of  the  tables.  Scott 
looked  around.  "Here," the voice said.  "Me too."  The man  got 
up  and approached Scott.  "Listen, they got two types  of  ganja 
here. Debilitating and Coma.  I've made the mistake."

"Ya, we have two kinds," Chris agreed laughing.  "This will  only 
get you a little high," he said holding up a bag.  "This one," he 
held up another, "will get you stoned."

"Bullshit,"  the American said.  "Their idea of a little high  is 
catatonic  for  us.  Take my word for it.  The  Mexican  shit  we 
smoke?  They'd give it to the dogs."

"You  sold  me," Scott said holding his hands  up  in  surrender.  
"Just  a little high is fine by me.  Two grams, please," he  said 
to Chris pointing at the less potent bag.  "Thanks for the  warn-
ing," he said to the American.  "Where you from?"  Scott asked.

"Oh, around.  I guess you could call Washington my home."


"Yeah," the American nodded.  "And you?"  He leaned over the back 
of his chair to face Scott.

"Big Apple.  The 'burbs."

"What brings you here?"

"To Europe?" Scott asked.

"Amsterdam.  Sin City.  Diamonds?"

"No, I wish," Scott laughed.  "News. A story brought me here  for 
a couple of days."

Chris  finished weighing Scott's purchase on a sensitive  digital 
scale that measured the goods down to the nearest hundredth of  a 
gram.   Scott handed Chris $10 in Guilders and pocketed the  pot.  
"Um,  where can I get some papers?"  Scott asked.  Chris  pointed 
to  a  glass  on the bar with a complete  selection  of  assorted 

"Hey, why don't you join me," the American asked.  "I've been  to 
Amsterdam before."

"Is it all right to smoke in here?" Scott asked looking around.

"Sure,  that's what coffee shops are.  The only other  thing  you 
can buy in here is sodas.  No booze."  The American spoke  confi-
dently as he lit up a joint and passed it to Scott.

"Thanks," Scott coughed as he handed it back.  "Oh, I don't think 
I caught your name.

"Oh, just call me Spook."

THE Spook? thought Scott.  What incredible synchronicity.

Scott's body instantly tensed up and he felt the adrenaline  rush 
with  an associated rise in pulse rate. Was this really the  leg-
endary Spook?

Is it possible that he fell into a chance meeting with the hacker 
that  Kirk  and  his friends refer to as  the  king  of  hackers?  
Spook?  Gotta stay cool.  Could he be that lucky?  Was there more 
than  one spook?   Scott momentarily daydreamed, remembering  how 
fifteen years before, in Athens, Greece he had opened a taxi door 
right into the face a lady who turned out to be an ex-high-school 
girl friend.  It is a small world, Scott thought tritely.

"Spook?   Are you a spy?" Scott comically asked, careful to  dis-
guise his real interest.

"If  I answer that I'll have to kill you," the Spook laughed  out 
loud  in  the  quiet establishment. "Spy?  Hardly.  It's  just  a 
handle."  Spook said guardedly.  "What's yours?"

"Mine?  Oh,  my handle.  They call me Repo Man, but  it's  really 
Scott Mason. Glad to meet you.  Spook," he added handing back the 
intoxicating cigarette.

BINGO!  Scott Mason in hand without even a search.  Landing right 
in  his lap.  Keep your cool.  Dead pan poker face.   What  unbe-
lievable luck.  Don't blow it, let's play this for all that  it's 
worth.   Your life just got very simple.  Give both Homosoto  and 
Mason exactly what they want with no output of energy.

"You  said you're a reporter," Spook said inhaling deeply  again.  
"What's the story?"  At least he gets high, Spook thought.  Mason 
could  have been a real dip-shit nerd.  Thank God for  small  fa-

"There's  a hacker conference that I was invited to," Scott  said 
unabashedly.  "I'm trying to show the hacker's side of the story.  
Why they do what they do.  How they legitimize it to themselves." 
Scott's  mouth was rapidly drying out so he ordered a Pepsi.   "I 
assume you're a hacker, too," Scott broached the issue carefully.

Spook smiled widely. "Yup.  And proud of it."

"You don't care who knows?" Scott asked looking around to see  if 
anyone  was paying attention to their conversation.  Instead  the 
other  patrons were engrossed in chess or  huddled  conversation.  
Only Chris, the proprietor listened from behind the bar. 

"The  Spook  is all anyone knows. I like to keep  it  that  way," 
Spook said as he laid the roach end of the joint in the  ashtray.  
"Not bad, huh?" He asked Scott.

"Christ, no.  Kinda hits you between the eyes." Scott rubbed them 
to clear off the invading fog.

"After  a  couple of days it won't get you so bad,"  Spook  said.  
"You said you wanted to do a fair story on hackers, right?"

"Fair?   A fair story? I can only try.  If hackers act  and  talk 
like  assholes then they'll come across like assholes, no  matter 
what I do.  However, if they make a decent case, hold a rational, 
albeit arguable position, then maybe someone may listen."   

"You sound like you don't approve of our activities."  The  Spook 
grinned devilishly.  

"Honestly,  and I shouldn't say this cause this is  your  grass,"  
Scott said lighting the joint again.  "No, I don't approve, but I 
figure there's at least 10 sides to a story, and I'm here to find 
that story and present all sides.  Hopefully I can even line up a 
debate  or two.  Convincing me is not the point; my readers  make 
up their own minds."

The word 'readers' momentarily jolted the Spook until he realized 
Scott meant newspaper readers, not his team of Van-Ecking  eaves-
droppers.  Spook took the joint from Scott. "You sound  like  you 
don't want to approve."

"Having  a hard time with all the crap going down with  computers 
these days," Scott agreed.  "I guess my attitude comes through in 
my articles."

"I've never read your stuff," Spook lied.

"Mainly in New York."

"That explains it.  Ever been to Amsterdam?"

"No, I was going to get a map and truck around . . ."

"How  about I show you around, and try to convince you about  the 
honor of our profession?"  Spook asked.

"Great!"  Scott agreed. "But what about . . ."  He made a  motion 
to his lips as if he was holding a cigarette.

"Legal on the streets."

"You sure?"

"C'mon,"  Spook  said  rising from his  chair.  "Chris,  see  you 
later," he promised.  Chris reciprocated and invited his two  new 
friends to return any time. 

Scott followed Spook up the alley named Bakkerstraat and into the 
Rembrandt Plein, a huge open square with cafes and street  people 
and hotels.  "At night," Spook said, "Rembrandt and another 4  or 
5  pleins are the social hub of activity for the younger  genera-
tion.   Wished  I had had this when I was a kid.   How  are  your 
legs?"   The  Spook amorously ogled the throngs  of  young  women 
twenty years his junior.

"Fine, why?"

"I'm going to show you Amsterdam."

Scott and the Spook began walking. The Spook knew his way  around 
and  described much of the history and heritage of the city,  the 
country  and its culture.  This kind of educated hacker  was  not 
what  Scott  had expected.  He had thought that  today's  hackers 
were nerds, the propeller heads of his day, but he was  discover-
ing through the Spook, that he may have been wrong.  Scott remem-
bered  Clifford Stoll's Hanover Hacker was a well positioned  and 
seemingly  upstanding individual who was selling stolen  computer 
information  to the KGB.  How many nerds would have the  gumption 
to play in that league?

They  walked to the outer edge of Old Amsterdam, on  the  Singel-
gracht  at  the Leidseplein.  Without a map or the  Spook,  Scott 
would have been totally lost.  The streets and canals were all so 
similar that, as the old phrase goes, you can't tell the  players 
without a scorecard.   Scott followed the Spook onto an  electric 
street  car.   It headed down the Leidsestraat, one  of  the  few 
heavily commercial streets and across the Amstel again.

The  street car proceeded up the Nieuwezuds Voorburgwal,  a  wide 
boulevard  with  masses of activities on both  sides.   This  was 
tourist madness, thought Scott.  

"This is freedom," said the Spook.

"Freedom?"  The word instantly conjured his memory of the Freedom 
League,  the BBS he suspected was up to no-good.   The Spook  and 

"At  the end of this street is the Train Station.   Thousands  of 
people come through this plaza every day to experience Amsterdam.  
Get  whatever it is out of their system.  The drugs,  the  women, 
the  anarchy of a country that relies upon the integrity  of  its 
population  to  work. Can't you feel it?"  The  Spook  positively 
glowed as he basked in the aura of the city.

Scott had indeed felt it during their several hours together.  An 
intense  sense  of independence that came from  a  generation  of 
democratic  socialism.   Government regulated  drugs,  a  welfare 
system  that  permitted the idle to live nearly as  well  as  the 
working.   Class structures blurred by taxes  so  extraordinarily 
high  that  most everyone lived in similarly  comfortable  condi-
tions.  Poverty is almost non-existent.  

Yet, as the Spook explained to Scott, "This is not the world  for 
an entrepreneur.  That distinction still belongs to the ol'  Red, 
White  and Blue.  It's almost impossible to make any  real  money 

The sun was setting behind the western part of the city, over the 
church steeples and endless rows of townhouses.

"Hungry yet?" Spook grinned at Scott.

"Hungry?   I got a case of the munchies that won't  quit.   Let's 
eat."  Scott's taste buds were entering panic mode. 

"Good,"  the Spook said as he lit up another joint on the  street 
car.  "Let's eat."  He hastily leapt off the slow moving vehicle.  
Scott  followed him across the boulevard and dodged cars,  busses 
and  bicycles.  They stopped in front of a small Indonesian  res-
taurant, Sarang Mas, ably disguised with a red and white  striped 
awning and darkened windows.  

"Ever had Indonesian food?"

"No, well maybe, in New York I guess . . ."

Miles dragged Scott into the unassuming restaurant and the  calm-
ing  strains  of Eastern music replaced the city  noises  on  the 
street  outside. The red and white plastic checkered  tablecloths 
severely  clashed with the gilt of the pagoda shaped  decorations 
throughout.  But only by American tastes.  Sarang Mas was a  much 
touted and reputable restaurant with very fine native  Indonesian 
chefs doing the preparations.

"Let  me tell you something," the Spook said.  "This food is  the 
absolute  finest  food available, anywhere in the world,  bar  no 
idyllic island location, better than a trip to Hershey,  Pennsyl-
vania to cure a case of the munchies.  It's delicate, it's sweet, 
it's  taste bud heaven, it's a thousand points of  flavor  you've 
never tried before."  The Spook sounded like a hawker on the Home 
Shopping Network.

"Shut up," Scott joked.  "You're just making it worse."

"Think  of  the oral orgasm that's coming.   Anticipation."   The 
waiter had appeared and waited patiently.  It was still early and 
the  first seating crowd was two hours away.  "Do you mind  if  I 

"No,  be  my guest.  Just make it fast food.  Super  fast  food," 
Scott begged.

"Ah, let's have a couple of Sate Kambings to start, ah, and we'll 
share some Daguig Goreng, and some Kodok Goreng and ah, the Guila 
Kambing.   And," Spook looked at Scott, "a couple of  Heinekens?"  
Scott nodded.  "And, if there's any way you could put that  order 
into  warp  drive, my friend here," he pointed at  Scott,  "would 
appreciate it muchly."  

"Very  good,"  the dark skinned Indonesian waiter replied  as  he 
scurried back to the kitchen.  

It  still took half an hour for the appetizers to arrive.   Scott 
chewed  up  three straws and tore two napkins into  shreds  while 

"What is this," asked Scott as he voraciously dove into the food.

"Does it matter?"

"No,"  Scott bit into it.  "Mmmmmmm . . .Holy shit, that's  good, 
what is it?"

"Goat parts," the Spook said with a straight face.

Scott  stopped  chewing. "Which goat parts?" he  mumbled  staring 
over the top of his round glasses. 

"The good parts," said the Spook taking two big bites.  "Only the 
good parts."

"It's nothing like, eyeballs, or lips or . . ."  Scott was gross-
ing himself out. 

"No, no, paysan, eat up.  It's safe."  The Spook made the Italian 
gesture  for eating.  "Most of the time."  The Spook chuckled  as 
he ravaged the unidentifiable goat parts on his plate.  

Scott looked suspiciously at the Spook, who seemed to be  surviv-
ing.  How bad could it be?  It tasted great, phenomenal, but what 
is it? Fuck it.  Scott wolfed down his goat parts in total ecsta-
sy.  The Spook was right.  This was the best tasting food he  had 
had, ever.

The rest of the meal was as sensorally exquisite as the  appetiz-
er.   Scott felt relieved once the waiter had promised  that  the 
goat  parts  were from a goat roast, just like a rib roast  or  a 
pork roast.  Nothing disgusting like ear lobes. Ecch!

"So  you  want to know why we do it," said the Spook  in  between 
nibbles  of  Indonesian frog legs.  Scott had to  think  hard  to 
realize that the Spook had shifted the conversation to hacking.

"It had occurred to me," responded Scott.  "Why do you do it?"

"I've  always  liked  biology,  so  hacking  became  the  obvious 
choice,"  Spook said laughing.  Scott looked perplexed  but  that 
didn't interrupt his voracious attack on the indescribably  deli-
cious foods on his plate.

"How old are you?" Asked the Spook.

"The Big four-oh is in range."

"Good, me too. Remember Marshall McCluhan?"

"The medium is the message guru."  Scott had admired him and made 
considerable  effort  to attend a few of  his  highly  motivating 

"Exactly.  He predicted it 20 years early.  The Networked  Socie-
ty."  The  Spook paused to toss more food into his  mouth.   "How 
much do you know about computers?"

"I'm  learning," Scott said modestly.  Whenever asked that  ques-
tion he assumed that he was truly ignorant on the subject despite 
his  engineering  degree.  It was just that computers  had  never 
held the fascination for him that they did for others.

"O.K.,  let me give you the low down." The Spook sucked down  the 
last of the Heineken and motioned to the waiter for two more.  He 
wiped  his  lips and placed his napkin beside  the  well  cleaned 
plate.   "At what point does something become alive?"

"Alive?" Scott mused.  "When some carbon based molecules get  the 
right combination of gases in the proper proportions of  tempera-
ture and pressure . . ."

"C'mon,  guy.  Use your imagination," the Spook scoffed with  his 
eyes twinkling.  "Biologically, you're right, but philosophically 
that's  pretty  fucking  lame. Bart Simpson could  come  up  with 
better  than  that."  The Spook could be most  insulting  without 
even trying.  "Let me ask you, is the traffic light system in New 
York alive?"  

"No  way!" Retorted Scott.  "It's dead as a doornail,  programmed 
for  grid  lock."   They both laughed at the  ironic  choice  for 

"Seriously,  in many ways it can be considered alive," the  Spook 
said.   "It  uses  electricity as its source of  power  or  food.  
Therefore it eats, has a digestive system and has waste  product; 
heat.  Agreed?"

Scott nodded.  That was a familiar personification for  engineer-
ing students.

"And, if you turn off the power, it stops functioning.  A  tempo-
rary starvation if you will.  It interacts with its  environment; 
in  this case with sensors and switches that react to the  condi-
tions at any particular moment.  And lastly, and most  important-
ly,  it  has purpose."  Scott raised  his  eyebrows  skeptically.  
"The program, the rules, those are its purpose.  It is coinciden-
tally the same purpose that its designers had, but nonetheless it 
has purpose."

"That doesn't make it alive. It can't think, as we do, and  there 
is no ego or personality," Scott said smugly.

"So  what?   Since when does plankton or slime mold  join  Mensa?  
That's sentience."  Spook walked right over Scott's comment.

"O.K.,"  Scott acquiesced.  "I'm here to play  Devil's  Advocate, 
not make a continent of enemies."

"Listen,  you better learn something early on," Spook  leaned  in 
over the table.  His seriousness caught Scott's attention.   "You 
can  disagree  with us all you want, that's not a  problem,  most 
everyone does.  But, we do expect fairness, personal and  profes-


"Meaning,"  the dimples in Spook's smiling cheeks radiated  cama-
raderie.   "Don't give up on an argument so early if you  believe 
in it.  That's a chicken shit way out of taking a position.  Real 
kindergarten."  The Spook finished off his Heineken in two gulps.

Scott's tension eased realizing the Spook wanted the debate,  the 
confrontation.   This  week could be a lot more fun than  he  had 

"At any rate, can you buy into that, that the traffic systems are 
alive?" The Spook asked again.

"I'll hold my final judgment in abeyance, but for sake of discus-
sion, let's continue," acquiesced Scott.

"Fair enough.  In 1947, I think that was the year, some guy  said 
that  he doubted there would be world wide market for  more  than 
three computers."

Scott choked on his beer.  "Three?  Ha! What mental moron came up 
with that?"

"Watson.   Thomas  Watson, founder of IBM," the Spook  said  dead 

"You're kidding."

"And what about Phil Estridge?"

"Who's that?"

"Another  IBM'er," said the Spook.  "He was kind of  a  renegade, 
worked outside of the mainstream corporate IBM mold.  His  bosses 
told  him,  'hey, we need a small cheap computer to  tie  to  our 
bigger computers.  This little company Apple is selling too  many 
for  us not to get involved.  By the way, Corporate  Headquarters 
thinks  this  project  is a total waste of  money;  they've  been 
against  it from the outset.  So, you have 8 months.'  They  gave 
him  8  months to build a computer that would set  standards  for 
generations of machines.  And, he pulled it off.  Damned shame he 

"So,  here  we have IBM miss-call two of the greatest  events  in 
their history yet they still found ways to earn tens of  billions 
of dollars.  Today we have, oh, around a hundred million  comput-
ers  in  the world.  That's a shitload of computers.   And  we're 
cranking out twelve million more each year.  

"Then we tied over fifty million of these computers together.  We 
used  local  area networks, wide area networks,  dedicated  phone 
lines,  gate  ways, transmission backbones all in  an  effort  to 
allow  more and more computers to talk to each other.   With  the 
phone company as the fabric of the interconnection of our comput-
ers we have truly become a networked society.  Satellites further 
tighten  the weave on the fabric of the Network.   With  a  modem 
and telephone you have the world at your fingertips."  The  Spook 
raised his voice during his passionate monologue. 

"Now  we can use computers in our cars or boats and use  cellular 
phone  links  to create absolute networkability.  In  essence  we 
have  a  new life form to deal with, the world  wide  information 

"Here's  where we definitely diverge," objected Scott,  hands  in 
the air.  "Arriving at the conclusion that a computer network  is 
a  life form, requires a giant leap of faith that I have  trouble 

"Not  faith, just understanding," the Spook said  with  sustained 
vigor.   "We can compare networks to the veins and blood  vessels 
in  our bodies.  The heart pumps the blood, the  lungs  replenish 
it,  the  other organs feed off of it.  The veins  serve  as  the 
thoroughfares  for blood just as networks serve as  highways  for 
information.   However, the Network is not static, where a  fixed 
road  map describes its operation.  The Network is in a  constant 
state of flux, in all likelihood never to repeat the same pattern 
of connections again.  

"So you admit," accused Scott, "that a network is just a conduit, 
one made of copper and silicon just as the vein in a conduit?"

"Yes, a smart conduit," the Spook insisted.   "Some conduits  are 
much  smarter than others.  The Network itself is a set of  rules 
by  which information is transmitted over a conductive  material.  
You can't touch a network.  Sure, you can touch the computer, the 
network wire, you can touch the bits and pieces that make up  the 
Network, but you cannot touch the Network.  The Network exists as 
a synergistic byproduct of many dissimilar and physically isolat-
ed devices."

"I must admit Spook . . ."

"That's Mister Spook to you earth man," joked the Spook.  "Sorry, 

"I  could probably nickel and dime you into death by  boredom  on 
several  points,  but I will concede that they are  arguable  and 
better  relegated for a long evening of total disagreement.   For 
the sake of world peace I will not press the issue now."

"How very kind," mocked the Spook.  "Let's get out of here,  take 
a walk, and I'll continue your education."

If  anyone  else spoke to Scott so derogatorily, there  would  be 
instant  conflict.  The Spook, though, didn't raise  the  defense 
mechanism  in  Scott.  Spook was actually a  likable  fellow,  if 
somewhat arrogant.

They walked back down Nieuwezuds Voorburgwal and Beursplein  very 
slowly.  The Spook lit up another joint.  

"What's this," said Scott appreciatively, "an endless supply?"

"When in Rome!" replied Spook.  The brightly lit grand  boulevard 
was  a  sample of the energy that permeates the  Amsterdam  night 
life.   The  train  station was still a hub of  activity  in  the 
winter darkness of early evening. 

"So  look at the Network.  You can cut off its tentacles,  that's 
better  than legs and feet in this case, and they will  reappear, 
reconnect  somewhere  else.  Alternate routing  bypasses  trouble 
spots,  self diagnostics help the Network doctors,  priority  and 
preferences  are  handled  according to a clear  set  of  rules."  
Spook waved his hands to reinforce his case. 

"That's, ah, quite, ah, a theory.  What do the experts say  about 
this?"  Scott was teetering on the edge of partial acceptance.

"Experts?   We're  the experts.  That's why we  hack,  don't  you 
see?"   The answer was so obvious it didn't deserve  a  question.  
"Now,  I can only speak for myself, but I find that  the  Network 
organism itself is what's interesting.  The network, the  sponta-
neously grown information organism that covers most of the planet 
Earth.  I believe that is why all hackers start hacking.   Innate 
curiosity about the way things work.  Then, before our eyes,  and 
behind the back of the world, the planet gets connected,  totally 
connected  to each other, and we haven't examined  the  ramifica-
tions  of that closeness, computer-wise that is. That's  what  we 
do."  The Spook sounded satisfied with his explanation.  

Scott thought about it as they crossed Kerksplein and over canals 
to  the Oude Zijds Voorbugwal.  Was the Spook spouting off a  lot 
of rationalized bullshit or were he and the likes of him actually 
performing  valuable services, acting as  technological  sociolo-
gists  to five billion clients?  If a network was alive,  thought 
Scott, it was alive in the sense that a town or village is alive, 
as the sum of its parts.  As a society is alive.  If the computer 
terminal and its operator are members of a global village, as are 
thousands of other computer users, might that not be considered a 
society?   Communications are indeed different, but Scott  remem-
bered that Flatland was considered a valid society with a  unique 
perspective on the universe.  Is it any different than the  tele-
phone,  which connects everyone on the planet?  Shit, Spook  made 
some sense.

They paused on a bridge by the Voorsbugwal, and a few blocks down 
the  canal Scott saw a concentration of bright  lights.   "What's 
that?" He asked.

"Poontang," the Spook said lasciviously.

"Say wha?" Scott asked 

"This  is  Horny Heaven, Ode to Orgasm, Pick a  Perversion."  The 
Spook proudly held his arms out.  

"Aha, the Red Light District," Scott added dryly.

"Don't  take the romance out of it, this is sleaze at it's  best.  
Believe  me I know."  Somehow Scott had no doubts.  With the  way 
Spook was passionately describing the specific acts and  services 
available  within the 10 square block hotbed of sex,  Scott  knew 
that the Spook was no novice.  They grabbed a couple of Heinekens 
from a bar and slowly strolled down one side of the carnal canal. 

"I was going to go to the Yab Yub tonight, but since you've never 
been here before, I figured I owed you a tour."

"Yab Yub?  Am I supposed to know . . ."

"The biggest bestest baddest whorehouse in Amsterdam," said Spook 

"O.K., fine, and this is . . ."

"The slums."

"Thanks a lot," Scott said sarcastically.  

"No,  this  is for middle class tourist sex.  Yab  Yub  is  first 
class but this'll do me just fine.  How about you? Ready for some 
serious debauching?" The Spook queried.

"Huh?"   Scott laughed anxiously. "Oh, I don't know,  I've  never 
been terribly fond of hookers." 

"First time when I was 13.  My uncle took me to a whorehouse  for 
my  birthday.   Shit," the Spook fondly grinned  at  the  memory. 
"I'll  never forget the look on my mom's face when he  told  her.  
She lectured him for a week.  Christ," he paused. "It's so funny, 
you know.  My uncle's gay."  

Scott was enjoying the conversation and the company of the Spook.  
Americans meeting up with kindred Americans in a foreign land  is 
a breath of fresh air and the Spook provided that. 

Scott  window shopped as they walked, sidestepping the  very  few 
venturesome cars which attempted to penetrate the horny  humanity 
on the crowded cobblestone streets.  The variety of sexual  mate-
rials was beyond comprehension.  Spook seemed to be avidly fluent 
in  their description and application.  In one window,  a  spiked 
dildo  of emmense girth and length dominated the display.   Scott 
grimaced at the weapon while the Spook commented on it's possible 
uses at an adult sit'n'spin party.

"Here's  the live sex show," the Spook said invitingly.   "Pretty 
wild.  Look at the pictures."  Scott leaned over to view a set of 
graphic  photographs that would have caused the Meese  Commission 
on Pornography to double dose on its Geritol.

"Damn,  they show this stuff on the street, huh?" Asked the  sur-
prised Scott.  He wasn't naive, it was just quite a shock to  see 
such  graphic  sexuality in such a concentration and in  such  an 
open  manner.  On Sundays when the Red Light District  is  closed 
until 6 P.M., many Dutch families use the window dressings as the 
textbook  for their children's' sex education.  "No,  let's  keep 
going," Scott said unconvinced he would partake of the pleasures.

"Isn't  this great?"  The Spook blurted out as Scott was  looking 
in the window of one of the hundred plus sex shops.  "I just love 
it.  Remember I was telling you about freedom in Amsterdam?  It's 
kind of like the hacker's ethic."

Spook  was going to equate sex and hacking?  "Is that 'cause  all 
hacker's are hard up?" Scott laughed.

"No, dig it."  The Spook suddenly stopped to face Scott.   "Free-
dom, total freedom implies and requires responsibility.   Without 
that, the system would collapse into chaotic anarchy.  Hacking is 
a  manifestation of freedom.  Once we have cracked a system,  and 
are in it, we have the freedom to do anything we want.  But  that 
freedom  brings  responsibility too, and, just like with  sex  so 
freely available, legally, it must be handled with care."   Spook 
was  sermonizing again, but was making more sense. His  parallels 
were concise and poignant.  

They walked further into the heart of the District and the  Spook 
was constantly distracted by the quantity of red lights over  the 
basement  and first floor windows.  He wanted to closely  examine 
the contents of every one.  In each window was a girl,  sometimes 
two, clad in either a dental floss bathing suit or a see  through 
penoire. Scott enjoyed the views, but thought that the Spook  was 
acting  somewhat obsessively. The calm, professional,  knowledge-
able hacker had reverted into a base creature, driven by hormonal 
compulsion. Or then again, maybe they were just stoned.

"I gotta pick the right one, just the right one," the Spook said.  
"Let's  see what else is available.  Got to find you a good  one, 

Scott shook his head.  "I don't know . . ."

"What,  you don't wanna get laid?  What's the matter  with  you?" 
The Spook couldn't believe his ears.

The  sheer intensity of the omnipresent sexual  stimulation  gave 
Scott  the  urge to pause and ask himself why.   The  desire  was 
physically manifest, but the psychology of hookers; it wasn't his 
style.   In the three years since he and Maggie had split,  Scott 
occassioned to spend time with many ladies.  He had kept  himself 
in reasonable shape without doing becoming fanatic about it,  and 
his high metabolism helped keep the body from degenerating  ahead 
of schedule. So he had had his share of companionship and  oppor-
tunity, but right now he was enjoying the freedom of his work and 
the pleasures that that offered.  If a woman was in the cards, so 
be it, but it was not essential at the moment.  

"Nothing, it's just that, well, I prefer to know the lady, if you 
know what I mean."

"Oh, no problem!" The Spook had an answer.  "That's an all night-
er and will cost you 1000 guilders."

"No, no," Scott said quickly.  "That's not it.  I just don't  get 
a charge from hookers.  Now, if some friends set it up to like  a 
real pick-up, at the beach, a bar, whatever, as long as I  didn't 
know.   That  could  prove interesting.  Hmmmm."   He  smiled  to 
himself.  "But  honestly?   I been a couple of  times,  just  for 
giggles.  And boy was it giggles."

Scott  laughed out loud at the memory.  "The first time it was  a 
friend's birthday and a bunch of us put up enough to get him laid 
at  the  Chicken  Ranch."  That was the evening  Scott  had  lost 
almost  two  hours of his life on the drive back  to  Vegas.   He 
speculated  to himself, in private, that he may been abducted  by 
alien creatures from a UFO.  Right.

"I know the place," added the Spook.

"I  was designated drunk driver so I drove him over to  the  high 
desert in the company van, about an hour's drive.  Before we went 
in  I insisted on a couple of beers.  He was getting laid  and  I 
was  nervous.  Go figure.  At any rate, the security cameras  let 
us in and two very attractive ladies in slinky gowns lead us over 
to  the couch.  They immediately assumed that we were both  there 
for, well, the services.  I was too embarrassed to say no, that I 
wasn't  interested,  but then out came a line of 20 of  the  most 
gorgeous girls you could imagine.  The madam, I forget her  name, 
stepped  in and begged our indulgence for the  interruption.   It 
seems, she said, that the BBC was filming a documentary on broth-
els,  and they had a camera crew in the next room, and  would  we 
mind too terribly much if they filmed us?"  Scott feigned extreme 

"Filmed  you? For TV?  Even I won't go that far," the Spook  said 
impressed  with  Scott's  story.  "My movies are  all  first  run 
private. Alphabetical from Adelle to Zelda." 

"Not  film that, pervert!" He had pegged the Spook.   "They  only 
filmed  the selection process, the initial meetings and then  the 
walk down the hallways to the bedrooms."

"So what'd you do?" The Spook asked with interest.

"We did the camera bit, Jim got laid and I take the fifth."

"You chicken shit asshole," hollered the laughing Spook.  

Scott took that as a compliment from the male slut to whom he was 
speaking.   "Listen, that was a long time ago, before I was  mar-
ried, and I don't want it to screw up our divorce. Three years of 

The  Spook kept laughing. "You really are a home boy,  huh?"   He 
gasped  for air.  They continued down a side street and  back  up 
the  Oude Zijds Achterburgwal, the other main canal in  the  Dis-
trict,  so  Spook could check out more windows.  Those  with  the 
curtain drawn indicated that either services were being  rendered 
or that it was lunch hour.  Hard to tell.

As  they  passed the Guys and Gals Sex Shop, the  Spook  abruptly 
stopped  and stepped back toward the canal.  He whistled to  him-
self  in appreciation of the sex goddesses that had captured  his 
attention.  In the basement window was a stunning buxom brunette, 
wearing an invisible  g-string and bra.  She oozed sexuality with 
her  beckoning  lips  and fingers when she  spotted  the  Spook's 
interest.  In the first floor window above the brunette were  two 
perfectly  voluptuous  poster blondes,  in  matching  transparent 
peignoirs.  They too, saw the Spook, and attempted to seduce  him 
to  their doorway.  Scott was impressed that the ladies  were  so 

"Some sweet meat, huh?" Said the Spook ogling his choices.  "Well 
are you or aren't you?" He asked with finality. "I'm all  systems 
go.   You get first choice: 2 from window A or 1 from  window  B.  
What'll it be?"

Scott responded immediately.  "I got a safer way.  There are five 
billion  people on the planet, and at any given time at  least  a 
million have to be having sex.  So all I have to do is tune  into 
the Planetary Consciousness, the ultimate archetype, and have  an 
orgasm anytime I want."

"You're a sick mother," laughed the Spook.  "Transcendental group 
sex.  At least I can tell the difference between pussy and  pray-
ing."  He asked Scott  again to pick a girl.

"I  have to pass.  It's just not my thing."  Spook glared at  him 
askance.   "No really, go ahead. I'm a bit tired, I just  arrived 
this morning."  He had forgotten to take his 3 hour afternoon nap 
and it was close to 6 in the morning body time.  "I'll see you at 
the conference tomorrow.  All right?"

"Fuckin' A!"  The Spook beamed.  "I get 'em all."  He motioned to 
the girls that he would like to hire all three of them, at  once.  
They indicated that that would be a fine idea.  "Listen, I  don't 
mean  to be rude, but . . ."  the Spook said to Scott as he  pro-
ceeded  up the stairs to meet the female triumvirate.  He  turned 
briefly in the open doorway with two of the girls tugging at  his 
clothes.  "Scott!  What happens if the medium or the message gets 
sick?  Think about it."  The door closed behind the Spook as  the 
girls shed their clothes.

"Medium?  Jeez you are really fucked," laughed Scott.  "Pervert!" 
He called out as the window curtains closed.  

Scott  got directions to the Eureka! from a live sex show  sales-
man.   For all the walking he and the Spook had done,  miles  and 
miles,  it was odd that they had ended up only a few blocks  away 
from  the hotel.  Ah, but that would figure, thought  Scott.  The 
Sex  Starved Spook was staying at the  Europa around  the  corner 
from  Sin Street.  Scott rolled a joint of his own to  enjoy  for 
the  pleasant  evening promenade home along the  canals.   Spook, 
what  a character.  In one breath, perfectly rational,  but  then 
the Jekyll and Hyde hormone hurricane. Wow.  

What  Scott  Mason could never have imagined,  indeed  quite  the 
opposite,  was that the Spook was unable to respond to the  three 
very  attentive ladies he had hired for that very purpose.  Noth-
ing.   No  matter what stimuli they effected, the  Spook's  brain 
could not command his body to respond.  His confusion  alternated 
with  embarrassment   which made the problem only  worse.   Never 
before  had  the Spook had such a problem.  Never.   One  of  the 
ladies spoke to him kindly. "Hey, it happens to everyone once  in 
a while."  At hearing that he jumped up, removed the loose condom 
and  zipped  his pants while screaming, "Not to me.   It  doesn't 
happen to me!"

Scott  did  not know that the Spook bolted into  the  street  and 
started  running, in panic, away from the scene of his most  pri-
vate  of failures.  He ran all the way, in fact beating Scott  to 
his  hotel.   He  was driven by the terror of  the  first  sexual 
failure  in his life.  The Spook felt emasculated as he sought  a 
rationalization that would allow him to retain a shred of  digni-

He  was used to commanding women, not being humiliated  by  them. 
What was wrong?  Women fell all over him, but why this?  This  of 
all things?  The Spook fell asleep on the top of his bed with his 
clothes on. 

Scott  did not know that he would not be seeing the Spook  tomor-

* * * * *

     Wednesday, January 6
     Washington, D.C.

"Eight  more!"  exclaimed Charlie Sorenson into Martin  Templer's 
face. "What the hell is going on?"  The private office on twenti-
eth and "L" Street was well guarded by an efficient  receptionist 
who believed she worked for an international import export  firm.  
Consulting  offices  were often easier  for  senior  intelligence 
officials to use for clandestine, unrecorded meetings than  one's 
own office.  In the interest of privacy, naturally.

The two NSA and CIA agents from "P" Street held their clandestine 
meeting in a plain, windowless office meagerly furnished  with  a 
desk, a couple of chairs and a file cabinet.  

Charlie  turned  his  back on Templer and  sighed.   "I'm  sorry, 
Marty.   It's not you."  He paced to the other side of the  small 
confining  room.   "I'm getting pressure from  all  sides.   That 
damned FBI guy is making a nuisance of himself.  Asking too  many 
questions.   The  media smells a conspiracy and the  Director  is 
telling  me to ignore it."  Sorenson stood in front  of  Templer.  
"And, now, no, it's not bad enough, but 8 more of the mothers  go 
off.  Shit!"  He slammed his fist onto the desk.

"We  can  explain one to the Pentagon, but  nine?"  Martin  asked 

"See what I mean?" Sorenson pointed.

Sorenson and Templer attended the ECCO and CERT roundups twice  a 
week since they began after the first EMP-T explosion.  

"These  are the Sats?" Templer leaned over to the desk.   Corners 
of several high resolution satellite photographs sneaked out from 
a  partially open folder.  Sorenson opened the folder and  spread 
the photos across the surface.  They weren't optical photographs, 
but  the  familiar map shapes of the central United  States  were 
visible behind swirls and patterns of  a spectrum of colors.  The 
cameras  and  computer had been instructed to  look  at  selected 
bandwidths,  just as infrared vision lets one see at  night.   In 
this  case, though, the filters excluded everything but  frequen-
cies of the electromagentic spectrum of interest. 

"Yeah,"  Sorenson said, pointing at one of the photos.  "This  is 
where  we found the first one."  On one of the photos,  where  an 
outline  of the United States was visible, a dot of  fuzzy  light 
was visible in the Memphis, Tennessee area.

"That's an EMP-T bomb?" asked Templer.

"The electromagnetic signature, in certain bandwidths is the same 
as  from  a nuclear detonation."  Sorenson pulled  another  photo 
out.   It was a computer enhanced blowup of the  first  satellite 
photo.  The bridges across the Mississippi were clearly  visible.  
The  small  fuzzy dot from the other photograph became  a  larger 
fuzzy cloud of white light.  

"I didn't know we had geosyncs over us, too," Templer said light-

"Officially  we don't," Sorenson said seriously.  Then he  showed 
his teeth and said, "unofficially we have them everywhere." 

"So who was hit?"

"Here?"  He pointed at Memphis.  "Federal Express.  A  few  hours 
ago.  They're down.  Can't say when they'll be back in  business.  
Thank God no one was killed.  They weren't so lucky in Texas."

Sorenson  pulled  a couple more photographs and a fuzzy  dot  and 
it's  fuzzy cloud mate were clearly visible in the Houston  area.   
"EDS Computers," said Sorenson.  "Six dead, 15 injured.  They  do 
central  processing for hundreds of companies.  Every one,  gone. 
And then here."   He scattered more photos with the now recogniz-
able fuzzy white dots.

"Mid-State  Farm Insurance, Immigration and  Naturalization,  Na-
tional Bank, General Inter-Dynamics, CitiBank, and the Sears mail 
order  computers."   Sorenson spoke excitedly as  he  listed  the 
latest victims of the magnetic cardiac arrest that their computer 
systems, and indeed, their entire organization suffered.  


"Like stink on shit."

"What do they know?"

"Too much."

"What can we do?"

"Get to the bottom of this before Mason does."


                         Chapter 19

     Thursday, January 7
     Amsterdam, Holland

The following morning Scott awoke without telephone  intervention 
by the front desk. He felt a little on the slow side, an observa-
tion  he  attributed to either the time difference, not  the  jet 
lag,  or the minor after effect of copius  cannabis  consumption. 
The  concierge  called a cab and Scott told the driver  where  he 
thought he was going.  Ya, no problem, it's a short ride.  

To  Scott's  surprise he found himself passing by  the  same  sex 
emporium where he had left the Spook last evening. Scott reminded 
himself  to ask Spook how it went.  The taxi stopped in front  of 
an old building that had no signs of use.  It was number 44,  but 
just in case, Scott asked the driver to wait a moment.  He walked 
up the door and finding no bell, rapped on the heavy wooden door.

"Ya?" A muffled voice asked through the door.

"Is  Jon there? This is Scott Mason."  Scott knowingly looked  at 
the cab driver.


Scott looked at the number again and then remembered what Jon had 
told  him.   "Sorry.  This is Repo Man.  Kirk said  you'd  expect 

"Ah, ya! Repo Man."  The door opened and Scott happily waved  off 
the  cab.   "Welcome, please, come in."   Scott  entered  a  dark 
chamber as the door closed behind him.  "I am Clay, that's French 
for key."

Wonderful, thought Scott.  "Thanks for the invite.  Is Jon here?"

"Everyone is here."

"I  thought it didn't begin until eleven," Scott said looking  at 
his watch. 

"Ah,  ya, well," the Dutch accented Clay said.  "It is  difficult 
to stop sometimes.  We have been here all night."

Scott followed Clay up a darkened flight of steps.  At mid  land-
ing  Clay opened a door and suddenly the dungeon-like  atmosphere 
vanished.   Inside  the cavernous room were perhaps  200  people, 
mostly  men, excitedly conversing and huddling over computers  of 
every  imaginable model.  The high ceiling was liberally  dressed 
with  fluorescent  tubing which accentuated the green  hues  from 
many of the computer monitors.  The walls were raw brick and  the 
sparse decorations were all computer related.  Windows at the two 
ends  of the building added enough daylight to take some  of  the 
edge off of the pallid green aura. 

"What  should  I do?" Asked Scott looking around the  large  room 
which was probably overcrowded by modern safety counts.

"The  Flying Dutchman said he will see you a little later,"  Clay 
said.  "Many of our members know Repo Man is a reporter, and  you 
are free to look and ask anything. Please enjoy yourself."   Clay 
quickly disappeared into the congregation. 

Scott  suddenly  felt abandoned and wished  he  could  disappear.  
Like those dreams where you find yourself stark naked in a public 
place.   He felt that his computer naivete was written  all  over 
his  face  and he would be judged thus, so instead  he  tried  to 
ignore it by perusing the walls.  He became amused at the  selec-
tion of art, poster art, Scotch taped to the brick.

The first poster had Daffy Duck, or reasonable facsimile thereof, 
prepared  to  bring a high speed sledgehammer in contact  with  a 
keyboard.   "Hit  any key to continue," was the  simple  poster's 
message.   Another  portrayed a cobweb covered  skeleton  sitting 
behind  a  computer terminal with a repairman standing  over  him 
asking a pertinent question.  "System been down long?"

One of the ruder posters consisted of Ronald Reagan with a super-
imposed hand making a most obscene manual gesture. The poster was 
entitled, "Compute This!"

Scott  viewed  the walls as if in an art gallery, not  a  hackers 
convention.   He  openly laughed when he saw a  poster  from  the 
National  Computer  Security Center, a working  division  of  the 
National  Security  Agency.   A red, white and  blue  Uncle  Sam, 
finger   pointing,  beckoned,  "We  want  YOU!  to  secure   your 
computer."    In an open white space on the poster someone  wrote 
in,  "Please list name and date if you have already cracked  into 
an  NSA  computer."  Beneath were a long list of  Hacker  Handles 
with the dates they had entered the super secret agency's comput-
ers.  Were things really that bad, Scott asked himself.

"Repo Man?"  

Scott  turned quickly to see a large, barrel chested, red  haired 
man  with  an  untamed beard in his early  forties  approach  him 
rapidly.   The man was determined in his gait.   Scott  answered, 
"Yes . . .?

"Ya, I'm the Flying Dutchman," he said hurriedly in a large boom-
ing  voice.  "Welcome." He vigorously shook Scott's hand  with  a 
wide  smile hidden behind the bushy red face.  "You  enjoyed  Am-
sterdam last night, ya?"  He expected a positive answer.  Sex was 
no crime here.

"Well,"  Scott blushed.  "I must say it was a unique experience," 
he  said  carefully so as  not to offend Holland's  proud  hosts.  
"But I think the Spook had more fun than I did."  

The  Flying  Dutchman's  hand went limp.  "Spook?   Did  you  say 
Spook?"  His astonishment was clear.

"Yeah, why?"  Scott asked.

"The Spook?  Here?  No one has seen him in years."

"Yeah, well he's alive and well and screwing his brains out  with 
three of Amsterdam's finest," Scott said with amusement.  "What's 
the big deal?"

"The  Spook, ya this is goot," the Flying Dutchman said  clapping 
his  hands together with approval.   "He was the greatest  phreak 
of his day.  He retired years ago, and has only been seen once or 
two times maybe.  He is a legend."

"A phreak?"

"Oh,  ya, ya.  A phreak," he said speaking rapidly. "Before  home 
computers,  in the 1960's and 1970's, hacking meant fighting  the 
phone  company.  In America you call it Ma Bell, I believe.  Cap-
tain Crunch was the epitome of phone phreaks."

These  names  were a bit much, thought Scott,  but  might  add  a 
sense  of levity to his columns.  "Captain Crunch?"  Scott  asked 
with skepticism.

"Ya, Captain Crunch.  He blew the plastic whistle from a  Captain 
Crunch  cereal box into the phone," the Flying  Dutchman held  an 
invisible  whistle to his lips. "And it opened up an inside  line 
to  make long distance calls.  Then he built and sold Blue  Boxes 
which recreated the tones to make free calls."

"Phreaking and computer hacking, they're the same?"

"Ya,  ya, especially for the older hackers." The Flying  Dutchman 
patted  himself on the stomach.  "You see hacking, some  call  it 
cracking, is taking a system to its limit. Exploring it,  master-
ing the machine.  The phones, computers, viruses, it's all  hack-
ing.  You understand?"

"Spook called hacking a technique for investigating new spontane-
ously generated lifeforms.  He said a network was a living being.  
We  got into quite an argument about it."  Scott  sounded  mildly 
derisive of the theory.

The  Dutchman crossed his arms, grinned wide and rocked back  and 
forth  on  his  heels.  "Ya, ya.  That  sounds  like  the  Spook.  
Cutting to the heart of the issue.  Ya, you see, we all have  our 
reasons why we hack, but ya, Spook is right.  We forget sometimes 
that the world is one giant computer, with thousands and millions 
of  arms, just like the brain.  The neurons," he pointed  at  his 
head,  "are connected to each other with synapses.  Just  like  a 
computer network."

The Flying Dutchman's explanation was a little less ethereal than 
the Spook's and Scott found himself anticipating further enlight-

"The  neuron is a computer.  It can function  independently,  but 
because  it's capacity is tiny, a neuron is really quite  limited 
in  what it can achieve alone.  The synapse is like  the  network 
wire,  or phone company wiring.  It connects the neurons or  com-
puters  together."  The Dutchman spoke almost religiously  as  he 
animatedly  drew wires and computers in the air to reinforce  the 
concept. "Have you heard of neural networks?"

"Absolutely," Scott said.  "The smart chips that can learn."

"Ya, exactly.  A neural network is modeled after the brain,  too.  
It is a very large number of cells, just like the brain's  cells, 
that  are  only connected to each other in the  most  rudimentary 

"Like a baby's brain?" Scott offered.

"Ya,  ya,  just like a baby.  Very good.  So like the  baby,  the 
neural net grows connections as it learns.  The more  connections 
it makes, the smarter it gets."

"Both the baby and the network?"

"Ya,"  Dutchman laughed.  "So as the millions of  neural  connec-
tions  are made, some people learn skills that others  don't  and 
some  computers are better suited to certain tasks  than  others.  
And  now there's a global neural network growing.  Millions  more 
computers  are  added  and we connect them  together,  until  any 
computer  can talk to any other computer.  Ya, the Spook is  very 
much right.  The Network is alive, and it is still learning."

Scott  was  entering a world where the machines,  the  computers, 
were personified, indeed imbued with a life of their own by their 
creators  and  their programmers.  A highly complex  world  where 
inter-relatedness  is infinitely more important than the specific 
function.  Connections are issue.  Didn't Spook remind  him  that 
the medium is the message? 

But where, questioned Scott, is the line between man and machine?  
If  computers are stupid, and man must program them to give  them 
the appearance of intelligence, then the same must be true of the 
Network, the global information network.  Therefore, when a piece 
of  the  Network is programmed to learn how to  plan  for  future 
Network  expansion  and that piece of the Network  calls  another 
computer on the Network to inquire as to how it is answering  the 
same  problem  for different conditions, don't  man  and  machine 
merge?   Isn't  the Network acting as an extension of  man?   But 
then,  a  hammer is a tool as well, and no one calls a  hammer  a 
living being.

Unto  itself it is not alive, Scott reasoned. The Network  merely 
emulates the growth patterns and behavior of the cranial  highway 
system.   He was ready to concede that a network was  more  alive 
than a hammer, but he could not bring himself to carry the analo-
gy any further yet.

"That gives me a lot to think about," Scott assured the Dutchman.

"Ya, ya, it does.  Do you understand quantum physics?"

What  the hell would make him ask that question,  thought  Scott.  
"I  barely passed Quantum 101, the math was too far out  for  me, 
but,  yes," he laughed kindly, "I do remember the  basics.   Very 

"Goot.   In the global Network there is no way to  predict  where 
the  next information packet will be sent.  Will it start  here," 
the Dutchman motioned to his far left, "or here?  There's no  way 
to know.  All we can say, just as in physics, is that there is  a 
probability  of  data being transferred between any  two  points.  
Chance.  And we can also view the Network in operation as both  a 
wave and a particle."

"Wait," stopped Scott.  "You've just gone over my head, but I get 
the point, I think.  You and your associates really believe  that 
this  global  Network  is an entity unto itself and  that  it  is 
growing and evolving on its own as we speak?"

"Ya,  exactly.   You see, no one person is  responsible  for  the 
Network, its growth or its care.  Like the brain, many  different 
regions control their own piece of the Network.  And, the Network 
can still function normally even if pieces of it are  disconnect-
ed. The split brain studies."

"And you're the caretakers for the Network?" doubted Scott.

"No.  As I said we all have our reasons.  The common  denominator 
is  that we treat the Network as an incredibly powerful  organism 
about which we know very, very little.  That is our function - to 

"What is it that you do?  For a living?"

"Ah,  ya.  I am Professor of Technological Sociology at the  Uni-
versity of Amsterdam. The original proposal for my research  came 
from personal beliefs and concerns; about the way the human  race 
has to learn to cope in the face of great technology leaps.  NATO 
is funding the research."

"NATO," exclaimed Scott.  "They fund hacking?"

"No," laughed the Dutchman. "They know that hacking is  necessary 
to gather the raw data my research requires, so they pretend  not 
to notice or care.  What we are trying to do is predict what  the 
Baby,  the  global Network will look and act like when  it  grows 

"Isn't crystal ball gazing easier?"

"Ya,  it  may be," the Dutchman agreed. "But now, why  don't you 
look around?  I am sure you will find it most educational."  

The  Dutchman asked again about the Spook. "Is he really here  in 
Amsterdam?"   Yup! "And he said he'd be here today?"  Yup!   "The 
Spook, at the conference? He hasn't made an appearance in years."  
Well, that's what he told me, he'd be here. 

Scott  profusely  thanked his host and assured him that  yes,  he 
would  ask  for anything he needed.  Thank you.   Kirk  had  been 
vindicated,  thought  Scott who had expected a  group  of  pimply 
faced  adolescents  with nerd shirts to be bouncing  around  like 
Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale.

Scott  slowly  explored the tables loaded with various  types  of 
computer  gear.  IBM clones were the most common, but an  assort-
ment  of  older  machines, a CP/M or two, even  a  Commodore  PET 
proved  that expensive new equipment was not needed to  become  a 
respected hacker.  Scott reminded himself that this group was the 
elite of hackerdom.  These were the Hacker's Hackers.

In his discussions with Kirk, Scott figured he would see some  of 
the  tools  of  the trade.  But he had no idea of  the  level  of 
sophistication  that  was openly, and perhaps,  illegally,  being 
demonstrated.   Then  again,  maybe that's why  they  hold  their 
Hacker Ho Downs in Amsterdam.

Scott learned something very critical early on. 

"Once you let one of us inside your computer, it's all over.  The 
system is ours."   The universal claim by hackers.

 Scott no longer had any trouble accepting that.  "So the securi-
ty  guy's  job," one short balding middle  aged  American  hacker 
said,  "is to keep us out.  I'm a cracker."  What's  that?   "The 
cracker  is kind of like a safecracker, or lock picker.  It's  my 
job to figure out how to get into the computers."   Scott had  to 
stifle  a giggle when he found out that this slight man's  handle 
was appropriately Waldo.  

Waldo went on to explain that he was a henpecked CPA who needed a 
hobby that would bore his wife to tears.  So he locked himself in 
the basement, far away from her, and got hooked on computers.  He 
found  that  rummaging  through other computers  was  an  amusing 
alternative  to  watching  Honeymooner  reruns  while  his   wife 
kvetched.   After  a while, he said he discovered that he  had  a 
talent for cracking through the front doors of computers.  On the 
professional hacker circuit that made Waldo a valuable commodity.  
The  way it works, he explained, was that he would  trade  access 
codes  for  outlines  of the contents of the  computers.   If  he 
wanted to look further, he maintained a complete indexing  system 
on the contents of thousands of computers world wide.  He  admit-
ted  it was the only exciting part of his life.  "The most fun  a 
CPA  has," he said calmly, "is cutting up client's credit  cards.  
But  me,"  he  added proudly, "I've been in and out  of  the  IRS 
computers more times than Debbie did it in Dallas."

"The IRS computers? You've been in there?"

"Where else does a CPA go, but to the scene of the crime."  Waldo 
laughed  at  his joke.  "At first it was a game, but once  I  got 
into the IRS backplane, which connects the various IRS  districts 
together,  the  things I found scared me.  No one is  in  control 
over  there.   No one.  They abuse  taxpayers,  basically  honest 
taxpayers who are genuinely in trouble and need some  understand-
ing by their government. Instead they are on the receiving end of 
a  vicious attack by a low level government paper slave who  gets 
his  thrills  by seizing property.  The IRS is  immune  from  due 
process."  Scott immediately thought of Tyrone and his  constitu-
tional ravings the other night.

"The  IRS's motto is, 'guilty until we cash the check'.  And  IRS 
management  ignores  it.  Auditors are on a quota basis,  and  if 
they don't recover their allotted amounts of back taxes, they can 
kiss  their jobs goodbye."  The innocent looking Waldo, too,  had 
found  a cause, a raison d'tre, for hacking away  at  government 

"You know that for a fact?" Asked Scott.  This alone was a  major 
story.   Such  a policy was against everything  the  Constitution 
stood  for.  Waldo nodded and claimed to have seen  the  internal 
policy  memoranda.  Who was in charge?  Essentially, said  Waldo, 
no one.  It was anarchy.

"They  have the worst security of any agency that should  by  all 
rights  have the best.  It's a crime against  American  citizens.  
Our  rights and our privacy have shriveled to  nothing."   Waldo, 
the  small CPA, extolled the virtues of fighting the system  from 
within.   From  within  he could battle the  computers  that  had 
become the system.

"Have you ever, shall I say, fixed files in the IRS computers?"

"Many times," Waldo said proudly.  "For my clients who were being 
screwed,  sometimes  I am asked to help.  It's all  part  of  the 
job," he said of his beloved avocation.

"How  many  systems have you cracked?" Asked Scott,  visibly  im-

"I  am,"  Waldo said modestly, "the best.  I  have  cracked  1187 
systems  in 3 years. 1040 was my personal goal for a while,  then 
1099, but it's kind of open ended now."

"That's almost one a day?"

"You  could look at it like that, but sometimes you can get  into 
10  or twenty in one day.  You gotta remember," Waldo  said  with 
pride, "a lot of homework goes into this.  You just don't  decide 
one day to crack a system.  You have to plan it."

"So how do you do it?"

"O.K., it's really pretty simple. D'you speak software?"

"Listen, you make it real simple, and I won't interrupt. OK?"  

"Interrupt. Hah! That's a good one.  Here, let me show you on the 
computer," Waldo said as he leaned over to peck at the  keyboard.  
"The  first step to getting into computers is to find where  they 
are  located, electronically speaking, O.K.?"  Scott agreed  that 
you needed the address of the bank before you could rob it.

"So what we do is search for computers by running a program, like 
an exchange autodialer.  Here, look here," Waldo said pointing at 
the  computer screen.  "We select the area code here,  let's  say 
203,  that's  Connecticut.  Then we pick the  prefix,  the  first 
three  numbers, that's the local exchange. So let's choose  968," 
he entered the numbers carefully. "That's Stamford.  By the  way, 
I wrote this software myself."  Waldo spoke of his software as  a 
proud  father would of his first born son.  Scott patted  him  on 
the back, urging him to continue.

"So we ask the computer to call every number in the 203-968  area 
sequentially.   When the number is answered, my computer  records 
whether  a voice, a live person answered, or a computer  answered 
or  if  it  was a fax machine."  Scott never  had  imagined  that 
hacking was so systematic. 

"Then,  the computer records its findings and we have a  complete 
list of every  computer in that area," Waldo concluded.

"That's  10,000  phone calls," Scott realized.  "It must  cost  a 
fortune and take forever?"

"Nah,  not a dime. The phone company has a hole.    It  takes  my 
program  less than a second to record the response and we're  off 
to  the  next  call.   It's all free,  courtesy  of  TPC,"  Waldo 

"TPC?" Questioned Scott.

"The Phone Company," Waldo chuckled.  

"I  don't see how you can do the entire country that way,  10,000 
calls at a shot.  In New York there must be ten million phones."

"Yes,"  agreed Waldo, "it is a never ending job.   Phone  numbers 
change,  computers  come and go, security gets better.   But  you 
have to remember, there are a lot of other people out there doing 
the  same thing, and we all pool our information.  You could  ask 
for  the number to almost any computer in the world, and  someone 
in  our  group, somewhere, will have the number  and  likely  the 

"Jesus . . ."

"I run my program at night, every night, when I sleep.  On a good 
night,  if  the  calls are connected quickly  enough,  I  can  go 
through about a thousand phone numbers.  I figure roughly a month 
per prefix."

"I am amazed, simply amazed. Truly impressed," said Scott.   "You 
know,  you always kind of imagine these things are possible,  but 
until it stares you in the face it's black magic."

"You  wanna  know the best part?" Waldo said teasingly.   "I  get 
paid for it, too."  Waldo crouched over and spoke to Scott secre-
tively.   "Not everyone here approves, but, I sell lists to  junk 
fax mail-order houses.  They want the fax lists.  On a good night 
I can clear a couple hundred while my modem does the dialing."

The underground culture of Scott's day, demonstrating against the 
war, getting gassed while marching by George Washington Universi-
ty, getting thrown out of a Nixon rally at  Madison Square Garden 
seemed so innocent in comparison.    He continued to be in awe of 
the  possible applications for a technology not as benign as  its 
creators had intended.

Scott  met other hackers; they were proud of the term  even  with 
the current negative connotations it carried.  He saw how system-
ic  attacks against the front door to computers were  the  single 
biggest  challenge  to hackers; the proverbial chase  before  the 
catch, the romance to many.  

At another tabletop laden with computers Scott learned that there 
are  programs  designed  to try passwords  according  to  certain 
rules.   Some try every possible combination of letters and  num-
bers,  although  that is considered an antique  method  of  brute 
force.  More sophisticated hackers use advanced algorithms  which 
try to open the computer with 'likely' passwords. It was all 
very scientific, the approach to the problem, thought Scott.

He  met  communications gurus who knew more about  the  switching 
networks inside the phone company than AT&T engineers.  They  had 
complete diagrams and function calls and source code for even the 
latest software revisions on the 4ESS and the new 5ESS  switches.  
"Once  you're  into the phone computers," one  phone  phreak  ex-
tolled, "you have an immense amount of power at your  fingertips.  
Incredible.  Let me give you an example."  

The  speaker  was  another American, one that  Scott  would  have 
classified  as  an ex-Berkeley-hippie still living in  the  past.  
His  dirty shoulder length hair capped a skinny frame which  held 
his  jeans up so poorly that there was no question where the  sun 
didn't shine.  

"You  know  that  the phone company is part  of  the  Tri-Lateral 
Commission,  working with Kissinger and the Queen of  England  to 
control  the world.  Right?"  His frazzled speech was matched  by 
an annoying habit of sweeping his stringy hair off his face every 
few words.  "It's up to us to stop them."  

Scott  listened politely as Janis, (who adopted the moniker  from 
his  favorite singer) rewrote history with tortured  explanations 
of  how  the  phone company is the hidden seat  of  the  American 
government,  and how they have been lying to the public for  dec-
ades.  And the Rockefellers are involved too, he assured Scott.  

"They  could declare martial law, today, and take over the  coun-
try.  Those who control the communications control the power," he 
oracled.   "Did  you know," he took Scott  into  his  confidence, 
"that  phones  are always on and they  have  computers  recording 
everything  you  say and do in your own home.   That's  illegal!" 
Janis bellowed.  Not to mention crazy, thought Scott.

One of Janis' associates came over to rescue Scott.  "Sorry, he's 
a  little enthusiastic and has some trouble communicating on  the 
Earthly plane."   Alva, as he called himself, explained coherent-
ly  that with some of the newer security systems in place, it  is 
necessary  to  manipulate  the phone company  switches  to  learn 
system passwords.

"For  example, when we broke into a Bell computer that  used  CI-
CIMS, it was tough to crack.  But now they've added new  security 
that, in itself, is flawless, albeit crackable,"  Alva explained.  
"Once  you get past the passwords, which is trivial,  the  system 
asks you three unique questions about yourself for final  identi-
fication.   Pretty smart, huh?"  Scott agreed with Alva, a  voice 
of  apparent moderation.  "However, we were already in the  phone 
switch computer, so we programmed in forwarding instructions  for 
all  calls that dialed that particular computer.  We then  inter-
cepted  the call and connected it to our computer, where we  emu-
late  the security system, and watched the questions and  answers 
go back and forth.  After a few hours, you have a hundred differ-
ent  passwords to use. There are a dozen other ways to do it,  of 

"Of  course," Scott said sarcastically.  Is nothing sacred?   Not 
in this world it's not.  All's fair in love, war and hacking. 

The time flew as Scott learned what a tightly knitted clique  the 
hackers were.  The ethos 'honor among thieves' held true here  as 
it  did in many adolescent societies, most recently the  American 
Old  West.   As  a group, perhaps even a  subculture,  they  were 
arduously  taming new territory, each with their own vision of  a 
private  digital  homestead.  Each one taking on  the  system  in 
their  own  way, they still needed each other, thus  they  looked 
aside  if  another's techno-social behavior was  personally  dis-
tasteful.  The  Network was big enough for everyone.   A  working 
anarchy  that heralded the standard of John Paul Jones  as  their 
sole commandment: Don't Tread On Me.

He saw tapping devices that allowed the interception of  computer 
data which traveled over phone lines.  Line Monitors and Sniffers 
were commercially available, and legal; equipment that was  nomi-
nally designed to troubleshoot networks. In the hands of a  hack-
er,  though,  it  graduated from being a  tool of  repair  to  an 
offensive weapon.  

Small  hand held radios were capable of listening in to  the  in-
creasingly popular remote RF networks which do not require wires. 
Cellular phone eavesdropping devices permitted the owner to  scan 
and focus on the conversation of his choice.  Scott examined  the 
electronic gear to find a manufacturer's identification.

"Don't  bother,  my friend," said a long haired German  youth  of 
about twenty.

"Excuse me?"

"I see you are looking for marks, yes?"

"Well, yes.  I wanted to see who made these . . ."

"I  make them, he makes them, we all make them," he  said  almost 
giddily.   "This is not available from Radio Shack," he  giggled.  
"Who  needs them from the establishment when they are so easy  to 

Scott  knew  that electronics was indeed a garage  operation  and 
that  many  high  tech initiatives had  begun  in  entrepreneur's 
basements.   The  thought of home  hobbyists  building  equipment 
which  the  military defends against was anathema to  Scott.   He 
merely  shook his head and moved on, thanking the makers  of  the 
eavesdropping machines for their demonstrations.

Over  in a dimly lit corner, dimmer than elsewhere, Scott  saw  a 
number  of people fiddling with an array of computers and  equip-
ment  that  looked surprisingly familiar.  As  he  approached  he 
experienced  an  immediate rush of dja vu.   This was  the  same 
type of equipment that he had seen on the van before it was blown 
up a couple of months ago. Tempest busting, he thought.

The group was speaking in German, but they were more than glad to 
switch to English for Scott's benefit.  They sensed his  interest 
as  he poked around the assorted monitors and antennas  and  test 

"Ah,  you  are interested in Van Eck?" asked one  of  the  German 
hackers.   They  maintained a clean cut appearance,  and  through 
discussion   Scott  learned that they were funded as  part  of  a 
university research project in Frankfurt.  

Scott watched and listened as they set up a compelling demonstra-
tion.   First,  one computer screen displayed a  complex  graphic 
picture.   Several yards away another computer displayed a  foggy 
image  that cleared as one of the students adjusted  the  antenna 
attached to the computer.  

"Aha! Lock!" one of them said, announcing that the second comput-
er would now display everything that the first computer did.  The 
group played with color and black and white graphics, word  proc-
essing  screens  and  spreadsheets.  Each time, in  a  matter  of 
seconds, they 'locked' into the other computer successfully.

Scott  was  duly impressed and asked them why they  were  putting 
effort into such research.  "Very simple," the apparent leader of 
the Frankfurt group said.  "This work is classified in both  your 
country  and  mine, so we do not have access to  the  answers  we 
need.  So, we build our own and now it's no more classified.  You 

"Why do you need it?"

"To  protect against it," they said in near unison.    "The  next 
step is to build efficient methods to fight the Van Eck."

"Doesn't Tempest do that?"

"Tempest?"  the senior student said.  "Ha! It makes the  computer 
weigh a thousand pounds and the monitor hard to read.  There  are 
better  ways  to  defend.  To defend we must first  know  how  to 
attack. That's basic."

"Let  me ask you something," Scott said to the group after  their 
lengthy  demonstration.  "Do you know anything about  electromag-
netic pulses?  Strong ones?"

"Ya.  You mean like from a nuclear bomb?"

"Yes, but smaller and designed to only hurt computers."

"Oh,  ya.   We  have wanted to build one, but it  is  beyond  our 

"Well," Scott said smugly, "someone is building them and  setting 
them off."

"Your  stock exchange.  We thought that the  American  government 
did it to prove they could."

An  hour of ensuing discussion taught Scott that  the  technology 
that  the DoD and the NSA so desperately spent billions  to  keep 
secret and proprietary was in common use.  To most engineers, and 
Scott  could  easily relate, every problem has  an  answer.   The 
challenge  is to accomplish the so-called impossible.  The  engi-
neer's pride.

Jon,  the  Flying Dutchman finally rescued Scott's  stomach  from 
implosion.   "How  about lunch?  A few of the guys want  to  meet 
you.  Give you a heavy dose of propaganda," he threatened. 

"Thank  God! I'm famished and haven't touched the stuff all  day.  
Love to,  it's on me," Scott offered.  He could see Doug having a 
cow.  How could he explain a thousand dollar dinner for a hundred 
hungry hackers? 

"Say that too loud," cautioned the bearded Dutchman, "and  you'll 
have  to buy the restaurant.  Hacking isn't very high on the  pay 

"Be easy on me, I gotta justify lunch for an army to my boss,  or 
worse  yet, the beancounters."  Dutchman didn't catch the  idiom.  
"Never mind, let's keep it to a small regiment, all right?"

He  never figured out how it landed on his shoulders,  but  Scott 
ended  up  with the responsibility of picking  a  restaurant  and 
successfully  guiding the group there. And Dutchman  had  skipped 
out without notifying anyone.  Damned awkward, thought Scott.  He 
assumed control, limited though it was, and led them to the  only 
restaurant he knew, the Sarang Mas.  The group blindly and happi-
ly  followed.   They even let him order the food, so he  did  his 
very  best  to impress them by ordering without  looking  at  the 
menu.   He succeeded, with his savant phonetic memory,  to  order 
exactly  what he had the night prior, but this time he asked  for 
vastly greater portions.

As  they  were  sating their pallets, and commenting  on  what  a 
wonderful  choice  this  restaurant was, Scott  popped  the  same 
question  to  which he had previously been unable  to  receive  a 
concise  answer.  Now that he had met this bunch,  he  would  ask 
again,  and if lucky, someone might respond and actually be  com-

"I've  been asking the same question since I got into this  whole 
hacking  business," Scott said savoring goat parts  and  sounding 
quite nonchalant. "And I've never gotten a straight answer.   Why 
do  you hack?" He asked. "Other than the philosophical  credo  of 
Network is Life, why do you hack?"  Scott looked into their eyes.  
"Or are you just plain nosy?"

"I bloody well am!" said the one called Pinball who spoke with  a 
thick  Liverpudlian  accent.  His jeans were in  tatters,  in  no 
better  shape  than his sneakers.  The short pudgy man  was  mid-
twenty-ish and his tall crewcut was in immediate need of  reshap-

"Nosy?  That's why you hack?" Asked Scott in disbelief.

"Yeah,  that's  it,  mate. It's great fun.  A game  the  size  of 
life."   Pinball  looked at Scott as if to say,  that's  it.   No 
hidden  meaning, it's just fun.  He swallowed more of the  exqui-
site food.  

"Sounds  like whoever dies with the most hacks wins," Scott  said 

"Right. You got it, mate." Pinball never looked up from his  food 
while talking.

Scott scanned his luncheon companions for reaction.  A couple  of 
grunts, no objection.  What an odd assortment, Scott thought.  At 
least  the  Flying Dutchman had been kind enough to  assemble  an 
English speaking group for Scott's benefit.

"We  each  have  our reasons to hack," said the  one  who  called 
himself Che2.  By all appearance Che2 seemed more suited to a BMW 
than a revolutionary cabal.  He was a well bred American, dressed 
casually but expensively.  "We may not agree with each other,  or 
anyone,  but we have an underlying understanding that permits  us 
to cooperate."

"I can tell you why I hack," said the sole German  representative 
at the table who spoke impeccable English with a thick accent  "I 
am  a professional ethicist.  It is people like me who help  gov-
ernments  formulate rules that decide who lives and who  dies  in 
emergency  situations.   The right or wrong of  weapons  of  mass 
destruction.   Ethics  is a social moving target that  must  con-
stantly  be  re-examined  as we as a civilized  people  grow  and 
strive to maintain our innate humanity."

"So  you  equate hacking and ethics, in the same  breath?"  Scott 

"I  certainly  do," said the middle aged German hacker  known  as 
Solon. "I am part of a group that promotes the Hacker Ethic.   It 
is really quite simple, if you would be interested."  Scott urged 
him  to  continue.  "We have before us, as a world,  a  marvelous 
opportunity,  to  create a set of rules, behavior  and  attitudes 
towards  this  magnificent technology that  blossoms  before  our 
eyes.   That law is the Ethic, some call it the Code."  Kirk  had 
called it the Code, too.  

"The Code is quite a crock," interrupted a tall slender man  with  
disheveled  white  hair who spoke with an upper  crust,  ever  so 
proper   British accent.  "Unless everybody follows it, from A to 
Zed,  it simply won't work.  There can be no exceptions.   Other-
wise my friends, we will find ourselves in a technological   Lord 
of the Flies."

"Ah, but that is already happening," said a gentleman in his mid- 
fifties,  who also sported a full beard, bushy mustache and  long 
well kept salt and pepper hair to his shoulders.  "We are already 
well on the road to a date with Silicon Armageddon.  We didn't do 
it  with the Bomb, but it looks like we're sure as hell gonna  do 
it  with  technology for the masses.  In  this  case  computers."  
Going only by 'Dave', he was a Philosophy Professor at  Stanford.  
In  many ways he spoke like the early Timothy Leary, using  tech-
nology  instead of drugs as a mental catalyst.  Scott  though  of 
Dave as the futurist in the group.  

"He's  right. It is happening, right now.  Long Live the  Revolu-
tion," shouted Che2.  "Hacking keeps our personal freedoms alive.  
I know I'd much prefer everyone knowing my most intimate  secrets 
than have the government and TRW and the FBI and the CIA  control 
it and use only pieces of it for their greed-sucking reasons.  No 
way.   I want everyone to have the tools to get into the  Govern-
ment's Big Brother computer system and make the changes they  see 

Scott  listened as his one comment spawned a heated and  animated 
discussion.   He  wouldn't  break in unless  they  went  too  far 
afield, wherever that was, or he simply wanted to join in on  the 

"How can you support freedom without responsibility?  You contra-
dict yourself by ignoring the Code."  Solon made his comment with 
Teutonic matter of factness in between mouthfuls. 

"It is the most responsible thing we can do," retorted Che2.  "It 
is our moral duty, our responsibility to the world to protect our 
privacy,  our rights, before they are stripped away as they  have 
been since the Republicans bounced in, but not out, over a decade 
ago."  He turned in his chair and glared at Scott.  Maybe  thirty 
years  old, Che2 was mostly bald with great bushes of curly  dark 
brown  hair encircling his head. The lack of hair emphasized  his 
large  forehead  which stood over his deeply  inset  eyes.   Che2 
called  the  Boston  area his home but  his  cosmopolitan  accent 
belied his background. 

The proper British man known as Doctor Doctor, DRDR on the BBS's, 
was  over six foot five with an unruly frock of thick white  hair 
which  framed  his ruddy pale face.  "I do beg your  pardon,  but 
this  so  violates the tenets of civilized behavior.   What  this 
gentleman  proposes  is the philosophical  antithesis  of  common 
sense  and rationality.  I suggest we consider the position  that 
each of us in actual fact is working for the establishment, if  I 
may  use  such a politically pass descriptor."   DRDR's  comment 
hushed  the table.  He continued.  "Is it not true that  security 
is being installed as a result of many of our activities?"  

Several nods of agreement preceded a small voice coming from  the 
far  end  of the table.  "If you want to call  it  security."   A 
small pre-adolescent spoke in a high pitched whine. 

"What do you mean . . .I'm sorry, I don't know what to call you," 
asked Scott.

"GWhiz.  The security is a toy."

GWhiz spoke unpretentiously about how incredibly simple it is  to 
crack any security system.  He maintained that there are theoret-
ical methods to crack into any, and he emphasized any,  computer.  
"It's impossible to protect a computer 100%.  Can't be done.   So 
that  means  that every computer is crackable."   He  offered  to 
explain  the  math  to Scott who politely  feigned  ignorance  of 
decimal  points.   "In   short, I, or anyone, can  get  into  any 
computer they want.  There is always a way."

"Isn't  that a scary thought?" Scott asked to no one in  particu-

Scott  learned from the others that GWhiz was a 16 year old  high 
school junior from Phoenix, Arizona.  He measured on the high-end 
of  the genius scale, joined Mensa at 4 and already had  in  hand 
scholarships  from Westinghouse,  Mellon, CalTech, MIT,  Stanford 
to name a few.  At the tender age of 7 he started programming and 
was now fluent in eleven computer languages.  GWhiz was  regarded 
with an intellectual awe from hackers for his theoretical  analy-
ses  that  he had turned into hacking tools.  He  was  a  walking 
encyclopedia of methods and techniques to both protect and attack 
computers.   To GWhiz, straddling the political fence  by  arming 
both  sides  with the same weapons was a logical  choice.   Scott 
viewed  it as a high tech MAD - Mutual Assured Destruction,  com-
puter wise. 

"Don't  you see," said the British DRDR, continuing as  if  there 
had  been  no interruption.  "The media portrays us  as  security 
breaking phreaks, and that's exactly what we are.  And that works 
for the establishment as well.  We keep the designers and securi-
ty people honest by testing their systems for free.  What a great 
deal,  don't  you think?  We, the hackers of the world,  are  the 
Good Housekeeping Seal of security systems by virtue of the  fact 
that  either we can or we cannot penetrate them.  If  that's  not 
working for the system, I don't know what is."

"DRDR's  heading down the right path,"  Dave the  futurist  spoke 
up.  "Even though he does work for GCHQ."

"GCHQ?" Scott asked quickly.

"The English version of your NSA," said Pinball, still  engrossed 
in his food.

"I do not!"  protested DRDR.  "Besides, what difference would  it 
make if I did?" He asked more defensively. 

"None,  none  at  all," agreed Dave.  "The effect  is  the  same.  
However, if you are an MI-5 or MI-6 or whatever, that would  show 
a  great  deal  of unanticipated foresight on the  part  of  your 
government.   I wish ours would think farther ahead than  today's 
headlines.  I have found that people everywhere in the world  see 
the problem as one of hackers, rather than the fundamental issues 
that are at stake.  We hackers are manifestations of the problems 
that  technology  has bequeathed us.  If any of  our  governments 
were  actually  responsive enough to listen, they  would  have  a 
great  deal  of  concern for  the  emerging  infrastructure  that 
doesn't  have a leader.  Now, I'm not taking a side on this  one, 
but  I am saying that if I were the government, I would  sure  as 
all hell want to know what was going on in the trenches. The U.S. 

Everyone seemed to agree with that.  

"But they're too caught up in their own meaningless self-sustain-
ing parasitic lives to realize that a new world is shaping around 
them."   When Che2 spoke, he spoke his mind, leaving no doubt  as 
to how he felt.  "They don't have the smarts to get involved  and 
see  it first hand.  Which is fine by me, because, as you  said," 
he  said  pointing at DRDR, "it doesn't  matter.   They  wouldn't 
listen  to  him anyway.  It gives us more time to  build  in  de-

"Defenses against what?" asked Scott.

"Against them, of course," responded Che2.  "The fascist military 
industrial  establishment keeps us under a  microscope.   They're 
scared  of  us.  They have spent tens of billions of  dollars  to 
construct  huge computers,  built into the insides of  mountains, 
protected from nuclear attack. In them are data bases about  you, 
and me, and him and hundreds of millions of others.  There are  a 
lot  of  these systems, IRS, the Census Department has  one,  the 
FBI,  the DIA, the CIA, the NSA, the OBM, I can go  on."   Che2's 
voice crescendo'd and he got more demonstrative as the importance 
he  attributed to each subject increased.  "These computers  con-
tain the most private information about us all.  I for one,  want 
to  prevent them from ever using that information against  me  or 
letting others get at it either.  Unlike those who feel that  the 
Bill  of  Rights should be re-interpreted and re-shaped  and  re-
packaged  to feed their power frenzy, I say it's worked  for  200 
years and I don't want to fix something if it ain't broke."

"One  needs to weigh the consequences of breaking and entering  a 
computer, assay the purpose, evaluate the goal against the possi-
ble negatives before wildly embarking through a foreign computer.  
That  is  what we mean by the Code."  Solon  spoke  English  with 
Teutonic  precision and a mild lilt that gave his accented  words 
additional credibility.  He sounded like an expert.  "I  believe, 
quite  strongly,  that it is not so complicated to have  a  major 
portion of the hacker community live by the Code.  Unless you are 
intent on damage, no one should have any trouble with the  simple 
Credo,  'leave  things  as you found them'.  You  see,  there  is 
nothing  wrong  with breaking security as long as  you're  accom-
plishing something useful."

"Hold on," interrupted Scott.  "Am I hearing this right?   You're 
saying  that it's all right to break into a computer as  long  as 
you  don't  do any damage, and put everything  right  before  you 

"That's  about  it.  It is so simple, yet so  blanketing  in  its 
ramifications.  The beauty of the Code, if everyone lived by  it, 
would  be  a maximization of computer resources.   Now,  that  is 
good for everyone."

"Wait,  I can't stand this, wait," said Scott holding  his  hands 
over  his head in surrender.  He elicited a laugh  from  everyone 
but Che2.  "That's like saying, it's O.K. for you to come into my 
house when I'm not there, use the house, wash the dishes, do  the 
laundry,  sweep up and split.  I have a real problem  with  that.  
That's  an invasion of my privacy and I would  personally  resent 
the shit out of it."  Scott tried this line of reasoning again as 
he had with Kirk.

"Just  the point," said DRDR.  "When someone breaks into a  house 
it's a civil case.  But this new bloody Computer Misuse Act makes 
it a felony to enter a computer.  Parliament isn't 100% perfect," 
he added comically.  DRDR referred to the recent British attempts 
at legislative guidelines to criminalize certain computer activi-

"As  you  should resent it."  Dave jumped in speaking  to  Scott.  
"But there's a higher purpose here.  You resent your house  being 
used  by  an uninvited guest in your absence. Right?"   Scott  a-
greed.   "Well,  let's  say that you are going to  Hawaii  for  a 
couple  of weeks, and someone discovers that your house is  going 
to be robbed while you're gone.  So instead of bothering you,  he 
house  sits.   Your house doesn't get robbed,  you  return,  find 
nothing amiss, totally unaware of your visitor.  Would you rather 
get robbed instead?"

"Well,  I  certainly don't want to get robbed, but . . .  I  know 
what  it  is.  I'm out of control and my privacy is  still  being 
violated.  I don't know if I have a quick answer."  Scott  looked 
and sounded perplexed.

"Goot!   You should not have a quick answer, for that  answer  is 
the core, the essence of the ultimate problem that we all  inves-
tigate every day." Solon gestured to their table of seven.  "That 
question is security versus freedom.  Within the world of  acade-
mia there is a strong tendency to share everything.  Your  ideas, 
your thoughts, your successes and failures, the germs of an  idea 
thrown away and the migration of a brainstorm into the  tangible.  
They  therefore desire complete freedom of information  exchange, 
they  do not wish any restrictions on their freedom to  interact.  
However,  the  Governments of the world want to isolate  and  re-
strict  access  to information; right or  wrong,  we  acknowledge 
their  concern.   That is the other side, security  with  minimal 
freedom.   The  banks also prefer security to  freedom,  although 
they  do it very poorly and give it a lot, how do you say, a  lot 
of lip service?" 

Everyone agreed that describing a bank's security as lip  service 
was entirely too complimentary, but for the sake of brevity  they 
let it go uncontested.

"Then again, business hasn't made up  its mind as to whether they 
should  bother protecting information assets or not.   So,  there 
are  now four groups with different needs and desires which  vary 
the  ratio of freedom to security.  In reality, of course,  there 
will  be hundreds of opinions," Solon added for accuracy's  sake.  
"Mathematically,  if there is no security, dividing by 0  results 
in  infinite  freedom.  Any security at all and some  freedom  is 
curtailed.   So, therein the problem to be solved.  At what  cost 
freedom?   It is an age old question that every  generation  must 
ask,  weigh and decide for itself.  This generation will  do  the 
same for information and freedom.  They are inseparable."

Scott  soaked in the words and wanted to think about them  later, 
at  his  leisure.   The erudite positions taken  by  hackers  was 
astonishing  compared to what he had expected.  Yes, some of  the 
goals  and  convictions were radical to say the  least,  but  the 
arguments were persuasive. 

"Let  me ask you," Scott said to the group.  "What  happens  when 
computers are secure?  What will you do then?"

"They  won't get secure," GWhiz said.  "As soon as they  come  up 
with a defense, we will find a way around it."

"Won't that cycle ever end?"

"Technology  is  in  the hands of the  people,"  commented  Che2.  
"This is the first time in history when the power is not  concen-
trated  with  a  select few.  The ancients kept  the  secrets  of 
writing  with their religious leaders;  traveling by ship in  the 
open  sea was a hard learned and noble skill.  Today, weapons  of 
mass  destruction  are  controlled by a few mad men  who  are  no 
better than you or I.  But now, computers, access to information, 
that power will never be taken away.  Never!"

"It  doesn't  matter."  Dave was viewing the future  in  his  own 
mind.  "I doubt that computers will ever be secure, but  instead, 
the barrier, the wall, the time and energy it takes to crack into 
them  will  become prohibitive for all but the  most  determined.  
Anyway, there'll be new technology to explore."

"Like what?" Asked Scott.

"Satellites are pretty interesting.  They are a natural extension 
of the computer network, and cracking them will be lots easier in 
a couple of years."  DRDR saw understanding any new technology as 
apersonal challenge.

"How do you crack a satellite?  What's there to crack?"

"How  about  beaming your own broadcasts to  millions  of  people 
using  someone  else's satellite?" DRDR speculated.   "It's  been 
done before, and as the equipment gets cheaper, I can assure  you 
that  we'll  be seeing many more political  statements  illegally 
being  made over the public airwaves.  The BBC and NBC will  have 
their  hands full.   In the near future, I see virtual  realities 
as an ideal milieu for next generation hackers."

"I agree," said Solon.  "And with virtual realities, the  ethical 
issues are even more profound than with the Global Network."

Scott  held  up  his hands.  "I know what _I_ think  it  is,  but 
before you go on, I need to know how you define a virtual  reali-
ty."  The hackers looked at each until Dave took the ball.

"A  virtual reality is fooling the mind and body  into  believing 
something  is  real that isn't real."  Scott's  face  was  blank.  
"Ever  been  to Disneyland?"  Dave asked.   Scott  nodded.   "And 
you've ridden Star Tours?"  Scott nodded again.  "Well, that's  a 
simple virtual reality.  Star Tours fools your body into thinking 
that you are in a space ship careening through an asteroid  belt, 
but  in  reality,  you are suspended on a few  guy  wires.    The 
projected image reinforces the sensory hallucination."

"Now  imagine a visual field, currently it's done  with  goggles, 
that creates real life pictures, in real time and interacts  with 
your movements."

Scott's light bulb went off.  "That's like the Holo-Deck on  Star 

"That is the ultimate in virtual reality, yes.  But before we can 
achieve  that, imagine sitting in a virtual cockpit of a  virtual 
car, and seeing exactly what you would see from a race car at the 
Indy  500. The crowds, the noises, and just as  importantly,  the 
feel of the car you are driving.  As you drive, you shift and the 
car  reacts,  you feel the car react.  You  actually  follow  the 
track  in  the path that you steer.  The  combination  of  sight, 
sound  and  hearing, even smell, creates a  total  illusion.   In 
short,  there is no way to distinguish between reality and  delu-

"Flight simulators for the people," chimed in Che2.

"I  see  the  day when every Mall in America  will  have  Virtual 
Reality  Parlors where you can live out your fantasies.  No  more 
than 5 years," Dave confidently prognosticated.

Scott  imagined the Spook's interpretation of virtual  realities.  
He  immediately conjured up the memory of Woody Allen's  Orgasma-
tron  in  the movie Sleeper.  The hackers claimed  that  computer 
generated sex was less than ten years away.

"And  that  will be an ideal terrain for hackers.  That  kind  of 
power over the mind can be used for terrible things, and it  will 
be  up to us to make sure it's not abused."  Che2 maintained  his 
position of guardian of world freedom. 

As  they  finished  their lunch and Scott paid  the  check,  they 
thanked  him vigorously for the treat.  They might be  nuts,  but 
they were polite, and genuine. 

"I'm  confused  about  one thing," Scott said as  they  left  the 
restaurant  and walked the wide boulevard.  "You all advocate  an 
independence,  an anarchy where the individual is paramount,  and 
the  Government  is worse than a necessary evil.   Yet  I  detect 
disorganization, no plan; more like a leaf in a lake, not knowing 
where  it  will go next."  There were no disagreements  with  his 
summary assessment.

"Don't  any of you work together?  As a group, a kind of a  gang?  
It  seems to me that if there was an agenda, a program, that  you 
might achieve your aims more quickly."  Scott was trying to avoid 
being critical by his inquisitiveness. 

"Then we would be a government, too, and that's not what we want.  
This  is about individual power, responsibility.  At any rate,  I 
don't  think  you  could find two of us in  enough  agreement  on 
anything  to   build a platform."  As usual, Solon  maintained  a 
pragmatic approach.  

"Well," Scott mused out loud. "What would happen if a group, like 
you,  got  together and followed a game plan.  Built  a  hacker's 
guide  book  and  stuck to it, all for a common  cause,  which  I 
realize  is  impossible.   But for argument's  sake,  what  would 

"That would be immense power," said Che2.  "If there were enough, 
they could do pretty much what they wanted.  Very political."

"I  would see it as dangerous, potentially very dangerous,"  com-
mented DRDR.  He pondered the question.  "The effects of  synergy 
in  any endeavor are unpredictable.  If they worked as  group,  a 
unit,  it is possible that they would be a force to  be  reckoned 

"There  would be only one word for it," Dave said with  finality.  
"They  could easily become a strong and deadly opponent if  their 
aims are not benevolent.  Personally, I would have to call such a 
group, terrorists."

"Sounds like the Freedom League," Pinball said off handedly.

Scott's  head  jerked toward Pinball.  "What  about  the  Freedom 
League?" he asked pointedly. 

"All I said is that this political hacking sounds like the  Free-
dom  League,"  Pinball said innocently.  "They bloody well go  on 
for  a fortnight and a day about how software should be  free  to 
anyone  that  needs it, and that only those that  can  afford  it 
should pay.  Like big corporations."

"I've heard of Freedom before," piped Scott.

"The  Freedom League is a huge BBS, mate.  They have hundreds  of 
local BBS's around the States, and even a few across the pond  in 
God's country.  Quite an operation, if I say."

Pinball  had  Scott's full attention.  "They run the  BBS's,  and 
have an incredible shareware library.  Thousands of programs, and 
they give them all away."

"It's very impressive," Dave said giving credit where credit  was 
due.   "They  prove that software can  be  socially  responsible.  
We've been saying that for years."

"What  does anybody know about this Freedom League?" Scott  asked 

"What's  to  know?  They've been around for years, have  a  great 
service, fabulous BBS's, and reliable software."

"It  just sounds too good to be true,"  Scott mused as they  made 
it back to the warehouse for more hours of education.

* * * * *

Until  late that night, Scott continued to elicit viewpoints  and 
opinions  and  political positions from the  radical  underground 
elements of the 1990's he had traveled 3000 miles to meet.   Each 
encounter, each discussion, each conversation yielded yet another 
perspective  on the social rational for hacking and the  invasion 
of privacy.    Most everyone at the InterGalactic Hackers Confer-
ence  had heard about Scott, the Repo Man,  and knew why  he  was 
there.   He was accepted as a fair and impartial  observer,  thus 
many  of them made a concerted effort to preach their  particular 
case to him. By midnight, overload had consumed Scott and he made 
a polite exit, promising to return the following day.  

Still, no one had heard from or seen the Spook.  

Scott walked back to his hotel through the Red Light District and 
stopped to purchase a souvenir or two.  The sexually explicit  T- 
Shirts  would have both made Larry Flynt blush and be  banned  on 
Florida beaches, but the counterfeit $1 bills, with George  Wash-
ington  and the pyramid replaced by closeups of  impossible  oral 
sexual acts was a compelling gift.  They were so well made,  that 
without  a close inspection, the pornographic money could  easily 
find itself in the till at a church bake sale.

There  was  a message waiting for Scott when he  arrived  at  the 
Eureka!    It was from Tyrone and marked urgent.  New York was  6 
hours  behind,  so hopefully Ty was at home.   Scott  dialed  USA 
Connect,  the  service that allows travelers to get  to  an  AT&T 
operator rather than fight the local phone system.

"Make it good."  Tyrone answered his home phone.

"Hey, guy.  You rang?"  Scott said cheerily.  

"Shit,  it's about time.  Where the hell have you been?"   Tyrone 
whispered  as  loud as he could.  It was obvious he  didn't  want 
anyone  on  his end hearing.  "You can thank your  secretary  for 
telling me where you were staying."  Tyrone spoke quickly.

"I'll give her a raise," lied Scott. He didn't have a  secretary.  
The paper used a pool for all the reporters.  "What's the panic?"

"Then  you  don't know."  Tyrone caught himself. "Of  course  you 
didn't hear, how could you?"

"How could I hear what?"

"The shit has done hit the fan," Tyrone said drawling his  words.  
"Two  more  EMP-T bombs.  The Atlanta regional IRS office  and  a 
payroll  service in New Jersey.  A quarter million  folks  aren't 
getting paid tomorrow.  And I'll tell you, these folks is  mighty 
pissed off."

"Christ," Scott said, mentally chastising himself for not  having 
been where the action was. 

What lousy timing.

"So  dig  this.   Did you know that the Senate  was  having  open 
subcommittee hearings on Privacy and Technology Protection?"


"Neither do a lot of people.  It's been a completely  underplayed 
and underpromoted effort.  Until yesterday that is.  Now the eyes 
of millions are watching. Starting tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Scott yelled across the Atlantic. "That's the eighth. 
Congress doesn't usually convene until late January . . ."

"Used  to," Ty said.  "The Constitution says that Congress  shall 
meet  on January third, after the holidays.  Since the  Gulf  War 
Congress  has  returned in the first week.  'Bout time  they  did 
something for their paychecks."

"Damn," Scott thought out loud. 

"I knew that would excite you," Tyrone said sarcastically.   "And 
there's more.  Congressman Rickfield, you know who he is?"  asked 

"Yeah, sure.  Long timer on the Hill.  Got as many enemies as  he 
does  friends.   Wields an immense amount of  power,"  Scott  re-

"Right, exactly.  And that little weasel is the chair."

"I guess you're not on his Christmas list," Scott observed.

"I  really  doubt it," Tyrone said. "But that's off  the  record.  
He's  been  a Southern racist from day one, a  real  Hoover  man.  
During the riots, in the early '60's, he was not exactly a propo-
nent of civil rights.  In fact that slime ball made Wallace  look 
like Martin Luther King."  Tyrone sounded bitter and derisive  in 
his  description  of Rickfield.  "He has no  concept  what  civil 
rights  are.  He makes it a black white issue instead of  one  of 
constitutional  law.   Stupid bigots are the  worst  kind."   The 
derision in Ty's voice was unmistakable.  

"Sounds like you're a big fan."

"I'll  be  a  fan when he hangs high.  Besides  my  personal  and 
racial beliefs about Rickfield, he really is a low life.  He, and 
a  few of his cronies are one on the biggest threats to  personal 
freedom  the  country faces.  He thinks that the Bill  of  Rights 
should be edited from time to time and now's the time.  He scares 
me.  Especially since there's more like him."

It  was eminently clear that Tyrone Duncan had no place  in  this 
life for Merrill Rickfield.

"I know enough about him to dislike him, but on a crowded  subway 
he'd just be another ugly face.  Excuse my ignorance . . ."  Then 
it hit him.  Rickfield.  His name had been in those papers he had 
received  so long ago.  What had he done, or what was he  accused 
of doing?  Damn, damn, what is it?  There were so many.  Yes,  it 
was Rickfield, but what was the tie-in?

"I think you should be there, at the hearings," Tyrone suggested.

"Tomorrow?   Are  you out of your mind?  No  way,"  Scott  loudly 
protested.  "I'm 3000 miles and 8 hours away and it's the  middle 
of the night here,"  Scott bitched and moaned.  "Besides, I  only 
have  to  work  one  more  day and then  I  get  the  weekend  to 
myself . . . aw, shit."

Tyrone ignored Scott's infantile objections.  He attributed  them 
to  jet lag and an understandable urge to stay in Sin City for  a 
couple  more  days.  "Hollister and Adams will be  there,  and  a 
whole bunch of white shirts in black hats, and Troubleaux . . ."

"Troubleaux did you say?"

"Yeah, that's what it says here . . ."

"If he's there, then it becomes my concern, too."

"Good,  glad you thought of it," joked Tyrone.  "If you catch  an 
early  flight,  you  could be in D.C. by noon."   He  was  right, 
thought  Scott.  The time difference works in your favor in  that 

"You  know,"  said Scott, "with what I've found out  here,  today 
alone, maybe. "Jeeeeeesus," Scott said cringing in indecision.  

"Hey!  Get  your ass back here, boy. Pronto."  Tyrone's  friendly 
authority was persuasive.  "You know you don't have any  choice."  
The guilt trip.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah."

Scott  called  his office and asked for Doug.  He got  the  voice 
mail  instead,  and debated about calling him at  home.  Nah,  He 
thought,  I'll  just  leave a message.  This way  I'll  just  get 
yelled at once. 

"Hi, Doug? Scott here.  Change in plans.  Heard about EMP-T.  I'm 
headed  to Washington tomorrow.  The story here is better than  I 
thought  and dovetails right into why I'm coming back  early.   I 
expect  to be in D.C. until next Tuesday, maybe  Wednesday.  I'll 
call when I have a place. Oh, yeah, I learned a limerick here you 
might  like.  The Spook says the kids around here say it all  the 
time.   'Mary  had a little lamb, its fleece was white  as  snow.  
And  everywhere  that  Mary went, the lamb was sure  to  go.   It 
followed  her to school one day and a big black dog  fucked  it.'  
That's Amsterdam.  Bye."


                              Chapter 20

     Friday, January 8
     Washington, D.C.

The New Senate Office Building is a moderately impressive  struc-
ture  on  the edge of one of the worst  sections  of  Washington.  
Visitors  find it a perpetual paradox that the power seat of  the 
Western  World  is located within a virtual shooting  gallery  of 
drugs  and weapons.  Scott arrived at the NSOB near the  capitol, 
just before lunchtime.  His press identification got him  instant 
access  to  the hearing room and into  the  privileged  locations 
where  the media congregated.  The hearings were in progress  and 
as solemn as he remembered other hearings broadcast on late night 

He caught the last words of wisdom from a government employee who 
worked for NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technol-
ogy.   The agency was formerly known as NBS, National  Bureau  of 
Standards, and no one could adequately explain the change.

The  NIST employee droned on about how seriously the  government, 
and more specifically, his agency cared about privacy and  infor-
mation  security, and that ". . .the government was doing all  it 
could  to provide the requisite amount of  security  commensurate 
with  the  perceived risk of disclosure and  sensitivity  of  the 
information  in  question."  Scott ran into a  couple  of  fellow 
reporters  who told him he was lucky to show up late.  All  morn-
ing, the government paraded witnesses to read prepared statements 
about how they were protecting the interests of the Government. 

It was an intensive lobbying effort, they told Scott, to shore up 
whatever  attacks might be made on the  government's  inefficient 
bungling in distinction to its efficient bungling.  To a man, the 
witnesses  assured the Senate committee that they were  committed 
to guaranteeing privacy of information and unconvincingly  assur-
ing  them that only appropriate authorized people have access  to 
sensitive and classified data.  

Seven  sequential propagandized statements went  unchallenged  by 
the  three senior committee members throughout the  morning,  and 
Senator  Rickfield went out of his way to thank the speakers  for 
their  time, adding that he was personally convinced the  Govern-
ment  was indeed doing more than necessary to obviate  such  con-

The  underadvertised Senate Select Sub Committee on  Privacy  and 
Technology  Protection  convened in Hearing Room 3 on the  second 
floor  of the NSOB.  About 400 could be accommodated in the  huge 
light wood paneled room on both the main floor and in the balcony 
that wrapped around half of the room.  The starkness of the  room 
was emphasized by the glare of arc and fluorescent lighting.

Scott  found an empty seat on a wooden bench directly behind  the 
tables from which the witnesses would speak to the raised  wooden 
dais.  He noticed that the attendance was extraordinarily low; by 
both the public and the press.  Probably due to the total lack of 

As  the session broke for lunch, Scott asked why the TV  cameras?  
He  thought  this hearing was a deep dark secret.   A  couple  of 
fellow journalists agreed, and the only reason they had found out 
about the Rickfield hearings was because the CNN producer  called 
them asking if they knew anything about them.  Apparently,  Scott 
was told, CNN received an anonymous call, urging them to be  part 
of  a  blockbuster  announcement.  When  CNN  called  Rickfield's 
office,  his  staffers told CNN that there was no big  deal,  and 
that they shouldn't waste their time.  In the news business, that 
kind  of  statement from a Congressional power broker is  a  sure 
sign that it is worth being there.  Just in case. So CNN assigned 
a novice producer and a small crew to the first day of the  hear-
ings.  As promised, the morning session was an exercise in termi-
nal boredom. 

The afternoon session was to begin at 1:30, but Senator Rickfield 
was  nowhere  to be found, so the Assistant  Chairperson  of  the 
committee, Junior Senator Nancy Deere assumed control.  She was a 
44  year  old grandmother of two from New England who  had  never 
considered  entering  politics.  Nancy Deere was  the  consummate 
wife,  supporter and stalwart of her husband Morgan Deere, an  up 
and  coming  national politician who had the  unique  mixture  of 
honesty,  appeal  and potential. She had spent full time  on  the 
campaign trail with Morgan as he attempted to make the transition 
from  state  politics to Washington.  Morgan  Deere  was  heavily 
favored  to  win after the three term incumbent was named  a  co-
conspirator  in the rigging of a Defense contract.   Despite  the 
pending  indictments, the race continued with constant  pleadings 
by  the  incumbent that the trumped up charges would  shortly  be 
dismissed.  In the first week after the Grand Jury was  convened, 
the  voter  polls  indicated that Deere led with  a  70%  support 

Then  came  the accident.  On his way home from  a  fund  raising 
dinner,  Morgan Deere's limousine was run off an icy winter  road 
by a drunk driver.  Deere's resulting injuries made it impossible 
for  him to continue the campaign or even be sure that  he  would 
ever be able to regain enough strength to withstand the brutality 
of Washington politics.

Within  days of the accident, Deere's campaign manager  announced 
that  Nancy  Deere would replace her husband.   Due  to  Morgan's 
local  popularity, and the fact that the state was so small  that 
everyone  knew everyone else's business, and that  the  incumbent 
was  going  to jail, and that the elections were  less  than  two 
weeks away, there was barely a spike in the projections.  No  one 
seemed  to care that Nancy Deere had no experience  in  politics; 
they just liked her.

What remained of the campaign was run on her part with impeccable 
style.   Unlike her opponent who spent vast sums to besmirch  her 
on  television,  Nancy's campaign was largely waged on  news  and 
national  talk shows.  Her husband was popular, as was  she,  and 
the general interest in her as a woman outweighed the interest in 
her  politics.  The state's constituency overwhelmingly  endorsed 
her  with  their votes and Senator Nancy Deere, one  of  the  few 
woman ever to reach that level as an elected official, was on her 
way to Washington.

Nancy  Deere  found  that many of  the  professional  politicians 
preferred to ignore her; they were convinced she was bound to  be 
a one termer once the GOP got someone to run against her.  Others 
found  her  to  be a genuine pain in the butt.  Not  due  to  her 
naivete, far from that, she adeptly acclimated to the culture and 
the system.  Rather, she was a woman and she broke the rules. She 
said what she felt; she echoed the sentiments of her constituency 
which  were  largely unpopular politically.  Nancy  Deere  didn't 
care  what official Washington thought; her state was behind  her 
with  an almost unanimous approval and it was her sworn  duty  to 
represent them honestly and without compromise.  She had  nothing 
to lose by being herself.  After  more than a year in Washington, 
she  learned how the massive Washington machinery functioned  and 
why it crawled with a hurry up and wait engine. 

In Rickfield's absence, at 1:40 P.M., Senator Nancy Deere  called 
the  session to order.  Her administrative demeanor gave  no  one 
pause  to question her authority.  Even the other  sole  Congres-
sional  representative  on  the  sub-committee  fell  into  step.   
While  Senator Stanley Paglusi technically had seniority, he  sat 
on  the  committee at Rickfield's request and  held  no  specific 
interest  in  the  subject matter they  were  investigating.   He 
accepted  the  seat to mollify Rickfield and to add  to  his  own 
political resume.

"Come  to  order,  please," she announced over  the  ample  sound 
system.   The  voluminous hearing room reacted  promptly  to  the 
authoritative  command that issued forth from the  petite  auburn 
haired  Nancy Deere who would have been just as comfortable  auc-
tioning donated goods at her church.  She noticed that unlike the 
morning session, the afternoon session was packed. The press pool 
was  nearly full and several people were forced to  stand.   What 
had changed, she asked herself.

After  the  procedural  formalities  were  completed,  she  again 
thanked those who had spoken to the committee in the morning, and 
then  promised an equally informative afternoon.  Nancy,  as  she 
liked to be called on all but the most formal of occasions intro-
duced the committee's first afternoon witness.

"Our  next speaker is Ted Hammacher, a recognized expert  on  the 
subject  of computer and information security.  During  17  years 
with the Government, Mr. Hammacher worked with the Defense Inves-
tigatory  Agency and the National Security Agency as a DoD  liai-
son.   He is currently a security consultant to industry and  the 
government  and  is  the author of hundreds of  articles  on  the 
subject."   As  was required, Nancy  Deere  outlined  Hammacher's 
qualifications  as  an expert, and then invited him to  give  his 
opening statement. 

The  television in Rickfield's office was tuned to  C-SPAN  which 
was broadcasting the hearings as he spoke into the phone.

"Only  a  couple more and then I'm off to spend my  days  in  the 
company  of  luscious  maidens on the island of  my  choice,"  he 
bragged  into  the phone.  The Senator listened intently  to  the 
response.   "Yes, I am aware of that, but it doesn't  change  the 
fact  that I'm calling it quits.  I cannot, I will not,  continue 
this  charade."  He listened quietly for several  minutes  before 

"Listen,  General,  we've both made enough money to  keep  us  in 
style  for the rest of our lives, and I will not jeopardize  that 
for anything.  Got it?"  Again he listened.  "I don't know  about 
you, but I do not relish the idea of doing ten to twenty  regard-
less of how much of a country club the prison is.  It is still  a 
prison."  He listened further.

"That's  it, I've had it!  Don't make me use that file to  impli-
cate you, the guys over at State and our Import . . .hey!"  Rick-
field turned to Ken Boyers.  "Who started the afternoon session?"  
He pointed at the TV.

"It looks like Senator Deere," Ken said.

"Deere? Where does that goddamned bitch get off . . ?"  He remem-
bered the phone.  "General?  I have to go, I've got a suffragette 
usurping a little power, and I have to put her back in her place. 
You understand.  But, on that other matter, I'm out. Done.  Fini-
to.   Do what you want, but keep me the fuck out of  it."   Rick-
field hung up abruptly and stared at the broadcast.  "Some house-
broken  homemaker is not going to make me look bad.  Goddamn  it, 
Ken," Rickfield said as he stood up quickly.  "Let's get back out 

"Thank  you, Senator Deere, and committee members.  I am  honored 
to have a chance to speak to you here today.  As a preface to  my 
remarks,  I  think that a brief history of security  and  privacy 
from a government perspective may be in order. One of the reasons 
we are here today is due to a succession of events that since the 
introduction  of the computer have shaped an ad hoc anarchism,  a 
laissez-faire attitude toward privacy and security.  Rather  than 
a comprehensive national policy, despite the valiant efforts of a 
few  able Congressmen, the United States of America  has  allowed 
itself to be lulled into technical complacency and  indifference.  
Therefore,  I  will,  if the committee agrees,  provide  a  brief 
chronological record."

"I  for one would be most interested," said Senator  Deere.   "It 
appeared  that  this morning our speakers assumed  we  were  more 
knowledgeable  that  we are.   Any clarifications  will  be  most 
welcome."   The crowd agreed silently.  Much of the  history  was 
cloaked in secrecy. 

The  distinguished  Ted  Hammacher was  an  accomplished  orator, 
utilizing the best that Washington diplomatic-speak could muster.  
At  50  years old, his short cropped white hair capped  a  proper 
military bearing even though he had maintained a civilian  status 
throughout   his   Pentagon  associations.   "Thank   you   madam 
chairman."   He  glanced down at the well  organized  folder  and 
turned a page.

"Concerns  of privacy can be traced back thousands of years  with 
perhaps  the Egyptian pyramids as the first classic example of  a 
brute  force  approach towards privacy.  The first  recorded  at-
tempts  at disguising the contents of a written message  were  in 
Roman  times when Julius Caesar encoded messages to his  generals 
in the field.  The Romans used a simple substitution cipher where 
one  letter  in the alphabet is used in place  of  another.   The 
cryptograms  found in the Sunday paper use the  same  techniques.  
Any  method by which a the contents of a message is scrambled  is 
known as encryption."

The  CNN producer maintained the sole camera shot and his  atten-
tion  on Ted Hammacher.  He missed Senator Rickfield and his  aid 
reappear  on the dais.  Rickfield's eyes penetrated  Nancy  Deere 
who imperceptibly acknowledged his return. "You should not  over-
step  your bounds," Rickfield leaned over and said to her.   "You 
have  five years to go. Stunts like this will not make your  time 
any easier."

"Senator,"  she  said to Rickfield as Hammacher spoke.  "You  are 
obviously not familiar with the procedures of Senate panel proto-
col.  I was merely trying to assist the progress of the  hearings 
in  your absence, I assure you."   Her coolness infuriated  Rick-

"Well,  then,  thank you," he sneered. "But, now, I am  back.   I 
will  appreciate no further procedural interference."  He sat  up 
brusquely  indicating that his was the last word on the  subject.  
Unaware  of the political sidebar in progress, Hammacher  contin-

"Ciphers  were  evolved over the centuries until they  reached  a 
temporary plateau during World War II.  The Germans used the most 
sophisticated message encoding or encryption device ever devised.  
Suitably  called the Enigma, their encryption scheme  was  nearly 
uncrackable  until  the Allies captured one of the  devices,  and 
then  under the leadership of Alan Turing, a method was found  to 
regularly decipher intercepted German High Command orders.   Many 
historians consider this effort as being instrumental in bringing 
about an end to the war.

"In  the years immediately following World War II, the only  per-
ceived  need  for secrecy was by the military  and  the  emerging 
intelligence  services,  namely the OSS as it became  the  modern 
CIA, the British MI-5 and MI-6 and of course our opponents on the 
other side.  In an effort to maintain a technological  leadership 
position, the National Security Agency funded various projects to 
develop encryption schemes that would adequately protect  govern-
ment information and communications for the foreseeable future.  

"The first such requests were issued in 1972 but it wasn't  until 
1974  that the National Bureau of Standards accepted an IBM  pro-
posal   for  an encryption process known as  Lucifer.   With  the 
assistance  of the NSA who is responsible for  cryptography,  the 
Data Encryption Standard was approved in November of 1976.  There 
was an accompanying furor over the DES, some saying that the  NSA 
intentionally weakened it to insure that they could still decrypt 
any messages using the approved algorithm.

"In 1982  a financial group, FIMAS endorsed a DES based method to 
authenticate  Electronic  Funds  Transfer, or  EFT.   Banks  move 
upwards  of a trillion dollars daily, and in an effort to  insure 
that all monies are moved accurately and to their intended desti-
nations,  the  technique  of Message  Authentication  Coding  was 
introduced.   For still unknown reasons it was decided  that  en-
crypting the contents of the messages, or transfers, was unneces-
sary.    Thus, financial transactions are still carried out  with 
no protection from eavesdropping."

"Excuse me, Mr. Hammacher, I want to understand this," interrupt-
ed Senator Deere.  "Are you saying that, since 1976, we have  had 
the ability to camouflage the nation's financial networks, yet as 
of today, they are still unprotected?"  Rickfield looked over  at 
Nancy in disgust but the single camera missed it.

"Yes, ma'am, that's exactly the case," replied Hammacher.

"What does that mean to us? The Government? Or the average  citi-

"In  my  opinion it borders on insanity.  It means that  for  the 
price  of a bit of electronic equipment, anyone can tap into  the 
details  of the financial dealings of banks, the  government  and 
every citizen in this country."

Senator Deere visibly gulped.  "Thank you, please continue."

"In  1984,  President Reagan signed  National  Security  Decision 
Directive 145.  NSDD-145 established that defense contractors and 
other organizations that handle sensitive or classified  informa-
tion  must adhere to certain security and privacy guidelines.   A 
number  of  advisory groups were established, and  to  a  minimal 
extent,  the  recommendations have been implemented, but  I  must 
emphasize, to a minimal extent."

"Can you be a little more specific, Mr. Hammacher?" Asked Senator 

"No ma'am, I can't.  A great deal of these efforts are classified 
and  by divulging who is not currently in compliance would  be  a 
security  violation in itself.  It would be fair to say,  though, 
that the majority of those organizations targeted for  additional 
security  measures fall far short of the government's  intentions  
and desires.  I am sorry I cannot be more specific."

"I understand completely.  Once again," Nancy said to  Hammacher, 
"I am sorry to interrupt."

"Not  at all, Senator."  Hammacher sipped from his  water  glass.  
"As you can see, the interest in security was primarily from  the 
government,  and  more specifically the  defense  community.   In 
1981, the Department of Defense chartered the DoD Computer  Secu-
rity Center which has since become the National Computer Security 
Center  operating  under the auspices of  the  National  Security 
Agency.  In 1983 they published a series of guidelines to be used 
in  the creation or evaluation of computer security.   Officially 
titled  the Trusted Computer Security Evaluation Criteria, it  is 
popularly  known  as  the Orange Book.   It has  had  some  minor 
updates  since then, but by and large it is an outdated  document 
designed for older computer architectures.

"The  point to be made here is that while the government  had  an 
ostensible interest and concern about the security of  computers, 
especially  those  under their control, there  was  virtually  no 
overt significance placed upon the security of private industry's 
computers.   Worse yet, it was not until 1987 that  any  proposed 
criteria  were  developed for networked computers.   So,  as  the 
world  tied itself together with millions of computers  and  net-
works,  the  Government was not concerned enough to  address  the 
issue.  Even today, there are no secure network criteria that are 
universally accepted."

"Mr. Hammacher."  Senator Rickfield spoke up for the first  time.  
"You  appear  to have a most demeaning tone with respect  to  the 
United  States Government's ability to manage itself.  I for  one 
remain  unconvinced  that  we are as  derelict  as  you  suggest.  
Therefore, I would ask that you stick to the subject at hand, the 
facts, and leave your personal opinions at home."

Nancy  Deere as well as much of the audience listened in  awe  as 
Rickfield  slashed  out at Hammacher who was in  the  process  of 
building  an argument.  Common courtesy demanded that he be  per-
mitted  to  finish his statement, even if  his  conclusions  were 
unpopular or erroneous.

Hammacher  did not seem fazed.  "Sir, I am recounting the  facts, 
and  only the facts.  My personal opinions would only be  further 
damning,  so I agree, that I will refrain."  He turned a page  in 
his notebook and continued.

"Several  laws were passed, most notably Public Law 100-235,  the 
Computer Security Act of 1987.  This weak law called for enhanced 
cooperation  between  the NSA and NIST in the  administration  of 
security for the sensitive but unclassified world of the  Govern-
ment  and the private sector.  Interestingly enough, in mid  1990 
it was announced, that after a protracted battle between the  two 
security agencies, the NCSC would shut down and merge its efforts 
with  its  giant super secret parent, the  NSA.   President  Bush 
signed  the  Directive effectively replacing  Reagan's  NSDD-145.  
Because  the  budgeting and appropriations for both NSA  and  the 
former  NCSC are classified, there is no way to accurately  gauge 
the effectiveness of this move.  It may still be some time before 
we understand the ramifications of the new Executive Order.

"To date every state has some kind of statute designed to  punish 
computer  crime,  but prosecutions that involve the  crossing  of 
state lines in the commission of a crime are far and few between.  
Only 1% of all computer criminals are prosecuted and less than 5% 
of those result in convictions.  In short, the United States  has 
done  little or nothing to forge an appropriate  defense  against 
computer  crime, despite the political gerrymandering and  agency 
shuffling  over the last decade.  That concludes my  opening  re-
marks."  Hammacher sat back in his chair and finished the  water.  
He  turned to his lawyer and whispered something  Scott  couldn't 

"Ah,  Mr. Hammacher, before you continue, I would like ask a  few 
questions.   Do  you mind?"  Senator Nancy Deere  was  being  her 
usual gracious self.

"Not at all, Senator."

"You  said earlier that the NSA endorsed a  cryptographic  system 
that they themselves could crack.  Could you elaborate?"  Senator 
Nancy Deere's ability to grasp an issue at the roots was uncanny.

"I'd  be pleased to.  First of all, it is only one  opinion  that 
the  NSA  can crack DES; it has never been proven  or  disproven.  
When  DES was first introduced some theoreticians felt  that  NSA 
had  compromised the original integrity of IBM's Lucifer  encryp-
tion project.  I am not qualified to comment either way, but  the 
reduction  of the key length, and the functional feedback  mecha-
nisms  were less stringent than the original.  If this  is  true, 
then  we  have to ask ourselves, why?  Why would the NSA  want  a 
weaker system?"

A  number of heads in the hearing room nodded in  agreement  with 
the question; others merely acknowledged that it was NSA  bashing 
time again.

Hammacher continued.  "There is one theory that suggests that the 
NSA,  as the largest eavesdropping operation in the world  wanted 
to  make  sure that they could still listen in on  messages  once 
they  have  been  encrypted.  The NSA has  neither  confirmed  or 
denied  these  reports.  If that is true, then we must  ask  our-
selves, if DES is so weak, why does the NSA have the ultimate say 
on export control.  The export of DES is restricted by the  Muni-
tions  Control, Department of State, and they rely upon  DoD  and 
the NSA for approval.

"The  export controls suggest that maybe NSA cannot decrypt  DES, 
and  there  is some evidence to support that.   For  example,  in 
1985, the Department of Treasury wanted to extend the  validation 
of  DES  for  use throughout the Treasury,  the  Federal  Reserve 
System  and member banks.  The NSA put a lot of political  muscle 
behind  an effort to have DES deaffirmed and replaced with  newer 
encryption  algorithms.   Treasury argued that they  had  already 
adapted DES, their constituents had spent millions on DES  equip-
ment  for EFT and it would be entirely too cumbersome and  expen-
sive  to  make a change now.  Besides, they asked,  what's  wrong 
with  DES?  They never got an answer to that question,  and  thus 
they  won  the battle and DES is still  the  approved  encryption 
methodology for banks.  It was never established whether DES  was 
too strong or too weak for NSA's taste.

"Later, in 1987, the NSA received an application for export of  a 
DES  based device that employed a technique called  infinite  en-
cryption. In response to the frenzy over the strength or weakness 
of  DES,  one  company took DES and folded it over  and  over  on 
itself using multiple keys.  The NSA had an internal  hemorrhage.  
They  forbade  this product from being exported from  the  United 
States in any form whatsoever.  Period.  It was an  extraordinary 
move on their part, and one that had built-in contradictions.  If 
DES  is  weak, then why not export it?  If it's too  strong,  why 
argue  with Treasury?  In any case, the multiple DES  issue  died 
down  until recently, when NSA, beaten at their own game  by  too 
much  secrecy,  developed a secret internal program to  create  a 
Multiple-DES encryption standard with a minimum of three  sequen-
tial iterations.

"Further  embarrassment was caused when an Israeli  mathematician 
found the 'trap door' built into DES by the NSA and how to decode 
messages  in seconds.  This quite clearly suggests that the  gov-
ernment  has been listening in on supposedly secret  and  private 

"Then  we  have to look at another event that  strongly  suggests 
that NSA has something to hide."

"Mr. Hammacher!" Shouted Senator Rickfield.  "I warned you  about 

"I  see nothing wrong with his comments, Senator,"   Deere  said, 
careful to make sure that she was heard over the sound system.

"I  am the chairman of this committee, Ms. Deere, and I find  Mr. 
Hammacher's characterization of the NSA as unfitting this  forum.  
I  wish he would find other words or eliminate the thought  alto-
gether.  Mr. Hammacher, do you think you are capable of that?"

Hammacher seethed.  "Senator, I mean no disrespect to you or this 
committee.   However, I was asked to testify, and at my  own  ex-
pense I am providing as accurate information as possible. If  you 
happen to find anything I say not to your liking, I do apologize, 
but my only alternative is not to testify at all."

"We  accept  your withdrawal, Mr. Hammacher, thank you  for  your 
time."  A hushed silence covered the hearing room.  This was  not 
the  time to get into it with Rickfield, Nancy thought.   He  has 
sufficiently embarrassed himself and the media will take care  of 
the rest.  Why the hell is he acting this way?  He is known as  a 
hard ass, a real case, but his public image was unblemished.  Had 
the job passed him by?

A  stunned and incensed Hammacher gathered his belongings as  his 
lawyer  placated  him.  Scott overheard bits and pieces  as  they 
both  agreed that Rickfield was a flaming asshole.  A  couple  of 
reporters  hurriedly followed them out of the hearing room for  a 
one on one interview.  

"Is Dr. Sternman ready?"  Rickfield asked.  

A  bustle  of activity and a man spoke to the  dais  without  the 
assistance of a microphone.  "Yessir, I am."

Sternman was definitely the academic type, Scott noted.  A  crum-
pled  ill fitting brown suit covering a small hunched  body  that 
was  no more than 45 years old.  He held an old scratched  brief-
case and an armful of folders and envelopes.  Scott was  reminded 
of  the  studious high school student that jocks  enjoy  tripping 
with  their feet.  Dr. Sternman busied himself to straighten  the 
papers  that  fell onto the desk and his performance  received  a 
brief titter from the crowd.

"Ah,  yes, Mr. Chairman," Sternman said. "I'm ready now."   Rick-
field looked as bored as ever.

"Thank  you,  Dr. Sternman.  You are, I  understand,  a  computer 
virus expert?  Is that correct?"

"Yessir.  My doctoral thesis was on the subject and I have  spent 
several  years researching computer viruses, their  proliferation 
and propagation."  Rickfield groaned to himself.   Unintelligible 
mumbo jumbo.

"I  also understand that your comments will be brief as  we  have 
someone  else yet to hear from today."  It was as much a  command 
as a question.

"Yessir, it will be brief."

"Then,  please, enlighten us, what is a virus expert and what  do 
you do?"  Rickfield grinned menacingly at Dr. Les Sternman,  Pro-
fessor  of Applied Theoretical Mathematics, Massachusetts  Insti-
tute of Technology.

"I  believe  the committee has received an advance copy  of  some 
notes  I  made on the nature of computer viruses and  the  danger 
they represent?"  Rickfield hadn't read anything, so he looked at 
Boyers who also shrugged his shoulders.

"Yes,  Dr.  Sternman," Nancy Deere said,  "and we thank  you  for 
your  consideration."   Rickfield glared at her as  she  politely 
upstaged  him yet again.  "May I ask, though, that you provide  a 
brief  description of a computer virus for the benefit  of  those 
who have not read your presentation?"  She stuck it to  Rickfield 

"I'd be happy to, madam Chairwoman," he said nonchalantly.  Rick-
field's neck turned red at the inadvertent sudden rise in Senator 
Deere's  stature. For the next several minutes Sternman  solemnly 
described what a virus was, how it worked and a history of  their 
attacks.  He told the committee about Worms, Trojan Horses,  Time 
Bombs,  Logic  Bombs,  Stealth Viruses, Crystal  Viruses  and  an 
assorted  family  of  similar  surreptitious  computer  programs.  
Despite  Sternman's sermonly manner, his audience found the  sub-
ject matter fascinating. 

"The  reason  you are here, Dr. Sternman, is to bring  us  up  to 
speed on computer viruses, which you have done with alacrity, and 
we  appreciate that."  Rickfield held seniority, but Nancy  Deere 
took charge due to her preparation.  "Now that we have an  under-
standing  of  the virus, can you give us an idea of the  type  of 
problems that they cause?"

"Ah, yes, but I need to say something here," Sternman said.

"Please, proceed," Rickfield said politely.

"When I first heard about replicating software, viruses, and this 
was  over 15 years ago, I, as many of my graduate  students  did, 
thought of them as a curious anomaly.  A benign subset of comput-
er  software  that  had no anticipated  applications.   We  spent 
months  working  with viruses, self cloning  software  and  built 
mathematical  models of their behavior which fit quite neatly  in 
the domain of conventional set theory.  Then an amazing discovery 
befell us.  We proved mathematically that there is absolutely  no 
effective way to protect against computer viruses in software."  

Enough  of the spectators had heard about viruses over  the  past 
few years to comprehend the purport of that one compelling state-
ment.   Even  Senator Rickfield joined Nancy and  the  others  in 
their awe.  No way to combat viruses?   Dr. Sternman had  dropped 
a bombshell on them.

"Dr. Sternman," said Senator Deere, "could you repeat that?

"Yes,  yes," Sternman replied, knowing the impact of  his  state-
ment.   "That  is correct.  A virus is a piece  of  software  and 
software is designed to do specific tasks in a hardware  environ-
ment.  All software uses basically the same techniques to do  its 
job.  Without all of the technicalities, if one piece of software 
can  do something, another piece of software can un-do it.   It's 
kind of a computer arms race.  

"I build a virus, and you build a program to protect against that 
one  virus.   It works.  But then I make a small  change  in  the 
virus  to attack or bypass your software, and Poof!  I  blow  you 
away.   Then you build a new piece of software to defend  against 
both  my first virus and my mutated virus and that works until  I 
build yet another.  This process can go on forever, and  frankly, 
it's just not worth the effort."  

"What is not worth the effort, Doctor?" Asked Nancy Deere.   "You 
paint a most bleak picture."

"I don't mean to at all, Senator."  Dr. Sternman smiled soothing-
ly  up at the committee and took off his round horn rim  glasses.  
"I  wasn't attempting to be melodramatic, however these  are  not 
opinions or guesses.  They are facts.  It is not worth the effort 
to fight computer viruses with software.  The virus builders will 
win because the Virus Busters are the ones playing catch-up."

"Virus Busters?"  Senator Rickfield mockingly said  conspicuously 
raising  his eyebrows.  His reaction elicited a wave of  laughter 
from the hall.

"Yessir,"  said  Dr.  Sternman  to  Rickfield.   "Virus  Busters.  
That's  a term to describe programmers who fight  viruses.   They 
mistakenly believe they can fight viruses with defensive software  
and  some  of them sell some incredibly poor programs.   In  many 
cases you're better off not using anything at all.

"You see, there is no way to write a program that can predict the 
potential  behavior of other software in such a way that it  will 
not interfere with normal computer operations.  So, the only  way 
to find a virus is to already know what it looks like, and go out 
looking  for  it.   There are several major  problems  with  this 
approach.   First of all, the virus has already struck  and  done 
some damage.  Two it has already infected other software and will 
continue  to spread.  Three, a program must be written to  defeat 
the  specific  virus usually using a unique  signature  for  each 
virus,  and the vaccine for the virus must be distributed to  the 
computer users.

"This  process can take from three to twelve months, and  by  the 
time the virus vaccine has been deployed, the very same virus has 
been changed, mutated, and the vaccine is useless against it.  So 
you  see,  the Virus Busters are really wasting their  time,  and 
worst  of all they are deceiving the public."  Dr. Sternman  com-
pleted what he had to say with surprising force.

"Doctor Sternman,"  Senator Rickfield said with disdain,  "all of 
your  theories  are well and good, and perhaps they work  in  the 
laboratory. But isn't it true, sir, that computer viruses are  an 
overblown issue that the media has sensationalized and that  they 
are nothing more than a minor inconvenience?"

"Not really, Senator.  The statistics don't support that  conclu-
sion,"  Dr. Sternman said with conviction.  "That is one  of  the 
worst myths."  Nancy Deere smiled to herself as the dorky college 
professor  handed  it  right to a United  States  Senator.   "The 
incidence of computer viruses has been on a logarithmic  increase 
for  the past several years.  If a human disease infected at  the 
same rate, we would declare a medical state of emergency."

"Doctor," implored Rickfield.  "Aren't you exaggerating . . .?"

"No  Senator, here are the facts.  There are currently over  5000  
known  computer  viruses and strains that  have  been  positively 
identified.   Almost five thousand, Senator."   The  good  Doctor 
was  a skilled debater, and Rickfield was being sucked in by  his 
attack  on  the  witness.  The figure  three  thousand  impressed 
everyone.   A few low whistles echoed through the large  chamber. 
Stupid move Merrill, though Nancy.  

"It  is estimated, sir, that at the current rate, there  will  be 
over  100,000 active viruses in five years,"  Dr. Sternman  dryly 
spoke  to  Rickfield, "that every single network  in  the  United 
States,  Canada and the United Kingdom is infected with at  least 
one computer virus.  That is the equivalent of having one  member 
of every family in the country being sick at all times.  That  is 
an epidemic, and one that will not go away. No sir, it will not."  
Sternman's  voice rose.  "It will not go away.  It will only  get 

"That  is a most apoplectic prophesy, Doctor.  I think that  many 
of  us would have trouble believing the doom and gloom  you  por-
tend."  Rickfield was sloughing off the Doctor, but Sternman  was 
here to tell a story, and he would finish.

"There  is more, Senator.  Recent reports show that over  75%  of 
the computers in the People's Republic of China are infected with 
deadly  and  destructive software.  Why?  The look on  your  face 
asks  the question.  Because, almost every piece of  software  in 
that  country  is bootleg, illegal copies  of  popular  programs.  
That  invites viruses.   Since vast quantities of computers  come 
from the Pacific Rim, many with prepackaged software, new comput-
er  equipment is a source of computer viruses that was once  con-
sidered safe.  Modem manufacturers have accidentally had  viruses 
on their communications software; several major domestic software 
manufacturers have had their shrink-wrapped software infected.  

"If you recall in 1989, NASA brought Virus Busters to Cape Kenne-
dy  and  Houston to thwart a particular virus that  threatened  a 
space launch.  A year later as everyone remembers, NASA computers 
were invaded forcing officials to abort a flight.  The attacks go 
on, and they inflict greater damage than is generally thought.

"Again, these are our best estimates, that over 90% of all  viral 
infections go unreported."

"Doctor, 90%?  Isn't that awfully high?"  Nancy asked.

"Definitely, yes, but imagine the price of speaking out.  I  have 
talked  to  hundreds of companies, major corporations,  that  are 
absolutely terrified of anyone knowing that their computers  have 
been  infected.   Or they have been the target  of  any  computer 
crime for that matter.  They feel that the public, their  custom-
ers,  maybe  even  their stockholders, might lose  faith  in  the 
company's ability to protect itself.  So?  Most viral attacks  go 

"It's akin to computer rape."  Dr. Sternman had a way with  words 
to  keep his audience attentive.  Years of lecturing to  sleeping 
freshman  had  taught him a few tricks.   "A  computer  virus  is 
uninvited,  it invades the system, and then has its way with  it.  
If that's not rape, I don't know what is."

"Your  parallels are most vivid," said a grimacing  Nancy  Deere.  
"Let's leave that thought for now, and maybe you can explain  the 
type  of damage that a virus can do.  It sounds to me like  there 
are  thousands of new diseases out there, and every one needs  to 
be  isolated, diagnosed and then cured.  That appears to me to  a 
formidable challenge."

"I  could  not  have put it better, Senator.   You  grasp  things 
quickly."   Sternman  was  genuinely  complimenting  Nancy.  "The 
similarities  to the medical field cannot go unnoticed if we  are 
to deal with the problem rationally and effectively.  And like  a 
disease,  we need to predict the effects of the infection.   What 
we have found in that area is as frightening.

"The  first generation of viruses were simple in their  approach.  
The designers correctly assumed that no one was looking for them, 
and they could enter systems without any deterrence.  They  erase 
files, scramble data, re-format hard drives . . .make the comput-
er data useless.  

"Then  the  second  generation of viruses  came  along  with  the 
nom-de-guerre stealth.  These viruses hid themselves more  elabo-
rately  to avoid detection and had a built  in  self-preservation 
instinct.   If  the virus thinks it's being probed, it  self  de-
structs or hides itself even further.  

"In  addition,  second generation viruses learned how  to  become 
targeted.   Some  viruses  have been designed to  only  attack  a 
competitor's product and nothing else."

"Is that possible?" Asked Nancy Deere.

"It's been done many times.  Some software bugs in popular  soft-
ware  are the result of viral infections, others may  be  genuine 
bugs.  Imagine  a virus who sole purpose is to attack  Lotus  123 
spreadsheets.   The  virus is designed  to  create  computational 
errors in the program's spreadsheets.  The user then thinks  that 
Lotus is to blame and so he buys another product.  Yes, ma'am, it 
is  possible, and occurs every day of the week.  Keeping up  with 
it is the trick.

"Other viruses attack on Friday the 13th. only, some attack  only 
at a specified time . . .the damage to be done is only limited by 
imagination  of the programmers.  Third generation  viruses  were 
even  more  sophisticated.  They were designed to do  damage  not 
only to the data, but to the computer hardware itself.  Some were 
designed  to  overload communications ports  with  tight  logical 
loops.  Others were designed to destroy the hard disk by directly 
overdriving  the disk or would cause amonitor  to  self-destruct.  
There is no limit to the possibilities.

"You  sound as though you hold their skills in high regard,  Doc-
tor."  Rickfield continued to make snide remarks whenever  possi-

"Yessir, I do.  Many of them have extraordinary skills, that are 
unfortunately   misguided.   They  are  a  new  breed  of   bored 

"You  mentioned earlier Doctor, that there were over  5000  known 
viruses.   How fast is the epidemic, as you put  it,  spreading?"  
Senator Nancy Deere asked while making prolific notes throughout.

"For  all  intents and purposes Senator, they  spread  unchecked.  
There is a certain amount of awareness of the problem, but it  is 
only  superficial.  The current viral defenses include  signature 
identification, cyclic redundancy checks and intercept  verifica-
tion,  but the new viruses can combat those as a matter of  rule.  
If  the current rate of viral infection continues, it will  be  a 
safe  bet that nearly every computer in the country will  be  in-
fected ten times over within three years."

Dr. Arnold Sternman spent the next half hour answering insightful 
questions  from  Nancy Deere, and even Puglasi  became  concerned 
enough  to  ask  a few.  Rickfield continued  with  his  visceral 
comments to the constant amazement of the gallery and spectators.  
Scott  could only imagine the raking Rickfield would  receive  in 
the  press,  but  being Friday, the  effects  will  be  lessened.  
Besides, it seemed as if Rickfield just didn't give a damn.

Rickfield  dismissed and perfunctorily thanked Dr.  Sternman.  He 
prepared for the next speaker, but Senator Deere leaned over  and 
asked  him for a five minute conclave.  He was openly  reluctant, 
but  as she raised her voice, he conceded.  In a  private  office 
off to the side, Nancy Deere came unglued.

"What  kind  of stunt are you pulling out there,  Senator?"   She 
demanded  as she paced the room.  "I thought this was a  hearing, 
not a lynching."

Rickfield slouched in a plush  leather chair and appeared  uncon-
cerned.   "I am indeed sorry," he said with the pronounced  drawl 
of a Southern country gentleman, "that the young Senatoress finds 
cross examination unpleasant.  Perhaps if we treated this like  a 
neighborhood gossip session, it might be easier."    

"Now one damned minute," she yelled while pointing a finger right 
at Rickfield.  "That was not cross-examination; it was harassment 
and I for one am embarrassed for you.  And two, do not, I repeat, 
do  not,  ever  patronize me.  I am not one of  your  cheap  call 
girls."    She could not have knocked Rickfield over  any  harder 
with a sledgehammer.

"You bitch!"  Rickfield rose to confront her standing nine inches 
taller.   "You stupid bitch.  You have no idea what's  at  stake.  
None.  It's bigger than you.  At this rate I can assure you,  you 
will never have an ear in Washington.  Never.  You will be  deaf, 
dumb and blind in this town.  I have been on this Hill for thirty 
years  and  paid my dues and I will not have a middle  aged  June 
Cleaver undermine a lifetime of work just because she smells  her 
first cause."

Undaunted, Nancy stood her ground.  "I don't know what you're  up 
to  Senator, but I do know that you're sand bagging  these  hear-
ings.   I've  raised four kids and half a neighborhood,  plus  my 
husband talked in his sleep.  I learned a lot about  politicians, 
and  I  know sand bagging when I see it.  Now, if you  got  stuck 
with  these hearings and think they're a crock, that's  fine.   I 
hear it happens to everyone.  But, I see them as important and  I 
don't want you to interfere."

"You are in no position to ask for anything."  

"I'm not asking.  I'm telling."  Where did she get the  gumption, 
she  asked  herself.   Then it occurred to her;   I'm  not  a 
politician,  I  want to see things get fixed.   "I  will  take 
issue with you, take you on publicly, if necessary.  I was Presi-
dent of the PTA for 8 years.  I am fluent in dealing with bitches 
of every size and shape.  You're just a bastard."


                    Chapter 21

     Friday, January 8
     Washington, D.C.

As the hour is late, I am tempted to call a recess until tomorrow 
morning,"   Senator Merrill Rickfield said congenially  from  the 
center  seat  of the hearing room dais.  His blow up  with  Nancy 
left him in a rage, but he ably disguised the anger by  replacing 
it with overcompensated manners.

"However," he continued, "I understand that we scheduled  someone 
to  speak  to us who has to catch a plane  back  to  California?"  
Rickfield  quickly glanced about the formal dais to espy  someone 
who could help him fill in the details.  Ken Boyers was engrossed 
in  conversation and had to be prodded to respond.  "Ken,"  Rick-
field whispered while covering the microphone with his hand.   He 
leaned over and behind his seat.  "Is that right, this True  Blue 
guy flew in for the day and he's out tonight?" 

Ken  nodded. "Yes, it was the only way we could get him."

"What makes him so bloody important?"  Rickfield acted edgy.

"He's one of the software industry's leading spokesman.  He  owns 
dGraph,"   Ken  said, making it sound like he was in on a private 

"So  fucking what?  What's he doing here?"   Rickfield  demanded.  
Keeping it to a whisper was hard. 

"Industry  perspective.  We need to hear from all possible  view-
points in order to . . ."  Ken  explained.

"Oh, all right.  Whatever.  If this  goes past five, have someone 
call my wife and tell her I'll see her tomorrow."  Rickfield  sat 
back and smiled a politician-hiding-something smile.

"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, a little scheduling  confusion.  
I guess there's a first time for anything."  Rickfield's  chuckle 
told  those-in-the-know that it was time to laugh now.  If  Rick-
field saw someone not laughing at one of his arthritic jokes,  he 
would remember.   Might cost a future favor, so it was simpler to 
laugh.   The mild titter throughout the hall that  followed  gave 
Rickfield the few seconds he needed to organize himself.

"Yes,  yes.  Page 239.  Everyone there?"  Rickfield  scanned  the 
other  committee members and aides flipping pages frantically  to 
find the proper place.

"We now have the pleasure of hearing from Pierre, now correct  me 
if I say this wrong, Trewww-Blow?"  Rickfield looked up over  his 
glasses  to  see Pierre seated at the hearing  table.   "Is  that 
right?"  Scott had been able to keep his privileged location  for 
the busier afternoon session by occupying several seats with  his 
bags  and  coat.  He figured correctly that he would be  able  to 
keep  at least one as the room filled with more people  than  had 
been there for the morning session.

"Troubleaux, yes Senator. Very good."  Pierre had turned on  110% 
charm.   Cameras  from the now busy press pool in  front  of  the 
hearing  tables strobe-lit the room until every photographer  had 
his  first  quota of shots.  Troubleaux was  still  the  computer 
industry's  Golden Boy; he could do no wrong. Watching the  reac-
tion  to  Pierre's  mere presence,  Senator  Rickfield  instantly 
realized  that  True Blue here was a public  relations  pro,  and 
could be hard to control.  What was he gonna say anyway?   Indus-
try perspective my ass.  This hearing was as good as over  before 
it  started  until  the television people  showed  up,  Rickfield 
thought to himself with disgust.

"Mr. Trew-Blow flew in extra special for this today,"   Rickfield 
orated.  "And I'm sure we are all anxious to hear what he has  to 
say."   His Southern twang rang of boredom.  Scott, who was  sit-
ting  not  6  feet from where Pierre and  the  others  testified, 
overheard Troubleaux's attorney whisper, "sarcastic bastard."  

Rickfield  continued. "He is here to give us an overview  of  the 
problems that software manufacturers face.  So, unless anyone has 
any  comments  before Mr. Trew-Blow, I will ask him to  read  his 
opening statement."  

"I  do,  Mr. Chairman,"  Senator Nancy Deere said.  She  said  it 
with enough oomph to come across more dynamic on the sound system 
than  did  Rickfield.   Political  upstaging.   Rickfield  looked 
annoyed.  He had had enough of her today. One thing after  anoth-
er, and all he wanted was to get through the hearings as fast  as 
possible, make a "Take No Action" recommendation to the Committee 
and retire after election day.  Mrs.  Deere was making that  goal 
increasingly difficult to reach.

"I  recognize the Junior Senator."  He said the word 'Junior'  as 
if  it was scrawled on a men's room wall.  His point was lost  on 
nobody,  and privately, most would agree that it was a  tasteless 

"Thank  you,  Mr.  Chairman," Senator Nancy  Deere  said  poising 
herself.   "I, too,  feel indeed grateful, and honored,  to  have 
Mr. Troubleaux here today.  His accomplishments over the last few 
years,  legendary in some circles I understand, have been  in  no 
way inconsequential to the way that America does business. By  no 
means  do I wish  to embarrass Mr. Troubleaux, and I do  hope  he 
will  forgive me."  Pierre gave Nancy a forgiving smile when  she 
glanced  at  him.   "However, I do feel it  incumbent  upon  this 
committee to enter into the record the significant  contributions 
he  has  made to the computer industry.  If there are  no  objec-
tions, I have prepared a short biography."  No one objected.

"Mr.  Troubleaux, a native  Frenchman, came to the United  States 
at  age  12 to attend Julliard School of  Music  on  scholarship.  
Since  founding dGraph, Inc. with the late Max Jones, dGraph  and 
Mr. Troubleaux have received constant accolades from the business 
community,  the software industry and Wall Street."   It  sounded 
more  to Scott that she was reading past achievements before  she 
handed out a Grammy. 

"Entrepreneur  of  the Year, 1984, 1985,  1986,  1988,  Cupertino 
Chamber  of Commerce.  Entrepreneur Year of the Year,  California 
State  Trade  Association, 1987.  Technical  Achievement  of  the 
Year, IEEE, 1988 . . ."

Senator Deere read on about Pierre the Magnificent and the  house 
that dGraph built.  If this was an election for sainthood, Pierre 
would  be a shoo-in.  But considering the beating that  Rickfield 
had  inflicted  on a couple of earlier speakers, it  looked  like 
Nancy was trying to bolster Pierre for the upcoming onslaught.

".  . .and he has just been appointed to the President's  Council 
on  Competitive Excellence."  She closed her folder.  "With  that 
number  of  awards  and credentials, I dare say I  expect  to  be 
inundated with insights.  Thank you Mr. Chairman."

"And,  we thank you,"  Rickfield barbed, "for that  introduction.  
Now, if there are no further interruptions," he glared at  Nancy, 
"Mr. Trew-Blow, would you care to read your prepared statement. 

"No,  Senator,"   Pierre came back.  A hush  descended  over  the 
entire  room.  He paused long enough to increase the  tension  in 
the room to the breaking point.  "I never use prepared notes.   I 
prefer  to  speak casually and honestly.  Do you  mind?"   Pierre 
exaggerated  his French accent for effect. After years of  public 
appearances,  he knew how to work and win a crowd.   The  cameras 
again  flashed as Pierre had just won the first round  of  verbal 

"It is a bit unusual, not to have an advanced copy of your state-
ments, and then . . ." Rickfield stopped himself in mid sentence. 
"Never mind, I'm sorry.  Please, Mr. Trew-Blow, proceed."

"Thank  you,  Mr. Chairman." Pierre scanned the room to  see  how 
much of it he commanded.  How many people were actually listening 
to  what he was going to say, or were they there for the  experi-
ence and another line item on a resume?  This was his milieu.   A 
live audience, and a TV audience as an extra added bonus.  But he 
had planned it that way.  

He  never told anyone that he was the one who called the TV  sta-
tions to tell them that there would be a significant news  devel-
opment  at  the Rickfield hearings.  If he  concentrated,  Pierre 
could speak like a native American with a Midwest twang.  He gave 
CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC down home pitches on some of the dirt  that 
might come out. Only CNN showed up.  They sent a junior producer. 
So what, everyone has to start somewhere.  And this might be  his 
big break.

"Mr.  Chairman, committee members," his eyes scanned the dais  as 
he  spoke. "Honored guests," he looked around the hall to  insure 
as many people present felt as important as possible, "and inter-
ested  observers, I thank you for the opportunity to address  you 
here today."  In seconds he owned the room.  Pierre was a  capti-
vating  orator.  "I must plead guilty to the overly kind  remarks 
by  Senator Deere, thank you very much.  But, I am  not  feigning 
humility  when I must lavish similar praises upon the many  dedi-
cated friends at dGraph, whom have made our successes possible."

Mutual  admiration society, thought Scott.  What a pile  of  D.C. 
horseshit,  but this Pierre was playing the game better than  the 
congressional  denizens.   As Pierre spoke, the  corners  of  his 
mouth twitched, ever so slightly, but just enough for the observ-
er  to note that he took little of these  formalities  seriously.  
The lone TV camera rolled.

"My  statement will be brief, Mr. Chairman, and I am  sure,  that 
after it is complete you will have many questions," Pierre  said.  
His tone was kind, the words ominous. 

"I  am not a technical person, instead, I am a dreamer.  I  leave 
the bits and bytes to the  wizards who can translate dreams  into 
a reality.  Software designers are the alchemists who can in fact 
turn silicon into gold.  They skillfully navigate the development 
of  thoughts from the amorphous to the tangible.  Veritable  art-
ists, who like the painter, work from tabula rasa, a clean slate, 
and  have a picture in mind.  It is the efforts of tens of  thou-
sands  of dedicated software pioneers who have pushed  the  fron-
tiers  of technology to such a degree that an  entire  generation 
has grown up in a society where software and digital  interaction 
are assimilated from birth.

"We have come to think, perhaps incorrectly, in a discreet  quan-
tized,  digital if you will, framework.  To a certain  extent  we 
have  lost  the ability to make a good  guess."   Pierre  paused.  
"Think about a watch, with a second hand.  The analog type.  When 
asked for the time, a response might be 'about three-thirty',  or 
'it's  a quarter after ', or 'it's almost ten.'   We  approximate 
the time.

"With  a  digital watch, one's response will  be  more  accurate; 
'one- twenty-three," or '4 minutes before twelve,' or 'it's  nine 
thirty-three.'   We  don't have to guess anymore.  And  that's  a 
shame.  When we lose the ability to make an educated guess,  take 
a stab at, shoot from the hip, we cease using a valuable creative 
tool.  Imagination!

"By  depending  upon them so completely, we fall hostage  to  the 
machines  of our creation; we maintain a constant  reliance  upon 
their  accuracy  and infallibility.  I am aware of  the  admitted 
parallel  to many science fiction stories where  the  scientists' 
machines  take over the world.  Those tales are, thankfully,  the 
products  of  vivid imaginations.  The technology  does  not  yet 
exist  to worry about a renegade computer.  HAL-9000 series  com-
puters  are still far in the future.  As long as we,  as  humans, 
tell  the computer to open the pod bay doors, the pod  bay  doors 
will open."  Pierre elicited a respectful giggle from the  stand-
ing room only crowd, many of whom came solely to hear him  speak.  
Rickfield doodled.  

"Yet,  there is another viewpoint. It is few people, indeed,  who 
can honestly claim to doubt the answer displayed on their  calcu-
lator.  They have been with us for over 20 years and we  instinc-
tively  trust  in  their reliability.  We  assume  the  computing 
machine  to be flawless.  In many ways, theoretically it is  per-
fect.  But when man gets involved he fouls it up. Our fingers are 
too  big  for the digital key pad on  our  wristwatch-calculator-
timer-TV.  Since  we can't approximate the answer, we  have  lost 
that skill, we can't guess,  it becomes nearly impossible to know 
if we're getting the right answer.

"We  trust  our computers.  We believe it  when  our  spreadsheet 
tells  us  that  we will experience 50% annual  growth  for  five 
years.  We believe the automatic bank teller that tells us we are 
overdrawn.   We don't question it.  We trust the computer at  the 
supermarket.   As far as I know, only my mother adds up her  gro-
ceries by hand while still at the check-out counter."

While  the image sank in for his audience, Pierre picked  up  the 
glass  of ice water in front of him and sipped enough to wet  his 
whistle.  The crowd ate him up.  He was weaving a web, drawing  a 
picture, and only the artist knew what the climax would be.

"Excuse me." Pierre cleared his throat.  "We as a people  believe 
a  computer printout is the closest thing to God on  earth.   Di-
vinely  accurate, piously error-free.  Computerized  bank  state-
ments, credit card reports, phone bills, our life is stored  away 
in computer memories, and we trust that the information  residing 
there  is  accurate.  We want, we need to believe, that  the  ma-
chines  that  switch  the street lights, the ones  that  run  the 
elevator,  the one that tells us we have to go to traffic  court, 
we want to believe that they are right.

"Then  on yet another hand, we all experience the frustration  of 
the omnipresent complaint, 'I'm sorry the computer is down.   Can 
you call back?'"  Again the audience emotionally related to  what 
Pierre  was  saying.  They nodded at each other and  in  Pierre's 
direction to indicate concurrence.

"I,  as  many  of us have I am sure, arrived at a  hotel,  or  an 
airport, or a car rental agency and been told that we don't  have 
a  reservation.   For  me there is an  initial  embarrassment  of 
having  my hand slapped by the computer terminal via  the  clerk.  
Then,  I  react strongly.  I will raise my voice and say  that  I 
made  a  reservation, two days ago.  I did it myself.   Then  the 
clerk will say something like, 'It's not in the computer'.    How 
do you react to that statement?

"Suddenly your integrity is being questioned by an  agglomeration 
of  wire and silicon.  Your veracity comes into immediate  doubt.  
The  clerk  might think that you never even made  a  reservation.  
You  become a liar because the computer disagrees with you.   And 
to  argue  about  it is an exercise in  futility.   The  computer 
cannot  reason.  The computer has no ability to make  a  judgment 
about you, or me.  It is a case of being totally black or  white.  
And for the human of the species, that value system is unfathoma-
ble, paradoxical.  Nothing is black and white.  Yes, the computer 
is  black and white.  Herein again, the mind prefers the  analog, 
the continuous, rather than the digitally discreet.

"In these cases, the role is reversed, we blame the computer  for 
making errors.  We tend to be verbally graphic in the comments we 
make  about computers when they don't appear to work the  way  we 
expect  them  to.  We distrust them."  Pierre gestured  with  his 
arms to emphasize his point.  The crescendo had begun.

"The  sociological  implications are incredible. As a  people  we 
have  an  inherent  distrust of computers; they  become  an  easy 
scapegoat for modern irritations.  However, the balancing side of 
the scale is an implicit trust in their abilities.  The  inherent 
trust we maintain in computers is a deeply emotional one, much as 
a helpless infant trusts the warmth of contact with his  parents.  
Such  is the trust that we have in our computers,  because,  like 
the baby, without that trust, we could not survive."

He  let the words sink in.  A low rumbling began  throughout  the 
gallery and hall.  Pierre couldn't hear any of the comments,  but 
he was sure he was starting a stink. 

"It  is our faith in computers that lets us continue.  The  reli-
gious parallels are obvious. The evangelical computer is also the 
subject  of fiction, but trust and faith are inextricably  meshed 
into  flavors and degrees.  A brief sampling of  common  everyday 
items  and  events that are dependent on  computers  might  prove 

"Without  computers, many of lifes' simple pleasures and  conven-
iences  would  disappear.  Cable television.   Movies  like  Star 
Wars.  Special effects by computer.  Magic Money Cards.   Imagine 
life  without them."  A nervous giggle met Pierre's social  slam.  
"Call  holding.   Remember  dial phones?   No  computers  needed.  
CD's?   The  staple   diet of teenage America is  the  bread  and 
butter  of the music industry.  Mail.  Let's not forget the  Post 
Office  and  other shippers.  Without computers  Federal  Express 
would  be no better than the Honest-We'll-Be-Here-Tomorrow  Cargo 

"Oh,  and yes," Pierre said dramatically. "Let's get rid  of  the 
microwave  ovens, the VCR's and video cameras. I think I've  made 
my point."

"I wish you would, Mr. Trew-Blow,"  Senator Rickfield caustically 
interjected.   "What  is  the point?"  Rickfield  was  making  no 
points taking on Pierre Troubleaux.  He was too popular.

"Thank  you,  Senator, I am glad you asked.  I was  just  getting 
there."  Pierre's  sugary treatment was an  appropriate  slap  in 
Rickfield's face.

"Please  continue."  The Senator had difficulty saying  the  word 

"Yes sir.  So, the prognostications made over a decade ago by the 
likes of Steve Jobs, that computers would alter the way we  play, 
work  and think have been completely fulfilled.  Now, if we  look 
at  those years, we see a multi-billion dollar industry that  has 
made extraordinary promises to the world of business.   Computer-
ize  they say!  Modernize! Get with the times!  Make your  opera-
tion efficient!  Stay ahead of the competition!  And we  listened 
and we bought.

"With  a  projected  life cycle of between only  three  and  five 
years, technology progresses that fast, once computerized, forev-
er  computerized.  To keep up with the competitive Jones',  main-
taining  technical  advantages requires upgrading  to  subsequent 
generations  of computers.  The computer salespeople told  us  to 
run our businesses on computers, send out Social Security  checks 
by computer, replace typewriters with word processors and bank at 
home.   Yet,  somewhere in the heady days  of  phenomenal  growth 
during  the early 1980's, someone forgot.  Someone, or more  than 
likely  most of Silicon Valley forgot, that people  were  putting 
their  trust in these machines and we gave them no reason to.   I 
include myself and my firm among the guilty.

"Very  simply,  we have built a culture, an  economic  base,  the 
largest  GNP in the world on a system of inter-connected  comput-
ers.  We have placed the wealths of our nations, the backbone  of 
the  fabric of our way of life, we have placed our trust in  com-
puters  that do not warrant that trust.  It is incredible  to  me 
that  major financial institutions do not protect their  computer 
assets as well as they protect their cash on hand.

"I  find it unbelievable that the computers responsible  in  part 
for  the defense of this country appear to have more  open  doors 
than a thousand churches on Sunday.  It is incomprehensible to me 
that privacy, one of the founding principles of this nation,  has 
been ignored during the information revolution.  The massive data 
bases  that contain vast amounts of personal data on us all  have 
been  amply shown to be not worthy of trust.  All it takes  is  a 
home  computer  and elbow grease and you, or I,  or  he,"  Pierre 
pointed  at  various people seated around the room, "can  have  a 
field day and change anybody's life history.  What happens if the 
computer disagrees with you then?

"It  staggers  the  imagination that we have  not  attempted  any 
coherent strategy to protect the lifeblood of our society.  That, 
ladies and gentlemen is a crime.  We spend $3 trillion on weapons 
in  one decade, yet we do not have the foresight to  protect  our 
computers? It is a crime of indifference by business leaders.   A 
crime  against common sense by Congress who passes laws and  then 
refuses  to fund their enactment.  Staggeringly  idiotic.  Pardon 
me."   Pierre drained the water from his glass as the tension  in 
the hearing room thickened.

"We live the paradox of simultaneously distrusting computers  and 
being  required  to trust them and live with them.   We  are  all 
criminals in this disgrace.  Maybe dGraph more than most.  Permit 
me  to  explain  my involvement."  The electricity  in  the  room 
crackled and the novice CNN producer instructed the cameraman  to 
get it right.

"Troubleaux!"  A man's gruff accented voice elongated the  sylla-
bles  as  he shouted from the balcony in the rear.   A  thousands 
eyes  jerked  to the source of the sound  up  above.   Troubleaux 
himself turned in his seat to see a middle aged dark man, wearing 
a  turban,  pointing a handgun in his direction.  Scott  saw  the 
weapon and wondered which politician was the target.  Who was too 
pro-Israel  this week?  He immediately thought of Rickfield.  No, 
he didn't have a commitment either way.  He only rode the wave of 
popular sentiment.

Pierre  too,  wondered who was the target of a  madman's  suicide 
attack.  It had to be suicide, there was no escape.  

Scott's mind raced through a thousand thoughts during that  first 
tenth  of a second, not the endless minutes he later  remembered. 
In  the  next split second, Scott realized,  more  accurately  he 
knew, that Pierre was the target.  The would-be victim.  

As the first report from the handgun echoed through the cavernous 
chamber  Scott was mid-leap at Pierre.  Hell of a way to grab  an 
exclusive,  he thought.  He fell into Pierre as the  second  shot 
exploded.  Scott painfully caught the edge of the chair with  his 
shoulder while pushing Pierre over sideways.  They crumpled  into 
a heap on the floor when the third shot fired.  

Scott  glanced up at the turbanned man vehemently mouthing  words 
to  an  invisible entity skyward. The din from the panic  in  the 
room  made it impossible to hear.  Still brandishing the  pistol, 
the  assailant  began  to take aim again, at  Scott  and  Pierre.  
Scott attempted to wiggle free from the tangle of Pierre's  limbs 
and  the chairs around them.  He struggled to  extricate  himself 
but found it impossible. 

A  fourth shot discharged. Scott cringed, awaiting the worst  but 
instead  heard the bullet ricochet off a metal object above  him. 
Scott's  adrenal relief was punctuated by a loud and heavy  sigh.  
He  noticed  that the assailant's shooting arm had  been  knocked 
upwards  by a quick moving Capital policeman who violently  threw 
himself  at  the turbanned man so hard that  they  both  careened 
forward to the edge of the balcony.  The policeman grabbed onto a 
bench  which  kept  him from plummeting twenty  feet  below.  His 
target  was hurtled over the edge and landed prone on two  wooden 
chairs which collapsed under the force.  The shooting stopped. 

Scott groaned from discomfort and pain as he slowly began to pull 
away  from Pierre.  Then he noticed the blood.  A lot  of  blood.  
He  looked down at himself to see that his white pullover  shirt, 
the one with Mickey Mouse instead of an alligator over the breast 
pocket, was wet with red.  As was his jacket.  His left hand  had 
been on the floor, in a pool of blood that was oozing out of  the 
back  of Pierre's head.  Scott tried to consciously  control  his 
physical  revulsion to the body beneath him and the  overwhelming 
urge to regurgitate. 

Then  Pierre's  body moved.  His chest heaved heavily  and  Scott 
pulled  himself  away completely.  Pierre had been  hit  with  at 
least  two bullets, one exiting from the front of his  chest  and 
one  stripping away a piece of skull exposing the  brain.   Grue-

"He's alive! Get a doctor!"  Scott shouted. He lifted himself  up 
to see over the tables.  The mad shuffle to the exits  continued.  
No one seemed to pay attention. 

"Hey!  Is there a doctor in the house?"  

Scott  looked down at Pierre and touched the veins in  his  neck.  
They  were  pulsing, but not with all of  life's  vigor.   "Hey," 
Scott said quietly, "you're gonna be all right.  We got a  doctor 
coming.   Don't worry.  Just hang in there."  Scott lied, but  40 
years of movies and television had preprogrammed the sentiments.

"Drtppheeough . . ." Scott heard Pierre gurgle.

"What?  What did you say?"  Scott leaned his ear down  closer  to 
Pierre's mouth.


"Take  it easy," Scott said to comfort the badly  injured  Pierre 

"Nooo  . . ." Pierre's limp body made a futile attempt  at  move-
ment.  Scott held him back.

"Hey,  Pierre . . .you don't mind if I call you  Pierre?"   Scott 
adapted a mock French accent.  

"Noo, DNGRAAAAPHJG . . ."  

"Good.   Why don't you just lay back and wait.  The doctor'll  be 
here in a second . . ."

"Sick . . ."  Pierre managed to get out one word.

"Sick?  Sick?  Yeah, yeah, you're sick,"  Scott agreed sympathet-

"DGRAF, sick."  The effort caused Pierre to pant quickly.

"Dgraf, sick?  What does that mean?"  Scott asked.

"Sick. DGraph sick."  Pierre's voice began to fade. "Sick.  Don't 
use it. Don't use . . ."

"What  do you mean don't use it?  DGraph?  Hey!"   Scott  lightly 
shook Pierre.  "You still with us?  C'mon, what'd you say?   Tell  
me again?  Sick?"

Pierre's body was still.

* * * * *

The bullshit put out by the Government was beyond belief, thought 
Miles.  How could they sit there and claim that all was well?  It 
was  common knowledge that computer security was dismal  at  best 
throughout  both  the civilian and military agencies.   With  the 
years  he  spent  at NSA he knew that security  was  a  political 
compromise and not a fiscal or technical reality.  And these guys 
lied  through their teeth.  Oh, well, he thought, that would  all 
change soon.

The report issued by the National Research Council in November of 
1990  concurred with Miles' assessment.  Security in the  govern-
ment  was a disaster, a laughable travesty if it weren't for  the 
danger  to national security.  The report castigated the  results 
of  decades of political in-fighting between  agencies  competing 
for survival and power.

He  and Perky spent the day watching the hearings at Miles'  high 
rise apartment.  They had become an item in certain circles  that 
Miles traveled and now they spent a great deal of time  together.  
After  several  on-again  off-again attempts  at  a  relationship 
consisting  of more than just sex,  they decided not to see  each 
other for over a year.  That was fine by Miles; he had missed the 
freedom of no commitments.  

At  an embassy Christmas party months later, they ran  into  each 
other and the old animal attraction between them was re-released.  
They spent the weekend in bed letting their hormones loose to run 
rampant on each other.  The two had been inseparable since.   She 
was  the first girl, woman, who was able to tolerate  Miles'  in-
flated egoand his constant need for emotional gratification.  

Perky  had  little idea, by design, of the work  that  Miles  was 
doing  for Homosoto.  She knew he was a computer  and  communica-
tions  wizard,  but that was all.  Prying was  not  her  concern.  
During  his angry outbursts venting  frustration with  Homosoto's 
pettiness,  Perky  supported him fully, unaware of  his  ultimate 

Perky found the testimony by Dr. Sternman to be educational;  she 
actually  began  to  understand some of  the  complicated  issues 
surrounding security and privacy.  In many ways it was scary, she 
told  Miles.  He agreed, saying if were up to him,  things  would 
get a lot worse before they get any better.  She responded to his 
ominous  comment with silence until Pierre Troubleaux  began  his 

As  well  known  as Bill Gates, as charismatic  as  Steve  Jobs, 
Pierre  Troubleaux  was  regarded as a sexy,  rich  and  eligible 
bachelor   ready  for  the taking.  Stephanie  Perkins  was  more 
stirred  by  his appearance and bearing than his  words,  so  she 
joined  Miles  in rapt attention to watch his  orations  on  live 

When  the first shot rang out their stunned confusion echoed  the 
camera's erratic framing.  As the second shot came across the TV, 
Perky  sprang up and shouted, "No!"  Tears dripped from the  cor-
ners of her eyes.

"Miles! What's happening?  They're shooting him . . ." 

"I  don't know ."  A third shot and then the image of  Scott  and 
Pierre crumbling.   "Holy shit, it's an assassination!"

"Miles, what's going on here?"  Stephanie cried.

"This  is fucking nuts . . .he's killing him . . ." Miles  stared 
at  the  screen and spoke in a dull monotone.  "I  can't  believe 
this is happening, it's not part of the plan . . ."

"Miles,  Miles!"   She screamed, desperately trying  to  get  his 
attention.  "Who? Miles! Who's killing him?  What plan?"  

"Fucking Homosoto, that yellow skinned prick . . ."

"Homosoto?"  She stopped  upon hearing the name.

Miles leapt up from the couch and raced over to the corner of the 
room  with  his  computers.  He pounced on the  keyboard  of  the 
NipCom  computer and told it to dial Homosoto's number in  Japan.  
That son of a bitch better be there.  Answer, damn it.



The  delay seemed interminable as Miles waited for him to get  on 
line.  Perky followed him over to the computer and watched as  he 
made contact.  She knew that Miles and Homosoto spoke often  over 
the  computer,  too often for Miles' taste.  Homosoto  whined  to 
Miles  almost  every day, about one thing or another,  and  Miles 
complained to her about how irritating his childish  interference 
was.  But throughout it all, Perky had never been privy to  their 
conversations.   She had stayed her distance, until this time.  

Miles had been in rages before; she had become unwillingly accus-
tomed  to his furious outbursts.  Generally they  were  unfocused 
eruptions; a sophomoric way of releasing pent up energy and frus-
tration.  But this time, Miles' face clearly showed fear.  Steph-
anie saw the dread.  "Miles!  What does Homosoto have to do  with 
this?  Miles, please!"  She pleaded with him to include her.  The 
screen finally responded.


You imperial mother fucker.  


You're a fucking murderer.


Take  exception  to this, Jack!  What the hell did you  kill  him 


Aren't we the Einstein of Sushi land.


You killed him! Why?

Stephanie  read the monitor and wept quietly as the  conversation 
scrolled before her.  She placed her hands on Miles' shoulders in 
an effort to feel less alone. 


So you killed him?


It is not necessary to kill anyone.  Nowhere in the plan does  it 
call for murder!  That was part of our deal.


The wind blows up your ass! 


What the hell does he know?


DGraph?   That's impossible. That's the most popular  program  in 
the world.  How did you infect it?


You own dGraph?  I thought that Data Tech owned them.


And Troubleaux knows?


So you try to kill him?


Yes, secrecy, but not murder.  I can't be part of that. 


It had damn well better be.  



"Son of a bitch," Miles said out loud.  "Son of a bitch."

"What's  going on?  Miles?" Perky followed him back to the  couch 
in  front of the TV and sat close with her arm around  him.   She 
was still crying softly.

"It's gonna start. That's amazing."  He blankly stared forward. 

"What's gonna start?  Miles, did you kill someone?"

"Oh, no!" He turned to her in sincerity.  "That bastard  Homosoto 
did.  Jesus, I can't believe it."

"What are you involved in? I thought you were a consultant."

"I was.  Tomorrow I will be a very rich retired consultant."   He 
pulled her hands into his and spoke warmly.  "Listen, it's better 
that your don't know what's going on, much better.  But I promise 
you,   I  promise  you, that Homosoto is behind it,  not  me.   I 
couldn't ever kill anyone.  You need to believe that."

"Miles, I do, but you seem to know more than . . ."

"I  do,  and  I can't say anything.  Trust me,"  he  said  as  he 
brought her close to him.  "This will all work out for the  best.  
I promise you. Look at me," he said and pulled up her chin so she 
gazed  directly into his eyes.   "I have a lot invested  in  you, 
and this project.  More than you could ever know, and now that it 
is  nearly  over, I can put more time into you.  After  all,  you 
bear  some of the responsibility."  Miles' loving attitude was  a 
contradiction from his usual self centered pre-occupation.

"Me?"  She asked.

"Who got me involved with Homosoto in the first place?"  he  said 
glaring at her.

"I guess I did, but . . ."

"I  know, I'm kidding," he said squeezing her closer.   "I'm  not 
blaming  you  for  anything.  I didn't know he  could  resort  to 
murder,  and if I did, I never would have gotten involved in  the 
first place."

"Miles,  I love you."  That was the first time in their years  of 
on-again  off-again contact that she told him how she felt.   Now 
she had to decide if she would tell him that he was just  another 
assignment, and that in all likelihood she had just lost her job, 
too.  "I really do love you."

* * * * *

"The  last  goddamned time this happened was in the  1950's  when 
Puerto  Rican  revolutionaries started a shoot-em-up in  the  old 
gallery," the President shouted.  

Phil  Musgrave and Quinton Chambers listened to the angry  Presi-
dent.    His tirade began minutes after he summoned them both  to 
his office.   They were as frustrated and upset as he was, but it 
was their job to listen until the President had blown off  enough 

"I  am  well aware a democracy, a true democracy  is  subject  to 
extremist activists, but," the President sighed, "this is getting 
entirely out of hand.  What is it about this computer stuff  that 
stirs up so much emotion?"  He waited for an answer.

"I'm  not  sure  that computers are to blame,  sir,"  said  Phil.  
"First  of all, the assailant used a ceramic pistol.  No way  for 
our  security  to detect it without a physical  search  and  that 
wouldn't  go over well with anyone."  The brilliant Musgrave  was 
making  a  case  for calm rationality in the light  of  the  live 
assassination  attempt.  "Second, at this point there is no  con-
nection between Troubleaux and his attacker.  We're not even 100% 
sure that Troubleaux was the target."

"That's a crock Phil," asserted the President.  "It doesn't  take 
a  genius to figure out that there is an obvious  connection  be-
tween  this computer crap and the Rickfield incident. I  want  to 
know what it is, and I want to know fast."

"Sir,"  Chambers  said  quietly.  "We have the FBI  and  the  CIA 
investigating,  but until the perpetrator regains  consciousness, 
which may be doubtful because his spine was snapped in the  fall, 
we won't know too much."

The President frowned.  "Does it seem odd to you that Mason,  the 
Times reporter was there with Troubleaux at the exact time he got 

"No  sir, just a coincidence.  It seems that computer  crime  has 
been his hot button for a while," Musgrave said.  "I don't  think 
he's involved at all."

"I'm  not suggesting that," the President interrupted.   "But  he 
does seem to be where the action is.  I think it would be prudent 
if we knew a bit more of his activities.  Do I need to say more?"

"No sir.  Consider it done."


                    Chapter 22

     Friday, January 8 
     Washington, D.C.

It seemed that everyone in the world wanted to speak to Scott  at 
once. The FBI spent an hour asking him inane questions.  "Why did 
you  help him?"  "Do you know Troubleaux?"  "Why were you at  the 
hearings?"   "Why  didn't you sit with the rest  of  the  press?"  
"Where's your camera?"  "Can we read your notes?"

Scott  was cooperative, but he had his limits.  "You're  the  one 
who's been writing those computer stories, aren't you?"   "What's 
in this for you?"  

Scott  excused himself, not so politely. If you want me for  any-
thing else, please contact the paper, he told the FBI agents  who 
had learned nothing from anyone else either.

He  escaped  from other reporters who wanted his  reporter's  in-
sight, thus learning what it was like to be hounded  relentlessly 
by  the  press.   Damned pain in the ass, he  thought,  and  damn 
stupid  questions.   "How  did  you feel  .  .  .?"    "Were  you 
scared . . .?"  "Why did you . . .?"

The  exhausted Scott found the only available solace in  a  third 
floor  men's room stall where he wrote a piece for the  paper  on 
his  GRiD laptop computer.  Nearly falling asleep on  the  toilet 
seat,  he temporarily refreshed himself with ice cold water  from 
the tap and changed from his bloodsoaked clothes into fresh jeans 
and a pullover from his hanging bag that still burdoned him.  One 
reporter  from the Washington Post thought himself lucky to  have 
found Scott in the men's room, but when Scott finished bombasting 
him with his own verbal  assault, the shell shocked reporter left 
well enough alone.

After  the  Capital  police were through  questioning  Scott,  he 
wanted  to make a swift exit to the airport and get  home.   They 
didn't  detain  him very long, realizing Scott  would  always  be 
available.   Especially since this was news. His  pocket  shuttle 
schedule  showed there was a 6:30 flight to Westchester  Airport; 
he  could then grab a limo home and be in bed by ten, that is  if 
the exhaustion didn't take over somewhere along the way.

Three  days in Europe on next to no sleep.  Rush back  to  public 
Senate  hearings  that no one has ever heard  about.   Television 
cameras  appear,  no one admits to calling the press,  and  then, 
Pierre.  He needed time to think, alone.  Away from the conflict-
ing  influences that were tearing at him.

On one hand his paper expected him to report and investigate  the 
news.   On another, Tyrone wanted help on his  investigation  be-
cause  official  Washington had turned their backs on  him.   And 
Spook.  Spook.  Why is that so familiar? Then he had to be honest 
with  his own feelings.  What about this story had so  captivated 
him  that  he  had let many of his other assignments  go  by  the 

Doug  was pleased with Scott's progress, and after  today,  well, 
what  editor wouldn't be pleased to have a potential star  writer 
on  the  National news.   But Scott was drowning  in  the  story.  
There  were  too many pieces, from every  conceivable  direction, 
with  none too many of them fitting neatly together.  He  thought 
of the ever determined  Hurcule Poirot, Agatha Christie's  detec-
tive,  recalling  that the answers to a  puzzle  came  infinitely 
easier to the fictional sleuth than to him.  

Scott called into Doug.

"Are you all right?" Doug asked with concern but didn't wait  for 
an  answer.  "I got your message.  Next time call me at home.   I 
thought you were going to be in Europe till Wednesday."

"Hold your horses," Scott said with agitation.  Doug shut up  and 
listened to the distraught Scott.  "I have the story all  written 
for you.  Both of them are going into surgery and the Arab is  in 
pretty bad shape.  The committee made itself scarce real fast and 
there's no one else to talk to.  I've had to make a career out of 
avoiding reporters.  Seems like I'm the only one left with  noth-
ing to say."  Doug heard the exhaustion in Scott's voice.

"Listen," Doug said with a supportive tone.  "You've been doing a 
bang up job, but I'm sending Ben down there to cover the assassi-
nation attempt.  I want you to go to bed for 24 hours and  that's 
an order.  I don't want to hear from you till Monday."

Scott  gratefully acknowledged Doug's edict, and might have  sug-
gested  it himself if it weren't for his dedication to the  story 
he had spent months on already.  "O.K.," Scott agreed.  "I  guess 
not much will happen . . ."

"That's  right.  I want you fresh anyway," Doug said with  vigor.  
"If  anything  major comes up, I'll see that we call  you.   Fair 

Scott checked his watch as his cab got caught up in the slow late 
afternoon rush hour traffic on the George Washington Parkway.  If 
he  missed this flight, he thought, there was another one  in  an 
hour.   The pandemonium of Friday afternoon National Airport  had 
become  legendary.  Despite extensive new  construction,  express 
services and modernized terminals, the airport designers in their 
infinite  wisdom had neglected in any way to improve the flow  of 
automobile traffic in and out of the airport.

As they approached, Scott could see the American terminal several 
hundred  yards  away  from his cab.  They were  stuck  behind  an 
interminable  line  of other taxis, limousines,  cars  and  mini-
busses that had been stacking for ten minutes.  Scott decided  to 
hike the last few yards and he paid the driver who tried to  talk 
him into remaining till the ride was over.  Scott weaved  through 
the standstill traffic jam until he saw the problem.  So typical. 
A stretch Mercedes 560, was blocking the only two lanes that were 
passable.  Worse yet, there was no one in the car.  No driver, no 
passengers.  Several airport police were discussing their options 
when a tall, slender black man, dressed in an impeccably tailored 
brown suit came rushing from the terminal doors.

"Diplomatic  immunity!" He called out with a  thick,  overbearing 
Cambridge accent.

The  startled  policemen saw the man push several people  to  the 
side,  almost  knocking one elderly woman to the  ground.   Scott 
reached the Mercedes and stayed to watch the upcoming encounter 

"I  said, Diplomatic immunity,"  he said  authoritatively.   "Put 
your tickets away."

"Sir,  are you aware that your car has been blocking  other  cars 
from . . ." 

"Take it up with the Embassy," the man said as he roughly  opened 
the driver's door. "This car belongs to the Ambassador and he  is 
immune from your laws."  He shut the door, revved the engine  and 
pulled  out squealing his tires.  Several pedestrians had  to  be 
fleet of foot to miss being sideswiped. 

"Fucking camel jockeys," said one younger policeman.

"He's from equatorial Africa, Einstein," said another.

"It's all the same to me.  Foreigners telling us how to live  our 
lives," the third policeman said angrily.

"You  know,  I can get 10 days for spitting on  the  ground,  but 
these assholes can commit murder and be sent home a hero.  It's a 
fucking crime," the younger one agreed.

"O.K.,  guys, leave the politics to the thieves on Capital  Hill.  
Let's get this traffic moving," the senior policeman said as they 
started the process of untangling airport gridlock.

Another  day in the nation's capital, Scott thought.   A  melting 
pot  that  echoed  the days of Ellis Island.  Scott  carried  his 
briefcase,  laptop computer  and garment bag through the  crowded 
terminal  and made a left to the men's room next to the new  blue 
neon  bar.   Drinks were poured especially fast in  the  National 
Airport Bar.  Fliers were traveling on such tight schedules  that 
they  had to run to the bar, grab two quick ones and dash to  the 
gate.  The new security regulations placed additional premiums on 
drinking  time.  The bar accommodated their hurried  needs  well.  
Scott  put down his baggage next to the luggage pile and stole  a 
bar  seat  from a patron rushing off to catch his  flight.    One 
helluva chaotic day.  He ordered a beer, and sucked down half  of 
it  at  once.  The thirst quenching was  a  superior  experience.  
Brain dulling would take a little longer.

The clamorous rumble of the crowd and the television blaring from 
behind  the  bar further anesthetized Scott's  racing  mind.   He 
finally  found  himself engrossed in the  television,  blissfully 
ignorant of all going on around him.  Scott became so absorbed in 
the local news that he didn't notice the striking blonde sit next 
to  him.  She ordered  a white wine and made herself  comfortable 
on the oversized stool.

Scott  turned to the bartender and asked for another beer  during 
the  commercial.  It was then he noticed the gorgeous woman  next 
to him and her golden shoulder length hair.  Lightly tanned  skin 
with  delicate crow's feet at the edges of her  penetrating  blue 
eyes gave no indication of her age.  An old twenty to a  remarka-
ble forty five.  Stunning, he thought.  Absolutely stunning.   He 
shook  the thought off and returned his attention to the  televi-

He  heard the announcer from Channel 4, the local NBC  affiliate.  
"Topping  tonight's  stories, Shooting at Senate  Hearing."   The 
picture  changed from the anchorman to a live feed  from  outside 
the  New  Senate  Office Building, where  Scott  had  just  been. 
"Bringing it to us live is Shauna Miller.  Shauna?"

"Thank  you  Bill,"  she said looking straight  into  the  camera 
holding the microphone close to her chin.  Behind her was a  bevy 
of police and emergency vehicles and their personnel in a  flurry 
of activity. 

"As  we first reported an hour ago, Pierre Troubleaux,  President 
of  dGraph, one of the nation's leading software  companies,  was 
critically  injured  while giving testimony to  the  Privacy  and 
Technology  Containment subcommittee.  At 3:15 Eastern  Time,  an 
unidentified assailant, using a 9mm Barretta, shot Mr. Troubleaux 
four times, from the visitor's balcony which overlooks the  hear-
ing room.  Mr. Troubleaux was  answering questions about . . . "

Scott's mind wandered back to the events of a few hours ago.   He 
still  had  no idea why he did it.  The television  replayed  the 
portion of the video tape where Pierre was testifying.  While  he 
spoke,  the shots rang out and the camera image suddenly  blurred 
in search of the source of the sound.  Briefly the gunman is seen 
and  then the picture swings back to Pierre being pushed  out  of 
his  chair by a man in a blue sports jacket and white shirt.   As 
two  more gun shots ring out the figure covers Pierre.  Two  more 
shots and the camera finally settles on Pierre Troubleaux  bleed-
ing profusely from the head, his eyes open and glazed. 

Scott shuddered at the broadcast.  It captured the essence of the 
moment, and the terror that he and the hundreds of others at  the 
hearing had experienced.  Shauna Miller reappeared.  

"And  we  have here the man who dove to Mr.  Troubleaux's  rescue 
when the shooting began." The camera angle pulled back and showed 
Scott standing next to the newswoman.

"This is Scott Mason, a reporter from the New York City Times who 
is  attending the hearings on behalf of his paper.   Scott,"  she 
turned away from the camera to speak directly to Scott. "How does 
it  feel being the news instead of reporting it?"  She stuck  the 
microphone into his face.

"Uh,"  Scott stammered.  What an assinine question,  he  thought.  
"It  does  give me a different perspective," he said,  his  voice 

"Yes,  I  would think so," Shauna added.  "Can you tell  us  what 

More  brilliance in broadcast journalism.  "Sure, be  happy  to." 
Scott  smiled at the camera.  "One of the country's finest  soft-
ware executives just had part of his head blown off so his brains 
could leak on my coat and the scumbag that shot him took a  sayo-
nara  swan dive that broke every bone in his body.  How's  that?"  
He said devilishly.

"Uh," Shauna hesitated.  "Very graphic."  This isn't Geraldo  she 
thought, just the local news.  "Do you have anything to add?" 

"Yeah?  I got to get some sleep."

The  camera zoomed into a closeup of Shauna Miller.  "Thank  you, 
Mr. Mason."  She brightened up.  "Mr. Troubleaux and the  alleged 
gunman  have been taken to Walter Reed Medical Center where  they 
are  undergoing surgery.  Both are listed in  critical  condition 
and  Mr.  Troubleaux is still in a coma."  Shauna droned  on  for 
another 30 seconds with filler nonsense.  How did she ever get on 
the air, Scott thought.  And, why does she remain?

"That was you."  

Scott  started  at the female voice.  He turned to the  left  and 
only  saw  salesmen  and male lobbyists  drinking  heartily.   He 
pivoted  in the other direction and came face to face with  Sonja 
Lindstrom.   "Sorry?"  

"That  was you," she said widening her smile to expose a  perfect 
Crest ad.

An  electric  tingle ran up Scott's legs and through  his  torso.  
The  pit of his stomach felt suddenly empty.  He gulped  silently 
and his face reddened.  "What was me?"

She  pointed  at the television.  "That was you  at  the  hearing 
today, where Troubleaux got shot."  

"Yeah, 'fraid so," he said. 

"The  camera treats you well.  I was at the hearing, too,  but  I 
just figured out who you were."  Her earnest compliment came as a 
surprise to Scott. He raised his eyebrows in bewilderment. 

"Who I am?"  He questioned.

"Oh,  sorry," she extended her hand to Scott.  "I'm  Sonja  Lind-
strom.   I gather you're Scott Mason."  He gently took  her  hand 
and  a rush of electricity rippled up his arm till the  hairs  on 
the back of his neck stood on end.  

"Guilty  as charged," he responded.  He pointed his thumb at  the 
television.  "Great interview, huh?"

"She epitomizes the stereotype of the dumb blond."  Sonja  turned  
her head slightly.  "I hope you're not prejudiced?"


She  picked  up  her wine glass and  sipped  gingerly.   "Against 

"No, no. I was married to one,"  he admitted.  "But, I won't hold 
that  against you."  Scott wasn't aggressive with women  and  his 
remark surprised even him.  Sonja laughed appreciatively.

"It  must have been rough," Sonja said empathetically.   "I  mean 
the blood and all."

"Not exactly my cup of tea.  I don't do the morgue shift."  Scott 
shuddered.  "I'll stick to computers, not nearly so adventurous."

"And  hacker bashing." she said firmly.  She took another sip  of 

"How would you know that?" Scott asked.

She turned and smiled at Scott.  "You're famous.  You're known as 
the  Hacker  Smacker by quite a few in the computer  field.   Not 
everyone  appreciates  what  you have to say."   Sonja,  ever  so 
politely, challenged Scott.   

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," he smirked. 

"That's  the  spirit," she encouraged.  "Not that  I  agree  with 
everything you have to say."

"I assume you have read my drivel upon occasion."

"Upon occasion, yes," she said with a coy sweetness.

"So,  since you know so much about me, I stand at a clear  disad-
vantage.  I only know you as Sonja."  

"You're  right.  That's not fair at all."  She straightened  her-
self  on the bar stool.  "Sonja Lindstrom, dual citizenship  U.S. 
and  Denmark.  Born May 11, 1964, Copenhagen.  Moved here when  I 
was two.  Studied political science at George Washington, minored 
in sociology.  Currently a public relations consultant to comput-
er jocks.  I live in D.C. but I'm rarely here."

"Lucky for me," Scott ventured. 

Sonja  didn't answer him as she slowly drained the bottom of  her 
wine  glass.  She glanced slyly at him, or was that his  imagina-

"Can a girl buy a guy a drink?"

The  clock said there was fifteen minutes before  Scott's  flight 
took off.  No contest.

"I'd be honored," Scott said as he nodded his head in gratitude. 

Sonja  Lindstrom bought the next two rounds and they talked.   No 
serious  talk, just carefree, sometimes meaningless  banter  that 
made them laugh and relish the moment.   Scott didn't know he had 
missed his second flight until it was time for the 8:15 plane  to 
LaGuardia.   It had been entirely too long. Longer than he  cared 
to remember since he had relaxed, disarmed himself near a  woman.  
There was an inherent  distrust, fear of betrayal, that Scott had 
not released, until now. 

"So, about your wife," she asked after a lull in their  conversa-

"My wife?"  Scott shrank back.

"Humor me," she said.

"Nothing against her, it just didn't work out."

"What happened?"  Sonja pursued.

"She was an artist, a sculptor.  And if I say so myself, an awful 
one.  A three year old could do as well with stale Play-Dough."

"You're a critic, too?"  Sonja bemused.

"Only  of  her art.  She got into the social scene in  New  York, 
gallery  openings,  the  she-she sect.  You know  what  I  mean?"  
Sonja  nodded. "So, when I decided to make a career shift,  well, 
she wasn't in complete agreement with me.  Even though in 8 years 
she had never sold one single piece of art, she was convinced, by 
her  socialite pals, that her work was  extraordinarily  original 
and  would  become, without any doubt, the next Pet Rock  of  the 


"So,  she gets the bug to go to the Coast and make her  mark.   I 
think  some  of her Park Avenue pals went to  Beverly  Hills  and 
wanted her to come out to be their entertainment. She expected me 
to follow her hallucinations, but I just couldn't play that part. 
She's a little left of the Milky Way for me."

"How long has it been?"  Sonja asked with warmth. 

"Three years now."

"So, what have these years been like?"

"Oh,  fine,"  he said. Sonja gave him a disbelieving dirty  look.  
"O.K., kinda lonely.  I'm not complaining, mind you, but when she 
was there, no matter how inane our conversations were, not matter 
how  far out in the stratosphere her mind was, at least  she  was 
someone to talk to, someone to come home to.  She's a sweet girl, 
I  loved  her, but she had needs that . . .well.  It  wasn't  all 
bad, we had a great few years.  I just couldn't let her  madness, 
harmless  though  it was, run my life.  We're still  friends,  we 
talk fairly often.  I hope she becomes the next Dali."

"That's very gracious of you,"  Sonja said sincerely.

"Not  really.  I really feel that way.  It's her life,  and,  she 
never  wanted  or tried to hurt me.  She was just  following  her 

"Has she sold any of her art?"  Sonja asked.

"It's on perpetual display, she says," Scott said.

"Why don't you buy one?  To make her feel good?"

"Ha!   She feels fine.  Beverly Hills is not the worst  place  in 
the  world  to be accepted."  He lost himself in  thought  for  a 
moment.  "I think it has worked out for both of us." 

"Except, you're lonely," she came back. 

"I got into my work.  A career shift at my age, you know, I had a 
lot to learn.  So, I've really put myself into the job, and  I've 
been  getting a lot out of it."  He stared at the gorgeous  woman 
to whom he had been telling his personal feelings.  "But, yes,  I 
do miss the companionship," he hinted.

The  clock over the bar announced it was quarter to  ten.  "Hey." 
Scott turned to face Sonja squarely. "I gotta go, you don't  know 
how  much I don't want to, but I gotta."  He spoke with a  pained 

"No you don't," she said exuberantly.


Sonja's  entire  face  glowed .  "Have  you  ever  done  anything 

"Sure, of course," Scott nonchalantly said.

"No,  I mean really crazy.  Totally off the wall.   Spontaneous."  
She  grabbed Scott's shoulders.  "Haven't you ever wanted  to  go 
off  the deep end and not care what anybody thinks?"  Scott  felt 
himself  getting  captured by her exuberance.    This  absolutely 
stunning blonde bombshell exuded enough sexual enthusiasm for the 
entire NFL, and yet, he was playing it cool.  He wondered why.

"I was a real hell raiser as a kid . . ."

"Listen, Scott." Her demeanor turned serious. "Are you willing to 
do something outrageous right now?  And go through with it?"

Here was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen  asking 
him to make a borderline insane promise.  Her painted lips  broke 
into a lush smile. Ten minutes to the last flight.

"I'm game.  What is it?" Scott played along.  He could always say 
no.  Right?

"Wait  here a minute." Sonja grabbed her purse and dashed out  of 
the bar.  Scott's eyes followed her in stunned amazement.

Scott  finished  his beer and the clock indicated that  the  last 
flight to New York had left.  He wondered what was keeping  Sonja 
so long, and then she suddenly whisked back into the bar. 

"C'mon,  we have to hurry." Sonja shuffled papers in and  out  of 
her  purse.   She threw enough money on the bar  to  cover  their 

Scott scooted off of his bar stool laughing.  "Hurry? Where're we 

"Shhhh,  get  your bags," Sonja said urgently.  "You  do  have  a 
passport don't you?" She asked with concern.

"I  just  came from Europe, yeah."  His  bewilderment  was  clear 
while he retrieved his luggage.

"Good. Follow me."

Sonja  dashed  through the terminal to the  security  check  with 
Scott  struggling to keep up.  The view of her  exquisite  figure 
was noticed by more than just Scott, but she left him little time 
to relish the view.  She tossed her purse on the conveyor belt as 
a  dazed Scott struggled with his own two bags.  She darted  from 
the  security station leaving Mason to reorganize  himself.   His 
ability to run was encumbered by his luggage so he watched  care-
fully to see into which gate she was headed. 

Gate, gate?  Where am I going? And why? He would have laughed  if 
he wasn't out of breath from wind sprinting through the  airport.  
He followed Sonja into Gate 3.

She handed a couple of tickets to the attendant.  "We're the last 
ones, hurry up, Mason," Sonja giggled.

"Where are we going . . .where did the tickets . . .how are you?"  
Scott stumbled through his thoughts.

"Just  get  on the plane.  We'll talk." She held  out  her  hand, 
beckoning him seductively.  

The  attractive flight attendant stared at Scott.  His  hesitancy 
was holding up the flight. He looked at Sonja.  "This is insane," 
he said quietly.

"So it is."

"Where?  I mean where is this plane headed?"

"Jamaica," she beamed.

"Oh,  Sonja,  come  on, this isn't real."  Why the  hell  was  he 
trying to talk himself out of a fantasy in the making.

"I'm  getting on.  I need a weekend to cool out, and I  know  you 
do.   After  what happened."  Sonja took the  separated  boarding 
pass and looked back once before she left. Scott stood still.  He 
stared as Sonja disappeared down the tunnel to the plane.

The  flight attendant appeared quite annoyed.  "Well, are you  or 
aren't you?" 

Scott reasoned that if he reasoned out the pros and the cons  the 
plane  would be gone regardless of his decision.  "Fuck  it,"  he 
said and he walked briskly down the ramp.

He entered the Airbus behind the cockpit and turned right to find 
Sonja.  It didn't take long.  She was the only person sitting  in 
first  class.   "Fancy running into you here,"  she  said  waving 
from the plush leather seat. 

"Quite," he said in his well practiced West London accent.  "Dare 
I  guess  how long it's been?"  He placed his bags in  the  empty 
first class storage compartment.  

"Too long.  Much too long. You had me worried," Sonja said  melo-

"I still have me worried."

"I thought you might chicken out," she said.

"I still might."

The three hour flight was replete with champagne, brie and  simi-
lar  delicacies.  They munched and sipped to their  heart's  con-
tent.  One flight attendant, two passengers.  Light talk, innocu-
ous  flirtations, not so innocuous flirtations, more  chatting  - 
time passed, hours disguised as seconds. 

Half  Moon Bay is a one hour cab ride from the airport and,  true 
to  Jamaican hospitality, the hotel staff expected  them.    They 
were led to two adjoining rooms after being served the obligatory 
white  rum  punch with a yellow umbrella.  It was  nearly  3  AM.  
Scott was working on 60  hours with little or no sleep.

"Scott?" Sonja asked as they prepared to go into their respective 

"Yes," he said.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For tomorrow night."

After four hours sleep, Sonja knocked on Scott's door.  "Rise and 
shine!  Beach time!"

Scott  swore to himself, looked at the clock on the night  stand, 
and then swore again.  Ugh!  Scott forced himself out of bed  and 
opened the door.  The vision of Sonja Lindstrom in a bathing suit 
that used no more than 4 square inches of material was  instantly 
arousing.   Despite  39 plus years of  morning  aversions,  Scott 
readied  himself  at breakneck speed, thinking that  reality  and 
fantasy were often inseparable.  The question was, what was this?  
Was  he really in the Caribbean? No!, he thought.  This is  real!  
Holy shit, this is real.  I wasn't as drunk as I thought. Intoxi-
cation takes many forms, and this appears to be a delicious wine.  
During  breakfast she managed to talk him into going to the  nude 
beach, about a half mile down Half Moon Bay.

"God,  you're uptight," she said as she shed her g-string on  the  
isolated  pristine  coastline.  She was a natural  blond  with  a 
dancer's body where the legs and buttocks merge into one.  

"I am not!"  He defended.

"I  bet  you  can't take them off.  For  personal  reasons,"  she 
laughed out loud pointing at the baggy swim suit he borrowed from 
the  resort.  She lay down on her back, perfectly formed  breasts 
pointing  at  the sky.  Scott noticed only the  faintest  of  tan 
lines several inches below her belly button.  She patted the huge 
towel,  inviting  Scott to join her.  There was room  enough  for 

"Well,"  he agreed.  "It might prove embarrassing.  I thought  my 
intentions were honorable."

"Bull.   Neither are mine."  She arched her back and  patted  the 
towel again.

"Fuck it," he said laughingly as he dropped his bathing suit  and 
dropped  quickly,  facedown  next to Sonja.   "Ouch!"  He  yelled 
louder  than the hurt was worth.  "I hate it when that  happens," 
he said checking to make sure that the pieces were still intact.

They  spent the next two days exploring Half Moon Bay,  the  lush 
green hills behind the resort and each other.  Scott forgot about 
work,  forgot about the hackers, forgot about Tyrone.   He  never 
thought about Kirk, Spook, or any of the blackmail schemes he was 
so  caught up in investigating.  And, he forgot, at least  tempo-
rarily  about the incident with Pierre.  The world  consisted  of 
only  two people, mutually radiating a glow flush  with  passion; 
retreating into each other so totally that no imaginable distrac-
tion could disturb their urgings.

They slept no more than an hour all Saturday night, "I told you I 
wanted to thank you for tomorrow night!"  she said.  They made it 
to  the  water's  edge early Sunday morning.   Scott's  body  was 
redder in some places than it had ever been, and Sonja's tan line 
all but disappeared. They both knew that the fantasy was going to 
be  over  in the morning, a 7:00 AM flight back to  reality,  but 
neither spoke of it.  The Here and Now was the only reality  that 
they wanted to face.

"I'm  impressed," Sonja said turning to face Scott on  the  beach 
towel.   No matter in which direction she turned, her body  stood 
tall and firm.

"Impressed, with what?" Scott giggled.

"I had two days to loosen you up before you went back to that big 
bad city.  I'm ahead of schedule."

"What schedule?"

"Scott, we need to talk."  Sonja reached over and touched Scott's 
shoulder.  He couldn't take his eyes off of her magnificent  nude 
figure.   "Did you ever work on something, for a very long  time; 
really get yourself involved, dedicated, and then find out in was 
all for the wrong reasons?  That's how I feel now."

* * * * *

     Saturday, January 10

It is not uncommon for the day employees at the CIA in Langley to 
arrive at their desks before 6:00 AM.  Even on a Saturday. Today, 
Martin  Templer  arrived early to prepare for an  update  meeting 
with the director.  Nothing special, just the weekly report.   He 
found  that  he  could get  more done early in  the  morning.  He 
enjoyed  the time alone in his quiet office so he could  complete 
the  report without constant interruption.  Not  fifteen  minutes 
into his report, his phone rang.  Damn, he thought, it's starting 

"Yeah?" Templer said gruffly into the mouthpiece.


"Yeah, who's this?"


Templer  had almost forgotten about their meeting.   "Will  small 
wonders never cease.  Where have you been?"

"Still  in Europe. I've been looking for some answers as we  dis-

"Great! What have you got?"  Templer grabbed a legal pad.

"Nothing,"  Alex said with finality.  "Nothing.  Nobody knows  of 
any such operation, not even a hint."  Alex had mastered the  art 
of  lying twenty years ago.  "But I'll tell you," he  added,   "I 
think that you may be on to something."

"If  there's nothing, how can there be something?"  asked  Martin 

This  was  Alex's opportunity to throw the CIA  further  off  the 
track.  Since he and Martin were friends, as much  as is possible 
in  this line of work, Alex counted on being believed,  at  least 
for  a while.  "Everybody denies any activity and that in  itself 
is unusual.  Even if nothing is happening, enough of the snitches 
on  the  street will claim to be involved to  bolster  their  own 
credibility.   However,  my friend, I doubt a handful  even  know 
about your radiation, but it has gotten a lot of people thinking.  
I  get the feeling that if they didn't know about your  problems, 
they will soon enough.  I wish I could be of further help, but it 
was all dead ends."

"I  understand. It happens; besides it was a long  shot,"  Martin 
sighed.  "Do me a favor, and keep your eyes and ears open."

"I will, and this one is on the house," said Alex.  

After  he hung up something struck Martin as terribly wrong.   In 
twenty years Alex had never, ever, done anything for free.  Being 
a true mercenary, it wasn't in his character to offer  assistance 
to  anyone without sufficient motivation, and that  meant  money.  
Martin  noted the event, and reminded himself to include that  in 
his report to the Director.

* * * * *

The television coverage of the Senate hearings left Taki Homosoto 
with radically different emotions.  He had to deal with them both 

     DIALING . . . 


Ahmed  Shah  heard his communications computer beep at  him.   He 
pushed the joystick control on his wheelchair and steered over to 
read Homosoto's message.  



Some things cannot be helped.


It was a difficult hit.


I do not work for Arafat.


Yes, fortunately.


He is in a coma.


It will be done.  I promise you.


Yes, it will be done.



Homosoto  dialed his computer again, to a number inside  Germany.  
The  encryption  and privacy keys were automatically  set  before 
Alex Spiradon's computer answered.  To Homosoto's surprise,  Alex 
was there.




He has many reasons to.


We  merely gave him the incentive to cooperate.  I do not  expect 
that he will maintain his position for very long.


He  took  a small beating from a couple of  papers,  but  nothing 
damaging.  It's the way Washington works.


I don't think so.  Between her and Rickfield, the sum total  will 
be a big zero.  There will be confusion and dissension.  I  think 
it works in our favor.  


Next  week.   One other thing.  You asked that I  get  to  Scott.  
Consider  it done.  You found a most attractive weakness  and  he 
succumbed  instantly.   But, I should say, I don't think  it  was 
necessary.  He is doing fine on his own.


We have a conduit.



* * * * *

     Sunday, January 10
     New York City Times

     What's wrong with Ford?
     by Scott Mason

Ford is facing the worst public relations disaster for an automo-
bile manufacturer since the Audi acceleration problem made inter-
national news.

Last  month in Los Angeles alone, over 1200 Ford Taurus and  Mer-
cury  Sable cars experienced a total breakdown of the  electrical 
system.   Radios  as well as anti-skid braking controls  and  all 
other  computer  controlled functions in the  automobiles  ceased 

To  date,  no deaths have been attributed to the  car's  epidemic 

Due  to the notoriety and questions regarding the safety  of  the 
cars, sales of Taurus's have plummeted by almost 80%.  Unlike the 
similar  Audi  situation where the alleged problem was  found  in  
only  a few isolated cases, the Taurus failures have  been  wide-
spread and catastrophically sudden.

According  to  Ford,  "There has never been a  problem  with  the 
Taurus  electronics' system.  We are examining all  possibilities 
in determining the real cause of the apparant failures."

What else can Ford say?

* * * * *

     Chrysler Struck by Ford Failures
     by Scott Mason

Chrysler  cars and mini-vans have been experiencing sudden  elec-
trical malfunctions . . .

* * * * *

     Mercedes Electrical Systems Follow Ford
     by Scott Mason

Mercedes  owners have already organized a legal entity  to  force 
the  manufacturer to find answers as to why so many Mercedes  are 
having sudden electrical failures.  Following in the footsteps of 
Ford  and Chrysler, this is the first time that Mercedes has  not 
issued  an  immediate  'Fix' to its dealer.   Three  deaths  were 
reported when . . .

* * * * * 

     Sunday January 10
     National Security Agency 

"What do you make of this Mason piece?"  

"I'd  like to know where the hell he gets his information,"  said 
the aide.  "That's what I make of it."

"Someone's obviously leaking it to him," Marvin Jacobs,  Director 
of the National Security Agency, said to his senior aid.   "Some-
one with access to a great deal of sensitive data."  The  disdain 
in his voice was unmistakable. 

Even  though it was Sunday, it was not unusual for him to  be  at 
his office.  His more private endeavors could be more  discreetly 
pursued.   A three decade career at the Agency had culminated  in 
his  appointment to the Directorship, a position he had eyed  for 

"We  have  specialists who use HERF technology," the  aide  said.  
"It's more or less a highly focused computer-gun.  An RF field on 
the  order of 200 volts per meter is sufficient to  destroy  most 
electrical  circuits.   Literally blow them up  from  the  inside 

"Spare me the details."

"Sir,  we can stop a car from a thousand yards by pointing  elec-
tricity at  it."

"I don't really care about the details."

"You should, sir. There's a point to this . . ."

"Well, get on with it."  Jacobs was clearly annoyed. 

"Unlike  the EMP-T technology which is very expensive and on  the 
absolute edge of our capabilities . . ."

"And someone elses . . ."

"Granted,"  the aide said, sounding irritated with  the  constant 
interruptions.  "But HERF can be generated cheaply by anyone with 
an  elementary  knowledge of electronics.   The  government  even 
sells surplus radio equipment that will do the job quite nicely."  

Jacobs smiled briefly. 

"You look pleased," the aide said with surprise.

Jacobs hid his pleasure behind a more serious countenance.   "Oh, 
no,  it's just the irony of it all.  We've been warning them  for 
years and now it's happening."

"Who, sir?"

"Never  mind,"  Jacobs said, dismissing the thought  momentarily. 
"Go on."

Jacobs arrogantly leaned back in his executive chair, closed  his 
eyes  and folded his hands over his barrel chest.  This  was  his 
way of telling subordinates to talk, spill their guts.

"The  real worry about cheap HERF is what it can do in the  wrong 
hands."   The  aide  obliged the ritual.   "One  transmitter  and 
antenna  in  a small truck can wipe out every  computer  on  main 
street during a leisurely drive.  Cash registers, electric  type-
writers, alarms, phones, traffic lights . . .anything  electronic 
a HERF is pointed at, Poof! Good as dead.  What if someone used a 
HERF gun at an airport, pointing up?  Or at the tower? From up to 
a distance of over a kilometer, too.  Ten kilometers with  better 

"So  it  works," muttered Jacobs so softly under his  breath  his 
aide didn't hear. 

"It's  reminiscent of drive-by shootings by organized crime.   In 
this case, though, the target is slightly different."

"I  see."   Jacobs  kept his eyes closed as  the  aide  patiently 
waited  for his boss to say something or allow him to  return  to 
his family.  "I gather we use similar tools ourselves?"

"Yessir.  Very popular technique. Better kept quiet."

"Not any more.  Not any more."


                         Chapter 23

     Monday, January 11
     Washington, D.C.

I  don't  think you're gonna be pleased," Phil Musgrave  said  at 
their  early  morning conclave, before the President's  busy  day 

"What else is new?" asked the President acerbically.  "Why should 
I  have an easy today any more than any other day?"  His dry  wit 
often  escaped  much of the White House staff, but  Musgrave  had 
been exposed to it for over 20 years and took it in stride.  Pre-
coffee grumps.  The President poured himself more hot decaf  from 
the silver service.  "What is it?"


The  President  groaned.  "Don't you ever long for the  old  days 
when  a calculator consisted of two pieces of sliding wood  or  a 
hundred beads on rods?"

Musgrave ignored his boss's frustration. "Over the weekend,  sir, 
we  experienced  a number of incidents that could  be  considered 
non-random in nature," Musgrave said cautiously.

"In English, Phil," insisted the President.

"MILNET has been compromised.  The Optimus Data Base at  Pentagon 
has  been erased as has been Anniston, Air Force Systems  Command 
and a dozen other computers tied through ARPANET."

The President sighed. "Damage report?"

"About  a  month.   We didn't lose anything  too  sensitive,  but 
that's not the embarrassing part."

"If that's not, then what is?"

"The  IRS computers tied to Treasury over the  Consolidated  Data 
Network?"   The  President indicated to continue.   "The  Central 
Collection Services computer for the Dallas District has had over 
100,000 records erased.  Gone."

"And?"  The President said wearily.

"The IRS has had poor backup procedures.  The OMB and GAO reports 
of  1989 and 1990 detailed their operational shortcomings."   The 
President  waited for Phil to say something he could  relate  to.  
"It  appears that we'll lose between $500 million and $2  Billion 
in revenues."

"Christ! That's it!"  The President shouted.  "Enough is  enough.  
The  two weeks is up as of this moment."  He shook his head  with 
his   eyes   closed  in  disbelief.  "How  the  hell   can   this 
happen . . .?" he asked rhetorically.

"Sir, I think that our priority is to keep this out of the press.  
We need plausible deniability . . ."

"Stop  with the Pentagon-speak bullshit and just clamp down.   No 
leaks.   I want this contained.   The last damn thing we need  is 
for  the public to think that we can't protect our own  computers 
and the privacy of our citizens.  If there is one single leak,  I 
will  personally  behead the offender," the President  said  with 
intensity enough to let Phil know that his old friend and comrade 
meant what he said.  

"Issue  an  internal directive, lay down the  rules.   Who  knows 
about this?"

"Too many people, sir.  I am not convinced that we can keep  this 
completely out of the public eye."

"Isolate them."


"You  heard  me.  Isolate them.  National  Security.   Tell  them 
it'll  only  be  few days.  Christ.  Make up any damn  story  you 
want, but have it taken care of.  Without my knowledge."


"Then, find somebody who knows what the hell is going on."

* * * * *

     Monday, January 11
     Approaching New York City

Scott called Tyrone from the plane to discover that  the hearings 
were being delayed a few days, so he flew back to New York  after 
dropping  Sonja  off in Washington.  They tore  themselves  apart 
from  each other, she tearfully, at  National Airport where  they 
had met.   He would be back in a few days, once the hearings were 
rescheduled.  In the meantime, Scott wanted to go home and crash.  
While  being in Jamaica with Sonja was as exhilarating as  a  man 
could want, relaxing and stimulating at once, he still was  going 
on next to no rest.

While the plane was still on the tarmac in Washington, Scott  had 
fallen fast asleep.  On the descent into New York, he half  awak-
ened,  to a hypnagogic state.  Scott had learned over  the  years 
how  to  take advantage of such semi-conscious  conditions.   The 
mind seemingly floated in a place between reality and  conjecture 
-  where all possibilities are tangible, unencumbered by  earthly 
concerns.   The drone of the jet engines, even  their  occasional 
revving,   enhanced  the  mental  pleasure   Scott   experienced.  
Thoughts  weightlessly drifted into and out of his head, some  of 
them  common and benign and others surprisingly original, if  not 
out and out weird.  

In  such a state, the conscious mind becomes the observer of  the 
activities  of  the  unconscious mind.  The ego  of  Scott  Mason 
restrained itself from interfering with the sublime mental  proc-
esses  that bordered on the realm of pure creativity.   The  germ 
of  a  thought, the inchoate  idea, had the luxury  of  exploring 
itself  in  an infinity of possibilities and the  conscious  mind 
stood on the sidelines.  The blissful experience was in  constant 
jeopardy  of  being relegated to a weak memory,  for  any  sudden 
disturbance  could  instantly cause the subconscious  to  retreat 
back  into  a merger with the conscious mind.   Thus,  he  highly 
valued these spontaneous meditations. 

Bits and pieces of the last few days wove themselves into complex  
patterns  that reflected the confusion he felt.  He continued  to 
gaze  on and observe as the series of mental events that  had  no 
obvious  relationships assumed coherency and meaning.   When  one 
does not hold fixed preconceived notions, when one has the abili-
ty to change perspective, then, in these moments, the  possibili-
ties multiply.  Scott watched himself with the hackers in Amster-
dam, with Kirk and Tyrone at home;  he watched himself both  live 
and die with Pierre in Washington.  Then the weekend, did it just 
end?   The unbelievable weekend with Sonja.  It was when  he  re-
lived  the sexual intensity on the Half Moon Bay beach,  in  what 
was  becoming an increasingly erotic   state, that his  mind  en-
tered an  extraordinary bliss.

The rear tires of the plane hitting the runway was enough to snap 
Scott  back to a  sober reality.  But he had the thought  and  he 
remembered it.

Scott  hired a stretch limousine at LaGuardia and slept  all  the 
way  to  Scarsdale, but lacking the good sense God gave  him,  he 
checked  the messages on his phone machine.  Doug called to  find 
out if Scott still worked for the paper and Ty called requesting, 
almost pleading, that Scott call as soon as he got back.  He  had 
to see him, post haste.

The  call  to Doug was simple.  Yes, I'm back.  The  hackers  are 
real.  They  are a threat.  Pierre is still alive,  I  have  more 
material than we can use.  I did take notes, and my butt is  sun-
burned.  If there's nothing else, I'm dead on my feet and I  will 
see you in the morning. Click.  

Now  he  wanted to talk to Tyrone as much as it sounded  like  Ty 
wanted  to speak to him.  Where was he? Probably at  the  office.  
He dialed quickly. Tyrone answered with equal speed.

"Are you back?" Ty asked excitedly.

"Yeah, just got in.  I need to talk to you . . ."

"Not as much as we do, buddy.  Where are you now?"

"Home.  Why?"

"I'll  see  you  in an hour.  Wait there."  The FBI  man  was  in 
control.   Where the hell else am I going to go, Scott thought.

Scott  piddled around, making piles for his maid,  unpacking  and 
puttering  around the kitchen.  Everything in the  fridge  needed 
cooking, and there was not enough energy for that, so he  decided 
to take a shower.  That might give him a few more hours before he 

Exactly  one hour later, as promised, Tyrone Duncan rang  Scott's 
doorbell.   They  exchanged a few pleasantries and  then  plunged 
into  intense  information exchange.  They grabbed  a  couple  of 
beers  and  sat  opposite each other  in  overstuffed  chairs  by 
Scott's wide fireplace.

"Boy have I learned a lot . . ."  said Scott.

"I think you may be right," said Tyrone.

"Of course I am.  I did learn a lot," Scott said with a  confused 
look on his face. 

"No I mean about what you said."

"I  haven't  said anything yet.  I think there's  a  conspiracy."  
Scott winced to himself as he said the one word that was the bane 
of many a reporter.  

"I said I think you were right.  And are right."

"What the devil are you talking about?"  Scott was more  confused 
then ever.

"Remember a few months back, on the train we were talking."

"Of  course we were talking."  Scott recognized the humor in  the 

"No! I mean we were . . .shit. Shut up and listen or I'll  arrest 

"On what charge?"



"Yeah, Can't Remember Shit. Shut up!"

Scott  leaned back in his chair sipping away.  He had  gotten  to 
Ty.  Hooked him, reeled him in and watched him flop on the  deck.  
It  pissed Ty off to no end to allow himself to be suckered  into 
Scott's occasional inanity.

"When this whole blackmail thing started up there was no apparent 
motivation," Tyrone began.  "One day you said that the motivation 
might  be  a disruption of normal police and FBI  operations.   I 
think  you might be right.  It's looking more and more  that  the 
blackmail stuff was a diversion."

"What makes you think so now?" Scott asked.

"We  had  a ton of cases in the last few weeks, same  victims  as 
before, who were being called again, but this time with  demands.   
They were being asked to cough up a lot of cash in a short  time, 
and stash it in a very public place.  We had dozens of stakeouts, 
watching the drop points for a pick up.  It read like the  little 
bastards  were  finally getting greedy.  You know what  I  mean?"   
Scott nodded in agreement, thinking, where is this going?

"So  we had a couple hundred agents tied up waiting for  the  bad 
guys  to  show up.  And you know what?  No one showed.   No  one, 
damn  it. There must have been fifty million in cash  sitting  in 
bus terminals, train stations, health clubs, you name it, and  no 
one  comes to get any  of it?  There's something wrong with  that 

"And you think it's a cover?  Right?"  Scott grinned wide.   "For 

Ty  shrank back in mild sublimation. "Well," he began,  "that  is 
one  small piece of the puzzle I haven't filled in yet.   But,  I 
thought  you might be able to help with that."   Tyrone  Duncan's 
eyes met Scott's and said, I am asking as a friend as well as  an 
agent.  Come on, we both win on this one.

"Stop  begging, Ty. It doesn't befit a member of the  President's 
police force," Scott teased.  "Of course I was going to tell you.  
You're  gonna  read about it soon enough, and I  know,"  he  said 
half-seriously, "you won't screw me again."  

Ouch,  thought Tyrone.  Why not pour in the salt while you're  at 
it.  "I wouldn't worry.  No one thinks there's a problem.  I keep 
shouting and being ignored.  It's infinitely more prudent in  the 
government to fuck-up by non-action than by taking a position and 
acting upon it.  I'm on a solo."

"Good enough," Scott assured Ty.  "'Nother beer?"  It felt  good. 
They were back - friends again.

"Yeah,  It's six o'clock somewhere," Tyrone sighed.   "So  what's 
your news?"

"You know I went over to this Hacker's Conference . . ."

"In Amsterdam." added Tyrone.

"Right,  and I saw some toys that you can't believe," Scott  said 
intently.   "The term Hacker should be replaced with Dr.  Hacker.  
These  guys are incredible.  To them there is no such thing as  a 
locked door.  They can get into and screw around with any comput-
er they want."

"Nothing new there," said Ty.

"Bullshit. They're organized.  These characters make up an entire 
underground society, that admittedly has few rules, but it's  the 
most coherent bunch of anarchists I ever saw."

"What of it?"

"Remember that van, the one that blew up and."

"How can I forget."

"And then my Tempest article."

"Yeah.  I know, I'm sorry," Tyrone said sincerely.

"Fuck  it.   It's over.  Wasn't your fault.  Anyway,  I  saw  the 
equipment  in actual use.  I saw them read computers with  anten-
nas.   It  was  absolutely incredible.  It's  not  bullshit.   It 
really works."  Scott spoke excitedly.  

"You say it's Tempest?"

"No,  anti-Tempest.  These guys have got it  down.    Regardless, 
the stuff works."

"So what?  It works."

"So,  let's  say, if the hackers use these computer  monitors  to 
find out all sorts of dirt on companies,"  Scott slowly explained 
as he organized his thoughts.  "Then they issue demands and cause 
all sorts of havoc and paranoia.  They ask for money.  Then  they 
don't  come to collect it.  So what have they  achieved?"   Scott 
asked rhetorically.

"They  tied up one shit load of a lot of police time,  I'll  tell 
you that."

"Exactly.  Why?"

"Diversion.  That's where we started," Ty said.

"But who is the diversion for?"

The light bulb went off in Tyrone's head.  "The hackers!"

"Right,"  agreed  Scott.  "They're the ones who are going  to  do 
whatever  it  is that the diversion is covering.  Did  that  make 

"No,"  laughed Ty, "but I got it.  Why would the hackers have  to 
be covering for themselves.  Couldn't they be working for someone 

"I doubt it. This is one independent bunch of characters,"  Scott 
affirmed.  "Besides, there's more.  What happened in D.C. . . ."

"Troubleaux," interrupted Ty.

"Bingo.  And there's something else, too."


"I've  been  hearing about a computer system called  the  Freedom 
League.   Nothing specific, just that everything about it  sounds 
too good to be true."

"It usually is."

"And  one other thing.  If there is some sort of hacker  plot,  I 
think I know someone who's involved."

"Did he admit anything?"

"No, nothing.  But, well, we'll see."  Scott hesitated and  stut-
tered.  "Troubleaux, he said something to me."

"Excuse me?" Ty said with disbelief.  "I thought his brains  were 
leaking out."

"Thanks for reminding me; I had to buy a new wardrobe."

"And a tan?  Where've you been?"  

"With, well," Scott blushed, "that's another story."

"O.K.,  Romeo,  how  did he talk?  What did he  say?"   Ty  asked 

"He told me that dGraph was sick."

"Who's dGraph?"

"dGraph,"  laughed Scott, "is how your secretary keeps your  life 
organized.  It's the most popular piece of software in the world.  
Troubleaux  founded  the  company.  And I think I  know  what  he 

"He's a nerdy whiz kid, huh?" joked Tyrone

"Just  the  opposite.  Mongo sex appeal to the ladies.   No,  his 
partner  was the . "  Scott stopped mid sentence.  "Hey,  I  just 
remembered  something.  Troubleaux had a partner, he founded  the 
company with him.  A couple of days before they went public,  his 
partner  died.  Shook up the industry.  Shortly  thereafter  Data 
Tech bought them."

"And you think there's a connection?" 

"Maybe,  ah...I can't remember exactly," Scott said.   "Hey,  you 
can find out."


"Your computers."

"They're at the office."

Scott pointed to his computer and Tyrone shook his head  violent-
ly.  "I don't know how to. "

"Ty," Scott said calmly.  "Call your secretary.  Ask her for  the 
number and your passwords."  Scott persuaded Ty to be humble  and 
dial  his office.  He was actually able to guide Ty  through  the 
process  of accessing one of the largest collections of  informa-
tion in the world.

"How  did you know we could do that?" Ty asked after they  logged 
into the FBI computer from Scott's study.

"Good guess.  I figured you guys couldn't function without remote 
access.  Lucky."

Tyrone  scowled kiddingly at Scott. "You going over to the  other 
side boy?  You seem to know an awful lot."

"That's  how  easy this stuff is. Anyone can do it.   In  fact  I 
heard  a  story about octogenarian hackers who  work  from  their 
nursing homes.  I guess it replaces sex." 

"Bullshit," Tyrone said pointing at his chest.  "This is one dude 
who's knows the real thing. No placebos for me!"

They  both laughed.  "You know how to take it from  here?"  asked 
Scott once a main menu appeared.

"Yeah, let me at it.  What the hell did you want to know anyway?"

"I  imagine you have a file on dGraph, somewhere inside the  over 
400,000,000 active files maintained at the FBI."  

"I'm beginning to worry about you.  That's classified . . ."

"It's  all in the company you keep," Scott chided.  "Just ask  it 
for dGraph."  Tyrone selected an Inquiry Data Base and asked  the 
computer for what it knew about dGraph.  In a few seconds, a sub- 
menu  appeared  entitled "dGraph, Inc.".  Under the  heading  ap-
peared several options:

     1. Company History
     2. Financial Records 
     3. Products and Services
     4. Management
     5. Stock Holders
     6. Activities
     7. Legal

"Not bad!" chided Scott.  "Got that on everyone?"

Tyrone  glared at Scott.  "You shouldn't even know  this  exists.  
Hey, do me a favor, will ya? When I have to lie later, at least I 
want  to  be able to say you weren't staring over  my  shoulders.  

"No  problem," Scott said as he pounced on the couch in front  of 
the  desk.  He knocked a few days of mail onto the floor to  make 
room.  "O.K., who founded the company?"

"Founded 1984, Pierre Troubleaux and Max Jones . . ."

"That's it!" exclaimed Scott.  "Max Jones.  Where?"

"Cupertino, California."

"What date did they go public?" Scott asked quickly.

"Ah, August 6, 1987.  Anything else massah?" Tyrone gibed.

"Can you tie into the California Highway Patrol computers?"

"What if I could?"

"Well, if you could, I thought it would be interesting to take  a 
look  at the police reports.  Because, as I remember,  there  was 
something  funny  about Max Jones,"  Scott said, and  then  added 
mockingly, "but that's only if you have access to the same infor-
mation  that anyone can get for $2. It's all  public  information 

"You know I'm not supposed to be doing this,"  Tyrone said as  he 
pecked at the keyboard.

"Bullshit. You do it all the time."

"Not  as  a public service."  The screen darkened  and  then  an-
nounced that Tyrone had been given access to the CHiP  computers.  
"So suppose I could do that, I suppose you'd want a copy of it."

"Only if the switch on the right side of the printer is turned ON 
and  if  the  paper  is straight.   Otherwise,  I  just  wouldn't 
bother."  Scott stared at the ceiling while the dot matrix print-
er sang a high pitched song as the head traveled back and forth. 

Tyrone  scanned the print out coming from the computers in  Cali-
fornia.  "You have one fuckuva memory.  Sheee-it."  Scott sat  up 

"What, what does it say?" Scott pressured.

"It  appears that your friend Max Jones was killed in an  automo-
bile  accident  on Highway 275 at 12:30 AM."  Ty  stopped  for  a 
moment  to  read more.  "He was found, dead, at the bottom  of  a 
ravine where his car landed after crashing through the  barriers.  
Pretty high speed.  And, the brake lines were cut."

"Holy  shit," Scott said rising from his chair. "Does two a  pat-
tern make?"

"You mean Troubleaux and Max?" asked Tyrone.

"Yeah, they'll do."

"In  my mind it would warrant further investigation."  He made  a 
mental note.

"Anything else there?" Scott asked.

"This  is the kicker," Ty added.  "The investigation  lasted  two 
days.  Upstairs told the department to make it a quick and clean, 
open and shut case of accident."

"I  assume  no one from dGraph had any reason to doubt  what  the 
police told them.  It sounds perfectly rational."

"Why  should they if nobody kicked up a stink?" Ty said  to  him-
self.   "Hey,"  he said to Scott.  "You think  he  was  murdered, 
don't you?"

"You  bet your ass I do," Scott affirmed.  "Think about it.   The 
two  founders of a company the size of dGraph, they're huge,  one 
dead  from a suspicious accident, and the other the target of  an 
assassination and in deep shit in the hospital."

"And it was the hackers, right?"  laughed Tyrone.

"Maybe," Scott said seriously.  "Why not?  It's all tying togeth-

"There's no proof," Tyrone said.  

"No,  and  I  don't need it yet.  But  I  sense  the  connection.  
That's  why  I  said there's a conspiracy."  He  used  that  word 

"And who is behind it and why? Pray tell?"  Tyrone needled Scott.  
"Nothing's   even   happened,   and   you're   already   spouting 

"I  need to do something.  Two things."  Scott spoke  firmly  but 
vacantly.  "I  need to talk to Kirk.  I think  there's  something 
wrong with dGraph, and he can help."

"And two?"

"I'd like to know who I saw in Amsterdam."

"Why?" Ty asked.

"Because . . .because, he's got something to do with  . .  .what-
ever it is.  He as much as admitted it."

"I think I can help with that one," offered Ty.

"Huh?"  Scott looked surprised.

"How about we go into my office and see who this guy is?"  Tyrone 
enjoyed the moment.  One upping Scott.  "Tomorrow."

Scott  decided  that  the fastest way to reach  Kirk,  he  really 
needed Kirk, was to write a clue in an article.  Scott dialed the 
paper's  computer  from his house and opened a  file.  He  hadn't 
planned on writing today - God, how long have I been awake?  This 
was  the easiest way to contact Kirk now, but that was  going  to 
change.   Tyrone  left early enough for Scott to  write  a  quick 
piece that would be sure to make an inside page, page 12 or 14.

* * * * *

     Tuesday, January 12

     The Computer As Weapon?  
     by Scott Mason

Since the dawn of civilization, Man has had the perverse  ability 
to turn Good into Bad, White into Black, Hot into Cold, Life into 
Death.   History  bears out that technology is falling  into  the 
same trap.  The bow and arrow, the gun; they were created to help 
man  survive  the elements and feed himself.  Today  millions  of 
guns are bought with no purpose other than to hurt another  human 
being.   The  space program was going to send man to  the  stars; 
instead we have Star Wars.  The great advantages that  technology 
has  brought  modern  man have been  continuously  subverted  for 
malevolent uses.

What if the same is true for computers?

Only yesterday, in order to spy on my neighbor, or my opponent, I 
would hire a private eye to perform the surveillance.  And  there 
was  a constant danger of his being caught.  Today?  I'd hire  me 
the  best computer hacker I could get my hands on and sic him  on 
the targets of my interest.  Through their computers.

For  argument's  sake, let's say I want  advance  information  on 
companies  so I can play the stock market.  I have my hacker  get 
inside the SEC computers, (he can get in from literally thousands 
of locations nationwide) and read up on the latest figures before 
they're  reported to the public.  Think of betting the whole  wad 
on a race with only one horse.  

I would imagine, and I am no lawyer, that if I broke into the SEC 
offices  and  read through their file cabinets, I would be  in  a 
mighty poke of trouble.  But catching me in their computer is  an 
extraordinary  exercise  in  resource  frustration,  and  usually 
futile.   For unlike the burglar, the computer criminal is  never 
at the scene of the crime.  He is ten or a hundred or a  thousand 
miles  away.   Besides, the better computer  criminals  know  the 
systems  they  attack so well, that they can cover  their  tracks 
completely; no one will ever know they were an uninvited guest.

Isn't then the computer a tool, a weapon, of the computer  crimi-
nal?  I can use my computer as a tool to pry open your  computer, 
and  then once inside I use it to perhaps destroy pieces of  your 
computer or your information.    

I  wonder  then about other computer crimes, and I  will  include 
viruses  in  that  category.  Is the computer or  the  virus  the 
weapon?   Is  the virus a special kind of computer  bullet?   The 
intent and the result is the same.  

I  recall hearing an articulate man recently make the  case  that 
computers  should  be licensed, and that not everyone  should  be 
able  to own one.  He maintained that the use of a computer  car-
ried  with  it an inherent social responsibility.   What  if  the 
technology that gives us the world's highest standard of  living, 
convenience and luxury was used instead as a means of disruption; 
a technological civil disobedience if you will?  What  if politi-
cal  strength came from the corruption of an opponent's  computer 
systems?  Are we not dealing with a weapon as much as a gun is  a 
weapon? my friend pleaded. 

Clearly  the computer is Friend.  And the computer, by itself  is 
not bad, but recent events have clearly demonstrated that it  can 
be  used  for sinister and illegal purposes.  It is  the  use  to 
which  one  puts the tool that determines its  effectiveness  for 
either good or bad.  Any licensing of computers, information sys-
tems, would be morally abhorrent - a veritable decimation of  the 
Bill of Rights.  But I must recognize that the history of  indus-
trialized  society does not support my case.

Automobiles were once not licensed.  Do we want it any other way?  
I  am sure many of you wish that drivers licenses were harder  to 
come by.  Radio transmitters have been licensed for most of  this 
century  and  many a civil libertarian will make  the  case  that 
because  they are licensed, it is a restriction on my freedom  of 
speech  to require approval by the Government  before  broadcast.  
On the practical side, does it make sense for ten radio  stations 
all trying to use the same frequency?

Cellular  phones are officially licensed as are CB's.   Guns  re-
quire  licenses in an increasing number of states.  So  it  might 
appear  logical  to say that computers be  licensed,  to  prevent 
whatever overcrowding calamity may unsuspectingly befall us.  The 
company  phone effectively licenses lines to you, with the  added 
distinction of being able to record everything you do.

Computers  represent an obvious boon and a potential bane.   When 
computers  are  turned against themselves, under the  control  of 
humans  of course, or against the contents of the computer  under 
attack,  the results can ripple far and wide.  I believe  we  are 
indeed fortunate that computers have not yet been turned  against 
their  creators by faction groups vying for power and  attention.   
Thus far isolated events, caused by ego or accident have been the 
rule and large scale coordinated, well executed computer assaults 

That, though, is certainly no guarantee that we will not have  to 
face the Computer Terrorists tomorrow.

This is Scott Mason searching the Galaxy at Warp 9.

* * * * *

     Tuesday, January 12
     Federal Square, New York

Tyrone was required to come to the lobby of the FBI headquarters, 
sign Scott in and escort him through the building.  Scott  didn't 
arrive until almost eleven; he let himself sleep in, in the hopes 
of  making up for lost sleep.  He knew it didn't work  that  way, 
but twelve hours of dead rest had to do something.

Tyrone explained as they took an elevator two levels beneath  the 
street that they were going to work with a reconstructionist.   A 
man  with  a very powerful computer will build up the  face  that 
Scott  saw, piece by piece.  They opened a door that was  identi-
fied  by only a number and entered an almost sterile work  place.  
A  pair of Sun workstations with large high  resolution  monitors 
sat  on  large white tables by one wall, with a row of  racks  of 
floor to ceiling disk drives and tape units opposite.  

"Remember," Tyrone cautioned, "no names."

"Right," said Scott.  "No names."  

Tyrone  introduced Scott to Vinnie who would be running the  com-
puter.   Vinnie's  first job was to familiarize  Scott  with  the 
procedure.   Tyrone  told Vinnie to call him in his  office  when 
they  had  something;he had other matters to attend  to  in  the 
meantime.    Of  obvious Italian descent, with a  thick  Brooklyn 
accent,  Vinnie  Misselli epitomized the local boy  making  good.  
His  lantern jaw and classic Roman good looks were out  of  place 
among the blue suits and white shirts that typified the FBI.

"All I need," Vinnie said, "is a brief description to get  things 
started.  Then, we'll fix it piece by piece."

Scott  loosely described the Spook.  Dark hair, good looking,  no 
noticeable  marks  and  of course, the dimples.   The  face  that 
Vinnie built was generic. No unique features, just a nose and the 
other  parts that anatomically make up a face.  Scott  shook  his 
head, no that's not even close.  Vinnie seemed undaunted.  

"O.K., now, I am going to stretch the head, the overall shape and 
you  tell me where to stop. All right?"  Vinnie asked,  beginning 
his manipulation before Scott answered.

"Sure," said Scott.  Vinnie rolled a large track ball built  into 
the  keyboard  and  the head on the screen  slowly  stretched  in 
height  and  width.  The changes didn't help Scott  much  he  but 
asked Vinnie to stop at one point anyway.  

"Don't worry, we can change it later again.  How about the eyes?"

"Two," said Scott seriously.

Vinnie gave Scott an ersatz dirty look. "Everyone does it,"  said 
Vinnie.  "Once."  He grinned at Scott.

"The eye brows, they were bushier," said Scott.

"Good.   Tell  me when."  The eyebrows on the  face  twisted  and 
turned  as  Vinnie moved the trackball with his  right  hand  and 
clicked at the keyboard with his left.  

"That's  close," Scott said.  "Yeah, hold it."  Vinnie froze  the 
image  where  Scott  indicated  and they went  on  to  the  hair.  
"Longer, wavier, less of a part . . ."

They  worked  for an hour, Vinnie at the  computer  controls  and 
Scott changing every imaginable feature on the face as it evolved 
into  one  with  character.  Vinnie sat back  in  his  chair  and 
stretched.  "How's that," he asked Scott.

Scott  hesitated.  He felt that he was making too  many  changes.  
Maybe this was as close as it got.  "It's good," he said  without 
conviction.  There was a slight resemblance.

"That's  what  they all say," Vinnie said. "It's not  even  close 
yet."   He laughed as Scott looked shocked.  "All we've  done  so 
far is get the general outline.  Now, we work on the details."  

For  another  two  hours Scott commented on  the  subtle  changes 
Vinnie  made to the face.  Nuances that one never thinks of;  the 
curve  of the cheek, the half dozen angles of the chin, the  hun-
dreds of ear lobes, eyes of a thousand shapes - they went through 
them all and the face took form.  Scott saw the face take on  the 
appearance  of  the Spook; more and more it became  the  familiar 
face he had spent hours with a few days ago.  

As he got caught up in the building and discovery process,  Scott 
issued commands to Vinnie; thicken the upper lip, just a  little.  
Higher  forehead.  He blurted out change after change and  Vinnie 
executed  every  one.  Actually, Vinnie preferred  it  this  way, 
being given the orders.  After all, he hadn't seen the face.  

"There! That's the Spook!" exclaimed Scott suddenly. 

"You  sure?"  asked  Vinnie sitting back in  the  plush  computer 

"Yup," Scott said with assurance.  "That's him."

"O.K.,  let's see what we can do  . . ." Vinnie rapidly typed  at 
the keyboard and the picture of the face disappeared.  The screen 
went  blank  for a few seconds until it was replaced  with  a   3 
dimensional  color model of a head.  The back of the head  turned 
and the visage of the Spook stared at them both.  It was an eerie 
feeling  and  Scott  shuddered as the  disembodied  head  stopped 

"Take a look at this," Vinnie said as he continued typing.  Scott 
watched  the head, Spook's head, come alive.  The lips were  mov-
ing,  as  though it, he, was trying to speak.  "I can give  it  a 
voice if you'd like."

"Will that help?" Scott asked.

"Nah, not in this case," Vinnie said,"but it is fun.  Let's  make 
sure  that we got the right guy here.  We'll take a look  at  him 
from  every angle."  The head moved to the side for a  left  pro-
file.  "I'll make a couple of gross adjustments, and you tell  me 
if it gets any better."

They  went  through  another hour of fine tuning  the  3-D  head, 
modifying  skin tones, texture, hair style and a score  of  other 
subtleties.   When they were done Scott remarked that  the  image 
looked more like the Spook than the Spook himself.    Incredible.  
Scott was truly impressed.  This is where taxpayer's money  went.  
Vinnie called Tyrone and by the time he arrived, the color photo-
graphs and digital maps of the images were ready.  

Scott followed Tyrone down one corridor, then another, through  a 
common area, and down a couple more hallways.  They entered  Room 
322B.  The innocuous appearance of the door did not prepare Scott 
for what he saw; a huge computer room, at least a football  field 
in  length.   Blue and tan and beige and a few black metal  cabi-
nets that housed hundreds of disparate yet co-existing computers.  
Consoles with great arrays of switches, row upon row of video and 
graphic  displays  as  far as the eye could  see.   Thousands  of  
white two by two foot square panel floors hid miles of wires  and 
cables  that interconnected the maze of computers in  the  under-
ground control center.  There appeared to be a number of discreet 
areas,  where large computer consoles were centered amidst  racks 
of  tape or disk drives which served as the only  separation  be-
tween workers.

"This is Big Floyd," Tyrone said proudly.  "Or at least one  part 
of him."

"Who or what is Big Floyd?"  

"Big Floyd is a huge national computer system, tied together over 
the Secure Automated Message Network.  This is the most  powerful 
computer facility outside of the NSA."

Quiet conversations punctuated the hum of the disk drives and the 
clicks  of solenoids switching and the printers pushing reams  of 
paper.  The  muted voices could not be understood but  they  rang 
with purpose.   The room had an almost reverent character to  it; 
where  speaking too loud would surely be considered  blasphemous.  
Scott  and  Tyrone walked through banks and banks  of  equipment, 
more computer equipment than Scott had ever seen in one location.  
In  fact the Federal Square computer center is on the  pioneering 
edge  of forensic technology. The NSA computers might  have  more 
oomph!, but the FBI computers have more purpose.

Tyrone stopped at one control console and asked if they could  do 
a   match,  stat.  Of course, anything for  Mr.  Duncan.  "RHIP," 
Tyrone  said.  Scott recognized the acronym, Rank Has Its  Privi-
lege.   Tyrone gave the computer operator the pictures and  asked 
him to explain the process to Scott.

"I take these pictures and put them in the computer with a  scan-
ner.  The digitized images are stored here," he said pointing  at 
a  a  rack of equipment. "Then, we enter  the  subject's  general 
description.  Height, physique and so on."  He copied the  infor-
mation into the computer. 

"Now we ask the computer to find possible matches."

"You  mean the computer has photos of everyone in  there?"  Scott 
asked incredulously.

"No,  Scott.  Just the bad guys, and people with security  clear-
ances,  and public officials?  Your Aunt Tillie is safe from  Big 
Brother's prying eyes."  The reason for Ty's sarcasm was clear to 
Scott.   Tyrone was not exactly acting in an official capacity on 
this part of the investigation.  

"How many do you have? Pictures that is?" Scott asked more diplo-

"That's classified," Tyrone said quickly.

"The hackers say you have files on over a hundred million people.  
Is that true?"  Scott asked.  Tyrone glared at him, as if to say, 
shut  the  fuck  up.   Scott took the non-verbal  hint  and  they 
watched in silence as the computer whirred searching for  similar 
photo  files in its massive memory.  Within a couple  of  minutes 
the computer said that there were 4 possible matches.  At the end 
of the 10 minute search, it was up to 16  candidates.   

"We'll  do  a visual instead of a second search,"  said  the  man 
behind  the keyboard.  "We'll start with the 90% matches.   There 
are  two of them."  A large monitor flashed with a picture  of  a 
man, that while not unlike the Spook in features, was  definitely 
not him.  The picture was a high quality color photograph.

"No,  not him," Scott said without pause.  The computer  operator 
hit a couple of keys, a second picture flashed on the monitor and 
Scott's face lit up.   "That's him! That's the Spook!"

Tyrone  had wondered if they would find any matches.   While  the 
FBI  data  base  was probably the largest in the  world,  it  was 
unlikely  that  there  was a comprehensive library  of  teen  age 
hackers.  "Are you sure?" Tyrone emphasized the word, 'sure'.  

"Positive, yes.  That's him."

"Let's  have a quick look at the others before we do a  full  re-
trieve," said the computer operator.  Tyrone agreed and  fourteen 
other pictures of men with similar facial characteristics to  the 
Spook  appeared  on the screen, all receiving a quick  'no'  from 
Scott.  Spook's picture as brought up again and again Scott said, 
"that's him."

"All  right, Mike," Tyrone said to the man running the  computer, 
"do a retrieve on OBR-III."  Mike nodded and stretched over to  a 
large printer on the side of the console.  He pushed a key and in 
a few seconds, the printer spewed out page after page of informa-
tion.   OBR-III  is a super-secret computer  system  designed  to 
fight  terrorism  in the United States.  OBR-III  and  Big  Floyd 
regularly  spoke  to similar, but smaller,  systems  in  England, 
France and Germany.  With only small bits of data it can extrapo-
late  potential terrorist targets, and who is the  likely  person 
behind  the  attacks.  OBR-III is an expert  system  that  learns 
continuously,  as  the human mind does.  Within  seconds  it  can 
provide information on anyone within its memory.

Tyrone  pulled  the  first page from the printer  before  it  was 
finished  and read to himself.  He scanned it quickly  until  one 
item  grabbed  his attention. His eyes widened.  "Boy,  when  you 
pick 'em, you pick 'em."  Tyrone whistled.  

"What, what?" Scott strained to see the printout, but Tyrone held 
it away.

"It's no wonder he calls himself Spook," Tyrone said to no one in 
particular.  "He's ex-NSA."  He ripped off the final page of  the 
printout  and called Scott to follow him, cursorily thanking  the 
computer operators for their assistance.

Scott  followed Tyrone to an elevator and they descended  to  the 
fifth  and  bottom  level, where Tyrone headed  straight  to  his 
office with Scott in tow.  He shut the door behind him and showed 
Scott a chair. 

"There's  no way I should be telling you this, but I owe  you,  I 
guess,  and,  anyway, maybe you can help."   Tyrone  rationalized 
showing the information to Scott - both a civilian and a  report-
er.   He  may  have questioned the wisdom, but  not  the  intent.  
Besides,  as  had been true for several weeks,  everything  Scott 
learned  from  Tyrone Duncan was off the record.  Way  off.   For 

The  Spook's real name was Miles Foster. Scott scanned the  file.  
A  lot of it was government speak and security  clearance  inter-
views for his job at NSA.  An entire life was condensed into a  a 
few files, covering the time from when he was born to the time he 
resigned  from the NSA.  Scott found much of his life boring  and 
he really didn't care that Miles' third grade teacher  remembered 
him  as being a  "good boy".  Or that his high  school  counselor 
though he could go a long way.

"This  doesn't  sound like the Spook I know,"  Scott  said  after 
glancing at the clean regimented life and times of Miles Foster. 

"Did you expect it to?" asked Ty.

"I guess I never thought about it.  I just figured it would be  a 
regular guy, not a real spook for the government."  

"Shit happens."

"So I see.  Where do we go from here?" Scott asked in awe of  the 
technical capabilities of the FBI.

"How  'bout  a sanity check?" Tyrone asked.  "When  were  you  in 

"Last week, why?"

Tyrone sat behind his computer and Scott noticed that his fingers 
seemed  almost  too fat to be of much good.  "If I can  get  this 
thing to work, let's see where's the Control Key?"   Scott  gazed 
on  as  Tyrone talked to himself while working the  keyboard  and 
reading  the screen.  "Foster, Airline, Foreign, ah, the  dates," 
he    looked    up   at   a   large    wall    calendar.     "All 
right . . .shit . . .Delete . . . OK, that's it."

"What are you doing?" asked Scott. 

"Just want to see if your boy really was in Europe with you."

"You don't believe me!" shouted Scott.

"No,  I believe you.  But I need some proof, dig?"  Tyrone  said.  
"If he's up to something we need to find out what, step by  step.  
You should know that."

"Yeah,  I do," Scott resigned.  "It's just that I'm not  normally 
the one being questioned. Know what I mean?"

"Our  training is more  . . .well, it's a moot point  now.   Your 
Mr. Foster flew to Amsterdam and then back to Washington the next 
day.  I believe I have some legwork ahead of me.  I would like to 
learn a little more about Mr. Miles Foster."

Scott  talked Tyrone into giving him a copy of one of the  images 
of  Miles  aka  Spook.  He was hoping that Kirk  would  call  him 
tonight.   In any case, Scott needed to buy an image  scanner  if 
Kirk  was going to be of help. When he got home, he made room  on 
his  personal nightmare, his desk, for the flatbed scanner,  then 
played  with it for several hours, learning how to scan an  image 
at the right sensitivity, the correct brightness and reflectivity 
for the proper resolution.  He learnd to bring a picture into the 
computer  and  edit  or redraw the picture.   Scott  scanned  the 
picture  of the Spook into the computer and enjoyed adding  mous-
taches, subtracting teeth and stretching the ears.

At  midnight,  on the button, Scott's computer  beeped.   It  was 


You got my message.


I didn't want to miss.


First of all, I want a better way to contact you, since I  assume 
you won't tell me who you are.


So you're in New York?


Ah,  call forwarding.  I could get the address of the  phone  and 
trace you down.


And why not may I ask?


Right.  You're absolutely right.


I met with the Spook.

YOU DID????????

The  conference  was great, but I need to know more.   I've  just 
been  sniffing around the edges and I can't smell what's  in  the 


I have picture of him for you.  I scanned it.


I'll send you SPOOK.PIX.  Let me know what you think.


Scott  chose the file and issued the command to send it to  Kirk.  
While  it was being sent they couldn't speak, and  Scott  learned 
how  long it really takes to transmit a digital picture  at  2400 
baud.   He got absorbed in a magazine and almost missed the  mes-
sage on the computer. 


Yes it is.  I met him.


C'mon,  you've got to be putting me on.  I travel 3000 miles  for 
an impostor?


Then who is it?


Just thought I'd ask . . .


Deep shit, and I need your help.


No,  he's  not here, honest.  I have an idea,  and  you're  gonna 
think  it's nuts, I know.  But I have to ask you for a couple  of 


The  Freedom League.  I need to know as much about it as  I  can, 
without  anyone  knowing that I want the  information.   Is  that 


Well that brings up the second favor.  dGraph.  Do you own it?


Can't you guys take apart a program to see what makes it tick?


Then I would like to ask if you would look at the dGraph  program 
and see if it has a virus in it?


                         Chapter 24

     Wednesday, January 13
     New York City

     No Privacy for Mere Citizens
     by Scott Mason.

I learned the other day, that I can find out just about  anything 
I  want to know about you, or her, or him, or anyone, for  a  few 
dollars, a few phone calls and some free time.

Starting  with just an automobile license plate number,  the  De-
partment of Motor Vehicles will be happy to supply me with a name 
and address that go with the plate.  Or I can start with a  name, 
or  an address or just a phone number and use a  backwards  phone 
book.  It's all in the computer.

I  can  find more about you by getting a copy of  the  your  auto 
registration  and  title  from the  public  records.     Marriage 
licenses  and divorces are public as well. You can find  out  the 
damnedest things about people from their first or second or third 
marriage records.  Including the financial settlements.  Good way 
to determine how much money or lack thereof is floating around  a 
healthy divorce.

Of course I can easily find all traffic offenses, their  disposi-
tion,  and any follow up litigation or settlements.  It's all  in 
the computer.  As there are public records of all arrests,  court 
cases, sentences and paroles.  If you've ever been to trial,  the 
transcripts are public.  

Your  finances can be scrupulously determined by looking  up  the 
real  estate records for purchase price, terms, cash,  notes  and 
taxes  on your properties.  Or, if you've ever had a  bankruptcy, 
the  sordid details are clearly spelled out for anyone's  inspec-
tion.  It's all in the computer.

I  can  rapidly build an excellent profile of you,  or  whomever. 
And,  it's legal.  All legal, using the public records  available 
to anyone who asks and has the $2.  

That tells me, loud and clear, that I no longer have any privacy!  

Forget  the hackers; it's bad enough they can get into  our  bank 
accounts  and our IRS records and the Census forms that have  our 
names  tied to the data.  What about Dick and Jane Doe,  Everyman 
USA,  who can run from agency to agency and office to office  put 
together enough information about me or you to be dangerous.

I do not think I like that.  

It's  bad  enough the Government can create us or destroy  us  as 
individuals  by altering the contents of our computer files  deep 
inside the National Data Bases.  At least they have a modicum  of 
accountability.   However,  their inattentive disregard  for  the 
privacy of the citizens of this country is criminal.  

As  a reporter I am constantly amazed at how easy it is  to  find 
out  just  about anything about anybody, and in  many  ways  that 
openness  has made my job simpler.  However, at the same time,  I 
believe  that  the Government has an inherent  responsibility  to 
protect  us  from invasion of privacy, and they are  derelict  in 
fulfilling that promise.

If the DMV needs to know my address, I understand.  The IRS needs 
to  know  my income.  Each computer unto itself  is  a  necessary 
repository  to facilitate business transactions.   However,  when 
someone  begins  to investigate me, crossing  the  boundaries  of 
multiple  data  bases,  without question, they  are  invading  my 
privacy.  Each piece of information found about me may be  insig-
nificant in itself, but when combined, it becomes highly  danger-
ous  in the wrong hands.  We all have secrets we want  to  remain 
secrets.  Under the present system, we have sacrificed our priva-
cy for the expediency of the machines.

I have a lawyer friend who believes that the fourth amendment  is 
at stake.  Is it, Mr. President?

This is Scott Mason, feeling Peered Upon. 
* * * * *

     Wednesday, January 13
     Atlanta, Georgia

First  Federal Bank in Atlanta, Georgia enjoyed a  reputation  of 
treating  its customers like royalty.  Southern  Hospitality  was 
the  bank's  middle  name and the staff was  trained  to  provide 
extraordinary  service.   This morning  though,  First  Federal's 
customers  were not happy campers.  The calls started  coming  in 
before 8:00 A.M.

"My  account  is off $10,"  "It doesn't add up,"   "My  checkbook 
won't balance."  A few calls of this type are normal on any given 
day,  but the phones were jammed with customer complaints.   Hun-
dreds of calls streamed in constantly and hundreds more never got 
through  the  busy signals.  Dozens of customers  came  into  the 
local branches to complain about the errors on their statement.

An  emergency meeting was held in the Peachtree Street  headquar-
ters  of  First Federal.  The president of the bank  chaired  the 
meeting.   The basic question was, What Was Going On?  It  was  a 
free for all.  Any ideas, shoot 'em out.  

How  many calls?  About 4500 and still coming in.  What  are  the 
dates of the statements?  So far within a couple of days, but who 
knows what we'll find.  What are you asking people to do?  Double 
check  against their actual checks instead of the  register.   Do 
you  really  think that 5000 people wake up one morning  and  all 
make  the  same mistakes?  Do you have any  other  ideas?    Then 
what?   If they don't reconcile, bring 'em in and we'll pull  the 

What  do  the computer people say?  They think there  may  be  an 
error.  That's bright. If the numbers are adding up wrong, how do 
we  balance?   Have no idea.  Do they add up in our  favor?   Not 
always. Maybe 50/50 so far.  Can we fix it?  Yes.  When?  I don't 
know yet.  Get some answers.  Fast.  Yessir.

The  bank's  concerns mounted when their larger  customers  found 
discrepancies in the thousands and tens of thousands of  dollars.  
As  the number of complaints numbered well over 10,000  by  noon, 
First Federal was facing a crisis.  The bank's figures in no  way 
jived  with  their  customer's records and  the  finger  pointing 

The  officers  contacted the Federal Reserve Board  and  notified 
them.  The Board suggested, strongly, that the bank close for the 
remainder of the day and sort it out before it got worse.   First 
Federal  did close, under the guise of installing a new  computer 
system,  a  lie  that might also cover whatever  screwed  up  the 
statements.   Keep  that option open.  They  kept  answering  the 
phones,  piling up the complaints and discovering that  thus  far 
there was no pattern to the errors.

By mid-afternoon, they at least knew what to look for.  On  every 
statement a few checks were listed with the incorrect amounts and 
therefore the balance was wrong.  For all intent and purpose, the 
bank had absolutely no idea whose money was whose.  

Working into the night the bank found that all ledgers  balanced, 
but  still the amounts in the accounts were wrong.  What are  the 
odds of a computer making thousands of errors and having them all 
balance  out  to  a net zero difference?   Statistically  it  was 
impossible,  and that meant someone altered the amounts  on  pur-
pose.   By midnight they found that the source of the  error  was 
probably  in  the control code of the  bank's  central  computing 

First  Federal Bank did not open for business Thursday.  Or  Fri-

First  Federal Bank was not the only bank to experience  profound 
difficulties with it's customers.  Similar complaints closed down 
Farmer's  Bank  in Des Moines, Iowa, Lake City Bank  in  Chicago, 
First  Trade  in New York City, Sopporo Bank  in  San  Francisco, 
Pilgrim's Trust in Boston and, as the Federal Reserve Bank  would 
discover, another hundred or so banks in almost every state.

The  Department  of the Treasury reacted  quickly,  spurred  into 
action by the chairman of Riggs National Bank in Washington, D.C.   
Being  one of the oldest banks in the country, and the  only  one 
that  could claim having a personal relationship  with  Alexander 
Hamilton,  the first Secretary of the Treasury, it still  carried 
political weight. 

The evening network and local news stations covered the situation 
critically.  Questions proliferated but answers were hard to come 
by.   The largest of the banks and the government announced  that 
a major computer glitch had affected the Electronic Funds  Trans-
fers which had inadvertently caused the minor inconsistencies  in 
some customer records.  

The press was extremely hard on the banks and the Fed Reserve and 
the  Treasury.  They smelled a coverup, a lie; that they and  the 
public  were  not being told the truth, or at least  all  of  it.  
Only Scott Mason and a couple of other reporters speculated  that 
a  computer  virus  or time bomb was  responsible.   Without  any 
evidence  though, the government and the banks vigorously  denied 
any  such  possibilities.  Rather, they  developed  a  convoluted 
story  of  how  one money transaction affects  another  and  then 
another.   The  domino  theory of banking was  explained  to  the 
public in graphs and charts, but an open skepticism prevailed.  

Small  businesses and individual banking customers  were  totally 
shut off from access to their funds.  Tens of thousands of  auto-
matic  tellers were turned off by their banks in the futile  hope 
of minimizing the damage.  Estimates were that by evening, almost 
5 million people had been estranged from their money.

Rumors of bank collapse and a catastrophic failure of the banking 
system  persisted.   The  Stock Market, operating  at  near  full 
capacity  after November's disaster, reacted to the news  with  a 
precipitous drop of almost 125 points before trading was suspend-
ed, cutting off thousands more from their money.

The International Monetary Fund convened an emergency meeting  as 
the  London  and Tokyo stock markets reacted  negatively  to  the 
news.   Wire transfers and funds disbursements were ceased across 
all state and national borders. 

Panic ensued, and despite the best public relations efforts,  the 
Treasury imposed financial sanctions on all savings and  checking 
accounts.  If the banks opened on Friday, severe limits would  be 
placed on access to available funds.  Checks would be returned or 
held until the emergency was past.

Nightline  addressed  the banking crisis in depth.   The  experts 
debated the efficiency of the system and that possibly an unfore-
seen overload had occurred, triggering the events of the day.  No 
one suggested that the bank's computers had been compromised.

* * * * *

     New York City Times

"Yes, it is urgent."

"What is this about?

"That is for the Senator's ears only."

"Can you hold for . . ."

"Yes, yes. I've been holding for an hour.  Go on."  Muzak  inter-
pretations  of Led Zeppelin greeted Scott Mason as he was put  on 
hold.  Again.  Good God!  They have more pass interference in the 
front office and on the phones than the entire NFL.  He waited.

At long last, someone picked up the other end of the phone. "I am 
sorry  to keep you waiting, Mr. Mason, it has been rather  hectic 
as  you can imagine.  How are you faring?"  Senator  Nancy  Deere 
true to form, always projected genuine sincerity.

"Fine,  fine,  thank  you, Senator.  The reason for  my  call  is 
rather, ah . . .sensitive."

"Yes?" she asked politely.

"Well,  the  fact is, Senator, we cannot discuss it, that  is,  I 
don't feel that we can talk about this on the phone."

"That makes it rather difficult, doesn't it," she laughed weakly.

"Simply put, Senator . . . "

"Please call me Nancy.  Both my friends and enemies do."

"All right, Nancy,"  Scott said awkwardly.  "I need 15 minutes of 
your  time  about a matter of national security and  it  directly 
concerns  your work on the Rickfield Committee."  She  winced  at 
the  nick  name that the hearing had been given.  "I  can  assure 
you, Senator, ah, Nancy, that I would not be bothering you unless 
I was convinced of what I'm going to tell you.  And show you.  If 
you think I'm nuts, then fine, you can throw me out."

"Mr. Mason, that's enough," Nancy said kindly.  "Based upon  your 
performance at the hearing the other day, that alone is enough to 
make me want to shake your hand.  As for what you have to say?  I 
pride myself on being a good listener.  When would be  convenient 
for you?"

"The  sooner the better," Scott said with obvious relief that  he 
hadn't had to sell her.

"How's  . . .ah, four tomorrow?  My office?"

"That's fine, perfect.  We'll see you tomorrow then."

"We?" Nancy picked up the plural reference. 

"Yes,  I am working with someone else. It helps if I'm not  crazy 

* * * * * 

     FBI, New York

"I'll  be  in Washington tomorrow, we can talk  about  it  then,"  
Tyrone Duncan said emphatically into his desk telephone.

"Ty,  I've  been on your side and defended you since  I  came  on 
board,  you know that."  Bob Burnson was pleading with Ty.   "But 
on  this one, I have no control.  You've been poking  into  areas 
that don't concern you, and I'm catching heat."

"I'm working on one damn case, Bob.  One.  Computer crime. But it 
keeps on touching this fucking blackmail fiasco and it's  getting 
on  everyone's nerves.  There's a lot more to this  than  ransoms 
and hackers and I've been having some luck.  I'll show you what I 
have tomorrow. Sixish.  Ebbets."

"I'll  be  there. Ty," Burnson said kindly.  "I  don't  know  the 
specifics,  but you've been shaking the tree.  I hope it's  worth 

"It is, Bob.  I'd bet my ass on in."

"You are."

* * * * * 

     Thursday, January 14
     Walter Reed Medical Center

"How is he doing?"  Scott asked.

"He's  not  out of the woods yet,"  said Dr. Sean Kelly,  one  of 
Walter  Reed's hundreds of Marcus Welby look-alike  staff  physi-
cians.   "In cases like this, we operate in the dark.  The  chest 
wound  is nasty, but that's not the danger; it's the head  wound. 
The brain is a real funny area."

Tyrone's FBI identification was required to get him and Scott  in 
to see Dr. Kelly.  As far as anybody knew, Pierre Troubleaux  had 
been  killed  over the weekend in an explosion  in  his  hospital 
room.    Th