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   the British hacking scene. But Gandalf and, to a lesser extent, Pad

   had also developed a reputation for being arrogant. They rubbed some

   of the American hackers the wrong way. Not that Pad and Gandalf seemed

   to care. Their attitude was: We're good. We know it. Bugger off.


   Gandalf disabled Theorem's account on Altos. He couldn't very well

   just change the password and then send the new one through the

   extended grapevine that Theorem had used to get a message through to

   him. Clearly, someone had targeted her account specifically. No way

   was he going to broadcast a new password for her account throughout

   the underground. But the trouble was that neither Par nor Theorem knew

   what Gandalf had done.


   Meanwhile, Par called Theorem and got an earful. An angry Par vowed to

   find out just who the hell had been messing with her account.


   When the MOD boys told Par they were the culprits, he was a bit

   surprised because he had always been on good terms with them. Par told

   them how upset Theorem had been, how she gave him an earful. Then an

   extraordinary thing happened. Corrupt, the toughest, baddest guy in

   MOD, the black kid from the roughest part of New York, the hacker who

   gave shit to everyone because he could, apologised to Par.


   The MOD guys never apologised, even when they knew they were in the

   wrong. Apologies never got anyone very far on a New York City street.

   It was an attitude thing. `I'm sorry, man' from Corrupt was the

   equivalent of a normal person licking the mud from the soles of your



   The new password was: M0Dm0dM0D. That's the kind of guys they were.


   Par was just signing off to try out the new password when Corrupt

   jumped in.


   `Yeah, and ah, Par, there's something you should know.'


   `Yeah?' Par answered, anxious to go.


   `I checked out her mail. There was some stuff in it.'


   Theorem's letters? Stuff? `What kind of stuff?' he asked.


   `Letters from Gandalf.'




   `Friendly letters. Real friendly.'


   Par wanted to know, but at the same time, he didn't. He could have

   arranged root access on Altos long ago if he'd really wanted it. But

   he didn't. He didn't want it because it would mean he could access

   Theorem's mail. And Par knew that if he could, he would. Theorem was

   popular on Altos and, being the suspicious type, Par knew he would

   probably take something perfectly innocent and read it the wrong way.

   Then he would get in a fight with Theorem, and their time together was

   too precious for that.


   `Too friendly,' Corrupt went on. It must have been hard for him to

   tell Par. Snagging a friend's girlfriend's password and breaking into

   her account was one thing. There wasn't much wrong with that. But