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   German court proceedings were under way when Hagbard's body was found.

   Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? No-one knew for sure, but

   the news shook the computer underground around the world. Hackers

   discussed the issue in considerable depth. On the one hand, Hagbard

   had a long history of mental instability and drug use, having spent

   time in psychiatric hospitals and detoxification centres off and on

   since the beginning of 1987. On the other hand, if you were going to

   kill yourself, would you really want to die in the agony of a petrol

   fire? Or would you just take a few too many pills or a quick bullet?

  

   Whether it was murder or suicide, the death of Hagbard loomed large

   before Phoenix. Who were the American law enforcement agencies after

   in Australia? Did they want him?

  

   No. Force reassured him, they were after Electron. The problem for

   Phoenix was that he kept talking to Electron on the phone--in voice

   conversations. If Phoenix continued associating with Electron, he too

   would be scooped up in the AFP's net.

  

   The message to Phoenix was crystal clear.

 

   Stay away from Electron.

 

                            [ ]

  

   `Listen, you miserable scum-sucking pig.'

  

   `Huh?' Phoenix answered, only half paying attention.

  

   `Piece of shit machine. I did all this editing and the damn thing

   didn't save the changes,' Electron growled at the Commodore Amiga,

   with its 512 k of memory, sitting on the desk in his bedroom.

  

   It was January 1990 and both Phoenix and Electron were at home on

   holidays before the start of university.

  

   `Yeah. Wish I could get this thing working. Fucking hell. Work you!'

   Phoenix yelled. Electron could hear him typing at the other end of the

   phone while he talked. He had been struggling to get AUX, the Apple

   version of Unix, running on his Macintosh SE30 for days.

  

   It was difficult to have an uninterrupted conversation with Phoenix.

   If it wasn't his machine crashing, it was his grandmother asking him

   questions from the doorway of his room.

  

   `You wanna go through the list? How big is your file?' Phoenix asked,

   now more focused on the conversation.

  

   `Huh? Which file?'

  

   `The dictionary file. The words to feed into the password cracker,'

   Phoenix replied.

  

   Electron pulled up his list of dictionary words and looked

   at it. I'm going to have to cut this list down a bit, he thought. The

   dictionary was part of the password cracking program.

   The larger the dictionary, the longer it took the computer to crack a

   list of passwords. If he could weed out obscure words--words that

   people were unlikely to pick as passwords--then he could make his