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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   and recombining basic information such as a user's name into new



   `It's 24000 words. Too damn big,' Electron said. Paring down a

   dictionary was a game of trade-offs. The fewer words in a cracking

   dictionary, the less time it was likely to take a computer to break

   the encrypted passwords. A smaller dictionary, however, also meant

   fewer guesses and so a reduced chance of cracking the password of any

   given account.


   `Hmm. Mine's 24328. We better pare it down together.'


   `Yeah. OK. Pick a letter.'


   `C. Let's start with the Cs.'


   `Why C?'


   `C. For my grandmother's cat, Cocoa.'


   `Yeah. OK. Here goes. Cab, Cabal. Cabala. Cabbala.' Electron paused.

   `What the fuck is a Cabbala?'


   `Dunno. Yeah. I've got those. Not Cabbala. OK, Cabaret. Cabbage. Fuck,

   I hate cabbage. Who'd pick Cabbage as their password?'


   `A Pom,' Electron answered.


   `Yeah,' Phoenix laughed before continuing.


   Phoenix sometimes stopped to think about Force's warning, but usually

   he just pushed it to one side when it crept, unwelcomed, into his

   thoughts. Still, it worried him. Force took it seriously enough. Not

   only had he stopped associating with Electron, he appeared to have

   gone very, very quiet.


   In fact, Force had found a new love: music. He was writing and

   performing his own songs. By early 1990 he seemed so busy with his

   music that he had essentially put The Realm on ice. Its members took

   to congregating on a machine owned by another Realm member, Nom, for a

   month or so.


   Somehow, however, Phoenix knew that wasn't all of the story. A hacker

   didn't pick up and walk away from hacking just like that. Especially

   not Force. Force had been obsessed with hacking. It just didn't make

   sense. There had to be something more. Phoenix comforted himself with

   the knowledge that he had followed Force's advice and had stayed away

   from Electron. Well, for a while anyway.


   He had backed right off, watched and waited, but nothing happened.

   Electron was as active in the underground as ever but he hadn't been

   busted. Nothing had changed. Maybe Force's information had been wrong.

   Surely the feds would have busted Electron by now if they were going

   to do anything. So Phoenix began to rebuild his relationship with

   Electron. It was just too tempting. Phoenix was determined not to let

   Force's ego impede his own progress.


   By January 1990, Electron was hacking almost all the time. The only

   time he wasn't hacking was when he was sleeping, and even then he

   often dreamed of hacking. He and Phoenix were sailing past all the