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   or even penetrated some of those himself, he was happy to take the

   credit in the Times.


   This was a red-letter day for Phoenix.


   Electron, however, was furious. How could Phoenix be so stupid? He

   knew that Phoenix had an ego, that he talked too much, and that his

   tendency to brag had grown worse over time, fed by the skyrocketing

   success of the Australian hackers. Electron knew all of that, but he

   still couldn't quite believe that Phoenix had gone so far as to strut

   and preen like a show pony for the New York Times.


   To think that he had associated with Phoenix. Electron was disgusted.

   He had never trusted Phoenix--a caution now proved wise. But he had

   spent hours with him on the phone, with most of the information

   flowing in one direction. But not only did Phoenix show no discretion

   at all in dealing with the paper, he bragged about doing things that

   Electron had done! If Phoenix had to talk--and clearly he should have

   kept his mouth shut--he should have at least been honest about the

   systems for which he could claim credit.


   Electron had tried with Phoenix. Electron had suggested that he stop

   talking to the security guys. He had continually urged caution and

   discretion. He had even subtly withdrawn each time Phoenix suggested

   one of his hair-brained schemes to show off to a security bigwig.

   Electron had done this in the hope that Phoenix might get the hint.

   Maybe, if Phoenix couldn't hear someone shouting advice at him, he

   might at least listen to someone whispering it. But no. Phoenix was

   far too thick for that.


   The Internet--indeed, all hacking--was out of bounds for weeks, if not

   months. There was no chance the Australian authorities would let a

   front-page story in the Times go by un-heeded. The Americans would be

   all over them. In one selfish act of hubris, Phoenix had ruined the

   party for everyone else.


   Electron unplugged his modem and took it to his father. During exams,

   he had often asked his father to hide it. He didn't have the

   self-discipline needed to stay away on his own and there was no other

   way Electron could keep himself from jacking in--plugging his modem

   into the wall. His father had become an expert at hiding the device,

   but Electron usually still managed to find it after a few days,

   tearing the house apart until he emerged, triumphant, with the modem

   held high above his head. Even when his father began hiding the modem

   outside the family home it would only postpone the inevitable.


   This time, however, Electron vowed he would stop hacking until the

   fallout had cleared--he had to. So he handed the modem to his father,

   with strict instructions, and then tried to distract himself by

   cleaning up his hard drive and disks. His hacking files had to go too.

   So much damning evidence of his activities. He deleted some files and

   took others on disks to store at a friend's house. Deleting files

   caused Electron considerable pain, but there was no other way. Phoenix

   had backed him into a corner.


   Brimming with excitement, Phoenix rang Electron on a sunny March



   `Guess what?' Phoenix was jumping around like an eager puppy at the

   other end of the line. `We made the nightly news right across the US!'