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   There was only one possible reason he might need to return to court.

  

   If Phoenix fought out his case in a full criminal trial, the DPP would

   put Electron on the stand to testify against him. It would be an ugly

   scene.

  

   The inmates of HM Prison Kirkham, on the north-west coast of England,

   near Preston, had heard all about Pad and Gandalf by the time they

   arrived. They greeted the hackers by name. They'd seen the reports on

   telly, especially about how Gandalf had hacked NASA--complete with

   footage of the space shuttle taking off. Some TV reporter's idea of

   subtle irony--`Two hackers were sent down today' as the space shuttle

   went up.

  

   Kirkham was far better than Brixton, where the hackers had spent the

   first days of their sentence while awaiting transfer. Brixton was what

   Pad always envisioned prison would look like, with floors of barred

   cells facing onto an open centre and prisoners only allowed out of

   their cells for scheduled events such as time in the yard. It was a

   place where hard-core criminals lived. Fortunately, Pad and Gandalf

   had been placed in the same cell while they waited to be assigned to

   their final destination.

  

   After ten days inside Brixton Pad and Gandalf were led from their

   cell, handcuffed and put in a coach heading toward the windy west

   coast.

  

   During the drive, Pad kept looking down at his hand, locked in shiny

   steel to Gandalf's hand, then he looked back up again at his fellow

   hacker. Clearing his throat and turning away from Gandalf's difficult

   grin--his friend now on the edge of laughing himself--Pad struggled.

   He tried to hold down the muscles of his face, to pull them back from

   laughter.

  

   A minimum security prison holding up to 632 prisoners, Kirkham looked

   vaguely like a World War II RAF base with a large collection of

   free-standing buildings around the grounds. There were no real walls,

   just a small wire fence which Pad soon learned prisoners routinely

   jumped when the place started to get to them.

  

   For a prison, Kirkham was pretty good. There was a duck pond, a

   bowling green, a sort of mini-cinema which showed films in the early

   evenings, eight pay phones, a football field, a cricket pavilion and,

   best of all, lots of fields. Prisoners could have visits on weekday

   afternoons between 1.10 and 3.40, or on the weekend.

  

   Luck smiled on the two hackers. They were assigned to the same billet

   and, since none of the other prisoners objected, they became

   room-mates. Since they were sentenced in May, they would serve their

   time during summer. If they were `of good behaviour' and didn't get

   into trouble with other prisoners, they would be out in three months.

  

   Like any prison, Kirkham had its share of prisoners who didn't get

   along with each other. Mostly, prisoners wanted to know what you were

   in for and, more particularly, if you had been convicted of a sex

   crime. They didn't like sex crime offenders and Pad heard about a pack

   of Kirkham prisoners who dragged one of their own, screaming, to a

   tree, where they tried to hang him for being a suspected rapist. In

   fact, the prisoner hadn't been convicted of anything like rape. He had

   simply refused to pay his poll tax.