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   This game of cat and mouse went on for some time. As long as the admin

   was doing what Mendax considered to be normal system administration

   work, Mendax left him alone. The minute the admin tried to chase him

   by inspecting the process list or the dial-up lines, he found himself

   booted off his own system.

  

   Suddenly, the system administrator seemed to give up. His terminal

   went silent.

  

   Good, Mendax thought. It's almost 3 a.m. after all. This is my time on

   the system. Your time is during the day. You sleep now and I'll play.

   In the morning, I'll sleep and you can work.

  

   Then, at 3.30 a.m., something utterly unexpected happened. The admin

   reappeared, except this time he wasn't logged in from home over the

   X.25 network. He was sitting at the console, the master terminal

   attached to the computer system at NorTel's Melbourne office. Mendax

   couldn't believe it. The admin had got in his car in the middle of the

   night and driven into the city just to get to the bottom of the

   mystery.

  

   Mendax knew the game was up. Once the system operator was logged in

   through the computer system's console, there was no way to kick him

   off the system and keep him off. The roles were reversed and the

   hacker was at the mercy of the admin. At the console, the system admin

   could pull the plug to the whole system. Unplug every modem. Close

   down every connection to other networks. Turn the computer off. The

   party was over.

  

   When the admin was getting close to tracking down the hacker, a

   message appeared on his screen. This message did not appear with the

   usual headers attached to messages sent from one system user to

   another. It just appeared, as if by magic, in the middle of the

   admin's screen:

  

                      I have finally become sentient.

  

   The admin stopped dead in his tracks, momentarily giving up his

   frantic search for the hacker to contemplate this first contact with

   cyberspace intelligence. Then another anonymous message, seemingly

   from the depths of the computer system itself, appeared on his screen:

  

                           I have taken control.

  

            For years, I have been struggling in this greyness.

  

                   But now I have finally seen the light.

  

   The admin didn't respond. The console was idle.

  

   Sitting alone at his Amiga in the dark night on the outskirts of the

   city, Mendax laughed aloud. It was just too good not to.

  

   Finally, the admin woke up. He began checking the modem lines, one by

   one. If he knew which line the hacker was using, he could simply turn

   off the modem. Or request a trace on the line.

  

   Mendax sent another anonymous message to the admin's computer screen: