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   was lucky he had escaped unidentified. NorTel had discovered him

   before they could put a trace on the line, but the company would

   almost certainly put a trace on the dial-up lines now. NorTel was very

   tight with Telecom. If anyone could get a trace up quickly, NorTel

   could. Mendax had to warn Prime Suspect and Trax.

  

   First thing in the morning, Mendax rang Trax and told him to stay away

   from NorTel. Then he tried Prime Suspect.

  

   The telephone was engaged.

  

   Perhaps Prime Suspect's mother was on the line, chatting. Maybe Prime

   Suspect was talking to a friend.

  

   Mendax tried again. And again. And again. He began to get worried.

   What if Prime Suspect was on NorTel at that moment? What if a trace

   had been installed? What if they had called in the Feds?

  

   Mendax phoned Trax and asked if there was any way they could

   manipulate the exchange in order to interrupt the call. There wasn't.

  

   `Trax, you're the master phreaker,' Mendax pleaded. `Do something.

   Interrupt the connection. Disconnect him.'

  

   `Can't be done. He's on a step-by-step telephone exchange. There's

   nothing we can do.'

  

   Nothing? One of Australia's best hacker-phreaker teams couldn't break

   one telephone call. They could take control of whole telephone

   exchanges but they couldn't interrupt one lousy phone call. Jesus.

  

   Several hours later, Mendax was able to get through to his fellow IS

   hacker. It was an abrupt greeting.

  

   `Just tell me one thing. Tell me you haven't been in NorTel today?'

  

   There was a long pause before Prime Suspect answered.

  

   `I have been in NorTel today.'