Early the next morning Jamie parked his bike in front of Dylan's house and went up to the door to knock. Dylan opened the door and let him in, "Hi Jamie, come on in."
Dylan led the way to the kitchen. Dylan's parents were sitting at the table drinking coffee.
"Mom, Dad, this is my friend Jamie. Jamie, this is my mom, Barbara and my dad, David"
"Hi Mister and Missus Robinson, it's nice to meet you."
"Jamie, it's nice to meet you as well."
David stood up and shook hands with him before picking up his cup and draining it, "Well, I've got to get to work." He gave his wife a quick kiss and hugged Dylan. He patted Jamie on the shoulder as he went by, "Nice to have met you Jamie, see you this evening Dylan."
"Bye Honey, see you this evening. Jamie, have a seat. Would you like something?"
"No thank you, Ma'am. I've already had something for breakfast."
She nodded and went back to reading the paper.
Dylan finished up and took his dish to the sink, rinsed it out and put it in the dishwasher. There was a knock on the door and Dylan went to answer it, "Jamie, Josh is here, let's go."
Jamie said goodbye to Dylan's mom and followed Dylan outside. Josh was sitting on his bike ready to go. The two boys smiled at each other.
"Morning, Josh." They just looked at each other.
Dylan felt happy for some reason as he pushed his bike out from the garage. He didn't know where it came from, but it felt good. He smiled at his two friends as they looked at each other.
"Hey guys, it would be nice if we weren't late to school."
"Huh, oh, yeah, we should go."
Dylan ducked his head to hide his smile as he rode by them leading the way. Jamie and Josh rode behind him next to each other. It only took a few minutes for them to get to school. They locked up the bikes and headed to homeroom. Jamie was behind the other two because he had to stop and tie his shoe. When he got up and started to hurry to catch up with his friends, he felt someone kick his foot so that it hooked behind the other foot causing him to stumble and nearly fall, dropping his backpack.
"Having trouble walking, homes?"
Jamie turned around and saw the same large Hispanic kid and a couple of his friends standing there. He looked like he was going to say something else when they were interrupted.
"Is there a problem here Enrique?"
They looked toward the origin of the voice and Jamie saw the Indian guy from his class, Dakota, standing there.
Enrique's eyes narrowed, "Nah, the kid here just tripped over his own clumsy feet."
"Yeah, I know, I saw. Leave him alone Enrique."
"Or what? You gonna do something?"
"If necessary, so fuck off."
Enrique looked at Dakota and saw the calm on his face. Enrique was bigger but he wasn't sure that he wanted to take on Dakota. Someone smaller like Jamie, no problem, but Dakota, not so much. He then glared at Jamie before walking off. Dakota watched him and his buddies walk away before he turned to Jamie just as Dylan and Josh came back to see what was holding Jamie up. They had passed Enrique and his friends on their way to Jamies's side.
Josh went over to Jamie with a concerned look on his face. "You okay?"
They both looked at Dakota who was smiling at them.
"Ricky used to be okay, but he's turned into a dick in the last year. I think it's because of his older brother. If he bugs you, let me know. Oh, I'm Dakota Hawkins. Aren't we in a class or two?"
"Thanks. Yeah, like all of them. I'm Jamie Carpenter."
"Nice to meet you Jamie. Well, gotta get to class, see you there."
The three boys watched Dakota walk away.
"What was that about?"
"I don't know. That Ricky guy has been a dick for awhile now, picking on me. Mostly little irritating things, I guess 'cuz I'm smaller."
"What did Dakota do?"
"He just told him to fuck off."
"Well that was pretty cool of him. I wonder how he got Ricky to leave like that. Ricky's a pretty big kid. I think he had to repeat a grade or something. Dakota sounds like someone to be friends with."
"I don't know. He's not much bigger than us, but it looked like Ricky didn't really want to mess with Dakota. But yeah, he does seem pretty cool."
The bell rang right then, interrupting them, so they hurried to class.
Sean watched Dakota come in the room and take his seat in front of him. He gave a quiet sigh as he looked at him from behind. He really loved the way Dakota's long hair flowed when he moved. He wanted to reach out and feel it. Since he had been sitting behind Dakota, he had started to reach out and touch his hair a couple of times, but he stopped himself when he realized what he had been about to do. Sean felt like someone was watching him and he slowly and carefully looked around the room. He slowly swiveled his head until he saw someone looking around as well, like he was looking for something. It was the guy named Dylan. Sean was worried that Dylan had seen him look at Dakota or maybe even heard the sigh he had let out just a moment ago. He tried to look as if he wasn't looking but he wanted to see what Dylan would do. He watched him out of the corner of his eye. He saw Dylan pause for a moment as he looked at Sean and Sean held his breath, scared he would be found out, but Dylan turned away with a slight furrowing of his brow and turned his attention to his friends. Sean let out a breath that he had not known he had been holding in. He was brought out of his daydreaming by the teacher calling his name.
Later, as Sean walked through the hall to his next class he was jostled around as he normally was, since he was just about the shortest student of the 8th grade. A couple of times he was almost pushed down by bigger students. One of the times the guy who had bumped him, turned and apologized for it at least. He was in a hurry and hadn't seen him. The other time he was nearly knocked down was more on purpose.
"Out of the way, Runt," the kid who pushed him into the lockers, snarled at him as he rushed by. This was the way things usually went for Sean. He was always getting pushed around by most of the bigger guys. Most were accidents, but some of them were on purpose. There was little he could do about it, so he just accepted it as the way things were and he did his best to ignore it. It did hurt his feelings some, at least the times when it was on purpose. The times when it was just because they didn't see him and it was an accident didn't bother him too much. However, what did bother him was that he was shorter than a lot of the guys in his grade and he wished he wasn't so short. He liked playing sports, and he wasn't too bad at it, he just wasn't very strong. Normally he was overlooked because of his size by the others when they picked teams
The one thing he was real good at was computers. He knew all about them and had even built his own computer that he used at home. So he always looked forward to the computer class. In the class that day, he was able to quickly finish up the assignment for the day. He was usually ahead of everyone else in the class, so he decided to do some surfing. He kept an eye out for the teacher and would quickly pull up his program and pretend to be working on it if the teacher came near. He had already defeated the schools security program so he could surf the web as he wished. He went on one of the websites he liked to go to so that he could chat with other computer geeks, including some that he thought were probably hackers. He wasn't on the site very long before he was contacted by another user.
Hlander: hey Seadak, what's happening?
Seadak: nothing much, who are you? Have we talked before?
Hlander: no one important, I thought I recognized your nick.
Seadak: Oh. Nah, it's a new handle I made up.
Hlander: why new, did you do something you shouldn't?
Seadak: nothing like that, just wanted a new one.
Hlander: well sorry for the mistake, I'll let you go. Talk to you later.
Seadak: sure, later.
He closed down the site he had been on since the class was almost over. He logged out of the computer and started putting his books in his backpack. He headed off to his next class. He was doing his best to stay out of people's way, especially the biggest guys. He had almost made it to class before, once again, someone accidently ran into him and he started to fall, but he felt that person grab him and keep him from falling. He turned around and looked at who had done it and he froze, it was Dakota. Dakota was smiling at him and had his hand out to help him straighten back up.
Sean automatically reached out and when their hands met Sean yelped as he felt a shock from their joined hands. "Ouch."
Dakota smiled at him, "Must be a lot of static electricity in the air."
Once he was back on his feet, he just stood there looking at Dakota for a few moments until Dakota spoke up, "Uh, can I have my hand back?"
Sean looked down at their joined hands, "Oh, uh yeah. Sorry."
He quickly let go of Dakota's hand and looked down to hide the blush. He could see that Dakota was still standing in front of him and he glanced up. Dakota was smiling at him, "I'm Dakota."
"I'm uh S…Sean."
"Well, uh Sean. Where are you headed?"
"Just Sean, um, History with Missus Crosley."
"Okay, Just Sean, me too. C'mon let's go."
"My name is Sean."
Sean said it quietly and Dakota paused for a moment, "You do know I was kidding you, right?"
Sean hesitated a moment before he nodded and turned to walk beside him. Dakota let his arm drop across Sean's shoulders as they walked to class. When he did that, Sean froze for a moment and then relaxed. He was normally used to guys of Dakota's size putting their hand on him to beat on him or push him around, not be friendly like this. For the first time in awhile, Sean had no one shove him to the ground or against the lockers. It felt good and Dakota's arm resting across his shoulders made him tingly and he hoped the feeling would last. When they got to class, Dakota sat next to him and that caused him to enjoy the class more than he normally would.
After class Dakota walked with him for a little bit until they had to go their separate ways to get to their lockers. "See ya tomorrow Just Sean."
Sean just smiled, "Bye Dakota."
Sean felt lightness in his step as he went to his locker. He got everything he needed and as he was hitching his backpack up to his shoulder, it was knocked out of his hand.
Sean looked and saw one of the bigger kids that usually picked on him. Calvin Grantham. Sean picked up his backpack and saw that a corner of it had a small tear where the corner of the book had ripped through the side. Sean sighed and gritted his teeth as he settled it on his back and glared in the direction that Calvin had gone. He went to the cage and got his bike out to ride home.
That evening, Sean got on his computer and went to the school's website and used his backdoor password. He searched around until he found Dakota's school file. He felt a little guilty as he looked through it. He saw that Dakota had high grades. He was a little surprised, he didn't expect someone like Dakota to have grades that high for someone who looked and acted like a jock. Then he realized he was stereotyping him and felt a little shame for that. He was glad to know that Dakota was smart too. He wrote down Dakota's address and phone number before logging off. He decided to do some surfing on some of the chat rooms he frequented. He was only on the site for a little while before one of the people on the site contacted him.
Hlander: Hey Seadak.
Seadak: Hey Hlander. What are you up too?
Hlander: Nothing much, you?
Hlander: You wanna talk privately?
Sean read that, and wondered who this person was. It was kind of strange but he knew he was smart enough to not reveal anything and he had talked to other hackers before and learned a few things, so he decided to see what the Hlander had to say.
Hlander set it up and they went to a private chat room.
Hlander: You interested in learning some hacking skills.
Seadak: Yeah, I guess. Why are you offering?
Hlander: The more hackers, the freer we are. We are the watchdogs of those who think they're better than others.
Sean figured it was another hacker he had never met who wanted to pass on some knowledge.
Hlander: You tried to hack into any sites?
Seadak: Yeah, some.
Hlander: Show me.
Sean entered some commands and it allowed Hlander to see a window on his desktop. He opened a separate window and controlled what Hlander could see. He then headed towards his school website and in seconds was in the school files. He paused there.
$START RECORDING $
Hlander: Setup a back door password huh. Was it hard for you to hack in originally?
Seadak: Nah, it was pretty easy, weak security.
Hlander: So do you go in and change your grades or the grades of your friends?
Seadak: No, I don't need to cheat to get good grades and I don't really have many friends and I wouldn't do it for them either for the same reason.
Hlander: Nicely said. I'm impressed with your attitude. I think the same thing. I would never have changed any of my grades either. You want me to show you something?
Hlander did something on his computer and soon Sean was watching as Hlander showed him a program that he had written.
Hlander: What can you tell me about this?
Sean looked at it and had Hlander scroll up and down a couple of times before answering.
Seadak: I think it's a search program that uses different algorithms to come up with possible passwords for getting through the security on a website, but it looks like it would only work on the security of a website with low level security. But this one has some code in it that I haven't seen before.
Hlander: That's good. That is pretty much what it is. How about if I send it to you and let you play around with it and see what you can make of it.
Seadak: Sure. It looks interesting.
Hlander: Tell me where to send it.
Sean hesitated for a moment before he gave Hlander one of his email addresses. It seemed like he was a kid because he had mentioned that he would not have changed his grades either.
Seadak: You can send it to Micmac@gmail.com
Hlander: Okay, it's on its way.
Seadak: Thanks. Well I've got some work to do. See ya Hlander.
Hlander: See ya Seadak. Let me know what you think about the program.
Seadak: Okay bye.
They broke the connection and Sean got to work on his homework. After he was finished, he logged onto his gmail account. The email from Hlander was there. The address was email@example.com. Sean checked the attachment with his virus program and found nothing, so he saved a copy and opened it up. For the next hour he looked through the program. From time to time he made a change or added something to one of the lines of code. He finally shut the computer down and went to bed.
The rest of the week at school was filled with the usual irritations of being pushed around. He really wished he would just start growing. This being short and skinny really sucked. There was a bright side to things though that made the irritations not so bad, Dakota was hanging out with him. He didn't know why, but he wasn't going to complain about it. Even though Dakota was a jock, he was not typical. He liked school, liked learning and seemed to be easily as smart as Sean was. In fact, Sean had kind of noticed that there appeared to be quite a few smart guys in his classes. This made him curious and he decided to log into the school system that evening and see if he could get any info about the grades of some of his classmates.
At home that evening he was quickly in the system. He searched and soon found the class grade file for his first class. He used the program from Hlander and he found that it quickly found the password for the teacher's file. He scanned through the file and found that there were eight boys, including himself, in the class who seemed to be at the front of the pack in regards to grades. All of them had straight A's. He went to each of his classes, and with Hlander's program he made short work of any passwords and although he sort of knew it, he confirmed that all eight of the boys were in all his classes and all of them had the highest grades.
He found that depending on the class, sometimes two or three of the boys might have a slightly higher grade point average than the other boys of the group. He figured that meant that maybe those were the classes that those particular guys were a little better at, or liked better than the other classes. He saw that he had the highest average in the computer classes, which was expected since he really loved working with computers. He didn't try to find out anything else about any of the boys besides their grade. Well, except for Dakota, he did snoop around a little bit. He was surprised and happy to find out that they only lived about half a mile away from each other. He thought that was pretty cool.
That weekend he wanted to see what he could do with Hlander's program. So, Saturday evening he booted up, got online and then stared at the computer. He wasn't sure where to start at first, and then he remembered that March Air Force base was just a few miles away. He wondered if the program was good enough after the changes he had made to it. He typed some commands into the address bar and soon he had logged into and through several different servers. He next got onto the website for March AFB and searched for the air force units that were located there. He selected the 144th Fighter Wing. On the address bar of the website page he paused for a moment before he added a series of characters to the URL that was in the address bar and hit enter. He wasn't sure why they seemed to fit into the url, but they did. The screen changed to a screen with the unit insignia and a 'Password Required' warning. Sean ran the program and it took a couple of minutes again but pretty soon he saw the password field fill in and the screen opened up. He smiled in triumph and started going through the website.
He was soon looking at weapon and plane manifests, all of the files were marked Secret. He saw a hyperlink marked 'operational orders' and clicked on the link. Another password field popped up and Sean ran the program again. It took a little longer and then the password field filled in, but this time the words 'Password Denied' came up in bold red letters. Sean got nervous and quickly logged out of everything and shut down his computer. He got up and went into the living room to watch TV with his parents before going to bed. He was a little nervous that night and was worried that his attempt to get into the classified files might have been detected, so he didn't sleep very well that night.
He didn't get onto his computer at all for the rest of the weekend. Instead he went for a ride on his bike. He sort of found his way to Dakota's neighborhood and looked at his house. He didn't want to get closer in case Dakota saw him, but now he knew what his house looked like.
He was pretty sure he would be okay concerning the computer and all, but there was still that little bit of worry that his attempt might have been traced. Except for school he didn't use a computer until Wednesday. He figured that if there was a trace, they probably would have found him by then. He was sure he had hidden his trail pretty well, so he logged onto his computer, once again going through several servers before checking his email. He found an email from Hlander. He opened it and read it.
What did you think about the program? If you want to chat about it, contact me Wed night at 9pm, by clicking on the hyperlink in this message and it will lead you to me. It's entirely up to you. If you don't want to, or are scared to, I understand. Talk to you later, maybe.
talk to hlander
Sean checked the time, it was 8pm so he had an hour to decide whether to click the link or not. He decided to step away from the computer for a little while and watch TV. He got into the show and wasn't really watching the time at all. As the show ended, he picked up the remote to look at the cable guide and when he opened the guide, he saw the time and it reminded him of the email. He looked over at his computer for a few moments before he sighed and got up. He moved the mouse to clear the screen saver and opened the email. He hesitated for a moment, the arrow hovering over the hyperlink, and then he clicked it.
Many miles away a man sat down in front of his computer with a can of coke just as a notification came to his computer screen. He smiled with satisfaction as he clicked on the notification and opened up a window.
Hlander: Hey Seadak. Glad you could make it.
Seadak: Hey Hlander. So what did you want to talk about?
Hlander smiled before he started typing his answer.
Hlander: What did you think of the program?
Seadak: It was pretty cool.
Hlander: Did you do anything with it?
Seadak: Yeah, I did.
Seadak: I hacked into an air force website.
Hlander: How did you do that?
Seadak: I made a few changes to it and it worked, well partially anyway.
Hlander: What changes, can I see?
For the next hour, Sean and Hlander talked about the changes he had made to the program and after some coaxing, Sean told him what he had done and about the password denied message. They continued talking about the program and with the two of them brainstorming they came up with some more changes to the program. Hlander was impressed and he offered to show him some more tricks. Hlander sent him another program and explained that it was a more powerful version of the first program. They continued chatting until after ten pm. They would have continued for longer but Sean's mom came to the door and reminded him that it was late. He nodded.
Seadak: Gotta go. Thanks. I'll let you know what happens.
Hlander: Sure, talk to you later.
Sean logged out and turned off the computer. He got ready for bed and slipped under the covers. He put his hands behind his head and looked up at the ceiling. For a little while his mind ran around with the possibilities of what he could do with the program that Hlander had sent to him before he finally rolled onto his side and closed his eyes.
Miles away the man stood up with a satisfied smile and dropped his empty can in the recycle bin he had in the kitchen. Back in his office, he made some notes before logging off his computer and heading outside to sit on his porch and look out at the trees, thinking about the last hour talking to Seadak. It made him smile.
In computer class the next day he was making some notes about the program. He had looked at it again before he went to school and a few things came to mind so he was jotting them down in his notebook so that he wouldn't forget. When class was over, Dakota came over to him followed by three other boys. Sean saw that it was three of the other smart kids.
"Ready to go Sean?"
"Um, I guess. Go where?"
Dakota gave him a confused look, "You know, US History class?"
Sean blushed, "Oh, yeah sure."
"Sean these guys are Jamie, Dylan and Josh. Guys this is Just Sean."
"See, Just Sean."
"Sean, not Just Sean."
Dakota gave him a mischievous smile and then surprised him by putting an arm around his shoulders and pulling him to his side.
"Kidding, kidding, my friend Sean, Guys. Guys, my friend Sean."
"Nice to meet you, Sean"
"You guys too."
"Well, let's get going so we're not late to class."
The five of them left the room and headed to History class. They talked as they walked. Dakota left his arm on Sean's shoulders as they walked. Sean loved it and again he didn't have to worry about being shoved around. He thought he could get used to this.
All of them had bikes so they met at the cage after school and said their goodbyes there. Dylan, Josh and Jamie headed south towards their homes.
"Where do you live Sean?"
"On Dave Circle."
"You take Fruitvale over there past Sanderson to Millie Drive and then up a couple of streets to Dave."
"That's pretty close to me. I live on Merrimac Lane. You go to Eaton and before you get to Sanderson you turn onto Sunset Cliff and the first street is Merrimac. Since we're so close, and it's kind of on the way, you want to stop by my house?"
Sean smiled, in fact he had to work hard to keep from shouting with joy, but he was able to school his expression before answering, "Sure, I guess I could for a little while."
"Cool. Let's go."
Dakota led the way to his house. It was a pretty short ride to get there. When they arrived, he had Sean bring his bike on the porch so it wasn't lying in the middle of the yard. He opened the door with his key and led Sean upstairs to his bedroom. As they walked through the house he saw a lot of Indian decorations, paintings and other decorations. When they got to Dakota's room, it looked like a typical thirteen year olds room, although like him it wasn't cluttered. Things were picked up and put away. On the walls were some sports pictures as well as Indian pictures and decorations like the rest of the house. There was a computer and printer on the desk.
Dakota dropped his backpack on the bed before going to the bathroom nearby. Sean wandered around the room a little and looked at things as he took his off and set it by the desk. He saw sports trophies from baseball and football with pictures of Dakota in his uniform. He also saw a picture of Dakota and his parents. He saw that Dakota's dad was just like him and he wore his hair long as well. His mom was white. Sean moved over to the computer and looked at it. It was an older computer, still pretty good, but not as good as his was. When Dakota came back in he turned to him.
"Where are your parents?"
"At work. So you want something to drink?"
While Dakota went for the drinks, Sean looked the computer over. When Dakota came back and handed Sean a Pepsi, Sean pointed at the computer.
"How old is your Dell?"
"Three or four years, it was my Mom's old one."
"You know, if you want, I could maybe fix it up a little. I built my own computer that I use at home."
"Really, like do what to it?"
"It depends on what you have and what you want to put into it. I could help you put in some new parts that will make it faster if you want."
"Sounds good. When do you want to do it?'
"Well, I could look at it now if you want and then you can decide what you want to do."
"Okay. Go ahead."
Dakota turned it on and let Sean sit down when it was ready. Sean started going through the control panel and checking different settings. He pulled a small notebook out of his backpack and made notes in it. After he was finished he shut it down and then with Dakota's help he opened the CPU case and looked at the components inside for a little bit before closing it back up. He turned to Dakota.
"It's not bad, but you could use more RAM. The processor is pretty good, but you could use a better video card too. That way you could play some of the more recent games easily without any lag. It shouldn't cost too much, maybe a couple of hundred bucks. It'll be worth it."
"That sounds cool."
"Good, I'll find out what everything costs and let you know. Then you can decide what you want to do."
"I guess I better get home."
Dakota walked him to the front door, "I'll see you tomorrow at school."
"Yeah see ya," Sean waved as he rode off.
Dakota watched him ride down the street and out of sight before heading back inside.
Sean felt good. He had a new friend, and maybe three more with Dylan, Jamie and Josh. It had been a good day. At home he dropped his backpack on the bed of his room, got his homework out and worked on that until it was time for dinner. After dinner was over, he got on the computer to work with the program Hlander had sent to him and started working with it to incorporate some of the ideas he had had during class for it. He entered, moved and changed the code of the program for an hour or so, before stopping for the night so he could watch some TV. When he felt himself dozing off, he said goodnight to his parents and went to bed. His last thoughts were that he thought Dakota had a cool name.
The next evening after another good day at school he tried the new program. He got into the Hemet police department. The program helped him quickly get through the security and he was able to see who was presently in the lockup at that moment. He was able to see some incident reports about accidents and things like that. He lost track of time for a little while until he realized it was late, so he went to bed. He was feeling pretty good when he went to sleep that night.