Copyright © 2012 - 2014 by Kyle Aarons and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved
Ricky realized all eyes were on him as Steven turned and spoke, "So, how do we hack the government without getting caught?"
This started a whole lot of talk as all the others chimed in with ideas.
Ricky gulped and held up a finger. It took a few seconds for everyone to realize he wanted to speak, but once Steven noticed he cleared his throat and nodded over to Ricky. "Guys, come on. Ricky was the one who said he had a way, let's hear him out!"
Ricky cringed at the force of Steven's voice, but then so did a couple of the others. Those who didn't cringe and take a step back from Steven, quickly shut up. This left the floor totally open for Ricky; he shuffled his feet and spoke softly, "Mom convinced me to make you all something… she said it would help break the ice since I suck at making friends. They are kind of experimental, but I know they work…"
"OK, so what are they?" Craig demanded to know.
Ricky let out a quick squeaky sound as he spoke. "I'll be right back." The boy then rushed out of the room.
Alexander raised a questioning eyebrow at Keith, "Is he always so afraid?"
"Give him a chance, Alexander." Steven ordered while staring the smaller boy down. "Every one of us has had some kind of problems at home and I'm not going to let it happen here."
Alexander's jaw dropped some, "I didn't mean it like…"
"I don't really care." Steven cut off Alexander. "It won't take much for one of us to become an outcast and like it or not, it is tempting to vent on the weakest. I'm not going to let it happen, period. He earned his way here just like you did. Besides, before we saw the video of your robots, you had a bit of a target on your back."
Alexander's jaw dropped open is shock, clearly stung by the words. "Why?"
"Because a robotic vacuum sounded stupid to most of us." Craig cut in. "Every one of us can make a simple robotic vacuum. You didn't, but until we found out just how kick ass you can make a robot, you looked to have the weakest project. None of us have seen Ricky's yet nor do we really know him. He may blow all of us away, he may not. But Steven is right. We can't push him out. He is one of us."
"He's right," Glenn nodded in full agreement. "The last thing we need to do is turn on each other, even on accident. I came in here scared of Craig for no reason and almost ruined making one of the best friends I have ever had. He even has my mom eating out of his hand. Let's not judge!"
Alexander could see the others starting to turn on him so he held up both hands, "I really didn't mean it like it came out, sorry. My bad."
Steven moved up to Alexander, "It's OK, I just can't stand by and let anyone get pushed off like they aren't important. We all are, and we all have faults. We should be working to help each other out, not trying to find a target to pin on one of our backs."
"Steven is right, and no harm done, so let's drop this and move on." Scott responded cutting off more conversation on the topic. "What we should be doing is trying to figure out how we are going to convince Mr. Triumph to let us do this."
"Any ideas, Scott?" Keith spoke up. "You have spent more time with him than all of the rest of us combined."
Craig glanced over at Scott, "Keith has a point and your question is a good one. You rode with him and spent time at the table with him. The rest of us barely know him. What do you think?"
Scott scratched his head for a few seconds as he gave it some thought. "As strange as it sounds, I think the best bet would be for a couple of us to go to him and tell him exactly what we want to do and why. The problem is, I don't see him allowing us to do anything illegal unless there is a very good reason."
Ricky came back in rolling his second suitcase, effectively cutting off the conversation. He glanced around the room, then looked back at his suitcase. "There are seven bubble wrapped boxes, one for each of you."
Justin moved forward as Ricky unzipped the suitcase. "You don't have to buy our friendship, Ricky. You don't have to do this."
Ricky glanced up with a tight smile, "No, I want to. I know how stupid my project must sound, especially if you don't play role playing games. I didn't want to look like the dumb one, and this…" He patted the suitcase and his voice took on a hint of pride, "should show you I really do belong here."
This really peeked Alexander's interest. He was the first to kneel down and grab one of the bubble wrapped packages, "I don't even know what it could be, but you have my full attention!"
Craig snickered as he moved forward and grabbed the second one. A nudge from Justin along with a hidden finger point back toward Glenn, caused Craig to cringe and grab a second one. He then stood and patted Ricky on the back, "Thanks in advance." He then handed one of the tightly bubble wrapped packages over to Glenn.
While the others each moved forward and got one of the boxes, Alexander was already ripping his open like it was Christmas morning. He's excitement changed to confusion as he saw a notepad with an attached keyboard in one box and a large circular plastic disk with ten small antennas coming out which could be turned so they all pointed up ward. A closer inspection of the notebook let him know it was a droid base, but it was beyond highly modified. "What are these?"
A true smile spread across Ricky's face as he glanced over. "Call it whatever you want, but it is a hacker's dream and you won't find one of those at Best Buy!"
Glenn eyed the notepad, "You built in a full sized USB port and the case has a laptop battery in addition to the internal battery. I also see an antenna running out the back and it wraps into the case. I don't even know what it does yet and I already know it is cool!"
Steven also looked it over and shifted his gaze downward, "Ricky, there is no way I can repay you…"
Ricky shook his head, "Don't worry about it. Mom paid for them and all the extra parts. She makes plenty of money and if I come out of this with a single good friend it will be more than all the parties, team events, and other crazy stuff mom has forced on me thinking she could buy me a friend or two."
"But I have seen the basic notebooks, they are hundreds of dollars!" Steven countered.
"Pretty much petty cash, Steven." Ricky shook his head and smiled warmly over the concern he was feeling from Steven. "She is a chemist and is always in the lab. She doesn't even know what to do with all the money she makes from overtime and stuff. She's really like we are, only home when involved in a science project."
Ricky stood and held up his own, showing the same improvements the others were looking at plus a few others. "Go ahead and turn them on. They won't bite… at least not you…"
Alexander was first to power his up. After a few into windows he whistled softly, "You merged two operating systems?"
"Apple and windows." Ricky confirmed. "It runs both platforms seamlessly, but the set up takes a bit longer, sorry. Also it will ask for a fingerprint scan. You don't have to do it, but if you don't you will not be able to use the special feature I want you to all have access to."
It took the kids about five minutes to run though everything, including a full fingerprint scan of both hands which was done simply by putting their fingertips on the screen for five seconds. The machines then shut down and rebooted. The boys then had to put a finger in a box on the middle of the screen before the reboot would finish. Finally they found themselves looking at a massively powerful Droid device. Several aps were already installed, but one caught all their eyes.
Keith was the first to ask, "What is Mass-hack?"
Ricky giggled and actually shivered with some excitement. "Mass-hack is my baby! Keith, there is a push button on the bottom of the antenna array. Push it then pull the cable out of the compartment next to the longest antenna and hook it into your USB."
Keith did as instructed as the other six boys moved up to watch. All eyes were on Keith's notebook screen as an 8192 character encryption code was sent over to the notepad from the antenna array. The screen then went blank.
Keith frowned and glanced over with some concern, only to see a smirk grow on Ricky's face.
Ricky reached over and pulled the USB out and let the spring pull it back into the array. As soon as he did so the screen came back up, and but the Mass-Hack icon was glowing and spinning, making it look totally three dimensional. "Mass-Hack is now available. If you try to bring it up normally you will find it is a game. I hope you all like it, but to really access Mass-hack, double tap, then triple tap, then push your finger on and leave it for a second or two. This is the finger print ID. It will take a few seconds to confirm then just sit back and let the magic happen!"
Keith did as instructed. Shortly after he pushed his finger on the icon, the Mass Hack Icon expanded to fill the whole screen. It then faded and a spider web started getting spun starting from the middle of the screen and going out. After forty seconds there were 184 glowing points on the web.
Ricky pointed to the display. "Each one of those is an access point into the web. Red are secure, but being worked on, yellow are secure but already penetrated by Mass-Hack and green are open. Most are computers or smart phones with hot spot capabilities.
"Now tap eight of them we can get into. Realize yellows may have some intrusion countermeasures, but will not be operating as many devices as totally open points. You can select red and grey points as well, but reds get priority to intrusion by Mass-hack and will not be available until they turn yellow. Grey ones are tough nuts and have to be attacked with user help since Mass-hack couldn't find a quick password. It tries twenty-five thousand of the most common ones on each secure access point before it marks it grey.
Glenn gasped, "In less than a minute on dozens of targets?"
"Some of those yellows it penetrated quickly. The other red ones it is still working on. Depending on the number of secure access points, it can take up to ten minutes to turn all the reds either yellow or grey. You should see what it looks like in a big city!" Ricky's eyes gleamed, "If you watch, some of those red points are even now going yellow as it cracks them. The other thing to realize is Mass-hack sorts things by signal strength and distance. Because of this, the brighter the dot the better the signal strength, while the closer to the middle the closer the access point is to the user. For best use, the ideal is to find dots further away with decent signal strength, but don't just pick the furthest away points or you give your position away. Make your selections random. Some close, some far. Also you can change your connection points once Mass-Hack starts to detect someone probing a hotspot you are using or it sees a major slowdown which tends to indicate outside probing."
Alexander watched as Keith selected eight dots. He cocked his head to the side as he tried to grasp what he was seeing. "So we have to disconnect from one to connect to another? Doesn't it slow down the whole process?"
"Not even!" Ricky giggled with pure excitement. "Pull up a regular web browser, Keith. Then pull up a few of your favorite pages."
As the web browser came up the eight dots Keith had selected moved to the bottom of the screen and were numbered. As he started surfing the web, the numbers at the bottom of the screen lit up and faded. At any one time up to three were lit and one was fading.
It took nearly a minute for Steven to figure out what he was looking at. He turned to stare at Ricky, "Holy Shit! Are you kidding me?"
While most everyone turned to look at Steven, Ricky simply glanced over and gave a delighted nod.
Steven took a couple of deep breaths before he spoke, "Guys, his program is using three nodes at the same time and alternating which ones. If one starts to get hacked, it can be dropped and a new one put into the rotation. That's why everything is loading so fast too! He has somehow made the connections as seamless as he has the operating systems. With this, back tracing is all but impossible!"
"True," Ricky countered, "but it also comes with a 8192 character encryption and a range of just under a kilometer. If you use the long range feature you can only use seven connection points, since the larger antenna becomes it transmitter to your computer. You could be a kilometer away from this unit and still do this, the speed goes down a bit since it only uses two access points, not three. Finally the array is invisible. It will not show up as a hot spot, not even with another Mass-hack. The cable plug in not only sent over the unique encryption code, which changes with every session, it also sent over the frequency being used by the array. The delay and the blank screen was it finding an open one."
All eyes turned to Ricky as he smiled and spoke without any hint of his normal shyness, "So who wants to go hack the FCC now?"
Most of the kids looked over at Ricky with stunned silence. Only Glenn managed to find his voice, "We still have to convince Mr. Triumph to let us do this."
Steven took a deep breath and patted Ricky on the shoulder, "This had to cost thousands to build!"
"Don't worry. If anything thank my mom. She will be thrilled to know one of her 'buy Ricky some friends' schemes finally worked." He paused and his voice dropped back to its normal soft and shy tone."Um, maybe, if a few of you thanked her and invited me to come see you a few times, she would stop making me miserable by putting me in some other youth program or sport!"
"Any time!" Keith stated as he continued to play with the Mass-hack, unselecting some hotspots and putting others in just to get a better feel for how it worked.
"Agreed!" Craig stated with complete conviction as he activated his Mass-hack as well.
"OK, we have the tools we need, but we still need permission to go out and do this." Scott reminded the others."
"What would be a good reason?" Keith asked. "I can't see him just letting us go hacking into the FCC, even with what Scott has told us."
Scott nodded in agreement, "He told me he wanted to help kids like us. He didn't say outright, but I got the feeling he was a lot like we are when he was younger and something bad happened. I am good at reading people and he doesn't hide his feelings very well. Ashwood's policies are hurting lots of kids, yanking adopted kids out of loving homes because he doesn't like gay couples and says they are bad influences. Maybe we could use something along those lines as an in."
Craig shrugged, "It would be nicer to have something firm, where we are helping one person or something. If we have a target with a name attached, it would be harder for him to say no."
"My brother is missing…" Scott volunteered. "Mr. Triumph already said he would be willing to help if I found some proof something bad happened."
"So we do something illegal to try to find proof?" Glenn wondered aloud. "I don't see him going for something like that, but once we are in… Well, I'll sure help poke around for you, Scott."
"Me too." Alexander nodded eagerly. "Just point the way, because my hacking skills are way sub-par compared to what it looks like Ricky is capable of."
Ricky's demeanor once again changed to being a great deal more confident as he spoke. "If we can break up into teams and do multiple assaults with Mass-hack you all can poke and prod and I'll go for the home run. The more holes you can create, the better the chance I can hijack a government signal and let it drag me all the way to the source."
"So you are going to use us as decoys?" Keith asked, clearly a bit stung by the comment.
"No… I mean, kind of… Look, I know how to use this system. I tried to use it against someone once, but the guy keeps his important stuff off line. I guess he is smarter than I gave him credit for, but I sure blitzed a few of his… I guess friends would be a good a word as any." Ricky clenched his fist in frustration at his inability to escape the man's clutches, but hid it well enough as he turned to look back at Keith.
"I am wanting you all to get as much information as you can with what you know and can figure out. I am not trying to use you… Well, I guess I am in a way, but the more havoc you create the better chance I can go deep, really deep. Plus, if I get in the way I am planning, then the longer you keep them distracted the more time I will have inside their firewalls."
Steven nodded, "Guys, this is really his show. Think of it as a mining operation. All of us do the digging and find a few hunks of gold as we do so, but in doing so we open up the passage for him to get the big hunk of gold and get out with it before it caves in on him. If we do this, we help Scott; we get the information on Ashwood, and we may even be able to help Justin. If it means I get used a bit, who cares?"
Alexander nodded in full agreement. "Who knows, we may actually swing this entire election. How many kids can say they even tried to determine who the next President of the U.S. is? Yet, we have that chance; how can we possible say no?" He glanced over at Ricky with infinitely more respect, "I'm ready to be used!"
This got a burst of laughter out of all the others, even Ricky.
"The most important thing is trying to help Scott, and as Justin said, he could use a hand with own Ashwood Junior," Steven reminded everyone.
Craig turned to Justin, "Dude, if you need help, no matter what it is, all you had to do is ask. We have your back, but the more you tell us the more we can help."
Justin saw the others nodding and realized there was a chance the others here could be fully trusted. With shaking hands he closed his eyes as he picked up his cell phone and battery. He then held it out in Steven's direction. "Here, maybe this will get Mr. Triumph on board. Just show them…"
Steven moved over and pushed Justin's hand down, "Dude, they don't have to see, no one does. You don't have to do this. "
"Yeah, yeah, I do." Justin gulped. "Besides, you're right. If I don't do it now, today, it will only get harder. I can't go home with this hanging over me. After everything they have done to me, and this last message I know it will only get worse. He has something bad planed for me, and I can't stop it alone. I'd prefer to kill myself than go home at this point."
At this comment Craig hardened and moved over to Justin. "I'll be killing others before I allow you to hurt yourself let alone kill yourself, Justin. If I have to fly back with you, I will and nothing my old lady or her man-pet says will stop me!"
"There are too many for even you, Craig." Steven stated as he put the battery back in Justin's phone, powered it up and pulled up the photos and text message. "He got this last night."
Craig fingered though the pictures with pure rage in his eyes, "I don't give a shit if Mr. Triumph says we can do this or not. I am going to nail this son of a bitch. Justin, like it or not I am going home with you. This will never happen again."
He then dropped the phone in Glenn's hands.
It took only four pictured for Glenn to look up at Justin with tears in his eyes. "I'll be joining Craig."
Craig patted Glenn on the shoulder as he fought to contain his anger. "I think weaponizing your chair just took on a whole new priority for me."
It didn't take long for the others to join in on backing Justin as they looked at some of the photos.
Steven put a protective arm around the still shaking boy and guided him over to the couch. "Justin, I think we can safely say Owen just pissed off the absolute wrong group of kids. They will not touch you again if any of us have anything to say about this."
"Nothing to say, only asses to kick." Craig growled.
Alexander gave a slow but very firm nod. "If we can't find a way to do it here, we'll just have to go to Nebraska and do it in person."
Keith managed a smirk. "I've never been to Nebraska. It would be an interesting place to stop before I fly home, and I'm sure I can convince dad to let me. It's not like I am ever going to get less than an A even if I miss a couple extra weeks of school."
Steven mouthed a 'thank you' to the others in the room then motioned for Keith to sit next to Justin until he calmed down. He then stood straight and spoke. "OK, so I think the best course of action would be for a couple of us to go down and meet with Mr. Triumph while Ricky shows the rest of us the best hacking methods he can teach in the next hour or so. Scott, you should be one those who goes to talk to him since he knows you better than the rest of us. As far as who else should go…"
Craig interrupted, "You should, Steven."
Surprise could clearly be heard in Steven's voice as he responded. "Me?"
"Yeah, I have seen good leaders both in Junior Marines and when I am around the guys from the Navy. You are a natural."
Keith quickly agreed, "You'd be the team captain of my baseball team, no doubt."
Scott glanced over with a smile, "You already took charge of this, even if you didn't realize it. You'd make a great politician."
Steven cringed, "After hearing everything you have told us, a politician would be the last thing I want to become good at!"
This got some laughter, even out of Justin.
Steven glanced over at the others, "Anyone have any complaints if I am the one who goes with Scott, then?"
Even though Alexander's eyes showed some disappointment at not being selected, he forced a nod. "Craig would have been my choice, I guess, but it he has a point. When you talk, we all kind of defer to you anyway."
Ricky held up both hands, "Don't look at me. Anyone would be better than me."
"Not when we start the hack," Steven fired back. "Once we are in the field today, you are in charge. You direct us and we will do what you say. The real question is how do we talk to each other?"
"Skype." Ricky responded almost instantly. "We'll each create a Skype account we use for today only then simply get rid of all history of it. I'll set each of you up while you talk to Mr. Triumph."
Alexander's eyes gleamed, "Code names!"
This got a snicker out of Glenn, "We should lean toward our specialties. Keith, you are communications, Alexander should have something to do with robotics, Ricky with computers, Craig with survival or shooting, Steven, some kind of leader, Justin photography, and Scott, diplomacy. Me, I can just be the cripple."
"Bullshit!" both Craig and Steven said at the same time. The others quickly echoed their sentiments, only not as harshly.
Justin finally spoke up showing he had regained a great deal of composure, "You have the most advanced project here, Glenn, how about you be the engineer?"
"From what I have seen, I think Steven has me beat on designing things, but I'll take it if you are willing to give it to me." His voice didn't sound thrilled with the idea however.
"How about something with avionics in the name?" Steven asked as he moved toward the door with Scott. "Your whole chair shows a great deal of understanding of lift, control surfaces, and thrust control."
This got a grin out of Glenn, "Yeah, aviation or a flight type code name would be kind of cool."
Scott glanced over a Ricky, "Set us up, but let's not try in hacking until we are well away from here…"
Ricky quickly agreed, "We need to be in Austin, preferably in places with lots of open hotspots, so we can change often and still not attract attention until we break though the first lines of defense. If we did it from here, it would all track back to the resort and they would be able to find us. There is next to no chance, once we get into Austin, of anyone tracking us and there will probably be quadruple the number of hotspots to use and switch between."
Scott opened the door for Steven then looked back. "Justin, remove the battery out of your phone. We need to be off the gird until this is over, because I can guarantee you , they will get the name and phone number of every person in range of every hotspot we are hacking from by accessing the NSA phone grid system. We don't want our names on that list, cause even if we can make Ashwood lose this, which is a long shot, he will still have a couple of months in office to figure out who screwed him."
Steven glanced over to Scott as they entered the elevator, "So, what else do you have on me and my family?"
"Not much, your mom's cancer is documented, as is your family's medical bills. You have a history of violence in school, which is listed as troubling, but the reports say you tend to defend others so your psychological profile does not suggest you will bring weapons to school. The same can't be said for Alexander, though."
"Yeah, his dad is above a genius and his mom is even smarter, but they both have been accused of using their knowledge of science to be… well the words in the report I found was 'troublingly vindictive' and last year a lady in one of Alexander's college courses was badly injured when her car wouldn't start. She tried to open the hood. The battery somehow made contact with the hood and caused her some bad burns. The next day her boyfriend, who was also in the same class had his accelerator stick. He flipped doing over a hundred and ten miles an hour."
"They think Alexander was the cause?"
"The report said they are almost certain he was the sole cause of both 'accidents', but something or someone blocked me from finding out how they knew or what exactly he did. But after talking to him, I know he has a real security clearance and is an actual employee of his parent's company. So my guess is, he is seen as a valuable asset by the Pentagon, NSA, or CIA, maybe even all of them. If I was allowed to bet, and after seeing his robots in action, my money would be on him having helped in the development of a few things that he should not have access to, and the powers that be have let it happen under the table. Those same people are protecting him."
"Really? But he is the youngest one here!"
"He let it slip he wanted to put in some plasma weapon technology on his bot last night but couldn't because of security issues. I don't know about you, but if he knows how to make a plasma weapon, he has my full attention."
"Holy crap!" Steven whistled, "I feel kind of stupid when I am around you all."
"I don't see why. All the rest of us either come from serious money or at least have serious backing from our parents. You don't and you got here. Besides, I have noticed how fast your brain wraps around projects. Glenn's right, you are the engineer among us, and Craig is also right. Like it or not you are a natural leader."
"We'll see how good of a leader I am after we meet with Mr. Triumph. I purposefully didn't take Justin's phone. No one should have to see those pictures ever again."
"I'll let you take the lead and just be back-up. I have a gut feeling you will do fine."
Steven took a deep breath and spotted Fredric sitting at a table with all eight chaperones. Five of the eight were glancing at their watches. "We are about to find out."
Fredric eyed the two boys as they came in, "Where are the others, Scott?"
"They are upstairs, sir." Steven responded, which clearly surprised the CEO of EEL.
"So are they on their way down?" Paul Zion, lead security man for Fredric Triumph asked with a hard stare. His steel gray yes seemed to bore into Steven.
Steven took a deep breath and matched the stare, refusing to back down. Justin was counting on him to get the OK, and there was nothing going to stop him, no matter how intimidating a look he was getting. "No, sir. They sent us down to talk to you."
"Problems?" Fredric asked with clear concern.
Scott jumped in, "Not like you are thinking, Mr. Triumph, but a few things have come up. Are your phones secure, sir?"
With this question Fredric smiled with a glint in his eye, "Oh, yeah. I had to pull a couple of my people off a project for this, by the way."
"For what, sir?" Steven asked.
Fredric pulled up his briefcase and put eight phones on the table. Seven were duplicates of what the kids owned while one was a new I phone. He slid the 'I Phone' over to Steven. "I can't have one of my junior scientists walking around with a baseline flip phone, so I got you this. It is set to activate in…" He glanced down at his watch then back up to the boys, "Why look at that; you are late so it is already activated!"
Steven and Scott both cringed at the sarcasm in the man's voice, but neither got a chance to speak or apologize before Fredric continued. "All eight phones have your numbers and the plans have been paid for in full for the next twenty four months of unlimited texts, calls and data usage. The slide on the bottom will disconnect the batteries on all eight phones and my guys were nice enough to add in a 128 gig hard memory and a 32 gig micro card for each."
Scott actually looked a bit disappointed, "Alexander and I spent like four hours last night to come up with almost the exact same thing, only we didn't have a lab to do it in…"
Fredric snickered as he glanced over at his chaperons. "What did I tell you?"
Zenon Yarrow, the chaperone who saw the altercation in the hall between Joey and Craig the night before, rolled his eyes then looked over at the boys, "He was just saying at least one of you would be annoyed about not getting to actually do the work."
Scott openly laughed, "I am!"
"I think I am too, cause I would have added a couple of features and a stronger battery." Steven grinned, "But thank you. There is no way I could have afforded this!"
"You can now." Fredric stated firmly. "I got with my senior science team and they want to explore your idea about using your metal detector to find cancer and other problems. Because of this, I am adding all eight of you to the EEL payroll as scientific advisors. Starting pay, seventy five thousand a year; the only one I have not gotten approval on is Alexander, but I will figure out something since I have a separate agreement with his folks and his current employer."
Steven gasped, "Ahhhh…."
"No passing out on us," Everet Placid, they youngest chaperone at age thirty three snickered. "Not a good way to start your first day at your new job."
Scott reached over and patted Steven on the back, "Breath, we can't lose our team leader on your first day on the job."
"Team leader?" Kermit Kjell asked with a strong foreign accent, while he eyed the two boys.
Steven nodded as he tried to find his voice. After a couple more seconds he managed to glance over at Scott, "Man, this makes asking a whole lot harder."
Scott nodded his understanding, "Focus on Justin."
Fredric hardened, "OK, guys, what is going on, and how does this involve Justin?"
Steven took one more deep breath as his head still tried to grasp the money he was told he was going to be paid. For a kid who found a five spot as decent pocket money, his brain had a hard time wrapping around the idea he would be getting paid over $6,000 a month. He knew there would be taxes and junk, but it would still come to way more than he had ever seen in one place at one time. He fought though this momentary stupor, "Sir… um… is there someplace we can go to talk over what we all want to do today… need to do today?"
"You aren't hungry?" Levi Tobin asked as he pushed over a menu. This man was the smallest of the chaperones, and also had a slight accent, but out of all the men, he had the hardest look about him. "We can't have our junior science time starving on us, after all."
"I'm always hungry," Steven managed to joke as he pushed it back to the center of the table, "but this is way more important."
Fredric shrugged, "OK, I'm far too intrigued to pass up on this." He stood and glanced over to another one of his team of chaperones. "Dennis, you and Ethan go round up the others and get them fed. Also make sure they get their new phones. I'll take these two up to my suite and get some room service. He then glanced over at Paul. "This sounds too important to handle on my own. How about you and Levi come with and see what conniving ideas our newest employees have come up with." As he nodded to the elevator he tossed a trio of fifties down on the table and glanced over to the waitress, "My boys just threw me a curveball; keep the change and start a tab for me and my boys down here. Add it to my corporate card."
He didn't even wait for a response. Instead, Fredric stepped between the two boys and put a hand on each of their shoulders while guiding them toward the elevator. "Steven, you need to relax, buddy."
Steven nodded and waited until they stepped into the elevator before responding, thrilled it had arrived empty. "It's kind of hard, sir. I don't want to screw this up… My family needs the money…"
"You aren't going to screw up anything. Besides, EEL takes care of its people. Once we get all the paperwork squared away and make exemptions for your employment, since you are minors, then I will drop your whole family onto EEL's insurance which will at least prevent more medical bills for your family."
Scott glanced up, "I think he is afraid you'll fire us once you hear what we have in mind."
This caused Steven to nod vigorously as the elevators opened.
Fredric almost responded but decided to wait until they were in his suite. Once the door closed he glanced over at Joey, "Buddy, it looks like things will be delayed for a bit. Just kick back a play a game or two in the other room while I talk to Steven and Scott."
Joey shrugged and quickly moved into the other room, shutting the door behind him. At the same time the two chaperones did a quick sweep just to make sure the room was indeed secure. Getting a nod from both Paul and Levi, Fredric guided Steven over to a chair then sat in the couch right across from him. "Steven, I'm not going to withdraw the offer simply because you what to do something I may not like. This is even more true since you are coming to me with whatever it is beforehand. At the same time, if this will somehow help one of the others here, then what I am willing to allow and how far I will go expands greatly.
At the same time Fredric was talking, Scott closed the curtains and turned the TV on and up before he held up his new phone and motioned for everyone to make sure the slide had disconnected the battery.
Fredric double checked his phone and nodded for his men to do likewise, "So this is a little more than just a minor problem?"
"If we get permission, way more." Steven spoke as he finally realized he was not throwing away the single greatest offer someone could make to him and his family.
Levi glanced over at Paul then Fredric before speaking. "OK, so let's get some food up here and then we will allow the two of you to tell us what is going on, what you want to do about it, and how this involves Justin. Leave nothing out, and before you start thinking this is a waste of time, let me clue you in on something. I know Mr. Triumph well. If someone is hurting any of you, in any way shape or form, there are no gloves to take off, if anything brass knuckles go on."
The way the man spoke got a slight smile out of Steven while causing Scott to squirm some. Steven noticed this and quickly added, "Good, cause we are going to need them."
An hour later Fredric pushed his empty plate, which had been steak and eggs, onto the middle of the table, "So let me get this straight. You all came up with wanting to go after the truth separately… eight boys the oldest of which just turned thirteen want to change this election while at the same time getting to another member of Ashwood's family who is hurting Justin. That is what you are really telling me."
By this time all fear had been pushed out of Steven's mind. "Pretty much, but it isn't about the election as much as it is the truth. You heard what Scott knows, sir. If this is true and we can find proof, we have to do something. Besides, you didn't see those photos Owen Junior sent Justin, I did. The text was more than a threat, and Justin himself said he would rather commit suicide than go back to whatever that bastard has planned!"
Fredric's eyes narrowed at this. "He really said he would commit suicide?"
"Would rather, yes," Scott confirmed, "But both Craig and Steven cut him off before he was allowed to say more. As a matter of fact, even Glenn said he would take a detour though Nebraska on his way back home to help deal with the self-righteous prick."
Mr. Zion spoke up, "And you are sure this Owen has done and will continue to do things to Justin?"
"Absolutely," Scott hardened. "Look, I have seen him do stuff, nasty stuff, and he hurt my brother Denny, I know he did I just don't know exactly what. There is no question he took pictures of Justin with several kids flushing his head in a toilet, and if I was allowed to bet, I'd put money on it having been used and not flushed beforehand. He sent pictures and followed it up with a threat, but again; I know the jerk. It wasn't a threat. He fully expects to have control over Justin and make him do things, and to be honest I really don't even want to know what those things are. Whatever the plans are, they will be bad for Justin and at least entertaining to Owen and his friends.
Mr. Tobin made a bit of a growling sound then spoke up. "And you saw the pictures, both of you?
Scott nodded, "I don't know how many cause after a couple I had seen enough, but there had to be at least five, probably more, kids and it was done in a public, school looking, bathroom."
"Yeah, Steven clenched his fists, "Even worse, they had him stripped to his underwear and at one point they pulled the underwear up so far they were over his while head and they wrote on his butt cheeks. He never stood a chance against that many kids. I just don't get why no one stopped it."
Even as fury built in Fredric's eyes, Scott glanced over to Steven, "It's who he is; it's what he does. Owen is allowed to do what he wants when he wants and no one ever does a thing to stop him. His dad is really rich. Not as rich as my family, but he was the backing of others who are. In a lot of ways Owen Senior is just like his brother, our President, but his whole family is way more rotten. At leash Richard Ashwood's kid, Lawrence, is nice. Too bad he got hurt so bad over Christmas break last year. But Owen Senior is a class one jerk and so are all his ilk.
"Personally, I think Owen Senior was picked on as a kid by his brothers and sisters and now delights in the fact all his kids are now at the top of the pecking order and encourages them to get away with things. Knowing him, he may even help take the pictures. Owen Junior's brother and two sisters are almost as bad, but they wouldn't tie bottle rockets to a cat's tail and light them or put a rabbit into a catapult and launch it. Owen has, and even showed me video of it with two of his body guards in the background laughing about it.
"I think he did so to keep my mouth shut about him hurting Denny. If he did, it worked. Cause I haven't said a word about it until now. Besides, the Vice President likes Owen Ashwood and it has carried down to Owen Junior and his brother and sisters."
Fredric chewed on the metal fork from his breakfast as he stewed in his own anger for a few seconds. Finally he spoke, "And you are both certain this new contraption of Ricky's will let you get the information you need, you want, and get it out for others to see?"
"Between all of us…" Steven stopped and considered the words carefully for a few moments, "Yeah, we can do this. I think if we could split up in to teams of twos, and spread out across Austin, like Ricky recommended, we could wreak more havoc which, in turn, would allow Ricky a better shot at getting in and getting the information to Keith's Russian friend, though."
The fork moved around in Fredric's mouth for another few seconds, "And which group would have the least experience?"
"If we went with roommates…" Steven thought it over for, "Probably me and Justin, why?"
"Because I am not going to let you all do this alone and I really want to see this invention of Ricky's in action. I figure I would be best suited to go with the least experienced group." He glanced at the two men. "Call EEL's motor pool and get us four of those brand new plain white vans and get the other chaperones here. We are going hunting; there seems to be an Ashwood infestation raging across this country that needs to be put down."
Fredric paused for a few seconds the glanced over to Scott, "You wouldn't happen to have any kind of a clue where we should start this kind of attack, other than the Federal Communications Commission do you?"
"Not really," Scott sighed, "I know get to a couple of secure computers, but no way to penetrate them. One isn't even in the US. Instead it is in the UAE. The other one I know of that wouldn't lead straight back to me, is the computer where the files I got on the rest of the guys here were stored, but there is serious protection around it. Trying to hit it would cause all sorts of alarm bells to go off."
Steven snickered, "Which is kind of what it sounded like Ricky wanted to happen."
"Why in the hell would he want to sound the alarm?" Levi demanded to know.
Scott raised both shoulders and rolled his hands outward showing his own bewilderment. "Sounds crazy to me, but Steven's right. It sure sounds like Ricky wants us to attract lots of attention. He even was talking to Craig about something he wanted him to do once we did get found."
"Well, let's go round up the others and see what Ricky really wants from the rest of us." Fredric ordered, cutting of any arguments from his security people.
Steven glanced over to Scott then back over to Mr. Triumph, "You aren't going to take the lead?"
"No. I am going for two reasons, first to do everything I can to prevent any of us from getting caught and second, I really want to see this thing you say Ricky built. If it is really all that, then I'll be paying him to make me one!"
This caused a burst of giggles out of Scott as he heard a child-like eagerness in the man's voice as he talked about wanting to see Ricky's hacking system, "You really are one of us!"
"Oh, yeah, I was an early generation nerd." He moved out into the hall and glanced down, "Have either one of you heard, or on the off chance seen, the movie, Revenge of the Nerds?"
Scott shook his head, "Never heard of it."
"Me neither," Steven joined in, "but we don't even have a DVD player."
"I'm betting lots of things are going to change for you and your family, Steven." Fredric smiled as he patted the boy on the back, "But, just so you understand where I am coming from, there was a series of movies called Revenge of the Nerds. One of the movie characters had the last name Poindexter. The name was one I was pegged with and it stuck until I ended up in Iowa at age fourteen."
Scott glanced over detecting a voice fluctuation which seemed off to him, "Can I ask what happened when you turned fourteen?"
Fredric bit down on his lower lip and took a deep breath, "Seventeen days after I turned fourteen, I was taken in by my foster parents, Scott, and for the first time in my life I found out what a real mom and dad are supposed to be like. They are now my parents, legal parents because once I turned eighteen, and was no longer a foster kid, they offered to put though a legal adoption and they helped me get my first PHD. Now, with EEL funding, they run one of the nicest foster homes in the country and currently care for eight kids. Also, any kid they care for, who keeps out of trouble and gets decent grades, gets a job offer and higher education assistance from EEL. I now employ thirty eight of my foster brothers and sisters in four states."
"Wow!" Steven looked up with a great deal more respect for the man than he already had, "You are awesome!"
"Thank you, but without them taking me in… Well let me say, I wouldn't be here today."
"And neither would we." Scott noted, "So, we should be thanking them too!"
This caused a smile to appear of Fredric's face, "If you would be willing to say as much to them I would be thrilled to set up a video link. I know it would make them happy."
"Any time." Steven jumped in. "So do you, like, think of all the kids they take care of as your brothers and sisters?"
Fredric's smile grew, "Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do. Mom and dad always made sure any new kid, no matter how short the stay, was one of the family." He opened the door to the suite and noted the looks of the six other boys who were eyeing him with a look of nervousness.
He allowed the door to shut, took a deep breath and glanced back over at Steven and Scott, "Since we are now behind closed doors and I assume everyone's cell phone is without power, let me add in how angry my parents are at the Ashwood administration. Three of the kids they are now fostering were pulled out of homes, not because of abuse, neglect, or lack of love, but because Richard Ashwood and those around him decided the two men, or two women, who were taking care of them were not fit to be parents. They took them out of the homes they knew, and threw them into a state run home.
"Two of them were taken at gunpoint since the parents tired to fight. The other watched one of her moms get tasered when she was pulled from the home. In simple terms, I consider all three of them my brothers and sister, but they need to be allowed to go back home, to their real homes. So, if there is any chance we can pull this off and kick Richard Ashwood in the nuts hard enough make him lose this election, I am all for it."
This got looks of relief from several and a huge grin out of Ricky.
Seeing this, Fredric focused his attention on Ricky, "I have two questions and one observation for you."
"What?" Ricky squeaked out.
"First, an observation only. This seems to be your show, but Joey is sitting in the suite across the hall all alone and he knows computers better than some of my scientists. It is not up to me if you include him in your cyber assault on Ashwood, but I'm thinking he could really be helpful."
Steven glanced around the room, "Any problem with me getting him?"
After a couple of seconds of silence, Justin spoke up, "Come on guys, he's basically one of us. Let's give him a chance."
Craig glanced over to Steven and gave a quick nod, "Go get him. He can join me and Glenn, since I really don't know what I am doing and Ricky has me pegged for a special mission. I'll learn more from watching the two of them than actually doing anything. Besides, I kind of owe him a chance after last night."
While Fredric raised an eyebrow, and one Zenon Yarrow let out a humor filled grunt, Steven quickly exited to grab the slightly older boy.
Fredric moved up to one of the Mass-hack systems and looked it over, then refocused on Ricky, but smiled as he did so, "My two questions are actually kind of one." He paused as he studied the pair of units sitting on the table in front of Justin, "First is, where is mine, and second, since you didn't build me one, how much do I have to pay you so I can have one?"
This got another burst of laugher out of the others as Ricky gulped, "Um, how about some lab time with someone who can help me make them sturdier…"
Fredric moved over and gave Ricky a pat on the back. "While you're at it, son, build one for Joey too. He would never forgive me if I had one of these and he didn't!"
Ricky simply nodded, "Sure , but I'll need to get you a parts list and I need an etching station with at least a times thirty magnifying glass so I can set the circuit boards…"
Fredric let out a snort, "How about you sit with one of my people, input your circuit board into my system, and let the machines make you a few batches?"
Ricky's eyes went wide, "No more doing them by hand? That would be awesome!"
"I'll assign you a design tech to make sure it goes smoothly, but you will be in charge of him or her and I will make that abundantly clear. For now, you need to focus on the task at hand, because we need to get ready to go."
"You're coming?" Glenn asked with wide eyes.
"Are you kidding me? Of course I am. How could I possibly be privy to the greatest hack ever attempted and not join in? I'm not about to lose my geek card!"
This got another round of laughter out of the whole group, including Steven and Joey.
Joey wasted no time moving over to the Mass-hack system Alexander was playing with and was just starting to pack up. Less than five second later he glanced over at Fredric, "Uncle Triumph, you just got to get me one of these!"
Fredric moved over and kissed Joey on the top of his head, "Already working on it, my favorite nephew! But right now we need to get moving, cause the election is less than twenty two hours away on the east coast now." He then glanced over at Ricky, "I'll ride with you on the way to pick up the vans so I can get to know your system and get a feel for what you want the rest of us to do."
The Paul Zion looked down at his watch. "I am having them put magnets from the construction company you bought out on the sides of the vans so they don't look like ours, sir. I told them we'd meet them on the second level of the capitol visitor's parking structure in thirty minutes. This way we will be out of satellite view and we can take two vans there and go different routes, drop the kids off and they can go to their assigned vans. Glenn will need to jump in number three since I had them grab some extra hydrogen tanks for his chair."
Forty five minutes later Ricky held up his hand in the back of one of the vans, "Is there any place around here we can stop?"
Dennis Pontus nodded as he pulled off of North Congress Ave, and on to Fourth Street before pulling into a parking lot. "The boss said this is your show. We good here?"
"Uh huh." Ricky grunted out wile nodding. "I have over five hundred hot spots on my web. Some of them moving around, so there are plenty of mobile ones." He then glanced over at Keith, "Bring your up as well, but keep yours to green dots only. I'll stick with yellow ones so we don't accidentally use the same gateway."
Keith did as instructed, "Man, you really limited me…"
I know, but as soon as we have a few Gray dots, I will show you how to get Mass-hack to help you break into those."
"So you want me to sit and wait before I try anything?"
"No," Ricky shook his head, "I want you to start pulling up as many federal government websites as you can think of and see if they have a contact page, then use the same Skype handle I gave you as a Hotmail address and send out as many e-mails as you can. Say you are a student doing a report on whatever department you are e-mailing. Just make sure to use the fake name I set up on the account. Just stay away from law enforcement agencies. We don't want them to come under attack, at least not yet."
"OK, sure." Keith shrugged while pulling up the Department of Fish and Wildlife, US State Department, and the Department of Labor. "Can you tell me why I am doing this?"
"Because," Ricky shot Keith a smirk, I am hoping for a quick reply from someone or an automated e-mail back. If we get either, I have Mass-hack set to capture the IP addresses of the responses directly from the Hotmail servers."
Dennis glanced back with a raised eyebrow, "What did you do, hack in to Hotmail, or something?"
"Several months ago, and gave myself a back door." Ricky confirmed. "Actually there is a fake server maintenance lady by the name of Candy J Kane who makes $28,500 a year working for them. Her money is direct deposited into an account in a bank I needed to hack and her 401K is with a mutual funds company I also needed to get into. Right at the moment, I am going to go after the IRS server she filed taxes with and the Social Security site I got a response back from when I enquired about getting a new card since I did a name change. This should keep me busy while Keith gets me some more IP addresses to try to penetrate."
"So you actually made up a fake person?"
"I took a dead one and did a legal name change in the state of Kentucky with the help of a hack I did into the state of Kentucky's Attorney General's office. From the AG's office I got into the Lebanon Kentucky Police Department. I erased her death from a traffic report and deleted the autopsy report as well. I then went back to the AG's office and got a new name so unless someone actually looks for her old identity by her social security number, no one will even know I stole it. I use Mass-hack to log in as her daily and do remote maintenance, so no one realizes she doesn't exist. I use those remote sessions to build other hidden access points, then use those to create more. Then 'Candy' comes in and shuts down some of them and sends reports on security breaches. This means she also gets full updates on what countermeasures are being employed to prevent future hacking attempts which, in turn, lets me create even better hidden back doors.
Dennis eyed Ricky for several seconds, "Ok, even though I don't quite understand everything you just said, I got enough to be a little freaked out. So what happens to the money… I can't believe you named her Candy Kane, by the way… so anyway, what happens to the money she makes?"
"Oh, she rents an apartment in Lexington Kentucky. I had an agency set it all up and a cleaning service comes in once a month to make sure it stays nice and tidy. They think she is deployed overseas as part of a Peace Corps tour. Her bills are handled though an accountant who does her taxes too, so everything is totally legal, other than the fact she doesn't exist. If we do get found out, her whole identity is a goner, because I am going after the big information as her."
He then smiled, "Oh, and she has a thirteen year old adopted son, Christopher K. Kane. He looks a lot like Craig and is living with his grandparents and being home schooled in Albany New York while his mom is out of the country. Until a few hours ago, he looked like me though."
Keith glanced over at Ricky, "Let me guess, the K in his middle name stands for Kringle?"
The large smile on Ricky's face was all it took to verify this thought, which in turn caused Mr. Pontus to bust up into laughter. "Candy Kane and Chris Kringle… On, man, when someone does finally figure this out they are going to be so pissed!"
"It seemed like a good idea at the time." Ricky giggled, "Actually I thought she would be discovered quickly with the name I gave her, but so far…" He shrugged, "She just keeps going; a true good old ghost in the machine. I have a couple of others names I can fall back on too, but not near as well set up as Candy Kane."
Dennis shook his head while snickering, "Don't people have to appear in court for a name change, though?"
"Yeah, but a hack into the courthouse was all it took for a court clerk to add the information in since I just edited a judge's docket for a day, with Candy Kane getting a name change, and guy who was really mean to me, a Mr. Bradley James Buchwald, getting a failure to appear for a ticket on illegal weapons possession. I entered the ticket and him posting bail the week before. His life hasn't been the same since."
"OK, let me be the first one to ask if I ever do anything to piss you off, you at least give me a heads up so I have a chance to apologize!"
A smirk crossed Ricky's face, "It takes a whole lot to get me even close to being to that point, Mr. Pontus, so don't worry about it." Ricky suddenly raised an eyebrow, "You got a hit from the Department of Labor. I want you to drop hotspot 4, which is what was logged with their server and open up a new one. As soon as it is in rotation, see if you can push into the IP address you got the reply from!"
Keith did as instructed, "So it begins, huh?"
"Yeah!" Ricky smiled with a look of glee in his eyes. He then glanced over at the chaperone, "Um, do you have any soda or Cheetos? I hack better when eating junk food…"
Dennis Chukled, "Ah, there is a real boy in there somewhere! I'll be right back."
As soon as the man exited the van, Keith cringed and looked over at Ricky, "That Mr. Buchwald… was he one of those who paid…"
Ricky shot Keith a dirty look, "Yeah, but let's drop it."
"Ricky, the others are all willing to help Justin and Scott. We could do the same for you!"
"I already tried." Ricky sighed, "He keeps everything off line and his pay pal account was emptied before I even got home to try to hack it. He then opened up a new one. Look, I can't get to him and after I made many of those who paid him suffer, he has made it a point to…" Ricky held up both hand, "Just forget it. Besides, you got another hit, this one from Health and Human Services and we don't have much time to do this. Let's start punching some holes in their firewalls!"
At the same time Ricky was showing Keith how to get into Health and Human services to cause some obvious damage, Alexander glanced over to Scott. "I just found a computer belonging to the Department of Homeland Security. Mass-hack penetrated it as a hot spot, but I have access to the computer and can even see though the dashboard camera on the car!"
Scott leaned over. "OK, we have to keep this open! Once the alert sounds, we will be able to see what information they are getting! We have to prevent it from getting out of the range of your Mass-hack!"
Levi Tobin glanced over, "Can you tell me where it is?"
"Yeah," Alexander snickered as he checked out the dashboard view again. "He is pulling into a place called Shipley's Do-nuts… Just like any other cop… straight to the donut shop!"
"Only two blocks away." The Levi grinned deviously. Be back in a few. You boys want anything?"
"How about a burger and fries?" Alexander asked.
"Yeah, I could go for that too!"
"Oh, so you two do eat normal kid-type meals, huh?"
"Hey, I'm a tweleve year old!" Scott laughed, "I got to have my greasy food fix once in a while!"
"Yeah!" Alexander nodded in total agreement, "I may love expensive German food, but I am still an American kid!"
Several miles away from Alexander and Scott, Steven continued to work on his Mass-hack with little to no success. Next to him, Justin was doing only slightly better; he had found a Department of Energy IP address, but was having no luck, even with Mass-hack's help, in penetrating it.
Finally Steven shook his head and let out a deep breath. "This is stupid. I get what I have to do, but I can't find anything!" He glanced over to Fredric, "Sir, you want to try?"
Fredric gave Steven a reassuring squeeze on the boy's shoulders. "Look, if hacking was easy everyone would be doing it. Relax and try something different."
"If I knew what more to try, I would," Steven's hands turned into fists as he backed away from the device Ricky had built for him. "I use the library computer and the school computer. Once in a great while I can use dad's, but his is old and only used for writing. I just know enough to be helpful."
"Come on, don't be so hard on yourself." Justin reassured Steven, "I haven't gotten much further than you."
"But you found something. I got a big nothing, zero, zilch!"
Fredric put a hand back on Steven's shoulder and kept it there, "You are looking globally. Narrow down what you are trying to do."
Steven's head slowly turned and confusion could clearly be seen on his face even before he spoke, "I have no clue what you are talking about, sir."
Fredric gave Steven a warm smile. "I am asking you to rethink your approach. Look at other options."
Steven let out a long breath, "I'm sorry. I'm doing everything I know how to do. I warned everyone I only knew the very basics of this stuff."
Fredric rubbed his chin for a second, really not wanting to tell the boy what to do. Instead he wanted to teach him to think outside the box he was confining himself in. "When you came up with the idea for your project, your metal detector-identifier, you started with what you knew, right?"
"Yeah," Steven nodded, "I knew metals carried electricity differently and EMPs caused damage to electrical circuits so I figured I could use those two things to dial in what type of metal was in the ground, why?"
"Because, you then had to move past this idea and into a practical application. My bet is you figured a way to make a small EMP generator then tested it on different types of knows metals, but did you know how to get the readings off of them when you first started?"
"No, not even. The hardest part of the whole thing was to figure out how to measure the metal's reaction to the EMP. I spent weeks on it. Once I figured out the reaction, measuring it was pretty easy, but making it go past the basics was a killer cause then I ran into things with more than one type of metal. There was my real snag. A gold plated watch still shows up as gold because it is totally covered in gold, but some things have copper, aluminum, and iron. Those caused me fits and almost made me miss the deadline, but Mr. Larken, my next door neighbor, had me run though a bunch of tests on random stuff around the trailer park, take the readings and he helped me to come up with a multi-array. By getting the readings from three separate locations, even though they were only a few inches apart, I was able to see different types of metals as percentages. It was what allowed me to get percentages of different types of metal in a sample."
Fredric nodded, "Which is basically the same kind of thinking I am asking you to employ here. If you can't find what you are looking for, find another way to get to the same answer. Talk to me as you think this out. Start with what you have and go from there, just like you did with your project."
Steven gave a single nod and moved back up to the keyboard. "OK, let's see. I have access to just under four hundred hot spots, with another thirty or so Mass-Hack didn't penetrate on its own. Some of them are moving, probably people walking around with hot spot devices on them. There are twenty four wide open access points, including the Starbucks, the two hotels, and the McDonalds we are parked close to. I just don't see how that helps me, though."
Fredric looked over to Justin only to get an equally blank look. He snickered, "You know as soon as I say this you are both going to be very mad at yourselves, don't you?"
"Probably," Justin quickly admitted, "but you have me as confused as Geo is."
"Hey boss," Kermit Kjell spoke softly, "Give them example. Do not give answer. Me think they be way too smart to just give answer too. My boy get mad at me when I do it, Bet these two, be even worse."
Fredric chewed on the inside of his mouth before nodding at the trusted guard and chaperone. "Alright, I am going to try one more time to get you both going down a different road. Open your minds to other ways around this whole thing. If you come up to a river, a big one, and you need to get to the other side, what are your options?"
Steven glanced over with perplexed look, "What does this have to do with hacking?"
"Everything," Fredric answered, "Now trust me and give me some answers to my question."
"Depends on how deep and fast, I guess." Steven responded. "If I could find a shallow place I could walk across. If not I would have to tie a couple of logs together so I had something to float with and go for it."
"I'd look for a bridge," Justin countered, "but I'm obviously lazy compared to Geo's charge forward approach."
"I was assuming there wasn't a bridge close by." Steven shot back. "I mean, give me a little credit, Justin, geesh!"
This got some laughter out of the Kermit and Fredric. But Fredric glanced over at Steven, "But you didn't look for a bridge first. You looked across the water and looked for the direct path. It is the same thinking you are doing right now. You aren't looking for a bridge, son."
Kermit grinned widely, "True, but me thing Czech Army tactical assault teams would like him!"
Steven glanced up to the front of the van. "You were in the Czech Army?"
"Sniper." The man nodded with a wide smile, "But Mr. Triumph words be more important than mine. Think about what he says."
Justin smacked his forehead as a new thought occurred to him, "There are people logging on to those open hot spots, some of them may be government employees with remote access to their work computers. If we hack people using the hotspots, maybe we can find a way straight in!"
"There is a way to do that?" Steven asked with a great deal of shock.
"Oh, yeah." Fredric smiled, "Let me talk you through it a couple of times and then you can really go fishing!"
While Fredric was working with Steven, Glenn, Craig, and Joey were four miles away just outside a large food court with several open hot spots. Glenn got lucky within just a few minutes as Mass-hack helped penetrate a Border Patrol server he had found in a similar way as Ricky and Keith had done. The difference was, this particular server was a major one. Once in, he took a long breath, "OK… well that was way easier than any hack I have ever tired before!"
Next to Glenn, Joey leaned closer, "Hey, you are in; nice work!"
"Yeah, but now I am a bit lost. I'm not even sure what all I am looking at. But do know I am into the System Admin for the entire South West Border Patrol District. Some moron put in a high level password as 'PassWord#1. Mass hack cracked it in less than twenty-three seconds."
"Oh, wow!" Joey whistled softly, "Quick, before they detect an intrusion, create a few new user profiles and passwords so even if they kick you, we have other ways in. As soon as you have one set, give it to me. I will use it to jump in and help."
Behind the two, Craig watched and listened as they dug deeper and, with Joey's help, managed to find a link into other agencies. "You stuck the mother lode!"
"Yeah," Glenn nodded, "and I now have access to the DEA's servers at admin level. It won't take long for alarm bells to sound at this rate!"
Joey gave Glenn a friendly nudge, "Well, before we actually do more, see what else you can link to while I set up user profiles and passwords for this server. The more ways we have in, the better."
"Just make sure to change some of your hot spot connections after each major change so they can't trace back as quickly." Craig remained the two of what Ricky had told them." Also remember, do no damage to any law enforcement until Ricky gives the word."
"I know," Joey shook his head in some frustration, "I just don't know why."
"Anyone who can build and program something like this Mass-hack, is good enough for me to just trust…" Glenn words trailed off as he found another access point, this one to the US geological Service. "Oh, man, I am sending this to Steven!"
Steven glanced at the Skype message from with a great deal of interest, but forced himself to stay focused on his first attempt to penetrate someone using one of the nearby open hotspots. Mass-hack only took 32 seconds to break the password of '12344321'. He cringed as he took a look at what the person was looking at, "Fat chicks-fat boobs? Oh, that is just gross!"
Fredric glanced over and turned his head just as quickly. At the same time the Kermit's eyebrows went up slightly but remained silent.
Wondering if he would ever get the sight of the massive boobs out of his brain, Steven started poking around inside the guy's computer. After over four dozen folders of porn and another score of dirty stories, he backed out while shaking his head "That guy ought to be arrested, I just don't know for what!" Snickers cascaded over the van as Steven went after another computer only to find someone looking at male porn. This time the web cam on the computer being hacked showed him he was looking at a teenage girl, "OK, somehow I don't think mom sent me down to Austin to uncover the place the pervs go to download naked photos!"
Kermit Kjell couldn't help himself; he grin widely, "But hacking the U.S. was?"
Steven glanced up as he let Mass-hack go after a third device using the hotspot, "Knowing my mom, she would be way less happy with me looking at nasty pictures than hacking. I am the baby of the family and she does not want to see me growing up. Now causing some mayhem, well, that she can deal with."
"I'd prefer she not find out about any of this, but I will not ask you to keep it a secret either. Just be aware, this whole thing is about as illegal as it gets. Fredric reminded the two boys.
Justin shrugged, 'It's not like Ashwood doesn't get away with breaking the law all the time.
"Yeah, but he is in power, you don't have the Secret Service covering your back." The chaperone reminded both boys.
"No, we have each other, which may be just as powerful in a totally geekish sort of way." Steven smirked as he focused in on the small notepad Mass-Hack had just broken into. "Mr. Triumph, what is this?"
Fredric slid closer and frowned. He then reached around Steven and started typing. After a few seconds his eyes went wide. "It is a direct link into the First Responders Radio Network. If we can put in a key logger into his pad and make him check it, we can gain access to part of the system. Do you mind if I take over for a few minutes?"
"No!" Steven all but shouted, "Just talk me though what you are doing so I can learn as you work."
About this same Levi time returned to the van with Scott and Alexander, "So you two have any more luck?"
Alexander shook his head, "Not really. Scott found a guy talking about ways to kill his wife so he could collect the insurance money and pay off a gambling debt, though."
Scott nodded, "I have all his information down, just in case we want to do anything with it."
"We'll figure out a way to warn the cops later." Levi growled as he handed over a pair of bags from a close by Wendy's. Hope you like everything on them, cause I had no idea what you wanted and since all our phones are off, I couldn't call to ask."
Alexander eyed the Wendy's triple with a cringe, "I hope you aren't expecting me to, like, finish this!"
"You need to put some meat on those skinny bones, boy!" the Mr. Tobin teased.
You need to see him fight before you say too much more," Scott warned the man, "So what about the Homeland Security car?"
"It was unmarked and I would have totally missed it, even with my training, if I hadn't seen exactly where it parked, but it has a flat and a punctured gas tank. It won't be going anywhere for a while. Oh, and before you ask, I wasn't seen cause I didn't do it. I paid a drunk twenty bucks to do it for me. I then stuck around to watch and got my knife back."
"Nice!" Alexander nodded with a big grin, "I would have never thought about having some bum to do my dirty work!"
"I'm not about to get on camera messing with a Homeland Security vehicle!" The man shuddered at the thought. "Besides, Mossad taught me better than that!' He smiled as he realized neither boy knew what this was, "So nothing else other than some guy wanting his wife dead, huh?"
"Nothing we can point to," Alexander responded while letting out a long breath of air.
"But you fund something?"
"We're not sure." Scott stated as he once again brought up the computer in the Homeland Security car. "It's just really weird."
The man slid into the back of the van noting both kids looked more than a little troubled, "I'm not bad with computers, why don't you show me?"
Scott brought up the Homeland Security network. "This is everything Homeland Security is monitoring in and around Austin, but they are also heavily monitoring the area around Breckenridge Texas and have a massive communication hub there. I even managed to hack it thanks to the fact the car belongs to Senior Field Agent and he has a very high security access to the hub."
"And you can monitor communication going though this hub?"
"Yeah," Alexander nodded, "but it's weird. Everything going on within several hundred miles, maybe even further, is being routed there, but there are no Homeland Security offices there. They also have capabilities to monitor all of the First Responder's Network, the department of Defense transmissions, even the state and local cops from pretty much everywhere. It is the most powerful communications hub I have never seen or even heard of. I sent this over to Keith, since he is our communications guy, and he says the same thing."
A slight smirk crossed Levi Tobin's lips, "You know, if you can get all the others access to this hub and then we hold off using it until you all start you coordinated attack, I bet this hub will go nuts and you can continue to hack from inside the hub without them noticing for quite some time."
"Keith had the same idea," Alexander confirmed while fidgeting quite a bit. "He is working on it even as we speak; making multiple paths to the hub for all of us to use."
Scott gritted his teeth, "But they know everything. Not only can they activate the phone spy network, they can redirect police, fire, all other first responders and or scramble their communications while taking over 911 systems."
Levi's eyes narrowed and his voice took on a commanding tone. "OK, out with it guys, you both look like you are ready to jump through your skins. What is going on?"
Alexander glanced over to Scott and finally pulled up the audio. A woman was clearly heard pleading with an emergency operator to get them help. In the background screams could be heard.
Scott shivered and reached over, killing the sounds.
"What the hell was that?" Mr. Tobin demanded to know.
Scot blinked a couple of tears out of his eyes before he found his voice. "Right at the moment, our government, the Department of Homeland Security to be precise, is keeping cops away from an elementary school in Texarkana, even as there man is stabbing office staff and the kids in the office…"
Alexander nodded as the man's jaw dropped. "Ricky is recording all of it, and we plan on getting it to Keith's Russian friend once we break a big enough hole in the firewalls the U.S. set up to prevent outside interference. But I think they just released police to the scene… It looks like they were waiting to hear the woman making the call getting attacked. In simple terms they seem to have wanted the school social worker as a victim."
"Why in the hell would they do that?" Levi roared in anger.
"Oh, my God! Ricky just found the answer…" Scott looked a little pale as he turned to look at Alexander and the chaperone. "The social worker, a Mrs. Gabby Mares, is suspected of providing aid to gay couples who have kids. The federal government cut all kids of gay couples off from health care insurance, but this woman was getting them seen by faking who the parents were. They just let her die… may have even let this guy go after her…" Scott took a deep breath, "Just listen!"
The operator's voice came over the speaker, "Unit four one, according to the phone call from a badly distressed woman on site, the man is in the northwest side of the building opposite of the office. We have unconfirmed reports the office was locked down and is secure. Recommend moving in on the northwest side to prevent more casualties to students and staff…"
Alexander clicked off the speaker, "They are making sure the woman doesn't get quick help. There is even a note up on her screen telling her to keep all police away from the office as long as possible. Even worse, whoever this woman is, she knows exactly where this woman is, so she is part of it. I guess they just took an opportunity to take out a problem."
"Not according to what Keith just pulled up from the Department of Human Services server he penetrated." Scott gasped, "The guy involved in the attack just escaped from a metal institution this morning, but they didn't post this until just now! They even knew he stole a car out of the parking lot of the mental institution over five hours ago, but just now released the APB!"
Before more could be said a message from Fredric came across all their Skype windows. It simply stated: 'Tear it down, tear it all down… do your worst and hold nothing back!"
Two minutes later Health and Human services computers crashed over most of the south and central US. Moments later several US State Department servers went down, followed by the Department of Labor. As more government departments found servers going down, in some cases frying, calls went out for help.
Less than three minutes later President Ashwood was screaming at the top of lungs into his phone at his advisor on Cyber Security while more agencies started to report problems.
At the same time the Homeland Security hub in Breckenridge Texas went absolutely nuts. All available agencies were ordered to find and halt the mass attack on the US government computer network. The alert went even higher as Email servers inside the FCC started showing signs of being penetrated and files downloaded.
In her office suite, the President's Cyber Security Advisor rolled off her 19 year old intern and pulled up her computer. Even though she was totally naked, and had been very close to climax, her sexual appetite vanished as she pulled the phone away from her ear which allowed the intern to hear President Ashwood's voice rattle off a good half dozen curse words while threatening the woman with everything from imprisonment to shipping her off to the UAE.
The young man grabbed a robe while glancing down at his rock hard manhood. "Well, shit."
The woman looked at the incoming reports with wide eyes, "No, shit storm, and a big one! Our best network security protections are being cut through like butter and we can't get any kind of IP fix!"
"Bullshit," the young man stated as he moved up, "Let me in. I'll track this shit for you."
Five minutes later he watched as another dozen serves went off line, while files were literally being ripped out of the FCC and massive holes in the U.S. Security net started to open, still he got nothing. He whistled, "OK, well these bastards are good, but they just screwed up my pre-dinner fuck so they need to go down." Determination entered his posture as his fingers flew over the keyboard, trying to lock onto something, anything. Finally he caught a break as he pinned down one of the IP address only to see the hacking continue with the same connection on a different IP address. He chased this signal for nearly two minutes. Finally he turned and looked back at the older woman, "Tell the Pres, this is coming out of Texas, At least some of it from Austin, "this bastard isn't alone, but he is downtown; I just can't pinpoint where… at least not yet… Whoever is behind this is using some shit I have never even dreamed of before today!"
While the young man's finders continued to move over the keyboard at astonishing speed, the first call went out as to the location of the cyber attack.
Keith looked over at Ricky, "Someone is tracking my hotspots almost as fast as Mass-Hack can change them."
"Perfect!" Ricky grinned, "Jump over to Glenn's Mass-hack with the link I established; open up an open hotspot in a restaurant and let them pinpoint it. As soon as you are sure they got it, drop you attack on whatever server are massacring, peg the NOAA site using the link I sent you and bash it, just don't take it all the way down. Once you do, kill all your hotspots and open up new ones. Let them come."
"You want them in Glenn's area?" The chaperone demanded to know.
"Oh, yeah!" Ricky's grin got even wider. He then went on Skype and contacted Craig, 'You're on! It is the Burger King at 2700 Guadalupe St.'
Joey glanced over to Craig, "Don't forget the laptop."
Craig held up the laptop Ricky had given him to use as he grumbled, "I hate Burger King fries, they suck!"
This got some laughter out of Glenn, "I've been telling my dad the same thing for as long as I can remember. You really do need to come visit as soon as possible so I can prove to my dad I am not the only one who prefers McDonald fires."
Craig held up a thumb. He then hopped out and kept his head down as he weaved though the cars in the parking lot. He stood up, looking like he had just got out of a tan SUV, straightened his jacket and glanced both ways before crossing the street. Four minutes later he had a Whopper, fries and a shake and was at a table with the laptop open. He first pulled up Travelocity, noting the connecting speed was way down. He then pulled up a search for flights from Austin to Orlando. Once he had a list of dates and flights, he pulled up the NOAA website and went into the National Weather Service. He then pulled up the weather forecast for Orlando. With these to web pages up he slowly munched on his burger while frowning at the fires.
Back in Washington D.C. the nineteen year old Intern locked into the hacking being done from the Burger King Craig was sitting in. "Got you, you son of a bitch!" He then turned to the President's Cyber Security Advisor. "OK, tell the Pres I have a firm location. Have them get people to the area around 2700 Guadalupe St. Someone is attacking NOAA from there!"
Craig noticed the screen flicker a few times as he tried to pull up Orlando again. He smiled as it finally let him in, but then displayed Ashwood's face with a red circle and slash going through the face, only the slash was one word in big red letters: 'Asswood'.
He tired to reload the page again only to find all five boxes for current and the next two days weather had been replaced with Angry Birds flying over Ashwood's picture pooping on the face. "OK, they are going to have to teach me that one…" he mumbled as half a dozen unmarked cars with sirens descended on the Burger King. Three men and one woman raced in with guns drown while other agents spread out around the building looking into cars in the parking lot and then moved out to the surrounding buildings.
The woman agent quickly moved up to Craig who was looking up with wide eyes, staying focused on the gun pointed at his chest. He slid back from the computer and forced his hands to shake some. At the same time a voice came over her radio. The male voice sounded beyond pissed off. "Some jackass slashed my tire and punctured my gas tank! Secure the area totally! Don't let anyone out of there until we can search their computers, smart phones, tablets, and strip search them just to make dammed sure we don't' miss anything!"
Ricky monitored this communication though the Homeland Security Hub and quickly typed to Skype, 'Be nice to the police. They are our friends.'
He then glanced over to Keith with a truly evil glint in his eyes, "Now we wait."
The woman in front of Craig eyed the boy, "Why aren't you in school?"
"Tour of the capitol ma'am!" Craig made himself gulp, which actually wasn't hard considering he had a ten millimeter pistol pointed right at his upper chest. "Grand Dad, um… he gave me a twenty to get some lunch… What… What did I do?"
The woman lowered the pistol, but still kept it ready. "What are you doing on your computer?"
"Trying to book us a flight to Orlando… Grandma input her credit card so I could get us booked since she says I do a better job."
"Let me see: now!" the agent commanded.
Craig purposefully kept his hands up as he eyed the gun. "Ummmm."
The woman glanced around the restaurant, noting the other agents were dealing with the other patrons, one of whom was refusing to surrender his notepad. The agent next to the man suddenly pistol whipped the guy, knocking out a couple teeth while grabbing the device. At the same time, more law enforcement was showing up to back them up. She holstered her firearm, "Turn it around now!"
Craig slowly moved his left hand and used the back of it to turn the laptop around. It had two open windows. The first showed ticket price comparisons to Orlando, the second had up what was supposed to be the National Weather Service's forecast of Orlando, only flocks of Angry Birds were shown crapping on the U.S. President. "Son of a bitch!" She growled then eyed Craig. "You do this?"
Craig's jaw dropped and he shook his head. After a couple of seconds and seeing the woman's hand move back toward her pistol he held up both hands. "I only wish I knew how! If I could make stuff like this happen, I'd be rich!"
The woman eyed Craig for several seconds, "OK, What is your name?"
"OK, Chris Kane, don't you move until I get an agent to look over this computer. "Do you have a phone?"
"No ma'am, I just call numbers from Skype or Google. He started to reach into his jacket pocket only to stop as he saw the hand race back down toward the gun. His hand went right back up, "I was just going to show you my headset I plug into the back…"
"Slow, very, very slow." The woman commanded while keeping her eyes locked onto Craig.
Craig chewed on his lip as he realized this woman was extremely jumpy and might just shoot him even though he was just a kid. This caused some real shaking of his hands and he slowly removed the fairly cheap Logitech headset. He dropped it on the table then pointed with his right hand. "I just plug it in there and pull up Google or Skype to make calls."
The woman nodded her understanding but her eyes never left Craig as she radioed in, "I have a kid, a Chris Kane, who has NOAA pulled up, but I don't think it is him. I need a scan on his computer!"
"Plug in the flash drive and we'll remote it to H.S." the senior field agent's voice stated. "Have one of the male agents take him into the bathroom and to a full search."
Craig's eyes went wide at this, but before he could argue the agent who had just pistol whipped the other patron moved over and glared down at Craig and pointed to the bathroom. Seeing the boy shake his head the male agent's posture hardened even more, "Kid, we either go in there and do it or I strip you ass down right here. One way or another everything comes off and I check you from head to toe. If you have nothing to hide and your laptop checks out, you will be walking out of here fully dressed in less than fifteen minutes."
Realizing any further argument would be beyond unwise he stood, "I got a pocket knife in my left pocket…"
"Take it out and drop it on the table, Chris." The woman commanded. "No harm in a small knife, especially since you told us about it. Now, can you give me your address before you go with my fellow agent?"
Craig rattled off an address in Albany New York as the man once again pointed to the bathroom door. "Let's move, boy, before I use that knife to cut your clothing off and leave you standing here with nothing but rags."
This time Craig did as instructed as the look in the man's eyes told him there was a better than even chance the guy would carry out his threat. He made his way to the bathroom with the man's hand firmly on his shoulder so running was not really an option even if he wanted to, which given the circumstances, he flatly did.
Inside the van with Justin and Steven, Fredric winced as the laptop caught the words spoken by the male agent. A dark anger flashed into his eyes as he growled. "OK, Craig is getting a huge bonus for this and if that bast…. Agent hurts him in any way; I will do far worse than ruin him."
Justin raised any eyebrow at the venomous tone. He actually found it kind of comforting to hear just how much the man seemed to care about Craig. Still he decided to say nothing as he saw Fredric crewing on his lip hard enough to draw a little blood.
The woman watched Craig and the male agent disappear into the bathroom before she pulled out a flash drive and inserted into the USB port. She then keyed her radio, "Agent Four Five Two Eight One, requesting priority one uplink Omega to a laptop for full scan. Senior field agent Eight Seven Six One authorized."
The senior field agent's voice came over the radio, "Authorization sequence Seven Delta Niner, Omicron November Six Three Hotel. We need to know everything on that computer, and do it fast so we don't have to detain a child unless we have to. Austin PD is already freaking out on us.
While almost everyone else continued to poke and prod at various government servers, Ricky did nothing other than monitor the laptop he had given Craig. Suddenly he nodded, "Now I got you!"
Keith glanced over as he saw Ricky busily typing away. He quickly got lost as the boy next to him started to input a combination of computer code and binary code. Before he even realized what was going on Ricky was fully logged into the ultra secret Homeland Security communications hub with a new Senior Agent password.
Ricky pushed his mass hack over to Keith, "Their communications are all yours, Strike-Comm." As the site admin came up for the entire hub both Fredric and Dennis felt their jaws drop open.
Back in the restroom Craig quickly decided to just get it over with. He removed everything but his boxers.
The agent's eyes narrowed, and made a downward motion with his index finger.
Craig nodded and finally dropped those as well.
The man's eyes lingered on Craig for a few seconds before he turned his attention to the garments. He went through them with extreme scrutiny. The wallet was emptied and every pocket turned inside out the clothing turned inside out and the seems all checked for any place something could be hidden. Finally the man tossed them into the sink and examined the wallet, noting an Albany New York Library card, thirteen dollars, a photo of a black lab, a picture of an older woman, and a younger one. "So you are here with your grandparents?"
Craig nodded, "Yes, sir… Can I get dressed now?"
The look alone told Craig he was pushing it so he quickly shut up.
"Smart boy." The man stated upon seeing Craig simply stop rather than argue or ask again with the expected 'please' at the end.
Finally the man tossed the wallet and cash into the sink with the clothing. "Only a couple more places to check." He moved over to Craig and shoved him told the stool, "Bend over and pull your cheeks apart."
"Oh shit…" Craig stated softly but decided he pretty much had to do as instructed. He might be able to surprise the guy, but there were lots agents and cops just outside the door so he wouldn't get far. He closed his eyes and bent over the stool.
"Way smarter than most." The man nodded, "and yeah, that is right where I am looking next, right up the ole shitter. The man put some soap on his fingers from the dispenser and shoved.
Craig let out a pained yelp then simply kept his mouth clamped tightly shut. The man pulled out then inserted two fingers and started feeling around. This got an even louder pain filled hiss out of Craig even though he was doing his best not to make any sound. The assault went on for way longer than it should of, but he endured it. Finally the man withdrew his fingers, backed off and thoroughly washed his hands. "Nice and tight, at least you aren't a gay boy like the last one I had. He didn't get to go home like you will. Now open up and let me feel around inside your mouth.
The man spent another minute with his fingers in Craig's mouth, causing him to gag a couple of times. Once again the man backed off. "No way a cock has been down that throat either. Good to know there are still some straight boys in Texas, but I guess you are from New York, so I can't give Texas any credit for you either. Kind of too bad though. With a body like that, you would be worth a lot for the Bacha Bazi masters."
The man then keyed his radio while keeping himself between Craig and his clothing. "Is the laptop clean?"
"Lots of games and homework. Looks like he is home schooled, and pretty damned smart. He does occasionally Skype overseas, but we checked; his mom is in the Peace Corps in Asia, so he is clean other than the half dozen R-rated movies on it, but they have digital signatures so they were bought legally. Still, we erased them since he is only thirteen and it is his computer; we left the PG 13 and PG ones. One thing for sure, he isn't one of our infiltrators. This thing couldn't hack into a paper bag with the software on it."
"OK, then. And he fully checks out so he isn't one of those either, a cavity search confirms this." The man responded then ruffled Craig's hair as he stopped talking into his radio, "Oh well, I'll find some other gay boy to ship over there, but few would make me the money you would." The man signed, "Go ahead and get dressed Chris. Also, do yourself a big favor and don't let your grandmother file any kind of complaint. Good citizens of Richard Ashwood's country submit to Homeland Security and don't complain about it."
He then waited for Craig to get dressed, took him to retrieve his pocket knife and laptop then escorted him out of the secured perimeter. Once outside the cordoned off zone them man handed Craig a twenty, "Sorry to screw with your lunch." He then added in a soft voice just loud enough for Craig to here, "Nice ass by the way."
Craig clenched his fists in anger as he walked up the street and disappeared around the corner. He then leaned against the building and growled to himself, "Agent Paulson, you and I aren't done with each other yet."
"Oh, man, Craig is going to be so pissed at me…" Ricky shook with concern even as he finished what he was doing.
"Not your fault, and I am sure Craig knows you didn't expect that!" Keith stated with a nasty cringe. "I'm sure glad you were able to get us what you were after and gave me god-like access, especially after all he went through for us, though!"
"Yeah." Ricky nodded almost wildly. "We have full control over the hub in Breckenridge Texas and access to all surrounding states FBI field offices." He quickly opened his Skype window and typed in, "I guess some police aren't nice after all. If they don't play nice, we shouldn't either; go for it."
While the others all went after any and all law enforcement agencies they had found Ricky, still shaking slightly, input one last command then looked over at Keith, "I just killed all their communication monitoring coming out of the Breckenridge hub, giving you full communications control, but they will bring others on line quickly which may let me find a couple more of these super hubs. Now is the time to contact your Russian friend and tell them the whole south and west U.S. is going to be open for his people. I don't know how long they will have, but if they center on Breckenridge Texas, they will have a couple of hours at least. Also tell them your Hotmail account and password. I put all the other information we have dug up in there for them.
While Keith pulled out his portable radio out of his small backpack and set it up. Fredric kept an eye on what Steven was doing, extremely impressed with how quickly the youngster was picking up something as advanced as deep hacking techniques. "So you are poking around the Homeland Security Hub before Ricky crashes it?"
Steven glanced over his shoulder, "Yes sir; when he dropped the firewall I saw something really strange and wanted to take a closer look but I lost it."
"Lost it?" Fredric moved closer, "You mean they cut it off?"
"Maybe… But the signal is still there… I just can't lock back on."
"Keep it up on your unit." Fredric demanded then looked over at Justin, "May I?"
Justin quickly slid his Mass-hack over. "Sure. I've done all I know how to do so it isn't doing me any good."
Frederic quickly had Steven talk him into what youngster was confused about. It only took the man a few seconds to see the same thing. He frowned. "Wow, whatever this is, it is even more secure than the hub itself, but the port is still open, so someone is or at least can access it. I want you to direct your unit to directly attack it while I try to work around it and see what other ports or nodes may be open.
It took almost five minutes before Fredric found a crack in the security and bypassed the security which only happened after Ricky wiped out the remaining firewalls. Suddenly the screen showed a camera in a room looking down on a boy who was strapped to a bed and had a towel over his midsection, but otherwise appeared nude, wires attached to various body parts some of which were under the towel. The body suddenly jerked and tears of pain and agony could clearly be seen on the boy's face. "What in the hell…"
Steven followed Fredric's lead and pulled up another camera angle. This one showed a group of adults eating lunch in a large room. Steven continued to poke around when he stumbled across a control room. "Mr. Triumph… there have lots of kids in there! Look!"
Fredric glanced over as he saw images flip on and off showing several rooms, each with a single child, most boys, a few girls. Most were strapped into beds others where quivering in corners. During the second go around of the monitoring cameras, Justin noted a few things on the video feeds from the various rooms. "Are those temperatures, and heart rate monitors?"
Fredric looked to where Justin pointed and nodded with a sinking feeling in his gut. "We need to find this place!"
Steven nodded in agreement, but his voice didn't' hold out much hope. "Any idea how? I mean I seem to have access to their control room, but there is no outside views and everything in this place is automated. Even the clamps holding the kids to the beds can be released from the control room."
"We'll never find them." Justin stated as he watched another kid violently twitch for a few seconds. "Can't we release them?"
"If they don't escape, they may be killed though, Justin." Fredric stated with tears in his eyes as he desperately tried to find anything telling him where this was happening.
"Please kill me before you do that too me!" Steven pointed as spray jets shot liquid at a girl with enough force to cause her to scream. "If that is water, she is freezing to death! The temperature in the room is only forty degrees!"
Kermit glanced over his shoulder, "Boss, anything is better than what they are going through! My God, if that was my daughter, I'd be begging you to give her a chance, any chance to escape!"
Fredric closed his eyes for a moment then nudged Steven out of the way. "Let me do this. I won't let the chance someone will kill them for escaping be on your hands, Steven."
Steven moved over, "Lock the dining room. It is the only camera that shows adults!"
Fredric nodded in agreement. He wasted no time taking over the system, locking the dining area, killing the lights inside it and even activated the security shutters. He then locked the control room door before opening all the cell doors, hall doors and the front door. He then killed lights to the control room and did a data purge of the computer, figuring there had to be someone monitoring the horrors within the building.
He backed off with shaking hands, "I pray to God I didn't just kill fifteen to twenty kids!"
This time Steven put his hand on Fredric's back. "Sir, if I had been in there I would beg to find out who tried to help and hug you even if I got recaptured or killed."
Fredric blinked out a few tears and sent a message over to Ricky with trembling hands; 'If you can find any other way, any at all, to show people why they should vote for the other guy now is the time. Do it and get out of there."
Ricky glanced at the message and shrugged. He quickly went to work on another quick hack. While he was doing this, Keith started speaking into his radio.
It took only a couple of minutes to reach Sergei; after a short conversation in Russian, Keith switched over to English. "Sergei, I know you want to talk, but this time I need to talk to your father, your papa. This is very important."
Less than a minute later Dmitry's voice came over the radio sounding a bit annoyed. The tone quickly changed as Keith spoke to the man in Russian and explained what he and his friends had done.
After only another ninety seconds of conversation, Dmitry signed off. Keith gulped slightly and looked over to Ricky with wide eyes. "I didn't know Dmitry was a former Spetsnaz officer who actually met and took a bullet for Jack Bryce! Dmitry was on the security team when the Jihadists tired to take out the Russian President and President Bryce hoping to start a war between us. He says he and his friends will get the information out before Ashwood even knows his pants were pulled down. He also promises to shake all our hands in person and assured me he would find a way to watch our backs."
Ricky hit one final key and glanced over at Dennis. "Now would be a very good time for us to leave and get as far away from here as possible, Mr. Pontus.."
"Why?" Dennis demanded to know.
"Um, cause I just activated a virus inside the FBI's Quantico mainframe that sends information out to all southern and western states field offices, I also piggybacked it through the Homeland Security hub. Even As I speak, data is getting dumped out of their computers and replaced by a transcripts of our Vice President ordering the FCC to fine and or shut down any media outlet that does not give President Ashwood at least seven times more good press than Jack Bryce and followed it up with all the emails inside the FCC that gives proof to this including video with audio clips. Those same clips are also going live to all media outlets the FCC had active monitoring on, so give it ten minutes and just about every media website will be showing Edgar Recore ordering this and another one with him authorizing the arrest of a cable news anchor woman who refused the order."
"Oh, crap, Ashwood is going to flip out!"
"I hope so." Ricky stated with a cringe, "Otherwise I just had Craig get his butt searched for nothing!"