"How did you become a member of MI5?" Paulo asked Hex.
The two of them were driving to the hotel in a replacement car. Or rather, Paulo was driving. Supposedly, it was because every time Hex drove something happened, but they both knew that Paulo just wanted a go at driving the state-of-the-art, MI5 issue only car.
"It's a long story." replied Hex.
The Argentinean shrugged. "Well, we've got time"
"Ok. After we parted ways for the last time, I tried to go back to university. Unfortunately, I found university every bit as boring and useless as school…"
Hex sat in a lecture theatre, dozing off. He was bored witless.
After a lot of persuasion from his mother, Hex had opted to take a computer sciences course. What no one (other than Hex, supposedly) had anticipated was the fact that he already knew everything in the curriculum and a lot more besides.
Take now for instance. The lecturer was rambling on about how Fortran was a much better code than C+ for such-and-such circumstances when Hex knew that both of them were incredibly clumsy tools for such a situation. He could name ten other programming languages that would work better. (1)
No, Hex had much better things to do with his time.
He pulled out his palmtop and began to type…
"…The only class I even remotely enjoyed was mathematics. I started hacking into more and more difficult places. One day I got a nasty shock…"
"Hex! Hex! Wake up!" Hex groggily looked up. His mother was shaking him awake.
"Mum, its two-bloody-thirty in the morning! What is it!"
His mother's face was pale, and Hex immediately felt sorry for speaking to her curtly. His mother wouldn't wake him up if it wasn't urgent.
"It's Ben, Hex. His lungs have played up again. He's in the hospital on life support…"
"…It turned out that Ben's lung had partially collapsed again. He was stuck on life support, and to get him off he needed surgery. We're a poor family. We would never have been able to afford to pay for what he needed." (2)
Paulo could see where Hex was going with this.
"You stole some money, didn't you? You needed to pay for your brother's operation, so you hacked into a bank and got money."
"Well, sort of." Hex looked decidedly uncomfortable. "There's more to the story than that…"
"Mr Brown, I'm sorry to say that we will have to take your brother off life support soon." The official who brought the news looked scared, as if he knew what would happen next.(3)
Then again, he probably did – he'd had to do this before.
"What! You can't just take him off like that! Would you care to explain to me why exactly?" Hex's tone was like ice.
"Well sir, you see, The American ambassador has just fallen critically ill. He's in on another bed with life support but there's a pop star who needs an operation in 52 hours, and we don't have enough beds."
If looks could kill, the official would be dead three times over. "I see. So, what can we do to keep my brother alive?"
Now, the small man got a crafty look in his eye. "Well, sir, we have a gap for operations in about 36 hours. If you pay for the operation – and a little bonus, of course – we could get your brother fixed and off life support in a matter of two days."
Hex considered this for a moment. He didn't like this – and there was no way that he could get the money in time – but it wasn't like he had an option.
"Fine." He said…
"… I needed money to save Ben. Money that I didn't have. Mum – well, we were on a benefit, it was all she could do to keep us alive. Dad pitched in a little, but it was still nowhere near enough. So, what could I do?"
It was a rhetorical question, but Paulo answered it anyway.
"You hacked into a bank or something."
Hex got a proud look on his face.
"So close, yet so far. I hacked into Fort Knox." (4)
Ignoring him, Hex continued. "You're probably wondering why, when it doesn't hold any virtual money I can transfer easily. Well, to today I still don't know why. Maybe I just wanted to show off. Maybe I was so mad at the American's for killing my brother that I didn't care what happened to them. Terrorists could get in while the security was off for all I cared."
"Meanwhile, I hacked into lots of other bank accounts. I took a bit from the American ambassador, I hacked into the white house and into Paris Hilton's bank account. It's not like they needed the money, anyway."
"By then, I had worked myself into a rage. I hacked into the American national grid and turned out all the power – on a cold winter night. The only places I kept going spelt 'Murderers' with their lights, if you looked at them with a birds eye view."
"That was my mistake. I was so cocky that I forgot to wipe my traces completely. There are only five people in the world who could have traced that. I'm one, Martin's another and the Americans employ a third. They managed to trace me."
"Luckily, they had to ask the British before they arrested me on our territory. MI5 saw my potential and didn't want to waste me, so they offered me a deal. If I joined MI5, they'd keep the Americans off my back. If I didn't, well…."
"It was a no-brainer, really. I instantly agreed. After a few arguments with the Americans, they convinced them that I was an MI5 member on a training task. We have an agreement with each other to test each other's security, so they managed to convince them that what I was doing was perfectly legal. And because there wasn't anything in the rules about money, I got to keep what I stole." (5)
"And that's the end of my story, really. Anything after that is classified."
Paulo looked at his friend in awe. He believe him, but there was something that was bugging him.
"If you played havoc with America's power grid, then why didn't anyone hear about it?"
"Well, that's simple. The Americans didn't want anyone to know that someone had gotten into their system, so they kept it all hushed up. Everyone thought there had been an accident with the power or something."
They had reached the hotel. Paulo pulled up alongside the entrance and they both got out.
(1) I don't actually know if this is true. I know that they are both different programming languages but that is the extent of my knowledge. I don't even know if there are ten other languages, let alone if any of them are better than the ones I mentioned.
(2) As shown in one of the earlier chapters of Revenge. I don't know if this could actually happen.
(3) I don't know Hex's real name, so his last name is brown, making his real name Melvin Brown. It has a nice ring to it, dontcha think?
(4) This isn't entirely my idea. I got the idea of hacking into Fort Knox by a book I read called Icecore.
(5) Again, I don't know if there is an agreement. According to a short story on CHERUB's official website there is though.