“We love you, Net!” the group of young women screamed as Terrence was interviewed by a Times reporter.
“Thank you, ladies,” he replied smiling.
The reporter frowned at the interruption. “Ok, last question. Have you talked with Firewall? What does he think about you joining the very agency that put him away in prison for so long?”
“Kent, is it?” Net asked. He knew the reporter’s name but needed a few moments of time.
“Ken, Ken Newman from the Times,” the reporter replied.
Net did not listen to his reply. He was logged into the Times website to find Ken Newman’s email address and other social media information. He jumped to several online marketing websites and signed him up for every possible piece of spam he could find. He moved to one of the most prolific pornographic spammers on the Internet and signed Ken up for the most kinky fetish sites available. For good measures, he copied Ken’s name, email address, phone number, and Social Security Number, taken from the Times human resources computer, and posted it to several well-known Russian hacker forums. That would keep him busy for some time and teach him not to ask stupid questions. He was not here to answer for his dad.
“You will have to ask him because I have no idea, Ken. I do not talk to my father,” Net said angrily as he walked away.
Net did not get very far.
“Hello, Terrence,” a deep booming voice said.
Net sighed. He guessed Judge Thompson would be here checking up on Michael and he hoped to avoid him. He did need any lecturing tonight. But as always, Ronald had found him.
“Hello, Judge Thompson,” Net replied in an obvious annoyed tone. He knew it was rude but he just did not care.
“That was not a very nice thing you did to that reporter,” Judge Thompson commented. “That kind of stunt could get you hauled in my court with serious felony charges.”
Net shrugged his shoulders. “I have no idea what you mean, Judge,” Net pleaded.
“You can cut the shit with me, Terrence. I’ve known your old man for too long and you are just like him. Whatever you did to Mr. Newman online, you will undo it. I will call him in a few days to be sure.”
Net sighed again. Judge Thompson sounded just like his father growing up, always cautioning the use of Enhanced powers, especially the power that they both now shared. That was before he decided to steal millions from international corporations. With a few thoughts, Ken Newman’s information was erased from the spam servers and Russian forums. You did not cross Judge Thompson and expect to get away with it.
“If you knew Firewall so well,” Net said turning to face the large man who had a certain force of presence by just standing there, “then how come you were so surprised he turned criminal? Why didn’t you stop him before he got sent, by you, to Leavenworth. Huh? Where was your crystal ball then?”
Judge Thompson slowly walked closer to the enraged Net. His eyes were watery and his fists clenched in anger.
“Terrence, listen to me. Sometimes things happen that we don’t always understand until later. Your dad panicked and did some foolish things. I had a job to do and did it. Your dad knew that. But he loves you and your mom very much, even after she divorced him.”
Net could remember the several trips to the courthouse as his mother divorced her father in absentia. When the corporations Firewall stole from could not find their money, they sued the family. Net and his mother were left with nothing but their clothes and a few family items; the house, the cars, all the computer hardware were sold at auction to pay the lawyers and fines. They had to move back into his grandparents house. Net’s grandfather was never interested in a paternal role before he passed away.
“You don’t love someone and do something like what he did, Judge,” Net argued. He could feel the tears falling down his cheek and turned away.
Judge Thompson looked down with sad eyes at the young Enhanced. He knew Terrance was hurting. “I just saw him last week. He asked about you and your training.”
“Why does he care?” Net asked as he tried to hold back the pain. “He abandoned us, Judge, for money. I am worth less to him than pieces of filthy paper.”
“No, Terrence. I can’t explain it to you because I’m not Firewall but I know you mean more to him than anything including his freedom or his life. Please, go see him soon. You never know what the future might hold and I don’t want you to regret the chances we have today.”
Net sighed again. Judge Thompson had been his dad’s friend since his hero days when they often worked together on cases for the Indianapolis police department. Although Firewall was not officially a member, he also worked with The Old Guard, providing support for the team when stealth and reconnaissance were needed. He could hack a security system or even blacken an entire grid in no time.
“We have some time after graduation before our first assignments. I’ll think about it, okay?”
Although Net did not see it, Judge Thompson smiled. “Good. He will appreciate it. When you do, tell him he will always be needed in the good fight.”
Net was not sure what that meant but made sure to electronically save the comment to his server.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, Terrence. There are some ladies behind me that want your autograph and I need to find Mr. Larson before it is too late.”
As Judge Thompson nodded and walked away, the group of fans that cheered for him earlier had returned. When they saw him alone, they rushed around him asking for autographs and pictures. Net was too engulfed in the attention of the women to think about the Judge’s words any longer.