Outlook Contacts was the ultimate recruitment tool, synthesized and digitized to the bleeding edge. Assembling his team in his head was the hard part.

Yuri, the Georgian spam-meister. He knew all the hottest IRC rooms and had an army of zombie PCs ready to brute force his way into any system. Yuri claimed he once hacked the CIA's website and replaced their World Factbook with a collection of Dharma and Greg fanfic.

EZgal80, AKA Luann Phelps. The fixer. The eBay queen. If Case needed something she could get it for him; hardware, software, wetware, and even miniature porcelain houses. 9850 ratings, all positive. She also ran a blog about pickling vegetables and was the number three lingerie seller in Second Life.

Then there was the wildcard: jack-of-all-trades Haz Cheezburger. His true identity was a mystery. Haz was a macro expert and had a third grade Kanji reading level that would come in handy if they had to translate any animes. Haz's knowledge of Guro was legendary.

"Yes," Case said to his deeply ironic Clay Aiken bobblehead, "these three will do the job."

The Diet Mountain Dew glugged down Case's gullet, pungent citrus with a top note of phenylalanine. The green liquid quenched his thirst and girded him for the long night ahead.

His fingers flew across the keyboard, opening IM windows by keyboard macro. Yuri responded first.

"U have job?" The spammer asked.


"What job?"

"I need you to crack the Adobe password database," Case explained via IM. "I need you to create a false Photoshop CS3 registration in their database and then give me the key you are using."

"900,000 Lari," Yuri demanded.

In nanoseconds the Java applet spewed out the desired data.Case blazed a trail to Google and activated a digital search for a currency calculator. He hammered in the numbers and selected the Georgian currency from the drop-down. In nanoseconds the Java applet spewed out the desired data.

"$30 US dollars," Case said to his Clay Aiken bobblehead.

"Deal," Case typed to Yuri. "I will transfer the money to you via Paypal when I have the software key in my hands and can prove that it works."

Yuri reluctantly agreed and promised to crack the Adobe database in a matter of hours. Case was already racing to the next IM window blinking with a reply to his inquiry.

"Howdy, Case!" Luann typed in the IM window.

"Got a buy for you," Case typed in reply. "I need you to get me a line on a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS3."

"Price range?" Luann asked, all business.

"Keep it under 50," Case typed.

"Hon, I been tryin' for years but this Botox just ain't doin' the trick no more,"

Case's heart raced, an out of control pounding fueled by caffeine and adrenaline.

"LOL!" He typed.

Luann started talking about her cats, but Case didn't have time to deal with the messages. He opened up the blinking IM window from Haz Cheezburger.

"Here you go," Haz messaged.

Below the text was a URL linking to the software key.

"Knew I could count on you," Case messaged to Haz.

Case sent the message and then clicked the link and an Internet Explorer window opened. Youtube!? Rick Astley began singing.

"What the fuck!?" Case typed to Haz.


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