Exortionware A Hackers Tale

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FOR MATURE READERS ONLY. THIS TECHNO-THRILLER HAS, PROFANITY, VIOLENCE, SEXUAL SITUATIONS
 

Set in a typical American city Hacker Jason, a talented computer programmer, is thrown into captivity with Tasha, a woman caught in the snare of human sex trafficking from the darkest part of the internet, where antivirus efforts and firewalls are shown to be ineffective and useless. Together they must invade computers remotely to steal what they can, to satisfy their captors. They embark on an unparalleled journey involving extortion, theft, and violence using the same connection you use for your home and personal communications.

 
Chapter 1
The bad day gets worse.
The interview did not go well. 
The unit manager flashed his cheesy grin as he shook Jason’s hand on his way out. “We will be in touch,” he said.
Jason had heard that before, quite a few times—and usually for the same reason: He was unemployed. And when you are not working, not only do you have to find a company that is hiring, you have to show the head ego that you are not a threat to his job, yet smart enough to work in his presence. 
The interview was still stuck in Jason’s head as he entered the elevator. “He will eventually take my job,” Jason could hear the hiring manager thinking. “There is no way we should hire him.” 
Now what? He thought to himself as he pressed the lobby button. He had the money for rent and his car payment, but that was about it. His savings were minimal; he had played the stock market and lost big a few years ago when the market crashed and he still hadn’t recovered. Tap into my 401(k)? No, no, he thought. Something is going to have to wait. 
After he exited the elevator and made his way across the lobby, he suddenly realized that he hadn’t even noticed if there was anyone else on the elevator. He thought about it as he walked past the security desk. 
“Car payment, rent and cell phone bills are due soon,” he mumbled to himself as an older lady got into the turnstile door in front of him. He could hear her cell phone ring as he entered behind her. Suddenly, BAM—his face bounced off the glass. 
“OW, dumbass!”  Jason blasted loudly at the woman, who had stopped in the door to answer her phone. The door moved again, and she exited. He gave her a dirty look as he walked onto the sidewalk.  The woman looked back in confusion. What’s his problem? She thought to herself.
He scoffed and shook his head, getting lost in his thoughts again. Jason’s last job had been great. He was a member of a talented team that could build virtually anything. The problem was not with the work. It was that the president and vice president of marketing had embezzled from the company. The news stories that followed claimed amounts as lofty as 500 million dollars, an all-time high for stealing investment money.
He and his co-workers found out on a Tuesday, a few weeks before it all went down. Jason remembered that day clearly. He’d gotten to work a few minutes late, but everyone else appeared to already be there. He could see that they were all assembled in the large glass conference room at the other end of the office. 
When he approached the entrance to the room, he saw Mary, the receptionist, who was in tears. He walked by her to talk to his team member, Mark, inside the doorway. Dressed in an unkempt button-down, Mark looked as if he hadn’t gone home the night before. He liked to work all night when he was stuck on something.
“Hey man, what’s going on?” Jason whispered in Mark’s ear. ”Did someone die?” 
Mark’s reaction was not in secret. “No, would you believe that the old guy split town with Gloria?” he exclaimed. 
“He did what?” Jason asked in disbelief.   
Gloria was vice president of sales. She was an extremely pretty, big-busted blonde. A rare beauty-and-brains combo. She had graduated from both of the “only real schools” in the county, as she called them, meaning Harvard and Yale. She got her master’s at one of them and her bachelor’s at the other, but Jason couldn’t remember which was which. She looked like the average dumb blonde, but when dealing with big bankers and lawyers, she was smooth. Jason had heard that she would unbutton the top of her blouse during negotiations, fumble with the next button when things were in her favor and play with the next one until the deal was signed. This cheap trick was not commonly used in the ultra-high finance world. It was something those in power never expected: a woman with an extremely high IQ using the dumb blonde act in business.
Gloria had been dating some jerk lawyer who owned a convertible Jaguar. At least that was the last thing Jason had heard. Douglas was a businessman through and through. He was the leader of the company.  He had been CEO of five or six companies in the past, and rumor was, he was hired to take the company  public. So what could have happened? He had read in the newspaper that he was divorced several times. 
“That’s not possible!” Jason exclaimed loudly to Mark, who was standing next to him.  
Yael, the project manager, bumped Jason’s arm and asked, “Do you have your cell phone on you?” Jason nodded. “Yeah.” 
“Can I have it please?” Yael asked. “The police want all of our phones. They said we can have them back when they are through with us.” She turned away from Jason and shouted over the crowd, “NOW EVERYONE GO BACK TO YOUR DESKS!” As she spoke, Jason pulled his cell out, flipped open the cover, restored it to the factory setting, and closed the cover. When Yael turned back to Jason, he handed the cell to her.
Jason walked out of the crowded room. It was obvious to him that not everyone was in work that day.  He worked with more than 250 people and they would have never all fit in the conference room. There were other offices in London, Madrid, LA and Bangalore. The other offices must know what is going on, Jason thought.
As he and Mark walked back to the end of the office, they spoke in a low voices to each other. Jason asked Mark, “Really?” Mark confirmed by shaking his head no, but saying, “Yeah, man, it’s true.”  
Mark’s cube was two over from Jason’s. Terry sat between them. Terry was late this day, as usual. He often stayed later once he arrived, so no one ever minded that he was never on time. “Well, the phone is dead,” Mark said. Jason tried his Internet, but it was out too. Great, he thought. He got up and went to the men’s room. He could see a guy in a suit standing next to the door leading out of the office.
He stopped at Jordan’s cube, where Jordan was packing up his stuff. Jason asked him, “Any news?” Jordan retorted a simple, “Nope.” Jason could sense the anger in his voice. “Just askin’,” he stated as he headed back to his own cube.
When Jason got back to his cube, he opened the bottom right drawer of his desk and pulled out a bag with the word “CISCO” written on the side. He opened his top drawer and started transferring its contents into the bag. He stopped when he picked up a USB Wi-Fi adapter. In the past, Jason and Mark had made a long-range Wi-Fi antenna using a Pringles can and that adapter.
Jason sat down in his chair and wheeled it into the hallway like they did when they were working together on projects. Jason called out, “Hey Mark, you still have that Pringles can?” As he spoke, he ran his chair into a very tall man wearing a government-issued dark blue suit. “Could you come with me, sir?” the man asked with a frown, trying not to show pain. Jason’s chair had just stabbed him in the ankle.
Jason stood up. “Sure,” he agreed. The agent guided Jason to one of the smaller conference rooms. Two agents were seated at the table. The agent who came with him stood at the door. The older looking agent asked Jason to be seated, and started asking a series of questions about Douglas the CEO and Gloria, the vice president. They wanted to know about any rumors he may have heard or anything he may have seen. Jason told them what he had heard, which really wasn’t much. The agents questioning Jason started getting very personal, asking where he used to live and work and whether or not he had a girlfriend. The question about his parents’ status bothered him the most. “Do I need a lawyer?” he interjected.
The older agent stared directly into Jason’s eyes. Jason had read about this interrogation technique in the past. The agent stated flatly, “This is a federal investigation; you must answer all of our questions. Any lawyer would tell you to do so. Not complying with any of our requests would be considered a violation of federal criminal law.”
Jason concentrated on not blinking as the agent spoke. He looked directly back at the agent, ignoring the presence of the other two men in the room. “Can I leave now?” he asked.
Another agent at the table spoke for the first time since Jason entered the room. “Sir, we are not done with your interview.”
Jason, still staring into the eyes of the first agent, asked, “Am I under arrest?” The older agent said, “No sir, we are finished. Thank you, for your time. Agent Watts will escort you to your desk to get your belongings.”   
Jason got up from the table and was taken back to his cube with Agent Watts, the same man who had previously escorted him. When they got back, Mark was not in his cube anymore. Jason continued emptying the contents of the other drawers into the bag. He left the candy bag on Mark’s desk, all the while, still under the watchful eye of the FBI agent. The agent spoke up when Jason reached for a notepad on the top shelf of this desk. “I’m sorry, sir, all records must stay on the property.” Jason put the pad down for a second, but then picked it back up.  
“It’s blank, see?” Jason said, flipping the empty pages in front of the agent. He said nothing as Jason put it in his bag.  
Another FBI agent approached Agent Watts and handed him Jason’s cell phone. “It didn’t have anything on it,” he told Agent Watts. Agent Watts handed the phone to Jason. Jason thought that was indeed an understatement, since he reset it to factory mode and erased all information.
As Agent Watts walked with Jason all the way to his car, he pulled out a small notebook and wrote down his license plate number. Jason got in his car, backed out of the space and drove out of the parking lot, watching the agent in his rearview mirror.
Well that was then and now it’s just one long string of interviews.
Jason shook his head. What now? He thought. The coffee house he liked was on the next block, so he waited for the traffic to go by and crossed the street. He hadn’t even walked two steps on the sidewalk before he heard someone call out to him loudly.
“What up Josh…Jason,” he heard. 
Jason turned and saw Willy, an older black man he knew from the neighborhood, walking quickly to catch up with him. He stopped and turned to face Willy, who was now just a couple of steps behind him. “What’s up, dude?” Jason asked Willy, continuing towards the coffee shop. The entrance was just two doors down from the corner. Willy walked by his side. …….
 
 
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Trip Elix

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