Jeremy felt himself dissolving, and then he appeared on Ventron. Looking around, he saw men rushing up to him. He'd seen pictures of Stephen Lightfoot, so he knew whom to look for. Looking around at the men, he didn't see anyone that looked like Stephen. He wondered where he was. A husky man came up to him, looking as though he could use a good shave. "You’re the new prisoner? What are you in for?"
"What's it to you?" Jacen asked haughtily.
"You better watch yourself, mister; a lot of horrible things can happen to you in here."
Jacen gazed at him hard. "Right."
Grabbing Jacen by the arm, the husky man said, "You come with me, mister. Let's go see the boss."
Jeremy wondered if the boss would be Stephen Lightfoot. The husky man roughly took him to what looked like barracks.
Walking into one of the barracks, there was a sandy haired man sitting at a desk, using a computer. The husky man thrust Jeremy toward the man at the desk. "Here he is, Brad. He gave me a lot of trouble getting him here. Watch yourself."
"Oh, I can handle the likes of him, you can go now, Norphus."
Asking Jeremy, he said, "So, you’re a trouble maker? What did you say you’re name was?"
"I didn't." Jeremy stood there looking at the man. Seeing the computer Brad was operating, Jeremy wondered how much information the prisoners were allowed access to. He would need a good computer to plan their escape.
"You like my computer? Don't touch anything, unless you want to lose a hand. Got it? You have to have permission to use one of these."
"You have others? That's great." Jeremy looked around. He didn't see any other computers in that barrack. He speculated where the other computers would be.
"Yeah, but they aren’t for you. The boss says who uses them. So don't get interested."
"I thought you were the boss."
"Na, Lightfoot’s the boss."
"Ha, ha, what kind of a name is Lightfoot?" Jacen was covering his mouth trying not to laugh.
Brad jumped up from his desk, and grabbed Jacen, knocking him to the floor. "You watch your mouth, son. No one gets away with making fun of the boss' name. You've got some gall making fun of a genius."
Jacen got up from the floor, nursing his chin. "Oh, I didn't know he was a genius. Pardon me, while I stand in awe."
About that time another man walked in the door. Dressed in jeans and a blue and green striped shirt, clean shaven, brown hair neatly combed, the man didn't look like a hardened killer, but, Jeremy knew looks can be deceiving.
"What's going on here, Brad?" Stephen looked sternly at Brad.
Brad looked scared. Terror swept across his face. "Uh, I was just telling the new guy about you Stephen."
Stephen looked at Jacen. "You’re Jacen Sprague, computer expert, and outlaw computer hacker. You can hack into any system without being caught. Right?" Stephen stared at him.
"Well, almost. I'm looking for a job, know of any?"
"Maybe, How did you get caught? You’re supposed to be good; what happened?"
"They planted a bug on me, small enough that it couldn't be detected with normal scanning equipment. Then they followed me to the Alpha System Government building, waited for me to do the job, and then had me arrested. It won't happen again. I'll know what to look for next time."
"You’re planning on doing it again then, I gather." Stephen put his hands in his pockets.
"You betcha, but, not for five years. For now, I guess I'll be hanging out with you guys. What do you have to do around here for fun?" Jacen asked.
Stephen thought, and then said, "How would you like to get out of here, in say, a month?"
Jacen looked at Stephen cautiously. "How?" He asked slowly.
"I have a man on the outside who's working on shutting down the security system, which keeps a ship from landing here. He's having great difficulty. Are you familiar with a security system called C.I.N.?"
Jacen thought for a second, "Yes, I am. It's a spherical motion detector. Computer Isolation Network. C.I.N. has laser beams that will shoot any space craft that attempts to land on this planet."
"I'm impressed. Can you shut it off, or fool it into not sensing a space ship, so we can get off this planet?"
"Sure, no problem. Who is this guy, you have on the outside? Anyone I know?"
Stephen looked at Jacen, thinking. "That's confidential for now. I’ll need to check you out, make sure you’re not with ASM."
"Have you had problems with spies before?"
No, but, I can't be too careful. No telling what those sneaky Alpha Systems Military will do, if they think they're in a corner. Better safe, than sorry. I can't have my plans that I've been working on a long time, destroyed." Bending down to pick up a pipe, Stephen said, "If you are ASM, I'll have to kill you. You've been told too much."
"Don't worry; I'm not." Jacen looked Stephen square in the eye, without flinching.
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