Authors: T.K. Harris
The Gillespie Five
By: T.K. Harris
The Gillespie Five
Copyright © T.K. Harris 2014, 2015, 2016
Cover design by
Editing by Cassie Hart at
Hart and Stenhouse
Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.
Apologies if any hackers were offended in the making of this story. No offense was meant. I tried to be authentic, but let's face it guys, I really am – sadly - a newfag.
for putting up with me through this whole ordeal. You keep me going!
And a special thanks to:
Benjamin Poelman, Jason Frazee, Stu Carpenter, Allan Sakowski, Stacy Decker,
Shawn Harris, Joshua Rose, and Stu Carpenter
for helping me make it more ‘real’.
Thank you also to, my
for giving me the option to pick my music
my way and thanks to
The Glitch Mob
(the list goes on) for helping to get my head where I needed it. I don't always remember
your song titles but I love your music!
"Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."
-1984 by George Orwell
(Nov 23, two years earlier)
Senator Mitchell Gillespie ran his right hand through his salt and pepper hair while shaking the paper in his left. "This
be real. Such depravity. The sheer audacity!" He turned to the non-descript looking FBI agent behind him.
The man shrugged. "There's more."
Gillespie turned back to the paper.
Newfag. Oldfag. OP. Fuckhead. Moralfag.
The list of terminology went on and on in a transcript pulled down from a hacker's IRC channel. Whatever an IRC channel was. He could barely understand the terms they used, supposedly in retaliation as well as camaraderie. But what really got to him were the overall conversations and posts. Talk of pedophiles, porn, pictures of underage girls and boys, some coerced and some willingly given. The list was long, consisting basically of bragging about acts of bullying, criminal activity, and treason.
He began to pace, his jaw clenching and unclenching as he read more. Hackers - some of them no more than kids – boasting about breaking into people's accounts, government and military websites, sometimes bringing the sites down or putting up new pages and posting sensitive information for public consumption. Some did it for something called 'lulz' while others did it for the challenge and still others did it in order to sell information to the highest bidder! Acts of sheer moral depravity and all treated as if it were a giant
Flinging the paper down on his desk, he walked to his liquor cabinet and opened it to pour himself a glass of Chateau de Montifaud. Downing it in one swallow, he turned to offer some to the man he had met just a few days ago at the party to announce Gillespie’s intent to run for U.S. President.
"Would you like a glass? It is decent for a thirty year."
Agent Barrett declined and Gillespie poured two glasses anyway, taking them with him as he walked to sit behind his mahogany and oak desk, a replica of the one sitting in the Oval Office.
Placing the second glass near a seat in front of his desk, he nodded to Barrett indicating a chair and watched as the man moved, in an almost slouch, to take a seat. Trained by his grandfather to take the measure of a man quickly, Gillespie had already sized Barrett up during their first introduction. Plain in looks, plain in manner, Agent Greg Barrett was the perfect forgettable field agent, if he had been one. But he was not.
Currently working for the FBI's White Collar Crime Unit in D.C., Barrett had ruined his earlier career in a botched raid, the details of which Gillespie had not yet had time to discover. He also had a barely hidden reputation for gambling, drinking and women. Nothing Gillespie had not seen before. What concerned him was the man's inability to look him in the eyes for any length of time. Gillespie had known plenty of hard drinking; womanizing, gamblers – his grandfather included – who could still play a tough game, lead men into battle and take no prisoners. But Greg Barrett did not strike him as one of those people. Had it not been for his intriguing introduction, Gillespie would not even have bothered to have this follow up meeting.
"Tell me about what happened twenty years ago."
Barrett looked up and swallowed. Emotions ran across his face, too quick for Gillespie to accurately define, but pain and humiliation shown through them all.
Clearing his throat, Barrett began his tale, explaining that he had been charged to help bring in a ring of hackers suspected of causing mass downtime for several large websites belonging to businesses as well as the government. To do this he began by trying to befriend various hackers, and – using social media – try to determine what their real identities were, as hackers hid behind aliases.
He explained his methodical approach, his certainty in matching the names and then the mistake he had made. A rooky mistake, as he called it. And, before he knew what hit him, the hacker group struck.
The attacks came hard and fast. His bank accounts were wiped out, his email accounts were hacked and secure emails sent out to the public, humiliating a variety of
powerful people. Lies were spread about him, his colleagues, and the intent of his investigation. It did not take long until he lost it all. His money, reputation, job and – eventually – even his wife.
When Barrett finished his tale, he readily grabbed the glass in front of him.
Gillespie leaned back in his chair eyeing the drink in his hand as he waited for Barrett to compose himself. The man had been
as Gillespie's grandfather would have said.
Taking another sip of his own drink he asked, "And after a tale like that, what makes you think I would want to work with you or that you could be helpful in anyway?"
Barrett set the empty glass on the desk, looking Gillespie in the eye for the first time. "For many reasons. First, because I've had twenty years to learn from my mistakes and get the backing of some damn good experts. I may only be in the WCC division now, but I know and have access to some very good and powerful people in the NCIJTF division. And they know how cyber criminals think and how to track them down.
day someone, or some business or government site somewhere is getting hit. The damages in time loss alone, is immeasurable, not to mention the
damage each time someone successfully hacks into a system. Add that to the very real security threat of stolen military secrets, research projects, etcetera and we've got ourselves a time bomb that could at any time bring this country to its knees."
He leaned forward, his eyes and voice intense. "And the damned thing about it Senator, is that it may not be the terrorists that do it. It may be our
He let the last word hang in the air for a moment before continuing.
"I know that people no longer seem to care about treason the way they used to. But it doesn't stop with American citizens. This is an international issue."
"But we have laws in place for this kind of thing."
Barrett smirked. "Yes, policies and laws have been passed, some harsh but most mere hand slaps. And yet hackers continue to cause issues, bullying and exploiting our
and costing this country in lost dollars and security."
His fist began hitting the desk, punctuating his next words. "No major political figure, and certainly no president, has ever taken a
stance against this very clear and present danger. This has become an issue we can no longer just haphazardly deal with. Someone needs to take a stance. Someone who understands how big this problem really is!"
Barrett paused, taking a deep breath. Once more he looked Gillespie in the eye as he said, "This country is in danger and I cannot just sit back and watch it fall! Make no mistake. This is a
, Senator. One not fought with weapons but with information. And wars call for
"You need a platform to run on, Senator. One that will make you stand out. And I believe that this is it."
Gillespie sat his drink down and crossed his hands over his chest as he reassessed Barrett. The dull looking man actually had passion as well as a sense of patriotism that was lacking in many Americans today. Gillespie could respect that. And, having been raised by both an intensely patriotic grandfather – a decorated veteran – and having served himself during the first Gulf War, Gillespie both understood the threat of treason and war.
that threatened the United States of America he despised. And he had and would do what it took to protect this country. From those without and from within.
Including the mechanizations of his own family and those that supported them
, he thought, recalling an earlier conversation with his brother.
Gillespie leaned forward, taking up his glass and swirling the contents as he asked, "And what do you get out of it?"
Barrett smiled and, for the first time, Gillespie saw something hard underneath the man's apparent weakness. "I get to finish what I started all those years ago and take these bastards down, stopping them once and for all."
Gillespie nodded slowly, his mind turning over the idea. It was true he needed a strong platform. One
his family’s. He knew they had hoped to coerce him and had failed. This had been a source of extreme contention for years. Even his mother lamented about ever sending him to be raised by his grandfather, going so far as to regularly broach the idea of putting his cousin Charles in direct competition with him.
His lip curled at the thought. That lapdog would do anything to be president. But, unfortunately for his family and their ambitions, Charles did not stand a chance against him. And they knew it. Gillespie had been groomed for this since childhood and had far exceeded the family’s expectations with his many successes and public popularity. Charles was a pale shadow in comparison.
Inwardly he smiled, wondering what the family would think if he not only ignored their ideas but also ran on a platform outside of the tired, tried and true. But, Barret was right. Stands against treason did not play as well as they once did. Americans had become mostly indifferent. But, there were other angles that had potential. With these in mind he asked, "How much money would you say is lost by businesses or just everyday people to these hackers and their
"On a daily basis? Millions. Annually? Somewhere between three hundred and seventy-five to five hundred and seventy-five billion. Businesses shutting down, people losing their identity, you name it. Not to mention all of the money and time spent trying to protect against such threats."
Gillespie's mind went back to the information he had read about a girl who had been sent death threats because the hackers had not liked a video she posted. She was only nine years old. That had been followed by numbers stating how many under-aged naked photos had been posted, kids cyber-bullied and a number of other disturbing trends. "And then there are the exploited children..."
"Exactly!" Barrett leaned forward, nodding his head, face reddening. "These perverted, traitorous bastards need to be brought down!"
Gillespie drew a long breath, his thoughts tumbling over the possibilities. Forget treason. Show the people why they need to be afraid not only for their livelihood but for their children. Show businesses how their bottom line was being endangered by these hackers, part of which they already knew, but it could be played up. People were often afraid and fear could be used to get them to see his point of view. And, get their support.
After a long moment, he asked "And how do you propose we go about this?"
Barrett's eyes widened for a split second. "Sir?"
"Well you have this platform and I can only assume a plan to implement it."
"Well, Senator, for that I have some people I'd like you to talk to. People who can give you the answers not only to that question but more. That is if you're ready to take this to the next level."
As the door closed behind him, Barrett pulled his coat tight against the biting Colorado wind. Despite the cold, he felt some of the tension he'd been holding slowly drain away.
Since he'd first been approached several weeks ago by a group that would only identify themselves as 'business' men with a common interest, he had wondered if their promises had been nothing more than empty words.
As they began to lay out their plans, he hadn’t understood why they needed to recruit Gillespie until they told him that Gillespie was a serious contender for the presidency. And, after meeting the man, he could see the potential. And the power. And power was something Barrett could appreciate. Especially knowing what that kind of influence could do for him. But actually getting a man like that on their side? He hadn’t believed it possible. Especially when they told him
he was going to do it.
Despite his doubts, Barrett had done exactly what they had asked him to do. He had taken their carefully crafted report and then – with calculated looks, sounds and gestures - had mentioned and emphasized certain key words that they said would trigger Gillespie’s mind, sending it in the direction they wanted. Words like ‘treason’, ‘security’, ‘war’, ‘threat’, ‘extraordinary’ , ‘children’ and ‘money’. Barrett also played the ‘patriot’ card. The group had called it ‘neuro linguistic programming’ and had trained Barrett in the basics, making sure he had it down, before sending him to meet Gillespie. But, had he not seen Gillespie head exactly in the direction they promised he would, Barrett would not have believed in any of it.
And now that he had done as asked and Gillespie was interested, it was time to make a call and see just how serious these
Taking out his phone, he dialed the number they had given him. When the person picked up, he said, "It's done. The senator is on board as you requested. He's ready to meet."