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.But such occasions should not arise, should not have to be dealt with, and removing his family from harm’s way was much smarter than contending with such adversaries.He had done his part.Now let somebody else stand in the line of fire.He would not miss that aspect of it.“Commander?” came his secretary’s voice over the intercom.“Yes?”“Thomas Thorn is here.”“Ah.Send him in.”Michaels looked around.Being here had been good.Leaving was good, too.The secretary showed Thorn into the office.Michaels, on his feet and apparently packing personal belongings into boxes, came from around his desk and extended his hand.When they shook, Michaels used his left as well, clasping Thorn’s hand in a firm grip, but not a crusher.“Commander Michaels,” Thorn said.“I’m Tom Thorn.A pleasure to finally meet you, sir.”Michaels smiled, showing a lot of laugh lines at the corners of his eyes.“Just ‘Alex’,” he said.“You’re the Commander now.I’ve heard a lot about you.Have a seat.”Thorn started for the couch.“No,” Michaels said.“Behind the desk.It’s yours.”Thorn paused.“I’m serious,” Michaels said.“When I walk out the door, I might look back, but I’m essentially gone.I’ve got all my stuff almost cleaned out.” He waved at a box on the desk.“It’s your house now.”Thorn nodded.“Okay.” He moved around the desk.Michaels sat on the couch.“I’m not sure I’m ready for this,” Thorn admitted.Michaels laughed again.“You came up with the basic VR interface most people still use.Half of our high-end software packages here are systems you wrote, or based on those you did.You’ll feel right at home.”Thorn smiled.Well, yes, that was true.And it was also true he wasn’t that worried—he had run his own company until he sold it, and had been on the boards of several major corporations since.How different was managing a government computer agency from running a private one? People were the same.“Any questions I can answer, just ask.For computer stuff, you have Jay Gridley; he is the best there is.General John Howard will still be on board at military operations for another week or so, and his replacement, Colonel Abe Kent, is, by all accounts, a first-class military man.I don’t have an assistant at the moment, but there’s a pretty good pool of qualified folks who know the systems, either here or over at the regular FBI shop.”Thorn thought about it.He did have one question, but asking it would no doubt make Commander Michaels uncomfortable at the very least.After a moment, he decided to ask it anyway.He needed to know.“I understand that you are leaving for personal reasons, Commander,” he said, “and that John Howard’s departure is also by his choice for the same rationale.And your assistant—your wife—gives the same justification.Do you mind if I ask what those are? I don’t want to step into a hornet’s nest of politics here—if you’re being dumped because you screwed up or peed in somebody’s Frosted Flakes, I’d rather know it coming in.It seems awfully coincidental that the Commander of an agency and his top lieutenants all decide to bail at the same time.”That got him a big grin.“Good question,” Alex said.“But there’s no conspiracy to worry about.I was a little more hands-on as Commander than I should have been.Got into the field a few times when it would have been smarter to stay in the office.Mostly, computer criminals are chair-warmers, not known for their exploits in RW.A few of them are more.active.A couple of times, I found myself in situations that were physically dangerous.When I was single, that wasn’t a problem.Once I got married and had a child at home, going into harm’s way wasn’t just about me.”Thorn waited.He had heard that Michaels was a cowboy who liked to go into the field, and that he had some kind of martial arts training he had used a few times.Not a good idea for the head of the agency to be doing that.Not smart.Not something he was going to be guilty of, for certain.Leave the field work to those who got paid to do it.Michaels paused.A cloud seemed to pass over his face as he obviously remembered something unpleasant.“We had a couple of incidents involving deranged criminals, and the last one put my wife and son in some danger.Toni and I decided that was not going to happen again.”“You could have stayed in the office from then on,” Thorn offered.Michaels shook his head.“Too late.The criminals involved didn’t really know me, only that I was Net Force’s Commander [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]