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Dueling in Cyberspace
A pair of land warriors sat a top the table staring back at Katya. She hadn't told Aria yet that she'd gotten past the first layer of security. It was a typical government encryption that she'd already had the access to, such was her job after all. This particular pair while one of the newer models was still sporing something older. But that wasn't the interesting part. The goo\ggles held another security layer that Katya tracked to the Baccarrat Mansion. Its base signal when turned on always went back there. It wasn't even clever about it's execution, it was simple to follow. Clearly their IT guys needed a bit of an education in modern security.

But the Baccarrat Mansion was just that a house full of men and women and glass as it was their foundation. No reason for hitting their servers, at all. So why had this woman given her a pair of goggles that linked to a rather benign building? That was what Katya wanted to find out. There had to be some record somewhere of what that building.

There were many places to go and many places she could easily just walk into to see permits and such, but where was the fun in that. Katya sat down at her computer and cracked her knuckles above the laptop screen before getting down to work. A good place to go would be the permit office.

Not overly complicated to get into. A little bit of typing and few opened backdoors later Katya was scrolling through a long list of permits for the Enlightened District. They all had indicators as to public and private. On the GUI side of their program Katya knew that those marked private would not be accessible easy, she filtered through those. If the Baccarat Mansion was hiding something, she'd find it in one of those files. She hoped.

It didn't take long for Katya to realize that someone had just opened a few of the same files she was looking at. They held the tale-tell signs of opening through a back door administrator. Curiouser and curiouser.
As shitty as it was, his time in Mumbai had its highlights. He had a lot of downtime, sure, but after the observations that led to his current career, he suddenly took up an interest in all things wired. That is. If its wired, it can be cracked. There were times, sure, when he stuffed himself in his apartment for days at a time and cringed when next he saw the sun. He thinned out from time to time, but dropping off the grid now and then was worth it. The tinkering, as he liked to call it, was just practical. Prudent planning. Getting a leg up on the competition. Whatever you call it, Jaxen worked at the skill as he did pick-pocketing.

From the world of bits and ones and zeroes emerged a few handles. The identities evolved into aliases. And the alter-egos turned into a disguise he could don the very moment he sat in front of a keyboard. It was better than Halloween. Almost. Halloween was fucking awesome.

He was seated at his station. A very secure workstation that he operated out of his own home. In the old days in Mumbai, he worked primarily from public networks, but throw on a decade of experience and practically endless funds, and Jaxen could tinker in the comforts of his own home at his lesiure. AKA: naked.

He scratched his leg and set up the shop to check out what the hell was going on in the Enlightenment District. Oh, he'd done as much research before going to the Baccarat Gala, but he was all the more intrigued now. Throw on the fact that he'd been hunted in the kind of way Oriena implied, add a dash of seriously wound-tight Mr. White, and an overwhelming abundance of fucking curiosity, and here he was again digging deeper. Scratching at the wall.

He used the backdoor he planted to gain access, and scrolled through generous amounts of information, hoping something would catch his eye. Unlike other aspects of his repertoire, a quick in-and-out was necessary when hacking other systems. Soon, he came across blocked passages that he was sure were his own openings, and worry briefly twinged his expression that administrators had caught on to his spying. But something was different.

"You're no administrator,"
he spoke to the screen, grin easing into mischief. He pulled his feet from where they'd been propped up, and took up a more focused posture, curled over the keyboard lasered across his work table. Just for good measure, he threw up an extra pair of screens to the left and right, and drank in the view to see what would happen next.

"Let's see if you're real."
Opening a dead end should do the trick. A bot would follow down the false path, and restart when the trail ended. But people were more clever than bots. For the most part.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
((Sorry it's a bit slow been dealing with migraines))

The little mouse wanted to play. Of course it was something Katya would do too. Throw a dead-end up where one didn't exist. But it didn't appear to be something to kick her out either, so not security. You'd think a government establishment would have white hat hackers patrolling their waters for just such these occasions. But he was clearly not one of them. It would hardly matter if he was anyway. She always had a back up plan and always could use work as the excuse she was in, just a random security check. Meaning hey, I got in, your security sucks!

Katya effortlessly found her path again despite the block throw up from her competition. Now the question was, how to retaliate against the little mouse. She could be mean and send a virus or a worm after them. But it/he/she??? didn't do anything malicious yet.

In preparation Katya set a bot out scouring for the data she was looking for, strange things, blacked out files, anything that related to the Baccarat mansion that was hidden from view. It was always easier to grab the data and leave site with out actually opening the data, decypher and read later. It beat trying to do it on the fly.

She also beefed up her own security, bounced her IP around the globe a few more hundred times and set up a bit higher security just in case this got bad. She didn't want to be fighting off worms and virus' or anything else this little mouse wanted to play.

Katya drowned herself in the 1's and 0's of the system. It wasn't literally seeing them, but when she got into this zone, it felt like anything was possible. The world became more clear, the code got crisper, the smell of silicone working it's magic permeated the air. She loved this feeling.

Her decision made, Katya threw a bit changer at her new 'friend'. Katya knew the company had good back ups and she also threw in a friendly trail for them to fix things too. It wasn't meant to be malicious to them, just throw the little mouse into a little maze of her devising, "Can you find your way out little mouse?"

Jaxen drummed his fingers on the desk, waiting with playful curiosity to see what would happen. Part of him would be disappointed if he was dealing with a bot, after all. There simply was no joy in besting something without anima, a soul that knew it'd been beat - by him.

The seconds passed without response. He worried his partner in crime was gone. Maybe it error'd. Maybe his path really had trapped it in some never-ending loop. Shame, really. Maybe he should go back to digging for clues after all. He was here for a purpose after all.

With a sigh, he started to move on. He amended his searches to a certain range of years before Baccarat opened, but something started to go wrong. He opened one file, and instead found himself reading another. Phrases were switched. File paths were crossing over one another.

His frown cocked his head to one side. That's when it hit him. This was no error. It was a rally. A clever little virus injected into his own searching, like giving a hiker a corrupted GPS and telling them to find their way out of the woods. He had no idea where he was going, except that he was being led around to random files.

He laughed to himself, and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. This was a person after all!

First thing first, Jaxen had to send a tracker after whatever had corrupted his searches. It was all on their end, as it seemed nothing had leeched into his system. As soon as the sweepers cleaned it out, the Baccarat's servers would probably log it as a minor, self-correcting glitch and not raise any red flags. This one knew what he/she was doing.

Things were back in order soon enough, and Jax greedily rubbed his palms together. Once in the clear, he set out to hone in on their IP address, but quickly realized he was bounced around the globe by their own deflections. His own, of course, was far removed from reality, but he didn't particularly care about getting caught with illegal internet traffic, he only liked to know how shallow he could hide and still be overlooked by authorities.

At the end of his ideas, he tapped the pads of his fingers together again, eyes narrowed, and imagination flying. Soon, he jumped up to go through on a pair of pants, if only for the habit of pulling the drawstring around his hips. He tossed on a pair of Oculi glasses and headset next, and fired up the immersive system that ran them. It was virtual reality at its best. The industry developed for gaming, but these days, anyone as talented as his new little friend should have access to at least a first generation pair. Grandmothers skyped their grandkids with Oculi, after all.

The glasses powered up, and he scrolled through his favorite selections for his own "profile." There was a chick he sometimes he masqueraded around as. He liked to call her Jezebel, or Jessie for short. Yeah. He had a lot of time on his hands the past few years. But no, he wasn't in the mood for her today. He went with a generic man of western European descent: nicely styled hair, slacks, t-shirt and loafers.

Once ready, he unplugged one of his hidden ports that could lead her to their virtual room. The thrill of meeting another hacker as good as him bounced him up. He paced back and forth behind his chair. His avatar - meanwhile - paced as well. He hadn't had time to set up anything more than a standard gray walled, empty cube. So the view wasn't impressive, but he bit back a grin - if only to keep his avatar from grinning like a fool.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
It didn't take long for Katya to find the location of her little mouse. He wasn't even trying to hide. This one had yaytsa. He even opened up a port. The only protocol being accepted was one used for virtual reality.

Now came the question. Did she want to futz around with another hacker in cyberspace instead of hunting down answers to the mysterious organization Aria seemed to work for. Katya glanced at her bot searching, it had a few things she could dig into.

Did she want to get caught? But if she left the system she wouldn't get caught...The dilema of it all. It had been a while since she'd actually interacted with someone from the dark net. Nathaniel frowned upon his employees continuing to use their hacker identities. He also frowned upon doing things outside of the business he had contracted.

Katya smiled, there was alot that Nathaniel frowned upon that she did anyway, and so did most of her co-workers. The thing is Nathaniel had been out of the game far too long, he knew little of today's world. But he was a good business man and a great leader to a bunch of miscreants.

But Katya couldn't pass up the chance. Katya's dark days had started with hacking her parents employers and giving them a raise. She had hacked many other companies as well doing the same thing. She hadn't given herself the name, but those that knew what she'd done had started calling her a modern day robin hood. Katya took a persona of her own choosing based on that concept.

Robin Hood had many stories and many myths and legends to pull from, Katya eventually chose to be called a variation of Loxley, the noble man turned outlaw because of the sheriff of Nottingham. But being the good Russian she was it became Loksli.

It had been a long time since she'd pulled out the signature files of her guise. The girl was nothing like Katya. Dark hair and even darker eyes. She wore crimson red t-shirt and black leather pants with a long black leather trench coat flowing to her knees. Knee high leather boots finished off Loksli's persona. Kayta would never be caught dead in the clothes, and that was the point. It was not her! Loksli was somebody else entirely.

She was not shy, nor was she the type of person that hid behind her computer screen waiting and watching, she was a woman of action. It wasn't hard to put on the persona. It was a virtual world and it was not her really.

Katya slipped on her goggles, they fit as comfortably as she remembered. The computers around her buzzed to live and the hum of their fans and the smell of silicone permeated the air. It was something she had direly missed.

The room she entered was empty save for the one person she'd been playing games with only moments before. Too boring. Katya tapped at the air, the keyboard only visible to her, but still there none-the-less, soon the room changed colors from dismal gray to white. She smiled, and her avatar did as well, the classic streaming of things flew by, reminiscent of The Matrix of days gone by. That would have been a life!

Katya settled on a cafe in New York City. Someplace she'd always wanted to go. Now was her chance. "Coffee?"
Loksli grinned and two cup appeared with the table and chairs in front of her.

A tell-tale ripple diffused around Jaxen. Moments later, a figure in black appeared before him. She was a young woman. A hot young woman - in a scary, S&M kind of way. She looked at him with about as much curiosity as he was likely studying her. I think I under dressed, the smirking thought leached onto his avatar's face and twisted it into an amused grin.

Before he could comment, the world slid by in a flash. They were plunked into the center of a cafe - or perhaps the cafe fell around them - and Voxel, his devilishly plain avatar, hooked his thumbs in his pockets and strolled to the window as though to peer out of doors. Although his voice and appearance were different, Jaxen's graceful saunter seeped through.

"Times Square, huh?"
He turned and fixed her with an accusing look. "You must not have ever seen the real version. It's an absolute shit hole."
He flipped the shades down and met her at the table, where he pushed his cup aside. "Thanks. But no thanks. I'm not a fan of coffee."
Voxel was such a stand up guy. Instead, he pulled a flask from his pocket. In the real world, he was drinking a glass of water, but the program scanned the movement and translated it into his profile's settings. And Vox sipped from a flask. A stand up guy. And classy, too. It was all part of the act. Vox was a famous guy, after all. He had a reputation to live up to.

"So. Two random people suddenly fascinated with nineteen Nikolskaya street. If I were a suspicious person, I might be prone to think you're up to no good. And in that outfit, I'd be willing to bet that to be the case."
He lounged back in the chair, fingers laced across his abdomen, and watched her carefully.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
He had guessed one thing right about the real her. Thankfully it's true of many Moscovians. The United States and Russia have never really gotten along, ever. And it may be a shit hole now, but it had it's hay day once, as does everything, their 15 minutes of fame.

No Coffee? It was one of the drugs of choice for most in her company. But Katya smiled, wondering if the same smile seeped through to Loksli's visage. It didn't matter. Loksli grabbed the chair in front of her and pulled it from the table. She had the urge to flip the chair around, but did not. It caused for some issues when it came down to actually trying to type. The computer could render it so, but it's hard to fake that kind of position for anything longer than a few minutes, and from the looks of her new found friend he was here for a bit. Katya sat down in her comfortable chair, the chair Loksli had didn't look nearly as comfortable.

Loksli smiled and this time Katya knew it was there shining towards her friend. "Surely I'm just a purveyor of the arts."
Katya didn't mention what kind of art. The Baccarat was after all pretty much a museum of some of the finest glass pieces of their times. But he was right, there was definitely something or someone up to no good.

Loksli leaned on to the table with a soft smile not meant to be happy but more seductive, "I'm never up to anything good."
Her smiled widened as she leaned back in the chair. "And I don't think you are either."

"I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

She was referring to the information they had gained, but if he took it another way so be it.

Edited by Katya, Mar 5 2014, 09:21 AM.
She was flirting. Course, in that outfit, it wasn't too surprising that she made the attempt. Don't get him wrong. Sex was a high priority in his life, but it was an after thought, a petty use of time. There were far more important causes to undertake: particularly involving himself.

He barked a laugh. "You certainly look like the usual shopping around Baccarat Crystal."
Or maybe counterfeit Baccarat? His mind turned the possibilities of her interest in the place.

"You misjudge me, my dear. I am nothing if not a stand up, honorable citizen of the world.
" His eyes gleamed mischief. "But if you want to bare it all for me, I won't stop you."
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
Katya laughed. It echoed into the virtual world. "Stand up, honorable citizen of the world. My ass."
The laughter faded as quickly as it had started. "Back doors, dead-ends, and mazes of bits are not stand up and honorable. If you were honorable you'd not be curious what was behind the walls of that pretty little mansion."

Katya and Loksli started to twirl the bits of hair that fell of their shoulders. It was merely a habit when thinking. Did she really want to tell him what she knew? If this were some secret agency thing that Aria was a part of did she want to get on the wrong end of that stick? But here she was anyway trying to figure said secret out. She was already on that side of the stick. She sighed and threw down on the table a view things she had found. They had manifested as Katya pulled them into the system where they were. "I've not found much yet."

Loksli looked up at him. "I was hired by a girl who wanted me to hack a pair of government issue goggles - next generation land warriors to be exact. My contract lead me here to some server hidden in the Baccarrat mansion. So I'm sure you can see the mystery in it all."

Katya wasn't confident this was going to get her anything but suspicion, she almost wanted to log out and look at those files all on her own, but they were here and so was she. Maybe just this once, two heads were better than one.

Edited by Katya, Mar 5 2014, 09:52 AM.
Jaxen rather liked that she called him on his miscreant deeds. There was no finer compliment in his mind. And it cemented a certain level of fondness for the girl, in Jaxen's mind at least.

She held his complete attention in the few moments to make her decision. Trust in their world was uncommon, so the fact that she shared anything meant that she thought there was an advantage to swapping stories. Which of course, anyone able to convince Jaxen to shine a favorable light upon them would certainly be at an advantage.

He shifted his laced fingers to the edge of the table, as he did in reality sit forward in his seat. On the flesh and blood side of things, he was downloading and opening the files she shared. In their virtual world, he was quite still, as though paused, while his avatar apparently read their contents.

Government issue Land Warriors sparked something of a curious note, but both Jaxen and Voxel didn't acknowledge them too much, nor talk of someone hiring this woman to their dirty work. It was the files themselves that drew Jaxen's attention. He was looking to fill the gaps in his own knowledge. He was a master of stealing advantage where he could after all.

When done, Voxel mimicked her movements, and another set of files appeared on the table, like wormholes that she could peer into and study as her avatar wished. "The government linked to Baccarat is curious. But they have their fingers in everything. Not too surprising. Maybe I should tell you I've seen the servers you've described. In person. In a hidden vault under the ground floor mansion and accessible only by private elevator from the residence above...?"
His eyes rolled away thoughtfully for a moment, "But nobody should admit to such a thing. Unless they have a death wish. Or if someone has been trying to kill them over it."

...such as the same person that hired this woman. He was dancing a dangerous line. If she were the wrong person, things could go south for him quite quickly. But where was the fun in playing it too safe?
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +

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