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Dueling in Cyberspace
Proof, if you could call this man's word proof. Something was very wrong with what Aria wanted. But her curiosity had been peaked, why did he want to get into the Baccarrat mansion, did he know something more?

Katya didn't know what she was trying to find out, but here was a man who had actually been in the depths of the the mansion. He's here, at least virtually she grinned thoughtfully. At least she thought he was there. An elaborate ruse to hide and gain her trust?

Why on earth was she trusting someone who frequented the dark net? Why would she do this? Things could go very wrong for her. If Nathaniel found out? Katya called her fears, she'd been white hatting it far too long. She opened herself to the old world, to the bits and bytes and to the darkness that lay just beneath the surface. Katya let the Loksli persona take over, the confidence it gave her, the knowledge that she was good at what she did sank in. She knew what she was doing. She'd been caught young, but she had so much more experience and knowledge now. She smiled.

"So very secretive of them."
Katya pulled up the link to the servers in the Baccarrat mansion. "And here I have the connection just waiting to be broken into.

Katya didn't know what security lay beneath the surface. She'd poked at it a for a few hours trying to find some weakness. But she hadn't given it her all.

She smiled at this new competition, this new friend of sorts. "Shall we see who is better?
She didn't latch onto the bait he dangled. Anyone in their right mind should be slightly disturbed that the business they were infiltrating was attempting to cover up breeches in security with murder. If she were bothered by the idea, she quickly moved on.

Behind his glasses, the screen of his monitor blinked with the new gift. Jaxen looked around the rims just long enough to consider, this time, taking her bait. It could all be a ridiculous ambush and on the other side of that screen waited mountains of police - or worse - the Snake people Oriena warned him about.

"Very well. I accept your challenge."
Voxel replied after the long pause, his expression serious. "But I propose stakes. Whichever of us is the better, whichever of us evades detection the longest, full access to both of our recoveries without question from the other. We return here to make the exchanges."

A hint of a smile finally edged its way onto his lips. "And you have to give me your code and handle, so I can verify it's you."
He would of course make the same gesture. Or track her down if she renigs.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Mar 5 2014, 09:07 PM.
"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."
Sounded reasonable. Though did she really want to tell him who she was. Loksli had been out of the game for three years and counting. Getting caught kinda does that to a person. But she was young and impressionable then. A bank was far outside her security knowledge then, now it was a cake walk. But now she also had bigger and better tools to do the work with, all provided by Nathaniel's security company.

She took a deep breath and wondered if this was all worth it. But then again she was never one to thwart a challenge. And this was a challenge. Katya smiled and knew that it splayed across Loksli's avatar. She tapped away at the invisible keyboard and her signature scrolled into his system.

Loksli held out her hand. "Loksli."
It didn't matter if he'd heard of her, or if they knew each other, they were about to get far more friendly than most hackers got outside their own little circles. To know one's signature and handle by reputation was one thing, to actually see the end results and the way through, well that was another. She had just handed over the keys to her identity so to speak, trusting this would not back fire on her. "And you are?"

Loksli. The name was familiar. But for the life of him, Jaxen barely recalled why. In fact, while his avatar, Voxel remained impassive, Jaxen was busy searching the headlines for an explanation.


That's right. He remembered hearing about the little vigilante. He never bought it, though. That someone as talented as Loksli was as honest and pious as he claimed. Or.. well, she.

At least Jaxen could respect her for adherence to the charade. He accepted her hand, "A pleasure, madám."
Along with her name appeared an encrypted code that verified the virtual identity. Once safely received, Voxel shared his own. Even if she were with the authorities there was nothing in the revelation not already known by CDPS. Voxel was infamous for shenanigans, primarily associated with real-world thieving with security counter-measures used only for lifting tangible goods: Bank of Zurich, Imperial Palace of Vienna and Tower of London being among his favorites. "Voxel Adams,"
he replied in kind. "May the best man win,"
he said, and in the blink of an eye, disappeared in a scattering of pixels... or voxels... if one were to be technical about it.

Out of the room, Jaxen pulled the glasses from his face and tossed them aside in one smooth motion. His mind was already racing with strategies, but an active imagination rerouted his focus over the same series of ideas.

Loksli's so-called charity explained her interest in Baccarat. The company was of old-world money that stretched back centuries to imperial Europe. Half the goods in the Kremlin's museums were gifts bestowed by the Baccarat jewels to former Tsars. Goods worth salivating over. Imagine sitting in his balcony pool wearing Nicholas II Imperial Crown? In his experience, the taller and more ridiculously ostentatious the headgear, the better.

A livery collar would be a nice addition too, cold and settled flat against his chest, gold links gleaming turqouise in a night-illuminated pool. Problem was, the Imperial Collar displayed Nicholas I personal insignia: the white eagle, though he stole it from the Poles. That'd need pried off. Who the hell wanted to wear another man's insignia? Even if he was a Tsar. Which leads to another incredibly important question: what to replace it with?

Jaxen glanced at the tattoo on his arm. The snake glittered in the streaming light, as though frozen from finally clamping down on his throat. He smiled to himself. Interesting thought. But musings for later.

He clapped his hands together and curled forward. It was time to get busy.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Mar 7 2014, 08:50 AM.
"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."
As quick as their encounter had started it was over. Katya slipped from the virtual room and into her own room in her apartment. The shadows had grown long and Katya wondered how late it really was.

Surprisingly she didn't get started right away, she was not worried but interested in the fact that Voxel Adams was interested in the Baccarrat Mansion. It wasn't surprising, he was after all noted for the thievery of the mundane world, not the digital one. And probably the reason he wasn't very deeply hidden, in the digital world he was not that much of a threat, only going after security type things. Never the actual data that could be harmed.

What could a thief want with the server below? With all the valuables inside, why did he care about that secret? Maybe it was a vendetta, he did say they had tried to kill him.

When he mentioned it at first she hadn't thought anything of it. But now, was Aria dangerous? Clearly the place she worked for was.

Katya's interest was spiked now. She had to find out what she was hiding. And why?


Security was tough. Katya had lost count of the number of firewalls she had to break through. Each one touting a different encryption with their own back doors and the like. Whoever had set up their server was really concerned about the data that was behind it. What were they hiding?

She wondered how Voxel was doing. She hadn't bothered to look for his signature in anything, it wasn't worth the time it would take to see what he'd managed thus far.

The world around Katya was nothing but the bytes in front of her. Katya took a moment to look away from her computer and the sun was setting. The colors were vibrant in the cold evening through the slats of her window. She didn't feel cold but her breathe was a mist of frozen steam. She sighed and got up out of the chair to turn the heat up a little. Surely there was enough money for that. Living in this dump was affordable, and more less likely she'd be noticed but it was not the nicest place in the world.

Before reaching the thermostat Katya kicked something on the floor. She looked down and found several books lying with their pages open to the world to see. She bent and picked them and started put them back where they belonged. It wasn't the first time that things were found where they should not be.

The irony of it, when Katya looked at the page, it happened to be an encryption algorithm methodology she had just been using. Very odd.

Katya looked out the window and the world had returned to the dullness of living in this slum. She sighed and put the books away and turned the heat up before returning back to her work.

Moments seemed to pass and Katya broke through yet another firewall...This time she hit the jackpot. She had access to the system. She started a bot that started pulling every file on the server regardless of encryption or what it was.

It started pulling hundreds of files to her system, and then it went dark. The connection dropped and she was out of it. Katya quickly unplugged it from her network. Hopefully whatever had happened hadn't infected her network. Computers were a dime a dozen for her, but this one was her favorite.

Katya sighed and wondered again how Voxel was doing...
"Wrong door, sweetheart',"
Jaxen said as he sat up in bed.

The girl to whom he spoke closed the door she'd began to enter, which happened to lead to the closet rather than the bathroom. She turned. Poor thing had that drunk, wet glaze to her eyes. In the dim light her skin was a curtain of brown silk, her hair black as the night sky.

"To the left. Your other left. Watch out for that shoe-,"
she did well for navigating a veritable obstacle course of clothes strewn everywhere. "Keep going. There you go,"
he said. Once directed to the correct door, she sealed herself inside the bathroom beyond, and Jaxen started to punch out the pillows behind him and comfortably sit up to check the news on his Wallet, but when he glanced up between pillow-punches he saw more than he'd intended through the glass panel of the bathroom door.

"Close the door all the way!"
He yelled. She turned, realized the sheet of glass hadn't been activated in the jamb, and hastily shoved it into place. It immediately frosted over, and she disappeared into a dim silhouette. Thank God. That was more than he ever wanted to see in his life.

He sank his head into the pillows, stretching contentedly. In blinking at the ceiling, his view eventually rolled to the decoration mounted, and seemingly floating, on the wall above the headboard. It was one of his relics, a memento to remember Voxel Adam's, Jaxen's thieving alter-ego, escapades through the Imperial Treasury of Austria. That trip had been meant to collect only the Crown Prince's coronation sword, but while the weapon was quite nice, the Ainkurn had been an impulse swipe. He'd never considered it of all the Treasury's inventory, but when he saw it, he found himself spellbound in its presence, and had to have it. No negotiation. No consideration. It was going to come home. While the Crown Prince's sword was hidden away in his vault of collectibles, safe from any eyes but his, this one stayed close.

The thing was longer than he was tall. It was bone smooth, and dense in a way more like marble than granite. The history books attributed it to the horn of a unicorn, but Jaxen shuddered to imagine a beast whose skull was large enough to wield a spear like that from its forehead. Rational men attributed it to the tusk of a narwhal, an enormous whale like creature found only in arctic seas. Also something Jaxen was uninterested in meeting face to face. But Jaxen bought neither story. This was no fossil. Nor was it unicorn. But it was -- something.

His Wallet beeped an alert. He rolled, sheets twisting around him as he did, and swiped it from the table. The algorithm hacking into the Baccarat's secret servers downtown had downloaded a new file, but Jaxen was smart enough to not open the document on such an insecure device as a Wallet. He'd need to be at the workstation. He did scroll through the file addresses, though. Several caught his attention:

He heard the bathroom door open, and a woman crawled back in bed. Her skin was warm and soft against his. She smelled of having freshened up.

"Feel better?"
He asked without interest in the answer. Instead, he opened up a subdirectory beneath 'Gods_known.' She murmured a reply then burrowed under the blankets, and while Jaxen stretched out his legs for her ease, he didn't lower the Wallet.

Dozens and dozens of files cascaded through the scroll. Men, women, foreign and domestic. Names he couldn't pronounce. Names that sounded distinctly Russian. He was itching to open one of the files, but the distraction under the sheets kept him from sprinting off to the secure workstation. He was on the verge of procrastinating at least another half-hour, until he saw his own name.

"What the fuck?!"
He said and jerked forward off the pillow. His playdate pulled the sheet back and looked up at him worriedly.

"Did I hurt you?"
She asked.

Jaxen didn't answer. He just stared at the screen, mind racing to integrate this new discovery into everything else he'd assimilated these past few weeks.

The girl shrugged, but Jaxen stopped her before she disappeared again.
"Not now."

In moments he was on his feet and tying the drawstring of a pair of pants around his hips. "I'll call you a cab-,"
he said only to cut himself off when he realized she'd already passed out in the twist of sheets, like a baby bird in the nest.

He left her to sleep it off. He had work to do.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Apr 5 2014, 09:52 PM.
"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."
There was a hunger in the way Jaxen's fingers flew across the grid. After the sprint to the workstation, he was a sheer bolt of focus. His body couldn't keep up with his mind. Nor his blinks keep up with the devouring study of every line, passage and code to chart its way across the screen. Within moments he'd retrieved the files that teased him on his phone. He had to assume that after opening the first, Baccarat security would boot him back out. So the one file he opened better be goddamned important.

He stared at the filename for what felt like forever poised above the yawning of eternity stretched out before him. Gods. Known. Marveet_Jaxen. There it was. Just another line among hundreds. Or more.

His eyes narrowed, and he clicked download. The seconds felt like years.

There was a summary at the top. His Custody Identification Number. His passport photo.

He saved a copy just before the system shut him out. He drank in the words that read like a stalker's notebook dictating his life. He didn't know whether to be disturbed or flattered.

Then there were videos. He recognized himself walking through the white-tie affair at the Baccarat Mansion. He knew his own profile. There he was talking to White. The cigar. White nearly stabbing him in the face. The Zippo. He paused it on the frame of himself laughing at White.

This was not about the lift. This was something entirely different.
Known god.
Evasive activity.
Threat: High.
Target: Immediate elimination.

Narrowed eyes flickered toward the door. First, a message for Loksli. Like hell if he were sending this file and give himself away. Jaxen Marveet was only one of hundreds in that folder. Short of him sending her this same download, she could guess any of those names could be him.

'Found a hit list. Baccarat's? Or someone else's? I can only watch one back at a time, and you can be sure it'll be mine. Voxel.' It'd be waiting for her in their virtual meet up.

Meantime. He had a call to make and someone to track down.

A man answered the phone, "Pervaya liniya Security,"
he said with a voice smooth.

"This is Jaxen Marveet."
There was silence on the other end of the line. Good. That meant they knew who he was. Or at least, they knew who his father was. Which was good enough for Jaxen's intentions. "I want a face to face with one of your own. His name is White."

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Apr 5 2014, 09:51 PM.
"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."

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