Out of Toronto 4.0
A snake, a spider, and a drone
The wooden snake slithered up Mellie’s arm and hissed in her ear. “Pleasssssse.”
Mellie tried to bite back a smile but she couldn’t help letting it show. “If we get caught it could be very bad for both of us.”
“Yessss, I know. But they are sssso much fun.” Viper undulated it’s wooden links and moved around Mellie’s neck. He pinched her neck and she flinched and her persona flickered just a bit.
She reached up and moved him a little. “Careful there please.” She pulled up her files on the facility and moved her hair out of the way so Viper could see.
The snake hissed and flicked it’s tongue.
“Well you can hiss at me for not getting it done fast enough, or you can go see if you can’t scout out around the edges to find yourself a way out. Getting you in I can do, but you’re going to have to get yourself out.” He flickered and slithered away.
Mellie inhaled deeply and focused her mind on the tasks she needed to finish; a list rolled itself out to her side. She brought her hands together and reached deep into the resonance to find another sprite to help her and Viper.
She spread her hands and a small green form that looked like a miniature tree appeared. The tree stretched it’s arms and a face formed out of the branches and the trunk and smiled up at her.
“Hi, little one.” Mellie smiled down at the tiny little nymph and waited as it looked around and got it’s bearings. “Do you have a name?”
It looked up at her, “I am Dia. Why am I here?”
This was one of the reasons she loved sprites, they got right to the big questions, they didn’t mess around with little stuff. “Hi Dia. I’m Mellie. I would appreciate your help with something. You are welcome, of course, to say no.” She paused for a moment to lift Dia up so they could talk eye to eye. “I’m trying to get inside a complex and snag a couple drones for my friend Viper. He’s very excited to have a new drone. We would love to have your help. I need to break through a couple of walls. There is danger in this so I understand if you don’t want to chance it.”
Dia spun around and tiny leaves flew in every direction. Dia grabbed at the task list Mellie had open and ripped a pair of tasks off and blended into the bushes on the image of the complex.
“I guess I’ll take that as a yes.” The bushes in the image started to burn. Mellie knew she had to move fast.
She pulled a shield of resonance and understanding around her to focus in on the tasks left on the list. She was the distraction, creating the loudest hacks and the worst failures. And trying to keep herself out of the line of sight. A thought occurred to her as she was smashed a fire alarm system. She created a couple posts where script kiddies liked to hang out. They’d never get very far on their own, but they could aid in the distraction effort.
Soon she saw loud, ugly, dirty signatures popping up around her as she flew at the system from multiple directions. She bit back the urge to brush them all away. “This is helping you, this is what you need. Let them be loud and ugly.”
She could feel the gentle touch of <!— who had been in working for a week already sending back information. She checked on Viper’s excited humming energy. And Dia’s nearly silent presence continued to burn through the map. The IC would be coming after them all very soon.
Mellie shifted her attention from her own hacks to adding little wedges to the hacks of the of the script kiddies. They would be getting in deeper than they’d ever had.
From the deep resonances, drawn to Mellie’s signature, coalesced code which slowly took the form of ethereal sheets forming together into a shape only too familiar to Mellie. Free sprites, unbounded by code or reason, tended to show up at the most inopportune moments.
“What are you working on?” the sprite pressed close to Mellie with a strong curiosity of the interactions against the system. At that moment Mellie detected the IC spider entering their node. She saw the threads of the web glistening around her, one touch and it would be on her in an instant. The spider was nearly twice her size and would ruin everything if it spotted her. She stilled her own mind and tried to pull the shadows further around her.
“Quiet please,” she pointed to the spider who was looking their way. It plucked a string dangerously close. Mellie and the free sprite, N, both watched as the spider sent another set of threads out. N was a small strand of golden and copper filaments that were wavering in what Mellie recognized as fear. The spider finally honed in on another section and moved away.
“You might want to take off, this is dangerous.” Mellie focused on the task but smiled warmly at N.
“No! I want to help. I want to know what you’re doing.” The words were formed out of N shifting it’s body in what seemed like no time. It had taken Mellie a while to understand it, but it was now second nature.
Mellie kept her voice at a whisper as she shoved a wedge into deep crack which was nearly down to the base. “We are getting Viper some drones…”
“I WANT ONE!” The strands vibrated in excitement. They swirled around her hands and slowed her work, she gently peeled them off.
“It’s very dangerous. You’re welcome to follow him in, but please be careful. I worry about you floating around there on your own.”
“I’ll be careful, I promise. I’ll even try to bring back an extra for you.” The strands brushed across her cheek and she pointed to a spot on the map and the filaments wove themselves into it disappearing from her perception.
One of the script kiddie’s icons lit, the spider had decided to attack it. But it wasn’t even really inside. Running cold, she shuddered at the idea as the icon disappeared.
The map lit where N had faded and Mellie reached in. They’d been spotted. She cracked open several of the spots the better of the script kiddies had managed to work on. The spider broke into pieces but continued to chase down her friends.
She dove toward them and could feel the spider turning toward her. She pulled on all the armor she could muster and started hurling code at it. She dodged the lines of web beneath her as the spider plucked them, moving the strands trying to catch her and hold her in place. If she was frozen she’d be gone.
Mellie ducked behind another script kiddie, also using running cold, he’d be no protection at all. She looked down at the strands and let out a deep breath before slicing through them. The spider roared and grew larger, stomping past the script kiddie and knocking him out of the Matrix with one limb it didn’t even pause as it loomed over her.
She moved to the side and sliced more strands of the web while watching carefully as it turned. She was sure she’d spotted a hitch in its movement when it ran. It slammed a limb into her and her shell cracked, she wiggled out of the armor and ran underneath the spider while it continued to crush thinking it was her.
The spider roared again but this time she was certain she’d see the hitch, the gap, the flaw. It threw it’s entire body toward her and she tried to leap for the leg where the code flaw was, she just needed to get there and she could crush it.
She managed to get the gap and rip it open, but only as the spider crushed her. Mellie felt herself gasping for breath in meat space but continued to dig into the gap, ripping apart the flaw in the code, the flaw in the spider. It started to turn into dust of zeros and ones in her hands. She continued to rip at it until the threads faded away and the last of the dust disappeared.
Mellie tried to reach for <!—, Viper, or Dia but couldn’t feel anything other than pain. She brushed tears from her face and pushed herself back into meat space.
The pain was instant and overwhelming. A sob escaped her lips and a gentle voice whispered through her head, “Sleep.” She wanted to reach back into the Matrix but she knew she couldn’t, and the thought made her sob. She pulled out her clunky comm and typed a message in for her friends and then curled back into a ball. Her tiny little mattress in the building she’d been crashing in for the last week was a nest of blankets she pulled around herself. The pain surging through her she whispered into the darkness. “When he gets back would you please get me up. I’m worried about what …I’m worried…”
The darkness engulfed the room and a small motion sensor in the room flicked on. A few blocks away Viper received a message and shot high up into the atmosphere with his huge shiny new toy and a new directive, avoid being caught until Mellie could clean it up.