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  Arbitary
by m101

Chapter 0x01

Cleft lay flat quietly in the vent, slowly running his index finger up and down the keycard in his hand. The card had no markings of any kind, except the badly refined magnetic strip that Raider had given to him in exchange for another. *click* The sound of a key turning signalled the exit of the lone security guard from the room below him. At this, Cleft slowly motioned towards the vent cover, moving his position into one of a semi-low crouch. Three sharp beeps followed by another click signalled the guard had armed the alarm and left the building totally.

What little light around Cleft came from moon light refracting around the aluminium vent. A bead of sweat slowly ran down his cheek. The suspense and danger of finding out whether Raider had shafted him or not compelled him to raise the keycard in the air and examine it for anything out of the ordinary. Cleft felt his heart beat rise as he found a trim slit down the side of the magnetic strip. Although it was probably just Raiders dodgy job at cutting the strip, he decided to wait a little longer to make sure the guard was well and truly gone. Cleft pushed up his sleave to reveal the dim glow of the hands on his watch. 02:15

Making himself comfortable as much as he could, Cleft peered awkwardly down into the room below. After what seemed like half an hour, he peered at his watch again. 02:18. Cleft's heart sunk. He felt that the contents of the room were beckoning him, as it did every time he had a job, but this time felt a little diferent. The job wasnt just a smash and grab. If he failed to disarm the alarm, even the fire exit would be locked, and the vent was too high climb back into, he would be lost.

Cleft removed the set of Allen keys he had stored safely stored in his jacket pocket. After taking a quick look at the vent cover, he chose the appropriate tool from the set, and started to unscrew the cover. One by one, the four bolts holding the cover in place came loose. Then, he conveniently placed the tools back in his pocket, and edged off the cover. The concrete floor was roughly two and half metres from the roof. Without placing his head inside the room, Cleft surveyed what he could and took bearing of where the door was. He would have to get through it to make his way to the security panel. Without thinking, Cleft swiftly slipped down the hole and landed crouching on the floor below. The force of the landing transfered down his right leg into the sole of his shoe, forcing him to pause for a second. A dim flash caught his attention as he headed for the door at the fastest speed he could muster. The silent sentinal motion detector in the corner had already alerted the main security panel, giving the intruder only seconds to deactivate the alarm before security were called.

Cleft placed his hand on the door handle and wrenched it open, the small corridor leading to the main entrance was lit by the fluerescent lights on the roof. He fumbled for the keycard as he reached the panel. The message on the LCD display was screaming INTRUDER. Ramming the card through the swipe as fast as he could, he paused for a sec. Nothing. The LCD display still read the dreaded words, Cleft tried again at a slower pace this time. A single short beep followed and the panel went dark. Cleft breathed a sigh of relief and slumped against the wall to catch his breath. The cold surface of the concrete stunned him back into action as he made his way down the corridor back to the room he came from. The light entering the area was still somewhat dull, so Cleft was forced to remove the cheap torch from his pocket and use it.

The room was plain and simple, a horribly dull place to work. Five work benches sat against the cold walls. A number of computer terminals were one desk, all connected to the mainframe by the blue rj cable hanging from the roof. The other desks held an array of cables, tools and electronic equipment. On the other side of the room stood a large cumbersome shelving unit. The padlock on the handle glinted in the torch light. Cleft made his was to the unit while taking notice of the various things on the benches. A pack of unmarked SIM cards caught his attention, and without thinking, Cleft thrust them in his pocket with his Allen key set. The frond of the shelving unit was cast iron, with thatched steel weaving allowing him to glimpse inside. After close examination of the padlock, he decided it was not very expensive, only a cheap brand, and with that, probably not very well made. So he grabbed a screw driver of a nearby desk and thrust it into the barrel, then with a forcful turning action proceeded to break the pins on the lock. *crack* It was open. The doors on the unit swung open with a squeal.

Each shelf in the unit contained an assortment of small metal cases, roughly the size of a lunch box. Cleft grabbed two and placed them on one of the nearby benches, pushing aside the junk already on it. He then lifted the two latches on each side of one of the cases, and lifted the lid. With a look of greed on his face, Cleft closed the lid and walked over to the waste paper basket in the corner. The remains of someones lunch was littered over the top. Cleft kicked the bin over and sorted through the paper at the bottom. Specification sheets, notes, reciepts, and a few pages of names and numbers. Cleft scrunched the paper into his inner jacket pocket and grabbed the two cases. Without much care, Cleft made his way to the front entrance and walked outside, taking careful note of any onlookers.

The street was blank, the only sign of activity was the blue neon Police sign across the road. Cleft made his way out to the footpath and turned around. The crescent symbolising the local Telephone Company glimmered coldly, but proudly above the entrance. After a small shuder as the wind swept past him, Cleft made his way down the road. He had what he came for.

***

"Shane!"

A young boy behind the third row of computers, startled by the shout of the teacher, clicked a few mouse buttons and looked up.

"Shane, what are you doing?"

"Nothing Miss"

"Exactly. Do something, and stop mucking around on the computers, theyre there for work, not your amusment"

"Yes Miss", the boy groaned back.

The boy was about 5'8", sixteen, dark brown hair, with a streek of white down one side. The doctors said it was a stress mark, but the boy didnt really care. He then lowered his head again and clicked on the almost omniscient button in the corner of the screen. Bitch-X appeared and the boy continued to chat under the handle of Morbid. The boy hated the his real name Shane, he hated Morbid for that matter aswell, but anything else just got him flamed.

Morbid sat there chatting away, every few minutes switching to a word processor to make it look like he was doing work. The teacher had nearly given up on the lad actually handing anything in. Once he was sitting at that computer he seemed like he was in his own little world. Nothing else mattered. Although she had never actually managed to catch the boy doing anything against curriculum, he hadnt handed in one piece of work, but always seemed to be deeply immeresed in whatever he was doing infront of the screen. The other teachers all had the same trouble, they just couldnt get him motivated to do anything, in any class except electronics and computers, but even then, they never knew what he was actually doing.

To Morbid, all the teachers in the sub standard school all seemed somewhat derelict. The equipment used in most classes was installed not long after Morbid was born, and the computers were nearly six years old. There was roughly sixty computers in the school, devided into two rooms. The internet connection that Morbid relied on was a mere dual ISDN that could hardly handle quarter of the class. Coaxial connections littered the desk onwhich the computers sat, and the proxy/file server in the corner was not one of great power. This was all going to change drastically in Morbids opinion, his parents had decided that they are going to move to a higher class suburb, closer to the city. The house was already sold and most of the contents of it had already been moved to the new location. To Morbid this was an opportunity to meet more of the hacker community, as there were regular meeting held for those interested, although this was similar to 2600, the leaders had long decided to dump the affiliation.

The bell rang, and without hesitation Morbid jumped up, hit the power button and bolted out the door and headed out the school gates on his way home. A sense of relief filled Morbid as he started the walk home.

"Shane!"

Morbid took no notice as he crossed over the street, he just kept walking. Probably just some low life looking for someone to pick on. *crack* A sudden blow to the spine winded Morbid as he fell to the ground. Although his physical appearance was not one of strength, or intelligence for that matter, Morbid quickly broke his fall with an awkward roll and pounced to his feet, dropping his back behind him. A tall boy, the type that plays too much sport and likes commercial radio had his fists raised.

"Wheres my stuff?" he yelled

"How the hell am I meant to know. Ask the bloody Pawnbroker"

The boy, John tensed his shoulders as he made a thrust at Morbid. In defence, Morbid caught the blow with his palm and pushed the over proportional weight of the boy into the pavement. The boy stood up and wiped his brow. A streak of blood ran down his sleave as his look of anger changed into one of rage. An older boy driving a beaten up Monaro jumped the curb and started jearing. John made his second attack, this time just trying to strangle Morbid. Grasping his throat in surprise, Morbid's face turned red and the look of pain turned into blankness. Morbid jammed his finger tips like a spear into John's voice box causing him to release his grip and stutter back gasping for air. A large croud of people had already gathered around the two and started sniggering. The older boy in the car pulled out a toy water gun out of his glove box and squirted Morbid and started laughing at him.

"Fuck off!" yelled Morbid

In response the boy jumped out of his car and with a blank expression on his face, strutted over to Morbid. The onslaught of blows from the boy knocked him to the ground in pain. After the pain had subsided and the croud had left, Morbid staggered to his feat. His nose was bleeding and his black shirt gleamed red. Without much thought, Morbid grabbed his bag, wiped the blood off his face, and continued his walk home. The boy would pay before he left, that was for sure.

Ignoring his parents calls, Morbid walked past the kitchen and down the hall to his room, shutting the door behin him. Lifting the lid on one of the various boxes in his room, he revealed a set of seven tape cartridges. Searching through them, he then returned six to the box and hit the power button his computer. When his school had updated from 800 meg tape backup of the admin system to 13 gig DAT tapes, Morbid went and trashed the dumpster outside the school and retrieved the still full tapes ammongst the mass of shredded paper. Government procedure did not yet incline the school to wipe data records, only paper.

A penguin flashed on Morbids screen just before he was returned to a prompt. Morbid loaded the tape and started the search for 'John Callaghan'. The reflection of the dried up blood covering his face showed dimly in the monitors glass. Due to the slow pace of the tape, Morbid sat back and started staring at the roof. Morbid heard the footsteps of his mum walking down the hallway, causing him to quickly stretch over and hit the power button on his stereo. The footsteps stopped and started going the other way as he cranked the stereo louder.

*beep* The cursor flashed on John's name. Full name, address, phone, birth date, it was all there, everything Morbid would need. He quickly jotted it down on a piece of paper and put it in his bag, followed by a screw driver, butterfly knife, metholated spirits, a lighter and a bag of sugar from the kitchen.

The next day at school, the first thing Morbid did was survey the carpark for the older boys car. There it was, in all its patheticness near the end of the lot. Two classes later, during a free period, Morbid went upto the library and complained that he had lost his library card. The librarian was one of the old computer ignorant types that had never got a guy in their lives. The pair of glasses hanging around her neck were rusting and giving Morbid a sense of retardedness. She proceeded to ask for some other ID, as he had none, the librarian asked for a few personal details, all of which Morbid had previously memorised. After a few minutes, and two dollars to cover the cost, the old hag handed over a new library card.

As he had learned from a previous experience, the library loves over charging lost books. John's lack of payment to the school showing on his record, and lack of grades for that matter, meant his parents werent the generous type. Morbid grinned and proceeded to select the six most expensive books he could find in the library. His choice of total crap would roughly cost $200 from the local shops, but at the schools rates, would put John back $300. Morbid then made his way back out to the carpark. With a bit of force from the screw driver, he managed to break the lock on the fuel tank. The sugar he then poured into the tank would caramelise his engine parts making the engine useless without a hell of alot of work. Morbid dropped the books on the bonnet of the car and pulled the bottle of metholated spirits out of his bag and poured it over the pages.

What followed was more than he could have hoped. The older boy came out of class and found the books onfire ontop of the bonnet. In rage the boy started to frantically blame a nerd who was walking past. Within seconds the principal emerged from the main building to see the boy belting the heck out of the nerd. The remains of one of the books were identified to john and not only was he forced to pay back the money, he was done for arson and the older boy was done for assault. Since infact this was Morbid's last day of school before he moved, the principal would have no chance to blame him and just to make sure, he left the school early that day.
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