J. Random Hacker were one of the successors to Anonymous after the crackdowns. Their underground roots were still evident in the meeting place. Between the thumping bass massaging your virtual ribs and the laser light show over the revolving dance floor, it was hard to imagine a setting that could look less like a meeting place for people whose passion was spending hours arranging programming code into meaningful shapes.
I saw Kitty’s avatar right away. She’d made the odd touch-up here and there, but overall the look was the same she’d had on the Hamilton job. Kitty’s avatar was a whip-cord lean woman in figure-hugging leather unzipped down to the navel. She wore impossibly tall heels and had little cat ears sewn into the hood, just above the googles she’d pulled up to reveal a face perfect enough to brand perfume. Couldn’t tell you what the inspiration for it was.
She was exactly where I hoped she wouldn’t be, out in the middle of the dance floor ‘tearing it up’.
I sighed. Compared to the majority of hackers I’ve known, Kitty was being punctual.
At least she was where she said she’d be at the time we agreed upon. In the past I’ve been led around like a lab rat through a hacker’s personal ‘Island of Doctor Riddles’ domain, forced to solve logic puzzles and answer trivia before they’ll ‘grant me an audience’. After a while the only thing keeping me going is the look on their face when I tell them their ‘Follow the white rabbit’ song and dance cost them the job.
I strode out across the dance floor towards her, deftly stepping around other dancers. I lacked the software to work out which ones were other users and which ones were programmed automatons.
Kitty had positioned herself right in the middle, gyrating her lovingly sculpted ass in time to the bass line. Under normal circumstances I would be happy to sit back and watch, but today I had work to do.
Without ceasing her rhythmic rotations Kitty slowly turned around. The orbit of her hips around an invisible centre practically invited me to check out her arse one more time. I tried to keep myself from giving her the satisfaction, but my eyes betrayed me at the last second and flicked down for a quick peek. Lucky my avatar wears shades.
“It’s been a while Dust. I see you’re sticking with the classic.”
I brushed my avatar’s cheek with my virtual fingertips. “It’s hard to go past this face.”
Kitty pursed her lips for a moment before smiling. “I know.”
I had enough by that point. “Can we grab a seat? There’s a lot of stuff we have to discuss.”
“Sure thing.” She said. “The chat room’s this way.”
“They actually call it a ‘chat room’?.”
“I know. It’s so retro.”
Kitty led me over to the booths. The moment we stepped off the dance floor and into the chat space the volume of the music dropped from the thundering bass to a dull hum, still clearly loud, but suddenly it sounded like it was coming from further up the street.
Kitty strode up to one of the booths and leaned over, placing her hands on the table so she could pull her shoulders back and thrust forth her virtual cleavage. Sitting at the booth were an eight foot tall, 300kg Cyberdemon, complete with bull horns and arm cannon and a robed magician who clearly couldn’t decide if he wanted to be Dumbledore or Gandalf.
“Hey boys.” Kitty very unsubtly purred, pushing her ample chest out even further for emphasis. “Mind if I borrow the table for a while, my friend and I have some business to discuss.”
Both of them brought their eyes up to Kitty’s face and smiled. “No problem Kit.” Said the demon. “Anything you need us for?” Gandaldore asked.
I was a mite curious why she bothered with the chest thrusting. The two (presumably) boys deferred to her as a seasoned pro. It had nothing to do with Kitty’s titties.
Kitty thanked them and we sat down. She glided into the booth’s bench seat and reclined on it like a supermodel posing her legs for a beach shoot. “So what’s the job?”
I parked my arse opposite her. “Tachi and I have buried ourselves under some heavy shit and we need an extra hand digging ourselves out. Preferably someone who knows how to drive a scoop-loader.”
“Can’t Noodles handle it on his own? Or has hanging around you two for so long made him crave female company?”
To be honest I think we were all craving female company at that point. Staying in that warehouse for so many months felt too much like high school all over again.
“Noodles got picked up.” I said bluntly. “I shudder to think of what’s happening to him now.”
“God Dust. What did you do?”
I leaned in close and slipped my shades off. “We pulled off the crime of the century. The ultimate scientific marvel is sitting in my hotel room as we speak.”
Kitty’s mouth fell open like a drawbridge. “You don’t mean…”
“… I do.”
“Silicon Dreams’ pride and joy? The first sentient…”
“I said yes. Don’t go broadcasting it to everyone.”
Kitty reached forward with a dainty, leather-clad hand and patted mine. “Relax Dust. This is a hacker house, the audio feed never extends beyond a metre radius. And the white noise generator keeps pumping out a droll background chatter. Only I can hear you.”
I did not relax. But I didn’t press it either.
Kitty bit her lip as she smiled. “What’s it like?”
“Yes.” Kitty whispered, she was practically oscillating.
“It’s like a precocious ‘tween boy and a hyperactive terrier had a head-swap operation.”
Kitty smiled dreamily. “I can’t wait to meet it.”
Now I relaxed. “So you’re in?”
“I’ll need to know a few more details.” Kitty’s smile became more serious and to my surprise, hungrier.
“You want to know what Noodles’ cut of the purse was.”
Kitty made a lollipop appear from nowhere and enveloped it with her full red lips. She nodded.
“A lot.” I said, proud that I kept my eyes on hers and not the lollipop. “A full, metric, shit of a lot.”
Kitty popped the lolli out of her mouth and shaped her lips into a satisfied grin.
I was so glad she didn’t actually start purring. That would have been too much.