Hey everybody! I'm back! thanks to all those fans who've been waiting for a story for me. I mean I made ya'll wait one whole year, but I'm on my summer vacation again and I just had to pen down this story!
It's a lot different from 'Black and White' but I hope you'll enjoy it anyway!
The shootout at `Crazy Mongers' would be one to remember. Sadly there were just a handful of people who would even hear of it. Nevertheless, the skirmish that ensued at the bar, and the god-like skill that was unleashed would be etched as the last image into the brains of all those that had taken a bullet before they fell to the floor.
Christian stared at his mate in wonder and shock. It was still to dark to see but he could make out Duke's slumped kneeling posture as the latter breathed heavily. He was clutching his prized gun in his palms tightly. The gun that had just taken more than a dozen lives.
Christian scrambled to his feet as he slowly crept up to Duke and reassuringly put his hands on his companion's shoulders.
"You ok buddy?" He asked in a gentle voice.
Duke lifted his face slowly, finally peeling his eyes away from the semi-automatic pistol in his hand.
"Yeah, I think so."
Then Christian whistled in a low voice before he added, "What the hell was that Badgerking? Are you some kind of a monster or something?"
Duke did not reply.
The almost supernatural sleight of gun that Duke had just displayed would brand him a legend forever. Sadly there were not many who had witnessed the scene or would ever know about it.
Duke yawned blatantly and scratched his collarbone as he waited for the chat applet to load. The past few weeks had seen him with no assignments and no hack requests. No small jobs and no password cracking tasks or trapdoor entry requests. Hell, he was bored with life. And the money was not coming one way or another.
The screen flashed as the applet loaded and Duke signed in as BadgerKing. A chat room where mere mortal net surfers would never dare lurk. For there was every possibility of an IP hack, a Trojan load off, or many other things would be done to one's computer just for entering the `dark side of the net' like this. To be here, one had to be adept at using the computer and know way more than the average internet surfer; armed with his knowledge of the browser and his list of a few web-sites that he frequents. But then again, simpleton net users would hardly ever surface in a hacker's haven like this.
Ordinary firewalls were a hacker's delight. They loved proving to users that the software which they used to protect themselves was less than competent, and the methods they adopted to prove their points were not exactly lukewarm welcomes.
Duke picked up his standard thermocol glass that read "Cafe Coffee Day" and sipped at the iced tea as he glanced at the topics being discussed. His feet were tapping on the floor as the headphones around his neck continued to thump music into his ears. Duke was a heavy metal listener, classified by most people as noise and Duke was a lover of the extreme side of it; death metal; which as its genre name suggested, was exactly the type of music that would have been played if human sacrifices were being made by a horde of savages.
Suddenly a personal message window popped up with a message for Duke.
"Are you THE BadgerKing?"
7 months ago, an A-class hacker had assumed the alias BadgerKing and had put the FBI to shame. This ace hacker had broken into the FBI secure system infringing through their stronghold servers, peeling of all their firewalls and assumed control for a total of 1 hour and 23 minutes. Understandably, any FBI personnel who logged in within that time period were astonished to find the wallpaper of a pesky rodent; the badger, and the photos in the lists of the top 10 most wanted criminals in the world had been replaced by other members of the rodent family.
Dignity had never been restored to the FBI for that incident for they could never catch the perpetrator. Hell, they could not even certify which part of the world he was from. The name BadgerKing stuck on after that, the King who had skimmed into their tightest security, right under their noses, taken over the reins of their kingdom, mocked the entire department and then slid back out without leaving any clue for them. The case was supposedly under wraps but of course the entire internet underworld knew of it.
The FBI was still hot on the heels of this enigmatic hacker. Not so much to catch hold and punish him but more to recruit him. But they had no leads in any direction whatsoever.
"Yeah I am." Duke typed back. He had gotten used to answering that question.
Ever since the FBI break-in 7 months back, the alias BadgerKing had become a rage amongst hackers and crackers alike. It was not uncommon in those days to encounter several different people who assumed that nickname or some varied version of it. BadgerKing69, BadgerKingXXX, bAdgerkIng:) and even a series of BadgerQueens. Those nicks were dwindling these days, the incident slowly fading out of people's memories as new and more daring hack attempts took the spotlight.
The 22 year old junkie, Duke had been the original BadgerKing.
And he knew that stating that he was indeed the `real' BadgerKing to some weirdo on the net meant nothing. Most who assumed the nickname anyway claimed that they were indeed the original BadgerKing.
Duke sighed as he closed the small pop up that was the personal message window. He thought back to how times 7 months ago, had been the heydays. The days when he had felt that nothing in the digital world was outside his reach. He was after all a self-proclaimed king. And though he had done the FBI stint for fun, accepting it as a challenge, it had still been his masterpiece. One he never thought he could top. And no one even knew he had done it. Not a soul. Nor had he gotten any sort of monetary gain from it. Yet he had spent all of 4 weeks to break into the system, baffling tracers, shattering firewalls and breaking through all those impossible algorithms. All to satisfy his ever parched thirst for adrenaline.
But now was a different time, when challenges were many and the horizon seemed endless. Nothing seemed to excite him these days. And nothing good was coming along. He still did a few trick jobs for clients online. A password here and backdoor entry there, but those mundane tasks were beginning to bore him. He was glad he still had the company of Colt and his bike, the two loves in his life.
Duke scratched under his left ear and glanced down at the dirty t-shirt he was wearing. The damn thing was twice his size and he had been wearing it since the last four days. It was reeking by now..
"Well, I guess I should change my shirt." Duke voiced to his own self as the funny odor from the shirt made its way up to his nostrils.
Just as he was about to close the chat window and raise himself from the dingy corner that was his computer centre, another personal message popped up.
"R u sure that
Duke sighed as he looked to the nickname this time; Fiery_babe.
"I'm positive," Duke typed and sighed again as he hit the enter key. Was this heading anywhere anyway?
The screen remained blank as Duke waited for Fiery_babe's reply. None seemed to come however for the next 20 seconds or so and Duke was just about to close the window again. That's when those words flashed on his screen.
"Then lets c u get thru this."
Immediately Duke blanched as his screen turned blue and a green blinking block cursor was the only thing left on the top left corner of his screen. That and a timer running on the right corner counting down 15 minutes. `Time left for DOOMSVILLE', the words beneath the timer read.
Duke stared in shock. What the hell had just happened?! And then he frantically tried moving his mouse around to no effect. The green cursor continued to blink and then someone typed the letters from across; "It's a challenge then!"
Duke was still dazed. How could this be happening? Was someone that skilled and that adept with their breakthrough skills that they had just shattered his firewalls and blocking programs just like that? That was hardly possible, for most of the programs he used were designed himself. And he was way beyond the amateur hacker for some prank of this sort to be working on him. But still the screen in front of him suggested otherwise.
As bewildered thoughts ran through Duke's mind, a program applet opened up at the centre of the screen and algorithmic codes starting inundating his screen. Duke stared in a dazed manner at all the various applets loading one after the other, the code stack, the function declarations, the function bodies and what looked like loads of cryptographic nonsense to Duke.
"If this is a hoax", Duke thought to himself, "Its way too elaborate!"
He rubbed his chin and clicked his tongue. "Ok, let's try it out!" he exclaimed to the empty room and frantically started hitting the keys.
A half minute of frantic trying later, Duke realized that it was no use trying to escape the program. He was in some sort of an infinite loop and had to break the loop by cracking the code in all the window applets. He could not forcefully exit the program nor use any of his pre-programmed cracking utilities and software to assist. And the timer was ticking down. Duke was not sure what would happen at the end of the stipulated period but he was sure he did not want to find out. After all, a hacker with the capability to design such a malicious code could do any damn thing he wanted with his system.
Or he could just pull the main power cord before the time ran out, Duke reasoned with himself.
And with that he rubbed his hands before he frantically started trying to figure out how to get out of this morass the hard way.
A few minutes later, Duke's face was red. The coding was real good. In fact it was of a type he had never encountered before. Combining Nth order matrices with basic C language and looping techniques, the ingenious code was way beyond anything he had ever seen before. It seemed to be the perfect firewall and at the same time a malicious one. And sweating as he was by now, Duke had no clue of how he was going to crack it at all. He realized that this was some sort of an `open code' extension, designed by a particular user who alone must be knowing the way through its confusing labyrinths.
He looked at the timer. It said 8 minutes and 14 seconds left. And then he glanced at the power cord of his computer, jutting out from behind the mahogany desk. It seemed to be the only option now.
Just then his eyes fell on the first words written on the screen in green letters.
"It's a challenge then!"
And that made his stomach churn. Here was the great BadgerKing reduced to shambles by some amateur hacker. Someone who broke through all his systems protection in a jiffy and who was now gleefully challenging him. And Duke was helpless. Had he been reduced to this?
Duke took a deep breath, took a long sip of iced tea from his thermocol glass and wiped the sweat of his brow before he returned to the keyboard and the screen. There was no way he was going to give up here. This code was not going to get the better of him. He was absolutely not going to pull that power cord no matter what the circumstances.
His fingers hit the keys at a lightning rate as his mind leafed through all the jumbled mazes, his mind performing a zillion calculations a minute. Fitting in the row matrix vectors was absolute genius, he reckoned, for they stupefied him to the extent where he almost wanted to break down and cry at the thought of deciphering them. But if the code was so damn perfect then why had he never encountered such a type before? His mind reeled as it whisked through thousands of permutations and combinations that would be required to break the various deadlocks.
Or maybe it's not that perfect after all. He suddenly realized. And with that thought his brainstorming stormed onto a new level. A level beyond those of mere mortals. And it peaked and reached his culmination as Duke suddenly realized the sheer trickery of the code.
A few calmly typed keys later, Duke whistled triumphantly as he pressed the final return key and launched himself out of the Death window. He exclaimed a loud `Yes!' to the empty room and patted his own back. He had done it! And he still had a minute and 8 seconds left!
And then he glanced at the screen again as a message pooped up from the person who had just send him on a ride to hell and back.
"That was good!"
In his befuddled state, before Duke could think of what to write back, whether to choke this person and kill him or congratulate him or her, another message appeared on the screen.
"Catch you later then!"
And the mysterious chatter logged off.
Duke spent the next 20 minutes trying to trace the hacker. But it was all in vain. He found no trace to go ahead on and just hoped that he would bump into Fiery_babe sooner or later. Little did Duke know that it would be more sooner than later
Duke had had only two loves in his life. The first was 92 inches in length and 39 inches in width. Weighing over 550 lbs, his lover was hardly animate. That's until Duke rode it. His lover was a BMW K 1200 GT, a Deep blue metallic Sports touring bike. The bike had cost him a bomb given his lousy monetary habits, it had taken him several months of saving to purchase.
Duke approached the devilish creature in the narrow garage his building owned, striding towards it purposefully dressed in black leather pants and a black Ducati jacket to match. One glance at him would scream out Bike-freak to anyone, but Duke hardly cared. Once he was on his crotch-rocket, it would be off pointed to the horizon, chugging in mile after mile or more or less lead him to one of the only destinations he would visit everyday; the Archery.
Duke mounted the bike and settled into the tipped-forward position as he slipped on his helmet. Seconds later the powerful 4-cylinder 152 bhp cylinder roared to life as Duke zoomed away.
The Archery was a shooting range. Where beginners and experts alike practiced their shooting skills, for sport or for other purposes. It was a 20 minute drive from Duke's beat-down apartment. Duke never took more than 10 minutes to reach it.
The Archery was where Duke would brandish the second love of his life. `Colt' as duke referred to her. She weighed hardly a kilogram and was barely 4 inches in length. A semi-automatic single action pistol, the Colt M1911 was Duke's prized possession. And he unleashed its lethality every single evening at the Archery, and he believed he had gotten pretty good at it.
Armed with his two lovers, Duke sped off for one of the only destinations that caused him to leave his crumby apartment. The other destination would be wherever Damien forced him to go. It had been a couple of days since Damien last met him. Duke knew it was about time that Damien got restless about his friend's social life and would soon be beckoning him to `get out of the damned house and mingle with the singletons or to at least get laid!'
Damien was getting impatient waiting at the bar. He had been waiting far too long for Duke to arrive. There were way too many hot guys around and if Duke did not make it in time, then they would be missing out on quite a few of them. `That's only if Duke's interested', he thought to himself.
Lately Damien had been growing aware of Duke's reclusion. The lad wasn't one to have a very active social life from the very beginning. Duke's idea of a social life was probably his bike, his gun and his computer, but nowadays Duke had virtually turned into a hermit.
Just then Damien noticed a tall biker-jacket clad guy entering the bar from the other end. Yup, Duke had arrived.
Crazy Mongers was a gay bar. A place where neither the atmosphere was too smoky nor the music too loud. Duke would never step into a place where techno and trance thumped at your skull or where smoke and dazzling lights made you feel like you were high without smoking any pot. Of course that meant that all the fun places that Damien liked to hang out at were not an option if he wanted Duke along but he would have to make some sacrifices for his sloppy best friend.
"So how's our darling hacker anchorite today?" Damien squealed out as Duke made his way towards him and took a place by the bar stools at the counter.
Duke flipped him off with a finger before flopping atop the high stool and letting a whoosh of air out. Damien snorted as he noticed Duke scratching his head with his right hand and unzipping the black leather jacket with the other. And then he had to stop himself from bursting out in laughter.
"What?" Duke asked as he noticed Damien staring at his jacket.
"You still wear those crummy t-shirts don't you? I mean have absolutely no sense of fashion."
"I don't give a rat's ass about fashion."
"Oh yeah, then what about common dressing sense and hygiene? I mean you come in all dressed up like some leather stud in what looks like a 600$ jacket and then you take it off to reveal a 2 dollar t-shirt. I mean look at that thing, it probably has stains on it since last year. I don't wanna be seen with you in that thing."
Duke just nodded his head dismissively as he shrugged Damien off. He knew he was a bit anti-social, but he really did not need a lecture on what not to wear on public from Damien right now. Damien got the hint and shifted to his favorite line of conversation.
"Anyways you know what? I finally did the dirty with Sam today."
"Sam?" Duke asked with a questioning look on his face.
"Yeah Sam, you moron, that redheaded hottie from my office", Damien replied in a nasal voice irritated that Duke had forgotten already. "I'd been stalking him for ages."
He knew that Damien stalking someone for ages meant that it was just his most recent infatuation that lasted half a day before he would finally screw the guy and move on to the next conquest.
Duke snorted slightly as he motioned the bartender to come over and take their order. Duke was a total teetotaler, never one to quaff alcohol, but he needed something to distract him as he listened to Damien and would order a coke for himself. He was a little peeved at the fact that the bar did not serve iced-tea.
"Oh Him!" Duke exclaimed, pretending he knew exactly who Damien was referring to. He actually had no clue.
"Yeah, and you won't believe it, we did the horizontal mamba in the men's room at the office!"
Duke hardly raised an eye-brow. He would have to let Damien continue with the story of his latest escapades for now.
"So we were both in the men's room. Actually I kinda followed him in. And well we made eye contact in the mirror before he dragged me inside a cubicle and slammed me against the wall."
Duke was barely listening. He was instead thinking about what he would have to eat once he got back home.
"And then it was frantic man, all the clothes being tugged at before all the family jewels came out and you won't believe it, but when I zeroed in on his mouth, he said he didn't like to kiss!"
"Yeah?" Duke asked barely listening.
"Yeah man, that's when I swooped down on his face and smothered his lips with my own and man, kiss he did! He freaking ate me as if his life depended on it!"
"And you should've..." Damien suddenly stopped as he noticed the bored expression on his companions face.
"You're not even listening to what I'm saying", Damien shrieked causing a few patrons of the bar to look towards them. "For Christ's sake, it was the fuck of the century and you don't wanna listen?"
"Every fuck is the fuck of the century for you Dame."
"Yeah, what's that supposed to mean." Damien's cheeks were red.
"I'm saying, chill dude, fall back, relax. You don't have to screw every guy you lay your eyes on, I mean you've practically become the town's mattress."
Damien scowled as Duke swallowed, feeling a little guilty for that sudden outburst.
"Oh Yeah, well coming from a guy like you I guess it..."
"What do you mean a guy like me?" Damien demanded a little irritated.
"Well I mean, coming from Mother Teresa, I guess it's ok to be condemned for my sinful ways, but Jesus, the local priest gets more action than you Duke!"
"Yeah?!" Duke wasn't going to give in without a fight this time.
"Yeah! I mean, when was the last time you got laid?"
Duke's face went blank as he tried to recall. The guy's name was Brian wasn't it. And it had been a long time since then. A really really long time.
Duke tried to find his way out of the corner Damien had pushed him into. "Why does it all have to be about getting laid?"
"Oh please don't give me that. Ok. When was the last time you went out on a date?"
This time Duke remembered. It had been Brian. And now he recalled that he had not slept with Brian at all. So it was Kyle he had sex with last and that was one hell of a long time back.
"Jeez honey, you're 22!" Damien continued knowing he had his prey hook line and sinker. "I mean, just look around you. All these guys, all that youth just humping away to glory in their private pea pods while you deal with the most severe case of blue balls. And all you think about is your stupid computer and that stupid bike. Are you even human anymore?"
Guilty as charged, Duke realized. He tried to come up with some sappy dialogue to counter his demanding friend, but nothing came to mind, Damien really was on his case today.
"I mean it's about time you found something organic to spend your time with. Doesn't it get a bit too much to just..."
"Am I interrupting you guys?"
Damien and Duke both looked up. A tall redheaded girl was smiling at the two of them. Damien paused his lecturing to take in her appearance. She was stunning; stunningly gorgeous. With a face that could launch a thousand ships. And she was waiting for a signal from the two of them to let her continue.
"Actually honey, you are kinda interrupting, I mean this dickhead out here hasn't exchanged bodily fluids with anyone since the last 9 months or so and he isn't even listening to what I have to say about..."
"It's not been that long!" Duke exclaimed, but feared if he really had to count it would have been even more.
"So Duke", the girl interrupted, "How long has it been since your last guy?"
Duke paused and looked the new arrival in the face. "Excuse me. Do I know you?"
Damien was now busy checking out the girl. It wasn't rare for the female species to come drifting into Crazy Mongers every now and then and he was pretty sure this was not a drag act, so what was this gorgeous chick doing here and how did she know Duke anyway?
"No, we've never met face to face..." the girl paused before she added, "BadgerKing."
Duke's jaw dropped. There was no person in real life who knew him as that.
"I'm Natasha" the girl extended her hand, "And you know me better as Fiery Babe."
Duke's eye-brows shot up in surprise and it took a few moments before what the girl said sunk in. "How the hell did you find me?"
"Sources." The redheaded female replied nonchalantly. "But that's not important, what is important is that I have a job you might be interested in."
"No fucking way!" Duke exclaimed. "That's gonna be impossible. That airport has way too much security." Duke could hardly believe what he was being made to look at.
"Look, it's not that I'm asking you to do the entire job. It's a three man job and you're gonna handle the security break through part of it."
"And what, just walk away with that statuette? You're way off your head."
Natasha hardly flinched. She would convince this guy all right, but the stinky apartment they were in was what was causing the real problems.
Duke had taken the girl back to his own apartment after their confrontation at the bar and he had had to split up with Damien. He was sure he would never hear the end of that from Damien. He would have a lot of explaining to do but Natasha had demanded that they speak in private.
"Perhaps you would reconsider if you saw this." Natasha flipped open her laptop and swung it around. There was an image of a jade coloured statue of a young woman draped in a shawl with her hands on either side staring out from the screen.
Duke squinted his eyes as he read off the screen. "Watchful lady. Is this the statue in question?"
"Yup, go on, read the whole thing."
Duke returned to reading from the screen and suddenly whirled around and exclaimed.
"A hundred and sixty three thousand dollars?!"
Natasha folder her arms across her tummy as she replied with a blank expression., "Yup that's what that thing is worth, so if you take off the costs incurred and split the remaining money three ways, we'll still have around 50 Grand per person."
"Fifty thousand dollars!" Duke repeated to himself softly. That was way more money than he had made the whole of last year.
"Yup. 50 grand."
Duke let out a low whistle. Then he thought back to what the girl had said.
"Wait a minute, split it three ways?"
"Yup, you me and Scott."
"Who the hell is Scott?"
"Our third member and our team leader. He'll be in charge of this operation. In fact I've already informed him about our whereabouts and I guess he'll be here shortly."
"Uh-huh." Duke muttered under his breath. He was not at all comfortable about the fact that more people knew about the `original BadgerKing'.
Just then, as if on cue, someone knocked on the apartment door. Duke made his way towards the door and swung it open to find an extended hand proffered to him for a handshake.
"Hey, I'm Scott."
Duke stood there transfixed for all of five seconds before he shook himself and extended his hand to greet the new arrival.
"Jeez BadgerKing", the handsome new man added, "Your apartment stinks!"
Duke was having hard time concentrating on the conversation. Two professional criminals were discussing stealing a statuette worth a hundred and sixty grand in his apartment and he would be one of the accomplices, and he was having a hard time keeping track of what was going on.
Sitting on his sofa was the most striking man he'd ever laid eyes on; Scott. Scott with his aquiline face and chiseled features, his square jaw face set off with high cheekbones, the soft pink lips and dark brown hair raised at the centre and buzzed short at the sides. The strapping arms and musculature visible through the flimsy shirt he was wearing. Pink soft lips and brown eyes, everything about Scott screamed out SEX to Duke.
"So the first task that you'll be responsible for BadgerKing, is to get us valid ID accounts in the Sirono security system."
"Call me Duke." Duke's voice was barely a whisper, he was just watching Scott's lips move as he spoke. How would it feel to kiss those lips?
Damien was right; it had been far too long since he had gotten laid.
"We'll get the duplicate ID's for the security shifts but you'll have to manipulate the mainframe computers and feed in the fake ID keys and bar codes that'll verify us."
Duke nodded barely listening. His brain was screaming for him to come to his senses. What the hell was he getting himself into?
"And the second task, which is the difficult one, will be for you to hack into the mainframe locker real-time, once we have physically broken onto the plane's vault."
Duke shook himself once again as he tried to figure out what was being discussed.
"And what type of system do they have?"
"It's an MD398 series vault, the automatic timer locked type", Natasha chimed in.
Duke face turned white at that. "Wait wait wait. A timed vault? How the fuck am I to break into that?"
"Everyone knows that the only way to hack into a timed vault without physically ripping it apart is to tamper with the timer and set it to the release time."
"Is that even possible?" Duke asked exasperatedly.
"Yes it is, but all the hacking has to be done real time. I mean you can carry your sentient AI backups and programs which can assist you but all the major work has to be done in under 10 minutes."
"You're kidding right?"
"Nope." Natasha had a bored look on her face by now.
"So why don't you do it then." Duke finally added. "You're pretty good yourself. I mean I saw fiery babe's talent before."
"But she's nowhere as good as the great BadgerKing," Scott interrupted as Natasha scowled at him. "We need you to complete all the homework and finish the security hacks by Saturday evening."
"What?!" Duke exclaimed. "You're giving me like what, 4 days for the thing. I need at least a couple of weeks for it!"
"Well the watchful lady can't wait 2 weeks." Scott stated as
he rested one of his hands on Duke's knee. "She's scheduled to be on board a
Duke was experiencing some trouble in the nether regions by now. The raw heat that Scott was emanating was driving him wild. He readjusted himself so his state of arousal would be less noticeable and coughed slightly. The amount of money involved and this drop dead gorgeous man intoxicating him were driving him towards the edge.
"C'mon BadgerKing. We know you can do it."
Duke could hardly believe what he had gotten himself into. It had been 2 days of relentless planning and programming and it was driving him nuts. The `deadly duo' as Duke had started referring to Scott and Natasha, mostly stayed over at his apartment and sketched out plans, blue prints, sentry timings and Program codes.
Duke had been more than impressed over the professional expertise of the duo. Scott was clearly the brains of the operation. He had planned every single detail of their loot to the minutest instant with all possibilities taken care of. Scott and Natasha would be doing the actually field work of `collecting' the artifact from the flight before it took off. Duke would be monitoring the two of them, keeping a watch over security guards and hacking real time when required.
Duke had no idea a job like this involved so much preparation and hard work. But Scott and Natasha had thought of every damn thing. They had blueprints of the airport, security guard shift timings, layouts of the plane and where the vault could be accessed and even relevant information of the server modules and the computer system on board the plane that Duke would have to hack.
And duke was going nuts trying to complete his share of the work.
It had been two days of unmitigated hard work. Duke had hardly slept a wink since then. The security part of his work that involved putting fake ID's into the airport security's database had been more or less an easy task and that was done on the first day itself. But hacking into the artifact safe real time was posing to be far more problematic than he had initially thought. It involved massive amounts of programming data and his full attentiveness while coding. And to top it all of, whenever he was not in front of the computer screen working away at algorithms, the deadly duo would be on his case, trying to make him learn the entire schedule of the operation and getting him to know the functioning of the cameras and comm. systems.
And to top it all off, Scott's proximity was driving him even crazier.
"So once the comm. systems are active you have to be careful not to..." Duke was hardly listening as Scott spoke. He was just watching him speak. The man was too damn gorgeous. Duke's long t-shirts partially hid his arousal but he was sure Scott was aware of how Duke's mouth always watered near him.
"For Christ's sake, go jerk off!"
Duke suddenly snapped out of his reverie. "Uh?"
"You've been staring at me like you want to hump me into the sofa. And you can't even pay attention cause of your horniness."
Duke was taken aback. Ok, so Scott knew of his ogling over him. The cat was out of the bag, and it had been e really crude exit.
"I, err..." Duke stammered.
Just then the bell rang, momentarily saving Duke from the embarrassing position he had been put in.
Duke rushed over to the door.
It was Damien; a very annoyed Damien.
"So where you been sweety? Still screwing your girlfriend?"
Duke was hardly in the mood to face Damien right now.
"I've been a bit busy Damien", Duke gritted through his teeth, stressing on the word `busy'.
"What? One minute you find this fantastic babe and now you're not even gay anymore? And what the fuck? You don't even have time for me anymore. I mean I've been calling you since..."
Damien stopped talking as Scott appeared, hovering above Duke. His eyes grew wide and then he tilted his head and squinted before speaking.
"And who's the man candy?"
Duke let out an exasperated sigh.
"Well who is he?"
"You know what?" Duke voiced with irritation thick in his voice. "I really don't have to face all this so Damien you can just leave for now..." Duke pushed the door but Damien shoved in a leg before the door could slam on his face.
"No no no!" Cried Damien from the other side, his voice muffled by the wooden door. "No way are you throwing me out like this."
"Yes I am!" Duke yelled back trying to push the door shut which resulted in a scream from the other side.
"My foot! You asshole! You mother..."
"Then withdraw your foot!" Duke yelled back as Scott watched in amusement.
"Ok ok I'm going!" yelled Damien as Duke stopped pressing against the door. "At least let me see that hunky beefcake once more!"
Duke sighed and opened the door as Damien's eyes fell on Scott. Damien stopped wincing in pain immediately and a smile appeared on his face as he asked in a husky voice "So sexy mama. Wuz-ur-name?"
"Bye Damien." Duke stated as he suddenly swung the door shut giving his guest no time to protest.
A series of expletives were heard from the other side as Duke retreated back into his room.
"Later Damien!" he called out as Scott followed him into the room. Duke started rummaging through stuff in his cup board.
"Interesting friend you have there." Scott stated as Duke Uh-huh'd in response.
"So can we get back to discussing the comm. systems now?" Scott asked in a forcibly calmed tone. Duke did not reply. Instead he dug deeper into the closet as he fished out his black leather Ducati jacket and slid it on. Scott's eyebrows shot up as he realized Duke fished out a gun holster from the cupboard drawer and secured it into his jacket's inner pocket.
"Where you going with that?" Scott asked against his better judgment.
"Shooting Range", Duke replied not looking at Scott at all.
"Man, we've work to finish here. You can go later once we've..." Duke was not listening though. He squatted as he removed his shoes from under the bed.
"Listen asshole!" Scott's face was red with rage. "We have tonnes to do here and the big day is just 2 days away. There's a schedule to keep and we have to perfect every routine."
"Fuck you!" Duke stated flatly. "I'm going no matter what you say. I don't give a damn about..."
Duke was cut short as Scott suddenly closed the distance between them in one long stride and caught hold of the former by his leather collar.
"You better fucking give a damn. It's our lives on the line here." Scott clenched his teeth as Duke tugged at the iron grip against his throat.
Then as suddenly as he had grabbed him, Scott let go and stepped back, the sudden anger vanishing from his face.
"Just go, but come back quick." He ordered looking at the floor. His voice was shaking.
Duke smoothed the creases on his jacket as he left the room.
Natasha was on surveillance at the Suda airport. She had been assigned to give the look-over to the area to make sure that everything was the same as it had been in their plans, the security shifts, the exits, the wirings and every little detail. She checked her watch. It was 7:14 PM. 24 hours later, at this time, the plane carrying `Watchful Lady' would be taking off. And hopefully without the priceless artifact.
Natasha knew that there was hardly any chance of their burglary being foiled. Scott was a master planner. And he had a knack for precision and a predilection for the unforeseen. His acrobatic and combat skills were far more superior than her own. Not to mention his stealth related abilities. And they had a good hacker by their side.
Natasha had been sensing some tension between Scott and the `Nerd' as she referred to Duke. The two always looked like they wanted to slit each others throats. And Duke was a bit moody sometimes. She hoped that his quirkiness would not dampen the operation. But given Scotts foresight, she was pretty confident that everything would go according to plan.
"Get some good shut-eye", Scott stated calmly. "Tomorrow's going to be the big day and we don't want you dozing off in the middle of the deed."
"Yes mother." Duke replied nonchalantly as Scott opened a suitcase and starting taking out equipment that would be used for the `deed'. Duke cringed when he saw the all too familiar gear as he thought about how Scott would once again start explaining to him about the comm. links and the various cameras. Frankly, he had had enough of that.
Suddenly Duke's attention shifted to a metallic object in Scott's hand. Scott had just pulled out a gun from under one of the suitcase covers.
A smile slowly spread across Duke's face as he looked at the gun. "Hmm, should've known you were a Beretta kinda guy."
"Huh?" Scott turned as he faced Duke with the silvery black pistol in his hand.
"The gun", Scott repeated, "The Beretta 92. The same used by
"Yeah?" Scott had a questioning look on his face.
"But seriously though, are you both gonna carry guns along. I mean you've explained the whole damn skit to me about a gazillion times and you didn't mention any guns till now."
Scott lifted the gun to his lips blowing imaginary smoke from it. "It's in case we are in some precarious position." Scott slid back the gun and resumed checking the other accoutrements. One by one he pulled a miscellany of objects ranging from pulleys to ropes and gloves.
"But seriously," Duke continued. "That gun should have never replaced the Colt. I mean double action where the hammer needs to be recocked in each firing cycle; that really messes your first shot man. And the first shot is way too important for reflexes."
"Yeah." Scott droned continuing his check up. Duke caught the drift and let the topic slide. It was rare to find a gun lover like himself.
"So I'm guessing you two are like some kinda acrobats or something." Duke stated. He suddenly was in the mood to talk to the muscular `teammate of his'. He had barely spoken to him over the last couple of days, busy trying to finish all his programming codes, but seeing a gun in Scott's hand made him want to know the person. Scott did not even pause to look up at him.
"I mean, there are quite a few place where you guys won't be using the ropes and all, and I don't think any ordinary guy would be able to swing and jump across those distances you know, especially the landing gear cubicle jump. Were you guys some sorta gymnasts or something?"
"Yeah, something like that."
"So you people from up North or something?" Duke persisted again, trying to dig up a little more info on Scott.
"What kind of music do you listen to?" Duke asked in a last attempt to make some conversation. He knew very few people had taste in music as close to the death metal sounds he listened to but everyone had some taste or the other didn't they? "I mean , you do listen to some form or the other of music don't you?"
"Hardly", Scott replied not even lifting his head.
Duke raised his eyebrows and shook his head helplessly. Whenever he had tried to talk about personal stuff to the deadly duo, they would evade the topics, never once answering the questions he asked. Apart from the `great Plane's robbery' (Duke's name for their operation), nothing else was ever discussed.
He wondered what the next day would have in store for them. Would he pull of his first theft?
Suda airport was always choc-a-bloc with people. The busy junction served as the terminus of many a flight. The private section of the airport lay across the lake from the mainstream airport. The section which multi millionaires, celebrities and their like used to catch private jets. And that section was hardly busy at all.
It was 6:59 PM on Saturday. And two black figures in skin tight black suits made their way across the hangar marked L-15 where a private jet lay waiting to take off. The two figures kept to the shadows with black duffel bags strapped to their backs. They were there to steal priceless merchandise from the plane before it took off 16 minutes later.
Duke's blood was sizzling. He was excited and highly alert as he watched several video screens on his laptop and computer. There were several security camera windows that they had hacked into and two screens that directly casted shots from both of his accomplices, tiny cameras being snuck behind and over their ears.
Duke was mostly watching Natasha's camera though, for he could see Scott in it. Drooling over Scott's squatting position as the black diaphanous suit that clad him left hardly anything to the imagination. All his muscle and cuts were visible across the black skin tight suit that wrapped around him like shrink wrap.
Duke shook his head to clear the lust overflowing his senses. He had to concentrate. Till now things had been perfect. The deadly duo had merged into the airport security using their fake passes and ID's at 6:36 PM and changed into their tight suits by 6:47 PM to slip into the Hangars. He watched as they suddenly left the shadows and quickly made their way across to the parked plane from the leeward side, all the time keeping low.
Duke's pulse was racing faster than ever before. The tough part was coming up.
And Duke had waned to see this.
He watched in awe as the two professionals climbed the landing gear and soared across the air before finally attaching themselves to the bottom side of the plane with the help of magnetic fastener.
"Damn!" Duke said out aloud, "You guys are good!"
Duke watched as the smooth as slick duo made their way across to the hull where Duke had now electronically opened a tiny passageway for them. Crawling across like spiders on an upside down wall, they entered the plane.
It was 7:01 PM. 14 minutes to take off. Scott had promised him a 10 minute gap to hack the vault. Looked like by the time Scott got to the vault it would be exactly that.
64 seconds later Scott and Natasha were inside the vault chamber, had opened the vaults security panels in the walls and had a miscellany of PNC cables and wires hooked into the system.
Duke was in.
"Ok BadegerKing! It's all yours now!"
Duke's heart was beating like a ten thousand watt woofer. He had not had such an adrenaline rush in a long time. And the next ten minutes were going to be crucial.
Hundreds of alphanumerics poured across the screen as Duke entered the system from the relative safety of his room. He set to work upon the primary firewall.
"Yup, its charged and heavily offensive!" He said aloud in his usual manner as he followed a series of set and eliminate commands to break through. His backup AI programs were helping big time with the algorithms.
A few moments later he was logged in. And now he would be all alone; without the support of his backup AI's. It would be just him and pure raw algorithms from now on. Duke rubbed his hands and quaffed his iced-tea from the thermocol glass, his standard hacking drink, as he set to work on the inside core of the protection system. Inside the plane's vault chamber Scott and Natasha waited wistfully. There was nothing more they could do till Duke had cracked open the vault. For the next few minutes they were going to just stand around and wait, keeping watch.
In a dingy room, Duke was having the time of his life up-linking and sorting out codes, truly amazed at the genius of the code which was just right for a speed challenge to him. Cracking the Sirono system would be simpler than he had anticipated. All he needed to do now was to clear of the loopers around the timer, overload the firewall and change the timer to 14 hours and 12 minutes later, when the safe was supposed to be opened.
And it would take just a few minutes for him to achieve that.
"Check, Eliminate, Check, Eliminate..." Duke said to the empty room, tapping his feet on the floor in rhythm to the blaring metal music that blasted into his left ear from the earphone while the mike attached to his mouth cackled in Scott's and Natasha's ears. The two would have to patiently wait till the hacker finished his job. This was Duke's forte.
"Done!" Duke suddenly cried out, almost deafening the two on the receiving side. Duke looked at the timer. It stated 7:09 PM. He had finished it in record time. He watched the screen as one by one the letters of the password manifested themselves on the screen.
"OPEN SESAME." Duke cried out aloud. "That's the password? I mean who the heck is the administrator of this Sirono thing? Ali Baba?"
Scott and Natasha chuckled from the other end as Duke opened the prompt once again to feed in the password. Just this and the vault would be open, the statuette would be taken, Scott and Natasha would steal their way out and 50 grand would be his.
But that's where Duke made the worst kind of error. An error he would kick himself in the shin for whenever he would recall the incident later on in life.
He fed the password in wrong.
"Fucking hell!" Duke yelled out an instant after he hit the return key and realized what he had one. He had typed in OPEN SESAMA instead of the famous keyword.
He watched helplessly as the system reconfigured and shut down, locking itself into dormancy. A wrong password entered would do that to it. And Duke had just triggered the mechanism.
It was 7:11 PM on Saturday with Scott and Natasha hidden inside the plane waiting for the vault to open and Duke had just ruined their day.
"What the fuck do you mean you entered it wrong?" Scott yelled his lungs out from the other side. "You fucking nerd, do you even realize..."
"It was a mistake dammit!" Duke yelled back. "I am trying to fix it now."
It was 7:13 PM. The scheduled time for take off was a few dozen seconds away. Scott and Natasha were still inside trying to grasp the situation. Scott was screaming as Natasha just kept quite and let her leader do all the howling and cursing.
"Abort operation!" Scott yelled as he stretched his arm to yank the PNC cables and get out of the plane before it took off; without the artifact of course.
"No wait!" Duke yelled back. "I am not finishing this without that bloody jade statue!"
And just then the lights in the plane went out, leaving the deadly duo in pitch black darkness, save the flickering of a few LED's of the hacking apparatus.
"We are aborting and leaving!" Scott hissed angrily into the comm. system. "There's no point..."
"I did it!" Duke yelled, cutting him off.
"Did what?" Scott asked puzzled.
"I cut of the power supply and I am now taking measures to ensure that plane does not take off in the next few minutes."
Scott and Natasha looked at each other, barely able to make out the other's reaction in the dark. This was not going as planned and Scott never did anything that was not according to plan. His strategist mind screamed at him to abort and flee with their lives.
"And I am making damn well gonna open that safe!"
Natasha gestured helplessly to Scott as she heard those words from Duke.
Tracie, a 39 year old blonde, her job was to monitor the airport hangars and runaway timing at the private section at the Suda airport. She was just about to order Flight E-751 to leave the L-15 hangar when something contrary happened. The hangar shutter started going down.
Suddenly the screen she was watching went blank and was soon replaced by a blue screen of death. The anti virus started beeping on all the screens across the control room.
"A self dividing virus has invaded!" someone yelled in from the software section.
Duke was frantically hitting away at keys on the keyboard. He continued typing away, brainstorming through the impossible algorithms that surfaced on lockdown. He was going to do this right.
Large beads of sweat dripped of his forehead and chin as he resisted the urge to take a sip from the iced tea. There was not a second he could afford to waste.
Scott pressed a button on his watch to activate the LED to read the time. 7:21 PM. And the plane was still parked in the hangar. His stomach was churning as thoughts raced across his head. Should he have listened to that moody hacker and stayed? Would they be caught? They could still leave even now; after all their lives were far more important.
"Natasha to hell with this..."
"Yeah, Zelderman is gonna screw our asses when she hears of this."
Suddenly the safe clicked open as bright tube lights flickered on everywhere in the chamber. Duke had done it.
Duke's voice cackled through "Take that damned thing!"
Scott and Natasha wasted no time. 40 seconds later, the artifact was in a black duffel bag on Natasha's back, the cables gad been yanked out and the deadly duo were sidling out of the plane.
Scott and Natasha landed with soft plops onto the cemented hangar floor. They were outside the plane after exactly 20 minutes and 13 seconds of going in. 7 minutes more than their proposed time. But the statuette was with them now.
The hangar was in chaos however. The alert had been sounded.
Scott immediately realized the danger the two of them were in. Voices were heard everywhere as running footsteps resounded of the walls. It would take a miracle for the two of them to not get noticed now.
The two black figures kept to the shadows, staying low from the security guards. Two personnel were opening the hatch and entering the plane now. The thieves had no time to spare!
Scott signaled to Natasha to the small rear exit the hangar had. Natasha looked at him questioningly. Was he mad? There were bound to be guards everywhere. Then she noticed Scott had his pistol in his hand now. She slowly took out her own, hoping things would not turn too ugly.
With a sudden movement the two made a dash towards the hangar's rear-exit, running as fast as they could. A shrill whistle cracked through the cold night air. They had been spotted!
Scott and Natasha ran with all their might as Duke watched on the screen in front of him, his heart in his mouth. He watched the two exit the hangar with various voices following them and then he heard the crack of a gunshot. The personnel had opened fire!
Scott felt the bullet hit the wall barely centimeters from his head before he exited. And then he balked and stopped short. There were two security guards that were running towards them in a direct confrontation. The guards had obviously been deading toward the hangar!
Scott paused for a moment as the two personnel came right at him and then suddenly fell to the floor as he swing his leg in a wide semi-circular arc knocking the breath out of one of them and then slamming his elbow onto the fallen man's back. The man screamed in pain as the other guard launched a punch in Scott's direction. Scott swiftly dodged it rising to the right and used his left hand to pull forcefully at the guard's leg, tipping him off balance. And before the man hit the floor, Scott rose up with godlike speed, grabbed the man's arm and swung the bulky frame of the guard in a wide arc in the air, crashing him into the wall next to the hangar exit.
Duke watched with wide eyes at the action that was taking place in front of him. What was this man?
The first guard that Scott had knocked made a snorting sound as he tried to get up and fight back. Scott slammed the back of his pistol into his head, knocking him unconscious.
The whole encounter was over in a few seconds. Scott and Natasha realized that the guards from the inside were about to exit the hangar at any moment now. And they would have to make sure they would not have any confrontations with guards anymore.
The two black figures ran into the darkness of the night.
Natasha winced as Scott slammed the artifact on the computer desk. But there was no way she could interrupt his rage right now. She would just have to fall back silently for now.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Duke flinched at the deafening ranting he was being subjected to. He had had a goofy grin on his face after the statuette had been secured and the deadly duo had escaped from the air port. A feeling that arose because of the dangerous situation that he had been through. And all the adrenaline had flushed his body and now left there was pure satisfaction; satisfaction that came from the acknowledgement that his skills had been put to test in far greater circumstances than had been expected and he had proven his worth to his own self once again.
"Jesus, Scott calm down. It's all done now isn't it?"
"What the fuck do you mean done? The two of us nearly lost our lives there while you sat in this comfortable room typing away at a screen." Scott's voice was rising by the second. Suddenly he caught hold of Duke by the collar and lifted him up from the chair he was in; for the second time in three days.
"Do you have any fucking idea what we went through?"
Duke was turning red; the feelings of satisfaction washed away as pure rage rose and tormented his mind.
"It was a mistake dammit! Mistakes happen!"
"That was a bloody catastrophe!" Scott yelled back "Which hacker enters the bloody password wrong? You bloody two-bit hacker. Should have known you'll never get past typos!"
Duke calmed himself. Only for a moment. He was going to give in to that desire now.
Smack! And with that Scott let go of Duke's collar as the latter smacked him across the jaw and he staggered backwards. Natasha rushed towards Scott's side but the leader beckoned her to stop. This was his fight.
"At least I got you out!" Duke yelled as Scott wiped blood from his cut lip with the back of his hand. "And we still got the loot!"
Duke's eyes opened wide as Scott suddenly charged and rammed into him, tackling him with his shoulder which connected with his stomach and the pair slammed into the wall behind them.
Duke gasped for breath as Scott pinned him against the wall with his entire body weight. Scott brought his face a mere two inches away from Duke's and hissed at him through clenched teeth.
"Listen Mr BadgerKing. We had a plan and had perfected every detail. And you went along and messed it up and put our lives on the line. And all you have to say for that is that it was a mistake?!"
Duke was having diffculty breathing. Scott was too strong for him. Their breath was clashing as Scott pinioned him. And his head was reeling at the impact it took when it struck the wall.
"Well it all worked out didn't it?" Duke yelled back at Scott. "And you both came back with that damned statue and without a scratch.
Natasha shook her head wistfully form side to side as she quietly left the room. "Boys!" she stated flatly before she left.
Duke stared into his captor's eyes. There was a murderous intent in them, mixed with something else.
And the next moment Duke gasped in shock as suddenly Scott slammed his lips against his own, smothering them wildly. A couple of seconds later Duke reciprocated with equal ferocity.
Duke's brain was in overdrive as he gave in to the second desire that had surfaced in the past 30 seconds. He shut out his brain as the lust and hormones cruised through his body.
Abruptly Scott broke apart and the two gasped for air. Instantly Duke pushed against his foe and turned the two around slamming Scott against the wall now. Scott fumbled with Duke's collar and in one strong swift motion, ripped open his t-shirt who at once resumed his attack on Scott's mouth as he tasted traces of the latter's blood, seeping through the cut lip he had given him just a few moments back.
The two ravaged each other mouths, lips and tongue and saliva smothered everywhere on their jaws. Brusquely Duke pulled Scott away from his face by tugging at his hair from behind as the two rested their foreheads against each other's breathing heavily on each others faces. They just caught a glimmer of lust and animalistic passion in the other's eyes before Duke shot his hand down between the two of them and tried to insert it into the tight skin suit's crotch area. Scott groaned as he grabbed Duke's face with both of his hands and rammed his tongue down his throat.
Moments later, the two were struggling to get Scott's suit off as they made their way towards the bed and collapsed on top of it.
In the adjacent corridor Natasha had stopped short when she heard the noises. And she knew exactly what was going on. Well it was good it was finally happening, although she felt a little regret.
Inside the room, the jaded statuette of the `Watchful Lady' watched the sexual exploits of the two men.
It was 3 AM on Sunday and Duke slowly un-entangled himself from his mate. He hardly felt like getting up but he had to leave.
He silently slid up as Duke moaned a little in his sleep and then went back to snoring slightly. Scott fumbled for his clothes in the dark as he watched the man he had made passionate love to a few hours before. And it had been strenuous. His whole body still felt sore and raw.
`Nasty little beast' he thought to himself as he put on his suit. BadgerKing, as he referred to him, had been the one who had risked their entire operation and then gotten them out of the mess. Scott hated him with all his heart. But there was some other feeling mixed with all of that. He looked down to the peaceful sleeping form of Duke. One could hardly know that he was such an animal in bed if they saw that serene slumbering form.
And now the last phase of Scott's carefully planned operation would have to be implemented. He picked up the 2 foot statuette of the artifact they had stolen and carefully slid it into a duffel bag. He made his way out of the door
Once outside he was confronted by Natasha. Natasha sitting by a dimmed lamp light with her hands folded across her breasts, her flaming red hair open and spread out, looking like a principle ready to scold a child.
"So was all that horny humping really necessary."
Scott flashed her an angry glare.
"It's over. Let's go!"
"Hmmm... Loverboy gets his rocks off and now leaves his lover in the lurch eh?"
"Let's leave!" Scott hissed through clenched teeth. "It's done!"
Natasha got up and collected the bags already packed around her.
"His hacking was exceptional," she stated as she strung the bag straps across her shoulders and handed a couple to Scott.
Scott did not answer. The two were going to leave, as silently as they could. And the great BadgerKing would never be able to trace them. They were off with his share of the loot as well. BadgerKing would probably get up some time in the morning and realize that everyone had left. Gone with all the equipment and with the statuette. And he would not get a single penny for the whole thing. The deadly duo would fleece him real good.
Scott once again stared at the sleeping from across the room as his stomach churned. He had conned many accomplices before but this one had really gotten under his skin.
Finally he turned and left with Natasha, his stomach still in knots. They would leave the town within a day and the BadgerKing would never find them.
And that made a hole in Scott somewhere deep inside.