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Moving on Up

By Jadestar

 

Cutter casually poked his head into Leila's office. "All hail the great and powerful one. Ah, make that ones." He leaned against the door frame to wait for Duke to get more than an inch away from Leila, and then continued. "I was wondering if you were going to need the services of the computer department today."

She was annoyed. "If I did, I would have told ya."

Cutter nodded, not hurt a bit. "Good, because I need to run some tests." He left again, and Duke looked relieved.

"Shall we...?"

"I believe we shall..."

*****

Shockwave watched Cutter pack his small backpack with the air of a schoolboy who is finally getting given a holiday. "All day?"

Cutter nodded. "Yeah. Just need to get out of this place for awhile, it can get a little cramping. And I have a bit of solo business."

The younger wasn't sure he wanted to know what 'solo business' consisted of, so he didn't ask. "Well, don't worry, I'll take care of everything! This place is totally under control!"

Rolling his eyes and glancing around at everything breakable and harmful, Cutter had to hope so.

*****

"This is really rather cruel."

"Sounds like it's just up yer alley then, Xena."

Xenon twisted her neck to glare at the offender. "Shut up Fybe!"

The tiny kitchen looked like it'd been hit by a computer store. Everywhere you looked, there was a computer and a keyboard, and another, and another. Squished in wherever there was space were eight ducks; the core HACKERS and Cutter. "It's not cruel, it's necessary. How do you expect him to improve?"

A small girl hovered around, computerless, next to a boy who did have one. "What can I do? I want to dooooooo something!"

Xenon was now busily fiddling with some program, setting up a link between two computers. She waved her hand at the dark haired man standing next to her. "CK... please..."

Cereal picked up the girl effortlessly and plonked her into a seat. "Watch this. Tell us when more than half the screen is red. This is important."

She nodded happily, while Cutter tapped his foot. "Before I go grey, please..."

That got Xenon's attention. "Is that what happens to brown feathers? Always wondered... Cipher... Cipher... Grif!"

Griffin whacked the duck next to him without taking his other hand off the keyboard or his eyes off the screen. Cipher looked up slowly. "Yes, Tess?"

Xenon waved a connector in his face savagely. "We're trying to link up! Pay attention!"

Half an hour later, around twelve computers were all networked and online. "Cutter, to save time... The password?"

"Like I'd tell you..." he murmured, typing it in, not noticing Xenon echo his monitor smugly. "Okay... we're in."

Fyber grinned. "Now the fun begins."

*****

Shockwave put his spanner down and hurried over to the main terminal desk when the small alert started to sound. "Only blue. Blue is okay." He took a look at the problem. "Bad sector... How does a sector suddenly go bad????" Alarms suddenly started going off everywhere. "Uh oh. Yellow alert. Orange... Black... Not red, not red, not now..."

Red.

"Aw, Drake..."

*****

"Thending thut down initiative to terminal one through twelfth..."

Cassie looked up from her intense study of the nearly all blue screen in front of her. "What did he say?"

No one answered her, and Cutter could see that she was about to start complaining. "He's shutting down the first twelve microcomputers that get their power from the Mainframe."

She beamed at him. "Thank you Jay!"

Cutter leaned against the table and folding his arms, watching. Well, at least one of them doesn't call me Juliet...

"Juliet, dear, since you're not doing anything useful... as usual... would you please get the soda? Bottom shelf on the fridge."

Cutter grudgingly obliged, and very nearly threw one of the cans at Xenon's head. A look from Cereal Killer made him change his mind, though he pretended it was just that he hadn't lost his cool. Nothing and nobody annoys Cutter Andrews, no sir...

*****

Shockwave was typing furiously when the knocks began. "Come... in..." he yelled absently.

Keen barged up and placed a blank piece of paper on Shockwave's keyboard. The teen looked up. "What?"

"You want to know what this is? Apart from blank paper," Keen quickly added. Shockwave nodded, though tried to keep typing. Keen grabbed his hands. "I'll tell you what it is. It's what ya get when your computer shuts down after you've been workin' for three hours, that's what it is!"

He squirmed. "Shoulda saved..."

"Shoulda nothin'!" Keen slapped the paper to Shockwave's chest. "Fix it!"

*****

"Terminals thirteen to one hundred gone..."

*****

Shockwave watched helplessly as the room filled with angry ducks demanding answers. "I'm really sort of very busy right now..."

The lights went off. Everyone yelled harder. Shockwave's normally long fuse lit. "That's it! Out! Out!" He stood in his seat and pointed to the door. "OUT!" When they'd wandered off he locked the door and turned back to the screen. "Hoboy." He started trying to boot the cyber-invaders out.

*****

"Sending First Impact virus, Linus..."

Cutter frowned. "What's that do?"

Xenon smiled. Luckily for her, he could only see her back. "Not much."

*****

Shockwave yelped as a monitor two screens to his left blew up. "Hey! That's not fair!"

*****

Cutter started keeping score on a piece of paper. "That got through? Right..."

"Getting taken down in the security level... Jumping to finance.... Go, Daisy, good girl, that's my girl..."

*****

Shockwave feverishly set up false entrances to the core of the computer while blocking off the real centre. "Shoo... Get lost, dummies..."

*****

Xenon glanced over her shoulder in a rather furtive manner. When she was sure that Cutter's attention was occupied by Cassie, she checked for the password she'd echoed off the terminal earlier, and started on her own agenda.

*****

Meanwhile, Shockwave was trying to be on five different computers at once. He had managed to get the emergency lights back on, which was one load off his mind, but he'd only just managed to stop the fire alarms going off and flooding the place with water.

*****

"Hey!" Cassie exclaimed. "The screen's not getting any redder! It's going blue!" She peered around. "Does that mean we're loosing?"

"Doeth not!" Zero Cool gave her a sharp prod in the ribs, and she yelped.

"Zero poked me! Xeeeeeeen..."

"Didn't! She's lying!"

Xenon glanced into the small rear view mirror Fyber had attached for her onto the side of the computer and cursed. At this rate I'll never get this done... How am I supposed to show that idiot that he should have joined us if I can't get anything finished? "Zee, concentrate! He's gaining!"

Cutter smiled a little. The boy had a definite talent, that was more sure than ever.

*****

Shockwave yelped as a new wave of attacks started coming through. He thought the tide had turned in his favour a few minutes ago; he'd even had time to send a few viruses of his own, but now he was being his harder than ever. If it keeps going like this, I'm gonna lose the whole system... There has to be more than one of them. The idea of an orchestrated attack did nothing to boost his confidence, and he desperately looked around for an answer.

*****

"Wha...? Thomefin's gone wrong!" Zero Cool wailed as he got a 'connection terminated' message. The others were having the same problem.

Xenon was seething. So close to teaching that no-good, low-down, scheming, egotistical piece of anti-virus code a lesson! She crossly tried to throw some commands at the Brotherhood system, and cursed when it wouldn't respond. "What happened?!"

Fyber was doubled over laughing, nearly crying. "Atta boy Sparky..." he sniggered. "Just what I woulda done."

Cereal grabbed his collar and hauled him upright. "What?"

The silver duck picked up a modem, and held it under Cereal's beak. He carefully, obviously, pulled the telephone lead out of it. "You guys are all oh-so interested in the software, but you've forgotten that all he's gotta do is pull out one little plug."

*****

Shockwave sat on the floor, phone line lying in the ground next to him. He wearily picked himself up and got the lights back on. Turning on some scanning programs to assess damage, he unplugged the broken monitor and started clearing up the glass.

Meep... Meep... Meep...

He picked up his Skyper and took a look at the text message running across the little screen. 'Reconnect ~Cutter'

"He is NOT going to like this," Shockwave moaned as he plugged the line back in. Immediately a digital camera started beaming some familiar faces onto his main screen. "Hi guys... This is not real good timing..." He frowned as he caught sight of Cutter trying to push between Fyber-Optix and Cereal Killer to get to the front. "Cutter?"

Xenon, who was sitting right next to the camera, sat back and folded her arms. "I'm afraid, Sparkster, that you've been set up by Juli-girl here."

By now, Cutter had decided to simply ignore any barely-veiled insults. "Congratulations. Welcome to the rank of Saber Student, kid."

Shockwave managed a confused smile as Cassie and Zero Cool stood on a table and started waving cheerily in the background. "You mean... That was YOU guys????"

Cipher yawned. "'Fraid so, Joe. Actually, I've written a poem about it." He ignored the usual complaints and cleared his throat. "Black cybernaughts zipping into hyperspace, attacking small clumps of data with piercing, code-sharpened pincers of blue screen doom death..."

"Anyway," Cutter broke in, "how are things? I'll start to head back now to help clean up. What's the worse damage?"

Shockwave felt bemused, especially as Cipher was incantating something like 'hey, man, the conspiracy conspires but you ain't home at all'. "Um... Lemme check..." He turned away from his own camera and checked the progress of his cleaners. "All the viruses are dummies... Which makes sense... Except for one, which only half got through... sent to the main security core... killcutter.exe?"

Cutter sighed, and didn't bother starting another arguement that would only go in circles. "Just delete it. Anything else?"

"Well, only the exploded screen..."

"The what?" Cutter glared at the company in charge.

"First Impact makes a big impact..." Griffin was only half paying attention, already busy hacking into something else.

Fyber rolled his eyes. "Yeah, or a big crater, whatever comes first."

Oh, if I still had my library card... "See you in about half, Sparky."

Xenon cut the connection. "Well, been a displeasure as always."

Cutter started collecting his gear, declining Cassie's offer of 'help'. "Killcutter.exe?"

Xenon laughed. "Ah, only a joke, Jay. You know me."

Yeah, you take jokes too far... Thank Drake she don't know Nosedive... "Thanks for the service."

ZC looked up from his close scrutiny of some code. "Don't ya mean help? Didn't we help ya?"

For some reason that Cutter didn't work out just then, Xenon took the hook for him. "Zee, Cutter doesn't need our help," she said, in all honesty.

Later, he realised it was another barb.

 

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