Ants are probably one of the better-known insects in our world. Of the family formicidae, ants are considered to be pests, and possibly for a good reason. There are more than twelve thousand different species of ants, which means there are more than twelve thousand threats to our pantries. You can ask anyone residing in the suburbsants are a menace. But its overlooked that ants are completely spectacular. Their colonies are well-oiled, high functioning machines. Superorganisms, if you will. The colony knows how to work.
The dull light flooded from the city of angels, paving the way for its inhabitants. It was a bleak sunset, one that gave the whole of the city an eerie purple glow. Just another Friday night in Los Angeles, and it was only six oclock. By eight oclock, Kasen figured, there would be eight rapes, three kidnappings, and five murders. The way he saw it, the safest way to get to his destination was
well, hed rather not go out. But he had a job to do, bacon to bring, and a mouth to feed, so he opted for a cab to come and pick him up.
He paid the fare quickly (in cash, of course) and nearly ran right through the front doors of the building. The main lobby of the First Electro building differed from any electronics company Kasen had ever worked for. Well, isnt that special, he hissed scathingly, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. In comparison to the over the top, suave lobby, he couldve been a sack of trash.
Glad to see youve made it, came a mans voice, ringing out through the lobby. He was, in ever sense of the word, perfectly average looking, with the kind of face you could see very day of your life and never realize it was the same person each time. The thing that set him apart from the other peoples was his suit. Youd be the Snake, I presume?
Kasen spun on his heel to face the man, startled for a moment before he regained his composure. Thatd be me, yeah. Now who are you? The Snake raised an eyebrow at the mans suit, most probably because no electronic engineer working for a company as unknown as First Electro would wear a suit like that. It looked Italian, and it didnt suit the man in the least bit. But Kasen, ever the suck up, fished for a tip anyways. Nice suit, by the way.
Clearly pleased with himself, he brushed off his shoulders to rid his suit of the dust that wasnt there. Thank you. And I am Hubert Nelson, second in charge here at First. My superior requested your services. He smiled, shaking Kasens hand as he offered it. Wheres your partner?
Rats out running from cats. Sorry the rodent couldnt make it. With a simple shrug, he straightened his glasses. Shall we get to business, Mister Nelson? The name made him want to laugh.
Hubert nodded and motioned for Kasen to follow him. Inter the elevator went Hubert and Kasen, and up to the first floor went they. Mr. Nelson decided to start talking money half way up the lift.
We think some of our workers are hacking into the server and, through that, the company account. Needless to say, we want them fired. They can pay us back in time. So, we want you, Mr. Snake, to
To design and install a system in the server that will track their specific movements pertaining to the company account so you can see whos doing it?
Kasen nodded abscently, looking around the hall as the elevator doors opened. Yup, really didnt look like any electronics company hed ever seen. I can have it ready by Sunday morning. All I need is access to the server main-frame and time to install it Sunday evening.
Very well. Ill leave the key at the top of the door, on the crowning, outside. You look tall enough to reach it quite easily. Hubert, by the looks of it, would need to stand on his tiptoes.
The young man shrugged his hands into his pockets and leaned back against the mahogany paneled wall. Great. Now wheres my money? He smiled lazily, giving off the impression that he was ready to leave.
From the flimsy leather briefcase Hubert had with him, he pulled a manila envelope out, handing the lumpy package over. Two thousand dollars in full, cash, as per your demand.
With a greedy glint in his eye, the Snake opened the envelope, counting through it carefully. Twenty one hundred dollar bills, just the way he liked it. Cash is king, Mr. Nelson. Thank you for your business, and I can assure you, well be here Sunday evening to get everything in check. He slipped the envelope into his backpack quickly, looking to the man in the suit that was clearly too ritzy for most techie-nerds. Thanks again for the business, but I really must be off.
Ill email you the server information when I get home.
Kasen saluted the man as he stepped into the elevator, pressing the button to close the doors. Phone out, he dialed the number of the pizza place, keeping the order short, sweet, and simple. Large pepperoni and sausage with extra sausage and a six-pack of Pepsi, delivered to that old abandoned warehouse on Fourteenth Street.
You want us to deliver to an abandoned warehouse? the woman on the phone asked curiously.
Yeah. Is there a problem? Kasen had arrived on the street now, and, seeing as the same cab from before was waiting for him, he climbed into the back, getting comfortable.
Well, you know. Its like
Which is why my friends and I hang out there. Now can it be delivered or not? Rolling his eyes, he glanced out the window, lips pursed.
There was a moment of hesitation before the woman finally answered with a sigh. Sure. Itll be twenty five fifty.
Kasen smiled to himself, offering a thank you before hanging up the phone. He stretched out in the back seat, pressing his back to the door. The ride home was a rather long one, seeing as the driver avoided the many streets and many of the notorious back alleys. The serpentine like boy had just about settled in to enjoy the ride when his cell phone came to life in his pocket, ringing and buzzing away to get his attention. Quickly, Kasen pulled the phone from his pocket and checked the number before answering. I couldve still been in the meeting you know, you little twerp.
A giggle sounded as the girl spun round in the large computer chair, followed by a soft squeak. But you werent, Art said quickly as she steadied herself. The big chair was fun to spin in, sure, but it gave Kasen no reason to hog it all the time. I was tracking your calls
and I knew that you were done cause you already ordered pizza, Art stated, having a blast looking through Kasens files, bookmarked pages, and family pictures. Although, Id much prefer root beer. You know I hate caffeine.
He rolled his eyes, tapping his knuckle against the window in what was a clearly annoyed manner. You know I hate it when you drop in on my calls like that. And get off of my computer, Art.
Heck no, techno. I like your computer, it has good music, and the screens huge. You know, for a screen that big, youd think the visual quality would suck, she paused to turn the music down. Howd the meeting go?
Good, I guess, Kasen sighed, raising a hand to rub at his brow. Two thousand in cash, as promised. But it seems kind of suspicious to me.
Art seemed to perk up at the possible mention of a conspiracy. Why so shady, lady?
What is it with you and rhyming?
Answer the question, freak.
It didnt seem at all like the kind of place any electronics place would work, and for five thousand, I feel like its too easy of a job. The cab pulled to a stop, and Kasen paid once more before stepping out and heading to the door of the warehouse known as home.
You mean it was, what, clean?
Spotless. Organized, too. Im telling you, Arty, he said as he stepped inside, setting his things by the door. It was the wet dream of any neat freak. Looked more to me like a five star hotel. And get this, our new employer, Mr. Hubert Nelson, hes a suit.
She just about fell from the chair, gripping her sides as a seizure like chill ran-down her spine. A suit? An honest to God, real life, full-fledged suit? Were working for a suit?
He had a briefcase and everything, Art.
Tell me about it. Kasen stepped down the ramp and through the garage door, heading for their basement-workshop. Hows that for shady, lady?
Dont take my rhyme. Now tell me the details of the job. She clicked the monitor off and stepped from the seat, moving back to her own chairthe one with the warm blanket.
Kasen snapped the phone shut as he reached the workshop, leaning on the stairwell. Hubert wants us to create and install a program into the server at their office that will track all the actions of the company account. Apparently, they think someones stealing money from them from within the company, and they want us to find out whom.
Art pocketed the phone when Kasen hung up, grabbing a stress ball from her deskshe had a dozen of them for some reason. She tossed the pink, squishy brain thing at Kasen, raising her hands to catch it knowing hed throw it back. Thats so easy a demon could do it, and theyre paying five thousand dollars. And here you are, complaining.
Not complaining, Kasen corrected, throwing the brain back. Just curious about what you think is going on. Motioning for Art to follow, he started back up the garage and then into the living quarters of the so-called abandoned warehouse.
She caught up quickly, bypassing Kasen and chucking the brain at his head. I think you lost this.
Grabbing the ball from the ground, he got ready to launch. No kidding this time. Art That was a definite threat.
Calling it blind? She asked, giving him a hopeful look.
Calling it blind, he agreed, nodding his head.
She groaned. I hate having to call it blind. But she knew that, in the end, somewhere along the line, maybe the brain exercises would pay off. Alright so
Maybe that Hubert guy is like, a con. Its not an electronics company and hes not really in charge of whatever; First is just a front.
Kasen sat back on the couch, taking it all in. But they had a site Art. Youre the one that looked it up. First Electro-dot-com.
Its a scam, Kasen, she snapped, failing to recognize that he was just trying to get her to think. Theyve gotta be thorough, duh. The program will track all the actions in the company account; everything, including passwords and bank codes. If anything, Huberts gonna rip that company off. All of their money in his wallet.
Alright. Good theory. The door bell buzzed, signaling dinner. Kasen rushed in the process, very much just wanting the food and needing the delivery boy to leave. Closing the door after dealing with him, he set the box on the center of the coffee table. Bed time after you eat, kid.
Arts eyes went wide as her heart dropped, breaking and shattering on the floor. No fair! Its barely eight! Punk. She crossed her arms stubbornly. Why?
For one, you didnt sleep last night and we have work to do tomorrow. A lot of it. Sitting back, he opened one of the cans of pop, taking a hearty sip. Secondly, I miss my girlfriends.
You mean you miss your hand, Art said and looked to Kasen, who just shrugged. Ew. You killed my appetite. Stupid boys with their stupid penises and stupid porn.
Its not stupid, its just lacking a plot.
Saturday came and went in a blur. A blur filled with software and cleaning supplies. At long last, theyd gotten around to doing all the dishes, laundry, and even managed to get rid of the minor invasion in the garage. Somehow, a cat had gotten in, taking shelter to find a place to nest and give birth to five kittens--or as Kasen called them, Snot Bags. Needing them out (and fast), Art dropped the box of vermin at the door of an animal shelter Sunday morning. The schemers of the city of angels had done an honest days work. But Sunday evening, they were back in the game.
They arrived at five, this time in their own pathetic little Honda, with a small tool box and a brand new program. Just the program Mr. Nelson asked for.
Art eyed the main lobby, letting out a long whistle as she crossed the lobby. You were right. This is so not the central hub of an electronics company. Not Microsoft, not Dell, not even Apple.
Kasen nodded simply, heading down to the basement where Hubert had told him everything would be. Looks more like some fancy bank, only the security isnt high enough. Insurance agency? He clicked the light switch, letting the dim light fill the room lined with big hubs containing server after server. These things are ancient.
Insurance companies definitely have the dough. Not a bad idea, ripping off an insurance company. But dude, Art stood, holding up a screw driver. Which one?
Still workin on that, Arty. Just give me a minute. These things are like, impossible to work with. Kasen furrowed his brow, giving each hub a close inspection.
Cant you just install the damn thing into any of them? Theyre all connected anyhow, and the thing doesnt do damage to anything but the company account. Art stood stock still, spinning the Phillips head as if it were a baton.
With a dull expression, Kasen looked down at his partner, doing a good job of hiding how proud he was. The kid was catching on quick. Maybe even quicker than he was. Alrighty then. Pick which magical door, Arty.
Art pointed the screw driver at him menacingly.
Please just pick a door.
The petite girl was happy to oblige. Art propelled herself into a spin, letting the screw driver lead the way. Coming to a halt, the Rat took a moment to steady herself before marching forward to the hub shed selected. What if that guy doesnt pay up? Curious, she looked over to her employer as she worked away he screws holding the panel shut.
Then I track him down with all Ive got and demand the money plus the interest. You know, threaten to hire someone to kill him if he doesnt comply. Kasen reached for the black velvet box in his pocket, the kind made for storing jewelry. Like last years Saint Patricks Day incident, remember? Smiling coolly, he snapped the box open, eyeing the delicate piece of equipment inside. It was small; ring sized maybe, but not ring shaped. Tin and copper on the inside, tangling with wires and bits of data and memory. Even if it was simple software, he was quite proud of how pretty hed managed to make it look.
Of course I remember. She stepped aside, letting the metal door drop to the concrete floor with a loud crash. And were never doing business with pubs and little bars again. Theyre much too floozy. Wheres the restroom?
Kasen pointed down the hall to where hed seen the glowing bathroom sign as he went to work on installing the software. He did it with great care, every now and then checking his laptop to make sure everything was in order. Satisfied, he quickly opened the other half of his evil planthe computer program that allowed the user to see what in the world was going on. After entering a quick code, all seemed to be in order.
Mr. Nelson cleared this throat to get Kasens attention, tilting his head to the side and flashing a smile. Still working solo?
Glancing down the hall as he stood, he shrugged his shoulders. Yeah. Once again, the little Rat bailed out. He heaved a sigh of relief as Art crept back into the bathroom. But its nothing I cant handle, so no harm done.
Hubert nodded, tossing the tall, young man a wary glance. He was quick to change it, though not quite quick enoughKasen caught it.. Do you have the program then?
Yup. Crouching down, Kasen pulled the flash drive from the side out the laptop, holding it out for the man signing his check. Its all on there. To use the program youll need a code, which is just the file name of the program in reverse. Think you can handle it?
Im confident I can, yes. Slipping the flash drive into his pocket, Hubert set the shoebox down carefully. The rest of your money is in there. Have a nice day. He waved idly and turned to leave.
Cracking the shoebox open to reveal the three grand, Kasen lit up like a Christmas tree before closing the box quickly. He waited until he was sure Hubert was gone before he hissed out Arts name, beginning to quickly gather his things. Get the panel, will you?
Art rolled her eyes as she made it back to the room, grabbing the screw driver and the four screws lying on the floor before going to work. Youre right. He is a total suit. I can tell just from the skeezes voice. She glanced over to her boss, keeping a hand on the panel to hold it in place. Did we just help this guy rip off an entire company?
Ksen stopped in the middle of putting his backpack on, pondering Arts question for a moment before continuing on with what he was doing. If we did it, its not our problem. You know how it goes, he said softly, dreamily almost. We dont ask questions. Anything short of murder
No questions asked, Art finished with a sigh.
Right. Grabbing what he could, Kasen headed straight for the stairs. Lets get out of here.
Art blinked curiously, rushing to grab their things and following Kasen with a glance to the security camera, following like the loyal Rat she was. Why the rush?
Huberts a total creeper.