Checkmate - Attraction


hana_icon.gif malice_icon.gif

Scene Title Checkmate - Attraction
Synopsis Attraction: used in chess to describe the sacrifice of one or more pieces, usually by White, in order to expose the enemy king.
Date July 23, 2009

Somewhere Inside the Pinehearst Mainframe

Pinehearst's mistake was in contracting with Stillwater Security.

They couldn't have known that the former owner of the company had close ties with two technopaths, that Hana Gitelman had nothing but time in which to tinker with their systems and setup to her liking. She made them more resistant to technopaths than nearly any other organization — any technopath except Wireless herself.

It's a simple matter to hop from Stillwater's systems into Pinehearst's. She's been monitoring their defenses for weeks; it isn't easy to circumvent Pinehearst's own protocols, but it's done.

Electronic door locks click open in places; remain stubbornly locked in others. Hana reaches out from the building systems to the guards' radios, balancing her attention across multiple tasks with the seeming ease of experience; white noise jams the frequencies Stillwater's personnel use, the technopath leaving only a small portion of her awareness to maintain that while the rest checks on her allies' progress and the potential of other, unforeseen dangers.

There is always something unexpected.

Even the most powerful have those they look up to. The two kills under his belt has Malice feeling as if he were unstoppable. As Wade, his adrenaline was pumping. Surely, there's a binary version of it, but for now Malice is looking out for himself. Kimberlynn has been put someplace safe, but even she is not really in his thoughts any longer. So full of himself, he doesn't really have time to think of anyone else. Just the mission of finding that last piece to his own puzzle and making sure that it doesn't fit into the final picture.

One would think that someone like Malice would be ill-equipped to take orders from someone else, but as Malice has been watching the world go by, he noticed Arthur Petrelli accumulating powers and beginning to resemble a god-like entity. It would be foolish not to try and endear himself to the old man. It may come in useful someday. Given the task of guarding the Pinehearst network infrastructure, Malice sits where he's been before on two occasions: on the inside. He has sniffers out so that he can ensure that no other technopaths try to come in and take out the network, or remove any data from the premises.

One thing he's not aware of is that Wireless has been there longer than he, checking things out. Lying dormant, like a tiger waiting to pounce, Malice sends out another systems check.

One figurative black-backed ear swivels as the request races through the network. Someone seems to be slow on the uptake — either that, or the computers do this routinely, but Wireless doubts that.

She hears, somewhere on the user's side, technicians typing franticly into their consoles, calling up systems, protocols, processes. They're slow to realize it isn't just a hacker in the system. She who currently exists in the computers spends only a little effort ignoring them.

Turns her attention instead towards something else. Something quieter, probably more hazardous. She can't tamper with all these systems and send back a false negative; multitasking only stretches so far. So Wireless submits the first ranging shot instead, on the heels of the 'systems error' reports Malice's query receives.

You're already too late.

Well, it can't be helped. He'd only just started looking. And yet that signature is very familiar to him. Once the errors start coming back to him, he knows. He still has no clue that Hana could point him out in a line up, but she'd more than likely recognize his digital sigature as well since he never bothered to change it when he started using the 'Malice' handle.

Whatever damage you can do, I can repair. I suggest you walk away now.

He's already begun work on trying to undo whatever it is she's done to the system. Funny thing about that is fixing the problem is never as easy as causing the problem. Malice thins himself out, trying to reach as many key problems as he can find, deducing code and trying to triage what he can at least on a superficial level.

She lets him reach the superficial ones, a few doors here, a chunk of code absently ripped out there. Taps into the security monitors instead, digital fingers sliding through what the systems see and hear, twisting it into a corrupted mess. If he wants to fix everything in her wake, Wireless is not about to lose any sleep over it.

Repair to your heart's content, she informs him.

You'll have to do better than that to make me 'walk away'… The texture of his communications is blessedly, cursedly familiar; she's been waiting a long, long time for this. Monk will just have to endure disappointment. …Malice.


If there was a tone in the communication, it would be disdain. But there's something else. K.Apila? that was you? So, perhaps now that emotion would be hatred. Malice has been literally seething from the games she played with him, at least in his own mind anyway.

Get tired of playing your little games? Stringing along those who want to try and do better with themselves? As he speaks he starts trying to shut down ports of entry. She's inside, but he can limit her escape route, perhaps, or at least make her scramble some.

You and your little friends can go to hell. Knowing they are one in the same now brings more fight to Malice as he hopes to do what he's done to the others that have screwed up his life. He wants to end her once and for all. He's already compiling a defense. Really, it's an offense, or technically a self-defense. Something that will go out and seek her and try to eliminate her.

I don't play games, Malice.

If it were spoken, it would be a low, dangerous whisper; a lioness' warning growl. It isn't, but she submits enough accessory information with the text for such a 'tone' to be deduced.

Wireless fails to respond with the expected, desired scramble: Malice's closing of ports progresses unhindered. Doesn't waste time or figurative breath 'explaining' things either. Circumstances have changed; it is only important that he not interfere with Phoenix, Remnant, the others.

Only that.

Malice busies himself with code, constructs, compilation. Wireless, never a true hacker, does something far simpler — and more dangerous: she moves in towards her opponent directly, eschewing roundabout attacks in favor of the digital version of hand-to-hand.

While Malice has the skill, he still has a lot to learn when it comes to dealing with people. Perhaps that has come with spending so much time within the system before he became Wade, but his critical mistake was assuming that she would do as he's done many times. Stay at her terminal and send out code to do her dirty work and report back to her. He never once considered that perhaps she was actually there with him the entire time. As he closes the final port, and sends off code in search for her remaining components, he has no clue that she's sneaking around on him.

This is my domain. Pretty soon, regardless of Arthur, I'm going to rule the world. Every electronic component will be at my beck and call. He's rambling to himself, or so he thinks, but his true reason for an alliance with Arthur is shared inside the system. Thinking he's just about rid of that nuisance Wireless, he begins to work on fortifying the network's security.

Any suspicions he has that Wireless is still inside is ignored based on the fact that he thinks it's just her code worming around his system. The threat of his offensive attack is real, though not as real as he should probably have made them.

Never ask others to do what you would not do yourself. Never accept less than full commitment from yourself. Never give up.

Hana's defining philosophy is devastatingly simple, and in closing the system's ports, all Malice has done is lock himself in the cage with the lioness. Except it's a lioness he can't quite see, as she slides through the systems around him, patiently assessing.

You are too self-centered to ever understand.

When she moves, it's to leap from the electronic shadows for Malice himself, an echo of their very first encounter, the seemingly suicidal — or at least horribly ill-advised — attempt to snare her enemy up close and personal, contain and cut off any signals, ravage his datastream, whatever the collision's aftermath enables her to do. With the doors sealed around them, the embers of her long-idle fury fanned awake by his presence, Hana isn't interested in playing peekaboo through the systems.

I will not let you threaten my people.

Even a Pyrrhic victory is still victory.

Being compared to the Romans isn't necessarily a bad thing, but Malice will be damned if he's going to let her play the part of King Pyrrhus on him and eek out any sort of moral victory. The collision of data streams would be described by him as if someone were wearing loud headphones and someone turned the squelch on high; it would pierce you right to your very soul. The attack is surprising, unexpected as he shifts the location of his stream, similar to a dodge. He appears to be unwilling to lose his own life in this battle for Pinehearst.

Idiot. Are you trying to get us both killed?

The effects of the merging of data seems to null them both out. It would be like a data collision and the information would have to be resent, only the two sources are here and not somewhere remotely. It's possible the two could collide themselves into non-existence. Malice takes a defensive posture and attempts to move towards an exit. Any exit.

There is no response from Wireless, except perhaps if Malice might lift something from her digitally encoded self; but deliberately doing that requires focus, attention, and his desire is to flee.

She follows, nipping at his heels in an almost literal sense, close enough to remain a threat. Pulling away what bits of digital information she can without an all-out repeat collision, and generally encouraging Malice to open one of those ports back up and vacate the premises.

Pinehearst will have to be on their own. He's not a soldier, and he doesn't plan on dying here. He'll regroup later, and lick his wounds. This, of course, is not over. The port is open and he slips out, taking the most detoured route he can think of back to his body.

He'll signal a retreat for now, because she's far too strong for him. Too strong, too smart. But this isn't the last that he'll be heard from.

Wireless likely would, if she had consented to guard something; one of many differences between them. Once Malice is well on his way out, she leaves a bit of code and a bit of self to watch the port, turning her attention back to the immediate business. Fatigue doesn't mean the same thing to her digital self, but Wireless isn't about to push her limits and chase a fleeing enemy when Teo, Eileen, Helena and all the rest are depending on her assistance. She doesn't put him out of mind, either.

Someday, there will be a reckoning.

Previously in this storyline…
Checkmate - Black Knights

Next in this storyline…
Checkmate - All Our Pawns

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