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White Hat

A Short Story

I watched carefully as my opponent tested the waters, taking a couple steps forward. I let him, waiting to see what he would do. I could see him put something together, slowly trying to figure out how I would react. It wasn’t much, but even a slight press forward was something to be wary of.

He took a bold step forward, and I sprung into action. I wasn’t someone who would fall to a brute-force attack like that. Three counters, and he’s back to square one. If he wants anything from me, he needs a different approach.

I glanced to the side, noticing a small spot that wasn’t properly fortified, and made a subtle move to try and cover it up. If I could even get anything there to impeded him…

Too late. He noticed. Stupid mistake. I should’ve left it alone until he was dealt with. Now I had an assault from a different angle to worry about. Nothing that should hamper me too much, but still a problem.

A light chime alerted me to another issue. He had friends. They were breaking in from yet another angle, making my job much more difficult. Even for an expert like myself, this was getting to be somewhat challenging. I should’ve expected it would be more like this from the beginning.

I moved some things around, my hands a blur in front of me as walls came up between me and them. I had to work fast if I wanted to come out on top of this. I could initiate a complete lockdown, but that was risky, too. It would essentially lock them where they were, and that would give too much information away. I needed another approach.

I started putting down a wide-angle shotgun approach. I needed to hit them with as many different things as I could to keep them off-balance. I couldn’t let them get to me. Even without what was at risk, people wouldn’t treat me the same if I failed here. I’d likely lose some contracts, and while I could live off the small ones, the big ones made my job a lot easier.

I felt the weight of my headset as my hands started to cramp up. The tension in my neck was starting to make itself known as I kept up my attack. I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for too much longer without slowing down, and that meant letting them closer.

I opened a window, pulling out something I didn’t often use. It wasn’t exactly a weapon, but it was a crutch I didn’t usually need. If I used it here, it didn’t really matter who won here. That came down to personal pride. After all, it wouldn’t be obvious to anyone if I did use it, so long as they couldn’t get to me.

I let out a groan of frustration and opened it up, letting them take the brunt of my tool. It would keep them busy while I fortified anything else. I had to make sure there weren’t any more holes for them to get in through. All it took was one oversight and I’d lose everything.

I found a few weak points and patched them up, using some basic techniques to get through them quickly and adding on only if I had the opportunity. They were getting a lot closer to me a lot faster than I thought they would. I didn’t have near the time I thought I had bought myself.

There was one more option I could use, but it would be risky. It could undo everything I had done, putting me at a sever disadvantage, but it could also be the turning point without having to resort to destroying everything.

I used my access to open up a door, giving me a moment to do everything before they saw the opening and followed. The moment was gone too fast, with the whole group breaking in right behind me, taking me by surprise as I finished what I was doing.

With the press of a button, we were all locked out. I saw red, green, orange, and a slew of other colors as the effects hit me, but I could only grin as the others seemed to disappear entirely from my screen.

I sat back and took a moment, my heart pounding in my chest. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was enough to work up a sweat for once. It was exhilarating, but it also showed me how lax I had become in my retirement.

A knock from behind pulled me out of my reminiscing. I quickly pulled up my backup and slipped in using a hardwired backdoor into the system I had been protecting, ensuring they would see I still had the information and was still in control of the system.

The door opened. “That was quite the show you put on,” my guest said.

“Well, you know my flare for the dramatic,” I replied, turning around to look at my friend. “Besides, I wanted to stretch my legs. It’s been a while since anyone’s given me a run for my money like that.”

“Oh, please,” he said. “You could’ve done that at any point. My team was never a threat to you.”

I shrugged. “Still good to get something more out of it than wasted time and money. At least this way we had some fun with it.”

“Speaking of fun, I think that’s the closest you’ve ever let anyone get,” he said. “I’m taking that as a win and celebrating with some drinks. You want to join?”

“Sure,” I said, tapping a few buttons on my armrest. “You’re paying.”

He gave me a glare. “You didn’t.”

“Just did,” I said. “You and your team went up against me directly, not my software. You really should know better than to try and hide something from me.”

He let out an exasperated sigh. “If anything more than the cost of drinks is missing, I’m coming at you with more than a few lines of code.”

I chuckled. “I’m going to hold you to it. Now let’s go get those drinks.”

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