Fidget with the gun again. Just cannot get used to having it press against his skin. Swearing to himself, should have gotten the holster as well. Next time. Out for drinks, maybe some work. The bar of choice was not the nicest of places, but work could be found there. And besides, he already figured out that if you round up your bill, you get clean glasses.

Again for the third time in ten minutes, fidget with the gun. A small of panic as the tip of the gun brushes past the male unit. A quick study of the weapon to make sure the safety is on reveals that he doesn't know what the safety looks like. It had only taken a half hour to figure out how to load it. At least he was positive which end did not point at him.

He could look up the gun on line, get some info on how to use it. But not right now. The computers that filled this apartment were all currently being used. And he knew that everything earned from the currently processing work would have to go right back into more hardware. He could not let the hardware be the limiting factor here. Too easy of a problem to fix, and too dangerous to have problems. So he couldn't interrupt the task at hand. The sooner it was finished. The sooner he got paid. Money bought better machines. Which worked faster. Faster machines get the work done sooner. And the cycle feed itself.

Two years ago had brought this mess into his life. And placed with the challenge, he grabbed it whole heartily. Now was not the time to back out. Though had he known that there would now longer be the small comforts of corporate support, he might have decided differently. But that was past.

Two years ago, a weekend from work. Dumb things computer minds do to amuse themselves. Find a bit of information. Give the challenge to the other, find something harder. First to give up loses. Simple enough, harmless enough. Right?

Information they should not have looked for, should not have even thought of. Areas and thinkings on the net that they normally avoided. Virtual places they should not have been. Security responded. The silicon connections to their minds neatly demonstrated what could all be defined by pain. Hours later, awake on the floor, not moving because that didn't hurt. Both knowing very damn well that they should be dead. When the got around to moving again, they kept quiet. Both knowing full well that the only reason they were alive was because they had not even been worth the wasted energy of a kill.

His friend had never even thought of playing the game again. Hardly even touched public search engines in fear of where they might go. He on the other hand, decided that a correctly designed AI, would not have to worry about the attacks since it could just restart itself. And this AI could play the game for him.

And what started out as a small homebound hobby, took over his life. But he was getting closer to his goal now. The AIs could learn from lost attacks as well as those won. Layering VMs within AIs within VMs within AIs. Still had to babysit the rebuilding process, but he was getting close. At least they were good enough to produce income. Which was good, since he would never be able to do that kind of work. He might not have the fears that his friend had, but his friend still plugged himself in to machines.

A few more minutes of fidgetting with the gun, and then it was just dropped. Made it this long without it. Considering his skill, he would probably do more damage to himself than any attacker any ways. He just didn't like be defenseless. Well, at least the armorred jacket was easy enough to figure out.

Nearly ready to leave, a blip form one of the machines grabs his attention. Checking it, a message from one of the outer level AIs.

>>Haven't you left yet?

Laughing a bit, he replies

>>Then get your ass in gear, you are bound to interfere with us if you
>>don't leave.

Almost insulted, he is more curious as to how it knew he was still around.

>>It always takes you a couple of hours to actually leave once you have
>>stated you are doing so. And yes, you are predictable enough to know
>>this and that you would want to know how I knew.

A combination of pride and paranoia fill him. Paranoia for being predictable, pride for the AI being able to predict. Then concern since the conversation meant it wasn't working on the assigned job.

>Is the job finished?

>>No, we are just waiting for the sluggish bank mainframe to catchup.

>Is it that slow?

>>Yes, now get before it is ready again.

Feeling much better than he did a few hours ago, he leaves for the bar. Completely forgetting about the gun.