Summary: "Sasuke is called in to expose a deadly group of hackers know as The Zodiac Viruses. He knows 3 things. 1) The hackers are in high school, 2) There's thirteen viruses, 3) The animals are just annoying."
Warnings: AU, OOC, Twists, and chaos. (Editor's Note: Bear in mind that we know nothing of the inner workings of either hackers or police. Glaring mistakes and inaccuracies will abound. Don't say we didn't warn you. In retrospect, the fact that these characters are all in high school is just ridiculous. BAI: … Lets just not go there.)
Starting... Opening... Whatever.
Zodiac Viruses- chapter 1- I Hate Hackers- launching program...
Sasuke sighed and rubbed his temples as a black and red horse pranced smugly across the now-blank screen, occasionally pausing to stick its tongue out. Whatever files, or data, that had been taken was long gone, with the original set also destroyed in the aftermath. That was just the way these hackers worked. Clean. Effortless. Subtle. Untraceable. And other related adjectives.
In other words: a pile of paperwork for new head of the cyber division of the Police. Because, like the previous time and the time before that, they had gotten there too late. It was always like this. They'd get a call and by the time the squad made it there the hacker was long gone. They had tried on numerous occasions to trace from their computers back at base, yet kept being diverted to various (illegal) websites. An annoying signature left on the screen was the only sign of their presence and crimes.
"I hate hackers." He muttered darkly, checking to see if there was anything left on the computer. A useless act, as he already knew there wouldn't be. The screen flickered occasionally, and the pixel sprite started across the screen again. It would do that forever, as far as he knew. Even after they turned off the computer, which baffled the engineers back at the station.
"Sasuke, lets get going. There's nothing we can do here and we have school tomorrow." Sakura, his partner since this whole mess began, said sympathetically from the doorway. Sasuke sighed again and stood up to follow her. She was right. She was right every time they arrived too late: there was never anything they could do.
He hated it.
The figure sat alone, the darkness of the room hiding his features. The others had long since gone disappeared, leaving him to finish their delicate work for the day. In front of him, a computer screen flickered softly as the files were stored safely away in the many other computers in the room. The hardware hummed with contentment, oblivious to the sigh of relief that came out a little too loud from the figure.
"That was too close."
"Another dead-end?" His brother asked quietly at breakfast the next morning. The early morning sun was barely rising over the houses surrounding their home, yet it was bright enough that they didn't need to turn on any lights. From his position at the bar, Sasuke looked up from his cereal to meet Itachi's penetrating gaze. That gaze made most people uneasy, but after fourteen years Sasuke was immune. That, and he knew where he could find the family albums and pull enough blackmail on his brother to never be truly afraid of him.
"Yes, big surprise there. Why do they have to be so organized?" He complained, frustration returning full force, throwing his hands up in the air. This succeeded in splashing both of the Uchiha with milk and cereal from the spoon still in the younger brother's hand. Itachi raised an eyebrow as he elegantly, as only Itachi could, plucked a cheerio from his brow. Sasuke smiled apologetically. "Seriously, what happened to the criminal organizations that didn't know how to cover their own tracks?"
"They all got arrested." Itachi answered dryly, washing his face with a damp towel, afterwards throwing it at his younger brother with a raised brow. Sasuke glared at him, catching the cloth with one hand.
"It was a rhetorical question." The younger brother quietly cleaned up the spill with a scowl. The elder Uchiha smirked mockingly at Sasuke, pouring a cup of coffee for himself.
Sasuke rolled his eyes at his brother's irritating sense of humor. "And the animals are just annoying. I mean one of the viruses actually melted the inside of the computer and still managed to make a rabbit hop across the screen!"
Itachi leaned against the counter across from his brother, cup of coffee now in hand. His gaze was thoughtful, "Are there really thirteen hackers? Seem like an ominous number to me." It had been during one of Sasuke's previous rants that the Itachi learned of what the top theories were and how Sasuke thought they didn't factor in various facts, like the images of animals despite the screens being turned off.
Sasuke shook his head. "There are thirteen viruses, one for each zodiac animal including the cat, but that doesn't mean there are thirteen people. There could be one or one hundred for all we know." Which was another problem. Was each program specific to one person or could anyone with computer skills use it? Did that mean only one person was performing these felonies, or were multiple people behind it? That opened up the fact that hackers of this level had never teamed up before; it already took an entire team to bring down a single hacker of that caliber, let alone a group of them.
Sasuke shoved his cereal into his mouth with more force than necessary, rubbing his temples after he swallowed. Itachi smirked, and Sasuke halted in his shoving to cast a curious glance at his brother. With a lazy gaze and irritating smile, Itachi answered the unasked question, "This is why I don't do police work, little brother."
"Che, if you were on the case we'd probably have the whole thing wrapped up by now." With a sigh Sasuke ran a hand through his hair, ruffling it thoroughly. His brother closed his eyes and spoke in a quiet, absent manner.
"I'm a genius, not a miracle worker."
The younger Uchiha snorted softly, a dull expression crossing his face. "I know." He stood up, empty dishes in hand, and made his way to the sink. "At least we know one thing." Sasuke commented idly as he placed the bowl in the sink.
Itachi glanced up, "And what's that?" He took a sip of coffee and watched as Sasuke carefully started cleaning the dishware. If only the fangirls knew. The elder brother could probably finance his tuition if he managed to take a picture of Sasuke doing something so domestic and made copies to sell. Yes, then he could charge even more if he got pictures of Sasuke sleeping, maybe even make a combo of pictures. He'd be a millionaire. Sasuke was oblivious to his brother's plotting.
"The most likely theory we have right now, all variables included, is that the hackers are young. Probably in high school, if the hours they attack at are any indications. We've already tracked down everyone with the background needed over the age of 20, and none of them fit." Wiping his hands on a towel, Sasuke leaned against the edge of the sink.
"Interesting." Itachi's tone got serious then, enough to have Sasuke's full attention, "Be careful out there, Sasuke. If you're not, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. Hackers can be dangerous."
"I know. I'll be careful." Sasuke appreciated his brother's concern. This was the seventh time it had been voiced, if not as subtly as the times previous to it. Itachi had made it clear he'd rather his brother not be on a case like this, but a job was a job and Sasuke wasn't a kid anymore. No matter how much Itachi treated him like one.
Itachi smiled then, and poked Sasuke on the forehead as he placed his mug beside the sink. "Good. Now get ready for school or you'll be late." He moved away towards the entranceway of the house, a mere hallway leading towards the kitchen with the living room branching off from it.
Sasuke scowled and rubbed his head. "Stop doing that!" He protested childishly, eyes narrowed in annoyance. Itachi smirked.
"You never minded when you were little." The elder Uchiha's tone was mock serious, coal eyes laughing at Sasuke.
"That was a long time ago. I'm grown up now." Despite his protests, Sasuke was laughing lightly. With a smirk to his brother, that was returned, Sasuke made his way up the stairs, heading for the bathroom and his toothbrush.
Making sure his brother was otherwise occupied; Itachi silently ascended the stairs and walked down the hallway to his room. Closing his door softly, he pulled out his phone and dialed a memorized number. After a several moments of ringing he was almost concerned that he had missed the other boy, only to have his worries dismissed as the phone was finally picked up.
"Hello, un." The voice on the other line answered tiredly, a testimony to that fact he had probably spent the entire night trying to finish some long forgotten paper. The birdbrain.
"... You aren't even out of bed yet, are you?" Itachi stated resignedly. He, of course, had finished the paper within a week of its assignment and had enjoyed a full night's sleep for the two weeks following it. "School starts in fifteen minutes."
The voice was irritated now, and slightly more awake than beforehand. "I know. I'll get there, un." There was some shuffling and distant shouting on the other end, followed by the thunk of something heavy hitting a wall or door. It would seem Itachi wasn't the only one who'd noticed how late the blond was running. The voice faded back into range, "What do you want?"
"I'm running out of supplies, what do you think of an outing to get more? We could all go." It was a fairly usual request. Itachi glanced at his watch. He'd have to cut this conversation short or Sasuke would be wondering where his ride was.
"Sounds good, un. I'll tell the others." There was a yawn. "But couldn't this wait 'till later? I was sleeping." Itachi smiled; a rare sight.
"It wouldn't be nearly as fun if I did that. We'll go to the usual place." He hung up without waiting for a reply. On his way down, he grabbed the keys from the kitchen counter and headed for the front door where Sasuke was waiting.
Sasuke sat in the back of the class, early as usual, and looked over the students in the classroom. None of the teachers had arrived yet, leaving the students free to their own devices. Off to the corner, Ino and Sakura were giggling with a large group of girls, the stereotypical popular group. The giggles halted for another girl to speak and more laughter was heard. They were the loudest of all the students and relatively annoying in that regard.
Up at the front, where most of the students avoided being seen, Shikamaru was explaining something to Chouji, who was munching on his ever-present bag of chips. Judging from what Sasuke saw it was on material they wouldn't even be covering until final year. Sometimes he wondered why Shikamaru didn't just skip a few grades.
Near the middle of the rows Naruto was copying Hinata's homework while the Hyuuga heir just sighed. Both were completely oblivious to Kiba and Shino plotting in a corner, far away from the girls, for revenge on Naruto's 'dying Akamaru pink' prank. Or rather, Kiba was plotting while Shino nodded on occasion. Maybe the Aburame was asleep; it was hard to tell with the sunglasses.
All was normal.
Sasuke caught Sakura's eye as she chatted with her friends with her friends. She nodded that all was well before returning to her conversation before anyone realized she was making eye contact with the girls' equivalent of a heartthrob. His partner may, in the most respects, be an ordinary girl, but she was very good at her job. No one would suspect that she was a member of a specialized team.
Said team had only been assembled a few months prior, when the police had begun to suspect that the hackers were still in school. If they couldn't beat the hackers online, they would just have to flush them out where their computers wouldn't be able to protect them. And that meant taking them by surprise. To that end, they had looked to the children of well-regarded police officers and adults already involved in local high school affairs, making them honourary police officers for the purposes of the investigation. Their goals were to scout the most likely of suspects without drawing attention to themselves; not an easy task with the various social groupings of each school.
They were targeting the most likely suspects first. That amounted to picking out the top students in the school, especially in computer-related classes. Shikamaru and Neji were high on the list- though Shikamaru got barely-passing marks most people knew he was a genius. Neji was a grade higher than Sasuke and currently under the observation of two other new officers. Sakura had suggested that the dog sign would suit Kiba well, and so with nothing else to go on Sasuke put him on the maybe list. That list was way too long, with the likely suspects' list far too short.
All talking stopped as Iruka, their math teacher, walked into the room. He surveyed the room critically, smiling pleasantly. "Alright. Classes are now starting." A gleam entered the teacher's eye, "Everyone who's supposed to be somewhere else leave. NOW!"
With the shout behind them Ino, Chouji, Naruto and Kiba bolted from the room. Iruka was very scary when he was angry, rare as those times were. Sasuke sighed inwardly and settled down for another uneventful class.
That night, Itachi made sure Sasuke and their parents were fast asleep before grabbing a coat to protect against the night chill and slipping quietly out the door. He went straight for his car, waited impatiently for it to purr to life, and began the twenty-minute drive to where the meeting was taking place.
The restaurant was quiet. The dim lights from inside suggested the place was nearing closing time. It was a tidy place despite its obvious age (the window stills, once a bright red, were now almost brown. The paint on the signs was chipping, revealing the wood underneath.) Parking his car and heading up the steps, Itachi wondered, not for the first time, if anyone actually ate here.
Knocking sharply on the door the Uchiha waited silently outside, the crisp bitter wind hardly affecting him through his thin coat. The seconds dragged on, before the sound of something unlocking was heard. Within a few seconds the door had cracked open and a thin redhead appeared in the doorway. Hazel eyes stared at him irritably from under a mop of bed hair, a slight scowl adorning the other teen's face. The waiter finished wiping his hand on his half apron, leaning against the doorframe. Sasori was never one to greet late customers, "We're closed. Come back tomorrow."
"But I heard you have some of the best tempura in the city." Itachi gave him a sharp look, his tone one of superiority. "And you closed just a few minutes ago. Surely you wouldn't turn away a paying customer." There was no room for arguing with that tone, though the redhead seemed to briefly entertain the thought. After a moment, he rolled his eyes and stepped aside.
There was an air as if this had been done many times before as Sasori pushed away from the doorframe, turning to head inside. "There's some in the back. Come on." The redhead then led the way through the maze of tables, Itachi dodging the various chair legs up in the air, and past the bar counter into the storeroom. The cool air of the room nipped at the both of them; the black turtleneck sweater of Sasori's wasn't warm enough to block it completely if the goose bumps on the teen's hand were any indication. That didn't stop him from removing one of the wall tiles from beside the shelves and typing in a code to the button pad behind it. A door slid back from where it had been camouflaged like the button pad.
As soon as the door closed Itachi nimbly dodged to the side as another teen came racing up the stairs a few feet away. Sasori was not quick enough to escape the flying body as she tackled him with enough force to bowl him over. An impromptu wrestling match ensued, ending with the girl who had tackled him sitting on his back. Her purple eyes were alight with laughter, hair of the same hue ruffled from the fight, though she was scowling.
Lifting his face from the floor, Sasori attempted to look up at his girlfriend only to be halted by impossible angle it would have required. "Anko, would you get off me?" She adjusted herself to sit on the small of his back, her one hand gripping both of his arms in front of her.
Anko leaned closer to Sasori's ear, whispering with a dark smile, "Not until you give me the dango you hid." Itachi mentally sighed from his temporary hiding spot. Any attempts to move pass the girl would end with a sharp whamp to the back of the head. The duo currently arguing were probably the prime example of opposites attract, with Anko's hotheadedness and Sasori's equally cool headedness often clashing in the most spectacular of verbal fighting.
"What dango?" Sasori's head met the floor with the hit Anko made to the back of his head. Her eyes were twitching, though the redhead couldn't see it. She was no longer amused. The redhead made a groan- or potentially a sigh, it was hard to tell with the stone floor muffling it.
"The dango in your hair." Her tone was sarcastic, mocking him, "I'm talking about the dango in your pockets, idiot. You should know better than to try and sneak some past me." Sasori made another groan, lifting his head to speak properly.
"If I give it to you would you get off of me?" Anko was mulling it over, her hand releasing her boyfriend's arms, to support her other arm as she mulled the concept over. After a moment she spoke again.
"Sure. Now give me the dango." The redhead propped his head with one of his freed arms while the other dug out the treat Anko was after. He handed it to her idly, waiting patiently for her to move. She didn't, instead she was far too occupied with being united with her 'baby.' Itachi smirked at Sasori's predicament before moving past the now-distracted "beast" and down the steep stairwell from whence Anko had come. The bright lights overhead showed the great metal doors at the end of the stairs.
As he drew near to the doors they slid open, welcoming him into the dimly lit room. Itachi's eyes adjusted quicker than most to the change in lighting, revealing three balconies connected by another set of stairs. At the bottom of the room was a rarely-used table with fourteen seats. Television screens covered the walls where the highest balcony was located, showing a variety of security videos from all over the city. One of the screens, he had been told, was now hooked up to cable. The balcony below that was covered in cluttered desks of computer monitors and towers. With chairs scattered in front of each other the desks, various personal affects claimed a desk apiece, and bulletin board covered in the important notices of who was to do what that day. The lowest balcony acted as their storage or living place, with cots for long nights and a miniature kitchen for the following breakfast in there. A couple of couches and more comfortable chairs were arranged in a semi-stylish manner.
Itachi had barely managed to place his coat on the back of his chair when Kisame's head popped out of their equivalent of a cubical, water bottle in hand, a few desks down from the Uchiha. "Oi, Itachi."
"What?" Itachi didn't bother to glance in the taller boy's direction. Most would have been offended at the lack of attention. Kisame wasn't most people. Quietly turning on his computers and pulling his chair forward, Itachi waited for the other teen to begin.
"The brats are going to be here any minute. We should get down to business." Kisame disappeared temporarily to retrieve their orders. He returned to popping his head out in under a minute, a sharky grin on his face that matched his blue skin quite well. It was a singularly odd sight, and Kisame often found himself explaining to disturbed passerby's that the gills and pointed teeth were merely plastic surgery, as part of an 'artistic expression'. Itachi wasn't sure if that was Deidara's influence or not. "Moor Inc. has a new security system that could be trouble. Itachi, you need to copy the program. Anko will cover your tracks while I get to destroy the original."
Itachi nodded in acknowledgement. He typed his password in and waited for the computer to finish loading his files. "So we need Anko." He murmured almost absently. "Deidara!" The shout carried over to another cubical where a blond pulled himself out from under the desk, numerous wires in hand.
Deidara frowned at the Uchiha, obviously not in the mood for dealing with him. He had been trying to fix a fray in one of his computers' wires for the past week. A very annoying fray- electrical tape didn't seem to do anything. "What, un?" He didn't wait for the reply before ducking back under the desk, but Itachi knew he could hear him well enough.
"Go get Anko." Itachi began opening the programs he would need. In a matter of seconds the desktop was covered in screens. A quick calculation had accounted for possible changes this hack could cause and whatever this new security system would bring.
"Why me, un?" The question echoed from under desk. A hand appeared and snatched a fresh roll of tape from the top of the desk before disappearing again.
"She likes you." Which was true, and it meant Anko would be less inclined to hurt him when he disturbed her from her favorite pastime: eating dango. Although Itachi still wouldn't want to be the one to convince her. With a grunt Deidara tossed the offending wires back under the table and headed up the stairs to where Anko was last seen.
After a few moments there was a shout, dulled by the doors, and Deidara came racing back, rubbing his head with slight tears in his eyes. He passed close by Itachi's desk and hissed "You owe me for this, Uchiha." Anko entered next, with Sasori right beside her.
"I need to copy some security program, cover me." Dedicating a moment to allowing his current partners to boot up their computers, Itachi prepared to launch his own, unique program. Created for the sole purpose of copying huge amounts of data in a matter of seconds, there was, understandably, a great deal of power needed just to start it. That was, in Itachi's opinion, a small price to pay when it was capable of copying entire mother computers perfectly.
Anko sat down at her spot, the computers loading her program quickly, hands dancing across the keyboard. Behind her Sasori was leaning on her chair, his hazel eyes solemn as he watched her work. Kisame cracked his finger joints loudly, before joining the other two in booting up and adjusting their programs. The three hackers worked at lightning speeds, typing almost inhumanly fast.
"Are we ready?" The other two hackers nodded silently, absorbed in their own work. "Beginning operation 'Sharingan'." Itachi's voice took on a professional tone, echoed with soft clicking of keys.
Anko called out a moment later. "'Snakes + Ladders' ready to go. On your mark Itachi."
No less than a few seconds after that Kisame's voice rang out. " 'Shredder' on stand by. On your mark. Get set-."
"Go." Itachi said blandly, activating his virus- nicknamed 'Sharingan' for no particular reason, other than he thought it sounded cool- with a push of a button. Within a matter of minutes the plan was in motion, and the damage being performed was beyond what the police could hope to protect against. This only made them a little bit smug.
"Great. Just great." Tenten remarked as she saw the security program they had worked so hard to design disintegrate before her eyes. A good month had gone into that system, only for it to be destroyed less than a day after they activated it. For no reason she could think of, either. Perhaps it was enough to assume the hackers just didn't like someone challenging their skills. That would have to be added to the report.
"No, really?" Asuma replied sarcastically, his cigarette poofing out smoke with each breath. "For a bunch of criminals they have exceptional teamwork. The rat, snake and ox worked in perfect unison." He shook his head disbelievingly staring at the screen.
On the monitor, with a blue background that normally came with a crash, the rat smirked at them, the ox seemingly laughing with the snake coiled around the cat. At this point in time they were able to confirm at least two programs that were active during this procedure, although the animals' presence implied there had been four. When they tried to follow the hackers via the internet they found themselves redirected to various porn sites and other sites that no respectable person would want to be caught with in their computer history. Just like the last time they tried to follow the cyber-trail.
"So..." Tenten began, rubbing her temples, "who tells Sasuke?" They both glanced at each other, then backed away from the monitor, leaving the scene for the others to process. Making their way to the door, they showed their badges to the secretary on the way out, and Asuma answered.
"Rock, paper, scissors?" He lit up another of his cigarettes, the last one having been finished a few minutes beforehand. He opened the first of the two doorways for his younger partner.
"Are you kidding?" Tenten stared long and hard at Asuma, disbelief clear in her chocolate eyes. "You have better life insurance between the two of us. You get to tell him." With that she was out the door heading towards Asuma's car.
The copied information disappeared into one of their mother computers to be sorted later, and Sasori was staring at Anko, who was grinning slightly. The redhead sighed at the needless use of his avatar and quickly removed it from the images of Anko's snake. His hands avoided hers as he made the appropriate changes, a fact that made Anko smirk.
The doors opened for the rest of the team as they showed up. Itachi wasted no time turning his formidable glare onto the newcomers. His eyes were sharp as he glanced at his watch, noting the five minutes separating the minute hand from the hour. "You're all late." His eyes narrowed further and, without waiting for excuses, he immediately launched into a full-blown speech about the importance of being on time. Especially when there was work to do.
The hapless audience turned desperately to the older members for help, all of whom were smirking. Proving the sheer fruitlessness of that act.
Nearly fifteen minutes later, when Itachi had finished his scolding of the latecomers and everyone had settled down on the bottom floor, the meeting could finally begin. There were twelve of them today- one member had a legitimate excuse for not being there and the Leader would not show up for something of so little of importance, hackers sat around a large table. The dim light of only one light bulb overhead darkened the room significantly, a perfect setting for them as far as they were concerned. At the head of the table stood Itachi, face impassive as he began the meeting.
"I have called you all here to discuss a very important matter. It has come to my attention that the police are cracking down on us. They know we're still in school and they've recruited many undercover agents to flush us out. I do not have to inform you of the importance of remaining inconspicuous." He paused, eyeing each member for a moment, "Keep to your covers, and don't associate with anyone from the group other than your partners. Sasuke's in charge of this investigation, and he's not an idiot. One slip up and he'll be on us. I'll try to find out who are the undercover agents. A report has been sent off to-"
Itachi was cut off by a coughing fit of Sasori's, only continuing when the redhead had finished "- telling him about it. We'll have an escape route prepared in case we're found out." Itachi's disposition changed, his face somehow more threatening though nothing had changed his expression. "On a more important note, who ate the last of the pocky?"
Zodiac Viruses- chapter 1- I Hate Hackers- ending program...
Rat- Itachi- Age-16-Program- Sharingan
Ox- Kisame- Age- 18 Program- Shedder
Tiger-? Age-? Program-?
Rabbit-? Age-? Program-?
Dragon-? Age-? Program-?
Snake- Anko Age- 17 Program- Snakes + Ladders
Horse-? Age-? Program-?
Sheep-? Age-? Program-?
Monkey-? Age-? Program-?
Rooster-? Age-? Program-?
Dog-? Age-? Program-?
Boar-? Age-? Program-?
Cat- Sasori Age- 18 Program- ?
Captain: Sasuke- age- 14 Partner- Sakura
Sakura- age 14, Partner- Sasuke
Tenten- age 15, Partner- Asuma
Asuma- age- 28, Partner- Tenten