Fame, Fortune, and Prison Hacking?!

by Shatea
“How long do we have to mine again?” I dragged a pick over my shoulder with a huff. We’d been hacking at the stupid rock for hours!
“Until I say stop.” A warden crossed her arms.
I bashed the pick down. BAM! The rock crackled until a purple gleam peeked out. Within all of Alpha Solus, crystals of starburst were hidden away. These crystals, once surrounded by enough positive emotions, would be purified into highly desired $ANIMA. However, the desire that landed us in jail wasn’t for the starburst but for special Star Ores for crafting venarite. Normally when excavating, I could have found several types of ores to craft with and use on the Starcrane machine. I may even have found item shards that I could use to craft special items. However, I was currently in jail.
“Where are the margaritas on the beach, Suga?” I grumbled at the guy next to me. At least he was suffering too.
“Shut up, Lala.” Suga rolled his eyes. “Unlike you, I go to the gym a lot so this is nothing.” He bragged while wearing the ugly pink prisoner’s uniform.
“Yea? Then why are you drenched like you joined a wet t-shirt contest?”
Suga bent to pick up his newly excavated mineral. The purple stone seemed to glow with energy. If we had these star ores, which held the power of the stars themselves, we could have crafted enough venarite to use on the Starcrane vending machine for months or have made a killing selling it on the black market.
A sunny smile spread across his face as he said, “I’m glad we’re in jail. I finally see the big business potential of star ores.” He carried the ore up in the air and announced to the warden, “I, the most humble prisoner of Anime Meta Jail, offer thy sacrifice.”
“Hurry it up!” the warden yelled.
“Y-Yes!” Suga half-ran while I laughed at his back. When he returned from the drop-zone, he slouched his shoulders like a rejected puppy. We were only stuck here because we picked up lost loot from some robbers and didn’t immediately return the stolen ore to authorities and, okay, tried to mine more illegally. Luckily, the authorities gave us a break as first-time offenders, and we would be free in two more hours.
“Why didn’t you stop me back then?” Suga whined.
“When? Before the robbers had their accounts frozen, dropping the insane amount of star ores, or after you had $ANIMA signs in your eyes?”
“Worth it. Not every day that the picky Lala would drop her manicured nails in the dirt.” Suga laughed as I grabbed my excavated ore and threw dirt in his face.
“You’re lucky this isn’t reality, or I’d beat your ass in the middle of Shinjuku!” I dropped the ore while kicking at his behind.
Sirens blared. “Stay here,” the warden hissed. She dashed into the towering concrete building that made up Jail HQ. Since the jail was surrounded by lava on a remote island, I assumed it would have been a dark castle, but it was quite normal, with clean tiles and a lot of metal bars. I scooped the ore and put it in my hacked inventory when she left. Unknown to anyone else, Suga had hacked the system long ago. Nobody would find our stash.
Suga and I shared a look.
He gave a triple wink. His super hacker script had ‌run. Pretty soon, dark energy cut at our chained ankles, and the chains disintegrated. To add to the chaos, he released a few other prisoners too. “Gotta love the metaverse! Using tainted starburst to hack at metal chains feels like magic! C’mon!” He gave a cocky grin.
We ran toward the jail while most guards dealt with the crowds and snuck into the main outdoor area, which became a pit of brawls.
“All I did was troll some old dude. Let me out!” One of the burly guys cried out in a child’s voice.
“Be a good kid, then!” I laughed as we quickly put on modified sneakers from our inventory and increased our speed. If I had kept some of the item shards that randomly appeared while excavating, I could've crafted a few items already!
“This is exciting! Can you trace the escapee?” I elbowed Suga as we ran down the packed halls, dodging blows like pink ninjas. Ah, I wanted to write an article about this on my blog!
“Who do you think I am?” He snorted, and a moment later, I could see a red dot in the distance.
“Hurry! I’m missing the show!” I wanted to be back on-site before the chaos ended. Then we could go back to society in two hours without suspicion. What kind of hacker would return to jail? None.
“I know!” Suga grabbed my wrist, and we chased the dot.
“I can’t believe I’m stuck with these ruffians! I only told a lady that her avatar was ugly!” A woman screeched over the roars of the fighting prisoners.
“Whatever, Karen,” someone replied.
“Don’t you dare use that word on me—” I glanced in time to see a petite woman slap a man twice her size with all her strength. Since this was a game world, she even managed a roundhouse kick, and hell broke loose! Instead of a few brawls, the halls erupted into a frenzy. As if blood let loose on a pack of sharks, prisoners tore at each others’ throats.
I let out an evil laugh while Suga glanced at me with wide eyes. “Lala, I know you want to instigate the masses like you do by catching corrupted politicians in your blog, but we gotta hurry!”
“You’re riiiiight.” I licked my lips. “Night in Anime Meta Jail —what a story!”
“Just leave me out of it.” He waved his fingers at me. “Can’t have these beautiful wrists in real jail.”
“As long as you erase our trace, no one will know.” I licked my lips as the red dot got closer. I wanted to see which brave punk dared to challenge Anime Meta Jail.
We ran down the empty concrete halls until the red dot shone just around the corner. With a nod to Suga, I held out a leg just as the prisoner came around the corner.
A bald yakuza-looking guy in pink fell flat on his face. As he fell, a floating metal orb with a pair of holographic eyes rushed up! It looked like a tiny metal ball with a black screen holding electric green eyes, but suddenly compartments opened up, and several metallic arms popped out. Metal chains shot out of each arm and wrapped up the man’s entire body! To my horror, it looked right at me.
The bot spoke, its voice deep and flat.
[Prisoners 50280 and 29093, what are you doing here?]
Suga looked flustered, so I stepped forward with my hands held up in surrender. “We were mining when our chains suddenly came off! We got confused by the chaos and when we saw this guy running toward the exit, I stopped him!” I shook my foot. “Ow! My poor leg!” I teared up.
Suga also acted frail as he cradled his arms. “I’d never been in jail before! I don’t know how the chains got free, but there were soooo many guys who were released!”
We pleaded with the bot, looking like a pair of crybaby college kids.
[…Reporting to my supervisor…Affirmative. First-time offenders, because you didn’t leave the premises and helped apprehend the criminal, you may go. We need to find out who released prisoners from the mining area, so we may contact you if needed. If there is a next time, we won’t be so nice.]
“We’ll be very good.” I nodded my head furiously.
“I hope you catch that hacker!” added Suga.
It wasn’t long before we were back on the streets of civilization, where I dressed up in my favorite Kpop idol outfit while Suga dressed up as a knight. “You sure you won’t get caught?”
“Nah.” He jabbed a thumb at himself. “I’m the best! Jail was fun!”
“Yea, but let’s not go back. I excavated enough ore to last a month and couldn’t keep any — oh!” I suddenly recalled the ore I put in my inventory before.
I opened up my Player Screen and smiled. With a bit of $ANIMA, I could craft venarite. There were several types of star ores to choose from.
Suga clapped. “Congrats! We could make bank on ores, but I hack for fun — I don’t do real bad stuff. Mom would kill me! I caught a few loop holes though…AM should hire me as cybersecurity. I heard some guys at the coding club hang out at a café here. Wanna come?” He pointed at a maid's café.
I shook my head. “I want to try my luck at the Starcrane. After you talk with the coding club thing, I’ll meet you. Anyway, we can officially say we’ve been to jail! Nothing can stop us now!”
It turned out I celebrated too soon. We had just logged out of Anime Metaverse when we were greeted by a life-changing message.
“Crap. How did they find me?” Suga gulped.
An email was sent to Suga’s address.
[We studied your records and have decided not to report you. Seeing as you only did minor discrepancies, most of which helped people recover stolen items, we have decided to offer you an opportunity. Your talk at the coding club meet-up at the maid café this past afternoon has saved your avatar from the blacklist.
Would you like to help protect the metaverse?]
“Congrats on your new job!” I joked.
“Lala, please shut up.” Suga said.
Guess the adventure never ends.