Hello dear reader! Welcome back! I'm posting this a day early since I'm stuck on a plane and don't have much else to do and tomorrow is going to be a busy day at home anyways.
This story is a sort of continuation on the last one. So, if you haven't read the first story, please do before you continue reading this post.
Also, if you have any feedback, please post a comment. I, like most writers, like to hear how we're doing. Now, on with the story!
"Where are you off to, mister?" Anne asked as Frank put on his motorcycle jacket and picked up his helmet.
"I told you that I was going to my brother's house to watch the Twins' game," Frank replied.
Anne nodded and playfully said, "I know that, silly. I was just wondering why you were leaving without giving me a goodbye kiss."
Frank smiled and thought, 'I'm going to marry this woman in a couple of months.' Aloud, he said, "I wouldn't dream of doing that." He approached her and, dropping his helmet, grabbed her, leaned her back and kissed her.
After a moment or two, Frank righted his fiancée and the two of them separated. Anne faked fainting as both of them laughed.
"Frank, wake up," said a gruff voice.
Frank, startled, sat up. It appeared as though he was in his house and bed, but he knew better. He was still stuck inside of a supercomputer. He looked up at Hugo and said, "I was having a dream about the day I died."
Hugo sheepishly asked, "Not a bad one, I hope."
Frank sighed. He had gotten to know the scientist pretty well over the last week, but he wasn't prepared to share anything from his previous life with the man, yet. Frank stood up and stretched. "It doesn't matter. What are we doing today?"
Hugo said, "It amazes me how you've kept up a lot of the habits of being a human. You still sleep; you just stretched when you stood. Amazing."
Frank shrugged. "It just feels natural. I don't get tired, but I still feel the need to relax once in a while and sleeping is nice. I still have emotions, you know."
Hugo emphatically nodded. He said, "Of course, and I am pleased that you retained those. I had always theorized that this was possible."
Frank nodded and repeated, "So, what are we doing today?"
Hugo replied, "Oh, right. Sorry. I think that you're accustomed enough to your environment that we're going to take you out of your comfort zone. We're going to practice some computer defense."
Suddenly the two of them were standing inside the walls of a medieval castle. Frank was dressed in full armor with a sword in his hand. As he looked around, he said, "I know that everything in here is a metaphor for something going on in real life, but can you explain this to me?"
Hugo nodded. He pointed to the parapets and said, "Let's go up there." As they climbed a set of stairs, Hugo elaborated, "The castle is a metaphor for the computer. Its walls are a metaphor for the firewall."
They reached the top of the parapet and Frank could see half a dozen doors on the wall they were standing on. Worriedly, he said, "Why are there so many doors? Isn't that dangerous?"
Hugo smiled and nodded. "Yes, but as you can see, each one of those doors has traffic flowing in and out. Some of this is friendly traffic and some of it will be bad traffic. Since this is all very new to you, we will begin by making the unfriendly traffic quite obvious." As Hugo finished his sentence an army appeared at the top of the hill opposite the walls. "One more thing." Hugo turned and pointed to the tower in the center of the castle courtyard. The two of them could see a king pacing back and forth issuing orders to other people inside. "The king represents the kernel of the operating system that allows you to control the computer. If any of the bad guys take the king, you will lose control of the computer and they will likely delete you."
Frank let out a worried laugh. "No pressure," he sarcastically replied.
There was a mighty yell from the hill and the army began running towards the castle. "You better ready your defenses," Hugo said as he faded out.
Frank quickly glanced around and saw a group of soldiers standing around the courtyard. He yelled down, "You three, close the doors on this wall! You two, go round up the rest of the troops! The rest of you, man the walls! Protect the king!"
The men in the courtyard let out a battle cry and ran to do Frank's bidding. Frank turned around and the sword that was in his hand turned into a longbow. Shrugging to himself, he grabbed an arrow from the quiver leaning against the wall and let loose some arrows. As he was raining death upon his enemies, he noticed that several battering rams and many more soldiers were coming down the hill. Frantically, he turned back to the courtyard and noticed three catapults that hadn't been there before. Soldiers were running out of the barracks and up to the wall.
"Man the catapults! We have incoming battering rams!" Frank looked down at his bow and realized that he needed to lead, rather than try to fight himself. He glanced at the other walls in shock as he saw the doors were still wide open and enemies were starting to pour through. "The walls are breached! Close those doors and drive out the enemy!"
More soldiers poured from the barracks and went to the defense of the courtyard. Frank saw that they would never reach the doors to stop the flood of enemy troops pouring into the courtyard. Soon, the western side of the courtyard was controlled by the enemy. Frank kept yelling out orders, but nothing he said or did seemed to stop or slow the enemy down. He saw several enemy troops reach the tower and enter. Frank knew that the end was near. He watched in horror as the enemy troops entered the throne room and bound the king. The enemy troops looked out the window at Frank and began to laugh.
Frank closed his eyes, preparing to be deleted. A moment passed and he opened them again. He and Hugo were once again standing in his house. "Wh-what happened?" Frank asked.
"You were defeated. It was only a practice run put on by my team and me. We didn't want to overwhelm you too much on your first try."
"You didn't want to overwhelm me? The whole battle was overwhelming!"
Hugo laughed and replied, "Believe me that the battle you just saw is nothing like what the real thing will be like. We took it easy on you." He paused, and then continued, "I did notice, however, that you were starting to use your abilities to manipulate your environment. Even if it was subconsciously."
Frank paused to consider Hugo's words. "You mean like when the bow and catapults appeared?"
Hugo's smile grew. "Yes. Eventually, you will realize your potential. We'll try again tomorrow."