Good evening, dear readers. It's rather late tonight, but it's still Saturday! :)
Tonight's Story a Week brings us another story in the Frank Saga. It's a little longer, so bear with me. Enjoy!
Agent Meyers and Frank sat staring at each other for a moment. Finally, Meyers glanced about the diner. "What is all this?" he asked.
Frank smiled and looked around the diner too. "I've been playing around with creating more and more complex realities. None of the patrons speak, yet, but the waitresses each have a personality and can carry on short conversations." He paused smiling to himself as he took in the myriad of activity going on around them. "I thought that a public place would be a good, comfortable and non-threatening setting for us to meet. Would you prefer someplace else?"
Meyers shook his head. "No, this is fine. Is all of this is fake, then?"
Frank nodded and elaborated, "Yes, though if you tried any of the food, it would give you a good approximation of taste without actually giving you any sustenance. Would you like to order?" Frank started to call over a waitress.
Meyers quickly indicated that he wasn't interested and said, "No, thank you. We have things that we need to discuss." Frank smiled at the agent and motioned for him to continue. "As I'm guessing that you know, I'm a member of the Cyber Crimes division of the FBI. I know a lot about computers, networks, security, and so forth." Frank nodded and Meyers continued, "I'm also assuming that you are the one who tipped us off about Dr. Spartan."
"And your point is?" Frank asked.
"I'll be blunt, Frank. Did you release the virus that took temporary control of most of the Internet's nodes?"
Frank smiled. "I did."
Meyers sat back in his chair and stared hard at Frank. "Why are you so openly admitting all of this to me?"
Franks smile grew. "You'll never be able to prosecute me."
Now Meyers' was puzzled. "Why is that? You just confessed."
Frank chuckled and shook his head. "I'm dead. I'm not even a human anymore."
Meyers leaned forward menacingly and growled, "I'll have you deleted."
The smile disappeared from Frank's face. Outside, clouds began to gather and a lightning bolt lit up the dark sky. The sound of thunder soon followed. Meyers looked around when he noticed that the hum of people talking in the diner had stopped. The patrons and wait staff were all staring intently at him. Frank said, "I don't like to hear that kind of talk, Agent Meyers."
Meyers was not a man that was easily intimidated, but he was beginning to fear Frank. Who knew what Frank was capable of when he was attached to the reality? Meyers tried not to let his feelings show on his face when he said, "You can't scare me with these charades, Frank. I'll take your computer into our labs and you'll never see a friendly face again."
Frank and Meyers stared hard at each other for a few moments. Frank spoke first, "Maybe we can help each other, Agent Meyers. You're worried about what I could do to the Internet and I want to be free of control of Hugo and his bosses... You scratch my virtual back and I'll scratch yours."
Meyers leaned back. The surprise he felt was pretty obvious on his face. He said, "Tell me what your plan is."
A few moments later, Agent Meyers left the virtual reality booth. He walked straight up to Hugo and said, "We will be confiscating all of this equipment and bringing it back to our labs." He turned to his partner and said, "Will you oversee the removal of the equipment? We need to be very careful with it all."
It took a moment for the news to hit Hugo, but he finally burst out, "No! You can't do that! I don't know what will happen to Frank if you were to turn off that computer!"
Meyers rounded on Hugo and sternly replied, "Frank assures me that he will be fine. I don't want him damaged any more than you do. We intend to investigate this matter very carefully, Dr. Argnatius. Losing Frank would be equal to losing evidence, and we have no intention of doing that."
Hugo turned to the lawyer and said, "Aren't you going to do anything about this?"
Alan replied, "There's nothing I can do about it. It's within the scope of the warrant to confiscate any evidence relating to the attacks that occurred."
Hugo looked pleadingly at his boss. Alfred just shook his head. Hugo sat in a chair and put his head in his hands.
Agent Meyers watched Hugo's drama without expression. When Hugo sat, he turned to his partner and said, "Can you handle this?" When the man nodded, Meyers left the room. He walked down the hall directly to where Frank told him lunch room would be. The lab tech and beautiful woman he passed in the hall earlier were sitting inside. The both looked at him with worried expressions on their faces when he came and sat at the table with them. Meyers looked at the tech and said, "You should leave now."
The tech considered his options for a moment. Finally, he sighed, and mumbled to Anne, "Sorry." He got up and left.
Meyers turned to Anne and said, "I'm taking Frank into custody. He wanted me to tell you that everything will be okay and not to worry."
Anne laughed sardonically and said, "Why should I trust what you're saying? You're not on Frank's side."
"Ma'am, I'm on the side of the American people. If Frank is not against that, then I'm on his side. So far, he seems to want to cooperate with me, so we're on the same side."
Anne looked hard at Agent Meyers. She said, "What do you want with me?"
Meyers stood up and said, "Nothing. You should go home. We'll be in touch soon."
Anne rolled her eyes at him. Without another word he left.
A few days later, Anne was at home when she got a telephone call. The caller ID said the number was unavailable. Anne almost didn't answer, but something told her that the call was important. She picked up the phone and answered it. "Hello?"
"It's me," said Frank's voice.
Anne got excited and worried at the same time, "Are you okay, Frank?"
Frank replied, "I'm great, honey. I've worked out a deal with the FBI. I need you to come down to their office in Minneapolis and I'll explain it all."
Anne said, "I'll hurry on over."
Anne ran out to the car and started driving. She was so apprehensive and excited that it took her ten minutes to realize that she had forgotten to buckle her seat belt. She reached over and grabbed the belt when she saw something out of the corner of her eyes. She looked up to see a car running a red light. She slammed on her brakes and closed her eyes.
When she opened them she was lying on her back and she saw Frank smiling above her. Confused, she asked, "How did I get here?"
Frank's smile disappeared. He stood up and turned away from Anne. She took a moment to look at her surroundings. They were in their house together and she was lying in the bed they had shared before his accident. She sat up and repeated, "How did I get here?"
Frank turned back to her and Anne was surprised to see tears in his eyes. "Anne..."
She stood up and walked to him. When he wouldn't meet her gaze, she softly asked, "What is it?"
Frank started sobbing. He managed to say, "Anne...we're the same now..."
Frank's statement confused Anne for a moment, but then she understood. "I died, didn't I? That car that ran the light..."
Frank, still sobbing, only nodded. "Why are you so sad, Frank?" she asked. "If we're the same now, we can be together always and forever."
Frank stopped sobbing and looked into Anne's eyes. "Why...you're right. I hadn't thought of that. I was grieving for your death, but I still have you."
Anne and Frank smiled at each other. Frank hugged her hard and she said, "How did you get Hugo to do this for you? The last thing I knew, the FBI had taken you into custody, if you can call it that."
"Well, it was part of a three part deal where I do work for the FBI and Hugo gets to continue his research," Frank replied.
"So, are we in Hugo's lab?"
Frank shook his head. "No, the FBI has upgraded our hardware and we're being stored in some very secure government building. I've been doing analysis of data for them and I will defend their networks if they ever come under attack. That's our deal for getting us out of Cray. Other than that, they will leave us alone."
Anne led Frank back to the bed. "It's good to be alone," she said.