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Episode 4: Porting the Code

Zack as much as ignored his classes for the rest of Friday. Well, he did take note of Ms. Pinches' light blue blouse and her navy skirt. More to the point, he took note of what they were hiding. He spent some time in her class fantasizing about her again, until it finally occurred to him that, if his ITV plan worked, he just might be able to get her, after all. That made him work all that much harder.

By the time lunch rolled around, Zack had the makings of a few plans. He would have to read up on how the ITV system worked, but he didn't expect that to be much of a problem. Even the brief glimpse he'd gotten of the equipment showed him standard coaxial and computer ports to plug into the system. He figured the manual was an inch thick because they had to write it in what he liked to call moronese: language so simple that even a moron can understand it.

The toughs were still harassing him, but Zack was on a high this day, and barely noticed it. They took note of that fact, and tried to increase their torment, but they had to break off before it got really bad, as he reached the cafeteria. He found Claudia sitting at his table, but, to his surprise, Stephanie was there as well, in her usual spot. There was just enough space between them for him to sit down comfortably. He gave each of them a brief kiss after he was settled, and this time, he ignored the looks that he might have gotten. To hell with them, he thought.

Just as lunch was wrapping up, Zack went over to talk to Mr. DeVain. He caught the tail end of a conversation he was having with Ms. Pinches, and he enjoyed watching her walk off before returning his attention to the principal.

"Sir, I was wondering if I could have access to the media lab this afternoon during my computer programming hour."

"Hmm. What do you need it for?"

"Well, sir, I'd like to make a video copy of my multi-media project. I've spent a lot of time on it, and I'd like my family to be able to see it, but some of them don't have computers. Also, if I have time, I'd like to look over the ITV system we talked about this morning, so that I will have a better basis for understanding the manual this weekend." This last bit was pure bullshit: Zack didn't need to look over anything to understand the system. It was this last bit, however, that convinced Mr. DeVain to let him into the lab.

"Okay. I suppose you're going to be in there a lot from now on, if you're going to be responsible for helping us run the ITV system. This is going to mean a lot more responsibility for you in the future. Do you think you can handle it?" Mr. DeVain knew he could, otherwise he'd have never asked. He was conscious of his students' work load, and he never pressed them to do more than they could handle.

"Sure. I don't think it's going to be that big a deal, once we get it all set up, sir."

"Okay. Which class period is your computer programming class?"

"Seventh hour, sir."

"All right. I'll talk to Mr. Parks, and I'll meet you at the lab then."

"Thank you, sir." Zack walked off feeling great. He had several ideas swimming in his head. Now, he just had to make them work.

-----

Sitting in the media lab, alone, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of dollars of audio-visual equipment, Zack felt a little like a kid in a candy store. That they had let him in here was one thing. To have left him alone in here was something the other side of miraculous. He knew the faculty trusted him, but he didn't think they'd trust anyone this far.

Setting those giddy feelings aside, Zack set up the equipment to convert his program to videotape. He had to pick a subject, and he just didn't feel like doing it on himself this time. So, he decided that it was time to take further control of his parents. Sure, they ignored his sexual activities now, but otherwise they still hounded him about keeping his room clean, and other parental stuff like that. He figured it was time he set a few of his own rules. So, he wrote up a solid command script that would basically put him in charge of the house. He set it all up, began the recorder, and booted the program. Of course, it didn't take long to run, just the usual four minutes, but Zack ran it twice, just to be sure it was on the tape properly. Once he'd finished that, he turned off the equipment, and stowed the tape in his bag. He did actually spend a couple of minutes looking over the ITV boxes, just in case Mr. DeVain asked him about something on them, but, as he had suspected, most of it was straightforward. Well, straightforward to a computer genius; totally incomprehensible to anyone of the human race.

-----

Claudia drove him home from school, and they spent some time necking in her car before he got out. Before she drove off, she asked him, "Is it okay if I come see you tomorrow?"

"It's always okay if you come see me, Claudia."

She blushed and started the car. As she started to drive off, she called, "Love you!"

Zack just waved, and walked inside, wondering, Why does she keep saying that? It wasn't part of her programming, he knew, as he had checked that thoroughly. It never occurred to him that she might, actually, love him.

-----

Zack had expected to have to wait until Sunday to try out his video on his parents, as they had a specific set of shows they watched on Friday nights, and tended to be gone most Saturdays. This week, however, their normal programming had been interrupted for some "damned stupid movie", as his father put it. Zack seized on the opportunity, and asked them if they'd like to see another little project he'd been working on, that he'd converted to video. Having nothing at all better to do, his parents said yes.

Zack rushed back from his room with the video tape, and slid it into the machine. He told them it would run about 4 or 5 minutes, and his father hit play. Zack kept his eyes glued to his parents, making sure the expression on his face was one of eager expectation. That wasn't too hard, as that was more or less what he felt at the time.

But he was disappointed. They did not slip into the trance. After the tape had run through, his father hit the stop button, and then rewound the tape. His next words, though not really pertinent, were also somewhat stinging.

"Son, this really isn't a very good effect. I hope this isn't your class project."

Zack swallowed hard. He hadn't really cared what the effects looked like, but he should have considered that angle before showing it to his father. "No, it's not," he answered finally.

"Good. The idea behind this is okay, but it's still very amateurish. I know you've been talking about wanting to go into video special-effects, and post-production work on films, but this sort of thing isn't going to get you in. On the other hand," his father added encouragingly, "It would wow the socks off the boys at my company." His father had been trying to talk him into joining up with Martina Office Technologies, the local computer company. They specialized mainly in custom office software, but also did networking and computer assembly work for the local businesses. It was not very challenging work. Zack's father did well at the company, for he was not a man who really desired a challenge.

Zack, however, required continual challenges. "Sorry, Dad, it's just not going to happen. Thanks for the comments on the effect, though... can I show you this again, when I make it better?"

"Of course, Zack. We're always glad to help with your projects," his father answered.

Zack mumbled a thanks, and trudged to his room. Well, I don't know why I expected it to work at first, anyhow. Nothing else has. He tossed the tape on his desk, and laid down for a while. He felt very sleepy, and his eyes closed of their own accord...

-----

...Zack awoke surrounded by his maidens, and was shocked by the realization that he had entered this dream world without the help of the program. He also noticed that the Claudia maiden, while still present, was not the one who approached him this time. This one looked far more like his English teacher.

<<We are glad you have returned.>>

Why are you speaking to me now?

<<We are your dreams. If you fulfill a dream, it remains, but is not as powerful anymore.>>

Oh. How come I entered this state without the program?

<<You never needed the program to come to us. We have always been here. You needed the program to help you relax far enough to reach us. Now that you are familiar with the way, you can return here at any time.>>

Cool. Well, you know my problems. Am I missing anything?

<<Of course you are. But we cannot help with all of them. We can only make suggestions now, for your knowledge is what is incomplete, and not your understanding.>>

Tell me what I need to learn.

<<This, we can do.>>

And for the next half-hour, the Pinches-maiden explained to him what information he needed to gather in order to proceed further with his projects. A lot of it was common sense items, but Zack also realized that it was information he didn't have. When he awoke, he was fully refreshed, and he was ready to begin learning what he did not yet know. He turned on his computer, and began searching the Net.

∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼

Zack growled at his computer several hours later, frustrated that some of the most basic psychological research had not been available on the Internet. Well, it seemed basic to him, but it may not have been. Zack decided it was time to get in touch with some of his other friends, and see if they might know where to retrieve such information. He opened up his email program, and sent off notes to several dozen friends around the world, with a list of questions he wanted to answer. He told them it was for a school project. They didn't need to know any different.

He headed down to the kitchen to get something to eat. It was only five in the morning, but he'd gotten all the sleep he needed this day. He put together a bowl of cereal, some toast and a peach, and headed back to his room. He looked over his notes as he ate his breakfast, making yet more notes in the margins of his original notes, marking ideas and jotting down the new questions that he needed the answers to.

Zack had several possible answers for why the videotaped program hadn't worked. The problem was that he'd have to try them all until he found out exactly which one it was. He made his list, and looked it over, deciding on the easiest fix first. He had discovered that a television screen was interlaced; that is, only every other line was refreshed by each pass of the electron gun. This caused a normally unnoticeable "jitter" effect in the screen. However, it was possible that this jitter effect was messing up the signal.

He spent the rest of the morning rewriting a graphic routine that would both look more presentable to his father, just in case the program didn't work again, and would also use only the even-numbered lines on the screen. When translated to videotape, it would mean that every other line would be blank, and thus the refresh wouldn't jitter his image. It would, however, degrade the quality of the picture. To compensate for this, Zack lengthened the run-time of the program, so that it would display the effect for seven minutes. He hoped this would be long enough.

Of course, he couldn't test it out until he made a video copy of it. And he couldn't make a video copy until he got back to school on Monday. Thinking about school did remind him, however, that he had to look at the ITV manual. He went into the kitchen and made himself a sandwich, sitting down at the kitchen table to look over the manual. He was surprised to find that most of the manual was, in fact, written in technical language. Only the first two chapters were written in moronese. They said, basically, that you needed a technician to run the system. The manual suggested calling the company to have one come out and train a school employee on the ins and outs of the ITV equipment. Nice little scam: buy our system, and then you have to hire us to teach you how to use it. Well, not this school, buddy!

Zack's mother came in just then, and asked him what he was reading.

"Oh, nothing much. The school just got this new video-conferencing system, and no one there knows how to use it. They asked if I could look over the manual and figure it out for them."

"Wow! They must think quite a lot of you up at the school. You should be proud of yourself."

"Thanks, Mom. The system looks pretty easy to run, for just the basic stuff. If they want to get into the more powerful functions, though, they're going to need someone like me to help them with it."

His mother chuckled. "Maybe you should work for that company, dear."

Zack laughed. "No challenge in it, Mom." Having finished his lunch, he went back to his room, flopping onto the bed and continuing to read about the powerful connectivity features of the ITV system, and how it could display video, computer output, audio, camera feeds, or a host of other signals, across a wide area of connected video systems.

Zack's eyes gleamed at the thought. If I can successfully port this program to TV, and then I can figure out how to control a mass audience at once... the possibilities are endless! He laid back and just thought about all the things he could pull off.

-----

He must have dozed off, because the hand on his shoulder startled him. He opened his eyes to see Claudia sitting on the bed next to him. She leaned down and kissed him softly on the lips. Zack was interested in more, but she broke the kiss.

"How are you doing, Zack? Does it still hurt much?" She'd asked him this question every day since he'd been attacked. He was growing weary of it.

"I'm fine, Claudia. Now, would you stop pestering me about it?" He hadn't really meant to be so harsh with her, but it took him a while to wake up, and he wasn't really focused yet.

He paid attention to her reaction, however. Her eyes misted over immediately, and she pulled away from him slightly. She began to tremble, as if holding back the sobs that would soon be coming. Zack panicked. He had never seen a girl cry in front of him. He had certainly never caused one to cry, and he had no idea what to do. Think, shithead! Think! What do I do now? His brain kicked into high gear, running through all the advice he'd ever heard, every movie he'd ever seen, and then all of the possible choices he had. He decided on the simplest of them.

Zack wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her to him. Her head was cradled against his chest as he sat back against the head board of his bed. He shushed her softly, and rocked gently back and forth, to calm her. Finally, he said, "I'm sorry, Claudia, I didn't mean to be so nasty. I just wake up cranky sometimes."

After a few seconds, she pulled away to look at him. Her eyes were still red with the tears she had shed. She wiped them away with the back of her hand, and said, "I don't mean to be a pest, Zack. I worry about you. You were hurt, and I don't want to lose you over some bullies, and..." She couldn't finish her sentence as the tears welled in her eyes once more and her voice caught in her throat. Zack gently cupped the side of her face in his hand, rubbing softly along her cheek.

"It's okay, Claudia. I understand. I do appreciate that you care about me."

She laid herself against him once more, her head now resting against his shoulder. "I love you, Zack," she said quietly.

"I love you, too, Claudia," he said automatically. Whoa! STOP! What did we just say?

But it was much too late to take it back. Claudia's arms wrapped tightly around his chest, and she embraced him strongly, but remained silent. They stayed like that for a while, Zack trying to figure out why he'd just told her he loved her, and she just enjoying the fact that he had.

-----

The two of them were disturbed by a knocking at the front door. Zack immediately realized that it would be Stephanie, as it had been three days since her last "treatment" of the program. He still didn't know what to do to put her under its full control. The answers from his friends weren't back yet.

Stephanie came into Zack's room, and stiffened at the sight of Claudia lying in his arms. Zack made no effort to move from the bed. "Hey, Steph," he greeted her.

"Hello, Zack. Hi, Claudia. Perhaps you two would like to be alone?"

"Nah, that's okay. Just sit down at the desk and double-click the icon. You know how it works."

"Yes, Zack." Claudia watched her friend sit down at the desk, but Zack pulled her face toward him as the program started. He kissed her warmly, and she immediately responded. Their tongues danced as her hands began to roam his body. She was pulling at his shirt, doing her best to be gentle, as she knew that he must still be bruised.

Zack fondled her breasts through her shirt before he pulled it up and off of her. She was not wearing a bra today, and Zack enjoyed the sight of her lovely tits in front of him. They stood proudly away from her chest, and he couldn't resist leaning over and taking a nipple into his mouth, sucking on it lightly. Claudia gasped as her nipple shot tingles throughout the rest of her body.

By the time Zack came up for air, he saw that Stephanie's training was complete, and she was staring at him with horror in her face. She still could not meet his eyes, but the abhorrence in her expression was clear. Zack was feeling in a mischievous mood, and he thought to punish Stephanie a little further this evening.

He leaned in and whispered in Claudia's ear, "Shall we give Steph a show?" Claudia just nodded, with a fiendish look on her face. Zack covered her mouth with his, and their tongues mingled for a moment.

He broke the kiss and looked over at Stephanie. He said, "You will assume the position, and you will watch every move we make. You will not close your eyes or look away. You will remember everything you see tonight."

As Stephanie assumed her slave position on the floor, Zack returned his attention to Claudia. He let his hands roam over her soft skin, feeling the silkiness beneath his fingers as they ran over her back. He returned his mouth to her tit, and flicked his tongue across her nipple. She moaned lowly with the delight of it. It occurred to Zack that his bedroom door was wide open, but he knew his parents had been leaving as they let Stephanie in, so he didn't worry about it.

Zack's hands slipped down to feel Claudia's ass through her jeans. He massaged her cheeks for a while, but it was not satisfying, so he moved to undo her pants. She had finally gotten his shirt off of him, and then she helped him pull her pants, and her panties, off of her. She yanked her shoes and socks off with the pants, and now she was completely naked. She laid herself against him, and kissed at his chest softly. She could see the bruises, faded as they were, and she marveled that he would go through that kind of punishment for her. She made her way down to his belt, and slowly worked it open, and then repeated the process with his jeans.

Zack lifted his hips to help her as she gently pulled his pants and briefs past his hips. She was pulling them off slowly, revealing his cock inch by inch until its full length was in her sight. She didn't even bother pulling his pants past his knees as her mouth almost instinctively went toward his cockhead.

Zack hissed as he felt her warm lips surround the head of his dick. Claudia was working her magic on him, and his cock was straining to its full hardness. He took a moment, as Claudia began to pull the length of his shaft into her mouth, to look over at Stephanie. She was watching dutifully, but he could see that her eyes actually had tears in them. That made him even hotter, and he didn't know why. He decided he wanted a show with his blow.

"Steph," he said in a gasp as Claudia's lips worked along his prick, "Undress, and play with yourself. You may not come until Claudia does." Claudia looked up at him, and her eyes sparkled in the understanding of what he wanted from her.

Stephanie quickly stripped out of her clothing, and resumed her pose on the floor. This time, however, one hand quickly shot between her legs to rub at her pussy lips, while the other mauled her breasts, moving rapidly from one to the other and back, rolling the nipples beneath her palm, as she moaned in her pleasure. She would have liked to have closed her eyes, but her instructions forbade her that option. She was forced to watch as Claudia continued to suck Zack's cock.

Zack couldn't take much more from Claudia, and he placed his hand on the back of her head to tell her so. She increased her pace, moving her mouth quickly along his pole, her hand stroking his shaft as well. Zack grunted just before he blew his entire load into her mouth. Claudia took every last drop of it down her throat, not missing any of it. She sucked him dry, and then sucked him until he was fully hard again. She needed him inside of her, now.

Claudia pulled off of his cock, and moved up to kiss him full on the mouth, her tongue sliding into his mouth, letting him taste his own cum. She wiggled her ass, knowing that Stephanie would see it. When she broke their kiss, she leaned over to whisper in Zack's ear.

"Let me do the work, Zack," she whispered. "You need to save your energy. Let me do this for you." Zack merely nodded his assent, and Claudia straddled his waist. She leaned over, to give Stephanie a better view of her cunt, and then took hold of Zack's dick. She gripped it gently, and placed it at her opening, sliding it across her lips to give it more lubrication. Then she slipped herself onto his pole, slowly, rocking herself on and off of him, pushing herself down a little further each time. Zack was in heaven, and Claudia was enjoying the wonderful fullness he gave her.

Stephanie, however, was in torment. Her hands were moving furiously across her body, her fingers slamming feverishly into her pussy, but she could not come. Her master had told her not to come until Claudia did. And how could her friend, that beautiful specimen of femininity, allow herself to be used by him? It just wasn't right. But she watched as they began to couple, Claudia rocking back and forth on his dick, that obscene symbol of men.

Claudia continued to rock on Zack's prick, letting it flow in and out of her in a smooth rhythm. She could control her own pace this way, and thus she could prevent herself from coming until she was ready. She had picked up on Zack's intentions with Stephanie, and she was more than willing to help him carry them out. She wasn't fully aware that Stephanie wanted her sexually, but Claudia could hear the occasional moans and whimpers from where Stephanie sat, watching her fuck her boyfriend. She wanted to see Stephanie's reaction.

Claudia sat up, and slowly turned herself around, remaining fully impaled on Zack's cock the entire time. She was now facing Stephanie, and saw her hands working frenetically on her private parts. Claudia began to put on a fuck show for Stephanie, massaging her own tits and cupping them, as if to offer them to Stephanie. She circled her hips, gyrating on Zack's cock, allowing it to slip out only slightly from her pussy before she slammed herself back down onto him. She kept this up, watching Stephanie's eyes go wide in amazement.

She's actually taunting me! Stephanie thought in wonder. She enjoys fucking him! And she's throwing it right in my face! The bitch! Zack's program really didn't say much about how she should react to others, and so Stephanie's instincts took over. However, Stephanie couldn't change the fact that she was highly attracted to Claudia, and longed to suck those tits, and that pussy which was presently so filled with cock.

Claudia could see that Stephanie had had enough, and, truth be told, she really needed to come herself. She leaned forward, changing the angle of Zack's dick in her pussy. Her eyes locked onto Stephanie's as she rammed herself down on his dick, over and over, faster and faster. She started to moan with the pleasure of it. She saw Stephanie's eyes lower to watch Claudia's swinging tits, and she saw Stephanie's hands move even faster against her clit and pussy. Claudia reached her hand up, cupping one of her own tits and bringing it to her mouth. Claudia's tongue flicked out, brushing against her nipple. The sensation it shot through her sent her over the edge. Her body convulsed with her orgasm, and she cried out, flailing on top of Zack. Stephanie's body immediately reacted, engaging in her own mind-numbing climax.

Zack had been controlling himself as best he could up until Claudia's orgasm caused her to ripple her cunt muscles along his cock. He could stand no more, and he blew his wad deep into her pussy. That sent Claudia even higher, and she rocked even more on his dick, sending wave after wave of ecstasy through him. He grunted and groaned from the pleasure.

Claudia, meanwhile, was well beyond her limits, and soon she blacked out from the extreme pleasure of the occasion. The wonderful sexual encounter with her boyfriend, coupled with the sheer naughtiness of flaunting it in front of her best friend had been too much for her.

Stephanie had collapsed from the exhaustion of the afternoon. She lay motionless on the floor, but Zack could see her breathing, so he wasn't worried. He pulled himself out of Claudia, and gently laid her on the bed, wincing at the soreness of his body as he moved. He knelt down beside Stephanie, and helped her to sit up as she awoke from her blackout. He smiled down at her, and, while she avoided his eyes, he could see the satisfaction of being well-sated on her face. He leaned down and kissed her tenderly, and she responded in a sincere, if tired, manner.

"Would you like to shower before you go home, Steph?"

"Yes, Zack."

"Okay, go ahead. Claudia's going to be out for a little while, anyway."

"Thank you, Zack."

"Don't mention it."

-----

After Stephanie left, Zack lay down next to Claudia, and took a nap. He awoke to feel her beside him, snuggled up to him and content. He ran his fingers through her hair, and they just lay there quietly for some time.

They fooled around twice more that day, before Claudia washed up and went home. She kissed him warmly at the door, and once again professed her love for him. He responded in kind, but wondered if it wasn't just the 'expected' thing to do, rather than any real emotion on his part. He made himself some dinner, and sat down to watch some TV for the rest of the night.

∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼

Zack felt lazy Sunday morning, and he didn't even get out of bed until after ten. He made himself a small breakfast, since lunch was only a couple hours off, and then turned on his computer. He logged on to the network, and was astounded to have to wait five minutes for email messages - with attachments - to download. Apparently, his net friends had heard his plea for help, and had sent him reams of information to answer his questions. It's going to take me days to get through all of this! he thought in an almost-panic. However, once the information had downloaded, he started to look through it, and realized several things. First, that many of his friends had sent him the same group of articles, so he could delete over half of the downloads right there. Also, much of the information was in the form of graphics and tables, which were more easily digested than straight text.

Zack spent only a little while looking it over before he decided that he needed a large block of uninterrupted time to view the material. Knowing his mother would be nagging him about lunch soon, he decided to surf for more information. He went to some technical sites, to see what he could find out about televisions and their interlacing system, but all he found was the information he already had. He finally decided he was simply going to have to try it to see if it worked. It was at that point that his mother, as expected, interrupted him for lunch. It was something she did every few weeks; she would put together a collection of foods for the family, and they would all have lunch together. Since they were not prone to having serious talks at dinnertime, this was considered a chance for them to sit and chat about what was happening in their lives.

His father spent an endless amount of time discussing work at the office, how he had to have a project done in a couple of weeks, and he was wondering if his team would have it finished on time. Zack sat through all of this, answering politely to all of the questions directed his way. He was caught off-guard when the questions took a different turn.

"So," his father began, "You and Claudia seem to be getting awful friendly. Anything going on that you'd like to tell us about, son?"

Now, Zack knew that his father was trying to carefully lead into a talk about the birds and the bees, but he was not interested in his father's somewhat analytical talk about sex. "Not really, Dad," he answered. "We're just good friends. We hang out at school, we help each other with school work. Heck, we haven't even been out on a date." All of our dates happen in my bedroom, he thought with a smile.

"Okay, son. Just remember to take responsibility for your actions."

"I will, Dad. When the time comes." He also knew what that comment was about, and it jarred him enough that he knew he should talk to Claudia about it.

The rest of lunch was just as boring as the first part, and Zack excused himself as early as manners would allow. He went back to his room and closed the door, logging onto his computer, and opening up the first of the psychology files his friends had sent him. The first one was from his old friend, Valkyrie359. It was massive.

-----

Four hours later, he also knew it was the only one he needed. All of the pertinent information was in this file. He saw plenty of ways to change the program, new modifications that were possible. But he wasn't sure how to implement them in real life. Sure, he now knew that there were other possibilities with a program that could read directly into the brain, but he wasn't sure just exactly how to enact them. The more immediately useful info dealt with Stephanie's hostility toward him, and how that manifested itself. He was pretty sure he knew how to change the matrix to overcome her anger.

And this was a new thought for him. He was now tampering with the matrix on a large scale. Before, he had made only minor adjustments to it, in order to get what he wanted out of it. The change he thought he had to make for this involved a solid twenty percent of the matrix code, and he worried that he might screw it up.

Well, if this is what it takes... but what if I mess up her brain or something? I mean, do I really want that on my conscience? Zack debated for some time before deciding that there really was no way for him to know if his changes would cause a problem, except to try them. He hated that he had to try them on another person, but he was in no way ready to try them on himself. If someone's brain has to get scrambled, it ain't gonna be mine.

After outlining the changes that needed to be made, he sat down with the matrix code. This was the most complex part of the program, and he took his time working with it, having made a backup of the original before he began. He was two hours in when his mother interrupted him for dinner, and he had to keep himself from snapping at her over it.

After dinner, he spent another five hours rewriting the matrix. Finally, having finished it, he saved it to a special section where he was now keeping everything that had to do with Stephanie's version of the program.

Then he booted it up. He carefully kept his eyes away from the screen, and, after making sure that the sound was actually playing, he turned his speakers completely off. He had to run the program just to make sure it actually worked, but he didn't want to fry his own brain from a typo.

-----

The man was roused from his sleep. This made him very unhappy. The knocking on his door, however, was persistent.

"Come!" he screamed. And die! his thoughts continued. His reaction changed when he saw the shadow of William enter the room, in a somewhat frantic state.

"Sir... we have... news," he huffed, trying to catch his breath. He had obviously run all the way from the facility, which was a good five hundred yards off.

"Okay, okay. Calm down. Take a seat." His mood had changed considerably. He knew that William would not have awakened him unless the news was extremely important.

William took several deep breaths before he began his report. "Sir, as you know, we had two notifications from the same ISP, in the clear, just a few days ago. Well, sir, we just received another notification, this one scrambled like the originals."

The man's mood turned a little darker. "You woke me for that?"

William hurried on. "Sir, that's not the important part. As you also know, the info we get back from the program tells us how much it has changed from the original code. Sir... this programmer... whoever he is... he's just modified a total of 36% of the original code. Sir, our last reading from the scrambled address was only at 12%. That means he's just altered the program by a full quarter of its code. All at once."

The man's eyes would have been glowing, if William could see them. He bowed his head for a moment, and then he said to William, "And now what do the boys in research think?"

"Sir," William said, the trepidation clear in his voice, "The only reason for making such a large modification at once, is if you know exactly what you're doing it for. The only way you could know that is if you'd already gotten the program up and running... and working, sir. Sir, it would appear you were correct. This programmer shows every sign of having a fully functional program."

The man bowed his head again and whispered, "Well, son of a bitch." Raising his head back up, he asked, "Do we know anything more about him?"

William paused before he said, "Not directly, sir, no. But we do have a name and address on the in-the-clear notices. They're in the same house, sir. The family name is Selman. They live in Martina, Oklahoma."

Martina. That's not all that far from where I grew up. "Understood. Is there any evidence of a hacker in the family?"

"Well, sir, there is a boy in the family, Brian, who is taking an advanced computer programming course in high school, and doing well in it. I'm not sure if this is our person or not, sir."

"I highly doubt it, but it's a good place to start. Go get some sleep. Keep your eyes open for more information. See if we can track down some friends of this Brian over the net. See who he hangs with."

"Yes, sir."

The door closed, and the man lay back on his bed. His eyes closed, but sleep would not come. So, the program is working. The goddamned program is working! But what is the kid doing with it?

∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼

Monday morning, Zack was actually waiting at the curb when Claudia showed up to drive him to school. She pouted slightly at the somewhat perfunctory kiss he gave her, but she saw that he was in one of his dazes, and so she put it out of her mind. There was no conversation on the way to school. Not that they had much to say to each other that they hadn't said on Saturday.

Zack snapped out of his state enough to give her a proper kiss when they got to school, in full view of the "Senior Four", as Zack had begun to think of them. Some of the research Zack had done over the weekend had been about self-defense techniques. He considered that a martial art might be a good thing for him to learn, if he were going to have to face guys like that very often. He didn't have much time to consider it now, as he needed to talk to Mr. DeVain before Algebra class. Claudia shooed away the seniors, which embarrassed Zack to no end, but he put up with it for the moment, hustling into the school to see the principal.

He waited for Mr. DeVain in the school office for five minutes before he showed up.

"Oh, hey, Zack! Good to see you this morning. Did you need to talk to me about something?"

"Well, sir, I just thought you'd like to know what you can do with those little boxes in the media lab."

The principal's eyes lit up. "You had a chance to look over the manual? Great! Let's go down and have a look, and you can tell me what we can do with it all."

For the next ten minutes, well past the first bell, Zack outlined the basic features of the ITV system. He also made mention of its more advanced features, but didn't go into detail about them.

"Some of those other things you mentioned sound like they would be useful. Did the manual not describe how to do them?"

"Oh, yes, sir. But..." Zack hesitated.

"But what?"

"Well, it's kind of technical, sir, and... if you don't know what you're doing, well, it could take you forever to get it right."

"Oh." Mr. DeVain chuckled. "Well, you know that most of us know nothing about this thing. Perhaps you'd be willing to be in charge of this equipment for us? Set it up for class use, and show the teachers how to do the basic stuff?"

"Sure, Mr. DeVain, but that's going to eat into my class time."

"Well, I was talking to Mr. Parks last Friday. He tells me that you're pretty much finished with his class already, that you're spinning your wheels in there."

"Pretty much. The next few weeks are for finishing up the class project, but mine has been done for a while. I'm just sort of killing time until the final."

"Hmm. Well, we agreed that, instead of you bothering with a final that we all know you can pass, we want you to spend your seventh hour in here, working with the ITV system, and setting it up in different classes. We won't move it more than once or twice a day, but if it interferes with your other classes, we'll make arrangements."

Zack smiled. He wondered why this was going so well for him. He also wondered why the principal was actually letting him have a free period to play with the equipment. "Well, that sounds great to me, sir. Is there another school that I'll be able to connect with at that time, to see if we can get all the machinery working and 'in synch'?"

"Yes. Actually, each school has put either a student or a staff person in charge of their equipment, and made sure that those people will be available during the seventh hour, to allow for you to have a chance to learn the process. This will probably only last until the end of this school year, so make the best of it."

"Oh. Yes, sir. I will."

"Good for you. Oh, boy, it's well into your first class. Let me write you a note, and then you can go."

-----

He whistled a tune all the way down the hall and into Mr. Farley's classroom. He handed the note to the rather gruff math teacher, who just grunted. Zack sat down in his chair, and promptly ignored the rest of the world as he began to work over his plan in his head. He breezed through all of his classes that way. He barely noticed anything. Even the tight, dark red skirt and white blouse that Ms. Pinches was wearing did not grab Zack's attention this day. He was in a world of numbers and ideas.

Until it was time for lunch.

That was when the harassment from the seniors returned full force. They had apparently realized that their low-grade hazing wasn't working. Now they really started to shove him around. He was bouncing off lockers and walls, nearly stumbling to the ground more than once. Repeatedly they taunted him, saying "Think it's all worth it, Griffin?" or "You can make this stop, Zack." He tolerated it as best he could. His luck would hold out even further this day.

They rounded a corner to find Principal DeVain staring squarely at them. The boys immediately began to disengage, but he was having none of it. "Freeze!" he barked. And freeze they did. You could have sworn they had turned to stone. Mr. DeVain was not a man to be messed with when he was angry.

He turned to Zack. "How long has this kind of treatment been going on?"

Zack just looked at the boys, and then back at the principal. He swallowed, but knew that lying to Mr. DeVain was not an option. "Since the fight last Monday, sir."

"Is that so." It wasn't a question. Mr. DeVain turned and faced the boys. "A week's worth of harassment, I think, deserves a week's worth of punishment. I'm not going to suspend you boys. That would be like a reward to you, it seems. So, instead, I'm sending you to the school bus barn. You will wash and clean every bus, every day, for the next week. And if the superintendent of buses doesn't like the job you've done, you're going to do it again. I don't care if you have to stay there until nine at night. This behavior will stop, gentlemen. We do not assault people in my school. Zack, go on to lunch."

"Yes, sir." Zack hurried on, ignoring Mr. DeVain's continued tirade to the four seniors.

-----

He was happy to find his table, with both Claudia and Stephanie waiting for him. He gave each of them a kiss, and then attacked his lunch. He swallowed hard when Mr. DeVain entered the cafeteria, but relaxed when he saw that the principal was alone. Mr. DeVain did head over to Zack's table, though.

"Zack, you should have come to me and told me about this."

"Sir, I was already getting beat up. I didn't really think becoming a snitch would improve my chances at health."

"Okay, I see your point. Still, you could have done it quietly. It's not right that I had to find out about it from somebody else." He kept his eyes locked on Zack's so as not to betray the location of the tattler. Zack thought he knew who it was, anyway.

"Yes, sir."

"Well, we'll keep it under control from now on. Also, here's a list of names and phone numbers of people you can contact at the other schools, to work on the system. They'll all be available during seventh period."

"Thank you, sir. And thank you for helping with the other thing, too."

"That's my job, Zack." Mr. DeVain walked away without another word.

-----

Claudia swore up and down that she had not spoken to Mr. DeVain about the problem, but Zack wasn't sure whether to believe her or not. She was the logical person to have sought out help.

It was the start of seventh hour, and Zack was sitting in the media lab, surrounded by all the gizmos and gadgetry the school could afford. He stared for a moment at the ITV system. It was now officially his project. He was responsible for its use and maintenance. Well, as far as the school would let him, anyway.

He began sorting through the jumbled wires and stacked up boxes, setting things on a rolling rack, and laying the wiring aside. He took a few minutes to examine the equipment, making sure that there had been no changes between the manual and the real thing. Seeing that everything was, in fact, the same, he began connecting the cables. Though it was all straightforward, there was a lot of it to do, and so fifteen minutes of the class had passed by just in setting up the system to try a test-run.

He powered up the system as the manual had said (and any dimwit who can read the word 'on' would have been able to figure out). He got a picture on his monitor of what the camera was seeing. So far, so good. The system appeared to work like a charm. He made sure the network wires were plugged in properly, and then prepared to test the system for remote operations.

He called the first name on his list, a Timothy Rollins, at Martina Junior High across town.

"Martina Junior High media lab. This is Tim," the voice on the phone said.

"Hey, Tim. My name is Zack, I'm up at the high school's media lab."

"Hey, Zack. You sound like a student." Tim was definitely a staff member.

"I am. Look, we're trying to get our ITV system up and running. Is yours operational yet?"

"Yeah, we got it working a couple days ago. Haven't done anything with it, though..."

"Well, have you tested yours for remote operation?"

"Yeah, we connected to a school in Fairlane yesterday." Fairlane was Martina's sister-city, not ten miles away, and roughly the same size.

"Okay, good. I want to find out if all this equipment is set up properly, so can you boot up your system, and let's see if we can get a two-way video feed going?"

"Okay, hang on." He heard some shuffling over the phone, and then the ITV system beeped. He pressed the button to accept access, and there on his screen was a picture of Tim, staring into the camera and waving. Zack hung up the phone before waving back. "Can you hear me okay?" Tim asked.

"Perfectly. Looks like we've got our system set up correctly."

"It would seem so. Say, how come they have a student running such expensive equipment?" Tim was obviously bored, and glad to have someone to interrupt his day.

"No one else knew how," Zack responded. Tim nearly fell out of his chair laughing. "Well, I've got other stuff to set up here. Thanks for the check-out."

"No problem, Zack. Talk to you later."

Zack disengaged the system, and turned it off. He had that working; now he could get down to his real goal.

-----

Zack had worked up his program for Stephanie the night before, and so he hadn't really had time to write up the new program for conversion to video. He knew it wouldn't take a whole lot, though, so he breezed through it. Luckily for him, the school's media computers also had the appropriate programming tools on them, because they served multiple purposes. He wrote the program up and had it working, using the old will matrix. He didn't want to try out the new one on anyone until he found out if it worked on Stephanie without any disastrous effects. He had about ten minutes left to go in the class, and he wondered if he should just copy it over to video. But then he got an idea.

He looked down his list of contacts, and just picked a name at random. The person he chose was Pat Barron. He dialed the phone, expecting either another student, or some computer guy. He was not expecting the extremely feminine voice on the other end of the phone.

"Media Lab, Pat Barron speaking." Zack was guessing her age in her early-to-mid twenties, and her voice sounded lovely.

"Hi, this is Zack Griffin, over at Thorndyke High School. I'm testing out our ITV system. Would you happen to have yours working?" He tried to put as much bass into his voice as he could manage, trying to sound a little older than he was.

"Sure, it's working fine. Would you like to hook up, and see how your system is doing?"

If you look like you sound, you're damned right I do! "Yeah, that would be good. I'm activating our system now, and I'll log on to your system from here." Zack activated the right switches and buttons, and soon there was a lovely brunette on his screen, wearing a pair of pale yellow slacks and a light green blouse, her hair pulled back over her shoulders, her round face punctuated with big, blue eyes.

"Hi there!" she said cheerfully. Zack did his best not to gape at the woman. His estimate of her had been dead on. He cleared his throat and said, "Hi."

"So, it looks like the system is working," she said.

"Yeah," Zack answered, getting back to his train of thought, while quickly typing on his keyboard. "This part, anyway. I've got one more thing I'd like to try, okay? I want to see if the computer interface is working."

"The what?" Obviously, she didn't know the system as well as he did.

"You can use the ITV to transmit computer images, too. I want to see if it works. I'm going to send over a graphic. Tell me if the picture looks okay."

"All right. Send away."

Zack double-clicked the icon, and his program started running. It looked pretty good on the computer monitor, but...

The picture on the TV monitor was not so hot. There was a small-screen monitor with the ITV system, to show you what was being transmitted. The picture looked like it was half-gone most of the time. Zack wasn't sure what he'd done wrong.

Seven minutes later, Pat got back to him. "Well, I saw your graphic, but I don't think the connection is quite right. It looked all distorted and funky."

"Yeah, okay. I'll work on that. Do you mind if I call you back when I've got it working? It may be a couple of days, but I'd like to check it out."

"Sure, I don't mind. Maybe you can show me how to use it when you get it working."

"Sure thing. I've gotta go, class is almost over."

"Bye."

Zack packed up his stuff and cursed, wondering why it hadn't worked. Was it just the fact that interlacing wasn't the problem? Something in the back of his head told him to keep trying. He'd learned to listen to that little voice lately.

While he was listening to that little voice, he wasn't watching where he was going, and as he left the media lab, he bumped into someone. His automatic "Sorry," was followed by a longer look... at Larissa Marks. She was in his grade, but not in any of his classes. They had spoken, briefly, a few times at pep rallies and such. Larissa was a 5' 8" vision of beauty. Though she had only average breasts, her dirty blonde hair framed a lovely face with brown eyes and a small mouth. Her long legs led up to a curvy ass, and her entire body screamed for contact. Zack resisted the urge.

"Oh, sorry, Larissa. I should watch where I'm going."

"That's okay, Zack. What were you doing in the media lab?"

"Oh, well, I'm working on a new-" Zack was interrupted by someone calling Larissa's name. They both turned to see Larissa's friends, Katelyn and Monique, waving for her to come on.

"Whoops. Gotta go. We're going to the mall, and Katelyn's my ride. Hey, maybe you can show me what you were working on sometime?"

"Sure, Larissa. No problem." The entire conversation was a stinging reminder of how Zack's "real" life went, and he hurried to find Claudia, to feel like he belonged with someone again. She was very happy to see him, and gave him a big kiss as he got in the car. She revved the engine and took off for his house, while he pondered why his efforts weren't bearing fruit.

-----

Zack spent the night looking over his notes, trying to figure out what it was he was doing wrong. If you remove every other line from the picture, then the video should have every other.... FUCK! Zack had just found an obvious, and rather stupid, mistake. Though a television has 525 lines on it, thus refreshing 262 of them at every scan, his image was at 640 x 480 resolution. Remove half the lines, and you have 240, not 262. Further, they'll be in the wrong place, and so won't appear properly in the picture. Compounding the problem was the width of the image, which wasn't the same, either.

Zack would have pounded his head against the wall, but thought he'd better get to work re-writing the graphics - yet again - to accommodate for a different video style. He'd left it in 640 x 480 only because that was the resolution it came in. He didn't really think it made any difference to the program. He spent the evening dug into the code, reworking the graphics and hoping like hell that it worked this time.

-----

Across town, Zack's friend Brian was more interested in curves than code. Specifically, his sister's curves. Those were the curves that had just slipped into his bed. Everyone else was in bed, and the house was dark. Pam had taken to slipping into Brian's bed at night for some fun, and then she would slip back to her own room after he fell asleep. Good thing I've got a double bed, Brian thought.

Pam's body slid up against her brother, and her hand moved across his bare chest. Her lips pressed up against his, and her tongue slipped into his mouth, caressing his tongue and dancing along his teeth. Her hand massaged his chest as their tongues played, and his hand slipped to her breast, pressing gently against it, feeling her nipple harden under his touch. She moaned into his mouth.

Her hand strayed down to his crotch, feeling his hard cock bare against her fingers. He no longer wore underwear to bed. What was the point? Her hand encircled his dick, and began stroking it gently. Her hand played its magic on him, and he was soon very close to coming. He broke off their kiss.

"I'm gonna come, Pam. Fuck me."

"I can't tonight, Brother. Mom and Dad aren't asleep yet. They might hear us."

Shit! Her hand had slowed, and he'd regained some control. He really needed some relief tonight, and he was getting fucking tired of having to work around his parents. "Well, at least blow me, then."

Pam moved down his body without another word. His head pressed back into his pillow as her mouth closed over the head of his shaft. Her tongue swirled around his dick, and then she took his entire length into her mouth. She moaned softly as his shaft slipped down her throat. She knew he was very close, and so she made short, swift motions on his cock, moaning as she did so. The extra vibration pushed him even higher into bliss.

Brian couldn't take any more, and he pushed his sister's head fully onto his dick as he blew his load down her throat. He came for what seemed like minutes, and then he let her up. She pulled off of him slowly, using her tongue to wipe off his softening prick. Once she reached the head of his cock, she placed another soft kiss there, and then laid it gently against his abdomen.

Pam crawled up to lay beside her brother, kissing him warmly and tenderly before laying her head on his shoulder. Brian, in the afterglow of one of his better orgasms, cuddled up to her, and quickly fell asleep.

∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼

Zack was edgy Tuesday, trying to contain his energy. He really wanted to know if his new program was going to work. It wasn't just Pat Barron, either. Although she was, as some of the students would call her, a "major babe", Zack wasn't interested in just her. If this worked, he knew that he could have any girl he wanted, anywhere. Everybody watches TV.

It took him until lunch time to realize that he wasn't being harassed. Of course, he knew that those four had been sent off to the bus barn to do work, but he had half-suspected that they would get some other seniors to take over their abuse of him. Apparently, the rest of the senior class had resigned itself to his presence.

It was also at lunch that he realized that he would be seeing Stephanie tonight, as it was time for a refresh of her programming. He hoped that this would be the last time that would be necessary. He also hoped that he didn't zorch her brain cells when she ran the program tonight.

The girls noticed his energetic attitude, but didn't ask him about it. They knew that if he wanted to talk about what was going on, he would have been doing so non-stop since he sat down. Claudia enjoyed how he would focus on projects like that. Stephanie tolerated his enthusiasm. He barely noticed either girl today, so engrossed was he in his thoughts about his program. He did remember, as lunch was finishing up, to remind Stephanie of their appointment. She merely nodded politely before leaving the table. Zack gave Claudia a quick, but warm, kiss, and headed off to his next class.

-----

And Stephanie headed off to her next class, which was gym. Sarah, her friend, was waiting for her in the locker room again, but this time it was with an invitation.

"Hey, Stephanie, you want to come over and watch a movie or something tonight? My parents are going to some banquet or other for my Dad's work. We can maybe call up a couple of boys..."

"Can't. I've got to go over to Zack's tonight."

Sarah's face darkened. She'd never seen her friend so intent on one boy before. And this particular boy was...

"What's with you and him? I mean, he's a sophomore."

"Look, I can't explain it to you. I don't really understand it myself. Ever since Claudia and I went over to his place one Saturday, I've just been completely unable to resist him."

"He musta drugged you."

"I don't see how. I didn't have anything to drink or eat while I was there. Look, I suppose I'll eventually get over this... whatever it is. Until I do, I've just got to do what my mind and body want." She began to walk away, as Sarah's hand clamped down tightly on her arm.

"Body? You don't mean to tell me..."

"More than once." With that, Stephanie walked out to the gym, again leaving her friend flabbergasted.

With a sophomore?

-----

Zack fidgeted through his classes until seventh hour finally rolled around. He nearly ran to the media lab, only to be frustrated by a note that said he needed to set up one of their two ITV systems for Mr. Searles to use tomorrow. Mr. Searles was a science teacher, and he apparently had some kind of presentation that he wanted to show everybody in the county. Isn't that just fucking special?

It took Zack twenty minutes to show Mr. Searles everything he needed to know about running the ITV. It had only taken him five minutes to move the system down to his class and hook it up. But half of his seventh hour was over, and he had yet to find out if his program worked or not.

When he was finally back in the media lab, having done his duty for the day, he booted up the computer, and inserted his ZIP disk. Before he called up Pat, he realized that there was one other thing he should do. Yesterday, he had used Claudia's matrix on Pat. He decided that he should go back to using the more generic one he'd created for females. He wasn't yet able to get full control out of this matrix, or at least he didn't think so, but it would give him temporary control over someone, and it would make them more suggestible to him. He loaded that matrix into the machine, and set it all up to run.

Then he called up Pat Barron.

"Media Lab, Pat Barron speaking," again that sensuous voice murmured into the phone.

"Ms. Barron, this is Zack Griffin, over at the high school. We spoke yesterday?"

"Oh, yes. Hello again. Did you figure out what was wrong with your graphic?"

"I think so. Mind if we hook up, so that you can tell me if it transmits properly?"

"Not at all. Our system is already on, so go ahead whenever you're ready."

Zack turned on the school's system, and made the proper inputs and adjustments. Once again, there on his screen was the lovely Ms. Barron, today in her burgundy pants and a peach blouse. Zack enjoyed, for just a moment, how her breasts filled out that blouse. Then he regained his voice. "Okay, the system itself is up and working fine. I guess I'll just go ahead and send the graphic now, all right?"

"Sure thing."

Zack double-clicked the icon. He looked first at his computer monitor, which displayed the graphics as expected. Then he hesitantly looked at the ITV monitor, to see what it was sending out. To Zack's immense relief, the picture now looked the same as his computer monitor did.

Then Zack looked at the screen that showed Ms. Barron, staring at her screen. That's when his heart began to race, for he could see the evident signs that Pat Barron was under the effect of Program Alpha-Omega. YES! Zack's thoughts screamed. For the next six and a half minutes, he waited impatiently for the program to finish up. When it did, he saw the distinctive triple-shrug gesture he'd built into the program. Pat was fully under.

In an even more whispery voice than before, she said, "That worked just fine, Zack. The picture seemed to be a little grainy, but otherwise... mmm." She didn't realize that she had been aroused by the imagery. Zack was about to take advantage of that. First, he slipped a tape into the VCR he'd connected to the ITV system, and pressed record.

"Pat, are you alone?" Zack asked.

"Mm. Hmm? Yes. School is out here. I have to stay in case any kids miss their bus or have to wait for parents or stuff like that. No one did today."

"So, the building is empty, except for you?"

"And the janitor, but he's already been through here." Her volunteered information was another sign that the program was working as expected.

"Go lock your door." Without a word, Pat got up and left the camera's field of view. A few moments later, she returned, and sat back in her chair.

"Okay, the door is locked. Now what?"

Zack swallowed hard. If she wasn't really under, he was about to be in deep shit.

"Pat, I want you to put on a show for me. You're really horny right now, and I want you to masturbate yourself to orgasm for the camera. I want you to do a striptease for me as you touch yourself. Start... now."

Pat didn't even acknowledge his words before her hands moved up to cup her breasts. She massaged them through her blouse, rolling them around with her hands. She started to unbutton her blouse with one hand, while her other then reached inside and caressed her tit beneath the fabric. As she finally got all the buttons undone, she pulled her blouse out of her slacks and laid it open on either side of her chest. Zack had a clear view of her bra-clad chest, which she was still rubbing vigorously. One hand strayed down and pressed against her crotch on the outside of her pants. She was beginning to moan softly.

She stood up, and let her blouse slip from her shoulders, falling into the chair. She turned, and moved it up to her desk. While she had her back turned to the camera, she reached back and unhooked her bra. She looked alluringly over her shoulder as she slid the undergarment from her body. With her arms crossed over her chest, she turned to fully face the camera. Her arms moved apart and down, revealing for Zack a gorgeous set of 36C tits with small, dark nipples. Her hands caressed her abdomen, and moved up to cup her breasts, presenting them to Zack's gaze through the camera.

Her heat rising, Pat's hand moved down to her pants while her other hand began to pinch and stretch her nipple. Pat's lower hand pushed inside of her slacks, and moved downward. She rubbed herself briefly, but then pulled her hand out and undid the slacks. With more room, she pushed her hand back in, and began to massage her cunt feverishly through her panties. Her other hand now mauled her tits more vigorously. She brought each breast in turn up to her mouth, and licked across her nipple.

Continuing to work at her cunt, she let her other hand move down and push her pants off of her hips, working them slowly down until they fell into a puddle on the floor. She stepped out of them, and then took both hands to pull her panties down off her hips. She stepped out of those, too, as quickly as possible. Then she sat herself back into her chair, slumping down so that her ass was at the very front edge. She then pulled her legs up and out, setting each one on a desk on either side of her. Her cunt was now in clear view, and Zack soaked up the sight.

Pat's fingers now went to work on her exposed twat, massaging her pussy lips before slipping a finger deep inside her now dripping box. She moaned aloud as her finger slipped inside, and her hand was immediately moving rapidly in and out, while her other hand began to massage her clit, which was poking out from under its hood.

Faster and faster Pat's hands flew, until she finally began to buck on her own hand, rocking the chair back and forth, her screams clearly audible over the ITV system. Her orgasm continued for quite a few moments before she began to calm down.

When Pat had settled, she began to put her clothes back on. As she was doing so, she looked into the camera and said, "Was that okay, Zack?"

Zack had managed to compose himself by now, and he answered, "Oh, yes, Pat. Very nice. Maybe I'll call you again sometime."

"That would be nice. Well, I've got to go now. And your class is just about over, too, isn't it?"

Zack looked at his watch. Shit, it is! "Yeah. Okay, I'll see you later, then. Take it easy, Pat."

"You too, Zack." With that, they closed the circuit.

Zack couldn't spend time in the media lab after class without drawing attention. He didn't have time to produce the video for his parents; the bell was ringing as he closed down the connection with Pat Barron. Oh, well, he thought, I can do it tomorrow. It looks pretty much like it works, though. But, after that little show, I'm definitely going to enjoy Stephanie tonight!

With that, Zack rushed off to meet Claudia, who was happy to see that he was still in an excited mood, but a lot less distracted.

-----

This time it was the man who went to William. He found him in the main workroom, with several other programmers. The room was crowded with other people going about their business as well.

"Tell me what you have, William," the man ordered.

"Well, sir, we've tracked down this Brian Selman. A competent young programmer, but I'm not sure if he's smart enough to have done this. He has a very small circle of friends that we've identified. These people, by first name, are Joel, Craig, Don, and Zack." The last name immediately stuck out.

"Zmorph," the man said simply.

He did not expect one of his other employees to turn around. "What about Zmorph?" she asked.

"How do you know Zmorph, Shirley?" the man asked.

"I've been IRCing with Zmorph for a few months, sir. I admit, sir, I directed him to the program."

"And?" the man said testily.

"Though he won't come right out and say it, he has indicated that he's got it working."

"Shit!" William cried out. "When were you going to tell us?"

Shirley turned on him. "Well, William, since you don't keep the rest of us clued in on what's going on, I was trying to get him to send me a copy of the working program."

"Any luck?" the man asked.

"No, sir. Sorry, but Zmorph is just too skittish. I do have his email address, if that helps."

"How in the hell did you get his email address?"

"He asked for my help. I told him I was a psychology student at UTEP. He asked for some info about psychology. I sent him our file."

"Which file?" the man inquired.

"File 162, sir. The one titled, 'Behavioral anomalies and the statistical likelihood of their causes'."

"You sent him that?" William blurted incredulously.

"When did you send him that?" the man asked, ignoring William's outburst.

"Um... last Saturday night, I think it was. Or early Sunday morning, I didn't really check the time. I'm sure it's logged..."

"It's not important exactly when," the man said very quietly. He looked at William. "William, what do you think our friend Zmorph might have done with a file about behavioral anomalies that would correspond to a 24% change in the code of the program?"

All William could say was, "I don't know sir, but, oh shit."

"'Oh shit' is right, son. Good work, Shirley. Get me Zmorph's email address, if you would."

She stepped over to her terminal and pulled up her email list. She showed the address to William and the man.

"Crap!" William snarled. "Crosswinds.net! He could be anywhere, still!"

"Calm yourself, William. We are very close to finding him. Joseph," the man said, turning to another programmer on the team, "Hack your way into Crosswinds' log files, and get me the IP address of that email account."

"Yes, sir."

"Isn't it likely to be scrambled, too, sir?"

"Yes, it is. But that, in and of itself, tells us that it's our friend in Martina again. There aren't too many people so paranoid that they'd even scramble their link to their email."

"I don't get it, sir. We know that he's in Martina. This Brian person has a friend named Zack. It seems obvious to me-"

"Never trust the obvious, William, for it is often wrong. We're not going around accusing people of anything until we are one hundred percent positive of who we're dealing with."

"Yes, sir."

"Come and get me when Joseph has an answer." With that, the man departed.

-----

Zack fiddled around that evening until around seven o'clock. At that time, he was busily setting up Stephanie's new matrix, so that it would be ready. He heard the knock at the front door, but knew his mother would get it. He finished what he was doing before he looked up, to see Stephanie standing there in a tight, white T-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts. Her legs were smooth and tanned, and he wanted to tear her clothes off where she stood.

"Hey Stephanie," he greeted her, hoping to catch her off-guard.

"Hello, Zack." No such luck. She was as cold as ever.

"Well, you know how this goes. I'm going to read while you watch the program, so put the headphones on." He had dreamed this up so that he would neither have to see nor hear the program. He didn't know how he would explain it if anything bad happened to her, but he'd work that out later.

She sat down in front of the computer and put the headphones on, careful not to mess up her hair. She moved the mouse and double-clicked the PAO icon. The usual program start-up screen came up, and then the screen blanked. She was used to a reddish pattern at this point. It was not what she saw.

Stephanie's mind was jabbed by the intense colors and sounds of the program. Her senses were assaulted by the harshness of the new program. She inhaled sharply as she felt it probing deep inside her mind.

Zack had to fight himself, to keep from looking at Stephanie, and whatever she was seeing. Even though the command script he was using had specific instructions that it was not to work on anyone but Stephanie, he was leery of what it might be doing.

Soon, as the program ran, the stabbing probe faded, and, though it was a slightly different sensation, the euphoric feeling she was used to the program giving her returned. She began to float. This time, however, it seemed as if she was disconnecting from herself. As if she was not entirely there anymore. As the program continued, it didn't matter. She floated away on a cloud of bliss.

-----

Four minutes and thirty-eight seconds after the program started, it ended. Zack noted the screen going dark, and then he looked, now seeing his usual Windows desktop on the screen. Stephanie didn't move for the longest time, and he actually began to worry that her brain had, indeed, been cooked.

Then, slowly, her hands came up and removed the headphones, setting them down gently on the desk. Slowly, ever so slowly, she turned the chair around until it faced him. He was now standing beside his bed, a little over five feet away from her. She looked at him, and the first thing he noticed was that the look was straight-on, eye contact and full-faced. Her neutral expression broke into a beautiful smile, and she rose from the chair. As soon as she was steady on her feet, she sprinted at Zack and threw her arms around him, planting a warm and loving kiss on his lips.

Zack was definitely not expecting this reaction from her, and he was taken aback by her forthright show of affection. It did not, however, take him long to adjust to this new turn of events. He embraced Stephanie, and returned the fervor of her kiss. They remained lip-locked like that for some time, their passions building.

With the day he'd had, and especially after his special show during seventh period, Zack was more than ready for a little action. He broke their embrace, and stepped back slightly from Stephanie. He smiled at her, and she beamed the most gorgeous smile he'd ever seen her give anyone back at him. He reached down, grabbing hold of her T-shirt hem, and pulled it rudely off over her head. In doing so, he fully messed up her hair. She didn't even notice.

He now had a full view of her wonderful tits. Though they weren't as large as Claudia's, they were still beautiful. They stood firmly out from her chest, her silver-dollar-sized areolas a deep pink, and her nipples were already hard nubbins, erect and ready to be sucked. Zack pushed her backward onto the bed, and he followed her down, his mouth attaching itself to one of her tits, his tongue sliding over her flesh until it found the nipple, lapping against the hard nubbin repeatedly. Stephanie moaned in pleasure. She had not felt this kind of sexual excitement, ever. Her hands held Zack's head to her chest, running her fingers through his hair, and praying he wouldn't stop.

Zack had no intention of stopping. His hands were busily undoing her pants. Once undone, he roughly pulled them, and her panties, down off her hips. She raised up to help him remove the garments, and then she used her feet to push them down off her legs. Zack's hand now wandered between her legs, and she gasped at the first touch of his fingers against her pussy lips. He gently brushed his fingers back and forth against them, and his thumb softly stroked the hood of her clit. Stephanie was moaning continually now, and she was beginning to shake from the intense pleasure she was feeling.

Zack moved his mouth over to her other tit as he inserted one finger deep inside her cunt, stroking her slowly as his tongue danced on her breast. Her body was thrusting itself onto his hand as he inserted yet a second finger into her. Her body jerked and twisted as the sensations became too much. Her first orgasm swept over her as a wave would crash on the beach: fast and hard. Her body writhed and her moans filled the room. Zack continued to finger-fuck her, and he continued to suck on her tit, until her orgasm began to subside.

While Stephanie was recovering from her climax, Zack removed all of his clothes. Once Stephanie had a look at his cock, she reached for it. He brought himself within her grasp, and her hand softly surrounded his shaft. She moved herself to an upright position, and her mouth was uncontrollably drawn to his dick. Her tongue moved along his shaft, and then her lips touched the head. She sucked him in as if he were a popsicle, her lips keeping continual contact as the suction moved him further into her mouth. As she slid him back out, her hand slid along his pole, keeping up the sensation on his dick. Her mouth went back down, the pace maddeningly slow. Again she pulled off of him, and again her hand caressed his dick.

Again and again she dropped, moving further and further onto his pole. He felt his cock reach the back of her throat, but she didn't stop there. She continued to pull him all the way in, until all seven inches of him were buried in her mouth, and her nose rested in his pubic hairs. She stopped for a moment, and hummed softly on his dick. The sensation was incredible, and he wanted to blow his load right there, but he knew she had more to offer him.

And she did. Her mouth moved much faster now, having adjusted to his size. Her head bobbed on his cock, keeping a constant suction. Her hand moved along whatever portion of his cock was not in her mouth, while her other hand softly fondled his balls, as if to coax the cum from them.

Zack was in heaven, but he couldn't hold out forever. Eventually, his cock blew his load of cum deep into her throat. Stephanie never even flinched; she swallowed every drop he had to offer, and then began to lick his dick clean. When she had finished, his rod had not softened in the least.

He pushed her back down onto the bed, moving himself between her legs. He reached down and pulled her knees upward, so that her legs rested on his shoulders, and her cunt was resting right below his dick. She looked up at him expectantly, almost hungering for the throbbing cock between his legs. He slid his length along her slit, lubing himself more, and then he angled himself for her hole, pressing into her.

She groaned at the very first touch of his prick on her inner walls. The head of his dick pushed slowly into her. He filled her small pussy with his dick, pushing in slowly, then backing out just as slowly, and pushing in more. He moved into her in this way, rocking his hips to force himself deeper into her each time, until finally, he was fully into her, and their pubic bones touched.

Zack bent down, bending Stephanie even further, and he began to fondle her tits again. He looked into her eyes and asked her, "How bad do you want it?"

"Oh, God, FUCK ME, ZACK!" she screamed.

With that, he started to ram into her at full speed. In her position, she could do nothing but lay back and enjoy the sensation, which she did. She could feel him pushing into her, she regretted it every time he pulled out, but she knew that it would lead to him slamming back into her. She needed this fucking so badly, she was as horny as she could ever remember being.

Zack plunged his dick down into her depths, using his weight to thrust in just as far as he could. His fingers twisted and pulled on her nipples, and he watched her face, bathed in sweat, and contorted in the most exquisite of agony, her body climbing higher and higher to her climax, being used for his pleasure, but getting an immense amount of her own in return.

Stephanie's body had all it could take, and she began to spasm beneath Zack. As her writhing increased, her pussy clamped down on his cock. As Zack felt her cunt walls rippling on his cock, he let himself go, blasting his load deep into her pussy. He continued thrusting, even after his cum was spent, until she came down from her orgasm. He reached down and gathered her up in his arms. Without removing his dick from her cunt, he slid up onto the bed with her, and they lay in each others arms. He kissed her softly, and she responded in kind. She had never before been in any way affectionate to him, and he liked this Stephanie much better.

Then it dawned on him that he had never closed the bedroom door, and that his parents must have certainly seen them. Looking over, he found that the door was now closed, but not all the way. I hope they enjoyed the show.

-----

After another round of sex, Zack decided that he needed to talk to Stephanie, and see just what had happened to her. After all, the only way he could be sure about the program was to know what the results were.

"Stephanie, assume your position."

"Yes, Zack," she answered, but not in her robot-voice, but in a sweet and submissive voice that was very uncharacteristic for her.

"As usual, I want you to answer me as truthfully as you possibly can. You will not hide anything from me, or withhold information from me. Understood?"

"Of course, Zack. I would never lie to you."

"Do you like me, Stephanie?"

"Absolutely. You're my boyfriend."

Interesting. Now she actually believes it.

"Why didn't you like me before?"

"I thought you were a little creepy, and I didn't like that you were hanging out with Claudia. I thought you weren't worthy of her."

"What do you think about me now?"

"Anything you want, you deserve, Zack."

"Do I deserve Claudia?"

"Oh, yes, Zack! If anyone does, you do!"

"Do you still want to fuck Claudia?"

Stephanie's face reddened. She bowed her head. "Yes, Zack, I do... if you would permit it."

Zack chuckled. "Do you mind if we share her from time to time?"

"It would be my honor, Zack!"

"Very good. Tell me, did Claudia tell Principal DeVain about the seniors?"

"No, Zack. I did."

"Why did you do that? Yesterday, you didn't like me."

"I did that because what they were doing was wrong. Although I misunderstood my feelings for you as dislike, I still didn't feel that you deserved to be hurt just for going out with us."

"I see. Well, thank you for caring, even if you didn't really think of it that way."

"Of course, Zack."

"Okay, Stephanie-"

"Zack, please... you know you prefer to call me Steph. It isn't right for me to force you to call me Stephanie."

"Okay, Steph. Now, I really enjoyed your company tonight. But I have to get some homework done, so I'd like you to get dressed now, and go home. I will see you at school tomorrow. Also, I want you to come over here Thursday night at seven. I'll have a present for you."

Stephanie's eyes lit up. "A present? For me, Zack? What is it?"

"It's a surprise. Now, shoo." He gestured her out the door, and she left, but not before giving him a groin-stirring good-bye kiss. He wobbled a little as he walked back to his desk chair.

He now knew that his new matrix was fully functional, and didn't appear to have any inadvertent side-effects. He incorporated the new matrix into the main program, though he kept a backup copy of the old matrix, just in case. Then he closed down his computer, turned off the lights, and fell into bed, for one of the most restful nights' sleep he had ever experienced.

∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼

Zack woke up the next morning well-rested and happy with his circumstances. Things were going well for him, and he was in a wonderful mood. Claudia took note of this on the ride to school, and was happy that the world was in its proper shape. Stephanie greeted them both at the front door of the school, and gave Zack a warm good-morning kiss. Claudia, not wishing to be outdone, then did the same.

Zack, after catching his breath said, "Okay, girls, if we keep this up, we're all going to be late for class!" They laughed, and the girls departed, leaving Zack at his Algebra II class.

The rest of the morning was very much the same as that. He breezed through all of his classes, not really concerned with the subject matter. His only disconcerting moment was in Ms. Pinches' class. She was dressed in a beautiful yellow skirt with matching blouse, and just the sight of her made his dick rise to attention. Yet, even with all the progress he'd made, he still had no idea how to get into her pants. He resolved to change that as soon as possible.

At lunch, he met up with Claudia and Stephanie again, and they all sat down to eat together. It was then that the only black cloud of the day appeared.

Stephanie's friend, Sarah, came over to their table. She leaned down in front of Zack, looking directly into his eyes. Zack stared back with curiosity, but little else. "Can I help you?" he asked.

"I don't know what you've done to these two, but when we find out, you're going to be in deep shit. You don't go around messing with people."

"I don't know what you're talking about," he lied. Unfortunately, he knew exactly what she was talking about. He just hoped that she didn't really have a clue.

Sarah snorted. "Right. You've been warned, Griffin. I'm going to get you." With that, she walked away.

Zack looked at his two friends, and noticed that Stephanie was extremely pale. "Steph? Something wrong?"

"Zack, I... I'm the one who's got Sarah all upset... I've been talking to her, and I've said some things..." She was very nearly crying. Zack put his arm around her and gave her a hug.

"Don't worry about it, Steph. It'll all blow over." As soon as I figure out what to do about it, anyway.

She gave him a smile, and he kissed her on the cheek before continuing his lunch.

The rest of Zack's day was quiet. He chose to give Pat a rest, so he didn't call her up today. He did, however, make up a new videotape to show his parents. Now that he was ninety-nine percent sure that it would work, he was going to take full control of his home. He ran the program twice, as usual. This time, he was using the new matrix on them as well. He figured it couldn't hurt to have an extra kick in it. Having done that, he packed the tape away in his book bag. He had nothing else to do, so he used the media lab computer to log on to the Net, and played for the next half-hour.

-----

The man was once again in the workroom, asking for results, when the notice came in.

"Sir, we've got another program notice... again in the clear, we can nail this one down, sir."

"What have you got?"

Joseph read it off the screen. "Martina, Oklahoma... local ISP... sir the account tracks back to the local high school... no definite location within the building, but definitely at the high school."

"So," the man said, "We are definitely dealing with a student."

"It could be faculty, sir..." William interposed.

"Not likely. Faculty wouldn't be this quick to use it. It takes youth to take these kinds of risks. Still, I suppose it is possible that it is faculty." Turning, he said, "Shirley, go online and see if Zmorph is around."

"Yes, sir." She logged on to her computer, opening up her usual chat programs. After taking a quick look around, she said, "Yes, sir, here he is. You want me to say anything to him?"

"Not unless he starts talking to you. Joseph, begin a trace on that connection. Shirley, whatever you do, do not indicate what we're doing."

"Of course not, sir. He still thinks I'm a student."

"Keep it that way."

They all watched as Zmorph chatted with a few friends. Shirley kept quiet, hoping that Zmorph would not speak to her today. He didn't always start up a conversation with her, even when she was around. Today was one of those days.

Joseph typed furiously at his computer. "Got him! Again, in the clear, directly from the same computer as the notice. Zmorph is definitely our guy!"

"But that still doesn't get us anywhere," William griped. "We still don't really know who he is."

"You have a point, William. Shirley, has he ever given you any indication of who he is?"

"No, sir. I've always just called him Zmorph."

"Hmmm. Maybe it's time to get a little more personal with him. See if you can bring him out of his shell by talking about yourself."

"Yes, sir."

<Valkyrie359> Hey, Z. How goes things?

<Zmorph> Pretty good, Val. How's things with you?

<Valkyrie359> Okay, I guess... Can we go private, please?

<Zmorph> Sure thing.

"Why are you going private?" the man asked.

"I'm hoping he'll be more willing to speak freely one-on-one."

"Good idea."

The private chat window popped up, and there was already a message waiting for her.

<Z> What's up? You sound a little down.

<V> I am. Classes are going really bad for me. I've got finals next week... things are just crappy.

<Z> Sorry to hear that. Are you going to manage it?

<V> I don't know, Z... hey, what's your "real" name? I'm tired of calling you Zmorph. My name's Shirley.

There was an interminably long pause. "I'm sorry, sir. I may have scared him off."

"There wasn't a much better way to do it, Shirley. Don't worry about it."

Their fears were unfounded, however. Soon, a message popped up.

<Z> My name is Zack.

<V> Thanks, Zack... I like dealing with real people rather than names on a screen. Like I said, classes are just sucky right now. I wish school were over already.

<Z> Yeah, well, hang in there, Shirley. You'll do okay, just don't panic over it.

<V> Easy for you to say. You've only got high-school exams to worry about.

<Z> Well, yeah, I suppose, and I don't really have to worry about THOSE. ;)

<V> What do you mean?

<Z> Let's just say I have a little help from something we talked about earlier.

<V> You still won't let me have it, will you. :|

<Z> Sorry, I'm still not sure it's not dangerous.

"The kid is worried about hurting someone. That's a good sign," the man said.

"Yeah... but it means he's definitely got a working program," William concluded.

"But now we know who we're dealing with. I want a full file drawn up on this kid before we go in to talk to him."

"Yes, sir," William responded.

"You need anything more here, sir?" Shirley asked.

"No, you did great. Wrap it up like you normally would."

"Okay."

<V> Well, let me know if you'll ever let me have it, okay?

<Z> Surely, Shirley. :)

<V> :) Thanks, I needed that. I've got to go study. Take it easy, okay?

<Z> You, too. And don't worry. It'll all work out.

<V> Thanks again. Bye.

<Z> Later.

-----

Back in Martina, Zack closed down the system and got ready for the bell to ring. He decided to go ahead and head out before the bell, just because he'd never actually wandered the halls of the school during class time. Being in charge of the equipment pretty much gave him free run of the school during seventh hour. And we'll see if we can't expand that to the other six hours of the day. An idea was forming in Zack's head. An idea of how to deal with Sarah and the rest of the senior class. It revolved around his new ability to run the program on a television. And it involved next week's multimedia presentation for the school. Every student in his computer class would demonstrate their project, if it was ready. Most were, Zack knew. He would have to toy even further with the program, to see if he could make the graphics more closely resemble his original project, but that shouldn't be too hard for him.

The bell rang, interrupting his thoughts. He had been wandering aimlessly, he thought, but he'd ended up outside Claudia's final class. He leaned against the lockers, waiting for her to come out. She saw him immediately, and made a beeline for where he was standing. They hugged, and once again her kiss got a rise out of him. They walked hand-in-hand out of the school, and over to her car for the drive home.

-----

Once home, Zack prepared for the evening. He put his video into the VCR, and cued it up. His parents had made it clear that they would be willing to look at his "special effect" again, if he made it better. Zack had to admit that the graphics were better now, not that it mattered a whit. Having the tape all set up and ready, he flopped down to watch some TV. He didn't have any homework, so he had the evening free.

His parents arrived home together, his mother's car having broken down again, so that his father had given her a ride. It was well past the aggravation stage with the car, to the point that it had become a joke in the family. They greeted Zack before they went off to change. While they were in their bedroom, the phone rang. Zack hopped up from the couch to answer it.

"Hello, Griffin residence," he said, as his parents had taught him to answer the phone.

"Hey, Zack, it's Brian."

"Hey, man! What's up?"

"Can you come over tonight? My sisters are... kind of insisting on seeing you."

Oh, shit, I forgot all about that little project! Zack smiled to himself. He'd had such a good week, and it looked like it was only getting better. "Um, sure, I guess... give me about an hour, and then come and get me."

"Okay, will do. Hey, you wanna eat with us?"

"Don't I always?" Zack laughed.

"Okay. Mom's making some kind of roast or something."

"Sounds good to me. See you in an hour."

"Yeah, bye."

Zack hung up the phone and returned to his spot on the couch. His parents came out of their bedroom, laughing with each other about something. As they entered the living room, his mother asked, "Who was on the phone, honey?"

"That was Brian. Is it okay if I eat with them tonight?"

"Sure, no problem. Is he coming to get you?"

"Yeah, in a little while. Have you guys got a few minutes?"

"What's up, son?" his father asked.

"Well, I worked on that special effect, and I was wondering if you'd tell me if it's any better now."

"Of course we will, dear," his mother said, sitting down beside him.

As his father sat on the other side of his mother, Zack hit the 'PLAY' button on the VCR. His PAO graphic popped on the screen immediately, to be replaced by a blank screen for about two seconds. That's when the new graphics, and the new matrix, kicked in. Zack actually felt his mother shudder beside him. He took the chance to look at them, and he could see that they were already entranced by the video. He hazarded a glance at the screen, but, other than a slightly energizing feeling, it did nothing for him. Which was exactly what was supposed to happen. It was a relief to find that his new matrix still obeyed the normal rules of the program.

And seven minutes later, the program had completed its run, and his parents were ready for their new role in life, as the secondary controlling power in the house. He knew he needed to see if his program had, in fact, worked. He thought for a moment, and finally came up with a suitable test.

"Don't you guys think it would be best if you moved the TV and VCR from your bedroom into mine?"

His father thought for only a second before looking at his wife and nodding. She agreed. "Yes, I think that would be a good idea, Zack," he said. "I'll go do that now."

YES! He now had complete control of his house. He didn't really want to abuse his power over his parents, he just wanted to make sure he could get his way whenever he needed to.

"I'll be in my room until Brian shows up." His mother acknowledged him, and he went into his room. He was about to close his door when his father showed up with the TV and VCR. It wasn't a very big TV, but it was better than nothing.

"There you go, son. I'm sure you can hook it up faster than I can." His father chuckled as he walked away.

This is going to be so cool! he thought. He spent a couple of minutes hooking it all up, and then he played on his computer for a while.

-----

Brian showed up when he said he would, and they rode over to his house. Dinner was being set on the table as they walked in the door.

"Hi, Mrs. Selman, Mr. Selman," Zack said.

"Well, hello, Zack," Mr. Selman replied. "How have you been?"

"Oh, not too bad, Mr. Selman. Can't complain."

"Glad to hear it. Well, let's dig in."

The meal was, as always, delicious. But there seemed to be a distinct lack of conversation at the table. Zack was sitting between Mrs. Selman and Brian, with Pam on the other side of Brian. Bonnie and Wendy were sitting across from them, and Mr. Selman was sitting at the end of the table, next to Mrs. Selman. Bonnie and Wendy were making a lot of eye contact with Zack, but very little was said among them all. Anything that was said, beyond "Pass the carrots", was directed at Zack. It seemed a very strained time in the family. Zack was glad when the meal was over.

When it had, finally, ended, Zack and Brian headed back to his room. Bonnie thought to follow them, but Zack stopped her. "Give us a few minutes, okay? I'll call for you when I'm ready... and then just one of you at a time, all right?"

"Sure thing, Zack." She smiled and walked off to her room.

Once inside Brian's room, Zack just had to ask. "Something going on you want to talk about, Bri?"

"Want to? No, not really, but I guess you deserve to know. My father, the shit, has been cheating on my mother. They're getting divorced."

"Aw, shit, man. That really sucks."

"Yeah, well. He's never home, anyway, but it's not like my mom needs this crap right now. Looks like our nights of good meals are over. She'll have to get a job, and then she's gonna be all tired, and... shit."

It was a fairly selfish approximation of the situation, Zack knew, but it was also the kind of thing that Brian would focus on in order to avoid dealing with the real issues. "Sorry, man. Anything I can do?"

"Not unless you've got some good news for me for a change."

"Hmmm. Well, I might, at that. I got the videotaped program to work."

Brian's eyes lit up. "Yeah? Cool. At least I won't have to worry about my mother catching us, then."

Zack thought for a minute. "You know, Brian, I hadn't really considered it, but the program might be able to get your parents back together."

"Huh? How?"

"Well, it's all about psychology, right? Sure, we call it 'love' and make it all mushy, but it's really just psychology. The program works on psychological principles. I'm not saying it would work for sure. At the very least, I can guarantee that your father will pay child support."

"That's something to think about. Can you write all of that up in one program? So that they ignore Pam and me, and all the other stuff, too?"

"Sure. It's not that hard. Do you want me to try to get them back together, or just keep them living in the same house, or what?"

"Shit, I don't know. Unless you could guarantee that he wouldn't fool around on her, I don't know as I want him around."

"Well, I can probably do that... but it might be tricky." Zack was thinking just how many factors were involved. And, though he wasn't about to say it to Brian, one of the factors very well might be his mother. He'd already been hit once this month: that was his limit. "Probably easier just to make sure he pays you guys well each month."

"Yeah." The pain in Brian's voice was evident. "Well, do that, then. I suppose you want to talk to the girls now, huh?"

"Not yet. One other thing I wanted to tell you. Since I've gotten this TV thing to work, I'm going to sort of take over the school."

Brian laughed out loud, until he saw that Zack was serious. "You want to run the school, man?"

"Nah, not run it. Just make it so that I can get away with anything. I'm going to use the program at the media assembly next week."

"Hey, I'm gonna be at that assembly!"

"Don't worry, I'm writing you out of the program, so it won't affect you, Claudia, Pam, or Stephanie. I know I can't make up for your parents, but I'm going to write it so that they'll ignore your behavior, too. That way, maybe we can have a little fun."

"Thanks. Maybe it'll take my mind off all this crap."

"Hope so. Well, I guess it's time to deal with Bonnie and Wendy."

"I don't even want to know what you're doing with them anymore, Zack."

"Brian, I'm not-"

"I don't want to know. I've got Pam. You do with those two what you like... but, if I found another girl at school I wanted...?"

"Just say the word, man. I'm getting better with this program every day."

"Great. I'll go tell Bonnie to come on in here, and I'll be in the kitchen talking to Mom."

"Gotcha."

A minute later, Bonnie came into the room with a stack of photographs. She stood before Zack, and handed him the rather thick pile of pictures. He looked at her in some surprise. "How many pictures are in here?"

"Seventy-eight. You said to find every girl prettier than me. There are a lot of them."

"I doubt that," Zack replied almost automatically. Bonnie's face turned a bright crimson at the compliment.

Zack leafed through the photographs, removing about every fourth or fifth one. These he handed back to her. "Do you know all of these girls?"

"Most of them, yeah."

"Okay, write down on the back who they are, and what they're like. Are they friendly, or snobbish, that sort of thing. When you're done with that, bring them back to me. And send in Wendy, would you please?"

"Sure thing, Zack!" she said as she bounced out of the room. Zack gathered up the remaining pile of photos to get them out of the way. By the time he'd finished doing that, Wendy was coming in.

"Hi," she said quietly.

"Well, what do you have for me?"

Wendy took a chance, and sat down in his lap before handing him her pile of photos. He was a bit distracted by the girl sitting on him, but he managed to focus on the pictures. Knowing that Bonnie would be busy for a while, he decided to go through Wendy's photos with her. Again, he ended up discarding most of them as undesirable. She must have a low opinion of her appearance if she thinks that all these girls are as pretty as she is. Her pile was smaller than Bonnie's, but still a good size. He ended up with ten pictures out of Wendy's collection. As she sat in his lap, leaning back against him, he asked her about each one. She told him what she knew of them. Two, she didn't know at all, and she said they were sort of snobbish. Figures. They're two of the best-looking ones.

Having finished up with the photos, Zack said, "Okay. I'm not sure what I want you to do for me next, but I'll let you know."

It was then that Wendy wiggled her ass in his lap, causing his cock to stir. She turned and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before getting up. "Okay, just let me know if you need anything." The way she'd said 'anything' was more adult than it should have been. But that's not in her program! his mind raged.

"I will. Now go play." She bounded out of the room, to be replaced by Bonnie almost immediately. She remained standing in front of him, but still looked upon him warmly. He went through her comments quickly, and then told her the same that he had told her sister. Bonnie likewise was cheerful about her service to him, and left the room humming a tune.

Zack gathered up his "keeper" photos, and took them with him as he left Brian's room. He found Brian and his mom in the kitchen. She looked as if she had been crying. Zack was about to step back out of the room, but she saw him, and immediately perked up.

"Done chatting with the girls?"

"Yes, ma'am," Zack answered. He'd been raised to be polite.

"Well, that's good. I guess I need to take you home now. It's too dark out for Brian to drive."

"If you would, please."

"Okay, let me get my keys."

As she left the room, Brian whispered, "She's taking this whole thing pretty hard, Zack."

"Damn. I wish there was something I could do."

"Just make sure the bastard keeps paying her."

"I'll do that, for sure."

"Good." Just then, Mrs. Selman came back, and Zack followed her out to her car for the ride home.

When they arrived back at Zack's house, he paused before getting out.

"Mrs. Selman?" he asked.

"What is it, Zack?"

"Brian told me what's going on. I'm sorry."

She smiled at him. "Thank you, Zack. I just don't know what we're going to do."

"Don't worry too much, Mrs. Selman. It'll all work out. Let me know if there's anything we can do to help, okay?"

"I will." On impulse, she reached over and hugged him. Zack returned the embrace, knowing she needed to know that someone cared. He could feel the tears on her cheek, and he just continued to hug her until she broke the embrace.

"Oh, dear, look at me. I can't seem to control myself these days, crying like this."

"It's okay to cry, you know."

She just looked at him strangely for a moment, and then nodded while wiping her tears away with a tissue. "Well," she said at last, "I should get back to what's left of my family."

"Okay. Thanks for the ride, Mrs. Selman."

"Anytime Zack. See you later. Say 'hi' to your mom for me."

"Will do."

He watched the car drive away as he thought about what a complete asshole Mr. Selman must be. Then he went inside to write a new command script for Brian's tape.

∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼

After the active week he'd had, Thursday was a dull day. It was dull because it was, well, normal. Zack went to classes. He wasn't harassed, because the four seniors were still doing labor at the bus barn. He dreamed about Ms. Pinches, which was something he'd been doing since the day they'd met. And then he went to lunch. At lunch, he sat with his two beauties, and he enjoyed their company. He went about the second half of his day peacefully. He called up Pat during seventh hour, but she wasn't alone today, and so wasn't free to 'play'. He had made Brian's tape for him. On the ride home with Claudia, he asked her to drop by at quarter-to-seven that night. She kissed him hotly before he got out of her car, saying that she would be sure to be on time.

It was the easiest day he'd had in a couple of weeks. But tonight would be more fun.

-----

The man held a meeting of his staff to coordinate their plan. "All right," he began. "We are reasonably certain that we have correctly identified the person that we are dealing with here. William, fill us in on what you have concerning our mysterious programmer."

"Yes, sir." William stepped up to the podium, glancing down at his notes before beginning. "The individual in question is Zackary Griffin, known as Zack to his real-life friends, and using Zmorph as his net alias. Zack is a high school student-" this statement drew some murmurs from the audience, but William continued on, "- at Thorndyke High School in Martina, Oklahoma. He is considered a prodigy in math and the sciences, including computer programming. His school records indicate a full understanding of intermediate-to-advanced computer programming. His conduct report lists several mild reprimands for mischievous conduct while using the computers of the school."

At this point, the man interrupted. "What do you mean by 'mischievous'?"

"Sir, the one incident specifically recorded in the file was a case where every screen in the computer lab rotated its text counter-clockwise. That is, except for the computer that our friend Zack was using, which was completely unaffected. He also had the ability to return any screen he chose to normal, which was demonstrated when the teacher moved him to a different terminal."

"Did this cause any permanent harm?" the man inquired.

"According to the file, sir, nothing that Zack has ever done has caused any harm, except for a loss of class time."

"Understood. Continue."

"Yes, sir. Zack is an only child in a lower-middle income family. His father, Grant, works at Martina Office Technologies, a local software company. He is a competent, but not brilliant, programmer, with no real ambitions to rise any further in the company. The boy's mother, Sharon, works as a receptionist at the local community college. She has no computer ability whatsoever. His family life seems stable, the marriage is solid.

"His school work is exemplary. He struggled slightly at the beginning of the present school year with his biology class. Beyond that, his school record has been a string of "A's". His favorite elective subjects have tended toward the intellectual, rather than the physical. He has taken only the required physical education and health classes. He is following the Honors course track in his school system, and, though he is not aware of it, his counselors have already pointed him out to several colleges and universities.

"He has no real extracurricular activities, preferring to stick with his school work. He has recently been given responsibility for a video-teleconferencing network set up between the schools. That has, in fact, replaced his computer programming class, for which he has already been given an "A".

"He has a very small circle of friends, including our original contact, Brian Selman. There are a few others. Rumor around the school says that he has recently acquired two girlfriends, both in the senior class, and both are considered 'pick of the school'." There were more murmurs at that piece of information.

"He has no juvenile criminal history, nor does he have any serious disciplinary actions on his school record. He is, to all appearances, an upstanding citizen. He is also a loner, an intellectual, and probably labeled a nerd by the popular people at school. He has aptitudes for sciences and math, and could achieve almost anything he desired in these fields with the right training."

The man signaled for William to sit down. "Thank you, William. That's who we're dealing with. Any suggestions as to how to approach?"

Shirley spoke up. "Why not the direct approach, sir? Tell him who you are, who we are, what you want, and see what happens?"

The man grunted. "Think that would work? You've been talking to him for months."

"Sir, I think it's the only way you're going to get anything out of him," she responded.

"I'd have to agree with that assessment, sir," Joseph interjected. "From what I've read of this kid's file, he's paranoid, and he doesn't trust people easily. Playing it close isn't going to work with this guy. You're going to have to lay it all out on the table and hope like hell it comes down our way."

"Very well. I agree." He turned to his secretary, who was sitting off to the side, taking notes. "Terry, call down and have them prep the jet for a hop to Oklahoma City. We'll have to rent a car from there to Martina."

"Yes, sir. Right away," she responded, getting up from her chair. He watched her as she walked away, her ass swaying slightly with each step. Once she turned the corner, he returned his attention to the rest of the team.

"I want each of you to come up with alternative ways to get him to cooperate, in case the direct approach doesn't work." The man got up from his chair and returned to his office, leaving the team to ponder what other techniques could be applied to the subject.

-----

Claudia was extremely punctual, as usual. Zack was just putting the finishing touches on a new command script for her. He didn't make any really major modifications to her original script, but he wanted to see how much of her current reaction had been his program, and how much was her own doing, so he was actually giving her somewhat more freedom to speak her mind, though she still had to obey him.

When her programming was finished, she turned from the computer, and smiled warmly at him, just as she had always done. His heart was warmed that she didn't reject him immediately, anyway.

"You said that something special was going on tonight," she reminded him.

"Yes, there is. But it's... not ready yet. Listen, Claudia, no matter what happens tonight, I want you to just play along, okay? I don't want you to ask any questions, or to say anything. Understand?"

Claudia looked a bit nervous at those words, but she nodded, slowly, but with conviction.

"Good. I promise that you won't get hurt or anything, but tonight's surprise is... well, it's something you may not be expecting."

"Okay. I trust you, Zack."

That's nice to know, he thought. "I'm glad to hear it. Now, I want you to sit here, and just wait. Your surprise will be along shortly. Oh, and I want you to face away from the door. Don't look anywhere but toward that wall." Now she wouldn't be able to see who was entering the room.

Zack stepped out of his room, and he saw Stephanie parking her car at the curb. He quietly opened the front door to greet her, placing a finger to her lips to make sure she wouldn't speak. He gestured her into the guest bathroom, and shut the door, to make sure they couldn't be heard by Claudia.

Stephanie was very surprised by his behavior. "Zack," she said in a hushed tone, as he had indicated that she should still be quiet, "What's going on?"

"Remember last week when you told me why I wasn't good enough for Claudia?"

Stephanie bowed her head. "I made a mistake, Zack. Are you going to punish me for it?"

"No, Steph, not punish. You've been really nice to me lately, and I'm going to return the favor." Seeing her questioning look, he continued, "Claudia is sitting in my bedroom right now. I'm letting you have her for the next... oh, well, I don't know how long, but let's just say you should have plenty of time to get to know her body really well."

Stephanie's eyes grew wide, and then she threw her arms around Zack. "Oh, thank you, Zack!" she said, still in a whisper. Then she pulled back. "But... what if she rejects me?"

"She won't. Don't worry. She's all yours tonight. You don't mind if I watch, do you?"

"Of course not, Zack. It'll be fun to have an audience."

"Okay, good. Here's what I want you to do..." Zack outlined his plan to her very quickly.

-----

Claudia sat on the bed, staring at the Babylon 5 poster on the wall. She had named every character she could remember by now. She would not, however, turn her head. She had been given instructions, and she would follow them exactly.

She felt, more than heard, someone enter the room. She heard the 'click' of the door closing, and she heard fabric rustling. There were some strange electric-whirring sounds which she couldn't quite place, but was sure she had heard before. Then she felt the bed move.

-----

Stephanie crawled onto the bed, making sure to stay out of Claudia's line of vision. She had removed all of her clothing already. Zack had gotten behind the camera that he had set up, and turned it on. That had surprised Stephanie, but she just smiled at the camera, and continued. She moved across the bed until she was directly behind Claudia. Keeping an arm's distance away from her, she reached out and began to massage Claudia's shoulders. Claudia's head automatically tilted backward, and her eyes closed. In that position, she couldn't see anything anyway, and Stephanie moved in closer. Claudia's head rested against Stephanie's shoulder, and Steph looked down at the beautiful face of her friend, eyes closed, mouth parted slightly. Stephanie could no longer resist her urge.

-----

Though the feeling had been somewhat different from Zack's usual touch, it had not been unpleasant, and Claudia had let herself go in the touch of the massage. Her eyes closed, and she enjoyed the feel of it all. Her head was propped up by a shoulder, and the massage continued. The hands moved down her body, sliding down onto her breasts. The caress was soft and sensuous, causing her nipples to go erect. It felt so different from Zack's usual touch. She was about to open her eyes when she felt lips press against hers, a tongue sliding between her already parted lips. Her natural reaction was to return the kiss, and she did, pressing her lips into her partner's, letting their tongues dance. It did not take her long, however, to realize that this was not Zack she was kissing, but indeed, it was a girl. Claudia had never ventured into the world of girl-girl sex, but she was certainly enjoying her first foray. The hand on her breast continued its soft nuzzling, and she moaned into the mouth she was kissing. Another hand moved around her body, to begin undoing the blouse she was wearing. Her breath quickened as she felt the cool air on her bare flesh, her breasts and abdomen now exposed to the air, for she had not worn a bra.

Claudia kept her eyes closed as her partner's hands gently fondled her tits, tweaking each of her nipples, and cupping the breasts. Her partner broke the kiss, and slid her mouth along her cheek to her ear. In a whisper, the girl said, "Keep your eyes closed." Claudia just nodded. She felt her body tilt backwards, as she was laid onto the bed. The girl moved down her body, kissing and licking skin as she went. Claudia moaned out loud as the girl's mouth covered one of her nipples, her tongue sliding wetly over the tip of the nipple, sending shivers up Claudia's spine. She felt the girl's hand undoing her jeans, reaching in to move toward Claudia's now-soaked crotch. The girl's fingers brushed against Claudia's pussy outside her panties. Then, the fingers gently pulled the fabric aside, and the delicate fingers of another girl were probing Claudia's pussy lips.

Though Claudia was dying to know whom Zack had gotten to do this to her, she had promised to play along, and so she kept her eyes tightly shut. She sighed softly as the girl's mouth left her tit, and then she felt hands tugging at her pants. She raised her hips to let both her jeans and her panties slide down off her hips, feeling them pulled completely down and off her legs, along with her shoes and socks. She was completely naked before this girl now, and she felt a hot breath blowing against her inner thigh. Her legs were gently pushed apart as fingers probed lightly against her pussy.

Claudia mewed in anticipation as she felt the hot breath come closer to her cunt. She wanted to feel more contact then the delicate pressure of the girl's fingers. She circled her hips, trying to move closer to the contact she so desired. Her body convulsed in pleasure at the first contact of a warm, wet tongue sliding across her inner lips, up toward her clit. The tongue stopped just short, and slithered back down. Claudia groaned in frustrated arousal. Once again the tongue rose toward her clit, only to stop short once again, slipping back again toward her opening. Again and again, the girl tormented Claudia in this way. Repeatedly, Claudia groaned, louder each time, her hips beginning to thrust at the mouth of her torturer. She was burning with the need for climax. Her body was on fire.

Finally, the girl's mouth slid up, and sucked in Claudia's clit. The girl's tongue flicked rapidly across her clit, and Claudia could take no more. Her shouts and cries of ecstasy filled the room. Her body was wracked with spasm after spasm. She writhed on the bed in the throes of an immense orgasm. She bucked and screamed throughout her orgasm, and the girl held on, not letting that clit out of her mouth for one second. It only sent Claudia higher into bliss.

Claudia eventually came down from her peak, and the girl moved up Claudia's body to kiss her again. Once again, their tongues mingled, and Claudia tasted her own juices on the tongue of another girl. Her pussy tingled from the mere thought of it.

The girl broke their kiss, and again her mouth moved to Claudia's ear. "You can open your eyes now, Claudia."

Claudia's eyes opened, and she was shocked to be peering into the warm eyes of her best friend, Stephanie! Claudia's shocked expression was slowly replaced by an intimate smile. Stephanie slowly lowered her mouth onto Claudia's, and they kissed passionately, Claudia embracing Stephanie tightly, and their bodies mashed together.

When they parted, Claudia finally spoke. "I guess it's my turn, huh?" Stephanie just grinned. Claudia turned herself around, so that she faced Stephanie's neatly-trimmed pussy. Claudia had never before looked at another girl's cunt, and was fascinated how the lips parted slightly in Stephanie's arousal. Tentatively, she leaned in and ran her tongue gingerly across the opening of Stephanie's pussy lips. Stephanie shuddered and moaned in approval.

Not needing further encouragement, Claudia began to lick Stephanie's twat with gusto. She listened carefully to Stephanie's reactions, learning what aroused her, and what did little. Quickly, she became familiar with Stephanie's preferences, and her tongue darted into all of the right places. Stephanie began to moan continually, writhing under Claudia's tongue.

Stephanie could not let her friend do all the work, and so she reached over and pulled Claudia's pussy to her own mouth, once again using her tongue to bring her friend pleasure. Then she inserted a finger up Claudia's pussy, and twisted it. Claudia immediately jerked on top of Stephanie, faced with another powerful orgasm. But neither of them stopped; they were lost in the joy of it.

Zack could take only so much of this kind of viewing before he had to get in on the act. He had been moving around the couple on the bed, completely ignored as he got the best footage he could of them making love. He had no other plans for the tape than to watch it later, or maybe to show it to Brian. But right now, he wanted his own little piece of the action.

He undressed himself completely before he approached. He could see that Claudia's cunt was being pummeled with three of Steph's fingers, and so he approached the other side of the bed.

Seeing a hard dick in her line of view, Claudia looked up to see Zack put a finger to his lips. She smiled up at him and nodded slightly, sucking his dick into her mouth for several strokes to get him fully lubed. Then she moved herself slightly so that he had access. She guided his prick in to his target, placing the head of it right at Steph's opening. Zack pushed, and his dick slowly slipped deeper and deeper into Stephanie's cunt. Steph moaned into Claudia's pussy, and Claudia had another mini-orgasm on the spot. Zack began to thrust slowly in and out of Stephanie, and her body began to respond eagerly to his movement. As her hips started to thrust up at him, Claudia moved off of Stephanie, turning around to kiss her. Claudia's hand massaged Stephanie's tits and stomach as Zack pounded into Steph's pussy.

Stephanie was in sensory overload. She was receiving pleasure from almost every part of her body, and she couldn't stand it anymore. She screamed and bucked and twisted in her final, mind-wrenching orgasm. She flailed on the bed so that Claudia backed off to avoid getting hit, but Zack continued to stroke into her, fucking her all the way through her climax. After she began to come down, she went almost limp, and he pulled out of her, not wanting to stress her any more than she had been.

Luckily, Claudia was more than willing to take up where Steph had left off. She got up on her hands and knees and wagged her ass at him. He needed no further cue, and he placed his cock to her pussy and pressed in. She was tight, but well-lubed, and he slipped in easily, taking a few strokes before entering her all the way. He paused for only a moment before he began rutting into her with wild abandon. Her head flung back in a silent scream of pleasure, he grunted with each thrust as he pushed faster and faster, hanging onto her hips for better leverage.

It wasn't long before they both exploded in orgasm, their bodies captured in the throes of passion. They rode the wave together, and it crashed for them at the same time. As they came down, they lay down next to each other on the bed. Zack wrapped his arms around her, and cupped one breast in his hand. She snuggled back against him, and they fell asleep, content with the night's fun.

-----

Stephanie woke them a couple hours later, noting that it was late, and that she and Claudia needed to get home. He kissed them both as they left, and he was considering going back to sleep. But then he remembered that there was something he wanted to do.

He had been studying self-defense techniques over the past several days. He decided to use his program to help ingrain the more immediately useful ones into his brain. The only way he'd figured to do this was to read through the information, run the program for permanent memory, and then to read through the information again. He only hoped it would work.

The program ran for its customary four minutes for the computer version, and then it shut down. He re-read the information, and then he got undressed and went to bed.

∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼∼≈≡≈∼∼

Zack woke up feeling quite refreshed and satisfied. He'd had a dreamless night of sleep, and he felt great. He showered and got ready for school, and had a little breakfast. He was surprised, however, to see Stephanie outside to take him to school. He kissed her good-morning before asking, however.

"I asked Claudia if I could. I wanted to thank you for last night. It was a dream come true for me. I don't know how I can every repay you for that."

"Don't worry about it, Steph. That's what friends are for."

She smiled over at him, and then returned her eyes to the road.

-----

School was another dull day, up until lunch. He found his usual pair waiting for him at his table, plus two others.

"Hey, Brian. Hi, Pam," he said in greeting. They both returned the salutations.

"Zack, have you got that, um... that video you wanted my parents to see?" Brian didn't know how to say it without breaking a secret.

"Oh, sure. I'd almost forgot. I finished... duping it yesterday." He handed the cassette over to Brian, who put it into his book bag.

"Trading porn, Zack?" Sarah snorted. She had walked up to the table, and her face showed disgust at having to be near two sophomores today. "Pam, why in the world would you be sitting with him?"

"He's my brother. Do I need another reason?" she asked simply.

Sarah snorted again, as if the very notion were ludicrous. She returned her attention to Zack. "I know something's up with you, Griffin, and I'm going to catch you. You just wait."

"Give it a rest, Sarah," Stephanie said. "Look, I was just messing with you earlier. Zack is a really great guy, and that's why I like being around him." Zack loved her at that moment, if only for the attempt. He knew it wouldn't work, of course.

"Bullshit. He's got you all brainwashed, or doped up, or something. And I'm going to tell the whole school, as soon as I find out."

She almost turned to go before Zack's mischievous streak kicked in. "Oh, Sarah," he called. She turned in a huff.

"What?" she snarled.

He motioned her to come closer. He leaned right into her face, and, keeping his expression open and friendly, he said, "I'm not saying that I did anything to these girls, but," he paused for dramatic effect, and his face took on a slightly sinister cast. "If I did do something, then I'd watch myself if I were you... or you might be next!" He said this last in a dead whisper, and then kissed her lightly on the cheek. He sat back in his seat, his face returned to its open and friendly demeanor.

Sarah stood upright, shocked both at what he'd said, and what he'd done. "How dare...! You little...!" Finally, regaining some of her composure, she threatened, "You'll pay for this, Zackary Griffin."

"Have a nice day, Sarah," he quipped.

-----

"Is everything ready?" the man asked.

"Sir, you've asked me that twenty times already. Yes, we are set here."

"He's not home yet?"

"Sir, school just let out a minute and a half ago," William answered resignedly. His boss was like a little kid on Christmas.

-----

Claudia dropped Zack at his house, and they made some plans for the weekend before she kissed him good-bye and drove off. Zack let himself in the house, and went to his room to change. He had just pulled his shirt on when someone knocked at the door. He put his shoes on and tied them before going to answer the door, during which time the person had knocked twice more. All right, already!

Zack opened the door to be confronted with two men, one dressed casually in a pair of slacks and a pullover shirt, the other wearing a dark gray business suit and a black tie. They were both wearing sunglasses. The one in casual clothing spoke.

"Are you Zack Griffin?"

"Yeah..." Zack answered, drawing it out, as if unsure whether to answer, and hoping for more information.

"I'd like a few moments of your time, if I may. I think you and I need to talk."

"About what?" Zack asked. He wasn't about to let strangers into the house "just to talk".

"About a certain computer program you've been working on."

Oh, fucking shit and holy crap. Zack's face went pale, which told the men most certainly that they had the right person. Zack, of course, tried to deny it.

"I... I don't know what you're talking about," his stuttering put the lie to his words.

"Zack, I know you know what I'm talking about. We tracked you here."

"Who the hell are you?" Zack demanded.

"I'm Adam."

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