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Episode 14: War of the Minds, Part II

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Zack woke up slowly, and stretched. Unusually, he was alone. He hadn't wanted company the previous night, after the stress of releasing everyone.

Or at least, everyone who would let me. The more he thought about it, the more he wondered about the three who hadn't allowed him to release them. Wendy, in fact, was not under his control, he knew. He had never programmed her to love him, he had only programmed her to do something that had never come to fruition anyway. He had also, at her request, removed her jealousy.

He knew that he'd programmed his mother, but he'd not told her to get aroused by him, he'd only told her to let him do what he wanted. He knew that an error in programming had caused her to become a sexual dynamo, and he had become her target because... why?

Well, he had to admit it was probably because he'd been able to provide for her all the things that her husband never had. He could and would continue doing that; the program still had its uses, if one was careful about it.

Mary was the most confusing. He didn't think he'd programmed her to become his partner. He wasn't sure about the course of events that led to their relationship, but he didn't really think it was his doing. Or at least, it wasn't PAO's doing. He thought that perhaps she'd had some feelings before the program, and when he'd taken a chance to reach out to her, the program had allowed her to let go and take him as a lover.

As he thought over all of this, he realized just how lucky he was. Even without the program, he'd managed to get three women who would sleep with him. Angela was a surprise to him; he had expected her to be as angry as Jill had been. He wanted to talk with her about that, but he didn't yet have the time. Terry was also a surprise, but not as big a one; he had saved her from a life with Adam, and she probably saw things pragmatically: better the nice bastard than the evil one.

Stephanie had floored him the night before when she'd asked to be put back under. He didn't entirely understand why she had chosen that, but he'd done as she had asked. She was much happier when he left, however, and for him, that was good enough.

He stretched again, and got out of bed to start his day. He had to deal with Adam, but how?

-----

It wasn't until after lunch when Gabrielle showed up. Unlike him, she was trying to maintain her presence at their summer program. Zack had just about given up getting a passing grade, as he had missed most of the previous week, and was likely to miss more time in the next week. He shook off the thought as they sat down to discuss things.

"So, what now?" she asked.

"Adam has to pay for what he's done. I'm just not sure exactly what to do."

"Well, there's the obvious," she offered.

"What's 'the obvious'?"

"He tried to kill you. So kill him."

Zack stared at her, trying to figure out if she was serious. "Um... I'm not really the killing type... I've never even fired a gun."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "He sent 'people' after you. So send someone after him. You have servants in Belleville, don't you?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess I do. They're not the killing type, either, but they'd probably do it if I told them to."

"So, call one of them up and take this bastard out."

"Okay. I'll have to set some things up, so we can be sure of what happens."

-----

Zack and Gabrielle sat in front of the monitor, watching. On the screen was a video image. For the moment, it showed someone's hands on a steering wheel, driving down a street. Shortly, the person turned into the Adamant Computers parking lot, and turned off the car.

The man, whose name Zack couldn't even recall, got out of the car, and walked toward the building. The gun he had purchased on the street less than twenty minutes before was nestled in the small of his back, hidden by a lab coat. The guard at the front door barely gave him a second glance.

Inside the building, the programmer signed in, and said hello to the guard. This guard gave him a closer look, but it was still cursory. He visually checked out everyone that walked in the door, and he didn't scrutinize this person any more than anyone else. The gun was hidden well enough not to be noticed, and the wireless camera was designed to look like a pen that sat in his pocket, peeking out at the world.

The man walked to the elevator and pressed the button. This was the first indication to anyone that something was out of the ordinary. The button he pressed was not for the floor his office was on. He pressed the button for the fourth floor. What confused Zack for a moment was that this was not the floor Adam's office was on. There was, however, no way for him to communicate with his minion, so he just had to hope the guy knew what he was doing.

The elevator took the programmer up to the fourth floor and he stepped out, looking around casually. No one confronted him, even though this was not his department. The man found a restroom and went inside to wash his hands. They saw him in the mirror, looking at himself. It was clear he was preparing himself mentally for something he never thought he would do.

After a few tense moments, the man moved back to the hallway, and headed to the stairwell. They realized that he had figured out that going straight to the third floor might be risky, and that if he went to his normal office on the second floor, someone might recognize and remember him. The programmer was no fool.

Stepping out of the stairwell into the third-floor corridor, he moved to the right. He was within ten feet of Adam's office door when it opened. The man was quite surprised to see a blue-shirted guard standing in the doorway, looking at him.

The man turned, and two more guards exited the elevator. A fourth guard came out of a room behind the elevator pair. The man knew that he was not going to be able to complete his task, but he didn't really understand why.

"That's far enough, Jarrod. Keep your hands where we can see them, and don't make any sudden moves." The guard moved toward him while the others kept their hands on their guns, ready to draw in an instant if he did anything foolish.

"I guess it's a good thing that we installed those detectors in the elevators, sir," William said, now standing in the doorway to Adam's office.

"Apparently," Adam replied, controlling his rage. "I can't believe that Griffin thought he'd get away with this!"

"He almost did, sir," one of the other guards said as Jarrod was being cuffed. "The detector didn't get a clear read on the gun, and it was really only because he did something out of the norm that we caught him."

"Then I expect you to beef up security!" Adam snapped, and headed back into his office. The guards looked at each other, unsure of how they could secure the building any further without calling in the military.

As they took Jarrod away down the hall, Zack turned to Gabrielle and said, "Fuck."

"Well, Plan A failed. Guess it's time for Plan B?"

"What the hell is Plan B?" Zack demanded.

"Good question. I don't know."

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When Gabrielle awoke the next morning, she looked over to see Zack hard at work at the computer. She wondered if, after their long rounds of sex, he had gotten any sleep at all. He showed every sign of having been up for quite a while.

She yawned softly and rolled out of bed to pad off to the bathroom. When she came back, Zack was still working away. She walked over and wrapped her arms around his neck, pushing her naked breasts against the back of his head. She kissed the top of his head in greeting.

"Hey. How long you been awake?" she asked.

"A couple hours."

"Like...nine?" she said.

He blushed. "Six," he said after consulting the clock. "I had an idea for... well, it's not really Plan B, but it's a plan."

"Okay..."

She could tell she wasn't going to get much more out of him. She got dressed and headed downstairs to get breakfast.

-----

"So what's it do?" she asked.

"It's a... hmmm. I guess it's a virus program, except that it requires humans to spread it."

"But what does it do?" she asked again.

"A couple things. First, it tells the people who see it to spread it. Second, it informs them that Adamant Computers is attempting a mind-control experiment on the general population of the country. Then it tells them to seek out Adam Sandalwood and punish him for what he has done."

"So, you're just going to let the country deal with him?"

"No. What I'm going to do is to set this up on like a dozen different sites that are high-traffic. I'm going to set them up not to run for... like a week. Unless I turn them off, a week from now these programs will run, and the word will be out about Adam. This is an insurance policy."

"Why not just use it to get rid of Adam? He can't stop everybody..."

"Because I don't want innocent bystanders to get killed unless there's no other way to stop Adam."

"You have to know that Jarrod guy is probably dead..."

"Yeah, but he was working for the company. That means he's not an innocent. He sure as hell wasn't a bystander."

"Okay, fair enough. So when are you going to release it?"

"As soon as I finish working up the script. It's trickier than most, because of having to impart knowledge, rather than just giving commands. I mean, people are just going to suddenly 'know' this. That's tricky."

Gabrielle nodded. "I can see where that would cause a problem. You need any help?"

"Probably, but I can't see how to divide the task up so two people can work on it."

"Okay. Well, I'll be downstairs if you need me. I don't want to be in your hair while you work."

"Thanks. I appreciate it."

"No problem."

-----

Gabrielle came back upstairs after another four hours, to find Zack still working.

"Aren't you done yet?" she asked, surprised.

"Just about. I'm just compiling the new program now, and getting out the bugs."

"Why do you need to recompile? I thought it was just a script thing..."

Zack shook his head. "I had to make a program that fit on a webpage, and that I could make sit and wait for a week."

"Oh," she said, understanding dawning on her. "So you had to rewrite the whole program?"

"Not the whole thing. Just some bits and pieces."

"Does it still work?"

"Yeah, I already tested it. That took up twenty minutes..."

"Cool. So what's next?"

"Uploading it. That, you can help with."

"Let's do it."

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"Mr. Griffin. How nice to see you back in class. Would you care to explain your absences of last week?" his instructor asked.

"Sorry, sir. A young lady who lives with us was seriously injured and hospitalized. I was trying to take care of matters at home."

"I see. Are matters resolved now? You realize there are still two weeks left in this program, and these last weeks are the most important."

"I know that, sir. I will hopefully be able to attend classes more regularly for the remainder of the term."

"Good. Now, let's get started. The last two weeks are for your final project, which will be as follows..."

Gabrielle leaned over and said, "You know you're going to miss a couple more days..."

"I'm hoping not too many."

"We can work on your project together."

"Thanks."

"Miss Riddick, are you done chatting?" the teacher demanded. Gabrielle blushed crimson.

"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir."

"Good." The teacher continued talking, and both Gabrielle and Zack paid better attention. Other issues could wait.

-----

Back at the house, most of the girls were just lounging about, as was Brian. He sat on the couch with Bonnie, who was nibbling on his neck as he watched a movie. He liked his new life, though he was aware that there were some dark aspects of it.

One of those dark aspects was roaring down the street at high speed. As the car rounded the corner, the passenger in the front rolled down his window. As they neared the Griffin house, he turned in his seat and aimed his Uzi out the window. He opened fire as they passed in front of the house, peppering it with an entire magazine of thirty bullets.

Inside the house, the shattering of the window was the first real indication of trouble. Brian immediately screamed, "Everybody down!" and dove for the floor, knocking over the coffee table in the process.

Bonnie was not quite so rapid in her moves. She made the mistake of standing to get clear of the couch, and a bullet ripped through the window and tore into her arm. She screamed in pain, clutching at her arm, and sank to her knees in shock and fright. This saved her life as another round passed just over her head.

Brian cursed, seeing the blood flowing from Bonnie's arm. He crawled over to her and pulled her all the way onto the floor, trying to protect her. He heard the car's engine roaring at full speed as the gunmen drove away. Brian had no idea who they were, but he was sure that Zack would know what was going on. The two of them had not communicated much over the summer, since Brian was busy dating his sisters, and Zack was off doing different things. Brian thought maybe it was time to catch up with Zack and find out what was going on.

After a minute or so, he heard another scream. He looked up to see his mother standing in the doorway, looking at her daughter.

"Is she..." Mary started to ask.

"It's just her arm. Call an ambulance," Brian said, sounding much cooler than he felt. Bastards.

-----

That evening, the family gathered around, and Zack explained, in detail, exactly what was going on. He did not reveal anything about the program that wasn't already known. He did not, for instance, tell Pam that she was programmed to be her brother's eternal sex slave.

Brian ranted for a while, but not at Zack. He was angry that someone had shot his sister. Finally, he calmed down and turned to Zack. "So what are we going to do about it?"

Zack sighed audibly. "We aren't going to do anything. Apparently, I'm going to have to go deal with Adam personally."

His mother immediately asked, "Isn't that dangerous?"

"Yeah, it is. But so is not dealing with him."

"Zack, I worry..."

"I know. Gabrielle, you want to go with me? Up to you. If you want to back out now, I won't say anything."

"Fuck that shit. I'm going. But... can we take a couple other people?"

"Who, and for what?" Zack asked, confused.

"Um... stress relief."

Zack smiled. "What am I, chopped liver?" he asked.

Gabrielle blushed. "I'm trying to wean myself off you, since we have to separate in a couple weeks." The rest of the group chuckled at the way she'd worded that, and Zack blushed slightly.

"Oh. Okay. Um, yeah, you can bring along someone, if you have someone in mind."

"Can I go with you, Zack?" Wendy asked.

Zack fidgeted. He didn't want Wendy anywhere near the danger zone, but if he was going to take anybody, it would be her. He nodded, still unsure it was the right thing to do. She came over to him and hugged him.

"When do we leave?" Gabrielle asked.

"Tomorrow night. I don't want to miss more class than I have to. We'll fly up, sleep in a hotel, and then deal with him on Wednesday. We'll come back Wednesday night, if we survive."

"That's not funny, Zack," Brian cautioned.

"I'm not being funny. If we don't beat this guy, we're probably going to be dead. It's that serious. Just ask Shirley."

The family grew very quiet at that.

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"You seem to be awfully busy today, Mr. Griffin," the instructor said, looking over his shoulder. Zack hit a key combination to hide the screen. He hadn't been working on his school project, after all.

"I have a lot to catch up on," Zack said, looking up at him.

"Yes, you certainly do. You... will be attending class from now on?" he asked.

"As best I can, sir," Zack said, glancing over at Gabrielle, who was looking at the teacher now.

"That's not terribly reassuring, Mr. Griffin," the teacher said, frowning.

"I'm sorry, sir. But my family comes first."

"Quite."

As the instructor moved off, Gabrielle leaned over and asked, "What's his problem?"

Zack shrugged. "He's a teacher. He has to gripe when you skip his class."

Gabrielle giggled, but then got back to work.

-----

As the teens flew over Kentucky, Wendy finally began to express her fears.

"Zack, is this really going to be... I mean, could you really..."

"Yeah. This Adam guy is a nasty sonofabitch. I didn't really want to let you get this close to him."

"Then why did you let me come?"

"Because you asked, and I can't say no to you." He smiled at her, and she kissed him softly. Gabrielle was keeping herself occupied in another part of the plane with her friend who she'd introduced as Oliver.

-----

"What are we doing now?" Gabrielle asked.

"Arranging transportation for tomorrow night."

"What if we're not back in time?"

Zack looked at her pointedly and said, "What if we're not back at all?" He pointed to the other two, and Gabrielle got the message.

"Right."

They made the necessary arrangements with a pilot, and then they headed to their hotel to relax.

-----

Zack led Wendy into their hotel room, and shut the door. Gabrielle and Oliver were staying in the next room, with an adjoining door. He made sure that door was unlocked, in case of emergencies, but closed it, for privacy.

Wendy sat down on the bed and stretched, taking off her shoes and socks and then lying back on the bed. She watched Zack out of the corner of her eye as he moved around the room, setting his stuff down where he wanted it. She didn't rise from the bed until he went into the bathroom.

When Zack came out of the bathroom, Wendy had removed her jeans, leaving her large T-shirt to cover her panties. It didn't do the best of jobs at this. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. She turned her head up to look him in the eyes, and then she pressed her lips to his. The kiss was soft, yet passionate. Her tongue soon slipped out of her mouth, requesting entry into his.

Zack parted his lips and his tongue greeted hers. The couple embraced each other more tightly as their tongues danced. Wendy ran her hand up through his hair, and pressed her body as strongly against him as she could. Zack held her by her waist, pulling her against him. It was as if they were each trying to meld their bodies into one.

Finally, Zack broke their kiss. He looked down at his girlfriend, and smiled gently.

"Love you, Angel," he said softly.

"Love you, too. I'm worried about tomorrow."

"I know. So am I."

"But at least we have tonight. Make love to me."

Zack kissed her again, letting his hands drop slightly, and then he moved them up underneath her shirt. She mewed softly as his fingers caressed her bare skin. Zack broke their kiss so he could begin nibbling on her jaw. He moved his mouth slowly along her jaw line, and then slid up to her ear. As he took her lobe between his lips, she shivered.

Meanwhile, Zack's hands slid further up her back, pulling her shirt with them. She moved her own hands to his shoulders, to let him do what he was doing. Once his hands had reached as far up as they could comfortably go, he let go of her earlobe and stepped back slightly. Wendy raised her arms as he pulled on her shirt, tugging it off over her head.

As the shirt fell to the floor, the couple moved back together, embracing strongly once again. Zack's hands were quick to find the clasp on Wendy's bra, and he unhooked it with practiced ease. It was a long moment before the bra fell to the floor, as they didn't want to end their embrace just yet. Finally, however, it was slid off her arms and dropped silently to the carpet.

Zack took Wendy's hand and led her over to the bed, gently easing her down onto it. He took no time at all to remove most of his own clothes, leaving himself just in briefs. Settling onto the bed beside her, he ran his hand along Wendy's stomach, then let it move up to cup one of her breasts.

Wendy closed her eyes and sighed at his touch, enjoying how his fingers massaged her tit, and how his hand molded the flesh of her body. She felt him shift, and then she shuddered in pleasure as his tongue ran across one of her nipples. She moaned softly as his lips encircled the nubbin, sucking and tugging on it while his tongue fluttered across it.

As Zack moved his mouth over to her other breast, Wendy moaned again, louder this time. She arched her back, and Zack began to suck on her breast while his tongue continued to lavish attention on her nipple.

After a long moment of pure bliss, Wendy pushed Zack away. She continued to gently push on him until he rolled onto his back. Once he was there, she moved down his body and took hold of his underwear. Ever so gently, she pulled them out, away from his body, and then down off his hips. Zack lifted up to help her, and soon the garment was tossed to the floor with the rest of the clothing.

Wendy turned back to look at Zack's hard, waiting cock. She bit her lip in desire, more than ready for what was to come. She crouched lower over him on all fours, and ran her tongue along the entire length of his dick. Zack groaned in pleasure as she repeated the motion. She then began to kiss his shaft, up and down, until Zack was trembling with anticipation. Finally, she moved her mouth up to the head of his cock and slowly parted her lips to let it pass between. She made feathery-light contact until she had as much of him in her mouth as she could take. Then she closed her lips over his cock and began to suck.

Zack grunted loudly at the pleasure this induced, and was barely able to think as she began to slide her mouth up and down on his pole. He was gripping the sheet, the tension in his body building as he rose toward climax. Wendy didn't slow down her assault on his manhood, adding her tongue to the mix, sliding it back and forth against the underside of his shaft.

It didn't take very much of this before Zack lost control. With a final, loud groan, he pushed his hips upward and spewed his load of cum deep into her mouth. Wendy continued to suck on him until each and every drop of his seed had been ejected, then swallowed. She tongued the head of his dick, cleaning off any final drops before letting it slip from between her lips.

Zack was breathing like a race horse, but he wasn't about to let her get away with that. As she slid up to lie beside him on the bed, he rolled so that he was on top of her. She smiled up at him as he kissed her gently, then he began to slide down her body, kissing as he went.

Zack paid only cursory homage to Wendy's tits, as they had already been lavished with attention. By the time he made his way to her navel, she was already writhing, anyway. As his tongue swiped across her inner thigh, she shuddered. When he made contact with her pussy lips, she cried out in joy and rocked her hips, pushing her pussy against his tongue.

Rolling his tongue, Zack pushed it as deep as he could inside Wendy's pussy. As he moved his stiffened tongue in and out of her, she cried out again. Zack continued to fuck her with his tongue, wiggling the tip of it when he was fully inside her. He knew that she was approaching her own orgasm, as he could barely hang on to her. He pulled his tongue out of her pussy, and slipped it upwards, flitting it across her clit as he breathed gently across her pubes.

That was all Wendy could take. A loud scream ushered from her mouth as her body shuddered, lost in the throes of orgasm. Zack held on for the ride, continuing to lick her clit as she bucked and shivered through her climax.

After a long moment, Wendy began to come down from her high. She was the one breathing hard now, and Zack smiled as he moved up her body. He leaned down to kiss her tenderly, but she embraced him and mashed her mouth against his. Soon their tongues were dueling once again, and it didn't take much of this before Zack was once again hard and ready to go.

Without breaking their kiss, Zack maneuvered himself between Wendy's legs. He slipped against her, and his cockhead rubbed across her pussy lips. Wendy moaned as she felt it. Zack did it again, and she moaned louder, tightening her grip on him. He got the message.

Reaching down, Zack adjusted himself. His next push caused his cock to slide into Wendy's pussy. She moaned even louder, but broke her hold on him as her body quivered at the sensations.

Zack inched his way into her until he was buried to the balls in her pussy. Then he began to stroke into her. He didn't bother starting out slow, as they were both well beyond the need of warming up. He began to thrust into her hard, and she bucked her hips back at him just as hard. The two were rutting together like animals, their passions burning like a bonfire.

The two continued to couple like that, fucking wildly, for long moments. Finally, Wendy broke their kiss and made Zack slow down. He did, and then looked at her questioningly.

"I want to be on top," she said with a smile.

Zack grinned back at her, and then leaned down to embrace her. Without taking his cock out of her pussy, he rolled over, so that she was now on top of him. Wendy moved to a kneeling position, looking down at her lover. As Zack's hands came up to fondle her tits, she began to buck on his cock.

As Wendy regained her full rhythm, Zack's hips bucked up at her in synch with her motions. His fingers twisted and tugged at her nipples, causing her to moan and cry out in bliss. They had soon matched, and then exceeded, their earlier fever pitch as they both rose toward climax.

Wendy got there first, screaming out and bucking wildly on Zack's cock. Her pussy massaged his prick, sending tingles of pleasure throughout his body. Zack was pushed to the edge, and then over it, as his own body began to contort with the massive climax that washed over him. He loosed his cum deep into Wendy, their movements now uncoordinated as they each rode the wave of pleasure until it crashed.

Finally, the lovers began to descend from their high. Wendy lay down on Zack's chest, and he embraced her. It wasn't long before the two of them fell asleep in each other's arms.

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Gabrielle and Zack met early the next morning in the coffee shop across the street from their hotel. Their partners were not with them.

"You look relaxed," Zack said to Gabrielle with a smile.

"And you sure sounded it last night," she replied with an arched eyebrow. The two shared a knowing look.

"How did you meet him, anyway?"

"He's our RA."

"Your what?"

"Resident Assistant. Like a dorm mother, except that he's a normal college student. He lives in my dorm."

"But your dorm is..."

"Normally co-ed. It's the program that imposes this stupid segregation on us."

"Ah. Wonder why they didn't pick a dorm with a female RA, then."

"They're in use. We asked him."

"Bet he's had a fun summer," Zack said with a smile.

Gabrielle stuck her tongue out at him, then grew serious. "When are we going to go?"

"After breakfast. It may be your last meal, so make it a good one."

Gabrielle looked at him funny, but then picked up her menu and looked it over. Zack did the same.

Breakfast was a quiet affair.

-----

Zack parked the rental car in the parking lot of the business across the street from Adamant Computers. He was sure that the security guards paid more attention to those who arrived by car than those who arrived by foot.

"You ready?" he asked Gabrielle. She adjusted her hat and nodded.

Zack also had on a hat, and sunglasses. He didn't really think it would fool anyone, but they were wearing overalls and carrying tool boxes, to look like maintenance workers, at least from a distance, to a casual observer.

They weren't counting on many casual observers today.

They crossed the street, and walked onto Adamant property. As they approached the doors, Gabrielle took a deep breath, and let it out.

Zack said solemnly, "Abandon all hope, oh ye who enter here."

Gabrielle looked at him, and she couldn't help but giggle.

"Once more onto the beach! Uh, into the breach!" Zack said. Gabrielle laughed out loud.

"Knock it off. We'll get caught," she said, but her smile didn't fade.

"Whatever happens, it was good working with you," Zack said.

"You, too."

The two walked into the building, feeling very much as if they had just entered the gates of Hell itself.

-----

As the doors to the third floor opened, Zack and Gabrielle were surprised. They had truly expected to be accosted long before now. They had left on their disguises because they knew that the hallway was monitored. The two walked as casually as they could down the hall toward Adam's office. They entered, to find the secretary missing. Zack looked at Gabrielle, who shrugged.

"Coffee break, maybe?"

"Let's hope."

They continued walking, and opened the door to Adam's office. They then found his secretary, beneath him and screaming rather loudly in ecstasy.

"I do hope we're not interrupting anything important," Zack said snidely.

Adam looked up in shock to see Zack standing there with a girl as he fucked his secretary, as he had every morning since she'd become his slave. That she had a husband wasn't important to Adam; he liked fucking her.

"What the fuck... are you doing here?" Adam gasped. He was out of breath from his exertions.

"Just came to settle a score," Zack said. He walked over to the far door, which led to William's office. Meanwhile, Adam got off his secretary, who made little effort to cover herself, unlike Adam.

"William, I need you in here a minute," Zack said sternly. Zack walked away from the door, and William was soon inside the room. He ignored the secretary in such a way that Zack knew he'd seen her nude before.

Adam had regained most of his composure. "It was foolish of you to come back here, Zachary."

"Not really. Keep your hands away from your desk."

"Or what? You don't look armed."

"I'm not. But William is, aren't you, Will?"

William reached into his jacket and pulled out a 9mm Beretta.

"Will, if Adam moves, shoot him."

William started to point at Adam, but then his hand swung around and he was pointing squarely at Zack.

"I don't think so," William said matter-of-factly.

"What the-?" Zack inquired of no one in particular.

"Oh, did you try to program William, Zachary? I guess I should have told you that he, like most of my inner circle, have an unbreakable code in their head. As do I, so don't bother trying to program me, either. Now-"

At that moment, a book went sailing through the air. It hit William squarely in the face, breaking his nose. As blood was gushing everywhere and Adam cursed, Gabrielle, who had thrown the book, grabbed Zack's hand and they bolted out the door into the hallway.

"Where are we going?" Zack asked as she ran for the stairs.

"Anywhere!"

They bolted down to the ground floor, only to find two armed guards standing at the front entrance. The guards luckily did not see them, and they snuck back into another office on the first floor.

Zack pointed to the camera in the corner of the room. "So long as those things can see us, they can find us in a heartbeat."

"They can't look at all of them all the time!" she said.

"They don't have to! All they have to do is follow us on the monitors!"

"Okay... then we need to disable some cameras in a hallway, and then duck into a random office or something!"

Zack was not optimistic.

"It's worth a shot!" she said. "You got a better idea?"

He didn't.

The two left the office and moved down the hallway toward the stairwell. As they went, they disabled every camera they came across. Just as they reached the stairwell door, they doubled back and entered an office. This office was occupied by a clerk. Instead of reprogramming the poor man, Zack's martial arts skills kicked in, and the man was suddenly unconscious, bleeding on the floor.

"I didn't know you could do that," Gabrielle said in awe.

"Yeah, well..."

Gabrielle walked over and disabled the camera. She then ran out of the room and Zack looked around while she was gone. There was no way out of this office except back into the hallway. There wasn't even a window.

Gabrielle was back in a few minutes. "There are more guards at the entrance now. I disabled the cameras in about five offices, but that's not going to stop them for long."

"No."

"What are we going to do?"

Zack sat down and tried to think. He wasn't sure what he could do, how he could escape.

"I didn't think this through very well," Zack said sourly.

"No time for that now!" Gabrielle snapped. They heard noises outside. Gabrielle walked over to the door and looked out. Three guards were entering the office down the hall from them, obviously searching it.

"Guards!" she hissed. "C'mon!"

The two bolted down the hallway. They actually ran past the guards, who were too focused on what they were doing, and missed the teens. The pair entered the stairwell again, and then Zack stopped dead. Gabrielle ran into him, almost knocking him over.

"What the fuck-" she started to say, but then she saw it, too.

"This stairwell's not on an outside wall," she said slowly.

"I know."

"So what is..."

"I don't know that. But we're going to find out."

What was in front of them was a door marked "Fire Exit". The alarm on the system was old, or at least looked to be old. Zack had no illusions that he could get through any sophisticated alarm system. This one, however, merely required him to yank on a wire.

"That can't be the only alarm," Gabrielle said.

"Maybe not, but we don't have very many choices now, do we?"

She agreed they didn't, and so they pushed open the doorway. There was no obvious alarm, though there was a light right over the door that was there to notify people the alarm had been triggered. They had no way to know if Adam was just being clever or not.

The two ran down the stairs that the door led to, and then stopped. Most of what they saw was empty space. They looked around quickly, trying to spot cameras or guards. There didn't seem to be any.

About two hundred feet away, there were three rooms that had lights on. Zack could not see any people, but they headed in that direction, running. When they got there, they confirmed their assessment: no one was down here. At least, not yet.

What was down here was a high-level computer system. Zack didn't know what the system connected to, and he had no time to figure it out. They could not stay near these rooms; they would have to find a good place to hide.

Leaving the computer rooms, they ran across the open space. The found a hallway, though it was getting hard to see anything, as dark as it was. They made their way more slowly down the hallway until they came to a doorway. Looking in, all they saw were crates and packing material.

"Why don't people throw this shit away?" Gabrielle asked.

"Be glad they don't. It's a good hiding place."

"I don't know... if they decide to search this room..."

"We'll hide near the back doorway."

Zack pointed, and they could both see a square of light on the far side of the room that indicated a hallway beyond. They moved over to it, and looked out. There was no one in this hallway, either.

The teens settled down between a crate and the wall, and breathed heavy sighs of relief. They knew they were still in deep shit, but at least they could stop running for a few minutes.

-----

"Where the fuck are they?" Adam demanded. Those around him wilted.

"They disabled the cameras in the first floor west hallway, and-" one of the guards tried. Adam cut him off at the knees.

"I know that, you moron! Where did they go after that?"

"Sir... we're... not sure."

"How the fuck do you lose two people in this building?"

No one had a ready answer for that.

"Get the fuck out!"

Adam's guards gladly got out of his office, leaving him and William alone.

-----

"We've got to find a way to take him down," Gabrielle said. When Zack didn't respond, she looked at him. She was about ready to nudge him, when she realized he was meditating.

At a time like this?

-----

"Welcome. You seem tense," Kate-maiden said to him. He wondered why his teacher was the one to come forward now, but he didn't have time to ponder it.

"I'm in mortal danger, of course I'm tense. I need to find a way to beat Adam. I've only got a few minutes to think it over. What do I know that I'm forgetting? Obviously, the program doesn't work on them."

"What you're forgetting is that the program is not your only weapon."

"Huh?"

Kate-maiden merely pointed. Zack mentally slapped himself. In the thick of things, he'd forgotten his secret weapon!

"Thank you."

"No problem," she said, and drifted off. Zack made his way back to consciousness.

-----

"Hell of a time to take a nap," Gabrielle said.

"I wasn't napping. I think I know what we have to do."

"What?"

-----

William paced, holding a cloth to his nose, and said, "Where was the last place they said he was seen?"

"In the first floor west hallway."

"Did they see them in the stairwell?"

"Not that they... what are you thinking?"

"The lab."

"It's mis-marked. And it has an alarm on it."

The mis-marking in this case might be to our detriment. And the primary alarm is accessible."

"But the secondary..."

"Only gets set off on your system, sir, and you've been too busy to notice whether it's gone off or not."

"Fuck." Adam slid over to his computer, and sure enough, there was a flashing indicator in his system tray. "Goddammit."

Adam and William left the office with three guards in tow.

-----

"You think that will work?" she asked.

"It's our only shot. I've got to try."

Just then, they heard the door to the stairwell open.

Zack closed his eyes and concentrated. He reached out with his mind, seeking his targets. He saw their patterns, and he slipped into the first one easily. He looked around quickly, seeing signs of programming, but it was simple, very easy to defeat. If he could have used PAO, this person would have easily been converted. Unfortunately, PAO wasn't an option right now.

Softly and quietly, Zack started a chant in the man's mind. <The guard next to you is plotting to shoot you in the back. Shoot him first.> He repeated this over and over, time and again.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle moved out of the room and down the hallway. She was still hidden, but could see what was happening, as the people were in the middle of the open area.

Zack continued his mental chant, and Gabrielle watched. Suddenly, one of the guards took his gun and pointed at another guard, firing rapidly three times to the head.

Everyone else in the room was stunned. The other guard, fearing for his own life, tried to draw his weapon to kill the murderous guard. That guard, however, already had his gun out, and there was no way to misinterpret the remaining guard's actions.

Figuring that he had simply not known that this remaining guard was in on the dead guard's plot, the murderous guard opened fire on him, as well. Another three shots, and there was only one armed guard left.

William attacked from the left, trying to take down the guard before he could kill anyone else. The guard got off one shot, just as William connected with his jaw. The guard went down, unconscious. William collapsed from the bullet wound to his groin. He was screaming in pain.

No one noticed Gabrielle sneaking across the room. There were pillars for her to hide behind, and she used them. It wouldn't have been effective in a well-lit area, or with people who weren't distracted, but right now, there was only one person who might notice her, and he was about to be distracted beyond the ability to notice anyone but Zack.

"Adam!" Zack called out from the far hallway. Zack clearly saw Gabrielle, and he needed to grab Adam's attention so that he didn't see her.

Adam's head snapped around, seeing his enemy standing in the hallway entrance. He began to walk over to him.

"You son of a bitch. I don't know how the hell you did that, but you're going to die here."

Gabrielle, with her opportunity, ran over and grabbed a gun. She was not familiar with them, and so she grabbed the one she knew didn't have the safety on. She stepped around William, who was in no condition to even see her, let alone stop her. She put herself between Adam and the guns, and waited.

Zack ignored Adam's tirade, which was ongoing, and closed his eyes. He found Adam's mind, and saw a similar wall to the one he had encountered with Linda. He knew this was going to be no easy task. The wall was not quite as secure, and not quite as high, so he felt he might be able to slip in unnoticed... If...

Zack pulled out his PDA and pulled up a relaxation script. He didn't know what Adam might have protected his mind from, or how, but this was worth a shot. He lifted up his PDA, and pressed Execute.

"...bury you someplace they'll nev-" Adam's voice cut off abruptly. Zack watched not visually, but with his mind. He saw the shudders of Adam's mind. He saw what looked like an earthquake. At that moment, Zack pushed forward with his own mind, seeking an entrance. He scrambled back and forth as Adam's defenses attempted to stop him, but they were shaken by fighting off the new program. A small opening went unprotected, and Zack found it, just in time, as the program ended.

"Your program isn't going to work on me, you ass," Adam said again. He didn't notice Zack's stillness.

Gabrielle did. "That's far enough, you piece of shit," she called out.

Adam turned around, and saw her pointing a gun at him.

"Come on, little girl. We both know you're not going to shoot me..."

Gabrielle fired.

Adam cringed, and nearly fell backward. The shot ricocheted off the wall. She had not hit him.

"Was that supposed to scare me?" Adam said with a smirk. "I don't scare that easily."

"No, it was supposed to hit you," she replied. "And my next shot will, so just stand still."

Meanwhile, Zack was worming his way through Adam's mind. He looked for a way to beat the defenses, or to simply tear down the wall. Zack knew that if he could beat the wall, he could beat Adam's mind. He didn't understand why Adam's wall had not collapsed under the weight of the new program: Linda's had. It wasn't, however, immediately important. What was important was finding a way to...

There! Zack said. He immediately pulled out of Adam's mind, and began furiously rewriting his script. He noted that Gabrielle currently had Adam's attention. That was good, because he needed Adam confused for another minute.

"You're not going to shoot me. You try to frighten me with a warning shot, but that's just bullshit," Adam said, starting to walk toward her. He noticed she wasn't firing at him, and figured that was proof of his accuracy.

Gabrielle ignored him, looking over at Zack. She saw him working on something, so she knew she needed to distract Adam for a little bit longer. She wasn't shooting at him because she didn't know how many bullets she had left.

Adam continued his blustering until he got about twenty feet from Gabrielle.

"So, just put down the damned weapon. I'm going to have my way."

"No," she said, leveling the gun at him. "You're not."

The shot rang loud in her ears. Adam cringed again, and this time he twisted around. Zack's head snapped up to see what had happened. He saw Gabrielle, standing with a gun aimed at Adam. He saw Adam suddenly grasp his shoulder.

Good timing.

Adam staggered, then fell to his knees because of the pain. As he did, Zack finished up the script, and walked over to Adam.

"Adam, meet Gabrielle. She's my programming partner." They watched Adam's eyes go wide. "Yeah, you didn't think I'd trust anyone quite that far, did you? And your spies never caught on."

"You'll never leave this building alive," Adam said through clenched teeth.

"Sure I will. I have the program, and you."

"You already tried to program me once. Obviously, it didn't work."

"You know what I always say. 'Try, try again'."

Zack raised his PDA and hit Execute.

Adam tried to turn away, but the version of PAO that Zack used was more powerful than any Adam had created. It was also faster. Adam's mental wall was a bit of psychological research that Zack had never glommed onto.

A minute later, Gabrielle was confused. "What's going on? It's only supposed to take ten seconds or so... Is your script that complex?"

Zack shook his head. "It's running the script over and over again. It's breaking down his internal wall one piece at a time. In another minute, I'll go in and watch. When his mental wall is gone, then I'll run the real script."

"Sneaky! How did you figure that out?"

"I saw the damage my script had done to his wall. We might want to punch up the strength of the program, to see if it can break this kind of thing on the first try, all the time."

"I thought you didn't want to use the program anymore."

"I don't want slaves anymore. I don't want people being hurt because of me. You and I are the only people I'd trust to possess the program."

"Thanks, Zack."

Zack nodded. Then he closed his eyes, and began to watch Adam's mind. In a few minutes, he felt it was time. He pulled out, and closed down the looping script. Adam collapsed to the floor, exhausted mentally and physically.

"So now what?" Gabrielle asked.

Zack pulled up another script. "Well... one more slave. Briefly."

Zack kicked Adam in the shoulder. This caused Adam's eyes to go wide with the pain. Zack took that moment to run a new script on Adam.

-----

"Attention, ladies and gentlemen," Zack said to the assembled staff. "I have word that Adam has come out of surgery, and he is physically stable. However, he seems to be in an unexplained coma." That he will never, ever come out of, Zack thought to himself with a grim smile.

"In the event of such an emergency, Adam had some papers drafted that gave me full control and ownership of the company. I'm sorry to say that William Bogden, our Chief Operating Officer, did not survive his surgery. That is a position we will need to fill soon.

"Rest assured that most positions within the company will remain unaffected by this changeover. There is only one division that will be heavily impacted by the change, and I will speak to them personally by the end of the day.

"I am just a teenager, and I live in a different state. I will be looking for and hiring a new director for the company, as well as a replacement for William. Until that time, I want you all to simply continue to do the fine jobs you've been doing. I will let you know of any changes before I make them. So. Let's all get back to work, shall we?"

Zack walked out of the room to some stunned and confused faces. They chatted amongst themselves for a few moments to ascertain that nobody really had a clue what was going on.

Then, one by one, they went back to work.

-----

"So, did we win?" Wendy asked. They were on the plane back to Martina.

Zack nodded, and stretched. "We won. Adam will never be able to be conscious again. William died. Everyone in the facility who was touched by the program has been reprogrammed, to clear out Adam's influence. Before I zapped Adam into Never-Never Land, I had him sign over his company to me, so we have a really nice income now."

"With just one little issue left to resolve," Gabrielle said, to remind Zack. Zack nodded.

"What's that?" Wendy wanted to know.

"The second spy."

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"Well, if it isn't Mr. Griffin and Miss Riddick. So nice of you both to join us once again. You do know that you have almost no chance of passing this class now, Mr. Griffin?"

"Oh, I don't know about that, sir. Why don't you just take a look at this?"

Ten seconds later, and their instructor had forgotten all about a man named Adam.

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Epilogue

Zack parked his motorcycle in the school parking lot, and turned it off. He looked up at the building, and could not believe just exactly how happy he was that his life had returned to some kind of normalcy.

Of course, for Zack, normal meant living with six women who all slept with him. Brian, Bonnie, and Pam had moved back into their old house to have some privacy. Since the ownership, and thus the income, of Adamant Computers was now under Zack's control, the family had no financial worries.

Zack had taken some time to find a manager for the company. Gabrielle had helped him, of course, and they felt that the company was in good hands. PAO, of course, assured that the manager would never betray Zack. Though he didn't like fully enslaving people, covering his own ass was now second nature.

Thinking about Gabrielle caused him a twinge of somberness. He found that he missed her. She'd been gone for two weeks, and though he had the others to keep him company, none of them was on his intellectual level, and he missed that.

Still, his home life was quite entertaining. Terry had decided to move back in with them all once the Adam issue was resolved. She was currently working at the college with Sharon, and seemed to be quite happy with things. Angela still attended college, but she didn't bother with the dorms anymore. Wendy was starting eighth grade today, and though she grumped about not being with Zack, he knew she would enjoy her last year of junior high.

Mary had turned herself into the housekeeper of the family, happily keeping things clean and doing the cooking and the laundry. Zack marveled that she so enjoyed the domestic life, but he was just glad that he didn't have to pick up the place.

The one girl who still troubled him was Stephanie. She had only been out of the hospital for a week. She was happy, but it still tugged at Zack's conscience that he had caused her to get shot. She had taken a load off his shoulders the previous night when, slowly and shakily, she had risen from her wheelchair to stand on her own two feet.

For about three seconds.

Zack chuckled. She'd fallen into his arms. He had said she just wanted to be held, and she did not disagree. Still, it showed that she would, someday in the not-too-distant future, be able to walk again. They had spent the evening celebrating.

Zack shook his head to clear his mind, and to pull himself back into the here and now. He got off his bike and walked toward the school. He was a little bummed out that none of his girlfriends went to school with him. He would either have to add one girl to his life, which he didn't really want to do, or he'd have to play around a lot. That appealed to him more.

As Zack approached the door, he realized that there was another person he'd let himself forget about. She was standing at the front door to the school, and so he walked over to her to say hello.

"Hi, Miss Pinches. How was your summer?"

"Hey, Zack. Dull. I've been waiting for you. Could you come with me, please?"

"Sure." Zack followed her to the media lab, where she unlocked the door and ushered him in.

Zack was fully into the room, with Kate locking the door behind him, before he realized there was someone else there.

Just then, Kate turned on the lights. The other woman was nude. Zack turned, to see Kate removing her blouse.

"We have to hurry, since school starts in fifteen minutes. You remember, I assume, Pat Barron?"

Pat walked over to Zack, and felt the growing lump in his pants. "I'm divorced now, Baby," she purred. "Let's get freaky."

Maybe it's not going to be so dull a year after all.

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