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Monday, August 03 2015 @ 12:17 PM CDT

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The Alexandria Project, Chapter 19: The iBalls Shall Rise Again

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

Thanks to Sagyxil, GPL v2 or lateriBall.com CEO Chad Derwent sat alone in his office in Silicon Valley. Outside his open door, rows of empty, silent cubicles stretched from one end of the office floor to the other.  

For the last several minutes he had been staring down at the stack of papers on his desk, unable to deal with the reality of the title of the one on top: “Petition for Liquidation in Bankruptcy.” He couldn’t bear to look up at the picture on the wall where, he knew, Vinod and he were posed with their first half-dozen employees. Everyone was smiling, because iBall.com had just gone live on the Web. Back then, he’d never supposed it would end like this.
 
But it had, and there was nothing to be done about it. Nothing to be done but pick up his pen and begin to sign the papers in the stack, one by one.
 
The phone rang. Chad looked at it in surprise. Ever since it became clear that iBall.com could not survive, the stench of failure had descended upon him, and even his email had dwindled to a trickle. Was it his mother? 
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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 18: More than One Can Play that Game

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

Library of Congress CIO George Marchand sat uneasily in the witness chair of the hearing room. On a raised platform in front of him stretched a semicircular table, dotted with microphones. Behind those microphones sat all but one of the members of the Inquisition also known as the Congressional Subcommittee on Cybersecurity. 
 
Crouching like a pack of hyenas on the floor between the subcommittee and witness tables were dozens of photographers, polishing their lenses in anticipation of the kill. To George’s right, bored looking C-SPAN video engineers peered at him from beside their cameras, like vultures waiting for a dying wildebeest to get on with it, already.
 
George glanced at his watch with a sigh. It was almost 10:00, and therefore time for today’s orgy of Congressional ego gratification and wrathful citizenry appeasement to begin. George hoped his introductory role in the hearing would be brief.
 
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Alexandria Proj. Chap 17: May the Force be with You

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

Just as Bart Thatcher promised, Frank saw nothing but forever when he looked to the west – simply wave after wave of mountains and valleys extending effortlessly into the haze of the horizon. From high above, where the branches of ponderosa pines laced together, the squawks of scrub jays filtered down, along with the dappling light of the afternoon sun. And next to him rested a laptop connected to the outside world via the formidable telecommunications resources of Frank’s improbable, but undeniably useful, Solar Avenger.
 
Frank was already oblivious to the stunning view ahead of him, now that he was focusing non-stop on cracking the secrets of the Alexandria Project. His goals in that pursuit were clear: figure out how those behind the Project penetrated their targets; devise technical defenses capable of stopping them; and figure out who they were and where they were striking from. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going well. 
 
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The Alexandria Project: Chapter 16: You Want Aliens With That?

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter
 
Frank stepped out of the dark, moonless night of the Nevada desert and into the bright light of the bar, restaurant and motel that was the Little A’Le’Inn. Along one wall ran a counter with stools and the backsides of a couple of locals. Behind the counter he saw a waitress, cash register, and a modest assembly of liquor bottles that apparently constituted the bar. That took care of the predictable part of the room. And then there was the rest.
 
Despite the odd spelling, there couldn’t be much doubt over the meaning of the café’s name. Hung on pegboards, sitting on shelves, and hanging from the ceiling was an impressively random collection of just about anything you might (or might not) imagine could be presented with an extraterrestrial theme.

 

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 15: The Alexandria Project Makes the Evening News

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter 

Brian Williams, of NBC Nightly NewsBrian Williams stood center stage in the NBC Nightly News studio, as always impeccably dressed and at ease in a conservative business suit. He shared a last quiet joke with the intern straightening his tie, and then on cue turned to the camera. As always, he read the day’s headlines from the teleprompter with a serious expression. Then, with a warm and slightly wry smile, he alluded to the “Making a Difference” segment that would close the broadcast. As always, he concluded with the signature phrase, “Nightly News begins now.” 
 
His brief pre-recording chore accomplished, Williams strolled to the expansive news desk from which he would orchestrate the rest of the evening’s show. He settled in as the big digital clock on the wall counted down to the 00:00 display that meant Air Time had arrived.
 
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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 14: Welcome to Las Vegas!

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

Two and a half days after dropping off the map in Washington, D.C., Frank staggered off a Greyhound bus in Las Vegas, Nevada. Though tired and dirty, he felt more energized over the task at hand than over anything else he could recall in years. Now it was time to get down to work! But first, he had to find his ride.
 
With his knapsack slung over one shoulder, Frank scanned the bus terminal for anyone that might be Earl Jenkins. He had assembled a mental picture of the kind of man that would post an ad in Millennial Survivalist and Assault Rifle Monthly, and had assumed it would be easy to pick him out of a crowd. Problem was, it now appeared that just about anyone that arrived in Las Vegas by bus might have the same reading habits. Now what?

 

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Blog Branding Blues: Can a Blog Divided Against Itself Long Stand?

Adventures in Self-Publishing

From time to time I've run into people that have more than one blog, and have usually wondered how that came about, and also how it was working out? Often, I've noticed, one of the efforts ends up petering out, left abandoned and forlorn, with that one last, lonely post waiting hopefully for the next to come along, which it never comes. With each passing day, the blog becomes less visited, soon to be found only by random Web searchers that skip out as soon as they accidentally arrive. Poor Blogger.  Poor blog.

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 13: Desperately Seeking Adversego

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

Sesame Street's Bert & ErnieIt was 8:00 AM and CIA agent Carl Cummings was already having a bad day.
 
With Frank on the run, Carl had just two responsibilities: protecting Frank’s daughter Marla without her knowledge, which was a pretty ho-hum job, and protecting Frank, which at the moment was impossible. But the tasks were still connected, since he figured his best shot at finding Frank was by intercepting a message between father and daughter. The problem was, Carl had once had a fling with the daughter that didn’t end well, and he knew she despised him. Needless to say, he couldn’t tail her personally.
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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 12: Now You See Me (Now You Don't!)

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 New to the Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and a guide to the characters here, and the earlier chapters here.  You can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

 
Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam SpadeFrank was leaning back in his cubicle chair, feet up on his desktop. That way he could keep an eye on Carl Cumming’s office down the corridor. The guy must have the bladder of a camel, he thought. Wouldn’t he ever need to relieve himself?
 
Finally, Cummings emerged, and Frank leaned forward nonchalantly, still tapping away on his laptop. Once the agent had passed by, though, Frank leaned backward again. 
 
Good. Cummings was headed for the reception area door - and now he was through it. Frank waited for a minute to pass, then grabbed his coat and his more than usually full backpack and walked slowly up the corridor, waiting for Cummings to return.  
 
Once he saw Cummings through the reception area glass, he walked the last few steps to the reception desk. As expected, Cummings noticed Frank’s coat. Trying to appear as if a headline had caught his eye, the agent picked a newspaper up from the reception area coffee table within easy earshot. Perfect.

 

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 11: Have I got an App for You!

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 New to the Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and a guide to the characters here, and the earlier chapters here.  You can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

 
CNBC MadMoney's Jim CramerWhile CIA Agent Carl Cummings was being taught to heel, Frank was sitting at his kitchen table, tapping away at the cramped keyboard of a cheap netbook connected to a neighbor’s unsecured WiFi network. Even this was risky, he reminded himself, so this brief session would have to be his last until he moved on.
 
A few taps more and he had logged on to the bank account of the Pangloss Game Company. Mentally crossing his fingers, he clicked on the link for an account that simply read “iBallZapper.” When the new view displayed, the number that immediately caught his eye was in the balance column, and that number was $247,396.78. A slow smile of victory spread across Frank’s face as he hit the refresh button. The number jumped upward by another $1,238.42. It seemed that his plan was unfolding nicely.