A/N: I know the time lines of these two don't exactly mesh, but this seemed like some fun when I came up with it. Set post-LGM "Tango" and just after Burn "Where There's Smoke." R&R!
"Barry, I need a hacker."
The money launderer looked across the table at him.
"What kind?" He had contacts everywhere in the Miami underworld.
"I would prefer it if they could crack this." He slid the spec sheet over.
Barry picked it up. "Michael, this is way over my head."
"Then send it out and see who comes up. But check their history. I want someone with a perfect track record."
Barry shrugged. "I'll see what I can do."
Michael Westen smiled. "Thank you."
Two days later, Barry asked the ex-spy to meet him at the local bar.
"I have your hacker," Barry said. "It wasn't easy, but here you are." He handed over the meager contact information. "He goes by the screenname QWERTY."
"Is there a real name to go along with that?" Michael asked.
Barry shook his head. "No, but everyone I talked to swears by this guy. He's THE guy."
"He works on a case by case basis. Somebody told me once he didn't charge period."
That was odd. So he did it for the thrill. Michael had heard of people like that. They got off on it, and they made a game out of it. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
Michael folded the printout and slipped into an inside pocket in his jacket. "Thank you. I owe you one."
"And that's why you're picking up the tab," Barry replied.
Hey, whatever was fair.
"We just got an email," Byers said. "I think you know the author, Langly. Qwerty?"
"Dude! No way!" Langly was suddenly over at the computer craning his neck to read it over Byers' shoulder.
"Who's Qwerty?" Jimmy asked.
"He's a hacker," Langly said reverently. "He's legendary on the message boards. There are tall tales of what he's done and what he's cracked. I heard one that he hacked into the DoD, FBI, and CIA at the same time. And I could believe it, too."
"He's that good?" Byers asked.
"Yeah. It's scary."
Frohike snorted. "No one's that good. Come on."
Langly shrugged. "I've talked to him twice on IM."
"What was he like?" Jimmy asked.
"That was the odd part. He didn't seem all that different from any of us, and he was infuriatingly self-deprecating." He reached over and opened the email. He scanned through it very quickly, and he choked.
"What is it?" Byers asked.
"He wants my help." He read from the message. "'I ran across this on the message boards. I don't know where this could have come from. I want your opinion; you look into all this kind of stuff. This looks military, but it's nothing I've run across.'" He flipped over to the attached spec sheet image, and read it very carefully. "What the hell is this?" He turned the monitor around so the others could see it.
"Well, Qwert's right; it does look military," Frohike said. "But look at all that processing power." He whistled.
"How do you know it's military?" Jimmy asked.
Byers, who could read the specs even though not a computer god himself, replied, "This looks experimental. It's faster than anything out there and more powerful."
"The military always gets the best toys," Frohike added. He frowned. "Look at the processor speed. There's a typo, if I've ever seen one." The other two crammed forward to look at it.
"Infinite," Byers said softly. He looked at the others.
"What does that mean?" Jimmy asked.
"It means someone seriously screwed up," Langly replied. "If it's right, which it can't be, then we're looking at a true Feynman processor. A quantum computer."
"Richard Feynman suggested a computer could be built off of quantum mechanical principles. It would be a new type of computer that's faster and more powerful than an ordinary one," Byers explained. "They've managed to make some real leaps, and already a Feynman processor of less than 500 qbits is just as fast as the tenth fastest supercomputer."
"Qbits?" Jimmy asked.
"Pieces of information the computer processes to do calculations," Langly said. "A normal bit is either a one or a zero, binary. A qbit is pretty much the same thing, but it can be both at the same time. It allows for the computer to do more than one calculation at once."
"What? Both?" Jimmy shook his head.
"Yeah. That's what makes them so weird and so powerful. They don't play by the traditional rules," Byers replied.
"I'm going to get Qwerty up on IM," Langly said, "and ask exactly where he found this. I want to look at it myself."
He hopped on-line and called up the hacker. "Hey just looked the specs where did you find them?"
"Ran across them on the message boards wild huh? :)"
"Feynman processor? Really? :/"
"*shrug* Yeah but come on! Is it really surprising if the Man already has one?"
"No guess not you going to try and crack it?"
"Yeah I need your help can you get to Miami?"
"Because youll take this seriously youre into conspiracies"
Langly looked up. "Can we get to Miami? Qwerty's going to try and crack the Feynman, and he wants our help."
"Absolutely not," Frohike declared. "I am not going back to Miami!"
"Come on, Frohike," Byers said. "Not even for a story like this? A real quantum computer like how Feynman predicted."
While they bickered, Langly went back to IM. "Can I see where you got the specs?"
"Yeah heres the link:"
Langly clicked on it. It took him to a high-traffic site where someone called ChineseLaundromat54 had started the thread "I need a Hack!" and had posted the spec sheet scanned in from a physical document. Everyone who had posted had scoffed at it and called it a fake. Qwerty was the only one to take him seriously.
Curious, Langly tapped into the site's database and searched for ChineseLaundromat's real name from the registration: Barry Burkowski. With that information, he ran a search in various databases for him. He got a hit from the FBI; apparently the man was a money launderer based in Miami the Bureau kept their eye on. The notes said he had ties to a Michael Westen. A search for Westen brought up several Internet rumors about how he was an ex-governmental spook who helped people now.
"Guys," Langly cut in. "I think I found out who wants this hack." He twisted the monitor around again. "Meet Michael Westen. Ex-government spook in the business of helping people."
"Why would he need it?" Jimmy asked.
"I would like to find out," Byers replied. "Get packing. We're going to Miami."