A Mainframe Summer’s Nightmare
Chapter 4 – Matrix Be Damned
It had been AndrAIa’s turn to pace, while Dot sat in one of the chairs. The group now lingered about the hallway outside of a room in the P.O.’s medical ward. Both Enzo and Matrix were brought in unconscious, but still processing. Phong and one of the medics were in the room now.
“They’re okay.” AndrAIa said, pacing back and forth. “They’re okay.”
“Of course they’re okay.” Bob said, hoping to bring a little peace to the girls’ minds. “It might be stress of some sort.”
What he didn’t tell them was that, like Matrix and Enzo, he had sensed something as well. Something resiliently evil, but what he couldn’t be sure of.
“What’s going on in there?” Alex asked, impatiently.
If it hadn’t been obvious before, Alex’s feelings for Enzo certainly had been shown while trying to take the brothers to the medic. When she had refused to move for the medics, one binome had thought maybe he could move her himself and was quickly pushed in the nearby desk.
Finally, Phong left the room and was greeted by the group. “Come and let’s talk in the office.” he said, rolling past them. “There is much to say.”
The four looked at each, then at Phong, then back at each other before moving to catch up to the wise sprite. Once the five sprites had gathered in Dot’s office, Phong began to speak. “I have found the problem that plagues the young Matrix brothers and I’m sorry to say that it is unfortunate.”
“Well, what is it?” Alex asked.
“Two halves of one dream.” Phong stated.
“Hey, that’s what Enzo and Matrix said!” AndrAIa exclaimed.
“Phong, exactly what does that mean?” Dot asked.
“I’m afraid an old evil has come back to Mainframe and is causing terror on your brothers, Dot.” Phong said. The group looked confused, so Phong elaborated. “Let me first tell you how I came to this reasoning. I hooked both Enzo and Matrix up to a RDE…”
“A what?” Alex asked.
“It’s short for Reality Distortion Engine.” Bob whispered.
“It allows someone to enter the dreams of another sprite.” AndrAIa added.
“Yes…” Phong continued. “I used a special RDE that would allow me to view the current mind state of both Enzos. Both are troubled by disturbing dreams that are not of their own will.”
“Phong, you said that an old evil has come back.” AndrAIa said. “Could this be the reason for the dreams?”
“You are correct with your insight, my child.” Phong said. “The evil has somehow infested itself within the minds of the young Enzos and is using their previous disappointments as fodder to torment them.”
“Well, who is it?” Alex said, obviously irritated by the whole revelation. “Who’s the evil? We just go in and take out the infection, virus, or whatever and they’re okay, right?”
“I’m afraid it is not that simple, Alex.” Phong said, leaving the office. The others followed closely. “It seems that this evil is trying to destroy Enzo and Matrix.”
“And if I know Enzo and Matrix, they’re looking to destroy the evil.” Bob replied, soberly. “Right, Phong?”
“Correct, Guardian.” Phong said. The group once again found themselves in the medical unit and heading towards the room holding Matrix and Enzo. “Wait,” Alex said, slowing behind the group. “You mean Enzo and Matrix knew all along who this guy was?”
“Figures.” AndrAIa said, rolling her eyes. “Knowing those two stubborn sprites.”
Just then, the medic who was assisting Phong came rushing out. “There’s another dream happening, Mr. Phong!” the binome said, rapidly.
“Come and you’ll see what I mean.” Phong said, rolling quickly towards the door. Upon opening the door, the group was met by a large vidwindow. The screen was blank and had two seperate wires conneced at the bottom, going outward and attaching to the patients on the tables on either side.
Enzo and Matrix were on either side of the vidwindow, completely unconscious. AndrAIa had to keep calm and resistant in order to hold Alex and herself back from rushing to their significant Enzos. AndrAIa knew Enzo Matrix well enough to know that he could pull himself out of anything, but even she had an odd feeling about the current situation.
“Sir, images seem to be appearing.” the medic replied.
“Just watch.” Phong said. The images on the screen came in to focus and it was clear that Enzo and Matrix were now dreaming…
Enzo found himself encased in the black void again. Oh no, he thought. Not this again.
“Hey!” Enzo turned around to see Matrix walking over towards him. “What’re you doing in my dream?” he asked.
“I could ask you the same thing, Sprout.” Matrix said, looking around at their surroundings. “All I can say is welcome to my nightmare.”
“Been there, done it.” Enzo said, trying to put humor in a deadly situation.
WARNING: INCOMING GAME! WARNING: INCOMING GAME!
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Matrix grumbled, seeing the shimmery purple cube starting to come down from overhead.
“Maybe we’re not dreaming.” Enzo said. He was trying to believe that maybe they weren’t having another one of their nightmares.
“Hey guys!” They heard from behind them. To their shock and disbelief, AndrAIa was standing in between them. “Trying to hog the fun to yourselves, huh boys?” she said, grinning at each of them.
Matrix looked at Enzo, from over AndrAIa’s shoulder. “If this is a dream,” he said, as the cube started to engulf them. “She had better be in mine!”
When the cube fell, the three sprites found themselves in an arena of some type. “Hey,” Matrix said looking around. “This reminds me of something.”
“Well, Guardian?” AndrAIa asked, looking expectingly at Enzo. “What game are we in?”
Enzo looked at her for a moment, then looked at his wrist. On it, he found a key tool. Now that’s weird, he thought. Enzo wasn’t getting his own key tool until graduation and that was an hour away.
“Um…” he said, trying to think. “Cutter, stats.” he said, taking a shot in the dark. The key tool beeped and blipped and put a display of the game. “It’s an arena type game called…oh no!”
“Oh no?” AndrAIa asked, laughter in her voice. “That’s the name of the this game?” Enzo looked up and saw the figure he dreaded. It was the game he thought he would never have to see.
“Come on, kid.” Matrix growled.
“What’s the name of the game?”
Enzo just stared straight ahead, trying to calm his nerves. This had to be a dream…a dream nothing! It was a bonifide nightmare is what it was! “Look.” was all he could say as he pointed to the ring. Matrix and AndrAIa looked where he pointed. Matrix could feel his heart beating in his body as he saw the fiery monster before them.
Three sprites in the room gasped when they saw the fiery beast. “Enzo…” AndrAIa could barely get the name out. Alex looked at all of them in confusion and slight horror. She vaguely remembered Enzo telling her about how Matrix, AndrAIa, and Frisket were lost in the games and that Matrix had lost his eye in a game. By the looks on everyone’s faces, this was obviously a game that was dangerous.
“Come on, let’s Reboot.” AndrAIa said, reaching for her icon.
“No!” Matrix cried, his voice wavering, his hand stopping hers. He was finding it hard to talk. “I’ll…I’ll Reboot.”
“Matrix, that’s crazy!” Enzo said. He knew the rules of this game and dream or not, he wasn’t going to sit idly by while his brother got himself deleted.
“Enzo,” AndrAIa said, taking his face in her hands. “We’re big sprites now. We can take care of ourselves.” She took his hand and said, “Reboot.” while tapping her icon twice.
Enzo followed suit and then Matrix, who was quite confused. They soon found themselves above the ring, encased behind glass plated windows. Enzo looked down at himself and saw he was dressed in a black and yellow jumpsuit. What a cruel and ironic twist, he thought bitterly, removing the hood on his head.
He looked to his left and saw Matrix leaning against the glass. He was clad in a black warlock robe, with a red slash, and a wooden staff leaning against the glass with him. To Matrix’s left, was AndrAIa dressed as a warrior. Enzo released the breath he’d been holding since he looked up the stats for this game. Thinking of something, he looked to his wrist and found…nothing. The key tool that he had at the start of the game was now gone.
Enzo looked down and saw Zaytan rid himself of his first opponent. He then turned to the trio. That’s when Enzo noticed that they were the only opponents left. They were the only ones there! He turned to look at Matrix, who had his eyes closed, praying to the User he’d be picked. He didn’t want to go through this again, ever. Zaytan looked at Enzo and Matrix for a bit, before pointing his bony, fiery finger at AndrAIa, who dropped from her glass prison.
“NO!” exclaimed Enzo and Matrix. They both had been hoping to be picked. They never dreamed he would pick AndrAIa.
The two could only watch as the two combatants circled each other and finally coming to blows. AndrAIa put up a good fight, but couldn’t outrun a blast from Zaytan. She was quickly thrown to the other side of the arena, so that Enzo and Matrix could watch how she would die.
“AndrAIa!” Enzo hollered, banging on the glass.
Zaytan stood over the lifeless body of the game sprite. His large hand went to her head as his face turned to glare at Matrix, a sadistic grin on his face. He waited until both sprites could see before he crushed her head. Zaytan continued to hover over AndrAIa, while Enzo and Matrix stood behind their glass trappings. Enzo just stood, mouth agape, hands on the glass.
He couldn’t believe it. This had to be a dream. Reality like this was too harsh. He gave a quick glance at Matrix, whom he could see was slowly falling apart. He was on his knees, head resting on the glass, eyes closed. Enzo hoped the game would end, just lift and kill him and Matrix. He looked up to see Zaytan standing over AndrAIa’s body. Suddenly he turned his head to look at Enzo from over his shoulder, but it wasn’t Zaytan who looked at him.
It was Megabyte.
Enzo’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head, seeing the virus. The body was still that of Zaytan, but the head and what seemed like an arm was definitely Megabyte. Megabyte shot Enzo a cool smile before raising his arm and taking a swing at him with his claws. Enzo thought the virus had lost it.
There was no way his claws would get to him from up here. Then he saw the claws extending, reaching out from the hand of Megbyte and coming straight at him, the sharp, steel blades shattering the glass, cutting through Enzo, through his chest, his icon, his heart…
Enzo’s body lurched on the table from the pain, his screams causing Dot and Alex to rush over to try and calm him.
Matrix’s world was over.
His reason for living gone with AndrAIa’s death. In the back of his mind, he thought of the little girl who was his pride and joy, but also a reminder of the woman who this monster had just deleted. The monster who had robbed his life, along with AndrAIa’s and had robbed him of his right eye…the monster had won again and stolen his life and AndrAIa’s. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. So when he heard Enzo’s screams, there was another rip at his heart. He opened his eyes and saw Zaytan coming towards him.
“I’ve come for your other eye…Boy…” Matrix saw the fiery staff come towards him. This time, he was going to see it coming.
AndrAIa and Bob were by Matrix’s side as he cried out in pain. The commotion from the Matrix boys was over and both were quiet. The medic quickly went over to check on them, telling the group they boys were just in a deep sleep. Phong wanted to continue his talk, but only Bob and Dot followed him out of the room. They soon went back to the command room to discuss things.
“Phong, you don’t think…” Dot started, afraid of the answer. She had finally gotten close to both of her brothers, but there were still things that only the two of them would share and if they did open up, it was to AndrAIa. If her thoughts were correct, the same virus that had taken her love and her brother, was now back tormenting her brothers all over again.
“Dot,” Phong said, hanging his head. “Bob, did you sense anything earlier?”
Bob looked at Phong, then at Dot, then lowered his head to the floor. He had made a vow to never keep secrets from Dot and now he had kept one to spare her feelings.
“Yes.” he said, meekly. He lifted his head, looking at Phong. “I did sense something, but I couldn’t tell you what it was. If it was…” he paused, unable to say the name of the virus who had caused so much pain and sorrow in his home. “Only Enzo and Matrix can answer that, but I’m sure they’ll say who we’re thinking of.” The three sprites were quiet for a while, not knowing what to say.
“How?” Dot asked quietly. “If he was trapped in the Web, how…?”
“Remember Dot, our Guardian also survived the Web.” Phong said.
“How could he possibly get into their minds like that?” Bob asked. “I thought only…” Bob lowered his voice. “I thought only Daemon could control someone’s mind. And that was only if they were under her infection.”
“Many things are possible, my children.” Phong said. “Right now, I think our first concern is with young Enzo and Matrix.”
Enzo’s head was deleting him to the core. But in a weird way, he felt…rested. It was like he had the best sleep, better then the sleep he had gotten in the past week. He felt someone nearby, someone was holding his hand. He opened his eyes slowly, expecting Dot or maybe AndrAIa, but pleasant surprise came to his face when saw Alex sitting in a chair next to the bed. He let a sigh as he tried to see where he was.
“Enzo?” the girl asked, seeing the movement. He opened his eyes and smiled at her. “Oh Enzo,” Alex said, squeezing his hand. “I thought you weren’t going to wake up.”
“I couldn’t keep you waiting.” he quipped, smiling at her. “Here, help me sit up.”
Alex hesitated at first, but soon helped Enzo sit up in bed. He looked around at the room he was in. At some point, Phong had requested that Enzo and Matrix have their own private rooms. His vest and cap lay at the foot of the bed and the room seem to be very dark, except for a small table lamp.
“What happened?” Enzo asked, slightly confused with his surroundings.
“Something happened to you and Matrix in the Principal Office.” Alex stated. “You’ve been out most of the day.” Enzo looked at her, then glanced out the room window. Sure enough, night time had come to Mainframe and the sky was lit with the lights from the system.
“Well I guess so.” he smirked, rubbing his forehead.
Alex hugged him. “I was so worried about you.” she whispered in his ear. Enzo smiled. He hoped this wouldn’t be Alex’s only summer in Mainframe. He really wanted her to come and visit him every chance she got. He wanted her to…her to what? He asked himself. Alex let go of him and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Enzo, can I ask you something and you won’t get mad?” she asked quietly.
“Has that ever stopped you?” he asked, giving her a smile. When he saw the look on her face, he lay back on his pillows. “You can ask me anything.”
Alex took a deep breath before saying anything. “Enzo…” she started, looking down at his sheets. “I was jus…I was wondering if…Enzo, could you…”
“Calm down.” he said, patting her hands gently. “You’re starting to sound like me.”
Alex looked up. She cared more for this sprite than anyone she ever met and/or dated. These nightmares of his were confusing to her and the fact that he was sharing them with Matrix didn’t make a whole lot of sense either. And where did AndrAIa fit into the whole thing? She liked her. She was nice and caring. She knew she didn’t have any real competition with her. Right? Alex had wanted to ask him those questions and tell him how she felt, but lost her nerve.
“Never mind.” she said, standing. “It was nothing important.” She turned to go, but Enzo still had her hand and he pulled her back.
“Hey, Alex, wait a nano.” She turned to look at him. He moved over some and patted the edge for her to sit, which she did.
She sat with her back to him, looking out the window at Mainframe. She remembered their date her first night there and how things had gone terribly wrong since. Enzo looked at her for a long time, slowly rubbing her back with his hand. He wanted to tell her how he felt about her, tell her what his plan was for getting rid of the nightmares. “Were you really worried about me?” he asked, softly.
“Of course I was.” She said, turning to face him. He stared into her eyes, noticing time and time again how incredibly beautiful she was. He kissed her gently.
“Alex, I’m going to do something you might not like,” he said, before kissing her again, this time deepening it.
“You think I wouldn’t like that?” she asked, a playful smile coming to her lips.
Enzo had to laugh at that. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “Not that. Something else.”
“I can’t tell you.” he said.
Alex was taken a back by this and a little hurt. He wasn’t going to tell her his plans, but she bet he’d tell them to someone else! “C’mon Enzo,” she said, rubbing the back of his neck, teasing him to kiss her. “What’s AndrAIa got that I don’t?” He looked at her in surprised confusion. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud, but she did. She wondered if she should ask what Matrix had meant about AndrAIa being in his dreams.
Enzo looked at her for a moment, then coming to the realization that she might be jealous. “Did you want to ask me something?” he asked, putting his arms around her. “You can ask me, Allie.”
Alex took a deep breath. She only let one person call her Allie and that was Enzo. It was a pet name between them and loved hearing him say it. “There’s a lotta stuff I don’t get.” she said, firmly. “But first, I wanna hear this plan of yours.”
Matrix woke up with a pounding headache. When he opened his eyes, he was looking out the window, looking at how lovely Mainframe was at night. Night? What had happened? Matrix his head to the other side and looked at his surroundings. He realized he was in one of the medic rooms in the Principal Office. The room was slightly dark, but light came from a night stand lamp. Sitting in the chair by the stand, reading a read-me file, was AndrAIa. Sensing she was being watched, she turned to look at Matrix.
“About time you woke up.” she said, smiling down at him.
Matrix struggled to sit up, being forced to lay back down by AndrAIa, until he assured her he was alright. “What in the net happened?” he asked, groggily.
“You don’t remember?” AndrAIa asked.
“Andri, if I remembered, I wouldn’t have asked.” Matrix replied, sarcastically.
“My, aren’t we Mr. Sunshine today?” AndrAIa retorted. Matrix gave her a look, to which she gave him a kiss on the forehead. “You and Enzo passed out earlier.” she said, sitting next to him on the bed.
“Enzo’s here?” he asked, surprised. He could remember being in the P.O., listening about some tear…THE TEAR! He remembered Megabyte’s voice and his laughing and…the dream. The dream where AndrAIa had been deleted by Zaytan.
“Enzo?” AndrAIa asked. She had been calling his name, watching as he drifted off into some far off place inside in his mind.
“Huh?” he said, turning to look at her.
“I asked if you were alright.” she said.
“Yeah.” he said, taking a deep breath and expelling it. “I’m fine.” He ran his hand over his face, going back to slowly trace the metallic ball that was now his right eye. He quickly moved his hand to his icon, finding it safely on his chest.
“Enzo,” AndrAIa said, quietly, putting her arms around his shoulders.
“I thought I lost you.” he replied, the response coming out as a whisper.
“I told you, Sparky,” AndrAIa said. “It takes a lot to make me leave.”
“Speaking of which, where’s our little troublemaker?” Matrix asked.
“I let Hack and Slash watch her.” AndrAIa chuckled. “I had thought about leaving her with Mike the TV, but I didn’t want her taking him apart. Like last time.”
Matrix chuckled at the memory. “I’ve been trying to take that TV apart since I was a kid. Leave him alone with my four hour old daughter and she gets the job done in no time.”
Just then, the door opened. “Is he awake yet?” Dot asked, poking her head through the door.
“Yep.” AndrAIa, standing up. “I’ll leave you guys to talk. I’ll go check on Little Enzo.”
“Tell him I have to talk to him if he’s okay.” Matrix said. With that, she left the room, leaving Dot and Matrix to themselves.
“Are you feeling better?” Dot asked, taking the chair previously occupied by AndrAIa.
“A little groggy, but other than that, I’m alright.” he answered. The two sat in silence for a while, before Matrix asked, “Was there something you wanted to ask me, Dot?” Dot looked at him, all the questions she had about certain things, things she had seen in his nightmare, things about his past in the games…
“No.” she lied. “I just wanted to see how you were doing before I went to talk to Enzo…I mean the other Enzo.”
Matrix could see she wanted to say something, ask him something. The closeness they had before he lost that game was gone now. They had settled some things a while ago, but they still talked like casual strangers, not like the siblings they were.
Even Dot and Little Enzo seemed to be pulling apart. Dot noticed he was staring at her, wanting to tell her something, ask her something. He looked like their father now, with the thinly trimmed beard and those dark violet eyes that the Matrix siblings shared. The more she thought about it, it was really the only thing the three of them shared now.
“Dot?” his voice broke their silence and brought her out of herself.
“You alright?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m fine.” she replied. “Well, I’d better let you rest.” she stood up.
“You don’t have to go,” Matrix replied. “Not if you don’t want to.”
“I’d love to, but…” she started. He was asking her to stay, so why was she hesitant at staying?
“I understand.” he interrupted. “Command.Com duties. I’ll see you later.” She nodded, went to the door, and left.
AndrAIa got to Enzo’s door and was going to just walk in, when something stopped her. She thought about bringing up a window to tell him she was outside, but she figured he was in there with Alex. She got a smile on her face thinking about the two of them. It was obvious they were in love with each other. It reminded her of Matrix and the two of them falling in love during those hours of game hopping.
That was really the only good thing that came out of that experience. Watching that nightmare of theirs had really given her the jaggies. And knowing the two of them, they only had revenge in their minds and hearts, just like Megabyte. Shaking her head, AndrAIa decided the best thing was to knock on the door first, which she did.
“Who is it?” came the reply.
“Um…just a nano.” AndrAIa heard a small commotion from inside, then quiet.
“Okay! You can come in now.” She opened the door and leaned against the doorjam. “Hi Dre.” Enzo replied, happily, sitting up in bed, a read-me file in his hands.
“Hi AndrAIa.” said Alex, sitting in a chair beside the bed, also holding read-me file.
“Hi.” AndrAIa said, smiling. “You two behaving yourselves?”
“Of course!” Enzo said, laughing nervously.
“What could we possibly be doing?” Alex asked, chuckling. The two teenagers laughed nervously at the question, both blushing.
AndrAIa rolled her eyes and said, “Matrix wants to talk to you, if you’re up to it, Enzo.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Enzo said. “Where is he?”
“He’s down the hall.” AndrAIa replied. “Room 109, I believe.” She turned to leave, but stopped. “Oh, I think Dot may be coming by.” she said.
“Just a suggestion,” AndrAIa said, smiling at the two. “I’d turn those read-me files around so they’re right side up before Dot gets here.” She gave the two a wink before leaving.
After Dot was done talking to both brothers, Enzo left and Matrix in his room. They two were there when AndrAIa came back. “I thought you two might be together.” she said, entering the room. Enzo sat in the chair next to the bed, while Matrix sat on the side of the bed, playing with Gun.
Seeing the looks on their faces, she asked, “Am I disrupting something?”
“Just thinking.” Matrix said.
“About that nightmare you two had earlier?”
Enzo looked at Matrix, thinking he had told AndrAIa. Matrix looked back at him, shaking his head slightly. They then came to the same conclusion. “Phong.” they said in unison.
“He hooked you up to the RDE.” AndrAIa confirmed the question they had in their minds. “What’re you going to do?”
“Quite frankly, I’m getting tired of this.” Enzo said, standing. To Matrix, he said, “We can’t let him continue to do this to us! We know what his purpose is. We gotta stop him.”
“How?” Matrix asked.
“Does it matter?” Enzo shot back. “C’mon, Matrix, we beat him once, we can beat him again. This time there’s two of us.”
“Enzo, did you see how big he is? How powerful he’s gotten?” Matrix asked.
Enzo was silent for a while, thinking. “Who the spam does he think he is?” he asked, his anger rising. “Coming in here, thinking he’s the big dog, sending Bob to the Web, making you lose your childhood, sending Dot running for her life, destroying Mainframe…” Enzo stopped, letting the past torments of Megabyte hang in the air.
“No,” Enzo said, his temper subsiding into his plan. “This ends. Now.”
Matrix looked at his brother, seeming to get the gist. He loaded Gun and said, “Megabyte’s picked the wrong Matrixes to mess with.”
AndrAIa looked at them in shock. “Hey, wait a minute.” she said, as Matrix stood and the two waited for her to move. “I hope you guys aren’t thinking what I think you’re thinking.” The two just looked at her. “Of course you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking.” she sighed. “Well, if the two of you are going, count me in.”
“Oh no.” Matrix said.
“You’re not coming, AndrAIa.” Enzo replied.
“Oh well, then.” She said, casually. “If I don’t go, you don’t go. Simple as that. We either leave together or we sit in this room togther. Your choice, boys.”
Enzo took a step towards her. “You can’t keep us here, Dre.”
AndrAIa showed him her nails, causing him to take a step back. “I beg to differ.” she said.
“We don’t have a choice, Enzo.” Matrix said.
“Alright.” Enzo said, reluctantly. “But…”
AndrAIa held her hands up. “I’m just going as back-up. I know this is between the two of you and that blue tin can we thought we got rid of. Besides, I think Dot would want someone watching your back.”
Enzo nodded, looking between Matrix and AndrAIa. “Okay,” he said. “It’s time for Megabyte to meet the Destruction Crew.”