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Memories Are Made of This

Chapter 3 – Daughter Matrix, I Presume

 

 

The figure stepped from the portal into a dark and dingy area of the system. He walked around the small establishment he landed next to and read the name. Al’s Wait and Eat. He turned back around and looked out at the city.

So this was Mainframe.

It seemed cozy enough. He could see why this place was pretty popular out on the Net. He had heard stories about the sprites that lived here, that they were tough and always stuck it out in a dangerous situation.

He only wished they could help with a new problem.

The young sprite hadn’t been standing in front of Al’s place for more than five microseconds, when he saw two bots approach him from the sky. One was red, the other was blue, and they were heading straight for him. He wasn’t sure if they were friend or foe, so he kept his weapon ready for anything. The two bots landed in front of him and held their arms at the ready.

“Hey,” the sprite replied, holding his hands in front of him. “I come in peace. Turbo sent me.”

“Oh, then you’re him!”

“He might be him.”

“I think so too.”

“Then we should take him to see Dot.”

“I agree. He should see Dot.”

“That’s what I said.”

“And I was emphasizing for effect.”

“But you don’t need to do that. Why must you always try to out do me?”

“What are you talking about? Out do you? I thought we were friends. I would never do that! Now let’s take him to Dot and I will tell her…”

“See what I mean? Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

The man wasn’t sure what was going on, but he was certainly amused, if not entertained. He wondered who this Dot person was. By the way the two spoke, he figured this Dot was probably the right hand sprite to the Command.Com and nothing went to him unless it went through her. He met sprites like that. He didn’t care for them, always thinking they were in charge, when they weren’t. His thoughts drifted back to the red and blue bots, still arguing over who was better at what.

“Hey guys,” he said. “Weren’t you going to take me to see Dot?”

“Oh yeah!”

“We almost forgot!”

“No, you forgot.”

“I did not forget! I don’t forget things!”

“Yes, you do.”

“I do not! Now, what were we talking about?”

“Taking me to see this Dot person.” the young sprite said.

“Oh yeah!” both bots exclaimed.

The young sprite brought out his zipboard and followed the two. “Say, you guys never told me your names.”

“I am Hack and he is Slash.”

“I am Slash and he is Hack.”

“I just told him that! Why do you repeat everything I say?”

“I do not repeat everything you say! Why are you in such a bad mood today?”

“Am I? I hadn’t noticed.”

“Oh my, yes. You seem to have a lot of pent up anger within you. You should release it, like with a hobby of some sort. Like jetball. Or maybe Chess.”

“I wasn’t aware that I had been unpleasant.”

“Not always. Just sometimes.”

“I apologize then.”

“It’s okay. I understand.”

“It must be stress.”

The young sprite was still unsure who these bots were, but he liked them. In a weird way, they were entertaining with their constant bickering and arguing. He just grinned at them and shook his head.

“And who are you, little friend?”

“Yes. We told you who we were. Now who are you?”

The sprite hesitated for a moment, still unsure if these guys could be trustworthy. But then again Turbo had said Mainframe had the best and friendliest people. Besides, these guys couldn’t hurt anybody! “I’m Guardian 927. Cadet Kalyle Daniels.” replied the sprite. “But you can call me Kalyle or KD. A lot of people do that.” The three continued their journey towards the Principal Office. “So who exactly is this Dot you guys are taking me to see?”

“Oh she’s the best!”

“Definitely! She’s our boss.”

“And the best boss we’ve ever had!”

“Yep. Better than our last boss.”

“Let’s not talk about that. You know I don’t like talking about him.”

“Yes, I know and I’m sorry. But it’s true. Dot’s so much nicer than…you know who.”

Kalyle listened to the conversation. Their last boss must have been the Command.Com. He figured their incessant chatter got them bumped down to be the Lieutenant’s body guards.

“But Dot’s the best.” replied the red bot. Was that Hack? Or Slash? Kalyle didn’t know.

“Yes and so is Bob.”

“Oh yes. Bob is great.”

“And Dot and Bob are great together.”

“Yep. And they have the cutest kids.”

“Absolutely. Nicki and Jet. You’ll have to meet them.”

“They’re so precious.”

“And Kit.”

“Yes. Kit looks just like Bob.”

“You think so? I think he looks a little like Dot myself.”

“He does look like her. I think he looks like them both.”

“But he has Bob’s…”

“Shh! We’re not supposed to say anything about that! We promised Dot we would not talk about that!”

Interesting, KD thought. What was it that this Kit had of Bob’s? Wait. Did they say Bob? As in Guardian Bob, 452? He wondered if this Kit might have Bob’s keytool. Turbo said Bob didn’t have it anymore. Well not exactly, but the Prime Guardian wouldn’t elaborate. He also didn’t say anything about Bob being in this system. He just said he had returned to his own system, after turning down a position to take over as Prime Guardian.

How could anyone turn down something like that? What would possess someone to give up the opportunity to serve as head of the Guardian Collective? Perhaps the fear of Daemon still raged on. After all, she did nearly destroy the Collective. It took hours to bring the name Guardian back to it’s original high standing and now she was plaguing systems once again. Kalyle wondered when the problem would come to Mainframe.

The trio soon reached the door to the Principal Office and, after a small argument between Hack and Slash as to who would use whose code to get in, the two bots led Kalyle down a hallway until they stopped in front of an open door.

“This is the place, little friend.”

“Yep. Come with us and you’ll meet Dot.”

Hack and Slash entered the room, with Kalyle behind them. The room was rather large, with consoles on two of the walls. A large table was set in the middle, in which three sprites were at sitting and talking. To Kalyle’s left was an office door, where Hack and Slash both went to. The two argued at who would knock on the door, when it opened and an attractive green skinned sprite walked out. She shook her head at the two and smiled.

“Did you guys want me for something?”

The two stopped their quarreling and looked at her.

“Oh yes, Dot. Hack and I…”

“I and Slash have brought you…”

“A friend!” They both chimed, pointing at the new arrival.

The woman called Dot looked at Kalyle with suspicion. “So you’re the one who tripped the scanners.” she scowled at him.

“Sorry about that.” the young sprite said, sheepishly. “But Turbo said I could come and ask for your help.”

“Turbo told you to come here?”

Kalyle turned to look at the speaker. He was blue, with dark eyes, and was wearing a silver suit of armor. He had a few scars around the corners of his face. The one thing that caught the cadet’s attention was the icon placed firmly in the center of the sprite’s chest.

“Turbo sent me here to ask for your help.” Kalyle said, wondering if this Guardian was the Guardian. He then turned to talk to Dot. “I was hoping to speak to your Command.Com.”

“You’re looking at her.” Dot said.

Kalyle tried to hide his surprise, but ultimately failed. He didn’t think the Command.Com was female. He sensed he might have made a bad impression and tried to right it. “Oh.” he said, his surprise coming through in his voice. “I didn’t…I mean, I don’t think I’ve met a prettier leader for a system before.” Dot raised an eyebrow at the sprite. She wasn’t basic.

“I’m sure you’ve been to many systems, sir.” Dot replied, folding her arms. “And I’m sure you’ve met a lot of system commanders. But to this one, flattery gets you nothing.”

Kalyle was quickly knocked off his little pedestal. He saw the look Dot was giving him and the snickering that was coming from the other sprites in the room. The blue Guardian walked over and put his arm around the Command.Com’s shoulder.

“First rule, Cadet, never underestimate the intelligence of the Command.Com.” Bob chuckled.

Kalyle blushed slightly, not only at his assumption that the commander would be a male, but the fact that he was called on it, not once but twice. Something else struck him. “How did you know I was a cadet?” he asked.

Bob pointed to the sprite’s icon. “That is a Guardian icon.” he replied, smiling. “You couldn’t miss that.” Bob then extended his hand to the young sprite. “I’m Guardian 452. But you can call me Bob.”

Kalyle took the Guardian’s hand and shook it. He then held his out to Dot. “Sorry about the implications.” he said. “I’m still a little wet behind the gears, you know. I didn’t mean anything by it. And I certainly didn’t mean to offend you. Truce?” Dot looked at the hand and took it, grinning slightly.

“Truce.” she said.

“I’m Guardian 927. Cadet Kalyle Daniels.”

“Dot Matrix, Command.Com of system Mainframe. Pleased to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.”

“What seems to the trouble plaguin’ ya, sugah?” asked Mouse.

“Oh, Cadet, meet Mouse and Ray Tracer.” Bob said.

Kalyle knew exactly who they were. Mouse was a known and wanted hacker and he knew he had seen that guy Ray on a wanted poster as well. He stood there, his mouth open in shock. He quickly pulled Bob closer, his eyes never leaving the two wanted criminals. “Do you know who they are?” he whispered, urgently.

“Yeah. I just introduced you.”

“That’s Mouse. She’s a wanted hacker. She hacked into the Super Computer.”

“I know.”

“And that guy she’s with. That’s a search engine, wanted in two different systems.”

“I know that too.”

“You…you do?” Bob nodded. “Oh. Well, I…I just…I just wanted…”

“You don’t have to worry about them. They’re on our side. Promise.”

Kalyle let go of Bob, his eyes still on the hacker and the surfr. This was a weird system. A woman commander, a wanted hacker and a wanted search engine working on the side of good, and two squabbling, basic bots. He had never seen anything like this. Mouse’s earlier question suddenly popped into his head.

“I need your help.” he said. “There’s something terrible happening out in the Net. That’s why Turbo sent me. He’s hoping you can help.”

“We’ll help anyway we can, Cadet.” Bob said, his humorous manor replaced by a serious one.

“Exactly what is it that you need help with, Mr. Daniels?” Dot asked.

“Well,” KD started, throwing a look at Mouse and Tracer. “I’ll need to talk to the Command.Com and the Guardian of the system. But seeing as you’re here already…”

“Oh, I’m not the Guardian of the system.” Bob said, laughing.

“Huh?”

“Well, I am, but not really. What I mean to say is…”

“What Bob is saying, is that our entire team isn’t here.” Dot said, poking Bob in the ribs. “We’ll need our system engineer here and our other two Guardians…”

“Other two Guardians?” Kalyle asked in surprise.

“And we’ll need our little Phong here, too.” Mouse replied, with a grin. “Can’t do nuttin’ without him.”

At the mere mention of his name, Phong appeared from behind Kalyle to be seen by the rest of the group. “I thought I heard my name, children.” Phong replied, a cup of cocoa in his hand. “Is something wrong?”

Kalyle back spaced a little from the small sprite. Who was this? So many surprises in one second was a little much. “Nothing’s wrong, mate.” Ray replied. “But this bloke seems to have a problem.” Ray pointed to Kalyle. Phong whirled around and saw the new arrival.

“Oh, hello there.” he said, cheerfully. “I must have missed you. I am Phong, the system’s administrator. And you are?”

“Um…Guardian 927. Daniels. Cadet Kalyle Daniels, Mr. Phong, sir.” the young sprite said, holding out his hand.

“Ah yes!” Phong replied. “You must be the guardian Turbo sent to us!I suggest we assemble our team. I think we have many things to disgust.” The last comment was made in the direction of Dot, who sighed and nodded.

“I’ll get AndrAIa and tell her to bring the boys.” Dot replied. “I guess I should start first.”

 


 

Dot sat on her desk in her office, rehersing in her mind what she would say. Phong had come to her last night about a conversation he had with AndrAIa and Mouse. Everyone was worried about her, about Enzo and Matrix and were curious as to what was going on. Phong said it was her decision to make if she wanted to tell anyone. The events of the second had upset them, he knew. He had gripped with the decision as to whether he should even show them the video. But he knew they had to know. It was their right as James’ children.

And Dot had thought about the same thing. As the oldest, it would be her decision, but she felt bad not letting Enzo and Matrix know. She knew they weren’t going to tell AndrAIa what was wrong. She had trouble trying to tell Bob what was wrong. They all had a right to know what had been bothering them, especially Mouse and Ray, who didn’t know the whole story.

But the thing about this was she wouldn’t be telling her family and friends what was going on. She’d be telling them and a stranger. Bob had said the young man was a Guardian Cadet. Turbo had sent him there for help. But for what? Dot wasn’t comfortable with it. She and her brothers were already offlined, they didn’t need another crisis. Dot shook her head. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.

With one last sigh, Dot stood up, opened the door, and walked in the command center.

 


 

Kalyle was sitting at the oval table in the middle of the room, thinking. He made glances around the room a couple of times and was struck by the fact that most of the staff were binomes. Not that there was anything wrong with that. He figured there were more sprites in the system.

His processor was going over the sprites he had met and were going to meet. He couldn’t believe this system had three Guardians protecting it. Why would a system need three Guardians? It was like a waste. There were systems that could’ve used Guardians and here there were three.

That made him think about Mouse and that Tracer guy. Two wanted criminals, right here in Mainframe and everyone acted like it was no big file! Mouse had hacked into the Super Computer for starters, not to mention her other past crimes. And that Tracer dude was wanted in two different systems. He wasn’t sure what for, but he had seen the wanted posters hanging in the Super Computer. And it wasn’t like they were hiding out.

Maybe they were.

Turbo hadn’t given him the co-ordinates to Mainframe. He had opened the portal for him, saying to keep this thing under his top. Kalyle had only heard of the place from Turbo and other Guardians who had been at the Super Computer with Bob. He had never seen it on a map. It was totally offline from the Net. Probably because of Mouse and Ray no doubt.

What was this thing Dot had to talk to everyone about? It must be something pretty grim. Now he felt bad. He certainly didn’t want to burden them with all of his troubles, especially if they had their own. Matrix, Matrix, where had he heard that name before? And what was with Bob and Dot? He remembered that those bots, Hack and Slash, said they had children together. Were they married?

He couldn’t remember if he saw a ring or not. And who was this Kit and what did he have of Bob’s? He must have Bob’s keytool, but why? How did he get it? Friend or force? Before he knew it, Kalyle was eager to get this meeting started. He had questions he needed answers to.

He turned his gaze to the door and saw three more sprites enter. One was a beautiful tan sprite, with blue-ish grey eyes, and a pretty smile. Her arm was around one of the male sprites that accompanied her. Kalyle thought he recognized the young sprite. He was dressed in a Guardian uniform and had a keytool on his left wrist. He was green, like Dot, and after dismissing the boy as a possible child of Bob and Dot, he concluded that was her brother or something.

The other sprite was green as well, maybe another brother to Dot. Kalyle couldn’t help stare at the large man. He only had one eye, his right eye was a gold cybernetic eye, with an ‘M’ engraved on it. The guy was muscular, he could probably bench press Kalyle, and he definitely didn’t look happy. Come to think of it, the little green guy didn’t look too excited either.

The System Administrator, Phong as he wanted to be called, rolled into the room and headed for the table where Kalyle sat. Kalyle stood, thinking he might be in someone’s seat, and waited for everyone to sit. Surprisingly to him, Mouse and Ray also had seats at the table. Phong pushed a chair towards him and the lad sat down, in between Phong and Ray.

“Well, I did say we’d be having a meeting and here we are.” Dot replied, trying to sound cheerful about gathering everyone around. “Anyway, it’s kinda come to my attention that you guys are worried about us and it’s only fair that I tell you what’s going on.”

“Dot…”

“It’s only fair, Enzo.” Dot replied. She then looked at Kalyle. “I apologize that you have to hear this, Mr. Daniels.” she said. “This was really intended to be a private meeting.”

“Please,” Kalyle said, trying to shift attention from him being the new guy in a bad situation. “The intrusion is mine.”

“Dot,” AndrAIa said, nodding her head towards Kalyle. “Maybe this should wait…”

“No, Andri,” Dot sighed. “I’d rather get this out for everyone. Besides, it might be useful to Mr. Daniels’ problem.”

AndrAIa, Matrix, and Enzo looked at Kalyle. It was the first time they really noticed him since they had walked in. The three exchanges glances with each other before turning their attention back to Dot.

“As I was saying,” Dot continued. “It’s only fair you all know what’s going on.”

“Everything’s all right, isn’t it Honey?” Mouse asked, concerned.

“Yes and no.” Dot said. “I’ll explain.”

She turned to Phong, who handed her a disk. She placed the disk in a compartment in her area of the table and a large vidwindow appeared. On screen, was the picture of a beautiful city. Kalyle could’ve sworn it was Mainframe, along with the others in the room, except for the Matrixes and Phong.

“This…” Dot began, keeping her emotions in check. There was time and place for crying and that was no time, no where. “This is…or rather was, the Twin City.” She studied the picture for a while longer, before adding, “Nice place, huh?”

Matrix and Enzo didn’t answer her. They weren’t even looking at the screen.

Dot hit the forward button on the window and the picture switched from the system of the Twin City to a handsome green skinned sprite. If he had a thin beard instead of the goatee, he could easily pass for Matrix. “Hey, he kinda looks like you, mate.” Ray replied, glancing at Matrix. AndrAIa glared at him and Mouse hit him on the shoulder. Kalyle looked between Matrix and the sprite on the vidwindow. There was certainly a resemblance.

Dot smiled over her shoulder at the surfr.

“As he should, Ray.” She said, returning back to the picture. “This…was Dr. James Matrix.”

“As in the Dr. James Matrix!?” Kalyle exclaimed.

“You’ve heard of him?” Ray asked.

“Heard of him?” Kalyle rolled his eyes. For a search engine, this one didn’t know much. “Dr. Matrix was a premiere scientist. He travelled around the Net, doing lectures sometimes. The guy’s great!” Something then donned on him. “Matrix! Of course! I knew I recognized that name! You guys are related to Dr. Matrix?”

“You could say that.” Enzo muttered.

“Wow!” Kalyle replied, a huge smile coming to his face. “That’s why Turbo sent me here. Man, this is great!” Kalyle’s excitement seem to annoy Enzo and Matrix, confuse Ray, Mouse, and AndrAIa, and concern Dot, Phong, and Bob. “Hey, wait a minute.” Kalyle said, his excitement fading. “What do you mean that was Dr. James Matrix? He’s not…you know…”

“What?” Matrix asked, sarcastically. “Deleted? Yeah. Has been for a while now. He’s deleted. Offline, quit without saving, end file. He’s gone for good and he ain’t coming back.”

“I…I didn’t mean any…anything by it.” Kalyle stuttered. “I just…I just thought that with the relatives of Dr. James Matrix helping out, it could really solve my problem.”

“And what is your problem, Mr. Daniels?” Phong asked, highly intrigued.

“Bugs.” Kalyle said, soberly. “A last gift from Daemon. It’s not wide spread, but it is becoming a problem.”

“And you think my father’s work could help somehow?” Dot asked.

So that’s how they were related, Kalyle thought. “Well, it wouldn’t hurt.” he said. “I mean, your father was one of the best scientist in the Net. Everything he did was a success. I mean, he was working on changing nulls back into sprites. If he could do that…”

“No.” Matrix said, standing and glaring at the new arrival in their group. “No! That’s somewhere we’re not heading. Now, we’ll help you any way we can, but we’re leaving my father out of it.”

“Come on!” Kalyle insisted. “Your dad was working on changing the nullification process! Surely a little bug problem wouldn’t be too hard. What could it hurt?”

“What could it hurt?” Enzo exclaimed, also rising from his seat. “What could it hurt, he says. Do you have any idea!? No, of course not. You don’t live here. You’ve never been here.”

“Enzo, Matrix, calm down.” Dot pleaded. She was well aware of her brothers’ tempers.

“Look, let’s not rule out anything.” Kalyle replied, his hand gripping the weapon under his coat. He didn’t want to hurt them, but he would if he had to. “We’re talking about the fate of an entire system.”

“My father already destroyed one system!” Matrix roared.

“Enzo!” Dot cried.

Matrix seemed to realize what he had said. He calmed down a bit. “I won’t let him do it again.” he whispered. “I have to go check on the CPUs.” He pushed his seat back and stormed out of the room. Enzo gave one last evil glare at Kalyle before leaving after his brother.

“I apologize for my brothers’ outburst, Mr. Daniels.” Dot replied, staring at the exit the two had left from. “Our father isn’t regarded as highly as you think he is.”

“Ray, darlin’, why don’t we show the little cadet here the scenic views of Mainframe?” Mouse replied, standing and pulling Ray and Kalyle with her.

“Good idea, Love.” Ray said, catching the ‘let’s blow this popsicle stand’ look she was giving him. To Kalyle he said, “Come on, boy-o. This here’s a great system. It’s a bit of all right if you ask me.”

“Come on, sugah.” Mouse coaxed, dragging the resisting cadet by the arm towards the door. “Time for some sightseein’.”

“AndrAIa, may I ask for your assistance with protocols?” Phong asked, whirling towards the door as well.

“Huh?” AndrAIa asked, slightly confused. Then seeing the look on Phong’s face, she got the hint. “Oh!” she exclaimed, getting out of her chair. “The protocols! Of course, Phong. I’ll give you a hand.” She went to the door and said over her shoulder to the two remaining sprites. “You know those pesky protocols.”

“Dot?”

Bob stayed seated, looking up at his wife the entire time. She was trying to control her emotions by breathing deeply, which seemed to help. He reached over and took her hand in his, gently stroking the back of her hand with his thumb. “They’re right, Bob.” she sighed, her eyes closed.

“Who is?”

“Everyone.” Dot opened her eyes and looked down at him. “Enzo, Matrix, that cadet…”

“Daniels.” Bob corrected.

Dot nodded. “It’s our duty to help him, Bob.”

“Of course.”

“But Matrix is right. Do we really want to take a chance on something that Dad…Dr. Matrix invented? He has destroyed one system all ready and…”

“Shh. Come here.” he said, pulling Dot down to sit on his lap. “Look, I know it’ll be a hard decision, but you know you don’t have to make it alone. I’m always here if you need me, Dot. You know that.”

The two sat in silence for a few micros, Bob holding her on his lap and Dot’s arms around his neck, her head resting on his shoulder. “You’ll have to talk to them, you know.” Bob replied, rubbing her back.

“I know.” Dot sighed. “It should be their decision too.”

“And you’ll have to talk to Kit.” Dot looked at him quizzically. “He’s not basic, you know.” Bob said, a small grin on his face. “He knows something’s up and I think only his mother can put his fears at rest.”

“You’re right.” Dot replied, a grimace on her face. “And I’m sure Sabrina knows something’s not right.” Dot sighed once more, trying to decide what the best course of action was. “We’ll also have to talk about…well, you know.” Bob tried to read her face, wondering what she could be refering…

“Oh.” he said, nodding. “Well, you must admit, they do possess an incredible talent. It might come in handy…”

“Don’t even think it!” Dot gasped. “If we’re dealing with bugs, Bob, I refuse to have my son and niece go up against them!”

“Dot,” Bob replied gently. “I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking game wise…”

“Which is just as worse.”

“But seeing as you brought up Cadet Daniels’ problem…”

“Bob!”

“Look, tomorrow starts the cycle’s end.” he said, hugging her tighter. “Let’s call a meeting for then and let’s have Kit and Bri in on it. It’s not fair they don’t know what’s going on. You know how I feel about keeping secrets, Dot. It’s not right. At any age. They aren’t basic.”

“But they are children.” Dot whispered. “And Kit’s our son. Sabrina’s our niece. Do you really want to put them in danger?”

“I’m not.” Bob sighed, with a shake of his head. “I’m just saying they need to know what’s going on. First things first though. They have to know what’s going on with you and your brothers. At least Kit does. How Matrix and AndrAIa handle Sabrina is up to them. Besides…Dr. Matrix is his grandfather. Deleted or processing.”

 


 

“So what’s the deal with the Command.Com and those two green guys?”

Kalyle sat in one of the booths in Dot’s Diner, across from Mouse and Ray. They had been zipping throughout the system, showing Kalyle the sights, but most importantly keeping him away from places that might contain the Matrix boys and especially away from the P.O. where Dot was.

“I’m not sure about that either, mate.” Ray said, sipping on his energy shake. “It seems Mouse here knows more about it than I do.”

“I’m just as much in the dark as you are, Ray sugah.” the hacker replied, popping a fry in her mouth. “But I will tell you what Phong told me and Andi. He found some quicktime movie file that he thought the Matrix line should see. Apparently it had some images of their parents and it offlined them a bit.”

“A bit?” Kalyle choked. “Did you see that big guy? I thought he was going to grab me and toss me out on my ASCII!”

“Matrix is like that, KD.” Ray smirked. “He’s a bit settled, thanks to AndrAIa and Bri.”

“Look,” Mouse said, becoming very serious. “Whatever’s wrong, Dot and the Matrix boys will tell us in their own time. No need to be gettin’ nosy.” She looked at Kalyle, who held his hands up in defense.

“Hey, I’m here as a good guy!” he proclaimed. “I’m not the wanted felon!”

“Then as a good guy, mate, I suggest you try not to get on our nerves.” Ray said, his tone turning serious as well.

Kalyle nodded in comprehension. It seemed like nothing he did this second was going to please this crowd.

 


 

“I do not.”

“I think you do.”

“No, I don’t. The very fact that you’re even implying that I do…”

“I’m not going on assumptions. I’m going on fact. Don’t tell me you don’t at least like her?”

Kit stormed into the diner, with Sabrina Matrix right behind, torturing him about some girl she thought he liked. The two headed over to the bar, where Kit grabbed two energy bars, handing one to his cousin. Kit sighed, not knowing how much of this he could really take.

“Hey dumplin’s!”

Kit turned and smiled. Saved by the bell or in this case, the hacker. She was seated with Ray (as was customary for those two) and some yellow sprite he had never seen before. He gave the guy the once over, noticing the icon on his chest and the leather jacket draped over the side of the bench.

“Hi Mouse, Hi Ray.” Sabrina greeted, walking over to the table.

“Hello lovely lady.” Ray replied, giving the girl his best smile.

Kalyle looked over the two children. The boy was about 1.0, maybe 1.1. The girl looked about the same age, maybe younger. 0.8 or 0.9 at best. The girl looked like the sprite AndrAIa he had met earlier. Tanish, same aquamarine hair, but just a little darker and those violet eyes that seemed to tie the Matrix family together.

The boy was a blue- green, dark spikey hair with small streaks of silver. He had dark brown eyes, much like his father. Both were dressed casually in t-shirts and jeans, the girl wearing a jersey with the name Vincent Black on the front and the number 280 in the corner, the back having the word ‘LIGHTENING’ written across the top and a large red and yellow lightening bolt in the back’s center. Both were toting book bags.

“How was school?” Ray was asking.

“Fine.” Sabrina replied, rolling her eyes. “As basic and boring as ever of course.”

“I don’t know.” Kit said. “I thought Ancient Languages was kinda interesting.”

“You would.” his cousin muttered. “But then again, isn’t she in your class?”

“Knock it off, Bri.”

“Maybe that’s why you enjoy school so much.” Sabrina taunted. “The girl of his dreams is in just about every one of his classes.”

“Sabrina, if you don’t shut up…”

Kalyle watched as a small white ball started to form in the boy’s hand. Out of instinct, his hand went to his weapon. KD knew he was just a boy, but still. He was forming a ball of light and who knows what that could do to everyone in the place. Kalyle’s gaze went to the girl, who didn’t seem to be phased by the impending danger she was in.

“Calm down, Chris.” she said, feinging a yawn. “No need to get your bitmap in a twist.”

As the boy calmed down, the light seemed to vanish as well. Kalyle was very interested in this. How was the boy doing that?

“Oh, kids, this is a new friend of ours.” Mouse replied, pointing to Kalyle. “Kalyle, was it?”

“Yeah.” Kalyle looked at the two kids. “Cadet Kalyle Daniels. From the Super Computer.”

“Aren’t all cadets from the Super Computer?” Kit quipped, Sabrina laughing along with him.

“Well…yeah…” Kalyle usually got a better response than this when he talked to other children in other systems. But then again, Mainframe wasn’t exactly a normal system.

“Don’t pay any attention to him.” Sabrina joked, poking Kit in the side with her finger. “I certainly try not to.”

“Hey, be careful with those.”

Sabrina shooed his complaining and continued talking to Kalyle. “I’m Sabrina Matrix and he’s Kit Lan.”

“Oh, you must be Bri then.” Kalyle surmised. “We were just talking about you.”

“Great.” Kit groaned. “What have you done now?”

“Shall I give you another poke? Maybe harder this time?”

“You do and I’ll…”

“Hey.” Mouse said sternly. “No trying to delete each other. I believe you made that a promise to your folks.”

“All right, Mouse.” Kit said. “We’re not gonna hurt each other. Again. Speaking of our folks, are they still at the office?”

“Well, darlin’, your folks are and I think Andri’s still there. As for Matrix…”

“Off brooding again, no doubt.” Sabrina said, with a shake of her head. “He’ll be alright. Frisket didn’t meet us at school today, so I’m guessing Dad’ll be protected.”

“Well, in that case, I guess we’ll say bye.” Kit said. “I’m sure we have homework to do.”

Sabrina did another rolling of the eyes. “Ugh! Don’t you ever get tired of being the voice of reason?”

“No, actually. I rather enjoy it.”

“I bet.” Sabrina grumbled, turning and heading for the kitchen. “I bet it’s because she likes you to be.”

Kalyle watched as the two children headed around the bar to the kitchen, Kit mumbling under his breath, “I will only use my powers for good. I will only use my powers for good.” and through the door to the kitchen. The two kids bounded down the steps to the apartment, each dropping their book bags to the floor near the couch.

“You want anything, Bri?” Kit called from the kitchenette.

“I’m solid.” Sabrina replied, grabbing the remote and flipping through channels. “Thanks though.”

Kit rumaged through the fridge until he came across things to make a sandwhich. He quickly made one and headed out to find Sabrina sitting comfortably on the couch watching tv. He plopped down next to her and started to eat.

“So, do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Like her?”

“Are you gonna start that again?”

“Hey,” Sabrina said, shifting so she could see him. “I’m only going off on what I see and what I hear. Don’t tell me you weren’t giving her the eye during lunch.”

“Bri,” Kit said, swallowing a byte of sandwhich. “Girls are just that. Girls. And they certainly don’t mean a thing to me.”

“Uh huh.”

“Besides, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there aren’t exactly a ton of girls floating about in Mainframe’s Energy Sea.”

“I wonder why that is.” Sabrina leaned back against the couch, gently chewing on her thumbnail.

“Should you be doing that?” Kit asked, a bit alarmed. “I mean, won’t you poison yourself or something?”

“Silly boy.” Sabrina chuckled. “I’m immune. Just like if you zapped yourself, you’d be okay. Though, I must commend you on your subject change. Very clever.”

“You might have something there.” Kit said, chewing thoughtfully.

“About you being clever?”

“That’s a given.” was the boy’s reply. “No, I mean why there aren’t any more sprites in Mainframe. Besides us, I mean.”

“Maybe they moved away.” Sabrina shrugged.

“Every last sprite?” Kit popped the rest of his sandwhich in his mouth. “Come on, Bri. That’s just dumb. Think about it. I mean really think about it. Besides us, and Nicki and Chip and Jet, there’s like, what? Four or five other little sprites here? I mean, why is that?”

“I have an even better question. What’s wrong with our parents?” Kit looked at her in confusion. “Come on, Kitten Kaboodle, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed! I mean, what’s the hidden file with your mom and my Dad and Uncle Enzo?”

“You got a point. I haven’t seen Enzo since the middle of the cycle.”

“Yeah and my Dad came home all late last night and his knuckles were bruised.”

“He got into a fight?” Kit asked.

“Knowing my Dad, he was probably pounding on the concrete. But it’s still weird.”

“I heard Mom and Dad talking last night.” Kit replied.

“About?”

“I didn’t hear the exact details, but whatever it was, totally got Mom offline. I’m kinda worried about her. And Enzo and Matrix.”

“That makes two of us.” Sabrina replied.

The two children sat silently, thinking about what could be so bad to get their parents so upset like this. And who was this new friend of theirs? The yellow guy in the diner. Why was he there?

 


 

“I hope you’ll enjoy your stay in Mainframe, Mr. Daniels.”

Phong was showing Kalyle his quarters for his stay in the system, a little room inside the Principal Office. It had a bed, a desk with a few books on it, and an organizer near the bed’s nightstand.

“This is really great, Mr. Phong.” Kalyle replied, looking around the room approvingly.

“Phong, please.” the wise sprite said. “We are all friends here.”

“All right.” Kalyle grinned. He liked this old sprite. He wasn’t sure why. He had only been in the system for a second and so far, he had half the staff mad at him. But not this guy. He was all right. “You can call me Kalyle. Or KD. Whichever you prefer.”

“Kalyle it is then.” Phong said, bowing in respect. “How long have you been a Guardian, my son?”

“Only about an hour.” KD replied, walking over and taking a seat on the edge of the bed. “This thing with the bugs has kinda given me a hands on approach, you know?”

“Ah yes. One of our Guardians went through that as well.”

“Tell me, Phong,” Kalyle questioned, looking around to see anyone could hear them. “Why is it Mainframe has three Guardians? I mean, it seems pretty useless for one little system to have three protectors when…”

“When elsewhere, Guardians are needed to protect other systems.” Phong concluded. He closed the boy’s door and rolled over to him. “You are correct, young Guardian. We are but a small system, but it seems we get our share of trouble, if not more. Our Guardians are here by choice. True, Bob wasn’t assigned to us by the Super Computer, but he choose to stay. He says because he fell in love with the sights of Mainframe. I, on the other hand, feel he fell in love with the sight of one of our residents.”

“Dot, right?” Kalyle asked.

“Correct.” Phong replied, smiling at the memory. “But as I said, the decision to be a Guardian for Mainframe was that of Bob’s. As was Matrix’s. And then young Enzo.”

“I understand all that, but surely they realized how utterly ridiculous that was!”

“Mr. Daniels, it is not ridiculous to want to fight for your home system.” Phong replied rather sternly. He knew the boy was young yet and didn’t know any better, but he still didn’t have the right to imply they weren’t worthy. “Our Guardians as well as our city have gone through barriers to see that Mainframe still processed. I believe that is in the highest honor.”

Now he had insulted him. Kalyle blushed at the smaller sprite’s words. It was an honor period to be granted a Guardian and to have three…Mainframe must be some system. “I’m sorry, Phong.” The cadet replied, his eyes downcast to the floor.

He had been put in his place four times that second, five if you counted the yelling he had gotten from Matrix and Enzo that morning. All that was doing was making him look like an uneducated null who was pretending to be a Guardian.

“I didn’t mean to imply anything. I tend to stick my foot in my mouth when I talk.” Phong placed a small hand on Kalyle’s shoulder.

“You are young yet and still have a lot to learn.” he said. He patted the boy’s shoulder and rolled out of the room.

 


 

Dot reclined against the back of the couch. This cycle was too much. She could just feel a system crash coming on. She had another TIFF with Matrix, this time over why Sabrina had to attend the meeting, yet another one as Matrix had complained, tomorrow morning. She then said she wanted him and Enzo in her office before hand. When she had thought it, it was supposed to help heal whatever pain they may be experiencing, but when she said it though, it came out as a superior officer calling his staff for a severe reprimand.

Dot felt herself on the verge of tears, when a noise from the hall stop her and brought her attention back. Standing there in icon covered pajamas, was Kit. He had gotten up mainly for a drink of water, but had ventured into the living room and found his mother.

“Kit!” Dot gasped, surprise by the sudden appearance. She had slightly been expecting Bob to pop up. “You scared me.”

The boy walked over to his mother and sat besides her on the couch. “Sorry.” he said. “I thought I heard something, so I came over.”

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Dot knew this was the cycle’s end, but little sprites needed their sleep.

“Shouldn’t you?” the boy retorted.

“Well…” Dot sighed. “That’s a long story.”

“It’s a long cycle’s end.” Kit quipped, smiling up at his mother. Dot shook her head, trying to hide the smile that passed her face. Kit got serious for a moment. “Mom, are you okay?”

“Actually, Kitten, I’m not.”

Normally, Kit hated when people called him that, but for some reason, he didn’t mind when his mother did it. He liked hearing her call him that, even though it was a girly nickname. “Can I help?” the boy asked. “I mean, I know I’m a little sprite and all, but…” The boy cleared his throat and looked away for a nano.

“I’m kinda worried about you.” he whispered.

Dot looked at her son, the concern look he held in those dark brown eyes of his. She patted the space next to her for him to scoot over. When he did, she placed an arm around his shoulder and held him tightly. “First of all, your Uncles and I love each other.” she stated. “So I don’t want you to think that we’re fighting. We’re just a little…” She paused, trying to think of a way to say this.

“Phong showed the three of us something about our past yesterday that really made us a little random.”

“Oh.” Kit whispered. He looked up at Dot. “Was it something bad?”

“No. Not really. I mean…there were some good images, but it reminded us of a bad time.” She ran her fingers through the boy’s hair, marvelling at how much he was starting to look like Bob. “It was about your grandparents.”

The boy’s eyes widened. He knew his mother never talked about her parents or even what life was like when she lived here as a little girl. Kit could only imagine what that must’ve done.

“It was so long ago, when it happened, that Matrix, Enzo, and I had tried to forget about it.” Dot continued. “We can never really forget about it, of course, but still. Reliving that…nightmare…brought up some questions that your Uncles and I may have had in the back of our processors.”

Kit looked at his mother. She was strong, he knew that, but this was something big. Something like this would probably knock her down. He struggled to get to his knees, so he could lean on her shoulder and look in her eyes.

“Gee, Mom, I’m sorry.” he said, a look of sympathy radiating from his face. “I really am. If there was a way I could bring them back, I would.” Dot hugged him, a few tears falling from her eyes to the cusion underneath them.

“You’re a sweet boy, you know that?” she said, kissing him on the cheek, then wiping her eyes.

Kit blushed at the compliment and grinned. “Are you okay now?” he asked, hugging her again.

“I will be, Kitten.” she replied, patting his back. “Listen,” she pulled back so they were facing each other. “We have a new…arrival…from the Super Computer and…”

“Oh that cadet guy?” Kit asked. “I already met him.”

“You did?” Dot asked in suprise. “When?”

“This afternoon when Bri and I came home. What’s he here for anyways?”

“Well, that’s what I’m going to tell you. You see, Cadet Daniels has a problem that he wants us to help him with. He thinks your grandfather’s work may help.”

“Wow.” Kit whispered. “What’s his problem? And why are you telling me?”

Dot smiled. Always suspecting something. “He has a bug problem and I’m telling you this because I called a meeting for tomorrow and your father and I would like you to be there.”

Kit’s mouth dropped open. He wasn’t sure he heard that right. “You…you…you want me at the meeting?”

“Yep.” She tossled the boy’s hair. “You’re compiling up, Christopher. You’re a smart little boy and it’s not fair to keep you out of this. Besides, Dr. Matrix is your grandfather. You have a right to know about him.”

“Alphanumeric.”

Kit felt almost compelled to call his cousin and gloat, but then again he also knew there was a chance she’d be at the meeting as well. After all, Dr. Matrix was her grandpop too. But with Matrix…ha! He’d call tomorrow and gloat. Thinking about Sabrina made him think of their earlier conversation. “Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“Is Grandpa Matrix…is he…is he responsible for what happened to all the other sprites?” He didn’t look at her when he asked. He kinda had a feeling he was, but he needed to know. Everything about his mother’s past was sketchy. But if she had told him things so far…

“Yes.”

“And the other city?”

Dot nodded.

Kit sighed out of frustration. Why he was frustrated, he wasn’t sure, but suddenly he was. He wanted to learn more about his grandfather, but he knew some things he’d have to learn from Phong. He could tell this would be painful to Dot and his uncles. The faint cry coming from down the hall caused the two to snap from their thoughts.

“Time for bed, Kit.” Dot replied, standing and helping the boy to his feet. The two walked down the hall, Dot stopping at the first door, while Kit continued to the last bedroom.

“Night Mom.”

“Goodnight, Christopher.” Dot called, quickly opening the door. “Hey.”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for talking to me.” Dot gave the boy a smile. “And for worrying.”

The boy smiled and shrugged. “I only do it out of love.” He turned and went inside his room, closing the door parcially.

Dot opened the door to the twins’ room and walked over to the crib. In the dark, it was hard to decipher which twin was crying, until she picked the culprit up.

It was Jet. He tended to be the crier.

Dot bounced the baby in her arms, noting he wasn’t wet or seemed to be hungry. Just a bad dream. As the baby calmed some, Dot glanced over the crib at her daughter, Phoenix, Nicki for short. Fast asleep. Bob had said nothing would wake that girl up and when she did awaken, she made sure everyone in vicinity knew she wasn’t a morning person, something that was only apparent in the Matrix family line.

Dot hit him.

Jet finally stopped his crying and was sleeping contentedly on Dot’s shoulder. She placed him down next to his sister and stared at them for while. They were starting to look a little bit like her now, the blue-green hue getting greener. She figured Nicki would look like her and Jet would look like Bob, maybe. Looking at them made her think about her own parents. How they must’ve stood like this over her and Matrix as they were babies. Jet and Nicki would have to learn about their grandparents as well. But that would come later.

It also made her think about this bug problem they now had to deal with. Kalyle would surely give them more information tomorrow, that’s why she called yet another meeting. Dot was worried though. She heard about bugs and what they could do to a system and what the queen did to the Command.Com and she didn’t like the odds. She also thought about Kit’s ‘talent’ as Bob had put it.

She wondered if Jet and Phoenix would have the same thing. She wondered if Matrix and AndrAIa had ever had these thoughts, with Sabrina’s ‘talent’ and now with Chip. What would he be able to do when he got older? Phong wasn’t sure exactly how these ‘talents’ manifested, but he had a pretty good idea. She wasn’t sure if they could trust Kalyle to keep this under his top.

 

 

 

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