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Memories Are Made of This

Chapter 6 – Mainframe’s Dirty Little Secrets

 

 

 

The control/war room was quiet when Kalyle entered that night. He wanted answers and if the sprites he was now surrounded with weren’t going to tell him, he’d find out anyway. He had waited for the scientists from the lab to pick up the bug and even paid one orderly a couple of units so he could find out cause of death before the others.

KD had a feeling the others already knew what happened. He noticed the adults seemed to keep a closer watch on Kit and Sabrina throughout the rest of the second. He grinned. They were going to try and keep their secrets safe, but he was going to learn them anyways.

Kalyle walked over to the first console and removed his organizer from his hip. He made sure everything was still quiet. Even though everyone else lived in apartments or houses, the old sprite Phong lived and walked these halls, especially at night. He had to be sure he was completely alone.

He was about to do something that totally went against all guardian protocol, but he was at war. Mainframe would be at war, that was confirmed today when that worker bug had showed up. He’d have to do a complete scan of the system for a nest. That would wait. Now, he had other plans.

With his organizer in his lap, Kalyle quickly brought up the Mainframe registry, the file that had every sprite and binome living in the system logged. After bringing up the registry, he did a search for initiation files on the ‘matrix’. The screen brought up a list of five names:

Matrix, Chip D.

Matrix, Dorthea

Matrix, Enzo Gibson, Sr.

Matrix, Enzo Gibson, Jr.

Matrix, Sabrina A.

Kalyle quickly hit the link for Sabrina. The screen quickly popped up, reading ENTER AUTHORIZATION CODE. Kalyle looked at the screen with a growing amount of interest. Why would you need a password to view an initiation file? He went to work, trying to hack into the file.

Mouse wasn’t the only hacker in this little system.

He’d learned the trade as a hobby, never wanting to use it, unless he absolutely had to. It was against his guardian programming. But the business with Daemon and now her bug minions had caused him to do things he probably wouldn’t. Or at least, not get caught doing.

After about forty microseconds and two close calls, he finally made his way inside. AUTHORIZATION APPROVED. Without missing a beat, he copied the whole file into his organizer. He then came back to the Matrix screen and hit Dot’s name. It had her initiation file as well as her marriage file.

He clicked into the marriage file, hoping to find her children’s names attached. And he did. Clicking on Kit’s name, he got the same ENTER AUTHORIZATION CODE screen as before. The same amount of time transpired as he tried to break the code. Once done, he also downloaded the whole file into his organizer.

He was just about to leave when he decided to go back to the main Matrix screen. He clicked on the Matrix, Enzo Gibson, Sr and downloaded the file and repeated the process with the Enzo Gibson, Jr. file. He put everything back where he found it and slipped out and headed back to his room.

Standing in his room, his back leaning against the door, Kalyle let the breath he had been holding escape from his lips. He thought he had gotten away with the task. He hadn’t seen any security monitors anywhere, so he knew he wouldn’t be on tape. Or at least he hoped he wouldn’t. Regaining his composure, he quickly locked the door, and went to his small little desk.

Unhooking his organizer, he turned on the small light that sat on the desk. He just hoped the files had downloaded. Those codes were hard to crack, probably something Mouse had installed, but why? He turned on the organizer and looked for the files he had downloaded. A success! There they were, all four. He wanted to know this whole Enzo, senior and junior thing. Matrix didn’t look old enough to have a child Enzo’s age, but he clicked on the first file anyways.

NAME: MATRIX, ENZO GIBSON, SR.

INITIATION DATE: 100010010000011

FATHER: MATRIX, JAMES P.

MOTHER: MATRIX, PATRICIA ANN

SYSTEM: MAINFRAME

Kalyle kept the Enzo, Sr. file up and brought the Enzo, Jr. file.

NAME: MATRIX, ENZO GIBSON, JR.

INITIATION DATE: 100010010000011

FATHER: MATRIX, JAMES P.

MOTHER: MATRIX, PATRICIA ANN

SYSTEM: MAINFRAME

Kalyle was extremely confused. With the exception of the titles, they were the same initiation files! He was almost positive the Matrixes couldn’t possibly had two sons and named them Enzo. Unless both doctors really loved the name Enzo, something was definitely up. How could both Enzo and Matrix have the same initiation date, but be about ten hours apart? Kalyle shook his head clear, minimizing both windows. He then turned his attention on the files he had originally wanted. He opened Kit’s first.

NAME: LAN, CHRISTOPHER ROBERT

INITIATION DATE: 110010111000

FATHER: LAN, ROBERT P.

MOTHER: MATRIX, DORTHEA

SYSTEM: MAINFRAME

The interesting thing about this file was the fact that Phong had attached another file to it. Maybe that’s why it’s protected, Kalyle thought, clicking the link to open the file. Perhaps this would finally explain some things. The note was written by the old sprite himself. Kalyle started to read, knowing whatever was going on, Phong would tell him the answer. “I remember the second as though it just happened, which in fact it did. I had received a vidwindow from Bob earlier that morning…”

Phong was enjoying a relaxing cup of cocoa when a vidwindow appeared in front of him. The worried face of Bob greeted the wise old sprite. “Good morning, Bob.” Phong replied happily, bringing the cup to his lips. “How may I help you this lovely second?” Bob blew out a breath and looked around quickly, searching for any sign of his wife.

“Phong, it’s very important I see you right now.” the guardian replied.

Phong was worried instantly. He’d never seen the guardian’s face so troubled. Granted, his time in the Web had changed him, but it seemed in the hours after the restart he was returning to his normal happy-go-lucky self. To receive a call like this was very distressing.

“Of course, Bob.” Phong said. “Come and talk to me at the Principal Office.”

Bob nodded and closed the connection. Phong whirled from the command center, wanting to know what the problem could possibly be. Were he and Dot fighting? The couple were known to have their occasional TIFFs, but they always came back together in the end. Could something be wrong with Christopher? The boy had been initialized only an hour ago and already he seemed to be a force for his parents. Phong smiled. Parenthood was never easy, as they had discovered.

A short time later, Bob arrived at the Principal Office, with a small little bundle in his arms. He entered his authorization code and walked through the doors of the Principal Office. The guardian found Phong waiting for him in the hallway.

“I have been waiting for you, my son.” Phong replied, rolling towards the blue sprite. He greeted the small bundle in Bob’s arms and asked, “Is something wrong with Christopher?”

The guardian scrunched his face in thought and then said, “I’m not sure.”

“Then come with me.”

The two went to the medic section of the P.O. and Phong selected a room where the two could be alone. “What seems to be the problem, Guardian?” Phong asked, with a grin. Since the initiation of their son, Bob and Dot were always coming to him seeking advice, convinced their son was sick over the littlest of problems.

Phong,” Bob started, then placed Christopher on the table next to him. The baby easily crawled out, wanting to explore his new surroundings. “I wanted to bring Bobby down cause… well…I know you’re probably thinking this is just another routine crisis, but I really think something’s up.”

“What seems to be the problem, Bob?” Phong asked again.

“I wanted to bring him here, without Dot knowing, of course.” Bob continued, keeping a watchful eye on the little baby that crawled on the table. “She’d go offline if she knew.”

“Knew what?” Phong asked. “Bob, you have yet to state your problem to me.”

“I think he’s…gotten…a hold of something.”

“Meaning what?” Phong asked, confused.

Bob hesitated for a nano, then began to start. “Dot and I bought him a new crib last cycle because he completely destroyed his old one. Scorch marks on the bars.” At Phong’s confused look, Bob continued by saying, “I guess I brought him down to ask if…well…if it’s possible for him to have…inherited my powers.”

Phong looked at Bob and then at his son. “You mean the powers you acquired from your merger with Glitch?” he asked, still staring at the child.

“Yes.”

“It…might be possible.” Phong said, coming closer to examine the child. Like a typical baby, Christopher didn’t enjoy being deterred from his explorations. He wiggled and squirmed out of Phong’s grasp and started crawling again. “Because Glitch is now completely in your codes, you may have passed on some, if not all of your powers to your son.”

“What about Dot?” Bob asked, the truth not making him any happier.

“What about her?” Phong asked.

“Well…you know…when…when we merged and then when we took our vows…”

“Hmmm…” Phong replied, whirling about. “This is most interesting. I must admit I didn’t think this could occur.”

“Neither did I,” Bob said, picking up the baby and taking a seat on the table.

“Tell me, when did you first notice your son’s abilities?”

“About a couple of minutes ago.” Bob replied, bouncing his son on his knee. “He was playing in his crib and…well, I’m not sure what happened, but suddenly he had a small ball of energy in his hand. He must’ve lost interest, because it disappeared as fast as it came.”

“Hmmm…” Phong muttered, pacing the floor. “Interesting. It’ll take us time to fully realize his capabilities. Most interesting. I can’t believe I didn’t see this event happening.”

“Phong, back to Dot…”

“Hmm?” the wise old sprite asked. “Oh yes, whether she too may have these abilities.” He stopped his pacing and turned to look at Bob. “That, Guardian, I do not know. Perhaps even Dot may not know. In the meantime…”

“In the meantime,” Bob said, hoisting Christopher up into his arms. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything about this to anyone, especially Dot. I don’t think she could handle this right now, not with everything else.”

Phong was disappointed, but nodded to the request. Bob then took Christopher and left the medic ward. Phong continued to stay in the room, thinking about this conversation. He couldn’t believe this never crossed his mind. He knew of Bob’s new powers, but it never occurred to him that he could pass them on to his offspring.

And then there was Dot…

In all marriages, the couple has the choice of code sharing if requested. This act required each to download part of their code into the other’s icon. It was a symbol of true love and very very personal. Phong knew deep down, before they even came to him for the request, that’s what they were planning. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of this. With Glitch now a part of Bob’s code, that code was now partially inside of Dot as well as their first child.

Phong smiled as he left the room. Such a system he was living in. So many things had torn this system in half, brought it to it’s breaking point, and now they were at a time of considerable peace…in theory. They still had the super virus Daemon to contend with, but the wedding of Mainframe’s Guardian and it’s Command.Com had been a welcomed release from the upcoming war they would have to face.

And then, after learning that young Matrix and AndrAIa were engaged, happiness once again reigned as Dot learned she was pregnant. Christopher Robert Lan had been the first baby sprite initialized in Mainframe for a very long time, the first since Matrix had been initialized there.

The conversation he had with Bob was starting to fade away. Something like this wasn’t normal and he sure didn’t know of any other place that faced a problem like this. Well, hopefully for Bob’s sake, his son’s powers would grew less potent when he got older or perhaps he would learn to control them slightly better. The wise old sprite walked back to the conservatory, so he could water his flower and plants. Little did he know he’d be faced with an almost exact scenario hours later.

Kalyle minimized the file. So Bob’s son was a savant, someone with powers involving energy. At first, the only people in the Net, even the Web that had powers like this were Web Surfers or Guardians with their key tools. Now Kalyle was actually in a system with a savant, someone whose powers rivaled that of any Surfr or Guardian. But he hadn’t actually seen the kid in action yet, but he knew they were already a step ahead of the bugs. He smiled and brought up the file on Sabrina.

NAME: MATRIX, SABRINA ANDRAIA

INITIATION DATE: 110001100111

FATHER: MATRIX, ENZO DAVID, SR.

MOTHER: MATRIX, ANDRAIA

SYSTEM: MAINFRAME

Kalyle wasn’t the least bit surprised when he spotted another attached file by Phong on the girl’s initiation file. Perhaps this would shed more light on the two Enzo Matrix deal. He opened it and began to read…

“It was random, Phong. Totally random.”

Enzo Matrix, his brother, and sister in law stood talking to Phong inside the Principal Office. It was summer time in the system and young Enzo was home from the Guardian Academy. Recent events. though, seemed to ruin his summer vacation. The virus Megabyte had somehow survived the Web and had come back to terrorize the brothers, but in the end, the power hungry virus had been destroyed and it seemed as though things were returning back to normal.

Until the three came in to see him.

They had been at the beach that second, that’s what AndrAIa had said and they were casually talking about the events that had happened…

“I can’t believe he’s gone.” AndrAIa said, with a shake of her head. “I mean really gone this time.”

“And it’s gonna stay that way.” Enzo replied. “Megabreath’s gone for good and he’s not coming back.”

“That’s certainly a relief. Now all we have to worry about are…”

“Game coming, Daddy.” Sabrina said, bouncing her doll on her father’s chest.

“Oh, there’s a game coming, huh?” Matrix said, winking at AndrAIa.

“Uh huh.”

“Where’s it landing, Princess?” Enzo asked, going along with the silly games of a 4 hour old.

“Over there.” Sabrina replied, breaking her play only to point over Enzo’s shoulder.

“Gee, that’s awfully cute, sweetheart, but…”

WARNING: INCOMING GAME! WARNING: INCOMING GAME!

The three adults looked over to where the game cube was slowly going to drop, while the small child continued to play with her doll. Slowly, the adults turned their attention back to the little girl.

“How’d you do that?” They asked.

Phong stood and listened to the account and then turned to look at the small sprite playing on the floor. “You mean she accurately predicted the game cube’s landing area?” the wise sprite asked.

“Yes!” the three exclaimed. They were just as confused as he was.

“Phong,” Matrix said, kneeling down so he could be eye level with the sprite. “How is that possible?”

“Wait,” AndrAIa replied, trying to calm her companions down. “Maybe this was a fluke. A lucky guess.”

“That was an awfully good lucky guess, Dre.” Enzo countered.

“I agree with young Enzo, AndrAIa.” Phong replied. “This is extremely interesting. I’ve never known anyone who could predict the trajectory of a game.”

“Hey!” Enzo said, snapping his fingers. “I got it! What if it’s just something game sprite inherited?”

“You mean something only a game sprite could do?” AndrAIa asked.

“Yeah!”

“But how?” the game sprite asked. “And why Sabrina? I can’t know where a game’s gonna land.”

“Maybe we can ask another game sprite.” Enzo suggested.

“Hey, good idea Enzo.” Matrix muttered sarcastically, standing to face his brother. “Why don’t you go now and find another game sprite who’s living outside of the games?”

Enzo was about to reply when something dawned on him. There were no other game sprites living outside of the games. None that they knew of course. Just AndrAIa. Enzo sighed and a grimace came to his face. He couldn’t believe he’d even thought of the idea. Smooth move, Basic!

“Figured it out yet, dipswitch?” Matrix asked.

“Shut up!”

“Boys…” AndrAIa warned. After both had calmed down, she turned to Phong again. “So what do we do?” she asked. “What if this isn’t just a random case? What if she can really say when games are going to land?”

“More importantly,” Matrix stressed. “How did she do that?”

“I am not sure, my son.” Phong replied, once again turning his attention to the little girl. “It seems we have another extraordinary child on our hands.” The old sprite rolled away from the trio, who looked at him and each other in confusion.

“What other extraordinary child?” AndrAIa asked.

“Who’s the extraordinary kid?” Enzo asked.

Kalyle finished reading the first paragraph of the attachment and sat back in his chair. So, AndrAIa’s a game sprite, he thought, rubbing his chin. That would explain the fins and the nails. It would also prove to be very useful. He continued to read the next paragraph…

Phong sat in his office, puzzling over the recent events of late. They were still trying to uncover how Megabyte had re-entered the system from the Web without it showing up on the scanners. How had the evil virus survived in the Web for so long? Bob had only be gone a few minutes, an hour at most and that was only with the help of the Web Riders. How did Megabyte survive?

And now, on top of that, young Sabrina Matrix possessed an extraordinary power. Phong wasn’t exactly sure how the child could do it, but he was starting to agree with Enzo. Perhaps it was a game sprite power, one that AndrAIa didn’t possess.

But if so, as the game sprite had asked earlier, why Sabrina? And why couldn’t AndrAIa do the same thing? The wise sprite did have a theory though and it ran along the same lines as to why Christopher Lan had some of his father’s powers. But so far, he couldn’t prove it.

The system was still inhabited by those refugees from other systems, but not as many still there. But at least they could live life normally, though Phong couldn’t really see…maybe it had to do with the fact that Enzo and Matrix were in the system together at the same time, Phong thought, his mind jumping to a different track.

The old sprite shook his head. That had nothing to do with anything. Phong was back to square one. He had mentioned once that he lived in a most interesting system. It still held truth.

Kalyle sat back again in his chair. So Matrix and Enzo were the same sprite? he asked himself. That was so…so…so…random! How did they accomplish that? He had learned so much that night. Bob had downloaded his keytool into his own codes, something that was totally prohibited in the Guardian Academy, yet Bob hadn’t been reprimanded.

And now as a result, his son and probably those twins of his were going to be savants. And AndrAIa…a game sprite living outside of a game! Totally not possible, but apparently was. And now her daughter could predict where a game cube would be landing. This was an odd system to say the least.

Kalyle smiled. An odd system that was going to aid him in getting rid of the worst threats since Daemon.

 


 

The next second, the Mainframe Staff along with Kalyle Daniels met in the command room. With the events of yesterday, top priority was to locate a potential nest in Mainframe. Dot was looking at a map of Mainframe, trying to decide who would go where. Kit and Sabrina sat next to Bob, who was helping Dot with her task.

Kalyle smiled at the two children, who didn’t return the gesture. The young cadet noticed Kit didn’t seem to be his happy self. Kalyle looked at the boy, knowing the power the lad possessed. No amount of harboring could stop the cadet from using that kid as a terminator to this problem.

“Okay, I think I’ve figured out how we can go about this.” Dot said, bringing everyone to her attention. “This is what we’ll do, three teams will go and check two sectors thoroughly and make sure we don’t have a problem on our hands. So listen up. Bob, you and Ray will check out G-Prime and Baudway, Matrix, you and Enzo take care of Floating Point Park and the Kits Sector, and Cadet Daniels, you and Hack and Slash will check out Beverly Hills and Wall Street.”

“What’re we gonna do, Suge?” Mouse asked, looking at AndrAIa.

“You two will stay and figure out how that bug got here. Check any unauthorized portals and entries in this last cycle.” Dot looked at AndrAIa and then said, “You know what? Change that. Andri, you go with Matrix, Enzo you stay here with Mouse.”

Both Matrix and Enzo were a little surprised, if not slightly angered, at the abrupt switch, but neither said a word.

“Hey, what about us, Aunt Dot?” Sabrina asked, hoping she could get in some of the action.

“I think we should stay here and watch our siblings.” Kit offered, the first time he had spoken that second.

“What?” Sabrina asked, shocked.

“I think we should stay.” he repeated. “This is something really big and I think we should stay out of the way.”

“Of all the ridiculous…” Sabrina huffed, throwing her hands in the air. “You’re just being a basic little baby and…”

“I am not a basic little baby!” Kit exclaimed, bolting from his chair.

“Don’t yell at me!” Sabrina shot back, also standing and challenging her cousin.

“Hey, stay frosty, you guys.” Bob replied, trying to keep the two from blowing up at each other.

“Sabrina, you’re with me.” Dot said.

Sabrina smirked at her cousin, who was still fuming. Phong rolled over and put his hand on Kit’s shoulder. “Come, Christopher.” the wise sprite said, squeezing the boy’s shoulder. “You shall help me with some tasks I must complete.”

Kit stared at Sabrina for a nano, before turning to Phong. With a last look to his cousin, he said, “Yes, Phong.” The two headed for the door.

“Well?” Dot asked, looking at the group in front of her. “Didn’t I give you something to do?”

“We’re on the clock, Lovely Lady.” Ray grinned, grabbing his baud and leaving with the rest.

“Come on, Enzo, darlin’.” Mouse said, pulling Enzo along to a console. “We’ve got work to do.”

“So do we, Sabrina.” Dot replied, grabbing her organizer and heading for the door. The girl had to run in order to catch the young leader, wondering what her aunt wanted her for.

 


 

Bob and Ray flew along the streets of Baudway, heading towards G-Prime. The sector looked desolate since the destruction of Megabyte’s Silicon Tor. Phong and Dot had both been saying for hours how they wanted to build a memorial for those lost in the tragic events of Megaframe, but then the system was thrust back into a war.

Then they wanted a memorial for the Daemon War, but with all the activity in helping devastated systems, the plans were moved back. Bob was starting to wonder if anything would ever be there.

The two set down where the Tor used to stand and looked around. From the ground, the sector seemed much bigger without the Tor’s presence. There were still businesses as well as apartments in the sector, but after hours of having the Tor’s dominance, it was always still a surprise.

“Let’s check the alleyways first, mate.” Ray replied, bringing Bob from his thoughts. The guardian nodded and followed the surfer towards an ally.

“Hey Guardian,” Ray asked, as they searched for anything suspicious. “Whadda think of the Daniels lad?”

“In general?” Bob asked, using his Glitch powers to detect any bugs in the area.

“Well…as a guardian, for example.”

“As a guardian, I’d say he’s shaping up to be a good guardian for a system some second.” Bob replied, peering into a small hole in a nearby wall. “He’s determined, I’ll say that, but I also think he’s a bit zealous and acts too quickly. I think he’s looking out for number one and not those that surround him. That could be a problem later on.”

“Okay.” Ray said, also searching along the walls. “Now as Bob, resident of Mainframe.”

Bob stopped his search and looked at his friend. “As Bob, resident of Mainframe, husband and father, I’d say he was trouble. This new attention he wants to lavish on my son and niece is a tad bit disturbing.”

“You don’t he knows about…you know.” Ray suggested, looking up at Bob.

Bob sighed. “I don’t know, Surfr.” he said, after thinking about the question. “I hope he doesn’t. If he ever found out, I don’t think he’d keep this to himself. And worse, I’d think he’d use it to his advantage.” The two were quiet for a while, before Bob asked, “Why’d you ask?”

“Because I had a feeling you’d say that.” the surfer replied, grimly. “Mouse and I feel the same, mate. There’s something about him that’s not settling right with us.”

“How so?” Bob asked, intrigued that the hacker and surfer had reason to doubt the rookie guardian.

“For both of us, we think he’s too noisy.” Ray said. “Always asking questions that he shouldn’t. I’ll give him the point that he wants to get rid of his buggy problem, but needing to know what happened in the Twin City and the thing with the kids…no need to know that.”

“I agree.” Bob said. “That could lead to a downfall.”

“His or ours?” Ray asked.

“That I haven’t figured out yet.”

 


 

“I can’t believe I’m stuck here.”

Enzo had been complaining ever since Dot left with Sabrina. Mouse just continued her work and listened to her partner rant and rave about his sister.

“Did she mysteriously forget I’m a guardian now?” Enzo muttered, typing away. “Nothing in Baudway, Mouse.” he said, checking his screen. “I mean, what was she thinking? I don’t see why she had to change the teams all of a sudden.”

“Enzo, honey, are you going to blab all through this thing?” Mouse asked, sarcastically, never taking her eyes away from her console. “Cause if you are, I’m going to chop your lips off.” Enzo looked at her with an evil glare.

“I’m glad you see things from my point of view.”

Mouse stopped typing and looked at Enzo. “Now Sugah, you know I’m on your side.” she said, leaning back in her chair. “But I’m also loyal to your sister and brother. I’m just trying to find out how to get you three talking to each other again.”

Enzo sighed. “It’s not that easy, Mouse.” he said, looking away. “There are just some things we tend to disagree on.”

“LIke your daddy and his experiments?” The hacker asked, knowingly.

“You don’t understand, Mouse.” the young guardian said, closing his eyes. “Dot’s looking at this from a totally different point of view than Matrix and I are. She doesn’t understand why. I can’t blame her for that.”

“Well Enzo, darlin’, I think you should talk to your sister.”

“I can’t, Mouse.” he said, going back to his work. “Not until this thing is over.”

Mouse rolled her eyes and put her hands behind her head. Enzo continued his work, before he stopped and looked at Mouse. “Hey Mouse…”

“Hmmm?”

“You know, the only illegal entry came from when Cadet Daniels came through that portal.” he said. Mouse opened her eyes and turned to look at Enzo. “You don’t think…?” she asked, but was stopped by Enzo.

“Maybe not on purpose, but…”

The two immediately jumped up to start looking into the thought. Could the sprite that had come to help inadvertently brought the enemy to Mainframe?

 


 

Hack and Slash weren’t exactly the most discrete robots in the Net. To the residents of Mainframe, it was an annoying habit, but they knew the bots meant well. To Kalyle Daniels, it was annoying, yes, and dangerous. The last thing he wanted was to cause alarm in the system. The trio were now searching through the Beverly Hills sector, the two rambling bots waved and spoke candidly to passerbys, much to Kalyle’s annoyance and horror.

Sending the two bots on a hunt through Beverly Hills, Kalyle took this opportunity to call in to Turbo. Pulling out his organizer, he quickly got into contact with the semi-retired Prime. The Prime Guardian sat at his desk, reading over the recon report he had gotten from Cadet Hewlett when KD appeared in front of him.

“Yes, Cadet Daniels.”

“Sir, we’ve got a problem.” Kalyle replied, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Is Mainframe in trouble?” Turbo asked, instantly worried. “Is Bob all right?”

Are you okay, Cadet? Kalyle thought, his irritation rising again. “So far, things are all right, but not for long.” he said. Turbo looked at the lad in confusion, a look of worry also coming to his face. “Yesterday we got a bug.”

“Oh no.” Turbo whispered, his thoughts immediately focusing on how he would help combat against a new threat to the friendly system.

“I don’t know how it got here, but we’re combing the system looking for a nest.”

“And have you found one?” The Prime asked urgently.

“Not yet.” Kalyle replied. “I don’t know about the other teams, but I still have one more sector to go through.”

Turbo sighed and shook his head. He had already brought not one, but two wars to the little system. He didn’t want to be responsible for another one as well.

“Be thorough, Cadet.” he said, looking at the young sprite that stood before him. “I want to make sure nothing happens to that system. I’ve already caused them enough pain.” The Prime was silent before resuming his speech. “I want a report if anything else comes up.”

“Yes, sir. Daniels out, sir.”

Kalyle closed his window as well as his organizer. “Make sure nothing happens to that system.” he mocked, rolling his eyes. He could tell now why this system was so special, but what he didn’t understand was why Turbo hadn’t used that to his advantage.

A savant, a game sprite, and a kid who could predict the game cubes was special indeed and very useful to the Net. So why hadn’t the Prime said anything? Kalyle couldn’t understand the loyalties some sprites had. He was loyal to himself and that’s all he needed.

“Hey, there little friend.” said Slash.

“Yes, hello.” replied Hack.

“Did you guys find anything?” Kalyle asked, already retaining his headache from an earlier discussion with the two.

“Nope.”

“No.”

“We didn’t find a thing.”

“A thing we didn’t find.”

“Though we did see a lot of trees.”

“Yeah. There are many trees in Beverly Hills.”

“In all of Mainframe.”

“Okay, okay.” Kalyle sighed in frustration. “I get the point. You didn’t find anything. Nothing new there. Come on, we still have the other sector to check and I still want to check the Principal Office.”

“Why is that?” asked Hack.

“Yes, why?” echoed Slash.

“Because that bug got in somehow and I say the Principal Office is the best bet.”

The three headed off towards Wall Street, Hack and Slash gibbering about why Wall Street is called Wall Street when no street in the sector was called Wall. Kalyle, trying to block out the ridiculous conversation, concentrated on getting back to the P.O. They needed to do a scan of the building, just in case.

 


 

“So you’re saying Cadet Daniels brought the bug with him??”

Enzo and Mouse had waited until Bob and Ray came back before they told Dot their suspicions. “We’re not sayin’ he did it on purpose, Dot.” Mouse drawled, leaning against the chair that sat in front of her. “We’re just saying the only illegal entry came from him. Not unless those buggies are smart and can work magic on the portals, that’s what we came up with.”

“Great.” Dot muttered sarcastically. “So our savior is really our ticket to an infestation. That’s just great.”

“Dot, we didn’t say it was true.” Enzo defended. “We just said it made sense, that’s all. That bug could’ve come from anywhere.”

“Not likely.” Ray replied. “Bugs just don’t pop up from out of the data stream.”

“Look, let’s not argue.” Dot replied, wearily. “I think we’ve had enough arguments, don’t you?” Dot made a passing glance at Enzo, who sighed and looked away. “The most important thing is figure this out. Let’s say the bug did come in through the portal Daniels did. How? Why didn’t the sensors catch it? If the bug didn’t come in with Daniels, how did it get here?”

“And how many more, if any, could there be?” Bob asked, drawing a stunned silence from his company.

 


 

After the short meeting, Bob found himself on the way to Lost Angles. He had been wondering why Dot hadn’t added the residence of their registered virus. That was because she was saving it especially for him. Despite the fact that Hexadecimal had been a help after the restart and even during the Daemon battle, only few sprites felt comfortable and even brave enough to face Hex. Two being Bob and AndrAIa. The rest of the Mainframe staff avoided the ex-virus whenever possible. And seeing as Bob had been the first one back…

Bob zipped over to Hexadecimal’s, so used to doing things the old fashion way. It would have been easy to just portal over there [he always got lost in Lost Angles], but Bob wasn’t the kind of guy to over use a specialty. Sure, when he first got the Glitch powers, he’d portal everywhere. But it got tiring after while and Bob wanted to return to being a normal sprite. His time in the Web had changed him significantly and he just wanted things to be the way they were.

That was impossible of course, but it still would have been nice. But, as always, the pros outweighed the cons. If things were back they way they were, he and Dot wouldn’t be married and certainly wouldn’t have any children. Megabyte would be back and Hex would be the loopy, random, chaotic virus she had been before. Some things needed to take place in order for others to happen.

Bob zipped around the misshapen buildings and structures. It was hard to believe this was all that was left of the Twin City, a city when in its second had been beautiful and full of life. Maybe this was why the Matrixes usually never came near here. Too many memories, perhaps? Bob looked around, somewhat in awe, but another feeling accompanying it. As many times as he had been in Hex’s lair…Bob shook his head.

He was lost. Again.

Bob stopped in a clearing, near a large tower. “I’m always getting lost out here.” he muttered to himself, shaking his head. He looked around once more and thought about heading back to the P.O. when the ground opened suddenly and he was pulled inside it. He stopped himself with an energy blast and landed quickly on the tiled floor.

“Well, here it is.” he told himself. “I knew I’d find it eventually.”

“So did I, Bob,” a voice said from behind him.

Bob turned slightly to see the figure coming towards him. “Hello, Hex.” he said, cordially, giving the ex-virus a smile.

Hexadecimal hadn’t changed much. She was still a beautiful virus…err…sprite. Still a little chaotic at times, but with her masks now being whole, she seemed calmer most of the time. “Hello, Guardian.” she cooed, walking past Bob to a table that suddenly appeared before them. Hex took a seat in one of the chairs and offered the other to Bob.

“It’s so rare I get visitors.” the ex-virus continued, pouring tea into a white cup. “Especially you, Bob. I know the wife and kids tend to keep you busy.”

Bob smiled, like he always did when in Hex’s presence. He excepted the cup offered to him and brought it to his mouth, stopping to ask, “You wouldn’t have poisoned this tea, would you, Hex?”

“Now, Bob, you know I’ve given up poison.” Hex replied, leaning back in her chair. “Blasting is so much more efficient.” The sprite took a sip of her tea. “I know this isn’t a social call, Guardian. State your business.”

“To the point, as always.” Bob said, setting the cup down and leaning forward. “We have a slight problem, Hex, that I hope you’ll be able to help us with.”

“Oh yes, of course.” the ex-virus muttered, sarcastically. “Whenever there’s trouble, call on ole Hexadecimal. Is that how that works, Bob?”

“If you’re going to be difficult, Hex…” Bob started, rising from his chair.

“No, Bob, wait.” Bob lowered himself back down and folded his arms across his chest. “What’s the problem?”

“Bugs.” Bob said, solemnly. Seeing the confused look on her face, Bob continued. “Perhaps I should rephrase that. There’s only one bug that we’ve taken care of, but just to make sure…”

“Dot has you checking all of Mainframe?” Hexadecimal finished, receiving her answer via Bob’s nod. “And you think I’m responsible?”

“On the contrary. I said we needed your help. I need to make sure Lost Angles is safe.”

“So why didn’t your wife, the all mighty Command.Com, come and ask me?” Hex prodded, a wicked smile on her lips.

Bob sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “There’s a reason, Hex, but I’m not sure if…”

“Oh, don’t worry, Bob.” she replied, waving a dismissive hand in front of him. “I know the whole story.” It was Bob’s turn to be confused, as well as surprised. “I live in their former home. I may live outside of Mainframe, Bob my love, but I do have my sources. Namely that lovely game sprite.” Bob nodded, understanding the who, but as to the why he’s have to ask later.

“And quite frankly, I don’t blame them. Losing their parents and all. I too once lost a family member, you know. Sad really. You know, in some ironic way, I should be mad at the Matrixes as well. Destroying my brother like that. Not once, but twice!”

She gave a loud cackle, throwing her head back in amusement. After she calmed down a bit, she looked at Bob. “I shall look for anything unusual, Guardian.” she said. “And I shall give you a report.”

“Thanks, Hex.” Bob said, once again rising from his chair. “I do want to apologize, for Dot and Enzo and Matrix…for not coming.”

Hexadecimal again waved him off. “Understandable, I’m sure.” Her sentence seemed sincere, but the tone told Bob she was anything but.

“I’ll let myself out.” Bob replied, opening a portal and stepping through. He found himself outside in Lost Angles, amist the ruined buildings and towers. Figuring he had done all he could, he pulled out his zip board and headed for the Principal Office.

 


 

“Now, wait a nano! Wait just one nano!”

Mouse watched the scene from her regular chair at the table. No sooner had Cadet Daniels walked in when Enzo slammed him with their suspicions. Now, Mouse didn’t have a soft spot for the cadet kid either, but the tension between him and Enzo rivaled that of hers and Dot’s some hours ago.

Mouse just sat and watched, smiled and winked at Matrix, AndrAIa, and Bob has they came in from their various searches. And the hacker just shrugged when AndrAIa had given her a quizzical look about the argument.

“I’m not saying you did it on purpose.” Enzo restated. “I’m just saying that somehow that bug got here through you.”

“Didn’t it ever occur to you that the bug was already here?” Kalyle shot back. “Perhaps Mainframe’s already infested and you all don’t know it.”

“Believe me, Sugah, no one gets in this system without my say so.” Mouse said, speaking for the first time. “I’m that good.”

“No doubt.” Kalyle replied, remembering how hard his nightly task had been.

Suddenly, Phong whirled in, panicked and out of breath. “Whoa, Phong! Slow down there, speedy!” Sabrina exclaimed, jumping out of the oncoming sprite’s way.

“I am sorry to interrupt, my children.” he huffed, trying to slow his breathing.

“Believe me, Phong, this is one time I’m happy for the interruption.” Dot sighed, leaning her head against her hand. “What’s the problem?”

“I have just received a message from Turbo.” Instantly, all ears in the room picked up. “Specky is putting it through now.”

Moments later, a vidwindow popped up with the worried face of Turbo facing them. “Sorry to spring up like this.”

The Prime Guardian replied, giving the group a slight smile. He hadn’t seen these sprites since during the Daemon War, but he recognized the majority. He looked proudly upon his pupil 452 and upon his pupils, the Matrix boys. He received the expected icy stare from Mouse.

That woman would always hold a grudge, he decided. The children he didn’t know, but he could tell the boy was Bob’s and the girl was Matrix’s. She looked like her mother, but those were definitely her father’s eyes.

“Something wrong?” Mouse asked, suspiciously.

“Yes.” Turbo replied, ignoring the look and tone of Mouse’s question. “We have a problem in the system of Turic. And I do mean a big problem. I hate to impose, but…”

“You want us to come to the rescue.” replied a voice. The room knew immediately who it was.

“Who was that?” Turbo asked, peering around the room for the mysterious voice.

“It’s just Hexadecimal.” Matrix said. “You were saying?”

“Your registered virus?” Turbo continued. “I wasn’t aware she was still in the system.”

“Yes, I am.” the ex-virus replied, still not making her presence known. “But I could be there with a wave of my hand.”

“Hex…” Dot warned.

“Well…anyways…” Turbo continued, unconsciously checking around his office for anything odd. “As I was saying, Turic is now on the infested list. I was hoping you could spare any antitoxin.”

“Of course.” Dot responded. “I’ll get our boys in the lab to hurry it up a bit, but they’ll definitely have some if needed.”

“That’s certainly good to hear.” The P.G. replied. “But there’s a certain condition to all of this.”

“I knew it.” Mouse muttered under her breath.

“And that is?” Enzo asked.

“I need Cadet Daniels back.”

“Done!” exclaimed Mouse, Kit, Sabrina, Enzo, and Matrix in unison.

“I know my leaving is going to hurt you all, but try to control yourself.” Kalyle answered, sarcastically.

“He can’t go alone, Turbo.” Bob said, ignoring the looks he got.

“Bob’s right.” Dot said. “If Turic is really over run, he’ll need help. And I’m not about to send one of my people out there without some back up.”

“All right. The decision is yours, Miss Matrix.” Turbo replied. “I’ll leave the co-ordinates of Turic with one of your staff. Turbo out.”

Before the vidwindow had even minimized, Dot’s processor was going a mile a microsecond. She wanted a small group of people to accompany Kalyle on his journey, as well as bring needed supplies to the system of Turic. In an instant, she knew who would go and who would stay. “Okay, I got a plan.”

“That’s a definite good sign.” AndrAIa joked.

“All those that want to go, raise their hands.” Everyone but Phong did so. “Now, wait a nano.” Dot replied, looking at the sea of hands before her. “We all can’t go. Look, here’s what I say. Bob, Enzo, Matrix, AndrAIa, and I will go.” Dot put up her hands as seven buts came her way.

“Don’t try and talk me out of it. I’m going.” The seven sprites stopped their protests. Once Dot got something in her head to do, she was going to do it.

“You know, Aunt Dot, that’s a great plan.” Sabrina said, smiling up at her.

“Thank you, Sweetie.”

“So, I hate to be a virus, no offense Hex…”

“None taken.” Hexadecimal replied, appearing next to Mouse, who gave the ex-virus a look, but said nothing.

“I hate to be a virus, but what exactly happens to us?” Sabrina continued, motioning to herself and Kit.

Dot opened her mouth to say something and then stopped. Good question, she thought. “They could always come with us.” Kalyle offered, smiling sweetly at the commander. Dot returned the smile and with a bit of sarcasm replied,

“I don’t think so.” Dot thought for a few more micros before snapping her fingers. “Mouse and Ray will look after you.”

“It’ll give them some practice.” AndrAIa whispered, invoking a smile from Bob.

“I don’t think you should go, Dot…” Bob replied, trying one last time to change her mind.

“I think Dot has a point.” Hex said. “Some have to go and some must stay. And out of the goodness of my heart, I will volunteer to stay.”

“Gee, Hex,” Enzo said, smirking. “Miss an adventure with big, disgusting bugs for little ole us? You’re too kind.”

Hex understood the implication and smiled. “Yes.” she said. “I know.”

“Look, we have a plan.” Dot reminded everyone. “Let’s not detour from the plan. Now, all we do is check on that antitoxin and then get ready to go in the morning. You know…I think Gavin’s in town. Maybe we can persuade him to let us use his ship…” Dot’s voice trailed off as she thought about it.

“My sister.” Matrix said. “A proverbial library of plans.” Dot swatted his arm as she left.

 


 

Kit figured he had everything he needed for this trip. Sure, he wasn’t supposed to be going, but his entire family was leaving to face a horde of evil and ugly looking bugs. He couldn’t just sit there and let something bad happen. Besides, he could be of some help and he did want to know why that Kalyle guy liked him so much.

And he had a plan. With everyone on the docks saying goodbye, he would easily slip on deck and be aboard before anyone became suspicious. But he’d have to hurry. They had made a last stop to the P.O. for supplies before they left and Kit knew it wouldn’t take long before his mom had everything underway. With a final look around, he headed into the hallway…

…and ran smack dab into Sabrina.

“And where do you think you’re going?” his cousin asked, eyeing the boy suspiciously.

“Sabrina, don’t try and talk me out of this.” Kit protested. “I’m going and that’s final.”

Sabrina shook in her head in amusement. “Your mom is not going to like this.” she said. “And I certainly would hate to be the one to tell her…”

“But you won’t.” Kit said, taking a step towards her.

“When did we do a role reversal here?” Bri asked. “Aren’t I supposed to be the head strong one? The one who leaps before I look?”

“Look, Bri, I know you and I know you’ve been reading up on this bug thing.” When she didn’t respond, Kit continued. “Is what Ray said true? That the queen takes all the energy from the core?”

Sabrina looked at her cousin for a while, not wanting to lie to him. “Now, Chris, you know I would never lie to you,” she started. “So I’m going to tell you straight out.” She paused before saying, “Yes. It’s absolutely true. Ray was absolutely right.”

Kit stared at her for a while, not saying anything. He trusted Sabrina and she would never lie to him on purpose. “You’re lying.” he stated, his look never wavering. Sabrina looked at him in surprise. He was doubting her?

“Boy, but you’re good.” she said after a while, amazed that he knew her that well.

“So what does the queen do?”

“It’s bad, Chris.” she said. “Very, very bad. I’d rather not go into details, but queens do tend to take a liking to…well…Command.Coms and well…”

“I knew it.” The boy said, pushing past Sabrina and continuing down the hallway.

“Kit!” Sabrina called after him, trying to keep up. She finally got a hold of his arm and stopped him. “Kit, they aren’t staying long.” she said. “If anyone’s got to worry, it’s Cadet Daniels. He’s gotta stay.”

“What about my mom, Bri?” Kit asked. “What exactly does the queen do to a command.com?”

“That I don’t know.” Kit gave her a look. “Honest! I do know it does involve the core energy, but that’s it. Promise!” The two were quiet for a bit before Sabrina asked, “What’re you planning on doing if you get caught?”

“Well…Dad’ll probably zap me back here.” the boy admitted. “I just need to make sure everyone’s okay, you know? Promise me you’re not gonna say anything about this, Bri.”

“You know I would never rat anyone out.” she replied. “But man, our parents are going to have our bitmaps in a sling if anything goes wrong.”

“Look, if we go in and get out, no one will be the wiser, right?”

Sabrina nodded relunctantly, as Kit kissed her cheek and gave her a slight hug. “Don’t go losing any games while I’m gone.” the boy joked.

“Like that’ll happen.” the girl said, rolling her eyes. Kit waved a last goodbye and continued down the hallway to the door of the Principal Office.

 

 

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