Memories Are Made of This
Chapter 7 – You Are Now Entering Turic
A large ship soars by in the deep Energy Sea. Three mast heads adorned the front of the ship, of three familiar sprites to be exact. The Saucy Wench sailed out of Mainframe’s docks, heading towards their destination. At the helm stood Dot and a small one binome. “It was nice of you to take us out to the system of Turic, Gavin.” Dot was saying. “I know you don’t exactly have the best of luck with your ships when we’re around.”
“Nonsense!” Captain Capacitor exclaimed. “The crew and I would do anything for ye. Wouldn’t we, boys?” Exclamations and cheers went from the crew, causing Dot to laugh. “Besides, ye should know by now. Whatever Mainframe goes through, The Crimson Binome and his crew go through too.” The binome removed his hat and bowed before Dot.
“Well, thank you, Gavin.” Dot replied. “I can’t begin to tell you what you and the crew have done for us already.”
“Consider it part of our business deal and friendship, Dot my love.”
Below on deck, Matrix, Enzo, and AndrAIa stood looking out at the waters of Mainframe before the ship entered their first portal. Enzo had seen the Net before, while he had been at the Academy and even a little during the Daemon War, but it always amazed him.
It was so beautiful, the vibriant colors and hues that lined their view was breath taking. The only thing that rivaled it, or so he had heard from Ray, was the Web. Unfortunately, Bob didn’t exactly feel the same way, avoiding the mention of the place at all cost. But for now, Enzo was content standing by the siderail, looking out at the beauty that met him.
Somewhere below decks, in the cabin hold, a lone figure sat behind a barrel. He wanted to see what was going on, but for obvious reasons, couldn’t exactly do that. He had heard how beautiful the Net was and had been promised one second he would see it, though he was sure this wasn’t exactly what his parents had in mind…
A low growling noise interrupted the boy’s train of thought and he slowly turned to see what had made it.
“Frisket!” Kit whispered, hugging the red and yellow dog and scratching it behind the ears. “What’re you doing here? Probably wondering what I’m doing here, huh? Protecting Mom and the boys, huh? If I had known that, I wouldn’t bothered coming.”
The feral dog wagged it’s tail and licked Kit about the face. Frisket just wasn’t a dog, he was a member of the family, protecting everyone in his little circle, especially the Matrixes. He had been Matrix’s dog and had survived with him and AndrAIa game hopping. He had kept a watchful eye on both Matrix and Enzo after the restart, slightly confused as to why his young master had appeared again and how his much bigger master were co-existing.
But to Frisket, it didn’t matter. He would just have more people to look out for. And when Kit and Sabrina came along, he became a babysitter. Not that he minded of course. They were his babies, too. No one dared go near the dog if he thought they posed a threat to his family.
“Okay, boy, down. Down.” Kit whispered. “Look, you can’t let anyone know I’m here, okay? I wanna make sure Mom and Dad are alright. But then again, with you around, they should be, huh?” The boy once again hugged the dog and watched as it bounded up the stairs to the upper deck.
Kit looked around once more and stood up from his hiding place. He did some stretching to get some of the aches out and looked up the stairs to see if anyone was coming. He certainly couldn’t stay down here forever. It was bad enough he didn’t have breakfast. Now he was getting hungry.
“All right, Christopher, ol’ boy,” he murmured to himself. “Now what do you do?”
Kalyle walked down the corridor of the cabins below deck. His visit to Mainframe was getting stranger and stranger by the nano. First, the system had enlisted the help of a wanted hacker and a web surfer. Next, the system had not one, not two, but three guardians!
Then, for some strange reason, the Mainframe staff seem to be the only sprites in town (this Kalyle noted was being very odd indeed). And those kids! A savant and a kid who could predict game landings. And now this. They were travelling on the ship owned by wanted software pirates, who just happen to be the business partners of the Command.Com.
The young cadet had never been in a system like this before. Phong had told him earlier they were “special”. Yeah, special didn’t even cover it. With them aiding and abetting wanted fugitives, he’d been playing with the idea of turning the felons in. But after he got rid of this bug problem.
He had been giving a lot of thought to that and he really wished Dot had let that son of hers come along. That kid could’ve been useful, he thought, absently walking the long hallway. He was thinking to the point he didn’t even see the very larger than life one binome standing in front of him.
“Oh!” he exclaimed, bumping into the person in his way. “I didn’t…see…you…” Kalyle looked up and saw the second biggest binome he’d ever seen.
“That okay.” replied Princess Bula. “Just watch for next time.” The gorgeous giant than turned and walked away, leaving a very stunned Kalyle standing in the middle of the corridor.
“Maybe I need to get out more.” Kalyle muttered to himself, turning the knob to his cabin. Movement from the corner of his eye, though stopped him. He looked down the hall and saw the small figure he hoped he would see again. “This is going to be an enjoyable ride.” he smiled, going inside his room.
Kit quickly darted behind his barrel when he saw Princess Bula coming his way. After she passed, he peeked from his hiding place. That was too close, he thought, sitting back down. Running a hand absently over his stomach, he made a decision.
He was really hungry!
But how was he going to get food if it meant he’d be found out? “C’mon Lan!” he muttered. “You’re a resourceful boy. Surely you can find food without anyone finding you.” He rested his head on his barrel and thought. He was Dot’s kid! Of course he could come up with something.
Shaking his head, he tried to come up with a brilliant plan that would save him from starving and keep his presence on board a secret…and wasn’t having any luck. A glance at the barrel caused him to look carefully at the writing. Almost in disbelief, he dared to stand up and look inside.
Looking upward, he whispered, “Thank you.”
A short time later, Kit had eaten about six applets from the barrel he’d been hiding behind. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. After thinking of every combination possible, he had quickly run out of ideas to aid in his survival on board. And then he saw the writing on the barrel.
In big, bold letters stating “APPLETS” jumped out at him and indeed, when he looked inside the barrel, there were glorious piles of applets, just waiting to be eaten. And eat he did. He was finishing off his seventh, smiling at the best time he was going to have when something grabbed his shirt and hoisted him upwards.
“Um…hey there, Princess.”
The group of sprites and binomes sat around a large wooden table in the dinning hall. It was the only place where the crew and the staff could meet without being too cramped. Capacitor sat at the head, his large red hat sitting on the table beside him. Dot and Bob sat on his left, while Matrix, AndrAIa, and Enzo sat on his right. The group had been discussing possible ways of delivering the antitoxin and getting out, but there was a special weapon they were missing.
Cadet Daniels hadn’t shown up for the meeting.
Gavin had sent Princess Bula down to fetch him and when she came back, she had a surprise in her large hand. “Found stowaway.” she pronounced, holding Kit up by his shirt. The boy gave a weak smile, hoping the looks he was getting would soon leave the faces of those looking at him.
“Hey everybody.” he laughed, nervously. “What’s processing?” When his nervous, but cheerful manner didn’t get any response, he thought he should tell the whole truth and it would only take him a nano to make it up. “I can see from the looks you’re giving me, perhaps I should explain how I got into this current situation.” he said, his mind quickly thinking of an easy escape.
“You see…I…I was coming to say goodbye, right? And…I couldn’t find you guys. And I looked and looked and…couldn’t find you. And just when I was going to leave…the ship left. I tried to jump and swim back, but…um…I was too far away. And so…uh…there you have it.” He finished the story with a confident smile. Boy, they don’t look too happy, he thought, gulping.
“Ye fate isn’t up to me, Lad.” Gavin replied, looking around at the sprites.
“It is written, Captain, on what to do with stowaways.” Enzo mentioned, winking at Dot.
“You let them go on their merry way with a strict warning?” Kit asked, hopefully.
“They walk the plank.” Matrix said.
Kit immediately started laughing. They couldn’t be serious! “No…no…” he sputtered, trying to regain his composure. “Really.”
“We’re really serious.” Enzo said, nodding at the boy’s look. This made Kit laugh harder.
“We’re really serious.” Matrix replied. “They really walk the plank.”
“Mom…” Kit giggled, still unsure of his current circumstance. “Talk to your brothers. They’re talking crazy talk.”
Dot shrugged, doing her best to remain calm. “I’m sorry, Christopher.” she said, shaking her head. “If that’s the rule…”
“Oh, come on!” The boy’s laughter suddenly becoming nervous. “You’re not serious.”
“Those are the rules, Christopher, me boy.” Capacitor added, walking around the table. “I’m afraid it’s the plank for ye.”
Princess Bula hauled the boy out of the dinning hall, exclaiming, “You’re not serious. You can not be serious!” Capacitor brought up a vidwindow to Mr. Andrew, who was currently at the helm.
“Mr. Andrew, get the plank. We’ve got someone to walk it.”
A short time later, the crew and the sprites aboard, minus one, stood at the ship’s railing. They were still travelling the Net, colors all around them. Kit would’ve been in awe of it all, if he hadn’t been dreading this very moment. His hands were tied in front of him and he stood atop of a long wooden plank that hung out over the side of the ship.
“Okay, you guys are really starting to freak me out here.” Kit laughed, nervously. “I’ve learned my lesson, I really have. And I tell you what. I won’t be doing this again.”
“I bet.” Enzo replied. “You won’t be coming back after this.”
“Okay, listen,” Kit pleaded, humor still in his voice. They really couldn’t be serious about this. “Joke’s over now. I really have learned my lesson. You guys really aren’t serious about this.”
“Sorry, Kiddo.” Matrix said, shaking his head sadly. “Rules are the rules. You’re a stowaway. Stowaways walk the plank. Therefore…”
“I walk the plank.” Kit replied, sarcastically. “Okay. Fine. Fine! I’ll walk the plank, but you know what? I’m not gonna enjoy it. Nope. I’m not gonna enjoy it at all. Just to spite you.” Kit took a few steps forward and stopped. “Hey, if any of you feel the need to stop me from leaping into impending doom, please do not hesitate to act!” Kit looked back at the binomes and sprites currently staring at him. “I certainly wouldn’t stop you!” Kit took a few more steps forward, looking at the complete, but very beautiful, emptiness that awaited him.
“I don’t know about you, but I can’t bear to watch.” AndrAIa replied, reaching over and grabbing something from the side.
“HA!” Kit exclaimed, a huge smile coming to his face. “I knew you all wouldn’t go through with this! I knew someone was going to save me.” He beamed when he saw his aunt walking towards him. “And that person is AndrAIa. I’ve always liked you, AndrAIa. I knew that if someone was going to save me, it was going to be you. And you know…what…what’re you doing?”
AndrAIa quickly pulled a blindfold over the boy’s eyes and tied it tightly behind his head. “What are you doing?” he asked, incredulously.
“I can’t let you watch as those sharks eat you.” she said, tightening the blindfold. “Besides, I can’t bear to hear a boy screaming.” she said, softly kissing his cheek.
“Well, how do you feel about an adolescent crying?!” he exclaimed, still hoping this was a really scary joke.
“It was nice knowin’ ya.” Matrix replied, giving the boy one last pat on the back.
“Yeah, thanks a lot.” the boy said, his sarcasim bringing a smile to his father’s face. “And I hope you all are so understanding when I come back and haunt you in your dreams!”
“Man, are you gonna talk all second or are you gonna walk that plank?” Enzo asked. “We really have other things to do.”
Kit gulped and put on a brave face, but man was he scared! He knew he’d be punished, but this was ridiculous! He walked to the edge of the board, vainly holding on to the only object that was going to save him from the void that awaited him below. He was still hoping…wishing…praying!…that someone would say that was enough. Joke over. Punishment exacted. But none of that came. Taking a deep breath, he took the leap…
Kit hit something soft, but as soon as he did, he was shocked. “AGH!” he screamed, thrashing around in the net that caught him. “It’s the sharks! It’s the sharks!” He was screaming and squirming so much, he didn’t realize he was being lifted back on board the Wench.
“Will you calm down?” came a laugh. He instantly recognized it as his mother’s. He stopped moving, listening to the sounds around him.
“Am I deleted?” he asked.
“No, but I have a feeling you’re going to be.” AndrAIa remarked, glancing at Dot and Bob.
His hands now free, Kit quickly removed the blindfold and looked about. He was on his back, staring up at the very people he had seen before taking the plunge. He chuckled slightly, saying, “I knew you guys weren’t serious.” His joking aside, a serious look came to his face. “You really shouldn’t do that, you know.” he said. “Making a kid walk the plank.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be stowing away on pirate ships.” Enzo retorted.
Bob reached out a hand and helped Kit to his feet. “We’re going to have a long talk about stuff, aren’t we, Chris?” he said, his blue face taking a stern look. Kit merely nodded. “Come on.” Bob said, putting an arm around his son. “Maybe I can save you from your mother.”
“All right, lads!” Capacitor yelled, causing binomes to jump at his command. “Playtime’s over! We have a system to get to! Man those sails! Mr. Andrew, Miss Sally, to the helm! Mr. Christopher, where are ye?”
Kalyle lay on his bunk, staring up at the mattress above him. He had tried to get his own room, but that binome captain said he didn’t want any wasted cabins. “Besides,” Bob had told him. “What would be the point of having a bunk buddy?” Kalyle smirked at the memory. The big, bad guardian wasn’t joking now, in light his own wife had said they probably shouldn’t bunk together.
That had actually given the cadet a laugh. The first bunking list had been done by Bob and Matrix and was quickly thrown out by Dot. The next list had Bob and Matrix in one cabin, Dot and AndrAIa in one cabin, Enzo sharing with some binome, and he was partnered with the boy, Kit.
Needless to say, that list too had been scrapped, much to Kalyle’s disappointment.
Another list just changed Enzo, Kit, and KD around so he and Enzo were roomies. That didn’t sit well with either young guardian. So, it was changed again, this time to everyone’s liking. Bob and Kit were now “bunk buddies”, Matrix and Enzo in one cabin, Dot and AndrAIa were still together, and that left Kalyle with the binome. The cadet wasn’t trilled, but he figured his chance was coming. As soon as they reached Turic, he’d be able to scout the system and find a nest if any.
The closer they got, the more fear entered his heart.
There were still many unanswered questions that plagued his processor, mainly those that involved the sprites on board, but as the ship neared Turic, his main reasons for coming were clear. To search and destroy.
Turbo hadn’t said much about Turic, just that it was infested and needed help. Kalyle had seen a lot of systems that were infested, some coping well with little problems, others nearly offlined. He had learned early on bugs were the enemy and must be stopped. He just hoped this new infested system was in pretty good shape.
KD’s mind started to wander aimlessly, going back and forth between questions. The arrival of the boy was unexpected for his family, but very welcomed for himself. He thought Bob and Dot were holding the boy back, keeping him from using his powers like a true savant.
He noticed Bob wasn’t using his powers either, at least not all that much. He’d been blessed to see the Guardian open a portal, thanks to a tear. Normally, it wouldn’t have been anything. Any keytool could do that. But this was a guardian who had downloaded the keytool into his own codes. Kalyle still didn’t know why, either. That he had to find out.
That brought him to the two Enzo Matrix deal. After learning what he had, he had caught himself staring at both, whether they were together or alone, trying to figure out how such a thing could occur. One had to be a copy, maybe, but which one? And why, if there indeed was a backup copy involved, would anyone want to have a backup following them around?
By look alone, he never would’ve guessed they were the same code. They were totally different from each other, aside from that temper he had gotten a taste of. Despite that, the two didn’t resemble the conventional “twin”, if you will. There was a family resemblance, of course, but the pair weren’t exactly a family.
And that eye! What in the World Wide Web happened to Matrix’s eye? That just wasn’t normal. He had to have lost it in a battle of some kind. I wonder how Dr. Matrix deleted, he thought, randomly jumping ship from one thought to the other. Matrix had mentioned something about Dr. Matrix destroying one system already. What the Net was that about? The very mention of the man got both Enzo and Matrix hot under the proverbial collar.
Not knowing any of this was starting to get to him.
He hated not being in control. The last time he wasn’t in control, bad things happened. Sure, the perps got what they had coming, but still. So he was a control freak. So what? He liked it that way. But he didn’t like this one bit, not a bit. It seemed Daemon’s minions were still roaming and get stronger and stronger by the microsecond. They needed to be stopped. Now. And he just hated those that had come along with him, saying they could help. All they were doing was keeping the real power of the group away from the action.
He wanted answers. And he was going to get them.
The system of Turic. Once like other little systems in the Net. Full of sprites and binomes, going to and from work and school. Enjoying the second as they came, happy with the life they led. Local shops and business made the town, a shop and/or business on every corner. The owners always happy, chatting with the customers, saying hello to the binome on the street. Children played in the park and the playground, parents sat and watched, looking up at the sky, wondering what the future would hold for them and their children. Life in Turic had been simple. Any hardships were faced with a whole community behind it.
But that was then.
The system of Turic was not that of times past. As the Saucy Wench, slowly sailed into port, it was almost like a forgotten memory replaying itself in their minds. The looks on some faces were of silent shock, others held the look of remembrance. Remembrance of a time when they’re system had looked just as bad, remembrance of a virus who turned a wonderful home into his own image and when the image no longer pleased him, he left it to decay.
Matrix, AndrAIa, and Bob had that look. A shared look between the warriors who had come home to find their system near ruins.
Dot had that look. A look of a horrible memory. The memory of slow, losing hope, the lost hope that her home would survive and that her loved ones would come home.
The rest of the crew had been divided. Those that could remember that past quickly turned away from looking. Those that had joined on and may have heard of Megaframe, looked in awed shock and stunned silence. Kalyle took stock on the faces of the sprites that accompanied him. He turned and took stock of what was left of the system.
Whatever glory seconds this system had were now long gone. The little shops and businesses that had once lined the streets were now destroyed. The ones that actually still stood looked like hollowed out bunker shells, the only safe place the people of Turic could hide.
It was also a place where bugs could hide.
Kalyle paid close attention to the emptied buildings. Anywhere dark and dank was where those disgusting creatures could hide. He also noted no one was out. He figured he’d see one binome run by, running from whatever he thought was chasing him, but not even that. So far, the only people out were them.
“Sorta a sad reminder, huh boys?” AndrAIa whispered, seeing the look on their faces.
“This is bad.” Bob remarked. “Very bad.”