Attack of the Clones
Chapter 2 – Someone To Trust
Matrix was upset.
Normally when he was upset, he’d shoot something. But that second, he just didn’t want to, so he went for a walk in Floating Point Park. He and AndrAIa had been arguing again that morning, something that was becoming more and more frequent with each passing second.
Matrix couldn’t understand it either. The past few cycles, the past few minutes in general, had just not been great. First they fought Daemon, then they got infected, then the worst of all…Megabyte comes back. In the form of Bob no less and wrecks even more havoc than he ever had.
Things had not been the same after that.
Now things were just as bad as when he returned home. And after this mess, no one seemed to be the same. The idea he had when he first came back and when…he…had first appeared again sprang to his mind. He could leave.
He wasn’t wanted there, he knew that. He was only in the way. AndrAIa was much more happier here than with him, that he could tell. She was always hanging around Mouse or Dot, laughing and smiling. He’d miss her, of course, but…
Coming to a bench, the renegade took a seat and sighed. How had things gone so wrong in his life? He wasn’t a part of a family anymore, he had no one to turn to, at least someone who was talking to him.
Matrix had never felt so lost before. It was a horrible feeling that reminded him of the games and how he would sit and stare for millies, just thinking about how he had ruined his life, their lives. Closing his eyes, the renegade did all he could to stop himself from doing the unthinkable.
Enzo was dressed and out the door before Dot could protest. He had to tell someone, make sure he wasn’t imaging things. He knew Mike wasn’t all that reliable when it came to the news around Mainframe, but for some reason, the boy couldn’t get that report out of his mind. It just made sense to him and he wanted it to make sense to someone else too.
But who could he tell?
He was already convinced everyone around him were clones, so who could he trust? Dot and Bob were definitely out, no question. Maybe AndrAIa, but he hadn’t seen her in the last few seconds.
Mouse was probably with Ray and the sprite didn’t think he knew them well enough to tell them something like this. Of course Phong was a possibility, but then he’d turn around and tell Dot or Bob and the two would think he was suffering from the stress of everything that had happened.
No. There was only one sprite he could tell. The one sprite that knew him inside and out really.
The one sprite he was deathly afraid of.
But, none the less, the boy went out to seek him. Jumping on his zipboard, he thought about the places where the big sprite might be, all the while heading in the direction of Floating Point Park. By the time Enzo decided he’d check the Diner first and then maybe Pearson’s Data Dump, he was already in the beautiful park.
Stopping abruptly, the boy was stunned by two things. One, the whole reason why he was there in the first place and secondly, the large form he had been searching for, sitting on a small bench right in front of him.
He had found Matrix.
“I hope I know what I’m doing,” he sighed, getting off the board and walking towards the figure.
Matrix sat on the bench, eyes closed, and thinking of how life had gone so wrong. He didn’t hear the person come up, but he knew someone was standing next to him, observing him.
His first instinct would have been to turn and delete the stranger, but like everything else that reminded him of his former rogue life, he didn’t have the heart to do it. Besides, he knew who the sprite was. Somewhere, he just knew the sprite was coming.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
Enzo gulped and started to say something, but then stopped.
Matrix opened his eyes and looked at the boy. He was terrified, he could tell. He had that effect on people, something he had shrived for in the games, but now…now it was like a burden.
An evil null on his back. His family, his own…brother…and sister for that matter, were all afraid of him.
“Um…” Enzo stuttered and then suddenly forgot why he was there. “No,” he said finally. “Nothing important. I’ll be going now.”
“Enzo, wait.” Matrix replied, astonished that he wanted the little sprite there with him. He looked at the boy, then moved over and indicated the seat next to him.
Enzo looked at the bench and then at Matrix. Slowly, the boy took the offered seat and sat next to his bigger format. The two were quiet until Matrix asked, “So what’s processing?”
Enzo cleared his throat and began. “There’s something I found out that I kinda wanted to get your reaction of,” he said.
“Enzo, if this is about me and the games, I…” Matrix said, dreading any questions involving his past.
“No, it’s not that,” said the boy, causing a frown on Matrix’s face.
“Then what?” What kind of trouble did he get himself into this time? the renegade thought.
“I saw something today, on Mike the TV, and…”
“Don’t tell me,” Matrix groaned. “Nulls are attacking the city? There’s really a spy network working underneath the Diner? Phong is really a high ranking mob boss? What? What did Mike’s engrossing television show tell you today?”
“Well, if you’re gonna be like that, I’m NOT going to tell you!” Enzo exclaimed.
He started to walk away when Matrix stopped him.
“Hold it, hold it,” he said. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? Things have not been going right, we don’t need Mike to cause any more trouble than necessary.”
“I know that.” Enzo whispered, sitting back on the bench. “And I know this is a long shot, but still. I can’t help but think…”
“What was the report?”
“Mike’s news crew said that…” Enzo stopped and looked around. “I can’t tell you here,” he said. “We might be watched. Meet me in the Diner, okay?”
“Look, I’ll explain everything if you just meet me in the Diner.” Enzo hopped off the bench and maximized his zipboard. “Diner. Nanos from now.” He then took off.
Matrix sat on the bench, contemplating what he should do. On one hand, he knew this had to be the most ridiculous story ever and he was simply going to tell Enzo that Mike was out of his processor and needed to be ‘fixed’. On the other hand, this could be the one time Mike was right and something weird was going on.
Matrix shook his head.
That wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
The renegade sighed, then took out his zipboard, and headed towards the Diner.
Enzo paced in his room. Luckily for him, he didn’t see Dot nor Bob in the Diner as he walked in. He was ignored by Cecil, as always, and started towards the small apartment downstairs and his room.
He only hoped Matrix had the same thought and would head there. Soon enough, he heard the front door opening and heard Matrix calling him. “In here!” he shouted. His bedroom door opened and Matrix stood in the doorway. He stopped momentarily, looking around.
Enzo saw the look of the renegade’s face and knew instantly what was wrong. “Kinda two-bit to be back here, huh?” he asked.
Matrix nodded slowly. He walked in and closed the door behind him. “Okay,” he said. “What’s this news report?”
“Okay,” Enzo started. “But promise you won’t laugh.”
“I promise nothing.”
“Then I say nothing.”
Matrix kept a lid on his temper, but just barely. “I promise not to laugh.” he said through gritted teeth.
“I guess that’s decent,” Enzo said, suspiciously. “Okay. Well, I was getting up and getting ready when Mike started showing some programs. You know how he is when you don’t pay attention to him.” Matrix nodded.
“Anyway, he starts showing the MSN and the reporter starts saying there are reports that ever since Megabyte came back, no one’s been the same.” the boy continued. “The lady said it was because of clones. Now I’ve put my own theory together and I think…”
“I think you’re a few memory wafers short of a full box.” Matrix replied.
Enzo glared at him. “All right, tough guy,” he challenged. “If I’m so nutty, get a load of this. Since returning as Bob, you gotta admit some weird things have been going on. First, Ray brings back Bob, who’s really Megabyte in disguise, but Ray doesn’t know this, but still. Ray knows Bob as Web Bob, Glitch Bob, not Bob Bob of a few hours ago. Second, Bob and Dot’s behavior.
“Bob doing everything he can, even almost deleting himself in order to win back Dot. Dot, going gaa gaa over some Bob look-alike, even though she proposed to the real Bob just nanos before the EVIL Bob took center stage.
“Third, everyone’s apparent lack of caring when Bob is in need, too concerned over the big wedding, which happened to be a big flaw and cause everyone a lot of grief. And now…numero four. Things are weird, 8-bit, low density, totally not frosty at all and why?”
“Because the sprites we know aren’t the sprites we know.” Matrix said slowly, the coincidences becoming all too coincidental. Enzo just nodded.
“You aren’t as dumb as you look.” Enzo teased.
“I know.” Matrix said, then realized what he just agreed to. “Wait a nano…” he said, a characteristic scowl on his face. “How do I know you’re not a clone? You went along with everything.”
“Cause everyone told me to!” he exclaimed. “Besides, if I was clone, why would I be sitting here telling you my plan?”
“And how I do I know you’re not a clone?”
“Cause if I was a clone, you wouldn’t be telling me what you think.” Matrix shot back. “Besides, I think I would know if I was a clone or not.”
“Well…” Enzo said, suspiciously. “That’s true. I mean, if you were a clone, wouldn’t I be a clone? Being your copy and all.”
Matrix flinched slightly at his last statement. “Look, no more copy stuff, okay?” he said. “You’re my brother, case closed. Now about this clone thing… who do you think’s a clone?”
“Save from you?” Matrix nodded. “Everyone.”