Memories Are Made of This
Chapter 2 – To Reveal All Things
“Dad! The baby’s crying!” came the call throughout the apartment, along with a loud cry coming behind it.
Bob quickly finished brushing his teeth and ran from the bathroom. Of course, they were going to be late. Bob checked the time. Five til 0900. He’d have to beat the speed limit in order to get Kit off to school and make in time for that scheduled meeting. He skidded to a stop in front of the refrigerator.
“I already got my breakfast, Pop.” replied young Christopher “Kit” Lan. “And I made my lunch.” The 1.0 hour old child was currently giving a bottle to his younger sister, Phoenix. Her twin, Jet, sat happily playing with his food.
“Your mom would have to leave me with three kids.” Bob muttered under his breath.
Ever since Phong vidwindowed earlier that morning, things had been chaotic. First, he overslept. Then after Kit had pour ice cold water underneath him, he’d fallen out of bed and hit his head on the night stand. Assuring his son that he’d live, Bob quickly made it to the shower, just to find they had no soap. Then he had to rummage through the cabinets to find some. He and Dot had made a sacrifice. She had control over everything else, if he just got to control the bathroom and the garage.
Right now, he was regretting that deal. He wished he had said the garage and maybe the kitchen. Or even the living room. Still, he found the soap and was about to jump in the shower, when he heard one or both of his new born twins crying. Stopping the shower, he went to investigate. He then changed Jet’s diaper. Then he went back to the shower. He’d just left and was getting ready when he heard Kit calling from the kitchen.
“Dad, maybe I should just head over to school.” Kit said, seeing his father was in the mist of a system crash.
“Um…no.” Bob replied. He had everything under control. “I have everything under control. I’ll give you a lift. Grab your stuff and take a twin.” The two did just that and headed to the garage. There was Bob’s classic 262 convertible. And it was actually running for a change.
“Good thing Aunt Andi fixed the car, huh, Dad?”
“She helped fix the car.” Bob corrected.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have faith in AndrAIa. He just hated other people fixing his car. He’d done a lot of things together with that car. Worked on it for a good 20 hours. It was his baby. Piling the twins in car seats, he and Kit headed out for Little Bits Elementary. Bob was making good time. It was only a little after nine. He dropped Kit off at school and rushed over to the P.O. Taking a twin in each arm, he miraculously punched his key code in order to open the door.
“Authorization. Guardian 452. Confirmed. Welcome.”
Spotting Hack and Slash, he handed each bot a baby and rushed in to find…
Everyone sitting around having Java and cocoa.
“Hi, Bob.” replied a tan sprite.
She had long aquamarine hair and was drinking from a mug that read, “AndrAIa”. She was sitting and talking to two other sprites. One was purple with bright red hair. The other was blond and tan.
“Where’d you hide my sweet little puddin’s?” ask the red haired woman in a thick Texas accent.
“I gave them to Hack and Slash.” Bob said, pulling a chair and sitting down next to AndrAIa. “Say, uh…we were supposed to be having a meeting, right?”
“Phong said the meeting was pushed back, mate.” said the other sprite, in an Australian accent.
“He’s talking to Dot and her brothers, sugah.”
“So that’s where she went.” Bob muttered, glancing at the office door.
“What happened, Bob?” AndrAIa giggled. “Dot leave you with three kids this morning?”
Bob gave her a look. “It wasn’t fun, I can tell you that.” he retorted. Something occurred to him. “Mouse,” he said, addressing the red head. “When did you and Ray get back?”
“Just this morning, mate.” Ray Tracer replied. “We were flying in when Phong sent the message about the meeting.”
“I wonder why the meeting was pushed back?” AndrAIa asked.
“I wonder what Phong’s in there talking to the Matrixes about.” Mouse whispered, a mischievous gleam in her eye. The four seemed intrigued by the lack of promptness their leaders usually gave.
They would find out why.
It seemed as soon as Mouse had asked her question, the door to Dot’s office opened. Phong stood in the doorway saying, “Perhaps we should postpone the meeting, Dot.”
They heard a reply, apparently from Dot herself and Phong wheeled out of the office and over to the table. Then the Matrix siblings made an appearance. First Dot, then Matrix and Enzo following behind her. Bob left the chair he was in to sit in his usual seat and noticed the sudden change in demeanor in the Matrix family. Dot walked to the head of the table, the customary seat for the Command.Com, with Bob seated on her right.
Everyone could tell right away things were not right in the Super Computer.
Dot, though trying to appear to be in a professional manner, looked as though she had been crying. Her think rimmed glasses did hide some of the puffiness, but her usually bright violet eyes were now red and some tears could still be seen.
For those that knew Matrix, his demeanor seemed to be his usual. Arms folded across his chest, silent, and brooding. But to look in to the young sprite’s eyes, it would be noted they were clouded, distant. He stared at some spot on the table in front of him and half heartedly nodded when AndrAIa asked, “Are you all right?”
Enzo just sat, head in his hands, oblivious to anything or anyone around him.
Bob and AndrAIa exchanged worried glances. They had never seen the Matrixes so offlined before.
“Sorry to keep you all waiting.” Dot said, her voice still a little shaky. “First, I’d like to make a motion to move this meeting to tomorrow perhaps. Same time, 0900. If that’s all right with you. I know Mouse and Ray just got back and it wouldn’t be fair to keep them in meetings all second.”
“Tomorrow’s just fine, lovely lady.” Ray said, quickly noting this didn’t seem like the perfect time for a meeting.
“The main importance though,” Dot continued, as if she didn’t hear Ray’s agreement to her motion. “Was to welcome our new guardian to Mainframe.” Dot smiled as she looked at her younger brother.
Enzo looked up to realize he was being talked about. He gave a small smile as he looked at everyone.
“You all know the rules.” Dot said. “No getting in his way and always…always listen to what he has to say.”
“It’s nice to have you officially on the team, Enzo darlin’.” Mouse replied, smiling.
“Thanks.” Enzo said weakly, quickly turning his attention back to his hands. He was trembling slightly, on the verge of a river of tears.
“Well, unless there’s anything else…” Dot looked around the room to make sure there wouldn’t be anything else. “Meeting’s adjourned until tomorrow.” She then turned to Phong and whispered, “I’ll be in my office. I’d rather not be disturbed.” With that, she hurried into her office.
Matrix too made a quick exit, bolting from his chair and hurrying out the door. That left Enzo still sitting in his seat, doing whatever he could to hold back an inevitable floodgate of emotions. AndrAIa walked over and placed her hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Enzo, are you okay?” she whispered. The young guardian merely nodded his head. “Come by the house later, okay?”
Again, he answered her question with a nod. AndrAIa patted his back and left with a confused Mouse and Ray. Bob too was rather at a loss of words and a conflict of decision. On one hand, he could see Enzo was about ready to collapse into a hysterical mess. On the other, his wife was sitting in her office probably doing the same thing. Just when Bob made the decision to go talk to Dot, he felt a hand on his arm.
“They need to be alone with their thoughts, my son.” Phong replied. “Today has been a traumatic venture into their past.”
Bob looked at Enzo and then towards Dot’s door. He looked at Phong and nodded. “If something happens…”
“You will be the first to know.”
Oddly, the only Matrix to make an appearance through out the second was Dot. Though it was her duty as Command.Com and she didn’t talk to anyone unless it was in the line of duty, at least her friends and family saw her. No one had seen Enzo or Matrix all second. And that made AndrAIa slightly worried.
She knew both brothers usually made a habit out of wondering off to be alone with their thoughts, but she never knew them to be gone for so long. The only sign she knew that Enzo was okay was the fact that the games were being won. But as soon as a team got out there to make sure everyone was all right, Enzo had vanished by then.
Dot could try and fool the staff, but not the Mouse. Mouse sat next to AndrAIa at one the consoles, trying to look as though they were busy working on the shields, when they were really talking about what could possibly be bugging the Matrix line.
“The answer to all this is Phong.” Mouse whispered, lightly tapping keys.
“Agreed.” AndrAIa replied, not bothering to look over. “What ever he talked to them about earlier really offlined them. I’ve only seen Dot like this once before.”
“After Bob was gone, I know.” Mouse said. “She was much worse when you and Enzo were game hoppin’.”
“I’ve never seen the boys like this either.” AndrAIa continued. She looked over at the hacker. “Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe we’re just jumping to conclusions.” Mouse looked at her.
“Do you believe that?”
AndrAIa shook her head. “No.”
“I say we corner good ole Phong and get some answers.” the hacker replied, giving one last troubled glance at Dot.
Enzo was zipping through the city, just completing and winning another game. It seemed it was game day in the system of Mainframe. He’d been in five games already that second and made a quick escape every time.
He just couldn’t face anyone right now.
Truth be told, the images of the Twin City had offlined him, to the point of deletion. He had put that part of his past way behind him and to see it, relive it again that very morning, had frightened and disturbed him. And he knew he wasn’t the only one. Dot was probably in the Principal Office working her bitmap off, that’s what she did in the face of disillusionment, try to push past the pain and get things done and her processor off of whatever was bothering her.
He knew Matrix was probably at Floating Point or Old Man Pearson’s sitting there thinking, probably watching Frisket in the process. Thank goodness for Hack, Slash, and even Mike the TV. They were the perfect babysitters for the twins and little Chip Matrix, though Mike would never go near the baby, insisting it tried to attack him on several occasions.
Enzo zipped along through sector 31, past Al’s Wait and Eat. He thought about stopping and getting an energy shake or even something much stronger, as Al’s was the only bar in Mainframe. He knew he was still under aged, but he, Matrix, and Dot had come here on his birthday and they had bought him I/O shots.
Al’s waiter had been cool enough to actually let him drink, saying it would be their little secret. User, he needed something like an I/O shot or even a mug of ROM. But he was on duty, technically, and Guardian rules prohibit drinking alcohol on duty. He quickly put the thought out of his head and zipped away.
He wasn’t sure what he had been thinking about when he headed over there, but soon Enzo found himself hovering over the remains of the Gilded Gate Bridge, the structure that had once connected Mainframe to the Twin City. He stared out at Lost Angles, what was left of the city and now the residence of ex-virus-turned-sprite Hexadecimal.
Enzo prayed to the User that Hex wasn’t looking through her mirror at him. She was the last person he wanted to see right now. All the memories he suppressed so long ago suddenly seemed to be coming back to him. He remembered the night of the disaster. How could he forget it…
He was sitting in a corner in the Principal Office, just staring out into space. He and Dot had been summoned there by Phong, who was going to tell them the bad news, but they already knew.
They had seen the whole thing.
He remembered they had been arguing over why he had to go to bed. He remembered his feelings at the time. How he couldn’t stand Dot, how she always treated him like a little baby, never wanted him to do anything fun. He vaguely remembered telling her what would happen once their parents came and picked him up.
Oh, would she be in trouble! He would insist he had been good all second and Dot was being the Mean Magnet of Mainframe. He had actually thought about running away that night. That would teach her. Oh, he’d end up finding his parents at the lab and then everything would fine.
But it wouldn’t be fine. Nothing would ever be fine again. If he had left…
He’d be deleted too. Just like his parents.
They had heard the explosion and rushed up to the Diner to see what had happened. They had seen the white light over the Twin City and before they knew it, it was gone. So here they were, the children of the most prominent scientists in Mainframe, probably in the whole Net, sitting inside the Principal Office.
Dot was staying busy, doing what she usually did in a crisis. Forgot about it and went to work. Enzo couldn’t understand how she could just forge ahead like that. Didn’t she even care that their parents were deleted? That they were now alone? That…
That they were now orphans?
But even Enzo had to look deeper. She was probably heartbroken inside. He had only seen her like this once before, when this sprite she had dated cheated on her. It was devastating for her. She really loved him and he treated her like a virus treated an infected servant. Enzo thought the guy was a null. Feeding off of Dot’s energy and time and then leaving her to deteriorate and delete. That had been the end of Dot’s relationship seconds. End file, offlined, quit without saving…but this was much worse.
They were orphans.
Binomes rushed throughout the main control room, trying to find out if anything was left of the Twin City, counting the causalities. Everyone was talking excitedly, but when they saw him they just shook their heads and tsked, saying “What a shame.” or “He’s just a little sprite.” or “I wonder what will happen to them?”
Enzo knew they’d be well off financially. Their mother had dabbled in business ventures and before they knew it, half of Mainframe’s businesses were linked to their names. That’s what Dot had inherited from their mother, besides her looks and beauty. She was the financial brains now.
Phong looked up from a vidwindow he’d been eyeing. He never thought this would happen. This was a dark second in Mainframe’s history all right. He looked at the young woman who stood next to him, also looking over vidwindows. He was worried about her. She hadn’t said anything about the incident, just diving into work and keeping the disaster in the back of her processor.
He had only seen this behavior in her father.
As much as it delighted him that she was such a hard worker, it worried him to see her just concentrating on this and that. He turned to look at the young sprite that sat in a corner, just staring at the wall ahead. Enzo, like his sister, seemed to bottle his emotions as well. He could see the boy had been crying, but wasn’t sure if the boy was aware that he had been. Phong shook his head sadly.
What would become of these two sprites? He hadn’t told them, but he had gotten a causality list of those lost in the explosion. They would be the only sprites left in Mainframe, with the exception of him, of course. He knew Dot might be able to handle this news, but what of young Enzo? He was just a small sprite and small sprites needed friends his own age to play and converse with. Again, Phong shook his head sadly.
He had a promise to keep.
Enzo wasn’t sure how long he had been standing there, looking out at the island known as Lost Angles, but he finally snapped out of his stupor when he realized it was nearly dark. He also realized he was hungry. He had missed lunch and now dinner. He thought about going over to Dot’s Diner, then decided against it.
He figured everyone else would there. He remembered he promised to go over to AndrAIa and Matrix’s, but he’d do that later. He got back on his zipboard and changed out of his Guardian uniform into a pair of baggy black jeans and a white t-shirt. He headed over to sector 31.
He needed a drink.
Matrix sat on the ground of Old Man Pearson’s Data Dump. He had been there most of the second, just thinking. He thought about going over to Floating Point Park, but he figured Enzo was probably there, doing the same thing he was. He didn’t want to talk to anyone right now and he knew Enzo felt the same, as did Dot.
So many emotions were roaming in his head, all screaming to be noticed. Like Enzo, Matrix had put the Twin City in the back of his processor, hoping never to relive that second again. The whole second he had spent in Pearson’s dump made him feel like a little sprite all over again, but not in the happy way he would’ve liked.
Watching that vidscreen today made all the anger and sadness come flooding back to him. Enzo had been through the same things, but because he was younger, the thoughts still lingered. For Matrix, the Twin City disaster felt like it had happened days ago. He had buried those feelings and emotions deep inside him, never expecting them to present themselves ever again. It was like that faithful game… why was he thinking about that now? So many questions haunted him.
Why did his father do it? He must’ve know the consequences. He had to have known!
Why couldn’t some of the sprites live in Mainframe? Then he and Dot wouldn’t have been the only ones left.
What kind of father would put the lives of sprites in danger? Just for an experiment!
All the anger he felt as a young sprite came flooding back. He stood up and start kicking the random parts and files that litter the ground. He turned to the old refrigeration unit he had been sitting against and started to pound on it in a fit of fury. He treated the thing like a punching bag, while the unit treated his hands like pudding. Matrix slid down the broken machine, wrapping his arms around his knees and burying his head within them.
It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair.
“I thought I might find you here”
Matrix wiped his face with his hand and turned his head away as footsteps approached. AndrAIa sat down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you all right?” she asked, obviously knowing the answer to be no.
“Yeah.” he said, wiping away any remaining tears from his face and looking straight ahead. “I’m fine. What’re you doing here?”
“Well, I had been looking for Enzo,” the game sprite replied. “But I figured I’d run into you sooner or later.” She could see he had been crying and probably beating something to a pulp, by the look of the blood on his knuckles. “I hope you plan on coming home and getting some ice for those.” she said, making a gesture towards his hand.
“How’re the kids?” he asked, trying to move the conversation to something more pleasant.
“Chip’s asleep and I bribed Kit to come over and watch Sabrina.” AndrAIa said, brushing a stray tear from his eye. “They’re worried about you guys.”
Matrix sighed. This was something he didn’t want to talk to his kids about. But he would have to discuss it with Enzo and Dot sooner or later. Knowing Dot, she was probably still at the P.O. working on something she deemed very important and that couldn’t wait until morning.
Speaking of morning, Matrix absently rubbed his stomach. He had missed breakfast because of what Phong wanted and being in the frame of processor that he had, he’d missed lunch and dinner as well.
“I’ll be home soon, Andri.” he whispered.
“Whatever it is, you know you can talk to me, Enzo.” his wife replied, rubbing her hand against his cheek. “Until then, I won’t force the issue. I’ll give you some time to yourself.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek, stood, and left on her zipboard.
The figure stood on the edge of a ruined system. He was dressed in a long black trench coat, with blue jeans, a red t-shirt, and black boots. He was yellow, but had dark green eyes that were covered by a pair of shades. His long black hair was tied in a ponytail that swung behind him.
He surveyed what used to be his system. He hung his head sadly. He’d been powerless to do anything to stop it, so it happened anyway. He saw a red null come towards him, smelling the energy he harnessed. He shook his boot at it and it squealed and crawled away.
If only there had been a way he could’ve stopped…
His organizer went off and he quickly grabbed it and received the message that bleeped frantically at him. A vidwindow opened in front of him and showed the semi-retired Prime Guardian Turbo on the other side. “Yes, sir, Turbo sir!” The young man snapped to attention.
“At ease, Cadet.” Turbo laughed. He was used to those that served under him still acting as though he was still Prime Guardian. Technically, he was, at least until the end of the minute. “Report.”
The cadet hung his head in embarrassment and shame. “I couldn’t save it, sir.” he sighed. “I tried, but the system was further gone than we thought. The Command.Com had been taken and well…well, they were everywhere, but some of the system sprites did get rid of the nest, but unfortunately it’s too late to really save the system, but they’re trying.”
Turbo shook his head at the news. He hated hearing about systems that were decaying. It reminded him of the destruction Daemon had caused. It always made him feel responsible and it made him want to right the wrongs he had caused while under the super virus’ control. But it wasn’t over.
Daemon had left them something to remind systems of her reign.
Turbo sighed and then turned his attention back to the sprite before him. “That’s fifteen systems so far, Cadet.” he replied, shaking his head. He tried to think of something that could stop the destruction and perhaps help the systems already destroyed. Suddenly, he thought of something. Somewhere actually and someone.
“Cadet,” he said excitedly. “I know of someone who might possibly help.” The young sprite looked up at his boss in surprise. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of them before.” Turbo continued, looking around for something. “I’ll call back when I find those co-ordinates. I’ll have to send them a message as well that you’ll be coming there. Sit tight, Cadet. I have a good feeling that everything will be fine.”
The screen closed from Turbo’s end and the cadet put his organizer back inside his jacket. He thought about what Turbo said. Somewhere there was someone, some place that could fix this awful mess. But where? And who were these people Turbo hadn’t thought of?
So many questions lurked in the mind of the young sprite. Turbo had told him to wait, so he would. Until then, he turned back to the wrecked system. He could check again and make sure things were all right, but he doubted it would do any good. He went back to his hotel room.
Bob was still awake when she walked through the apartment door. She looked tired and upset, her eyes still red, but no longer puffy. When Dot turned from the door, she was slightly shocked to see that Bob had waited up for her. But she quickly sighed, walked over, and sat down next to him on the couch. He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.
“You didn’t have to wait up for me, you know.” she said, closing her eyes. It had been such a long second.
“I had to make sure you were okay.” he whispered. He gave her shoulder a squeeze and moved her bangs from her eyes. “Talk to me, Dottie.” he said. “Tell me what’s going on.”
Dot opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling. No one but her father had ever called her ‘Dottie’. In fact, after the Twin City incident, she refused to even be refered as that. She remembered the second after it had happened and one of her father’s friends, a zero binome, had come to give his condolences. He had said something along the lines of, “I truly am sorry, Dottie,” and she had screamed and yelled at him for calling her that.
If it had been a private encounter, she wouldn’t have thought more about it. But it had happened in the Principal Office. In front of the staff and worse, in front of Phong. She quickly apologized and Phong had led her to the conservatory so she could be alone. Ever since, no one had even dared to call her that.
That is until Bob came.
And even then, he never called her that until they had been dating. They had been making out, of all the times for her to blow her motherboard. He had said it in response to their necking, but she instantly turned cold hearing it.
“What did you call me?” she asked. His face took on a look of fear and confusion rolled into one.
“Don’t call me that, Bob.” she warned. “Don’t ever call me that. Not ever.”
He had left, wondering what he had done to get such a reaction from her. It wasn’t until the verge of their impending nuptials, that she had told him why she reacted the way she did. She smiled at the memory, of Bob taking on the blame, but it was she who had been at fault. He understood and said it wouldn’t happen again.
She liked hearing the nickname though, especially from Bob. Not even her brother, ahem brothers, called her ‘Dottie’. Just like she would never call them by the nickname their mother had given them. But today she had remembered how much she hated the pet name.
“Phong showed us a video of the Twin City.” she replied quietly, never taking her eyes away from the ceiling.
Bob held back a gasp. So that’s what had offlined the siblings. He knew what a touchy subject it was for them, especially Dot, who being older, remembered her parents better than Enzo and Matrix did. It took hours for her to open up to him about that night and still he knew she hadn’t told him everything. He wasn’t sure if he should continue the conversation or not. But he was worried. He knew Dot better than anyone and knew when she was under emotional stress, she pushed forward like nothing was going on.
“Are you okay?” he asked, after a moment of silence.
“Why’d he do it, Bob?”she asked, seemingly on another train of thought. “I mean, didn’t he realize what could happen if the experiment failed? Surely he had to have known.” She sighed and looked away. “I don’t think Enzo’s ever forgiven him.”
Dot shook her head, a few tears rolling down her face. “I don’t know, Bob.” she said, wiping away tears that were soon replaced with more. “I don’t know.”