Memories Are Made of This
Chapter 4 – Talent Night
“You’re joking right?”
The Matrix siblings had started out discussing whether or not to dive into the works of both James and Patricia Matrix. The siblings had the main control room to themselves, Phong had planned it that way, so they could talk in peace before the meeting. And that’s how it had started. It was friendly enough, but something happened along the lines of communication.
The three were now arguing.
Actually, at this point, there were only two Matrixes quarreling. Matrix was sitting on the floor, trying to block the whole argument from his processor. He was still miffed at why Dot and Bob wanted their kids here for this meeting. They were going to be dealing with bugs. How were Sabrina and Kit going to help? He then realized what their plan had to be and he didn’t like it. Worse, they plan to tell a complete stranger, forget the fact he was a Guardian Cadet, he was still a stranger, that their kids were…extremely special.
Now Dot and Enzo were arguing over the actual topic they came in for. Dot thought they should at least give it a try and Enzo adamittly refused. “Have you forgotten what happened the last time?” he had said.
Matrix hadn’t forgotten, though things were a little easier for him. He had AndrAIa. Granted even in their time in the games, they had run across other sprites. But Enzo didn’t have that. Even during the Daemon War, when refugees came into Mainframe, Enzo didn’t seem especially excited about it. And why should he? They had teased him enough that he didn’t want to hang out with them. After all, his sister was dating a Guardian at the time. His older brother was a Guardian.
He didn’t really blame him for being mad.
“I remember very well what happened, Enzo.” Dot replied, her voice growing cold.
“He destroyed our home, Dot!” Enzo exclaimed. The whole experience had opened old wounds for him, ones that stung him more than they did Matrix. “He murdered everyone in the Twin City, including himself and our mother!” The boy was on the verge of tears now.
“Don’t say that!”
“Well, it’s true! If he hadn’t been working on that basic experiment, we’d still have parents! We’d still have a home!”
The group coming down the hall could hear yelling reverberating from the control room and through out the corridor. They exchanged glances before quickly heading towards the door. They caught the last part of the argument.
“It wasn’t his fault, Enzo.”
“Yes it was.” That was Matrix.
“Oh not you too!” exclaimed Dot.
“It was his fault!” cried Enzo. “He blew up the Twin City! You think I’m gonna let you follow in his footsteps? Let you blow up Mainframe?”
Dot was taken aback, not only by her baby brother’s burst of anger, but what he had said.
The sound of the door opening caused the three to halt their discussion. “Top of the mornin’ to you, Lovely Lady.” Ray bowed in front of Dot, taking her hand and kissing it.
“Thanks, Ray.” Dot said, rather distractedly. “Phong put out some memory wafers and cocoa if you guys want some.” she said, making a gesture towards the snack cart near the console.
“The meeting will start shortly. Enzo, Matrix, in my office. Now.”
Kalyle noticed Dot didn’t look happy. But then again, none of the Matrixes seemed to be happy lately. He also noticed everyone else had their eyes on the office door. Kalyle had his eyes on that snack tray, he hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. As he picked up four memory wafers and a cup of cocoa, he saw those two kids he met yesterday, Kit and Sabrina. He wondered why they were there. Of course, being in Mainframe for even a short period of time, caused Kalyle to wonder about many a things.
The voices in Dot’s office seemed to be growing louder, until Enzo threw open the door and stormed out of the Principal Office. Dot emerged followed by Matrix. Kalyle didn’t want to know or even ask and apparently neither did anyone else. The group assembled around the conference table as last time, the kids taking Phong’s spot at the table.
“I think we’d all like to know a little bit more about this bug situation you’re presently in, Mr. Daniels.” Dot said, matter of factly. Kalyle nodded and stood, addressing all in the room.
“Where to start?” Kalyle sighed.
“I’ve found the very begining usually clarifies, my child.” Phong replied.
“I guess I should start at the time Daemon was ruling the Net.” Kalyle said, then shook his head. “I guess I really don’t need to explain to all of you about that. Well, after she was defeated, everything seemed to be back to normal. Or so we thought. It was actually hours before we discovered something was wrong…”
It started as small baby workers crawling out on the docks or even in the alleyways. No one had even paid attention. It couldn’t possibly be serious, but that’s what they wanted people to think. That nothing was going on. In reality, she had the thing planned out. She had a feeling Guardian 452 would get the best of her, so she came up with this plan. And it wasn’t immediate either. It was minutes, hours before anyone really took notice. By then, it had given her just the right amount of time for the nests to build up and for the Soldiers to become stronger.
It all happened in a system called Ysen. The smaller workers had been seen for minutes, but no one paid much attention, until the larger workers began wrecking havoc. The sprites weren’t sure what to do. They had refused the help of a Guardian, still reeling from what they had done to their system. So the sprites of Ysen were unprepared. Their Command.Com had decided to take things in his own hands.
They never saw him again.
Then simultaneously, both the systems of Corin and Reugers were hit with bugs. They were hideous. Scarier than any virus. Some systems hoped a virus would come to take care of the bugs, then perhaps spare them of deletion. This idea was of course stupid. Either way, the system was doomed. Turbo had reports coming in from everywhere.
Though he was healed from Daemon’s infection, sometimes he could her voice in the back of his mind. It laughed at him, asking if he knew how the bugs came to be. That it was a lasting gift to those who had opposed Daemon. The Prime Guardian had sent guardians to places where they needed the most help, but the sprites would sometimes refuse, ever fearful of letting the fox in with the chickens.
Only to discover that the wolf lay in wait.
By the time Turbo had assigned a young cadet by the name of Daniels to the Orion system, 12 systems had been destroyed or were on the verge of collapse.
Cadet Kalyle Daniels knew all too well what bugs could do. He should know. He lived in a bug plagued system for hours until he joined the Collective. His family was gone, thanks to them. His system, Delphi, had been the sixth system to be under the investation of the bugs. After hearing that the system had to be destroyed, he with drew into himself.
That’s when he stopped wearing the Guardian uniform and wore the trench coat he had gotten from his father. Turbo didn’t even protest. He knew things were bad enough without trying to strict the dress code of old.
“As I said, fifteen systems are now under bug infection.” Kalyle continued. He hung his head sadly. “We’ve had to destroy six of them because the system was so badly in disarray.” He took a deep breath before bringing his gaze to meet Dot’s face. “I don’t know how it will help, but I just know your father and mother must’ve discovered something in their research.”
“I guess we’ll have to vote.” Dot said. She started with the Web research team. “Mouse? Ray? What do you think?”
“I don’t rightly know, hun.” Mouse replied, a scowl replacing the usual smile. “I think I’d be more comfortable getting to know some of your daddy’s work.”
“I agree, Leader Lady.” Ray said, nodding. “I’d feel better knowing what we’d be working with first before giving the go ahead.”
Dot nodded and turned to the System Engineer. “Andri?”
“I have my own concerns, but in my experience, any help is appreciated. “
Dot turned to the Chief of Security. “Matrix?”
“You know how I feel, Dot.” he replied, not looking up from the spot he’d been looking at the entire time.
“Yes, and I’m sure Enzo shares your insight, no doubt.” Dot sighed.
“I have to agree with AndrAIa, Dot. Bugs are nasty business. Any help we can get anywhere could really get us to hold our own.”
“As with your brothers, you know how I feel on the matter.” the wise sprite replied.
“It seems I have the last vote.” Dot said, solemnly. After a few nanos of silence, she replied, “We’ll do it.”
“Figures.” Matrix muttered.
“We do it…providing Matrix, Enzo, and I have the last say on the matter. I’ll get our scientists to look into some things…”
“Thank you, Ms. Matrix.” Kalyle smiled. “I knew you guys would help. I just knew it.”
“Okay, Cadet,” Bob replied, a lopsided grin on his face. “So we’ve decided help. Now we’ve got to formulate a plan and find out how to get rid of the entire nest. From what you’ve said, these are just little hives that are causing large damage, but there’s got to be a queen somewhere controlling the hives and the entire nest. If we just find that…”
“I hate to interrupt you, Uncle Bob,” Sabrina replied. “But there’s a game coming.”
“Cursors.” Matrix growled. “Where?”
Sabrina closed her eyes for a micro before saying, “Floating Point. You got time though. A couple of micros at best.” Kalyle smirked at the girl. She was precious, she really was. He was tempted to tell her that games were left to grown ups when he heard Dot respond with,
“Well, at least that gives us enough time to evacuate. Matrix…”
“I’m on it, Sis.” Matrix replied, standing and removing an organizer from his belt.
“Hey, wait a minute.” Kalyle said, standing as well. He walked over to where Matrix was getting in contact with the CPUs. “What’re you doing?”
“Contacting the CPUs.” Matrix said. “That’s kinda my job.”
“There’s a game coming.”
“Oh come on!” Kalyle replied, laughing as he did. “You’re gonna listen to her?” He pointed at Sabrina. “She’s just a little kid!”
Matrix turned from his organizer and glared down at Kalyle. “Are you insulting my daughter?” he asked, the M engravement on his golden eye turning red. The cadet made a series of back spaces, trying to get out of the line of fire.
“Um…No…no, sir…Mr. Matrix, sir.” he stumbled. He really didn’t want to be deleted, especially by him. “I’m just saying, she’s a little sprite and you guys are just gonna listen to her. I mean, there hasn’t been any warning. Nothing that would suggest that…”
WARNING: INCOMING GAME! WARNING: INCOMING GAME!
Sabrina folded her arms across her chest and smiled at Kalyle. “Who’s a little kid now?” she snipped.
“Sabrina…” AndrAIa warned.
Kalyle looked at the girl. He couldn’t believe it. Was it just an incredible coincidence that she just happened to know a game was coming? From the looks of everyone, it seemed as though they were used to this. Like it happened all the time.
“How did you do that?”
“We’d better get to that game before it lands.” Bob replied, grabbing his zipboard and heading towards the door.
“You stay, I’ll go.” AndrAIa said, kissing Matrix on the cheek. She then grabbed the almost comatose Cadet Daniels and pulled him to the door along behind her.
“How did you do that? How did she do that?”
Enzo was waiting patiently on the grass of Floating Point Park. He had been here since he left the P.O. and was actually sitting underneath the path of the game. He looked around and saw the two figures he’d been expecting and a third he wasn’t. AndrAIa reached him first, giving him a slight shove on the arm.
“Trying to steal all the fun, huh?”
“Spam it, will one of you listen to me!?” exclaimed Kalyle. He had been screaming at both Bob and AndrAIa to give him some answers.
“What?” the trio cried back.
The purple cube descended upon them. The wave and tingle passed over them and they got their bearings. “How did she do that?” Kalyle was asking. Bob rolled his eyes and looked at Enzo.
“Well, Guardian?” Enzo smiled, the first time in this random cycle. This was the first time he’d be in a game with other people. Before it was just him and Deco, but now he could show off for his two favorite sprites in the Net. Just as Enzo was about to call to Deco, Kalyle called to his keytool.
Bob quickly covered his mouth with his hand. “I do believe we’ll let the Guardian of Mainframe handle this.” He gave the cadet a look, then smiled over at Enzo. “You were saying, Guardian Matrix?”
Enzo smiled again at Bob. “Deco, stats.” he said. The tool beeped and blipped and posted a read out on it’s screen. “Cool.” the young guardian replied, nodding in appreciation. “We’re in a racing game called Lightening Way. All we gotta do is the beat the User to the finish line.”
“Let’s Reboot then.” AndrAIa said, tapping her icon and saying the magic word. The men followed her lead.
When the tingly feeling had left, Enzo found himself dressed in a blue jumpsuit with an identical helmet under his arms. He stood next to small motorbike, this one white with a large blue strip across the side. Bob was a red driver, his bike being red with black drawings on either side. Kalyle felt the most ridiculous. He was the pink driver, along with a pink and purple motorbike.
AndrAIa leaped joyfully when she saw what she was wearing. A black jumpsuit that seemed to fit the curves of her body and a black helmet. Her bike was a Vincent Black Lightening model, a little smaller than one she would’ve liked, but it was great. It was black, with a yellow strip enclosed in red stripes going down the side.
Bob looked at her. Enzo shook his head.
“I know, I know.” she said, sitting on the bike. “What is it with me and bikes?”
“Kismet.” Enzo replied, also getting on his bike. “Like I said before. It’s like destiny.”
The rest of the group sat around the table, discussing their involvement in yet another battle. Kit and Sabrina actually found the meeting pretty boring. Well, the bug situation sounded interesting and so did checking out the works of doctors James and Patricia Matrix. Kit kinda wished the meeting would end soon. He wanted to talk to Phong. He was hoping he could hang out with the scientists as they dove into his grandfather’s work.
“We’ll have to be prepared, just in case we get our own bug invasion.” Dot was saying.
“Preparation is key in any line of defense.” Phong replied, quoting one of many anectotes. “We will need to know exactly where the nest seems to be moving, so we may perhaps cut them off at the pass.”
“We’re gonna need to have the shields extra padded, mates.” Ray replied. “First and foremost, we gotta keep those bugs from getting in here.”
“How come?” Sabrina asked, looking up from the doodle she had been making with her fingernail.
“It’s bad, puddin’.” Mouse said, not wanting to go into details about what the queen did to the Command.Com.
“Very bad.” concluded Ray. “The queen sucks up all the energy from the core…”
“Thus crashing the system.” Kit completed. “Basic, yet cool in a way.”
“We’ll need anitoxin, too.” Matrix spoke.
“There are many things young Kalyle will have to tell us.” Phong said, nodding his head slowly.
“Until then…” Dot sighed. She looked over at Phong. “I need to know where all my parents’ works are located.”
Inside the game, Enzo and AndrAIa were neck and neck with the User. They were on the third and final lap of the race, with Enzo, AndrAIa, and the User tied for first, Bob trailing behind in fourth and Kalyle behind him. They were surprised they managed to get this far.
The race started, with AndrAIa quickly taking the lead, the User behind her. Kalyle, in a bid to move up, had grazed Enzo’s bike, causing him to crash into Bob and knocking out half the bikes behind them. So now the young cadet was in third.
The User had overtaken AndrAIa, pushing her into second place, but Kalyle moved up and captured first place. AndrAIa moved up next to him and the two had been neck and neck. Trying to avoid an obstacle, Kalyle had swung into AndrAIa, crashing her in the side rail. The three experience gamers were now in the back of the pack.
The second lap held the User in first, a yellow motorbike in second, a purple bike in third and Bob in fourth. Kalyle had run into an unseen obstacle and was now in the back of the pack. AndrAIa gunned her engine, surpassing Enzo and edging towards Bob, who smiled and let her pass.
Soon, she, Enzo, and Kalyle were side by side trying to catch the User. Every time one of them went for the User, Kalyle would pull right in front of them. Finally getting on their nerves, both Enzo and AdrAIa steered the cadet into an oil spill on the road, causing him to spin out.
Now, the race for first was chaotic. The User tried to out gun and push both competitors with no luck. Finally, AndrAIa pulled back behind the User. The User, not caring what she was doing, was still intent on crashing Enzo. But Enzo knew the manevuer well. It meant there was a hazard up ahead. Seeing both the oil slick and the jumper straight ahead, he bumped the User until he hit the jumper, the User hitting the oil slick.
“I said I was sorry!”
The quartet made their way back into the command room, Enzo, Bob, and AndrAIa sharing the same look of annoyance, while Kalyle trudged behind them, apologizing.
“It’s not every second you compete with three other people and a User!”
“The goal of any game, Cadet, is to win and save an area of the system you’re protecting.” Bob replied, walking over to his chair by Dot.
“It doesn’t matter which of us wins, as long as we do!” Enzo sneered, giving Kalyle a death stare.
“Do I want to know what he did?” Matrix asked, speaking to his wife, but looking at the cadet. Kalyle shook his head vigorously.
“You certainly don’t hesitate to get into trouble, do you, Boyo?” Ray asked, sarcastically.
“Cadet Daniels,” Phong spoke, trying to divert attention back to the topic at hand. “We would appreciate more on the subject that plagues the Net.”
“Of course, Phong.” the young sprite gulped. “What do you need to know?”
“When you’re going back to the Super Computer.” Enzo muttered.
Phong gave Enzo a look and the boy quickly shut up. “As our Guardian stated earlier, it is imperative that we discover the larger nest so we may destroy it. That is what will be the toughest.”
“Well,” Kalyle said, thoughtfully. “The first case was discovered in Ysen, but that was one of the systems that had to be destroyed, so I don’t think the nest is there.”
“What about the other systems invested?” AndrAIa asked. “Could one of them be a nest?”
“That’s hard to say.” Kalyle replied, rubbing the back of his neck. “Obviously the systems that are destroyed don’t count, but the ones that remain…I know some of the bugs have been taken care of. I can have Turbo send out a recon to find out for sure though.”
“Do that.” Dot replied, her Command.Com persona taking hold. “Meanwhile, AndrAIa and Mouse can work from here on strengthening the shields. Matrix, make sure all the CPUs are on alert in any event… well, in any event. Ray and Enzo, go and find out which systems have antitoxin and which don’t. Maybe we can help the systems that don’t. Bob, you’re with me and Phong.”
“Hey, what about us?” Sabrina asked, excited about the prospect of actual fun.
“Don’t you know?” Dot smiled.
“Let me guess.” Kit said, winking at his cousin. “We’re babysitting, right?”
“Nope.” Dot replied, laughing at the surprised look on her son’s face. “You’ll be getting our scientists ready.”
“Yes!” Sabrina exclaimed, giving Kit a high five.
Dot chuckled at the excited sprites. “Well, don’t just sit there. Didn’t I give you all something to do?”
“Yes sir!” the group replied, each heading out for their own jobs. Phong rolled out of the room with Dot, Bob hot on their heels.
“So what’s my job again?” he asked, coming in stride with the two.
“You’re going to help go through Dr. Matrix’s files.” Dot replied.
Bob merely nodded. He felt honored in some way, knowing she wanted him there as she went through journals and papers her father and mother had probably written, but he felt odd about it. Enzo and/or Matrix should be in his place. But judging on how the brothers had taken her decision to do this, he figured he would provide more support to her.
Phong led them down the corrider until they stopped at the Archives. The room was fulled with records of events in Mainframe’s history. Every sprite’s initiation file was located here, providing they were initialed in Mainframe, of course. Bob knew Kit’s file was in here somewhere, as were Dot and Enzo’s. Phong shut the door behind them and walked over to a panel.
“This way, my children.” he said, pressing a small staute. The wall opened to reveal another room, filled the same way the Archives was. The trio walked in, Phong standing in the doorway, while Bob and Dot looked about them. “This is where your father’s documents can be found, Dot.” Phong replied, looking around himself. “You may window me when you have found what you’re looking for.”
“But Phong,” Dot asked, turning around to face her mentor. “What exactly are we looking for?”
“I surmise, Dot, you will know when you find it.”
The old sprite walked back through the hidden entrance, the door closing behind him. “Kinda vague, isn’t he?” Bob joked, staring at the door. “Bob, look at this place.” Dot said, in awe. “There’s so much stuff here. How do we know what we’re looking for?”
Bob shrugged. “I guess we’ll know when we find it.”
“Thank you, Phong.” Dot replied, sarcastically. She looked back around. “Let’s get to work then.”
“So, you kids want to know about James and Patricia Matrix, huh?”
Kit and Sabrina had taken a slight…detour from their task. They were in the science lab of the Principal Office, taking to a Prof. Parker, a one binome in a lab coat and a large eye unit, covered by a monocle.
“Christopher, this is not what your mother sent us to do.” Sabrina complained. She was watching their first chance at being important being flushed down the Energy Sea.
“Hush.” Kit whispered. “Don’t you want to know about your grandparents?”
“Of course I do.” Bri sighed. “User knows, Dad doesn’t talk about them.”
“Well then, hush up.” he said. “Besides, we’re in the science lab. We’re talking to the scientists. Isn’t that what Mom said to do?”
“When did you become the responsible one?”
“And people say I’m the troublemaker.” Sabrina sighed, rolling her eyes in the process.
Prof. Parker returned from talking to another binome to the two youngsters. “Well, kids, what do you want to know first?” he asked.
“First of all,” Sabrina replied, wanting to stick to the plan before going off on the hunt. “Commander Matrix sent us down here to prepare you for bugs.”
“We have bugs?” Parker asked in horror.
“No.” Kit said, calming the professor down. “We, specifically, do not have bugs. But we are going to help systems with them.”
“Oh.” the binome sighed in relief. “And the Commander would like us to ready some antitoxin, huh?”
“We’re not sure, sir.” Sabrina confessed. “She just told us to tell you guys to be ready. I’m guessing she means anything.”
“Now that we’ve got the information out of the way,” Kit said, wanting to go back to his previous conversation. “What can you tell us about Doctors James and Patricia Matrix?”
“They were good sprites, I’ll tell you that.” the professor replied, wiping his eye with his hand. “I worked with them occasionally, in the Twin City.” He was silent for a while, as though reliving good times of the past. “I don’t suppose your parents discuss them a lot.”
The two children looked at each other, then back to Parker. “Not really.” Kit said, sadly. “I mean, I understand it was really painful losing them and all, but…”
“I take it you don’t know the whole story.” The kids shook their heads. The binome sighed, removing his monocle. “I’ll tell you what they were like.” he said, finally. “But I won’t discuss the Twin City. That’s something you should talk about with your folks or Phong even.” The professor sighed again. “But they were good sprites…”
Peter was just an intern when he arrived in Mainframe. He had his choice of living in either Mainframe or it’s equally beautiful Twin City. Peter chose Mainframe, as he was just starting out and needed cheap lodgings. But he’d be working in the Twin City, as an intern in the Science Labs. He heard he’d be assisting the renowned Dr. James Matrix and his wife Patricia. They were perhaps the next Marie and Pierre Copier. Their research on nullification was making it’s way around the Net and it would probably be the answer to the nulls that ran the systems. Their work was important for everyone.
And they were nice. Peter met them the day he got arrived in Mainframe. They were inside the Principal Office talking to Phong, all the while watching a small green skinned girl running around the command room. They talked to him, asking about his home system and his schooling, introduced him to their daughter Dot, and asked him over for dinner one second. The family left and Peter stayed and talked to Phong. The then Command.Com told of the Matrix’ .
The wife, Patricia, was quite a business woman. She owned three businesses in Mainframe already and she had only lived there for an hour. Her husband, James, spent most of his time at the Science Labs, working on various projects. At the time they had a Guardian, Laser, who spared the entire system from nullification by winning the game cubes that dropped. This had been a project James Matrix would work on.
The reversal of nullification.
“Hey, Dot. Look what I found!”
Bob and Dot were surrounded by read me files. They sat on the floor, files, vidwindows, and the like cluttered around them. Dot looked up from the many vidwindows that surrounded her to look over at Bob. He was sitting near the opposite wall, loads of files scattered around him, holding up what looked like a picture. Dot left her fort of files to venture over to Bob. She took the picture from him and smiled.
“I remember this.”
The picture was of two children, one a teenager, the other a small toddler, standing front of a sign that read, Little Bits’ Bumpers. The sky was a beautiful blue and you could see sprites and binomes in the background enjoying the ride. The two children were smiling, the younger one looking very excited.
“Dad…” Dot struggled for words as she said the name. “Dad took this at the carnival.”
Bob handed another picture to her. “I found this one, too.”
The picture was burnt on several sides, but it was still intact. It showed a happy family of four, a toddler in between its mother and father and a young girl standing behind them. They were dressed nicely and smiling for the camera.
“This was the last picture we took before…”
Dot could feel tears welling up inside her, the memory of the young family taking the picture. The last picture she ever took with her parents.
“Baby, maybe we should take a break for a while.” Bob replied, standing and rubbing Dot’s shoulders. Dot shook her head, handing the picture back to him.
“Somewhere my parents have a file on bugs.” Dot said, looking about the room. “We just have to find it.”
Bob just nodded and went back to his search. The two spent what seemed like milliseconds in the room, going over different files. Finally Dot cried, “Yes!” and started to download a particular file into her organizer.
“I think so.” she replied, glancing at her organizer as the file downloaded. “I didn’t read the entire thing, but I think this is it. I’ll have you and Cadet Daniels go over it. See what you think.”
“I found something, too.”
Dot looked up at Bob, confusion on her face. In his hand he held a read me file. His face was grim, as though he was bringing her bad news.
“What is it?”
Bob held out the file for her to reach.
“It’s your father’s journal.”
“Tell me your plan again?”
Kit stopped short in the hallway to face Sabrina. The two were headed back to the command room when Kit told Sabrina an idea he had.
“Look,” the boy sighed. “I don’t know about you, but I want to find out about our grandparents. I understand if our folks were waiting for the right time, wait until we’re older, but we’re not basic. I think we deserve to know, especially now, don’t you think?”
“So we go up to Phong and just ask?” Sabrina questioned. “You know he’ll say ‘discuss it with your parents’.”
“Maybe, maybe not. The point is, Dr. Matrix is responsible for the Twin City disaster. How and why, I don’t know. He’s also responsible for leaving Mom and your dad as the only sprites in Mainframe. Why and how, again I don’t know. But I’m willing to find out.”
Sabrina sighed. When Kit got something in his processor to do, he’d do it. And he was right. He knew more about this Twin City/Matrix family thing than she did and she was curious too. After all, James and Patricia Matrix were her grandparents as well. She figured she’d be getting no answers from her father.
“Okay, but if we get caught, the blame goes on you, Kitten Kaboodle.”
Kalyle sat his room, playing with his organizer. He sent the message to Turbo to send recons to the systems still processing and find out their bug situation. Right now, his mind was on other things. He wanted…needed…a talk with Phong. He hated not being in control and this was one of those situations.
First and foremost, he wanted to know about those kids. Kit has energy light coming from his hands, Sabrina could predict game cubes. How? If the process could be duplicated, it would come in handy with the survival of the Net. And those other kids. Hack and Slash had mentioned two other children belonging to Bob and Dot. The way they talked, they must be infants. He remembered Matrix had left to go check on Chip. Was that his son? What could those kids do?
Then there was the case of Dr. Matrix. When Dot had come back with that information on her organizer, he knew the problem was taken care of. He and Bob decided to work on it later in the second. In fact, he’d be going over to their apartment. Great. He could talk to that kid and maybe check out his siblings.
And maybe what Dot had in her hands when he left. Dot and her brothers had been standing in a corner after their return, talking quietly about some file Dot was showing them. What was in that file? KD had wondered, watching as Dot had taken it and her brothers had watched her silently leave. He’d have his chance later that night. Maybe…
Sabrina was sitting up in bed, playing a racing game in her bedroom, the organizer moving as she made turns and pushed foward to beat the user and move on to the next level.
“That had better not be my organizer you’re playing games on.”
Sabrina quickly paused the game, knowing the voice immediately. “Um…” she started, trying to think of the best lie she could. “No, Daddy.” she said, sweetly. She only called him ‘daddy’ when she wanted something and needed to get out of something. “You see, I was doing my homework and…”
“Don’t start.” Matrix said, walking over to the bed. “I know this lie. I made this lie.”
“I learned from the best?” she said, grinning up at him.
Matrix shook his head and sat next to her. “At least tell me you’ve got it.” he said, pulling on the ponytail her hair was now in. “And when you put new games in.” He gave her a smile, before unpausing the game and playing it himself. Sabrina looked at her father. She was just about to hear the story of James and Patricia Matrix, when her parents made her come home.
Ugh, she thought. Just because they’re finished working, didn’t mean I was. She watched her father play the racing game, easily beating the user and finding a special bonus level. “Show off.” she muttered. Matrix just smiled. At least he was in a good mood. I hope.
“Daddy, can I ask you a question and you won’t get mad?”
“Is it about boys?” Matrix asked, still playing.
“Then ask away.”
Sabrina sighed. Her father, always the protective type. The extremely big and jealous and protecting type. Her mother always said they were too much like each other. They were usually arguing over something and ending in a stare down, though Sabrina clearly had to stare up at her father. But she loved the big lug and she did pride herself on being daddy’s little troublemaker.
“What were your parents like?” she asked, noticing him tense up at the subject.
“I got you another bonus level and up to level six, but it gets harder.” he said, handing back the paused game.
“Sabrina, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Fine.” Sabrina sighed, leaning back on the pillows. “I’ll just grow old and bitter thinking about how my father never once talked about his parents.” She shook her head. “If that’s the life you want for me.”
“Guilt won’t work.” Matrix said.
“That wasn’t guilt.” the girl replied, glancing at her father. “That was pity.”
“Goodnight Sabrina.” Matrix attempted to leave, but stopped when Sabrina grabbed his hand.
“Dad,” the girl pleaded, trying to pull the large sprite back to her. “I’m not basic, you know. It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on between you and Enzo and Dot. Give me some credit.”
Matrix turned to look at his daughter, concern echoed in her eyes. He never tried to treat her like a little kid. He hated it and so did she, but some things she couldn’t understand. He couldn’t tell the anger and rage he felt or even the sadness. That wasn’t something he was going to share with his 0.8 hour old daughter.
“Daddy, they’re my grandparents too, you know.” she whispered.
Matrix sighed, then knelt down beside his daughter’s bed. “They would’ve loved you.” he said, stroking her cheek. “They would’ve loved your smile, your jokes, your curiosity…your caring nature.”
“My over all spirit?” Sabrina smirked. She held her father’s face in her hands for a moment. “Do you really think grandpa’s work could help this bug thing?”
Matrix took a deep breath and held it. “It’s not my decision, Angelface.” he said, closing his eyes. “It’s Dot’s. She is the Command.Com, after all. I can only give an opinion. The final word is on her.”
Sabrina studied her father’s face for a while. She could tell he was hurt, the combination of his father and Dot voting for using his work was etched on his face. Betrayal maybe? Sabrina removed her hands from his face and gave him a kiss on the nose.
“Don’t worry, Daddy.” she said, snuggling under the covers. “Everything will work out for the best. You’ll see.” Matrix looked down at his daughter, who smiled at him. She was becoming more and more like AndrAIa every second. He kissed her forehead before standing up. “And stop being mad at Aunt Dot and Uncle Enzo, you big null!” she quipped, closing her eyes and yawning.
Matrix started to say something, then shook his head. He picked up his organizer, left the room, and closed the door. He headed to his own room, careful to be quiet, in fear of waking up his wife. But she was already awake. As soon as he walked in and sat on the bed, she reached out to hug him.
“You know, in all the hours I’ve known you, I don’t think you’ve talked about your parents once.”
“There’s nothing to talk about, Andri.” Matrix muttered, saving the game and turning off the organizer.
“Nothing at all, huh?” She looked at him and kissed his cheek. “I said you could talk to me, Sparky. Rule hasn’t changed.”
Matrix stood up and walked over to the window. He peered out at the darkened system, looking out at the lights and buildings. “I hate him, Andri.” he replied, not turning from the window. “I love him and hate him at the same time. He’s right up there with Megabyte. Someone who nearly ruined my life.” He shook his head and turned to look at her. “I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.”
He walked back over to the bed and once again sat down on the side.
“This is so much harder on Enzo. I had you. He didn’t. You never got to see the look on his face during Daemon. Knowing that the other sprites that came here avoided him, taunted him. He was beat up like every second. It wasn’t enough that Mainframe had two Guardians in it. One guardian was dating his sister, the other was his brother. It’s kinda hard defending your family by yourself, but he did it.” He took a sharp breath and exhaled.
“There’s another problem though.” he whispered.
“And that being?”
“I don’t think I remember him.” Matrix said. “I mean, I remember some things, but…it’s not like with Bob or Dot or you. I remember everything like it was yesterday. AndrAIa, I remember Megabyte more than I remember my own father! And I think Enzo feels the same way.”
AndrAIa hugged him tighter, knowing when to let him have his moment of silence. She had spent her life with this sprite, learning every move and tick that made him up to be Enzo Matrix. But she never knew this. He had mentioned when they were younger that they were the only small sprites in Mainframe, but he never really went into detail about it, saying an explosion happened and they were all deleted. It took hours before she learned it had been his father, Dr. James Matrix, who had headed the experiment that caused the explosion.
This situation they were in now seemed to bring up thoughts he had when he was younger and Enzo being his younger self was having them as well, though, as Matrix had stated, he was taking it harder than his older brother. And both could only find the anger of the situation. The anger that their father was responsible for leaving them alone, for destroying their true home, for deleting their mother. It was becoming more and more apparent what demon each Matrix was facing.
Dot was faced with memories, while the brothers were faced with anger and disappointment.
Dot heard the door open and shut, presuming Kalyle had arrived to talk to Bob. She, on the other hand, was content on sitting in bed, reading her father’s diary. She had told her brothers about it, asking them if either wanted to read it first. Both had declined. She removed her glasses and was lost in thought.
What exactly were her brothers going through?
She knew it had to be similar in nature, they being the same sprite and all, but Enzo’s anger seemed to be a driving force, a dratic departure from the happy go lucky young adult he was. Matrx seemed to be more withdrawn, distant, someone he was reverting back to. Both boys had come a long way from the restart those hours ago, each helping the other cope with the presence of…themselves. And the three were becoming closer.
It seemed the more Enzo grew up, the closer the siblings became. Maybe because Dot saw them as adults now, settling down, starting their own families. But this seemed to be driving them apart and she couldn’t understand why. They were both convinced anything remotely related to their father’s experiments was only going to destroy another system, another family.
But could she really blame them?
She replaced her glasses and began reading again. She had started reading the journal as soon as she and Bob had gotten home. It had started from when James had entered a scientific conservatory to begin an internship. She was now at the part when he and her mother had arrived in Mainframe.
Well, we’re here. In the system of Mainframe. Patty heard they were excepting interns at their Science Labs and what a place to be. We’ll actually be living in the system known as the Twin City, connected to Mainframe by a lovely bridge. Both cities are breathtaking. Patty seems to like it as well. She said it was a perfect place to start and raise a family. Is she hinting at something? I must admit, this is a wonderful place.
Patty and I are doing well here. Phong, the Command.Com, says the system has never seen better seconds. I like him. He’s very nice and he even offered me cocoa. He’s in charge of both cities here and seems to know everything about anything. He is a most interesting sprite. I enjoy going to the Principal Office just to gather his wisdom on things. Things are going so well here.
Wonderful news! I’m going to be a father! Can you believe it? Ha ha. Of course you can’t. Well, neither can I. A baby. Patty is having a baby. I certainly can’t think of a better place than this. We just moved into a house in the Twin City, near the Little Theater. Think of the little sprites my son or daughter will be able to play with. Even better news. The virus theory I proposed has gone through.
We’ll be starting on something tomorrow. Then in another cycle, I’ll actually be giving a lecture in another system. I always did love travelling, but I’m worried about Patty. Should I be leaving in her condition? I’ll ask Phong. That’s what I usually do.
Dot skipped forward, looking for the date leading up to the Twin City disaster. She needed to know something.
I don’t know how long it’s been. Ten, twelve hours in the making, I’m sure. I just know that we’ve been working on this and haven’t seen the end to the problem yet. So many sprites and binomes have lost their lives already. I can’t give up, but there doesn’t seem to be an answer in sight. The experiment is taking time away from Patty and the kids. Dottie’s a woman now, running our diner.
Her diner one day.
Enzo’s going to school and the like. They’re the reason I keep this up. I don’t want them to have to deal with the thought of nullification one day, especially now that our guardian is gone. I want a life for them.
This is usual for me, I know, but I just felt I needed to write some things down. Patty and I were working on the project again today. We’re always working on the project. Enzo spends most of his time at Dot’s and I’m sure he feels left out. We hardly have time for them anymore.
I guess I should say I never have time for any of my family anymore. I’m always in the lab or out lecturing. I think our marriage is falling apart. I know my family is. But I think we’re close to a break through, I really do. After that, things can go back to normal. Things will be great, the way they used to. I can’t quit now.
I’m in such a rush, but I think I should write this down. It moved. The null I’ve working on moved. It started to change and then stopped. I think with the use of a little more treatment, the experiment will be a success. Oddly enough, I’m worried. What if something should go wrong?
I know it’s random talk, but it might. I have to see Phong about backing up the system. I also need to talk to Dot and Enzo. Tell them I love them. But then, I’m being silly. It’s not like I won’t be seeing them again.
Dot sighed, remembering those same thoughts the day of the explosion. She looked at the last entry in her father’s journal and then closed it.
Kalyle once again found himself inside Dot’s Diner that night. He wanted to talk to that kid of Dot’s, see what he could do. He wondered how a child like that could possess the talent he did, but that was in the back of his head. He was thinking how it would help them in this fight. How it could help the Net. Kalyle knew this was just a kid, but still. He had been a kid and he became a Guardian. What was the difference?
The cadet followed Bob’s instructions and headed towards the kitchen. He had the waiter droid show him the stairs that led to the Lans’ apartment. Cecil shooed the lad away before going back to his duties. How Dot got along with that thing was beyond him. He knocked on the door and waited. He smiled at the young sprite who answered the door.
“Oh, it’s you.” replied Kit, already dressed in his pajamas.
“Just little ole me.” Kalyle said, his smile getting wider.
Kit moved aside to let the cadet in and closed the door behind him. “Dad’s in with the twins, so he should be out in a little bit.” he said, gesturing to a chair for Kalyle to sit and then hopping on the couch.
“Nice place.” the cadet replied, looking around.
The place seemed to be bigger on the inside then the outside. The living room was cozy, a large couch in the center, the chair he sat next to it. A tv was set up on the opposite wall and was showing some sort of documentary that the young Kit seemed to be watching. A kitchenette was to the left, table cleaned and dishes in the sink. Two high chairs were folded in the corner by the fridge. KD turned his attention back to the child, who was captivated by the program he had been watching.
“What cha watching?”
“True Stories of Mainframe.” Kit replied, not taking his eyes off the screen. ” They’re reenacting the whole Medusa Bug thing. It’s an old episode. It’s before my parents got married.”
“I see.” Kalyle said, nodding his head slowly. He leaned over, wanting to ask the boy the questions he had in his head his whole trip there. “Say, Kit, was it?” The boy nodded. “I was kinda curious about that thing you did in the Diner the other second.”
“What thing?” Kit asked, still watching tv.
“When you…threatened Matrix’s kid.”
“Whatever.” Kalyle said. “You got mad and you started forming an energy ball in you hand.”
“That’s kinda strange, don’t you think?”
For the first time, Kit tore his eyes away from the tv program and looked at Kalyle. “Not for me it isn’t.” He said, smirking. He turned his attention back to the vidscreen.
Kalyle narrowed his green eyes. This kid was going to hard. The cadet sat back in his chair and stared at the boy. “So you’re special, huh?” he grunted. Kit raised his eyebrow at the cadet and continued watching tv. “As I had been saying, you may not think it’s strange, but I do.” KD continued. “How did you learn to do that? Do your parents know about this? How did you discover…”
“What’re you? The Binome Inquisition?” Kit muttered.
“Kit, could get…Oh hi Cadet.”
Bob walked through the living room and sat down next to his son on the couch. The sudden, but expected, appearance by the guardian caused Kalyle to discontinue his questioning until later. “Kit, you mind getting a bottle for your sister?” Bob asked.
The boy gave his father a smile and headed off to the kitchen, giving a smirk to Kalyle as he passed. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Cadet.” Bob apologized. “I was giving the twins a bath. Hence why I’m still slightly wet.”
“No prob.” Kalyle replied, waving the incident away. “I was having an interesting chat with your son.”
Bob nodded, a smile on his face. He trusted Kalyle Daniels like he trusted Hexadecimal. Long enough to get information and help, but he wouldn’t hesitant on destroying the ex-virus. He understood Kalyle was still a rookie, but something about him made red flags go off in Bob’s head.
The earlier incident with Sabrina and the game cube had gotten the cadet’s suspicions up. Bob had been trying to do his best, making sure Kalyle stayed away from the kids, in case his curiosity got the best of him and he wanted to exploit the kids’ powers. Mainframe didn’t need that type of ally.
“Well, let’s get to work, huh?” Bob suggested, heading into the kitchen.
“What exactly was it you found today, Bob?”
“Dot and I looked for anything her father may have discovered on bugs.” Bob replied, pointing to a chair at the top for the sprite to sit. Bob did likewise and took his usual seat at the table, across from Kalyle. “We might have found something.”
Kalyle’s trademark grin appeared on his face. Things were starting to go right on this little adventure of his. It didn’t matter what had to happen next, as long as he found a cure to saving those systems, everything would be worth it.
Even if he had to turn into the enemy.
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