Memories Are Made of This
Chapter 5 – Uninvited Guest
The Mainframe staff stood in the command room early the next morning. They started making plans on how to combat a bug investation in case it came to Mainframe. Mouse and AndrAIa continued their work on strengthening the defenses, Bob and Enzo kept on the look out for incoming games, while Dot and Kalyle discussed strategy.
Kit and Sabrina were regulated as babysitters, watching their younger siblings in Dot’s office, while Ray had disappeared with Phong in the conservatory. Everyone was present though when Specky, the one binome Lieutenant, announced a message was coming in from the Super Computer.
“Patch it through, Lieutenant.” Dot replied, as everyone waited for the message.
“Hi everybody!” called a young woman from the other side of the vidwindow. She was dressed in Guardian blue, her brown hair slung in a ponytail. She was tan, with deep blue eyes. and a winning smile. Enzo couldn’t help but grin at the beautiful sprite.
“Hello, Cadet.” Bob said, grinning at the girl. “How’re things at the Super Computer?”
“Oh, just wonderful.” the sprite replied, rolling her eyes as she did.
“Well, if it isn’t Cadet Hewlett.” Kalyle said, addressing the sprite on screen.
“Cadet Daniels.” Alexandria Hewlett sighed. She wasn’t expecting him so early in the morning. “Turbo said he sent someone out to Mainframe.”
“Disappointed?” Kalyle sneered. “I know how you upper classmen feel about someone stealing your thunder.”
Alex glared at the young man before muttering, “It’s too early in the morning for this.” She turned to Dot and said, “Turbo put me in charge of that recon crew you guys wanted. Just wanted to let you know the deal.”
“Report, Cadet.” Enzo said, giving the girl a flirtacious smile, to which she returned.
“I went with another cadet to the system of Pastoria. They had been hit along with the first cases, but they managed to have everything under control.”
“Did you look for a nest?” Kalyle asked.
“That wasn’t our job, Cadet.” Alex said, with an air of authority. “But from what I saw, the bugs have either been destroyed or they’re in hiding. Buzz and I went over that system and we didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. I will say Pastoria is one of the few systems that don’t mind having guardian’s come to tea, if you know what I mean.”
“All too well.” Matrix mumbled. He still remembered how hard it had been in Mainframe during Daemon’s reign.
“Do you know if they have any antitoxin, Alexandria?” Phong asked.
“They do, but it’s barely enough to cover their system if the bugs are hiding. But they are willing to help any system that needs it.”
“Good.” Dot said, her mind whirling with thoughts and different ideas. “Alex, do you have the reports from the other recon teams?”
Alex grinned. “Sure do.” she said, holding up a disk. “And I can download it to you in a few nanos.”
Alex put the disk in her organizer and started to send the file through to Mainframe’s address. Mouse was the one to get it. “Got it, sugah.” she said, tapping some of the keys.
“Great.” Dot replied. “Maybe that list will help us narrow down our problem. Thanks, Alex.”
“No prob.” the girl said, smiling. She then turned her attention to Enzo. “Guardian Matrix, may I have a word with you? Private format?”
“Of course.” Enzo said. “I can take it in…uh…”
“Take it in my office.” Matrix said.
“I’ll take it in Matrix’s office.” He said, grinning at his brother. He then headed out to his brother’s office.
“Well, see you guys later.” Alex said.
“It was good to see you again, Alex.” AndrAIa called from her console.
“You, too.” the girl laughed. “Stay frosty! That goes for you too, KD.” Alex smiled. “Alex out.”
Kalyle gave an evil glance at the vidwindow as it minimized. Private format indeed, he thought. He saw the looks those two were giving each other. He had heard that they were dating, but only their close friends knew that.
He and Alexandria Hewlett weren’t exactly the best of friends.
“I’ve missed you, Scooter.”
Enzo was talking to Alex on screen in his brother’s office. The office was an array of Matrix’s stuff and others. Pictures of family and friends stood on the desk, which was slightly cluttered with files and bike magazines (obviously AndrAIa had stopped by one second). There was also a baby bottle nestled in the couch and various toys littered about the floor.
“Allie, don’t call me Scooter.” Enzo said, grimancing at the nickname.
“You weren’t complaining when I called you that on the second before your birthday.” the girl replied, smiling seductively.
“What about when I was in your dorm room and we…”
“Alex!” Enzo exclaimed, blushing at the memory. “All right, all right. The name stays. Like you planned it, I suppose.”
“I always get my way, Lover.” Alex said. “Say, what’s with Professor Pain in the ASCII? What’s he doing here?”
“To help with this bug problem, I guess.” Enzo said. “Turbo sent him to ask for our help. Why? I noticed you two aren’t exactly close.”
“He’s a pain, believe me. You don’t remember him?” Enzo shook his head. “He didn’t really hang out with us. He’s in the same class I’m in, but he’s a loner. And he’s trouble, Enzo.”
“What do you mean?”
“He believes in the win-lose situation.” Alex said. “He wants to win at all costs.”
“What do you know about this guy?” Enzo asked, taking a seat on the desk.
“There’s a lot.” Alex said, giving him a small smile. “And I can’t think of a better way of sharing it.”
“So Grandpa Matrix blew up the Twin City?”
Kit and Sabrina were sitting on the couch in Dot’s office, keeping a close eye on their siblings. Right now, Chip and the twins were sitting peacefully in a crib by the wall. Using the quiet time, Sabrina decided to find out about the conversation between Phong and Kit.
“Yeah.” Kit said, shaking his head. “I mean, Phong didn’t go into specifics, but that’s what he said. He said that Dr. Matrix was in charge of this experiment to turn nulls back into sprites and binomes. Somewhere, somehow, the thing backfired, causing Twin City to explode. Mom and Uncle Matrix were in the Diner, so they were safe from harm.”
“But not the other sprites in the city.” Sabrina concluded.
“Wow.” Sabrina breathed. “No wonder everyone’s on edge. It makes sense now.”
“Yeah, but we still don’t know the whole story.” Kit said. “And we don’t know if Grandpa’s work is gonna help with these bugs. And…we’ve got another problem I think.”
“You mean besides Dad and Enzo and Dot not talking to each other?”
“Bigger than that.” Kit said. He cast a glance at the adults outside in the command room. His eyes immediately focused on Kalyle Daniels, who stood looking over AndrAIa’s shoulder. “That Kalyle guy. Have you noticed he’s been trying to get us alone the last couple of seconds?”
“Yeah.” Sabrina replied. “Every since that game cube hit, he’s been pestering Dad and Mom to try and do something with me. I think it’s rather creepy and I have just the solution to end his problems.” She then extended her nails.
“Stop that!” Kit hissed, jumping from the couch to close the door. “We’ve already got that guy on edge about our abilities. Let’s not give him anymore, you know?”
“But you’re right.” he continued. “I don’t know what he knows, but I have noticed Dad trying to steer him away from us. I think we should follow his lead.”
“You think he’s got certain plans for us?” Sabrina asked.
“I don’t know.” Kit replied, once again opening the door. “I just think with this bug thing, if he sees an opportunity, he’ll probably go for it.”
“And that’s all I know.” Alex finished.
Enzo shifted his weight on the desk in order to think. The more he found out about Kalyle Daniels, the less he liked.
Bad enough the guy thought he was the User’s gift to Guardian kind, but the fact that he nearly cost them that racing game and now his sudden interest in spending time with his niece and nephew was slightly disturbing. This bug situation wasn’t helping and either was his break away from Matrix and Dot. If anything, he could really use their advice right now.
“So what do you think, Enzo?” Alex asked, seeing the expression on his face.
“I can tell you I’m not happy about it.” the young sprite said, getting up to start pacing. “I knew there was something about him I didn’t like when he got here.”
“I’ll admit KD is a bit on the pain side.” Alex said, watching her boyfriend pace in front of her. “But you gotta cut him some slack. This bug thing is kinda close to home for him.”
“I’ll cut him some slack once this thing is over and I find out why he’s so interested in Kit and Bri, though I’m sure I already know.”
“Whadda mean by that?” Alex asked in confusion.
Enzo stopped his pacing to look at her. He had told her everything about him and his family, except for this and right now he was thinking about letting it slide. He knew she would never do anything to hurt him or the kids. They loved her and vice versa.
“It’s nothing, AJ.” he replied, smiling at her. “I just think he’s trying to get information from them. But we got it taken care of.” Well, at least he hadn’t exactly lied to her.
Alex studied his face for a nano. She knew he wasn’t telling her the whole story. She had noticed the strained looks between him and his brother before she left. Were they fighting again? She remembered Enzo had told her about the restart causing another Enzo Matrix, namely him, and how the brothers didn’t get along at first.
It took about two cycles to even get the two to talk to each other. And another thing. What was going on with Kalyle and the kids? Enzo’s statement rang in her head. Trying to get information from them. She knew Daniels to be a tad bit ruthless, but even he wouldn’t stoop so far as to bribe little kids. Would he?
For the time being, she’d let it go. For now.
“Okay then.” she said, returning the smile. “If anything comes up, you will let me know, won’t you?” The tone of her voice and the emphasis on will made Enzo realize Alex knew something was already up.
“Of course, sweetie.” he said, nodding. “And if anything happens on your end…”
“You’ll be the first to know.”
Enzo closed the connection and took a seat in Matrix’s chair. The guardian closed his eyes and his mind started thinking. It certainly had been the start of a trying, if not taxing, cycle. His first few seconds as the Guardian of Mainframe was certainly more than he realized he could handle. He had one problem after another in those few short seconds and they seemed to be mounting as he sat there. He relaxed a little and tried to sort things out.
The first problem had started when Phong had called him in that morning. Those images of the long forgotten Twin City had started the downward spiral of his sanity for sure. He was still struggling with the feelings he was having. He was only a little sprite when that happened and he had done a pretty good job of erasing some of the pain, but obviously not all of it.
It was times like this he wished he were Matrix. At least Matrix had AndrAIa and even that was a fluke. No game sprite had ever been out of a game before and there she was. Apparently Dre had been right when she said she fell for Enzo on that little fish ship of his.
But Enzo didn’t have that. He didn’t have someone who was willing to risk their life and safety for him all in the name of friendship. Sometimes he wished he could catch the game AndrAIa came from, hoping he could meet the real one and get her to come back with him, to be his friend. But the thought eventually faded away. How basic and dumb was that?
That would cause even more problems than two Enzos. He thought everything would be okay once the threat of Daemon lured over them. More and more sprites were coming to Mainframe in refuge. But all that did was land him in more trouble. The new little sprites hated him. He was the younger brother of a guardian. His sister, the Command.Com for User’s sake!, was dating a guardian. Enzo couldn’t count how many times he had barely dodged a fight.
He was just a little sprite then, trying to combat the rumors that were spreading about his family. He remembered when AndrAIa had picked him up from school one second. The next morning, he was confronted about the beautiful young sprite.
“That your girlfriend?”
“She your bodyguard?”
He wished he could’ve kicked himself for what he said next.
“That’s my friend AndrAIa. She’s a game sprite and she’s gonna be my sister one second, so you’d better…”
Idiot! he thought to himself.
All that did was cause more problems for him. Before he just had to stand up for Bob and Matrix and even Dot sometimes, now he’d inadvertently gotten AndrAIa involved and that was the last thing he wanted. When they found out she was a game sprite, the teasing and bullying just got worse. Then when they finally put two and two together and realized she was dating Matrix, it seemed nothing Enzo could do would save him from a daily beating.
That’s when he started working out with Matrix.
He had said it was to spend more time with his older brother, but he thought Matrix knew the truth. That’s why they worked so hard. By the time the war with Daemon was over, he was growing into an adolescent, who could easily take Matrix in a fight. Or so he hoped. Enzo’s desire to be a guardian was just fueled by the taunts of classmates.
He’d show them, he thought. One second, he’d be a guardian and they would need saving and he would fight his mend and defend programming and leave them there to fight whatever problem was bothering them. That would teach them. That would teach them all.
Of course, Enzo grew up and stopped having those thoughts. That’s not why he wanted to be a guardian. He wanted to help people, like Bob and Matrix. And he knew he wanted to be Mainframe’s guardian, despite the fact that Bob and Matrix were already there. He didn’t care. His system needed him.
Even with two guardians, Mainframe seemed to falter now and then and needed everyone to help. Sometimes he’d think about how his parents would be proud of him and then his thoughts would be clouded with anger and sadness and he’d have to stop thinking about it.
But now he couldn’t do that. Their problems were smashing right into his face.
Enzo sighed. His parents and the Twin City had only been the start. Then this Cadet Daniels shows up and brings more pain to the Matrix family then needed. His bug problem almost required that Dr. Matrix’s work be the main focus of getting rid of the pests, but that also meant facing the problem head on and that’s what ultimately caused the breakdown between he, his brother, and their sister.
Even though he and Matrix felt the same way, the two hadn’t talked to each other until that second. He and Dot hadn’t spoken since their argument. His family was falling apart and right now, he was going to blame someone for it.
And that someone was Kalyle Daniels.
The cadet was irrational and annoying. He had something up his sleeve and Enzo wanted to know what. He had a suspicion it was probably Kit and Sabrina. He wished Dot hadn’t invited them to that meeting. What exactly was she thinking? She obviously wasn’t, something that just didn’t happen with Dot.
Or maybe…she had the same idea Daniels did.
The thought sickened him and he knew it couldn’t be true. Not Dot. Never in a million hours would Dot think to use Kit or Sabrina to fight in this war of bugs. Would she? Right now, Enzo was unsure. He’d seen Dot do some unDot like behavior this cycle and somewhere in his processor, he thought she could be capable of it.
Finally, Enzo’s mind started to drift away, leaving his previous thoughts in the back locker for now and whisking him to another place. The colors were marvelous. Reds and blues, greens and purples lighted up the landscape from where he stood. He was in a big field of grass, reminding him of Floating Point Park.
There were flowers of every color there. Birds and butterflies filled the sky. Enzo looked around him and saw little colorful people surrounding him. They were fuzzy and had antenna that looked like shapes protruding from their heads.
“Hello, Mr. Enzo.” said one fuzzy. He was purple and had a square antenna from his head. His voice was high pitched, but still had some masculine depth to it.
“Hello, Mr. Enzo.” another fuzzy replied, this time Enzo could tell this was a lady fuzzy. She was blue and had a circle coming from her head. She also had the most beautiful blue eyes Enzo had ever seen, rivaling that of both AndrAIa and Alex.
“Who are you guys?” he asked, looking around him at the rainbow of fuzzies abound.
“We’re here to take you on a magical journey.” said the lady fuzzy.
“To make you leave your troubles behind.” replied the man fuzzy.
“That’s gonna be a little hard.” Enzo quipped. “I have so many, I’d probably need to sit down and tell you them all.”
“It’s okay, Mr. Enzo.” a small fuzzy replied, tugging on Enzo’s pant leg. She was a child, maybe a little younger than Sabrina, and was yellow. Her antenna was that of a hexagon.
“We believe in you, Mr. Enzo.” the lady fuzzy said.
“You are the guardian of Mainframe.” said the man fuzzy.
“I’m one of the guardians of Mainframe.” Enzo corrected.
“No, no.” the man fuzzy insisted. “You are the guardian of Mainframe. Guardian Bob handed the honor to your brother Matrix. And he in turn handed the honor to you.”
“So…I’m the answer to all my problems?” Enzo asked. These fuzzies were really weird and he wasn’t sure why he was dreaming about them. He had to be dreaming about them.
“Yes and no, Mr. Enzo.” the lady fuzzy replied. “For this problem you are working on, you will be essential to the solution.”
“But your niece and especially your nephew hold the key in to stopping a great plague and even saving not one, but two lives.” said the fuzzy man.
“Whoa, whoa!” Enzo said, trying to sort this odd information. “Which problem? Who are they planning to save? And how are my niece and nephew involved?”
The only response Enzo got from the small fuzzies was each holding hands in a big circle around him and then they started to sing.
You look very tired, there is much to do,
So you are not wired, this what you do.
Listen to our song, let your problems go away,
You look very tired and this is what we say.
“Hey, will you guys stop singing for a nano?” Enzo claimed, trying to make sense of this odd little song.
Saving all your system, that is what you do,
Taking all your problems and your solutions, too.
“Listen, if you could just answer me this one question…”
The little fuzzies stopped their singing and looked at the young guardian. “Oh my, yes, of course, Mr. Enzo.” the fuzzy man replied. “Ask your question.”
Enzo sighed. “How do I get out of here?”
“Very soon, you will hear a call of distress.” the lady fuzzy said.
“And unfortunately, that will bring about a much bigger problem than you expected.” said the man fuzzy.
“Yeah, thanks.” Enzo muttered, sarcastically. “You guys have been a real help.” He could feel a headache coming on. He just knew it.
“Goodbye, Mr. Enzo.” said the small child fuzzy. “Have a safe journey.”
That’s when he heard the scream.
Everyone in the war room had heard the scream, too. They couldn’t miss it. It was coming from Dot’s office.
“Kit, do something!” Sabrina cried.
The two had been sitting in the office, thinking of something to do, when Jet Lan started to whimper. Kit had looked over and became panicked. Hovering over his brother was a large worker bug. The bug was slightly larger than his younger brother, with enfolded wings on his back, and long antennas on his head. The bug’s body was black, but the wings were a shiny grayish color. Pincers came from his mouth and it looked as though the bug had found a meal in the nearby crib.
When Sabrina had seen it, she instantly screamed, causing the bug to look up and hover protectively over the crib. Kit had been frozen with fear. What could he do? He had never seen anything like this before, but from somewhere within him, he knew it was a bug.
That alone made him realize what could happen once that bug actually came down on his brother, sister, and baby cousin. Sabrina’s screams were fading into the background and he could only concentrate on the bug in front of them. In the distance, he could pounding on the door.
The bug, obviously shaken by the child’s screams, decided it found the food fair and square and had plans to eat it. “Get away from my family!” Kit screamed, his hands stretched out in front of him, orbs glowing from the palms, and pointed straight at the worker.
“Kit, unlock the door!” Bob exclaimed.
He and the others stood at the door, trying to get it open, only to find that it was locked. The screaming from inside continued, until they heard Kit exclaim, “Get away from my family!” The room seemed quiet after that. Bob continued pounding and soon the door opened and the group of adults walked in.
“Are you okay?”
“Is anyone hurt?”
The questions came a mile a nano and all directed at the small children in the room. “Therewasthis buganditwasoverthecribandwetriedscaringitandallofasuddenthereitwasand…” Sabrina rattled, her words forming into one big mono sentence.
“Christopher, what happened?” Bob asked, turning his son to look at him. Kit seemed to be in shock and finally shook his head clear and looked at his father.
“There…was this bug over the crib and…”
“A bug?!” everyone exclaimed.
Soon, there was a rush of activity around the room, people rushing to the other side, checking the babies in the crib and examining the bug. “Why did you lock the door?” Matrix asked, staring down at his nephew.
“I…I…don’t know, Uncle Matrix…I…” the boy stuttered, not remembering why the door was locked. That was something he would never do, so why had he done it?
“What did you kill this bug with?” Kalyle asked, kneeling over the corpse. When he didn’t get an answer, he turned to look at Kit.
“With that readme file on the desk.” Kit answered, meekly. He pointed to a read me that sat on the desk. The same one he had been reading a while earlier.
“It was so nice of you to replace it on your mother’s desk.” Kalyle sneered.
“I’m very polite like that.” Kit shot back.
“Let’s stay frosty, Cadet.” Bob said, glaring at the young sprite. “Look, I’ll take the kids over to the Diner and I’ll be back in a little while, okay?”
“Don’t trouble yourself, sugah.” Mouse piped up, pushing past Bob and putting an arm around Kit’s shoulder. “I’ll take the little dumplin’s over there myself. You just stay here.”
“You’re sure, Mouse?” AndrAIa asked. “I mean, you don’t mind?”
“Mind?” At that, the hacker laughed. “It certainly picked up a borin’ second.” After getting everyone’s stuff together, Mouse took the kids over to the Diner, while Kalyle stayed in Dot’s office.
Kalyle stayed back, saying he was going to get the bug ready for examination by the lab. He looked the bug over and saw it couldn’t have been hit over the head with a read me file. The bug showed scorch marks, most likely from an energy beam of some sort. Kalyle was positive that kid had caused this. The how was still yet to be determined, but he knew the kid had some sort of power.
And apparently, Bob was getting suspicious. So were Matrix and AndrAIa.
He couldn’t go within a foot of those kids, without having some adult intercept him. Well, he knew one way to find the truth. And he would find it. He’d also have to find out how this little bug had even gotten in here. He’d need to scan the Principal Office for a nest and hope this was just a weird fluke. Either way, he was going to rid the Net of Daemon’s bugs. It didn’t really matter now how he did it.