Pushing up, up closer, and then breaking through the surface, refracted light solidifies into bright day and everywhere-the Ocean. AndrAIa smiles. The sea wind sounds in her ears, magnified by the water. She leans back to float, hearing Enzo's clumsier strokes pulling him towards her and the air. Who but the User would have thought another ocean Game could be there, stretching out now, as is does, before her?
She has missed this, the salt in the air, her skin finally not feeling dried out three-sizes too small. She has missed too, something deeper still. Yet the Ocean is a place, she reminds herself, where at least part of her- the realer part- never left. A copy, that's all AndrAIa is. Did the Other Her grow, as she had? Had she died? Did she think ever of the strange boy making strange sounds about Supercomputers and worlds that the Other Her had never known, and never would?
Dolphins called crying "adding more water to the sea," but she doesn' add anything, because at that moment, a strong hand pulls, dunking her under and when she re-emerges, Enzo is laughing.
She smiles into the sun at that sight, and reminds herself, that two girls in two places together will always have the best of everything they could ever need.
Characters: Turbo, Mouse
You could feel the tension rise, the minute the man walked into the room. Watching him approach the bar, Mouse struggled to keep calm. She recognized him. Turbo: Gaurdian. Function? To mend and defend. And then here she was, not, as she liked to put it, always completely on the right side of the law. To her, it was only a matter of bending a few rules but looking at the ridgid lines in this man's face, she doubted he'd see it with so much shades of grey.
She was just trying to decide if it was better to play it cool and sneak out, or if a dead run would serve her better, when he pulled out the bar stool next to hers. Already to late.
"One of my subordinates was killed today," he said to no one in particular. She shifted in her seat and he turned to her, seeing her for the first time, maybe. "Damn," he said, "Seems more real when I say it out loud. What're you drinking?"
"A Blue Electric," she answered, fingers reaching out to play with the glass stem just a little.
"Hey, barkeep, I'll have what the lady's having."
Mouse stared at him, this Turbo, head of the Guardians, and his stone-like features, so hard they looked about ready to crack. She was going to regret doing what she was about to do, most likely. Being a softie was going to get her killed one day. She reached out her hand, stopped him from picking up the drink.
"Hey, Sugah. I got the mix for this stuff back at my place. You wanna come? No use drinking- or doing…whatever else you might want to do- in a bar. No place to say good-bye."
She was just trying to get on the right side of the right side of the law, she told herself as she watched Turbo's face. The jaw moved back and forth. His fingers pulled back from his drink.
"Your place, huh?" he said softly.
"Yeah," she said.
Characters: Mouse and Frisket
Characters: Mouse and Frisket
An emergency Dot'd claimed. So Mouse was here. She'd risked life and limb, had done the impossible and invented a Firewall, had faced the unknown of a system reboot all for a city she still didn't call home- and this is how they repay her?
Frisket headbutts her leg, and Mouse looks down again at the other dog in front of her.
"I'm a mechanic," she says to no one in particular, everyone else having abandoned Ship. "Puppies aren't engines."
Frisket whined. His lady friend panted. Mouse sighed.
"One day, being a soft touch will be the end of me…"
Bob shifted nervously, his hand hanging awkwardly in mid-air. Its not that he wanted to touch the nulls that formed Dot's dad's hand exactly, but-
It gets even more awkward when all Dot's father does is stare (or Bob thinks it stares. Having nulls for a head makes facial features non-existant).
"Hello. I'm Bob. I've heard a lot about you."
The thing continues to stare and after a moment a mushy sort of voice comes out. "I've never heard of you."
And what do you say to that? The null-man, surprisingly, seems just as uncomfortable with the silence, because it starts in on the small talk. "That's my son, Enzo, over there, you know."
Not Matrix, but Enzo. Bob wonders who he would have pointed to.
"Yeah," he says.
"You know him?" it asks, surprised.
A copy downloaded less than two minutes ago?
"No, but- he reminds me of someone I used know."
Prompt: Death Fic
Characters: Enzo Matrix, Ray Tracer
Here is what you know: Adventure is good. Women are pretty. Both Adventure and Women are better when served together.
Here is what you learn: Sometimes the heroes don't get the girls. Or rather, sometimes you are not the girl's hero. Sometimes the girl met her hero back when they were kids, and how in the wires were you suppose to know the girl of your dreams was busy meeting the man of her dreams when you're only a few cycles old? Sometimes, your heart can still break even after the girl of your dreams has rejected you for a man you personally can't stand.
Because sometimes, like this time, that man is lying dead at your feet and AndrAIa has no one to tell her this but you.
Characters: Professor Matrix, Enzo Matrix, Frisket
The Three Musketeers, Dot had called them, and when he had asked, she'd just shrugged, said it was something she'd seen in a Game. But that's what the Matrix Men were, every morning. When Sis had left for work, Dad, Frisket and him had gone to the diner, a tradition never broken till the day Lost Angles went up in wires. Heck, Dad had even gotten them swords, dog included. Dad had worn it every morning too, even after Frisket had chewed his to bits and his son had declared toy swords totally Not Numeric.
Matrix smiled a bit at that last thought. He'd been a twerp as a kid. Since his own copy was running around no one knew that better than he just how much of a twerp he'd been.
"But a good owner, right boy?" Matrix whispered. Behind him, a cough. He turned to his dad, now entirely made of nulls. Dad didn't remember their Musketeer Mornings together anymore. Actually, his dad didn't remember much of anything, and what he did, he connected with "Lil' Enzo", not him.
"He can't hear you, son."
Matrix ignored him, pulled out the toy sword he'd bought that morning, took it in his hands.
"One for all, huh?" he said, and shoved the toy into the ground beside the grave.
He hears her steps before she comes; her shoes make a very distinctive noise. Next he sees light spreading out before her and curses his own brain- fevered as if in a furnace- when some part of his mind thinks how beautiful that all is. It is her presence he notices last of all, and after that he looks into her face and forgets everything but the need to say Yes, Yes, Please, Yes, I am Yours, Use Me, Take Me, You Are My God.
Steps move away. Light receeds. His God has gone. His brain is wires misfiring and he wonders, is it a sin to worship a god that is not a god at all?
Prompt: Dark Fic
Characters: "Little" Enzo, Ray Tracer
Ray stares at the boy and can't help thinking, even now when it couldn't be more inappropriate, when his mind could be- needed to be- employed in better ways. He thinks: so this is the boy who would grow up and become the man AndrAIa falls in love with.
He doesn't understand.
Staring back at him, "Lil" Enzo doesn't understand either. Doesn't understand Gun in Ray's hand, doesn't understand Matrix's body at his feet, doesn't understand what it would take to get a girl's attention, even.
Doesn't understand that, in a Game called Russian Roulette, only one of them's going to make it back. And Mouse'd said the Games were a riot.
Right. He's laughing his brains out right now, as he stops staring the kid down over the muzzle of Gun, swings his hand around to feel metal against his scalp. It's a long time from when he pulls the trigger to when the sound of it reaches his ear.
Prompt: Crack Fic
Character: Dot Matrix
"You know what I hate?"
AndrAIa didn't like the sound of that question, especially after- ah, Firewall Breach! How many of these drinks had they had?
"What d'ya hate, sugah?"
Dot looked up at them, eyes a little red. Okay, however many they'd had, it was definitely one too many.
"Men," Dot ground out, sliding her head onto her crossed arms on the table. "I need another," she added.
"Ha, Men, Sugah? Even-"
"Yes. MEN. I got me a dad who blew up half the town, taking every Sprite but me and my kid brother with it. Suddenly, I'm Miss Mom and not even out of school. THEN that same brother has the gall to like some sloppy, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants dude with weird hair- and by the way, will weird hair dude even give me the time of day? No-o! And what was he waiting for? What other dating prospects was he looking at? I was the only female Sprite in the city! Am I so ugly-
"Yer not ugly, Sugah" Mouse managed to slip in, when Dot paused for breath.
"I KNOW I'm not! Look at my rack! I'm just as stacked as AndrAIa…probably not as much as you though, Mouse."
"No," Mouse agreed. "Probably not."
Okay, AndrAIa thought, with a giggle. What kind of conversations had these two had while she and Matrix were gone? But before she could ask, the tirade continued.
"And then Mr. I-know-everything-I'm-a-guardian can't even do his job right and tears out my heart by making me think he's dead- and what does the city do? Proceed to give my baby brother the guardian position and then They whined about it. For goodness sakes! I didn't want him risking his life as a pint-zied hero! I was still their command.com! I wasn't about to go off on vacation or anything. They coulda showed me some trust! But nooooo- and then my brother has to give me a heart attack too, noTWICE!- by dying and then coming back from the dead acting like a psycho killer- no offense AndrAIa, just you know, that lug needs to work on his first impression skills-"
"Don't I know it,"AndrAIa muttered, rolling her eyes at how even her lover's sister thought Matrix was too hardcore.
"And my city is nearly destroyed by yet another man, Mr. MEGA-byte-my-name-is-Mega-because-I'm-compenstating. MEN!"
"You sayin' you wanna a little sugah, Sugah? I can always do a one night stand, if you want," Mouse asked, her chest, AndrAIa noticed, pushed out. So that was what they'd talked about while she and Matrix were gone.
"And through all that," Dot continued, having seemingly not heard Mouse. "Do I still even know where I stand with Bob? One peck and then- nothing. No "Let's go on a Date, Dot!" no "You're amazing, Dot!" I. Need. Closure!"
And then, she passed out against the bar. Mouse and Dot stared over her head at one another and burst out laughing.
Characters: Dot and "Little" Enzo
Miracle of miracles, the system reboots and Dot knows she will never see the like again. Block by block, byte by byte the city reforms, and, beyond Mainframe, Lost Angles' towers shoot up out of the ground. She does not remember running, but she must have because here she is climbing the steps to the hall where her father's experiment had gone so horribly wrong so long ago, and there he is: Father, alive again, and-
Bob who is beside her, somehow (had he been running behind, a small part of her wonders), grabs her shoulder, asks, "Is that…"
The question stays unfinished, because she is laughing, and maybe crying. Her brother, so young he doesn't even recognize Bob, is standing by Father. Behind her, AndrAIa is crying too. Dot's brother is alive again, but AndrAIa's lover might as well still be dead by the the hand of the virus he'd hated. She turns to say something to other woman, but another voice interrupts, "Hey, Sweetheart! Enzo and I were getting worried you'd be late! Ready to help me give my talk?"
"You were worried about me" she chokes out. You were dead! You both were! I was the one who had to worry! she tries to say, but her throat is too tight. Instead, her feet are propelling her forward without her thinking again, and she takes them both in a tight embrace.