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Chapter One-Big Day


Dot Matrix had never been one for sappy goodbyes. True, she could be
a little weepy at times and her nostalgic attitude always seemed to get
in the way when she was trying to move on from one thing to another.
In her mind, life was perfectly planned and she could set a date for
every moment of it, even the big changes. For example, this day was a
giant change for her. It was graduation. After this, she would never
again have to set foot at the Mainframe Upgrade School. It was located in
the twin city, which was always an inconvenience for her since she
lived across the bridge with her Dad and little brother. No one at school
understood why they chose that side of Mainframe, which was mostly
inhabited by binomes, not like the twin where a good number of the advanced
sprites lived.

She sat at the table in their apartment looking over several sketches
for the outside of her favorite project since she had been 1.1, a
diner. Her father came into the room and pointed to the drawing where the
apostrophe in the word "Dot's" floated above the rest of the sign.
"I like that one," he told her as he struggled with his ugly brown
tie.
Her little brother bounced into the room and nodded his head. "I like
that one too!"

"I guess that settles it. I've already started building the diner
itself and I think someone was going to delete me if I didn't come up with
a sign soon." Dot glanced up at Welman Matrix as he growled at the tie
and commented, "You don't need it, Dad. Mom always said you looked
better without one anyway."

He took the advice and knotted the tie around his daughter's wrist,
adding to her many bangle bracelets. "I present this um...good luck
charm to Mainframe's youngest business woman and the top of her graduating
class. Enzo, let us make a toast to the smartest girl...oh, forgive
me, I mean young woman in Mainframe."

"If the other kids talked about her the way you do, Dad, she would
have had a date for the graduation dance," Enzo pointed out, "Dot, when
you're rich and powerful and the diner is finished are you going to tell
everyone from school except Artie, Paq, and Sixtyfive that they can't
come in?"

Dot laughed, shaking her head. She knew the other kids didn't exclude
her to be mean or because they didn't like her, they just didn't know
her. She preferred spending her time with other projects than going
circuit racing after the prom. "Enzo, of course not, that's
discrimination."
"What's that?" he eagerly wondered.

A knock on the door interrupted them. There stood two sprites and one
binome. They were Dot's friends, not necessarily her best friends.
She usually was too busy to hang out with them, but they were the three
most patient people at school. They were usually willing to take Dot
with them places when she wanted and had time to go. Dot had never had
any really close friends, but she was happy because she didn't know any
better.

Sixtyfive was a sprite with bright pink skin and short hair that she
spike upward. She was so skinny she was almost invisible. Artie was
the only boy in the group and the only binome. He was a one with brown
hair that he always wore a green hat over. Artie had a habit of lying
when he should tell the truth and telling the truth when he should lie.
Finally, there was the only one of the three Dot felt any real
closeness to. Paq was a girl with one mission in life: to find a way out of
Mainframe. She was always peeking over Dot's dad's shoulder to see if
his work on portals had lead up to her freedom. It wasn't that she
didn't like Mainframe, it was just that she was ready to move on to
someplace new, if such a place existed.
"Hey, Professor Matrix," Artie greeted, "I thought you were going to
meet with the city officials today?"
"I am," he replied nervously.
"Well, shouldn't you be wearing a tie?"
"No," Dot cut in, "My dad is fine the way he is. Are we ready for
graduation?"
"Just waiting on you," Paq said with a smile.
Dot packed her sketches into a data folder and ran to the door. "Bye
Enzo. Bye Dad, good luck. I'll see you both tonight." She waved
before closing the door behind her. Tonight, something big in her life was
going to end.

******************


Bob, Cadet 452, loved his number. He hadn't been at the academy for
as long as some of the others in his class, yet Bob was certain that in
no time the word "cadet" would be changed to "Guardian". His own image
now thrilled him. The blue suit, the yellow and black icon, even the
black boots his buddies from school had given him seemed to be special
now. He was going to mend and defend. Today he started game training.
This was a change he had been looking forward to since was a little
sprite. He couldn't wait. Although, while all the other cadets were
studying read-me files on different strategies and game types. Bob
preferred to wait and take everything as it came. The only plan he had ever
had while compiling was to be a guardian. Growing up in the Super
Computer, that came as no surprise.

He arrived to class on time, surprising his teachers. As everyone was
lined up for role call, one of the superiors, a girl assigned as Bob's
partner in order to keep an eye on him, watched him with almost shock.
"If I didn't know better I'd say you were actually excited about this,"
she commented.

"This is what being a Guardian is all about, isn't it, Dixon?" Bob
whispered, "Protecting people by playing the games."
"Yeah, but you aren't supposed to enjoy the games," Dixon Green
scoffed.

Turbo was there. The Prime Guardian himself wanted to see how the
cadets handled themselves in the games. True, this was only a simulation
program, but it would seem real enough to the inexperienced young
sprites.

"Alright," one of the instructors called out, "Now that we're all
present let's just review some of the minor details. First of all, how to
Reboot..."

Bob felt himself groan. They were starting with things even the most
basic sprite in the net knew about. At this rate, they wouldn't be in
a real game for seconds. He shook his head to stay awake and would try
to be polite by pretending to pay attention.

However, Turbo wasn't fooled. "Is there a problem, Cadet 452?" he
gruffly asked.
"No sir," Bob stumbled, "It's just...we know all this. Shouldn't we
be learning something new before going into the simulation."
"Well, if you'll just be patient, cadet, you may find that this
lecture isn't as pointless as you may think," the instructor defended then
continued his talk.
But Bob didn't want to be patient. Today something big in his life
was going to start and he wanted it to start as soon as possible.


On to chapter 2