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Chapter Two-Challenges


"After today, the world will never be the same. We may go on to own
businesses and raise families or maybe even become Command.Com someday."
Dot paused her speech so the audience could chuckle at the thought. No
one could remember when there had been a different Comman.Com than the
one that was in the Principal Office at that minute. It didn't help
that no one ever saw him either. Dot continued, after glancing in the
audience at her dad and Phong for support, "From this moment on, we
decide the sprites we are going to be, good, bad, and indifferent. I know
we all have the capability to be anything. But no matter what, we can
look back at this and proudly say we survived. Congratulations, fellow
classmates!"

They all cheered and Dot stepped away from the podium, smiling
confidently as she switched the tassel on her cap from one side to the other.
The other sprite threw their caps in the air and waited to catch them
all as they came back down. No one noticed one of the teachers stop Dot
on her way back to her seat.

It was Mr. Quick, the dreaded science professor. "Ms. Matrix, I do
believe your speech was a success," he told her coldly.
"Thank you," she told him politely and kept walking.
Mr. Quick continued, forcing her to pause to listen, "However, I do
believe that you were asked by the school bored not to make jokes at this
solemn occasion." He eyed her multicolored hair disapprovingly.
"I think you're mistaken. I know you told me that they wanted to keep
it serious this year, but I double checked and they encouraged the
jokes. Anything to keep the students awake, they said." She smiled smugly
and finished the walk back to her seat. When she was there, the smile
faded and she began to grumble. "I really don't like him."
"That's okay, I don't think he likes you either," Paq replied
jokingly, "Face it, every since your dad won that science award, Mr. Quick has
been making your life miserable."

The whole class began to file out of the stadium, a large crowd ready
to find their families and friends with plans of celebration. Dot let
out a sigh of relief. "At least now I'll never have to put up with him
again."

Paq ran over to join the giant group of kids to start making plans for
what they were going to do to celebrate. Enzo raced to his sisters
arms and Welman Matrix hugged his daughter.

"I'll see you at home. I have to go have a talk with some of the
other professors," he explained as he congratulated her again.
"Okay Dad," Dot replied, still holding Ezno as they approached the
group of students.

They couldn't see her coming and talked loudly over the noise of the
crowd. Ana Crom, a zero binome, wrinkled her nose and commented, "Dot
Matrix isn't coming with us, is she?"
Artie shrugged, "She could use some fun."
Palo Smith scoffed, "Little miss perfect, yeah right. I dated her for
a time, remember. She doesn't do fun."
Paq spoke up, "C'mon, she isn't that bad. Dot tends to be a little
too busy sometimes, but she's a nice sprite."
"I don't care if she's the greatest Samaritan of both cities," another
boy gruffly opinionated, "She thinks she's the User and we're just
basic as basic can be."

Enzo was about to yell in protest, but Dot shushed him. She had two
options at that moment. She could go home and cry over the way they
treated her or...
"So, where are we going tonight?" she asked cheerfully as she wedged
her way into their circle, "Circuit racing? What about the data slide?
I hear it's open all night."
"You want to come with us?!" Sixtyfive asked with her mouth in a
perfect "o" shape.
"Dot, don't you have plans for your diner to work on?" Paq was also
astonished.
"It can wait. Besides, this is our graduation. I want to spend it
with the people I've compiled up with." She set Enzo down. "You better
go find Dad and have him take you home."
"But Sis," the toddler whined, "Why do you want to go with these
basic, low..."
"Enzo! Go home!" she firmly told him, then smiled at the group hoping
they wouldn't catch on that she had heard what they had said.

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

"Cadets, I wish you luck on your first game," Turbo stated, "Now I
realize this is just a simulation, but I want you to treat it as if it
were a real game."

His speech was interrupted by a deep voice. "Warning, incoming game.
Warning, incoming game."
Bob's roommate whistled. "Wow, this simulation technology is really
good. That sounds just like the real warning."
"Carden, that was the real warning," Bob told him glancing out the
window to see the sky turn dark, "There's a game landing."
Turbo and the other instructors all read their keytools and grew
worried faces. "It's landing right over us," Dixon stated.
The youngest of the teachers swallowed hard. "We have to evacuate the
students."

"No time," Turbo said, "Listen cadets, the simulation is going to be
postponed. In the meantime, you will experience some real life
training. Now stay close to the Guardians and watch us for directions."
The purple cube landed and everyone took in the surroundings. It was
a desolate battle field. Dixon read the game stats from Glitch. "It's
a war game. We have to release the prisoners from the fort before the
User can delete us. We win by taking over the fort."
"That sounds easy enough," Bob commented.
"Let's reboot and split into teams," Turbo ordered. Everyone double
clicked their icons and changed into army camo. Bob and Carden were put
under the prime Guardian's direction while their classmates were
divided amongst the teachers.

Turbo and the two cadets crouched in a trench and glanced up at the
stone fort in the distance, the User standing on the wall with a sneer on
his face and a gun his hand. "Alright, there's a tunnel around here
some place," Turbo said, glancing at Copeland.
"Is that it?" Bob said pointing to a hole almost concealed by bushes.
They followed him into the small tunnel, crawling on their stomachs
with the prime Guardian's keytool serving as a flashlight until they
reached the end, meaning Bob's head collided with a rock. Pushing on a
stone over his head, Bob managed to find the way out of the tunnel and
crept into an empty storage room. Turbo climbed out last, ready with his
next orders for them. Before he could talk the three heard Dixon and
several cadets shouting from a nearby room.
"They must have been captured," Turbo sighed, "Cadets, I want you to
free the prisoners while I find the other Guardians. We'll rendezvous
at the control room and take over the fort."

"But sir..." Carden started to argue, "We have no weapons."
"Oh, c'mon buddy," Bob said smiling, "We can improvise. This User
doesn't stand a chance."

Turbo was gone at that point and the two cadets were left to their own
devices. They stalked out of the storeroom careful to be on the
lookout for game sprites. It didn't take long before they were at the
hallway entrance to the prison ward. Glancing inside, they saw that there
were no guards and no alarms systems. "You're right, Bob," Carden said
with new confidence, "This is easy."
"Wait a second, Carden, something isn't right." He reached out his
blue hand to stop his roommate.

However, the sprite paid no attention and strolled into the ward.
Three game sprites dressed in military attire jumped upon him, tied him
up, and threw him in a cell. Then, they turned to Bob. "Oh boy!" the
cadet said and made a dash down the corridor. His enemies followed
closely, shooting at him whenever they could steady their riffles. He ducked
each bullet. "Oh great, they have guns. Where did they get guns!"
He escaped into an open door and slammed it behind him. They pushed
in from the hallway while he tried to use himself as a doorjamb. His
feet skidded across the stones as the three spites opened the door. He
glanced around the room he had entered and noticed the weapons lining
the rooms. Growing a wicked smile, Bob released the door and went to a
corner of the room. The three game sprites fell with their riffles
ready. Then, they saw the cadet with a submachine gun in one hand and a
W-12 Riot shotgun in the other. Their mouths fell open and all three
ran. "Stay frosty," Bob called after them, then to himself said, "I think
I'm going like games,"

On to chapter 3.....