a1enzo: (ENCOM)
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Enzo emerged from the tunnel and blinked, both at the light and his surroundings. He was in cyberspace, that much was certain, but it wasn't the cyberspace he knew. Everything was much lower resolution, the edges of polygons clearly visible. The ambient light didn't come from the sky, like at home, but from high-up beams of energy connecting buildings or running off into the distance, and from glowing traceries outlining almost everything.

For a moment he wondered if he had somehow ended up in a museum, but the way his life tended to go, that was actually the less logical conclusion.

Oh my gosh.

Minus was darting around a little way ahead, looking for his playmate. The bit was nowhere to be seen—or rather, there were quite a lot of bits, but some distance off, bobbing around a group of sprites. And these sprites definitely looked like something out of a museum or a history file, low-poly and gray, with all their colour concentrated into the lines of circuitry running all over their bodies. Unlike the Users' clumsy cinematic attempts to portray them, the circuit-lines were part of the sprites themselves, not just their clothing.

"Minus!" Enzo called, and finally Minus obeyed. "Um. Okay. Um. Message to Dani... you can still do that from here, right?" Minus opened a window and looked expectant, which was probably a yes. "Okay. Um. Message: I think I just went back in time. From Milliways, but my universe, probably. May be able to return the way I came, not tried yet. No need to panic yet, but maybe have Clockwork on speed dial."

At least the tunnel itself hadn't magically disappeared on him. That was something.

The locals had noticed him, whether due to hearing him, a chance look in his direction, or perhaps alerted by a certain bit, he was uncertain. Not that it mattered much. They were approaching for a better look, but hesitantly. They looked frightened. He supposed that was understandable; if everything looked strange to him, he could only imagine the reverse.

"Hey... um..." he called, "this may be a BASIC question, but your tunnel's not supposed to connect with the end of the world, is it?" This, unsurprisingly, did nothing to stop the staring. "Never mind, of course that was BASIC, they're never supposed to, it just doesn't usually... um. Take me to your leader?"

Several of the locals whispered among themselves, reached some kind of conclusion, and one of the younger ones ran off. Had that line actually worked?

A nanosecond or two passed in silence. This was getting awkward. And boring.

"So... would you mind telling me where I am?"

Silence. Apparently they would.

"What's the deal with this tunnel, anyway?"

More silence.

"Read any good files lately?"

One of the sprites snorted at this, but was glared back into silence by another.

Enzo sighed, then brightened slightly and took out his camera. "Would it be okay if I...?"

That broke the silence. Several of the group shrieked, some ducked, some started back, and an authoritative voice behind Enzo barked, "Drop the weapon!"

"Oh, for the love of..." Enzo turned around.

Oh my gosh.

"You see?" the young runner was saying to the newcomer. "It just came out of the data mines! Have you ever seen anything like it?"

"No, I haven't," said the new sprite grimly. "I said drop it, program!" He was imposing, very nearly as tall as Enzo, and held a Frisbee-like object which Enzo recognized as an identity disk.

"I… you… I…" Oh my gosh oh my gosh. "Can I put it down gently?"

"Fine."

Enzo did so, keeping his hands clearly visible. "It's just a camera," he said. "Not a weapon. I wanted to take a screenshot, that's all."

This was ignored. "Is it one of them worms we heard about?" asked one of the data miners.

"Hey! I'm standing right here! Look, if you'll just let me explain—Minus, heel!"

The command came too late. Minus, never terribly good at staying still, had started forward to make friends with the local bits. The imposing sprite, alarmed, flung his disk at the little chat client.

Enzo leapt forward. He got within a couple pixels of Minus, close enough to put the latter within the radius of his forcefield generator, and the disk caromed harmlessly off. It flew back to its owner, but Enzo, operating on automatic now, raised his gauntlet and fired a bolt which exploded into a net, pinning his opponent before he could get off another shot.

Then Enzo's brain caught up with his body.

Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh I can't believe I just DID that...

"I'm sorry!" he blurted. He grabbed for the frightened Minus and held him close. "Frag frag frag I am so sorry I did not want to do that I swear I'm not going to hurt anyone and I'll try to explain if you'll give me a chance but you do not hurt Minus, okay? Not even you, sir. I'm sorry."

The stunned silence was broken by a female voice saying, "Well, somebody had better explain. I swear to LoraB, Tron, I can't leave you alone for two nanoseconds, can I?"
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Enzo Matrix

September 2016

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