a1enzo: Aerial view of the large complex supposed to be the Supercomputer's Principal Office, and surrounding islands. (Supercomputer)
"Vidwindow from Administrator Rijndael, sir."

"Put him through."

The window opens to display not only the Academy Administrator but also a familiar green face. Enzo looks nervous; Rijndael looks like he cannot wait for Turbo to hear this one.

"Sir," say the two in not-quite-unison.

"Rijndael. Cadet Matrix. Do I want to know what this is about?"

"The cadet here has a particularly unusual visitor he wants to bring to our fair system," the Admin deadpans.

"Unusual enough that you need my personal approval?"

"In a nutshell."

Prime Guardian Turbo opens a desk drawer and removes a jar of antialiasing tablets, which he places pointedly on the desktop before looking at Enzo expectantly.

(It's not that he dislikes Enzo. Far from it. He's a good kid, and every bit as promising a Guardian as expected. He is also, however, a harbinger of change, which makes him by definition a walking migraine.)

"Um," Enzo begins. "Like he said. I told my friend... I mean, I didn't promise he could come, but I said I'd ask. He's a great guy. He's one of the ones who helped us fight Daemon."

"Oh?" Turbo thinks back to the vid files of the event. "Which one?"

"The, uh. The big red guy."


A pause which draws out to awkward and beyond.


"The virus."

"Um."

Turbo extracts an antialiasing tablet from the jar and swallows it. Clearly, he's going to need it.
a1enzo: (Default)
Enzo pushes open a door at the end of one of the upstairs hallways. "Welcome to the digimat chamber."

It's a moderately large room, with adequate open floor space around the sides, but the centre is very solidly occupied by a large computer bank covered with the requisite blinkenlights, controls, and several monitors. Connected to this is a laser apparatus mounted on a tripod.

Against one wall is a space to stand, clearly marked out in white, and a waist-high whitewashed pedestal on casters for smaller objects. Out of the way of the targeting area is a full-length mirror.
a1enzo: (Default)
"We're back!" Enzo calls as he enters the garage. He's already dropped Mairi off at home, but Ana must be delivered as well.
a1enzo: (eyeroll)
Enzo brings Val into the Academy through the cafeteria door. Fortunately, they emerge in the hall outside the cafeteria, so they are only greeted by a few early finishers and not the entire student body at dinner.

The cadets in the hall spot them and raise their eyes in trepidation. When whatever they're waiting for doesn't happen, though, they relax and greet the pair.

"Gee, thanks, guys. This is Val, but you'll have to wait for the show for the full introduction."

As he leads her out of the building and across campus, he mutters, "One time a guest's code turns out weird and sets off the autoscan alarms, and everyone thinks it's gonna be a habit."
a1enzo: (Default)
"Okay," says Enzo, leading Mark into the digimat room, "just stand over there in the target area so I can shoot you with this laser."
a1enzo: (Alphanumeric!)
No sooner does Enzo decompress himself from the minivan and bid his family goodbye than he is seized by several of his classmates, with cries of "Our turn!" He waves a frantic farewell as he is hoisted onto the shoulders of the largest upperclasssprites. They all mount zipboards and haul him off to the campus hub, where they continue carrying him on a lap of honour while everyone sings a teasing and slightly obscene birthday song.

The lap complete, Enzo's bearers head for the table which has been set up on the green for the distribution of cake and jelly. Before they reach it, though, they veer aside to the huge central statue of Tron and his companions. Quick as you like, Enzo is deposited on Tron's shoulders, his surfbaud filched from his belt before they fly off. "Better get down before all the cake's gone!" someone shouts merrily.

Ah, tradition.
a1enzo: (Default)
As soon as classes let out on Enzo's birthday, he goes to loiter near the Academy gates. He chats with his fellow cadets and accepts their well-wishes, but his eyes are on the sky, and he grins when he sees Dot's minivan coming in for a landing.
a1enzo: (surprise)
As Enzo is about to return to the Academy from his shadow process, DOStin clears his throat. "Good job in that Game, cadet."

"Thanks," says Enzo, slightly surprised at an outright compliment.

"Your birthday's before our next session, right?" The words come out awkwardly; DOStin doesn't usually go in for personal talk, let alone initiate it. He actually seems to be making an effort.

"Uh-huh."

"Here, then." He produces a small package. As Enzo stares at it, he adds, even more awkwardly, "It's not much..."

"Hey, no, that's fine," Enzo assures him. And it totally is, seeing as how he hadn't expected a present from DOStin at all. He takes the box and opens it.

The object inside is, in appearance, a pair of brass-rimmed pince-nez with a slight golden sheen to the lenses. Enzo's stare takes on a new quality. "A spell check utility?"

"And grammar." Beat. "To help with all your... extra reports."

"Oh. Well... thanks. I'm sure it'll be... helpful."
a1enzo: (anxious)
Shadowing DOStin for the first time is... beyond awkward.

He isn't vindictive. He doesn't try to exact revenge for Enzo's past pranks, or actively make his life miserable. That would not be professional. And DOStin is always professional.

But he barely looks at Enzo. There is absolutely zero small talk, and not much large talk, either; he barks occasional orders, and that's it. Enzo follows him from site to site. They mend a few Tears. At one point they assist in taking down a couple of malbots, which is pretty exciting, but as soon as the fight's over, DOStin marches Enzo straight off to the next job and totally kills the rush.

Multiple times throughout the morning, Enzo starts to lose his temper, but manages to cut it off so that all that escapes is a brief strangled noise. Even this doesn't get a reaction.

Finally, they stop for lunch. (This, at least, is much better than the Academy cafeteria, and almost everywhere offers discounts for 'our sprites in cyan.') Enzo toys with his taco, picking individual tiny primitives out of the filling, and forces himself to speak up. "DOStin?"

DOStin looks at him, a bit coldly.

"Sir?" Enzo corrects himself.

"Cadet?"

"I, um... I just wanted to say sorry for... you know, all the pranks and trolling and stuff while you were moderator."

Silence.

Then DOStin nods, once, his face impossible to read.

"That's... that's all."

He nods again. Enzo isn't sure if that's an acceptance of his apology or what.

"So..."

Pwing! "Guardian deQueue, Cadet Matrix, buffer overflow in Sector 1101," says the dispatcher on the vidwindow.

"Um." Enzo holds up his taco. "Can we..."

DOStin cuts him off. "We'll eat on the way."

The dispatcher smirks. "You might not want a full stomach when you get there."

The two Guardians, for once in accord, wince.
a1enzo: (annoyed)
At the end of the first minute of the new term, an excited Enzo and his classmates have an assembly in Tron Hall. Administrator Rijndael is there, with a bunch of full-fledged Guardians, of various ages but all looking extremely competent.

"I'll make this quick," says the Admin. "Since you're now in the last quarter of your training, you'll each be shadowing a full Guardian in the course of their duties. This will include accompanying them into Games, in light of the decreased risk factor." Most of the cadets, and some of the older Guardians, glance at Enzo as the representative of the system the new developments came out of.

"You'll start out with them two seconds a minute, more frequently later. You will be taking a participatory role in most duties. Your partner will fill you in on the details and exceptions. Any questions?" There are none, though undoubtedly many will be thought of later.

"All right. When I call your names, you go meet your partner, get to know each other. Alvey, you're shadowing Ina Jo. Caret, you're with Cache. Condela, you're with Lex..."

Enzo looks along the line of Guardians and gets a sinking feeling as he spots a familiar kelly green face where his own name ought to fall in alphabetical order. He is noticed in return; a look passes between them that ought to be portrayed in anime split-screen, before their names are even read off.

"Enzo, you're with DOStin."
a1enzo: (Default)
pwing!

"Hey, Sis? You busy?"

Happily, while Enzo does have something on his mind, it's clearly not the same sort of call as last time he needed to confer.
a1enzo: (blank)
Enzo goes through his school day like a sleepwalker. He attends classes, but doesn't absorb anything that's said. Twice, his teachers ask—concerned, not angry—if he wouldn't rather leave, take another cycle off. He just shrugs.

In combat training, on the other hand, he performs so well that Professor Toshiba orders him to stop sparring and fight the practice dummies instead, for the safety of the other students.

After classes, his feet carry him down into the tunnels automatically, rather than out of any real hope. The door opens onto a fan room, as it does for everyone else.

He doesn't even have left enough capacity for disappointment to sigh. He just returns the way he came, and heads for the cafeteria for dinner.



And freezes halfway through the door.



pwing!

"Val! Tyler! Try all the doors! It's still there!"

pwing!

slam
a1enzo: (sad)
Enzo stumbles through the gateway and into his father's lab, followed closely by Val and the still-struggling Tyler. He's not as badly off now he's back in his own world, but he's still flickering unhealthily.
a1enzo: (serious)
Enzo comes stomping grimly into his dorm room and marches straight over to the window that is his storage locker. "Something's wrong in Milliways," he announces. "In a few nanos I'm going to have been there for a while, so I might need reminding what the homework is." Caret nods solemnly.

"Wrong?" asks the wide-eyed Quincy. "What do you mean, wrong? Like a system error? Or a... what did you call them? Natural disasters."

"Don't know. There's been accidents and explosions and I don't know what else, and the sky's turned red. User skies don't do that." He hangs his wooden practice sword from his belt, replaces one bracer with his grappling gauntlet, dumps a bunch of snack food into a carrier bag. Checks his stunner and forcefield unit. Considers for a moment, then straps his guitar onto his back.

"Now I need some quiet," he says, and opens an intersystem vidwindow.
a1enzo: (Alphanumeric!)
Enzo bursts into his dorm room. "Guys! Guys! Holy spam you are not gonna believe this oh man..."

Quincy jumps in his seat. Amy looks up from her drawing with an arched brow. "You and Dani got married?"

"No, I... what? No. No, I met a new sprite! In Milliways! A new one! I said that. And she's not from around here! I mean she's not from the 'Net! She might not be from our 'verse at all, I don't know, but she's from an offline system, it's called the Grid, and it's not like the 'Net and Kevin Flynn built it and Tron lives there!"

"What?" cries Joseph, jumping up from his chair; Amy tugs him back down again. Quincy squeaks.

Enzo yammers on. "Her name's Quorra and she's crazy high-res, she looks almost human, but I don't know if that means anything because Flynn made the Grid for program development, not for using, so maybe that's just what it's like there, and Tron might be a copy or maybe not, she said he likes to be mysterious so there's kind of no way to tell right now but he's there and she said she might be able to get me his sig and... and..."

"Enzo, breathe," commands Caret.

"I'm... heeeee... I'm okay."
a1enzo: (Dani)
Unlike during her previous visits, today Enzo leads Dani proudly and openly along the tunnels, with no skulking or invisibility involved. They pass several maintenance staff along the way; Enzo greets them cheerfully and puts a finger to his lips. The binomes nod; no spoiling the Grand Entrance, even if most of the kids know how it goes by now.

"You're his young lady, aren't you?" one asks. "The one who downloaded the movie file?"
a1enzo: Aerial view of the large complex supposed to be the Supercomputer's Principal Office, and surrounding islands. (Supercomputer)
Quincy files with the other first-termers into a classroom in Dumont Hall. Many of them keep glancing at their schedules, but the words don't change: Seminar – User Studies. What's that supposed to mean?

There are no teachers in the room when they arrive, no adults at all. The oldest sprite present is a cadet Quincy recognizes as his new roommate, Enzo. Perhaps he's TAing.

But when the bell rings for start of period, Enzo steps up to the podium, looking like he's trying not to look nervous. "Um. Hi. I hope you all had a good first cycle of classes. My name's Enzo Matrix." The younger kids' reactions range from murmurs to stifled shrieks. "Yeah, I know, Daemon. But that's not why I'm here.

"Since you're new, I need to download you some important information. But before I start, you all know what classified means?" There is a chorus in the affirmative. "It means you don't even tell your families about this, got it? Unless the Prime Guardian decides different, this stays with the Guardians. And teachers. And staff are okay, too. You know what I mean."

(Secrets are secrets, but you can't share one among an entire organization and still hide it from the janitors.)

"Okay. So. For the past few hours, since Daemon's infection, I've been accessing a really weird place. It's called Milliways..."
a1enzo: Aerial view of the large complex supposed to be the Supercomputer's Principal Office, and surrounding islands. (Supercomputer)
A grey-skinned boy pokes his head nervously through the door of room [d,5]. "Um. Hi?"

The room's four occupants look up from their time-killing activities; they've been waiting for him. "Hey," says the big green one, setting aside his comic byte. "You're our new roommate?"

"I... I guess so." He pushes the rest of the way into the room and they look him over: fairly small, a hint of lilac to his grey, with large eyes and short, smooth white hair. He looks at a small text file in his hand before staring at the green kid. "Are you really... from Mainframe, with Daemon..."

"I'm Enzo Matrix, yeah. But honestly, I'm nothing that special around here." There's a mad bout of snickering from a peach-skinned boy messing with a chemistry set and a red girl who appears to have been sketching his equipment. "Log off, you two. That's Joseph, and this is Caret."

"Who's she?" He's pretty sure the rooms are single-sex...

"Oh, that's Amy. We can't get rid of her."

Amy rolls her eyes. "I'm just here to keep him from blowing up the room."

"Oh. Uh... good. Thanks."

Serenely, she adds, "I also bring embarrassing childhood stories for your amusement."

"You do and I'll tell him about..."

Amy moves almost too fast to see and claps a hand over Joseph's mouth. "We both agreed never to speak of that again."

The orange boy identified as Caret, meanwhile, has been studying the newcomer intently. "He doesn't seem random."

"Well, he's new," says Enzo. "Give him time."

"Buh?"

"Never mind. Inside joke."

"Oh... okay..."

"So what's your name?"

The new boy's face falls. "I'm... uh..."

"Quincy!" calls a woman's voice from the hall. "Quincy Quine, where have you gone?"

Quincy cringes.
a1enzo: (Default)
"Right, just stand there in the target area in front of the giant laser."
a1enzo: (Default)
Enzo unlocks one of the upstairs doors and gestures Claudia inside. "Here it is. The digimat."
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