Categories > Cartoons > ReBoot

Chosen Paths

by Morrigan 3 reviews

"She loved him. But that didn't stop her from wanting to shove her trident through his thick skull sometimes." AndrAIa does the introspection thing while sitting around in a one of those hundreds o...

Category: ReBoot - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst - Characters: AndrAIa - Published: 2005-04-23 - Updated: 2005-04-24 - 2163 words - Complete

Disclaimer: Fishy-girl and Gun-boy belong to Mainframe and I'm glad they thought of them. Don't sue me, mighty Mainframe people. It would bring you nothing but lint.

Important Author's Notes: This was my first introspective story and it was born out of my frustration of AndrAIa usually either being written as Matrix's little sidekick or She Who Never Doubts And Does No Wrong. I wanted to write AndrAIa as I've always seen her, an intelligent, compassionate woman who has moments of what I like to call brain fluff just like everyone else. I think I did all right. Judge for yourself.

She loved him.

But that didn't stop her from wanting to shove her trident through his thick skull sometimes.

AndrAIa glared down at Matrix and employed all her powers of self-control to keep from letting out a scream of frustration. If she screamed he would wake up and if he woke up she'd have to use her nails on him again. The stubborn sprite couldn't get it into his head that moving around with three broken ribs would be a bad thing. Ribs he had broken, incidentally, while trying to protect her from another game sprite. Him protect her? Now that was a laugh. She was the ultimate survivor. And hadn't she protected him all those hours ago before he had learned how to defend himself? In any case, if he woke up, he would be bound and determined to get himself into more trouble.

Have to stop the User, he would say. FAQ the User.

The young woman sighed and leaned back against one of the many massive oak trees dotting the game terrain. Did she really mean that? Could she really just sit back and let the User win?

In a nano. Back in her home game she had beaten the User enough times to last her the rest of her life. AndrAIa smiled wistfully. She hadn't thought about her game in hours. There hadn't been much of a chance to. Matrix didn't mind if she talked about her home but he had only been there for a few milliseconds. All he remembered when she mentioned home was Mainframe.

Mainframe. AndrAIa shifted slightly. She wondered if it was selfish of her to hate it sometimes. It wasn't that she hadn't liked living there, and she knew how much he missed it at the rare times when he would talk about it without mentioning Megabyte. And the people had been very kind to her there. Dot had been pleasant and very smart, if not a bit distant at times. AndrAIa still considered Mouse to be an incredible sprite, clever and caring and able to do just about anything in the eyes of an adolescent would-be hacker. Phong had been funny even if he was confusing most of the time. AndrAIa appreciated his wisdom more now than she had then. And Bob, well, Bob had been a nice enough guy when he had been around. Which hadn't been long at all now that AndrAIa thought about it. But he had been in possession of some glowing attribute she could never quite put her finger on. All she knew was that it made him as much a born hero as she was a game sprite.

The bad part was that none of it mattered anymore. Bob was probably dead in the Web and the rest had more than likely fallen under the infection of Megabyte. It had been eight hours since they had last seen any of them and although she would never tell him, her greatest fear was that they would find his system and only see its burned remains. Then Enzo wouldn't have a home. And he would be lost again. She didn't think she could take that. So at times AndrAIa couldn't help but hate the idyllic memory of Mainframe she tried to believe in for Enzo's sake.

But she didn't want to think about Mainframe. She had been thinking of her game. It was funny; she had been in that game ever since she could remember and yet at times she was hard-pressed to think of its name. She was pretty sure it had been called Lost Atlantis but there might have been more to it than that. The actual place itself had been called Atlantis; she knew that, in the same way she knew what her nails did, what a mermaid was, how to pilot a submarine, and many other gaming bits of trivia. It was an inborn knowledge she'd never thought to question while she'd been in there and now only thought about when she couldn't remember whether mermaids had been the ones with the tentacles or the tail. She was becoming more a data sprite than a game sprite and she still spent more time in games. AndrAIa would have laughed at the irony but it wasn't really all that funny. She liked data sprites in any case. She should. Enzo had been one.

But Enzo wasn't really a data sprite anymore, was he? She wasn't a game sprite; he wasn't a data sprite. What were they? Two people whom were not really kids anymore trying to find a place that probably no longer existed using games nobody would go into. AndrAIa did laugh at this. They made such an odd pair.

Matrix shifted a bit at her laughter and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like her name under his breath. AndrAIa fell silent and looked down at him speculatively. What in the Net was she going to do with him?

She didn't just mean now, even though trying to get him to be a good, little renegade while he healed would be a pain in the ASCII. She meant what was she going to do with Enzo now that he was acting more like Matrix?

Enzo was sweet, considerate, and more than a bit hyperactive. Matrix was sullen, temperamental, and determined to do things his own way. She had been dealing with Matrix a lot more lately. She didn't really know when Enzo had started his slow change to Matrix. At first she had been relieved that the depressed, broken boy that she'd lived with for an hour in The Game (it would always be capitalized in her mind) had decided to take charge again, and she could admit that she hadn't complained when he'd stopped doing things the time-consuming guardian way.

The problem was that he hadn't stopped there. He'd continued to bury Enzo into himself until there was very little left of the sprite she'd gotten her first crush on. He would try to push her away until the only thing that kept her from leaving completely were those fleeting moments when she saw her Enzo in him.

She really did love Enzo. It wasn't something she questioned. Life had set it up so her world would crash into his, changing them both completely. Back in her game she'd been an efficient little killer, able to adapt while never allowed to change. She'd played through the same spammed scenario countless times, deleting the User and being deleted in turn. Everything had always stayed the same but she'd never thought to want more. Being a game sprite meant you adapted to your situation and didn't question it. Then Enzo had done the unthinkable by changing the rules of the game mid-play and risking his life to save hers. She'd been shocked and properly disoriented at his chivalry. Even so her seek-and-destroy programming had demanded only one thing. Nails extended, she'd planned to rid herself of this green obstacle standing in the way of her and the Enemy. Then he threw her for a loop again by asking her a question.

No one had ever expressed any interest in her before. Since she was the only AI game sprite in the game the others avoided her like a virus. They knew better than to get in the way of someone who learned from her mistakes and more importantly, remembered she'd made them. Nobody had told Enzo that. This strange creature was asking her a question and actually seemed excited about the answer. She'd been both flustered and flattered. Without thinking she'd answered his question and promptly forgot about killing him. From there it had been a small step to falling in love with him.

She wasn't sure exactly how it had happened. One minute she had been laughing at one of his stories, the next she'd developed a bad case of puppy love, just like a schoolgirl might get on her teacher. Deciding to leave with him hadn't even exercised her artificial intelligence. So the student followed the teacher.

And like any lovesick student she hadn't thought about the possibility of her teacher failing. She'd been young and naive; foolishly thinking her "Guardian" could do anything. Even after Bob had been cast out into the Web, even after Mainframe life began to mirror game life, she'd believed in him completely. It had never occurred to her that he could lose a game, not Enzo, not with her by his side. When he did the only thing more lasting then her loss of naiveté was her guilt.

Oh yes, her guilt. AndrAIa fingered her game sprite icon gently. Unconsciously her eyes fell on Matrix's own icon, still in data sprite mode. Quickly she switched it over and then leaned back, biting her lip.

She supposed it was strange to blame herself for being the reason he wasn't dead. If it hadn't been for her code, Enzo would have just died in The Game and not been forced to die countless times after, over and over again by the User.

It had warped him. He had made a complete turn from the trusting, optimistic sprite he had been before. Each death and each loss seemed to reinforce his idea that he was a failure. She had taken his place as the optimistic one just to keep from crashing completely. Surprisingly enough she found she fit it well. Soon they switched roles and she became the teacher of sorts, helping him through the rough patches of gaming life. He grew to depend on her and she found herself flourishing under the feeling of being useful, even as she watched him change to fit a survivor's way of life. He needed her and she'd been happy because nobody had ever needed her before. That made her feel guilty too. It was silly, but as she'd learned after years of being outside of her game, the real world was filled with silly emotions and strange circumstances.

She had thought he was getting better after they had went that one extra step and told each other what they had known all along. For a while they had been more or less content and she had congratulated herself on figuring out how to help him.

Except now he was getting a little too protective of her. She appreciated the sentiment and she understood it, but she wasn't going to sit back and let him put her on a pedestal where she would be safe all the time. They were partners. Partners were supposed to work together. She could deal with the moodiness, she could trick him out of the temper tantrums, and she could understand the violence. But she'd be a null before she'd let him try and do everything by himself.

AndrAIa glared down at him, not liking the uncharacteristically dark introspective mood he had put her in.

"Stubborn sprite," she muttered, crossing her legs. He'd better be all right.


AndrAIa's head jerked up at the familiar words and she winced. Thank the Net she had changed Frisket's icon before the dog had decided to go dinosaur hunting. Her eyes widened as Matrix moved at the sound of the voice and she bent down beside him, her nails already extending. He opened his eyes slowly, the cybernetic one centering on her first. She shivered. Sometimes that still gave her the jaggies.

"An...AndrAIa?" he murmured groggily, moving more.

"Shhhh. Stay down." AndrAIa put her hand on his shoulder as a comforting gesture, her nails inconspicuously getting ready for use if it came to that.

"Was that...the game?" he asked, his voice uncharacteristically uncertain. "Did you...did it?"

"Yes," she lied easily without a bit of guilt and smiled warmly at him. "I told you I didn't need any help."

"Sorry...thanks, DrAI," he said, relaxing. He closed his eyes and she breathed a sigh of relief.

"Anytime, lover," AndrAIa whispered as she retracted her nails and sat back.


"Yes?" AndrAIa sighed and leaned back over him.

"Love you," Enzo said, almost smiling, and fell asleep.

"I love you too." AndrAIa chuckled softly and kissed him on the forehead. "Stubborn sprite. What would I do without you to drive me crazy?"

She knew she loved him. She'd figure out exactly why later.

The End
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