Summary:When the game ended, AndrAIa escaped to be with Enzo…or did she? A lonely game sprite muses on what might have been.
Disclaimer, notes, & whatever:Everybody chant it with me…I don't own it, Mainframe does. I don't own it, Mainframe does. We all clear on that? "Captain Nemo" is from Sarah Brightman's album, Dive. It's a good album. Check it out!
Big "thank-yous" and virtual hugs go to my proofreaders, Morning Cereal, Norcumi, Haru, Wrin, and Charisma. You guys are amazing and I simply could not do this without your help, support, encouragement, and criticism. Thank you!
This fic is dedicated to Charisma, because she thought it sounded like a cool idea.
Feedback and distribution:Please…show me the writer who doesn't want feedback! Good or bad, you can send it all to firstname.lastname@example.org. A crushing college schedule and pesky real life takes up a lot of my time, but I'll even try to get a reply back to you! If I don't though, rest assured, your comments are still much appreciated.
I'm not sure why you'd want to put this on your site, but if you do, as long as my name stays attached and you send me a URL so I can go visit my baby, feel free to post it!
And here I will quit babbling and let you read this thing. Have fun!
Under the surface so crystal clear,
Everyone was really tense
Waiting down there.
He had his own world, just like I had mine.
We'll go separate ways 'til the next time.
She watched the water pouring into the tiny submarine and knew that she and the craft wouldn't last much longer. She swallowed, fear tightening her chest. She hoped her plan would work. There would be no way of knowing once the game ended.
Turning her back on the pooling liquid, she watched as a single, small speck shot towards the softly gleaming pile of gold in the distance. Unshed tears burned in her eyes. She pressed her hands to the glass, wishing she could have found the words to tell him everything she was feeling.
There are no words to say,
As my friend swims away.
Captain Nemo said, "Okay".
(Five, four, three, two, one…)
Then I raised my hand and waved.
Captain Nemo went away.
(Love me when I'm gone…)
Left me all alone, Nemo's going home…
The water lapped around her knees and continued to rise. The tightness in her chest moved to her throat. A lump of sadness lodged there as she gasped out the only thing she could think to say.
"Goodbye, my friend."
Reality re-formed around her, much like waking from a deep sleep. She didn't know how long she had been out this time. For her, the game had ended when the User got off a lucky shot in her direction, instantly taking her out. Mentally, she cursed the momentary inattention to her surroundings that had given the User the chance to delete her. She was never supposed to let her attention waver for a moment! Not even to think about…him.
Unbidden, a tiny smile crossed her lips, as she remembered the odd little system sprite that had come into her game. Her first reaction on waking up to find a stranger bending over her had been to attack, of course. It was in her programming to destroy anything that stood between her and the User.
But Enzo threw her completely off-guard with his bubbly chatter and instant friendliness. He was concerned about her? No one had ever worried about her before. Game sprites didn't tend to form close bonds. She'd been on her own for as long as she'd been aware, not knowing what friends and family were, and consequently not missing them.
"Oomph!" She was abruptly torn from her musings by a large object crashing into her, knocking her back a few yards. She looked up to see one of the sharks giving her a surprised glare, as though asking why she was floating there like an idiot instead of hunting for the User.
She shook her head and swam off, checking that her crossbow was loaded. She needed a good vantage point from which she could watch for the User. She soon found a likely looking reef and settled down to wait.
She wondered if any system sprites had entered the game this time. She'd allied with a few others after meeting Enzo, realizing what a help it was to work with them. She hadn't met another one quite like him, though. They had all been more focused on finding and defeating the User rather than on stopping to chat. She couldn't really blame them. After all, win or lose, she would come back. She hadn't realized that system sprites didn't have that option until Enzo had told her about nulls.
She looked up, seeing something moving from the corner of her eye. A small, fish-shaped submarine approached her hiding place. She gasped, her heart giving a sudden, painful lurch. Could it be-? She swam close enough to look in the window. No. Whoever this sprite was, he was a good bit older than her friend had been.
He looked up, catching a glimpse of her and yelped, his blue eyes going wide. She grinned and waved at him, laughing as he returned the gesture with a confused look on his face. Then she dropped back to tail him and keep an eye out for the User.
Would it ever be Enzo in the submarine again? She'd often wondered what he was doing since he'd left her game. She didn't even know how old he would be. Time didn't really exist in the games. You were either playing, or you weren't. Had the back-up copy she'd attached to his icon worked? She hoped so. It'd be nice to think that she was still with him in some form and sharing in the adventures he'd told her about. The life of Guardian certainly did seem more exciting than her own.
A burst of gunfire caught her attention. She looked up to see the fish-submarine firing on another that resembled a gigantic shark. She swore and swam towards the battle. How did she expect to do her job if she didn't pay attention?
The fish-sub got a good hit on the User's craft. It began to flicker around the edges, finally sinking to the ocean floor and vanishing. She got close enough to see the sprite's look of triumph rapidly transform into horrified shock as the User's submarine reappeared and moved away.
She shook her head. Multiple lives…which idiot came up with that idea, anyhow? She began to swim faster, gesturing urgently to the sprite to follow. The User was very close to the treasure. There wasn't any time to waste.
Now the reef closed in on all sides, leaving only a narrow passageway for the User to move through. It slowed him up, true, but it also impeded their progress. She dropped back to the window of the fish-submarine and gestured that she would swim ahead. The sprite responded with a nod and a thumbs-up. Apparently he was getting used to this odd little ally. She grinned back and took off with all speed.
The User wouldn't be too far ahead…there! She caught sight of him trying to get his larger craft through a bottleneck in the reef and swam over, wondering what she could do to delay him until the other sprite got there. Looking down at her wrist-crossbow, she frowned. It wasn't big enough to do much damage, but maybe she could keep him distracted for just long enough…it was worth a try, anyway.
She started shooting at the windows of the submarine, very obviously attacking the User so that he would stop trying to batter his way through the reef and concentrate on her instead. It worked. The shark-sub turned away from the reef and started firing at her. She dodged the oncoming missiles and ducked behind a handy overhang, getting off another quick shot at the User. Her small size and quick speed worked to her advantage. The User couldn't target her easily, and in the meantime, he was giving the system sprite time to catch up to them.
She misjudged on one pass, swimming away just a touch too slowly, and was cornered by the User in a small stone alcove. She gulped, seeing the huge guns aimed her way, and closed her eyes, waiting for the end. But, it never came.
There was a blinding flash and a loud boom. She opened her eyes to see the shark-submarine pushed away by a shot to its side from the system sprite's craft. She cheered, watching the sprite get another damaging shot in before the User's craft flickered, sank to the bottom and disappeared. This time, it didn't come back.
The system sprite raised both his hands over his head and let out an exuberant cheer. He grinned, waved at her, and mouthed the words, "Thank you."
She waved back as the system's voice announced, "GAME OVER."
The ocean around her turned into a swirling purple mist. She stood and waited to be taken away with the game, a huge smile across her face.
And that one was for you, my friend, she thought in satisfaction, Good luck, wherever you are. And perhaps I will see you again someday.