[Note: I do not own the Powerpuff Girls or the Matrix. I just thought I'd put this disclaimer on here for once, since this is a crossover fic, and two licenses are trickier than one…]

Checkmatrix

By: Mark J. Hadley

* * *

CHAPTER 1 – "REBIRTH"

"The city of Townsville. These are the coordinates."

"Yes. Ah, there they are. Look at them…incredible…they have such ability."

"I know. That's why we need them. They could be the key to everything."

"Right. The question is, how do we convince them? How do we let them know?"

"I'm not sure. Yet. We'll have to be careful."

"Yes, I know. When are you going to try and contact them?"

"Tonight."

"So soon?"

"It must be tonight. I think the others may be on to us. They could get to them first."

"I'll arrange it, then. Do you really think they're the ones to help us?"

"I'm sure of it. Tonight, we will know for certain…"

* * *

"Attack pattern Omega-Gamma-1…now!" Blossom ordered. The Powerpuff girls descended quickly from the skies down towards the muscular, scaly creature that was attacking Townsville. It raised its arms protectively in front of itself as they approached. All three of them opened fire with their eyebeams, not with the intention of harm, but rather, to push its arms out of the way. They didn't stop their approach, and now with the creature's arms pushed aside, all three of them were able to land punches to its chest, followed by an uppercut to the jaw that sent it flying high into the air.

Buttercup watched it land well outside of Townsville, down for the count. She shook a fist in its direction and shouted, "And stay out!"

"Good work, girls!" Blossom said. She looked up at the sky, which was rapidly becoming dark. "It's time to head home. Let's call it a night, okay?"

"Sure," Bubbles agreed, and Buttercup also nodded. They turned and started flying back home once again. In less than a minute, they arrived at home, and flew back into their room. The clock read 6:15…they had a while yet before bed, so they broke out their toys and started playing around for a while.

The professor stopped in to check on them, "How are my little angels this evening?"

"Great!" Bubbles said, busy building a tower out of blocks. "We stopped another monster from wreckin' the town, an' saved the day again!"

"Wonderful!" he said with a smile. "Sometimes I wonder what we would do without you. Townsville is so lucky to have you three protecting it. Well, I have to go return to the lab. Have fun, and don't stay up too late now."

Blossom nodded, setting down her toy plane, "All right! Thanks, Professor!" He left the room, closing the door behind him. Blossom smiled, and went back to playing.

Barely a minute later, the hotline buzzed. Buttercup was the closest to the phone, but she was busy battling some toy soldiers with each other, so she said, "Someone get that?"

"Okay," Blossom said, flying over and picking up the phone. "Hello, Mayor?"

Normally, Blossom expected to hear the Mayor's voice at this point, informing her of some crime in progress, or some giant monster about to destroy the city, or some supervillain on the loose. However, the voice that came from the other end of the line wasn't the Mayor, but a deeper voice. "No, not the Mayor. We need to talk."

Blossom was startled, "Who is this? How did you get on this line?" The other girls looked up from what they were doing, curiously.

"That's not important right now," came the voice. "What is important is that you come meet me right away. We have an urgent matter to discuss, and I'm afraid it can't wait. We're out of time."

"What are you talking about?" Blossom said, frowning.

"Go over to the window," the voice told her. Blossom picked up the hotline from the table and carried it with her as she floated across the room to look out the window. She didn't know what she was looking for, until a second later she saw a black car pull up in front of the house, parking on the street. It stopped, and a pair of men emerged. Each of them wore dark gray suits…they also wore a pair of sunglasses, and had some kind of radio receiver over one ear, the wire going down into their jacket. They looked like members of the Secret Service, in a way.

The voice continued, "Do you see them?"

Blossom nodded absently, then remembering that she was talking on the phone, she said, "Yes, I see them…who are they?" At this point, Bubbles and Buttercup went over to the other windows to get a look as well.

"They're here for you and your sisters," the voice told her. "One of them will knock on the front door. The other will circle around back to make sure you don't try to slip out the rear exit, so you have to hurry before he gets there. You have only about thirty seconds. Hang up the phone, and go now."

"But…" Blossom began.

"There is a bus stop on 4th Street in Townsville, I will contact you again there," the voice interrupted. "Go!"

Blossom wasn't sure what to make of this, but she thought it might be best to comply…after all, there were people approaching the house for some reason, and someone had taken the time to warn them. She hung up the phone and said quickly, "Girls, follow me, now!" They dropped whatever they were holding and dashed off after Blossom, who headed out into the hall and downstairs.

They slipped out the back door and flew away from the building. Once they were at a safe distance, Blossom turned and looked at the house, and could just barely make out one of the men in the suits coming around the back of the house. She breathed a sigh of relief.

"What was that all about?" Buttercup demanded.

"I don't know," Blossom said. "Someone on the phone warned us to get out of there. He wants us to contact us at a bus stop in Townsville…"

"So…do we?" Bubbles asked.

Blossom looked off towards the skyscrapers in the distance, and said, "Yes. I have to know what's going on…but let's make sure the professor's all right, first."

She watched the house from a distance using her X-ray vision, as the professor answered the door and spoke with one of them men. They talked for only a minute or so before they immediately turned and returned to their vehicle. Blossom breathed a sigh of relief. At least the professor's not in trouble, she thought. "All right, let's move!" she ordered, and started towards the city…

* * *

Townsville was quiet at this time of night. Hardly anyone was up and about, and the empty streets were darkened, save for the occasional streetlight. Down at the bus stop on 4th Street, they descended and landed. No one was around…the streets were empty in all directions.

Buttercup looked down each street, wondering why they were asked to come out here. "Okay," she said. "We're here, now what?"

Before anyone could answer, a pay phone near the bus stop rang. Blossom glanced over at it curiously, and said, "I guess that's what." She flew over and answered it, "Yes?"

"Good, you're safe," the voice on the other end said. "Now…we're arranging our meeting place at the moment. I've sent someone by the name of Query to meet you there; she should be arriving very soon."

"Who are you?" Blossom asked.

"Patience," the voice said. "Everything will be answered once Query brings you to me…" Before another word could be spoken, though, a gunshot rang out, and the receiver in her hand split in half, pieces of electronics falling to the ground as she dropped what was left of it in alarm.

All three of them turned to look at the source of the gunshot, and saw one of the men with the suits, a smoking gun in his hand, pointing it in their direction. He lowered the gun slowly and said, "Powerpuff Girls. Please, come with me."

"Hey, what's the big idea?" Buttercup shouted.

"Yeah," Bubbles said. "You coulda hurt someone!"

The man approached them and said, "I am sorry that I had to do that. But it is important that you come with me. It is a matter of…national security."

Blossom looked at him skeptically, "You wouldn't just shoot first and ask questions later, mister! I don't know what you're up to, but we're not coming with you."

The man stopped directly in front of her, face-to-face, so close that she could see her reflection in his sunglasses. He said, "I'm afraid…that you have no choice in this matter." He reached out suddenly and grabbed her by the neck. The move surprised Blossom, and even more surprising was his strength. She tried to pull his arms away from her neck, but she couldn't…he was too strong.

Buttercup and Bubbles gasped, and Buttercup launched herself at the man, shouting, "Let her go!" She swung a punch at the side of his head, but with incredible speed, his free arm flew up and effortlessly deflected the punch. Before she even had time to realize this, he grabbed onto her arm and flung her in the opposite direction, against the side of a building.

Bubbles stared in shock for a moment, then narrowed her eyes and fired her eyebeams at the man. He must have spotted it, because he moved extremely fast, releasing Blossom and leaning backwards, narrowly avoiding the blasts as they passed by right in front of his face, yet completely unfazed by the near miss. As soon as Blossom was free, she quickly floated back to a safe distance.

Who is this guy? Blossom thought. She watched as he stood straight up again, and casually adjusted his tie. He started walking towards Blossom once again. He's strong, she thought. It looked like he fought the three of us off effortlessly. How is that possible?

A second later, more gunshots rang out. The man suddenly moved fast from side to side, moving in a blur that was almost too fast for even the girls to see. Off to one side, another person had come into view. She wore a long black trench coat, and her clothes underneath were also black. Her dark blonde hair was tied back into a ponytail. In each hand, she held a pistol, and both of them were aimed at the man in the suit. Smoke was coming from the barrels from the shots she fired.

"I'll hold him off," she shouted. "I'll catch up with you as soon as I can. Go!"

That must be Query, Blossom reasoned. She turned to the other girls and said, "You heard her…lets move!" Buttercup pulled herself free from the wall where she was flung, and all three of the girls immediately took to the air, heading for the rooftops.

Down below, Query started opening fire on the man again, who was now charging towards her. Incredibly, not a single bullet hit him. He covered the distance between them in the blink of an eye and swung a punch. Query did a back flip to avoid the blow, tucking her pistols back into her trench coat in mid-leap. When her feet hit the ground again, she immediately turned and started running for a nearby alley.

The girls watched this from the roof, and Bubbles said, "She's going into a dead end! Should we help her?"

Blossom nodded, "On the count of three, we fly down there and create a diversion. Ready? One…"

She never got the chance to finish counting, because she was distracted by what she saw next. Query ran into the alley, and leapt up to the side of one of the buildings. She continued running, straight up the side, impossibly, for another four strides, before kicking herself away from the wall towards the opposite building. She landed on a fire escape, and jumped straight upwards. Her jump carried her the remaining eight stories up, all the way to the roof's edge, where she landed in front of the girls.

All three of them just gaped. Buttercup managed to say, "How…how did you do that…"

"No time," Query said. "Listen…fly to the 7th Street Hotel as soon as possible. I'll meet up with you there."

"But…" Bubbles began.

"Just do it!" she ordered. She pulled a cell phone out of her coat and dialed it hastily. As she ran towards the opposite end of the roof, she spoke into it, "Tripwire, I need an exit…" She ran right up to the edge of the roof, and jumped, arcing through the air and landing on the roof of a building that had to have been a hundred feet away.

Blossom was still in shock, "What's going on here?!"

"Maybe we should go to the hotel," Bubbles said. "Like she told us to…"

"You're right, Bubbles," Blossom agreed. "Maybe we can find some answers to this whole mess there. Let's hurry!" She flew away from the rooftop, and her sisters followed…

* * *

The girls descended towards the 7th Street Hotel. As promised, there was someone waiting on the rooftop for them. He was a middle-aged man, with gray hair. Like Query, he wore a black trench coat with a simple black outfit underneath. A pair of sunglasses covered his eyes, but even so, they seemed to brighten along with his expression when he saw the girls.

Blossom set down on the roof, and her sisters landed next to her. "All right," she said. "Who are you? And how did you tap into the hotline?"

"The hotline was not a difficulty, not for me and my team," he explained. "As for myself…my name is Daedalus. And you are the famous Powerpuff Girls, yes?"

"That's right," Buttercup said.

"Daedalus," Blossom said, thinking. "Isn't that the guy from Greek mythology? He built the labyrinth, the one that held the Minotaur…"

"That is correct," Daedalus said. "The labyrinth was like a trap, from which no one could escape. However, that Daedalus knew the way to find the exit, to remove oneself from that stone prison, and gave it to a hero, that he might find a way out. Not too unlike what I hope to accomplish with you. I'm sure you have many questions, but for right now, let's go indoors. We have many things to discuss."

The girls glanced at each, and shrugged. Daedalus walked over and started down the stairwell leading into the hotel, and the girls followed him. They went down two stories, and went out into a hallway, stopping in front of a door. He opened it and walked in.

As the girls came in, they were interested by the décor of the room. It was somewhat elegant, yet simple at the same time. A few pieces of furniture, a carpet covering the hardwood floor, a wide window with drapes, but little else, save a door leading to an adjoining room. Amazingly, Query stood by the door. They wondered how this was possible, since they had to have gotten to the hotel long before she did.

He nodded in her direction, and Query nodded back and turned to leave through the door. Daedalus took a seat in one of the chairs, across from a couch, which he motioned to. "Please, have a seat."

The girls hovered over and landed on the couch. Buttercup was the first to speak, "Okay, what's this all about?"

"We have been watching you, recently," Daedalus explained. "The three of you have extraordinary talents…far surpassing any of those of normal people…"

"Of course," Bubbles said. "We're superheroes."

"Yes, but this goes beyond that," he continued. "You have an amazing gift…you are unaware of its full potential. But I know of it."

"Know of what?" Buttercup asked.

"The true source of your power," he said. "It is not the 'Chemical X', as you were led to believe it was, but rather, it is your own ability. I know the source of this ability, and I know the limits to which they can grow, if you are awakened to them…far more than even you know."

"I think we do, too," Blossom said. "We know our powers are developing, and that we'll have the power to save the whole world someday…"

Daedalus grinned slightly, "Your efforts are credible, but ultimately futile. The world you are trying to save, ironically, is not the one you should be saving…"

Buttercup looked confused, "What do you mean by that?"

"You are merely saving a fantasy," he told them. "A dream world. Nothing more. I can show you the world that truly needs your help, but you have to want to see it. You have to want to know the truth."

"I…see…" Blossom said, not fully understanding. "And what is this 'truth'?"

"You will see," Daedalus said. "But you must decide now if it is what you truly want, to know the source of your powers, and what you must do with them. Once the truth has been shown to you, however, it will be impossible to return to your old lives. It's all, or nothing."

"Impossible?" Bubbles said. "But…we like our lives…"

Daedalus nodded, "I realize that. This is why it is such a huge decision. I will let you decide, but if you choose not to learn the truth, you will eventually be captured by them." The girls knew who he was referring to.

"No way," Buttercup said. "We're tough enough to handle those guys…"

He cracked a small grin, and said, "You might be, at that. But even you can't defend yourself against them twenty-four hours a day. Eventually, you'll be in their custody. I'm offering you a way out, and the truth, as opposed to whatever they have planned for you. Either way, you'll be sacrificing your old way of life."

The room fell silent for the next few moments, as the girls considered this. Blossom finally spoke up, "I…what do we have to do?"

Daedalus stretched out a hand, opening it up and revealing three small pills. "One for each of you. Once you take them, I can show you everything you need to know…"

Blossom looked very skeptical now, and asked warily, "How do we know they're not poisonous? Or drugged?"

"Perhaps you would prefer something more palatable?" he said. The pills in his hand suddenly wavered, and changed shape, reforming into three small pieces of candy.

"But…how…" Bubbles whispered.

Blossom was amazed, but still doubtful. "That doesn't change anything," she insisted.

Buttercup gave Blossom a look, and said, "Okay, I'll take the first one, all right? If anything terrible happens to me, just don't take yours."

"Buttercup, no!" Blossom exclaimed. "It's too dangerous."

"Look, there's something going on here," Buttercup said, "and I want to know what. I say we trust these guys for now, okay?" Without another word, she reached out and took one of the pieces of candy, popping it into her mouth.

Blossom and Bubbles watched anxiously, as Buttercup chewed it, a smile crossing her face. Bubbles said, "Buttercup? Are you all right?"

She nodded, swallowing the candy. "I'm fine. It's just really good," she said, still smiling. "Wish there was more…hey, if they don't eat theirs, can I have them?"

"Sorry, but no," Daedalus said. "More than one will interfere with the…ah…process."

"Well," Bubbles said, "I'm not leavin' my piece behind…" She scooped up a piece of candy and ate it. Blossom watched this, and sighed, reluctantly taking her own piece. She looked at it cautiously, and glanced at the other girls, who nodded to her. She shrugged, and ate it also.

Daedalus smiled, "We're all set…please follow me." He got up and walked across the room over to the door where Query had gone. The girls flew up from the couch and followed him. Opening the door, he walked into the next room, which the girls could see contained an array of computers and other electronic equipment, with a couple of people operating them. There were also three empty chairs in the center of the room.

He motioned for them to take a seat at the chairs, while he introduced the people that were at the computers. "You already know Query," he said, and Query nodded to them. "This is Photon…" he said, indicating a young woman with short red hair seated at one of the computers. "…and Reaper," he finished. The young man with messy blonde hair looked up from the equipment he was operating and gave a half-smile, nodding at the girls.

Each of the girls landed on one of the chairs, and waited. Daedalus stepped in front of them and said, "This…everything you see around you here, is the Matrix. It is the world that you can see, and feel, and hear…but it masks you from seeing the world as it really is."

Blossom, not fully understanding, asked, "And what is it really?"

"You'll find out shortly," Daedalus told them. "That candy you ate was a trace program, which will allow us to find your precise location within the Matrix…"

Buttercup scratched her head, "Huh? Program? What are you talking about?"

"Just hold on," Query said, from her position, where she was rapidly keying up a complex schematic on her console. "This won't be pleasant at first…but you can do it."

Bubbles felt cold when she said that. What are they gonna do? she wondered. She could see that the others felt just as agitated as she was. All three of the girls reached out and held each others' hands. Blossom said, "Whatever happens, we can handle it…we're superheroes, after all…"

Reaper shouted, "I think I've found one of them…yeah, here we are…"

"You're right," Photon said. "Hey, the other two are there, also. Daedalus, think we should pull all three of them out at once? We'll be able to pick them up together…"

Hesitating for a moment, Daedalus nodded, "Do it."

The girls glanced at each other, suddenly a little afraid…they had no idea what they were up to, but they knew that whatever it was, it wasn't going to be easy for them. They watched as Reaper counted down, "All right…five seconds…four…three…two…one…"

"Now!" Query said, working her controls.

Blossom was about to give more words of reassurance to the other girls, when suddenly, everything around her seemed to freeze, and go black. Everything disappeared around her, and she felt a rushing sensation, like some invisible force was pulling her along. She tried to shout, but couldn't even move, let alone breathe. Am I dead? she wondered in the back of her mind…

* * *

Everything snapped back into being, as though the world around Blossom had been switched back on just as quickly as it had been switched off. But she was someplace else, now. Disoriented, she couldn't see, but she felt enclosed, like something was surrounding her. It was a somewhat familiar sensation, almost like she was submerged underwater, but it didn't feel like water…rather, it felt like some thicker, slightly more viscous liquid.

Blossom strained to open her eyes as she thrashed around, trying to find a way out of whatever held her. She felt tubes and cables; they were holding her in place as well. She tried to break free with her full strength, but she felt so weak. Her arms and legs were sore, and she could barely open her eyes anything more than a small crack.

She eventually figured out which way was up, and broke free from the surface. She could see a little more clearly now. The pinkish/purplish liquid that surrounded her was enclosed in a small, pod-like device. She wasn't wearing anything, but dozens of the tubes and cables she felt before were attached to her…on her arms, her back; one was even sticking out of her mouth. She managed to pull that cable free, and coughed.

Blossom wiped her eyes and tried to take a look around, to get her bearings. At first, she thought she was seeing things. She was in a tremendous cavern, not one made of stone, but of metal. She could see what looked like hundreds of small pinkish bulbs sticking out from the cavern wall…it took her a few moments to realize that they were more pods, like the one she was still in. She looked up, and down over the side, and saw that the cavern extended for what seemed like a mile in both directions.

All the sound around here seemed muffled, but slowly cleared up as she got used to the change in pressure from when she was submerged. She became aware of other sputtering and splashing sounds, and looked to her sides. The two pods next to her were open similarly to hers, and there was a small shape sitting up in them. Both of them were extremely pale, and covered with cables that connected to them in all places just like her. They were bald, and looked as disoriented as she was.

Blossom barely recognized their shape, however. The one on her left turned to look directly at her, and even though her eyes were straining to open, she could see the green irises. Buttercup? she thought. Taking a glance to her right, she saw that the other one staring around the cavern in shock, and noticed that she had blue irises.

Where on Earth are we? she wondered. What happened to us?

Everything that happened next seemed to pass in a blur. A large, spider-like robot descended and examined her closely. After a few moments of this, all of the cables attached to her were abruptly disconnected. She could see out of the corner of her eyes that the same thing was happening to her sisters. Before she could react, a hatch opened up beneath her inside the pod, flushing the contents of the tank. She felt herself being swept down through a pipeline by a flow of the liquid, unable to slow down or see where she was going.

It finally emptied out into the open, and for a moment, she felt suspended in the air, before plummeting a few dozen feet into the water below. The water was almost as grimy and viscous as the liquid in her pod was. She sputtered, trying desperately to stay afloat. Two other loud splashes sounded nearby, and she knew somewhere in the back of her mind that it was the others.

It was almost too dark to see, but only for a moment, before a bright light shone on her from above. Something big was looming overhead, and as she looked up in confused amazement, a metallic claw descended from whatever it was, grabbing her and lifting her out of the water. She coughed a few more times, and squinted, trying to see better, but she still couldn't make any details out.

She was brought up to it, and it laid her down on her back, on a cold metal surface. Blinking, she saw the fuzzy images of people standing over her. They came into focus only for a moment, and she made out a face: Daedalus. He wasn't wearing his sunglasses anymore, nor his trench coat, but rather, just a simple gray shirt. Before she closed her eyes and passed out, she heard his voice say, "Welcome to the real world…"

TO BE CONTINUED…