Oh My User: Chapter One
by Ryuu-sama (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The oh-so-boring and obligatory disclaimer:Bob, Dot, Phong and all the original ReBoot characters are the property of Mainframe Entertainment. I use them with the utmost affection and respect and promise to put them back when I'm done playing with them. ^_^ Other characters are my original creations and may only be used with my permission (not that you guys *wouldn't* ask first, right?). This is a non-profit work of fan-fiction.
Notes, thank-you's, and other stuff:This is my first-ever ReBoot fanfic. I had a lot of fun writing it and I'm rather proud of how it turned out. I'd like to thank my friends, Corrie, Sarah, & Spring, who proofread this story for their support, patience, and criticism. I'd also like to thank Spring for getting me hooked on ReBoot in the first place (SEE? This is all YOUR fault, Spring! ^_~). Finally, I'd like to thank Hanako Breithaupt of "The List" fame for giving me pointers on how NOT to write fanfic. You've got first dibs on MiSTing this one, if you want it! Before I let you get on with the story, I would like to apologize for the excellent grammar and spelling throughout this fic. I wrote a few different drafts, went over each one with my computer's grammar- and spell-checker, and had other people proofread this before I posted it. I know that I am setting a standard of excellence for other ReBoot fanfic by doing this and I am sorry. ^_^
Feedback:Yes, please! Anything that'll make the next one better!
Summary:After a lighting strike takes her from the Userworld to Mainframe, Callista Anderson learns that there's a whole lot more about computers than she ever knew. Will she ever adapt to Mainframe? Can the citizens learn to cope with her? Will she ever get home? Read on and find out!
1 nanosecond =1 user minute
1 microsecond = 1 user hour
1 second = 1 user day
1 cycle = 1 user week
1 minute = 1 user month
1 hour = 1 user year
The "Real World":
Callista Anderson glanced apprehensively out of her apartment window at the stormy sky. There was an ominous, surly growl of thunder and distant flashes of lighting emitting from the heavy black clouds.
"That looks bad..."she murmured, "but I really need to finish this." She looked at the computer monitor that displayed the webpage she was updating and then peeked back out the window. "Hmm...there isn't much left to do. Maybe I can beat the storm."
She pushed an errant lock of the brown hair that had escaped from her long braid behind her left ear and straightened her glasses on her nose before she resumed typing.
Outside, lighting crackled dramatically and struck the power lines. The surge of electricity twisted up the cables and into the computer. A glowing arc of power poured through Callista, locking her hands to the keyboard. The girl gave a shrill, agonized scream, her body afire with pain. She slumped over the keyboard, a merciful blackness stealing over her mind.
The monitor went wild, flashing through hundreds of system messages at top speed. The screen gave a final burst of light and went blank.
Mainframe- Principal Office:
"Yes. I'll look into that right away. Thank you." Dot Matrix smiled and closed the Vid Window. Then she heaved a weary sigh, pulling off her reading glasses and rubbing her throbbing temples.
"User...I had no idea what I was getting into when I became command.com, did I?" She glanced over at the timepiece on her desktop, wondering if she had time for a break. "19:00? Spammit, I'm calling it a second. I need some downtime!"
The door to her office gently whooshed open and she looked up, anticipating and dreading the arrival of one of her staff with yet another 'urgent' problem. Instead, she was pleasantly surprised to see Bob smiling at her from the doorway.
"Hey. Are they keeping you busy?" he asked, walking over and giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.
"All part of being command.com, I suppose. All the nanos feel like micros." She rose from her chair and leaned into his comforting embrace. "Being able to go home to you makes it all worth it, though,"
He chuckled. "That's good to know. So, are you ready to end-file for the second?"
She pulled away and grinned up at him. "Sure, if we can get out of here without any of my staff catching us."
He laughed again and seized her hand. "Well, keep your head low," he advised. Dot giggled as they ducked out of her office. They had almost made it to the exit when she heard a frantic voice calling her name.
"Commander Matrix! Sir!"
She sighed. "I knew it was too good to be true," she muttered to Bob, who hid a grin. They turned to face the young binome running up behind them.
"Yes, Packard? What is it?" she asked, giving a kind smile to the girl.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, Commander Matrix, Guardian Bob... but the sensors have picked up an unauthorized portal over Baudway, near the Diner."
"A portal?" Bob asked, somewhat sharply.
"Y-yes, Guardian," Packard answered nervously. "The sensors registered an unknown entity coming through it before the portal vanished." She turned to Dot. "A team has already been sent out, Sir."
"Hmm...I'd better go too," Dot mused.
"I'll join you," said Bob.
She nodded. "Good idea." She smiled again at the binome. "Thank you, Packard. You did an excellent job."
"You're welcome, Sir." Packard gave a quick salute and hurried back to her post as quickly as dignity allowed.
Dot turned to Bob, her expression fearful. "Bob, you don't think...I mean, it couldn't be...Megabyte, could it?"
Bob took one of her hands in both of his. "Dot, it's been at least three minutes since he got sucked into the Web," he reassured her, "That's a long time for anyone to survive out there."
Dot raised an eyebrow. "Well, you did."
"I was lucky," Bob said, smiling and tweaking her nose, "and I had something important to live for."
"So does he," Dot answered, gloomily. "Revenge on us."
"And since when have you been such a pessimist?"
"I'm not! It's just...we all went through so much...changed so much. When I thought I'd lost both you and Enzo...Can any of us really go through that again?"
"Dot." Bob hugged her. "I promised that I would never leave you again, and I intend to keep that promise."
Dot nodded, biting at her lower lip. "That-that's right. You always keep your promises."
"So, shall we see what we have to deal with, Commander Matrix?" Bob stressed the title slightly, tactfully reminding her that she had a public image to maintain.
She smiled, then schooled her features into a pleasant but neutral expression, taking the hint. "By all means, Guardian Bob. Let's investigate this."
The two of them left the PO, hand in hand.
AndrAIa and Matrix were zipping towards the PO to visit Dot when the sound of emergency sirens caught their attention. They saw a flock of CPU's and a medical team speed by.
"What in the 'net was all that?" asked AndrAIa.
Matrix turned around to follow them. "I don't know, but I'm going to find out!" he called back. "You coming, Andi?"
"Right behind you, Sparky!"
Matrix sighed. "Please don't call me that."
"Sure, Sparky, whatever you say." She chuckled as he glared at her.
The couple zoomed off after the emergency vehicles. They arrived at the scene to find the CPU's circling a small, fallen form.
Matrix saw Bob and Dot standing together and landed next to them.
"Sis, what's going on?"
"There was an illegal portal," the command.com answered, not taking her eyes off the scene. "Something fell through."
"What is it?" Matrix growled.
"That's what we're about to find out," Dot replied, grimly.
The figure rose to its feet to reveal a disheveled, young, female sprite. She had pale, pinkish-white flesh, long brown hair that was arranged in a simple braid, and a pair of intelligent grey eyes that peered out fearfully from behind her glasses. She took several deep breaths, staring around in disbelief, and repeated over and over, "Ohmygod, this is not happening, this is not happening, this is not happening..."
"You are surrounded!" bellowed a voice from the lead CPU. "State your name and system and surrender any weapons you may be carrying!"
"My-my name is C-Callista Anderson," the sprite answered, shakily. "I-I don't have any weapons or anything...really, I don't want to hurt anyone...I don't know wh-where I am or how I g-got here...I just want to go home." Tears trickled down the now completely terrified sprite's face. "Please," she whimpered, "help me, someone...I-oh..." She gave a soft, slow gasp and crumpled to the ground again.
The onlookers watched the scene in stunned silence. Dot spoke first.
"What...what in the 'net-?" she asked softly.
Bob's voice was gentle. "I don't think she's a threat, Dot. She's just a scared, lost kid."
Dot was reminded strongly of little Enzo, although this sprite seemed at least ten hours older. There was a childish vulnerability about Callista that forced Dot to fight off an urge to gather the sprite into her arms and comfort her.
"Whoever she is, whatever she is, she needs help. She seems to be in some sort of shock," said Dot briskly, as she gestured for the Med. team to move in. They loaded Callista onto a gurney and took off for the Principal Office with her. The CPU's followed as an escort.
"But who is she?" AndrAIa asked. "Where did she come from and why in the User's name is she here?"
"I think the answer to all those questions is on its way to the Principal Office," Bob replied. He raised his hands and opened a portal. "After you."
"I want to hear the story Callista tells when she wakes up. It's got to be good. After all, pretty young sprites don't normally just fall out of the sky," Matrix said.
"You're right," AndrAIa agreed, smiling. "They usually come out of game cubes."
Principal Office- Infirmary:
And before the darkness, pain. Callista remembered the pain all too vividly. Which, she reflected ironically, was what one usually felt when struck by lighting.
Struck by lighting...that must have been what had happened, right? That was the only possible explanation for why she had gone from being seated at her computer to waking up in...wherever that place was that she had just seen. It had all been a bizarre dream brought on by the trauma of having several thousand volts of electricity shooting through her all at once. Yes, it was just a dream. It sure had seemed real, though...
She stirred, felt a flat surface beneath her back. Bed...it's a bed, she thought. Bed meant... hospital? That was highly likely. That would also explain why she didn't feel any pain. She was probably on some really good drugs right now.
"She just moved! I think she's coming to." Several pairs of footsteps quickly moved towards the bed. Callista sensed someone leaning over her. "All of you move back," a woman's voice, young but filled with authority, ordered. "Give her some room." Callista heard the feet shuffling backwards.
"Callista?" the woman asked, quietly. "Callista Anderson?"
She slowly opened her eyes, blinking to try and clear her blurry vision. "My glasses..."
"Here." She felt the familiar wire frames press gently into her hand. She struggled to sit up. A pair of hands went to her back, supporting and helping her. She slipped her glasses on, bringing the world around her into focus once more. "Thanks. I'm all right, I jus..." The words trailed off as she got a good look at her location and at the pretty, dark-haired, violet-eyed woman who stood beside her. A woman with...green skin? Behind the woman was a brown-eyed, blue-skinned man with shiny silver hair who was clad in some form of armor, an aqua-haired woman with fins on her forearms and calves, and a large, muscular man with a gold eye and the same hair and skin as the first woman.
"You-you can't be real. This has to be a dream. I'm dreaming...I must be!" Callista said, dazedly.
Dot shot a concerned glance in Bob's direction. The sprite still seemed to be somewhat out of it.
"You're not dreaming, Callista," she said, reassuringly. "This system is called Mainframe. You're in the Principal Office. My name is Dot Matrix and I'm the command.com. This is Bob, Guardian 452. Is any of this making sense to you? Can you tell us what system you're from?"
"System? Mainframe? Why...why are you green?"
"Where do you live? How did you get here?" Dot asked slowly. Why was she green? Maybe Callista was a bit random?
"I-I'm from Boston. I don't know how I got here. I was logged onto the Internet and lighting must've struck the system. Next thing I knew, I was here."
"So, your system, um, Boston, has access to the 'net?" Bob asked.
"Of course Boston has Internet access." Callista gave him a really strange look. "All you need is a phone line and a modem." She shook her head. "And what do you mean, 'system'? Boston is a city in the state of Massachusetts." She stared at him. "My god, you have the coolest hair...how'd you get it that color?"
"Mass-a-chu-setts?" asked Dot, stumbling over the unfamiliar word. "I've never heard of it."
"You've never heard of Massachusetts?" Callista stared at her in arrant disbelief. "Just where is this place?"
"I told you, this is Mainframe," Dot answered.
"Well, what country is this?" Callista looked up at Bob again. "On second thought, what planet is this?"
"Planet?" Matrix asked. "Dot, she's random!" AndrAIa scowled and poked him in the arm, warningly.
Callista glared at him. "And just what does that mean?" she demanded.
"It means you're mis-filed. You're using fuzzy logic," Matrix explained, somewhat rudely.
"I'm what? I am NOT crazy, you jerk! How dare you! You don't know ANYTHING about me!" Callista snapped.
"You don't even know where you are!"
"You-you...insensitive, muscle-brained nitwit!"
"My children! Stop this foolishness! There is no need to fight!" Everyone looked up as Phong entered the infirmary. Matrix glared at Callista and walked over to lean against the wall.
"Oh my god..." Callista whispered. She stared at Phong in awe. "You...you are unbelievable..."
Phong moved to the bed and extended his neck to get a closer look at her. Callista shrank back, her eyes wide and frightened.
"What are you?" she asked in a small voice.
Phong smiled kindly. "Do not fear, my child. You are safe here." He moved back. "I am Phong. Your name is Callista?" She nodded wordlessly. He smiled again. "It is a beautiful name. Welcome to Mainframe."
"Um, t-thanks...Phong." She gave him a small, tremulous attempt at a smile in return. She didn't know quite why, but she instinctively knew she could trust him. He meant her no harm. He patted her hand and turned to Bob.
"You have never come across this 'Boston' that Callista speaks of?"
"The name seems somehow familiar, but, as far as I know, there is no system called that," the guardian answered.
"Wait, so you have heard of it, Bob?" Dot asked.
"Yeah, that's the weird bit." He shook his head. "I know I saw it somewhere while I was at the Academy."
Dot looked Callista over again. "Why don't you have an icon?"
Dot pointed to the black and white symbol that they all wore. "Like this. Did you lose yours?"
"I never had one. What does it do?" All of them stared at her in disbelief. Callista blinked. "What?"
"You've never seen an icon?" Matrix asked.
"Wait!" Bob said. "Now I remember where I've heard of 'Boston'! It was in the 'Myths and Legends' class we took at the Academy. It's a city that's supposed to exist in the Userworld."
"But, if Callista's from there, that would mean that she's..." Dot trailed off, realizing what she was about to say. "Net preserve us! This isn't possible, is it?"
"What? What does it mean?" Callista asked.
"It means...it means that you're a...User," Bob answered, his expression a curious mixture of awe and horror.
Principal Office- Communications:
Packard leaned back from her console, just staring at the data displayed on the screen. This second had been very strange thus far. Another unauthorized portal had been discovered and this time, two entities were reported to have emerged from it. The young binome's throat felt suddenly tight as she read the last part of the sensor readings. The two beings were unmistakably...viral.
She opened a Vid Window to the Infirmary. The command.com's image popped up, an odd expression on her face. "Yes?"
"Commander Matrix, sir? Perhaps you should come up here and look at this." Packard bit her lip. "I think we have a bad situation developing."
Dot nodded. "I'm on my way." The Vid Window closed. Packard slumped in her chair, trying not to cry.
Light flared in the dim alley as two figures stepped through a portal. It closed behind them. One of the beings stepped to the end of the alley and glanced around. There was just enough light to reveal the form of a female virus. She was tall and slim with deep blue skin, slanted eyes of an angry red, and long, jet-black hair with blood-red streaks. On each finger was a long, sharp claw with a glinting metallic tip. She was clad in a form-fitting, sleeveless garment of shiny black leather. She looked like 'trouble', personified. She turned to her companion. "Where are we?"
"At last...it has been so long!" said a deep, ominous voice from the shadows. "I have some... unfinished business to attend here."
The female virus nodded. "Ah, Mainframe." She gave an unpleasant laugh. "I do so enjoy revenge!"