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The World You Know

Matrix opened his eyes after the bright flash, then shook his head as his senses became acclimated to the Dataverse. He was standing in a grassy field, just outside of what appeared to be a small city. AndrAIa and Frisket were short distances away from him, as they had only been spread out a little on their arrival. What he noticed above all, however, was the way everything seemed so much less vivid. The colors were not as vibrant, the slightest movements seemed clunky, and everything felt slightly less real. He could no longer see the individual strands of AndrAIa's hair, nor the fur on Frisket's body. Even his own skin seemed like the detail was now gone from it.

That's when he realized that it all looked familiar, and this was what he was used to. This odd reality that was the Dataverse was, in fact, more like the world he knew. He held his hand up and inspected it more closely, wondering what exactly that meant. Was Mainframe hidden somewhere in the Dataverse? Somehow he didn't think it would be that simple.

He glanced over to AndrAIa, who was inspecting her own hands in the same amazement. She noticed the similarities to their own realm in this techno-world, which was comforting to Matrix. At least he wasn't going crazy. She lowered her hands and looked to her boyfriend, and the two made eye contact.

"Enzo..." AndrAIa rarely uttered Matrix's first name, except on the occasions that she was utterly overwhelmed by something. "This is..."

"I know," Matrix interrupted, since it was obvious their thoughts were aligned. "I couldn't place it until now, but this is more like Mainframe than the rest of the Omniverse."

"What does that mean, though?" AndrAIa asked as she watched Frisket wander around, sniffing the ground and making sure there was nothing in the immediate area. "Are we back in the Net?"

"I was wondering the same thing," Matrix said, as he looked to the settlement before them. "I think we could get a few answers in that place, over there."

AndrAIa looked over as well. There were a few tall buildings, and what appeared to be an ocean on the other side. It all looked pixelated and fake, however, like it was a cheap picture plastered against a wall. Despite how familiar it seemed, she couldn't ignore the oddities of it, and that left her even more concerned. She knew Matrix was right, though, they had to go investigate if they were to figure this out. She glanced up to the sky above them as she continued to take in her surroundings, though, and suddenly gasped.

"Matrix, look!" AndrAIa shouted, and pointed upwards.

Matrix jumped in surprise from his girlfriend's sudden exclamation. His hand instinctively wrapped around the grips of his gun, but he restrained himself from drawing and brandishing it in any particular direction. Instead, he looked up to the direction she was pointing, and his eyes widened in amazement of the sight.

High above them there seemed to see some sort of sky highway. Yellow lines traced in a full circle to shape out what appeared to be a transparent tube, with vehicles and vessels off all sorts traveling in both directions. It was difficult to make out exactly what they were because of how high in the air they were, even with the assistance of his cybernetic eye. What he could tell, however, was that no two crafts were identical.

"This isn't the Net," Matrix announced in awe as he released his weapon, and Frisket barked in agreement.

"You're right," AndrAIa agreed, somewhat deflated and defeated. For just a brief moment, she had thought that their home was in reach. "But it's something like it."

The three of them watched as a stereotypical white rocket ship lifted off from the city before them, flying straight upwards. It entered the transparent tunnel through a well defined gap in the lines. Then, it merged in with all the traffic and took off down the pipe at an incredible speed, quickly disappearing once it did.

"We're gonna need to get on that highway," Matrix realized.

"I agree," AndrAIa said, but then shifted her glance back downwards. "But let's go to the town, first, and get a feel for this place. Maybe even find a guide."

Matrix slowly nodded as they began to take their first steps towards the city. He really didn't like the idea of relying on outside help, but he had to admit that it might be needed. He shook his focus from the sky above, and instead looked to AndrAIa and Frisket, who had gotten more than a few steps ahead of him while he was distracted.

Something was unsettling about the Dataverse. It was foreign, yet familiar all at once. It just added to the mystery of the Omniverse, and he didn't like that. It only made him realize how far they were from getting back to their home.

Matrix approached the city with AndrAIa and Frisket, eventually finding a paved stone pathway that led them from the grassy field into the city. As they walked, they kept looking up to see the various vehicles entering and exiting the city through the aerial port. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the construction of the crafts, as they saw just about everything they could imagine.

They entered the very odd city, and the stone path transitioned into a sidewalk. The buildings, cars, and pedestrians all had a 2D appearance, but as they walked past them, that appearance simply stayed the same no matter what angle they were viewing them from. It was different than Mainframe, but they had encountered primitive systems in their pre-Omniverse travels that functioned in a similar way.

Matrix scratched his head as he studied the people while they made their way towards the docks. It was their best assumption on where the ships were landing, as the ocean was clearly for nothing more than show. Sure enough, as they got closer, they could hear the typical commotion that usually accompanied such a busy place. They stopped in the sidewalk, watching a digital bus pass on the road beside them.

"We'd better divide and conquer this one," AndrAIa mused aloud, placing a hand on her chin, thoughtfully.

"I was just thinking the same thing," Matrix agreed.

"I'll take Frisket and look for a guide of some sort at one of the bars or restaurants near here," AndrAIa decided. After all, that's always where the easy help was.

"I guess so," Matrix said, still not entirely convinced that a guide was entirely necessary.

AndrAIa just looked up into his eyes, gauging her boyfriend's response.

"We need the help, Matrix," she insisted. "We could spend forever wandering this place, like we did the games."

Matrix just nodded slowly. He still wasn't swayed, but he certainly didn't want to argue about it here. "Alright, alright."

"You head towards the dock and see about getting us some transport," AndrAIa gently instructed. "Something that doesn't...stand out?"

All three of them looked up at the sound of some commotion, just as AndrAIa finished her sentence. Above the city there was a floating pirate ship, heading towards the entrance to the Dataverse's super highway. It had been moving at a fairly slow pace, so when a twentieth century zeppelin blew past to so fast that the entire flying boat rocked violently to the side, the pirate captain had run to the port side of the boat and begun hollering obscenities at the speeding blimp.

"...I don't think that will be a problem," Matrix slowly said as they watched the scene unfold above them. Frisket barked in agreement.

"Yea," AndrAIa managed to say, her voice giving away her awe at what she had witnessed. She then quickly shook her head to return her attention to what needed to be done. "Alright, let's break."

Matrix laughed, and began to walk off. "See you at the docks in a bit."

AndrAIa gave a slight wave, then looked down to her canine companion. "Come on, Frisket."

Frisket simply barked and began to trot after her as she walked in another direction.

Matrix made his way onto the dock in no time, looking at the varied and unique crafts that littered the platforms. The options and choices were simply overwhelming, and he didn't have a clue where to start. He began walking down the docks, looking at each vehicle that was in a slip. Some were large, and others were small. He decided that since they didn't have to worry about getting anything too ornate, they would simply go with a craft that was smaller and easier to handle.

Matrix stopped and crossed his arms as he looked down at a yellow submersible craft. It sealed air tight and had a clear blue glass window at the front. At any other point he'd assume this thing was meant to dive into the ocean that it sat in, but he instead found himself wondering if it could actually do that. His thoughts were interrupted by a voice from behind him.

"Looking to rent that craft?" An older man asked, stepping up beside Matrix, seemingly from nowhere.

"Rent?" Matrix asked, then nodded. He was having some good luck today, despite having no idea where this odd man had come from. "Yea, we'd like to rent it. Can it get me to the Databanks?"

"It'll get you anywhere, but it'll cost you," the man replied, and Matrix rolled his eyes.

The green skinned sprite was already reaching into his pocket and digging out some Omnilium he'd transformed into money. It was the currency he was familiar with, but because Omnilium was the true value no one had turned it down yet, despite none of them hailing from the same realm as he did.

"Yea, yea," Matrix rolled his eyes and tossed the man a small brown pouch. The man caught it and opened it, then looked inside and nodded. "Very good. I just need you to sign a few things. To make sure I get it back."

Matrix grunted in annoyance, but took the digital pad when it was handed to him just the same. He signed it with little thought. "Whatever."

The man grinned a somewhat shifty grin that made him a bit nervous all of a sudden, but he disappeared down the dock right after. Matrix shrugged and looked at their temporary vehicle. Now they had the means, all that was left was finding the direction. Matrix sat down on the side of the flying submarine, and simply waited for his girlfriend to show up.

AndrAIa made her way through the crowd at one of the larger harborside bars in this digital city. The sheer variety in vehicles coming to and from this place was matched entirely by the numerous patrons that piloted them. She had already talked with a few people, but none that were heading towards the Databanks. As usual, when she took the assignment of finding additional help, she had received more than a few offers to join them instead, with various degrees of subtlety hiding their ultimate intentions. She simply politely moved on, sometimes with Frisket's growls or barks serving as assistance.

She decided to take a break for the moment. Knowing Matrix, he had already acquired transport of some sort and was waiting impatiently, but she wasn't too concerned. She was the one marching around this seedy bar in high heels, so a break was well deserved at this point. She took a seat in a tall chair that was before a small counter-height table. Frisket sat down beside the chair, ever watchful. She paused and took a sip of the drink she'd ordered from the bar upon arriving, and scanned the crowd once again. It was hard to get a read on who would be helpful and who wouldn't, simply because everyone was so incredibly different and unique. That had certainly been the story of the Omniverse since they'd arrived, but realizing that hadn't made them any better and getting around.

While she was contemplating on their predicament and enjoying a short break, she was surprised by someone pulling out the chair on the other side of the table and helping themselves to a seat. Frisket's ears popped up as he looked over, but AndrAIa gave a far more casual glance to the woman that had joined her.

This lady had bright pink skin, with no distinction between her shoulder length hair and the actual flesh that made up her being. It was odd, but not as strange as her completely empty black eyes. She also wore white pants, black boots, and a purple vest, complete with a very small white tube-top underneath it. It wasn't the most practical looking outfit for adventure, but AndrAIa knew she was not one to judge.

"Looking for the Databanks?" the woman asked, and AndrAIa now turned to face her.

"Yes, as a matter of fact," AndrAIa admitted. "How did you know that?"

"I overheard you talking with that smooth tongued captain at the bar," the pink lady replied casually. "Good luck getting help from any of these types around here."

AndrAIa laughed at those comments, but then shook her head as she took a sip of her drink. "Where would I go to get decent help, then? I'll take a map drawn on a napkin at this point."

The helpful woman now laughed. "I could do that, but I'd be happy to come with you and show you the way."

"Really?" AndrAIa perked up at that suggestion. "We'd love to have the help. What's the price, though?"

"No price," the woman shrugged. "Just out of the good of my heart and desire for adventure."

AndrAIa silently studied the woman and mused over that comment. This lady's eyes were totally black, with no visible pupils. It was haunting, and to a superstitious type it might also be telling. She seemed kind and friendly, but AndrAIa was also jaded and careful. Not nearly as bad as Matrix, but she was no naive flower, either. There was always a string attached somewhere, and not being able to see this woman's intentions left her unsure, and very cautious. Still, help was help, and just as she'd learned to be careful over the course of her travels, she'd also learned to take assistance when you could get it. If it was suspect, you just had to try to stay one step ahead.

"We'd love your help," AndrAIa answered with a warm smile. "My name is AndrAIa, and this is Frisket," she gestured to the red and yellow dog sitting below her feet. "And my boyfriend, Matrix, is waiting on us."

"My name is Sesa," the girl replied, reaching across and shaking hands with AndrAIa. "And it's great to meet you."

"You too," AndrAIa replied, and then finished the rest of her drink all at once. She set the glass down on the table, then looked to the door. "Speaking of Matrix, we'd better get caught up with him. Are you ready to go right now?"

Sesa nodded, and the two women stood up. They navigated their way through the crowd, garnering plenty of compliments and onlookers as they passed. AndrAIa noticed that Sesa was used to it, and even winked back to a few commenters. She seemed to relish the attention. To each their own.

They exited onto the street and began to walk down the sidewalk side by side, with Frisket walking before them. They headed to the docks, and AndrAIa shot a look to the girl as they made some idle chit chat. There was something very familiar about her species.

Either way, for now they had help. Once they found Matrix, they could hopefully get out of here and get all the answers they needed at the Databanks.

Matrix sat on the edge of their submersible, trying to pay little mind to the already ridiculous craft and the absurd purpose they had rented it for. His mind drifted to the strange man that had loaned it to them. He was shifty and fast talking, not unlike many others he'd seen over the years. At first glance it had seemed he was just trying to make some money and do business, but he couldn't help but think there was a little more to it than that.

Nothing he could do about it for now, though. They had a vehicle, and that was all they needed for the time being. While he was waiting for AndrAIa and Frisket to return he casually spun his old red yoyo. The waiting is what would drive him crazy every time, but he knew he had to be patient. AndrAIa wasn't lollygagging about.

Just as he was thinking about her, Frisket's bark down the dock got his attention. He looked over to see AndrAIa and Frisket walking towards him, accompanied by a woman who seemed to share a similar fashion taste as AndrAIa. Matrix's eye already began to scan her, and he learned that she belonged to a species referred to as "Majins." There was something familiar about that, but he couldn't quite place what it was. Either way, he stood up to greet the three of them.

"Aww, how sweet," AndrAIa commented, looking at the small submarine. She looked to the Majin girl over her shoulder. "Matrix and I met on a craft just like this, in my home world, back when I was just a game AI."

Matrix crossed his arms and nodded confidently. Of course he'd never forget that day his life had changed for the better, but he admittedly had not at all drawn the connection between then and now. Lucky break.

"Matrix, this is Sesa," AndrAIa continued, gesturing to the bright pink Majin woman. "Sesa, this is Matrix."

"It's nice to meet you," Sesa said, extending her hand towards him.

Matrix silently reached out and shook her hand, unsure what to say in response. He wasn't exactly thrilled by the prospect of a guide, but had come to accept that it was the easiest course of action for the time being. Still, he didn't like anything interrupting the group dynamic of AndrAIa, Frisket, and himself. So, this woman would have to be content with an acknowledging nod. She laughed as their hands parted and looked to AndrAIa, who was also giggling. It became apparent that his girlfriend had briefed the newcomer. Whatever.

"Let's go, then," Matrix simply said, brushing past his own lack of skill with formalities. "You can get us to the Databanks?"

"Not a problem, sweetheart," Sesa simply said with a smile and a wink, eliciting a laugh from AndrAIa.

Matrix looked over to his girlfriend, who was just grinning wildly. At least someone was enjoying this. He climbed onto the submersible and pulled open the top hatch, while the two women also scaled their way to the roof.

"Come on, boy!" Matrix said to Frisket, who barked in response.

With one powerful leap, Frisket landed on the roof of the craft, and then dropped into the interior. Sesa climbed down the ladder next, followed immediately by AndrAIa. Matrix entered last, closing and sealing the hatch above him.

The interior had four seats, in rows of two, and plenty of open space behind them. Frisket was already laying against the wall behind the chairs, knowing that his only role now was to ride along. Matrix and AndrAIa took the front two seats in front of the controls, while Sesa took the back left seat, behind Matrix.

"Just like the day we met," AndrAIa reminisced as she looked over the controls.

Matrix couldn't help himself. A wide grin appeared on his lips, and simultaneously he and AndrAIa brought up balled fists and bumped them together. Sesa smiled at their display.

"Just a new ocean," Matrix agreed, and flipped a few switches to start the craft up. As everything roared to life, he looked over his shoulder at Sesa. "Alright, start guiding."

"First thing's first, of course," Sesa responded. "Let's get on the highway."

Matrix and AndrAIa both worked a few controls, and the craft broke free from the dock. Despite is appearance that would lead anyone to guess it was meant for water, it had no trouble floating up above the dock, and into the sky. They steered it towards the opening that lead to the Dataverse's massive highway system, mixing in with an unreal assortment of other vehicles that were also bound for the same place.

"I'm glad we've got experience in all of those games to get us at least familiar with all of these different things," AndrAIa said in awe as she looked through the round front window. "Could you imagine someone that had never seen some of these things before trying to deal with this?"

"Unbelievable," Matrix simply responded as he steered the vehicle.

The submersible handled flying through the air with the same ease that one would expect from it underwater. It was quick and responsive, and had no issues with the digital sky in the slightest. AndrAIa leaned back from the controls, and folded her right leg against her chest, wrapping her arms around it as she got comfortable. Matrix was driving, and for now there were no needed co-pilot duties.

"Merge left," Sesa instructed Matrix.

Matrix followed Sesa's directions, and steered the craft into the massive sky tunnel. He merged in with the other traffic and got up to a matching speed. The transparent walls became solid and they joined a massive rush of vehicles that were traveling the Dataverse through this network. Along with all the flying vehicles there were various cars, trucks, tanks, and other land devices running along the bottom of the tunnel. Matrix and AndrAIa bought couldn't help but gasp in awe of the amazing sight.

"Wow..." AndrAIa said as she stood up and got her face close to the glass, so she could try and look further to the right and see some other crafts. "How do the cars operate?"

"The same," Sesa explained. "Some places, like where we were, don't have entrances for them, but others do. Everywhere in the Dataverse is a little different."

AndrAIa nodded and sat back in her seat. Smiling in amazement and excitement, she looked over to Matrix. He was holding in one of his own, but the look on his face told the obvious truth. He was enjoying this adventure, now. The Dataverse reminded them of their own world enough to make them comfortable, but it was different enough to impress them.

"Keep going this way for awhile," Sesa instructed next.

Matrix just nodded and kept his hands on the controls. He watched as two Arwings and an X-Wing passed their flying submarine and continued down the tunnel, just as he was thinking about how crazy the variety of this place was. He took a deep breath and kept on his current course, trusting Sesa's directions for no other reason than it was all he had to go on.

Traveling through the Dataverse's incredible highway system had taken far longer than expected. Fortunately, they had Sesa present to guide them down each proper route, because Matrix and AndrAIa both realized that there was simply no way they would have found this place on their own. Even if Matrix could only begrudging admit it in his own mind.

The means of arrival aside, Matrix now stood inside the Databanks. AndrAIa and Frisket flanked him on either side, while Sesa had insisted on staying outside to make some important call. Of course, he wasn't an idiot. He'd taken the keys to the flying submersible with him, so she wouldn't be able to steal it. AndrAIa had been a little offended by the gesture, but he knew better than to trust just anyone.

They stood in an open room, one of many they had come across. Countless shelves of books were on multiple levels, and many hallways branched into other parts of the extensive library. Just finding where to start was a puzzle in itself. Patience wasn't Matrix's strong suit, though, so he finally just made a decision, for better or worse.

"I'll look this way, if you want to start reading over there," Matrix suggested, pointing in two separate directions. "I don't know what to look for. Just whatever makes sense, I guess."

"This place is supposed to have information on...well, just about everything." AndrAIa agreed, and then began to saunter off in one direction. Frisket tilted his head, and the canine followed after her.

Matrix simply nodded his head in silent agreement, then wandered off his own way. He walked past shelves of books, scanning across the various titles that seemed to cover countless subjects. An annoyed grimace crossed his face as he saw nothing worth picking up immediately. He worried they would be in here forever.

Suddenly, he looked to the end of the aisle and spotted an elderly man. The man stood out because he wasn't looking at the books, but instead was staring straight at the obviously confused sprite. Instantly, Matrix's defenses were up. He didn't like anyone staring at him with this level of interest. It had ended poorly too many times in the past.

"You made it," the man said as Matrix slowed to a stop. "Welcome to the Databanks, Matrix."

"Have we met?" Matrix was already weirded out by this man knowing his name. Unless he was an inhabitant of an island in the Vasty Deep, there was no reason he should be recognized.

"No, not yet." the man admitted. "But I was hoping we would. I am the Librarian AI, overseer of the Databanks. I'm here to answer your questions."

"My questions? Why me?" Matrix asked in a confused tone, although he was slightly more at ease knowing who he was dealing with.

"Anyone's questions, really, as long as they come here" The Librarian admitted. "But your case is an interesting one. Come with me."

The Librarian turned and walked down a hallway. Matrix looked uneasy, but with little other means to get answers, he followed the elderly man. They entered a large, empty room. It lacked the decorations that a lot of the other rooms had, as there wasn't even a painting on any of the walls.

"What is this?" Matrix asked, looking around the blank room. It was a stark contrast to the volumes of information that could be found anywhere else in this massive building.

The Librarian raised a single hand, and suddenly the room changed. The walls, floor, and ceiling all appeared to break away, and they were standing on nothing but blue skies. Matrix was stunned by the sudden development, but when he looked down he got the biggest shock. It appeared that far below them was none other than his home city of Mainframe.

"Mainframe?!" Matrix stuttered out just barely. "But how?"

"No, it's just a visualization," the Librarian was quick to correct him. "This is the world you come from, the world you know. Everyone has a home from before the Omniverse, but yours is one of the more unique ones."

Matrix slowly paced to the side, looking down at his home, while also keeping an eye on the Librarian. He didn't interrupt, content to let the man explain all he would.

"Your home is not like many others. It exists entirely inside a computer. Not entirely unlike the Dataverse we stand in now, compared to the rest of the Omniverse," the Librarian explained. He paused to give Matrix a moment to process that, but the sprite merely crossed his arms. This was shocking to actually hear, but he did not say anything because he didn't want the explanation to stop. When Matrix said nothing, he continued. "What you haven't even begin to comprehend is what the games truly were."

"The games were a menace, and ruined my home and my life," Matrix responded, his tone not hiding his disdain for the dangerous natural phenomenon of his own realm. "That much is obvious."

"The games were inputted into your home by what you referred to as the User," The Librarian gently corrected him. "For fun, for pleasure."

"That was one of the rumors of why we dealt with the games," Matrix brushed off that conclusion. To him this was just another man explaining the unexplainable.

"It's the true one," the Librarian said. "To explain it in this land's terms, a user could be anyone with a Dataverse accessible device manipulating the realm from outside of it. Even you have done it in your short time here."

Matrix tilted his head as he tried to wrap his head around that statement. Everything he knew was just a tiny piece of a much larger world. It was replicated here, in a way, but he had access to all of it. Not the easiest thing to comprehend, and yet it all made sense.

"The games, anyway, are actual representations of countless other realities," the Librarian explained. "You have been given a glimpse to many other realms that people of the Omniverse hail from."

"They come from the games, like AndrAIa?" Matrix asked for clarification. After all, AndrAIa escaping from her game was an incredible feat, and the only one occurrence of such that he knew of.

"No, AndrAIa's game was a representation of another reality, without users and game laws," the Librarian clarified. "Somewhere there are people from that world, but they aren't digital like you and her."

Matrix shook his head. "I don't understand."

"Let me give you an example," the Librarian said in a warm tone, having foreseen that Matrix wouldn't be able to immediately comprehend these facts.

The helpful old man raised his hand again, and once again the room changed. They now stood on a war-torn, snowy tundra. Matrix held his hand up and watched as the snow hit it, yet he didn't feel cold. Sounds of battled echoed around them, and he looked to see soldiers clad in white fighting other soldiers. Ships flew overhead and giant metal war machines walked on two and four legs towards a massive generator. It was an unreal sight, but it didn't phase Matrix because he knew it well.

"Where are we?" the Librarian challenged the green skinned sprite.

"Level Eight. Battle of Hoth," Matrix replied without missing a beat. Many games were set to this universe, and he had become somewhat accustomed to the setting and technology. He'd never thought more about it than that.

"Ah, you see, the Battle of Hoth is a game's level to you. You've fought it many times on both sides. But, somewhere, in an entirely different realm, that battle happened, and it was a crucial turning point for a very real war. And yet, in another reality, it's just a game, a movie. Media," the Librarian explained. "And you, meanwhile, you come from a world where both of those things are true."

Matrix was beginning to understand the depths of the realities that Omni pulled people from. He watched again as the setting around the two of them changed again. Now they were in a destroyed street, with aliens of all sizes running past them.

"New Mombasa, level three," Matrix once again aced the test as he watched the Covenant forces disappear down an alleyway. "So people from the 'real' versions of these worlds are here in the Omniverse?"

"Precisely," the Librarian said. "You have a glimpse into many worlds, and also their powers."

"That doesn't matter," Matrix disagreed, double tapping his icon while he did. It beeped, but nothing more happened. "It's not like I can reboot and download game data here. Even if I know their powers and abilities, I can't utilize them myself, anymore."

"You have to think bigger, Matrix," the Librarian smiled. "With Omnilium, you can do exactly that. You can utilize all of your best powers and abilities from the games, and combine them with your normal abilities. The fact is, Matrix, that you have more potential in this realm than ever before."

Matrix held out his open palm before himself, and allowed a small orb of Omnilium to emerge from it. As it hovered before him, he thought of all the abilities and techniques from the various games he had participated in that he wanted to keep after it ended. Now he could. Not only that, he realized why he recognized certain species on Cinnabar. He had seen them all in games before.

"But be warned, Matrix," the Librarian said, getting Matrix's attention once again. "You know the worlds and the people in them. You even understand the laws that govern those realms, to an extent. You don't know the intricacies, though. No game can give you that."

"What do you mean?" Matrix asked, now hungry for information. His eyes had been opened and he wanted to know it all, now.

"You know the Jedi, not the Jedi code. You know the various mutant powers, but you don't know the persecution they face," the Librarian explained. "Those details are just as important, because they govern how people use their abilities. A game takes all the rules out of the equation."

"I think I understand," Matrix said, clenching a fist and absorbing the Omnilium back into himself.

"I'm sure it will take a bit. I welcome you to stay and learn all you desire from these archives," the Librarian AI said as the African city faded away, and they were back in an empty room.

"Thanks. Thanks for everything," Matrix said with a nod. He was genuinely appreciative of this knowledge he had been given, which was certainly a rarity for an anti-social type like him.

"Of course," the kind old man said as he walked past Matrix, and departed out the door.

Matrix stood in the empty room for a few moments, processing the revelations that had been given to him. He only shook himself from his thoughts when he realized he needed to find AndrAIa and share this information with her. The Librarian AI was simply one source of information, but he believed the man. It all made sense, in a surreal sort of way.

Exiting the room, Matrix walked back down the hallway he had come from, finding his way back to the large, open room he had split from AndrAIa in. He looked around, and then up. She was standing in front of a bookshelf on a balcony a story up from him, reading a book. Frisket, meanwhile, was curled up by her feet, incredibly bored by these proceedings. Matrix smiled for a moment as he watched her intently study the book, but then gave a sharp whistle.

AndrAIa turned and looked down at him curiously, and he simply waved her down. She closed the book and put it back on the shelf, while Frisket stood back up. Although Matrix expected his girlfriend to go find the stairs and walk down to him, he was surprised when she placed her hand on the railing and vaulted over it. She gracefully landed in front of him, not phased in the least by landing on her high heels. Matrix was amazed every time she managed to move so easily in those things. Frisket, meanwhile, let out a bark and ran off to find the stairs.

"I was reading a fascinating book about Coruscant's tier systems," AndrAIa sarcastically said, but then her tone shifted to a more curious one. "Did you find something out that fast?"

"I ran into the head of this place, he explained a lot to me," Matrix briefly surmised. "About how the games we played are representations of other realities, and how we're from the 'Dataversere' of our own world."

"Then...my game is...?" AndrAIa immediately thought back to her own underwater world.

"Somewhere, that's a real world. There may even be people from it here in the Omniverse," Matrix nodded.

AndrAIa was floored by that revelation. She thought about her place of origin every so often, but never about meeting anyone from it. She'd left it behind, after all. The first thing that came to her mind, though, was meeting people from the real world that her game was a copy of. Even more terrifying, was a there a more complete and better version of herself out there?

"You alright?" Matrix asked, noticing her head sink a bit. "I know it's a lot to process."

"I...yea," AndrAIa decided not to bother Matrix with that. Even if there was a more real version of herself out there, it didn't mean Matrix was going to run off with her or anything.

Frisket joined them, letting out another bark as he did and earning some annoyed glances from the other patrons of the Databanks. AndrAIa forced a smile up, while Matrix returned an equally hostile look to some of the researchers.

"Come on, let's go then," AndrAIa decided. She needed some air anyway. "You can explain it all on the way back."

"Alright," Matrix agreed, then looked down to Frisket. "Come on boy, let's go home."

The three of them began to depart. All of a sudden, however, a wave of disorientation shot through Matrix's head. Balance became a chore, and he stumbled to the side, knocking over a chair and slamming one hand onto a table as he struggled to stay on his feat.

"Matrix!?" AndrAIa looked over in surprise and worry. She didn't know what had come over him. "Are you alright?!"

Matrix looked up to AndrAIa, struggling with even his own speech. He couldn't muster out the truth, which was that he had no idea what was happening. AndrAIa grabbed him by the shoulders to help steady him, but he weighed far too much for the far more lithe girl to effectively maneuver.

His vision began to fade, and he got a glimpse of Frisket looking at him in concern, but also scanning the room to see if there was a hidden threat nearby. Matrix then looked up, making eye contact with AndrAIa. To say she looked scared was an understatement.

He tried to reach a hand out to touch her, but his vision was fading. AndrAIa was screaming his name, but it became quieter and quieter each time.

Soon, there was only darkness and silence.

Quote:Matrix has departed for the Graveyardverse.

It had floored AndrAIa to see her boyfriend disappear in a burst of Omnilium, all of a sudden. What was even scarier was that no one in the Databanks had the slightest clue what had happened to Matrix. He was gone in the most unusual manner, and no one could understand why.
If there was a silver lining, it was that it happened in the Databanks. If it had to happen at all, the reasoning as to why would be in these archives. So, while Frisket searched the massive building on the off chance he was still around, AndrAIa was scouring through books and files, looking for any precedent of such an occurrence. All she managed to find were reports of other primes vanishing in a similar manner, recently.
She felt sick. This entire place was a nightmare. They were subject to the whims of an unseen higher power that appeared to enjoy toying with them. Just as they’d gotten a grasp on this world, they’d been thrown another curveball.
AndrAIa sighed, and put down the book she was reading. There was nothing useful in here. She looked over to see Frisket returning, the canine member of the team looking sad to have no results. AndrAIa gave the dog a reassuring smile, but then looked to the exit. There was nothing more they could do here, so now it made sense to just get out. If Matrix was a prime, then he was supposedly guaranteed a rebirth at the Fountain of Infinity. That was, of course, assuming that he’d actually died. Either way, if there was one thing they all knew, it was how to return to their home at Cinnabar. So, it made sense to return there to regroup and ask their neighbors, and also quietly hope he would turn up.
“Come on, boy,” AndrAIa said to Frisket, making her way towards the hallway that lead to the exit. The dog simply barked and began to follow her.
As they were departing, AndrAIa jumped in surprise when Sesa entered the room, looking somewhat confused. AndrAIa had forgotten all about their tour guide in the aftermath of Matrix’s unusual departure. She just shook her head and gathered her thoughts again.
“AndrAIa?” Sesa looked concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“Matrix vanished, I have no idea how or why,” AndrAIa quickly explained. “One second he was here, then he collapsed in pain, and then he was gone.”
“What...?” Sesa asked as she processed the woman’s fast rambling. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
“No one has, from what I’ve gathered, here,” AndrAIa answered in a hurry.  “Sesa, I’m sorry, but we really need to go. We’ve got to find out what happened to him.”
“Wait, where are you going?” Sesa asked in confusion as AndrAIa and Frisket brushed past her. “AndrAIa?”
AndrAIa stopped and turned, but Frisket kept moving. “We’ll go home, first, and try to figure out something from there. If we come back to the Dataverse, I’ll contact you. We really appreciate all your help. I’m sorry, I’m just a little frazzled right now.”
Sesa could see that was a bit of an understatement, so she just nodded.
“Okay, good luck,” the Majin replied somewhat slowly, then watched silently as AndrAIa took off after Frisket.
AndrAIa stopped outside the Databanks next to Frisket, who looked up at her with concern. She felt the knowing fear and uncertainty, but tried to stay focused. She produced a small device that Matrix had given her, and hit a button on it. Supposedly this would return her to their home on Cinnabar, though it would take some time to warm up.
Ten minutes passed as the device powered up. Just as she thought it was broken, or stalled, it would change and make a new noise. Finally, though, it let out a beep to signal that it was ready. AndrAIa knelt down beside Frisket and put her arm around him, to make sure he stayed with her. Then, with no other reason to stay here, she pushed the button again and activated the recall, sending the two of them back to Cinnabar Island, and the Vasty Deep.

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