Codebearers

For laughs, I will be posting ALL my old Dimension Team stories from the old site unedited for critique and history's sake. I will do the ACTUAL Dimension Team stories first (including -hopefully-finishing the one I started before the old site went down), then the first two Cyberchase fanfics, and then we shall see what happens. Enjoy!

Dimension Team

Story 1

 

 Panic. That's what's keeping me moving even though every fiber in my being feels like it's been pulled apart. I lean against a wall to rest. Then, I hear it, “You, make think that you can run from me, but I will find and destroy you!!! You and all those like you!”

“Jereth!” I think to myself. I painfully continue to run down the dark corridor. I glance at my watch. “10 minutes to system sweep. I need to get to a place where I can get a portal signal to send me and J back home before it hits. Or we are both in serious trouble.” I think to myself. Ever since we learned that this sweep was going to happen about two days ago, we've been preparing for it, but Jereth's surprise attack has everything in a muddle. Not only are J and I in trouble, but Jereth has the cyber-control center in self-destruct mode. Jereth knows that when the sweep strikes that he will I can sense Jereth and his forces close behind me. I try to speed up, but the sweep's start-up sequence is affecting me. Since I'm not “registered” in the system, I'm being considered a danger that needs to be destroyed. “The same will happen to J if I don't hurry!” The only reason I'm in agony is because of the cyber-matrix fused within my being. But, this will get to him soon. Not only are J and I in danger, but the cyber-control center is set to self-destruct thanks to the fiend tracking me. This sweep will also rid the cyber-realm of Jereth forever. Even though J and I may never be able to physically return, it's a comfort to know that the greatest danger will never plague this dimension again. As I round a corner, I hear a rating noise. I just do see a heating duct slip out of place and crash through the floor in front of me. I quickly skid to a stop. There is a gaping hole in the floor surrounded by fire! I need to get to the other side to get a strong enough signal to transport us to the real world. But how could I...

“Karen!?!” It sounds like J. But, it can't be.

“J!?!” I called back. I could vaguely see him on the other side of the gap.”What are you doing!?!”

“I came to get you. Everyone else has evacuated except us.”

I look behind me. I can see the shadows of Jereth and his companions coming. “J, you need to get out of here! I can't a portal lock from here! I-”

“Where's the closest place that you could get a lock!?!”

“Where you're standing!” Jereth just rounds the bend. “J! You have got to leave! Jereth is right behind me!”

“I'm not leaving you! You're going to have to jump!”

“What!?! I can't do that far a leap! Even with a cyber-matrix dispersion!”

“You're going to have to try!”

Fear has me in its grip. My watch beeps. One minute till sweep. If I can't get a lock to create a portal at least for J.... I make up my mind. I'm going to jump. I take a few steps backward. I run forward and leap! The flames suddenly grow larger. I scream as I pass through....

 

I sit up to find myself in my own bed. I look around still breathing heavily. I try to look at the time. I can't. Too blurry. I feel around for my glasses. I find them and put them on. 2:30 am. “It was a dream. Just a dream,” I tell myself. I lie down again. “Oh, Lord, help me with these nightmares.” I pray as I try to fall asleep again.

..................................................................................................................................

The first rays of sunlight peep through the curtains. I open one eye and look around my room. It takes me a moment to remember that I'm not in my bedroom at home in the Gaston Hills, but at my dorm at Darkwing University, a very prestigious college about a hour dive from home. I hear something. I smile as I quickly fake being asleep. I hear the padding of 12 feet coming from the hall. I hear them come closer and faster. I sit up in bed as my three pets jump up on me. “Macky! Circuits! Charlie! That's enough! Cut is out!” I laugh as pets show their affection. “Okay, let me up or I can't get your breakfast.” They quickly get off. I look at the clock display over my computer station. 6:05 am. “I need to get you guys something to snack on and get ready for work. Today's an important day,” I say as I walk over to the kitchenette in the corner. I get Charlie his Puppy Chow, Circuits his Galactic Bits, and Macky his Ice Borer Delight. “Bon appetite!” They quickly chow down as I activate the replicator. I place my special tea cup inside as I make my order, “Tea. K Special, please.” As my drink is being served, I think about my nightmare and the events afterward. “It's been a month since the system sweep,” I sigh. “Jereth is no longer a threat to Internet users, that's for sure. I think it's worth not being able to enter the inner Cyber-realm again as long as they only have the dense antics of Hacker instead of the destructive forces of that...killer.” The replicator beeps. I pull out my tea. I breathe in the intoxicating aroma of extra vanilla. I take a sip. “Perfect!” I say to the replicator. “Thanks, Amber.”

“You're welcome, but do really need all that vanilla?” my computer system asks.

“Yes, it's a childhood thing.” I reply.

“Alright, what do you want for breakfast?”

“I think I'll just grab a granola bar. Uncle Jacks and I have some last minute touches before the 'others' arrive.”

“Okay, what kind?”

I pause in mid-sip. “What do you think?”

“Vanilla-cranberry, right?”

“That's right! She can be taught!” The computer laughs over our little joke.

“Okay, but one of these days, I'm going to make you a real breakfast.”

“We will see, Ms. Amber. We will see.” I finish my tea, put the cup in the dishwasher, and put up the pets' food bowls. I look at the time. 6:30 am. “I need to get ready to roll. Uncle Jacks will be up in about ten minutes.” I rush to get my shower done and get dressed.

..........................

“There!” I say as I look in the mirror. I look over my outfit of black sneakers, black jeans, black long-sleeve tee covered by my navy blue “Seniors 2009” T-shirt, and black apple-jack hat. “I think I'm ready.”

“Not quite,” Amber says.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Your C-phone?”

“Right,” I quickly snatch up my sliver Motorazr, slip it into its black holster, and clip it to my jeans.

“Now you ready.”

I look at the clock. 6:45 am. “Time to face the world.” I say to myself. “Circuits,” I call to my techno-dog. He walks over. I rub his blue metalic back as I tell him, “You're in charge while I'm out, understand.” He barks. “Good boy. Charlie, Macky, when I get back, I better not find this place trashed again, got that?” The puppy yips as the dragon gives a light roar. “Okay, I'm off!” Before I exit, I notice a picture on the table next to the door. I pick it up. It's a picture of me with my best friends on a mission in Cyberia. Well, my only friends. “I miss you guys,” I whisper to the boys in the picture. I place it back on the table. I square my shoulders. “Lord,” I pray, “Bless us all this day, and may Your Will be done in all things. Amen.” I open the door and step out into the hall.

 

I close the door behind me. I walk to the rail and look down at the ground floor five stories down. I look around at the nameplates on the other doors on my floor. To the left and right of my room, these nameplates are empty since the only people here are Uncle Jacks, his assistant Joshua Pearson, and me. Ever since the system sweep a month ago, I've been here at Darkwing helping Uncle Jacks get the new dorms and other facilities ready for the most dangerous mission ever launched: The development of a team of gifted individuals to protect all time, space, and dimensions.

“Well, up early, aren't we?” a husky voice from behind asks.

“It is an important day,” I reply as I turn around to face Joshua, a middle-aged African-American. Joshua walks up next to me.

“It's hard to believe that's it time, isn't it?” He asks me as he adjusts his shades.

“Yeah, soon this place will be filled by gifted individuals of all races and dimensions. Is it true that we have at least 4 fourth-dimension controllers enrolled for this year?”

“Yep. Now you can really say 'I can see right through you' and mean it.”

“You say that about me and mean it,”

“Yes, but you can't stay transparent long enough for a person to finish the sentence. They only get to say “I can-” before you become solid again so they have to make up the rest like 'I can- do the twist' or 'I can-not get the nerve up to ask my Biology partner to go out with me.'”

I giggle. Joshua still likes to make me laugh as much in this world as in the Cyber realm.

“I can't believe how much can happen in a month.”

“Neither can I.” I turn around to see Uncle Jacks walking up behind us.

“Good morning, Uncle,” I greet the balding gentleman.

“The same to you both,” he wraps me up in a big bear hug. “So, are we ready?”

“For the most part,” Joshua replies. “ We still need to do a final test on some of the computer systems. And, Karen still needs one more bio scan done on her before we can declare her 'safe'.” I make a face. I  hate being put in the scanner. I don't care for small spaces.

“Well, we better get a move on then. They should start coming in about two hours,” Uncle Jacks orders.

Joshua and I start to walk away. “Oh, and Karen,” I turn around. “I need you at my office when you're done, understood?”

“Yes, sir,” I reply. Joshua jumps over the guardrail and lands on his feet on the ground floor below.

“Show off!” I shout down at him before jumping over myself. I do a fancy somersault just before I land.

“Look who's talking,” Joshua jeers me. We both laugh as we walk out of the dorm building and head for the medical lab building.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

I shake my head as I watch those two walk off. I walk over to a panel in the wall behind me and remove a small board. Behind it, are several labeled switches, and I flip the one labeled “elevator”. Unlike my helpers, I don't quite care for “dangerous feats” like they do. Two more panels next to me separate to reveal a hidden elevator. I step inside and press the button marked for my office as the doors close. Within seconds, the doors open to reveal my office waiting outside. I step into the luxurious room. I take a moment to look out the large bay window at the empty grounds before I seat myself at my desk. The grounds seem so peaceful. It's hard to believe that within moments this place will be crawling with all sorts of “special” individuals. My personal computer boots up.

“Good morning, Dr. Jacks,” Amber, our computer system, greets me.

“The same to you, Amber. Recharge well?”

“Quite well, sir. How may I assist you this morning?”

“Just need to review the records of those who are signed up, please.” I look over the names on the list of students and faculty. The list seems to grow longer each time I view it. A certain name catches my attention. “Amber, have you heard back from the Anders lately?”

“They called last night, sir.”

“And?”

“They said that they shall be here this morning, sir.”

“Great, And, please, stop calling me 'sir.'”

“Yes, sir.”

I grimace. Even though she is a computer, she's as stubborn as a human female.

“What about Sir Mitchels?”

“He's to arrive this afternoon, sir.”

“Good. Whatever happens don't let Karen know he's coming. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. But, may I ask why?”

“I have my reasons, Amber.” I chortle like a mischievous little boy. “Karen is going to get a real kick out of this!”

.....................................................................................................................................................................

“Joshua, how much longer!?!”

“Just keep still. And keep your hands palm up!”

I try to stay still, but it feels like the walls of this CAT scanner are going to collapse on me! I know it's just my head playing tricks but.....

“Joshua!!!!!”

“Okay, we're done. I'll let you out in a jiffy.”

“Good!” I lie impatiently as the bed I'm laying on begins to move. Suddenly, it jerks to a halt.

“Joshua!!!!!”

I hear the sounds of levels being flipped, and buttons being pushed, “I don't understand it.”

“What?” I ask.

“The controls are jammed! I can't get you out! Oh, what shall we do!?!”

I lie in annoyed silence. After several seconds, I speak up, “Joshua, I know your kidding.”

Silence.

“You do?” Joshua slowly asks.

“Yes, of course I do! I can sense you holding the release lever in between the 'on' and 'off' positions.”

More silence.

“Let me out, please.”

He finally lets me out.

“Thank you,” I say as I get up. “Let's look at the results.”

“Results of what?”

I glare up at Joshua.

“Okay, you aren't in a joking mood right know. Ahem. Well, let's see what the results are.”

We walk over to a large computer console. Joshua flicks a few levers and types a couple of commands before we reach the data from my scans. Joshua and I review the rows of numbers, multiple charts, and other data.

“What do you say, Josh?” I ask. “Am I 'safe'?”

Joshua stares at the console screen for a couple more seconds. He turns toward me. His face is emotionless, and I can't tell what is in those eyes behind the shades. “According to this, your cyber magnetism levels are back to normal so you are definitely safe.”

“No more sticking to anything metallic when you disengage the inverter?” Flashbacks of sticking to anything metallic flash through my head. The system sweep somehow cause the cyber components in my DNA to become a giant magnet. If it wasn't for the anti-magnet sheilding that we have surrounding the school to block any “unseen eyes”, I would be a real life “Magneto”.

“Absolutely,” he replies as he flips a switch on the console. “Inverter  is now off for good.”

“Splendid, Josh,” a voice over the intercom calls.

“Thank you, Professor Jacks!” Joshua calls back.

“Now that you seem to be through with my grandniece, I could use her at my office while you open the front gate. The time of truth has arrived.”

“Yes, sir. We are off to do our bidding.”

“Good, Jackson out.”

Joshua turns toward me, “Well, we better get moving.”

“Wait!” I interrupt. “We still have one more thing to do.”

“What would that be?”

I uncover my left wrist. On it are several hundred scales in a rather unidentifiable shape. “My vaccination. You said that we would put on the rest of the dragon scales for time-poisoning on today. We already did the ones for Avenger's sickness and D-6 influenza.”

“Right. I forgot. Well, let's get that done. You still want the patch in the shape of a seven?”

“Yes, for the seven dimensions and for the sabbath day.”

.....................................................................................................................................................................\

About a half hour later, I find myself in the waiting area outside of Uncle Jacks office. He's talking with one of the new teachers. My wrist still smarts from Joshua lasering the rest of the scales in place.

My eyes start to wander around the luxurious waiting room. You can tell that the theme color is midnight blue. The tile floor, drapes, and the upholstered chairs are mere reflections of each other. 

My eyes land on a young boy of about fifteen  across the room from me. His unruly chestnut hair falls over his face almost hiding his gray eyes. I examine him closely from under the brim of my hat. I can tell that he seems to be watching me as well. For some reason, this kid seems familiar, but I don't know why. Soon, the door to Uncle Jacks office opens.

“Well, Mr. Ander, I'm sure that your son will have the finest schooling here.”

“That's the only reason I would bring him here,” Mr. Anders jokes. “And the job and housing a great pluses too!”

“Ah, this young man must be your son.”

“The oldest one, anyway,” Mr. Anders motions for the young man to come closer. “This is Alex.”

“Well, hello, Alex.”

“Hi,” Alex mumbles. It's easy to tell that they're father and son. Their eyes give it away.

“He's a little...shy,” Mr. Ander explains.

“I completely understand,” Uncle Jacks replies, looking in my direction. I know that he's talking about me. “Well, I'll let you two get settled. We've got a long semester ahead.”

As the Anders head off to the dormitory, Uncle Jacks motions for me to come into his office.

......................................................................................................................................................................

Well, I'm glad to see that the Anders will be staying with us for the semester. Mr. Anders is one of the finest Math and Physics teachers in the country. Not to mention the only 3rd dimension dweller that would even think about joining up with us. He and his son will be valuable assets to our project.

Karen enters, rubbing her bandaged wrist.

“Sorry for the delay, Uncle,” she apologizes. “I had to get the last of the scales on.”

“I understand.”

“I still don't quite get why I just can't get a shot like everyone else. I know it has something to do with me being part Ice Elf, but that's it.”

I chuckle. “Well, it goes farther than that. You also know that you are also part Athletican who are known for their warmer climates.”

“I didn't know that.”

“Well, because these two are at opposite ends of the DNA spectrum, Ice elves are suited for harsh cold while Athleticans are qualified for temperate to extreme temperatures, their DNA enzymes can  conflict with each other, such as your habit of wearing long sleeves even when it's 100+ degrees outside.”

“So, how do the dragon scales help?”

“Well, both were known for their dragons, and their dragons were know for interbreeding. These “hybrids” were, in turn, known for their scales. The scales contain medical enzymes that were known for treating DNA discrepancies. However, the enzymes can't be extracted. Don't ask me why because I don't know why. So, the people, when they started to intermarry like your ancestors, would use these scales to help the individual to function normally. Understand?”

“I...think so.”

“Good.”

“So, how many kids have come in yet?”

I type in a few passkeys and come up with the info, “Apparently, we've had 109 students and 45 faculty  members arrive and sign in as now. Joshua and Amber must be having fun right now.”

“I bet they are,” my grandniece replies.

“Excuse me,” Amber cuts in.

“Yes, Amber?”

“A Sir Mitchels is here to see you.”

“Send him in,” I can't wait to see how Karen handles this one.

......................................................................................................................................................................

“'Sir' Mitchels?” I ask. “Why does that name bring back so many memories?”

“There are many people by that name,” my uncle comments. “It is rather popular.”

I stare at my uncle. It all sounded suspicious to me. He's hiding something. I know it. I'd mind-probe him, but that was never my specialty.

“Just because your friend J has the same last name doesn't mean that it's him,” he reminds me. My mind goes back to the last time I saw J Mitchels alive. It was just before the system sweep. I don't even know if I got him out in time. That has been haunting me for all this time. Oh, how I miss him!

I still think Uncle's keeping something from me. I glance up at the clock on the wall behind my uncle.

“Oh, shoot! I forgot that I need to take Macky to his playdate! We're going to be late.”

“Be careful,” Uncle Jacks warns me. “Those critters haven't been fed yet, and they may see you as a tasty snack.” He always says that, but they haven't even tried to take a nibble out of me yet.

“Okay, I'll be careful.” I walk over to the concealed elevator. “Mind if I use this?”

“Go right ahead.”

“Thanks.” I quickly step inside. As the doors close, a weird robotic voice asks, “Destination, please?”

“Amber, you know where I need to go.”

“Fine, room 504 coming up.” Within seconds, the doors open to reveal my dorm room on the other side. “Macky! Time for your playdate!” I call from the elevator. The young dragon comes running, but stops short at the elevator. He looks up at me with his large, silvery eyes.

“I know you don't like riding in the elevator, but we really need to get there fast!” Macky whimpers. I let out an exasperated sigh as I drag the large fellow in and close the doors.

“Cyberian cavern, please,” I tell Amber. The doors open out into a large cavern made out of crystals of all shapes, sizes, and colors. To think that this place is hidden under the parking lot. Macky takes off like a shot. He knows where we're going. I follow behind him. He heads for a small tunnel just ahead. On the other side is an even larger chamber filled with real Cyberian/Athletican dragons. Those of the Cyberian line look as if their scales are pure silver. Athletican dragons are bright red with what looks like diamond studs on their wings. The hybrids range from dark pink to a sorta pale blue. The dragonettes surround Macky, ready to play. One of the adults walks up to me.

“Hello, Briana,” I greet the large gray dragon. “Enjoying the company?”

Briana rubs her large head against my shoulder. I can tell she's happy to see me. The other adults come up to me. “Hi, Madison, Charger, Blane, MarQuis.” The adults get close for their share of the attention. It is truly amazing to actually see real dragons. I bet you can tell that Madison and Briana are the only adult girls in the group. Charger and Blane are twins, even though you couldn't tell it. Charger is silverish-gold and likes to be in command while Blane is albino and is rather reserved. MarQuis is the shyest adult in the group even though he's the most brightly colored. I spend the next half-hour feeding and grooming the adults while the kids play.

I ponder this “Mitchels” mystery as I work. “Why do I feel that this 'Sir Mitchels' is the one I know?” I ask Madison as I scrub her light blue scales. “I mean, I guess it could be another person by the same last name, but....I guess I just miss J, that's all,” I sigh. “Just because J has the title 'Sir Mitchels' doesn't mean that this person is him, right?” I get back to work and push this puzzle far from my mind.

“Ashton, Darrel, Logan, Justice, Macky, Shaheed, Sprite, come here!” I call the kids, who are testing out their wings. I need to feed and groom them before I head upstairs to help Uncle Jacks and Joshua with the “new recruits”. Ashton, bright gray like her Mama, has the commanding spirit of her father. Her spirit is apparent in the way she swoops in first to the feeding trough. Darrel and Logan are identical twins. The only way to tell these blueish-green dragons apart is that Logan has the Athletican studs on his wings while his brother doesn't. Justice is the oldest of the dragonettes. This bright silver dragon is also the most gentle one in the bunch. Shaheed, a dark red dragon, is a bit of a trickster, but Ashton seems to keep him line. Sprite is the youngest. Her pale green scales gleam with a mystical light as she comes in for a landing. After they eat, I smoothen their scales and check their wings to make sure they're growing correctly. “Come on, Macky. Time to go home,” I call to my pet. Macky slowly walks away from his friends and follows he back to the elevator. I take him back to my dorm. I quickly get my dogs their lunch. “Okay, you play nice now with Charlie and Circuits,” I remind Macky. “I need to see if I can help Uncle Jacks and Joshua.” I get back inside the elevator.

“Admissions building, please.” This trip takes a little longer than the others. The admissions building is across campus unlike my Uncle's office which is in the building next door. The elevator doors open, but instead of Admissions, I'm in the room designed for midevil armed combat classes. Swords, quarter staffs, and morning stars line the walls.

“Amber, I think you made a mistake.” No answer. The electric systems must be out of sync. I decide to walk the rest of the way since I'm only a building away. I walk out of the PE/Science building. The campus grounds are swarming with students, professors, and the like. They all seem to be normal individuals, but I know that some are in disguise. I quickly make my way over to the Admissions building. Upon entering the crowded hall, I see my Uncle talking to whom I guess to be a student. Uncle Jacks notices me a motions for me to come over. I try to make my way through the packed room.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

“I'm so glad that you chose our school, Mr. Mitchels,” I tell the young man next to me.

“I'm glad to be here too, sir,” he replies quietly.

 I look to see if my grandniece is making her way over. Yep, she is. I can't wait to see how she reacts to this!

......................................................................................................................................................................

Trying to get through this crowd is like trying to swim against a tidal wave! I seem to be doing good. Usually, I trip over everything in a situation like this. Unfortunately, as I get closer, I trip over something and fall into the arms of the individual that Uncle Jacks is talking to. The guy helps me back on my feet. This is embarrassing, I think to myself. I can feel my cheeks redden.

“I'm so sorry! I-” I stop short as I look into the guy's face. I'm not sure if my face is red from embarrassment of white from shock. I can't believe who I fell into!

......................................................................................................................................................................

 As they get a good look at each other, their faces go white from shock. I didn't know that she was going to fall in his arms like that! Well, at least she knows who the guy is and Sir Mitchels knows her.

“Sir Mitchels, I'm sure you know Lady Shivoski,” I say. The two of them just stare wide-eyed at each other.

......................................................................................................................................................................

“J?” my mind asks. “Is it....I mean, can it really....I...” J. Jonathan Mitchels helps me to my feet. I can't believe he's here! I was so scared that I would never see him again! I didn't even know if he survived. As soon as I got out of the Cyber Realm, I was taken to Darkwing and had no communications with the outside world, save my parents who work on and around the campus. I just stare into the face of my only real friend. I'm so shook up that I can't speak a word.

“Well, Mi'lady,” Uncle Jacks breaks in, “I was about to show Sir Mitchels to his room. Would you care to join us?” I see Uncle Jacks give us a sly smile.

“Of....course,” I slowly answer. “Uh, that is, if you don't mind 'Sir Mitchels'.”

“Fine with me,” J answers. Uncle Jacks ushers us toward another hidden elevator tucked away behind a mural near the back of the building. As Uncle Jacks walks in, J gives me the “silence” signal. I don't understand why, but I discretely nod my head in compliance. After J and I get in and the doors close, Uncle Jacks tells Amber to take us to the top floor of the dorm house.

“We've reserved one of the finest rooms for you, Sir Mitchels,” Uncle Jacks informs J.

“Thank you,” J quietly replies.

I steal a glance at J. He hasn't changed much. He's still as handsome as ever!

.....................................................................................................................................................................

We travel in silence. This isn't what I thought it would be. I was sure that those two would be talking up a storm since it's been so long. Well, at least there here together. A large part of the success of this place depends on those two being together. And now that Mr. Anders' son is here as well, it's only a matter of time.

The elevator opens up into the top floor of the dormitory. Ah! It looks like Joshua took care of that little bit of business I asked him to do.

......................................................................................................................................................................

As we step out of the elevator, I steal another glance at J. He does the same. Our eyes lock for a brief  moment. I quickly divert my gaze as Uncle Jacks speaks up.

“Here you are, Sir Mitchels. Your room.”

I look up. The nameplates on the rooms on either side of mine now have names on them. The one to the right as the name “J. Mitchels” engraved on it. The one to the left has.....Am I reading this right? “A. Anders?” Alex Anders is living up here?

Uncle Jacks opens the door to J's room and hands J the key.

“Here you are. Make yourself at home. I must be off now, but I'll leave Miss Shivoski here with you to help show you around. If that's alright, of course.”

“Fine with me, sir,” J quietly replies.

“Good,” Uncle Jacks turns to walk away. “Oh. By the way, I do hope that you will join her Ladyship and me for dinner tonight in my quarters.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. I'll let the cook know.” And with that, Uncle Jacks steps into the elevator and is gone! J and I enter J's new room. As soon as we get inside, J sets down his suitcase and turns toward me.

“He was kidding about the cook, wasn't he?”

“Sorta,” I reply. “He's the cook around here. When the computer system isn't doing it, that is.”

J smiles, “That's what I figured.”

I smile back. I feels good to be together again. “I'm so glad to see you again, J. I was worried that...”

“I know,” He interrupts. “I know, but the plan worked. We shut down the game, and no one else will be hurt like that again.”

My mind wanders back to when we had to shut down the game.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

Let me explain what this is all about. The reason behind it all was Jereth. Jereth was a cyber-programing issue gone wrong. The game, Cyber-realm, was created as an educational role-playing game many years ago. Kids joined by the thousands just to try to match wits of other kids as well as the large array of computer villains. I should know, I was one of the kids who joined during its height of fame. However, the programmers, including Uncle Jacks, the game's creator, had no idea that something was terribly amiss. One character designer had designed Jereth as a minor villain, but the design was rejected. The designer got so mad that he secretly programed Jereth to enter the game after a certain length of time. However, no one found out about it till it was too late. The Jereth character merged with one of the children characters, John Trojan, during a terrible accident. However, we didn't know it. We just thought that the kid was going evil. This character was so powerful that when it merged it caused something weird to happen to the internet in general. Suddenly, certain kids were able to physically enter the game and even take objects from the game into the real world. Then, certain kids, namely me, could bring their game powers to the real world! (Trust me, when you start reading people's minds for real and you can throw your pesky brother in the trash can by just thinking about it, you know something's up.)Soon after that, certain characters from the game were coming through too. That's when Jereth became a reality. Jereth totally destroyed John Trojan, a high ranking character, and entered the real world. He was easily thwarted at the time. I should know because I was the one who did it. Yep, me, a 14-year-old girl at he time, with help from one of the game characters who had entered the real world sent the guy running back to the game. And he didn't give us anymore trouble, for a while. However, four years later, Jereth was growing in power, and rumor had it that he had a way to escape the game and enter the real world again. I was hired by Uncle Jacks and the game manufacturers to destroy the game. We decided to tell the other gamers that a sudden “system sweep” was going to hit. That way, it would look like it was a game malfunction instead of the game being destroyed on purpose. To do so would require a great sacrifice on my part. If I didn't exit by the time the “system sweep” hit, I would be dead meat. J had decided to help too. He said that he could let me handle it alone.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

“Do you remember anything from that mission?” J asks.

“A little. I remember up to getting us out. Then, things black out, and then, I remember waking up in the Medical ward here on campus. According to Uncle Jacks, that's a three day memory lapse.” I shiver slightly. “But, I try not to think about it.”

“I understand.” J smiles at me. Suddenly, a rather loud ringing fills the building.

“Lunch bell?” J asks.

I nod. “Second lunch shift.”

“What?”

“It's kinda hard to explain.”

“I think that it would be better off to just get lunch and then talk about that.”

“Fine by me. My treat?”

“How could I refuse an offer like that?” J questions. So, we head off to the cafeteria across campus.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

As we walk, we chat about what's happened during our time apart. Somehow, the conversation turns toward a serious matter.

“Did we ever find out about Skyraptor?” J asks.

“Before his files were totally destroyed, I found out that he was an operated character, not a self-acting one. I just couldn't find out who was the operator.” I stare at the ground. “I really miss him.”

“I do too, even though I only new him for 16 weeks.”

“It's amazing what can change in 16 weeks.” I remark.

“And who knows what can happen in another 16. Looks like we're here.” J comments as we walk up to the cafeteria. “Let's eat.”

.....................................................................................................................................................................

As we enter, we find the place rather packed. Students and faculty alike cram the buffet line, and there isn't a spare table in sight!

“I'm guessing that it isn't always like this, right?” J asks, shouting above the din.

“Yep,” I answer.

We carefully make our way through the sea of hungry people, hoping that we don't end up as lunch for some 3rd Demensioner. Trust me, those guys will eat anything if they get hungry enough! Just as we get to the buffet line, the crowd starts to die down.

“So, how does this work?” J asks as he eyes the food line.

“Well, first you either swipe your “Free Lunch” card here,” I point to what looks like a credit card swiper. “Or just pay the machine five dollars. That covers the all the times you return to the bar and drink refills.”

“Cool.”

“It is.” I pull out my card. “I'll swipe for mine and pay for yours.” I finish the transaction and pull out two trays. “See, ea-Hey!” Two blond teen girls grab the trays from my hands and push their way into line. I just stand there stunned!

“That's a first,” J comments.

“Oh, boy,” I mumble.

“What?”

“I can only use my card once a day, and.....I don't have any extra cash.” I hold my head in my hands.

“Looks like lunch is my treat today,” J says as he hands me a $10.

“Thanks,” I quietly reply as I pay for our meal again. We make it through the line without a hitch.

“Uncle Jacks also has a weird seating policy,” I comment.

“How so?” J inquires.

“See those slots on the backs of the chairs? You have to swipe your card to save your seat.”

“Or pay five dollars?”

“No, fifty cents.”

“Eh, close enough.” We share a laugh as we approach a table close to the windows overlooking the grounds. Just as we pay for our seats though, the same girls push past us and sit down.

“Excuse me, but these are our seats,” J informs the duo.

“Not since they sat in them before we could,” I whisper to him.

“Sorry, but we called these first, so why not just buzz off!” one of the girls commands. The other snickers as she takes a sip of her soda.

“Let's go, J,” I whisper. As we walk away, my phone rings. I answer it.

“Hello?”

“K, it's Joshua. I need both of you to meet me in the teacher's lounge, ASAP.”

“But, we-”

“Bring your lunch.”

“Okay.” I hang up and turn to J.

“Let me guess, someone wants us?” J guesses.

“Yes.”

“Lead the way, Mi'lady,” J jokingly commands. He knows I don't like being called that or any other royalty title.

“But of course, Sir J.” We head out of the lunch room, down a corridor, and enter a lavish sitting room. Tables and upholstered chairs grace one-half of the room while a tv, ping-pong table, air hockey table, and vending machines fill up the other side.

“What is this place?” J asks.

“Teacher's lounge,” Joshua answers from one of the tables. “Or at least, it will be soon. Please sit down.” J and I each take a seat at the table with Joshua, who also has a food tray. After grace, Joshua brings up the matter of our lunchroom trouble.

“I see you met the daughters of the Emperor and Prime Minister of Phong Phen-78.”

“You mean those girls who-” I begin to ask.

“Yes, them,” Joshua cuts me off. “And, I assure you that they will get a strict talking to about it once they finish enjoying your 'generosity.' Besides, your uncle wanted you two to dine in here from now on.”

“Is that logical?” J asks. “This is the 'Teachers' Lounge'. Aren't we, like, unqualified?”

“Once you are briefed tonight you'll understand.” J turns to me, hoping for a clue. I shrug my shoulders. I don't get it either. He may be my uncle, but Uncle Jacks doesn't always keep me informed.

After lunch, Joshua takes J to help him finish the registration process. I head back to my dorm room. As I open the door, my pets come running.

“Hey, guys,” I say as I pet each one in turn. Suddenly, I notice something on the table by the door. A small bouquet of daffodils and irises. A small note is attached: “Glad to see you again.” Who could have done this? It couldn't have been J because he was with me during lunch, and he couldn't have gotten here before me. I wonder who my mysterious friend is.

......................................................................................................................................................................

“Alex! I could use a little help over here!”

“Coming, Dad!” Wow. I can't believe Dad landed a job here! Working with Professor Jackson, after what that guy did! Says he didn't know about the contaminated program in Cyber realm. Tried to make it right before others were hurt. Tell that to Karen! When she first came into the game, she was so shy and scared and just when she was being accepted, she gets turned mutant! For life! That is just not right! If I had half a mind..... Calm done, Alex, dude. You forgave that dude a long time ago. Still, I wish it didn't hurt K as it did! At least, I'm here to protect her! Thought that I would never find her again. She thinks I'm dead. I'll let her think that for now. She sure would be surprised once she learned that the Radster prince that she used to protect with her life was actually a 15 year-old kid who doesn't even own a skateboard! Much less knows how to use one. Hope she likes the flowers. She always did like daffodils and irises. Unlike other girls who prefer roses.

“Alex! We need to finish unpacking before we go to dinner!”

“Coming, pops!” This is going to be a rad adventure. Totally rad!

......................................................................................................................................................................

“So, we have no clue as to the florist deliverer?”

“No clues, Karen.” Joshua replies. I pace the living room of Uncle Jacks' dorm. Of all the dorms, this was the most lavish one. You would have thought you were in a mansion because everything is so luxurious! “Will you stop that. You'll wear a hole in the carpet!”

“I'm not on the carpet. I'm hovering above it!” I correct him.

“Coulda fooled me.” Joshua reviews the security tapes again. “no one has entered of exited your room besides you.”

“But the flowers couldn't have gotten there by themselves! There must be an explanation.”

“Your pets weren't acting weird either?”

“No, they didn't show any signs that an intruder had been there. If anything, they were a little excited. Like someone they knew had been there.”

“And it couldn't have been Sir Mitchels?”

“I don't think so. He was with me from lunch until you took him to the registration office to finish up business over there!”

“I'm afraid that this is one mystery I can't solve.” At that moment, Uncle Jacks walks in.

“Dinner is ready!” He announces as the doorbell rings. “And, just in time, too.” Uncle Jacks goes to the door to let Mr. Anders and Alex in. “Ah, Mr. Anders, Alex, so go to see the two of you!” As Uncle Jacks and Joshua lead them to the dining room, the doorbell rings again. “Karen, would you get that?” my uncle asks.

“Yes, sir,” I answer. I open the door to find J waiting. “Hi.”

“Hi, I guess I'm at the right place?”

“Yes, please come in.”

“Thank you. Wow, this place sure looks a whole lot bigger on the inside than the outside.” J comments as he examines the room. Uncle Jacks reenters.

“Ah, Sir Mitchels, so good of you to come. If you two would please make your way to the eatery, we can begin dinner!”

......................................................................................................................................................................

Wow, this place sure is fancy! I guess being a famous game designer brings in big bucks.

“Alex, if you would please sit here, and Mr. Anders, you have the seat next to your son.”

“Thank you, Joshua. Alex, sit down, please.”

“Sure, Dad.” I wonder where K girl is. I caught a glimpse of her in the reception room. There she is! And J too! They got him too, I guess. I wonder if he knew that she was here.

“Karen, here's your seat.”

“Thanks, Joshua.”

So, she's sitting......across from me!?! Yes!

“Sir Mitchels if you would please sit over here?”

J is next to me? Okay, I guess I can handle it. The three of us. Together again. They just don't know it yet. And they aren't going to find out either. Not in front of him! I wonder if he knows. I wonder if that's why Dad got the job. I wonder-

“Alex!”

“Yes, Dad?”

“Time for blessing.” All eyes are on me. This is embarrassing.

“Oh.”

......................................................................................................................................................................

“Delicious meal, as always, Uncle,” I compliment my uncle.

“Why thank you! It helps when you have the computer do it for you.” We all chuckle over that. We had finished our meal and were now lounging in the living room. Large, velvet-lined chairs are scattered around the room and a hologram firm flickers in the fireplace. A cozy feeling is in the air as if nothing unpleasant could disrupt it.

“I think it's time we discuss a very important matter: The reason I have you all here.”

Cozy feeling's gone.

“I'm sure you all know that I was the creator of Cyber realm, a game that I had intended to help not harm our society. However, there was another reason. You all know of the different creatures and the C-S Council?”

I knew that J and I knew that, but I wasn't sure about Alex. I glance in Alex's direction. He seems to be angered about something.

“Uncle, I don' think that we all do.”

“Actually, yes,” Mr. Anders answers. “I was a former employee, and Alex was a beta tester and character designer.”

“Really?” J and I ask in unison.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

Dad! Why did you have to go and say that for!

“Yes, I was.” I answer. How am I gonna get out of this!

“Anyway, the reason those characters were in the game was because they really exist.” Professor Jackson continues.

“You mean that-”

“Yes, J, they are real. The game was meant to help youngsters not only to learn important educational skills, but to also get them used to the idea that creatures like these do exist for they were to soon make their appearance. And they now have.” That's no shock!

“I think we know that,” Karen remarks.

“I know, but it can't be stressed enough. They are coming, and we need to be ready for them. There is also another reason. I'm afraid to say that Jereth may still be at large.”

“What!?!” Everyone shouts.

“I thought that shutting down the game would get rid of him!” I hear myself shout. Karen and J stare at me quizzically.

“I hoped so too, but he is dormant. However, if the game were ever restarted, he could escape again.”

“And K would whop him again,” I mutter under my breath.

“What was that, Sir Anders?”

“Nothing, sir.”

.....................................................................................................................................................................

That Alex may find himself asking for trouble if he interrupts me again.

“Jereth may never cause trouble again, but here's the thing. We never found the character designer. The company fired him for after finding out he was a selling secrets to other companies. Then, he just up and disappeared.”

“I remember trying to find him when this all started,” Karen whispers. I remember that too.

“So, how do we fit into this?” Alex asks.

“Well, all those in this room were involved in the game and know all about it. Which will be very important for this since all components will be used. Especially the vortex.” K and J's heads jerk up upon hearing this.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

“The vortex!” I shout. “I thought that they weren't possible.”

“They weren't, but now...” Joshua starts. I'm doubtful about this so I decide to test it. I create one of my famous cyber spheres. I had tried them in the real world before, but vortex spheres wouldn't work. Sure enough, the ball forms. I reabsorb the material. I turn to J in disbelief. J takes out one of his scribblers, a fountain pen that spews cyber matter instead of ink. He sets it to “vortex spread”. He presses down and a stream of matter spreads out of the room. As he turns it off, he turns to me and says, “I guess that proves it!” We turn our attention back to Uncle J.

“As I was going to say, the real C-S Council established a vortex connection earlier this week. Now, the C-S Council wants me to gather available members of the Cyber realm together to form what they are calling a 'Dimension Team'. They will be like a front-line defense against those who may try to attack us in the years to come.”

“So we are gonna be like a 'X-Men' sorta thing? A group of super-powered humans and freak characters brought together to protect the earth?” Alex asks.

“Not quite, at lest for you, young man. I had to have at least two commanding officers before I could start, and I now have them. That is, if Karen and J will take the job.”

.....................................................................................................................................................................

I watch the two glance at each other. I hope that they will say “yes”. They turn to me and say in unison, “We accept.”

“Good. You too are the only ones qualified for the job.”

“How so?” J asks.

“Well, anyone put in charge of this project who were part of the game and can control the vortex.”

“What about Alex?” Karen asks. I watch Alex squirm for a moment.

“I...almost could, but I wasn't quite there yet when the game shut down.” he finally stammers.

“You may have a chance to learn from our commander and commandress.”

“Especially 'Commandress J.'” Joshua jokes. He gets hit by a Level 1 cyber sphere. That's what he gets for angering the real commandress. K glares at him from across the room and then turns her attention back to me.

“As I was saying, you two will be the commanding officers, but I will be over you two and whoever makes it to the upper ranks. This school is to be a front to hide us from prying eyes as well as to be an educational facility for different dimension dwellers to come and learn.....”

.....................................................................................................................................................................

Uncle Jacks spends quite some time explaining explaining how the University was designed to be a kind of Dimension Neutral Zone. Dwellers from all 7 dimensions would come here for conventions as well as to live here. It would be a lot like the United Nations, except it would be the United Dimensions. J and I would be the leaders, but Uncle Jacks would be over us. He hoped to add others to our rank as soon as possible, but for now, the team included all those in the room: Uncle Jacks, Mr. Anders, Alex, Joshua, J, and me.

Around 9:30, we head to our rooms. I bid my “neighbors” goodnight as I enter my room. I get dressed for bed and put my pets to bed. Then, I try out my computer system. Shortly after I get on, an IM appears on the screen. It's from J.

“Want to audio chat?”

“Sure,” I type in reply. Soon, I hear J's voice loud and clear.

“Testing. Testing. Can you hear me?”

“Loud and clear, mi amigo. Que pasa?” We spend the next little while chatting about everything that had happened over the day.

“Hey,” J notices. “It seems that Alex is on.” I notice a symbol on the “chat screen” that gives that info.

“He sure is.”

“Think we should invite him into our chat?”

“Okay.” The invitation is soon given and accepted.  The three of us start talking about life at the school and such.

“Alex, you said that you were a character designer right?” I ask.

“Yeah,” Alex slowly answers.

“I was wondering. Did you ever meet Skyraptor's operator during your dealings?”

Just before he answers, an alarm goes off.

“What is that for?” J asks.

“Ten seconds till internet shutdown. I guess this is goodnight.” I say. Then, the screens shut down.

“Might as well go to bed,” I tell myself. As I get comfortable in my bed, I review the day's events. J's here. A new mission. New friends and possible enemies. This is going to be an interesting semester. Wait, Alex didn't get to answer my question! I guess it will have to wait....

.....................................................................................................................................................................

That was close! I almost had to tell. I don't want to. At least, not yet! I want to see if she's the same in real life as in the game. I'll tell her and J both one day. Just not yet. This is going to be a great semester though! Totally rad!

 

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