- Episode 1-
As the sun slowly made it’s descent from view the lights above the city were already racing to replace its dying illumination. The neon glow never truly died away, but as the sun’s bright light faded it always seemed to flare to life to dominate the sky. And with it the city itself seemed to awaken, bursting with a fresh fast-paced life of its own. Which meant soon enough the streets would be flooded with people, and that was reason enough for Lexel to not be.
Lexel was used to the walk home; she had been doing it for as long as she could remember. It was part of her routine, just as much a part as making the trip alone was. She could barely remember the last time she walked home with her mom, or for that matter made it home to find her mom there. But at least these days she had her friend Xephaedra to walk with which was kind of nice. Xeph had insisted for a long time on going home together, even though Lexel was fairly sure it was simply to avoid her friend having to make the trip alone. She was a great friend, no doubt about it, but Xeph could quite often be overly cautious about, well, almost everything.
They made for an awkward pair Lexel had always thought. Xeph was almost a head taller and already growing into the sort of pretty girl every boy couldn’t stop looking at. While Lexel herself never cared much for being the center of attention she couldn’t help but notice that she herself could never quite compete with her friend. Not in the looks department anyways. She was shorter than most the girls her age and while she found her thin toned figure to be adequate most of the boys didn’t seem to agree. Which suited Lexel just the same; she had seen the kind of attention some girls attracted and it was something she long ago decided wasn’t for her.
“So, what you have planned for tonight Lex,” Xeph asked her friend even though they both already knew the answer. Lexel always wondered why she kept asking but she had to admit it was kind of nice knowing Xeph would always worry about her. She couldn’t resist rolling her eyes at the question before puffing a strand of her short brown hair out of her face.
“Oh, you know, the usual I guess,” Lexel replied as she walked right through a lingering puddle without hesitation. It always made Xeph squeak a little, which made Lexel smile at the silly notion. “How girly can you get,” Lexel thought to herself.
“You know, one of these days your going to get caught Lex, and when you do it’s going to mean trouble. Why in the world do you even keep doing it anyways? What is so fun about playing other peoples games or prowling around into all those private nodes? It’s dangerous if you ask me, which you never do, and I am scared that one day soon your going to find yourself in the wrong one.”
Lexel was used to Xeph voicing her concerns about any number of the things she did that her friend deemed to be overly dangerous. But Lexel had been looking forward all day to getting to play some more of her current discovery. It was a little simulation game on a private node she had found about a month ago by accident. The getting in was surprisingly easy for a node that was tucked away like it was. It was the kind of thing that should have had some nasty security all over it to keep her out, which made it a curiosity to Lexel.
That was the part Xeph and others could never really understand; it was all about curiosity and the challenge of it all. She just had to see just how far she could go, just how much she could find. If someone told her she couldn’t get in or that it wasn’t something for a girl to be doing, well then Lexel would just become determined to prove she could. It was just one of those things about her that she couldn’t stand; just because she was a girl didn’t mean she had to be girly or that she wasn’t just as talented as a boy. In fact she was quickly starting to think that she might even be cleverer than most the boys in her classes.
“Thanks for the concern Xeph, but I’ll be fine; don’t worry so much,” Lexel tried her best to ease her friends fears. But it was still written all over her red-headed confidante’s face; Xeph was really concerned. “Just be careful, alright Lex,” Xeph said, her tone hushed before bidding her friend farewell.
Lexel waiver goodbye as she watched Xeph head down the street to her own home like they always did and then rushed up the steps that led to the small apartment she shared with her mother. She entered her personal access code and entered to find as usual she was home alone, again. “Nothing new,” Lexel said with a sigh as she stepped around a few clothes that she hoped belonged to her mother before heading straight to the terminal in her room.
It was the sole luxury Lexel had available to her, while most of her friends had portable little mini-coms they could pack around with them her only real access to the nodes was through an old terminal. While other kids might laugh at the out dated hardware she treasured it as her primary escape. They couldn’t ever afford much, but when she was little she had been lucky enough to find the old device that miraculously still worked.
Lexel patted the old terminal thankfully as she jacked herself in and smiled to herself. Awaiting her was the same old greeting that she had been met with every time since she had found the hidden node:
“Would you like to play a game?”
Her answer was always the same – yes.