“I am looking for a piece of the Matrix.”

“A piece of a matrix? Why come to me with this?”, asked Talos as he

“Not a matrix.”

“Wait, you are looking for ‘the’ matrix? The World Matrix?,” Talos asked laughing, “Son, thats just a legend. A fairy tale told to young bots to get them to sleep. It is not real.”

Aneil shifted in his seat. He was becoming most decidedly uncomfortable with the laughing the old shaman bot was doing at his expense. He had been to the Dark Continent several time in the past as a researcher and information gatherer. He had performed his duties well enough that he had been assigned Lead Researcher for the Noble Project, which was where he had encountered the legend of the Matrix.

At first he had dismissed it as just another crazy story just as the shaman had, but the more research he did for the Noble project the more he discovered references to the ancient legend. So many so that he had began to wonder if there might actually be something to it.

He submitted a proposal to the Administrators but was refused on the grounds that it was all based on here say and circumstantial evidence.

Which meant he was funding this trip with his own credits.

The sounds of the servos whirring in the old bot as he paced around the room brought Aneil out of his memories with a start. He realized Talos had been talking to him. He glanced up to see him staring down as if expecting an answer.

“I am sorry, I was not listening. What did you say?”

“I was saying, assuming this ‘world matrix’ is real what makes you think it is around here or that I could help you?”

“It is real Talos. I’ve found it. Well, most of it. According to the legend it was …”

“Broken into a hundred pieces and scattered across the world. Yes, I know the stories as well”

Aneil stood and waled over to his pack. He extracted a small, intricately carved, metal box along with a small circuit chip, ancient things he had found in an old tomb not far from here. He handled the chip delicately over the Talos, then opened the box. Inside was red triacontahedron shaped object about the size of a closed fist nestled inside a blue lattice work cage. As Aneil removed the contents several places were visible where pieces of the red inner object were missing. Talos simply stared.

“As you can see, it’s not quite hundreds of pieces. But it is real Talos. Only a few pieces are missing. That crystal contains all the information about the Novatun tribe that lived about 60 kilometers north of here. Within that information I have found several references to the Matrix, or at least what I believe to be the Matrix. There are multiple references to the ‘heart that rules the world’ being broken and scattered. It contained a list of places where the ‘heart was kept’ once it was broken. I’ve managed to decipher most of them.”

Talos just stared at the crystal.

“Sorry, it is in an ancient format and syntax, however you can read it if you use your universal bus port. “

Talos did as suggested and inserted the crystal into a slot on his left wrist. He froze for a moment as he quickly downloaded and scanned the documents it contained, searching for the references Aneil had mentioned.

After a few seconds he removed the crystal and handed it back to Aneil, “Yes, I see what you mean. There are a substantial number of references in the documents. I assume this was an ancient archiving device?”

“That is my belief yes. We found it during a dig over a hundred and twenty-five years ago. At first it was just meaningless information and we simply cataloged it and put it in storage, not giving it a second though. It was not until I began seeing more and more references to the legend that I went back and rescanned the information on this crystal.”

“Assuming I agree with you and I know something about where the Colossus is, why would I help you? Telling you would bring hoards of visitors to my personal paradise.”

“Because I’m not the only one looking…”

Aneil was interrupted by a series of explosions outside. As both he and Talos started towards the door a small rust red bot covered in soot and oil clamored through coughing and stammering.

Talos knelt in from of the newcomer and took his by the shoulders, “TimTim, calm down. What is happening?”

“The Vok,” gasped TimTim just before he collapsed.

“The Vok! You brought those insane bots here?” Talos turned to Aneil.

“No. I was tracking them actually, but when I realized they were headed in this direction I rushed ahead. I had though I would have more time. We must go before they find us.” Aneil said as he turned and grabbed his pack.

“Go? I’m not leaving. This is my home now.”

“Old man,” began Aneil as he pulled an electronic device from his pack, “I do not have time for foolish arguments. You now contain a copy of the information on the chip. Information the Vok lack but greatly desire. If you stay they will destroy you to get it. Even if you offer it up. You know them, they will assume you are holding something back and tear you apart, virtually and physically to make sure. I will destroy you myself first.”

Talos stared down the barrel of the Static Gun, “Fine, I will come with you. But be warned, I will not forget this.”