Solaire of Haven felt like a stranger in the new Matrix. So much had changed and the sprite’s code still needed some adjusting to the new protocols. The uncanny ripples, the feeling of being watched and the absence of warriors, trained or untrained was… unsettling, to say the least. The Net seemed cleaner, more sterile but also more comfortable for the innocent.
Yet also so terribly unprepared for the lurking threats beneath. If even the proud spires of Haven could be defiled, what chance would these people stand on their own?
The Paladin left this stream of unpleasant thoughts when he sensed someone was in danger. A feeling that came naturally to the protector.
A blink later, his persona appeared in front of a huge, blocky building with heraldry he did not recognize. The black skies of the Matrix had parted and a radiant beam shot towards a stumbling denizen of this new Matrix, his icons collapsing around him.
Following his instincts, the knight instantly towered in front of the badly beaten persona and burning radiance washed harmlessly over his mighty shield.
Solaire broke the LinkLock preventing the Decker from fleeing with ease and glanced over his shield to see who would use such brutal force without even showing himself to his adversary.
By all that was holy, this poor sod had nothing but a Novatech Navigator to defend himself!
“Seek safety, young friend! T’is not a time for jolly cooperation! Begone, I will deal with this!”, he proclaimed and the visibly confused Decker vanished from the Grid, when another persona appeared on the scene.
A fellow in a wide brimmed hat and a long, brown coat. They sported a weapon named a Tommy Gun and their face was obstructed in shadows. The persona’s code oozed with the confidence of a lawman, but also the glee of an unsportsmanlike hunter who more than outgunned his prey.
“I must warn you, Sirrah, t’is not a fight you should seek!”, the Paladin sprite stated calmly, shield still raised and spear pointed at the Grid Overwatch agent.
Without further warning, he opened fire, sending destructive code towards the sprite.
The fight was short and somewhat brutal. In face of such honorless behavior, Solaire did not hold back. However, this was not about obliteration, but about a lesson.
The Overwatch agent was speared to the ground, squirming and having a taste of his own, link-locking medicine.
“A knight…”, he told the persona at his mercy in a solemn voice, “… is sworn to valor. His heart knows only virtue.”
The Paladin paced towards him, ignorant of the many bystanders who witnessed their duel and were captivated between astonishment and fear.
“His blade defends the helpless and his might upholds the meek… His word speaks only truth…”
The knight firmly gripped his spear, eyes behind the helmet locked with the shadowy counterfeit of the Overwatch decker. “And his wrath undoes the wicked.”
With a violent twist, he snatched the spear from the incapacitated persona and released the Lock, weapon still pointed at them.
“Assaulting young adventurers in such a cowardly manner… You should be ashamed! You were meant for more than this, Overwatch! To protect the innocent! If you choose to hide behind twisted laws and engage in needless cruelty, I will no longer stand as your brother in arms… learn from this and remember your vows.”
The decker did not answer, for he was still frozen in horror and disbelief, but Solaire was rather certain he understood the message.
And thus, his persona vanished, for he was needed elsewhere…