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Celebration? 

 

 

 

 



By: Lachesis


Note: This takes place after the system restart. Little Enzo has gone off to the academy. It’s kinda like a celebration in Mainframe.

Chapter 1

Setting: A grand ballroom somewhere in the Kits sector. Think of the ballroom in “Beauty and the Beast” only a lot BIGGER. A small quintet orchestra was postioned. They were to provide the music for the evening. There are tables set out around the room, and a special table for the heroes of Mainframe...

Phong, Matrix, Surfer, and Bob were all decked out in their tuxedoes and stuff, waiting at the bottom of the flight of stairs for AndrAIa, Mouse, and Dot. Sprites and binomes were all busily gathering in the ballroom.

Phong was about to greet more citizens of Mainframe when suddenly he turned around and said, “I do believe your wait is over. Your dates have arrived,” then strolled off. The guys all turned their attention to the top of the stairs, and sure enough, AndrAIa and Mouse were slowly walking down the steps. AndrAIa was wearing a baby blue dress while Mouse was wearing a light green dress. Matrix and Surfer greeted them with smiles, and complements.

Bob then asked, “Uh...where’s Dot?”

“Isn't she right behind us?” AndrAIa replied, but her answer wasn't needed because their attention was then focused on the sprite making her way down the stairs.

Bob looked up, seeing the bottom of her lavender dress, and made his way up her profile. Stunned, he almost fell back, but shook it off. He ran up the first couple of stairs to meet Dot. He smiled at her then took her hand, bowed then kissed it. Dot smiled back and did a curtsey. All the while they were looking right into each other’s eyes. Then he reached behind her ear and pulled out a small rose. He handed it to her while he whispered in her ear, “Lovely, as usual.”

“Oh, Bob...” she took the rose and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

They walked down the steps to meet the others. Then Bob pulled out roses for AndrAIa and Mouse. Surprised, they smiled and accepted the gift.

“You were always the charmer,” Mouse commented, while AndrAIa turned to Matrix and smacked his arm.

“Hey, what was that for?” He looked at AndrAIa, puzzled.

“Now why can’t you be that romantic?” she replied.

“Yeah, sugah.” Mouse turned to Surfer. “Y’all betta learn from Bob, he knows how to take out a gal.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Surfer took a step back and bowed.

“That’s betta.”

“Yeah, sorry, AndrAIa.” Matrix took her hand and kissed it. AndrAIa smiled.

“Thanks, Bob,” Matrix said sarcastically.

“Yeah, what are ya tryin' to do, make us look bad?” Surfer added.

“No, you can do that all by yourself,” Bob answered, “I guess (started singing) Some guys, got all the luck...” Everyone laughed.

***

“May I have this dance?” Surfer held out his hand to Mouse.

“I thought you’d never ask,” Mouse smiled and took his hand.

“ After you...” Matrix guestured to the floor. Then he and AndrAIa walked together to the floor.

“Hmmm....Shall we?” Bob offered his arm. Dot took it.

Chapter 2

After hours of dancing and celebrating, Bob and Dot headed outside on the balcony for some air. The sky was filled with stars...

Dot walked toward the railing of the balcony, looked out, and breathd in the air. Bob came up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her neck. She closed her eyes and sighed, and she rested her head against his. They stayed there for a while until Bob released his grip on her. He leaned on the rail (which was more like a little wall), and pulled her near him. He reached in his pocket and brought out a ring.

Dot gasped. “Bob...” She looked at the ring, then into his warm brown eyes.

“It's not a wedding ring, it's a promise ring.” Bob slipped the silver band on her finger. Dot read the inscription on it. ~Bob and Dot~ on one side, ~I love you always~, on the other.

“I got one too.” Bob showed the ring on his finger.

“Oh, Bob...” Dot looked into his eyes again. “I love you.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and they shared a long, warm kiss.

“I love you, too.”

***

Inside the ballroom.....

AndrAIa and Matrix were still dancing, when AndrAIa asked, “Do you think we’ll ever be like them?” and she nodded her head to the tall windows where Bob and Dot were outside.

“Them? No. We could never be like them. They got something special and unique.” Matrix replied. AndrAIa looked hurt, but said nothing. Matrix lifted up her chin gently and said, “ But that doesn’t mean we can’t have something that is just as special. We could never be like them, but we can be us. We love each other, and that is all that matters.”

AndrAIa looked up at him, smiled, and gage him a kiss.

***

Mouse and Surfer were sitting at their table, enjoying their dessert.

“What do you gonna do, now that the crisis is over?” Sufer asked in between bites.

“Hmmm... I’ve got clients waiting for me, but I think I’m gonna stick round here.”

“You mean settle down?”

“Sugah, you must be jokin’. Naw, I ain’t ready to buckle down. But these folks have become my family, and I’ve grown accustomed to this system.”

“Uh, huh”

*silence*

“What do ya think they’ll be like?”

“Who?”

“Everyone. Bob and Dot, Enzo and AndrAIa, Phong....”

“Probably like us. They’ll get married, have kids, grow old together...”

“Wait a nano. Are you sayin’ we’re gonna get married?”

“And have kids, and grow old, and still love each other just as much as we do now, if not more.”

“Are you serious, sugah?”

“Why not? We could get married.”

“You talkin’ bout settling down?”

“Yeah, I mean, if you wanna.”

“I must have gone totally random. Hmmm... but I like the idea.” Mouse gave Surfer a big kiss...

***

Bob and Dot were still oustide, holding each other, when Bob felt something that something wasn't right. Suddenly he heard a familiar voice, one that brought back memories from his past, one that sent shivers down his spine.

*Bob....oh Bob, how I’ve missed you...I know you’ve missed me too...Bob?*

Chapter 3

“Bob? Bob, I know you remember...”

“BOB!”

“Huh?” Bob looked down at Dot in his arms.

“Are you okay? What happened?” Dot had a look of puzzlement on her face and worry in her eyes.

“Huh? Oh, nothing. I just...uh...was distracted.”

Bob didn’t want to say anything about voices in his head, that was a little too random. “Why don’t we go back inside?”

Dot looked at him for a nano, and then started to feel his head. “Are you sure you're okay?” Concern was written on Dot’s face.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Bob gently took Dot’s hands from his face and lead her inside.

***

Bob and Dot had barely made it inside when a bright light formed into a portal at the top of the stairs. Everyone and everything became quiet. Three figures appeared through the portal...Guardians.

There were two infected gaurdians under the command of her, but she was not infected. They looked around the room, at the scared and horrified sprites. She walked down the steps, her long black boots, clanging against the steps. Her armor was lime green, black and purple and she had a gun slung loosely around her slim waist. Her skin was laverder, and her hair, long and pulled back in a pony-tail, was brown. But her eyes, were what held everyone still, her eyes were metalic silver, that seem to, at some points, have blue tints.

She walked down the steps, calmly, while her guardians followed. “I’ve come for guardian 452...but to you, his name is Bob.”

***

The crowd that was gathered moved apart, as Bob stepped forward. From where he was, he couldn’t see who it was that was asking for him, but the voice, her voice, sounded so familiar. Then he got in view of her.

“Trix?...is..is that you?” Bob asked. Slowly the crowd made a circle around them.

Trixie smiled. “Surprised you remember me.” Her eyes seemed to light up when she saw the guardian.

“Yeah, well...You're not that hard to forget.” Bob rubbed the back of his neck and eyed Dot through the corner of his eye. “You asked for me?”

Trixie’s expression turned serious. “Master Daemon wants you, and so I am here.”

“But, you’re not infected, are you?” Bob looked puzzled. “I thought you couldn’t be infected, no matter what.”

“Hmm. I’m surprised how much you remember about me, Bob. No, I’m not infected. I was sent to bring you home.”

“Back to the supercomputer? To be infected? I don’t think so,” was Bob’s response.

All Trixie did was smile. She casually walked up to Bob, circled him while whispering, “It doesn’t have to be that way, you could come with me.” She ended up in front of him, arms around his neck, playing with his hair. “We could get rid of these guys, easy.” She nodded to the two guardians, who were preoccupied with food on the tables. “ Then we could get away from everything, Daemon would never find us, it would just be us, like it used to...” She trailed off, looking into his brown eyes, and brought him closer to her.

Dot was shocked. She was about to knock that sprite back to the supercomputer, but Matrix held her back.

“No, leave this to Bob.” Dot couldn’t believe that her little brother was telling her what to do, but she didn’t make anymore attempts on Trixie. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t thinking about it.

Trixie closed her eyes and drew nearer to Bob, the lips were about to touch, (Dot was ready to jump on Trixie) but then Bob drew back, took her arms off of him, and stepped away from her. Dot relaxed.

“What’s wrong Bob?” He said nothing. “I’m not infected, if that’s what you're thinking. I only did this for you, for us...” She approached Bob again, but he held her at arm's length. “Bob?...I don't understand... Don’t you love me?” Bob turned away. This shocked her. “ No... you never did. You just used me...”

“Trixie, you know that’s not true. I might have cared for you once but...” Bob cut her off.

“Cared for me? No, you never loved me, you never said you did...” Trixie was angered. Then there was a pause, when Trixie spoke again she seemed more calm. “Tell me something Bob, is there someone else?” She paced around the circle, looking over the sprites, tall ones, short ones, the ones in front, the ones in back. As she came to Matrix, AndrAIa, Dot, Mouse and Surfer, she stopped.

“Trix, that doesn’t matter, listen…” Bob stopped, as Trixie looked Dot straight in the face.

“No, you listen to me.” She wasn’t facing Bob, but still staring at Dot, who just looked right back, not showing any sign of expression. Suddenly, she pulled Dot into the circle with her and Bob. “It does matter!” She gripped Dot’s neck, and lifted her off the ground.

“Dot!” Bob rushed to her rescue, but was stopped by the other guardians who appeared to finally get involved.

“Ah, see I knew it.” Trixie let Dot go. Dot fell to the ground gasping for air. Matrix lifted his gun and his eye glowed red.

“No, Matrix, don’t.” Enzo looked at Bob, “Put the gun down.” Matrix hesitated, but slowly dropped his arm.

“I know you, Bob. I know everything about you: your likes and dislikes. Even the people you like to let get close to you.” Trixie bent down to Dot and smiled. “Ain’t I right?” Dot just gripped her throat, and gave her a look that could kill. “Feisty one, isn’t she Bob?” Trix turned to face Bob.

“Trix, Trixie, please, let her go. She doesn’t have anything to do with this, and neither do they.” He pointed to the gaurdians who separated him from Trixie...and Dot.

“Hmm...” Trixie thought for a moment. “Very well.” She motioned for the guardians to leave. “But she stays.” Trixie restrained Dot using her keytool. Once again there was a reaction from Mouse, Matrix, Surfer and AndrAIa. But again, nothing happened.

“But...why?” Bob was trying to take control of the situation, but he couldn’t get Dot out of harms way.

Trixie just ignored the question, instead she asked one of her own. “Do you love her Bob? Have you told her?” She bent down to Dot. “Has he told you?”

Dot, having a restraint over her mouth, couldn’t say anything, but if she could, she still couldn’t have said anything, because the answer was, no. So instead Dot turned her gaze away.

“Trixie, please, just let her go.” Bob took Trixie by the arms and looked her straight in the face. “Please...” Trixie looked into his brown eyes, and then kissed him. Dot’s eyes grew big. There was talk in the crowd. Then when they separated, Trixie just smiled and got out of Bob’s grip.

“I’m sorry, Bob, but I care too much for you to do that.” Then she went to Dot. Toying with Dot she childishly spoke, “Does he make you feel special? Do you think he loves you? He doesn’t you know. It may seem like that to you, but has he told you? No, he hasn’t. He didn’t say it to me either. He’s just using you. Using you because he’s afraid to be alone...He doesn't love you.” Tears swelled up in Dot’s eyes. Trixie laughed and turned to Bob. “Ain’t that right Bob?”

Bob tried to comfort Dot, but Trixie came in his way. “No, Trixie, you’re wrong.” Then moved her aside, and went to Dot. Trixie stood there for a moment. Then released Dot’s restraints. They both turned to Trixie, who had her head low.

“I see now, that you really do care for her... I’m sorry.” Trixie said quietly, eyes turned downward.

“Trixie, things will be okay, but we need to talk.” Bob replied, still by Dot’s side.

Trixie lifted up her head, “I’m so sorry...”

“I know Trix, but...”

No Bob, you don’t get it. I’m going to have to kill you all now. If I can’t have you, no one can. Then no one will have to love anymore, and no one will have to hurt anymore...” She was now crying. “I’m so sorry Bob, but you should have chosen me, this way I wouldn’t have to do this...I love you so much.”

The room fell silent. Bob looked at the sprite he once knew, then wished he had never known her.

Chapter 4

Bob and Dot looked at the being in front of them. So beautiful, and yet so full of pain and anger.

“I’m so sorry Bob...” That was all Trixie could say.

“No Trixie, you can’t...” Bob stood up, not believing what he was hearing. Dot was at his side.

“Then come with me! If I don’t bring you back, infected, then there will be more... I’ve got only so much time before...” Trixie stopped short. “Please, Bob, this is the only way. You CAN’T win, not this time. PLEASE, we could be together...” She looked deep into his eyes, pleading, but she didn’t find any sign of him giving up.

“Before what?” Dot questioned. >[?“If I don’t get you infected, Daemon and her guardians will come here, and MAKE you...” Trixie couldn’t look at them anymore. “And the boy...” AndrAIa hugged Matrix tighter.

“But why Bob and Enzo?...why does she need them infected? Bob’s the last guardian, and Enzo is only a cadet.” Dot was angry. She wasn’t going to lose Enzo or Bob again. She couldn’t go through that, not again.

“Don’t you see? Bob is the key. He is the one that could save the whole Net. And if I don’t deliver you, she will come here, and destroy you all...” Trixie trailed off.

“Bob?” Dot said. Bob had left her side and moved outside on the balcony. He had to get away and think; he had to clear his head. What in the Net was he supposed to do?

***

“Enzo...” AndrAIa cried and Matrix held her tighter. Mouse and Sufer just looked on helplessly as they watched what had just went on. Trixie and Phong watched as Dot made her way through the crowd and to the door of the balcony.

Dot stood there for a moment. Bob sat down on the wall and held out his hand to her. She took it and sat next to him. No words were exchanged because there was no need to. Each one knew what the other was feeling and thinking. Bob rested his head on Dot’s shoulder as she held him and rocked him back and forth, like a mother would.

***

Inside...

“It is always in times of need that we become closer.” Phong spoke. He and Trixie were watching Bob and Dot. There was a dead silence in the room. No one moved, no one spoke. All Matrix thought about was taking down Trixie, whom he watched carefully.

Trixie watched Bob and Dot's acts of love and grew sad. It reminded her of what once was, and what could have been... It also reminded her of why she had joined with Daemon,and why she was here. One word, Bob. She needed him, and nothing would keep her away from her goal, her destiny. Suddenly she became alert of what exactly she had to do. And so without another nano passing, she marched through the crowd, towards the balcony. Matrix, AndrAIa, Mouse, Surfer and Phong followed, along with the guardians.

They all wanted to do something, anything, but they couldn’t, not this time. They felt hopeless; all they could do was watch.

Trixie went out onto the balcony, her eyes determinded. Bob and Dot got up to face off with her. Inside Trixie there was something forming. She felt it, and knew what it was. Daemon had given it to her, and it was to become Bob’s fate. She couldn’t miss; she had only one chance.

Bob and Trixie were sizing up, waiting for someone to make a move. They fired at the same time, Trixie her gun, and Bob his particle beam. What followed was a series of gun shots and particle blasts. But in the end, Bob had Trixie pinned down.

Dot, who had been watching (and dodging) from the side, was glad that Bob had beaten her... along with many others as cheers were heard from inside.

Bob and Trixie got up. Trixie had lost. Bob had put restraints on her so that she couldn’t talk or use her hands. The two guardians were about to take action, but they were easily taken care of, courtesy of Mouse, Sufer, Matrix and AndrAIa.

“I’m so sorry, Bob, but I have to do this, for us.” Then Trixie started to glow with energy, and let out a blast, breaking off the restraints. The blast sent Matrix and AndrAIa against the wall, and sent Mouse and Sufer clear over the balcony rail.

“NO!” yelled AndrAIa as she and Matrix quickly recovered and rushed to the edge, but they couldn’t reach Mouse and Surfer.

Sufer didn’t seem to alarmed, as his board came under him. Then he caught Mouse in his arms.

“You can stop covering your eyes now,” Sufer smiled, and Mouse uncovered her eyes.

“Sugah?” Mouse asked sweetly.

“Yeah?”

“You betta wipe that smirk off your face ‘fore I...”

“Okay, okay! Talk about your gratitude!”

***

Dot had hit a sharp corner that stuck out onto the balcony. She hit her head and passed out. Bob, who was thrown only a couple feet away from her, had already recovered. He rushed to Dot’s side.

Trixie’s eyes turned pure silver. Her whole body radiated with blue energy. Then she slowly rose up from the ground and levitated. She was buliding up energy, she was almost fully charged. Blue flames seem to leap up from her skin. She looked at Bob, and her eyes glowed brighter as Bob suddenly lost control of his body. He was lifted away from Dot and held in place in mid-air. He was just high enough that his toes barely touched the ground.

Trixie smiled at her new power. Actually it wasn’t a new power. She had always had special abilities. She found that out while she was young. But fearing that she would get kicked out of the academy, she never used her powers, never trained them, so they never were that strong. But now, with the help of Daemon, she had control.

“Everyone, get Back...NOW!!!” AndrAIa yelled to the Mainframers that were watching. They hurriedly back away from the balcony doors, and scrambled.

Mouse, Surfer, Matrix and AndrAIa now prepared themselves for battle.

Matrix charged and fired his gun, AndrAIa pulled out her trident, right behind Matrix. Mouse took out her katana and Surfer put up his shield.

Trixie’s head snapped to them when she heard Mouse’s battle cry. She smiled at their attempts. She closed her eyes and fired a beam of energy at them. Surfer extended his shield around all of them, but it was pointless. The blast formed a bubble shield around them. Their attacks couldn’t get past the bubble, and neither could they. They were trapped.

Trixie had to charge up again. She spent a little energy, but she needed all she could to infect Bob. He would have a strong resistance, and she could only do this once. If she missed, she wouldn’t have enough energy left to do it again. The flames grew bigger, and Trixie closed her eyes. A wind blew around her. She had reached her maximum level.

Dot opened her eyes to Bob, lifted in the air, Mouse, Matrix, Surfer and AndrAIa were caught in the bubble, Dot realized, with a throbbing head. In the last couple of nanos Dot had slipped in and out of consciousness. But now, her senses came to her, and she knew she had to help Bob. She slowly got to her feet, using the corner that caused her head injury as support. No one saw this because they were all occupied doing something else.

Trixie built up a massive blue energy ball with green veins, the infection. Bob couldn’t do a thing but watch and accept his fate. Mouse, AndrAIa, Surfer and Matrix stopped their attempts at freedom in the bubble, all eyes were on Trixie. AndrAIa hugged Matrix and tears formed in her eyes, Matrix just looked down. Surfer looked at Mouse, who was also crying.

“We gotta do something!” Mouse yelled, but she knew it was hopeless. Ray held her hand.

This was it. Trixie now opened her silver eyes. She looked straight at Bob... for us, ran in her mind and she threw the infected energy ball towards him. Bob took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and waited for impact.

***

Dot was leaning on the wall and watched Trixie heave the massive ball at Bob. She had to do something, and she needed to act fast. Dot contemplated her options, and finally decided on one. With her last amounts of energy she managed to push herself away from the wall and rush to Bob. She threw her arms around Bob’s neck just in time, as the ball hit Dot’s back.

“DOT!” everyone from inside the ball screamed. Eyes wide at what they were seeing.

“Nooo!” Trixie yelled. She had failed. At that moment she grew weak and passed out. She was out of energy. The bubble disappeared and Bob had control of his body again. Trixie fell to the ground.

Dot didn’t scream out one bit as the infection raced through her body. Her forehead was pressed against Bob’s chest, and she winced in pain. But she didn’t want to show it. Bob just held her, not knowing what to do. Fear and concern were written clearly on his face. Green electric shocks ran up and down Dot’s body. When she finally looked up at Bob, he could see big tear drops on her face and she was breathing heavily. Bob wiped away her tears, and looked into her violet eyes. She was in more pain than she showed, and that made Bob feel even worse. Dot’s breathing became restricted as she desperately struggled for air. Bob didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to lose her. She looked into his eyes again as if to say, “what’s happening to me?” Bob was helpless. Then she cringed in pain and collapsed on Bob, unconscious.

“Dot...no...” Bob whispered to her. He supported her as he slowly laid her down. The others had rushed over to him and formed a small circle around Dot. Bob cradled her in his arms; he felt so helpless. Then he kissed her on the forehead and rested her head on Mouse’s lap. “Go get help!” he instructed AndrAIa and Surfer. They rushed to get Phong.

Matrix looked down at his sister and held her limp hand. Anger took over him. He suddenly spun around, facing the semi-conscious Trixie, who was leaning against a wall.

“Gun. Command line. Full Delete.” He would show no mercy, not this time.

“No Matrix.” Bob replied calmly and pushed the gun down.

“No Bob!! No mercy for her. She doesn’t deserve it.” Matrix couldn’t believe he was still protecting her.

“Matrix, I said no!” Bob turned to Trixie.

“But Bob...” Matrix started, but was cut off.

“Don’t.... I’ll make sure she’s taken care of properly.... you take care of Dot,” Bob said as he approached the weakened sprite. Matrix was shocked when he heard the coldness in his voice. Matrix turned, scooped up his sister’s body, and walked past Trixie, and through the doors, stopping once to see what Bob was going to do.

Bob was going through mixed feelings, frustration, anger, pain, pity...all ran through him. His eyes showed this as they blazed. This was a side of Bob Matrix had never seen... and it scared him.

Chapter 5

Bob approached Trixie, not sure what he was going to do. But it wasn’t good. Part of him wanted blast her back to the supercomputer and Daemon. But then, that wouldn’t be good. Daemon and her viral troops would see what happened and come to Mainframe in nanos. He needed time. For Dot’s sake.

Trixie got up slowly. She threw her arms around Bob's shoulders for support. “Sweets, I’m sorry. She wasn’t supposed to get hit...” she began, looking for sympathy in his brown eyes, but found none. She had to act fast. “You gotta believe me...sweets.”

“Yeah, but she did....” Bob started but then stopped. Something caught his eye. Trixie’s fingers, which were draped over him, were sparkling with the infection. She was mustering up all her remaining energy to try to infect him...again. Trixie was about to touch his temples, when Bob blasted her with his particle beam. It sent the sprite across the balcony, hitting the wall, falling unconscious.

“Let you come to Mainframe, endanger my system, my family and friends, then harm the only sprite I ever loved...I don’t think so.” Bob said, more to himself than to the unconscious Trixie at his feet.

He restrained her again and draped her over his shoulders. He needed to get to the Principal Office. Inside the ballroom, he blasted the chandelier, forming a tear. He turned it into a portal to the P.O. He figured he wasted enough time and this was the quickest way there.

Chapter 6

Inside the Principal Office...

Matrix, AndrAIa, Mouse, Ray, and Phong, all stood in a circular room (think oval office) where Dot was in a stasis bed in the centre. The only light came from a bluish light that came from the ceiling, over Dot.

Matrix was holding his sister’s hand, praying that she was going to become conscious soon. Phong said that she was stable, for now, but he wasn’t sure what the infection was going to do to her. Matrix wished badly that he could have seen what Bob had done to Trixie; he wanted to be a part of it. Instead, he held his sister’s hand, rubbing the back of it with his thumb.

AndrAIa came over to Matrix, wrapped her arms around his waist, and rested her head on him. She looked at Dot, Dot seemed like she was sleeping, only there was an eerie feeling about her that made everyone aware of her condition. AndrAIa sighed. They had just gotten back to Mainframe, survived a system crashed, and now this. It was like crisis after crisis.

Mouse was opposite side Matrix and AndrAIa. She held Dot’s other hand. Her best friend was lying, infected, right in front of her, and there wasn’t a thing she could do about it. She felt horrible. After all that they had gone through, this was the hardest thing yet. But still, she knew Dot was strong, that she was going to pull through this. She had to.

Although Ray had just recently met Dot, he looked at her and saw such an honourable sprite. He had much admiration for her. Not only because she was a successful business sprite, or that she was the command.com of Mainframe, or that she had guts to rebel against the virals. But for the shear love she had for Bob, that she would give up her own processing to save him. That, to Ray, was bravery from the heart.

The room was silent as Bob stepped inside. They all turned to face him; glum looks on their faces. Bob frowned. He had put Trixie in a holding cell and now went to check on Dot.

“How is she?” Bob asked. Not really wanting to know the answer. He stood away from them, trying to build up enough courage to face Dot.

“She is stable, but unconscious. She was hit with a overly large dose of the infection,” Phong replied. Bob nodded and swallowed hard.

“Why don’t we leave ‘em be for a while?” Mouse knew Bob needed some time with this. The others nodded and left.

Bob was now standing alone in the room. He breathed in deeply and walked towards the unconscious Dot. He carefully walked through the shadows and went to her side. He swallowed hard.

“Dot...” he began. It was all he could say. He held her hand and gently moved the hair from her forehead, bent over and kissed it. He looked down at her. She was still in her dress, still as beautiful, but now she was almost lifeless. Bob’s chest heaved greatly as he felt a great pain in his heart. He closed his eyes to keep him from completely losing it. He had to be strong. Dot needed him.

<WARNING, INCOMING GAME> echoed the all-too-familiar words.

The doors slid open and Matrix walked in. “Uh, Bob, we should go. I mean, I’ll go, you can stay here and...” Matrix didn’t want to pull Bob away from his sister.

“No, I’ll go, you and AndrAIa can sit this one out. I...uh, need to, uh, release some tension,” Bob replied. Actually he needed to get out of the room and re-compile himself, or he’d break apart.

Matrix just nodded. Bob and Mouse rushed into the game cube. Ray couldn’t go into games, not until Mouse fixed his icon.

***

Inside the game cube...

“Okay, um..Mouse, the game is called...” Bob said quickly, before Mouse had a chance to start asking questions.

“Bob...” Mouse saw right through him.

“Yeah, Mouse?”

“Sugah, you don’t gotta hide things from me.”

Bob just nodded and exhaled.

“Honey, how ya holdin’ up?” she asked in a comforting voice.

“I’m holding...”

Mouse just nodded. “Now, about this game...we betta get started.”

“Right.”

Chapter 7

In the Principal Office...

Matrix, AndrAIa, and Phong looked over Dot while Hack and Slash guarded Trixie. Dot was getting weaker. Matrix pulled up a chair next to her; he noticed the infection’s veins beginning to form on Dot’s temples and on her icon. AndrAIa put a hand on his shoulder. Phong was drastically trying to find a cure. File after file produced no results.

***

<GAME OVER>

Bob and Mouse jumped on the zip-boards a made their way to the P.O.

Once inside, Bob and Mouse went into Dot’s chamber. The doors flew open and everyone turned.

“Bob, she’s getting worse,” Matrix said quietly as he looked down. AndrAIa went to help Phong. She sensed that this was a brother-to-almost-brother-in-law thing. Mouse and Ray went to see their new “friend” Trixie.“I don’t know what to do. I mean...cursors! I shoulda been able to help her!” Matrix held his head in his hands. Bob knew exactly how he felt. They probably were going through the same things.

“I know what you mean.” Bob put a hand on Matrix’s shoulder.

***

Matrix had left for the night with AndrAIa, as did Mouse and Ray. Bob stayed with Dot. He was by her side, watching her, waiting for some sign that she would be okay. He didn’t expect much sleep, and he didn’t get much either. By the time he got to sleep, it was morning.

Phong had already risen and returned to the read-only room. He was determined to find something to help Dot.

Matrix had also gotten up early. He, like Bob, hadn’t gotten much sleep. He decided to take a walk at Floating Point to clear his mind.

Mouse, Ray and AndrAIa went to the Principal Office. Mouse went to help Phong. Maybe she could hack her way into the super-computer and find something useful to cure the infection. She hoped she would be able to.

Matrix hadn’t come back yet, so Ray and AndrAIa decided to look in and check up on Dot. When they went into her chamber, it was dark, except for the blue light. There they found Dot still unconscious, with Bob resting next to her on a chair. He was still holding her hand. He hadn’t left her side.

“Should we wake him?” Ray whispered. He didn’t wanna ruin the scene.

“ No, Bob needs his rest. He probably didn’t get any last right,” AndrAIa whispered back.

Then, as if on cue, Hexidecimal’s mask appeared in the room. “Oh my, what happened here?” Hex was circling the room, talking to Bob, who apparently wasn’t going to answer.

Bob suddenly woke up, sensing Hex’s presence.

“So much for that idea.” Ray mumbled.

“Hmmm...Hey Hex, AndrAIa, Surfer.” Bob said groggily.

“ Bob, what happened to Dot?” Hex asked, curious.

“She’s been infected.”

“Oh my, that’s not good at all.”

AndrAIa and Surfer just shook their heads; they had wanted to let Bob rest. Then the doors opened. Mouse and Phong went in, and couple nanos later, Matrix finally joined them. “Anything Phong?” he asked from behind Phong.

“No, my child. But we have some data on Daemon.”

Phong and Mouse told them what little they had on the super-virus. It didn’t help much though, since most of what they were saying Matrix already knew.

“Nothing...” Matrix said after they had finished. Hex did a tsk-tsk, then remembered she had to do something and left.

Bob turned back to Dot and he could see that she was getting worse. The infection’s effects on her were more noticable. The veins had grown and were pulsing, but still, Dot hadn’t regained consciousness. He had to find some way to help her. Just then he got up and left the room. He needed to talk to Trixie.

***

“Halt!”

“Halt!” Hack and Slash held out their arms to stop Bob.

“Easy, it’s just me.” Bob’s hands flew up, showing that he was “unarmed”.

“Oh, it is Bob.”

“It is you Bob.”

“That’s what I said.”

“No, that is what I said.”

“Guys, just let me through.” Bob was standing there with and tired look on his face.

“Oh yes, Hack, the guardian wants to go see her.”

“See who?”

“The girl we are guarding.”

“Oh right. Should we let him in Slash?”

“Uh, I do not know Hack.”

By this time Bob, had just gone right past them and into Trixie’s holding cell. He closed the door as Hack and Slash were still trying to decide whether or not to let him in.

Bob turned to face Trixie. Trixie got up from where she was sitting and smiled.

“I knew you wouldn’t let them keep me in here.”

“Don’t get your hopes up. How do we cure her?”

Trixie’s eyes narrowed as she realized that the only reason why he came to visit her was because of her...Dot or whatever her name was. But then she decided to have some fun. “Cure whom?” she asked, grinning. She was toying with him.

Now it was Bob’s turn to narrow his eyes. “Dot.”

“Dot? Dot who?” Trixie asked childishly. “Hmm....oh, Oh!! How could I let that slip my mind!” She pointed to her head. “That’s so basic of me! She’s the one that you let get infected!” She smiled sweetly.

Bob just glared at her. She was playing with fire and if she didn’t watch what she was saying, she’d get burnt. “How do we stop it?” Bob was trying to stay on topic.

“Why, sweets, are you worried?” Trixie smiled. “You hardly ever get so down. It’s not like you, and you shouldn’t get too worked up over nothing.”

“Just answer the question.”

“Fine. Spoil my fun... You can’t.” Trixie said nonchalantly. She was looking at the tips of her hair. “Just as well. Two things can happen. One, she gets infected, and Daemon can use her to get to you, and two, she gets deleted because she can’t handle the infection. Either way in the end, she’ll get deleted. Daemon will cast her off once she gets to you. One way or another, Daemon will get you, Bob.”

Bob’s face grew even more sorrowful. Trixie threw her hair behind her shoulders when she saw his face. “Aw, sweets, don’t be so sad. I say good riddance. Your system won’t need a command.com when Daemon arrives. I mean it’s not like she was that important; she didn’t do anything SO dramatic. What kind of command.com was she if she let this system get taken over by viruses? Don’t go random over her, she’s not that pretty, and not that specia---”

Just then Bob turned around, gripped Trixie by the shoulders, and looked directly into her eyes. “Watch it, Trix.”

She just smiled. “Or what? The guardian is gonna make me? The HERO of Mainframe? Ooo...Look, I’m the great guardian 452...I’m BOB.” there was emphasis on the last B. She used the tone she had when she was tormenting Dot.

Bob said nothing and let go of her shoulders.

Trixie laughed. “See Bob? There’s no stopping the inevitable. You can’t win. You're one guardian against a super-virus and the guardian collective. You might as well give in. The way I see it you got two choices. Stay here, protect your small system, and get beaten by Daemon...or, come with me, and not be infected.”

Bob just looked sadly at someone who once had a lot of potential, and now was wasting her hours in a holding cell. “I’d rather stay here with Dot than go with you.” And without a moment's notice, Bob turned around and left.

***

On his way back to Dot, Bob passed by Matrix in the hall.

“Uh, Bob, we have to talk. We’re gonna have to make a plan... be ready, you know? When Daemon comes...”

“I know.” Bob had tried to leave that in the back of his mind.

The two gathered everyone in the main control room to discuss their plans. To defeat the guardian collective and Daemon, they would need some help. They sent calls out to systems that could help them in battle. Slowly, a defensive plan started to form.

“Everyone, knows what they have to do, right?”

“Right!”

Chapter8

It had been a very long day. Mouse, Surfer, Matrix, AndrAIa, Phong and Bob had spent the whole day contacting the other systems and preparing for war. It was late and Bob decided to check up on Trixie. Something wrong with her. She was sick, and he needed to help her. Before going into her cell, he took a deep breath. It was going to be a very long night.

“Trix?...you, uh, are you awake?” Bob quietly entered the dark cell. He turned on a light and found her asleep. She stired when the light reached her face.

“Hmm...Bob?” she said through squinted eyes.

“Yeah, well.., we need to talk.” He sat down at the foot of her bed.

Trixie sat up and rested her head and arms on her knees. She waited.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I...I don’t get it...what do you mean? I’m fine,” She looked around the cell. “Sorta.”

Bob shook his head. He put his hand on hers. “That’s not what I mean. Why are you acting this way? I mean, you’re not like how you used to be... not like I remember.”

Trixie was at a loss for words. She was thinking of something to say, anything to say, which would be reasonable. “Sorry to burst your bubble, sweets, but people change.”

“Yeah, but not like this. You used to be so kind; you had so much potential, so much going for you. You had a future, family, friends...me. What happened to the sprite that I cared so much for?”

Bob held Trixie still with his eyes. She tried to remain calm, tried to hold it all in...But he melted through her protective shield. Trixie just gave in. Rivers of tears came rolling out along with sobs. Bob drew closer to her as she cried. “You don’t know what it’s like...it hurts so much...I...I don’t know what else to do...”

“Whoa, take it easy. Start from the beginning. I’ve got all night.”

Trixie looked into those soft brown eyes that she knew so well and she knew things would be okay. She broke down and told everything to Bob.

She and Bob never really broke up their relationship and after Bob had left to go to Mainframe, they grew distant. Soon, Daemon came and started to infect the guardians. Trixie was part of the rebellion until things got worse. Trixie saw her family die right in front of her eyes; her friends perish right next to her, and sprites she knew infected by Daemon. Trixie had lost everything. Soon, she found that her only means of survival was to join up with Daemon. Daemon would have easily infected the willing sprite, but Trixie had those special abilities and a special format installed in her, courtesy of her dad, that kept her from being infected. But since Trixie had no intention of defeating her, only serving her, Daemon felt no threat. But things got even worse. Trixie hardened as she corrupted system after system. She had no pity or compassion for those she destroyed. But then things changed. In one system, she saw a young sprite, (think Enzo’s age) who fought to keep his family safe. Then when they got locked up, he was left alone. He then fought with the rebellion against the guardians, till finally someone deleted him, again right next to her. She cried over the boy. He was the only one she ever felt pain for. She felt this way because he reminded her of Bob. That’s when she knew. She knew that Bob was the only thing that was right in her world. She had to find him, so that he could make things better for her...and that’s why she came to get him.

Chapter 9

Things were going as planned, slowly, but smoothly. The other systems were sending what they could, a bit at a time, so as not to cause any attention.

Matrix, AndrAIa and Surfer were at the docks, regulating everything. Phong and Mouse were still looking for something to help Dot, and Bob was in Dot’s office.

Bob was sitting at her desk, and he was staring at a picture Dot kept on its polished surface. It was a picture of them. He had promised Dot that he wouldn’t leave her, but what if she left him? No, he couldn’t let that happen. He had a theory in his head, one that could save Dot, but if it was gonna work, she would have to be very close to deletion.

And what if it didn’t work? What if he let her slip through his fingers? No, he couldn’t believe in that. It had to work- he needed Dot.

Suddenly, Phong barged into the room. “Bob! Come quickly! I think we may be losing her.”

Immediately Bob got up and he and Phong rushed into Dot’s chamber.

Mouse was already talking to Matrix through a vid-window, telling him to get to the P.O.

When Bob and Phong reached Dot’s room, she was in a tremendous seizure. Her body was thrashing about wildly as electric shocks sprang from her body. Phong and Bob couldn’t do anything to stop her because it is always better not to restrain someone having a seizure. Instead, Phong got a bowl of water and a towel. When she stopped, she would need to be cooled down. Just then, the doors flew open as Matrix, AndrAIa and Surfer rushed in.

Matrix stopped short and gasped as he saw his sister, limbs flying every which-way. She seemed to be dying before his eyes. AndrAIa, shocked, clung to Matrix’s arm. Surfer went to Mouse as she rested her head on his shoulder.

After what seemed like seconds, Dot finally receded. But now, there was no sign of life. Her breathing had stopped, and she lay limp and lifeless. The signs of the infection were still visible.

“NOOOOO!” Matrix yelled as he pounded his fists against the wall, tears forming.

AndrAIa slumped against a wall, and cried. Mouse collapsed into Surfer's arms. They both were crying.

Trixie, in her cell, heard the scream and knew what had happened. She hung her head low.

Hack and Slash somehow also knew what had happened. Phong hung his head low and tears dropped to the ground. Bob was still standing by Dot’s side, holding her hand. He wasn’t crying.

Phong gently covered Dot’s body with a white sheet. Things grew quiet, with the exception of the occasional sob. Matrix decided that he couldn’t stay in the room. He stomped out and went to the P.O’s steps. He had lost his parents and now his sister too. His whole family had been deleted. He needed some time and air.

A couple of nanos after Enzo left the room, AndrAIa left also. She went to the P.O’s kitchen to get something to drink. Soon after, Mouse and Ray left to the kitchen too. No one could, nor wanted to, be in the room.

Phong put a hand on Bob’s arm, which was still holding Dot’s hand. He motioned him to leave. Bob turned his gaze from Dot lying under the sheet to Phong. A lump had formed in his throat and he couldn’t talk. Instead he just looked at Phong. Phong nodded slowly at Bob’s gaze and slowly rolled out the room.

The eerie silence of death filled the room. Now Bob’s tears flowed. He sat down on Dot’s bed and pulled the sheet back. He gently touched her cheek, which was now losing warmth. Bob’s eyes overflowed as he broke down, releasing feelings he had kept inside since she had been infected.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered. Bob slowly cradled Dot’s limp body in his arms. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you. I’m sorry I left you...” Bob choked on his tears. “Please, Dot, don’t leave me. I need you...please…” He rocked her gently, though he knew that she wasn’t going to respond, that she couldn’t. He gently wiped sweat and tears from her face and kissed her. This was his last chance and it had to work.

Suddenly, The whole principal office flooded with light. Matrix, who was outside, turned towards the golden doors and quickly rushed inside. What in the Net is happening?

AndrAIa, Mouse, and Surfer came from the kitchen and met in stride with Matrix in the hall. Phong came from his office and caught up with them. The light seemed to be coming from Dot’s chamber. They braced themselves for anything that they were going to see. They burst through the door and gasped.

Chapter 10

Matrix, Mouse, Phong, Surfer and AndrAIa enter the room, and were shocked. They had to shield their eyes from the blinding light. But soon their eyes got accustomed to it. When they squinted, their eyes they could see two figures. In the center of the room, over the medical bed, the figures were hovering. Bob, levitating, was bracing Dot against his body, holding her up, his lips to hers. Dot, still lifeless, drooped slightly, with limbs hanging limply. The light radiated from them. Pure, high-intensity light washed over the two and circled the room, filling it with light.

At first the group was in a state of awe. The sight was incredible. Surfer was the first to snap out of it. “We gotta do something!” The others looked at him awkwardly. He explained. “He could be infected by her!” He yelled over the noise.

“What is he doing?!?” Matrix yelled back

“I dunno!”

“Then what can we do?” AndrAIa asked.

“Wait, my children. That is all we can do.” Phong replied. There was nothing they could do. So they all turned back to the guardian and command.com, impatiently waiting for what was going to happen.

***

The inhabitants of Mainframe looked to the Principal Office as the light burst through it and onto the streets of Mainframe. They gathered in groups as they pondered what could be happening. Those who were in the celebration knew that it had something to do with their fallen command.com.

***

After waiting endlessly, Phong, Mouse, AndrAIa, Surfer and Matrix, finally saw something happen. The light was starting to decrease down to its source: Bob and Dot. Slowly they descended and pulled apart, Bob standing on the medical table, supporting the motionless Dot.

Bob looked at his beloved, his chest heaving. Come on, Dot, pull through. He was looking for any signs of life.

Lethargically, her head rose up. Gasps came from the background as they saw the movement. Dot opened her eyes to meet Bob’s. Then she stumbled in his embrace. He had been supporting her and now she had just regained her composure.

“Dot?” He spoke softly. She looked up at him and smiled, slightly. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m just a little disorientated.” Dot put a hand on his face, wiping the tears away. “I’ve never seen you cry before.” she smiled.

“I’ve never seen you dead before.”

Dot raised an eyebrow. “Thank you, Bob. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes as he cradled her.

“I love you Dot. Just don’t scare me like that again.”

Dot grinned at him mischievously. “Me?” Then she moved locks of hair from Bob’s eyes, and kissed him. “ I love you too.”

The others were in a state of shock. AndrAIa had her hand over her mouth and the other on Enzo’s arm. Surfer put a hand on Mouse’s shoulder to keep her from falling over. Matrix just stood there wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Phong was rubbing his eyes. In all the time he has processed, he had never seen such a miracle.

“SIS!!” Matrix yelled as he came charging at his sister. Dot turned from Bob as Matrix carried her off the table and hugged her tightly. Dot returned the gesture.

“Enzo, not so tight!” Matrix put her down and smiled. She was the only one who could call him that, maybe besides AndrAIa, but he didn’t like it.

“Dot! Don’t you ever pull one on me like that that again, do ya hear me?”

“Yes, Mouse.” Dot smiled.

“Sugah, you scared me halfway to deletion.” Mouse said, quieter, as she hugged Dot. She shared more hugs with AndrAIa, Ray, Hack and Slash.

“It is good to have you back, my child. You have been missed.” Dot also hugged Phong.

“Ahem.” a soft voice was heard from the back of the room. Everyone turned to find Trixie hesitantly standing in the doorway. No one moved.

Dot stood upright, chin up, proud as always, and slowly walked up to the sprite that had deleted her. The others followed after her, Bob at her side. The two sprites stood in front of each other, silence engulfing them.

“I’m..uh...I know you must really hate me right now, and that no matter of pleading can take away the fact that I..uh, well you know..”

“Deleted my sister.” Matrix spoke up from the back.

Trixie looked up at Matrix. “Right. And I don’t know if this will mean anything to you, or that you even care about anything I have to say; I’m not asking for compassion, or forgiveness, but I just want you to know that I didn’t mean to hurt you, and that I’m truly sorry.”

There was a dead silence in the room, as Dot said nothing. Trixie was in an awkward situation so she started to fidget. “And I'm getting help now...thanks to Bob.” She fidgeted and gestured towards Bob. “He’s a great guy. And I’m sorry that I tried to infect him. I’m sorry I messed up your life...all your lives.” Trixie was still fidgeting with her hands as she looked at each sprite in the face, trying to determine what they thought about her. But most importantly, she wanted to know what Dot was thinking. “So....” Trixie held out her hand, waiting for Dot’s.

Dot stood, eyes squinted, trying to figure Trixie out, what she was trying to do. All eyes were on her. She could feel them, but it didn’t matter. There was a long pause.

Trixie nodded, and withdrew her hand. Just then Dot took a step towards Trixie and hugged her.

Trixie, shocked at the motion, returned the hug and glanced at Bob over Dot’s shoulder. He just smiled and winked at her.

Matrix, AndrAIa, Mouse, Surfer and Phong all stood in a row with their mouths wide open and eyes practically ready to pop out.

“What in the Net just happened?” Matrix asked quietly, to no one in particular.

“I’m tryin’ to figure that out, I'll get back to you when I do.” Ray replied.

“To forgive is to do something great, but to ask to be forgiven is even greater.” Phong spoke softly, his wise words.

Dot and Trixie separated, and Dot faced the group. “So, what’s the plan?”

The group smiled. She just got deleted, revived, faced her killer, and now she was back to business...same Dot Matrix.

Chapter 11

“THAT’S the plan?!” Dot stood with arms crossed in front of Matrix, AndrAIa, Bob, Mouse, Surfer, Phong, and Trixie in the conference room of the P.O.

“Just WHO thought of it?”

Everyone pretended to be doing something else as Bob and Matrix reluctantly raised their hands. Everyone held their breath.

“Listen Dot, we can explain...” Matrix started.

“Yeah, we know we're not the greatest at making plans but--” Bob stopped as Dot glared at him to hush.

Dot looked over the two sprites, and then smiled. “Brilliant. I couldn’t have done better myself.”

A sense of relief rushed over Matrix and Bob when they heard her speak. Behind them they heard a very loud exhale as everyone else let go of the breath they were keeping in.

“Okay people, enough talking, we have work to do. Phong, I want the citizens aware of what’s going on. Matrix and AndrAIa, go with a group of CPUs. I want them evacuated and put into safety zones. Mouse, you and Surfer go to the docks and start settling the newcomers. Tell them to send leaders to me so I can fill them in on what’s going to happen. Bob, you and Trixie go with them to start setting up the battle stations. Okay, everyone knows what to do...so GO!”

Right away the sprites shuffled and scattered. Dot left the control centre and was walking through the corridors when she felt a grip around her waist. Normally, Dot would’ve panicked but instead she closed her eyes and let the warm embrace surround her. Bob had silently come up from behind and given her a hug. They stayed like that for a few moments until they heard a polite *ahem* behind them. They turned to find Trixie standing awkwardly.

“Sorry to do this but, uh, Bob we should be going,” she said quietly.

“Right. I’ll be there in a nano,” Bob replied. He turned his gaze back to the sprite that was in his arms. “I’m so glad you're back,” he whispered in her ear and gently kissed her cheek. Then he walked backwards in Trixie’s direction, not wanting to turn away from the violet eyes that held his gaze.

Trixie looked away. She could feel tears welling up inside her. She fought to keep them down. He’s not yours anymore, she reminded herself. But that didn’t ease what she felt inside.

Dot watched as they left and silently wondered if she was okay with the fact that Bob was going off with Trixie. Trixie, his ex, her killer and Daemon’s minion. But still, she knew that Trixie had a good heart, and she trusted in Bob. He just better not do anything basic...

Chapter 12

It had been a very long and tiring process to get everything ready. Now all they had to do was wait. The city had been evacuated into the P.O. and underground tunnels. Secret battle stations were set up all over Mainframe. Those would take care of Daemon’s minions. Daemon herself would make her way to the P.O. and there they would destroy her. That part, however, was left to Bob and Matrix to pull off.

“Phong, can I talk to you?” Bob poked his head through Phong’s office.

“Of course, my son.” Phong motioned for Bob to come in and have a seat.

“Now, what is bothering you my child?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking...about Daemon. Matrix and I haven’t actually come up with a really good plan to defeat her.”

“Oh dear. Have you talked to Dot about it? Maybe she could--”

“No!” Bob shook his head. “I--She couldn’t...she can’t help us out...not this time.”

“Why not?”

“Because this is a SUPER virus. I’ve never dealt with one, and I don’t want her or anyone getting in the way or getting hurt. We have no idea the power or strength Daemon possesses. If Dot’s plan doesn’t work, then there’d be a lot more people hurt.”

“I see.”

“Yeah, but I have this theory... see when I, uh, 'revived' Dot, I harnessed enough energy to override her systems and the infection.”

“Go on.”

“Well, I was thinking, if I could muster up enough energy, I could defeat Daemon. The only problem is, it might take all of my energy.”

“You mean...” Phong paused.

Bob was growing uncomfortable in the silence. “And this way Matrix wouldn’t have to fight and the guardians would return to normal and---”

“I take it you haven’t told Dot.” Phong looked at the guardian with much sadness.

“No...” Bob replied quietly, looking at the floor. “I can’t...she’d...she’d only try to stop me. And this is the only way... but I need your help Phong.” Bob looked up at the elderly sprite.

“What is it that you wish of me?” Phong answered after a brief hesitation.

“I’m not exactly sure how... I mean, to give up all my energy, I’d be...well… deleted...so how could I use it against Daemon?”

After moments of pondering, Phong replied. “I can convert you into pure energy, store it and when the time comes, defeat the virus.”

Bob just nodded. He knew that this wasn’t going to be easy on the elderly sprite. He turned to leave.

“Bob... there is an old read-me file that says, ‘It’s better for loved ones hearts’ to find out secrets before, rather than after death.’”

Bob stopped in the doorway and pondered the old man’s words. “Thanks, Phong,” he said gratefully and left.

Chapter 13

The girls were all at Dot’s apartment, getting ready for their dates with the guys. All except for Trixie. She was with Phong in the P.O. going over that last-minute details. Hack and Slash were there too, just in case anything happened.

“Ah don’t like it.” Mouse said looking down at the dark purple dress that went a little past her knees. It had a slit on both sides and there were two straps on each side.

“Aww Mouse, you look great.” AndrAIa replied, turning from the hacker to a mirror to examine herself. She wore an aquamarine dress that ended just above her knees. The straps went and crisscrossed all over her back. “This is a little weird...but I like it.”

“This thing don’t give nearly enough support…” Mouse mumbled under her breath, fixing her dress.

“What was that Mous--” AndrAIa stopped.

“AHHHHHHH!” A loud shriek came from the bathroom where Dot was changing. “I’m sooo FAT! Ewww...this is disgusting!” Dot was yelling through the door.

Mouse and AndrAIa exchanged relieved looks. Mouse shook her head and knocked on the door. “Now sugah you can’t look that bad. Now come on out and let’s take a look at ya.”

“No! I’m not coming out! Tell Bob I’m sick or have a meeting or something!” came the reply.

“Dot, come on! You know Bob’s not gonna believe us!” AndrAIa came to the door to try to get her friend out.

“Yeah, that guardian of yours ain’t been one ta fool so easy.” Mouse paused. “Now Dot I’m gonna count ta three and if you're not out here in that time, we’re gonna bust through and getcha! One...two...”

“Okay okay! I’m coming...” were the muffled words spoken. They stood back as the door slowly opened.

“Awwww DOT!”

“Honey, you gotta take that thing OFF!”

*humph* “No, I don’t.” Dot said matter-of-factly. She had changed, but wore her bath robe over her dress. All you could see were her high strappy heels. “Ack! I can’t walk in these things!” She sat on her recharge bed and took them off. Mouse and AndrAIa just shook their heads.

“So how do I look?” AndrAIa asked, twirling.

“You look fine for the hundredth time!” Mouse said, exasperated with the question. She went to a chair and sat down, shifting uncomfortably in her dress.

“Yeah, you look great.” Dot added from her bed, she then took a sip of her energy shake.

They were all finished and ready to go (with the exception of Dot’s shoes) so Mouse suggested a lil’ game of truth or dare.

“Ooo! I go first...Mouse truth or dare?” AndrAIa said happily.

Mouse smiled mischievously. “Dare.”

“Hmmm...Oh okay! I dare you to give a full blown kiss to Bob, in front of Dot.”

“That’s it sugah? Okay.” They turned to see Dot’s reaction. Dot just sat there, eyebrow cocked, mouth opened.

“N'uh uh. No... Mouse NO!”

“Sorry, honey, but a dare’s a dare.” Mouse replied. Dot was about to say something but closed her mouth. Instead she sat back and crossed her arms.

“Okay...my turn. AndrAIa...truth or dare?” Mouse emphasized, “dare”.

“Truuu.... DARE!” AndrAIa replied in a child-like manner.

“Ah dare YOU to give Bob a big ol’ kiss...in front of Dot.” Mouse said teasingly.

“I should have known...” AndrAIa uttered laughingly.

Again Dot was at lost for words. She threw her hands in the air, giving up on trying to change their minds.

“Dot…Your turn… truth or dare?”

“Umm...” Then looking at the expressions on her friends’ faces decided that they were up to something. “Truth.”

AndrAIa and Mouse smiled, satisfied. AndrAIa belted out the question. “So Dot... have you and Bob ever--”

“DARE!” Dot yelled, not wanting to answer that question. AndrAIa pouted and stuck out her tongue. Mouse, on the other hand, smiled.

“Okay sugah. We dare ya to tell us if you and Bob have ever...” Mouse let her voice trail off, knowing that Dot knew what she was asking.

“I am not answering that!” She got up to lock herself in her bathroom again, but AndrAIa quickly got up and blocked her. Dot turned around only to find Mouse blocking her only other exit.

“Oh my user.” Dot sighed and collapsed on her recharge bed.

“Come on Dot…you gotta answer!” AndrAIa wined.

“Yeah sugah, a dare is a dare.” Mouse said flopping into the chair again, AndrAIa on another.

There was a long pause. Dot had herself face down on the bed. “Noghe” came the muffled answer.

“A...wha?” Mouse and AndrAIa asked, leaning forward inattentively.

Dot lifted her head slightly off her bed. “No,” she said so quietly that Mouse and AndrAIa had barely heard it.

“Oh,” was AndrAIa’s response. She knew she’d hit a sensitive spot.

Mouse’s however, was a little less reserved. “What!?!” Mouse said in disbelief. “Ya mean that after all this time (which was only about 2 user weeks) after the reboot you still haven’t...whoa. I’d think by the way ya’ll been actin’ that...”

“Mouse! I just got him back!” Dot sat up.

“But sugah...you love him right?”

“Well, yeah, but...”

“But what?” AndrAIa inquired.

“Do you see a ring on this finger?” Dot held up her ring finger of her left hand.

“Yes,” came the reply.

“Wha?..oh” Dot had forgot about her promise ring.

“Honey is that why? Cuz you ain’t married?”

“Can we just drop it? I answered already!” Dot didn’t want to go any deeper into the issue.

“Fine, honey.”

Suddenly, the doorbell sounded.

“Oh No! They’re HERE!!” They all sprang to life, double-checking, to see if they looked all right.

“Honey is my hair okay?”

“Fine, Mouse,” AndrAIa replied without looking, she had lost one of her starfish. She found it on the floor.

“SHOES!” Dot pulled out a box and opened it. She got out plain white flat shoes (think *Adidas) and put them on.

***

Meanwhile downstairs Dot’s apartment...

The guys had let themselves inside, silently sitting down on Dot’s couch as they listened to the girls in another room.

“Ow! Stupid starfish!”

“You’re gonna wear those shoes?”

“Shut up Mouse!”

“Hey! Where’s my katana?”

The guys stared at each other and started to laugh.

“Ohmigosh! Are they still outside? We didn’t let them in!”

***

Upstairs... Dot’s room.

“Okay ready! Go, go, go!” AndrAIa started to push the others out.

“Dot wait! Your robe!”

“Oh right!.. wait No! I’m not going!”

***

Downstairs...

The guys heard a couple of things fall over and break. They shot each other glances, but laughed it off. Women, they thought.

***

“No! I’m not going!” Dot yelled trying to avoid Mouse and AndrAIa.

“AndrAIa...go the other way and I’ll go here. Get her!” The two sprites cornered Dot.

“Now sugah you’re going and take that blasted robe off!”

“Yeah, Dot! Don’t make me use these!” AndrAIa flashed her nails.

“Fine!” Dot hesitantly pulled off the robe and put it on her bed. She was wearing a light airy red dress that came a little over mid-thigh. It had gold straps and was tight up top then flowed outwards. “Not one word,” Dot said, looking at the two sprites. She pouted. “Let’s go.”

***

The guys heard the girls coming and they stood up to greet them. Ray was wearing red button-down silk shirt and black pants. Matrix was wearing a green shirt that had white trim; he left it untucked and loose dark blue pants. Bob wore a baby blue oversized shirt that he let out, and baggy black pants (jeans). Beforehand, Phong had given Bob something that made the degradation from the web disappear. So now he looked like he did before he was shot into the Web.

They heard the girls rush down the stairs, through the shadows, but slowly stopped when they saw the guys in the living room. They could only really see Mouse and AndrAIa since Dot was behind them and was a lot shorter.

Mouse, remembering her dare, started to walk in Bob’s direction. Ray’s arms opened in a welcoming embrace, but Mouse just pushed him aside and looked at Bob.

“Mouse?..” Ray turned to place a hand on her shoulder, but another hand intercepted.

“You don’t wanna go there, trust me.” AndrAIa stated matter-of-factly.

Bob, who had been trying to see something of Dot besides the color of her dress, just now noticed Mouse walking towards him, swaying her hips a little too much.

“Hey Mouse, you look great. You too AndrAIa.” Bob said. Mouse didn't reply, but had a mischievous grin on her face. Bob, a little uneasy, started to back away. “Heh, so…Mouse what are you doing?” Bob was now backed into a corner. No response from the hacker. Bob attempted to go around Mouse, but she put an arm against the wall on each side of his head, blocking all means of escape. “Dot?..” he squeaked. Just then Mouse kissed Bob hard on the lips.

Ray’s eyes looked like they were gonna pop out of his goggles. AndrAIa examined her nails, knowing that she’d have to go next. Matrix’s jaw went slack. He looked down at his sister, who had her head down, shaking it, mumbling to herself. The kiss was lasting a really long time.

“She’s gotta be going for some kind’ve record.” AndrAIa whispered.

Matrix chuckled. “Same ol’ Mouse.”

When Mouse finally let go, both her and Bob were sucking in air. “Uh, okay Mouse, I’ll just be going now...” Bob ducked under one of Mouse’s arms and started towards the others. No sooner had he walked five steps than he was bowled over by AndrAIa, and again held in lip-lock position. Mouse casually stepped over them.

“Whoo hoo.” Mouse said, returning to Ray and fanning her face with her hand. “That guardian sure knows how to--”

“I think you enjoyed that a little too much.” Ray cut her off. “Aww, relax sugah, me and Bob go back a long ways, it don’t mean nothin’.”

Matrix was now the one in shock. “Would--Would someone tell me what in the Net is going on?” He looked at Dot, who was hitting her head against the wall.

“I think it’s the hair, mate.” Ray replied.

If it had been anyone but Bob, Matrix would’ve deleted him. Instead, he tapped his foot impatiently. Then AndrAIa pulled away from Bob and got off of him. She smiled when she saw Matrix’s expression.

Bob lay on the floor, eyes closed, gasping for air. Then he felt something on his stomach. He opened his eyes to a white shoe on him. Using his eyes, he followed up a green leg, red dress, to a face glaring at him.

“Heh..Dot...” As soon as Bob uttered those words, Dot grabbed him by the neck, picked him off the ground, and shoved him against the wall. “Dot...I, uh... I can explain...” Bob blurted out. Suddenly Dot grabbed him by the head and kissed him long, and hard. This time he returned the kiss.

“Yup, definitely the hair.”

“I don’t understand women.” Matrix grumbled under his breath.

“Copy and paste that.” Ray gave Matrix a confused look. Matrix shrugged.

“Sugah, what’s ta understand?” Mouse shot AndrAIa a mischievous look and they both started laughing.

Meanwhile, Dot pulled away from Bob and let go of his neck. Immediately, he fell to the ground. Dot had been supporting him and now he was left on the ground, panting hard.

“Okay, we can go now!” AndrAIa yelled from the back.

Bob was helped up off the ground, bewildered by what had just happened. The couple headed out the door, Bob being elbowed by both Matrix and Ray.

"Why is it that you always get the girl?" Matrix enquired.

"Or should we say girls?" Ray added.

"Yeah, there's Dot, Hex, Mouse, and now AndrAIa."

"I'll get back to you on that when I figure it out." Bob replied, smiling slightly to himself.

"Boys, RELAX! Can you say...Truth or Dare??" AndrAIa looked at the hopeless batch of sprites that were supposed to be defenders of the system.

"Oooooh."

"Men!" both Dot and Mouse exclaimed.

"Women!" the guys muttered under their breath.

"What did y'all just say?"

"Nothing." Came the all-too-polite answer.


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