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Part 7

“So let me get this straight; you, AndrAIa and Bob are in the first cube, but a second cube dropped which is the one I went into, and all because the game is too big to only use the normal system capacity; so two cubes dropped?” Dot managed in one breath, but the confused expression remained on her face.

Matrix nodded before adding: “Bob thinks it may have something to do with the new system. It’s more able to cope with a larger game or something.”

“So where are they now?”

“AndrAIa and Bob are planting bombs underneath the main building in the centre of the game. Then Bob will come back and swap places with me so AndrAIa and I can get the hostage out before Bob sets the detonator to explode.”

Dot considered this for a nano then the puzzled expression was back. “What about the User?”

“There’s too many. They fight against each other as well as us, but if we don’t destroy the control centre before the Users get there or they delete each other until only one remains, we lose the game.”

“What can I do?”

Matrix knew that question had been coming and had been dreading it. The truth was the three of them had a good plan so they didn’t really need a fourth player, and although all the help they could get would be useful, Matrix felt as though he had switched roles with his sister from all those times before the web world wars – wanting to protect her but not let her know that.

“Well-” he began, then swung round so fast Dot barely knew what was happening.

“Enzo what’s wrong?” She whispered as he looked from side to side, scanning the dark room.

“I heard a noise. Came from over there,” Matrix replied quietly, creeping forward just as a louder noise both of them could hear. He was in front of Dot in a nano-second and had Gun aimed and ready.

“Wow Sparky it’s just us!” AndrAIa cried out, raising her hands defensively, as she appeared though the covered hole in the wall and came face to face with Gun.

“Sorry Andy. I thought you said you would radio before you got back?”

“Yeah, the batteries on these things are pretty basic, so we can only use them in emergencies.” She moved forward to hug him and suddenly saw Dot behind him. “Hey Dot, what are you doing here?”

Dot grinned, grateful for her friend’s pleasant greeting and replied: “Long story.”

“How are you feeling?” She asked kindly, hoping that asking would not provoke any pain for her.

“I’m okay. Just a bit bruised that’s all.” Dot smiled reassuringly, and then noticed Matrix’s face darken in anger as she said it. She reached out to rest a hand on Matrix’s arm. “I’m fine honestly.”

“Everything’s set up at the control centre. But Bob and I had a bit of a run-in with some of the game-sprites guarding the place so we’ll have to be extra cautious getting the hostages out.” AndrAIa informed him, just before Bob appeared out of the shadows behind her.

“Hey guys- Dot?” Bob said in surprise, and then reconsidered. “I’m not even going to ask!” He laughed as he hugged her. Bob was wearing a similar outfit to Matrix, both in black leather coats that ended at the knee and black shirt and tie, although Matrix had loosened the tie and unbuttoned the top buttons on his shirt. AndrAIa looked as elegant as always but stood out from the others as she was dressed entirely in spotless white. The style however, was very similar to Dot’s outfit, tight leather trousers and strappy leather top, her hair tied back in a high ponytail.

“You guys all set?” Bob directed at Matrix and AndrAIa, pulling back from the hug with his girlfriend but leaving an arm round her waist.


“Yeah, give us twenty millis. We'll radio if there's any trouble." AndrAIa replied, glancing at Matrix, who nodded, his hand subconsiously going to Gun's holster on his hip.

"Be careful you two." Dot said.

"Stay frosty!" Bob called after them as they disappeared out of the room through the shadows, then turned to Dot. "And you-" he kissed the tip of her nose. "Should be taking it easy."

"Don't I always?" She answered with her best innocent smile.

"No, babe, you don't." He laughed. "The nano we're out of this game I want you to rest."

Dot smiled again but didn't reply. "What do we do now?"

"We do nothing. I'll wait another-" he checked his internal clock Glitch enabled, "eighteen millis, then trigger the detonator and it's game-over."

"Can't I do anything?" Dot asked, looking up at him with a pained expression at not being able to help.

"Nope." Bob replied, not leaving any room for argument. He gently brushed his fingers up her arm, across her shoulder to the bandage covering the stitches on her collarbone; his eyes suddenly became haunted, loosing all the humour from only nanos ago. "Does this still hurt?"

"My wrists are a bit sore but my shoulder's fine. Don't worry about me, Bob." She assured him in a gentle voice, reaching up to cup his injured cheek.

"I can't help it, Dot." He slipped his arms round her small waist and she clasped her hands behind his neck. "I love you so much."

"I love you too." Dot tilted her head back to meet his kiss. "We shouldn't be doing this here." She protested weakly, trying to keep a straight face.

"Maybe not, but you look too fantastic in that outfit for me to keep my hands to myself." Bob reasoned with a predatory grin.

He managed almost five millis of kissing and cuddling before the lack of control got the better of her.

"Surely we should be doing something? How do we detonate the explosives? From this room or-"

"Dot, there's nothing we can do right now, just trust me, okay?" Bob reassured her.

"Of course I trust you- I just don't trust your plans."

"Hey!" They laughed together until Bob suddenly sensed something.

"Come on we have to get out of here!" He grabbed her hand and led her out of the room quickly, a hole in the wall covered by a thick blanket of some kind.

Suddenly the whole room erupted into flames, followed immediately by an explosion opposite where they were escaping. Bob pushed Dot forward, landing on top of her to take the brunt of the blast himself.

Now outside, Bob immediately pulled Dot up and ran for the nearest alley. Although it was still dark outside, the flames from the burning building they had just escaped from lit the entire night in an orange heat glow.

"Bob! Are you hurt? You shouldn't have done that!" Dot gasped breathlessly.

"Keep running Dot!" He still had a hold of her hand so she would keep pace with him and she could already feel herself slowing Bob down.

"Do you know where to go Bob?"

"Yeah, there's another safe-house down here." He replied, referring to the end of the alley.

They stopped abruptly in front of what looked like a trap door in the ground. Both sprites looked back where they had run from - there was no one following them. Bob bent down and opened the door to reveal a drop of about 10 feet.

"Jump Dot. Bend your knees as you land."

Dot stared at him, hoping he was kidding, but knew he wasn't. He rubbed her arm reassuringly.

"I'll be straight down after you." Bob said, kissing her quickly.

She turned round without answering, closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then jumped.

Bob saw her land a bit heavily, dropping to her knees.

"Dot, are you okay?"

"Yeah, come on!"

Bob checked behind him again and jumped down, landing with an "Ow!" as he landed more on one foot than the other.

"Quick, into the shadows."

He grasped her hand again and pulled her with him.

"Bob, your back!" Dot whispered loudly in surprise. The back of his armour was smouldering slightly from the explosion, but she couldn't tell how bad it was.

"It's okay, its just a bit warm. Hasn't got through my armour." Bob assured her with a confident smile, then kissed her quickly to ease her concerned frown.

"Bob? Bob, come in!" The radio on his belt suddenly crackled.

"Yeah, Enzo. What's wrong?" Bob replied.

"There was an explosion - is Dot okay?"

"Yeah. We got out of the safe house before the place went up in flames. Is everything okay your end?"

"We had some trouble with a couple of game-sprites, but we took care of them." Matrix informed them.

"So you got the hostage out of the building?"

"Yeah, it wasn't too difficult. Another two millis will be more than enough time to clear the area."

"Great. See you back in Mainframe." Bob answered, and then switched the radio off. He turned to see Dot bent over, rubbing her leg, but she straightened up and smiled as she realised he was looking at her.

"All this running is giving me cramps." She laughed. "Where's the detonator?"

"I've got it right here." Bob replied, producing a basic black cube with a single red button on it.



"What do we do if we need to get out of here?"

"Out of this room?" Dot nodded. "I'm not sure there's a way out to be honest, but the detonator can be triggered from here."

Dot still looked anxious, not liking the thought of being trapped in a room with no way out.

"Hey, don't worry. Everything-"

"Bob! Bob!" Matrix's urgent voice suddenly came across the radio. "Set it off now!"

Then there were blasts of light falling from the open trap door in the ceiling, setting the room ablaze. Bob heard Dot scream and he grabbed ahold of her in his arms. He pushed the detonator button just as the room exploded.

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