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Chapter Nine


Bob almost cried out in surprise as Dot's body went slack, almost dropping her. Luckily, he managed to grab her before she fell to the floor. "Dot?" he said in amazement. Her eyes were closed, and her skin was flickering with a random transparency.
What happened? he thought, then he realized he had to help her. Sliding one arm around her back, and one under her knees, he picked her up carefully. Having his arms full, he kicked the door open, and walked down the hall to find someone.
Mouse, coming down the hall with the surfer, suddenly stopped short when she saw the couple.
"She needs help, now." Bob stated. Mouse nodded and took off to find Capacitor.
Running down the hall, Mouse almost tripped over the captain. "Come with me, Dot needs help." She panted. Capacitor looked at her in shook, then motioned for her to go.

***


Coming up beside Bob, Capacitor looked intently at Dot. "Take the lass to my quarters." he instructed Bob. "Someone go get the Princess." he barked to a nearby pirate. The pirate ran down the hall as fast as his stumpy legs would take him.
Bob entered the Captain's room still carrying Dot, the surfer behind him. Against the wall was a large bed, which he carefully put her down on. The memory of Dot lying in the med room on the Web Rider base flooded back. He remembered the doctor had said she needed the blood of a relative. At the time Bob thought there had been no chance of that, but things were different now. He hated to do it, but he ran out of the room. Behind him he could hear Ray asking where he was off to.
His feet pounded on the floor, and Bob was breathing hard by the time he got to Matrix's cabin. Why did it have to be this far away? he asked himself ironically as he anxiously hit his fist against the wooden door.
AndrAIa opened the door, but as soon as she saw the look on Bob's face she called for Matrix. Bob looked at her with a puzzled look. She shrugged, saying simply, "Woman's intuition."
When Matrix came to the door, he explained quickly what had happened, and the two were headed back down the hall in an instant.

***

"You're sure this will work?" a worried Matrix inquired of Princess Bula. "Might work." she said dryly.
"Not the most encouraging bloke, are ya." The surfer said, a little annoyed with the binome's language skills. "Well, all of you who aren't doing anything important, including me, get out!" Most of the group agreed that the place was stuffed and left, Bob hesitating, but in the end deciding to wait along with Ray Tracer, Mouse, and AndrAIa. Matrix and Bula stayed.
The group of four sprites sat in the cluttered banquet room, where, a short time ago, the party had taken place. Donuts, liquor bottles, and broken glass were still scattered around. Mouse sat on the edge of the table; AndrAIa beside her, the surfer in a partly broken chair, and Bob leaned up against a wall with his arms crossed over his chest, not paying much attention to what was being said.
AndrAIa tried to comfort him. "She'll be okay. All she needs is a doner, and Matrix is here. Just give it a bit of time." He sighed, but had to agree, she was right. All they could do now was wait.

***

Matrix sat anxiously in his chair watching the coloured fluid flow through the tubing. "Okay." said Bula in her monotone voice, and pressed the icon-shaped button that stopped the machine. The last drops slid down the tube, and into Dot's arm. Her skin had changed from the fading light green, back to her healthier, darker green.
"How long before she wakes up?" Matrix asked impatiently. "Maybe soon. Maybe not."
He sighed, frustrated. Then he turned his attention back to his sister. "Please wake up, he pleaded taking her hand, hoping for any kind of reaction. She still didn't move, and her eyes remained closed. For a moment, morbid thoughts crossed his mind, ones of her dying, and him being without a family. He tried to shake them off as paranoid thoughts, but it still lingered.
At that moment, he felt her hand move slightly, and when he looked up at her, was almost surprised to see her awake. "Ow." she muttered rubbing her side, and shifted postion sit up. She took a short look at the plastic tube in the back of her hand, and asked in confusion, "What happened now?"
Her brother smiled and said, "You collapsed because of loss of blood." Dot moved her hands and feet, and to her surprise, she felt much better, even better than before. Gripping the edge of the bed she swung her legs around, and stood up. "Um, are you sure you should be up so early?" Matrix questioned. He didn't want another occurrence. "I'm fine. Now how do I get thing basic thing out of me." she said, giving it a little pull.
"I help." Princess Bula offered, and came over to unhook the two siblings. Rubbing her wrist, she told her brother happily, "Let's go find the others." Then she pushed open the door and walked out like nothing had happened.
Matrix stood perplexed in the captain's room. He ran his hand through his hair absent-mindedly, and grinned. Well, at least one thing hasn't changed, she's always been stuborn. He pushed open the door and went after her.

Chapter Ten

Dot walked down the long, dimly lit corridor, intent on finding her friends. Checking back at her room, she found that Mouse wasn't there, and her friend's bed hadn't been slept in. She didn't know Bob's room number, so she would just have to hope she eventually ran into him.
When Matrix ran up behind her, she turned and asked, "Where is everyone?" He shrugged, having no idea. They both began down the hall again, until they heard the sound of muffled voices through a wall. When Matrix pushed open the door the banquet room, he found the group of sprites disscusing Daemon, the supervirus. As soon as AndrAIa spotted him, she stopped in the middle of her sentence and welcomed him. The others stopped talking, wanting to know how the other Matrix was doing. Matrix entered the room, making enough space for Dot to get through.
"You're up already, Sugah. Ah thought you'd need some time to rest." Mouse said, concerned. "I feel fine." Dot stated. Glancing over at Bob, she saw he was standing with his arms crossed, and eyebrows raised. He didn't look all that convinced. Dot quickly tried to change the subject.
"So, who's Daemon?" she inquired. Ray spoke up, and began telling her about the virus that had begun infecting whole sectors and even parts of the web. By the time he had finished, it was very late, and Dot was exhausted. "Well, ah don't know about you, but I'm gettin' some sleep.
Everyone agreed, and they left the messy room, Ray, Matrix and AndrAIa going their separate ways as they found their cabins. Just outside their cabin, Bob pulled Dot aside and let Mouse go in alone. She flashed them both a smug grin, but said nothing, closing the door quietly.
"Are you sure your okay?" he asked. Dot nodded, saying she felt much better. There was an awkward moment of silence, but it was broken when Mouse yelled out, "Ah get the top bunk!" They both grinned at the hacker's immature behaviour. "Well...goodnight." Dot said, and before Bob could return the comment, she gave him a small kiss on the cheek and quickly slipped through the door, leaving him alone in the hall.
Dot stretched and flopped down on the bottom bunk. What a day. She thought tiredly. She pulled the pillow closer, and, without even using the energy covers, was soon asleep.

***

Bob stood in the hallway trying to figure out what had just happened. He grinned happily to himself, and started to his room. When he reached it, he found the surfer sitting in the bottom bunk."Does it matter which one you get, mate?" He inquired. Bob shook his head negatively. There was no ladder, so he gripped the far side of the bed and pulled his body up. He lay on the bed for a long time thinking about the recent events. Bob's thoughts were interrupted when he heard the surfer roll over. He then realized how tired he was, and got into a more comfortable position so he could get some sleep too. Soon it was impossible for him to stay awake, and he drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Bob was suddenly jolted awake again by a huge tremor running down the ship. It was so large, it nearly knocked him off the bunk, but he managed to grab on before he fell.
"What was that!?" Ray called from below. In an instant Tracer was on his feet. Bob slid of the bed on his stomach and landed with a thump as his feet hit the wooden floor. Another jolt rocked the ship at a severe angle, and the two sprites were slammed against the far wall. The ship the slowly tilted back to its original position. The two exchanged glances, and were out the door in a microsecond.
On deck, they found a group of panicking pirates. "What's going on? Bob yelled over the noise. Capacitor hobbled up to explain the situation. We found Mainframe's address, but when we get too close, it activated some kind of security system."
Looking at the vid-windows, Bob saw he was right. Outside the ship, he could see large energy pulses zigzagging around the ship, some getting dangerously close.
Dot, Mouse, and Matrix ran up behind Bob, with AndrAIa and Frisket right after them. "What's goin' on?" Mouse cried, obviously very angry. Capacitor patiently explained the situation again. "Cursor!" The hacker said sighing. The sprites turned to face her. "This is my fault," she explained. "I created this when we had to work with Megabyte to get rid of the web creatures, right before you were shot out here, Sugah." She motioned to Bob. "I'll fix it in a nano." She wasted no time, and ran to find the main controls.
In the meantime, a huge pulse of energy sped towards the ship. It ripped through the empty Web, streaming closer and closer.
Matrix, who was focusing on the tear through the Web shielding, suddenly saw the blast coming from the corner of his eye. "There's a huge blast coming this way!" he called loudly. "Grab onto something!" he yelled urgently, but there was barely any time, and the pulse slammed into the front of the Mare with enough force to flatten several buildings. The power instantly shut down, leaving them in complete darkness, and unable to move the ship.
Dot, who was standing near the front of the ship, was knocked to the ground, and began sliding backwards. The red emergency lights were activated, and she could see she was sliding right towards the main mast. As she slid across the sharply angled floor, she reached out and wrapped her arms around the mast, pulling her self closer.
Bob also found there was no floor under his feet, and fell hard. He tried desperatly to get some kind of grip. Dot saw him sliding across the floor, and stretching out, caught his wrist. His weight pulled heavily on her arm, and she struggled to hold onto the pole. It had been hard enough to hold her own wieght, let alone his.
The floor was now tilted at a dangerous angle, and the floor, which was originally the back of the ship, was dozens of meters below. She emitted a small cry, and dug her nails futiley into the wood. Bob saw her straining to hold his weight up, and noticed her muscles were shaking.
"Let go!" He cried. If she lost her grip, they would both plummet to the ground. There was no need for both of them to be deleted.
"NO!" She gasped, jamming her eyes shut and concentrating on hanging on. "Do it Dot!" he ordered sharply. Dot ignored his warnings and tried frantically to keep her muscles from giving out. They were now in spasms, and she was in excruciating pain. At the moment she was about to give up, the ship began falling forward again. The sprite's bodies slammed against the wood. Dot relaxed her muscles and lay shaking on the floor.
Bob slowly struggled to his feet, and made his way to where Dot was lying. He carefully helped her sit up, and said gratefully, "You always were too stubborn."

***

"There's the tear!" Capacitor called. Matrix stood up, helping AndrAIa up and dusting himself off. Focusing through the web shielding, he saw the tear to Mainframe was almost directly in front of the ship. He sighed in relief, happy that they would be out of range of the energy bolts. The ship was about to reach it, when it abruptly collapsed.
"What happened?" The Surfer asked, looking surprised. Mouse frowned. "This is the second part of the trap I set." Everyone looked at her. "There's a second part?" Dot said, stumbling to her feet and rubbing her shoulder.
"Yup. Ahn it gets a lot worse." Mouse said ruefully. AndrAIa sighed in frustration. Suddenly, as if on cue, something rammed into the back of the Saucy Mare and began to slowly push it forward, towards the tear. If they were pushed into it, the ship would be destroyed, and they would all be killed.
Matrix crossed his arms. "This is the second trap?" Mouse nodded, then ran back to the controls to see what see could do.

While Mouse was busy, the rest could only stand around helplessly. This was Mouse's trap, and only she knew how to disarm it in time.
Mouse's fingers raced along, typing in the code that would (hopefully) save them all from a horrible deletion. She tried not to think of what would happen if it didn't work. Time began to grow short. Looking up at the vid window, she saw the tear was getting closer.
"Um, Mouse? Now is good!" Bob told her anxiously. Mouse only had to press enter. She slammed her finger on the control. Nothing happened. Cursors, we're all going to be deleted. She thought pessimistically. There was an odd moment of silence. What could she do now?
She turned to the others. There was no need to tell them the news, they could all tell by the look on her face. In a moment of uncharacteristic weakness, she looked at her feet in shame. "I'm sorry, she whispered. Dot closed her eyes and the information sink in. Just when everything had been going right in her life, it suddenly came to a grinding halt.
There was silence on the ship except for the sound of creaking wood.

Chapter Eleven


The silence was abruptly broken when Glitch began emitting strange, high-pitched noises. Everyone turned to see the distraction, and found Bob listening to the uncomprehensible sounds.
"No we can't do th-" he began, but the impatient key tool cut him off with more mechanical sounds. He paused, reconsidering. Sighing, he gave in. "Alright. If it's the only way." He said seriously to his friend.
Before any one could ask him what was going on, he motioned for several pirates to get out of the way. Taking a deep breath, he then gave a new command. "Glitch, download!"
Glowing with a gold luminescence, Glitch flew off Bob's wrist and circled around him, a trail of gold light following behind him. Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light, and Bob was left standing in the same postion, only instead of the dark web armour, he was now wearing silver armour that covered from his feet to his neck. He turned towards the front of the ship and raised his hands. A bright solid beam shot out and lit the entire deck, and filled it with the gold light. Dot watched in shook as the web shields flew off, leaving the Mare in the middle of the Web with no protection, but instead of suffering a horrible deletion, they sailed unscathed closer to the tear. Still firing the energy with one hand, the guardian raised his other hand and aimed directly for the tear, forming it into a portal with a single burst.
Through the metallic sphere, Mainframe was visible, but everyone on board was too surprised to cheer, or make any noise. They sailed through, barely making a riple in the smooth surfure of the portal. Bob, still concentrating, thought with relief, "If I never see the Web again, I'll be happy."

They emerged from the Web, sliding to a stop a short way from shore over the energy sea. The sky in the small system was a bright blue. To Bob, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Then he stopped himself. Well, almost. He glanced sideways at Dot, who was looking with Mouse over the railing at her home. He walked over to join them.
Mouse seeing her friend come up behind them, stated," I owe ya one, Sugah." Thinking of what Mouse had risked to come into the Web to get him, he simply answered, "No, now we're even." She grinned, and walked away to find the surfer.
Dot smiled gratefully, and looked at his new armour. "Thanks." she said, not knowing what else to say. Bob said nothing but reached down to hold her hand, then turned back to looking at his home.
Dot smiled inwardly and focused back on Mainframe. She scanned for the Principal Office. Her smiled quickly faded. Funny. she thought, why are the shields up? Megabyte and Hex are in the fi... Looking closer, she was hit with a startling realization. The fire wall is down!
"Cursors." she said quietly, not even noticing she had said it. Bob turned to her, slightly confused. "What?" Dot shook her head and faced Bob. "The fire wall - it's gone! Megabyte must have escaped!" Bob's eyes widen as it sunk in.
It was true. When the two sprites looked closely, they could see viral ABCs patroling the streets of the system. This is bad, very bad. Bob thought unhappily.

***

NOTE FROM AUTHOR- I didn't really like the way the last part of chapter eleven and chapter twelve turned out, in fact I hated them so much that I erased them. Sorry 'bout that, but the last part was going nowhere. Here's my second attempt.

"Can they get us?" asked AndrAIa. The crew was gathered at the front of the ship, and were discussing how to get to the P.O without being seen by the virals.
Bob shook his head. "No, right now we're too far away for them to locate us, and unless they are actually looking right at us, they won't see the ship." Ray wasn't convinced. "What if they scan the system?" Before Bob could answer, Mouse took over. "Then they would find us."
"What do we do now?" Matrix inquired. Dot who had been standing quietly in the corner until now, spoke up. "Right now, nothing. The ship is barely online. If we try anything, they could easily take us. We have to finished repairs before we try to get to the P.O." Mr. Christopher began typing on his organizer. "That would mean we won't be fully online for another 22.5 nanos, if all goes according to plan." They didn't have any other choice; they would have to finish fixing the Mare. Mouse and AndrAIa went off with some pirates to fix the power problem, while Matrix began to do the physical work, clearing off the debris that had fallen onto the deck during the power surges. Ray, Dot and Bob joined Capacitor in his room trying to think of a plan for getting through the viral defences without being located.
"What about talking to Phong, and maybe getting him to give us a little help?" The captain suggested while pacing around the small cabin. Bob, who was sitting in a chair, anxiously ran his hand through his hair. "I already thought of that, but with the shields up, we can't contact him." Dot thought for a momment. They had been there for a nano, and had only come up with a few ideas, most of which would have got them caught, some way or another.
"I know it's not a good idea, but we could send a small group of sprites to hack through, then they could take a message to Phong." Ray frowned. "It's the best idea yet. Besides, we don't have that much to work with." They decided that Mouse would go, to hack through the shields, Dot because it was her plan, and because she was the command.com, and Martix and two pirates, for protection. Bob began to say something about Dot going, but he quickly shut up when she glared at him. The captain and Ray left the room to notify the rest of the crew.
"Dot, what if something happens?" Bob started. Dot crossed her arms. "Then it happens. You can't come. Stay here and help AndrAIa. If we lose everyone then Mainframe will de destroyed. At least this way if either of us gets deleted, the other can still help save the system." Bob tried to think of a reason, but Dot was right. "Alright." He agreed, though not happily. Then they left the room to find out how the repairs were going.

Nanos later, damages were still being fixed. Dot sat on the floor with AndrAIa and Mouse fixing the power. They had got it online for a short time, but then it burnt out again.
Dot yawned, and looked up at the sky. The stars shone overhead, just like before, when she had left. It had seemed like hours ago, but it had all happened recently. She then turned her attention back to her work. It was boring and tedious, and she soon felt herself drifting off. She didn't even noticed when Frisket came up right beside her. "Aahhh!" she yelped as the large dog licked the side of her face. She turned to see AndrAIa and Mouse laughing at her, and a huge, wet dog nose right in front of her.
"FRISKET! You startled me!" She was glad he had done it though, because she would have fallen asleep. When AndrAIa managed to stop laughing for a moment, she said to her friend, "We're almost finished, go to bed." Dot would have argued, but she knew the game sprite was right. She pulled herself to her feet. Dot was so tired, she didn't even remember getting to her room, or crawling into bed, but soon she was in a deep sleep.

***

Bob helped the surfer and Matrix finish replacing the badly burned sails, and then went back to his room. He tried to get some sleep, but his mind was racing. Several times he changed positions to try and get more comfortable, but nothing seemed to work. A while later Ray came in. He plopped himself on his bunk and was asleep in a matter on minutes. "Lucky search engine." Bob muttered.
The night passed slowly, and Bob was still wide-awake. Finally he gave up trying to sleep and sat up, leaning against the wall. Leaning down to the table below, he picked up the small vid window that showed the ship's repairs, and began to immerse himself in it. At that moment, he heard a strange noise, but thinking it was only Ray turning over, he passed it off and went back to reading the ship's repair graphs.
The noise came again, this time louder, and from the hall, not their room like he had originally thought. It sounded like people taking, and trying (not very successfully) to be quiet. "Shut up," a voice hissed "Or I'll tell Lord Megabyte you're a traitor."
Bob was instantly alert. Virals? They're raiding the ship! He slid off the top bunk and quietly hit the floor. He had to warn everyone, or they could all be in danger. "Ray!" He whispered, waking up the surfer. Ray rolled over and blinked. "What's goin-" he was cut off by Bob, who pointed at the door. Tracer stopped and listened. He heard voices. "Alright, you all heard Megabyte. When you find a sprite, take it prisinor. If it resists, delete it. You troops take that hall, and you take that one."
Pushing his covers to the side, Ray got to his feet beside Bob. "What can we do?" He asked. Bob went to the door and opened it a crack. In the dim light, he could see many binome shapes marching around the corner. Then there was an eerie silence. If they stayed in the room, they would be caught. They had no choice; they had to leave to find the others. Bob slipped out the door with the surfer close behind.

Chapter Twelve

Dot awoke suddenly to find a hand covering her mouth. A voice in the dark whispered, "Don't make any loud noise, or we'll be deleted." The voice belonged to Mouse. Slowly Mouse removed her hand. Dot looked around the room. Nothing was out of the ordinary, so why was Mouse acting like this?
"What's going on?" Dot said quietly. Mouse reached down to get her kitanna and crept quietly towards the door. Dot stood up, wanting to know what was happening. Mouse waved her hand, telling her to stay where she was, and flattened herself against the wall beside the door. The door opened from the other side, and three small figures entered. The door closed again, the small amount of light leaving with it. Dot held her breath and moved between the bunk and the wall.
One of the binome figures advanced to the side of the bottom bed, while the others stood guard at the door. In one quick movement, he fired a small energy blaster in the place where Dot had just recently been. It must have had a silencer, because it made almost no sound. Dot peered across the black room, looking for Mouse, but she could see nothing.
"What the...It looks like someone was here, but left." He told his fellow virals. They joined him beside the bed, and began to check them. "If they left, maybe they knew we were comming. Maybe they are still in her-" He was cut off by Mouse, who had two on the floor unconscious before the third knew what was happening. She grabbed the binome roughly with one hand and slammed him against the wall. "Talk, viral dirt, or ah cut you in little pieces." The binome kicked with his little feet, but he was too high above the ground for it to do any good. He looked for any means of escape, but seeing no openings, he looked directly at Mouse and hissed, "I'd rather be deleted then betray Lord Megabyte." Dot raised an eyebrow, amused. "That can be arranged." she commented, completely uncaring for the welfare of the binome who had just tried to delete her.
The binome turned to the sound of her voice. He had only been aware of one sprite in the room. For a moment, he was intimidated, but quickly got his courage back. "I'll never talk, rebel scum!" he spat. Mouse shook her head. "Fine by us." She then proceeded to bring the handle of her kitana down hard on his head. He instanly went limp. "Mouse, you didn't delete him? I'm surprised." Dot said smiling. Mouse shrugged. "Must be gettin' soft." Mouse then locked all of the virals in a stasis field from her ring. While she was doing that, Dot bent down and picked up one of the weapons that had been dropped. It was a viral blaster, much more powerful then her gun, and it appeared to have a silencer on it. Dot exchanged it with her gun and stood up. "We have to get to the others before the virals do." She told Mouse. Mouse inspected the blade of her favourite weapon and nodded. "You're in charge."
Opening the door enough for her to get her small body through, Dot went into the corridor. She kept her gun in front for protection. Mouse joined her outside the door. Dot glanced around nervously to each side. "We should go find Bob and Capacitor." "Good idea." Mouse said. Dot then headed towards Bob and Ray's room with Mouse protecting her back.
She could feel her heart pounding in her chest. It made her nervous to know that at that very moment, virals were sneaking around in the dark, trying to delete them. How can Mouse like this kind of thing? She wondered. Abruptly the peaceful silence was shattered when they were spotted from behind.
"Get those sprites!" someone shouted. Mouse stood ready to take on the virals, but Dot saw that there were way too many. Grabbing her friend's arm, she pulled her down the hall as shots ripped past them. One flew centimetres away from Dot's ear. She and Mouse dove around the corner just in time.
They could feel the footsteps through the floor. "Come on!" Mouse cried. Scrambling to their feet, they raced down the hall. When they came to a fork, they took the left, hoping to split their attackers up. By now, everyone should be awake Dot thought.
Not paying attention to where she was going, she turned a corner sharply and hit something with full force. She gave a small cry, thinking she had run into more virals. Dot fell hard on top of it, but found it wasn't a viral at all. She blinked, and looked at the sprite who had cushioned her fall. Bob was lying sprawled out on the floor. Matrix, AndrAIa and the surfer were standing behind him. Bob rubbed his head and grinned.
"Matrix's sure like to flatten people." Dot could feel herself blushing, and quickly got off, but not before giving him a suggestive smile.
Mouse, who had been looking around the corner, called out a warning, but it was too late. The delay had cost them their head start, and they were now surrounded by angry viral binomes. One stepped forward, and grinned sadistically. He was a large binome, much bigger than the rest, and apparently, he was in charge.
"This is going to be fun." He said raising his gun, and pointing it directly at Bob. Before anyone could stop him, he pulled the trigger.

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