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Megabyte watched in rage as the two sprites vanished from sight, his chance of finally getting rid of them was gone. He stalked back down the hall, trying not to limp on his wounded leg. When he got back to his chair, he sat down slowly. The energy blast that had hit his leg burned a large sore in his metallic skin. Still bent on revenge, he opened a vid window and contacted the binome commander. The commander gave him a quick salut. "I want everything I own in the sky. Delete any rebels you see, destroy everything standing, and take out the Principal Office shields." Megabyte ordered. The binome looked confused for a moment, but, deciding not to disobey orders, he nodded, and the window closed. If I can't get rid of them, I'll destroy their precious system. If they want a war, they'll get one.

***

Hex floated through the air, and landed gracefully. She had her happy mask on, but it quickly changed into one of annoyance when she saw Dot standing behind Bob. "What are you doing here? I only wanted him." she hissed, but answered her own question. "Oh, you must have been close to the Guardian when I transported him. No matter." She flicked her wrist towards Dot, and a stasis coil instantly appeared at Dot's feet and snaked its way around her body. It pulled tight, causing Dot to lose her balance and fall over. Bob caught her just before she hit the floor. He set her down and looked at Hex. "Let us go, we need to stop Megabyte." She ignored him and flew over to her chair. Folding in her cape like a bug does with its wings, she sat down and crossed her legs. "I'm so happy you're back, now we can have some fun!" she said clapping her hands. Bob swallowed nervously, he knew she had a warped sense of humour.
"But first, you must be thirsty. Tea?" A platter with tea and bicuits formed, and she offered him one. "No thanks. Hex, we have to get out of here." The tray disappeared, and she put a mask with a frown on. "You won't be going anywhere, Guardian." Bob felt some invisible force knock him off his feet, and was surprised when he landed in a chair instead of on the floor. He attempted to pull himself up, but found he couldn't move. He expected to be totally immobile, but he found he could talk. "HEX! THIS ISN'T FUNNY!" He was frustrated with the virus. She was wasting their time, and they desperately needed it. She began to laugh hysterically. "Let him go!" Dot cried, struggling in her stasis field on the floor.

Hex glared at her. "Quiet!" Dot wisely decided to obey. "That's better." the viral woman said, satisfied. She then turned her attention back to Bob, and got out of her chair. She floated slowly over to him, scrutinizing his different appearance. Bob felt very uncomfortable, and eyed her suspiciously. " I like the hair, it's interesting."
She was now right in front of him. "If I let release you, will you promise not to try and escape? I lose more men that way." Dot snorted in amusement. "Wonder why." Hex whirled around in anger. "I told you before!" Dot suddenly found that she couldn't move her mouth.

In an instant she had her attention back on Bob, acting like the inncident had never happened. "Do you promise?" Bob hesitated. The option of escaping was tempting, but he decided against it, he could never leave Dot. "I won't try to escape." She put on a happy mask and waved her hand in his direction. The invisible restraints disappeared. He had to think of some way to distract her, of get her to let them go. Looking at her face, he found the answer. "Hex, what's the matter with your mask?" She backed away, trying to hide the fact that her mask was cracked. "Nothing." That's it! Bob thought, realizing that he had found her weak spot. He stepped closer, knowing that if this was going to work, he needed to be a point blank range. He stood right in front of her and raised his hand. He needed to be closer, so he pulled her towards him.
Dot watched, and even though she knew it was basic, felt jealous.
Bob concentrated, and sent an energy pulse right in her face where the crack was. It was blinding, and Dot turned her head away, her eyes burning. Bob could hear Hexidecimal screaming in protest, and felt her trying to get away. Bob refused to let her, and concentrated harder. All of sudden, Bob felt something different, and he stopped, the energy fading away. Hex was covering her face, shaking slightly. Bob stepped back, wondering if he had hurt her.

She lowered her hands, revealing not her normal mask, but a face. She blinked a few time, unused to the movement. "I feel so different. So complete." She hesitated, not knowing what to say." Thank you, Guardian." she whispered. There was a strange silence, Bob not knowing what she would do now. He finally decided to speak up. "Hex, could we, uh-" Bob was cut off. "Of course." She absentmindedly waved her hand, and Bob found himsef in Lost Angles, just outside her layer. When he glanced around he noticed Dot sitting on the ground. She looked at her hand, the fact occuring to her that she could move now. Bob walked over and helped her up.
"What just happened?" Dot asked, unsure. Bob was about to explain when he remembered about the Principal Office. Checking Glitch he saw that the keytool was 97% charged. Repairing Hex's face had taken very little power. " Dot, I can get us to the P.O, but I need your organizer." he explained. Dot pulled it off her hip and handed it to him. While he connected the two, she watched out for any danger. "Finished." Bob stated, and pressed enter. Dot watched as the power bar on the organizer shrunk, and Glitch's rose. When Glitch was at 100% it beeped. Bob disconnected them and handed hers back. While she was reattaching it, he opened a small portal that led back to the P.O.

Bob motioned at it. "You first." Dot gave him a sideways glance, wondering what would happen if it was unstable. She built up her confidence and jumped. Bob jumped soon after, hoping he didn't land on her.

Chapter Sixteen

Matrix watched the circular map of Mainframe. Where is she? He ran his hand through his hair nervously. Dot and Bob had been missing for quite a while now, and there was still no sign of them. He wasn't worried about Bob; the guardian could take care of himself. He had proven that in the Web. Not that Dot couldn't, but he still was worried.
Suddenly a bright light appeared close to the ceiling, and a portal formed. Matrix stepped back in alarm, and instinctively reached for Gun. He didnít need it.

Dot fell from the portal and landed face down in the center of the map. She moaned in pain, and struggled to her knees . "DOT!" Matrix cried, not caring where she had been, just happy she was back. He ran to the edge of the map and swung his sister up into a huge hug. A moment later, Bob fell out the same portal and landed where Dot had just been. He pushed himself up and saw his friends standing in awe at his sudden apperance. Dot! Bob thought, panacking for a millisecond. He sighed when he saw her hugging her brother. He got off his hands and knees and slid off the table. He saw one face in the crowd he recognized very well. "Phong!" he called happily. Phong turned at the sound of his voice, and looked directly at Bob. "Welcome back my son!" Bob bent down and hugged the old sprite happily. He had been like a father to him, and Bob was overjoyed to see him. The celebration was short lived. They were all almost knocked off their feet when the viral attack unexpectedly began. Mouse rushed to a vid window and enlarged it. Outside the Principal Office, they could see scores of ABCs lined up, weapons bristling and about to attack. There was silence in the room, until Matrix broke it with an awed "No shit." Warnings suddenly went off everywhere. The virals had fired everything they had at the P.O.
"Grab onto something!" Phong shouted above the alarms. The missles hit with an amazing impact, instantly taking out the already weak shields. Dot grabbed the nearest thing, which happened to be Matrix. Luckily, he was holding on to a railing, so they managed to stay on their feet.
When the shaking finally stopped, Dot let go and ran up the stairs to the main controls. The statistics were bad. The shields were almost offline, the weapons were almost all depleated, and they were surrounded. We don't have a chance.
"How are we, Dot?" Bob questioned, already knowing it was bad. Dot closed her eyes, and swallowed. She was on the verge of telling them the news when something on the controls caught her attention. The security light was flashing. Her jaw dropped in amazment, unable to believe what was happening. "They're inside!"

Her friends looked at her, not wanting to believe it. Dot instantly fell back into her old position of Command.com, and began giving orders. "Phong, can you get more power to the sheilds?"He nodded slowly, unsure of himself, and wheeled to the nearest consol. Dot sent several binomes to man the guns and try to eliminate some of the tanks. That might raise their chances a little. Dot converted the power to the security, which meant that no more virals could break in, but the ones inside were trapped with them. Mouse grabbed her kittana from her boot and said to Matrix, "Let's go kick their asciis." Matrix grinned and began to run up the stairs.

Dot watched longingly as they left the room. That's the bad part of leading a system. Complete control, but I'm not allowed to do anything interesting She sighed and finished typing some commands. Bob came up behind her.
"Aren't you going to go help them?" Dot asked Bob curiously. "No, they can handle it. Besides, I'd rather stay here." he said, coming closer to hug her from behind. Suddenly more alarms went off. Bob sighed and backed off. He went to the panel next to Phong and unhappily began searching for the problem. Dot watched him go, then grudgingly went back to work.

***

Mouse stood in a side hallway with her back pressed against the wall; Matrix was in the opposite hall doing the same thing. Once in a while he would lean to the edge of the wall and let some shots fly at the attackers. They were held up a ways down the hall, trying to get passed Mouse and Matrix.who were preventing them from getting to the operations room. The two sprites were fighting as best as they could, but they were dangerously outnumbered, and for every viral they deleted, three more took its place. Mouse stepped back, knowing they were in trouble. "Uh, Matrix Sugah? We're in trouble." He didn't look at her, continuing to fire. "I know." They rushed closer, aware they were winning. Matrix watched helplessly as they came dangerously close. Just when Matrix was considering running, a bright beam of light shot down the hall and hit the large group of binomes, deleting every one of them. Matrix and Mouse looked in surprise at each other. "Did you do that?" Mouse said in astonishment. Matrix looked at his gun. "I don't think so." Mouse scratched her head in confusion. "I did." said a voice behind her. When she turned around she found the Surfer standing on his board. "Why are you here, and how did you get in?" Matrix asked, frowning. Mouse caught a sarcastic tone in his voice. Why doesn't he like Ray? She wondered. Mouse had noticed Matrix was very hostile towards the surfer ever since she met him.

Ray shrugged it off and said calmly, " I used a stable tear to get in. I'm here because AndrAIa had everything covered, besides, you sure looked like you could use my help." Matrix scowled at him, and started to walk back to the opps room. Mouse followed more slowly, the surfer flying beside her. "Thanks for the help, honey."
"Anytime" he said happily. Mouse winked at him, and went after Matrix.

***

Dot relaxed a bit when she saw Mouse and Matrix. "We managed to get rid of the virals." Matrix announced to the group. "That's great, but we are still way out numbered. We have to get out there and destroy some of those virals before they get through again." Dot frowned, trying to think of a plan. If they didn't do it soon, they would almost surely be doomed. It suddenly came to her.

"Bob!" she cried joyfully. He looked up at her from his consol. " I need your help." she grabbed a blaster from the wall and flew up the stairs. Bob stood at the bottom of the stairs. "Dot?" he asked, wondering what she was doing. She skidded to a stop near the door and grinned. "Coming?" He broke out in a big smile and raced up the stairs after her.
When they were gone, Phong shook his head, smiling. "Kids."

Dot sped down the hall, with Bob behind her. He finally caught up to her. "Where are we going?" he said, his metallic hair streaming behind him. "You'll see." Dot said simply.

Dot raced around a corner and made her way easily through the maze of the P.O. hallways. Bob did his best to keep up, but he couldn't remember the inside as well as Dot did.

Dot stopped in front of a large metal door off the main hall, and waited for Bob to catch up. He slowed to a halt beside her. "What now?" She smiled mischievously and entered. Bob hesitated, then followed her, still not sure what she was up to. He looked around the dark, seemingly empty room. Dot was sitting on a large, white metal object. Bob crossed his arms over his chest. "What's your plan."
"Lights!" Dot commanded, and the huge room lit up. In the center of the room was the robot that had been used to contain Nullzila. It hadn't been dismantled after the fight, so it was still assembled. Bob stared at it, not speaking. He looked back at Dot, only now realizing her plan. The object she was sitting on was its foot. "I get to drive." he said, grinning.

Chapter Seventeen

AndrAIa watched, concerned, as most of the ABCs surrounded the Principal Office. The remaining tanks were spread out around the rest of Mainframe, destroying everything that stood. AndrAIa gripped her trident tightly, wanting to stop the virals from destroying her love's home. "AndrAIa?"

She whirled around at her name, ready to attack. Capacitor stepped back, raising his hands in mock defence. "Woah lass. I'm not a viral." She relaxed. "Sorry. Force of habit." He nodded, understanding what it had to be like living in games. The pirate continued talking. "We're ready. Not that I like the idea of leaving this fine ship behind." He ran his hand over the railing fondly. "She's served me well, but I suppose this is for the best." AndrAIa put her hand on his shoulder compassionately. "Bring it on." she whispered, unsheathing her trident.

***

Dot slid into one of the seats beside Bob. "So do you remember how to use this thing?" Bob nodded and took the controls. He grinned, recalling the day the robot had last been used. "Hey, you looked pretty cute in your lady bug get up." Dot glared at him, remembering how ugly it had been. "Just drive."
Bob coughed, stifling a good-natured laugh, and pressed the ignition button.

***

Mouse watched the ABCs destroying the small system and grew less and less hopeful that they would come out of this situation in one piece, if any at all. The system was being torn apart outside, and all they could do was watch. The shields were now at a dangerously low level, and at any moment they might give out.
"Whatever you're doing Dot, do it now, before it's too late." Mouse balled her hands into fists nervously, and she could feel herself beginning to sweat. The anticipation in the room was like a thick fog; it engulfed everyone and lowered their spirits. Even the surfer looked concerned.

One of the binomes suddenly shouted out in glee, startling the hacker out of her daydream. On the vid window, she could see the tanks breaking formation and flying in differnt directions. What in the...

Mouse shook her head in disbelief when she saw what was frightening off her viral friends. She looked around, thinking she might be delusional. A large white robot was stomping across the ground, chasing the tanks and destroying them while they fled. "PHONG! What is going on here!?" Mouse cried. He rolled over smiling broadly, saying simply, "Dot's plan."

***

"I can't believe this is working!" Dot shouted, amazed. "It's such a stupid plan!" Bob grinned and continued firing at the tanks. They scattered and tried desperately to escape, but Bob was too fast, and several exploded in flames, crashing to the ground. Dot watched them fall, some landing on buildings. She hated to see her system being ruined, but, she thought bitterly, it already was practically demolished. She laughed ironicaly. The system was in ruins already, what did it matter that they knocked over a few buildings?

Bob watched as the remaining tanks reformed, and turned around to attack the robot together. "Um, Dot?" he said, trying to get her attention. She was busy looking at the ruins on the ground. She glanced up casually, then did a double take. There was no time to escape. The virals came within firing range and began blasting the exterior of the machine. While the robot was well protected, it wasn't indestructible, and with the large numbers of ABCs, they were doing a lot of damaged.

***

Megabyte watch from the top of Silicon Tor while his forces were being crushed. He couldn't believe it, he thought that his large army was invincible, but he had been all too wrong. He slammed his fist on the railing. He was desperate now. If these tanks were destroyed, that would be the last of his once immense following. For once, I will not leave it to someone else. I have to take this into my own hands, even if it means my own destruction. Megabyte left the railing, preparing to leave his Tor forever. He would either be deleted, or reach the Supercomputer and have his revenge.

He went down the stairs and down the main hall to his main entrance. Megabyte stepped out the door and into the ruins of Mainframe.

***

After a long battle with the ABCs Bob and Dot finally managed to destroy the last of the tanks. At first, they weren't sure if they would win or not, but eventually, they shot down every last one.

Dot breathed out, relieved it was over. She slumped down in her chair, metally exhausted, but happy. Bob wasn't quite as happy. A lot of innocent binomes had been deleted.

He took the robot back to the docking bay of the Principal Office. When they got back, the two sprites went down the elevator to the main floor. Stepping onto the floor, Bob streched. Sitting in the same position had made him sore, not to mention he still hurt from the fall. He saw something race by the doorway. Glitch beeped a warning. "There's a primary viral presence in the vicinity." the keytool communicated mentally. Bob stared at his keytool, then looked at the door where he had seen the movement. "Megabyte." he said in disbelief.

Dot looked at him strangely. "What?" Not even bothering to respond, he ran out of the room at a sprint. Dot knew something was up, so she raced after him.
Bob ran in the direction of the viral signal that Glitch sent to him. Megabyte was fast, but he didn't know his way around the P.O, and when Bob ran around the next corner, he saw the virus making a dash for the entrance to the core. "MEGABYTE!" Bob yelled angrily, balling his hands into fists. Megabyte turned to see Bob sprinting towards him, infuriated. That damn sprite! Why can't he stay dead! Megabyte slid to a stop at the armoured doorway to the Mainframe core. He unsheathed his claws and dug them into the door. He pulled as hard as he could, ripping the door open. Without looking back, he ran inside.

Dot ran as fast as she could after Bob, but she wasn't as fast as him. His time in the Web had made him able to run faster and farther, with much more endurance. Why didn't I pick some shoes that were easy to run in? she thought, cursing her heels. She slowed down and bent over to catch her breath, thinking she had lost him. She hadn't even goten it back when she heard Bob's outraged voice crying out the name of her worst enemy. Megabyte?! She broke into a run again, almost spinning out as she went sharply around a corner. She righted herself and ran into the hallway. She watched in shock as Megabyte entered the Core. She looked over as Bob cried out, and saw him making a break for the Core after Megabyte. "No Bob! You'll be deleted!" Dot screamed starting to run after him. If he went in, the radiation would delete him in a matter of milliseconds. It was too late, and Bob slid through the door, as it slammed shut with a defening bang, leaving Dot locked out. Bob and Megabyte were trapped in the Core together.

Dot stopped in front of the door, crying out in frustraton. "Bob, you basic sprite!" she sobbed. Sinking to her knees, she put her head against the metal door and began to cry. If the radiation didn't delete him, Megabyte would. Both were excruciating deletions.

Chapter Eighteen

Bob looked around, his eyes getting used to the bright light. When they did adjust, he saw Megabyte using the elevator, ascending to the manual controls above. Bob gritted his teeth. You're not going to destroy Mainframe! He jumped off the ground, but his feet never came down. Using his new powers, he flew up to get to the top before Megabyte did.

When Megabyte reached the top, he saw the blue sprite standing defensively, waiting for him. Megabyte was aware that his metal skin could protect him from the radiation longer than the sprite's fragile skin, and he knew that he could easily win. Bob raised his hands and tried to fire an energy blast at the virus. Nothing happened. Megabyte snarled, "Your powers won't work in this radiation." Bob realized it was true, and stepped back, still glaring at Megabyte. His archenemy crouched down, ready to pounce at him. Bob stood still, waiting for him. The Web Riders had taught him that it was better to defend than to attack.
Growling in anger, Megabyte launched himself at Bob, preparing to rip him to pieces. Bob, being more manuverable, dove out of the way. Megabyte landed hard on his stomach. While Bob had the opportunity, he darted across the platform and aimed a hard kick at Megabyte's head. Megabyte saw it comming, and swiped out sideways with a claw. It dug into Bob's leg, causing him to cry out and fall backwards. Bob lay on the ground, trying uselessly to stop the blood flow with his hands. Megabyte, seeing his chance, got to his knees and stabbed his claws down at Bob's head. Bob rolled out of the way, stopping right before he rolled off the platform to the ground far below. He was in a lot of pain, but all he was interested in now was revenge. Driving his fist upwards, Bob slammed it into Megabyte's jaw, giving him a vicious uppercut. Megabyte backed off, tasting energy in his mouth. Putting his hand to his face, he pulled it away and saw the viral energy drip off his hand.

Bob groaned and dragged himself to his feet. They stared each other in hatred. Sorry Dot. He thought, painfully aware he was going to be deleted. Before either of them could attack again, the whole room shook, knocking Bob backwards to the ground again.
Megabyte kept his balance, and when the shaking stopped, he began walking towards him. Bob closed his eyes slowly, knowing he was doomed. The ground shook violently again, this time Megabyte lost his balance and fell forward.
There was a long silence. When Bob opened his eyes he saw Megabyte lying face down, squirming in pain. Bob crawled to his knees, and peered at Megabyte in shock. THe virus had fallen directly on his claws, impaling himself through the stomach. He raised his head to look at the Guardian. Bob watched as he tried to move his lips, but no sound came out. His head fell back to the ground, and the once powerful virus shimmered into non-existence.

***

After what seemed like eternity, Dot slowly got to her feet, and ran her hand along the door's cold surface. She swallowed painfully and turned around. Digging her nails into her palms, she began to walk away. It was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do.
When she reached the door to the opperations room, she choked back some tears and went in. The noise subsided into silence as her friends noticed she was back. Phong stepped forward, aware something was terribly wrong.
"What happened." he asked quietly. Dot coughed, trying not to cry. "Um, we got back and..." she faultered, knowing if she continued, she would start crying. Mouse stepped up to her friend and put her hand on her shoulder. "Dot, don't do this to yourself, Sugah." Dot bit her lip, glancing quickly at her friend before she couldn't stand it anymore and her eyes fell to the floor. She opened her mouth to speak again, but she lost her composure, and started crying. Mouse hugged her friend, figuring out the reason Bob wasn't with her. Mouse took her friend and looked directly at her. "He's gone?" she asked Dot, whispering. The smaller woman closed her eyes and nodded.

Mouse turned to the rest of the room, knowing they would want to know what happened. "Bob's gone." the hacker stated quietly. There were several gasps from the binomes, and Phong lowered his head in respect. AndrAIa saw a look on Matrix she had never seen before. "I'm sorry Enzo." she said, not knowing how Bob's death might affect him. The renegade walked over to his sister, and Mouse moved so he could hug his family member. Anyone who hadn't been crying before now burst into tears when they saw the two siblings hug each other, even Mouse had tears running down her face.

AndrAIa stood in the corner, feeling slightly left out. Hearing a rattleing noise, she looked up in time to see Phong's mug clattering across the consol and shatter on the floor. The vid window showed the worst possible situation: Mainframe was crashing. AndrAIa rushed to the workstation to read the stats. As the results scrolled down, she saw the terrible news. They were all doomed. It looked like there was nothing that could be done to save the small system. Phong rolled up beside her, and AndrAIa reluctantly pointed out the results. Phong stared at them for a moment, then looked at one of the vid windows. The entire system is doomed.

***

Bob stared at the spot where Megabyte's body had been. Breathing hard and sweating from the pain, he pulled himself to a standing position. He suddenly felt very tired. The radiation. He thought, dreading the effects of it. As he moved to leave, he saw the lights on the system controls change colour from green to red. Mainframe! It's crashing!
Bob limped to the nearest system panel, which happened to be Beverly Hills, and began resetting the individual controls. After he had finished with the first sector, he moved to Baudway's, working as fast as he could.
He had almost finished, and was on Kit's sector when one of the controls burst out in sparks. He pulled his hand back, not wanting to get burned. Come on Bob! They need you! Setting his jaw in determination, he grabbed the burning handle, and turned it. If he hadn't been biting down, he would have screamed in pain. The control light beeped, and turned green. Bob grabbed his wrist, staring mournfully at his chared hand. Using the last of his energy, he dragged himself to the elevator and slammed his unhurt hand against the down button. Let's get out of here. He thought to Glitch as he descended.

Chapter Nineteen

In the operations room, the shaking abruptly stopped. Ray looked around the room for answers. "What happened?" Mouse went to check it out. "I can't believe it! The system, it's stopped crashing!"
Phong looked at her. "What?"
"We're safe!" she shouted happily. Dot wiped under her eyes."But- that would mean that someone..." Before anyone could say anything, she was out the door and running as fast as she could back to the Core.

Please User, please! Dot prayed as she ran through the labyrinth of white halls. Sliding around the last corner she skidded to a stop. A mangled Bob was standing outside the door, holding his hand and breathing hard. Dot rushed up to him, speechless. He looked at her, seeing she had been crying. "I'm sorry Dot,Ē he said apologetically, right before his legs gave out and he collapsed on the floor.

Dot cried out and tried to catch him. Half catching him, Dot set him carefully on the ground. His leg had a deep gash in it, and it was bleeding heavily. Dot knew the artery had been pierced, and reacted by trying to find something to tie the wound with. If she didn't apply pressure, he would bleed to deletion. It was impossible to rip off any fabic from her clothes because she was wearing her black metal armour. With shaking hands, Dot detached the loose belt from her hips and wrapped it around Bob's leg. Gripping his leg firmly, she looked into Bob's eyes. "This will hurt." she said, not knowing if he could hear her. She took a deep breath a pulled.

Bob made no reaction. Unconscious. Dot thought, knoting the belt to keep the pressure on. She then opened a vid window to the med room. A male binome in a white scrub covered with blood answered it. "I need someone down here right now!" she ordered, trying to sound authoritive. The binome shook his head in regret. "Sorry sir, but we're swamped right now. I have sprites and binomes with life threatening injuries everywhere, and there aren't enough doctors to take care of all of them. " Dot swore under her breath, but nodded, knowing she couldn't put Bob's life over the rest of them, no matter how much she wanted to.

As soon as she closed the vid window, AndrAIa and Matrix entered from behind her. "AndrAIa, I need your help!" The game sprite looked at the injured body of the Guardian. She nodded. Living in the games she had learned quite a lot about injuries, having to treat hers and Matrix's all the time. Once she had even had to stich up her own leg with no antiseptic.
She knelt down and looked at the wound. It was very deep, and would test all her medical knowlege. "We need to get him some place else. There might be radiation coming from the Core here. I also need to get supplies."
"What about my office? I have a full med kit in there." AndrAIa nodded. "Alright, Matrix, can you carry him?" "Yes." He said gravely. He bent down and picked Bob up carefully, making sure not to disturb any wounds.

Dot reached office first, rushing in through the opperations room. Phong tried to say something to her, but she was to preoccupied to listen. "Dot my child, what's going on?' Dot ran straight for her room, going so fast that the doors almost didn't open in time. Going to her desk and opening the bottom drawer, she found what she was looking for. The med kit held basic things like bandages and antiseptic, but it also contained sutures for stiching up wounds.

AndrAIa entered with Matrix right behind. Matrix placed Bob on her desk and stepped back, not wanting to get in the way. Phong and Mouse sped in a moment later. "Bob's alive?" Mouse questioned, looking at her friend. AndrAIa noticed how cramped the room was getting. "Yes Mouse, but if some of you guys don't get out and leave me some room to work, he won't be for long!" Phong backed off, saying, "I'll leave, Mouse and Matrix, I need some help outside. The rest of Mainframe is still in grave danger."

They left the small office, leaving the three sprites alone."Okay." AndrAIa sighed. "Let's get started.

***

Bob began to wake up, though AndrAIa wasn't entirely finished stiching his leg. He felt a sharp pain and opened his eyes gradually. Dot, who was busy fastening the bandages to his burned hand, noticed first. "AndrAIa, how much longer?" AndrAIa wiped her forehead with her arm, accidentally getting some blood on herself. "Not much longer." She bent down and concentrated even harder.

Dot put down his hand carefully and moved down to talk to him. She brushd some of his hair out of his face, noticing his skin was very cold. "Bob, how are you feeling?" He tried to move into a more comfortable postion, but Dot pinned him down, saying, "AndrAIa's still working on you. Stay still." He smiled weakly up at her. "Yes sir." As AndrAIa pulled the last stitch, he winced in pain. "There. Now stay off this leg until I tell you otherwise."

She wiped her hands on a cloth and walked towards the door, knowing Dot might want to yell at Bob. She grinned, knowing that's what she would do it Matrix ever pulled anything that dangerous.

As soon as she was gone, Dot sat beside Bob on the desk, putting her hand on his chest. He struggled to sit up, but Dot shoved him back down. "Didn't you hear her, don't move!" He grinned, letting his head fall back to the desk. She ran her hand along his face. "For once, just let someone else be the hero." He looked at her and seeing she was about to cry, and felt extremely guilty. Bob put his arms around her waist and pulled her down to hug her. She buried her face in his neck, trying for the second time not to cry. When she moved to pull away, she changed her mind and bent down to kiss him. She didn't get the chance before the door slid open and the surfer walked in. Dot sat up quickly, embarrassed.

"Um, sorry Mate." Tracer said, looking at Bob and scratching the back of his head. "Dot, er Commander, Matrix...? he stuttered. Dot sighed. "What Ray?" He pointed to one of the vid windows outside the office. It showed a luminescent purple game cube descending on the ruins of Mainframe. She jumped to her feet, surprised. She raced passed Ray and to the railing in the opps room. Matrix and AndrAIa were getting ready to leave. "Wait! " Came a frantic voice from behind her. She turned to see Bob standing a few feet behind her. "Matrix, don't enter the cube!"
The large Enzo looked at him in pity, thinking he was delirious. "Sorry Bob, we have to or the system will crash." He moved towards the door. Bob raised his hand, stopping them again. "I know Mainframe will crash, that's what I want!" Matrix stared at him in disbelief. "Bob, are you joking?" The Guardian shook his head. "Forget it, I have to go." Matrix said angrily. Again he moved to the door, but Bob had stalled him long enough, and the cube slammed into the ground at that moment. Matrix stared at the screen, then turned with a stunned look at Bob.

Dot took charge. "Forget it, Matrix! Bob, go lie down, this time I mean it! Phong, we have to scan all the active PIDs before the game leaves." She joined Phong at the controls and her and Phong began entering the codes as fast as they could work. Matrix frowned at his sister's words and went up the floating stairs to the hall.

Mouse saw the surfer standing akwardly in the corner and went up to him. "Come on, let's go try and keep the natives calm." She reached out and, grabbing his hand, pulled him towards the door.
Bob watched them leave, then turned back to observing the game through the centre vid window, totally ignoring what Dot had said. This was much more important than whether his leg hurt or not, the whole system's fate depended on the next few minutes. He was not going to be lying down in the other room when the cube left.

For the next little while, everything was quiet, only the sound of Phong and Dot entering the PID codes could be heard. The peacefulness was shattered when a bright light appeared, and Hexidecimal's form shimmered into the room. Bob stepped backwards, Oh no! Not now!

***

Matrix leaned against the wall just outside the door playing with his PID. He clicked it once and watched as the small icon flipped over and changed to game sprite mode. AndrAIa strode over and leaned against the cold surface beside him. Matix didn't like being wrong. "Come on, let's go see if we can help them" AndrAIa said, going through the sliding door. Matrix sighed and followed reluctantly.

It was a very awkward scene in the operations room. Hexadecimal was standing innocently with her hands held in front of her, and Phong was shaking his head negativly. "Please Phong." Bob begged. Phong stared at Bob, and then gave in. "Fine, she may have one, but I can't believe I'm doing this!" He reluctantly reached in his drawer and pulled out a small white disk. The old sprite recorded the code at the nearest workstation, then handed the PID to the virus.

"Sir." said a binome from the other side of the room. "We've picked up several PID signatures outside the P.O. There are still binomes out there!" Dot frowned. She would have to go out and get them, but no one knew when the game would leave. If she was outside when it left, Mainframe would restart. She clenched her fists angrily, but knew it was her job as Command.com to keep her people safe. "Alright, I'm going out to get them. I'll be back as soon as possible." She began climbing the metal stairs, but was interrupted by a limping Bob. "Wait, let me go." Dot looked at him, touched that he wanted to keep her safe, but also knowing it was impossible for him to go. She walked into the hall with Bob right behind her. As soon as the doors slid shut, she faced him. "Sorry Bob, you have to stay here. There's no way I'm letting you go instead of me. You can barely even stand."

He bit his lip and tried again. "Please Dot. I don't want to lose you again." Dot smiled, but continued to be stubborn. "I'll be fine, don't worry." She brushed some hair out of his eyes, and, giving him one last look, went down the hall. Bob watched her walk away. What she doesn't know won't hurt her. He thought, and quietly went after her.

Dot stood just outside the Principal Office and looked at the remainder of her home. The sky was a sickly grey, the buildings in ruins, and there looked to be no signs of life. She breathed deeply, remembering that only a short time ago, life in Mainframe had been perfect. Taking her minimized zipboard off her hip, she threw it down and stepped on.

Dot flew low over the system, surveying the damage. In the rubble, she could see the occasional null squirming away in fright. Other than the sound the nulls made, it was silent. Coming to the place where the Diner had once stood, she saw the D was the only thing left. She smiled slightly, thinking of the days when all she had to worry about was whether she was late for another of her meetings. She stepped off her board, listening to the crunch of the gravel under her weight. Walking to the edge of the ruins, she saw something that caught her attention. Moving a piece of metal with her foot, she gave a small gasp.
Bending down, she picked up the small object. It was a small clay dog. Frisket in fact. Enzo had made it in school right before the web creature had been discovered, and given it to Dot as a present. Now the dog's red and yellow paint was fading, and one of the legs was broken off. Dot wiped her hand along her face. She had tried to forget about her little brother. It had been to hard to think about him, so she had always pushed the feelings deep inside, hoping they wouldn't surface.

Hearing a noise behind her, Dot spun around to see Bob. She quickly put the clay figure behind her back . "Uh, Bob! Why didn't you stay inside?" Dot may have been a great strategist, but she wasn't the best actress, and Bob could see right through her. "Did Enzo make that?" he asked, pointing behind her. Dot took her hands from behind her back revealing the small Frisket. She nodded and looked at the ground. Bob came up in front of her and wrapped his arms around her waist. Dot carefully circled hers around his neck, trying not to cry. Bob felt terrible. Everything she had ever lived for had been destroyed in a short amount of time. He looked at the remains of the diner.

The ground suddenly began to shake, and a distorted voice echoed through the system.

GAME OVER USER WINS

Dot looked up, pulling away. Thunder rumbled and shook the ground. "Cursors!" she swore. She hadn't rescued the other binomes yet. Lightning flashed, illuminating the system for a moment. "Bob! What about the holdouts!?" He hesitated, then took her hand and began pulling her towards the P.O. "There's no time!" Dot swallowed, and followed. Behind them, Dot could hear a crackling sound. Turning around, she watched in astonishment as the ground began to crack and splinter. Then in a rolling motion, it began to collapse. It rushed forwards at a dangerously fast pace. She knew if they didn't start going faster, they would plummet into the nothingness too.

Bob breathed hard, forcing his board to go faster, but it wouldn't, it was already at top speed. He heard Dot cry out beside him in frustration. Her zip board was running out of power! Bob instantly ground to a halt. DOT! Flipping his own board around, he flew towards her at breakneck speed. "Hold on!" he cried desperately. Not even bothering to slow down, he took a turn in the air at full speed and raced to Dot. In one quick move, he grabbed her around the waist and slung her over his shoulder. Dot was so surprised by the manoeuvre that she dropped Enzo's Frisket. It fell to the ground, then into the dark abyss and disappeared forever. Bob continued the race back to the Principal Office. Dot hung from his shoulder and watched as the hole devoured her system. She closed her eyes, grateful that Bob hadn't listened to her.

Bob reached the sanctity of the Principal Office and gently put Dot down. She got her balance and looked in his eyes. "Thanks." she said in a shaky voice.
Turning to head back in, they found there was no need to. Everyone was already standing outside.

There was one last incredible bang, and the last of the ground fell into oblivion. All that was left of Mainframe was the Principal Office, the centre of the city. Dot stepped back from the edge. Looking down, she could see nothing below, just darkness. There was a frightening silence, then the light vanished, and they were thrown into complete blackness.

Mouse stood on the steps of the P.O looking around, but seeing nothing. She couldn't even see Ray, who had been standing next to her. Reaching out, she touched what turned out to be the surfer's arm. If I'm gunna go... she thought. Grabbing Ray by the shoulders, she pushed him to the ground and kissed him.

The lights slowly flickered on. Suddenly a bright light lit up the sky. Craning her head up, AndrAIa saw a transparent Principal Office descending. It slowed down and covered them. When it was in place, she saw that it looked like it was brand new.
The same thing happened with the rest of the system. The different sectors floated down from the sky and joined together. Explosions of light and colour began to burst into the sky, and the sectors flooded with colour. While that was happening, the Silicon Tor started fading, until it didn't exist anymore.

The system was restored to it's past glory, but it still remained floating in the darkness. One light blue explosion flew into the sky and began to spread out, forming a clear blue sky. The last thing to happen was a wave of purple energy began to rise around the edges of Mainframe, forming the energy sea.

Dot watched in complete shock. It's beautiful. She thought, knowing she would never see anything like it again.
Feeling a small tug on her hand, she turned to see Bob taking her hand. Dot smiled and snuggled up to him. Bob held her tightly and looked out over Mainframe, watching the rest of the show.

Chapter Twenty

Phong blinked, thinking he was seeing things. Columns of green light shot down from the sky and when they left, binomes stood in wonder. Phong suddenly realized that these were binomes that had been deleted in the war.

When Mouse finally released Ray, he sat up and gasped for air. "Wow." was all he could get out. Mouse grinned.

Matrix cried out in happiness and picked up AndrAIa swinging her around. "Enzo, I'm getting dizzy!" she laughed. He couldn't help it, he was too happy. Frisket barked joyfully and ran in little circles.

Dot watched her brother and AndrAIa celebrating, laughing at the way her brother was acting. Just like little Enzo she thought, seeing a huge resemblance. Still laughing, she turned back to Bob. He hugged her tighter. No interruptions this time. After hours of just being 'friends' Bob finally got the chance to kiss her. Dot enjoyed every moment of it, not thinking he would be that good at it.

After what seemed like eternity, they pulled apart, still looking at each other. Bob noticed that it was strangely quiet. Looking up the couple saw every set of eyes on them. The crowd erupted into cheers; Mouse's being the loudest of all. Dot turned a darker green with embarrassment, Bob grinning widely.

Hearing small footfalls, Dot and Bob turned in time to see a small green streak racing towards them. Bob was knocked backwards, tearing him away from Dot.
Shaking his head, he saw a familiar sprite sitting on him, talking at a million miles an hour. "Bobwhatdidyoudotoyourhair! It's sooo cool! I can't believe you kissed my sister! That's gross! Can we go circut racing now!?" Bob's jaw dropped, and he looked at Dot for an answer. She was as amazed as he was.

They turned to Matrix. It then occurred to Bob why there were two of them. His PID is in game sprite mode! The small Enzo saw the huge crowd, and getting off Bob to let him up, said "What's with all the people, sis? A party or something!?" Mouse, hearing the comment, shouted out loudly, "It is now!" The citizens of Mainframe burst out in cheers again.

***

Dot looked at the orange sky, night falling fast. "Coming?" she heard a voice ask. Bob stood a few feet away, waiting for her. The two sprites stood right outside the Principal Office, and they were on the way to the diner for a party. Actually, they didn't have to go to the diner, anywhere they went in Mainframe would have a party. Dot tore her eyes from the perfect scene and started towards him. "Sorry. Come on. Let's get there before we're late."

Dot and Bob walked into the loud diner a few milliseconds later holding hands. There were shouts and cheers from everyone inside.
They found Mouse and the Surfer already sitting together with Matrix, Enzo and AndrAIa. "Dot, you're late." said the game sprite, smiling. Mouse began laughing suddenly. Dot put her hands on her hips and frowned mockingly at her best friend, knowing what she was laughing at. "No Mouse. I was late because I had to register the new PIDs." Mouse grinned at Bob accusingly. "Whatever you say, Sugah!" Bob flushed a light purple colour. "I don't get it." the little Enzo said, looking at the adults in confusion.
"Nevermind." AndrAIa told him, laughing at the little sprite.

Several nanos later, Dot and Bob were sitting on the dock at Kits. They had left the party early and had been talking together about everything from the past, to the future.
Dot swung her feet over the edge of the dock, looking at the energy through the cracks in the boards. "Bob..." he looked at her, his hair reflecting some of the early morning light. "Don't ever leave me behind again." He took her hands. "I promise."

After a few more milliseconds, Dot decided she had better take care of Enzo. They each went their separate ways, Dot to the diner, and Bob to his apartment.

Walking into his place, Bob looked around, feeling a wave of nostalgia. It seemed like so long ago that he had lived there. Everything was as it had been in the past. Entering his room, he found the picture of the Supercomputer still hanging over his bed. Reaching over, he pressed a button in the corner, and the picture dissolved into one of Mainframe.
Then something occurred to him. Walking into his garage, he found his car sitting in the same spot. Bob vaulted over the side and into the driver's seat. Pushing the ignition, the car gunned a few times, then died. Bob shook his head. I love this thing. He patted the exterior happily and got out, heading back into the main room.

Bob slumped back on his couch, exhausted, but happy to finally be home. I'm never leaving again. he thought, thinking of how much he loved Mainframe, but more specificly, his family.

He closed his eyes, and finally fell asleep.

THE END (?)

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