Author's Note: This story takes place right after Bob and the crew of the Saucy Mare return to Mainframe, and find it in ruins. It takes a completely different turn than the Arc Four episodes.
The Saucy Mare flew through the portal from the Web into Mainframe-- or as it was now called-- Megaframe. Ray walked up beside Bob. (Yes, Ray is with them now.) "My, what ‘appened ‘ere?"
"I wish I knew," Bob replied simply. Seeing the city in its decrepit state, Bob could only worry about the state of his friends. Did they manage to find shelter? Did Megabyte banish them from "his" city? There was only one way to find out. Bob didn’t like it one bit.
AndrAIa took her place between Bob and Matrix. She gasped at the sight of the destroyed system. She felt hot tears streaming down her face. Matrix wrapped his arms around her comfortingly. He got a pang of worry also. But it was not for the fate of the city, not yet anyway. "Dot," he uttered, "I sure hope she survived."
Bob looked pained, then lightened up a bit for Matrix's sake. "Don't worry, she's your sister, a Matrix. I… I'm sure she’ll have found a way to survive." Although inside, he prayed that he was right.
The ship docked, and the sprites got off, into the devastated system. Bob gave his orders. "Okay, the best way to find out what actually happened here is to split up. AndrAIa and Ray, you take Frisket and gather as much information as possible on how Mainframe got in this state. Matrix and I will search for Dot and the others."
The group split into two, and they went their separate ways.
* * *
"Just… a little… farther!" she gasped, running at top speed away from the threat. All she could hear was the sound of her heart, ready to pound right out of her chest, and the sound of her shallow footsteps on the cold, hard pavement.
She risked a glance over her shoulder. That was a bad idea. The virus was gaining. Fast. She ran into a narrow, dank alleyway. She gasped when she reached a solid brick wall. She was trapped. "Well, I said I'd do anything to save the system," she mused, a look of sheer horror on her face, "but I never thought I'd be deleted trying!"
The virus approached, claws outstretched, a look of pure malice on his face, ready to strike…
* * *
Ray, AndrAIa, and Frisket approached the lone building in the center of the system: the Principal Office. Ray pounded on the door. No answer. "Well, the lights ‘re on, but nob’dy’s ‘ome," he said, trying to be cheerful, but failing miserably.
AndrAIa tried to force the door open but it wouldn't budge. "Cursors and crashes," she muttered. Then an idea hit her. She took out her trident, extended it to its full length, and jammed it in the security mechanism. The control panel on the vidwindow display flickered and faded; opening the door as it faded. They were in.
The trio wandered through the halls of the Principal Office, searching for answers to questions long since asked. The way to the Read Only room was as gloomy as a night in the most devastated of systems; which was probably what Mainframe now was.
Getting to the Read Only room was harder than the small group had bargained. Everywhere they looked, there was a troop of viral binomes. The sinister markings on the walls proved one thing: the Principal Office had been lost to the Mainframers, and gained by Megabyte.
"Well, one thing’s fer sure," Ray commented, "this Megabyte guy sure is frivolous. He must ‘ave a professional interior decorator ‘orking for ‘im. Look at 'ose tapestries, ‘ose designs, look at the artistry, the--"
"Ray," AndrAIa interrupted with a sigh, "it's a virus’s lair, not a museum!"
After that, the trip to the Read Only room was done mostly in silence, except for when they came across troops of viral binomes. Frisket had a few micros of fun as he tore the binomes to shreds.
Upon entering the Read Only room, AndrAIa ran a search on "Megaframe". The computer screen flashed a bit and finally returned 2702 documents. "Oh my," AndrAIa muttered, "this may take longer than we thought."
* * *
Meanwhile, Bob and Matrix were touring the city from above, on zip-boards. They were desperate to find some sort of life form on this desolate terrain.
When Bob saw the hole in the ground where Dot’s Diner had once been, he had to fight the lump that was rising in his throat. His eyes stung, and the water threatened to spill over the floodgates. He managed to regain his composure long enough to mumble a garbled comment to Matrix. Thoughts and images of Dot filled his mind’s eye as the two Guardians hovered over the city. A lone, single tear rolled down his cheek, relaxing his soul. He wasn't as hard as a rock: he was mortal, after all. He was allowed to have emotions for the sprite he loved.
Luckily, Matrix didn't see the dreaded tear, and mumbled some incoherent response. He seemed to be having the same reaction to his sister’s beloved Diner. He inhaled deeply and pressed forward, motioning for Bob to follow. Bob did so, but he found it hard to tear away from the sight of the still-scorched hole in the ground where the Diner had once stood.
Suddenly, and without warning, a disturbing image of Dot replaced the soothing ones that were making up a collage in Bob’s mind. It erased the mixture of good memories and left a permanent, black mark in Bob's brain. Something was terribly wrong. He stopped his zip-board abruptly and realized that this was no memory; it was happening now. "DOT!" he screamed and headed for where Level 31 used to be. He had to save her before it was too late.
Matrix said, "Bob, WAIT! Wait for me!" but it was too late. Bob had already sped off to Level 31. Matrix followed far behind.
Bob was speeding towards the darkened alley where Dot was. He could see Megabyte slowly approaching her. His claws were already outstretched. He had to act fast. He could see by the look on Dot’s face that she was frozen in fear, unable to move a muscle. He zipped down, snatched her up in his arms, and lifted away just in time. Megabyte smashed into the wall, claws still extended. He was stuck there, for now at least.
Bob hugged Dot awkwardly, seeing as he was carrying her, and she soon recovered from her frozen state. She slowly looked up. She gasped in disbelief. Was this really happening? Was Bob really back? "B… Bob? Is that really you?" was all she could ask.
They stopped at a stone slab where Bob set her down. At his nod, Dot threw her arms around his neck and cried. Bob held her tightly; hot tears trickling down his cheeks. The only thing that mattered to him was that he had her back for good. There would be no more leaving; no more pretending, from now on, only the future mattered. "You can't ever do that again. Ever. I… I missed you so much. I felt I had lost everything I held dear. For once, I’m happy I was wrong."
"I promise. I’ll never, ever do that again. I… I love you, Dot. I have a surprise for you." Bob released her, and moved aside. There, standing in front of her, was a large, green male sprite.
Dot looked uncertainly at the sprite, not really knowing if she should believe her instinct. Her instinct was telling her that this was Enzo, her little brother. She was torn by indecision.
Before she could decide, the male sprite spoke up in a deep voice, "Hi, Dot. Miss me?" At Dot's blank stare, he continued, "It's me. It’s Enzo. I’m home, Sis."
Dot could immediately feel tears burning in her eyes. Her instinct had been correct. It was Enzo. She ran to him and hugged him, crying. "Oh, Enzo!" she cried, "I never thought I'd never see you again. I thought I had lost everything."
"Dot, I'm really sorry. Losing that game has been something I've been regretting for as long as I can remember. I'm sorry I've caused you this much pain. We brought the cavalry. Gavin, the crew of the Saucy Mare, and Ray Tracer are here, along with Frisket and AndrAIa. We're going to win this battle, once and for all."
"Great! Um… Enzo? One thing. Who's Ray Tracer?"
"Oh, how basic of me! Ray's a web surfer. He's the one who initially got us into the Web, whereupon we found Bob."
Dot walked back to Bob and hugged him. "I guess I owe him a lot then, don't I?"
Bob smiled at her, the kissed her gently. "I love you," she whispered.
Bob kissed her again. "I know, Dot. I know," he said softly.
No one noticed as Matrix sped off to the Principal Office to tell the others that they'd found Dot.
* * *
Meanwhile, Ray and AndrAIa were still searching through files in the Read Only room.
" 'ey, AndrAIa?" Ray asked, "Is 'is it?" He held up a document that was entitled 'The History of Megaframe'.
AndrAIa looked up. "Well, there's one way to find out! Computer! Read file entitled 'The History of Megaframe'."
Just before the computer read the document, AndrAIa turned on her trusty tape recorder and pressed 'record'. If this was the desired file, she'd need a copy to show Bob.
As the recording played, AndrAIa, Ray, and Frisket exchanged grim looks. This was definitely the right one. After it had finished, AndrAIa stopped her tape recorder and slid it back into the secret compartment inside her trident.
As if on cue, Matrix bolted through the door and into the room looking surprisingly excited.
"What is it, Lover?" AndrAIa asked as she was lifted off the floor and twirled around in a dizzying circle.
When Matrix had somehow managed to catch his breath and had carefully put her down, he exclaimed, "AndrAIa! We've found Dot! She's back with Bob!" He laughed happily and hugged her tightly.
Ray, looking somewhat excluded, asked, "Well? What're we waitin' for? We've got the file, let's go!"
Mouse was scouting the lower levels of Megaframe when she saw something that almost made her eyes pop right out her head. She blinked, looked away, then looked back again. No, her eyes hadn't been playing tricks on her. Dot was standing a little ways off, that was normal enough, but what got her, was she was standing with… a sprite. After squinting a little, she saw that it was… Bob.
Mouse squinted again and shook her head as if to discard an unwanted thought. She then donned her usual indifferent pose and casually (or seemingly so) sauntered up to the pair of sprites. As she got closer, she could her Bob saying, "I've never seen a system as bad as this. How in the Net did it get this way?"
Before Dot could answer, Mouse stepped in beside her and answered, "It's a long story, honey; too long to tell out here. Why don't we see if we can get back ta tha base and tell it there?"
Bob laughed at Dot's glare, but agreed.
Mouse knew about Bob and Dot's feelings for one another, but decided to flirt with Bob nonetheless. She only did it to annoy Dot. That look she gave her when exasperated was priceless. The only thing that she didn't like about Bob's being here was that he'd probably start to defend Dot if things got out of hand. Not that that was a bad thing on Bob or Dot's behalf, but it made Mouse feel a little edgy. She felt as if it might ruin her image.
To hide her unease, she chattered ceaselessly all the way to the base. She never took her eyes off the couple, and laughed inwardly when she saw them both roll their eyes as she went on and on about nothing at all. "A PhotoShop Moment" as she liked to call it.
Only then did she notice that Bob and Dot were walking hand in hand. She mentally kicked herself. The strange thing was it hurt! Even though she knew jealousy was not the way to go, she couldn't help but feel just a little envious. There was her ex-boyfriend (from a while back, before Bob even came to Mainframe) and her best friend walking hand-in-hand! Well, Mouse, she thought to herself, you've gone and done it again. You got your best friend to trust her feelings for her true love, and what do you get? Zilch.
Mouse's babbling instantly stopped as soon as she saw Ray. All she could do was gape in awe. She turned to Bob. "Honey, may Ah ask, who is that?"
"That's Ray Tracer, a web surfer," Bob said matter-of-factly.
Dot snickered at Mouse's expression as she paid no attention to Matrix or AndrAIa, but jut sauntered up to Ray and flung an arm around his shoulders.
Ray looked a little confused at first, but then realized that a beautiful woman was paying a lot of attention to him, so he soon began to enjoy himself.
Bob just shook his head at Mouse's antics. "Same old Mouse," he mumbled.
AndrAIa cleared her throat to get Mouse and Ray's attention. They both turned away from their conversation and looked sheepishly at the small crowd that was intently watching them.
"Oh, I'm sorry, mates. Bob? When did you get 'ere?"
"I came with that girl that's draped all over you," Bob said, not impressed.
"And who's that lovely lady?" Ray asked, motioning to Dot.
Bob put an arm around Dot's shoulders and drew her close. "This is Dot, " he said, looking down at her with a smile on his face, "She's this system's-- I mean-- our Rebel Force's commander. And, may I add, an amazing planner," he added as he hugged Dot.
Dot looked lovingly up at Bob and smiled at him. She looked back at Ray. "Actually, Phong told me that I am now the Command-Dot-Com I don't know why…"
Bob looked down at Dot, surprised. "You never told me that."
"You never asked." She smiled. "Actually, I was planning to add it into our long story, but, since you told him my old rank, I felt the need to correct you. No offense intended, of course, Bob."
"What about the story, anyway?" Matrix spoke up, getting back to business.
Mouse, who had been busily talking to Ray, spoke up. "Ah'll field that one, honey," she told Matrix.
"We'll both tell you that," Dot corrected, glaring at Mouse.
Mouse smiled smugly and began. "As y'all probably know, we activated a firewall around sector G-Prime. But, soon after Enzo, AndrAIa and Frisket lost the game, Hexadecimal got free of her prison in Megabyte's Tor, and the collar."
"She, in her rage, blasted all her strength into the Tor and blew the whole top section off the rest of the structure. She then went to commanding her own little legion: the nulls," Dot continued, "She destroyed Hack and Slash, and started an all-out attack on her brother.
"Now, Megabyte, with no more Tor, had to find a new place to set up shop. Naturally, he chose the Principal Office."
"We tried to hold him off, but it didn't work. They out-gunned us one hundred to one," Mouse took over again, "Phong ordered us to leave the Principal Office. He rebuilt Hack and Slash and told them to look after Dot. Phong stayed behind, like a captain, ready to go down with his ship. We don't know what happened to him." Mouse looked at Dot grimly.
Dot took over. "After that, we needed to find somewhere, anywhere, from which to conduct out battle plans. We set everything up here because it's close to the Principal Office, and Megabyte doesn't know where we are." She sighed, then said, "Now we have to find a way to get the Principal Office, and Phong, back to us. We need to get rid of Megabyte." She stopped. She couldn't take it anymore. She did not look the least bit happy.
Bob hugged her comfortingly. He hated seeing her like this. "Do you have any ideas?" he asked her gently. Dot shook her head mournfully.
AndrAIa spoke up. "I think I have an idea. Now, here's what we do…"
Megabyte finally managed to free his claws from the wall, and stumbled back to the Principal Office, muttering to himself.
As soon as he sat down in his throne, the virus suddenly realized who Dot's savior was. "GUARDIAN!" he roared. "You will pay dearly for this!"
He couldn't believe that his archenemy had survived the Web. Megabyte now saw that he had greatly underestimated his foe. "Herr Doctor," he said casually, "bring me… my most trusted follower," he ordered with a disgustingly evil smile. It would be very satisfying to see the look on Bob's face when he unleashed his secret weapon.
"Yes, my grossenbeitter," Herr Doctor praised, then ran off towards the door to fetch Megabyte's new friend.
Megabyte leaned back in his throne. "How can it be possible that Bob has returned? Well. No matter. We'll soon find out who really deserves this city, this… haven. The Principal Office is rightfully mine. No one will get in my way."
A few moments later, Herr Doctor returned with Megabyte's most trusted follower. Megabyte smiled pleasantly at the sight of him. The green eyes looked so much better, and his blue tinted skin suited him better than the old trashy gold. Megabyte hated that color.
"Well, Phong, I have some most disturbing news for you," Megabyte purred.
"Please, master, do tell," Phong implored.
"My archenemy, Bob, has returned. I want you to do something for me."
"Anything you wish, Lord Megabyte."
Hexadecimal sat in her throne room watching her brother. She was not pleased. I never thought Megabyte would go so far, she thought dismally, watching him give Phong his orders. She opened another window and watched the Rebels plan their attack.
"Well, Skuzzy," she said, patting him on the head, "It looks like we have out work cut out for us. I have made a decision. We will join the Rebellion. We must not let my brother win."
Skuzzy flattened himself slightly, but made a sound of agreement. He didn't like what Megabyte was doing, either.
"I'm glad you agree, Skuzzy," Hex said to the little football-shaped mouse. She then got up and went to the Rebel base. She hoped they'd agree to let her join their attack.
"Well," Dot said, once AndrAIa had finished telling the small group of her plan, "I don't think I could have done any better. It sounds good. Does anyone else agree?"
As soon as she had asked the question, there were several nods and statements of agreement. Dot was satisfied. "It looks like we've got ourselves a plan," she said happily.
Not two nanos after she had said that, the door to the base flew open, and in walked…
"Hexadecimal!" Bob said in surprise, stepping protectively in front of the group. Everyone assumed different defensive positions.
Hex, however, had stepped in the doorway, and had put her hands out, palms up, as a sign of peace. She switched her mask to a pleading, sincere face. "Wait," she said quietly, "Before you attack me, I have something to ask of you. If I ask to join your Rebel forces, will you accept?"
Everyone exchanged confused looks. Matrix stepped forward. "How do we know this isn't another one of your attacks, virus?" he asked with a sneer.
"Wait," Bob said, laying a hand on Matrix's shoulder. "Hex, you can join us--"
"Thank you, Guardian."
"--on one condition. That you remain with at least two of us at one time."
"Anything for revenge against my brother."
Bob then squinted and walked up to Hex. "What happened to your face?" he asked, seeing the shattered mask.
"Megabyte," was all Hex said.
"Here, just let me touch it," Bob said, laying both hands on Hex's mask. He used his Glitch half to mend it. The process was slow. Very slow.
Hex screamed. She blocked off her optics. She couldn't bear to see what he was doing. Slowly, the pain subsided, and she felt Bob's hands slowly leave her face. She reactivated her optics, and looked into a nearby reflective surface. She gasped. What she saw, she couldn't begin to believe. She looked whole, and perfectly normal. For the first time ever, she felt that way, too.
"Guardian," she whispered, then stopped. Her lips. They moved when she spoke! "What have you done to me?"
"I re-fragmented your masks. They were completely shattered. I remembered that they had never been normal. I added some programming of my own to ease your suffering."
For once in her life, Hexadecimal looked happy, peaceful. "I-- I'm sorry for anything I've ever done to offend you, any of you. Now with my mind clear, I see which is the right path." She looked Bob in the eyes. "Bob? Can you purify me of my viral contamination? Make me a sprite?"
Bob looked genuinely surprised. "I can try, but it may not work."
"I'm willing to take the risk."
"Alright. This may be painful." Bob took a deep breath and laid his hands upon Hex's shoulders. He transferred a virus cleaning system into Hex' main data stream, and prayed.
A flash, a scream, and a loud power charge, and it was all over. Dot came over to Bob and smiled proudly up at him, then looked at Hex in astonishment.
Hexadecimal slowly stood up, and turned around to look in the reflective surface. It had worked. She was no longer viral. She was about Mouse's height with tan skin, blue eyes, and shoulder-length brown hair. She smiled, then threw herself at Bob.
Bob awkwardly managed to detach her from him. "I let you keep your powers," he said.
"Hex smiled again. "Thank you, Guardian. You have no idea how grateful I am." She looked at Dot. "Don't worry, I won't steal him away from you."
Then Bob remembered something. "Mouse?" He turned, only Mouse wasn't there. Neither was Ray.
"I think she and Ray are off somewhere else," Dot said with a wink.
Bob got Dot's message loud and clear. "I think I'd better go look for them," he said.
"Not without me, you won't," Dot said.
Bob smiled fondly down at her, hugged her, and let her lead the way to Mouse's quarters.
Mouse and Ray were alone in Mouse's quarters, mostly chatting, but, after a while, Ray leaned, put his arms around Mouse, and kissed her. At that moment, Bob and Dot walked in.
"Well," Bob remarked casually, shattering the moment, "Dot, Look who we found!" He smiled devilishly and walked up to the couple, placing a hand on each one's shoulder. "Mouse? Ray? You two need to be present. We are discussing battle techniques. You remember Megabyte, don't you?"
Dot shook her head with a mocking smile on her face and approached the small group. "Mouse?" she said sweetly, "We need you to help us decide on a strategy."
"Well, why didn't ya say so earlier, honey?" Mouse asked, speaking for the first time since Bob and Dot had entered the room, "Ah would'a stayed, but Hexadecimal's praise session was pretty nausiatin' if you know what Ah mean. Ah wanted to keep mah lunch down." Ray just grinned sheepishly.
Dot shook her head yet again and led the small party back into the main room.
Back in the main room, Hex was admiring her reflection in a mirror provided by one of the binomes and Hack and Slash, who had somehow managed to join the Rebellion, were watching her. The door to Mouse's quarters opened, revealing Bob, Dot, Mouse, and Ray, who all walked up to Matrix and AndrAIa, who were sitting in a corner of the warehouse. They stood up upon seeing the return of their friends.
"So," Ray said, "how 'xactly do you pr'pose we go 'bout carryin' 'is plan out?"
"Well, I was thinking of a surprise attack," AndrAIa started, toying with a strand of her hair. "Megabyte must not suspect a thing. Hexadecimal? You go with Bob and Dot and sneak in through the 'back door'. Mouse and Ray will try to hack into the PID files to try to liberate them, trying at the same time to find Phong. Matrix and I," AndrAIa continued, only to be interrupted by Frisket growling. She laughed. "And yes, you too, Frisket. We will go look for Megabyte. We'll meet up with Bob, Dot, and Hex at the door to Megabyte's new throne room. Are we ready?"
In response, everyone made various affirmative remarks, and went into the makeshift armory to get suited up.
Far out in the energy-sea, a shimmering portal opened. A dark, ominous figure slowly emerged from it, sliding slowly towards the city. It was a particularly evil entity, and it wore a devilish grin.
She was here on a mission that could put her whole operation in jeopardy. She didn't mind, however; she had already done most of it, she only had two more tasks to accomplish. She was only starting a new mission because it was, as she thought, convenient because she was in the area.
She touched a key on her arm and her earphone crackled. A small and terrified voice answered her touch. "Y-yes your evil highness?"
"Shut up, you scum!" she hissed, "I've entered the system. That virus has had his last chance to carry out my orders. I will make sure that he understands the importance of obeying his master. Daemon out."
At the same time in the lower levels of Megaframe, a pair of figures stepped out of a similar portal: a male and a female. The male looked around and gasped in surprise. The female's reaction was similar.
"Turbo? What happened to this system?" asked the female, Chroma.
"I don't know," the Prime Guardian replied, "but whatever it is, this system needs help." He suddenly stopped talking and closed his eyes, opening them a few nanoseconds later. "I sense Daemon's presence," Turbo breathed, putting his hand to a glowing right temple. The Infection burned brightly within him.
Chroma lowered her gaze periodically, staring at a large shard of roughly discarded cement. She looked up again. "Let's do it," she said.
"Wait," Turbo said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "I… sense another's presence. Is… is this possible? Could Bob have truly returned?"
Chroma's head snapped up. "Bob?" she asked incredulously, "This is his system?"
"Yeah. And I think-- no wait-- I'm sure he's back."
"Can you trace him?"
"Yes. Copland, search for Guardian 452 by the name of Bob."
The key-tool whirred and responded by displaying a map with a glowing blue spot on it.
As one, the two Guardians left towards the Rebel Base.
Megabyte, still in his throne, drummed his fingers impatiently against his console. Herr Doctor watched him intently. "Herr Doctor," Megabyte said suddenly, "A tear has opened out in the energy-sea. I want you to find out who our… new visitor is," he rumbled.
"Yes, Lord Megabyte," Herr Doctor replied and dashed out the door.
A few micros later, Megabyte opened a vidwindow at the city limits to check on Herr Doctor. When he saw his servant, his eyes widened. The binome lay in a heap, charred and blackened. There, on his forehead, was a symbol. Megabyte recognized it immediately. "Daemon!!" he screamed.
The Rebels, now ready to move out, were going through the plan of attack one final time. They heard a noise and started. All eyes were on the door. It suddenly buckled then fell over with incredible speed, obviously the result of some brute strength. Everyone tensed and braced themselves for the worst.
Two figures materialized out of the shadows. Slowly, they walked forward, their feet echoing ominously on the cold stone floor. They stepped into the dim light provided by a small oil lamp hanging from the ceiling. Bob gasped, then took a step forward.
"Turbo! Chroma! I… how… but…" Bob faltered, staring at the two Guardians in amazement.
"Bob! Thank the User, we found you!" Chroma said, hugging her former student. "Turbo and I have been talking about your little… Web… problem." It appeared that, for once in her life, Chroma was at a loss for words. In an effort to hide it, she laughed, then returned to Turbo's side.
The big Guardian looked Bob in the eye. "Bob, your system has a problem."
Bob gaped. "You think I didn't notice?"
"No, no not the destruction, you now have yet another problem. You have another virus to deal with." He pointed to his glowing icon. "Daemon. I sense her presence. She's probably going to do something horrible. We have to act fast."
Hex spoke up, "Oh, so, you're that Prime Guardian I keep hearing about! You're quite a popular person around these parts."
Turbo took a step backwards. "Is that who I think it is?" He gave Hex an uneasy look. "Hexadecimal?"
Hex beamed. Turbo gawked, then demanded an explanation. Dot gave him one. Once she had finished, Turbo turned pale. "Bob," he said, "This has… never, ever, been done before! Congratulations!"
"Um… thank you?" Bob said, uncertain.
AndrAIa laughed then proceeded to explain the battle plan. Chroma and Turbo exchanged grim looks during the entire re-telling. This was not good. They could scarcely believe what was happening. They were about to go up against the most dangerous virus in the whole Net, maybe even the Web, and were aiming to survive? Things did not look good. Not at all.
When AndrAIa had finished with her plan, she looked at Turbo expectantly, who blinked. "Well?" AndrAIa asked, when she got no answer.
"Hmm… It sounds like a good plan to me. It may not work, but it's the last chance we have. Chroma?"
"I agree with Turbo. It's worth a shot. Battle is never a good thing, but when you get down to really thinking about it, what other choices do you have? No logical discussing with the enemy this time."
Bob burst out laughing and looked at Dot. She looked amazed. "Well Dot," Bob said, "It appears that you have found your equal. Chroma is practically a clone of you… personality-wise."
Dot playfully punched Bob in the shoulder. "Ok, Bob, whatever you say." She glanced at Chroma, who was watching this exchange.
"Did anyone tell you two you'd make the cutest couple?"
Bob sighed and explained that he and Dot were already together, and Chroma just stepped backwards and stopped talking for a while. She wasn't used to this.
"Alright, people," Mouse piped up, "Enough with th' chit-chat, let's go take a battle to Megabayte!"
Everyone agreed and ran out of the base.
Daemon scoured the halls of the Principal Office looking for her pray. She was not at all happy with her apprentice for this little job he had taken upon himself. She found herself to be smiling with the very thought of what he had done. A viral takeover of a system was normally a good thing in her mind, but not with this particular virus.
Megabyte had had a rather nasty history with her. There was a time when he had been just like all the other virals. He had been willing to follow her commands as the queen just like all his colleagues. He was actually her favorite student. So liked and honored that Daemon took it upon herself to personally train and guide this individual. Unfortunately, as a young virus, Megabyte was rebellious and as soon as she attempted to help him, he took action.
No matter how hard Daemon tried, she could not regain control of her student. She tried praise, pleas, guilt, and blackmail, but all of this was futile. It just made Megabyte get more egotistical and proud of himself. How Daemon longed to see his bubble popped. But this was not to be.
Megabyte ran away from the academy, never to return. He was never a fully-fledged virus, never legally capable of viral takeovers or infections of any kind. But, he knew that the keyword was "legally" so he broke the law and took over a whole sector of Mainframe anyway. He didn't care what Daemon would think, what she would do. He just wanted to be feared and respected. He got tired of owning a single sector, so, when he took over the whole city, his arrogance grew to an incredible level.
Daemon smiled evilly with the thought of finally being rid of this menace. He had caused her nothing but grief for as long as she could remember. When she would finally be happy, and could schedule her little plan.
She poked her nose around a doorway and her eyes glowed with hatred. She had found her pray. It was payback time. She slowly edged towards the unsuspecting virus, claws gleaming…
The group of rebels had approached enemy territory and was preparing to attack. Bob tuned around to face his companions and started to talk in a harsh whisper. "All right," he hissed," you remember the plan. Let's split up and get this over with."
The group split into three and the excursion into the virus's lair commenced. Each group was advancing from a different side, each slowly advancing the exterior of the outer shield of the spherical Principal Office.
Bob's group tiptoed its way to the back entrance. The Guardian turned around and said, "Hex, remember what you have to do. This is very dangerous. You do understand you may not get out of this alive, don't you?"
Hexadecimal nodded grimly. She looked down at her hands and sighed quietly. She knew that the odds were against her, but she had to do her job.
The group pressed on, Bob in front, Dot covering Bob, Hex looking out for the two in front, and Turbo bringing up the rear.
"Here it is," Bob whispered, motioning to an air duct. He suddenly froze. Something wasn't right.
"Bob, what is it?" Dot asked, instantly worried.
"I heard something. Wait…"
A distant energy charge could be heard, then a loud scream. A scream that was distinctly viral… distinctly Megabyte's scream.
"Do you suppose the others have managed to get in yet?" Chroma asked, puzzled.
"I would doubt it," Bob said, "Maybe Daemon reached him already."
"All the better for us!" Hex exclaimed, without thinking.
"No, Hex! If she got into the Principal Office, who knows what she could do? She obviously came here to get me, but it looks like she's found the jackpot," Bob said.
Megabyte saw the shadow a nano too late. Razor-sharp claws ripped through his torso and chest. He screamed, but his cry was only to be cut short by a strangled gasp as his lifeless body fell to the ground with a metallic clang.
Daemon roared her triumph and laughed maniacally as the clang echoed, then disappeared. A terrified Phong cowered in the corner, but the super-virus ignored him, and thrust him aside. There were more important matters to attend to. Taking over Mainframe, maybe, but her main concern was the Guardian. She had to take him before it was too late.
The groups reunited inside the main hall and decided the only way to defeat Daemon would be to take her on by force. All eyes turned towards Matrix.
"What?" Matrix asked.
"Matrix, please?" AndrAIa said, putting a hand on his massive left bicep.
"Oh, alright. But I'm only doing this because Daemon is out to get me." He sighed, let out a triumphant war cry and ran into the door that led to Megabyte's chamber.
Success! The doors flew open and a surprised Daemon whirled around to face her foe.
Matrix edged closer to Daemon as Hexadecimal came up behind him and forced a bolt of red energy at the super virus.
"Why Hexadecimal! Dare you try to inflict damage on your queen? You will pay for this insolence!"
"Not today, Daemon!" Hex screamed as she lunged towards her prey, firing a bolt of white-hot energy at the same time.
Daemon, not expecting this, screamed in agony as her metal skin melted under the extreme heat. Hex panted and fired another bolt of sizzling hot energy at the wounded virus. Daemon screamed again as pain shot through her body. She was being destroyed by one of her own kind! She was not going to let this happen!!
The super virus gave a yell of fury as she plunged towards Hexadecimal, energy forming at her fingertips. Two screams collided as AndrAIa's trident went flying through the air and embedded itself into Daemon's mid-section while Hexadecimal was deleted instantly from the blast of energy dealt to her by the virus queen. The super virus flickered with an overcharge of energy and then faded out of existence into the blackness of deletion.
Phong was still lying in a heap where Daemon had so roughly discarded him. Bob went over to him and quickly removed his viral contamination. The old sprite looked disorientated, but was quick to figure out what had happened to him.
The system was looking bleak, despite the fact that the virals were gone. Things worsened as the sky turned violet and the dreaded computer voice announced the system's fate.
"WARNING, INCOMING GAME"
"No. This can't be happening," Matrix muttered. "It's impossible! I've got to get to that game!"
Bob steadied him with a firm hand on his shoulder. "Matrix, no," he said simply.
"If the game crashes the system, it will force an automatic restart. Listen! You have to stay behind!"
As soon as Bob had uttered those words, the game hit bottom with a dull crash. Microseconds of painful silence followed, and the group was too scared to speak.
"GAME OVER, USER WINS"
Buildings toppled over, off their supports and the sky darkened to an ugly shade of dark brown.
"It's not working! It's not gonna work!" AndrAIa said.
Suddenly a loud hum sounded and the normal sounds of a system starting up were heard. A gold replica of Mainframe came down from the sky and the city was restored to its original state. Cheers and shouts of joy came from each and every Mainframer as the deleted binomes were re-compiled and everything returned to normal.
"Well, that's that," Dot said lazily as she lay on a shady patch of grass in Floating Point Park. She smiles at Bob who was lying beside her.
"I think we've seen more than our fair share of viruses to last us decades!" Bob joked.
Dot laughed, then sighed happily. She looked up at the darkening sky as the sun began to set and got up hesitantly. "Well, I'd better be off. I have work to do."
Bob stood also and muttered, "Same old Dot. Why don't you just stay a little longer?" He grinned devilishly.
"And why, may I ask?"
Bob took Dot's hand and knelt before her. "Dot," he said, smiling, "I've loved you for as long as I can remember. You've been a great friend and are an amazing person. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Dot, will you marry me?"
Dot was awestruck. She smiled as tears of joy streamed down her cheeks. "Good enough reason," she laughed, "Yes, Bob. I'll marry you." She paused, then joked, "Whatever took you so long to ask?"
Bob laughed and hugged Dot. "Oh, you know… jitters?"
The couple kissed and walked out of Floating Point Park and into the sunset.