(The guys enter the
Bob: You know, this might be fun.
Servo: Nothing the Mads do is ever fun, Bob.
Mike: There's a pandemic infestation of savings at Menards!
All: (singing) Roe, roe, roe your boot gently down the stream!. . .
Picture an insect the height of a one binome standing on six long sharp pointed legs.
Servo: What would you call something like
Bob: I don't know, but it's right behind you!
(Servo screams and whips around.)
Bob: Hee hee.
Mike: Bob, stop teasing Tom.
It has the head of and army ant,
Crow: The body of a zebra, the tail of a snake, the wings of a bat. . .
equip with a pair of steel sharp pincers for cutting and tearing.
Servo: It's a Ginsu 2000.
It has the front claws of a mantis
Crow: The hind claws of a goat, the midclaws
of a sea turtle, the. . .
Mike: (touching Crow's shoulder) Okay. . .
for grasping its prey. Its abdomen is a bees save for the yellow stripes
Bob: And there's no stinger and. . . well,
actually it's a kitten's abdomen.
Servo: What makes her so sure this is the kind of bug we're picturing?
and can flex up and down and side to side to use its stinger at any angle. Within it it a sack of poison so deadly
Mike: That it kills people.
it can kill within a second. Worse the stinger can lodge into its prey
Servo: Umm, yeah, that'd kinda be the point of having a stinger.
and remain to pump its sack of venom into the victim. The Bug will not die afterward. It will live on to hunt more prey and find others to erase using its jaws and claws.
Crow: To erase. . . wait a minute, she's talking
about a computer bug?
Bob: Geez, you Users don't know anything.
This is the Soldier Program Bug.
Mike: It's one of those beanie babies that nobody likes.
And you thought Viruses, Code Masters and Web Creatures were deadly?
Bob: If you did, then you're right!
Just wait until these drop by your system...
Servo: Well gee, if I knew they were coming, I'd have baked a cake.
Crow: Oh, so that wasn't part of the story? Now it's starting?
I started to write this story before Lost In Space the Movie came out.
Mike: Oh. Well. Good for you.
I used the attitude of the spiders in that movie to further the attitude of the Programming Bugs
Servo: The translator took no liberties with the original Japanese.
along with several other movies in the tradition of ReBoot ripoff dialog and plot.
Bob: You mean like Emidecimal?
Other things to watch for are takes on Titanic,
Mike: Uh huh. . .
Mike: Good. . .
and even a line from Godzilla.
Crow: She's doing this on purpose!
This story takes place shorty after the events of season 3.
Servo: Now, on with the show!
Servo: Or not.
Matrix followed the band of CPUs through the darkened streets struggling to keep up.
Bob: (panting) I really gotta. . . start layin' off. . . the bacon cheeseburgers. . .
He dared not trip and fall or risk injury to himself.
Mike: Words to live by.
Odds are the cold cored lieutenant would use it as the perfect excuse to leave him behind.
Crow: What the. . . ?
Bob: So this prologue. . . it's not here to explain the background at all. . .
"Slow down!" he snarled to them.
Servo: He just doesn't get this whole triathalon thing, does he?
Lieutenant Dos only paused long enough to glance at him. The binome's one eye focused on Matrix's cybernetic one in disgust.
Mike: Wow, it practically picks up where Season
3 left off!
Bob: Okay, story, as soon as you're ready.
"If you didn't insist on bringing that breathing carcass along, you wouldn't be slowing us down!"
Crow: (Matrix) Don't talk about my mom that way!
Matrix dropped the backpack of gear he had in his hand preferring to adjust the weight of the body he had slung on his shoulders.
Servo: (Matrix) Geez, why did I have to buy the whole cow?
His eye burned red as he growled. Matrix carried Bob by slinging him on his shoulders like a yoke.
Bob: Hey! What does he think I am, a sack of potatoes?
It was a burden he wished he didn't have to bare.
Bob: Yeah? Well I wish you could have
gone past me once without slamming me in the ribs! I had to have major
Mike: Bob, calm down. Remember, it's just the author's interpretation of your world. . .
Bob: Oh. . . how come we never have to see your characters being distorted beyond recognition?
Mike: Bob, this is neither the time nor the place.
Matrix felt the warm energy of Bob's wounds on his shoulder.
Crow: Oh yuck!
The guardian let out a deep moan
Crow: What? What? I didn't say anything!
Mike: Oh. . . sorry. . . force of habit. . .
making Matrix more grieved and enraged.
"Have you forgotten who this is?!" Matrix yelled at him.
Servo: No, of course not! That's Dave from the hardware store, right?
"Do I have to remind you I am in charge here?"
Crow: Said the nameless binome.
"Only by blind guidance!" Lieutenant Dos snapped.
Bob: Dos is really bitter that the nameless binome is in charge.
"The command.com is deleted! Our system is going to crash! And it's your own fault he's going to die!"
Mike: I'm pregnant, you're the father, and I'm going to kill all three of us!
"He's not going to die!"
Servo: He makes a good argument.
"Whatever you want to believe!
Crow: What's that supposed to mean?
No one survives an attack by a Soldier! Now are we going to keep arguing out here? More Soldiers can show up any nanosecond!"
Bob: (Dos) Why, there's one now! AAA HE'S EATING ME AAAaaa *ack* *crk*
Matrix had placed Bob on his shoulders
Mike: (Bob) Hey Enzo, remember all those piggy-back rides when you were little? It's payback time.
so he could pull his gun if he needed.
He wanted to do so to shoot the lieutenant.
Crow: He wanted to do so in order that so if he wanted he could decide to shoot the lieutenant.
Dos ordered the CPUs to keep moving.
Bob: (Dos) Keep moving! Okay, move some more! Continue movement! Do not discontinue moving!
Matrix seethed. He had Bob moan again.
(Everyone clears their throats loudly.)
Delirious from pain and poison Bob mumbled.
Servo: (Bob, mumbling) yeah, the sandwich, that's where I was, and they were everywhere,. . . wanted my sandwich. . . snakes, and I love paper clips. . . and the snakes. . . wanted my paper clips sandwich. . .
Mike: Umm, it's pronounced "Matrix". Just like it's spelled.
here...where is...Dot, Enzo? Please...take me...to her."
Crow: Bob's Shatnering out of control!
Matrix spoke to him softly. "Hang on, Bob. Well be at the bunker soon."
Matrix left the backpack behind.
Bob: Hey, I bought that for him! For his birthday!
It was, like, 50 credits! He begged me for minutes!
Crow: Just let it go, Bob.
Bob: Sorry, it just makes me mad. . .
A few nanoseconds later a Programming Bug crawled out of the shadows to examine it.
Servo: (Bug) Hmm. Nice. Got a little pocket there for your pencils. . .
The size of a large null, the cockroach-like Scout Bug ran its feelers over the pack. It then dug its mandibles into the cloth.
Mike: It's a moth?
Finding only ammunition it scurried away to seek other prey. It smelled fresh energy. It quickly saw Matrix and run up to him.
Crow: The author was confused and change tense a lot.
Matrix raised his foot in time to smash the Bug's head into the pavement and continued walking.
Mike: And the infestation is crushed. The end.
How did we end up like this?
Servo: This is not my beautiful house! This
is not my beautiful wife!
Bob: Well, prologue's over. Now for the preface, the author's notes, the introduction. . .
"The corner booth Madam?"
"Of course Cecil."
Mike: The sea-sick sea serphant?
Bob and Dot walked into the diner to have a late lunch date.
Servo: (Cecil) I'm sorry sir, you can only
order from the breakfast menu.
Crow: Guess they shouldn't have come that late.
As they sat down across from each other Cecil asked. "The usual sir?"
"Yes, Cecil, please."
"It's Cescil!" he emphasized before sliding away.
Mike: Right out of the story.
Bob: Stupid lucky waiter.
Dot grinned. "I'd thought he'd learn by now."
"I haven't heard him complain like that in a long time. I want to keep him practicing."
Crow: (Bob) If I don't tease him about his stupid name, who's gonna?
Servo: (Dot) Calling him Cecil, that's great!
"That's another thing I've missed."
Bob: Belittling waitors?
Mike: Oh geez, HE SAID "THAT'S ANOTHER THING I'VE MISSED!"
"Hearing you laugh."
"I thought I'd forget how."
Crow: Yeah, I bet she'd forget how to breathe if big old Bob wasn't around.
Bob leaned closer to her. "What do you want for your birthday?"
Servo: (Dot) A restraining order.
She made a face.
Mike: Oh, she's giving us fishy-lips.
"A promise you'll forget I have one. I can't believe Matrix told you."
Crow: (Dot) Just like that creep to remember important special occassions and want to celebrate them. What a jerk.
"Come on Dot! It's not like the end of the Net!
Bob: Well, except for that Daemon virus taking over the Guardian collective, the Web slowly overcoming the Net. . . actually, we've got more important things than to worry about your dumb birthday!
I'd never tell anyone your age."
Servo: (Bob) 'Cause they can figure it out just by looking at you.
"And I want it to stay that way! I'm mad enough Matrix told you when my birthday is but he had to tell you how old I am!"
Crow: Dot Matrix is 47 days young!
"It's not like I'm planning to throw you a party."
Mike: (Bob) I just wanted to rub it in your face that you're getting older. Did I mention that yet?
"You'd better not!" she warned.
"Calm down, baby! I won't!"
Servo: So they're agreeing more and more
"And don't call me baby!"
Bob: "Baby"? Why would I call her a baby? She's
old enough to be Enzo's mom!
Mike: No, see, it's a term of endearment and. . . (does a double take) Really? She's that old?
Bob: (nervously) Uh. . . no!
"Dot," Bob complained.
She only gave him a warning glare to drop it.
Crow: KLUNK! (Dot) No, not on my foot!
He gave up and went back to the birthday issue.
Mike: Oh yeah, he was making some real progress there.
"How about a quiet day at Floating Point. Family only. And later on I'll have a surprise for you."
All: No, a surprise.
"The two of us alone," he took her hand. "A very private evening."
Servo: (Bob) Just you, me, and my tapes of Mr. Show.
"Mr. Romantic?" she smiled. "I don't really like surprises."
Bob: Yeah she does! What about that bucket of confetti I put over her door? Or the time I siphoned all her gas? Or all those whoopie cushions I placed strategically around her house?
"You'll have to put up with them. After all we've been through it will be you and me forever.
Crow: Geez, first he reminds her of her age, now he's rubbing salt in that wound?
I promised remember?"
Bob took something from under the table.
Mike: Used chewing gum? But why?
He placed a daisywheel bloom in front of her.
Servo: (Dot) No! A surprise! Kill it kill it kill it!
The beautiful white flower had a center of glowing gold.
Crow: Mmm, a chewy golden center!
There was a note attached to it.
Servo: (singing) Thank you for being a friend. . .
"Bob?" she blinked in shock. "How did you do that?"
Bob: Well, you see, I reached under the table and, now here's the tricky part, I picked up the flower, then set it in front of you.
"Little Enzo pasted it under the table for me.
Mike: Sorry. Half the petals are still stuck to the bottom.
It's a reminder to you not to let your work get in the way of your birthday."
Servo: By all means, don't let the maintenance and well-being of thousands of people get in the way of you having your piece of cake.
Bob noticed Dot stared at the flower oddly.
Crow: Hold on. I think I'm going to need a
stronger parser for this one. (Crow walks off)
Mike: Well. . . okay. . .
"What is it Dot? Don't tell me you stopped liking daisywheels."
All: I stopped liking daisywheels.
"No. It's not that."
Bob: (Dot) It's just you mentioned my birthday again, and I hate you intensely.
"Tell me, what's wrong?"
"I had a bad dream. It's nothing."
Servo: Well then quit whining about it, you big baby!
Mike: No thanks, I just ate.
"No. Something strange. I was in Floating Point Park.
Bob: Wow, that is strange! Dot taking off of work and all.
The sky looked like when the system was about to crash. I was standing in one of the fields
Mike: (whispering) If you build it, they will come.
and I see all these daisywheels," she touched her hand to the flower's petals.
Crow: (sliding back in) I'm back! Seems
Gypsy was keeping a bunch of ZIP interpreters laying around for just such
Servo: Cool! Did you bring me one?
Crow: Yep. Hey, Mike, you wanna install this in Servo over there?
Mike: Oh, sure. (Mike takes off Servo's lid and drops something into his bubble dome.)
"They're growing all over the field but they're wilting and the petals are falling off.
Bob: So the system's crashing and her biggest concern is these flowers?
Then I hear you calling me but I can't see you.
Servo: (Dot) It's almost like you were shot
into the Web or something.
(Bob picks Servo up and hurls him off-screen to the left. Crashing sounds.)
I know you need me but I don't know where you are. I can't find you."
Bob: Umm, Dot, I'm right in front of you.
Bob patted her hand. "It's only a dream."
Mike: (Bob) It's only some terrible foreshadowing of something hideous to come. Get over it.
"I didn't like it Bob. It's like something bad is going to happen."
Crow: Oh. Okay. Thanks. I feel much better now.
Now why don't you read the note: it'll make you feel better."
(Servo hovers back in, coughing, and sits down
two seats to the left of Bob.)
Servo: You freaked-out maniac!
She started to open the note when a rumbling noise followed the darkening of the sky outside.
Bob: (Dot) Right, it's 6:30; time for the
Crow: Weren't they supposed to be having lunch? What ever happened to that?
"WARNING! INCOMING GAME!"
Servo: She should really learn to use her "indoor" System Voice.
"Perfect timing," Dot whined.
"Have lunch without me. I don't know how long I'll be."
Mike: (Bob) I'll just go get my bitmap nullified by this Game here; you enjoy your sandwich.
Little Enzo burst it. "Bob! We've got game sign!"
(All sit in stunned silence.)
Mike: That's probably a coincidence, right?
Crow: I feel a disturbance in the fourth wall. . .
"Be careful," Dot reminded him.
Bob: Boy, it's a good thing you reminded me, I was planning on getting us all killed.
He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and ran out. She sighed. Little Enzo wanted to be a guardian as much as the first one did.
Crow: Oh geez, how many of them are there?
Dot didn't want to discourage it.
Mike: Maybe she'd get lucky and he'd get lost in the Games too.
As long as Bob, Matrix and AndrAIa taught him game playing he'd be fine.
Servo: Teach him? Teach him what?
Bob: You know, like "kill things" and "don't get killed".
She wished she could still go. But as Command.Com she had to be responsible to Mainframe.
Crow: Yep, jackin' up taxes and doing ribbon-cutting ceremonies is hard work.
This meant staying out of games whenever possible and letting Hack and Slash keep up their jobs of protecting her.
Mike: And eating a sensible diet, getting plenty of excercise, not drinking, not smoking. . .
She put on her glasses and opened the note. This is what it read:
Servo: "Welcome to Zork, a game of low cunning. . ."
Remember to stop and smell the daisywheels.
Bob: And remember how to laugh and when to breathe.
Crow: The note said "She smiled"?
Mike: Oh no you don't, we've got copyright laws in this country.
She gave the flower a whiff. "Cecil. Give me my order to go.
Servo: Ooo, restaurants hate it when you do that.
I'm going to the Principle Office."
She placed the love note in a pocket of her armored outfit.
Bob: What, she wore armor to a lunch date? What did she think I was going to do?
Maybe she should buy a new wardrobe upgrade for her birthday.
Crow: She could wrap it up, put it on her kitchen table, and leave a note saying: "Happy Birthday Dot! From Dot."
Something Bob would like to see her in.
All: (offended) Heeeeeey!
If she found the time.
Mike: She wouldn't find the time!
She'd make the time!
Servo: Yeah, squeeze in "buy new outfit to impress boyfriend" between "highway construction" and "apartment rennovation".
After losing Bob to the Web for so long she wanted every nanosecond to spare to be with him.
Bob: Wow, she's obsessed with me!
Crow: That might not be healthy, Bob.
Especially after that dream.
Cecil handed her a take-out box. She told him to have a good day
Mike: (Cecil) Yeah, being mocked by the customers, catering to the whims of a powermonger, yeah, everything's peachy!
and went outside. Hack and Slash met her.
Bob: Uh, yeah, they met a long time ago.
"Come on you two," she said.
"Coming boss," they chimed.
"Don't call me boss.
Crow: (Dot) My official title is "Supreme Overlord".
It makes me sound viral,"
Bob: (Dot) And don't call me Harriet, it makes my legs look big.
she laughed as she activated her zipboard. She tucked her daisywheel bloom in her belt
Servo: For its nap.
and zipped away. Hack and Slash turned on their jet-packs and followed her. She saw the game cube nestled in Floating Point Park
Mike: She makes it sound so cheerful!
and felt that old pang of regret.
Crow: (Speaker) Sorry for panging my regret into you like that.
"Is Phong right when he says we can reboot now if we go in a game?"
"Yes. Even Hexadecimal can now that you have PIDs.
Bob: Brought to you by the Exposition Depot.
Inserting awkward exposition inappropriately into conversations for over
thirty days. (A beat) Years, sorry, thirty
Mike: Well, you're getting better.
But remember the first rules of game playing,
Servo: (deep, menacing voice) Rule one: You lose.
leave the games to Bob and Matrix. Do what they tell you.
Crow: Under no circumstances must you think for yourselves.
It can get scary sometimes."
"Scared? Who's scared of games," Hack said. "I'm not!"
"I'm not scared either," insisted Slash.
Mike: I also am not scared.
Crow: Scared is something which I, also, am not.
Bob: It is not so that I am never not scared by them.
Servo: It is false that your supposition that it isn't true that I'm not scared is not false.
"No game scares me."
"Except for the time we got trapped in that game with Megabyte. You started crying."
Mike: Oh boy, someone got them started. . .
"You have to bring that up!"
"But it's true!"
"Every time you bring that up!"
Bob: So Dot and Phong couldn't have reprogrammed this out of them?
"Megabyte went bananas!"
"And you weren't scared?!"
Servo: Which one's talking?
Crow: Does it matter?
"Calm down you two!" Dot scolded them.
Dot never saw the portal open until it was right on top of them.
(Everyone looks around,
Crow: Did we just lose half a chapter or something? Did the pages get stuck together? What is this?
Bob: Just be glad that Hack and Slash dialogue is over.
Before they could react, they passed through it and it sealed behind them.
Mike: It has a "yellow and blue makes green" seal, so you know your sprites stay fresh and delicious!
Servo: What the. . .?
Mike: I guess Pearl forgot to edit the chapter breaks out.
Bob: Or just plain stupid?
"Uh...Dot?" Hack wondered. "Where are we?"
Crow: (Hack) Are we lost on the Net or something? I wish the title of the chapter was more clear on that point.
Dot looked around. They were in a powered down system similar in size to Mainframe. The streets were almost black.
Servo: If they'd just apply themselves, maybe try a little harder, they'd actually be black.
The only light came from Hack and Slash's jetpacks. She saw no sign of the portal but there was a tear nearby.
Crow: (gasps) A tear? Was someone
Bob: A tear. . . you know, rhymes with bear or chair or dare. . .
It a bit of déjà vu, Dot commented.
Servo: To the voices in her head.
"This is pleasant."
"Actually it's creepy," Slash said.
Mike: (Dot) Oh yeah, that's right. My mistake.
"She knows that. She's exaggerating!" Hack said.
Crow: And this concludes our joke. Thank you.
The ground under them started to shake.
Mike: Either Godzilla or a T-Rex is passing by.
Hack and Slash steadied her. In the distance a block of the system crumbled and collapsed into itself. When the rumbling halted she said. "Someone is crashing this system."
Bob: Nothing gets by Dot Matrix.
"Why?" they asked her.
Servo: Because we like you.
Dot pointed to the pyramid shaped Principle Office nearby. "We'll know once we get there."
Crow: Unless they don't know either.
The Principle Office appeared empty.
Mike: School was out for the
Bob: Principle Office. Not Principal, Principle.
The entrance doors were torn off. There were signs of anti-viral weapons fire.
"It's like a ghost file in here," Dot confessed feeling nervous.
Bob: So fanfic writers think they can throw
any old reference into these stories as long as they call it a
Servo: Yeah, like a Christmas Tree file or a Dodge Caravan file or a Hershey Bar file.
"I wonder where everybody is?"
Crow: Either Arby's is having a roast beef sale or Dayton's is having a warehouse sale.
Slash added. "It's kind of creepy."
Mike: (Dot) Look, I already told you it's pleasant! Now shut up!
"Stop saying it's creepy!"
"But it is creepy."
Servo: Why do those two talk all the
Bob: 'Cause if they stopped talking, their brains would start working.
Crow: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, ladies and gentlemen!
"We know it's creepy!"
"Okay! You know it's creepy!" After a pause Slash added. "It's spooky too."
Mike: When Comic Relief Attacks.
Will you shut up?!" complained Hack. "You'll scare Dot!"
Dot smiled. Obviously Hack was scared.
Servo: And it's funny when others are scared!
A small scraping noise got their attention.
Crow: Because it was scraping them.
"What was that?" Slash asked.
Mike: (whispering) If you build it, they will come. . .
"That was nothing," Hack insisted.
They heard the noise again.
Bob: Yes, but was it creepy?
"'Nothing' got louder," worried Slash.
Crow: "This story's dumb," bored
Servo: "Let's get a sandwich," hungried Servo.
"And 'nothing' has eyes," added Dot.
Glowing yellow eyes pierced out of the darkness. First one set. Then a dozen.
Mike: A case that could restore the theory of spontaneous generation.
A scratching sound of many small legs echoed around them.
"Bugs," Dot asked, "Why did it have to be Bugs?"
Bob: Hey, do you have any better ideas?
Servo: Should we interpret these as chapter titles or just something to establish location, or what?
Games were always fun the second or third or even the dozen time
Mike: If your age exceeds your IQ.
when you knew how to beat the User. For Little Enzo,
Bob: Life was a constant uphill struggle completely devoid of success.
Starfighter was a new experience and a great chance to be tutored by Bob, Matrix and AndrAIa.
Servo: And that's supposed to be a good thing?
The three adult sprites knew the game with their eyes closed
Mike: Yeah, and so does any given CS student.
and each could end the game in a nanosecond.
Crow: Yeah, just let the User win.
But Little Enzo needed the training so he got to play wing commander.
Bob: Yeah, give the little kid with the least experience the most important role in the Game.
"Alpha One? You reading me? Please respond?" Bob called into his headset.
Servo: (Enzo) No, I can't hear you, I'm not listening. . . blah blah blah blah blah blah. . .
"I read you Alpha Two," Little Enzo replied.
"It's time to put the User out of his misery."
Mike: And we haven't done this before because. . . ?
"Alpha Three and Four?" Little Enzo asked. "What's your status?"
Crow: Upper-middle class, sir.
"We've flushed the User
Bob: (Matrix) We gave him a swirly.
out of the asteroid belt," Matrix answered. "We're heading your way."
AndrAIa added. "And stay frosty!"
Servo: Remember to pad your text with catch phrases. Brought to you by the Catch Phrase Council.
"You got it Alpha Four," Little Enzo primed his weapons. "Here he comes, Bob!"
Mike: (Enzo) Walking down the street! He gets the funniest looks from! Everyone he meets!
The User flew between Bob and Little Enzo,
Crow: Uh oh, never get between a sprite and his cub.
his starfighter already heavily damaged.
"Cover me Alpha Two! I'm on him!"
Bob: Said Megabyte.
"Roger!" Bob said.
"Who's Roger?" Little Enzo wanted to know.
Servo: Yes, the obligatory Roger joke.
"I mean I copy that! Roger is a game term. Now delete this User already. I'm starving!"
Mike: You guys eat Users?
Enzo dropped down behind the User and locked onto his engines.
Bob: No, the User's engines, not yours!
Matrix and AndrAIa covered him on either side while Bob guarded his flank.
Crow: So they're doing airplane
Servo: It's kind of understated, but yeah, that's the general sense I'm getting.
Enzo fired. The User tipped his wings avoiding a direct hit.
"Cursors and crashes! I missed!"
Servo: Curse you, Red Baron!
"Be patient Enzo," Bob coached him. "You can do it. Go for the kill!"
Crow: Orson Scott Card's Enzo's Game.
"Smoke ‘em Enzo!" Matrix shouted to him.
Mike: (Matrix) I'm starving!
"Take this, User!" Little Enzo fired again.
The User exploded in a shower of flame.
Bob: The dumb klutz crashed into a mountain while he was watching Enzo's shot sail past him.
Servo: And there was much
The cube pulled out of Floating Point.
Crow: But is it creepy?
The binomes who were in the game with the four sprites cheered.
Servo: And there was much
Mike: No, we just did that one. Gotta pace ourselves.
Servo: Right. Sorry.
"Nice shooting, kid!" Matrix put his hand out to let Little Enzo give him a high five.
"Copy that!" smiled AndrAIa.
Mike: Goodness, that is a loud smile!
"I should have gotten him on the first try," Little Enzo criticized himself.
Bob: (Enzo) I'm not as much of a heartless killing machine as I'd like to be.
"Its not how you play the game Enzo," Bob reminded him, "it's whether you win or lose that matters.
Crow: Hey! You know, I like that! Let's submit
that one to a vote-a-quote when we get out of here.
I think you did great."
Servo: (Enzo) I'm instantly comfortable with my enormous shortcomings!
"I'm spent. I can definitely use a recharge. Let's hit the diner!"
Bob: Said Scuzzy.
A vidwindow opened by the group. Phong, looking a bit worried spoke to Bob and Matrix.
Crow: (Phong) Umm, hi, well. . . geez. . . I kinda locked myself out of the Principle office, could you loan me your keys?
"Bob! I need you and Matrix to come to the Principle Office immediately."
Mike: (Phong) There are some pickle jars in desperate need of opening!
"What's wrong Phong?" the guardian asked.
"It's a private format."
Bob sensed something very serious. Why wasn't Dot speaking to him?
Bob: Umm, because she wasn't the one who called?
Taking advantage of AndrAIa's ability to read body language, Bob gestured with his eyes to her to take Little Enzo away.
Crow: Unfortunately, she misread some signals and executed Matrix with her trident.
She said to the boy sprite. "This looks really serious Enzo. Why don't we go on ahead and get an energy shake? Bob and Matrix will catch up to us later."
Mike: (AndrAIa) Assuming they're in one piece.
"All right," Little Enzo said disappointed. "See you later Bob. Matrix."
They activated their zipboards and flew off towards Baudway.
Bob: And right out of the plot.
After they were far enough away Bob asked Phong, "Where's Dot?"
Servo: (Phong, low voice) If you ever want to see her again, leave five hundred credits in the. . .
"I wish I knew my son."
Crow: (Phong) But we kind of drifted apart after the divorce. Oh well, enough about my life; what were we talking about?
"She's gone?!" Matrix tried not to yell. "How did this happen?"
Mike: (Phong) We suspect Carnival Cruise Lines.
"System readings indicated a portal opened for several nanoseconds.
Bob: Yeah, we get a lot of that this time of year.
Far too quickly for a definite idea of the portal's point of origin to be logged in. All I am certain of is that
Servo: (Phong) They're out of peanuts in the lobby vending machine.
where ever Dot is Hack and Slash are with her."
"We'll be right there Phong," Bob replied.
Crow: After this commercial break!
Bob and Matrix decompressed their zipboards and headed for the Principle Office. The pit of Bob's stomach, once hungry,
Mike: Twice shy.
now felt only nauseous from fear.
Bob: No, that's still hunger.
"Gone," Matrix couldn't believe.
Servo: "Gone," Servo didn't care.
"I'm more concerned with who," Bob said.
Mike: I'm partial to "what" myself.
Crow: Or Non-Daemon?
"She has to come sooner or later Matrix."
Bob: So what, we're just waiting for her to come to us? What is this?
"But if she's taken Dot-"
Servo: And if no one knows who's talking --
Bob changed the subject.
Mike: Chocolate pudding: Discuss.
"We'll know once I check those readings. Even if they're only partial I can calculate which systems correspond.
Crow: But Phong just said --
Servo: A little plot convenience never hurt anyone. At least the story will go quicker.
Mouse will be a plus for this. Why her?
Bob: I don't know; it was your suggestion! Err, my suggestion. . .
Crow: Why ask why?
"Don't worry Bob. We'll have Dot back before pardon."
Mike: Umm. . . Anyone?
Crow: You know, they'll rescue Dot before something can happen where she'd be pardoned from her arrest.
A portal opened in front of them.
Servo: Brought to you by the Plot Convenience Council, moving stories along by brute force for sixty years.
"Heads up Matrix!" Bob warned.
Bob: I'm starving!
They almost halted. But as they looked at each other the intent became clear.
"Let's do it!" Matrix growled.
(Everyone clears their throats loudly)
They went in.
Mike: And now, Olympic Gold-Medalist Jason Rascovishoff on the Parallel Port.
"What happened Bob?"
Crow: Just a rough guess, but I think you just went through a portal.
Bob and Matrix were in the center of a street. Bob looked back at the tear behind them.
"Something stabilized that tear into a portal and brought us here.
Mike: A bologna, an office desk, a soda machine. . . you know, something.
One nanosecond were in Mainframe then the next poof! We're here."
Bob: Uh, yeah, that's kinda how a portal works. . .
"But were is here?"
"This has to be a parallel port system Mainframe is networked to.
Servo: He must have read the chapter title.
Dot will know once we find her."
Crow: Unless she doesn't know either.
Bob stared at the ground. Tracts of small footprints were in the dug up street.
Mike: (Bob) Five hundred horses, about two miles off.
"Those aren't null tracts," said Matrix.
Servo: Null tracts? You mean, like,
their digestive tracts or something?
Bob: I don't want to know anything about null tracts.
"This system shows all signs of being Bugged."
Mike: Like all the Bugs running around.
"Bugs? Aren't Bugs dealt with during first start up?"
Crow: So RoeBoot made up these bug things, and now she's breaking her own rules about how they live?
"Yes but sometimes a system can get overwrote
Bob: If the programmer has drinken too much.
by them if they download in a faulty program much the same way a virus can.
Servo: Coherent thought or random babble? You be the judge.
And these problems might become Mainframe's if we don't cut this link. Let's find Dot."
Mike: (Bob) I'm starving!
"Where do we look first?"
Crow: (Dot) Umm, I'm right here.
"The first place a Command.Com would go.
Servo: The bathroom.
The Principle Office."
They found the front entrance to the Principle Office looking much the same way Dot had.
"Looks like someone had a blow out of a party," noted Matrix.
Crow: This year's senior prank went a little too far. . .
"It was a big fight all right. And the attackers were already inside the building.
Servo: (Bob) And there they are now! AAAUGH!
They were forced to evacuate the Principle Office."
Bob: And there was a woman named Meg here who liked Juicy Fruit gum and owned a kitten named Mittens.
"Some of these blast marks are fresh," Matrix studied them using his cyber eye.
Mike: They're fresh and delicious and delivered to your grocer overnight!
"It had to be Dot.
Crow: (Whoever) She loves blasting things.
She must have gotten some good hits in."
"I don't see any dead Bugs."
Servo: Yeah, and I don't see any olives, what's your point?
"You won't find any," Bob knelt down. "They devour their wounded."
Bob: It saves on medical bills.
"Ouch!" Matrix expressed the thought of the viciousness of the act.
Crow: "Yawn!" Crow expressed the thought of the dullness of the story.
He then asked Bob. "What is it?"
All: (shouting) IT'S IT!
Servo: (strange voice) What is it?
All: (shouting) IT'S IT!
Servo: (strange voice) What is it?
All: (shouting) IT'S IT!
"The remains of a food container from the diner," Bob stood up holding something in his hand.
"Is that a flower petal?"
Mike: Umm, no, it's the remains of a food container from the diner. Weren't you listening?
"A daisywheel bloom. I gave it to Dot before I left to catch the cube with Little Enzo." Bob's face turned sullen.
Bob: I miss little Enzo. . .
Matrix tried to cheer him up. "Come on Bob. You told me she's a Matrix.
Crow: Geez, these people can't figure
anything out without Bob to tell them.
Bob: Why do you think everything went wrong after I left?
She's a survivor. And she has Hack and Slash as back up.
Servo: Oh, so she's doomed.
I'm sure she's okay."
"I'll feel better once we find her." Bob pressed the petal into the cuff of his armband.
"So will I. Let's keep looking."
Mike: (Bob) You mean we're not done yet?
They walked out of the Principle Office and where blinded by a stream of flashlights.
"Halt! Do not move!" someone shouted.
Crow: (deep voice) Prepare to be abductified!
Bob saw the silhouettes of
Bob: Two guys and two robots. Heh heh.
several CPUs all armed with high-powered laser weapons. Bob remarked, "It would be a lot easier to do it if you weren't shining the lights in our eyes!"
(Everyone clears their throats loudly)
One of the CPUs shouted, "They're guardians!"
Servo: (CPU) I'm starving!
Bob and Matrix heard the sound of the gun's being cocked and prepared to fire. They were intent on shooting them.
Mike: Unfortunately, due to unclear pronoun reference, the CPUs shot each other instead.
Bob put his hands up and took a small step towards the troops. "I am Guardian 452 of a system called Mainframe.
Crow: You may remember me from such movies as Bit By Bit and Nullzilla.
I'm not linked to the Guardian Collective!"
The CPUs muttered to each other in surprise.
Bob: (CPU) I thought we were going to see Carrot Top!
A one binome stepped closer saying, "Well. If it isn't the most wanted guardian on the entire Net. I'm Lieutenant Dos, leader of system Quadra.
Servo: (Dos) I'll be your stereotypical hard-nosed army guy for the story.
And we don't like guardians!"
"I don't blame you, but you can trust me and Matrix."
Mike: (Dos) Oh, okay. Thanks.
"Matrix? Any relation to a Dot Matrix?"
"Yes!" Bob and Matrix both answered.
Matrix asked, "Where is my sister?"
Crow: (Dos) How should I know? I just asked if you were related. . .
"We have her at the bunker. She and those robots of hers are lucky to be alive.
Bob: It's a lucky thing that the author stopped writing just when they were about to be attacked.
They almost walked right into the Bugs' breeding ground."
"The infestation is that bad?" Bob looked back at the Principle Office.
Servo: (Dos) Yeah, they come back worse every year.
"Our Command.com got deleted during the first cycle. We tried to fight them.
Mike: (Dos) We tried scrubbing it out. . .
We even called for help.
But the guardians seemed more interested in finding you.
Crow: They just take Hide and Seek too seriously.
They said according to procedure a system of our size wasn't worth saving.
Bob: So they spent it.
We are expendable so they locked the Net ports and left us here to erase!"
Servo: (Dos) But I do go on. Would you like to stay for tea?
"That sounds like viral guardians to me," snorted Matrix in resentment.
Mike: Those viral guardians are so rude!
"You have a Queen infecting the core?" asked Bob.
"Yes," nodded Dos. "She's bred enough insects and crashed enough sectors to wipe almost the entire population.
Crow: Yep, we're pretty proud of the old girl.
Twenty two hundred people reduced to barely over seven hundred by an act of stupidity."
Bob: Which will remain unexplained for the rest of the story.
"Matrix? Can I have a word with you? Private format?"
Servo: So, despite the fact that he's highly suspicious of guardians and these two are total strangers and potential threats, he's just going to let them nip off and have a little chat.
The sprites moved out of earshot of the CPUs.
"What is it Bob?"
Mike: (Bob) Well, I just think it's time I told you what really happened to your sea monkeys. . .
"Guardian procedure again."
Crow: (Bob) Up against the wall with you.
"Don't tell me that if an infestation is this bad the procedure is to let the system crash.
All: If an infestation is this bad, the procedure is to let the system crash.
Binomes and all?"
All: Binomes and all.
Servo: (to Bob) What, so if something's
too bad you just blow it up?
Bob: Hey, you go with what works.
"Who made up these rules?! Daemon?!"
"Matrix! Keep it down!"
Mike: (Bob) Don't tell them we're going to blow them up! Let it be a surprise!
"And I wanted to be a guardian. Mend and defend.
Bob: And blow things up. People always forget that last part.
So do we get Dot and leave?"
Crow: No, we move in and live in the crashing system, whadda you think?
"Just because someone programmed such severe rules to protect the rest of the Net doesn't mean a guardian can find alternatives."
Servo: Matrix is a Guardian who doesn't play by the rules. Catch him this fall on UPN.
Bob walked back to the troops.
Mike: (Bob) Boy, I sure enjoyed our private chat where we didn't plot to kill you all. Heh heh.
"Lieutenant. The Queen is trying to stabilize a portal to access our system probably using stolen data from your erased Command.com.
Crow: He knows this how?
Right now she's getting limited access to Mainframe through a parallel port link up. She must intend to invade our system next because yours is almost dead.
Bob: I'm jumping to a lot of conclusions here. . .
Do you have an evacuation plan?"
Servo: (Dos) Yes. It goes like this: We leave.
"We do now. Dot Matrix instructed us to lock down a tear so she can used the codes to your system and get us out of here.
Mike: Geez, Miss Power Trip just waltzes in and takes everything over. . .
She's overseeing the construction of a portal generator from some slip shot equipment we salvaged.
Crow: From the thing that we conveniently found to salvage stuff from.
Of course she did say someone might come looking for her.
Bob: Ah, her mob ties.
I guess your that somebody."
"Yes. And I can open us a portal without the need of a generator."
Servo: (Bob) Just thought I'd mention that. Not that it's relevant. So, where were we?
"But you don't have a key-tool."
"Trust me. I can do it," Bob head counted the CPUs. "Is this all the CPUs you have left?"
Mike: (Bob) I'm starving!
"There are another two dozen guarding the bunker. We're down to only forty nine."
Crow: Wait. . . I thought he said seven hundred.
"The we don't have much time left. Let's get you your tear."
Bob: Yeah, everyone's shoes are tied together, the core's melting down, Megabyte's destroying everything. . .
Hexadecimal's home in Ghetty Prime had the look of her lair in Lost Angles but without the viral feel.
Servo: It made the cover of Better Lairs and Dungeons.
The parlor had a replica of her old chair. Her mirror hung on the wall. Red velvet drapes accented the mirror's brass.
Mike: Exits are to the west and southeast. You hear a sepulchural voice laughing at you.
The floor was ornate marble. Soft green cushioned chairs, a sofa, a Persian rug, a coffee table with a silver tea set finished off the room's look.
Crow: And now, off to Bob's apartments to describe his quarters in excrutiating detail, followed by a descriptive tour of the Principle Office, the former Silicon Tor, Dot's Diner. . .
AndrAIa paused only a moment to admire it.
Bob: Oh come on! The author went to all that trouble to describe it; the least you could do is appreciate it a little more!
Scuzzy rolled up to her and brushed against her leg and squeaked. She smiled to the creature. Hexadecimal strutted in from the next room.
Servo: (Hexadecimal) Halt! Intruder! Die die die! Oops, sorry, force of habit.
"AndrAIa!" smiled Hex. "Come in! Come in! Have you time for some tea?"
Mike: (Hex) Emi should be over any minute, and we can have a nice chat.
"No, Hexadecimal. Thank you. We have a problem. Bob, Dot and Matrix are missing."
Crow: (Hex) So what's your problem?
Hex sat in her chair. "I felt something was wrong but I couldn't calculate what it was."
Bob: (Hex) My TI-82 is out of batteries.
"We got portal readings."
Servo: (gasp) Portals?
Mike: Yes, portals!
Bob: No, not portals!
Crow: (whispered) Portals. . .
It felt like the hiccups."
"You sensed them?"
Mike: (Hex) No, I had the hiccups. Where did you get that I sensed them out of that?
"I don't have all my old powers anymore. And what I do have doesn't work the same
Crow: She's over the hill.
but I know a thing or two about portals."
Bob: (Hex) You go in one end and poof! You're on the other side.
"I've contacted Mouse and Ray. They're returning to Mainframe.
Servo: From wherever it was that they went.
Will you come to the Principle Office?"
"Of course. We can't have Bob, Dot and Matrix stay missing, can we?"
Crow: Well, why not? C'mon, let's explore this!
Servo: And we're clear!
(Everyone runs screaming from the theater.)
(We're back in the main room of the SOL. Bob takes his place behind the desk.)
Bob: Our first guest tonight is the creator of the infamous virus girl, Emidecimal. Please welcome, umm, Emidecimal.
(As a song from "The Nutcracker" plays, Hexfield irises open. Emidecimal is on screen with a background of static.)
Bob: Greetings, citizen. Identify yourself.
Emi: Hiieee! I'm Emidecimal, Princess of Pandemonium, Duchess of Disorder, Queen of Chaos in training. . .
Bob: Wait, slow down. . .
Emi: . . .writer of Day of the Decimal, Miss Decimal, 4 1/2 Days I'd Rather Forget. . .
Bob: Please, I'm only running at 14.4k!
Emi: . . . and countless other works of torturous fanfiction, half User virus, holder of the Sacred Chalice of Reeks. . .
Bob: Okay, that's fine. Now, about your. . .
Emi: . . . heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed, low-key high school student extraordinaire. . .
Crow: (freaking out) MAKE HER STOP! MAKE HER STOP!
Emi: . . . Angelina Contessa Decimal Francesca Banana-Fanna-Bo-Besca the seventeenth...but you can call me Emi!
(Bob pauses. When he's sure she's done, he continues.)
Bob: Okay. . . Angelina. . . So, you're the keeper of the Holy Rings of Betazed. How's that going for you?
Emi: My name's not Angelina, and what's a Betazed?
Bob: I don't know. You just said. . .
Emi: Ooh! Look! I'm on camera! Hi Mom!
(Bob sighs heavily.)
Mike: Uh, Bob? You wanna pick up the pace? We've only got a couple minutes to do this. . .
Bob: Look, I'm doing it! Don't you think I'm doing it? I'm doing it!
Crow: Hey, Emi! Is it true you're going out with Megabyte?
(Emi looks at Crow in horror.)
Emi: Why you little..!
(She leaps up, extending long, dangerous-looking silver claws. Crow hides behind his keyboard.)
Crow: AAAAAH! Don't hit! Tom started it!
Servo: (surprised) What?
Crow: He said you have pinups of him in your locker at school!
(Emi whirls to face Servo, raising her claws.)
Mike: We're running out of time! Ask her a question, quick!
Bob: Ah. . . duh. . . okay, uh. . . (flips rapidly through notecards) Emi! What works of fanfiction are you doing right now?
Emi: (Claws go in, face lights up.) Ah! So glad you asked! (sits down, crosses her legs) I'm currently working on "4 1/2 Days I'd Rather Forget," a Titanic/ReBoot crossover, and "Day II: The Search for Mainframe!"
Bob: (confused) "Day II?" (suddenly horrified) Oh no! You don't mean a sequel to. . .
Emi: Ya! A sequel to Day of the Decimal!
(Bob and the bots moan audibly. Emi beams.)
Emi: And for quite a while now I've been working on "Escape from the Userworld," the story that contains that vision of Emidecimal and Megabyte from "Day."
Bob: Well, that's. . . umm. . . great. . . I hope that works real well for you.
(Bob looks at Mike and makes a slashing movement across his throat. Mike pulls the lever on his control panel. Emi's signal starts breaking up.)
Bob: Well, looks like we're moving out of range. Any last words for our viewers?
Bob: And we're out of time!
Servo: Well, that could have gone better.
Mike: Boy, I hope Megabyte didn't hear that. . .
(A light by Mike's control thingy blinks.)
Mike: Ah, speak of the devil. . .
(Megabyte comes on hexfield.)
Megabyte: Yes, I know where you are, and I saw what you did! I'll have to remember that Day II. . . but that's for another time. On with "Infestation"!
(Lights and sirens)
Bob: We'll be right back after this MOVIE SIGN!
(Bob flies off)