{The story is not exactly very original

Bob: Uh oh.
Crow: Now THERE'S a bad sign!

(We the writers like the movie Tron too much)

Mike: Hey, I watched that! Well, 5 minutes of it. It was on Fox and I got sick of waiting through the 10 commercials they play every 5 minutes...

but we hope it is a good story nonetheless. Any feedback, praises or critiques are gladly welcomed. E-mail at p9720655@sp.edu.sg (that's Silencer)

Crow: Someone silence this fic.
Mike: Now, give it a chance.

or p9720882@sp.edu.sg (that's The Sentinel).

Tom: Sentinel...good name for a Quake clan!
Bob: You and those evil computer games of yours...

Do give us a chance, though. This is our first time at such a grand thing.

Crow: (To Megabyte) Hey, these guys write the way you talk!
Megabyte: So? What's WRONG with the way I talk?
Crow: Nothing. It's just that you have, you know, an accent. I mean, don't get me wrong, it sounds neat and everything, but it's kinda weird to hear it considering Britain was wiped out with the rest of the planet. Out of curiosity, are you British?
Megabyte: What do you mean British?
Bob: I don't know. They talk about all these weird things...no wait...that movie we watched last week had some guy from there... They're right, you DO sound British.
Megabyte: What in the NET are you talking about?
Bob: Long story. I think Britain was a system in this place called "Earth" before Mike here blew it up.
Mike: (moaning) Oh no, not that again.
Megabyte: (impressed) You blew up a system? I must say, I didn't expect you to be into that sort of thing.
Tom: Never underestimate the power of Mike's bad advice.
Mike: Just SHUT UP!


[P.S. All the Reboot characters used are creations from Mainframe Inc.

Megabyte: REBOOT characters?
Bob: I know. Weird, huh?

All real-life products and their names
used (Virge, Beretta, Sure-Fire, LaserMax, etc) belong to their rightful companies.

Crow: And with names like that, they can have them.

No infringements intended]

Mike: Or LIKELY. I mean, every fic writer usually has a little copyright thing, and that's right and everything, but what paranoid company would sue a penniless person who wrote a little story with their characters in it?
Crow: Disney, Fox...
Tom: True.
Megabyte: I feel rather left out here.
Bob: It happens.

Fidei Defensor

Crow: Well the TITLE is kind of cool.
Tom: Yeah. Better than "Worlds Beyond"

(By Silencer & The Sentinel)



Megabyte: It's MEGAFRAME. Why can't anyone ever get it right?
Bob: They know better.

"What's happening?" Matrix yelled over the increasing rumble as he tries to balance himself against the tremors.

Tom: Someone sent all the "you CAN make $10 000 in a day!" e-mail letters they could find to the User's mailbox! It's gonna blow!!!
Bob: That's not funny.

Moving forward carefully, Bob focuses his eyes in concentration towards the source of the rumbling. There! An apartment storage tower began to slowly crumble

Crow: Right onto Bob, who was too busy squinting to notice.
(Megabyte snickers.)

and disintegrate before his very eyes, completely disappearing before the structure next to it succumbs to the same effects.

Crow: Hey, cool!
Bob: It's NOT FUNNY!
Crow: Oh yes it is. We know nothing of these people so we can gladly make fun of their plight without any pangs of guilt whatsoever.
Megabyte: So can I but that's just because I hate them all.
Mike: Well, there you go then.

Bob already knew what he was seeing and, from his experience, it wasn't a very memorable one.

Bob: A building vaporizing before my eyes isn't memorable?!

He had barely escaped it before and, now, he has to face it again.

Crow: It looked like his premature balding was here to stay.
Bob: CROW!!!
Mike: Hey, that's my line!
Bob: Well you can have one of mine later.

A detached portion of his mind somehow hoped that this is all a hallucination. But,

Megabyte: The narcotics had worn off hours ago so this was no chance that this was just a heroin hangover.
Crow: I'm impressed. You catch on faster than tinsel top here.
Bob: (standing up and screaming) WILL YOU ALL STOP INSULTING MY HAIR?!
Megabyte: MAKE us.
Bob: I WILL-that is I-WOULD if I had Glitch...argh. (sits back down)

unfortunately, it is too real to be one.

"What's happening, Bob?" Matrix asked, more quietly this time.

Mike: Not too bright, is he? I mean, the buildings are crumbling, the ground is shaking, and he just stands around asking questions?

He, too, had seen the structure disappear.

Mike: Either that or his eye was malfunctioning again.
Crow: (as Matrix) Stupid, BLEEPing eye...I should NEVER have upgraded it to 'Targeting-Sight 95'...what do YOU want to shoot today?'

"The system's shutting down. Mainframe's dying.

Megabyte: AUGH! MY CITY!!!
Bob: YOUR city?
Crow: Geez, it's just a FIC! It's not REAL...
Megabyte: (embarrassed) Terribly sorry. That happens sometimes. Can't seem to control it, really.

Guess what? We're all going to be erased with it."

Mike: No!
Bob: Really?
Tom: Get outta here!

It was all Bob could do not to laugh.

Tom: (as Bob) Ha ha! My world is about to end and I'm going to die! Whee, what fun!

Cycles had he spent as a defender, no, Guardian of Mainframe, repeatedly repelling against all of Megabyte's attacks,

Megabyte: It was a fluke!
Bob: (snickering) What, all 3 seasons?
Megabyte: "Gets to win eventually", was in your contract I suppose.
Bob: My contract? Whatever makes you think that? (tries to look innocent, then snickers again.)
Megabyte: That is so unfair.
Ghost of Dr.Forrester: Tell me about it.
Mike: Oh, hey Dr.Forester! You've already met Bob. This is Megabyte, the guy who's helping with the experiment now. The Brain Guy trapped him in the theater. Mr. Byte, this is the founder of the project.
Megabyte: Charmed, I'm sure.
Forester's Ghost: Hi. I'd stay and chat, but we've got another infomercial in Hell coming up soon: "Jojo's psychic alliance-all 103 commercials." (shudders and disappears.)
Mike: He shows up sometimes. Frank too.

now once and for all vanquished from Mainframe, and this has to happen.

Megabyte: I'll be back. My fans won't let me disappear like that.
Bob: What fans?
Crow: Actually Bob, according to this survey, MB here gets one of, if not THE highest popularity ratings.
(Megabyte inspects his fingernails and hums triumphantly)
Bob: Statistics lie! I swear!
Megabyte: Feeling self-delusional today, are we Bob?

A system shutdown. And he couldn't do anything about it.

Crow: Except tell Matrix what he REALLY thought of him. (As Bob) Oh Matrix...I've always loved you...
Bob and Mike: CROW!

"I've been through this before. The only way out is through the Net port but it's already been shut down."

"Then I guess there's nothing we can do now." Matrix sighed as he searched for a suitable spot to sit down on. "Might as well enjoy the view."

Crow: Whoa, whoa, whoa! THIS isn't the angst filled, trying to portray himself as a do-it-my-way, I'm-a-tough-bad-ass-that-you-don't-want-to-mess-with personality of Matrix that we've all come to know and...well, hate.
Mike: Mis-characterization. It could happen to you.

Silently, they both watch the collapsing structures approach them. Both were lost in the same thought:

Mike: Did I leave the iron on?

Game Over.

Crow: Please insert 50 cents.

They were both wrong.

NetDrome Internet Gaming Inc., Server Headquarters

Bob: Gaming?

"Hey! What the.....?!

Crow: (guy) Who stole my copy of "Bill Gate's Secret Diary 95'"?
Tom: In 1995's gripping volume, Gates reveals that he knows where Elvis is, Stonehenge was built way back by early Microsoftian druids and was abandoned because of too many system crashes, and that the Nostradamus predictions were singling him out as the bringer of the apocalypse.
Crow: Which was actually MIKE...
Mike: Can we drop that for now?

Hell, we've got an emergency here!" the on-duty sysop yelled to a group of support technicians trading plans for the upcoming weekend.

Crow: We've run out of nacho's and Jolt cola!
Mike: And we're down to our last liter of Chocolate Fudge ice cream!
Tom: Quick men, evasive maneuvers! The Seven Eleven's still open! To the Sysop-mobile!
(All hum the classical "Batman" theme. Bob and Megabyte look on in bemusement)

"What now?" one the techs, a burly muscular man appropriately named Skinner grumbled back.

Mike: (Skinner) This had better not be about your cat Ralph.
Crow: (Ralph) My cat's breath smells like cat food.

"Oh, man! Not another heat sink failure!" another tech, a thinner one, moaned.

Bob: I WARNED them not to pour that cesium down the sink-but did they listen? Noooooo...

The MP-3 had one of the its numerous heat sinks malfunction two weeks ago, resulting in several melted ROM chips due to a heat buildup that was not properly dissipating.

(Everyone hears a muted sniffle. All turn to Bob who tries to hide it.)
Bob: The circuitry...those poor, poor binomes and sprites...
Megabyte: I think the Supercomputer might have gone a TAD overboard with your programming Bob.
Bob: Well, they DID say that I had abnormally absorbent programmability...gee. I wonder if THAT'S why I got an assignment so quickly.
Megabyte: Yes, they probably wanted to get rid of you.
Bob: Hey!

The MP-3 was notorious for heat buildups, even in heavily air-conditioned environments, if any of its heat sinks malfunctions and this one had forced the techs to spend nearly five continuous hours searching for the problem.

Megabyte: Five HOURS?! That's ridiculous!
Bob: Their time system works a bit differently than ours. It's weird.
Mike: Yeah, if someone says to you "be back in a second", well, don't take it too literally from your point of view.

But the MP-3 is one of the few really affordable and easily maintained mainframe servers around that is actually the fastest.

Megabyte: I say, the way the tense keeps on skipping around is most annoying.
Crow: Yeah, we'd have mentioned it but by now grammar flames are too easy.

"Hang on. I'm checking." the sysop's hands flew towards his keyboards

Crow: (as sysop) AHHH! My hands! They're detaching themselves from my wrists and trying to fly to my keyboard! Oh for the love of God, someone help me! AHHUUUGGGHH!

and began to work on it. On his terminal screen, a light was furiously blinking

Mike: (as sysop) Yes! I got the highest pinball score! Whoo whoo whoo!

on the 'System Status Panel'. However, the panel only indicates the presence of a problem and its location. Not the exact nature of the problem.

Tom: What? Well, geez, why the hell not?
Bob: It's tradition!
Tom: You know, just because something's tradition doesn't mean it's not STUPID.
Bob: Like screaming "we've got movie sign!" every time you go into the theater?
Tom: Uh...good point.

To find that, the sysop

Mike: (to Megabyte) You know, with all these sysop lackeys running around, you'd have thought they'd have spotted you as a virus by now.
Megabyte: Oh please, there are so many ways of getting around viral scans that it's not even funny.

has to run a diagnostic subprogram which shows the current status of the mainframe (whether its on-line or off-line)

All: Off.

, all the jobs being processed

Tom: Lesse...calculate world's mass, de-fragment system...
Crow: Download porno...
Mike: Crow...

and a list of all the technical problems, if any.

Crow: Yes. Bob.
Bob: That's it, I'm not even dignifying that with a response.

Normally, the latter should be empty. However, there was one entry this time.


Fault Location Type

#1 Sector 31 Unknown Malfunction/

Bob: Well, there goes Al's...again.
(Al can be heard off screen.)

System Failure

(Error Code #112)


Tom: Allow me to fill in that line...
Mike: Watch it Servo.
Tom: Holy cra-crow. Holy crow. Yeah. That's it.
Megabyte: Sure.
Crow: Finally someone recognizers my divinity. 'Bout time.

The MP-3's shutting down! We've got a system crash! Everybody get back to your stations! Now!"

Tom: We're having a Quake tournament!

the sysop roared at the techs, who froze for a second before dashing back to their workstations. "Skinner, get the DART team down here.

Mike: (sysop) We've got a picture of Howard Stern to tape to the dartboard!
Megabyte: WHO?

Pronto! Hal! You and Belford! Get the Memory Core Dump/Recovery procedures running! I'm dialing Mr. Williams!"

Tom: (Hal) I can't do that Dave...

the sysop reached for the phone and pushed the direct line button to

Mike: Little Ceasers.

the night-shift supervisor, whose office was above them. As he waited for a response, he turned around and

Crow: Everyone died, the fic finished, the end.
Megabyte: Really?
Crow: Nah. Just wistful thinking.
Megabyte: (a bit crestfallen) Oh.

Stared through a glass panel at a black boxy machine that dominated most of the room next door

Tom: Hey, they have a Playstation!

which has a sign above it which states "MP-3 Mainframe Server". His only thought for the moment was that this was going to be a long night.

Mike: But thanks to years of staying up late on the net looking for decent chatrooms, he was used to it.

Chapter II

Arlington Heights

(A month later......)

Waiting sucks,

Tom: So does a lot of other stuff if you think about it. This fic, that stupid "Fly" song, pizza with olives on it...
Mike: Java script, "Jack Frost", the time Crow found that chainsaw in your room...
Crow: The fact that I only got to use the chainsaw for 5 minutes...
Bob: Durcell batteries that run out JUST when you need them, being stuck without a decent hair curler...
Megabyte: Being constantly forced to repair Hack and Slash, a sister with explosive powers, having no social life whatsoever...
Mike: At least there are still females of your species LEFT...sigh...I miss Earth...

Dexter Rivers

Tom: Rivers. DEXTER Rivers.

thought as he glanced up at the clock above for the nth time, only to see the minute hand with ticking ever so slowly to reach the 40th minute of 11 o'clock.

Megabyte: Why not just say eleven forty?
Crow: Sure beats the BLEEPing BLEEP out of me.
(Megabyte looks puzzled, since the BLEEP Crow used is very obscure to someone who's lived in a computer all their lives. Bob, having lived there for a while and picking up some things very fast, winces.)

God, the next time I have to wait like this, I'll build me a time machine,

Tom: And then, I'll discover a cure for cancer!

he fired off a parting shot

Megabyte: And killed the innocent bystander next to him. Heh heh.

before concentrating back on his PC.

Mike: (Dexter) Okay...only 5 minutes till this new issue of "PC Gamer" finishes downloading! It's the Laura Croft swimsuit edition! Ooohh...
Tom: Ladies and gentlemen, the Tomb Raider reference. Thank you.

Rivers was a high-school student majoring in two fields,

Tom: Paper airplane design and Doom!
Mike: Chess and line budding.
Bob: Sucking up and drug pushing.
Megabyte: Skipping and police evasion.
Crow: Porno hunting and butt pinching.
All: CROW!

computers & gaming, thought not necessarily in that order. His height was barely average for a person 21 years of age.

Megabyte: So is he above or below average?

His rather average body build makes him look like as if he was an easy target to pick on. However, it was through this impression that Rivers was able to hide his numerous hidden skills.

Tom: He had an Uzi.

His rather quiet and polite demeanor hides his skill in the martial arts Goju-Kai Karate, a skill he learned for a time

Megabyte: Oh, he knows martial arts, my how CONVENIENT.

before deciding that green belt was good enough for him. His inability to talk shop with the rest of the gaming community in his school disguises the basic fact that he is simply among the best Net gamers out there.

Crow: I'm beginning to see what you mean about the tense...

A devoted programmer, his knowledge extends way back from the basic assembly language to as far as C programming, which he is slowly learning the ropes.

(Bob and Megabyte look at each other and both go "BASIC?" then snicker.)
Bob: Wow-how OLD is this guy?

But Rivers' biggest love and forte lies in the fine art of computer gaming,

Bob: He's a-gamer?

with Net gaming being his chief specialty. Known simply as Verge on the Net,

Bob: What?

trophies and other awards, won on numerous Net gaming competitions decorated the shelf in his room in which he says serves as a monument or shrine to him.

Bob: WHAT?!

Whether it is a fast-paced multiplayer racing game, action-packed, frag-fest action games or strategic thought-required strategy games, The Verge has already been acknowledged as 'simply the best'.

Bob: Augh! That man is EVIL! EVIL!!! NULLIFIER!!!
(Everyone is leaning away from Bob)

And now, Rivers patiently waits to begin his new conquest, the NetDrome gaming service.

Bob: Oh yeah, you would do that, WOULDN'T you, you scumbag!
Megabyte: Bob...it's a STORY.
Bob: I know, but while you're watching it, it seems so REAL.

Boasting of a new server that exceeds that processing capabilities-it is capable of handling over 30 players on the same game without any processing penalty-

Mike: Except the 2 million-dollar price tag.

and transmission speeds of other service providers, NetDrome was set to become the top contender for the best Internet gaming service provider.

(Crow, being a regular Quake player, is drooling a bit at this.)
Crow: Wow...(to Megabyte) and you OWN this place?
Megabyte: (nonchalantly) Yes.
Bob: No.

Then, about a month ago, NetDrome Inc. sent out an e-mail to all of its registered members, including Rivers, stating that its has to delay its opening due to an 'unforeseeable technical malfunction'

Megabyte: Called Hexadecimal...

to its main mainframe server.

Then, Rivers receives another e-mail from NetDrome Inc. stating that

Megabyte: A virus named Megabyte had taken it over, everything was hopeless, and all should just bow down to him.
Bob: You wish!
Megabyte: (a bit insulted) I can dream, can't I?

they will be reopening tonight at midnight and it will be a free service for a whole week as a 'fair compensation' for its earlier delay. Excellent, Rivers had thought.

Crow: (As Wayne from Wayne's world) Zang!
Megabyte: Zang?
Mike: That's Cantonese for "excellent."
Megabyte: Oh. (looks confused.) What was the point of that?
Crow: Uhh...it's a bit complicated to explain right now unless you want to sit through another movie.
Megabyte: (hastily) No no, it's fine thank you.

Christmas in June.

Tom: Fall in Summer!
Crow: Realism in Hollywood.
Mike: Good movies from the mads.
Megabyte: Sanity in Hexadecimal.
Bob: Goofiness from Dot.

It nicely coincides with his mid-term break.

(Megabyte shudders again at the annoying tense problems.)

Now, the wait was driving him insane. He glanced up

Crow: And snapped, deciding to kill all his friends.

and saw the clock face finally displaying 11:59.

Crow: Damn.

Alright, then, he muttered as he began the log-on procedures.

Megabyte: Let me get this right-this fellow is trying to log on at the EXACT moment the free time is allowed so he can get the maximum amount of playing time?
Mike: Yes.
Megabyte: That's rather sad.

Downtown Mainframe

Megabyte: MEGAframe.

"Carefully! To the right a bit. No! The right! Your right! Yes!

Crow: Yes...oh YES!
Mike: Crow!

Now, slowly, let it down. Watch your head! Yes!

Crow: Oh YEE-
(Mike clamps a hand over Crow. Megabyte is staring at him. Mike blushes, embarrassed and mutters "He's not this bad usually...really." and releases Crow's beak.)

Good work, everyone."

Mike: Not a WORD, Crow!
Crow: *I* didn't say anything!

Dot backed up several steps

Bob: You were talking about DOT?! (glares at Crow, then considers what was just said and tries to surreptitiously re-read those lines.)

as she inspects the final article that completes the restoration & refurbishment of her personal pride & joy-

Tom: Mmmmmm...lasertag...

Dot's Diner.

Mike: Awww.
Crow: Still the Lasertag fan, eh Mike?
Mike: As always.
Megabyte: Lasertag?
Mike: A game that was destroyed with the rest Earth. Truly a lost art.

After all, being the new Command. Com doesn't mean she has to give up her favorite task-managing her establishment. It merely

Megabyte: Will drive her completely random.

increases the workload.

Megabyte: Well, that too.

Command.Com. Never in her entire life cycle would she ever expect to finally become Mainframe's mayor.

Bob: Even though everyone else had figured it out by the 3rd season.

Maybe it's her natural ability to lead. After learning about Megabyte's demise, she

Crow: Cried for days, realizing that he was the only one she ever REALLY loved and-
Megabyte and Bob: CROW!!!

had been so relieved that her only thought at that moment was that she could finally run her business in peace.

Megabyte: (semi-hurt) Oh *thanks*.

Then came the system crash. The prospect of facing deletion and wasn't able to stop it or escape from had, for the first time, truly frightened her.

Tom: Okaaaayyy...lets just re-read that...
(They do.)
Bob: Nope. Still confusing.

Suddenly, something undefined happened. Some sort of energy portal opened up and pulled nearly all of the inhabitants of
Mainframe through it.

Mike: I thought it was undefined?

After that, everything became a blank...

Mike: (Bill Gates) When I woke up, I learned that I had just bought out Apple. DAMN that felt good!

Then, about two hours ago, they were suddenly reanimated back into Mainframe

Bob: Is that two hours User or Mainframe time?
Mike: It's the same thing if you think about it.
Bob: Huh?

albeit a partially demolished one. There was no sign of Phong, who was somehow left behind.

Mike: Wha-how could they leave behind their command .com?

No sign of Hexadecimal or Lost Angles for that matter.

Megabyte: Ey-yes!!!
(Everyone stares)
Megabyte: She's my sister.
Bots: (in understanding) Oh.
Mike: Sibling rivalry can get so ugly.
Megabyte: I know, you have no idea how many times we tried to kill each other.
Mike: Huh?! You tried to-kill each other?!
Bob: Uh, that's normal behavior for viruses. If a virus broke something of his or her brother's, their brother wouldn't go crying to mom, he'd try to push you into a pitiful of nulls.
Megabyte: Precisely. Hex tried to do that once.
Bob: What EXACTLY are you two fighting over?
Megabyte: She won't return my Offspring CD.
Bob: (in disbelief) That's- it? That's what all those battles have been about?!
Megabyte: I really LIKE that CD you know.

In all, a totally deserted Mainframe.

Crow: Except for a bunch of ravenous web-creatures that came and snapped everyone's spines and sucked out their eyeballs.
Megabyte: You know, that's an oddly appealing image...

With Phong assumed erased and no one else to take charge of them, the remaining binomes began to look up to her for guidance.

Megabyte: Considering their size they'd look up to her ANYWAY.

Dot, being the natural task manager and realizing the importance of rebuilding Mainframe to their survival,

Tom: Well DUH they need somewhere to LIVE.

took up the responsibility. Now, with over 80% of Mainframe restored and the rest proceeding slowly, she never regretted the decision.

Crow: Except on those lonely, dark nights where she sobbed over her lost dream of becoming a strip-tease dan-
Mike: CROW!!! Oh God that was so embarrassing.
Megabyte: (puzzled) What kind of dancer?
All: Nothing!

A loud report to her left distracted her.

Mike: Why would someone shout out a report?

As she turns her head, she could easily see the flashes of light reflecting on some the high structures. That must be Bob clearing out all the energy tears that initially filled Mainframe with Enzo...

Mike: Oh God, a whole system filled with Enzo?
(They all shudder)

no, Matrix, she corrected herself.

All: AUGH!
Tom: ACK! Even WORSE!
Megabyte: I believe I'm going to be ill...
Mike: Well, it could be worse, could be Mouse.
(They all pause and scream)

Dot gave a theatrical sigh as she thought about how much she missed her old Enzo.

Megabyte: Who would miss HIM?
Crow: Good question.
Bob: Hey, he's not a bad kid-sort of.
(Bob rubs the spot in his chest where Enzo repeatedly landed on him and winces.)

But, like they say, c'est la vie.

All: What?

That's the way life is.

All: Oh.

Besides, its better to have Enzo back, no matter how different, than to lose him forever.

Crow: Well, MAIM would argue that.
Mike: You realize only 12 people are going to get that? Or at least until MAIM goes public.
Crow: Bite me.
(Note: MAIM= Matrix/Mouse is An Idiotic Moron)

With that issue settled, Dot concentrated back on her work.

Tom: (as Dot) Now, lesse...what was the password again? Gumball...goofy...gardener...
Bob: Guardian!
Tom: Whatever.

Sector 16 (formerly Lost Angles), Mainframe

Megabyte: It was never sector 16...they're just making this up as they go along!
Crow: Wow-you've guessed the secret of all fanfiction!
Mike: Welcome to the world of the damned.
(Megabyte blinks)

"Alright, listen up. This is the last one; though I think it's also the biggest one.

Mike: (looking over at Megabyte) Hey, are you aware that your eyes glow in the dark? Neat...
Crow: So do Bob's. I know 'cause one night I crept into his room and tried to put ants into his mattress but I made a noise and he opened up his eyes and-and-...I think I'll shut up now.
(Bob's eyes bug out. Megabyte looks a bit puzzled.)
Megabyte: How in the Net did you get ants all they way up here?
Crow: Trade secret.

Make it quick and smooth, and we'll grab a cold one at Dot's after this.

Bob: Hey, Dot's doesn't serve alcohol.

On the house. Okay?" Matrix rallied out to the crew of binomes helping Bob and him in neutralizing the energy tears.

Mike: (sarcastically) Ah yes, there's nothing like free booze to lift the moral of a crew.

Immediately, loud cheers and other similar exclamations greeted his words.

Mike: Oh-I guess it really does.
Crow: Yeah Mike, why don't YOU offer us booze?
Mike: Bite me Crow.

They deserved to be happy. 190 tears neutralized and what kind of tears.

Tom: How about you tell us?

The temporary system crash had caused numerous short-circuits, resulting in the energy tears that were more powerful and dangerous than they had ever encountered.

Mike: Geez, in fics everything is bigger than real life.
Crow: Yeah, like Matrix's ego.
Mike: That's big enough, thanks.

Fortunately, Bob came up with a working solution to the problem,

Bob: Don't I always?
Megabyte: No.

though it was an arduous one, indeed.

Tom: Ardu what?
Megabyte: Difficult.
Bob: I knew that.
Megabyte: For the love of the User Bob, do shut up.
Crow: Please.
(Bob sulks)

Simply, each tear is to be surrounded with several semi-conductor boards,

Tom: Whatever THOSE are.

trapping the tear in a giant box, before letting Bob in to finish the job with Glitch.

Crow: But WHICH job? (breathy Bob voice) Oh-oh GLITCH!
All: CROW!!!

As it easy as it sounds, that was the hardest part,

Crow: Since the radiation from the Web had left Bob with little hormones and-
Bob: Oh that is IT-
(Bob leaps at Crow, and they wrestle on the ground. Mike tries to pull them apart, but gives up.)
Tom: Aww, let them fight, the morons.
Megabyte: Agreed.

as these tears tend to ricochet around in the box when trapped.

Bob: Pervert!
Crow: Tinsel-haired moron!

Furthermore, when Bob is neutralizing the tears with his Glitch, it's guaranteed to result in neutrons exploding out from the spherical tears.

Bob: (looking up from his chokehold on Crow) That wasn't the best of crafted scientific explanations.

A slight carelessness, a misstep or a loose corner and disaster will strike.

Megabyte: Let it strike. Oh please let it strike.

But, so far, they've been on the job without any major incidents.

(Megabyte sighs.)

This should be the last one and, hopefully, no accidents will result from this one, too.

Megabyte: (sarcastically) Oh yes, hopefully.
Tom: You can just tell that something weird is going to happen, can't you?
(Bob and Crow continue to fight)
Bob: Howard Stern wanna-be!
Crow: Dork!

"Alright, then. Let's move!" The entire crew immediately moved broke rank and began to deploy into their practiced and proper formation-

Megabyte: Until a gamecube landed and nullified them all.

four binomes carrying each board and surrounding the tear from each of the four corners. Matrix, in a battered ABC,

Megabyte: Hey! He stole one of my ABC's-AGAIN.

carried the fifth board by cable to cover the box from the top. Cautiously, they advanced forward.

Then, something happened.

Mike: It'd be nice to know what...

The sky suddenly turned darker and burst with static activity.

Mike: Thanks!

Everyone, including Matrix, looked up to see what the disturbance was.

Tom: Why WOULDN'T he have looked up?
Bob: Get off me, you gold plated wacko!
Crow: (who's sitting on Bob's head and pounding on it) Up yours, blue boy!
Megabyte: (bristling) And what's WRONG with being blue?
Crow: Uh, well, nothing, I ah-heh...I meant...LIGHT blue. Yeah. Light blue. Ick.

For a picosecond, one question filled all their thoughts.

Mike: Where's the beef?

Another picosecond later, it was answered.
"Warning." The familiar and soothing female voice sang out. "Game entering."

Megabyte: That's "Incoming game", not "game entering." I do wish they'd get the little details right.

Immediately, a game cube burst through the file lock and began to slowly descend towards them.

Megabyte: Yes! Lose the game! Die! Dieeeee...(stops up after he's aware of all the looks) Yes?
Tom: Let me get this straight...you were cheering for them to die...
Bob: (looking up) He's evil, what do you expect?
Megabyte: Now that was really unfair Bob. I mean, have I ever tried to massacre the entire population of a system?
Bob: Well, no.
Megabyte: Have I ever dipped you in a pit of acid?
Bob: No.
Megabyte: Have I ever done anything really, *irredeemably* evil?
Bob: You sent me HERE.
Megabyte: Oh. Good point, but that was just out of normal hate, not out of a perverse desire to cause suffering.
Bob: Whatever. It still landed me HERE though-ouch!
Megabyte: Okay. I'm evil then. As the gold one would say, bite me.
Crow: First blood drawn!
Mike: Okay that's ENOUGH you two!
(Picks Crow off Bob. They mumble but settle down and sit in their seats.)

Matrix continued to stare at the cube.

Tom: (Matrix) "Wow. It's purple."

It's been, what?, he tried to recall. Two, three hours since he last remembered entering a game. A vid-window suddenly opened beside him. It was a Bob.

Megabyte: *A* Bob? What, is he some sort of species?
Tom: And so we see the wild Bob in his natural habitat...

"Matrix, any inhabitants in these sector?" Bob asked curtly before Matrix could say anything first. He sounded very urgent.

Mike: You would too if you were trapped in a box and had REALLY had to go...

"No. The resettlement is to begin only after we clear out all the tears." "Good." Bob sounded relieved.

Crow: And just think of what THAT means. (snicker)

"Alright. We're going to backspace out of here. Let the User nullify this sector.

Tom: (Bob) Yes. Let it die! See if I care.
Bob: I would never do that!
Tom: Will you stop taking this so *seriously*? Yeesh.

Neither of us is in any shape to challenge him anyway. I know I'm not."

Megabyte: Were you EVER?
Bob: That's it-I call no more me-bashing for a while. Please?
Mike: Sure.
Tom: I guess.
Megabyte and Crow: Notice that *I* didn't say anything.
Bob: D'oh!

"Roger, that. I'm out of here." Matrix closed the vid-window down and turned his ABC around. Bob and the rest will backspace in another APC.

Bob: Time to make fun of the misspelled acronym!
Crow: Armored Primate Carrier.
Tom: Armored Pissed-off Cadets.
Megabyte: Annoying Peon Carrier.

Matrix drove on for another nanosecond before shoving on the brakes. Basic!, he muttered.

Mike: Yes you are!

Turning his ABC around, he looked for the item of interest and, seeing it still there, opened a vid-window to Bob.

"Bob! The tear! The cube's heading for it!" In the pandemonium to backspace out, the tear somehow slipped out of their minds.

Mike: Okay, HOW? I mean, it's a pretty big thing...

Matrix looked at the tear again and realized it was too late to do anything. The cube had already swallowed it up.

Arlington Heights

Tom: The scene of a tragic massacre as 50 thousand were killed in a freak maple syrup accident.

"Alllrighteee, then!" Rivers exclaimed to himself, paraphrasing Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura II,

Mike: Oh God no...

when he saw the words 'LOADING' on his screen. Logging on, he found out to his dismay that there was no one else logged-on.

Megabyte: Well of course not, you're the first person THERE you fool.

Naturally patient, Rivers decided to play
a solo game while waiting for someone else to show up.

Suddenly, something went wrong.

Mike: Horribly wrong.
Bob: His computer blew up and he was burned to a crisp.

The loading screen became garbled and turned white.

Tom: (Rivers) Oh my God, it's GONNA BLOOOOWWWWW!!!
Crow: Hey Bob, you're psychic!

He looked at his K56 modem and saw that all the indicators had lighted up. Immediately, everything around him went bright white. So bright he gasped out from the pain in his eyes and used his arm to shield them.

Crow: He's having a near death experience!

Then, everything went blank.

Crow: (Film noir voice) The next thing he knew, he was in an alley with an empty bottle in his pocket, a train ticket to Vienna in his hand, and a hangover the size of a barn.

Sector 16, Mainframe

"Warning! General Protection Error. Game aborted." the voice sang out again as the cube began to ascend back up.

Megabyte: That's game *corruption*!

"Huh? What's going on?" Matrix wondered aloud as shove his ABC forward towards the affected sector.

Megabyte: A question he frequently asks himself.

What lay before him surprised him.

Mike: Doesn't everything?
Tom: Okay guys, enough Matrix bashing for now. It's getting old.

The entire sector was totally untouched, instead of being nullified when the User wins. It was all normal and restored, except for a form lying in the area where the tear used to be.

Tom: AHHH! It's Diablo! Run! RUUUUUUUN!
(Everyone stares)
Tom: It's a joke only some will get.
Mike: Haven't we had *enough* of those already?
Tom: Hey, is it me or does Diablo look a LOT like that Zaytan user?
Crow: It's you.
Bob: No, he's right.
Crow: Who asked YOU?
Mike: Guys-not AGAIN, okay?

Landing down carefully, he got immediately and proceeded briskly towards the form.

Megabyte: Got what?
Crow: Bent?
Mike: I'm too tired to say it...
Bob: Allow me-CROW!

It was a...sprite!

All: (monotone) Wow.

Matrix immediately opened a vid-window and dialed to the CGI Dispatch Office.

"Dispatch, this is Matrix.

Tom: (Bond voice) Enzo Matrix.
Bob: It's been done. Waaaay too many times.

Send a recovery unit down here. We have a damaged sprite, probably critical. Tell Medlab what to expect."

Mike: Dear God, this is starting to sound like an episode of "ER".

he said immediately to the O binome on the vid-window.

"Yes, sir." the dispatch binome acknowledged.

Crow: (teenage voice) You want fries with that?

"Sir, we've picked up reports of that indicated a game landed down just now. Is it true, sir?".

Megabyte: Even *I* didn't make my binomes suck up to me THAT much...
Bob: Yeah that's three sirs in three sentences. Annoying.

"Yeah. But something went wrong.

Mike: Windows 95.

I'll give details later. Just get that unit down here A.S.A.P."

Crow: Which stands for-As Soon As I Pe-
Megabyte: CROW!!!
Crow: (Who visibly cringes since Megabyte's voice is louder and more intimidating than Mike's) Gyahh...I'll be good.
Megabyte: *That* was rather fun!

he closed the window and turned to face the unconscious sprite. It was a male sprite, probably a game sprite like AndrAIa but sucked out of the game by the tear. His age was tough to guess. But he looked roughly the same age as Matrix himself. Strange, though. His hands showed damage but they were bleeding red energy, not blue.

Mike: Oh for-that's BLOOD, not energy. They never get it right.
Megabyte: (curious) You bleed red?
Mike: Yes.
Megabyte: How fascinating.
(Mike is aware that MB probably isn't about to check and see right there, but nevertheless shuffles over a bit.)

He was also weirdly dressed, nothing classifiable or remotely identifiable.

Mike: Well, except for the "Quake rocks" T-shirt he was wearing.

But he decided to put that aside for the moment as he heard Bob's APC

Bob: ABC. That's ABC for User's sake!

and the recovery unit arrive at the same time.

He would never know for that moment that this strange sprite would affect their lives and change Mainframe forever.

Megabyte: (dryly) And he would never guess how little we care.
Mike: Well, this bit is finished. Let's go!
(They all file out.)

@.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6..

(In the Satellite of Love, they're waiting for the Mads to call. Mike, who is apparently feeling propreital today and acting as the ship's spokesperson is talking to Megabyte.)

Mike: Well, I've got to say Mr.Byte, you're actually pretty decent compared to some of the guest Mads we've had. I mean, maybe you make us bow down to you more than usual but other than that you're okay.

Megabyte: (Inspecting his nails) Why thank you Michael. And you're quite a charming and unusually reasonable victim. Unlike Bob here.

(Bob is sulking in a corner. He sniffles and moves his chair closer to the wall.)

Mike: Well, you have to learn to live with these things, I always say.

Megabyte: Indeed. Do your friends also share this view?

Mike: Tom seems okay with it. And Crow-

(Crow runs by with a hammer screaming "Viva La Revolution! Oh hi Mike! Guardian boy! Megabyte!" He zooms off.)

Mike: Well, Crow's happy.

Bob: *I'm* not.

Megabyte: We're well aware of that Bob.

Crow: (running by again) Yeah Bob, ask us if we care!

(Tom hovers in and stops)

Tom: Oh, uh-YOU'RE still here.

Megabyte: (Who mildly dislikes Tom for some reason. He vaguely senses that Servo has an ego almost as big as his) Yes I am Mr. Servo. I'm sorry, do you have a PROBLEM with that?

Tom: (nervously) Aha! No! No no! Really! Delighted to have you here! Uh gee, I just remembered that I have to go and sort my issues of PC Gamer...bye! (Zooms off.)

(The Mads light flashes. Megabyte looks relieved and punches it.)

Brain Guy: Well hello Mr. Byte. So sorry about the mix-up. Really.

Megabyte: (snapping) Never mind that, just get me out of here before the fic starts again!

Brain Guy: (Sighing) Ah, very well-

(He's just about to pop MB back over when a blast of turbulence rocks Pearl's van. The Observer falls to the ground. A large book falls off the shelf. We hear an "OW!" from below. The Observer crawls back up with a huge bump on his head.)

Brain Guy: (weakly) Heh heh...we appear to have hit some turbulence...oh dear, I can't feel my head anymore...good night.

(He slumps to the ground, unconscious. Bobo comes up.)

Megabyte: ACK! He isn't DEAD, is he?! I'll NEVER get out of here, I swear...

Bobo: Well, THAT knocked him right out. Nyope, he ain't dead. Just unconscious. Looks like you're stuck there for a while.

Megabyte: WHAT?! Oh get Pearl!

Bobo: She took too much Tylenol. Fast asleep. Besides, she can't get you out of there yet. Sorry. I have some good news-we repaired the electric system! Wait-that means you HAVE to go in.

Megabyte: Oh no.

(On the Hexfield, Pearl shoves away Bobo, tossing a bottle of Tylenol into the garbage.)

Pearl: I must be getting immune to those things-whew. Oh hey, what are you doing over THERE?

Megabyte: I'll explain later. *Please* just wake up the Observer.

Pearl: Okay. This'll get him. Works every time.

(She picks him up and WHAMS him across the face with a book.)

Brain Guy: H-huh? Wha?

Pearl: Stop blabbering and snap over MB.

Brain Guy: (dazed) Oh, right. (Does so.)

Pearl: By the way Nelson and friends, we're still waiting for the rest of the fic, so that'll have to be a later episode. I'm going to lie down again. Bobo, refill my ice bucket! Ciao...

(She and Bobo leave. Megabyte turns to the Observer and says in a falsely innocent voice: )

Megabyte: Oh Observerrrrr...

Brain Guy: (testily) Yes?

(MB unsheathes his claws and starts to hum.)

Brain Guy: Uh oh-

(Megabyte snarls and leaps at the Observer and we hear the Brain Guy's shrieks of pain. Switching to a view of Mike, Bob and the Bots inside the SOL, Mike, Tom and Bob look faintly nauseous. Crow is cheering.)


Bob: Ewww...

Mike: Gee, I've always felt a bit bitter against that Brain guy but...owch. You gotta feel sorry for him.

(They pause)

All: Almost.

(They all laugh cheerfully. We hear the Observer scream "OW! OWOWOWOWOW...")

Credits Roll...