Mike: "Are you a User?" -- what kind of stupid question is that?
Bob: (defensively) Well, it kinda makes sense. . .

Part 4

They were completely surrounded--

Servo: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, and here I am stuck in the middle with

a spray of photon bullets erupted around every turn.

Mike: Photon bullets: now in our new spray-on can.

Hack: "Hey, it's dangerous around here!"

Slash: "Yeah, it's sure dangerous."

Bob: If this is going to turn into a Michael Jackson video. . .

They winked at one another,

Servo: You know, I've always kind of wondered about those two. . .

then replaced their hands

Mike: It's got to be really hard putting your hands back on when you don't have any hands.
Crow: That's why I never take mine off in the first place.

with gatling guns and engaged the rockets.

Bob: Geez, they hardly know each other!

Whipping up and down the streets and alleys, they blasted holes in the sides of buildings and laid waste to entire bytes of the old city. And still the bullets flew.

Servo: Gee, you know, maybe they should leave the buildings alone and concentrate on the guys who are shooting at them?

They looked at one another with a hint of concern, reloaded their guns and took for the skies again.

Bob: Not nessecarily in that order.

Turning down a side street, they approached a large, darkened intersection where there was no activity.

Crow: (Talking Heads) And you may find yourself. . . in a large, darkened intersection. . .

They hovered in the center of the intersection, slowly rotating together,

Servo: And now, Mainframe's Olympic synchronized hovering team!

back-to-back, weapons raised, their beady eyes searching the shadows

Mike: Who knows what boredom lurks in the hearts of man?
Crow: Anyone who reads this story.

for signs of game sprites.

Suddenly they were virtually blinded

Mike: Oh, I forgot, we're in a computer. It's all "virtual this" and "cyber-that".

by a shower of photon bullets,

Servo: (singing) Though photon showers. . . may come your way. . . they bring the flowers. . . that bloom in May. . .

and before they could react, a shot took off one of slash's arms. The two of them watched as it spun high through the air and crashed through a building window nearby. They looked at one another in shock and promptly rocketed off.

Crow: Uh oh. Mrs. Anderson's going to be mad. . .


"I wish I had better news, Number One," Phong said in a low voice over the com.

Bob: (Number One) What? I can't hear you!

"But all of my old text-based tools were written in a more... constructive era.

Mike: Way back in the glorious days of punchcard programs.

They include editors, compilers, version trackers, sidekicks--

Mike the TV: All yours for 9999.99!
(Everyone looks around)
Mike: Uh. . . did you guys. . . ?
Bob: I'm scared.
Crow: Hold me.

all from the days when hacking was considered an honorable profession.

Servo: Back when deleting someone's bank account was a fun activity for the whole family!

There was little call, then, for some of the more... aggressive utilities that I am sure Megabyte has at his disposal."

Mike: Yeah, like PKUNZIP.EXE and EDIT.COM

"I understand, sir," came Number One's professional reply. He made sure no one else around him could hear what Phong was saying.

Servo: No sense letting the whole world know what a crazy old coot their leader was.

There was a stretch of uneasy silence.

Crow: Actually, a little silence would be pretty welcome right about now. . .

"But do not relinquish all hope," Phong finally stated,

Servo: This is still Season One, so everything'll be all wrapped up at the end.

even though Number One did not appear avertly worried. He raised a finger:

Bob: Censored by BS'n'P.
Crow: What's BS'n'P?
Bob: Shh. When you're older.

"Where some will arrive at their home page taking the direct data pack, like Megabyte, others may reach the same destination after running seven times around the seven heaps of Rome."

Crow: The monkey's flying backwards, and the cuckoo albatross is eating kidney beans in the


Bob: (Number One) "Have you been hitting the bottle again?"

"Ah, forgive me, Number One. It was a very old readme file, and I suspect that some of the bits may have become corrupted over the hours.

Servo: Much like your brain.

Remain at the ready unless you hear otherwise from me."

"Certainly, sir." Phone closed the com channel,

Mike: Right on his fingers.

then began wheeling above the room in a distracted manner,

Crow: Wheeling above the room?
Bob: It's so sad, watching his poor old mind go. . .

mumbling, "Now, where would I have left those old assemblers...?"

Servo: Check your stomach. Did you check your stomach?


Slash was bawling, and Hack was doing his best to comfort him--

Crow: (monotone) There there.

which was not very effective.

Servo: Just start hitting him again.

He darted nervously over to the broken window and peered down at the street. "Coast looks clear, now."

Slash tried to control himself.

Bob: But, alas, that required a brain of some kind.

"Wa-wa- <sniff> you go find it!

Servo: Go find what?

I'm staying right here!" He waved his one arm around, and thus being unbalanced, teetered precariously to one side. "I can't go out like this! Waah!"

Mike: All the kids will make fun of me!

Hack turned to him. "Want to have mine while I go look for yours?"

Servo: What do you mean "go look for it"? I thought they watched it as it went flying into the building!
Bob: Yeah, but you gotta remember: this is Hack and Slash we're talking about.
Servo: Yeah, good point.

Slash suddenly stopped crying.

Mike: And started moaning.

For all of the hours they had worked together, he's never been offered Hack's arm before.

Crow: Ow! I think I twisted my ankle in that change of verb tense.

"Gee, that's...

Servo: Really weird. . .

that's really nice..."

"Yeah, I thought so."

Mike: But I wanted to get a second opinion.

"O.K., sure."

"Here ya go." Hack removed his arm with a twist and a snap, and presented it to slash, who promptly started bawling again.

Servo: I swear, every time we go out to dinner. . .

"Now what?" Hack demanded.

Mike: (whining) It's not my color!

"Wa-Wa- <sniff> Nobody has ever done something that nice for me before! <sniff> Waah!!"

Bob: And I have severe personality disorders and I can't accept nice things happening to me!

Hack started getting impatient. "Look, if you don't shut up, I won't give it to you!" He pushed the arm away.


Mike: Ah, but enough of the comic relief.
Bob: That was comic?
Crow: That was a relief?


"A user?" the voice chirped.

Servo: (Tweety) I tought I taw a User!

A hand appeared in the image beside the face,

Crow: Ah, thank you, Thing.

startling Bob slightly with the sudden movement. It was a very curious-looking hand,

Bob: Curiouser and curiouser!
Servo: If you value your immortal soul, you won't bring that up again.

with lines and creases, and blunted, uneven, distorted little ovals on the ends where bits of frayed material clung to the edges.

Mike: He just described every sweater my Grandma ever made me.

The hand reached up to the side of the head, and the fingers disappeared part way into the messy clumps of strands sprouting there. Then the hand and fingers curled slightly and began moving rhythmically up and down--and a few flakes of fine white powder flitted out from the dark strands that tangled around the fingers.

Servo: So, in English, he scratched his head.
Crow: Jeez, Tolkien wasn't this detailed.

All of this accompanied a sort of frown that scrunched up most of the face's features. "You mean, like a programmer?"

Mike: No, more like a 13-year-old geek boy who spends most of his time looking for pictures of Lucy Lawless on the Web.
Servo: So. . . like a programmer, then.

Bob and Dot glanced at one another. "I suppose, maybe."

Crow: Hold on, I'll have to ask my manager.

Bob fumbled for words. "Users... come from outside the net, and input games into systems...

Bob: . . . for pleasure. No one knows for sure, but I intend. . .
Mike: Bob! Snap out of it! We aren't doing the titles to ReBoot.
Bob: (startled) Oh. Uh, sorry.

or, so they say."

An unpleasant chuckle rattled their heads.

Crow: When did Krankor get here?

"Well, I can tell you, I've played plenty of games.

Servo: I don't have much of a social life.

Even wrote some myself--some of the best, I might add humbly--

Mike: How can you boast humbly?
Crow: Probably the same way you sigh with tense relief.
Servo: Or look hopefully worried.
Bob: This whole story's one big oxymoron!

until they got swiped by the MCP at some bigshot corporation.

Servo: Some new company called "Microsoft". Must've sprung up overnight.

Haven't been able to break into their supercomputer and get them back yet, but that's a whole other story."

Crow: Oh no, this story's bad enough! There's another one?
Mike: Easy, buddy. . .

"Is that your game out there,"

Servo: Or are you just glad to see us?

Bob said, gesturing above their heads, "the one we broke out of to get in here?"

"Could be.

Mike: Well, no.

It's part of a heuristic emulator that creates an environment for the interface that the system will accept.

Servo: Oh, I see, so it's a. . . huh?
Bob: Oh, he's just making up words now!

I really don't know what that looks like, and I really don't care."

Crow: What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?
Servo: I don't know, and I don't care.

The face's glinting eyes grew wide with incredulity. "This is too much!--I'm talking with stray data stuck in the interface of a system analysis probe!

Mike: I oughta lay off the Jolt, man!

I was just poking around, you see? And I just can't believe what's happening.

Bob: My dog ran away, some vandals slashed my tires, and now this!

I should be looking at the raw system structure of an old, obsolete archive server--

Servo: Instead of wasting my precious life with real friends.

BIOS, OS, that kind of stuff. I never expected to find anything that would talk back to me."

Crow: I demand obediance from my data!

Dot instinctively looked back at the image of Mainframe.

Servo: Sprites have a natural instinct to watch TV when they're bored.

She tried to imagine her home as an "old, obsolete server."

Mike: Then she imagined it as a giant cheese nugget.

Yes, it was old, and maybe parts of it were obsolete, but the idea of all those sprites as servers... it sounded like some gruesome form of slavery.

Bob: Hey, it kind of does, doesn't it?

Were the users really--

Crow: --so lifeless that they'd spend 12 hours a day staring at a computer monitor?

The face suddenly blurted, "What's that thing?"

Mike: That's Dot's blood spot.

It pointed past her, at the image of Mainframe.

"That's where we live," Bob answered. "Mainframe."

Bob: My format: Guardian. To mend and --
Crow: Stop it.

"An old mainframe." Its eyes gleamed. "Then that's what I'm after.

Servo: Yeah, these Users are only after one thing. . .

I wrote this interface to hack into old systems just like that one. There's millions of them out there, and I like to check as many as I can for potential goodies.

Mike: I also like to explain myself to little people that I find in my computer.

If there's nothing there I want... then I just might reformat it, and leave a little something of my own behind for their owners to discover."

Servo: Oh, isn't that sweet? He left us some brownies.

Bob and Dot weren't exactly sure what it meant--

Bob: But it had a good beat and was easy to dance to.

the syntax just wasn't quite right--but they still didn't like the sound of it. Bob's mind processed incessantly, and then, finally,

Crow: Exploded.

an idea formed. He turned squarely toward the face, hands on hips. "I don't know if you should do that."

Servo: (snorting laugh) Brilliant idea, Bob.
Mike: (Bob) Please don't reformat my system! I'll be your best friend!

"Why not? I've never met a system with security I couldn't get past.

Mike: Or a man I didn't like.

This old thing can't have any serious safeguards." Bob gestured at the image of Mainframe with his thumb. "That system is infected by a virus. A deadly one at that.

Bob: Yeah, it's got cooties and stuff.

And it's completely independent of any security in the system. Whatever you do here, it will infect you. Guaranteed."

Crow: Or your next one's free!

"Actually, there's two viruses," Dot added.

Bob glanced at her with a knowing look.

Servo: (Bob) I knew that.

"That's right. If one doesn't get you, the other will."

"Viruses, huh?" It scratched at a dimpled chin.

Mike: Which was floating nearby.

"Had a few of those, too.

Bob: They taste like chicken.

Caught a nasty one last week--had to take some antibiotics to kill it."

Servo: Antibiotics don't kill viruses. . .

He noticed the blank stares. "That was a computer joke--heh, heh."

Crow: (unhumorously) Ha ha ha ha.
Mike: I cannot stress this enough. Please leave the comedy to the professionals.

"There is no joke about these viruses.

Crow: Come on! Stop laughing!

Mainframe may be old, but it doesn't matter how old a system's hardware is--the data it contains can still be the newest thing anywhere on the net."

Servo: You know, that almost smacks of a moral. . .

The face seemed unperturbed. "I like a challenge."

Mike: (heavy geek accent) I beat Warcraft II in one sitting.

Then it looked down, and they heard a series of clattery tapping noises.

"What are you going to do?" Bob asked.

Bob: (Face) I'm writing myself out of this stupid story. . .

"You'll see," the face answered, not looking up. A grin--actually closer to a sneer--tugged at the corners of its horrid little mouth, and the bits on the back of Dot's neck stood up. The expression reminded her of Megabyte in a disturbing way.

Crow: In that she was incredibly turned on.

A low rumble then rose up from the depths of the cavernous space, and Bob instinctively crouched down and put his arms around Dot.

Servo: Sprites also have an instinct to make out when they're in mortal danger.

At first it wasn't clear what was happening

Mike: It still isn't clear, if you ask me. . .

beyond an unsettling noise, but then they noticed--the image of the face was moving towards them.

Servo: If the User comes through his monitor and enters Mainframe, please turn me off.

They glanced around nervously and saw that the image of Mainframe was also moving toward them. Slowly... slowly... at a barely noticeable rate...

Mike: And yet, much more quickly than this story. . .

the walls were creeping closer together--with Bob and Dot smack in between them.

The face grinned menacingly.

"What are you doing?" Bob demanded, keeping his fear in check.

Crow: Making a sprite sandwich! Ah ha ha!

"I'm closing the communications gap, my friends. Better get out while you can, 'cause this junction will be closed any second now!"

Bob whipped his head around to Dot, his face lighting up a little with hope.

Bob: Worried hope.

"Seconds? It'll take forever!"

Servo: (Bob, whining) I wanna be crushed now!

Dot swallowed. "I don't think we're on the same time scale as him.

Mike: How does she know that?

I'd say we have less than a microsecond before we're crushed." A vicious little laugh rang out and echoed through the narrowing space, and Bob and Dot clung to one another.

Bob: Okay, who's laughing?

Part 5

"This is bad. This is really bad."

Servo: It took him a whole chapter break to figure it out.

"Bob, what are you going to do?" Dot pleaded.

Mike: Probably get horribly crushed to death. You?

He looked deeply troubled.

Servo: In other words, completely normal.

"I'm not sure. We can't jump, and I don't think Glitch's line is long enough to reach the top--" he searched the blackness overhead, adding, "--if there is a top in this place."

Mike: Sky's the limit.

"Why can't you jump? Just open a chute and get away!"

Bob: Good idea. Bye!
Crow: (Dot) No, I mean take me with you!

Bob looked down at Dot in mild shock.

Mike: Jumbo shrimp
Crow: Pretty ugly
Bob: Damned good
Servo: Honest politician

"Because you'd never survive the landing!"

"Don't worry about me--save yourself! You've got to find a way out of here and break this junction before it closes!"

Crow: And they stole this scene from Titanic!
Mike: I really think you're reading way too much into this.

Bob's gaze bore into Dot's eyes.

Mike: (Dot) Ow! Cut it out!

Her stubborn conviction shone through,

Servo: Stubborn conviction. . . wait a minute! Those words go together!
Bob: The end is near!
Crow: (sighing) Not near enough.
Mike: Well said.

and he was as much angry with her for it as he was in--

Servo: Vietnam.

A great rumbling underscored a guttural chuckle of satisfaction.

Crow: (Face) Hee hee. Look at those little pixel people squirm.
Mike: I've got it! He's Bill Gates!
(Horrified screams from others)

The image planes seemed to be closing in on them at an accelerating rate. No time to analyze personal feelings.

Bob: Your hour's up. Do you want to schedule some time next week?

Time to act.

Mike: It's about time they started acting!

"Glitch! Defense shield!" A large, translucent bubble formed around the two of them as they clung to one another.

Crow: Forgot to add the Bounce sheets again.

The instant the image planes touched it, the bubble burst, accompanied by a creepy cackle from the horrid face bearing down on them.

Servo: (Face) Taste my geeky steel, data people!


Mike: I wet 'em!

Double polar force packs!" A pair of rectangular permag units formed over their heads, flew in opposite directions and slammed into the image planes.

Crow: Such vivid imagery.

As the powerful magnetic fields forced the units to separate from one another,

Bob: At gunpoint.

they began to glow and hum. The noise rose nearly to a shriek as they grew white hot--with no effect. Finally they imploded, sending circular waves of brilliant light rippling outward across the surfaces of the image planes, diminishing to nothingness.

Bob: So now Glitch has imploded?

Gripped with fear,

Mike: And passion.

Bob and Dot drew closer still as the planes threatened to crush the bits out of them.

Servo: Any way you slice it, it's death!


"This is certainly a historic event...

Mike: The first Hansen is cloned.
Crow: Oh, that's very nice. . . AAAAAUGH!

a tale to be retold for as long as Mainframe exists in its current format,"

Servo: (pleading) Please! I don't think I can make it through once!

Megabyte mused, placing his fingertips together in subtle mockery of Phong's habit, adding, "which will be a strictly limited number of cycles, if I have anything to do with it."

Bob: (Megabyte) Because I'm evil, you know.
Crow: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. . .

"Megabyte. The cycles may be limited for all of us in Mainframe."

Servo: Repent, sinner! The Reckoning will soon be upon us!

Phong cautiously rolled a little closer to the ominous figure looming over him,

Mike: (Phong, nervously) I mean, if that's okay with you, Mr. Virus guy, sir.

adjusted his spectacles, and bowed very slightly. "I have humbly come before you to seek your assistance."

Servo: Whoa boy.
Mike: So Phong went all alone, unarmed, and totally vulnerable into the headquarters of his
mortal enemy, who wishes him dead and outweighs him by about three tons, and asks him for help.
Bob: Well, we couldn't afford to put him in a home, so. . .

"Most interesting." Megabyte sighed, leaning back and studying his fingernails contemptuously.

Crow: (Megabyte) Stupid fingernails!

"Well, my wobbly little friend, I fear you have presented the olive branch file a bit too late.

Mike: Olive branch file? Now that's gratuitous!

Long before you were even aware of the game cube's potential, my intelligence

Servo: There we go with the oxymorons again.
Crow: What, "my intelligence"? Why's that an oxymoron?
Servo: He's talking about Hack and Slash.

indicated that there was a veritable treasure trove of useful code inside. As we speak, I am in the process of obtaining a complete backup of that code.

Bob: And I'm bending spoons with my mind! And calculating pi to the billionth decimal place!

Once I have that in my possession, I will finally have the means to claim control of Mainframe."

Mike: What, with a copy of Doom? Everybody has that!

He punctuated the statement with a fist on his console.

Crow: 'Cause he was all out of periods.

"May I ask," Phong asked tentatively, "how you became aware of the cube's nature?"

Bob: The personals.

After a moment to ponder, Megabyte gestured a little theatrically and mumbled, "Ah, well, I suppose it would change nothing if I showed you."

Servo: (Megabyte) Might as well reveal my entire plan before you escape.

He casually tapped a control at his side.

Phong swallowed, struggling to contain his dismay as he watched the recording of Dot's plea for help.

Mike: His reaction was the same as ours.

When the message ended, Megabyte handed him the cylinder, then remarked with a chuckle as he slowly turned away, "A little souvenir for an old 'friend.'

Crow: (Megabyte) I put "friend" in quotation marks because I'm being ironic.

And now, if you will excuse me, I have some business to which I must attend that I do not care to discuss."

Bob: Yeah, he's got to go read the paper on the can.

"We are aware that Hack and Slash have broken into the game cube..."

Bob: Who said that??

Megabyte jolted in his seat imperceptibly, then he smiled faintly. It was a curious smile--

Servo: (ominously) Not a word, Bob.

one of mild surprise at the confirmation of his idiot minions' apparent success.

"As to the usefulness of code there," Phong continued, finger raised ,

Mike: Hey! Back at you!

"we have our doubts. We have detected a unique anomaly within this particular cube.

Crow: It's crunchy and filled with cheese.

While our data is inconclusive, I have reason to believe that a dangerous junction is forming that could threaten the data of all integrity in this system.

Mike: The data. . . of integrity. . .
Servo: Someone's mind is going, and I really hope it's his.

This junction would provide the user access to

Crow: My diary.

sector zero-zero-one, the very core of our existence. I believe, as incredible as it sounds, that this may be one occasion when only a virus such as yourself can protect us."

Servo: (coach) So get out there, maggot!


"You have at your disposal, I believe, a number of tools that may prove useful in our efforts to halt the game.

Mike: Just run it slower! The User will get so bored that he'll leave on his own!

The best that we could hope to manage with our own resources is to assemble a firewall around it, the efficacy of which is in some doubt.

Bob: So before we did something safe and plausible, I thought I'd risk my life and ask you.

If we do not take immediate action against the game,

Crow: I'm gonna hold my breath and pass out!

I fear that we are all at risk." Phong carefully arranged his words, which required some effort to express.

Servo: Yeah, when you get to that age. . .

He said, very slowly,

Bob: So that Megabyte would understand. . .

"I appeal to you not as much for our sake,

Mike: But for my sake.

but for the preservation of that which you desire to infect."

Analyzing Phong with razor-thin eyes, Megabyte processed for a while.

Crow: (Megabyte) Hmm, should I eat him raw or grilled?

Then, placing the analysis of the situation in a wait state, he swung around in his chair and punched a control.

Mike: I think that's the closest we're going to get to a fight scene in this one.
Servo: Thank God.

"Hack. Slash. Report."

Bob: Who's Report? Is that a new guy?

A Vid Window popped open, and a close-up image of a one-armed Slash, crying his eyes out filled the frame, his wails echoing eerily throughout the cavernous Tor.

Crow: Whoops, he punched up the home videos of Slash's third birthday on accident.

Eyebrows suddenly arching high, Megabyte quickly closed the Vid Window and, with just a hint of embarrassment, swung slowly back to face Phong,

Servo: (Megabyte) Sorry you had to see that there.

who observed quietly with fingertips placed together. Megabyte took a long, deep breath;

Crow: (Megabyte, nervous) Nothing, nothing. . .

his voice was quite low, nearly a whisper, a thick layer of sarcasm disguising his unease. "What is it you propose, oh great one?"

Bob: One word -- Plastics!



Slash could not hear Hack for he was still crying.

"Slash!" Hack finally rapped Slash on the head. "Yo, Slash!"

Mike: Wake up! It was all a dream!
Servo: We should be so lucky.


"Here's your arm back." Slash's face instantly lit up

Crow: (Slash) AAAAUGH! My face is burning!

as he grabbed his arm, forced it back into its socket, and began a long string of thank you's. Hack briefly got caught up in a long string of you're welcome's, then shook his head to snap out of it.

Meanwhile, Slash had progressed to a series of kissy-sounds.

Crow: (sobbing) This is more than I ever wanted to know about Hack and Slash's personal lives.

Hack called, "Slash! Shlash! Shlash!--

Servo: (Scotty) The spell-checker cannot take it anymore, Captain!

o-ooh, just try saying that three times fast--"

Bob: "That three times fast".

"Slash, Slash, Slash," Slash answered proudly, "So, there!"

Crow: (Slash) Ha! In your face!

"Say, you're good." Hack shook his head again to clear his thoughts.

Servo: Oh, his mind's an Etch-a-Sketch.
Bob: That actually explains a lot. . .

"Slash, there's something really weird about this game."

"Well, I think all games are weird. So what?"

Mike: (Hack) Nothing. I just feel better talking about it. If you could just hold me. . .

"But this one is really, really weird. It's starting to get quiet out there.

Crow: On the western front.

And you won't believe what I saw while I was out looking for your arm..."

Servo: (Hack) Bob and Dot were necking!


"Glitch! ANYTHING!"

Crow: What the -- how's a turkey baster going to help?
Bob: (Bob) Uh, Glitch, maybe I should have been more specific. . .

A crowbar took shape before their frightened and startled eyes,

Mike: (Dot) Oh no, a crowbar! RUN!

and with a sharp inhale, they held their breath. Although it creaked a little, the crowbar held fast between the two image planes, bringing their progress to sa screeching halt.

Servo: (deep sigh) Okay, so two highly-charged magnetic power packs couldn't hold the planes apart, but a crowbar brings their progress to a halt.
Bob: I thought Glitch imploded after that last transformation. . .

After a nanosecond, they heaved

Bob: Ewwww!
Crow: I said not to do that anymore!
Bob: Oh. Sorry.

a controlled, tenuous sigh of relief, looked at one another, then as if waking from a nightmare, looked around them.

Mike: (Dot) Oh, what a nightmare, I dreamt we were in a horrible fanfic that wasn't going anywhere. . . and. . . wait a minute!

The quiet was unnerving.

Servo: (Bob) Gee, I sure wish something would explode or something. . .

They could no longer discern the giant face--they stared instead at a small cluster of flickering pixels over Dot's shoulder.

Crow: Yeah, let's stare at the pixels some more, I don't feel like planning an escape or anything.

Then they heard a huff of frustration and a sudden clattering of clicks.

"Now, what?" Dot was almost afraid to ask.

Bob thought.

Mike: (Bob) You know, now that the two of us are alone. . .

He looked overhead, then at the straining crowbar, then at Dot.

Crow: Then at his hand, then at the pixels, then at Dot's blood spot.

"Can you stand on your own?"

Bob: I'm getting really sick of carrying you.

She nodded, and he slowly released his grip on her waist. "I think I have an idea."

Crow: (starts making sleazy porn music)

He wedged his hands against the two image planes and forced himself up. Spreading his knees, he held himself aloft over Dot's head for a moment. Dot watched him with hopeful eyes,

Mike: (Dot) He's leaving! Hooray!

then, as he back down, her face clouded over.

Mike: (Dot) Darn. I was this close. . .

"I'll never make it," she murmured.

"I know,

Servo: I was planning on leaving you for dead. Why, did you want to survive or something?

but if I can reach the top, I might be able to something up there to lower down and pull you up."

"That's a long way up," she said, reluctantly raising her eyes.

Crow: It ain't gettin' any shorter.

The crowbar emitted a faint creak, and she studied it fearfully.

Bob: Yeah, Dot was always interested in the study of blunt objects.

"And I don't think Glitch can hold out that long."

"It's our only chance, I'm running out of ideas--"

Mike: (Bob) I've tried nothing, and I'm all out of ideas!

Dot suddenly grew faint, her eyes rolling into the back of her hear.

Servo: Geez, don't you hate it when they do that?

Bob threw one hand around her waist to hold her up, and cradled the back of her head with his other hand.

"I think... I'm running out of... time..."

Crow: (Dot) The mall closes. . . any minute. . .
Servo: This is new. . .

Her voice was becoming sightly distorted, as if some of the data was dropping out of the stream.

"You're going to be all right,"

Bob: Now stop dying, right now, this instant!

Bob said firmly, his throat tightening as he glanced at the growing stain of her lost bits on his uniform. "I'm not going to leave you!"

Crow: Forever and always, 'till death do us. . . oops. . .

She struggled to raise her head and look at him with half-open eyes. "Bob..."

Mike: (Dot) Are you still here?


"I've been... meaning to tell you... something..."

Bob: (Dot) I want my organizer back!


Servo: Geez, this is like a bad soap opera!


All: (singing) I, I, I'm not your stepping stone!

A whoosh overhead cut through the mumbling and clattering of the giant face. Bob jerked his head back and exclaimed, "What are you two doing here?"

Servo: Oh, we were just leaving. C'mon guys.

(Everyone leaves)

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

(Back in the main area of the SOL. Cambot pans over to the Hexfield Viewscreen, where Servo, Bob, and Crow are standing. A bunch of wires are all over the place and Crow is hunched over a keyboard.)

Servo: Com port 1. . . open.

Crow: Okay, Magic Voice, let 'er rip!

Magic Voice: Engaging program sequence.

(Mike comes in)

Mike: Hi guys, whatcha up to?

Crow: Oh, hi Mike! We were just trying to get Bob back to Mainframe.

Mike: Oh, that's nice of you.

Servo: Nice nothing. The sooner blue guy's gone, the better.

Mike: Ah. So what are you doing here?

Crow: Oh, we got the idea from today's experiment. We simply reroute Magic Voice's processors through the Hexfield, send a signal through the ethernet, set up a heuristic emulator, and bingo! Bob's on his merry way home.

Mike: Simple as that, huh?

Bob: Yep, I'm all packed. Of course, I didn't really bring anything with me to the satellite, so. . .

Magic Voice: Com link open. Image coming up on Hexfield Viewscreen.

(Hexfield irises open. We see Dot in her season 3 outfit firing a gun at off-camera Game sprites.)

Bob: (excited) It worked! Dot! Hey Dot!

Dot: (looking at the SOL crew) The hell?

Bob: Dot, it's me, Bob!

Dot: (looks shocked, then suddenly becomes uncomfortable.) Oh, uh, Bob! Hi. It's, uh, nice to see you.

Crow: Oh wow! You don't have that mono-breast thing going on anymore.

Servo: Crow!

Dot: Oh, yeah. . . see, we're not on ABC anymore, so we don't have to put up with all that stuff.

Mike: Well, I guess you're pretty anxious to get Bob back, so we won't detain you any more.

Dot: Umm, yeah, right, Bob. . . well, you see, the thing about Bob is. . .

(Ray Tracer steps into the shot)

Ray: What've you got 'ere, Dot?

Bob: Hey! Who's that guy?

Dot: This is Ray Tracer. We met him in season 3. (to Ray) Ray, this is, umm, Bob.

Ray: But I thought Bob was. . .

Dot: Shhh!

Bob: Hey, wait a minute! How could you do a season 3 without me? I'm the main character!

Dot: Well, actually, the focus shifted more toward Enzo. He calls himself Matrix now; it's really confusing, I'd have to explain. . .

Bob: You two aren't. . . you know. . .

Dot: Who, me and Ray? No, he's been paired with Mouse.

Bob: (relieved) That's good. So, umm, you haven't found someone else while I was away, have you?

Dot: Well, actually. . .

(A second Bob, in his amazing Bob-Glitch suit, comes on the Hexfield screen)

Mike, Crow, Servo, and Bob: AAAAUGH!

Crow: They're multiplying!

Bob 2: Hey, Dot. What's processing?

Bob: That's. . . but. . . how. . .?

Dot: That's what I've been trying to explain. You see, we needed you back on the show, but since you were stuck on the Satellite of Love, we got someone else to do you.

Bob: (incredulous) What!

Servo: Listen, the linkway's becoming very unstable. If you want to get back to Mainframe, you gotta go now!

Bob: . . . No. Forget it. Just forget I even exist. (walks off in a huff)

(Hexfield Viewscreen closes)

Servo: Rats.

Crow: What a bunch of lame-os. Giving a well-known character a new voice just because the guy who plays him isn't on the show anymore. You'll never see us doing anything like that!

(Mike and the bots share a good laugh)

Servo: (aside to Mike) Think we should tell him?

Mike: (aside to Servo) Let's wait until he's older.

(Alarms go off)


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