(Bob, Mike, and Servo all come in and take their seats. Bob's still wearing that goofy chef's hat.)

Bob: Does Mike know about those stories of yours?
Mike: What stories?
Servo: (nervously) Why, whatever do you mean, Bob? There aren't any stories that Mike has to know about, especially the ones that I didn't show you that don't exist (starts nudging Bob to be quiet).
Bob: Umm, okay. . .

Chapter Four

Mike: Wait a minute, we're missing someone.

(Mike gets up and leaves, comes back with Crow.)

Crow: (wailing) NOOOOOOO! Come on, Nelson, give a guy a break!
Mike: No. Now come on. The only way we're getting through this one is if we work together.

"This Won't Hurt A Bit"

Crow: (yelling) Yeah, well it already hurts!
Mike: (patting Crow's shoulder) That's good. Now just calm down.

Emidecimal was looking at a VidWindow of the city. Night had fallen over Mainframe,

Servo: (Film Noire) A city with a thousand files and a million run-time errors. . .

and virtual stars from the User's screen saver twinkled in the sky.

Mike: The User's got a Sparc workstation, and all he knows how to do is watch the screensaver.

She looked at the Sector G Prime sky, always that dingy gray,

Servo: (Emidecimal) I wonder when they're going to have that repainted. . .

with never any stars. Glancing back at the rest of the sky,

Bob: (singing) Some. . . where. . . out. . . there. . . beneath the pale moon-light. . .

she chose a star, closed her eyes, and made a wish.

Servo: (Emidecimal) I wish for Silly Putty.

Emi closed the VidWindow and it disappeared.

Bob: She turned off the sky?

She stayed in her kneeling position for a while,

Crow: While Megabyte frisked her.
Mike: Feeling better honey?
Crow: Oh yeah. Much.

looking up at the ceiling, pondering.

Mike: (The Brain) Are you pondering what I'm pondering?
Servo: (Pinky) I think so, Mike, but I don't think the armadillo would co-operate.

She wondered where closed VidWindows went. She wondered where sprites and viruses went when they died.

Servo: She wondered where her tax dollars were going.
Crow: She wondered what foul heroine trip inspired Cow and Chicken.
Mike: She wondered if God could make a rock so big that He couldn't lift it.
Bob: She wondered why the Cartoon Network hadn't leaped at the opportunity to show ReBoot.

She hoped Hex wasn't there now. Megabyte had assured her trillions of times Hex would be all right,

Servo: There's hyperbole, and then there's just plain silliness.

but she couldn't help the sneaking thought of...no.

Crow: The cake was for the party tomorrow, and she knew it.

Emi concentrated on the ceiling, trying to see something else besides

Crow: Light, fluffy yellow cake with ribbons of fudge

cold steel and unfeeling grayness.

Bob: If she doesn't want to look at cold steel and unfeeling grayness, why is she looking at the cold, unfeeling, gray steel ceiling?

She ached all over, her stomach aching from hunger,

Crow: Give in! Eat the cake now!

her heart aching from sadness,

Mike: Her wrists aching from all this typing. . .

all of her aching to leave the dismal Tor, an environment of insensitivity. She had the ability to leave, of course, she could walk right out and never come back if so she wished.

Servo: (ranting) So why doesn't she! Quit your whining!

But she remained.

(Servo starts sobbing into Mike's shoulder. Mike pats him on the back.)

She could not leave Hex alone in the Tor in her condition.

Bob: How could she rest with Hex alive and getting better?

With an empty sigh Emi lay down on the floor beside the energy tank. "Good night, Hex," she whispered to the face-down figure suspended in the energy by eerie mechanical arms.

Mike: (underwater voice) Gooood-niiiight Emiiiii. . .

With that she curled up and soon fell into a deep sleep.

(Everyone makes loud, and very rude, snoring sounds.)

Suddenly a shadow fell across the sleeping body of the girl, who did not even stir.

Servo: Not even a mouse.

Had she been awake, she would have screamed at the sight of the shadow's owner.

Bob: Bill Gates?

Megabyte motioned for his viral binomes to enter. They did so quietly, almost a little too quietly.

Servo: (whispering) Not so quiet! You'll wake her up!

The fluorescent lights in the infirmary had long since been turned off,

Crow: Yeah, and Megabyte's such a tightwad, he'd rather have his cronies operate in the dark than pitch in a few cents to work the lights.

throwing it into utter darkness kept at bay only by the bright glow of the lights in the healing tank.

Mike: (Megabyte) Watch out for the girl, don't trip on the girl, you might. . .
(Servo makes a tripping sound, everyone else starts yelling and making breaking noises)

For the rest of the room, that light was dim but enough to see by.

"Well, what do we do now?" a binome asked.

Mike: (The Brain) The same thing we do--
Servo: Mike, you did that one already.
Mike: Oh yeah.

Megabyte looked down at the sleeping form of Emidecimal.

Crow: Oh no. Don't go there.

He knelt beside her and carefully gathered her into his arms.

Servo: Oh the horror. . .
Bob: (scolding) Shame on you, Megabyte, have you no sense of decency?

He was shocked when he did so, for Emi, not having eaten or drinken in days,

(All stare in disbelief)
Servo: Yeah, and she hadn't playen or sleepen or swimen or watchen TV either.

had lost a few pounds

Mike: (Emi) Finally, I'm a size 1!

and was as pale as a drained sprite.

Servo: The drained sprite was as pale as a. . . umm. . . drained sprite.

She slept peacefully, unaware of her surroundings,

Crow: Well, yeah, I mean, she was asleep. . .

the first long sleep she'd had in days.

Bob: That's a pretty long period of insomnia!

She was so worried about Hex her only sleep had been short, sporadic naps.

Crow: I don't think that point has been made clear enough yet. Tell us fifteen more times, and then we'll believe you.

Megabyte picked Emi up and got to his feet. "The girl is out of our way now.

Mike: Emidecimal was the only thing keeping Megabyte from taking over Mainframe?

Remove Hexadecimal from the energy."

Crow: Cut her off. She's driving tonight.

A binome pressed the button that would raise the energy cage. It was gradually lifted out of the energy tank.

Mike: What, the button?
Bob: I think it was the binome.

Hex was inside.

Servo: (livid) You don't say! I thought maybe it was David Copperfield!

She had changed drastically,

Crow: Hey, she had turned into David Copperfield!

looking now like a cross between her normal form

Mike: And a waffle.

and how she had looked after the electrocution. Her body was still badly mangled,

Bob: But she had a nice personality.

but no longer had its charred appearance. Her mask, still frozen in terror, was covered in a network of tiny little cracks.

Servo: Someone burned an entire microprocessor into her face.

A large stellated crack marred the left side of her face.

"She needs to be partially rebuilt," Megabyte announced.

Crow: Better get Maco!

"Take her away!"

Mike: (Megabyte) She bores me!

The energy cage was lifted over to a table where it was laid down. Hex was removed from the cage then.

Servo: Then what?

Megabyte glanced down at Emi.

Bob: (Megabyte) Now where were we?

Her hand moved and he was afraid she had awakened. But her eyes remained closed,

Mike: And since she couldn't possibly be pretending to be asleep. . .

and she, oblivious to her surroundings, only stirred slightly, then snuggled against him.

Crow: (Emidecimal, muttering in her sleep) Oh Enzo, hold me like you did last summer. . .

He breathed a silent sigh of relief.

"Begin!" he commanded. "And work quickly! We don't have all night!"

Servo: What, is Hex going someplace?

The binomes began talking amongst themselves.

Mike: (Binome) Hey, you catch the last episode of Seinfeld?
Crow: (Binome) Jack, are you and Jane still having that barbecue this weekend?
Bob: (Binome) So I tell the guy, "I don't care what the sign says; I've got forty credits coming to me, and I want them now!"
Servo: (Binome) How about this weather? When's that dingy gray stuff going to clear up?

One pulled out a VidWindow and pointed to it. "Here's a design! This looks good!"

Mike: They're helping Zen Zenith work on his web page.

His comrades eagerly pounced on the window. The binomes chattered excitedly,

Servo: I think we're looking at wild binomes fighting over a kill.

then set to work. Megabyte watched them as they worked.

Bob: He's a manager, all right.

The binomes took away the destroyed wirework frame from the bodice of Hex's suit and replaced it with black leather armor

Crow: Oh, now she's Armor Class 7.
(Everyone turns to look at him)
Crow: (embarrassed) Never mind.

that looked like a cross between a strapless top and a corset.

Servo: She's Xena: The Warrior Princess all of a sudden.

After this the binomes immediately began rebuilding the rest of her.

Mike: Step one: The armor. Step two: Just sort of everything else.

They replaced Hex's five-point crown with a black crown of seven eerily swept-back cobra heads. They then began to construct black armored gloves and thigh-high boots.

Bob: Ha ha. She looks so dumb.
Crow: Look who's talking, Chef Boyardee.
Bob: What the. . . hey! (notices his big dumb hat for the first time and tears it off.) Why didn't someone tell me about this?
(Servo and Crow share a chuckle.)

Megabyte turned his gaze to Emidecimal.

Mike: (Megabyte) Yep, she's still there.

An evil smile spread across his face as he traversed the room and laid her down on a table.

Crow: Oh God, no! She's just a little girl!
Servo: This is pure, undiluted, liquid hell, isn't it?

"Mm..." Emi murmured, stretching. "It's too early to get up, Hex."

Servo: (Emidecimal) Now go back to sleep. I'm tired of you being up at all hours of the morning.

For a nano Megabyte thought Emi would wake up, but she only curled back up and went on sleeping.

Crow: And a potential plot point dies needlessly, like so many before it.

"When you finish with Hexadecimal I want Emidecimal treated as well.

Bob: But she wasn't blown up!

Replenish her energy and transform her...into this."

Crow: A Beast Wars character?
Bob: Now that is evil!

He handed a window to a small Zero binome who looked at it and his eyes popped.

Mike: Whoops, wrong window.

"But...sir, the girl is twelve! Twelve-year-olds don't wear outfits like this!"

Servo: (Binome) She's too old for puppy dog pajamas! All the kids will make fun of her!

"They will if I want them to! Now would you like to obey or be deleted?"

Crow: These binomes gotta start a union.

"Y-yes sir..." The binome shrank timidly back.

Megabyte turned away and picked up a syringe.

Mike: (Megabyte) Daddy needs his medicine.

He filled it with a pale-colored liquid, then lifted Emi's arm and injected the liquid into it.

Bob: Emidecimal's diabetic?

A look of pain flashed across her face and she curled her arm up against her, then was still.

Servo: Doctor-assisted homicide.

Her breathing became soft, slow, and even,

Mike: Slow and even wins the race.

and tranquility filled her face.

"With one injection of this, Emidecimal, this won't hurt a bit," he murmured.

Crow: (Megabyte) I won't feel a thing.

Turning back to the binomes he continued, "This should hold her for the night. Now I want these two prepared by the morning!"

Servo: From Sector G Prime to your table overnight.

With enthusiastic nods and cries of "Yes, sir!" the binomes hurried to obey.

All: {mutter mutter} strike {mutter mutter} mutiny {mutter mutter} revolution {mutter mutter}

Behind Emidecimal's eyelids her crystal blue eyes saw nothing.

Mike: (Emidecimal) I knew you stupid readers couldn't figure that out for yourself, so here I am rubbing your face in the obvious!
Crow: A bit bitter, Mike?

They did not see Megabyte leave, they did not see the binomes constructing a diabolical black object,

Servo: They did not see London, they did not see France. . .

and most importantly they did not see the black control collar with the green light fastened around Hex's neck.

Bob: Even more importantly, we didn't see what Megabyte planned on turning Emi into.

The child slept peacefully, unaware of what was going on as the binomes stripped off her armor and began fabricating the new outfit she would wear.

Servo: Uh oh. Ask and ye shall receive, Bob.

She did not notice as they gently removed her precious necklace,

Mike: The one that went with everything, the one she wore on her sister's birthday. . .

extracted her PIDs from it, and fed them into a control collar

Crow: Don't feed PIDs to your control collars, or they won't go back to their regular food!

identical to Hex's which was then fastened around her own neck.

Servo: To keep her head on.

She was in the midst of a deep and dreamless sleep from which she, next morning, would wish she had never awakened.

Crow: Yeah, well the feeling's mutual, Emi!
Mike: Crow, be nice now. . .

Chapter Five

"What Has He Done To You?"

Servo: What hasn't he done to her?
Mike: So many unwanted images in one sentence. . .

When Emidecimal awoke next morning,

Bob: She wished she had never awakened.

she couldn't open her eyes.

Crow: Someone had changed the locks!

She tried to move her hand, testing a hunch, but it wouldn't move. Shocked and afraid, she called to Hex, but her mouth refused to open.

Servo: She never got that contract with her mouth settled, and now it's coming back to haunt her.

*Hex!* she cried in her mind, but felt only static.

Mike: The network's down.

*Where am I?* she wailed inwardly, scared and confused.

Bob: No longer shocked and afraid, she's now scared and confused.

Just then she heard a door slide open. Panic gripped her.

Crow: Who's Panic, and where did he grip her?
Mike: No.

Not being able to move or see had left her helpless and extremely vulnerable.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Once again, I've found it nessecary to spoon-feed you these little details, as you are completely incapable of inferring them yourself.

Anyone could come and do anything to her.

Servo: What hasn't he done to her?

She heard a noise and suddenly her eyes snapped open.

Bob: But I thought she couldn't. . .
Mike: Don't try. That way lies madness.

Glancing anxiously around, she saw her condition and surroundings begin to take shape.

Crow: Oddly enough, it was a rhombus.

Emi was in a stasis field.

Servo: Three million years from Earth.
Mike: Stop it right now!

She was standing, bound by the blue waves of static, somewhere in a corner of the medical facility, which was odd, for last she recalled she had been sleeping.

Bob: (a la intro to The Odd Couple) Can four separate ideas live together in the same sentence without driving each other crazy?

She was able only to move her eyes, her neck, and her mouth.

Crow: She's Stephen Hawkings!

She suddenly noticed that her shoulders were bare.

Servo: And so the poor dog had none.

Confused, she lifted her head to look at the rest of her body--and gasped in shock!

Bob: It was gone!
Mike: They'd saved her head and put it in a pan of life-sustaining liquid. She was The Virus That Wouldn't Die!

She was not wearing her armor. Instead, she was wearing a strange outfit. She couldn't decide if she liked it or not, for she didn't have that good a vantage point to look at it from.

Servo: Yeah, she's been imprisoned, her body won't work, and her biggest concern is whether or not she's in style.

There was a binome standing next to her.

Servo: And she noticed she was wearing a different outfit before she noticed someone else was in the room!

"Excuse me," said Emi,

Mike: (Emidecimal) I boofed.

"but could you please remove this stasis field and show me to some kind of reflective surface?"

Servo: (going crazy) And now the first thing she wants to do is to see how she looks! No regard to where she is or what's happening, she's just --
Mike: Calm down now. . . it's just a story.

The binome replied, "I was sent only to remove the stasis field;

Servo: (Soft British accent) The Cadmium II has reached livable levels.
Mike: All right, Tom, one more and I'm taking your tapes away.

I will do only that."

"Surely you can step outside your function for one day!"

Bob: A whole day? Does Emidecimal have no concept of computer-scale time?

The binome raised his file lock, and Emi decided not to press the issue.

Crow: (Binome) Ha. A phallic symbol. Thought that'd shut you up.
Mike: Now don't you start.

The binome removed the stasis field.

"Where is Hex?" Emi asked. "Is she all right?"

Servo: (Emidecimal) And get me a mirror, lots of mirrors. And some make-up, I want to put on my face.

"Oh, you needn't worry about her," Megabyte suddenly responded, and Emi turned and gasped when she saw him behind her.

Mike: Given Emi's current state of paralysis, the only way she could have pulled that off is if her neck rotated 180 degrees.

"Why do I have the feeling something horrible is about to happen?" Emi murmured to no one in particular.

Bob: Maybe because your head is spinning around 180 degrees.
Crow: Maybe because you're the author, dickweed.

"Srow zie svitch!"

Bob: Did Emi just pound random keys with her fists? What is that?

Herr Doctor cried joyously.

Servo: He wept openly with the pure joy radiating from his heart.

Up from the healing tank rose the structure Hex had been attached to, but instead of Hex the holding device contained an encompassing, nearly opaque silver bubble,

Mike: Oooo! Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

surrounded by a fiery stasis field, in which was something but Emi couldn't quite tell what.

Crow: Are they still showing that old Final Fantasy VII promo?

Her eyes widened and her jaw began to fall as the bubble detached itself from the metal hoop and floated over and down to the ground some distance away from the healing tank.

Bob: Maybe a foot, maybe a mile, who cares?

All of a sudden the bubble exploded in a shower of silver

Crow: Watch where you step! I just dropped a Christmas ornament!

and there,

Mike: On the other side of the room from the bubble,

her arms outstretched and raised, stood Hexadecimal.

Servo: Anyone else feel like there should be a musical number here?

"Wh....wha....what have you done to me?" she stammered weakly.

Servo: What hasn't he done to you?
Mike: Okay, Tom, it's run its course.

"You were all but destroyed in an explosion.

Servo: (Soft British accent) The crew was exposed to a lethal dose of Cadmium II.
Mike: Okay, Tom, your tapes are mine.
Servo: Yeah? Well it was worth it!

We had to rebuild you....

Crow: Sorry. . . we didn't know what we were doing.

with some minor modifications."

Bob: (Megabyte) You pee through your nose now.

As Emi had first noticed,

Servo: She was wearing a different outfit and wanted to see what it looked like.

Hex was not her same old self, at least not in appearance.

Servo: Which is what really counts for this girl.

She wore a tight, shiny black leather something

Mike: Such flowing narrative.

that looked like a strapless leotard, black gloves,

Crow: (Emidecimal) Oh, I thought you were Dale!

and black thigh boots. Seven swept-back cobras perched atop her head. Even her earrings had changed, small gold hoops with elongated obtuse triangles hanging from them.

Mike: Suddenly, the story becomes a fashion magazine.

The change that most horrified Emidecimal was not in Hex's clothing,

Servo: But in her own clothing.
Mike: You're headed for a time-out, Tom.

but her mask. It looked as if it had shattered into a million pieces which had been glued back together, leaving nearly invisible cracks all over where the pieces had split.

Bob: (Binome) I told you they would notice, Kevin.
Crow: (Binome) Yeah, well at least I'm not the one who dropped it, Steve.

There was a stellated crack on the left side of her face.

Mike: (Emidecimal) I just thought I'd repeat that to make it clear to you stupid, half-alive, drooling simpletons.

It stretched up to between her eyes and down to her lips.

Crow: Past the gums. . .

It seemed as if someone had put a chisel next to her nose and given it a single forceful whack.

Servo: That's what really happened to the Sphinx in Egypt.
Bob: Really?
Servo: Yeah. I saw it in Aladdin.

Hex turned her eyes, glowing red now, on herself.

Mike: She fried herself with her lazers, the end.
Bob: Hex doesn't have lazers in her eyes.
Mike: Shut up.

She was shocked to see herself in her new outfit. "Who made me LOOK LIKE THIS?" she demanded angrily.

Crow: All of the drooling, adolescent-minded males who make the show.

The binomes looked around nervously, then all pointed to one binome, who looked scared. "I--" she shrieked, then, to everyone's surprise, smiled. "--like it!"

All: (muted trumpets) WAA-WAA-WAA-WAAAAAAAA!

Emi bit her lip to keep from shouting something.

Servo: (Emidecimal) Oh puh-leeze, that is, like, so forty nanoseconds ago. . .

"Emidecimal!" Hex cried delightedly, then her mask turned to complete surprise. "What has happened to you?"

Mike: (Emidecimal) Geez, can't a girl change clothes without people raising a big fuss?
Crow: Not in a cartoon, she can't. . .

"You shall soon see, dear sister."

Bob: Umm, can't she already see?

Megabyte snickered softly.

Servo: Hey, that's what this is making me hungry for -- a Snickers bar! See, 'cause he was. . . and. . . (dissolves into sobs)
Mike: (patting Servo's back) There there. It's gonna be okay.

"Let me see something here!" Emi shoved aside the binomes, knocking them into a heap in a corner of the room.

Crow: Action rude girl!

Others rushed to restrain her, but Megabyte held up a hand and they were still.

Bob: And they were still what?

Emi ran to the edge of the energy pool that had been the healing tank.

Crow: (Emidecimal) Oh, Hex, when are you going to get better and come out of the. . . oh, wait, you're already out.
Servo: Oh, and at some point she became unparalyzed.

She glared into the reflective surface the healing tank's energy provided,

Mike: Nearly burning a hole in it.

then drew back with a cry of surprise. She was no longer wearing her armor, as she knew before,

Crow: (Torgo) It'S nOt ArMoR tHe WaY yOu KnOw It. . . It Is WiTh Us AlWaYs. . . It'S nOt ArMoR tHe WaY yOu KnOw It. . .

but this outfit was even stranger than she had thought! She was wearing what appeared to be a black strapless leotard.

Servo: But it was actually a tasteful evening dress.

The top was edged with glittering round silver stones, in the center of which was a silver diamond turned on its side.

Bob: I'm guessing that those were only diamond-shaped pieces of silver, in which case it would be impossible to tell if it was upside-down, rightside-up, or on its side.
Servo: Well, thanks for beating that one to death.

Another line of silver stones ran down the center of the bodice, perpendicular to a line at the waist. The two lines intersected at a silver diamond identical to the one at the top.

Crow: Anyone get the feeling that a good 90% of Mainframe's silver deposits are stuck to Emidecimal's clothes?

Attached to the leotard at the lower row of silver stones

Crow: See! There it is again!

was a black skirt that hung to slightly below mid-thigh. A tall thin triangle

Mike: Of silver?

was cut in the side, and silver stones

Crow: Hey, Cambot, can we have a running count of how many times she mentions silver as part of her outfit?
(A graphic appears in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen)
Silver Mentioned: 6

edged the end of the skirt, traveling up the triangle,

Bob: Actually, Emi, they're called mountains. People just draw them like triangles.

where a silver

Silver Mentioned: 7

diamond stood, on its point this time.

Servo: (Diamond) What a long day. Man, am I bushed! I'm dead on my point!

Beneath the skirt

(Everyone clears their throats loudly)

were tight knee-length pants,

Crow: Hey, this is a children's show!

the ends of the legs edged with silver

Silver Mentioned: 8

stones. Completing her outfit

Bob: Required all of the silver in Mainframe and five surrounding systems.

were black boots reaching to mid-calf. The ends of the tops bore silver

Silver mentioned: 9

stones, the soles and heels were edged in silver,

Silver mentioned: 10

and a line of silver

Silver mentioned: 11

stones ran down the center of the front.

Servo: So one sentence suffices for an entire action sequence, but she has to ramble on for entire chapters about what she's wearing.

Glancing back up at her face, she gave a yelp of surprise and reached a black-gloved hand up

Mike: (Emidecimal) Oh, I thought I was Dale!

to touch one of the five silver

Silver Mentioned: 12

spikes, each ending in a diamond-shaped black point, that were arranged in a semicircle sticking out from her head like Hex's old five-point crown.

Bob: Aw, that's nothing. One time when I was out in the woods, I saw a Hex with a twelve-point crown. Unfortunately, it was out of season, so. . .

Suddenly she saw a strange object on her neck.

Servo: Oh yeah, and she was much more concerned about what her outfit looked like than she was about the leech on her neck.

It was a black

Crow: Silver.

collar with an elongated green

Crow: Silver.

trapezoid in the center. Black

Crow: Silver.
Mike: Okay, I think we can drop it now.
(The graphic disappears.)

lines crossed it lengthwise and two green triangles were on either side of it. Emi noticed Hex had one just like it.

Servo: (Emidecimal) How dare she come to the dance with the same necklace as me!

She whirled back around.

Crow: (Emidecimal) Well, I like it, but there's not enough silver.

A few binomes trembled. "Don't worry," Emi snorted, "I don't have to be a genius to know who designed this."

Mike: (Emidecimal) It was Frank Lloyd Wright, wasn't it?

"Charming," Megabyte commented, staring coolly at Emi, whose eyes flashed dangerously. "Well, thank you dear brother, but I must be going," Hex announced,

Servo: (Hexadecimal) The small children aren't going to shred themselves, you know.

motioning to Emidecimal to follow, then cheerfully called in a voice used only with Emidecimal, "Buh-byee!"

Bob: (Emidecimal) Heeex! You promised you wouldn't use that voice in public!

She turned and started to walk to the doorway when suddenly

Mike: She stopped walking.

Megabyte pressed a button on his arm.

Crow: And turned himself off.
Servo: Hey, that's a good idea! (He stirs for a few moments.) Sometimes I really wish my arms worked.

A pillar of green fire-energy leapt from the center of Hex's collar and she screamed in pain as Emi had never heard her scream before.

Servo: Umm, how had Emidecimal heard her scream before?

Her hands flew to her collar, tugging at it as if she was being strangled.

Mike: Well, if you'd stop pulling on your collar, it would stop strangling you!

She fell forward and lay there on the ground, not moving, only yowling in pain.

Crow: This is a heart-warming family story.

"Excellent, Herr Doctor. Now that I have my dear sister's power at my command, nothing can stand before me!" Megabyte cried.

Bob: Everyone will have to wait until I stand up before they can!

Emi dropped to her knees beside Hex,

Crow and Servo: (Wayne and Garth) WE'RE NOT WORTHY! WE'RE NOT WORTHY!

ignoring the rest of Megabyte's comment. Hex had an expression on her mask of utter defeat, one Emi had never seen before. "Hex!" Emi whispered in terror.

Mike: No, you scream in terror. You whisper nervously.

Hex moaned slightly and twitched

Servo: Slightly

as another jolt of pain was sent

Servo: Slightly

into her collar.

At this Emidecimal flew into a panic. She began frantically tearing at her collar,

Bob: (Emidecimal) This clashes with my boots!
Crow: (Emidecimal) Oh no! I'm wearing something not made of silver!

trying to get it off before Megabyte could send pain into hers too. But her efforts were futile.

Servo: And she fried! Fried! FRIED! YES AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Dissolving into maniacal cackling.)
Mike: You done yet?
Servo: (normally) No, not quite. (maniacal) FRIED LIKE A STICK INSECT ON A GAS GRILL! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Her claws would not come out at her command, she could not fly, and she could not shoot energy from her fingers.

Crow: Of course, she couldn't do any of that stuff before, so. . .
Bob: She was flying before, if I remember.
Crow: Who asked you?

The collar began to glow green and energy flew up from it. Emi screamed as pain coursed through her body.

Servo: Yes, more more MORE MORE MORE!
Mike: Umm, Tom? Honey? You're scaring us.

As she fell to the floor beside Hex, she heard Megabyte chuckle and say "Now, Emidecimal, we can't have any of that, can we?"

Bob: (Megabyte) Your falling to the floor beside Hex is getting out of control.

Emi's despairing eyes met Hex's and both asked in a single voice, "What has he done to you?"

Servo: So Emidecimal's run out of ideas for chapter titles and now she's just using quotes from the chapters?

The light in Emi's collar died away and she struggled to her feet. Hex tried to follow but she, weakened by the electrocution and even further by this, could not rise.

Crow: Bambi this is not.

Emi knelt beside Hex. "Come on, Hex, get up!

Mike: (Emidecimal) Get off your lazy butt and get a job!

He'll only hurt you worse if you don't!"

"I can't. I'm too weak, Emidecimal," Hex said quietly, a note of defeat

Servo: E flat?

in her voice.

Emi thought for a nanosecond

Bob: A little late to start using ReBoot's timeframe now, Emi. . .

and decided to try her only option. She looked up at Megabyte, her eyes searching his face, trying to see something beside cold hatred.

Bob: If she's trying to see something besides cold hatred, why is she looking at Megabyte's face?

"Please," she beseeched, "help her! Please....she's too weak to do anything, she could erase..."

Servo: (Emidecimal) . . . those naughty pictures you've been getting!

Megabyte gave Emidecimal a disapproving look

Mike: (Megabyte) You didn't say "Simon Says".

but sighed and raised two stasis chambers from the pool of energy.

Crow: (Megabyte) Yes Your Majesty. . . I gotta stop letting my prisoners boss me around. . .
Mike: C'mon, Megabyte! Be aggressive!

Since Hex was too weak to stand, Emi draped Hex's arm around her shoulders and helped her up.

Servo: Of course, Emi was four feet tall and Hex was seven feet, so it didn't work very well.

She slowly made her way to the tank's edge, Hex leaning on her and moving as best she could. Emi could tell Hex had lost most of her strength, and once again she swallowed

Bob: A lot of swallowing in this story. Does she have an eating disorder or something?

the incredible fear that was coming over her. Hex felt Emi stiffen slightly

Crow: That's an image I could do without.

but knew that there wasn't much she could do at the moment to calm the girl down.

Emi, at Megabyte's command, turned Hex over to him.

Mike: Umm, when did this happen?

She watched as Hex's arms and legs were locked to the metal hoop and a firey stasis field was put up around the hoop to keep Hex from escaping.

Bob: Now this is the trick that killed Houdini.

"Please," Emi begged, giving Megabyte her best sad-puppy face,

Bob: Unfortunately, Megabyte misread some signals and tossed her a doggie treat.

"please don't put me in just yet...please let me stay with her outside of my stasis chamber."

Crow: (Emidecimal) I won't escape or anything! Honest!

Megabyte sighed, but reluctantly complied.

Servo: Now she's simply taking advantage of the fact that she's the author and everyone has to do what she says!

He left the room, as did the binomes.

Mike: (Megabyte) We're just leaving. Now, no going and trying to escape now or anything, okay? Buh-bye.

Hex called Emi to her side, and Emi ran to the chamber Hex was in, falling to her knees beside it. She gazed up at her friend and in her eyes was pure terror.

Bob: Geez, even Hex's friends are terrified of her.
Mike: Wouldn't you be?

"What's he doing to us?" Emi asked.

Servo: What isn't he doing to you?
Crow: Stop it.

"Why is he keeping us here? And what in the Net has happened to you?"

Mike: And who's Merrit Stone? And what about Scarecrow's brain?

"I do not know." Hex waved her hands uselessly and frowned.

Bob: Actually, she waved her hands so we couldn't see her change to her frowning mask. She has to do that even in fanfics.

"I've been in here for not even a nanosecond and I despise it already."

Bob: Hey, check it out, another reference to the ReBoot time scale!
Servo: Not nessecarily. She might mean a real nanosecond.

Emi glanced at the control panel

Crow: The one marked "Plot Device".

the binomes had used to activate the holding device. "Hmm," she said, then walked over to it.

Servo: (Emidecimal) No, I don't seem to see anything here that could help. . .

She tapped a button and, like magic, the stasis field went down and Hex's hands became unlocked. "Ta da?"

Mike: (light-hearted) Magic's easy when you're the author!

Hex shook her head, but she was smiling. Emi came over to Hex.

Crow: Dick ran up the hill. Jane picked up the ball.

She was rubbing her aching wrists and staring suspiciously around the room.

Mike: Uh oh, she's having a 'Nam flashback. . .

Emi took hold of the hoop's edge and swung up so that she was standing beside Hex. Emi looked up at Hex and asked, "Why has he done this?

Servo: What hasn't he done to. . . oh, wait, that doesn't work.

Why has he made us his slaves?

Bob: He had the afternoon to kick around, he got bored. . .

He doesn't have that much against us, or even against you."

Crow: (Emidecimal) He couldn't possibly hold that against you where you tried to destroy the system just when it was finally in his grasp?

"You'd be surprised, Emidecimal."

Emi changed the angle of the conversation.

Bob: She made it more obtuse.

"It's like he said, we're toys!

Mike: A rich reward to whoever can document anything Megabyte ever said about toys. Thank you.

Look at this, these holding devices! And he threatens your life to get you to do something!"

Bob: He's never done anything like that before. . .

Tears were coming to the young halfling's eyes. "What if he does kill you? Or kills me?"

"I don't think there's any danger of that....

Crow: (Hexadecimal) I'm a major character in this series, and you're the author's creation.

he would never kill you, and if he kills me he'll never get what he wants."

Servo: Oh yuck! She's his sister for crying out loud!

"But what if?" Emi asked in a low and scared whisper

Mike: (Emidecimal) What if people never finished their sentences?

that made Hex realize just how much this terrified Emidecimal. After all, she'd spent almost all of her life as a User

Servo: Geez, everyone's got a heuristic emulator. I thought they were special.

and had never known circumstances like this were even possible.

She watched Emidecimal,

Bob: Because there was nothing good on.

who was trying desperately to keep her viral composure. The child had learned this in her viral training,

Crow: With all her viral friends in a little viral town on a small viral system where they played viral games and sang viral songs all the viral day.

and she knew it was important. She sat there now, holding back tears

Crow: Viral tears.

to please both herself and Hex, but both knew Emi's fear was getting the better of her and she wouldn't last much longer.

Mike: The story's even getting to her.

Hex held Emi close

Servo: There are so many things wrong with that.

as she finally broke down and burst into tears.


She felt Emi trembling in her arms and heard her sob "What if he kills you? You almost erased after the electrocution."

Crow: I told you to get a surge protector, but would you listen?

"It's all right, Emidecimal," Hex murmured soothingly. "I'm here now, and I don't plan to go anywhere."

Mike: Well, unless Megabyte kills her or something. . .

Emi realized with a growing dread that that wouldn't necessarily be Hex's decision.

Servo: Because she wasn't the one who was writing this story.
Mike: Halfway point everybody!

Chapter Six


Servo: And now she's stealing chapter titles from episodes of ReBoot!
Bob: Why not? She's stealing everything else from ReBoot.

Emi was jolted awake the next morning by searing pain from her control collar.

Crow: (Emidecimal) What gives? I thought I set the clock radio's alarm to "music", not "searing pain".

Her eyes snapped open and she gave a plaintive wail.

Mike: Yes, Emidecimal is quite an intimidating force.

Megabyte smirked. "Good morning, Emidecimal," he said with mocking cheer.

Servo: (Megabyte) The continental breakfast will be served at 10 o'clock.

"Good morning to you, too," Emi growled sardonically.

Megabyte then turned to Hex.

Crow: Megabyte turned into Hex? Wow, that's even better than the David Copperfield trick before.

Emi wasn't sure if Hex had awakened yet and she sent a gentle inquiry into her mind to wake her so Megabyte wouldn't hurt her.

Bob: I wouldn't call WAKE UP RIGHT NOW YOU PINHEADED VIRUS a gentle inquiry.

Hex moaned, moving her head as if trying to get comfortable in her standing position.

"Ah, dear sister. How are we feeling?" Megabyte asked patronizingly.

Crow: (Megabyte) Were your accomodations satisfactory? Was the help friendly and courteous? Would you like to fill out a comment card?

"With our hands," chirped Emi, waving her hands, which stuck out from the locks that held her wrists.

Mike: Oh stop, please. I can't handle the wacky, mad-capped zaniness.

Megabyte sent another painful jolt through her collar,

Servo: Wow, if I could zap bad fanfic writers whenever I wanted, I would never leave my room.

and Emi listened to Hex's reply in subdued silence.

Bob: Oh, thank the User, we've found something that'll shut her up!

"Weak...very weak..."

Bob: Yeah, that "with our hands" joke was pretty weak.

There was a trace of falseness in Hex's voice as she whispered "Help me...dear brother..."

Mike: (William Shatner) Help me Spock, help me!

"But of course." Megabyte exchanged glances with Herr Doctor, then tapped the glowing red button on his arm. Hex's voice rose to a howling shriek as pain flooded her body.

Servo: No, she said "help me", not "pulp me"!

"I will tear you apart once I am free of this infernal collar!" Hex yelled, then murmured, "That thought alone keeps me well...dear brother!" She laughed cruelly.

Bob: (Megabyte) Well, I was going to take it off today, but if that's your attitude, forget it!

"Mm, yes, we've heard this before."

Crow: Even he's admitting that this was already on an episode of ReBoot!

Megabyte dismissed Hex's comment easily. "Herr Doctor, it is time."

Mike: (Megabyte) Blue's Clues will be on any minute.

"Hexadecimal and Emidecimal are repaired, fully charged, and totally under your control."

Servo: (Surfer) They're, like, totally under your control, dude.

"We'll see about that!" Emi shot back insolently.

Mike: Emidecimal hogged all the best lines for herself.

"So, finally I have the power to crush all who stand against me!" Megabyte gloated.

"Well, if you wanted us to help, all you had to do was ask nicely!" Emi frowned.

Bob: (Emidecimal) Sure, we might have gotten carried away again and destroyed the system and you along with it. . .

"Emidecimal!" Megabyte sent a shock of pain into Emi's collar.

Crow: (Megabyte) I am never going to get tired of this.

"That is quite enough! Herr Doctor, prepare transportation for the stasis chambers.

Mike: (Herr Doktor) Dammit, Megabyte! I am a doctor, not a travel agent!

It is time to put my new...toys to use!"

Servo: The Small Soldiers are on standby!

Hex looked miserable as the machine the stasis chambers were attached to kicked into life,

All: (singing) Clankey the machine. . . is a fairy-tale they say. . . he was made of steel, but he's really real, and he came to life one day!

and Emi didn't blame her. She shot an apprehensive glance upward and saw only glaring white light, then felt the sickening lurch as she and Hex began to rise.

Servo: (singing) Love lift us up where we belong. . .

Upward they climbed, ascending into another state of being, surrounded by white light and Hex's defiant laughter.

Mike: Umm, did they die? Are they in Heaven now?


Crow: There it is -- my favorite line in the entire story.
Mike: Leonard Maltin gives this story 13 stars!

"I have a plan," Emi said suddenly.

Bob: (Emi) I'll slip out through a plot hole.

"Don't say that out loud here!" hissed Hex.

"Enh, it's okay.

Servo: (Emidecimal) Some plot convenience will come to our rescue.

The ABC walls are nearly soundproof."

Servo: (Emidecimal) See?


Crow: Unfortunately, Megabyte has the collars bugged, so. . .

"Well, my keytool is missing and if I got free of my stasis chamber I might be able to get it back."

Bob: So her plan is to escape from the stasis chamber, which she can't do because Megabyte controls her will, and then to miraculously recover her keytool, which she hasn't figured out how to do yet.
Mike: (Emidecimal) And then when I get my keytool, I'll take over the Net!

"Megabyte would stop you.

Crow: It's kind of odd that Hexadecimal is the voice of reason in this story.

He can control the collar from anywhere."

"Not if I used my powers to cut it!"

Mike: (Emidecimal) Not that I can use my powers to cut it, but if I could. . .

"That's impossible."


Servo: Oh geez. . . (Mindy) Why?

"Megabyte commands your power now,

Servo: (Mindy) Why?

but after your collar is removed, your powers will not be useable for a while.

Servo: (Mindy) Why?

Your User metabolism, traditionally taking a while to heal, fights your viral metabolism,

Servo: (Mindy) Why?

which adapts immediately.

Servo: (Mindy) Why?
Mike: (patting Servo's shoulder) Okay, that's enough.

This results in your powers being off-line."

Bob: Umm, is Emidecimal getting her powers from the collar or something? I mean, why won't her powers be usable after the collar's removed?
Crow: (incredulously) You're trying to find an atom of sense in that gibberish?


"Your User half fights your viral half and disables your powers."

Bob: So why wouldn't that be happening all the time? I mean, if it's her User half that's diabling her powers, wouldn't it. . .?
Mike: Don't try to process it. It'll hurt less.

"Well, my plan could still work," Emi said hopefully,

Servo: (Emidecimal) My brilliant plan of leaping from one plot contrivance to the next!

"if I used my powers with the collar on to cut the collar, or you did...."



Emi was about to reply

Mike: (patting Crow's shoulder) Come on, honey, settle down. . . don't blow up again. . .
Crow: (catching his breath) I'm sorry. . . I'm fine Mike. . . just got to me for a sec there. . .

when the ABC she was attached to began to rise, as did Hex's. They pulled up

Servo: Their pants.

out of the Tor, providing them with a full panoramic view of the city below.

Bob: (Hexadecimal) Oh, it's so lovely, I must get a picture. Okay, smile everybody, say ASCII!

Emi grimaced at the sight,

Servo: Of her clothes.

for as the Game below lifted, there stood her two least favorite Mainframers, Enzo and Megabyte.

Bob: Hey, it's Enzo!
Crow: Yeah, where's Zaytan when you need him?

The ABC's mechanical hum

Mike: Why, doesn't it know the words?
Servo: (Rimshot)

silenced in time for Emi to hear Megabyte say "Now that I command Hexadecimal and Emidecimal's powers,

Servo: (Megabyte) I'm going to Disney Land!

none can stand against me!"

Enzo gaped.

Bob: (Enzo) User help me, how much silver is she wearing? The light's all reflecting in my eyes!

"But I thought you had a crush on Emi!

All: Eeeeewwwww!

And you did that...to your own sister?"


"Yes, yes, yes....

Crow: Well, no.

yes, rather good isn't it?"

"You're sick, Megabyte! I won't rest until I've stopped you!"

Mike: Wow, he just became a Guardian, and already he has all the lines down pat!
Bob: I taught him everything I know.

"I believe that's an idle threat." He put out his claws, his eyes blazing as he growled, "It ends now!"

(General celebratory commotion. Everyone gets up and leaves.)

All of a sudden a ship flew by, dropping a row of what looked like overgrown green Christmas light bulbs between Enzo and Megabyte.

Servo: (off-stage) Oh for crying. . . come on, guys! It's still going!
(Everyone re-enters, rather disgruntled.)
Mike: Should have known.

Emi, recognizing the symbol on the tail of the ship, whispered in surprise, "Mouse!"

Mike: No, honey, whispering is with a period. Screaming is with an exclamation point.

Megabyte stared around, looking at Mouse, looking at the strange devices,

Servo: Looking at his shadow. . .
Mike: Looking at his sandwich. . .
Bob: Looking at the cloud shaped like a bunny. . .
Crow: (leeringly) Looking at Emidecimal!

and could say only, in a tone both confused and angry, "Whaaaat?"

Glitch beeped

Bob: He has such a filthy mouth!

and Enzo glanced down to see Dot's face.

Servo: (Enzo) Oh, sorry sis. . . didn't mean to stand on your face there. . .

"Senders in place," she reported. "Firewall ready. Awaiting your command...Guardian."

Bob: Okay. . . I command you to end this story!

"Glitch--" Enzo paused

Servo: Hold on, wasn't Glitch destroyed?


Mike: D'aaaaaaaahhhh. . .


The Principal Office shields went down, and the only sound heard was the incessant beeping of

Crow: The Emergency Broadcast System.

the strange devices. For a nano nothing happened.

Mike: Yep, big surprise there. Quite a refreshing change from the rest of this story.

Then the green bulbs turned solid red

Bob: The tomatoes sure ripened fast.

and became tubes that rose up a few feet.

All of a sudden fire spurted skyward from the tubes in a brilliant display.

Servo: (Megabyte) Oh no, he got those fireworks from Wisconsin! Run!

The flames soared into the air, rising higher then even the Tor. Emi watched, awestruck, gaping,

Mike: Bewitched, bewildered, bothered. . .

as each bulb emitted a burst of flame, all flaring up in rapid succession so that flame shot along the entire row in a fantastic series of fiery eruptions.

Crow: Here we go. They're working up to the finale.

Hex seemed to take this in stride, but Emi gazed in wonder at the fire surrounding the sector and whispered "A firewall!"

Mike: (Emidecimal) Just in case you couldn't figure it out from the title of the chapter, Enzo's command, or the episode of ReBoot on which this chapter is based, I thought I'd leap to your rescue and explain that the wall made of fire is, in fact, called a firewall. Thank you.

The yellow and orange flames disappeared for a split second

Bob: Nano.

as the sector became encased in a solid wall of fire. Its blaze echoed in Emidecimal's eyes,

Servo: Ouch!

the gleaming reflection illuminating the undying flare deep in her eyes that was her defiant, invincible spirit.

Mike: (Getting up) Okay. That's it. A man can only take so much. (He storms out of the theater.)
Servo: (calling after him) That's okay, honey. We'll catch up to you in a minute.

Hex's laughter rose into the air, a sound of diabolical delight. "Oh, isn't this rich!" she exclaimed, and Emi nodded assent. "Aren't we a pair?"

Crow: This doesn't seem like an appropriate time for Send in the Clowns.

She turned her gaze of joyous hate on the sector below,

Bob: G Prime, the sector you love to hate!

focusing especially on Megabyte. "Now," she sneered, "it is the jailer who is jailed!"

(Gunshots are heard coming from outside the theater.)
Servo: The hell?

As Hexadecimal reveled in Megabyte's misfortune, the jailer himself was far ahead of her. His metal hand clenched into a vengeful fist as his mind began working.

Bob: It's been three seasons. . . it's about time his mind began working.
Servo: Guys, I'm worried about Mike. Let's go see what all that gunfire was about.
Crow: Okay.

(Everyone gets up and leaves.)

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

(Back in the SOL main area. Mike is -- gasp! -- slumped over the desk with a revolver in his hand!)

Servo: Mike! NOOOOOOOO!

Mike: (getting up) What?

(The others are startled. Bob puts his hand on his, umm, do sprites have hearts?)

Mike: I was just so bogged down by this story that I thought I'd take out my aggressions on this picture of Mary Kate Olsen. (Shows them said picture, which is riddled with bullet holes.)

Crow: Why Mary Kate Olsen?

Mike: It's what I imagine Emidecimal would look like.

Servo: (Relieved sigh) Well, I think I speak for us all when I say I'm glad you didn't blow your brains out. I don't know what we would have done without you!

Mike: Really?

Crow: Yeah! I don't think I could bear the thought of you dying while the rest of us finish this story alone!

Mike: Well gee, thanks. You know, this story is hard enough to get through, but why does Emidecimal feel it's nessecary to write in everyone's accents?

Bob: Well, all fanfic authors do that.

Mike: But why? No one ever gets the accents right, and it just ends up sounding fake and tacky.

Servo: Well, accents are important. They're part of the characters. Think about it; would Herr Doktor sound like an insane man of science without his cheesy German accent?

Mike: Well, no. . .

Bob: Would Megabyte be as deadly and calculating without his English accent?

Mike: I guess. . .

Crow: Would Mouse be as annoyingly smackable without her overdone southern drawl?

Mike: No, I guess not. Maybe you guys are right. And have you ever noticed how some villains wouldn't be as evil without their accents?

Servo: Yeah. . . you know, it seems like certain accents just automatically make someone seem evil.

Crow: Like German?

Mike: And Russian.

Servo: And British.

Crow: And Minnewegian.

Mike: What do you think it says about our culture that we automatically associate foreign tongues with darkest evil?

(A poignant pause)

Crow: That's actually a pretty dark message to draw from our story.

Servo: I feel so dirty.

Bob: I'm telling you guys. . . I've got a really creepy feeling about this one. I don't think we're going to get out alive!

Mike: Oh, come on, Bob. It's just a story.

(Lights flash and sirens blare.)

Servo: Movie sign!

6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. @..
Click Here To Enter the Theater...