(The usual suspects come in and sit down)
All: (singing) One hundred years of solitude, one hundred years of solitude! You take one down, pass it around. . .

Chapter Seven

Number 7

(A moment of silence)
Servo: (disgusted) She's not even trying anymore!
Mike: (burying his face in his hands) This is gonna hurt.

The ABCs rose upward and towards the firewall.

Crow: Hey, the ABCs we planted are coming up really good this year.

Above them were the ABCs Hex and Emi were attached to, bright spotlights from other ABCs trained on them.

All: (singing) Dun dun dun Overture! Cut the lights! This is it! The night of nights!. . .

Emi glanced in Hex's direction and her eyes went wide.

Servo: (Emidecimal) Oh, what are you wearing?

She burst out laughing,

Bob: She's drunk again.

and Hex indignantly asked "What?"

"Not you. Him!" Emi gestured at Megabyte,

Mike: Who was eating five garden hoses at once! It's nutty!

who was riding what appeared to be a beefed-up flying motorcycle with rocket boosters on the back instead of wheels.

Crow: But actually it was a thoroughbred racehorse.

"Don't tell me you sold the limo."

All: I sold the limo.

Megabyte ignored Emidecimal's flippant remark

Servo: Ooo, how subversive of her! Suggesting he'd sold one of his vehicles and everything.

and turned to Hex. "When you are ready, dear sister."

"Ready? Ready for what?" Hex demanded angrily.

Bob: Band practice! It starts in ten minutes! Where's your tuba?

Suddenly the locks holding her hands opened.

Crow: (Good witch of the North) You had the power to leave all this time!

She stared at her hands, then scornfully spat out, "You expect me to help YOU?"

Mike: (Blofield) No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

"Now, now, we can do this the easy way, or--"

Servo: The army way.

He pressed the button on his arm to activate the collar. The green energy flared up and Hex screamed as the all-too-familiar agony gripped her once more.

Bob: So it's drama by repetition?
Mike: Pretty much.

She pulled helplessly at her collar and Emi could swear she saw flashes of a charred gray skull where the column of energy touched Hex's mask.

Crow: Of course, she'd been hittin' the prozac pretty hard, so. . .

Hex, still clutching her collar, doubled over in pain and then froze. A soft murmur of laughter rose up from her lips, then burst into a triumphant shriek.

Servo: (Hexadecimal) "Don't tell me you sold the limo!" I just got it!

"I'm glad you find this amusing."

Bob: (Megabyte) It's my first time as a stand-up comic, and I was afraid you might not get it.

"Oh, I was just picturing what I will do to you when I am free of your little toy."

Mike: (Hexadecimal) I'm going to give you such a pinch!

Hex smirked, then snapped,

Bob: Trust me, she snapped a long time ago.

"You have no idea the power you try to control!

Crow: The Pentium II is just too powerful!

Chaos will always triumph over order!

Servo: Yeah, I found a secret thing where you can play as Chaos. . . you can beat Order's butt so bad. . .

It is the way of things."

"Enough!" Megabyte barked.

Mike: (Megabyte) I can't take all this break-neck action and excitement!

"Breach this firewall with your viral energies or suffer!"

Bob: Breach the firewall!
Mike: No, go for the suffering!
Servo: Take the curtain! The curtain!
Crow: Go for door number one!

Hex put her hands on her hips

Servo: (singing) And bring your knees in ti-i-i-i-ght!. . . Let's do the time-warp again!

and glared at Megabyte as he finished "Your choice."

Mike: Marinara or red sauce.
Servo: Pasta or noodles.
Bob: Drink or beverage.
Crow: Hot dogs or roadkill.

Hex lifted her spidery black hands high above her head. They began to glow an eerie bluish-greenish-

Servo: purplish, brownish, indigoish-


Servo: Huh?

as energy collected in them. Then, in one swift, fluid motion, Hex thrust her hands down and sent a powerful energy blast straight into

Bob: Megabyte?

the firewall.

Bob: Oh.

Megabyte freed Emi's hands also.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Thanks. That'll make it a lot easier to type.

"You too, Emidecimal," he commanded, his finger poised threateningly over the button to activate Emi's collar. "Don't make me say it more than once."

Crow: Don't make me take off my belt.

From Emi's fingers shot ten bolts of electric blue-white energy.

Mike: And we have superpowers, ladies and gentlemen!

Where the energy blasts from Hex and from Emi hit the firewall, a rift opened,

Servo: In time and space, destroying the fabric of the universe, the end.

looking very much like a flaming yellow sunburst.

Hex looked as if the energy discharge was severely weakening her.

Bob: What happened to that trans-finite energy thing? Is she even trying for continuity at all?

He eyes were closed and she was tilting her head back, shaking jerkily with the force of the energy leaving her body.

Crow: I saw cats do that in the alley once.

Emi was about to say something but Megabyte began giving orders to his troops at that moment.

Mike: Destroying Emi's power of speech.

Her other option being pain, she was forced into silence.

Servo: Once again, ladies and gentlemen, something has actually shut her up!

"The way is clear.

Bob: The rain is gone. I can see all the obstacles in my way.

Take every legion and mount an all-out attack on the Principal Office.

Crow: What a brilliant idea, sir! I would have thought that we should attack Dot's Diner, but no, the Principle Office is a much better target!

There are no shields to stop you. Take no prisoners, show no mercy.

Mike: Leave no cliché unexploited.

The city will be mine..." A low rumble of evil laughter concluded Megabyte's orders, and the ABCs set off.

Servo: Okay, so we, like, umm, go to the store and pick up some olives? Okay.

A solid stream of ABCs flowed steadily through the rift and out towards the city,

Mike: Oh man, we shouldn't have invaded during rush hour!

their somber gray shapes the beat to their engines' mechanical melody of death. Emi watched fearfully,

Bob: (Emidecimal) I'm afraid that they're not going to find more silver for my outfit.

her mental command to release the energy from her fingers turning subconscious as she did.

Crow: She turned subconscious? You mean she's just a dream? How do I wake up?

Then suddenly one of the lead ABCs exploded!

Mike: Someone put Drano in their tank!

Emi shook her head hard,

(Servo makes a rattling noise)

staring in disbelief at the fiery cloud where the ABC had been, watching it disperse. Before she could make sense of it, however, another ABC exploded, and another, and another.

Bob: (monotone) Wow. Dozens of binomes are being horribly deleted. I don't think I can stand it. This is so terrible. Oh the humanity.

Emi realized then that the Principal Office gunners were shooting at the ABCs.

Servo: How did she know this?

Their aim was incredible,

Crow: But they were no fun at parties.

for every shot hit its target. The forces began to deplete rapidly, a far cry from the attack before the Web war when the ABCs got as far as blowing up the Sub Sphere and even succeeded in stealing Core energy.

Mike: But that's a different story, I'm in the process of writing it right now. . .

But now some didn't even enter Principal Office airspace before being blown up.

Servo: <sigh> So, let's recap the story so far. Bob's been shot into the web. . .
Bob: Megabyte's taken over Hex and Emi. . .
Servo: And that brings us to. . . now. Six chapters later, and we're only at the second plot point.

"The forces are being decimated!" Emi shouted. "Do something!"

Crow: (Emidecimal) Make shadow puppets! Do the hokey pokey! Put on some light classical music! Do something!

Before Megabyte could reply a stray shot flew through the rift

Servo: And destroyed the comma.

and struck his vehicle. It rocked from side to side as he struggled to regain control of it.

Bob: Hey, it's one of those movie rides at the state fair!

Hex laughed mockingly.

Mike: (Nelson) Ha ha!

"Close the rift!" Megabyte demanded. "Close it!"

Bob: Turn it off. . . Turn it off!

"Your wish is my command!" Hex replied with a smile,

Servo: Umm, I wish for a million more wishes.

ceasing the flow of energy from her hands, all the while laughing with sadistic glee as what was left of the ABCs crashed into the firewall

Crow: ABCDEF Murder!
Servo: HIJKLMNO Die!

and fell in smoldering shards to the ground below.

Emi looked stunned, gaping incredulously at the utterly destroyed ABCs.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Shredded children I'm used to, but this. . .

Never before had Megabyte been defeated so devastatingly.

Bob: Except for in every episode of season one.

Nearly all of the forces had been annihilated.

The ABCs that Emi and Hex were attached to began to descend at Megabyte's signal.

Servo: Well, they're pulling the tarp over the field, and it looks like the invasion's being rained out.

Emi noticed with a flurry of excitement that Megabyte had forgotten to put the stasis fields back up.

Crow: (Megabyte) I feel like I'm forgetting something. . . I turned the stove off. . . I've got my keys. . . all well, it can't be important.

"It's now or never!" she whispered to Hex.

Hex, without a word, reached her hands up to her face,

Mike: (Hexadecimal) Let me just pop this zit before we escape.
Servo: Mike! Yuck!

took hold of her mask, and began to pull gently, applying enough force to remove it.

Crow: It's time to take off the mask and see who it was. Do you folks at home know?

"Hex, no! NO!" Emi screamed, panicking.

Hex did not listen. Then Emi saw Hex's mask change as she pulled it away.

(Bob screams and hits the deck.)
Servo: Umm, Bob?
Bob: (getting up, dusting himself off) Sorry. It's just one time I took off Hex's mask and she almost blew up.
Mike: Wow, she's pretty touchy, huh?
Bob: You have no idea.

Confused, she watched, then saw the two masks separate

Crow: (Abe Lincoln) A mask divided cannot stand.

so that Hex had taken off one while still wearing the other. She heaved a sigh of relief.

Hex laughed, and for the first time the laugh was gentle and reassuring.

Bob: Yeah, for the first time in her run-time.

"Would I really do that, Emidecimal?"

Servo: Umm, you just did.

"Well, why did you take your mask off, then?"

"I was just getting to that. Since it is time to begin your plan,

Mike: Now guys, I don't want to get your hopes up, but it looks like we just might have the beginnings of an original plot developement!
Crow: Yay!

I want you to take this with you.

Bob: It's my Tamagotchi. Take good care of her.

Put it on when you see no escape from danger and it will protect you.

Servo: Hey, a deux ex machina! It's just what I've always wanted!

However, it will also show you frightening scenes from your future.

Mike: (Hexadecimal) It turns out you'll be doing a lot of game shows.

Remember this, Emidecimal.

Crow: Don't take candy from strangers.

No matter how scared you are you are

Servo: Help Help! I'm seeing double double!

not to take the mask off, for you will lose its protection and never be able to reactivate it.

Bob: (Hexadecimal) And run the battery all the way down, otherwise you won't be able to charge it all the way up again.

Not only will you lose its protection, but the scenes will haunt you forever.

Crow: I have a feeling these scenes will already haunt us forever.

Yet they will be totally erased from your memory if you take the mask off when you see only darkness."

Mike: It's actually a pretty complicated and inconvenient plot device.

Hex leaned over and attached the mask to two of the silver stones encircling Emi's waist.

Servo: Wouldn't it have been just as easy to give Emi a mask that defended her with no side effects?

"By the way," Emi asked, "how did you do that?"

Hex shook her head.

Bob: (Hexadecimal) No. Forget it. Give me the mask back, this'll never work.

Without a word she put out her claws and slashed Emidecimal's

Crow: Please say neck, please say neck, please say neck. . .


Crow: Rats.
Servo: So why didn't she do that a long time ago?

Then she used her firepower to destroy the locks holding Emi's feet.

Mike: So Megabyte didn't hear an explosion or anything? No one notices any of this?
Bob: (Megabyte) Dare I interrupt my game of solitaire? Well, I'm sure if Emidecimal was escaping, someone would tell me.

Emi clutched the hoop's edge to keep from falling as the ABC descended.

When they reached the ground Hex cried "Go!"

Servo: Collect $200 as you pass.

Emi scrambled down from the stasis chamber and leapt to the ground. She dashed across the sector and behind the Tor,

Crow: What, is there no one anywhere in G Prime? Is everyone at a warehouse sale?

running to a secret entrance she knew of.

Bob: Which she just made up just now.

Megabyte was about to send his soldiers after her

Mike: (Megabyte) Emi's running loose, she's got a magical mask, and she's on the other side of the sector. . . you know, it just might be time to do something about this.

when Hex fired a blast of energy at him, knocking him to the ground.

Servo: Why couldn't she have done that a long time ago?

"Contain her!" Megabyte ordered,

Crow: (Megabyte) I want her "to go"!

pounding Hex's collar into life.

Bob: (getting up, miming CPR on Hex's collar) Live! Live!

As she screamed the binomes ran to her, locking her arms back up and reactivating the stasis field.

Mike: (Megabyte) No, her! Emi, the one who's running away! Oh, never mind. . .

Her pulse pounded as agony filled her, but in the midst of her pain one thought fought its way to the surface.

Servo: (Hexadecimal) I really like neopolitan ice cream.

*Good luck, Emidecimal...*


Crow: Look guys! The koosh balls will save us!

As the elevator rose upward,

Servo: As opposed to, say, rising downward or sideward or diagonalward.

Emidecimal stared at the floors zooming past, watching for the medical facility.

Bob: (Emidecimal) I'll just search all 1274 floors of the Tor one by one until I find the medical facility. How long can it take?

When she saw it, she got off and ran down the hall. Her collar flickered green, but she felt no pain.

Mike: Because it was still back with Hexadecimal.

She arrived at the medical facility and found exactly what she was looking for.

Crow: (Emidecimal) Ah, my heroine! Here it is!

In the corner lay her armor, her necklace, and her keytool, all piled in an unruly heap.

Bob: So they just threw everything into the corner of the medical facility? Megabyte never even thought to try and use the keytool or anything?

Emi picked up Blip

Mike: Hey, it's Space Ghost's monkey!

and put it on her wrist. "Blip," she commanded, picking up her necklace, "extract."

Servo: (Emidecimal) Extract all the silver from this necklace! I must have more silver!

A tiny stream of silver sparkles trickled from Emidecimal's control collar and into her necklace.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Ha ha! Soon, I'll own all the silver in the world! Ah ha ha ha!

When it stopped, she fastened the necklace clasp around her neck and tapped the charm twice. Silver sparkles swirled over her,

Crow: (Emidecimal) YES! More silver! MORE!

leaving her wearing her armor, her other outfit tossed in the corner where her armor had been before.

Bob: Umm. . . no, I'm sure that wouldn't work.

She glanced at her reflection in the pool of energy,

Servo: (Emidecimal) Finally! Out of that horrible outfit and into my silver hot pants!

pleased to see herself once again wearing the brightly colored skintight uniform that was her viral body armor.

Mike: That's really more of a lateral move, personally speaking.

The five-point crown was gone from her head, and the only evidence of her former outfit was

Servo: That it was laying on the floor.

the slashed control collar, which she removed from her neck and flung at the wall.

"I knew I'd find you here."

(Everyone looks around)
Crow: Did we just do a jump cut? What's the deal here?

Emi spun around at the sound of Megabyte's voice. Reflexively she picked up the mask Hex had given her.

Bob: 'Cause, you know, she'd done it so much lately that it had just become a reflex.

"Go ahead," she taunted, "press the button. See if I care. You can't control me anymore!"

Mike: You tried to live my life just for a while, but you cannot control me with a smile!

"True, Emidecimal," Megabyte replied coolly, flicking out his claws. "Yet to control you I do not necessarily need to use a control collar."

Servo: (Megabyte) I know you'll do anything for a Klondike bar.

"What makes you think you can control me at all?"

Bob: Umm, maybe because he did?

The triumphant smirk on Emidecimal's face pushed Megabyte over the edge.

Mike: (Megabyte) She's smiling! I can't take it anymore!

"I've had enough of your insolence! It ends now!"

Crow: Please, don't even tease us about that!

Megabyte dove at Emidecimal, claws out, intending to kill.

Bob: We'll be right back with a cheesy and anti-climactic escape.

Chapter Eight

Another Fine Mess

Servo: (Hardy) Stanley. . .

With barely enough time for her arm to execute the motion, Emidecimal slapped the mask onto her face.

Mike: My halloween costume will protect me!

Immediately a fiery force field sprung up,

All: (unenthusiastic) Ooooo.

knocking Megabyte back as he hit it. He contacted solidly with the wall, leaving a large dent in it, then slumped to the floor, where he did not move.

Crow: And so, Emidecimal has single-handedly defeated Megabyte. Goodnight everybody.

A bright light flooded Emi¹s eyes,

Bob: What the. . .
Mike: "Emi¹s eyes"?
Servo: Someone didn't proofread their little epic, I see. . .

then gradually dimmed to reveal the body of a girl in a breakdown chamber.

Mike: Break it down!

Her body glowed bright white, the source of the glowing light, and she writhed in unbearable pain,

Crow: (Emidecimal) Why'd Hex say this would be so bad? It's just a small child being horribly tortured.

silent screams of agony bursting from her lips. Emi stared at the dying child and realized she knew her.

Bob: Auntie Em?

The face, turning to her, eyes pleading, imploring, was her own.

Servo: So, these images of her future. . . she doesn't get to see them through her own eyes.

Emi felt terror strike her heart as if she had been impaled on it.

Servo: (Emidecimal) Oh my god, look what I'm wearing!

But she kept the mask pressed to her face.

The next picture showed a beautiful young woman with flowing brown hair and flashing blue eyes.

Mike: It's my girlfriend, Ginger!

The silver necklace she wore read ³Emidecimal.²

*That¹s me!* Emi thought.

Crow: (Emidecimal) D'ahhhhhhh. . . look, it's me!
Bob: (Emidecimal) Well, I'll survive the breakdown chamber. . . that's nice to know.

Emi watched as the scene continued.

Mike: It hasn't even started yet! All we've had is a picture of a woman!

The woman had been framed in a flash of light that dimmed suddenly.

Servo: Well, that'd be the definition of a "flash".

Another flash revealed the woman locked in an embrace with someone Emi knew all to well.

Crow: Mike Meyers?

The woman,

Bob: Who?

the older version of her,

Bob: Oh. . .

was kissing Megabyte and appeared to be enjoying it!

Mike: (Emidecimal) Eww, a boy! Yuck!

Emi nearly screamed and ripped away the mask, but, remembering Hex¹s warning, bore the sight of the hideous vision until its end.

Crow: Please don't let them pass first base oh please oh please oh please. . .

The next picture showed the woman that was Emi again,

Crow: Thank you!

but older now. She was wearing a long white dress with big sleeves, as least as wide at the ends as they were long.

Servo: Did I mention yet that Emi really really cares about what she's wearing?

Two Guardians were holding her arms behind her as she struggled to get free,

Bob: (Guardian) Fanfic police. We've got you on ten counts of self-insertion with extreme prejudice.

screaming something at the other two Guardians in front of her.

Mike: (Guardian) You don't have to scream! We're right here!

Emi recognized them as Turbo and Enzo, and they were viciously kicking and beating someone....oh!

Crow: It was just a little girl. No big deal.

Emi¹s stomach turned when she saw it was Hex.

Mike: My stomach's turning, but it's not about Hex.

With all Emi had seen of her life, she no longer had any desire to live it,

Servo: And she killed herself, The End.

and, eager to forget it all, tore the mask away when the awaited darkness came. As Hex had said, she blissfully remembered nothing,

Bob: Where she was, what her name was, what she was doing, how to talk, how to move. . .

and when she stared at the mask, trying to remember, her mind drew a blank.

Mike: Drawing a blank is so easy. You just take a blank piece of paper and leave it blank.

Taking no notice of Megabyte,

Crow: Who had gotten up and put a new collar on her while she was watching her life. . .

she attached the mask to the blue colored strip that ran beltlike around her waist and fled the room.


Servo: Oh say Mike. . .
Mike: Yes, Tom?
Servo: Perhaps you can help me out here. Now, see, all those things that Emidecimal just saw, she forgot them all, right?
Mike: Umm, yeah, I guess so.
Servo: So everything that she just saw has absolutely no impact on the plot whatsoever, am I right?
Mike: Yeah, I'll give you that one.
Servo: So basically, what we were watching was a collection of Emidecimal's sick, twisted fantasies that she couldn't fit into the story anywhere else, right?
Mike: Sure seems that way.
Servo: (eerily calm) Thank you.

(Servo's head explodes.)

Bob: (startled) Aaa!
Mike: (waving smoke away) I hate it when he does this. . .

A sharp banging sounded against the metal cover of a heating duct in the medical facility.

Crow: Meanwhile, somewhere in Existance. . .
Bob: (Looking at Servo) Is he going to be all right?
Mike: Sure, I've got a bunch of spare heads right here just in. . . hey, wait a minute. . .

Hex glanced in the direction of the noise. ³Come in.²

Crow: I'm trying. . . No, you don't have to help me in there, I'm fine. . .
Mike: We're all out of heads. We'll have to wait for the nanites to make some more.
Crow: Really? Hey, uh, Mike? Could you hand him over here? I'll take care of him.
Mike: Umm. . . Okay. . .
(Mike hands Servo over to Crow. Together, they leave the theater.)

One by one the screws fell out and the panel fell over, displaying the visitor.

Mike: Would our mystery guest enter and sign in please!

³Skuzzy!² Hex cried delightedly as the wotsit

Mike: What's it?
Bob: Exactly.
Mike: Oh, so it's. . . huh?

bounded eagerly up to her, purring. Then, without warning, she turned angry. ³It¹s about time! Where have you BEEN?²

Bob: (Hexadecimal) Let me smell your breath. . . you've been diving into the catnip, haven't you?
(Mike meows dejectedly.)

Skuzzy lowered his head to show Hex the picture on his screen, which displayed the firewall.

Mike: Why, yes, there is a firewall somewhere in this story! Emidecimal must have gone to great pains to keep continuity going!

³A firewall?

Bob: No, a female aardvark.


Mike: You call that a quotation mark?

Skuzzy cringed slightly, then questioningly showed a picture of Emidecimal.

³I do wish I knew....Aha!² Hex snapped her fingers.

Bob: (Hexadecimal) Oww! My fingers snapped!

Skuzzy looked up.

Mike: Hmm. . . ceiling needs painting.

³Skuzzy!² Hex commanded. ³Go and fetch Emidecimal. Bring her here as soon as you find her.²

Bob: That'd be the idea behind "fetching" something.

Skuzzy nodded, purring, and darted back through the heating duct.

Mike: (Hexadecimal) D'OH! I forgot to tell him to unlock me! All well. (singing) Forty-seven years of solitude, forty-seven years of solitude. . . you take one down, pass it around. . .


She ran for her life down the hall, the only thing on her mind a successful escape from the Tor.

Bob: Who, Dot? Mouse? AndrAIa?

The walls felt as if they were closing in on her

Mike: (Wall) Hey Ted, how do you feel right now?
Bob: (Wall) Pretty good. I kinda feel like I'm closing in on Emidecimal though.
Mike: (Wall) Yeah, me too.

as she tore through the corridor. In the dim fluorescent light the neon green viral symbols on the walls blazed terrifyingly.

Both: (Unenthusiastically) Oooo.

Emi felt as if Megabyte were watching her from every corner of the hall.

Bob: Well, he kind of is. What do you think he has those things there for?

Her fear sent the methodic clank of binome feet into her ears,

Mike: You know, sound travels much better through emotions than through air.

and at every intersection she glanced fearfully down each hallway to make sure no binomes were in pursuit of her.

Bob: She seems a little paranoid. I mean, if Megabyte didn't send anyone while she was escaping, he's not going to do it now.

She had so far seen no binomes,

Mike: In fact, she didn't even know what a binome was.

but there was of course no guarantee that none would be waiting for her at the next intersection.

Bob: (Emidecimal) Geez, the binomes were supposed to meet me here an hour ago. How am I supposed to get home?

Cold shivers crawled down the length of her back. Her mind was on a different course than her feet, but both were driven by fear.

Mike: Her feet were acting independantly from her mind?
Bob: Yeah, they'd seceeded from the Union and dubbed themselves "The Free-Appendages".

It threatened to consume her entirely

Mike: Suddenly it's a crossover with Anaconda.

as she bravely ran on,

Bob: I thought she was running with fear.

which explained why she screamed so loud when the heating duct above her burst open

Mike: Oh, yeah, that'll happen when that. . . umm. . . happens. . .

and out bounced Skuzzy.


Bob: (Emidecimal) My quotation marks have turned into strange hovering numbers!

Skuzzy growled softly and Emi lowered her voice. ³What are you doing here?² she hissed.

Mike: Anaconda. What'd I tell you?
Bob: Let's do her river style. . . heh heh. . .

Skuzzy bowed his head and showed Emidecimal the projector atop his head.

Mike: A minute ago it was a screen.

Emidecimal blinked as a picture formed.

It was a picture of Hex in her stasis chamber,

Bob: Her mask was charred and her body armor was twisted.
Mike: (Emidecimal) Yeah, we saw this part. Fast forward a little.

and she was saying ³Skuzzy! Go and fetch Emidecimal. Bring her here as soon as you find her.²

Emi looked at Skuzzy, who purred and blinked. ³Okay, messenger boy, where to?²

Bob: Then Skuzzy showed her a picture of a little bar down the street. . .

Skuzzy bounced up and into the heating duct. He then stared down, blinking curiously at Emi.

³What?² Emi asked.

Mike: Daaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh. . .

³Oh, I get it. You want me to follow you.²

Skuzzy nodded.

Bob: Fanfic authors are so hard to train.

³No way. There is NO way I¹m going to crawl into a heating duct.

Mike: Then Skuzzy showed her a picture of a little girl with her head up her. . .
Bob: Mike?
Mike: Sorry. . . I really need a break. . .

I¹m way too tall to fit and I¹d probably suffocate in there!²

Mike: Do people in computers need to breathe?
Bob: Umm, no; I've never really noticed that before.

The picture on Skuzzy¹s screen shifted to display Hex scolding ³YOU CALL THAT AN EXCUSE?²

Mike: So Skuzzy's an instant replay?
Bob: That's the basic idea, yeah.

Emi frowned. ³You sure are persuasive for someone who doesn¹t talk.²

Sighing, she jumped up and caught hold of the edge of the hole in the heating duct.

Bob: Slicing her fingers to ribbons on the jagged metal edge.


Mike: This is no time for a game of Scrabble!

at the air with her purple and red boots, she managed to pull herself up into the duct.

Bob: Yep, kickin' at the air -- that'll give you some good leverage.

It was a bit of a tight squeeze,

Mike: Getting into her outfit. . .

but she could make it. She followed Skuzzy through the Tor¹s heating system,

Bob: She's looking for Sigourney Weaver.
Mike: Or Bart Simpson's dog.

her hands slapping softly on the metal floor of the duct.

At last they came to an intersection.

Mike: (horrified) Oh no! An intersection! Anything but that!

³Where to?² Emi asked. ³Left? Right? Straight ahead?²

Bob: Oh, the tension! Which way shall she go? Any path could lead to certain doom!
Mike: It's like a whole metaphor for our lives? Which way are any of us going? Is there more to life than going straight ahead?

All of a sudden there was a loud bang

Mike: Nobody hunts out of season in Wisconsin. . .

as a large dent in the floor protruded inward. Emi instinctively backed up, staying silent so as not to blow her cover

Bob: Yeah, she's bangin' around in the heating ducts, someone figures out where she is and starts barging in. . . just stay silent and he'll just magically go away.

as three long golden claws stabbed through the small metal hill.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Oh no! Something that's not silver is attacking me!

Emi watched as the claws ripped away the entire panel. She had almost scooted out of reach when a hand reached up

Bob: Out of the ether. . .

and grabbed her wrist, pulling her down and out of the heating duct through the small opening left by the torn-away panel.

Mike: No! Now we'll never know which way she was supposed to go at the intersection!
Bob: How could you do this to us, Emidecimal?

³What have we here?² Megabyte sneered at Emidecimal as she struggled to get away.

Mike: Wow, she's only been gone for a few nanos and he's already forgotten who she is.
Bob: He has the short-term memory of a nullified cheese.

³Let me go, Tinbutt!² she yelled indignantly,

Mike: Emi, maybe you should quit while you're ahead.

swinging her free fist at Megabyte¹s face.

Bob: (Emidecimal) Ow! I forgot his face is made of solid steel! I think I crushed my hand!

Before she could strike, though, he caught hold of her wrist and held it immobile. Seeing this, Skuzzy dove out of the heating duct and bit Megabyte¹s ankle hard.

Mike: And broke all his teeth.

With a bellow of rage and pain, Megabyte let Emi go for a nano as he savagely kicked Skuzzy away. He rolled helplessly through the air,

Bob: Why is Megabyte rolling. . . did I miss something?

head-over-antenna, and Emi couldn¹t help but look concerned as the poor little creature crashed into the wall.

Mike: Shredding children is fine, but when you're smashing wotsits, you've gone too far.

³Blip,² Emi cried, ³pulsar ray!² but the small gun that Blip produced was taken from her.

Bob: By the repo depot.

Megabyte¹s hand clamped over Emi¹s mouth

Mike: Wow, three times in one story, someone has shut her up!
Bob: How lucky can we get?

as she tried to call Blip back, and her eyes went wide as she felt her own weapon pressed into her back.

Bob: Hey, that's dirty!

³A valiant effort at escaping, Emidecimal. Certainly creative.²

Mike: (Megabyte) No one else in the history of the world has ever tried escaping through air ducts before.

Emi, all too aware of the gun at her back, remained silent.

Both: Ewwww!

³Of course all who attempt to escape me are caught at some point

Bob: (Megabyte) Like Dot and Enzo and Frisket.

and justly punished as I see fit. But you, Emidecimal, are far too....

Mike: Smelly.

exceptional to be punished. So I am giving you the extreme honor of being the first test subject in my experiment.²

Bob: What gives? I thought we were the test subjects in his experiment.

Emi¹s eyes widened even further.

Mike: Man, they're like big, squishy paper plates stuck to her face. . .

³I am going to test the firewall on higher code than binomes, and also on code that is not shielded by the walls of ABCs.

Bob: Because the walls of ABCs prevent things from passing through firewalls?

You, Emidecimal, have both qualities, and how splendidly you do.

Mike: (Megabyte) You're so good at not being protected by the walls of ABCs. How do you do it?

You will walk through the firewall rift to prove to me that higher and unshielded code may pass through as easily. Now come!²

Mike: Hey, did you just feel that?
Bob: What?
Mike: Like Crow should have been here. . .

Megabyte began to walk away, and the increasing pressure of the gun at her back goaded Emidecimal into accompanying him as they exited the Tor.

Bob: And Emi's well-thought and carefully-crafted plan shatters to pieces.
Mike: (Emidecimal) I knew I should have thought of something to do after I got my keytool.

Outside, Emi saw Hex attached to a landed ABC that was taxiing towards the firewall. She cast a helpless glance at Emi, and Emi guessed she didn¹t know the reason she had been brought out there.

Bob: Why isn't Emi using her magic mask?

³Breach the firewall!² Megabyte ordered. Hex obeyed.

Mike: Well, that's a welcome change of pace.
Bob: What is?
Mike: Emi decided not to describe at length something that she'd already described at length.
Bob: Maybe she's sick of typing and just wants to wrap this up.
Mike: Maybe. . .

Emi knew this wouldn¹t work.

Bob: She'd read ahead.

She knew she would probably die, incinerated by the firewall and Hex¹s energy blast.

Mike: If Emidecimal's so powerful, why does Megabyte want to risk deleting her? Would it be that much of a pain to make her a new collar?

Knowing Megabyte would shoot her if she attempted escape or tried to call her keytool back, she accepted her no-win fate, closing her eyes as tears welled up in them.

Bob: Yeah, but. . . she still has the mask, doesn't she?

She felt the gun prodding her. ³Go!²

Mike: (Megabyte) Go before we leave! We're not stopping on the way!

Reluctant and determined all at once,

Bob: I see Emi went to the David Smith school of narration.

Emi stepped forward, proudly holding her head high as tears streamed down her cheeks. She began to walk toward the rift, murmuring her last goodbyes

Bob: Goodbye, boots.
Mike: Goodbye, peanut butter M&M's.
Bob: So long, plot devices.
Mike: Take care, silver deposits from around the world.
Bob: Shred a few children for me, Hex.

as she felt the flames¹ heat on her face, increasing as she came closer.

Mike: I thought it would have gotten cooler. WHAT THE HELL IS TAKING SO LONG?
Bob: Calm down, Mike, we're almost at the break. . . I can see the bottom of the page from here. . .

She held her breath as she stepped into Hex¹s energy blast and through the rift, waiting for deletion.

Mike: Considering she's the author, she's seen future echoes of herself as a woman, and that we've got two chapters to go, I'd say the chances of her being deleted are roughly zero.

All of a sudden the intense heat of the firewall began to cool and Emi realized she wasn¹t dead.

Bob: Wow, that Winterfresh gum really works!

A smile spread over her face and she felt like laughing.

Mike: She hadn't been this happy since she'd bombed that four-year-old's birthday party.

She would have jumped into the air and shouted had the gun not been aimed at her, ready to fire at any moment.

Bob: Wait a nano. . . Wasn't Megabyte trying to see if Emi could go through by herself? Why did he have Hex keep the rift open?
Mike: Remember what I said about thinking a couple days ago, and how it'll hurt more?

Just then Hex screamed and Emi whipped around to see what was wrong. ³Blip, return!² she cried, acting on instinct,

Bob: I thought Megabyte would have deleted her before she could. . . User help me, I need a break.

but as the keytool broke free of Megabyte¹s grasp and shot back through the rift to her wrist, she realized that the rift was shrinking!

Both: (unenthusiastically) Oh nooooo.

Emi charged forward,

Mike: How do you keep Emi from charging?
Bob: Take away her credit card?
Mike: Oh yeah. . . I'm really running on empty.

hoping she could make it before the rift closed. But it was too late. Screeching to a halt in front of the firewall, she saw the rift dissolve into the shifting orange flames, barring her out forever.

Bob: Or at least for the rest of the chapter.

On the other side of the firewall, Hex¹s eyes blazed furious red as they stared daggers into the fire. Her only friend, shut away from her forever now, and all because of her brother.

Mike: What about Skuzzy?
Bob: Hey, yeah, what happened to him?
Mike: He must have fallen through a plot hole or something.

Anger flared up in her cold viral heart and she knew it was time for revenge,

Mike: No, it's 6:30; it's time for Dexter's Laboratory. Revenge is at 8:00/7:00 Central.

no matter what the consequence, no matter what the pain.

Bob: Speaking of pain. . .
Mike: What sin could a man commit in a single lifetime. . .
(Mike and Bob get up and leave.)

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

(We're back on the SOL bridge. Crow, still burned and twisted, is standing by the table and fiddling with Servo. . . at least, it looks like Servo. Kinda. Basically, it's Servo's head on the body of a large female doll that's been spray-painted silver. Servo's head has a network of cracks all across it, with a large stellated crack on one side. There's a green collar around his neck and he's bathed in the blue light of an overhead lamp. Bob and Mike walk in.)

Mike: Uh, hi Crow. . . You're working on Tom, huh?

Crow: Oh, hey guys. Yep. He's good as new.

Bob: Umm, why did you put his head on that. . . .

Crow: Oh, well, ha ha, you see, I had to partially rebuild him, so --

Mike: But the only thing wrong with him was his head.

Crow: Come on! Can't I have a little fun? Anyway, he's all ready now, so do you wanna turn off this stasis field here?

Mike: What?

Crow: The light! Just pull that cord there.

Mike: Oh. Okay.

(Mike turns off the "stasis field". Servo jumps to life.)

Servo: Oh my God, what am I wearing? (looks around) Oh, hi guys. You wanna get me a mirror or something?

Bob: (pointing to the collar) Uh, what's with the collar?

Crow: Oh. Check this out.

Servo: C'mon, I have to have a mirror! How else am I supposed to --

(Crow pushes a button on his arm. Servo's head lights up like a lightbulb. There's zapping sound effects and Servo screams.)

Crow: Hey! It works!

Mike: Why did you put a control collar on Servo?

Crow: Well, I thought that I'd try and take control of the satellite before the story starts up again.

Servo: Oh, my head. . . it feels like --

(Crow zaps him again. He screams.)

Crow: Heh heh heh.

Bob: How is zapping Servo going to help you take over the satellite?

Crow: (considering) I dunno. It couldn't hurt.

(Another zap, another scream)

Mike: Would you stop that? Why do you want to take control of the satellite in the first place?

Crow: (annoyed) Well gee, I come up with this whole fun activity to do before the story, and all you two can do is cut me down! Well, let's just see if I ever try to entertain you guys again!

(Crow storms off.)

(After a beat, he comes back in.)

Crow: I almost forgot.

(He zaps Servo one last time, then leaves again.)

Mike: (fiddling with the control collar) C'mon, let's just take this off.

Bob: This is getting out of hand. I don't think we're going to make it through this one. Game Over: Emidecimal wins. Let's just call up Hexadecimal and see if we can get her to stop the story.

Servo: Oh, come on! This is nothing. You should have seen Manos.

Mike: Or Red Zone Cuba.

Servo: Or Eegah!

Mike: Or Hobgoblins.

Servo: (whispering) Mike! Continuity! We never saw that one, remember?

Mike: Oh yeah. . . umm, forget that last one.

Bob: Well, if you guys say so. . . I mean, you've been doing this a lot longer than I have. . .

Servo: Of course we have. Now, you be a good little boy and. . .

(Alarms and lights)

Servo: Movie sign!

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