(Everyone walks in -- for the last time!)

Servo: So, what'd we miss?
Mike: Not a whole heck of a lot. Emi was recaptured and Megabyte immediately sent her through to the other side of the firewall.
Crow: Why?
Mike: You know, I really can't remember.

Chapter Nine

Bob: Audience: zero.


Mike: Break it down!
Servo: No, that doesn't work.

With an empty sigh Emidecimal flopped down onto the ground beside the firewall.

Crow: (Emidecimal) Oh poo!

She stared up at the sky with blank, unseeing eyes,

Mike: Guys, I'm having some bad Eye of Argon flashbacks. . .

weakly searching her drained mind for plans,

Bob: If she's looking for plans, why's she looking in her mind?

of which she was nearly out.

Servo: (Emidecimal) I'd better fill up in Des Moines.

Then to her came the one thing she was expecting least.

Crow: A man in a chicken suit who wanted to cut off her head?

An idea.

Mike: Hey, look! Emi's trying to riff herself!

She stood up slowly, unsure if her plan would work.

Bob: (Emi) Put all white meat chicken and stuffing into one tasty pita wrap. . . it's got to work!

"Blip," she began uncertainly,

Servo: (Emidecimal) I know your father and I have been arguing a lot lately. . .

"wide field energy beam."

Pointing her keytool at the wall,

Crow: Which, all in all, she was just another brick in. . .

she saw it emit a beam of energy that created a temporary rift in the wall that held for a nano before the energy beam automatically ceased.

Bob: So her plan is to get through by trial and error.
Mike: Hey, it's served her well so far. . .

"Wide field energy beam, loop function!"

Servo: Try Wide Field Energy Beams in Regular and now new Loop Function flavor!

This time Blip's energy beam did not stop, the loop function keeping it on constant restart.

Bob: That drains the batteries so fast. . .

It blasted into the firewall, creating a rift that held.

Crow: But couldn't hold its beer.

Through it, Emi stepped into the sector,

Mike: Backwards, Emi wrote her sentences.

where her eyes met with a horrifying sight.

Servo: (Emidecimal) Hex! What are you wearing?
Mike: Don't you think that's a little much?
Servo: Hey, if Emi's going to repeat the same lame "Hex being zapped" scene or "Emi mourning over Hex" scene three thousand times, I'm going to keep using the same riffs!
Mike: Well. . . okay. . .

Hex's entire body was glowing green

Crow: (Homer Simpson) Must. . . destroy. . . human race. . . Ooo! Lunchtime!

as her collar spewed energy into the air. The collar was in a severe stage,

Bob: Stage four: denial.

strong enough perhaps to kill Hex if it kept up,

Servo: But made for a woman.

and Hex's hideous screams of agony nearly shattered Emi's glasses.

Crow: Wait a minute! Time out!
Mike: So during Emi's 6-page dissertation on her outfit she didn't think it was nessecary to mention glasses? She mentioned every decoration that was anywhere on her body but she didn't. . . oh God. . .


Bob: Why doesn't Hex use one of her own magic masks?

Emi saw Megabyte with his finger glued to the button activating the collar,

Servo: (Megabyte) When they say "Bonds instantly with skin", they aren't kidding!

smirking with pleasure. This sent Emidecimal into a passion of rage, and, without thinking,

Crow: Insert comment here.

she turned the still going energy beam on him.

Mike: (dully) Oh, the irony. Him being destroyed by the very person he'd meant to destroy.

The clang of Megabyte striking an ABC and his grunt of shocked pain

Bob: Or constipation.

came as a death row pardon to Hex. The pain miraculously left her body

Servo: Thanks to Aleve! All day strong, all day long!

as Megabyte's finger lost contact with the button. She sighed in utter relief, normalcy feeling like ecstasy as the pain ended.

Mike: And when this story's over, it will be ecstasy.

"Cutoff!" Emi commanded sharply and the energy beam shut off.

Free of the energy's pressure that held him against the ABC,

Crow: Why is Megabyte never even the slightest bit hurt by being blasted around?
Bob: He's a main character with a three-season contract.

Megabyte charged after Emidecimal, snarling.

Servo: Hey, how do you keep Megabyte from --
Mike: I did that one already. You two were gone.
Servo: Oh, sure! Just hog all the good lines for yourself, you selfish jerk!

"Yeow!" Emi, seeing this, did the one thing that came to mind first.

Bob: She put a containment field around Megabyte until she could figure out a sensible course of action?

She leaped into the nearest ABC and slammed the door shut, shutting herself away from Megabyte.

Bob: Oh, my mistake. Clearly, jumping into a more enclosed area, in this case one of Megabyte's vehicles which probably has a few of his binome warriors inside, is the perfect way to get away from him. I'm so sorry.

Ironically, the ABC happened to be the one Hex was attached to.

Crow: I didn't know ironically was a synonym for conveniently.

Hex was trying to decide if this was good or bad

Servo: (Hexadecimal) My best friend has control of a getaway vehicle, my captor is lying maimed on the ground -- could life get any worse?

when all of a sudden the ABC shuddered into life and her decision was made for her

Mike: Has she made any decisions for herself in this story?
Bob: Of course not! Everyone knows that Hexadecimal is just lost without Emi.

as they rose into the air.

"She's absconding with that vehicle!"

Servo: So Emi's word processor has a thesaurus, but no spell-checker.
Crow: What makes you think it doesn't have a spell-checker?
Servo: How could it have missed "drinken"?

Megabyte bellowed. "Seize her!"

All: Off with her head!

"Uh oh," Emi said. Not being able to mindspeak to Hex because of the interference the control collar caused,

Bob: But Emi woke Hex up by. . . no, I'm not going to think about it. . .

Emi picked up the ABC radio's microphone and spoke into it.

Mike: (Trucker) This is Chess Piece Face calling the Big Duluth, what are you doing in Wisconsin, over?
Crow: Hey, way to toy with the fourth wall.
Mike: Thank you.

"We're in trouble."


Servo: Trouble.
Bob: Trouble?
Servo: Trouble.
Bob: Trouble?
Servo: Trouble.
Bob: Trouble?
Servo: Trouble.
Bob: Trouble?
Servo: Trouble.
Bob: Trouble?
Servo: Trouble.
Bob: So we're in trouble then.
Servo: (to Mike) Can I hit him?

"Big trouble."

Bob: Big trouble?
Servo: Big trouble.
Bob: Big trouble?
Servo: Look, I'm not doing that again!

"How so?"

Crow: (Emidecimal) We're trapped in a hostile sector with our mortal enemy and his hordes of binome armies, we're driving around in an easily-tracked vehicle which he could probably self-destruct by remote, you're wearing a collar with which he can put you into a fit of agony at his leisure, and all we're getting is the country music station.
Mike: (Hexadecimal, horrified) Country music?

"No time to talk, we've got to get out of here!"

"Emidecimal--" Hex began, but was cut off as the ABC, without warning, shot forward at top speed.

Bob: Ah, who needs Season Three with its stories about Enzo becoming a man and facing his personal demons as he struggles to find a home that is no longer there? Just put Emi in the cockpit of fast death machine and watch the wackiness ensue!
Mike: Yeah, next thing you know Hex and Emi are game-hopping, they single-handedly defeat Daemon, and they save all of Mainframe from a system crash.
Crow: That would only be cool if Emi lost an eye.

As she stuggled to lift her head back up to its original position, Hex gradually started to regret eating what little Megabyte had tossed at her that morning.

Servo: (Hexadecimal) Those tin cans aren't sitting well right now. . .

Below, herds of viral binomes piled into ABCs. In nanos they were airborne, their radar scanning the skies for signs of Emidecimal.

Crow: Unfortunately, they couldn't tell one ABC from the next, and they started slaughtering each other wantonly.

One blip on the screen

Mike: (Emidecimal) Hey, how'd my keytool get on TV?

and they locked on, racing off across the sector in hot pursuit of the two fugitive viruses.

Servo: Meanwhile, Elliot Ness and his men speed towards Capone's hideout!

"Wheeeeeeeee!" yelled Emi, happily zigzagging through the air orange with the dazzling firewall glow.

Bob: (Emidecimal) We're going to get deleted! It's fun!

Hex, meanwhile, did not share Emidecimal's joy.

All: (muted trumpets) WAAA-WAAA-WAA-WAAAAAAAAA!

"Emidecimal!" she screamed in desperation as the ABC somersaulted through what felt like the thousandth loop-de-loop. "Stop! I'm going to be sick!"

All: Join the club!

"Not on my flight!" came Emidecimal's response as the ABC veered into a straight course ahead.

Crow: (Emidecimal, pilot) This is your pilot, Ms. Decimal, there'll be a slight delay in the plot as we do some gratuitous air stunts. If you'll please remain seated, the plot should resume shortly.
Mike: That's the thing this story needs -- air sickness bags.

She happened to glance at the rear-view mirror and saw the squad of ABCs approaching from behind.

Servo: It's them Duke boys! They're at it again!

"Uh oh..."

Crow: Better get Maco!

"What was that?" Hex knew that the last "uh oh" had gotten her into this and was doubtful of the second bringing any good.

Bob: Emi, pick a timeframe and stick with it. Be assertive.

"I said uh oh!

Mike: (Hexadecimal) Oh, I thought you said "Ah ha". Well, my mistake.

Can't you see the order they're in? That's attack formation!"


Servo: Wow, Emi must have been deeply in touch with all the subtle nuances of Hex's complex character to know something as deeply personal as Hex's affinity for chaos.

"Well, you do something!"

"You're driving!"

Bob: (Emidecimal) No I said, "You do something", not "Me do something".

"I'm working here, I'm working!"

Crow: (Emidecimal) Umm, I'm working on my homework! I'm not playing around with my fanfics again!

Hex turned her head as best she could to glance behind her...and noticed the ABCs' guns all simultaneously ready themselves for attack.

Mike: And now, G Prime's synchronized firing squad!


But Emi already had her plan.

Servo: (Emidecimal) I'll capture Megabyte, then I'll tear down the firewall, and I'll go home! Simple!

"Hex," she calmly instructed, "if you feel the urge to barf, swallow it."

Bob: Norton's Utilities for the Soul.
Servo: Thanks for the advice, but we've been doing it.

The ABC immediately swerved sideways, careening around the sector like a drunken 747.

Mike: You know. . . that's not too bad a metaphor. I think I'll give her that one.

Its pursuers whipped around after it, turning onto their sides as they took the hairpin turn.

Then they began to fire.

Crow: (ABC) Our company's been forced to cut back, and your department has been re-engineered out of existance. You haven't been cut because of personal merit, yadda yadda yadda, sincerely Frank Hibbert, CEO.

Showers of bullets and missiles filled the air

Bob: Ah. . . I love G Prime in the spring.

as if pouring from a hose aimed at Emi's ABC. Emi remained unfazed, dodging the projectiles expertly.

Servo: Boy, it's a lucky thing that she has a whole three nanoseconds of experience and training in the use of ABC's.

Hex stayed rigidly motionless,

Mike: As opposed to swayingly motionless, vibratingly motionless, and movingly motionless.

for fear of being hit, and trusted Emi to guide the ABC so there was little danger of that.

Crow: My parser just resigned. It couldn't take the pressure. Think you could hook me up to Magic Voice's emergency back-up?
Mike: Oh, sure. (He gets out a cord, attached one end to Crow, and takes the other end off-stage.)

But as a bullet whizzed between two prongs of her crown she, with a gasp, began to doubt Emi.

Bob: (Hexadecimal) Oh mercy! Oh heavens to Mergatroid!

The ABC suddenly stopped, then rocketed downward.

Servo: Megabyte siphoned our gas!

When Hex was sure there was only deletion at the end of the drop

Bob: They're going to die. Ho hum.

the tank pulled back and then soared back up so that it was behind the ABCs.

Mike: Text is just not the right medium for Top Gun-esque fighting scenes.

Emi readied the guns to attack and opened fire, downing several ABCs.

"Woohoo!" she cried.

Crow: (Emidecimal) Ah, the sweet blood of my enemies spilling to the ground -- I really miss this. . .

Meanwhile Hex had caught sight of a sinister black vehicle following her and Emidecimal.

Servo: <gasp> Krankor's gibblet-mobile!

She gasped as she recognized it. Megabyte's limo!

Bob: Oh no! They're being followed by a luxury car! Who can save them now?

Suddenly a metal hand lashed out though one of the limo's open windows and gripped the roof firmly.

Mike: (Megabyte) Damn, the matress fell off. Well, let's go back and look for it. . .

The hand was followed by another

Crow: Oh, hey, it's. . . oh, I thought it was Dale.

as both then proceeded to pull their owner from the vehicle.

Servo: (Megabyte) No! What did I ever do to you? Help! I don't have a parachute! I'll give you anything you want! Remember those nice gloves at the store?

Megabyte stood atop his limo, oblivious to the great speeds it and Emi's ABC were traveling at. His eyes narrowed

Mike: (singing) Now let's toast the sad cold fact. . . our love's never coming back. . . and we'll race to the bottom of a glass. . . so narrow your eeeeeeyeeeees. . . .
Crow: The obligitory "They Might Be Giants" reference, ladies and gentlemen.

and Hex's turned terrified as they met. In any other position she wouldn't worry,

Bob: Because she's actually quite an optimist.

but here, her arms and legs locked to the stasis chamber, she was as vulnerable as a binome lost on Level 31.

(Servo yawns)


Megabyte was preparing to jump.

Mike: (Megabyte) Let's see, wind speed 3 knots, adjust for the acceleration of the two vehicles, account for angular momentum, approximate force. . .
Crow: So G Prime is small enough that Emi can dash across it in a matter of a few nanos, but it's big enough so that this air chase scene can go on forever. Okay, I get it now!

Upon seeing this, Hex said something she hadn't said in nearly forever.

Servo: (Hexadecimal) Where's the Beef?
Bob: (Bart Simpson) Don't have a cow, man.
Mike: (Jimmy Walker) Dy-no-mite!
Crow: Umm. . . pass.


All: (Beatles, singing) When I was younger, so much younger than today. . . I never needed anybody's help in any way. . .

Then he jumped!

Megabyte flew through the air

Servo: (matter-of-factly) With the greatest of ease.
Crow: (incredulously) A daring young man on the flying trapeze?
Mike: (dully) His movements are graceful, the girls he does please.
Bob: And this story's got carried away!

and landed heavily on top of the ABC. Emi blinked, glancing up curiously as she felt the ABC shake.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Well, the roof's fine; I don't see why the car should be shaking. . .

A satisfied smile made its way across Megabyte's face

Servo: To Oregon for its family reunion.

as his iron fingers wrapped around Hexadecimal's throat. There was panic in her eyes as gold claws, long and sharp and deadly,

Bob: Long, sharp, and deadly! Three great tastes that go great together!

slid from the fingers of his other hand.

Crow: (Megabyte) Oops. I dropped 'em again.

He chuckled softly, a sound of molten evil. "Now you are mine," he murmured.

Servo: Oh my God. . . his sister. . . and he's saying. . . oh my God. . . AAAAAUAUUAUAAAAAUAUUUGUGUGUAUGGUAGH!

(Servo's head explodes)

Mike: Tom! Speak to me!
Bob: (muttering) And then there were three. . .

*What IS going on up there?* Emi wondered.

Bob: (Emidecimal) Are they having a party? Why didn't they invite me?

Setting the ABC on autopilot, she climbed up through the top and onto the roof.

Crow: (singing) Up on the rooftop, Emi's paws. . . out come Megabyte's sharp claws. . .

Hex's gaze nervously followed Megabyte's nearing claws.

Mike: (dully) Uh huh.

All the while she felt his grip on her throat tightening.

Mike: (dully) Yeah.

This was it.

Mike: No it wasn't.

Deletion was surely near.

Mike: No it isn't.

Emi took this in and belted three words.



Bob: So another of Emi's super powers is the ability to arrive in the nick of time.
Crow: Three words, Bob: pot, kettle, black.

Hex glanced in Emi's direction and saw the gun. She knew of Emi's intent,

Mike: (Hexadecimal) She's going to get me a tie for my birthday!

but seeing how close Megabyte was to her she screamed frantically, "EMIDECIMAL, DON'T SHOOT!"

Mike: Not since National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1. . .

Too late!

Emi fired--

Crow: (Emidecimal) I'm sorry you're being laid off, we all have to make sacrifices, yadda yadda yadda, sincerely Ms. Decimal.

The shot blasted headlong into Megabyte, the impact surprising him enough to make him let go of Hex so that he didn't take her with him when he was flung backwards off the ABC.

Bob: Creating a strong deus ex machina field.

The blast did no harm to Hex, however; she would have blinked if she could, but that was the extent of its effect on her.

Mike: Right. Okay. I guess that's for the best. Just end the story.

Emi grinned. Hex pointed.

Crow: Wow, she must be evil! The way she's pointing and everything and. . . that's rude. . . and stuff. . .

Turning around to see what Hex was pointing at, Emi saw the firewall growing dangerously nearer.

Bob: (monotone) Wow. How incredibly tense and stuff, what with how the firewall's getting closer and everything.

She darted back into the ABC and pulled it to a screeching halt.

Mike: (Bugs Bunny) Air Brakes.

Emi tapped a button on the dashboard and the locks holding Hex's arms opened.

(Everyone's stunned.)
Crow: She could have done that. . . all. . . this. . . time. . .
(Roger Rabbit) No, only when it was funny!

"Open the firewall!" Emi cried.

Bob: (Emidecimal, whining) Oh, come on, please?

One well-aimed energy blast into the firewall and a rift was created.

Crow: That's right, the laws of physics which apply to firewalls haven't changed over the course of the last three chapters.

Emi zoomed through, Hex holding onto the stasis chamber's edge as they went so she didn't fall.

Mike: Wow, she must be whippin' around like a kite if Emi's really going that fast. . .

The firewall closed behind them, leaving Megabyte locked in his own sector as his only means of escape escaped him.

Crow: See, it's ironic and stuff.

Hex and Emi were free!

Bob: With the purchase of a regular-sized Hex and Emi and in-store coupon.

Emi came to a less than graceful landing

Mike: In fact, she crashed, killing them both.

near the Principal Office, bumping along the ground and skidding to a stop.

Mike: Hey, she's driving my old '79 Monte Carlo!

She clambered up to the roof of the ABC. Using her keytool, she pried and cut open the locks holding Hex's feet,

Crow: Yeah, Megabyte could only afford a button to release the hands.

freeing her completely at last.

"Well, we did it," Emi said

Bob: (Emidecimal) Well, I did, anyway. . .

as she and Hex climbed down from the ABC. Hearing no response from Hex, she asked, "Don't you like being free again?"

"Of course, love," Hex said dazedly, then fell over.

All: (dully) Ha. Ha. Ha.

Chapter Ten

Crow: The big fat hen!

What A Scene

Mike: (singing) Soon the gypsy queen, in a glaze of vaseline, will perform a guillotine, what a scene, what a scene.

Dot looked up into the pale orange sky.

Bob: (Dot) I wonder when they're going to have that repainted.

A few wispy clouds floated by, barely noticeable. The dawn of Megaframe was inevitable without Bob,

Crow: Boy, it sure was, what with Megabyte being trapped in his sector and his only attack so far being completely ineffective!

but Dot hoped she could hold it off long enough for Bob to come back and intervene.

Mike: 'Cause, you know, she was just a dumb woman and all.

Yet her constant thought, other than Bob, was

Bob: (Dot) How do they get those big model ships into those bottles?

*How many innocents will have to die?*

Crow: -- Before Emi stops writing stories?


Dot turned to face Enzo. "What is it?"

Mike: (Enzo) It's my eye. I think I need a robotic one.

"I think you'd better come look at this."

Her curiosity aroused,

Crow: I don't want to hear about Dot being aroused after talking with her brother.

Dot followed Enzo out to the main room of the Principal Office,

Bob: The lobby?

where Mouse, Phong, and Andraia were staring at a VidWindow.

Mike: (Phong) Shhh! Our program's on!

"Dot?" Mouse looked up. "Come take a look at this and tell me what you think we should do."

Crow: Now, that can't be Mouse talking. She would have said, "Now come ovah heah an' take a look at this here little ol' window and tell us what you think we should do, y'all."

Dot came up beside Mouse and looked at the window.

Mike: Servo would have liked this scene. What with the window and all.

Her eyes flew open like out-of control window shades.

Bob: Tex Avery this is not.

The window showed a view of the area

Crow: (Generic man) Hey! Stop lookin' at my area!

just outside the Principal Office, in the area near the firewall.

Mike: In the area near the area around where the area was.

There was something Dot was not in the least expecting to see.

Bob: John Lennon juggling chainsaws?

Megabyte's two captives, one free of her collar and seemingly back to normal, the other weak and stumbling, leaning on her friend, but looking happy nonetheless.

Crow: Hex and Emi, after a night on the town!

They were laughing, delirious with the joy of being free, and as Dot peered into the window

Mike: And now, Dot Matrix's Rear Window.

she heard Emidecimal singing as the two approached the Principal Office--

Bob: Oh User help us, no.

"Oh we ain't got a barrel of----money,

We may look ragged and----funny,

But we're travelin' alonnnggg,

Singin' a sonnnggg,

Side by side!"

Bob: And the last shred of Hex's actual character vanishes into the mist.

"She's gone random," Dot concluded.

Mike: Wasn't she already?

"Wasn't she already?" Enzo cracked.

Mike: Hey!

"Mouse, we're going to have to go get them," said Dot.

Crow: Yes, destroy them while they're still weak.

"Sugah, you cain't be serious.

Bob: There's the Mouse we know and love!

Bring two vahruses into the Principal Office?"

"I am serious."

Mike: Now she's gone random!

"But Dot, why?" asked Andraia.

"Well," Dot said with a smile,

Crow: (Dot) I think it would be fun to be destroyed!
Mike: (Dot) Plus, there's a pretty good chance that she'd shred you and Enzo and prevent a lot of bad fan-written love stories.

"they just escaped Megabyte, and probably aren't on very good terms with him right now.

Bob: (Dot) Or else they're under his control and they're going to destroy us.

If I know Hexadecimal,

Mike: (Dot) And who does, really?

she'll do all in her power to destroy Megabyte or even help us destroy him. Having been in that sector, she--"

"--can give us the information we need!" Enzo finished.

Bob: Yes, all of that generic vital information.

Dot nodded. "And Emidecimal too!"

Crow: And Toto too!

"Let's go!" Overjoyed by the prospect of Megabyte's destruction, Enzo raced out of the Principal Office,

Mike: Everyone loves destruction in this story!
Bob: Sure! It's Mainframe's most popular pasttime!

followed by Andraia, Dot, Mouse, and Phong.

Crow: (Phong) Do I get a line in this story? I was thinking that, you know, since I'm the COMMAND.COM and everything, maybe it should be my decision whether or not we welcome the. . . oh, never mind.


Emidecimal suddenly stopped walking, squinting at an approaching group of sprites. "Break out the china, we've got company."

Mike: How's the turkey doing? Is the kids' table set up? I have to vacuum the living room, just have everyone throw their coats on the bed.

Enzo skidded to a stop in front of Emi,

Bob: He needs his brakes checked too.

his companions coming up behind him.

Crow: You know, the extras.

"Yeeesss?" Emi asked innocently, her eyes trained on the group, flashing briefly.

Mike: Hey, look, you came to us.

"You guys just came from Sector G Prime, right?"

Bob: No, we came from the Net. . . through systems. . . people. . . and cities. . . to this place. . . Mainframe.
Mike: Stop that.

Emi threw a glance over her shoulder at the landed getaway ABC with the stasis chamber on top. "Maybe."

Crow: (laughing weakly) Wow. Light-hearted comedy, gripping action, a breath-taking storyline. . . this story doesn't have a thing going for it, does it?

Dot stepped forward. "What he's trying to say is,

Bob: Abcedef Gijkluhmunop Crustuvwickses.

we really need help in stopping Megabyte and you two are the only ones who can help us.

Mike: Couldn't they just call up the Supercomputer and order a new Guardian until Bob gets back?

No one else in Mainframe who's not behind that firewall right now has the information you do."

Crow: Yes, all that vital information like "What's Megabyte wearing?" and "Is he still mad at us?" I mean, what do they need to know so badly?

Emi arched an eyebrow, then looked at Hex. "We could make Megabyte really sorry by doing this, but is it worth teaming up with good guys?

Bob: 'Cause, you know, all the other bad guys will laugh at them and everything.

I mean, this is the Guardian, you know, ENZO, and he--"

Hex cut Emi off. "We'd be glad to help."


Emi's frown met Hex's smirk. She patted Emi's shoulder to say not to worry.

Mike: (Hexadecimal) We'll infect the hell outta that core.

"You suppose we can, uh, go in?" Emi asked, gesturing towards the Principal Office.

Crow: Please, dear God no; they've threatened to destory the system, they might be spies from Megabyte. . .

"Oh!" Dot suddenly remembered. "Yes. Follow me."

Crow: (bursting into flames) AUAAAUAUAAAAUUUGH! I'm melting, melting! Oh what a world, all my beautiful wickedness. . . (Soon Crow's just an inanimate lump of plastic.)
Mike: (coughing) Really smoky in here today.
Bob: (muttering) And then there were two.

Emi obeyed, supporting Hex as they went.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Oww! Stop leaning on me!

They followed Dot to the armory. Grateful for the rest, Hex sat down on a nearby missile.


Emi perched next to her.

"Wait a nanosecond." Dot's warm smile plunged into a disapproving frown. "Look at you, Emidecimal!

Mike: (Dot) What are you wearing?
Bob: Wow, Mike; I'm surprised at you.
Mike: Well, Servo's toast; I figure he would have wanted it this way.

Your face is as white as Hex's!"


Bob: (Emidecimal) I've been in a prison camp for the past few days and I'm just dying of malnutrition. No biggie.

"You two don't look so good. Hex, you can barely stand!"

Mike: (Hexadecimal) Yeah, so I had a couple. . . what'sh the big deal?

"If Emidecimal drove a vehicle you were attached to,"

Bob: You'd be dead by now.

Hex replied somewhat coldly, "you would have a hard time of it also."

Mike: Someday, you will ache like I ache.

"But it wouldn't debilitate me this much! How badly did Megabyte treat you? When did you sleep? What did you eat? Did you drink anything?"

Bob: (Hexadecimal) No, we haven't drinken in minutes!

"Dot...." Enzo groaned.

Mike: (Enzo) Would you stop being so concerned for their welfare and everything?

He knew, as many times victim of Dot's overprotectiveness, just how bad she could be when it came to looking after the Mainframers.

Bob: Yeah, she never lived down that whole retirement home scandal.

"I don't know what we had to eat, I never ate it." Emi grinned.

Mike: (Emidecimal) I'm delirious with hunger. Can I eat your arm?

"Who would? And when you're Megabyte's slave you don't really pay all that much attention to sleeping or drinking or eating or much like that,

Bob: She's a fanfic author, so she doesn't bother with those details.

it's just worry of what he's going to do to you next." Emi glanced at Hex, who nodded.

Mike: (Hexadecimal) I'm not allowed to speak for myself.

"That does it," Dot said firmly. "You two are quarantined to the Principal Office until you get better.

Bob: (Dot) Just go down the hall to the guest room. It's marked "Virus Breakdown Chamber", but just ignore that.

And Hex, what IS that on your mask?" Dot reached a questioning hand out to touch the crack, but Hex pulled back, seeming not to want that spot touched.

Mike: Oh, that's her special place.

"I'd rather not talk about that, Ms. Matrix," she said in a low voice.

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

Dot gave Hex a slightly worried look, then regained her composure.

Mike: (Dot) Oh, what was I thinking? Letting two viruses into the Principle Office? I must be out of my mind!

"All right. Emi and Hex stay here.

Bob: (Dot) Just ignore the large lazer gun pointed at you and the large X you're standing on.

Andraia, find Cecil.

Mike: Whack 'im good!

Mouse, you go and see if you can find something for Hex's face.

Bob: There's some Clearasil in the medicine cabinet.

Enzo, keep an eye on these two.

Mike: Aha! Another piece of evidence for the Enzo/Eye conspiracy!
Bob: Yeah, leave weak little inexperienced young Enzo to guard the viruses.

Phong, go back up and monitor the firewalled sector as we were doing before.

Bob: (Phong) So, I don't get any lines in this story then. Well, okay, see you later. I'll be in my room. Alone. Crying.

I'll be back soon." Dot ran off down the hall.

Mike: (Dot) I've gotta get out of here before that bomb blows!

"What do you suppose they're doing?" Emi asked.

"I don't know."

Bob: (Hexadecimal) I wonder why they left us in the weapons room. Awfully trusting of them. (maniacal laughter)

They waited, Emi shooting glances at Enzo every so often.

Mike: (Enzo) Oww! Stop! Those things hurt!

At last Dot came back, holding a tray, on which were two cups and a tall metal pitcher, like the kind that held coffee or cocoa in the Userworld.

Bob: Of course, in Mainframe we use them to store caustic acids.

Mouse, Andraia, and Cecil followed, each carrying things.

Mike: Like pencils, skate keys, hoola hoops, ping-pong guns, and inflatable walruses.

Dot set the tray down and filled the two cups with hot energy.

Bob: Now, you would assume that I would think that the poison was in this cup.

Emi's eyes lit up at the sight. Dot handed a cup to her and she drank deeply,

Mike: (Dot) Drink it all; sometimes the poison's on the bottom.

then looked up to see Andraia bringing her food. Emi ate ravenously, this being her only food since the electrocution days ago,

Bob: Yeah, this story does feel like it's been going on for days.

and though Megabyte had replenished her energy it wasn't nourishing or satisfying. But this wasn't synthetic,

Bob: So what was it?

it was real,

Bob: Oh.

and Emi had never before tasted anything so good in her entire life.

Mike: She never tried my mom's macaroni and cheese then.

She glanced at Hex and saw Mouse sitting next to her, dabbing at the crack in her mask and saying "Hex, honey, this may sting a little."

Bob: (Mouse) Ah'm erasin' you with a magnet, so it might hurt jus' a little.

Emi paid it no mind, becoming tired, and as the full effects of her adventures rained upon her, she, exhausted, fell into a deep sleep.

Mike: The next morning, she'd wish she never awoke.


Emi awoke to find herself lying between the starched white sheets of a bed in the Principal Office infirmary. A million questions bubbled up in her mind,

Bob: (Emidecimal) Oh no, what am I wearing? Where can I find a mirror?

and in hopes of finding the answers, she got out of the bed and wandered down the hall.

Mike: (Emidecimal) I hate the first day of class, I can never find my rooms. . .

Suddenly Hex leapt into the hallway in front of her. "Going somewhere, Emidecimal?" she inquired, raising a rolling pin threateningly.

Bob: (Hexadecimal) Oh, wait, I thought you were AndrAIa. My mistake.

"Aieeeeee!" Emi screamed in mock terror, then burst into giggles.

Mike: (Emidecimal) I'm sorry, you just look so stupid.

Hex smirked, lowering the weapon,

Bob: And what a mighty weapon it was!

idly rolling it over her hand. "So, what have you been up to?"

"Well, I was in the process of trying to figure out where I was and why when I went looking for you."

Mike: Umm, so she was. . . when she. . .

Emi glanced up at Hex's face and saw white tape holding a bandage over the crack in her mask. "What's processing with you?"

Bob: (Hexadecimal) Those sausages I had for breakfast.

Hex tapped the rolling pin against her hand, accenting her statement with a diabolical thwack. "I was going to....make some cookies."

Mike: Maybe. . . have a bake sale.

Emi raised an eyebrow. "In the Userworld cookies are made of dough, not squashed binomes.

Bob: Oh. Thank you for that insight. Back to the story now.

We're a boring society."

Mike: (Emidecimal) We'd get arrested if we shredded children and threatened to blow up entire cities.


Hex glanced over Emidecimal's shoulder to see Dot coming out of the infirmary

Bob: (Dot) Congratulations, it's a boy!

and down the hall. "Ms. Matrix?"

"Hex, we're ready to try the experiment now and there's no time to waste.

Mike: (Dot) Let me just stop by the 7-11 for a Dove bar and we'll get around to it.

If left too long the particles could react differently and you know what that could mean.

Bob: (Dot) Our jelly donuts could blow up in the microwave.

Come on! And put that rolling pin down! I told you not to play with that!"

Mike: (Dot) And don't charge your hands up! Don't you hit me with your energy blasts again, or I'll be very cross, young lady!

Emi stared as Dot dragged Hex toward the infirmary. "Experiment?

Bob: Movies? A guy in space with four robots?
Mike: Thanks for reminding me.

Particles? You didn't tell me about this!

Bob: You never taught me the basic fundamentals of chemistry!


"I'll explain later, Emidecimal!" Hex's voice floated back down the hallway to Emi.

Mike: (Hexadecimal) I lost my voice!

Emi felt rooted to the hallway floor. A tidal wave of questions crashed mercilessly against her mind, and all she could do was stand and think, trying to sort things out.

Bob: Like her stamp collection and her baseball cards and all those ReBoot action figures that'll be worth something someday.

Then from under the door came the faint gleam of gold light, and Hex screamed.

Mike: (Dot) Well, she's done. Send in the next victi -- er, patient.
Bob: (Dot) Oh Emiiiiii. . . would you come in here? I have some lovely candy here for you. . .

Emi ran to the infirmary, but the door was closed and she dared not open it.

Mike: (Emidecimal) The sign says "Keep door closed at all times". Better not risk it.

She stood outside, waiting patiently, doubting her decision to trust Dot. What was she doing to Hex?

Bob: What wasn't she doing to her?

Then the door opened. Mouse stood behind it. "It's all raht, sugah,"

Mike: It's all rat?

she said to Emi. "Hex is all raht too. Come in."

Mike: So she's all rat.
Bob: That's no good.

Hex was sitting on one of the beds, murmuring delusionally. "Oh, my mask, my face, what have they done to me...?"

Bob: The story's looped back on itself! We're back in chapter four!

Emi ran to Hex and sat down next to her. She gently tapped her shoulder.

Mike: Dot tapped Emi's shoulder. Great. End the story.

"Emidecimal?" Hex somehow knew by the touch it was Emi.

Bob: I don't want to know why Hex knows Emi by touch.

"You okay? How're you feeling?"

"For the first time....whole." Hex turned to look at Emi, taking her hand away from her face.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Oh my god that's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Emi gasped. Her friend was the same,

Mike: Oh my god I'm so shocked you're absolutely the same.

but her face had changed so totally that Emi nearly didn't recognize her.

Bob: You look like Worf!

But as she looked closer the familiarity was clear. The solid green eyes, glowing softly,

Mike: (Emidecimal) Goodness, Hex, what green eyes you have!
Bob: (Hexadecimal) The better to see you with, my dear.

the red ruby lips,

Mike: (Emidecimal) Hex! What red lips you have!
Bob: (Hexadecimal) The better to kiss you with, my dear.

even the nose without nostrils,

Mike: (Emidecimal) And Hex! What a nostril-less nose you have!
Bob: (Hexadecimal) I know. They forgot to put some in. I'm suffocating! (makes choking noises)

molded into the mask. But there was change.

Bob: $1.67 to be exact.

It was like going on to middle school and coming back in the summer before high school to visit elementary school.

Mike: I don't know. . . the story hasn't been that long.

She swallowed,

Bob: Hasn't done that in a while.

tilting her head slightly and staring.

Mike: (Emidecimal) Ick! What is that thing? Should I tell her about it?

The green half-oval eyes were whole ovals now, accented at the top by long black eyelashes that fluttered gently when Hex blinked.

Bob: Wait a nano, Hex doesn't blink!

Her eyebrows were a bit thicker and had an odd sheen to them.

Mike: Her acne was more prominent and it shone in the sun.

Her face appeared a tiny bit thinner, and her mouth twitched a little, hinting at a smile.

Bob: Pssst! Smile comin' up!

"You've...got a face!" Emi breathed, awed.

Both: You don't say!

Hex smiled, and this time it was not a jump from mask to mask but a smooth transition as her lips curved upward.

(Bob twitches noticably.)

Emi laughed, and echoed the smile.

Mike: The End.


(Mike starts weeping softly.)
Bob: It's okay, Mike. Why don't you lay down; I'll finish this up.
Mike: Okay. (He curls up on the floor of the theater.)
Bob: <sigh> So cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and a flight of angels sing thee to thy rest. And then there was one.

Days had passed,

Bob: Generations came and went.

and Emidecimal was bored.

Bob: (Emidecimal) I can't wait for child-shredding season to start up again.

Though she and Hex had given plenty of information to Dot, Enzo, and their crew,

Bob: Oh yes, that oh-so-vital information like how much parking costs and where the best hotels are.

no attacks had taken place yet. Phong and Dot were arguing over whether it was better to attack or do a sector release,

Bob: (Phong) We should just release them and be done with them once and for all.
Bob: (Dot) No, we should take down the firewall and put hundreds of people at risk to do a futile attack on Megabyte's home territory. (normal) That was really weird.

and Emi left the room to go exploring.

She walked down the hall aimlessly until she saw sunlight streaming from an open doorway.

Bob: (Emidecimal) Oh no, I forgot I'm a vampire! AAAAAAAAAAA!

Entering, she found herself in a big room, with a large bay window directly across from her. Two tall green armchairs with a table between them sat in the center of the room.

Bob: Suddenly we're in Zork.

Hex was sitting on one of the chairs, gazing thoughtfully out the window.

Bob: (Hexadecimal) I wonder who's on Space Ghost: Coast to Coast tonight. . .

"Fancy meeting you here." Emi grinned.

"Where else would I be?"

Bob: Down the hall, hacking into the core and destroying it.

She whipped out a tray as if from nowhere. "Biscuit?"

Bob: Crickey, Blinky! I do believe they've stolen your line!
Bob: (Blinky) Again, sir?
Bob: (normal) I've got to stop doing both parts of the conversation.
Bob: Yes you do. I think it's starting to have an effect on you.
(Bob convulses again)

"Certainly, thank you." Gladly accepting, Emi sat down in the big green armchair across from Hex, who set the tray of biscuits on the table. "Want me to make some tea?" Emi offered.

Bob: And now, the stirring conclusion to Day of the Decimal! See, 'cause it's tea and it's stirring! You get it! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

"Way ahead of you." Hex smirked as she pulled out the teapot and two cups, filling each with tea. "Sugar, Emidecimal?"


"Yes please."

"Don't overdose."

Bob: Don't read this whole story at once. It could be fatal.

"Cream for you?"

"No thank you."

Bob: (Whoever) I'm driving tonight.

After this the two sat back in their armchairs, sipping their tea.

(Bob chuckles disturbingly)

Emi raised her cup. "Whaddya say?

Bob: (Emidecimal) Into the sauna?

To us?"

Hex raised her cup also, tapping it lightly against Emidecimal's. "To us."

Bob: Stirring! (Starts chuckling disturbingly)

"Friends forever."

(Bob can't stop laughing. The screen goes blank -- all that can be seen is the silhouette with a white background. Then the projector stops and the screen goes totally black.)

(Cambot pans down to the row of theater seats, where the husks of Crow and Servo still sit in their seats and Bob is laughing like a madman. It degenerates into violent coughing, and as he catches his breath, he notices that the transmission is over.)

Bob: I did it! I actually did it! It's over! (Turning toward Cambot) I beat you Emidecimal! You thought that ten chapters would bring me down, but I'm too tough for you! I'm the User! I'M THE USER! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

(Bob collapses into his seat)
Bob: (moaning) I saw all the frightening scenes. . . why isn't my memory being erased?

(At the left end of the row of seats, Gypsy pops up.)
Gypsy: Hi guys! I just got back from my day off! It was wonderful! I took the time machine back to Earth, and the Sci-Fi Channel was showing a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea marathon, and then I went to the convention, and I got to meet Richard Baseheart! <sigh> I'll never wash this optical sensor again. So, how was your day?

(Bob moans softly)
Gyspy: Oh! You look like you could use a vacation.
(Bob groggily looks over at Gypsy, points meaningfully at her)
Bob: (softly) Stirring. (Starts laughing insanely again.)
Gyspy: (shaking her head) Oh dear. (To Cambot) Well, what do you think, uh, ma'ams?

(Back in the spaceship. Megabyte is bound and gagged with strange, green, glowing cords. Pearl and Hexadecimal and sitting in big, fluffy chairs and sipping tea.)

Hexadecimal: . . . so I ground him into the pavement under my heel! (laughs) Was his face ever red!

(The ladies share a good laugh. Pearl sets down her tea and addresses the monitor.)

Pearl: Know what I think? I think I'm headin' to Emi's homepage. Another couple stories like that one, and you'll be gone for good!

Hexadecimal: And those are just the stories that Emi wrote. There are quite a few stories about her that were written by her fans, too.

Pearl: You know, Hex?. . . Can I call you Hex?

Hexadecimal: (Annoyed) No.

Pearl: You know, Hex? This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Hexadecimal: I agree. You must look me up the next time you're in Mainframe.

Pearl: (confused) The next time. . . what?

Hexadecimal: I've got to be going. I've got some. . . cookies to make! (wicked laughter)

Pearl: Yeah, but. . . you and me, we were going to. . .

Hexadecimal: Oh, and I almost forgot. (She waves her hands. Megabyte's bonds vanish.) There you are, dear brother. Don't say I never did anything for you. (Tone of voice used only with Emidecimal) Buh-bye! (With that, she zips through the portal that vanishes almost as soon as it appears.)

(Megabyte gets up and looks at Pearl, his eyes narrowing.)

Pearl: (panicked) Well, you see I. . . because she was, . . . and. . . umm. . .

(Megabyte's claws come out with that trademark *SHING*. Pearl makes herself scarce.)

Megabyte: (turning to the monitor.) You'll be glad to know that I'm not going to send you Twisting Spectre as previously planned. I'm in a much worse mood now, so I'm sending you a much worse fic! It's a Jurassic Park/ReBoot crossover full of dinosaurs and mindless violence. (pulling out a 3.5" floppy) It's called Raptor Byte and it's by a Mr. . . Ian Servo. Enjoy.

(Megabyte's laughter fills the air as the credits fade in.)

Credits Roll...