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Welcome to Mainframe by SpelCastrMax

Author's Note: Who actually reads the author's note?  And what's with
ravens anyway?  Why are these "nevermore" birds constantly being
compared with writing desks?

AND JUST FOR LEGAL REASONS: The last couple of lines of dialogue aren't
mine.  I stole...I mean barrowed them from REBOOT THE GAME.


                          THIS SPACE FOR RENT



LAST WEEK ON REBOOT: Bob and Dot work together to defeat Megabyte for
the first time just before the cadet is caught by Turbo.  I have nothing
funny or witty to say here.


Chapter 4: Back at the Super Computer
(In Which a Moral is Probably Snuck into the Story Somehow)



Back at the academy, both Zero and Bob were put on suspension.  Carden
surprisingly wasn't punished for his little excursion to help his
roommate.

The cadet wasn't quite sure what to do with himself.  He'd wander
around the school with new determination and would actually study.  Molly
wanted to take him into a diagnostic program to have his head examined. 
Bob still had the letters from Enzo, but it wasn't long before they
came less regularly.

He was in the library staring numbly at a readme file when a purple
sprite with bright red hair crept in.  She wore a sword at her side which
she pointed in his back.  The sprite commented, "Sugah, you sure aren't
very alert.  You look twice as blue as usual."
"Go away, Mouse," he said glumly without looking up.
Mouse sighed and muttered, "I know I'm gonna regret askin', but what's
wrong?"  She sat down next to him at the long table.  "You look like
you just had your heart broken.  You're not even tryin' to stop me. 
Usually, you're the first one hunting me down."
"I said leave me alone, Mouse," he grumbled focusing more intently on
the file in his hands.
Mouse stole it and choked, "You're studyin'?!  You can't be the real
Bob."

He snatched the file back.  "I have to get a high score on my final."
She blinked at him a couple of times.  "You're really serious 'bout
this."  Mouse thought for a moment and added, "You know, Bob, I could
always steal the answers...for a price."
"No thanks, Mouse.  I'm in enough trouble as it is."  He finally
allowed himself to smile.

Knowing that was the end of it, Mouse got up and left.  Winking at
him, she said, "See ya later, Sugah, and good luck."  Bob reached up and
patted her shoulder as if to say thanks.  When she was gone, he revealed
the disk of Super Computer data he had taken from under her sleeve. 
Sometimes you didnít need to hunt down the Mouse.

The time of finals arrived.  Bob and Carden took their tests without a
word between them.  Every cadet was nervous.  It felt like seconds
passed as they all filled in little bubbles on a sickly colored sheet, then
moved onto the physical portion of the test to check on game
techniques.

When it was over, they all filed into the halls of the academy to
await the posting of the grades.  They chewed on their nails and paced a
little.  The vid window announcing the newest guardians at last appeared
on a wall and Bob was the first one to read it.  He let out a loud
shout of triumph as he read that he was the ninth highest score; he was now
Guardian 452.

************

Bob wasn't sent to Mainframe as he had hoped, yet neither was anyone
else, which cheered him up almost completely.  His first jobs around the
Super Computer were easy things like winning games, stopping Mouse from
hacking into the core, and giving inspirational speeches to young
sprites.

"And this, kids, is a chaotic virus.  They are highly unstable and
random.  Steer clear of them at all costs," he told the wide eyed school
group, then nodded for someone to change the slide appearing on the
screen behind him.  "Next is the mysterious cron virus.  A cron's function
is only to destroy.  However, the chance that one would ever overtake
the Super Computer is highly unlikely."
Molly interrupted the presentation and whispered, "I'll take care of
this.  Turbo wants to talk to you."

Bob thanked her and went to the Prime Guardian's office.  Turbo stood
behind his desk, motioning to a chair.  Bob took a seat and awaited a
lecture or boring pep talk.  He waited, but Turbo's voice remained
neutral.

"This petition was brought to my attention," the Prime Guardian said
holding out a file, "It states that without the help of a certain cadet 
a system would be under the control of a certain virus.  This petition
is asking for this cadet to return and be their permanent guardian." 
Turbo paused to see if Bob understood, but the young Guardian's face was
blank.  "You have some good friends, Bob.  And so, I appoint you,
Guardian 452, your first post."
Bob's eyes nearly fell out of his head.  "You mean I'm going back to
Mainframe?"

Turbo nearly laughed as he nodded.  "Ms. Matrix seemed to have gone to
a lot of trouble to make sure you came back.  If you want the post,
it's yours.  But you have to leave right away."

Bob jumped out of his chair and dashed from the room.  He returned
only to shake Turbo's hand and blurt our an excited, "Thank you, sir."
Carden and Molly helped him pack and when they were done no one would
have ever known Carden had even had a roommate.  Bob's friends said
goodbye and gave him something (which one of them had run out to buy when
they heard their blue buddy was leaving).  Wrapped in silver paper was
a picture of the Super Computer along with the words "Home Sweet Home". 
Turbo wished him luck and a couple of the instructors seemed pleased to
have 452 out of their hair.  They watched Bob except the gift from his
friends with a smile, then step through the large bubble without
looking back.  The portal ended in the Mainframe Principal Office.
Bob felt himself grin, then the smile faded as an excited, "BOB!"
echoed throughout the room.  He felt himself being pushed to the floor and
stared up at Enzo.

"I knew you'd be back!  Dot's petition worked.  This is so cool.  Now
we can go jet balling and I can show you all of Mainframe! 
Alphanumeric!"
"Enzo," Bob said good naturedly.
"Yeah Bob?"
"Could you get off me?  I need to report to the Command.Com."
"Oh...sorry, Bob," the kid said jumping up.
The blue sprite rose from the floor and walked forward a little. 
Phong zipped into the room.  "Guardian Bob.  Good.  Good.  I shall tell the
Command.Com you have arrived. Young Matrix can take you to your
lodgings."

They zipped outside.  Every sprite they passed would stop to shake
Bobís hand.  Enzo took him into a sector called Kits where an apartment
building stood.  A giant 8 ball rotated on top to create some kind of
memorable landmark for lost tourists.

From one of the nearby buildings, Dot Matrix stepped out, too busy
checking the data from a handheld screen to notice she was walking
directly into Bob.  "Oh, sorry," she sincerely told him as she put away the
organizer.

"Oh, no problem," Bob said, a little shy.  He coughed nervously and
stuttered, "I...uh...thanks for...um, writing to Turbo...and..."
"Don't mention it," Dot replied lightly.  As an afterthought, she
said, "But if you ever lie to me again like you did with that
cadet/guardian thing I'm kicking your bitmap."

Bob fell into an ease when he saw how she was casually teasing him. 
"Why did you petition for me to come, especially after I lied to you?"
Dot began walking into the apartment building, talking over her
shoulder.  "Well, I figured anyone would be better than Zero."
"Oh."  Bob was a little disappointed, unsure of why since he wasn't
sure what he had been expecting her to say.

Enzo, Dot, and Bob reached his floor and as soon as they stepped into
the door a yellow television set jumped out in front of them.  "We're
here to welcome our new defender of the system, Guardian Bob!  Would you
like to say a few words for the loyal citizens of Mainframe?"
"Not now, Mike," Dot told him warningly.  The TV stopped talking as
the sprite turned apologetically to Bob.  "Phong thought you would want a
roommate.  He probably won't be here all of the time.  He likes to
travel about the city and...entertain us all."  She paused to rethink her
words.  "Okay, so annoy us is more like it."
"Now that you're here, what do you want to do?!" Enzo asked with hopes
of playing games or listening to exciting stories.
"I think I'll just get settled in," Bob told him, setting down his
travel case on the couch.

Dot grabbed Enzo's arm, saying something about work to do.  Meanwhile,
the little boy waved eagerly.  "Bye Bob!"  He turned to his sister and
loudly stated, "See, I told you heíd come back!"

The Guardian unpacked.  While doing so, Mike the TV babbled endlessly
about different useless products and bad sitcoms.  Finally, Bob
discovered Mike's remote control hiding in a drawer and shut the obnoxious
appliance off.  He was almost looking forward to just relaxing and
exploring his new post.

As Bob floated by shops and homes, he found himself comparing it all
to the Super Computer.  "Great!  I work so hard to be posted someplace
and all I can think about is home.  Sheesh."

He rode his zipboard to the sector named Bawdway where the diner he
had seen Megabyte's minions destroying the last time he'd been there. 
Now it was finished.  Dot's Diner, or at least that was what the letters
attached to the roof said.  A banner hung over the doors reading "Grand
Opening".

Enzo was playing outside with his puppy, tossing a string less yoyo
for the dog to try and catch it.  Bob was about to greet he little sprite
when an blast from Hexadecimal's island and her angered scream spread
over the city.  "Megabyte!!!"

"Oh man, those two are always fighting," Enzo commented, then noticed
Bob checking his keytool, "What are you doing, Bob?"
"Scanning for disturbances."  He shook his head slightly to keep from
laughing.  His first day on the job and already the city was covered
with tears, the viruses were battling, and he reacted immediately to fix
it all.  Living in Mainframe was going to be interesting.

On to Chapter 5...