A Mainframe Summer’s Nightmare
Chapter 6 – The Virus Rollercoaster
Megabyte stood in the shadows of an alley, right outside Al’s Wait and Eat. He needed energy and where else to find binomes who wouldn’t be easily missed. He had lost of lot his own energy, thanks to those infernal Matrix brothers. Brothers. The virus had to laugh. The situation was utterly ridiculous. They weren’t brothers.
THEY WERE THE SAME DAMN SPRITE!
Surely he thought those Mainframers knew the truth. And even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t matter. The Matrix family were doomed. He still had his spies and when they informed them the Guardian was now a member of the family, it only seemed to spur Megabyte’s rage. He wasn’t content in taking the lousy system anymore.
He wanted those responsible for his pain to feel it as well. It was a shame Mouse wasn’t in town. How Megabyte longed to see her…talk to her…delete her. But she would be back, no doubt about it. For now, he had to gain more energy.
A one binome staggered out of Al’s, apparently having one too many I/O shots. He was heading back to his apartment and decided to take the alley as a shortcut. Sector 31 was always dark, day or night. It was the dark section of a usually bright Mainframe and right now, the little binome found himself sloshing through the darkened alleyway.
He stopped when he thought he heard something behind him. He heard what sounded like trash cans moving. He looked around, sobering pretty quick. He took a fighting stance, ready to attack who or whatever wanted to attack him. He heard the sound again and turned around…
Only to be frightened by an alley cat.
“Stupid cat.” the binome slurred, turning back to go home.
He didn’t seem to care about the shadow that was creeping over him, until it was too late.
My, my, Megabyte thought, the binome’s energy combining with his own. It still wasn’t enough for what he planned. He knew he hit a mark when he appeared before the little girl. He could feel how scared she was and how angry the Boy would be. He didn’t want to deal with descendants. He would wipe the name Matrix from the very place he heard the name. He thought he had succeeded when he destroyed the Twin City, only to be haunted and hunted by the children of that Dr. Matrix.
Even in the worst seconds of Megaframe, the worst minutes, the knowledge that he had Dot Matrix where he wanted her was trilling enough, without the portal to the Super Computer. The loss of Bob and her brother had given him a peaceful slumber during that time…only to to give blistering pain when it was discovered Bob and the Boy had come back and with the help of Mouse sent him into the Web, never to be seen or heard from again.
But like Bob, he came back. It may have taken him hours, but he did come back. He knew that super virus wouldn’t dent them. That was his job, his right! So he waited. And wait he did, allowing those web creatures to feed off his body, allowing them to merge with him, allowing him to be stronger, bigger…
He would have his revenge on Mainframe. On the Guardian. On the Command.Com. On the Boy. And now on his Copy.
Oh yes. He would have his revenge. But first, he would need energy, then he would put his plan in action.
“So, what’re we going to do?”
The group of sprites sat around the War Room, trying to come up with ideas on how exactly to stop Megabyte. Matrix and Enzo refused to go into details about what their new nightmares would holding, but from the intense sadness and anger in their eyes, the group didn’t have to guess much what was tormenting the brothers.
“Hey,” AndrAIa replied, snapping her tan fingers. “Maybe we should fight a virus with a virus!”
“NO!” Matrix roared.
It didn’t take a genius to know they were now on the subject of Hexadecimal. The former virus was a sprite now and certainly had proved her worth over the hours. “Look, Hex may be one of us now, but I don’t think the present situation requires her…talents.” Enzo said, trying to be diplomatic about the whole thing.
Truth was, he and Matrix never really did find Hex as one of them, but they wouldn’t dismiss her “helpfulness” with various problems they had faced, especially in the war with Daemon.
“We don’t need Hex’s help.” Matrix said, folding his arms across his massive chest. “Not this time.” The room as again silent, the seven sprites desperately trying to think of a plan of action.
“We can always get Hack and Slash to watch our backs.” Enzo said. The bumbling duo did come in handy once in a while.
Everyone at the table just sat and looked at the young Guardian in training.
“Moving on.” AndrAIa replied, giving Enzo the answer to his question.
Before the group could start thinking again, a small one binome with glasses came over to stand next to Enzo. The little thing was so quiet, Dot hardly noticed him. “Yes Specky?” she asked tiredly. The little binome cleared his throat.
“Sorry to disturb you, sir, but we have someone trying to gain communications access.” he said.
“Do you know who it is?” Bob asked.
“Hey, maybe it’s Mouse.” Enzo said, his frown turning into a smile. He then snapped his fingers. “That’s what we need!” he said joyfully. “We need Mouse!”
“Well unless this thing is connected to familiar hacking, I doubt it.” Dot replied.
She then turned her attention back to Specs. “Open a line of communication for here. It could be another system asking for help.”
“From what?” Alex asked. The war with Daemon was long over.
“That is what we must wait for, my child.” Phong replied, whirling around to one of the consoles. “Dot,” he said after a nano. “Message is being patched through.”
A large vidwindow popped up cattacorner to the table so everyone was able to view it. There was nothing but blackness on the screen.
“This is Dot Matrix, Command.Com of system Mainframe.” Dot replied, leadership and respect sounding her voice. “State your name and function.”
All was quiet on the other end. Just when Dot was going to ask Phong if the message was patched through correctly, someone answered. “Come, come now.” said a familiar voice. Enzo gulped. “Have I been gone for so long you’ve all forgotten me?”
“Oh no.” Enzo muttered, panicky standing, along with Matrix.
“Oh well.” the voice continued. “If it makes you all that happy. My function is virus and my name is…” Megabyte’s face appeared in the vidwindow, the black backing causing his look to hold more evil in it than anyone had ever seen. “Megabyte!”
Alex looked at the vidwindow. So this was the infamous Megabyte. His face against the black did make him look scary. She quickly glanced around the room. Bob, Dot, and Phong all had a look of horror and shock on their faces, AndrAIa too had a slight look of shock, seeing as she never really saw Megabyte in their confrontation.
Enzo looked as though he was going to be ill and Matrix, though he tried to do his best to look like the tough renegade he’d been in the games, looked as though he would crumble as well.
“What?” Megabyte replied coolly. “Nothing to say? Not even a ‘glad you’re back, Megs.’? No ‘how was your trip’? I must say, that rather hurts me. Right here.” The virus tapped his icon, as if he was feeling hurt in an unsympathetic heart. The gesture caused both Enzos to lay a protective hand over their own icons.
“What’re you doing back in Mainframe?” Dot asked, finally snapping out of her reverie.
“Why Dot, I came back to see how you all are doing!” Megabyte responded cheerfully. “We haven’t seen each other since that dreadful web creature incident. Tell me, is your little rebel hacker around?”
“No,” Phong replied, knowing full well what the virus wanted with her. “Thank the User.”
“Well, Mouse is another story.” Megabyte replied, waving a dismissive hand as though the topic never came up. “But back to all of us. Bob, I see you’re still here, something that I’ll have to right. And Dot! Still Command.Com I see! Leading your little…Mainframers to victory against the big, bad super virus. How cute.”
His gaze fell on Phong, who stood next to AndrAIa. “Phong, you’re still processing?” he asked. “I don’t know how. Something to fix later I suppose. Ah, the lovely game sprite. Sorry you had to run, but my discussion was with…” the virus then turned his attention to his victims of late. “The Boy.” Megabyte said, with a light chuckle.
“Tell me…how is your daughter sleeping these nights?”
Matrix made a lunge for the vidwindow, but was held back by AndrAIa. “You stay away from her!” he exclaimed.
“But of course.” the virus replied, snickering as he turned his attention back to the room. That’s when he noticed Alex. “And who is this?” he asked, looking the young woman over. “Adding more rebels to your little group?”
“Don’t even think it, Megabreath!” shouted Enzo, his terror quickly turning to anger. “You keep away from her!”
Megabyte glanced towards Enzo, an annoyed and tired look coming across his face. “You again.” he sighed. “Didn’t I tell you before I don’t deal with copies!” The words he spoke just made Enzo angrier.
“I am not a copy.” he said softly, anger seeping through his voice. “I am Cadet Enzo Matrix, guardian version 4.0. Let a former power hungry shell of a virus invade my dreams and then try to destroy my family? I don’t think so.”
Megabyte seemed, if any, to be impressed by the lad. “So the little boy backup wants to challenge me? Again? We do remember the last time you tried to challenge me, don’t we?”
“What’s a matter, Meggy?” Enzo taunted. “Are you scared? You got your ASCII kicked by a copy and his brother. You can’t handle it anymore? Admit it, you little son of a null. We had you down for the count. The only way you can fight back is getting to us in our dreams.”
“Face it, Megabreath.” Matrix replied coldly. “You’re not half of what you used to be. You’re nothing.”
Megabyte’s eyes grew redder with the anger he was feeling. “How dare you…YOU…of all people say that I am nothing!?” he roared. “I held this system in my grip while you were still here, Boy! Your little act of being a guardian didn’t stop me. Your little firewall didn’t stop me. When we meet again, Boy, this system will be mine again!”
Enzo sneered at the proclaiming of the virus. “So the big, bad virus wants to take on the Matrix machine, huh?” He gave a slight laugh.
“Bring it then.” he said. ” Just bring it.”
“My pleasure.” the virus retorted.
“You will, mark my words virus, find out what trouble is.” Matrix replied.
The Enzos and Megabyte were in a ghastly death stare, until Megabyte replied, “I shall then pick a time and place. You’ll know when I’m ready. Until then, pleasant dreams.” With a click, he was gone. Silence once again gripped the room.
“Do you think that was a good idea?” Dot asked, eyes still ahead at where the vidwindow had been. Her brothers looked at her, somehow knowing that this was now their fight, to finish Megabyte for good.
“He’s not going to take this system, Dot.” Matrix said, seeing the pain being etched on his sister’s face. “Not again.”
“He deletes.” Enzo replied, an emotion of coldness emanating from his throat and his body language. “It’s as simple as that. We destroy him for good.”
“Then my children,” Phong said, sensing the fear, the anger, and the sadness that ran deep among his friends. “I fear an attack plan is in order.”
Megabyte flung his arm and a hole appeared in the darkness. How dare he? How dare that insolent little… backup…say those things to him?! Megabyte was surging with rage. He’d make those little Matrix brats pay, that’s for sure. He’d make the whole spammed city pay for what they had done to him. Megaframe would be born again. He paced, his anger and rage giving way into a plan.
It would be simple enough to get what he wanted. When he sent Bob into the Web, Dot Matrix had crumbled. Then when that little brat brother of hers and the game sprite were presumed nullified thanks to a game, her hope was shattered.
Oh, they put up a good fight, but if Mouse and the guardian and the boy hadn’t come back, he’d be sitting on a throne admiring his kingdom of Megaframe. So now, that the guardian and the commander were married and had a child, it would be easy to crush their spirits. He knew how to get the renegade riled up.
A smile came to his face. He knew how he could destroy those that tried to destroy him and keep the line of the Matrix family from descending.
“Hey, Dot.” AndrAIa replied, cheerfully, walking into Dot’s office and standing before it.
“Hi Andri.” the Command.Com feigned a smile and closed her organizer. “How’re the systematics going?”
“Fine.” the game sprite said, taking a seat on the edge of the desk. “Everything’s still in place from the Daemon War and everything’s been updated. A tweak here and there and we should be ready for anything. If it comes to that, of course.”
The last comment was meant to put an ease on the current situation.
“Of course.” Dot sighed, sitting back in her chair and staring at the ceiling. “I just never thought we’d have to use that stuff ever again.”
“I know what you mean.” AndrAIa said. “It seems like every time we get a little slice of peace, we’re thrust back into another war.”
Both women were quiet, thinking about the times of peace and the times of war. Dot had a feeling things were different this time. The same feeling she had when she first heard Daemon would be looking for Bob and Matrix. It was the fear of losing them again.
After they had fought so hard and so long to come back, they were thrust into another war. It was different, as it was different now. She and Bob were together and out of the restart she had gotten not one, but two brothers. But there was more at stake now.
She and Bob had a child. Matrix and AndrAIa had a child. Enzo, though getting close to adulthood, was still her baby brother and now he was in love with someone who was probably in love with him. Megabyte couldn’t have picked a worse time to come back from the Web.
Mouse and Ray were gone, seeking a new adventure no doubt. But they still weren’t there. Dot now had more of a family now. More than she had ever hoped for, but so many times she had come so close to losing them. Last time, she had only been able to fight Megabyte with words. This time, she wanted to meet him face to face.
Alex stood atop of the Principal Office, looking over Mainframe. The city was beautiful and she couldn’t believe it when Phong had told her it used to be encased in darkness, the whole Megaframe deal. But after the restart, which they had incredibly survived, the city was restored.
Alex saw why it had two guardians guarding it. Three, if Enzo could work it out with the Prime Guardian. If she had never been here, she wouldn’t have been able to understand why any system would need three guardians protecting it. She had even teased Enzo when he said he wanted to be the guardian for Mainframe…
“You’re kidding, right?” she asked, leaning against him.
They were breaking protocol. She wasn’t supposed to be in his dorm room at this late millisecond, but she had just stopped by to pick up some notes on a class she missed. Somehow they got around to talking about their home systems.
“I am not kidding, AJ.” he said. “When I graduate, I’m going to be the guardian for Mainframe.” She laughed, normally something that would have him at her feet, but this time it was uncalled for.
“Didn’t you tell me that both your brother and brother in law were the guardians to Mainframe?”
“Most systems are quite capable with no guardians.” she said. “Many manage pretty well with just one guardian, but two? Even three? Come on, Enz, from what you told me, Mainframe does not sound like a weak little system.”
“You wouldn’t understand.” he said, removing his arm and walking over to the window.
He had never been out of Mainframe before and now here he was, at the Super Computer. Staring out his dorm window often made him homesick. He missed everyone. He couldn’t wait for summer.
“You don’t know what Mainframe had to go through. What we’ve been through already.”
“Look, Scooter,” she said, walking over to him.
User, how he hated that nickname. He was still uncertain when and where she decided to call him that. “I know what your home means to you. I really really do, but you’re always telling me how you want to see other systems and go other places, like that search engine friend of yours. You can’t do it if you’re gonna be stuck at home forever.”
How she regretted saying those words now, especially in the wake of this Megabyte dude. When Phong told her the mini history of Mainframe, she was still unsure of how much trouble they seemed to get out of…until the virus sent them a message. She had seen Enzo mad before, nothing to write home about, but it seems when the mere mention of Megabyte the virus, he’s as bad as Matrix. Or so she had been told.
She hadn’t seen it, but pretty much believed it. That Matrix was built like a brick house and had the temper of a very angry lion, despite the claims made by everyone that he was really a pussycat. Sure. A psychotic pussycat. But still, the looks on everyone’s faces today gave her the inkling that the virus’ arrival was of total surprise and unbelievable…
Just then, something caught her eye. Something in front of her…it looked like a game had landed, but it was thinner and it wasn’t purple. She started to turn and perhaps warn everyone, when the cube turned into a building. It was odd looking, looking like a cross between a snake’s head and a claw. It was red on the outside and yellow on the front, much like the colors of a snake.
Part of her said she could go back inside and tell everyone what she was seeing. The other part, the one that was becoming much louder, told her to investigate.
Well, if I go inside and say something, they might think I’m seeing things or that it’s something they already knew about. Alex stood there contemplating on what to do.
But if I investigate, then I can come back and say it’s nothing or alert everyone to trouble.
That is if I come back.
Oh shut up
Alex decided to investigate. That’s my virus side for you, she thought. She unclipped her zipboard, hopped on, and headed for the mysterious building. Well, curiosity did delete the binome.
“Hey, sensors indicate a disturbance in G-Prime.” Enzo called over his shoulder.
He and AndrAIa had been working on the sensors and the shields, making sure that if Megabyte tried anything, they’d be ready for him. Somehow, in his effort to spend time with AndrAIa, Enzo had inadvertently learned the ways of Mouse as she passed them down to AndrAIa. He had never been one to engage in the geek sessions, but it certainly came in handy for his Systems Management class.
“What’ve you got, Zo?” AndrAIa asked, rolling her chair over to him.
“I don’t have a viz on it yet, but it kinda looked like a game cube landed, but it wasn’t purple and obviously we didn’t hear the annoying sounds of terror ringing through the city.”
AndrAIa rolled back to her own console and begin typing away. “I’ll try to see if I can get a viz on it.” she said, not taking her eyes away. “Maybe I can get a closer look at whatever’s down there.”
Dot, Bob, and Phong were quickly standing behind the two hackers in training. Dot quickly got her organizer and brought up a vidwindow to Matrix, who was over by the docks with some of the CPUs.
“Enzo, we have a disturbance in G-Prime.” she said. “I’ve got your brother and AndrAIa on it already.”
“The geeks back in session, huh?” he quipped, a smile coming to his face.
“Shut up.” Enzo and AndrAIa replied, neither one looking over to the screen.
“You want me to take some of the CPUs over and investigate, Sis?”
“Only after we find out what we’re dealing with.” Dot said.
“I got it!” Enzo exclaimed, bringing up a vidwindow so everyone could see exactly what he had.
To say the sight shocked our heroes would be an understatement.
“It can’t be.” Matrix said, staring at the screen before him.
Some of the CPUs crowded around to see exactly what he was staring at.
The Silicon Tor was back, with Megabyte in it.