1SEND ME AN ANGEL

I don't own ReBoot; all characters are property of Mainframe Ent. I just like to play with them.

This is Bad...

Alarm claxons blared out in the Principle Office, warning its hapless inhabitants of an incoming Game. Sure enough, half a nano later, the dreaded female voice spoke, rolling over the splintered and degrading system. "Warning: Incoming Game. Warning: Incoming Game."

Dot Matrix was sitting behind her scorch-marked desk when the warning came. Her heart constricted, and a fierce wave of exhaustion broke over her as Mouse came skidding into the room, looking urgent.

"Come on, Sugah. Let's go!" And she turned around and began sprinting out of sight. Dot sighed and automatically followed the violent orange hair out of the office.

This was the third Game that had dropped since the one that had nullified Enzo and AndrAIa. No one had thought about the possibility of more Games dropping after Enzo's defeat. When it had finally happened, Dot and Mouse had stared at each other for a split nano, terrified, before Mouse had grabbed her and dragged her out of the Principle Office and into the Game.

Now, Dot felt numb as she sprinted to catch up with Mouse. She knew the drill: run quickly, act brave, win the Game, accept the weak congratulations, then go back to hiding in her office. She was the leader. She had to be strong for everyone else, even though she had long since given up. Mouse's footsteps halted at the exit to the Principle Office, and Dot turned the last corner and caught up with her. They gave each other a last look and activated their zipboards as one and flew towards the deep purple monstrosity descending into a nearby sector.

Dot had lost all feeling concerning the Games. After the first one, she had seriously considered instructing everyone to ignore the Games and simply evacuate the sector affected. But then, lost Games would only destroy Mainframe faster than Megabyte could. As much as she hated the Games for stealing her little brother from her and reminding her of Bob, she knew they had to be fought and won. She just didn't like it.

Dot looked up to watch as the Game dropped over them in midair, remembering how the instinctive terror of Games had been abetted when Bob had been here. He had always taken care of the Games without ever seeming to fear them. Of course, most of his courage had only been his natural devil-may-care attitude towards life, but he was still incredibly brave...in a show-off, impress-the-girls kind of way.

The Game swallowed her up and continued its descent to the floor of the sector. Dot blinked and found herself staring at a huge castle surrounded on all sides by at cold moat. It was raining.

Mouse was shaking her head. "We're in for it, love. I've seen this Game before. It's called Wizards and Warlocks."

Dot forced herself to apply her mind to the task at hand. "What's so bad about that?"

In answer to her question, a large dark-robed wizard came streaking past on a broomstick, wand drawn. Red flames shot from it, and Dot and Mouse ducked to avoid them. The sparks raced past them, burning sizzling holes in trees behind them.

"I see what you mean," Dot yelled to Mouse, ducking more sparks and trying to see what the User was doing. Flying magnificently, the User swept upwards on his broom, entering the castle through a broken window above the main entrance.

They straightened up, a bit shaken. "We have to beat the User to the upper level of the castle and find the Wand of Enlightenment. But we have to really careful." Mouse pointed at the castle. "It's a right maze in there, and there's all sorts of enchantments and spells at work. Best to stick together and be on the lookout."

"All right then, let's go for it," Dot said tiredly.

"Reboot!"

"Reboot!"

Dot blinked as the green light fell away from her and she found herself looking at Mouse, who was now wearing a black robe and carrying a wand. Her hair was pulled halfway away from her face, and had turned blonde. Dot raised her eyes in surprise. Mouse pulled a stray lock of her new hair up to her eyes and examined it. "Well, that's a change," she announced, flinging it back and looking over Dot's outfit. "You got some nice hair yourself."

She grabbed at her own hair, only to find that it had retained its jet-black color, and was now in a long braid that fell past her waist. She fingered it thoughtfully, remembering how she had worn her hair as a young child. She hadn't had it long since.

Letting go of her braid and turning towards the castle, Dot saw something orange and fiery zoom past Mouse's left shoulder, burning a hole in the drawbridge.

Mouse whirled around in surprise. Her eyes grew wide and she pointed. "Dragons!"

Dot began running towards the castle, casting a look over her shoulder. There were three of them, big ugly flying brutes, and they were closing in. Dot and Mouse hit the door at the same time and pulled angrily at the heavy handle. It didn't budge.

"Just great," mumbled Mouse, who began fumbling for her wand. "Get your wand out and hold those things off until I can open this door!" she commanded.

Dot found her wand and held it up, her fingers sweating. She wasn't sure what she was supposed to do, but as the dragons closed in, gnashing their teeth and breathing more fire, a spell jumped to mind, "Extinguish!"

To her surprise, the dragon's fire breath went out immediately, one in mid-blow. Dot turned to Mouse. That was almost too easy. "They can't breath fire anymore, but they're still coming," she said.

"I know. I'm workin' on it, Sugah." Mouse flicked her wand at the handle. "Unlock!" Nothing happened. Dot looked over her shoulder at the dragons. They were huge and menacing-looking, even though they couldn't breath fire anymore. One of the dragons, a brilliant white, landed on the ground not far away and began clawing at the ground. The other two snarled and roared angrily, closing in from above. Why wouldn't Mouse's wand work? Desperate for more time, Dot brandished her wand again, willing another spell to work.

"Vanish!" shouted Dot. Her wand emitted sparks, but they only seemed to irritate the dragons further. The white one roared angrily, gnashing its teeth, and lept forwards.

Dot backed up against the castle door. "Mouse, come on!"

"I'm tryin', honey!" All the same, Mouse cast a fearful glance over her shoulder.

Dot swallowed and pointed her wand again, praying with all her heart. "Vanish!" Again, nothing but sparks. The white dragon reared up, preparing itself to tear the two hapless sprites to shreds.

Mouse spun around and looked up at the monster. "Come on, lets try together!"

Dot raised her wand with Mouse, shrinking back against the door. The dragon clawed wildly at the air, screaming and shrieking. It dropped forward.

"Vanish!"

There was a loud crack, and the dragons vanished. Dot gasped for breath, sagging against the heavy door for support.

"I hate this Game!" said Mouse, turning back to the door, exasperated. Dot looked at her. "Last time I was in this Game I was in the Supercomputer, and it was in a test simulation minutes ago." She flicked her wand again, muttering "Open." It didn't work. Mouse sighed and continued in a sort of edgy, hardened voice. "Guardians have a program where they can play new Games before they go out on the Net so they can catagorize them and train their cadets to win them.

"This Game," she kicked the door, "was the worst one they ever saw. See, it's never the same twice, and there aren't any rules. Anything can happen, and it's fair play. My wand doesn't work now, but a few nanos it might, and yours won't. Or they both won't work. We might get to level three, go through a door and be on level one."

Dot nodded. "So I've noticed. At this rate, we're not even going to get past the first level. Let me try." Praying it would work, Dot raised her wand to the door handle. "Enter." Obligingly, the door creaked open, and a musty smell came pouring out.

Mouse wrinkled her nose, jerking her head a bit. "Nice," she said, and lead the way into the castle. The pair turned from the door and began jogging across the empty hallway towards the only staircase visible.

A nano later they were pounding up a spiral staircase that seemed to have no beginning and no end. Somewhere in a distant part of the castle, Dot heard a shriek and a belated image of a gigantic spider descending down a staircase above her shook her.

Mouse noticed her shudder. "What's wrong?"

Dot took a deep breath, craning her head upwards to see if there was an outlet soon. There wasn't. "It's just these Games, Mouse. Enzo always thought they were fun...and some were. But I never felt safe in a Game unless...unless Bob was there. I guess they just remind me of what I've lost..." Dot looked around at the stairwell, a familiar aching sensation swelling inside of her.

Mouse put her hand on Dot's shoulder. "I know this is hard for you, love." She stopped abruptly. Dot turned too see what had caught her attention. Mouse was looking out into the darkness in the middle of the stairs, where a large wooden door had suddenly appeared, revolving in mid-air.

Their conversation was abruptly terminated. "Come on!" shouted Mouse, and she promptly dived out into midair. Her body hit the door and vanished.

"Mouse!" shrieked Dot, horrified. She stared at the spot, willing Mouse to reappear. The door continued to rotate silently in mid-air, as if daring her to jump.

She shouted again. "Mouse!" Her voice echoed mockingly up the chilly shaft. Angry, she turned back to regard the door. If she didn't go through it, the door might disappear, and she'd have no chance of getting to the second level. And besides, if Mouse's wand continued to refuse to work, she'd be deleted. There was nothing else for it. Taking a deep breath, Dot threw herself towards the door.