"This is a fine diner, Dot," Spitbite seated himself at a nearby table and propped his cane beside him, "a real fine diner."
"Thanks," Dot smiled. "What would you like?"
"I'd fancy a glass of WINE, but then again I doubt that you serve that here."
"No, sorry," Dot waved Cecil over to their table. "Would an energy shake do instead?"
"Sounds delightful," Spitbite smiled. "I'm so famished that I'll take anything."
"Three energy shakes, please." Dot told Cecil, the square shaped monitor waiter that dangled from the diner's ceiling.
"Very good, ma'am, ze orders weell be right out." said Cecil, giving the newcomer a strange and silent look before going off to get Dot's order.
"Ah! I see you are admiring my cane." Spitbite said, noticing Enzo's curiosity for the first time. Enzo had been staring at Spitbite's cane ever since the elder sprite placed it in-between them. Spitbite picked it up and placed it on the table in front of them.
"It's a nice looking cane, sir," said Enzo. "I've never seen anything like it."
Spitbite casually waved the comment off. "It's just an old worthless relic that I found while I was game hopping. As far as I know, it's useless aside from being fashionable." He placed his right hand on his monocle and peered closer at the crystal on top as he spoke, as if he'd seen it for the first time.
"It looks rather interesting," said Dot, running her green fingers over its smooth, polished surface. A tingling feeling went through her at touching it, and she quickly took her fingers away, not letting her feelings show. Or at least she had hoped her feelings hadn't shown. When she looked up again, she was taken back when Spitbite met her gaze. It was as if he had been watching her to see how she would react. "And it's certainly beautiful and unique." she added quickly, taking her eyes away from his. Had he noticed her reaction?
"Yes, it is," Spitbite ran his fingers down it too and chuckled a little. "That's one of the reasons why I claimed it. Wish I could find out its past, though."
"Alphanumeric!" Enzo blurted out. "Wonder if it holds some kind of secret? Or better yet, wonder if it's some kind of secret weapon? Wonder if that crystal on top holds some kind of unknown power? Dude,"
Dot couldn't help but look at Enzo in surprise, and a little bit of horror. She wanted to say something, but Cecil came up beside her with their orders and started passing the energy shakes around the table. She was glad for the diversion. What she was about to say might have offended Spitbite. She wasn't sure yet if that was a good thing to do. In fact, she was beginning to think that Bob was right in his suspicions about this guy. What she had felt when she had touched the cane wasn't right. And Spitbite's interest in her reactions was definitely unnerving. Was he telling the truth or lying? He seemed so nice and believable, but yet he was a bit scary at the same time. Enzo didn't think anything was wrong with Spitbite, that's for sure. While lost in her thoughts and oblivious of everything around her, Dot eyed her little brother as he sipped his shake and jabbered on about something or other with the stranger.
"Isn't that right, Dot? Dot?" Enzo's voice brought Dot back to reality.
"I'm sorry, were you saying something to me?" Dot shook her head and reached for her shake.
"Dot, are you okay?"
"Yes, Enzo, I'm fine. I was just thinking about something, that's all." She glanced over at Spitbite, who was drinking his shake without a straw. He had taken the lid off and placed it along with the straw over to the side. "What were you saying?"
"I was just telling Spitbite about the diner—how you bought it and opened it up shortly before Dad's accident."
"Yes," said Dot, and refused to say more. She hadn't wanted to be reminded of their father or the other city, especially not now. She immediately felt a few tears form in her eyes at the painful memories, but she quickly blinked them away before Enzo or Spitbite noticed. Why was Enzo even brining up all of this and telling it to a perfect stranger? Then again, that was Enzo. He could ramble on for hours on end about nothing and everything, and rambling on about it to a wall. But apparently Spitbite had asked Enzo about the diner. Spitbite was starting to make Dot feel very uncomfortable. Why did he want to know about it, and why does he appear so interested in everything?
A sudden bang brought everyone in the diner to attention. Dot, without even thinking, shot up from her seat, while Enzo and Spitbite jumped and turned their heads toward the direction the sound had come from.
"What in the net was that?" said Enzo.
At first they didn't see anything, but then Bob lifted himself up off the pavement just outside the diner, placing his hands on the front window for support. He was in the process of rubbing his head, his face, his nose, and whatever else throbbed. He limped to the diner's front doors and pushed them open, nearly coming close to falling forward through them.
"My gracious," Spitbite breathed, a tad concerned at the sight.
"Bob?" Dot said aloud before rushing to his side and placing his left arm on her shoulder. Cecil came up to them to help too. "Bob, are you alright?" She helped the blue skin sprite inside and over to their table.
"Yeah, I think so," Bob cringed in pain as he slid into the booth Dot had been sitting in. "Enzo, you are seriously going to have to do something about Frisket. He jumped up and snatched my zipboard out from under me and sent me flying into the diner window."
Dot had to fight back a giggle. She noticed Spitbite taking another sip of his shake to hide a laugh as well.
"No problem, Bob," Enzo said with a slight laugh. "I know it won't do any good, but I'll try."
"What does that dog have against me, anyway?" Bob looked at Dot in a pitiful way. Dot smiled before sliding in beside her friend. She felt safe now that Bob was here, even though she kept her feelings to herself. Bob turned his head and his gaze fell on the cane lying on the table in front of him. He paused a minute, and then turned to Dot and smiled.
"Nice cane," he said, turning to Spitbite. "Mind if I take a look at it?"
"Sure, go ahead."
Bob picked up the cane and turned it over and over in his hands, looking over every inch of it. Dot couldn't believe he didn't feel what she had felt.
"Certainly interesting," Bob placed the cane back on the table.
"I was just telling your friends earlier that it's an old worthless piece I picked up while in the games and traveling from system to system."
Bob nodded. Without warning, Cecil came up to the table and pushed an energy shake into Bob's face before moving on. Everyone watched as the irritable waiter hurriedly swiped empty tables with the cloth in his hand. Bob looked at the drink in his hands and then to Dot seated beside him.
"O-kay. What was that all about?" he said with a chuckle. He placed the shake onto the table and turned his attention back to Spitbite. "What are you planning to do now that you're in Mainframe?"
Spitbite leaned forward on the table and placed his hands on his cane. "I don't know, exactly. I guess I'll stay here for awhile and sightsee a bit. Then catch the next game that falls. I'm a wanderer, really. I can't stay in one place very long."
"Dude, are you really going to go back into the games?" Enzo asked.
"I suppose so. It's the only way I have of traveling." Spitbite sounded a bit sad.
"How is it that you can travel through games?" asked Bob, taking a sip of his energy shake.
"I don't rightly know. The first time I became stuck in one, I was scared that the same thing that happened to my older brother might happen to me. But for some reason I survived through it and was carried off by the game instead of being left behind. The next thing I knew I was traveling far from my home. When the game landed again, I was no longer in my system, but was in some other system—a system not known to me. From that point on I was determined to find my way home, but found it to be harder than I could have ever imagined. You would not believe how many systems there are out there. Finally, I decided to give up. And after that, I've just considered myself a wanderer—someone who has no true home, but travels from world to world."
"You can stay here with us!" Enzo said excitedly. "This can be your home."
Spitbite smiled at the child beside him. "Thank you for the offer, Enzo, but I doubt anyone here would want an old sprite like me. What could I do here? I'm not gifted with the skills to get a job."
"I'm sure there's something you could do. You might be able to work for Old Man Pearson down at the Data Dump. Then again, working with him can be a major pain in the bitmap. He can be really grumpy sometimes."
Enzo turned his eyes to Bob. The Guardian shook his head silently and Enzo fell back in his seat.
"I'm pretty sure that Spitbite has business elsewhere. If he wants to leave, let him leave. But we can show him a good time while he's here."
"I'll give it some thought," said Spitbite. "You do have a nice system here. If I like it well enough, I might just accept Enzo's invitation."
Bob and Dot exchanged glances. Both of them weren't sure they liked the sound of that.
"Would you like to show me around the city?" Spitbite turned to Enzo.
"Well, sure. You seem to know quite a bit about everything. I'd be honored if you would show me around the famous sights."
"Alphanumeric! C'mon, let's go. I'll get you a zipboard so you won't have to walk so much."
"Sounds wonderful," Spitbite got up from his seat and followed Enzo to the door, but stopped and turned around to head back to the table. Dot wasn't sure, but Spitbite almost looked a little terrified for a second. "Forgot my cane," he simply said as he grabbed up the cane from the table's top. Before exiting the diner, Spitbite turned and thanked Dot for the shake.
"What do you make of him?" Dot turned to Bob after Spitbite and Enzo left. Bob didn't say anything, but instead turned his eyes to the screen on Glitch. Some digital readings scrolled across Glitch for a few minutes and Bob was lost in them.
"I don't know," he replied, finally, "but I'm going to follow him." Bob finished reading Glitch and turned his full attention to Dot. "Phong had uneasy feelings about him too. He wants me to keep my eyes on Spitbite and update him on anything new. I can't put my finger on it, but there's still something I don't like about him."
"What were you reading there?" Dot nodded her head towards Glitch.
"I had Glitch to secretly scan Spitbite's cane while it was in my hands. Unfortunately, I can't make out much of these readings. It's almost like something's interfering with them, but that's almost impossible. From the way it says here, it's just a regular cane. There's nothing out of the ordinary about it."
"That can't be right," Dot shook her head. "I felt something when I touched it earlier before you arrived."
"You felt something?"
"Yeah, I felt a tingling in my fingers. And what was scary is that Spitbite seemed to take careful notice of my reaction. I almost felt like…well… like a Null in a cage."
Bob's eyebrows came closer together as he peered down at Glitch's screen again. "Phong told me that right after the game left there was a burst of energy like nothing ever seen before, and it's still lingering here in Mainframe. He showed it to me, and he's right. It's not game energy and not energy from a Tear either. Whether this new energy and Spitbite are both connected somehow is still not known. But I want to say that they are. It's the only way I know to explain it. And if there's something more to that cane of his, I want to know why he's taking such pains to hide it."
"Bob, what does all of this mean? Is Spitbite good or… bad?"
"I don't know, Dot, but I intend to find out." Bob started to get up and Dot moved out of the booth to let him out. He cringed a little and grasped the back part of the booth to steady himself.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Dot hid an amused smile.
"Oh yeah, I'm fine," He limped forward a few feet and then straightened up and headed toward the double glass doors. Bob might have tried to hide it, but Dot could easily tell that he was still sore from the impact.