This is a little different than my usual work; Babbling Rock has a 100 themes thing going that intrigued me, and I figured since I have a current fixation on ReBoot...
Each chapter will be an individual response to one of the themes. Some will be longer, some will be shorter, but they'll all be good. I hope.
Disclaimer: If I owned Reboot, we wouldn't have ended with that damn cliffhanger, alright? Alright.
Theme #1: Introduction
This had to be the most awkward introduction he'd ever gone through. And this was a Sprite Bob had already met. Although she was dressed a lot more conservatively now…that wasn't the point.
"Well…welcome to Mainframe," she said, waving a hand to indicate the expanse of city before them, "I understand that it may not be as big a system as you're used to, but we're very proud of ourselves here…"
"Oh, no. No no! It's fine. You know, uh, just the right size," Bob stammered.
…So much for his second impression. She looked less than impressed with Mainframe's newly assigned Guardian. Bob tried to think of something – anything – which he could do to try and get back on the right footing here – at this rate, she was going to think he was completely BASIC!
"Well, uh…Ms. Matrix, right? Care to give me a tour?"
A dozen nanoseconds later, Bob was on a zipboard and following Ms. Matrix over Mainframe as she played reluctant tour guide. It wasn't a bad view, Bob had to admit.
The Floating Point sector wasn't too bad-looking either.
"Over there is Lost Angles," Ms. Matrix said, interrupting Bob's slightly wandering thought processes.
He looked where she was pointing, and was surprised to realize that he recognized the outlying area.
"Hey, I know that area. That's where – oops."
Bob slapped a hand over his mouth, but the damage was done. Ms. Matrix's expression darkened and she zipped ahead without another word. Wincing, Bob zipped after her. Not long afterwards, the tour ended in Baudway Sector, in front of a small building with a large sign proudly proclaiming it to be 'Dot's Diner'.
"…This is yours, I take it?" Bob asked, trying to end their conversation on a high note as they stepped off their zipboards.
It worked; she smiled. Well, a little. But it was a start.
"You better believe it," Ms. Matrix replied, openly proud, "This is my diner. Best in all of Mainframe."
"Well, who could argue with a recommendation like that? I'll definitely have to come by sometime."
Ms. Matrix shot him a suspicious look, to which Bob grinned sheepishly in response. Her expression softened when she saw he was being serious.
"Why not come by right now? If you have a nanosecond, I mean," she offered, leading the way to the door.
'I might just make a good impression after all,' Bob thought, following her inside.
The diner had a dozen or so customers already, all binomes. The little binomes stopped in mid-conversation when they caught sight of Bob. Well, that was probably to be expected; Phong, the System Ops for Mainframe, had already reviewed the population issue with him before introducing (or rather, re-introducing) Bob to Ms. Matrix. Most of the Sprites in the system had been nullified during the meltdown of Mainframe's sister city. In fact, the only other Sprite PID on file at the Principle Office, besides Ms. Matrix, had been –
A small green Sprite with his icon pinned to his hat jumped from his seat to greet Ms. Matrix. Before he could say anything else, though, he spotted Bob and immediately froze.
"…This is my little brother, Enzo," Ms. Matrix said, "Enzo, this is Bob. He's going to be Mainframe's Guardian."
"Whoa…you're from the Supercomputer?"
"…Yep. Sure am," Bob replied, slightly unnerved by the look now on Enzo's face.
"And you're really a Guardian?"
"Alphanumeric…that is so cool!"
Well, Ms, Matrix's brother certainly was…enthusiastic. She shot him a vaguely apologetic look as Enzo started talking a mile a cycle.
"And you HAVE to meet my dog! His name's Frisket. He's feral, though, so he'll probably be at Old Man Pearson's Junkyard. And there's lots of other places I can show you! And afterwards we can go jet-bowling or circuit-racing or –"
"Yeah Dot?" Enzo said without missing a beat.
"Now Enzo, you know Bob's going to have a lot to do as the system's Guardian. He's going to be very busy…"
Enzo drooped at this. Ms. Matrix looked decidedly unhappy as well, and so Bob decided to intervene – on the little Sprite's behalf, of course.
"Actually, I could use someone to show me around a bit. Wouldn't be much of a Guardian if I got lost," Bob said, "It'd have to be someone who knows the system like the back of their format…can you think of anyone, Ms. Matrix?"
She hesitated, and then nodded, seeing where he was going.
"It's a tough assignment," she said, "I'll need to make sure that only the best Sprite available gets the job…"
"I can do it! I can do it!" Enzo said, jumping up and down excitedly, "Come on, sis, you know I can do it!"
"Alright, you've got the job, Enzo," Ms. Matrix said, smiling fondly at her little brother.
"Yahoo! C'mon, c'mon! Let's get going, Bob!"
Enzo didn't even wait for Bob to answer before going outside and leaping onto a zipboard. He hovered there, waving his arms impatiently at Bob, who was still standing in a bemused shock.
"Sorry about this. There aren't any young Sprites for Enzo to play with, so he's a little excited."
"It's no trouble, really," Bob replied as he and Ms. Matrix stepped outside the diner, "I really don't have anything to do at the moment, so –"
The containment turned purple and a loud tone sounded, interrupting Bob mid-word. All three Sprites looked up.
"WARNING. INCOMING GAME."
A hole opened in the containment, and a Game Cube began sliding out of it.
"WARNING. INCOMING GAME."
"Oh no…" Ms. Matrix exclaimed, "Not another Game!"
"Oh wow! Cool!" Enzo exclaimed.
"Sorry," Enzo said.
It soon became clear that the Cube was dropping down right on top of them. Binomes began fleeing the area. Ms. Matrix was soon ordering those that weren't already leaving to start moving. It was a sign of how focused she was that Ms. Matrix even tried to order Bob out of way of the Cube's path.
"Dot! Bob'll be fine. He's a Guardian! Guardians are good at Games!" Enzo said.
A few binomes that were still nearby perked up at this announcement. The three Sprites were soon surrounded by a small crowd of binomes, much to Ms. Matrix's evident frustration. Before she could do more then yell for them to hurry up and get out of the way, the Cube slammed down on top of them.
It was dark inside the Cube. Apparently they were underground…Bob didn't recognize the Game, and so he turned to someone that would.
"Glitch, Game stats."
The keytool whirred and shifted, displaying the requested information.
"So, what Game is this Bob?" he heard Enzo ask.
"The Game is 'Mad Miner's Mazes'," Bob replied, "The User has to travel through an underground maze, avoid all the traps, and collect all the keys. The keys will let the User unlock the treasure chest at the end of the maze, and he has to get out with the treasure to win."
"A treasure hunt? Alphanumeric!"
"Enzo, this isn't a time to be excited," Ms. Matrix immediately began chiding her brother.
Glitch twittered; Bob winced. The User was gaining on their position, and he had most of the keys already…
Bob blinked in the light of Enzo's rebooting, and then was nearly blinded by another, stronger bright light. Enzo had rebooted into a miner, complete with a helmet that boasted a very strong lamp on top. It took a nano for Enzo to realize he was blinding Bob, and he turned away, leaving Bob blinking as he now blinded his sister instead.
As Bob regained what vision he could, he heard the binomes that had gotten stuck inside the Cube with them begin to mutter anxiously.
"Don't know why we didn't get out of the way…all going to be nullified…what help will a Guardian be, anyway?"
"Glad you're all so confident in my skills," Bob sighed, before rebooting.
He was now a miner as well, complete with pickaxe and hard hat.
"Can't blame us for being a little worried," Ms. Matrix said as she rebooted, "Our record for Games isn't very good."
That was true. Bob switched on his headlamp, and grinned.
"Well, records are meant to be broken."
"Can't this thing go any faster?!"
"We're going as fast as we can!"
"Bob, I can see the User! He's catching up fast!"
"Downhill! We're going doooooooowwwhhhhhoooooaaaa!"
The idea that the Mainframers were lacking in Game skills was a bit of an understatement. The binomes had kept wandering into traps; they had gotten to the last key first, only to have the User steal it out from under their noses; they had gotten to the treasure chest first, only to have the User dodge past them and open it; they had gotten the treasure away from the User and were making for the maze's exit, only to have the User hot on their bitmaps and closing fast…
A flash of gold passed them. Bob saw the User speed ahead in his mine cart. More importantly, the User was holding the treasure now.
"Oh no! Who dropped the treasure!?" He yelled from his spot on the front of their mine cart.
"Sorry…I lost my grip…" That was from one of the binomes – he was positively whimpering.
"Don't worry, you tried your best," one of the others comforted him.
"Yeah, now we only have to worry about our imminent nullification," Enzo chimed in.
"Not on my watch," Bob said, raising his right arm and pointing it at the User's mine cart, "Glitch! Grapple!"
Bob realized that he might have picked a bad command when the grapple sank into the other mine cart, pulling the Guardian out of the second mine cart and through the air. He slammed into a wall as the User's mine cart went around the next turn, while Glitch worked quickly to reel him in.
"Bob! Be careful!" he heard Ms. Matrix call after him.
Leaping into the User's mine cart, Bob immediately ducked as the User swung his pickaxe. The User – short and fat in this Game – kept swinging, forcing Bob back until he was nearly off the cart. The User raised the pickaxe on last time, clearly intending to force Bob off completely…
And it would have worked, until Bob reached up and turned off the User's headlamp. The User stumbled backwards, unable to see, and Bob trained his own headlamp on the User's face. It stumbled back further, now blinded, flailing wildly. It was easy to pick the treasure out of the User's hand and give it a little shove…the User landed on the tracks – there was a thump as the other mine car ran it over – and Bob's mine car emerged into daylight, the treasure safely in his grasp…
The Game Cube dissolved, lifting back into the containment and vanishing. All the Mainframe participants (plus Bob) were left standing safely in front of Dot's Diner in Baudway.
Almost immediately, Bob found himself surrounded by binomes. They were all amazed; his winning the Game had made Bob quite immediately popular.
Bob turned to the source of the shout, only to be tackled and bowled over by an excited Enzo.
"That was so totally rad! That was incredible! The way you took down the User – Bob, you gotta teach me how to do that!"
Enzo looked up to find his sister looking down at him.
"You're sitting on our Guardian."
"Oh. Whoops. Sorry Bob," Enzo said as he got off Bob's chest.
Ms. Matrix helped him up. "Bob, are you all right?"
"Never better," Bob replied.
"Well, come on, then," Ms. Matrix replied, "I think I remember offering you an energy shake…and I can help you find an apartment, if you need to."
"I do need to. Thanks, Ms. Matrix," Bob said.
She smiled. "Please, call me Dot."
"Dot. Right. Got it."