Please note that this story was written ages ago – just as season three had finished, actually. I guess you can consider this an AU, since it deviates wildly from what actually happens in season 4. So, without further ado, here is my first ReBoot story from a Viral viewpoint... Ashes to Ashes.

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Ashes to Ashes

Megabyte swatted at the flying tentacles of the Webcreature with his good arm, cursing the Guardian and that Matrix boy with every breath. Grabbing one of the whipping tentacles, Megabyte squeezed it as tightly as he could until, with a loud screech, the webcreature flicked the virus away and fled.

Megabyte found himself drifting... or flying... or whatever it was that passed as travel here. He could see nothing solid around him, so recounted his wounds. His leg was out of its socket, his arm was broken, the claws on one hand were broken, and an open gash in his abdomen sent waves of pain through his body.

His wounds distracted him so much he didn't think to look behind him. He didn't think he was going very fast until he slammed into a rock. Reeling from the pain of impact, he looked down and saw his chest armor had been split down the middle.

Gasping for breath in the thin atmosphere, Megabyte felt his heart begin to race, and the thought that he was actually going to die slammed home in his mind.

"Noo... I will.. not.. give up... so easily.."

Prying open the damaged panel on his arm, Megabyte managed to tap out a command and put in the codes for his self-destruct. Taking the power that started to build, he shunted it to his other systems as fast as he could. Hopefully he could use up all the energy from his emergency storage before it overloaded his circuits. It was a desperate race - even though the power took longer to build because of damage, Megabyte was hurt, and so was slower as well.

So intent on his immediate concerns, Megabyte didn't notice the power fluctuations around him until it was too late. Knocked head over heels by the outermost edges of the data storm that was forming, he lost his grip on his control panel and felt his energy levels rise higher. Spinning faster and faster, Megabyte was once again slammed into something harder then his battered body could stand, and he fell into unconciousness.

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Daemon tapped an electric blue nail on the desk as she regarded the infected Guardian in front of her.

"You failed me."

"My leige... I.. I thought you would-"

"You FAILED me!"

"I.. failed..."

"Say it.. or is it not true? Did I NOT send you on a mission to the web to find and retrieve a web spore? Do I have it here now? Did you bring it to me?" The powerful supervirus stood and stepped up to the Guardian. "Kneel!"

The Guardian knelt and bowed his head, shaking in fear. He knew what was going to happen.. but he had no choice. She spoke, and she was his life. A steel hand descended on the back on his neck, siezing him in a fierce grip.

"You failed me. You know the penalty for that.. but first - tell me what you DID bring me." Removing her hand for the moment, Daemon slid back into her seat and regarded her slave. The Guardians tended not to degrade like binomes, and they still retained minds after infection, unlike other sprites she had infected. Daemon suspected it was because her infection was so strong it ripped their minds apart, but still had no proof this was so.

Raising one elegant blue eyebrow, Daemon motioned for the Guardian to begin his report. Opening a VidWindow for her to view, the shaky sprite cleared his throat.

"He smashed into the side of my transport, my liege. He was badly damaged at the time, and got worse on the way back. I placed him in a stasis lock, of course, and headed back to-"

"WITHOUT my webspore? You left without even looking?" Daemon slammed a fist down on the VidWindow, shattering it. Outraged, she lept over the desk and kicked the Guardian in the throat. Clutching at his neck and gasping for air, he managed to cough out a few more words.

"But.. my leige.. a vir.. virus able to.. withst- stand the web? Surely.." The sprite choked as Daemon pressed the edge of her foot down on his windpipe.

"Did I tell you to think? DID I??" Snarling, Daemon pressed down harder until she heard a muffled crunch and the sprite went into convulsions. Watching as the twitching body finally stopped moving and faded into nothingness, Daemon sighed.

"I really shouldn't have done that.. now I'm going to have to find another pilot for the Web. Hmm.. well, at least I have this virus mister-i-can-think brought me... might as well take a close up look."

Daemon strode off, leaving behind only a few drops of energy from the deleted Guardian to show that a life had been lost.

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Pain. Pain was all encompassing, it filled his lungs and burst free in a scream raw with his agony. It shone from his eyes, burning and exploding from his head in a bright red flash that lit up the room. He was bound, held down by some kind of unseen force, tied to large table with grooves cut in the surface.

Megabyte realized they were energy channels.. and that would make this some kind of torture device? Or interrogation chamber? All around him was darkness, he could see no walls in this room, but it must be rather large, as his incredibly embarrassing scream of pain had echoed quite a bit.

A distant clang caught his attenion - somewhere, metal had slammed into metal - a door? The echoes pounded into his brain and made his eyes lose focus. The clanging seemed to repeat endlessly in his mind, then Megabyte realized that it was no longer resounding, but sounded uncannily like the rhythmic clicking of steps on a bare floor.

Blinking ferociously in an effort to clear his eyes, he realized the clicking had stopped... but he could sense a presence very near him - but where? He couldn't move his head, so he did the only thing he could do - grit his teeth and wait.

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Well.. this was a surprise.. maybe she shouldn't have killed that Guardian after all. On the table before her was the remains of a very large virus, and one that had no doubt been very powerful for its class. Running her eyes over the energy-slicked body, she noted the shattered claws and torn armor, and also made note of the very interesting patterns on the powerful legs and arms.

This virus was in its prime.. and a very attractive prime it was, too.

Daemon blinked and stopped short. Where had that thought come from? Yes, the form was rather pleasing to the eye.. or at least it would be, once he was cleaned up and rebuilt.. Daemon grinned and quirked an eyebrow as her mind conjured up images of this virus working by her side, even as she wondered at her assumption that he would live.

Then again, she hadn't gotten to where she was today by ignoring her instincts... she would have him rebuilt, and then she would do with him as she pleased. Smiling rather wickedly, Daemon stepped forward into the wounded viral's view.

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Megabyte blinked, then raised his head off the table a few inches and blinked again. Was this some kind of pain-induced vision? A hallucination? A dream? Standing at the end of the table was the most beautiful image he had ever seen - a female virus, slim and petite, dark red skin with electric blue nails and eyebrows, topped off with a shining gold headpiece.

That had to be what made him blink again - the headpiece could pass for hair on a sprite, it was so cunningly shaped. Her body armor was also chased in gold and black, small lines that made her look as if she were wearing a sprite jumpsuit - camoflauge?

And her eyes! The large pupils were yellow.. a mervellous glowing yellow that seemed to pulse on the blackness of her eyes. The pierced him with their sharpness and Megabyte felt himself entranced by their vividness. His neck beginning to wobble slightly, Megabyte lay his head back down on the table and wondered who this woman was. She slowly walked around him, examining him closely, and he clenched his teeth as he could do nothing to stop her from doing anything she wanted. He felt more helpless then he ever had before, and even worse.. to be seen like this before a woman! A very attractive woman, who seemed to be the one in control of his life right now.

"My liege?" Both viruses turned their heads at the sound of the voice, and Megabyte widened his eyes as a Guardian stepped into view. He expected some kind of fight.. then the words the sprite had spoken registered. 'Liege'?

"My liege - the scans are complete. The virus will not survive another ten nanos without full life support or reconstruction." Glancing back at the woman, he noticed a yellow gleam in her eyes that was echoed in the eyes and on the icon of the Guardian.

A virus that had managed to infect a Guardian? Megabyte looked back at the woman in barely hidden awe. Viruses had been trying to infect Guardians ever since he could remember! And this fragile looking creature had actually done it? She must be very powerful.. more powerful then he could have ever hoped to be. Maybe.. maybe she would allow him to work by her side? Surely he could do something for her...?

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Daemon nodded to her slave and turned her gaze back to the virus on the table. He was weak and dying, but he still had life in him - the way he was looking at her and at the Guardian meant he knew what she could do. Now it was just a matter of finding out if he wished to join her, and how he meaned to be useful to her.

"Ready the reconstruction chamber... but do not start warming things up quite yet. If things do not work out here, I may simply need the equipment for spare parts." Swallowing hard, the Guardian saluted and marched off. Turning back to the table again, she stared at her captive, pinning him with her gaze.

"So.. tell me, what do you call yourself, and why should I let you live?" His eyes were slitted against her, most likely in pain, but also to hide whatever he could of himself from her. His red eyes burned from their dark green settings, reminding her of flames against a darkened sky.

"My name.. is Megabyte." Hmm.. such a voice! Feeling her smile spread a bit wider, Daemon ran a finger down his chest, tracing the split in his armor, running from the base of his neck to a rather jagged tear in his abdomen. His slight hiss brought a smile to her lips, and she leaned against the table and and gazed into his eyes, only a handspan away.

"Oh? Well then, my dear Megabyte.. why should I let you live? Shall I call for my slaves to carry you to my reconstrucion chamber to be reborn, or simply for component harvesting? Hmm? Is there something you alone can do for me? Some reason why I should let you live?"

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Damn her.. she was playing with him! He knew he didn't have much time left.. the sprite had said so. The Guardian.. if he was to die, he wanted to at least know how she had done -that- before he dissolved into nothingness.

"How did you do it?" He flicked his eyes in the direction the Guardian had gone. "Infecting that Guardian.. how did you do it?"

He was surprised as she stared at him for a heartbeat, then threw her head back and laughed. User, if he thought her voice had been melodious, her laugh was yet wonderful, even though the echoes did make him lose focus on his eyes for a moment.

"That one Guardian? Is that all you think I have managed? Oh, no, my dear, dear Megabyte... I have infected the entire Guardian Collective. Every one of them bows to my command, to my slightest whim. I rule the Net from this, the SuperComputer." She waved a hand in the air, "This is all mine.. every Net connected system is under my rule. So now, tell me.. why should I let you live?"

Megabyte was astonished. She had infected the Guardians? The entire Net? Everything? She was.. User, she was even more glorious then he had originally thought! So much power... then a single thought entered his mind, and he began to laugh.

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Daemon blinked as the wounded Megabyte's laughter echoed and filled the chamber. He was laughing? At her?? Daemon's eyes blazed up, her claws slid out and she raised a hand to strike when he simply stopped. He smiled at her, looking so triumphant she caught her breath. What in the Net did he have to be so joyous about?

"Well? Your reason?" Daemon snapped, and instantly regretted it as his merrily burning eyes chilled and withdrew slightly. "Well? I am waiting.. and I do not like to wait."

"Ahhhh.. my lady, might I know your name, before I impart to you some very vital information?" He was smiling again, and looking rather smug. Too smug for one whose remaining life was measured in nanos.

"Daemon. Supervirus, Ruler of the Known Net. You may address me as 'my liege'." One side of his mouth quirked up as he looked at her, then shook his head slightly.

"I will not call another 'liege', and I bow to no one! Now, do you wish to know my gem of knowledge, or shall it die with me? You, of course, will soon fall after I do, so I have no worries. I win either way."

Narrowing her eyes, she extended a claw and pressed it into the open wound in the center of his chest. She smiled at his gasp of pain, and grinned as he snarled at his weakness.

"I think you forget your place, Megabyte. Tell me."

"At least let me up before I do. It is not as if I could harm you, and this is a most undignified position." She stifled a burst of laughter at his audacity. He was about to be deleted, and he was worried about the way he looked? Because he had amused her twice so far, she decided to allow him his small freedom, and let him regain his composure. At her signal, the restraints retracted, leaving him unhindered.

Raising one elegant eyebrow, she smiled at him and waited for his information.