Chapter 37 (or, "Execute! Code Evolution!")
Rifka was watching from the parapet when she saw Rikimo, riding back to the city on the back of the Trio of Light Dogs. "Mayday!" she was screaming, waving with one of her hands.
She pulled out her communicator and messaged Tama. "Rikimo is back. Panicked. No sign of Canberra."
His response was quick. "Bring her in. We're done." Thank goodness. That meant Tama and Erika had devised a suitable defense strategy.
She ran down to the gate, opening it and letting Rikimo in. The Gothic-clad girl slid down off the Dog. "I got them, but Dvorak is here. Canberra held him off."
Rifka noted that Rikimo looked shakier than she had before. "We don't have any time to lose. We have to act now."
They ran through the town and got to the town hall. Rikimo called back Canberra's Dogs, and they went inside the huge building. Tama and Erika were sitting in the lobby; Erika got up from her seat when Rifka and Rikimo came in. "Did you..."
"We got the cards, but Canberra's gone. Dvorak is on his way, I bet." Rikimo shuffled all of her cards, the Trio of Light Dogs disappearing as she did so. She then divided her deck into the gift cards and hero cards and gave both packs to Erika. "You're the one saving the world. All I did was build a huge castle and attract attention. Please...please be better with these cards than I was."
Erika took the cards from Rikimo with both hands. "I will treat them well," she said.
Rikimo smiled. If anybody could do this, it was Erika. "Okay. What's your grand defense plan?"
"Okay." Erika took a deep breath. "The Red Giant is going to go out in front, along with the other fire heroes. They'll be our first line of defenses. The Mother of the Air and the wind heroes will be right behind them, fueling their fire. If they make it through those heroes, they'll make it to the town hall itself, but do not fear. Our next line of defense is the earth heroes, led by the Granite Golem. They are in the process of digging a moat and an extensive tunnel system underneath Disasterville that can trap Dvorak and his cards for a while. If they are trapped, they'll be drowned by the Water cards. If THOSE defenses are broken through, the Trio of Light Dogs and all of Canberra's cards will be guarding the hallways of this very town hall. We'll be waiting in the meeting room, with Tama, Rifka, and Jen ready to execute the code when it's done."
Both Tama and Rifka applauded Erika's efforts. "Well done," Rifka told Tama. "Isabel would be proud."
"She'll be prouder if we actually manage to pull it off," Tama said. "Erika, let's put this into practice as soon as we can."
Erika pulled out the cards she had in her pocket pack. "We'll need to go outside."
Once outside, Erika separated the cards into groups and called them out from their card forms, one by one. Tama watched as the Trio of Light Dogs sprang to life again, the Glass Girl growing and spiraling out of her cards, the Alpine Queen of Snow bowing before her temporary ruler, the Red Giant standing tall and firm. He watched her as she gave detailed instruction in rapid fire Japanese to each one of the cards, and they all nodded their enthusiasm.
For all of their insanity, and for all Dvorak was trying to do, he had picked the right guardian. He was sure of it.
"We need to get inside," Erika told Tama and Rifka. "It's important that the six of us stay where we can't be seen."
"Especially you," Tama noted. "The rest of us could disappear, but if you lose, it's game over for this entire world."
Erika bit her lip, but nodded. "No problem."
The four humans headed inside, past the spirit heroes whom were guarding the hallways, to the main room in the town hall. "Tama," Rifka asked as they arrived, "how many days have we been here? With all of the hubbub with Dvorak, I've lost count of how long we've been here."
"We only have one more day," Tama said. "We just have to hold on until then."
They opened the doors to the conference room. Rhiannon and Jen were sitting behind a desk, and Jen was still typing furiously away at his phone. There were wires now hanging from the ceiling, all sorts of different colors, going this way and that. Jen looked up from his phone when the newcomers entered. "Hi, niichan."
"Yoroshiku, Didi. How goes the work?"
"Okay for now. We've managed to set the base work. We should be able to bend reality at this point, but every time I try to set the code into motion, it backfires. What the code is supposed to do is this: it access your thought pattern and determines what you want to change about reality and then sets into motion the events that need to happen for that."
"It's not overpowered, though," Rhiannon made note. "We can't just Rainbow Ryuuzaki our way out of this."
"And we can't snap our fingers and be rid of Dvorak forever and save every single world known to existence," Jen said, turning back to his phone. "So we've been doing some tests. The main one we've been focusing on is moving something -- this table, Rhiannon, whatever -- across the room. The 'across the room' part is going through, but not the actual variable. That's why all of the electric cords are hanging from the ceiling."
"It's better than nothing," Tama noted.
Rhiannon snapped her fingers. "I have an idea, Jen. Perhaps if you just fix the variable and build off of that? Build several mini programs where you fix the variable and make it do something. That way, you could build teleportation programs. Put in the GPS coordinates, and voila! You can transport static variables -- in this case, you and whoever is touching you -- to wherever you need to go."
Jen smiled. "That sounds like a great idea, Rhiannon-ssi! I'll build that right now and save the rest for later."
"Did you get that secret code fixed?"
Jen gave her a wink. "I did. I really hope it works."
"Secret...code?" Tama asked.
Jen gave his adopted older brother a smile and a wink. "That's a secret, Tamanii! If it works, I'll tell you back at headquarters."
"Uh...okay. Whatever works for you."
"I do want to show you one part of the puzzle I finished, though." Jen switched applications on his communicator and tapped a command into it. "This is just on my phone for now, but I want to transfer it over to yours." Without warning, a pizza appeared on the table. "Tada! It's called the instant gratifyer. You put a simple object in it, and the communicator will make it appear. The catch is that it doesn't just appear out of nowhere, but it must appear from headquarters. So this pizza is from the kitchen back at QWERTY."
"So we won't go hungry." Tama grinned. "Didi, you're amazing!"
"I wish you could stay in our world longer." Rhiannon gave Jen a quick hug. "I wish you could show me how to code my own reality back to the way it was."
Jen smiled. "I told you before, Rhiannon. You just have to trust in yourself, but you also have to trust in your ability to make mistakes. No code is perfectly executed the first time it's run. You'll always get error messages. What's important is that you don't give up at the first sign of an error, but instead work through the instructions and get to your desired end point. Either fix the problems in the code or rewrite it to suit your own needs."
"You two sure have grown close," Tama remarked as, without asking, he took a slice of the pizza.
Jen tapped into the phone again. "Are you jealous, Niichan? Because nobody can replace you." A plate of pancakes with sour cream appeared on the table next to the pizza, along with a huge bottle of water.
Rifka dove for the blini. "Mine!" she yelled as Tama and Jen laughed.
"Pancakes with sour cream?" Rhiannon couldn't help but laugh. "You sure have some strange tastes."
They spent the night in the board room, mostly waiting it out. Unable to leave lest they be unguarded, they stayed there. Rhiannon and Jen continued to work on the code, Jen typing it out and Rhiannon checking it for him. Jen was right, she decided to herself. Even if things weren't perfect, you always found a way to make it through.
Some time after midnight, they turned out the lights. Jen was able to import sleeping supplies from headquarters, and they each took a corner and fell asleep. Except for Tama -- he was too wired to sleep much. He spent the majority of the night staring at Erika, whom had fallen asleep rather quickly and was now deep in slumber.
Had they done everything they could? Were they going to make it? All of these plans had led to this.