It might be a stab in the dark, but you could remove the CMOS battery from the mainboard and replace it a minute later. Thats a sorta "generic" solution that on most mobos will reset the CMOS back to defaults.
(a google search for info exactly might turn up a similar routine removing & replacing a jumper)
It seems like it's not really failing the POST though, 'cause you do get to your BIOS screen where it verifys the DMI Data Pool. I suspect it is behaving more like a PC that came originally with winME pre-loaded, something has occured since then that is preventing the normal boot initialization of that OS. Trying to finish the boot without the "restoreCD" that was shipped with the PC isn't working. I've encountered similar problems with an older Dell that also was "stuffed due to malware".
Honestly, the way I got around those possibly similar problems was this:
Removed the hard drive,
and bought from a used PC store a smallish 6-8 gb ATA/100 hard drive for under $10.00.
Paid them around $30.00 for a used win98 installation CD w/ it's license.
I put the replacement HD in and ran the installation, complete repartitioning & reformating.
First time through the procedure I had problems because I'd forgotten to download system drivers.
I used my other PC to get them from Dell, and I think I also pulled the old modem and shelled out another 15.00 for a brand new PCI v92 fax/modem.
(I also bought a ethernet card so I could get the install CD for it, thinking it would be easier to just get rid of yet another driver need that I wasn't certain I'd found the right one online. Dell identification numbers are pretty good, but for another $15.00 a clean start regarding what I thought I might do with it ... set up a little network, seemed logical)
With those two plug-in cards installed, I powered on to a sucessful boot into the win98
I installed the system drivers I thought (hoped) were the right ones from the Dell site from a CD-R I burned them to ... floppy disk would have worked too, since the file was rather small.
Some trial & error involving the New Hardware Wizard, several restarts and it was fine in all regards.
I think I was worried at the time about the FAT32 vs. NTFS decision because I didn't know what the winME was using ...
Anyway, once I had a working OS installed and could count on the ability to access BIOS to modify settings there I was confident enough to physically install the old winME HD and making sure it was jumpered for slave, plugged it into the center of the IDE cable that had the new replacement HD at the far end.
That did work, BIOS recognition of both HDs was confirmed.
I decided to explore winME files on the original drive for a while, to compare with winXP and such,
but I ended up simply copying personal data files (that Dell was my brother's old unit), .mp3s, .jpgs, and bookmarks, etc. over to the win98 system (master) HD before I used a MaxBlast CD from Maxtor to repartition the slave drive and end up with what I think was a Pentium II say 600mhz 256mb RAM with around 30gb total HD space that worked flawlessly.
Just posted that "Saturday afternoon workshop project" outline hoping it might give you food for thought,
since it does remind one of some possibly overlooked details or spark further specific questions:
To adequately advise we need as much information about model numbers involved as possible.