Chapter 32 - A Fateful Decision

"The doctor's going to keep me here for a few days for observation, then I'll be able to go."

Anthony was wide awake as if nothing happened and was talking with his Arcadian friends that
visiting. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Link, Zelda, Megaman, Protoman, Bass, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles,
Amy, and Sally crowded the small hospital room to talk to their newly recovered ally while
Sharpe kept watch outside. Amy was near the side of Anthony's bed, and was currently being
comforted by Earth's newest hero.

"So, Sally, have rebuilding plans started yet?"

"My father is currently talking with the other worlds' leaders to plan that out," Sally said.
"With five worlds working together, the rebuilding should go quickly. We didn't start yet
because we had...other things on our minds." She said that last part while looking straight at
Anthony's eyes.

"I guess..." Anthony said, then looked down, almost in shame. "Guys...listen. I'm...sorry I
nearly sacrificed myself like that. I know how much I mean to a lot of you...especially this
little girl here..." Anthony hugged Amy closer upon saying that.

"Anthony..." Knuckles said. "You have nothing to apologize for. If anything...you probably
saved all our lives by doing what you did."

"Yeah, and a besides," Mario said, "you survived the Final Power."

"I know...but I didn't know I would survive it. We were so close to losing again after we had
just won that I...risked all and didn't care if I made it. God, my parents must have been
having kittens..."

"Listen Anthony," Link said, interrupting his thoughts, "you just did what we were all doing
for Mobius that day: Giving our all to save Mobius. So as Knuckles said, you have nothing to
apologize for."

"Yeah, Anth." Sonic said. "And besides, even you have to admit your entire adventure was
awesome. I mean, how many video game players get to play on the other side of the screen?"

Anthony smiled at that. "Yeah, you're right. It was pretty exciting, and to be honest...I
wouldn't trade those experiences away for the universe." Anthony laid back in his bed and
continued. "Still...I wonder what I'm going to do now? I doubt I'll be able to go back and
enjoy a computer programmer position after this."

"Well..." Protoman said, "there is still a position of Gamemaster of Arcadia to fill..."

Anthony frowned at this. "I don't know, guys..."

Tails shook his head. "Aw no, not THIS again..."

"Anthony," Peach piped up, "you've more than proven yourself. What's stopping you?"

"My family," Anthony said without hesitation. "I probably worried them all to death throughout
my entire adventure from the first portal to the Battle of Mobius. I don't think I can put
them through that again."

"Anthony," Zelda said, "we spoke with your parents and they couldn't be prouder of what you
have done. Especially when they heard of what you did for that young hedgehog that's embracing
you right now. I'm sure they would want you to return to Arcadia, knowing what you mean to
us..."

"Oh, I intend to return to the worlds, Zelda," Anthony said, interrupting her. "Even several
copies of Packbell couldn't keep me away. But...I not sure if I want to return as the
Gamemaster. I just need to think about this..." He broke off when he noticed his parents
watching from outside. "Um...guys, can you excuse me for a minute?"

Sally looked back and saw his parents and understood. "Of course. We need to get back to
Mobius anyway. You take care of yourself."

A nurse came in after hearing that and addressed the group. "Um...excuse me. I couldn't help
hearing you were all leaving and...well this is a bit awkward."

"What's wrong?" Megaman asked.

"Well," the nurse continued, "I was wondering if you all wouldn't mind coming down to our
children's wing for a little while. I sure the kids would love to see their favorite video
game characters in person. You don't have to..."

"We'd be glad to," Sally said. "We have plenty of time and it should be fun!"

"Yeah, and besides," Sonic said, stroking his quills, "I can't disappoint my fans!"

"Whoo boy...Sonic, this room is crowded enough without your ego," Anthony said, causing Sally
and several others to giggle and Sonic to glare at him. "Besides, you could all use some
cheering up, especially Amy here."

The group walked out with the nurse, Amy giving Anthony a light kiss on the cheek before
leaving, and Sharpe followed close behind. Anthony's parents then walked in, and embraced
their son...

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"Amy," Sally said as the group approached the children's wing, "are you sure you're up to this?
I figure you'd be worried about Anthony..."

"I'll be fine, Sally," Amy said. "Besides, Anthony's right, I could use some cheering up. I
hear I'm in the games as well...even being called 'Sega's #1 girl'! So," Amy stroked her
quills mocking Sonic, "I can't disappoint MY fans!" Sonic bristled upon being mocked, but
Sally calmed him down.

They soon arrived at what appeared to be a play area of the children's wing. "Wait here and
I'll introduce you," the nurse said, and then entered the play area.

"Kids," the nurse said, addressing the room and causing several young eyes to turn towards her,
"I have a special treat for you all! We have some special guests here in the hospital that you
should all know!" She then opened the door wide, which the Arcadians took as their cue...

Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Sally, and Amy entered first causing several young voices to scream in
excitement. Mario, Luigi, and Peach's entrance caused the screams to increase. Megaman,
Protoman, and Bass entered next, increasing the screaming further. Finally, Link and Zelda
entered, causing the last batch of screaming to occur. The group then dispersed amongst the
children, starting to fill out autographs for the kids on small booklets that were being handed
out by the nursing staff.

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"So, now they want me to be accept the position of Gamemaster of Arcadia," Anthony told his
parents. "But...I'm not sure I can do that."

"Why not?" his father asked.

"I'm not sure I can put you guys through that again," Anthony explained. "I know how worried
you guys were when I returned to Mobius after that day of rest. That's no way for a son to
treat their parents..."

"Tony!" his mother said. "You sound like you aren't proud of what you did! You did some
amazing things and helped free an entire world! You should be proud of what you did!"

"I know, but..."

"No buts, Anthony," his mother said. "Yes, we were worried about what happened to you, but
this has to be your decision. Whatever you choose, we will support you all the way. Even if
you choose to be the Gamemaster."

Anthony looked into his parents eyes. "Alright...I'll think about it." He then hugged his
parents again before they left to let him rest.

Anthony laid back in his bed, thinking about what he should do. He thought back on the first
time he entered the portals, the powers he controlled, the friends he made...and who looked up
to him. He had done a lot in a short space of time...and wondered, was there more he could do?

"Only one way to find out," Anthony thought to himself. He then found a piece of paper which
he folded in half to create a makeshift card. He wrote something on both the outside and the
inside of it, then hit the nurse's call button.

A nurse came in five minutes later. "Yes, Mr. Bault?"

"Nurse, could you give this to some friends of mine?" Anthony said, handing her the paper.
"They should be in the children's wing...and you should be able to recognize them on sight."

"Ah...you mean the Arcadians. Of course, Mr. Bault." She then walked out towards the
children's wing.

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Both the children and the Arcadians were having the time of their lives. The kids were seeing
their favorite video game characters, and the Arcadians were having fun entertaining the kids.
Tails was giving several of the kids rides by flying up a short distance. Mario and Luigi were
letting a few of the kids wear their hats. Protoman even satisfied their curiosity by removing
his helmet and showing the kids what he looked like without it.

Sharpe was enjoying the entire sight, and wished Anthony could watch this. He noticed a nurse
approaching the area, and seemed to be interested in the Arcadians.

"Can I help you nurse?" Sharpe said.

"Oh...yes, Major. I have a message from Anthony Bault for the Arcadians."

"I see...I'll give it to them."

Sharpe took the note and waved Sally over. "What is it, Major?" Sally asked.

"You have a message from Anthony here. It...seems to be for all of you..."

Sally took the note and called the rest of the Arcadians over. "What is it, Sal?" Sonic
asked.

"Anthony's decision it looks like..." Sally said, noticing the exterior of the note which read
"About your offer..."

The group watched in anticipation as she opened the note to read the inner message. Sonic was
the first to react to the words inside. "ALRIGHT!!!!!!"

All the Arcadians cheered from reading the note. Sharpe walked over and picked up the note
after they had dropped it, and smiled when he read the inner words, which were few but had a
lot of meaning...

"I accept."

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Epilogue:

Work crews worked vigorously to rebuild the city of Mobotroplis from the ruins that were
Robotropolis. The palace was already completed, being the first thing worked on to improve
morale as well as to provide additional lodgings if needed. Work crews from Gardenia, Hylas,
Neo-Earth, and Earth could be seen working together with Mobius to rebuild the city to its
former glory.

From a balcony in the palace, a lone figure, sitting in a hoverchair, watched over the work
effort. Anthony was given a room in the palace for his use during the rebuilding, since he was
limited in his movement since his doctor wanted him to stay in the hoverchair for at least a
week so he wouldn't overexert himself until he fully recovered and because he wanted to be
present at the rebuilding.

Sally and Elias joined the chair bound human as he watched the rebuilding. "Deep in thought,
Anthony?" Elias asked. Anthony turned around to face the royal siblings. They soon noticed
there were tears in his eyes. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing..." Anthony said, wiping away the tears. "I'm...just sensing the feelings of all the
people out there, those who were looking at me. In general I'm sensing admiration and respect,
but from the Mobians I'm sensing a feeling of gratitude towards me that's just overwhelming.
I...can't believe that's for me..."

Sally walked over to Anthony and kissed him lightly on the cheek. "You deserve all of it.
You've brought Arcadia back together and helped free Mobius. Sir Eric would be proud."

"Thanks," Anthony said, wiping away some more tears. "I only hope I'm up to the challenge once
I'm out of this chair."

"You mean taking the role as Gamemaster?" Elias asked.

"Well, that," Anthony said, then showing a small smirk, "and trying not to strangle David and
T-Bone for all the X-Men references they're making towards me while I'm in this."

Sally giggled. "Comparing you to Professor X are they?"

"A psionicist in a hoverchair? What else?" Anthony said, then turned back towards the balcony
and took a more serious tone. "I'm telling you princess...it's definitely going to be a trip
from here on out. But...at least I know I made a difference. Check it out!"

Sally and Elian looked where Anthony was pointing, noticing Amy, Tails, Cleo, Chuckles, and
Koopa's kids playing together out in the open. Sally started tearing up herself. "I never
thought I'd see something like that again..."

Anthony sat back in his chair and smiled. He knew nothing would be the same again for himself
or Arcadia...

...and that was just the way he liked it.

THE END

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Acknowledgements -

Story based on the games, cartoons, comics, and fanfictions of Super Mario Brothers, Legend of
Zelda, Megaman, and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Special thanks to Nintendo, Sega, and Capcom for creating such great games.

Special thanks to Web Site 9 for letting me know such great fanfictions exist. (Even if they
DID mock them!)

Special thanks also to David Pistone, Keith Aksland, Ryan Huber, Eric Goodwin, G.T. Ettinger,
T-Bone, RottinKid, Morgan Ingersoll, Emily S. Smith, XAgumon, and especially David
Gonterman...and yes, even Stephen Ratliff for inspiring me to write this.

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Sources and recommended fanfiction reading -

Blood and Metal - by David Gonterman
Altered Destiny - by Keith Aksland
Sir Kain's Story - by Eric Goodwin
Transformation - by G.T. Ettinger
T-Bone's Saga and Wildcat Alley - by T-Bone
Newcomer, Tricks of the Trade, Keeping the Faith, Silent Night, and The Other Side - by Ryan
Huber
Please Remember Me - by XAgumon
Any and all fanfiction by David Pistone, AKA Serinthia Draftwood

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Comments? Suggestions? E-mail me at baultaw@usfamily.net.
(No flames please. This IS my first fanfiction after all.)

Basic rules for the Heroes of Arcadia RPG will be made available upon printed completion.