"At last! It is finished!"
Andy Makelson held up the device he had created with his own hands, during his lunch breaks and lousy three weeks of vacation time. In the tattered finery of New York's formerly fabulous California Hotel (across the street from Madison Square Garden), he grinned in pleasure and rubbed his balding head, knowing that his good-for-nothing boss would regret firing him now.
Any engineer could design a machine that created sofa cushions! He had made a device that could summon individuals from other dimensions!
No more meals of Spaghettios and ramen noodles! No more living in boarding houses! He would be set for life once he demonstrated its power! The Trekkies of the world would pay him millions to summon the real Kirk or Picard, just for a few seconds! To say nothing of all the other fandoms out there!
"And now, to test it!"
Andy straightened his belt and his cloak. For today, he was not Andy Makelson. He was Aragorn Rinku III, the finest sorcerer in all of Hyrule! Link deemed him lifelong friend! Ganondorf trembled at his presence! Zelda had met with him on many a midnight tryst!
He had made Aragorn's costume specifically for AnimeGameCon 6, the reason for which he lived and breathed. Even now, the denizens of many fan bases mingled in the ballrooms below. He had waited for this day for a very, very long time, to achieve his lifelong goal.
To win the cosplay contest!
So many failed opportunities! The judges did not understand the point of cosplay. So what if he didn't look a thing like any game character? They were all based on unrealistic human anatomy. Well, except for the talking animals.
But this time he would surely win, in the group category…for no cosplayer could compete with the real Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf!
Eagerly he tapped the buttons on the device, sweat pouring down his face. Yes, yes…adjust this, tweak that…yes, it's coming along nicely…
A brilliant flash lit up the hotel room. Andy rubbed his eyes, looked up, and shrieked in victorious ecstasy. "EUREEEEKAAAA!!!"
The tall, dark man in black armor stared at him like he might at a bug in the bathroom. "What in the name of Din?"
"What is this place?" the regally dressed woman asked.
"And who are you?" a young man clad in green demanded, pointing to Andy.
Andy bowed. "I am the famous sorcerer Aragon Rinku III!"
The three exchanged glances. "Who are you really?" Ganondorf demanded.
"No, no! I'm a sorcerer! Watch and be amazed!" Andy ran over to the TV and turned it on. "Ooohhhh…see the pretty moving pictures? Are you not impressed?"
They all gaped at him for a moment, then Link walked over to a window. "What in the world? What kind of tower is this?"
The other two joined him. "There's more of them," Zelda exclaimed. "Some even taller than this one! And look how high we are!"
"What are those yellow things? Bugs?" Ganondorf squinted at a fleet of cabs.
Pouting, Andy strode over to them. "I am a sorcerer! I summoned you here with this!" He held up his device.
Ganondorf snatched it out of his hands, turning it over and over in his own, ignoring Andy's protests. "How do I make it send us back home?"
"Let me see," Zelda reached for it.
"No no no!" Andy stamped his foot. "I summoned you here to help me win the cosplay contest. All the others are downstairs! We have to go!"
"Okay. If you won't show us how to use the thing, then we'll ask one of the others." Link strode purposefully toward the door.
Andy jumped in front of him. "No way. I've spent years on this. You're going to do what I tell you."
Ganondorf picked him up by his collar. "Make me."
Andy whimpered. "Uh….please?"
"Did you have to stuff him in the closet? I would have thought tying him up would have been sufficient," Zelda told Ganondorf as they strode down the hall.
"Meh. Don't want that little nut following us," he grumbled.
Link examined a sign on the wall. It said "Rooms 1001 – 1020", "Elevator", and "Vending Machines". Only the first one made any sense to him. "Where do you suppose the stairs are, so we can get out of here and find some other sorcerer to send us back?"
Ganondorf tapped the red-and-white plastic over his head. "What, didn't you see the "Exit" sign?"
Link stared. "People must get lost in this place a lot."
Finally they reached a door labeled "Stairway". Just as they were about to enter, a set of sliding doors behind them opened with a ding. They turned to see a group of people Link and Zelda's age, dressed in everything from castle ballroom fare to battle armor. One of them darted out and another yelled behind him, "Hurry up! I'll hold the elevator for you."
A girl dressed all in black snorted. "He's always forgetting stuff." She looked up to see the three Hylians. "Hey, you guys. It's a long way down the stairs…want to take the elevator?"
They assumed the "elevator" was the lift contraption the kids were standing in. The other passengers squeezed together, as Ganondorf took up a good third of it all by himself. "Are you going to where the sorcerers are?" Zelda asked them.
"Sorcerers, warriors, Pokemon trainers, everything," the boy holding the elevator laughed. He had dyed his hair silver and carried a very large sword…which was obviously fake. Link wondered what he intended to do with it. Another boy with orange hair, dressed in an odd black-and-white outfit, had a more realistic sword, a long thin type Link had never seen before.
"I got it!" Puffing, the portly boy returned, tying some kind of scarf on his head that made his brown hair stick out on both sides. It had a metal plate with a leaf symbol on it.
"I can't believe you forgot something like that," the girl in black chided him as the doors closed.
"Is it some kind of protective talisman?" Zelda asked, curious.
"You don't know? You must be more into the games than the anime then," the boy said. "It's a symbol of identity."
"Oh," the three Hylians said simultaneously, not understanding a word except for the last part.
The doors opened and they found themselves in a large lobby. The kids walked off, not paying attention to the three gaping at the paneled walls, the chandeliers, the people with bags of luggage speaking at the front desk.
Zelda cocked her head and listened to the conversations. "I think we're in an inn of some kind."
"Fanciest inn I ever saw," Link commented.
"There sure are a lot of strangely dressed people here." Ganondorf stared at a man in a gray tunic, with a little piece of fabric tied around his neck and hanging down in front. He picked up his briefcase and returned the stare.
Link pointed to a crowd of people off to their left. "I see a couple people who could be sorcerers down there…maybe that's where the gathering is?"
They joined the scrum at the door, lots of people talking and jostling about. A harried-looking woman was taking green bits of paper from the people and handing them little cards. "I suppose she's the one in charge," Zelda remarked.
"Whoa!" a high, thin voice exclaimed behind them. They turned to see a short boy wearing ridiculous red suspenders, a red hat, and a fake mustache. "That's the most awesome Ganondorf costume I've ever seen!"
"Costume?" he echoed.
"Yeah. Where'd you get the armor? Did you buy it on eBay?"
Ganondorf looked down at himself, completely flummoxed. "Uh…I made it?"
"That's so totally cool! Hey, Jessa!" He hollered to a small girl wearing an even more ridiculous costume, a lot of fuzzy fabric and face paint made up to look like a fox with two tails. "Come look at this!"
"Omigod!" She embraced Link, catching him completely off guard. "You are the cutest Link I've ever seen!"
"Um…thanks?" he looked to Zelda for an explanation.
"How many Links do you see on a daily basis?" she asked.
"Hey there, handsome." Ganondorf looked down in stupefaction to see a young woman addressing him. She was dressed in about three square inches of blue fabric, had short white dyed hair, and a funny-looking sword that seemed to pull out into a chain. "What're you doing tonight?"
He couldn't help staring, but turned away quickly. "I don't think I'm your type…" The others seemed to be having similar problems. A gaggle of girls crowded around Link, and Zelda attempted to place herself between the other two, keeping a wary eye on a group of young men whose looks spoke volumes.
"There you are!" somebody yelled from beyond the crowd. A pencil-necked, bespectacled man with a clipboard marched his way up to them. "Finally, the professionals are here! Follow me."
"Does he know who we are?" Link whispered to Zelda. "He seems to know who we are."
"So did those other people, and I've never seen any of them in my life," she replied.
They came to a large, full theater; but they did not enter through the double doors. Instead, the pencil-necked man led them backstage, and said, "Well, now you're here, at least. Go ahead and get started. And please, try to involve the audience a little bit this time? Last year's performance was such a dud." He turned on his heel and left.
Ganondorf twisted his face into an expression of utter confusion. "Did either of you understand any of that?"
Before they could reply, the curtain before them raised up, and the glare of stage lights blinded them, accompanied by loud cheers from the audience. Squinting, Link demanded, "What the heck is going on?"