The climax continues! (Note: I am still not trying to offend any real life people.)
Chapter 16: Nightopia or Bust
Takashi Iizuka walked across the parking garage, fiddling for his keys in his pocket. He pulled them out as he approached his car and pressed the unlock button. The front door opened automatically and he went inside, setting his briefcase down on the passenger seat. He got the car going and drove out of the garage and onto the street. He sighed contentedly, thankful this long day was finally over.
"HI MR. IIZUKA!"
"AAAH!" Takashi slammed on the brakes, and fortunately no one was driving behind him. He whipped his head to the back seat and gasped in horror.
Reala glared at Jackle, who had shouted earlier. "Jackle! I told you to let me handle this!"
Iizuka continued to stare with his mouth wide open. "You guys again! H-how did you even get in my car?"
"That's not important right now." Reala said. "Look, I know you don't believe that we're real characters from your video game, but you're our only hope for getting back to our universe and saving NiGHTS!"
A car horn beeped from behind and Takashi was forced to drive along. "You're insane! All of you!" he said while watching them cautiously in his rearview mirror.
Owl scoffed, "I expected our creator to be a bit more civil."
Clawz shrugged beside him. "You can't blame him, really. I mean, we did just break into his car."
"Get out right now!" Takashi ordered.
"Not until you help us out." Reala pointed the portal creator at the frightened man, who became even more terrified at the sight of the strange object.
"NO!" the SEGA president cried. "Please, don't shoot! There are so many games I wanted to make!"
"Huh? …No, it's not a gun." Reala clarified. "It's our portal creator, a device that can allow us to travel between dimensions. It's how we got here in the first place."
"And now it's broken!" Jackle added.
Clawz spoke up, "And since you're the one who made us, you might be able to fix it for us!"
"No! I don't know anything about portals! That's for our engineers to figure out!" Iizuka exclaimed. Then his eyes widened and he covered his mouth with one hand. "Oops."
Reala leaned closer. "Your engineers?"
"T-that's not what I—"
"So you have been studying portals!"
Jackle crossed his arms and pouted, "If you don't tell us how to get home, I'm gonna annoy you!"
Iizuka kept his eyes on the road, but his anger was mounting. "For the last time, NO!"
"Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdowegethome? Howdoweget..."
Takashi sank his head lower and growled in annoyance as Jackle kept repeating the phrase while bouncing in his seat.
"He can go on for hours, you know." Reala told Takashi calmly over Jackle's motor mouth.
Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. "Ok, OK!" Takashi took a deep breath and turned his head to Jackle. "If I tell you how, will you shut up and leave me alone?"
"Howdowe—Ok." Replied Jackle as he instantly quieted.
Takashi confessed in exasperation, "I'll admit, your appearance at the company got me curious about interdimensional travel. So I told the lab boys, and they built a machine that, in theory, can open a portal to a fictional universe."
Clawz exclaimed, "What? You actually built a portal creator in less than 24 hours?"
"We have a lot of time on our hands nowadays."
Owl asked, "Does it work?"
"Again, in theory." Takashi stated. "We haven't been able to test it yet."
"Where is it?" demanded Reala.
"That is top secret information." Iizuka said sternly. He saw Jackle take a deep breath and quickly added, "Which is located in the secret basement at SEGA headquarters that only I and the engineers can access!"
"Thank you." Reala said politely. "We'll leave you alone now."
The car stopped and Takashi was pushed out. Before he could try to get back in, Reala and the others drove away back in the direction of SEGA headquarters. "Wait!" Takashi called after them futilely. "You could've just taken my…pass." He sighed heavily and rubbed his face. Then he trudged to the edge of the sidewalk and stuck out this thumb. It was going to be a long night.
Reala raced down the street, knocking over road signs and anything that was unfortunate enough to be in his path. Clawz rode shotgun to relay directions, while NiGHTS laid across the back seat with Jackle and Owl watching over her. Finally, they came to the headquarters, and Reala didn't think twice about crashing right through the double doors of the entrance.
"Uh…why didn't you just park?" Clawz asked, glancing back at the damage and startled people.
"Driving's faster." Reala replied simply. He turned a corner, heading for the stairs. But when he saw that the door to the staircase was too small, he turned into another hallway, where more people screamed and tried not to get run over. "Drat! Stairs are out of the question. Anyone see something else that can take us to the basement?"
Jackle suggested, "How about an elevator?"
Owl saw the door to an elevator and squawked, "There's no way we can fit through there!"
Clawz pointed with his paw and spoke up, "Well, we could just use the one for cars."
Right beside the regular elevator was one that was big enough to occupy a vehicle. Without waiting for the doors to open, Reala drove right through them and screeched to a stop so that the car rested perfectly inside the lift. He rolled down his window and pressed the button that said "Secret Basement" and the elevator started to descend slowly with Japanese elevator music softly playing. And by Japanese elevator music, I mean Vocaloid. When they reached the basement, the elevator dinged, but Reala drove through the doors without waiting for them to open again. There didn't seem to be any workers down there and the only lights were small ones hanging above doors, which were labeled in Japanese and English.
"Let me know if you see anything." Said Reala, referring to the labels.
Owl flapped his wings. "Hoo! There!" He pointed to the end of the hallway where a large door was labeled, "Portal Room and Donut Dispensary".
Jackle's mouth instantly watered. "Mmm…donuts…"
Everyone braced themselves as Reala broke through the locked door, leaving the car in one crumpled piece. They all got out and gazed at the large room. In the center was a large metal ring sitting upright on a stand. The stand had wires hooked up to it from a large computer on one side of the room.
"That must be the portal creator." Reala noted, placing NiGHTS down in front of it. "Now how do we make it work?"
Clawz called from over by the computer, "Guys, look!" On the screen showed a dialogue box that said "Please select your language" with options for either Japanese or English.
"English, we want English." Said Owl when he, Reala, and Jackle came over.
Reala touched the screen to select English, then the screen changed to a menu with a few options. One of them was simply, "Create New Portal", so he chose that one. He remarked, "This doesn't seem too hard." But then another box stated, "Insert dimension coordinates" and Reala frowned. "…Uh, what's our coordinates?"
"Wait, what's that?" Jackle asked, his mouth full of donuts, as he pointed to a corner of the screen.
A small animated robot waved at them adorably and a speech bubble popped up above it which read, "It looks like you are trying to create a portal. Would you like some help?" The topics it listed were: "What's a portal?", "Can't find my coordinates!", "I'm stuck in an interdimensional tunnel. Now what?", and "Is any of this related to video games?"
Reala surveyed the options. "I think we'll go with 'Can't find my coordinates'."
The screen then displayed a starry sky with different icons in many places. The instructions from the robot buddy read, "Choose your universe." It seemed that each universe was represented by something iconic.
"Hey, look!" Jackle squeaked. "We can go to the Mario Universe!" He pointed to a mushroom icon.
Reala smacked his powdered hand away. "We're looking for the NiGHTS Universe." He scanned though the icons and noticed one that was a red, diamond-shaped jewel. "An Ideya shard!" he gasped. "That must be it!"
When he touched it, the screen read, "You've chosen the NiGHTS Universe. Confirm your decision by touching 'OK' to create portal." Without hesitating, he did.
Machines from all over the room started to come alive with beeps, whirrs, and lights. The giant ring itself surged with power until finally, a portal expanded into the space inside it.
Reala and the others exchanged amazed glances and gazed at the portal in all its swirly glory.
Until the power noises died down and the portal vanished after 2 seconds.
Reala gaped in dismay and stuttered, "W-what? But…How c—I don't…"
"The computer says we don't have enough power to keep the portal open." Owl said worriedly. "Which is bad because even though we can jump through in a second, the portal needs to be open long enough for us to reach our destination. Otherwise we'd be stuck in an interdimensional tunnel."
Clawz's fur bristled. "So how're we supposed to get more power?"
Jackled pondered, "Well, we can't wait around for a thunderstorm, so maybe there's some batteries around here."
But Owl shook his head. "No, this requires a huge amount of energy. Something as strong as an Ideya, perhaps."
Reala's head snapped up. "Did you say Ideya?" He ran over to NiGHTS and found that her Ideya shard was still hanging around her neck. He gently removed it and showed it to Owl. "Would this be enough?"
Owl briefly examined it. "It's possible…"
"It's all we got." Reala said firmly. He went over to a mechanical crate that seemed to be generating all the power. After swiftly analyzing it, he began, "I just realized…"
The others waited expectantly.
"…I have no idea what I'm doing."
"Oh, give me that!" Owl snapped. He swiped the Ideya necklace and hovered over the machine. Muttering to himself, Owl located an empty battery compartment and shoved the gem inside. It was a perfect fit. The power surged once again and the portal reopened.
Jackle shrieked, "YES! LET'S GO!" Before he could jump in, Reala grabbed him.
"Hold on." The red jester spoke up. "We can't leave without the Ideya."
"What? Why not?" Clawz asked.
Reala stared seriously at everyone. "Because NiGHTS needs it to live. If we get to Nightopia and she doesn't have it, she'll die."
Owl sighed. "Yes, it appears she relies on its power to sustain herself."
"But the portal needs it to stay open!" reminded Clawz.
Reala looked back at NiGHTS, starting to panic. He gulped and faced the others. "Ok, there's only one way I can think of this working out. One of us takes out the Ideya and throws it into the portal before it closes, after the rest of us have gone through it."
Clawz stared at him wide-eyed. "You mean one of us…"
"Stays behind, yes."
There was a short moment of awkward silence, which was broken when Jackle sighed sadly, "Just promise me you'll write often."
The sadness in his voice made Reala feel a bit sorry for him. "Aw, Jackle, you don't have to do that…"
The card maniac looked up hopefully. "I don't?"
"We need you with us. I mean, sure you get on my nerves 99 percent of the time. But you're still a part of our weird, dysfunctional family." Reala smiled at him.
Jackle grinned. "THANKS, REALA!" He glomped the red jester, who pushed him off at once.
Reala added sternly, "That doesn't mean 'want to touch'."
Just then, there was a loud crash at the entrance, clouding it with black smoke. Nine figures emerged from it, revealing themselves to be Wizeman's nine other Nightmarens!
"I see we arrived just in time." noted Chamelan.
"Wait a minute, how'd you guys get here?" Reala asked.
"Same way you did." Donbalon answered dryly and he pressed the lock button on his car keys. The smoke cleared to reveal the Nightmarens' car had crashed into the back of Takashi's.
Jackle suddenly noticed someone in the group. "ISABELLA!" he shrilled with joy. He hadn't recognized her at first because she was now wearing a regal Victorian dress instead of her black body suit. In fact, all the human Nightmarens were now wearing their usual garments.
To everyone's surprise, she dipped her head politely. "No, it's just Bella now."
Jackle sniffed back happy tears. "I thought you were dead!"
"…I got better." She said casually, tapping on the bandage on her neck.
Reala interrupted, "That's great, but we really have to go!"
Bomamba stepped forward and said, "Don't worry. We'll throw the Ideya shard after you."
Reala and his friends blinked in surprise. "But," he started, "aren't you guys coming with us?"
The nine Nightmarens glanced at each other, then back at Reala and responded in unison, "Nah."
"We kinda like it here." Gulpo told him.
Puffy added, "And there would be no use for us in the Night Dimension now that Wizeman is gone."
Upon hearing their decision, Jackle started to dash towards the Ideya. "I changed my mind! I wanna stay here with Bella!" But Reala held him back.
Queen Bella smiled sweetly. "Don't worry, Jackle. I'll be fine here. You need to take care of your friends."
Jackle gazed at her longingly. "I'll never forget you! And I…I love you!"
Bella walked up to him, looking bashful. "You know, I…I think I secretly always loved you, Jackle."
Jackle beamed with glee. "Really?"
"…No." Her smile was instantly replaced with a disgusted scowl as she punched Jackle in the face, so hard that he fell over. She stormed back to the others with her arms crossed, leaving Jackle, and everyone else, staring at her in astonishment.
"Ok, time to go!" Reala announced quickly. He guided a very stunned Jackle towards the portal and shoved him in. Clawz and Owl went next. Reala picked up NiGHTS and glanced over his shoulder at the waving Nightmarens. "Thanks, guys." he murmured before jumping in.
The journey is almost over! Get ready for the epilogue!