Chapter One: Alert

It started out as a normal day, I guess—if you consider being the "Bad Guy" normal. Being thrown off the roof and into a pile of sticky mud? Also normal. Felix being given a medal and pies and being flustered by loved ones? Standard. Me going to my pile of bricks? Regular. No cake for me. No love for me. No nothing.

But that was only the daytime! The dull, boring, haughty daylight that shone through our gamescreen was only a reminder of what I went through only a month- as live creatures called it- ago. But despite the danger and the realization of Turbo's hiding, the adventure was, overall, fun. I mean, thirty years of beating buildings up starts to get extremely annoying, especially when you're trapped doing so without any excitement whatsoever. Honestly, it may just drive you insane.

At night time, that's where the real action began. We all left to perform our own duties and tend to such; sometimes I visited Veneloppe. In other words, the grease monkey. Raven black hair and bold russet eyes, a button nose with that set and a cute look to indicate her young age, this girl rejected everything but herself to pursue one goal: to become the best racer yet. She was the first ally I'd ever made and I felt I owed it to her to set her up on the right path and to avoid being tricked by Turbo again- that is, if he was alive.

Word on the street said that his body- or what remained of it- wasn't there at all, not the crime scene. Veneloppe was terrified at the thought of him returning and fiddling with the codes once again, perhaps succeeding with his first ambition: to destroy her completely, now that her codes were bowdlerized. I was worried too, but for a different reason- would his interfering trigger another close call with the game plugs? Not to say that I wouldn't cry out if her codes were deleted; I was studying a different perspective.

I sighed in concern. Twiddling my fingers nervously, I sat on my bricks and looked to the darkening sky; the store would be closing up soon. Haze drifted across the firmament as the gamescreen flickered and sizzled uncertainly, and then wavered off. The open monitor had been shut down for the night. Shrugging off a cool breeze that travelled unsteadily down my spine, I heaved myself to my feet and unconsciously hoaxed with my overall strap as I made my way through the tiny world.

As I passed the building of which the Nicelanders and Felix resided, I felt a certain sense of peace overwhelming me. Finally, I had made my stand to them and they had concurred. I now got a cake with a proud title of "Our Favourite Bad Guy" splattered on it. It made my day completely.

Of course, not as much as seeing Veneloppe win a race. At times I would drop by just in time to see her finishing a chase. My heart soared, as did my lungs as I cheered with everyone else. Then I'd lift her onto my shoulders and she would squeeze my head- much to my discomfort- to express her joy. She'd never get bored of completing the finish line. She'd never let a grin slide from her face at the cheers and roars of the audience. And I knew that she sure as heck wouldn't forget the day we met, where I taught her to drive.

And of course, I'd never forget the moment where I saw her young face filled with so much glee as I did so. Her rich brown eyes sparkled with joy at the prospect of finally competing against the racers who taunted her for her heritage. I was the only one who really cared for her sincerely, whilst the rest now faked their liking of her at their new realization that she was now the ruler of SugarRush.

I shook my head haughtily. You don't just like someone you've been picking on for ages. It just doesn't fit. You need to really get to know them, to understand their actions, before you can pretend you know them. Heck, don't 'pretend' to know them at all! Use your genuine knowledge and put it to work. That's what I believe, and that's certainly what I discern.

A shrill, terrified scream ripped through the air. It was a girl's cry, coming straight from the Gameplug Tunnel. My heart rate immediately picked up as I lean against the Nicelanders' building, my maple brown eyes trained on the tunnel. Apparently Felix heard the shriek too, because he called down to me from his balcony.

"Ralph!" he shouted over the night breeze. I turn my head up, craning and straining against my will. "Did you hear that?" I nodded vigorously, running a giant hand through my spiked russet brown hair. "Should we check it out?" Before I could answer cautiously, another cry of fear echoed through the game world- this time, closer. The hairs on my neck rose in alarm.

"Let's go, Felix!"

Felix immediately threw himself over the balcony and landed cleanly on his feet, which didn't cease to amaze me. I shrugged off the surprise and bolted to the voices echoing from the tunnel, one that sounded vaguely familiar to a little girl I knew. Another scream fell on queue, alerting me that something was going on, and it certainly wasn't good. At all. And being the Bad Guy, I'd know all about that.

I finally reached the Gameplug tunnels just in time to have something small collide with my legs. Looking down, I saw a girl, no more then nine years old, trembling at her knees and thick jet black hair adorned with a little princess crown. Her little dress was ripped and ragged with what seemed like claw marks, effortlessly torn away to reveal a small brown skirt and a loose olive green sweater. A glitch- my glitch.

Tears streamed from her eyes like restless rivers as the kid struggled to her feet, quivering in fright. As Veneloppe's knees buckled beneath her, I lunged out and caught her with my 'freakishly big' hands, gently lifting her off the ground and cradling her with only one arm whilst she stared up at me with large, horrified amber eyes. "R-Ralph," she whimpered, her shoulders quivering unsteadily. I softly lift a strand of hair from her eyes- now I knew who was crying so much. Her eyes were bloodshot with hot tears.

"Veneloppe?" I murmured, gently leaning against the tunnel walls. She shook her head, her eyes still frozen with terror, then glitched a little.

I was taken aback by this action—it was impossible. She was glitching out of her game? But she was wearing her crown! But she was fixed! She wasn't a glitch anymore—at least, not when she wore her little hair ornament. There were so many possibilities, so many outcomes—but nothing prepared me for this! This was beyond the impracticable.

But there was something else…

She was sick.