Hello again!

This story is the sequel to Life in 16 Flavors and Gratitude, so it would be best if you all were to read those first. If you have, then welcome to the next story!

Disclaimer: I own a laptop, a pair of Converse, and thousands of dollars in student debt. Do I sound like I own anything in this story save my original characters.

As most things in Choko Pockystix's life, it started out small.

The party Queen Vanellope-hime—was she supposed to drop the -hime now? She should schedule in a meeting over that—had thrown was the biggest event in the arcade since the wedding of Pauline-san and Donkey Kong-san. Everyone from Mario-sama to the Angel Kids to TIE fighter pilots had been there, eating cake as if there was no tomorrow. Choko had enjoyed herself, the Queen and all the racers had enjoyed themselves, and all in all the party was a major success.

And with that success came little requests.

First it was Tapper-san asking if they could help reprogram the door handles to the bathrooms. Then it was Cyril-san groaning about incredibly stupid AI. Then it was Emi-san and Mischaela-san and the Paperboy and it seemed that every game in the arcade needed her code expertise. After all, she had helped restore Honey the Cat back to her game, and she had been a major player in the reprogramming of Sugar Rush. Going to Choko was obviously the smartest choice.

She didn't mind—she was glad to be of assistance! Pointing people in the direction of their Game Genies with the proper codes was easier than five minute cake compared to being Secretary to the Queen, and she had a healthy work ethic along with her moral compass.

But still, it was getting a bit overwhelming with being a secretary and a high tier boss and a racer and an ikebana hobbyist—that reminded her, she needed to schedule in a class with the High Advisor about setting up more civil activities, right after she was done meeting with Ai Ai-san about a ball physics error—and Choko was being spread thinner than watered down anko paste.

But as she adjusted the pocky sticks in her bun and set out to advise more characters, Choko felt a sense of purpose in her off-time duty.

It was official: she was lost.

She was pretty sure that Q*Bert-san had told her that Ai Ai-san was visiting DJ Hero 2 today, but maybe he meant Guitar Hero 2. The rhythm games sounded too much alike for her feeble understanding of Q*Bertese.

Choko huffed and straightened the sleeve of her kimono. It wasn't worth getting sour over, she just needed to ask for directions out of the giant rave she had stumbled into. The fact that she amounted to about 3 and a half feet in this game full of 6 foot tall ravers didn't help.

She tripped over the repetitive leg movements of a half-naked lady—and really, she was no Yamato Nadeshiko but come on, she has underwear longer than that woman's shorts!—and crawled towards the wall, the loud thrumming of electronic music mixing into her thoughts. She loved J-Pop so it wasn't much of a stretch to like EDM, but she struggled to concentrate on getting out when the bass dropped and filled her brain with wonderfully raging music fit for an intense mirror battle.

Inching towards the DJ booth, she ignored the giant track of music floating over their heads and climbed behind the giant speakers. She looked up to see a long haired DJ making the crowd go wild; Felix had pointed him out at the party, saying he was the guy to go to for any anniversary party. Clearing her throat, she shouted, "済みません (Sumimasen), but do you know where the exit is?"

He motioned for her to wait, then finished the track and let the crowd shout his name for a few moments before letting a DJ with a giant mouse head take over. Leading her to the backstage lounge, he smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, it's too loud when you're playing. Can I help you out?"

"Oh, not at all. I was supposed to meet Ai Ai-san here but I think he's in a different game, so do you know where the exit it?"

The man—teenager really, he looked to be about 20ish or so and his big glasses didn't help his boyish features—paused, then grinned. "Wait, I know you! You're the code master everyone's trying to talk to!" Choko blushed cherry red, and he continued, "Ai Ai was here earlier but had to bail to Dig Dug; I'll take you there."

He led her out a back door into the neon flashing landscape of DJ Hero, telling her to look out for any weak lights; apparently the boundary was acting up but he had marked the pockets. "I'm going to patch it up tomorrow if I have time. I know a lot about code myself—I'm a custom character, so data manipulating was literally built in my code—so I'll try and keep this game and Guitar Hero off your work list."

Choko laughed and hopped over a weakly glowing light. "That's a relief." She froze then flushed. "Oh, I've been so rude. My name's Choko Pockystix, nice to make your acquaintance."

"Well hello then, Choko. Skrillex is my stage name, but my friends just call me Sonny."

Choko liked making friends, especially the びしょうねん (bishounen) types.

Choko thumped her head against the wall, cursing the day she had neglected to tell Dig Dug how to eliminate invisible sinkholes in his game. As soon as she was out of this mess she was scheduling that in first thing tomorrow night.

Skrillex-kun had broken his glasses in the fall and was equally as miserable as she was, except that he was blind. By some sick twist of fate their combined heights of 3'8" and 4'7" wasn't enough to hoist Choko out of the hole, so this was shaping up to be a most wonderful time.

Footsteps echoed from up above and the two yelled out for help, Skrillex-kun adding in some very colorful language. The footsteps stopped, then a yellow furred cat with black hair pin two twin tails peered down. "Is that you Choko?"

"Honey-chan!" Choko bounced on the balls of her feet. "Can you help us out of here? We're too short and Sonny-kun has broken his glasses."

"Sure thing!" Honey-chan left for a long moment then the right side of their whole collapsed, revealing Dig Dug-san. They climbed (or in Skrillex-kun's case, hugged the wall and went at the speed of frozen molasses) out of the tunnel back up to solid ground, Honey-chan and Ai Ai-san trying not to giggle. "Lemme patch those glasses for you, mister."

Choko noticed with a small startle that Honey-chan directly fixed his glasses without using a cheat cartridge. Honey-chan paused, then shrugged, "When you spend 16 years talking code with your best friend, you learn a bit about manipulating it." She grinned brightly. "Thanks to you I can act on that."

Choko waved away the thanks—how could she not help someone in need of program fixing when she herself had spent 15 years in the void due to a virus?—before telling Dig Dug-san to go over his Game Genie and for Ai Ai-san to meet up with her at Sugar Rush tomorrow so she could see to his own game. Right now she needed to get back to Queen Vanellope-hime, and if Skrillex-kun and Honey-chan were to tag along and say hello, she wouldn't mind in the slightest.

Choko stifled a smile as Honey-chan overflowed Skrillex-kun's tea cup, the sugarplum tea spilling up to stain his pants a darker shade of black. Queen Vanellope-hime laughed out loud however, and soon the whole table was bent over with a bad case of the giggles. "So how did you all get to meet Choko?"

"Well, she got lost in my game and we bonded at the bottom of a sink hole, so I can safely assume that we're the best of friends now." Skrillex-kun and Choko giggled, and he wiped down his front with a linen. "Honey's a mystery though; one second she's helping us out of a pit, the next she thinks' I'm the Wicked Witch of the West."

Honey-chan stuck out her tongue. "Like anyone can see it with all that black you wear! What, was the rest of your clothes sacrificed in the name of the Hipster Lord?"

"Yep, the same cult that burned all your clothes and left you with a fabulously Gothic Lolita dress."

She glared at him for a murderous moment before breaking into a grin and nodding. "I like him."

The Queen laughed and shook her head. "Well, I'm glad to see you all are pals now, because I have a bit of a proposition." She stood up and gazed down at their expectant faces. "As we all know, no game is perfect and a lot of the games here in the arcade have glitches and bugs in need of fixing. I've talked to everyone in this arcade at least once, and the three people most qualified to fix those glitches—not just tell people a quick cheat fix, but actually patch the broken code—are sitting in front of me."

She smiled, hands on her hips. "We have Choko, an imported character who unlocked herself, who's been going around in her down time to help others. Then we have Mr. Skrillex, a character downloaded into a game without a hitch despite that he came from nothing at all, who's kept our arcade's rhythm games going strong all by himself. And then we have Honey, a former glitch, who knows more about cheat codes and how to deal with corrupted characters than anyone else I know. Guys, I think we have the makings of a team of...of code busters here."

Everyone blushed and shifted under her praise, Skrillex-kun mumbling about how it wasn't such a big deal. "But it is a big deal guys, just ask Honey what it's like to not be a glitch anymore. Just as me!" The Queen turned towards Choko, smiling fondly. "I think you guys can fix the whole arcade given the chance, which is why I'm promoting Choko to Executive Secretary of Intra-Arcade Code Regulations." She watched Choko's eyes go wide, smirking, "I got one of my personal attendants, Nilla Beanson, to fill in your old duties, Choko, so you have freedom for this job. Care to accept?"

"I..." Choko's mind was blown harder than Bubblebetty-chan's record setting gum bubble. She could serve both the Queen and the arcade now, and judging from the exited looks on Skrillex-kun's and Honey-chan's faces, now she had a team to help her. "I don't know what to say—"

"Then just nod and eat your cake before it gets old." Queen Vanellope-hime sat back down and adjusted her gloves. "You guys have a long list of games to check up on; you ready for it?"

Choko nodded with the rest of her "Codebusters", as her queen had put it, and smiled to herself. As long as they had their Action Replays handy and their spirits strong, they were ready for anything.

And end the prologue to a very long saga in the arcade!

The Codebusters are the imported character Choko Pockystix from Sugar Rush, the downloaded character Skrillex from DJ Hero 2 (that totally explains his cameo in the movie, I am a genius), and the former glitch Honey the Cat from Sonic the Fighters. They have the most knowledge of programming in this continuity, so now they get to game jump and get their hands dirty in all sorts of messes. Yay.

済みません: Excuse me

びしょうねん: a very pretty boy

I'll be sure to translate anything Choko says in Japanese. Also, the POV of the next chapters will switch between the three Codebusters, so only in Choko's parts will there be so many Japanese honorifics. Before you ask, -san is generic Mr./Ms./Mrs., -chan means Miss and is reserved for young female friends, and -kun is for young male friends. Annoying I know, but that's how she refers to people in thought and speech.

I hope you enjoyed, and if you have any requests on which games you want to see, put them by me cuz there's a lot I need to write about! :D