Uh… I should just stop starting up new stories. I keep getting inspired and now I have far too many going at the same time. But I have a very good excuse this time. I love Disney. I absolutely love it and a huge portion of my childhood involves their movies and their channel. I also love "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," so Disney making a wonderful movie that's essentially a combination of that and "Toy Story" by using video games? Who could resist?
"Wreck-it Ralph" is an absolutely wonderful movie. It really is. All four of the main characters are relatable and you just want to see them succeed. It also had a villain with a rather smart plan that only unraveled because of two things beyond his control: Ralph's midlife crisis and an image on the console. It very easily could have ended up with the villain continuing with his comfy life while forcing Vanellope to remain miserable. Even the side characters are interesting enough to make you wonder about them on the second viewing. Honestly, I have no idea where my current fascination with the Surge Protector came from…
Basically, it isn't my fault that I was inspired by this story. I just hope that it doesn't end up insanely long. And I warn you now that I have no idea whatsoever what sort of updating schedule it might have. Just sit back and enjoy the show. And review. I love reviews. They make me smile.
He wasn't the oldest inhabitant of the arcade. Technically, that title belonged to Mr. Litwak. And a couple of games were still here from before the owner invested in a proper power outlet. Not that many by this point, but a couple. Before that, the consoles were vulnerable to the whims of thunderstorms and electrical surges. It was mere luck that anything survived that chaotic and disorderly time. When the man finally invested in a surge protector for the arcade, the game characters were forced over time to adapt to his rules and security measures. But they were safer and he did his job, even when they hated him for it.
He was the Surge Protector; both a location between the games and an anthromorphic personification of the Game Central Station intended to interact with others. It let him actually develop a personality. Most of the time, surge protectors were installed to protect a computer, a television, or maybe a single game system. There was nothing much to interact with. Even if there was a console connected, there wasn't usually enough for characters to migrate between systems. A private home might have one or two rather than dozens. There would be no game jumping, no trips to Tappers, and no need to worry about characters dying outside their native games. Without all the traffic, he wouldn't need to be anything more than a piece of technology intended to keep delicate circuits from overloading.
He wasn't programmed to be anything. He didn't have programming. He didn't have the delicate components necessary to have programming and code. The Surge Protector was, in essence, a series of power outlets attached together with metal oxide varistors and gas discharge tubes to resist against excessive power and an overload protection switch to the power strip to kill off the electricity before damage could be done. While helpful at completing his purpose, MOVs and GDTs weren't meant to contain information like a microchip. He wasn't meant to have a physical body or a personality. But having so many games and so many characters depending on him for protection, even if they rarely seemed to consider it and they were resistant to his orderly rules, meant some of their autonomy began to wear off on him over the years. He crafted an appearance and personality that reflected his purpose. He'd been informed that he was "boring," "unimaginative," "obsessed with rules," and "dull," but none of them seemed to realize that having any form of personality was impressive since they'd all been programmed into existence rather than having to form self-awareness in order to fulfill his task.
His job went above and beyond that of just a surge protector. He was the Surge Protector. He couldn't and wouldn't interfere with what occurred inside the games themselves, but he was supposed to prevent outside problems from reaching them. Typically guarding against excessive electricity would be enough, but he included other potential problems. Anything that entered and exited games was monitored and assessed for their potential threats. He needed to be able to interact with the characters. He needed to discourage characters who suffer from one-hit knock-outs from wandering randomly into games with deadly traps and excessively-violent landscapes. He needed to keep them from transferring and leaving behind too many foreign objects from other games in case they caused problems to game play or captured the players' attention. He needed the ability to interact with the characters in order to protect them, so he created the blue glowing image of a bespectacled man in a uniform with a clipboard that served as the closest thing he could have to a body.
He could understand why his rules, his regulations, and his security checks made the characters hate him. Games were meant to be fun; he was meant to be the responsible one. He maintained order and restricted them. He was a hindrance to their actions. But someone had to guard them from any dangers that might pass through the Game Central Station, electrical or otherwise.
He watched them, going about their lives and ignoring him except during his random security checks. He watched old games become unplugged and new ones replace them. He saw characters vanish or become homeless when their console was detached. When Q*bert, Coily, and the others were left without a game, the Surge Protector focused more on resisting and blocking electrical surges rather than cutting off the power to prevent overloads. Losing all power with no game to hide in would be just as much a death sentence for them as being knocked into a pit of spikes in a platform game.
Turbo was a mistake. The original fiasco that led to the unplugging of two games occurred back when the surge protector was first added, before he'd gained a personality or any true awareness of the complexity of his required job. He didn't pay attention or care what the characters did back then when they moved between games. It was only later, sometime after the two games were taken away, that the Surge Protector began to focus on other threats to the consoles and began to work on more than just guarding against excessive electricity. By that point, Turbo should have been in the past and no longer any concern. There was no logical reason to think about the troublesome character and no reason to believe he escaped when no one else from the two games did, but that didn't prevent the personification of the Game Central Station from wondering how he could have missed the renegade character sneaking between games until the arrival of Sugar Rush to the arcade.
The Surge Protector knew he should have noticed. Even with the presence of hundreds or thousands of characters in the entire arcade, he should have noticed one slipping between games and not coming out. How many times did Turbo slip into a game and reinvent himself into someone new only to do it again when another racing game became more popular? The only way to guess would be to examine the number of those particular games that lost a character or completely stopped operating properly just as another game stole the spotlight. Even that might not work if he tried to be subtle or more careful in the past rather than completely taking over like he did in Sugar Rush. The only one who would ever know for certain how many game jumps he might have performed would be Turbo himself and it would take a miracle and a legendary hacker to pull together enough code to ask him. It might be theoretically possible depending on what exactly he'd manipulated in order to create his persona of King Candy and if there was some tiny fragment that wasn't completely destroyed by resetting the system, but the Surge Protector doubted that anyone would ever try to put him back together even if something did remain by a strange twist of fate. But he would keep a closer eye on the entrance to Sugar Rush just in case.
He was thankful to Wreck-it Ralph and his friends for fixing that long-ago mistake, though it was hard for him to express that particular emotion properly. Actually, displaying most emotions was a challenge for the Surge Protector, but he wasn't even supposed to have an identity in the first place and it took time to develop emotions. All those quirks, interests, and habits took time to accumulate into something that the characters would recognize as his personality and feelings. So it wasn't surprising that it required practice to perfect them and it took very strong events to prompt him into appearing as anything except bored disinterest. Maybe if he remained in the arcade for another couple of decades he would be able to do a better job at being relatable and demonstrating his emotions, but he doubted that he'd be that lucky. Regardless, he was thankful that his mistake of not paying attention to the glory-seeking Turbo back in the old days was finally corrected.
The first time Vanellope Von Schweetz left her game, the Surge Protector made sure to meet her for one of his "random" security checks and patiently accepted whatever behavior she might display. News traveled fast among the other games, so he was very much aware of how his inability to stop Turbo from starting his game jumping cut her off from her true place in the game and trapped her for fifteen years. He was supposed to protect the games from incoming threats and he'd failed her.
She was escorted out by Ralph the night after the entire "Cy-bug and Turbo/King Candy" fiasco, the girl in the green hoodie zipping around in excitement at being outside her game for the first time. Her short-range teleportation made her hyperactive movements even more chaotic to track. From his understanding, her "glitch" was a mildly corrupted form of her special ability that all racers in her game possessed and she was originally supposed to vanish and appear in a cloud of sugary sparkles rather than a flash of blue pixilation according to his research about the game. She was mostly back to how she was before Turbo's interference, but not all the effects of his tampering were gone and thus the girl was teleporting around in blocky bits of data.
Of course, appearing anywhere within the Game Central Station was one of the perks of being a personification of the place. When she got bored with trying to escape him, she started waving her arms through the electrical figure and asking if he was a ghost. Once the Surge Protector felt she'd demonstrated his normal intangibility enough for one day, he increased the power maintaining his form so that he was solid and she squeaked in surprise. The meeting wasn't perfect, but he asked the girl his standard questions and she called him a "boring pain in the gumdrops." He'd been called worse.
The Surge Protector continued to record and catalogue her movements in and out of her game, just like he did the inhabitants of every game. He observed that she and Ralph often vanished into each other's consoles as soon as the day was over. In a similar and interesting development, Fix-it Felix and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun were spending an equal amount of time together. While inter-game marriages were not a common occurrence, he was only mildly surprised when they announced the wedding. Everyone who went said it was rather nice and that they were happy for the couple.
Everything settled back down into a pattern. He could predict like clockwork many of the characters' actions and where they would go. After the game jumping and Cy-bug threat, it was nice to only have to worry about cherries being carried out of Pac-man. And weather reports.
He remembered when Mr. Litwak first connected a computer to the surge protector. It finally provided a small connection to the world outside of the Game Central Station. He couldn't enter the games he protected and he couldn't really enter the computer system, but he could pick up hints and pieces from it if he really concentrated on that connection. Locating anything specific was practically a nightmare, but it gave him something useful to do during the day when only homeless characters or the occasional background character would be outside of the games. He could observe the clock to tell the hour of the day. He could skim fragments from the internet sites the man visited the most, providing a few interesting facts about non-arcade games. And he could sometimes find the local weather report. Keeping track of upcoming weather problems helped him do his primary job. A storm was when it was most likely for a power outage or an electrical surge to occur. When there was a potentially dangerous storm approaching the area, he would switch the standard "don't die outside your game" to the more specific "don't be outside your game during a power outage" and encouraged the characters to return home. They didn't always listen to his warnings, but enough paid attention that he was thankful to have even the limited ability to find possible threats to their safety via the connection to the computer.
It was a thankless job for the most part and it certainly went beyond what he was designed to do, but he fulfilled his task without complaint.
After a lifetime of hiding from the authorities and trying to earn the right to race, Vanellope found it a little strange to adapt to being accepted by the other drivers. It was something she'd always wanted, but there were days where it was hard to forget how Taffyta and the others treated her. They tried to be nice now and sometimes she could even consider them her friends, but the memories of years of insults, tormenting, and being shunned didn't vanish overnight. It made it hard to be close to them at times, even when she knew that at least part of their behavior was because of altered coding. She could forgive them for the past and enjoy racing with them, but trust took time to recover from years of be persecuted for being a glitch. And if she was having a particularly hard day, she'd start wondering if they were only nice to her now because she was their leader. Still, things weren't that bad in general. They did treat her better now and she could race.
And now she had Ralph. He'd almost always come to watch her race for a position for the next day's roster, finding a spot in the bleachers between some of the candy civilians. And every few days, she'd skip out the Random Roster Race and instead spent the evening with her best friend. Sometimes they stayed in Sugar Rush. Other times they would slip over to his game. And lately they were starting to explore other places, especially on Saturday evenings since the arcade was closed on Sundays and they would have plenty of time. She loved being outside her game.
It almost didn't matter when they went or what they did. She just loved being able to go somewhere new. Vanellope refused to be contained or trapped any longer. Granted, Ralph insisted on her staying with him during these explorations and he would never let her go into a game he didn't know without being extremely careful. And bringing an armed Calhoun as back-up. After seeing the Cy-bugs up close, the girl accepted his caution as a sensible idea. But that hint of restraint barely made an impact on her nearly-insatiable desire to make up for years of confinement to a single game where everyone hated her.
She'd join Ralph for a visit to Tapper's, making him chuckle by blowing bubbles in her root bear and spinning on her stool. She'd poked her head into Hero's Duty while the Cybugs were inactive so she could look at the building her friend climbed once to gain a medal. She even tagged along for a Bad-Anon meeting even though Ralph pointed out she wasn't a bad guy. That was particularly interesting. She'd brought sweet snacks from her game to bribe her way in if necessary and listened to creepy zombies, a fire-breathing reptile, and a mixture of other villains discuss the difficulties of fulfilling their role in the games. She probably would have normally gotten bored sitting around listening to adults talk about themselves if she didn't remember how she'd been treated during King Candy's reign. She wasn't a bad guy, but he certainly treated her like one. Clyde offered to let her speak about her experience, but she declined the rather nice ghost and settled for perching on Ralph's shoulder. She had a good time and the other bad guys seemed to like having her around. Vanellope guessed that, just like her friend, they enjoyed having someone realize that they were rather friendly when they weren't playing their part in the game. Honestly, she really began to wonder why every other cotton candy-headed character in the arcade couldn't figure out that they didn't need to be scared of or hate the bad guys.
The racer enjoyed every moment outside her console. Well, maybe not every moment. Almost every single time Ralph entered or exited a game, that blue humanoid collection of static popped up to question him. The first time she saw the Surge Protector, she thought he was kind of cool-looking. He was practically as fast as she was at glitching and he was like a hologram. He was just so different than anything in Sugar Rush. Then he did something to turn solid and touching him went from a weird crackling sensation as her hand passed through to a stinging shock, ending her fun. Then she learned how stiff and boring he was. There weren't any teachers in her game, but Vanellope imagined he'd be the kind to put students to sleep. And when Ralph later complained that the "random" security checks always happened to him, the girl decided to make the Surge Protector into her new mortal enemy. She really wasn't that trusting of authority figures after her life as a glitch (carefully ignoring the fact that being a president technically made her an authority figure), but picking on Ralph was inexcusable.
Random teleportation around the Game Central Station, throwing gummy worms through the intangible figure, and one time rocketing her kart out of her game in an attempt to run him over were all tried when she was meeting her friend at his game and was unsupervised. It wasn't like it could hurt the blue figure, but she could make his day miserable just like he was apparently trying to do to her friend. Granted, he rarely reacted with more than mild annoyance, but it was at least something. When Ralph finally learned about her war against the boring, nearly-emotionless Surge Protector (the kart blew away all chances of keeping it secret), he drew the line and told her to stop. He pointed out that while the bureaucratic entity might be a pain to deal with, she was the one acting like the racers who smashed the Lickity-Split and shoved her into a chocolate puddle. Though Vanellope argued that she was nothing like that, she agreed to keep her acts of rebellion down to a more reasonable level. Thus, she started devising new and more unusual answers to the Surge Protectors questions.
But other than dealing with the most boring person in the entire arcade, she loved her life. She got to race all day and she got to hang out with Ralph at night. Sometimes she got to see Felix and Calhoun (she couldn't imagine anyone calling the woman "Tamora" except for the woman's husband). They were fun in their own way, though Felix tended to worry more than even Ralph did about her safety and Calhoun could be sort of intense when it came to solving a problem. Her automatic solution seemed to involve violence or the threat of violence. And if that didn't work, she blasted away until there was nothing left to be a problem. Needless to say, she might make it a little less risky when they visited an unknown console, but she also made those around them nervous about setting her off. But Vanellope found it interesting that Felix managed to smooth out her rough edges while she helped the hammer-wielding hero demonstrate he possessed an actual backbone underneath all that well-mannered and friendliness. The pair balanced each other out like how some candy did better with both a sour and a sweet flavor together.
She wasn't programmed with parents or siblings. She didn't even have them in her back story. That didn't mean Vanellope didn't recognize her family when they decided to drop into her life with a medal, a magic hammer, and a hover board and kicked King Candy out of power. She was still the closest to Ralph, but Felix and Calhoun were just as important in their own way. They weren't quite parents, but they weren't just friends either. They were somewhere in between. Between Felix's desire to fix everything ranging from just a bad day to hurt feelings, Calhoun's violently-protective streak that she directed towards anyone she considered under her command, (regardless of whether it was her soldiers, the wrecker who was still a little nervous about her reactions, the little girl who kept trying to borrow the hover board for racing against Sonic someday, and her husband), and Ralph's wonderful combination of fun big brother and proud father, Vanellope figured she had enough parental figures she needed in her life. It was certainly a step up from living alone among the garbage.
Today was Saturday, which was quickly becoming her favorite day of the week. They'd had a ton of players today since the kids didn't have to go to school and one of them managed to have Rancis knock Taffyta into a pile of vanilla icing. The girl was still trying to get the stuff out of her hair. As soon as the final race of the evening was over, Vanellope ran for the exit. With the arcade closed on Sundays, there wasn't any Random Roster Races until later and she was planning to take full advantage of her free time.
Crossing the border of Sugar Rush was now as easy as breathing. No longer was it an un-crossable barrier for her. She smiled to herself, marveling at the simple act of leaving her console. After all this time since King Candy's demise, she still enjoyed that new freedom.
Her musings about how easy it was to do something that once was impossible were brought to a halt as she reached the Game Central Station itself and a familiar buzzing erupted. Vanellope rolled her eyes as her current nemesis appeared in front o her with his clipboard.
In his bored and disinterested tone, the Surge Protector asked, "Name?"
"Admiral Snotbubble, the Supreme Commander of the Candy-coated Hobo Army," she recited without hesitation. "You can join us if you're willing to bring me my weight in marshmallows. Or you could surrender and become my obedient servant in charge of giving my army foot massages. Either way works for me."
"Sheriff Hairball of the Giant Feline Police Department. I'm investigating a string of cat burglars stealing all the catnip and rock candy from the city."
"Sonic the Hedgehog," she declared. "The soon-to-be second fastest character in the arcade."
"It would be easier for everyone if you would be more cooperative, President Von Schweetz," he stated, glancing up briefly from the clipboard in his hand.
"Well, you already know my name, Genius," she pointed out, crossing her arms. "And you saw where I came out. If you're so worried about making things easier, why do you bother asking stuff you already know?"
"Protocol. I'm merely following the proper procedure."
She shook her head in annoyance, "Who in the world came up with the procedure? I should find them and stick them in the Nesquik Sand."
"That would be me," he responded in a dry and practically bored tone.
"You? Come on," she complained. "Do you honestly love being in the way and wasting everyone's time so much that you had to invent excuses to do it? Is that why you invented all these security checks and rules? I just want to have some fun without me or Ralph being stopped every time because you like to be a sour lemon drop and get in the way."
"Destination?" asked the Surge Protector, for all intents and purposes ignoring her complaints.
Rolling her eyes and groaning, she said, "Fix-it Felix Jr."
"Anything to declare?"
"You're way too slow and boring."
Without changing his tone in anyway, he responded, "I get that a lot."
"I'm sure you do," commented Vanellope. "Can I go now or do you have other dumb questions to ask, Officer Sparky?"
He turned his head slightly, apparently glancing at another game entrance, before answering, "I have all the information I require."
He vanished, dissolving away into static electricity and the girl took it as her cue to make a run for Ralph's game before she could be delayed further. Happily, the entrance to his console was across from hers. So Vanellope only needed to dodge a few other characters to reach it. And if they weren't moving fast enough and she couldn't just get around them easily, she wasn't afraid to glitch past the obstacle. She dove through the outlet just in case the Surge Protector decided to reappear.
Riding the slow and rickety train, Vanellope was practically bouncing by the time she rolled into the station. She could see the building, the one that was destroyed and rebuilt for every level. The Nicelanders were straightening up and the orange figure of Q*bert was vanishing into the newly-constructed houses. The inhabitants of Fix-it Felix Jr. barely even blinked at her arrival. She and Calhoun spent enough time in the game that it wasn't even a surprise to them anymore, though they'd probably always be jumpy around Felix's wife. But none of them were of any concern at the moment.
"Hey there, Stinkbrain," she greeted, skipping up to her friend. "Have a good day smashing stuff to bits and tossing Gene out of the building?"
Scooping her up with his giant and destructive hands, Ralph gave her a quick hug and chuckled, "Hey, Kid. Everything went great. And how'd your racing go?"
"It went awesome. Taffyta was creamed. Almost literally. And I was picked over half a dozen times in a row today."
Felix gave her a smile, "It should like you had a fine and dandy day. Any idea of what the two of you eager beavers might be planning this evening?"
"We're going exploring," Vanellope declared, climbing onto Ralph's shoulder and throwing up a fist. "It'll be so cool."
Ralph reached up and plucked her off, commenting, "Don't get too worked up. We're keeping it sort of tame. I was thinking we start with Tetris, maybe swing by Pac-Man later and say 'hi' to Clyde, and finish off by poking our heads in Dig Dug. You know, a few of the classics."
"Well, that's not exactly a night of trying to beat Sonic's speed or anything, but I'm up to it," she stated.
"Sounds like a swell idea," Felix remarked. 'I'm headed over to Hero's Duty to see Tamora." He gave a rather distant and happy look as Vanellope struggled not to giggle. "I've been thinking about my dynamite gal all day."
"I'm sure she's been thinking about you to," commented Ralph.
"Yeah, I bet you've been on her mind the whole time she's been blasting Cy-bug into pieces and yelling at her troops," added the girl, only partially joking.
"She's probably been too busy to think about me much," stated Felix, taking off his cap and twisting it slightly in his hands. "There have been a lot of players here today because of the weather."
"Really?" she asked, trying to get a glimpse of the outside world through the screen. She knew that their console was angled so that they could see through the front door of the arcade, but she wasn't at a very good position to look out at the moment. "What kind of weather?"
"Rain," answered Ralph. "All day, in fact. The kids prefer to do things inside when it's raining, so they end up at the arcade more often in bad weather."
"I'm glad it doesn't rain in Sugar Rush," Vanellope muttered. "I'd hate to have it interfere with my racing."
Heading towards the train out of the game, her friend pointed out, "It's probably for the best. I'd hate to figure out what would rain out of the sky in your game. Chocolate milk?"
She laughed and grabbed onto his oversized hand, tugging him along excitedly. Felix followed after them quietly, his rather goofy expression demonstrating that his thoughts were still on his wife.
The girl knew she didn't look like a gamer. From her love of the color pink, her blond hair, and the fact she wasn't a boy all suggested otherwise. Only the fact she wore glasses fit the normal gamer stereotype. But she loved to play all sorts of video games. There were times she believed that she spent more time at Litwak's arcade than she did at home. Her parents simply provided her allowance in quarters.
She'd just finished another day trying to beat her personal best at most of the games. Once the arcade closed for the night, she'd returned home to her awaiting school assignment and the knowledge that she would need at least a B. She didn't want to find out what would happen if she failed to maintain her grades. At the least, she'd have less time to try and get all the way through Hero's Duty without being eaten.
A distant rumble of thunder briefly tugged her attention away from her writing. She frowned, trying to remember if the forecast was supposed to be just for rain or if they mentioned the possibilities of lightning. The girl couldn't recall. Either way, it sounded like there was an actual storm rolling in. She shrugged to herself, simply satisfied that she'd made it home before the really bad weather could arrive.
Yeah, I'm not even going to even guess when the next chapter will be. It could be soon or it could be months from now.
In regards to Vanellope's glitching, I've heard people claim it might actually be a special ability she's supposed to have in the game (like Candlehead being able to light up those cherry bombs when no one else can) and that she simply forgot how to use it properly. Hence why she could still teleport after resetting the game and was no longer trapped. And why the gamers could apparently press a button to activate it. Other people thing it really is a bug in the system since it does still look like a glitch in the program when it activates (the blue pixilation). I've decided to split the difference. She originally had the teleportation ability prior to Turbo's takeover, but it used to look all pretty and fancy in a way that would match the style of the game (in this case, vanishing and appearing in a cloud of sugary sparkles), but being turned into a glitch corrupted the animation for that sequence. Thus, it still works gameplay-wise for the players, but it doesn't look as nice anymore.
I'd love to have your feedback. It tends to make me happy. Thanks.