Disclaimer: I don't own Wreck-It Ralph or anything associated with it.
Author's Note: Hi everyone, and welcome to my second Wreck-It Ralph fanfiction! :) I hope you enjoy it, and if you do I would love to hear your reviews - your words always encourage me to write more! I'm thinking this will be a two-chapter piece (originally it was going to be a one-shot, but started getting a bit too long). I've sneaked a paraphrased 30 Rock quote in there too, just because I thought it sounded like something Felix would say...haha. Thumbs up if you can spot it!
For anybody who doesn't know who General Lockload is, he is mentioned in the art book as one of the "missing characters" from the movie - he was Calhoun's boss and was permanently in the sick bay cased in a full-body cast. Credit to my friend Helenna for coming up with the idea of bringing him back and seeing how he plays into Felix and Calhoun's blossoming relationship!
Anyway - hope you enjoy!
The Return of General Lockload
A Wreck-It Ralph Fanfiction
It was late evening in Hero's Duty, and Felix was having considerable trouble with the idea that his girlfriend would cease to exist for the next twenty-four hours.
"And you're sure it won't hurt?" It was the tenth time he had asked the question and despite this he sounded no less certain. Sergeant Calhoun rolled her eyes and continued to pack away her belongings.
"I told you, short-stack. It's protocol. They line us up for a patch; we need to make sure we're prepared." She shut the container with a firm clunk. "And no," she smiled, "it won't hurt." Had she been in one of her crueller moods she might have played with him a little, but she could tell by the pained look of anxiety plastered upon his face that it would only make matters worse. "Just think of it as me going on a mission. I'll be back before you know it."
Felix took off his cap and ringed it timidly between his hands. "I have to admit I just don't understand these patches, ma'am. Ralph and I have been going for over thirty years now and we're doing just fine and dandy, if you don't mind me saying so."
Although she rarely acknowledged it, Calhoun admired the enthusiasm Felix had for his job. The world of Fix-It Felix, Jr. barely had a story to speak of. There were heroes and there were villains, but at its core it was rather like the handyman himself: straightforward, modest and unassuming. Felix had been fixing that apartment building since the day Litwak's doors opened, and each window pane he repaired only strengthened his zeal.
She leant down and put a hand under his chin. "Times have changed, Fix-It, and right now the kids want more story, more weapons and more explosions. Things aren't as simple as they used to be."
Felix offered a weak smile. "You know, my pop always used to say that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Calhoun laughed. "You'd better get out of here," she said, ruffling her fingers through his hair. "I'll meet you at Tapper's, eight PM sharp." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek; with that he was gone, his frantic footsteps and the jingle of his hammer echoing down the ship's corridor. Calhoun sat down on her bed, placed her hands on her forehead and let out an audible groan.
A few short moments later, the door whooshed open.
She sighed. "Felix, I told you to leave." There was no response. Glancing upward, she saw with surprise that standing in the entrance was not the handyman but the imposing figure of her long-time comrade, clad in full combat armour and looking down at her with a very serious expression. "Oh. Good evening, Kohut."
"Patch intel's in," said the marine, his tone as stern as his appearance. "Seems like Lockload's coming out of retirement."
"That old goon?" Calhoun eyed him carefully. "How substantiated are the reports?"
"Pretty substantiated," Kohut shrugged. "A couple of the boys heard Litwak talking to an engineer a few hours ago – said he came to make sure everything was in order. Then that green plumber – you know, the one who's always trying to be as big as his brother – sees him bring in the manual. We've got plot info, concept art, the works." A hint of a smile crept onto his face. "Looks like you won't be top dog anymore, Sarge."
Calhoun fell back onto her pillow. "I can handle him," she said. She paused for a moment before adding, "They didn't say anything else, did they?"
She breathed a sigh of relief. It was commonly accepted amongst the arcade's inhabitants that they had very little control over their fate - that they could be unplugged at any moment without the slightest hint of a warning. But for the newer games, the patch cycle brought with it another layer of uncertainty. With each patch the characters' memories were slightly altered to accommodate the new content. To Calhoun it felt intrusive, almost uncomfortable, as if a cy-bug were burrowing into her mind and planting its insidious eggs.
She shuddered at the thought. "Tell the troops to run a final perimeter check and prepare for downtime. I want this whole place locked down before the bugs start getting riled."
Kohut nodded. "See you on the other side," he said, giving her a quick salute.
As she lay in the relative darkness waiting for the switch-off her thoughts turned to the man she had last seen in a pre-assigned memory: General Lockload, her superior officer, sitting face-forward in a full-body cast. She had never seen him any other way; in her mind he was more mummy than man, forever comically wrapped in plaster in the ship's medical wing. His personality, however, was not so confined; he was strict, forceful and followed protocol to the letter.
She grimaced. As much as she dreaded it, it was time to meet the man behind the mask.
Tapper's was unusually empty without the soldiers of Hero's Duty. It had quickly become their favourite establishment – after all, the selection of drinks on offer far outweighed anything at Burger Time – and it seemed strangely silent without their presence.
"Sheesh, Felix – tough day today, huh? I don't think anybody got past level five." Ralph adjusted the strap of his overalls. It was true; it had been an afternoon with an inordinate amount of early deaths, which Felix usually had the quick reactions to avoid.
"I'm sorry, brother." The handyman scratched his head. "I was a little distracted, that's all."
"Still with the patch, huh?"
"Uh-huh. I don't know about you, but I find this whole business a little, well, preposterous." He refrained from saying what he wanted to – that was, that Tammy is just about perfect as she is – he usually kept the soppy talk to a minimum around his giant-sized companion.
"Well, I don't know," Ralph mused. "The apartment building could do with a new lick of paint – even if it is my job to wreck it."
"Maybe," Felix said absently. He glanced at the clock on the wall for the fifth time in as many minutes. "Eight PM sharp. Jiminy jaminy, she'll be here any moment."
Ralph smiled at him. In all his thirty years he had never seen Felix in love – and now that he had found it, it was clear he would never let it go. There was a new energy to him, a vibrancy that almost launched him out of his 8-bit existence into full, glorious HD.
The clock turned eight, and right on time the set of saloon doors swung open. Felix bounced off his seat with relief as Sergeant Calhoun strode into the room. It was then that he noticed that she was not alone, but accompanied by four soldiers.
He counted them off one by one. There was her right-hand man Kohut, and beside him the familiar figures of Collins and the forever shell-shocked Markowski. The fourth man was a mystery. Almost as tall as the wrecker himself, he was well-built with broad shoulders and a pronounced jawline. His hair was cut short and had turned grey with age, and a green military beret sat proudly upon his head. Most noticeable was his walk; he marched with a sense of authority, sniffing the air like a bloodhound on the scent of its quarry.
"Fix-It, Wreck-It," Calhoun nodded in acknowledgement– unusually formal, Felix thought – "I'd like you to meet General Lockload."
Felix held out his gloved hand, which to his embarrassment barely reached above the man's knee. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir," he said meekly, flashing him an awkward grin. The general peered down at him and wrinkled his nose. Only then did Felix realise just how large he was; from the tip of his cap to the toes of his boots, his entire body was covered by his looming shadow. A long moment passed before Ralph broke the silence.
"So, uh, why haven't we seen you around here before, general?"
Lockload prised his eyes away from the handyman with what seemed to be a great deal of effort. "Been out of action for six months, civilian - wounded on the front line in the course of duty. If you hear anybody say that generals sit safely in their tents sipping tea, well not me; I prefer to be in the thick of the action, to smell the blood in the air. Still, if it hadn't been for the sergeant here, the entire mission would have been a failure." He shot Felix another sharp glare. "So tell me, what is it you boys do?"
"I wreck things," said Ralph, "and Felix here fixes them."
Lockload grunted. "Sounds rather counter-productive."
"Well sir," Felix began, "it's a little more complicated than that. You see, it's the aim of our game to fix all the windows of an apartment building. When the players reach the top, they win a medal."
Lockload let out a low growl. "The only medals I award are to those brave men and women putting their lives on the line to keep the cy-bug threat at bay." He leant forward and stared Felix in the eyes. "Do you realise what could happen if one of those creatures escaped?"
The pair stayed silent. It was perhaps for the best that the general not hear that story.
"Sir," Calhoun interjected, "these two have been instrumental in the successful integration of our game. They are more than capable." Her voice was resolute and carried some palpable irritation.
Lockload laughed. "You know I respect you, Tamora, but don't be ridiculous. This fellow looks like he could barely hold a gun." He motioned to Felix, who by now had turned a deep shade of red.
"Actually sir, Miss Calhoun has taught me quite a lot about weaponry. In fact, I've visited Hero's Duty on more than a few occasions to help with the cy-bugs."
Lockload looked at him, then at the sergeant. Although they had only just met, Felix could sense the man's annoyance. "A word," he said to Calhoun, his voice simmering. He grasped her shoulder and led her out of the saloon doors.
Felix made to go after them, but Ralph held him back. "Easy. Let them go."
If it were not for that one day in the Fungeon, Ralph would have never seen his colleague so furious. Sitting cross-armed on his bar stool, his face was contorted into what he assumed was rage, though with Felix's cartoonish features the effect was more comical than anything.
"Now I don't mean to be rude," Felix huffed, "but I am irritated right now. Who does he think is, talking to people like that?"
"So the guy's a jerk," said Ralph. "Just ignore him. Works for me and Big Gene."
Felix said nothing.
He didn't want to admit that under the anger, buried deep beneath the outward show of his furrowed brow and folded arms was a very different emotion, one of which he was almost ashamed.
Carpentry 101: A Beginner's Guide to Birdsmouths, Cat's Paws and Jack Rafters. Felix was more than familiar with the book; he had read it hundreds of times. Realistically he didn't need to - not only was the knowledge of the complex terminology written into his code, but his magic golden hammer rendered it useless with one simple touch.
He didn't care. Reading the book gave him a strange sense of comfort, and as he moved his hand over the gilded name of the author he sighed. He traced the letters with his finger, following every dip and curve until the words met their end: Fix-It Felix, Sr.
The wind picked up, its shrill whistle drowning out the creak of the rickety old tram as it pulled into the stop and rattled against the sidings.
"There you are." A familiar voice. "I've been looking all over for you." Felix watched out of the corner of his eye as Sergeant Calhoun stepped out of the carriage and onto the platform. "You had me worried sick, soldier."
Felix didn't look up. "Oh, don't worry about me, ma'am."
She sat down beside him. As she did so a breeze gusted past, brisk and bitterly cold. Calhoun was instantly reminded of the freezing planet of Hero's Duty, an environment so harsh that it seemed to mirror the cruel nature of its insect inhabitants. Even through her armour she could feel the chill.
She shivered. "It's cold as fun out here. Why don't we find someplace warmer?"
Even in his short-sleeved work shirt Felix barely seemed to notice the biting wind. He stared down at his boots for a moment, then with some hesitation opened his mouth to speak. The words came out stilted, as if he had trouble forming them and was unsure whether they should be uttered at all. "Why… why doesn't he like me?"
Calhoun sighed. She'd been afraid of this. "Don't mind him, Fix-It. He's always been that way."
"But you only met him today."
As strange as it seemed, Felix was right. Before the patch the general was merely a spectre of a memory, a ghost locked away in her mind. Now the ghost had been brought back to life, and for the first time she had finally looked upon him with her own eyes. She shuddered to the core of her code; she knew her programming had been tampered with, and the thought frightened her.
"He's a general, Felix; he's programmed to be a leader. If he finds any sign of weakness in a person, he'll probe it."
They sat silently for a minute before Felix raised his voice. "Does he know about us?"
As much as it pained her, Calhoun could not look him in the eye. "No. I need to let him settle in first. He's like Little Mac in a china shop; a lot of muscle and nowhere to swing it. Believe it or not, his backstory is as tragic as mine. His son was killed in a cy-bug attack two years ago. His crewmates lied about it; said he was out there alone. The cowards didn't want to admit to running away. He's had trouble trusting anybody ever since."
She could tell by the look on the handyman's face that he was disappointed. "I just don't want to lose you."
Calhoun held him close and gave him a gentle squeeze. "That's a negatory, soldier." Although the honey glows ripening on his cheeks were no less cherry-red than usual, Felix shied away a little, almost embarrassed at his admission. It was then that she noticed the tattered book he was carrying. "What's that?"
She smiled. "I didn't know your father was a writer."
"Well, you know us Fix-Its - always dabbling in one thing or another." Felix's voice turned wistful, as if deep in reminiscence. "Pop and I, well gosh, we used to do everything together. This one time, we went fishing down by the lake. We caught all kinds of fish: blue fish, red fish…racked up hundreds of points."
As she listened to his story, Calhoun realised grimly that there had been few times in recent memory - at least not since the death of Brad - when she had found time to relax. To tell the truth, she didn't let herself; after what happened to him, after the abject horror she had witnessed, it didn't seem right. And fishing? She didn't say it to Felix, but being stuck on a god-forsaken hellhole of a planet swarming with genetically-modified insects severely hampered the idea. She smirked at the absurdity of it.
"So how long will the general be staying with us?" Felix asked.
"It's not for me to say, short-stack." Calhoun's shoulders fell. "If I had my way I'd send him packing out of the Triad System as soon as I could." She paused for a moment. Something sparked in her then, and she turned to him, a smile in her eyes. "Maybe… maybe you two should spend some together, like you and your dad. You might find you have more in common than you think."
Although he appreciated the effort at peace-making, Felix doubted very much that he and the general shared any mutual interests. From the short time he had spent in his company he seemed a cold man with little patience for anything but strict hard protocol; a far cry from his carefree and jovial nature.
He shrugged and let out a small sigh. "I suppose I could. We Fix-Its have always been about proper manners and showing due respect to those around us."
"Thanks, Felix." She gave him a gentle peck on the cheek.
The handyman felt his face turn positively scarlet. "No problem, ma'am." He shot her a playful wink, "But if you don't mind my brashness, those are some mighty nasty programmers who worked on your game."
A/N: Thank you for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts :)