Hey, second chapter. It's a bit of a lull in this one, but I really wanted to flesh out the characters and how they would react to something like this happening, very emotion heavy. I enjoyed writing it, but there's more action in chapters to come!
Inside the now darkened game of Fix-it Felix Jr there was panic. It was clawing away, scratching and snarling like a caged Cy-bug as it weaved it's way expertly throughout the codes and numbers of the avatars and characters. Amongst the pain, confusion and anger the hero of the game stood, still looking up at the screen with a look of raw confusion and terror scrawled across his face. He was rooted to the spot, thousands of thoughts rolling around his head in a convulsing wave, searching and imposing on his very doubts and fears. He knew that he was supposed to be the hero of his game, and that meant he was supposed to be strong and fearless – but right now? He felt like he just wanted to go and crawl under a stump and pretend that this wasn't happening. The handyman knew that the rest of the characters (within his game and those who'd moved into the small city that they'd built behind their apartment block) should be at the forefront of his mind, but his thoughts were so jumbled he didn't know what he was going to do.
"Felix, Felix buddy you there?" it was the worried voice of his colleague, who'd scrambled down from the roof until he realised what had gone wrong. "Felix!" the four-foot hero snapped back to attention when he realised that his brother was placing one large gentle finger lightly on his back. "Fix-it?" he probed.
Then it hit him.
Tammy had seen the machine break, the picture on the screen explode into thick lines of elongated colour that stretched their way across the machine like a venomous snake. He felt like his knees were going to buckle, and breathed in a shaky breath, inhaling steadily as he tried to calm his nerves.
"FELIX!" it was a cry of a particular Nicelander, as he stalking towards the shaking hero, his tiny fists clenched at his sides and a glower taught across his face. "What's going on?"
The hero didn't answer, still staring transfixed at the screen.
"FELIX!" the landlord snapped, his voice pitched with ferocity.
"One second Gene," the wrecker placed one of his large hands to prevent the NPC getting any nearer. "He needs some time to gather his thoughts,"
"No, he needs some time to think-"
"My lands, it's all gone," his voice shook with slightly untamed emotion.
"Felix!" the handyman turned to see that Mary was hurrying towards him, the rest of the NPC's in tow, Q*bert and the other extras bringing up the rear. The growing cacophony of noise gradually getting closer.
"Felix?" the villain of the game crouched towards his brother, concern written across his kind face.
"My lands brother," the hero replied. "I think-"
"What's going to happen Felix?" the landlord demanded, his face forming into a sneer. "What's going to happen to us?" there was a murmur of agreement throughout the crowd.
"Well," the handyman sucked in a shaky breath of air, trying to gather his thoughts, and turned back to the characters within the game who depended on them, for their livelihood and their safety. The crowds murmuring building like a wave out at sea. "I," his voice trembled, the real shock of of the situation that was occurring finally hitting them. The angry voices of the Nicelanders and the rest of the game community rising furiously.
"Hey! Give him some time to think!" the wrecker snapped angrily, silencing the rest of the game almost instantly.
"Thanks Ralph," the handyman smiled. He turned back to the rest of the Fix-it Felix Jr. game, and swallowed, knowing that he'd be the barer of bad news. "The reason that we can't see out of our screen is because the screen's broken, we've somehow developed our kill screen," there was a gasp of confusion and terror that ran through the crowd. "I think it's our age, the game's gone," there was a gasp of anxiety across the front of the apartments lawn. "The only way that we're gonna get fixed is if we're completely rebooted,"
The murmuring had dissolved into a cold, hard silence, it reverberated throughout the quiet constant-night, even the constant sound of the crickets that nested themselves amongst the branches had gone silent. Every single pixel that created the eight-bit game had seemed to have stopped in shock.
"I think," he was trying to keep his voice steady. "I think we need to start evacuating procedures. Tonight if possible, I gather that we're gonna be unplugged in the mornin'," there was a wail from one of the NPC's and someone yelled in frustration. His ears felt fuzzy, and he didn't hear as Ralph stalked over to the nearest object (turned out to be a tree) and punched one gigantic meaty fist straight through the pixilated wood, ignoring how the Nicelanders flinched. "They're likely to pull the plug, but I'd want to, think Litwick's gonna try and give us one more chance,"
There was a small crowd gathered around the game-gate of Fix-it Felix Jr. the voices were rising in confusion and anger as several SP's tried to prevent the surge that would most likely cause a power outage. Several background characters had managed to sneak out of their game to try and help with the undoubted rescue effort that was going to be needed to evacuate the thirty-year-old game. As he'd not been selected in the previous fight, and it was gaining towards lunchtime, a well-built wrestler who's well-defined muscles were showing by the lack of clothing, stood, a head above most of the other characters, who were demanding to know what had happened to the oldest machine in the arcade. The well-built man heard heavy clunking footsteps of one of the Hero's Duty soldiers coming up from behind him, turning he saw that it was none other than Markowski, with his helmet off, and gun slung across his back. The wrestler could see that there was a deep frown etched across his face.
"Markowksi, good to zee you yes?" the y-fronted clad man greeted, his tone mirroring the anxious look on the marine's face.
"Could be better Zangief," the trooper replied. "Has there been any information?"
"Aye, no," the Russian replied, his thick accent laced with anxiety. "There's been no word on zee characters, zee SP's aren't lettin' anyone through,"
The trooper's frown deepened. "That's not gonna make the Sarge happy, we lost her in today's game," he paused. "At least it's lunch time, give her a well earned break - ooaf!" the marine almost barreled the wrestler over as something small and hyperactive spun out into his side. Glancing down both men saw there was a small child scrambling out of their racing kart, a look of anxiety across their normal innocent face. "Kid watch it!" the marine snapped, pulling himself off a slightly confused looking Zangief. The two males glanced down to see a concerned looking racer, the candle that was perched on top of her head was burning brightly and there was confusion set into her eyes.
"Watch it kid!" the marine snapped, finally disentangling himself from the wrestler. "You'd take someone's foot off with that thing!"
"Please," the girl snapped, "I'm done talking to you!" she scrambled out from the kart and was about to push out through the crowds, but the marine grabbed her back, causing her to yelp in surprise and kick out towards his face.
"Listen kid, the SP's haven't let anybody in since the screen went down an hour ago," he ignored the scrabbling child as she tried to kick at his arm and bite down at his hand.
"Wait," the Russian voice came up behind him. "Aren't you one of zee racers?"
The girl stopped struggling and glowered back at the wrestler. "What's it to ya?"
"Woahs little lady," Zangief put his hands up in surrender. "We are zee big guy's friends as well,"
The girl seemed to relent at that point and sighed. "Could you put me down?" the marine nodded and placed the racer gently back down next to her kart. "Sorry I'm worried about the Present, she crashed out as soon as the screen went dead, it was like she knew, I've had to go and report back to her," she glanced up at the two men. "Anything happening?"
"Not as far as we know kid, but why are you here and not the President?"
Glancing up at the taller marine and admitting a long-suffering sigh (due to the soldier's prolonged idiocy). "Because the President's on the Roster Board for today, and we can't risk getting un-plugged if she's not on the screen at the start of the game."
"And why wouldn't zee president be okay to do zee race?"
"That's confidential Chesty," she snapped towards the wrestler, her voice sounding hurt. She turned away from the two taller men, arms crossed defensively over her chest, a childish scowl torn across her face.
"Hey SP, whatsa goin' on?" the crowd silenced, to see the lesser loved Mario brother worriedly walking towards the game gate. His hat was haphazardly skewed upon his head, and he looked like he was going to have a near mental breakdown.
"Mister Lugie," the Surge Protector acknowledged, there was angry mutter throughout the crowd.
"Yeah, why are you not answering Zangeif and the peoplz?" the wrestler demanded, trying to buff himself up to his fullest extent, by heaving out his chest and rippling his muscles.
The Surge Protector looked unfazed and turned his attention back to the Mario brother. "I do not wish to alarm you but the screen to Fix it Felix. Jr. went down over half an hour ago," there were shocked gasps and panic started to flutter across the wave of people. "We have no idea what it is, or how it formed, but some predictions are that it's a permanent kill screen," there were a couple of audible gasps that wound their way around the heightening panic. "This will mean that Fix it Felix Jr. will be undoubtedly unplugged. We have a firewall in position at present-"
"NO!" there was an angered screech, and the crowd turned to see an injured little girl storming towards them, her chocolate brown eyes narrowed into slits and her arm wrapped up to her side. "Listen to me you big glowing doofus!" the startled crowd parted in surprise as she stalked towards them, her anger and frustration making her seem twice the size she normally was. "What about all those other characters that live in Hammer Time's game huh? What about the characters that live there?" (to her credit, at this point the SP was looking rather uncomfortable). "Why don't you look for some ways to fix it instead of causing more damage. How many characters are we gonna loose if Fix it Felix Jr. goes down?"
"What do you expect me to do little missy?"
"Little missy?" the young girl pulled herself up to her full height (although she only reached up to the virus controller's knees, and glowered up at him. "There's only one person in this whole entire arcade that's allowed to call me that, and by your selfish ways he's stuck in THERE-" her angry tirade was stopped as her friend placed a hand on her shoulder, pulling her back and trying to sooth her furious temper.
There was an awkward silence, and a fractured cough.
The SP sighed and realised that he finally had a chance to continue. "Is everybody now going to allow me to speak?" there was a murmur throughout the crowd. "The only reason that the fire-wall is up is because we don't know what's exactly happening with the game. The most likely thing to happen to a game in a situation like this is for the game to be unplugged and reset," he paused and readjusted his glasses. "Although I think that Litwick will give Felix one more chance, due to the fact that this game is such an old machine," there was a rippled murmur. "Look we knew that this day would come sometime, just not when. So please can you quieten down and proceed back to your own games. It won't be good if everybody's game starts to have a O.O.O if characters aren't present," there was a pause and he was going to wait for anybody's opinion. "If the worst comes to the worst there will be a rescue operation in place to evacuate the game and volunteers will be required. Now please head back to your own games," there were disgruntled voices mingled together as they faded away back to their own terminals. The SP sighed and rubbed his forehead with his fingers to try and prevent the raging headache from forming.
This day could not get any worse.
He glanced up to see a furious marine storming towards him, pistol in hand and lip curled into a murderous sneer.
Apparently it could.
Anger and doubt, two emotions that were clouding her thoughts and that she really didn't like to admit that she had were at the forefront of her mind. The tall, beautiful woman was stalking towards her husband's game, fury etched onto her face, and her hand clasping her personal short range pistol so tight that her knuckles were turning white. Not to her surprise she saw a young girl, with liquoriceebony hair, standing with another racer who seemed to be rubbing her arm in comfort. Lowering her weapon and holstering it at her hip she strode towards the pair of children, still not breaking eye contact with the SP.
"Hey Princess, no tears alright?" in a rare moment of public empathy the woman crouched down on one knee.
"I'm not crying," the young girl replied through the sleeves of her teal-green hoodie. "I'm just worried about Stinkbrain and Hammer Time,"
"We all are kid," the Sargent put a tender hand on the child's shoulder, only now realising that her obscured arm was tightly protected within a sling. "Cavity what in sugar-kingdom happened?"
"President Vanellope had a crash," the girl who was standing next to the self-proclaimed President replied calmly, giving the marine a look that was far from a smile.
The Sargent couldn't help but let a small smirk of satisfaction slip onto her lips as she watched the young ruler step way from the other racer.
"Candlehead please can you just get back to Sugar Rush?" the president commanded softly. "I wanna try and find out more about what's going on," she paused, and the Sargent watched (with some pride) as the young girl straightened herself up and looked her fellow racer straight in the eye. "Can you also tell Gumball to find if we've got any suitable land for housing?" the other girl gave her friend and ruler an odd look, but after a directed movement towards their game gate the candle-headed girl leapt into her kart and shot of through Game Central Station with an air of determination.
"Kid?" the Sargent turned her attention, fully towards the small girl, who too her surprise lunged at her in a full air-exhausting hug (the Sargent was sure that if she didn't have her armour on she'd at least broken a rib). "Kid, okay," she soothed, rocking the small suddenly crying child gently. "What's the deal with these salt-falls huh?" she pulled the girl away and watched as the President furiously tried to scrub away the tears that were making track-marks down her cheeks. Gently the Sargent pulled the sleeve of the girl's hoodie from her lips and stood briskly, surprising the young wide-eyed girl as she turned towards the Surge Protector. "All right SP what's going on? Why did I see the screen break in my husband's game?"
"I have no idea Sargent Calhoun," the man replied stiffly, but right now, with anger and fear bubbling like the geyser's in Diet Cola mountain within her stomach the woman was in no mood to heed a unconfident answer.
"What state is my husband's game in?" she snarled, her voice deadly low, the little girl pressed closer to the woman she saw as a surrogate mother and sister all at once, watching as the two adults silently sized each other up. "Right SP," the woman sneered. "I've had enough of your bullroar," she wrapped her fingers warningly around the handle of her gun. "I want to know what's. Happened. To. My. Husband?"
"I-" the surge protector started.
"If you say that you don't know I wouldn't bother opening your mouth-"
"We haven't done a full preliminary check yet," the bespectacled man continued. "We won't know about their game status until at least closing time, and that will be after the support technician has come into Litwick's but that might not be until tomorrow morning," inside the woman deflated with annoyance, but it didn't show on her face.
"Can I still see Stinkbrain?" with the entirety of her thoughts based on her husband's predicament the woman had completely forgot the small child that was clutching desperately to her leg. Gingerly she placed a hand tenderly on the child's head. Pointedly ignoring the look that the SP was giving her.
"Well?" she prompted. "Because I'd sure as hell would like to know how my husband is doing in there,"
This seemed to finally dampen the anti-virus's program's resolve and they saw his shoulders sag. "Fine, I'll see what I can do," she felt the younger girl grab a little closer onto her leg in anticipation. "But I'm not promising anything,"
Well, she thought as the SP faded from view to catch some other poor character who was game jumping. It's better than nothing.
We're gonna be unplugged, we're gonna be unplugged, oh my lands this is the worst thing that coulda ever happened to us. Oh my... his thoughts repeated themselves like a broken record as the protagonist paced his – now – empty apartment. Running his hands through his hair, for what felt like the thousandth time he discarded his beloved hat on the floor and finally seemed to still his worried pacing. His belt had long since been placed lovingly on the kitchen counter and his gloves had been thrown haphazardly across the room in an uncharacteristic fit of anger.
He couldn't get the thoughts of a semi-distraught wife desperately trying to get to him (well he hoped that was going to happen).
Suddenly there was a hasty knock at the door, and he glanced over to it in surprise. Three heavy lumbering knocks sounded again, and he realised who it was. Collapsing back down onto the sofa he called out a greeting.
"Ralph brother, it's open," at his explanation he lifted his head to see the giant of a man lumber through the apartment door, his face falling into a frown at the state of the room.
"What happened in here Felix?" the man couldn't help but stop his face from falling even further at the partly trashed apartment.
"Nothin'," the shorter man replied, curling closer into the sofa cushions, a sudden wave of nausea hitting him full in the gut.
"Felix buddy are you okay?" the wrecker asked, urgency tight in his voice.
"No Ralph I don't think- ARRGH!" he let out a sudden cry of pain and curled up into a tight foetal position as his co-worker watched in horror. Lines of blue code and slinking numbers expelled themselves from his body, twitching and streaking across his being like thin waves of blue smoke.
The wrecker could only watch, shocked and surprised as his friend cried out in pain.
Those few seconds felt like eons, but the spasms gradually slipped away, leaving a confused and shaking Felix curled up into the arm of the settee, his hands covering his head from an unknown threat and his breathing ushering in through rapid fitful gasps. The handyman let out a small moan before collapsing back into the sofa, staring up at the ceiling with a look of fear and desperation in his big round eyes.
"What on earth just happened Felix?" the shorter man rolled over so he could watch his larger friend carefully, and try to gage his reaction.
"I glitched," he replied as if it was nothing, although is voice held a quivering tone to it that implied there was something more behind his tumultuous situation. "I didn't think that this would ever happen," he swallowed down the nausea as he sat, swinging his legs over the edge of the settee. "Oh brother," he groaned distraught. "How am I gonna tell Tammy about this?"
"First you're goin' to tell me what in Litwick's name was that?" the wrecker counteracted, equally confused, his voice taught with worry.
"I," Felix sucked in a breath, even the very notion of trying to explain the situation to his brother and co-worker seemed like an impossible task. "I thought this would never happen," he buried his face into his open hands and let out a shaky breath. There was a creaking of wood and the sofa sunk heavily as his co-worker sat next to him, placing a warm comforting hand on the smaller man's back. "I didn't believe the stories Pa told me when I was growin' up," the handyman shuddered. "I always thought that I was a part of a programmed code, it turns out I ain't," he let out a breathy sigh. "Ralph I'm a glitch,"
His counter-part looked at him in shock. "What? Felix you gotta be joking no way are you a glitch!"
The shorter man smiled back to his brother. "That I am brother. I'm linked, in some impossible way to this machine, consequently when the cabinet goes down I go down," he exhaled shakily. "I've never told anyone about this so you gotta listen to me Ralph," he paused and fiddled with his fingers. "To date, that I know of, I'm the only character that has ever been born naturally – well as naturally as you can – within a game,"
The wrecker scrunched up his face in confusion. "Wait- what?"
"I was born Ralph, I had two parents, they weren't just scratchy memories drawn up by some binary code," he swallowed. "I remember some of it, well before," he hesitated, and scratched his ear nervously. "When the original game was in development, it went through testing, obviously the cabinet was completely brand new, and there were numerous glitches within the code. Our old machine, had been running fine throughout the testing," he paused and swallowed. "Well until I came along," he chuckled humorously. "Gee at first they thought that I was little glitch and were gonna pull the plug, but the game developers preferred my image to the one of my parents. I still remember," his eyes glazed over with a dark, pain filled vale. "The original game was gonna be called Fix-it Felix, and Pa was gonna have a screwdriver instead of a hammer, but it all changed when they spotted me, and there was a power surge.
"Things happened that night I never can quite remember, I was two at the time – and the game had been in development over three years," he swallowed. "They thought that I was a glitch, the machine went down, and the plug was pulled just as they were gonna announce the new game. I woke up and I was, well," he gestured to himself. "Somehow mine and my Pa's coding had gotten mixed with the power surge, and that had caused memories to sprout and accelerated ageing. By complete co-incidence they'd created a new character, and a new game-set-"
"What about the Nicelander's," the wrecker paused. "And me? Why can't we remember all of this?"
"It was an early stage of the game," the hero replied, his voice flat and devoid of the happy lilt that it normally took. "The memories were reset, although Pa and Ma are mentioned sometimes, but just as vague parts of coding that have been lost through time,"
"Oh Felix," the wrecker consoled, and then his face fell into a distraught grimace. "If you're glitching you'll go down with the machine!" he stood his face twisted with sudden inconsolable anger. "We'll loose you Felix!"
"Yeah brother, you'll loose me," and with that the man couldn't help but break down into heart wrenching sobs.
Hopefully it wasn't too bad and you enjoyed it! I'd love some feedback!