"SOME LIKE IT COLD"
EDITED AND HTMLIZED BY
Friday, December 3, 1993, 2:30 PM
Dr. Right pulled the canvas off his newest invention. "Ta-da! What do you think?" Lana was the first to speak. "What is it?" The other N Team members stared at the device in confusion. It was a metal cylinder with a rounded top, a foot shorter than Mega Man, with a few dozen blinking lights and switches. There was a small viewscreen and a counter that displayed different coordinates on one side, with a small tube poking out of the top. "This," Dr. Right said proudly, "is the prototype of the Warp Shielder." "Um, that's great." Kevin said after a moment, looking at the contraption skeptically. "But what does it do? You never really told us." Dr. Right opened his mouth to answer, but then a blue glow from a nearby corridor signaled the opening of a warp zone down the corridor. As it closed, a familiar pair of voices could be heard shouting at each other: " - can't believe you didn't give me any warning! Is there anything in your head other than air?" "Excuse me! Like, I wasn't the one who knocked you into the mud! That is just so nasty!" Simon cringed and leaned over to Kevin. "Looks like someone had a great time patrolling Excalibur." "I never should've paired them up." Lana muttered as Mike and Stacey stormed into the lab. Stacey was disheveled and bruised, although none the worse for wear, but Mike was covered in mud from the neck down. Kevin stared at Mike. "Dude, what happened to you?" "Ask the bimbo with the boomerang. She could've warned me." "Like, I totally did! You ignored me, and I kinda had to fight off four gross spiders by myself!" "Yeah, and you kept missing them! You couldn't hit the ground if you aimed for it!" "You got knocked down, not me! Like, you're going postal!" "Yeah, I must be nuts to let you go anywhere with me!" "Shut up!" Lana shouted. Stunned, they obeyed. "Dr. Right has something to show us, in case you didn't notice. You can kill each other later." Mike glared at Stacey, who stuck her tongue out at him. "As I was saying, the Warp Shielder is a device that is linked to the network of warp zones that link Videoland together. It can seek out and pinpoint the coordinates of any and all existing warp zones in a known video world." Dr. Right rubbed his hands together excitedly. "And the best part is it can effectively block off warp travel into a video world or out of a video world by means of a dampening field." Stacey, surprisingly, figured it out. "So Wily'd be totally stuck in a video world, or we could, like, keep him out or something?" The others stared at her. "I'm guessing, you know." "Something like that." Dr. Right said. "And, using the warp openers, only someone who knows the correct password could get in or out of said video world." "Here's the ten-thousand credit question." Lana said. "Have you tested it yet?" "I haven't had the chance to test it on an actual video world, but I think I've worked out most of the bugs in my simulations." Suddenly, the lights on the device started blinking crazily. Blue light streamed from the top, opening warps all over the room. "Take cover!" Kevin yelled as the N Team scattered, trying to avoid the warps which were wildly opening and closing randomly. As Kevin, Simon, Lana, Kid Icarus, Dr. Right, and Mega Man dove behind random objects, a warp opened right beneath Stacey. She fell through the pool of blue light with a startled shriek. Mike lunged for her, but the warp closed just before he landed on the metal floor with a handful of air. "Damn it!" Then the device stopped, and its lights shut off. Smoke began to hiss out of the panels. "I thought you said you worked out the bugs!" Simon exclaimed as they stood up. Mega Man opened a panel. "Not all of them." He reached in and brought out a small, slightly charred object and handed it to Dr. Right. It was clearly the remains of a robo-bee. Lana recognized it immediately. "Wily!" "At least no one was hurt." Simon reassured her, pulling out his mirror and admiring his reflection. "Not a scratch on this beautiful face!" Mike was scrambling to his feet. "Speak for yourself, dumbass! Stace just got warped out of here!" The rest of the N Team glanced around, looking for Stacey. "She must have fallen through a warpicus." Kid said, stating the obvious. Kevin frowned. "Yeah, but which one? That thing opened a ton of warps before it fried itself!" Dr. Right shook his head, reaching into the panel and disconnecting a circuit board. "I may be able to find out." he said. "The main memory is still intact, which means that all the warps it's opened or accessed should be in the cache file somewhere." He sighed. "Of course, I have to reconnect some compatible circuitry, set up an interface, get past the encryption - " "Er, Dr. Right," Simon interrupted, "what do you need us to do?" "Gameboy should still be visiting Li Shiroshi. Bring them both here. I'm going to need all the help I can get." "Maybe we should call some of the video worlds we've been to." Lana suggested. "Someone might know where she is." "Rick, Romeo, and Julius are still on Final Fantasy." Kevin said. "We can get them to check out some places." "I say we go kick Wily's ass." Mike muttered. Lana shook her head. "Mike, we don't even know if Wily really is behind this. All we've got is that robo-bee. Besides, it's not like him to sabotage one device and just stop there." "All right." Kevin said. "Simon, Kid, you go get Gameboy and Dr. Shiroshi." Simon eagerly hurried out, followed by Kid Icarus. "Mega Man, you can help Dr. Right out. Everybody else, come on. We're gonna have a talk with Wily."
The warp opened about five feet over water, dumping Stacey into the ocean with a shriek and a splash. She surfaced, gasping for air, and checked to see if she still had her boomerang. Fortunately, she did. Unfortunately, as she treaded water, she realized that the only land she could see was barely visible, a faint shadow on the horizon. Stacey moaned and started swimming towards shore.
"Commander, sensors are picking up activity." There was no response. "Commander?" Still nothing. "Commander!!!" That woke the pilot up. In his surprise, the teenager shot up a few inches, promptly hitting his head on the ceiling. "Ow!" Rubbing the back of his head, Mike Jones glared at the navigational computer. "All right, you piece of junk! I'm awake! What is it?" If he didn't know better, he could have sworn Nav-Com was laughing. "Sensors have picked up a life-form approximately one-hundred meters dead ahead." "So? This isn't the Dead Sea." Mike made a mental note to talk to his uncle about the personality programming. "The life-form appears to be human. Course of action?" Mike immediately forgot about his head. "Say what?"
Stacey felt as if her arms were going to fall off. The sun was hot, the water was cold, and all she wanted to do was to lie down and sleep. It seemed like she'd been swimming for hours, but the land didn't look any closer. "This is so totally unfair." she gasped as she pushed harder. Suddenly, the water around her began to bubble and foam. "I didn't mean it!" she shouted, swimming out of the circle of foam as an orange shape rose out of the water. Stacey stared as the submarine surfaced right beside her. A hatch popped open, and a head with short, reddish-brown hair popped out. It belonged to a boy about her age, not bad-looking, with brown eyes and a few freckles. As he scrambled out, she could see that he was wearing jeans, a worn tan shirt, and sneakers. Carefully, he climbed down to reach her, extending a hand. "Need a ride?" "Like, sure!" Stacey exclaimed as he helped her up to stand on one of the sub's propulsion tanks. "I thought I was totally going to be fish food!" He blinked, picking up on the accent. "You're from the Valley?" Stacey did a double-take. "Uh, yeah." "So what're you doing out here?" "Well, I, like, warped here." "Warped?" "Uh, you know what a warp zone is. You know?" "Kind of, but there's none out here that I know of." "It, you know, appeared here when Dr. Right's machine went totally crazy." He stared curiously at her for a moment, then started laughing. "Okay, forget it. Let's start over." "Okely-dokely. Am I supposed to call you something?" He grinned and extended a hand. "I'm Mike. Mike Jones." She shook it. "Stacey Anderson. You got a towel around here?"
Kevin, Lana, and Mike were in the Communications room half an hour later, since Lana had insisted that Mike at least change into clean clothes before doing anything else. Wily looked like he'd been sleeping on the wrong side of the bed for a week; in short, he looked worse than usual. "What do you want?" Mike waxed wiseass. "Three large fries, two cheeseburgers, a medium Pepsi - " Lana casually stepped on his foot. "Knock it off." She turned back to Wily, holding up the robo-bee. "I think you know what we want, Wily. Recognize this?" "I don't know what you're talking about!" "Shut up, Wily!" Kevin snapped. "We know it was you who sabotaged Dr. Right's invention!" Wily blinked, then grinned. "Oh, yes, that. I actually sent that one in a long time ago. I wondered when it would do something useful." "Where is she?!" Kevin demanded. Wily looked completely confused. "Where is who?" Before Kevin could continue, Lana leaned over and whispered in his ear: "Kevin, I don't think he knows!" Suddenly, Wily glanced up at something past the screen and turned pale. "I, uh, just love our little chats like this, but I don't know what you're talking about, and I have to go. Good-bye!" With that, the screen went blank. "Okay." Kevin said after a moment. "That was weird." "Kind of suspicious if you ask me." Mike fingered his Zapper. Lana shook her head. "I don't know. It looked like whatever scared him was with him in Skull Castle, not us." "Whatever it was, I guess we're gonna find out." Kevin turned to face them. "We've gotta try and find Stacey. Where do we start?"
The vidscreen darkened, and Wily scowled angrily at the blank screen before glancing sorrowfully at the remains of his lab. Half of it was frozen over, and the thieves had ransacked his equipment, stealing whatever they could. "You'll never get away with this." he told the group standing in the corner, out of sight of the screen. "And what are you gonna do about it, old man?" was the response as the biggest one gestured towards Wily's chair. From his knees down, Wily was encased in ice; he couldn't even turn his chair, much less get out of it. "Besides, if you're not with us, you're against us." He pulled a device out of his pocket and opened a warp. "See you around." With that, they were gone, and Wily was alone. Immediately, Wily started shouting at the top of his lungs: "Cuts Man! Bomb Man! Somebody! Get me out of this now!!!"
"Wow." Stacey said as she examined the cockpit of Sub-C. "You know, this place is, like, screaming to be redecorated." Mike snorted. "It's a sub, not a cruise liner." He was tinkering with an access panel on Nav-Com. The nav computer had begun messing up coordinates, so Mike had called a stop to fix the problem, giving Stacey time to dry off and change in the small sleeping cabin separate from the cockpit. Despite the decor, Mike's uncle had put a lot of work into the sub. She glanced down at the clothes he'd given her - a t-shirt and jeans. "You sure I can wear this?" Mike turned and paused, giving her a long, appraising look. "You look great." He caught himself and turned back to his work as he spoke. "That stuff belongs to Mica, and she won't care. Uncle Steve insisted that everyone have a change of clothes on board after he got dunked last month." He stood up and closed the panel. "Nav-Com, set coordinates for Miracola. For real this time!" "Affirmative." Stacey finished drying her hair with the towel and hung her jacket over a chair. "What'd you say your name was?" "Mike Jones." She made a face. "I already know a Mike." A second later, she brightened. "Groovy! Can I call you Indy? Oh, yeah, you're from a video world." she added hastily. "Never mind." Mike groaned. "Great. I borrow one of Uncle Steve's shirts, and already I'm getting the Indiana Jones jokes." Stacey's mouth dropped open. "No way! How'd you know who Indiana Jones was?" "Uh, because I've seen all three movies about fifty times?" "But they don't have Indiana Jones in Videoland!" "I'm from Seattle." She stared at him. "Yeah, the Seattle on StarTropics!" Mike sat down in the pilot's chair and shrugged. "Hey, it's still Seattle." It made sense, in a weird way. "Well, I - " Suddenly, the sub collided with something, and the cockpit rocked violently, knocking them out of their seats and to the floor. Just as abruptly, whatever they'd hit was gone, and the submarine's course was steady again. Mike stuck his head up from behind the console. "What the hell was that?" "I don't know, but you've totally got to get seatbelts!" Stacey exclaimed. "Nav-Com," Mike snapped at the computer, "when I said a course for Miracola, I didn't mean a collision course." "Correct." Nav-Com beeped. "But the foreign object was not anticipated. Sensors indicate that it was an iceberg." Mike gaped. "An iceberg? What? Let me see this! Up periscope!" He ran over to the small periscope in the corner and set it to focus, panning all around. "Damn! This is unreal!" "What is it?" Stacey asked, getting to her feet. Mike backed away from the periscope. "See for yourself." Stacey looked and gasped at the view of the land nearby. While most of it was green and lush, other patches were almost completely covered by ice and snow. The deep green of the jungle was striped with white. "Gnarly!" Stacey gasped. She backed away from the periscope only to have a dry jacket thrust into her arms. Mike was digging through the storage chest, tossing out all sorts of objects as he searched - a punctured beach ball, a fishing rod, a few beat up books. He finally pulled out a wooden yo-yo and a faded brown leather jacket. Throwing on the jacket, he tucked the yo-yo in his pocket. He turned back to face Stacey. She was still standing there with the jacket in her hands and a confused look on her face. "You might have to put it on." he said. "Like, why?" "It's going to be a hike to Miracola, and we're going to have to cross some of that ice." Mike slammed the lid down and moved to the console, tapping out a code on a number keypad. "I don't know how cold those patches are, but we're not taking any chances." Stacey moved to stand beside him. "What're you doing?" "Something tells me I'm going to need more firepower than the yo-yo." As he spoke, the panel beside the keypad slid open with a hissing sound. Mike reached in, fumbling around for a moment before he pulled out something that looked like a cross between a chain whip and a sling for throwing stones. Mike clipped the Star of Shecola to his belt and turned back to Nav-Com. "Set coordinates. And try to watch out for the ice." Stacey was giggling. "What now?" She gestured at his clothes. "Like, all you need is the cool hat and you're set, Indy!" Mike closed his eyes. "This is going to be a long trip."
There was a long silence as Dr. Li Shiroshi inspected the remains of the Warp Shielder. She glanced at the schematics on Gameboy's screen, paced around the device a few times, peered into the burnt circuitry, and looked at the schematics again before letting out a low whistle. "This is not going to be easy." "That makes me feel bettericus." Kid murmured sarcastically. Simon swatted irritably at the archer. "Be quiet. It's not like the bird-boy of Mount Icarus could do much better." He watched Li work with a fond smile on his face. Kid shook his head and sighed. "Li, may I remind you that the core memory is still intact?" Dr. Right interrupted. She shook her head. "I don't know, Thomas. The way you set up your interface makes it rather tricky. To get into the cache file, we'd have to literally rebuild the bare-bones interface of the Warp Shielder at least. Gameboy may be able to access it, but not in sequence; that is, he'd never be able to tell the first world you tested for apart from the world that Stacey was warped to." "Just how long would it take to do that?" Simon interrupted, not sure if he'd like the answer. The two scientists exchanged glances. "I suppose if Li, Mega Man, and I were working on it," Dr. Right said, "probably nine hours. But that's an optimistic guess, considering that the interface would also need to decrypt the cache file into something readable." Simon looked over at Li, and her shoulders slumped. "We're going to need coffee tonight, Simon. Lots of it."
The oversized bat swooped down from the shadows only to get a boomerang in the face. It de-digitized with a startled squeak. "Nice shot." Mike commented as Stacey caught the boomerang. He turned to face the acid-spewing slugs behind them, yo-yo in hand. With a flick of the wrist, the slugs were gone in seconds. Stacey took out two more bats as they emerged from the cave. "Nobody, and I mean nobody," she cried, "is gonna get guano on my hair! Like, that is so nasty!" Mike chuckled, shrugging off his jacket in the suddenly warm air. "At least they don't like the cold either. We'll get cleaned up when we get to Miracola." "And when's that gonna be?" "About now." Mike said as he pushed back a curtain of vines and branches, stepping through. Stacey followed, and was surprised to find herself right at the gates of Miracola. "How's that for timing?" Mike asked. They passed through the town without any trouble at all. "You're kinda popular here." Stacey remarked as they approached the chief's hut. He shrugged. "Well, I saved the chief's kid; they fixed Sub-C. No big deal." Chief Miracola greeted them with a wide smile. The big man set down the piece of parchment as the two approached. "Mike! How good to see you!" He noticed Stacey. "And who is your friend?" "Chief Miracola, this is Stacey Anderson. Stace, Chief Miracola." Mike glanced around, confused, as Stacey shook hands with the chief. Stacey saw the look on his face. "Indy, what's wrong?" "Don't call me that." He turned back to the chief. "Did Uncle Steve get back yet? I was supposed to meet him here today." Chief Miracola frowned, wringing his hands. "Mike...I don't know where Dr. J is. He hasn't come back from the mountain, and he left Monday morning." He sighed as Mike turned pale. "I've sent out some scouts, but they haven't found anything." Stacey was still staring at Mike, who explained: "When Uncle Steve disappears, that usually means something bad's going to happen." "Hey, this is, like, totally random," Stacey said, "but when did all this weird ice stuff show up? Like, even I know that's not supposed to be there." The chief thought for a moment. "One of my scouts first brought news of the ice on Monday evening." It took a few moments for Stacey to make the connection. "The same day he took off?" Mike, of course, was way ahead of her. "The mountain! That's it! Come on, Stace, I think I know someone who can help!" He turned towards the exit. "Thanks, Chief!" Stacey was right behind him. "Like, we're not going anywhere, Indy! Not until I get a shower!" "Wait! Don't you need - " Before Chief Miracola could finish the sentence, the two teenagers were gone. "Kids today." he muttered, sitting down again and going back to the parchment.
TO BE CONTINUED...