"SOME LIKE IT COLD"
EDITED AND HTMLIZED BY
Author's note: Sorry for the delay, but my disk vanished over Thanksgiving break, and then finals and wisdom teeth hit. Happy New Year to everyone.
Saturday, December 4, 1993, 12:30 PM
"Land ho!" Mike yelled, hoisting himself halfway out of the hatch as Sub-C approached the dock. At Stacey's questioning look, he shrugged. "I've always wanted to say that." She snorted as Dr. Jones steered the sub into docking position. There was a sudden creak, and the engines cut off. "Docking clamps in position." Nav-Com said. "All systems on standby." "Thanks for the warning." Dr. Jones answered as he grabbed his knapsack. "We're in." he added for Stacey's benefit. "You can get out now." Stacey didn't need to be told twice. She hopped onto the ladder and climbed out of the hatch in a second, literally climbing over Mike as she did so. "Ow! Watch it, Stace!" She ignored him as she bounded to the ground. "Finally!" Another glad cry reached their ears as Mike helped his uncle disembark: "Doctor J! Mike!" They turned to see a tall, broad young man jogging toward them from the lab. He was wearing a woven tunic, shorts, and sandals in the native fashion, but the six-pack of sodas he was carrying ruined the effect. He stopped, getting a good look at Mike, Stacey, and Dr. J. All three of them were disheveled and dusty, bruised and scraped. "By the Southern Cross, what happened to you?" "We're in a lot of trouble, Baboo." Dr. J answered. "My experiment didn't go as planned." Mike snorted. "No kidding." His uncle ignored him. "Find Mica and drag her out from whatever she's tinkering with at the moment." He sighed. "I suppose we'll have to come up with some sort of a plan." "Us?" Stacey glanced over at Mike, then threw up her hands. "We're doomed!" She spotted the six-pack in Baboo's hand. "Got any more of that?" As she followed Dr. J's assistant towards the lab, Mike shook his head in disbelief. "Women." At that, Dr. J started chuckling. "What?" Dr. Jones patted his nephew on the back. "Believe me, Mike, you have no idea." He grinned as they started towards the lab. "They only get stranger from here." "Why me?" Mike muttered.
"Where have you been?" the petite brunette inquired as she entered the study, dusting off her hands. Even in a stained lab coat and coveralls, Mica still carried herself like royalty. Which made sense, considering that she was a princess. She was fairly striking, with long curly chestnut hair, wide hazel eyes, and an elfin face. She brushed back an unruly strand of hair behind a pointed ear as she took in their appearance. "This is not going to be good news, is it?" "Far from it." Dr. Jones answered. "Oh, I forgot. Mica, this is Stacey Anderson, a member of the N Team. Stacey, this is Princess Mica of Argonia." "Like, another princess?" Stacey asked. Mica smiled wryly as she shook hands with Stacey. "Not anymore." She paused, arching an eyebrow at Stacey's outfit. "I'll get them dry-cleaned for you in a jiff, I swear!" Stacey exclaimed hastily. Mica smiled and shook her head. "It is no trouble, really." She turned to Mike and Dr. J. "So what, exactly, is going on?"
Dr. Wily put his hands on his hips and proudly surveyed the newly-restored lab. Despite the extensive water damage and laser scars, it had only taken less than twenty-four hours to get the lab repaired, refinished, and good as new. It had also taken a lot of screaming at Robot Masters, but the place was cleaned up, which was all that mattered. Not to mention that he'd installed a new security grid in the floor, which would effectively re-route all incoming warps to the front gates of Skull Castle. A red light flashed on the nearby terminal, signaling an incoming message from the front gate. Dr. Wily turned towards one of the robots on cleanup duty, closest to the viewscreen. Prank Man was originally slated to be a Robot Master, but something in the garish little robot's design had fouled up his positronic net, making him useless for much more than janitor duties since he was so dull-witted. "Prank Man! Answer that message!" "Uh, with what?" "The button, of course!" The robot blinked. "Which button?" "The big red one right next to you!" "That one?" Wily nodded, frustrated. Prank Man scratched his head. "What did you want me to do with it again?" Wily wheezed at the top of his lungs: "Push the button, Prank!!!" "Geez." the janitor muttered as he stabbed at the button with a finger. "You could've just said 'please'." The only thing that kept Wily from turning Prank Man into scrap metal was that the faces appearing on the viewscreen were even more hated. Ludwig smirked gleefully. "Avon calling!" "Don't even try to test my patience, Ludwig." Wily snapped. "There's no way you can crack through my security now. I don't take kindly to breaking and entering a second time." "Breaking and entering? Moi?" Ludwig sneered with mock innocence. "Now, really, Wily, I'm hurt. This is just a social call." "I'm sure it is. Now get off my property!" "Oh, I wasn't planning on staying anyway." Ludwig said coolly. "But I do have a device capable of turning Megaland into an ice cube." He smirked. "I thought, as another man of science, you might be interested." Wily stared at the viewscreen for a few moments, thinking. He didn't trust Ludwig within an inch of his life. Then again, the lizard could be telling the truth about the device, and in that case it would be good to be on the same team. "Start talking."
"You did what?!" Mica jumped to her feet. "Dr. Jones! You of all people should have known better! If the power cells fall into the wrong hands - " "I know." Turning to Stacey and Mike, Dr. J proceeded to explain. "I used one of the power cells from the Argonian pod. Basically, it's an unlimited power source, non-toxic and free from waste. I should have let it be, but, with the cases of malaria that have been breaking out, I had to find some way to store the necessary medicines without adding to pollution." He sighed. "I didn't expect to run into the Koopas." Stacey frowned. "Like, what were they doing here?" "Who knows?" Dr. Jones snorted. "Whatever it was, I saw them, they saw me, they grabbed me so no one would find out. Actually, the freezing device is the only reason I'm still breathing; Ludwig was very interested in its capabilities, and, since I was the resident expert, he decided to keep me on-hand for testing." Baboo scratched his head. "How did it freeze everything over if you just built it for food storage?" "They used some stolen equipment to boost the power tenfold." The archaeologist shook his head. "For all we know, they're out freezing video worlds as we speak. They must be stopped." "Like, how?!" Stacey cried. "We don't even know where they went!" It was Mike who answered. "My money's on Megaland, if they want to go after the N Team." Dr. Jones looked thoughtful. "You know, they never got a chance to run their third test. The last one wasn't successful, since it wasn't all-encompassing or permanent; Miracola's probably melting back to normal." "We cannot take that chance." Mica said. She strode over to one of the bookcases and pulled a book out halfway. The bookshelf slid away to reveal a hidden room, filled with equipment and contraptions. It ranked right up there with Dr. Right's lab. Amazed, Stacey followed the other four inside as the bookshelf slid back into place. "Wow! Where did all this come from?" "We did a lot of salvaging after Zoda's ship crashed." Mike answered. "A lot of stuff remained intact, and Mica and her brothers were able to piece together the rest." Mica picked up a tiny remote control and a disk. "What's that?" Mike asked. She handed him the remote. "This transmitter is set to emit a special frequency. It will shut off the power cells temporarily. As for this - " "The kill switch!" Dr. Jones finished, taking the disk from her. "I did at least foresee that, with such a power source, the device might overload. So I programmed a disk that will automatically run when inserted into the machine, transmitting a virus designed to short out its main circuitry." He couldn't resist a smirk in Mica's direction. "I did take a few precautions." She rolled her eyes, but said nothing as Dr. Jones handed the disk to Stacey. "So, I, like, stick it in, and it'll crash the machine?" "It should." Dr. Jones answered. Reaching into a drawer, he pulled out another remote, which looked familiar. "You had a warp remote this whole time?" Stacey asked. "Not exactly." Dr. Jones said. "This is the closest approximation, though. It feeds off residual warp signatures to generate a new warp zone. We couldn't figure out how else to instigate a wormhole like that. So it can only open a new warp someplace where one has recently been opened." He glanced over at his assistant. "Baboo, can you get the map - " Baboo was unrolling a map on the lab table. "Already ahead of you, Dr. J." As he straightened it out, he added "After that salesman showed up, Dr. J and I plotted out the locations and dates of warps that have opened and closed in the area." "It would have to be recent." Mica said, studying the map. "Anything over a week old would not leave a strong enough signature." Baboo pointed at a spot on the map. "Here it is! A warp opened five days ago under the Captain Bell memorial!" Mike glanced over his shoulder at the spot, peering to see just where in the cave diagram it was positioned. "I've been there before. I think we can get to it, although it's gonna be a heck of a ride." "Sounds good to me." Stacey said. As they turned to leave, Mica cleared her throat. "Aren't you forgetting something?" Mike and Stacey stared at her blankly. "Perhaps some weapons?" Stacey remained confused, although Mike's eyes lit up. "Mica, you don't mean - " "I must be insane, but yes." She turned and strode over to a panel barely visible on the wall, putting her hand to a scanning pad. "Access for Mica, authorization Beta-5-7." As the panel slid away, Stacey could not contain her gasp of awe. The massive storage locker was lined from wall to wall with laser guns and types of weapons and items she had never seen before. "Wow!" "As Mike said," Mica answered, "we did a lot of salvaging." As Baboo handed Stacey a laser rifle and a hand-held heating device, Mica took out a small box from the back of the arsenal, reaching in and pulling out a strange weapon that looked like the Star of Shecola, but somehow much more powerful. Mike's eyes widened as she handed it to him. "How - " "I have my ways." Mica almost looked smug. "But if you defeated Zoda with the supernova, you should be able to wield it for this. But save it for when you need it." "Thanks." Mike clipped it to his belt. "I think." He turned to see that Dr. Jones was taking a ray gun. "Uncle Steve, what are you doing?" "I'm coming with you." Dr. J cut off Mike's protests. "No buts. If you two plan to go storming in wherever they've stashed the device, you're going to need some sort of backup plan. And this whole fiasco is my fault, so I might as well help make it right." Mike shrugged. "Okay, okay. Can you two hold down the fort while we're gone?" Mica smiled. "I can handle things fine myself." Baboo shrugged. As the three travelers hurried down the corridor, Dr. J nudged Mike. "One more condition, Michael: I'm driving. We're going to have to have a talk about those dents in the hull." For once, Mike didn't say a word.
"Your Highnessicus!" Kid Icarus cried, swooping into the Communications room in a panic. He didn't watch where he was going, and just barely missed kicking Simon in the head as the vampire hunter bent sleepily to pick up his comb from the floor. Simon was so tired, he didn't even notice. "You've got to see this!" Lana and Mike turned away from the viewscreen. "What now?" Mike Vincent yawned. Rick, Li, and Dr. Right, hearing the commotion, entered, with Mega Man and Gameboy behind them. "It's all over the news!" Kevin rushed in after Mega Man, and the serious expression on his face snapped Mike to full awareness. "Turn on VNN!" Confused, Lana did so, and, a second later, a bruised and battered anchorwoman's face appeared on the screen. "This is Cathy Bennett, live from the steps of City Hall!" she shouted into the mic, trying to be heard over the shouts of the people running past her, flooding out of the doors in a panic. "Only moments ago, the main street of Capital City was filled with chaos as several Robot Masters along with three of the Koopa kids - yes, folks, you heard me right, the Koopa kids - took over City Hall!" "What are the Koopas doing here?!" Lana exploded. "And why is Wily helping them all of a sudden?!" Cathy Bennett continued: "Ludwig von Koopa is holding the Mayor hostage as we speak, and has requested that we broadcast his requests. We go live to the Mayor's office now." Immediately, Ludwig's grinning visage filled the screen. "Yuck." Rick said. "Greetings, N Team," Ludwig said. "Since I'm sure I've gotten your attention now, I have an ultimatum to present to Princess Lana." He stepped back to reveal the pristine Mayor's office, with the Mayor and two of his associates tied up in the center of the room. Grinning, he moved back so that his face obscured the background. "My siblings and I have recently come into the possession of a remarkable device capable of freezing an entire video world solid at the touch of a button." "Oh, we're all so sure of that." Simon quipped. There was a sudden crackle of electricity, a flash of blue light, and a trio of screams sounded behind Ludwig. "The Mayor can attest to its properties; look what a blast at the lowest setting did." With that, he stepped back to show what was left of the Mayor's office. Now it looked like something out of the Ice Age, with stalactites and stalagmites of ice from the floors and ceiling. Three of the stalagmites encased the Mayor and his men from the shoulders down. "I trust this is sufficient proof. The N Team has one hour to surrender to me, or Megaland will become nothing more than a giant ice cube." The transmission ended. Kevin pounded a fist on the console. "He's got to be out of his mind!" Rick was wandering into the other room, staring out the windows. "Hey, guys?" he called. "What was the temp supposed to be today?" "Between fifty and sixty degrees Fahrenheit." Li said, following him. "Why?" She stopped dead in her tracks as she saw what he was looking at. "Thomas, look!" The rest of the N Team crowded around the window. "I'm no weatherman," Mike muttered, "but fifty degrees ain't cold enough to freeze half the street like that." He wasn't exaggerating. The street outside the house was divided up the middle, their side green and normal, the other side encrusted with snow and ice. "Whoa." Kevin said. "I think he's serious." Behind him, Lana just sighed. Even in a crisis, Kevin never lost his talent for stating the obvious.
"This is the plan?" Mike Vincent muttered under his breath as the N Team walked up the steps of City Hall. "Why not just have somebody go in the back and take 'em out?" Lana shook her head. "Ludwig would notice if someone was missing. He's too smart for that." "So, what's the mega plan, then?" Mega Man asked. "The usual." Kevin said in a low voice as they crowded into the lobby, weapons drawn and at the ready. "We bluff our way through and hope no one gets killed." Simon turned towards the door. "That's it, I'm going home." Lana grabbed him by the scruff of the collar and dragged him along. "Think he'll notice Stace is missing?" Mike asked. Lana shrugged. "There's nothing we can do. I just hope that Dr. Right and Dr. Shiroshi can come up with something." Whatever else she had to say was cut off as they stepped into the lobby. The floor was covered with a layer of ice, and snow capped the chairs and tables. Icicles hung from the railings, and frost was etched on the windows. "Like the decor?" Ludwig crowed over the intercom system. "Forgive my rudeness if I don't join you, Princess Lana, but my assistants wanted to make your acquaintance." At his words, several of Wily's robots and a few of the Koopa kids emerged from the shadows. The doors slammed shut behind the N Team, ice forming a thick layer across them. "Can you say 'trap'?" Rick asked sarcastically as the fighting began. "I knew that you could."
"Hey! What are you doing out here?" The pair of scientists whirled to see Wendy O'Koopa, flanked by two of Wily's 'droids, glaring at them. "Um, we're here to fix the heating system?" Li suggested hastily. "We heard there was a problem with the climate control." "Well, you thought wrong." Wendy sneered. It was all Li could do to keep from flinching at the Koopaling's annoying voice. "Wait a minute, you're not repairmen! Get them!" Before the 'droids could obey, a laser struck one of them in the back, sending the automaton to the ground in a twitching heap of wires and circuitry. Wendy turned as the other one was blasted similarly. "Who's blowing up my 'droids?" she whined. "Those were mine! Mine, mine, mine!" "Like, shut up already." Stacey snapped as she stepped into view, aiming a laser gun at Wendy. "You're totally giving me a headache!" Wendy aimed her wand, and the laser gun turned into dust in Stacey's hand a second later. "I'll do whatever I want to!" As soon as the words left her mouth, the wand was snatched out of her hand. "Hey!" Wendy shrieked again as the retractable claw yanked the wand into the pocket of Dr. Right's lab coat. "Give that back!" Stacey drew her boomerang, and Dr. Right smiled. "I don't think you're in any position to make demands, my dear." The next thing anyone knew, Wendy charged Li, knocking the scientist into Dr. Right. They crashed to the ground like a pair of dominoes, and Wendy made a break for it, bolting for the far end of the alley as fast as her stubby legs could go. She hit the brakes when two more figures appeared at the other end of the alley. "Hi there." Mike Jones said. "You wouldn't happen to know where the back door is, would you?"
"'Bluff our way through'?" Simon snapped as he was shoved into the Mayor's office alongside Kevin. "Great idea, Captain Numbskull." Lana, Rick, Mike, Mega Man, and Duke were already there, tied up. Kevin, Lana, Mike, and Rick's weapons were on the table, and Mega Man's Mega Buster was encased in ice. "Is that everyone?" Ludwig asked Wily. "We still have Kid Icarus and Gameboy out there." Wily wheezed. "But they'll be no trouble. We have the ones that matter." "Good." Ludwig leered gleefully at his prisoners. "So, Princess Lana. Are you ready to surrender to me now?" Wily glared at him. "Us, you fool!" Ludwig snorted. "Whatever. Us." "You know what my answer is!" Lana spat. "Oh, well." Ludwig sighed. "I guess I would have preferred your surrender, but either way I win. With you out of the way, there's nothing to stop me - er, us - from taking over Videoland!" He pointed a small remote at the device. "I do think you'll all look so much better as ice sculptures." The remote was knocked from his hand as the boomerang arced through the air, sending the remote skidding across the icy floor. "Not again!" Ludwig howled as the boomerang stuck in the ice on the far wall. "I hate reruns!" Mike Vincent had never been so happy to see the blonde coming through the Mayor's secret side exit. "Stace!" Wily didn't waste time whining as Stacey rushed in. "Get her, you idiots!" he shouted to the 'droids in the room. Immediately, the two robots advanced on Stacey, lasers firing. With a yelp, Stacey ducked and literally slid between them, skidding across the slippery ice to the far wall to retrieve her boomerang. The 'droids turned to pursue, but they were blasted in the back. A guy about Kevin's age rushed in, weapon in hand. "Party's over!" "Okay," Wily shouted, "get him!" Kid Icarus flew in through the opening, followed by Gameboy, and the three heroes scattered to avoid being blown away by the remaining 'droids, taking out the 'droids, and dealing with the Koopa Kids. "Look out, Indy!" Stacey cried. Their unfamiliar rescuer turned to see a pair of robotic birds swooping down on him, sharp talons extended. He knocked one out of the sky, and, as the other one went in for the kill, dropped to the ground. It smashed into the wall instead. "I never thought I'd be so glad to see you." Mike said as Stacey knelt down behind him, sawing through his bonds. With the other three causing havoc, her rescue attempts went generally unnoticed. Wily was dodging arrows, and Ludwig was trying and failing to hit Gameboy. "Gee, you're so welcome." She rolled her eyes as the ropes fell away, using a hand-held heating device to melt the ice around the Mega Buster. Mike hurried to free the other four. As Stacey undid Rick's bonds, a small remote fell out of her pocket and slid across the ice, stopping at Ludwig's feet. Frustrated, he grabbed it up, thinking it was his own remote. "That's it!" the eldest of the Koopalings shouted, giggling maniacally. "I don't care what it takes; I'll freeze you all!" Before anyone could stop him, he pointed the remote at the machine and pressed the button. There was a high-pitched whine, but nothing happened. "Why isn't it working?" He spotted the real remote lying a few feet away. "Of course!" He snatched it up and tried it. Nothing happened. "Blasted thing!" As Ludwig cursed at the remote, Kid shot a Fire Arrow at the ice holding the Mayor and his aides prisoner. It quickly melted away, and the three men made a break for it under the cover of Kid's fire. By the time Ludwig was on his fifth try, the N Team was free and armed again. But more of Wily's 'bots were swarming into the room. Suddenly, the device began to hum with life again. "Uh-oh." Mike said. At that moment, the stranger managed to free himself from the tangle of 'droids, moving towards the device. "Indy!" Stacey shouted, pulling a disk out of her pocket. "Catch!" She threw it as hard as she could. He lunged for it, sliding across the ice and snatching it from the air. Scrambling to his feet, he reached the device and shoved the disk into the drive just as it began to glow with blue light. Immediately, the light died, and the glowing power cell in the machine went dark. "Noooo!!!" Ludwig shrieked. "Damn you, Jones!" Wily took one look at the scene and grabbed his things, pressing a button for his equipment to fold into a neat carry case. "Good-bye!" he shouted, opening a window and jumping out, activating his jet pack to fly away. The N Team made short work of the remaining robots. Somewhere amidst the chaos, the Koopalings managed to disappear. No one saw where they went, but, by the time the last 'droid was destroyed, there was only one Koopa remaining. "Yo!" Roy Koopa shouted, his voice muffled by the wall. His feet kicked ineffectively as he struggled to get his head free. "Can somebody give me a hand here?" Uncontrollable snickering broke out among the N Team. "Now that," Stacey giggled, "is totally a Kodak moment!"
"There's something to be said for the folks around here." Kevin noted, taking in the brightly-decorated village of Coralcola. "They sure know how to throw a party." "Yeah." Mike Jones said absently. "They'll take any excuse they can to have one." Lana smiled. "We never did thank you for what you did." Mike shrugged. "No problem. It's been boring out here anyway." "You know," Kevin said, trading glances with Lana, "if you ever want to join the N Team - " "Thanks," Mike said, "but I can't. Somebody's got to keep Uncle Steve out of trouble." He looked over to where his uncle was trading notes with Dr. Right. "He's always running into it." "Well, he's not going to have to deal with the Koopas for a while, I hope." Lana said. "Roy and Wendy are spending time in the Megaland prison." She chuckled. "I still can't believe you tied her on the flagpole!" "Had to put her someplace." Mike said. Kevin grinned. "I'm gonna go get our instruments ready. Coming, Lana?" "In a minute." As he walked away, Lana glanced over to where Mike Vincent and Stacey were dancing, and noticed that Mike Jones was staring in the same direction. "You like her, don't you?" "Huh?" Mike turned red, then shrugged it off. "Yeah, I guess. But she's not interested anyway. I'm not going to push it." Lana sighed. "Well, you're welcome to visit anytime." she said as the music ended. The rest of the band was gathering on the makeshift stage with their instruments. "I'd better get going." She stood up and headed towards the stage. "Hey, Lana?" She turned as Mike grinned at her. "Thanks." Captain N & The Video Game Masters wasted no time in getting set up, and Kevin took the mic. He didn't notice the wicked gleam in Stacey's eye. "Okay, our first tune tonight is dedicated to Mike Jones and his uncle, Dr. Steve Jones, who - " He was cut off as Stacey suddenly launched into a totally different melody than they'd intended. It took them a minute to recognize the Indiana Jones theme. The entire band yelled at her. "Stace!" The music cut off as everyone stared at Stacey, who tried to look innocent but wound up turning bright red instead. Then, from the back of the crowd, someone started clapping. Stacey glanced up to see Mike Jones grinning at her. She stared at him for a moment, and then the two of them started laughing hysterically. Sitting near the front, Julius scratched his head. "I don't get it."