Captain N: The Game Master

The "CHANGES" Miniseries

PART 5

"NEW BEGINNINGS"


WRITTEN BY
MARK MOORE


Saturday, July 4, 1992, 7:15 PM

Princess Lana was sitting near the edge of a lake near a forest. She was throwing small stones into the water and watching the water spread out from the point where the stones landed. It was twilight.
It was going to take her some time to get used to living in Megaland, but she had a lot of friends here to help her, and she felt better knowing that she wouldn't be going through it all alone. All of the others, except for Mega Man and Kevin's friends from Earth, would have to adjust, too.
She heard footsteps behind her. She turned her head to see who it was.
"Kevin." Lana said, smiling. She was looking forward to doing some making out until the sun set.
Then she saw the way he was looking at her. Kevin's face was ghastly pale and had mixed expressions of fright and shock on it.
"Kevin?" Lana asked worriedly, throwing her last stone into the lake and standing up. "Kevin, what's wrong?"
Kevin didn't say anything. He just walked towards her slowly.
"Kevin?"
Kevin stopped when he was close to her. There was a gentle breeze blowing that evening. Kevin's hair was moving by it.
Lana now saw him up-close. The look on his face was unmistakably horror.
"Kevin, talk to me."
After a moment's hesitation, he spoke, but weakly, as if he had received a great shock: "Doctor...Right asked me to...see something."
Lana nodded, inviting him to continue.
"It was a...computer screen...displaying a lot of stuff that I - I didn't understand. But he,...he explained it to me."
Lana couldn't understand how information on a computer screen could evoke such a reaction from Kevin. "What did it say?" she asked, feeling uneasy.
"I...was...trying to decide whether or not to tell you this."
"Whether or not?" Lana asked. "Kevin, we tell each other everything."
Kevin nodded slowly. "Yes, yes we do."
"Then tell me!"
Kevin just looked at her for a few seconds, then pulled her close to him and hugged her tight, sobbing on her right shoulder. "I'm so...sorry!!!"
Now Lana was panicking. She pushed Kevin away from her. "Kevin, what did the computer screen say?!"
Kevin swallowed. "Dr. Wily was jamming all the signals on the planet in the three hours before you destroyed the Palace."
"Meaning?"
"Meaning no electronic messages could be transmitted during that time."
Lana shook her head. "I still don't understand."
"Lana," Kevin began nervously, paused, then resumed, "how many electronic messages did you send in the three hours before destruction?"
Lana shook her head. "None. Just the evacuation alert - " She broke off as she realized with sudden horror what Kevin didn't want to tell her.
Kevin shuddered when Lana stopped talking.
"No!" she yelled.
Kevin shut his eyes. He didn't want to see her.
Lana gripped Kevin's shoulders with her hands and shook him hard. "No!!!"
Kevin just let himself be shaken. He didn't know what else to do.
"Look at me!!!" she demanded, ceasing the shaking.
Slowly, Kevin opened his eyes and saw her. Her face was red, and she was infuriated.
"It can't be true! It just - "
Kevin nodded, cutting her off. "Yes! Yes it is, Lana!"
Slowly, Lana's face turned from red to a pale white.
"Lana?"

Sunday, July 5, 1992, 12:00 PM

Work was going pretty smoothly on the N Team's new house.
The N Team, Link, Zelda, Lyle, Prince Plenty, and Major Domo were living in their own separate tents while they were in Megaland.
It was now almost noon. Kevin was walking around, looking at the construction robots as they cut, welded, put together,...
Kevin sighed. He was constantly thinking about Lana.
"Kevin."
Kevin turned to face the person that had called his name. "Zelda."
The Ruler of Hyrule stopped in front of him.
"How is she?" he asked.
"Well, she hasn't said a word since you two came back last night. But, she's able to undress and dress herself. She took a shower last night, ate dinner, brushed her teeth, and went to sleep. But no speaking."
Kevin nodded.
"Kevin, what happened to her last night in the woods?"
"I don't think you wanna know. Dr. Right and I have agreed to keep this to ourselves for now. We haven't told anyone, because they might react the same way Lana did."
"It was something you told her?" the Princess queried.
Kevin nodded. "Yeah."
"Well, what was it?"
Kevin was silent.
Zelda placed her hands on his shoulders. "Kevin, Lana's my best friend in all of Videoland. I need to know what she heard. What could make her react this way?!"
Kevin remained silent.
Zelda shook him. "Tell me!"
"Have lunch with me?"
Zelda nodded. "Okay."
They walked over to one of the picnic tables and sat across from each other.
Kevin opened up his cooler, which he had placed on the table earlier, and took out two sandwiches, two glasses, and a glass bottle of iced tea. He handed Zelda a sandwich and poured her a glass.
"Thank you." Zelda said.
"You're welcome."
"So,...what's this about?"
"Okay," Kevin began, "Dr. Right told me yesterday that Lana's evacuation message never reached anyone."
"What?!"
"Dr. Wily was jamming the signals."
"How many people?!"
"According to the Palace's information, 10,176,899."
"Bloody tears!" Zelda breathed in horror.
"I know." Kevin said. "I couldn't sleep last night."
"Why didn't we detect Wily's interference?!" Zelda asked.
Kevin shook his head. "I don't know. I guess we were too preoccupied with Wily's next attack, that we just...forgot."
"Forgot? Kevin, millions of people are dead!"
"I'm sorry!" Kevin yelled. "I don't know what to do!"
Zelda suddenly stood and waved with her left hand. "Lana!"
Kevin turned around. Lana was standing a few meters away. Zelda sat down.
She walked over to them, passed Kevin without even looking at him, and stood to Zelda's left.
Zelda scooted over to her right. "Join us!" she said cheerfully.
Lana sat down. Zelda offered her her half-eaten sandwich and half-drunken glass of tea. Lana took them without a word.
Kevin sipped his tea as he watched Lana eat and drink.
"So," Zelda asked, "what's new?"
Lana ignored her.
Zelda clutched Lana's right arm with her hands. "I know! I - " She let go and just watched her friend sadly.
"Lana," Kevin began, "do you wanna talk about - "
Lana threw the rest of her sandwich at Kevin, hitting him in the face.
Kevin put the sandwich on the table and wiped his face with a napkin from the cooler.
"Lana, I know you're in shock." Kevin said. "I don't know how to deal with something like this! I don't think anyone does! Please talk to us, or at least listen to us. We want to help you get through this."
Lana remained silent, simply staring at him with a blank expression.
"Do you," Kevin asked hesitantly, "do you still love me?"
Lana's anger flared up. She stood up, jumped to the top of the picnic table, and threw herself at Kevin.
Taken by surprise, Kevin fell to the ground.
"You!!!" Lana screamed. "You dare ask me about love?! I hate you! You turned me into a murderer!!!" She began punching him in the face. "Look at me! Look what I've become!" Lana hit Kevin repeatedly, releasing all her anger through her fists. "I will never love you! Never again!!!"
Just then, Princess Zelda pulled Lana up with her left hand, turning her around to face her. "That's enough!" She looked down at Kevin. "Kevin, are you okay?"
Kevin managed to nod, and he stood up. His nose was bleeding.
Zelda gave him a napkin to wipe the blood off.
"Thanks." Kevin said, and wiped all the blood off. Then he looked at Lana and laughed. "You're not gonna make a habit of this, are you?"
Lana broke away from Zelda's grip, turned, and walked away.
Kevin and Zelda watched her go, concerned.

"Dr. Right." Rick said, walking into the scientist's laboratory.
"Yes?" Dr. Right turned to face him and Kevin, who was to Rick's left.
"We have a plan." Rick said. "Kevin and I are going to Skull Castle to steal Wily's Warp Zone Shifter, so we can get back to Earth."
Dr. Right nodded. "All right, I'll open a warp for you."
Kevin nodded. "Thanks, Doc."
"We already told the others." Rick said. "We should be back in an hour at most."
Dr. Right smiled. "You're that good, huh?"
Kevin grinned. "You know it!"
Dr. Right opened the warp. "Good luck."
"Thanks." Kevin and Rick answered, and went through the warp.
The scientist closed the warp, then noticed he was receiving a message on his main viewscreen. He went to answer it.

Kevin and Rick arrived outside Skull Castle.
Kevin drew his Zapper, and Rick readied his laser rifle.
They fought their way in.
They came across some lesser robots scattered throughout the various corridors, but not many.
"Looks like Dr. Wily kept a bare minimum of robots to protect Skull Castle and sent the rest to attack the Palace." Rick surmised.
"Which explains why we haven't run into any Robot Masters." Kevin added. "There aren't any."

Kevin blasted the door to Dr. Wily's laboratory, and he and Rick walked inside.
The evil scientist was busy at his computer. He spun around in his chair when he heard the blast. "Captain N!"
Kevin smiled. "Hi, Doc!"
"How'd you get past my defenses?!"
Kevin chuckled. "Or lack thereof!"
"What do you want?!" Wily asked. "You've already destroyed my army!"
"We want that fancy little Warp Zone Shifter." Rick said, pointing at it.
"Forget it! It took me a long time to rebuild it!"
Kevin grinned evilly. "Please."
Wily held up his hands in front of him. "All right, all right, take it!"
Kevin and Rick smiled at each other, then went over to the Warp Zone Shifter.
"Set a warp to our new house." Kevin told Rick. "Make the warp open to the left of the Shifter, then have it encompass the entire machine."
Rick worked at the control panel. "Gotcha."

Kevin, Rick, and the Warp Zone Shifter warped to an area near the picnic tables.
"Guys!" Kevin called.
The rest of the N Team and their friends gathered around them to see what was up.
"Look what we got!" Kevin announced, smiling broadly.
"Dr. Wily's mega Warp Zone Shifter!" Mega Man exclaimed.
"We're goin' back home to get the rest of our stuff." Rick said. "Stacey, Romeo, Julius, Mike, you guys wanna come with us?"
They all agreed and stepped forward.
"All right," Rick said, "while we were at Skull Castle, I created a warp zone opener similar to the one Anubis and Osiris used." He held it up in his right hand. "It's powerful enough to open up a warp, and it even stores the coordinates for up to 100 locations!"
"Cool." Mike said.
Rick fiddled with the control panel on the Warp Zone Shifter and with the warp zone opener for about thirty seconds. "There. I've set the Shifter to take us to Kevin's room, and the opener to return us here."
Rick opened the warp. He stepped through. Romeo, Julius, Stacey, and Mike followed.
"We'll be back in a few hours." Kevin told the others, then went through.
Lana stared at the warp, still not thinking very straight. She ran and jumped through. The warp closed.
Just then, another warp opened, and Dr. Right came through.
"Where's the Princess?!" he asked, excited.
"She just warped to Earthicus." Kid Icarus informed him.
"Why?" Mega Man asked his creator.
"There's something I gotta tell her, but it can wait 'til she gets back."

The warp opened, and the seven of them stepped into Kevin's bedroom. The warp closed.
Immediately, Lana ran towards the door, much to the confusion of the others.
"Lana?" Kevin asked.
"What's she doing here?" Rick wondered.
Kevin shook his head. "I don't know."
Lana opened the door and ran out of the room.
Kevin's parents were just walking up the stairs when Lana ran past them, going down the stairs. The surprised parents were even more surprised when six other people came running down the stairs after her. Ned and Cheryl turned and ran after them.
Lana ran across the living room and to the front door. She opened it and ran outside.
Kevin stopped in the doorway and saw her running down the path, onto the sidewalk, and away. "Lana!"
"Kevin?" Cheryl asked in surprise.
Kevin turned to face her. He smiled. "Hi, mom."
Cheryl grinned. "You're back!"
They hugged.
When they let go, Kevin looked out the door again.
"Kevin?" Cheryl asked. "Is everything all right?"
Kevin shook his head, still looking outside. "No, mom."
"What's wrong, Kevin?"
Kevin turned and walked back inside. Cheryl closed the front door.
"Kevin, what is it?!" Now she was really worried.
Kevin looked at her. "It's Lana."
"What about her?"
"She's...in shock."
"Oh?" his mom asked. "How come?"
"She killed ten-million people."
Cheryl started. "What?!!!"
The others were also greatly shocked.
Kevin looked at all of them. "All right, sit down."
Cheryl uneasily sat down on the couch, and Kevin sat to her right. The others all sat on the floor.
Kevin took a deep breath before he began. Then he, for the benefit of his parents, told of everything that had happened since they went to Videoland last month.

Lana was running around town, not really thinking about where she was going or why. She barely even recognized her surroundings.
"Lana?"
Lana stopped at the call of her name.
"Is that you?" the female to her right continued.
Lana turned to face her.
"It is you!" the girl exclaimed happily. She ran up to Lana. "Remember me?"
"Kristen." Lana recalled.
Kristen nodded, smiling. "Yeah! Hi! How are you doin'?!"
"Not...too good." Lana managed.
"Aw." Kristen said sympathetically. "Well, if you came for a haircut, we have a special After Independence Day offer. Half off for half off." She touched Lana's hair with her left hand. "Looks like you don't need a haircut, though."
Lana shook her head. "I didn't come for a haircut."
"Oh." Kristen said, then smiled. "Then I guess it's just as well, since I just got off work, and I wouldn't have the pleasure of giving you a haircut anyway!"
"I'm having problems." Lana told her.
"What kind of problems?"
Lana shook her head. "I don't wanna talk about them here."
"Listen, why don't we go back to my place?" Kristen offered. "We can have some soda, and you can tell me all that's bothering you."
Lana nodded, smiling, and they walked over to Kristen's car, where the hairstylist had been standing when she noticed Lana, which was parked right outside the hair salon. They got in and drove away.

Kevin had gone through everything, then finally came to the news that Dr. Right shared with him, at which point they all wept.
"Does anyone else know?" Cheryl asked finally.
"Just Zelda." Kevin replied, and told them everything that had happened since he had first heard the news from Dr. Right, up until they arrived in Kevin's room and Lana had run away. "And that's it." he finished. "You know the rest."
"So, you're saying that Lana is running around town now, half - if not completely - out of her mind?!" Ned asked.
Kevin slowly nodded.
"Well, then, we gotta find her!" Cheryl insisted. "She's lost in a land that's almost foreign to her!"
Kevin stood up and nodded. "Right!"
The others stood up also.
"Okay," Ned said, "I'll go look for her. Everyone else can go home and pack up all their stuff."
Cheryl nodded. "I'll drive each of them home."
That said, Ned went off looking for Lana, and the others helped Kevin pack the rest of his stuff to take back to Videoland.

Kristen parked her car in the driveway, and she and Lana got out. Kristen had a nice two-story house.
Without a word, Kristen went and unlocked the front door. She allowed her friend to step inside first, then she followed.
Kristen got two bottles of Pepsi from the fridge. "Let's go out on the patio."
So they did, and they sat on lawn chairs, facing each other.
"All right," Kristen said, "what's up?"
"How do I begin?" Lana wondered. "Do you...believe in multiple dimensions? Alternate universes?"
"Yeah." she answered truthfully.
"Well, I'm from one." Lana said.
"What?"
"Maybe I'd better start at the beginning." Lana decided.

Cheryl had driven each of Kevin's friends home, where, after they had lied to their parents about where they'd been and where they're going, they had packed all their stuff into suitcases. Then, Kevin would open up a warp to Megaland, and he and his friends would take all of the luggage to a room in Dr. Right's laboratory. Cheryl, needlessly to say, was definitely amazed by the warp. Of course, they didn't tell any of Kevin's friends' parents about Videoland. The Club believed that the fewer people who knew about Videoland, the better.
Finally, they all returned to Kevin's house.
A short while later, Ned came in through the front door.
"Any luck?" Cheryl asked anxiously.
Ned shook his head. "Nope. I've been all around town. I couldn't find her anywhere."
Kevin sighed. "Well, all of our stuff is in Videoland. Let's all go look for her."

Lana had explained to Kristen about Videoland, who she is, and about the prophecy mentioning Captain N. She told briefly of their adventures, and the destruction of the Palace of Power and the loss of ten-million lives by her own hand.
"So," Lana asked finally, "what do you think?"
Kristen leaned back in her chair and thought. Finally, she shook her head. "I dunno."
"What do you mean you don't know?! I need help!" Lana mentally scolded herself and lowered her voice. "The others tried talking to me, but I didn't want their help. You seem to be the only one I can talk to. I dunno, maybe it's the lack of familiarity with you that's making this possible. Kristen, help me, please."
Kristen sat up straight. "Okay, first, before I even try to help you, I need to know what your morals are. What do you think of yourself now?"
"I think," Lana began, "I think I'm a murderer." She shuddered violently.
"And why do you think that?"
"Because I killed everyone on that planet."
"You're gonna have to do better than that."
"What, you don't think killing ten-million people is murder?!"
"Lana," Kristen said calmly, "what's the definition of murder?"
"Murder: Noun: homicide with malice aforethought. Verb, Transitive: kill with premeditated malice, kill barbarously, mar by poor execution, - "
"Stop." Kristen said, raising her left hand in front of her. "That's the dictionary definition. I wanna know your definition."
Lana smiled. "Sorry. I memorized that last night. Um, I guess murder is the taking of a human life for no good reason."
Kristen nodded. "And what do you consider a good reason?"
"Killing when there's a real or perceived immediate threat to your own life or the lives of others."
"So, you're saying that it's okay to kill in self-defense or to defend the life of another person, right?"
Lana nodded. "Yeah. I learned that lesson a while ago."
Kristen nodded. Lana had told her about her father. "And that's not murder?"
Lana shook her head. "That's not murder."
"Why?"
"Because every human being has a basic human right to live, which also includes a right to defend that life. A person has lost the right to live only when they threaten the lives of other people."
"Threaten in what way?"
"Their physical well-being. Their life."
"So if someone physically threatens you or someone else, you can kill that person in defense?" Kristen asked to make sure there was no confusion.
Lana nodded. "Right."
"What would you do if someone came up right now and stabbed me to death, then left the knife in my chest and ran away? Would you take the knife and follow him, and when you caught up with him, would you kill him the same way he killed me?"
"Well, if I caught him very shortly, like within a few seconds, I might kill him out of panic or fear for the safety of other people."
"Is that murder?"
Lana shook her head. "No, of course not! Now, if I were chasing after him for a while, running down the street after him, and then I kill him, that is when I become a murderer, because I'm driven by vengeance. I wanted him to die. I should control myself and call the police!"
"You mentioned a perceived threat." Kristen brought up. "Explain that."
"If you believe someone is threatening you, but they really aren't, then you have a right to kill that person, because you're not sure one way or the other."
"Like?"
"Like if someone pulls out a fake weapon, but you don't know that it's fake, and they pretend they're gonna kill you or someone else, you can kill them."
Kristen nodded. "Now, if you had any other option to save yourself, other than killing the attacker, such as disarming them or knocking them unconscious, would you use it?"
"Of course," Lana said, "but you're assuming I'll have enough time to consider my options. In a situation like that, I probably won't! Killing the person isn't the prettiest choice, but it may be your only choice in an intense situation. In that case, you shouldn't hesitate to use deadly force if necessary."
Kristen nodded. "Okay, now that you have a clear understanding of what is murder and what isn't, tell me, are you a murderer?"
Lana lowered her head and thought silently. Kristen had her eyes fixed on her, awaiting her response.
Lana finally looked up at her. "I don't know. I mean, I didn't kill those people deliberately, but, nonetheless, I did kill them. Ten-million of them."
"Is there anything you could've personally done to prevent it?" Kristen asked.
"Yes!" Lana yelled. "That's what's bothering me! I could've prevented it! But I was so wrapped up in trying to defeat Wily, that I never bothered to check the sensors to see if there was any communications interference on the planet!"
"So what?" Kristen asked. "So what if you checked? Would it have made any difference? You said Dr. Wily was jamming all communications on the planet."
Lana nodded. "Right."
"So, if you knew that no one had heard your message, and all those people were still on the planet, what would you do?"
"I'd evacuate the Palace."
"Without blowing it up?"
"What are you saying?!" Lana cried.
"You know what." Kristen said firmly.
"You're asking me if I'd deliberately kill ten-million people! I wouldn't do that! I don't have the right to make that choice!"
"Then who does?"
Lana shook her head. "I don't know!"
"Lana, if you hadn't blown up the Palace, what would've happened?"
"The war would've continued."
"And?"
"And," Lana began, "more lives would've been lost all across Videoland."
"How many?"
"Not many." Lana said, shaking her head. "The N Team would've stopped Dr. Wily's forces soon enough! We'd organize a resistance - "
"Oh, Lana, don't lie to yourself!" Kristen interrupted her. "The only way that you could've won is if you'd blown up the Palace, and you know it!"
"And kill ten-million people for a victory?" Lana asked. "That's quite a high price to pay for one, wouldn't you say?"
"It doesn't seem quite as high if you put it up against the entire population of Videoland, does it?"
"I - " Lana began.
Kristen just looked at her.
"I guess not." Lana finished in agreement. "But still, those people!"
"What about them?"
"Do you know what they must've felt the moment the nuclear reaction hit them? The suffering they went through? I mean most of them were awake when the meltdown occurred! They wouldn't have been spared the suffering as they would've if they had died in their sleep. Children, playing in their yards, their flesh torn off - "
"Don't think about it!" Kristen scolded her. "It would've all been over for them in a second!"
"That's easy for you to say! You weren't one of them!"
"Neither were you!" Kristen yelled. She lowered her voice and calmed down a bit. "Tell me something: how would those people feel about your decision?"
"Assuming I knew they were alive?" Lana asked, calming down as well.
Kristen nodded. "Yes, assuming you knew they were alive."
"I think,...I think they would've approved. They would've given up their lives for the rest of Videoland, and they would've wished us the best of luck in our fight."
Kristen smiled in approval and happiness. "There you go."
Lana sighed. "But that's not the way it happened. I didn't know. I was simply careless."
"So were the others." Kristen pointed out. "Why didn't they check? None of you checked, did you?"
Lana slowly shook her head.
"You see? You're no worse than the others!"
Lana gulped. "I see!"
"And what sense is there in blaming yourself for carelessness if you know you would've done the exact same thing had you known you were killing people?!" Kristen asked.
"I guess I shouldn't." Lana admitted finally. "But still, my irresponsibility as a leader still bothers me."
"As it should." Kristen said. "You should've at least checked the sensors before you blew up the Palace."
"Yeah."
"Except for that one thing, you seem to be a fine leader." Kristen said.
Lana smiled. "Thanks."
Kristen smiled also. It was good to see Lana happy again.
"Kristen," Lana asked, "how can I be forgiven for what I've done?"
"Well," Kristen said, "the most important person who can forgive you is you. If you're genuinely sorry about what you've done, and in spite of that you forgive yourself, you'll feel a whole lot better."
Lana nodded. "Okay, I forgive myself. I'll try to be more careful in the future."
Kristen beamed with joy. "Great! That's a good quality in a leader. I'm proud of you."
Lana smiled again.
"Feel better?"
Lana nodded. "Much! You're a great friend, Kristen!"
"I try."
Lana stood up. "Well, I think I better get back to Kevin's house. My friends must be worried by now!"
Kristen stood up, too.
They went back in the house.

"You'd make a great psychologist." Lana said as they walked down the path outside the front of the house. "And you work in a hair salon?"
Kristen laughed. "It's what I like to do. All right, now that that's over with, I gotta admit, I've had a crush on you since the moment I saw you."
Lana nodded, smiling. "I could tell!"
"Would you like to maybe go out sometime?" Kristen asked.
Lana shook her head. "I'm sorry." she said sincerely.
"What? Is it your responsibilities in Videoland?"
Lana shook her head. "Nope."
"You're not under age, are you?"
Lana laughed again. "Like that would matter! I'm the Ruler of Videoland!"
Kristen laughed. "True. Still, you probably want someone around your own age, huh?"
Lana nodded. "Yeah."
"I'm 20." Kristen said.
"I just turned 18 four days ago." Lana said.
"Oh, happy birthday!"
"Thanks."
"Well, if your responsibilities aren't a problem, and our ages are close enough, then what's wrong?"
"I'm already seeing someone."
"Let me guess: Kevin."
Lana nodded.
"Lucky guy." Kristen said sincerely. She looked straight ahead. "Speaking of him..."
Lana followed Kristen's gaze. Sure enough, Kevin and the others had come here looking for her.
"Your Captain has arrived!" Kristen said with a smile.
All of them had come, riding in Cheryl's red car and Ned's black truck.
Kevin, who had been leaning against the side of the truck, ran forward in a hurry. "Lana!"
He grabbed hold of her and hugged her tight. She returned it.
Finally, he looked her in the eyes. "Are you all right?"
Lana smiled. "Fine, Kevin. Just fine. I got the help I needed."
Kevin looked at Kristen. She smiled, and he smiled back at her.
Kevin looked back at Lana. "You ready to make some new beginnings?"
Lana smiled. "Yeah. It's a nice day to start again."
Kevin smiled at her, then went over to Kristen and offered his right hand. "I want to thank you, Kristen. You're wonderful!"
Kristen shook his hand. "Glad to be of help." She looked at Lana. "Well, I guess it's back to Videoland for you, Princess."
Kevin spun around and eyed Lana.
"I had to tell her." Lana said simply.
Kevin looked back at the hairstylist. "Kristen, Videoland is a secret. Don't tell anyone!"
"You have my word." she said.
"That's good enough for me." Kevin said. "See ya sometime."
Kristen nodded.
As Kevin and Lana walked back toward the vehicles, Lana suddenly stopped and turned around. She ran back to Kristen.
"Kristen?" Lana asked. "I just want to thank you for all you've done for me." Then, she leaned forward and kissed Kristen on her left cheek.
Kristen blushed. "You're welcome."
Lana smiled at her, then she leaned forward and kissed Kristen on the lips.
The two of them put their arms around each other and shared a passionate kiss for fifteen seconds.
Finally, they let go of each other.
Lana licked Kristen on the lips. "See ya." Then she turned and walked back over to Kevin.
The entire group got in the vehicles and drove away.
"See ya." Kristen said. Then, after a moment's thought, she got in her car and followed them.

The vehicles were parked on a street. Everyone got out and walked into an alley. They stopped at the brick wall at the end of the alley.
"What?" Lana asked Kevin, noticing he was preoccupied with something.
"That...kiss." he answered.
"It was a kiss of extreme gratitude." Lana told him.
"Is that all?"
Lana smiled. "Jealous?"
Kevin didn't answer. Instead, he held up the warp zone opener. "Mom, dad, would you like to come with us?"
"Cool!" Cheryl said.
"Yeah, sure, it's the weekend." Ned replied.
Kristen parked her car on the street behind Cheryl's. She ran into the alley.
Kevin pointed the warp opener at the brick wall and pressed the red button. A swirling blue warp opened.
Kristen gasped and stopped running.
The others turned around to face her.
Kristen walked up to them, slowly, her eyes fixed on the warp. Then she looked at Lana.
Lana smiled. "Hey, it's a kind of magic." Then she extended her left arm to Kristen and offered her hand.
Kristen took it, then they all faced the warp.
Kevin walked through, followed by his parents, Rick, Stacey, Mike, Romeo, and Julius.
Kristen and Lana looked at each other, then they looked forward and went through the warp.

The warp opened, and the ten of them came out. It closed behind them.
"Whoa!" Kristen said, amazed as she looked at her surroundings, then her hands.
"Wow!" Cheryl said in awe.
"Far out!" Ned said.
Kevin smiled. "Welcome to Videoland, guys!"
Kristen looked at him and smiled. "Thanks, Captain N!"
"Hey, call me Kevin." he insisted. "All my friends do."
Then they noticed that the rest of the N Team and their friends were standing in front of them, smiling.
"Hi, guys, what's up?" Kevin asked.
Dr. Right ran up to them. "Captain N, Your Highness, I have some great news!"
"Oh?" Lana asked.
"You didn't kill anyone!" the scientist exclaimed happily.
"What?!"
"Captain N, after you and Rick left my laboratory, I got a call from a family that used to live a few miles from the Palace. They resettled on Castlevania!"
They all smiled, hopeful.
"Then, while you were at Skull Castle, I received more transmissions from other people! I came here to tell you the good news, but you had already gone to Earth! While you were there, I received still more transmissions from people that used to live on the Princess' video world! It seems that an evacuation plan was well underway long before the Princess had ever sent her evacuation message!"
"I guess we were all too busy defending the Palace to pay attention to what was happening elsewhere on the planet!" Kevin realized.
"Everyone's been accounted for, Your Highness!" Dr. Right said. "No one's been killed!"
"Oh!" Lana exclaimed, overcome with joy.
She hugged Kevin, and he hugged her.
Kristen smiled happily at them.

That evening, they all had dinner at Dr. Right's.
"Well, I bet you feel relieved, huh?!" Kristen asked Lana with a smile.
Lana nodded, smiling. "Uh-huh! Thank you so much for your help, Kristen!"
Kristen grinned. "Do I get another kiss?"
Lana laughed. "You wish!"
"Good news." Dr. Right brought up. "According to my calculations, your new house should be completed by tomorrow night!"
"All right!" Kevin said. "We can move in!"
"Thank heavens!" Simon said, relieved. "That fabric in those tents is impossible to sleep on!"
Kevin and Lana giggled.
"Simon, you're supposed to sleep on a blanket!" Kevin told him.
So, that night, Simon remembered to do that, and he slept like a rock.

Monday, July 6, 1992, 9:00 AM

"Fold." Lana said, throwing down her cards.
"Me, too." Stacey said, doing the same.
"Well, Keene, it's just you and me." Mike said with a grin. "Do you feel lucky,...punk?"
Kevin thought for a moment, studying Mike's facial expression. Mike had on his renowned "I'm gonna kick your ass" look.
"All right," Kevin said finally, "I'll see your cookie, and I'll raise you three more cookies." He placed his video chip cookies on the center of the table.
"I'll see your three cookies," Mike said, placing them in the pile, "and I call."
"Let's see your cards."
Mike laid out his hand. "Ha! Beat that!"
Kevin grinned and laid out his own hand. "Straight flush!"
Mike groaned and slammed his right fist on the table.
Kevin victoriously collected his prize of cookies.
Stacey and Lana cheered for him and congratulated him, then Stacey kissed Kevin on his left cheek, and Lana kissed him on his right.
"Thank you for teaching me this game, Kevin!" Lana said. "It's fun!"
"No problem!"
The four of them were playing poker at a metal table in Dr. Right's lab, for lack of anything more exciting to do while waiting for their house to be finished.
"Hey," Kevin brought up suddenly, "why don't we form a band?"
"Uh,..." Mike asked, "what?"
"A band." Kevin repeated. "You know, music."
"Why are you bringing this up all of a sudden?" Lana asked, worried.
Kevin shrugged. "It's somethin' to do." He smiled. "C'mon, it'll be fun!"
Stacey shrugged. "Okay."
"Sounds cool." Mike added.
"Okay," Kevin said, "I can play the guitar. I took some lessons back in eighth grade."
Mike sighed. "Oh, boy."
"Mike, what can you play?" Kevin asked.
"Drums." Mike said, then shrugged and added: "A little."
"Stacey?"
"Like, what do you call that thing that looks like a piano, but it's much smaller?"
"A keyboard?" Kevin guessed.
Stacey smiled and did a gunpoint with her right hand. "That's it! I can play that - a little."
Lana slapped her left hand over her face and shook her head.
"Lana, you can play bass." Kevin told her.
"I can?"
Kevin smiled. "Yeah, with a little practice."
"We could all use a little practice." Mike commented.
Kevin nodded. "True. Okay, then, it's settled: I'm our guitarist, Lana's our bass guitarist, Stacey's our keyboardist, and Mike's our drummer. Now, what about a name? If it's gonna be a great band, it's gotta have a great name."
Mike thought for a moment, then grinned. "How about 'Steve!'? S t e v e exclamation point!"
"Uh,...why?" Lana asked, shaking her head.
Mike laughed. "Back in 1988, me and Kevin were thinking about forming a band."
Kevin laughed also. "We weren't taking it seriously. We didn't even have any instruments. We just wanted to say that we had a band."
"But why'd you choose 'Steve!'?" Lana wanted to know.
"Because," Mike said, "if we ever actually performed somewhere, like a club, a guy would introduce us by saying 'And now, it's Steve!'"
"Uh,..." the Princess began, "another suggestion, please?"
"How about 'My First Band'?" Kevin asked. "Our first album can be called 'Our First Album', and our songs can be called 'Our First Song', 'Our Second Song', 'Our Third Song', 'Our Fourth - "
"Next!" Lana yelled.
"How about 'Captain N & The Video Game Masters'?" Stacey asked.
Lana looked at Stacey with wonder. "You know, Stacey, that's actually not a bad idea?!"
"And we can perform video game music!" Stacey added, excited.
Lana shook her head in amazement. "Stacey, that's...brilliant! Wow, who could imagine?!"
Stacey blushed.
"Okay, then," Kevin said, "how about a concert tonight?"
"What?!!!" the other three asked in surprise.
"You gotta be kidding!" Mike said.
"Like, no way!" Stacey added.
"We'll never be ready in time!" Lana insisted.
Kevin smiled. "Sure we will!" He stood up. "C'mon, we better get practicing!" He walked away.
The others sighed, getting up and following him.

They went to a music store in California and got new instruments. Kevin's guitar was a dark shiny black, and so was Mike's drumset. Stacey got a cool keyboard, and Lana traded in her old red bass guitar for a black one. Lana got a lot of guitar strings, for she was sure she would need them. Even though they could get all this stuff in Videoland, they wanted instruments from Earth. Besides, they would have to pay for them either way.
When they got back to Megaland, they set up all their equipment in a room at Dr. Right's. Using Rick's Windows desktop as a model, Dr. Right put a logo on Mike's drum set.
Then Kevin sent out a message all across Videoland about their concert.
That being done, the band now had no choice but to practice, practice, practice. They went through an intense ten hours of it. Lana broke a lot of strings, and Kevin broke a few as well. Mike enjoyed twirling his drumsticks in his hands, and Stacey thought her keyboard was "just too, too, cool!" The four of them actually made a great deal of progress, believe it or not. They learned to play twenty different video game tunes.

The concert hall was packed. Most of the seats were taken, and there were people standing in the aisles.
The band members' personal friends and Kevin's parents all had front row seats.
Mega Man was just sitting down to Simon's left.
"Hi, Mega Man!" came a voice.
Mega Man looked to his right. "Hey, Mega Girl!"
Mega Girl and Dr. Right walked over to Mega Man. Mega Girl sat to Mega Man's left, and Dr. Right sat to her left.
"Are you excited about the concert?" Mega Girl asked.
Mega Man nodded. "Mega excited!"
"I can't wait to hear them play!" the robot with blonde hair and pink armor said.
"I'm sure it'll be a great show!" Dr. Right put in.
The Megaland concert hall was huge, seating thousands. From the ceiling shined lights of many different colors.
Suddenly, the band members started to walk onto the stage. The audience stood up and started to cheer and applaud.
Kevin was carrying his guitar, and Lana held her bass guitar. All four band members - Kevin, Lana, Mike, and Stacey - were wearing black pants, black sneakers, black short-sleeved shirts, and black leather jackets.
Mike sat behind his drum set, which was sitting on the rear center of the stage. Stacey took her place at her keyboard, sitting on its stand a little to the front and right of the drum set. Kevin stood in front of and between Mike and Stacey. Lana stood to Kevin's right, in front of Mike and a bit to his right.
The band members took their time to set their equipment up. Kevin and the Princess hooked up their guitars and tuned them. Mike practiced twirling his drum sticks. Stacey turned on her keyboard and played a few notes to get the feel for it back.
Finally, Kevin looked at the other three. "You guys ready?"
They nodded.
Kevin nodded and faced forward. He turned on his microphone. The others did the same to their own.
"Ladies and gentlemen." Kevin started. He waited until the noise had died down, and everyone had taken their seats, then he resumed: "Welcome to our very first concert. We're glad to see such a great turnout tonight. Before we play our first song, I'd like to say a few words. We have recently been put through a series of tests: a test of endurance, a test of courage, and a test of friendship. We've managed to pass each one of them, but we couldn't have done it without each other. All of us, working together as a team, have helped each other through trying times, and we have become a family. So, if it's not too selfish, I'd like to dedicate this concert tonight to the N Team, possibly the greatest team ever, and all our friends. I think we all deserve that much."
There was a long pause as everyone considered his words.
"Now," Kevin finally spoke, "our first tune is an old favorite of mine. A classic from the original Castlevania. It's called 'Vampire Killer'."
"Oh, boy!" Simon said, joining his hands together in delight.
That tune was a big hit on Castlevania, done in more styles and versions than 'Louie, Louie' was on Earth. He couldn't wait to hear his friends' rendition of the Castlevania classic.
Kevin looked at the other band members, then forward again. "All right, let's do it! 1, 2, 3, 4!"
They started playing. The four of them performed a spectacular rendition of 'Vampire Killer', the Stages 01-03 music from the original Castlevania. The very familiar NES tune sounded spectacular when performed with real instruments. They went through the same music twice.
Then, without warning, Lana began playing the beginning of 'Stalker', the Stages 04-06 music, on her bass. This took Kevin, Stacey, and Mike by surprise, but they soon joined in with their instruments. They went through the same music twice.
After they were finished, the entire audience stood up and gave a massive cheer and applause. Simon, especially, exclaimed his gratitude with bravos, hoorays, and splendids. The band members felt a common sense of pride.

The house was completed.
It was a half-mile away from Dr. Right's laboratory. Between the two buildings was a lonely gravel road, some small houses, and lots of grass and trees. The friends could easily walk back and forth, or drive if they wish.
As they all walked through the various rooms, they were very happy with what they saw.
There was one bedroom for each of them. This especially made Simon happy, realizing that he and Kevin would no longer be roommates and arguing all the time about which color they wanted the walls to be and stuff like that. Each bedroom also had a corresponding bathroom, so that no one would have to wait for a turn to use it, which made everyone happy. Lana had her own office. There was also a very large living room and kitchen. There was a new Conference room and a new Communications room. And, of course, a large recreation room for everyone to play in.
Mega Man had elected to not live in the new house. Rather, he would stay with Dr. Right and Mega Girl. Nevertheless, he was there for the celebration with his friends.
"I'd like to propose a toast." Kevin said, raising his glass of Pepsi in the air.
The others did the same.
Kevin continued: "To us - all of us."
"Man, this sure is original." Mike commented.
"Shut up." Rick said, elbowing him.
"We've recently gone through a lot of changes." Kevin continued. "We've grown more mature - some more than others." He looked at his Princess with love. "Lana, especially."
Lana smiled at him.
Kevin continued: "We've made new friends, brought down a powerful enemy, lost our home, learned some lessons about life and...death, and found a new home in this place. We've also grown closer than we've ever been before. We are truly a family now."
Everyone smiled.
"So now, on this night, let us make more than a toast." Kevin asked. "Let us make a promise, an oath, that we will love each other all our lives, and we will help each other in a world with the darkest powers. We are the N Team. The team. And so we will always remain. I look forward to the days ahead."

GAME OVER

Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999 by Mark Moore