Aug 04
fiction challenge: Writing 2022
Mayor_Chicken's picture

A short story about PAK MAN


PAK-MAN

Prologue

I now am able to draw the line between curiosity and stupidity. But not when I was a child. Then, I was new and fresh to the world. But from the moment I entered my first classroom, I knew I was different. Everyone stared at me. School was easier than anything I had ever experienced. I was always at the top in every subject. But after the first semester, I wondered about my unusual intelligence more than ever.

As a result, I asked my parents about it. And they told me simply that I was yellow. That was it. The reason why I was much smarter, much braver, and so much different was because I was yellow. And at that point in my life, I felt so alone. The loneliness was enough to drive me temporarily insane. Insanity was a horrible feeling. 

It caused crazy animations to happen in my mind. All centering around the chords. And the worst part? I hardly knew about my change of behavior. Regardless, my insanity slowly drew me towards the chords. Later that day, something more powerful than anything I had ever felt drew me to the chords. It was as if I was magnetic and the chords had a stronger field than I did.

I’m very sure that everyone was worried and anxious about my sudden disappearance. And now, I wish I had known what was to come, or I would have never crossed through the gates. But my insanity and arrogance were much too high for simple comprehension. So, reader, I wish you could understand that my adventure was an adventure that shows the power of friendship and teamwork.
Chapter 1 

 PAK-MAN

The chords (despite all the rumors that surrounded them) were very long tunnels. They were filled with condensed C12H22O11, with added artificial flavoring, known as ‘tic tacs’ to human civilization. I snatched a few of them into my mouth. We Pak-Men pride ourselves on our speed. A Black, smooth surface suddenly shot up before me where only moments before had been open tunnel. I turned, and a long, echoing tunnel presented itself where there had only been wall just moments before. And because of my high intellect, I figured that I should aim for the center of the maze. If I finished the maze, I probably would find answers to why I was so different then the others. 

There was something odd about the maze though. I swear, every now and then I would see a random color, flickering just on the edge of my vision before it float out of my sight. They were either red, purple, cyan, or orange. After more searching, I got to a place that was fully blocked off, and I finally saw some steady light. No, more like light reflected into the room from gray film.

I burst out with much more commotion than I’d wanted to make. I blinked once. Twice. My sight came back and I started to look around. Apparently, it seemed as though I came from a strange machine. The machine had a screen that was about my height. It was yellow all around. Underneath the screen was a massive panel with buttons and a control column. The place all around me was dark and the only source of light came from the other side of some transparent walls that had, “Massachusetts Arcade!” plastered all over them.

I moved around a bit. As I did my eyes adjusted more to the dark place and I noticed four blocks with eyes above me. I wondered if they could help me get back home. Then a bang echoed around the room. The front door had been thrown open. A very bewildered-looking man arrived and shone a flashlight beam around. I didn’t know much about this world, but I knew he was looking for me. I think he knows I’m here and I don’t belong here. The four eye-blocks had betrayed me! I swore never to trust one-eyed beings again as I silently hovered behind the strange machines while the man dashed around, paranoia filling his face. 

It was very similar to playing an obnoxiously funny game of hide and seek with little children. But I might have underestimated my opponent too much. The man’s beam of yellowish light flickered over me. I stopped in despair—and just froze under the sheer brightness of the light. The time I gave the man to gaze at my body had been a bit too long. I quickly zipped out of the room, the man still frozen in fear at just the very sight of me. And as I turned around, I can still remember his horror-stricken face as he pulled out a boxy device and yelled into it.

The following moments were very confusing. As the man finished his ranting, my survival instincts told me to run. Even as I did so, loud screams approached.

A blur of color and light smashed into me as I sped away from the party in pursuit. There were loud sirens and yells, but no witnesses to catch sight of me—unless you included the man and the people chasing me now. There were pop-pop-pop sounds as the pursuers started to fire projectiles at me. I observed the ones that stuck to the tar roads. They were syringes, probably containing some tranquilizer or poison. I could guess that even if the contents were something else entirely, they were definitely not going to help me in any way. I snatched a glimpse back at my pursuers. Two people on four-wheeled vehicles were shouting at me. The wind was roaring, and I had trouble hearing, but I caught, “Alert Agency 54! Alien organism detected in Cambridge Massachusetts on Harvard Street!”

They had my exact coordinates, meaning that they could track me down with no problem. I dashed around the roads. Up, down, right, left. It was chaotic. At one point I slid into a grassy biome with some trees around the edges.

The men got out of their vehicles and started running towards me. It had been a good choice on my side, for I was hovering at the speed of 80 kilometers per hour and they were running at about 10 kilometers per hour. Secure in this knowledge, I got more confident and hovered quicker than I ever had before. Soon enough, they were only black specs.

After I was sure I lost them (I hid in the trees and they just went right past me) I hovered around for a while, trying to figure out my next move. I decided that I first needed shelter.

After sneakily spinning around a bit, I found a giant place called the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Judging by the amount of darkness around it, it seemed like a suitable place for me to hide and avoid the men and their vehicles.

I zipped around more carefully, hoping to find a suitable place with some food. This search resulted in a promising smell of sugar near a giant building that seemed very colorful, even in the dark. The building was a bit more complex on the inside. Twisted corridors and closed doors started to lower my hopes of ever finding a sustainable room. Finally, after two whole hours of searching, I found a room that seemed habitable.

I snuggled in, knowing that it was going to take a while before I figured out how to get back home.

    

Chapter 2 

Aaron

The first experiment failed miserably. I know that because I failed to locate which device the electric generator was supposed to bring to life. But first, let me back up. I’m Aaron Stone. Leading graduate student in the electro physics department. My team and I have been working to create life forms from digital matter. And so we made the electric generator. It reads all the digital information of a given image on a device and recreates that into DNA.

We tried it out and successfully managed to make a cat from an image on Mandy’s phone. But then I tried it again and nothing happened. We later realized that, as I said earlier, the machine couldn’t determine which target it was supposed to reference an image from and bring to life. Mandy’s phone was, coincidentally, the target device that the electric generator was supposed to reference. I had 

It was the very next day that I realized something had changed. My tic tacs were everywhere and I didn’t think even Kile could be that clumsy. I was cautious all day because I thought that something had entered my bunk. Probably a raccoon, I thought as I pushed away the fact that I was on the seventh floor of Baker House and a raccoon does not have the powers of Spider-Man.

Then I saw it. The reason I had been so cold overnight. The hint of dampness that I’d felt last night. There was a hole the size of a soccer ball in the ceiling. The cold January wind had been allowed to enter my room. I got a whiff of the cool breeze and shuddered. But it wasn’t all downsides. This was the perfect opportunity to use the rebuilder, a machine I recently developed that rewinds atoms to be in the exact same spot they were before. So I could easily rewind the ceiling to exactly as it had been. This was the good part about being the top technician at MIT; I had access to all mechanical operations. 

The strangeness continued the following week. I saw more and more tic tacs spilled around my dorm. The number of strange, soccer ball-sized holes above my bunk was rapidly escalating. Then I made a theory that, since it had all started on the day we tested the generator, maybe it could have a connection to the environmental problems that the device could cause.

I began to start sketching ideas for possibly what could have entered my dorm. Perhaps, the specific digital organism that my electric generator was supposed to have targeted had accidentally phase-shifted—to some video game character, I guess? The first thing that came to mind was Elmo. You know, the red guy from Sesame Street? So I drew a ball with some hair. Pretty good, I thought. But then I started to have some doubts. If it really was a hairy ball, shouldn’t it have dropped some of its hair on the floor somewhere? So I restarted with an easier clue, the tic tacs.

 Obviously, the thing that had been entering my room liked tic tacs. I tried to think of what resembled tic tacs in any video game. I then realized that Mario’s coins looked very much like the tic tacs. So, I drew the spike ball from Mario. It was spot on. But I then remembered how much sound that metallic ball made when it moved. I would have definitely heard if that thing came bulldozing into my room. Not only that, but it probably weighed more than this floor could handle. This mystery had taken a wrong turn.

The science fair was coming up and, of course, we had to put out the craziest invention of all time. Kile suggested that we make a spy suitcase with all the features. But, we later had to turn down the idea because Kile wanted 50+ modifications on the actual briefcase, which was incredibly small and highly flammable. So, instead, we decided to make a blaster arm or arm cannon. This arm would be a small extension that would come out from a bracelet and extend using magnetic pulses.

    So we gathered our materials and went to work. Creating the blaster arm was a lot of work. You needed to control the heat the blaster arm would generate so that it wouldn’t melt your wrist off. Mandy tried different materials, but the most comfortable and safest was a thick layer of tungsten with dry ice inside that would solidify only if the blaster arm was firing up. Kile made a great job creating the part that would be the active part of the blaster arm. He concentrated lasers that would blink on and off at such a high rate that the beam would look like a little ball. And I wired all the stuff together. It took some time to make the metal move around all different-sized wrists, but eventually, we did it.

So after two weeks of hard labor, we were ready with a blaster arm that could come out of your friendship bracelet. And as Kile wished, we also made the switch that would allow us to change the level of deadliness. This caused Mandy to have some serious issues about how our invention was going to be demonized. Then Kile acted out a scene where he told us that our invention could change the world’s military. We told him that anything we could do had probably already been built by rocket scientists.

Finally, the day of the fair. I was so excited to see the other student's projects. Kile told me that the guy who’d made the spy suitcase was going to be the winner of this term's science fair. Then Mandy reminded him that the idea would only win if they’d made it inflammable. Kile shut up for the next 15 minutes and then started to blab about how our arm wasn’t painted to match the theme of our build. I thought it would be cool if we used cyan and black to paint the outside, and white on the inside.

The curtains to the gym doors opened and what I saw astonished me. The students had managed to outperform themselves for the third time. There were man-sized mechs with rubber band guns, a fully holographic motorcycle, and even a rapid-fire tic tac dispenser. I knew that Kile did not want to miss out on that. 

There was something odd though. Every now and then I heard snipping noises and something told me that the noises were not my brain telling me to clip my nails. I mean, come on. Isn’t once every two months sufficient? Luckily after some time, the noises stopped and I was no longer concerned about my totally average length nails.

Then someone came angrily up to me, telling me that his machine was gone. Apparently, he was the guy who’d made the tic tac machine—and then, I have to confess, I was a lot less interested. The guy sounded like a total loser. But anyway, I was hauled off to the table where, as I remember, the rapid-fire tic tac dispenser had been. It was gone all right, just a loose bunch of tic tacs everywhere in its place. I told him that someone had probably stolen it and then told him to go away. 

The shooting try-out at our display was much more successful than I’d thought it would be because a whole line of people was waiting their turn to shoot a gun that came from a friendship bracelet when I got back.

The following night, I had claimed a solid victory over the other students and lay down in bed, satisfied. I was thinking, as usual, about how to improve my inventions. Specifically, the electric generator. Could it have been the generator that had brought this creature, the Pak-Man or Mario spike ball, to my room?  I pondered the question—and then I heard it. In the walls. In the pipes. In my room. And I decided to investigate.

Chapter 3 

PAK-MAN

Massachusetts Institute of Technology was very comfortable. However, the fact that a human was constantly walking around and examining the results of my clumsiness was very disturbing. It seemed as though he was realizing the fact that something was living with him. I would say it would be best if we went on without knowing about one another. But his suspicions seemed to have started to narrow down. 

The first night I saw sketches of a hairy ball with eyes, something that looked very repulsive and looked far from my own smooth exterior. The second night, however, he had wiped off all the hair from his sketch and drawn a round ball with eyes and very sharp teeth. It looked more accurate than the last one. And finally, on the third night, I saw it, a fully yellow-colored Pak-Man. Honestly, I would have admired the picture if I wasn’t so scared. The human knew exactly who I was, and my last encounter with humans hadn’t exactly been the best.

The current situation was deteriorating fast as, when I peeked outside for my midnight snack, there he was, standing with a flashlight, searching for enemies. I rolled back into the little tube I was hiding in. The human knew I had been about to come out. He knew I existed, even though I’d never seen him. Could this human possibly be the reason why I was here?

My philosophical thoughts were waved away as the humans started to become restless. They were staying awake much longer, and the flashing lights were becoming much more frequent. There were several yelps and shouts, and so much laughter it made me want to join them. Still, my urge to survive got the best of me, and so I stood in my series of pipes. 

The pipes weren’t so bad. They were connected, and several of them were so long that they gave me memories of the chords. I used to venture off into the pipes to see what I could find in the mysterious unknown. But after I met a strange creature that tried to eat me, I decided that I would stay in my section of the pipes.

This constant rising of the humans had its upsides too. I saw billions of packets of sugar. I sneaked more than three and was having a feast in the pipes when I heard a boop sound. It wasn’t exactly a threatening sound, because it had a little happy zip at the end, so I didn’t worry that much that people were looking for me. Yet.

I was still feasting on those sugar packets in the pipes when I heard a different noise, and the wall opened. I scampered off before the humans could catch sight of me and heard a distant, but clearly astonished, voice: “More tic tacs. It might actually be a Pak-Man.” 

This human seemed to question my existence. Why would I be such a surprise? Was I thought to have been dead? Then again, I had never seen humans until the past week, so that couldn’t be right. So what was so wrong with my being in this world, in this place?

I decided to explore this topic more. The humans weren’t discussing it openly. Only the one called Aaron seemed to know of me. I stayed in the pipes of his part of the room and listened. And what I heard shocked me.

“How could a video game character come out of anything? It must have been the generator. But I can’t be sure until I see him. It’ll be a scientific breakthrough if I find evidence of his existence! I’d become the most successful scientist ever. I might have to put cameras in the pipes…” Aaron continued.

Video game character? Video game?!  That couldn’t be right. And why was I a breakthrough? Humans knew I existed… Right? That man who saw me when I first arrived . . . Wouldn’t everyone have known by now? Why did Aaron want to find me with such desire anyway? Did my head have a huge price on it? So many questions, so few answers. The only thing I could do was keep listening, or risk being caught and destroyed.

During the next few days, I listened more carefully than ever. The human, Aaron, kept speaking of me. And then, one day, I was so deep in listening to them that I didn’t see the flash. That dreaded camera flash. They had evidence I was there. Now they would come after me. 

And the next thing I knew, I was running for my life through the pipes, hoping for another narrow escape. Away from Aaron, and possibly towards this “generator” that might get me back to the chords. Back to my home.

The feeling of loneliness was tough, and even if the pipes reminded me of some spark of home, it wasn’t enough. I decided that now since I had an excuse to leave, I would try my best. But first, I needed to locate this ‘generator.’ Whatever it was, it was most definitely the reason I was here and my best escape route.

Chapter 4

Radio Log to Government Agency 54

    -Confirming: Agent 2, is this all the footage?-

-Confirmed. The memory drive contains all footage.-

-...-

-Well? Any observable data?-

-It appears to be Pak-Man.-

-The…video game character?-

-Yes.-

-[Sighs.] Affirmative.-

-Any data on where it might have gone?-

-It seems it disappeared after it crossed Albany Street-

-Affirmative. Dispatching death squad immediately.-

-The death squad seems very dangerous for a video game character…-

-It is controlled by other divisions that have jurisdiction.-

-...Well, before you send them off, I suggest you be cautious of the fact that this organism might have the same traits as its video game equivalent.-

-[More sighs.] Affirmative-
Chapter 5

Aaron

Someone was coming in. And Pak-Man was going out. The man said, “Clear the area! Into that room! We’re here to kill an alien object at this location!” He shoved me into the generator room and left the scene, dozens of armed men streaming behind him. Then, for the first time, I actually saw him. The Pak-Man came through the ceiling, a giant, spherical shape, all in yellow, heading for the generator. 

The armed men, realizing the Pak-Man was with me, charged into the room and shot. They missed the Pak-Man, which was great. But what they hit was even worse: the generator. 

It was about to explode.

A wave of energy burst out of the machine. I knew what was to come. The devices in range would bring, oh, so many things to life. Was that Mandy playing Cubecraft? And Kile was playing Super Matteo on the boss level, with Browser. And that arcade on Harvard Street, that was in range too. 

I watched in horror as Dr. Wily stepped out of my Nintiendo, looking confused. Pixelated ghosts flew out from the arcade, seeking the missing piece to their game. And from Cubecraft, thank god, it was just a sheep. But then Browser came, with Kemek, along with an army of little brown beans. I watched as Spiderman flew out of the TV, looking perplexed and confuzzled. Then I saw something that made my heart stop. 

Just when I'd thought things couldn't get any worse, a giant, winged creature, all black, burst out of the Cubecraft console and flew up into the sky, busting through the ceiling. Several green monsters burst out after it.

Panic rose from the very air around us. All the kids were screaming about something that had just flown out of their video games.

I turned to the military men. “This is all your fault. If you hadn’t shot my generator, I could have had time to shut it down, and we wouldn’t even be in this mess.”

The military men were suddenly looking sheepish. And what happened next was a miracle.

For each game that a villain had emerged from, the respective hero had emerged as well. Ultra Man came to stop Wily and Matteo for Browser. Stan came from Cubecraft to take on the enemies. And Pak-Man was there to take out the ghosts. Not to mention, Spiderman was still there, snacking on a cupcake. This fight was going to be one for the history books.

Pak-Man  in the tubes, clashing with the ghosts. It was up to me and the rest of the heroes to stop the enemies. Wily had already built a mech and was launching missiles. It took agility and speed to take care of what was going to happen to me. Stan was already fighting the dragon with his Zecronium Sword. And the little sheep was gone alongside three of the beans.

I lifted my blaster arm and incinerated the missiles from Wily’s mech. Luckily, it ran on thermal energy from the body, and I was sweating too much for my own good. I turned around to see the armed government troops, but they were already gone.

‘Loser’ is the accurate definition for those kinds of people. People who leave children to deal with world-destroying crises. A bomb hurled my way and I ducked, hoping it wouldn’t blow up whenever it wanted to. Luckily, Matteo came in and snatched it before it could explode. If they hadn’t just frightened the universe by coming out of my generator, I could say that we were a team that had known each other for years and you would believe me.

A Cubecraft sheep was being held captive, in a way, by three beans. I realized the peril that sheep must be in. What if the beans were hungry? I couldn’t bear to leave it behind. The beans ran into a warehouse nearby, pushing the sheep along. There was a sign next to it that read “Premium meats made here”. I realized what was to come.  I swiftly ran past a squad of beans and, just for fun, incinerated them. I burst into the warehouse to find the sheep flailing and squealing, the beans leading it to a meat grinder. I saw the keen look of desperation in the sheep’s eyes. I grabbed a bean and used it to bash the others unconscious. The sheep, now out of the beans’ custody, looked around in relief. Wanting to be safe, it wandered up to me and looked at me sadly. This made it clear it wanted to stay with me, as it now feared its demise. And why wouldn’t I take him in?

Just then, Ultra Man slammed into the roof of the warehouse with a sickening crunch. Wily was taking advantage of my absence to take down his arch-nemesis once and for all. The sheep ran and hid in the corner, desperately pushing its way into a crate. I rushed out to protect Ultra Man, hoping that he wasn’t on the brink of death. 

Chapter 6

PAK-MAN

Things were popping out of black screens and chasing each other. And just like in the chords, pink, cyan, orange, and red things were flying around and entering the pipes. I didn’t know what they were but I did know they were after me. I took in the scene for a moment. A mad scientist lobbing missiles at someone from a huge machine. An angry turtle with a witch and brown beans and a frolicking sheep, unaware of the danger in the area. Green things were exploding and a huge black dragon came to ground, roaring. I ducked into the pipes. The multicolored things following behind.

I ate some of the spilled tic tacs and came across a huge one. Upon consuming it, I felt a surge of energy. I felt as if I could take on anything. So I did. I sped towards the multicolored things and they fled. I caught the orange one and it dissipated into thin air. I went for the next one but found my energy to have faded. The things were no longer afraid and they were back after me. So that’s how I do it, I thought. I have to find the large tic tac and take the things out. Things were beginning to make sense.

I traveled across the pipes, hoping for another encounter with the large tic tac. The multicolored things were coming close behind and I still hadn’t found one. They soon had me almost cornered. There was only one other way to go: Left. 

So that’s what I did. And thank God I did. The large tic tac awaited me, right there. I grabbed it in my mouth and caught the pink and purple ones swiftly. Only the cyan thing remained. However, my energy was depleted once more. I was about to duck away when I noticed the cyan thing was frozen. A line of what appeared to be green text hovered above its head. Something was odd about it and was preventing the thing from moving. 

It slowly recovered and observed its surroundings. It was staring at the tic tacs. It seemed to have realized the only way to stop me alone. And some bug in its code had caused it to be able to do it. The cyan thing was trying to find a large tic tac.

I watched in horror as it slowly, one by one, ate the tic tacs. Then, seeming discontent,  it flew down a different pipe. Whoever found the large tic tac first would surely devour the loser. And that cyan thing was getting ahead. Rushing back into the race, I gulped down the tic tacs on the way to a large one. And then I saw it. Around the corner. The large one. And right then and there, I realized I was doomed.

The cyan thing was already there.

It attempted to swallow the large tic tac, but floated right through it. I was so relieved! The green text must have only allowed it to eat the small ones. I snatched the large tic tac in my mouth and caught the cyan thing. It was so satisfying watching it disintegrate. 

Now that my problems were over, I decided it was best to end the chaos with everyone else. The moment I got out of the pipes, a green thing ran at me and started hissing. At first, I thought he was just rude, but upon a quick second inspection, I assumed he was about to combust. I ducked away to a heap of rubble and heard an odd sound. It sounded rather like this: KA-BOOM!!!

Peeking out, there was now a huge hole in the ground. More green things, which I shall now call suicide bombers, flooded into the area, searching for what their comrade had been so eager to eliminate. Luckily, they were of minimal intelligence and didn’t make a thorough search, missing my spot in the rubble. 

I sped away and bumped into something. Dazed, I looked up to see another suicide bomber, hissing and flashing. I darted away once more. The resulting KABOOM caused the rest of the squad to come flooding into the area again. I realized that getting to the actual fight might be very difficult. Especially because one of them had actually thrown a bomb.

Now things were getting a bit tense. My energy was draining and more suicide bombers were coming, one after another, searching for something they didn’t like, something to use their life to destroy. Right now, they were looking for me. Analyzing my surroundings, I created a path around the bombers and toward a pillar, closer to the human Aaron, whom I wished to help. Ducking behind the pillar, I could feel myself drawn towards the fight, eager to help. 

But my hopes vanished when I saw what was right next to me. 

A suicide bomber, glowing with explosive energy. Judging by the added energy and the normal explosive energy of the bombers, this blast would be like being struck by lightning. I dashed away just in time. As I’d suspected, the pillar was decimated and a huge crater was left. The enhanced bomber was gone, but now the rest could see me. I made a run for it and finally got to the battle. Suicide bombers slowly caught up to me with amazing speed, at about 85 mph, faster even than me. It appeared that I would have to dispose of them in combat.

After finally losing the bombers—by throwing an exploding one to the others—I saw a huge skeletal beast. Someone suddenly flashed in front of it. I watched in awe as the thing turned to dust. From its remains, the guy, called Stan, snatched a crystalline star. 

“This will aid us greatly in battle,” he said. 

I rushed around the scene and sped to the next battle.

What I saw there greatly puzzled me. A huge, angry turtle with a witch and an army of brown beans was fighting a plumber in overalls and someone in a red and blue suit. The plumber, to my surprise, threw fire and felled dozens of beans. The red and blue guy shot a web, caught and swung around a bean, and nailed the witch in the face. 

I had collected some large tic tacs from the pipes. I ate one and rushed into battle. I ate a bunch of beans and rushed to the turtle. I then realized that he was about to smash me with his hand and I dodged out of the way. All of a sudden, a hammer bashed him over the head. A pink ball rushed past him and just swallowed a bean. He spat it out as a star nailed the turtle in the head. Then the guy who had been fighting the mech jumped at him and shot the turtle with a ball of energy. The turtle fell back.

Finally, only the beans remained. Then a little sheep charged at them in a rage, something motivating him to flip them over. It then ran over the beans and they poofed into smoke. The sheep seemed to be satisfied with the outcome.

Then, the guy called Stan ran in and chopped up the rest of the beans, fast. Soon, the army had been dismantled and the fight was about to end. But then I realized that the suicide bombers had ran off somewhere and were still out there. 
Chapter 7

Aaron

Just when things got out of control, Pak-Man finally arrived with Cubecraft stalkers following behind. Ultra Man seized the opportunity, hurled one at Wily’s mech, and took out the fuel tank. The mech plummeted to the ground. Ultra Man had defeated Wily. I went to help Ultra Man recharge by using my blaster cannon to zap him. He was in full health.

Stan, having more knowledge of the creatures, lured them to the Black Dragon and tricked them into harming it. Bursting into a rage, the dragon launched countless fireballs and dove at Stan, missing by an inch. Everything that touched it disintegrated. It looked like Stan was the next one who needed help. 

Stan’s Zecronium sword flashed in the light. He drove it into the dragon’s neck, but only dented the dragon’s thick skin. Now that Ultra Man was free, he joined the fight. In a flash of movement, the dragon knocked Stan to the floor and threw Ultra Man on top of him. 

Then, unable to let Stan die, the sheep burst out of the shed and distracted the dragon. Seeing a meal, the dragon flew towards it, jaws wide open. Seizing the opportunity, Stan leaped in front of the sheep and stabbed the Eternal Dragon inside of its throat. The dragon wailed in agony and fell back. However, it wasn’t giving up. 

Stan turned towards me, still hanging on to the thick hide of the beast. He grimly said, “There might be only one creature that can defeat the beast.”

Arranging clumps of mysterious brown soil into an odd position, he placed three pitch-black skulls on top. The stuff began bursting with dark energy and congealed into a dark skeletal shape topped by three skeleton heads. The dragon, sensing a new opponent to match its strength, lunged toward the beast known as the Decaying Soul. The thing fought back, launching skulls loaded with fatal poison. It caused a gash in the dragon’s tough skin. The dragon fell back, shocked by its injury. The beast took that moment to finish the Eternal Dragon. The dragon then disappeared in a huge light.

Without a formal opponent to fight, the Decaying Soul then turned towards us. 

“This can’t be good…” I said. 

Stan slashed and rolled. The Decaying Soul hissed and shot numerous skulls at himself. That was it. Stan was trying to trick it into killing itself. As it turned to a pile of ashes, Stan picked up a strange star from its ashes. Mesmerized by the fight, I almost didn’t notice Ultra Man disintegrating the fallen skull projectiles, muttering about how Cubecraft enemies were messed up.  

“Hey, they’re not that bad…” Stan said in reply.

I went for the stalkers from Cubecraft, realizing they had gotten away. I chased them down. The next thing I knew, Stan was in hot pursuit of them as well. I aimed for the stalkers as they clumsily ran for their lives, clearly hoping that they could avoid the gleaming purple blade. Fat chance! Stan dashed in and cut off their heads while I blasted the rest out of history. We were a good team. 

I tried to get a high-five, but Stan ignored me and started helping Ultra Man. Browser got back to his feet and started to launch fireballs at everyone. Matteo got burned and was knocked across the room. Ultra Man was almost hit, dodging Browser’s huge claws just in time. And why was Curby there?

Luckily, Matteo being his arch-nemesis, Browser focused less on everyone else. But, after receiving another direct blow from Curby and a shot from Ultra Man, Browser seemed to realize he was greatly outnumbered. And then he ate… A mushroom? A mushroom that made him grow huge and menacing? How did that work?!?! I thought mushrooms only worked on Matteo!! 

“Maybe I should have kept the Decaying Soul alive…” Stan muttered under his breath. 

The next thing I knew, Browser had one of those health point bars above his head. Stan did a quick slash at Browser and only about 2% of the health bar was gone. Only 1/50 bars down. Matteo launched a fireball and I shot a plasma blast. Still, 90% left. 

I had to remember what Browser’s weakness was before he tried to eat us all or stomp us with his earthquake skill. Because we weren’t in-game, we needed to stun him so he could not go inside his shell.

Ultra Man turned on his … Um… Whatever-his-electro-version-is-called-mode and I turned up my blaster to instant kill. Stan pulled out an enchanted trident that summons lightning and reached for the strange star that he got when defeating the decaying soul. I’d played Cubecraft enough times to know that it could be used to make a power-amplifying device. 

Stan got out a workbench and got to work. Matteo, having realized what was to come, geared up into his Thunder Matteo version. Stan got the device prepped and activated it. I suddenly felt really energized. This was going in the right direction.

After about two minutes Browser, Wily, and all the other bad guys retreated into Wily’s teleportation device. Things calmed down a bit, and we started to help students that had been injured by debris or direct hits. Thankfully, there were no casualties. I would not have forgiven myself if one of my energy blasts had killed someone.

And then I realized, how the HECK am I going to explain all of this to the authorities? A birthday party gang couldn’t possibly blow up half the campus. The cops wouldn’t buy a story that they’d been other government projects. It all ended up with me being the ultimate criminal for bringing all the characters out into the world. The government already knew about Pak-Man being made by me. What would stop them from figuring out that I was the perpetrator of mass destruction?

 I needed a big plan.

The video game characters decided to stick around and help rebuild MIT and then go back to their respective video games in total secrecy. I had to assure them that the government could deal with the remaining enemies. After all, they were just things like the very stupid slime cubes from Cubecraft. They didn’t care if you were behind a wall; they just kept bumping into it. But, if the government dudes did come around, I would have to do a lot of explaining. 

I went to the generator to return all of my companions back to their games. They all packed souvenirs of this world. But what I saw shocked me. The generator was completely fried. 

I should have known that a random blast would have destroyed the circuits. Now, what was I going to do? If the generator was in place, I could have fired it up, sent all the video game characters back, and destroyed the generator to delete the evidence. But now, phase one and two of the plan was hopeless because phase three had been completed prematurely. 

I gazed at the heroes outside, playing with one of the remaining slime cubes. If they just understood the danger they were in…

I went outside to tell the eager heroes that they couldn’t go back to their games. I didn’t want the inevitable result to come, but their happy faces fell as I spread the news. It would take another two months to rebuild something in such terrible shape. I also needed to rewire the generator to do the exact opposite thing that it was supposed to do. I need it to change DNA back into pixels. 

I went to work, connecting burned wires, powering up components, and rebuilding broken machinery. It was tiring. The heroes helped out as well. Matteo used his zap power to give out tremendous amounts of energy to power my tools. Ultra Man used his plasma cutters to cut out the steel I needed in the right shape. And Curby made star decorations for the generator. Stan gave me some Zecronium so the machine wouldn’t blow up as easily. Plus, the purple tint really gave a nice vibe to it. I even incorporated his power-up machine, called a ‘beacon,’ and repurposed it as something to help control the machine’s power. Basically, he tried to help the generator actually locate what it was supposed to bring to life. Or, in our current case, what it needed to put back in the game.

The explosions were quite small, and not a lot of people had seen the fighting, so the government had not been alerted. Yet. The fixed generator looked perfect. Now, it was time to say goodbye. 

The video game characters seemed to have become used to this world now. They were having fun. Was it really right for me to send them back just to avoid jail time? Yes. 

I told them to gather around the generator. I flicked the switch on. As I did, Pak-Man scrambled in, clearly scared.
Chapter 8

PAK-MAN

The battle was over. We had defeated the weird men and all the other strange creatures that had tried to harm us. I decided to bask in the warm sunset as I looked at the cleanly rebuilt Institution. It was a pleasant sight but also a sad one. Soon, I would have to leave this world and go back to my world as an outcast. 

The road was packed with busy vehicles and pedestrians. I had started to get used to this comfort. But still, even as I roamed around on the peaceful campus, there was a tugging sensation. The villains had come from the same machine as I did. That meant that they could only be truly gone if they went back into the machine. 

I bolted awake from my peaceful trance. Not only because of the horror of my realization. I heard screaming.

A huge wave of enemies was pouring down the road, destroying anything in its path. Buildings, vehicles, street lights, you name it. I scrambled to warn the others. A stray missile blocked my path. More fell near me, like craters on the moon. A strong smell of gunpowder and smoke filled the air around me as I desperately tried to find Aaron. 

“Aaron!!” I screeched desperately. “AARON!!”Silence. 

The doctor found me and started to dispense everything he had at me. Bullets, bolts of electricity, warheads. I desperately dodged, and almost lost my life, too. 

The doctor and all the other enemies approached. I tried to calm myself. Maybe it was only a dream. A long dream. I was in a coma. Nothing worked. It was just me and them. 

The doctor left and commanded a strange yellow robot to destroy me. “If this is really it, I might as well go down fighting!” I said to myself and, with my mouth open, I charged. 

The yellow robot lunged. There was a crunching noise. Was that me? But I felt okay. I opened my eyes. The robot was gone. In its place, I was standing, crunching, on metal. I swallowed. It took a few seconds to comprehend. Had I just eaten a robot?

Confusion washed over me, and then a small light forced me to close my eyes. The light was coming from inside of me. And then a voice spoke.

PAK MAN’S SPIRIT

Who are you? Why am I here?

Before I begin, I must ask you a question. Do you trust yourself?

Maybe.

Then, I will begin. I am your spirit. The first of the yellow PAK-MAN race. 

We once roamed this very planet before even the dinosaurs were born. We made a civilization. With our intelligence, we claimed the throne of the world. And the best part was that we had a weapon like the humans had fire. We could eat anything. 

We could absorb things and scavenge for even the tiniest bit of nutrients. But then, I got a bit cocky. I told all the other PAK-MEN that I could probably eat gods. 

After hearing this nonsense, the gods doomed us, sending us into another realm. A realm of stupidity. 

For years my descendants were orange. Until you. You somehow managed to break the gods’ orders and become a yellow PAK-MAN. That is the reason why everyone was so overprotective of you. It is because you were the hope to bring them back to their former glory.

And can I?

You could, but I wish you would not.

Why not?

It is because we are just untrustworthy with power. Just because we were the leaders of a small part of the universe, does not make us god-like. We are animals, just like humans and dogs and cats. We hunt to survive. We do not have infinite resources. 

But enough moral talk. Hero, it seems as though Earth is in peril. You have a choice. You can either make it back into your world by stealing your friend’s technology, or you can stay here and fight with your allies. 

I’m going to stay. My friends need me. And if I just betray them—I don’t think that it’s right for me to just destroy our former home. It’s time to show the true power of the PAK-MEN.

GO HERO, AND SAVE THIS WORLD.
Chapter 9

PAK-MAN

Now I realized that it was my birthright to defend Earth. I would do everything in my power to stop these inferiors from destroying our home. And, for the first time, I was not scared to face anything. 

I zipped, dodged, and gobbled like a mad man. I mowed through their ranks like an overgrown bush against the largest lawn mower to ever exist. Thousands of beans, robots, and parts of suicide bombers flew in and out of my mouth as I sped with impossible speed.

At that point, my allies seemed to realize what was going on. They jumped into the battle as well as we slashed, blasted, and ate the enemy troopers. Not a single casualty was on our side. 

But there was a small problem. The wave was infinite. I asked Stan to check where they were coming from. He soon made a stone staircase and scouted for us. 

A faint “Wily made another generator!” came from the higher level. 

I spotted it too. A huge portal-like machine was bringing out tens of thousands of enemies every minute.

Even if I could use my newfound power, it would be impossible to beat every single one of them. I had one idea on how to destroy every single one of the troops. That plan was highly risky, and I needed all of the others’ help to initiate it. First, I would need Aaron to give me a makeshift communicator. Then Ultra Man would need to power it up for me. And for some reason, I found it reasonable to make Matteo push the buttons for me. And then I put it on the ground.

A strange voice came: “Hello? This is the pentagon speaking.”
Chapter 10

Aaron

Time whizzed past as everything happened all at once. A flood of bad guys was pouring out from weird generators, Pak-Man started to eat a bunch of stuff, and also wanted me to contact the government, which seemed to be the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. They might put it down to one of my “accidents”.

Eventually, I gave in. I had to, or else the entire world would be destroyed. So I set to work. Making a phone isn’t exactly complicated. All you need is a basic set of information about the network. I made a very rugged phone and gave it to Pak-Man. Ultra Man powered it up, and Matteo turned it on. I don’t know why that last part was necessary for usage.

Anyway, as Pak-Man started to scream into the phone about how the government couldn’t protect one of its most civilized bits of the country, the thousands of bad guys were advancing. But they seemed to have slowed down. It was probably just to put salt on the wound by saying, “Hey, we won anyway so, I think I’m going to be chill while coming towards you to end your life.”

And then something huge hit the thousands of enemies. A missile. Something that looked like it had come from the sky. Had Wily taken control of the skies as well? 

It could just be a misfire. This was a total bummer. Just as all seemed lost, fourteen military jets in a V-formation dropped thousands of incendiary bombs that lit the ground in flames. The thousands turned to hundreds. And then the refugees, us, seeing that we had a huge ally, joined the frenzy, and the battle for Earth began.

The participants of the battle saw only plasma beams, missiles, bullets, fireballs, dirt, but mostly, blood. It was being spilled by the gallons. The blood of soldiers, the blood of robots (which turned out to be oil), and the blood of mushrooms(?) And, as I witnessed this astonishing amount of violence, I started to wonder if my inventions really should have been classified as accidents. The generator had been made for recreational purposes, but now it had been the cause of so many deaths and injuries. My plasma cannon also worked for similar purposes.

It just seemed like all I ever did was create accidents, until now. Now, everything I had built was being used to destroy the enemy. And all because of my accidents. Maybe everything I’d ever do was just an accident. But, that didn’t stop them from being great. And I, for one, was not going to let the worst accident happen.

As I looked around, I noticed a lot of good news. Stan had been cutting the wires of most of the generators, and the military was taking care of the rest. I witnessed Wily being shoved into a military van. Browser now had a muzzle. Kamek was under a net, and the several Eternal Dragons were being transported to a science facility. The rest of the mob were either dead or had run away.

I tried to tell them that these creatures didn’t have real DNA. They just had replicas of human DNA, morphed to give them their shapes and powers. But would they listen to an accident?

I stumbled back to look at the dazzling sunrise that lit the sky with a light so bright that it seemed to clear away all the bodies. After a few moments of basking, I got the disintegrator and zapped all the non-human bodies into history. Then, with a heavy heart, I got to the reversed generator and started to flip some switches. Just before I activated it, though, an important-looking official walked up to me.

“Hey, kid. Can you talk for a second?”

EPILOGUE

Aaron

Fall out!

Ultra Man rocketed towards the band of robots that were destroying Times Square. A quick volley of rockets felled the robots even before the man of weapons himself landed on the street. 

Meanwhile, Matteo burned down a huge amount of titanium robots in Jamaica. And me? Well, I’m somewhere in Luxemburg, tracking down some of Wily’s last surviving robot goons. The scientist himself escaped a few days ago. But we’re working on it. 

After all, good can’t stand without evil.

PAK-MAN

I snuggle up into my capsule to make myself comfortable. I and all the rest of the “video game characters” ended up staying here to be part of a hero organization. I had the pleasure of eating up all the remaining robots for my meals. But the thing that brings me more pleasure now is that I can be with the people I’m supposed to be with. The people that know what I am capable of. I’m capable of great things. But it’s not just me. It’s you as well.
 
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