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Aggressive Expansion

Sparks sighed, and rested his head on the wall of the Game Gate. He took a long drag from his cigarette, and a thin billow of smoke trailed from his mouth.

The thump of his head on the cold copper wall drew a neat little hum from within, and a tiny pulse of static electricity - to be honest, the only sign that Game Central Station was still alive. Above the gates, the titles of games had stopped scrolling, and just stared out from screens like glazed eyes. Test cards shone dully from the monoliths that dotted the walkways. Huge swathes of the hollow centre were drowned in shadow, and the games on the far side of the Station seemed little more than half-blurred images of empty sockets.

No-one was out. No-one was there, except him. The air was still, and cold, only the cigarette providing a sliver of warmth between his shaking fingers. Sparks’ other hand rested in his leather jacket.

He sighed.

Turbo…Turbo had it rough. He knew that. Or at least he thought he knew it -  he wasn’t the one getting the stares, and the little whispers behind his back that they didn’t think he could hear, and he’d never been outright barred from anyone’s game. And the move’d sucked some of the fight out of him. That was natural. He knew that. 

But there were three gangs in TurboTime: Street. Three, prowling and scheming in the dark like usurpers behind a throne, sharpening the knives to slot into Turbo’s back. You couldn’t stay in the slow lane. Not in that city. People who did tended to end up as smears on the highway, mopped up by uninterested NPCs with a job to do.

Sooner or later, someone had to do something. Or someone was gonna get killed.

He couldn’t be gone too long. Well, he could - right now, the arcade’s door was locked, and any kids wanting to play their game’d be tucked up in bed and waiting ‘til morning - but he felt anxious, and didn’t know why. He was paranoid, maybe. A reasonable reaction, from living in a place where they really were all out to get you. 

He stretched, and stood up straight -

- and immediately SLAMMED back against the wall. Textures flickered and crackled in his chest, hissing angry binary.

Code - raw, blue code, sizzling like a wire in a bathtub, seeped into his shirt and dribbled down his chest, drip drip dripping a puddle on the floor. He felt something twist, grazing a rib, and shuddered with a distorted groan, choppy and flanged.

Some of it, though, was slipping away from him - forming a shape out of his lifeblood. It was long, with a cruel hook on the end of it. It looked for all the world like a talon.

Then the invisibility pack wore off, and he saw a face a few inches from his own.

It was grey, with dark circles around burning yellow eyes. The pupils were dilated, flooded by sheer animalistic excitement. He felt another twist, and heard a sadistic little giggle rumbling from the back of a throat he couldn’t see. There were so many teeth, grinning like a hook on one side of the face - the other side was burned, and boiled, and permanently exposed. He could make out an eyepatch, as the world started to fade at the edges.

Then the talon yanked itself free, with a squelch. Sparks collapsed, blue blood squeaking against the copper. He could taste copper, leaking up his mouth. The thing had his code, tiny strands of it, in its talons, and fiddled with them like a pianist at his keys.

Something BOOMED, like the wrath of God. Lights snapped on like opening eyes, and the game titles began to scroll rapidly, as if making up for lost time. In a second, light had burned away the shadows, and a blue lightning bolt slammed into the copper and seared the floor.

The Surge Protector adjusted his glasses, and stepped forward, crackling.

"What seems to be the problem?"

"Nothin’. Sorry for wastin’ yer fancy ent~trance.”

Sparks adjusted his jacket, shaking loose some flickering pixels as his model returned to normal. “Just…I dunno, I had this texture error. Musta tripped the sensors.”

A keen eye might have noticed the way his speech bounced, or at least had a lilting step. They might have noticed how he was quietly wrestling with his own tongue. But by then, Sparks was already gone, flipping a fairly obscene gesture at the Protector on his way out.


A sudden thrum in the air, that coursed through him, and the silence that followed, indicated the Protector’d left him to it. He grinned. Good. He needed a racing game, after all. This one’d pissed him off. 

The way he saw it, it was time to level up his Most Powerful Virus In The Arcade skill-tree.



Ralph may be a big guy in his own game, but compared to Sugar Rush…. especially during the climax…  

or Sugar Rush’s basically just very big

(I just have this philosophical thought about a guy usually seen as big being reduced to a tiny size because of things around him, but my brain is too tired to try and make further sense of it right now)

None of it probably really sunk in until this scene though. 

((Happy birthday, queenwithoutahome! :D This picture has backstory:

Basically, Karts was trying to come up with a birthday present for Elsa. Given that his ideal present would both go at several hundred miles per hour and be entirely dedicated to his life, he took her on a day out to Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 - specifically, the one with a Frozen ride in it. To make sure the ride remained unbroken, he compressed his file-size a bit.

Unfortunately, said Frozen ride has a pretty big dip in it, near the top of the Ice Mountain.  In this picture, Elsa has now found this out. Karts has now found this out. The two have markedly different opinions about this. Karts is also the one wearing a seatbelt instead of a lapbar, since gravity’s for nerds.

Afterwards, they ended up going on some slower rides. KC obviously responded to most of the people clamouring for Elsa’s autograph by handing out handfuls of his own, but she managed to make a few kids happy anyway. This was also the day Elsa got introduced to cotton-candy.

Then things got a bit hyper, and ended with an impromptu karaoke session (with KC whipping out a battered-looking Guitar Hero guitar for the occasion). No photos exist of that. Luckily).

PS - I’ve not forgotten OcTurbofest - I’ll write something tomorrow. Or do something else. Depends how good my Turbo voice is. ;) ))

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