King Candy wondered if there was an audience.
He’d earned one, he supposed, after all he’d done for this arcade. Brokenhearted hordes grimly watching the Gate. Weeping NPCs, grizzled action heroes cursing the sky bitterly, platformer old-timers holding hands in solidarity, the whole shebang. And of course, the Players’d be inconsolable. The fanbase’d melt away, desperately searching to fill the aching Sugar Rush-shaped void in their hearts, and the arcade’d be boarded up by Tuesday lunchtime.
"Thowah BILL, get me my-…’ah. Yeth."
The command faded into silence and died, in the cavernous air of the empty hall. The King hopped out of his kart-throne again, for the third time, and started pacing. His eyes, worn with worry and sagging a fraction at the edges, never left the looming gigantic door at the end of the Throne Room. It was fully visible, since GIGO had torn its way through the lobby, and the fierce, burning light of battle flashed through the cracks in the gigantic door and danced through the shattered stain-glass.
There were two windows, far above his head and above the great door on either side, and every so often they erupted in a glowing blast of roaring flame. Those were the anti-air gumball trebuchets at work, and they smote the swarming clouds of bugs almost effortlessly from the blood-red sky.
On the roof, and in the gardens outside, there were the clomping footsteps of anti-viral guards. He heard the swish of swords, and the wrenching groans of steel tearing through metal that didn’t have a name yet. The hissing thwip of crossbows knifed through the air, spearing any bugs that made it past the trebuchets with deadly, pre-programmed accuracy.
And then there was the gurgling roar of GIGO, from a thousand mouths and a thousand seething, slithering bodies. The Garbage In, Garbage Out system was programmed to destroy any foreign matter in a game (unless it managed to trick the code itself), and its use was typically a last resort. Now, the bug swarm and the slimy horde were devouring each other at equal rates.
All those defences, working together, would give him about twenty minutes. If that.
"Ahah look upon my WORKTH, ye MIGHTY, a-and and deth~PAIR, hoo, hoohoo, well SOMEONE’TH gonna be DESPAIRING!”
He slammed his cane down angrily. He’d picked the quote up from somewhere, and he’d be damned if he was letting something like that apply to HIM. No, he had a plan. He ALWAYS had a plan.
…he’d just have to think of a plan.
"Well what ith THERE, ahoo, WORK with me pleathe!" He gestured to his invisible audience, a tad frantically, before resuming his pacing. "There’th the vol~CANO, but how do I GET to it~?"
Using a kart was out. He was fast, but the bugs’d have gnawed through the bridges first to isolate the troops (he was beginning to toss some credence to the idea that they might, possibly, be a tiny bit sentient.) And to get the top of the volcano in one’d be impossible. No, he’d need to FLY something, if he could manage that, like a plane or a hovercraft or a blimp-
"…a BLIMP. A-ahoo, the BLIMP, we USE, to show the scores at the raceth yes yes that’th IN HERE!” He smiled, at the edges, fingers drumming at the tip of his cane in thought. “But they’d chew straight THROUGH that…”
Unless they had a distraction. But he couldn’t just go outside and grab one, that’d be suicide. No, it’d have to be someone in the castle, and the only person in the castle was…
He sighed, and gripped the cane tightly, gritting his teeth.