-Captain N-
The Eye of the Storm
By Macrossgrn

*Part 1:*
Videoland had undergone a massive change since the last time the N Team defeated Mother Brain's evil schemes to take it over. For once, Mega Man was no longer the original green tinted robot. Instead, he was now mostly blue, with the inside of his helmet the only part that remained green. The N Team had been dismissed for a small vacation, after both sides had called a truce. Amazingly, Mother Brain was keeping her word, but was presumed to be building her forces. Each member of the N Team went back to his or her respective lands- Mega Man to Megaland, Kid Icarus to Mt. Olympus, Simon Belmont to Castlevania, and so on. Mother Brain's minions did the same- Eggplant wizard, King Hippo, and Dr. Wily all went back to their homelands.

That was the eye of the storm- but a new, much more powerful storm was fast approaching Videoland, and very few could even see it coming.

"Hey Duke! We're going to California Dreams! Let's go!" the Game Master yelled out from the Warp room inside the palace. Game Boy would be left behind, to guard the palace, especially since Game Boy wasn't waterproof like Mega Man was. Lana stood beside Kevin, with a small array of things with her- tanning lotion, extra clothes, a bikini. However, Keene was made to carry just about everything else. Rounding a corner, the blur that was a tanned dog with a bandana on named Duke scrambled toward the warp, and then through it. "I've got to get a leash." he said, shaking his head, before smiling to Lana. "Ladies first, Lana."

Lana smiled. "Why, thank you Kevin. See you in a minute." And with that, she too disappeared into the warp, followed a few seconds later by Kevin. Transporting between realms in this manner was almost instantaneous, and a few seconds later all three arrived in the beach world of California Dreams. As always, it was a beautiful day out here, though on the horizon above the ocean, a small but fierce storm could barely be seen. However, Duke, Lana, and Kevin were already setting up their little camp, unaware of the storm that approached. Finally, after a few minutes, a Frisbee was produced, which got Duke all crazy. "Go long boy!" Kevin exclaimed, and his dog took off running, looking back every few seconds to check on the new play toy. "You better throw that thing before Duke comes back to get it, Kevin." Lana said, giggling a little bit as she lay down on her back to keep up the tan she always had.

"Good idea, Lana. Get it Duke!" Kevin exclaimed, as he tossed the frisbee into the air, watching as it hurtles toward Duke. Duke, who was intent on catching the Frisbee, jumped into the air, and with a snapping motion, clenched onto it with his teeth. "Way to go, boy!" Kevin exclaimed, even as Duke ran toward him at full speed. "Uh-oh..." he muttered, and as Duke got close, within a few feet, the dog jumped. Duke's forward momentum brought him straight into his human pal and both crashed into the sand, the frisbee forgotten as Duke began to lick at Kevin's face. "Cut it out, boy!" he laughed, as he sat up, scratching Duke all along his back. Lana just giggled at the display, before closing her eyes to soak up the sun.

"Ah, isn't this great?" Kevin asks Lana, a few hours later. "Yes, it is, Kevin, but... hey, what is that?" Lana exclaimed, just as, for the first time ever, the sun on the world of California Dreams was blocked by clouds. "This world never has a cloudy day! What's going on here?" she said, standing up and gathering their things. Kevin got up to do the same, before taking a good look at the storm. "Hey, those clouds aren't as dark as they should be, if they're rain clouds. There's something really bad about this." he commented, and looked to Duke as he got everything together. Including the power pad and zapper around his waist. "Let's get back to the Palace of Power, and see what's going on here."

A few moments later, the three were back in the Palace of Power. Gameboy raced to greet them. "Danger, danger, danger. Videoland in danger." Gameboy droned on and on, adding in a few beeps and whistles here and there. After Lana and Captain N got their normal gear on, they raced to the control room to see the situation. Lana gasped, reaching the control room first, and stepped out of the doorway as Kevin came in. "This is awful! Look! 10% of Videoland is gone! Including Kongoland!" she exclaimed, and Kevin's jaw dropped as he saw the monitor. "You're right! And, see what remains in those places? Clouds! In fact, they look exactly like the clouds that blocked out the sun on... What the?"

Suddenly, on the list of lands now gone on the screen beside the map screen, was California Dreams. "I can't believe it! My people are dying, and there's nothing I can do about it!" Lana said softly, shaking her head as tears began to form in her eyes. "Lana, we need to get the N-Team together. Before it's too late. Look! Mt. Olympus and Castlevania is already starting to be overrun by those clouds!" Kevin said. Lana was frozen in shock over the happenings, so Kevin walked over to the computers to dial up warps for the N-Team members from Mt. Olympus, Megaland, and Castlevania. Soon, all of the N-Team was assembled. "What did you call us back here for? I was having such a nice dream." Simon began, before seeing the princess in shock. "Your highness, what is the matter? Come here, I'll give you a kiss and make it all better." and then he sighed, seeing that even his lecherous comment made no impact on the prone princess.

"Guys- you better look at this." Kevin said, pointing to the map monitor. Simon, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus turned, to the screen, only to gasp in surprise. "No-icus!" Kid Icarus cried out, as he watched his home of Mt. Olympus get enveloped by the clouds. The only place that didn't seem to be affected yet was Megaland. "About 17% now of Videoland is gone," Captain N said. "Most of the sports-oriented worlds, as well as the adventure worlds are gone. Look, even Metroid is having problems." Even as he said that, the world of Metroid was partially taken over by the clouds. "Who cares about Metroid! Look at my home!" Simon said, seeing that even his home was beginning to be completely taken over... in fact, only a little of it remained.

"We need help!" Kevin said, and he quickly flipped the communications screen and channel to the one person he thought could help. "Palace of Power calling Dr. Wright! Emergency! Dr. Wright, are you there?" he said, and suddenly the white haired scientist was on the screen. "Yes, Princ... Oh, Captain N! I am sorry, I didn't know it was you. What can I do for you?"

"Dr. Wright, there is a strange cloud that has enveloped nearly 20% of Videoland! Megaland doesn't seem to have been affected by it, however. In fact, it's the only land that hasn't been run over at all by this mysterious cloud! We've already lost California Dreams, Mt. Olympus, and Castlevania is nearly gone! If we lose much more, we'll have to abandon the palace!" Kevin said. 'He doesn't know the half of it,' Lana thought. The Palace of Power received its name for drawing support power from every world, including Metroid. Already, the Ultimate Warp Zone may not be stable enough to send Kevin home.

"Calm down, Captain N. We can transport almost everything at the palace to Megaland... except, I'm afraid, for the three most important things that are stored there." The good doctor said, and Kevin looked surprised. "What do you mean, Dr. Wright? The people here are important. Are you saying we can't transport people through the warps?" he asked, unaware that Lana had suddenly snapped out of the little trance she was in. "No, Kevin, what Dr. Wright is talking about are the three Power Gloves. They are the only completely stable things in this universe. They power the Warp zones, the Ultimate warp zone, and even other lands. This entire palace, is being fed back to here from the other worlds a little at a time, uses that same power. The Power Gloves are what Mother Brain has been after all along." Lana said, and Dr. Wright nodded on the screen.

"The Power Gloves have three different uses, much like the Triforce within Hyrule. The first is the Power Glove of Strength. That one is the one that is used to power the other worlds. The second is the Power Glove of Wisdom. That one powers all of the Warp zones that link the worlds. The last is called the Power Glove of Courage. It has never been used. These Power Gloves are like the Triforce in yet another way as well, in that they are all inter-linked. They are merged into a single physical form, yet they could theoretically be separated... but it might destroy Videoland in the process." Dr. Wright said quietly, informing the N-Team of the usage of the dangerous Power Gloves. "However... the Power Gloves may also be the only way to save Videoland. In essence, it would be like... re-formatting the entire Videoland network at once. There is, however, a problem. Reformatting the whole Videoland would not only take time, but... it would also destroy anyone not wearing a Power Glove." This last comment left them all stunned.

Suddenly, a bright light flashed, as Kid Icarus began to fade away. "I'm leaving this world-icus." He said sadly, as he floated in the air, his wings no longer flapping softly. "Now that Mt. Olympus is gone-icus, I cannot survive-icus. Goodbye, everyone!" and so, the hero of Mt. Olympus, one time member of the N-Team: dematerialized and was gone. Lana began to cry, and Simon went to comfort her. Mega Man looked troubled, but he couldn't cry. He wasn't programmed to do so, as he had no tear ducts. Kid Icarus had been his best friend, after all. Kevin simply looked pained, but knew that something had to be done, or else all of Videoland would be destroyed. "Dr. Wright, you have got to tell us what to do! Megaland and Hyrule are soon going to be the last lands left!" he exclaimed, and Dr. Wright sighed noticeably.

"Alright then everyone, pull yourselves together. According to my instruments, the cloud now covers about 46% of all the worlds of Videoland. However, for some reason, Castlevania still exists. A small portion has been left uncovered, and is still there. According to my sensors, perhaps, just maybe, the cloud is reformatting the worlds it comes in contact with. If we use the Power Gloves now, we may still survive! Captain N, send Mega Man, Gameboy, and Duke to Megaland. You, Simon, and Princess Lana should take the Power Gloves, and begin the reformatting process. It will only reformat that which does not belong... so, hopefully, we in Mega Land will still be around to tell you if it worked or not." Dr. Wright said, and Mega Man nodded.

"Gameboy, Duke, go with Mega Man to Megaland. We'll see you in a little while, okay?" Kevin said, smiling softly to his three good friends. "We'll mega-see you soon, Captain N." Mega Man said, smiling as best he could and giving Kevin a thumbs-up as he walked to the warp, with Gameboy and Duke in tow. Soon, they were gone, as was the screen with Dr. Wright on it. Standing up slowly, Kevin turned to see Simon and Lana, and he smiled to them both weakly. "I guess that means that no matter what, we survive, guys. Now, let's save what is left of the kingdom." He said, after one last glance to the map. Metroid was gone, as was the world of Punch Out. Kevin sighed softly, and began to walk toward the Power room. Simon and Lana followed silently behind him.

After about 10 minutes, the three reached the Power room. After Lana input the code and retina scan, they all proceeded into the room. The doors shut behind them, and waiting before them were three physical representations of the Power Gloves. The glove on the right glowed a red color, the one in the middle, a blue color, and the one on the left glowed a yellow color. A voice from the blue glove spoke up, filling the air in the room ominously. "We are the three that are one. Like the Triforce, we Gloves create the ultimate power of this universe. Simply put our embodiments upon your hands. Princess Lana, step forth. You will claim the Power Glove of Wisdom."

Lana did as she was told, and drew the blue highlighted Power Glove from the small altar and into her hands solemnly, but not putting it on yet. The voice spoke once again. "You, of the kingdom of Castlevania and of the bloodline of Belmont, come forward, and claim the Power Glove of Strength." Simon did as was told as well, after a moment of wondering how much it would clash with his clothes and hair, and took the red highlighted Glove into his possession. "And now you, from another world, Kevin Keene, also known as Captain N and the Game Master. You will take possession of the Glove of Courage."

"Alright. Here goes!" Keene exclaims as he walks forward. The yellow highlighted glove, which he took from the altar, he put directly onto his hand, as he remembered how to from back home, several years ago. Lana and Simon, after watching what Kevin did, slid their gloves on as well, and the light given off by the gloves consumed all three of them. "Now, arrange yourselves in a position in which all three gloves point toward the altar. When you do this, all three of you must simply say this phrase at the same time: Reformat and Reconfigure! This will begin the process of saving your kingdom. Good luck." And then the voice left, leaving the three all alone in the room with the still golden glowing altar before them. Slowly, Kevin raised his arm up and toward the pedestal.

"Come on guys, this is our only chance now, to save Videoland." Kevin said, looking to the other two. Simon sighed lightly, and nodded. "I suppose you're right..." he drawled, and slowly pointed his own red hued glove at the pedestal. "For the inhabitants of Videoland, for our lost friend... for all who have been lost. Yes, we must do this." Lana said to herself quietly, and then she too raised glove to point at the altar. "Are we ready?" Kevin asked the two others, and he smiled lightly, seeing their responses as they both nodded confidently. Then, as one, all three chanted the three words that would save or destroy Videoland- "Reformat, and Reconfigure!"

A bright, shining light swept through the gloves, and their own bodies, and into the altar. Their bodies drained of all but the very least required to survive, the three remaining members of the N-team slumped to the floor unconscious and unaware of the effects of their combine effort created. A pulse of nearly pure energy (come on, part of the energy came from Simon, after all) swept through the entire universe known as Videoland. The cloud was completely obliterated. However, something wondrous happened when the energy that touched the cloud melded together. Videoland not only was reborn in most places, but was also upgraded. Many times upgraded.

*** In this time, many new worlds sprang to life- and in some cases, back to life. Some worlds, such as Mega Land, sprouted new versions of its lands. Others were brought back to life, such as Mt. Olympus. And a few were incorporated into this dimension from several seperate ones. Videoland had been restored, thanks to the work of new heroes of this day and age. And some of the old, as well. Mario and Luigi, Link and Zelda, Mega Man and his two newer versions- Mega Man X and Trigger. Samus Aran, the famed, but once lost, space hunter who was the heroine of Metroid, was found and continues the fight against Mother Brain. Punch Out returned, as did King Hippo. With the return of Mt. Olympus, Kid Icarus and the Eggplant Wizard, as well as the Medusa, returned as well.

In fact, many new faces, and some old, were created or re-created, as the case may be. Time passed in the real world, too. In fact, over 10 years passed, and the date soon became the year 2001. And then, finally, the remains of the Palace of Power were found by a number of Diggers- Explorers who were dedicated to reclaiming lands and worlds once lost to time by the Bit-Era Upgrades.

*** In the year 2001, the Palace of Power, the last of the ancient relics, was finally discovered. It took very little time once the Blue Bomber, as the original Mega Man had affectionately been nicknamed, managed to help restore power and even time to the ancient citadel. Though Videoland had been reformatted entirely, several times over, the palace had not changed at all. Until now, when Trigger, Mega Man X, Zelda, and Link, along with Kid Icarus managed to do it, with the help of Dr. Wright, who had gained a bit of a speech impediment (making him sound like a german), and Dr. Cain, the man who found Mega Man X in the second plane of MegaLand. Power was restored, and then the palace flashed, convulsed- and changed profoundly.

When the pixels had settled, the palace was restored, inside and out. A chunk of land spread out before it, restoring the world that the palace had sat upon before the reformation. It was a small world, true, but it was also the ancient headquarters of Videoland itself. Finally, the doors activated- no longer the 2-dimensionals that they once were, but fully in 3D. Mega Man and Dr. Wright, each having been here before, led the rest of the group through the rooms. Kid Icarus flew to the Command room and attempted to activate the palace defenses. Unfortunately, they were never designed to work 3-dimensionally, and were rather useless at this point, so he flew quickly back to report to the others as they made their way down the hallway.

After leading them down into the very bowels of the complex, Dr. Wright opened the last door with the appropriate keycode. And then, finally, the bright light that filled the chamber spilled out, revealing the Altar of the Power Gloves. As well as the three bodies, in stasis, that were laying on the floor surrounding it. Each of the three wore a power glove upon his or her right hand, and each glove glowed feebly, as if running out of battery power. There was the sound of only one person breathing- as video characters, neither Lana nor Simon had needed breath, but Captain N, as a person from the real world, did. And so it was that Trigger, along with Mega Man, helped carry Captain N. Zelda and Link both carried Lana, leaving Mega Man X to deal with the weight of the man known as Simon Belmont. The Power Gloves, however, simply would not come off of their hands.

Then, a voice spoke, and Captain N, who had seemed asleep, but was actually quite awake and alert, though paralyzed still from the discharge of energy that the Power Gloves had given him, and the sounds of that voice came to his ears. "Welcome, you three, to the new Video Land. There have been many changes, and we still have need of the N-Team. However, perhaps the V-Team would be more accurate, for you shall see why, very soon." and with that small speech done, the explorers turned back down toward the elevator that would lead them up in the tower and back to the portal from whence they came.

As Kevin was being carried, his eyes opened at the sound of people- many people. They were busy adding new technology to the palace, but all he could tell was that they seemed to be fixing up the place. But then, he noticed that everyone was... more real than ever. Finally, worn out after such a long time, his eyes closed and he finally slept.

*Part 2: The Beginnings of a V-Team*
It took only a week of intense therapy (both video and physical) to bring the three remnants of the N-Team back up to speed. Princess Lana now ruled the Palace of Power, but the balance of Power had shifted in the past 10 years- several times. Simon was allowed to go back to his home of Castlevania, where he parted ways with the rest of the team for a time. And Captain N learned that he had been gone from his world for almost 12 years now... 2 years as the leader of the N-Team, and then another 10 during their comatose state. Dr. Wright informed them all of the newest changes, as well as a brief run-down of the latest history of Videoland.

"Let me see if I got this right, Doc." Kevin says, interrupting Dr. Wright in the middle of his latest lecture. The Doc's new accent sure is making it hard to understand, he thought, as he ran through the facts verbally. "10 years have passed since the time of the N-Team. In that time, worlds have come to life, lived, and died out. Sega and Sony- the walkman making company? Their universes are part of Video Land now?! And, not only that... some worlds have been reborn?" he finally says, after a moment of checking up. Dr. Wright simply nods in agreement before speaking again. "That's correct, Captain N. If you don't believe me..." he trails off, a wide grin showing, even underneath the white beard he wore. "Gameboy! Come in, please!" he yelled, and after a moment, a large Gameboy Advance floated into the laboratory room in which Wright had set up the power sources needed to help restore Lana, Captain N, and Simon. In fact, Lana was back at the Palace of Power now, taking lessons from Kid Icarus and Mega Man.

Kevin's jaw fell, and his mouth opened at the sight of the new Gameboy. It was horizontally long instead of tall, he saw, with two buttons on its 'shoulders' and two in the classic areas of where the original Gameboy's buttons were. There were two smaller buttons, but they didn't seem to have any relevance- especially when compared to the COLOR screen that showed Gameboy's face. "It has been a long time, Captain N. Welcome back." the voice went. Gone was the ancient computer monologue that once had been Gameboy's trademark speech program. Instead, it had a light baritone voice, and it was... it was almost natural.

"Well, uh... Hi, Gameboy." Kevin stammered, finally collecting himself. Then, surprisingly, Dr. Wright and Gameboy started chuckling. That in itself was strange. "What's so funny?" Kevin Keene demanded, looking to Dr. Wright. "Oh, nothing much, Captain N. But, if you think Gameboy has changed, just wait until you see the map of Videoland! It's got 3-dimensions... and in some places, more than that." Dr. Wright said, his laughter dwindling down into a knowing smile. Kevin just fell back against the bed and sighed before whispering to himself. "This is gonna be a loooong day."


Meanwhile, at the Palace of Power...

"I see. So, Father has never been rescued?" Lana asked, to which Kid Icarus and Mega Man shook their heads. "No, your highness-icus. Though I and Mega Man tried-icus, we could not shatter the barrier between this world-icus and the Mirror World-icus." Kid replied sadly. Lana almost managed to smile, hearing Kid's speech impediment again. Last time she had seen him, she had thought he was dead, dematerialized into nothingness.

"We even tried, your highness, asking several of the newest of the videoland heroes to help. There are a few who have not been able to try yet, however, but there are certainly those that show promise. They are, however... from distant realms." Mega Man said. His speech impediment was now gone forever, thanks to an upgraded voice box from the last time that Dr. Wright had worked on the bio-roid. And his voice was no longer badly garbled and no longer sounded like a frog's voice. No, he sounded much more like a teenager whose voice was beginning to change- almost like a girl's voice, Lana thought.

"Oh..." Lana's voice was distant, as he looked out the nearest window. She, Mega Man, and Kid Icarus were in the throne room, but near the wall, not the dusty old throne, which had seated none since 10 years before. The window pointed directly at where the old land of Metroid was. Fortunately, according to Kid Icarus and Mega Man, Lana knew that Mother Brain was a bit busy dealing with the rebelious Samus Aran on her world. Mother Brain had tried to bring together a force, using King Hippo, the Eggplant Wizard, Dr. Wily, and various other minions not too long ago, to try and storm the Mushroom Kingdom. All were stopped cold by a combination of Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, Toad, and the Koopas. The Koopas had finally given up their claim to the Mushroom Kingdom, after diplomatic relations were finally reached. An uneasy truce stood between the two factions, though the rumors of Wario and Waluigi were amassing their wealth and treasures to attack their rivals were travelling quickly.

With a sigh, she left the window sill and looked to the table with the papers concerning the newest suggestions for the N-Team to be considered. Kid Icarus had informed her that there was no way he could leave Mt. Olympus to be part of the N-Team again. There was too much to do in order to keep the world safe- There were no other heroes in that world, and between the Eggplant Wizard and other evil forces, he could barely leave the world for a few days at a time. In fact, the flying being known as Pit, or better known as Kid Icarus, flew away, down a corridor to the warp room, and with the solid 'thunk' sound that followed, flew into the blue portal that was a Warp portal that led to his world.

And so it was that only Mega Man and the Princess Lana were left to wade through the many papers of time and space, of the heroes Lana had never heard of before, and to decide which ones would be good additions to the N-Team. There was already herself and Captain N. Duke was still alive, but at 15 years of age for a dog, was really too old to be an active member of the team. In fact, it was only Dr. Wright and Roll's care for the dog that sustained it much, and it was Rush who managed to keep Duke in shape by going for walks with the real dog whenever they wanted. Mega Man was needed to deal with Dr. Wily and Bass- his rival on Mega Land. And so, he was out as well. Simon could have come back, but Lana knew better than to ask him to come back. He was probably staring at a mirror or on a talk show or something by now, trying to rekindle his fame as quickly as possible.

The papers were in no real order, and scattered about the table. Pulling up a chair, she and Mega Man perused them slowly.


"Ah, that's better!" Captain N's voice rang out from the target room, where holographic images of robot masters- only of which a quarter he had ever seen before, the rest of robot masters that Mega Man had fought after the end of the N-Team's superiority had taken place. The zapper fired quietly, again and again, hitting Captain N's target with only one or two tries. He adjusted well to the third dimension, Dr. Wright commented to himself, as the computers continued to tally the accuracy and score that Captain N was generating.

Wright had even thrown in a few bugs in the hologram- innocent bystanders, a police vehicle, that sort of thing. Even Mega Man, Roll, and Blues were in there, and Captain N knew not to fire at them, whenever they appeared. There was no real live fire from the holograms, but in that room, the Robot Masters fired away at Captain N with their weapons, though some things obviously weren't the same- Needle Man didn't try to launch itself at Captain N head-first, Flash Man didn't stop time, and Gravity Man wasn't able to reverse the flow of gravity in the room. But Snake Man did fire his Search Snake, Top Man threw his tops, Crystal Man launched its crystal cannon, and Trash Man used its own garbage as a shield against Captain N's shots. Dr. Wright had to laugh at the last one- funny, hadn't he created that one first, to help the N-Team when Mega Man, Captain N, and Lana had to fight through the very first batch of Robot Masters to reach Dr. Wily, to destroy the 3 golden treasures that had been taken from Mt. Olympus?

With a glance at the newest circuitry designs, Wright pulled himself away from the screen that showed Keene's ever climbing score. He was almost passing up Mega Man's score already! Soon he may even be able to compete with Mega Man X and his partner, Zero. The Reploids were even better than Mega Man had been- stronger, more durable, fully intelligent and nearly human- the Warpzone of Life had, unexplicably, shut down after Dr. Wright studied its properties, sometime after Mega Man had been turned into a living being. With a grin, Dr. Wright continued his work upon upgrading the Zapper and Power Pad- well, a more powerful version of each, anyway. He may as well put the original pair in his own small museum. They would not be able to help Captain N fast enough anyway, not in this day and age. Indeed, the zapper was worn down, as was the Power Pad, with age. The Zapper was not nearly as powerful as it once was, nor as fast in firing. That last was most obvious, as Captain N had brought it to Wright's attention. With a little fixing, it was working better... but still, not quite up to par.

The new Zapper was a light design, weighing only as much as the original Zapper did. It incorporated, however, the new blaster technology that Mega Man X had- the Blaster mk.19. It had a single extra charge capacitor, enabling, with only a moment's worth of time, to charge up the blast that would escape the zapper, much like Mega Man X's cannon did. To do this, however, the Zapper had to be set to the automatic charge, instead of single shot or safety. The new power pad was quite like the original, but was a bit more rounded, with two shoulder buttons, a pause button, a directional pad, and four buttons that would enable Captain N to activate certain abilities on different worlds. The power indicator was set in between the shoulder buttons, and glowed a quiet red color from one end to the other. It's charge was completely full. The shell of the Power Pad was a light gray color, much like the outline of the original Power Pad's coloring had been.

Dr. Wright had been working on these for years, and had yet to perfect the new Zapper. The Power Pad, however, was quite finished- had been for a few months, in fact, and tested by Roll and Mega Man. The old man smiled, closing his eyes a moment as he remembered what he had done with The Capsule. It was buried in the remains of his old New York laboratory, along with some of his notes. Ever since the arrival ofthe second plane of Megaland above Megaland, Dr. Wright had constructed Mega Man X. It was almost a paradox, a loop that reached from his time to a future time, and then back to his time, to encourage him to finish it. There was another rumor that Wily had managed to construct his own android, like X was, but Mega Man, Roll, Rush, Beat, Tango, nor Eddie had been able to confirm this- and neither could Dr. Wright. If he had, however... it was why Dr. Wright had his lab on full alert at all hours of the day and night. It was all too likely that Wily had escaped from jail- again. Or maybe an automoton, like Doc Man, for instance, was creating the new robot/android as per its programming. The rumors had increased in frequency lately, and Dr. Wright was quite afraid. Android technology was very powerful stuff, after all. Much more powerful than robot technology, no matter its sophistication.

"Hey, Dr. Wright! That's an awesome system you've got there, I'll be sure to come by more often these days!" Kevin exclaimed, walking into the lab from the target range. He seemed to be missing one of his shields that he wore into other worlds- worlds where you could take a number of hits, perhaps, before losing that chance to win the game. When that happened, the shield was gone, and the person had to start over from some point in the world, with or without another shield to use. Dr. Wright looked the young man over and sighed- amazing, he thought. 10 years in stasis and he hadn't aged a day until the machines brought him out of it. Dr. Wright always felt like an old man these days- perhaps retirement wasn't far off. Then he saw the accuracy and score. "Well, it looks like you haven't lost your touch, Captain N! 98% accuracy, 831,700 points! You even managed to outdo Mega Man!" Wright exclaimed, smiling a bit, almost straining to do so.

Kevin seemed to notice this, and he grinned a little bit as he saw over the short Doctor's shoulder. "Oh, and what have we here? New game gear?" he asks, grinning slightly at the pun. He remembered that black box that Sega had produced only a week or two before he had been pulled into Video Land- or at least, remembered about it from the magazines he had read. Dr. Wright nodded. "Yes indeed. The Zapper is not quite finished yet, but the new Power Pad is. I will let you know when they are- you'll need them to replace your old Zapper and Power Pad, m'boy." he responded, smiling a little. Oh, Captain N still had some readjusting to do, especially when it came to the new video game worlds. But still, all-in-all, the boy was doing remarkably fine.


"No... no... no..." the voice of the Princess Lana bounced throughout the nearly empty throne room. A small pile of papers were on the floor, fortunately not thoughtlessly scattered about. Oh, she had found a few that seemed like they could really offer something to the group. This 'Terra' from the world of Final Fantasy, on the sixth plane, had some potential. As did this Digger from the third plane of MegaLand. What was his name again... Trigger? "Mega Man, this could take forever... maybe you should invite Sonic from Mobius, Trigger from MegaLand, Terra from Final Fantasy. They should be a good start, I think." Lana declared, smiling a little. They were less than halfway through the papers that were on the table already.

Mega Man gave her a nod and slipped from the table, where he had been standing up. She hadn't noticed before that he had been given several upgrades- he was at least 5ft. tall now, somewhere around twice as tall as once he had been! "Of course, your highness!" and he was off to do her bidding. With a sigh, Lana turned back to the lists and began checking through the remaining papers to see what could be done with the other candidates. A team of... seven or eight members total, she thought. That could be the best bet.

*Part 3: The Interview Process*
The next day, Kevin and Lana were sitting at the long table in the throne room of the Palace of Power. The Power Gloves sat on the table as well, including the third that Simon had worn. It had been rather easy to convince the vain man to relinquish the glove- without a matching 'mate', it was rather pointless. Especially now that the power that they emanated was not nearly enough in this day and age to power the three universes that now comprised VideoLand. And so they sat, motionless, without much power, upon the table in front of royalty and the teenager of gaming.

"Well Lana, I still think the old N-Team can handle anything that comes up. Right?" Kevin commented, leaning back into his chair while twirling the Zapper in his hand idly. The zapper was wearing down again, and later Dr. Wright was to borrow it to finish with the new one. The Zapper's light energy derived directly from the fabric of Videoland itself- it was not purely laser energy, nor a plasma cannon nor some sort of slug-throwing projectile weapon. The reason it was a deadly weapon was that it was able to be used on any world with lethal consequences for the target. The target was not real- it was made up of bits and pieces of data. Everyone in Videoland, other than Captain N, that is, knew this to be true. It was the only logical explanation as to the different planes that dealt with the certain worlds, such as Final Fantasy or Megaland, after all. The Zapper uses the data-code of the world that it is on, and turns it into a bean of coherent light that affects the target in such a way as to make it dematerialize.

At least, that was what stumped Dr. Wright, from what Kevin could tell. He wasn't used to making a 'Universal' blaster. It was why the plasma cannons that the three Mega Man characters were so much easier to do- they were quite powerful and much easier to construct, though they might not be so powerful on other worlds. Lana knew this to be true as well- she had heard the legends of the Zapper, and the Power Pad before. "Perhaps, but our old friends are all too busy on their own worlds, fighting the enemies there to take the time to help us much. Maybe Mega Man could, since his brother," and Lana smiled a little, remembering the short meeting she had had with Mega Man and Blues. "Since his brother is quite capable of handling them as well. Still, he does have a rival now... Bass, I think Mega Man called him." she finished, and Kevin nodded. Kid Icarus was out, Simon had talk shows, book signings, and Dracula sightings booking his schedule for the next several months. Mega Man (there were three of 'em now? Kevin could hardly believe it!) was busy dealing with Wily still, Duke was too old, Gameboy had been relegated to a non-Team Member status, what with its being experimental and all.

"Yeah... so you have three people on the list for today then? Who are they again?" Kevin asked, looking over to the three papers that were spread out before them on the table. Lana picked up the first one easily enough, and began to read off the paper. "Our first interview is with a person named Sonic. He is the main hero from the world of Mobius, and right now there are many heroes on that world, so they can spare him. Sonic is a blue... hedgehog that," and she was interrupted as Kevin spoke up for her. "Sonic the hedgehog can run extremely fast, almost the speed of light, and has been fighting a villain called Dr. Robotnik. I remember playing the game a long time ago, before I got pulled here." he said, to which Lana simply nodded.

"That's right. Sonic the Hedgehog has saved his world over half a dozen times from Robotnik and various forces. On his world, the Chaos Emeralds provide ultimate power- as long as they are gathered into one place, that is." Lana continued, and then smiled a little. "He's a sarcastic mammal, too. He also has a fixation for speed- he can't stand people who are slower than he is, though he's not really the most intelligent of heroes. He can also use shields that can be powered up by rings on his world, which allow him to take a hit without losing the shield completely. That's about it for him." and Lana sets the paper down and picks up the next one. "The next one is Terra. She is a Half-Esper from the sixth plane of Final Fantasy. She was one of the main heroes of the world, known for defeating the powerful, and evil, Kefka. She can transform into a full Esper form for a short period of time, during which time her attacks become even more powerful. She can also use magic in any form, and is quite strong."

Kevin had never even heard of this character, or game, before. With a start, he realized that it had come out while he was in stasis in the palace during the past 10 years or so. "I see. Sounds like her powers could come in handy, but I think I will need a demonstration. Who's the next one?" and he picked up the third paper himself. "What the... another Mega Man?" he cried, setting the paper down on the table in surprise. Lana just grinned. "That's right Kevin! Just call this one Trigger- he seems to be a... cyborg." she said slowly, somehow saying the strange word correctly. "He is not exactly like our old friend, since he seems to be partly human. He emits his own energy shield, which draws on power from his internal systems. He has a buster cannon, like Mega Man's old one, which can be powered up when certain systems are added to it. He can use different kinds of armor and wear different kind of boots, such as Jet Skates and High -powered Jump Springs. I guess that means he's kind of a cross between you and Mega Man!"

They both laughed a bit at that, and Kevin just grinned as he looked at the pictures, which showed the three in question in various poses. Sonic standing next to some two-tailed fox, Mega Man... no, Trigger, he reminded himself, was standing on top of what looked to be a ship of some sort, and then Terra in another picture, which was split in half, showing her standing against the mast of an Airship (the Falcon, it read behind her), green hair flowing in the wind. Of course, that was the picture that was shown when she was in human form. The one in Esper form showed her again, though she was completely white and glowing- and she seemed to be nude, but then again, she didn't seem to be human either, showing very few characteristics of her humanity in this form.

Then Kevin glanced at the other stack. "Well, they can't be all you had in mind... Who else do you suggest, your highness?" he asks, smiling slowly. It was not often he referred to her by her title, but this was, after all, a business affair. Lana smiled gratefully to him as a result- she certainly liked him, but this definitely was business. "Well... there's a world called Tyrsis that has four planes. I was thinking of Nina, from the second plane, or perhaps the hero called Ryu from that plane as well. Both managed to survive and seal a very powerful demon there in their time. There's also someone named Ash, from a world and plane called Earth, that I would like to at least interview. Information from the newest worlds and planes, such as that one, is hard to come by. Let's see..." and Lana flipped through a few more papers slowly. "Hmm... Mario from the Mushroom Kingdom, Link from Hyrule, perhaps... Maybe a hero or two from the Algo System, too." and she pulled out the requisite papers, detailing each hero as she either said their name or, in the case of the last one, came up with the suggestion. "They are, I think, our best chances for a balanced team, though we may need to try them out first."

Kevin just smiled, hearing Link's name. "Isn't Link a bit busy now though, what with Gannon back all over again?" he asked. He and Link didn't quite get along, the last time they had met during the Potion of Power incident. Link, Zelda, and Kevin barely managed to get by on their own, despite Gameboy's attempts at helping. Lana just shook her head in response. "Not at all, actually. Gannon's been defeated, Agahnim is gone as well. And that meteor that Zelda spoke to me about was never any problem to begin with, thanks to Link's handiwork. So, according to Zelda, he's free to join the team, if he wants. Though, I don't know about Mario... he seems a bit, well..." and she trailed off, not knowing the word to put what he seemed to be in.

Kevin, however, had a clue. "Mario's a show-off. He likes to be in the spotlight, and has even forced his brother, Luigi, into second place or lower. Plus, with their accents, how would we ever understand the man? I think Luigi would be a better choice." and he grinned. He'd always felt sorry for the tall, bean-pole thin plumber man, especially after all the games Mario had starred in. Luigi hadn't even been around in one of the latest ones, from what he'd seen from Dr. Wright's video notes, though he had been forced to go into a mansion to deal with ghosts, much like that movie 'Ghostbusters' he'd seen, so long ago. Lana nodded in agreement, and sighed. "I don't have a paper for Luigi, unfortunately. Princess Toadstool only sent me a paper for Mario, and another paper detailing their latest problems there. We'll have to send him a letter, I guess, and that'll take time unless we go there in person. Let's wait until after the first interview though."

They both nodded at the same time, even as the sky outside darkened slowly. Thunderstorms covered the sky, but ended up surrounding the entire plane that the Palace of Power was on. Suddenly, a group of shadows appeared in the throne room, at the far end of the table that Captain N and Lana were at. Both of them jumped up and stepped back- Kevin pulled out the Zapper and Lana bit back a scream as one of the beings laughed- and it was eerily familiar, too.

"Well, well, well... if it isn't Princess Lana and the so-called Captain N! We meet again!" the gravel-like voice went, emitting from a tall, broad shadow that stood at the forefront of the group. There was another shadow, draped in what seemed like a cloak, that towered over the first shadow's form. A much smaller one, slightly shorter than the first shadow, gleamed with two red eyes from the darkness at the two N-Team members. Off on the speaker's other side, an even shorter being stood, watching them relentlessly, as though that shadow may have had a bone to pick with the two humans. Another laughed- it was a dark, evil laugh, maniacal and at the same time making Lana and Captain N laugh as well. And behind was the largest shadow yet, covered with spikes of all sorts, the front of the giant shadow falling behind the speaker's shadow. Another shadow, more human sized, was standing on top of the giant's shadow, holding onto one of the spikes. Floating nearby was a tall, seemingly human person as well, a dark cape of some sort flittering behind it as it stood in the air, legs together and arms crossed over the chest. And finally, in the air above all the other shadows was a darkness so complete that it seemed that it seemed as if the shadows were actual forms of light against it. Then, the first shadow spoke again.

"We are the Council of Darkness. Videoland shall be ours, and is ours for the taking. If any should try to resist... Well, need I go on?" the tone asked before he began to laguh. Then they all disappeared, just as suddenly as they had arrived, leaving Lana and Kevin staring at the place in which the shadows had departed. The sky outside lightened as sunlight managed to invade past the clouds again. Keene just holstered the Zapper again and sighed softly. "A Game Master's work is never done, is it? If it's not Mother Brain, it's someone else... or a group of someones. Looks like we better get this team together soon, Lana!"

A few hours later...

"Well now, here we are, Captain N. Your new Zapper and Power Pad." Dr. Wright said, holding up the newly designed versions, the belt, and the zapper holster that went with them as he stepped over to the taller teenager. Kevin gave the doctor a nod, taking and sliding the belt on after taking the old one off. With the belt in place, the new Power Pad and Zapper went in place as well, though the Zapper remained there for only a few more seconds, as Captain N drew and holstered, drew and holstered, and continued the routine to get the feel for the new weapon and the belt itself. Finally, he pressed the left button on the directional pad of the Power Pad, and he slid to the right immediately by about 10ft- and would have gone further if he hadn't depressed the pad before slamming into the lab wall. Lana and Dr. Wright looked over at Kevin in surprise, before chuckling a little at his mistake. Then, with a press of the D-pad to the right, he slid about 30ft before coming to rest in front of a chair. Taking a look up, he was saddened to see that there was a ceiling right there, so pressing up would be about as useful as pressing down on the D-Pad.

"Captain N, pressing the 'L' and 'R' buttons will enable you to choose the kind of power you wish to use. It will be useful in allowing you to use different weapon energy, like Mega Man can. To use a weapon energy like Mega Man can, by absorbing the ability, simply press this button." and Dr. Wright walked over to the teenager, and pointed to the button that was marked 'X'. "The Power Pad can only keep copies of up to 12 different weapon energy inside of it, so if you wish to discard one for another, select the power using the 'L' or 'R' button, and then press this button." and the Doc pointed to the 'Y' button. Mega Man and Roll were watching from their recharge pods, not really active at the moment- even bioroids like them needed sleep once in a while. Dr. Wright, oblivious to Lana as she walked up to the two, continued with the instructions... too bad Kevin Keene could barely understand the man. "The 'A' Button let you charge forward instead of to the sides like you are used to, and the 'B' button will allow you to move backwards. The 'Start' button will let you 'Pause' like you usually can, but as usual, the 'Pause' feature will only last for about 5 to 7 seconds, depending on the world you are on. The rest, of course, you know."

Kevin nodded, his mind running quickly to continue trying to understand what the good doctor was attempting to tell him. That stupid accent was ruining what would otherwise normally be a good instruction session, he feared, even as he looked to Lana and grinned. She was just openly giggling- the german accent of the good doctor really was funny to listen to. Almost as funny as Mega Man's voice nowadays. But then Kevin thought of the 'Council of Darkness' that had let itself be known to both himself and the Princess, and his hand unconsciously gripped the zapper. He was oblivious to Dr. Wright's voice as he went on and on about the difficulties he'd had with the zapper, and then the explanation of how best to use it and its new ability. With his fingers tightening around the Zapper, Kevin forced himself to relax, knowing that this would not do any good. He had no idea where to even begin looking for them, but one thing was for certain- the Palace of Power had to be protected again, by whatever means necessary. And so, for that matter, did the Princess who presided within it.

"Doc, how long will it take for the Palace of Power's security system be back online?" he asked, interrupting the tail end of Dr. Wright's speech. A white brow lifted on the short old man's face, as the creator of Mega Man and Mega Man X realized that Captain N hadn't been listening to everything. "Another two days, I think. My robots, the reploids, and others from around Videoland are working around the clock to integrate everything correctly again, Captain N. But, now, back to what I was saying..."

Kevin and Lana both sighed, taking a seat on the couch as Dr. Wright began explaining, once again, the features and abilities of the Power Pad and Zapper that he had created. Mega Man and Roll closed their eyes and just slept. Yes indeed, the german accent was funny, but it also managed to put everyone in the lab, except Dr. Wright himself, to sleep.