"Is that HIM!?"
Robert blinked his eyes. Laying in a disheveled mess in front of a broken old Zenith was his longtime best friend and ally in gaming, Max Walker, who not too long ago was also known as CAPTAIN N: THE GAME MASTER... ...except that his title had been stripped, he was a long, long way from Gaia, and the inhabitants of that planet presumed him to be dead.
...except his chest was slowly rising and falling.
"Thank god...", Robert spoke, holding Max's head in his arms. "He's still alive. I don't see any major bruises or anything... he's clearly been through a hell of a lot though... Ms. Walker, he smells!!
...you do something with him!!!"
THE NEW CAPTAIN N
VOLUME VII: THIS IS NOT MY HOME
Trapped in his own body, Max clawed his way up to the top. It was like fighting against being eaten, as light grew closer and closer. Was this the light everyone talked about when death is upon them? No, it couldn't be... It'd be far to easy for Max to *avoid* this light. He was actually fighting and resisting just to reach it! But... it was working... without looking back, Max struggled to reach the top... to awaken... and there... suddenly... the voices became clarvoyent, he could understand what they were saying!! Someone was calling his name!!
Max was there.
His eyes open, Max looked around, realizing he was never crawling up his own throat. It was some creative half-dream, which had long since faded away...
...but this strange place wasn't. Where was he!? Who were these pe-
"M.. Mom? Robert?" Max blinked, confused. "How the hell'd I get here?"
Mom wrapped her arms around Max, sobbing tears into his shoulder. "W...w-while you were gone, Max... a lot of things happened... an-and I was so worried, I thought I'd never see my little boy again... you're all I have left..."
Max thought that an odd thing to say, but held his mother in return. The fact of the matter is, he'd barely spoken to her before returning with Radd to Gaia, and it was one of many things that were less than admirable about him, alongside the fact that he still hadn't brought peace to Bowser, Iggy, and Cyndi, and that, regardless of the fact that it was retroactively wiped from continuity, he had killed Solid Snake for pissing him off. He was the only person who remembered anything of those events, too...
"Max..." Robert sighed, arms crossed. "Do you have any idea how much shit you're in!?"
Max raised an eyebrow. "Wait... Robert!? Yes, I'm alive... long story. Didn't Radd tell you or something?"
Robert stared at Max, dumbfounded. "What the hell are you talking about, Max!? You've been missing for TWO WHOLE YEARS."
Max's heart suddenly skipped a beat. "...you... have no idea who Radd is, do you?"
"One of your buddies from your disappearing act?"
Max paused for a moment. Robert knew him, his mom was crying over his shoulder... Radd doesn't exist... his father was nowhere around... he was missing for... "...you gotta be kiddin me...", he thought out loud, as he began to process two and two together and make four.
"This isn't other Earth... THIS IS MY EARTH!!!
Robert stared at Max's mother. "Ya think someone kidnapped him and drugged him up?"
Max suddenly realized nobody had any clue what he was talking about. "Uh... Mom!! Robert!!! Oh my god, oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god!!!!
Robert, cynically, waved a hand back to Max, with a big grin on his face. "What!?
"Oh my god, Robert..." Max spoke, enthusiastically jumping out of bed. "Okay okay okay... you, are not, gonna BELIEVE where I have been!!
Holy shit man, you are gonna be so jealous!! Just wait'll I show it to you!!"
"MAX JUST TELL US!!!"
Max paused for a moment following the scream. Then nodded.
"Right uh... okay okay, Robert!! Remember that TV we got from that one woman with the son?"
Robert nodded his head. "This has something to do with it doesn't it?"
Max nodded, like Robert just got the million dollar question correct. "Remember how she said it took her son?"
Robert groaned and rolled his eyes. "Oh god not this again..."
"BUT ITS TRUE!!"
"Max," his mother inquired, "What are you talking about?"
"He's talking about that TV again. right before he disappeared, he told me it was some sort of mystic portal. I mean hey after 2 years I gotta wonder myself, but I didn't think you'd actually tell me it was the TV, Max..."
"Max, what happened? You can tell me I'm your mother..."
Max sighed, already aware of how irredeemably bizarre this was going to sound. "Alright. This, I remember as lucidly as the day we went biking down that steep hill at the end of your street and ended up losing your two baby teeth."
"I was eight when that happened.."
"You know what I mean. ANYWAYS... Yes, me and Robert, paranoid after hearing what happened to Ms. Keene, began discussing escape plans. I told Robert about the night before, when I discovered a portal in the television we got off her, suggesting it as a means of escape from cops or the mafia or whatever."
"I was pretty disappointed with his idea by the way."
"Yeah, yeah you were... and I said some things to you that I shouldn't have... I don't even know why I said them anymore, I guess I was just... ... ...I don't know. Point is, Robert left, and I went ahead with my plan, till I heard Robert scream for me to run, so I did the thing, made the portal appear, and then I destroyed the controls for it so nobody could follow after me..."
Robert got up, furious. "IS *THAT* WHY YOU BROKE THE DAMN THING!? CAUSE YOU THOUGHT PEOPLE WERE FOLLOWING AFTER YOU!?"
Max groaned. "Oh please, like you were in control yourself..."
"Well", Robert grumbled, "For your information, it was the police. They just wanted to ask us about our encounter with Madeline."
Robert rolled his eyes. "They didn't even mention us as suspects. I told them what happened, then a few days later I get an email from the detective. They performed an autopsy and found traces of laundry bleach on her tongue..."
Max sighed. "...She took her own life. That poor woman, never knowing that her son was alive..."
"Oh, was he?"
Max nodded. "Robert, I met him!!! He was like their champion!! Their hero!!! But... he went missing, so they made ME the new hero in his place!!"
Robert shook his head. "Who, exactly?"
Max grinned. "Who indeed. Alright, I know you guys are REALLY gonna think I was on drugs after this, but you have gotta believe me on it. I go in there, and- and I swear to god I'm not making this up - I meet the Mario Brothers."
Robert scratched his head. "THE Mario Brothers?"
"How many Mario Brothers do you know, Robert? YES the Mario Brothers!!! I was there in the MUSHROOM KINGDOM!!! Holy shit, it was amazing!! You'd never see it like this in the games!! It was gorgeous there!! OH!! OH!! and it wasn't just the Mushroom Kingdom. There was a WHOLE PLANET with the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, Animal Crossing, Final Fantasy... you name it!! If it looks like Earth but in a place you've never heard of, it was probably here!!"
"So...", Max's mom started, "What, you ran around going to castles and saving princesses?"
"hahahaha, not exactly..." Max laughed. "Believe me, I have no idea how it was real either... BUT IT WAS!! And there was a different Earth, where things like Duke Nukem and CastleVania and Contra and Perfect Dark all took place, and apparently I had died instead of Robby. Robby went on and became really successful with Nintendo, but he was really mean and rude to you guys... ...and a manipulative prick to me..."
"Heh, alright..." Robert laughed. "So how'd you get back here?"
"Huh..." Max tried to remember. "Well... me and Samus Aran, from Metroid, were trying to stop Ridley from this really big attack that would have completely taken over Gaia... and maybe more... I ended up killing him for good with some sort of disintegrator bomb, but... as I was leaving... ....no... the bomb didn't get me... but there was something else... something pulled me out of the way just in time..."
"Lemme guess. You woke up here.", Robert flatly guessed.
"Hey," Max pointed, "If you don't believe me, just fix up that TV and see for yourself! I'd even introduce you to everyone."
Robert sweated a little. He didn't know how to respond to that. "Well... I... There's some hard to get parts... I uh... I'd have to special order them. From Japan, you know..."
Max grinned smugly, shooting through a lie. "You've had two years to do it."
"Yeah, well..." Robert stumbled... "Maybe I uh... Maybe I don't... want.. to take the chance..."
"AHA!! SO YOU DO BELIEVE ME!"
"What!?" Robert remarked, "That videogame land is a real place? How would I have known that didn't lead straight to Hell or something?"
"Well, now ya know!!" Max smiled. "Look, I know you're gonna think I need therapy or something, but IT WAS GREAT. Oh my god, Robert, you would have loved it! I can't wait till you get it fixed up so I.. er... you can come too of course... but uh... yeah..."
Robert shook his head. "Well, I'll tell you what. I got a replacement screen for it, you kinda broke the old one. I never put it on though, cause I just didn't wanna go near the thing. However..."
"What? What's wrong?"
Robert sighed. "There's a lot of parts and gears inside that thing. Some of them looked familiar, and some of them I've never seen before in my life. Ever. I'm of the strong belief that this thing originated... somewhere else..."
Max's heart began to sink as he feared the worst. "...c..can you... do it?"
Robert breathed deeply, nervously chuckling. "Heh... well Max... ...I could. Thankfully all you really banged up were the screen and the controls. Everything else is okay."
"Oh thank god...."
"But a very sensitive diode was right along the faultline when that circuitboard snapped. That's the part I'd need to special order..."
Max, frantically, grabbed Robert by the face. "THEN DO IT!!!! DO IT DO IT DO IT!!! YOU'VE GOTTA GO THERE!!!! ....I'VE GOTTA GET BACK THERE!!! Oh my god, Everyone's gonna freak when they see me!! Link, Mario, and especially.. ...yeah..."
"What? What's up?"
Max looked at his feet. "Oh. Well... me and Samus, we... hehe... really.. really good friends. Hahahaha... ...oh god I hope she's alright..."
Robert studied Max's expression. If one thing was genuinely paining him, this was it. He didn't just miss the place... he missed the girl. He didn't care what Robert or Mom thought of his story, he just wanted to get back, while putting their minds at ease...
Max sat down, grinning. "Yeah? What's up?"
Robert grinned, excitedly "...didja see Megaman?"