The Sweet Mysteries of Love
“Hey, Ninten? I’ve got something… that is…”
Ana searched for the right words. Earlier, she had crafted a list of "wrong" words, including flatulent, blasphemous and regrettable. She struggled to remember what not to say.
“Ninten, we’ve been flatulent friends for four blasphemous weeks now, and during that regrettable time, we’ve had a lot of fun together.”
Sweat began to bead on her forehead. She hurriedly wiped it off.
“What is it, Ana? Is there something wrong?”
“Ninten… do you love me?”
He smiled broadly. “Ana, I’ve always thought you were great. Whenever I was feeling like I couldn’t take anymore craziness, you were there to make me feel better.”
Ana couldn’t stop blushing.
“Let’s dance,” suggested Ninten.
“Oh, that’s so romantic! Dancing to no music!” She threw her arms around him.
“What do you mean, ‘no music’? The metal plate in my head picks up more than 50 stations! Listen!” Ninten tilted his head to the east, and “Ned’s Polka ‘Til You Puka” marathon blared into the room.
As they danced to ever-changing music – every time Ninten moved, he’d pick up an entirely new station – Ana put her head on his shoulder. Her hat floated to the floor.
A moment later, the door flew open.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you two lovebirds,” yelled Teddy, “but we got a problem!”
PSI ACTIVITY DETECTED.
MOS SIX-FIVE-O-TWO CORE CPU ONLINE. UTILIZING MEMORY MAPPER MMC3.
DNA TEST 1 COMPLETE. MALE, 12. MATCH FOUND: GREAT-GRANDSON OF GEORGE. DNA TEST 2 COMPLETE. FEMALE, 11. NO MATCH FOUND. THIRD ENTITY IDENTIFIED. NO PSI DETECTED.
INFERRED SCAN: SUBJECTS 5,000 FEET ABOVE LAB, ABOARD WATERCRAFT, LAKE ITOI.
SUBJECTS DESCENDING. 4,000. 3,000. 2,000. 1,000.
SUBJECTS HAVE ENTERED LAB.
VOICE RECOGNITION ON.
NINTEN: Whoa! See, Loid, I TOLD you transformers exist!
LOID: Why... why does it look like Abe Lincoln?
ANA: I don’t see the resemblance, Loid.
INITIALIZING Z80 SOUND CHIP.
Z80: MY NAME IS EVE. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU. MY CREATOR WAS GEORGE.
NINTEN: My Great-Grandfather?
Z80: YES. HE WAS TAKEN TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE… THEN BROUGHT BACK LATER. I AM HERE TO PROTECT YOU. THAT IS MY PURPOSE.
NINTEN: Whoa, this place is shaking really bad!
LOID: It’s an earthquake!
LAB STRUCTURE HAS BECOME UNSTABLE. RUNNING COMMAND SET: RES-Q. RETURNING TO MT. ITOI SURFACE.
LOID: How? How are we not dead?
NINTEN: EVE saved us!
ANA: I’m okay too. Hey, that reminds me. Maybe we should check on Teddy.
Z80: SCANNING FOR “TEDDY.” LOCATED. MEDICAL CONDITION: CRITICAL, STABLE. THERE IS NOTHING THAT I CAN DO TO AID.
ANA: I… I see.
NINTEN: EVE, some kind of giant robot tried to kill us, and Teddy was badly hurt. I think we’re getting close to something important here on Mt. Itoi, but something evil doesn’t want us to find it.
Z80: DEBRIS CONTAINING ELEMENTS NOT FOUND ON EARTH DETECTED ONE MILE SOUTHEAST. THE ATTACKER WAS NOT FROM THIS PLANET. 99.7 PERCENT MATCH TO PLANET OF GIEGUE.
NINTEN: Who’s Giegue?
Z80: THIS INFORMATION IS CLASSIFIED. PLEASE INPUT PASSWORD.
LOID: Looks like your Great-Grandfather had a lot of secrets.
NINTEN: Yeah, I guess so…
Z80: CURRENT DESTINATION: MT. ITOI PEAK.
NINTEN: Okay, let’s go.
ENEMIES DETECTED. ATTACK MODE ENGAGED.
ANA: Wow! She’s taking them out with one hit!
LOID: Man, where was EVE when we were trudging through that swamp?
PROGRESS IS 107.64 PERCENT OF EXPECTED TOTAL AT THIS TIME. ESTIMATED ARRIVAL: 12:43 P.M.
Z80: UNKNOWN ENTITY APPROACHING. ATTACK MODE ENGAGED.
UNKNOWN ENTITY: Like, look out! There’s a giant, killer robot ahead, man! Oh no! Here it comes!
NINTEN: How did you even get up here?!
UNKOWN ENTITY: You need a shield! PK Defense Up Beta!
ANA: You can use PSI?!
LOID: This explains a lot!
PSI ACTIVITY DETECTED.
Z80: THREAT ASSESSMENT. SCANNING… DNA TEST COMPLETE. MALE, 39. MATCH FOUND: FATHER OF NINTEN. ATTACK HALTED.
NINTEN: Dad?! But I just talked to you over the phone!
NINTEN’S FATHER: I’ll explain later, son. Right now we need to watch out for-
Z80: THREAT LEVEL EXTREME. SPACE ROBOT MODEL R7038XX APPROACHING. 99.2 PERCENT PROBABILITY OF CONFRONTATION.
NINTEN’S FATHER: Get back! There’s nothing we can do! Let EVE take care of it!
DAMAGE OUTPUT LOW. EVE SYSTEMS CRITICAL. SELF-DESTRUCT MODE INITIATED.
Z80: TOO BAD I WILL NOT “LIVE.” BUT THEN AGAIN, WHO DOES?
NINTEN’S FATHER: She’s gonna blow!
In a flash of light, EVE explodes.
LOID: Is the bad guy, uh, dead?
Z80: MODEL R7038XX DESTROYED. EVE COMBAT FUNCTIONALITY OFFLINE. MOBILITY OFFLINE. ARE YOU ALL FUNCTIONAL?
NINTEN’S FATHER: Is everyone all right? Ken?
NINTEN: Dad, what’s going on? Why are you following us around in that stupid outfit?
NINTEN’S FATHER: My Grandfather – your Great-Grandfather – sat me down one day when I was little, and told me all about a world far away from Earth. And he said that one day, my son would save the humanity from an alien invasion. I thought he was just making up stories to entertain me, but after reading his diary, I started to suspect he was telling the truth. Well, either that, or he was crazy. When you called and told me about the poltergeist that attacked our home, I knew it was the beginning. Something was trying to stop you before you even got started. I took all of my vacation days from work and started following you, to make sure you and your friends were safe.
NINTEN: So why did you dress up like a hippie?
NINTEN’S FATHER: Because Scooby-Doo is awesome. Duh.
NINTEN: Seriously, Dad?
NINTEN’S FATHER: Look, Ken, this was something you had to do on your own to help you grow up strong and independent. I didn’t want you to know I was helping. I wanted this to be your trip, and your accomplishment. I know I’m not around all the time thanks to my job, but I want you to have a life that’s 10 times better than mine. By getting through all you’ve accomplished, everything else in life will seem easy.
NINTEN: I don’t really know what to say… thanks, Dad.
NINTEN’S FATHER: I love you very much, Ken.
FATHERS…LOVE…THEIR CREATIONS? SEARCH COMPLETED. 21 FILES ON “LOVE.” FILE 1, MARY. FILE 2, GIEGUE. FILE 3, GIYGAS. FILE 4 -
LOID: So what do we do now?
Z80: CONTINUE TO MT. ITOI PEAK.
NINTEN: Thank you, EVE.
NINTEN: Yes, EVE?
Z80: REMEMBER TO HOLD RESET WHILE TURNING THE POWER OFF.
ENGAGING PROTOCOL: MELODY #7
NINTEN: That song… now it’s almost complete. I won’t forget what you’ve done for us, EVE. C’mon, Dad!
NINTEN’S FATHER: Sorry, Ken. This is as far as I can go.
NINTEN: Why? We need your help, Dad!
NINTEN’S FATHER: You didn’t think you needed my help before, and I know you don’t need it now! Besides, I can’t go with you.
NINTEN: Wait…Magicant? How do you know about-
NINTEN’S FATHER: I used to go when I was I kid, and over time, it started fading, until couldn’t see it anymore. I think it has to do with getting older. People my age only see rocks and sand!
NINTEN: Okay, Dad. I’ll make you proud.
NINTEN’S FATHER: I know you will. And Queen Mary too. You know, I remember when you were little. You weren’t afraid of anything. And just like your mom, you never want to stop. Please don’t push yourself too hard!
Ninten and his friends reach the peak of Mt. Itoi. EVE, now a heap of smoldering metal, continues monitoring their progress.
SCANNING… COMPLETE. SUBJECTS HAVE REACHED DESTINATION.
PSI ACTIVITY DETECTED. DNA TEST COMPLETE. MALE, DECEASED. FATHER…?
GEORGE: Ninten, welcome. I always believed that you would find your way here to my grave. Your Great-Grandmother Maria’s love was scattered, scattered in the form of melodies. I have a melody for you. Listen and remember…
NINTEN: That’s it! That's the last melody. It’s time to visit Queen Mary!
Z80: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, CREATOR. THANK YOU FOR… GIVING ME… LIFE. FATHER…
SHUTTING D O w n
All photography by Matt.