Chapter Three: A Tale of Two Medals
"So, Ralph, did you ever get your medal?"
The question lingered in the air as Wreck-It Ralph determined what to say. Not wanting to reopen the emotional scars his companion carried from the morning incident, Ralph knew he had to be very careful with how he responded.
"No, I didn't, but I got something even better," Ralph responded, turning towards Vanellope with a flourish. But she seemed to have a different thought on her mind, holding her hand up to stop the big man.
"What are you talking about? You got your medal-"
"He's not talking about the medal you gave me," interjected Ralph, fetching the You're My Hero medal out of his pocket to show Vanellope. "See? I've got that one right here."
"I know, Stinkbrain," retorted the President, "neither am I. You got your other medal too. I saw him give it to you," she continued, frowning as the negative memories poured back in.
"And I got rid of it."
"But wasn't that supposed to be your ticket to a better life?" asked Vanellope.
Noticing the confusion written on his friend's face, Ralph decided she was owed an explanation. "If only it were that simple, kid. Alright guys, story time."
"So anyways, after an entire day's worth of being scared out of my wits, I won myself a medal in Hero's Duty." Vanellope started giggling at the name, causing Ralph to turn and shake his head at her. "Got attacked by a Cy-Bug, and managed to stumble into an escape pod, which decided I obviously wanted to go to Sugar Rush."
"I see my medal hanging at the top of a candy-cane tree, and that's fine – climbing is what I do, after all. But no," said Ralph, loading up his voice with as much feigned disgust as he could muster, "some filthy little crumb-snatcher has to go steal it from me!" Ralph put his arm around Vanellope, who grinned widely in response. "And then...some other stuff happened-" and the big guy could get no further as Vanellope dissolved into an intense giggling fit.
"He got covered...in green frosting...and tripped into a donut...you should have seen him! It was hilarious!" sputtered Vanellope in between her giggles. Ralph could only roll his eyes, and then he started laughing too as he thought back. He could only imagine how he must have looked at that point.
"Anyways, then more other stuff happened," continued Ralph, skipping over the most emotionally-traumatizing part of the day, "and all of a sudden I had my medal back. So I went home. I had my medal, and it was supposed to be my ticket to a better life, as you said. But instead of a better life, I found out my game was out of order." Vanellope gasped in horror (momentarily forgetting that this did not actually happen in the end).
"So now, I was really mad." The big man turned towards Vanellope as he continued. "And what do I do when I'm really mad?"
"You're gonna wreck it?" guessed Vanellope, mimicking Ralph and his arms-raised pose in the process.
"No, not this time."
"You throw a tantrum like a little diaper baby?" she quickly shot back.
"That's not how I would put it," responded Ralph. "Actually, it was sort of a combination of the two. I took the medal and flung it at the screen as hard as I could. Managed to knock down part of the Out Of Order sign, so I could see the Sugar Rush Speedway console. Really wasn't what I wanted to look at at that point, but as I stared out into space, you'd never guess what I saw on the side of that console."
"Someone who looked just like you!" Vanellope feel deep into thought – that would explain a lot, namely the gap in her internal timeline of last night: why did Ralph shatter her dreams, abandon her, and then do a complete 180 in the course of just a few minutes? Noticing this, Ralph paused to let her collect her thoughts. That gap – it made sense now. Vanellope nodded in understanding as she put the pieces together in her head.
"Except that Vanellope was dressed way better than you are," continued Ralph. "And was taller. And cuter. And I'm sure she was a way better driver than you too," he teased.
"Would you knock it off?" sputtered Vanellope, getting that out before dissolving into another giggling fit.
"Sorry, kid. With how mad I was, my memory might be a little bit fuzzy. But it would be hard not to be taller than you."
"I know, I get it, Major Halitosis," she retorted, glaring defiantly at the bigger man. Ralph paused to figure out exactly what she had just called him before letting out an exaggerated groan.
Ralph decided to get things back on track. "Can we get back to the story now?" Receiving an affirmative nod from his little companion, he turned towards Mr. Tapper and continued. "So I saw her on the side of the console, and I went 'wait a minute,' and then I ran back to Sugar Rush as fast as I could – well, without running too many people over – to try to make things right. Which, in this case, meant overthrowing an evil, game-jumping usurper king and restoring Vanellope to her rightful places as a racer and a Princess."
Vanellope jumped onto the table and got up by Ralph's face. "I. Am not. A Princess!" she insisted. Ralph gently slid her aside, ignoring the latest protest.
"So, in conclusion, I didn't get the medal I was looking for, but I got something much more important," said Ralph, picking Vanellope up onto his shoulder as he spoke, "a brand new best friend."
Ralph and Mr. Tapper continued their discussion, as the bartender wanted to know more about the battle with Turbo – he didn't exactly have the likes of evil, game-jumping usurper kings to deal with in his game. As they did, Vanellope grabbed the rest of her drink and hopped down to go talk to some of the other patrons. Trying to start with Coily and Slick, she was quickly reminded of her lack of Q*Bertese knowledge. From there, she introduced herself to the rest of the patrons.
After finishing up with his discussion, Ralph turned and glanced at his friend, currently in the middle of a conversation with Phineas. Whatever they were talking about, both Vanellope and the young inventor seemed excited about it, with how much they were flailing their arms around. Wait a second, that can't be right – did Phineas just say...?
Ralph's train of thought was cut off as he uncorked a giant yawn, loud enough to draw the attention of most of the room.
"Getting sweepy, Rawphie?" taunted Vanellope. She struggled briefly, but eventually gave in and yawned herself, earning a smirk from the big guy.
"You made me do that!"
"I did not," responded Ralph. "Anyways, we should probably get going and get you back to Sugar Rush."
"But I'm not tired yet!" argued Vanellope. Ralph looked at her rapidly drooping eyelids, along with the fact that she just yawned, and knew that wasn't actually the case. Nonetheless, he decided to play along.
"But I am. And besides, you said you were going to show me around the castle." Vanellope rolled her eyes, resigned to the fact that Ralph wasn't changing his terminology.
"Say, when you were talking to Phineas," inquired Ralph, "did I hear him say he's from a licensed game?"
"So there are real people who look like that?" he reasoned, referring to the boy's triangularly-shaped head. Vanellope could only bury her head in her heads – even she knew better than that.
"What?" asked Ralph.
Now carrying the sleeping Vanellope in his arms, Ralph walked the chocolate path up Royal Hill towards the Sugar Rush castle. He turned his head to take in the scenery as he walked, nothing like what he would ever see in his home game. Unfortunately for him, he was snapped out of his reverie by a sharp yelp that also caused the youngster to stir.
"Should we go check over there?" inquired Ralph.
Turning in the direction of the scream, Ralph paused to hear some distant laughter, an annoyed shout of "GLOYD!", and two karts starting up shortly thereafter.
"Nah, they'll be fine," responded Vanellope. "Frankly, I'd be more concerned if someone wasn't calling for Orangie's head." She jumped out of Ralph's arms, glitching into a safe landing, and spun around to see the oversized candy corn Kernel of Gloyd Orangeboar zip past at the bottom of the trail, with the Kit Kart of a newly yellow frosting-clad Rancis Flutterbugger in hot pursuit. Vanellope broke out into a giggling fit at the sight.
"D-Did you see him?" asked Vanellope, pointing at Rancis as he sped away. "He looked even more ridiculous than you did! I didn't think that was even possible!" Ralph could only shake his head as Vanellope composed herself and the two friends continued walking. Shortly thereafter, they were at the entrance of the majestic castle. Swinging the giant doors open, they stepped inside, where they were met by the loyal castle servant.
"Good evening, Vanellope. And you too, Wreck-It Ralph," droned Sour Bill, noticeably shuddering at the latter name. Ralph raised his hands in mock surrender.
"Same to you, Gumdrop!" replied Vanellope.
"Don't worry, I'm not gonna eat you," said Ralph. "You have no idea how disgusting that really was."
"Also, your presences are requested here at the castle tomorrow night for the coronation of our new ruler, our rightful ruler, Princess Vanellope," continued Bill.
"That's me! Wait a minute, Princess Vanellope? Not President Vanellope?"
"See, I told you," taunted a smirking Ralph.
"A royal government is what the Creators wanted. Who are we to argue?" reasoned Bill. Vanellope did not have an answer for that, falling into deep thought for a moment.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. If my coronation is tomorrow night, than that means...I'm actually not a princess yet! How about that, Stinkbrain?" The feisty youngster blew a raspberry at Ralph, causing him to start chuckling.
"Well, you're not a president either, so then what are you? A regular chump?" retorted Ralph. Noticing the hole in her logic, Vanellope giggled and chose not to answer. Instead, she led Ralph deeper into the castle, showing Ralph around and pointing out all of the really cool things she had available to her now – in fact, it was even more than she knew what to do with. Finally, she came to the last downward stairway that she had yet to point out.
"And down there, of course, is the dungeon. It's not the Fungeon anymore, because it's not fun. Also not a very good dungeon either, since two of the rooms have broken walls." She turned towards her larger companion and grinned. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, wouldja, Uncle Fart Breath?" Ralph, also grinning, shook his head to deny the allegation.
"So there you have it," said Vanellope, "my castle.../executive mansion." She yawned again, interrupting her train of thought. "I think I'm gonna get to bed now, and since there's no way you're getting through that door," she continued, pointing at the upstairs, "this will have to be goodbye. Go grab some royal cookies from the kitchen for your walk home."
"What kind of cookies?" inquired Ralph.
"Sugar cookies! 'Cause we're in SUGAR Rush. Gah-doy!"
"At least they're not chocolate," muttered the big man. He stuck his big arm out for a goodnight fist bump. Vanellope ran up to him, but instead glitched onto his shoulders, sliding down to hug Ralph as best she could. She climbed back up onto his shoulders and leaned in next to his ear.
"I love you, Stinkbrain. And don't you ever forget that." Setting Vanellope down gently, Ralph waited until she got onto the stairs to respond.
"You too, Your Majesty." This earned Ralph an exaggerated groan as he cracked a smile. "And good night."
It took a while, as he was asked to retell his story several more times along the way, including to the Surge Protector (he had promised after all), but Ralph eventually made it back across Game Central Station and onto the train bound for Fix-It Felix, Jr. Feeling the train come to a stop inside his home game, Ralph stepped out of the train. He immediately noticed a new sign just outside the terminal, pointing arrows towards the centerpiece apartment building, and also something called East Niceland.
"Welcome back, Ralph!" greeted Mary, walking over towards the big man.
Ralph smiled and nodded in acknowledgement. "Thanks. We have an East Niceland now?"
"Uh-huh. We decided to rename it since 'pile of bricks' isn't completely accurate anymore," she explained. Ralph turned and noted a single building standing in front of a slightly smaller pile. In front of that, two figures beckoned him to come, which Ralph quickly did.
"Good evening, Felix, Sarge. What's this?" asked Ralph, gesturing towards the house.
"It's a house," replied Calhoun. Ralph rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. "With a door that, I am told, is eleven Niceland feet high."
But there's only one person here that would need a door that size, thought Ralph. His jaw dropped to the ground as realization swiftly set it – they had built it for him! Ralph's shock turned into a big grin as he picked Felix up in a hug.
"But…why?" stuttered Ralph.
"After the way we've treated you for the last 30 years, this is the least we can do," assured Felix. "Now, why don't you go on in and check it out?"
Ralph set Felix down gently and opened the front door...pulling it completely off the hinges in the process. He stood there, holding the door in his hands, as Calhoun started to laugh.
"And that's why they call him Wreck-It, folks," deadpanned the Sergeant.
"I can fix it!" declared Felix. Once Ralph got inside, he tapped the door frame with his golden hammer, earning a familiar jingle as the door re-attached itself.
Ralph took a look around his new home. It was a simple abode, much like the man himself, but it had everything he really needed: a bed, a dresser, a dining table with a piping-hot pie on it (causing him to smile), a fridge, windows to let him see the rest of Niceland, and plenty of brick wall to decorate as he saw fit. Ralph pulled his cherished You're My Hero medal from his pocket and hung it proudly next to the door, so that he would see it every morning before he left.
With that taken care of, a tired Wreck-It Ralph plopped down onto his bed. If this was the way things were going to be from now on...he could definitely get used to this.