|"You kids and your super-realistic computer-generated special effects. You have movies like The Matrix and Star Wars to showcase the boundaries of imagination through ever-advancing technology. Back in my time, if we wanted a good action scene, we'd just decapitate a guy with a snow shovel. That proved something. But what if our world of Castlevania, as archaic a concept, fell under the rules of The Matrix you love so dear? If the battles between good and evil were only manufactured by some devious mind who wished to throw away humanity and compassion through their godlike control? Our co-authors certainly know the answer, and they wish to share it with you in this new tale."|
By Sam Mills and Boogie Mann
Simon knew the castle had to be up this road. That night held a strange and awful chill in the air that could only be described as hostile. There was no way he was going to get out of this one. With all he knew, this could easily be the death of him. Thinking back, he wondered if there had ever been a Belmont that was killed by Dracula. But logic had to dictate if a Belmont had never been successful, Dracula's reign would never have ended. So he hoped he wasn't going to be the first to fail.
There was a strange sense of deja vu, even though he'd never done this before. As he walked up to the gates to the court yard, Simon had a really strange feeling about it. Something about this seemed mechanical, but he couldn't figure out why. After going through the gate, and walking through the courtyard to the main entrance, he started to get an odd feeling that he'd done this before too! Whipping candles, collecting items that fell, all seemed very familiar. "Perhaps I've reliving the spirit of my ancestors," he thought.
Suddenly, something very strange happened. Just as he was about the enter the castle, there was a brilliant light the surrounded him. It was so bright, yet not blinding, and Simon began to feel as if he didn't have a body anymore. What is going on here? he thought as the light became dim, and he was surrounded by darkness all around him.
The next thing he knew was he was standing in the dark, looking around for someone else. But there was no one there. "What is going on here?" he said. He looked at his hands, his flesh worn from years of whip practice. The interesting thing is how bright he was despite the lack of a light source. "Hello? Is anyone there?" he called.
Then, some one did appear before him. It was a man dressed in a way he'd never seen before. "Hello Simon," the man said. "Don't be afraid. Dracula is not here now. Hold tight, and I'll explain everything..."
Soma Cruz was having a bad day. Or was it night? He knew it really didn't matter, considering time didn't seem to exist in this place. He was terrified, and he was trying the best he could to get through this awful place. He'd been making his way up and down stairs, fighting off monsters and bursting ghouls into flames.
There was more to it than this. There was something hidden deep inside him, and he didn't know what he was going to do about it. What if what was inside was ready to consume him from the inside out? How could he face it? What would it mean?
He didn't get much time to think about it. Suddenly, he was overtaken by some sort of light all around him. The scene changed, and he was no longer in the same place as before! When the light faded, he found himself among several other people, sitting around on the floor in a dark place. Even though there was no source of light, he could see everyone else just fine. "What is this?" he asked.
Looking at everyone around him, it was becoming clear that these people surrounding him were not enemies, but others that brought here for some unknown purpose. "What is going on here?" he asked.
"Awe, the last one has arrived, finally!" said one man as he stood up. As he came closer, Soma figured the guy was some kind of doctor. He was wearing a long white coat and khaki pants. But everyone else looked as if they were going to a medieval themed Halloween party. "And it's someone that will have half a clue about what I am about to talk to you all about. Soma, you are part of the Castlevania clan, and I've summoned all of you here to my domain."
"Who are you?" Soma asked.
"My name is Dr. Felix Williams. And I am a scientist who has brought all of you here. I am also a computer programmer." the doctor said. While everyone else around him looked puzzled by the term "computer programmer", Soma knew exactly what he was. But that still didn't explain what he was doing there.
Dr. Williams introduced Soma to the rest of the crowd. Most of them were Belmont's, and Soma knew that they were all out of different periods of time. He met Simon, Richter, Trevor, a little girl named Maria, a grown woman named Maria, who was confusingly explained to be the same woman, and more introductions from there. "They are all part of a line that has fought and, in story, defeated Dracula."
"How is this possible? Did you bring them through time?" Soma asked. He was starting to get very nervous about all of this. Why was the doctor doing this?
"I've brought them to a different plain of existence, where all their lines exist at once. Soma, you know what a video game is, right?"
What kind of question was that? A video game was an old fashion technology obsolete in his time. Now that holograms were the wave, there was no use for video any longer. "I used to have an antique Game Boy Advance, but I sold it at the road show for $3,000. It was barely enough to pay for a candy bar."
The doctor seemed delighted to talk to a Castlevania hero that actually knew what he was talking about. He seemed eager to talk more to Soma about the truth, but he knew it was time to show them what it is that he'd prepared for them. It was time for the movie. The doctor pulled a device out of his coat pocket, and pushed a few buttons. At that moment, the scene changed, and they all found themselves in a theater, with a large screen in the front.
Everyone looked around with a strange sense of awe. "Wow, what magic!" said Richter Belmont. "You surely have a lot of power!"
"Please take your seats, and I will be showing you a presentation." the doctor said. He could see that Soma was not impressed. He approached Soma and asked him what was wrong. Soma was actually getting a little mad.
"Dr., I am not stupid. Is this some kind of a holographic projection? Is this a game?" he demanded.
"Soma, this movie I'm about to show you will explain everything. But to answer your question, no and kind of, but not really. Get it?" the doctor said.
Soma took his seat, and watched as the primitive technology began. At least it was in color, but 2D? Soma was used to better in 2035. Everyone else, on the other hand, was impressed with the images that were being shown to them on the huge screen. The movie began with the caption: HISTORY OF CASTLEVANIA...a video game legend.Narration by Dr. Felix Williams.
The movie went on to explain the history of the video game. The introduction went over all the systems that had been created, telling them about the N.E.S. all the way to the present day systems. Soma knew all about these things, since he was from a time the surpassed all of it. He wasn't sure of what year it was, and the movie wasn't specific about dates. But when he ended with the 128 bit systems as "current standards" he knew it had to be the early 21st century.
But of course not everyone in the audience was reacting as calm. Trevor Belmont was a little creeped out when they showed all the systems, and the games they played. "It's a kind of magic? A gaming device?" he was saying. As they showed shots from games, like Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil, he was shocked, along with most others, at the strangeness of the technology. What was the point? Were they expected to play these games?
Then the movie went a more specific topic after that: WHAT IS CASTLEVANIA? Then the film went on to talk about all the games. "The first Castlevania featured Simon Belmont, our hero for several games, including Vampire Killer, Castlevania, and others..." that narration said. Simon was shocked when the first footage of the games started showing. They were crude, but artful, but nothing like he looked in real life. Not just that, but how was one of these games made from him?
Then it talked about all the other games, in order of release, each one shocking all the members of the audience. They starting talking amongst themselves, wanting to know how this was possible, and why games were made from them. "Is it a trick? Is it a homage?"
Soma was very nervous, since a lot of what the games were about were similar to the experience he was having at the castle. But unlike him, these people were fighting Dracula in a castle. What did Dracula have to do with his situation? And what was the connection between the games and these physical people? Then, the movie featured the next game: ARIA OF SORROW.
"In Aria of Sorrow, gamers took the role of Soma Cruz, who is a foreign exchange student who finds himself in a mysterious castle after a solar eclipse...trapped in the Castle, he must find the real reason he is there...taking place in the future, a first for the series, Aria is a unique Castlevania experience..."
Soma stood up. "This is a bunch of crap!" he cried. "Stop the movie! Stop the movie NOW!"
Dr. Williams stopped the film and approached Soma. He could tell Soma was not very pleased. "I have been having a really hard time lately, and this just adds to the confusion! I need answers, and I need them right now!" Everyone else starting backing him, up, saying they needed answers to, and they didn't want to be toyed with any longer.
The doctor asked everyone to calm down, and explained that the rest of the movie would explain the rest. But Soma wasn't interested in watching anymore. All he wanted was to not have any more problems. Seeing that Soma was not going to sit down and watch anymore, he asked everyone else to watch as he took Soma aside.
With the push of a button, Soma and the Doctor appeared alone in an office of some kind. Dr. Williams sat down at the desk, and began to explain. "Soma, I am sorry about this confusion. I know you have a different perspective than the rest of the Castlevania characters, and that means I have to deal with you differently." The doctor explained that it wasn't just that he was from "the future" but that he was also a different character by nature. "You are not a Belmont, you know little about your situation, and you don't know a lot about why you are in it. That was how you were programmed."
"Programmed?" Soma thought for a moment, then it came to him. It was absurd, but it was a good explanation. "Are you saying I am a video game character?"
The doctor smiled. "Exactly. You are the essence of the character, and right now, we are in a computer program. I've modified your image so you look real, but I took your personality subroutines from the game program. Same with all the others. And I am not real either, I am a program that is sort of a link to a user in the real world."
Soma was shocked, but he was also very open minded. It took a moment for it to sink in as he took a seat. In some ways, he was relieved by this. "So is your movie telling this to the others?" "Kind of. They don't have the programmed capacity to understand, so I'm putting it in easier terms. But you are so..."
"Different, I know!" Soma snapped. He was tired of hearing it. But he knew there had to be more. "Why have you done this?"
"Because I need you to help me. There is one other program that has gotten free, but he is no longer on this level. He is one level above us, and he wants to get to the real world. I can't let him do it." the doctor said. "It's Dracula."
How could it be Dracula, Soma thought. "Dracula? But from which game?"
"Dracula isn't just a character, he's the basic theme of all Castlevania's. The program made him a spirit, a soul if you will." The doctor went on to explain that his user in the real world is a Castlevania fan who was trying to pay homage to the games by making one of his own. He was working on his home computer, designing levels, making up characters, and finally ready to design the count himself. But this amateur needed to have the best Dracula ever, and there was only one way to do this. "He gave the computer program something he shouldn't have-A.I."
Apparently, the other odd effect is that all the Castlevania hero's were starting go develop this A.I. as well, and when he started to realize it, there was little that could be done to fix the problem. "I didn't want to simply erase you guys, since you are now classified as a life form of sorts, and I didn't want to kill you." the doctor explained. "Now Dracula is another matter. But I can't get to him as easily. It's simply his spirit in the computer, not a form. I can't seem to get to him yet..."
Then the doctor realized something. It terrified him to no end to know what had happened. Maybe Dracula wasn't so far away after all. There was something he didn't take into account, until now. "Soma, will you excuse me a moment?"
The doctor disappeared, leaving Soma alone in the room. "Whatever is he talking about? I can't believe...oh my..."
Dr. Williams met up with the Belmonts and others, who had just seen the last of the films. They all looked at the doctor, who had finished the film by talking about Soma's game, Aria of Sorrow. "Then you all know who Soma is, at least partly in spirit, right?" They all nodded. It became clear what had to be done. And there was plenty enough hero's there to help.
The doctor explained that he was going to transfer all their programs, along with Soma's, to a computer rendition of the castle. "If I am correct, Dracula will be there waiting for us."
"Let's get him!" Simon cried.
"I'll drag him out by his fangs!" Reinhart yelled.
Then Richter yelled out something in Japanese. It must of been is Rondo of Blood counterpart.
Dr. Williams pushed the button and brought them all into Dracula's chamber room. It was dark, quiet, and lit only by the glare of the full moon outside the window. The looked around, and saw Soma standing in front of Dracula's throne. Were they too late? Soma walked towards them, with a slyness about him that didn't seem natural. He approached the doctor, and said, "Welcome, Dr. Williams. Friends, welcome. We are friends, aren't we all?"
"Who are you?" Trevor cried. "Where is Dracula?"
"I am Soma, my dear Trevor Belmont." Soma said. "Who do I look like?"
Alucard came for forth. "My father is in you! It's part of you nature, or 'program', isn't he!"
"Alucard, my dear young man. Too bad you're not as wise in your Symphony of the Night form as your later, non-playable appearance in Soma's game! I will kill you first!"
At that moment, Soma cried out in pain, falling to the ground. Then, the form of Dracula from Aria of Sorrow appeared for a moment, before transforming into another, more traditional form. A figure more than fifteen feet tall, he began shooting fire balls at them. Deflecting the projectiles with their weapons, they charged at him. But he disappeared into a flash of light, and reappeared on the other side of them.
Then, he did something really odd. He began blowing them with his breath, and they went flying against the wall. After he ran out of breath, the warriors were back on their feet, charging at him once more. This time, they got to him in time to whip him a few times. But it didn't do much. Dracula laughed, and threw another fire ball at them.
Dr. Williams watched them helplessly, wondering what it was that he could do to stop this. Then, he realized what had to be done. He had spared the lives of all the hero's, but in the process, saved Dracula as well. There was one thing that the user could do. "Erase the program, wiping out all the Belmonts and their A.I. as well," he told himself. He knew the user would hear him.
Suddenly, everything began to get dark. The castle shook, and the moon went out. Everyone looked around, and Dracula held still, confused by what was happening. "What is this?" he demanded to know from the doctor. "What are you doing?"
"I'm sorry, Belmonts and hero's, but to rid the world of Dracula, the world must be rid of itself. You all mean so much." As the walls began to fall around them, it was clear that this was the end of all of them. They all began to fade away, not sure where it was they were going, or what, if anything, they would be afterwards.
"Stop! Don't!" Dracula cried.
But the doctor knew it wouldn't stop. He would live on as the users representative. But everyone else would cease to exist. Unless...as quickly as he could, he pushed a few buttons on his pad. Just before the place came crashing down, Dracula diminished into a pile of bloody numbers. But the Belmonts vanished from this place, along with Dr. Williams.
A moment later, the hero's, including Soma Cruz, found themselves in a very cramped, small room, squished together to the point where they couldn't move. "Where in the hell are we?" Sonya asked. A moment later, the space around them grew, and they fell around to the floor. Getting back up, Dr. Williams appeared to them.
"You all are still here! And Dracula is gone! Talk about happy, happy!" he said.
"What did you do?" Soma asked. "Why are we still here?"
The doctor explained that at the last minute, he transferred all of their files into a back up CD, a place where they would not be erased from the system. But Dracula was truly gone. Not a trace of him was saved, not even a hair. "Which means that now, the user will create a world where all of you are free, and he will create you a cyber world free of Dracula forever! We can call it Castlevatrix!"
"Free of Dracula?" they all said. They couldn't believe it. What kind of world would that be? Christopher stepped up and said, "With all due respect, I can't image that will ever be true. After all, without Dracula, we would have existed."
"Well, if you would like, I can always put you into a Contra game!" the doctor said. Only he and Soma laughed.
As for Soma, he felt very bad that he was the pawn for the Dracula program, without even knowing it. But the doctor explained that we are who we are, and sometimes we don't always choose every element in our being. "Some fibers, or numbers, in this case, are spun by those who do not give us a choice. You conscience is clear, my friend."
From that moment on, the clan inhabited worlds of computer dreams, sometimes living in their own Dracula-free Castlevania realm. Other times, they tried visiting others. Simon in particular loved to run with Sonic and Mario, Alucard even helped Samus get through Metroid. The computer world was vast and endless.
But there was one more place, deep in the heart of the computer world, a place that no one realized was there. Not even the user understood about the emergency back-up that was buried deep in his computer. And it was there that the seeds of evil laid dormant. Whether they would stay that way forever, no one would know. For anything was possible in the world of the Castlevatrix.