Whoever this guy was, apparently his heart wasn't into hurting the king koopa. Bowser only got knocked down, the man quickly apologizing for his actions, taking Bowser as one of those galeem people. "Yeah, Galeem has messed up a lot of stuff. But ya know, what Bowser said, Galeem wont last long." Blazermate said, moving her way to make herself known and in the open, having stayed behind since she had no use for food. "Nice to meet ya Gene, I'm Blazermate~." Blazermate continued, observing Bowser shrug off what was basically a cheap shot like a champ.
Wanting to be near the rest of the group and maybe socialize a bit, Blazermate gestured to Gene and said. "Do ya want some fod partner? I'm a robot, so you can have my serving, if they made me one." She followed Bowser, hoping that Gene was following the pair. The more allies, the better, especially if things got way stronger than megadragonbowser.
When Blazermate got into the dining hall with the rest of her friends, she noticed right away that Bowser was trying to flirt with the princess from before. Blazermate giggled at the situation, especially after Bowser broken the counter near the kitchen trying to look cool. Finding a place to sit down, Blazermate decided while everyone else was helping with the food or getting their food that she'd take a look at all the stuff the Engineer soul she had absorbed had gifted her in detail. She pulled out the toolbox that made sentry guns, and after investigating it more throughly, noticed a small dial on the side with four settings. The first was the sentry gun, which she had been using as a way to support and deal damage from a range, but there were 3 other settings labled 'Dispenser, Tele Ent, and Tele Exit'.
Curious as to what these were, Blazermate moved off to the side, set the toolbox to the dispenser setting, and deployed it. Unlike the previous setting where it was building a gun, this time it was very slowly building some kind of box thing. And like the sentry gun, Blazermate found hitting this building with her right hand made it build faster and after 10 seconds of metal hitting metal ringing through the room alongside hydrolic motor building sounds, the dispenser came to life. While it was a very square looking building, it also had a canister of air or gas on its right side, a bandolir of bullets on its left, and a bit of metal coming out of a cup on the bottom. Just being around this thing felt great, as if it was passively healing anyone nearby.
KNowing she could upgrade her sentry, Blazermate decided to try to upgrade the dispenser. But something in her mind told her to 'optimize' setting up her buildings. While she upgraded the dispenser, the sound of metal hitting metal ringing through the hall for another 15 seconds, she had also placed down both the teleporter entrance and exit nearby, curious as to what they did. As the teleporters constructed themselves, the dispenser changed shape vaguely as it upgraded. At level 2, knobs popped out of the front and back of the building with various settings related to what she figured was crafting. And at level 3, a heart monitor popped out of the top of it, and the healing it gave out felt much stronger, almost as strong as Blazermate's healing beam itself. "Interesting...." Blazermate said to herself.
She then went on to test the newly built teleporters, noting that when they were online they emitted a glowing light as its bottom spun at insane speeds. As she stood on the entrance teleporter a flash of light signaled her teleport moving her to the exit teleporter, all of 4 feet. Having teleported a passanger, both teleporters slowly whirred back up to speed, the dim glow acting as a floor for Blazermate ot stand on. After a bit more experimenting with her new buildings, she jumped with glee at how she could now teleport people, and it seemed like it'd be extra useful, although she questioned why the teleporters couldn't go both ways. Having not been a gear head until very recently, Blazermate decided to consult someone who said they worked with all kinds of machines, Ratchet. It took her a bit to find the taller Ratchet helping out in the kitchen.
Giving a small bow to Cooking Mama, Blazermate said. "Excuse me miss. I need Ratchet's help with something." Turning to Ratchet, she said, pointing at the stuff she made in the corner. "Hey, apparently I can make some neat devices now, including a teleporter. Think you can help me maybe work something out with it? I can see it bein' mighty useful, but its a one way trip. Figured you might know a way to make it a two way deal instead."
“How wonderful to see you both. It hurt so terribly to know that you were held captive in the dungeon, Mario, and not do anything about it."
Mario smiled bashfully upon hearing Peach speak, his plump cheeks already growing a light hue of red as he lifted his cap and placed it on his chest. She was always able to give him para-goombas floating around in his stomach, even after saving her countless of times for over three decades. How does he always find himself the courage to keep going, even he doesn't fully understand. But it always felt great to save her, almost as if he saved her for the very first time all those years ago. Still, he sighed before giving a sympathetic smile towards her.
"It's-a-OK, Princess." the plumber replied understandingly, "I-a-always find my way outta sticky situations. But your-a-safety is my only concern. As long as you're-a-safe, you don't-a-have to worry about-a-me."
This wasn't Mario's first time being captured by the bad-guys either. His brother, Luigi, had saved him several times before - one from Bowser and his minions from the clutches of the ghostly King Boo - and, funnily enough, even Peach herself once saved him from the Koopa King's clutches (granted she had some help with her parasol Parry and the power of emotions(?)). Those were indeed some strange times for the Mushroom Kingdom back then.
“And Geno." Peach gave the polite doll a curtsy. The wooden doll would look up in attention. “It's been a very long time. I'm glad you're well."
"Thank you, my lady." he replied with a bow, "It's always an honor to fight alongside you again."
“My apologies for a less-than-proper introduction. I figured I'd do what I... hm, you know, do best. To thank you all."
The 'stached plumber already recognized and what she was going to do. No doubt that she made some of the finest pastries and cakes in all of the Mushroom Kingdom and today will be no exception. Even then, Mario never dared to ask anything more. He was grateful with anything that he got from Peach, whether he and his brother received cake and/or a simple peck on the cheek or nose. It would be extremely rude to ask something more for someone as kind-hearted as the Princess.
“In the mean time, the castle's yours. Feel free to go anywhere you want. Or, you could stay here. With this much help, things should be ready in a half hour or so, but we can always use more."
That's when the newcomer Ratchet proceeded to finally join in the conversation, stating that he could help with the preparations as well, before being assigned an event to partake in by Peach.
And then up comes Bowser, who tried to pick-up Peach with his "rich" vocabulary. Mario gave the Koopa King a stink eyed glare, warning him to stay way, before he decided to move on towards the kitchen... and pick up one of the female chefs there.
"I will be within the main plaza." Geno would then say, "Perhaps I'll also scout out the premises for any abnormalities and straggling opponents that are still lingering."
With another bow, the doll proceeded to excuse himself from the dining hall, regardless of any order he was given, and headed back to where the party was. Mario remained however, already reminiscing about his past memories, before he slowly approached the royal blonde with a worried expression.
"And-a-another thing if I may ask," Mario asked Peach concerningly as he sat next to her on one of the many royal dining chairs, "Have-a-you seen Luigi by any chance-a? Or Yoshi, or Daisy, or any of our friends since the incident?"
"God Hand?" Spyro asked with a confused look after Gene's bombastic intro, "Huh, that's an interesting title. Do you, like, have a hand that smites opponents directly into oblivion or...?"
Gene then proceeded to give a demonstration regarding his abilities, however he seemed to have forgotten most of his techniques as he was feeling rather confused with the situation entirely, even believing he had to regain his techniques as they traveled. Looks like he caught on quickly as Spyro nodded in confirmation.
"I think almost everyone's powers got sapped once we got here." the purple dragon replied, "At least you were able to get here without being first transformed into a mindless minion - or so I think. Cuz, believe me, that's not a good way to go about your life."
Gene then asked Spyro as to who everyone was and essentially as why they were all here.
"It's... uh, kind of a long story." the dragon shrugged as he looked around as if to suddenly gain all the knowledge, "I'm Spyro by the way. And uh, to my knowledge, it goes like~"
"Galeem had imprisoned nearly all of the characters in the multiverse after launching a devastating attack." Geno's words would sound as he approached Gene from around the corner, "Everyone, with the exception of one - Kirby - was transformed into a mindless puppet of the divine seraphim. Kirby used his power to free some of us and now we're attempting to gather up as many allies as we can to stop Galeem and hopefully restore balance to the multiverse."
Linkle's call provoked a slight jump from Poppi, arriving just after she laid a hand on the main door to push it open. She'd been lost in thought, not really paying attention, and the rabbit-eared girl seemed to take her by surprise. Though offered as friendly advice, Linkle's warning received an unhappy look from Poppi. “Thank you, but Poppi is not robot, but artificial blade.” Her features downcast, Poppi held up a metal hand and watched as she flexed her fingers. “...But it make little difference. Poppi not real. Just machine with no heart. Betrayed heroes just like that, almost killed Masterpon. Poppi deserve to rust in scrapyard.” Crestfallen, she pushed open the door and hustled through.
She did not, however, go to the scrapyard. A few moments after setting foot outside, she stopped at the edge of the moat, not far from the main bridge. The strange ship of the hat-wearing kid still floated in its middle, but Poppi paid it little attention. She seated herself on the bank and allowed her lower legs to dangle in the water. After just a few moments, a fish swam up, attracted by the light shining off the metal. It approached without any wariness, staring dully at its reflection and even nipping a few times. Poppi could not feel its touch, and she knew that it wouldn't have come right up to a living thing so easily. She watched it until it didn't interest her anymore, then turned to watch the other creatures swimming about, living it up in the moat. Using her voice instead of any breath, she let out a sigh in imitation of Tora. Even after hearing her Masterpon's explanation, she had so many questions, and not all of them concerned this strange new world.
One stood above the rest: how could she look him in the face again, or any of them, after turning evil so easily? After all the soul poured into her by Tora, and everything they'd been through, she was still just a piece of metal run by lines of code. A hard puppet dancing on soft strings. Anyone could stamp out her pretend spirit and turn her into a weapon against her friends. How was that fair?
Poppi put her hands on the ground and leaned out over the water. A sad face stared back at her from its rippling surface. She saw herself blink, but knew that she didn't need to. The realization almost made her laugh. All this tireless, heartfelt effort put into a dangerous failure. How disappointed Tora must be.
As more people gathered around the table at one end of the kitchen, a few toads appeared with platters. “Gonna be a while until the meal's ready, but here! This stuff's great,” one said, before setting down a plate full of little sandwiches right by Michael and Franklin. Anyone else nearby could help themselves, too.
Tora definitely did, sneaking away from the stovetop he'd been tending to grab a sandwich and scarf it down before scuttling back, making sure to avoid an enraged-looking Cooking Mama on the way. “You great big lout!” she scolded Bowser. “We need all the counter space we can get, and you're in the way! Shouldn't you be finding your son right now?” Hopefully the overgrown turtle would realize Bowser Jr was somewhere in the castle and make himself scarce looking for him.
She turned next to face Blazermate, the fire vanishing from her eyes. A glittering smile flew the medibot's way after she gave a respectful bow; so rarely did the chef get her due! “Of course, both of you go right ahead!” she beamed. “Just make sure to keep your tinkering far away from the food, and don't let any acrid smoke go wafting around! Meals must be prepared in a sanitary environment!” Evidently, the hard-working cook remained strict and informative even when happy.
Meanwhile, Peach paused in her preparation in order to consider Mario's question. “Hmm...” she furrowed her brow as she cast her mind about the tyrant's former fortress. “Most of them are here, I think. Yoshi's out back, Luigi is probably still cleansing the library, and I would imagine Wario's having the time of his life in the treasury.” She wrinkled her nose. “As if I needed another reason to avoid working with money. As for Daisy, Rosalina...I have no idea. They must not be around here.”
For a time, Hat Kid's detective work turned up practically nothing. Whoever this Princess Peach was, she seemed to be a simple, singularly uninteresting character, with no discernible hidden depths or interesting past. The fashionable child turned up only clothes, knickknacks, self-care items, and the evidence of a number of hobbies, like knitting. Most eye-catching were a number of figures scattered about, though they seemed to be nothing more than mundane collectibles. She did not, however, find a single hidden panel or trap door, or for that matter, a smudge of dirt or dust bunny. This woman was a neat freak, for sure.
However, something did turn up out of the blue after a few minutes: a bib-masked miscreant with flashy red hair and green scales very much like those of the Koopa King who so authoritatively co-opted Hat Kid's service not too long ago. Bowser Jr was far more intent on joining in on her fun than Bowser Sr's typical agenda of self-aggrandizing bullying, so the discovery more than likely meant a new comrade in her search for something interesting.
Unbeknownst to her, her mission's completion was far closer than she might have realized. As an expert explorer and collector, Hat Kid searched high and low for hidden goodies, perusing every nook and exposing every cranny. Thus, the most ordinary spots slipped her notice at first, and in fact she had yet to examine the most obvious among them: the top of Peach's stationary desk. On it lay a large sheet of sturdy parchment, its inscriptions' handwriting a far cry from the dainty cursive on Peach's letters. It was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a map.
"...alright, I'll just call you 'Courier', then," Din said, smiling weakly up at the taller gentleman, as she took in his words. "My world is not so dangerous, I mean, it's often plagued by evil, but before anything terribly atrocious happens, a hero will push back the darkness. I am not that hero. Linkle, the girl with the green hat and the crossbows, seems to be one of the incarnations of the hero. Zer0, Gaige, I will remember their names."
As Courier 6 pulled out the samples, Din was surprised he had any available, and in such good condition, or as good a condition as can be expected from being in a desert roamer's pocket. Unsure of the sizes of the full-grown versions of these plants, Din placed the samples about a meter apart from each other in a line. Upon casting the Spell of Spring upon the plant fragments, the effects were immediate. The xander root bristle burrowed into the soil and began sprouting, the broc flower petal reformed the entire flower, it's stem implanting into the ground to form the rest of the plant, the fungus dissolved into mycelium before sprouting its cap, the yucca banana peel reformed into a whole fruit as its stem, like the broc flower, planted itself in the ground to reform a miniature banana tree, and the cactus flower did likewise. Din continued to concentrate, allowing some of the larger plants to reach closer to their full size, but stopped to prevent them from encroaching on each others' space. Din examined these plants curiously, having never seen them before. "These are...medicinal?" she asked.
"Hey," Linkle started, but the girl had already rushed out the door, apparently looking forward to getting murdered in the scrapyard. That wasn't something Linkle could allow, especially now that she knew murder was on the table.
She spun on Minako and Junpei, an apprehensive frown plastered on her face. "You guys should go find a nice warm place to dry off, especially you." She said, pointing at Junpei and the water still dripping off him onto the princesses floor. She wondered briefly of this was the sort of princess that that threw you in the dungeon for that sort of thing. "Eat, drink, change clothes, I'll probably be back in two shakes of a cucko's tail."
With that she spin around and jogged back out onto the castle lawn.
It was an immediate relief to see the blade girl hadn't actually run out into the scrap yard and was instead instead sitting forlorn on the bank of the most. That was good, at least she hadn't run far. Linkle could barely look the others in the eye right now without being ashamed, if she had to tell Tora that she'd let someone important enough to him to get put directly in his way by the bad guys up and get lost she'd never be able to look at him again.
"Hey." She called out, starting over toward her. She stopped beside the girl, arms folded behind her back, wondering what to say. "I didn't introduce myself earlier." She started, holding out a hand. "I'm Linkle. Your...masterpon?...he's helped me out a lot since we all got dragged here. I think he called your name a while ago, but there was a lot going on at the time so I didn't hear it all that well."
Linkle plopped down on the bank next to her, cross legged, to just watch the fish like she was for a little bit. Really, she was just trying to compose what she should say. "You know, it wasn't just you. We were all like that at first. That cute little pink thing riding on the guy in the dark coat? I'm sure I started the day trying to kill that little guy. We all did. Well, except Minako. And the pig guy, but he's awful for other reasons. Was Ratchet there? No, hold on, I'm getting distracted." She shook her head, trying to get her thoughts more in order. "The point I'm trying to make is, like, if being controlled like that makes you a fake person then I'm an even faker person than you because I didn't even need a floating hand to talk me into doing it."
Courier Six nodded as Din agreed to simply refer to him as “Courier.” It was all anybody could really call him since that asshole Benny shot him in the head. God what a prick. Well, the Legion liked to call him “profligate” but he didn’t figure that counted as a name. Plus they were all brainwashed tribals anyway. It was Caesar that was the problem there. Heh, ex-problem at any rate. He and Boone got Caesar but good right in the heart of his own camp. What an asshole.
Oh yeah, something was supposed to be happening, right? Right. The dancer was using magic. Oh wow, that worked fast. Dang, that was niiiice. The Courier had to stop himself from drooling over the sight of the barrel cactus sprouting fruit, and the banana peel growing a full yucca complete with more bananas. It was so… Beautiful. A tear fell from the Courier’s eye. Not even the plant experimentations in that vault were this amazing, and Din came with the extra benefit of being friendly, not deadly.
”That settles it,” he began. ”When all this is over, if we find a way to fix our worlds, I’m inviting you back to the Mojave, if’n you’ll take it. The sharecroppers are used to trying to make crops out of irradiated desert soil. They do their best, but a lot a folks go hungry every day.”
He approached the plants and began to harvest the more plentiful ones first, pulling off the banana yucca and the cactus fruit first in order to give the fungus, broc flowers, and xander root more time to spread and multiply. That’s when he heard Din question him in a rather confused tone. Without looking up he answered. ”In a manner of speaking, but not as they are. People like me gotta know how to live off the land. How to find the right ingredients for the right mixture. I can make somethin’ outta anything, I reckon. Bit of a savant that way. For example…”
He pointed to the broc flowers and xander root. ”Crushing the petals of that flower with this root makes a potent healing powder, but it also dizzies the senses. But if’n you can inject it directly in a liquid form…” he continued by pulling out a used stimpack syringe for Din to see. ”It increases in potency and also mitigates the side effects.” He held up the fruit from the barrel cactus. ”On its own, this fruit is just a tasty treat. But mix the fruit juice with some of this fungus and some spore pods, and you get what the Zion tribals call ‘Blood Shield.’ It heals, but not as potently as the healing powder, but also protects you from poisons and venoms. I can make all kinds of chems that boost mental and physical abilities too. I’m still running on my last pill of buffout, a super steroid. I can make you faster, stronger, resistant to damage, think smarter, all manner of things. Even this-” he pulled out the jar of ash he collected from Megadragonbowser’s corpse, ”-I can make into a chem that’ll resist hot temperatures. I can’t exactly explain how it works or how I know that, I just feel and understand what goes together with what to do what I want.”
He put it away, along with all the ingredients he had collected, satisfied with Din’s abilities. Of course, there were a number of amazing plants, and fauna, in this garden to look over as well. Who knows what he could put together with all of it? ”Hell, I could just make you feel really really good, too. Just one downside. A lot of the chems I make are rather addictive, and uh… Well I gotta keep my flow goin’ or I get withdraw somethin’ fierce.”
It was about then that the growing of fruits and plants attracted some attention to the duo. First approached a green dinosaur, cartoonish in proportions, a perfect fit to the castle, Mario, Peach, and Bowser, a strong indicator that it was a native of the area. “Yoshi!” It exclaimed happily, eyeing the barrel cactus growing fruits.
The second to approach was a large bipedal beetle of some kind, with a hard blue shell and impressively large horn. It too gazed upon the fruits of Din’s labors with a clear hunger in its eyes. “Cross. Cross. Heracross!”
The Courier tilted his head at the new arrivals. Something about them seemed intelligent. ”Uh… Hungry boys?”
”Well then, go at it, I guess?” the Courier shrugged, and both animals sprang into action, needing no further encouragement. The beetle latched itself onto the banana yucca plant, devouring the fruit while facing the ground. The dinosaur let loose a long, sticky tongue onto the barrel cactus. The entire plant tore right out of the ground, completely uprooted, and was summarily swallowed whole. The fact that it was completely covered in needles didn’t deter the dinosaur from its lunch one bit. It’s digestive tract had to be made of iron or something!
“Yoshi!” it cheered with a little happy dance.
“Cross, cross!” the beetle exclaimed, still happily munching on the yucca.
”Alright then, y’all have fun with your food. I’m gonna rustle me up some more ingredients from this garden. Grab some fertilizer, see what other plants are around, that sort of thing. Then I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
Ratchet was patiently awaiting some instructions from one of the chefs, the woman hard at work or the princess herself, when a task came from an unlikely source for a completely unrelated matter: Blazermate. The robot approached Ratchet while setting up some sort of structure probably related to that mechanic spirit she had absorbed. The lombax listened to her query: see if he could help make a one way teleporter into a two way teleporter. With a bit of flourish Ratchet pulled out his omniwrench and spun it around a bit, letting the tool come to a rest on his shoulder.
”You’ve come to the right lombax for the job! I’m used to working with ships and other vehicles mostly, but I’ve used more teleporters than I can count. I wouldn’t mind taking a crack at it!” With that he crossed the distance over to the corner of the kitchen where Blazermate had set up her new feat of engineering. Safety first, of course. You want to observe a device before working on it to insure you don’t cause an accident. That’s why Ratchet jumped into it to make sure it was working!
In a bright flash Ratchet reappeared in the receiving end, about four feet away, none the worse for wear. Yup, it was totally operational alright. Time to get down to the nuts and bolts of the machine to gauge its function. He took a good whack at the thing with his wrench, popping open a side panel to inspect the internal wiring. After a good few minutes of looking around he sealed it up again. ”Well, it’s definitely different from any teleporter I’ve ever used. The ones back in my universe operate by disassembling the package, then reassembling on the other end. This seems to operate on the wormhole principle, which means it bends and tears space to eject you to the targeted destination. Thing is, wormholes are only ever a one way trip, so we won’t be getting this into a two way street without completely rebuilding how it works from a foundational level.”
Also featuring: Bowser Jr @DracoLunaris Level 1 EXP: ////////// (5/10)
After about five to ten minutes of combing the princess’s quarters, Hat Kid’s search, somewhat unsurprisingly, yielded nothing of note or use. Admittedly, the last thirty seconds or so were spent playing with a few of the peculiar figurines out of the assortment she had found. Why the princess kept a collection of board game scale statuettes modeled after real people, including herself, was particularly odd, but who would she be to question the royal’s hobby (assuming that’s what it was) while she was busy indulging in it herself. She even specifically picked out the figures of the only four she had met, smashing the Koopa King and the ape into each other in a crude depiction of battle before having the red clad plumber jump in while they were locked to boot them aside like overtaken chess pieces, followed by a similarly crude representation of romance between him and the princess that mostly involved smacking their faces together to make them ‘kiss’. All the while she was doing comically poor impressions of all of them, channeling her best Mafia into a higher-pitched caricature of itself for the plumber. Of course, she was mostly unfamiliar with these characters and their relationships to one another, so her portrayal of them and any accuracy therein was entirely coincidental.
Her moment of play was cut short by the abrupt emergence of a masked toddler, roughly her height, wielding a deadly paintbrush, the vandal’s wand. Startled (at first), the human alien child quickly tossed aside the toys--in part to avoid the self-consciously perceived embarrassment of being caught playing with them--and brandished her umbrella, holding forth at the (other) intruder in similar fashion to a saber. Then, she took a closer look at the junior assailant as he pulled down his masking bib, and recognized him to bear an unmistakable resemblance to Bowser. Though, however obvious it was, she didn’t want to make assumptions about kinship based simply on appearances. Otherwise, she would have done that with most of the people she encountered on her last adventure; the Mafia, the Owls, the Penguins, the Nomads, pretty much everyone. Not that she was so ignorant as to conflate homogeneity with familial likelihood for the sake of argument either. It was just better to know for sure than think oneself certain, but it hardly mattered.
The reptilian runt seemed harmless enough at the moment for her to lower her guard almost as soon as she had raised it. Plus, it was probably better to not chance harming what could likely be your biggest guy’s son… or grandson… or nephew… or whatever. Kid was slow to act innocent by gently pushing the bottom drawer closed with her foot--only for the one above to fall open wider--when called out for pilfery, but having misinterpreted her actions, he promptly expressed an eagerness to join in on them before she could deny or correct him. Her eyes darted back and forth between the drawers and him two or three times before shrugging her shoulders and flashing a wide, airy grin; as good a signal as any for the rascal to do as he pleased.
”Yeah!” the miniature menace cheered before getting in on the action, that action seemingly being to make an considerably bigger mess than her own search had produced. Paint, cloths and random hobbyist tools rapidly found their way to the floor. The boy’s own ransacking produced nothing of worth.
While the Koopaling occupied himself with that, Hat Kid’s attention went elsewhere. Her forced smile was replaced with a look of curiosity when a previously overlooked detail attracted her sight, with her presence short to follow. It seemed she preoccupied herself so much with looking for something hidden that she almost skipped over what wasn’t. She strolled over to the desk and stood up in the chair to get a better look at what lay atop it, which looked to be a largely uncharted world map with its entire center blank and most of the minor areas--besides the one they were in--unnamed. It wasn’t like her to (near) miss something as obvious and crucial as this, but it wasn’t a point of pride for her that could be hurt. All the same, she was glad to have found something of such great use during her random search, having conducted it with minimal expectation.
The small turtle dragon’s head popped out of a closet that he was investigating to finally introduce himself “I’m Bowser Jr by the way... Also what were you even looking for?” he asked, the initial rush of rule breaking adrenalin having seemingly worn off rather quickly. Kid’s eyes remained studiously affixed to the parchment as she tried to learn as much as she could from it, not intending to ignore Jr.’s question in her concentration. She lamented the fact that she didn’t have her Camera Badge on her anymore so she could simply save her own “digital” copy of it rather than having to rely on the fragile, primitive material that made it up. ”Hay. I’m talking to you!” said jr, a rather annoyed at being unintentionally ignored, as he climbed up beside her. She gestured with her head for him to come take a look, hoping he may have some insight to offer, this being his home and all. “What. Was it this map you were looking for?” he squinted at it a bit “Either they rebuilt the entire mushroom kingdom or this map is terrible.” he said at last, his tone indicating that the first option was just as possible as the latter.
Then, it hit her. How much help was a map going to be if it wasn’t accurate. One didn’t learn what they needed to from a map simply by staring at it. This could just as easily be a map of the Old World, as far as she knew, and at present, she could see only one way of confirming one or the other. She directed her gaze to the window while she processed this thought before taking off towards it in a light run, flinging the panes open, and jumping up out of it, leaving the map on the desk for lack having anywhere on her person to safely keep it.
“Wait, where are you going? Hello? Guess I’ll just keep the map then, how do you like that huh? Hello.” came the shouts of Bowser Jr from the window followed by a soft disappointed “aw” before he disappeared from view. The girl single-mindedly continued her ascent, jumping, climbing, and wall running until she reached the highest point on the tallest spire that she could gain a foothold on. Once there, she would scan the horizon as far into it as she was able to get some visual confirmation on the surrounding world and see how it lined up in accordance with what she memorized from the map. Specifically, she was interested in the blank space that lay at the center of the continent. What lied in that direction that the map somehow couldn’t tell her about.
All her effort turned out wasted--she couldn’t possibly miss what lay before her. Behind Peach’s Castle, beyond the elaborate gardens just behind -or more accurately, cutting them off at about the eight percent mark- was absolutely nothing. It wasn’t like a natural cliff overlooking a valley or basin; it was like the world simply ceased to exist, and beyond that, there lay only space. Nothing could be seen across the vast gulf of the opposite side, or of the bottom, though Hat Kid’s position didn’t allow a straight view downward. To say that only murky blackness filled the void, though, would be dishonest. From her vantage point, the child could see a number of floating objects, from what could only be asteroids to what appeared to be pieces of spacefaring vessels to miniature cosmic bodies, like stars and planets. It was as though a handful of the celestial beyond had been plucked from the heavens and laid to rest in the continent’s center.
In other directions, Hat Kid could spot various landmarks confirming the map’s veracity. To the southwest lay a great forest, dark but vibrant and alive. Mountains stood to the west, and where they didn’t block her view, glimpses of a glittering blue ocean could be caught. In the east loomed cities of gray, black, brown, and green, and beyond them still a huge, sandy wasteland with spires, cliffs, and plateaus reaching high into the sky. Toward the northwest, snowy peaks stood tall. A brave new world stretched out before her.
Kid looked on in every direction with great awe at what she beheld. While she didn’t have the best view of the world one could ask for, there was still an appreciable level of majesty on display from where she stood. As unnatural as it was, there was something breathtakingly surreal about having so many biomes and subworlds--which included the cosmos itself--all within reach of one another. To think that one could travel on foot for a full day (less by other means) and make it to space (part of it anyways), the sea, or anywhere else. However, the beauty of this geographical phenomenon didn’t detract from the reality of it; that it was but a patchwork of stolen worlds Frankensteined together by some faceless god that unilaterally, arbitrarily decided they were all better off being its divine plaything. Which reminded her, she still didn’t have much of a clear grasp of what was going on or why. She still needed to get some answers from the Master, but she had some other things she wanted to check on first.
She climbed back down to the open window she had left out of only to look inside and find Jr. and the map gone. No matter. This wouldn’t set her back any, and she knew where to look if she needed to find them again. She peered down at the moat where her ship lay--likely unoperational--and remembered something important, besides the fact that she’ll need it to function again later. She picked out a jumping off point and opted for the quickest way down, diving off the rooftops into waters that held her vessel afloat. After a second, she resurfaced to swim over to the ship’s door she had left open and pulled herself inside, sparing no bother to dry off after she entered. To say the least, it was disheartening to set her ship in such sorry condition and disarray… compared to its usual self at least. The relics were strewn in pieces around the room, the tv was smashed in from when it came unplugged and made it to the opposite wall, and Rumbi, having miraculously survived the crash, was still hard at work bumping into all of it to keep the floors clean, like any good slave vacuum would do. After making a guesstimated mental checklist of all the extra work she would have to do later, she set to searching the ship for anything of use or value that she might have left on it… starting with the vault.
For a few moments, Michael and Franklin simply sat and observed the people around them. Soon enough, a few of the strange mushroom people arrived, setting down a plate of sandwiches in front of them. "Ah, thank you." Michael said, as Franklin simply gave a respectful nod. Almost as soon as the plate was placed down, Michael picked up one of the sandwiches and dug in, finishing it in a matter of seconds. "Ohh, that's good..."
Franklin took a sandwich as well, eating it slowly as Michael already got started on his second. "Chill, fatass." He let out a chuckle, taking his time to enjoy the food.
"Fuck off, I'm hungry." He proceeded to shove the last of the second sandwich down his mouth, chewing before continuing. "Seriously, I've been running around since I got here, and I haven't eaten anything since breakfast." He picked up a third sandwich, turning around as the woman in the kitchen yelled at Bowser for being in the way, and telling him to find his son. Well, remind me not to get on her bad side... He took a large bite of his third sandwich, chewing as he considered what to talk about next. "So...what do you think about the group? You should get an opportunity to introduce yourself soon enough."
Franklin turned to look at Blazermate and Ratchet working on machines behind him, before turning back to Michael and leaning in somewhat. "Uhh...they're something, all right. If you told me yesterday I'd be working with a bunch of weird aliens and robots and shit, I'd say you're crazy, but...they seem alright, I guess." He looked around the room for a moment before continuing. "You seem to trust 'em, so I'll take your word for it."
Bowser found himself back in the foyer, having been kicked out of the kitchen by the tiny angry chef lady. Technically he’d excused himself to go look for his son as per her suggestion, but mainly he’d just wanted to get away from the fiery eyed cook without admitting that she’d scared the bejesus out of him. Still, she did have a point. Jr was probably somewhere in here if his doppelganger words had held any truth and Kamek was also around according to Geno.
Fortunately he did not have to look far for them as fate decided to contrive a reunion right there and then. Kamek, Bowser’s chief magikoopa, adviser and foster father all in one, showed up just moments later as he exited the dungeon now found beneath the castle. The old magi-koopa looked rather confused at having found himself in peach’s castle, but perked up visibly at the sight of his King/son.
“KAMEK! There you are!” Bower said as his loyal servant hurried over to bow before him ”Sire! I’m at your service, though I’m afraid to admit I’m not to sure what is going on. I came to in my laboratory that was filled with a mess of useless junk. Then after i cleaned up I found that the lab was in a dungeon that's also under peach’s castle. I have no idea how it got there. Did we move here recently? I fear my age is catching up with me.” Kamek looked rather worried, as was to be expected of someone who thought they might be suffering from the onset of dementia.
“No, no. your fine. The whole memory fuzziness your getting is pretty normal” Bowser partially explained
Before Kamek could ask for clarification however Bowser spotted someone very important coming down the stairs while carrying a map and looking rather disgruntled.
“Jr!” Bowser shouted jubilantly at the sight of his son, giving the boy a far more emotional reunion than he had his adoptive father as he stomped over, picked Jr up and hugged him against his shoulder. Jr for his part was a little surprised by the intensity of the greeting, but got into it regardless, hugging the king back and accompanying the embrace with a a jubilant ”Papa!”
The embrace lasted only a few moments before Bowser put his son done again, telling him that “I’m so glad your ok!”
”Uh, you too?” Jr said just a little confused by the implication that he had been in danger before adding ”Did I miss a lot after the army of hands fight? My memories a bit fuzzy after that.”
”Please Sire, it would be very helpful if you filled us in as to what is going on.” Kamek said to Bowser after he caught up, adding his weight to the princes’ question in a hope to get it answered.
“Oh right. Plot summary time. So while we were attacking the mushroom kingdom we got interrupted by this call to go fight an army of master hands. Smash-bros business. Always weird.” Bowser began explaining
”Dad I know this already” Jr butted in
“Yeah but Kamek doesn't. I’ll get to the new stuff soon. So turns out there's loads of hands and they were controlled by a big winged orb thing called Galeem and… you remember how I told you about that blue guy with the wings that controlled the master hand last time? Tattoo or something?”
”Tabuu was it not? He stole parts of the world using subspace bombs and stuck them together into a great maze. Has this Galeem done the same?” Kamek said, remembering the debriefing he had had the king give when he had gotten back fro that particular endeavor. He’d had to go do a lot of follow up research afterwards because the king’s storytelling ability was rather lacking.
“Kinda? But they’ve done the same thing thing using everything ever, blasting it all and then sticking it all back together however they want. Galeem’s also taken over the minds of everyone ever. Makes them more aggressive mostly, but they're also perosnaly empower or controlling a few. They've got these 13 bosses stopping us from just going over and smashing them right away coz their powering some magic shield or something. So I’ve gotten this slap dash army of, bleh, heros working for me to take them all down. We already beat up some doppelganger of me to free this place, and you, of Galeem’s power, so now we only gotta take down 12 more. Then we can kick Galeem’s butt, put everything back to where it belongs, and then finally we can go home and get back to business as usual.”
”I see. This is all is most concerning. Thank you for this explanation sire. May I ask who told you all this?” Kamek asked, sussing out immediately that the king would have never done the research or investigation necessary to figure out some of these details
“Some Guy called the Master of Masters. Wears a black leather robe and you cant see his face. Carries a massive key. Never shuts up. You can't miss him.”
”That’s such a dumb name. Who does this ‘Master’ guy think he is?” Jr said. He’d sat down on the stairs and zoned out for a lot of the explanation until hearing the Master’s name. Everyone nodded, agreeing it was a pretentious name. Only one of them actually knew the word pretentious however.
”I’ll keep an eye out for this ‘Master’ then. Do you know where these other 12 bosses are Sire?” Kamek asked.
“Nope! No idea where anything is in this mixed up place.” The king admitted.
”Hey dad? Maybe this will help?” Jr said, pulling the map out from under his arm and passing it to Bowser. The Koopa king unrolled it and then squinted at the tiny (compared to him) piece of parchment. “Hmmm. Yeah I can’t read this. Kamek, deal with it.” he said, tossing it over to the magi-koopa, who unfurled it and began to study it.
“I got some other things to explain anyway. Also gifts!” Jr, who had been a touch dejected by his father's reaction to the map perked up visibly at the mention of gifts “These are sprites” he explained, retrieving the jar containing the two bloopers from his pockets “You can crush them to get items and weapons, or absorb them to get power, knowledge or to use them as minions. Here, try squeezing these and see what you get.” he said, tipping the two sprites into the princes waiting hands. As Jr eagerly crushed the two bloopers Kamek, who had paid more attention to this explanation than the map, noticed the rest of the contents of Bowser’s pockets, namely the numerous Koopa and Goomba Sprites.
”Sire are those...?” he asked with concern
“Ah. Yeah. Galeem makes people super aggressive. They attacked so I, you know… I’m glad beating the faker freed you guys. I found out later you can also free people using 'friend hearts' which I would have done for you, though you need to weaken people before you use those. Still, even these sprites aren't gone for good, you can do this” Bowser snapped his fingers and caused Sledge, Mallet and Heel to appear before him. The trio bowed, Heel with far less sincerity than his comrades. “Can’t bring that many of them back, but a few can be used as these ‘Strikers’” he explained, before ordering them to “ go collect your stuff while your out!”
As the trio scampered away Bowser plucked a Goomba sprite out of his pocket and turned to his son “Jr! Catch this one and try and turn this into a ‘striker’ like those three. Just order them to appear and they’ll obey you.”
Jr caught the Goomba sprite and looked at a little disappointed ”Just one Goomba?” he asked
“Yeah I know, but that's how it works apparently. I mean the hammer bros came in a pair but…” Bowser began but Jr had mostly ignored this explanation and had instead run up to his father's side. There they jumped up to the pocket containing the Goombas and yelled at them ”Hey you lazy Goombas! Quit free loading my dads pockets and get out here!”
Much to everyone's surprise this worked, the minions’ sprites surging out of the pocket and into Jr. ”Wow, wow, wow!” Jr cried in shock, his arms spinning, before falling down to the floor.
“Jr!” ”Young master!” his father and grandfather cried, concerned for the boy’s safety. Jr for his part shook his head for a moment to clear it and then snapped his fingers like his father had while calling out ”Goomba Swarm, Chain Chomp formation!” causing an absolute tone of Goombas to appear before him in the same manner that strikers did. The stunty monsters looked a little confused for a moment before they all bowed before the royal family.
“Ha Ha! That's my boy! Breaking all the rules like a proper villain” Bowser congratulated Jr, before telling him: “Now do the same with the Koopas.”
A few moments and dozens of sprites later the Goombas where joined by an equally large band of Koopas. All where arrayed before Jr and his proud father. “Great work Jr. now, three more things, First, Strikes can be de-summoned in the same way as they’re summoned.” he explained and then paused to let Jr try it.
”Koopa troop! Goomba Swarm. Dismissed!” Jr ordered, causing the minion army to poof back into sprite form and zoom back to him.
“Good. Secondly they have a limited summoning time, so only bring them out when you know you need to use them. Finally, strikers can't die, they can only be forcibly un-summoned. if their time's up or they die you have to wait a bit before you can use them again.” Bower said, finishing his explanation.
”Got it Papa.” ”Very good Sire.” his subordinates/family responded.
“Now. That more than enough tutorializing for one day. Peach is making dinner for everyone and I am starving. They must be nearly done in the kitchen by now.” Bowser said, before turning and making his way back to the place he had just been kicked out of.
“HAY. YEAH DON’T WORRY WE’RE JUST GOING OVER THERE” Bowser said as he pointed over to the dining table to head off any mama rage. He shuffled over to the mostly empty part of the room, followed by Kamek and Jr after shot their mandatory antagonistic glares at Mario.
They all found seats apart from Kamek, who now had finally taken time to inspect the map now that the sprite explanation was over.
”This is an excellent find young master.” he told Jr as he read it.
”Yeah it is!” Jr espoused before glanced over at Peach. ”I saved it from Peaches room. Some kid in a hat was making a mess up there, but I chased her off and got the map she was trying to steal first. Then I, uh, held onto it for safekeeping.” he said, shunting the blame for the mess he’d made onto the hat-girl that had ignored him. No one in the koopa clan called him out on this bluff.
”Sire let me show you this at a more you-appropriate scale” Kamek said, before before waving his wand at the map. A brief burst of magic took hold, causing the map to expand many times over in size so that it ended up needing to be leaned against the dining room wall of the Kitchen. He ensured it was well clear of any fire hazards and visible to anyone else who might join them at the table.
”So.” Kamek said, who mounted his broom and then flew up to hover next to the map so he could point things out as he spoke of them ”You said there were 13 bosses correct Sire? Well there are 14 named locations on this map. So it is probably safe to say that each one has a boss in them, baring one. Have you been to any of these places yet sire? Other than the castle of course.”
“Yeah. The 1-1 place down there. Yeesh. It's pretty titchy looking on the map and it took us hours to walk and fight through all that. This is going to take a while.” Bowser explained and complained simultaneously.
”and no Boss’s were encountered there?” Kamek asked
Bowser shook his head “Just a mini boss. Not the same power level as the fake me.”
”Excellent. Then that's one boss per named location other than 1-1. Hopefully inside notable landmarks on the map like this temple” Kameck indicated to the structure in the Sand Swept Desert ”or this castle” he indicated to the large structure at the north of the Swordlands.
“All right.” Bowser said, not quite following why he was being told this.
”So we have destinations, now all we need to do is chart a course too them.” Kamek explained.
“Which is going to take forever” Bowser groaned
”We’ll figure something out. Maybe we can get ships from the Edge of the Blue?” he suggested, pointing at what might be a port found just beyond the dark forest ”It also means that once you’ve beat the boss of a zone we more or less know that we can ignore any unexplored parts of a region, at least when it comes to our primary objective, which should save us a lot of time.”
Meanwhile the King’s sprites had also returned, lugging the various equipment they had dropped earlier through the kitchen. Sledge and Heel dumped the mostly empty minigun and Slice Cutter in a corner, along with the deceased Zer0’s Synapse and then disappeared, but Mallet remained for a few moments longer.
While Kamek and Bowser went over the map Mallet approached Bowser Jr and presented the Necro smasher to him, saying “Prince Bowser Jr, I think you might like this?”
”A wooden mallet? Really? At least give me one of your metal ones!” Jr complained, looking at the wooden hammer with disdain.
“Ah, but your scariness, I believe it can repair damaged machines just by hitting them, as well as acting as a weapon. You being so fond of of them I thought…” he explain before the mallet was snatched from his hands while he was still speaking.
”Why didn’t you say so in the first place!” Jr admonished the unfortunate hammer bro, while doing a few practice swings. ”Shame I don't have anything to use it on, like a cool mech” he complained
“Well. There is a whole junk yard outside… maybe there's something out there?” Mallet suggested..
”Junkyard. Yeesh. What's kinda junk is in it?” Bowser Jr asked
“Karts mainly” Malet admitted. Jr was not really impressed.
Kamek however seemed interested enough to interjected himself into this conversation. ”Karts did you say? Racing Karts?”
“Yeah there’s a loaded of them all stacked up. Would be real useful if they worked now that I think about it. Stop us having to trudge through all of that.” Bowser said, vaguely waving at the blown up map.
”Then I’m gonna go and fix those karts!” Jr announced. When he attempted to run off to do just that however he was by his father.
“Hang on hang on. First off there's Angry robots and Raving Rabbids out there so it’s dangerous to go running out there alone. Second of all dinner’s almost done. Eat first,adventure and tinkering second. ok?” he said in a fatherly tone
”Yes papa” Jr said disappointingly
“Good lad.” Bowser said, gently ruffling the boy’s hair, before turning his attention to the hero's hanging around the room and pointing at the map. “YOU LOT. WE’RE GOING TO FIX UP SOME RIDES SO WE CAN TRAVEL THROUGH ALL THAT FASTER! SO EAT UP AND THEN GEAR UP FOR SOME BACKTRACKING.”
Mallet proofed himself just a few moments later while Kamek landed and put aside his broom so he could take a seat at the table. He left the map scaled up however, meaning it was still available for inspection by the others.
Blinking, Poppi ran over what Linkle told her in her head. The others had been like her at some point, forced to fight against their wills? But few -if any- of them appeared to be machines like her. That could only mean that the power of the entity called Galeem affected all manner of beings, regardless of what they were. Rather than mind control or hacking, it constituted something altogether higher and more threatening—and more poignantly for Poppi, it didn't hold any special significance for her versus her living allies. While certainly a frightening thought in some ways, it somehow made her feel more at peace in others. After a moment or two, the artificial blade looked up. “...Oh. If everyone susceptible, and not just Poppi, feel less bad about.” For the first time, she seemed to realize that Linkle had been offering her a hand to shake. Mustering a smile, she placed her metal mitt in the girl's. “Nice to meet Linkle. Please call Poppi Poppi,” she requested, as though her usage of the Nopon dialect didn't make her name one-hundred-percent obvious.
A moment later Poppi got to her feet, and shook the water from one leg, then the other. “Thank you for meeting,” she remarked as she did, “Now Poppi feel silly for getting worried while lacking info.” After she finished, her face grew solemn again. She looked Linkle in the eye and told her in a low, urgent tone, “But...if Poppi ever do go berserk and start to do bad thing...friends might get hurt. Tora might get hurt. Maybe better off if Poppi destroyed.” She stared back into the water, only for Hat Kid to plunge headlong into it the next moment, sending ripples across its surface. Alarmed, the blade reached out a hand toward the child, but the girl swam steadfastly toward her floating ship and climbed inside. Within, the spacefarer would find a vault with only two of her forty timepieces remaining, meaning another collect-a-thon in store. “Huh. Hattypon good swimmer,” Poppi observed. While her earlier statement hadn't been forgotten, she didn't know what else to do about that feeling at the moment, so she started back toward the castle's doors. “Regardless, things okay for now. Should go back to Masterpon.” A few steps later she turned about, glancing back at Linkle. “Coming, friend?”
Level 4 Tora - (14/40) EXP Location: Peach's Castle Kitchen Word Count: 887
Though a little jealous of Blazermate and Ratchet, who got to tinker and engineer while he cooked, Tora didn't want to let Cooking Mama down, and he especially didn't want to make her angry after her chastisement of Bowser. He minded the stovetop for a while, flipping and seasoning when necessary, until he judged the meat done and scooped it off onto a plate. He took a deep sniff while holding the finished product, and exclaimed, “Ooh, wonderful fishy smell! Tora can hardly wait to chow down!” After heading to the chef for further instruction, he took the meat to a prep station, where Toads were busy putting together various foods on a number of plates. Tora watched at first, then lent a wing to get his sizzling fish ready for eating. As much as his mouth watered just thinking about it, more remained to be done before everyone could eat, so the Nopon returned to his station with a spring in his step as though his enthusiasm could cook the meat faster.
Before too long, Peach placed the article of food on the final plate, and stood back from a countertop blanketed in delicious-looking dishes. Among them were her very own grilled vegetable kebabs, promising to thrill the tastebuds of any vegetarian, and tender vegetable stew. Tora's grilled fish stood out as one of the largest meat servings available, though less committed seafood lovers could also try the tender steamed fish, or the meticulously-prepared crab. There were also breaded pork cutlets with tomato sauce, roast stew with an excellent texture, mouth-watering skewers, a mushroomy chicken saute, hefty rib steaks, pizza, and more. So tantalizing was the smorgasbord that few could take their eyes off it; more or less everyone had appeared for the meal, including those left indisposed during the Megadragonbowser fight, like the Kid, Banjo and Kazooie, Junkrat, and Roadhog. The princess looked thrilled, and with a ring of the dinner bell declared open season on the assembled feast.
Tora,at the forefront of the gathered crowd, wasted no time grabbing a plate of fish. Out of habit he reached for the pizza too, but at last second changed his mind and snapped up a dish of skewers. Hurrying through the crowd, he made his way to the large dining table and clambered up into a high chair designed for a toad, which ended up with him a little higher than he needed to be, though he didn't particularly care. His one-track mind urged him to pull off pieces of fish by the hunk and wolf them down, but the sight of an approaching figure stopped the hungry Nopon in his tracks. “Poppi!” he sang, delighted to see her smiling again. “How are you? Everything goody-good?”
The artificial blade nodded. “All goody-good, Masterpon.” She looked at all the food. “Looks like Tora will be overeating again.”
Sputtering, Tora waved a wing dismissively. “Pfff! As if such thing were possible for Tora! But here, take look at this!” Without even having a bite himself, Tora pushed his plate of fish over to Poppi, who hopped up into a chair beside him. “Tora know that Poppi love food smells. Made this myself, you know! Am super-good chef!”
With a wry smile Poppi pulled the plate over, saying, “Very sudden change of pace for renowned microwave aficionado.” She allowed her olfactory sensors to take the dish in, and found herself nodding in satisfaction. Once she pushed the plate back over, Tora dug in with reckless abandon. “Despite odds, very nice smell indeed.” While the Nopon preoccupied himself with the seafood, Poppi reached for a skewer to take a whiff of it, too.
Like the others, they took note of the map brought in by Bowser, a cute little mini-Bowser, and their sorcerous koopa adviser.
Though highly lacking in specificity, the map seemed to cover the whole region, with Peach's Castle in the center below a huge, blank spot. Nobody could be sure of the exact scale, or whether things on the map were scaled appropriately to one another in the first place, but given the relative size of 1-1 the region seemed pretty expansive. Tora took a break from his second skewer to comment, “Place seem really huge. Much bigger than any Titan. Would take incredibly long time to get around to all hotspots.” He used his half-eaten skewer as a point, indicating first the Dark Forest and Under, then the Land of Adventure and Dead Zone. “But if split in half, whole team could go either way around and meet at top. If Tora know anything, know that 'City Without Name' serious endgame place.” He shrugged as best one could without a neck or shoulders, returning to his food. “But that just suggestion.” He glanced at Bowser following his announcement of a kart-retrieval mission, and would have shouted out that he'd like to go if his mouth wasn't full.
All the while, the Master of Masters leaned against the wall by the door. He nibbled at a kebab, the food turning as dark as his hidden face the moment it neared his invisible lips. Kirby stood nearby on a countertop, steadfastly devouring peelings, cut-off ends, overcooked bits, extra ingredients, and anything anyone cared to give him, like a living garbage disposal. The little guy sure could eat.
The sun sliding farther toward the horizon painted a pretty picture, visible in all its glory from the rounded top of one of the old Mushroom Kingdom's colorful, zigzag-patterned, nigh-cylindrical 'hills'. From this vantage point, much of this region of the New World could be seen, from the rocky barrens to the south to the desert of the east to the northwest's frigid peaks. A quick look over the should confirmed the presence of the dark forest, its leafy green sea stretching all the way to the sparkling ocean. The woman atop the hill breathed a heavy sigh; so far a cry was this from the muddled nightmare she'd left behind.
The noise prompted a look from the man to her right, though his black hood obscured his features. He lost interest quickly and returned to watching Peach's Castle, idling all the while. He seemed unable to stand still, instead rising up and down by bending his knees while his fists lay on his hips. For her part, the woman did her best to ignore him.
Their mutual annoyance came to an end as an inky plume arose behind them. The air whirled and collapsed in on itself, forming a dark gateway, and through it marched a third figure clad in black. Together the odd pair turned to face him, and he looked between them curiously.
“...Well, enough standin' around all goonish-like then, spit it out already!” he encouraged, his deep voice a remarkably casual drawl.
Ceasing his idling, the energetic man held up a hand, palm-up, ready to explain with theatrical aplomb. However, his acquaintance cut in before him. Her musical voice was smooth as silk, bearing a curious accent. “He left it in the bedroom of the princess. The seekers have it by now; I watched the spawn of the reptile take it just a few moments ago.
A chuckle issued from the newcomer's hood. “Pff! Aren't we making it a bit too obvious?”
After casting a sidelong glance at his interrupter, the other man propped up his hands on his lapel and gave a toothy smirk. “Hohoho! You ain't got a good look at them seekers, see? Dumber'n a bag o' rocks, and twice as slow! They ain't goin' nowhere if we don't spell it out!”
“Heh,” the newcomer snickered. “Fair enough. But let's not forget how strong a couple of idiots can be. Boss told be 'bout a time a few someones rained on your parade...”
Balling his fists, the other clenched his teeth. “Why, you...!”
Dispassionate and distant, the woman cut in once again. “If they waver from the path set before them, we will correct their course. Until then...” She trailed off, and with a final glance at the skyline of the New World, turned away. Another dark portal appeared, and into it she vanished without a trace.
Huffing, the short-tempered one tugged on his collar to straighten it. “Hmph! Anklin' on back to the ocean, I'll bet. Awright, enough bumpin' gums. All the sharks where they oughta?”
With a grin the newcomer stepped backward, a corridor flaring up behind him. “All but you, buddy. Better hustle on over.” The next second, he was gone, and the last of the three left soon after.
“Most of them are here, I think. Yoshi's out back...”
Mario's face perked up upon hearing that name. He didn't necessarily expect his green ally of his - and make-shift steed - to be around these parts. Yoshi's own Island, maybe, but not here. Then again, it wouldn't surprise him either, as he reminisced about the time he found him sleeping on the roof of this exact castle.
He continued listening to Peach.
“Luigi is probably still cleansing the library,"
The plumber's face lit up in joy as he instinctually made a sudden happy jump, throwing his fist in the air in excitement. Yet recognizing his somewhat awkward action, he chuckled bashfully before scratching the back of his head.
"Oh Excellent-a!" he happily responded, "I was-a-worried that something unfortunate-a-had become of him."
Indeed, he was quite relieved to see that his younger brother hadn't gone very far. Although Luigi wasn't necessarily the type of person to go out on many quests alone, saving the several exceptions in which included visiting a haunted mansion thrice and how he took a balloon tour around the world shortly after Mario returned from his Odyssey. With those exceptions, Luigi was reluctant to go on such adventures, let alone by himself. Mario even feared that he might've been kidnapped and that he'd have to go looking for him. Nevertheless, he will have to see him as soon as he can.
"And I would imagine Wario's having the time of his life in the treasury." She then wrinkled her nose as if displeased with the thought. "“As if I needed another reason to avoid working with money."
Mario's left eyebrow rose up at such a casual mentioning.
"He's-a-here as well?" he asked with an odd look, "And as-a-the head of-a-the treasury? Ohhh, why am I not-a-surprised."
That one was a bit of a curve ball. As far as he knew, his doppelgänger had only visited the castle once. The time he did come, he was invited alongside Mario and Luigi to come over for cake (and as why Peach chose Wario to come is still a mystery to him, as he always thought it was an odd choice), only for them to get captured and trapped in doors. If it weren't for Yoshi's curiosity getting the best of him, they definitely wouldn't be here. But since then, he didn't seem to return. So now to find out that he's working for Peach in the treasury was odd.
Regardless, that was the least of his worries.
"As for Daisy, Rosalina...I have no idea. They must not be around here.”
"Hmmm," the plumber wondered as he brushed his mustache, "I suppose they are located else-a-where? Regardless, we will-a-hopefully find them upon our travels-a. Thank-a-you, Princess."
Mario bowed, tipping his crimson hat, before he dashed to the library. He moved quickly on the red carpet and up the marble stairs, his mind fixated on the room that he knows by heart. The fact that he had traversed these halls for countless of times allowed him to see and know every nook and cranny within this grandiose castle. As he made it up, he paused to see Bowser reuniting with his son down at the ground floor. He seemed to make an attempt to frown at the two, but alas he couldn't bring himself to do so. Something about a father reuniting with his child was something too wholesome for him to frown upon. Perhaps this was something he felt similarly as to how he and Luigi often react after being separated for long periods. He smiled at their reunion before heading off again.
Eventually, he made his way towards the library and opened the door to the giant shelves that held countless of priceless books.
And standing in the midst of it all, his nose tucked away in a book, was none other than...
"LUIGI!" Mario yelled joyfully as he extended his arms out.
The green stache' immediately closed his book and looked at Mario. His face shined at the very sight of his older brother.
"MARIO!" he screamed ecstatically as he rushed towards him with open arms too.
The two brothers embraced one another, with Mario patting his brother's back as he cried rivers of joy of their glorious reunion. They held onto one another for what seemed to be hours before the younger brother released his grip and sighed towards Mario.
"I'm-a-so relieved that you're ok!" Luigi said in his charmingly nasally voice, tears still dripping from his eye, "What-a-happened to you? Or more importantly, what-a-happened to us? Everything seemed to have changed! I-I remembered that~"
"Lots-a-things happened since-a-then." Mario replied in a somewhat somber tone before taking a step back, "And unfortunately all for-a-the worst."
Luigi's relieved smile soon disappeared upon the notion, feeling the weight of his brother's emotions. Their brotherly bond was just that powerful - powerful enough to know when one felt off. And at that point, the green stache already figured how bad the news was going to be.
"O-Oh..." he sputtered, "Lemme guess-a. Those-a-hands we saw and that big-a-glowing sphere floating in the sky?"
Figuring that he spoke the obvious, Luigi then went straight to the chase.
"How bad is it-a?"
Mario simply nodded as he tilted his head down. "Whole-a-world has gone to goomba shit-a due to them - Galeem is the big sphere's name-a-supposedly."
He then glanced back at his brother.
"What-a-happened to you?" he asked bluntly, "How did-a-you find yourself here?"
Luigi took a minute to recall the events that had transpired. "W-Well-a-if I had to be frank-a-Mario, I do not-a-know. One moment I was looking at this Galeem with-a-you guys and the next thing I know is just... n-nothing-a. Everything went white. I don't-a-recollect as how I got here and what I did-a. The only thing I remember is-a-finding myself face-first on the floor and having the urge-a-to read as if nothing happened."
He paused before pointing his finger at Mario.
"And you?" he asked.
"I don't-a-remember either." the older brother sighed, "But-a-according to the survivors downstairs, I-a-was entrapped within a trophy. I... I was-a-freed and I suppose I was-a-evil because I started fighting Geno who was trying to-a-save me and~"
"Geno?" Luigi interrupted before a light-bulb seemed to ignite above him, "You-a-mean, the wooden puppet Geno that you once went on an adventure with? He's here?"
Again, the red-cladded plumber nodded. "He's-a-alive. So is the Princess."
The green stache' sighed relievingly at the good news.
"Oh good..." he replied while airing his neck collar, "I was-a-afraid that Bowser had attempted to kidnap-a-her or something again."
"He's-a-also here." Mario directly replied, "And his son apparently."
Luigi's eyes widened at the "totally terrible" news.
"THEN WHY-A-YOU'RE HERE?!" he screamed in a fit of panic, "QUICK! WE GOTTA SAVE PEACH-A-BEFORE THEY~!"
"Shhhhhh," his brother hissed through his teeth as he calmed Luigi down, "Don't-a-worry. They're-a-on our side now. If-a-you want more confirmation, we just-a-fought an evil Bowser with wings and lava pouring outta his-a-skin. He's-a-dead now. Don't-a-worry."
Luigi proceeded to calm down, taking in large deep breaths, before he gained his composure to speak once more.
"O-Oh oh... *Phew*" he sighed, his hands still shaking from the initial adrenaline rush, "T-That's also good, I-I think."
Mario patted his brother on the shoulder before guiding him towards the exit.
"Come." red stache softly gestured, "Lets-a-meet up with the others. We have yet another long adventure to embark on."
Luigi simply smiled before patting his back with a slowly-growing confident smile.
"With-a-you by my side, Mario, I'm-a-ready for whatever it takes."
Gene watched as Blazermate introduced herself and asked if he wanted some food. He felt his mouth watering again, looking longingly at the kitchen, but he shook his head. He needed some answers first. Then, he'd gorge himself on all the fruit his stomach could handle without bursting. So, with a heavy heart, Gene simply shook his head at the offer. "Nice to meet you too Miss Robot. Thanks for the offer, but I need to get some answers first. Food can wait." With that, the healer bot went on her way, and Gene turned back to Spyro.
He listened intently to Spyro as the dragon answered his questions and introduced himself as well. The dragon was just about to get into what had happened to everyone, when a wooden puppet interjected. Gene looked him over, curious, as he explained what had happened. "Galeem, eh? I've dealt with some big bad demons in my time, and this guy sounds just like someone like King Angra. Seeing as it's the only way back home, I'd be willing to help you guys out... So long as you don't threaten to chop my arm off. Last person I was working for did that on the daily." He shuddered slightly, remembering Olivia. He'd have to find out what happened to her.
Still, he put that aside for now and turned back to the purple dragon. "Didn't have time to answer ya, but you were asking why I'm called the God Hand right?" Seeing the dragon nod, Gene's cocky grin returned tenfold, and he patted his right arm with a chuckle. "This bad boy right here is the God Hand. And with it, I'm capable of unleashing some slick moves." He once again demonstrated his combat prowess by doing some air boxing, mixing up his standard combo with a few more of his standard moves. It had been a while since he performed any of these techniques, but once it came down to it he was still a natural.
"Best part about it? I can learn even more slick moves! All I need to do is find a scroll depicting the move and I learn it, just like that. Before I found myself here, I even had over a hundred techniques memorized!" He paused, then continued dejectedly, "But now I only have a few in my arsenal... Kinda sucks, but I can live with it for now. Just hope the next bad guy we fight will drop a few moves for me."
At that moment, the lovely fumes from the kitchen wafted into the throne room, and Gene felt his mouth watering again despite himself. Man, he needed some grub. "Uh, hope you two don't mind me cutting this short, but I'm so hungry I could eat a poison chihuahua. If you wanna keep talking, you can follow me, I'm going to the kitchen." With that, the fighter went on his way to the kitchen.
Once he reached the kitchen, the fighter looked around, seeing the middle aged guy in the suit alongside the younger guy he was with from earlier. Alongside those two, he spotted the little onion thing, Tora if he remembered, alongside a small woman in an apron and a little pink ball looking thing that was laying on the countertop eating food. Finally, he noticed the robot, Blazermate, fixing something up with a... Cat person? At least that's what it looked like. They were fixing up something that Gene would never be able to wrap his head around, so he decided to simply move on and go get some grub.
He approached the counter, taking a look at all the delicacies on display. Oh jeez, his mouth was watering again... Still, he held himself back, picking up an orange from a fruit bowl. Peeling the orange carefully, he looked around, and decided it'd be best to at least say something to all the people in the kitchen. So he cleared his throat and began to speak, "Uh, hey everybody. I'm Gene. Y'know, the guy who kinda ran into the throne room and kicked the lizard guy in the face... Er, anyway, I was kinda sorta under the influence of that Galeem guy, but I'm on your guys' side now! So it's nice to meet you all, and I'm looking forward to kicking a bunch of ass with all of you!"
Maybe that could've gone better. Ah well. He finished peeling the orange, and took a greedy bite out of the fruit, letting out a soft moan of pleasure. No matter how many times he ate an orange, it always felt like the first time.
Level 3 - (2/30) EXP (still thinking of what new power to get) Location: MegaDragonBowser castle Word Count: 334
Centurion had been stuffing his now much larger mouth with food, he had a seemingly endless appetite. He ate cleanly and effeciently, wolfing down vegetables and meat like a practiced expert, leaving nary a trace or crumb. His now razor sharp teeth sliced through the food like nothing. Listening intently to the conversation, the large man wiped his mouth with a napkin and leaned back in his small chair, satisfied.
"Well! I say we find this Galeem and strangle him to death with and strangle him to death with his own entrails." He said to the group gathered around in the room. He nodded at Gene, accepting his explanation fully.
"But first, we must elimiante the lieutanents. We don't have to strangle them with their own entrails- we can come up with something else for them. I'm going to the Land of Adventure to kill everything there. I wouldn't want to accidentally burn down the entire Dark Forest. As Tora says, we can split up and cover more ground that way. Time is of the essence. It's important we put as many of these bastards in the ground as fast as possible." He snapped the now dry stick of a kebab between his index and middle finger. He glanced up at Bowser. Agoston's newfound power made him wonder at what the turtle beast felt like all the time. The Centurion had never felt this...big! Were he to return to the Southern Empire now, he would be able to crush the enemies of justice like insects beneath his feet. There would never be a champion as great as he. All the more reason to restore things to what they were as fast as possible.
Anxious and eager, Agoston picked up a glass of water in his palm and began heating it up to watch it boil and evaporate away. He gulped down the steaming liquid and set the glass back down on the table.
"I'm ready to move as soon as possible. So rest quickly."
"Pleasure to meet you Poppi." Linkle said with a smile, clasping one hand over the one Poppi had taken and giving the metal girls hand a good, vigorous shake. She didn't like the girls downcast attitude, but she seemed to be okay for now. It would probably be better for Tora to talk with her about stuff like that.
Which is what Poppi was going to do right now, apparently, as she began strolling back to the castle. She turned to see if Linkle was coming too, but Linkle just cocked her head toward the place where the Kid had plunged into the water with her miraculous dive. "I would, but it looks like I got something else to deal with. I just can't leave anyone alone. It's a heroic curse. You go on ahead, I'll be inside in a minute."
She turned away from the Blade, crossing her arms behind her head and stretching conspicuously casually as she stared into the moat. "Besides, people who actually helped slay that dragon should get first dibs on the victory feast. You deserve it."
She didn't turn to look as Poppi walked back inside. It didn't do anyone any good to see a hero frowning, least of all a girl going through something as heavy as wondering whether you counted as real or not.
Walking over to the busted up bridge, Linkle stepped around the debris and holes that had been blasted it to reach the middle. From here she could just about see through those big windows it had and she tried to enjoy this moment of quiet while she waited and kept watch for any sort of water borne danger.
"Hey. Nice dive!" She called out as soon as she saw the kid coming out of her ship, all smiles again, waving to get her attention. "You find what you were looking for?"
The Courier's mention of bringing Din home with him to help grow crops made Din wonder about herself. Her whole life had been more focused on how not to abuse her powers and how not to let others abuse it, rather than applying it for the greater good. Granted, Hyrule, when in balance and at peace, was a land of plenty, so perhaps there was no reason for her to use her powers other than to simply allow the natural cycle of the seasons to continue. In Hyrule, her duty was inaction, but perhaps in this land thrown into madness, her duty was to intervene with the power that the Goddesses had granted to her.
And as the green dinosaur and large beetle approached, Din thought about something else. Not only should she use her powers for good, but she should also seek to acquire more through the strange rules of spirits that this world followed, as many of her allies had done, though she she still had her doubts about it. She wondered if these creatures could be tamed into pets or allies, but thinking about the dangers they faced made her pull back from that thought; she didn't want to see these two cute animals harmed.
Instead, she cast the spell of spring on a patch of grass and, concentrating a little harder, had the grass weave itself into a basket. She made two baskets, one for herself, and one for the Courier, who had stated his intention to harvest more ingredients. Din felt that it was about time they joined the others at dinner, but after all the warzones, scrapyards, and nonsensical floating blocks, it was calming to stay in the garden just a little while longer, she could bring this basket with her as an apology for being late.
Eventually, Din had filled her basket out with an assortment of fruit and decided to head back to the main hall where the feast was already well underway. Smiling at the group, she placed the basket of fruit on the table closest to whoever seemed the most enthusiastic, and got some food for herself. She peered over at the enlarged map, and listened on the conversation. However, at the suggestion that the party split up, Din had to interject, "I think we should stick together. When we faced our last opponent, there were over a dozen of us, yet we lost two. We can only assume that the others will be as strong, if not stronger. If we split up, we risk losing more allies."
Blazermate, having only recently becoming a gearhead, nodded at Ratchet's words. Although something he said didn't make much sense to her, "Well ya see, I don't need these to teleport two people at once. I just want the two teleporter ends to count ad both entrances and exits. Sure the wormhole might only bring one person from one space to another, so couldn't we just make it so that the wormhole can be opened from either end and put the person on the other platform? It only opens when the teleporter is fully charged as is, and it looks like it needs to charge up between every teleport." Blazermate said, thinking that just modifying what was already there would be easier than just completely remaking the entire thing. Especially since she'd have to figure out how to make the two ends herself in the future.
Seeing Michael and his new friend Franklin looking at Blazermate and Ratchet trying to tweak the teleporter, Blazermate gave them a wave. "Do you two wanna have some fun in the teleporter before we experiment on it?" She said, offering them something that she was sure they hadn't done or seen before. Thinking a bit further ahead, Blazermate told Ratchet she'd be right back as she went into the kitchen to grab a test subject, a loaf of bread, to use for their teleporter. She went for a day old loaf, instead of the fresh loafs that were being made in the kitchen, and soon returned to the lombax. "When we're tinkerin' with something that warps time and space, best to have a test subject." Blazermate said, putting the bread through the teleporter to make sure it could accept it. A flash of light later, and the bread successfully went through the teleporter, 'looking no different at all'.
Location: Peach's Castle, Bridge. Word Count: 2,013
NOTE: The following is a collab between myself and Lugubrious.
Since the passage of heroes, running amok through the hordes of Galeem-touched goombas, koopas, slack-jawed mooks, and various early-game animals, the world of 1-1 lay in a sort of stunned silence--the sort one might fall into after a hefty meal, or taxing exercise. Surviving rabbids milled about, goofing off half-heartedly when not resting. Pokemon retreated to their dens and nests, allowing their fear to fade away before resuming the search for food. Robots returned to the giant slate-blue vehicle by the eastward road leading in to the Scrapyard, where they underwent repairs. Except for the tremors and roars still resounding from the heart of Peach’s Castle every so often, all was quiet.
Some time after the final calamitous bellow shook the fortress of the Mushroom Kingdom’s princess, a lone figure emerged from the shadows of the dark forest in the west.
Donnie made his way out of the forest, onto a road in World 1-1. Galeem’s forces were in a panic, but what was he supposed to do about it? His powers had been sealed to a fraction of a percent of what he used to be capable of. He was slower, weaker, knew less than he should. He didn’t even remember how to cook for the gods’ sake!
But still, he needed to find out what was going on, even if defeat was nigh. So, with a heavy heart, he made his way down the road to Peach’s castle, a blur of wind and lightning. The route brought him across a bridge just beyond the treeline, taking him over the moat that surrounding his destination. Halfway across, however, he discovered that he wasn’t the only one on the way to the Castle.
A billowing head of white hair fluttered in the wind, the back of its owner facing Donnie for a moment. Then, the figure turned around, exposing unnatural black flesh and uncanny round eyes of listless white. Merkava stood at six feet and eleven inches, its freakish tubelike arms dangling all the way to the ground. The moment he made eye contact with the newcomer, a deep, resoundingly hollow voice filled Donnie’s mind. ”You...don’t look at me like that! Give me your EXS.” He pivoted around to face the monk fully, his white hair raging like flame.
Donnie stopped and took a gander at this black giant. It was certainly intimidating...but he had faced down Argus the Unmaker and lived. After fighting and killing the corrupted, twisted, gigantic stone soul of a demonic planet, this was nothing. Even with his powers restricted, this was merely an equal and not a superior.
So he said, confidently, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, but...” In a flash, Donnie had blazed past the giant, jumped thirty feet into the air, and aimed a Chi Burst at the back of its head. “I’m not giving you a damn thing!”
Merkava whipped around, and like a snake lashing out to strike its prey, one of its arms shot toward the airborne warrior. It extended the whole distance between them before the energy ball could hit its mark. Its other arm morphed into a batlike wing to enwrap its head, blocking Donnie’s chi-burst. Meanwhile, its claws closed around a leg, and with a mighty tug Merkava whipped his enemy toward the stony surface of the bridge. As the dust cleared, the Void lurched forward. ”EXS...your Existence. I must have it…”
Donnie grimaced as he was thrown down onto the bridge, the impact reverberating throughout his armor. Thankfully, Xuen’s Battlegear, even with its magic sealed, was still built to keep him alive in situations like this, which could have paralyzed an ordinary man. He got up, his back feeling like someone had whacked his spine with a wooden club, but still no worse for wear.
In another time, he would have rolled to reduce the damage to nothing. But he was slower now. His body wouldn’t always do what he told it to.
But this beast’s guard was down. Now was his chance.
In a flash, a chunk of the stone giant’s face had been sliced off as Donnie reappeared behind it, the distinctive tol’vir-forged metal of the Fists of the Heavens glinting in the sunlight as the tiny maelstroms in the center of the handblades surged, trying so desperately to reach their full strength, but failing due to his master’s power. It was a painful reminder of Galeem’s strength, but one that he would have to live with. But against a golem like this? It would suffice.
“Sorry, but I’d rather exist than feed you,” Donnie said as he turned around, prepared to avoid the monster’s next move.
Snarling, Merkava spun about. His face pulsed like liquid shadow, filling in the wound Donnie’s weapons left behind. As it did, energy from the glowing lines running across his body appeared to drain into the area, leaving the markings as a whole less bright once the repairs completed. With a resounding cry, Merkava whipped one arm, and then the other. Donnie avoided the swings deftly, but the Void was not done. He scuttled forward on all fours before standing up to its full height. A slice from each arm came in on both the left and right sides, followed by a double overhead slam. Merkava jumped up, transformed an arm to slice downward with the wing, and then flashed with pink energy before darting forward with a much stronger wing slice, almost all from well outside the monk’s effective range.
Donnie may have been agile, but his agility had limits. As evidenced by how Merkava manged to cut a gash into his right arm, dent his left shoulderpiece, and slice out part of his abdominal muscle with that wing slice. Donnie was sent tumbling from the attacks. He was only human, and those wounds would make him bleed out fast...if he wasn’t a monk, that was.
Reaching upwards to his chin with his good arm, and shakily doing so with his bad arm, he managed to let fly with his own Chi Burst attack directly into his face. As he did so, the damage Merkava did was completely undone. Muscle regrew, skin regenerated, and wounds sealed. There weren’t even scars left.
The healing went down quickly, but Merkava was just as fast. Perceiving his foe to be recovering, the Void launched a purple fireball from his fanged jaw, then pounced forward. He span vertically to deliver a revolving overhead lash, then morphed his arms into tentacles to unleash a stinging barrage.
Donnie had expected something like that. As soon as he had full mobility, he was simply gone again. This time, he made sure to get well out of the vicinity before Merkava could catch him once more. And as the giant hit the empty space where he once lay prone, Donnie launched a Chi Burst into his back at point-blank range.
Small pieces of Merkava’s body flew from the point of impact, but something about them was wrong. They grew as they fell to the ground, becoming blobs that evidenced snaggletoothed maws of their own--the Void’s Relentless Followers. Expanding out into serpentine shapes, they leaped for Donnie to sink their teeth in as Merkava turned around, healing from the attack. As his minions struck, he took to the skies on black wings. From above he spat a number of fireballs, then finished with a well-aimed divekick to strike the warrior down.
Donnie...probably should have expected a regenerating soul-eating murder-golem with flowing white hair to have a trick like this up its sleeve. As he backed off, he managed to swat the infuriating creatures away, crushing one beneath his boot, decapitating another, and incinerating the rest with a Chi Burst, but not before one managed to get in a nasty bite to his ankle.
That, however, bought Merkava time to ready its assault. One of the fireballs struck Donnie in the chest, severely singing the armor and leaving him with a moderate burn even underneath it. The divekick, however, the grandmaster saw coming from a mile away, sidestepping the kick and letting Merkava strike the stone.
Donnie ignored the pain of his injuries, putting all of his speed and strength into a devastating burst of movement, his handblades going straight for Merkava’s neck on the way over in attempt to decapitate the Void. He didn’t know if it could regenerate from that, but it had to have a limit of some kind.
Instead of stand and take the strike, Merkava threw itself to the ground and crossed its arms in front of its head. Even with Donnie’s speed the Void was fast, but not quite fast enough. The monk’s blades cut into its arms and put two gashes in its head, eliciting a shriek as Merkava crawled backward. Its eyes fell on the bitemarks on Donnie’s ankle, which had gained an odd purple coloration. ”Hnnng. Do you have what it takes..? If so, you’ll be a tastier treat down the road. Let’s see.” An unearthly cry escaped the monster as it hurled itself forward again, extending its arms and flailing around with wild strength and speed. Its invincible, vicious strikes filled the air in a wide radius, threatening to rip Donnie apart if he didn’t put his all into evasion and defense. All the while, Merkava’s raging scream echoed across the landscape.
Donnie looked towards the bitemark as well. Why was it turning purple this quickly? It should still be bleeding. He’d need to see if he could find a healer later. He had no time to think anything else as Merkava started attacking him a berserk fury. It took everything he had just to keep all of his limbs attached, but he managed to avoid or mitigate the strikes, even as glancing impacts caused his prized armor to shake from the force. He couldn’t even cover his ears to protect himself from Merkava’s ear-piercing scream. He wasn’t sure if his hearing would be the same after this.
Still, he managed to crack a smile even through the assault. “Sorry, but a brute like you won’t live long enough to make a treat out of me.” He took off again, his voice echoing through the air as he reappeared, kicking Merkava where its ribs should be hard enough to crack the material. “Do you think I haven’t dealt with guys like you before?” he said as he disappeared again. His blades carved a chunk out of Merkava’s right arm when he reappeared. “I’ve fought things worshipped as gods. You don’t even rate.” He vanished once more, with a full-strength elbow strike to its knee joint. “To a monk, weapons like mine are simply part of the package.” He vanished yet again, with a rapid series of punches and palm strikes to Merkava’s left shoulder. The Fists were notably sheathed. “My entire body is a weapon. And if you haven’t noticed, I haven’t used most of it until now.” He disappeared again, this time reappearing in front of Merkava, kneeing it in the stomach. “On the other hand, you’re all strength, no skill. Just another”--he uppercutted Merkava in the chin, slicing into its jaw--”lowly brute that I can walk all over!” He vanished a final time, running wide to avoid any last-ditch attacks the Void had, before reappearing in front of the beast, a Chi Burst already charged. “NOW DIE!” he said as the projectile fired, ready to erase the Void’s head.
He found Merkava ready. The monster lunged forward, and in a single brutally simply motion, drove its wedge-shaped head into Donnie’s. CRACK. Seeing stars from the impact, the monk staggered back, and Merkava stood up straight. His wounds were taking longer to heal. ”Too much effort..” came his voice into the warrior’s mind. ”For too little EXS. I’ll see you again...when the Hollow Night comes. Then I’ll feast.” Using his arms, the Void swung over the edge of the bridge and into the darkness beneath. If Donnie looked below, he would find the monster vanished from the face of the earth--returned, perhaps, to whence he came.
Michael and Franklin continued their conversation, exchanging some small talk as they waited for the food to be finished. When Blazermate offered them the chance to try out the teleporter she and Ratchet had been working on, the two turned to face them. After a moment of thought, Michael spoke up. "Thanks, but not yet. You should probably test it on something to make sure its safe for people to go through." Franklin nodded, agreeing with Michael's statement. While they were both interested in the idea of a working teleporter, neither of them were brave enough to step in it yet, not before knowing for certain that it was safe.
The two turned away, continuing their conversation for a bit longer before a dinner bell rang, and the two turned to look at the wide array of food laid out on the countertop, now complete. "Oh, thank God, I'm starving." Michael got up, taking a plate and filling it with as much food as he could fit onto it. Franklin got up after, taking a more reasonable amount of food before sitting down.
They continued to eat, looking up as they noticed the map that Bowser, someone Michael assumed to be his son, and another creature that he didn't recognize brought in. The two turned to look at it, studying it. "Well, that's useful. Good find, uh...whoever found it." The map, while not very detailed, gave an overall view of the world they had found themselves in. Michael could recognize the castle, and based on the path they had taken, he could safely assume that the location marked 1-1 was the place that they had originally woken up in. Soon after, Bowser announced that he was going on an expedition to fix up racing karts from the scrapyard. Michael turned to Franklin. "You're pretty good with cars, right? Maybe you should go. It'll give you a chance to meet the others, too."
Franklin looked at the map, considering it for a moment. Finally, he gave a single nod. "Yeah, sure. What about you?"
"Me? I'm gonna enjoy my meal."
Franklin merely rolled his eyes as Michael got up to get some more food, having finished his plate. Franklin had finished his own food long before, not being as hungry due to having a big breakfast back in Los Santos. Getting up, he walked over to Bowser, pausing to think of what to say, before realizing that the big lizard probably had no idea who he was. "Uh...hey, I'm Franklin. I'm Michael's friend. Anyways, I know a few things about cars, so I might as well come along."
While Franklin went to take to Bowser, Michael returned to the table, carrying a new plate of food with him. The newcomer from before soon entered, introducing himself as Gene. Michael raised his hand to wave at him. "Michael. Welcome aboard."
Soon after, the Centurion began to discuss his plans, and Michael turned to look at him. He could certainly agree with the man's statement, although he doubted that Galeem had entrails to begin with. "Well, if we're heading to the..."Land of Adventure" Michael said, with air quotes, "It looks like there's a small village or something in that area. So we could probably start there." He paused to take a bite of his vegetable kebab. "I'm not sure if we should split up, though. Might be better to stick together, for now. Either way, we should wait and see if they find anything useful at the scrapyard."
Orders and discussion where slowed temporarily as food arrived, much to the delight of everyone involved. Bowser’s turn at the counter-top resulted in the meat stock being decimated as he made off with at least of every fleshy dish available. Even this relative hoard of dishes was not enough however, so Kamek was quickly forced to shrink down the map so that he could instead enlarge Bowser’s meal to a size fit for a king. The map was still available for viewing however, just not at its previously royal scale. It was laid down flat in the middle of the dining table with an implicit food exclusion zone around it. Cling film had also been laid across it for extra protection. The turtle wizard himself set about nibbling his way though a few vegetable kebabs, using his none wand wielding hand to hold the sticks. Jr acquired a simple combination of steaks and pizza, his sadness at being forced to stay quickly forgotten as he dug into them both, his grinning bib seeing plenty of use as he devoured flesh and fast food alike.
Unsurprisingly there where others who had comments about the map. While the royals ate the magikoopa did his best to manage this discussion.
”You two” Kamek pointed to Tora the over-sized hamster and Din the fiery redheaded mage with his kebab ”make good, if opposing, points which I think we can resolve using your” Kamek jabbed his skewer towards the tinkering Balzermate and Ratchet ”Teleporter gizmo. If you can work out the two way transmission or just make more of them we could split into teams to cover more ground and still gather together for fighting the Bosses and other tricky situations or swap out party members who are better at tackling specific areas.” he said, before biting off one of his roasted veggies. He took the time while chewing to think a bit more, vaguely waving the skewer around as he did so.
”Ok. So. Extended plan.” he continued ”We get karts. We get teleports. We stick the teleporters on the karts and either link the parties teleporter karts to each other or make both of them send people to and from Peach’s castle. Depends if you need them to sit still or not as having a static intermediary location means we wouldn't need to coordinate deploying the teleporters as much. The second option also lets us keep people in reserve and not carry everything with us at all times.”
”Make food less of an issue too.” he added, before biting another veggie off of his kabbak. He thought for a few moments of other ways they might set up back and forth transportation while chewing. ”Maybe we could use warp paintings or Jr’s magic graffiti if the teleporters don't work out? Those only go to and from static locations, but it would be better than nothing.” he added
Bowser meanwhile had been occasionally glancing over at the centurion as the warrior made a pigs ass of themselves while doped up on the awesome power of Megadragonbowser. He’d avoided commenting on the fact that the warrior had nabbed the Boss sprite because even he could see that Tora had been right about the danger of having your personality altered drastically by absorbing their power. Not that he would ever admit that, which was the reason he’d been ignoring it.
As the centurion began raving about marching over to the Land of adventure as quickly as possible however, the king could hold his tongue no longer. Between taking bites out of a massive rib of stake he tried to put the upstart his place “YOU JUST WANT TO GET OUT IN FRONT OF THE ARMY TO SNATCH MORE SPRITES! WELL TO BAD, BECAUSE IF ANYONE IS GOING TO LEAD AN ADVANCED FORCE INTO THE LAND OF ADVENTURE IT’S GOING TO BE ME! SO SIT BACK DOWN AND WAIT FOR ME TO FINISHED EATING THIS DELICIOUS FOOD.”
”But sire! What about the karts?” Kamek asked
“Jr’s got that handled, right Jr?” there was a distinct lack of a response “Jr?” the tiny terror’s guardians turned their eyes to the princes’ space at the table, only to find both the plate and high chair set there empty.
”I believe he’s wolfed down his dinner and run off on his mission sire.” Kamek said a little disappointedly, quite sure the lad would suffer an upset stomach as a result.
“See, told you he’d handle it” Bowser responded, with pride that contrasted Kamek’s concern. Then he turned to the human who had introduced himself as Franklin “WELCOME TO MY ARMY. IF YOU’RE DONE EATING THEN GO HELP MY BOY.” he ordered Franklin, pointing him in the direction of the scrap yard. Bowser himself was not even close to done.
Kamek meanwhile added his own opinion in support of Michel’s point ”We really should stick together, or at least nearby to each other, until we have a way of communicating. If you insist at going off before we have the karts at least don’t go much further than the village Michel pointed out. It’ll be near impossible to find you in a timely manner if you end up wandering around the fields beyond.” directing this both at Bowser and the centurion. He very much hoped they would not go together. He could already see how the clashing of their egos would be disastrous for everyone around them. ”There was mention of robots and Rabbids at the scrap yard? Perhaps you could deal with those instead, to make sure our rear is secured?”
The old koopa hoped Bowser Jr wasn't running/getting into trouble with either of those groups.
Jr’s kicked open the front door of the castle and then stepped outside into the sunshine. His belly was full and his body was brimming with energy. The young koopa hopped up onto the stone banister of the bridge in-order to make his way across it. Before him lay the scrapheap that the hero team had passed though only a short while ago. To him however this was no re-tread, but a new place to explore and conquer. As he balanced his way across his non-optimal crossing method he spotted several people he could recruit to do just that. The first was the Link look alike Linkle, who was peering over the side of the bridge and down into the water at the hat wearing kid he’d met up in the Princess’s bedroom. The same kid who’d snubbed him earlier and who he’d subsequently blamed for the whole mess in peach’s room. Beyond them, out in the junkyard itself, he heard the tell-tail sounds of Rabbids mucking about. He’d used the furry menaces once before and it had worked great up until the point where it hadn't and his dad had gotten possessed by some glowing bug bird thing. He’d had to get Mario’s help to free him, and then he’d been grounded, both things that had sucked. Hopefully this time would go better.
Jr continued his way across the bridge, pausing only to tell the two girls that: ”You work for my dad? Then you work for me and we have karts to build!” before he hopped up from the banister onto what remained of the archway the engineer had been camping on.
He hammered the butt of his over-sized paint brush against the stone a few times to get the Rabbids attention and then yelled at the assorted bunny people. ”Hay you lazy Rabbids! It’s your boss speaking so listen up! We’re going to scavenge the biggest, fastest, most butt-kicking karts form the pile of junk so we can fix them up and go on a rampaging road trip all across this messed up word!”
Ratchet listened to Blazermate’s own take on the matter of the teleporters and had to admit, she had some merit to the idea. Well, he had to admit it inside his own head. Verbally is came out more like this. ”Well, uh, I guess that could, maybe, you know…” He awkwardly scratched the back of his head.
“It would seem she has made you uncomfortable, hehehehehe!” Clank threw in, manifesting quickly, then vanishing as soon as he came. Ratchet reacted to the apparent betrayal with an exaggerated gesticulation of the arms, but his little robot buddy was already gone. Feeling defeated, he slumped down, then spoke back to Blazermate as she tested out the teleporter with a loaf of bread.
”Sometimes, no matter how much you’ve worked on these things, the obvious answer can slip right by you. It’s good to have an amateur’s point of view on hand. Really.” Whew, that was a good recovery! No doubt about it! Now, how exactly would he be able to convert both units to be senders and receivers? They couldn’t both be on simultaneously, for one. Once deployed, both would have to be reset before you could switch which one was opening the wormhole, or else you might risk someone jumping in at the wrong moment and… Yeah, that wouldn’t be a pretty sight. Welp! Time to open up each one and see what hardware was unique to each and see if he could replicate it in the other!
The Courier spent some time staring at the majestic life before him, the cartoonish dinosaur and the giant blue beetle munching happily, whilst the two clothed rabbit creatures resembling Peach and Mario got up to some hijinks in the background. As his eyes focused on the beetle, his stomach growled. That bug looked like it’d make some good burgers. Maybe some beetle kebobs. If he got to slice it open and explore its anatomy, maybe some new chems, or bug nectar? Then it looked up and smiled happily at the Courier and Din.
Damn. He couldn’t eat that adorable big guy. Best to put such thoughts aside. Besides, the princess was cooking a feast right now, wasn’t she? Oh, hey, Din made some plant baskets. He had been so lost in his thoughts that he had hardly notic-”BLUUUUUGH!” Vomit proceeded to propel from the desert man’s mouth like a rocket, soiling a good amount of the grass around him. It just kept on coming! The beetle and Yoshi looked at him with concern, while the rabbids had stopped their shenanigans to stare awkwardly, clearly finding it incredibly unpleasant. The Mario one began mocking him, even.
After a good minute of vomiting, it had finally passed. The Courier straightened up, wiped his mouth, and recovered in an instant as though this were something that happened every day. ”Withdraw. Jet is an amazing chem, but withdraw is such a bitch.” He picked up his basket and went to work picking plants and flowers from the garden, taking special care to locate a large bag of fertilizer. That would be the most important find of this whole jaunt. The rabbids avoided him like the plague.
Once he had finished, the Courier noticed that Din was already gone. Wait, had she ever been there to begin with? Was Din possibly… A GHOOOOOST?! He shrugged. Wouldn’t have been the first time. Oh wait, feast. Yeah, that’s probably where she went. Food. His stomach growled again.
”The princess made us all a feast for liberating this castle,” he said aloud, making eye contact with nobody but speaking to the lot of them. ”I’m going to get my grub, if y’all want to come.” He left the invitation open for the others as he left the garden. The beetle and Yoshi quickly followed behind, understanding him completely and very willing to get more food. The Mario and Peach rabbids slowly followed behind, taking careful steps to avoid the large pool of stomach content, before suddenly breaking out into a full run after the others, ears hanging back in the wind.
The Courier arrived in the mess hall, heracross, Yoshi, Mario and Peach rabbids close behind, as discussions about what to do next were underway. A large map (which suddenly shrank down courtesy of another turtle thing, this one looking like one of those LARPers in a cheap wizard outfit) seemed to be the hot button at the moment. Others debated whether or not to split up, the dangers inherent in doing so, something about teleporters, so on and so forth. And apparently Bowser had a son that was going to fix up go karts?
Courier Six casually grabbed a large turkey leg and began eating it as he moved on over to the map. It seemed to be hand drawn, so perhaps not the best of scaling, but it served a good purpose of showing what this new Galleem-controlled world was like. Holding the turkey leg in his mouth, he pulled up the map function of his pip-boy and copied the contents down for personal reference. As he explored the regions they’d be automatically corrected, but for now it was good to have.
”I don’t know anything about teleporters and whatnot, but whatever we can do to maximize our mobility is good. I won’t be taking any kart unless someone else drives. More of a walker, myself.” He took another bite of the turkey leg, thinking that it sure as hell beat 200 year old pre-war food crammed with preservatives, but wasn’t as tasty as a nice bloatfly slider. ”As for the other enemies like that last one, I think we should still cover more ground. We’ll come across and recruit more allies along the way, same as we did starting out here.”
As the Courier spoke, his entourage rushed in and made a mess of things. The heracross beetle jumped up on one of the tables and began devouring whatever sweet things it could get its mouth on. Yoshi immediately caught sight of Princess Peach and ran to her side, nuzzling up alongside her, before sticking his long tongue out and grabbing a large dish, pulling it straight into his mouth with a loud gulp. The rabbids alternated between leapfrogging and cartwheeling across the room until they landed into two empty chairs, whereupon their manners sudden shifted and they began eating food very politely. Well, mocking politeness, but they at least weren’t causing a ruckus.
Courier Six seemed completely ignorant to the chaos his entourage had caused. ”I’m gonna go cook up some chems and healing items.If anyone wants some, let me know. I got stuff that’ll heal ya up good, make ya stronger, smarter, faster, or just feel really damn good. It’ll take me a hot minute though, so get yer requests in now.”