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Level: 3 (14 -> 17/30) | 1 (0 -> 3/10)
Location: Peach’s Castle - Gardens -> Kitchen -> Kid’s Spaceship -> Exterior -> 1-1; Eastbound to the Land of Adventure
Word Count: 4128 (+3 EXP)

Some time after the cages fell and a cleansing wave of translucent darkness washed over the castle, the last vivid memory of home returned in broad strokes to a pair of the freshly emancipated captives. They recalled it being a fairly uneventful day at first, much like most had long since been for them. The main exception to this was when they would annually receive a letter with an iconic seal either declining or inviting them, with the former every time being the case up to this point. After a while, they grew accustomed to the disappointment of being denied year after year, but it never quite stopped them from getting their hopes up. Having received such a letter this day, they kept their expectations in check as one of them broke the seal, but they wouldn’t get the chance to read its verdict before an infinitely more critical and alarming matter took precedence. Their only warning came in the form of a golden glow etching a gradient in the skyline only seconds before harshly overbright streams of destructive light began to pierce the mountainous cliff walls of their home land, instantly evaporating every bit of terrain and whatever else they passed through. They instinctively took to the skies in a blind effort to either approach and combat the light at its source or flee from it entirely, but were afforded a fair chance at neither. They managed in futility to evade the onslaught to a meager extent before being callously swept away with the rest of their world… and into the next.

Once they finished mentally repeating the last moments of their prior life, Banjo and Kazooie finally started to come to in full. The bear and bird had led themselves (and two others) away to sit out the battle with MegaDragonBowser, having been in no condition to participate on account of the injuries sustained during whatever events led up to their capture, and thus had no recollection of any of it. Even if the one healer (and a half) could be troubled to spare them the needed attention to restore them to fighting health, chances are they wouldn’t have been of much use in the fight in their regressed state. Just as well the company managed well enough to defeat the boss without their help, minus a couple of unfortunate and probably preventable casualties; not that they were at all aware of that. Either way, there would be little lamentation of their inaction from them. The best they could do now was to move forward with the promise that they would do better. Of course, what exactly it was they would be moving forward with they had yet to find out.

The duo used the period of recess to leisurely tour part of the castle for the next hour before dinner to better come to grips with their surroundings. They knew this place to be the famous Mushroom Kingdom, despite never having been there before, but aside from the obvious, they couldn’t figure out exactly how they arrived there. There remained a hazy (at best) blank spot in their memory much akin to the inscrutable onset of a dream that made it nigh impossible for them to ascertain their point of origin initial actions that led them here. They would soon get a better idea of what ‘here’ was when their aimless wandering brought them through the castle gardens where they found themselves mere yards from stepping off into the cosmos that stretched its way into the edge of princess’s backyard. That alone told them as much as they presently needed to know about the world they had been dropped in, and they quietly counted themselves somewhat lucky (their overall situation notwithstanding) to have some not inconsiderable measure of experience with finding their way around a disparately amalgamated world replete with exotic, colorful locales--having lived in such a world and all. Indeed, they were set for what would surely be another veritable sightseeing tour of an adventure, but would hold off on contemplating it further to discuss it over dinner as planned.

The two headed back inside so they wouldn’t be late, kicking over a few ammo nests on their walk back and collecting their contents to prevent anyone making the possible mistake of serving them. Banjo--being something of a decent cook himself--would have probably lent his own hands to the process if not for the kitchen becoming so quickly overstaffed with volunteers, so they instead kept clear and let the others do their work. The results, needless to say, were superb. One could practically taste every dish with their eyes alone, but little time was wasted by anyone grabbing their meals of choice and tasting them the right way.

During the feast/meeting, Banjo alternated between eating, drinking, and talking, keeping fresh rib steaks in one hand and a stein of some of the sweeter cask contents in the other until he finished the ribs and moved on to forking out chunks of honey-glazed fish saute by the mouthful. Kazooie helped herself to the pork katsu while also pecking bites out of a paella, and next to them was a glass filled with similarly rich contents of a different variety to what Banjo was drinking, complete with an extended straw to save her having to lift it from the table with her lack of prehensile digits (even if she provably could). Hat Kid eventually made her late arrival midway through dinner service, taking a double serving of crispy skewers, proceeded to clean the bone of a sizable tenderloin shank, and finished with a helping of cake for dessert--not bothering until the latter dish to finally pick up a fork. She quietly gushed to herself in her head about how delicious she found the confection to be upon taking her first bite of it, and took her sweet time to savor the ones that followed. If Princess Peach had any hand in making it (as she likely did), the child would have been among the privileged few in all of the multiverse to have tasted what is tacitly believed to be among a caliber of delicacies just a few steps shy of legendary, whether knew it or not.

As for the dinner discussion, planning was in order for what everyone’s next move would be, by which point everyone who needed to be had been sufficiently filled in on the grand scheme and established amongst themselves a common goal of defeating Galeem. A magically enlarged map of what was unmistakably the world was presented to all at the table with the intent of collectively setting their course/s. Naturally, Banjo and Kazooie objected to the proposed suggestion to divide their forces into halves to send up the eastern and westen sides of the map, speaking mainly for themselves on the matter. They had no qualms about whatever the others might have decided to do, should their ideas differ. More than anything else, they were just clarifying that they, specifically, wouldn’t be splitting up. Similarly, they declined to take part in the excursion to the Scrapyards to salvage vehicles on the basis of their inexperience with automotive technology, engineering, repairs or maintenance. The forced transition into the New World coupled left a few blank spots in their memory that made even them unsure as to whether or not that was entirely true. With a shared sense of deja vu, the bear and bird exchanged a curious glance once eyes were off of them.

As the evening’s proceedings were beginning to draw to a close, the group gradually dispersed to take care of whatever last minute business they had before turning in for the night. Some, like Banjo and Kazooie, simply went straight to bed, taking the first vacant one-bed room they could get. There, Banjo hung his backpack from the coat rack adjoining the bed, which would make for Kazooie’s resting place, and put on the bottom half of the provided sleepwear so he could leave his shorts with the housekeeping staff to be laundered. The duo conversed in brief about what was to come shortly before Banjo slid under the still tucked blankets and nodded off in a matter of seconds. Kazooie gently receded back into the confined of the pack and made herself comfortable, and she wouldn’t be far behind.

Hat Kid, meanwhile, had other plans concerning sleeping arrangements. Rather than palleting down in one of the guest rooms, she would see if she couldn’t get back into her own room on her ship. Considering it might be some time before she can board or even see it again, it only made sense for her to spend the last night that she would have with it for what could be a while. It may not have been fully-functional and in serious need of tidying up, but for her, it was home; the closest thing to it at least. She made it outside to the front door of her ship in time to see the kart salvaging crew, having apparently finished their night’s work, pull up in front of the castle bridge in reckless fashion. Whether it was an overstimulated test of the vehicles’ functionality or lapses in the operational skills of an underage driver was a matter of question, but it did remind her--on the subject of underage drivers--that she had a vehicle of her own somewhere...

Once inside, she messed around with a few console commands to reroute the reserve power from the kitchen to her room, only to find upon approaching the first doors leading to it still shut. She tapped one lightly to see if they would budge; then she pounded on them; then tried pushing them open; then pulling one; then attempted to force them open by wedging the tip of her umbrella between them like a crowbar, which only resulted in her getting flung head first into one by an overbent parasol. She stood back up after her last failed attempt and started to knock her forehead against the stubborn hatch in frustration, surprised suddenly to find no purchase after about the fourth or fifth knock and falling flat on her face. The hall entrance finally cooperated and gave way, and she hopped back up with a relieved smile painting her features as if there was no issue to begin with.

As luck would have it, the next set of doors were trying and failing to close around an obstructing object, which just happened to be her scooter. Dislodging the contraption was as simple as hopping on and pulling forward, after which she had the opposite problem from earlier with one of the doors not shutting all the way. Thankfully, it required less headache (in more than one sense) to fix; putting her back bumper and boot heel into it sufficed. Kid parked the moped next to her desk and headed straight for her hidden fort, swimming down into it through the pool of pillows that concealed it. She normally would have jumped from the diving board, if not for the pool being a little more shallow from having been scattered by turbulence, but she neither fussed nor thought anything of it. Of all the cleanup she had waiting for her, this would be much more easily corrected when she got around to it.

Once she was within the cozy, warmly lit, tent-like confines of her hideout, she sat down cross-legged on her pillow seat, opened her diary, dipped the quill, and penned in her daily entry...

Day 1...

So… I got chased by this scary light, and the next thing I know my ship gets shot down by some big, mean, stupid dragon ‘king’. Now I’m stranded (again) on a planet even weirder than the last. Me and my new friends kicked his butt, but all my timepieces are lost… AGAIN! And after all that work I had to do to get them back! Here we go again, I guess…

With the last item on her day’s agenda taken care of, she ascended back into the bedroom proper, set her hat on the nightstand, climbed into bed, pulled the covers over herself, and settled in. The lights gradually dimmed themselves off as they were set to, and Kid shut her eyes and drifted off into blissful dreamsleep.

Hat Kid practically ejected from her bed at the sight and sound of her morning alarm system, her landing knocked her hat from where it sat to float down perfectly onto her head. She stood up stretching and yawning the sleep from her body and brain, the sleepiness still visibly apparent in her eyes. She was hit with an odd sense of deja vu by starting her day like this, but then she remembered in her semi-groggy state that this was just part of her daily routine. She promptly restored the pep in her step, packed the saddle bag on her scooter with whatever she couldn’t fit on her, and wheeled it out the door.

In similar, but calmer fashion, the sunshine woke Kazooie, and Kazooie woke Banjo. It took her about a minute to get her partner’s attention, him being a heavy sleeper, but she was able to get him up and out of bed with little trouble. He slipped on and buckled his freshly washed shorts, slung his backpack on, and headed to the dining hall where a few were already gathered. Breakfast consisted of surprisingly standard fair for a royal house, in contrast to the exquisite and varied meal from last night--not that it was by any means an issue. No one was too good for a warm, fluffy, steaming stack of pancakes and a hearty measure of bacon, which Banjo had a reasonable helping of (sometimes in the same bite), supplanting syrup with honey to better suit his tastes. Kazooie went lighter, pecking away at an assortment of fruits and berries, and chasing them with the lightly stuffed crepes they sat on top of.

Everyone was soon called out front for Peach’s address, which started off with notice of a team reduction on account of those who chose to stay, for whatever reasons they decided to, while also welcoming the new additions to the party. When called upon by name, Banjo gave a bow while Kazooie simply waved to her new teammates. Hat Kid, however, offered no gesture beyond maintaining her default smile and continuing to watch and listen intently. The Princess then introduced a young man who lectured them with a demonstrative explanation of what ‘Pokemon’ are, at which the child’s mouth and eyes went wide with gleeful excitement. While she didn’t know why, she came down with the overwhelming sense that this was just the sort of thing children like her dreamed of, and she didn’t know she needed it in her life until now. Without demanding a specific number past one--not wishing to be greedy with her request--she happily held a hand out to Mr. Stone to receive a sampling of however many of the ‘pokeballs’ he could afford her.

Before anyone could get too excited and run off to dabble in this amazing new practice, Peach kept the group’s attention for a little longer. The brief talk of ‘Spirits’ dipped a tad into existentially morbid territory, but it was good that they all know about it in case those who have yet to deal with it ever have to. She segued into a demonstration ‘loot boxes’ that involved her feeding it some form of unrecognizable foreign currency to produce a gear drop. Banjo and Kazooie, being from an earlier era, had an expected share of misgivings regarding what struck them as a ‘pay-to-win’ system that they’d heard so much about over the years.

“Remember when you actually had to earn your upgrades... and couldn’t just BUY them?” Kazooie snidely remarked, seemingly unaware that--even back in her day--her assertion wasn’t entirely true for everyone.

“I don’t know about that,” added Banjo, “but paying for something before knowing what it is doesn’t seem like such a good idea. It’s kind of like gambling,” he commented none too subtly on a particular element of controversy that has surrounded the idea since its inception. He said this much despite the fact that him and Kazooie started their game gambling at cards (in which Kazooie, of course, cheated). Hat Kid had no such complaints. She simply picked up the hat from the loot drop, vanished it into her inventory, and proceeded towards the easternmost yard of the castle alongside Peach, who had just declared her participation in the upcoming adventure.

The eager rookie Pokemon trainers of the group broke off to get their first taste of catching them as soon as they could; Kid even spotted a few of them herself in the waters and lusher patches of greenery on her way to the parked vehicles on the far side of the castle. However, none of the present specimen really stood out to her, so she decided to hold out for when she might later happen upon some that really catch her interest. For now, all that was left for her to do was wait patiently next to her scooter for everyone else to finish their last minute affairs.

“These all look… interesting.” Banjo observed during his walkaround of the various automobiles, unsure of what to make of most of them, or who had claim on which ones. “This is what they were working on last night?”

“They could’ve worked a little harder on some of them,” Kazooie critiqued while glancing at the Koopa Troop’s rides, sensing favoritism in their workmanship and inherent quality compared to the rest, [e60000]“but they’re not bad, I guess.”[/color] She took the initiative to halfway correct herself before Banjo could remind her of her manners and to express a little more gratitude.

“I’m sure they worked with what they could.” Banjo added, entertaining the honest possibility that the disparity couldn’t be helped.

“Which of these do you think is ours anyway?” They would have their answer shortly, and neither of them would be too chuffed about it. They rounded the back corner of one of the larger karts to find… it, closer to the very back of the fleet. The duo looked on in awe and disbelief at what they would previously write off as the product of false memories and recurring nightmares, now sitting right before them as real as everything else. It had an inflatable placeholder dummy in their likenesses saving their seat for them, so the intention as far as ownership was clear. Was it perhaps--however implausibly--ripped from an alternate timeline to implement in a divine jape at their expense, or did they by some chance have actual history with this contraption? Whatever the case may be, they had precious little else in the way of already dwindling options.

“Please tell me we have something better than this dinkey trolley to get around with.” Kazooie proposed desperately while shielding her eyes. Banjo removed his hand from his forehead to look around at the remaining karts being quickly assumed by other drivers.

“Erm… unless you can still fly…” he replied rhetorically, knowing full well the regressive effects of their forced reincarnation that made it go without saying.

“Alright,” conceded the breegull with a disappointed sigh, “but you’re driving.” She ended on that condition as if the alternative was possible before receding into her bagspace to settle in for the ride. Soon the call for departure went out, and everyone present mounted up on the Centurion’s order, to which Hat Kid gestured a valiant salute. (Poor Koopa King just wasn’t getting the respect he so rightfully deserved.) Without further delay, they were off.

The first several minutes of the drive passed without any setbacks whatsoever--the biggest obstacles thus far being a growing stretch of rough terrain and a mildly demanding gap jump. Thankfully, the Trolley was outfitted with a more powerful engine and off-road tires, and Kid was agile enough even on her scooter to compensate for its light build. Both vehicles carefully tailed the rest of the convoy so as to not inhale the clouds of dust being kicked up by the rest of it. The partial benefit Kid’s scooter not being bound to her Sprint Hat (the drawback being that she couldn’t pocket it) afforded her the luxury of being able to wear and utilize any of her hats while drove, which was exactly what she would do with her top hat, checking it periodically for anything of (specific) interest along the way.

The safer, more leisurely portion of their drive came swiftly to an end when the party was beset by an apparent pack of marauders, their approach given away by the cacophonous blaring of poorly produced music that preceded the galvanizing report of gatling guns. Kid slid under the Bowser Mobile for cover where she more than fit comfortably on her scooter, while Banjo--who couldn’t say the same--yanked on the brakes to come to a hard stop some single-digit yards behind them. The momentum of the kart’s halt threw the duo prone into the cargo bed (i.e. most of the vehicle) where they remained momentarily ducked down in what was effectively half cover while gunfire whizzed by closely over their heads, puncturing and deflating the decoy that popped up in their place. They were saved having to keep their heads down for too long, as their allies better equipped/suited for a mobile skirmish made good on reducing the opposition to a pair of bare buggies forced into retreat. Though, this was merely a prelude to what would undoubtedly be a bigger firefight.

The second round opening with a literal BANG as a laughing, red-hot, clown-headed balloon detonated in frightening, if not devastating proximity to the Bowser Mobile. The bear and bird peaked up from half cover just long enough to see the enemy reinforcements start rolling in. Reflexively, they ducked back down to shoot a flaming egg at the patchy stretch of black oil with intentions of setting it afire before simultaneously bailing out of their kart, tipping it over lengthwise, and hunkering behind its practically non-existent undercarriage for full cover. What they didn't realize was that they actually tried to light was in fact ink, not oil, so it was unlikely to ignite.

With the amount of ridiculous manpower dedicated solely to stopping the monster truck--unmoved from its collision course with the Bowser Mobile--Kamek and crew wisely drove out of the way, forcing Hat Kid to do the same. She made haste in pulling out from underneath the Koopa muscle car to avoid being flattened by either of the titanic machines, and as the duo notice their automotive fortifications driving away, Banjo hurried to sling the Trolley back onto its wheels to hop on and follow suit. By this time, most of the enemy vehicles were occupied with targeting others, but they would continue to stick close to their larger allies while on the move lest they hang temptingly defenseless out in the open.

After conducting a brief, cursory assessment of the battlefield, Kid decided that there was somewhere she could possibly help out, and took a considerably riskier approach. While her nor any of her weapons were strong enough on their own to even make the assailing cars budge, she wondered what would happen if she were to combine them. With this in mind, she equipped her new cap and made a long roundabout to intercept the ice cream truck head-on. Although she had yet to use her new hat’s ability, let alone be proficient with it, she innately understood its function well enough to formulate an idea for how she might use it.

Once she got a manageable distance (a few hundred yards or so) in front of the ice cream truck, accounting for its speed and trajectory to make her estimate, she would veer her scooter to the left and jump from it to place herself where Sweet Tooth’s right tires would be, dropping to ground-level for aim stability. She then drew her umbrella back in more exaggerated motion than before, charged its beam up to second or third level (whichever time and distance would allow), imbuing it with a different kind of power, and stabbed the tip toward the ground at a forty-five degree angle to fire off a rolling wave of heavy energy at the killer clown’s right wheels. At most, the wave would probably only come up to her hip in height, but maybe it could generate just enough power to force him onto two wheels to where the truck might lose control and crash helplessly onto its side. Should that fail, Kid would have to act especially fast to dodge out of the way to avoid being run over. In either case, she would rush to dive after her scooter, mount up, and get moving again.

Level 3 - (11 -> 14/30)
Location: Hat Kid’s Spaceship -> Peach’s Castle - Exterior


@Gentlemanvaultboy, @Genon


Level 3 - (27/30) + 3 - 1

Location: Peach's Castle, Moatside.


Level 1 - (5/10) + 3

Location: Peach's Castle, Bridge

Total Word Count: 4121 (+3 EXP)

Well… that’s disappointing, but it was to be expected. After all of her hard work to recollect them, Hat Kid found only two of her Time Pieces left on the vault floor where there should be an entire hoard of them. It was almost insulting; as if she was being mocked by her own bad luck. It might have felt that way, anyways, if not for her being lucky enough to find more than zero, in pleasant defiance of her expectations. The fact that they didn’t all fly out during the crash--despite the vault door being cracked ajar when she found it--was in itself miraculous, but it also invited an alarming new possibility that she couldn’t safely rule out. Come to think of it, if they did fly out during her descent, wouldn’t she have noticed? Wouldn’t someone have? She wouldn’t have made it this far otherwise! It was entirely likely (moreso even) that someone broke onto her ship during all the fighting and stole what they could carry before the conflict ended, exploiting the ship’s condition and the telltale nature of its arrival in the hopes of their theft being ruled out as incidental. Yes, she really is paranoid enough to suspect that, and for good reason. Assuming her suspicions were correct, this wouldn’t make the first time this has happened under her watch, minus the surmised attempt towards subtlety.

Regardless of how it happened, the result was all the same to Kid. It appeared that she would have another long adventure ahead of her, with the difficulty substantially dialed up. Taking into account that she wouldn’t be able to navigate the world near as easily without her ship in working order, nor would it be as easy to return to it if and when needed, she would have to carefully consider whatever options she had--like whether or not to take either of the Time Pieces with her on her journey. On one hand, it would be undeniably advantageous to have such a powerful insurance policy in her back pocket. On the other, it was also a dangerous amount of power to carry around, and could horrendously backfire in the absolute worst case if she wasn’t careful. She held one of the two leftover hourglasses in her hand and gazed at it pensively for several minutes while she silently deliberated on her course of action. It was a lot for the child to mull over for the no doubt little amount of time she would have to do so. Being spontaneously dropped headlong into a new world where many other worlds incompatibly ran together in spatial and existential disarray was already its own brand of profoundly frustrating--and even upsetting, for some--without being burdened with a repeat of her previous incident on top of it, which effectively made her indirectly responsible for exacerbating the dangers of the New World by inviting another to it. In a world like this, pseudo-magical trinkets with time altering capabilities were just asking to have their power abused if picked up by anyone else, so the onus fell on her to see to it that it would never come to that. The only question that remained for her at the moment was how she intended to go about doing that.

After coming to her decision, she walked out of the vault, making doubly sure to secure it shut behind her, and made her way into the only other room she could get into on minimal/auxiliary power; the kitchen. It was in even worse shape than the living room after the wreck. Almost none of what she left in the cabinets and drawers or on the countertops was still there. Various condiments, cookware, utensils, cutlery, (mostly) broken dishes, and one appliance (the microwave) littered just about every square foot of the kitchen floor, as well as a portion of the walls and ceiling--to which a few of the sharper objects and the splattered remains of unidentifiable fruits and vegetables were stuck. The fridge hung wide open with all of its visible contents ejected, a series of smears and stains betraying signs of steak, eggs, a partially eaten hock of what was probably ham, and a miniature cosmic horror on a bun making a round trip around the room before coming to a stop in pieces wherever they ended up.

Kid picked up a condensating carton of milk extracted from abducted cows, half empty from spilling, and downed what was left of it as she made her way over to the fridge. It was a little on the warmer side, but thankfully unspoiled (somehow). She tossed aside the now empty carton and pulled the fridge drawer fully open, stashing away the only unbroken bottle of what looked like (and very well could be) wine--a drink she DEFINITELY wasn’t old enough to have--and honed in on what she was actually in there for. She felt equal parts mild satisfaction and disappointment at finding but a single remaining day-old chocolate chip cookie sitting lonely on a plate where a small batch of them would otherwise be. She would take what she could get for now, but was grateful to get anything at all since she hadn’t had one in a long minute. Having now found everything she came back for (for the time being anyways), she shut the fridge behind her and jauntily made for the exit.

She climbed out onto the top of her ship (again, shutting the door behind her) when her attention went to the ranger girl--looking slightly shorter and… ‘ear-ier’ than before--at the edge of the ruined bridge calling to her. “Oh, hi there!” she returned, waving back at her. The girl complimented Kid on her diving skills (having apparently witnessed them) before inquiring as to the success of her search, to which she simply nodded in affirmation. Kid placed the cookie in her mouth to free both her hands, sprinted to the edge of the ship closest to the bridge, jumped to it in a long arc, dove, jumped again to correct her momentum, and ran up onto the ledge to take a seat next to the green clad huntress. She withdrew the cookie from her mouth and stared out into the distance of the Mushroom Kingdom sky in the midst of its transition into twilight and took a moment to savor this one period of respite she’d been granted since first she arrived.

After a few quiet seconds had passed, she prepared to bite into her well-earned treat, but hesitated as her eyes darted over to the ranger, who was the first person Hat Kid had met in this world, as well as the first to help her out in any way. Maybe it was the few too many wrongful (if understandable) accusations of selfishness subconsciously poking at her, or just the realization that some were simply more deserving of favor than others--specifically on account of their moral fiber. Either way, it felt more befitting of her to share what little she could than having it all to herself, so she snapped the slightly aged confection almost perfectly down the middle and handed one of the two halves to her new comrade.

Linkle was surprised that the girl had gone as far as to dive off the castle for the single cookie she was now content to give up half of. The absurdity of her acrobatic prowess she'd displayed to get it mixed together with the willingness to give half the prize away mixed together and elicited a giggle from the farm girls lips. Then again, a dive like that might not have been such a big deal for someone who could leap off of bare air like the Kid seemingly could. Linkle opened her mouth to tell her that she'd earned that, to go ahead and enjoy the whole thing, but before any words could come out a deep rumble from her gut cut her off completely. She hadn't had anything to eat all day, the only sustenance in her belly being the moat water that she'd swallowed when she'd been soaked, and her stomach strongly protested any more deprivation than it was already being put through.

With a hint of embarrassment she reached out and took half of the cookie. "Thanks. Cheers!" She tapped her half against the Kids and eagerly tossed it whole into her own mouth. It was a little stale, but still good and sweet and Linkle had always appreciated a little extra crunch in her food. She signed contently and leaned back against the railing. "That sure hit the spot. I hadn't even realized I was hungry. It's been a busy day, huh?" She said, staring out at the setting sun. "Oh." She said, quickly turning back. "I'm Linkle, Hero of Hyrule. Nice to meet ya for real. We didn't really have the time earlier, what with the dragon and everything."

The child was utterly oblivious to the idea of how strange her spent efforts must have looked from Linkle’s perspective, along with the fact that she was having milk and cookie in the sinfully wrong order, or that dinner was being served in the castle (which she had forgotten all about) where dessert (that might include better versions of those things) would likely follow the main courses. Though, unlike her treat, she didn’t feel at all obliged or compelled to share with the Hylian the actual nature of her investigation--one that was technically ongoing, as of now. It wasn’t as if she thought her untrustworthy; quite the opposite, really. In her mind, it was merely a case of ‘the fewer who know, the better,’ and in the case of Linkle, it was probably best to spare her any burden. Being a “Hero” is hard enough as is.

Her default expression of joyous contentment betrayed no such musings as she joined in a cookie toast (hehe) and bit halfway into her portion. Per usual, she didn’t bother divulging her real name (or any name, for that matter) when Linkle introduced herself proper. She simply returned the greeting with a nodding tip of her hat after she finished chewing her first bite. Just as she was about to take her next, she paused when Bowser Jr. excitedly burst through the castle doors issuing orders to the two girls and a gaggle of inattentive, over-equipped rabbit creatures to assist him with a task undoubtedly better suited for a qualified mechanic (no less than two of which he could find inside) than anyone he was attempting to commandeer. He clearly suffered some delusions regarding the chain of command, because last Kid had checked, she didn’t “work for” anyone; not since Subcon anyways. Besides, what would she know about automotive mechanics or engineering? She’s only ever built her own comfortably livable spaceship.

Linkle also watched with interest as Bowser in miniature sprinted past them. “Junior.” The word Bowser had asked in confusion at the appearance of his giant doppelganger. There was no mistake about who that kids dad was. “Cuter than I expected. I was thinking more spikes and fire.” She said to the Kid, pushing herself off the wall and starting to amble on after him. She would have even if he hadn’t demanded it. Stopping someone from going out there had been the whole reason she’d come out of the castle in the first place. “Head on back inside, I smelled dinner cooking. I’m gonna go make sure he doesn't get creamed out there. The rabbits are pretty safe, but there was this spooky robot.”

Linkle hadn’t even taken two steps before her rabbit ears perked up and she stopped short. “Wait.” she said, closing her eyes. That was weird. Was that...clangs of metal...smashing stone? Was someone in a fight? She cupped her hands around her real ears, leaning them toward the junkyard to listen intently, but rather than come in sharper they became more muffled. Was that not a battle happening out there? But then the only explanation was...

Her fears were confirmed as an unearthly wail rolled up over her, causing her to clamp her hands down over her ears in a vain attempt to keep the noise out. Hat Kid, while being similarly disoriented, was significantly less affected by the sudden sensory overload. Linkle didn’t even think to clamp the rabbit ears, the real source of her trouble that was absorbing every decibel. In so noticing this, Kid attempted to improvise by materializing her top hat and stuffing it on the ranger’s head to surround her bunny ears for use as a sound dampener. They then spun around to face back toward the moat. Something like that was impossible not to pinpoint.

There was another bridge over that way, poking up just behind the Kids ship. You could see it if you were trying to look over the ship, and upon it she could just vaughly make out two black figures locked in mortal combat. This is what Linkle’d been afraid of, what if Poppi had taken her walk right into that? She looked at them, then spun back to watch Junior moving further into the junk yard. She stomped her foot in frustration.

No, calm down. Think about what to do. What would Minako say if you ran around without thinking again. This was simple. You had someone marching, and a fighter in need of rescue. Those two might be shadows, but that just meant they were a heart away from being allies. Junior wasn’t likely to meet resistance soon and he had his own troops??? with him to support his march. So the answer was…

“We need to break up that fight.” She said urgently, turning back to the Kid. She might have been a Kid, but this Kid had fought dragon Bowser. “Who knows, the loser could be a ally waiting to happen and we’d never know ‘cause they’d be gone.” She quickly tapped her chest with her hands, cradling her heart, and from it pulled a bight pink heart to make her intentions clear.

As obvious as it already was, the vibrant heart Linkle summoned clued Kid in on what she was about to do. She recognized this power from earlier when the Courier used it to restore Ratchet, and prior to that when Tora did the same for her. Without further delay or protest, she nodded in agreement, threw the last bite of her cookie in her mouth, and took off posthaste alongside Linkle toward the Eastern bridge, utilizing her Sprint when/if necessary to keep pace with her. Even at top speed, it would take the larger part of a full minute to arrive at the scene; by which time the more feral, monstrous combatant will have taken his leave of the affair, disappearing over the side of the bridge. Kid peered over the side just to be sure, confirming the gangly ghoul’s retreat.

Linkle skidded to a halt right beside her, looking down into the clear water for any sign of the monster. But there was nothing, not even a splash or a ripple. “You think it’s under the bridge?” she asked, suddenly feeling very vulnerable with just the heart to defend herself. That needed to be gotten rid of. “Shout if you see something.” She said to the Kid as she made her way to the fallen warrior. The water’s visibility level made it readily apparent that he wasn’t hiding in it, so the child dove in and resurfaced under the bridge for further inspection to rule out their only blind spot.

The fallen warrior reminded Linkle of Agoston slightly with his heavy armor, but his was much more elaborate and glowed with magical energy. She threw the heart right at his exposed chin, hoping that the thing had at least some of the healing properties of the ones she was familiar with, before quickly drawing both bows and standing protectively over the man in case the monster came back. She could hear the Kid splashing around down there, but there hadn’t been a scream or a gnashing of teeth. At least not yet, so that had to be a good sign. ”All clear!” the child confirmed seconds later with conclusively negative findings.

Linkle let herself relax at that, but only a little. If it wasn’t clinging under the bridge then where in the world had it gone? “Okay, come on back up.” She said, letting out a relieved little laugh. “I can’t believe you went looking for it.” Not that she had much of an idea of what she was looking for at the risk of leaving herself helplessly waterborne against, but considering what she had dealt with today, coupled with her general demeanor, she was hardly afraid of it.

Donnie’s vision swam after that hit. His armor was, while powerful, still weakened, and his skull could only take so much trauma even with his chi to mitigate the damage. He was knocked flat on his rear from that attack, clutching his head. He had barely enough time to get to his feet when he was taken off-guard by a fast-moving purple object hitting him straight in the jaw.
He immediately got into a fighting stance before he noticed that the object didn’t seem to have done any damage. He couldn’t detect any obvious magical effect from it, but...come to think of it, where the hell was he? And why on Azeroth wasn’t he still on the Vindicaar? The last thing he remembered from before all this was Sargeras stabbing the planet with a humongous sword (the effects on the planet would probably keep him awake at night for several years) and the Vindicaar rapidly descending to Azeroth with Sargeras hauled off by the other Titans. Via some kind of magical tractor beam. And then some kind of bright light...

Dear gods, things had really escalated lately, hadn’t they?

In any event, he took stock of his surroundings and sheathed his handblades, only to see a young girl standing protectively next to him. He also heard a child shouting from under the bridge. “Hello there. You wouldn’t happen to know where I am, would you?” he asked.

“Hey.” Linkle said, lowering her weapons even more to placate someone that was obviously out of their depth for now. She’d never had to explain this before. That could be fun. “I’m Linkle. My friend down there is...huh, kid never gave me her name… well, that’s not important right now. Welcome to the war effort, brave hero!”

She pointed over to the light shining like a sun in the sky. “If you’re anything like us, the last thing you remember should be a bright light. That light came from the thing I’m pointing at, a monster called Galeem that tore up all our homes and stuck them together like this. He brainwashed you, me, everybody into working for him except for one small pink guy named Kirby. He used his power to free a bunch of us, and we’ve been moving forward all day fighting and freeing other people Galeem got his light in.”

Hat Kid returned dripping wet to the conversation just in time to hear Linkle’s abridged explanation of events, wringing out the sleeves and corners of her sweater while she listened. It was obvious that her comprehension and recollection might have been slightly short of complete, but all of the essential aspects of the story came through. It was the only explanation she had received since the beginning, and as concise of one as she could have asked for. Still, it did little to make the whole situation any less perplexing in its utterly divine randomness. She would have to inquire further amongst the others later if she cared to know more.

Linkle waved her arm out toward the big castle. “Long story short, we ended up freeing this entire castle and taking the opportunity to rest. Me and the Kid were outside and heard your fight, so we came over to free you with one of these.” Linkle pounded her and pulled out another friend heart to demonstrate the process. “But the guy you were fighting got away, so we weren't able to help him. Did I miss anything that happened inside?” she asked, turning back to the Kid.

The question prompted the child to search her memory for clarification as to what she meant. It suddenly occurred to her that Linkle wasn’t actually present for the boss battle, but the reason for the huntress’s preoccupation eluded her. Regardless, Kid filled her in on what took place, recapping in larger steps the same way Linkle had with the story of their abduction into the world. She explained that the team had fought a hard, somewhat lengthy battle with MegaDragonBowser, and in the process, freeing several captives, losing two of their comrades (who she didn’t know), and seizing the draconic tyrant’s spirit, which went to the Centurion. Beyond that, there wasn’t much more she could add, as she had incidentally made herself scarce during the final round (a fact she was sure to conveniently omit).

...Well then. It seemed Donnie had his work cut out for him this time. First Garrosh Hellscream, then Argus, and now this? It just kept escalating every ten minutes these days!

This Galeem had the power to stitch together different realities to form some kind of bizarre patchwork, and end entire universes in an instant. None of the gods that Azeroth had known had this kind of power. Oh, sure, they could create and destroy worlds, but manufacturing an entire reality out of the broken scraps of the multiverse--which they had just torn apart? This was something else.

“...I see.” Donnie said, after he had internalized all of this information. “At least our worlds are intact, somewhat. That means we might be able to put it back together. I suppose we should head back to the castle now.”

“I would, but I’ve got to make sure a little kid doesn't get himself hurt digging through piles of scrap metal over thataway.” Linkle said, indicating the farther bridge they had come from. “I don’t think I could face his dad if I let him get eaten by that weird monster you were fighting. I was gonna run back over there, but you two could head in. There’s a feast.”

“Sure thing,” the monk responded. Donnie snapped his fingers, and a strange carry-on backpack appeared out of nowhere. He stuck his entire arm into it and pulled out some kind of strange, clearly magical object...and with a poof of smoke, Donnie was now inside...a weird steampunk flying machine parked on the bridge? It was some sort of cross between a two-engined biplane and a helicopter.

“Hop in and we’ll head straight there!” Donnie said to Hat Kid. The engine wasn’t running yet, so he didn’t have to yell. How he managed to spontaneously materialize an airborne vehicle as he did was beyond her. Though with the right equipment, she can do (and has done) the exact same with a moped, so it wasn’t really for her to question. Although it did seem hilariously unnecessary to summon such a contraption to expedite what was, at most, a five minute walk (or a demonstrably shorter run) to the castle’s front door. Still, she couldn’t complain; it was still a free ride, and she was glad to take it. She hopped up into the passenger’s seat, gently lifted her hat from Linkle’s head, placed it back on her own, and lightly tapped on the side of the chassis to signal the pilot that he was clear for take-off.

Donnie ascended with the rotor and then pushed the throttle forward. The vehicle spun up and took off near-instantly, making its way to the castle in a matter of seconds. In hindsight, busting out the Dwarven Flying Machine was probably unnecessary when he could’ve just walked, but walking was for people who hadn’t just gotten back from liberating the entire universe from a demonic Titan’s grip only to find out that said universe had been made part of some cosmic asshat’s multiversal quilt. Yes, that technically put Hat Kid in the same category, but shut up.

The craft landed outside Peach’s Castle as Donnie unsummoned it and placed its orb back in the luggage, before dismissing the luggage itself. “Right, here we are. Now that everyone in the castle heard the noise, let’s go crash the feast,” Donnie said, striding towards the front door. He was always down for feasting. Living with Pandaren for ten years will do that to you. Hopefully they had some choice wines from the royal cellar too.

Level 3 - (8 -> 11/30)
Location: Peach's Castle
Word Count: 1601 (+3 EXP)

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.

Level 2 - (9 -> 25/20) EXP (LEVEL UP!) ---> Level 3 - (5 -> 8/30)
Location: Peach's Castle
Word Count: 1282 (+3 EXP)

Kid wasn’t sure what to expect as far as her findings upon bursting through the doorway at the top of the stairwell, but it certainly wasn’t the overtly lavish bedchamber she found herself in, undoubtedly fit for royalty. Speaking of which, her ‘objective’, as it turned out, was none other than the room’s occupant; a (relatively) brightly dressed woman in crown and frill, planted in an oversized chair in the far corner absentmindedly crocheting away. She might have all but blended in with the rest of the gentle pink scenery if not for the telltale signs of influence that afflicted the child earlier, along with just about everyone else she had encountered (save for her squadmates) since her arrival. How this was at all going to help with the battle against MegaDragonBowser, as she was hoping for, she had no idea. Her mind quickly raced to the conclusion that she was yet another captive of greater importance and relevance similarly in need of rescue, from both her condition and situation, but as far as the former was concerned, how? She didn’t possess the same power as the others to ‘free’ the ‘hearts’ of others, and they were a little busy handling more critical concerns to be bothered with another right now. As Hat Kid pondered what to do next, she was interrupted in the middle of her thoughts when a soft, cleansing shadow swept over the castle, restoring its former life to it and everything in it. The regal woman, having broken from her trance, immediately honed in on the realization of what had just transpired and took off in a hurry downstairs to confirm her intuition, not even so much as acknowledging the presence of an adolescent stranger her room before rushing past her through the doorway.

“Wait!” Hat Kid called to the princess to halt her to no avail. Last she checked, there was a heated battle going on downstairs, so her working assumption was that it probably wasn’t safe for the princess to venture down there to see for herself, as she seemed so eager to do. It didn’t occur to Kid that, being just that: a kid, one might similarly object to her involvement in such perilous goings-on. Regardless, she felt the need to catch up to the princess so she could pull her out of harm’s way if and when needed. With a sourceless chime and a puff of smoke above her head, a winged red visor cap took the place of Kid’s top hat as she sped after the royal at now twice her natural speed. Considering that she was going downhill, it might not have been the best idea to suddenly accelerate as she did; a fact that hadn’t crossed her mind until she reached the bottom. At the last dozen or so steps leading onto the throne room floor, she clipped one of her toes on a misstep, sending her tumbling forward for the last few feet to fall flat on her face against the marbled tile.

Kid looked up from her prone position only to have to shield her eyes from the colorful incandescence that drew all eyes to the center of the room. She could have almost mistaken the glow for that of the boss if not for the variation in hues that coalesced into a whiter, brighter light, that the fact that all the others were more calmly congregated around it, in stark contrast to earlier. She slowly rose to her feet and uncovered her vision as the flames began to die down, and her eyes and mouth widened in curious awe at what she beheld. Amidst the dissipating fires stood--in new form--the knight, now harboring distinct features of MegaDragonBowser. He bore a demonic visage, displayed initially by his new horns, his already exceptional muscle mass swelled, filling out his armor, and a smoldering orange glow burned itself into the chroma of his eyes, piercing through the dark of the ocular pits in his helmet. Hat Kid concluded that this transformation was not too dissimilar to the one underwent by the commando moments ago when infusing himself the soul of the assassin; only this time with a much more potent spirit. Thankfully, this radical change did little nothing to diminish his boisterous demeanor or alter his perceptions of who his allies were, as he cheerfully called for them to join him in a celebratory toast to their hard-earned victory, co-signing on the princess’ invitation to join in a hero’s feast.

On that note, the princess gave her sincerest thanks to the party for her and her kingdom’s emancipation from the infernal usurper before offering them food and fancy as a show of her gratitude. Even through her smile it was easy to see, but hard to imagine just how difficult it must have been for her to live under the tyrant in forcible matrimony for as long as she did, however long that was. The heroes only spent the duration of the short time since Hat Kid’s crash landing dealing with him, which was somewhere under an hour, and already it felt like most of the day had passed. To say the least, it was a relief finally be met with a period of respite from the day’s tribulations. Even if there was some sudden following commotion brought about with Bowser and a suspiciously apologetic newcomer, the real fight was over with… one of them, anyways. The hooded figure made casual mention of there existing a dozen more bosses just like the last--if not worse--along with a commanding name she hadn’t heard before. It was clear to her that he knew a great deal more than everyone else about what was going on, yet he expressed as much in such a confidently nonchalant manner, as if he didn’t worry for the outcome. She would have to make a point to pry at him for answers later.

For the moment, Kid’s attention went elsewhere. She wasn’t ready to sit down and join the others for dinner just yet. She didn’t get a good chance to search Peach’s room for anything of use or interest earlier, as she initially intended to, so she had the mind to run back and follow through on her intentions proper, now things had calmed down a bit. No, she wasn’t planning to STEAL anything! It just stood out to her just how out of place most everyone and everything was in this world, so it wasn’t unreasonable to suspect that certain things might inadvertently end up where they otherwise don’t belong, like in the possession of one to whom it may be unbeknownst. In other words, one could argue--with torturously stretched rationale--that Hat Kid was simply making sure the princess hadn’t stolen anything… accidentally.

At any rate, Kid gave a perfunctory, shifty-eyed glance about her surroundings before quietly sneaking off back to the upstairs bedroom to begin her investigation. She would look behind and beneath the furniture, atop the roof of the bed, behind the paintings (if there were any), maybe inside of a hidden wall or trap door; she would come the room thoroughly anything out of the ordinary that might be worth the effort to find. Her Relic Badge would have made this much easier for her, if she still had it. Alas, she was left at the mercy of educated guesswork this time around. Once again, she didn’t know exactly what she hoped to yield from her search, but her instincts, intuition and earlier reasoning (the more sensible, logical half of it anyways) told her that she needn’t leave the place untouched. Untarnished, however, she would at least try for, but made no promises.

Level 2 - (6 - > 9/20) EXP
Location: Peach's Castle - Throne Room
Word Count: 788 (+3 EXP)

As expected, the heroic troupe wouldn't be able to keep the king on his back, and not for lack of trying. Virtually every available ally present relentlessly pummelled and peppered the downed tyrant for as long as his predicament and temperament would allow, which wouldn’t give them long. After a moment of uninterrupted punishment, the doppelganger decided he had enough and explosively unfurled his burning wings, propelling himself back upright and forcing his attackers off and away from him. Luckily for her, Hat Kid was already positioned far enough outside of the blast radius to not get caught in the fires, but was still thrown from her feet and back towards the broken entryway from the force. She managed to right herself onto three points as she slid to a stop, picking her head back up to look upon the rapidly redeveloping scene. The usurper beckoned them forth to their deaths; few answered--some to his satisfaction. What the child witnessed next was, if she was being honest, horrifying.

The pet killing machine: scrapped; it’s teenage master: pulverized; her friend, the assassin: bisected. All so suddenly--in spite of their best efforts--they met brutal, violent ends. Kid’s eyes went wide and her mouth agape with shock and the sudden and gruesome turn of events that she just bore witness to, powerless to do anything about it. It was then that it truly started to set in for her just how grave, perilous, and unforgiving this new undertaking that she inadvertently found herself a part of was. Less than half an hour she had been in this world, and already, she saw to comrades die in vain for a common cause that she wasn’t even aware of yet. She never even got the chance to properly meet them, which did precious little (none good) to make any of it any easier to watch. For the time being, however, whatever her thoughts or feelings on the matter, she would have to harden herself to it. The cowboy and commando, having reclaimed and assimilated what looked to be the life essences of the now deceased, seemed content to do as much, so she would do the same.

Then, it occurred to her that between the commando’s retrieval and the assassin’s assassination attempt, this made twice in under a minute MegaDragonBowser had been snuck around. This meant that there were places where he wasn’t looking; places where SHE wasn’t looking. If the onyx supports in the room made for an obvious solution, perhaps there was a less obvious one elsewhere. Her train of thought was momentarily interrupted as she braced herself a second too late for the shallow tide of tile that threatened to roll over them, only to be saved yet again by the wing-eared-armed(?) shield warrior when he somehow, to her amazement, managed to divide the earthen wave around everyone behind him. Luckily, that included her. With a moment bought back, the child resumed her musings. With her eyes closed and fingertips to her temples, she bore the appearance of one trying to think in a hurry, which she was in fact doing, but also, she was checking her hat to see if it could find something, ANYTHING nearby that could be of use. Whether it be at the back of the room, along the sides, at the top, directly outside of it, or wherever else, she was all but certain that there had to be a better answer somewhere...

Then, as if arriving at an epiphany, her hat picked something up. An imaginary waypoint directed her to an objective that lay out of the battle, at a door on one side of the throne room that lead -judging by a nearby cylindrical bulge in the wall- to a spiral staircase leading upward. She spared not a moment more of hesitation as she beelined for the stairwell, taking advantage of the ongoing chaos to stealth her way to the other side of the room. In the unlikely event that any of her allies notice her leaving, she hoped they would understand that she wasn't abandoning them, but simply trying to find a better way. After all, she wasn't much good to them in the fight as she was. Whatever it was she expected to find that would somehow help, she would hustle her way up to find out in a hurry so she could return in time to aid the others.

Level 2 - (4 -> 6/20) EXP
Location: Peach's Castle - Throne Room
Word Count: 589 (+2 EXP)

The corrupted Bowser clone was becoming understandably infuriated with the inundation of munitions, magic and muscle being thrown his way from every angle, and why wouldn’t he be? It was a as good a sign as most that the group was starting to wear him down, even if appearances and facade didn’t betray that fact. Still, he was a ways away from going down, and showed no signs of letting up. Even with the overwhelming degree of firepower he found himself faced with, he still managed to toss aside the mightiest of their number with relatively little trouble, going so far as to disrupt their sideline offense while he was at it with a well-placed pitch of immolated scrapbot aimed for the sentry turret and its operator. In the midst of all the activity, Hat Kid managed to stand out to him with her intentive mockery, drawing his (negative) attention and proving her suspicion correct. His obvious ego made him easy to manipulate, but doing so immediately made her a target for an immensely powerful draconic behemoth that could casually run her over or stomp her into nothing without feeling it. She understood this to be a risk when she made her move; she could only wait in anticipation for him to make his.

Luckily for her, and everyone else directly in his way, MegaDragonBowser was momentarily stalled, blinded by a burst of arcane degeneration and racked with yet another deafening round of sniper fire to exacerbate the spells effect, extending their reaction window by one or two seconds before he started up his next attack. The instant the enraged tyrant receded into his shell. Kid spang upward into the air as high as she could manage, spending her second jump for good measure to clear herself of DragonBowser's path as he slid recklessly along the tile at alarming speed and smashed head-first into the onyx structure, violently upending him from the force of the impact. With a propulsive tap of her feet against the pillar behind her, Kid transitioned her back tuck into a forward tuck, unfurling at the crest of her flip, and forcing herself into a descending dive for a Homing Attack into the overturned overlord's exposed underbelly. Chances were that the hyde thickness was even throughout, so she wouldn't stress precision. A good hit anywhere would do, so long as damage was dealt.

She bounced off of her foe like a trampoline and touched back down to the floor, her landing leading her into a light skip. On her third step, she pirouetted mid-stride, turning back to face MegaBowser, and lunged forward once again with her trusty rainshield to fire a weaker, but quicker blue laser blast at the top of his head before he could get back up. (She could tell already that she would be getting a lot more use than usual out of this particular feature today.) The admittedly uncoordinated wave of capitalistic punishment brought down on the boss would not likely do him in, but it was sure to put a noticeable (at least for him) dent in his constitution. This being the result of his hubris and the child’s gambit, chances were he would remember as much and not make the same mistake twice. The party would have to adjust their strategy for when the hyper-temperamental demon turtle recovered, because he would most assuredly be angrier when he got back up than he was before he fell. Whatever would come of that they would have to be doubly ready for.

Level 2 - (1 -> 4/20) EXP
Location: Peach's Castle - Throne Room
Word Count: 730 (+3 EXP)

Success! The chains holding the cages aloft snapped loose at the points of contact with the beam, sending them crashing to the floor to shatter asunder against the marble. Hat Kid, unable to open her umbrella quickly enough after firing with it, landed just before the cages did, sunshade still in hand and knees bent from absorbing the shock of a slightly higher than usual fall. She was left stunned for about a second after the impact, but she otherwise sustained no real damage from it and was quick to regain herself. Luckily for her, she was closer to the ceiling when MegaDragonBowser threw himself into a reckless, whirling charge aimed for those directly before him at ground level, incidentally putting her out of the way of his unstoppable assault. Had she touched down a moment sooner, or fallen prematurely, she might have been made much thinner.

Incidentally, the now freed captives shared her fortune in timing, for in their present conditions, they weren’t good for much other than being out of the way; not yet, anyways. Lest they be promptly relieved of their exhaustion, injuries, ailments, influence, and whatever else, or, failing that, removing them safely from the fight somehow, the efforts made to rescue them would be rendered vain. Kid, being neither a healer nor “strong of Heart”, was outside of her means of seeing to any of that, so she would leave that to those who were while trusting the emancipated to keep out of harm’s way. Most everyone else set to bombarding the boss with whatever they had that could be thrown out him, even if that meant themselves.

Kid took note of the damage sustained to the hall's grand entryway from the boss's last attack, having completely splintered the doors into nothing. The entire room quaked from the impact, nearly knocking the child from her feet and causing her to stumble a step into one of the black columns for support. It was then that she noticed that they were the only structures about to be unaffected by any of it. If there was anything that she knew, it was that when something so conspicuous was placed in the environment in such a way, it usually served some intended purpose, however contrived it may be. This gave her an idea, but she wasn't entirely certain that it was the right one. Though, for lack of a better one, what harm could there be in trying it out? Well... other than maybe getting run over by a gigantic rampaging dragon turtle, that is.

The child placed herself directly in front of the pillar to be between it and DragonBowser, lightly gripped the tip of her weapon with her off hand for stability, and took aim for his face. The ongoing chaos he was currently preoccupied with gave her all the time she needed, which wasn't much, to get off another fully charged blast. The king loudly beckoned for another challenger after throwing aside his doppelganger, and as if to answer him, Kid jabbed her umbrella forward in his direction to fire off a vibrant red beam that fell in-sync with the startling report of a high-powered rifle. The latter of the two was undoubtedly more powerful, but less visible. How the boss responded would depend on what most caught his attention, and being noticed was all she was really counting on. Her plan was to goad the titanic overlord into charging headlong down the aisle once more, but this time into something far more solid. If he was anything like the allied Bowser (as he had thus far proven to be), his excitable temper meant it would take little else apart from directed aggression to provoke him into doing exactly that, but the possibility that he would fall for it was anything but guaranteed. In the case that he did turn his gaze toward her, she would put her left thumb to her ear and wave at him mockingly with her tongue stuck out blowing raspberries. Childish as her taunt was, the gesture would send a clear, if only somewhat feigned message to the king's ego: that she didn't entirely take him seriously. Since she was bold enough to prod him like this, however, she would have to ready herself to swiftly step out of his way for whatever he decided to do next in retaliation.

Level 1 - (8 - > 11/10) EXP (LEVEL UP!) ---> Level 2 - (1/20)
Location: Peach's Castle - Bridge -> Throne Room
Word Count: 927 (+3 EXP)

Power (Equip): Projectile Badge

Kid was surprised to see the Courier respond the way he did to his first use of an umbrella (an idea with which he was unfamiliar); initially with interest and relief, followed swiftly by a sudden onset of frightful aversion. She didn't expect or mean for it to frighten him however it did, but moreso, she was confused as to how this grizzled wastelander, who just got through being blown up twice within the last minute or so, and has no doubt seen a lot prior to that, would be alarmed by something so innocuous as a child's sky blue, star-patterned parasol. Who knows? Maybe some who have seen things always see them. Unable to draw any rational conclusions from inspecting the underside of the simple weathershield and finding nothing, the child dismissively shrugged to herself and stored the device away, taking her leave of the waking Lombax to give him some space while he returned to his senses. She came upon a battleground all but cleared, calmer than when she had left it, save for last ongoing battle between two summoners and an archer that was probably best left uninterrupted, lest anyone be in the way of friend or foe. Anyone , if their newly bolstered ranks were anything to go on, they were all more than capable of taking care of themselves, so those remaining wouldn’t be far behind the rest of the party once they mobilized. Of course, despite having the most stake in it, their objective didn’t seem so urgent to the demonic bull tortoise--their self-appointed leader--that he couldn’t take a moment to bluster about how well his “plan” that he didn’t have worked, no thanks to him. Kid simply rolled her eyes at the boastful remarks and made her way into the castle alongside the others.

They were greeted in the castle foyer by the cacophonous wailing of panicked mushroom men, no taller than Kid (marginally shorter, perhaps), scurrying about in a disorganized fashion; a likely contrast to what was intended for them. Closer inspection would reveal them to be under the same spell (or whatever it was) that afflicted a few of those present mere minutes ago, but the more obvious fact was that they clearly posed no threat to any of them. The group thought the better of wasting any time trying to beat it out of them one by one. Even for those who really wanted to help them, there was a better, if astoundingly more difficult way for them to do that: by dethroning their oppressor. The company pressed on past the agitated servantry and through a set of giant, ornamental doors leading into a lavishly renovated throne room. At its end sat their enemy, Bowser’s more fearsome doppelganger, who wasted little time trading egos with his perceived lesser, pointing to the iron enclosures containing more tranced heroes in need of saving dangling overhead. Bowser (the good one) made the first move (well… command, actually) to free the captives with the intention of adding them to their fighting force, starting with the Herculean simian. This was all the excuse MegaDragonBowser needed to begin the battle proper.

Before anyone else could act, MegaBowser shot a sphere of incendiary breath to the ceiling that exploded on impact, scattering into a hellish rain of embers that set fire to every article of the scenery that could catch it, and threatened to do the same to any careless enough to not heed it. As a share of their number promptly set to rescuing the captives, Kid took off to do the same, keeping her senses about her as she sidestepped several beads of burning hail on her chosen route. She ran as many climbing steps up the wall as she could manage before having to grasp the adjacent drapery and shuffle hand over hand to keep her momentum going into an angular ascent as she lept from one set of curtains and banners to another, repeating this process until one came loose from its bearings from having a substantial portion of its material already burned away. In a moment of startled reflex, she propelled herself of the wall, releasing the falling remains of freshly singed-off fabric as she sailed with an arm outstretched towards the cage containing a stocky ursine and compact avian, and caught a hold of one of the bars by the bottom end.

Her motion carried through with a sudden uptake of force that just about jerked her arm out of socket, causing the cage to both spin and swing in circles. She would attempt to add as much as she could to it with her, frankly, meager strength and weight to build up more inertia until she was satisfied with its trajectory. She dismounted the cell at the height of is swing into a gaining tuck, turned to face the row of cages, whipped out her umbrella, and held it at her side as if ready to joust with it while she lined up her aim with her open hand. Her intention was to shoot the chains from as many cages as she could reach with a single, fully-charged shot, or at least attempt to create some kind of chain reaction (pun not intended) with just the one. While airborne, however, it wasn't entirely guaranteed that she would get even much of a good shot off, but without an otherwise adequately elevated foothold or suspension, it was worth a try. After a three count of energized whirring, Kid thrust her parasol forward, producing a wide torrent of red energy...

Level 1 - (2 -> 5/10) EXP
Location: Peach's Castle - Bridge
Word Count: 2,428 (+3 EXP)

This lot that Kid found herself mixed up with was already starting to send some seriously mixed messages. First, she was pulled to shore and treated by the first two to see her. Now, no more than a moment or two following her arrival, one of the more menacing of them marked her as an enemy with alarming prematurity and wanted her dead, while another stood between her and him with talks of “freeing” her. What did he mean by that? Wasn’t she already free? In a greater sense, no, but as she was, a prisoner within her own form, she hadn’t a sufficiently lucid conception about her own existence to be dialed into the fact. Regardless, her reception thus far had her mentally closing on a much easier fight or flight decision, favoring the latter. That was until she noticed the KING take his unexpected leave back into the castle to attend to what he considered to be more urgent matters. Taking his place was a great disembodied hand, who proceeded to lecture the heroes on the supposed folly of their ways. To exemplify this, he summoned seven distinct figures--lost souls like Hat Kid, bearing the same cosmetic symptoms (with the behavioral yet to be seen)--who were all familiar in some way to certain members of the party, and provided them with a simple, but harsh ultimatum: surrender themselves to rejoin their loved ones, strike them down for the sake of their quest for multiversal restoration, or die trying.

The anthropomorphic alien feline didn’t hesitate. Clearly fraught with despair at the idea of having to fight, let alone kill who he cared for most in this world (or any other), he decided it best to take the right hand’s offer, meeting his hollowed out familiar halfway in an embrace, and turning the opposing septet into an octet in a (literal) flash. This impulsive self-sacrifice prompted the hooded enigma to point his weapon intently at Kid, who, having been fearfully taken aback by the rash gesture, started to slowly back away from him in trembling steps. Was this what he meant; to “free” her not from the nullifying shackles that bound her spirit, but from her very life, believing that she could not be saved from it? From her limited perspective, it was difficult to tell, but judging by his nervous, unsteady aim and stressfully subdued speech, he was no more looking forward to whatever he was about to do than she was. But then, a vibrant heart sailed over the Master and struck the child in dead center of her chest, and a burst of warm fuchsia energy swelled and erupted from the point of impact as the revitalizing force lifted her off the ground. Her color started to replenish itself, saturation fading back in from the source...

With the blinding white clearing away, the ship’s colorful, roomy interior came into focus. Kid unshielded her eyes upon realizing were she was, and looked around the living/control room littered with recovered Time Pieces. It didn’t take her long piece together what was going on, but she went over to open the door in the window (which was no longer boarded up) and leaned out for a second look just to be sure. It was just as she expected; the planet was restored, its denizens saved, and all was returned to normal, just as it was when she first arrived… all except for Mustache Girl. She lay unconscious on the brickwork, exactly the way she left her after their battle. Kid let her pensive gaze last a couple of seconds longer before reaching for a Time Piece, but stopping herself from doing anything with it without taking the chance to think it over once more. Glancing thoughtfully back and forth between the hourglass levitating in her palm and the little red-hooded girl down below, she pondered on whether or not to lend her a single Piece--enough only to cause a little trouble and give her a better chance against the Mafia without inviting an apocalypse.

On one hand, it was her who abused stolen Time power to unmake the world into a treacherous planetwide hellscape where its inhabitants were nigh invariably judged by her to be evil and punished accordingly under her self-imposed, absolute rule, thus proving Kid right in withholding the Pieces on the basis that no one else could be trusted to use their power responsibly. That, and they were hers to reclaim to begin with. She needed them back if she expected to get home, which is why she went through so much trouble to recover them, and now, she ran the risk of potentially cutting herself one Time Piece short of making it back to her homeworld for the sake of carrying out an act of spontaneous, unconditional charity that she previously would not have considered. And yet, from a philosophical perspective, it was hard to deny that her perceived selfishness, however justified, may have partially contributed to driving the delinquent Girl to acting out so dramatically, having been convinced that she was utterly and hopelessly alone in her cause. Come to think of it, Kid had no idea what Girl's upbringing may have been like under the oppressive Mafia (or in general) that could explain her moral outlook, and if she did have any insight on her origins, she may very well have been inclined to feel sorry for her. In a way, even if she wouldn't openly admit it, she already did. Still, it had to be more than mere pity forcing her hand, and something greater than simple necessity staying it. What lesson, if any, did she stand to learn from her adventure? One about understanding? Selflessness? Second chances? Finding better ways? Whatever conclusion she came to on this would ultimately influence her decision.

After deciding one way or the other, Kid placed herself in the driver's seat and excitedly vacuum sealed all of the strewn Time Pieces back into the vault in preparation for takeoff. With her good work finished and the planet's reality reset, she could finally leave this world behind for the one she belonged to, and no would ever notice, let alone care that she was ever there once she was gone… as was probably for the best. At last, she was set to be homebound once again. With a full-forward push on the throttle, the spaceship's engines began to wind up, energy coalescing around the afterburners, and within an instant, the ship… abruptly stalled out. Something--or someone--was on the ship that didn’t need to be… again. Kid stood upright in her seat and shot a look to the door that emphatically said “What now?!” and then cutely stomped her way over to the door in frustration. What she found when she peeked out for the second time surprised her--a line of now ex-antagonists turned friends clinging to the window’s ledge, begging their beloved savior not to leave. Alas, as much as they might miss her, it was time for her to go, so she swept the stowaways from the window seal (literally, with a comically oversized broom) and waved them goodbye before returning to her seat. She couldn’t help the sentimental water from lightly welling up in her eyes, for as hectic as her experience was, she, too, would miss this place--and the people in it. She quickly dried her tears and reengaged the throttle once more, this time disappearing off into the cosmos at warp speed, a blue starry glint in the distance signifying her departure. Not but a few seconds after, a magnificent river of light washed over the entire planet, reducing it in its entirety to phosphorescent ash, dissipating into the calamitous everbright.

It had been an especially long and irregular day for Hat Kid, and she was already beginning to feel the effects of its labors creep up on her. The child's exhaustion was more of a mental one than physical, but for her, it was as good an excuse as any to retire to her room and write what would turn out to be a disappointingly vague diary entry before passing out. After letting out a tired, heavy sigh, preceded by a yawning stretch, she pivoted and dismounted her chair to head for the bedroom, only to be stopped at the first door by yet another round of alarm soundings, to which she rolled her eyes with an irritated groan. To think that now, of all times, she would be deprived a deserved moment of respite! Though, what she discovered upon rushing back to her station to observe the situation critically warranted her attention. At the speed she was travelling, she could only faintly make out the details, but what she beheld would have still been hard to miss. She reeled back in shock at the sight of celestial bodies being destructively overtaken in rapid succession on all sides by winding golden beams of burning polychroma. Coming up in the ship's peripheral view, Kid noticed a divided cluster of the same photonic masses beginning to surround her. The ship sporadically bobbed and weaved about at her behest in a series of unguided evasive maneuvers while trying to find some way, ANY way, to overboost the vessel to wring just a little more velocity out of it, desperately determined to outrun the encroaching wave of hostile radiance that pursued her, but to no avail. Her trusty spacecraft was working as hard as it could for her, and could give no more. Even as the realization of hopeless futility set in, and the ever-intensifying incandescence gradually closed in around her, narrowing her field of view, Kid couldn’t look away. Her eyes remained wide open and constricted with fear up until the very end, when the light finally washed her away.

Fear--a sensation seldom experience by her--would be the last she felt. Fear of never having the chance to her friends--both old and new--again. Fear of never getting to share her stories, or ever living to tell another. Fear of never making it home. Fear of everything being in vain. Fear of no longer being…

...and then… she no longer was.

When she was lowered back to her feet, Kid reopened her eyes, coming into consciousness as if waking up for the first time today. With her life force renewed, and her being restored, her memories followed, flooding back to her in short order. Save for a few anomalous blank spots in memory--like how she got here, the events leading up to now, and whether or not she actually gave Mustache Girl a Time Piece--she remembered everything. Her previous adventure, her new friends, the light; ALL of it. Her prolonged journey now inexplicably lead her here, lumped in with a band of definite misfits facing down a faction of corrupted guardians summoned by a giant hand attempting to persuade them into the eternal forfeiture of their lives. Of course, they weren’t having it. The ellipsoidal mammalian creature with wing hands for ears (presumably the same one to revive Hat Kid) was the first to offer up a rebuttal, grounding his speech in hope and inner strength and all that stuff. Others followed with their own version of a personal pep talk to psych themselves up for the impending battle to save those they cared for. It was all very inspiring, to say the least. The rest opted to dispense with the theatrics, formalities and bolstering and set themselves directly before their chosen opponents in reluctant anticipation of what came next.

As if to signal the combatants, shots went flying the instant the Master Hand blinked itself out of existence, the ensuing chaos causing some of the pairs to scatter so as to engage their respective frenemies with little interruption. The activity overload made it difficult to select a target, but after taking a second to assess the situation, Kid managed to pinpoint a place on the battlefield where she might be useful. She could only hope so, anyways. The giant draconic tortoise (the ‘friendlier’ one in the tuxedo) seemed to think so, else he wouldn’t have unceremoniously conscripted her into his “army” of “baddies”. Yeah, whatever. Last she checked, she wasn’t one of the “bad guys”. What bad guy would go out of her way for the second (or so) time to lend heroic aid where it is so obviously needed when she could just as easily be well on her way to anywhere else doing as she pleased? She may not have had any idea what was going on just yet; all she knew was that it was too important to sit out or bail on.

Kid shrugged at the de facto leader’s declaration before running up the broad side of his shell, bouncing off the flat of his hat like a buoyant stepping stone, and springing high into the air, soaring in the direction of the Lombax, his companion bot, and the cowboy. The moment they finished their conversation, Ratchet peered upward through the sun’s glare to spot the child aggressively rocketing towards him in a controlled dive. He instinctively arced his wrench overhead in a defensive swing to parry her reckless charge, the force of the impact sending her into a reverse midair tumble. She deftly touched down on three points, brandishing her umbrella (having pulled it from seemingly nowhere), and darted forward to take two more swings at the commando. Ratchet responded in kind, deflecting the first, then catching the second between the prongs of his weapon, briefly locking parasol with wrench. In Ratchet’s (and Clank’s) empowered state, Kid was nowhere near strong enough to hold a deadlock with him, let alone prevail in one, so a mildly forceful thrust of his Omniwrench was all he needed to break their clash. Kid slid backwards on her feet against the masonry beneath them, stopping just parallel of the Courier to his left. She quickly regained her bearings, shot the rugged man a curious look, then gently smiled and waved at him. “Hey,” she offered casually to her new battle partner, blissfully unaware of his standoffish nature, or that, in general, he might not receive the aid of a child with the warmest of acclaim, writing it off instead as an interference at best. It was entirely possible that she wasn’t taking the whole affair as seriously as she should right away, and that she was already enjoying herself more than she should have been. As far as she was concerned, it was just good to be her (real) self again.
@CAWs For AlarmSee you in battle, bruv! Have fun fighting us.
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