Mercenary Mission 1: Recruitment drive at Peach's castle
The heavily scarred titan of a man examined the trio who had answered his summons over a small desk in the room he’d commandeered for briefing away missions before shrugging. “Yer not exactly the type’a people i’m used to doing merc work, but seeing as we’re starting with the recruitment drive rather than any kinda dangerous stuff, you’ll do,” the merc captain said, in an accent only person in the room, (and notably this person was not Vandham), recognized as Australian.
The three heroes, all of whom had stood against Galeem on the day of their arrival, (and, admittedly, lost) were a bit disgruntled by this casual dismissal of their fighting ability, but while the disconcertingly blank faced Wii Fit Trainer and waist high Dr Mario let the comment wash over them like water off a duck’s back Zelda decided to actually have words about the matter, “I assure you sir, we are more than capable of handing ourselves.”
Vandham shrugged. “Maybe, but it doesn't matter. Place your going’s the only other area other than this one cleared of Galeem’s influence, least according to the details that got left with me, so unless you get real irksome none of the troops yer tryna muster should get rough. That said, it might be safe, but that don’t mean it’s not important. That turtle kid’s been using it as a teleporter hub, so it’ll be vital to secure the place, get everyone on side and the like. Make future operations a mighty sight easier. Got it? Good. Here’s the rest of the details on the place we’ve got, plus some priority targets.”
Zelda was presented with a short list of people and places to look into, one she’d seen a copy of pinned to an information board outside Vandham’s office, by one of Vandham’s assistants. The small cat-like creature with bat wings who sported a singular antena ending in a bright red pompom was called a moogle, and it did not fit Vandham’s aesthetic one bit.
“That’a said, we appear to be a missin’ someone,” Dr Mario said, “We can’t’a get this operation started without’a the whole team right?”
“Ah right yeah. Let me get them” Vandham said, before reaching down behind the desk and gently picking up and placing a toy poodle
on the desk. The small dog looked at them with boundless love while the large handed man gently pet the cute we thing “May I present your fourth member, I’m sure he’ll be a huge hit with potential new recruit.s”
Zelda looked at her teammates to make sure they were also seeing this. Mario shrugged with hands and all while the Wii Fit Trainer approached the dog, telling it, “Come along, we’re going for walkies.”
In response the small dog happily hopped off the desk into her arms, before being put down on the ground so it could walk alongside them.
“Like I said, not what I’m used to working with, but I guess that’s what happens when I take my orders from a giant bee,” Vandham said to them, before reassuring them. “Still, I'm sure you’ll do fine. Report back to me when you’re done via one of these Moogle fellas.”
The man gestured to one of the cat creatures who happily floated over and formed a pact of mailstewardship with Zelda.
“Roight then that’ll be all. Good luck.”
“I’a wouldn’t let him'a get to you. We dont’a exactly look the part after all, and saving the worlds not exactly our’a day jobs, but I agree, he shouldn’t judge books by their covers,” Dr Mario told Zelda as they made their way to Jr’s warp graffiti, the little puppy happily hurrying along after them, his lead held by the trainer.
“I’m fine, but thank you for your words Doctor,” Zelda replied, “It’s not like I wish to go fight, goddesses know it's not my, well it's not my day job as you say, but it was rather rude to dismiss us like that.”
She got murmurs of agreement from the pair, but after that there was little time for chit chat, as their journey to their mission was a short one. A quick portal hop brought them to Peach’s castle with ease, the only problem getting their puppy to take the strange transportation method, which they resolved by picking him up and pushing him into it. Also catching him after the puppy excitedly ran off into the greens of 1-1 upon arrival, got into a tussle with a Poochyena and then fell into the moat. After that malarkey was over and the rabbid spectators they’d drawn had dispersed, they were ready to begin their mission.
The commotion they’d caused ment their arrival was not a surprise, and so once they entered the castle they were confronted by a cautious looking Toadsworth, escorted by Donkey Kong, Spyro and the kid who seemed to have elected themselves as the castle’s defenders. Watching from various hiding spots behind doors and furniture were the castle’s toads. This cautious behavior quickly disappeared among those familiar with Mario when they spotted the same named Dr among the Squad.
“Ah, master Mario, so good to see you again!” Toadsworth said with relief.
“It’sa Dr Mario actually. Me and'a Mario arn’t the same person. Strange, I’a know, but thats’a how it is.”
“Oh…” Toadsworth said, looking a touch concerned before he quickly examined their eyes and found them free of the light, “You’re still friendly though, aren't you? I can see the light of this ’Galeem’ is not in your eyes.”
“That we are. I’m princess Zelda, it’s lovely to meet you. We’ve come from Smash City Alcamoth, where we were freed from Galeem’s power by Princess Peach and her party of heroes. Quite a lot of us smashers there, along with plenty of others. Now Alcamoth is a haven for the free, and a staging point for our fight against Galeem,” Zelda spoke up as the group's unofficial lead negotiator.
“Is that so?” Toadsworth replied cautiously.
“Oh, oh yeah. I’ve seen her. And him. And her! She kicked me in the face?” came the shrill and rather grating voice of one of the toads. The first was quickly joined by several others, all who had been used as spore releasing counter moves by the princess at one point or another. Their words were bolstered by Donkey Kong's nods. Being smash contestants did not make them 100% trustworthy, villains like Ganondorf and Bowser were among their numbers after all, but it eased the tension that had been filing the room a great deal.
“And this Alcamoth is a safe haven you say?” Toadsworth asked.
“Most certainly. With the amount of freed peoples there, plus the defensive nature of the city itself perched atop a floating island, I’d say there isn’t a location safer than it in the whole world for those free of Galeem’s influence.” Zelda assured them. She hadn’t thought about that fact till now, but now that she did it was obviously the case. “Might I ask, have you had..trouble before? To induce this caution?”
“We’ve had a one or two…unpleasant visitors,” Toadsworth admitted.
“Yeah, but we took care of them,” injected Spyro, as DK punched his palm to make clear exactly how they’d been dealt with, and the kid twirled a new assult rifle
that showed what had happened to the troublemakers afterwards.
“Yes. Like that. But to preempt you offering us a place there, it would simply not be proper to abandon her royal highness’s castle after she left it in our charge. Despite the dangers,” Toadsworth insisted, dutiful if rather nervous about the prospect.
“I understand that completely. And we won’t force you to move I promise. We’re mainly here for a recruitment drive, to see who would be interested in joining up to help us in the fight to take back this world,“ Zelda assured him.
“I see. Well there are a few other people who are freed from Galeem’s power who have taken up residence here. And a few whose eyes still glow. But I fear that if you convince them to leave, that would leave us even more unprotected.” Toadworth worried.
“I’d never dream of leaving you defenseless. In fact, seeing as I believe Bowser Jr has been using this palace for more of his teleportation paintings, this will likely be an important part of our fight against Galeem! Which means more of us would be stationed in this location to keep it safe. Right team?” Zelda said, glancing back at her squad for confirmation.
Dr Mario nodded from behind a clipboard he was using to note down all the promises Zelda was making on behalf of the smashers, while Wii Fit Trainer added “If that’s something you’d consent to of course. We wouldn’t want to impose.”
“Oh no, of course not. Only if you’d allow it.” Zelda quickly agreed.
“Hmmm. That does sound good,” Toadsworth glanced over at the castle defense squad, who all nodded with agreement after a few moments, “I can point you to our other guests, though I can’t guarantee they’ll all be interested.”
“That's great. We’ll take whoever we can get. So, who’s here?”
After they got a rundown of who was available, the team agreed to split up and check in with them.
Zelda first checked for Luigi in the library, but instead of finding the plumber she found the place ghost free and instead infested only with a group of Rabbids, who’d gotten in through an open window, and were in the process of making a mess of the place. The bunnies were shooed out of the room in quick order, a librarian toad rescued from under a pile of books and by them Zelda were directed down to the kitchen.
There she found the plumber chatting with Princess Daisy of all people. The princess was sporting one of peach’s dresses
instead of her own own classic orange one. The one she had been wearing when everything went down was currently being washed and repaired, she explained, as it had suffered dreadfully on her journey to the castle. She had awoken in the dark forests to the west of the castle, and acquired an escort of goblin rangers
to help her get there. Said goblins were in the middle scarfing down anything and everything the chef toad could make them, as was a very large rabbid. Daisy and the goblins’ leader, who introduced herself as Warchief Hollythorn
, spent some time regaling the squad and Luigi with their adventures traveling through the woods over their own meals until Zelda brought up the prospect of joining the smashers.
“Explain this to me again, because what you’re saying doesn't make a lick of sense,” Hollythorn asked after Zelda tried to explain the state of the world to them.
“Yeah. The sun’s bad and mind controlling people? The world’s all messed up? That doesn’t make any sense at all?!” Daisy reiterated in a far more energetic manner.
“I. Well. Oh dear,” Zelda said, really noticing the red eyes of the new arrivals properly, and understanding personally what it meant.
Luigi, free as he was, did get it, but the less adventurous of the Mario Bros’ lived up to his cowardly reputation “I, well, I’da love to help but I’ve gotta stay. You know. Keep the kingdom and Daisy safe while my bro’s out adventuring.”
“Aw. You're sweet but I there’s a reason I’ve only got kidnapped once when it keeps happening to Peachy dear,” Daisy injected before flexing a tomboyish arm. Both Bowser and Peach might have had words for her regarding that, namely that Daisy’s kidnapper had proved to be considerably less persistent than the Koopa King, but Luigi wasn’t inclined to disagree with her bravado.
“Oh. Uhhh. Still. Covering the home front is’a kinda my thing” Luigi insisted, continuing to attempt to avoid the call to adventure “I’m sure my bro’d be up to help. If you can’a find him. He headed south I think, though Im’a not sure where he’s ended up”
Hollythorn gave the plumber a dirty look for his blatant cowardice, but still wasn’t really interested either “Look. We’ll think about it, okay, but we’re not going to risk our butts for whatever your weird cause is for nothing. Gotta think of my people here,” she gestured a thumb to her goblins. “And after what we’ve just had to slog through to get here safely, I’m not so sure I’m up for whatever this is.”
“Yeah. Give us girls some time for a little R and R before bombarding us with weird quest junk geeze,” Daisy agreed.
“Ok. I can see I’m not getting anywhere right now” Zelda said disappointedly, “just promise me you’ll consider it once you're recovered.”
Zelda sighed mentally. She hoped the others were having better luck.
The good doctor found Henry in the Master of Master’s laboratory, and by the way he guiltily slammed the book he’d been reading shut upon Dr Mario’s entry into the room he had almost certainly not been invited inside.
“Ah. Greetings. Are you looking for the Master of Masters? Well I’m afraid he isn’t here,” Henry hurried over to Dr Mario and rudely shoved him out of the room again before the good doctor could see where Henry had trapped the master’s little assistant.
“You’ll have to come back later. Goodbye!” he insisted before slamming the door shut. And then bolting it.
“Thanks. I think I needed this” Minako Arisato told the Wii Fit Trainer between bouts of giggling as she pett the toy poodle sitting in her lap, who was trying its best to lick her face off. “But I’ve fought impossible odds before and it…well, it didn't turn out well.” The young woman said, before staring off into the distance, a pained expression returning to her face that the puppy had previously managed to chase away.
The Trainer looked at this with concern as the puppy pawed and whined at the traumatized girl before she gently put a hand on Minako‘s shoulder and asked, “Would you like a hug?”
After an embrace, a flow of tears and more kind words the Trainer left to rejoin her team without any new recruits, but she felt the interaction had been well worth her time regardless.
“I’m not a fighter. Well, I am a trainer, but I’m not the kind of guy who goes around saving the world. I’m more of a helper. A giver of advice,” Steven Stone, President of the Devon Corporation explained as he and Dr Mario (with emotional support from Nintendog) tended to an injured growlithe who’d limped into the castle, its pelt scorched by energy blasts. “And a supplier. Some of the people who freed this place I supplied with pokeballs for example. Haven't seen any of them apart from that young trainer Bowser Junior since mind, though he certainly took full advantage of my services. You said this palace would be a base of operations of theirs?”
“Yes. There’s a few other trainers there as well I think? There's definitely plenty of pokemon, and a few of them, like Pikachu, are on the mercenaries roster,” Zelda explained “I’m sure they’d appreciate any aid you could give.”
“On their own?” He got a nod from Zelda. “How strange. Well now you’ve certainly piqued my interest, your highness. If you give me a little more time, I’ll accompany you when you return. Just need to make sure this little guy’s back on his feet before we go,” Stone said, gently petting the clear eyed growlithe sympathetically.
“That’s okay. We’ve got one last stop on our tour.” Zelda told him.
“Where would that be?” he asked out of curiosity.
“Ah. Well I wish you good luck. I think you will need it. It was bad enough before that lanky gentleman arrived, but I believe the arguments over the treasure will be reaching a boiling point sooner rather than later.” Steven told them, before the sound of a small explosion drew all eyes to the door leading down to the dungeon, and the royal treasury.
The team rushed down the stairs into the basement of the castle. If they’d had time to think about it, they might have been confused by the sudden change of architectural styling. The fairytale princess look of the castle vanished and was replaced by a rather dark, dank and grimly medieval affair. Had the world not been turned topsy turvy, someone paying attention might have thought it a sinister secret, a veiled hypocrisy hidden under the peachy exterior. But the world was a mess, and those running through it had little time to contemplate it as they chased the sound of explosions.
Pinnacles of fitness and good health that they were, the Trainer and Dr Mario made excellent time, both barging into the treasury only a couple of moments after the first shot was fired. Inside where mountains of tresure
that represented vast wealth in most places and basically nothing in a few like the kingdom’s neighboring bean bean kingdom. Four people had certainly decided it was worth fighting over.
The massive Roadhog was in the middle of brawling with the much shorter but equally fat Wario, the pair of heavyweights wrestling in a sea of gold coins near the back of the chamber and trying to beat the snot out of each other.
“It’s mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! My treasure!” Wario was yelling while punching Roadhog in the gut. The titan of a man didn't waste breath on words as he tried to gore the yellow clad criminal with his hook, his shotgun having been lost in the piles of gold in the opening moments of the brawl.
While their heavyweight allies battled up close, the other two members of the battle were keeping at range, standing at opposite walls of the treasury. The short, skinny and manic Junkrat was pelting his fore with his ball like grenades while ducking and weaving to avoid those very same bombs coming right back at him as Waluigi of all people batted the bomb balls with a racket with the skills of a tennis ace.
“Stop that you lanky twat!” Junkrat was yelling as he narrowly avoided being blown up by another of his own bombs
“You stop it, I could keep doing this all day weh-heh-heeeee” Waluigi laughed, twirling his racket and his mustache at the same time.
“Wow, hey’a now let’s stop’a this fighting!” Dr Mario called out for peace, to little avail.
“Get lost Mario, Waluigi's got this!”
“Yeah piss off doc! Parry this lanky!” Junkright called out while grabbing one of his disk shaped mines and hurling it towards the alarmed waluigi, who leaped to one side. The bomb never reached him however, as instead the Nintendog leapt into the air and caught the explosive disk like a frisbee.
“Ah! Puppy! No no no! Stop! That’s not a toy!” Junkrat cried out, as the small dog dropped to the ground and tried to drag the bomb back to him to be thrown again. The sight of the most adorable puppy dog in the world with a massive bomb in its mouth stopped all of the fighting in its tracks, because while the brawlers were a bunch of crooks and cheaters it took a real monster to keep fighting when a puppy was at risk of exploding.
“No. No. drop it. Drop it. Good dog” the smoking-haired bomber said as he managed to retrieve his bomb from the Nintendog. “Now, where were-”
“No. no no no no!” Zelda said as she stormed up to junkrat “Put that thing down! No more fighting! We are talking this out! By the goddesses the world’s been turned upside down by a malevolent god and your fighting over treasure like children!”
“Wow hey now lady,” Junkrat said, backing up as Zelda jabbed him in the chest with a finger.
“And you, what are you even doing here!” she exclaimed, pointing an accusatory finger at Waluigi “Shouldn’t you be back at the base, waiting in case you get called up?”
“Nobody tells Waluigi what to do! You don’t put up a bit of paper telling me where my main man Wario is and expect me to not help a brother out dealing with some stinky weirdos tryn'a take his treasure wah!”
“It’s not his, it’s ours! We finally had a deal till worked out you showed up and broke it you gangly freak!” Junkrat accused the taller Waluigi .
“He’d never break a deal I made!” Wario retorted.
“It’s not even your treasure. It belongs to princess peach!” Zelda interjected, she and her team placing themselves between the two parties as the two duos of fat and thin got back together on either side of the room.
“So?” all four replied .
“You were going to rob her! Shame on you!” Zelda chided. When no shame was forthcoming from the crooks she switched tact “What were you even going to do with the treasure! The worlds a dangerous mess! It’s not like you have anywhere to stash it or spend it or even transport it.”
“Ehhhh...” “Ahhh...” “Uhhh...” three of them dithered while looking over the massive piles of gold while Roadhog muttered to his partner, “Told you this was a bad idea.”
“Hey. Shut it. Even a handful of this stuff would make us rich!” Junkrat insisted.
“Not’a really,” Dr Mario said “coins are’a pretty common in the mushroom kingdom. Exchange’a rates pretty bad for them.”
“What?!” Junkrat cried out, appalled by the fact that the Wario bros were nodding along to this and generally looking very discouraged as a result.
Before thinking it over as Roadhog stared him down and then saying “Well… even if that’s the case there's still the bars. Jewels? The emerald!… that you stole!” he said, jabbing an accusatory finger over at Waluigi
“Wah?! No, you stole it. Cheaters!” Waluwigi retorted, pointing a finger back at them.
Things started heating up again but before Zelda could find out what this emerald was there was a bark from the nintendog. The toy poodle had lost interest after the exploding frisbee incident had resolved and had been sniffing around the piles of treasure. Then, while the arguments had been ongoing, it started digging, tossing coins aside until it came face to face with a rabbid who had been buried within. The white haired creature raised a finger to its lips, trying to tell the dog to shush, but instead it yipped excitedly, drawing the attention of the crooks and heroes to the rabbid and, more importantly, to the green glowing energy overflowing Emerald
it was holding.
There was a moment of silence as comprehension dawned on who exactly had stolen the treasure that had started the four’s argument.
“Get him!” all four crooks cried out, rushing the screaming rabbid, only to comically get in each other's way and fall in a heap, over which the rabbid ran screaming obnoxiously. The impact of the four men with the gold pile and the cries of the bunny spooked half a dozen other rabbids from the piles of treasure as well, all of which ran for it out of the treasury with the humans, and one dog, hot on their tails.
The mad scramble blasted out of the dungeons and into the main hall of the castle where the mad chase looped over itself into a chaotic mess, but in the end the rabbid’s evident refusal to leg it out the open castle doors meant that the Wii Fit Trainer eventually cornered the emerald stealer, lifting it up by the scruff of its neck and pulling the cause of the kerfuffle in the treasury from its paws.
“I have to say,” Stven Stone said as he walked over to them, the recovered growlithe padding happily along beside him, “I’ll be happy to see the back of these nuances once we leave. It feels like more and more of them have been showing up over the day.”
“Yeah! Dozens and dozens of them! They just forced their way in and refused to go back outside. They’re making a mess of everything,” one of the Toads told them, as a small group of them got to cleaning up the mess caused by the rabbid riot.
There was a bit of murmuring in agreement about that before the conversation began to turn back to the treasure. Before it could get anywhere however Roadhog spoke up and asked “If those things are all in here, then what’s keeping the robots in check?”
There was a pause, and then all eyes turned to the wide open castle gate. It was at that very moment that the first wave of robots, having either killed or driven off the last of the rabbids, arrived to besiege the castle, heralded by the rapid stomping of metal feet.
An advanced force of splicers and scouts rushed in through the open gates and assailed the humans inside. Pills, bombs, fists, magic, rackets, vengeful growlithe fire and more took apart the advanced force with relative ease, but it was only the beginning. The main force of Nulltrooper, Enforces, Soldiers, Medics, Heavies and Demos arrived shortly after and while it did not represent the worst of what the robots could offer, but the vast number of them swarming the castle still posed a major threat to the heroes.
The battle, far longer and more chaotic than any of the short skirmishes that had occurred between Megadragonbowser’s fall and the smashers’ arrival, drew in everyone. DK, Spyro and the kid came first to fulfill their duty as the castle's defenders, but even their reinforcements did not end the strife. Soon Henry appeared and began shelling the robotic horde with spells. Luigi fought alongside the at once strange and familiar partner of Dr Mario. Daisy joined in with Waluigi’s demonstration of how you could weaponize sporting equipment. Hollythorn and her goblins added much needed volume of fire, raining arrow and crossbow fire upon their foes. Even Minako pulled herself from her stupor long enough to bring her persona to bear against the malevolent machines, Junpei by her side.
The onslaught came on and on, and the defenders rapidly learned that the so-called castle was anything but. Barricades had to be erected by furniture dragged out of the castles rooms and tossed into the wide open entry hall. Attempts to raise the gates were quickly foiled as soldiers blasted the chains apart.
But the heros persevered. They fought hard and, as heroes do, in the end they triumphed. When it was all over fading spirits of countless machines littered the castle. So to did scorch marks and bullet holes. The danger of the world had come to the castle, and it no longer seemed like the sanctuary it once did.
“Are you hurt?” Zelda asked Hollythorn, offering the smaller woman her hand to raise from where she was sitting behind a ruined table. The goblin took it, wincing as she stood.
“Took one of those purple constructs’ shots. I’ll be ok.” She glanced over her troops, doing a quick headcount before sorrow found her eyes. “Can’t say the same for my women.”
“I’m sorry.” Zelda said, laying a hand on her shoulder.
“It happens. We’ll bury the dead and...” she paused and Zelda could see the woman was mentally bumping against the blocks put in place by Galeem. How could you bury a body when nothing but a quickly fading spirit remained? Zelda touched her hand to her heart and drew out a pink glowing copy of it.
“If you want to understand, take this. Let it free your mind and heal your spirit.”
The goblin looked at the magic suspiciously but then nodded. She grasped the princess hand in hers and understood the truth. Soon, they all did. The world was broken, and they couldn’t just sit here in this bubble and wait for it to all be over, and so the team had their recruits.
There was more to it, of course. Spirits needed to be swept up. Hollythorn collected her people’s dead and bound them as a striker squad, much like Jr did with his minions. Those who were still under control and also had escaped the battle unharmed were quietly split up and initiated
into the ranks of the free. The rabbids infesting the castle were hunted down and freed as well. Work began to prepare for the next assault from the robot menace.
But ultimately, the mission had been a success so soon enough a Moogle popped up in Vandham’s room to give him a report the team had written together.
“Me an’ my big mouth.” he sighed as he read about the attack before setting the report heading over to greet the new recruits and take command of their newly acquired supplies. Mission result:
Mercs acquired: Henry (Fire Emblem Awakening), Roadhog and Junkrat (overwatch), Kid (I Wanna Be the Guy), Luigi, Princess Daisy, Toad(s), Toadsworth, Donkey Kong and Wario (Mario) Warchief Hollythorn and a Goblin Ranger Unit (The last Regiment), Minako Arisato (Persona 3), Junpei, (Persona 3), Spyro (Spyro), Steven Stone (Pokemon)Resources acquired:
New base: Peaches Castle,
Royal treasury supplies: lots of gold and treasure, one chaos emerald (green), one Super Crown
Spirits from mann vs machine bots and null sector robots (crushed):
Three quick-fixes, an assortment of default Scout, Soldier, Medic, Heavy and Demo guns, ammo and melee weapons from tf2, 3 plasma pistols (wrist mounted)
+ battery packs, 1 energy tower shields, 1 Viking Riotshield and matching smg
+ 9mm Soft Point ammo, 200 credits
and a bunch of scrap metal