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3 yrs ago
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The Koopa King

wordcount: 623 (+1)
Bowser: Level 8 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (71/80)
Location: The Dead Zone - Hell-bent City

Things started out well, at least from Bower’s limited perspective. With Blazermate’s kritz power and his claw tips he’d rendered through the undead hordes and unleashed a massive ball of blue sparking flame that rolled forth towards the skull girl without any indication that it’d stop or that she’d try and get out of the way of it. He also wasn’t alone in his push towards the girl. Banjo and Kazooie vaulted over his slow advance and then went their separate ways, each one leaving a trail of havoc and mayhem as they cleaved or rode their way through the hordes to either side of him.

Linkle too went for the kill, but this is where the trouble began, as Marie showed off the true potential of her skellie summoning. The hylian hero had been getting the best of her at first, her waves of arrows, ice and bombs perfectly suited to this kind of battle, trashing undead and overwhelming Marie’s defenses, but it all came apart when skeletons suddenly grabbed up out of the floor. The undead grabbed her, preventing the nimble hero from dancing away from danger as she had been. Then she summoned a team of gangsters and the tommy gun toting goons filled her with lead.

”LINKLE!” Bowse roared in alarm as she hit the deck. He wasn't the only one to see her fall. Nero raced to her side and avoided the same fate Linkle (likely due to other threats having gotten closer) and proceeded to try and pull her to safety.

”HEEL, GO HELP HER!” Bowser called out, before summoning the titular Rabbid support in a large claw and then tossing him up over the skellies to land next to Nero. Heel, once he got a grasp of the terrifying situation, ran screaming obnoxiously after Nero. Using a combination of grenades and healing pulses the Rabbid attempted to make sure that Nero would be able to make it out and that Linkle would be able to survive her evacuation.

Aid given to the fallen, Bowser pushed onward as his fireball hit home, something that honestly surprised him. The girl had arrogantly stood her ground against the kritz boosted mega fireball, attempting to shield it with a destructible shield of packed bones that the ball had plowed through like it had plowed through everything else. Even after it swept over and scorched her it kept going, rolling onward out into the open air behind her, before floating onward above the dead city like a tiny sun.

Bowser wasn’t done with just that, but unfortunately neither was Marie. The girl seemed to still have plenty of minions in reserve and also seemed to be more than happy to let them do her dirty work for the time being. The part of him that wasn't fuming about what she’d done to Linkle approved of this. It was the proper villainous way to do things in Bowser’s opinion.

Against Nadia she brought up the remains, or facsimiles of the remains, of her dead family to inflict a psychological blow. Against the rest of the squad she brought out a band of five skeletal powerful warriors. Against Bowser however she used something off theme. A shadow. That alone would have taken Bowser off guard but the specter flash stepping in front of him and winding up and then unleashing a full body punch took him entirely off guard.

Fortunately, as he was twice her height and several times over her mass so what would have decked a human merely caused him to stumble backwards, holding his bashed snout in his claws.

”GAHHH. YOU’LL REGRET THAT!” The king roared before releasing his bleeding nose, which despite Blazermate being in the process of being simultaneously attacked by a surprise floor spawned giant rapidly healed up just like all the other wounds he'd taken, and unleashed a wave of fire directly in front of him, before sweeping his head to and fro, turning the burning breath on the surrounding undead, trying to wash away the shadow woman with his burning light wherever she might warp too.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1562 (+3) (+2 from colab for Kamek)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (60/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (57/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – At Sea

“What’s a whoreson anyway?” Jr muttered to Kamek as Sakura took issue with Geralt’s favorite insult/curse.

”I don’t know. Someone who’s the son of a ‘whore’ I suppose, but I’m not sure what that is,” Kamek replied with quiet honestly ”Seems to be a rather rude thing to call someone however, so it perhaps best if-”

“Hey. So. What’s a whore?” Jr asked, cutting off and ignoring his elder’s advice and butting into the human’s dispute with the curious arrogance only a child could have.

The Atomos held up to its merger sales pitch. It was as maneuverable as a flying brick, but it was a fast flying brick. The stiff controlling ship had an impressive top speed despite having the aerodynamic properties of a lorry and, while Jr dreaded to think what it would be like handling wise if the holds weren't completely empty like they were now, it got them where they needed to be quick as can be.

The party arrived at the site of the naval engagement not long after it had begun, and found it to be just as strange as the ship-girls who were currently engaging the abyssal fleet had given the impression it would be. The enemy fleet turned out to consist not of rival ship girls, as the Koopas had assumed, but instead of horrid metal shark fish head things and other monstrosities that looked like they had maybe been intended to be ship girls, but had come out of the oven half baked or had been barely baked at all.

”Wow. Nasty looking aren't they” Jr commented, as he ship slowed down to get them a better view of the action. Closest to them one of the ships was engaging with a pack of cybernetic children, her plan firing weapon getting the better of them.

”Odd. Those, ah, infantile ones looked like they turned to dust like most things in this world do? I don’t suppose any of you have better eyesight than me and noticed if they dropped a spirit or not?” Kamek asked as the ship girl achieved victory, summoning his toadies and mentioning that ”If so, these might be able to collect it, or something else, to help us”

”What? No sorry missed it” Jr said, having turned his gaze elsewhere after deciding he did not enjoy looking at the weird robot shark baby monsters.

A little while ago while they’d been approaching the fight Kamek had unbuckled himself from his chair and had summoned 4 illusionary clones of himself. To each he’d proceeded to toss a colored orb, each one imbuing the mimics with additional powers and limited independence before shooing them into the back room so they wouldn't crowd the bridge. This preparation now turned out to have been time well spent when the ship girl, who had light red hair and was wielding a miniature aircraft carrier like an arbalest (not that the koopas knew what either of those were) got in a spot of trouble. A triple headed, burly armed abyssal ship rose up from the waves and, after trading fire with the girl, charged her. Kamek could already see where this was going before the two collided, both for the girl and potentially for them if she went down, and so quickly shuffled through the back of the bridge and flung open the door to the outside.

”Go go go!” he yelled over the wind rushing in through the door as he waved his doppelgangers (two red, one green and one white) through the door. Each in turn stepped outside, mounted their broom and took off before Kamek followed suit, the quintet of magikoopas clearing the vessel just as it attracted attention and took fire.

Kamek glanced back worriedly, but the ship seemed to have survived the shots and so he left it in the capable hands of those onboard. He had a damsel to rescue. An odd situation to be in, the old mage mused to himself, but she was a better distraction alive than dead and if she did bite it, well, then he’d be in the perfect position to get one of the spirits they needed, free of ethical concerns. The flock of mages swooped down towards the ship girl who Kamek saw had, as he’d predicted, gotten the worst of the close combat encounter and was now at the mercy of her foe. White and green clones flew low in, diving down and raising their wands, glows of magic matching their own hues flaring up around their wands and then, sympathetically, around first their new horns, which empowered their magic skills, and then the ship girl herself. Several of her worst wounds closed in a flash as a green shielding aura surrounded her that would help her resist further injury. The two clones slowed down and hovered by either side of her, ready to act as assists and to cast their supportive magic again once their magic reserves built back enough.

Kamek himself, flanked by his two red clones, stayed flying high and fast and attacked the offending triple ship monster. All three wielded brandished their wands, now tipped with fire materia, and unleashed a triple shot of fire magic, all three shots draining the mage’s personal mana reserves. The three quick shots, far faster than the bouncing fireballs or slow triple shape spells the mage generally used, lashed out and detonated against the monster in a trio of fiery explosions.

”Are you alright miss?” Kamek called down as he swooped overhead, his team keeping their speed as they banked around for another attack run.

Behind him Jr was busy dealing with the aftermath of being shot at, or rather, of the ship being pummeled by gunfire. The Atomos had managed to tank the shot, likely only because the ship attacking them was built for hitting small fast moving ship girls and not the comparatively massive floating hunks of metal that was their airship, and the boy had managed to prevent the jolt from capsizing them, but their foe wasn’t going to leave them with just that one greeting. Said attacker was also horrendous; a person sized pillar of guns with a bedraggled looking metal headed woman half emerging from the lower half of a titanic jaw that made up its base. Her guns were almost certainly not finished firing and Jr wasn’t in any mind to just sit around getting shot at till it hit something important, like him or the engins, or simply filled the ship with enough holes and shrapnel to cause it to crash.

Jr slammed the controls of the ship to the side, causing the Atomos to demonstrate one of its many failings, in this case it’s inability ability to turn in place at speed. With the lethargic grace of an overweight hippo the ship began to turn on the spot as jr tried to make it so that when he gunned its powerful engines they wouldn’t just be ramming straight into the heart of the battle or the storm crackling to the north of them.

”Turn you hunk of junk!” Jr yelled at its agonizingly slow turn, smacking the control board with a mix of frustration and restlessness before turning and, still holding the controls in one claw, pointed the other out the unclosed door

”Primid patrol, get your shooters and fire back!” he ordered, summoning a gaggle of subspace striker minions in the backroom, who proceeded to pile out the back door and out onto the banistered airstrip like section found out on the back of the ship. Jr tilted the top of the ship towards the foe as he turned, allowing the minions to line up next to the railing and begin returning fire with their retro super scopes, their clunky oversized rifles charging up and then unleashing a volley of energy shots on the tower like ship.

”Mimi, go out there too and use electro ball on that thing! Tyrant, stop running around and panicking!” Jr yelled at his minions. The freaking out Behemoth ran to hid under his trianier’s chair, while Mimi hopped off the dashboard and scooted outside after the last of the Primids, before grappling up onto the top of one of banister with one long arm, wrapping that arm around it to keep herself steady and then reeling the other arm out directly behind her. Summoning electricity from her back mounted battery she sent it racing up her arm to form into a beach ball sized ball of lightning which she held in her shadowy claw for a moment, before lashing forwards, slingshotting it past herself and letting the fastball fly towards the slow looking pillar ship.

”Hold on!” Jr called out in warning when, after what felt like an eternity but which had only actually been a few seconds, he’d gotten the ship pointing the way he wanted too and gunned the accelerator. The ship lurched forwards and took off at speed, racing off behind where Kamek and the ship girl he was assisting were, aiming to put both them and some distance in between the poorly armored airship and the battle. Primid’s cascaded off of the back of the ship and then poofed as they either timed out or hit the water, while Mimi clung on to her banister with all her might, the bridge somewhat shielding anyone on the back from the wind, but still demanding whoever was back there cling on to something lest they end up like the Primids.

wordcount: 841 (+2) (+5) (+3)
Midna: level 2 EXP: //////////////////// (16/20)
Location: Sandswept Sky (desert): Vah Naboris at Lakeside

Midna had a bit of time to reflect on her conversation with Fox during the remainder of their travel but eventually Vah Naboris arrived at their destination and Minda had it set down to let the party dismount.

”I hope you enjoyed your royal chauffeurage” she told them as she made a performative show off showing them off of Vah Naboris and down back into the sands before following them back into the harsh light of the sun. After the cool interior of the beast, it was a harsh reminder of the land they were traveling through.

The thieves wasted little time in heading into the pyramid they’d come here to investigate, seeking whoever it was they were seeking within its ancient depths. Primrose later mentioned that she thought they were looking for a friend but Midna wasn’t so sure that was all there was to it.

”Have to say, it’s a little odd that they never said exactly who or what they were here for,” she said offhandedly as she sat herself down on a rock while they talked, not wanting to come of as overly paranoid even as she sowed some seeds of doubt ”Might be good if someone goes to keep an eye on them, just in-case. Make sure they don’t get into any trouble” she suggested.

The rest of the team spent a fair bit of time debating whether they should follow the thieves or go investigate the battle going on in the distance. So long, in fact, that by the time the discussion was drawing to a close the battle seemed to be over (judging by the petering off and then absence of any of the explosive sounds that Midna assumed had belonged to weapons like the one Joker was using), which was, in Midna’s opinion, probably for the best. Strolling into a warzone did not seem like the best plan, and doing so to scavenge the dead as Joker had suggested seemed beneath the likes of her.

Eventually Poppi and Fox set out to investigate the battle site, with the fox insisting she stayed behind to act as backup for them in case things went wrong. Midna consciously decided not to read this as him trying to stop her from stopping him from being hopelessly optimistic and trying to free people who freeing wouldn’t change.

”I’d rather not put Vah Naboris in harm's way at all if we can, so don’t do anything stupid ok? It’s tough, but also a big target. Seeing as it’ll be a big help against Gannon or the boss of this zone thanks to its main weapon it’s best we try to keep it intact,” she insisted. She wasn’t entirely pleased with being ordered about, but on the other hand this way she could backup whichever party ran into trouble and she wasn't going to disagree with a good plan just because she hadn’t come up with it.

As people departed Midna ascended, floating up alongside Vah Naboris as it got to its feet, ready to react if things went really sour. Midna traveled all the way to its head and found a spot in the shade in the back of its head containing another smaller control center like the one in the main room. Ignoring this, it seemed to be some kind of override she didn’t need, she instead did what she came here for and turned the mighty weapon towards the battle. Not to fire, it would be a waste to do so especially unprovoked, but instead just to look through its far gazing eye now that it was both standing and stationery (trying to look through this eye while moving had given her motion sickness, the beast’s motion bobbing the view up and down horrendously). The weapon could fire at great distance and with incredible accuracy, or at least that is what the aiming systems were telling her because it let her zoom right in on the area and get a nice close view on the area her teammates were on their way to investigate.

As she looked, she saw the peculiar sight of the red and blue teams both alive and well and, seemingly, socializing with one another. A far cry from the battle Poppi had described and that they had all heard going on earlier. She also saw that two of the people, one fat one thin, were looking right at her Vah Naboris as she looked down at them. Midna scratched her chin thoughtfully for a moment, and then floated right to the front of the beast, perching on one of its “horns” and forming a massive magical hand, one larger than her entire body, out of her longer hair using her fragment of the fused shadow she wore.

With it this mighty hand that could and had been used to crush squads of soldiers into paste, she waved at them. They knew it was here, after all, so Midna felt she might as well see if they were friendly enough to wave back.

The Koopa King

wordcount: 1061 (+2)
Bowser: Level 8 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (70/80)
Location: The Dead Zone - Hell-bent City

Blazermate seemed to be on Bowser’s side in this, at least partially. Enough that she was open to talking to the girl and maybe even working with her after she's ripped up the root. Unfortunately the idea that they could just let her deal with the root had a pair of interlinked snags. First was that she was taking an age to get through it, which explained how she was still here, and the second was that they didn’t have that time

”WAIT WHAT? DISAPPEAR? WHY DID THIS NOT COME UP EARLIER?” Bowser roared at Nero when he told them about the timer they were only now learning they were under, ignoring the cat ladies’ insistence that he stop talking about the Skullheart. Cursed artifacts were one thing, dime a dozen really to the koopa king, but the threat of being disappeared was... well when it came down to it that was also something of a common threat the king would have had to admit if asked, but it didn’t make it any less of one.

He’d already done the damage by running his mouth off anyway, so telling him to shush didn’t help. Marie knew Nadia wanted the Skullheart, and now she also knew she, like they, had limited time. Unfortunately, rather than deciding she would now welcome their help in breaking the root, she instead decided she would simply kill them and take their power for herself.

”Kid, if its revenge you want we can help with that too, you don't need to-” Bowser said, but it was too late. The conversation was over. The undead maid girl made her first move, ripping the catacombs apart, the ground shaking beneath them, causing Bowser to wobble on one leg with his arms spinning as the vibrations rocked the party. Then the ground started collapsing beneath them into a deep pit that Bowser instinctively assumed ended either in lava or nothingness. The heavy king quickly dropped out of sight, his weight cracking his part of the floor much faster than that supporting the lighter and nimbler members of the party.

For a moment he was out of view until suddenly he reappeared riding Carrie as the Trowlon did what she did best. Ascend.

The king rose up after the catgirl, weaving past or smashing aside debris until he too arrived at the boss arena Nadia had created. He shoved the ruins of the library aside, the mimic’s lair they’d so carefully cleared had reduced to ruin in an instant, and stepped onto the glowing platform as the cat and the maid were finishing their brief exchange about their shared homeworld.

”You’ve got guts kid, but you don’t know who you're messing with” he warned the girl as she armed herself with a bony vacuum, but it was much too late for talk. Her eyes flashed red and it was do or die time.

Dark magic filled the koopa king, increasing his size from a building navigable bulk to proper boss fight size. The towering dragon turtle, twice the height of a man, stepped forwards in front of the rest of the party and then pivoted on one foot and put his shell in the way of the barrage of skulls, giving them a face full of spikes and shell to careen into. Some were blunted by the shell alone or impaled on its spikes, while those that tried to sneak past got elbows, boxing gloves and crushing jaws in response. With the barrage either dealt with or out of his reach attacking the other, the king pivoted back to face the Skullgirl and her now rising legion of skeleton warriors.

The undead horde came at them, armed with a chaotic assortment of decent weaponry but, for the most part, they lacked any kind of defensive armaments. Not that armoring them would have mattered much against the brutish might of the koopa king.

He stomped down on a skeletal wolf that materialized out of the vines to try and bite him with a steel capped boot, then began advancing. He stomped forwards, backhanding a skeleton with a huge braincase that was leading the back, shattering it to pieces in one blow before washing fire over a gang of human skeletons in bowler hats trying to shoot him with tommyguns. Then, leaping up over a giant ‘s fist as it tried to punch him, the king grappled onto the massive metal mouth guard of one of the massive bone horrors with one claw and his tentacles before he hammered it in the skull again and again till it shattered and the entire thing fell.

The king cashed back down into the melee, crushing an unfortunate bone horse in the process, before grabbed an ork skeleton that was trying to cleave him with a sword twice as big as it needed to be, blocking the bow with one of the spiked steel bracelets, and then chucked it at a halfling aiming a tube full of fireworks at him, causing both fantasy creature skeletons to explode in a colorful light show.

After the mimics and Dante it was nice to fight things you could rely on just standing still and letting you punch them in the face rather than hiding or dodging all over, or Bower felt, but it wasn't really getting them anywhere. Even he could tell they were basically just going to have to put up with endlessly spawning swarms of undead forever if their master wasn’t made to stop spawning them.

Much as he didn’t like it, he’d have to go after the child. With so many allies, Bowser briefly considered leaving that to others. But if he did, well, then the cat would end this her way.

”Cant have that,” he growled to himself and then after a deep inhale he unleaded a mega fireball towards the skullgirl. The giant orb of flame, as grand as he was, lazily floating across the platform. It wasn't hard to avoid, but it did not stop, it did not falter, it plowed through anything foolish enough to get in the way, blackening bone, melting plastic, super heating steel and detonating ammunition. Behind this ball of death Bowser advanced, fists swinging, hat mounted boxing gloves pummeling, water cannons blasting, blunt impacts one and all reducing the skeletal fiends to scattered piles of bone once more as he advanced on the Skullgirl’s location.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1319 (+3)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (57/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (52/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay

”Huh. Yeah that would be even easier… Wouldn’t you need a whole load of computers for that though?” Jr said in response to Sakura’s story/anecdote/explanation of what credit cards were. The technology levels were rather all over the place back in Jr’s world, so it really wasn't ready for credit cards in general and it certainly wouldn’t work in the likes of the mushroom and koopa kingdoms. Sakura’s muddled comment managed to be entertaining at the very least.

All things considered, Jr had to admit he kind of liked the teen, she’d been fun so far, so he wasn't quite as cantankerous as he could have been when Kamek told her that ”Between myself, my minions and the young master’s clown car I think we’d be able to trundle back to the city or to shore if we survived the crash. It wouldn’t be an easy trip, but we do have an escape route should things go belly up” when she worried about what would happen if their ship went down, and the process offering up Jr’s help in transporting the ground locked humans if they, or more likely he, crashed their new airship.

”We’re not gonna crash anyway, because I’ll be flying this ship and I’m the best! Now let’s quit standing around talking about it and go get this thing. I wanna see it!” he insisted. The team didn’t need much prompting, they didn't have many other options after all, and so they were soon on their way.

With Peach and Kamek’s toadies lending a hand the last leg of their trip went far smoother than the slog it had taken to rejoin the group, and so in short order they’d purchased for their new ship and jr got to give it a complete once over.

The Atomos

”I thought you said it was a van! This is way bigger than a van!” he yelled down as he hovered around the ship, taking it all in.

”Well comparatively it is” Kamek replied, and it was true. The other ships in the yard dwarfed it in size, sleekness, armor and in some cases weaponry. Despite this it was still a decent size, comparable with some of the troops smaller airships. There would be no issue in fitting the squad inside, and indeed they could probably fit a small selection of smaller one person vehicles or mounts inside of the vehicles hold if they could get them if they wanted to make it into a carrier. Or a tone of gold, mercenaries or anything really. The ship might not be fit for challenging the bottomless depths, but it would be a massive boon to the heroes' operations should it survive the ordeals of the ocean, ”It’s weak and unarmed but its fast. And no, the blades on the side do not count as weapons please do no try and ram something with them”

”Boo! You're no fun. But whatever that's fine. We can still strap some weapons to it. Maybe a big cannon in the hold? Cutt of the blades and put robot arms there? Or build turrets on the deck. Shame Blazermate isn’t here that sentry would be super useful right now.” Jr said, buzzing to and fro, drawing up plans in his mind on how to turn the cargo hauler into something more suitable for their purposes.

”I’m not sure we have time to fix it up if we want to catch this sortie? It should be a scouting mission anyway. Observe, maybe get involved if we can safely, but the main point would need to be investigation,” Kamek said, outlining what he thought their goal should be ”I’ll be coming along in case things do go sour and also to take a look at this abyssal feet myself. The rest of you should consider whether you think you’ll be interested in observing or will be useful in a fight going on over the ocean when considering whether you want to come or not. Peach might not be quite as kidnappable as she once was, but I’m sure she’d still appreciate an escort around town.”

”Fine by me, coz I really wanna take this thing out for a spin now! See you inside!” Jr said, before going for the bridge, flying his car up behind the back of the top mounted bridge and entering via a back door. Kamek followed suit, while anyone who’d want to join them would need to go through the large front mounted cargo doors and then use a ladder found inside the spacious hold to climb up into the bridge from below. Inside they’d find jr who, after finding the pilot's seat (a rather ragged swivel chair affair bolted to the floor) too low for his young body had shoved his clown car into it to use as a booster-seat so he could reach the controls and was in the middle of fiddling with them. His minions, Mimi and Tyrant, were having an explore of the interior, the baby behemoth running around sniffing at everything while Mimi roamed around the controls and windowsill of the ship’s windshield, curious eyes taking everything in, inside and out.

Kamek meanwhile had taken a short look around the living quarters found between the bridge proper and the rear entrance, finding it stripped bare of whatever its former owners had kept there baring a rather old looking bed, but promptly sat himself in one of the passenger seats found behind the pilot's chair once he saw jr had gone straight for the controls.

”I suggest you all strap in,” he said to anyone who had joined them as he buckled himself in for the ride ”That goes for you too young master. Also I don’t suppose you’ve found a manual for-” he was saying when jr suddenly announced ”Found it!” before hammering a button on the control surface. The ship roared to life, whatever fantastical sorceries that powered it surging through its pipes and awakening the humble cargo carrier from its slumber.

”Ahahaha, listen to that!” jr cheered as the engines came online behind them, humming a song of primed potential and a yearning for the sea air.

”Now lets see, how does this thing work,” Jr asked himself before he jerked the controls, causing Kamek gripped the armrests of his chair in alarm as the ship lurched up off its ski like landing gears and into the air, before it began to wobble around chaotically above its landing spot for a painfully long series of moments while Jr got a feel for what he was doing. Unlike some, Tyrant and Mimi spent the whole time having a blast, Tyrant running amuck all over the cabin while Mimi was squeaking away happily as she slid back and forth on the dashboard.

”Young master, I’m quite sure there were better ways to learn how to fly” Kamek said, sounding rather queasy, once it was all over.

”Maybe, but none as fun. Now let’s see what this puppy can really do!” Jr said, sliding the controls forwards and pulling out of the airship hangar and hovering around the city with a fair bit more grace than he should have been able to manage after only a couple moments of practice.

”Now lets see, where are those.. Ah ha! There’s the girls” Jr said, after having a quick scan of the horizon to find the fleet of ship-girls heading out to battle the abyssal fleet. With their goal in sight, there was little to do but hit the gas, and when Jr did the Atomos lived up to its sale’s pitch. It was small, unarmored and utterly defenseless, but it had traded all those for speed, and that it most certainly had in bucket-loads. The little carrier raced through the ocean skies after the ship girls while jr cheered ”Look at it go! Hauling all that gold was so worth it!”

wordcount: 1258 (+3)
Bowser Jr: Level 6 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (114/60)
Kamek: Level 6 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (49/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay

”I’m not slow… ok fine I probably am, those ladies were quite nippy” Kamek said when Peach complained about the lack of fast fliers to chase after the ship girls. Neither Kamek nor Jr’s aerial transport devices were built to be the fastest in the land, just fast enough that it beat platforming around the mushroom kingdom.

After that the remaining heroes split up to investigate their Peach given task, with the airships being the one that was given to Kamek.

Unfortunately it turned out when Kamek had been completely wrong when he had said to Jr that they wouldn’t need the money yet. Not having cash on hand made it very difficult to get the time of day from prospective airship captains and crews, let alone begin discussing hiring their services or buying their ships for adventuring purposes. It seemed the summary of the situation they’d gotten on arrival had been entirely accurate. No one making money hand over fist running jobs for the merchants was the least bit interested in their dangerous quest.

This left Kamek with the bottom of the barrel, and down there he found a flying machine that was practically a flying van. While the ship itself turned out to be pretty unsuitable for racing thoughts storms, the owners of the airship turned out to be much more interesting than their transport.

”Oh yes, we’re all upstanding citizens here,” Kamek agreed when Balthier hastily denied any connection to piracy, not so subtly confirming that dealing with former pirates was not going to be an issue because when it came to the likes of Kamek, the pair were in good, or rather villainous, company.

”I appreciate you being upfront about the risks involved in using your craft like we need to,” he said after as he examined the machine and mulled it over and then decided that he didn’t need to decide quite yet. Indeed it would be rash to do so. Its not like he could pay anyway.

”My associates are currently looking into a few other possible options, so I’ll need to catch up with them before I commit to anything. I’ll be sure to let you know either way what our decision is by the end of the day,” He assured them, before bidding his farewells and heading back to meet up with the rest of the team so they could review their findings.

Over in Peach’s castle Jr’s hand scooping method was replaced by Sakura’s far more sensible methods of transporting the treasure, namly a hand cart and some big old sacks. Jr felt like he was a bank robber stuffing the sack full of gold, which was to him a very fun thing to think about while he worked away at shoving the heavy riches into the bag. The time it took for Sakura to get their new treasure transport gave the Ace enough time to get his trip to Lumbridge over and done with, the hunter returning with a little collection of new gear he’d gotten for his troubles.

The sword and hammer were neat, but his new horned headpiece was the real star in Jr’s opinion ”oh neat. Now you match” he noted, pointing from the horns down to BB’s own. Speaking of the piggo, Jr’s own behemoth managed to look awfully jealous of BB as the pig propped itself up on the gold cart with a new piece of ornamentation added to boot. This was despite Tyrant having been able to run around and play in the piles of gold with Mimi (who’d mostly spent her time surfing coins down piles of treasure) while the team collected their cash.

With everyone ready to go, jr grabbed his own overstuffed bag, hauled it up into his car. Then he jumped up and down on it a few times trying to shove it into the glove box before giving up and using the car (with its go kart wheels deployed) as his own little push cart. Tyrant immediately seized the opportunity and mounted his own gold filled chariot, sticking his nose up at BB’s own despite it being more fit for purpose. Then Mimi sat on his head in-order to use him as her own throne, putting the porker in his place.

”You bet I am” was Jr’s overconfident response to being challenged to arm wrestling, before they started the long hard trip out of the vaults and towards their destination. They picked up a small escort of mercenaries in the foyer, had to physically lift their transport carts for a brief moment in order to go through the paint portal with them, almost got squished from the drop at the other end of the warp, drew a lot of attention and urges to come shopping with their spoils that their escort were forced to shoo off while passing thought he shopping alley and then finally arrived back at the the spot they’d set off from.

As the mercs headed home and the party reassembled Jr flopped down onto the ground to take a load off his tired legs, ”Ok. I get the paper money those loot boxes wanted now, moving that much gold around is the worst!”

”I’m afraid the best we can get airship wise is an Atomos, which is functionally a flying delivery van,” Kamek infrared the group once they were mostly back together, ”It’s fast, but it won’t be able to take us through the storm unless we go close to the sea, and if we do it’s weaponless and armor less target for sea monsters,”

”That said, it doesn't need to stay that way. Ace and Peach's comment about feeding spirits to Shippy has me thinking. Even if we can’t buy what we need right now, that doesn't mean we can't get something decent and then upgrade it. Mechanically in the case of the Atomos or spiritually in Shippy’s or the sky hatchery’s case” Kamek hadn’t given up on the sky hatchery like Peach had. In his opinion getting some of the fighters their own personal flying mounts might be useful to let them get into fights rather than being stuck on the deck of some ship or other.

”There was a junkyard back on the islands the casino was on. We could fly it and see if there’s junk there I can use to soup up this titchy airship. If not that then the kart graveyard and whatever's making all those robots might work out instead I guess.” Jr said, interested in the idea but not not entirely convinced they had what the needed to turn the lame sounding Atomos into a storm chasing machine worthy of the Koopa Troop’s airfleet ”Shame we can't just crush spirits and get a compleat airship out of it huh”

”That seems outside the bounds of what they can provide yes, however on a more basic level it might be an option. If we acquire this airship, or avians, or Shippy, or any combination of the above, then we can use those as jumping off points. Roam the seas, gather powerful spirits for fusion or ship parts, and in doing so build ourselves up to a palace where we can face the final gauntlet of the storm. At the very least, if we want to investigate the abyssal fleet we need to get out there somehow and most of our options are likely up to the task of scouting the sea, even if they aren't up to facing the storms quite yet” He summarized.

Bowser the Koopa King

Wordcount: 1237 (+2)
Bowser: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (68/80)
Location: The Dead Zone - Hell-bent City

”Yeah it worked out in the end,” Bowser agreed with Blazermate’s assessment of the fight and freeing of two of the demon hunters by her and him. If Dante turned out to be even half as dangerous on their side as she had as an enemy she’d be quite the asset. Bowser hadn’t tussled with the slayer, so he’d have to wait and see how the man shaped up in comparison. Probably fairly well, the dead zone demanded toughness from those who wanted to last more than a few minutes.

”Took a little something out of me to do it though. Not sure what. You felt it too right?” he noted, unable to put an exact claw on the price he’d had to pay to free another but knowing something had been given up nonetheless.

”Also I was never cute! I’m a big bad boss and don’t you forget it!” the king then insisted when Blazer commented on his loss in cuteness ”I can put them away anyway” he added, nestling the tendrils away in their shell apertures for a moment before re-deploying them, ”Just don’t wanna while we’re still in this place. Feels like nowhere is safe”

The king’s words might have been true, but the rest of their trip towards the root’s housing managed to be the closest to safe they’d had in the zone with how uneventful it was. Oh there where foes to be crushed, but compared to the initial gauntlet they were smallfry. The Flood would roll over them before too long, just as the Red team where now. It was still tense, there was always the worry that the next block might reveal some new actually dangerous monstrosity or another, but in the end they reached the library into which the roots of the great tree were burrowing into without any notable opposition.

”THIS IT, HUH? ALRIGHT, LET’S GET STARTED!” Bowser declared, advancing on the doors at the head of the group and dramatically kicking them open to find a very nondescript and surprisingly empty library within. ”RAAAA-huh?” The king had had his claws and tentacles barred as he entered, ready for whatever gauntlet was going to stand between them and the mini boss, but he was understandably confused by the emptiness of the library

”There’s... nothing?” he took a look about, but found nothing. No demonic warriors. No alien locusts. Not even the ubiquitous zombies were found within, which should have been suspicious, and likely was of the wiser members of the party. Bowser, however, simply mentally declared victory and started stomping through the room towards the closest staircase. He got about four meters before he got attacked by a black thing that had, as far as the king was concerned, come out of nowhere.

The four legged spindly mass of ooze or darkness or something that had been pretending to be a coffee cup grappled his face, and tried to stab out his eyes. The king shut his eyes reflexively and his scaled eyelids prevented the loss of his ocular orbs, but in his resulting blind panic he stumbled backwards, smashing ass backwards into a bookcase and got swarmed by book disguised mimics. Faced with an unfamiliar shaped foe covered in heavy natural armor, the mimics were just a moment too slow to find the king’s new vulnerable ears that the tentacruel tentacles could get to work. Engaging in tentacle vs tentacle combat the larger and venomous cruel tentacles rapidly prevailed and cleared the king’s face, stabbing, crushing and grappling the mimics in a flurry of action. They were going to get to work on the rest when the remaining mimics scattered, scampering way into the carnage the king had kicked up in his blind panic and rage. They almost immediately vanished from sight, masked by the small fires Bbowser had lit when he’d used firebreath to stop one of the mimics from stabbing him in the mouth. The Mimics hadn't given up, even if endless aggression had not been in their nature like all but the free never could. They were still out there in the mess, along with likely countless more their kind. Watching. Waiting. Ready it strike at a moment of weakness.

”WHAT WAS THAT!” Bowser roared, glancing around in agitated alarm at the suddenly empty seeming room, his nerves frayed and his body royally scratched up.

After the shock had worn off, the situation had been explained and Bowser had been told that no, they couldn't just burn the building down and hope that dealt with the situation, the king begrudgingly took point on the cleansing of the building. Flame breath incinerated countless volumes, an act that many would consider a travesty, along with masses of stationary and other library supplies as Bowser cleared out rooms and then used his shoulder mounted water cannons to douse the flames. It was slow and monotonous work, made even slower by having to wait out the smoke clouds it created, but it cleared safe zones for those who didn't feel up to risking it in the prop hunt nightmare alone to stay safely inside, and provided launching off points for those who dared to face up to the challenge of hunting for the last miniboss.

After what seemed like an eternity someone found a hidden way down and Bowser gladly abandoned the latest room he was slashing and burning to join the team as they descended into the dark. Down and down and further down still they descended following the roots of the great vile tree even as its own tendrils met and interwoven with veins of neon blue liquid stretching up out of the depths.

At the source of the glowing pipes and at the end of the roots, in a chamber filled with skulls who’s eyes glowed with undeath and surrounded by accursed power they found her. She was a monster, a lich, a mockery of life, an instrument of ruin and entropy. She was also a cursed little girl.

”What happened to you kid?” Bowser asked with unusual softness, but even he could piece together the basics from the Skullgirl and Nadia’s brief back and forth. The Skull heart had happened to her and, whatever it was, Nadia had come to claim it.

”We are not killing a kid,” Bowser growled at Nadia and then with his mind ticking in overdrive, he tried to convince them as to why they wouldn't need to ”She said she’s going to “clean up” the root, WHICH IS ONE OF THOSE MET-A-FOR THINGS RIGHT? WHEN YOU SAID 'CLEAN UP' YOU MEAN DESTROY RIGHT? LIKE ITS A MAID JOKE OR THEME THING NOT A ‘I’M GOING TO DUST THE DEMON ROOTS AND MAKE THEM NICE AND CLEAN’ THING” he shouted the question before going back to loudly whispering to the red team

”Which means we don't have to kill her to get the boss. Plus, we’ve got Kamek and the Master of Masters and a bunch of other people who are smart at magic on our side out there and Peach can do this spirit manipulation thing now so if you really want this skullheart thing we can get it out of her somehow. I’ve had plenty of evil artifacts in me, heroes always find a way to get them out,” He insisted, a lifetime of being thwarted being turned to hopeless optimism in the dark pit they found themselves.

wordcount: 2644 (+3)
Bowser Jr: Level 6 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (111/60)
Kamek: Level 6 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (46/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay

The party was generally in agreement with Kamek and Jr’s suggestion of investigating the airship dock was the way to go. That said, Peach echoed Kamek’s concerns that recruiting a ship to their cause might be tricky.

”I hope that there might be a crew or ship heroic enough that a little heart to heart might, ah, convince them join our side” Kamek paused, and then added ”I’m winking behind these spectacles when I said convince”

There was little more to be said on the topic till they actually scoped out the ships, so while they traveled there the two koopa’s offered their own thoughts on the abyssal fleet.

”It would be useful to know if these ships are leaving spirits behind when they die. I can create entities without spirits, none of my illusionary clones or toadies are doing so when defeated, so a powerful spell caster could be the source of these ships if they too are spiritless. Simply recreating the old designs is also much easier than making something new each time, which would also explain why the same ships keep showing up over and over.” Kamek suggested

”Maybe they just have lots of one ups and respawn real far away? Or there's lots that look the same, like toads or goombas, and they live really far away. So this is like. 1-1 and Papa’s castle is all the way out in the deep Ocean. Or all the way round the top of the continent” Jr suggested, his input suggesting an unintentionally bleak option, predominantly due to the distances that would be involved in getting to and shutting down the abyssal fleet if he was anywhere close to the truth.

Both options were highly colored by the koopa’s experiences, either by Kamek’s own capabilities or by their fight against the unbeatable unstoppable force that was Mario, but perhaps there was something of use in them.

Kamek’s suggested method of getting a ride ended up looking both unnecessary and unattainable when they arrived in the docks. The ships were more civilian in nature seemingly, mostly fitted for hauling cargo for the purposes of making a profit. There were no hardy gangs of sky pirates or aerial explorers to be found here, or so it seemed.

”Where are they shipping things too or from that it can be so profitable I wonder” Kamek said when they were told that the ships were hauling freight for merchants.

It seemed unlikely they would be able to convince them to join their adventure or outbid the merchants right up until the point that Peach remembered she was loaded, having taken possession of most of Mario’s earnings from his heroics.

”Wait. He just gives you all his treasure?” Jr asked, bemused by the notion

”I suppose that explains why he and his brother live in such a small house together despite both of their treasure filled adventures” Kamek noted, mentally kicking himself for not thinking about the treasury sooner. He knew it was there, he’d even noted as such when he helped fill in Vandham on the places they’d been, but the idea that they could just use the princess’s treasure to help them buy whatever they needed had never crossed his mind.

As for how they’d get it, well, while Peach was at a loss for ideas Geralt was keeping a good track of his allies abilities and suggested Jr use his magic paint portals to make a way to pop back and forth from the town to peach's castle so they could get the money they need.

”What? Yeah I was just about to say that you don't need to suggest it!” Jr complained, having actually been thinking about the fact that the koopa troop apparently knew where Mario lived and yet had never done anything with that fact.

”I suggest you put it out by the docks young master. Rather empty and it will likely be where you will reappear when you return? I imagine we’d rather we not run into trouble by bypassing the customs office on the way out” Kamek recommended before Jr could even think about where he’d put the portal

”oh. Uh. Yeah ok.” Jr said, a bit ticked off

”and be careful coming back through the market, people might try to steal from you if you're carrying a large amount of gold up with you” Kamek added. He was fairly sure Jr would be safe so long as the prince didn’t start anything, but he still worried so he added one final thing, turning to the others and asking, ” If one or two of you would like to escort the young master when he goes it would be most helpful”

”Alright alright I get it jeez,” Jr said, before glancing over the others to see who was coming, and then heading back down, through the market and to the docks to do a bit of graffitiing

”wait i didn’t mean- oh never mind” Kamek said after them, but jr was in enough of a hurry and a huff that he didn’t hear. Kamke sighed and then turned back to the princess, ”So, now that we’ll have wealth a plenty, let’s take a look at what might be on offer shall we? Maybe we can upgrade one if nothing suits our needs if nothing fits the bill?” Kamek said, before glancing upwards at the sounds coming from the Sky's Hatchery and also suggested ”and perhaps we should take a look up there while we are at it?”

The mage didn’t entertain Peach’s unintended suggestion of boat murder for long. As a last resort perhaps. As a plan it seemed like an excellent way to get swarmed by the red eyed towns people with a rather low chance of success. Best cross the other options off the list first before going down that road, particularly because it would be the heroes, not the already flight capable Kamek and Jr, who would be the ones taking on those spirits and they would likely react rather strongly to the prospect.

Far away from Limsa Lominscuttle Town the little party of molecules that was Jr appeared above the drawbridge and then collapsed into the form of the prince and his car. He landed on the bridge, wheels of the car deployed, and came face to face with the wreckage of the robot attack, the interior of the castle littered with the scars of battle being tidied up by various toads as best they could

”Wow. What happened here?” Jr asked, only to have someone yell “Friend or foe! Show me your eyes!” from behind him

Jr whirled around and came face to face with a host of short green creatures, most of them female. Most of them were pointing either shotguns or crossbows at him, while the one who’d shouted at him had a fully drawn back bow pointed at him. Behind them the stones of the archway the engineer had used as a firing platform had been rearranged into a short wall. As Jr took this in a small team of of toads, holding small fold-able shovles and dusted in the dirt they’d been digging to make a moat on the other side of the wall poked their heads around the wall to see what was going on.

“You’re free,” the bow wielding goblin noted as she looked the ambushed koopa in the eyes, “but who are you?” she asked, not lowering her weapon just in case.

”What! How can’t you know who I am!” Jr growled back, affronted that these people didn't know who he was. Before he could get real mad and make a mess of things however, there was a shout from the castle entrance

“Oh hey, it’s Bowser’s kid! Don’t worry about him Holly, he’s not a threat,” Princes Daisy called as she came out from the castle, once again donning her signature bright orange dress, strolled up the bridge to meet them.

“aren't you kid,” she said as she stopped next to him ruffled his hair

”Hey, I am so too a threat! I’m strong and mean and dangerous!” Jr argued childishly, only to be interrupted by Tyrant who appeared in the air above him, having insisted on being next to come through, and landed atop his owners head

“Aww, who’s your new friend” Daisy asked, before petting the pig-like behemoth, who was much more happy than jr to receive the affectionate gesture.

”Get down from there” Jr told the pig, picking it off his head only for Mimi to appear and take his place. Jr sighed, and then noticed another collection of particles forming, one much larger than the two pets that had bopped him on the head.

The rest of the party coming with him arrived on the bridge one by one after that, forcing Daisy and Jr to move back and make space for them.

“Hiii I’m Daisy. Who are you?” the princess introduced herself and then asked once they were all here, always eager to meet new people.

”Wait wait wait. When did you get here? Who are the green people? Why is there a wall there now? What happened to the castle!” Jr insisted after introductions had been made but before Daisy could start chatting and direct them away from the questions he wanted to ask.

“Oh right. This is Warchief Hollythorn and her rangers” Daisy introduced the goblins, most of whom had either resume guard duty or working with the toads to keep digging their fortifications at this point, “they helped me get here out of the spooky woods to the west of here”

“As for the other two questions, both answers to that are hostile constructs, or robots as the humans call them” Hollythorn explained while keeping an eagle eye out for any more of the mechanical menaces.

The team then got a quick recap of Zelda and co’s mercenary mission and the battle that had ensued from the princess and goblin’s perspectives and were then told what had happened in the aftermath. After Vandham showed up via warp graffiti it had become incredibly obvious that having the arrival point being out in the open like that was a terrible idea, so they’d started trying to fortify the position so people wouldn't arrive in the middle of a robot hoard. Hollythorn had volunteered herself and her troops immediately to the task. After the losses they’d taken, none of them wanted to be caught flat footed by such an attack again. Hollythorn complained bitterly about how Peach’s home did not deserve to be called a castle, which Jr agreed with. There was a distinct lack of lava and traps and lava traps.

The rest of the new recruits were still inside, where Vandham was in the midst of signing them up with details of what they could and would do, as well as taking inventory of the castle’s assets.

“So. What brings you all back?” Daisy asked once they’d finished telling their story

”Peach wants some of her treasure so we can buy a cool airship” Jr told her

“Neat. Oh. You oughta know, there was this big spat about the treasury involving Wario and Waluigi I think? You know how they are. They proooobably won't take to well to you hauling it off now” Daisy warned him

”They’re just gonna have to deal with it” Jr declared, ”and we’ve wasted enough time here, there gonna wonder why we’re taking so long and I can’t be bothered with Kamek fussing about that”

Daisy quietly laughed about this backwards way of saying he didn’t want Kamek to worry then accompanied the party back down the drawbridge and into the castle.

“Well if it isn’t the little prince,” Vandham said as they came inside and into the view of the staircase where the mercenary captain was speaking with the new recruits, who were sitting on its various stairs. There wasn't a lot of furniture left in the castle after they’d used it to keep the robots at bay. “Don’t suppose you can make these portal things not drop people off outside of defensible locations. Ain’t exactly convenient when there’s hordes of robots outside”

”No,” jr replied simply, both unwilling and unable to explain the science or logic behind Professor E. Gadd’s magic brush before asking ”Why don’t you just go out and break em”

“Because we don’t know where they are based exactly, and we need someone to authorize a mission and form a four person squad to go find out” Vandham explained

”... I can do that right?” Jr said after a few moments of thought

“I guess, but I don't think a kid-” the mans started to say, only to be cut of by Jr

”Daisy, Wario, Waluwigi aaaaand Luigi. Go out there and scout. Find those robot’s base so we can smash em to pieces” Jr said, pointing at each one in turn and then commanding them to start the mission

“Whaaat, why us?” both Wario and Waluigi, who had been sitting on the stairs looking bored and uninterested said, while Luigi's response was “Oh uh uh uh, you sure you don't want someone else?”

”No. I’ve said it so go. I know what you guys can do, can’t be bothered finding out what these other bozos can do or if they’d be any good, so go!” Jr said, reveling in the ability to command people about like this,

“Aw yeah, finally some action! Come on Waluigi, we never get any action or adventures, now’s our chance!” Daisy cheered, the only person who looked genuinely enthusiastic about this

“Bah” the lanky scoundrel replied as he hauled himself off the stairs, but you could tell from the look in his eyes he was at least a little excited about it for the same reason as Daisy. Wario was indifferent to the concept of going on a quest itself, he’d been on plenty, but seemed to pick up on his partner in crime’s hidden interest and followed him to join the impromptu party, leaving only Luigi.

“Luigi, here” Dr Mario said as he pressed a hodgepodge med gun and accompanying backpack that he had been wearing into the plumber’s hands.

“Wernt-a you gonna use this?” the green plumber asked

“We’ve’a got’a spares” the doctor told him, giving him an encouraging pat on the shoulder “Keep them’a safe, ok?”

“I... Sure bro, doc, doc bro, I will!” Luigi said, donning the backpack. It was considerably cruder looking than the Poltergust he sometimes wore, but after a quick bit of instruction he was ready to assist his team from the rear.

”Right. You good? Now go!” Jr told them. Then, after Wario and Waluigi were out of the way, he turned and said to Vandham ”So, about the treasury. Peach needs to take out some money and we’re here to get it for her”

“Hey, wait a minute!”

After the other half of the former treasury dispute had been forced to sit down, shut up and stop waving the grenade and sticky launchers around the team found themselves in the treasury. Gold coins, bars, jewels and more from the plumber’s adventures lay piled on high in the large secure chamber, along with a particular crown and a emerald filled with immense power topping the collection.

“All right, here we are” Vandham told them “quite the haul isn’t it? Royalty. They sure are something else. So. How much do you need?”

”Enough for an airship!” Jr declared confidently

“And that’s how much?”

”Uhhh… a lot?”

Vandham sighed

”Just... Grab what you can?” Jr suggested to the others, before rapidly finding out that just hauling the stuff in their arms wasn't going to cut it if they didnt want to spill gold all over the market.

They where gonna have to figure something out.

wordcount: 896 (+2)
Midna: level 2 EXP: //////////////////// (6/20)
Location: Sandswept Sky (desert): Vah Naboris

Midna exited the multicolored light show rubbing her poor abused eyes again. She had not been having a good day when it came to her corneas. After a few moments of recovery she had a chance to inspect herself, finding first that she had differently hued skin, warm bronze replacing the pale turquoise while the black where her true form’s outfit had fused with her body remained as it was. She was also significantly more muscle density than she had before. She’d gone from noodle armed imp to tiny powerhouse. She even had abs! Also, she was now wearing a skirt and, functionally, nothing else. Noticing Tora’s agape expression she covered her technically bare chest, faking shocked modesty for just a moment before laughing at him.

”If you think I look good now you should see what I look like when I break this curse” she teased him before continuing her examination.

A quick look over and a bit of hand patting found her over her remaining alterations. Gold bands on her arms that matched the shackle that bound her ponytail in style, earrings that where gold and neon blue instead of Urbosa’s gold and red, and, finally, Midna realized why her field of vision had still seemed off when she patted her face and found her nose had grown more prominent.

”I’m going to need a mirror. A normal mirror.” she muttered to herself before shaking her head, earrings swinging and bapping her neck and chin as she did so. A proper fashion analysis and suitable adjustment could come later. She’d taken this spirit for reasons other than a makeover.

”Now, lets’ take a look at you” Midna said drifted back over to the central core she was going to inspect before they were so rudely interrupted, and looked upon it with new eyes and knowledge. After a few moments of contemplation she grinned wide with confidence as she floated to its front and found the access point. Then she flicked her long hair to the side, infusing it with the fused shadow’s power mid swish and then driving a handless arm of magic into the center of the port.

Power, will and wisdom pulsed through the link in both directions as Midna grit her teeth in concentration, and then, all at once, it was hers. A hologram of a Shiekah eye formed in front of her own exposed eye. Through it she saw through Vah Naboris', seeing the shifting sands from on high. She also saw what it really was.

”It’s.. a weapon. A weapon to kill Gannon,” she said delightedly, if mostly to herself, as she withdrew the magical tendril and let the power within it die, her long hair falling back to hanging behind her. The magical eye remained, and would appear whenever the princess desired to command the Divine Beast, its will bound to her and the gilded Fused Shadow fragment she wore. She did so know, sending it lumbering towards the pyramid she had seen through its eyes, anticipating the request to travel to it. It was not much of a detour, she reasoned, and if she was going to take her own detour to find the mirror of twilight then it would hardly do to deny the Thieves their own little sidequest.

”And we are off,” she told those who had remained inside the central chamber, ”heading for a pyramid that's on the way to the mountain that those kids will want to look at”

”Also it seems safe to say we don’t have any healers. Guess you’ll have to learn to not get hit like me” she said cockily as she landed next to Primrose, Poppi and Tora, nodding in approval at the latter's decision to crush the spirit rather than let anyone absorb it or let it escape somehow. Standing next to them she found that she was now closer to the size of a very short woman in height, the top of her head being at around chest height on the two women where she’d been waist high before. Still a ways to go, the twilight princess thought to herself, but maybe this could work out with a few more adjustments.

”or keep an eye out for Recovery Hearts. You can probably guess what they look like. Maybe there’s some in containers in this place that might hold some? Or other useful things. Certainly feels big enough to have a secret or two hidden inside,” she suggested more practically, as she summoned one of her Wolfos and then used its fluffy body as a pillow to lean against, legs dangling over the side of the central platform with one crossed over the other as she lay back and rested her head on its soft fur. The issue of whether they would still be able to carry her weight could wait till she’d rested and recuperated from the fight, transformation and takeover of the titan’s systems. Maybe she could find something to fuse with them to make them bigger, she thought to herself, or perhaps her more muscular body might make that not quite so necessary anymore.

”have an explore if you like, I’ll let you know when we arrive, unless you want to stick around and have a chat with my charming self?” she suggested to the others as she half focused on guiding Vah Naboris and examining the desert through its eyes. A little bit of adjustment to the brightness had let her actually take it all in for the first time, free from the glare of the sun outside.

Coming up here had defiantly been a good idea.

wordcount: 373 (+1) (fight exp and bonus +20) (-5 to free Dante
Bowser: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (66/80)
Location: The Dead Zone - Sundered Avenue

It had worked. The horrible pink heart had fused with Dante as expected, and then both freed her and dropped her out of her huge murder fly form. Realization that the red team weren't her enemies also came instantly, which was in retrospect something Bowser perhaps should have been worried about not happening but what was done was done. The plan had worked and the incredibly dangerous woman was now on their side.

They weren't done of course, there was still the Slayer for one, but fortunately for the likely rather weary party (Bowser certainly felt like he could do with a break) V had that covered. A titan fell from the sky to duke it out with the slayer, hurting the marine enough that even when he came out of the brawl as the victor Blazermate was able to heart him without much trouble.

The rest of the outstanding issues fell to Dante, who casually decked and freed both V and Tess when both of them failed to recognize the fight was over due to Galeem’s influence.

With them down and on their side it was, at last, over.

”WE’D HAVE BEEN FINE IF SOMEONE HADN’T TOTALED OUR NEW RIDE” Bowser commented pointedly when Nero talked about the now rather large size the red team had grown too and the inability to fit them all in the only vehicle they had left between them, ”SO I GUESS SOME OF YOU ARE WALKING WITH ME”

They might have expanded a fair bit by joining up with the gang of demon and devil killing experts, but it was immensely gratifying for the silver haired team who had probably been in-charge of them to immediately defer to his leadership, even if it was probably due to a complete disinterest in such a position the role on Nero’s part.

”WELL DON’T JUST STAND THERE. GET IN OR GET WALKING, WE’VE GOT A, UH, TREE TO PUT DOWN?” He hadn’t paid that much attention to the actual mission parameters, ”TO UPROOT! Yeah that works better. LET’S GET TO STOMPING!”

With that, the king did just that, lumbering off in the direction of the last root while people either packed into the van or followed his footsteps.
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.

“The treasury.”

“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
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