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Courier 6 and Ratchet

Level 5 - (6/50) EXP (+2), Level 4 - (16/40)
Location: Dirty Road
Word Count:911

The remaining enemy vehicles turned tail and left without so much as a token counterattack. Ratchet pumped his fist in the air and the Courier smiled triumphantly. At least until they mentioned reinforcements. ”There’s always more varmints in the woodwork, ain’t there?” The Courier prepared for the additional attackers by laying down the Eradishield generator down directly behind himself. That was with Bastion at his front in turret mode and the shield behind him, he was in good cover from two directions. He would absolutely be needing it judging from the state of the action now. Three new vehicles were coming in, one absolutely enormous, and all looked to be vastly superior to the junk cars they had already fought off. To make matters worse those same junk cars were coming back around to box the group in on the left. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about Bowser’s erratic driving throwing off his balance since the koopa king elected to just get out of the car!

Meanwhile, Ratchet perked up at the sight of the three additional vehicles heading their way. The monster truck was a complete mystery, but the other two? Something felt familiar about them. No, not the cars, the drivers! He recognized the drivers! ”Clank, are those two who I think they are?” Clank manifested and zoomed in his robotic eyes at the incoming cars, spying the drivers.


”Hey!” Ratchet called out as loud as he could, unsure who would actually be able to hear him. ”I’ve seen two of them before! Take out that ice cream truck, he’s an insane psychopath! But the buggy is driven by two great heroes! I’ve met Jak and Daxter before and they’ll be critical help!”

Ratchet put the pedal to the metal and dashed off in his Blue Falcon kart, making a beeline straight for Jak and Daxter. He couldn’t guarantee that his allies heard him and he needed to make certain the eco warriors survived long enough to be freed. Besides, there were so many of them that the others had the other guys handled, no problem.

The Courier kept out his Ratslayer, taking careful aim and shooting at the ice cream truck and monster truck, but to no avail. The caliber on his small rifle wasn’t enough to pierce their reinforced armor. Clearly these weren’t pieced together ramshackle junk cars like the others, but were designed from the ground up for insane vehicle mayhem. The only one with a gun strong enough to do any damage to those guys would be that asshole with the anti-material rifle, but the Courier wasn’t about to ask him for help. It was time for a new strategy. He picked up the Eradshield generator and transformed Bastion into walker. On the left flank were two of the surviving junk cars, coming in to make their day worse, and he could do something about them. With a simple command Bastion tossed the Courier with great robotic strength then de-manifested. The Courier kept his hand on the pokeball containing his new friend and threw it out in front of him as he came to a dirty landing.

“Heracross!” cried the bug, holding out its arms in a sumo-like stance.

”Time t’show me what you can do, heracross! Hit those cars as hard as you fucking can!”

“Cross!” The heracross’s eyes narrowed in determination, waiting in anticipation as the cars came toward it. Then it lowered its head, pointing its large impressive horn outward. “Hera!” It began charging forward with an impressive gait. “CROSS!” The Megahorn collided into the first car head on, but the heracross wasn’t trampled underwheel. Instead it threw up its head with incredible strength, tearing the car apart while at the same time hurling it up into the air on a collision course with the second car behind it!

Heracross did not make it out of the scuffle unharmed however, and was equally tossed back from the matched force of the raider vehicle. “Croooooss!” It slammed hard on the ground, rolling over a few times, its eyes spinning in little dizzy circles. Its hard shell was scuffed and bruised. Courier Six’s eyes were wide in shock. He hadn’t expected this pokemon to be that strong! Still, it was out for the count for the time being, so he returned it to its pokeball.

”Great job, hombre. I’m glad you joined my posse-Oh shit those are bullets!” The Courier had neglected to think about how diving out from the Bowsermobile would leave him without cover in a mostly empty field with tons of enemy fire. A shot whizzed right by his head, a near miss but only because he was never the intended target to begin with. ”Shit shit shit shit shit!” he hustled back to the Bowsermobile, keeping his head down.

Ratchet had caught up to Jak in the Sand Shark just in time to see one of their newer allies, the one that showed up to kick Bowser in the face, went all angelic lightshow and went to dive straight into the duo’s car. ”Careful!” he cried out. Once again Ratchet summoned Clank in place to pilot the kart while the lombax himself took a leap toward his old rival/friend through the air, omniwrench out in an overhead strike.
Courier 6 and Ratchet

Level 5 - (4/50) EXP (+2), Level 4 - (14/40)
Location: Dirty Road
Word Count:1040

Well this was disappointing. Nobody bothered to offer the Courier a ride in their kart even when he had asked the group as a whole. Ratchet would have let the wasteland wanderer ride with him but the Blue Falcon he had chosen was built for maximum speed, and that meant compensating by dropping space. Just himself, and of course occasionally Clank, were overfilling the thing with no room on the sleek design for a rider on the chassis. A bit dismayed, the Courier resigned himself to riding with the rabbids, though not before spotting that box of rifle ammo produced by Princess Peach that nobody else had seen fit to snag. He grabbed the rounds and boarded the truck, ready to fire into any oncoming enemies with his Ratslayer rifle… If he could survive the annoyance of the rabbids’ singing.

”Woohoo! Now this is what I’m talking about!” Ratchet cried out, following behind Bowser’s big car in his kart. It could go faster, he just knew it! He wanted to push the pedal to the metal and take full advantage of the Blue Falcon, so he did! Feeling the wind blowing through his fur, Ratchet sped passed all his fellow heroes and into the thick of things with the marauding bandits and their ramshackle cars.

”Only five? We could take them all on!” Ratchet pulled down his goggles to protect his eyes from the rushing wind. Clank appeared, taking the wheel of the Blue Falcon kart and piloting it.

“Do not underestimate our opponents, Ratchet. Remember that most of the people Galeem has brought to this world appear to be heroes of our own calibur.”

The Bombuilder materialized in Ratchet’s hands, to which he said while cocking the gun, ”Long as we’re together little buddy, there are no heroes of our calibur!” The enemies began unloading their chain guns on the lone kart, so far ahead of its allies. Clank’s programmed piloting skills coupled with the Blue Falcon’s inherent speed kept them safe from the errant bullets, albeit only barely. A projectile whizzed by uncomfortably close to Ratchet’s long ears.

One of the unarmed buggies came careening toward them. Before it got close enough to ram them Ratchet fired off a proximity bomb, which narrowly missed the target. Still the explosion knocked the buggy off course, so they were safe from being rammed. “You appear to be aiming as though we were flying a ship in the weightlessness of space,” Clank chimed in.

”Yeah, I’m not used to shooting from a vehicle with gravity. I won’t make that mistake again.” He brought up the explosive lobbing gun for another shot, this one landing directly under the buggy as it tried backing up. The resulting explosion flipped the car over onto its top, no doubt killing the driver in the process.

”Thanks for the fun! I had a blast! Hahahaha-WOAH!” Ratchet had to duck back down to narrowly avoid a spinning blade of death as the largest of the cars nearly took him out. ”Alright, that was too close for comfort. No more Mr. Nice Lombax!” Ratchet readied his gun for another shot.

“Pardon me Ratchet, but if I may interject. My time is almost up and I will have to recharge.” Ratchet looked down at Clank, then back to the largest, most dangerous enemy car. It had already moved out of reliable range.

”Gotcha. Don’t worry about it, little buddy. The cavalry is here.” Clank vanished as Ratchet took the wheel just in time to drift out of the way of a chain gun volley. Without a copilot he could shoot, so there was only one course of action: retreat. Thankfully the rest of the group had closed in the distance so the enemy fire wasn’t entirely focused on just him.

As Ratchet sped back to regroup with the others, the Courier unplugged his ears (the only solace from the annoying as hell rabbids), explosions having caught his attention. Running to the edge he spotted what all was going on: enemy vehicles slapped together by what looked to be ramshackle chicken wire and duct tape. Good lord, even he could build a better junkyard scrap car than those things! Let’s see, Bowser was spitting fire into the fray, no surprise there. Bowser’s son deployed a bunch of footsoldiers, that was new but ok. And the funny looking wizard guy just grew the Centurion into a giant, well that’s fucking delightful.

The Courier readied his rifle and took aim, only for a bump in the sandy road to throw him off. Gah! He readied himself again, only this time an errant rabbid bumped into his knee. ”GGGRRRR!” He glared at the small creature which instantly backed off nervously in a cartoonish manner. ”Fine. Time to bring in some heavier duty firepower anyway.”

Courier Six slung his rifle over the shoulder and went to work climbing up to the top of the truck’s cab. He almost lost his grip as it swerved once but that was no problem. He hoisted himself all the way up then crouched down. His striker, the robot Bastion, appeared in its sentry turret mode. ”Fill any enemies full o’holes, Bastion! Protect the truck and Bowser’s car to keep’em off my back.”

Bastion immediately went to work, firing at whatever was closest to the rabbid’s trailer and Bowser’s car. For all intents and purposes this caravan was protected by its own personal automated sentry of death. Meanwhile the Courier was finally able to take aim, proper aim, with his Ratslayer. The target was the buggy with the tire blown off as the easiest target. Time slowed to a near still as VAST activated.

Target vehicle engine. Probability of hit: 98%. Unlikely to do a whole lot of damage that way though. The windshield is visible. Alter target, driver’s head. Accounting for range, firepower, size of target, and windshield barrier: 71%. I’d easily bet on those odds.

Two bullets shot out from the Ratslayer and time resumed its normal pace.

"How long did it take you to build this? Hours? Days? Weeks? How would you like to see your life’s work dismantled in a matter of seconds?"

"How long did it take you to build this? Hours? Days? Weeks? How would you like to see your life’s work dismantled in a matter of seconds?"
Pacho's ultimate technique shot down at around a forty-five degree angle straight for where Naja stood, but she wasn't going to just take a giant lightning bird to the face lying down. The speed of this ultimate power was truly a remarkable one, but she was no slouch in the speed department herself. With the strength of mechanical legs coupled with the reverse force of her bolstered spear technique, the warrior woman tossed herself back and up into the air narrowly avoiding a direct hit by the energy-enveloped gang member. No sooner than he landed did the cloak of electrical chi dissipate, leaving Paccho kneeling on the ground alone, winded and tired. She made her move, twisting into her mighty thunder axe! The empowered axe kick landed square down on Pacho's defenseless shoulder. Tapped out and vulnerable from his use of the Thunderbird he couldn't block, nor tighten his muscles to resist the damage. Thus he took the full force of the kick and slammed headfirst into the pavement below, his shoulder broken.

Both opponents were down for the count! Unfortunately O-Chul had left one final present for them. With nobody to jump in and intercept his final super art, and Naja right in its path with no clue it was on its way, the ball of elastic chi plowed into her right side. It had gained enough momentum to send her flying across the street and into the wall of the very store they had been sent to protect. It finally reached its final bounce, dissipating in that last collision, but it no doubt fractured a rib or two and caused a ton of damage to her right mechanical arm, plus whatever extra she suffered from her not-so-soft landing.

But when all was said and done the whole group could still get back up. More than could be said for either of their opponents. O-Chul remained completely unconscious, while Pacho seemed to be blinking in and out but certainly was in no condition to get back up anytime soon. They had won.

O-Chul defeated! Sam XP gain - 4
Pacho defeated! Naja XP gain - 4
Secret goal accomplished: determine Pacho's unknown fighting style! Naja XP gain - 1
Courier 6 and Ratchet

Level 5 - (2/50) EXP (+3), Level 4 - (12/40)
Location: Castle Courtyard
Word Count:1553
Courier 6 level up!
Animal Friend: Animals just like you! With few exceptions, animals will never attack you, even if trained by someone else, and will in fact come to your defense in most situations!

Once they had the teleporters in working order, Ratchet had decided to call it a night. That they turned a piece of bread into a horrid monster didn’t really bother him too much considering he had faced down much worse. It would be easily splattered with a single good thwack of the omniwrench. Graciously, the princess offered up what seemed to be every room in the castle for them to sleep, which wasn’t an issue for most of their crew. For him however, with his newfound height courtesy of Zer0’s spirit bond, it was quite difficult to find a bed that could support his long body. Ultimately the lombax decided to just take the closest mattress and curl up like a cat, befitting his feline physiology.

Down deep in the dungeon the Courier worked and toiled all night long to craft up as many chems as he could, calling upon his two strikers to keep guard while he worked. He immediately took the first dose of jet that he had crafted in order to rid himself of the nasty withdraw effects, then went to work making more. Coyote tobacco, more jet, rushing water, mentats, stimpacks and more. Eventually he had to brew himself some coffee to make up for the lack of sleep (and what a good thing that his coffee actually negated the need for sleep!) but still he pressed on and on until he had no viable combination of ingredients left.

With a heavy sigh of toil, the Courier wiped his brow, packing away all his new chems and drink into his carry bag. No sooner had he latched the pack up did he hear the sound of his lakelurk’s sonic blast along with a small, gravelly, yet somehow high pitched yelp. 6 rounded the corner, pistol drawn, to the sight of Bastion and the lakelurk facing down one of those tiny mushroom head people that populated the castle, one with blue spots on his head instead of the usual red.

Rolling his eyes, the Courier called back his strikers and put his piece away. ”Sorry about that. Shoulda been more specific about standin’ guard over me. Hope yer ok, little buddy.”

The small creature cowered at first, but quickly recovered and trotted along to the Courier, giving him a swift kick in the shins. He yelped in pain, hopping back on one foot, rubbing the injury. It wasn’t going to bruise or anything, and to be honest didn’t actually hurt all that bad (sub-dermal armor and all), but it was a reflexive response to the very angry mushroom man. “The name is Toad! And don’t you forget it, buster!” Toad crossed his arms and glared.

”Don’t worry, I won’t,” 6 assured, putting both feet on the ground again. ”You seem to be made of sterner stuff than the others round these parts.”

“What, you think we’re all tiny cowards? That’s racist, buddy! I’ll have you know that I’ve gone on adventures with Mario and the Princess!” The Toad gave a little “harrumph” and turned his back on the Courier before speaking again. “I’m supposed to wake up any stragglers to go meet in the courtyard, so get moving bucko!”

The Courier nodded, mildly impressed by the small person, and took the verbal abuse in stride. Without another word he headed topside to join the others.

Ratchet and the Courier each listened to what Princess Peach had to say, paying attention to her little presentation to the group. It lacked a certain royal regality that Ratchet would have thought would’ve accompanied Peach, and a certain snobbish self-importance that the Courier would have expected. Both were pleased by this turn of events and enjoyed keeping things casual.

As the princess introduced various newcomers to the groups at large, Clank was among the names listed. Almost by reflex the little robot striker was summoned by Ratchet’s side wearing his best “Secret Agent Clank” tuxedo, giving a professional wave to those who turned to look at him. “It is good to be recognized,” he commented before vanishing once again.

As this was happening, the Courier stood by his lonesome, leaning against a tree and enjoying the shade it provided. So the Master of Masters was staying behind, was he? Whatever that fink was planning probably had to do with the castle itself, or how everyone was using it as a base of operations. His train of thought was interrupted as the tree he leaned against was now leaning back toward him, bending at the trunk!

“Cross cross! Hera! Heracross!” joyfully exclaimed the enormous blue beetle creature he had met just yesterday evening. It was trying to get his attention, pushing on the tree from the other side. The thing’s strength was enormous!

”Howdy bug hombre.” The Courier tipped his hat at the beetle, which then sank its teeth into the tree, devouring the nutritious sap from within. ”Well alrighty then.” He turned his attention back to the princess, who had just introduced someone new. He spoke about creatures that he called “Pokemon,” summoning one of these things as an example for his diatribe. The Courier glanced between the little aron that Steven Stone had conjured from thin air to the large blue beetle, then back to Steven. They were obviously completely different creatures, but just as Mario, Peach, and Bowser looked like they “belonged” together, so too did these two animals. The man spoke about how they could be tamed and captured using special made balls and turned into allies. Well, that sounded right as rain! And how lucky for the Courier that he already had endeared himself to one of these Pokemon already?

Then Princess Peach took over again and explained something else that was new and foreign to the group as a whole. She demonstrated some kind of box that, when provided with some strange form of currency, exploded into a bunch of new items and gear! The Courier recognized the green bill she had used, something that was utterly plentiful (and completely worthless) in his own world: pre-war money. The currency used by America before the bombs turned everything to shit. Damn, he never kept that stuff on hand. If the Mojave was stitched into a part of this world then he’d be sure to find boat loads of pre-war money for those boxes, but he didn’t have any of it on hand now.

After the demonstration the princess declared her intention to come with, punctuated by a cute display of boxing that honestly really did not suit her. Smash Tournaments? Not waiting around to be rescued? Ratchet respected her, but felt unsure about it. After all, what would become of the castle if she were taken out? Would the Toads still maintain their new headquarters? The Courier, on the other hand, applauded. His clapping resonated across the courtyard showing off his appreciation and respect for this princess. She was the absolute antithesis to the kinds of people that inspired him to fight against the gods and masters that conspire to determine the fates of honest, hard working regular people.

And finally the presentation ended with Tora giving a small demonstration on how to drive the carts that had been fixed up by some of the group the previous night. The Courier turned his nose at this, always having been someone who preferred to walk his roads. He’d have to ride shotgun to another driver. On the other hand Ratchet was fairly excited to get his hands on something new to pilot! He bound toward the karts to look them over for one that suited his purposes, eventually coming across a blue winged speed demon of a kart that resonated with his spirit.

”What’dya think Clank? Does it match my new look?”

Clank immediately appeared to answer. “It does look rather sleek, but I am more concerned with your ability to keep it from crashing. Hehehehehehe!”

”Hey! That was one time!”

A nearby conversation caught the lombax’s attention. The two human friends, Franklin and Michael, were discussing one of the pieces of gear dropped from the loot box. A gearhead himself familiar with alien technology, he felt the need to jump in. ”It looks different from the designs in my galaxy, but I’d wager what you have right there is a plasma pistol,” he interjected. ”Small power cells so I wouldn’t expect a big blast from it. Probably comparable to the side arms of your chemical based combustion guns, but waaaay cooler because it’s plasma.” Ratchet gave the two a fingergun salute.

Meanwhile, the Courier approached Steven, the large beetle scuttling along the ground behind him. ”I’ll take the free balls, hombre. Already got me a pokemon that wants t’be my pardner. Anything you can tell me about this one would be appreciated.” As soon as Steven handed over the pokeballs, the Courier casually tossed one at the heracross, which immediately went inside. The ball did not struggle, nor budge at all save to fly right back into his hand. The fighting bug did not contest being captured and willfully joined his side.
Making the declaration here for all to see since the discord moves quickly. Looking to recruit for a villain team called The Lost (name may change if a better one comes along). My character, a NPC from my own Worm game being carried over here by the name of Sabotage, is a thinker that specializes in taking apart any form of technology or machinery, then is able to commit said designs to memory and rebuild that tech at a later point. Her goal is to protect and help any and all orphans and foster children in ways that she never got when she was in the foster system. Modus operandi: rob tinkers blind -> take apart their tech to memorize -> rebuild -> sell for profit. She prefers to work non-violently but isn't afraid to get her hands dirty so long as there's no killing involved.

Who would like to work with this individual in a larger group, either geared toward the same goal or just in association?
Cassim and Iago

Cassim and Iago followed the lovely Esmeralda to the tavern of which she had spoken, the Le Pomme D'Eve, trotting along not too far behind on the thief's horse. Well, not technically his horse, but the animal wasn't well trained enough to recognize that fact when he took it from the Agrabah royal stables. So it was definitely his now! Regardless, Cassim detoured from following the gypsy woman inside in order to tether his horse outside, ensuring that it was near a trough of water. The good boy deserved a drink as much as they did after all.

"Hoo boy, a whole tavern full of drunken morons with more cents than sense!" Iago rubbed his wings together as a schemer would rub the palms of his hands. "What'd'ya say Cassim? Ready to make out like a bandit tonight?"

Cassim smiled in a sly grin, giving the tether a final tug to ensure the knot was tight enough. "We shall see, my little friend. Let's not ruin the prospects of our new friendships too quickly." Iago returned the grin. Cassim had his reservations, sure, but the crimson bird knew that with a little extra pushing the man would succumb to his peer pressure and they'd make off as richer men. Oh he was such a bad influence! How grand.

The two entered the tavern to a large amount of hustle, bustle, and singing as a rather burly man stole the center of attention. The peoples of Paris seemed enamored with this red-tunic wearing hunter boasting about how many eggs he could eat and his feats of strength. Cassim had to admit that these boasts were indeed quite impressive... If they were true. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't, but either way it was none of his business that this Gaston (for who couldn't have known his name by the second verse?) felt such a crippling need for validation that he'd turn an entire tavern into his personal cheerleader brigade. No, not even how they showered him with gifts and coin was enough to draw his attentio-wait, that was a good amount of money being tossed around! No, no, control yourself Cassim. You're here to meet with the people and get information on the whereabouts of this Sally from Halloween Town. Adventure, now that was the real treasure!

Iago, annoyed at the racket, desperately tried to plug his ears but to no avail. Instead he opted to focus on something else, anything else, to ignore the sort of self-aggrandizing he couldn't stand unless he was doing it himself. He looked over at the tavern owner but her burly mannish figure was startling. He focused on Esmeralda, who had reunited with some golden boy soldier man and they were making kissy googoo eyes (blech!). He focused on all the coin getting tossed around, but it was all being used to pay for more drinks and food for that Gaston jerk! Oh no, it was back in his head! AAAAHHH!

"No one needs to blow it out their ear like Gaston! For the love of Allah, shut! It!" Iago, in his very noticeable natural voice, cried out over the crowd. Cassim facepalmed as assuredly eyes would fall upon him. Immediately Iago recognized his mistake and took to acting as the dumb bird he was supposed to be. "Shut it, rawwwk!" He added a standard parrot whistle.

"Why do I let you get me into these messes?" Cassim muttered behind his hand, just loudly enough for only Iago to hear.
Courier 6 and Ratchet

Level 4 - (39/40) EXP (+3), Level 4 - (9/40)
Location: Castle Kitchen -> BJ’s Room and Peach’s Room -> Castle Library -> Dungeon Lab
Castle Kitchen
Word Count:3418
Collab with @Lugubrious as the Master of Masters

Courier Six listened and observed after making his own declarations, suggestions, and an offer to make some chems for the others, but sadly his presence as a whole seemed to have gone completely ignored. Even the creatures that had followed him from the outside garden were too preoccupied with their own meals to pay him any mind. ”Fine then. More for me,” he muttered under his breath, honestly a little disappointed. Just like the good old Dr. Mobius had taught back at the Big Empty, he was well versed in the science of sharing! Oh well. Sometimes people just sucked. The Courier took another bite of his turkey leg, then wandered off on his own. Big groups weren’t exactly his thing anyway, so it worked out.

Meanwhile, Ratchet was hard at work with the teleportation device that Blazermate had constructed. Together they worked on bits and pieces, moving odds and ends around. He had studied both ends pretty thoroughly and now had a good idea of what parts did what, which ones could be spared and replicated, which ones were superfluous, and so forth. It took him a good long time, but as far as his little mechanic’s brain could tell both ends of the teleporter were now perfect (albeit a bit Frankenstein in appearance) copies of one another. Now each one could serve as both an entrance, and as an exit. Of course, they couldn’t serve as both at once, so they’d need to have a way to switch the settings.

”I think we can test it again, Blaze,” he commented. Ratchet threw his omniwrench at the nearest table like a boomerang. A steamed mushroom got caught up in the wrench, which pulled back to his hand thanks to the magnet glove. The lombax placed the fungus in one end, the one that used to exclusively be the end point, and hit the switch to startup the machine.


Whack! The teleporter roared back to life with a good smack from the wrench and Ratchet gave Blazermate a cheesy thumbs up. The rest of the testing was on her.

The Ghost of the Mojave wandered around the castle halls idly, snacking on the turkey leg he had grabbed, keeping an eye out for anything useful. This place felt so… Anachronistic. It was clearly medieval in design, yet seemed to have modern amenities. Plumbing was clearly established, as apparently were gas stoves if that kitchen was any evidence, but electronics were conspicuously absent. And, most telling of all, there was absolutely no sign of any atomic technology.


Coming to some stairs, the Courier opted to climb up as he explored. He still needed some plastic to go with that fertilizer if he was going to cook up some jet (and he’d need a lot of jet since it was a base ingredient in more useful chems on top of that). From what he had seen around the place he wasn’t worried, confident that some plastic would show up eventually.

His confidence was rewarded as he came to two open rooms on the upper floor. Both were bedrooms, though they clearly housed two very different owners. One looked like a child’s playroom or nursery, while the other was… Very pink. Very. Very. Pink. First he explored the child’s room, figuring it belonged to Bowser’s son (though why his son had a room in the castle of their sworn enemy he couldn’t possibly fathom, unless it was designed that way by the other Bowser). Jackpot, plastic galore! All these toy blocks, actions figures and the like, he immediately went to swiping as much as he could stuff into the vine basket Din had made for him. He was even lucky enough to find some turpentine! Why the kid would need industrial paint thinner he had no idea, but then if Junior were as bright a bulb as his dad, well, who knows what could be going through those heads?

Content with his findings in Bowser Jr.’s room, Six moved on to the second, which he assumed to belong to the princess. Immediately it became apparent that it had been ransacked recently, what with all the clothes and belongings just strewn all about the floor. Who could have done this? That was the thought that he didn’t care enough to have, instead joining in on that action. He spied some fascinating little figures of the Mushroom Kingdom residents and, recognizing them as a valuable resource, swiped them up. He then descended upon the study desk, covered with parchment (they could produce high quality plastic figures but still wrote on parchment with quills?!) and snagged up a number of the princess’s writings. He didn’t bother reading any of them or checking their content, not yet. That would be saved for when he had more time. For now, he was simply grabbing whatever wasn’t nailed down. Whether he could sell it for some caps or use the information to become more familiar with these strange lands, the documents could prove valuable.

That’s when something struck him. No, not the constant headache of withdraw, though that was still a pounding pain in the ass, but information. He needed more, and someone in their group didn’t fit. Someone who had brushed him off earlier. Someone with an overly grandoise title and inflated sense of ego: the Master of Masters. Stuffing the parchment into his travel pack, the Courier vowed to look for that man and continue his line of questioning from earlier. Something about him simply felt… Wrong.

A smidgen of indolence - a tuft of brattiness - a sprig of curiosity - a heart of light - a pang of love - and plenty of soft, short fur.

“Voila!” exclaimed a deep, yet cheerful voice from within the library, the door to which lay ajar. “Looks like the Master’s still got it!” Within, the black-robed eccentric bent over a table, strewn haphazardly with all manner of vaguely sciency and magical balderdash, much of it collected from Kamek’s dungeon laboratory. Multicolored smoke drifted about him, and a pungent, animalistic smell haunted the air. When the Master of Masters straightened up, he held a globe-bottomed flask with a tiny catlike creature inside, barely bigger than a hamster and much sillier in proportion. It rubbed its eyes sleepily and tried to get up, only to stumble over all roly-poly. Its creator set its container down on the table in the middle of the strange assortment, took up a tiny hammer, and prepared to break the cat-thing free.
A thick aroma of tobacco and whiskey wafted through the stacks as the Master of Masters prepared to free his experimentation, signaling the arrival of someone new. Several books, all of which were in far better condition than any come across in the wasteland, found themselves stuffed into a travel bag as the Courier finally laid eyes on his target.

”Evening pardner. We got unfinished business.” Six spat to the side, no doubt staining the otherwise lovely carpeting, and adjusted his hat with one hand. The other rested on his pistol holster.

For a split second, the Master of Masters was still, his expression inscrutable even if his back wasn’t turned. What did the Courier’s voice send through his mind? Surprise? Alarm? Amusement? Disgust? “Hm?” He turned halfway around, still holding the bottled kitten-thing in one gloved hand and the little tapper in the other. “And what might that be? I don’t remember asking for any help throwing up. Got that handled all on my own, thanks.”

”Cute as a pygmy mole rat, ain’t ya?” he chuckled, but never blinked. ”I’m just takin ya up on yer offer to talk later, Mom. Ya never did answer me as to why you weren’t crazier than a starved cazadore. While we’re at it, let’s add on just what in tarnation that thing is, eh?”

For a moment the stranger seemed puzzled, but at its end he let out a chuckle. “Hey, that’s not half bad! Surprised nobody came up with it before, really. Then again, none of my apprentices would’ve dared say something like that, eh?” He went ahead and bopped the bottle with the hammer, setting the wee beast free. “So, ascending order. This cutie little tootie here’s a Chirithy. A special kind of Dream Eater. Back when I first made them, I gave one each to my apprentices for companionship, and because they’re super sensitive to hearts. If their masters fall to the darkness, they’ll become Nightmares. But I don’t suppose my jargon’s making much of an impression on you, huh?” With a careful hand he swept the glass into a neat little pile.

Once he finished, his hands -seemingly unable to hold still- went to work gathering and messing with other things on the once-immaculate library table, but the Master of Masters spoke as he worked. “Anyhoo, as for the crazy business, the answer’s pretty simple, though I’m not exactly happy about it. Galeem’s big ol’ lightshow took out everything in existence, but our puffy friend’s Warp Star let do I put this in layman’s terms? Phase out of existence?” He shrugged. “As for me, I didn’t exist at all.”

Six cocked his head a bit, processing the words this man was saying. It didn’t make a ton of sense, he had to admit. Many strange things had happened since these worlds had been smushed together and many of their aspects, he imagined, couldn’t be compatible. Different histories, rules, laws of physics, Magic seemed to be commonplace to most of his compatriots to boot. Still, he was a quick study. It wouldn’t take long to get acclimated.

”Dream Eater? Darkness? Nightmares? You’re not making a lick of sense… if I take you literally. I reckon they bond with people, mind or soul. Is that what you’re getting at?” he frowned, adjusting his hat. Damn thing wasn’t fitting right since the Bowser fight. ”Then they change to reflect their master’s corruption or somethin’. Fine. So explain what you mean by not existing, because I can’t rightly put that one together to save my life.”

“Well, I used to live in a place called Daybreak Town. And one day I disappeared.”


The Master of Masters’ shoulders shook in silent laughter. “And what? What do you do after you vanish? Dim? Fade...? Nothing. Nothing at all. I guess it was kinda like sleeping without dreaming.” He looked over his shoulder at 6. “Don’t tell me you don’t know what I mean?”

Without waiting for a reply, he turned back and continued. “Bah, I dunno how to explain it. Then I existed again, in this world. The whole shebang, already over with. No idea why.” A heavy sigh filled the room. “And it could happen again. Not hypothetical anymore. Any day now I could disappear again, vanished, dimmed, faded, at the drop of a hat. Here today, gone tomorrow. Heheh. The knowledge is kinda heavy, but in a way, also light. Nothing weighs me down.”

Now this was an incredible development. Bizarre, unbelievable, and incredible. If true, that is. ”And you have no idea how that happened? How or when it could happen again? You seem awfully well adjusted for a man just suddenly someplace else. Least I have foggy memories and a notion of how I got here.” How the man responded to this would be very crucial.

“Right on the money,” the hooded one replied, casual as ever. “Though you’re forgetting, I think, that my world was full of magic. Amazing stuff every day, yours truly no small contributor. That about get everything ironed out for you?”

That wasn’t nearly as helpful as Six had hoped it would be. Still, there was more he could draw out from this encounter. ”Not quite, Mom,” he said, speaking the Master of Masters’ acronym phonetically the second time. ”You said something before about being able to see everything your eye has seen, even through time. That means you’d be experiencing your entire lifetime all at once, constantly. Hell, the way I see it, that means you could see outside your lifetime too. That means you already knew I’d be coming to you, so tell me… What am I going to say next?”

The Master if Masters shrugged with a helpless shake of his head at first, clearly disinclined to try and explain it to 6. His final question, however, evoked a both palms slapped against the side of his head. Then, pretending to get serious, he admonished, “Sounds like someone's been skipping classes. First, my eye's not here. It's in a keyblade on the other end of the world. Second, it's a gazing eye, not a gazing ear. No sound.” He tapped the side of his head with an index finger. “Got that down?””

”Don’t talk to me like I’m some punk kid under your mastership,” the Courier spat back, unable to contain the vitriol of being talked down to. ”Coming from a completely different world, this being my first experience with your brand of brahmin shit, I’m thinkin’ I’m doing pretty well acclimating and piecing together. Besides, I’ve seen under yer hood, mystery man. Yer already just one giant eye.” He let that delusion hang in the air for a second, as though he just revealed some horrifying, masterful revolation, unaware of his own hallucination. ”So it’s like a camera you got linked right into yer brain, totally separate from yer body. ‘Cept it works across time. Good to know. But somethin’ still don’t sit right with me, oh great and powerful Mom. That eye of yours. Was it able to see the events of what happened while you were ‘disappeared?’ What I’m getting at is, now and before it happened, were you aware of the time period yer body was missing?”

The Master crossed his arms. “You're asking for an awful lot of explanation for someone who doesn't want to be taught now, aren'tcha? Make up your mind! Unless all those chemicals fried it.” He sighed, then in a bored, resigned tone replied, “I disappeared a long, long time ago. My apprentice passed my keyblade, and the eye in it, down to his, then he to his, and on and on and on. I know everything my eye ever sees, up until Galeem wiped everything out, then brought the keyblade and my eye back for whatever purpose. From what I saw of that map the squirt found, its at The City Without a Name.” All the while he persisted with his characteristic gesticulations, only settling down at the end. Shaking his head, he sat on the table and planted his hands. Onto his lap clambered the Chirithy, which he duly patted. “Aaaalrighty! That's all I've got for a nutjob who dissed my Foreteller. Run along now, 'kay?” He made a shooing motion.

Jesus, this guy had as inflated an ego as Mr. House did, didn’t he? As if to press the point, the Courier took another couple steps forward, not so much that he closed the gap between them, but enough to have a more noticeable, impactful presence. He wasn’t going to be ignored. ”Y’know there’s a happy medium to talking to folks without puttin’ yourself on a pedestal right? I don’t object to learnin’, it’s what I’m here for. I object to bein’ treated like a child. Got a real problem with that attitude, but all is forgiven if you can treat me like a colleague.”

He spoke with the most even, calm tone he had in some time. His anger had completely subsided, thanks to the prolific mood swings he was known for. ”What I’m getting at here is that before you ever vanished, from the moment you made that eye, you had to have known shit was hittin’ the fan. I can’t imagine you didn’t prepare before you disappeared. Plans. They work best when you let your posse in on them. Secrets are nasty things. Fester, like a disease. Lies beget more lies. So I’m askin’ ya now, politely, to come clean and let us all know what you’ve known. What you’ve put in place to help get us out of this mess. You come off as a real chessmaster type, but me? I ain’t nobody’s pawn. I want in. Plain and simple. But if yer still holding onto yer reservations, then how about a drinking contest?”

Gingerly, the Master of Masters withdrew his hand, rested one arm across his torso, and the other’s elbow on his wrist. This guy just didn’t respect him one bit. “Hate to say it bud, but you got me all wrong. Sure, I left behind some instructions for my Foretellers, but that concerned their future. Galeem unmade everything, remember? Nothing that I ever did exists anymore, unless he brought it here on purpose. Nothing I could have planned up would have made a lick of difference anyway. Do you really think someone -anyone- can change the future? No, no, no. We have to focus on what comes after.”

Leaning back, he exhaled deeply. “I don’t have any plans, or pawns, or anything. Galeem’s destruction is my goal, and hey, we know how that turns out. I’m not even going with you when you leave here--adventuring just ain’t my shtick.” A chuckle. “As for drinking, nooooo thank you! Water’s all I need.”

The Courier shrugged. ”More for me, then. Speaking of which, I’ve got a lot of alcohol to distill and chems to cook up, so I best be moseying on.” He turned to leave, but stopped short as something popped into his head. ”Those, what’d ya call it? Chirithy varmints? And that impractical looking sword you made for Din. Keyblade, was it? What’s stopping ya from helping out everyone with them? Final question, I swear.”

When he looked, the Master had already gotten up and starting tinkering again. “Keyblades are picky about their wielders. Only a pure heart can wield one. Plus, they take a super long time to master. As for Chirithies…” he paused to think for a second. “Nothing I guess, but they’re just pets. You know...a liability on the battlefield? The more you love, the more you have to lose. Eh?”

”Pure heart? No matter the world, nothing is so black and white.” He didn’t scoff, nor chide. Rather, he seemed wistful, hopeful, as though he desperately believes otherwise but years of personal experience had beat the opposite into his head. ”Well, I better get going. Staying in one place for too long feels wrong to a Courier like me. Sorry fer bothering ya fer so long.” With that he tipped his hat and made his way down the stacks, and ultimately out of the library.

Once the doors closed shut behind him, the Courier made his way down to the dungeons of the castle, navigating the dark stone corridors and noting that instead of being cold it felt rather warm. Hot, even. Eventually he came across Kamek’s lab, already pilfered by that hooded man in the library.

Finding a good place to setup, he placed down the vine basket full of produce and emptied his travel bag of all the ingredients he had collected thus far. He gave pause, letting a heavy sigh hang in the air like a cloud of cigarette smoke. His hand drifted to the keypad on his pip-boy, pressing a few buttons. A small speaker jumped to life.

”Evening pardner. We got unfinished business.”
“Hm? And what might that be? I don’t remember asking for any help throwing up. Got that handled all on my own, thanks.”

With another press of a button the playback ended. ”No gods. No masters.” The Courier grit his teeth and spat. ”And definitely no Master of Masters. I’ll find out what yer planning.” But he’d need to be at his best, and he couldn’t be his best without first crafting up some chems.

Items Acquired: Desk Parchment - Various scrolls and parchments from Princess Peach’s writing desk. Who knows what could be on them?
4 library books - Stolen from the Mushroom Castle library, each one taken from a different section.
3 servings black coffee - Temporarily increases alertness and intelligence by minor amount. Suitable substitute for sleep.
2 swigs moonshine - Temporarily increases strength and charisma at the cost of intelligence, all three by minor amount. Minorly addictive.
2 large wasteland tequila - Temporarily increases strength, damage resistance, and poison resistance by moderate amount, increases charisma minor amount, moderate decrease to intelligence. Minorly addictive.
3 bottles rushing water - By mixing jet with purified water you get a chem that increases attack speed by 50%, while nullifying jet’s addictive properties.
6 stimpacks - Injection that stimulates fast healing.
5 vials of Inferno - A new chem made with the ashes of Megadragonbowser, water, and a bit of broc flower, it temporarily gives incredible resistance to heat while increasing internal body temperature to burning highs, but become highly irritable and violent. Minorly addictive.
4 jet inhalers - A drug manufactured in the New California Republic to grant heightened senses and increased stamina. Highly addictive.
3 packs coyote tobacco chew - Increases perception and agility, minorly addictive.
2 tins of Mentats - Pills that stimulate brain activity to heighten intelligence, perception, and charisma. Addiction insignificant.
4 beers - Yup. It’s beer.
Leftover crafting material - The leftovers of chem crafting that weren’t enough to make more, mostly including fungus and turpentine.
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