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Jak & Daxter and Mag Launcher

Level 6 - (15/60) (+1), Level 1 - (5/10)
Location: Smash City -> Dead Zone (Argent Tower)
Word Count: 805

Jak and Daxter surprisingly didn’t have a whole lot to do while they waited for the big meeting of everyone at Smash City. They wandered around and took in the sights, and Jak definitely wanted in on a little combat, but there wasn’t much opportunity for it. Besides, after that dragon fight some rest was in order and Dax was more than a smidge hesitant. Once everyone was called to order and the large crowd of Smash City all seemed to “wake up” in one fell swoop, signups began and Jak knew exactly where they were going.

”PLEASE tell me you’re not taking us back there, Jak! I’m still digging out splinters in my fur.” As if to emphasize his point, Daxter flicked away a little piece of wood.

”We gotta, Dax. I don’t trust that V guy. His eyes are the same mine was after Praxis… Besides, maybe we’ll see Ratchet and Clank again?” he mused. Daxter shrugged, clearly defeated. There was no way he’d be able to change his friend’s mind and he knew it. So when the time came…

Jak wasn’t expecting Argent Tower to be the safe haven they left it, so he went into the teleporter prepared with his morph gun out and ready in scattergun mode. He was right. The Flood were invading in massive force, and luckily he had chosen the perfect mode for maximum damage against clustered groups. The large area of effect caused great harm to the bodies the alien parasites had infected, even if the slow rate of fire caused a problem.

Mag Launcher had seen a lot of run down places in his adventures. After all, exploring ruins was his job! But this place, it was unlike anything he’d ever seen before. Parasites weren’t something he was unfamiliar with however, so he knew the best way to fight these things was to keep his distance and let the airacomet crush them into paste. Small infectors ran around the ground in an attempt to latch into him, but he jumped back while his bionic hand slammed down open palmed like a giant fly swatter. Squish! An infected attempted to rush him with a pipe and he backhanded it from a distance, sending the host body flying. A problem was quickly arising though, and that was the sheer numbers. He couldn’t keep up with this many attackers!

Running low on red eco, Jak switched to the vulcan fury and unloaded an incredibly fast volley of blue eco penetrating shots while his red eco recharged. Each shot wasn’t the most damaging on its own, but ten shots a second piercing through every target until they hit a wall, it still chewed through enemies like nobody’s business.

Then a hooded figure appeared and froze some of the creatures in a flash of light. Like they were… Frozen in time. Jak narrowed his eyes at the newcomer, black hood and all. This felt too familiar and it gave him a bad feeling. ”Another member of the Black Hood Cult? How many of these bozos are there?!” Daxter exclaimed.

”Reinforcements? Very cool.” Mag said as he grabbed a Flood infected brute and hurled it into the wall.

The battle raged on with neither side giving an inch. The Flood just kept coming, and killing the infectors didn’t seem to stop them. As long as the bodies were intact, another would just hop in like a car with the keys left in the ignition, and destroying the bodies still left the parasites themselves. Mag was going to get tired sooner rather than later, and Jak could only swap between gun modes for so long before having to abandon the battle altogether.

”Listen everyone!” Daxter called out as Jak spin-kicked a Flood’s head clean off then blasted the body with the scattergun. ”We’ve gotta prune that giant tree by uprooting it! Look for the big roots stickin’ outta the ground like one of Samos’s bunyons!”

Ignoring that nobody but Jak would know who Samos was or find that remotely funny, Mag began to direct everyone toward an exit. That’s when the hooded figure dropped their hood and Jak locked eyes with the man as he went running by. Daxter’s jaw dropped and he tried to calm his friend down, but it was to no avail. ”You!” Jak growled, losing his temper. Dark eco rippled through his body and his eyes turned pure black. ”I’m gonna kill you!”

”We don’t have time for this, tactical retreat now!” Mag grabbed Jak’s shirt collar from afar and yanked the duo away from the hooded man, through the hole made by the crashed truck.
Courier 6 and Tora and Poppi

Level8 - (29/80) EXP (+3)
Level 8 Tora (9/80) and Level 7 Poppi (55/70) (+3)
Location: Lumbridge -> Smash City
Word Count: 3207

The Courier stood there for a moment, a big confident, self congratulating smile across his face. He took in the cheers, both the automated and the real, bathing in the feeling of a job well done, of a task appreciated by the people. Once it all died down he stood there, staring awkwardly at the guildmarm, his hands on the counter as though waiting for something. Once it became clear that nothing else was happening he grunted. ”Oh. I get it. This is one o’ those, ‘for the people, for fame’ rewards.”

He sighed, and Gaige-Tron shifted around. “Wait, so there’s no actual reward?” she asked.

”’Fraid not.” The Courier pursed his lips.

“UNACCEPTABLE! ANARCHY!” GT rolled to the nearest table and flipped it, then rolled around in circles flailing her arms.

”That’s enough, GT. Sometimes… Sometimes you just gotta live with the fact that helpin’ people is its own reward.” Though he spoke of altruism, he was clearly very disappointed. The Courier righted the table his robot had upended then approached the guildmarm’s counter one more time. He took a single bottle cap from his pocket, the currency of the wasteland in his world, and placed it for her to take. ”Fer the trouble, ma’am.” He tipped his hat then turned and walked away.

The Courier was then quickly accosted by a young man with messy black hair and a fancy black outfit. The young man didn’t have the red eyes of Galeem’s influence, which meant that he was probably saved by another of their group at some point. The Courier figured likely when they split up to head to the Dead Zone. He also showed familiarity with Link. Something about this boy didn’t feel right to him, but it was another ally in the war against the Light and he wasn’t one to turn that down.

”I reckon you had a run-in with our posse before. Yup, we got a method to get around fast. Was setup by the prince of the Koopas.” He gestured toward Bowser Junior, if BJ had joined him in the guild hall, and otherwise didn’t make any movements. ”Just might have made a whole mess of allies. Follow me back if’n you wanna join in the fun.” With that Courier 6 walked past Ren with a little gesture to follow, but not before calling out to Link. He went back to the paint portal that would place them back to Peach’s Castle, and then to the next portal back to Smash City.

Ren smiled, his expression just a touch more wolfish than the average high school student’s. “Excellent.” He followed the Courier outside, then paused as the draconian turned away. After a moment of waiting, he spotted Ryuji sprinting his way and a blonde girl with pigtails struggling to keep up with the former track star. Both his friends slid to a halt one after another as they neared him, and he pointed toward the receding back of the Courier once they caught their breath. “Hey, Ann. We’re heading after that guy. Ryuji can explain the mission on the way.”

Ann looked dubious. “You mean he’ll try and you’ll correct him, right?”

“Hey, you don’t have to say it like that!!” Ryuji exclaimed, indignant. “We went over it, like, a minute ago! No way I forgot.”

Together, the three hurried after 6. “So you’re saying it’ll be super embarrassing if you do forget,” Ann acknowledged. “Alright, let’s hear it. What’re we up against this time?”

Ryuji looked over the buildings of Lumbridge town to where Galeem shone against the sky, far and away. “Basically? This whole world.”

As the grand meeting dissolved, with its many listeners heading their separate ways in greater or lesser degrees of enthusiasm, Tora wondered what to do with his time until departure. A look at Poppi reminded him that he really wanted to complete her ultimate form, but was that an option right now? He looked around the atrium as if he expected to see a high-tech workshop just hanging around. Though not a Nopon known for his professionalism or fastidiousness, he wanted Poppi’s third form to be a special achievement, not a hack job mashed together on the ground or in the tradeyard of some primitive podunk. He needed a real worktable. More to the point, Tora needed real tools, or failing that, someone who could cobble together such tools from whatever happened to be on hand.

Feeling frustrated, Tora continued to look around until his eyes fell on the intimidating new wings of Courier 6. Their owner appeared to be marching in the direction of the Master of Masters, but the sight of him -and the recollection of his abilities- made Tora realize that the wastelander could be doing something far more important and productive than whatever he had in mind for the black-coated mystery man. “Meeeeh!” he called, running over. “Courier! Tora need Courier help!”

Poppi watched him go, then briefly stopped by Isabelle’s desk. “Hello, doggypon,” she greeted the floppy-eared clerk. “Please mark Tora and Poppi for desert. Want keep moving forward!” After that confirmation, she hurried after her masterpon, who’d just accosted 6 by running right in front of him and bouncing up and down insistently.

Courier 6 stopped in his tracks, eyes fixed on that hooded menace while his face was turned the other way (or at least his hood was facing off another direction, who knew what was under there or how he saw things?). Tora’s voice grated him in that moment, but he took a deep breath to calm himself. No, this was a good thing. It was too early to confront the Master of Masters, and especially not in front of all these onlookers. No doubt it would cause a scene. GT stopped alongside him and faced the nopon and blade duo, her screen briefly flashing a question mark in the place of Gaige’s face.

”Howdy, Tora-pon,” he greeted happily, his previous irritation having melted away completely. ”Appreciate ya not callin’ me ‘druggy-pon’ this time.”

“Tora want favor from friend Courier this time!” the rotund inventor explained, rather shamelessly.

He walked up to Isabelle’s desk near Poppi and heard where she signed up herself and her master to head out for. He gave a nod and said, ”Ditto to that fer me an’ my robot here. Seen a lot a places I never woulda thought I’d have seen in my lifetime, but gettin’ back to a desert would be good fer me. A bit of a nostalgia trip. Besides, if’n any a that desert is wasteland, y’all will need a real wasteland courier to show ya the ropes.”

“Ew, a desert? Really?” GT pouted, crossing her tube-like arms multiple times like a child would. “Alright, if you say so, boss. But if I get sand and dust in my mechanisms it’s your job to clean it out.”

He glanced back to her. ”Yer auto-repair nanites’ll take care of it plenty fine. Anyway-” He turned back to Tora. ”What’s this help you’ll be needin’ from me, hombre? An’ remember, my help don’t come free.”

Tora was ready and willing to spill all the beans he had up until the point where his quaint acquaintance mentioned payment. “Meh?! W-well, friend not expect payment for just hear Tora out, right?” Both he and Poppi looked at the Courier with concern, assuming that to be a real risk.

The Courier sighed. ”Time is money, as they say, but go ahead. I’m off the clock an’ I’ll hear what you’ve got to say. Bit’a advice though, anythin’ll sound a lot more appealin’ if’n ya get a drink in my hand.” He grinned and tipped his hat.

Tora scratched his chin. He remembered seeing drinks in the pizza place he and Poppi visited for lunch, but he couldn’t take them with him. If they were going to the desert, though, he probably ought to get a water bottle to take with him. While he didn’t relish the idea of buying supplies for someone else too, if a drink was all it took to secure 6’s cooperation, he would have to. “Okay, Tora find drink for Courier later. But now, I tell about plans.” He spread his wings toward Poppi as if presenting her, and the artificial blade posed accordingly. “Tora wanting to finish new super-duper cool form for Poppi. Couldn’t in adventure land because there no good workshop tools. Tora not compromise on quality for Poppi, but wonder if Courier have any experience with makeshift tools?” The end of his sentence trailed upward, indicating a question.

The Courier ran his teeth over his upper lip. Apparently Tora hadn’t heard of sitting down for a drink for a deal? Well, not that it mattered at this point, they already sprang the question, in a dramatic and suitably cheesy way. In response the Courier waved his arms and flared up his wings to show off GT, trying to give her a cue to play along. She didn’t quite get it though and just stood there, scratching the top of her metal chassis like a person expressing confusion. “Uh… Why did everyone suddenly turn into Power Rangers?”

”Eh, whatever. This kinda posin’ is fer molerat brains anyway,” the Courier murmured under his breath, repositioning himself. ”Where I come from there ain’t hardly a better mechanic’n me, an’ there ain’t hardly anywhere with a good workshop. I once repaired a military food processor with a few bobby pins’n duct tape. So yer concerned about making the most out of what we’ve got for Poppi’s next upgrade and yer needin’ the expert opinion is what yer sayin’?”

“Uh, basically,” Tora confirmed. Following the 6’s speech wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, and he didn’t want to start agreeing to things he didn’t understand if money was involved. “If Tora can get hands on precision instruments and few high-class parts, can do job no problem. Parts maybe lying around somewhere, and can find spot eventually, but tools the problem.”

”Well that sounds mighty fine. I don’t mind helpin’ out with the classic art of robotics. For the right price, of course. What’s the job pay, hombre?” Shrewd as ever, it seemed the Courier wasn’t going to budge on it. Of course if Tora and Poppi had nothing, or spun a sufficient sob story then he’d (begrudgingly) wave the fee, but he couldn’t let others know he actually had a heart.

Tora gave a nervous laugh. “Well...have some money from mining job in adventure town…” Though reluctant, he thought about the current situation, and it took only a single step to arrive at a conclusion. “And it true nothing more important than this…” Feeling like he was betraying his heritage as a Nopon, but seeing no other option, he heaved a sigh and faced the money-grubbing courier with determination. “Tora give Courier whole savings if help make dream reality!”

”Whole savings?” The Courier was taken aback by this, and it showed. He was really willing to give up everything for this? That was, it, what, really? He couldn’t really take advantage of that kind of desperation, could he? This was one of those life defining moments, the kind that took a huge impact on your karma. But if this was really that important to this little nopon, then how could he deny it? On the other hand, Tora didn’t even attempt to bargain or haggle and instantly went all in on this. Did Tora actually have something up his sleeve, a hidden cache, while this was an enticing lie just to get the Courier to accept more readily? No, that couldn’t be it. Tora hadn’t displayed an ability to manipulate or lie whatsoever, more the inverse.

“You’re not actually going to take everything this little guy’s got from him, are you boss? How would that make you any better than a raider?” GT brought up a good point, but that wasn’t the end of it.

”What’s your whole savings entail?” he asked, genuinely interested. However Tora answered would likely determine the course of this arrangement.

With visible discomfort the engineer reached into one of his pouches and brought forth his wallet. When it clicked open, everyone present could see the bounty of zenny stashed within. “Tora not know exact amount,” he admitted. “Team got paid per shiny dug up from ground, then total split between us. Must be few thousand minimum, meh.” He left out that he possessed no idea of the currency’s relative worth.

Courier 6 eyed the wallet and listened to Tora’s story of acquiring it. He didn’t know the exact worth of the Zenny himself, but he did know the value of the sort of job Tora had to pull off to get it, and split between the different members of their group that had participated… This was a pittance. No other way around it. He couldn’t take such a meager amount away from Tora. That just wouldn’t be right. But he couldn’t let Tora know that’s why he had to turn the offer down, that’d he had for business! There was something else he could still get from this arrangement though…

”Gonna have ta turn ya down on that one, hombre. Such a meager offerin’ simply ain’t worth my time, much less my expertise.” He let that hang in the air a moment, just to give the illusion he was being harder than he actually was. ”But you got somethin’ else to pay me with. If’n we’re gonna do this then I want to copy Poppi’s schematics and diagnostics.”

He tapped his Pip-Boy arm mounted computer. ”I’ll be needin’ ya understand how she works to help anyhow, right? An’ I’m sure I can give GT some deathclaw sized upgrades with what I can learn from Poppi.”

The offer sent a chill down Poppi’s spine. Aghast she looked at her masterpon, hoping he understood what 6 was saying. For a moment Tora considered it, but the furrow of his brow suggested he wasn’t agreeable long before he piped up, his voice resolute. “Meh, meh, meh! No way! Poppi not just hardware to be copied and traded around! Poppi own person, and that that!” He put his nub-arms on his hips and glared at 6 accusingly. “Why Courier want to take Poppi? Why even demand pay, meh? Help when in need without reward is what friends do! What heroes do! Tora would do same!”

The Courier stood there as Tora tore into him, taking it with a blank face. ”You done, amigo? M’kay.” He hacked up a loogie then spat it out on the floor before continuing. ”First off, we ain’t friends. We ain’t had a single conversation together before now, so don’t expect no special treatment. You wanna be my friend, that requires effort, not just askin’ fer favors when it fancies ya. Second, I do help without compensation when there’s a need. You got a raider with a gun to yer head? You damn well bet I’m gonna step in and take’em out. I don’t wanna see nobody die that don’t have ta. You starvin’ with no money, no prospects? I’ll feed ya. This here? Ain’t no ‘need.’ It’s a ‘want.’ Where I come from, people die every day because they don’t have what they need to survive. Ya never know when yer eatin’ next, or how many monsters are over the next hill, or if’n yer partner’s gonna turn on ya fer a quick buck. I don’ know where you come from but I can tell you sure as shit don’ struggle like my people.

“Third, you’ll never find a bigger advocate for the rights o’ sentient robots than me, but that don’ mean her mechanical designs make her, her. Look at my hair, you think that someone else gettin’ black hair means part o’ me is in them? That’s brahmin shit. You want her to stay completely unique, keep her design a secret? Fine by me, but don’t fool yerself inta thinkin’ it’s fer some self-righteous altruistic cause, and don’t insult me. Fuck off, ya varmint. I ain’t the desperate one here.”
He spat one more time, then turned round and began walking away before giving pause for just one moment. ”You know, I’m a Courier by trade. I deliver messages, packages, and letters. Consider that advice a freebie.”

As he walked away, GT rolled up to Tora and Poppi, her tv screen showing the static image of Gaige making a very awkward face. “Sooo yeeeeah… Sorry about that, guys. Maybe try again soon? Anyway have a nice daaaaaaay~!” she called rolling off toward her maker.

The two left Tora dumbfounded, his mouth wide open and his head covered in beads of sweat. It took a while before he worked up the strength to swallow. “W-well, t-that just bit extreme.” He glanced at his artificial blade partner. “R-right, Pop...Poppi?”

She nodded slowly, watching the transformed gunslinger heading elsewhere before she put him out of her sight. “It seem Courier strongly averse to favors. Poppi measure of stinginess based on masterpon undergoing recalibration.”

The reassurement left Tora feeling a little more courageous. He fixed the double spit splotches on the floor with a look of disgust. “Meeh...Tora understand people have it harder than him, but that no reason to treat like trash. How I ever think him friend, Tora never know.”

Poppi laid a hand on his head. “Thank you for not thinking of selling Poppi integrity to meany Courier, masterpon.”

A smile brightened the Nopon’s face. “No problem, mehmeh! Tora never betray friends. If he make tools from scrap, so can Tora! Just take little longer.”

The artificial blade looked around at the dispersing remnants of the crowd. “That good. Still, we learn valuable lesson from that conversation.” She glanced back at Tora’s curious face. “Even if we work with people and share same goal, that not mean friendship, or even we know each other. We should spend time with everyone and get to know them, so we don’t get rude awakening like with Courier. Poppi doubt he help us ever again.”

Tora concurred solemnly. “Mm-hmm! That druggypon not friend and not hero, even if Tora fight alongside and nearly become deadypon to protect him. Being hero more than deeds; it about character! So we definitely need find out character of others, meh.” He dug in his pockets for his wrench. “But for now, we ask around and find store-room. When Tora done, Poppi become so powerful that nobody can look down on us!” So saying, the Nopon engineer led the way out of the atrium and toward new horizons, not much older but a little wiser.

Courier 6 and Jak & Daxter and Cuphead!

Level8 - (26/80) EXP (+1), Level 6 - (15/60) (+1), Level 4 - (29/40) (+1)
Location: Smash City -> Lumbridge
Word Count: 688

The Courier was about to take off when Peach essentially told him to hold up, and he couldn’t deny that it irked him a bit to be told what to do, but her reasoning was sound so he didn’t express any of his irritation. Setting up a portal in this Smash City place and getting a travel hub absolutely sounded like a great and practical idea. Besides, that meant that the others could get to Lumbridge before him if he took off flying now, and the guildmarm might give away the prize without him and that absolutely would never do.

The new arrivals of Sakura, the dragon lady, and the return of Euden were welcomed by Cuphead and Jak (one much more enthusiastically than the other) but soon it was time to get a move on and they all traveled through a series of teleporter pads and ultimately ended up walking toward a huge citadel that was the host of this “Smash Tournament” event, whatever the heck that was. Once inside it was clear the place was full of some absolute legends, and it was quite the hustle and bustle of a place! Some small, adorable anthropomorphic dog was working the front desk and Daxter couldn’t help but jump up on the desk and pat Isabelle on the head.

”Lookit Jak, isn’t just the cutest thing?” he chuckled. Jak shared in his friend’s laughter, but only a little bit.

Another individual approached them, a regal woman of golden hair and white and pink gown. She introduced herself in a melodic voice as “Zelda.” The Courier began to lose interest and followed Bowser Junior, making his graffiti and somehow this paint translated into a portal. He shrugged and figured, “What the hell?” and jumped in after the heir to the Koopa throne. Jak merely nodded to the woman of clearly royal pedigree, while Cuphead bowed and tipped his head by removing it like a hat.

”Greetings milady! You may address me with the title of my personage, Sir Cuppicus Cranial Headdicus. Or you can just call me Cuphead for short!” He snapped back into normal position, placing his head back upon his shoulders with a smile.

Back at the Mushroom Kingdom, Peach’s castle, the Courier arrived just a couple seconds behind BJ and the koopa was already at work setting up more graffiti portals. Soon as the one to Lumbridge was made, the Courier jumped in ahead of BJ, eager to not only get their spoils from the guild hall, but also to reunite with someone. In a flash later, his body disassembled and reassembled elsewhere, the now draconic Courier looked all around the medieval town but did not see the individual he was looking for. His new form was sporting him many looks and stares from the crowd, but he couldn’t give less of a shit. With his new wings he took to the air and gazed down from above, but still he couldn’t find who he wanted. Did those cats take her back someplace else? That would have been strange. Well he’d have to look for her at another time, with greater effort. Instead he changed course to the guild hall.

Once he arrived at the guild hall, alongside Bowser Junior, the Courier spotted exactly who he wanted to see, leaning against the counter. ”GT! Howdy!” he called out, arms open wide.

The robot readjusted itself and looked at him, the face on her tv screen changing to a new static image of Gaige in confusion. “Boss?” The image changed back to Gaige with an excited grin. “Hell yeah boss! You got the dragon spirit?! I knew you would!”

Courier and robot rushed in for a very strange and awkward embrace, but it was heartwarming in its own way. Once they were finished he looked over the counter to the guild marm. ”As you can plainly see amiga, we done took care of that big beast an’ now it’s part of me. We’ll be moseyin’ off with that reward now, please and thank you.”
Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury and King of Fighters series.
Kindred spirit Mag Launcher from Evolution: the World of Sacred Device.
Courier 6 and Jak & Daxter and Cuphead!

Level8 - (25/80) EXP (+2), Level 6 - (14/60) (+2), Level 4 - (28/40) (+2)
Location: Eryth Sea
Word Count:975

The transformation had been intoxicating, and Courier 6 was one to know what intoxication felt like! His body grew and rippled with black scales! His hands grew sharp claws! Powerful wings sprouted from his back and he took to the air like a fish to water, draconic instinct guiding him. His hat came dangerously close to flying off, but he held it down. ”YEEEEE-HAAAAAAW!” he cried out, pulling some spinning tricks and loops in the air. Just for fun he tested out what he could do based on what he saw from the dragon in their battle. Opening his mouth he regurgitated caustic acid and rained it down over the water, but a safe distance from everyone else. That would prove to be a most powerful ability indeed, especially combined with his VATS and GRX implant.

Cuphead watched the majestic dragon man fly around while he desperately clung to his chicken, terrified of letting go. He glided down to the next floating island where everyone was taking refuge, and couldn’t help but comment, starting with a whistle. ”Hot diggity dog, that Courier fella really is looking impressive! How’d he become a dragon?” the little ceramic headed boy asked to nobody in particular.

Jak, flying slowly in his light form, shook his head at the antics of the Courier, unable to voice his thoughts due to the inherent muteness of the form. Daxter though, he had no restrictions of the physical or the social. ”Hey pal, why don’t ya stop it with the show boatin’ eh? Nobody likes a braggart!” he called out without any sense of irony or self awareness.

They all landed on the platform and began gathering, Jak dispelling his light form and collapsing in a seated position near Blazermate. His injuries were still extremely grievous, and she noticed that many of the group still had to be treated. Cuphead had no damage to speak of, having been lucky enough to have kept himself away from the nasty stuff, or otherwise able to dodge it all. The Courier was winded and bruised, but certainly not suffering, and besides that was still relishing in his newfound abilities.

As the Courier landed and walked toward the others, he noticed something. The grass, the dirt, it withered away and turned to dust around him. He frowned. Well, that was a problem. He reached for his revolver, his large clawed hands no longer suited for firing it, but the gun didn’t suffer the same effects. The same went for everything else on his person. So what caused some things he wither away and disintegrate in his presence? He’d need to experiment a bit more, but this could be a massive issue. Aaaand then the Hat Kid decided to start using him as her new playground jungle gym.

”Gah! Hey, come on Kid, git down.” He was about to reach out to her and pull her down himself when she exclaimed how cool his new transformation was and he gave pause. A big smile crept across his face. ”Alright, fine. Have yer fun, Kid.” Of course she decided to get down on her own at that point, but he wasn’t bothered anymore.

Bowser started a camp fire, with which the Koopa Troop began to roast some marshmallows and hot dogs, a fine campfire meal if ever there was one. He preferred gecko sliders and bloatfly kabobs, but whatever was on hand, right? Cuphead was quick and eager to join in himself, grabbing a stick of his own and putting a comically ridiculous amount of weenies and marshmallows on it, alternating them in a big row. By the time he was done packing it all on he had 12 hot dogs and 12 marshmallows squashed together, roasting on open flame.

It wasn’t long before they got more company. Jak, having been healed up, was quick to pull out his morph gun, and by practiced reflex the Courier grabbed his now useless revolver, while Cuphead ignored what was happening in favor of somehow fitting the entire length of his skewer into his mouth and swallowing it all, like a professional sword swallower. Of course the new arrivals were not hostile, and even friends to Fox and others apparently, so the two gunmen put their weapons away and listened to what was going on.

Apparently there was something called a “Smash” event and they were being held nearby? None of the three had ever heard of such a thing, though it did interest them all. A tournament meant prizes. Between the fighting and the rewards, it piqued the interest of all three. Jak was always down for a good rumble, and of course Daxter would love the spoils. Cuphead enjoyed the thrill of it, and it they had a betting office he’d put everything on himself! And of course the Courier was a greedy man, always on the lookout for an opportunity to make a quick cap. And speaking of which…

”Sounds like we got ourselves a tonna opportunity, amigos. This here Smash thing, that Deadzone area we gotta git back to, and of course we gots ourselves a reward for takin’ down that dragon. Obviously I gotta mosey on back seein’ as I’m the livin’ proof we took ‘er down. Anyone else willin’ t’come with me?” The Courier left the invitation open, then called over Drumstick. The chocobo, having been properly healed by Blazermate, wasn’t the least bit turned off by his sudden and extreme transformation. ”Our time was short girl, but you were great. You weren’t a battle steed an’ got hurt, and now that I’ve got wings it ain’t right to keep ya around. I’ll be takin’ ya home now an’ lettin’ ya run free.”
Courier 6 and Jak & Daxter and Cuphead!

Level8 - (23/80) EXP (+20+2), Level 6 - (12/60) (+20+2), Level 4 - (26/40) (+20+2)
Location: The End
Word Count:776
Light Jak Healing - In Light Jak form, Jak can expend light eco to heal wounds instantaneously (from his perspective time freezes while his wounds mend up at an accelerated rate though he is incapable of moving from his position or taking other action, while to others it looks as though he simply recovered in a blink of the eye). The worse the injury, the more eco required to heal it, though he can stop the process early for a partial heal.

Hit after hit, blow after blow the dragon took a pounding from everyone. Cuphead’s energy beam, Daxter utilizing the morph gun in Jak’s stead, Linkle’s ice, and many more culminating in a giant slam from a mega sized Bowser, the ender dragon couldn’t keep up with the level of injuries being doled out to it after its healing crystals were destroyed. The dragon was in the midst of perishing before their very eyes, but something wasn’t quite right.

The Courier, still under the effects of his perception enhancing chewing tobacco, squinted at the dragon’s behavior. The cracks that began to form reminded him of something… Bad. Then it hit him. The dragon turned itself into a bomb! The Cadet realized this at nearly the same time and shouted a warning, but there wasn’t anything they could do at this point.

”Gah! Oh no! Jak! Get up, pal! Use your shield! Can you make your eco shield yet? I DON’T WANNA DIE!” Daxter took cover behind Jak’s prone body and tried to right him up, but the dead weight was too much for his little ottsel body to handle. Then, suddenly, Jak just sat right back up. He was still heavily injured, it hurt to so much as move still, but the life threatening burns and the deepest cuts were more shallow.

”Great, you got your healing back, BUT THAT AIN’T GONNA HELP US IF WE DIE!!!”

Cuphead frantically looked around for someplace to run and hide, but it was too late. Even for someone as fast as him, there wasn’t any cover he could get to in time. The explosion went off… And then passed over everyone without causing any harm. The Courier let it pass by, ruffling the hair beneath his hat, while Cuphead grunted like he was just slapped. Only Jak, still feeling every movement of his body, reacted in a major way, letting out a yelp of pain like he had just broken a bone. The small concussive force still hurt when every bit of his flesh was tender.

Tora and Poppi had done something to suppress the explosion, and a healing wave washed over them all just like back at Peach’s Castle. The Courier walked up to the nopon and ruffled his little ear-hand things. ”Mighty proud a’ya, little guy. Ya done good with our posse.”

The red in Cuphead’s eyes faded, becoming black. He stumbled back a moment, holding his head. ”Uh… What happened? Don’t tell me I went to the wrong side of the tracks again and spent too much time in the Devil’s Casino…” He looked around to see the friends he had made recently, whom he had indeed met back in the Devil’s Casino, but the last thing he remembered was fighting some snipers in a spiral shaped mountain? More immediately concerning was the place they were in, as the black nether-like sky gave way to a gorgeous horizon of color of wondrous imagery… And they began to plummet.

Without the other worldly effects of The End, the big rocks they were on decided to obey normal physics, and that included gravity. The Courier had never been in such a situation before and he had nothing that could possibly help, but he knew what he could get. He ran toward the spirit of the dragon, but before he got to it Bowser tossed it over to him along with a little jab about learning to fly. ”You ain’t whistlin’ Dixie, boss.” He had to admit, he didn’t expect Bowser to so readily part with the spirit, but the Koopa King seemed to be a turtle dragon of his word. Without the slightest hesitation the Courier pressed the spirit into his chest. Wings, wings, wings, wings.

Jak grabbed Daxter before the latter could run off screaming. ”I only used enough eco to get me back on my feet. There’s plenty left to fly.” And with that Jak was enveloped in a silhouette of light, ethereal wings sprouting from his back. Daxter breathed out a sigh of relief as they two took to the air. Jak steered himself toward Blazermate, hoping she’d get the hint that he still needed quite a bit of healing.

Cuphead had no flight capabilities, not without a plane anyway. Thankfully there were others that could help out, namely Kamek and his toadies, and Linkle with her cuccoos. Given the choice between them, Cuphead dashed to Linkle and grabbed one of the chicken creatures and held it overhead. ”Fly, chicken! Fly!”
Courier 6 and Jak & Daxter and Cuphead!

Level8 - (1/80) EXP (+4), Level 5 - (40/50) (+4), Level 4 - (4/40) (+4)
Location: The End
Word Count:873

That was that, then. The anti-material rifle was entirely out of ammunition until the Courier could find or craft some more, and the Ender Dragon (that damn pop-tart pooping rainbows) was still alive. While it was forced into the dirt and enveloped by that strange dark energy Jak sometimes made use of and then kamikazed by Donnie’s flying machine, the damn thing still kept going despite incredibly grievous injuries. The Courier didn’t think he’d be of any more help from here on. His pistol and the Ratslayer rifle were too small caliber to deal meaningful damage to that beast, while his shotgun would require getting up close and personal. Even though his natural abilities put him at the absolute pinnacle of human durability, even though he had multiple cybernetic enhancements pushing him past that line… No thanks. He was a gambling man, but that wasn’t a gamble he was willing to take.

”JAK!” Daxter cried out, staring right into the explosion caused by Donnie’s machine. ”I’m comin’ for ya, buddy! Please don’t be dead! I don’t wanna have to kick that monk’s ass for ya!”

Daxter hugged the side of the obsidian spire and slid downward. A few moments later and he touched the ground and took off in a frantic run until he came up to Jak, lying on the ground smoldering with burns all over his body. A cough indicated that Jak was still very much alive, but he wasn’t going to be participating in this fight anymore.

”Dax. Hey… Pal.”

”Save your energy, Jak! We’re not out of this yet!” the little ottsel pleaded, grabbing onto Jak’s hand. ”HEY! ROBOT LADY! IF JAK DIES I’M HOLDING YOU JUST AS RESPONSIBLE!”

Using what strength he still had, Jak held out the morph gun to Daxter, still in its root rot form. ”Dax. It’s time… To be a hero.”

Daxter’s jaw literally hit the ground in shock. ”ME?! You want ME to go running off after that friggin’ MONSTER and shoot it?!” He scratched his chin for a moment, contemplating. ”I mean, on one hand we’re Jak AND Daxter. On the other hand, my name hasn’t been on any of our game titles since the first one.”

Jak gave a pained look of confusion as Daxter nodded his head. ”Alright, you got it, buddy!” Daxter grabbed the morph gun, easily several times his size yet still somehow being capable of moving around and aiming with it like any normal sized person. He took off on all fours, the gun strapped to his back, until he closed some distance between himself and the dragon.

Meanwhile, Cuphead was busy rushing back into the thick of things entirely on his own with no plans and no backup amidst the chaos all around. He had initially started heading for Tora, knowing full well what the little guy meant as she ran around screaming “1 HP!” His help wasn’t necessary though, as Blazermate got there first and healed him before Tora’s unfortunate demise, which was for the best. Cuphead could bring the dead back to life, but only within a short window that got shorter every time it happened. Best to avoid such a situation altogether.

Instead he changed course for the dragon, firing his peashooter non-stop the whole way, peppering the drake with small energy bullets that did scratch damage. The damage could add up if given enough time, but the more important detail was how they added to Cuphead’s energy reserves. With a dash to avoid an acid glob and a leap into the air, Cuppy parried off another pink globule that went flying in his direction, adding another big burst of energy to his reserve. He felt it. He felt strong. That attack was ready.

”Gosh everyone, time to show off what I can do!” He flexed his arms, which sent a large bulge up along them like a bicep muscle, only to immediately deflate. He then began spinning in place, so fast that it held him aloft in the air! ”Tell me this ain’t the cat’s pajamas! Energy Beam!” A large beam of liquid blasted forth from Cuphead’s, well, cup head, straight into the dragon just after Hat Kid bounced off from her own attack! The beam held itself for a solid couple seconds, then Cuphead lost his momentum, the beam ended, and he landed back on the ground wiping his hands together.

As this was happening, a couple shots of root rot escaped the muzzle of the morph gun. They struck the dragon in the body, far away from the head where it would have any measurable effect, but that was enough. The gun began to beep, catching Daxter’s attention. He looked and saw that some sort of gauge had been filled up on it, a charge meter of sorts. ”Looks like it’s Daxter who gets to try this out for the first time!” he grinned, pulling the trigger. The fully charged blast of the rot gun launched forward toward the dragon...
Courier 6 and Jak & Daxter and Cuphead!

Level7 - (67/70) EXP (+6), Level 5 - (36/50) (+6), Level 4 - (0/40) (+6)
Location: The End
Word Count:1584

The situation was becoming quite dire. While they could wail on the dragon with impunity now that the healing crystals had all been taken out, the fact remained that it was still a freaking dragon and unleashed a barrage of acid breath as well as had the physical strength to create localized typhoons. The rest of them, or most of them at least, just felt so small and insignificant compared to something like that!

Cuphead recognized the situation he was in and took the Ace cadet’s offered hand, bailing on the ride before things got too dicey. Still, it wasn’t entirely enough to keep the little guy from flying away once the Ender dragon unleashed her might and he had to be saved yet again, this time by the giant bee Sectonia. ”Gosh, what a swell rescue! Ya know, I’ve got a friend back in Inkwell Isle you might get along with! Her name is Rumor Honeybottoms!.” With that in mind he adjusted his straw, mimed pulling up his sleeve, and charged in with a determined grimace all the while firing off his peashooter at the dragon.

The Courier was not so lucky. Having dealt such large wounds to the dragon, it seemed to have it out for him and he couldn’t blame the thing. Her swooping created a tailwind that sent him and his chocobo flying and there was nothing he could do about it. They wildly tumbled through the air out of control, about to crash into the hard ground! Reacting as quick as he could, he let loose one of the two pokeballs attached to his belt, and in a flash of light Ivories appeared on the ground, between puddles of acid.

“Don! Phan!” it cried, ready for battle.

”Soft landing!” the Courier hollered, as Drumstick thrashed wildly beneath him.

“Donphan!” Ivories acknowledged the order and immediately stomped the ground, using Bulldoze to turn out the earth. Packed dirt loosened, rocks cracked into sand, and much of the acid got absorbed up. The Courier and Drumstick landed in the dirt for a softer, but still painful landing with a loud crack!

“CAAAAAW!” the chocobo cried, wailing in pain.

The Courier jumped up, wincing a bit as he felt he had dislocated his knee. A quick adjustment, and small yelp, and it was back in place, but his trusted mount wouldn’t be so lucky. ”Good job, Ivories. Return.” As the donphan warped back into her pokeball, the Courier looked over Drumstick. Her leg was broken. She wouldn’t be of any more use in this fight. With a sigh he jabbed a stimpack into her and helped her back up. The chem would speed up the healing process and mend the wound, but her bone still needed to be set and that wasn’t an option right now.

”Git on outta here, hide behind one o’ them pillars far off. Git!” With a low coo, the chocobo acknowledged her master’s orders. Even if the animals couldn’t understand his words, somehow the meaning always made it through. She began a slow trot, more of a limping hop, off the distance.

The Courier adjusted his rawhide hat and glared at the dragon. ”Now you done pissed me off.”

Elsewhere, Jak and Daxter were riding the jet board without any worries of the acid being dropped down on them. As long as they didn’t let it fall right on their heads, their jet board would simply hover above the danger even if the entire place completely flooded! But that overconfidence cost them as they forgot about the natives of this land: the Endermen. While doing a flip, Daxter accidentally locked eyes with one of the tall creatures blending into the black environment and it attacked. The impact knocked both heroes off the jet board as a wave of acid came washing over toward them!


Jak grunted in response and made expert use of his acrobatics. He turned the impact roll on the ground into one of his iconic roll jumps, Daxter barely hanging on by the shoulders. He managed to grab the jet board, but there was no time to hop back on it to surf over the acid wave. Instead he once again became Light Jak and took to the air, but even that wasn’t enough to completely avoid the danger as the acid completely submerged his left foot.

Though mute in his Light form, Jak’s face communicated the pain quite well. He kept rising in order to find a better staging point for their counter attack, but ended up picking up another passenger along the way.

Cuphead saw the wave of acid coming and had little options. Another globule of the stuff was falling, but this one was different: it was pink! ”Hot dog!” he said, jumping up into the air, he flipped, parrying off the pink acid and nullifying it in the same process as giving himself a boost. With a mid-air dash, he landed right on Jak’s back.

”What’s the big idea, kitchen-ware? This is my spot!” Daxter grumbled.

Just then an enderman, the same that Daxter had already unwittingly antagonized, appeared from literal thin air, swiping at the ottsel. It got a blast of Cuphead’s peashooter EX for its trouble and blinked away, heavily injured.

Daxter blinked silently while Cuphead smugly smiled at him, and no more words were exchanged. Jak dropped them all off at the top of one of the obsidian spires as the dragon was making another assault.

”I’ve got an idea! It’s, well, a pretty gross idea, but it might end up swell!” Cuphead exclaimed. He backed up, then took a running start and leaped from the edge of the spire toward the ender dragon! He grabbed the handle of his own head and took it off, like one would lift any ordinary cup, and swung hard. A bright yellow liquid splashed out from the inside of his head toward the boss monster, a technique that Sectonia had become intimately familiar with. ”Cupate!” he cried out, sticking his head back in place where it belonged and changing direction with a mid-air dash to return to the spire.

Daxter gagged himself to prevent from throwing up on the spot.

Down on the lower levels, the Courier was checking his ammunition for the anti-material rifle. Only three bullets left. He would have to make them count. Blazermate had called out that the monster’s weak point was the head and he had to chuckle at such an obvious statement. Of course, most things were weak in the head. Still, he’d seen crazy things, so it was nice to have it confirmed. He took aim with the rifle but noted that the thing was moving around too much to get a good shot at its cranium, such a small target compared to the rest of its body. Plus at that distance… He didn’t have the stamina left to make use of VATS, not without another hit of jet, but there was another option. He still had 2 doses of turbo left in his GRX implant.

Dose one activated. Five seconds of super speed. The world slowed to a crawl from his point of view, while to others it looked like a colored wind was darting across the battlefield. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Time up. He crossed a great distance, the dragon was so much closer, but it still kept whipping around high in the air.

Dose two activated. Now it may as well have been a snail swimming slowly across the sky. He lined up the scope and trained it on the beast’s head. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! That was it. All the shots for the anti-material rifle were spent, shell casings fell to the ground as time sped back up.

Jak’s light dispersed as loud booms echoed across the End like a machinegun, that rifle being fired off incredibly fast. Not to be outdone, he glared at the dragon. ”Everyone! Get away!” His body changed again, rippling with muscle and turning dark purples and blacks. Dark eco surged across his body. Daxter took note of what this meant.

”He’s not kidding everyone, get away from that dragon if you don’t wanna die!” Daxter himself hopped off of Jak, taking shelter behind Cuphead of all people.

Jak charged forward toward the dragon and, with a mighty leap, crossed the distance until he was right above it, then dove straight down with his clawed fist outstretched. He channeled every last bit of dark eco in his body into the Dark Bomb. As soon as he made contact with something, whether it be the dragon’s body or the ground below if she somehow dodged, a huge wave of dark eco would explode outward, likely killing anything caught in its path.
Courier 6 and Jak & Daxter and Cuphead!

Level7 - (61/70) EXP (+6), Level 5 - (30/50) (+6), Level 3 - (24/30) (+6)
Location: The End
Word Count:1002

The Courier cursed. The anti-material rifle he had borrowed (and had no intention of ever giving back) from Michael penetrated some of that tower, but not all of it. Some blocks were annihilated, but where it failed to pierce wasn’t even cracked as his empowered perception could see the black stone actually repairing itself. So it operated in sets of blocks, and it was all or nothing eh? Damn, that meant that until those crystals got taken out he was more or less useless in this fight. He had been pushing his luck with the heracross-toss maneuver, his donphan didn’t have any way to get him up high, and none of his strikers could do the job either. No way he could get up there without one of their flyers carrying him, and they were better spent rescuing anyone that fell off the edge.

Speaking of which, the ender dragon came swooping down with incredible gale-like force, knocking tons of the group aside, many of which were in danger of falling off. The Courier and his chocobo couldn’t get out of the way in time and were sent flying! Drumstick thrashed and flailed at the helplessness, and he couldn’t get control of her in time as they went toward the edge. The duo came within mere inches of tumbling over the side, but the Courier traveled with a posse for a reason.

“I’ve got you, boss!” cried Gaige-Tron. The robot helpfully grabbed onto the bird with an extension of her tube arm, while the other arm transformed into the pickaxe mode and securely buried itself into the ground. The Courier nearly lost his weapon, but caught it by the strap with his boot. For a few brief seconds the three flailed in the air like a chain. A moment later and the squall had past, with GT releasing her boss and his mount.

”There there, girl. It’s all gonna be alright,” he cooed, calming the bird. ”Gracias, amiga.”

Nearby, the blast of air caught up Jak and Daxter as well, knocking them around for the third time already in such a small time frame. The duo went flying off the ledge, with Daxter screaming in absolute terror, only to have his worries proven unfounded in an instant when Jak’s light wings sprouted and they returned to the ledge none the worse for wear. ”Don’t scare me like that! Next time get your glow on and save us before I piss my pants!” Daxter gestured to his pants which, yes, had a dark spot right over the appropriate area. Had Jak’s eyes not been glowing tunnels of pure light at the time, they’d have been rolling.

Perhaps ironically, of the three it was Cuphead who fared the best against the ender dragon’s concussive gust of wind, despite being the lightest. He charged in straight ahead to meet the dragon nose to nose and then, at the last possible moment, initiated a dash through the air, becoming intangible and zooming right past the air cushion of force. His maneuver left him directly above the charging dragon, and he parried his body right off the tip of her horns! Once up, he gathered his energy to unleash his peashooter’s EX attack, hurling a big ball of energy straight down at the beast like a hadoken!

The Courier took note of how many towers still had crystals left. Three, no, two, Sectonia was attacking another one. He’d leave her to it. Furrowing his brow at the crystal he’d failed to shoot, he instead willed one of his strikers into existence: the ghostly flo. ”There’s a glowin’ rock up top there waitin’ ta hear yer beautiful song, hombre. Git to it.” Wordlessly, the spectral subspace monster flew directly into the spire with its intangible body and ascended upward. Once it neared the top, the flo unleashed its sonic scream on the crystal. Like a million needle jabs all around, the crystal cracked and exploded, wiping out the flo with it.

The Courier spat. ”Fuck that tower.” He setup the anti-material rifle, empowered by stickers, and took aim at the ender dragon, waiting for the perfect moment.

A ways off, Jak was flying up through the air, still armed with the red eco powered rot gun. The dragon was far faster and more agile than he was in the air, but it was thankfully otherwise preoccupied by Bowser, who had grown larger than they’d ever seen the koopa king grow before. This was an opportunity that he couldn’t waste. With only two or three of those magic crystals unaccounted for, it was time to take them out so the dragon lost its support. While Jak flew, Daxter took hold of the gun and lobbed an explosive salvo of root rot at what should be the last crystal. With another shot accounted for, and all the shots plugged into the dragon, the charge on the gun was very nearly at its highest point.

Back at the dragon, Cuphead latched onto it by grabbing with his hands and holding on tight, landing near the Ace Cadet. ”Howdy!” he called out. ”How’s the taxi service? I didn’t realize I’d be riding with a buddy!” Holding on tight as he could with his left hand, Cuphead left go with his right and held his index finger against the powerful beast, firing off his weak but rapid peashooter directly into it… For as long as he’d be able to hold on, that is.

Back on the ground, the Courier had his rifle ready to go. He had enough stamina for 3 VATS shots and the creature was huge: the chances of missing it would be laughably low as long as there was no outside interference. Assuming all the crystals were destroyed, he’d take that as the signal to activate his ability and queue up 3 shots directly into the beast.
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