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Soul of a Smasher Vol. II: Nocturne of Samus
#1
Soul of a Smasher Vol. II: Nocturne of Samus
By ClaudeLv250
 
 
Introduction: I’ve been mulling over this saga for a while before fleshing it out. I always wanted to try writing a SSB story from a different angle and continuity than my main SSB series, Kirby’s Insane Journey. From the corners of my imagination came Soul of a Smasher, a slightly darker, more serious story.
 
Summary: This is the second story of the series, following Minuet of Link. While Link’s story isn’t over, it’s time to introduce another major character. Samus Crowe is a cop in Centropolis with the feeling that she was destined for greater things, but she had no idea how true that was when the Smash Brotherhood shows up amidst stirred up memories of her past life as galactic bounty hunter Samus Aran. It is time to reawaken the Chozo’s chosen one.
 
If you are new to the saga, I suggest reading Volume I: Minuet of Link. Things will make A LOT more sense that way.
 
Disclaimer: Samus, Super Smash Bros. and all related characters and properties belong to Nintendo and are used without permission. Sonic the Hedgehog is property of Sega. Don’t sue me, I just like to write! All original characters and material are my creations. If I borrow something from other authors, I’ll note it in the chapter.
 
 
Prologue – Dark Spaces
 
It began with a distress signal.
 
It always begins with a distress signal.
 
The distinct orange hull of Samus Aran’s gunship gleamed under the distant star as it approached the drifting wreckage of a frigate. Three prongs of different length formed one end of the vessel, while the other end was flat and cylindrical, giving it a unique design completely unfamiliar to the bounty huntress.
 
Samus guided her ship to a graceful landing upon the external deck. She rode the elevator mechanism as it extruded from the gunship’s bottom, with one thought thoroughly implanted in the back of her mind as she approached the frigate’s entrance: derelict ships often carried dark secrets within their ruined confines. She was quite familiar with that.
 
The blue light emitting from the door’s inner frame died out as if welcoming her as she approached, and the five metal panels composing it slid into the walls. The hunter cautiously stepped into the nondescript room as the door closed behind her. The airlock was working; that was a good sign of survivors.
 
A poorly lit, split hallway greeted Samus on the other side of the airlock’s door. She hazarded a guess and took the left path. The cacophonic moan of shifting metal permeated throughout the vessel’s haunting atmosphere; there was no telling what was left intact after the cataclysm that befell the ship and its crew.
 
Missile fire destroyed the debris blocking the doorway and Samus entered what resembled a bridge deck, devoid of life and scarcely lit by the emergency lights scattered about. Four rows of computers lined the command center. A quick glance about told her that she would be wasting her time if she was looking for the living here.
 
With her curiosity piqued, Samus decided to check the computers for clues. Most had been damaged beyond repair, but a computer at the end of a station flickered with power when prompted. Her visor scanned and interacted with the files that were on the uncorrupted partitions of the hard disk, and skimmed logs detailing the crew’s acquisition and sale of black market weapons. With her scanner, she pried further and opened the last security footage ever taken aboard the ship.
 
Short, white-skinned beings with long skulls scuttled onto the deck before being mowed down by a unit of elite pirates. Samus recognized the aliens as the elusive Krintorians, and she easily put together the events preceding the video: the Krintorians tried to sell weapons to the Space Pirates and, living up to their name, the pirates simply stormed the ship and took the weapons for themselves.
 
“Never make deals with Space Pirates,” she warned them posthumously.
 
Samus continued to watch the footage in silence as the Space Pirates retrieved the bodies of their victims for reasons she cared not to ponder on. Her eyes flickered upon the recording date nestled within the corner of the video. It was obviously set to the Krintorian calendar and with a simple protocol, was translated to Standard Galactic Time. The gaze behind her visor widened in realization.
 
“This wreckage has been here for years...”
 
The screech of metal emanated from the bowels of the ship once more. A red haze filled the room as an intense beam of heat ripped through the metal flooring and sliced through the equipment with minimal effort. Samus dove to the side as the beam tore its way towards her, and found her footing slip away as the floor collapsed beneath her.
 
Samus dropped into a large hallway and hit the floor in a kneeling pose. She held her position, using her heightened senses to detect her enemy. The walls around her took on the glow of flames; looking back, Samus saw a massive fireball engulf the end of the hallway and shoot in her direction.
 
Hurdling fallen debris, the bounty huntress ran with the added speed of her suit’s Speed Booster module. With a leap forward, she plowed through wreckage blocking the hall’s exit and slid into the hub of the ship’s long-deserted living quarters. Samus rolled aside as the fireball erupted through the doorway.
 
A flaming figure was jettisoned from the center of the blast and rolled to a crumpling halt near the center of the room. Samus’s instincts warned her of approaching the burning mound, and were ultimately right. The mound unfurled and stood straight up. Under the low light, Samus could discern the curves of a woman, and an unnatural sheen to her skin. Trailing linens adorned her body in tantalizing places, the fabric flawless even after exposure to flames.
 
She started towards the bounty huntress, placing one bare foot ahead of the other in a slow, deliberate stride. The room was filled with her presence, an otherworldly atmosphere about her...perhaps even demonic.
 
Through all the spacefaring, I’ve never met anything quite like this...
 
“Hello, Miss Aran,” she greeted through the shawl around her face, her voice cold and biting. “Your reputation certainly precedes you. The tales of your exploits are so miraculous that you are considered a cosmic fable amongst the grunts of the galaxy.” The woman stopped in her tracks as Samus’s arm cannon found its aim placed upon her. “Did I say something wrong?”
 
“You’re not saying much of anything for someone that just emerged from a fireball in a derelict ship,” Samus replied.
 
“Where are my manners? I’m Avira, and it is Father’s wishes that I undo you.”
 
“Get in line,” Samus remarked flippantly. “I am the enemy of entire races. Neither you nor your father are a special case.”
 
“Ah, but we are. You must be eliminated not because of what you have done, but what you can potentially do. And who am I to disobey Father’s wishes? It would be an honor to reduce the legendary Samus Aran to ashes.”
 
Any more talking was a commodity Samus could not afford now that she was deeply ensnared within the trap laid by her mysterious adversary. She had escaped from tighter scrapes than this, but if it was a fight Avira wanted, it was one she would get in spades.
 
Avira held up her right arm, revealing a golden bracelet tightly hugging her wrist. The bracelet erupted in flames, expanding into a ring of fire large enough for the woman to grip in her free hand. She tossed it like a burning chakram slicing through the veil of night.
 
Samus leapt aside as the ring of fire whirled toward her at startling speeds. She fired three shots of the power beam into Avira’s stomach, watching each one ricochet in futility before she landed on her feet.
 
The chakram of fire embedded into the wall before exploding, pelting Samus with flaming shrapnel. Avira used the distraction to close the distance and grabbed Samus, hoisting her into the air with one arm and tossing her like a ragdoll into the opposite wall.
 
“I don’t need a suit for my feats of strength,” Avira jeered, refusing even a glance upon the fallen huntress. “Mortals are so easily outclassed, even with their toys.”
 
“I have a remedy for pyromaniacs,” Samus murmured as she picked herself up. The tip of her arm cannon flared up with an icy blue globe of energy; a thin layer of frost slithered its way along the length.
 
A subzero burst from the fully charged Ice Beam engulfed Avira’s legs, cementing her to the floor. Samus quickly followed up with an impressive somersault through the air, her body crackling with the whirling, coarse energy of the Screw Attack module. She came down upon the demon woman, her spinning body drilling Avira into the ground until the flooring gave out and they plummeted into the chamber below.
 
Samus launched a grapple beam, using the tethering wire to grip a catwalk. Avira slammed against the metal of the large but long defunct generator meant to power that quadrant of the vessel. She bounced hard off of the surface but landed on her feet with the grace of a wildcat, and had already summoned several more chakrams.
 
Samus evacuated the catwalk with a quick leap before the barrage of fiery chakrams reduced it to metal shavings. She twisted her body, evading more chakrams before using her aerial momentum to land a dropkick into Avira’s face. Her opponent was reeling, and she chanced the opportunity by firing a missile that launched Avira through the metal plating of the large generator.
 
No more than a few seconds had passed before a crude spear of flames soared out of the hole and punctured the right shoulder of the power suit. The spear exploded, blowing apart one of the spherical shoulder guards that were characteristic of Samus’s appearance. She knelt in pain, feeling the exposed circuitry and inner shell of the armor.
 
The suits internal systems shrieked in alarm and her visor bombarded her with information at a frantic pace; her energy tanks had been depleted by over a third from that damage. If Avira was holding back and that was only a fraction of her power, Samus knew she had to end the fight as soon as possible.
 
Avira climbed out of the hole in the generator. “Bitch,” she snarled through her sharp teeth, the shawl around her face obliterated from the missile. The thin, pointed face of a woman looked upon Samus with scorn through the reptilian slits of her bright amber eyes over high cheek bones. Samus understood the oddity of Avira’s appearance in the low light; her skin was covered in olive colored scales, which also explained her resilience.
 
“I was going to incinerate you and be done with it, but now you deserve whatever torture I settle on. Father never said you had to die quickly.” She opened her hands and unleashed a jet stream of flames upon Samus. Even the protective power of the Varia suit faltered under the intense barrage of heat.
 
Activating the Morph Ball, Samus curled her body into a sphere and rolled between Avira’s legs with a burst of speed, leaving a small bomb behind before unfurling. Avira leapt through the bomb’s blast and extended ebony claws from her hands, raking them through Samus’s chest piece with little effort. The huntress stumbled back, pivoted on one foot and slammed Avira’s face with a wheel kick.
 
Avira held her hands parallel to one another, summoning a spear of fire energy in her grip. She made a quick jab, scraping Samus’s abdomen and piercing the skin below the armor. A burning pain spread outward from the wound; Samus felt as if liquid fire had entered her bloodstream. She fought off the pain and hooked her left arm under Avira’s, grabbing the woman by her neck. Samus lifted her into the air and slammed her into the ground; the spear escaped Avira’s grasp and its volatile energy erupted once it touched the floor. The resulting blast blew the combatants away.
 
“That was a good spear!” Avira’s face was scorched but she did not seem too much worse for wear. “This is taking too long,” she declared with a frustrated sigh. “Unlike some of my siblings, I’m smart enough to always have a backup plan.”
 
She snapped her fingers.
 
“EMERGENCY!” a monotonous voice blared throughout the ship. “SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE ACTIVATED. EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY.”
 
Avira’s lipless mouth curled into a grin. “Are you shocked? You should be used to this turn of events; things have a tendency to self-destruct around you.”
 
“The fact that I’m here now should have been your first hint that this trick never works,” Samus remarked.
 
Avira pulled hard at an invisible wire; a glowing whip of pure heat energy ensnared Samus at her feet before coiling up the rest of her body. The bounty huntress toppled over as she struggled with the constricting binds. Her adversary crouched and watched with a fascinated intensity, though she kept her distance.
 
“I’m shocked that you’re sticking around to the bitter end,” Samus said, fighting the whip. The heat seared against the suit and threatened to eat through it with prolonged exposure.
 
“I’ll stay as long as I need to,” Avira told her with a fixated gaze. “It’s efficiency and curiosity. I want to know if you’ll succumb first to strangulation by the Salamander’s Tongue or vaporization from the ship.”
 
The metal of the suit cracked and popped under pressure, and its systems warned Samus of the constant damage it suffered. It gripped the contours of her armor relentlessly, a fact that gave her an idea. It was risky, and she had maybe a second at most to pull it off, but it was her only chance.
 
Her arm cannon whirred to life, once again encrusted in frost. Avira chuckled; the cannon was in no position to aim where it counted.
 
In a flash of light, Samus deactivated the Power Suit, revealing the lithe body of the blonde woman inside of it. Samus pushed back against the metal floor, sliding out of the bonds and to her freedom. The searing whip grazed her blue Zero Suit as she escaped, but tangled uselessly in her absence.
 
She reactivated the Power Suit, her arm cannon still fully charged. Avira was slammed by the full power of the Ice Spreader, carrying her body through the air and imprisoning her against the wall where a thick sheet of ice grew on impact.
 
Samus gave her opponent a mock-salute before running the perimeter of the circular room to build speed. With the Speed Booster, she shot through the air and back into the residential area. Keeping the momentum, Samus ran back the way she came and leapt through the ruined bridge where Avira first initiated the encounter. The innards of the ship contorted noisily in spite of its impending demise...or perhaps because of it.
 
Escaping the airlock, Samus dashed for her ship. The autopilot kicked in just as she entered, pulling her away to safety before she could even reach the console. She strapped herself in as the Krintorian’s vessel began a series of spectacular explosions in the distance. Whoever decided a self-destruct feature should be mandatory for ships had inadvertently made her life hell more than once.
 
Samus deactivated her suit; thankfully, it was not beyond repair. She rubbed the side where the burning spear cut through her armor and pierced her skin. There was a dull, burning pain shooting through her body from the wound. She dressed it with antibiotics and a transparent, blue medical gel that sealed it shut.
 
Leaning back into her cockpit’s chair, Samus pushed the cavalcade of thoughts to the back corners of her mind. She would not worry about the odd appearance and origins of Avira, or the fact that she narrowly escaped yet another derelict ship that was a deathtrap in disguise. Now was a time of rest, and her closing eyes embraced the warm and comforting darkness of a rest well-deserved.
 
I’ve seen this time and time again, haven’t I? Rest for the weary. The same story.
 
“Samus?”
 
...Who is this?
 
“Samus, wake up.”
 
I recognize the voice...that’s right, I understand now. I’ve been in this dream once before. And many like it. This is not real, no matter how visceral every moment, every feeling is.
 
“Oh, it’s very real. And I’ll open the door to truth, if that is what you seek.”
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#2
Chapter 1 – Routines

 
“Samus?”
 
Cerulean eyes opened and turned to take in the driver of the car. A young man in his mid-twenties, clad in the dark blue and slate gray uniform of the Deelburg Police Department, gave her a warm smile. She knew she recognized that voice!
 
“Sorry, Marcus,” she apologized to her partner.
 
“No sleep?”
 
“Maybe too much...” Samus admitted, her gaze still fixated on him. Marcus Wilson had been assigned her partner for a little over a year and a half now. She remembered when she had first gotten the news that she would be working with a partner; quite frankly, she hated it, but the first day he walked in...a man close to her in age, mahogany eyes, smooth brown skin...a strong jawline and short hair cut into a fade...clean-cut, professional, and nice to look at.
 
She hated the idea a lot less.
 
“We got a call down to the FBD,” Marcus said, stirring Samus from past memories.
 
“Who’s robbing it this time?”
 
Marcus gave a side glance and grinned. “I believe it’s ‘an unusually large armadillo equipped with bionics,’” he recited.
 
“Hotspur again?” Samus sounded exasperated. “What’s the point of breaking out just to repeat the same mistakes that got you there in the first place?”
 
“Old habits die hard,” Marcus murmured with a shrug. He noticed his partner wasn’t too thrilled with that answer. “Look, this is a guy that willingly calls himself Hotspur. I think we’ve already established that he’s not the brightest bulb. Maybe if he sees the two of us again he’ll have second thoughts.”
 
The conversation died as Marcus turned on the siren and continued the drive to the bank, weaving through traffic as the drivers of the other hovercars reacted awkwardly to sudden police presence. Samus let her surroundings and situation sink in. She was out of the dream, no longer that amazing bounty hunter Samus Aran, bounding through the infinite reaches of space. No, she was just Samus Crowe, another cop in a metropolis, and she would have to put those dreams behind her. It was silly to dwell on something unrealistic like that.
 
“Oh, it’s very real. And I’ll open the door to truth, if that is what you seek.”
 
...She didn’t recognize that voice from any of the dreams, and she had experienced them frequently for longer than she would like to admit. Was there some iota of truth in those words?
 
...Did it even matter?
 
Before she knew it, they had arrived at the First Bank of Deelburg. The squad car hovered to an abrupt stop behind the police barricade.
 
Samus went through the routine of checking the equipment strapped to her own blue and gray uniform. Charged baton, tazer, spray...even the plasma pistol seemed futile, considering that they had dealt with Hotspur twice before. You didn’t exactly tackle him to the ground.
 
“Do we have disruptors?” she asked, feeling ill-prepared.
 
Marcus flashed the silver grenade and tossed it to her. “Last one.”
 
Samus smiled. Having a partner wasn’t so bad.
 
She climbed out of the car and into the crisp air of the spring morning, throwing her blonde ponytail to her back. Only three other squad cars were on the scene; did they get here quickly, or had no one else bothered to show up?
 
An older officer, a bulldog known as Hendrickson, stood behind his own car with a megaphone tightly gripped in one hand. His unending scowl and the little brown patch of fur over his right eye that contrasted his cream color fur were trademarks Samus would recognize anywhere.
 
“Crowe, Wilson,” he greeted them. “Your boy’s done quite a number this time.”
 
“No hostages, right?” Samus asked for confirmation, fighting the urge to protest Hotspur being referred to as ‘their boy.’
 
“Everybody got out just fine,” the bulldog responded almost nonchalantly. “Hotspur’s holed up in there, probably tryin’ to figure a way out of this mess.”
 
“Knowing him, he won’t,” Samus remarked. “Bursting through the front door is the only style he knows.”
 
Hendrickson nodded knowingly, and gave a quick signal with his free hand. Two armored cops with riot shields flanked the sides of the bank’s entrance. Its glass doors were large and clear, but the view left much to be desired of the interior.
 
“That’s not going to be enough manpower!” Marcus warned.
 
“We can’t afford to wait for more backup,” Hendrickson said solemnly. “He’s gonna hightail it at any minute. We need to stop him now before he goes on a rolling rampage, got it?” There was an added gruffness to his tone that suggested that he had no intention of being questioned further.
 
He got his wish when the bank’s doorway exploded outward; shattered glass showered the stairs below and the cops in riot gear were blown off their feet. A brown and silver sphere shot out of the remains of the entryway; a small pang of familiarity shook Samus at the sight.
 
The sphere unfurled, revealing the self-named criminal, Hotspur. Samus briefly forgot that Hotspur was indeed a large armadillo. He stood no less than six feet tall, certainly the largest armadillo citizen she had ever encountered in the city. Silver battle armor adorned his chest and legs. A dark sienna shell, pleated and shiny on the surface, covered his back. His snout pointed outward, his small but expressive eyes taking in every detail of his immediate surroundings. The pointed, oval shaped ears atop his head flicked about, and his tail lashed the pavement of the street in anticipation.
 
Under other circumstances, Samus would have found him somewhat cute and cuddly...circumstances that didn’t include robbery and putting lives in danger.
 
"You won’t take me again, coppas!" Hotspur screamed suddenly.
 
Marcus couldn’t believe his ears. "Did he just call us 'coppas'?”
 
“Drop the money and put your damn hands on your head!” Hendrickson barked, having long since traded his megaphone for a rifle he trained on the armadillo.
 
“Well, y’asked so nicely ‘n all.” Hotspur let the sack of money drop to the ground and slowly raised his hands to his head, wearing a cocky, defiant grin all the way. There was sudden movement from the armadillo’s back: two silver cannons emerged from within the uppermost region of his shell.
 
The bulldog fired first.
 
A green energy blast dissipated against Hotspur’s armor; he barely flinched from the impact. The twin cannons focused on the ground near Hendrickson and opened fire. The force from the resulting blast was enough to send Hendrickon’s car teetering onto its side. The dust made it hard to see where Hotspur was, or wasn’t, or exactly how far Hendrickson had been thrown. He was pretty close to the point of impact and most likely needed help, but Hotspur was still an immediately threat.
 
Samus took cover behind Hendrickson’s car; the lamppost it leaned against had caused it to stay lifted on its side. Marcus had apparently had the same idea, as they arrived at the same time with guns drawn.
 
“Are you okay?” Marcus asked. Samus nodded.
 
“You?”
 
“Yeah...” her partner responded. “What’s he thinking?”
 
Samus had the same train of thought. Hotspur should have fled while he had the chance; instead, he purposely chose to engage them, showing off in the process. This confrontation was out of character for him. She found it unsettling.
 
“There’s something else he wants,” she said in realization.
 
Sudden shade was cast upon them, accompanied by the squeak and shifting of metal from the car. The duo slowly looked up to find Hotspur leaning into view, his face beaming with the giddiness of a child.
 
"Well if it ain’t officers Sparrow and Watson!” Hotspur declared delightfully, his high voice a contrast to his size. “I gotta bone to pick with yous..."
 
His eyes flickered across them both, and he almost looked offended. “Not even a promotion, after catchin’ me twice? Your department must really suck...”
 
“Hey, third time’s the charm,” Marcus joked, “right?”
 
“Maaayyybe for me,” Hotspur murmured cheerily. The cannons on his back slowly turned to target the two cops individually. His face contorted in shock from a sudden impact that slammed against his back, forgetting all about Samus and Marcus as he whipped around to find the culprit.
 
“Hitting a guy in the back while he’s conversatin’ with others!” the armadillo complained. “I oughta teach you some respect!”
 
“Tch, tch!” a blue hedgehog responded, waving his finger scathingly at Hotspur. “I don’t take lectures from criminals.”
 
Hotspur was taken aback and his complexion whitened. “You...you can’t be that Sonic freak, can you?”
 
“I can and I am!” Sonic proclaimed proudly, pointing at himself with a gloved thumb. “But I’m not the freak with guns installed in his back!”
 
“Gonna wish y’did when I’m through with ya!”
 
Sonic crouched low as the cannons targeted him. “Let’s dance!”
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#3
Chapter 2 – Fleeting Truths

 
 
Hotspur and Sonic held their positions, locked in a stare down to see who would move first. Samus felt her own eyes glued to the scene from the safety of cover behind the flipped hovercar. The simple sight before her challenged a lot of what she thought to be indisputable reality.
 
Sonic was a hoax. Sonic was an inspiration. Sonic was a legend.
 
There wasn’t a person in the city that hadn’t heard of Sonic the Hedgehog. The first tales woven of his high-speed exploits began a few years ago, of a vigilante that assisted the police, saved lives, or defused situations when needed most. There were even stories of him returning lost pets, or even lost kids. Each tale always had the same ending – he was in and out in a flash – his presence always felt, but otherwise hard to prove.
 
And stories were all they were to some. Samus had seen news reports, internet discussions or even playground chatter erupt into intense debate on the validity of his existence. For Samus herself, the closest Sonic came to tangibility was from one of Marcus’s frequent tales relayed to him by a cop buddy from one of the Volesdale police stations.
 
As the story went, a shootout broke out between Volesdale officers and the remnants of an old crime syndicate, when the weapons of the opposing force suddenly vanished in a particularly strong gust of wind. Details like the amount of weapons, where the shootout occurred and the likes always changed, but Sonic’s role was never questioned by the storyteller.
 
Yet here stood that fabled hedgehog, reflected in Samus’s cerulean eyes. The sudden, concrete confirmation of his existence stirred something within her. It was a chilling but liberating feeling. Sonic used his own extraordinary abilities to help people on his own terms, in ways no one else could. It reminded her of the alternate Samus in her dreams, the bounty hunter that bounded through the cosmos of her own will with her own sense of justice.
 
I longed for that freedom.
 
She had never said that aloud. She couldn’t.
 
Hotspur’s cannons suddenly discharged, but Sonic dodged with ease, standing a few feet away from the impact crater. Sonic waved his hand across his mouth as he feigned a yawn; Hotspur retaliated by firing a few more shots that never had a chance of hitting their intended target.
 
The nozzles on both cannons swiveled with an audible click. Output from the cannons changed to low powered rapid-fire, which Sonic danced around, quite literally.
 
Samus could see Hotspur ball his clawed fists and clench his teeth in frustration. “Why don’t ya mind your own business!?”
 
“You’re robbing a bank and trying to hurt good people!” Sonic went into a breakdance, swiveling in place with only has hand to keep his balance. “Why is this not my business, again...?”
 
“Sit still or I’ll come over there and stomp ya into a pancake!”
 
Sonic stood up and pointed at Hotspur. “So do it!” he dared with a smirk.
 
Those words cut through Samus’s stupor. Sure, Sonic was the closest thing Centropolis had to a superhero, but she was still a cop, and there was no way she would let him take on a dangerous criminal all on his own.
 
“We have to help him,” Samus murmured, seemingly shaking Marcus out of his own stupor.
 
“Looks to me like he’s got this one in the bag,” Marcus replied. He knew Samus was right, but he didn’t want to turn down seeing Sonic the Hedgehog in action. “I’d pay to watch him make an ass out of Hotspur.”
 
“So would I, but the city is still our responsibility.” Samus produced the disruptor grenade. Hotspur’s back was still turned to them, so she took the opportunity to lean out from behind the hovercar and flashed the grenade. Its silver body reflected enough light to catch Sonic’s eye and he knew precisely what Samus was up to. The hedgehog suddenly started darting left and right, garnering all of Hotspur’s befuddled attention.
 
“You got ADD or sumthin’?” Hotspur growled. “I told ya to sit still!”
 
“You can’t catch what you can’t see!” Sonic teased. More cannon fire challenged that notion.
 
Samus twisted the cap on the disruptor grenade and it produced a small whine in return. She steadied her aim and rolled it towards Hotspur. Eventually, the armadillo’s own hearing picked up the whine and looked down just in time to see it roll to a stop between his legs.
 
“Ahhhh, hell.”
 
An abrupt wave of radiation erupted from the grenade. Hotspur’s augmentations immediately malfunctioned, if not shut down completely. The cannons refused to cooperate; getting them to recede back into his shell was enough of a feat on its own.
 
Hotspur cast a hateful glance back towards Samus, “I’ll handle you later Sparrow.”
 
Sonic took advantage of the situation and broke into a spin dash, his spinning body ripping up the ground beneath him. He launched himself through the air, slamming Hotspur square in the chest. The armadillo teetered from the impact and fell onto his back, using the momentum to curl into a ball and start one of his infamous rolling rampages.
 
It began as a chaotic and unplanned swath of destruction as the armadillo crushed barricades and knocked down a lamppost. Sonic revved into a ball once again and launched himself at the source of devastation; he ricocheted off in a blur, deflected with startling ease.
 
The hedgehog unfurled on the ground with a few quills bent out of shape. “Maybe that wasn’t the best move...” he told himself. “He is twice your size after all.”
 
Sonic’s intervention snapped Hotspur out of his indiscriminate tantrum; the armadillo instead choose to follow up on his earlier promise and steered towards where Samus and Marcus were hiding. They escaped from behind the car before he smashed into it. Glass and metal twisted and crunched as Hotspur steadily drilled into the remains of Hendrickson’s car.
 
Samus brandished her pistol and watched the shots ricochet into the sky. She was well aware of the fruitlessness in trying to damage his shell, but if Hotspur was focused on her, it would keep Marcus out of his sights and give Sonic time to recover.
 
She got more than she bargained for when he suddenly rolled backwards and aimed straight for her. Samus dove to the side to avoid the collision, but Hotspur banked back in her direction with such speed and efficiency that she couldn’t get her footing before he was upon her again. She braced for impact, but it never came.
 
Samus was whisked away, her body lurching from the sudden movement. It was an intense, disorienting blur, and just as quickly as it began...it ended. She felt her legs slowly guided upright as she was allowed to support her own weight. Sonic released his firm but gentle grip on Samus, allowing her to stand on her own. She quickly realized that they were standing on the marquee above the bank’s entrance. Hotspur was in the street below, his dumbfounded stare bearing into the spot he knew Samus had been.
 
“Thanks for the backup,” Sonic tossed her a thumbs up. “Leave the rest to me.”
 
Those spaghetti noodles he had for arms didn’t look like they could have supported much weight. Then again, nothing about his equally wiry legs suggested they could carry him around so quickly either. It wasn’t often when she needed rescuing, so she let her questions subside under the mystery of Sonic the Hedgehog.
 
Hotspur’s ears perked up at the sound of sirens in the distance, and they were closing in fast. He grabbed the abandoned sack of cash just as Sonic dropped down into the street.
 
“You can deal with me, or you can deal with them!” the hedgehog gave him an ultimatum.
 
The armadillo’s muzzle contorted with apprehension and annoyance until he looked up where Samus was and sighed. “How many of you freaks are there!?”
 
Sonic threw a curious glance back and saw what Hotspur was talking about. A being as blue as he was had appeared atop the marquee and seemed to be confronting Samus. The look on Sonic’s face told the armadillo all he needed to know.
 
“I’m outta here!” he announced, curling into a ball and barreling down the street. Sonic ignored him; full exposure to a disruptor burst made him a much easier capture for the cops. This guy, on the other hand...
 
“Hello Samus.”
 
That voice!
 
“Who are you?” she asked, studying his appearance. The blue jackal was slightly familiar to her. She had seen him, or something like him, in a pokemon encyclopedia. Perhaps he was a lucario, but those were supposed to be extremely rare or downright extinct in the city.
 
“The important question is – who are you?”
 
His voice prodded her mind; he was using telepathy for communication. Samus felt herself slightly annoyed, but intrigued nonetheless, by the reversal of her question.
 
Sonic appeared in a blur, placing himself between them. “You get away from her!” he warned. The threatening inflection in his voice was a stark contrast to his casual mocking of Hotspur. Did he have reason to fear the newcomer?
 
“I have the answers that you seek...if you want to learn them,” the jackal continued, ignoring the hedgehog. “It is sensitive information...for you only.”
 
“Don’t buy into it! There’s no reason to trust this guy!”
 
Sonic was right. If this guy really did hold the secrets he claimed, he would have to approach her correctly. His words were tucked behind ambiguity; if he could not give her a solid reason to listen, there was little reason to trust him.
 
Or at least, that’s what she thought until his next words slowly entered her mind.
 
“It’s your choice, Samus Aran.”
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#4
Chapter 3 – Time Out
 
“How do you know that name?” Samus demanded in a harsh whisper.
 
“I know a lot more than that,” Lucario responded, folding his arms under his chest. “I have the answers that have eluded you all of your life.”
 
Sonic cast quick glances from Samus to Lucario. If she was buying any of this, he wasn’t sure how he would snap her out of it.
 
“Why should I trust you?” Samus finally asked. Sonic felt as if she had taken the words right out of his mouth.
 
“Maybe you can’t trust me, but it goes both ways,” Lucario offered, unfazed. “What I have to say will change your perception of yourself, this world, our future...everything. Do you think you can handle that? Do you think I would just divulge such information to anybody?
 
“Look, this guy is bad news. You don’t have to listen to his cryptic nonsense!” Sonic held out his gloved hand. “I’ll take you away from here.”
 
Lucario acknowledged the hedgehog with barely a glance before he told Samus, “It’s your choice.”
 
Samus didn’t know what she was thinking.
 
Maybe she wasn’t thinking.
 
She took the hand, and in an instant, she was whisked away and zipping through the streets of Deelburg in Sonic’s grip. The cars and the buildings and the street signs were a whirling blur. How could he see like this? How can one person move this fast?
 
There was a feeling of impending doom. She knew they would splatter against a wall or something any second now.
 
They didn’t.
 
Samus felt that she was beginning to adjust to the speed. She trusted Sonic this far, and if there was anything he excelled at, it was certainly running. It felt silly to revoke that trust now.
 
With the fear gone, the exhilaration took over. She now saw and felt as Sonic did every time he revved those red sneakers up and hurtled through Centropolis. She understood the addiction of the speed. No one could catch you at this pace. Why would he ever stop?
 
She wondered how fast he could go. Could he break the sound barrier? Samus was tempted to dare him.
 
Sonic tightened his grip and they began to slow down at a startling rate. The hedgehog skidded along the ground and they came to an impressive halt near a high-rise apartment building. Gently, Samus found her footing once again.
 
Sonic held a finger up and pointed towards the sky. “I want you to meet me on the top floor. I’m gonna scout around a bit and make sure we weren’t followed.”
 
The hedgehog was gone in a flash. Samus entered the building quickly so as to not draw any attention to herself. Much to her relief, the apartment lobby was deserted. The sunlight filtering in through the windows gave life to a room decorated in blue and white. The wallpaper was smothered in circular patterns, calling back to a style decades past. Some flora from the Lucent Gardens was strategically placed about the lobby. The plants could use a little more attention Samus thought as she made her way to the nearest elevator, but otherwise she found it to be an inviting place.
 
But why did Sonic drop her off here? She had plenty of time to mull it over as the elevator climbed to the top. When she emerged on the top floor, she was greeted with the muffled sounds of a game show filtering through one of the apartments.
 
The staircase door flung open with Sonic still clutching the doorknob. The hedgehog threw a few quick glances and his features lightened when he spotted Samus.
 
“Oh, good. You’re here,” he said with a quick sigh of relief.
 
Did he think she was going to ditch him? If anything, Samus would have expected it the other way around.
 
“What are we doing here?”
 
Sonic strolled past her. “Follow me,” he motioned for her with the wave of his hand.
 
They rounded the corner to another set of doors and stopped at the one marked 10-E. Sonic fished a key from his sock and shoved it into the door.
 
“Oh,” Samus mouthed silently. She had scratched that off her mental checklist first because she thought that the building simply being his home was too obvious.
 
“Welcome to my humble abode!”
 
Humble was right.
 
The apartment was small and sparse; a hedgehog’s hideaway tucked in a hole in the city and barely lived in. To the immediate left was a white dining table and the entrance to the kitchen area. The rest of the space was the living room, with a hallway leading to the single bedroom and a bathroom.
 
A green rug sat atop the center of the living room’s wooden floor, housing a single wooden chair. Sitting atop a nondescript cupboard was an old model TV, shaped like a thin box with cords running into the adjacent wall. Samus felt that the old thing had a bit of personality to it, unlike those clear panel hover TVs that became the de facto model over the years.
 
Sonic ushered Samus into the lone seat before grabbing a chair from the dining table and sliding over. Now that everything had died down and Sonic wasn’t sitting too far away, Samus started to fidget. She wasn’t socially awkward, but what conversation would you have with someone you previously thought to be fictional no more than a few hours ago?
 
“You okay?” Sonic suddenly asked in a slow, quiet voice. It seemed that the speed demon had been put to rest for now.
 
“Yeah...thanks for bailing me out back there.”
 
“No problem! But I’ve gotta ask...do you know anything about that guy? I don’t mean that loser armadillo, I mean...”
 
“The lucario?” Samus finished for him. “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him. You seemed to know him, though.”
 
“Not exactly. I do know that his name is Lucario. I know, I know. Totally original!”
 
Samus was giving him that cop glare, that glare that makes you want to confess to things you didn’t even know you did. He wasn’t sure if it was intentional, but it was working. He knew he had to change his approach.
 
Sonic spun the chair around on its legs and sat down, setting his chin on the backrest. "What if I told you, without a doubt, that there are other worlds out here?"
 
Samus leaned back a bit and thought about it. Sonic didn’t think she seemed too surprised by that question. "Honestly? I wouldn't be surprised. History says the first settlers came here from another world. There's no hard proof, but I imagine the government's rigorous denial of other worlds that we know of stems from frustration of not being able to pierce the skies in all the years we've tried. They don't like acknowledging variables they can't control."
 
"Smart girl," Sonic said with a chuckle. “I know for a fact that Lucario is from another world.”
 
Samus was taken aback. That’s the reaction he was looking for! “How do you know that for sure?”
 
“I have...trusted sources that confirm that he comes and goes as he pleases.” A satisfied smirk rolled its way along Sonic’s lips, but it seemed like Samus was analyzing him instead of his statement.
 
“Are you from another world?” she murmured suddenly.
 
“Erm...I...” Sonic squirmed a bit in the chair. “No?”
 
You’re not sure?
 
“Hey, I’m not the one under the microscope here!” the hedgehog shot back defensively. “Maybe you don’t know Lucario but he sure seemed to know you! What was all that nonsense about answers and sensitive information?”
 
Samus leaned back in the chair once again, a wave of guilt flushing over her. Sonic had saved her and invited her into the safe haven of his own home. She certainly didn’t intend to agitate him, and there was one major detail she was leaving out of the discussion...but she had never spoken of it to another person.
 
Sonic’s green eyes continued to bore into her with intensity. Well, what was the worst that could happen from telling him?
 
“There’s something I have to tell you, but I don’t think you’ll believe me. It’s pretty far out there so I’ve never really told anyone about it before.”
 
Sonic’s frustration melted away. “Try me,” he offered.
 
Samus took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “As long as I can remember, I’ve been experiencing these...dreams, except they’re not dreams at all. They’re more like memories, and they’re quite vivid. It’s like I’m being forced to relive these memories, but they’re of places I’ve never been to before and events that have never happened to me.”
 
Sonic leaned forward against the backrest of the chair, enraptured by those words; Samus took that as a good sign.
 
“In these...memories, there is a bounty hunter named Samus Aran. I am her. She is me. In that universe, a technological miracle in the shape of a power suit is bonded to me, like an extension of myself. Despite being a bounty hunter, I mostly use my skillset to protect the universe from corrupt factions and cosmic monstrosities. Said universe is nothing like Centropolis...here, we’ve just got the city and the ocean. In that other universe, there are more planets and stars than I can count.”
 
“That’s a pretty...strange but fantastic tale,” her captive audience hummed.
 
“So you believe me?”
 
Sonic looked away and scratched one of his quills absently. “I believe that you have those dreams, or memories...or whatever. But as far as there actually being an alternate version of you, and this galaxy full of different worlds...it’s not like I’ve been there to prove that it exists, y’know?”
 
“Yeah, I see your point,” Samus admitted with a small sigh. “Those memories are the only interesting thing about me. I’m just a regular woman, semi-raised by a single mother, and entered the police academy after I graduated from school. Lucario either has the wrong woman or he knows about my situation. When you told me that you knew he was from another world, well, that did a lot to erase my doubts.”
 
Sonic’s jaw dropped, “Y-you mean you actually want to take him up on his offer?”
 
“You need to understand what it’s like to be possessed with memories of an alternate life. It’s a unique phenomenon that can’t really be explained, understood, or solved in any real capacity in the world that we live in. A talking pokemon shows up with the key to the box I’ve been trying to unlock for years. Yes, it’s suspicious, but you also have to ask yourself: who would know the answers to my questions, and what form would they come in?”
 
Sonic folded his arms. “Okay, so he knows the name Aran. What’s to say this isn’t a trap?”
 
“Maybe it is, but what would he want with me anyway? We’ve got all the questions and he possibly has the answers. I figured...we could try to meet him halfway.”
 
We?” Sonic questioned with a grin. They shared a chuckle.
 
“I guess this is mostly my problem,” Samus realized.
 
“Nah, I wouldn’t ditch you like that,” the hedgehog assured her.
 
Samus smiled but her demeanor changed. She shrank in her seat, like a child caught snooping in someone else’s business.
 
“I’ve told you my story...what about yours?”
 
Sonic leapt from his seat. What Samus mistook for offense turned out to be some leg exercises; she forgot who she was talking to for a moment.
 
“It’s not really earth-shattering,” the hedgehog began. “There’s no freak accident or secret pact or anything. A normal hedgehog couple gave birth to a speedy hedgehog with naturally blue fur.
 
“We lived in Moore. Lots of farmland, lots of room for a little speedster to run without neighbors breathing down his neck. Once I was school-age, my parents started dyeing my fur brown so I wouldn’t be treated like a freak. ”
 
Samus glanced over Sonic’s cobalt fur. Dyeing with unnatural colors was popular with teens; he wouldn’t have been too much a freak, would he?
 
“What changed? Why be a hero?” she inquired.
 
“It’s funny. When you run as much as I do, and cover as much ground as I can, you see a lot of stuff in the city...stuff you can’t really ignore. When I hit my teen years and got a little rebellious, I started to resent my parents a bit for dyeing my fur brown. I felt like they were hiding the real me.” Sonic headed into the kitchen and said, “All this talking is giving me an appetite! I’d be a terrible host if I brought a pretty lady into my home and let her starve!”
 
“Your parents were just protecting you,” Samus murmured thoughtfully.
 
“Oh, I know! Now I’m glad they did...I think you can imagine how hard it would be to do what I do and keep a private life when everybody knows the only blue ‘hog in town!” Sonic grimaced when he realized that the inside of his refrigerator was just as sparse as his home.
 
He reentered the living room with a sheepish grin. “Okay – change of plan – I’ll go grab us something to eat! You just make yourself at home and I’ll be back in a flash!”
 
Sonic was gone before Samus could protest. The subject of just how long she would have to be there was averted once again. Sonic was a gracious host but she did have a job to get back to.
 
The TV came to life once Samus grabbed the remote, eager to put some of her fears at ease. She flipped through the channels in search of a news station, hoping for good news on the Hotspur situation.
 
“...And the criminal known as Hotspur escaped the scene and is currently at large.”
 
“Fantastic...”
[Image: MegaManSSB.gif]
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#5
Chapter 4 – Hyrule, Land of Reconstruction

 
The emerald hills of Hyrule bristled with a healthy hue. A curse lifted off of the land and its people allowed it to flourish like never before, and within the battered walls of the castle town echoed the sounds of reconstruction as man, woman, goron and zora collaborated at rebuilding what was destroyed by Kneph’s wrath.
 
Working alone and in his Ordonian garb, Link fastened the door to Agitha’s bug emporium and tested it. Once he was satisfied, he entered the building to admire his work and escape the scorching sun.
 
The townsfolk asked – no, begged – for Link to complete Agitha’s castle, as no one was willing to house her host of creepy crawlies. The building had been repaired, but rebuilding the environment for the bugs was something Link felt Agitha was capable of herself. In truth, he was avoiding Agitha’s little friends himself; he felt that he had done enough bug catching for her to last a lifetime.
 
Link was wiping the sweat from his brow when his pointed ears picked up the sound of something nudging the door open. Four light footpaws treaded across the floor, and Link smiled when his cerulean eyes fell upon a silver wolf with a water flask in her mouth. An otherworldly aura gave the wolf’s fur a bright sheen.
 
“Oh Sylva, you know me so well,” Link murmured, kneeling down to grab the flask with one hand and stroke the wolf’s silver mane with the other.
 
As a practicing forest elementalist, Link had spent some of the downtime after Kneph’s defeat to expand his elemental abilities. With some help from Lucario, he began dabbling in the art of summoning familiars: spirit animals and guardians of nature that beckoned the call of those they deemed worthy. Sylva was his first successful summon, and he found himself developing a fondness for the spirit wolf. It reminded him of his own days as a wolf, and though it may not have been true, he did like to think that he could connect with her on a level no other person could. Most of his familiar training from that point revolved around keeping her around.
 
Sudden movement near the door caught Link’s interest. “I see that’s not all you brought...” he added upon seeing Ike’s face, as stoic as ever.
 
“Nice work,” Ike offered after a quick glance around the room. “So what will you do when another demon knocks it back down?”
 
“What do you mean?”
 
Ike sighed. “Why are you wasting your time here? We should be preparing for the next demon attack. Let the people rebuild.”
 
Sylva began pacing about the room. It was a ritual she started when she was assessing a situation. The sudden change in mood left her unsettled.
 
“Lucario said that the demons might converge on us in retribution. That was two weeks ago.” Link’s friendly voice was replaced with a tense, sterner tone. Ike did that to him sometimes. “Besides, I’m one of the people too. Hyrule is my home.”
 
The stony expression on Ike’s face showed a chink in the armor, but that quick flash of emotion was only that – a flash. “What about Centropolis?”
 
“It’s possible to have more than one home,” Link admitted, empathizing with Ike more than either may have realized. “Hyrule can be yours too.”
 
Ike grunted. “I don’t have a home.”
 
Silence blanketed the room. Link found himself annoyed with the situation.
 
“So did you come here just to tell me that I’m wasting my time, or...?”
 
“Lucario has returned,” Ike spoke up as if remembering something important. “He wants us all back at your place right away.”
 
“Already? Is the newest member here?”
 
Ike shrugged and headed out the door.
 
---
 
The shade of Faron Woods helped fight the heat of the sun as Link and Ike followed the trail to Ordon. At Link’s side was Epona, and at his heels was Sylva. The horse and wolf had a curious relationship that Link couldn’t quite figure out. At best, he could tell that the two tolerated each other. Maybe if he ever learned to talk to animals, he’d get the full story.
 
A few paces ahead was Ike. Sometimes Link wondered what that guy’s problem was, and he knew there had to be more than what little he could get out of Roy’s gossip. Maybe it wasn’t his business, but they wouldn’t be much of a brotherhood if they pretended they never had any problems.
 
After that little confrontation in town, Ike shut himself in with thorough silence and little acknowledgement beyond some sulking, or maybe brooding.
 
Brooding seems more appropriate, Link thought. He and Lucario are brooders.
 
“I don’t want you to end up like me,” Ike said out of the blue.
 
Link almost thought he was hearing things. “What do you mean?”
 
“Homeless,” Ike mustered, never turning to face Link. “I know you think you’re doing well, but if the entire demon force were to descend on us right now, Hyrule and everything around it would be lost.”
 
“Have they ever done anything like that before?”
 
“Once or twice...and the handful of homes you helped rebuild would contribute nothing to stopping it from happening again.”
 
“Well see, that’s your problem” Link pointed out. “You’re so concentrated on the war that you’re forgetting about the people caught between. Kneph ravaged Hyrule for years; we need to rebuild.”
 
This time, Ike whirled around to meet Link. “All the damage Kneph wrought would be done over tenfold and in much less time if they think we’re distracted and strike all at once! I didn’t even realize I was losing my own world to the demons until Lucario-”
 
The forest was struck with a sudden and violent gale that ended Ike’s speech and startled Epona. Link tightened his grip on Epona’s leather reins when a small cyclone erupted ahead of them. The wind died down after a moment and the cyclone receded to reveal the princesses Peach and Zelda.
 
“Did you see that?” Peach squealed excitedly, running up to Ike and shaking his arms enthusiastically. “It worked!”
 
Ike let out a quick sigh of relief when Peach released him and went for Link. “I made it work!” she belted out with a firm grip on Link’s Ordonian garb.
 
“Link, Ike. It’s good to see you,” Zelda greeted in smooth contrast. She dusted away some loose sand from her dress and hair while reading their distressed and confused faces after being accosted by Peach
 
Link finally mustered the courage to ask, “What are we talking about?”
 
“Farore’s Wind,” Zelda stated matter-of-factly.
 
It finally dawned on him. “Oh...Peach, you did that?” Peach nodded furiously. “Congratulations.”
 
“When I learned that Peach’s element was wind, I felt it would be a great idea to share some wind-based magic with her,” Zelda explained. “I would not feel like much of a member of the Brotherhood if I didn’t share my knowledge with our comrades.” The princess absently massaged her inner wrist where the Smash Brotherhood brand emerged when she was officially made a member.
 
“What did you think about it, Ike?” Peach hummed suddenly.
 
“You could make the spell...less intrusive and bombastic,” Ike said flatly. “As it stands, it wouldn’t be very good for setting up a preemptive stealth attack.”
 
“Attack?” Peach pouted. “All you think about is fighting.”
 
“I’m glad I’m not the only one that noticed,” Link muttered. Ike cut him a dirty look.
 
“I would be more worried about reaching the destination,” Zelda said.
 
Peach grimaced. “But the desert was an accident! An accident! And I’ll prove it!” She suddenly grabbed Link and Ike’s hands. “I’ll take us to Link’s house right now!”
 
Zelda made two quick tapping motions with an electrically charged finger that broke Peach’s grip on the men. “That won’t be necessary,” she mentioned hastily. “We aren’t too far, and it would not be fair to leave Epona and Sylva behind.”
 
Peach’s lips curled with delight from a sudden revelation. “I can bring them too!”
 
Epona’s eyes widened and she wrestled with Link to escape while she still could. Sylva had already made it a safe distance away while no one was looking.
 
Zelda’s palm crackled with magical energy. Peach recoiled against Ike.
 
“Okay, bad idea. I get it,” she admitted sheepishly. “We’ll walk, we’ll walk!” Peach made sure to keep Ike between herself and Zelda along the way.
 
As they approached the bridge to Ordon, Link felt it natural to take Zelda’s hand and guide her along the wooden planks. Epona snorted.
 
“You never offered to teach me Farore’s Wind,” Link struck up a conversation.
 
“I wasn’t aware that you were interested in learning spells,” Zelda replied with a coy smile.
 
“I’ve usually just depended on my skills and the tools I pick up along the way...but now that I’ve been exposed to geomancy, with the barrier and Sylva becoming vital...I’ve been wondering what I may have been missing that could further help us in our cause.”
 
“I will help you if that’s what you really want, but you should be wary not to overwhelm yourself with too many new arts. As the Smash Brotherhood, we are an ensemble. Together, we will shield the other’s weaknesses and thrive on our strengths.”
 
Link mulled it over. “I see what you mean.”
 
Before they even reached Link’s home, a shouting match rang their ears and minds. Marth was leaning against a tree with a weary look while Roy and Lucario argued near the training dummies.
 
“I wish we were gathering under better circumstances,” the prince started solemnly upon noticing the others.
 
“What exactly happened?” Link asked.
 
“Perhaps Lucario is better suited to answer your inquiries,” Marth replied.
 
“‘Maybe you can’t trust me?’” Roy repeated incredulously. “Of course she wouldn’t listen to you after that!”
 
“It goes both ways!” Lucario shot back.
 
“Hello Roy, Lucario,” Zelda greeted coolly. Drawing their attention onto herself helped simmer down the heated situation. “Would you please fill the rest of us in on the current affairs?”
 
“Luc lost us our newest member,” Roy told them before Lucario could reply. “Practically chased her away. She doesn’t want anything to do with us.”
 
“She didn’t say no!” Lucario argued in defense.
 
“Nah, she just hitched a ride with a hedgehog until she was in another zip code!”
 
Link’s ears twitched with attentiveness. “Hedgehog? Are you talking about Sonic?” His question was ignored.
 
“I haven’t heard a solution out of you yet,” Lucario pointed out. “Otherwise, I will just try again later.”
 
“The infallible Lucario wants a solution!” Roy shouted out. Ike rolled his eyes at the grandiose gesture. “I’ve got a simple solution: let someone else do the recruiting for once!”
 
Lucario folded his arms with a skeptical grin. “Who did you have in mind? Hopefully not yourself.”
 
Roy accepted the challenged and pointed towards Link.
 
“M-me!?” Link sputtered. He felt hot from the sudden attention. He wanted to assist the Brotherhood any way he could, but recruiting the newbies felt like too big of a job too soon. After all, he was still a newbie himself.
 
“Link, you’re personable. People like you. You’re practically a ladykiller! We’ve all seen the way Ilia looks at you...” Roy realized that he was the subject of Zelda’s intense gaze and smiled awkwardly from his mistake.
 
“I agree with Roy,” Peach added in support, using Ike as a shield in anticipation of Zelda’s glare.
 
With boosted confidence, Roy leapt onto a nearby tree stump and declared, “Let’s have a group vote! Show of hands, who thinks Link should take a crack at the next recruitment?”
 
A wave of hands lifted into the air, and Lucario’s grin faltered.
 
Ike!” he hissed, feeling betrayed when he noticed Ike’s own hand slowly ascend.
 
Ike looked away sheepishly as he explained himself, “Roy may be a clown but he made a point. I too have witnessed a rare primal lust amongst some of the women of Hyrule when it comes to Link.”
 
Lucario scowled. “I would like to think such an important role was being assigned based on logic and not by how hot you feel the subject is.”
 
“I would say it is quite a logical choice,” Marth began, offering his own take. “Link is one of our newest members and also a resident of Centropolis. As such, he has experienced the awakening process. He has much in common with our elusive friend, and knows better than any of us what awaits her.”
 
“You forgot one small detail about your choice,” Lucario said. “Link can’t track souls!”
 
“He doesn’t have to,” Roy retorted. “You take Link to her, and you let him do all the talking.”
 
Lucario grunted. As much as he didn’t like being displaced, their reasons were sound.
 
“Fine,” he finally caved. “This meeting is over, I guess.”
 
“I didn’t have much of a say in this, did I?” Link wondered aloud.
 
“Don’t sweat it,” Roy said, throwing his arm around the confused Hylian. “If our cause is one that you really believe in, it shouldn’t be hard to convince a reasonable person that joining us is the right thing to do.”
 
Lucario approached him with the same scowl etched in his face. “We will be leaving soon. I suggest you take the time to make yourself presentable, lest we give Samus the impression that the Brotherhood’s tasks include milking the cows and herding the goats.”
 
Link glanced down at his Ordonian garb, feeling slightly embarrassed. Roy snickered.
 
“He’ll get over it.”
[Image: MegaManSSB.gif]
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#6
So it's been a while. This and the next chapter have floated in a limbo of half-completion due to a small bout of writer's block. I used that as an opportunity to turn my attention on writing other things (including original fiction) and just never got back around to this, until now. But the new elephant in the room is that we got brand new Smash games since I started writing this series - so how will that influence the story? What changes? Well, the outline is still the same, but I envisioned it with flexibility. In other words, things are still on track, but I will consider adding characters and elements from Smash 3DS/Wii U. I've got a couple of ideas of how they would work in this universe.

-- 

Chapter 5 – Life Connections
 
The forest floor bloomed under the speckled curtain of light creeping through the leafy canopy of trees swaying above Link and Lucario. A light breeze had developed and, combined with the shade, made for much better conditions compared to what Link had been working under back in the castle town.
 
Despite the airy weather, an ominous cloud had still managed to thoroughly park itself over Link’s mood. Lucario hadn’t said much since leading him away from his home. Sure, Lucario wasn’t the most genial guy around, but it was a little different being the source of his ire.
 
Link took a deep breath and asked, “Are you angry?”
 
“If you are wondering if I am bitter towards you over what happened at the meeting, then you have nothing to worry about. But if your concern is that I am contemplating strangling Roy with my aura abilities, then you may be relieved to know that I have successfully suppressed that urge for years.”
 
“Sorry, I didn’t know he was going to pull a stunt like that.”
 
“Don’t apologize. This is a one-time event. Princess Zelda has offered to give me lessons in social etiquette. You will see.”
 
“I guess there’s no one better to learn that from than a princess,” Link admitted, though he felt needing etiquette lessons wasn’t something anyone should be gloating about. “We’ve been walking for a bit and I don’t recognize this part of the forest. Why are we going all the way out here just for you to bubble us up into the Void?”
 
Lucario stopped in his tracks and turned to Link with a wry grin. “We’re using a different method of travel today, a method I’ve used many times. I want you to see the spiritual corridors for yourself.”
 
“Huh...”
 
After a few more minutes of what felt like aimless wandering to Link, Lucario stopped and gave him that same grin. “Are you ready?”
 
Link nodded, but before he could even steady his head back to its rightful place, the forest distorted before him. A tear in the very fabric of reality revealed itself, opening a hole into a dazzling world of amber and golden light. Rapidly expanding, the hole threatened to swallow him into its brilliant core – until he realized that it was he that was moving, carried gently along by an aura bubble. Once they were inside, all traces of Hyrule vanished. Inside the massive corridor, high above, countless radiant orbs whizzed up and down in two lanes of heavy traffic.
 
“This is a spiritual corridor,” Lucario said, motioning for Link to follow as they began to trek on solid light. “It’s a sacred network connecting the seven worlds and used to funnel souls to and fro. It’s these corridors that make it so hard for Azazel to conquer these worlds as opposed to the singular worlds further out in the Void. These worlds are tethered in an interconnected web of spiritual energy that the demons can’t touch.”
 
“Is it really okay for us to be here?” Link couldn’t help but ask. “Why weren’t we using the corridors in the first place?”
 
“The souls are beyond our simple, physical existence. We can’t disturb them. A skilled spiritual elementalist like myself can gain access to the corridors. And you may have noticed the medallion Ike’s keeping. That soulstone, which I created myself, can also access the corridors, among other abilities.”
 
One of the brilliant orbs broke off from the traffic, buzzing around the duo. Link felt like he was being ogled by the soul as it ignored any concept of personal space, whirling about him in a chaotic dance. Lucario continued on, undisturbed by the encounter once the soul rejoined the cavalcade of light.
 
“I would like to keep this place as only an alternative method of travel, as I am not too keen on sullying it with the likes of Roy. Though we cannot disrupt the souls during their migration, I still have no intention of defiling the spiritual corridors. Such recklessness may come with unforeseen consequences.”
 
“I see your point, though they don’t seem to have much of a problem disrupting us,” Link said. “Before we get to Centropolis, is there anything special I need to do when recruiting our new member? Anything specifically I need to say?”
 
“I’ll fill you in on her background, but when it comes to talking to her...” Lucario gritted his teeth as if bearing a great pain, “Be yourself. Do the opposite of what I would do...”
 
“Duly noted.”
 
---
 
Derwin held his breath as he hid at the end of the metallic hallway. This was it – the place nicknamed The Reaper’s Corridor. Anyone that stayed here too long always met with a swift and violent death, and yet that never deterred packs of morons from shuffling into the deathtrap. “I won’t die here,” they often tell themselves. “I’m too good for that.”
 
So why was he here?
 
Tightly gripping the grenade in his hand, he relied on his instincts. Any minute now...
 
WOOSH!
 
He threw the live grenade and it bounced towards the end of the hallway just as three dudes clad in battle gear turned the corner. They had no time to react – the grenade wreaked lethal havoc on them, sending their bodies ragdolling about. Two of them flopped through the air while the third’s corpse slid across the slick floor and came to a stop near Derwin’s feet.
 
“TRRRRIIIIIPLE KILL!” a cheesy, overly gruff voice announced over the server.
 
“Hey ‘nade noob, why don’t you grow a pair?” someone whined over the voice chat.
 
“I have a pair...of NADES!” Derwin retorted, tossing another grenade down the hallway. Two more opponents from the other team arrived to avenge their fallen comrades only to rush into another blast. The bodies were starting to pileup, twisting and contorting in hilariously embarrassing poses. His finger rapidly hammered the screenshot key; he would upload his handiwork work later with the appropriate gloating attached.
 
Derwin’s ears twitched when he heard something very un-game-like shifting near his window. The raccoon boy removed the visor from his head and spotted a blue hedgehog perched on his windowsill.
 
“Sonic!?” he gasped, fumbling the visor as he placed it on his computer desk.
 
“Hey kid,” Sonic greeted casually, inviting himself in.
 
“What are you-- how do you know where I live?”
 
“I followed you that night in the park. I knew your parents came for you, but I sorta tailed you home just to make sure you got back in one piece,” Sonic admitted a bit sheepishly. “Hope that doesn’t seem too stalker-ish.”
 
“I don’t mind,” Derwin said. He mentally slapped his forehead once he heard himself.
 
Oh, I don’t mind as long as you’re the one stalking me. How did he end up sounding like the creepo in this situation? Sonic was reading the grimace on the young raccoon’s face and that just made things worse. Derwin moved over to his bed and resisted the urge to bury his face in a pillow.
 
“You getting along with your folks, right?” Sonic asked.
 
“Yeah, no drama here. My dad’s been a little nicer to me lately so it’s actually kinda weird...”
 
“That’s good. I actually came here to ask you something important...you told me about Lucario in the park. How much do you know about him?”
 
“He’s a douche,” Derwin responded flatly.
 
“Er...anything else?”
 
“Oh...I’m not really sure if I should be talking about this with you...”
 
“What!? You don’t trust me?” Sonic clutched his chest, pretending to be stabbed in the heart. “Who am I gonna tell?”
 
“You’re you so I guess it’s all right...he’s got a group and they’re in a war with some demons from the Void beyond our world. That’s what happened to Link – Lucario recruited him and now they fight them together.”
 
What followed was one of those rare moments when Sonic fell silent. Derwin sat on the bed and watched as Sonic looked toward a nondescript corner of the room in a contemplative gaze. He wished he had more to tell the hedgehog, but Link kept information on the war at a drip feed for a reason.
 
“Do you trust Lucario?” Sonic asked suddenly.
 
“I’ve only met him once. If you really want to know more about him you’ll want to ask Link. He trusts him so I guess I sorta trust him by extension.”
 
Sonic crossed his arms, looking notably upset.
 
“Umm...Sorry I couldn’t tell you more.”
 
“You’ve got nothin’ to apologize for, kid!” the hedgehog said, waving it off. He moved back towards the window, “You told me more than what I knew before I came here. What you told me shed a bit more light on something I’ve needed to deal with for a while now.”
 
“Glad I could help.”
 
“Who knows, maybe I’ll drop by again,” Sonic said. He gave a casual salute and hurtled out of the window.
 
Derwin moved back into his computer chair, his gaze distant and intense. Should he have asked Link more questions about the war? He and Freddy had gone on with school life without Link to the best of their ability. The less he knew about the War of the Void, the easier it was for him to pretend it wasn’t happening. Easier to play video games. Easier to put up with Mr. Vaughn’s crappy pop quizzes. Easier to fret about that stupid upcoming dance.
 
He was so deep in thought that he nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Sonic’s voice again.
 
“Hey Derwin, just one more thing,” the hedgehog started, leaning through the window. “I wanted your opinion on something. So, uh, girls like burgers, don’t they?”
 
“They do if they have good taste!”
 
Sonic grinned and nodded before he disappeared again, speeding to whatever part of Centropolis he came from. Derwin’s ears twitched, this time picking up the sounds of gunfire from his abandoned visor.
 
“Oh crap!” His team would be pissed with him going idle like that without warning. Even worse, that would be free kills for the other team. He slowly slipped the visor on as he anticipated, and received, the worst case scenario: several members of the enemy team had gathered at the edge of The Reaper’s Corridor, taking turns teabagging his corpse.
[Image: MegaManSSB.gif]
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