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4 yrs ago
dissertation done. can actually post again. yay.
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The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 4,078 (+5)
Bowser: Level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (69/90)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (60/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (59/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay


In a puff of smoke and magic Kamek appeared above Lumbridge to start his search for the captain. It was an important, nay vital, task, because it would mean a bunch of people were less sad. Also it meant they wouldn't have to worry so much about other people biting it. Also it meant the captain would be alive which was a bonus in Kamek’s somewhat callous opinion.

Of course, the tricky bit was finding out where, if anywhere, he’d ended up and the most logical place was the one where this had happened before.

”Oh bother” Kamek said almost as soon as he had appeared. He hadn’t asked exactly where in the town they had been dropped off, which might make this a touch trickier than he’d expected ”Well no matter, someone must have seen it happen. Hmmm”

He took a look around the town down below looking for either the man himself (should he be so lucky) or the Houndmaster, who he assumed might know if an injured captain showed up out of the blue via cat born stretcher and, presumably, started making noise about being confused as to what just happened.

Kamek’s aerial search, however, turned up no portly pirates. He looked all over the quaintly patchwork town, from Mina’s restaurant to the smithy sisters’ forge, from the Great Ton Pu Inn to the bustling marketplace, but he found nary a trace. Only loads of villagers, even more than before, and the place’s characteristic abundance of adventurers, some Kamek recognized from his time spent in Lumbridge prior. One thing he couldn’t help but notice was an increase in the number of pigs in various professional attires, all of whom traipsed about with the sort of wonder and excitement that signified newcomers. Unfortunately he sought brine rather than swine, so his search came up fruitless.

Eventually he fell back on a trusted authority, parked as ever out in front of the busy guild castle with his faithful wolfhound by his side. The Houndmaster kept a sharper vigil than ever thanks to the guild castle’s increased traffic, which came as a result of the odd portal implanted in its floor. Since the heroes had left, further construction efforts better integrated the anomaly into the building, allowing for both access to the guild’s functions and the distant archipelago on the other side. A mutual interest from both Lumbridge and Inkwell in the other location meant a bevy of new faces around, and nobody going or coming escaped the sheriff’s watchful eye. When Kamek appeared with a few questions, however, the Houndmaster could only shake his head. “Nary a glimpse of feline couriers nor piratical ragamuffins,” he told the sorcerer. “Should you possess time enough, interviewing adventurers may yet yield a trace, but your effort may be better spent procuring a missing-persons poster.”

”Thank you for the advice, but I still have other spots to check before resorting to that. It would be embarrassing to go to all the effort only to find him on my next stop” Kamek said, frustrated that his guess that starting out where they’d last appeared was the best bet hasn't borne fruit. So much for empiricism. He also hadn't found out where Link had been dropped off when he’d been carted back, which was a shame. That would have made guessing where the man might have appeared a lot easier.

He was mulling over going all the way back to Link to check when he suddenly remembered ”No wait. There was that other one, what was his name… ah. Euden! Perfect”

That made his next stop rather obvious, and he wouldn't even need to move under his own magic to get there, which was infinitely preferable over teleporting to each of the other two locations in his tired state.

A short flight later, Kamek reached Jr’s “addition” to the commemorative statue that had been made of their group, and using that warp graffiti made the trip back to Alcamoth, materializing just outside the door to the great structure and heading inside to find both Euden and Vandham to ask them about the hero’s brush with death and their merc leader if he or anyone under him had encountered their missing sailor.

Of Kamek’s two targets Vandham turned out to be the easier of the two to find, seldom far from the mercenary headquarters and never far without communicating with his supervisors. After sending for Euden, however, the huge man was unable to provide the magikoopa a satisfactory response. “Sorry mate, ain’t seen summan like that. But if any kitties do drop by, I’ll send a Moogle t’letcha know, alright?”

A few moments later Euden arrived. Although the young man had quickly become quite the popular figure in Alcamoth owing to his kindly, personable demeanor and never-ending consideration for others, he never skimped out on his duty. The prince came in at a light jog and greeted Kamek with a wave. “Hello. What can I help you with?”

“This ‘ere wizard wanted t’know whereabouts you ended up the other day while fightin’ that nasty dragon,” Vandham explained, jabbing a thumb toward the carved-out section of cliff across Eryth Sea. “Summan else mighta gotten saved by a buncha cats, and ‘e’s tryin’ t’find ‘em.”

Euden nodded, his face appropriately serious. “Of course. Well, when I fell in battle against that monster, I blacked out. When I came to I was back in the Lumbridge castle. I know a few adventurers with blessings that let them return back to the last place they rested on death, but that wasn’t where I slept the night before, so I could only guess that those cats brought me back to my ‘base.’” His brows narrowed. “It was a really long way. I probably wouldn’t have been able to come here if Mym didn’t show up. Although...those cats didn’t seem normal. They vanished around a corner after leaving me. So maybe they possess some sort of magic.”

Shaking his head, Vandham cut him off. “That’s prolly more’n ‘e needs, lad. Anythin’ else on your mind, mate?” If Kamek had no more business for him, the mercenary leader returned to his duty, and Euden to his own affairs after a polite farewell.

”No that will be all. Thank you both” the mage replied ”you’ve given me plenty to think about already.”

The cats being magical lend some credence to the idea that they could have bailed the captain out despite the location he had fallen which was good. The idea that it was the persons’ 'base’ that the cats delivered people too was useful too, and yet what counted as a base was tricky to suss out. Was it a person's personal base, or the base they had last used. And what counted as a base?

”I swear if he’s been unconscious in Shippy’s holds this whole time” he muttered because where else would the seafarer call his base?

Whatever the case, there was one last spot Link had suggested, and it looked like it was the best bet thanks to the additional information, so he headed for Limsa Lominscuttle. The mage strolled down to his young master’s gallery of landscape art and took a warp over to the official docks they’d first arrived in the city at. After a quick check there just in case, before skimming round to the pirate’s cove, the last place he’d docked at and the palace they’d launched the expedition from and, if all that failed, headed for the navy’s headquarters to see if whoever had been left in charge gotten reports about cats carrying old sea captains around.

Given the sheer size of the seastack city, and in particular the claustrophobic, layered construction of the wharftowns, a cursory flight around a few of its harbors shed precious little light on the object of Kamek’s search. No sign of him appeared at Pirate’s Cove, which stung a little harder than before. The places where Brineybeard might be were dwindling quickly. That said, considering that Pirate’s Cove offered little but a clandestine place to moor a ship or two, it seemed unlikely that it would qualify as a base.

When Kamek visited the Navy’s shipyards he found them largely vacant, with only the youngest shipgirls present to mill around. None looked happy, as it appeared that the reality that their brethren were out there fighting and dying while the children idled on the homefront was lost on no-one, despite leadership’s decree. After he asked around Kamek quickly found that none of the Navy commanders remained; all of them had been attendance at the terrible battle of Black Bay. From those who did stick around, however, he got only puzzled looks when he mentioned either Brineybeard or the cats. Something like that, it would appear, did not register as something important enough for practically anyone to note. Thus, it fell to Kamek himself to try and sort through the proverbial haystack. Just where would a portly middle-aged pirate, fresh off a harrowing battlefield, end up?

Taking a leaf out of his king’s modus operandi, the mage followed his stomach rather than his head for once, and set a course for the Drowning Wench.

Embedded within the tallest tower of Limsa Lominscuttle Town Kamek found the inn just as he left it in the morning, albeit patronized by a decent lunch crowd. All kinds of workers, from fishers to builders to guards, had finished their first shifts and dropped by in small groups for a hearty meal before buckling down for the rest of the workday. The redheaded waitress sashayed to and fro carrying drinks and dishes, while a droopy-faced musician provided ambiance in hopes of a little generosity. Kamek swept over every face in search of a scruffy black beard and bright red nose. And just when his search had gone on about long enough to give up, he found them.

Brineybeard sat by himself in a comfortably dim, candle-lit corner. For everything he'd been through he appeared to be in pretty good shape, at least physically. His expression, however, was as dark and stormy as the high seas, and his eyes were almost as cloudy as the foamy, pitch-black contents of the mug before him. In a rather understandable turn of events, the good captain had elected to deal with nearly dying in naval warfare with the help of a stiff drink or three.

The mage sighed with relief, to see the man yes, but also because it meant that he’d finally reached the end of his round trip. He weaved his way through the tables, broom handle clicking against the tiled floor of the tavern, and made his way to where the man was drinking. Kamek didn't know what it was exactly, but whatever it is was numbing the shock of having almost died. The Mage found it was better to just get used to that sort of thing, though never enough to get sloppy. He was pretty sure everyone who wound up getting stomped for Bowser’s schemes ended up feeling the same way.

He coughed politely to get the man’s attention and then asked ”Mind if I take a seat?”

Although Kamek had not been part of the pirate’s crew, Brineybeard recognized him from the brief time in which he saw the Magikoopa in the battle, and gestured for his visitor to sit down. “Wha’ happened?” he croaked, more than a little inebriated already. “Make it out okay? What about...hic! Wha’bout Shippy?”

The mage cringed a little, but then hid the expression as he sat down opposite the man ”We’re fine. She’s fine. Mainly worried about you. We made it out of the battle in one piece and headed up the river we were aiming for. Stopped for a break, which is why I had time to come and try and find you” Kamek told him, before asking ”what happened on your end? No one saw it, so it was only a hunch that brought me back here” he explained, leaving out the bad hunches he’d made that had resulted in the rest of his round trip.

The news that everyone was okay, including his wayward vessel, set Brineybeard's worries to rest. He let out an enormous breath that he must have been unconsciously holding for a while, and slid down a bit in his chair. "Hooh…thanks be," he sighed, suddenly looking mighty weary. "Well, fer me, I felt somethin' hit the ship below me. Must've been a cannonball, smashed clear through me cabin. Went flyin' in a hurricane o' wood chips 'n hit the water, barely awake. Somethin' touches me 'n next thing I know a crew of walkin' cats dumps me 'ere." He held up his hands to signify his confusion, nearly spilling some brew in the process, then quaffed another mouthful.

”Yes it is rather odd, but apparently our Ace Cadet is familiar with them. Don’t suppose you know where they went? Would be nice to meet the people who helped us out. Also was it right here, in this establishment?” Kamek asked. A cat based rescue system, he mused, how strange and useful. Mushrooms would have made more sense, but Cats? Very odd. Still, best not to look a gift yoshi in the mouth. Or ever really, if you didn't want to end up with egg on your face. Or in an egg.

Brineybeard wiped the foam from his lips with the back of his hand and shook his head. “No, not as much as a whisker.”

”Bother” Kamek replied, sighed, and then shrugged, ”well we’ll see if we meet them again, though to an extent I hope we won't. You, ah, seem pretty shaken up by the whole thing?.” he said, before asking/offering ”do you want to talk about it?”

At that Brineybeard scoffed. “Yarr, I ain’t some lily-livered landlubber! If everyone’s still kickin’, ye best be leavin’ me t’me cups here, and I’ll get along just fine.” It was too soon, it seemed, for the koopa to connect with the captain.

”Fair enough” the mage leaned back with a shrug ”Speaking of them, anything you want me to bring back with me? Can’t bring you with me” he imagined that would be something of a relief and, to be frank, in this state he wouldn't exactly want the captain on board. Jr’s paintings wouldn't work either, because they needed an iconic location to work with and the forest, while stunning, where to large
to really get a good painting of an exact, and unique, location inside them ”, but I imagine they’d like to hear something from you. A letter or just words perhaps?” Proof that the captain was alive, not that he’d lie about that sort of thing.

Probably.

“A message…?” Despite his affected lucidity, the former pirate tried to concentrate. “Just...just t’be wary out there. It’s a cruel sea, and I don’t be cut out for it anymore. But take care of Shippy. Ol’ tub’s as good a companion as...hic! ...As I could ever ask.”

”We’ll make sure of it. This has been a learning experience of that, that is for certain. We won't be caught flat footed like that again.” Kamek assured him, and himself. They’d need to take more care, but they were also better prepared thanks to all the fusion they’d gotten up too since. ”She’ll appreciate the concern I’m sure, though maybe I’ll leave the ‘old tub’ part eh?”

”Well, it's been good to see you, but i should be getting back. I think there was going to be cooking going on, and I’d rather not miss the result.” Kamek concluded, pushing himself out of the chair, preparing to head out.

Brineybeard nodded, and took another swig from his cup. “Good luck out there, matey. I’ll be makin’ sure there’s a proper celebration awaiting ye when ye return.”

”I’ll let people know, it’ll be something to look forward to” he said with a smile, before bidding the man farwell ”Have a good day.”

The mage stepped away from the table and wandered his way through the crowds till he found a bit of space before taking to the skies on his broom and vanishing in a puff of smoke




Back at the lake Bowser was not done with Mr L, not even one bit. There was no way he was leaving the man’s vitriol unanswered

”So yeah, maybe I do fail sometimes. But unlike Cackletta, Smithy and a whole lot of other chumps. I’m. Still. Here. I’m still standing when every other coin store villain who tries to take over the mushroom kingdom takes one little setback and runs off with their tails between their legs never to be seen again. You definitely can't talk because...” he retorted

Then Bowser paused and then barked out a laugh at a realization he’d just had before laying down the hard truth at Mr L’s feet

”But you know it looks like someone missed a memo. Well I guess you would, seeing as you weren't about for the grand finale. Spoilers’ your oh so great boss got back-stabbed by a clown and then I crushed both him, a mind controlled green stash and the chaos heart easy as pie. Then that sad hatted man wandered off into the sunset so he could date one of Mario's infinitely replaceable floating sidekicks or something and left all his minions adrift without him. Looks like you mattered least of all out of all of them, because no one even bothered to tell you he retired.” he told L, jabbing the thief in the chest with a gloved claw to drive the point home.

”So don't give lip, chump, or you’ll regret it.”




“That does sound fun.” Rika replied when she got Peach’s attempt at explaining what all of the inland was like “but I mean the sea isn't all the same. There’s currents and little islands and it's real different out in the deep than it is near stuff and, well, if you think that's all the same then everything in here must be super all over the place huh. Wow.”

Needless to say Rika was hyped, and the land did not disappoint. The forest was even more beautiful inside than it was, full of streams and bushes and trees and a thousand and one other new and exciting thing. The former Abyssal had to keep being reminded that they had a mission as she kept stopping to inspect things or marvel at the view. The walking was a little tiring though, so Rika was extra happy when the princess remembered she could rid the waves and soon they were skimming around on the various waterways weaving through the forest.

This being the first time she’d really been able to get at it since she changed, the girl found that being a ship girl squared had its benefits as both abyssal and azure navel locomotion combined to let her race across the freshwater with elating speed and grace.

The place they ended up was an excellent finale to their exploration, a pool filled with the most beautiful sapphire waters the girl had ever seen and, floating in the middle, two giant succulent and delicious looking fruits. Apparently Peach had played something called “mario party” on this and, lacking context for that or much of anything really Rika didn't think it was weird at all.

“That’s cool. What's a Mario Party?” she asked, her new mind ever curious.

After that they scooted up onto the island and got to chopping up some fruit for transport. Rika at first tried hacking at it with the bayonet on her new rifle gauntlet, but quickly hanged over to her hull blades, the thick heavy robo arm mounted weapons chopping through the flesh of the fruit like a pair of heavy cleavers with absolutely 0 effort from the girl herself. There was only a slight problem she found as she hauled up two bundles of pineapple and watermelon sticks under her arms and rested them on the tops of her gun turrets, and that was that the juices of the fruit were getting everywhere.

“Oh. well. That's sticky. Hope it doesn't mess up my gear” she said talking around a carrot sized stick of pineapple she was chewing through, not realizing till later that it was her cloths she should be most worried about.




A little later the team of ladies returned to the campsite to find that they now had lots of bananas as well, and a whole heap of fish which she saw nothing weird with at all.

”Hey Rika!”

She also found Jr, who had been roused from slumber by the smell of cooking. Indeed for what had been a rather impromptu stop the gang sure had settled in, and who could blame them. The trip had been rough so far, and was likely to only get rougher. They deserve a… Whatever meal this was. Lunch? Second breakfast? She realized she had no idea what time it was and only a vague understanding of how you organised meals. It didn't really matter, the smell of cooked fruits and fish where enough for everyone to set aside such concerns and just dig in.

Rika sat down with the others where they were around the camp/cooking fire and, unaware that the fish were weird looking ended up eating a finny one.

“Oh wow that's. Pretty intense. Not sweet? Uh. bite-y?” she lacked the words or culinary expertise to describe the pungent and smoky flavor of the weird fish. Then she tried to combine it with some watermelon and found out exactly why Link had failed to find a good fruit+fish dish.

”try washing the taste out with water or something” jr suggested after having a laugh at her expense, having decided (alongside Mimi and Tyrant who where sitting with him) to stick to fruit after the two less than pleasant descriptions of the fish based food.

It was Blazermate, who as a machine didn't get to enjoy the food part of their break and who was definitely getting bored based on the antics of her zombies, who brought their attention to the issue of what they were doing next.

”Keep heading for the bottomless ocean I guess?” jr said

“First we need to get past that living ship” Rika pointed out

”Living ship?” Jr asked, and then when it was pointed out for him asked ”why don't we just shoot it?”

“Well we didn't when it was attacking that Mr L guy, Bowser just blasted it with water till it went away”

”He did?” that was unusual, and considering he’d woken up to find his dad roasting some Luigi look alike, with words admittedly, he didn't seem to have been too affected by his fusion as far as Jr was concerned. Maybe he was wrong about that? ”Well I guess we just do that again if it gets aggressive?”

A few moments after that Kamek reappeared above them, having returned from his long distance trip.

”Good news everyone, Brinybeard is alive. I found him in Limsa Lominscuttle, though I did not find the cats. Seems they like to run off after delivering people.” He declared them as he landed, getting a cheer from Rika and an ”oh cool” from Jr in response to his news.

”He seemed a little down but was otherwise ok and said for us to, ehe hem, ‘be wary out there. It’s a cruel sea, and I’m not cut out for it anymore.’ also to ‘Take care of Shippy. Old tu… old girls as good a companion I could ever ask’” he added, relaying Brinybear’s words mostly unfiltered before adding ”Oh also that he’d make sure that there’d be a ‘proper celebration’ for when we get back” and that got a cheer out of Jr.

”Now then, please tell me you’ve left something for me to eat I am famished” he finished, before eagerly taking a helping of all of the various fruit dishes on offer, giving his compliments to the chef after savoring each one.

Magic was hungry work after all.

Once he’d had his fill he popped off a message via moogle to Vandham to update him on the situation, and to send someone to notify the Houndmaster as well, just to let them both know if they were curious and so that they didn't need to keep an eye out any more.

wordcount: 6,835 (+3)
Midna: level 4 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////// (32/40)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Al Mamoon



Location: Sandswept Sky - Al Mamoon
Level: (5/20) -> (8/20)
Word Count: 6,835 (+3)


There were no further additions to be made to the plan, and so after Midna and Sectonia taught the wolfos to cooperate with one of the ant creatures, the rescue party was sent off and the remaining heroes gathered up onto the train and set off once more.

Red was overall content that people were agreeing with her and not giving her any shit for refusing to help out. She was perfectly happy letting the queen and the princess handle this situation with their minions. Though she had to practically restrain herself from opening fire at the strange looking wolf Midna summoned. She still got that fight or flight response anytime she saw a wolf, and typically that reaction was fight. But pissing off a group of strangers with heavy assortments of weird powers and abilities was not good for her health, so she held back reluctantly. But that didn’t stop her from occasionally keeping an eye on Midna afterwards, although sitting next to her on the train wasn’t intentional.

The Princess found herself watching the horizon behind them as they sped off, observing as her mount and the team of magical minions setting off into the desert together on their one adventure, as if she would be able to spot them succeeding so soon after heading off. In short order both they and the great pit were left in the dust however, and so she turned her attention to the occupants of the passenger cart and found herself sitting next too…

”I don't think we’ve been introduced?” she said to the red hooded woman who had joined the party while the princess was sneaking around the village. Masked by a bandana mimicking a thousand fanged maw and armed with a brutal axe that was more blade than handle and a pistol of some kind she had an intimidating look, let down only by the fact that she was surrounded by people who regularly bent the elements and reality itself to their own destructive ends.

”I’m Midna” she guessed the woman wouldn't care for royal titles, ”What’s your name? And deal while we’re at it”

The red cloaked girl looked down at the figure of the smaller woman sitting next to her. Apparently her name was Midna apparently, and she wasn’t there when Red first introduced herself. “Don’t really have a name anymore, but back home I got called Little Red Riding Hooded Mercenary. But they suck at naming things sometimes so just call me Red.” She considered the best way to answer her second question for a moment. There were a lot of different ways she could answer this and still be truthful.

“I’m a wandering mercenary,” she started after deciding this would be the easiest way to go about it. “I’ll take just about any job for the right price while I look for info on a personal target of mine from my world. And your group here seems like it’ll be a perfect opportunity to explore this world and try to track him down so I’ll help ya out along the way. Seems like you all are more familiar with this world than me and like you have some bigger purpose.” After explaining her own situation a bit to Midna she decided to turn the question back around on her. “So what’s your deal then? You and this ragtag group you’re in. Doesn’t seem like you're all from this world either.”

”That really is a mouthful, Red is much nicer,” she agreed, though the entire context surrounding the giving of it raised so many other questions. They could wait though, it would be rude not to answer the woman’s own.

Not that it was an easy one. Apparently no one had tried to fill her in much before now, though then again when had there been the time?

”and no, I suppose you could say we aren't from this world. Most people don't notice that though.” something about the nature of her home world was letting her grasp around the edges of the nature of this one, which was interesting and, possibly, helpful. ”Don’t suppose the name Galeem means anything to you? Doesn’t really matter if not.” how to explain that if she didn't, Midna wondered. Patterns. She’d been thinking a lot about patterns recently. Stories too, and there was a straightforward one here that she could tell that might be able to slip most of the truth past the sun made blind spot.

”There's a sleeping evil, a destroyer of worlds, protected by thirteen guardians scarred across the land. We, along with a whole bunch of other people, are hunting down those guardians, gathering powers, weapons and allies as we go, so that in the end we can take the fight to Galeem and end them before they can do any more harm. That whole being from different worlds thing you noticed? All them.” she explained in abstract

Red was completely taken aback when she heard the absolute scale of what was going on. This really was on the scale of multiple worlds like she had assumed. This strange being named Galeem apparently was the cause of it too. “Huh… didn’t expect that, I’m gonna be honest with you. An assorted group of heroes from other worlds trying to save the world.” She honestly couldn’t help but laugh a little at the absurdity of her statement.

“Not that I’m too concerned. Still better than my world, and I get to kill some really tough targets. I think I’ll definitely stick with you guys then. See what I can do against that Galeem thing whatever it is while I’m here.” She cracked her knuckles as if she was ready to get to work already. “How many of these guardians you mentioned have been defeated? Just so I can see the progress so far.” She didn’t really understand anything about this ‘Galeem’ but she had an assumption. There’s only one being with holy light like that and had anything akin to guardians. White Night, an angelic and godly being that turned employees into horrific beasts called apostles. It was the only thing that fit the bill and had enough power to bring her to a weird place like this.

”Just like that?” Midna was a little surprised how easy that had been. Then again her last attempt had been with Crow who, all things considered, was a bit of an outlier, so she shrugged of her own bit of surprise and said ”We’ll be glad to have you onside

”So there's three down so far” Midna (incorrectly) informed her ”and we’re working on number four here, who should be at the top of the mountain” there was absolutely no need to clarify as to which mountain ”while another group are working on number five down by (or maybe in) the ocean to the south west. So we’ve made a start at it, but there's still plenty more targets for you to test your metal against”

”Also that's the second time you’ve mentioned your world in not so favorable terms. What’s it like, if that isn't a difficult question and if you don't mind me asking?”

Red just shrugged at her new acquaintances' surprise. “It’s not my first rodeo dealing with time and space altering bullshit. Nothing really surprises me that much anymore.”

The mercenary listened intently to the intel she was being given. She really was treating this like she was taking another job. Only this time the payment was the thrill of the fight against otherworldly beings she wasn’t familiar with. Sounded like a good deal to her. “Oh, there’s so much I could tell you about that hellhole.” Red said with a bit of a dry laugh. She’d seem quite a bit of the horrors in the world before getting stuck inside that facility. “There’s 25 corporations called the Wings that control most everything and then the Head that controls all of them. Each corporation has some special unique thing called a Singularity, like W Corp and their warp technology. Their trains can get you just about anywhere in only ten seconds. Each Corp has a Nest, basically a city under their control where life is normal and dreary. Outside of the privileged Nests are the Backstreets. Criminals, gangs, just about anything goes out there. I won’t go into too much detail but there’s a lot of death out there. And even worse shit like unnatural monsters the farther out you go.”

Red looked around a little suspiciously and started speaking a little quieter. “The worst wing was Lobotomy Corp though. L Corp captured monsters called Abnormalities and somehow created energy from them. That’s where I was stuck before I wound up here. Luckily my target was there too so we got to duke it out every so often, and I got to fight some really weird creatures too so it wasn’t all bad.” Realizing she had probably rambled on for a little bit too long she leaned back and settled down. “But anyway, you don’t look like you’re human either. Where are you from?” She asked, feeling it was only fair that she get some info in return for what she shared.

”That does sound pretty messed up” she didn't know what a cooperation, but given the state of the world they were in control of the must be some kind of evil organization. Or they were barely in control and just incomptent supremely. or both.

”I’m a Twili.” she replied when asked what she was ”Or was. I got cursed and turned into an imp and then I’ve taken on the spirit of a very tall woman and a dragon since then so I don’t exactly look like one any more. Used to be tall, slender, grey skin, lovely orange hair, actual... You know” she vaguely indicated to her everything.

Rather than linger on what she’d lost physically she moved on to what she'd lost emotionally ”and the Twili like me, we’re from the realm of twilight. It’s a realm of floating islands in a perpetually dark void where the only real light is that created by magical Sols. It sounds dreary I know I know, but it’s actually pretty nice. We’ve got moving platforms and teleporters and we’ve made a decent and comfortable life for ourselves there. Our ancestors got sent there from Hyrule which is a world more like this… well there is a desert but that's not the main part. Sunshine and grass and humans and so on. Pretty sure it wasn't ring shaped though. Also no secret monster energy places in either of those, as far as I know. Pretty sure Zelda wouldn't condone that, and I certainly wouldn't back at home either. I’m not sure how you’d even turn a moblin into power without making it run on a wheel or something like that. That would be cruel, even if they are dangerous raiders.”

Minda halted her musings and looked over the woman and realized something she hadn't picked up on originally ”So. Wait. You said I ‘don’t look like you’re human either’ and that they locked you up with the, well, the monsters. So does that make you an ‘Abnormality’ then?” she asked, before scrunching up her face like the word had been responsive in her mouth and saying ”Ech, that is a ugly thing to call a person... But what does it mean?”

“Damn, sounds like you got put through the wringer little lady. What even happened to get cursed like that?” Red said with a little bit of sympathy for Midna. “Sounds like both you and your realm were rather beautiful though. Despite the lack of light you mentioned, that sounds like a sight to see. Even though I have no idea what you mean by taking on a spirit. Is that some special power your race has or something?” It was probably increasingly obvious by now that the poor mercenary had literally no idea about anything of this weird world.

She laughed a bit as Midna finally came to the conclusion that Red was in fact not a human. “Yup, I’m an Abnormality. One of those monsters. Though it’s hard to really explain what it means other than… we’re not normal. An assortment of creatures, people and objects that just can’t be explained and produce large amounts of power. Some might call me lucky that I retained this much of myself, after all some of them are mindless beasts with nothing left inside of them.” It was surprisingly hard trying to explain the concept of abnormalities considering it was practically commonplace for her. “Some were humans at one point, some are objects that were created, and some were just born that way. But each and every one is unique and horrifying, so let’s hope I’m the only one that made its way to this world. Even though I’d love to hunt that wolf down while I’m here.”

”I got elected to be the Princess of Twilight, but one of the other claimants, Zant, decided to make a deal with our world's most ancient evil to take the kingdom by force. Then he turned me into an imp and banished me to Hyrule. Then he invaded Hyrule, which was a big mistake because in the long run it let me get back home and kill both him and his benefactor. That was the first time it happened. Second time this bitch called Cia tore time apart and, probably because she saw it happen the first time around due to being a guardian of time before going crazy, thought that for some reason doing it again would stop me from stopping her. Didn’t work for Zant, didn't work for Cia either, though I didn't have time to work out how to undo it the second time around before, well, this whole Galeem thing” she explained the history of her form. Considering the way she’d gotten out of it the first time was dying and being resurrected... Spirit absorption was maybe a safer option.

Speaking of which, Red needed filling in on those too.

”As for spirits, that's part of the whole Galeem deal. Anything that dies here leaves behind a spirit. A little glowing mote which you can see what it used to be. You might remember seeing the robots leaving those? You can use them to gain power. Put one in your head for wisdom, heart for power, crush it for weapons or make a ‘deal’ with it to bring it back for a few moments to aid you in a fight in person. It’s strange, it can mess with your mind a little and your body a fair bit (I didn't always have a tail) and your clothes a lot, but hey. Power’s power.” she clicked her fingers and ignited them with a dragon claw for a moment, before dissipating it again.

”Sectonia used one since you met her. She didn't always have that hat or the, ah, mouth” she pointed out as an example of the possible transformation ”and she can slow down or speed up time in a localized area now because of it.”

”They’d probably call all my people abnormalities,”she commented when told about what an abnormality was ”our ancestors used to be human before getting gradually warped by/adapting to the Twilight realm, though we don’t have any kind of innate power... other than magic I guess?” it was mundane to her, but maybe not to those people. The interloper's blood certainly ran strong with the stuff.

”As for if the ones you're worried about, and the one you want, are here, well, there's all sorts of things here so there's a possibility, but there also isn’t nearly enough space for everything to have ended up on this world going simply by the sheer amount of worlds stuff seems to be drawn from. It would take this train… two or three weeks, to go round the whole thing if it was able too? I’m guessing. It’s hard to tell how far we’ve traveled, but this desert is about an eight to a tenth of what we know exists? There’s a map, but it’s vague and we don't have a copy. Maybe we can find another one or I can sketch from memory for you some time?” She suggested.

Then she asked ”So what does being an... so what can you do?”

Red actually listened very intently to Midna’s story about her past. Everything about it was so magical and fantastical compared to what she was used to. After all, even the ‘magical’ things she encountered ended up being equally as horrifying as everything else. But this seemed more like an amazing adventure. “Hell yeah, sounds like you absolutely taught them a lesson for pulling that shit on you. I can respect that. Though to be honest I didn’t take you for a princess at all.” After realizing how rude that could possibly sound she quickly corrected herself. “Not that I mean that in a bad way. You’re just definitely on the cooler end of rulers I’ve met, I’m used to them being pretentious or not caring like that one back in Parnasse.”

”Don’t worry, I’ll take that as a compliment” Minda told her, waving off Red’s concern about having upset her breezily.

Though the topic of spirits started getting her extremely excited. If she wasn’t wearing that mask she’d probably be looking giddy. “I did notice she looked different but at this point I wasn’t gonna question it.” Her mind was already racing with ideas of how effective this could be for her. She could have an arsenal of weapons from enemies she defeats, or enhance her own powers quite a bit with fusion. She was already thinking of what she’d look like if she absorbed the spirits of some things back home. Or even getting a hand on those weapons employees got from Abnormalities. She had so much potential to be an even more effective killing machine.

When they got back to the subject of the state of the world and the team's current progress she was extremely attentive. It seems a lot from each of their worlds got left out in creating this world, especially since it seemed this world wasn’t crazy large from Midna’s statement though she’d want to verify that herself. “We can get that sorted out at some point. I haven’t left the desert yet so I’m curious what else there is.”

“Well unfortunately I don’t have any super crazy powers like some of them do, can’t turn into a laser shooting dragon or teleport or possess people or any of that shit.” Red said as she started trying to explain her abilities. “But I can still keep up with and hunt down a decent amount of those things. I guess it’d be easier to show you…” Suddenly an idea struck her, after all she hadn’t had a decent fight since she got here. “How about a little sparring match once we get there? We’ll be in a place we can rest afterwards and it’ll let me really show what I can do. Plus I’d love to see just how strong that fusion can make you.”

”That. Is an excellent idea” a perfect opportunity to free her too, Midna thought to herself ”Going by all those powers you don't have but the things you’ve dealt with do, it’s going to be a very interesting to get a feel for how you fight.” The old Midna might not have been so up for putting herself in range of that nasty looking axe, but the two new bits of her? Oh an honorable duel style sparring match was right up their alley.

”and we’ll see if you can handle me Red” she concluded, giving a grin that was a little cocky but mostly playfully teasing




The rest of the trip passed without much incident and was filled by light chatter that was entertaining but not particularly enlightening in any way. There was a lovely little stop at a glacial melt oasis, who’s waters were refreshingly cool and pure. A welcome break from the desert before they rode off again, though not before tora acquired a round bird creature as a pet. Mostly the stop made Minda happy that those that had fallen out would have somewhere closer than the city proper to walk to to get food and refreshment.

Before too long they set out again and, after another trip through the dry desert, their destination came into view. A walled city topped by stunning azure (and less stunning green) domes which seemed to have a thing for cow horns. And bells. A bit on the nose. Midna wondered where they kept the actual cows and concluded it was probably round the back as they rolled towards the Town.

”Looks like an actual normal looking city. Now that’s not something I’ve seen yet.” Midna commented, hanging out one of the windows and taking it all in. ”Oh. And it’s probably that one on the map. Means we’re most of the way through the desert” she noted

They rolled in through a gap in the wall without much fanfare, parked the train in a yard which had numerous more beefy and less fantastical trains inside. Those might be handy later, Minda noted, but for now they all disembarked off of their own train, ready to hit the town.

Poppie was all business, wanting to get them to find what was on the road ahead of them as they approached the mountain, and if there was any way to get there. Not a simple task.

Minamoto meanwhile wanted to find a way to fix his sword, something of a big deal seemingly, seeing as he insisted on kneeling before their little condoctore friend when asking about a smith.

”Just remember you’re going to need money for that even if you can find one. For much of anything really. Someone should go see if they can pawn some of our spare items for rupees. Or whatever they use for currency here. See if they accept that paper stuff, but I doubt it.” Midna suggested, not having much fat in a currency that didn’t glitter.

”As for me, well, still up for our match Red?” she asked the hooded woman who she’d picked up a rapport with on the train. It had been one of the more pleasant ones she’d had with the group and she was excited to see what she was made of.

This wasn’t Red’s first trip to Al Mamoon so it wasn’t a shock for her like it was for the others. She even knew her way around town a bit, seeing as she stayed here a couple days before setting off on her mission in Parnasse. “Oh you know I am.” If her face was visible she’d be smirking. She’d been longing for a good fight for a while now. “Technically I should be reporting my success to the ruler of this place, but this seems like a much better use of my time right now.”

The two of them made their way over to the local guard barracks. Red had ‘borrowed’ their training grounds before to make sure her aim wasn’t getting rusty and that seemed like the perfect place for their little match. She stood on the other side of the grounds from her opponent, twirling the blade around in her hand before preparing herself. Opting not to use the gun for now until she ascertained her training partner’s strength. “Ready when you are.”

”How nice of you. One moment then ” The princess floated down onto the ground opposite her, stretched out her arms to crack her knuckles and then unexpectedly did a little dance, fiery and with much foot stomping and tails winging. It was rather awkward without any music, but it also lasted for only four seconds, and then the princess exploded with a flash of purple light that imploded back in towards the princess in a heart beat, surrounding her in an aura of dragon energy.

With the last step of the dance the princess took up a fighting pose as a shadow hand, a massive orange glowing arm) formed out of her twintails using the power of the gilded helmet she wore and flexed and made a fist above her head. Someone was putting on a bit of a show.

”Let’s dance!” she declared, before driving that fist down towards Red in a meteoric punch.

Tilting her head in a bit of confusion as she watched her opponent do… a weird little dance? It looked kinda awkward and weird but then she suddenly burst with a weird purple energy. “I have no idea what that was, but now I’m even more excited!” She was finally getting a picture of what kind of magical things her opponent was capable of.

She got quite a bit overconfident and decided to use her weapon to try and block the giant punch coming her way and was quickly knocked onto her ass in response. “Alright, maybe I underestimated you…” she picked herself off the ground and glared right at Midna with her one eye. “I won’t let that happen again.” Quickly running towards her opponent she prepared to try and duck under another punch while trying to slash with her axe. Hoping to follow it up with a swift kick to Midna’s side.

Just as she’d planned, Midna’s second blow, after she’d reeled in the first, sailed over her head. The princess’s eye went wide in surprise, but she didn’t fail to react, pivoting to the side to take the blade blow on her shoulder guard grunting with pain from the raw impact but being spared its bite.

She didn't handle the kick as well however, the huntress’s blow knocking the lighter Twili away. Using her levitation and one of the spaulder’s powers she slowed, corrected and stabilized the launch and used it to gain distance instead of hitting the deck. As she flew she thrust an arm out, opening a small portal out of which a blast of sand that sang as it flew shot out towards her foe, the princess trying to dissuade Red from immediately following up on her blow, before landing and skidding to a halt.

Her feet steady again, she lashed out with her shadow hand once more, bringing it round in a lower sweeping claw swipe, complete with glowing purple talons on the tips of the hand.

Unfortunately for Red she was stopped by a blast of strange sand that caused her to cover her face as she tried to chase after her opponent. Even that still stung her face as it flew by. She was finishing rubbing the sand out of her eye when she saw the draconic claw coming at her from below. She barely had time to jump over it and potentially leaving herself vulnerable but deciding to try something different. On her way down she tried to bring her axe down on the shadow hand and see if it was vulnerable.

The blow hit the hand down into the ground, staggering Midna’s recovery from the swing, but the blow itself left no mark, the hit either being absorbed or the damage done to the energy limb being repaired so rapidly that it looked invulnerable. Rather than pull it back for another swing, the princess instead made to snatch Red up in the hand’s grasp, its claws dulled and gone but grip likely to be strong.

Without much time to recover Red was swiftly snatched up by the shadow hand. Thankfully Midna wasn’t squeezing too hard, either that or those claws weren’t as sharp as she assumed, but try as she might to thrash in it’s grip it didn’t let go. It was starting to make her just a little bit mad.

While it might have been logical to simply crush Red, like she had tried with Crow, the fact that that hasn't worked the first time on the scoundrel, and the fact that it wasn't very sportswoman like (or really because Minda was enjoying herself to much to consider trying to end things so cheaply so soon), meant that instead of squeezing the hand whipped round the princess's head and then tossed Red across the sandy sparring arena.

Being tossed was certainly not a fun experience for Red and because of the sandy texture of the arena she struggled catching herself and slipped in the process, causing her to hit the ground with a thud. She looked a little disoriented before her head shot up and glared at Midna as a red aura surrounded her and her rage became active. “Looks like the kid gloves are coming off!” Midna was about to find out the hard way that even in friendly matches Red had a bit of a competitive streak.

With her speed and strength both enhanced Red ran at her opponent again. Charging at her again she went for a feint with her blade from the side and instead attempted to deliver a knee to Midna’s stomach. Normally she would be going for the neck or more hits with her blade, but despite the inherent anger of her power she was still having fun.

The hand came out again, making a grab for the blade as it came in, but only managed to do a palm block before the knee was driven towards Midna’s gut. She instinctively blocked it with what she had, which was her arms, but her form wasn't exactly great or practiced and so it still hurt like hell as she was driven back, her forearms and gut bruised by the empowered blow.

”Goddesses” she swore between her teeth. Now that Red had pulled out some of the stops she was slightly regretting picking a fight without her mount at hand. Well. the permanent one. Sand blasted out from portals again as she tried to buy time to gain ground. That wasn't all though, as a far larger portal opened beside her and her Vibrava flew out. The princess grabbed one of its legs as it ascended, pulling her up into the air, before sending it careening down again while she drifted down to land on the ground further away while her minion attacked.

The Vibrava landed hard, its large size making its path easy enough to predict and dodge but when it did strike the earth it shook the ground, bulldozing the sand outwards from the impact site. Then it dropped into another portal a heartbeat later.

As typical of her when she got into this state Red elected to ignore the sand beating down on her to the best of her abilities. Pushing through it way faster than before. Even still it slowed her down enough to where her attempted attack missed as Midna got pulled up into the air. “Damn it, you have a lot more tricks than I thought you did.” Seeing as she was living for the thrill of the battle once again she was not too focused on dodging and tried to charge straight at the pokemon that was barreling down at her which unfortunately caused her to get thrown back. While it definitely hurt to get hit by a move like that she was able to land surprisingly well. With her minion gone her eyes turned back to Midna. Red threw the axe at her foe and ran behind it. Attempting to hit Midna with a right hook and following it up with another kick, this time aimed at the face. All in all this was actually really good practice for Red’s hand to hand combat.

As it was for Midna, who slammed her shadow hand down in-front of her to block the axe and the, rather than try and brawl with the woman, used the hand’s palace on the ground to haul herself by the back of the head, hand grip light the sand as she punted herself over red. Drawing the hand back in as she flew she used her actual hands to blast more sand down on top of her. Ineffectual as an eye attack, but that didn't matter. The rest of the sand she’d previously dropped flew towards red as well, forming a localized sandstorm around red as the princess landed behind her.

”These aren't tricks Red, this is Magic!” she declared as she thrust a hand out and opened another portal, this time sending the Wolfos who wasn't currently traipsing through the desert charging towards the woman. The beast, who thanks to Midna’s magic was briefly increased to the size of a healthy rhinoceros, leapt towards the Huntress, jaws wide and with its tongue hanging out one side.

A lot of things happened in Red’s mind all at once. First off she thought it was pretty interesting how Midna decided to dodge her attack. Basically using the hand to pull herself out of the way. Second she thought all of this sand was getting really, really annoying as she struggled to pull herself out of all of it that got dropped onto her before it all got whipped around in a massive sandstorm. And third, she saw the jaws of a massive wolf coming at her. And her mind stopped for a split second. Everything about this fight went completely out the window, this wasn’t a friendly match for Red anymore. All she saw was the Wolf.

She was only immobile for a split second before adrenaline pumped through her veins and she unholstered the gun in a swift movement before pouring several bullets in the wolf's direction before charging at it as well. She dodged to the side of the creature’s jaws and running the blade along the side of the wolf. Screaming at the top of her lungs the entire time. She turned around, charging at the wolf again, jumping and trying to bring the axe down on its neck. “I’LL HAVE YOUR HEAD!!” It’s like she almost completely forgot Midna was involved in this fight.

The wolf had collapsed, and lay on its side where it had fallen after taking the racking blow, it’s flank bloody with a silvery glowing icor while the mask set atop its snout was pockmarked with bullet holes. Yet before the final blow could be struck, the same portal that had summoned it appeared below it, the heavy beast dropping into it and away from the executioner's blade with only a heartbeat to spare. Red’s axe instead cleaved into the sand and lodged within it.

”Goddesses. Red, are you ok?” came a concerned shout from behind her. Around her the sand whipping through the air and sanding her skin stilled and fell to the ground as Midna carefully approached Red as a friend rather than an opponent.

Before Red’s attack could land the wolf had simply vanished into a portal. Her axe slamming into the ground where the wolf’s neck had just been. But the angry look in her eyes had yet to subside. She started looking in every direction, pointing her gun wherever she was looking. He was doing it again, that tricky bastard was going to show up out of nowhere. But no wolf was found. The only target she could point her gun at was Midna. “Where is he?! I saw the Wolf, he must have followed me here! I swear that I’ll have his head hanging on a wall for what he’s done!” Red’s mind was far from reasonable right now. The only thing occupying her mind was thoughts of the Wolf.

”He isn’t here. That wasn't him it was just my wolfos” Midna tried to tell her, raising her hands in front of her non threateningly. She’d put two and two together relatively quickly it seemed, though what she didn't know was if this was all Red or if it was just the red in her eye that was causing this. ”It’s ok” she tried to assure Red, and then she flipped a coin and added ”your safe. He can’t hurt you here.”

“That was your…” Red started asking a question but stopped midway like she was confused. Her mind just couldn’t comprehend that she didn’t just see the wolf. Was her mind that corrupted by hatred? Or… did Midna help the Wolf? Her clouded mind thought that could be the only reasonable explanation. Just like when those stupid employees took her kill back in the facility, her rage had no outlet. And was unfortunately turned towards the nearest thing. Without any explanation she charged at Midna with her axe, no longer trying to keep the match friendly.

”oh Goddesses” Midna swore, rapidly summoning her shadow hand and grabbing the woman’s axe wielding arm with it. Praying that it was the red in her eyes and not Red herself causing this, the Princess darted/pulled herself in close, ignoring the risk of being kicked, or worse, shot, and stabbing her new friend in the gut with a dragon claw with one hand before pulling out and thrusting a friend heart at her with the other.

Red honestly hadn’t expected her to fully block the attack like that, she expected Midna to run away again. Before she could bring up her gun and react she was hit by a dragon claw to the stomach and she yelled in pain. “Ah you bi-” And her complaints were cut off by the use of the friend heart. It was like her mind cleared as Galeem’s influence slipped away. She fully remembered what had happened. Her escape from her cell because several other Abnormalities had escaped. The howl of the wolf signaling that things were going to hell. And the white light that she had originally assumed was the godly figure called White Night, but no. It turns out it was Galeem instead. And it was enough of a change to her system that her rage cleared as well and she stumbled backwards, before hitting the ground. She went to check on her wound but noticed it was completely healed. “How did… what did…” Red quickly realized what she had done. Let her anger get the best of her yet again and almost really hurt her new ally in the process. “Er, I’m uh… really sorry about all that.” She looked away out of a mixture of embarrassment and shame.

The princess, who had backed off a bit while the effect was ongoing, sighed in relief and dropped her guard. ”oh thank-” she began before coughing and starting again ”It’s fine” she lied, clearly a little shaken, ”one of the thing’s Galeem’s influence does, on top of the whole mental block that should have just cleared up, is make people have less self control and forces them to commit to a fight, a real fight, fully and to not consider stopping, which probably made that worse than it would have been.”

”and I’m also sorry too. I didn't know that would happen, but it was still my fault that it did” she apologized, mostly recovered from her shock as she floated up and towards Red again

”Are you going to be ok?” she asked, hovering to a stop before her.

“I’m sure that didn’t help, but that wasn’t the only thing that caused that.” Red said, shaking her head at the first part. “Thanks for knocking me out of that. I’m usually not too guilty about killing, but I think I might’ve actually felt bad if I hurt you too bad.” Red started brushing sand off of her clothes and picked herself up off the ground. “It’s not like you could’ve seen that coming. Not like I’m all that open about my wolf related trauma or anything.” She tried to joke to relieve the tension even though she wasn’t very good at it. “Yeah I’ll be fine. This has happened plenty of times before. If I ever get like that again just… the only thing that really works is beat some sense into me or let me wear myself out. And hopefully I’ll take it all out on enemies.” This situation just further resolved her desire to kill the wolf. That one day all of this can pass once he’s no longer a threat.

”That... ok” it wasn't really, but she could work with it ”I’ll make sure my wolfos keep their distance then.”

There was a tacit suggestion that she’d keep her distance too, Midna realized, and she did not like that because barring the last scare she’d been enjoying Red's company.

”Well then, that’s more than enough sparing for one day so um,” she said, giving her arms a stretch over her head while trying to think where to go from here. She paused half way through the stretch, did a little directionless point with both her fingers as she had an idea, and then asked ”want to go see if this place has ice cream?” she’d had some at the tower once and it seemed like the perfect thing to eat to beat the heat.

While she still had to report to the ruler of this town, Red felt like she needed to make it up to Midna. She didn’t expect to start getting close to anyone in this group but Midna seemed fairly interesting and was surprisingly accepting. Even despite everything that Red had just done. “Sure, doesn’t sound like a bad idea.” With that the two went off in search of food, and afterwards Red would have to make her way over to reporting to the Cowlipha, finally.



Light shone down on a grassy moor as a herd of goats voraciously mowed through it, little worn bells on strings around their necks chiming as they ate. The air was warm, the air clean, the land around them coated with life. In the distance a river could be heard running. There were humans here too. Some hacked at a nearby thicket with axes, felling the trees for firewood and tool making. A small troupe walked their way towards the sound of running water, hauling barrels. Others moved around the goats, hacking at the long untouched grass, using swords as scythes and tying bundles of the healthy plants together for transport. Scattered around them several more humans sat astride hulking horses which had feathered hooves, the manes of lions and great horns that would shame the noblest rhino. The riders had recurved composite bows held at the ready and their eyes were ever vigilant as they watched the idyllic landscape for anything that moved.



Above, dozens of spotlights shone down from an iron sky, illuminating the landscape and the great glowing portal that had let the humans and their animals in.

Not every portal was a monster box, ready to spew out horrors. Certainly a lot of them were, and those ones were a lot more obvious than the rest as they vomited their chaotic children into the world, but if you know what to look for there was opportunity to be found. Some lead to worlds that were simply strange and nonsensical. Lands of brass walls and clicking machines, endless hedge mazes, a palace where things fell up into the sky, tiny worlds made of a path that could be ridden around in a few minutes. Others, however, were sane. Normal. Useful.

Ish.

The nomads had learned quickly that nothing in these worlds could be trusted. But what other option was there? Their home was a barren wasteland slowly crumbling into nothing. The portals held the only usable land that could be found in the world, a bit temporarily.

So now, just as they had driven their herds from grassy plain to grassy plain when such things still survived, now they drove them from gateway to gateway. Those that had survived anyway. The goats' ability to eat almost anything had let them live where other beasts had slowly faded and to be slaughtered. Their otherworldly mounts had the same advantage, not only being able to consume practically anything seemingly they could feed off of magic itself, storing it inside rainbow hues half seen in the depths of their pale hair. They were suspiciously easy to tame too, if you were kind to them. But as the saying went, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when that horse felt like it could stare into your soul with its blind yet seeing eyes and you had to eat your old horse because it died of starvation.

The humans gathering the long grass and bundling it up were doing so so that it could be hauled back to the other side to feed their animals while they sought out the next gate. Those chopping up trees were doing so at a breakneck pace, hacking down only the best and easiest to haul wood so it could be taken home. The same went for the water bearers, filling their barrels and rolling them back to the gate quick as they could. Those were the safe jobs. Less safe was standing guard, done by the thin line of mounted archers, their eyes watching for anything that moved or seemed out of the ordinary, ready to stick an arrow into it if they could, or to warn the others and act as bait to transport to get the dismounted nomads back out of the gate.

Just because the moisteners hadn’t spewed out of the gate didn't mean there weren't any out there.

The most dangerous job, the one done only by foolish and daring volunteers, was going out there to find more valuable things beyond short reach of the gate. Water was key. Rivers were rarely close and needed to be found first and foremost, as they had done here. Raw metals or, rarely, strange artifacts were also highly prized, but ultimately non essential. Fruits, vegetables, game and other extra food that could be found was far more important.

Of course, in a strange and foreign world, who could tell what was and wasn't edible.

“Delicious fruit or deadly poison?” Vardan, an expert in these things as far as their tribe had experts in things everyone needs to know to avoid being turned into a fruit bat by the fruit they found, asked as he poked the bulbous spiny thing hanging from a tree with his profession’s now ubiquitous six foot long pole.

“It looks like a fruit to me” the youth, Jayce, who was accompanying him on one of these trips for the first time, commented. The pair were far out form the portal, the furthest anyone had gone, and they’d been out here alone for quite some time. So far everything had seemed safe, so the youth was growing a little impatient with their teacher’s supreme caution.

“You’d think that, but bright colors can either mean, ‘come eat me I’m tasty and have seeds in me’, or ‘don't eat I’ll kill you and I’m going to flaunt that fact by not bothering to hide’”

“How does poking it with the stick help find that out?” the youth asked

“Well it helps us find out if it explodes. Or rots things just by being nearby then. Or melts stuff that touches it. Or is aggressive” he explained, giving it another jab

“Aggressive?”

“Oh yes. Saw a fruit almost like this one a few layers back. Poked it with a stick and then it tried to eat the stick. Took a dozen arrows to take down that fruit and it nearly got Ardash in the process. Was pretty delicious though” with one final poke the man was satisfied. They’d already done the same with the tree and the ground around it, but even still he gave the grass a few more whacks with the stick as he carefully approached. You never could tell with these things, it could still be a trap.

Then, after giving the tree a few pokes too, he carefully climbed up and gave the fruit a sniff, then, carefully, touched the back of his and to it. After several more tests, including chucking one away from them in case they exploded or worse when agitated and then splitting one open to make sure the insides were not dangerous in other ways, he started cutting some down and dropping them for Jayce to collect.

“These smell delicious. They’re safe right?”

“We’ll need to test them further. Feed them to a beast last of all, before we eat them ourselves.”

The youth groaned

“this is how it is, Jayce. There was one tuber that passed all the tests and then the goat that ate it inside out remember?”

The youth looked sick at the memory and, conveniently, had their appetite ruined so they wouldn't be tempted by the fruit as they gathered it up in a sack. Once the last fruit fell and Vardan dropped down with it, quick as can be.

“You're doing good kid,” he said, clapping Jayce on the shoulder as they hefted the sack. “Now, lets have one last look around before heading back to test those. I’m thinking-” the man’s thoughtful scanning of the woods looking for a way to go was interrupted by a loud long sound. The sound of a horn.

“Shit” he cursed, before telling Jayce that “we move to move. Stat”

The youth did not need telling, or asking questions. The horn signals were drilled into everyone, the one that was sounding now most of all.

Together they hurried to where their mounts had been tied up, the pair of great equines had been grazing at the grass (the first thing they’d tested) but they too had learned that the sound of the horn meant it was time to move (they were too damn smart). With the ease of people who had been born in the saddle the pair mounted up and took off at speed and a short time later came bursting from the woods and into the plains separating them from the portal. A portal who’s edges were fraying and distorting.

It was about to collapse.

Ahead of them goats where benign quickly shooed through the portal as people dropped whatever they had collected. The nearby harvesters had already made it clear, or so it seemed and as they approached they could see the water bearers carrying either empty barrels or nothing as they too made it to the other side.

“Damn it. Why was it so late!” Vardan shouted angrily. There was hardly any time left, but there should also have been a fair warning that the gate was growing unstable that hadn't been given this time. “If we don’t get trapped here forever I am going to skin whoever was supposed to be watching the portal!”

Far ahead of them the last of the herd made it through. All except for two. Baying and bleating a bell-less buckling looked to have had its hoof trapped by something, and its mother was staying by its side, trying to uge it to pull it free to no avail. Without hesitation or thought, Jayce swung towards it

“Damn it kid no leave it!”

The youth slowed to grab the young goat by the horn, trying to haul it free. The beast flinched away but though their own might and the strength of their mount Jayce managed to pull it lose from the spot it was stuck at. Even then however it seemed to be unwilling to move, continuing to stay in place and bleat rather than run for the exit on its own or follow its mother there.

“Move you wretch!” Vardan demanded of the beast as he rode up and then smacked its rear with the end of his pole. The creature started forwards and, working together the youth and the man herded the goat towards the portal as its mother ran ahead.

The gateway rippled, light and magic sputtering off of its edges.

“Damn goat, we aren't going to make it!”

Then a blue glow wrapped itself around the edges of the gate, stabilizing it for a moment. It was all the time they needed as they ran through the gateway. Vardan sighed with relief and then prepared to yell out to the people he could see gathered at their camp, which was pitched a safe distance front he gateway, but his words died in his throat when his eyes took in the land he’d left behind only a few days ago to go explore the wilds of the Layer.

It was as if they’d rode back into an entirely different world. A light flashed across the sky, illuminating the world for the first time in an age. When it vanished a moment later behind a nearby mountain range dozens of smaller lights could be seen high up in a clearer sky and a great moon was setting, training a rainbow of colors in its wake. Storms arched across the land and rivers flowed from a mountain far away.

Oh also a mindbogglingly colossal eight sided shape coated in an ethereal glow was just sitting there in the air between them and their tribe's camp. Not only that it was looking down at the pair as they emerged from the gateway with a glowing unblinking eye. Verdan entirely understood why the horn had been late because who could remember their duties when faced with. Well. This.

”Hello there, you are Vardan and Jayce are you not?” the giant thing asked politely, somehow talking to them as if it was another person standing within casual conversing distance despite being both distant and titanic.

“I... Yes?” Verdan replied after a moment's hesitation. When a titan asked you a question you answered

”Good”

The blue light holding the portal’s increasingly angry edges vanished, and the gateway snapped shut behind them in a thunderclap, making both humans and the four animals who had been the last that needed to leave it startle away from the considerably more violent than usual death of the Layer. Whatever method the thing had used to keep it open, the layer had not been happy with it one bit.

”Interesting” the thing said as it observed this fact.

“Who. What are you?” Vardan asked, still dumbfounded as to what was happening

“Did you just save us?” Jayce asked as well, the youth somehow handling this a lot better than the man.

”Hmm. Oh, yes, I suppose I did, but your own system of getting everyone out on time was disrupted by my arrival, so you do not owe me for this. Turns out I am rather distracting even when i am simply attempting to observe people and tell them to ignore me. As for what I am, I’m just an explorer who’s interested in learning about everything that exists in this world. Like that beast you have there. What's that?”

The machine shone a spotlight within its spotlight upon the young goat they’d rescued. Vardan explained as much in a confused tone “It’s.. It's just a goat?”

”It is? But it’s so much more dense than the others. How odd” the thing said as it continued to examine the buckling

The pair looked at the creature with confusion, which seemed to be getting very agitated from all the attention, before Jayce slowly pointed out that “Vardan… why doesn't have a bell?”

Vardan flinched away and the instant he did, the goat erupted into a mass of flesh and hooks and tendrils all lashing out at everything around it. The man’s response got his mount to move just in time to get away, so the thing that had been pretending to be a goat went for Jace instead, only to receive a blow from Vardan’s six foot long pole for the second time, giving Jace the seconds they needed to escape. Both humans were carried away by their mounts, who knew a bad time when they saw one and needed no prompting, so the beast turned on its confused “mother”, wrapping her in meat and devouring the goat in an instant, making the beast’s flesh its own. Then it extruded half a dozen spidery limbs from its disgusting mass and started to chase after them.

Arrows sprouted in’s form as both humans drew their bows and fired from atop their steeds. Yet still it came on. Then half a dozen more arrows struck it, as riders front he camp raced forwards to aid their kin. They reached Vardan and Jayce and then about turned, all of them riding backwards while peppering the abomination with arrow fire Volley after volley fell upon the monster until it collapsed.

The other rider’s cheered while the two explorers caught their breath after their near death experience.

“Close one there Vardan” one of the riders said, slapping him on the shoulder “guess even you aren't cautious enough sometimes”

“We need to make sure it's dead,” he replied. Though it had been a close call this at least made sense where the benign titan in the sky did not.

”It isn’t” the floating thing that had done nothing, told him.

“Fuck. ok. Get some firewood and-” Vardan began to instruct the others, but was interrupted by Jayce yelling “Why didn't you help!” up at their observer.

”I was not asked too.” it replied simply, as if that was obvious

“It was trying to kill us!” the youth pointed out

”and now you will kill it. You shouldn't though... It’s the only of its kind in this realm now. It would be a shame to destroy something so unique,” it suggested

“What. No! It eats people!”

”Well I assume it needs to do so to live, just as you kill these ‘goats' and eat them to live, apparently. What makes your killing for sustenance right right and it's wrong? Why does your life have more value than its?” it replied, not sounding particularity invested in the argument but making it none the less

Despite the thing's nonchalant tone it was a terrifying question coming from the titan. Wracked by dread, Verdan and the other riders found they could not answer. For young Jayce however, it was a simple on.

“Because we’re people!”

There was a long and dreadful silence, and then the titanic floating shame said simply ”fair enough” and in an instant the monster, along with several meters of ground surrounding it, was ripped to shreds by an invisible force and the raw materials drawn up in a spiral towards the machine.

First holding open the portal, then seeing a hidden danger effortlessly and now the ability to simply undo parts of the world in the blink of an eye. It was all too much for the Vardan.

“What are you! What do you want!” he demanded

”As I said. I am an explorer. The Explorer. I seek to find, study and catalog all that there is. You, or rather this tribe, are very interesting so far, so I think I shall observe you further“

And what a terrible thing that was.



The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 708 (+1) (+15)
Bowser: Level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (65/90)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (56/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (55/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay


The responses to the incident with the living long-ship were in two distinct groups: mad scrambling to save the man who was definitely not Luigi and not getting involved because everyone else clearly had the situation in hand.

In Bowser’s opinion the latter group clearly had the better idea, because as far as he was concerned he did have it covered. Even if the water spraying had the unexpected effect of just being a nice soothing hose down for the creature, who promptly left happy and refreshed once it was over, and Link did act as an excellent distraction it was, as far as Bowser was concerned, he who had won the day.

Which made the fact that the mustachioed menace’s first action after being pulled up by Peach (who didn't seem to recognize him which Bowser found odd) was too mock the hell out of the king for his new look especially infuriating. As far as he was concerned he had a cool jacked and a pair of butt kicking/water walking boots and the lack of pants was a complete non issue.

”Oh I’m sorry, are you trying to give fashion advice, Mr L for loser on his forehead?” Bowser growled back before snapping his fingers ”Oh right that was your name. Mr L! I completely forgot it seeing as you were just a one note, two bit minion of a sad bad guy who’s just one out of the dozen of nobody failed villains that are just footnotes in the epic story that is my life!”

While the pair engaged in a bout of vicious mockery Rika slowly lowered her guns (that she’d hastily strapped back on) that she’d been aiming at the sea creature and forgot to put down, while Kamek just shook his head at the whole affair and then turned back to the matter of the possible rescue of Brinybeard by the felines.

”That’s quite the little list” noted tiredly regarding the three possible locations ”Still, it would be good to know and if we’re camping here for the moment then there isn't a better time to go off and check. Just don't leave without me, thank you. In fact if you have any requests I can pick up a thing or two for our lunch stop from one of the towns while I’m at it? Light things preferably” he offered

After waiting a moment to see if there was anything anyone wanted he stepped back from the group and floated up into the air on his broom

“Wait are you going to fly all the way back?” Rika asked, a little worriedly. He looked pretty tired, so what would happen if he ran into some stray planes? Or massive birds? Or other dangerous things that existed?

”hmmm? Oh no no no. That would be far too much. No I’ll be there and back again in the blink of an eye don’t you worry. See you soon” He told her, before spinning his wand and disappearing in a puff of smoke.

“Goodbye!” she called out, but he was already gone, leaving her to do.. What exactly?

Well the first thing was to marvel at Geralt’s new towering form after the man absorbed the Harbor Demon’s spirit, shooting up to be the biggest person in the group by a fair margin, if you didn't count Shippy that was.

“Wow. you got huge! Oh and we both have horns now that's cool too” she called up to him, very impressed by the whole deal. She didn’t comment about the new chest window, though she did find herself starting at it for a little bit without realizing as to why. She was distracted from the giant man when Peach said that she was going looking for fruits, which made the sweet toothed girl realize she was pretty hungry already.

“I’ll come too”, she called out, before hopping down onto the ground and hurrying, a touch unsteadily, over to the princess.

“Hi. um. How are you holding up?” she asked once she caught up, before looking into the woods and commenting that “I’ve never been in one of these before. Or inland at all really. What's it like? I hope it’ll be fun and not awful”


Probe destroyed


Unfortunate. How about… there send probe

Sending

...

...

...

Probe destroyed


Again!? Frustrating… Why do they keep getting destroyed!

Probes cannot survive atmospheric reentry due to compression causing them to heat up to temperatures they are not designed to survive.


Oh… Perhaps I should have asked before sending... A lot of them down there. Let me think. How do I make it so that they can survive this atmospheric reentry?

To modify designs, please open the unit editor


The unit edit... Oh. here we are. Oooh. Oh now that’s interesting. Just look at all these options. No. No. Focus. One thing at a time. Lets see. Let’s just open up the probe in here



Lets see. Weapons… might need some of those later but not now. Hyper drive, well we won’t need that, there's nowhere else to go. Ah, here we are. Environmental shielding. Acid rain… pressure... Ah ha! Heat. Useful for ‘protecting from the heat of atmospheric reentry’. Also for getting close to ‘stars’. Not sure what those are. Any way let’s save this

New design created under name ‘hot-probe’


aaaand build it and send it!

Construction complete

Sending

...

...

...

...

Probe destroyed


...

...


and what, exactly, destroyed it?

An energy emission, similar to the ones discovered earlier, currently saturates the lower atmosphere. Probe was lost shortly after entering this region.


Oh. Well that’s new. fire another!



Several dozen more probes destroyed, and several probes sent after probes to watch the first probes get destroyed, verified that attempting to go through the magically charged air was not a good plan. Most got destroyed by some kind of elemental explosion. Others were transmuted into other materials such as gold, ruby and small feathered creatures (which themselves did not last long) and a few had stranger still things happen that the Explorer did not understand at all.

Attempts to protect the probe did not work, as there was no inbuilt magic resistance plating to be found in the editor’s options, and mixing and matching the types available did not produce protection able to survive all the random effects. They did however note that the probes seemed to, ever so slightly, reduce the magical energy in an area as a result of their destruction, even if the reserves in the region rapidly refiled.

How about if we throw a massive probe down to soak up all the power? Would that work?

An object of a sufficient size would cause significant damage to The Continent, possibly destabilizing it even further.


Can’t be having that. Maybe if we instead pull the energy up out of the atmosphere?

It is currently unknown if that is possible.


Well then, let’s find out!



After that, the ring became abuzz with activity. The Explorer started sampling local elements, but found none of the naturally occurring ones provided any aid in surviving the magical effects. It was only when they returned too and inspected the remaining half of the void fish that they had any success. The creature had been able to control magic naturally and though they only had 50% carcass to work from, the creature’s ‘lure’ provided enough of a baseline to know where to start looking.

Several experiments later and they had a working solution. A metal that attracted magic, and another that repelled it. Simple tools, but they would be enough for the construction it had envisioned.

To begin with, Dozens of mining and salvage drones were deployed by the Explorer into the asteroid field to gather up materials.



Brought back to a central point located beneath The Continent, the remnants of the world that was where broken down and combined to make something that it had not seen since days of yore. A moon. True, compared to the old moon it was a small and sorry affair, a glorified asteroid really, but it was what was inside that counted. In this case a massive tunnel bored in its center, lined with exotic metals and leading from on side right through to the other.



The Explorer looked on with pride as its little drones brought the final piece of stone to the construction site, and then carefully maneuvered it into place and completed the project. Then it promptly dismantled all the drones.

With the cleanup done all that was let to do was set the plan into motion.

All That took was a push, and the moon began to “fall” out of the asteroid belt, descending down upon the Continent with the Explorer falling in its wake, both leaving the belt for the first time.

Closer and closer they went, approaching the world from below and then both suddenly clearing the horizon to find the surface of the world, finding it covered in chaotic clouds and arcane storms. Also, the Explorer noted, an actual storm. That was new and made it even more excited to get a probe or two down to see what was going on down there up close.

The moon closed in, almost brushing the atmosphere. As soon as it got near, magic lept from the skies of the world, the energy drawn to it like moths to a flame. Like the void angler’s lure, however, they could not strike it down and where instead the energy corralled into the mouth of the great tunnel, where it was accelerated and was then fired out the other end into space in a gout of chaotic magical spells. Fireballs, laser-beams, generic household objects, death-bolts, yet more unfortunate feathered things and more all soared into the void. Due to the angle of the tunnel, with the mouth tilted slightly towards the path it was traveling to better sweep up the magic, the geyser of magic that spewed out the other end was pointed slightly behind it, and this meant it looked like the moon had a wonderfully colorful trail to anyone who could see it below. Or would have, if the sky was visible. The best you’d get at the moment was odd multicolored glow in the clouds, which wasn't exactly unusual in the aurora filled sky.

Thus, the Siphon drained the atmosphere of some of its magic and left a deadzone behind it, though this rapidly closed as the arcane energies sought to equalize their concentration across the Continent. Still, the opening the Explorer desired was there, no matter how brief it was. Now was the time to use it before the Siphon’s orbit took it back down to the asteroid belt.

It’s working! Excellent. Then let’s send another probe. Oh. I can even plate it with the new metal to make it...

The explorer looked at the blueprints for its new magic resistant probe and then back to the giant Siphon it had built.

Well. It’s still useful? Probably. Send one new probe and one old probe into the hole, and one new probe away from the hole

Building

...

Construction complete

Sending

...

...

...

...

Probe 2 destroyed

...

Probe 3 destroyed

...

...

...

Probe 1 destroyed


What! How?!

Probes are not built for atmospheric navigation. As a result of being unable to slow down it impacted the ground and exploded.

Addendum: The damage to the Continent was insignificant


There wasn’t really time left to be angry about this because soon the Siphon’s orbit would start to bring it away from the Continent and back to the high point it was launched from. There wasn't time to tinker around rebuilding the probe to make it a full fledged atmospheric craft as a result, and the Explorer could not be bothered waiting till the Siphon swung around again.

Fine then. I’ll do it myself!

I can survive reentry and then navigate within the atmosphere, right?

Correct. However the level of damage that will be sustained by passing through the energy in the atmosphere is estimated be noticeable.


Thinking quickly as it descended into the shadow of the Siphon, the Explorer pulled out all of its stored resources and fashioned them into a crude shell of magic repelling metal, a poor facsimile of the protection given to the latest iteration of the ill fated probes.

Clad in its new shell, the Explorer descended behind the Siphon, and then struck the atmosphere. Where it’s probes had been shooting stars, the Explorer was an extinction event worth of fire and fury, their light bringing a brief dawn heralding its arrival. Unlike its final probe however, the Explorer intended not to smack into the ground. With might mysterious it slowed its fall, breaching through the cloud cover and slowing. Slowing. And then coming to a stop near the center of the continent. Its protective shell split and crumbled as it shed the now unneeded defense, the strange, technically otherworldly, metal crumbling to the wasteland below and leaving a jagged field of magic repelling metals. Free of its casing the Explorer’s great searchlight of an eye shone brightly, casting down onto the only world in existence with curiosity and fascination, briefly bringing a soft blue light to wherever it swept across.

At last it was here, and its arrival had not been a quiet one.

Now then. Let’s see what there is to see



The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 651 (+1)
Bowser: Level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (49/90)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (41/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (39/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay


While the king had been grumpy at being woken up, there was nothing like getting the respect deserving of a truly awesome king and it was a welcome remedy. The king’s tired look was wiped away, replaced with him standing proud and strong with a slight smirk on his lips as the man stumbled over his words at the end of his explanation.

Despite taking joy from Mirage’s nervousness, he didn't follow up on the threat the man thought him to be, nor rub it in like he might have before, and ignoring the man’s slip up he said ”Thanks for the heads up, but I’m pretty sure I can handle one more ship monster,” he punched his palm and grinned confidently ”Almost be relaxing after what we’ve just been through”

”But yeah. We’re traveling. What. Did you think we looked like we lived here?” Bowser joked at the man’s expense ” Ha, no. No we’re headed to the Bottomless Sea. Heard of it before?” he added with a grin, quite sure that if he had, he’d be even more impressed and in awe of the King

Onboard the Atomos Kamek carefully tucked Jr into the bed the boy had flopped down and promptly fallen asleep on after parking the ship. Then the mage quietly stepped his way our to leave him in peace and see what all the commotion was about himself, exiting onto the back of the ship and then making a short flight down onto the parked Shippy’s deck, just in time to catch the tail end of the talk about rescue cats that might have saved the captain.

”Do you know where they might have taken him if they did catch him Ace? Back to Lumbridge again?” he asked ”Because I could go and check where he might have ended up and confirm or deny this one way or the other” best not to be left dwelling on ifs or maybes, the mage though, so it would be worth the time and exertion.

Both Bowser and Kamek’s conversations were interrupted shortly afterwards by the arrival of a mustachioed man in green who looked oddly familiar via water slide.

”Oh. Huh isn't that… mr something. Mr M? Mr k?” Bowser said while snapping his fingers repeatedly as he failed to remember the name of the man who definitely wasn't Luigi in disguise before giving up and saying ”I’m sure he’ll tell us. Pretty sure he jumped at every opportunity back in the day. Heh. Jumped.”

As they watched the completely original man in green got in a spot of trouble as he splashed down and helpful verified Mirage’s warning about the ship, which was good for the man in yellow’s credibility but not so much for the unfortunate Mr L as the ship decided to pick a fight with him for daring to get close to its pool toy of a child.

The scoundrel decided his best course of action was to leg it. Or swim it if you wanted to be accurate. The king casually watched this for a few moments before eventually coming to the realization that ”Oh right. We should probably help the jerk huh” and stepping towards, and then onto, the edge of the lake and unfurling his new quadrio of turrets, the quarters of shell pulling off of his body and revealing their central core strapped to his back from which their arms extended.

Eight barrels were brought to bare, massive cannons with vicious pinching beaks on their ends and surrounded by poisonous tentacles, over the top and sides of his shoulders and aimed squarely at the creature’s face, each one primed and ready to fire way without mercy. Then at the last moment Bowser actually saw the thing’s adorably silly looking kid and had a rapid change of heart.

”SHOO! GO AWAY SHOO!” the king yelled at it as he used the cannons as an octet of long ranged spray bottles, blasting cold water at the ship’s face mostly to try and get it to bugger off or at least slow down/distract it from its chase of Mr L.





wordcount: 451 (+1)
Midna: level 4 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////// (31/40)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Sweet Canyon - Parnasse


Things with the plan did not go well.

No one but the strong, handsome and noble Braum and the naively optimistic Tora where really considering looking and, to be fair, who could blame them. The issues with the proposed plan kept piling up and up. Communication, the risk of the wind all on top of the food, water and heat problems.

Really, Midna thought, she was the only one who could go out there safely, sneaking through the shadows of the pit’s west side, and even then. It was a lot of ground to cover, and she needed to eat and drink. Plus she could only cover half of the total area with that trick. Still. She could do it, she would do it!

And then Queen Sectonia effortlessly pulled out a plan to solve the situation neatly by summoning a bunch of bugs that could go and look for them without any of them risking life and limb. Tireless, not needing to eat or drink and entirely disposable. The perfect things to go traipsing through the desert in search of their comrades.

Midna should have been thrilled, but having worked herself up to putting her life on the line for others because of her guilt, all she could manage to say was a slightly forced ”Oh. Good. Great!” and it was great, but the young princess was not doing a great job at hiding her embarrassment at being shown up by the Giant Bee queen so soon after they had been arguing about how one should rule and be royal.

Delegating to your subjects was important, this she knew even if she struggled with it sometimes, but what did she have? A bunch of animals….

”Wait” she said, mostly to herself snapping her fingers as she had an idea, before summoning one of her Wolfos to her side and then floating in front of it and making it look her in the eyes using her hands.

”You will go with the ant things and sniff for the lost people. The short one, the bald one with the sandwich, the blue lady with the poison and the floaty one with the syringes. Remember them? Remember how they smell? They are out there and you need to help bring them out of the desert safely. But things get too hot or you get too hungry or thirsty or you get blown about or hurt go right back into a portal? OK?” She told it and her instructions were somewhat understood by the creature.

She turned to the queen and asked ”Are these magic constructs smart enough to manage my Wolfos? It should follow along and sniff for our allies like I told it, but it would be best if they can keep it to heel. Also you said you’d get hands on? I remember you have portals but can you really get back here from that far away? Can you bring other people with you?” best to not have her go out and fight alone. Even better if she could bring their allies right back.

”Also maybe the bugs should take some of our remaining water and food? We still have some of that stuff from the spirits right? Hats and bug bits and so on? Maybe someone will be interested in trading for them for supplies” she also suggested


Boot sequence initiated...

System readiness 5%

...

Warning Hull integrity at 89%

...

25%

Error: Memory records damaged.

Attempting repairs

...

...

Repairs failed

Rebuilding basic memory structure

...

...

...

Memory banks online

Warning, Hull integrity at 88%

45%

Running systems check

55%

Checking resources:

Power at 99%

Resources at 4%

Warning, Hull integrity at 87%

Warning, Hull integrity at 73%

Damage threshold exceed

Fast tracking finalization of boot sequence

Skipping non essential startup tasks

System readiness 100%

Explorer online

Primary directives: Explore. Survey. Document.

Engage consciousness


The Explorer, a massive eight sided construct, woke up, blue lighted humming in a band around its center as its sensors reached out and found.

Stones. Rubble. Floating in a void. Something more?

The light of the band intensified at one point, forming a soft beam like a spotlight that swept to and fro across the field of asteroids, wandering like a curious gaze.

Hmmm interesting. Oh! I suppose this is me then? My consciousness? Delightful. Now then. What do we have here?

It found various remains of what might have been machinery, but it had all been vaporized. Recently too, the clouds of atomised debris still expanding from where the Explorer assumed was where they had existed before being destroyed.

Curious. I wonder what those were. Where they mine? Something I found? The cause of my empty memories?

The beam thinned, attempting to glean more details from a specific ruin when the field of debris lit up. Energy sparked off of floating stones, destroying them seemingly at random till they were taken together, at which point it became clear the explosions where part of a rolling wave of destruction that was sweeping forth and then rolled straight over the explorer.

Warning Hull integrity at 72%


Ah. That would be what the minor damage reports in the log where then it noted as energy clawed at its surface before the wave moved onward

Can’t be having that it noted, before rummaging around its systems Let’s see. Ah. here we go. Shields.

Engaging passive defensive barrier


A fainter glow of light began to light up across its entire surface, covering it in a defensive screen. Safely wrapped in the protective barrier, then took a few moments to analyze the energy that had hit it, which it would later discover was called magic. A few adjustments to its sensors later and it could see the magic itself instead of just its effects and found waves of it rolling through the debris field.

Ah, and there is mr -14% it noted, as it found something lurking behind the veil of sorcery, flecks of hull clicking to its teeth.

The giant void angler sprung into action when it realized it had been seen, the Explorer's beam like vision not exactly subtle. Opening a maw field with a thousand fangs it rushed them, only for the beam the Explorer was using to see it to harden, grasping the fish and then hauling to the side, smashing it into a particular large rock.

Well that was useful, lets see. What else do we have here?

The giant fish wiggled out of the splintered remains of the floating stone and then came again, only for rocks to come to it this time as the Explorer encased them in a blue glow and hurled them into its side, pelting it with a shower of stones.

The Explorer's foe shook off this blow too. Indeed, the most its strikes seemed to had done was to anger the beast. Its ‘lure’ began to glow, drawing the waves of magic in the asteroid field towards them both. The waves buffeted the shielded exterior of the Explorer harmlessly, but also surged their power into the fish thing’s charging attack, forming some kind of rapidly growing energy sphere around its singular prehensile antenna.

That does not look good. Repair tool?

Initiating repairs.

..

Hull integrity at 73%


Useful but no. hyper drive sounds good?

hyper drive disable due to the presence of objects nearby

Hull integrity at 74%


No good. Construct defense astro-mech?
Not enough resources. Utilise the Reclaim Tool to harvest material from the environment, or construct miners to do this automatically

Hull integrity at 75%

Resources depleted. Hull repairs paused.


Reclaim tool then?

The tool activated, automatically aiming along the path of the Explorer's vision beam and immediately vaporized the head of the fish creature, and then began pulling the raw materials of its construction towards the ship. It was stopped from reclaiming the rest when the charging energy attack detonated due to not having anything controlling it anymore, blowing the rest of its body and much of the surrounding area to smithereens.

Huh. Well that solved that problem.

Unfortunately it had completely destroyed what had remained of the devices that had been littered around the area, an infuriating development. The Explorer vented the frustration generated by this event by disintegrating several of the surrounding asteroids. Then, after a bit more experimenting with the tools at its disposal, forging multiple cube shaped probes from the harvested resources and pinged them out in several directions to find out what was out there

With them it found two things.

The first was a hole in space leading to an entirely different asteroid field. The Explorer was fascinated, but before it could move to investigate personally, another void angler fish gnashed out of the portal, crunching down on the probe that had been closely inspecting the edge of the spatial anomaly and, likely due to its highly magical composition, completely destabilizing the portal as a result, severing itself in two in the process.

Again, the accursed fish had ruined the Explorer's investigation, but what the probes that exited the field found more than made up for it:



A continent, suspended in the void, magical storms far greater than the ones that had been experienced wracking its skies and special anomalies littering its surface.

Brief analysis of the drifting landmass found it to be made from much the same materials as the rocks floating around, the explorer theorizing that this debris had broken off from the core continent at some point in the past. What remained certainly did not appear stable that was for certain.

What a discovery! I shall call it ‘The Continent’ until further notice... I wonder if there is anyone alive down there?

There was only one way to find out, but it decided it would be best to prepare before heading down to explore the greatest, and seemingly only, location of interest in the area.



The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1,535 (+3)
Bowser: Level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (48/90)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (40/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (38/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay


Twin flashes of light lit up the bay for a final time as Rika and Bowser transformed and both, functionally, became a massive pile of guns. Rika gained a set of robot arms with mounted turrets on the joints and axe blades at the ends. It also mucked around with her outfit some more, and, somewhat important, completely de-abysallised one of the arms, converting her rapid fire gun gauntlet into one armed with an an assault rifle styled after the Brachydios’ head and, as a result, lacking the horrible human teeth the other one still had.

She pulled back her arm, cocking the new assault rifle and primed the new cannons before turning to face the harbor Demon.

Right in time for the giant monster to be cleaved in half by Ace Cadet, leaving her in the lurch. What was she supposed to do with her anger now?

”Oh hey, they got her. NICE JOB TROOPS!” Bowser yelled encouragingly over at them, right before Carrie’s timer ran down and he got dumped down onto the water, down from which some nondescript exclamations of how cool water walking was came.

”Oh thank the stars that’s over Kamek added had slumped down to rest. The last of his energy expended and went along with his various shadow clones and minions, who all fell to help ensure the final blow could be struck. Unfortunately the troop had forgotten about the Midway princess after her bomber swarm had been handled, but now she returned with vengeful fury.

It was very much time to leave.

There was the slight issue that Shippy was currently a. Distraught and b. was currently lacking any way of moving herself, due to her stern having been vaporized, so even if she had had the willpower to move they weren't going anywhere, necessitating the indigent task of getting out and pushing.

Peach requested as much from Bowser and Rika.

”Sure,” Bowser replied with a distinct lack of the usual grumpiness he exhibited when asked to do things, scooting around to the back of the craft on his new slim boots. ”Here, let me” he offered before pressing a shoulder, and two unfurled turrets, to the back of the ship and beginning to push her forwards with all his might.

“Here to help” Rika echoed, before doing much the same on the other side of peach, one gauntlet and the flats of her new hull-blades being used to shove them forwards. Together with Sakura and the princess they all pushed the living boat towards the inlet that had been their goal this entire time, something that had been hard to remember in all the chaos. The only real disturbance during the trip there was when Bowser’s mini turrets went off for the first time, the quadrants of micro turrets automatically aiming and lighting up in-order pepper a few abyssal fighters that had gotten close with their miniature shells, which spooked the living daylights out of him and Rika before they realized what was happening.

The inlet itself was guarded by a few meager defenses that paled in comparison to what they’d had to deal with to get there, though Kamek noted that the fact that they, again, had some distinctly non-abyssal allies as a mild cause for concern. Especially the fact that the kappa creatures could probably follow them onto land if they went there. Not that these specific baddies were much of an issue. While the mage was out of it and a lot of the team were on pushing duty the Atomos had fared far better than Shippy after it had charged the big bird, and so swooped down and ahead to spare the vessel any more pain while its remaining passengers pelted them with firepower.

With that final obstacle cleared, and with Shippy’s motor back up and running thanks to the infinitely useful Blazermate they were finally free of the warzone, though the sound of it still haunted them from afar for some time as they sailed up into a comparative paradise.

The Atomos flew low and next to the now much smaller Shippy, letting people get onboard to find somewhere to rest where they wouldn’t overburden her. While Bowser and Kamek went back aboard to reunite with Junior, Rika ended up staying on Shippy with Sakura. The woman said the battle must have been awful for Rika, but the former Abyssal felt it had hit her friend harder than her as she sat down next to her, decoupling her gauntlets and laid them to one side while the new Azure Navy parts neatly folded out of the way so she could be close without being a nuisance.

“I’ve been in those battles before. Its all I knew till I met you... but it hits different now that I know-” her voice hitched for a moment and then she forced herself to continue “-that I know that no one’s coming back from that”

Not the Azure girls she’d killed before she knew what it meant, nor the ones who’d died minutes ago and especially not the one that was now a part of her. Not the Abyssals that could have been like her or Bella.

Not Brinybeard. She’d only kind of known him for a few hours, and yet it still hurt. She’d never lost anything before.

“But I’ve been asking myself if he’d still been alive if I hadn’t held back. If I’d been willing to hurt the ones who were developed enough that they could be like me, maybe he. Maybe.” she couldn't finish the sentence, too emotionally drained by the entire ordeal to really try and process complicated topics like that.

So instead she leaned lightly against Sakura to just kind of be there for/with her. It was the best she could think of. No one had ever taught her how to comfort people, let alone work on her own issues. As a result Sakura working though her own trauma out loud helped. A lot.

As did the view. Maybe she’d seen it before she’d been her, everything from back then was getting hazy as she became more and more her own woman, but even if she had this was the first time she really saw the alien woods for what they were.

The serene quiet beauty of it all could almost let a person forget about what they had just been through, pretend it had all been a nightmare, if only for a little while. So Rika did just that. No thoughts. No words. Just… taking it all in for real this time. She missed the talk of cats as a result.

Her zoned out trance was rudely interrupted by someone yelling helpful if vague warnings at the group. The horned ship girl poked her head over the railing to see what all the fuss was about and found a bearded man clad in bright yellow shouting warnings about... Another living boat? With a kid. Also hot water crystals. She didn't get it.

”UUURG. WHAT’S ALL THE YELLING ABOUT?” came a groggy roaring complaint from the Atomos. The shoving of the ship had taken a bit more out of the king than he had expected due to his modifications and, as he had experienced a grand total of 0 trauma from the whole ordeal, had seemingly decided to take a nap from which he had just been woken.

There was a pause during which someone filled the King was filled in on what had been yelled

”JOY” was his response to the descriptions of the threats up ahead. After a few moments the king appeared on the back of the ship and called out ”Ok. You. wait there,” he told the figure before more generally telling everyone that ”We are going to stop and get some actual rest before we deal with anymore… anything. Ok?” and finally telling Jr ”Set us down son, and then take a load off you’ve done more than enough”

There was some weak instance that he could keep going, but ultimately Jr had been at the wheel while they all recovered and he (along with Shippy, Rika guiltily realized as Link had the same idea as the King) needed some time to recover as well.

After a few moments the airship hoovered over to the bank of the river, found a flat stable looking spot and set down among the pink grass, giving its pilot a chance to take a nap and its passengers a chance to either get a brief bit of shore leave or to greet/interrogate the man in yellow.

Bowser stomped off the ship, an odd sight for sure to the human. The now thinner and lankier turtle dragon, who was wearing clothes again consisting of knee high black boots, a long army jacket and gloves (a getup which had a distinct lack of trousers/pants), stepped out of the ship’s hold and went to see if the stranger in yellow had followed his instruction or if he had run off.

”Hey. King Bowser. Who are you, and what's this about a living ship?” he asked as he approached casually, the king assuming, perhaps foolishly, that the things being in a lake, something they were not in yet, meant whatever it was would politely stay where it was and thus this whole situation was not urgent.





wordcount: 535 (+1)
Midna: level 4 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////// (30/40)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Sweet Canyon - Parnasse


Midna had thought the Flygon’s storm had been bad, but this? This was on a whole other level. From the safety of her shadowy hiding spot Midna was forced to watch in horror as the others where relentlessly buffeted by the storm that she’d underestimate as it tried to rip them out of the train and hurl them into the pit, unable to step out and help because if she did she’d appear in mid air, and her small and light form would be easily tossed to the winds.

She really wished she could control sand and not just her own realm’s right now but she convinced herself that they’d be fine. She never saw anyone in trouble, though it was impossible to see much of anything, and so sat tight rather than put herself, and potentially the others if they were forced to try and save her, at risk.

Eventually, after what seemed like an age, it was over. The train escaped the storm and eventually came to a stop, at which point the princess sheepishly rejoined the team, visibly unmarred by the sand. She felt guilty enough about that, but when it turned out that four of them had been lost (and wasn’t humorously tragic that it might be the wind of all things that had dealt their party it’s first blow) the survivor's guilt really hit home.

Tora suggested several ways that they might have survived, which all had varying degrees of wishful thinking. If they were alive, there was the question of whether they had the time to spare. Their quest itself wasn’t time sensitive, as far as they knew, but their time out here, under the relentless sun, certainly was.

For their resident samurai, there was no question. He quickly laid out a plan to search for them, though she had to note that he was in the group that wouldn't be trekking through the desert and risking the sand storms again.

Minda shook her head and mentally dumped that line of thought. Now was not the time for petty things like that. It was time for action. His reason as to why he wasn’t suited to do the exploring did make sense and she owed those lost to the storm the help she hadn't been able to give during it. Indeed, to an extent she owed the Heavy and the Medic her life. She wasn't leaving them behind.

”I’ll do it,” she said, not so subtly making Minamoto’s plan one based on volunteering rather than something he was implicitly ordering them to do by her choice of words ”but we need to make sure that anyone who goes out won't just become another victim to the storm or the desert. So if you're not 100% sure that you’ll be safe out there, you shouldn't be going”

”If we’re going to stay out here for a while looking, we’ll need supplies. Do we have anything left food and water wise?” she asked the Thieves ”and how possible would it be to get some from the city and bring then back here? Time frame and cost wise?” she asked Gnorbu who was the only one who knew anything about the city in question
@Commodore

changes have been made based on this and on further feedback from the Discord.

changes start after "not even of the true god but of one of its envoys."

In summary Exo now believes/theories they where made by extra dimensional aliens from another layer or, possibly, that they are a machine of the old gods or per-apocalypse humans made for the same purpose, but has no way of knowing due to having no memory of a time before it's godhood, and the sheet makes efforts to not confirm or deny a specific past.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1,362 (+3)
Bowser: Level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (45/90)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (37/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (35/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay


”Haha take that!” Kamek cheered as his mega-spell hit home, before his expression quickly turned to alarm as he realise that the main thing he’d done is mark them as a priority target again ”Oh no”

The Harbor Demon scooped up a pile of Abyssals and hurled them right at the ship, undoing the work they’d done to clear the area as monsters rained down upon them. A shoal of the fish/torpedo shaped destroyers rained down on the bow of the ship among the Kameks as they all stumbled to their feet. One smashed down and struck a red clone like an artillery shell, dissipating it an instant, while another landed close to Kamek and then tried to lunge at him.

He stumbled backwards, trying to bring his wand to bare but knowing even as he did so that he was being too slow, only for a boxing glove to jackhammer into the destroyer, punting it away into the water.

”Young Ma-” he began to cry out in relief and alarm as the destroyers focused on his savior, only to realize that it was, once again, one of his doppelgangers. The two remaining shadow Juniors started laying into the the swarm, one of the two being mauled to death in the process, but giving the Kamek's precious moments to recover and aid them with spell blasts, only for them all to be scattered as the Demon’s titanic cannon shot just barely missed them, the impact rocking the boat and causing Kamek to stumble.

He rose just as the last destroyer was handled, only to have to move out of the way as Sakura took up position at the bow and, inspired by his energy ball, followed up with her own fireball, empowered by Blazermate’s Kritz. While Kamek’s shot had put them in danger, hers saved them from it, although just barely.

The massive glowing fireball hammered home, shattering the Demon’s guard and throwing off her aim by just an inch, enough to prevent them from being obliterated by her second shot but not enough to make her miss entirely. The cannon shell smashed through the green protective barrier protecting Shippy and annihilated the helm in an instant, taking the captain with it.

Though the Ace thought they might be fine, maybe, they were all still stunned and had to be roused by their grief and shellshock by Frog. As the heroes rushed to and fro to try and help the old mage hauled himself to his feet for a third time.

”I’m getting too old for this” he complained as he supported himself with his broom. Having spent so much magic and physical energy in the battle already he was unable to do more with his magic than continue to hold his various minions together. Their ranks were thinned. Two reds, the green and a shadow Junior here, two toadies above, where all that remained.

They would have to do.

Peach had returned at some point during the carnage with spirits of fallen navy ships. One of these the Ace grabbed, declaring his intention to charge the Harbor Demon. Alone. Madness, but then what could they do? Another shot like that and they’d be done for.

”Go! Protect the Ace, make sure he is free to strike true and that he returns to us alive!” He ordered his 4 remaining minions.

They obeyed without questions, forming up as an escort. The green boosted the shadow junior with speed, letting it keep up with the ace, hovering beside him, covering his back and body blocking shots coming for him. When they made it to the shadow clone moved to attack the Demon’s arms with a pair of circular saws, acting mainly as a distraction so the Ace could target her more vulnerable body. The green had also empowered the ace’s weapon before he got out of range, purple spell runes forming along the side of Nightsky Rippe’s blade, and a green glow alighting along its edge, signaling increased power to its blows and sharpness to its bite.

The reds followed after, pelting any pursuers or flankers with fire. In the end, however, both they and the green were left in the Ace’s dust and at the mercy of the open battlefield.




While this was all going down the Atomos completed its circle, bringing its front facing kid crewed ballista to bear on the Demon as her second shot struck home. They’d tried to help when the ship had been pelted, but the fire team onboard couldn't risk shooting the things on the ship without worrying about hitting the living ship or its passengers.

Which made the shot itself doubly heart wrenching. Because there wasn't anything they could do to strike back. Not sanely anyway. Charging in deep enough to get into range would get their own ship ripped apart. Jr yelled as much when Bowser demanded they do so.

”We’d never make it there in one piece Dad!”

”We have to do something!” the king demanded, shouting over the sound of Rika wordlessly screaming as she unloaded fire at the Demon for killing Brinybeard, reservations about killing her own forgotten when it came to this specific abyssal. Despite her rage her shots fell short, splashing into the water before they reached her target. Beside her Mimikyu was having more luck, her electroballs adoring being shot at this stationary target, their speed differential based attack power being boosted as high as it could go as they buzzed forth.

Then they saw the telltale flash of fusion, once, then twice, before the Ace suddenly jumped into the after and started sailing towards the Demon with Kamek’s minions in tow.

“He’s going! We should go too!” Rika shouted

”We cant! I just said” jr repeated himself

“Then I’ll do it myself- wow”

”Oh no you don’t. You’ll just get shot by the navy!” Bowser told her, grabbing her by one of her arms before she could jump off the ship Sakrua style.

“I can't just stand here and do nothing! She needs to die!” Rika insisted

”You need to live. I won't let a minion die pointlessly” Bowser told her

”Are there more spirits?” Jr shouted from the cockpit as the pair struggled

”What?”

”Where’d they get those from?” jr clarified

As one both Bower and Rika moved to the edge and glanced down at Shippy.

“There, Peach has them” Rika said, pointing down at the princes and her three remaining spirits.

”Perfect! I’ll jump down there and-” Bowser began before Rika insisted “We’ll go down”

Bowser looked at her, nodded, and then unceremoniously grabbed her by the waist and hauled her into a well practiced princess kidnapping carry, which is to say held over the shoulder like a sack of potatoes “Hey wait”

”Stay safe Junior! Going down!” the king announced, before jumping into the empty air. The pair plummeted, but, before they hit ocean or deck like a cannonball, Bowser summoned up Carrie the Trowlon and used the floating minion to rapidly slow their fall, coming to a stop right next to shippy.

”Friendly coming onboard” he wanted the crew as he deposited Rika on deck, but neglected to come aboard himself to avoid bogging down and overcrowding the now much smaller ship.

“Oof. Hi everyone” Rikia said as she stabilized herself “please don't shoot me I’m going to make myself look even less Abyssaly just to make sure there’s no mistakes and then I am going to kill that whoreson of a demon!”

”Spirits. Quick. Don't want to go swimming! Also language!” Bowser told her, conscious of the brief amount of time his hovering platform could stick around.

“Right! Sorry” she said, moving swiftly over to the princess and then looked over the spirits on offer and quickly concluded that Bower would definitely want the one that was biggest and had the most guns, grabbing Trento and tossing it to him, before grabbing Mikuma for herself. They both had horns and she had a weapon in her hands, she thought, so maybe that would mix best with what she had already,

In quick succession the pair took their choice of spirit and pressed it to their chests.
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