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3 mos ago
You like psychics? Brains, mayhaps? Come check out my new interest check, then! There's plenty of both!
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3 mos ago
If ya can't handle the heat, don't go burning your bridges.
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RANK 3
1/30 EXP

Sandswept Sky - Split Mountain, Redstone City


@Thatguyinastore


The team edged forward up the craggy mountain slopes as if they were in a sandstorm, only one where the particles of sand were as big as cars and flying at them just as fast. Not the best metaphor, but an apt one!

While some of the less agile climbers tried to hunker down against the oncoming racers or find a way to brute through, Raz was pretty used to having big things flying at him. He sidestepped a biking father who had his child irresponsibly strapped to the back of his bicycle, ducked under a small round creature riding a giant floating star, and even managed to clear a couple of smaller Gorons with well timed jumps. He was making decent progress on his own, until another attempt at Goron-hurdling took a turn. Raz landed on one of the rolling creatures, running atop it just long enough to lose all the ground he covered and then some, before stumbling over the Goron's rocky skin and tumbling to the ground. A pretty ungraceful landing after the stunt he just pulled, one that left him with a bruised knee, a bruised ego, and a mouthful of pebbles and dust.

"Pleh, caff!" Raz coughed and spluttered, only just rolling out of the way of a screeching ATV from ramping off his head. "Okay, going against the tide, not the best move," he admitted as he picked himself up. At least others found a better way forward to make up for his blunder. Maybe nobody noticed?

Raz was square in the middle of the lane, the walls to either side still pretty far apart, and he knew all about running across the road, which probably also applied to running across an active race. His stumble on top of that Goron did shake something loose, though. Not, like, physically, but mentally.

"Oh yeah, I've missed this one!" Raz hopped in place, and under his feet a bright orange orb with a green ring popped into existence. Already on a slope, the Levitation ball started to roll downwards, but Raz was (pretty much) an expert on this thing. With big backpedaling steps, he skewed the ball sideways, turning his downward descent into a curved arc towards the wall, almost like he was surfing. He flung past several of his fellows on the way, but he made extra sure to aim himself towards one of their newest additions; Ellie. Compared to the others who all had their own ways of dealing with the onslaught, she seemed to be ill equipped for it, and Raz was nothing if not helpful.

"Incoming!" He shouted right before he passed Ellie by. Once he was close enough, Raz also tapped into another power he was sorely missing, and a big hand the same color as his ball formed, plucking Ellie up by the underarms, and pulled her along with him. It was probably a sudden shift for her, buuuut hopefully she'd be more grateful for the safety than any possible whiplash she got.

Once they got to the wall, Raz poofed his Levitation away and set Ellie down, now that they were away from most of the riders. "You know how to climb?" Raz asked, though continued with, "just follow my lead," regardless of her answer.

At the race's starting line, once everyone was back together, Raz accepted any water offered, hoping to wash out the taste of rock, sand, and machine oil from his mouth. Don't ask how that last one got there. "Hey, thanks," Raz said to Tora, giving the Pon a friendly pat on the, uh, shoulder-ish area. "Next time we run into speeding bikers, I'll be sure to stick with you." He meant it, too, and it wasn't a completely unlikely prospect in this world, so who knew?

The next part of the trek was, thankfully, less exciting. As the hot stone canyons bled away into dense woods, Raz started to shuffle his warmer clothing on, trading one jacket for another and slipping on one shoe after the other while continuing forward. Quick-changing could come out pretty useful outside of performing.

When the group slowed down to another involuntary stop, Raz hurried to the front. "I hope this bear isn't telekinetic," Raz worried, putting out an idea that nobody else would've thought, and probably won't stop thinking about now. It was much, much bigger than anything he'd seen before, and luckily, it was asleep, even if that was impeding theme. "Too bad it's still... uh, ya know." Raz left the vague point in the air, gesturing at the bear, not wanting to spring the crew's secret mission when there were some newbies around. "Otherwise I could probably wake it up mentally. Maybe we can just... pet it? Awake?" Raz manifested his TK again, idly pushing it closer and closer to the bear's head, as if testing the waters of the idea.

WORD COUNT: 817
EXP GAIN: +2
<Snipped quote by TruthHurts22>

The sheet is good. Given our discussion, level ups are going to be both interesting and impactful for Billy here. Since Phoenix Wright has already appeared in the RP, however, you can replace him in the sheet's Guest List.


Fair, I just put him cuz I wanted to encounter him at some point again :b I'll swap him out for... it feels cheating since I already have The Guyzoch as an 'umbrella', but would the Shadow of Colossus's... colossi, be fine? Or should I single one out?

RANK 3
0/30 EXP

Sandswept Sky - Tostarena Town


Well, he thought his ideas had some merit to them. "That's why I said a reverse zip-line!" He snapped back to Scout. "I've seen a reverse waterfall before, and it's not like this is a super normal place! It might... exist!" He thought about throwing down the last half of his burrito in anger, but that felt too rude to the restaurant staff, so he opted to scarf it down with pointed aggression.

Still steaming, Sectonia floated over to him to properly introduce herself. Raz swallowed his anger, since if they were going to risk their lives on the mountain, there shouldn't be any lingering animosity. "Oh, yeah, I know you," Raz said, shaking Sectonia's hand. Surprisingly dainty. "I mean I've seen you with the group before. I'm Razputin, but you can call me Raz. Probably better to get introductions out of the way before the dangerous climb and big bad fight at the top, huh?"

A lot happened pretty quickly, from the appearance of another couple of people who seemed interested in the group, for different reasons, and finally it seemed there was a solution settled on to deal with the big group problem. "You know," Raz said aloud as they all split off and gathered the teleportation markers, "I'm going to take a biiit of credit on this one, since I mentioned teleporting before. So, thanks, Me! And you're welcome." Really, Raz didn't mind whether or not he got respect now. He'd show his worth on this climb. It was like he was born for it.

Sandswept Sky - Split Mountain Stage One, Redstone City

...though it would be a while to go before his expertise would be needed. The start of the ascent was bound to be the easiest, so Raz took the opportunity to plan with his fellow climbers.

"I might not look it, but I'm great at dangerous stunts and climbing up things not made to be climbed," he said to everyone, hurrying just ahead of the group. "So once we start hitting the steeper cliffs, everyone who can't fly, float, or hover, just follow my lead! I'll find us a way up like a pack of mountain goats migrating for the winter. Or is it the summer? Wait, do goats migrate?"

Any goat-related questions would have to be put on hold, however. Those 'Riders' that the luchadores warned them about literally ran right into them, with Tora taking the brunt of the hit, probably just by chance. Raz was sure to give Tora an encouraging, "See, you're getting it!" either way, what after the train ride and Tora's doubts on his protection skills. One shield-wielder wasn't going to cover everyone against the rest, though. In lieu of an actual tactic here, Raz just shouted, "Quick, we have to get ahead of them!" There was no telling just how many riders were coming down, or if they'd respawn back to the start of the race just like that biker had, so the best solution was to essentially win this race, but in reverse!

Word Count: 499
EXP Gain: +1
Well, let's see how this new CS lands.






RANK 2
19/20 EXP

Location: Sandswept Sky - Tostarena Town


Luckily for Raz he ended up not being the odd one out of the already odd bunch in front of paranoid Ellie, with a lot of his group seeming to follow him inside the same store. The tragic demise of decorum and good patronage notwithstanding, their antics seem to have gotten them a good deal for anything they might want! Though unless the Champion they're fixing to fight exploded into loose change, Raz seriously doubted their collective IOU being fulfilled. It wasn't like the clerk knew what all this gear would be going up against. Well, neither did Raz for that matter, but pitons and puffy coats were bound to be lost or destroyed along the way.

Not wanting to have the guilt of murdering this town's economy on his shoulders during the climb, Raz stepped up to the counter and placed a little stack of coins in front of the register. "Uhh, do you have any cleats in a size four?"

After having paid for his own equipment - he didn't need much, so just a thicker coat, a scarf, and those shoes - Raz figured that a hearty Mexican lunch could help take his mind off of things. Plus, spicy food before a dangerously cold climb was probably a smart idea, right?

To that end Raz loaded up with some of the establishment's hottest offerings, two burritos made with something called a 'Dash Pepper' and a side of chili that the menu purported was so hot he would be spitting fire! Instead, Raz ended up spitting a mouthful of the chili back onto the table once it touched his tongue, with plenty of hacking and coughing.

"Ugh, okay, too hot!" Guzzling his glass of water down, Raz settled back into his seat and began forlornly munching on his burritos, defeated by that dastardly dish. When the conversation turned to the party's size, Raz tapped the side of his head and gave his two cents to large. "It'd probably help if not all of us made the climb, since we have some big baddie at the top to take on. It'll just tire everyone out. I would teleport everyone up there, but that's Ford's specialty, and I don't think he could get everyone. What if we brought something with us to get the others? Like a, some kind of reverse zip-line? Ooh, I think I saw this huge cannon in one of the stores!"
WORD COUNT: 405
EXP GAIN: +1

RANK UP!



RANK 2
18/20 EXP

Location: Sandswept Sky - Tostarena Town


@DracoLunaris@Thatguyinastore


There was a twinge of jealously towards Midna, the imp-y girl able to float, fly, hover, and other air-based verbs, while Raz's own ability to levitate was still out of his reach. If only there were some other Psychonauts around that could, maybe, take a look in there? Dislodge a few things, perhaps? Though given how powerful this Galeem seemed to be, it was probably easier said than done. That wasn't even getting into any possible long-term consequences of being under its influence and Raz didn't feel like opening that can of worms.

"Do you want some?" Raz rooted around his jacket's pocket, pulling out a small handful of golden coins. "Even though I was more of a PR stunt back in Al Mamoon, I still got paid for the job, so I've got a bit to spend. Here." He handed the money off to Midna, giving her a little nod. "Don't worry, I've got more on me."

Looking to the Phantom Thieves, Raz sighed. "It'd be a lot simpler if I could use Pyrokinesis," he said, mostly to himself. "Then I could keep us all a lot warmer." Whatever that could mean was a question to be answered another time, since Raz decided then to split off from the group. "I'm gonna go see if there's anything useful around here!" He called over his shoulder, hurrying off into Tostarena Town proper. It was a half-truth. If Raz found something to help on the climb, that'd be a bonus, but really the feeling of being out of his depth, and out of his league, was starting to get to him. He was used to having to surmount impossible odds and stop the world from ending or just things getting really bad. This whole Galeem business, though, was a different kind of impossibility.

Psychic death tanks? Raz understood those. Brain theft? Easy! An otherworldly, uber-powerful godlike figure that can make whole worlds and impose its will on people's thoughts? That was above his paygrade.

Wrapped up in his worries, Raz wandered the town, not really paying attention to where, until he ended up heading inside one of the many shops this tourist stop had. By a seeming twist of fate, this shop was the same as Ellie ducked into, though Raz walked right past the girl on his way inside. His mind-reading was on the fritz, too, which really tanked his spatial awareness.

"...hope they don't end up leaving without me," Raz muttered, half hoping that they ended up leaving without him. Probable deniability and all. As he was looking at what this store had to offer, a thought struck him, making him perk up considerably. "Oh, I totally forgot!" Raz was probably one of the more normal looking members of the group to Ellie, but what he did next would definitely shatter that idea. He dug out his bacon from his backpack and waved it next to his ear for a good few seconds. And then the oddly-shaped head of Ford Cruller grew from that side of his head, like a weird mushroom, with only a small stagger from the boy.

"I'll just take a few strips of that sweet bacon..." Ford said in a bacony trance, quick to snap back to reality. "Ah, Razputin! I was wonderin' what ya been up to."

"Ford! You won't believe what I ended up discovering."

"Won't I? I'm in your head for cryin' out loud, whatever you see, I can see too! Not that I, uh, peek around in there often, of course."

Brushing aside that remark, Raz pressed forward, not caring how this might look to an outsider. "If you and I are here, does that mean others are too? Milla, or Sasha, or Lili, they could be out there somewhere!"

"Could be," Ford responded, "but the world's a big place, Razputin. I wouldn't get too excited about runnin' into 'em. They can handle themselves, you should focus on yerself now. Can't have ya dying up on that mountain."

"Yes, sir," Raz said, like the elderly man growing out of his noggin was a stern teacher. With their little debriefing concluded, Ford disappeared back into Raz's head, leaving him to continue browsing the shop, unaware that anyone might've overheard.

WORD COUNT: 716
EXP GAIN: +1



RANK 2
17/20 EXP

Location: Sandswept Sky - Tostarena Town


Lining up to beat Tora and watching Tora get beat was a weird experience. It almost felt normal to him, training his abilities while being watched and judged, but in slow motion. He probably just got used to too much of a breakneck pace back home, so being on this semi-mundane train ride and punching at a glorified training dummy - no offense Tora - was almost relaxing. Raz wasn't the only one feeling this way, obviously, since his train-going companions were a beanbag creature and his robotic assistant, a flying imp with a hand for hair, a gigantic bee lady, and what he suspected was a man who was half-saxophone. It would be rude to just ask.

Though 'relaxing' might not be the right word. The trip was more demoralizing than anything else. Once everyone who wanted to give Tora a good smacking gathered, Raz was first up to bat. He gave it his best, which... wasn't good enough at all. Tora was deceptively quick with his shield, blocking any dive, roll, or lunge Raz could throw at him, and his only means of good offense at the moment, his Psi-Blast, could barely push the Nopon back! It was an exceptionally easy act to follow, leaving Raz to mope in the sidelines at the cooler and more experienced members got their licks in. Raz tried to offer his own advice, "Lean into the fall!" and "Pivot with your hips, not your knees!", though it was all talk and no bite. Sure, he was only recently made aware and had to play catch-up in the group, but it still stung to be faced with the reality that he sucked now.

This thought stuck with Raz even after the practice was over. He hung out by one of the side railings of the train, watching the blistering desert whip past them, and looked to the looming mountain that could be seen for miles in any direction. They were going to be climbing that thing, which was dangerous enough without the Champion that they were going to face down. Raz didn't want to be a liability when the stake were so high. He also didn't want to die, which, well, could definitely happen, but that was a thought best kept on the backburner.

As the train pulled into Tostarena Town, Raz's fears only doubled, so close to the mountain that you could lick it, if that's something you wanted to do. "Yup, really big, really high, really scary..." he muttered, disembarking with the rest into the last bit of reprieve they'll have for a while.

Looking around the place, up to the mountain's peek, then down to his shoes, Raz posited an important question. "Does anyone think this quaint desert town sells snow boots?"


WORD COUNT: 464
EXP GAIN: +1


RANK 1
26/10 EXP

Rank Up!
RANK 2
16/20 EXP

Location: Al Mamoon -> Railway Gun


Luckily, Raz could travel light. It wasn't like there was anything from his crummy room he wanted to take with him. Besides, all he needed was what was on his back and in his head. Though he did make sure to stop by a butcher's and pack a few spare strips of bacon for the road. He still smelled a bit like cured meat and spices when he rejoined the group at the train's platform.

"Sorry for the wait," Raz said to, well, just about anybody who was around, since the structure of this group was still confusing for him. "I had to stick around for the Conference, good will and everything before I handed in my 'resignation'. I said that in a way that made it seem like I did something to him, but I just sorta told him I was leaving." With himself explained, Raz looked up at the huge weapon of a train parked in front of them. "Wow, that's a big gun. Uh, train? Gun train?... Grain?"

As everyone literally climbed aboard, Raz hoped the ride to their destination wouldn't be as dangerous of a fall as the mountain they needed to climb. Raz would be able to stay on the train no problem, but, maybe he'll stick to the back of it, just to be safe. And to catch anyone else who might fall off. Sure, something like that.

Once the Railway Gun was in motion, Raz's worries slid away, mostly due to new worries that sprouted up as the journey got underway. Having been secluded to Al Mamoon for so long, he'd grown accustomed to the heat, but not the sun. The big, bright star beat down on him, making the young Psychic sweat under his helmet. "Guhh, I knew wearing a sweater everywhere would be a bad idea eventually." While the train didn't seem to have much in the way of an inside, Raz decided that being in a cramped room was better than sticking out in the heat.

On his way to coolness, though, Raz ran into the big bouncy Tora and his robot companion Poppi. The offer to give Tora 'everything he got' caught his attention enough to ignore the hot, heavy sunlight still falling on him. "I have been falling behind in my training," Raz admitted, "and I'm sure that getting to use my powers could help me gain a few back, too. I'm in!"

WORD COUNT: 406
EXP GAIN: +1
Scrambling Eggman

starring @Gentlemanvaultboy, @TruthHurts22, and @Potemking


Though it would still be quite a while to sunset, one could tell by the light itself that the lazy afternoon enveloping this colorful little slice of the Mushroom Kingdom was turning to evening. On the parapets of Peach’s Castle there hung no handy clocks to tell the time with, but it by anyone’s guess it was some time between the hours of five and six. The last few hours rolled by uneventfully, with little to do but watch the birds and waddlewings soar through a bright blue sky, or attempt to divine shapes in the clouds. Oddly-shaped birds milled around the castle as well, frequenting the trees near the moat. Stable as ever, Hat Kid’s spaceship floated within, a constant source of curiosity for the variety of fishes swimming throughout. From up high the whole of the junkyard could be seen, and without the robot horde that once infested it, the rolling hills and valleys of scrap metal were the playground of rabbid gangs. They seemed to be feuding with some new arrivals, a gang of green pigs that seemed to like building stuff, but the rivalry was nothing compared to the active warfare from before. Beyond that lay the riverland, and farther still the rocky canyons, stretching all the way to the knoll that overlooked the barren wastes to the south--where a single tree had witnessed the beginning of adventure.

It made for quite the peaceable scene, and comfortable naps came easily, but the watchers on the walls couldn’t afford to relax. Kept awake by cool water, hot coffee, or other refreshing drinks provided by the castle’s toad servants, they watched the perimeter of the junkyard. According to the intelligence received just yesterday, a crazed engineer with a robot army planned to lay siege to Peach’s Castle this very day. With much of the day already done with, tension had only continued to mount. The scouts described a technological genius who could design and program advanced machinery to obey his every word, a long-running nemesis to a certain someone a lot of folks knew by both name and reputation. Even those spoiling for a fight and forced to entertain themselves in the meantime knew not the extent of what weapons Ivo Julius Robotnik, the infamous Doctor Eggman, would bring to bear.

With a sigh, King Dedede plopped down his cup of iced cola, waving a mitten at a Waddle Dee for a refill. Immediately the minion, already prepared with a serving glass, stepped forward to fill him up. To either side of him a Waddle Dee fanned him, helping to stave off the warmth of the sunny day. When it came down to it, roof service wasn’t bad, only a step down from room service, really. But however manageable his accommodations, the big penguin appreciated not having his patience tried. Shifting his weight in his deck chair, he complained, “Guh, how long is this son of a gun gonna take? My doggone keister’s goin’ numb!”

Beside him, Caesar gave a short bark, and with a certain insistent dignity pushed his nose into Dedede’s arm for attention. Absently the king patted the dog’s head, then reached over to take a big drink of his soda.

Caesar's bark also served to wake up any of those slipping up on the job. Specifically Pikachu, who had taken advantage of King Dedede's lounging to rest in his shadow and block out the sun earlier in the day. The electric mouse slowly uncurled, letting out a yawn that was nothing more than a high-pitched squeaky "Chuu~" as he stretched and tried to wake up. It'd been made clear enough for everyone involved that trouble was on the way, even if he didn't truly understand the extent of it, personally. So far it just felt like time to rest, which he didn't mind, but knowing trouble was potentially nearing left the rodent feeling a bit uneasy.

Walking on all fours, Pikachu eyed the edge of the castle walls, before making a leap up to get a better look at the sprawling terrain beyond. His ears perked up, seeming to be listening close for anything coming their way. But with his innocent expression, he kept getting distracted with things that flew by, or any minor commotion going on below. Ears occasionally twitching at an alarming sound, though finding it to be nothing to actually worry about. It all served to make the mouse a bit anxious, a slightly more annoyed "Chuuuu." Audibly escaping him as he began to pace back and forth, to keep a continued eye out.

There was a sudden crash as the rooftop door flew open and smashed into the stone wall holding it, proceeding to startle an alert Pikachu into nearly falling off the roof entirely. Out onto the roof, confident yet surly, strode the one and only Wario. “Can’t expect shrooms to have good taste.” He announced, rolling his shoulders. “Not one piece of finely aged garlic in that whole kitchen.”

The kitchen had been the second place Wario had checked after arriving at the castle, the first being the treasure vault to make sure his compensation for this was going to be as large and gloriously gilded as he remembered it being. It hadn’t been. Some duplicitous thief had taken a ton of the treasure before Wario had gotten around to it and, combined with the fact that he had only been able to raid the kitchen for a smorgasbord of sweets, he was ready to take his frustration out on any robot that dared show its face around the castle.

He sauntered up beside Dedede, knocking aside one of the Waddle’s on fan duty without even noticing, and folded his arms as he looked out across the soon to be battlefield. “Look who’s all cozy. You got another bushwack set up, fat boy?” He said, before flexing one of his arms. “Or are you expectin’ Wario to do the heavy lifting this time?”

Having managed to hang on by his forelegs, Pikachu pulled himself back up to solid ground with a sigh of relief. Though it might have been as unpleasant as falling, if not more, as his sense of smell quickly picked up on Wario. The mouse's face scrunched up and could've possibly turned slightly green, but quickly went back to scouting out beyond the castle walls, not paying particular mind to the conversation behind him.

The Pokemon’s discretion was probably for the best. Though an onlooker might see Dedede and Wario as birds of a feather two rather short-tempered heavyweights used to being in charge made for competition rather than companionship. When the biker started flexing the penguin followed suit, showing off just a fraction of his former glory, but that by itself was impressive enough. “I wun’t even expectin’ ya t’lift yourself up them stairs, boah!” he chuckled. “Since yuh here though, ya’ll get a front-row seat when it’s time fer the king to strut his stuff!”

“We’re not gonna need whatever trap ya’ cooked up.” Wario, who regarded even the biggest beefiest of arms as being slightly smaller than his own, replied. He hadn’t considered, when he had first taken this job, that there were two people involved that he would have to show up. In fact, that pipsqueak Mario was only slightly higher than the King on the grudge totem poll ever since Dedede had gotten the better of him back during that Taboo business. He would have to work for it though, as per the principle stated above anyone capable of getting the better of Wario must be a tactical genius.

While the two went at it, Caesar padded over to Pikachu, his fluffy tail wagging. The pokemon’s surprised exclamation following Wario’s sudden arrival drew his interest and attention, leading him to inquire as to what happened. Naturally, wherever Caesar went, his crossbow-wielded personal guards Horatio and Beatrice followed. Being actual trained soldiers, compared to pretty much everyone else present, they’d maintained a steadfast vigil over the entirety of the Junkyard. Keeping one eye on the magnificent dog and one on the landscape ahead was no issue for professionals like them.

As professional as they were, though, something was tugging at their watchful eyes. Situated down in the junkyard instead of up on the wall where the rest of the team were, perched on top of a small throne of old tires, the ever-smoldering Junkrat gestured wildly, engaged in a conversation with a handful of those junk-loving Rabbids that had pulled away from the feud. A snippet of conversation reached up to the defense team. “...and then I said, ‘That ain’t ya mum’... ‘it was the emu!’” Junkrat practically fell backwards with laughter, even louder than the Rabbids he was telling his joke to, not that they even understood it, just matching his manic energy in turn.

The electric mouse stood on his hindlegs, momentarily confused by the mixed laughter of Junkrat and his Rabbids, but after realizing there was no threat to be found, he quickly turned to address Caesar. With a somewhat embarrassed "Pikaa," the mouse gestured towards the door, before clapping his forelegs together like hands, making a small amount of noise before making a slightly dramatic rendition of how he almost fell off the roof. It ended with a more disgruntled "Chu..!" As he momentarily glared in Wario's direction to mark the cause of the whole ordeal, though it raised a bit of confusion with the mouse as he witnessed Dedede's flex. Even he could see the competitive spark, which he simply hoped didn't escalate into a problem on top of the threat already heading their way.

A fair bit below Pikachu on the intellectual scale despite his eminent bearing and other surpassingly fine qualities, Caesar merely opened his mouth to start panting as he continued to softly swish his tail back and forth. Still, he watched the yellow rodent as if fully cognizant of Pikachu’s meaning, and his big brown eyes contained much wisdom to offer in return.

Dedede, meanwhile, relaxed back into his deck chair, pleased with his display of strength and ready for another round of refreshment. A Waddle Dee offered him a fresh glass of cola, and as he took it in hand the king raised it to speed up the cooling with a few swirls of the ice. Condensation dripped down its crystalline surface and into the fabric of his mitten, darkening it for only the briefest of moments, and the sunlight filtering through the glass made the sweet nectar’s amber hue all the richer. “Ah,” he sighed, smacking his beak. “Even if we’re s’posed t’be on guard duty, it’s mighty nice we got a chance to sit around ‘n...chill…”

He narrowed his eyes. Even though he’d stopped moving, the soda in his glass was shaking. It was very slight, rising slowly from nothing rather than the product of a single large tremor, but the big penguin’s royal eyes missed nothing. Remembering the mission briefing, he gave a shrug and downed his drink in a single gulp, then climbed to his feet. As the others continued to chat he reached down to for his iconic hammer, hefting it on his shoulder as he strode up to the battlements of Peach’s Castle. Standing a solid seven feet tall, King Dedede made for quite the imposing figure when he had his war face on as he did now. “Time t’put yer shoes ‘n socks on, folks,” he told the others, pointing out to the eastern side of the junkyard with his yellow mitten. “We got company.”

The king’s deceptively keen mind beat Caesar’s warning bark by almost a full minute. The bark itself, meanwhile, preceded the enemy’s arrival by just a few moments. Over the eastern wasteland ridge overlooking the junkyard an enormous red-painted tank appeared, cresting the terrain like a leviathan surfacing from the depths of the ocean. Before it's terrific bulk came to a stop its gargantuan bay doors had already yawned open, lowering a ramp that extended down over the east-side border river. It slammed into the ground in a blast of dust. “Goooood evening, puny residents of this picturesque countryside!” a voice boomed over the giant machine’s exterior loudspeakers. “I, Doctor Ivo Julian Robotnik, have come to annex your kingdom and consume your resources for the glory of the Eggman Empire! That’s right, today marks the beginning of my grand campaign to conquer the whole world, and you’ve got the indisputable honor of being my first subjects!”

Down the ramp marched ranks of refurbished mercenary robots freshly painted in Eggman’s colors. A vast quantity off rotund, orange Egg Pawns followed behind them, while EggRobos flew overhead and a handful of Egg Keepers hovered along the flanks. “Oh, and by all means, resist all you like! Make things interesting for the both of us, why don’t you? Ahahahahaha!” The machines began their advance, and the battle was on.

Junkrat was still busy yucking it up with his new hyperkinetic rabbity friends, so Eggman’s grand entrance and maniacal speech was lost on him. In fact, he would have missed the whole invasion if not for the villain’s booming laugh joining in with the rest of them. “Hooh, yeah, this guy knows what’m…” Junkrat trailed off as he realized that ‘this guy’ wasn’t actually anywhere near them. “Where’d ‘e go?” He stood up in search of the mysterious laugher, and only then did he notice Eggman’s giant tank cresting the mountains of scrap.

“Oh, that’s right! The thing’s happenin’!” Junkrat spun around to his Rabbid companions and wagged a finger at them. “Don’t ya move, I’ll have this taken care of and be right back, got a real corker I still haven’t told ya!” Abandoning his chuckle buddies for more pressing (and explosive) matters, Junkrat hobbled further into the junkyard, scrabbling up a small mound of collected junk, slipping and kicking pieces of who-knows-what along the way. At the top, he paused, straightening his back to take in the metallic air, watching the approaching robots with a hint of manic glee. A more manic glee compared to the rest of him, that is.

“I’ve been waitin’ for this,” Junkrat said, striking a match against his rusted pegleg. He bent low, bringing the lit match to a bundle of thin, gray wire jutting out from the top of the mound - a collection of fuses all tied together. They lit quick, flaring up like a small firework before the flame burned down into the mound and splintered off, the lit fuses trailing out and all over the junkyard, dipping into and out of expertly crafted hiding spots dotted around the junk.

The entire yard was rigged to go up. Not even Junkrat knew exactly when.

He really should not have gone unsupervised.

“Hah!” Wario exclaimed, cracking his knuckles. “They don’t look so tough.” He took his eyes off the robots as they filed out to side eye Dedede’s hammer. “Hit me with that.” He said, pointing one fat finger at it while patting himself on the skull with his other hand. “RIght here, straight, hard as ya’ can.”

Voicing no objections, Dedede complied straight away and beaned Wario with his massive mallet to send him flying over the battlements of Peach’s castle and down to get up close and personal with the machines. “Waaaaaanotlikethatyoustupidpenguin!” Wario yelled as he flew into the distance. With a bark Caesar jumped up on the ramparts, evidently eager to get to the action, and his bodyguards stood ran up beside him. Though this made for a good vantage point, the range of their crossbows meant that the would only be able to shoot down at an enemy already at the castle’s drawbridge. “Hold tight an’ don’t cause a ruckus,” Dedede told them. “I’ll getcha down.” He opened wide, inhaling air to puff himself up in a literal rather than figurative sense, and vacuumed all three up. Then he leaped over the edge to float down to the battlefield.

The electric mouse took in the sight of the robotic menace, Dedede's word being enough to make it clear this was what they had been waiting for. The unnatural look of the machines made Pikachu feel uneasy, though he hardly identified them as robots himself; They were creatures, just on the wrong side of the conflict as they'd soon find out. With a lack of hesitation, he made his own advance towards the oncoming forces, a small assortment of quick-attacks allowing for Pikachu to traverse down to ground level at a fast pace.

Fleet-footed and combat minded, Pikachu wasn't afraid of heading towards these newfound opponents. A lack of trainer left him to his own mind, and the kindness of the toads providing him with water and food was more than enough reason to defend the castle. That being said, he wasn't confident enough to just ram head-first into a small army of robots, not until there was a fair enough opening anyhow. What was a Pokemon to do, in a situation like this?

To him, the answer was simple. He might've been just a Pokemon, but he'd seen a lot of confrontation. And had at least a little bit of strategy up in his noggin to keep him from getting too hurt. Unaware of the abilities of the machines, Pikachu would take a cautionary approach to the start of the battle until he understood things a bit better. In this case that meant circling to the opponent's side, diverting attention as he kicked off his assault by firing off multiple Thunder Jolts, the round electric orbs traversing along the ground and towards the approaching forces.

As Pikachu began his strafing run, Caesar and his bodyguards sprinted across the castle’s drawbridge toward the archway of giant blocks that led to the Junkyard. Being part of the second group meant to go after Eggman’s base, Dedede brought up the rear alongside Roadhog, and both stopped at the threshold to serve as a last line of defense. With Wario, Junkrat, and Pikachu already harrying the machines as that approached, that left just Horatio, Beatrice, and their canine commander staring across the heaps of scrap at the incoming ranks of robots.

Or so it seemed. Threatened by their old nemeses once again, the raving Rabbids of 1-1 quickly rallied under their ringleader, the prodigious Buckler whose size, shield, and shotgun marked him as the long-eared gang’s number-one combatant. Even as Junkrat’s fuses burned beneath the clutter and Pikachu jolted the foe with electricity, the battlefield came alive with blaster fire. Ziggies exchanged shots with the RED bots and Eggrobos as they gathered from all over, retreating toward Peach’s Castle either due to fear of Junkrat’s explosive traps or a simple desire for safety in numbers. In just a few moments, a couple dozen of the trigger-happy goobers had taken cover near the Junkyard’s entrance, with Buckler standing tall alongside Caesar. The big Rabbid nodded toward the Mercenaries, sharing the tacit understanding that they would cooperate against the machines.

Meanwhile, Pikachu, Wario, and Junkrat’s first foray against Eggman’s army earned them a couple kills, but quickly turned to their disadvantage. None of their enemies boasted the strength of a Notable Spirit, but they had the numbers and versatility to overwhelm any lone combatants that might try to do more than slow them down. The fliers struck from above while the robo-scouts and robo-pyros flanked under the cover of Eggrobos, robo-heavies, robo-soldiers, and robo-demomen, giving the weak but ubiquitous Egg Pawns enough time to march forward and swarm unwary opposition. Caesar’s majestic bark echoed across the battlefield, urging the frontrunners to fall back to where the Rabbids were entrenching themselves to even the odds.

Pikachu followed the commanding bark by scrambling backwards, the rodent not initially realizing the arsenal his opponent wielded for ranged fighting, and the increasing numbers caused concern. At first the counter assault from the Rabbids left Pikachu wondering if he was being attacked from both sides, but thankfully it quickly became clear the creatures were on his side with their targeting of the orange robotic menace. Which Pikachu had no time to ignore, as they opened fire and caused him to turn to retreat.

Dirt kicked up as scattergun pellets landed in close vicinity to the electric mouse, a fleet-footed robo-scout attempting to close in for pest disposal. Not wanting to be filled with lead, Pikachu made use of his quick-attack to pull a 180 and zip beneath the robo-scout's legs, it's head fully turning to see what happened but Pikachu was already charging his attack; Crashing into the back of the robo-scout with a powerful Skull Bash, the rodent smashed through the machine that let out a death cry through it's poor internal speakers as it’s shattered body fell to the ground.

Using the momentum of his Skull Bash Pikachu continued a retreat. However, ears picking up on a 'plomp' sound from behind caused the mouse to look back and notice a red-blinking pill from a robo-demoman grenade launcher flying his way. Annoyed by the pursuit and wanting to fight back, he leapt upwards, twisting his body in full-rotation to build momentum with his tail, which swatted the pill back in the direction of the incoming robots, soaring high but quickly coming down to smack a flying EggRobo in the head, the explosion bringing it crashing down as a pile of fiery scrap onto the others.

As the frontline got closer, Pikachu took to once again attempting a full retreat: Bolting directly towards the entrenched Rabbids while trying to stay out of their line of fire. The most important thing he could do was learn how the enemy worked, and how he could counter them. Unfortunately, the robo-pyro's flames were a danger for him, and he'd need to avoid them the most. But he also couldn't allow them to reach the defensive line, either. This left him using his one ranged option, his Thunder Jolts, to pressure the front line and prepare to jump forward if the enemy forces began to overwhelm their defenses.

Wario couldn’t respond immediately to the bark because he had a nasty habit of losing control of himself when he was on fire. Unlike the electric mouse he had been confident enough to meet the robots head on, or at least to use the distraction provided by the pokemon and the rabbits to start moving from cover to cover, shoulder checking the occupied robots, and then shot putting at those annoying flying ones that didn’t want to come into grappling range. That, unfortunately, had come to a stop when one of those gas mask robots had rounded on him with their nozzle. It had opened out on him with a gout of flame and Wario had gone up like a greased rag. It hadn’t ended so well for the robot either, as it did nothing to slow Wario down. As a matter of fact his panicked legs sent him careening right over the unfortunate robot and anything else in his way, his flailing arms only serving to cause the flames to spread faster. Robots of all kinds were thrown into the air like fireworks as Wario sprinted about the field, ping-ponging off of the different piles of junk, as the fire consumed him more and more. A fortunate ping sent him running back in the direction of the bridge, but by that time there was no Wario any longer. Just a slow moving pillar of flame that crept back toward its comrades.

Having thought he was safe, Pikachu was horrified to turn and see Wario’s now flame-engulfed self barreling in his direction. A quick action of diving to the side was all he could do to avoid the burnt-garlic smelling flame, looking back at it in total confusion and concern.

As it reached the bridge the fire dissipated, having run out of things to burn, leaving only a pile of ash where the smash brother had once stood.

Then the ash pile scattered as Wario popped right out of it like the mystical phoenix of old, none the worse for wear after the whole ordeal. He dusted himself off and hustled back to the new defensive line. “What?” He asked.

The whiplash of Wario’s comedic havoc, then his gut-wrenchingly unexpected and tragic demise, then his subsequent impossible reappearance left Horatio, Beatrice, Pikachu, and more than a few Rabbids totally flabbergasted. Even King Dedede was taken by surprise, rendered jaw-dropped by his frenemy’s apparent destruction. “Huh?! You stinkin’ rascal, I thought you was kilt! Where’n the Sam Hill you learn t’do that?!”

“Ya’ eat enough asbestos to build up an immunity.” Wario replied confidentially, leaving out that he’d thought it’d been a roll of spoiled cotton candy at the time.

A loud roo-roo-rroo! from Caesar cut through the chaos of the frontrunner’s return and brought everyone’s attention back to the incoming robots. Eggman’s forces were getting close, with the Mercenaries’ efforts and parting shots of the Rabbids having put a dent in their fodder, but they still outnumbered the defenders two to one. With everyone united and the enemies funneled into one force between mountains of blocks and other junk, however, they could really start to turn things around. Caesar’s emphatic encouragement filled Wario with energy, a second wind to accompany his new lease on life, and at his heroic baying the Rabbids opened fire. Blue bolts of energy hammered the machines as they drew near, reducing a good dozen of them to seared, sparking husks of scrap metal.

Yet the robot horde was relentless. Its soldiers plodded over and pushed aside the dissolving remnants of their comrades, bearing down on the Rabbid’s positions faster than the shooters could put them down. Unflinching, unfeeling, the bulk of Eggman’s forces would not deviate from their path even for their own safety, but instead overwhelm the enemy. It was time to make a stand. Rearing up onto his hind legs, Caesar let out a rousing howl, and the Rabbids picked up the cry. A chorus of screams and yells resounded through the Junkyard, culminating in Buckler’s mighty bellow, and the troops got to work. Supporters tossed their bouncing grenades and a couple of tanky Smashers barreled forth to bring the pain, with Buckler in the lead. Even Beatrice and Horatio joined in on the battle cry, loosing their crossbow bolts with deadly precision.

Even though he was perhaps the only one of the defensive line who was aware that any part of this junkyard could start exploding at any moment, Junkrat was certainly not one to sit out of the fun! While the rest of them kept to the front to stave off the surge of invaders, Junkrat kept farther back, hobbling over the high dunes of the various scrap heaps. Trusty grenade launcher in his hand, Junkrat lobbed bomb and bomb at any stragglers that managed to survive the initial clash. Robots popped like firecrackers, either in too many pieces to continue forward or thrown into the junkpiles and impaled on the sticky-outy bits. This junkyard was actually really dangerous. And sure, Junkrat may have been a tad careless with his aim and he might have accidentally sent a whole squadron of Rabbids flying in different directions, but…

“If ya didn’t want collateral damage, you made a bad choice! Eeehahah!”

Rallied by Caesar's bark, Pikachu had charged a full-powered Skull Bash to barrel through the approaching forces with a powerful forward charge. As he launched towards the approaching forces, he crashed through multiple Egg Pawns before getting airblasted into the air by a robo-pyro, crying out as he rapidly flew upwards. The blast brought him up to the sky with the remaining EggRobos, the rodent adapting to it's new mid-air situation by bringing his body forward, tail glowing white as he brought it down forcefully onto the flying robot, cracking it's chassis with a powerful Iron Tail attack that sent it barreling downwards, smashing the robo-pyro and some of the surrounding forces along with it in a small, but notably-sized crater.

Blaster shots were a response from the EggRobos still in the sky, Pikachu momentarily finding himself peppered by the attacks that weren't going to put him down, but still caused some pain. He responded by recovering from his mid-air conundrum with a quick-attack towards one of the junk piles, the electric mouse jumping between surfaces rapidly in an attempt to throw off the aerial attackers, their spinning in place as they tried to get a clear shot making them easy pickings for the ranged attackers below, and for Pikachu, who occasionally stopped his constant movement to lash out by leaping forward off of the junk to apply some shock and awe with his electricity and tail to keep the sky forces as distracted as he could.

Meanwhile Wario turned to the ground troops that were closing in on the rabbits shooting line. Standing with the pair of Smashers, whose bulk and living cover status he appreciated, he set to work on the incoming wave. The three smashed as though their lives depended on it, Wario applying fist, head, and elbow to any machine that wasn’t thrown away by the Smashers driving their pillars into the earth or blasted apart by the suppressing fire of the Ziggy’s behind them. They were lanced with bulles, but they were tough enough to endure and the Supporters behind them were generous with the grenades.

Then there was a startled, high pitched scream beside Wario. He looked away from the latest pile of dissolving scrap to find one of the smashers falling over into the dirt, the red robot responsible cooly flipping a butterfly knife closed behind it. It pulled out a revolver as Wario lunged for it, his jaw distending unnaturally wide as he chomped down. The robot never stood a chance as its entire torso was ground to dust between Wario’s pristine molars.

It was around that point, with the sustained firefight between rabbids and robots surrounding a melee frenzy in the middle, that Eggman’s cruel trick revealed itself. Junkrat wasn’t the only one, it turned out, who was playing with explosives. At the distant mastermind’s signal, the dormant bombs rigged inside each and every machine came online. Out of nowhere the machines began to detonate when destroyed, starting with the half-masticated spy-bot in Wario’s jaw. An explosion went off inside him, and though hardly lethal to a man with iron innards who could eat bob-ombs and be left with nothing but a scorched face plus smoky burp, it left him incapacitated long enough that he couldn’t warn the others in time.

With a lack of warning, Pikachu haphazardly flung himself at another EggRobo to smash it apart with a Skull Bash, but was taken entirely off guard upon impact. As he smashed into the machine, it detonated, sending the small Pokemon flying through the air with a loud cry, back over the defensive line. Landing harshly, he rolled along the ground a fair distance before coming to an eventual stop. Absolutely floored by the unexpected attack, even if he could communicate with the rest of the defensive team to warn them, he was struggling to even pull himself up during those crucial moments.

Eggman hatched his scheme to devastating effect. Immediately the rabbids’ cover started getting obliterated a chunk at a time, the machines’ explosions taking a few of the lapins cretins with them. Taken totally by surprise, many of the rank-and-file rabbids broke ranks and fled, mostly to safer positions but a handful out of the warzone completely. As the battlefield shook under the weight of more than a dozen blasts in quick succession, Caesar turned tail and galloped back toward the drawbridge where Roadhog and King Dedede stood by, and after his bodyguards covered their commander’s retreat they followed. Behind them, too close for comfort, lay the moat. The enemy force had dwindled, but the defenders had barely any room left to work with, and their enemies’ explosions meant that their advance could gain ground that much more easily. As the rabbids hunkered down along the final stretch of cover, their erratic and nervous shooting helped to solidify the realization dawning on the defenders: that even with the reserves lending a hand, holding the Junkyard might be a lost cause.

Before they could begin to fall back to Peach’s Castle, however, Junkrat’s own surprise finally came into play. A series of shrapnel-slinging explosions went off across the battlefield, both wrecking any nearby bots and causing their own blasts to go off prematurely. This caused a chain reaction that blew through a whole swath of the enemy force, leaving almost all of the marching fodder wiped out. That left just the more independent merc-bots, a few flying EggRobos, and the Egg Keepers.

Junkrat - the man of the hour, the day, and of tomorrow - wasn’t with his comrades. Exploding robots may have sent sensible people running, it only made the singed and unhinged scavenger draw closer. He was in the veritable belly of the beast, one-sidedly smashing up any robot that passed his way while the tide surged towards their intended target, when it happened. Junkrat’s trained pyrotechnician’s ear caught the faint but very distinct sound of a fuse fizzling up. He lurched in place as a manic chuckle threatened to escape him, and he crouched down, unable to suppress his fit of giggles as he plugged both his ears with his fingers. And then came the boom.

It was magical. Not a single dud among his explosives. A symphony of cacophonous noise and thunder that rattled his teeth. And it continued on, each explosion taking a swathe of robots with it, which in turn blew up and destroyed the robots around them, and so on, so forth. As the initial blasts lead into the increasing number of explosions like a string of dominos made of dynamite, Junkrat stood straight, straighter than he ever had before. A single tear fell from his eye. “Marvelous…”

Though panicked for a moment, Dedede rested his hammer back on his shoulder. “Looks like that grenade-huckin’ varmint did ‘is job! Fellas? Mop ‘em up!”

Caesar’s bark of renewal rang out in agreement. It was time to turn the tide.

Although shaky, Pikachu pulled himself up with a squeaky ”Kaa..” that expressed the strain he felt. He was a bit scorched and obviously damaged, but it was clear the rodent wasn't ready to lay down and faint just yet. With the knowledge that they were now self-destructing upon being defeated, Pikachu noted that it'd be difficult to get beside, and especially behind, the forces now quickly descending upon them And that his close-ranged attacks were out of the question now. Though, the small electric mouse had a plan. The only problem being he needed a lift, and there was only one powerhouse that Pikachu figured could help with that.

Pushing past any reluctant thoughts on the matter, Pikachu scurried up Wario's back and stood upon one of his stocky shoulders. Although unable to truly convey himself vocally aside from a tone of urgency, he tried to get his point across by standing on his hindlegs and using his forelegs to gesture. "Pi!" He brought a leg back as if he was going to throw something. "Ka!" He then actually imitated the toss, before pressing both of his forelegs against himself while staring at the garlic-scented man. "Chu!"

Wario spit some of the sharpness that had been lodged in his esophagus as he watched the little yellow rat perform his little mime routine now that the australia rat’s booby trap had bought them some breathing room. “Ahh!” He said, grabbing the Pokemom. “Wa!” He leaned back, holding Pikachu in one hand like a pro football player. “Ri!” He said, as sound that could only be the iconic noise of building power began emanating from his muscles. Wario actually began to flash as the noise reached a fever pitch. “Oh!” He said, as the power was released. His arm snapped forward, launching Pikachu high into the skies above.

Soaring unlike Arceus intended for his kind like a miniature poké-float in the sky, Pikachu's small form made an easy long-distance throw for the likes of Wario and it gave the rodent the exact height advantage he needed. His bright yellow form a momentary distraction for the still-marching robotic forces, drawing fire but managing to mostly keep unscathed by midair twists and turns that kept him out of harm's way. The mouse tried to keep focused below, starting to visibly trickle with electricity as it watched below for the center of the remaining horde, wanting to strike at the heart of the forces and reduce them to scrap.

The sky above Pikachu darkened immensely, as if a huge storm had rolled in seemingly out of nowhere as drifting white clouds turned to gray. Knowing his job and just how to accomplish it, the surging mouse saw his opportunity and braced itself, letting out a loud cry as it called a mighty bolt of Thunder down from the sky. It instantly split the ground as it coursed directly through one of the remaining robotic mercenaries, the machine exploding but being only one of many as the ground around the forces cracked, electricity crackling through the area and causing immense damage to the group of robots at large. The chain reaction of explosions wasn't much compared to the chaos the Australian rat had caused, but it brought the enemy's already dwindling numbers to nearly nothing but a rain of scrap and wreckage.

Unfortunately for Pikachu, already tired and somewhat beaten, such an attack was too much. Above the wreckage, he could be seen drifting down towards the ground with seemingly no means of stopping himself. The rodent expended what strength he had to try and finish off Eggman's remaining assault, and was now left as simple target practice for the remaining EggRobos, who took aim and prepared to turn the small rat into nothing with blaster fire.

From behind the fight at large, an individual jumped off the walls of Peach's Castle. He drifted in the air gliding along and only descending at a slow rate, stopping said descent as he grabbed the brim of his hat and seemingly floated upwards into a front flip over the defensive line: With a lack of hesitance and but a flick of his wrist he sent out what seemed to be an everyday red yo-yo with his other hand to snatch Pikachu out of the air by wrapping him with the string, pulling the small creature to him to protect it. Seemingly throwing them both into harm's way of the EggRobos’ blaster fire that was now directing at two bundled targets instead of one, it looked for a moment that both would end up on the wrong side of gunfire and possibly perish.

"P.K... Magnet!"

A blue forcefield of pure physic energy surrounded both the boy and the rodent, absorbing the projectiles coming their way preventing any harm. This left the aggressive EggRobos easy pickings as they tried to break it with continuous fire in what seemed to be a useless effort. Though for the moment it left the boy, Ness, on the defensive using his PSI abilities to keep Pikachu guarded until he had an opportunity to actually retreat back with the injured mouse.

The one-two punch of Junkrat's explosive mayhem and Pikachu's lightning storm dealt irreparable harm to Eggman's incursion, leaving only a few handfuls of machines still functional to try and take revenge for their fallen brothers. The rodent duo's efforts served not just to reduce the enemy forces, but also to embolden and open the way for their allies, and the raving Rabbids were all to happy to charge forward and mop things up. Wario joined the smashers to reduce the more aggressive robotic remnants to scrap metal, while those still grouped together for defense became easy targets for blaster fire, lobbed grenades from Junkrat, and the deadly hook-meatshot-melee combo from Roadhog. Thanks to Ness, the machines even failed to punish Pikachu for the attack that left him overextended and overexerted. It wasn't long before the last robots of Eggman's army, unable to retreat, were hunted down and destroyed.

The battle had been hard-fought, with a great many wounds and more than a few lost Rabbids on the side of the defenders, but in the end they'd won themselves a complete victory. When the mad doctor's broadcasted voice resounded across the junkyard once more, however, Eggman sounded cool as a cucumber. "Pardon me for interrupting what I'm sure feels like a very well-earned session of patting yourselves on the back, but if you think you've beaten me, you're even dumber than you look. What you fought just now were really just the lowest of the low--generation one of the glorious New Eggman Empire's robotic hordes. Not bad for starting from scratch though, huh? By my count we bagged over a dozen bunnies, and every one of those annoying pests you lose is one you won't get back, while my creations are infinitely replaceable...and improvable! In fact, I really must thank you for putting my prototypes through their paces and providing such excellent combat data. Tomorrow's batch will put today's to shame, and even if you beat them, they'll be even tougher the day after. I'll keep coming as long as it takes, picking you off one by one until every last one of you is dead, and this idyllic kingdom is all mine!"

For a couple moments his cackles rolled across the battlefield, but after trailing off Eggman leaned into the microphone, his voice low and serious. "That is what it means to be at war. So rest up, enjoy what time you have, and when the time comes fight with all you've got. It'll make my conquest that much sweeter." Then, with a final blip, his voice was gone. The enormous vehicle atop the crag overlooking the junkyard began to roll backward, departing for home base.

For a moment, Ness' gaze traveled from the scrap across the battlefield, the Rabbids’ spirits sprawled about, and the transport machine that began to roll away. War, that's what this was? For the sake of flexing an ego and leaving nothing behind but bodies, for what? Territory? The fun of it? The fact that people like Eggman existed brought a sick feeling to the boy's gut, and as he looked down at the creature in his arms, his eyes narrowed into a determined glare. They didn't have time to wait around for another attack, that's how he saw it. Eggman pointed it out himself that he'd have more and more robots to overrun this castle, and if this was just the beginning yet those bots managed to get so close, waiting for a future assault wasn't an option.

Focusing some of the power absorbed from Magnet, he used it to apply PSI Lifeup β to Pikachu. It allowed the rodent to at least regain consciousness, stirring awake and managing to weakly stand once Ness slowly lowered him to the ground. "We can't just let that thing roll away, right?" Ness questioned aloud, turning to look back at where their opposition had come from. "If we follow after it, we might be able to find where he's making his army."

“That’s what we’re here for, son!” Dedede announced, waddling forward with his hammer hefted over his shoulder. Roadhog advanced beside him, a silent colossus that rivaled the king penguin in height despite being one hundred percent human, unless that piggish mask of his hid something other than a face. The rabbids around them dispersed to take a well-earned siesta, but for the Mercenaries the end of their defense meant that it was time to launch an offense of their own. “Y’all ready? That jumbo hunka junk’s big, but if we dawdle ‘round any longer we’ll lose it anyways. Let’s mosey!”

Although weak, Pikachu heeded Dedede's call for action. He slowly moved forward, a concerned Ness turning to get in the mouse's way. The boy crouched down, gently laying a hand on Pikachu's head. "You took a lot of damage," He noted with a small frown. "You ought to stay and recover here, we can handle the rest." Although Ness' heart was in the right place, it wasn't difficult to tell the small Pokemon was quite stubborn as it pushed against his hand and wanted to get past anyways. "Piii!" The rodent audibly complained, a slight aggression in his tone.

Closing his eyes, Ness took to using his telepathy to come to a full understanding of the mouse's words. Realizing quickly it was quite careless to leave Pikachu as-is if he was so insistent on coming along, Ness was quick to rise back to full-height, his eyes opening to look down at the feisty little creature. "Okay." He said simply in compliance, turning away. Raising a hand, he patted his own shoulder, head turning enough to see Pikachu with one eye. Who looked at Ness in momentary confusion, before picking up on his intentions. He climbed up onto Ness's shoulder, seeming appreciative if a small lick to Ness' face was any indication, deciding to use the opportunity to rest up a little bit on the way.

Slightly embarrassed, Ness managed to hold back a joyous little laugh to instead focus on the task at hand. "Right, no more waiting. I can heal on the way, if anyone's hurt." He noted to the other mercenaries, before beginning to march off in pursuit of that machine. Despite being small in both the age and height department, Ness showed a notable lack of fear that went well with his calm demeanor. This wasn't his first war, and in his opinion, this one was much less frightening than the beings he'd faced before.

And just like then, he had no intention of losing.


There was an odd sense of belonging starting to poke at the back of Vincent's mind. Not with the group of college students he found himself with, though the shared danger made them feel closer than mere strangers, but instead a belonging in the strange, hostile world they found themselves. His instinct, usually prickly and sensitive from seeing danger around every corner felt focused here, directing him much more purposefully than ever before. The threat was obvious - the guards, the monsters, these bizarre basketball people - and seemed to gravitate towards their 'spots', leaving a few areas seemingly safe. For everyone else involved, like Nick and Caelum with him, the danger present was completely out of the ordinary, a cannonball into the deep end when you could barely swim.

Vincent, though? He was stepping into a kiddie pool.

Moving from the prison yard and the basketball court into what looked like a gigantic garbage dump, Vincent felt his limbs grow heavy with each step they took. Dakota using his 'Personie' or whatever it was called to heal his injuries definitely helped, but the crash from the adrenaline was still falling on him. Plus, he'd exerted himself a whole lot more than he usually did. Magic or no, he didn't have unlimited stamina.

He was dragging his feet when they arrived at a less-than-demolished house, almost tripping on whatever broken piece of furniture was in their path. With Nick slowing down, obviously drawn to the house, Vincent took the opportunity to put his hands on his knees, huffing and puffing out a few breaths to keep himself stable.

"Hey, you, you go with him," Vincent said to Caelum, watching Nick wander inside. "I'll keep an eye out here. Just, shout if there's any monsters that pop out." He leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms. He really hoped there wouldn't be any monsters in there... but there probably was. He'll take the chance to rest for now.
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