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Star Allies, Unite!

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What is a friend?

Friends are people who share a close connection; a mutual affection, of sorts.

Friends come and form through many means: a slow burn build-up, fire-forged ferocity, or even an act of salvation. They can be people of many colorful identities: good-hearted people, stubbornly-defiant authorities, cool and collected thieves, or even the darkest of villains.

Whatever the reasons, there will always be those willing to put their hearts out to gain a closer relationship – and whoever the people, there will always be those willing to accept it.

…and there’s no denying the power that such friendship can hold.

It doesn’t matter what comes one’s way—be it simple matters, like a mere collectible out of reach… or a grave difficulty, such as the incoming end of the world—so long as one has their friends by their side, there is nothing they cannot accomplish.

But what if a friend has become distorted, no longer the person they used to be?

Would it still be worth holding on to the remnants of the past then, merely out of old affections?

Or, in the end… would breaking one’s ties be the right choice to make?

…even despite all the things he had done for you?

(There’s no easy answer, and no easy way forward. There can never be, with a question so broad—and so difficult.

But perhaps, if a determined soul, empowered by the happiness in his soul and the friends by his side, were to come in to give one final chance…

…there might be hope remaining after all.)


He had renewed his chanting.

Day after day, night after night, he stood in front of the altar where the Jamba Heart once resided, utterly oblivious to anything that might be in his surroundings.

Hour after hour, minute after minute, he pleaded to the stars above that his desires may be granted, that his dethroned Dark Lord of Destruction may rise again, with a vigor that no one—not even Zan Partizanne, his once closest confidant—had ever seen.

He barely stopped to eat. He barely stopped to sleep.

All that mattered to him was to salvage the only things he knew.

No matter what, he would revive Void Termina.

No matter what, he would prove the Ancients wrong.

No matter what, he would salvage his faith and bring forth a new era—the era that was so ungraciously denied to his beloved Destroyer of Worlds— …even if he had to rip apart the space between dimensions in order to do so.

And if it required the damaging of his very soul as well?

…then so be it.

“Oh, Dark Lord of Destruction… Oh, our glorious Void Termina… For your sake—

“I SHALL OPEN THE GATES TO UNTOLD DIMENSIONS, AND RESTORE TO YOU THE GREATNESS YOU WERE DENIED! HEAR MY PRAYERS, AND COME TO ME!”


“Something’s wrong with Lord Hyness,” Zan Partizanne said, just outside the altar to the Divine Terminus. The normally reserved Bringer of Shock was noticeably far more worried than usual, her hands trembling in fear of what could happen.

“We can see that, Zan!” Flamberge exclaimed, raising her arms to the air—though she was equally as anxious as her elder sister. “He’s been like that ever since that stubby little pink thing and his stupid ‘friends’ came in and wrecked the place! That’s… That’s nothing unusual!”

Francisca paced around nervously from behind her hotheaded sibling. “But you must admit,” the Frozen General said, “Lord Hyness has certainly been chanting far more frequently than usual. Ever since we gave him those documents relating to crossing time and space, he hasn’t moved from the altar. I fear for his health, as I’m sure you do, Zan.”

Zan Partizanne had no discomfort admitting that – it was she who was the most devout of Hyness’s followers, feeling indebted to him after he had managed to rescue her sisters. Even if Hyness treated her with disrespect – something the Bringer of Shock would deny to the very end – she remained loyal to her leader, far more so than Francisca and Flamberge could ever hope to be, even though they too had been similarly rescued from precarious situations.

And to stand here, right outside her lord’s gate, unable to help or do anything as he stood wasting away in that NOVA-forsaken altar…

…well, it most certainly peeved her more than usual.

“…then we should not be standing here,” she stated quietly. “If Lord Hyness is performing another of his ritual, then we—the Mage-Sisters of Jambandra—should be by his side!” She lifted her head, eyes steeled in resolute determination. “We may have failed him before, but we will not do so again! Come what may, we will stand by his side and oversee the achieving of his desires!”

“But Zan—you know he’ll just yell at you again!” Flamberge cut in. “Lord Hyness hasn’t treated you with any real kindness for years! If we distract him now, when he’s in the middle of something important…!”

She didn’t bother to finish. Though their loyalty to their leader was unquestionable, despite some misgivings, the topic of his treatment toward them was a sore spot between Flamberge and Zan, especially since Zan was enamored with the so-called Officiant of Doom. Often, the two sisters would quarrel over it, with Francisca acting as mediator. Had this been any other day—or more accurately, a day prior to the Star Allies’ trouncing of Void Termina, the same thing would have occurred, just as it always had.

But today was not such a day.

Zan hesitated for a moment, before balling up her hands in fists. “…for Lord Hyness, I will endure it all,” she declared softly. “There is no danger we cannot overcome in the service of our lord. I will stand by him, no matter what happens.” More quietly, she added, “…it is all I can do after all he has done for me.”

“…Zan…”

“Berge! Zan!” Francisca suddenly spoke up, catching the two sisters’ attention. “I think something’s happened to Lord Hyness! Listen!”

The two generals complied. Indeed, if they listened closely, they could hear a low, warbling hum echo out from the altar door—a hum that spoke of malice and darkness. And it was getting louder by the second.

Zan’s eyes widened. “Lord Hyness!” she screamed, and—whipping out her spear—bust down the door and ran inside. Startled, Francisca and Flamberge glanced at each other before running into the altar after their elder sister. “Zan! W-Wait up!”

The altar was unchanged from its state following the Star Allies’ first visit to the Divine Terminus. Under ordinary circumstances, nothing should have been any different from usual – but what Zan was witnessing before her eyes had petrified her where she stood.

Francisca rushed to Zan Partizanne’s side and asked, “Z-Zan! What… What are you…” When she noticed her elder sister not responding, she turned to look at where she was gawking –and gasped just as well.

Flamberge followed suit, once she managed to stand alongside her siblings – and the three could only stare helplessly as the whole terminus began to rumble and roar all about them. The sight before them was unlike any ritual their leader had ever done before – and the results of this latest one… terrified them to an almost wordless degree.

“Lord Hyness…” Zan said breathlessly. “…what have you done?”


Elsewhere, in the Gamble Galaxy…


Gamble Galaxy
Lor Starcutter – Cockpit

“Pop Star has been pretty interesting lately,” Magolor mused aloud, sitting on a chair in front of his ship’s computer. “The things Kirby and co. stumble upon—they’re truly something else. I thought I had seen it all after Dedede’s Cake Royale, and yet… they never cease to amaze me.”

Months beforehand, Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Bandana Dee—the core members of the Star Allies—had found a Warp Hole on the grounds of Castle Dedede. Travelling through it, they discovered a most unexpected revelation: another Pop Star, both alike and different from their own.

After they (and their other friends, once they managed to make their way there) had grown accustomed to the other side, the Star Allies had decided to take a trip back home, as a sort of vacation. It would mean saying good-bye to their new friends for a while… but they knew it wouldn’t be long before they came back.

Meanwhile, Kaede and her friends—sixteen Ultimate students that had arrived from a wholly different world entirely; it was a long story—were to be staying in Cappy Town in their place. Kirby had hoped they would like it—after the madness all sixteen of them had went through (another long story), he thought they more than deserved the relative normalcy. Having heard their stories himself, Magolor certainly agreed. (The things he had heard… they gave out a level of despair very evocative of his time as a Soul Boss—which was very, very unpleasant to think about.)

“But despite all the things that have happened in recent years, it’s good to see that Pop Star is still the same World of Miracles as always.” Beneath his scarf, the Halcandran gave a small smile as he looked toward the front door. The stars of the Gamble Galaxy looked back, twinkling as if to show their appreciation as well. “It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since I first introduced myself to Kirby. My, how time flies…”

It has certainly been a long time, the Lor agreed. It makes one appreciate the part of our lives we take for granted.

The Lor Starcutter, Magolor’s faithful ship, had been rumored to have a mind of its own – and, as it turned out, this rumor turned out to be a factual one. (Like most of the legends surrounding the Gamble Galaxy, coincidentally enough.) The Lor had awakened a year after Magolor’s attempt to conquer the universe—yet another long story—and he found himself talking to her quite a lot. It helped pass the time whenever he was traversing dimensions.

He chuckled. “Yes, it does, doesn’t it? Becoming a Soul Boss really gets you thinking about it—and I’ve always been grateful for how much the experience has changed me, as unpleasant as it may have been. Kirby held no grudge against me, too – something I’m also grateful for.”

Kirby… I am often surprised at how strong his compassion can be, the Lor admitted. For him to make so many friends despite several of them being of dubious morality… It is no wonder why he is considered the hero of Pop Star.

A small grin. “Well, whatever the case, I’m glad he’s been able to help out so many people in Dream Land. He really is a great friend.” Magolor swiveled back to face his computer, his gloved hands reaching out to clack at his keyboard. “Right, enough reminiscing. It’s time for your daily check-up, Lor.”

The Lor would’ve nodded had she been able to. That would be much appreciated, captain.

He booted up several systems, checking the functionality of the Lor Starcutter’s systems, weapons, etc. “Let’s see… Wings are attached and require no tune-up,” he recited aloud. “The fins are flapping at their regular intervals; the engines are operating perfectly well…”

As he checked-off several items on his mental check-up checklist (what a redundant saying), a low-volume alert suddenly popped into view from the side of his monitor. “Huh?” He moved his chair over as to get a better look at the alert. “This doesn’t look like a ship problem… What’s going on?”

I do not know, the Lor said. This is an unprecedented event to me. Shall I open it for you?

“That would be nice, thank you.” The alert went full-screen, bringing with it a whole list of statistics and analytics for Magolor to read. His eyes went across the screen from left-to-right several times as he delved into the ramifications of what an alert such as this would mean.

At first, it seemed like the usual report, something that he would investigate in his free time when he had nothing else to do. After all, according to Kirby, there wouldn’t be another world-threatening (or galaxy-threatening) event for at least another year or two, so he could afford to sleep it off a little.

Then he read this line.

[WARNING]
Massive fluctuation in dimensional energies detected. The energies appear to be coming from Another Dimension in rapid succession.

“…what!?”

That—That’s got to be joking, right!? There’s—there’s no way…!

As he continued to read the report—even though he very much didn’t want to—his eyes began to widen, and his jaw, hidden though it may be, dropped in complete and utter shock. The Lor’s systems would never lie to him like this, even after he had stolen her from Halcandra, which could only mean… “Oh no,” he muttered, “oh no, no, no. No, no, no—no! This—this is bad. This is very bad!”

And as the cherry atop the disaster sundae, this sentence popped up to him as well:

Due to the influence of dark, occult magic, Another Dimension appears to have gone into an unstable state, and is leaking energies to and from the designated World of Miracles, Pop Star. It is believed that this instability may cause…

It was clear: there was no way he could sleep this off. He knew it, and his ship knew it as well.

…I believe we may need to chart a course back to Planet Pop Star, the Lor advised. We must inform the Star Allies of this posthaste. Should this situation escalate without us taking action…

Magolor didn’t need her to finish. “I got it, I got it!” His fingers began dart all over his keyboard, the Lor outside turning one-hundred-eighty degrees and making a mad dash (or the maddest dash it could take) straight back to Pop Star.

He grit his teeth as—on a separate window on his computer screen—the image of Pop Star grew closer and closer in view, and he clenched his fists anxiously as he mentally prepared an idea as to what to tell his friend.

“…this is going to suck,” Magolor decided.

I could not have said it any better myself.


Pop Star
Castle Dedede – Balcony

“It’s a beautiful day today,” King Dedede remarked, relaxing in a beach chair atop the balcony. “Butterflies are fluttering, Waddle Dees are waddling… These past few months may have been great, but it’s always nice to be able to relax in peace like this.”

Beside him, Kirby was also lounging in a beach chair, though he was naturally sitting in it rather than laying back. “You got it,” he agreed, holding up a parasol as to block out the sun. (Sure, it was the tail-end of autumn right now, but allow him some style points, would you?) “Your Cake Royale, the Jamba Heart crisis, the True Arena, Kaede and her crew, Cappy Town… I think this year has been the single most eventful one we’ve ever had. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.”

As per usual, Bandana Dee was by his King’s side, enjoying the scenery as well though he wasn’t exactly sitting. “I just hope we’ll be able to get to the next month without anything crazy happening,” he said. “I really want a nice, easy Christmas—you know, to celebrate surviving everything. That’s… That’s not too much to ask for, right?”

Dedede grinned. “Of course not, Dee!” He ruffled his assistant’s head. “Yeah, it has been a pretty crazy year – but we shouldn’t let it discourage us! We’ve become closer to each of our friends, old and new,” even if some of them were rather weird to think about it (Marx and Dark Meta Knight come to mind), “and Pop Star’s been the brightest it’s ever been. No matter what happens next… I’ll be proud knowing we’ve accomplished so much.”

Bandana Dee’s eyes shone as he listened to his King. “Gr-Great… Great King…! Your words… They’re so beautiful…! You always know what to say at times like this!”

“Well, of course I do! I’d be a terrible king if I weren’t able to lift anyone’s spirits up, after all!”

Kirby smiled at his two best friends’ antics. He looked back to the Green Greens and Green Gardens beyond, basking in the grasslands and the donut structures littered throughout. And to think, over eight months ago, these lands were wrapped in another desperate crisis…

Heh, good thing that’s over and done with. All we’ve got is the beginning of the new Smash tournament ahead, and then 2018 will be over and done with! He wiped some imaginary sweat from his forehead. Can’t wait for then!

“But…” Bandana Dee spoke up, “we never did find out what happened to the Jambandra Cult.” Right, Kirby remembered, the villains from our last adventure. “Adeleine and our friends told us they were alright and not doing much beyond being creepy and all, but… I can’t help but worry about what they might do next. They… never really became our friends, in the end…”

“Hey, relax!” Kirby assured him, turning his head to give him a confident smile. “I’m sure they’ve at least learned a lesson from what’s happened. And if they didn’t… well, us Star Allies will be able to take on anything together!”

The official formation of the Star Allies was something Kirby was immensely proud of. The seeds had always been there with his three main companions and all – but the return of all his other friends on his newest and greatest adventure finally cemented it as a real thing. All his friends together, facing off against any threat that may come their way…

…it was a glorious sight to think about.

“…I-I guess you’re right,” Bandana Dee relented. “Maybe nothing bad will happen after all…” He looked beyond the balcony—and then his eyes proceeded to widen. “G-Guys!” he pointed up at the sky, “L-Look over there!”

“Dee? What’s…?” Kirby and King Dedede followed his request, and they became witness to a startling sight: the Lor Starcutter, exiting a dimensional portal and descending right in front of Castle Dedede. Its entrance reminded Kirby of the first time they met – but the fast speed at which it was coming down spoke of something other than a friendly visit to Pop Star.

“It’s… Magolor,” Dedede realized. “What’s he doing, docking in front of my castle like that? He doesn’t normally do that…”

“Oh no,” Bandana Dee muttered. “If—If he’s doing that… D-Don’t tell me…!”

“Something must be up,” Kirby said. “Something’s that spooked him enough that he had to get our attention like this.” And wasn’t that a worrying thought. Magolor’s a pretty hard to scare individual, he recalled, so if he’s here right now…!

“We gotta go check it out!” Kirby bounced from his chair and dashed back into the castle, with Dedede and Bandana Dee following suit moments later. Whatever their plans for the day—it could wait!


Castle Dedede – Entrance

“Magolor!” Kirby called out, rushing out from the gates of Castle Dedede to where the Lor Starcutter was presently residing. Magolor was standing next to his ship’s front door, wearing an anxious expression that the pink puffball had never seen on him before. And even the sight of his friend didn’t seem to soothe his worries. That didn’t bode well! “What’s… What’s the news?”

“Yeah!” King Dedede was soon by Kirby’s side, looking a little tired from all the running he just did. “You don’t normally come in so close to us. Is… Is there something wrong?”

“The True Arena didn’t start up again, did it!?” Bandana Dee gulped. “Ohhhhhh, I’m not prepared to go through another boss gauntlet…!”

The Halcandran looked at his three friends, an intensely grave atmosphere surrounding the normally jovial traveler. “Kirby, Dedede, Bandana Dee,” he said slowly, “I need you to gather everyone.”

Kirby blinked. “Huh? Everyone? Like… all of the Star Allies?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Everyone. It’s an emergency. An extremely dire emergency. One that’ll affect the entirety of our galaxy. And everybody needs to be here to hear it, now.”

Magolor was serious. Very serious. And very spooked; Kirby could hear something wavering in his voice as he spoke, which told wonders in the heat of the moment. He wouldn’t lie about this, Kirby knew that.

Dedede nodded, putting on a serious expression himself. He blew a whistle from his mouth, and in seconds, a swarm of Waddle Dees gathered by his side. He turned to them and commanded, “Waddle Dees! I need you to bring all the Star Allies to in front of Castle Dedede, stat! Adeleine, Gooey, Marx, Dark Meta Knight—even Taranza; he’ll want to hear this too—everyone needs to be here, on the double!”

The Waddle Dees all saluted, and—after grouping together—took off in different directions to where each Dream Friend was located. While normally it would be a difficult task to find several people in such a short timeframe, Waddle Dees were known for getting things done in a very efficient manner. They were the perfect men—err, creatures for the job.

“What—What kind of danger i-is this, M-Magolor?” Bandana Dee asked as his brethren carried out their King’s orders. “…p-please tell me it’s not the True Arena.”

“It’s not the True Arena.” For a moment, Bandana Dee looked hopeful that this wouldn’t be as bad as he thought. I—I could be overreacting! It… It might just be something small! Y-Yeah! It has to be!

His hopes were then immediately shattered. “It’s worse.”

Kirby and Dedede both looked disturbed. “…worse than the True Arena?” Kirby breathed. That—That couldn’t be possible. The True Arena had always been the worst things Kirby had ever faced. Always. For there to be something worse… “Are… Are you serious?”

“Kirby,” Magolor said, “I have never been more serious in my life.”

A silence passed between the quartet. The three (out of four) core members of the Star Allies glanced at each other with great worry. This is really, really not good, they shared the same thought, before they turned back to the once-final boss. “…tell us all about it,” Dedede said. “If it’s as bad as you say, then… we’re gonna need to know everything about what’s happening.”

“I hear you loud and clear. Come in; the Lor and I have all the information you need.”


Sacred Square

From atop a cliff at the Sacred Square, Meta Knight glared toward the skies. “I can feel it,” he said to himself. “There is a new disturbance out in the galaxy. One with a danger level higher than we have ever seen before.”

Being the ‘Strongest Warrior in the Galaxy’, the commander of the Meta Knightmares was very in tune with the events that happened on Pop Star – and he knew that something very bad was on the cusp of happening. As a core member of the Star Allies, he knew that not investigating this to the fullest extent he could would be a devastating mistake, one he was not inclined to pursue.

“Kirby and King Dedede surely know about this already,” he mused. “I must join them as soon as possible. This threat must be extinguished!” With that bold declaration, he spread out his wings and took to the skies, a hard destination already in mind.


Great Forest

“Our esteemed King needs us, you say?” Coo questioned. The Waddle Dee in front of him – and all the others – nodded assent. “Something about a big ship and a bigger danger?” They nodded again, giving the owl all the information he needed.

“Well, mates,” Rick said, “looks like we’ve got an invitation to a new cowabunga. You guys ready?”

“Adventures are nice,” Gooey airily added. “Especially with good friends. Kirby’s a good friend. Let’s go be even better friends. And have a big picnic. Mmm, picnic…”

“If he and Kirby needs our help,” Kine chimed in, “then there’s no way we can decline. He’s going to need all the help he can get, I think.”

“I guess you’ve got that right!” Coo turned back to the Dees. “Alright, Waddle Dees—take us to Castle Dedede! We’ll be there behind you!”


Cloudy Park – Strawberry Pass

“Our friends need our help?” Adeleine asked from atop her usual place. She had been painting as usual when a group of Dedede’s Waddle Dees had come up to her and stated their wishes. “Something dangerous is approaching us fast?”

“There’s no time to waste, then!” Ribbon exclaimed with a determined expression. “Kirby and Dedede have done so much for us already; it’s only right we help repay the favor!”

Adeleine smiled. “I suppose there’s nothing else to it, huh? I’m up for painting away at the bad guys again.” She turned back to the Dees. “Castle Dedede, right? Then let’s go! Ready, Ribbon?”

“Ready, Addie! C’mon!”


Float Islands

“A new mission from our bloated king, you say?” Dark Meta Knight sneered, scaring several of the Waddle Dees in front of him from his rather hostile demeanor. (It had been a long morning for him, and he was rather grumpy. “And just what is the nature of this new… galactic crisis?”

“Who cares?” Much to his annoyance, Marx hopped in to his side, wearing the same irritating grin the mirror knight had reluctantly grown accustomed to over the past few months. “I, for one, think it’ll be great to mess with whoever’s behind this!” Adopting a more serious expression for a moment, he added, “and if it’s the True Arena again… then we can’t exactly skip it now, can we?”

“…you make a good point, you irritating insect.” After what he had been forced to witness in the stadium… he wouldn’t pass a chance to tear apart the True Arena’s hosts where they stood.

“Hey, I try my best to please everybody.” That was a big fat lie on the level of Kokichi’s ones, but there was no time to think about that now. “Betcha I can get to Castle Dedede faster than you can!”

“What!? Oh no, you don’t, you little pest. I’ll be the one to make it there first!”

“Try me, Darky! Hee hee hee!”


Daroach’s Airship – Cockpit

“Kirby and Dedede require my services, you say?” Daroach said, an eyebrow raised in amusement at the Waddle Dees that had come to see him. The Squeak Squad was going to go investigate the Raisin Ruins again for any other lost treasures they hadn’t found, as he had done months earlier. But…

“Well, if our planet’s savior and king need our assistance, who am I to deny them that privilege?” he continued.

“Yeah, boss!” Storo agreed. “We might even find even better treasure than where we normally do!”

“It might give me ze opportunity to ztudy new, advanced technologies…” Doc giggled. (It was a rather creepy giggle.)

Spinni shrugged, as if he didn’t particularly care either way – but the leader of the Squeak Squad knew he was secretly interested. And that was all the confirmation he needed to make his action.

“Very well. To Castle Dedede we fly!”


Floralia
Dreamstalk Base

“…King Dedede is calling for me?” Taranza quietly asked from the base of the Dreamstalk. The Waddle Dees nodded, and the arachnid-turned-current regent of Floralia sat and thought for a bit.

The self-proclaimed king of Dream Land had been a close friend of his, ever since Queen Sectonia had been dethroned as a result of her corruption (he involuntarily sniffed at the reminder). Though he had yet to join him or Kirby on any major adventure… Dedede had stated that he had been a great person to have on Pop Star, especially during the Robobot crisis of two years prior.

He had consoled him after the death of his once-best friend, and even helped him get his bearings as the de facto leader of the People of the Sky, once Sectonia… ‘passed from this realm.’ Even though the once-villain had kidnapped him and forced him to fight his best friend, he held no grudge. And now that he—and Kirby—needed his help for real…

…there was no way he could refuse.

“…alright,” he replied. “Take me to him.”


Haltmann Works H.Q.
President’s Office

Elsewhere in space, Susie—second president to the Haltmann Works Company—stared at a list of analytics similar to what Magolor had seen only an hour prior. Her eyes narrowed as she continued to read about it—and then she growled.

“Another Dimension, huh…” She closed her eyes. “That place… Why… Why does it continue to haunt me…!?” Her hands unconsciously clenched into fists, memories she once thought bottled rising back up to the surface. Memories of her time exiled in the rift between time and space, tormented by monsters she knew nothing about and endlessly searching for a way back home to no avail…

…and now, this—this—this twisted waste of dimensional space was trying to have its way with Pinky and his friends? Pinky, the one rival she hadn’t been able to bring down yet, the one she had declared to be hers and hers alone to defeat?

She slammed her fist on her desk. “I’m not gonna let this stand. Pinky is mine. Mine. And if I have to team up with him to destroy this new threat, then so be it.” She pushed back her swivel chair and stood up, marching toward the elevator to get to her Business Suit. “It’s time for the Haltmann Works Company to finally have its long sought-after vengeance.” And she definitely wasn’t talking about Kirby.


Eventually…

Castle Dedede – Entrance

Above the Lor Starcutter, Kirby looked ahead on his Warp Star for the incoming arrival of his friends – and he wasn’t disappointed in that regard. Over the horizon, he could see several people coming: Rick, Kine, Coo, and Gooey walked in from the Great Forest, lead by a group of Waddle Dees; Adeleine and Ribbon soared in on their own Warp Star; Marx and Dark Meta Knight were having a little race as to who could get to Castle Dedede the fastest; Daroach’s airship casually strode up to the castle as if the world was its playground; and finally, Taranza arrived from the direction of the Dreamstalk, looking apprehensive as he went.

Kirby drove the Warp Star back down and landed on the ground. To his three other friends, he said, “They’re all coming. Everyone’s almost here.” (How ironic, how he was saying that so close to the beginning of the Ultimate tournament.)

“Good.” Dedede spun his hammer around, already mentally prepared for the dangers ahead of them. He recalled the information Magolor had given him and the others, and grimaced at what the Star Allies would most likely have to face. A threat worse than the True Arena itself… And here I thought today was going to be just another day in Dream Land. He quietly scoffed. Shows what I know.

Beside him, Magolor had pulled out some modified Nintendo 3DS, several statistics highlighted on both screens that honestly made Dedede’s head hurt trying to read it. He occasionally looked up from his device, as if he was checking to see if anybody had arrived yet. Bandana Dee also stood on standby, his trademark spear at his hand. He looked far more nervous than he had ever been, but given the subject matter, it was only natural.

Meta Knight was here as well, having arrived first before everyone else and just in time to be informed of the situation by Magolor. He, too, was on edge, his trusty sword Galaxia out and ready to attack any hostile foe that dared to come his way. Dedede almost pitied the bosses they would face. Almost.

“Kirby! Dedede! Bandana Dee!” Adeleine and Ribbon were first on the scene thanks to their Warp Star, crashing in front of the Star Allies’ core quartet and landing on their feet (well, Adeleine did, anyway). They looked no worse for wear as usual. “We came here as fast as we could once we got your message!” She brandished her paintbrush with a determined smile on her face. “I’m ready to paint! Whenever you need a picnic, just say the word and I’ll be in it!”

“Adeleine, Ribbon,” Dedede smiled. “It’s good to see you guys again.”

“It's good to see you too! So, what kind of enemies do we need to face?” Ribbon asked, fluttering alongside her friend. “Dark Matter? Zero? Dark Matter and Zero? We’ll take them all on!”

“I don’t think that’s what we’ll be seein’, mates,” Rick’s voice suddenly came into view, “but good guesses either way.” The three Animal Buddies (and Gooey) waltzed up to the growing group, the group of Waddle Dees leading them dispersing once they did. “G’day, everybody,” he greeted. “Fine day for an adventure, wouldn’t you say?”

Kirby smiled ruefully. “If only that were the case,” he grimly stated.

“Huh?” Kine blinked. “Is something wrong, Kirby? You… You don’t seem as jolly, today…”

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Gooey spoke up, as dreamily as always. “He’s Kirby. He’s a good friend. He can handle anything.”

“Hmm…” Coo hummed. “Are you sure about that? I don’t think even Kirby’s sure about it this time…”

“You’re pretty perceptive,” the pink puffball noted. “Let’s just say this journey might be a more troublesome one than usual.”

“Whatever comes up,” Rick continued, “it can’t be any worse than what we’ve seen so far, eh mates? No worries – she’ll be right in the end!”

Suddenly, crashing in from the sky, Marx descended and proved himself the ‘winner’ of his and Dark Meta Knight’s race. “Wooooooo!” he cheered, his wings raised to the sky. “I won, I won! Take that, Darky! Looks like I’m the better flier between the two of us! How does that feel, huh, huh?”

“This means nothing,” Dark Meta Knight’s guttural voice growled from above, his form flapping in after the jester. “It was merely a fluke. The sun got in my eyes and distracted me. Nothing more.”

Marx snickered. That was an absolutely terrible lie. If Kokichi was here, he thought, he’d see through it instantly! “Sure, sure! Whatever you say, Darky.”

Meta Knight met their gazes with a reserved expression – they may not have been as bitter enemies as they were starting out, but by no means were they the best of friends now either. “Marx. Dark Meta Knight. It is… good to see you here, at the edge of this crisis.”

“Meta Knight!” Marx greeted his fellow Star Ally in faux-happiness. “Aww, you were invited, too? It’s like a big party of Dream Friends! Hey, hey—you know of there’s any cake around?” (Kirby twitched, but didn’t so much as react otherwise.)

“Shut your simpering, Marx,” Dark Meta Knight groaned. “I am growing tired of listening to it.” (Marx cheekily replied, “Well, if you say so~”, much to his irritation – but he’d let it slide for now.) To his non-mirror counterpart, he said, “I… trust… that you will have my back in the coming battles?” It was a miracle he was able to say this, given how volatile he had been months earlier – and to Meta Knight, no less.

The wielder of Galaxia nodded assent. “So long as you’ll have mine,” he replied, “you shall have nothing to worry about.”

Dark Meta Knight relaxed a little. “Good to hear.”

Next in line was the Squeak Squad; Daroach’s airship was making a swift landing close to the Lor Starcutter. The bridge came down, and Daroach came down in a rather stylish fashion – plus the rest of the Squeaks, who proceeded to run around the exterior of the Lor Starcutter. “Hello there, Dream Land!” he called. “The Squeak Squad is finally here!”

Bandana Dee’s face lit up, while Magolor’s merely held reserved curiosity. “Daroach!” he cried back, waving his hands in the air. “You made it!”

“Why, if it isn’t good ‘ol Bandana Dee!” The treasure hunter grinned upon seeing his familiar acquaintance. “Still serving your king faithfully, I see.”

He stood up proudly. “Yep-yep! There’s no one else who I’d rather be besides! O-Oh, but you’re still a good friend, too! I’d—I’d never forget the things you’ve done for me and everyone else.”

“Just a day in a gentleman thief’s work,” Daroach casually dismissed, though not out of any malice. “I was just in the right place at the right time. Though, in that note… should you ever decide to leave your king’s employ, you’ll be welcomed in as an honorary Squeak.”

“R-Really?” Bandana Dee rubbed the back of his head, a blush rising to his cheeks. “T-That means a lot to me… T-Thanks!”

Also walking in, albeit slowly, was Taranza, current regent of the islands of Floralia. He looked plenty nervous about the situation, his eyes darting all about in a presumed attempt to keep himself distracted. “H-Hey, Kirby, Dedede.”

If possible, Dedede’s burgeoning smile grew even wider – and the same could be said for Kirby as well. “Taranza!” the king called out, rushing over to give his fellow ruler a great big guy. For what it was worth, the arachnid seemed much more soothed after he elected to hug back. “How’s Floralia been, buddy? I haven’t had a chance to visit in a while.”

Taranza looked bashful. “W-Well,” he began to explain, “we’ve—we’ve been doing pretty great, all things considered. I… still don’t know why the people like me so much,” especially since I used to work for—He shook his head, “but it hasn’t been a bad thing, honestly.”

“Sounds like you’ve been doing good work!” Kirby chimed in, his signature happy smile shining brightly on his face. “…you’ve gotten a lot better since 2014, you know. I’m… I’m glad to see you happier than you used to be. You really deserve it.”

“I’m still not sure about that,” Taranza said, “but… thanks.”

Out of the blue, Ribbon floated over to the arachnid, startling him immensely. She spun around his body much like a certain navigation fairy would do. “Wow… So you’re a ruler, just like Dedede and Her Majesty?” (‘Her Majesty’, for those curious, was Queen Ripple of Ripple Star.) “That’s so cool! Look, Addie! He’s—he’s like royalty!”

“I—I wouldn’t say I’m r-royalty,” he protested. “I’m—I’m just… the interim guy, th-that’s all…” But the Crystal Shard duo had become pretty interested in the regent of the skies.

“Don’t be like that!” Adeleine admonished him. “You have to be a great king—” (“But I’m not a king…”) “—to have stayed in power for four years! It—It is four years for him, right Kirby?” she asked, turning to her pink friend. He nodded ‘yes’.

A light bulb then went off in the artist’s head. “Ooh, maybe we can introduce you to Queen Ripple!” she said. “She rules over Ripple’s home planet! I think the two of you would get along swell!”

“Yeah!” Ribbon exclaimed. “More friends for Her Majesty!”

“Now that I think about it,” Dedede remarked, “I think Queen Ripple would like having another regent to talk to. N-Not that… I’m… not good enough, or anything…” A light blush popped up on his face, which made his friends giggle.

“…I s-suppose, if you guys think it’s a good idea,” Taranza said, “th-then… we could give it a shot. B-But after we get through… wh-whatever we’re doing here. That’s important.”

That would have been all the Star Allies (and Magolor and Taranza), but there was still one more arrival left. The sound of something mechanical descending from the sky fluttered into everybody’s auditory range. Upon hearing the unfortunately familiar hovering noise, Meta Knight immediately narrowed his eyes. “That craft… She dares to come back here, after all this time…!?”

Kirby was surprised too, but for a different reason. “Wait… She’s actually coming here…!?”

The Star Allies collectively looked up, and bore witness to a combat mech touching down on Pop Star, the likes of which had only been seen beforehand by Kirby and Meta Knight. As it landed with a thud, the figure in the cockpit took off their visor—and revealed themselves to be Susie, current CEO of the Haltmann Works Company.

Several reactions occurred at this point: Bandana Dee yelped and hid behind his King, who had his hammer ready to slam; Adeleine instinctively grabbed Ribbon and Gooey and hugged them tight between her arms; and Meta Knight drew his sword toward the woman, seeming about ready to cut her where she stood. “You,” he growled, intense anger undercurrent beneath his voice.

Susie raised an eyebrow, completely nonchalant at being threatened in front of several figures. “Me,” she agreed.

Marx and Dark Meta Knight looked at their fellow warrior in surprise, having not expected his rather hostile reaction. He hadn’t reacted like that to them, and they were former villains, for crying out loud! “H-Hey, Meta Knight?” the jester worriedly asked. “Wh-What’s up with you?”

“Is there something about this woman that draws your ire?” Dark Meta Knight inquired as well. What could get his doppelganger all ticked off like that?

Meta Knight grunted. “…you could say that.”

Undaunted by his one-time enemy’s surprise appearance, Kirby walked up to Susie as if she were just another person on Pop Star. “Susie,” she cordially greeted. “What brings you here? Something tells me it’s not for a business trip or anything like that.”

The secretary-turned-CEO despawned her Business Suit mech, leaving her standing alone and armed only with a blaster. “Pinky,” she greeted the multi-time savior back. “I heard you were about to embark on an… adventure, of sorts.”

Worried mutters and rumblings floated through the crowd of gathered Dream Friends. Kirby did nothing more than tilt his head slightly. “You could say that,” he confirmed. Since she was the current owner of a massive technological provider, it only made sense that she would see the incoming crisis about to hit Pop Star (and the Gamble Galaxy, for that matter). “And?”

“Well, I want in.”

“Absolutely not,” Meta Knight spat, his glare becoming even frostier than before. “After all the things you and your NOVA-forsaken company did, do you honestly believe that we would take you in with open arms?”

“Hey, hey, hey, hold on,” Marx interrupted the party. He looked extremely confused, as did Dark Meta Knight next to him. (Understandable, as they had only come back to life after the Robobot crisis had come and went.) “Am I missing something here? What exactly did this Susie lady do that’s got everyone on edge?”

“She—She turned half the p-planet into p-p-poor c-cyborgs!” Bandana Dee stammered out.

“The whole environment was nearly ruined because of her!” Coo added his own two cents.

“Her minions tried to take my friends away for—for—experimentation, or something!” Adeleine stated, keeping a close eye on Susie and still hugging her friends.

“She turned me into an enslaved mechanical abomination,” Meta Knight hissed.

“Okay, for your information,” Susie began to correct them, “it was the company as a whole that did those things, not me individually. Well, except for that last part.” She turned her gaze to Meta Knight, matching his icy glare with her own calm eyes. “Honestly, you were a very impressive knight; it was only natural that I gave you an upgrade like that.”

Dark Meta Knight shuddered. When she put it that way, it was no wonder his light world counterpart held so much disdain for her. A lack of free will? Forced to do somebody else’s bidding? No, thank you! I had enough of that with Dark Mind!

“Speaking of knights…” Susie then turned to him, and the mirror knight instinctively stepped back in alarm. “I didn’t know there was another knight just like you, Meta Knight.” She seemed to be sizing him up, which gave him a substantial amount of discomfort. “Perhaps I could model our newest batch of Mecha Knights after him…”

“Hey, hey, hey—stay away from him!” Marx defensively stood in front of his fire-forged frenemy, spreading out his fanged wings again in an attempt to look intimidating. (To its credit, it worked a little.) “You wanna touch him, you’re gonna have to go through me.”

“M-Marx?” Dark Meta Knight was startled by the jester’s response. Even now, he wasn’t quite the most socially aware of things – but he was grateful all the same.

Susie huffed. “Fine, be that way,” she grumbled. Under her breath, she muttered, “I guess you natives will never change…”

Meta Knight turned to Kirby. “Kirby,” he began, “don’t tell me we are actually going to include her on this mission. You know what she and that blasted company of hers is like; involving her would be a security risk of the highest order. There should be no doubt as to how dangerous she is.”

“I dunno, Meta,” Dedede interjected, wearing a contemplative expression, “she looks like she can pack a big punch, and if what Magolor told us is any indication, we’re gonna need all the help we can get to survive this. We shouldn’t dismiss her out-of-hand when the whole galaxy’s on the line like this.”

“B-But—Meta Knight does have a p-point!” Bandana Dee added. “The things that happened during the R-Robobot crisis… T-They were terrible! Wh-Who’s to say she won’t do the same thing again to us when this is all over?”

“I won’t,” Susie declared confidently, having overheard the core quartet’s conversation about her. “You have my word on that. Besides,” she looked away and clenched her fists, “this is… personal for me. I—I have to do this.”

Meta Knight continued to glare at the secretary for several more moments, trying to ascertain her true motives for coming (though to a certain pink puffball, who remembered the conversation he’d had with her two years ago, her ‘true motives’ were very clear). He was interrupted from shooting a sharp response at her by said pink puffball voicing, “Alright. You can come, Susie.”

Several eyes widened at Kirby’s acceptance of yet another (former?) villain onto their team. Dedede glanced at Meta Knight for a split second before asking Kirby, “Hey, Kirby. Are… are you sure about this? I mean, you know how Meta Knight feels and all…”

“Trust me,” Kirby replied, “I’m sure. She won’t start up anything, I promise.”

It was a testament to the trust and long-time friendship the four of them shared that they took the puffball by his word.

“…okay. I trust you, so we’ll make this work. So long as she does no funny business, we’ll hold her to it.”

“If—If she promises to k-keep away f-from my brethren, then… then I c-can deal with this!”

Meta Knight took the longest to respond. He didn’t know what to say, having yet another enemy joining the Star Allies he had come to cherish – before he finally turned away and replied, “…fine. Do as you wish. I will trust your judgement, just this once.”

Several of the other Star Allies made similar noises of agreement, trusting their leader to do the right thing. Susie smiled. “Glad to see you made the right decision in the end,” she said.

Magolor, who had been long silent—and also analyzing each of the Dream Friends that had deigned to show up (though ‘friend’ was definitely stretching things for some people)—finally decided to speak up. “…you’ve certainly made quite the collection of friends in the years past, haven’t you, Kirby?” he remarked, putting away his modified 3DS to look out at the crowd assembled. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it would be an utterly impossible task.” Like coming back from the dead after becoming a Soul Boss, he internally joked—though it wasn’t much of a joke at all.

“You know me,” Kirby said with a smile. “I’ll make friends with anybody, even if they don’t really want to be friends… and even if they’re determined to be anything else. I couldn’t do anything else. It’s just in my nature.” The existence of Marx and Dark Meta Knight was proof enough of that fact.

Magolor nodded to himself. “If all goes well, it shouldn’t be a problem then. Right, enough playing around.” He began to raise his voice, “Star Allies! May I have your attention, please!” The crowd went silent at the Halcandran’s voice – at last, he could finally get this show on the road.

“Thank you. Ahem!” he coughed. “You have all gathered here for a very important reason. It is to my displeasure that I must announce that a crisis has once more engulfed our Gamble Galaxy.” The crowd immediately began to murmur among themselves at this declaration.

“It’s not Dark Matter again, is it? We’ll take them down if it is!”

“Are crises tasty? I think it sounds tasty… Can you cook it?”

“Didn’t we just deal with a crisis back in March!? I’ve got a pranking quota to fill you know; this isn’t good for that!”

“Most intriguing. Another crisis, you say? I wonder if it has anything to do with the Jamba Hearts that fell from that time…”

“…I have no idea what you all are talking about…”

Magolor waited for the audio to die down. Once it did, he continued his speech. “Now, I am aware that under normal circumstances, such an event would not require us to be meeting up like this. But I’m afraid this isn’t your usual, run-of-the-mill crisis this time. It’s far, far worse.”

Kine piped up, “Is it Dark Matter worse?”

“Even worse than that. I would tell you all here, but I’m afraid my explanations would not suffice with just me alone.” The Halcandran directed the Star Allies’ attention to the Lor Starcutter, standing right in front of them. “If you would follow me into my ship, I will be able to properly give you a rundown of our current situation.” He then proceeded to enter through the open front door, practically beckoning the others after him.

“Whoa, mates,” Rick breathed, he and the other Animal Buddies having somehow missed the ship’s dominating presence. “When did that get there?”

“It’s massive,” Coo commented. “A work of art all on its own.”

“…you are jesting, correct?” Dark Meta Knight asked, a bewildered expression beneath his scarred mask. “It was right there this whole time. There is no possible way you could have avoided witnessing it. Are you dullards absolutely blind?”

Amidst a volley of ‘hey’s’ and ‘no, we’re not’s’, Marx gave an irritating grin and jabbered, “Hey, don’t be like that, Darky! If anyone’s gonna be jesting here, it can only be me! You think this hat’s just for show?”

With yet another groan coming from his mouth, Dark Meta Knight did his best to ignore his half-friend slash half-irritating pest and walked on into the Lor Starcutter, disappointing Marx, who had been eager to see his friend’s reaction. “Hey, don’t be like that!” he pouted, running in after him. “C’mon, where’s your edgelordiness? You can show me! Don’t be such a tsundere now!”

The rest of Star Allies followed suit: while the Animal Buddies were still confused (as was Gooey, but… Gooey is Gooey, and he’s absent-minded in the best of times), they managed to shrug it off. “Well, mates,” Rick said, “this may be ‘crikey’ and all, but we’re wastin’ daylight here. What are we waiting for?”

“Oh, you’re gonna like this place, Taranza!” Adeleine was saying, taking Taranza by the hand and all-but-dashing into the ship’s cockpit, with Ribbon following close behind. “It’s really cool; I bet you’ve never seen anything like it!”

“Yeah! It’s a technological marvel!”

“Wh-Whoa, wait, s-slow down, A-Adeleine, Ribbon…!”

“An interesting design,” Daroach mused as he entered, “truly out-of-this-world.” He glanced at Doc, who was staring at the ship with an undisguised gleam in his eye. “Doc is certainly going to be busy for a while once we get out of here…”

As she walked in, Susie, too, was analyzing the Lor Starcutter in interest. “So this is what the ship technology of the Ancients looked like,” she murmured mournfully. “I… I still find it hard to believe something so beautiful… could come from those that could make…” She cut herself off at the end before she walked into the ship.

Finally, there was just the four core Star Allies left: Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Bandana Dee. Kirby looked up at the Lor Starcutter they once helped repair over seven years ago, now the bridgeway to quite possibly the most important venture they would ever undertake. “…this is it, guys,” he said. Though the skies were still bright, the ship that loomed overhead seemed like a daunting obstacle to overcome. “Once we pass through this door, there’s no going back. Whatever’s ahead, whatever we may see, we’ll have to face it head on.” He turned back to the friends he’d known for twenty-six long years, the companions he would trust with his very life—and he’d knew they’d do the same in return. “…are you guys ready?”

Dedede gave out one of his almost trademark grins. “Heh—what kind of question is that? Of course we’re ready for this!” He bopped his best friend’s head lightly. “You remember what we said when we faced Void Termina, right? You’ve got us by your side! And there’s no way we’d ever let you do things alone – and everyone else feels the same way, too.”

Meta Knight nodded in agreement, almost beaming in a sense of pride. “Through thick and thin,” he stated, “we will stick by you, no matter what creatures or demons dare to step in our presence. You have our word—and the knowledge that our weapons will be behind you every step of the way.”

“Y-Yeah! I—I may be nervous,” Bandana Dee admitted, “b-but… you’re a good guy! You’re our friend! If I couldn’t stay with you at a time like this—I’d have no right to stand by my Great King! S-So…” He pointed his spear to the sky. “L-Let’s go and show the bad guys what we’re made of, together!”

Kirby smiled. What else did he expect? If Void Termina and his corrupted Soul wasn’t enough to dissuade then—well, nothing ever would. It was simple as that. Meta Knight, Dedede, Bandana Dee… Where would I be without you guys? “If that’s what you’re willing to do… then I’ll stand alongside you guys, too,” he said. “There’s no time to lose! Come on—we’ve got a galaxy to save.”

With that declaration, the four heroes of Pop Star walked on into the Lor Starcutter, and the front door closed shut right behind them.

Whatever awaited them now… they’d—and everyone else—would be there to see things through to the very end.

That… was a promise.


Lor Starcutter – Cockpit

The Lor Starcutter was a technological marvel, a slick and clean-looking ship from which dimensional travel could be achieved. Several of the sixteen Star Allies stared in awe, be it subdued or on display, as a globe of screens lit up all around them.

Magolor chuckled. Outstretching his hands away from himself, he declared, “Welcome, Star Allies, to my humble abode—the Lor Starcutter. I hope she’s not too gaudy for your eyes; I’m not exactly the most artistic of people out there.”

Gooey hummed, “Hmm… I think it needs more pictures of food. It’d be nice, to look at food while you live… at least, that’s what I think is good. It’s good, right, Ado?”

“I can’t disagree with you there,” Adeleine said (being friends with Kirby gives you a much deeper appreciation for the finer aspects of food), “but it’s honestly nice enough as it is. I’m an artist; I should know!”

“Artistry or not,” Marx chimed in, “you have to admit all these screens have so much potential—right, guys? I’m itching to do something already…”

“Prank-related, I assume,” Daroach raised an eyebrow.

“You know me all too well!”

As amusing as that would be, Marx, a feminine voice rang out through the room, I must ask that you please refrain from such actions until our current crisis is resolved. It is best to stay focused on one singular task.

“Meanie,” Marx pouted. “You never let me have any fun in here.”

“That’s probably for the best…” Adeleine sighed.

Meanwhile, the eyes of the Animal Buddies, Taranza, and Susie comically widened at the unknown person’s presence. “Wh-Who’s there!?” the HWC president uncharacteristically stammered, grabbing her blaster and aiming it all about the walls. “I—I have a blaster! And—and I’m not afraid to use it!”

Calm down, Miss Susie, the voice consoled her. I am not your enemy. I am the spirit of the Lor Starcutter. Though you cannot see me, I am here to act as an ally.

“Th-That’s what you want me to believe! H-How am I supposed to know you’re not gonna possess me and absorb all the knowledge from my brain!?”

“Lor would never do anything like that,” Magolor assured the hysterical secretary. “I’ve been with her for years; if she wanted to do something like that, she would’ve done it when I first repaired her. You don’t have to worry.”

Susie didn’t looked convinced, but it was enough for her to put her blaster away and reluctantly concede the point to the Halcandran. “…f-fine. B-But I’ll be watching her! Watching very closely!”

Dark Meta Knight scoffed. “This is the harlot you quaver at?” he derided his counterpart.

“…she is much more menacing than she appears now,” Meta Knight replied—though if one looked carefully, they could see an embarrassed blush show up beneath his mask. “Just—Just ignore her for now.”

Anyway, the Lor continued speaking, it is good to see that all of you are energized and gathered here today. I do not exaggerate when I say that the road ahead will require all of your strength and determination to end this new threat.

“She’s right,” Magolor confirmed, steeling his face back into being serious. “Trust me when I say the True Arena honestly has nothing on this.”

“So, is it really that bad?” Coo asked. “We’ve never needed all of us in one spot like this – which worries me a little, actually.”

“That doesn’t sound good…” Kine worried. “My wife isn’t going to like this. Not one bit.”

“My… My strength?” Taranza drew his gaze to the floor. “…I don’t know if I’d be able to help out, though…”

“How can something be worse than the True Arena?” Adeleine wanted to know, a staggered expression on her face – which was also being worn by Ribbon, Dark Meta Knight, and Marx. “I remember when Kirby and our friends did it – it was… brutal!” (A memory resurfaced, of their faithful friends being battered by an endless series of waterfalls as Kirby watched on in horror)—“And you’re saying we’re about to go through something even crazier!? P-Please tell me it isn’t true!”

Ribbon whimpered. She desperately didn’t want to believe it herself. Nobody did.

(Susie and Taranza, meanwhile, clenched their fists. The True Arena was horrible, yes – but to them, it was for a matter entirely different.)

“It’s true,” Kirby spoke up. The other Star Allies all turned to him in surprise. “You guys know I’ve been through the True Arena five times over now – and Magolor’s not kidding when he says this is going to be worse than that.”

“I found it hard to believe myself,” Dedede confided. “Soul Bosses were already a pretty insane threat on their own.” At this, Marx and Magolor briefly looked away, a hard grimace appearing on the former’s face at the reminder. “…I wish it was something as relatively simple as that now, I really do.”

“But we do not have the luxury of hoping for such impossible aspirations,” Meta Knight added. “We cannot hesitate in the face of this fresh nightmare. If it is to conclude, then we must be the ones to end it ourselves.”

“Y-Yeah!” Bandana Dee expressed his agreement. “Wh-What he said!”

“Well said, you four.” Magolor walked up to his ship’s computer and started typing things into the keyboard. In the blink of an eye, several windows showed up on the screen, each of them displaying some sort of statistics that barely anybody (i.e. Kirby, Meta Knight, and Susie) understood to any extent.

“As you can see,” he began explaining, a hand outstretched in the direction of the monitor, “the Gamble Galaxy is sustained by collective amounts of energies, as you can see from this graph.” There was a colorful graph on-screen, displaying a wide assortment of neon colors over a star map of the Gamble Galaxy. “It’s what keeps reality stable, and allows life to truly blossom on our planet and others. Several artifacts, such as the Star Rod, often harness this energy to do a wide assortment of things – in this case, give the people of Dream Land good dreams.”

“Is that how it works?” Rick asked, his eyes closed in contemplation. “I always thought it was a forcefield or somethin’ myself…”

“Sounds dreamy,” Gooey unintentionally punned. “I wonder if it tastes as dreamy as it sounds…”

“…Gooey,” Dedede said carefully, ruffling his brow, “please don’t tell me you’re planning to eat the Star Rod. Please tell me no.”

“E-Eat the Star Rod!?” Bandana Dee exclaimed in surprise. He nervously laughed, “H-Ha ha ha, you’re—you’re f-funny. R-Really funny…” Then his face became comically distraught. “Oh NOVA, you’re serious, a-aren’t you?”

“…is it a bad thing to eat it?”

“Now I regret not seeking it out when we invaded this planet before,” Susie muttered to herself. “Such an artifact would most definitely give us the blueprints for a perfect new product… shame.”

Meta Knight glared at her. She didn’t seem to notice – either that, or she was actively ignoring it. (Either one could be possible, really.)

“Another thing that’s important is how other dimensions can affect the energies of our dimension. The manipulation of such is what allows things like Warp Holes to open up, or specific individuals to carry powered-up Super Abilities. But if the energy balance between our dimension and others becomes unstable – then we cross into incredibly dangerous territory.”

The Halcandran brought up another window: a bar graph presenting the ‘energy balance’ of the Gamble Galaxy over time. While the past few months showed a consistent moderate amount, the most recent time – that of a scant three hours ago – had a massive spike that was exceptionally discomforting, when combined with Magolor’s explanations.

“And that’s exactly what’s going on now. Three hours ago, while I was traversing the cosmos as usual, a warning came up on my computer. It informed me that due to the influence of ‘dark, occult magic’—” He stopped talking for a moment, to let it sink in. “—the dimension simply known as Another Dimension is now unstable and leaking energies to and from ours. Should we fail to resolve this… our way of life will be endangered to the point of no return. The energies will break time and space wide open, and the creatures within will rampage through our dimension until there is nothing left. And that is something we cannot allow.”

A silence passed through the cockpit. “…no way,” Ribbon breathed.

Dark Meta Knight growled. “…‘dark, occult magic’?” he repeated. “That can only be the Jambandra Cult. Hmph… I knew we should’ve taken care of those uncultured swine. Their persistence has proven to be more than irritating now.”

“The Jambandra Cult?” Susie looked disturbed. “I hadn’t thought them to be real, just… relics of an age no longer relevant to our present. How—how can they still be operating today?”

A scoff came from Meta Knight. “Shouldn’t your ‘advanced systems’,” he said that term in a mocking manner, “have picked up traces of their existence by now? Surely, you could not have missed the influx of negative energy from several months ago.”

Susie’s face went red, and her eyes averted the knight’s cold yellow orbs. “…I was… focused on restructuring the company, then,” she muttered, barely audible to the Star Ally’s ears. “…I didn’t really think much of it…”

“Seriously?” Daroach raised his eyebrow again. “Even I detected it, and my airship is not as advanced as your technology.”

“…shut-up-that’s-not-important.”

You all are certainly an astute bunch, the Lor complimented them. It is as you say. The source of this disturbance has been confirmed to be Jambandra Base, located at the edge of the Gamble Galaxy, as I’m sure you all know. A rift in time and space is most definitely present there as well, and should we enter it, I am positive that we shall arrive in Another Dimension. And from there… there is no telling what will await us.

I will not sugarcoat this – you shall face great hardships, should you choose to follow us to the edge of the galaxy. Another Dimension is not the World of Peace or the World of Miracles you know so well. It is a dangerous, unfettered anomaly. And any hesitation while in there will bring forth untold amounts of suffering.

Knowing that… will you help us bring an end to this galactic crisis?

…if you say no, we shall understand. This is not to be taken lightly, and I know that many of you enjoy your comfort here on Pop Star—

“Oh, shove it in a windpipe, will ya?” Marx suddenly interrupted her. “There’s no need for your boring warnings now.” She went silent, and everyone turned to the jester in anticipation for his next words.

“I know I may not be the nicest of guys, or even the most well-intentioned. Heck, I tried to take over Pop Star once – which honestly does say a lot about me. But you know what?” He looked up with a determined expression. “There’s no way I’m going to be sitting this out, not by a long shot.” He glanced over to Kirby. “Don’t tell this to the guys back at Cappy Town, ‘cause I have a reputation to keep and all, but… I like you guys. I really, really do. So that’s why I can’t let these occult idiots have their way. You need us to go in and stop them and this ultra-hard dimension stuff? Then sign me up.”

Marx’s abrupt and unexpected speech caught most of the crowd off guard for a few brief moments. The silence was soon broken by everyone else deciding to throw in their two cents as well.

“As much as it pains me to admit this,” Dark Meta Knight said, “I agree with this jester’s words. All of you are part of my domain, and the thought of the Jambandra Cult trying to interfere in that dominion infuriates me beyond belief.” To everyone else, that was Dark Meta Knight-speak for ‘I like you guys and I don’t want you hurt.’ “Consider my blade one of the many weapons that will be on this journey. I will teach those heretics the meaning of pain for their insolence today.”

“We’ve been through a whole lot together,” Adeleine chimed in, “be it five of us hunting down the Crystal Shards, or thirteen of us on a journey to save the galaxy from darkness. And while Ribbon and I haven’t been there for most of Kirby’s adventures, that doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon you guys now!”

“Yeah!” Ribbon agreed. “Her Majesty would never forgive me if I backed out now! Addie and I—we’re gonna be painting masterpieces for you guys ‘til the very end! So let’s go in and beat up that Hyness guy already! Who’s with me!?”

“We’ve mostly kept to ourselves over the past few years,” Rick admitted, “but that doesn’t mean we’ll let that continue now. You and Kirby and all our other mates need our help, right? Then count us in! We’re gonna ace this, no prob!”

“I’ve been in the mood to stretch out my wings more, anyway,” Coo lazily dismissed. “Need a flight? I’ll be happy to give you one – so long as it’s not too many people, anyway! I’m getting a bit old, you hear?”

“My wife, Mine… she’ll understand the importance of what we’re doing here,” Kine resolutely stated. “I may not be the most useful of fishes out there, but I’ll do my best to help you guys all the same!”

“I like friends,” Gooey randomly said. “You guys are my friends. Very good friends. If you want to go somewhere, I’ll go somewhere with you, too. That’s what matters most, right?”

“…heh. I’m a treasure hunter by trade; a gentleman thief by nature,” Daroach recited. “And there’s no better thing to steal than the twisted desires of the most distorted villains.” That was… probably a reference to something, though nobody in the room knew specifically what he was referencing at the moment. “We may be simple mice, but the Squeak Squad will never back down from a challenge such as this. Let’s not hold back any of our punches now, shall we?”

“…I don’t really know most of you aside from Kirby and Dedede,” Taranza confided in his new… friends? (Could he call them that?), “but I can see that this is a problem I can’t ignore. I—I can’t let another Sectonia happen. I can’t. And… if I leave this alone… my—my worst fears will come true. I… I don’t know why the People of the Sky chose me, b-but… I’ll do my best to live up to their expectations by standing by you all. I may only have my spiderwebs and my magic, but I’ll put all of my efforts in anyway!”

“I despise Another Dimension,” Susie hissed. “It’s taken so much from me – my home, my childhood… my family…” Meta Knight looked particularly startled by that statement. What? “…so, as long as I breathe, I won’t let a single trace of it try to intrude on my destined territory. And if that means having to team up with you guys… then I’ll do it with pride if it means I can get what I want. Infinite prosperity doesn’t matter now – I will have my vengeance, one way or another. And I won’t take no for an answer.”

“And you know what our answers are,” Dedede grinned, gesturing toward himself and the three other core Star Allies. “We’re going to face this crisis head on, with our heads held high and our strides still strong. Because if we didn’t, I know that Kirby would just do it alone, and I can’t exactly let that happen!” Kirby let out a light laugh, taking the jest in stride, as did Dedede. “As the ruling King of Dream Land, I’ll say this: let’s go out and kick some butt!”

“W-Well said, G-Great King!” Bandana Dee praised. “I—I’ll be beside you, too! My spears will cut any bad guy in their way! J-Just give me the word, and I won’t let them past!”

“Do I honestly need to say anything else?” Meta Knight asked. “The others’ words are proof enough of our resolve, I believe.”

“You hear that, Magolor, Lor?” Kirby finally spoke up, the widest of smiles on his cute little face. “We’re gonna face this together – all of us. Friends, enemies, we’ll be there all the same. I’ve never been more proud to call everyone here my friends. So let’s get to Jambandra Base already before we get too mushy.”

A chorus of agreements rang out from the crowd of Star Allies. Magolor chuckled. “You really know how to pick ‘em, Kirby. I can’t exactly back down now, either – it’d look bad on my resume, especially when everyone’s so eager to fight.”

If that is everyone’s decision, then there is no more time to waste. Gather whoever else you may want to bring, and we shall take off to the edge of the Gamble Galaxy. Let us charge forth and embark on your greatest challenge yet.


Before long, everyone was prepared for the journey ahead. King Dedede had called in a bunch of his Waddle Dees—‘to help with maintenance,’ he said, which Magolor greatly appreciated—and Daroach had his Squeak Squad—Doc, Storo, Spinni, and the little Squeakers—also ready to help if needed.

Doc had to be restrained from tinkering with the Lor Starcutter’s systems, given that he was a scientist and a technician by nature – but otherwise, there wasn’t anything blocking the Star Allies from moving on forward.

Everyone else was preparing in their own way: Rick, Kine, and Coo were resting as to conserve their strength; Adeleine and Ribbon were practicing their painting skills while Gooey watched; Meta Knight and Dark Meta Knight fought with a couple of dummies in order to keep their sword expertise sharp…

Marx was flying about and dropping balls everywhere for giggles; Daroach was in the corner, strategizing over the journey to come; Dedede and Taranza were having an insightful conversation, with Bandana Dee joining in wherever he could; Susie had brought out a Nintendo 3DS of her own and was looking over the screens…

It was a sight to behold, the likes of which very few people in the multiverse would be able to see. Kirby watched over the scene with a smile. These are the things I want to keep the most, here, he thought. My friends, being able to live out their lives in bliss and happiness, just as they’ve always had. There’s nothing that matters to be more than to be able to see that dream continue on.

And I won’t let the Jambandra Cult shatter their happiness in their desires to revive their Dark Lord. If they want to try, we’ll fight them ‘til the bitter end. That’s how strong our friendship as the Star Allies is.

…I’m ready. This is what everything has been leading up to.

We’re gonna save the galaxy—no, the universe again.

And nothing’s gonna stop us now!

Over the intercom – which was required for anyone to be heard over the volume at this point – Magolor said to everyone, “Okay, Star Allies! It’s time to make our way from Dream Land all the way to the Jambandra Base! Make sure all of your belongings are on you, because we won’t be coming back until our goal has been reached. Is everybody ready?”

A synchronized “Yeah!” rang out through the room.

“Alright then! We have liftoff in three… two… one! HERE WE GO!”

At last, the Lor Starcutter took off from the ground, and shot off into space. Cheers and ecstatic shouts echoed off of every wall, absolutely deafening anything else in the room. Kirby’s smile, if possible, got even bigger.

“Okay, everybody!” he shouted, wanting to do one last thing before things truly got started. “All together now: let’s go, Star Allies!”

“Let’s go, Star Allies!”

And so, with that final declaration, a new adventure began. A quest to another dimension, in order to save the Gamble Galaxy again, and perhaps, to save those who never knew they needed saving. It was going to be a long and arduous venture, but there was no need to fear. After all…

…the Star Allies had each other’s backs!

Chapter Text

The wind howled furiously past her ears, bringing with it a hailstorm too deep for her to see through, and a blistering cold too freezing for her to stop anytime soon. Her surroundings were completely whitened out, and the ground below her several inches deep; a testament to just how terrible the blizzard striking Blizzno Moon truly was.

But as much as she wanted so dearly to right now, the girl couldn’t stop. She had no place to stop. She had no way to stop. She had to continue onward, no matter how blue she currently looked or felt. (There was nothing else she could do.) And thus, though the only things she had on her were a light pair of clothes with very little protection, she kept trudging on through the bitter, bitter weather.

T-T-This is…! she thought, her teeth clattering. T-This is… t-too… c-c-c-cold…! B-B-But… I h-have to… have to f-f-find…!

Once, in earlier, happier times, she had family by her side – a twin sibling, who always stood by her through thick-and-thin, no matter what happened; and an elder sister, who cherished the both of them as the last remaining lights in her life. They would frolic and play and laugh and be happy together, while their father watched a soft smile on his face. They were a trio with an unbreakable connection, an inseparable existence—

—yet, here she was now, suffering through the after-effects of an indeed-broken connection.

And she barely even knew where it all went so wrong.

One moment, everything was okay, and the next thing she knew—

She was just so… so…

empty.

(…did she always feel so lost?)

C-C-Can’t… t-think… her mind glazed over. M-Must… k-keep… m-m-m-moving…

The wind picked up, hail flinging past her face with increasing intensity. She didn’t even know where she was going anymore, or even if there was shelter around—but she forced herself to keep walking either way.

It didn’t matter where she was or what was happening; she had only one goal in mind: she needed to survive and find her sisters.

Survive and find her sisters.

Survive—and find. Her. Sisters.

So long as she had the strength to do that… then nothing else in the world mattered to her.

But the rest of the world made it its mission to make itself matter – in all the worst ways possible.

Soon, she was too frozen to function, her limbs too numb to take any further step forward. She let out a weak yelp and tumbled into the snow still building up, a virtual avalanche of frostbite practically falling on top of her. “N-No!” she cried, stretching out her hand in a desperate attempt to continue moving onward. “I c-c-can’t… I c-can’t stop h-h-here! T-They’re w-waiting—they’re s-still w-waiting f-for me!”

Much to her dismay, however… she was out of strength. She couldn’t go on. “M-Move, d-damn it!” she pleaded. “M-Move!” But no matter how much she willed her body to even shake, it refused to do as she wanted.

This was it.

She was done.

She was absolutely, positively—

D-o-n-e.

This snowstorm, which she had tried her hardest to fight off, her hardest to survive against—had finally, utterly, defeated her.

And the only thing she had to show for it… was a volley of tears, steadily dripping down her distraught face. “T-T-This c-can’t be… t-the end…!” she clattered. With the cold beginning to become too much for her, she curled her body up and hugged herself in an attempt to keep what little warmth she had left.

Snow piled up around her, and the wind mercilessly blew past her feeble face – and all she could do was lay on the ground as she slowly—but surely—froze to death. With nothing else left, she began to recall the two people most precious to her.

“B-B-Berge…” she choked softly. (Her fiery sibling, fighting onward with her tenacity—) “Z-Z-Zan…” (Her precious elder sister, cuddling the two of them as hard as she could—) Their faces flashed by one more time as her vision blurred out. “I-I-I-I’m… I’m s-s-sorr-r-r-r…”

Finally, her eyes closed shut, and she at last succumbed to the wills of the weather.

This was it.

This… was… it…

“…Goppoko!? L-Little girl, are you alright!?”

Something stirred from within her. Just in time, a voice managed to hit her ears—and a figure, presumably her savior, picked her up and kept her awake.

…who… who’s… there…? she mentally wheezed.

“This is terrible!” the voice continued—sounding kind, almost sympathetic; and it almost made her think that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t a desperate hallucination. “You are—you are just too cold! I can’t just let you die here!” His tone turned distressed: “But there is nowhere I can go for aid, and if I do not do something soon…”

…heh heh… she weakly laughed in her mind. It’s… It’s nice to… have someone… wanting to help… but… it’s… already… too late… for me…

But just when all hope was lost… “…no, wait. There is still one more thing I can do…” A warm sensation suddenly began to travel through her body, the mysterious stranger chanting something barely audible to her ears. She didn’t understand it at all – none of her family knew or taught anything but a single language – but as the chanting grew louder and louder, so too did the feeling beneath her skin.

It was… nice.

It was cold, sure… but it was a different kind of cold.

It was a warm kind of cold, if that made any sense.

And before too long… a rush of adrenaline shot through her body, her energy reserves instantly replenished, with the cold finally bothering her no longer. Now, it felt… natural, like an old friend she never knew she had.

But, most importantly of all… she was alive. Alive and living and free to seek out her sisters—and she had this kind stranger to thank for that.

Her eyes shot open, and quickly, she flew out of the stranger’s arms. She felt no numbness from the bitter atmosphere that had assaulted her earlier – in fact, it was basically like it had never existed at all. “This is… This is amazing…!” she whispered. “I’m… I’m alive… I’m actually alive…!” She laughed, a little hysterically, at the miracle that had come before her – the miracle of life which she once took for granted.

She turned to the kind stranger. He was a strange figure. His clothes were nothing to talk about, being bright white robes with gold trimmings at the edges. (The sleeves seemed too long for him, though.) His face, however, was a different story entirely: his nose was big and drooping, his ears were striped yellow and blue, and his eyes were just the same. It was like looking into the eyes of madness.

But despite all that, there was a warmth and softness to him that felt noble and genuine. And the girl certainly couldn’t let that go unrewarded.

“T-Thank you so much!” she stated. “I… I thought I was going to die out here!” Die and have my sisters never really live again because I won’t be there—“B-But…” Now that she thought about it… “…why did you save me? M-Most… Most people wouldn’t do something like that…”

The crazy-eyed stranger smiled. “You were freezing,” he put simply. “That was a vun jorrow thing that I could not let happen. It would break my heart – and I am sure it would break yours as well.”

“O-Oh… O-Okay. That’s… That’s good to hear.” Altruistic people were hard to find on out-of-the-way satellites like this; it was good that he was at least one of them. Then, she realized—“H-Hey, what’s your name?” she asked. “Dad—Dad always… told me and my sisters never to talk to strangers you don’t know…”

She frowned and drew her eyes to the floor.

Her father…

Just like her sisters, he was another big part of her life, the kind of part that seemed like it would last a very long time—except, the last thing she saw him, he was…

‘Franny! Berge! Zan! R-RUN—!”

Dad… Why…?

“…Little girl? What’s wrong?” the stranger asked in concern. “You… You okay? Did… Did something happen to your family? Your father…?”

“…Dad… Dad’s not… here. He’s… He’s gone.” And boy, that still hurt to admit to herself. How could it not, when she was still so young, and not supposed to be thinking about topics like this?

“O-Oh!” The stranger had not expected this. “I—I’m sorry! Japologa vun.”

“N-No, it’s okay. I—I think… it doesn’t bother me anymore.” That was a lie of epic proportions – but there was nothing else she could tell herself. (She was already struggling to keep herself together.) “B-But my sisters… Berge, Zan, they’re still out there somewhere! And I need to find them. I—I don’t want to let them…”

A brief moment of silence.

“…I get it,” the stranger nodded. “You want to make sure they’re safe.” Briefly, he brought his gaze to the sky—or tried to; it was still blocked out by the massive blizzard—and then he brought it back to the young girl. “Say, little girl… Would you like to come with me, to find your siblings?” The girl looked up at him in surprise. “I have knowledge in how to travel space myself. If you would grant it, we could perhaps look for them together…?”

She knew she should’ve hesitated—but after her near-death experience moments before… “Y-Yes!” she exclaimed. “I’ll—I’ll do it! T-Thank you again, M-Mister!”

“Oh, you don’t need to call me that. I am Hyness, an officiant of the gods above. Who are you, pray tell?”

“My name’s Francisca. It’s—It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Hyness!”


[King Dedede]

Gamble Galaxy
Lor Starcutter – Cockpit

Watching the stars fly by from the window didn’t do my nerves any favors. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to pass by both familiar constellations and planets – Aqua Star’s still as weird-looking as always, on that note, how the heck does it stay up like that – but every time I let my guard down a little… I keep remembering that we’re basically about to go into the depths of darkness.

Now, mind you, I haven’t been in as deep as Kirby has. I mean, out of the five True Arenas that’s been hosted in the Gamble Galaxy, I’ve only personally been involved in two of them. (And by ‘personally been involved’, I mean ‘actually doing the gauntlet’.) But that doesn’t mean I don’t know how bad this situation is. Two True Arenas is two too much, in my opinion.

I sighed, sitting my arm by the window’s edge and letting my head lean on it. I remember Another Dimension. It was the place where half of Magolor’s Energy Spheres were… and also the location in which we beat his traitorous behind… twice. (I wonder if the True Arena is just cursed to have Soul Bosses, or something… Seriously, all five times, there’s been one. Sheesh, what’s up with that?) I don’t know all too much about it other than the place alternates between drab color schemes and blue Aurora Borealis all over the sky, but knowing that it’s where the Sphere Doomers originate… well, that tells me enough.

…you know, sometimes, I wish that these kind of things didn’t happen so often. Every two-or-so years, we get dragged into galaxy-threatening events like this because some chuckleheads out there see our planet as some sort of cosmic plaything. I get it, we’re the World of Miracles: the Fountain of Dreams and the Dream Palaces are proof enough of that fact.

It’s just that—sometimes, it sucks having to be so serious half the time.

It really, really does.

“Great King? Are you okay?” Instantly, my face softened, and I turned to see my good assistant Bandana Dee walk up to me. True to his gentle, all-loving nature, he was staring at me with raw concern in his eyes. “You… You look pretty worried, just looking out the window like that… Is something wrong?”

I made a sympathetic expression. “I’m… I’m alright, Dee,” I answered. “I’m just thinking.” Thinking about things I wish I couldn’t be thinking about. “You don’t need to worry.”

Dee waddled over to my side and joined me in my impromptu stargazing session. In our heads, we counted all the brightest stars as we passed them by. There were a lot of them. Quite a lot.

“…I’m getting too old for this,” I chuckled lowly. “Doing this kind of thing every year is gonna make all my hair go gray, I swear.”

“But Great King,” Dee started replying in confusion, “you don’t have any hair.”

I grinned. “Proves my point! All the hair turned gray and then it fell out. Simple as that!”

Despite the situation, Bandana Dee started to giggle himself. “I—I don’t think hair works like that, but—okay, Great King!” We laughed together a little, and for a minute, it was like we were back home in my castle, enjoying another day in lazy, sleepy Dream Land, about to open up the cake fridge for Kirby’s daily slice of strawberry shortcake.

Man… I remember when Kirby and I were bitter enemies, once upon a time. Heh heh… Ten years can go by before you even know it.

We sat there a little while longer, just enjoying the sense of serenity around us – and doing our best to ignore the hyperactive chaos going on elsewhere in the cockpit. When you have a team of colorful personalities like the Star Allies, there’s no such thing as ‘a quiet, normal day’.

(Marx’s voice drifted into range: “C’mon, guys—if you want this paintbrush back, you’ll have to work for it~!”

“No fair, Marx!” Adeleine protested, Ribbon following close behind. “Give it back!”)

“…I like this,” I finally said, a smile coming onto my face. “This—this chaos… It’s really something else, y’know?” I shook my head. “The heroes and villains and in-betweens of Pop Star gathered together like this… there’s nothing else in the galaxy like it.”

Really, there wasn’t. In another dimension, maybe (no, not the one you’re thinking of), but otherwise? We’re one-of-a-kind. “There really isn’t,” Dee agreed. His eyes lit up. “It’s so great! All of us friends, ready for another adventure… Even though I know that this is something serious, I can’t help but enjoy our time! E-Especially with you, Great King! It wouldn’t be as good as it is without you!”

“Ain’t that the truth!” I smiled and joked, “Look at me, the great King Dedede, offering his blessings on this trip through the cosmos. Makes it all the more perfect!”

“I dunno,” a voice teased—Kirby’s voice, of course; who else would it be—and sure enough, the Super Tuff Pink Puff himself came into view, equally as jovial as the two of us. “I think perfect may be stretching it a bit. Didn’t you just say you were getting on in years? I don’t think people would like being blessed by an old man now.”

“You’re one to talk, Mr. ‘I’m-a-Thousand-Years-Old’,” I fired back in rhythm. (Ah, friendly banter! The perfect identification of a strong bond.)

“Hey—at least, by my species’ standards, I’m still a spring chick. Chicken. Puffball. Whatever noun fits in that slot.”

“And there goes your memory, too.” We laughed for quite a while longer, just me and him and Dee on the sidelines.

“…it’s been a while since we last touched upon Another Dimension,” Kirby recalled. “What do you think we’ll find there this time? More Sphere Doomers? More black voids trying to squash us? EX Bosses, even? There’s a lot of things that could pop up, and we might even be unprepared for it.”

“Well, that’s what you and I are here for, right?” I said to him. “And everyone else, too. Like Meta Knight said, we and our weapons will be right by your side. Just tell me where to smash the hammer and I’ll be right on it!”

“Don’t forget my spear!” Bandana Dee chimed in. “I’ve gotten even better at using it since we last went out, trust me!”

“Better enough for Smash?” Kirby teased.

“Maybe! Either way, I hope I can be as helpful as always!”

It doesn’t matter in the end what gets thrown our way – there can be all the Soul Bosses in the galaxy down in Another Dimension and I still wouldn’t hesitate to start fighting. None of us would. For however colorful and clashing we may be, we’re fighters, friends, and heroes above all – and with Kirby leading us on, we’ll take down anything that comes our way.

Kirby… He’s the one that’s brought us all together like this. The Ultimate Friend Maker who charges forth and makes anybody a treasured companion – whether they want it or not (or, in his words, ‘want it or just subconsciously want it’). The former eternal nemesis who I now consider my best friend. Pop Star doesn’t consider him their valued savior for nothing – and without him, I wouldn’t be standing where I am today.

I used to be lazy, arrogant, an honestly terrible king – so terrible I was willing to steal everyone’s food; which is still an embarrassing time to remember – but now I’ve become strong, compassionate, a benevolent king beloved by all (and a great leader, too!) – and I’ve got Kirby to thank for that. That really shows just how much of a friend he can really be, to all of us.

He’s the miracle in our hearts that made us who we are.

And now’s never been a better time to repay him for that.

So, yeah, you better bet that I’m gonna be there to save the galaxy again.

With Kirby, Dee, and the rest of my friends here… there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!

(Except maybe back in Castle Dedede celebrating with everyone else, of course.)


[N/A]

Jambandra Base
Entrance

“Here we are,” Magolor stated. “Jambandra Base.”

After a flight that had seemed to take far too long for a ship as advanced as Magolor’s—the unstable energies surrounding the Jambandra Base had meant it was too risky to just warp there, the Halcandran had explained—the Lor Starcutter had finally docked at its destination.

The fortified visage of the Jambandra Cult’s abode once more towered over the Star Allies as they came out one-by-one from the Lor’s entrance. It looked no worse for wear than the first time they had stormed in… though there was definitely a more eerie atmosphere to its presence this time around.

“Hmph.” Dark Meta Knight took one look at the place and sneered a perfect sneer (an edgelord had to keep up with his edgelordiness, after all). “This abysmal-looking fortress hasn’t changed one bit,” he snorted. “The concept of decoration must still elude these heretics with every step.”

“Well, what did you expect?” Marx dryly asked. “Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows plastered all over the walls?” Then he got a contemplative look – a look that no one ever wanted to him to have. “Hmm… Maybe I should redecorate this place for them, then… I’ve got some paint cans still sitting back home, and they’re not going anywhere!”

“Is that really a good idea, mate?” Rick wondered, scratching himself a bit. “This is our enemies we’re talkin’ about. Y’know, the crazy occult dudes. There’s no need to stir up the hornet’s nest like that; we already have enough to deal with.”

“Who cares?” Coo interrupted. “I’m about ready to fly up to their rooms and smack them silly myself! In fact, I’m gonna go do that now!” The violet owl started flapping his wings, prepared to take off; Taranza, thinking fast, promptly activated his Web Hold and trapping Coo in it. “Hey!” he protested. “Put me down right now!”

“Don’t fly off!” the Floralia regent pleaded. “It’s—It’s dangerous in there! Remember what Magolor told us earlier? We have to stick together!”

“I can handle this fine by myself, buddy!” the stubborn bird insisted. “I’ve been doing this longer than you have! Now lemme outta here already!”

Kine sighed, an impressive maneuver for an upright fish. “He’s gonna be like this for a while,” he lamented. “We might want to get a move on before he starts lecturing us about something… and doesn’t stop.”

Ribbon looked up at the fortress and shivered. “Th-This place still gives me the c-creeps,” she said. This may have been her third visit, but she wasn’t any more comfortable now than her first time coming. “I—I wish we didn’t have to c-come back here…”

“I wish we didn’t have to either, Ribbon,” Adeleine consoled her friend, tightening the grip on her paintbrush. “But I don’t think these guys are ever going to learn.” If twice wasn’t enough for them, she thought, then third time won’t be the charm.

Susie, meanwhile, was staring in something resembling awe. “Such a spectacular building structure…!” she breathed. “Were it not for our dire circumstances, I would have my employees document this place’s blueprints immediately.”

Meta Knight snorted, though it wasn’t as abrasive a snort as before. “That’s if you can get any service in this lawless palace,” he deadpanned.

“Hey, I’m sure there’s some semblance of service here!” Kirby piped up. He pulled out his Warp Star Phone, which looked so ancient by today’s standards that it had Susie gagging at its mere appearance. (“You—You still use outdated tech like that!?” she gagged. “I have got to hook you up with one of our products…”) “My Warp Star Phone’s getting reception alright; I don’t see the problem here!”

“I… I think that’s because it’s a phone for Warp Stars,” Dedede said. “Not for actually calling anybody.”

“How does it even work though?” Bandana Dee began to wonder. “Is your Warp Star a satellite? C-Can satellites even do that?” His eyes promptly went dizzy from all the thinking. “I—I think my brain’s hurting now…”

“Don’t worry,” Gooey said, “if your brain hurts, I’ll lick it. Then the hurt will go away.”

“Umm… t-thank you, Gooey…?” I, uh… think that might make it hurt worse…

While everyone else was giving their own comments about the Jambandra Cult’s terrible sense of exterior design (and interior design), Daroach – with his Squeak Squad following close behind silently – began to sniff the air, his eyes narrowed in interest. He coughed loudly into his hand—“A-hem!”—which made everyone stop and turn to him, listening intently. “Something’s not right, everyone,” he stated. “Listen.”

They did. An eerie silence fell through the area, devoid of any traces of wind or even signals of life. It made the already menacing area seem even more haunting.

“…I don’t get it, Dar-Dar,” Marx said, slipping in his usual nicknames for everyone. “What’s not right? There’s… nothing here…” His irises widened in realization – and it seemed everyone else was coming to the same conclusion as well.

“…that’s exactly it,” Dedede said aloud. “There’s nothing. The Jambandra Cult should’ve seen us coming a mile away. If I got a heads-up about an invasion force, I’d have all my guards get up and be ready to defend my castle.”

“Now that you mention it…” Dark Meta Knight got out his sword in caution. “There is an unusual amount of silence in this region, far unexpected from that of these admittedly somewhat-competent heretics… Was their defeats months back a deterrent to their morale? Or have they finally comprehended how much more powerful our blades are in comparison to their peasant-level skills?”

“That can’t be it,” Adeleine replied, “they were just fine when we went for them a week after our adventure in March.” (Savvy readers might recognize her references to a certain ‘Guest Star’ venture; Ribbon, Dark Meta Knight, Daroach, Marx, and I make a good team, if I do say so myself, she internally mused.) “If they didn’t not attack us then, they wouldn’t do so now.”

“So… does that mean it’s safe to… walk in?” Taranza nervously queried, still making sure to keep a good grip on his Web Hold. “If—If no one’s come out now, th-then… we s-shouldn’t have any problems… r-right?”

(Coo was yelling now, and the arachnid visibly looked like he was trying his best to ignore it. “You see!? I can go out and show those girls a thing or two! Come on, lemme go, lemme go!”

“Coo, that’s just rude! You can’t have a go at ‘em like that!”

“They tried to attack our world; they very well deserve it!”)

“Well, you heard Taranza, everyone,” Kirby shrugged. In a flash, he activated one of his long-dormant Copy Essence Deluxes—and lo and behold, a familiar sword and green hat had come to him. (It never hurt to have a good Copy Ability on hand.) “Let’s take this carefully now, guys,” he advised. “This might be a ruse. It might not be. But either way, it’s best to be on our guard.”

“Wise words, Kirby,” Meta Knight approved. “Enough talking, then. Let us explore this fortified fortress once more, and put an end to this crisis once and for all.” He turned to Magolor and asked him an important question, eyes periodically glancing at the docked Lor Starcutter, “Will your vessel be alright once we leave? There may be no enemies in sight, but there is still a great risk leaving it here.”

“Eh, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Magolor shrugged. “Dedede’s Waddle Dees can take care of it fine, methinks.”

“You can count on them!” Dedede confidently declared. “They can do anything so long as they put their minds to it! You’ve got nothing to fear, trust me!”

“Yeah!” Bandana Dee jumped up and down. “They can do it! They can do it!” he chanted. “Go, Waddle Dees!” His enthusiasm, though tinged with a bit of nervousness, spoke proudly of his species’ skill in defending territories. So much so that it was hard to fault him for it.

“Then I will trust your judgement,” the noble knight acquiesced. “Very well—let us be off!”


The Divine Terminus – Hallway

A dark ambience filled every square inch and corner of the once-comparatively lively Jambandra Base, all the way up to the dreaded Divine Terminus from which Void Termina had first been reborn. The only sound echoing off the walls were the steady footsteps of the sixteen Star Allies, carefully making their way through the abandoned halls, wary of any threat that could show up. It was an unpleasant feeling, seeing as how there were no enemies around or any traps active – though admittedly, the latter was plenty relieving, given how many close shaves they had with death with the crushing blocks several months ago.

“…it’s too quiet,” Rick muttered, looking around the hallway with suspicion. “Way, way too quiet. Did—Did everyone just pack up and leave, or is somethin’ else goin’ on?”

“It might have something to do with whatever ritual Hyness tried,” Kirby suggested, his sword now lit up on fire and being used as a makeshift torch. “Maybe they panicked and abandoned him when they felt things get weird, or they got involved in it and couldn’t spare any resources to defend the base. Or maybe they decided to quit their jobs and became the best of friends.” He did the best impression of a shrug he could pull off, though it was kind of diminished by the fact that he was currently holding something. “Who knows? I hope it’s the latter, but I won’t bet on it.”

“An energy reading of the magnitude I detected can’t have gone unnoticed – especially when the majority of the Jambandra Cult resides so close to the source,” Magolor added. “The middle option is the most likely… which doesn’t bode well for what we’ll have to face.”

Well, that’s great, the puffball mentally sighed. It’s always something.

Susie gave an unladylike snort. “Talk about unorganized,” she snidely said. “If this was the Haltmann Works Company, my subordinates would most certainly have the sense to split our resources to both offensive and defensive strategies. This cult clearly doesn’t have any common sense in that regard. Or common sense in anything, for that matter.”

“Are—Are we c-close to the a-altar, y-yet?” Bandana Dee nervously inquired, his eyes darting all about the walls as if a monster could pop out at any moment. (Given the nature of the Jambandra Cult, he was honestly right to worry.) “It’s… It’s g-getting too—too c-creepy around here…!”

“I don’t think it’s a problem,” Gooey drooled. “Everybody seems alright right now.”

Just behind him, Adeleine bit her tongue to try and keep from saying anything to the contrary. Ribbon had no qualms about that. “G-Gooey,” she said, “I… I don’t think ‘everybody’ applies h-here…” Taranza was testament to that, at least – the poor boy was shaking in his boots, though he managed to retain enough semblance of mind to keep a hold on Coo.

“Why not? We can handle it, I think. We’re friends. Friends can do anything with friendship. That’s what Kirby says, anyway.”

“Yep!” Kirby reaffirmed his words. “C’mon, Dee, Ribbon—we can do this, no prob! You just gotta believe a little, y’know?”

“W-Well…” Bandana Dee sighed. “If you s-say so, Kirby.”

“We’ll take your word for it, then!” Ribbon chimed in as well.

Dark Meta Knight raised an eyebrow beneath his mask. “You people certainly love using the words ‘friend’ and ‘friendship’, don’t you,” he quietly remarked. “N-Not that it doesn’t bother me, or anything…”

“Aww, is our favorite edgelordy knight being all tsundere again?” Marx teased with a great big smile on his face. “Don’t worry, we all appreciate you for who you are!”

A grumble. “…shut up.”

The group continued their trek through the fortress, finding every hallway and room equally as deserted as the last few. It wasn’t all bad though, as their lively conversations and antics at least kept the atmosphere from feeling too oppressively hostile – though some of them would admit, even seeing the Three Mage-Sisters come to do battle with them would alleviate their worries a little, as contradictory as that sounds.

Finally, the Star Allies arrived at the hallway before the altar, same as the first trek through the Jambandra Base – with the Copy Essences from before curiously deactivated, for whatever reason. (Not a problem; after all, Kirby still had the Deluxe versions with him.) The tranquil, almost transcendent skies of the cosmos would normally create a ‘calm before the storm’ sort of calm… were it not for the intense feeling of inherent wrongness emanating from the doorway.

The Star Allies reacted appropriately. “What… What is this?” Meta Knight asked with a grimace. “Such a dark undercurrent… What, exactly, has the Jambandra Cult unleashed on us now?”

Magolor whipped out his Nintendo 3DS again, and gaped in shock. “These readings…” he breathed. “I’ve never seen anything like it! When the Lor said Another Dimension was unstable, I hadn’t expected this…!”

Susie started gagging, staying the furthest back from the door out of everyone else. “Blegh!” she coughed, keeling over with a strong grimace on her face. Bad memories were rising up to the surface of her mind, quite against her will. “It… It’s just… as bad… as I remember… Oh dear, sweet Haltmann…”

“S-Susie!” Immediately, Taranza dropped Coo—who gave out an indignant squawk at his handling—and rushed over to the CEO’s side. “Are—Are you alright!?”

She flinched when he came—Has she never known kindness in her life? he briefly wondered—before she softly replied, “I’m—I’m fine, th-thank you for asking. It—It’s inappropriate of me as company CEO to—to react in such an uncouth manner. I apologize.”

“You don’t need to,” Daroach stated, his eyes steeling themselves at the presence of the dark energy. “Anyone would do that when faced with this. Professional thief though I may be, even I can’t believe how much this feels like Dark Nebula…”

“Wh-Who now?” the other two both asked.

“It’s a long story, but trust me when I say it isn’t a good thing.”

Kirby and Dedede gripped their weapons just a little tighter – being at the forefront of the crowd of Star Allies, they couldn’t allow themselves to let a single threat pass by them. They locked their eyes at each other, determined gazes staring back-to-back, and then they nodded together. “Alright guys,” Kirby said to everyone. They stopped their mutterings to look at the two leaders, with Meta Knight and Bandana Dee skootching in beside them – for a single moment, the puffball truly looked like the Pink Terror the True Arena often referred to him as. “On the count of three!”

Magolor, Taranza, and Susie tensed, magic and technology flaring up by their hands.

“One…”

Adeleine, Ribbon, Dark Meta Knight, and Daroach aimed their weapons in front of them, ready for a fight.

“Two…”

Rick, Kine, Coo, Gooey, and Marx glared defiantly at the entrance to the altar.

“Three!”

The four core Star Allies—Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Bandana Dee—busted the door open as hard as they could, and they—plus their remaining twelve companions—proceeded to rush on in.


The Divine Terminus – Altar

The sight before them was not at all pleasing to see.

“It’s—!” Bandana Dee stammered, sweat practically pouring down his head. “It’s a Warp Hole! G-Guys, it’s a Warp Hole!”

Indeed, a familiar star-shaped portal rested in the center of the altar, clearly the result of whatever weird magic Lord Hyness, the Officiant of Doom, had tried as of late. The outer rims of it was a dark, oppressive blue, and the inside of it glowed with an unsettling neon cyan. It swirled and spun with a sense of impudence, in a way; the ‘Lor Reconstruction’ crew of years past half-expected a Sphere Doomer to come on out of it and attack them right then and there. (They were rather cheap in that regard.)

Kirby stared grimly at the interdimensional Warp Hole. “Yeah, we can see that,” he replied. “It’s Another Dimension, alright…”

If that was all, it wouldn’t be so bad – but, just like the door before it, the portal was emanating negativity at an extreme rate, far too unhealthy for the atmosphere to comfortably handle. It feels just like Zero, the hero of Dream Land thought, only worse.

“And here I thought I’d never have to see that again,” Dedede muttered. “I’m getting bad memories just looking at it.”

“Indeed,” Meta Knight agreed. “That wall often came far too close for comfort…”

Tell me about it. I couldn’t tell you how many times I had to spit a Star Bullet back at it… (Honestly, that still made very little sense even to Kirby’s mind but—it worked.)

As the other Star Allies trickled in, the majority started to shiver at the sight of the portal. Marx immediately started gagging. “O-Oh, sweet NOVA!” he choked. “Th-This feeling…! I don’t even…!” Something came rising up his mouth. “I—I think I’m gonna hurl!” he realized. He ducked off to the side and proceeded to do just that, much to the disgust of his half-friend, half-fun-irritant Dark Meta Knight.

“H-How… uncivilized…” the mirror knight said, but his voice held none of his usual harsh undertones, for he too was unsettled by the imminent darkness. (Just because he was a dark creature didn’t mean he was exactly ‘in tune’ with it.) D-Dark Mind was never like this! he even noted. What has this blasted cult summoned to this realm!?

“I dunno, mate,” Rick said from behind him, barely holding back his own vomit, “I think I wanna do the same thing myself. Crikey…”

Ribbon whimpered. So did Adeleine, to a slightly lesser extent. Taranza took a step back; Magolor was operating his 3DS like mad; Daroach brought the rim of his top hat down; Gooey… drooled; Susie was literally quaking in her boots, though she tried not to show it (again, bad memories); and Kine and Coo were taking several large steps back in horror. “…you know what? I’m thinking I really don’t want to do this right now,” the old owl remarked.

“…Mine’s never gonna let me hear the end of this one…” Kine groaned, feeling practically dehydrated.

Beeps and boops resounded out of Magolor’s modified 3DS. “This is it,” he stated. “This is the source. There are four faint life readings here, too.” (Kirby knew who they were: Francisca, Flamberge, Zan Partizanne, and… Hyness.) “Through here, we’ll be in Another Dimension—again, for some of us.” He put the 3DS away. “Like I said before, it’s gonna get dangerous from here on out. Is everybody ready?”

A series of resolute nods met his gaze. No more words needed to be said. The answer was clear. “Then it’s settled.”

Kirby looked back at the Warp Hole, same as everyone else. I don’t really know what to expect here. I don’t know how much Another Dimension has changed since I saw it last. Heck, I’m still having a little trouble coming to grips with how much I’ve changed.

But I’m not about to let that stop me from charging on forward. I couldn’t call myself the hero of Dream Land if I did.

So… here we go.

Without further adieu, the Sword-wielding Star Warrior (as some would call him) waltzed up to the Warp Hole and hopped on in, the portal practically expanding to cover his entire body. The fifteen other faces behind him, all brandishing their trademark weapons, soon followed suit—and it was there where this climatic journey began.

This was it.

From here on out, there could be no more hesitation…

…for the fate of the universe rested in the hands of these Heroes in Another Dimension.


Another Dimension
Dimension I

Another Dimension, as the four core members of the Star Allies remembered it, consisted primarily of a transcendent cosmic sky, housing more than its fair share of vortexes and odd spatial lines, with a fiery blue ground and yellow-bordered walls. It was an odd place, but that wasn’t anything too surprising for the heroes of the Gamble Galaxy.

However… the same couldn’t quite be said now.

“…whoa,” Dedede breathed. “This is—this is new.”

The whole place had practically transformed: a greater variety of light blues and dark blues lit up the skyline, the spatial lines from before now much more numerous and fitting greatly with the expanded color scheme – and even the weird Void Termina-esque spheres and violet Code Cube-esque objects floating around in the air couldn’t detract from its beauty.

On ground level, bright, glowing, yellow blocks filled the views of each of the Star Allies; they were almost too bright to even squint at. The aforementioned yellow outer rims covered up the cosmic nebula within the blocks, a transcendent splendor the likes of which none of them had ever witnessed before. A host of background elements—butterfly weavings, smaller floating blocks, and flora and fauna-like structures—helped to make the place feel far more alive somehow, too.

“It’s pretty,” Taranza admitted, albeit apprehensively, “but it’s also kind of… unsettling? I—I don’t know how to put it, r-really…”

“That’s fine,” Kirby said, “because I don’t know how to either.”

Despite the gorgeousness of Another Dimension’s revamped appearance, a very noticeable, underlying sense of impending destruction flowed through the air with every second that passed – something that only served to highlight just how high the stakes were this time. Marx, in particular, looked like he wanted nothing more than to vomit out his stomach’s contents again, but managed to refrain from it. “Th-This place…” he gagged. “It… It feels a lot like… the True Arena…” He scrunched up his face, doing his best not to let bile reach up his throat. “…I don’t like it.”

“I don’t think anybody does, mate,” Rick said. He sniffed the air. “It smells a little bit like Dark Matter too. That’s not right, huh?”

“No kidding!” Ribbon spoke up.

(In the background, Susie clenched her fists and tried to limit the amount of quavering occurring over her body. It wasn’t quite working.

If she was paying closer attention, she might have noticed Meta Knight staring at her with something close to subdued concern at her odd reaction.)

As everyone else laid out their comments about the scenery, Daroach’s heightened thief senses caught a glimpse of something just over the horizon. He walked over to Kirby and tapped him. “Kirby,” he said. The puffball turned to him, and his gaze followed the direction of the mouse’s outstretched finger. “Look over there.”

The route before them could best be described as a series of oversized stairs with plenty of gaps, fit better for a behemoth than a ‘round pink thing’, as many a villain initially would describe Kirby. But emanating from the top seemed to be an object – and faint though it may be, Kirby could make out a glimpse of something… pink.

Obviously, it was important.

And that meant he’d better see what it was.                       

“Good eye,” he complimented his friend. Raising his voice, he called, “Guys! Let’s get a move on! We’re wasting daylight right now; we’ve got a galaxy to save!” The Super Tuff Pink Puff ran forward, his sword still blazing in his hand – and the rest of the Star Allies, after shaking themselves out of their awe, proceeded to run after him.

He hopped on one of the elevated platforms, and it began rising slowly into the air. Its rate of elevation was sluggish enough that all sixteen of them – barring a few initial yelps – could jump onto it and up to the next solid piece of ground in no time at all. The next several steps were similar, and the Star Allies got into a comfortable rhythm of sorts, doing this rather basic platforming exercise. (Hey, it serves as good practice!)

At the top of the impromptu staircase was a surprise: a single, lone Friend Heart, floating just a couple of feet off the ground. The heart itself was something the Dream Friends had seen several times before, when Kirby used it to either befriend an enemy, or resummon a familiar Helper. And seeing it here, alone and held up by nothing at all (as most collectibles were prone to doing), where normally it would have to be materialized and thrown through Kirby’s own power, was… odd, to say the least.

Dark Meta Knight narrowed his eyes. “Kirby. Isn’t that article something that belongs to you?” he asked.

Kirby nodded. He’d know the look of it anywhere at this point.

Magolor blinked. “…‘belongs to you’?” he repeated out loud, a gloved hand coming to his chin in befuddlement. That’s new. “What’s that mean? Guys?”

Taranza and Susie were similarly confused. “Yes, please clarify,” the CEO directed. “I believe this is knowledge we most definitely need to know, whatever it is.”

“O-Oh!” Bandana Dee ran up to the trio of recent additions, a look of realization coming upon his cute face. “Th-That’s right! You guys weren’t around for our adventure in March! H-Hey! Adeleine! Ribbon!” he called for his two friends. “I think w-we’re gonna need an i-illustrated explanation for these guys!”

The artistic duo went on up, and with a smile on their faces—plus a jolly “We can do that!” from Adeleine—summoned their large canvas and prepared to paint to Bandana Dee’s words. (She had gotten real good at anticipating statements and applying the appropriate art to match. When you can make your drawings literally come to life, it’s a talent that’s nice to have – and NOVA knows Angie appreciated it as well.) “So,” the faithful assistant began, “it all began when all these heart pieces were raining down from the sky! You know, ‘cause of the Jambandra guys.” Magolor, Taranza, and Susie watched with interest as the accompanying art piece showcased a purple meteor shower descending across all of Pop Star. Susie grumbled something about ‘copycats’ underneath her breath.

Huh. That doesn’t look half-bad, actually. I wonder if she’d be up for painting the Lor…

“They touched a lot of people – like Great King, sadly – and they did a lot of bad things, too. But there was one that was actually good!” A pink streak suddenly showed up in the sea of purple, visible enough to captivate the trio’s eyes. “And just like a miracle, it touched Kirby!” Now, the painting was of the pink heart sinking into Kirby’s body, sprinkling some sort of magical dust over him.

Adeleine continued to sketch, now drawing a scene of Kirby throwing another of those pink hearts at a Poppy Bros. Jr. Despite the dire situation at hand, she seemed content with the artistry she was working on. “Now Kirby can throw hearts—Friend Hearts, we call them—and make friends with our enemies!” The Poppy Bro in the picture, once ready to throw a lit bomb, now looked far more welcoming to the idea of friendship. What a… remarkable transformation, Magolor thought.

“It’s helped us a lot over the past few months, and we’ve made many friends thanks to it!” Bandana Dee added. A swath of Helpers was depicted now, from Waddle Doo to Bonkers to Vividra… It was a virtual army, the cavalcade shown. “We wouldn’t be here without all these Helpers by our side!”

Susie, by this point, had gotten out a notepad and was diligently writing down the information for ‘later use’. Taranza, meanwhile, simply raised one of his hands. “U-Umm… Can… Can I ask a question?” he desired to know.

“O-Of course!” Bandana Dee made a happy expression. “Ask away!”

“W-Well…” Taranza scratched the back of his head. “H-How did that h-heart just so happen to f-fall onto Kirby? That—That seems like a pretty big coincidence, to me…”

“That is rather convenient,” Magolor agreed. It’s not like me, when I transported the Lor to Pop Star that one time.

“Hmm… A-Actually…” The assistant rubbed the back of his head as he answered, “I… don’t know! I don’t think Kirby does, either! It’s just a thing that… happened.”

“How unscientific,” Susie remarked, looking up from her notepad. “In this universe, there’s no such things as coincidences – especially not ones like that. There’s always a reason for everything that happens, even if it doesn’t look like it at first. The most likely candidate for the events you listed is that the pink heart specifically targeted Pinky—” (Say, why does she always call him ‘Pinky’? Is that just a term of endearment?) “—to give him those powers. The reasons behind such an action, though, currently elude me.”

Magolor closed my eyes and mused. “…knowing how Pop Star attracts the weirdest things,” least of which being stumbling onto an alternate Dream Land, “something like that wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary,” he affirmed. “Just as fate had us all be here, at this exact moment in time, it might be that fate had a hand in letting Kirby have these Friend Hearts at his disposal.”

“I dunno, that seems kinda farfetched to me,” Taranza confided.

“Like it or not, it’s the most likely possibility,” Susie replied.

Bandana Dee looked wowed. “W-Whoa…! I never thought about it that way…!”

Adeleine, taking a break from painting duty, was similarly in wonderment. “You know, that can kind of apply to basically everything that happens around Kirby,” she mused. “That’s… That’s pretty interesting. Probably would make for a neat piece of art, too…”

“Well, I’m not complaining about it!” Ribbon said brightly. “I mean, if it wasn’t for me crash landing on Pop Star, Kirby and I would have never met! Coincidence or not, that’s something I’m always happy to have had happen!”

Taranza smiled ruefully. All the talk about fate and friendships really got his mind thinking. This… This kind of reminds me of… being with her again.

…even after everything, I wish she was still here with me.

If only…

Then Magolor noticed something. “Hey, guys,” he said. “I think we should wrap up this learning session. Everyone else seems to be doing something else right now.”

A collective “Huh?” echoed from the rest of the crowd, and they looked on forward to see the other Star Allies having moved up to some sort of door – and were now trying to get Gooey to stop licking it.

“Mmm… This tastes like doors,” Gooey was drooling.

“G-Gooey!” Kirby shouted. “Th-That’s not food! C-C’mon, now!”

“M-Mate, are—are you serious now?” Rick seemed flabbergasted.

“Sheesh, are you really that hungry?” Marx asked with a raised eyebrow. “Can you just ask Adeleine for a snack or something?”

Dedede facepalmed. (Yeah, what else could he do here?)

It was a rather humorous event to watch, made only funnier by the crew’s reactions and attempts to pull the blob of Dark Matter away to very little avail. But they couldn’t stare at forever – after all, they had plenty of business to take care of.

“H-Hey, what’s going on!?” Adeleine’s canvas poofed away in a cloud of smoke, and both her and Ribbon ran (or in the fairy’s case, flew) over to their other friends’ sides, with Bandana Dee following close behind. “W-Wait for us!”

The trio of new Star Allies watched the scene from afar with interest.

“You know,” Magolor said with a furrowed brow and an amused smile, “if this is the type of thing we’re gonna be seeing, I get the feeling this journey’s really gonna be something else.”

“At the very least, the data I’ll collect from this will very much assist in the future endeavors of the Haltmann Works Company,” Susie stated clinically – though not without a shadow of a smirk on her face. “Sticking around, then, won’t be serve as a problem.”

“…weird reasoning,” Taranza noted, “but—I get it. I don’t think I’d want to be anywhere else right now but here. So…” A longing gaze passed through his eyes. “…here’s hoping things go well.”


[Bandana Dee]

Dimension I – First Hero Trial

Th-This place… it’s—it’s pretty crazy, g-guys!

L-Like… Another Dimension before was a bit of an afterthought, just a place where we beat Magolor twice over. I had kind of forgotten about it, because we’ve been to even more crazy places and done a whole lotta things since – b-but I guess it really didn’t like being relegated to a minor status like that, h-huh?

It’s so much more colorful now! So much more blinding, so much more all-over-the-place… and so much more insane! Our adventure back in March has nothing on this, really! And plus, our group is even bigger now – sixteen people at once is nothing to scoff at!

Unfortunately, it kind of seems like this place doesn’t like how big we are – because literally everything here hits like a tank. Even those of my kind (How are they even here, anyway? Are they natives of this place?) attack us harder than they normally do. I normally won’t admit this, but us Waddle Dees aren’t really that great at fighting without a weapon – an old fight with Kirby proved that well to me – so this is… a bit of a surprise.

Luckily, since we’re such a huge crew, it wasn’t that big of a problem! Between my spear, Great King’s hammer, Marx’s… balls, Susie’s big mech, and everything else, we could take care of anything that comes our way! Kirby was in his element, too, using his Fighter ability to kick and throw all our enemies away.

…oh, yeah – for some reason, that door we came up across gave him Fighter first before it let us through. I have no idea why.

It might have something to do with the blocks placed in front of those Friend Hearts (why are there so many here?), so… yay, convenience?

I guess I’ll take it! Anything that helps us and Great King out is good in my book!

I’m not sure what all these Friend Hearts are for, but maybe they’ll help us defeat the Jambandra Cult. Or maybe even befriend them! They may be our enemies, but there’s nothing really stopping us from becoming actual friends! (Aside from the ‘religious cult of a Dark Lord’ thing, but… we can change that, maybe!) Kirby likes befriending people, be them heroes or villains, so he could definitely make it work somehow! That’s just the way he is!

H-Honestly, though… I’m still a little frightened. I—I mean, it’s just that… this kind of threat is new to us. It’s so much more serious than our usual, and it’s out of place with our usual ‘adventure—extra quest—True Arena’ system. And I do worry about us turning out alright, since the difficulty has been ratcheted way up this time around.

B-But… something tells me it’ll be fine. And I trust that something!

We’ve survived a lot of things already; this shouldn’t be anything new to us!

…I hope.

…you know, this whole escapade of ours has gotten me thinking a little, what with sixteen of us here and all. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? We’re so much more now than just a ragtag team of four or five running about the galaxy collecting a whole bunch of shiny things – Crystal Shards, Energy Spheres, you name it! (I remember being a little sore picking up the latter… How the heck did they even get in some of those hiding places?)

And we’ve all come here together now, thanks to Kirby. Making friends, defeating enemies, even helping some of them get back on their feet… He’s done so much in the twenty-six years he’s been on Pop Star – and I’ve been there for a pretty big chunk of it. I remember the day our friendship started: I was minding my own business when I found a pretty crystal, and then I got possessed by Dark Matter.

(It saddens me to say this, but that’s a thing a lot of people in Dream Land have experience with. Thank NOVA Dark Matter’s gone now!)

I don’t really remember anything that happened while I was possessed – but Kirby managed to beat it out of me, and from there, we became fast friends! Heh heh… thinking about then always cracks a bit of a smile from me. How can I not, when it was the day I met one of my two best friends in the whole galaxy?

I’ve been there for a good number of Kirby’s journeys: when we looked for the pieces of the Lor Starcutter; when Great King got kidnapped by Taranza; when the whole planet was in disarray from the Haltmann Works Company… and there’s plenty in-between that’s kinda more obscure, like the Rainbow Curse incident! (Elline and Claycia were pretty nice; we should go see them again sometime…)

My point is, I’ve seen Kirby’s courage and good nature first-hand. I’ve seen his propensity to make friends out of anything and anyone he comes across, no matter who they are or what they’ve tried to do. He’ll give off a great big smile, stick his hand out, and help you up even if he just thrashed your butt. (What can I say, he’s easily forgiving like that!)

We’ve made a lot of good friends that way – even if they don’t seem like they’d be ones. Marx and Dark Meta Knight were rather… questionable in that regard, at first – I know Great King certainly wasn’t too excited about them – but now, they’re two of our best allies. S-Seriously! Those beach balls and mirrors have really helped us out in a pickle!

…I know that doesn’t exactly sound helpful, b-but—trust me on this!

And I know I may not be the bravest of Waddle Dees, or the strongest, or the… anything-est, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try my best to help my friends whenever they need it! Kirby’s helped me out a lot over the years – when I was first learning how to use a spear, after Kirby and Great King finally settled their rivalry (you should’ve seen the fight, it was literally electrifying!), the two of them were happy to teach me!

For a guy who supposedly hadn’t used Spear in a while, Kirby certainly knew how to use it! When he said he was a bit of a technician, he wasn’t joking…

Either way, I wouldn’t be here right now if I hadn’t met Kirby. I might’ve never gotten as close as I am to Great King, either! So that’s why, even though I’m frightened over all the horrors I know we’ll come across, I’ll face this threat by their sides with a hand by my trusty spear!

…h-heh heh, I’ve—I’ve been rambling on a bit too long, h-haven’t I? You probably just want to see what the heck we’re doing right now! W-Well…

“And that makes four Friend Hearts,” Kirby stated, juggling around the heart-shaped artifacts with his hands as the sixteen of us walked forward. “Only ninety-six more to go. Or a hundred-sixteen. One of those two numbers.”

“I’m already getting pains just thinking about how many are left…” Great King groaned, a hand immediately going to his forehead. “How can you do this whole collectible thing all the time and not get sick and tired of it?”

“‘Ey, at some point, it just becomes routine, mate,” Rick offered, shrugging his shoulders. “Rainbow Drops, Heart Stars, those weird Puzzle Pieces… it all kinda blends in after a while.”

“At least these ones are easier to find,” Kine said. “You wouldn’t believe the type of things we had to do to get those other two…”

A brief shudder went through Kirby and the Animal Buddies. I wonder what kind of tasks they’re talking about. Whenever I ask some of them of that time, they just groan and mutter something about ‘Metroids’ and ‘dates’ and it doesn’t really make much sense?

It—It seems like an in-joke I’m not getting…

“…moving on,” Great King continued, “how’s everybody else doing?” He turned to the rest of our squad. Everyone seemed a little worn out, though otherwise perfectly fine – though I bet they wish all those Poppy Bros. Jr. didn’t keep tossing bombs at us (our own Poppy had to keep apologizing after Kirby resummoned him) – and Marx, meanwhile, was tilting his head around and overdramatically whining out, “We’re all half-dead! There is no hope! There is no hope! Oh, woe be us—!”

…yes, he’s like this all the time.

No, none of us have ever managed to get him to stop.

And when the Ultimates trickled in to Pop Star, it got even worse. Kokichi and Marx are a match made in the depths of the True Arena, I—I swear! How does Adeleine and Dark Meta Knight handle it!?

Good thing I can share my pain with Shuichi…

“Ignoring him,” Dark Meta Knight grouched, “we are all… perfectly well, for what has transpired.” His sword, a mirror copy of Meta Knight’s Galaxia, was sparkling with electricity, and he looked for all the world like the t-terrifying edgelord he really liked to be seen as (I dunno why; I think he’s fine as he is). “These pitiful creatures are no match for my sharp blade.”

“A-Again, I’m—I’m sorry about my kind!” Poppy apologized, bowing his head repeatedly. I can’t imagine what he’s feeling right now… “It’s—It’s just the way we are, r-really! P-Please don’t take it as a bad thing…!”

“It’s alright!” Ribbon assured him. “You didn’t do anything wrong! Everyone else was just… meanies! Th-That’s right, meanies!” Adeleine giggled a bit at Ribbon’s vocabulary.

I nodded furiously in agreement. “You can’t hold yourself responsible for what they do! You’re one of our friends! And that counts for a lot!”

Gooey drooled. “What they said,” he helpfully added. Hey, everything counts!

Poppy beamed – I, I think there were even a few tears in his eyes. “A-Awwww…” he smiled. “Th-Thanks, you guys! That… That really means a lot to me.”

And meanwhile, Taranza was standing off to the side, looking extremely out of his depth. He’s… He’s really not used to this, huh? W-Well, then we should be doing our best to make him feel right at home! As he started to shuffle away, I called out to him, “H-Hey, Taranza!”, and he jolted in surprise.

“H-Huh?” His eyes shifted about wildly before they fell on me in realization. “O-Oh—B-Bandana Dee!” He coughed, looking away in… embarrassment, I think? “You… You called? I, I don’t think you really need me right now, but if—if you really want me—”

“Do you want to join us?” I asked him out of the blue.

“J-Join you?” He started trembling nervously. That… That doesn’t look healthy for him; even I don’t do so as much. “I… You… You don’t… have to invite me… I’m—I’m just fine by myself. R-Really!”

…I don’t believe him.

Neither does Ribbon.

“Hey, don’t be like that!” The fairy from Ripple Star fluttered over to the spider’s side and started pushing him toward our side. “You’re just as welcome here as Poppy is!” The Poppy Bros. Jr. waved at the mention of his name. “Now c’mon—don’t be shy! Come join us!”

“H-Hey! D-Don’t be so pushy…!” The poor regent seemed like he didn’t know what to do with Ribbon’s more energetic behavior – but that’s what we’re here for, right?

“It’s okay!” I said brightly. “I know we may seem like a lot,” to the point where even I can have trouble sometimes, “but we don’t bite!”

Adeleine smiled. “Yeah—we’re just a colorful bunch, that’s all! All we do is paint a pretty picture every now and then.”

“And eat,” Gooey added.

Poppy nodded vigorously. “And ignite a few bombs here and there, too! That’s always fun!”

…that’s not what I would say, but—it works, I guess?

“…I dunno… I don’t think I… really fit in here. I mean…” He glanced at me guiltily. “I… did kind of kidnap your king and all… You really shouldn’t be wanting me here.”

“It’s alright!” I assured him. “He forgave you and all!” Great King’s almost like Kirby in that regard – almost, because even Great King hesitates with the real-deal big bad guys like Marx. And Dark Meta Knight. “And if he can forgive you, then—then I can forgive you, too! Besides… You’re not a bad person. I can see that in you.”

It’s… It’s a real shame, what happened with him and Queen Sectonia and all. They used to be best friends, Kirby and Great King tells me. I don’t think we should replace her, necessarily, but… maybe we can make things a little better for him.

That’s what our Super Tuff Pink Puff would do, after all!

“Ooh! Ooh!” Poppy looked like he had an idea in mind. “Hey, Adeleine! How ‘bout you paint him a picture!” His eyes glistened brightly as he relayed his friendship-deepening idea to us. “You’re really, really good at painting—so a pretty painting should help him relax a little! That’s a good idea, right?”

Hmm… Taranza seemed to like Adeleine’s paintings from earlier, when I was explaining the Star Allies debacle to him and the others… It could definitely work! “I can definitely give away a few of my drawings,” the painter said. “Alright!” She went up to our apprehensive ally and asked, “So! Anything you want me to draw in particular?”

“Don’t worry—Addie can draw anything!” Ribbon praised her best friend. “If it can be drawn, she can do it!”

The arachnid looked considering now. “Well…” he started. “There is one thing—person—I’d liked to see again… even if it’s only a drawing of her…”

He scrounged around his pockets – or hammerspace, I dunno – and then he pulled out a delicately well-kept photo, perfectly clean and intact. He gave it to Adeleine, who took it in her hand. Poppy, Ribbon, and I peeked at the photo ourselves: it depicted Taranza in the Royal Road’s throne room, standing right next to…

…oh.

Oh.

Adeleine and Ribbon’s eyes widened. “H-Hey… The girl in this photo…” The artist looked up. “Is that…”

Taranza nodded solemnly. “Can… Can you do it? …please?”

A solemn, heartfelt smile came onto her face. “…yeah. If you really want it—it’ll be my pleasure.”

…he must really still miss her, huh?

I can’t imagine what life would be like if I lost Great King myself.

He looks like he really needs a hug. So…

I walked up to him and gave him a great big hug. He was startled by it at first, but… eventually, he accepted it, his six hands cuddling around my frame as well. Poppy joined in after a moment, and then Adeleine and Ribbon hopped in. Gooey’s tongue wrapped around our increasingly larger pile too, which prompted the spider to ask, “H-Hey… Wh-Why are… you all hugging me like this?”

“You seemed like you need it,” I chimed in. “And what kind of friend would we be if we didn’t cheer you up when you’re down?”

“Yeah!” Adeleine said. “We’re friends!”

“And fellow kingdom assistants, woo!” Ribbon cheered.

Gooey couldn’t exactly say anything, but he made sounds of agreement from his throat.

“We can blow up all the bombs together!” Poppy exclaimed.

Taranza didn’t reply, but I caught hints of a smile coming onto his face. I think… I think we’re having a good effect on him.

And that’s what’s important in the end. Making a friend as happy as he can be. That’s the type of person I like to be – and that’s the way I’m going to stay, even as we traverse through this crazy dimension.

We’ve still got a long way to go, I know that… but so long as our bonds remain strong, I know we can do this.

I know we can.


[N/A]

The Hero Door before the sixteen Star Allies was much like the one that give Kirby the Fighter ability from before – except this one had Bandana Dee’s icon on its heart-shaped sculpture instead of the one for Fighter. And the door itself was preempted by a portrait of the familiar assistant, too.

If that wasn’t strange, then Kirby didn’t know what was.

“Th-This door…” Bandana Dee breathed… “It’s… It’s got my face on it. But—but why?”

“Well, that’s mighty convenient!” Coo cawed. “Suspiciously so… Seems like a game-y thing to me!”

“I think this place has been stalking you,” Marx snarked in his trademark fashion. “Actually, it might be stalking Kirby, too, judging by the last door we came across…”

“This dimension gets stranger every time I look at it,” Magolor remarked, coming closer to the door and examining it. “Could something in here have anticipated our arrival? Or is this residue from you guys’ past visit to Another Dimension?” He hummed again, his mind whirring with possible answers. “So many possibilities, yet not enough information…”

“Residue from past visits?” Susie muttered. “By that logic, that means…” She stopped, and then grimaced. “Oh, great. This NOVA-damned place’ll recognize me. Just what I wanted.”

“Well, that’s a horror I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even you,” Meta Knight said, standing behind the CEO – not to guard her, but to watch her. “The True Arena always dragging us in is more than I ever wanted on that front. Though that does use technology from your company…”

“…in my defense, my father donated them before he died. It had nothing to do with me.” A frown. “I couldn’t even get it removed when I became CEO…”

“…my condolences, then.”

Daroach, meanwhile, being the calm intellectual that he was, made his observations clear. “Whatever reason this door specifically is here doesn’t matter. What does matter is what we can glean from its presence before us. Likely, its appearance indicates that our good friend Bandana Dee”—He gestured to the said ‘good friend’ standing nearby, who jumped—“will be of much help during this sector of this dimension. It is best, then, if he temporarily takes our lead for this area.”

“W-W-Wait, hold up! M-M-M-Me?” Bandana Dee pointed toward himself. “L-L-Lead? I—I dunno if I c-can do th-that, s-slow down!”

“Why not?” King Dedede asked, another of his trademark grins stretching his mouth. “I think you can do it just fine, Dee.”

“R-Really?”

“Mate,” Rick began, “you’ve been a good friend in the time I’ve known you. I’m sure this is something you’ll be able to handle.”

“Well, you’re alright,” Kine said. “

“Hey, if I can lead, everyone else here can too,” Kirby said. “So that means you’ll be a good choice for the job. Trust me on that!”

“I suppose it would be relatively non-offensive if someone like you took the reins,” Dark Meta Knight conceded. “Just know that I will show no mercy should you accidentally lead us into a bottomless pit.”

“You eluded the reach of my company far, far longer than most on Planet Pop Star did,” Susie similarly acknowledged. “On those terms, it would be… interesting to record how well you do in a position of leadership.”

“Eh, ignore them,” Magolor shrugged. “You know what they mean. You were a big help with repairing the Lor Starcutter so long ago. So I’ll put my full confidence in you!”

This splattering of approval from all of his friends made Bandana Dee blush in embarrassment. “You—you guys…” He rubbed the back of his head. “I’ll—I’ll do my best to leave up to your expectations, then!”

Really, how could he not? This was his friends they were talking about – if they believed he could do it… then by golly, he’d do his best to do it!

Anything counted here in this twisted dimension, right?

Everyone’s counting on me now. I won’t fail them here!

And so the spear-wielding friend totted on up to the door – which, despite its small appearance, could actually fit all the Star Allies through its frame – put a hand on the doorknob, and opened it up. Beams of light shone out from the creases in the now-open gateway, but that didn’t do much to deter anyone.

Bandana Dee looked back to the crowd behind him, and semi-confidently proclaimed, “H-Here we go, everybody!”

The little Dee ran through the door – and the rest of the Star Allies followed him dutifully.


Elsewhere, in Another Dimension…

“Wh-Where are we?” Francisca asked, her beady eyes shooting all around their extremely unfamiliar surroundings. The location they were in looked nothing like the home they had known for so long – or indeed, anything that even remotely belonged in the Gamble Galaxy. “The magic here, it—it—it feels so… so dangerous!

Something was intensely wrong about the place. The Jambandra Base may have been… ‘in tune’ with the occult, given the nature of their leader’s goals, but… the atmosphere was of an unusual nature, even by their standards. There was something swirling and spiraling in the air – something twisted – and a sense of danger permeated through their skin as well. Put simply – Francisca didn’t like it.

“You’ve got that right, Franny,” Flamberge agreed, her normally fiery demeanor temporarily extinguished by the transcendent nature of Another Dimension. “This… This ain’t anything good.” She turned to her elder sister and pleaded, “Zan, let’s—let’s just leave. I don’t wanna be here any longer than we have to be. L-Lord Hyness can handle himself. He—He does so all the time, he’ll be fine!”

Zan Partizanne drew her gaze away. “…I can’t do that,” she quietly admitted, summoning her partisan into her hand. “Lord Hyness—more than ever now, he needs us. I hate to say it, but…” A glance at the swirling chaos around them. “…he may be out of his depth.”

Flamberge scoffed. “That’s an understatement. He literally got sucked into a portal! And you, being the ever-loyal disciple that you are, just—charged in after him!” Her harsh tone settled down as a concerned expression appeared on her face. “…you can’t just charge after him all the time, you know. What if you get into a danger that you can’t get out of? What if… we can’t be there to you out?”

Light tears built up at the edges of the Blazing General’s eyes. Zan choked, though she hid it well. That was a bit of a low blow—though she understood where it came from. After all, she still remembered the days when the three of them were separated, far from each other, with herself growing increasingly desperate to find them, until it lead up to—!

…no. No. She didn’t have to remember those days anymore.

Lord Hyness had given her everything back, gave her a life anew, become the savior she had desired from her deepest dreams – and now, now, when he needed her the most, this… this thing was going to just… take him away?

Fat chance of that happening!

BA-DUMP!

Something stirred from within her. Something… something strong. What was it?

BA-DUMP!

…it—it could only be her determination.

Yes, that was it. Her determination to rescue her beloved Lord and bring him back to his home, where he belonged, with her sisters and their subordinates and everyone else.

That was the goal she had christened for herself.

And that was the goal she would accomplish, here and now.

BA-DUMP!

(Lightning crackled around her weapon—and if one looked closely… the normally yellow sparkles seemed to glisten purple, if only for a brief moment. But—but that couldn’t be anything important. Surely, it couldn’t be.)

Francisca adopted the same worried face that Flamberge was holding. “Z-Zan? Are you…” Her eyes darted quickly to her sister’s preferred weapon before landing back on its wielder. “…are you okay?”

“…I’m just fine,” she affirmed – though, based on the look the Frozen and Blazing Generals gave each other, she failed to soothe their doubts. Well, that didn’t matter. “Now…” She turned her attention to the ethereal lands before them. “We have a mission to complete. Lord Hyness awaits. Let us find him!”

And then, the Lightning General zipped off, not even bothering to wait for her sisters.

“…Berge…” Francisca bit her lip. “…do you think something’s wrong with Zan? She’s—she’s not usually so… so… so forceful.” Despite her rather serious nature, the second-in-command of the Jambandra Cult knew when to lay things back a bit – even in a situation as serious as this. “And—and that lightning…”

Flamberge looked away. What… What was that? she asked herself, her mind frantically racing to come up with an answer. She shook her head. “M-Maybe… Maybe it was just… a trick of the light,” she tried unsuccessfully to convince herself. “Y-Yeah. And—and she’s just… a bit stressed. Th-That’s all. Yeah. N-Now!” She whipped out her trusty blade abruptly, startling her twin sister. “We should get going after her! We… We c-can’t just leave her alone like that now, r-right!?”

“…I suppose you are right…” Taking out her labrys herself, Francisca could only gaze sadly at the place where her elder sister had been standing just a few moments before. This was going to be the death of them, she knew – but this was her sister, and she couldn’t stray away from her.

Not again.

Not ever again.

“…well… let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Waves of heat soared over her entire body, absolutely smothering her in a blanket far too warm for her tastes. Flickers of red fell over the fiery wasteland, accompanied by enormous clouds of smoke making it far too difficult to see. And not helping was all the coughing she was doing, as a result of all of that smog entering her lungs. Sizzlai Moon was not a place you wanted to be in when it was raining hailfire all over the place – but she didn’t exactly have a choice in that regard.

But that wasn’t going to stop her. Oh no, it wasn’t. She’d push on through this hellscape, even the heat seemed overbearing—because there were people she still had to find, people who needed her (and who she needed in turn), and it’d be a cold day in—well, here—before she’d let her efforts be wasted now!

“J-Just because it’s hot… doesn’t mean… I—I c-can’t get through this…!” she muttered, gritting her teeth. “F-Franny… Z-Zan… Wherever you are, I will find you…!”

Off the top of her head, the little girl couldn’t remember for the life of her how exactly she got on this… crazy, volcanic planet-moon place. One moment, she was with her two sisters and her father, and the next… she had woken up here, bereft of any belongings beyond the clothes on her back – and the feeling that something that should’ve been there… wasn’t.

It wasn’t hard to tell what it was.

But—that was only a momentary inconvenience; she was sure of that! Her sisters were somewhere on this NOVA-forsaken moon, and by golly, she’d find them—and then, everything would be okay again! That was a fact! And there was nothing this hot mess of a place could do about that!

You—You hear me on that, lava land!? she internally hissed. B-Bring it on…!

Unfortunately for her, though, the whole locale was trying its best to prove her wrong every step of the way. And doubly unfortunately for her… it was succeeding.

‘She’s always been a stubborn one,’ her elder sister once noted that trait with pride – but where once her tenacity was her shining quality… here, it would prove to be a detriment in the long run.

(There wasn’t a whole lot one could do on against a volcanic satellite, after all.)

She pushed on and on, determined to keep looking on, even as the soot continued to gather in her face and her breath became ever more shortened. She didn’t have anything to lose at this point beyond her remaining hopes and dreams, and to her credit, she would’ve lasted a fair bit longer even with her increasingly worse condition… that is, if the volcanoes around her hadn’t erupted violently with plumes of lava.

The girl, horrified, stared into the sky as the molten rocks and sparks started descending to the ground, even bigger clouds of black smoke accompanying their presence. Shaking her head, she turned around and took off in the opposite direction away from the chaos. I can’t let this defeat me now…! she thought—but sadly, she was wrong today.

The meteors came down fast, and before she knew it, they had slammed into the ground all around her—and a practical inferno had engulfed her very surroundings, her heat problems magnified a thousandfold by the firestorm that had come for her.

“No… No…!” she tried to deny. “This is—This can’t be—!?” Her vision was blurring, unwanted tears welling up in the corner of her eyes and accompanied by large coughing fits – but lucky for her, she could still see enough. Her eyes frantically danced about the place, desperately searching for an exit, but much to her distress… there was no foreseeable way out. None at all.

“G-Grrrr…! I… I… I can’t die here…! You think that this’ll stop me…!?”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the flames spared no expense in creeping closer to her – and now, even her precious breathing room was being smothered into nothingness. She grit her teeth louder as she dropped down to her knees, finally and utterly defeated in every stretch of the imagination, though she refused to acknowledge it had happened. With the hot gravel floor burning against her skin, the fire almost touching her form, and her consciousness fading ever more, she raised her head to the sky – and let out one last fiery scream.

“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!”

“G-Goppoko! There she is! Q-Quickly!”

Just before she was consumed whole, however… a blizzard tidal wave—completely out-of-place in the volcanic wasteland that was Sizzlai Moon—came and extinguished the immediate danger. But perhaps, it was too late: the girl had dropped to the ground entirely, no longer able to coherently register the events unfolding around her.

H-Huh…? her frayed mind thought. Wh-What’s…?

“J-Janno…!” that unfamiliar voice exclaimed again. “She—She is very weak! If we had been any few seconds slower…!”

“B-B-Berge!” another voice shouted. (F-Franny…? the fallen girl thought. Is that you…?) Footsteps resounded out as her sister went up and took her nearly-unconscious sibling in her hands. “No, no—you can’t die here! Not after I’ve finally found you…!”

The girl coughed, a weak laugh exiting her lips as she struggled to keep her eyes open. “F-Franny… I… I actually found you…” she deliriously whispered, one final, shaky smile forming on her face. “I… I didn’t lose you forever… H-Ha ha…” Her already minimal strength began to fade. “At—At l-least… I have th-that…”

“D-D-Don’t talk like this is the end, B-Berge…!” Her head whipped around. “M-Mr. Hyness! C-Can’t you do that… warm, magic-y thingy on her!?”

Warm… magic-y… thingy…?

“Jes, jes… that could work.” Out of nowhere, the mysterious stranger—who Franny was accompanying for some reason; she couldn’t discern a reason why as she was currently—began to chant with some… weird language thingy that she couldn’t interpret, and sounded kinda hipster-y to her ears. But it seemed to be doing something, as she soon became soaked in a soothing, even healing feeling that seemed almost warm to the touch. Her eyes gradually reopened up as strength returned to her—and for that matter, she even felt something building up within her.

Something… intense.

Something… burning!

An awesome type of burning!

“H-HECK YEAH!” Suddenly, the girl—Flamberge—burst into the air and (as foretold by the “W-WAH!”) completely surprised Francisca out of her wits. Landing on her feet, she exclaimed, “This is—This is GREAT! Aw man, I’ve never felt like this before!” She raised her hands to the sky, fire practically shooting out of her palms. For all that she had been close to death… it was like she had never been in that situation to begin with. (She had always been a little carefree like that.)

“B-Berge!” Francisca stumbled about a bit trying to regain her bearings. “D-D-Don’t startle me like th-that!” Despite her surprised outlook… there was clear relief echoed throughout her face. Her sister was back—and her sister was as well as could be, given the circumstances.

“C’mon, Franny!” Flamberge nonchalantly scoffed. “I feel pumped up on ten soda bottles at once! Lemme have this one for a bit, won’t ya? Look!” She brought one of her hands up, relishing in how comfortable the fire felt in her palm. “I can make fire now! How cool is that!?”

A quiet and heartfelt laugh came out of the nearby stranger’s mouth. Turning to him, Flamberge got a good look at his rather… eccentric appearance (What’s with his eyes? she thought. F-Franny didn’t get involved with anyone… bad… right?), and his equally as weird getup. “Simply jawaii…” he said (What does that word mean?). “I am jhappy that you are perfectly okay after your harrowing experience.”

“Say…” Flamberge’s eyes narrowed. “…who are you? I’ve never seen someone like you before… You’re not secretly Dad in disguise, are you?”

“Berge…” Francisca sighed exasperatedly. “He’s not Dad—Dad doesn’t have any costumes like that.” She briefly looked away, tears threatening to spring from her eyes, before she resumed with, “A-Anyway! This is Mr. Hyness! He helped me out in a—uhh, sticky situation! He’s a nice guy! He even gave me some cool ice powers!” She demonstrated by casting another cold wind through the area, which admittedly, was rather impressive. “S-Say hi to him, Berge!”

Normally, Flamberge would follow her father’s advice and ignore a stranger like this – but if Francisca said he was a good person—and he assisted her for seemingly for no price at all—he was probably… alright. “…hello, Mr. Hyness. I’m Flamberge, and I’m Franny’s sister. Nice to meet ya, I guess!”

Hyness closed his eyes in delight, clasping his hands together. “It is nice to meet you too, Ms. Flamberge,” he replied. “As you know, I am Hyness—an officiant of the gods above. Your sister and I were on a quest to find you and your other sibling. Since you have been rescued from danger, would you like to join us to find… juh…” He turned to Francisca. “Japologa, Francisca, but I am afraid I have forgotten her name again. What was it?”

“It’s… Zan Partizanne, Mr. Hyness.”

“Z-Zan… Zan Par… Hmm… That is quite difficult to say…” He shrugged his shoulders. “Oh well—I am sure I will remember it properly later. So, Ms. Flamberge, are you willing?”

“Am I willing? You bet your butt I am!” Flamberge grinned wildly. “You helped me out when I needed it most—and my sister, and I don’t think she’s wrong! If you can find Zan… then count me in!”


[Ribbon]

Dimension I – Second Hero Trial

“To your left, Dee!” I frantically shouted, and he quickly dove out of the way of an incoming ball of Waddle Dees—which was yikes! They’re crazy!—before they could stomp him flat. Rushing quickly past the rolling-away ball of uncomfortableness, he ran and presumably broke a nearby box. “Okay!” his voice cried, the chime of another Friend Heart echoing through, “that’s another heart collected!” From his current position, he turned around and asked, “H-Hey, j-just to make sure… how’s everyone doing?”

“We’re all good here, Dee!” Kirby answered, at the same time Marx sarcastically replied, “We’re half-dead, thanks for asking!”

“Don’t be like that, Marx!” Addie chastised the jester, paintbrush still in hand. “C’mon, we haven’t been that battered by this place yet! I can still paint, after all!”

“Yeah!” I chimed in, fluttering close to my best friend, a determined look on my face. “We’re only just starting out, after all! Cheer up! Dee’s doing the best he can!”

Marx did his best impression of a casual shrug with his rainbow-crusted wings. It seemed more smug than anything else. “Hey, I’m just stating my opinion, Ribs,” he defended himself. “I’m sure some people in the audience,” he directed a claw toward the rest of our friends, “share it as well! Go on! Lend me a hand here! I’ll take anyone!”

I looked at everyone else.

“Eh, I’ll have to disagree with you, mate,” Rick said. “I’m still feelin’ chipper!”

“So long as I still have the power to bash our foes’ feathers in, I’ll be fine!” Coo gave his own answer.

“I like tomatoes,” Gooey randomly stated. Uhh, good for you, Gooey?

“If you’re tired already, I can call in a miniature Lor for you guys to ride,” Magolor suggested.

“H-Hmph,” Susie huffed, “we—we won’t be needing that contraption. Anytime soon. E-Especially not me. That’s a fact. Yes.” …who’s she trying to convince? Herself? I… don’t really think that’s working.

Addie and I shared an amused look. Yeah, none of this is really surprising.

Marx pouted a Kokichi-level pout. Methinks he’s been hanging out with him too long. “You guys are mean… No one wants to support me? That’s just disappointing!”

“Well, you are you,” I offered – and hey, it was true enough. “You’re not exactly the most… respectful guy out there,” understatement of the century, “and keeping you and Kokichi away from Maki can be a real chore.”

“Hey, hey, hey—it’s her fault for being so stuck-up all the time!” the jester dismissed, a classic beam on his face. “Her and Darky need pick-me-ups all the time, you see – and plenty of other people, too – so what’s wrong with me dealing with ‘em? It’s a healthy, symbiotic relationship! Even if they don’t want to admit it!”

…I’m not even going to begin to go into the reasons why that statement is just plain wrong.

(“I’m, uhh… not sure if that’s right,” Kine muttered, “considering how explosive things tend to get…”

“Pick-me-ups? I want a pick-me-up,” Gooey drooled. “What’s it like? Is it tasty?”)

I smiled and sighed. “I can’t dissuade you, can I?” That’s Marx in a nutshell.

“You know him,” Addie said. “The only thing that moves his heart is food.” (“It’s true!”)

“Do you think he should participate in the next Gourmet Race, then?” I wondered. “Sure, the last one with two Kirbies and two Dededes was nice – but a change of pace is always nice!” I glanced at our grinning jester. “What do you say, Marx? Sound neat?”

“Mmm…” he hummed contemplatively. “Mayyyyybeeeee… I suppose if I do, I can put my focus on other targets for a while… There’s plenty of maids and Waddle Dees in the vast ocean, after all!”

…note to self: warn Kirumi about that.

“Close enough, I guess!” Addie lightheartedly shrugged. “I’ll be ready to draw a lot of food, then.”

“…who and what are you people talking about?” Susie asked us. “Did your planet experience a baby boom while I wasn’t looking?”

I folded my arms and glared at her. “Th-That’s none of your business,” I replied.

She scoffed at my response, though she was still visibly shivering a little. “Suit yourself.”

You know, all of this really takes me back. It’s been over eighteen years since the hunt for the Crystal Shards—eighteen years since the day I first met Kirby, Dee, Addie, and Dedede—and in that time, a whole lotta things have happened; some pretty awesome, some pretty tense, and some pretty… out there, even by our increasingly worrisome ‘wow-this-stuff-barely-phases-us-anymore’ standards. I’d put the Ultimates in the latter category if they all weren’t practically something else entirely, beyond even that. (I’d give special attention to all the girls, though. Tenko, Miu, Angie, you—you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have more girls—I just wonder how Kaede can keep everyone together.)

It really brings me back… even though we had only just met with me falling onto him amidst a meteor shower of Crystal Shards, Kirby was happy to help me out and hunt for all the rest. You wouldn’t think he’s a lot, if you only take one glance at him, but he really is a lot – with his strength and his happiness and his propensity to make friends out of anything and anyone he sees, I don’t think this galaxy would be the same if he weren’t here. I’m proud to have him as our makeshift leader.

Our little adventure brought me to the rest of my dearest, closest friends: Bandana Dee, the kind and loyal ally who would fight to protect us all; Addie, the artful adventurer who I’ll dance with forever; and King Dedede, the strong king that won’t ever give up, not for anything. Without them, I wouldn’t have my planet—and they and my queen would still be lost to darkness. Everyone else here is a companion who I’ll never regret meeting, too—be it Gooey or Kine or Meta Knight.

…and most of all, I’m really glad to be able to call Addie my best friend.

Though Addie and I haven’t gone through as many adventures as our pink and puffy Star Ally, we’ve seen enough from both of our major journeys together—and all the stuff that happened in-between—to really get accustomed to things on Planet Pop Star. And you know what? I don’t really mind it! It’s fun, being with my friends and experiencing everything with them, no matter how chaotic things get – and together, we’ll fight to keep that still here. Even if we’re facing a far larger threat than almost anything we’ve ever seen before, that won’t be any problem for us!

And despite what Magolor’s said and all, this whole adventure hasn’t been too difficult yet! …well, in his defense, there’s still a lot waiting for us; and if the True Arena has shown us anything, it’s that things can often be a lot more formidable than they appear. If there’s any bright side though… at least we don’t have to sit on the sidelines again! That was just awful!

…then again, something like this probably will result in another True Arena, based on what Kirby and Dedede have told us—and it’ll like be even harder this time…

…e-erm—right! How ‘bout we get back to other things? L-Like—getting a move on! Im-Important stuff like that!

We’ll be fine. Maybe there won’t even be a True Arena for this! Like Kirby would say—I gotta stay positive!

“Alright, guys!” Dee called out to us. We paused our conversation and turned to him, watching as he quickly dropped from his platform before another mass of Waddle Dees could squash him. “Let’s head down! I think there’ll be more Friend Hearts this way!”

“We’re coming!” I flew in after him, to give him an extra pair of eyes should he need it – and, timing their movements in rhythm with the incoming Waddle Dee balls, everyone else began follow… kinda slowly. (“Why are there so many of these commoners!?” Dark Meta scowled. “And what kind of sorcery do they wield, to do this so much!?”)

From what I could see, there were loads more Waddle Dees still ahead—dozens upon dozens of them! “Whoa,” I breathed, “there’s so many of them! Do—Do they all live here…?”

Addie, quickly jumping to my side, looked just as bewildered as I was. “It—It would take me days to draw out so many Dees!” she stated. “What the heck is this place…!?”

I’ve never seen so many in one place before, not even at Dedede’s place! The sheer amount of Dees here can’t ever compare to the number of fairies back at Ripple Star, either. And, of course, there were more Waddle Dees clumped up in those weird boulder formations, falling from the sky and bouncing off the golden ground.

I wonder… are they gathered like that of their own free will? Or… are they being forced to because of whatever has affected this weird dimension?

“I don’t know…” said friend answered. “B-But—if—if they’re gonna get in our way… th-then—we c-can’t hesitate in pushing forward! Th-They’ll understand!—I think…”

Just as he said that, a wave of his similarly-appearing not-friends swarmed in up ahead—which I alerted the rest of us to by shouting, “S-Speaking of which…! More Waddle Dees at three o’clock! And they’ve got lots of spears! …on fire!” Which, uh… probably has something to the fact that there’s a Burning Leo in the middle of them.

…wait, I thought only we could do Friend Combo stuff like that!

No fair! Stop stealing Kirby’s shticks, you guys! He did it first, literally years before you! (Or so I’m told, anyway…)

“Wow, spears on fire?” Marx’s voice trickled in from behind. His head poked out from behind Addie’s. “Looks like the action’s finally picking up! Neat! Where do I sign up?”

He was promptly interrupted by a fire-tipped spear being flown our way. H-Holy crap! Him, Addie, and I narrowly managed to dodge it—and it traveled pretty far, since I could hear Taranza and Kine exclaim their own startled yelps. The Dees sent another one at us for good measure, and that sent us eliciting a proper reaction. “Wh-What the heck!?” I exclaimed, my face growing panicked. “That—That just came out of nowhere!” Most enemies don’t just throw their weapons like that immediately upon meeting us!

“That’s not right!” Addie huffed. “I get we’re kinda intruding on their space, but—sheesh! They could at least be a little more kind!”

“Trying to ambush us, eh?” Daroach walked up to the front lines, with claws on his fancy red hat and a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Now that’s just unacceptable. It seems we’ll need to teach these miscreants—” (Pfft! Funny, how it’s he who’s saying that…) “—a valuable lesson in manners, don’t you agree?”

“As if we could do anything else,” Dark Meta snorted, his mirror sword already by his side. “I do not find myself in the habit of allowing such slights against my comrades like this. Though they may not know it…” He glared violently at the group. “…they have made a thoroughly large mistake.”

“I guess it’s our job to teach ‘em both facts, then!” Addie grinned. She seemed itching to whip out her canvas and make some magic happen – and I have to admit, I wanted to join her in doing the same! She raised her paintbrush—“And we’ll do it in style as well!”

“Yeah!” I flew up and down in joy, whipping out my trusty Crystal Shard gun for the incoming battle. “They won’t know what’ll hit ‘em when we stand united! Together, we’ll show ‘em what we can do!”

“Pushing on through ‘til the battle’s won, huh? Well, don’t mind if I join in, too!” Marx floated by us, his crystal wings still spread out like a bird. “I’d be a terrible friend if I didn’t join in!” (Dark Meta grumbled the opposite thought, as expected.) He sprouted a ball beneath him, lit on fire much like the tips of his jester hat. “The one with the smallest kill count gets to help me graffiti the Lor!” He rushed on in while we were still comprehending his statement.

“G-G-Graffiti the L-Lor!?” I stammered out, Addie and I sharing an alarmed look with each other. “H-H-Hold up!”

(And in the background… “S-So, u-uhh… you guys are g-gonna just—fight ‘em, r-right? Th-Then—I’ll go on ahead a little, s-see what Friend Hearts I can find! Th-That’ll be okay!”)

And so, in the service of not screwing over Magolor, us five Star Allies moved to fighting off the brigade of Sizzle Spear Dees (plus that one Burning Leo). They, uh, were surprisingly very agile! Their skill level almost reminded me of the guards back home on Ripple Star—just ‘cause we’re smaller than most people doesn’t mean we’re not good at fighting! …w-well, I’m not good at fighting myself, b-but—you get the idea!

Luckily for me and Addie, we were good with combination attacks! The two of us spun around in a Fairy Dance, knocking back several Dees before they could strike us. I followed it up with several shots from my gun—Pew, pew, pew!—while Addie brought out her canvas and started painting a nice ‘lil Ice Dragon—and before too long, we were wreaking havoc together, putting out every one of these guys’ flames with our creation’s ice powers!

“Wahoo!” I cheered, pumping my fist up in the air. “I think I’ve counted five down! We’ll win this competition for sure!”

“You’ve got that right, Ribbon!” Addie agreed. “Nothing can stop us now—not even Another Dimension!”

“You’re doing rather fine, I see,” I heard Daroach’s voice flutter from close on by. His little staff was doing a good job firing Star Bullets all about him, blasting away at the Dees – and he looked about as natural doing it as he probably would on a ballroom. Ooh, now I want to see him dance! “I’m afraid it won’t be enough for you, though. As you can see…” Storo—the big blue mouse guy—promptly jumped in and smashed a fair few foes himself. The rest of the Squeak Squad—sometimes I envy Daroach’s ability to teleport his guys—were pretty close behind. “…my crew’s got things well in hand.”

“Hmph.” Dark Meta’s grunted in a—well, familiar disgruntled manner, followed by more Dees flying away (why are there so many of them?) from his direction. “While you rely on your fellow troops to win this competition, I merely need my own skills. Which are very formidable, I must say.” Aww—the way he’s trying to make himself look big… It’s really endearing! “These fools have no idea what is ahead.”

“Eh, who needs weapons?” Cue several beach balls – explosion-inducing, mind you – descending from the sky and causing havoc. Marx let out one of his signature chortles as he flew on in. His noticeably cross-eyed expression probably would’ve been creepy if we hadn’t seen it before about a million times already. “I’ve got balls! Balls balls balls balls balls! Look at all them balls!”

Despite myself, I giggled while Dark Meta groaned. It’s juvenile, but… c’mon! It’s Marx! He’s got some level of charm to him.

Addie seemed in a similar mood. She joked, “That all you got? I can paint us a cannon full of beach balls!” She promptly re-summoned her canvas and proceeded to do just that. It materialized quickly enough and fired at enemy Dees without impunity. “Ye-ah!” she whooped. “Look at ‘em soar!”

“You go, Addie!” I cheered alongside her. “We’re unstoppable!”

“Remarkably fancy, you two,” Daroach praised. He held his magic scepter high, energy visibly welling up at its tip. “However… I’ve got something just as impressive up my sleeve. Us Squeaks can outmatch you just fine.” Oh, is that a challenge?

Our mirror knight bristled challengingly. “Not if I perform that task first,” he declared, shifting into a ready-to-attack stance.

“Hey, don’t go counting us out now!” I piped up. “We’ve got plenty more where that came from!” Like Kracko, or that weird ninja dude, or Mr. Shine and Mr. Bright!

“Yep! We’ll win this competition for sure!” Addie exclaimed, raising her fist to the sky. “Just watch us! We’re gonna paint a masterpiece before your eyes!”

Marx, Dark Meta Knight, and Daroach… If you had asked me a few years ago whether or not these three guys would become some of our best, I would’ve said no—partially because two of them were dead at the time. Until last March, I thought our Status Quo would remain the same forever, like it always had for the most part. Dream Land, despite all of the crazy adventures that keep happening, is a rather quiet place, and we usually don’t get any huge shake-ups to our norm. But in the end… I’m really glad that they’re here with us now.

They’ve got their own quirks like the rest of us, sure: Marx is a trickster of epic proportions, loving nothing more than to stir up trouble with the more serious of us – though it’s clear he’s harboring some trauma from his stint as a Soul Boss. Dark Meta Knight’s an ultra-serious ‘edgy’ warrior, somehow beating out Meta Knight for that position, but his social skills can leave, uhh… something to be desired. (He tries his best, at least!) And Daroach is something of a treasure hunter – dance-y and fancy and with a crowd of nice mouseys, he’s like the cool uncle that helps hold us all together like glue. Not to mention all his bombs and scepters and stuff!

I can’t imagine life without them now, especially after us five’s solo stint back across the Gamble Galaxy. (Artful Adventurers we were, and artistically awesomely we ventured!) Like Kirby would say, friendship can go quite a long way when you give it a chance. And while some of us would never really admit it, I think they feel exactly the same way.

So—just you wait, Jambandra Cult. You may have an army, and three Mage-Sisters who are pretty dang powerful—but we’ve got the power of friendship on our side! There’s no way you’ll be ever to top that, not by a long shot!

Watch us fly onward, and become a shining star!

Dark Meta’s eyes glistened with entertainment. “Oh, is that true?” I could tell he was as ready to compete as we were. “We shall see about that…”

And though a bunch more Waddle Dees started to approach us from up ahead, we didn’t hesitate. They may be numerous – way more numerous than they really should be – but we could definitely handle them without any huge problems! So, here—we—go—!

“Eh, bored now.” And then Marx split himself and sucked in a large number of Dees into a black hole.

“What!?” I shouted. “H-Hey, you can’t do that!”

“Come on, Marx, play fair—at least, a little!”

“Th-That cheating clown…! Make this contest a jest, will he…!?”

“I see winning will be more difficult than expected… Well, that’s a challenge I’ll be glad to overcome.”

“Speak for yourself…!” I groaned.


[N/A]

Not too far away from Team Adeleine & Ribbon…

“Well, that looks stable,” Kirby sarcastically remarked, staring at the platform held up only by two square boulders suspended in the air. “Methinks we’ll only get one chance at whatever this leads to.”

Meta Knight and King Dedede were situated closer to the cannon beneath the blocks, analyzing it with curiosity. “Where’s the end of the rope, though?” the king asked, noting how the rope extending from the cannon seemed to head into the nearby wall instead of sticking out in the open. “We can’t exactly activate this cannon without lighting it – these ropes are otherwise just too fireproof.”

“Perhaps there is an alternate mechanism to it,” Meta Knight suggested. “Not all cannons work the same way; it would not surprise me if Another Dimension held itself to the same standard.”

What wonderful standards, Kirby internally drawled.                          

“Could we initiate the cannon blast ourselves, though?” Magolor brought his own two cents, a floating hand casually throwing a Gem Apple up and down. “It’s not like we have a shortage of fire to go around.”

Susie rejected that idea immediately: “This model will not work that way, unfortunately,” she stated. “Many cannons around the Gamble Galaxy are like this. Seeing as there appears to be no immediate way to use it effectively, I elect we should get a ‘move on,’ as they say.”

“We can’t do that,” Kirby denied. “This thing might bring us to some more Friend Hearts – and instinct tells me we’re definitely going to need as many of them as we can bring.” Several adventures worth of collectibles told him that much. (Though it did lead to the question of how boss arenas can be blocked behind them…) “We can’t leave without them. Trust me on that.”

“You do realize this may be like the Code Cubes, Pinky? You didn’t need all of them on your adventure, surely.”

(“And the Sun Stones!” Taranza chimed in from a little farther away.)

“I’m not taking any risks. Things’ll be different this time. I know it.”

Susie threw her hands up in the air. “Fine, whatever you say.” It helped that, this being Another Dimension—the bane of her existence—a part of her was very much feeling the same way. “Then how do we activate this cannon? And don’t tell me ‘the power of friendship’ or other unsubstantiated nonsense like that.”

“Dee might have an answer.” The puffball glanced toward Bandana Dee, who was noticeably poking at the nearby wall where the rope had gone into. The temporary leader raised a fist and knocked at it. “H-Hmm…” he was muttering. “M-Maybe…” And then he raised his spear and swung into it—and somehow, the spear went right through the solid matter.

A light bulb lit up in his mind. “G-Guys!” he called out, hopping up and down in excitement. “I—I think th-the end of the rope’s i-in the wall! S-Since I think our weapons c-can go through it… we—we might be a-able to light it from there!”

The Haltmann CEO looked weirded out. “…are you joking?” she asked.

Kirby seemed unphased. “I’ll take it!” he happily said.

“Pass-through walls?” Dedede closed his eyes and rubbed the side of his head. “I’d say I’m surprised, but… I’d be kinda lying, at this point.”

“Whatever the case may be, that is certainly excellent news,” Meta Knight said. “Now all we need is the Sizzle element.”

Magolor tossed his Gem Apple away. “Can do!” he proclaimed. “Give me the signal, and I’ll get the flames ready!”


It was decided then that not everyone should enter the cannon – it wasn’t all too big, and some of the Star Allies needed to remain so they could to catch up with Adeleine and her crew. Thus, Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, Bandana Dee, Magolor, and Susie were shot forth to the requisite ‘bonus area’, while Rick, Kine, Coo, Gooey, and Taranza waited for them to return.

Thanks to cartoon logic, the cannon ballooned enough—just barely—to fit the six Star Allies in and summarily blast them off at full speed. This, of course, did not mean it was at all comfortable: they were clumped up into a single ball much like the Waddle Dees from before, which made things exceedingly awkward.

Well, for Magolor and Susie, anyway.

(“How do you do this all the time?” the mage asked. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so… clustered in my life.”

The core Star Allies’ eyes looked briefly at each other before collectively replying, “Eh, you get used to it.”

A grunt. “You know, you people continuously surprise me with your cooperative nature, I swear…”)

Eventually though, the collective group slammed into a wall—and promptly separated onto the ground. “Well, that was fun enough!” Kirby stated happily. “I almost wish that was a Friend Wheel instead.”

“I don’t,” Susie groaned, brushing off the dust on her cultured suit. “I hope we never have to do something as uncivilized as that again.”

Good luck with that, Meta Knight internally snorted. I predict we’ll be going through all our Friend Formations before the day’s done.

Bandana Dee, like everyone else, soon got off the floor—Man, the floor feels… transcendently warm and cold? he thought. Is—Is that actually a th-thing?—and noticed something peculiar just up ahead: a switch, sitting alone and seemingly supported by nothing. There also happened to be a translucent wall behind it (presumably, another one-way weapon one) with its own switch inside. W-Well, if that’s not something to check out, th-then I don’t know what is!

The temporary leader wisely elected to ignore the first switch in favor of seeing whatever the second one within the wall did. This attracted the attention of the other five Star Allies, naturally, with Dedede being the first to pipe up and say, “Hey, what’s with the switch in the wall?”

“I d-dunno,” Bandana Dee replied, “b-but—I’m—I’m gonna find out!”

As the other three core members stood by his side, he jammed his spear into the wall—and then something rumbled from behind them. Turning around, the four saw a patch of the ground in front of them descending downward, much like an elevator. Experimentally, Dee hit it again, and the floor moved back up.

Meta Knight hummed. “Intriguing,” he stated.

“Why would the switch need to be all the way over here, though?” Kirby wondered. “There’s no reason why the other switch can’t be the activator, too…” Speaking of which…

Another click echoed—but it wasn’t from the wall switch. The four Star Allies blinked, and turned to look at the other switch they were talking about… and noticed Magolor had accidentally wandered over it. The wizard looked below him for a moment, before looking back up. “…whoops?” he shrugged.

Susie facepalmed.

This promptly resulted in—close to a set of more unbreakable stones at the other end of the room—another ball of Waddle Dees dropping in, which proceeded to start rolling toward the gang at an unprecedented speed. And, of course, Magolor and Susie were closest to it.

You have got to be kidding me, Kirby deadpanned as he watched the two of them—with Susie suiting up—try to hold back the glorified tumbleweed from getting any closer. More Dees? Does this place have a fetish for them or something?

Under his breath, Dedede muttered, “I’m-a thinking my Dees should learn some new formations now. I’m pretty sure they can pull off the Friend Wheel just fine…”

“Ugh…” Susie grunted. “Wh-What is with these cretins’ combined mass…!?” Her Business Suit was visibly struggling to push the Dees away, and Magolor wasn’t having any better luck (he didn’t have the benefit of a bulky mech, after all). “You would think that they’d be nothing more than worthless guards, but…!”

“That’s—That’s just… the nature… of this place,” Magolor said. “It can do… a lot of things… you wouldn’t expect…!”

“O-Oh no! I—I have to h-help them, somehow!” Bandana Dee exclaimed. Acting quickly, he jammed his spear into the wall switch again. To the other two, he shouted, “Guys! Jump over here! The f-floor’s down; it should draw the other Dees down!”

“W-Well, okay, if you say so!” As fast as they could, the mage and the CEO broke away and made a mad dash over the newly created pit—Meta Knight half-wondered how that thing she called a ‘suit’ could jump around like that—and the ball of Dees soon dropped into it and stopped troubling them.

Magolor wiped his forehead. “Phew!” he exclaimed. “That was close!”

“Too close,” Susie grumbled.

Not close enough, Meta Knight thought.

“At—At least e-everybody’s okay, th-then!” Bandana Dee stated, closing his eyes in delight. “Wh-What now, though…?”

“Hmm…” Kirby puffed up and slowly descending down the open pathway, an eyebrow briefly raised when he didn’t see anything apart from the bunch of Dees collapsing away. Of course, that didn’t last long when another mass of them dropped downward, rolling in the opposite direction. That gave the puffball an idea.

He moved back up, exhaled, and said, “Hey, Dee! Hit that switch one more time, will ya?”

“Somethin’ coming, Kirby?” Dedede asked.

“You could say that.” If he was right, and there were collectibles here (and why wouldn’t there be)…

“O-Okay!” The bandana-totting assistant hit the switch one last time—and as the ground rose back up, a crowd of groans going out at the sight of yet another bunch of Dees. “Do they ever end?” Susie rhetorically asked.

This one wasn’t endangering them, luckily – and before they knew it, it had crashed into the stone blocks at the end of the corridor, revealing three shiny Friend Hearts (and two Puzzle Pieces) sitting out right in the open. “Bingo,” Kirby grinned. Just what we needed.

“W-Wow!” Bandana Dee seemed awed. “They—They were in there? We—We could’ve totally missed them, if I h-hadn’t gotten the platform b-back up…!”

“…so this is how things are going to be,” Meta Knight mused, a hand beneath where his chin would be. “We won’t be having an easy ride this time around, I see.”

“Eh, we can handle it!” Dedede confidently stated. “We’re not alone on this venture, after all.”

“Joy,” Susie deadpanned.


Dimension I – Third Hero Trial

With his hammer sparkling with electricity and Bandana Dee perched safely on his back (as the little guy had gotten somewhat tired), King Dedede charged forward with his fellow Star Allies behind him, bashing away at any poor Floaty or wooden crate in his way. “Remember your team formations, everyone!” he shouted. “Don’t show ‘em any mercy!”

“Y-Yeah! S-Stay strong, everybody!” Dee cheered.

“Doing our best on that front,” Magolor replied, Magic Spheres homing in on any poor schmuck trying to close in. Beside him, Rick and Gooey were doing their best to assist, with the former breathing out a volley of flames and the latter shooting bolts in his Mock Matter form. It was something of a spectacle to behold. “Shame we have to fight the equivalent of an army to do that, though!”

“Well mate, that’s life,” Rick remarked, spinning around and literally needling a few more foes.

Gooey would’ve had a response (maybe), but he was too busy drooling.

Approaching what appeared to be a fairly long ladder trek, Rick whistled for his friends. “Hey, Coo—come give us a lift, will ya?”

“I’m on it, I’m on it!” The cranky owl swooped down, grabbed Rick—and Kine, who was nearby—and started flapping his way upward. Magolor (and Gooey) followed, the wizard utilizing his ability to hover efficiently.

“So,” he casually conversed, “how have you guys been? You know, apart from the apocalypse happening.”

“We’ve been better,” Kine verbally shrugged. “I know I would’ve preferred more water in this place.”

“I think it’s pretty,” Gooey relayed his thoughts. “The world reminds me of a rainbow, if it was the opposite way around. That’s what it’s like.”

“I think there needs to be less blinding colors first!” Coo complained. “Just look at this place! It’s so bright, you can barely make anything out from the ground! That’s a problem with half of the places we visit—that ship from earlier included, even!”

I should try to install a night mode for the Lor then, the mage mused. She might appreciate it—Coo too, maybe, if what he’s saying isn’t just exhaustion.

“Really?” Rick questioned. “I don’t think there’s anythin’ wrong with it. Don’t you think there’s a bit of a beauty to it?”

“Yeah—if you have no appreciation for art at all. I prefer a patch of darkness over me myself, you hear? Good to sleep to! And also doesn’t make any weird noises when I’m not looking!”

Magolor chuckled. “Just a regular ‘ol night owl, aren’t you?”

“Well, of course!” Coo grumped as the group moved from the ladder segment and down a drop, the pilot firing off a few cutter projectiles to ward away a nearby Floaty the Cell Core. “I live in a Great Forest, perch on trees, and—well, I’m an owl. What did you expect, an eagle? A pigeon, even?”

“Whoa, don’t get your feathers all up in a tinny, now!” Rick laughed. “We’re not racking off your artistic eye or anythin’!”

“It’s okay,” Gooey innocently said. “I’m sure there are others who appreciate your interests. You don’t have to be alone in the world.” He quickly spewed a shot of lightning out before continuing, “Kirby says age doesn’t mean anything sometimes, so it should apply to you, too.”

“A-A-Age!?” the bird squawked. “Are—Are you calling me old!?”

Kine sighed. “Oh boy… He’s rifled up now. This won’t be good.”

“Why?” Magolor blinked. “What’s the worst that can happen?”

“Oh, you’re in for it now, you little—!”


Another door, another challenge, Dedede thought, hammer still at the ready. Let’s do this.

He slammed and zapped the switch block in front of him and he announced aloud, “Okay, Star Allies.” He took a deep breath. “Get ready for whatever’s ahead—”

Just as the door finished opening, two curling stones—with a familiar mage on top of one of them, practically screaming his lungs off (I didn’t know Magolor’s voice could go that high, his mind idly commented)—burst in and bounced and slammed all about the room, hitting all the conveniently placed wooden posts on the walls and ceiling, and then sliding into the newly created corridors—and, wouldn’t you know it, three ‘Friend Heart collected!’ jingles echoed thereafter.

“Ha!” Coo’s voice shouted. “How do you like that, huh!?”

This was followed by a long-suffering groan from Kine.

A brief silence took place within the room as the eleven other Star Allies attempted to register the chaos that had just occurred. “Wh-What just happened!?” Bandana Dee squeaked. No one really had a coherent answer.

…they did have a coherent response, though. “Woo! Ten outta ten throw!” Marx whooped, jumping up and down on his beach ball. “Do it again, do it again! But better!”

“Yeah, yeah!” Ribbon agreed. “And include us this time! I wanna take a ride on Gooey, too!”

Kirby and Dedede traded brief glances with each other. “Well, I suppose that works too,” the king decided moments after.


“Up, down, and all around~” Kirby sang off-key, kicking away a Waddle Doo before he could come to close with his sparks. Said Doo seemed pained by more than just the hit. (Nobody ever claimed Kirby could sing.) “The fun just never ends, when these guys are abound~!”

“You can say that again!” Marx said, launching another explosive ball down from his place in the sky. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they want to get their butts beaten! Which is fine by me, of course!”

“What,” the puffster grinned, “you wanna get your spooks in?”

“You know me! Former villain, remember? Gotta indulge in a bit of that old bad guy spirit every now and then! And there’s never a better chance than now!” Immediately afterward, he made his familiar ‘Shoop da whoop!’ face and bawled out a bright white laser. The poor Poppy Bro. Jr. and his compatriots never saw it coming. “Like so!”

Kirby raised an eyebrow. “I see. I guess messing with everyone else isn’t enough?”

“Eh—sometimes, you just need more, y’know?” Marx shrugged. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re fine—but who doesn’t like some more chaos in their life? I don’t, that’s for sure!”

This was not at all a surprising statement, given that this was coming out of Marx’s mouth—but it still made Kirby smile. He may not readily admit it, but he’s really integrated well with us. Who would’ve thought that, once upon a time, he tried to take over Pop Star? Even Meta Knight had accepted his presence… kinda, sorta. (There was some more work to be done in the trust department, in that regard.)

There’s always room for a second chance. It doesn’t matter who it is, or what they’ve done, to an extent—if they can be a friend, I’ll always strive to get them there.

…Well, enough thinking. As Marx’s friend of sorts, I think it’s only right that we liven things up a little before we finish things up here.

“In that case… how ‘bout we do a team-up attack? Just you and me… and these guys over here, I guess.”

“Hey, hey, hey—I like the way you think, Kirby!”

Within seconds, Kirby had hopped upon the former antagonist’s back, and the two began glowing white, the sound of something charging reaching every enemy’s ears. They collectively gulped, the duo flashing a bright smile at them as their visions were promptly ‘brightened up’—

“SUPERSTAR FRIENDSHIP BEAM, GO!”


[Coo]

Dimension I – Fourth Hero Trial

“Go, go, go, Coo, don’t stop!” Rick said.

“What do you think I’m trying to do!?” I replied, frustrated. “I don’t wanna get smashed as much as you two do!”

“Be careful,” Kine warned, “that ceiling seems to be getting closer and closer…”

Flapping my wings as much as I could, the three of us swerved through the obstacles in our way as I struggled to make our way past this descending tower. When I woke up today in the Great Forest, I was not expecting an endurance challenge like this! Where did all the easy adventure stuff from March go!? Does the universe suddenly have a vendetta against us or something!?

Bah, whatever! It’ll make the ensuing fight we have against these villains more satisfying in the end! If we can get that far, we’ll be good to go!

A veritable amount of chaos rained all around us, most of it created from all of our allies, slamming into all the Kabus and the weird shielded guys and whatnot—and maneuvering around everything was a bit of a struggle, considering how cramped this tower was. There was barely enough space to fit us all in, let alone the enemies!

Oh, and then another shield guardian came down from the sky right in front of us, because of course it did! Yeah, we can totally fit that in.

“Oh no, not another one!” Kine cried.

“Ugh, we don’t have time for this!” I grumbled. I spread out my wings and fired a barrage of cutter blades at him, cutting him to shreds before he could blink. There was no time to celebrate it, though; the ground was still vibrating and heading downward. I called out to our temporary leader, “Hey, Meta Knight! How much more do we have to go!?”

“Halfway!” he gruffly shouted back.

…well, crud!

“Looks like we’re in for the long haul, mates!” Rick informed us. He sniffed the air. “Hey… My nose ‘s telling me about a corker nearby!” His head turned to face a nearby alcove, appearing even smaller than the corridors we were in. “How ‘bout we handle this one ourselves?”

You know what? Sure, let’s do that! I’ve got my misgivings about everything’s that going on, don’t get me wrong – but I’m in the mood to relieve some stress! And at least this is something familiar!

…maybe too familiar, actually—the things we had to do for the Heart Stars still give me and the others nightmares—but I suppose I’ll have to take it!

If the world wants the show us a thing or two, then it’s only right that we do the same in turn! We’ve missed a pretty significant part of Kirby’s adventures, sure. I mean, before last March, we hadn’t had any significant journeys since the second Dark Matter invasion. But we’ve had our own fair share of tales, worthy of Dream Land’s sleepy-crazy reputation—so I’d say we’re more than prepared for anything that comes our way!

Maybe I should thank Kirby for this opportunity sometime; I’ve been itchin’ to show my stuff a little, you know? We weren’t just sidekicks during the Dark Matter invasions, and it’s about time we show everyone else that for themselves! We’ve got a whole crowd of people here, after all, and we’re gonna do our best to reach that coveted MVP spot!

Heh—you know, once upon a time, I would’ve just been content to just lay around in the Great Forest, doing nothing more but relaxing with Rick and Kine, and occasionally eating a good lunch with them. (What can we say, we Dream Landers love having a good meal to snack on!) I can’t say we’ve exactly hit that perfect kind of calm again since Kirby came around… and sure, the friends around me can get a little irritating sometimes when all you want to do is sleep in the branch of your favorite tree… but in the end, I can’t say I really regret how things turned out. There’s something… charming about having so many people, so many friends that I wouldn’t have met on my own.

…Kirby’s really got a unique hold over us, huh? Barging in one day and somehow managing to make friends with each and every person, be them a good-natured person or a stereotypical villain, being all bright and happy despite whatever circumstances we find ourselves in—I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated it fully… though part of that might be because I can get rather preoccupied on the targets of my ire, admittedly. That’s a problem I’ve always had—but it’s not like it’s ever really steered me wrong before, so whatever! The point is, Kirby’s someone really special, and having him here ain’t a bad thing!

…wait, what was I doing again?

Oh, right—collectible business!

“That’s fine by me!” I replied to Rick. “I’m not gonna pass this chance now! And on the off chance there’s an enemy waiting ahead… then all the better we trash ‘em into chunks of curry!”

“If the two of you are going for it, then I’m hopping in too,” Kine added in his two cents. “We’re a trio, after all—and the more Friend Hearts we have, the better, I suppose. We should hurry up and get a move on.”

Without another word—aside from me shouting to Meta Knight, “Heading up to explore this alcove!” (because he’s a bit of an orderly person)—the three of us soared into the tiny corridor. As we dropped through, there were three things in the immediate vicinity: two Friend Hearts—“Heh heh, looks like my intuition was right!” Rick bragged—and, of course, another one of those shielded folks. Who was on fire, too, because why wouldn’t he be?

“There also happens to be a Shielder here, in case you didn’t catch it,” I deadpanned. “And he’s sizzling.” And he didn’t particularly looked pleased by our presence, mind you.

“Well then,” Kine said, “I guess that means we should give him a splash, shouldn’t we?”

“You got that right!” I grinned. “C’mon, you two—let’s make this quick!”


[Kine]

If you were to ask anyone about me—heck, if you were to ask me about myself—we’d all describe me as being a simple guy. Not like Gooey, of course, I don’t think anyone’s as simpleminded as he can get – I’m just a simple fish with simple desires.

I’m not the most skilled in combat, nor am I really the guy to ask for platforming challenges. I can’t sniff out the exact locations of collectibles, and often times I find it difficult to parse the events going about our adventures. But that doesn’t mean I won’t give it my best shot anyway – ‘cause honestly, how could I not when everyone else is doing the same?

We’re all fighting in our own way, dashing across the largest distance we can go under our own power, united under one banner; swimming through the depths of the ocean to reach that one treasure we’re all seeking. We seem so different, so impossible to fit together, and yet here we are. Sixteen Star Allies, doing our best to save what we hold dear.

And to nobody’s surprise, this whole dimension is doing its best to counteract our desires in whatever way it can.

Hordes of enemies atop ladders and platforms – that type of thing is something we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few months. That in itself wasn’t the major problem: it was them plus Chef Kawasaki EX here to ruin our day. And this monochromatic chef was a fair doozy to deal with this time.

As everyone else dealt with the crowd on the lower platforms, Rick, Coo, and I—with Taranza accompanying us—were clashing with Kawasaki as he threw a crazy amount of food at us, in an attempt to… start a food fight, I dunno.

“Wh-What the h-heck is this guy!?” Taranza panicked, sprouting a Dreamstalk to block the array of misused lunch. “Wh-Who has th-that much food to s-spill!?”

As I shot a crescent laser from my mouth at the chef—yes, I can actually do that—I replied, “This guy, apparently. Who knows what he’s been doing before we came here?” Surely it couldn’t be doing anything productive.

Close by, Rick transformed into a boulder and didn’t hesitate to ram into Kawasaki’s face. This got the guy to stop wasting food, which I’m sure Kirby would appreciate it. “C’mon, mates, don’t hold back!” he stated as he detransformed. “This chipper fellow definitely won’t do the same for us!”

“If only things were so easy,” Coo lamented. He shook his head. “Alright, everybody—let’s get our act together!” With the three of us Animal Buddies united as one, we swished and slashed at our foe, utilizing our vast arsenal against his mighty cooking prowess. I say we make a mighty fine team, if I do say so myself – and Taranza managed to fit in well with our fighting style, getting a few of his own hits in with his String Shots. He certainly can fight, though it’s evident his timid nature holds him back a little. (I wonder if something happened to him before.)

Kawasaki tried a different strategy, taking out his ladle and using it like a whip. I don’t think that’s at all how cooking tools work, but nevertheless, it meant we had to do some more dodging – a bit tricky for a person of my species, but I’ll survive. I don’t fancy becoming fried fish or canned tuna, thank you very much.

And bad fried fish, at that; I’ve seen the skills of two different Chef Kawasakis before, in two very different worlds. I have no desire to see where this one’s abilities fall on that spectrum.

An idea then struck me. “Hey, Taranza,” I called out to the spider, “can your Web Hold latch on to objects?”

He jolted, startled. “O-O-Oh! Y-Yes,” he confirmed. “I—I can do that. Wh-Why do you ask, K-Kine?”

Just what we needed. “I’ve got an idea,” I told him. “Grab his ladle and hold on to it as hard as you can! Give us a good opening!”

“G-Gotcha!” He held up a hand and summoned the electro web attached by a string—and as fast as he could do it, he made it ‘eat’ Kawasaki’s ladle. The chef seemed surprised by our strategy, and valiantly tried to free his tool from Taranza’s clutches. Luckily, he wasn’t having any of that—and neither were we.

“Enemy’s distracted,” I observed aloud. “Rick, Coo – you two ready?”

“Ready when you are, mate!”

“Pfft—do you even have to ask, Kine?”

“Alright. On my mark, then: one, two… three!”

Fire, ice, and lightning rained down from the three of us, creating an elemental hailstorm that the mid-boss couldn’t escape from. It was beautiful, a work of art – and I know Coo would probably brag about having such a combo in front of the Mage-Sisters’ faces. Given that the chef was putting most of his attention to him and Taranza’s tug-of-war fight, he was forced to tank all of the hits – and suffice to say, he went down fairly quickly afterward. It made me smile.

I’ll say it again: I’m not the best fighter or adventurer. Don’t ever mistake me for having those traits. But it’s not like I can’t contribute to the journeys we go on, either. Call me useless, call me whatever you’d like – there’s a reason Kirby never ceases to have me around whenever he’s given the chance.

…it’s kinda funny, in a way, how everything comes back around to Kirby. I don’t think I would have ever gotten the courage to do any of these things now – making new friends, going on adventures, fighting a whole host of bad guys – if it wasn’t for him helping me gather it all up. Heck, if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have met my wife Mine as well. She’s the light of my life, the apple of my eye, in the same way that Rick has Pick as his special somebody. I think that’s something I’ll always thank Kirby for – though he shrugged it off as ‘just helping out a friend of mine’.

He’s really touched all our lives over on Planet Pop Star. I don’t think there’s a single person whose life he hasn’t affected in some capacity – and I could probably extend that statement all the way across the whole Gamble Galaxy, since I know he’s pretty ancient and whatnot. (Void Termina in March was partial proof of that.) We’ve really been blessed to have him here – and now, we have the opportunity to help pay him back for everything he’s done for us.

He’s not as alone as he used to be, when it was just him trekking back and forth across Dream Land. He’s got a virtual army by his side, and none of us are gonna let the opposing forces get through to him now.

Whatever the Jambandra Cult wants to do… they’ll have to go through us to achieve. And when we’re together like this… we’re utterly unstoppable.

I hope they know what they’ve gotten themselves into.

The barrage died down, and Chef Kawasaki’s unconscious body was all that was left. Taranza dropped his ladle and wiped some sweat from his forehead. “P-Phew! Th-That was intense!” he expressed.

“Eh, it’s no more intense than what we usually get up to,” Rick remarked. He walked over to Taranza and beamed. The arachnid seemed nervous under it. “You know, you were pretty good back there!” He patted him on the back – the little guy seems pretty prone to being startled, now that I think about it – continuing, “You’re like a natural with that magic – which is saying somethin’, ‘cause we’ve got plenty of naturals doin’ their thing here.”

“Y-You… You really think so?”

“It’s not if we think so – we know so!” Coo interjected, flapping his wings. “Any type of talent here is a good talent in my books!”

“You’ll do just fine,” I reassured the regent. “You deserve to be a Star Ally, don’t worry.” Anyone who’s a friend (or tentative friend) of Kirby will always fall under that category. Taranza won’t be any different. (Besides, he could certainly use the confidence boost.) “Just believe in yourself a little more, and I think you can go a long way. You get us?”

He blinked and blushed, before looking away and quietly whispering, “…I hear you. I’ll—I’ll try my b-best, then.”

Well… That’s one step forward, at least.


[N/A]

Dimension I – Fifth Hero Trial

“This is undignified,” Susie grumbled. “So unprofessional.”

“For once, I agree with you,” Meta Knight reluctantly added on.

Dark Meta Knight grunted an agreement of his own.

And Kirby… Kirby was all smiles and rainbows, as expected. “Oh come on, guys!” he said. “This isn’t that bad!”

The ‘this’ he was referring to was, of course, him and the others in a Friend Bridge formation, awkwardly grabbing onto either each other’s legs or the poles on both sides of the chasm they were suspended over. This was normally nothing special, but for the others, their ‘not-Kirby’ participants beside them was… awkward, to say the least.

“You can say that just fine,” Dark Meta Knight groused. “You’re friends with every peasant here. The three of us are… more nominally so.”

“You couldn’t have done this with Dedede and Bandana Dee?” Meta Knight was levying his own two cents. “You know well I’m much more comfortable with them in doing this.” My only solace, he thought, is that I don’t have to do this with Marx. That would be… simply compromising.

“Keep at it, Susie,” the CEO was muttering, “keep it up. Don’t let Pinky get to you. Remember your mission now…”

“Don’t be so complaining so much, now! In just a second, that Wonkee’ll drop down and we’ll be able to open the door!” The sounds of enemies spawning echoed from the platforms above. “Get ready—here he comes!”

“Hey…” Susie narrowed her eyes. “That doesn’t sound like one target appearing, that sounds like many—”

She didn’t get a chance to finish her statement before the weight of several Waddle Dees, big and small, descended down and started walking all over the bridged four. Another awkward silence began to play as they and the aforementioned Wonkee waddled on and on – and while bumping into each other and constantly reversing direction, too.

It should be noted that the Wonkee wasn’t getting anywhere near the locked door.

“…well, this is an unfortunate predicament,” Meta Knight deadpanned.

Dark Meta Knight struggled to keep himself from twitching. “This… This is… an unforgivable sin…” he grounded out. “Kirby—how may we… finish this task in an adequately speedy manner?”

Kirby brought his gaze past the pole he was hanging on to. There were columns of spikes both behind that one and the one behind him. “I think we’ve gotta carefully take out the Dees using the spikes! The Wonkee can’t get through with all of them in the way.”

Susie carefully contemplated the amount of Dees waddling over her—Note to self: wash business suit after I’m done with this—and the speed at which they were going. And then she considered the length of the ‘bridge’ she and her temporary teammates were making.

She made a disgruntled face. “…you three are lucky I’m in this for the long haul,” she quietly muttered. “Okay. Let’s get this done already.”


Dimension I – Forest Haven

At last, after a treacherous journey, the Star Allies had reached the end of the road – well, one road, to be more accurate. A golden road – without any enemies or obstacles – lay ahead, with only a collection of Copy Essences breaking up the empty path above the overhead platforms. In the background, gorgeous golden trees littered the sides, growing larger toward the end where the gate to the boss awaited.

Kirby beheld upon the way with a neutral expression, taking in the scenery with interest, a fiery hat burning atop his head. “Well, guys,” he said to the crowd behind him, “here we are. Our first real boss fight.” He looked back. “You guys all ready?”

Despite the challenges they had all faced, everyone else was mostly intact, aside from a few scrapes picked up along the way. And the one thing they all had in common was a determined expression hanging on their features, plus weapons at the ready. “Whatever’s coming up, we’re prepared to face it with you!” Adeleine replied.

“Yeah, we’re ready!” Ribbon agreed.

“Let’s hurry up and get this party started already!” Marx exclaimed. It seemed as if he—and all the other Star Allies—had adjusted well enough to the atmosphere of Another Dimension. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the real fun is just about to begin!”

Magolor scratched the back of his head. “W-Well, I wouldn’t say ‘fun’ myself… But I suppose if that’s how you want to see it, I won’t stop you.”

“W-W-Whoa…” Bandana Dee, meanwhile, was gazing out into the forest beyond. “I—I didn’t th-think there could be s-something so… b-b-beautiful here,” he voiced in awe. His feelings was mirrored by more than a few people in the hallway. “I-It’s… too bad w-we won’t get a ch-chance to appreciate it, th-though…”

…he’s right, Kirby thought. In another time, another place, I could see myself having a nice picnic here. It’s… really serene. It was honestly surprising how such an untouched paradise could even exist in a chaotic location such as Another Dimension, and it brought a nice sort of reprieve, right before they were to be dropped into yet another hellhole of pain. I can’t say I’ve really missed EX Bosses – but it’s not like I can send in complaints to NOVA and force him to change things. Aloud, he noted, “I kinda wish I brought a camera now. Something like this really deserves to be captured on film.” His cell phone… wouldn’t exactly cut it for this.

King Dedede nodded his approval. “I guess that means we better take it in while we can,” he stated. “After all, when we’re fighting, we’re gonna be a little too focused on trying not to die to look at it.”

The crowd of sixteen walked through the forest, Kirby momentarily stopping to grab Yo-Yo from the arrangement of Copy Essences—and also get Rick to apply the Sizzle element for him. Soon enough, the group had reached the boss gate at the end, decorated with those ornate shapes found throughout the dimension, seemingly towering over them in an intimidating manner. Kirby could practically feel the power emanating from it. It also smelled like apples, for some reason.

“So… our next foe at last awaits us,” Meta Knight said. Yellow eyes glared at the door, Galaxia practically itching to get a scratch in on it. “Let us show our strength and triumph over this trial. The sooner we get this done, the better off we’ll be in the long term.”

“I concur,” Daroach added. “We don’t have infinite time to spend on this mission, unfortunately. Or infinite energy, might I add.”

“And infinite mobility,” Kine muttered.

“I hear ya, I hear ya,” Kirby replied. He turned his head back toward the door. “Right. Here we go.” Showtime.

Without any further hesitation, the pink puffball put his hand on the knobs and pulled back.  With a brilliant white light shining through the increasingly wider cracks, the gate soon opened up completely – and, once the light fully died down, the Star Allies ran through it and into the awaiting arena, one by one.


The golden forest haven had disappeared – and in its place, was a color scheme consisting almost entirely of blues, blacks, and purples, almost sinister in the way they were laid out. The atmosphere could best be described as ‘transcendent nighttime’, though some others would describe it as simply disturbingly silent. Behind the Star Allies, the gate which they had entered from disappeared entirely, providing no escape from what was to come. Fine by us.

The large black tree in front of them was at first uncomfortably still, its branches and leaves encompassing a large section of the concealed skyline above their heads. Nevertheless, the group was not fooled by this quiet, all of them gathering their swords and spears and hammers and et cetera by their sides, perfectly positioned to begin thrusting and swinging – and as if it were personally answering these actions, the tree began to shake and scuffle.

Unnaturally glowing golden eyes widened above the tree’s ‘nose’, as well as a similarly-sized mouth – and the newly awakened Whispy Woods clone proceeded to show its displeasure with a just-as-unnatural roar at the assembled group before him.

“Holy crud,” Adeleine breathed.

“Wh-Whispy?” Rick stared aghast. “Is—Is that you?”

“No,” Magolor corrected him. “That’s not Whispy.”

Kirby’s mind supplied him the information he needed. “Yeah. That definitely isn’t him. This guy, he’s…”

Otherworldly Arbor
Parallel Woods

“…Parallel Woods.”


VS. Parallel Woods

The fabric of space-time has been broken down, forming unholy incarnations of past foes with a desire to destroy everything. In the case of Whispy Woods, this rotten, blighted arbor has been imbued with terrible new power! Star Allies, take him down before he overwhelms this twisted realm!


“It doesn’t matter what he’s called!” Dedede declared. “He’s in our way—and I know he’s not getting out of it without a fight!”

The regent of Dream Land was correct; Parallel Woods seemed intent on taking out the intruders that dared to stand in his realm. Taking initiative, King Dedede, Bandana Dee, Dark Meta Knight, and Magolor began assaulting the EX Boss, hard. There’s no time to waste, Dedede thought—only time to get clobbering!

The rest stayed back and played things more defensively. Kirby was sure to use the lengthy string on his yo-yo to his advantage; Adeleine and Ribbon stayed behind and painted some creatures to send out; and most of everyone else had some form of projectiles to work with.

“Hmph—is this the best that this world could throw at us?” Dark Meta Knight scoffed. A trio of giant apples attempted to drop on his head, which he easily dodged. “I’m almost disappointed with this unsatisfactory approach.”

“I’ll—I’ll t-take it!” Bandana Dee stammered in reply, spinning his spear above his head. “If—If he’s e-easier than expected, th-then all the better, r-right!?”

“Now that’s the spirit!” Magolor cheered, as he fired a Revolution Flame forward from his hands. “Just make sure to keep your wits about you as you go!”

Swathes of flame along with pointy objects of all kinds struck the tree furiously, and he unsurprisingly didn’t take it kindly. The minute he got a chance, he opened his mouth and began inhaling as hard as he could. Which was very hard, as things so happened to be. Magolor’s warning proved true; Bandana Dee and Dark Meta Knight, having been too close, promptly got eaten whole by the demented tree—“A-A-Ahhhhhhh!”; “G-Guh—!”—with Dedede and Magolor barely managing to avoid suffering their fate. Twelve other Star Allies pushed their feet as far as they could go – and it should be noted that Parallel Woods’ inhale almost rivaled ‘Lil Kirbs in its sheer power.

“‘Oy! What is this!?” Rick complained, fur ruffling in the wind. “Who does this bloke think he is, Kirby?”

Said puffball was grumbling under his breath, “I… should’ve gotten… an ability with a better dash attack… than this,” as he ran.

And then there were those who were practically panicking at the seams. Adeleine and Ribbon were flailing their arms about, the latter hanging on to the former as tightly as possible – and Taranza… looked about ready to let out a rather girly scream. (So he hadn’t been in a big fight in about four years. That didn’t mean this didn’t scare him!)

Eventually, Parallel Woods ceased his inhaling, and the Star Allies screeched to a halt. Now they had a different problem on their hands. Kirby grimaced at the sight of the sentient tree… chewing Bandana Dee and Dark Meta Knight in his cheeks. Okay, that’s just disturbing.

“…I didn’t know trees could do that,” Magolor stated warily.

“Th-Th-They’re not s-supposed to,” Taranza stuttered nervously. “Not even Flowery Woods d-does that…”

“Hey!” Ribbon spoke up, her volume growing by several octaves. Beside her, Adeleine was gripping her paintbrush tightly, having a glare equal in intensity to her fairy friend’s. “Let our friends go! Now!”

“Yeah! Darky ain’t food,” Marx interjected with his own objection, “even if he looks like it!”

The three of them—Adeleine, Ribbon, and Marx—ran up to Parallel Woods and started rapidly attacking him with paint, crystals, and balls, in a scene that gave Kirby quite a bit of déjà vu. I guess they remember seeing the True Arena. Shaking his head, he and Dedede moved to join them. “You better not be as good as swallowing things as I am, buddy!” he exclaimed.

The nine remaining Star Allies, meanwhile, were preoccupied in combatting Parallel Woods’ virtual army of vicious roots. “Well, this is a fine pickle we’re in,” Coo grouched. Kine was hanging off his feet as they flew about dodging the sprouting roots, due to the fish’s relative lack of mobility. “This guy knows how to multi-task! Things can’t ever be easy, can it?”

Susie blasted away at a rather persistent root. It refused to go down. “You should’ve expected that when we came to Another Dimension,” she admonished. She grunted as she kept at it. The endurance of this creature is stronger than I expected. I need to recalculate my strategy. Hmm…

“Hamster!” she suddenly shouted. “Give me that ‘Sizzle’ element you gave Pinky earlier!”

“Alright, alright, Susie, don’t get your shoes in a twist now!” After needling his own root, she waddled over to the CEO and did as he was told.

A bit of fire later—which required Susie holding her gun up in the air; she had no idea why she needed to do that first—and her gun became a steaming hot flamethrower. This tree may have been persistent, sure, but at the end of the day, it was still a tree. And trees are allergic to fire. Adequate, she mentally rated. “Thanks for that.”

“No problem, mate! If you need anythin’ else, don’t hesitate to ask one of us three for help!”

The former secretary raised an eyebrow in wary interest. “Don’t… hesitate, you say?” Really?

“Of course! You may have done some questionable things before, but right now, you’re our teammate.” He clapped her on the back, his bright grin contrasting immensely with her own steely frown. “And teammates help each other out, always!”

“Hey, Rick!” Coo’s voice echoed from a little distance away. The owl was surrounded by a bunch of roots, all trying to stab at him as he flew about. “I could really use some help here, ya hear me!? Hurry up!”

“Don’t worry, mates, I’m comin’!” the hamster shouted back. “Just gimme a minute!” To Susie, he quickly relayed, “So, yeah! Keep that in mind, alrighty? I’ve got to be a good teammate myself!”

As he went back to assist his fellow Animal Buddies, Susie stared at his back in contemplation. I’m your teammate, huh…?

Back at the boss’s ‘doorstep’, so to speak, Parallel Woods was finally forced to spit Bandana Dee and Dark Meta Knight out, following a fiery Hammer Flip. Dee’s eyes were swirls, the little guy stumbling about in disorientation. “Ohhhhhhhh,” he groaned, his arms wobbling around as he tried to find his way. “Wh-Why…? Why d-does th-that keep h-happening…?”

Dedede rushed over to his assistant’s side, using his sturdy arms to help him keep steady. “Don’t worry, Dee,” he consoled him, “I’ve got you!”

He was joined by Ribbon, comfortably sitting on Dee’s head. She was trying to help herself, which for some reason involved rubbing Dee’s forehead until it presumably got all better. (At least she’s trying, Kirby thought.) “Yeah, we’re here for you!”

Adeleine was tending to Dark Meta Knight, painting him a slice of cake to heal with. “You don’t have to do this for me, you know,” he quietly insisted, embarrassed. “It’s not like I was in there for so long. I am still perfectly healthy.”

“Oh, shut up and take your medicine,” she huffed. “I’m not taking any risks!”

On the frontlines, Kirby and Marx—plus Gooey and Daroach—renewed the attack on the EX Boss. The Super Tuff Pink Puff flung his yo-yo all about the place, a trail of flames following its arc, ending off his little combo by ‘walking the dog’, so to speak. Marx was kicking a volley of explosive balls, Gooey was blinding dashing around the tree’s trunk, and Daroach was swinging stars from his Triple Star Rod—a perfect combination against Parallel Woods.

Vicious tornadoes blew from his mouth, swirling through the arena and reaching out through the whole of it. Gooey, being Gooey, was caught off-guard (as off-guard as one such as he could get, anyway), and Marx flew away from the first few—“Ha! Missed me!” he taunted, sticking his tongue out—before getting hit by one specifically aimed at him.

Kirby and Daroach were good enough to do a variety of sidesteps and teleports out of the way, respectively. “My, my,” Daroach said, “trying to get rid of us, eh? You’re not gonna get away so easily. We’re gonna take your twisted heart, in the end.”

“What he said, minus the fancy talk,” Kirby affirmed, throwing his yo-yo in an orbit. “Just ‘cause you’re black and yellow and trying to look intimidating doesn’t mean a thing with us! Stop trying to compensate for something; it’s honestly embarrassing for you and me!” A trio of Gordoes were furiously thrown their way. He nonchalantly hopped over them, as did Daroach. “Maybe get a ribbon or something—‘cause alone, your color scheme’s ugly, you get me?”

The leaves above shook with fury. Kirby grinned. There we go. “Oh, did I touch a nerve there? So sorry!” he sassed. Bunches of purple apples started raining down from the branches above, attempting to directly target him. Their falling arcs were fairly predictable, luckily, with him easily managing to jump away. Kirby’s grin became even wider. “Awww—delicious apples? You shouldn’t have! Got anything else for little ‘ol me?”

And several roots sprouted from the ground and sent him spiraling backward. He landed right in front of King Dedede and Bandana Dee. “Okay!” Kirby pointed a hand up. “That’s pretty good, too!”

“Sass the boss some other time, Kirbs,” Dedede said to his friend, gripping his hammer hard with the roots closing in on the trio. “I don’t think you’ll get much mileage out of doing so right now!”

“If you say so,” the puffball replied, face still planted on the ground.

The chaotic battle continued, with fire and frenzied slashes going off on one side, and vicious roots and blowing tornadoes spawning on the other. Despite the stationary state of EX Boss, he was more than holding his own against his sixteen different opponents. And his endurance was nothing to scoff at, either. At this point, probably several minutes had passed, and his ‘pinch phase’, as Kirby liked to put it, hadn’t kicked in yet.

“It appears this battle will last quite a long while if we don’t pull out anything big,” Magolor observed, all the way in the back. A Gordo tried to bounce in behind him; he simply blocked it with a wall of needles.

“You are not wrong,” Meta Knight reluctantly agreed. “We’ll tire ourselves out at the rate we are going. What do you propose we do?”

“Can we make him drop cherries?” Gooey nonchalantly asked, floating over to the two. His tongue stretched out of his mouth and grabbed onto a falling apple, yanking it into his mouth. “These apples taste kind of weird. Apples shouldn’t taste weird. Cherries would be better, I think.”

“…such an action would probably not be wise to undertake,” Meta Knight replied. “His cherries would likely be as dangerous as his apples.”

“Oh.” Gooey didn’t seem too bothered. “I guess that’s okay. Maybe we can ram him, then. Ramming usually works.”

Magolor looked considering, visibly thumbing his chin. Slowly, but surely, a virtual light bulb was going off in his head. “Hmm…” he hummed. “Ramming, you say? That gives me an idea.”

“An idea, you say?” Meta Knight stated. “Very well. Let us hear it.”

Approximately a minute or two later, the Lor Starcutter—okay, a miniature construct of it—shone brightly against the shadowed environment, Magolor hanging on the deck as its ‘captain’ and Meta Knight and Gooey serving as his shipmates. If this sounds ridiculous to you… that’s because it pretty much was. Behind his scarf, Magolor didn’t bother to stifle his massive smile. “Okay! Meta Knight! Gooey! Are you ready to set sail!?” he dramatically asked his compatriots, arms wide in the air.

“Aye aye,” the blob of Dark Matter dreamily answered.

“Yes,” the noble swordsman bluntly relayed. I’m beginning to have second thoughts about this. (It was too late to get off this train, though.)

“In that case…! CHOO CHOO!” he bellowed. “All aboard the Starcutter Express! Next destination: PARALLEL WOODS!”

With that triumphant cry, the aforementioned ‘Starcutter Express’ promptly took off, running over roots and Gordoes and projectiles of all kinds on its one-way trip to Parallel Woods. Gooey stuck his tongue out in the wind, clearly enjoying himself, and Magolor himself was cheering all the way through.

And Meta Knight… Meta Knight was merely glaring at the enemy ahead, being as no-nonsense as usual. It was kind of disappointing, ‘Captain’ Magolor mused. But eh, not my problem.

The other Star Allies stopped their frantic fighting for a moment to stare in awe at the charging construct. It was apparent their resident mage hadn’t shown off all he could do yet.

(“Wowie!” Marx oohed. “Mags wasn’t kidding when he talked about having a little ship like that! Dang, now I want one!”

“…please don’t get one,” Dark Meta Knight quickly stated. “I tire easily enough of your shenanigans without a vessel for you to traverse.”

“That’s only more motivation for me then!”)

Parallel Woods had just enough time to widen his eyes before the huge flying boat collided with him head-on. It was a majestic scene, one which could only be improved if it was replayed in slow motion. Magolor and co. hopped off the ship as it disappeared into particles of light, watching delightfully (in the former’s case) as the enemy tree flinched hard from the impact. “And that’s how you arrive in style!” he exclaimed. “Thank you all for riding the Starcutter Express, only the finest in triple deluxe airlines!”

“…I’m jealous now,” Dedede admitted. “Really jealous.”

“…I want to be able to do that!” Coo declared, after having a moment to take it all in. “Gimme a rocket or something, I’m sure I can do just as good!”

“You don’t even know how to drive, Coo…” Kine sighed.

“I must admit: that was an impressive approach,” Daroach complimented, an impressed look on his face. “But we’re not out of the frying pan, as I’m sure you can tell.” At his words, the sixteen Star Allies turned back to look at the halfway-done EX Boss, who looked even more pissed off than before. The thief-slash-seeker-of-treasure narrowed his eyes. “He’s got a fire brewing underneath us, that’s for sure.”


[Meta Knight]

Phase one is done. Phase two… is about to begin.

Parallel Woods, as he is reportedly named, seemed remarkably agitated by our persistent efforts to give him no quarter in this realm. Compared to his counterparts in Whispy Woods and Yggy Woods, this EX Boss has proven himself much more hostile—and much more dangerous. The influence of Another Dimension is certainly nothing to scoff at.

And to think, the Sphere Doomers from seven years ago was only a simple taste of its deadly force…

The unholy incarnation of a tree jumped up out of the ground and slammed into the middle of the arena, sending us flying backward from the shockwave it created. T-Tch…! Now he reveals his true power…! Unfortunately, this meant we were now split us off into two factions, and the tree soon enlarged to the point where crossing the new barrier would be an impossible task. The group on my side of the arena consisted of myself, my mirror counterpart, the Animal Trio, Taranza, Daroach, and Bandana Dee. It would have to do.

I took charge, glancing back at the crowd behind me, all bringing themselves back up from the floor. “Star Allies! Don’t let your guard down!” I barked, all the practice from being leader of the Meta-Knights coming back to me like second nature. “Our foe may seem unapproachable, but I can assure you, he is anything but! Keep your wits about you and keep on the move!”

“Gotcha, Meta Knight!” was the multi-directed reply I received back. Say what you will about the individuals that made up our makeshift team, they know—we know—when it’s time to get serious and pay attention.

And that time is now.

I aimed my blade directly at Parallel Woods, as did everyone else with their own respective weapons – and, unsurprisingly, he took offense. Suddenly, from the ground, creatures that I could only describe as being young Whispy Woods grew in front of my eyes, as black and yellow-eyed as the being that spawned it. Summoning minions? Do you honestly believe this will get the better of us?

You can try.

The collective eight junior trees dragged their roots forward, and we, just as determined, charged forth with our own resolve – and so, we engaged in combat. The one I faced started by trying to squash me flat; I dissuaded him of that notion with an upward stab from Galaxia. I took the opportunity then to engage in an aerial combo, swishing and slashing and burrowing him back to the ground he came from.

The leaves and branches, formed from the enlarged Parallel Woods, began to violently shake—again, in a manner reminiscent of his two predecessors—resulting in the production of various purple apples, even more so than before, dropping down in swarms like a flood over a city. I took to the skies and hacked at the apples, slicing a fair number of fruit in half and allowing my allies to better fight unhindered by these distractions. I was joined by my mirror counterpart—Dark Meta Knight—in this endeavor, his prowess with his dark Galaxia showing itself splendidly. We looked at each other and nodded in unison.

You may or may not recall that Dark Meta Knight, once upon a time, had defeated and imprisoned me within the Mirror World, when I went to investigate its mysterious appearance. Then, he was nothing more than an utterly pragmatic, unchivalrous warrior in the service of Dark Mind – though there were hints that that last part was not by his own will. And aside from a brief resurfacing when Dedede made his trek up the Dreamstalk, he hadn’t been seen again, until he was summoned by Kirby in the Dream Palace.

His appearance had been enough to force me and Marx to call a truce on our then-active feud, in order to deal with the mirror knight’s aggressiveness. In time though, we came to know Dark Meta Knight as a lost and lonely individual, putting up a persona of ‘edginess’ and viciousness in order to hide it. And despite my initial reluctance… we became something akin to comrades. I may not be as close to him as Adeleine and Ribbon are, but that doesn’t give our ‘friendship’ any less meaning.

And to think, it was all because Kirby saw a friend, deep within his darkened heart…

We continued our assault against the food menace – how I wish such absurd statements weren’t so commonplace nowadays – until a horde of Blados was dropped on us, forcing us to deflect them instead.

The Parallel Woods Jr. grabbed the Blados with their roots, once the glorified Gordos were on the floor, and threw them back at us. Akin to what Link and Ganondorf often end up doing, Dark Meta Knight and I had an improvised tennis match with our two opponents. In sync, we shot the Blados back at the Jr. Woods again and again, the four of us locked in a tense standoff.

SLICE!

FLING!

SLICE!

FLING!

SLICE!

FLING!

…not the most exciting of events, I will admit.

Eventually though, they were overwhelmed—there’s only so much one can concentrate on a single action, after all—and, they soon became nothing more than stars in the air.

There was no time to rest, however. There was much that needed to be done. Still flapping our wings, we swerved through the air and prepared to bring the fight directly to Parallel Woods—only to find that he was ready for us.

Like he did before, the giant tree leaped from the ground, up a fair height… and started arcing in a way that we would be the ones he would stomp on. Startled, we diverged from our flight paths and narrowly avoided our fates—but he wasn’t satisfied, not by any stretch of the imagination. Rather than just settle for a single jump, he elected to perform multiple quick ones in a row. His mass was so huge that dodging him was nothing extravagantly easy – and down below, he was even squashing several of our teammates, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise to hear that getting slammed by the equivalent of a Thwomp is… extraordinarily painful.

There’s a reason we’re careful not to get crushed by the environment on our ventures.

That wasn’t the only thing he had on hand, though. A large number of yellow fruit were dropping from his bushes of leaves—and much to my displeasure, these ones had the ‘small’ side-effect of happening to explode upon contact. We tried to batter them away, as we did with the Blados—but trying to accomplish that while simultaneously dealing with Parallel Woods’ schizophrenic jumping was… complex to pull off.

And by that, I mean we were unable to fully do so.

…even experienced knights such as we (as much as that term can be applied to my doppelganger) are hard-pressed to escape everything unscathed.

“Watch out!” Dark Meta Knight tried to warn me—but it was too late. A batch of golden fruit dropped into our flight range, too fast for us to dodge or react—and the resulting explosions sent us tumbling out of the sky and into the ground. I grunted frustratedly as the dust cleared around us. “Accursed tree…!” I swore. “We can’t fall here…!” We accumulated a fair number of injuries from that blow; I can barely lift my sword up to defend myself.

Dark Meta Knight wasn’t faring much better. He tried to get his mirror shard clone technique working, and I could see the shards flickering in and out behind him—but he didn’t appear to have enough power to sustain it. “No!” he growled. “I can’t…! The mirror, it won’t…!” That… didn’t bode well.

One final stomp cued me in to the large tree now in front of us. To his sides were a few summoned minions, different from the previous selection: a Burning Leo, a Chilly, a Driblee, and a Como. And in our weakened states, we weren’t going to be lasting very long under their assault.

“…well, if I may be crass for a moment,” my counterpart vocalized, “this… is going to suck. Very much.”

“I can see that,” I said. This was going to be a quite unpleasant experience. “If I may say something myself…” I glanced directly into his eyes. “I am honored to have been your comrade-in-arms, fighting against this blasted tree and his folk.” I never thought I’d be saying something so sentimental, when we’re about to be killed by a tree, of all the creatures – but it’s not like we can pick where and when such events occur.

“…so am I.” With that resolution between us, we looked up to our doom—once more brandishing his roots like swords, his minions walking closer and closer to us. We closed our eyes, grit our teeth, and braced ourselves for the impact.

…but it never came.

“…what?”

I reopened my eyes—and saw Kirby, King Dedede, and Bandana Dee holding back our foes: King Dedede in the front, clashing against Parallel Woods’ roots; Kirby and Bandana Dee on the sides, taking out the other four with yo-yo and spear in hand, respectively. I allowed my face a recourse of astonishment, and I could see that Dark Meta Knight was feeling the same way.

“Hey, Meta Knights—you’re not allowed to go dying on me now!” King Dedede declared, a cocky grin on his lovable face. With a mighty swing from his hammer, the conflicting roots fell limp to the ground, with Parallel Woods noticeably wincing from the pain. “And there’s no way I’ll let some oversized Whispy Woods clone be the one to do the job, either!”

“Y-Y-You guys are a b-bit tired, right?” Bandana Dee—Dedede’s faithful assistant—babbled out quickly. “Th-Then we’ll buy some time for you! J-Just l-l-let us handle this; Great King and Kirby know what they’re doing!”

“You heard ‘em!” Kirby threw in his own response. “You two are my friends – and come hell or high water, there’s not a thing that’ll prevent me from helping you guys out whenever I can! ‘Sides… I thought you two were stronger than that.” The smile he gave the two of us, with his sparkling blue eyes and confidence glimmering throughout… I truly, honestly believed in the words he was saying. He flipped back around to face Parallel Woods. Somehow, he was able to make wielding a yo-yo look dignified. “Dedede, Dee, let’s show this guy a thing or two about friendship!”

“YEAH!”

Watching them rush in, unhesitating in protecting us through thick and thin… I allowed myself a smile of my own. I’d almost forgotten the real reason I’ve made it this far, through all the years I’ve been living in Dream Land. My, shall I say it… best friends.

Bandana Dee, a loyal companion – though nervous and seemingly always stuttering, his compassion has always stayed the course. There is no group quest I’d have without seeing his face, joyous in our journeys and with relief in the escape of danger; he makes it hard to definitively hate any part of an adventure.

King Dedede, the regent of Dream Land – in the decade that has transpired since his last serious duel with Kirby, he was grown leaps and bounds into his role as a kind king. Stubborn and endlessly protective of those he cares about, his hammer has often paved our paths in the collectible-hunting and boss-battling we do, and his voice as our partner – sympathetic and uplifting to hear – is one I’ll always treasure.

Kirby, the heroic savior of the Gamble Galaxy – there’s nary a single person he can meet, barring final bosses, who he can’t befriend in some shape or fashion. Swords, cutters, katanas, hammers—he’ll wield it all, and he’ll do it with a sass few can match, even in this day and age. Through a paradoxical combination of empathy and snarky determination, you’ll discover the great number of things which he is capable of – and this light, shining brightly through the stars, will refuse to let others burn out, no matter what it takes.

These three… throughout my lengthy history, I have never met anyone else who I’d rather have by my side. And they’ve helped me change, too.

There was a time where I was nothing more than a bystander, testing Kirby as he himself came into his own, mostly detached from the world around me—to the point where I even saw fit to attempt a rude takeover of Dream Land, due to my inability to see the people, as it were, like Kirby could so easily do.

But by staying persistent despite everything, Kirby managed to worm his way into my cold, steely heart. Dedede and Bandana Dee, as well. Their easygoing natures have grown on me over time—and don’t tell anyone, but I do, in fact, have a sense of humor through their hard efforts. I’ve learned the true value of friendship, thanks to them – and it’s never failed to empower me since. (And I’ve never failed to empower them.) Knights can’t always duke it out alone – and as Kirby said once to me, ‘There’s always room for smiles in everyone’s trials.’

“Hmph,” Dark Meta Knight shook his head, in an affectionate manner. “I should have known our friends would end up doing something like this.” He shook his head. “I suppose you and I will remain partnered up for quite a while longer.”

“Fine by me,” I replied. “We have to keep everyone in check, after all. NOVA knows how long they’d last without us.”

“True enough. I wouldn’t wish that jester on anyone else. Especially not Maki,” he muttered that last part to himself.

I looked back to our trio of saviors, slowly but surely beating back Parallel Woods through their combined might—with our other Star Allies joining them in their conquest as he proved unable to counter.

You see this, Jambandra Cult? I thought. Don’t think your endeavors will keep us down for very long. We’ll rise up again, empowered by our each and every one of our hearts.

You may seek to become a threat – but we’ll show you just how big of a mistake that is.

That is a promise I’m willing to make.


[N/A]

At last – after a long and grueling battle, neither side of the fray letting up, the tension stretching on for almost an eternity – the final blow had been struck. Parallel Woods had just enough time to wince, blinking an eye closed, before he began to dramatically decrease in size back to his original standing, starlit explosions of various colors going off around him. A tired slouch, accompanied by a frown and a familiar teardrop and subsequently followed by one final explosion, finally indicated that the first EX Boss had been vanquished.

Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, Bandana Dee, and the other twelve Star Allies stood there, weapons still in hand, for several seconds more after this. One by one, starting with Kirby, the crew lowered them and returned to their normal stances. A relieved smile popped up on the pink puffball’s face first. “We did it!” he exclaimed, bringing his arms to the sky.

“We did it!” everyone else cheered alongside him—and then summarily dropped to the ground, trying to catch their breath.

“W-Wow,” Adeleine panted, summoning her canvas to lean on. “I—I don’t think… I’ve ever been… in such a difficult fight before…! It’s—It’s s-something else…!”

“You can say that again,” Taranza groaned, his voice muffled by the fact that he was laying face down on the floor. “If th-this is what it’s gonna be like… then I hope we’ll get a long, long rest a-after this.”

“What,” Rick chuckled, “you sayin’ this doesn’t count? We’re gonna be screwed then, mate.”

A wave of subdued laughter made its way through the crowd of Star Allies. This is what life should be, Kirby mused, eyes drawn to each and every teammate that formed his squad. Smiles and laughter and bright times, with all of my friends. This—everything about this—is what I live for, whenever I wake up in the morning, every day of my life.

And if the world seeks to have things go differently, then I’ll push back against it as hard as I can. I’ll fight to keep it going for as long as possible, because there’s always a joy to be found in sharing such experiences with each other.

…‘Lil Kirbs and Kaede would agree with me, I know that.

A pink sheen drew Kirby’s attention away from his friends. “Huh?” Everyone else’s gaze was drawn toward it, too, thanks to its appearance: from the bushes of leaves attached to Parallel Woods came a long and pink, heart-tipped spear, emanating with a florescent pink aura, floating in the air as transcendent as the dimension it came from.

“Shiny,” Gooey drooled.

“Surprising,” Daroach noted, an eyebrow raised.

Dedede narrowed his eyes. “Hey,” he drawled, a realization coming to his mind, “isn’t that…”

“…o-one of th-the Heart S-Spears?” Bandana Dee finished for him. “Th-The things that g-gave us the Star Allies Sparkler?”

“Yeah,” Kirby confirmed. One of the weapons—wielded by the four heroes of legend—that sealed away Void Termina so long ago. “…it shouldn’t be here. Not at all.”

Susie looked pondering, her intellectual mind going to work. “First the thirty Friend Hearts that were hidden within this dimension, and now the Heart Spears from centuries long gone…” she listed. “There is something going on behind the scenes that necessitates we have both these sets of artifacts. Something in relation to the ‘cult’ that presumably summoned this dimension back into our world… That much is easy to decipher.”

“W-Well, when you put it that way,” Kine said, “it’s… kind of foreboding. Enough to make me a little nervous, actually…”

Kirby jumped and grabbed the Heart Spear out of the air, the spherical aura breaking immediately as he did. He looked at the ancient artifact with an ambivalent expression on his face. “Hmm…” It glowed so brightly, it was almost blinding. He dropped it into his hammerspace, showcased by it disappearing into particles of light. “It doesn’t matter why it’s here,” he concluded. “If it’s the clue to ending this crisis, then all the better we get ‘em.”

Dedede shrugged. “If that’s what you think, then I won’t question you on it.”

The puffball then got a contemplative look on his face. “We’re at the end of the first road, and we’ve got our first Plot Coupon.” He beamed. “You know what that calls for!”

The other Star Allies all looked at each other—and they knew in their hearts what it was he was talking about. Their smiles grew wider as well.

(And so, as had been tradition for a long, long time—they danced. They danced, they danced, they danced.

And it was worth it.)


Elsewhere, in Another Dimension…

Elements sailed rapidly through the air. Francisca grit her teeth as she swung her labrys around and around, a trail of ice following its crescent arc. “What are these foes…!?” she grounded out, her axe clashing with an unusually tough Bonkers’ hammer. “None of the troops back at base have this sort of strength!” It was a testament to her and her sisters’ status as Generals of the Jambandra Cult that they weren’t immediately overwhelmed by the onslaught.

Though, on that note, Flamberge wasn’t having any better luck than she. She was up against a pair of King Doos, and was barely fending off the two with four different fiery swords sprouting from the ground. “I told you this was a bad idea, Zan!” she shouted. “Going further, even for Lord Hyness, is more liable to be a danger to our health than his!”

Close by, Zan Partizanne’s skills with her spear were as good as ever. Her blade practically danced around and through the golden Gigant Edge—though there was a far more aggressive edge than would normally be expected of her. “Keep fighting!” she barked back. “This is nothing compared to what we’ve been through before!” Charging her partisan with electricity, she thrust it through the mid-boss in front of her, sending it hurtling backward through the air. “Whatever it takes, I will assist Lord Hyness!”

“Surely—” CLASH! “—there has to—” CLASH! “—be better ways to—” CLASH! “—help him out… than this…!” Francisca stated, her foe pushing against her weapon in a rather forceful way. “We—We can’t just—!” Her statement went unfinished, however—for she was soon overwhelmed, with her labrys flying out of her hands, and she herself ending up on the floor, utterly defenseless.

Her red-headed twin screamed. “FRANNY!”

BA-DUMP!

Time seemed to slow down. Flamberge watched in horror as the EX Bonkers approached fast—with she being too far away to assist her fallen sibling. This can’t be happening, she thought. This can’t be happening.

BA-DUMP!

The hammer was about to be dropped, large and looking in charge, and she couldn’t let Francisca get hurt now, because she was her sister NOVA damn it, and here in this dimension where everything hit like a tank, the three Mage-Sisters Zan needed to do her best to protect each other and her face, her sweet and joyous face was getting frightened and frightened and she couldn’t let it be there and she had to DO SOMETHING—!

BA-DUMP!

Without thinking, Flamberge shot her flamberge forward—and it soared at a pace far, far faster than it normally would, wrapped in a tornado of violet-black flame—

—and before the two of them knew it, the Bonkers had been blasted away, tumbling a long distance painfully to the ground, where he later laid still; unconscious. Purple sparks happened to remain on Flamberge’s hand, and she looked at it with no small amount of horror—before simply shaking her head and running over to her sister. (There were more important things to worry about, after all.)

“F-Franny! Are—Are you okay!?” The Blazing General quickly helped her icy sibling up, concerned written all over her face, replacing any semblance of stubborn determination. “Y-You’re—You’re not hurt too bad, a-are you!?”

“I’m fine!” Francisca answered, panting heavily. “I’m—I’m fine. B-But…” She bit her lip. “Wh-What about you? What was that…?”

“I…” Flamberge couldn’t answer. She didn’t know how to answer that. “I, I can’t—”

And then storms of violet lightning struck all around the two, startling them from their thoughts – and much to their shock, the two King Doos—whom Flamberge had entirely forgotten about—lay twitching on the floor behind them, their ambush abruptly thwarted before it could be completed.

“Are you just going to sit down and let them walk all over you?”

The two siblings turned back to their elder. Zan Partizanne was staring at them harshly, her partisan sparkling with an electrifying darkness. Her skin, alarmingly enough, was darkening in color, the opposite effect being applied to her clothes. She spoke in a hard, clipped voice. “Lord Hyness needs us. He won’t appreciate any sort of weakness.” She glared nightmarishly. “Pick up your weapons and fight. Whatever it takes, they won’t get in our way.”

“Z-Z-Zan…” Francisca stammered. “Wh-Wha—”

“Don’t lag behind.” She turned around and walked forward, deeper into the depths of Another Dimension – and somehow, it felt like the distance between them had exponentially increased, in a way that couldn’t be traversed. Tears threatened to fall from Francisca’s eyes. Zan… What’s happening to you…?

And Flamberge… Flamberge just stood there—and looked at her hands, a distraught feeling welling up inside of her. “Th-That power…” she whispered. “Do… Do I have it too? Does it belong to both of us…?”

A silence passed. A dark, unsettling silence. The only things they could do from there was pick up their labrys and flamberge and keep moving – but thoughts continued to run through their mind. Are… Are we really doing the right thing…?

…who could say?

(Meanwhile, deep, deep inside of her—of them—a spark; the spark of darkness, formed from both Lord Hyness and Void Termina, resting inside their souls stirred up at last.

And little did they know…

Once they started using it, there wouldn’t be any going back.

This was a fact… Zan knew well.)

Chapter Text

Lightning flashed through the darkened sky, followed summarily by the loud, booming sounds of thunder – both of which did nothing to relieve the world of the ominous, turbulent atmosphere that Gabbel Moon currently had. Combine that with a harsh rainstorm that would leave anyone soaked, regardless of what clothes they wore or what umbrella they had over them, and here was yet another candidate for ‘the worst weather conditions in the galaxy’. Under normal circumstances, no one would consider even walking out of their front door into this terrible, terrible weather—

And yet, one girl didn’t seem to care.

Clothes dirtied and tattered, hair unkempt and frazzled, eyes tired and welling up with tears—this girl was clearly on the end of her rope, and one could see an aura of desperation emanating from her entire being. She trudged through the stone pathway, an arm up to shield her eyes from the storm, barely even flinching at the torrent battering at her. And then, she came to a stop, and looked up.

A tall tower gloomily stood raised before her, a winding set of stairs wrapped around a solid tube; the stairs, it must be noted, were looking extremely treacherous to traverse, thanks to the lack of a fence or any sort of structure holding them up. It was likely—no, absolutely certain that there was nothing of any worth up there, that anyone who attempted this climb would find their efforts utterly futile.

…there’s nothing left for me to do, she thought, but… put an end to this.

The girl stood and stared into the sky for a good long while, as if she were silently contemplating the events in her life that had led her thus far to this conclusion. And then, without any further hesitation, she took her first step forward, toward the fate that she knew was coming.

(The fate that had been coming for quite some time now.)

At first, it was a slow walk, her gait cautious in contrast to her resolution – but before too long, it had blossomed into a full-on sprint up the spiraling tower. This was it – this was the final stretch.

One would question why someone like her was so stained and sore and scratched; why she was lost and companionless—and most frightening, filled to the brim with despair.

…well.

Put simply: everything she knew—everything she had cherished, held so close to her heart—had disappeared not too long ago; been tossed aside to the wind to the point where she could no longer feel their presence. Her father, her younger twin sisters, her home… they had all—just—disappeared. They couldn’t lift her up whenever she felt down; they couldn’t frolic and laugh and be happy together.

Once upon a time, these aforementioned elements made up her whole life: the four of them traveled throughout the Gamble Galaxy, scavenging whatever they could, exploring the cosmos beyond, and generally living a nomadic existence. Sure, the starship she and her family used was not exactly the best around, and their life couldn’t at all be described as ‘luxurious’ in any way—but she was happy, and that was all she needed.

That was all she ever wanted.

It didn’t matter what elected to stand in her way of her own contentment; it didn’t matter that half the time she was too exhausted to even drag herself out of bed, much to her father’s worry. All the dark whispers and uncomfortable images that wanted to creep into her mind—the times spent with her family could washed them all away, letting the rainclouds in her head open up and let in that wonderful sunlight.

But now, all of that had changed. In an instant, her comfortable reality had been uprooted from its place, and now she was here, on a satellite too remote for anyone to know she was here, and too far from any system of planets which she was actually unacquainted with. And that wasn’t the worst part.

Her support base had completely fallen apart in the ensuing chaos.

Her father? Gone, in a sacrifice meant to protect his children.

Her home? Destroyed, in an attack she didn’t know the cause of.

Her sisters? Missing, somewhere far off and unlocatable under her own power.

She was alone now, in a cruel world unsympathetic to her misery.

And all that remained… were her tears.

I… I have to keep going. I have to get up there. I have to reach the top.

Because… I can’t keep going on like this. I can’t keep believing when there’s no hope to be found.

(…I can’t.)

Footsteps echoed from the unsteady ground in rapid succession as the girl rushed up the tower as fast as she could. Raindrops splattered constantly against her exposed skin, agitating her bruises to a nearly unbearable extent, and it didn’t help that a particularly strong wind threatened to blow her off at any opportunity. More than once, she nearly slipped and stumbled off the precarious cliff (and a part of her wanted to let herself go, because honestly—what was the point…? It was more than she deserved for failing her duty to her siblings) —but she managed to stay the course and kept ascending the thin staircase.

Lightning streaked down from the sky. Thunder rumbled from every direction. The storm got worse and worse as seconds turned to minutes turned to a half-hour at the most, becoming a torrential downpour unceasing in its emergence.

The girl continued on anyway, almost oblivious to the raging devastation about her.

The stretch upward seemed to last an eternity. Every step onward seemed to lead absolutely nowhere, further accentuating that belief.

The girl trekked on in spite of that, forcing herself to go and give it her all to make it to the top, by any means necessary. It didn’t matter what stood in her way; she would reach that summit.

What followed was a practical hurricane, in her eyes.

Another step up the stairs—

The wind howled past her ears—

A memory flashed back—

Her father yelling at his children to run—

Herself holding onto her siblings’ hands tightly, running away from the disaster at the same pace she was going now—

(And yet, it was all for naught anyway…!)—

She shook her head—“Don’t think about them, j-just keep going—”

Was she halfway up? Three-quarters? Not even a quarter?—

The way ahead was getting darker, harder to see—

Instinct was all that was pushing her forward at this point; her feet barely able to step on the narrow stone walkways—

It has to be enough, it has to be enough—

And then.

And then, and then, and then, and then—

She made it.

The last of the steps had been conquered, and after what seemed like a long delay, the girl stood above them all, panting heavily as she felt the weight of several pattering raindrops dripping off her back. She slouched over for a bit, her energy reserves nearly depleted from the effort it took to arrive. But that fact didn’t diminish the bittersweet relief that flourished throughout her young, yet worn body. Finally, her trials were over. Finally, the arduous days she had led could be a thing of the past.

Finally, she could be with her sisters again.

“…this is it,” she said to herself, determinedly. “This is it.”

The top of the tower was not very interesting, despite the tempest that was currently surrounding it: it was a circular arena of sorts, fenced off by a pattern of elevated and unelevated stone blocks – tall enough to allow no accidental falls by any would-be visitors… but also short enough that anyone could climb over it—and set their fates in stone, so to speak.

Slowly and shakily, the exhausted girl made her way from the stairs to the other side of the roof, and then—with her hands touching the rim of the hard fencing—she brought her gaze downward and facing the ground. Notably, it looked as though the drop below was a very, very steep one; the rocky pathway which she had traversed earlier couldn’t even be seen from such a height anymore. It would be enough to make any sane person gulp and think twice about what they were staring at – but she wasn’t able to have any of those indulgences on hand, unfortunately.

Closing her eyes briefly and taking in a deep breath, the girl lifted her leg—and placed her foot on the pedestal above her. In just a couple of seconds, she was standing precariously on her two feet on the platform, certain doom less than a few inches away.

Go on, that ever present and familiar voice murmured into her ear, placing a sinister, compulsive effect on her already addled brain. Take the leap. There’s nothing more to greet you if you stay in this realm. The burden of living—of constantly taking away time from the lives who actually matter—will no longer have to be your worry.

This is what your family would like you to do—and after all… if they’re smiling upon you up in heaven… wouldn’t you like to join them, and be free of the torment that haunts you forevermore? (Unstated was the fact that it was this voice which was the ‘torment’ that refused to leave its residence inside her thoughts.) All you have to do… is be willing to act.

There won’t be any more pain. There won’t be any more suffering.

Go on. Take the leap… and at last—

Reach out to your freedom, with your own two hands.

“…no more pain,” she repeated tearfully, “no more suffering. I-I’ll be—I’ll be… f-f-free.” She sniffed hard as she composed the final words she wanted to say on this moon. “E-Everyone, I’m—I’m—” She choked back a sob as she struggled to keep her entire body from vibrating erratically. “I’m s-sorry I couldn’t do anything to—to protect you, like I—I p-promised you. B-But—I won’t fail you again. I won’t let my w-worthless self… hinder you, or this b-beautiful world any longer.

“…s-so… g-goodbye. Goodbye, Gamble Galaxy. I’m going… going to a better place now.”

It wasn’t as if hopping off this clifftop wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It would certainly be a simpler death than anything else she could’ve come up with.

And besides—people always said that ‘it’s not the fall that kills you.’ If that was true… then she wouldn’t even get to feel the impact.

Wouldn’t that be a kind exit, after all that had occurred in her short life?

She was here, all prepared to raise her foot and send herself careening down, down, to a place that she knew would grant her the wishes she desired—

But alas, chance had a way of fatally wounding even the noblest of actions.

Just as she began to do it, the sky flashed white once more, something seemingly noticeably wrong as it did, and the girl had barely enough time to spin around mid-walk and see a sparkling white thing arcing straight toward her—

(And if she was looking at things right, there was something up in the clouds where the bolt came from, seeming to glare at her with this one eye)—

And then, all the girl knew…

…was pain and absolute suffering.

“AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

An ear-splitting shriek hit the sky, its octaves far higher than most people could expected to produce on a regular basis—and sounding incredibly agonized beyond anything anyone that could come into a person’s imagination. Several thousand—if not more—volts coursed throughout her weak, fragile body, a sharp and very persistent torture that felt like it was punching into every weak spot within her internal system. Her limbs became limp and unmoving, her body charred and broken, her mind nearly fractured by this last stroke of bad luck—

—and as the electrifying bolt finally dissipated, her whole self, where it was briefly suspended in midair… tumbled from the rooftops—and into the great void below.

Time seemed to slow as her form fell through the sky—and as battered and bruised her mind was, and as her nerves continued to ache and strain in suffering… the girl began to contemplate her life thus far, as both her consciousness and her breathing gradually faded away to nothingness.

Is this… Is this a cruel joke…? she internally wheezed, unable to comprehend reality as she knew it. Was my life… nothing more than someone’s plaything…? A toy… for the gods’ amusement…?

Ha ha ha—Ha ha ha ha… Of course.

Of course… it was.

There can’t be any other answer.

Why else… would they let me get my hopes up… only to further grind them into dust… as they flutter about in the wind…?

That’s why… I can’t even have a peaceful end.

That’s why… I’m dying alone, in pain, at this young age.

That’s why… I’m here on this blasted moon to begin with.

It was like the worst of nightmares, all her most twisted, most devastating dreams made manifest; an unwelcome truth she once would’ve tried so hard to deny. Fate just had it out for her—and that was that. There was nothing more to it.

Dad… Franny… Berge…

I… I wish I wasn’t so far from you, as I am right now.

If you could see me… wherever you are… what would you think of me? Would you be disgusted with me? Pity me, empathize with me?

Well… whatever your answer is… I’ll be coming to see you again, soon enough.

We won’t have to suffer, we won’t have to grieve—it’ll just be you and me, together again.

That’s… what I’ve always wanted…

That’s… all…

With one last tear dropping from her eye, and her soon-to-be corpse having fallen halfway down the tower, Zan Partizanne, eldest sibling to a sibling team of three and a long-tormented soul… breathed—her—last…

…but then…


“M-M-Mr. Hyness! I—I can see Zan, over there! She’s—she’s falling!”

“Wh-Wh-Wh-WHAT!? Zan’s is—H-HUH!? F-Franny, we—we have to—!”

“Do not worry, little girls! We shall rescue her, you have my word!”

“B-But—we’re too far away! At the rate we’re going, we won’t make it in time!”

“Do not fear! If I use my magic, there is mapop that I can reach her! But I will need a strong boost if I can do it!”

“You want us to lift you—and throw you!? We’re—We’re just kids! Are you NUTS, Mr. Hyness!?”

“Your enhanced powers should allow you to give me the velocity I need! Though you two are untrained, if you will it to be possible, then it should be enough! But we must act quickly!”

“We don’t have time, Berge! If we work together, then Mr. Hyness will be able to save Zan! We can’t afford to argue now!”

“A-Alright, fine! If it’s for Zan, I’ll do it! HUUUUAHHHHH—!”

(Something was thrown—something that seemed to fly with the paradoxical combination of water and fire.)

“Zan Par! Can you hear me? I am coming! Please, return your bastion to us…!”

“Is he gonna make it!? Is he gonna make it…!?”

“B-B-Berge! Look! H-He’s…!”


Wh-Where…

Where am I…?

Am… Am I…

…am I alive…?

At a sedate pace, Zan’s eyes fluttered open, her weary demeanor clear to see in her empty gaze. The soft dripping of raindrops resounded against her skin as a cloudy, dark grey sky greeted her sight.

…how is this… possible? she thought. I was… I was struck by lightning. I—I fell off the tower. I shouldn’t be here; I should be dead—dead and with my family again, away from this twisted world. So why…!?

Why am I still…!?

“Oh, jamanke the Void! You are alive! So jhappy! So jhappy vun!”

It was then that the girl noticed that she wasn’t lying on the floor, as had been her first impression – she was actually being carried by someone in their arms. Huh…? But who…? She tilted her head to her side, and couldn’t do much else but stare at the crazy-eyed, robe-wearing individual with a rather relieved look on his face. “Ah, japologa. I must not be what you were expecting, yes?” Even his way of speaking was a little more unorthodox than the norm.

“Wh-Who… Who are you…?” Zan quietly asked, her voice nothing more than a worn-out whisper. “Wh-Why did you…?” ‘…save me’, went unsaid.

The stranger smiled. “Bonjam. My name is Hyness, an officiant of the gods above. I am but a simple traveler, helping out others whenever I am in needed, in service of the deities that granted this galaxy life. I saw the turmoil you were going through—and even if I had not gained a new mission as of recently, I could not sit by and allow you to die so cruelly.”

There were… still people… willing to a lend a hand, out of the kindness of their own heart?

That was… that was nice, but… “…what was the point, though?” she dejectedly mumbled. “I’ve got nothing to tie me to this world anymore. My home’s destroyed. My father’s gone. My sisters aren’t here, either. I’m the only person left.” She sunk further into Hyness’s arms. “I don’t deserve to live. I don’t want to live. I get that you were trying to help, but… all you did was make everything worse.” She didn’t know how he managed to heal her, but honestly, it didn’t matter. “…what use is there in living without purpose?”

“I dare say your life still has purpose. You are not alone in your endeavors. Believe me—” He idly turned his head off toward the distance. “—you very much still have allies on your side.”

“ZAN!”

“ZANNNNNN!”

Her ears perked up, and her eyes widened in a slow realization. It can’t be…

Following Hyness’s gaze, she let her head drift away—and there, dashing closer to the duo—she saw them.

Flowing blue hair, fluffy red hair, and two equally concerned faces—they were just as she remembered.

“Francisca…? Flamberge…?”

All of a sudden, her two siblings (who, despite all the odds they had faced, were actually alive! Alive!) slammed into her—somehow, Hyness didn’t drop her; he merely chuckled in amusement—and practically smothered her in a double-blend of sheer relief and excitement. Tears streamed down their cheeks as they looked to their elder sister. “Zan! We found you! We—We actually found you!” Francisca cried.

“Oh-ho-ho, man!” Flamberge was just as ecstatic, most of her usual stubborn nature having receded from the limelight and replaced with simple joy. “It’s been a tough few weeks, I’ll tell you that—but finally, we’re together again! Ha! It’s—It’s great!”

…this was real.

This was—this was real.

Like Hyness had said—she wasn’t alone. Not at all.

Much like her sisters, a volley of tears freely gushed from her eyes, the glimmer of hope that had once been lost now returning and sparkling like a diamond. She returned the embrace as tightly as she could, audible sobs coming loudly from her throat. “Y-Y-You’re here,” she wept. “You’re here…” She found herself unable to say anything else as she let her emotions entirely overtake her.

She was so emotionally overwhelmed, in fact, that electricity began to sparkle around the trio of sisters (and one officiant). It danced and pranced about, representing all of Zan Partizanne’s renewed happiness as it vibrantly lived, to an extent that Hyness had barely ever seen before in his life. While the reunited siblings didn’t seem to notice, and were instead content with just enjoying having each other’s company again, Hyness could see the magical potential brimming within her, somehow amplifying the others’ powers through her sheer presence. And to think, it was all because she had been rejuvenated in body and spirit…

Hyness smiled. These moments, seeing those he helped sing in simple delight… they were what he lived for, clear as day. He was not entirely certain where his favored gods would lead him next, now that his self-imposed goal to rescue this trio was complete. He could not, under any circumstances, leave them alone in this harsh galaxy—he had already seen for himself the damage that had occurred as a result of the tragedies in their lives.

Perhaps… he could care for them himself, training them to use their newfound skills – and even help spread the word about the gods above that had given him this opportunity to begin with. It would do very well for the girls to have some semblance of a cheerful childhood, after all.

Yes, he thought. I believe… that would be wise.


Jambandra Base
The Divine Terminus – Altar

Sixteen Star Allies exited from the Warp Hole and back into the Divine Terminus, each of them managing to land on their feet with little adjustment to their stance needed. “Alrighty, everybody!” Kirby said, adjusting his baseball cap. “That’s one dimension down…” He looked up, just as three more Warp Holes formed into place nearby. “…and three more to go. Joy!”

“W-Wow…” a voice echoed from behind the Star Allies. “This is—This is what the Divine Terminus looks like…? Creepy!” Several of them looked back to the Helpers Kirby had restored—Poppy Bros. Jr., Burning Leo, Waddle Doo, and Chef Kawasaki (and boy, was it weird having this Kawasaki back after spending so long with Cappy Town’s Kawasaki)—jumping out into the altar, the wormhole they came from dissipating into cyan flames immediately afterward. Guess they’re done exploring Another Dimension for now, Kirby thought. “These cult guys, they really know how to do their thing… y-you get me…?”

“It’s probably wouldn’t be too great as a cooking environment,” Kawasaki noted. “Terrible as a dining room, too. I’d be physically uncomfortable just sitting here, whether it be with a plate or my big pot.”

“I think it’d be better to just torch the whole thing myself,” Leo suggested. “But we can save demolitions duty for later. We’ve got other things to do, right?”

“Yep, you got it. Three more to go, huh…?” Dedede did some mental math, counting off on his fingers. “Well, I guess that means we’ve got 120 Friend Hearts total to collect,” he stated. “Four dimensions, each with thirty Friend Hearts… we really have our work cut out for us this time.”

“At the very least, it will be an interesting exercise in both our physical and our intellectual skills,” Daroach mused, a clawed hand on his chin. “It has been a good while since I’ve gotten the chance to put both of them to work like this. Finding treasure chests is most certainly not quite as intensive as this.”

“To be fair, I was the one that got to most of those treasure chests first,” Kirby recalled. “Man, those were pretty weird—I mean, I found some in a volcano, underwater, on the Halberd—” (Meta Knight muttered something under his breath; “We were on high-alert for intruders for a week…”) “—and somehow, they even got to space! It was the weirdest, you get me?”

“…space?” Doo repeated. She seemed fairly confused by what the Hero of the Stars was discussing. “And here I thought those Puzzle Pieces were something else…”

“As much as I would love to sit here and listen to you guys’ fascinating tales,” Susie drawled, a hint of something sarcastic to her voice, “we have business to take care of. If we’re only one-quarter of the way to our ultimate goal, than it is imperative than we get there as soon as we can, based on the information the mage here—” She pointed a thumb at Magolor, who waved back—“gave to us. Besides…” She warily glanced at the three open Warp Holes, all oozing with equal amounts of unpleasantness. “…I would rather not have those open any longer than they have to be.”

“Hmph. We agree on that front, at least,” Dark Meta Knight stated. He looked around the altar, his finely honed darkness detector ringing in his mind. (He was a denizen of the Mirror World; everyone there, at minimum, could sense negativity from several feet away.) “Something’s… different about this location, now,” he noted. “There is an air of… unmistakable change in the general vicinity.”

The fifteen other crew members (and four Helpers), intrigued, looked around—and indeed, the Divine Terminus had subtly transformed: a crimson tint colored all the structures surrounding the altar, and transcendently blue flowers had blossomed at the edges of the area. For a moment, the memory of the Hyper Zone transforming from black-and-blue to yellow with red-and-blue clouds midway through the fight with Zero came to Kirby’s mind. Knowing the Jambandra Cult and the nature of their ‘gods’… there’s more to this than what meets the eye. (It always works out that way.)

Poppy put a hand on his chin. “It—It’s a bit hard to see…” he admitted, “but… yeah, something does feel a little more ominous than before…”

“Hey,” Adeleine realized, “this place…! It looks like it does when we were fighting Morpho Knight! The color scheme’s the exact same!” Quickly, she summoned her easel and painted the scene of the altar pre-transformation, in order to properly compare between the scene before them. “L-Look here; it was a lot more blue the first time around, and now it’s completely red! I-I’m an artist, I can see that!”

“Ah!” Kawasaki snapped his fingers, despite the fact he didn’t really have fingers. “I get what you’re talking about! It’s like somebody accidentally added a bunch of spicy peppers to a previously tame bowl of noodles!” (Funny how you should say that, Kirby thought, thinking about a past incident involving the chef’s counterpart in Cappy Town. Guess you two are more alike than expected.)

“Hmm… Spooky, mates,” Rick commented. “Too bad Halloween was last month; it’d be great atmosphere otherwise.”

“Ain’t that charming?” Marx said, narrowing his eyes. “They’re really trying to live up to their reputation, eh?” He scoffed. “Tryhards. They have no idea what real villainy should be. I’ve got half a mind to really let ‘em have it for that!”

“Is that really what we should be focusing on?” Kine slowly deadpanned.

“Maybe not—but it’s fun! You have to admit that, at least!”

“…I can’t admit that, no. I’m not exactly a villainous individual, you see.”

“Phooey. You all stink, you know that?”

“If those are your standards for ‘we stink’, then that is a perfectly acceptable condition for us,” Dark Meta Knight stated.

Magolor brought out his 3DS and opened it up, the antenna sticking out of it spinning around wildly as the device scanned the altar around them. “There’s a strange reading I’m getting from this place,” he said. “It’s definitely that of Another Dimension, like before, but… somehow, it’s gotten worse than when we came in.” He frowned behind his mask. “That… really doesn’t bode well. If it’s able to do this to its surroundings in such a relatively short timeframe, then I can’t say I know what else it’ll be able to do.”

“Hmm… You said the whole dimension was unstable, correct?” Meta Knight recalled. “Perhaps this is a side-effect of what the Jambandra Cult has unleashed upon us. They have opened Pandora’s Box, so to speak, and now everything is suffering because of it. That means we must act fast, lest there be more devastation brought into the galaxy.”

“W-Well, th-that’s comforting…” Taranza bit his lip.

“D-Did you have to talk about it that way…?” Doo shifted in place. “Th-That sounds pretty scary…”

“Really? I thought it sounded like rotten food,” Gooey drooled.

“And rightfully so,” Coo grumbled. “Everything these Jambandra crazies do never fails to get on my nerves…” He brought his wings together, akin to somebody smashing a fist into their palm. “But I guess that’ll make their eventual beatdown even better!”

“Th-Then that means we need to step up our game,” Bandana Dee said. “We can’t let—let—all that happen to our home now!” He tightened his grasp around trusty spear, a resolute look holding steady in his features and eyes. “We’re already a quarter of the way there; we’ve just gotta keep this up, and we’ll save the galaxy before long! A-At least, th-that’s what I hope…”

Kirby smiled at his close friend. That’s the spirit, Dee! “In that case, we better get back to work!” he declared, spinning his weaponized yo-yo around in a rather large circle. He brought his gaze over to the remaining three Warp Holes, still floating around in the air. “We’ve already gotten a taste of Another Dimension for ourselves – so I hope you guys are ready to dive back in. It’s gonna be the largest dinner of our lives.”

The rest of the group looked to them as well; they swirled and rotated in place like stars in the night sky, each of them emitting that same aura of incredible darkness – and all three of them together only added exponentially to that effect. Marx and Dark Meta Knight both glared into the wormholes; their respective limbs shook with something resembling anticipation and determination. “It’s gonna be a heck of a dinner, then,” Marx remarked. He turned to his Vitriolic Best Bud and grinned. “Think you can last the whole way through? It’d be pretty terrible if you ‘got full’ halfway through and had to retreat~!”

The doppelganger warrior scoffed, raising his head and emanating a sense of smugness with his posture. “I would have to say much the same to you, jester. Do try and keep up… if you don’t drown yourself in those accursed balls first.”

“Hee hee hee—bring it, Darky.”

Daroach raised an eyebrow, taking out his Triple Star Rod and idly smacking it in his palm. “I don’t think you have any reason to fear,” he stated, a smile coming from seeing the aforementioned two interact. “We’ve all been prepared, on some level, from the day the Jamba Heart shards shot across the galaxy. We’ve seen the horrors within, and we’ll gladly face it again for the sake of our home.”

“That’s right!” Ribbon cheered. “What are we waiting for? Let’s get this done, together!”

“And besides—if this ‘meal’ ain’t up to our standards, then I suppose we’ll have to correct it our usual way,” Dedede joked. “Cook it with our special ‘techniques’ ‘til it’s absolutely perfect! …that’s probably not the way the metaphor works, but whatever!”

“Glad to hear it!” The puffball looked to the four Helpers awaiting orders. “Poppy, Leo, Doo, Kawasaki – the rest of us aren’t gonna be able to look over this fortress, so who knows what else’ll be happening here in the meantime. I’m gonna be trusting you guys to keep track of things, and organize all the other Helpers we end up bringing back from Another Dimension. That alright with you guys?”

The four Helpers jokingly saluted. “Gotcha!” they said simultaneously, Poppy adding on, “We’ll do our best! We’re Star Allies, after all!” He smiled, his party hat shuffling about atop his head. “We can’t do anything less!” With that, the squad of friends marched off and away from the Divine Terminus, making their way to the rest of the rest of the Jambandra Base in a relatively excited manner.

With that out of the way, Kirby turned his attention to the leftmost Warp Hole, briefly shooting his yo-yo toward it. “Over there’s gonna be our next destination, guys. Everyone in agreement?”

Fifteen Star Allies nodded in unison, same as last time.

“Perfect! Now c’mon guys, let’s show ‘em what we’re made of—again!” Once more, the combined group of sixteen hopped into the portal to Another Dimension – and so, the marathon began again.


Another Dimension
Dimension II

The celestial chaos that came packaged with Another Dimension was still a spectacular sight to see, all things considered. In another place and another time, it could be properly appreciated for its gorgeous amounts of scenery porn – but here and now, in the middle of a threat to the entire galaxy, that simply wasn’t an option. But amidst the levitating blocks and the technicolor environment, the Star Allies would find time to talk amongst themselves, come into their own as true companions of the highest order.

Taranza floated along as the Star Allies descended down the entrance elevator, the blocky pieces of land starting and stopping their descent at regular intervals. Nervously, he glanced around at all of his companions, each of them offering a snarky quip or a casual conversation toward the person that so happened to be closest to them.

“Hearts and sparks and so many arcs—there’s a lot of things going on right now!” Kirby remarked, a wide grin reaching his cheeks, his yo-yo practically flying all about. “There’s so much of it, we could have a full course meal with it and there’d still be plenty of leftovers!”

“And all the while, you would still be hungry for more even after the rest of us have long since been defeated by its enormity,” Meta Knight threw in his two cents. “Truly, your endurance for things know no bounds.”

“Um, why are we still using food metaphors for stuff like this?” Kine quizzically asked. “I like food as much as the next Star Ally, don’t get me wrong, but it… kind of starts sounding dumb after a while.”

“Yeah—not everything has to be food-related,” Ribbon stated.

“Pfft! Speak for yourself! I think it’s perfect! Food’s my secondary passion, after all!”

They… certainly seem like they’re having fun, he mused, even in this type of situation. He watched their smiles and smirks before looking down with a frown. …I wish I could really join in.

As much as the others were trying, there was no denying that Taranza was a bit of an outcast in this little community: he hadn’t joined in for the initial Jamba Heart crisis back in March; and unlike Magolor, he mostly kept to himself up in the islands of Floralia, with Kirby and Dedede serving as his only real forms of communication – and even friends – in relation to the lower world. Everyone else was so tight-knit already, it felt intrusive just to even hang around them.

Don’t get him wrong; a part of him did want to explore having friendships with everybody else. It had been a long time since he’d had words of kindness thrown his way It was just that—after what happened with Sectonia…

…even now, it was still hard to think about.

Do… Do I even deserve to—to have friends in the first place…? he wondered, looking rather somber. After what I’ve done… how can anyone want to be near me at all? (They may not know, but—s-surely, they suspect it, at least…)

“You’re the other new ‘recruit’ of sorts—Taranza, correct?” The spider jolted a little. Slowly, he turned his gaze around—and there was Susie, walking alongside him with a hand clasped over the other.

“O-Oh! Y-Yes, I—I am!” he stammered out. “Wh-Why do you ask…?”

It was hard not to be intimidated by Susie, what with her dynamic entrance and cold demeanor. Blunt, aloof, a fair bit technical at times – and that wasn’t even mentioning her status as CEO of a massive technological corporation. Taranza could best classify her as an incredibly daunting woman – and he had experience being around those type of people, depressingly enough. He had to physically fight to keep from crumbling under her gaze—never the most fun of things to do.

“I merely wanted to discuss business with you,” she said clinically, her eyes looking rather bored by the exchange. “Simply get an idea as to how you are holding up, given our current circumstances. It would be most troublesome if I were to have to lend this excavation my efforts while working under less than optimal conditions.”

Taranza twiddled his thumbs, laughing a little nervously after hearing that explanation. W-Wow… she—she r-really doesn’t pull her punches, huh…? “I—I’ve just been fine, th-thanks,” he replied, a hand rubbing the back of his head. “It’s been a bit chaotic, s-sure, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. We managed to take down that b-big guy before, didn’t we…?”

Sure, Taranza hadn’t had much in the way of combat prior to this current incident, and his teamwork skills was similarly just as undeveloped – but hey, they managed to take the guy down without any major issues! B-Boy, did that guy hit hard though… I’m glad everyone else was here—it wouldn’t have been very fun otherwise…

“Point made.” The two waited in silence as the Star Allies continued their trek back into the depths of Another Dimension. It was cleanly obvious that the arachnid was struggling to make any decent small talk, and Susie wasn’t exactly keen on assisting him with that. He shuffled about, eyes moving left and right.

This is, uhh… p-pretty awkward… Th-Then again, I guess she got all th-that she came here for, so it makes sense for her to j-just cut the conversation off right there…

…h-how long is she… j-just gonna stand there with me? S-Surely, there’s o-others more interesting than me to be around?

…okay, I—I should really just s-say something right now… Th-This is getting really uncomfortable…

“You’re one of those type of people, aren’t you? Someone who feels as though they’re responsible for something terrible – and as a result, it shapes their entire personality going forward.” Taranza’s head jerked toward Susie, a look of surprise etched on his face. “I suspect it is most closely related to the death of a loved one. Through indirect means, perhaps, and maybe not with the worst of intentions—but hard-impacting all the same.” There was noticeably something more meaningful being displayed in her expression, something he’d even label lightly as ‘understanding’, even. (But why would she—? I—I mean…! She—She wasn’t—She wasn’t the one accidentally killed off their only—!)

“Wh-Bu-I—” He rapidly began blubbering again, his brain not quite able to properly comprehend wherever it was the CEO had coming from. “You—How d-do you know th-that’s even true…?” he asked, his hands coming together and trembling in place. “Th-That’s not anything you can just—say to p-people out of the blue…!”

“If you put all the pieces together, it’s honestly not that difficult to figure out,” she stated. “It helps that I’ve interacted with a number of individuals who carry a similar standing to you, in my time doing business in the Gamble Galaxy. I know their traits.” She brought out an open hand and counted off on her fingers: “You exhibit regret. You’re hesitant to approach others. Your self-esteem is notably absent.” Every thing she listed off made Taranza flinch harder and harder. “…I see that resonates strongly with you.”

“…is it that obvious?” he muttered.

“You hide it rather well, actually,” Susie granted. “I imagine the loss wasn’t a recent affair. Just as my own wasn’t that long ago. That’s… why I wanted to talk to you.”

“…you lost somebody too? H-How? Wh-When?”

Susie hesitated to answer. “…it was two years ago,” she began to explain. “During a… certain incident involving my company and Kirby.” That sounds familiar, Taranza realized. “My father – the old CEO – was activating this old program, and—I didn’t like it, so I interrupted him.” She scowled. “Worst mistake I ever made. The accursed thing malfunctioned and took control of him, using him as a sort of vessel. There wasn’t any time to figure out any solution other than the immediate one, so—I lost him. Forever.” Her darkened eyes glared toward the ground. Her voice sounded bitter (and very pained) as she professed, “Things… just haven’t been the same since. And all I was really doing until now was… just going through the motions.”

She fell silent afterward, letting all that she relayed sink in. It wasn’t a very long explanation, nor did it go into too much detail – but it didn’t need to. Taranza was already sympathizing with her. And if she, for whatever reason, trusted him enough to talk about such an intensely personal topic…

“…I used to be the assistant to the former queen of Floralia,” he started to recall. “No, more than that—I was her best friend. She used to be excitable, adventurous, daring; she dragged me along a lot, but… I never minded it. When I was with her… I always felt like I could do anything.” Gradually, his tone became more wistful—“I wanted to get a gift for her one day, so I went out alone, for the first time. And I found a mirror.

“It seemed innocent—just a mirror, waiting for anyone to take it. But—it changed her. Made her into something she wasn’t: vain, obsessed, arrogant… it was if it was all her worst elements became all she was. And by the time I finally figured out what was wrong… it was too late for me to do anything about it.”

“A mirror, you say?” Susie noted. “Doesn’t Dark Meta Knight happened to use an excess of reflection-based techniques? I recognize a majority of them as derived from what Kirby uses with his Mirror ability, based on some old recordings I have from two years back.” Unsaid was how much he literally reflected Meta Knight, on more than just a skill-based level.

Taranza scowled. “Yeah. I noticed.” The fact that the mirror warrior was alive and able to be redeemed, able to stand alongside Kirby and the rest of the heroic Star Allies whereas Sectonia never got the chance… he hated to say it, but it honestly did weigh on his already-battered soul. Yes, Dark Meta Knight did help save the galaxy, and yes, he wasn’t the same person anymore as the corrupted, raving madman Dedede had described to him years earlier – but that didn’t change what seemed to him to be an absolutely unfair trade.

…and the worst part is that it’s all my fault, he dejectedly moped. And—and there’s n-nothing I can do about that. I have to live with it. I have to keep remembering this. Even if I wanted to try for a miracle, the way Kirby does; even if I want to head toward that bright light—I can’t. I just can’t. It’s impossible.

…I wish it wasn’t.

“…how come you’re even talking to me, anyway?” he asked. “I’m—I’m not the strongest, and I’m not the m-most worthy, either. W-Wouldn’t others here b-be a better choice…?”

“I don’t really know,” she surprisingly admitted. “A-Again, I’ve—I’ve just been going through the motions all this time, so… excuse me for my rather experimental actions at this moment. I… wanted to at least try reaching out to someone new. My father made the mistake of allowing himself few allies on his side.” She looked away. “And I know this now: you can’t fight without anyone by your side and call yourself fine.”

That… honestly resonated a lot with Taranza. After all, he himself had basically willingly isolated himself for the past four or so years – and everyone else was doing their best to befriend him, so…

…what could be the harm in trying to mend his shattered heart?

(It’d be what Sectonia—the real Sectonia, before her fall—would’ve wanted him to do. Kirby and Dedede, too.)

“I… I guess you’re right.” He decided to offer out a hand (of six) to Susie. “I’ll start here, then. Do—Do you wanna be friends, Susie?”

Susie, for all her philosophical talk, didn’t really know what to do with the outstretched flag of friendship at first – if Taranza didn’t know any better, he would’ve thought she was apprehensive as well – but eventually, she decided to take it.

She looked into his eyes. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Taranza. Let’s see where this new relationship of ours will go—shall we?”


Dimension II – First Hero Trial

Kirby had used a large variety of weapons over the past millennium: swords, cutters, bows, horns, bells, brooms; you name it, he’s probably handled it at some point. While he was pretty partial to swords and hammers himself – they were the two of the strongest and most versatile of his abilities; plus, Meta Knight and Dedede used them the most – he had to admit, the Staff ability had rapidly grown on him since he first acquired it.

It had a lot more utility than just being a glorified plastic stick – and no offense to Bandana Dee, he preferred it a lot more than using a spear. And I mean—who doesn’t love bouncing on it like a pogo stick? Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy—c-c’mon, you can’t say no to that! (Just like a strawberry shortcake!) Even Jammerjab learned to appreciate it, once they broke him off from his high horse.

Of course, this type of situation was not exactly what Kirby had in mind when the Hero Door gave him Staff… which is to say, half-panicking and hyper-focusing on trying not to slip face-first into a pile of Gordos. Atop a pool of water, in a cramped room. Amidst a slew of Glunks shooting at him.

Definitely his idea of a great time.

“This place has got some ridiculous challenges,” Kirby grumbled, his Zap-tipped staff in the middle of bending at an angle. He sprang upward, electricity dancing across the surface of the water, shocking a nearby Glunk into unconsciousness. “What kind of Friend Heart deserves this amount of dexterity—and Gordos? I’m beginning to miss the crazy balls of Waddle Dees already…” …and considering they were only an hour ago, that’s saying something!

There weren’t even just Glunks in the water; there were several situated on the ceiling, too, and they were all too happy to blast away at the crew. “I must share your sentiments on that,” Daroach said, kicking one off its place with a well-aimed ice beam. “There are a tad few too many of these aquatic creatures for my liking.” He briefly glanced toward the other two Star Allies in the room. “I trust you three are at least handling our current predicament well?”

Bandana Dee, frantically tossing his spears everywhere and basically jumping all about in the air… wasn’t quite able to say that. “N-N-N-Not really!” he shouted, narrowly avoiding a torrent of projectiles shot his way. “I—I think I’d l-like some help here, p-please!”

“On it!” Magolor warped into range, hoisting Bandana Dee onto his back (like Dedede was wont to do) and summoning a star-shaped black hole above him. Suffice to say, the Glunks nearby never stood a chance. “And that’s a few more debts repaid by yours truly.” He looked to the self-proclaimed ‘Assistant of the Stars’. “You doin’ okay, Dee?”

“Yes! I’m—I’m fine!” he replied. “Probably! Maybe! …okay, somewhat!”

“Good enough for me,” the wizard stated. He fired a few Magic Spheres around him, clearing out the area a little more. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Gooey floating in his Mock Matter form close to the wall of metal blocks at the end of the corridor. Every so often, he would expel bolts of purple lightning and take out a few unsuspecting Glunks, though exactly what he was supposed to be doing, Magolor couldn’t tell.

I suppose that’s Gooey for you… he thought.

A click indicated the activating of a switch nearby; sure enough, the bottom of Kirby’s staff was now situated right over where the telltale rim of a switch was. And based on the familiar sound of a few doors opening, that meant their way to the Friend Heart was clear. “Finally!” Kirby exclaimed, letting his makeshift pogo stick hop up and down in place. “That took longer than it needed to! Okay, guys—can one of you clear those metal blocks outta the way? I’d prefer if I hadn’t had to bounce around like a madman for nothing.”

“I w-wouldn’t call it ‘b-bouncing like a m-madman, myself…” Bandana Dee said. “You—You did pretty well, a-actually…”

“I will admit, that was a rather excellent show of athletics,” Daroach stated, twirling his signature cane in his hand. “Grounded though you may have been, it was certainly no easy feat to pull off.”

“Aw shucks, you guys are gonna make me blush! Well, harder than I usually do, anyway.”

Magolor’s attention turned to where Gooey was flying. His tongue seemed to be—of all the possible things it could be doing—licking the metal blocks, as if they were made of gravy instead of cold, hard material. “Mm,” his voice ‘shrugged’ in a Gooey-like way, “I don’t like the taste. It needs more flavor.” And then he stuck his tongue through the wall – and somehow, he managed to hit a Bomb Block and clear away the metal blocks, leaving only a set of doors behind where they used to be.

Magolor blinked. “…that ‘lil blob never fails to surprise me,” he commented.

“He always did play to the beat of his own drum,” Daroach supplied. “He’ll do it at a very off-tune octave and definitely not even at the same rhythm – but his efforts are commendable nevertheless. He steals everybody’s hearts just by existing with innocence.”

“Can’t argue with that—you wouldn’t believe how much Adeleine and Ribbon have to protect him.” Kirby bent his staff as far back as he could go and flung himself halfway across the pool of water, reaching the Friend Heart and barely managing to avoid crashing into the wall. The crew flew with him out of the cramped room and back on the way forward. “Friendship stuff aside,” he continued, “we should probably go catch up with everyone else. Hopefully, they shouldn’t have gotten too far ahead of us while we were busy.”

“That’d be rude of them,” Gooey pointed out, in his typical airheaded manner. “Friends aren’t rude. They’re just looking ahead, I think. Good friends help others look out for danger.”

“Speaking of everyone else… I wonder if they’ve encountered anything since we split up,” Magolor mused. “You never really know what you might find in Another Dimension. There was this one time I ran afoul of a humongous strawberry spider in its ‘treasury’…” He shuddered. “Lemme tell you—that wasn’t fun. And neither was the cleanup afterward.”

Daroach furrowed his eyebrows, and idly licked his lips. “…I won’t lie, I would want to see that for myself,” he confessed, “if only to steal whatever treasures it was guarding for myself.”

“If we ever encounter it again—and I do thoroughly hope we don’t—then you’ll get first crack at it. Preferably on the Lor. I’ve still got that miniature Lor to summon.”

“Yes, yes, I recall you summoning that during our clash with that boss from earlier. I would not be adverse to captaining it myself. Say…” The red-clad thief smirked. “…what’s the top speed of your little craft, anyway? If it’s anything like my own, I bet it’ll be a treat.”

“Oh, I’m glad you asked! Though it may be just a miniature rendition of my vessel, I can proudly say that its wings and propulsion systems work near identically to it!” The redeemed wizard and the treasure hunter proceeded to launch into a conversation all about ships and specifications and a boat-load of things that just flew over Bandana Dee’s head. I think my head’s spinning from all this techy mumbo-jumbo… We’re—We’re not gonna have a p-pop quiz over this stuff, a-are we?

“Disregarding the delicious-sounding-ness of that spider, I’m sure they’re fine!” Kirby proclaimed. “I mean—we’re the greatest heroes in the galaxy, and they’re literally a team of eleven right now. What could possibly be troubling them?”


Not too far away from Team Kirby…

“Let me just say this,” Dedede loudly grouched, his voice slightly muffled by the water (and the snorkel he was using), his hammer at work batting away a Mamanti from getting too close, “I. Hate. Fighting. Underwater.”

“I don’t get why it’s so problematic,” Kine said, very much in his element. Already, two poor Blippers had already become ice cubes floating toward the ceiling. “I get that water’s more of a relaxation device for you guys, but it really is an excellent environment for combat under the right conditions.”

Rick and—surprisingly enough—Coo nodded assent. “Yeah, mates,” the hamster said, briefly spitting a water-resistant fireball at a nearby Squishy. “Once you get used to it, it’s really not that bad!”

“Says you,” Marx grumbled, swimming out and snatching another Friend Heart that happened to be falling. “You two have spent NOVA knows how many hours playing ‘round in a lake or whatever—excuse us if we like to stay dry!”

“So declared by one who enjoys plunging the contents of water-logged containers into the faces of your slumbering allies,” Dark Meta Knight mumbled. “Repeatedly.”

“I suppose it is something of a blessing, then, that you are not alone in experiencing the… tremendous wonders of our favorite prankster,” Meta Knight stated, slashing away a different Mamanti who looked far too interested in the Friend Heart he himself was carrying. “Be them Star Ally, Cappy Town resident, or Ultimate student… hmm, those are certainly some wide-ranging categories. Perhaps a support group is in order.”

“That, I will agree with you on. Weekly meetings would be paramount.”

“Hey, hey, hey—what’s that sarcasm I’m sensing when you say ‘tremendous wonders’? You’re talking about me like I’m an epidemic!” Marx complained with a pout. “You should have more faith in me! I’m not thaaaat bad!”

“Yes, you are,” the two knights responded simultaneously.

“Can we please stay focused on our current targets!?” Susie yelled at them, her exasperated voice loud and clear despite the rather waterlogged environment. “We can have a fascinating debate about the merits of each other later!”

“Fine,” said three Star Allies, two resisting the urge to roll their eyes (and one who most certainly was indulging in said urge).

Under her breath, she muttered, “So unprofessional…” (But somehow, she felt right at home with them.)


[Rick]

Dimension II – Second Hero Trial

It’s a familiar routine, goin’ through this obstacle course. You’d think it wouldn’t be, considerin’ the huge gap between the second Dark Matter invasion and our last ‘venture back in March – but even so, I still remember those days fondly.

Adventures. There’s nobody in Dream Land who’ll complain about ‘em. Sure, the whole ‘big bad thing-a-ma-jig coming for our planet’ practically every time is a big bummer, but that doesn’t change how much of a blast they can be.

Even now, those old-fashioned instincts still come easily to me. Run forward and up and down and even backwards here and there, swap out with Kine and Coo whenever the situation calls for them, give these enemies a good stomping—or sizzling—whenever we need it… y’know, the works! I mean, it ain’t rocket science!

“C’mon, mates!” I grinned. Me, Kine, and Coo were currently takin’ the lead and swimming through yet another watery corridor. “We’ve got a whole dimension to get through, and plenty of those Friend Hearts to find!”

“We heard you the first time, buddy!” Dedede yelled back.

“And we’ll hear you the next few times after that,” Coo snarked, just like he always does. Awwwwthat’s our buddy for ya!

As I’ve grown accustomed to, there’s a bunch of stuff in our way: burning logs, walls of spikes, those squiddy guys – but it’s nothing we’re not able to handle! Like a well-oiled machine, we danced through all of ‘em – and hit a few switches I pointed out ‘long the way; experience tells me they probably do something to help us out.

“You know, mates… I’ve missed doin’ this,” I admitted, as we (ridin’ as a trio) swerved below to avoid smacking into a face full o’ spikes. “I kind of wish we hadn’t been absent for everything past Dark Matter.” I popped open a parasol in front of one of those squids, knocking him unconscious in an instant. “All this talk about other dimensions and saving the galaxy—it makes me wonder just how much crazy Kirby’s been through. You—You guys get me?”

“Pretty much. You’re not the only one thinking that,” Kine replied. “Here I was, content to believe Dark Matter and hostile robots were the worst we could see… and then we get this. It’s a bit whiplash-y… though I suppose it was always going to happen at some point.”

“We should’ve been there for ‘em,” Coo expressed. “We’re Kirby’s friends, after all! We shouldn’t be out of the fight entirely! If our friend needs us, we should always be there to beat whatever enemy he’s facing!”

…Coo’s got a point.

People in Dream Land, we’re naturally pretty sleepy (sometimes, in the literal sense). A lot of us prefer keep to ourselves, occasionally joining up with Kirby for a fun ‘lil friendship gathering. A lot of us Dream Friends have stayed out of Kirby’s journeys for the most part, ‘cause he’s usually been enough to save Pop Star from its crises.

That’s long since changed.

This wild ride of ours… how does Kirby go through this type of thing almost every year, alone or accompanied by few of his friends? Does he ever wish we were around to ease whatever loneliness he might have—because I know for sure I wouldn’t want to be without Kine and Coo?

…maybe I should think about that later.

“Nothin’ we can do about it now, mates,” I said, a little more solemnly than I liked. “Let’s just keep goin’.”

In any case, we soon managed to reach the end of the tunnel, surfacing to see one of those one-way platforms right above us. Coo flew me and Kine upward where we could see two routes: a left route cordoned off by a column of ice blocks, and a right route free of any of that hogwash. It took me and the crew approximately five seconds to figure out where all the collectibles were. (Again, old-fashioned instincts at work.)

Without hesitation, we began trekking to the left. The usual business resumed: Kine took care of stray enemies, I burnt down all those blocks of ice, and Coo flew in and grabbed any nearby food or trinkets he could get his fins on. And all the while—wouldn’t you know it—our favorite pink puffball joined us on our way, giving some other wandering foes a good poke with his ‘lil staff.

“Twenty-five years sure flies by when you’re making friends and having fun with friends,” Kirby commented, tossing his staff up and down in the air. Coo and Kine were ahead, letting us have a simple conversation together. “When I first landed on Pop Star, I couldn’t have ever imagined something like this happening. So many friends here, all for the sake of our shared galaxy… it’s almost like a miracle in three dimensions, really.”

“Fun way to put it, Kirby,” I replied. “Wouldn’t be the first ‘miracle’ you’ve helped put together. Blimey, it’s not even the first time you’ve helped others become better friends.” All I need to do is look around and see the influence of our three ‘newest’ guys for proof of that.

“When you’re shaped like a friend, things like that tend to just kind of… happen!” he casually dismissed. “It’s what I live for. It’s what I’ll fight for.” He twirled his staff some more with his eyes closed.

“…y’know, you’ve always found a way to be pretty chill about ‘ventures like these,” I stated. “Like—even when you were all serious at the beginning, here you are, happy and stoked. It’s really somethin’ else!”

“It helps that I’ve got the whole squad here this time. The crew members I know best, across the galaxy and even across dimensions… it makes me wish everyone at Cappy Town could see us now.”

Right, the crew back at Cappy Town – the villagers and our alternate selves, plus the sixteen Ultimates we’ve befriended. I found myself smiling, remembering them. Sure, they’ve been at the center of some of the craziest events to happen to us – but even so, I can’t help but feel fond over them.

I still remember when Kirumi and Ryoma first appeared—the latter in our Great Forest, the former after being dropped off by Meta Knight. ‘Twas kind of bonkers, if I’m being honest: I mean, people randomly showing up without warning? That’s weird, even by Dream Land standards. But in spite of that, they’ve become pretty good friends of ours – they may be somewhat quiet, but that’s alright with me. Peace and quiet’s a thing we tend to appreciate ‘round here.

Same thing with our Cappy Town counterparts. You’d think interacting with a guy who’s basically the same as you would be a most bizarre experience – but it’s not that bad, honestly. They haven’t gone through as much as we have, but they’re still fun to hang around. Other me’s like the brother I never knew I had – ain’t that saying something?

Man, if only everybody knew about the quest we were undertaking…

“…thinking about their smiles gives me strength,” Kirby suddenly said, after a little bit. “Sure, it gets a little lonely sometimes, and it’s not fun and games all the time on Pop Star. But…” He stopped spinning his staff, instead holding it out like a hand reaching out. “…then I remember all that I’m fighting for, and all my fears fade away.” He glanced at me. “You were probably wondering about that, weren’t you?”

E-Eh!? “W-Well,” I said, scratching the back of my head, “I—I can’t say I wasn’t, n-no—”

Kirby laughed. “Oh come on, I could see it in your face from a mile away. And that’s okay! It’s only natural to be worried over your friends. I’d be in the same position if it was me having to watch from the sidelines.” He smiled. “I don’t blame you for ‘not being there’ or anything. I want you guys to be happy, above all else. I think that’s something everybody would want for their friends—right?”

…and there he goes again, doing what he does best: showing us the power of friendship.

That’s why we like him, really.

Y’know, it’s been a huge year for us. From big Cake Royales to galaxy-wide adventures to even a whole different Dream Land – our world’s changing, and though there’ll always be a place for us to just relax and take a nap, we can’t look away from danger anymore. (Not like we were the type of people to do that in the first place.) And you know what? That’s okay. I think we’re all ready for a bit of change – and we’ll gladly the chance to team up again with our adventuring buddies.

‘Sides, we’ve got plenty of friends to look out for too. Pick, Mine, Chuchu, Pitch, Nago, even Kirumi and Ryoma… they’d all want us to fight on, even if they couldn’t be there to lend a hand themselves. Everyone else here feels the same way, I know that. It doesn’t matter that we’ve sat out the previous dozen-or-so adventures – what matters is that we’re here, and we’re willing to give this our best shot. We’re united now, more than we’ve ever been before, and with everyone else lifting us higher – well mates, I can tell you these religious hooligans won’t ever see it comin’.

That’s how Kirby’s operated since forever, and that’s how the Star Allies’ll operate as well. Our favorite puffball’s really influenced us in that way, and I can’t say I don’t like how everything’s turned out at this point. So long as he stays friendly and I stay at our side, I think everything’ll be just ripper. Sure, I’m not as amazing a fighter as, say, Daroach or Susie, but who says I need to be? I’m Kirby’s friend, and that’s all he needs me to be!

“You’re right, mate!” I exclaimed. “Strewth, you always know what to do in a situation like this.” I scratched my fur a little. “Well, ‘nuff chattin’—I should catch back up with my other mates. Leaders can’t do everything by themselves, y’know!”

“That’s fine with me. Whatever you feel is right, I’ll stand by it!”

With my resolutions restored, I marched on back to my two best friends, who were over at the end of this corridor in front of this treasure chest. Whatever comes up ahead after this… I know it’ll be a real rage for us.


[N/A]

There was a door.

There was a door, several feet off the ground.

There was a door, several feet off the ground, above an alcove.

There was a door, several feet off the ground, above an alcove, with no visible platform to get to it.

And the best part was…

Right below it just so happened to be several sharp-looking spikes orbiting an elevated piece of land.

And unfortunately, said piece of land was still too far away from the aforementioned door to be of any help.

(It should be mentioned that the Star Allies had already re-befriended the NESP hanging nearby.)

Kirby—and most of the other Star Allies—had experienced puzzles that required the usage of a key to open a locked door before. It had become a regular thing to see as of late; if there wasn’t a door by the time they reached the second ‘level’ of an adventure, then something was clearly wrong.

But none of that experience – not even the Friend Bridge dilemma involving keys and a veritable avalanche of Waddle Dees literally a dimension prior – could help them deal with this.

“Well, this just sucks,” Rick succinctly summarized the situation. The key for the door lay on the ground in front of him as he stared upward at what was assuredly impossibility incarnate.

“I couldn’t have put it any better myself,” Kine added.

“Clearly, this place is taunting us,” Coo griped. “It’s right there! The confounded contraption is plainly visible to all our eyes and yet—it is impossible to get to! That’s—that’s simply—hogwash! Absolute hogwash!”

Experimentally, Ceri the NESP brought up her hand, and attempted to use PK Shift on the door. It didn’t work. “Okay,” she said cheerfully, “I’m outta ideas.”

“THAT-DIDN’T-TAKE-LONG,” Gim snarked, spinning his yo-yo around. “YOUR-‘MAGIC’-CLEARLY-NEEDS-WORK. MAYBE-YOU-SHOULD-TRY-GOING-TO-MAGIC-SCHOOL-OR-SOMETHING.”

“Hee hee hee…” Ceri giggled creepily. “You sound like you want to be a test subject for my studies. Shall I grant such a request?”

“Calm down, guys,” Kirby tried to soothe the crowd. “I’m sure there’s a solution to this… admittedly mind-bending puzzle. We just gotta think a little bit, that’s all!”

“That might be a problem for at least half of us here, then,” Susie drawled. (“Hey!” shouted a number of Star Allies in response.) “Is there a reason why we can’t just fly up to the door with the key in hand? Many of us are quite capable of doing that, be it with wings or simply hovering.”

“It’s… not that easy, mate,” Rick slowly said.

“Unfortunately, he’s right,” Coo grumbled. “These blasted keys disable flight if you’re even holding ‘em! I’d love to carry it with my claws, but it’s just impossible!”

“You wouldn’t believe how troublesome that factor was,” Meta Knight stated, recalling images from the ‘Lor Reconstruction’ quest in his mind. “The Ancients had a twisted sense of humor, it seems. Making tools only able to be held by hand and grounding its carriers in the process… it is truly an exercise in excessive uselessness.”

The CEO scoffed. “That can’t be right. You must be exaggerating. Such a key surely can’t exist, even in Another Dimension.” Intent on proving the knight wrong, Susie grabbed the key and whipped out her Transporter. The rotors on top of the flying device spun around for a moment… before unceremoniously spluttering and promptly coming to a halt.

“…huh?” she said dumbly. She brought the Transporter in front of her, seemingly trying to comprehend what just happened—and then she proceeded to whack it with a wrench several times. (Not even seasoned creators of technology are immune from using percussive maintenance, I see, Meta Knight noticed.)

“You can’t be breaking down now!” she hissed. “I gave you an update to your systems last week! I personally saw to your bug-testing back at the facility! Get back to work already!”

Adeleine walked up to Susie and moved the key a fair distance away from her. All of a sudden, the blades of her Transporter suddenly ‘got back to work’, as she commanded it to do. The former secretary flitted her eyes back and forth between it and the key.

She took the key in her hand.

The Transporter stopped working.

She put the key down.

The Transporter started whirring again.

She repeated this process a couple more times.

The exact same result occurred.

“…what,” she finally said.

“Yeah, keys are weird,” the artist said, a sheepish smile on her face. “You’re not the first one to be like that about ‘em.”

“No kidding,” Ribbon muttered, annoyed. “I can’t carry them at all – or pick up Addie while she’s carrying one!” She frowned. “I don’t like it. I’m a fairy! If I can’t fly, then there’s not a whole lot I can do!”

Susie stared blankly at the fairy for a bit before throwing her hands up in the air. “Fine. Fine!” she groused. “I don’t even know why I’m surprised anymore. What else can this insane obstacle of a place throw at us?”

“It can throw us a bone,” Gooey randomly said. “Sometimes I hear people say stuff should do that more often. So maybe this place will do that.”

A brief silence aired through the area, as was wont to happen in the blob’s presence. Susie buried her face into her palms, her whispered grievances too low a volume for anyone to hear.

“That is… farfetched, to say the least,” Dark Meta Knight replied.

“If it was willing to do that, we wouldn’t have gotten Parallel Woods as a boss fight,” Dedede opined.

“IT-IS-DISAPPOINTING,” Gim intoned, “HOW-SIMPLE-LOGIC-FALLS-TO-SUCH-SAD-PARLOR-TRICKS. I-WOULD-DOCUMENT-THIS-IN-MY-MEMORY-BANKS, IF-I-WEREN’T-SO-INSULTED.”

“And I’m insulted by your insistence on ignoring almost anything mystic,” Ceri griped quietly.

“Back to business,” Kine sighed. “Anything will go, I suppose.”

And so the suggestions continued. “We could try painting a cannon, like we did before,” Ribbon tried. “Shoot the key all the way to the door. So long as it gets there, it shouldn’t matter how it does!”

Adeleine shook her head. “My paintings are a bit too limited for that,” she refuted. To demonstrate, she drew a Waddle Dee and sent it toward the key on the ground. No matter what it did, it didn’t seem to affect the key in any way. “They can attack enemies, and I can ride ‘em, but they’re not so good at interacting with objects.”

“I wish they were,” Marx bemoaned. “There are just so many opportunities for prank setups otherwise…”

“O-Okay,” Bandana Dee interjected, “h-how about we stack together a-and carefully balance toward the door? I—I think we’ve—we’ve got enough room t-to do it…”

“It… It could be done,” Kirby replied, “but…”

“…we’re more coordinated in battle than we are in athletics,” Magolor finished for him. “In addition…” He looked up at the missing clifftop; it was vertically quite the distance away. And there were still the spikes to worry about. “…we’d run the risk of stumbling and destroying the key entirely. Which… wouldn’t be good. At all.”

“It’s still an actual idea, though,” Dedede said. “Probably our best one right now.”

“Me, Kine, and Coo have enough experience in stackin’ up to give it a shot, anyway,” Rick shrugged. “We’d just need maybe a couple other dudes to join us and we’d be golden.”

“I’d be more than willing to do it,” Ceri volunteered immediately. “I haven’t gotten a chance to practice using my ESP while keeping my balance on somebody else… Hee hee…”

“O-Okay,” Taranza stammered, officially creeped out, “do—do we have a-any other ideas? Ideas th-that don’t involve c-creepy magic girls?”

Just then, a ball of ESP inexplicably exploded close to where the Star Allies were standing. They jumped and instantly turned to look at their resident psychic girl. As unnerving as she could be, she had the sense of mind to hold her hands up in the air and say, “That wasn’t me. I have better control than that.”

The sound of PK Shift charging up got them to move their eyes toward the platform surrounded by spikes – and lo and behold, there was another NESP floating right above it, clearly hostile to the group. “Ha ha!” he melodramatically declared. (Not all NESPs acted the same, like how not all puffball had the same abilities.) “You all have fallen into my trap! I will defeat you interlopers, here and now, and reap all the rewards for my masters—!”

That was as far as he got before he was blasted with an ice beam, courtesy of Daroach. (Ceri shivered. That was ruthless, even by her standards.) “So, enemies respawn even here,” he noted, putting away his cane about as quickly as he had whipped it out. “I suppose we will have to keep that in mind as we continue onward.”

The eyes of Rick, Kine, and Coo visibly lit up with these words, the gears in their brains beginning to rotate at a faster rate than before. Their gazes gradually turned toward each other, and a wicked smile soon sprouted on each of their mouths. Just what we needed, mates, the hamster thought.

“Teleportation was always really fun to do,” Marx recalled; by this point, the majority of the Star Allies were huddled together again, with the Animal Trio allowing themselves to sink into the background. Just for show, the jester disappeared and reappeared several times, a joyous grin hanging off his cheeks as the likes of Gim and Taranza struggled to keep track of him. “I could teleport all day and never get tired of it. So maybe we should teleport the key into the door! Like Mags here would teleport lasers into portals!”

“I’m beginning to regret telling you about that.”

Ceri suddenly looked far more interested in the conversation.

(In the background, the Animal Trio had backed away a fair distance away from the ‘spike pit of collectible doom’, as more playful minds would call it. Kine’s back was to his two friends, a plunger propped out of his mouth to defend against any would-be attackers. Rick and Coo, notably, looked to have a plan already figured out in their minds.)

“If the key is warded against any and all forms of flight,” Daroach began, “then warping is likely out of the question as well. Though I myself have experience in using magic, as does our wizard friend—” Magolor nodded, in acknowledgement—“I do not believe either of us can use it so effectively as to break time and space wide open.”

“It’d probably just add to our already existing problems,” Dedede said. And I see enough teleport spamming out of Soul Bosses as it is, he thought. A moment passed, and then he added, “Not like these Friend Hearts aren’t already enough of a headache for us…”

“Alas, these Friend Hearts are too vital to ignore,” Meta Knight half-lamented. “But you know we’d gladly hunt for them, again and again. They’re important for Kirby, after all.”

“You’ve—You’ve got th-that right!” Bandana Dee proclaimed.

(The plan was remarkably simple, once they remembered and often forgotten trait of Rick’s admittedly large feet. And of course, Star Allies being Star Allies, there was no way they couldn’t go through with it without a little flair to spice things up. Even Kine, as calm and composed as he often was, couldn’t wait to see the result of this next act.)

“Awwww,” Kirby rubbed the back of his head, his blushes becoming a little more red. “Thanks, guys! You really know how to make a guy blush.”

“AMUSING-AFFECTIONS-ASIDE,” Gim spoke up, “WE-STILL-REQUIRE-A-SOLUTION-TO-OUR-CONUNDRUM. I-REQUEST-A-CONSENUS-TO-BE-MADE-BEFORE-I-DECIDE-IT-FOR-YOU-ALL.”

“Maybe one of us could just… throw the key really hard?” Adeleine suggested, a hand beneath her chin. “And we have a bunch of us waiting beneath the door in case the key ends up dropping?”

(All the Animal Trio needed to do now was wait for that devout NESP to warp back into the scene. Coo jumped onto Rick’s back while Kine carefully positioned himself behind the two. It felt kind of ironic to Coo, honestly, considering what he had ended up pulling off the previous dimension. I guess that just goes to show how great my ideas are! he internally beamed.)

The fourteen other Star Allies in the huddle considered that idea for a couple moments. Then Kirby did his best impression of a shrug and decided, “Well, we’ve gotta try something eventually. So sure, let’s do this!”

“I refuse to be standing in front of this door any longer than necessary,” Dark Meta Knight said. “If, in some way, this method allows us to finally progress further into this dimension, then at the very least, it is a method worth my consideration.”

“What Darky said, minus all that fancy fluff,” Marx chimed in. “Now, how about we key in our success already?” He flamboyantly spun on his feet to where the key should’ve been, only to find empty air. “…eh? Did we get pranked while I wasn’t looking?”

Out of the blue, a very familiar curling stone bearing Rick’s face shot forward, straight toward the spike pit of collectible doom. Fifteen faces watched in varying degrees of awe and interest as Coo—riding atop the unorthodox vehicle—somehow managed to lift Rick up with the help of a parasol and send him flying. Rick returned to normal as he soared, hopping off a conveniently placed ball of energy from the returned NESP (who was also gawking in shock), then the NESP himself, and finally—he reached the door itself.

It became unlocked at last.

The tan hamster comfortably landed inside the newly opened corridor and picked up the three Friend Hearts waiting within. “Well mates,” he exclaimed to everyone else, “it’s done! Wasn’t that an ace performance, or what?”

Another brief silence passed between the group.

Marx was the first to break it. “…wow,” he said. “Y’know, when I said ‘do it again, but better,’ I wasn’t expecting you to actually take my advice.” The grin he had before returned in full force. “I should start giving advice more often!”

The remaining Star Allies gathered had various reactions to the ‘ace performance’: Gooey obliviously tilted back and forth; Susie loudly groaned in exasperation; Dedede, Meta Knight, and Bandana Dee just looked confuddled; Daroach had an approving expression. And as for verbal responses…

Ribbon looked disappointed. “I wanted to ride a flying rock this time…” she quietly said. She sat on Adeleine’s shoulder, crossed her arms, and pouted. (It was a rather petulant act, sure, but—Hey, it was cool! she  She could be forgiven after missing out twice, right?)

“Don’t worry, Ribbon,” the artist soothed her best friend, “you’ll get a chance after we finish this whole adventure. I guarantee that.”

“Okay, Addie… You better make sure Rick and Gooey make it happen, alright? I don’t wanna miss out on it again!”

“ERROR,” Gim suddenly announced. “ERROR. PLAYING-BACK-RECENT-FOOTAGE. ATTEMPTING-TO-ANALYZE-RECENT-EVENTS. CURRENT-VERDICT: WHAT-IN-NOVA’S-NAME-JUST-HAPPENED.”

Ceri looked vindictive. “How’s that fancy tech of yours doing for you there? Can’t match up to the mystic arts, right? Hee hee hee…”

Overall? It wasn’t too bad a scene. “See, guys? I told you we’d find a way to win this!” Kirby grinned. “Let’s give it up for our temporary leaders, everyone! WOO!” He tossed his staff in the air again—and accidentally let it bonk him in the head. “Yowch! Gotta be more careful there…”

Coo preened proudly. “Beautiful, ain’t it? We’ve still got it! I bet you thought we couldn’t do it—but we did! Ha ha, take that!”

“You don’t need to go that far, but… I won’t dispute that it is something worth celebrating, at least a little,” Kine said, smiling.


Dimension II – Third Hero Trial

It took approximately twenty seconds into Marx’s stint as Hero Trial lead for him to actually get serious.

This wasn’t because he was temporarily in command and he understood the consequences for failure (though he definitely wouldn’t argue the latter) – it was because he had ended up kicking a ball into a random Bomb Block first thing and had a piece of land come crashing to the ground. The poor Blipper sacrificed in the process would… probably be missed. Probably.

Marx had shuddered – actually shuddered – upon seeing it happen. Whatever jokes and aggravations he had immediately fell by the wayside as a result. (It was easy to forget the danger of Another Dimension when you could find time to have fun with your friends.)

In any case, none of the Star Allies wanted to become street paste by random falling fragments from the sky. They were too big to move, and it was too much of a risk to rely on the sporadically-appearing Dream Rod in the case of reviving any Dream Friends. So that necessitated some more careful planning.

The lead jester warily looked up; a very thin layer of metal blocks was the only thing stopping another glorified crusher from falling. He spawned a watery beach ball beneath his feet and tentatively kicked it toward the Bomb Block at the wall. It exploded, and so did the rest of the metal blocks connected to it. Before too long, the terrain came careening down, its impact compounded with a heavy thud.

“I… don’t like this,” Marx confessed, biting his lip. “This whole place is a hazardous nightmare. There’s evil—and then there’s monstrously evil.” He popped off another ball and tossed it at the Driblee that had descended with the platform. “This is so clearly the latter type that it’s not even funny.”

“Are those second thoughts I’m hearing from you, Marx?” Dark Meta Knight inquired. “Not that I don’t agree with you, but last I checked, you were not the type to so cautiously tread forward in this manner.”

“Maybe I’m just putting on this front as façade for comedic effect,” the clown suggested, though his heart wasn’t in it – the mirror swordsman could tell, based on his more quieter tones.

He hummed. “That is a lie, and you are more than aware of it.”

“…guess I’m not the only one good at reading people ‘round here.” Marx spread out his wings and ascended, gesturing for his Vitriolic Best Bud to follow. Several flaps of the dark knight’s black and tattered wings later, the two moved on to the next floor of the makeshift tower, everyone else following in suit.

“I think about my own death, sometimes,” he continued. “About drifting in space in a virtual coma for something like twelve years. I dunno about you, but—that really taught me a lot about… that type of stuff.” (Remarkable use of language, Dark Meta Knight commented internally.) “If—If there’s even a chance of—of anyone here having to go through something similar…” Dark Meta Knight didn’t miss how his friend-slash-irritating-pest’s eyes briefly shot toward the piece of now-elevated land. “I… don’t think I’d react well. Not after everything.”

There was something far more insecure in Marx’s expression, he could see. For somebody who relished in prodding through trickery as many people as he could, and generally being a rather noisy nuisance, it was a foreign sight to witness. And it was only here, at the front of the lines, with an ally who he had somehow gotten close to, where he was letting his previously-understated nervousness leak through. That spoke wonders of how much he trusted him.

“Buuuuuuuuut—that’s not something you need to worry about, Darky!” …he is certainly doing his best to conceal it in spite of that, though. “I’m a big boy, I know how to take care of myself! And I’m sure you are, too! You wouldn’t end up beneath one of these things, after all!”

“Of course not. It would be unacceptable if I succumbed to such an embarrassing fate. The same applies to the rest of our companions, I believe – the ones you seem to be immensely concerned for.” Marx shifted his eyes away as he kicked a ball toward another Bomb Block—mercilessly, one that only dropped three Rockies onto the scene. “Amusing – I distinctly remember you telling me to ‘have more faith in you’, and yet here I am, convincing you of the same thing. You are not so careless as to spell the doom of the Star Allies. In that regard, these crushers should not be unnerving you so deeply.”

“Hey, they doooooon’t,” Marx unconvincingly lied.

“You would not be conversing with me like this if that was true.”

“…okay, they do.” Blowing up the trio of Rockies with a ball bomb, he continued, “It’s—It’s a lot of responsibility to handle. And I’m… not responsible. At all.”

“I believe you are responsible enough to handle this. As do all of us.” As they waltzed on over to the nearby ladder, Dark Meta Knight concluded by saying, “You and I are both more than capable of rising above our own faults – you yourself, however intentionally or not, taught that fact to me. Peasant though you may be, you are also my—our proud trickster. Do not let this challenge get the better of you.” He began to arise once more, leaving Marx there to contemplate his words.

He smiled. “…y’know, I think I’ve really gotten through to him,” he said, his luster returning to him. “He’s right. I should be more confident ‘bout this, crushers or not! I’m the Ultimate Jester of the Gamble Galaxy, after all! Hahahahaha!” And with that, he shot off into the sky, following his sort-of best friend.

(“…is anyone here going to inform those two we could hear their conversation perfectly clearly?” Susie wondered, an eyebrow duly raised.

“Nah!” Kirby instantly replied. “They’re enjoying themselves, so we should just let them be!”

“Yeah! It’s cute!” Adeleine collaborated. “And if you wanna disturb it, you’re gonna have to go through us!” Ribbon nodded in unison with her.

Susie’s eyes noted both their determined expressions – and the way the former was holding her paintbrush. “…very well. I will just watch from the sidelines, then.”)


Dedede grit his teeth as he dove out of the way of an incoming Bugzzy EX. “More EX Mid-Bosses, huh…!?” he hissed. “Only good thing ‘bout this guy is that he’s not a big bad boss!” Though that’s not saying much!

The Bugzzy flew far, reaching Bandana Dee on the other side of the room. “E-Eep!” yelped the self-proclaimed ‘Assistant of the Stars’. The poor boy panicked and started flinging spears at the mid-boss in rapid succession. And while they did damage him… they didn’t really do much to deter him from attacking.

The master of the Suplex ability promptly grabbed him and threw him at the wall. “Ow-wow-wow-wow-wow—!”

“Dee!” Dedede exclaimed. How dare you target my precious assistant…!

“Don’t worry, I got this!” Kirby charged in—adorned with the Water ability, this time—and sent a whole wave of water washing over the oversized bug. It didn’t take him long to reach his friend and hoist him onto his back.

Phew! Now that that’s done… Dedede flung himself back into the fray, bringing down his hammer hard on Bugzzy’s head. In response, the wrestler (or rather, wrestling fan) jumped high and started repeatedly slamming into the ground, intending to crash into the regent. He braced himself with his hammer—and took one of the hits head-on. “Man,” he said, being pushed backward, “you’re even tougher than before! What the heck have you been eating!?”

Being more of a construct than an actual living being, the enemy Bugzzy huffed and glowered into his opponent’s eyes. He crouched and promptly summoned a pack of Bugzzy Jr.’s onto the scene.

“…based on how quiet you’re being, I’mmm gonna guess it wasn’t Superspicy Curry.” And that was how Dedede had to fight off a swarm of fast-moving angered ladybugs with just his mallet.

Amidst the sounds of battle up top, Dedede could also hear the rest of the Star Allies—Marx included—shuffling below in the water. Marx’s voice came to the surface: “C’mon, guys! I can hear the Friend Heart coming down this way!”

“Th-There’s a lot of e-enemies here, though!” Taranza’s voice echoed back. “D-Does—Does anybody know what’s with the giant whale!?”

“Addie and I do!” Ribbon replied. “Long story, but I dunno how he got here either!”

“That doesn’t matter!” Meta Knight barked. “He is assaulting us; we must keep retaliating in kind!”

“You know,” Dedede grunted, swatting away the bugs, “when I think about it… you’re not… doing a very good job… of trying to stop us…! I mean—everyone else… is kind of below us as we speak…” He shot a tired but cocky smirk at his foe. “Really, all you are is just a glorified distraction!”

Bugzzy could best be described as ‘officially ticked off’ now. He rose into the sky and started divekicking toward Dedede – only to be intercepted by Kirby pulling off Rainbow Rain right in his face (“Woo-hoo!” was his joyous cry), accompanied by Bandana Dee unleashing a series of thrusts with his water-tipped spear. “T-Take that!” the latter exclaimed. “I’m—I’m not just a pretty face, s-see!?”

Dedede’s mouth tipped upward. “That’s my boy!” he said warmly.

The EX Mid-Boss hopped back a few steps, venomously glaring at the reestablished trio. It was clear he wasn’t pleased by this change in circumstances.

“This takes me back,” Kirby casually stated. “It’s you two and me against a guy from Another Dimension who really doesn’t like us. All we need is Meta Knight and the whole gang’s complete!”

“I can’t believe how long ago that was…” Bandana Dee muttered. “We’ve—We’ve come so far, h-huh? I d-don’t think I could’ve ever imagined us being here like this…”

“Neither did I a few hours ago, but life just loves to prove us wrong,” Dedede responded. “I’m starting to wonder if we should start a betting pool for this type of stuff. The one we did for Shuichi and Kaede’s relationship worked pretty well!”

“I call for fighting Void Soul Soul next True Arena,” the puffball jokingly put forward.

“I wouldn’t consider it out of the question to have another battle tournament or something in our future,” Dedede offered.

“M-Maybe we’ll visit a b-bunch more dimensions, like with that Ultimate Academy place…” Bandana Dee mentioned.

The sounds of pincers clashing alerted the three Star Allies to Bugzzy getting ready to perform a Turbo Dash Grab, a horde of more Bugzzy Jr.’s buzzing right behind him. “Looks like we’ll have to place our bets later,” Dedede said, his hammer once more slung over his shoulder. “I think this guy’s been standing long enough!”

“True that,” Kirby agreed. The waves on his crown seemed to twirl at an excited pace. “Let’s show ‘em what for!”

“Yeah! Together!” Bandana Dee rallied, his spear pointed directly at the sky.


[Gooey]

Dimension II – Fourth Hero Trial

My name is Gooey. I like being Gooey. Gooey is Gooey.

Gooey is a friend, and a friend is me.

Are you a friend, too?

Yes? That’s good. Friendship is nice. I like having more friends. Kirby says more friends are good, so it must be true.

Can I be your friend? You look like you could use a friend.

Thank you. I’ve made a new friend today!

Let’s talk. How are you today?

Oh, that’s good.

Today for me is okay. We’re in this dimension place trying to save the galaxy, I think. It sounds kind of dangerous, but if everyone’s here, we should be okay.

Oh, right – everyone is here, too. There’s Ado and Ribbon and Kirby and Dee and Marx and Dark Meta and everyone. There’s also that robot-making lady from two years ago. There’s lots of people today helping us and each other. We’re all becoming better friends and I think it’s very nice.

I don’t really understand everything that’s going on. This place feels weird and chaos-y and kind of like Dark Matter from before. There’s these really strong bad guys that want to stop us from being friends, I think. We also keep finding these heart thingies that Kirby likes to use. There’s a lot of stuff happening – but I guess it’s alright. We just need to ‘do our thing’ and then it’ll all stop being a problem.

That’s what usually happens in Dream Land.

You think it’s good too, right? That’s good. Everyone deserves to be happy and to eat food. I like eating. Fish is yummy. So are apples. All foods are good for your soul. Food helps you do a lot of things – like make friends. Nobody can say no to eating a good lunch.

Unless you’re a very bad person. I hope you’re not a very bad person.

The Ultimate kids weren’t very bad though – so you shouldn’t be. I like it that way. You should like it that way, too.

You do?

Then… I think I like you.

What am I doing right now? Oh, I’m helping to explore this place that ‘only I can take the lead on’—that’s what Ado says. (Ado’s a good friend of mine. I like the way she makes food. And she’s cute when she smiles. Her face goes red when I say that to her though; I don’t know why.)

There are wood stumps and burning wood here, but it’s easy to take care of them. You just need to turn into a rock and use an umbrella. This makes the floor go up. I don’t know why, but my friends think it’s a good thing, so I feel nice for doing it. We even get some of Kirby’s pink hearts. They taste like friendship. Like those fancy doors taste like doors. I should try more stuff in here. They don’t taste bad.

We go up and up and up. There’s even a ladder for everyone else to climb. Everyone looks like they’re having a lot of fun. They’re laughing and talking and jumping and drawing and lots of friendly things. It makes me happy to see my friends being good friends. Even if some of them were bad guys before, Kirby says everybody can be a friend if they really try – so it’s good for the whole world.

It’s a good thing to believe in that. You should, too. No matter where you are or what you’ve been, that’s a thing that will never change. That’s Kirby’s motto.

…what about me? Mmm…

I’m not sure if I can tell you, but I can try.

I don’t remember anything from before Dream Land. I woke up one day. Then, I became hungry. So I walked to some water and ate some fish. They were some very delicious fish. Those were the first foods I ever tasted. That’s why I like to fish a lot. It’s relaxing, and you get free food out of it, too. (It’s even better when you’re with your friends.) Then I forgot what time it was, so I sat there and thought about questions.

I thought about a lot of things. Who am I? Where am I? When is it time to eat again? Should I close my eyes and sleep? What does it mean to be ‘cute’?

(I still think about them sometimes. Everybody thinks about questions – it’s not really a weird thing. Kirby asked questions about himself a few months ago. He found answers to them – and he seems to be happy even after that, so it’s okay to do.)

I was still by the pond when Kirby found me.

Kirby’s a very nice guy. He likes friendship – out of everybody here, I think he’s the person who likes friendship the most. He’s my best friend, next to Ado and Ribbon. He taught me a lot about what friendship means, and how good it can be for both a single person and the people around them. It’s a good feeling. I like it a lot. So I adopted friends—and food—as my favorite things.

I met a lot of people, thanks to Kirby. Dedede, Rick, Kine, Coo, Chuchu, Nago, Pitch—I became friends with all of them. It took a while for Dedede, but even then, when he acted like a bad guy—he was still a friend. (You just had to look for it.) I even made friends with Ado and Ribbon. Ado’s real name is Adeleine, but that’s long, so I just call her Ado. We met in Cloudy Park, and she fought Kirby because she was scared, I think – but eventually we became friends anyway because friendship is better than fighting.

I spend a lot of time with Ado and Ribbon. They’re good at drawing things. I like to draw with them. My tongue is good at holding crayons and paintbrushes. I do my best and I’m  not sure if it’s enough, but they like it and tell me it’s perfect and great, so it makes me smile anyway. Sometimes I wonder what it means when they stop me from doing something or say ‘you’re too innocent sometimes, Gooey,’ but they do their best, so maybe that’s enough.

Whenever I spend time with my friends, I get this bouncy feeling in my bounciness. It’s a feeling everyone should be able to feel. Like Kirby, I try my best to share it with as many people as I can. Sharing food’s a good way to do that, I learned. So I have big lunches and dinners a lot and that’s okay with me.

I also spend time with friends on adventures. I don’t go on a lot of them, but they’re still fun. There was the time Dark Matter invaded the second time. I don’t remember the first time, but I helped Kirby and all the Animal Buddies take them down and get all the Heart Stars. (Heart Stars are like Kirby’s heart thingies. I dunno too much about them, though.)

We found out I’m a piece of Dark Matter during that.

You look surprised. Don’t worry; everyone else looked like that as well. But Kirby didn’t care. He said I was still his friend—and that was it. Nobody else cared about the fact that I was a part of a big evil thing, either. They understood I am Gooey, and Gooey is a true friend, and a true friend always stays a friend, no matter what happens. You understand too, right?

…yes? That’s good. That’s really good.

You’re a true friend, just like Kirby.

I said before, I like friends. I’m here for my friends. I’m here because my friends need my help; because they want to protect me and everyone, I think. I don’t understand everything about what’s happening, but for my friends, I’ll go anywhere. If this whole place wants to cause a problem for everyone, I’ll help stop it with my friends. Kirby would do the same thing, so I’ll do it too.

When I’m doing nothing except thinking about questions by the waters in the Great Forest, sometimes I find myself thinking about Kirby. Kirby makes a lot of friends. He makes so many friends and Helpers and Dream Friends, you could fill a whole city. We could call it Dream Friend City. (He’d like that.) He makes other people friends with each other, too—there’s Taranza and Susie, Marx and Dark Meta, Ado and everyone, Magolor and Daroach, Tiff and Dedede… and I don’t think we can forget about the Ultimate kids. (Kaede would agree, I think.) Kirby always knows how to make someone happy, to make them someone they can be proud of. I like to be like Kirby – and I believe you have the power to be like Kirby, too.

There’s no reason to be a bad person. There’s no reason bad things should touch you. You’re somebody good, I can sense that. I can’t tell what troubles you have, or why you’re here, looking into our world. I don’t know who you are, or what you think of us. But… I think there’s something about us that makes you happy.

There is something, right? I don’t think you would be here otherwise.

If Kirby could see you now, I think he would agree.

We do a lot of things, but we can still help others while we do things. So I hope we can do something to make your life better if you need it. Everyone needs a good friend in their lives – so let us be your friend. Let me be your friend. It won’t hurt. That’s a promise.

There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of good friends.

…I’m happy I can be a friend to you, then.

Everyone’s counting on us to do the right thing, so…

Let’s do our best to save the galaxy, okay?


[N/A]

“I think I made a new friend today,” Gooey randomly stated as he ascended the vertical corridor.

Kirby raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Yep.” Something about Gooey’s voice, although dreamy as always, seemed perfectly satisfied—an expression the pink puffball recognized as one of his own, whenever he managed to at last reach out to a friend. (Dedede, Dark Meta Knight, Kaede, Tsumugi, Knuckle Joe… there were a lot of faces that could testify to that.) “I think they’re happy to see us, wherever we go. I think they’re a little worried, but I think that’s okay. If we can make them happy, then we’ll be able to make their lives better. We’ll be able to assure them. That’s what a friend does, right?”

Kirby didn’t hesitate to nod with a mighty smile as they reached solid ground. “If you can then,” he said, “tell ‘em not to worry about us, alright? We’ll get through this crisis intact. We’re the Star Allies, after all.” He pumped his fist into the sky. “So long as we stick together, our bonds’ll be enough to conquer the cosmos!”

“That’s good. They’ll be happy to know that.” And so Gooey floated off, beckoned by a column of rocks blocking an alcove to the right.

“…again, you’ve certainly assembled quite the collection of friends.” Kirby looked to his sides to see both Magolor and Meta Knight walking up to him, watching Gooey stick his tongue up in the air to use a Friend Ability. Magolor brought a hand beneath his chin. “What do you think he means when he says he’s made a new friend? As far as I can tell, most of everyone here is already more than acquainted with each other.”

“The inner workings of a mind such as his can rise to places we cannot fully see,” Meta Knight mused. “Perhaps it was always meant to be that way. If he has stumbled upon a person who he deems needs a friend, through methods only he can access… then we should accept his decisions, however strange they may seem.”

“Gooey’s a bit weird, sure—but then again, we’re all weird in some way,” Kirby stated. “He’s a good friend either way, so let’s let him do friendly things however he so pleases! I’d do the same thing, in his place!”

“You would, wouldn’t you…” Magolor closed his eyes. “…maybe’s that all we need, in the end. Maybe that’s all anybody needs.”

“A true statement, if there ever was one,” Meta Knight agreed.


Dimension II

As inconsequential as they may seem, the Helpers were still an important part of the Star Allies. The main sixteen members were formidable fighters on their own – especially Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Bandana Dee – but who says a little more assistance here and there isn’t something to appreciate? (That was why Kirby and Magolor had this gathering of heroes and villains to begin with, after all.)

Plus, for as relatively simple as things may seem… the instability of Another Dimension stretched far, even within its own confines. There was simply no telling what its influence could do undetected while the Star Allies continued their journey – especially since the Lor and its advanced systems were all the way back at the Jambandra Base’s entrance.

The answer then was simple. With a threat as large a caliber as this, it was only natural that there be scouts to explore the limits and unknown dangers of this unbounded dominion. And who would be better for the task than the Helpers?

“Come on, gang!” Driblee excitedly shouted, riding a wave of water down an unexplored road. “We’ve got a lot to do while we’re here and only so much time to do it!”

“YOUR-EXCITEMENT-IS-BECOMING-GRATING,” Gim mechanically grumbled. “I-ADVISE-YOU-TO-LOWER-IT. MY-AUDIO-RECEPTORS-ARE-TOO-IMPORTANT-TO-BE-TEMPORARILY-TURNED-OFF-FOR-THIS.”

“Come now, Gim,” Bugzzy said, his champion headband perched proudly atop his head. “You needn’t be so bothered by him.” Much like Driblee, he radiated confidence in both himself and the situation. “We’re all friends here, are we not? After all the trials we have faced together, we should more than understand each other’s tastes! Ho ho ho.”

“Well, I suppose that is partially true,” Ceri interjected. Though her eyes were masked by her hood and her baseball cap, one got the impression that she was glaring daggers into Gim’s robotic form. “I certainly understand how much I dislike those overly focused on stupid technological junk.”

“BITE-ME, WITCH.”

“Oh, I can oblige you that.”

“Hey, d-don’t do that!” Driblee pouted. “Why are you two always like this? Every time you’re together, you two just keep fighting! We’re supposed to be a team!”

“TEAM-IS-A-STRONG-APPELLATION. ‘TEMPORARY-PARTNERS’-IS-A-MORE-ACCURATE-DESCRIPTION.”

“That is perhaps the most agreeable thing you’ve said all day.”

Bugzzy laughed again. The other three Helpers promptly turned to him. “Oh ho ho ho—you know, this is beginning to take me back.” He closed his eyes as he reminisced. “You should remember too, Gim—Birdon and Simirror shared a similar connection to you and Ceri here.” Somehow, the image in Gim’s robotic lens seem to shrink as his memory banks brought up the relevant information into his mind. (Ceri tilted her head, oblivious.) “She was brawn, he was brains, they often clashed… you two remind me of them before they finally got together. Makes me wish I found my own sweetheart long ago. Ah, to be young again…”

Ceri got it that time. She and Gim slowly turned to look at each other.

“Hee hee hee hee hee…” Ceri giggled darkly. She turned back to look at Bugzzy. “Oh, that’s funny. Almost as funny as you volunteering to be my next training dummy.”

“ERROR. ERROR. INFORMATION-INCOMPATIBLE-WITH-DATABASE. ATTEMPTING-TO-DELETE-MEMORY-FROM-RECORDS… WHY-IS-IT-FAILING.”

“That sounds crazy… but also totally believable!” Driblee decided, his eyes sparkling. “I should tell everyone else about this when we get back! They’d want to hear it, too!”

Two voices simultaneously shot back, “Not a chance.”

But before the conversation could continue—

“SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!”

The four paused in their tracks.

“Wh-Wh… What was that…?” Driblee slowly asked.

“I… I cannot say that I know,” Bugzzy replied, his eyes narrowing to the point of utter seriousness.

For several moments, they didn’t move a single muscle. Driblee dared to dream that, perhaps, they had just been imagining things. Th-This place may be a little creepy, but that d-doesn’t mean it’s a s-sign of anything…

Y-Yeah…! That—that has to be right…

“SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!”

…N-Nope! Not right, not right at all!

“…ANALYZING-EXTERNAL-INFLUENCES…” Gim’s lens rapidly shot about the general area, the gears in his body whirring loudly with his systems. “THE-GENERAL-ENERGY-READINGS-OF-THIS-LOCATION-HAVE-SPIKED-DRAMATICALLY. SENSORS-INDICATE-AN-UNKNOWN-FLUCTUATION-MOVING-ABOUT-THE-AREA—BUT-IT-IS-MOVING-TOO-FAST-TO-ANALYZE-ANY-FURTHER.”

“…N-NOVA himself must be signaling something to us,” Ceri chose to interpret. Her hands were clasp together and noticeably shaking. “He—He must be informing us that we need to stop wasting our time and get a move on. That is the truth. My—My psychic sensibilities will it to be so.”

(In all honesty, she could’ve said ‘I feel like my biscuits are on fire’ at that exact moment and she wouldn’t have been bothered over it.)

“There is a good chance that this is the type of worst-case scenario that the Star Allies anticipated,” Bugzzy surmised. “We knew from the start that this locale was a dangerous sort. It appears we must stay cautious, lest we find ourselves unexpectedly overtaken.” There was a great deal of wisdom in his voice, and everyone instinctively felt like letting him take the lead. “I may be old—but it will take a mighty storm before I fail to protect you all. That much, I swear.”

“P-Please do!”

“…THOSE-ARE-ACCEPTABLE-TERMS.”

“You—You better not let us down, bug.”


Dimension II – Fifth Hero Trial

“CHOO CHOO! ALL ABOARD THE FRIEND TRAIN!”

The parade of people barging through Another Dimension’s latest trial was a sight to behold. Kirby was excitedly running forward with his hands up in the air and headwear mixing together a conductor’s hat and a train whistle. And of course, following behind him – and linked together by bonds made out of stardust – were the rest of the Star Allies.

“WHAT HE SAID!” Dedede exclaimed, a humongous grin hanging brightly off his cheeks. His hands were similarly waving around in the air. “We’re ridin’ a highway to stardom today! HA HA!”

W-WAHOO!” Even Bandana Dee was getting in on the action. “Let’s go, everyone, let’s go!”

“I should go on more of these adventures, if I get to experience events like these,” Magolor calmly mused, somehow managing to remain unflappable through the wind soaring past his ears. “It’s quite fun.”

Each of the Star Allies had their own feelings about the events that were unfolding: plenty were whooping in unison with their leader, some were struggling to stay as stoic as possible, and a select couple had almost no idea what was going on. (Five guesses who the last two were, and the first four don’t count.)

“Wh-Wh-Wh-Whoaaaaaaaa—!” Taranza’s hands, rather than energetically cheering, were more or less frantically panicking at the speed of sound. “This is—This is going way too faaaaaaaast—!”

“Dare I even ask how this—this spectacle of yours even came about…!?” Susie’s voice barely managed to float past the chaos. “I can barely keep up with it…!”

Kirby’s response couldn’t have been any more expected: “It’s ‘cause of the power of friendship, of course!”

“…why am I not surprised by your answer?”

“You should be going with the flow, instead of trying to fight it!” Meta Knight advised from the frontlines. “Stay focused—we have a loop approaching us at rapid pace!”

“A what?”

“Oh NOVA, here we go…” quietly went Dark Meta Knight.

The improvised Friend Train hopped up into a suspended loop-de-loop (that, it should be noted, bore little resemblance to anything hedgehogs typically went through) and began running around and around it. Along the way, they activated a switch that made the piece of land start to horizontally scroll—though the majority of them would be hard-pressed to notice.

“I-I’mmm—I’m getting dizzzzzzzzy…” Taranza babbled, his eyes swirling.

“You think you have it rough? Imagine what it was like for me the first time around!” Coo grouched. “You think birds are meant to go through this type of thing!? Of course they aren’t!”

“But spinning around in the air is fun,” Gooey said. “It makes you feel tingly inside.”

“…ain’t that somethin’ you typically want to avoid?” Rick wondered.

“When it comes to Gooey, you can never be too sure…” Kine sighed.

Kirby’s voice kicked back in: “Going down!” The Friend Train descended down the go-through platform onto a conveniently placed slab of land, collecting another glimmering Friend Heart on the way.

“Oh, jeez—there’s waaaaay too many bottomless pits ‘round here!” Marx groaned. “Those are, like, the worst! The joke material in this place is awful beyond belief!”

“You presume there is even humor to be found in the first place,” Dark Meta Knight espoused as the parade of Star Allies bounced back into the loop.

“I believe there is,” Daroach interjected. A smile entered his face. “You need only look at those closest to us.”

In front of the trio of friends, Adeleine and Ribbon were clearly having the time of their lives. “Wheeeeeeeeee~!” the Ripple Star fairy squeed. “Look at us go!”

Adeleine was similarly glowing. “Friend Trains are the best! I feel like if we keep going, we’re gonna touch the stars in no time!”

“…well, you’re not wrong,” the mirror knight admitted. “It’s… a strange feeling, being able to have that feeling of levity through times of crisis. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to it.”

And then: “Heads up, guys—we’re going down again!”

Right behind them, Magolor quickly said, “Well, I believe you will have to get used to it fast then. This dimension appears to stop for no one!”

“Oi, oi, oi—these next platforms are even smaller than the last!” Coo’s voice squawked loudly. “What the heck!”

“Eh, it’s nothing for us!” Kirby responded. “We’ll press those switches and snatch those Friend Hearts with no trouble at all! Just watch me!”

“Fine—but if this gets us killed, I reserve the right to scold you ‘til we reach the depths of the Underwhere!”

“I’ll keep that into account, don’t you worry!”


Dimension II – Temple Haven

“Why do you think there are these havens in here?” Kine asked, as the crew of Star Allies walked through the virtual rest area at the end of the dimension. Whereas the previous area had featured clumps of golden trees, forming the image of a vibrant forest, this zone represented a lost temple instead, resembling the types Kirby and co. had seen on both Planet Towera and Gabbel Moon. “I can’t imagine that there’d be anyone willingly coming here and building it.”

“Perhaps the current situation with this dimension and ours works both ways,” Meta Knight hypothesized. “Through the now unstable link between them, the Gamble Galaxy may be imprinting elements of its own terrain into each dimension we face. It would certainly explain the environment that preceded Parallel Woods.”

“It’s—It’s strange to think about…” Adeleine said. “How could something so beautiful result from some place so… so dangerous? I almost can’t believe it…”

Magolor had a different theory. “…it could be the work of the Ancients,” he voiced. “In their prime, they had creations able to warp time and space as they saw fit. And powering some of them were Energy Spheres that came from this dimension. In that regard… these might be what’s left of their efforts to colonialize this place.”

Susie was silent, staring at a particular spot on the nearby wall instead of spewing her dignified snark. Her hand brushed up against an old and worn drawing – a happy mustached man and a similarly happy little girl, as rendered by a young child – and she began uncontrollably shaking.

Taranza and Meta Knight noticed easily. “S-Susie?” the arachnid called. “Wh-What are you—?”

“…this used to be the closest thing I had to a home,” the CEO admitted, “back when I was trapped here.”

“Hmm… You mentioned Another Dimension ‘taking so much from you’, before we left for Jambandra Base,” Meta Knight recalled. “Is that, perchance, part of what you were speaking about?”

“You—You had to live in… in a p-place like this…?” Taranza nervously asked.

Silence, for a couple of moments. “…not by choice.”

She walked away, leaving the relic of her past behind – and giving the other two Star Allies a good look at it. Meta Knight and Taranza gazed at the image for longer than was necessary. It didn’t take them too long to figure out what it was depicting.

“…she—she still thought of him, huh…?”

“So even a witch like her had something to hold onto…”

Ahead of the pack, Kirby decided to trade his ice powers for the Parasol ability. Call it instinct, I guess. “Okay, guys,” he said aloud, “let’s get back to business.” Once again, the boss gate awaited them at the very end, the unsettling aura it was creating contrasting wildly against the holy nature of the setting around it. The puffball took out his parasol from his back and propped it open. “It’s time for round two.”

“Bring it on!” Coo exclaimed. “We’re not gonna stop for anything!”

“Heh—can’t say I don’t feel the same,” Dedede smirked. “What are we waiting for? Let’s get this show on the road!”

“Y-Yeah! No mercy!” Bandana Dee chimed in.

With those words of encouragement, Kirby smiled—and opened the door to renewed chaos.


Like the cold blue forest that Parallel Woods had been found in, the second battle arena bore almost no resemblance to anything that had come before. A sinister red-orange sunset illuminated the atmosphere above, oppressively hanging over the ruined purple tower that sat atop the void of Another Dimension. And despite the clear skies, it felt like there was a storm on the horizon, just waiting to come and irrevocably ruin somebody’s day.

The Star Allies stared warily at the dark violet smoke gathering in the middle of the air. The clump of smoke pulsated wildly, eventually splitting into two clouds which expanded at a startlingly fast pace. Kirby knew immediately who it was

“Of course…” Kirby hissed. “You’ll never leave me alone, even when the storms have receded and the weather’s perfectly fine…”

More smoke expelled from the both of them with every second, until at last, sharp red spikes formed on their outer edges – complimented by the addition of one angry red eye on the both of them, with disturbingly yellow sclera.

“…isn’t that right, Kracko!?”

Unearthly Storm Front
Parallel Twin Kracko

“Bugger!” Rick cursed. “It had to be him, didn’t it mates?”

“The Cloud Demon of the Skies…!” Taranza recognized. “B-But… there’s—there’s two of him…!?”

“No time to talk!” Ribbon shouted, waving her hands in the air. “He’s coming for us! Get ready!”

The two cycloptic stormclouds roared – and thus, the clash with Kirby’s life-long skybound nemesis began anew.


VS. Parallel Twin Kracko

All worlds—whether in another dimension or some far-flung galaxy—are bound by earth and sky. And where there is sky, there is Kracko! Made of fallen tears and the scattered mists of his enemies, Kracko roars with a dark power. Stay on your toes, Star Allies!


[Marx]

Kracko, Kracko, Kracko… aren’t you just a familiar face?

I know ‘bout this calamitous cloud – who wouldn’t? He’s persistent, he’s trigger-happy, he’s just as determined as good ‘ol Pinky himself. The guy’s always trying to get at Kirby, even more than Dedede here used to be. And he’ll go through anyone so long as he has the chance to bring him down.

I admit, I respect that type of willpower – I mean, I’m kind of the same way. But I don’t like it when it’s being used against us!

I’ve seen this guy before and what he can do. The True Arena from March showed us how ruthless he’ll get when it comes to fighting his rival. (…or would it be ‘they’? He kind of likes being a crowdy cloud half the time…) And that’s why I know exactly what the two of him were doing when they started floating up and up and up.

“Hey, hey, hey,” I nervously chattered—“Kirby, now would be a really good time for you to use that big umbrella of yours!”

“You don’t have to tell me twice!” Kirby raised his parasol up in the air, and it inexplicably grew to a massive size. “Whoever can get underneath here, do so! Everybody else, take to the skies!”

Dedede, Bandana Dee, Adeleine, and Ribbon didn’t hesitate in going for cover – Susie hesitated briefly, but she eventually went for it too. Me, I brought out my currently lime green wings and flung myself toward the edge of the battlefield—just as the two Krackos grew a little larger and began spewing a crapton of rain on Kirby.

Kirby can hold up to a lot of things; it’s how he defeated my S-S-Soul Form all those years ago. But even he seems to be barely handling the terrible torrent terrorizing him.

And that’s something I can’t allow. I’m Marx, the second Final Boss of the Star Allies – and I don’t let my minions (actually my friends, but shhhh!) get battered by any bad guy lesser than me!

Electrified arrows started firing on all cylinders from my wings, blasting straight through the Twin Krackos’ waterfalls and giving them a good shock all the while. Magolor and Taranza were similarly blasting plasma shots and bolts all about; Rick, Kine, and Coo had ascended and were wildly flinging feather boomerangs – but somehow, Kracko seemed most pissed by my presence. One of his two selves, instead of continuing the assault, chose to target me – but that was fine.

Seriously. Kracko hyped up on steroids this may be, but in the end, this is still Kracko – and I know exactly how to get on his nerves.

He should’ve just bolted on outta here while he had the chance!

“Yo! How’re you doin’, grape puff?” I cheekily taunted him. He leered at me, unamused. Yeah, that’s right, look at me! “Gotta say, you’re looking not that great today! You should really get some eye drops – though, I guess it’s not like you’ll be able to use it, eh?”

The ethereal cloud screeched incoherently and didn’t hesitate to start rushing at me. I took off toward the sky, rapidly dropping zap-tapped balls down at his incoming mass. Gee, it didn’t take very long to aggro him. Looks like I haven’t lost my touch! “That’s right—come and get me!”

You know… it’s still a little surreal to find myself here, properly alive and able to feel again. It’s… It’s a feeling you don’t learn to appreciate, until you find it taken away from you. It’s even worse when you know it’s the result of something you did. Something bad.

…I lived in Dream Land before Kirby came. It was pretty quiet back then – there wasn’t a whole lot of interesting people to prank either. Just me, the oaf we called king, the Animal Buddies – oh, and Meta Knight too. (He’s always fun to mess with.) Everyone else was either off the radar, or wasn’t even on Pop Star to begin with.

There was a time I used to dislike it. The peace, the sleepiness, the same things just going on day after day after day. That’s… part of why I’m such a big trickster.

I don’t like seeing stagnancy.

(Because I think people can be so much more than the same boring person all the time.)

…that’s also part of why I tried to take over Pop Star.

And speaking of stagnancy, though…

I’ve got one Kracko off Kirby’s back – but that means I’ve got one to deal with myself. And he’s got plenty of rage to spare!

Spheres of electricity shot forth from Kracko’s eye, and I found myself having to swerve a lot to avoid ‘em. I’ve never spun around like this before, and honestly, I think I’m getting a little sick! I flew as fast as I could to the top of a nearby pillar (it’s not like these ruins were going to be anything other than ‘more ruined’ by the end of this) and rapidly started kicking balls toward him.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, they were affecting him to some degree – but it was more like chip damage right now. “Gee, it’s just shocking how much you wanna thrash me!” I sniped. “You oughta be more polite. Lemme show you how it’s done!”

He was coming in closer and closer fast, so I jumped off and dove straight through him, soon after becoming a shadow on the ground. I could sense him wildly looking around, trying to find my location.

Perfect! He won’t see this coming!

I gathered my strength—and threw myself into the air, shadows bursting from around me and slamming into that crazy cloud. I front-flipped through the air and landed on the ground. And then, I beamed, spreading my wings like one would spread out their arms. “And the crowd goes wild!”

“Showing off again, Marx?” Magolor asked, floating over to my side.

“Of course! I gotta have flair, even in the worst of times!” I replied. “You know depression ain’t my character schtick!”

“It would be depressing if we had to be all serious, all the time,” Daroach agreed. His cape furrowed behind him, his trusty magic cane spinning in his hand. “We are the Star Allies; ‘Moon Allies’ would’ve been appropriate if we were less bombastic of a group.”

“Heh – like we could be, Dar-Dar! I prefer rainbows to rain, if you get what I mean!”

“That’s true of all of us,” my favorite wizard noted. The sounds of sparks alerted us to the angry Kracko still on the battlefield. Mags’ eyes twinkled. “Now… shall we let Kracko know that fact? I think all of us are itching to show ‘em a thing or two.”

I grinned. “Oh, you know us so well!”

We flew up, narrowly dodging another wave of plasma balls washing over the area, and started dropping a volley of projectiles – beach balls, fire bombs, magic spheres, you name it! And ma-a-an… from this angle, you can really get a good view of the battlefield! Look, you can see everyone practically dancing! Kirby’s twirling in his parasol and bouncing across the arena, Meta and Darky are doing that parrying thing again, Taranza and Susie (I need to get nicknames for them sometime) were jetpacking and… exploding, I think…

…I love seeing everyone like this.

I appreciate them so much more than I used to. (It’s a surprise how they appreciate me, too.)

For so many years, I had sat and watched as nothing ever really changed on Pop Star, as everyone was content with what they had. Even Kirby showing up didn’t do much to shake things up. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand it at all. I didn’t understand anyone at all.

I know once upon a time, Meta Knight didn’t either.

Funnily enough… he was my catalyst, in a way. I remember deciding, shortly after he tried taking over Dream Land… I should try doing the same thing he did: make a world unbound by an ugly ‘status quo’. A world where I can be free to shake up people’s lives however I want. And to that end, I tricked Kirby into giving me the opportunity to do that – and thought that’d be the end of it.

Kirby, I found, was a much more formidable foe than I had anticipated.

…there was always a reason he’s Pop Star’s premiere protagonist.

I had dismissed him at first, based purely on his friendship-loving nature and his tendency to help anyone at any time. I hadn’t seen him being able to halt Galactic NOVA’s advance in spite of the odds, or him truly showing off the strength that allowed him to cast Dark Matter back to black – on me.

And despite that – he still offered me his hand in friendship when he brought me back.

It’s stupid, yeah, but… right then and there, I finally understood what I had been blind to all this time.

It’s funny how death can change your perspectives. It’s also funny how miracles can reach out to those you believe don’t deserve it.

Magolor knows that as well as I do.

There’s a reason he lets me call him ‘Mags’ without any complaints.

Everyone here – from Kirby, to Adeleine and Ribbon, to Darky, to Mags – and everyone beyond… We’re partners in crime, minions in mischief, and there’s not a chance I’d give them up now. Not after everything.

I know now it’s not stagnancy I saw all those years ago – it’s simply life being life. And for the sake of keeping that liveliness intact… and to be able to happily prank as many people as possible… and to keep eating all that good food (okay, I have a lot of selfish reasons, sue me)… I’m gonna feed these wannabe villains their own medicine!

And it’s gonna be great!

“Is that the best you’ve got!?” I taunted Kracko again, landing on the ground. “Must be hard to capture lightning in a bottle twice even for you, huh!?”

“That implies he could even do that once,” Magolor commented, summoning that big purple sword of his to clash with Kracko’s… weird yellow drills. (What even are those?)

“His heart might be too steeped in rage for that,” Dar-Dar stated. “One does not become so blackened without any distortions inside of them.”

“Well, that’s his problem, not ours!” I dismissed. “Hey, Dar-Dar—hand me something to throw at him! I think he could use it!”

Dar-Dar obliged, tossing a large red bomb my way, and I proceeded to kick it hard at Kracko’s open eye. A pillar of flame erupted from the ensuing explosion – and based on how the cloud fell to the floor after that, it was quite the critical hit. “And he’s down!” I sniggered. “It’s almost scary how good I am!”

I could tell Magolor was smirking, too. “You mean how good we are, right?”

“If that’s how you want it to be, sure!”

Some of the other Star Allies ran on up to us when they saw our ‘lil downed Debbie. “Kracko looks dizzy,” Gooey said (he says stuff like this a lot). “He should get a bag of ice. I think it helps.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kracko so… unsteady before,” Adeleine noted, colors looking like they were weaving into a spire of flame on her paintbrush. (Wait, where’d that come from…?) She smiled. “Can’t say he doesn’t deserve it, though!”

“Let’s hit ‘im while we have the chance!” Ribbon loudly exclaimed. “All together now!”

“It appears this irritating irritant has finally fallen to our forces,” Darky chimed in, flapping in with his sword pointed at Kracko. “Give the word, and we shall strike!”

There was only one thing we could do, really! “What are we waiting for, then?” I said. “It’s time for some mischief!”

“Right you are,” Dar-Dar agreed. “Let us ravage them, full-stop!”


[N/A]

Kracko was unrelenting; Kracko was unending. Kracko was a force that couldn’t be contained by any means – and he was going to make sure all of the Star Allies knew that intricately.

Quickly, he swooped downward and attempted to ram into Kirby. The pink puffball narrowly slid under him and jammed his closed parasol up his foe’s… cloudiness. (It’s not a sword, but it’s good enough! he thought.) Kirby drilled out of the way once he was out from under Kracko, just as a purple Chilly and Waddle Doo dropped from his mass.

“Where does he house those minions of his?” Dedede asked, both hands clutching his hammer tightly. “You can’t tell me he’s got his own hammerspace!”

“I wouldn’t be very surprised, honestly,” Kirby answered. “Cannons, drills, bombs—he’s got everything in there!” He opened up his parasol to deflect a Wave Beam flying his way. “Who knows what he picks up when we’re not ‘round?”

Spears rained from the sky close to the two Mooks, courtesy of Bandana Dee’s infinite supply. The blackened Chilly and Doo jumped back to avoid them – before Meta Knight cleaved through them at lightning fast speed.

“Hmph. Compared to facing Parallel Woods and his children, this is underwhelming,” he stated. He leered at the lone Kracko in front of him. “I expected a challenge, not a simplistic training session.”

“I wouldn’t put th-that way, but—y-yeah, I kind of expected more too,” Bandana Dee admitted, managing to land on Dedede’s back (again). “I feel kinda disappointed.”

Unamused by these declarations, Kracko bounced up above and covered the crew’s general area. Lightning bolts started coming down  “Ooh, I think you two made him mad!” Kirby remarked, his feet dancing past several such bolts, each coming down one after the other. The Chumbrella came back up, but parasols – even strong shield-esque parasols – were hard-pressed to withstand lightning. “Jeez,” he winced, “how many volts are these—!?”

Meta Knight batted a few bolts away with Galaxia. “Too much,” he replied curtly.

A few blaster shots distracted the terrible thunderhead from continuing his assault. He turned to see Susie and Taranza in front of a pillar, the former’s blaster pointed directly at him. “Don’t make a move, or I’ll exterminate you,” she promised.

This particular half of the Unearthly Storm Front didn’t take kindly to the CEO’s threat. Two of his topmost horns extended up and started forming a big ball of electricity, sparkling aggressively as it grew. Taranza stepped back a bit, noticeably startled – “S-Susie? Are—Are you sure about—?” – but Susie took the action as a challenge.

“If that’s what you desire, then so be it! Prepare to be destroyed!” She suited up, and Taranza could only sigh resignedly and latch on before the two fired on all cylinders.

Meanwhile, high above Kracko, Coo was carrying Rick and Kine as far up as he could go. “This better be enough for you, Rick!” the old owl grouched. “You and Kine aren’t exactly light!”

“You don’t need to ruffle your feathers so much, mate!” Rick replied – looking down, he could see they were directly above the EX Boss, just as he wanted. “This is ace ‘nuff for me!”

“Don’t mess this up, Rick,” Kine simply said. “We’re lucky we haven’t been spotted yet, so you have to make this count.”

“I will!” he assured. “Now—drop me, Coo!”

Despite the bird’s reservations, he did as his friend said. The orange hamster transformed into a boulder themed after his appearance immediately afterward – and gravity did the rest for him.

Susie’s Business Suit skid on the ground after holding back the aforementioned plasma ball with its own arms. “It’s almost a shame I couldn’t have analyzed this creature in full for our Holo Defense API,” its driver lamented. “These attacks would’ve made for excellent security.”

“I dunno ‘bout that…” Taranza said. “I wouldn’t want th-this guy to guard anything of m-mine…”

The lone Kracko kept glaring, his needles getting ready to materialize another deadly projectile. Then he stopped. Some instinct of his led him to look up instead.

What he saw… His iris briefly shrunk in size right before Rick slammed into from above at terminal velocity, squashing the purple cloud flat on the ground. The stars that exploded from Kracko from the point of impact made it clear that he was down for the count. Shame, Susie thought. Done in so ungracefully… perhaps he isn’t fit for my envisioned job after all.

“I think I’m gettin’ used to these type of drop-ins!” Rick lampshaded, turning back into his usual form. “I could do this dozen of times and never get tired of it!”

“G-Great job, guys!” Bandana Dee shouted. “That was… great!”

“That means only one foe remains!” Meta Knight declared. “Let us go assist our allies in their current endeavor—!”

Then, two voices cried out: “What are we waiting for, then? It’s time for some mischief!”

“Right you are. Let us ravage them, full-stop!”

The nine Star Allies looked to the other side of the battlefield. Plumes upon plumes of smoke were engulfing it, and they could see glimpses of their seven companions’ heads poking out as the sounds of a boss getting massacred reached their ears. Coo floated down, Kine in two, to see the scene. He was admittedly impressed.

“Now that’s something I can get behind!” he proclaimed. “Where do I sign up for it?”

“I swear I’ve seen that kind of thing before on the Internet…” Dedede muttered, putting a hand to his chin. “But where…?”

A death cloud erupted from the ensuing beat-up, and the other Kracko flew away and laid close to his ‘brother’ of sorts, his lone eye swirling in disorientation.

“…ah, whatever. It doesn’t matter!” he decided. He cupped his hands to his mouth and hollered, “Yo! Not too bad, guys! Seriously, that was pretty explosive!”

“Glad to hear it!” Marx replied, he and his crew rejoining their other partners. “It was a real blast! Kracko was too shocked to see it coming!”

“Ignoring our companion’s irksome diction,” Dark Meta Knight interjected (“Hey!”), “I assume you have managed to triumph over your own foe?”

“In a sense,” Kirby answered, “but we can’t let our guard down yet.” He cautiously pointed a closed parasol at the Krackos’ trembling forms. “Kracko won’t go down that easily!”

As the Super Tuff Pink Puff spoke, the two halves of Kracko coalesced back into one, and he started to rise into the sky. He started to inflate to even bigger levels, quickly becoming more than twice as large as his two halves were before. Bandana Dee and Taranza had only one thing to say: “Eep!”

“…eep is more than an appropriate response here, I believe,” Magolor acquiesced.

When at last Kracko had finished growing, his single eye opened up again – and somehow, he looked even more menacing than before.

Unearthly Thunderhead
Parallel Big Kracko

The humongous dark crimson cloud trembled violently—not in fear, but with an undying rage—and with his gaze fixed furiously on a certain someone in particular, he roared.

“KIRRRRRRRBYYYYYYYYYYYYY!”


VS. Parallel Big Kracko

How do you defeat that which is ethereal? Reborn from pure hate and the terrible power of a jet-black sky, Kracko lives again! Tasked with keeping the gate, Kracko is bigger, badder, and more dangerous than ever. Be warned…


Half the Star Allies jumped at his bellow, but Kirby wasn’t alarmed.

“It really is you…!” he simply stated. “Only you would react to me like that!”

“Oh, great!” Dedede groaned. “It just had to be the real him, didn’t it…!”

The Unearthly Thunderhead, at last fully coherent and whole, seemed to rumble at the sight of his arch-nemesis. “I have waited all this time for this moment, puffball. Did you think I would forget all those times I was humiliated!?

“That time you smashed into me with your Hi-Jump… that time I was betrayed by Helpers… that time I was replaced by that mechanical cloud…!” (Inexplicably popping up behind Daroach, Doc looked rather shifty.) A tear threatened to fall from his eye. “Sniff… I think there’s something in my eye… but NOW!”

The sound of thunder echoed through the area, causing the Star Allies to jump again. “Now, I can at last regain the dignity you stole from me! The dignity you and your accursed friends took away! AND YOU WILL FALL HERE,” his whole self began to crackle with electricity, “CONSUMED BY THE DARKNESS OF THIS ETHEREAL DIMENSION!”

Kirby opted to exchange his parasol for a katana, using the power of his long-dormant Copy Essence Deluxes. “Sorry, Kracko – you haven’t beaten me before, and I’m definitely not going to be beaten now! Bring it, you terrible lightning rod!”

Kracko once more swooped in toward Kirby, but the currently-a-ninja puffball poofed away a fair distance and threw bunches of kunai at him. He performed a dual Revolution Beam that almost covered the entire arena, and its sheer range meant that plenty of the Star Allies ended up thoroughly shocked by the EX Boss.

“A-ACK—!”

“You—You little…!”

“MY FEATHERS!”

Kirby, King Dedede, and Bandana Dee all looked at each other, and nodded. Kirby began hopping from pillar to pillar, his elevation rising with every wall jump he took, whereas Dedede Super Jumped between the tops of relatively smaller totems.

“BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Fear the unparalleled power of the CLOUD DEMON OF THE SKIES!” the thunderous troublemaker cackled, sending intense lightning bolts down at random individuals. He was tanking hits left and right from all about, but he could afford to take it (for now). “The Lola Twins and Kabula have NOTHING on me! You hear me? NOTHING!”

“It looks like Kracko’s heart is more corrupted than I had foreseen,” Daroach remarked. He brought Storo into the fold, using his subordinate’s muscle to power through the devastation. “We may be in for a troublesome affair.”

“Don’t worry, boss!” the big mouse declared, pumping a fist into the air. “If that happens, I’ll protect you!”

“That’s fine and all,” Coo said, “but that doesn’t exactly help us!” He and Kine were using Rick’s boulder form as cover (with Gooey acting as a stopper), given that neither of them had any real resistances against Kracko’s… Kracko-y-ness. Sticking by Kine’s side as he fired a few crescent lasers was the best he could do, while he tried to brush off his being shocked. “Does anybody here have anything to use against this guy!?”

“Please say yes,” Kine pleaded, in-between lasers. “I’m a fish. I’m very watery. I’d rather not get zapped to death, thank you.”

“Hmph. Allow me.” Dark Meta Knight rushed forth to the Animal Buddies’ sides, and summoned a large mirror shard above them. Lightning struck it, only to immediately get reflected back into Kracko. “If you shalt need cover, I believe my skills are more than adequate.”

“Erk…! You vermin are more formidable than last time!” Kracko conceded. He dropped several fire bombs onto Dark Meta Knight’s barrier, to no avail. “When will you learn that you have no chance against this newfound power of mine!?”

“We won’t, because that is a lesson that cannot be taught in the first place,” Meta Knight sniped, a well-placed upward stab from the air dealing a fair amount of damage. The demon cloud’s eye moved to glower at him as he landed in front of Adeleine, Ribbon, and Marx. “It’s you who should learn to become more benevolent.”

“What’s your beef with all of us, anyway!?” Adeleine demanded. “We’ve done nothing wrong to you!”

“Ha! You believe yourself innocent, but you are all blights upon the sky itself! You walk amongst the clouds, ignorant of my presence, acting as if it belongs to you. And as if that weren’t bad enough, you continue to disgrace me at every turn! No more!” He fired a big plasma laser at them, only to be countered by Marx with his own laser beam.

The jester managed to bring the clash to a standstill, the both of them dispersing their attacks soon after. “Disgrace you? Don’t make me laugh!” Marx stuck out a tongue at the EX Boss. “You do ‘nuff of that with every attempt at ‘revenge’ you make! Whatever delusions you have, shove it up wherever you keep all your crap! I don’t care!”

“That’s right!” Ribbon chimed in. “Now leave us alone—” She brandished her Crystal Gun dangerously. “—or we’ll make you!” (It wasn’t very threatening, but it got the job done.)

“As if just you four would be enough to defeat me this time!” Just then, Kracko noticed something. “…hey! Weren’t there more of you here before!? Where the heck did they go!?”

It took a few more seconds for Kracko to notice his most hated enemy (and two of his most infuriating allies) were missing. He didn’t get any more time to think about it before he was slammed from up top by three things at once: Kirby’s Blossom Storm, King Dedede’s weight, and Bandana Dee’s sharp spears made for a potent assault.

“WHAT!? WHAT IS THIS—!?”

“Just a bit of checkmate, buddy~!” Kirby sang, cherry blossoms flowering around him. Unfortunately for Kracko, his increased size meant he was both a sizeable target and a sizeable platform – meaning the trio of core Star Allies could wallop on him easily with everything they had. Between katanas and hammers and spears, there was a lot of that to go around.

“T-Take this, and this, and this, and this—!”

“Bam! Bam! Bam! You feelin’ this deluxe package yet!?”

(“How savage,” Susie drawled. “Ironic, how they prove my late father right.”

“Eh, it’s not really ‘savage’,” Magolor interjected. “More like… pragmatic. Like you.”)

About half a minute of this later, Kracko began to sparkle dangerously. “ENOUGH!” he boomed—and he electrified the trio atop of him. They went flying off the cloud, unceremoniously crashing to the floor in front of their allies.

“Kirby! Dedede! Dee!” Meta Knight dashed to his best friends’ side, Adeleine and Ribbon staying back with Marx. “Are you all alright!?”

“We’re—We’re fine,” Dedede panted, pushing himself back up with the pole of his hammer. “Gee, he’s really stepped up his game today…!”

“Th-That’s saying a lot…” Bandana Dee said, rolling back onto his feet and slouching. “I—I don’t wanna know wh-what else he can do…!”

“You have darkened my doorstep for far too long, Kirby,” Kracko hissed. “Every year, every planet, you continue to stand against me. Why is it that you refuse to die!? Through the gardens, the mirrors, the towers, and the odysseys—WHY CAN’T YOU EVER STAY DOWN!?”

“Same reason you can’t,” was Kirby’s answer. “I’m too stubborn to let you defeat me for good, ever! Whatever you do, we won’t let it stop us from saving the galaxy!”

Kracko huffed. “That’s what you think. You’ll be nothing more than scattered mists when I’m finished with you! Now dance to my deadly music, or FRY LIKE A MOTH! KRRRR-RACKK!!!” He moved to the edge of the battlefield, alerting the rest of the Star Allies into gathering together. With his power over weather, a strong wind was trying to push them into falling off the arena entirely – and to make matters worse, smaller clouds were sweeping the field with numerous bolts of lightning.

“Scatter!” Meta Knight commanded. The sixteen Star Allies weaved in and out of the airstrike, their enemy guffawing all the while. Again, several cries were going out from them:

“Curse this empowered knave…!”

“H-How am I supposed to fly in this weather!?”

“A-A-A-AHHHHHH! S-Sectonia, SAVE ME!”

Adeleine brought out her canvas and rapidly attempted to draw something to ride. “C’mon, c’mon…!” she frantically muttered. “I gotta get this done…!”

Ribbon clung tightly to her shoulder, her eyes cautiously looking up at the clouds washing over the Star Allies. Her eyes suddenly widened. “A-Addie! W-Watch out!”

Three clouds clumped together—because of course they were; why wouldn’t they be—were closing in on their position, and the artist rushed to finish her drawing of Kracko before it came over them. She barely made it. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go—!”

Elsewhere, Magolor was evading the intense voltage and evaluating combat strategies. The Starcutter Express tactic won’t work this time—or anymore, probably, he thought, mind whirring with ideas. My Deadly Needles won’t reach him, and I don’t have the space to summon a Black Hole. So that leaves…

A virtual light bulb went off in his head. He quickly glanced at Adeleine and Ribbon flying in the air, and then at Kirby zipping throughout (like a ninja, appropriately). He warped to his friend’s side and tapped his nonexistent shoulder. “Kirby!”

It was a testament to the hero’s stay focused that he didn’t jolt in surprise. “You got a plan, Magolor?”

“Yeah, hear me out. And see if you can get some of the others aboard…”


“Cower in fear, mortals! Surrender to your superior!” Kracko was drunk on power, unsurprisingly, and was milking it for all it was worth. More and more miniature clouds were on the horizon, set to overwhelm the Star Allies before him – but he wouldn’t quite be able to get that far.

“Hey, buddy!”

He turned around and saw Marx and Gooey, airborne and seemingly taunting him with their mere presence. “Man, you’re one lazy lout,” the jester mocked. “You’re a pretty cruddy ‘ruler of the skies’ if you’re just gonna sit there all day! Come on and face us properly!”

“We have apples and oranges, if that helps,” Gooey drooled.

“You DARE insult me such…!? Very well—prepare to perish!” Kracko dissipated his thunderstorm in favor of chasing after the two – which was exactly what Magolor wanted.

“You ready for this, Kirby?” he asked. The mage was standing next to both his ‘best friend’ and Taranza—the former of which was holding an Ultra Sword Magolor summoned, and the latter of which had a Bouncy Web ready to go. Above their heads, Adeleine and Ribbon were riding on their Kracko construct, ready to catch Kirby while the cloud demon wasn’t looking.

“Of course!” Kirby replied happily. Unsurprisingly, he was wielding the borrowed Ultra Sword as naturally as anything else, despite the fact he was currently using the Ninja ability.

Magolor nodded, and turned to his other companion. “You ready, Taranza?”

“U-Umm… y-yeah! Yeah, I can do this!”

“Alright, then. Kirby, Taranza, let’s launch!”

With all his strength, Taranza pushed Kirby upward, the heroic puffball soaring like a dream. It didn’t take too long for him to land with Adeleine and Ribbon – and from there, they flew as fast as they could at the EX Boss’s exposed back. “Let’s show ‘im what we’re made of!” the fairy promised.

“Persistent fools…!” Kracko hissed, plasma orbs shooting straight out of his eye. “Stop moving and submit to your destruction already!”

“I’d be a terrible trickster if I just did that~” Marx replied, warping out of the way of said plasma orbs. “You’re so invested into this, you don’t even realize you’ve just been tricked!”

“Is that what we were we doing? That sounds interesting.”

“…tricked?”

Three Crystal Shards suddenly slammed into his back. He whirled one-eighty degrees around—and came face-to-face with the Pink Terror of the Gamble Galaxy himself, beaming as if he wasn’t in the middle of a confrontation with his cloudy adversary. And riding alongside him were Adeleine and Ribbon, the former holding the puffball up, the latter clutching her Crystal Gun from before – and both of them fixing their foe with a furious frown.

It was then that Kracko made a startling realization: he was done for.

“You…! KIRBY…!”

Kirby’s eyes sparkled. “Sayonara, Kracko! Don’t get shocked on your way back to Pop Star now!”

“Go, Kirby!” Adeleine tossed him as hard as she could at the demon—and as elegantly as could be done, Kirby slashed Kracko with the humongous blade several times, ending off with one final swing downward through his singular eye. Starlit explosions once more streaked from every crevice of his puffy exterior, it in itself shrinking until only his eye was left. He had just enough time to stare terrified at nothing in particular, a tear again threatening to fall, before he disappeared – presumably, returning all the way back to Pop Star.

Another Heart Spear, cloaked in that familiar florescent pink aura, appeared right where he used to be – and Kirby didn’t hesitate to grab it out of the sky as he descended back to ground level. “And that makes two dimensions down!” he triumphantly exclaimed, flipping the ancient artifact into the air. “We’re already halfway through this adventure, everybody!”

“H-HALLEUJAH!” Bandana Dee proclaimed, his squeaky voice sounded utterly exhausted and elated. Like the previous EX Boss, he collapsed onto the ground, panting. “P-Please tell me Kracko is the worst we’ll have to face…!”

“I can’t promise you that, Dee,” Dedede said, wiping some sweat from his forehead. “But I don’t think that matters right now. What matters is that he’s out of the way, and we’re one step closer to victory!”

“You said it, Dedede!” The two best friends held up their fists and bumped them together.

“If—If you say so, G-Great King…”

Magolor clapped his hands, eyes closed in happiness. “Mission accomplished! Great job, everyone—and great job to me, too. We all did fantastic!”

“And I thought I was the one with the ego,” Marx sniggered.

“I can’t say he doesn’t deserve it, just this once,” Dark Meta Knight admitted. “His plans have a habit of improving our situations immensely.”

“He is a classic strategist, isn’t he?” Daroach agreed. “I wonder what other tactics he can come up on the spot. NOVA knows the next few bosses will probably require more of that expertise…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it!” Coo retorted. “Can we please stop talking about bosses for a moment? I’m feeling sore all over—thanks, Kracko—and I’d like to relax again before we have to go get beaten up! …again!”

Gooey trudged up to Coo with his tongue out. “Do you need a massage?” he casually asked. “I can give a massage if you need it.”

“…you can give massages? Since when?”

“Oh, since Dark Meta taught me.”

Several heads whirled to face the mirror warrior. A heavy blush was somehow visible through his scarred mask, though he tried to hide it using his gauntlets. “…s-so what? He asked politely, and it is a skill I felt he was worthy to be bestowed. There is nothing else to it!”

“I didn’t know you could perform such a vaunted task,” Meta Knight said, his tone conveying the idea of an eyebrow being raised. “Interesting.”

“Ooooooooh…” Marx dragged out. “Can I have one of those massages of yours, then? I’d love to see your talent, and I’m sure all the Ultimates back home would love to, too~”

Dark Meta Knight’s response was direct: “No.”

“What about us?” Ribbon asked, making the cutest expression she could right in front of her friend’s covered face. (Adeleine giggled, seeing the way she was trying so hard.) “Would you do it for me and Addie?”

“…maybe.”

“Fascinating…” Susie was jotting down this information with fervent interest. She was not doing so very subtly. “It might be worth adding that feature to our newest model of Stock Mecha Knights…”

And now the two knights were perfectly in sync with each other: “Don’t you dare.”

Dedede laughed boisterously. “Ha ha ha ha! Man, we’re all really something else, aren’t we?” He smiled brightly. “I think there’s one more thing we oughta do before we break for another half-hour, though. You guys agree with me, right?”

Smiles broke out again on many of the Star Allies’ faces. Oh, they knew exactly what he was referring to, considering they did it not a dimension prior.

“Do you really have to ask, mate?” Rick rhetorically stated. “You know what we think ‘bout it!”

“Guess we should get to doing it, then,” Kirby perkily expressed. “C’mon, everybody—let’s get in position now!”


Elsewhere, in Another Dimension…

SLASH! (BA-DUMP!)

There was nothing else to it.

SLICE! (BA-DUMP!)

She was going to get to her Lord Hyness, whatever it took.

SCHWING! (BA-DUMP!)

And there was nothing that would keep her from accomplishing her goal.

“HAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

With a stab of Zan Partizanne’s spear, she effortlessly tore through the defenses of the rabble that dared to face her, black electricity circling dangerously around the tip of her weapon. The EX Mid-Boss went down in seconds, a noticeable contrast to the minutes-long battles that the mid-bosses had necessitated before.

Red eyes – eyes that were once a soft blue – stared coldly at the unconscious form of the fallen Grand Wheelie EX, watching it spark and sizzle and be unable to stand at all. “Hmph. Pathetic.” She cast it one last glance before deciding to move on. She didn’t bother looking to see if her sisters were following; if they know what’s good for them, she thought, they’ll do as they’re told.

She hadn’t been this unsympathetic before. Once upon a time, she would’ve shown a level of concern for most, thanks to her mental condition back then, but time—and more prominently, her darkened heart—had long since changed that fact. Lord Hyness wouldn’t have accepted giving kindness to anyone, and she had learned to be the same. (But wasn’t his kindness how she got here to begin with—?)

Her black uniform and cream skin were a thing of the past: an angelic attire, blackened skin, and a crimson gaze adorned the once-fragile girl—a showcase of just how far she had fallen in her pursuit of ‘what mattered the most’. Her soul, however unintentionally, had been touched by the core of Void Termina – and that gave her a power-up she was more than happy to utilize on her quest.

This was borne of the Dark Lord of Despair that Lord Hyness so idolized, after all; and as she herself idolized the savior of both herself and her sisters (though idolized wasn’t quite the word she’d use herself), it was only appropriate that she used her newfound authority to annihilate those that would stand in her way. Only she and her sisters were significant in her eyes, and there was no room for additions. And then, she’d show that interfering interloper that she didn’t need any of his so-called ‘friendship’. She didn’t; not at all!

What does that jamblasted demon know, anyway? she stewed. He didn’t have to go through a literal living hell. He wasn’t the one torn away from everything he’s ever known! He dares to think he could ever understand what we went through…? He, who lived on a pretty and peaceful planet all his life…?

Well, he DOESN’T!

A group of more EX Mid-Bosses—what looked like a group of EX Dubiors—approached the unstable general. With her inner hatred for all things pink flaring up, Zan raised her partisan, and a massive storm cloud surrounded its tip. “No mercy!” Lime-green electricity—tinged with some of that earlier darkness—came out and violently electrocuted the gatecrashers, leaving them twitching on the ground in pain.

That wasn’t enough for her, though. She brought out her thunder drums and assaulted them with a litany of electro balls, screaming incoherently all the while. Again and again she blasted the already downed foes, until she was abruptly pulled back by two pairs of hands: Francisca and Flamberge.

“Zan! Zan, stop!” Francisca pleaded, her expression conveying a lot of desperation. “C-Can’t you see they’re already defeated!?”

“This isn’t like you at all!” Flamberge yelled, looking rather strained (Was she trying to fight the influence? Couldn’t she see how empowering it was…?). “I—I’m supposed to be the battle maniac here! Wh-What’s up with you!?”

“‘What’s up with you’…? Shouldn’t it be me asking that question?” The twin siblings stepped back, their elder sister seeming to tower over them—a fact not helped by the fact her thunder drums were still strapped to her back. “I’m trying to make sure our enemies don’t come back for a second round. They won’t give you any clemency. Nothing gave us clemency before Lord Hyness. None of these worthless fools deserve it, can’t you see!?”

Francisca and Flamberge were visibly hugging each other in fear now.

“S-Sis—th-that’s…!” Francisca seemed to have problems spitting out her concern. “You can’t just—just decide that all on your own…!”

Flamberge had no such problem. “You can’t be that blind to yourself!” she shouted. “Look at yourself—you look completely different! That’s not normal!”

“I feel completely fine, Flamberge,” she sneered. (Sneered! At her own sisters! The two almost couldn’t believe it…) “And you better be, too. Because we’re not going to be stopping for anything.” She turned back around and continued on her way, ready to brutally slam down every other EX Mid-Boss—or even EX Boss—that stood in her way. She let an aura of darkness flare up from her skin, concluding the ‘conversation’ by saying, “So you better learn to use that power we have—or you’ll be left behind.”

So what if being on the precipice of Another Dimension was warping her very core, in a way she couldn’t articulate? Lord Hyness awaited her at the end of the line, and when she found him—when he saw her unwavering determination—he’d most certainly appreciate her efforts. And then, everything would be worth it at last.

It’s the only thing you’re good for, you know, that voice—that very, very familiar voice—cooed in her ear. Being your master’s servant. That’s all you’ll ever be—and don’t you forget it.

(Meanwhile, the aura Zan Partizanne had expelled had caused Flamberge’s already-volatile darkness to start spreading rapidly. The red-haired girl clutched her hand and tried to will it back down. “No, no, no, no, no—!”

“B-Berge! H-Hold on, I’ll…!” Francisca tried to help too, soothing her beloved sibling wherever she could—but the floodgates had been unleashed. It was growing too fast – and it was only a matter of time before the darkness consumed them the same way it did Zan Partizanne.

“She—She’s not even using nicknames for us anymore…” Flamberge muttered. “Wh-What’s happening to us? To Zan…?”

“I…” Francisca could barely respond. “I don’t know… I don’t know at all…”)