The sun was going down on another blissfully sweet day in Cappy Town, and Kirby was enjoying the last few rays of sunlight with his favorite pastime – eating. Kirby’s tiny home was chock-full of massive cakes, pies, and other assorted treats as thank-you gifts from the various planets freed from eNeMeE’s tyranny. His two close friends, Tiff and Tuff, were also within the home and watching the small Star Warrior pack away pastries as Tokkori quietly seethed at the huge mess Kirby was making.
Besides the treats Kirby had been given by these kindly strangers, he was also getting quite a bit of positive attention from Dedede, of all people. The corpulent caliph and his creepy cronies had wasted no time at all in turning Kirby into an attraction for their town, under the guise of helping to raise money for rebuilding efforts. It had worked like a charm; people came in from far and wide just to walk the streets where the puffball strode, thankfully politer than they’d been last time. Kirby and the Cappies had been nothing short of grateful for their charity.
And yet, Tiff still felt sour about the whole business model.
“What’s the matter with you, Tiff?” her brother asked. “It’s been months since Nightmare’s bit it! Shouldn’t you be happy?”
“I wish I could be happy, Tuff. Really, I do.” She absentmindedly picked up a Kirby plushie from the bed. “But the only reason Dedede is even doing all this for Kirby is because it gets him more money! He doesn’t care that he saved the world, or the galaxy, or anything! He just cares that he can profit off of him!” She collected herself, and then sighed. “It all just feels so…”
“Cheap?” Tuff offered.
Tiff looked down at the stuffed animal in her hands, turning it over and brushing stray chunks of fluff off it. “Yeah, that’s a good word for it.”
Across the town, Dedede was having troubles of his own, though they had less to do with distaste of unbridled merchandizing and more of its upkeep. Dedede was content with his profits secured with the little pink ball, but he needed an edge. A Star Warrior on his side to defend him, to glorify him, to tell bold tales of the mighty king that would be remembered for decades at a low fee. But so far, he’d no such luck.
Sir Arthur and his band refused to compromise their honor and lie for his sake, and pointed out that they had much work of their own with reforming the GSA and keeping an eye out for any evildoers that felt they had free range what with eNeMeE having been ground to stardust. Knuckle Joe and his friend had also refused on the token that they both hated him, and their guardian refused to let them stay off planet any longer and miss any more school. And he knew it was only a matter of time before Meta Knight and his knights came in and asked for their severance checks.
Dedede sighed and ate the last bite of his dinner.
“Feeling a little under the weather, your majesty?” Escargoon asked. “You haven’t been this quiet eatin’ your dinner ever since you found out what cholesterol was.”
“What’re you talking about, Escargoon?! I’m fine!” He whistled towards the Waddle Dees. “Yo! You get me some sherbet!” Dedede pouted and tried to act like his usual self, but the snail could tell there was something off. Meta Knight watched them silently, and then slunk off to his usual vantage point atop one of the tower’s balconies.
He knew that it was fruitless at this point, but he’d gotten so used to his nightly vigil that he couldn’t even sleep through it, even if he tried. It was ingrained into his internal clock, like how he refused to rest without taking his armor off, and he deemed that it would always be that way. Even through he hadn’t had an unpleasant dream in multiple months, and the transporter had been ripped to shreds and repurposed by the people, he still waited for something, anything to happen.
Rain began to gently drizzle down, the cooling sensation on his skin helping to put him less on edge. But Meta Knight’s paranoia paid off as he saw something gold begin to peek through the clouds, something he knew couldn’t be the sun. If he didn’t know any better, it was a shooting star, or a space shuttle crash-landing onto the planet, or a meteorite entering the stratosphere.
A very, very close meteorite.
Meta Knight jumped off of the tower as the unidentified object clipped the far side of the castle wall, spiraling into the courtyard and embedding itself a good few meters into the ground, propping up against the fountain. As the dust settled, he stumbled his way through the rubble it had kicked up, and came face to face with a shiny golden panel. The spherical swordsman slowly extended his arm, and brushed his hand against the reflective metal, wondering why nobody else in the castle had heard the crash, or even felt it.
It seemed that the universe had taken that as a challenge, for in a matter of seconds something much larger and much heavier landed in the bay, causing a shockwave and knocking out all the power in the castle.
At least, that’s what Meta Knight gathered as he could hear Dedede and Escargoon’s panicked shrieking and someone slamming hard into a wall.
Back in the throne room, Dedede was pacing the floor, half panicked and half-livid. As much as he hated to admit it, he thought to himself that Sir Arthur was right; there were still monsters out there, wreaking havoc across planets without Nightmare’s leash around their necks. And now, one had found its way back to Popstar and needed a good clobbering from a regular hero. And it wouldn’t be Meta Knight, or Knuckle Joe, or that creepy little white-haired girl, or that stupid pink ball… it was going to be him, damn it.
Escargoon barely had the time to grab an umbrella as the king marched out the door, his hammer firmly clenched in one gloved mitt. Dedede hauled his right-hand man down to the dungeon, slammed him in the driver’s seat, and barreled into town. The rest of Cappy Town was also in a blackout, with many of its residents quickly milling around the car, shouting their concerns and begging for advice.
“Alright, alright!” Escargoon shouted, still grouchy from having to go out in the rain. “Give him some air, will ya? We’ll answer all of your questions if you just relax.” His eyes nervously darted to Dedede. “I mean, probably.”
“Was it a monster?” Kawasaki asked.
“Maybe one of them survived the fortress exploding!” Mabel cried.
“That’s ridiculous! Nothing could’ve survived that!” Curio countered.
“I saw something land in the bay!” Samo offered up.
“Then it looks like we’re headed to the bay!” Dedede roared. “As your king, it’s my duty to keep you an’ yours all safe and sound! Just don’t worry your pretty little heads, we’ll get right to the bottom of this!”
“We?” Escargoon pathetically asked as the car took off again, heading right towards the docks. The cappies watched on in bewilderment, still not sure if Dedede was actually going to do something, or strong-arm some poor fool into defeating the monster for him.
“I wish it was Kirby that was helping us.” the mayor mumbled when Dedede was out of earshot.
In no time at all, Dedede and Escargoon were out in the middle of the sea, in their speedboat commandeered by a single Waddle Dee. Beneath the choppy waves a golden halo glowed brightly, luring these two villains to it like Kirby to a big patch of watermelons. Dedede’s eyes lit up deviously and prepared his hammer, ready to shout a defiant challenge to whatever creature had decided to invade his planet.
But he never got the chance to emit this cry as their entire ship suddenly lurched and bucked like a wild bronco upon hitting the edge of the ring. By the time they’d blinked, they were stranded in the middle of the ocean, floating aimlessly as they caught their breaths. The tubby king huffed and pounded his fist on the hard metal he laid upon and sat up straight.
“THIS AIN’T FAIR! I’M THE KING, NOT HIM! I SHOULDN’T KEEP A-FAILIN’ TO DO ANYTHING!” Dedede screamed up at the heavens. He scowled and pouted as Escargon looked around, trying to figure out which way the shore was, so that they could paddle back. He noticed something significantly more concerning, however.
“Sire?” Escargoon asked, tugging on Dedede’s coat sleeve. “That’s our boat.” And indeed it was, the speedboat puttering away towards the shore as the Waddle Dee captain hauled ass from the situation. Dedede growled in annoyance.
“Well, what’s that got to do with anything?!” Dedede yelled, punching him in the arm. “Other than that we got a bunch of cowards for our workers!”
“No, I mean… if that’s our boat, then what are we floating on?” The dawning horror soon reached Dedede, and both men looked down. They were atop a golden object, half submerged in the choppy ocean waters. Turning around revealed a catlike mouth and two closed eyes. They sat in amazement, taking in whatever it was that had crashed down, until its eyes snapped open with a vibrant purple glow.
Both let out ear-piercing screams as it began to resurface, flipping them off of its face and into the sea below. The two of them tread water in place, trying to regain their bearings until more objects began to pull themselves off of the ocean floor below. A giant globe, weather-vane, and pocket watch all began to amass and connect themselves to its sides as a pendulum swung down and began to chime a haunting melody. They gaped as it spoke again with a booming monotone.
--> MY NAME IS NOVA. I AM THE CLOCKWORK STAR OF THE GALAXY. TELL ME, WHO ARE YOU?
“Uh…” Dedede’s stomach was currently doing gymnastics and his brain was a puddle of mush. Escargoon wasn’t any help either, his jaw was still slack from witnessing the giant clockwork star reform. The next few seconds felt like hours as Dedede finally willed up the courage to say something. “Muh-my name’s King Dedede, and this here’s Escargoon. An-and I’ve got one thing to say to you.” He picked up the snail and proceeded to use him as a shield. “EAT HIM FIRST!”
Slightly offended, Escargoon yelped and tried to wrestle his way out of the king’s vice grip. But the tubby penguin wasn’t letting go any time soon, no matter how much of a strain it was putting on his doggy-paddle. Thankfully, for both of their sakes, NOVA blinked in appreciation and spoke once more.
--> I MUST THANK YOU, KING DEDEDE.
“Say what, now?” Dedede asked, lowering the protesting snail.
--> YOUR PLANET IS MY REFUGE. MY SANCTUARY. AND FOR THAT, I AM ETERNALLY IN YOUR DEBT.
“Hey, I’m here, too!” Escargoon cried, flapping his arms as if to get the star’s attention. “Don’t I get a cut of this debt, too?”
--> I WILL GIVE YOU EACH A WISH. READY?
Dedede’s eyes lit up and a mischievous grin crossed his face. “Well, now. How’s about you get me some of them Star Warriors to help drum up the business in this dump? Better yet, make it two of ‘em! I need a real deal attraction if I wanna keep Cappy Town from going down like a tree in a forest!”
“And while you’re at it, how about getting us onto dry land?!” Escargoon added with a huff. “I’d prefer not to wake up with the fishes!”
--> 1… 2… 3… GO!
The celestial timepiece lit up, and the two of them quickly covered their eyes as a bright white light filled the sky. They were jolted into alertness when they felt the ground suddenly smack them clean in the face. Pulling himself up from his knees, Dedede looked around to see that he was on the boat, and it was quickly pulling into the harbor. The Waddle Dee looked over its shoulder and breathed a sigh of relief or a moment, until it saw a steamed penguin marching its way. The king was prevented from clobbering the innocent creature within an inch of its life when he heard the chimes again, and turned to see NOVA now floating stories above them.
--> IF THERE IS ANYTHING MORE YOU MUST ASK OF ME, COME AND FIND ME. I WILL BE HERE.
“Wait, you’ll be where?! Here? Is that what you mean?” NOVA disappeared into the night sky without another sound. “Hey! You get back here! Y’all still owe some knights!” Dedede shook his fist at the long-gone star. “Where they at?”
“Well, maybe they’re back at the castle,” Escargoon said, finally getting up. He rubbed the side of his cheek, trying to numb the pain. “Along with some heating and a nice, warm bed.”
Kirby dutifully lit candles under Tokkori’s supervision as the little canary tried to figure out what was going on. Tiff and Tuff had left hours ago, rushing towards the castle in wild hope that it was only an accident, and not a sign of something worse to come. The house was devoid of all food, after a snarky remark from Tokkori regarding refrigeration went right over Kirby’s head and the pastries went into Kirby’s stomach. All that remained was the tiny plush toy of the pink Star Warrior, resting atop the television.
“I bet Dedede stuffed a fork in a toaster just to see what would happen! He’s getting so bored, I think he’s gonna try an’ make it illegal!” The little bird sneered as Kirby half-listened. “But if it is another monster, then I’ll show him a thing or two! I don’t care who these creeps think they are! You don’t just mess with Tokkori when he’s trying to-!”
A loud knock came at the door.
Tokkori squawked in fear and hid under the pillow as Kirby looked up at the sound. He put down the box of matches, picked up the candle he’d just lit and waddled over to the door. With a tiny squeak, he leaned up against it, hearing the sounds of labored breathing and sniffling. His paw reached for the handle as the stranger knocked again, this time, more frantic.
“Hi!” he chirped with a wide smile. He couldn’t quite make out the person’s face, but he could tell they were in trouble.
“Please,” whimpered the figure, as a strike of lightning pealed across the sky, briefly revealing the lavender glow of her hair. “I don’t know where I am, or how I got here… I just need somewhere to stay. Would that be alright?”
“Uh-huh!” Kirby said without a hint of hesitation, immediately taking her by the hand and pulling her into the room. “Kori! Look! A fren’!” He squeaked out. Tokkori popped out from under the pillow, enraged by the baby’s actions, least of which letting this woman track mud through the house.
“This ain’t a bed and breakfast, Kirby!” His complaints fell on deaf ears as Kirby led her to the bed. The purple-haired woman was asleep as soon as she hit the mattress, and Kirby pulled the blanket over her with a gentle smile. Tokkori rolled his eyes, but gently laid down on the pillow beside her, and Kirby curled up at the foot of the bed. The soft little puff looked out the window, listening the rain gently patter atop the domed roof, and fell into a deep slumber with his potential new friend by his side.