"You're looking at the sturdiest, speediest machine to ever sail the skies of Dreamland," Captain Vul cackles, patting the railing affectionately. "With your leadership and my hardware, we'll be unstoppable!"
"A ship this size needs a crew," Meta Knight remarks.
"And a crew it has. You won't be disappointed," Vul says, puffing up proudly. "We have enough manpower to form our own army. And those goons of yours will make good foremen, too."
"That's true." Meta Knight rubs at his chin. "Just answer me one question, Captain Vul."
Meta Knight turns around and jabs a finger towards a lone Waddle Dee, swabbing the deck of the Halberd. He's swinging his mop around and humming tunefully, a sailor cap perched at a jaunty angle on his head. "What is he doing on a ship like this?"
"Oh, er." Captain Vul waves a wing dismissively. "Pay no attention to him, Sir Meta Knight. He's just a cabin boy, that's all, something to swab the decks and haul garbage around."
Meta Knight looks from Vul to the cabin boy. He's still cleaning the ship, oblivious to Meta Knight's presence as he walks over and loudly clears his throat. "Ahem. Boy."
The Waddle Dee yelps and jumps a foot in the air. Meta Knight gives him a moment to pick his hat up off the floor and grab his mop. He shakes and quavers under the gaze of the most feared swordsman in all of Dreamland.
"Keep up the good work," says Meta Knight, and then he walks away.
Three weeks later, the Halberd has pulled off its first successful hit-and-run operation, stealing a shipment of sweets on its way from Yogurt Yard to Orange Ocean. The crew celebrates on deck, gobbling up all kinds of ice cream, cakes, candies and fruit.
All of a sudden, Meta Knight stomps out onto the deck. "Pack that up!" he barks, jabbing a sword at the broken crates. "I don't want to see a single pound of this go to waste! Vul, divvy up part of it for the crew. Sell the rest of it. We need capital if we're going to keep this thing in the air!"
Vul moans and groans through a mouthful of shortcake, but waves his crew back under deck anyway. As Axe Knight and Mace Knight start shoving the food back into the crates, Meta Knight walks over to where Sailor Dee, turned away from him, is suspiciously clutching something.
"What is that?" he growls. "Turn around."
He does. In his hands is something small and shining. It's a round, sparkling lollipop, the most coveted of Dreamland's foodstuffs. It imbues the eater with incredible powers. The things are practically worth their weight in gold.
"I didn't want anyone else to get it," Sailor Dee whispers, looking around nervously. "I thought you should have it, since you're the strongest of all of us."
A week after that, everyone's gathered around the Halberd's newest war machine, a hulking, pluglike monstrosity with huge claws and cannons. "It's a brand new HAL-98862!" declares Captain Vul. "Hmm…the name could stand to be catchier. What should we call it?"
"Laser Knight," offers Axe Knight. "It fits with the theme. Wait, wait, maybe Cannon Knight…"
"We already have three Knights around here already," Meta Knight says dryly. "Any more and I'll start getting territorial."
He glances off to the side. Sailor Dee is staring at it, his head tilted, peering. He looks like he's thinking very hard. "Well?" Meta Knight asks. "What do you think, Dee?"
"Well, it's made of heavy metal, and it looks like a big lobster," Sailor Dee says slowly. "So I think we should call it Heavy Lobster for short."
"It doesn't look like a lobster at all," Axe Knight snaps. "Boss, tell him that's silly. Heavy Metal Lobster. Psshh."
Meta Knight turns around, sweeping his cape around him grandly. "Heavy Lobster it is," he declares. Before Axe Knight can open his mouth, he continues. "Take it down to the hold…and no complaining."
One night, Sailor Dee and Meta Knight are sitting on the deck of the Halberd, staring up at the stars as the ship drifts slowly through the skies of Dreamland. They do this sometimes. They usually don't talk much…just sit side by side.
But tonight, Sailor Dee turns and looks at his boss. "Sir Meta Knight?" he asks. "Who is Kirby, anyway?"
Meta Knight looks back. His cape is wrapped around himself, and for a moment, Sailor Dee think he even looks a bit unsettled. And then, slowly, he starts to tell the story of a young, strange Dreamlander who saved the Fountain of Dreams by effortlessly devouring everything in their path, copying the powers of anything they ate.
"Wow," Sailor Dee says softly. "That sounds kind of scary. And you said they're just a baby?"
"Yes." And yes, it is scary, Meta Knight adds to himself. It's terrifying, actually.
"Gosh." Sailor Dee looks back out at the sky again. "I hope I never have to cross paths with Kirby."
"Kirby's here! He's flying this way!"
"Oh no! Oh no! What do we do?!"
Meta Knight snaps to attention. He barks out orders. Even after they blow the little puffball into the ocean, he still can't relax, because he knows it's not enough.
"We're losing power! Engine number three! Engine number five!"
"There's no power left. We can't fly. We're finished."
Sailor Dee watches as the Halberd is picked apart piece by piece. He does his best not to cry. With his hat in front of his face, he sniffles. It's impossible to say if Meta Knight notices or not.
"I will stay until the bitter end."
"You're all about to perish. Do as you please."
Captain Vul evacuates, and soon Axe and Mace Knight do too. "I don't want to leave," Sailor Dee whimpers into his hat. "I should stay. It's the right thing to do."
On the monitors, he can see Meta Knight grow wings.
"He'll come back for me," Sailor Dee says. "I know he will."
He doesn't. Sailor Dee wakes up in the middle of the ocean, adrift on parts of the wreckage of the Halberd. He waits, and he waits, and he waits, and even after he reaches shore, he keeps waiting.
He builds himself a little house. He catches fish from the ocean. He cooks them over a fire. And then, one day, Sir Meta Knight washes up on shore as well.
Sailor Dee doesn't cry when he hauls him up on land, and he doesn't cry when he takes Meta Knight's pulse and finds out he's alive. It's only when Meta Knight wakes up, finally, that he bawls like a baby.
"I had to take your mask off," wails Sailor Dee, covering his face. "I'm so sorry, Sir Meta Knight." He hands the pieces of it to his leader, wrapped up in the remains of his cape. "They got all cracked and broken. I'm sorry."
Meta Knight stares at them, and then at him. Dee tries not to look back, because he knows Meta Knight doesn't like anyone looking at him when his mask's off. It feels weird and wrong, like people seeing Sailor Dee without his hat.
"It's you," whispers Meta Knight. "You saved my life."
They sit together on the beach. Sailor Dee is fishing for dinner, and Meta Knight is watching.
"Why didn't you evacuate?" Meta Knight asks. "I thought you left with the others."
"I didn't want to leave you," Sailor Dee replies. "I figured, if you were going to return to the ship…"
"I wasn't. The only reason I went down with the Halberd is because Kirby defeated me before I could escape."
"But you did come back," Sailor Dee says. "You washed up on the shore, right?"
Meta Knight thinks. "That's true," he admits. "I suppose I did come back, in the end."
Sailor Dee pulls up his line and tosses another plump, shiny fish into their basket of woven leaves. "I think that's enough. Do you want me to make some dinner?"
"I would love some dinner," Meta Knight sighs. "I'm starving."