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The Dark Meltdown

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“The great king… Can we request an attention from you, for just a bit?”

Dedede, the large penguin king of Dream Land, vast, prosperous and peaceful country, opened his eyes and looked around. Instead of being in his castle, he just felt like he was floating around in the air. Where was he floating?

No idea.

Everything surrounding him was just darkness without any hint on a light source, so he couldn’t even see himself. It couldn’t have been space, since it doesn’t have any stars or planets or meteors in sight… Just where was he?

“Where the hell am I?” Mumbled he to himself.

“Great king, we insist.”

Dedede heard ominous yet oddly familiar voice once again. Feeling like he’s making a mistake but at the same time unable to fight the curiosity, he responded.

“Who are you?! What do you want?!”

Once unseen voice understood that it got Dedede’s attention it revealed itself right before him.

Dedede was suddenly greeted by a giant, bloody red eyeball that appeared out of nowhere right before him.

“Z-z-zero!.. Impossible… Thanks to me, of course, Kirby got rid of all of y’all kind! Dark matter is gone!”

“Dark matter, huh? Is the way you call us? Fascinating. Yet… My foolish, naïve king. We’re not Zero, I can say that. But did you really think that our clan is something that you can just get rid of? How silly of you. And yes, we all remember what you did. But I’m here simply to remind you that there is still part of us in you. And this part is getting rather bored.”

Dedede was getting increasingly terrified by this conversation, but he tried to keep his cool.

The King of Dream Land himself being afraid of something? Nonsense. As long as insects weren’t involved, at least. No dark spheres of negative energy could see him being weak, he won’t give them this satisfaction.

And yet, he had a crippling feeling that this huge eyeball was seeing through his bravado.

“I don’t give a flying Nova about how bored you are getting. I can kick your spherical ass right here and there if I so desire. You won’t scare me!”

“We’re not trying to scare you… Yet you still are afraid. Peculiar creature, you are. We just wanted to remind you of how fun it was to be with us. You could finally let go of all things that were weighing you down. Like… Your connections.”

“What are you talking about?! I like my connections a lot, thank you very much! And I would like to keep them.”

“Come on. You can be honest with us. Aren’t your Waddle Dees are just the most useless servants? They can’t protect. They barely do anything. Isn’t this annoying? Aren’t this Meta Knight person is just a pompous pretentious jerk that you can’t stand?”

Dedede was getting increasingly angry as this Zero look-a-like kept talking.

“And this is without even mentioning Kirby. We bet you would love to finally crush him for good. We can help you with that, you know.”

“SHUT. UP.”

Dedede tried to hit this giant eyeball with all of his might, but only thing his swing did is make him lose balance and start falling down this pit of darkness, getting further and further away from dark matter.

While he was falling, Dedede started to see flashes of all different times his dark thoughts and desires he bottled up were unleashed. He didn’t want to remember this, yet they flashed before his eyes without anything he could do as if they were small annoying flies. Dedede’s thoughts started to get increasingly confused and self-contradictory as he kept falling down.

Does he just want to beat everyone up and conquer everything? Does he want peace and best for everyone? He lost the track of what thoughts were his and what weren’t.

Dedede was getting more and more overwhelmed until he started to scream.

And with that he opened up his eyes again and realized that this was just a dream. No. Not just any dream. A nightmare.

But it was no simple nightmare either…

“Why I keep having this nightmare… It’s like a broken record. I can’t take it anymore.”

 

***

Bandana Waddle Dee was getting ready to start his day.

He was always had to wake up early, at 6 am, way before his king, so he can prepare breakfast and generally start his duties in the castle.

This wasn’t particularly necessary, as Dedede usually woke up somewhere around 1 pm, so it’s not like he would know whether or not Bandana woke up early, but responsible Dee was doing that out of principal. He’s a warrior in-training and warriors “have to keep healthy sleep schedule and can’t slack off”. At least according to Meta Knight.

Bandana Dee stepped into the big royal kitchen. This place was perhaps the most gargantuan kitchen on the entire planet Popstar. Considering Dedede’s appetite (and considering that one of the castle’s frequent visitors had an appetite to match too), this was a huge necessity.

Bandee almost started preparing the ingredients for the royal breakfast as he dropped everything in shock.

Let’s just say, it was unexpected to see Dedede sitting in the front of the small table and quickly consuming instant noodles at 6 am.

“Your majesty, did you wake up early today?”

“AH!”

Dedede nearly fell off. He still was quite shaken up by the nightmare, so he was quite jumpy.

“Bandana Waddle Dee, how many times I told you to not sneak up like that!?”

“…Zero?”

“…Probably. Sorry. I’m a bit nervous right now. Anyway, don’t worry, I just decided to start living a different life style from now on. Benefiting my royal status!”

Bandee was excited to hear that. Finally, his majesty listened to his tips regarding healthier lifestyle. After Dedede promised to follow them for 1000000th time, Bandee understood that this is not something that ever going to happen, so he gave up.

And yet, here we are, he was seeing his king actually waking up early today instead of slacking until the afternoon.

“I decided that I won’t sleep ever again!”

Bandee’s hopes and dreams were crushed in this mere instant.

“YOU CAN’T DO THAT, YOUR MAJESTY!”  Bandee screamed in worry.

“I am the king. I can do whatever I desire. Well, uh-h, almost. But you get the point.”

“Of course, your highness. It’s just… extremely unhealthy. And this worries me. Everyone needs sleep. Maybe, not in excessive amounts like you usually do, but… still. Going from one extreme to another won’t do any good”

Dedede frowned and sighed.

“You just don’t understand. Sleeping is just no longer an option for me.”

“What do you mean? Is something bothering you?”

Dedede blushed as he realized that he almost let it slip and started making wild hand gestures in protest.

“Of course not! I’m the king of Dream Land, nothing can bother me! You shouldn’t worry about my lack of sleep. Kings don’t need sleep. They are built different.”

The King decided to change the topic of this conversation quickly.

“Anywa-a-ay, isn’t there something you should be doing right now?”

“Well, I was going to start cooking breakfast for you.”

“Then why are you slacking off and wasting your time by talking?”

“But, your majesty? Didn’t you literally just eat?”

“My dear Bandana Dee. There’s never enough breakfast. This philosophy is why I am the king and you are not. (Yet.) So, get on it.”

“Honestly, I should’ve seen that coming.”

Bandee couldn’t go against Dedede’s wishes, so he started cooking breakfast, while Dedede slipped from the kitchen room.

“Kiddo asks a lot of questions. Need to be careful around him… The last thing I need is everyone learning about those dreams.” He shuddered at the thought.

“Everyone will think that once again this silly incompetent king let himself get possessed. No! I can handle everything by myself!” Mumbled Dedede to himself, while walking through castle’s long hallways.

“While he’s cooking breakfast, perhaps, it won’t hurt to do a little research?”

Dedede came close to the entrance of the castle’s library.

It was not the biggest one out there, but had quite a few books and few chairs to sit in and enjoy yourself. It was there ever since he made this castle his own, but he barely used it, as, how king himself puts it:

“Reading is for nerds.”

Which however, was just a façade.

Since, to tell the truth, Dedede was a nerd himself. However, he had to keep his “tough guy” image and “tough guys don’t read”. Especially romance novels. The fact that he was reading them was strictly confidential information which only Bandana Dee knew, since he sometimes was bringing books into his king’s bedroom whenever he didn’t feel like going all the way to the library.

After all, it was whole 20 meters away from his bedroom, quite a journey to make.

Either way, there was one section of the library he barely touched. Part filled with books related to various historical research and some outdated scientific and geographical information.

Most of these books were written in languages he didn’t understand or were simply too outdated to bother to finish.

Yet, this time, the king needed some information and fast, so maybe, just maybe, one of the books in the library might’ve contained the solution to his problem.

Shelf was understandably dusty, as no one bothered to touch it for a long time. After taking one of these books, a big cloud of dust rose, making Dedede having an uncomfortable combo of sneezing and coughing.

“After all this is done with, I will certainly yell at Waddle Dee who is responsible for the Library cleaning.” He thought.

Despite all the trouble, book he took was sadly not the thing he was looking for. Neither was the next book. Or the book after that. Shelf was becoming increasingly emptier, while pile of books right next to him was only growing.

He slowly started to lose focus, become increasingly drowsy. The atmosphere of the library coupled with the fact that he had to skim through these books started to take a toll on him. Dedede was becoming increasingly frustrated, until he came across a book with the purple cover that caught his attention.

Unlike all others, it didn’t have title or even a drawing that would describe what was inside. Intrigued, he walked up to one of the chairs, sat down and opened it. Maybe it was his lucky break after all!

Disappointingly, this was all for nothing. It was even worse than previous books, since they were at least written. With words. While this one not only had no pictures, it was all poorly scribbled gibberish.

“How this garbage even got into my library? Royalty such as myself deserves only the best books!”  Dedede wondered, skimming through this book with judgmental look as if he was some sort of literature critic.

Until he came across a very concerning page. Usual gibberish was covered in something black. At a glance, it looked like paint, but it couldn’t be it.

“What the?..”

After he turned another page he was saw the drawing that highly resembled… Dark matter.

“This isn’t good…” Dedede thought. He wanted to throw this book away, but his entire body just froze over and refused to move. This black substance resembling something he deeply feared started to grow, until it manifested into the same being that was haunting his dreams for many days.

“There is no escape, your majesty. There is no point in running. You just should… accept us. As part of yourself.”

Unlike the last encounter, Dedede couldn’t even force himself to speak. He couldn’t do anything, except for sitting and watching how Dark Matter was slowly growing and filling up the entire room. Towering over Dedede as it’s single eyeball was staring at him.

“YOUR MAJESTY, BREAKFAST’S READY!”

***

Dedede fell into the pile of books that grew behind him, failing to understand where is he or what is going on.

Then it hit him. He fell asleep once more.

“I should’ve known that this dump will just make everything worse. I will have to try different approach.”. He thought while getting up.

Besides, it’s time for Bandee’s signature breakfast that always lifted his spirits up.

He came to his big dining hall with a very long table. This hall was designed to accommodate as much guests as possible, but ever since Dedede took over this castle, it felt like it was designed to accommodate for his appetite instead.

King’s part of the table (which was most of said table) was filled with various sorts of tasty food, but Dedede decided to start with something less flashy yet amazing nonetheless, Bandee’s special apple pie.

He took a small bite to appreciate the flavor before diving into it proper, but… He didn’t feel anything. Food was in his mouth, but he didn’t feel any taste. Flavor senses weren’t tingling.

He took another bite, and another, he ate half of this pie, and yet, it just felt absolutely tasteless. It’s as if he ate a piece of paper or something and Dedede was pretty sure that even paper would have more distinct taste than this.

“Bandana Dee, what is the meaning of this? Why your pie today is so bad?!”

Bandee was surprised. Usually, it was part of the breakfast he was the most proud of.

“But I cooked it like I usually do, without any changes.”

“Are you sure?” Skeptically responded king. “Then maybe you won’t mind trying out a bit of it yourself?”
Bandana Dee was confident in what he said, so he came closer to the table and ate a little piece of pie. It tasted pretty great, as he came to expect. In fact, it was so great, little Dee couldn’t help but eat the entire piece of this pie.

“I don’t know what are you talking about, sire. I did it just like you always liked it.”

Dedede suddenly began to realize what was going on. He took a bite of every dish on the table and it led to the same result. He felt nothing. Somehow dark matter made it so he can’t taste anymore.

Another one of things that used to bring him happiness was taken away from him.

Dedede signed and got up from the table.

“Bandee, I’m sorry for lashing out on you earlier. I’m suddenly not in the mood for eating today. Thanks anyway for your service, I guess. You and other Dees can share this breakfast.”

“But your highness! This is so unlike you. Maybe I just should try to cook something else?”

“It has nothing to do with the menu. It was excellent as always. I’m proud of you. I just, don’t feel like it, that’s all.”

With these words Dedede slowly waddled away.

“He doesn’t want to sleep, he doesn’t want to eat. Something is clearly very wrong with His Majesty! I need to do something, quickly!”

And the best thing Bandee came up with is to go to Kirby for advice.

***

Bandana Dee quickly got from Castle Dedede to Kirby’s house, riding one of Dedede’s nruffs he kept for his Waddle Dees for the fast travel.

Kirby’s house was spherical and small, very much like its owner. Despite that, it manages to cram quite a few people inside if it was necessary. Which made this house to be one of the two common hanging out spots for friends in Dream Land, alongside Castle Dedede.

After he jumped off nruff, he came up to the door and politely knocked on it, expecting the response.

But there wasn’t any.

He tried knocking louder, but nothing happened this time either. Bandee walked up to the window and saw that Kirby was still sleeping.

While it took some time for Bandee to prepare breakfast, he forgot that it’s still relatively early morning. The fact that the king woke up early today threw him off.

Kirby (whether he likes to admit that or not), not that different in his sleeping habits from Dedede, he also usually liked to sleep until 12 pm at the very least if nothing bothered him.

Dream Land was currently in its peaceful days, at least it seemed so on the surface, so Kirby was rightfully relaxing.

As much as Dee didn’t want to wake him up, it was an emergency. It can’t be helped.

This time Bandee tried to knock on the window and it worked. Perhaps, too well. Kirby fell off the bed, panicking.

“OH NO! EARTHQUAKE!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!”

“Kirby, it’s me!” Yelled Bandee from the outside.

Kirby quickly noticed him and used his inhale ability to suck his friend right into his house. Window, of course, got broken in the process.

Kirby’s house was a bit bigger inside then you’d imagine looking at it from the outside.

Despite understandably not having any rooms, it was split into several small “sections”. Kitchen section with a fridge, few cooking supplies Kirby almost never used and a table, “Fun Activities” section where Kirby was drawing, watching TV and playing with toys he had and (the most important one of the bunch) Sleeping Bed section. That’s where Bandee landed now.

“What do you think you’re doing?!”

“What ARE YOU doing there?! There’s earthquake outside! It’s very dangerous!”

“There is no earthquake! It was me. I just knocked on the window, because you’re such a sleepyhead, you can’t hear knocks on the door.”

Kirby was half-asleep so he didn’t quite understand what was going on around him well yet. Realizing his mistake, he blushed out of embarrassment.

“I’m sorry, Bandee. What brings you so early anyway? Do you want to share breakfast with me?!”

Kirby’s eyes fired up in excitement.

“Well, not exactly…”

Bandee quickly told about Kirby about Dedede’s weird behavior this morning.

Kirby got very concerned.

“HE DOESN’T WANT TO EAT OR SLEEP? He must’ve gone mad! Why would one refuse such beautiful gifts of life?! We must save Dedede!”

“Phew, Kirby, I’m glad you are so enthusiastic about it.”

“But what are we going to do? Do you have a plan?”

“Actually I hoped you will suggest something?”

“Bandee, you know I’m not exactly great at staratata… Strete… Uh-h. Stra-te-gi-zing?”

Dee sighed. Kirby was right. He isn’t exactly “the brains” of the team, so to speak. He was strong, empathetic. Very emotionally intelligent and reliable friend. But coming up with plans wasn’t his strongest suit.

“Well, Dedede refused to tell me anything… Maybe he can’t refuse to the two of us?”

“Worth a try! But I can’t think clearly on an empty stomach. So, I’m going to have breakfast first.”

“Kirby, we got to hurry! And your stomach is never full anyway.”

“I know. Will you join me?” Kirby grinned and proceeded to go to his fridge, choosing food for breakfast.

Bandee shrugged. “Might as well, I suppose.”

After short (as in, 40 minute long, and this is with Bandee’s begging to hurry up), breakfast, Kirby’s fridge got completely empty and duo rushed off to the Castle Dedede on nruff, hoping that situation didn’t got worse with Bandana Dee gone.

Thankfully, his majesty was just swinging his hammer around in the training room.

It wasn’t used too often and when it was used, it was mostly for sparring matches between Dedede and Kirby.

Dedede rarely trained by himself. But this time situation was different.

“Maybe a little bit of training will take my mind off this stupid dream problem…” King was thinking while making another powerful hammer swing.

“Your highness, can I have your attention for a moment?” wondered Bandee.

“Ah, what?! Bandana Waddle Dee, what I was saying earlier today about sneaking up on me?”

“I’m sorry, your majesty. I just…”

Dedede noticed that Bandee brought Kirby with him.

“Oh, so you came to train! Perfect timing! This is wonderful!”

This is not a kind of reaction either Kirby or Bandee were anticipating, but they decided to roll with it.

“It’s about time Bandana Dee forgot about his puny spear and started training with the mighty hammer and Kirby learned how to use hammer properly.

“But I love my spear!” Bandee often had arguments with the king. Dedede really wanted him to abandon the spear in favor of his favorite weapon, while Bandee was quite comfortable with the spear and didn’t want to change weapons. Especially since hammer was very heavy and he couldn’t just carry it around so easily like Dedede.

“What is wrong with my hammer skills?!” Kirby quickly got mad.

Truth in that that Kirby couldn’t use one of the strongest hammer moves – “hammer throw”, properly. If he used it once, he would lose the hammer instantly. He couldn’t make it return like Dedede. This always stung Kirby and didn’t like to be reminded of this shortcoming he got.

Regardless, Dedede didn’t listen to any complaints and training was in session.

While Bandee struggled to even pick up hammer, Kirby was getting increasingly annoyed with how nitpicky Dedede was getting.

“No, no, NO! This is all wrong! You should have hands in different angle entirely! And what IS this feet position? And you call yourself a hero of Dream Land, pft.”

“I wasn’t calling myself that.”

Kirby’s patience was really wearing thin. He liked Dedede and hanging out with him, but at this point he was ready to smack Dedede’s head with this hammer at any moment.

Dee caught annoyance in Kirby’s eyes and walked up to him.

“Kirby, I know he is getting too passionate about this, but please, bear with him. He acts like himself today for a change. Humor him!”

Kirby had no choice but to listen. He didn’t want to disappoint his friend and he did want to help Dedede, after all.

Training was going about as smoothly as almost any activity with Dedede, but trio in the end was having fun by purely being around each other.

But then…

“Now, watch me closely Kirby. You always get this move wrong. Did you know that when you use “hammer throw”, you can actually do it without losing it?”

Kirby was genuinely intrigued.

“I had no idea! How can you do that?”

“Well, now you will find out, how real hammer pros, like me, do it.”

Dedede grinned. He was in his element. But then, before he could do anything, he saw Dark Matter right in the middle of the room. It was just floating there, staring at the king with its cold, emotionless eye.

Dedede’s hammer fell on the floor. He couldn’t believe it. Did he fall asleep again? He couldn’t allow that. Not when things started to go so well for once during this dreaded day!

“Not you again, you scumbag! Get lost!” Dedede screamed.

Dark Matter wasn’t responding. It just continued floating in place, without taking its sight away from Dedede.

“Go! Away! Go! Away!” Dedede start slapping himself, in hopes that this will force him to wake up.

 But the reality of the situation was that he wasn’t asleep.

Bandana Dee and Kirby were confused and terrified about what was happening right before their very own eyes.

Dedede was screaming at nothing. Beating himself up. He was begging something to go away. Something they couldn’t see.

“We should do something, instead of just stand and watch!” Said Kirby.

He didn’t quite know what to do, so he acted on impulse. Kirby finally gave him a good smack with a hammer. He used hammer throw move.

While it was imperfect, it was good enough to land on Dedede’s head and give him a good bonk. He fell on the floor unconscious.

“KIRBY, THIS IS NO WAY TO DO IT!”

“See, this is why I don’t come up with plans!”

***

When Dedede came back to his senses, he was in his bedroom, surrounded by his loyal Waddle Dees, Bandana Dee and Kirby.

“Your highness, you are alive!”

“Of course, I’m alive, you goofs. As if I can die this easily. But you all should get out of here. Right. Now.”

“Before we go, Your majesty, maybe you should tell us? This is obvious that’s something bad is happening to you. We just want to help.”

All Bandee wanted is to get some answers. He was becoming more and more worried. He admired and cared for Dedede so much, he wanted to help him at any chance he could.

“Yeah, tell us please! I cannot imagine how you decide to live without sleep or food! Why would you choose such miserable life devoid of joy?!” Kirby almost certainly overdid it. He really wanted to help his old friend, but his empathy perhaps got the best of him.

Dedede responded by throwing both out of his bedroom into the castle’s corridor and slamming the door.

After he did that, Dedede realized that waddle dees still remained in his room.

“Should you get special invitation like those two?”

Waddle dees didn’t need another word and left the room on their own terms.

“Great job, Kirby.” Bandee frowned.

“Thanks, Bandee! But I think we need to try a different approach.”

“And what should we try, exactly?” Wondered Dee.

“I think we should try… stake out.”

“Stake out? What is that?”

“Haven’t you watched any movies, Bandee? Stake out is when you are spying on somebody without him noticing! We might see something while he doesn’t expect anyone to be around him.”

“And how do you propose that, exactly?”

“Leave it to me!”

Kirby jumped into the nearby window and started floating. He was looking for something. After a few minutes he returned with cool purple hat with a yellow feather and with a bow behind his back.

“I’m an Archer Kirby now! And now we can proceed with stake out.”

Bandana Dee was quite baffled.

“How does shooting arrows going to help us?”

“Well, we won’t be needing arrows today. I think. It’s just that Archer Kirby got one of the best moves - “camouflage”!”

Kirby took a big cardboard in form of a bush out of thin air.

“This will be our cover!”

“…Kirby, this is just a bush. Bushes don’t grow inside the castle. And even besides that. It’s a cardboard bush. No one is going to be fooled by this. I don’t want to doubt you too much. But I honestly can’t see how this is going to help us.”

“Just trust me!”

Kirby looked at Bandee with very hopeful eyes. Kirby always gave him this look whenever he start to doubt him. Dee signed.

“Okay. We don’t have any better ideas at the moment.”

Bandee and Kirby hid behind “the bush”. One of the Waddle Dees was passing by. He looked at the bush with very thoughtful look on his face. After which he just shrugged and continued to go wherever he was going to.

“Kirby, this is incredible! I shouldn’t have doubted you for a second.”

“I know. I am pretty incredible.”

“And you said that you can’t come up with plans.”

“Well, sometimes I can.” Kirby blushed.

Duo slowly crawled while holding their “cover”. They slipped into Dedede’s room without much noise.

King, of course, was a man of his word, and wasn’t sleeping. He was just sitting right next to the window and looking at the night sky.

Nothing of interest was happening… Just Dedede staring at the sky.

“This stake out is so boring!”

Kirby was getting rather impatient pretty quickly.

“Shhh, Kirby, he might hear us… And it was your idea anyway.”

“Yeah, but I thought something exciting would happen right away! Like in the movies!”

“Kirby, hate to bring this to you, but we are not in the movie right now.”

“This is the sad reality we living in. I wish I was in a movie.”

Despite Bandee’s worries, Dedede didn’t really notice Kirby’s mumbling. Copy ability’s power was this strong.

While Dedede wasn’t going to sleep any time soon, it didn’t mean that Kirby and Bandee were prepared to do the same. They tried to fight it, but soon enough they grew more and more sleepy. Eventually they couldn’t resist any longer and just fell asleep.

Bandana Dee was first to wake up, he trained himself so he won’t be wasting too much time on sleep.

What he saw was… Their cover fell off.

“Oh no.”

He looked around. Both of them still were in Dedede’s bedroom. But there was no Dedede himself anywhere…

“Kirby, wake up! Dedede went missing!”