March #34: The Challenge

*Esco's Chamber, very late at night*

Esco: *Speaking in tongues* (So let me get this straight. You're telling me EVERYONE disappeared?)

Master Kazan: (That is correct.)

Esco: (Kunzo Hashan?)

Master Kazan: (Yes.)

Esco: (Dain Watokhan?)

Master Kazan: (Again, yes.)

Esco: (S-Sai Fasier?)

Master Kazan: (Definitely him.)

Esco: (I don't get it. How could this happen...)

Master Kazan: (When I lost you and Xalessa, I knew that would be the end. The Kazan Clan was never able to return to its former strength. To make matters worse, the Defecters resurfaced with their own clan, and struck when we were most vulnerable-)

Esco: (The Defecters? You mean the Erased Elites?)

Master Kazan: (Correct. The ones who will never be mentioned as long as Kazan lives.)

Esco: (Dammit. They are probably responsible for the disappearances...)

Master Kazan: (Impossible. I personally killed them myself. There was another who came later. A shadow mage, much like the Dark User himself.)

Esco: (You mean!?)

Master Kazan: (Yes. The same user who killed Xalessa. I fear that all of my fighters have succumbed to the dreaded Blackened Seal. I hope I am wrong, for there has never been a single survivor of such an accursed technique.)

Esco: (Actually, there's something I have to show you...)

*Esco turns around and removes his shirt*

Master Kazan: *Jumps back in surprise* (H-HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE!? YOU SURVIVED!?)

Esco: (The same night Xaless died, I received this curse. I don't know why I survived, but I've been living with the shame of my failure ever since. That is why I never returned.)

Master Kazan: (I must leave now. I'm sorry, but witnessing the tangled insanity in person brings back long-suppressed memories.)

Esco: (Understood. Feel free to stay within the stadium while you're here. I'll have Kevin prepare you a room.)

Master Kazan: (Thank you.) *Leaves*

*The below the lake, far away from the Stadium. The mech that Sloan has been using is in much better shape now. Sloan seems to be putting on some strangely non-horribly colored gloves to go with some sort of outfit.*

Sloan: I know it's a crime against my style to do this, but, some things have to be sacrificed.

???: Your style is nonexistent. Your humor is too. Why did you rebuild me only to leave me behind?

Sloan: My plans are much more complex than yours. I don't want to capture any Stadium. I just want to have fun.

???: Why does fun involve dressing up as a different species? Why are you taking out those odd weapons?

Sloan: Because, *as his form shimmers to resemble a Leukos* there simply is no other way to make them believe I'm not me.

???: Sure there is. Start making sense, stop wearing bad clothes and maybe get a haircut.

Sloan: You're my AI drone, not the other way around.

???: No I am not. I am S--

Sloan: *Bemusedly pushes a button; a pained scream is heard, before the voice speaks again.*

???: Point taken, you are not as stupid as my past owners.

Sloan: Now I have one simple job, and it's called 'hold the fort.' No one gets in. No one finds this place. And no one talks to you or knows you are alive. Or I force you to see all 900 of those history logs I stole from Metal's Smash Dex, in order, with no commercial breaks or explanation of why, several logs in, Metal and the Questers randomly change behavior and--

???: Shut up, I'll guard this wreck. Anything to avoid THAT.

Sloan: Good. Now be nice to the mech's electronics while I'm gone. I expect to do grand things. And those things will only happen if you don't screw it up.

???: What do you think I am, Metal Man?

Sloan: The Void's least loyal tool.

???: ...Don't insult me with that description.

Sloan: Just sayin'. You don't have a lot to recommend you. I'll kill you and replace you in an instant if you try funny business with me.

???: Can the audience at least see my name?

Sloan: No. That's your punishment for being so snarky with me. Insult me more and I'll prematurely end your screen time.

???: Fine. Do your thing.

Sloan: Thank you, SIMBER.

SIMBER: Wait, you just sai--

Sloan: That's your last line for a very long time, anyway. *Warps out*

*A wounded Ganondorf heals himself with some sort of potion, as he walks towards the Stadium.*

Ganondorf: The Time Knights must be back in control now... the Hands would have killed me by now. *Grins*

Ganondorf: Seraphis was a short-sighted fool. This Stadium can still be taken, and I don't even need him. *Takes out his Sage sword* After all, the Stadium is just as empty as when its first usurper took it.

*Digi's broom closet: Empty.*

*Light Bear's office: Empty. Light Bear presumed sobbing or running in fear from his last glimpse of insanity.*

*Esco's Chamber: Sealed shut, as usual.*

Twilight: *is sitting down on a bed in the room she and Dash sleep in, and is typing on a laptop* So...what was it you wanted me to search the web for again, Dash?

Rainbow Dash: See if you can find any information about the White Lands before they were called Equestria. I really don't think we can afford to let Esco's paranoia get any worse, Twi.

Twilight: *rubs her chin, worried* That...does seem logical. I'll see what I can do.

*Pat V: Standing by the entrance of the Stadium.*

Pat: I'm standing by the entrance of the Stadium.

*Stop that, Pat, it's no more amusing than when you did it nearly 10 years ago.*

Pat: Stop that, Pat, it's... oh.

*Pat shakes his head.*

Pat: Old habits die hard. *Looks down the way* Come to attack the Stadium again, Ganondorf? I thought you learned not to do such dumb things.

Ganondorf: *Annoyed* You know I come here for honorable combat. I could have destroyed you when I was out of sight earlier.

Pat: I don't think so! I haven't been here all these years just to be defeated by the likes of you.

Ganondorf: Whatever. *Walks by Pat* I have an honorable challenge. This Stadium was mine, and when its rules were made originally, this challenge was made law. Nobody, not even Seraphis, could remove it, because I had it enchanted into the very foundations of it. I may have failed to take it back this way before, but if your leader fails to appear, then it is mine.

Pat: Can't I fight in his stead?

Ganondorf: Then you couldn't have taken this Stadium over back when Seraphis went missing.

Pat: ...Darn. You're right. It wouldn't work. I hate when villains actually are right.

Ganondorf: You keep saying I'm evil. I don't think you know what real evil is.

Pat: What?

Ganondorf: Your leader has already killed more souls than there are people in all of Hyrule. All I wish to do is bring them and this Stadium under my rule.

Pat: ...Well, to be honest, we don't question Metal after he killed Seraphis like he did, or destroyed Nintendus, or took over NC. People who do that tend to die.

Ganondorf: Granted, but he's not here. Maybe you should grow a backbone some day. There won't always be Genocidal maniacs protecting you from your lack of fortitude. *Walks into the Stadium*

Pat: ...Days like this make me wish Billy hadn't retired on me. I really could have slapped him for that nonsense. *sighs* Time to search for Metal again...

*Metal's office*

*Metal's stuff is burning on the floor. The window is broken. Metal is missing.*

Pat: What? Where did he go?

*Pat looks about, and notices a glowing outline*

Pat: ...He went back in time. So... he can't come back at this time.. or forgot to... fudgecakes, Ganondorf will take the Stadium if nothing is done about it!

*Mewtwo floats in, nonplussed.*

Mewtwo: Shall I become emergency head SP and defeat Ganondorf?

Pat: What?

Mewtwo: What, did you forget already? Metal vanishes all the time. He said I could take his place when he does. Otherwise this stupid, poorly run excuse for a stadium would be completely doomed.

Pat: Now look here, Mewtwo, this isn't Nintendus. Maybe I should have a backbone and run this Stadium myself. I AM the most senior and--

Mewtwo: I can just take all your coins like old times, Pat. You're as threatening as a rubber yoga mat.

Pat: ... *Fire burns in his eyes*

Mewtwo: Don't give me that, Pat. You are all flash and no fire. Metal made me his designated hitter, not you.

Pat: But... but he told me I was important...

Mewtwo: A symbol. He uses you for that. But he trusts ME. *Glows* Why not? I'm the only competent person in the entire building, in all of both the Nintendus Stadium and this one. I'll probably find a third one when this world dies just like that Nintendus one did. You'll just be another anecdote I mention to scare new people.

Pat: ...No. I will defeat Ganondorf! His rules may say I can't, but if he's beaten up, he can't very well challenge you!

Mewtwo: *Laughs* You and your outdated attacks wouldn't harm him. He probably has a giant magnet to absorb all your Ki with. You last seriously trained years ago. I don't even need to train, myself. I just AM. *Reorganizes entire room to no longer be a mess without lifting a finger*

*Ganondorf strides out to the arena. The crowd has already assembled. Ganondorf holds out his arms.*

Ganondorf: Remember me, Stadium fans? I have returned... to honorably and rightfully take this Stadium back. If there is no challenge from the leader... then by the ancient laws I myself made, this Stadium will be mine!

*Pat and Mewtwo are too busy arguing to notice this at all*

Ganondorf: The time is here.. and no one has come! This means--

???: No! You have taken nothing!

*A shadowy figure appears, with a jagged sword and odd appearance, interrupting Ganondorf and standing opposite him, ready for battle!*

Ganondorf: Pah, you're no more than a dust particle. This Stadium is MINE!

???: You would besmirch your own rules by taking the Stadium without battling its champion?

Ganondorf: *Mumbles, looks shocked* You can't have known that! It was entirely secret! ...Fine You know too much. You must die.

???: I knew you would succumb to your need to kill innocents sooner or later. Never fear, for I, Lanos, last defender of the Stadium, stand at guard!

Pat: Lanos? Is that some brand of cereal?

Mewtwo: Silence, Pat. There is a battle. We must comment on it!

Pat: Shouldn't we be fighting Ganondorf?

Mewtwo: You want to fight Ganondorf alone?

Pat: ...No.

Mewtwo: Then let the match begin!

*Ganondorf walks up and in one smooth blow, knocks Lanos down to one knee by slashing his leg.*

Ganondorf: You have not even bothered to deflect a simple attack, knave! You stand no chance against me!

Lanos: It is not brute force but bravery that has always defeated you!

*Lanos makes a blind lunge for Ganondorf. Ganondorf laughs and sidesteps as Lanos falls in the dirt.*

Ganondorf: Perhaps when amplified by the Triforce. But all you have is a stupid looking sword.

*Ganondorf Wizard Foot-blasts Lanos, who flies a few feet and again lands in the dirt.*

Ganondorf: See? Pointless!

Lanos: *Gets up* Nothing is pointless! Not when it is in the name of good!

Mewtwo: It looks pretty pointless to me, Pat.

Pat: Yeah, he hasn't scored a single hit. Do we even have a reading on his health?

Mewtwo: Do I look like I tag all people who enter the stadium with health monitors?

Pat: Touche.

Lanos: *Swings at Ganondorf* Be ended, evil demon!

*Ganondorf leaps back and laughs again*

Ganondorf: Know your place, WHELP! *Hurls lightning*

*Lanos is struck by the lightning and falls face down on the dirt*

Ganondorf: Is that quite enough, or shall I end you now? *Brandishes his white blade*

Lanos: I will not... give up! *Gets up again*

Mewtwo: His persistence almost annoys me.

Pat: But he's fighting for us!

Mewtwo: Gag me. Oh, right, I don't use my mouth to speak. So much for your pathetic human language.

Pat: Did they put something bitter in the water back on Nintendus?

Mewtwo: You tell me. Ever had a crazed maniac steal an entire team of Questers and a past version of yourself before?

Pat: ...That's odd. I suddenly remember Metal tricking me into fighting people outside of Nintendus for him...

Mewtwo: Precisely.

Pat: But you're missing the action! Ganondorf is punching Lanos senseless!

Ganondorf: I *PUNCH* don't *PUNCH* get *PUNCH* WHY *punch* YOU *punch* KEEP *Punch* WASTING *Punch* ALL *PUNCH* my time!

Lanos: *With broken teeth, spits blood* Every second of your villainous time deserves to be destroyed!

Ganondorf: ENOUGH! *Begins charging up a Warlock Punch* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA--

Pat: Well, that was quick.

Mewtwo: I'll have Dr. Mario collect the debris and revive it, if only so I can watch him be destroyed again for my amusement.

Pat: You're one twisted pokemon.

Mewtwo: Consider that I and my friends are used as slaves to fight for bad people in some places in Kanto, then maybe you'll understand why humans destroying eachother amuses me.

Pat: ...Touche again.

*Ganondorf finishes his charge, and goes to punch.*

Ganondorf: Begone, nuisance! HAAAAAAAAAAAA--OURGH!

*Ganondorf's fist... has that sword stuck deep in it, deep enough to destroy his entire arm. He falls down, astonished.*

Ganondorf: No... how could you... what...

*Lanos dusts himself off*

Lanos: Faking being weak is the oldest trick in my book, and you fell right onto it and my sword. Now if you're done being a worthless villain... get away from this Stadium!

Ganondorf: No, but this is MY stadium!

*Lanos would backhand Ganondorf, causing him to stumble backwards.*

Lanos: Say that again.

Ganondorf: ... *Walks off, sulking*

Pat: Well... that was... that.

Mewtwo: Impressive. I am not the only one who gets the concept of vengeance after all.

Pat: But what about Metal?

Mewtwo: Forget about him! He's gone forever!

Metal: I sure am.

Pat: Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Mewtwo: Gah!

*Metal walks in from a portal, dusting his hands off.*

Metal: So, what's up guys?

Pat: Well, Ganondorf nearly took over the Stadium.

Mewtwo: Then you forfeited by not being around to defend it.

Pat: Then some weird guy dealt with it in a weird fashion!

*The crowd throws roses to Lanos and cheers*

Lanos: Never fear, Stadium. I am your true protector--I do not need monetary reward to ensure this wonderful place survives. I shall remain here, to protect you forever!

*More cheers as Lanos walks off stage surrounded by new fans*

Metal: Meh, it'll lose its interest in a week. I have stuff to do. *Walks off*

Pat: Now what?

Mewtwo: I'm going back to Nintendus for a good drink... perhaps some Super Potion. You... you are stuck here. *Warps out*

Pat: ...Dang it, he's right. *Kicks the ground and walks off*

*Esco is walking about, looking for Kevin*

Esco: Where is he....

*Esco bumps into Metal*

Metal: Hey, watch where you're going!

Esco: *Groans* Not you again...

Metal: Not me? That's the name Aribar used to use!

Esco: Can you ever NOT go one day without going on about things I can't possibly know anything about?

Metal: NEVER! That would be the day I die!

Esco: That could be arranged.

Metal: HAH! Not anymore! *Takes out a fancy silver gun and brandishes it* I'll shoot whoever tries to death first! Starting with Garrick!

Esco: Right... because you did so well the last time...

Metal: Hmph. You doubt me? *He gets a strange grin on his face* I'll prove it eventually! All that death knocked me out of my trance. I can really cause some damage if I want!

Esco: Ugh... I have some Stadium business to do right now, can you save the insanity for someone with less to do?

Metal: No! I mean yes! Ahhhhh!!!! *Runs through a wall*

Esco: . . . Fine. Whatever.

*Enter Kevin*

Kevin: Hey Esco, I got that room ready. Still, I don't get it. Who is this guy, some friend of yours? He's obviously not from around here... I could barely understand a word he said.

Esco: Kevin, that man is Master Kazan.

Kevin: You... what!? Really? Why didn't you say so?

Esco: I don't think he would like it if you squeed all over him like a crazed fangirl.

Kevin: *Shakes his head* Man Esco, you really think I would do that? I mean, yeah I'm excited he's here, but I wouldn't just-

*Kevin spontaneously starts frothing at the mouth and doubles over. Esco looks over his shoulder to see Master Kazan's silhouette disappear down the hall*

Esco: ... You were saying?

*SIMBER is awakened by a strange noise. It's Sloan.*

SIMBER: What are you doing back here?

Sloan: A funny thing happened on the way to the Stadium.

SIMBER: You gained non-stupid fashion sense?

Sloan: It turns out I saved the Stadium.

SIMBER: Wasn't that your plan?

Sloan: *Drops mask onto the floor* Somebody ELSE did, that is, while looking like me!

SIMBER: ...I guess some people who are not me would be shocked by that. All I want to know is whether I have to wait more for no reason.

Sloan: Yes. After I repair some damage I incidentally got on the way, I'm going after this person. Only I get to mess up my plans! Not somebody else. You clear?

SIMBER: I'm so clear, you can see through me.

Sloan: *Facepalms at horrible pun* Whatever.

*And the scene fades out.*

Kevin: *Gets up* Eheheheh... I think I got a little carried away there.

Esco: You think?

Kevin: Oh, this reminds me! It's been a while since your last Kazan story.

Esco: Hmm, it has been a while, hasn't it? Very well. Today, I'll tell you about my old rival, Captain Crack.

Kevin: Captain Crack?

Esco: It was a nickname. His real name was Dain Watokhan.

Kevin: Ah, I get it.

Esco: Crack was my oldest friend out of all the Kazan ninjas. Back in our school days, he used to pick fights with all the tough guys, and became well-known as the strongest kid in school. That is, until he fought me.

Kevin: Let me guess, you kicked his AAA?

Esco: That's putting it bluntly, but yes. After that, he started a friendly rivalry with me, which forced us both to work harder than ever before as we attempted to out-perform each other. He actually completed Kazan's Elite Test a year before I did, which surprised everyone.

Kevin: Really? How so?

Esco: Well, Crack was a good fighter, but he was a terrible ninja. He couldn't spy, assassinate, or infiltrate. His main purpose on missions was to serve as a distraction and nearly get himself killed every time. Of course he didn't care. In fact, I think he used to have fun on missions, referring to them as "adventures", and would always play his role in an over-the-top fashion, much to the annoyance of the enemies who just couldn't seem to hit him because of his speed.

Kevin: Heh, he reminds me of Captain Falcon.

Esco: You know what? That's actually not too far off!

Kevin: HAH! So, how does this story end? I mean, that Xaless one was a bit of a downer...

Esco: I'm afraid this one doesn't have an ending. I don't know what's become of him after I left. For your own sake, I'll just say that he's probably off on one of his adventures, "kicking AAA". The end.

Kevin: All right then.