Chapter Nex: System Clash

From across the plains to the left she came striding, red hair flowing as a waterfall and clad in the worn yet prominent garments that signified the harsh life of being an outcast. Every step was laced with purpose, her stride strong, strong as her gaze. The weapons on her back, a spear and a bow, clung to her dearly, glinting wickedly under the sun.

Hopefully, with All-Mother's blessing, she would have no need for them. But if she did…

From across the plains to the right, he marched, back straight, straighter than the masterful looking blade strapped behind him. He had the sharp, handsome features of an elf right down to a gaze that could cut diamonds and pointed ears. A bandana covered his crop of golden-blonde spiked hair, the stern winds ruffling his loose clothing.

He had always planned to do this, settling an old score, and now with Zelda safe for what felt like the hundredth time, he now had the opportunity….

The sun beat down from on high, radiating massive waves of heat that neither of the two felt. The one from the left had lived her entire life in the cruel, unforgiving caress of nature, while the one from the right had undergone more journeys than there were stars in the sky.

"So," she started plainly, stopping only once he had, only when they were within spitting distance, "you're the new kid on the block, hm?"

As Aloy was considerably taller than him, what with his head only reaching her bust, Link had to incline to meet her gaze, but his was no less steely.

"Interesting. You say 'new kid' when I've been around since nearly the dawn of gaming," he responded evenly, canting his head to the side. "If anyone's the newbie, I think it's you, Ms New IP."

Something of a twitch overtook Aloy's left brow when Link offered up the smuggest of grins. A few moments later, she was sporting one of her own and gave a grand wave of her arm off to the side. As if summoned through that single motion, a multitude of numbers began to spring forth, all of them ranging from the low 90's to a few 100's.

She jerked a thumb at the floating digits hovering about her. "Well, for the new IP that I am, these scores are pretty impressive."

"True, that they are, impressive indeed," Link conceded with a small acknowledging incline of his head, "but…." Using that same lofty arm movement, the legendary Hylian summoned his own plethora of numbers, these ranging from the high 90's to a vast amount of 100's. They dance about merrily, almost mockingly. "They don't hold a shield to what I've accomplished."

Instead of backing down, there was something impressive in the way Aloy crossed her arms, now intentionally staring down her nose at the man. "You know what else is an accomplishment? A first time newbie such as myself selling two-point-six million copies in the first two weeks. Now, if my math is correct, that means I beat your two-point-four million by a minuscule but not unnoticeable two-hundred-kay," she mused, tapping her bottom lip. "I mean, I figured my tale would be popular… but to beat out yours and all its hallowed notoriety? My, my…."

The stillness of Link's face was absolute; only a few renegade strands of hair seemed to move, jostled by the wind. When his left shoulder gave a relaxed shrug, he lifted a hand, summoning what looked like a PlayStation 4 that hovered in very much the same way as the flickering numbers about him. "You forget your user base is at least ten times that of my own. When your sales are over fifty million strong, only selling two and a half million might seem like something of a disappointment, no?" he wondered. "My release was virtually a system seller, and selling the units I did can only be seen as a triumph worthy of a Hylian such as myself."

Elfish pride really was a spectacle, Aloy figured, watching as Link squeezed his hand into a tight fist, banishing the summoned game console.

"It's true… I suppose my home is indeed several stories taller than yours," she admitted, lifting both hands with her pointing fingers up, and into existence sprang a Wii U and a Switch, each balanced perfectly, "although I find it funny, the lead I've taken given your simultaneous release for two systems, o' Link of Hyrule."

Nonplussed, Link pointed to the Wii U—"One of those was flop in all the ways that mattered"—then he pointed to the Switch—"while the other is fresh out the gate."

"Funny. All I'm hearing is I had the superior system if you couldn't beat me from two different camps," Aloy surmised, flicking her wrists and banishing the systems.

"What you actually had was an extensive advertising campaign," replied Link, and Aloy blinked, canting her head sideways.

"Annnnd… you didn't? All those trailers, these E3 showings, your masssive following as a staple in gaming history," she counted as if reading a checklist, "and add to it your legacy is to mine what an elephant on steroids is to an ant. By all rights, this should have been a complete blowout in your favor."

"When you bring together the glow of something new and shiny, how beautiful you look, and the enormous size of your consumer base, it only makes sense that you'd sell more," explained Link with a finger of his own raised, yet he summoned nothing. "But that's usually the way it goes. Sony games tend to sell more on release, then peter into nothing. Nintendo games? Keep a steady flow for at least a year. Just wait," he said strongly, the markings of a challenging grin beginning to grow, "we'll see who leads who when the year is up and the Game of the Year awards start rolling in."

It was as if Aloy had zoned out midway into Link's rebuttal judging by the glazed look in her eyes, and the fact that she didn't respond whatsoever to Link who was waving a hand in front of her face.

"Aloy? Aloy, are you there? Hel—"

It was whispered out with all the brittleness of a dried leaf, "Did you call me beautiful?"

Link stuttered, in every vivisbly way possible. "Did I—what?"

"Beautiful… that's what you said, right?" She pointed to herself. "You called me beautiful."


There was enough time for Link to scan his previous words to find what she was talking about, but unfortunately, not enough time to correct her misconception before she let loose a chuckle and wagged a scolding finger.

"Tut-tut-tut, Mr. Elf of Hyrule, flattery will get you nowhere in this."

"But I wasn't trying to flatter—"

"Is this how you're going to defend yourself against the other female leads in gaming? By being so salacious?"

"Really, I only meant your graph—"

A regal sigh escaped the Nora and she shook her head, regarding Link as if she had just caught him with his hand in the cookie jar in a 'boys will be boys' fashion. "Well, I suppose if you're willing to resort to such base methods in order to distract me, we can call this even for now."

"You are seriously not hearing a word I'm trying to sa—"

"Hey, one-hundred boy," Aloy called and she jerked a thumb over her shoulder. "Got a nest of Thunderjaws back there I need to clear out. Things' are tougher than attempting the Proving blindfolded. Wanna help?"

Completely thrown off by the prospect of a quest to be had, Link's current thought process shifted gears into something more adventurous. "Thunder… jaws? Is that some breed of creature? What is that?"

Aloy made a wide motion with her arms. "Big, tall, tough. Abominations crafted of metal and steel, of might and rage. They can rip a grown man in half with a single bite and eviscerate entire settlements with the use of its mounted disc-launchers and—"

It was such a nice noise, that metallic ring that peeled through the air when Link unsheathed his legendary Master Sword. The allure of adventure… he never was strong enough to resist it. "Lead the way," he outright demanded, stepping up beside her. "Lead me to these metal monstrosities."

This seemed to delight the appointed seeker because Aloy scoffed, bumping the rigid elf with her hip. "Alright," she said, "follow."

A/N: First, I dunno if BotW has sold that much or more, I read that somewhere recently and went with it for story purposes, could be (probably am) totally wrong. Second, this is a one-shot but one of my pre-readers liked it enough to suggest them meeting other characters so the moment another character strikes me, hell yeah.