(Author's Note:Sorry for taking so long on this. I'll try to keep to a more regular update schedule from now on. Also, everyone who reviewed so far, thanks, your feedback means a lot to me.)
Only a few minutes had passed since midnight, when she had begun her deliveries. The invisible Christmas Comet made its way across the world, and before long, Smashville was in clear view.
It was really just a small village, even if some of the buildings looked modern. All the houses were clustered towards the center of the town, and other buildings were towards the outside. There weren't any overly tall buildings, and in fact, their main headquarters wasn't in the village at all. Part of that was because of Master Hand's need to make things grandiose. It was no wonder he had put the headquarters of the organization on a floating island. However, there were other reasons. It would go against the sense of community if there was a giant building overshadowing all of their homes in the place they lived, and Master Hand had wanted to create a sense of equality. Overall, she agreed with the design choice.
Rosalina closed her eyes and focused her mind on one of the houses below. It was one of the very few fully decked out with Christmas lights.
A moment later, she reappeared inside the living room of Rock, or as he sometimes called himself, Mega Man. It was what some people would consider a TV room, but because he was from a futuristic world, there was no physical TV whatsoever. It almost seemed as if the room was empty, aside from the various comfy couches in it.
Even though he lived alone, Rock's house, or rather, his dad's house, was essentially a mansion. Many people here wanted to keep their old homes, and many of them had their homes recreated. Rosalina looked over to the Christmas tree. He'd arranged all the ornaments and set up the lights all by himself, even though he would be the only one there to see it. It was some real dedication for someone celebrating a holiday tradition from another world. She carefully set down the present box next to the tree. Afterwards, she teleported to the room where he had put his stocking. He had no fireplace, and the stocking was hanging near the wall in a dining room. She placed the Merry Christmas letter inside. She had made one for every child, of course, but so far, Rock was the only one who had put in the effort to hang a stocking, so he was the only one she gave a letter.
Before she left, she decided there was just one more thing to do. Rosalina teleported to Rock's room, curious about whether or not he was sleeping well. As she looked, he was breathing steadily and evenly, and he seemed sound asleep. Then she turned around and was surprised by what she saw.
On his wall, in sight of him every time he woke up, there was a big picture of him, his father, his brother, his sisters, and his mother all smiling atop the Light Industries Headquarters with Rock in the center of the frame, sticking his tongue out and making a silly face. Right next to that picture, there was another set in an indoor laboratory room of some sort. Rock, and Blues were standing in the center of the frame, and all the other Robot Masters were smiling for the photo alongside them. They were just like a family. Suddenly, what she'd heard of his personality and how he acted all clicked and made sense.
He must be so homesick...
...But it was alright. She didn't need to be sad for him. Some day, he would get to go home and see his whole family again. She was sure of it. Once that happened, all would be well. Even now, he would surely love this present tomorrow. With that thought in mind, Rosalina vanished from Rock's room and reappeared inside the Christmas Comet once more. Polari quickly chimed in with some commentary.
"Huh. Well that sure is surprising. I really figured that of all the kids, he'd definitely be the one who'd try to catch you more than anyone else."
It wouldn't be like Rock to secretly record all his home's rooms with cameras while pretending to be asleep, he'd think of that as boring. So she wasn't worried about that at all. When she'd sensed him completely asleep, she'd been pretty surprised too.
"Maybe he was simply more curious about what his present was than who was delivering it."
Polari laughed telepathically. As weird as that was.
"Sounds about right. Well, i'm sure he'll be happy about it. Your presents are normally pretty good already, but you really bat that one outta the park."
Rosalina laughed lightly."Speaking of which, I'll give Ness his present next."
"Sounds good to me!"
This time, she wouldn't need to go anywhere else to reach her next delivery. Rosalina focused on another home below and readied herself to make another child happy as Polari waited where he was in the air.
Two hours later, Rock felt himself gradually grow conscious by virtue of his internal alarm. As he blinked his eyes open, he realized that it was two in the morning, but that was fine. He got up and looked at the family photo on the wall. It was a good reminder, but...
Nobody was here. Not Dad, not Roll, not Rush, not one of his family or old friends. Just him, all alone.
Thinking about Santa Claus made him feel homesick. From what he remembered of what Santa looked like, he was a fictional character who looked almost exactly like his father. The big white beard, the jolly smile, pretty much everything...Well, excepting the gut, of course. Rock really wished he could go back home and see him again, but it was alright. He'd just remember him in his own way, by trying to follow his example. That was why he was waking up right now, after all.
He was already in his normal clothes, but since it was rather cold outside, he put on a dark blue jacket. Even he could get cold as long as he kept his body at its normal energy output, and he didn't want to power up every time he casually walked around. If he really wanted to, he could easily get used to it, but he didn't like the idea.
Rock strolled through his room and walked over to one of the doors, which led to a mostly empty and small room. Almost the same size as the bathroom, but what was there was very different. He flicked the light switch on, and the main thing facing him on the opposite side of the room was a giant green pipe which extended out of the wall. It was so large that he could simply walk straight into it without crouching at all. At the end, however, there seemed to be nothing but a sudden stop as the green pipe ended in a blank black wall. A Warp Pipe. This was the kind of stuff he was used to now.
He flicked another switch to the right of the pipe, and the sight of the wall was replaced by the sight of more pipe, ending in a white walled room with no windows. At the end, there was a single brown door with a gold five pointed star symbol on it. At the point where the wall of his room had just been, he could see the luminous purple edges of the portal circling around the pipe.
Rock walked through the pipe and made his way to the room where the door was. Its lights had automatically turned on when the portal activated, so he could easily see what he was doing. There were no windows. He opened the door and closed it behind him, letting it lock.
Now, the familiar sight of the Warp Zone lay before him. It was less like a warp zone, and more like a castle. In fact, the interior layout looked exactly like Peach's Castle. The room he had left out of was just one of many, each of them had a portal room of their own. Or at least, everyone who wanted one had gotten one. Most of those rooms had doors connected to the first floor of this castle, which only connected to the homes of people. On the second floor, one could reach any of the battle venues they fought in. On the third floor, you could reach almost any physical location in the world. The third floor was easily the most extensive, and as a result of the sheer number of locations it connected to, it didn't connect to them directly. Each door led to a portal room that led to a hub location where you could access more locations. And then another. The planet was basically divided into sectors, and each of the main portal rooms on the third floor led to the center of one, while all the portal rooms they connected to brought one closer and closer to one's intended destination.
And, lost in thought as he was, he soon found he was at the top of the second set of stairs. He didn't take time to admire the paintings, and simply walked along towards the door he was looking for. A little while later and he'd finally made it to the Floating Stadium's entrance pipe. Or at least, the one closest to the place he wanted to get to. Finally, he left and found himself walking out of a green pipe on the side of a small green grassy hill. It was one of many hills in this area approaching the cliffs, so as to not make it stand out like a sore thumb. The pipe definitely did, but since it was in the side of the hill, and the angle above it was steep enough, you couldn't see it from the towers near the stadium, so it didn't ruin the view for anyone who looked closely.
Once he got out of the pipe, he took a round silver disk off his back, one the size of Link's Hylian Shield. With no need for a button based interface, Rock sent a jolt of electricity from his hand into the disk, which soon glowed with energy. Then he let go of it, and it slowly floated to the ground, before floating a small distance above it and fluctuating slightly in its height up and down. Yes, it was a hoverboard. Due to its size, it didn't really look big enough to easily stand on without anyone who did that falling off as it moved, but that was the trick.
Rock made a little hop, and before he even landed on it, the disk projected a big holographic disk of light out from its edges, increasing its effective horizontal size by several times. Now it was about as big as a surfboard.
As for this island, the stadium itself was the main feature of the place, but there was still quite a great deal of land surrounding it. A variety of buildings were present nearby it to provide places to rest or eat food, and beyond that, there was a good deal of natural grassland that led all the way up to the cliff edges that hung at the edge of the island on all sides. The island floated above the ocean, but Smashville and solid land were still visible in the distance.
After just a minute or two of riding his hoverboard towards the cliff where he saw his friends, he was here at the agreed on time and place. Ness was sitting in the distance along with Pit. Their legs were dangling over the edge of the Floating Stadium's grassy cliff and the 1 kilometer drop straight into the sea below. Behind the two of them sat a present box. They were chattering away, unaware of him as they looked towards the village. Once he was practically right behind them, Rock hopped off his hoverboard and left it to sit on the ground.
"Gah!"Pit suddenly lurched forwards and waved his arms in these weird circles as he tried not to accidentally lean forwards off the cliff, surprised by Rock's sudden revelation of his presence.
Pit got on his feet, turned towards Rock, and blurt out a complaint."You almost made me fall off! Try calling first!" His soundless hoverboard didn't exactly give many cues.
Rock deadpanned, feigning confusion."Huh? I told both you guys the exact second i'd show up: right now, 2:01, right on the dot."
"But that doesn't help me because..."Pit was ready to complain again then went red with embarassment.
"Because what? Can't you just che-"Rock reached an awkward realization, and his smile stopped. He'd intended for his surprise to be a joke, but now it wasn't funny. "...Oh. Sorry, Pit."
Ness stepped to Pit's defense to make him feel better."It's fine, Pit, we both lost track of time talking, and i should've kept track. Rock, not everyone has an internal chronometer. Just try calling next time, okay?"
Rock shifted with embarrassment as he tried not to look away and kept eye contact with difficulty."Ok. My bad, guys...Sorry."He felt like he'd really messed up the conversation already, but Rock joined them in sitting and watching the ocean to try not to make it any more awkward.
Pit reassured him with a smile. He was really glad he hadn't fallen off, though. Then their conversation would've been cut short.
"It's alright, I'm getting better at reading."He sat back down and turned to Ness." So, are you ready for the jump?"
"Alright, I'll go deliver it!"
Pit picked up the present box behind him, and then, through Lady Palutena's help, Pit's wings suddenly glowed with blue light and he leapt off the cliff to fly away towards the distant Smashville. Fortunately, thanks to Ness's telepathy, he could still be part of the conversation. Meanwhile, Rock couldn't help but be a little jealous. Even if Pit's flight was only possible with a goddess's help, it had to be amazing to fly around like that. Meanwhile, Ness furrowed his brow in thought."Hmm...I kind of want to talk a little more."
Rock seemed to pick up on what he meant. "Ok."it would be kind of awkward to meet up and then just do this without talking at all, even if it was pretty late for Ness, who he had to remember could get tired. The Power of Flight still had plenty of time left."About what?"
He felt like he had a handle on what Rock liked talking about."Tell me more about your dad again."
Rock was happy again."Oh, he's awesome. Even though he has to do so much work, he always makes time for us, and he's always happy in spite of everything. It really rubs off and makes me just enjoy life more. Whether it's me, or the world, he always just seems to have so much to give."
Ness squinted a bit in thought. Needed to make this joke come out right...There it was.
"So...Dr Light's basically Santa?"
Both Pit and Rock laughed, Rock for the longest, while Ness deadpanned as if it was a completely normal statement."Hahahaha!...haaa...Yeah. You're right. He really is." They were used to the telepathy by now, which basically let them hear anything Pit said, even him laughing, although they still couldn't see him since he was far away.
"Yeah. Seems like he's basically your world's version of Dr Andonuts. Although I guess even he didn't invent as much crazy stuff as your dad did. I mean, inventing robot bodies we could transfer into to fight Giygas was super cool, but literally creating a race of human robots? That's astronomical levels of awesome!"
Rock suddenly switched to a face of shock and shame, and facepalmed, before his shame changed to curiosity and excitement."Ah!How could i never have thought of it! Stupid me! Three months now since you told me and i never once asked what it was like for you when you and your friends got transferred into robot bodies! What was it like? Did you have biometal blood like me? Could you breathe? Did your processing speed increase by a multiple or exponentially? Did your ESP still work?"
So many questions...But that was a Rock thing to do."...Yeah. Our robot bodies felt more like puppets that moved after we moved. It's hard to explain to a non psychic. Jeff actually didn't get to go, because the robot bodies only worked for psychics."
"...That's too bad. So do you mean that you felt as if your 'real' body overlapped with a mechanical one? Could you stop feeling pain whenever you wanted, and move your 'psychic' body in a way that didn't have to perfectly match your mechanical one?"
"...Uhhhh, yeah, basically, if you explain it that way. I could only really separate my arms a little bit from the robot body, though, the rest just wiggled apart a tiny bit sometimes. And we couldn't just stop feeling pain, Giygas's attacks were all psychic."
Rock paused, thought for a moment, then continued."...Okay. What did it feel like when you used your ESP? Where did you get the energy from?"
Rock had questioned him a month ago about where he got the energy from when he used ESP in his normal body and it really seemed like he was trying to make a Unified Theory of ESP or something.
"...Uh, i dunno, to be honest. We all took a rest in the Super Revitalizing Chamber before we switched bodies, so we were way stronger than we'd ever been. We couldn't breathe or anything while we were robots, not like you do. So basically...Our power came from our pure fighting spirit and hotblooded determination!"
"Really? Cool!"He actually believed in that kind of power.
Ness nodded."Yup, that's how it works. If you wanna know what Jeff'd say...He'd probably say that was only possible because the robot bodies were made of the right stuff to hold our PSI powers, but yeah. We didn't really have a power source, and we all got more and more tired the more we fought Giygas. He was really a nightmare. There wasn't even anything for us to aim at, he was totally formless and he was all around us! Soon enough, we were almost all out of juice, and we would've been doomed. But then Paula prayed to everyone in the world to save us, Giygas's mind collapsed from the power of love, and we won!"
He'd heard Ness's story a million times, and it was still beyond Rock how the ESP mechanism allowed all the prayers from mostly non psychic people to bypass space-time limits into some other-dimensional lair to defeat a formless mass of what was basically hatred and anger incarnate, but it was alright.
"Okay. You guys were really big heroes. Honestly, I wish i could do something as cool as that."
Pit was confused and blurted out a question through their telepathic link."Huh? But you're a hero too! Didn't you save the day and stop Dr Weil's evil plan?"
Rock suddenly paused and averted his eyes. "...Yeah. I just don't want everything that happened to be what defines my life."
He should've been proud of doing the right thing even if he couldn't save everyone, but he couldn't help but be sad. He really didn't want fighting to be all he was ever known for, either.
"No matter how many times Dad says I did all the right things i needed to, I always feel that it's my fault. That I should've known better. I'd really rather not talk about it."
"...Okay."Ness wasn't sure what to say next, and decided less was better than accidentally offending him by trying to comfort him in some way that might accidentally lead to a touchy topic.
Rock was silently thinking for a few seconds. He'd learned all he wanted to learn about Ness's adventure for now. It was still really exciting to think he might be able to understand it one day. Ness was the one who got the conversation going again.
"Don't worry about what's already happened. I'm sure we'll all be ready to fight any bad guys who come here, and you will too! We're all in it together. Plus we're all learning a lot of new stuff now that there are so many cool people here to teach us!"
Rock smiled and got up from his spot sitting on the cliff, now standing next to the edge."...Yeah. It's been really fun." He remembered that it had been around two minutes, and in the distance, through his superhuman visual abilities, he could see the faint blue particle that was Pit flying around in the air. It'd been two minutes already, and the Power of Flight only lasted 5 minutes at most.
Ness realized and sent a private telepathic message to Pit. A few seconds later he started talking again. "Alright. Pit knows we're ready now. Let's do this!"
Ness got up and ran off a long distance away from the cliff while Rock moved a good distance to the right so that he would not be in his way. Soon, Ness was about 100 meters away from the cliff. Of course, this was Ness's first try at doing something like this, but that was just how Ness was. He didn't want the first time he did this trick to be for something boring like testing it out without doing anything.
Ness got into a sprinting stance, his right hand on the ground as he leaned forwards. He called out to Rock."Ready?"
"Yeah!"Rock waited in anticipation as Ness started to spark with an aura of blue jolts of PSI. Meanwhile, he got out his phone, pointed the camera at Ness, and began recording video.
"Here we go!"
Finally, Ness sprinted off forwards at incredible speed, and the sparks of lightning grew more and more intense the more he ran as he also got faster and faster. In just another second, Ness would pass him, so Rock turned to the side as Ness leapt off the cliff at superspeed. A few seconds later after Ness gathered a lot of speed from gravity, with his enhanced hearing, he heard Ness shout something as he got ever closer to terminal velocity. He readied his fingers on his phone camera.
" Super Diving DIMENSION BUSTEEEEER!"
Snap!With perfect timing, Rock captured the exact instant Ness finished his over-dramatic declaration and blew through a sparking portal of PSI energy. Rock even got a glimpse of what was past the portal. Within a second, the portal faded, and Rock stopped the recording. To be honest, hearing that line made him cringe a little, but he was still very happy it had all worked out.
He'd done everything he'd wanted to today. Ness and Pit had surely handled the delivery well, and now he could go sleep. Rock got on his hoverboard again and casually made his way over to the Warp Zone entrance he'd gone to earlier, and soon enough, he was right back inside his room. It sure was nice how quickly they could let you get around.
When he got back, Rock noticed once again the present box next to the tree, but he didn't need to know what was in it yet. Rock went to sleep and wondered what it might be in peace.
The next morning, Rock woke up rested. And when he got to his present and opened it, he found that it was...
An electric guitar! So Santa really had a sense of humor, and had enough common sense to find out about his past. He loved rock and roll! After getting into a proper daytime outfit, Rock immediately picked up the guitar and started playing it. He couldn't wait to see what presents his other friends had gotten.
It seemed like whoever had decided to be Santa probably really understood what they all wanted. Today was going to be great!
After he was satisfied playing the guitar a little, Rock put it down and picked up his phone. Rock laughed as he accessed the messenger app, selected "Dark Pit" on his friends list, sent him the video he had recorded, and added a text below:
You owe me 1000 coins:)
Ness appeared outside his house in a trail of sparks and skidded on his feet across the street next to his home. He came to a stop just a few meters away from the front door. He hoped that maybe someday he'd finally get good enough to stop himself right on the doorstep without accidentally overshooting and breaking the door. It didn't really matter, though. All that was important was that he hadn't messed up and gotten himself covered in soot.
As Ness made his way through his house, he saw that a present box really was there. That was pretty neat. He soon went to bed, happy that everything had gone well.
Full of energy, Ness got right out of bed. His room wasn't anything too fancy, and his house was just a duplicate of his parents' house. He was pretty sure they'd all make it back home, though, and he wasn't lonely or anything. Instead, having this house here just gave him good memories. It wasn't like he really had any ideas for how to redesign the place, either.
Before he even ate any breakfast, Ness was going to get a look at that present. The small red present box didn't look like anything special, so he just quickly opened up the box. Inside of it was...
A baseball. Ness frowned. It was a nice gesture, but Ness's love of baseball just didn't work out in this world. Too many adults, not enough kids his age to play with. You needed a whole lot of people on each team for it to be playable at all, many more than even the Splat Battles were done with. Ness was glad to get one, but he was sad that it wouldn't really help much. Then he actually grabbed the baseball.
Woah!He'd felt some kind of psychic link to the baseball when he touched it, and instantly dropped it in shock, since he got zapped with some kind of weird purple lightning on contact, and was super surprised. A baseball, a spherical inanimate object, was somehow psychically linked to him? This was getting really weird, and for him, that was seriously saying something. Ness then cautiously touched the baseball again. The moment he focused on it with his PSI, he heard a weird voice.
"You got the Magic Baseball! If you throw it or smack it away with your bat, or even if it gets destroyed, don't worry, you can bring it back! Just think of it and it'll be in your hands again!"
It felt more like an automatic message than an actual person telling him these things, and as an esper, he could tell. But it still creeped him out. Wait. A magic baseball that could return when he hit it away? Hold on, there was something important there....That means i can finally use baseballs when i fight! Yahoo!
Technically speaking, his baseball bat was magic too, since the Master Hand let him conjure it. But it'd never really happened before that anyone got to conjure and throw something that wasn't designed to be a weapon. All this time, he'd thought the most he could do was use his bat or his yo-yo, but this was so much of an improvement. He couldn't wait to tell his friends about it!
And that was another delivery down. She still had multiple to go in Smashville, but it was all going pretty well. There wasn't much to do but move on to the next, but she still felt a need to chat a little bit. "I hope he loves that one."
"Oh, I'm sure he will! Especially when he's batting baseballs at you nonstop."
For the next month, Ness was probably going to use that projectile just as much as Simon and Richter used theirs. But this was the price of being Santa. "Don't forget, if Lumi gets tired of them, you're up next."
"How could you abuse an elderly man like that?" Polari suddenly gasped before frowning...Well, he would've done those things, but he didn't have a face... "Just kidding. But I'm sure he'll get used to it eventually."
"Let's hope so."He was still just a kid, so he'd probably spam the baseballs for a while before he got used to using them in a good proportion to everything else he used. But it was alright. She still really enjoyed this. That baseball had seemed like the most perfectly fitting present he could get. Even though it had no sentience and just psychically connected to its wielder, the Magic Baseball couldn't help but remind her of something. The similarity wasn't quite right, but it really felt perfectly right for Ness, too, to have a weapon he could connect with.
With little else to say, Rosalina moved on and focused on delivering presents to the other children who lived in Smashville.
Christmas Eve:Final Destination
Amidst the black void of space, floating admist a vast cloud of dark purple lightning, a twitching hand fidgeted chaotically and randomly.
Miss Santa naively dreamed her deliveries would all proceed in a boring orderly fashion where it all went like she planned. She'd even asked his brother for help! What foolishness. One week ago, the nanosecond she'd requested Master Hand's help, he'd seen through what she wanted and instantly prepared his plans to mess it up.
Crazy Hand snapped his fingers, and in a present box far far away, a Magic Baseball was instantly enveloped by chaotic purple lightning, before it soon faded from sight and withdrew into the ball's center.
Crazy Hand cackled madly. None of them would ever see it coming...The time for chaos was near!