/Woah, this one's a biggie. I know I said a 'day or two'... I just didn't expect to run through so many versions, have so many ideas or, truth be told, have so much spare time on my hands. I'm not going to commit myself to a schedule of any sort for the next chapter, but you can expect it within the next few weeks. I'm developing quickly as a writer.

Now for the standard disclaimer. All characters and locations in this fic are the property of their respective owners; what has been done to Spiral Mountain is my work. Flamers and plagiarists will be be held in disgust by my cat, Smudge, and most likely torn to bits by my good freind Nintendo Nut1's dog Wolfie, if Wolfie finds out. So if you are a flamer/plagiarist, find another fic to flame/plagiarise. Enjoy/

Training

Once the Council had finished Banjo, Kazooie, Mumbo, Humba, Bottles and Jamjars had discussed what their next move should be. They all agreed that if there was any chance at all of Gruntilda Winkybunion regaining power, it would be a good idea for Banjo and Kazooie to take some time training. They had utterly transformed Spiral Mountain that Sunday; Mumbo and Humba were largely responsible for the construction of the facilities, due to their magical firepower, to the plans drawn up by Bottles and Jamjars although Banjo and Kazooie had played some small part in the effort. Kazooie had spoken to Captain Blubber, who had agreed to sell her the Saucer of Peril for one thousand, five hundred doubloons, so they could use the Saucer in their training. That was three quarters of her birdseed money, but the Captain had paid three thousand for the Saucer and could not afford a lower price.

The mountain had been changed immensely – Mumbo and Humba had cast a Growth spell on the area, enlarging it by many times. The Mountain now had a racetrack surrounding it; Banjo and Kazooie would race the clock each day as part of their training regime. Hoops and targets filled the air, used by Kazooie both solo and with Banjo to perfect and refine her skills in the air. The most devious mazes and puzzles Bottles and Jamjars could produce covered the majority of the ground; these really were as hard as Bottles and Jamjars could make them. As they told Banjo and Kazooie constantly, they could not afford to be easier on them than Grunty would be, and if they were harder on them than Grunty would be they would breeze through the real thing should Grunty ever regain power. While Banjo and Kazooie conceded the point, they still thought Bottles and Jamjars were taking things a little too far.

The area in front of their home was the only clear area left, though it was a big area, with the ground space of four football pitches. It was a circular area with an underground storage bay for the foes they trained against. Most of the time the entrances to it, placed around the circumference of the area, were concealed, covered with grass and effectively closed to the world. When they opened any enemies Banjo and Kazooie were to fight would stumble through and seek them out. This was the training ground for actual combat.

Banjo and Kazooie had spent the last of that Sunday training there against the waves of enemies Bottles and Jamjars were sending against them, to 'whip them into shape'. Their usual policy of working Banjo and Kazooie hard was used.

It was now a bright and sunny Monday morning, and having spoken to the press late last night, celebrating the successful launch of the training ground and enjoying a good night's sleep, Banjo and Kazooie felt on top of the world. Bottles and Jamjars were going to teach them a new move, too, so Banjo and Kazooie had quickly eaten breakfast and eagerly waited in the living room for them to arrive. They did not take long to call Banjo and Kazooie outside to learn the new move - the Breegull Auto-Aim.

"Kazooie's neck can swivel around", sang Jamjars,
"Shifting at the slightest sound.
Now aim by eye and feel alone,
Hit the bull's-eye each time, yer foes will drop like stones!"

"The Breegull Auto-Aim allows Kazooie to lock on and shoot at will", said Bottles.
"You effectively have a threat-seeking turret mounted on your back now, Banjo", he continued. "Don't get too comfortable, though. We've upped the training difficulty to take our new move into account."

"That's impossible!", screeched Kazooie.
"Yesterday was tough enough! What're we supposed to do, take out an army?"

"Yes, fleagirl!", snapped Jamjars.

"You are under siege from Gruntilda Winkybunion's entire armed forces. You are to defend your position until I can burrow through to connect your evac point to the silo network – it's about time Spiral Mountain was hooked up anyway. This is the point where the silo will stand", said Jamjars, pointing to the centre of the combat ground, "you can stock up on eggs of all flavours during the battle, bar golden, of course", he continued, spawning egg nests in a wide circle around the evac point, "though there is only one point per egg type, giving you six points total. On one side of the evac point you can stock up on red and golden feathers; on the other is a flight pad and a set of split-up pads. We're not playing freestyle; I'll expect you to use those pads to split if you decide to. Kazooie, you have five minutes to lace the area with proximity eggs. I doubt Gruntilda would be half as generous. Then it's combat stations, people!"

Kazooie wasted no time. She immediately surrounded the area with proximity eggs, leaving only the area defined by the egg nests and a slim choke point - hopefully the ground troops, confined to the choke point on pain of explosive dismemberment, would be easier to deal with. Kazooie had to restock her proximity eggs halfway through and found that Jamjars had set the respawn rate at two minutes for the egg nests. She'd have to conserve her ammo, which would be made more difficult by the Breegull Auto-Aim. Crests raised to them, they could see the flaws in their moves and responded to them well, but did Bottles and Jamjars have to ram the lesson home so painfully?

"I like your tactics, Kazooie", said Jamjars, striding down the choke point.
"Force them to fight on your terms on pain of pain, first rule of combat. Very clever. You've earned a three minute respawn time, you can cope with it."

Kazooie suppressed a groan; the second rule of combat was to present a brave face to the enemy. She'd just have to stretch their ammo that little bit further. At least this was only training...

"It will take thirty minutes for me to tunnel through from Jinjo Village. During this time you will be under siege, and you will learn the true meaning of the word, believe you me. You will learn to respond to threats while conserving ammo. You will learn to use the Claw Swipe more, Banjo. If you roll too much Kazooie can't use the Breegull Auto-Aim. Mumbo, Humba, teleport me out!"

He threw a communicator to Banjo as he faded away. It flickered in and out of existence a bit as it left the teleportation field, though it had anchored itself firmly in Spiral Mountain by the time it had reached Banjo's paw.

"All right, furball", came Jamjars' voice over the communicator, "I expect an easy installation topside. I'll keep you updated on my progress; if I run into any trouble down here you'll be forewarned. Over and out."

Of course, they couldn't use real Gruntlings or Gruntydactyls in their training. They would kill Banjo and Kazooie on sight, and in any case were not available in the numbers needed. No, Mumbo and Humba had constructed another Pool as part of the training complex, and spun special Gruntlings and Gruntydactyls out of raw matter - they had tried to explain the process, but had lost the others totally when they tried to tell them about morphic resonance, mental signature and pigmentation levels - and these ones would only attempt to knock them out. Painfully. Otherwise they were exactly the same as Grunty's own henchmen, although for some reason they couldn't get the skin quite right.

Banjo patted his pocket to make sure that Mr Snuggles was secure - Tooty had given him the venerable teddy-man to 'keep him safe'.

The Gruntlings and Gruntydactyls had been released from their holding area for a while now.

Kazooie's head suddenly whipped around, tracing exactly the path of their scouting Gruntydactyl. It wheeled around at once, long before it flew in range. Kazooie ran for the flight pad; an aerial scan would give a better idea of what they faced.

Her head juddered about from target to target so much during her climb that she almost blacked out! When her vision cleared she almost fell out of the air in shock. The horizon was packed solid with Gruntlings, and the sky was filled with enough 'dactyls to blot out the daylight. She aimed a Beak Buster for Banjo's backpack. She had a feeling they'd be better off together.

"It's bad, Banjo, really bad!", she said.
"They're everywhere! We'll never hold out against these odds!"

"We've got something they'll never have, Kazooie", he replied, "each other. We've been through too much together for any amount of baddies to beat us, right?"

Kazooie gave a weak grin, slightly heartened.

"Come on, I'll guard the choke point, you deal with the 'dactyls. They'll never get past us!"

The fight was horrible. To start with the Gruntlings inched their way down the choke point, carefully keeping away from the proximity eggs, only to be met by Banjo's claws and teeth. The first Gruntling to reach them had its head severed in one swipe, the next fell to needle-sharp claws through the heart, the third to a vicious chop through the middle. Banjo could fight Gruntlings in his sleep; he dispatched the fiftieth (knocked into a proximity egg by the forty-ninth's severed head) before he broke a sweat.

Then a red rage descended on him and he succumbed to instinct. He let out a great cry and raised his forelegs above his head. The Gruntlings were unfazed, and one of them hit a foreleg before he regained his senses. Kazooie had to cover him to prevent it from getting any worse.

"Real cool, Banjo! Keep it together, you idiot!", she shrieked, but Banjo didn't waste time on words - he resumed his methodical slash, bite, swipe with a sheepish look and redoubled his efforts.

Kazooie's head was always in motion, shooting any Gruntydactyl that threatened to break the perimiter with a swift grenade egg... ice egg... fire egg...
"I'm down to normal eggs, Banjo!"

"Keep firing", said Banjo, jabbing a claw through an errant Gruntling's eye with a pop, "prepare to Wonderwing on my mark. We'll have to plough through them!"

The Gruntlings were largely keeping to the choke point, but their numbers were so great that an occasional Gruntling stepped into a proximity egg. Kazooie's minefield was gradually wearing down, though it exacted a price in blood for every step.

"I'm out!", said Kazooie.

"MARK!", cried Banjo, quickly grabbing the egg nests.
"Try to make it last!"

If asked at a later date what the battle was like, Banjo and Kazooie would always make light of it, passing it off as a minor training exercise. It was not. Soon Kazooie ran out of eggs again, and they had to split to deal with the mass of enemies. Fifteen minutes through Jamjars struck granite, and they lost ten minutes as he found a way around it and got back on course. Forty minutes after the siege began Jamjars requested security topside to install the silo unit.

"It's snowing 'dactyls out here and the proximity eggs are gone. We're falling back on your position, work fast, over!", yelled Banjo into his communicator.

They were fighting back-to-back as Jamjars surfaced. He replenished Kazooie's egg supply, then pulled the silo unit out of the ground. Kazooie surrounded them with a protective layer of proximity eggs, then started to blast the Gruntydactyls out of the sky with grenade eggs. They were almost there.

Jamjars had slotted the silo unit into the machinery just below the ground, and was checking the security of its mounting by attempting to pull it back and forth. Satisfied the hardware was properly mounted, Jamjars began programming the unit to accept only friendlies, excluding Gruntlings and Gruntydactyls, as well as Klungo and any other foes that Grunty might inflict on the Isle o' Hags. The intelligent recognition system was the pinnacle of military technology; it would take a mainframe supercomputer with thirty thousand parallel processing threads weeks to crack. And the system had a morphing property, inspired by how viruses fool the immune system - it reprogrammed itself in a different fashion from basic logic once a week to ensure it remained secure. This last property had been installed into the system shortly after Gruntilda's second defeat, and was a gift from a girl from another universe. He smiled as he tapped the keys, oblivious to the battle raging around him. Young Samus and her Choeso technology... There. That should do it.

"Okay, troops, fall back! FALL BACK! The unit is go!"

The last proximity eggs had gone, used up to cover Jamjars. Everyone rushed for the silo as the mass closed in. One of the Gruntlings unwisely tried to follow, and reached through the jaws of the silo at them. The silo closed to a sound of splintering bone, and the arms dropped to the floor in the interior.

It was over.

"I'm proud of how you handled those odds", said Jamjars, "me and Bottles gave Mumbo and Humba real troubles, asking them to pump out the Gruntlings like that."

He paused reflectively.

"You know, it says a lot for how powerful Mumbo and Humba have become that they are even capable of this. Alone, either of them would have troubles animating ten Gruntlings at once. Together..."

"...Millions", finished Banjo.

Jamjars laughed so hard he fell to the floor, rolling around wildly.

"Millions! Ahahaha, ohohoho hahahaha! Millions! Heheheh, no, Banjo, ahaha!"

With great effort, Jamjars suppressed his mirth. Shoulders quaking, he spoke in the strained voice of a mole desperately trying not to laugh.

"Not nearly one million, furball. There were only 150,000 of each type of foe. A million... I can appreciate they may have FELT like a million, but really..."

"Easy for you to laugh, wormbreath", interjected Kazooie, "you were nice and comfy underground while we were at the front line. If you'd been through that with us, you'd be laughing on the other side of your face!"

"I guess I would at that", replied Jamjars.
"Anyway, let's debrief before we surface. Banjo, what did that training exercise teach you?

"To use my teeth and claws more when in battle. They are there to rend and tear... I'd forgotten how good it felt to do so. There is a vicious joy in biting and swiping. To let that joy rule me and mindlessly attack is to invite disaster..."

He raised a foreleg, showing a spectacular bruise.

"...so the wise course is not to, however tempting. Instead I must harness that joy, rule it, while remaining aware of my tactical situation."

"Important lessons, furball. Kazooie, what have you learned?"

"The Breegull Auto-Aim is a good move, as moves go. BUT, beetle-breath, having my head judder around like that is very disorientating. It's tempting to shoot everything in sight, which uses up my eggs at a stupidly fast rate. Being out of eggs is dangerous for a Breegull."

She raised her left-hand wing with a wince. Her plumage was ragged and the wing was broken. Jamjars sucked air through his teeth with a whistling sound, but didn't interrupt.

"Next time, I'm fighting in Dragon form. The other thing I learned is there are times when it pays to sacrifice my beautiful red and gold plumage for the protection scales give. Infinite fire eggs would have helped too. Jamjars, I need some medical attention here..."

"I'll radio Mumbo and Humba when we've surfaced. If all this turns out to be more than just a scare, an infected wing from our little training exercise could mean the difference between success and failure. Otherwise I might leave it for a day or two to ram the lesson home."

"I love you too, wormbreath!", snapped Kazooie, hurt.

"We can't afford any mistakes in the real thing, fleagirl," retorted Jamjars, "every chance me and Bottles get to ram a lesson home, we will!"
"You got this far", he continued in a softer voice, "because you NEVER under-estimated Gruntilda. Whether it was jumping on coffins to get to Witchyworld's train station switch, helping Styracosauruses for a pittance, blasting Clinkers or hatching eggs, you jumped through hoops - literally in your case, Kazooie - to collect those 90 Jiggies last time. Similar persistence may well be required this time. So we'll be hard on you in our training exercises, because one slip-up and... BOOM! The whole Isle o' Hags goes under. Oh, don't shake your heads at me like that. You know as well as I do that even if King Jingaling were to convince all the Realm's rulers to unite their forces in one decisive stroke, they'd still be utterly decimated by what for you is merely a training exercise. I meant it when I said I was proud of you. Okay, we're ready to surface. There may be some media attention."

There was, in the form of ace reporter Jack Sprat. He was wearing a pinstripe suit and holding a clipboard to take notes. Technically he also had a face, but most of it was obscured behind a dazzling smile.

"Hello, Banjo, Kazooie - good grief, you must be training hard, look at the state of your wing - is there anything you'd like to tell the Daily Jiggy?

"We repeat our statement of last evening", said Banjo.
"Gruntilda has not, as far as we know, regained power. On the off-chance that she eludes the search combing the whole island as we speak, myself and Kazooie here are training hard, to the point of personal injury" - he gestured to Kazooie's broken wing - "just in case Gruntilda proves to be particularly slippery. Jamjars here and his brother, Bottles, who played for the Moles in the kickball tournament last week, are busy creating new moves - even I can't tell you what they have in store - and Mumbo and Humba, our shaman friends, have become so powerful it is almost frightening. Jamjars, are you going to radio them this week? Kazooie's in pain here..."

Jamjars looked up from his communicator, irritated.

"I would if I could, furball", he said, "but my communicator's outta juice. I've been on the thing non-stop, getting updates on your progress from Bottles. Throw me yours and I'll radio them."

"Keep an eye out for them", Banjo told the reporter as he threw the communicator to Jamjars, "teleportation sans warp pads is one of the first things they worked on together."

Jamjars used the communicator to call in Mumbo and Humba.

Jack Spat felt himself being gently but irresistibly pushed to one side by an expanding bubble of air. This first phase of the teleportation spell created a vacuum at the target location, explained Banjo, clearing the ground of obstacles so that the travellers were able to teleport safely without having to worry about teleporting inside a wall or boulder. The second phase was the actual teleportation. FLASH! And Bottles, Mumbo, Humba and Tooty were standing there. There was a small thunderclap as the air rushed back in. They all winced; it stung.

"BANJO! KAZOOIE!", shouted Tooty excitedly.
"You did it! You did it! 300,000 of them, and you did it! I knew Mr. Cuddles would keep you safe!"

"I'm sorry, did she really just say 300,000?", asked the reporter.

"It was nothing", replied Banjo modestly.

"Three. Hundred. Thousand." He seemed to be having trouble grasping the concept.

"YES, reporter boy. What else could break my wing?", cried Kazooie.

"Kazooie!", admonished Banjo.

"Uh, do you mind if I get a shot of you before you're healed? For the front page?"

"Get on with it then. Kazooie's hurt!", snapped Banjo. He almost never snapped at anyone, but Kazooie - who he'd been through so much with - was in pain. That put him on edge.

"Yes, this should only take a moment", said Jack Sprat, producing a camera from an inside pocket, "if you'd pose for the camera, please? Could you spread that hurt wing a bit? Lovely."

He took the picture and started to run through headlines.

"'Unstoppable Duo defeat 300,000 strong army'... ''It was nothing' says bear'... No-one's had a scoop like this since you blew the HAG1 to bits! I'm made! Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

"Do we get a Jiggy?", asked Kazooie.

"You've already got them all. I know! You can have my spare camera! It's a good make!"

"Thank you. We'll take good care of it", said Banjo, pocketing it. Mumbo and Humba had healed them during the exchange, and Kazooie was stretching her healed wing, using the Leg Spring and Glide moves to make sure all was in order. Satisfied, she landed and gave a nod of acknowledgement to Mumbo and Humba.

They all strolled to Bottle's house to celebrate the successful test of the new move. Banjo and Kazooiehad earned the chance to rest and party before they returned to their training again.

/I keep seeing Gruntlings and cameras dancing behind my eyelids... woah, that took too many sittings to type! There was a cameo reference in there. That's a bit of foreshadowing to a future fic, to keep you guessing.

I will now announce a small competition. Summarise, in two words, what Banjo and Kazooie did wrong/gave into this chapter. The prize is my original, handwritten version of this chapter, which theoretically could one day be worth a great deal of money to the right collector. You are allowed ONE guess as part of your review for this chapter; all future guesses must be sent to my Email address, accessible through my profile (click my penname) under the subject 'Summary Guess'. Good luck. You'll need it - there is more than one right answer, and I will only accept the one I'm thinking of.

Just scanned through to correct some errors I didn't notice, and I realised I'd forgotten something.

You've read it. Now review it. Or you'll never see my handwriting.../