Author's Notes: The second part of a two-chapter update. The characters arrive and make it into Japan. I admit, there wasn't too much that I could think of for the opening, for perhaps this will keep you interests for now. I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 43: Dark Skies Over a City of Lights
Zoro let out a long, dramatic yawn. "Eh... it's really early in the morning you know. Can't we wait a little while longer?"
"I'm afraid not." Double D noted. "We've spent too much time resting already."
Everyone was standing just outside of the hotel in London. The sun was only halfway up over the horizon by this point. Traffic in the city was only barely awakening. A cooling breeze swept across the area.
Team Alpha was standing next to the Edmobile, prepared by Double D and TEC an hour earlier, ready for departure. Double D opened it's side passenger door.
Koops approached Koopie Koo slowly, the two staring at one another for a moment. They then reached forward, and embraced one another. Koopie reached forward and gave Koops a gentle kiss.
"For good luck." she said with a blush.
Koops gave her a small kiss on the cheek. "And to you."
With that, the two released one another. The male koopa reached behind himself, grabbed the edge of his blue collar, places his hood up, then walked into the back the Edmobile.
Doopliss glanced at everyone present.
"Well guys, this is it! See ya suckers, goodbye, farewell, sayonara, adios, live long and prospe-"
Koops reached out of the van, grabbed Doopliss, and tugged him into the car personally.
"OW, watch the HAT!"
Zoro glanced over towards Luffy and the present Straw Hat crew.
"Goodbye." he said flatly.
"What, that's it?!" asked Usopp.
"Yup." stated Zoro, before turning around and proceeding into the Edmobile.
"That idiot." Nami groaned.
"Sheesh, trying to make himself look cool and calm, who does he think he is?!" shouted Sanji.
Link nodded towards the group, then looked at the van. "Looks like this is it."
Midna emerged from his shadow, staring at the van as well. "Well, it's not exactly a chariot of fire, but it will have to do."
She retreated back into the safety of Link's shadow once again, vanishing from view. Link then reached towards the door, and climbed in, close the back door behind himself.
Eduardo Jr. hopped up and down in excitement. "Looks like I get the front seat then!" He leapt upwards, grabbing the handle of the door, and throwing himself into the front of the car.
"Hey!" Doopliss cried from inside the car. "I wanted the front, slick!"
"Well too bad, sucker!"
Double D looked towards the rest of the people there. He glanced a brief smile at them. "Good luck everyone."
"See ya Double D!"
"Farewell Double D!"
"Have a safe trip!"
He proceeded towards the other side of the Edmobile, and opened up the front door. He then stepped inside of his vehicle, and closed the door.
"Gee Double D, this is a really complicated set up." Eduardo Jr. said.
The front mechanism had changed. He and TEC had modified the machine to the point where it more closely resembled the interior of a plane's as opposed to the front of a car.
The sock-hat reached forth, grabbing the key and turning it. The van sprang to life instantly. He reached for a special green lever located next to the ignition with the symbol of the Emerald Crystal Star on it's handle. He pulled it down, all the way, rising the machine's intake power of the crystal star to full.
All at once the whole Edmobile began to glow green. It powered up faster, getting louder and stronger, until with a quick and abrupt BLAST, it shot forth, speeding so fast that vanished.
The others who had remained there stared in awe, somewhat shocked by the sight of it.
"...to think such things can happen." noted Punio.
"Alright everyone, time to get to the Going Merry." said Nami.
"Waaaaaaaaaaah!!!" Koops shouted as the van sped to ridiculous speeds.
"Ooouuugh!!" Zoro shouted, gritting his teeth and holding onto the edge of his seat.
"Wheeeeeeeeee!!" proclaimed Doopliss.
Eduardo Jr. looked over to Double D. "How are you driving this thing so fast?!"
Double D looked at him. "I pre-programmed the course of the Edmobile! It's designed to take us out into the atlantic, then turn and propel us across the sea and east underneath Asia until we arrive in Japan!"
Zoro leaned towards the front. "How is that possible?!
"It's a risk actually, this machine's never had to travel so far before!" Double D admitted. "The power of the Crystal Star actually fades whenever I use it up quite like this, so we can only do things like these once every four days or so!
"That would explain why we haven't been using the power of the star since we obtained it." Noted Eduardo Jr.
"Still, this seems a bit extreme!" Midna commented from Link's shadow.
"Nico... Robin?" thought Courage.
Beldam lay on her bed, looking up at the ceiling.
"Once day, I met a very evil sorceress." she began. "She was named Nico Robin. She was a bitter old hag who was wanted by the entire world government. I fought her hard one day, and I won. But as she perished, Robin placed a terrible curse on me. And now her hand of death will occasionally try to do me in. But, thankfully, I won't let good triumph over evil."
Courage stared, still perplexed.
Beldam sat back up in her bed. "Oh, but never-mind about all of that. I'm sure that soon enough, the curse will fade away."
She got up from the bed and walked towards the door, but not before turning back to face Courage again.
"Courage, get some rest. In a few of hours we are going to go for a walk, back in Japan."
A big grin appeared over Courage's face at the prospect to making it back to Muriel. Surely after all of this time she would have begun to get worried about them.
Beldam smiled. "That's the spirit! Have a good rest." With that, she walked out of her room, closing the door behind her.
Courage, feeling a little better, jumped up on top of Beldam's bed and lay down on it, giving out a loud yawn before drifting peacefully into his rest.
Beldam continued to watch Courage through a small crack in the door.
"Mwe he he he..." she laughed quietly.
"Yes yes, very amusing." stated Dimentio.
Beldam frowned. "That stupid Robin. I can't believe it."
Dimentio tilted his head. "Believe what?"
"Just now, Robin managed to use her power on me, even while under full possession."
Dimentio laughed. "A naughty girl I am sure."
"She's got an incredibly strong will." Beldam stated, looking at her hands. "Out of all of my victims throughout history, she is certainly the most strong-willed I have encountered."
"What do you intend to do about her?" Dimentio asked.
"I'll be strong too. For every arm she throws at me, I'll freeze it back. Eventually that wench will grow tired and her soul will give up."
Dimentio chucked a nasty laugh. "Quite a sadist you are."
Beldam laughed. "It's all a part of survival. If I didn't have her body, I would certainly be dead. I'll just... need to hope Robin doesn't get too resourceful before her soul calms down."
"Oh, by the way, I thought I would tell you the news."
"What's the news?"
"The fisherman and Lord Crump have already been dispatched to Japan. Lord Crump even managed to find Dr. Zalost. I'm not sure how that turned out, but it looks promising."
Beldam smiled. "What about our prisoner?"
"That tall, creepy guy?"
"No, his short little brother, Eddy."
Dimentio laughed. "I was just kidding! Hah, Eddy is making quite a fuss in the basement. He keeps shouting at the prisoner guards and demanding to know where his brother is."
"I see." Beldam said. "And what about Eustace?"
"He's getting aquatinted with the foot soldiers of the X-nauts. Pretty soon he'll be one of our ranks. But... why him? He seems un-extraordinary. Why did King bother with that moron?"
Beldam laughed. "That worthless old man? He has nothing to do with anything! Our real target is Courage."
"Yeah. I'll use him to find the next Crystal Star in Japan. For now, you stay with Eustace and keep making him feel important. Give it a short while and he'll merge with the other soldiers and vanish from our focus."
Dimentio nodded. "Got it."
SEVEN HOURS LATER
"Double D...." Moaned Eduardo Jr. "I'm hungryyyy."
"Me too!" shouted Doopliss from the back.
"Then turn yourself into a sandwich." Zoro retorted, half asleep.
The sock-hat looked back. "Relax guys, we're almost there."
"Really?" Koops asked. "How close are we-"
The Edmobile suddenly screeched to a halt. Everyone fell forward, crashing into one another from the very sudden and drastic stop. Slowly, the lights in the van flickered off and the machinery powered down. They were briefly shrouded in darkness and silence.
"...oh, my aching shell." Koops moaned.
Double D got back up slowly, somewhat bruised by the crash-landing arrival. He glanced down to the dashboard, noticing a dial labeled by a crystal star was pointed far to the "E" end.
"We exhausted the power of the star." he said, gasping. "It's a miracle we made it."
"Looks like we made it too." stated Eduardo Jr.
Double D looked up through the windshield. In full view was Tokyo's skyline. It was in the middle of night, so not much could be seen other then the distant lights and the sounds of the waves lapping against the shore they just managed to pass before stopping.
"Welcome to Tokyo everyone." Double D said, still half-dazed. "I suppose we can either walk into the city from here, or I can drive us-"
Every door other then his own opened up. The 6 other passengers eager to escape the confines of the van.
"Gah! Must-escape-confinement!" Doopliss shouted.
"You overdramatic marshmallow." Midna taunted him from Link's shadow.
"My name is Doopliss!" he shouted, flailing his sheet-covered arms.
"That's enough Midna." Link said, trying to calm her down.
Double D emerged from the van as well, shutting it, locking the doors, and turning on it's alarm.
"Alright then, let's get moving."
Team Alpha collectively gasped. They stood in the center of the street. The lights were ablaze in the night and distant music could be heard. Different kinds of cars were on the streets and on the highways, the motors running and lights aglow. Billboards all over and around displayed foreign advertisements and anime-esque characters promoting various things in indecipherable languages. They were indeed in a different and unique culture, and yet...
There wasn't a soul to be found. For such a public location it was truly bizarre that there was not a single person in visible sight. Nobody could be seen or heard or sensed in any possible manner.
"Uh... Double D?" Eduardo Jr. began. "Where is everyone?"
Double D, somewhat surprised, shook his head. "I'm not sure..."
"Something's wrong." Koops noted, removing his hood.
"Hello?" called out Link. "Anyone there?"
"Konichiwa?" Doopliss tried.
"Konichiwa doesn't work at night." Midna commented.
Double D looked back at his group for a moment.
"For now, let's keep our focus on the Crystal Star." Double D noted. He reached under his hat and pulled out a wristband item with a glass sphere over it.
"What's that?" asked Koops.
"It's Nami's Log Pose." Double D stated. "We discovered that in this world, it tracks crystal stars." He placed it firmly on his right arm. "Fortunately for us, it means we can use this to track the one here in Japan."
Zoro tilted his head. "...oh yeah, I thought that thing looked familiar."
Double D held his arm forwards and read the pose. The needle was pointing due west, towards the inner city.
"Found it!" Double D said. "Alright everyone, let's press onward. If we find the crystal star, we might be able to find out where everyone went."
The group began to proceed down the street, following the pose. Deeper and deer into the city they continued, soon the scent of ocean water had gone away and now they found themselves deep into the heart of the city. Lights from nearby stores were up warm and blazing still with energy, music still playing from various buildings in an almost chilling contrast, cars still running in the streets as though they were in mid-drive. And still, no one.
"Nobody's around here at all. It's like the whole population simply vanished." Double D sighed.
He looked back towards his group. Koops and Eduardo Jr. appeared a little nervous. Link was walking semi-casually, eyes darting around in examination. Zoro appeared more cautious, one hand on his three Katana which hung at his side. Doopliss didn't seem to be the least bit phased. After all, he was quite experience with the unusual.
One of the street lights around them quickly shut off. Double D turned in surprise. Already, very quickly, the other lights slowly seemed to be following, either flickering off or slowly fading off individually. The music which had been playing all over town was also beginning to go silent or quiet down, these voices of the city slowly diminishing.
"Ah, now what's happening?" Koops asked.
"If everyone in the city is gone, then nobody's left to operate the power plants." Double D gulped. "The entire grid will close down shortly unless someone does something about this."
As more and more lights around them started cutting out, Double D held out his arm.
From his hand came forth a small, but brilliant flame. Though not very hot, it was bright, and lit a good few feet around them, everything now illuminated a red tint.
"Good thinking slick!" called out Doopliss.
Everyone halted all at once.
"Ah, what was that!?" Koops asked, looking around in all conceivable directions.
Link and Zoro instinctively withdrew their swords simultaneously. Midna, also curious to see what had been going on, emerged from Link's shadow, and surveyed the area around themselves.
A shadow passed behind the group. Everyone present turned around to see, though by the time they had, it had already passed.
Clunk clunk clunk clunk!!"
From out of the darkened alleyways, a troop of 20 X-nauts, wearing all black garb, rushed in, poised for an attack.
"Look out!" called Double D.
The sock-hat ducked down to avoid the initial attack. Koops was no so luck though, as a kick to the face sent him flying backwards, causing him to fall to the ground on his back, trapped.
"Koops!!" shouted Eduardo Jr, proceeding to move towards the front. He leapt forwards, unleashing his tongue at one of the X-nauts. It circled around the trooper like a rope, catching the man.
"Mommy!" he proclaimed, before being drawn into Eduardo Jr's mouth. The yoshi stood still for a moment, before turning towards another soldier and firing his captive at him. The two crashed into one another, then flew backwards and struck a wall, instantly knocking them out.
Double D rushed frantically over towards Koops. Using his non-torch hand, he grabbed Koop's arm and pulls him back up on his feet.
"Thanks Double D-LOOK OUT!"
Another soldier approached the two from above in a body slam attack. Koops, quickly grabbed the sock-hat and thrust him aside, Koops turning his back against the X-naut. The attack was successfully blocked as Koop's shell deflected the attack. The koopa took this moment to perform a counter move, throwing his legs backwards and performing a breakdancing attack, his leg smashing into the face of the trooper, causing him to collapse.
It was Double D's turn now. He got back up and ran forth. He wove both hands about, extinguishing the torch. A second of darkness later, he pointed his fingers towards the soldiers and thrust his arms forth.
Two of the soldiers who had been caught in the attack were stuck with a burst of thermal energy. They were thrust backwards and up, past the remaining soldiers and into the wall behind them, knocking them out as they fell back to the earth.
"Five down, Fifteen left!" cheers Doopliss.
"You won't get away with that quite so easily!" one of the X-nauts shouted.
All remaining 15 members rushed forth and collectively swarmed Team Alpha all at once, charging ahead at due speed.
Zoro quickly placed all three of his sorts into place and spun in a circle. "Everyone, duck down!" he urged his team, who collectively threw themselves to the ground.
The swordsman shot toward and unleashed the attack of his swords. In a large, effective slice, the attack slashed away at the troops, sending those who weren't cut into submission flying backwards.
Eduardo Jr was the first to get back up after dodging the attack. "Whoa buddy, nice shot!"
"A little brutal..." Koopa noted in surprise, rubbing his head, before returning to his feet.
One of the X-nauts slowly got back up and withdrew a gun. He pointed it at Double D and fired it at the boy, unleashing an explosive blast.
Double D lept up to avoid the attack, it just barely managed to to nick the soles of his shoes, sending him careening further in a spiral. He shouted as he began to fall backwards.
Doopliss focused himself as he ran underneath where Double D was meant to fall. He then concentrated his power and help his arms up.
A moment later, Doopliss had disappeared in a cloud of purple smoke, In his place was a small trampoline that caught the sock-hat, neatly preventing serious harm. He bounced off of it, then spun right-side up again and landed atop his feet in a crouching position.
"T-thanks Doopliss." Double D said, somewhat bewildered at the fact that they were able to pull that off.
Doopliss turned back into his normal self and laughed. "This is fun!" he shouted.
He reached under his sheet for a moment, and then withdrew a small golden bell. He leapt in front of everyone in the group and held it out before the X-nauts.
Doopliss rung the golden bell in front of himself. It produced a surprisingly loud and strong tone which rang out all around the group.
At that moment, one of the X-nauts was enveloped by a cloud of purple smoke. As the smoke cleared, he has vanished, instead a big fat pig had taken his place. It squealed in surprise, causing it to fly backwards.
"Y-you can still do that?" Double D asked, now somewhat nervous.
"Why wouldn't I be able to?" Doopliss asked. "It's all a part of-OOF!"
Another X-naut lunged forward, crashing into the Duplighost, Doopliss shrieked and spiraled backwards, smashing into Eduardo Jr before they both hit the ground.
Link and Midna proceeded forth next. Link grabbed his own sword and remained on standby. Midna, at the same time, emerged from Link's shadow and materialized right before the troopers.
"Ack, a monster!" shouted one of them.
Midna laughed at them rather mischievously. A moment later, her orange hair started morphing. It formed a long, orange arm and hand, which towered upward, high above herself. It grabbed one of the X-nauts, and began to twirl it around her head. A moment later, she threw it behind herself, toward Link's direction.
"Catch!" she called out.
Link jumped forward and rose his sword high above his head. A moment later, he threw it down in front of him, intercepting that trooper. The trooper shouted in pain before collapsing in front of them.
Only five soldiers remained, looking amongst themselves.
"We gotta run, man!"
"But why not?!"
"Lord Crump told us to stall them, by any means necessary! We have no choice!"
The remaining troopers rushed forward together in one final, desperate attempt to fight.
"Sheesh, don't these guys know when to stop?" Koops asked.
Double D rose both arms strait upwards into the air and looked strait up into the air.
He thrust his hand back down and towards the soldiers, as though he were throwing something very heavy at them. A second of later, a series of fireballs appeared above the X-nauts and fell towards them at the speed of rain. They were caught in a catastrophic fiery explosion which temporarily lit up the entire region.
A moment later, and the flares subsided, leaving behind the soldiers, standing up still yet heavily charred and crispy.
"...can we run now?"
The troopers who were still up grabbed their fallen comrades and ran off, shouting in fear.
"We won't forget this!"
"You'll pay for this!!"
With that, the troopers ran off, returning into the dark alleyways.
Double D panted a bit. "Phew... perhaps I overdid it..."
Zoro sheathed his swords once again. "What weak foes." He gave a chuckle. "Still, I guess that explains what happened to everyone."
Koops nodded. "Those X-naut guys must have swarmed the city. We must have gotten here too late."
"Not entirely." Double D stated, adjusting his hat. "We can still stop them before they any more damage. But it means we will have to act fast at beating UPCO to the star."
Once again he glanced over to the log pose on his wrist.
"Still strait west." Double D stated. "In fact the bearing hasn't changed since we got here at all. Maybe the star itself further then we thought."
"Well, no use wasting time here." Zoro noted, proceeding to walk forward.
Eduardo Jr. moaned and followed. "I'm still hungry. We haven't eaten anything in hours..."
The rest of the group followed along as well. Double D resumed, keeping an eye on the log pose.
By now, nearly all of the lights in Tokyo had either flickered out or faded to a dim fraction of what they once were. Only some of the cars left abandoned in the streets were still running, slowly running out fuel themselves. Music that was automated to play from the stores and homes had mostly silenced out, aside from a low, slowed down cacophony of fading music, moaning throughout the city as though it was dying. Clouds were forming over the city tops now, blocking out the moon and stars. Furthermore, a strange mist began to form about the streets, making visibility almost impossible.
"Who would have thought one of the most populated and advanced places on the globe would have turned out to be a ghost town?" asked Koops worriedly.
"I kind of like it." Midna stated, looking around the eerie area around them. "It reminds me of home."
Double D had lit the are around them once again thanks to his torch. However, by now, he found himself sweating, clutching the top of his head with his free hand.
"Dad, are you ok?" asked the worried Yoshi.
He nodded in reply, panting a bit. "It's nothing. My power just takes energy to use constantly."
Link stopped walking about then.
"I think we should stop for the night to rest. We did take a little damage from those enemies, and the fact that we can't see anything or haven't eaten puts us at a disadvantage.
"Um... huh, I hadn't thought of it like that." Koops said.
"I think I saw a sign for a restaurant a little while back." Eduardo Jr. noted. "There should be one somewhere around here."
Double D nodded. "Ok, let's see if we can find-"
"Not so fast, buddy!"
The group collectively looked up and searched around the area. A troop of 20 more X-nauts suddenly arrived behind them.
"There will be no food for you. Only paaain!"
The group turned forward and saw, to their terror, 20 more approaching from the front of the street. The two soldier factions marched towards the center where Team Alpha was, slowly closing in on them.
"Ah!" Eduardo Jr. called out. "How many of these people are there?"
Zoro unsheathed his swords for a second time and posed, standing by. "Still not enough to take me down."
"S-should we fight again?" Doopliss asked, twirling around to see the abundant enemies around them.
Double D groaned, the nodded. "We have no choice... fight everyone!"
Author's Notes: Thus concludes the first chapter of the Japan story arc. Quite a few mysteries introduced thus far. Where did everyone in Tokyo go? What does Beldam plan for Courage? What is Nico Robin up to? You'll have to catch the next updates to find out!
On another note everyone, I would like to say I plan this particular arc to be... well, plot changing, not to mention a little dark. I won't say who, or how many or when, but the chances that at least one named character may not make it out of this arc are quite high.
That should do it for this update. Thanks for reading, Happy Halloween, and I look forward to your reviews!