OFF: Next chapter is done! Starting from there, the plot will start to differ from the original. Although the general chain of events will be somewhat similar, this chapter is where the differences should start to appear obvious.
It's shorter than the last chapter but should hopefully still prove enjoyable.
Beginning of the End
Chapter 3: Evil Awakened
"So Zero was saying the truth..."
Nightmare was barely listening to the report that his minion was giving him. To tell the truth, he already had an idea. After all, he had heard that report countless times in the past as Kirby had destroyed his older monsters, no matter how carefully crafted. He had better to do than listen to an epiphany of disaster, no matter how well-worded.
He still remembered Zero's words. Despite the millenia, the Dark Matter queen still disturbed him on a primal, visceral manner. He is Nightmare, the embodiment of all fear. He was created from shattered, corrupted dreams and infused with the Dark Matter species's superior essence, allowing him to synchronize himself with all fear and effectively wield limitless power. The fact that even he, an immortal wielding literally infinite power could be overpowered so soundly by Zero was more than a bit distressing. Where did her power come from? How could she sense the future and divine the thoughts of others?
"-and that is all, sir."
As if on cue, the elevator that he had been riding came to a stop. To be fair, he didn't really need to ride that elevator with that minion. He could have simply incarnated somewhere else but he had better uses for his power than this. Moving his body physically took time but time was a ressource he had plenty of.
As the large doors of the command center opened, the caped overlord was greeted by the sight of his trusty minions. The command room was very large, designed to contain the many hundred of minions who would surely wish to be directly there as the villain would give his orders and pick volunteers for missions.
His eyes scanned the faces of each of his minions. Despite being monsters, their expressions were impassive, blank, determined. He had designed and crafted each of them carefully, programming and then training them to the limit. Each monster was a marvel of bio technology and discipline, each was a perfect soldier sharing the overall vision and whose loyalty in the Dark Matter cause was unquestionned. They would succeed in their mission or die trying.
The problem was that so many had died trying already and now, Aldeyl was a new name in a casualty list that was already far too long. The fact that his minions were expendable did not make their deaths any less tragic and this crippled morale. So far, anger and hatred of Kirby kept the ranks united but Nightmare was not sure, should that pink reject survive much longer, if it would remain the case that much longer. They needed a victory and quickly or morale would collapse and they'd have bigger problems than a single rogue experiment.
It was so strange in a way. A few days earlier, Kirby was already pronounced a non-factor, everyone convinced that Aldeyl would finally kill him. After all, Aldeyl was Kirby except better in every way and equipped with fancy NME gadgets. Aldeyl losing was at best a theorical risk. Yet now the idea that Kirby might become a long-term threat to Nightmare's plans was more than a mere possibility, it was now an imminent reality that had to be planned around.
Nightmare had undestimated Kirby once. For that, his last physical body was torn apart, his previous headquarters were reduced to space junk, and his personnel was slaughtered like cattle. He will not make that mistake twice. For his next intervention, he shall send one of his most experienced minions and inflict upon Kirby a decisive defeat. He had done a mistake, sending a minion with only basic experience and thinking that it would be sufficient.
As usual, Yamikage stood before him. The traitorous Star Warrior bowed down briefly before his master. The ninja had been quick in noticing the change in attitude of his master.
"Yamikage, select the most experienced and battle-worthy of the Dream Matters."
Hearing his master's orders, the ninja got to work once more. Just like last time, the former Star Warrior approached each of the minions and begun to inspect them, seeking the one who had the greatest battle potential.
While this was going on, Mistakes raced around the room, preparing the room for King Dedede's next transmission while the NME Salesman looked over his pre-writen speech. Dedede would most likely be very angry to see his latest purchase defeated with such ease and the NME Salesman would have his hands full trying to calm down the selfish king and trying to convince him to 'buy' a replacement.
After a moment, Yamikage returned to his master's side, followed by a green Dream Matter. Although only slightly larger than Aldeyl had been, Nightmare recognized that particular minion. Duales, a female Dream Matter not much older than Aldeyl. She was very unstable but she had been one of the few to actually master the Fusion Copy Ability, one of the most potent forms of the Copy Ability, one that the original Kirby himself had wielded at the peak of his power. Although it might seem to be overkill, Nightmare would not be humiliated twice. Duales's victory will be most spectacular and stand in stark contrast to Aldeyl's failure.
The caped villain's mind joined with that of his minion for a moment, his power washing over him. The ninja nodded, understanding the will of his master and walking away once more, joining the shadows again. Even now, the monsters begun to walk back into the shadows, preparing the scene as the Mistakes finished the preparations for Dedede's transmission.
"Sir," said the NME Salesman. "King Dedede will call soon. It would be best if you went out of sight until the next transaction has been completed."
Nightmare nodded before looking down upon the figure of Duales. She stared at him, her expression understanding.
"Your task will be extremely simple." he said. "In my name, destroy that failure, Kirby. You may use whatever methods you see fit to achieve your goals, just make sure he is gone."
The female Dream Matter bowed down briefly. "Your wish is my command, master."
Nightmare stepped back into the shadows, blending with them as Duales got into position. Soon enough, the lights were turned off as holographic displays were activated, the transmission now beginning.
"Salutations dear customer and welcome to the NME network! How may I help you?" said the NME Salesman in his ever cheerful voice.
The display showing Dedede's face shown that he was, much unlike the salesman, not cheerful in the slightest though. "Your stinky Dream Matter got stomped! You told me that thing was the best monster you ever created and would whack that Kirby without a problem. Well get me the customer service on the channel right now because I got complaints!"
The NME Salesman had predicted that reaction as everyone else had. Unphazed, he carried on as planned. "Ha? That Dream Matter must have probably been deffective. For only a very small fee, we will issue to you a much better replacement. Bigger, faster, stronger, more obedient, and of course more than capable of 'clobbering that Kirby'."
"Oh really? And for what kind of 'very small' fee? Half my treasury? That Dream Matter thing wasn't cheap!"
Again, that reaction from Dedede had been predicted and taken into account. "No no no, my good sir! By very small fee, we mean a very small fee just as reasonable as one could think of."
In an instant, the fee was displayed for Dedede to see. "For that very tiny fee, you shall be issued a replacement. And not just a mere replacement but one that has more than double the power! The last Dream Matter we sent you merely had the power to copy an enemy's own power. This new monster is an improved version that can not only copy powers but take powers from multiple targets and then mix those powers to form an even more destructive power! This new Dream Matter will not merely copy power from its target but take said power, improve upon it, and then use the improved power to overwhelm its hapless target. Believe me, sir, this fee is absolutely laughable for the value of the offer shown."
The king looked at the fee, his face softening for a moment before he nodded. "Well... that fee really is reasonable..." his face hardened quickly again though. "There must be a catch."
"Absolutely not, dear customer." replied the NME Salesman. "The Nightmare Enterprise take pride in its quality products and in the flawless service that we deliver to our customers. As you were given a less than satisfactory result, it is our duty to correct that wrong hence this new offer."
King Dedede really seemed to be buying it. He was smiling by now and quickly turned to his own minions. Within an instant, the Waddle Dees on his side moved the crate filled with gold to the teleporter. Mistakes scrambled to move the crate out of sight while Duales moved in position and was soon enough teleported to the other side.
"Thank you for doing business with the Nightmare Enterprise. We wish to see you again in the future! Have a nice day, sir!"
"Yeah yeah. That one is better be as good as you claim though." and with that said, King Dedede ended the transmission.
With the transmission over, Nightmare and his minions begun stepping out of the shadows, the various Mistakes removing the background objects they had set up and placing back the various consoles that would be used to monitor Duales's progress. Nightmare had a wide grin on his face. Ths time, no amount of whatever luck helped Kirby overcome Aldeyl will help him. Duales is no mediocre minion. She is an elite soldier. Kirby will notice the very obvious difference... right before he dies.
Tiff woke up. She looked through the darkness of her room, seeing only the light of the moon and stars illuminating her room. She had this strange feeling... the same as the other nights.
Although it was the middle of the night, she left her bed and slowly tip-toed her way out of the house. The whole house was dark and silent...
As she made it outside, she let her feeling guide her, walking toward the outskirts of the town... where her feeling was confirmed.
He had come tonight too.
Kirby had been acting weird since he defeated Aldeyl a week ago. Normally when he defeated a monster his happy smile returned quickly but not this time...
He had come again, his gaze distant, not focused on the town filled with the friends who loved him. It was directed toward the dark figure of King Dedede's castle, casting its shadow upon peaceful, sleep Cappytown...
Kirby didn't even seem to notice her as she walked to his side and looked at him. He had not played with anyone since that battle, staying away from the others. What was wrong with him?
Slowly, she looked at the castle. In the middle of the night, Cappytown looked almost completely different. The little town, so lively and full of life at day seemed so small, so silent, so peaceful... and so fragile. It was almost like a painting. Likewise, she could see the fortress of the king. At day, the castle was a strange but nice sight, with its brightly colored walls and funny shape but during the night... it stood as a menacing tower atop a sharp spike, its long, black shadow covering all of Cappytown.
How could a monster from the NME appear now? They had defeated Nightmare and destroyed the NME base. And yet... Aldeyl had appeared.
She had been convinced that this would have been the final battle. After all, Meta Knight had said that Nightmare and his forces, once destroyed, would not return for a full millenium.
What could this mean? Does this mean that Nightmare was not truly destroyed?
... or maybe...
... he was revived ahead of the supposed moment?
But if it was so then how did it happen? And why? Who could be insane enough to desire Nightmare's return?... and most importantly, who would have the power to resurrect the living embodiment of all fear?
And does the return of the NME mean that Dedede is again their enemy? Hadn't he learnt his lesson when the NME launched its assault on the town?
"Poyooo..." whispered Kirby.
His voice... it was hurt, confused, sad. At first, the child wondered why her friend was hurt. Kirby had been badly bruised by Aldeyl true but he had recovered. He recovered from injuries quickly and the doctor had done a great job. But then, she remembered how shocked he had been when Aldeyl had not vanished after being defeated and it's at this moment that the realization dawned upon her.
The pink creature turned to his friend, slowly.
"Kirby, you did the right thing. That 'Aldeyl' was a bad guy. He tried to hurt you and all of us."
"Pu..." he said, shaking his head once.
She did not need to understand his words proper to know what he was trying to say. His tone and face said it all. Her expression hardened, her determination rising.
"I know that he didn't disappear but that doesn't mean he wasn't a bad guy. Not all bad guys are born monsters just as not all monsters are bad guys."
She was talking about him and despite his infant mind, Kirby could not deny it. He owed his existence to the very bad guy who had been behind all of the pain that he and his friends had went through. But he had not cared back then. He had wished to protect his friends and fought against Nightmare. It was then that he drawn the connection. His sadness vanished as he stared at his friend, as if waiting for her to speak.
"We're all friends and we all protect each others. That's what counts. Whenever a bad guy will appear, I will be there. Meta Knight and Tuff too! We'll always be at your side."
And for the first time in a week, she saw his smile return. Not completely... but a great weight came off her shoulders. To see him calm down was so good after he had avoided everyone for a week. Still... she had not said this only to convince him but also herself. Most of the enemies they had fought were monsters so they had never wondered about if they were really bad guys. After all, Kirby was himself a monster and then there was Yamikage, Nightmare's second-in-command, who used to be a Star Warrior.
... this is all so complicated. But what matters is that Nightmare may be back and if he and his minions are back, they'll kick him off of their planet again. They defeated him once, they can do it again!
Observing the scene from the top of Castle Dedede, Meta Knight remained silent. Although he had been too far to hear what they had been saying, there had been no need.
He could feel it deep within his heart, that nameless fear. Nightmare was not gone. He had returned, somehow and this 'Aldeyl' had been only the first of many. There would be a need to train Kirby more...
Meta Knight turned away from the scene, beginning the slow walk toward his room but then... he felt a strange hunch.
Fast as lightning, he spun around unsheating Galaxia. He looked around briefly but his eyes saw nothing, not even a hint of movement.
He had this strange, unpleasant feeling. As if someone had been observing him and the scene.
... he'll need to be watchful.
He hopes from the bottom of his heart that his assumption are all incorrect. But if they are... then things might become complicated.
"That stupid Nightmare! Incompetent, useless, worthless!"
The round, pitch-black creatures straightened, their dull, empty eyes staring blankly ahead as she passed by. By mistake, in her frustration, the back of her right hand slammed straight into the face of one of the dark troopers. It barely flinched, only blinking once and shrugging.
"Hmmm... my queen?"
The small fairy ceased her mumbling and muffled cursing, her eyes staring up into the eyes of her trusted lieutenant. Instantly he regretted his call, orange spikes strengthening, single eye locked straight ahead.
"It's 'sir', not 'my queen'... idiot." although the last word was whispered, the lieutenant heard it much to his frustation.
"So Our Majesty has returned from her journey into the Outside Space?"
The glance that Miracle Matter shot at her lieutenant was so venomous that for a moment, it seemed like she was going to blast him with a bolt of dark lightning. But she only cursed some more under her breath, shaking her head in dismay and mumbling something about 'being surrounded by idiots'.
"What are you orders sir?" brought up the Dark Matter, wishing to redirect his superior's fool mood toward something that would hopefully result in something else than an undeserved punishment.
"Queen Zero has spoken. It is her will that the armada be assembled. It is time to put our next plan into motion."
This was most curious. A new invasion? Curiosity rose within the Dark Matter's mind and he evaluated the risk and reward ratio involved in asking for more information. Well, he needed to know to fulfill correctly what order was to come next so he decided to risk it.
"An invasion, sir? To invade which planet?"
If the Dark Matter had eyebrows, it would have raised one upon hearing the answer.
"Pop Star? But sir, this planet is located barely at the edge of the solar system and the indigenous wildlife are Mistakes so bad not even Nightmare could find uses for them. On top of that, its only civilization is merely at an agricultural level of technology and has only the smallest of standing armies. Any advanced technology they have are unuseable in a military fashion. This planet is defenseless and harmless, its inhabitants so pathetic it wasn't even worth assimilating into our empire. Why should we bother with it now?"
The small fairy begun to visibly shake, her eyes narrowing as she clenched her fists. Sensing the danger, the Dark Matter floated backward slightly...
"I am sorry, sir. Our Majesty's will is our command. Moving out, sir!"
The black liquid sphere quickly flew away leaving its superior to mumble even nastier curses under her breath. Just what she needed. First she get humiliated in front of the queen, then Nightmare get to keep his stupid plans in motion, and now she have to suffer the insultingly low intelligence level of her own minions? That was too much.
Well, she's Miracle Matter, the strongest of Zero's Dark Generals. She will not let a grinning caped idiot and a half-backed Meta Knight clone get ahead of her! She'll assemble that task force in record time and crush that miserable little planet before Nightmare and Dark Meta Knight can even get to stage two of their plans then we shall see who's the best Dark General! She'll even lead her own troops if she have to!
She turned to the closest NZ trooper, her gaze boring into it.
"You. Contact the flagship of our fleet. I wish to oversee the preparations of the genocide task force myself."
"Genocide task force? I thought Our Majesty's orders was to capture Pop Star?" cut the NZ.
Such insolence from such a lowly Dark Matter entity would not be tolerated. He's a mere NZ, a half-solid useless Dark Matter without any actual powers! Who was he to question her?
"You shall be silent! Call my officers. NOW!"
The NZ straightened even further. "Y-yes sir! Right away sir!"
And with that said, it scrambled away as fast as its two small white feet could carry it. Miracle Matter slapped her host body's forehead with her right hand as it ran away, shaking her head in dismay and wondering how Dark Reaper managed to get anything done when surrounded by such incompetent morons. Bah. Just as great minds think alike, so must tiny minds.
=TO BE CONTINUED