This is how our story begins: after Tabuu was defeated, the Brawl characters (minus former villains Bowser, Wario, Dedede and Ganon) needed a place to crash since they no longer served a purpose due to Masahiro Sakurai's lack of preparation skills for after-story mode things. Thus, they turned to Meta Knight, the only person who actually owned a ship big enough for all of them and all other hell-spawn only they could come up with.

At first, Meta Knight didn't like the idea. He threatened them with disembowelment, medieval torture, food poisoning; but nothing made any difference, as Brawl characters didn't fear any of these things. Or anything, for that matter. Especially Link, 'cause he had the Triforce of Courage. So after many injuries, violent disagreements, and the continuous threat of being thrown off the Halberd while it was in flight, the Star Warrior relented.

The aftermath of the gaming commenced: they all got to live there and party like it was 1999.

The End

Well, no, not really. There's still all the many wonderful tales we have to share about their less-than-tolerant attitudes toward each other and all the beautiful chaos that'll make you crack up and pee yourself. Thus, a fanfiction:

Life Aboard the Halberd

Everybody was sitting quietly around a long, narrow table that seated thirty-five. It was close to the front of the ship where an unlikely trio first found all the Mr. Game and Watches in Subspace during game play piloting said ship. They were all carrying various things: suit cases, personal possessions, and (in the case of the Kongs) a whole pile of bananas as high as the ceiling. (Yes, it was the load the Koopas had tried to steal before Bowser went up the wall with his magical blaster.)

They were all looking impatient, as if waiting for something. Fox was tapping his blaster on the table in a bored sort of way. Kirby was eyeing Olimar's Pikmin with rapt hunger and beady eyes, trying to imagine how they might taste in a cooking pot. Meanwhile, Marth and Link were comparing the sizes of their swords and debating whose was bigger. Lucario was looking depressed, occasionally bouncing aura spheres off the metal walls like a tennis ball. Similar to Marth and Ike's conversation, Mario and Luigi were arguing over which was better: FLUDD or the Poltergust 3000. Sonic was shifting restlessly in his seat, twirling a kitchen knife between his fingers in Snake's direction; Snake, incidentally, was talking enthusiastically to Peach.

"...and then I killed that Greap and then—hey, watch it!" Snake yelped, ducking under the table in the nick of time; where his head had been a second before the kitchen knife trembled ominously in the wall.

Sonic grinned sheepishly. "Sorry," he apologized quickly. "I just don't like being pent up like this..."

Mario was eyeing FLUDD longingly, as if desperate for something to break the monotony. "Who does?"

Meanwhile, Pit was banging his head on the table, leaving a large dent where his head made contact every time. "Dying—of—boredom..."

The Pokémon Trainer (who the authors of this story decided to dub "Ash") sighed. "How long have we been here?" he moaned in exasperation.

Samus raised her blaster to her visor and read, "Five hours and fifty-three minutes, twenty-nine seconds."

Ness, Lucas and Ash all raised curious brows. Samus shrugged.

"I had a watch installed; hey, saving the world and all it helps to know what time you're doing it at..."

Many "oh's" followed this statement.

After a few seconds of silence Ike banged his fists on the table. "Where the hell is Meta Knight?" he asked loudly, causing many faces to turn in his direction.

Yoshi's stomach growled.

"That's it!" Captain Falcon yelled. "I'm going to go find that son of a—"

Zelda gave a loud cough, and Captain Falcon caught himself under her firm glare.

"...well, I'll go...just…drag him here," he finished lamely, abandoning the idea in general. After a few seconds of ringing silence the others began to chat again, many now wearing constricted expressions of hunger.

Nana and Popo had somehow managed to procure a miniature block of ice and were currently using the kitchen knives to chisel a sculpture of a rice ball out of it. They stared at it longingly before shaking their heads. Popo hesitated, then stuck out his tongue and licked it hopefully. He grimaced, tried to pull his tongue away, and found that it was frozen to the ice rice ball.

Clutching his stomach, Falco gave the two siblings a long look before asking desperately, "Please—don't—do that."

"Are you that desperate?" Luigi asked them incredulously, as Popo stood on his chair and tried to yank it off. "Have you no pride?"

"Are Pikachus edible?" Wolf asked no one in general, staring at the Electric Mouse Pokémon with a little too much interest. Pikachu narrowed his normally cheerful black eyes. Several sparks fell out of the vivid red outlets on his cheeks. "I was just asking!" Wolf added hastily, waving his hands. Pikachu didn't look impressed, but rather more wary of any other immediate carnivores in the room. Sadly, the tally added up to over five. Jigglypuff, it transpired, had sung herself to sleep and was now drooling on the tabletop.

The casual, bored atmosphere was broken by an ear-splitting din as Olimar screeched: "OH NO YOU DON'T, PINKY!"

Kirby had tried to eat one of his Red Pikmin while nobody was looking; the result did not go over well. It began to wail as Kirby gummed on it; the only part of it sticking out of Kirby's mouth was its flowering bulb stem. Olimar gave it a mighty yank, and it flew out of his mouth, along with five other Pikmin that Kirby had managed to swallow before anyone had cared to notice.

Panting, the space captain pointed an accusing finger at Kirby, which the Star Warrior went cross-eyed to keep it in view.

"What's wrong with you?" Oilmar burst out savagely, hugging his Pikmin protectively like a father holding his firstborn sons.

Link looked up. He jumped to Kirby's defense instantly. "Is it his fault? All the little blob knows how to do is say his own name and suck stuff up!"

"Beep!" Mr. Game and Watch said, while Ness and Lucas gave general outcries of agreement.

Toon Link rounded on his older counter-part. "So do you, but you never tried to eat a Pikmin before! Or can you tell us what they taste like?"

Link scowled and lifted the other Link up by his pointy green hat. "You wanna taste steel, kid? I heard the goblins don't like the Master Sword much... Remind me what you have again?"

"The Phantom Sword," Toon Link replied hotly, "and it's made of Crimsonine, Azurine and Aquanine! It makes that cheap-o stick look like a butter knife next to the blade that conquered Bellum!"

Link scowled. "What's that, a bowel disease?"

Both drew their swords and raised them to each other's face.

"Now, really!" Zelda said testily, slamming her book shut: So You Want To Be A Ninja. "I thought you two would get along like two peas in a pod."

"I thought I said to lay off the food talk!" Falco snapped, a nerve twitching near his temple as he pointed a wing accusingly at the Hyrulian Princess.

"You're like my mom. Worse, you're like Midna! All that little nag ever did was, well, nag!" Link barked.

Toon Link, meanwhile, who struggling wildly in his counterpart's grip, spat, "You're just like Tetra! No, you are Tetra!" He gave an overdramatic gape. "I swear, with every single incarnation Nintendo feels the need to give me some lame sidekick to harass me. Why can't you all just stop haunting m—"

"GHOSTS!" Luigi screeched. Quick to follow the paranoia was the knee-jerk reflex: grabbing his vacuum cleaner-thing and swinging it around wildly, he yelled, "THE SHIP IS HAUNTED!"

"No, no, no!" Mario tried to counsel his younger brother. "We're not in the mansion anymore!" But it didn't work: Luigi had already switched on the vacuum, and the nozzle, with a loud pop, sucked up Ash's Poké Balls which he just so happened to take out for cleaning.

"NO!" Ash cried, running around the table and making a beeline for Luigi. "Give them back! Ivysaur, Charizard, Squirtle, no!"

Before Ash could reach the Italian green-clad plumber, the nozzle swung around and made contact with Fox's face. With a loud sucking pop it latched onto Fox's muzzle. Muted, Fox made a desperate attempt to claw it off. Just to bang one more nail into his coffin, his face began to morph into a spectacular blue-magenta color from oxygen deprivation.

Oh, joy.

"Throw it in reverse!" Yoshi ordered.

"I'm trying, I'm trying!" yelled Luigi as he fumbled with all the shiny and complicated buttons. He apparently hit the right one, because a second later the vacuum made a squelching noise and released Fox. However, a second later it also spat back out the Poké Balls, all smacking repeatedly Fox in the face before the great gushing wind blew back his fur so that he looked like he had a giant orange afro.

"Damn it! Look what you did! Now I have to fix it all over again!" Fox snapped, taking out a small jar from his pockets labeled "axel grease." He then dumped it all down his front, muttering vehement curses as he tried to smooth down his fur.

While many of the large group sniggered openly, Luigi switched off his vacuum not a second before Ash's Poké Balls hit the floor and opened; out came Charizard, Squirtle, and Ivysaur right on top of Oilmar's Pikmin squad. Weight and gravity did not favor the plant-people, for underneath Charizard's torso came little spirits that moaned and vanished in a clearly dead fashion.

For the second time in the past hour Olimar let out a screech: "No!" Angered, the space captain abruptly shoved Marth and Diddy out of the way (and this was saying something, as Olimar wasn't the typical buff) and threw a punch at Charizard.

Charizard blinked, glared down at Olimar with his great, reptilian yellow eyes, and roared. Olimar ducked down in time as a wave of flames escaped his parted jaws; many others backed against the wall to avoid being burned; Nana, who had been trying to rip the ice rice ball off of Popo's tongue, watched as it melted instantly from their proximity to the flames ("Yay!" cried the Ice Climbers); and Mr. Game and Watch, who hadn't been smart and ducked, caught on fire.

Now, you might be able to see the problem here. Brawl characters aren't supposed to be locked up in a room with nothing to do and a lot of energy to be exercised. It never bodes over well. So, under the general noise and chaos, everybody grabbed their guns, blasters, swords, bows, or improvised weapons (i.e., the silverware) and proceeded to brawl as only Brawl characters could.

For the first time in a few hundred years Meta Knight was humming cheerfully to a tune of his own creation. Tucked under his cape was a book he had managed to unearth in one of the Halberd's many spacious rooms. Though dusty, every rule was right down to the fine print, and he was sure everyone else would cooperate once they saw the genius of it all. With that thought in mind, he had managed to keep a cool and calm head and retain his knightly appearance and pride, unlike the rest of those hooligans. While a bit on the short end of the scale, when he wanted to the Star Warrior could give off an aura so intimidating that even Lucario would bow out to the back of the room. And intimidate he would, only as a last resort, of course.

Turning a corner, Meta Knight walked down the hallways of the ship, pressed on the slide-open door and opened his eyes.

Chaos reigned. In one corner there was a cat fight going on between Jigglypuff and Peach; both were slapping each other, even though Jigglypuff was a head shorter. Pit and Charizard seemed to be hovering above the battle, taking random swings with a sword, or (in Charizard's case) scorching everything in sight until it was a melted puddle. The table had been moved several feet—chairs littered the room turned on their side. Link and Link were dueling out blows at each other with their blades.

DK and Diddy had ganged up on Pikachu; DK was holding him by the tail while Diddy grabbed him by the ears, stretching him out like a slinky. Pikachu retaliated, zapping both so that they let him go with yelps of pain. Meta Knight jumped out of the way as Ash's Ivysaur bounded past while Olimar ran after him waving Ike's sword.


"GIVE ME BACK MY SWORD!" Ike puffed, bounding past Meta Knight in pursuit of Olimar without a backward glance at the newcomer.

Squirtle was desperately trying to put out the fires his fellow Pokémon had created by using Water Gun; R.O.B. seemed to be on fire, and Lucario, Ness and Lucas were exchanging telepathic blows, using a variety of psychic attacks ("PK Flash!" "Aura Sphere!" both respective parties shouted).

As Meta Knight's yellow eyes scanned the battlefield that had once been his conference room he did a double-take. It took a moment to realize that the giant orange fluffball in the corner was Fox McCloud. He looked like a chinchilla with a bad hair day. Captain Falcon, screaming "Falcon Punch!" was making even more dents in his precious ship as he attempted to hit Sonic, who was a blue blur; finally, the hedgehog fell from Snake underneath his cardboard box. Snake in one of his least stealthy tactics stuck out his foot and tripped Sonic, causing him to crash headlong into the wall on Meta Knight's left.

Zelda seemed to be going under a split personality change as she magically morphed between her "male," undercover counterpart, Sheik. With a jaguar-like screech of fury Sheik collided into Samus, knocking her away from her opponents, the Ice Climbers. Marth kicked Ash, who was unconscious on the floor; Mario and Luigi were having a vacuum fight, using the nozzles like swords and occasionally spraying water or blowing the other away; and in the middle of this all Kirby sat on DK and Diddy's banana pile, eating away and chucking peels randomly into the fray.

Mr. Game and Watch ran past (still on fire), Wolf running after him with Falco tailing in his wake. Unfortunately, Falco slipped on a banana peel and fell on his back right in front of Meta Knight, throwing his blaster up into the air. Meta Knight caught it in his right hand and glared down at Falco, who looked up, dazed and horrified at the sight of the mask-wearing Star Warrior. Around them the temperature in the room plummeted several degrees.

Ignoring Falco's gasps of pain, Meta Knight walked directly across his ribcage into the middle of the room, evading Yoshi and Pikachu, before jumping up onto the table. He lifted the blaster, eyed it for a moment, pulled the trigger, and with a blast like a cannon shot at the roof.

Everybody froze mid-fight, except for Toon Link, who quickly kicked the older Link in the shins and whistled innocently while the older version hopped around on one foot.

Meta Knight lowered the gun, half-tempted to start blasting it and reinstate the civil warfare. His gaze traveled from Snake, who was frozen in his attempts to strangle Ike, to Diddy, who had his foot raised, about to kick Sonic, to the collective scene around him.

"Never," Meta Knight declared in a calm voice filled with chilling menace, "have I seen such disgraceful behavior. I allowed you all to stay here, and in less than two hours you decided to start World War III in my home."

"We gave you a sky-light!" Ness pointed out in a falsely optimistic voice, cowering behind Lucario who mere seconds ago he had been trying to KO. "And windows. Personally, I think you needed them, this place was and creepy and frightening."

Meta Knight faked a surprised look. "Oh. So I see." If looks could kill, no doubt Ness would be writhing on the floor in pain. "Well, Ness." His eyes were chips of ice. "Do I frighten you?"

"Yes!" Ness squeaked, turning paper-white in the face.

Many of the others swapped terrified looks. Normally, they wouldn't have listened, considering Meta Knight was only as big (if a few inches taller than) Kirby. However, with a blaster in his hand no one dare said anything. The only sound in the room was (incidentally) Kirby's consistent eating of the bananas. DK and Diddy eyed him with indignant and incredulous disbelief, but under Meta Knight's baleful glare they were cowed into silence.

"Now." Meta Knight jumped off the table and took a few steps forward. "Who in their right minds started this non—hiiirk!"

With a wild swerve he slipped backwards on a banana peel, hitting the floor with a ringing thud. There was maybe two seconds of a pause before Pit began doubling over with laughter, crying with mirth, his eyes flooding with tears as he clutched at his chest.

With half a second to spare the angel thrust his head back, missing a violet ray from the blaster that burned a hole into the wall. His outcry stopped abruptly.

"Anyone else got a problem?" Meta Knight asked in a would-be-calm voice, Falco's blaster still aimed at Pit's head. When everybody shook their heads quickly, he pulled a chair up to the edge of the table. "Well, go on," he snapped, as everyone stared dumbly at this normal behavior. "Grab a chair—I didn't go off looking for my book for a few hours so that we could all gape here like idiots..."

"Book?" Mario whispered, taking a seat between R.O.B and Pikachu. "How long does it take to find a book?"

Pikachu shrugged. "Pika, pik, chu," Pikachu stated, shaking his head. R.O.B. blinked, and again for everyone's convenience translated: "No clue."

Yoshi exchanged a significantly dark look with Jigglypuff. "We're screwed, aren't we?"

"Jig, jiggly puff puff."

As if anyone could actually make headway with that gibberish.

Once everyone had dragged chairs to the table over the wreckage and taken a seat (Ash, still out cold, was shoved sloppily into his seat by Snake), they turned their heads toward Meta Knight. The Star Warrior occupied a chair at the head of the table. The Brawl characters all gulped, all but waiting for their names to be called to the guillotine.

Meta Knight eyed them suspiciously for a moment before reaching under his cloak. Many flinched, expecting to see the deadly glint of Galaxia, his sword, but were both stunned and nonplused as he slammed a rather large foot-thick book onto the table. Dust sputtered from its pages; Fox, who had finally combed down his fur and was sitting closest to Meta Knight, began to cough violently.

"What—hack—is that?" he spluttered.

Meta Knight, underneath his mask, gave what was an award-winning smirk. "I'm glad you asked," he answered waspishly, holding up the book so that everyone down the table could read the cover: Regulations and Protocols.

Peach stared at it like it was some sort of viral disease. Apparently, in the Mushroom Kingdom it was considered a crime to be dirty. "How old is that?" To punctuate her dislike of the grime, the princess cringed.

Zelda gave a wry laugh. "Oh, I'd assume several centuries give or take. Older than dear Meta Knight here I'm sure, considering his age."

It was hard to decide whether to laugh or not; Wolf had stuffed his fist in his mouth to hold back a snort, while Lucario gave a very unseemly giggle.

Meta Knight glowered. In spite of himself, all remaining ounces of pride seemed to go with the wind. "Are you implying that I'm old?" he asked grumpily.

"Well"—Zelda gave an awkward smile—"you'll find it hard to disagree with me that you're not exactly young..."

There came a muffled laugh from the back, and a voice said (Meta Knight had a shrewd idea who), "Maybe that's why he wears that mask—probably to hide all the wrinkles..."

Marth ducked as Meta Knight chucked his sword at the Lowell prince. It was a close shave. As it sunk into the wall with a clunk Marth sat up and pointed openly. "Ha, you missed!"

Meta Knight sighed, made a complicated, short gesture with his hand, and the golden thunder-bolted shaped blade unstuck itself from the wall and sailed over the top of Marth's head, shaving off the top of his hair as it sailed magically back to its owner like an obedient dog.

Marth opened his mouth, clearly about to make some rude insult, when he noticed that many people were pointing openly at his head. He blinked, unaware of what had happened. "What?"

Peach, grimacing, passed him her hand mirror. Marth let out a wail of despair as he saw that the top of his hair had been sliced off very unkemptly by about half an inch.

Without sparing him a glance Meta Knight plowed on: "Now, disregarding how old I am, if you'll all please..." He flipped open a page, and a moth flew out.

There was a brief second's pause before the moth was caught on the end of a toothpick and hit the door that led into the ship's main hallways.

"SNAKE!" Samus snapped. "Do you have to do that?"

Snake lowered the toothpicks he clutched in his right hand and muttered an apology before leaning back in his chair.

"Where did you find that?" Captain Falcon burst out.

"The basement," Meta Knight answered promptly.

"The Halberd has a basement?" Yoshi and Nana both echoed.

"Yes. It's where I...keep disobedient guests. Like Little Jimmy."

Lucas raised a hand. "Who's Little Jimmy?"

"The skeleton."

Lucas sank into his seat and whimpered. Normally, they all would have thought that Meta Knight was joking, but as Meta Knight was an emotionless bastard who didn't joke they all sobered up rather quickly.

Just then, Olimar, who had been rummaging in his pockets, found what he was looking for. With his right hand stretched out he took a seed packet and began to sprinkle it around his seat like a salt circle. Oddly enough, it looked like grass seed for a lawn. For a moment Meta Knight opened his mouth, about to speak, when he clearly though better of it and went on with the whole reason they were here in the first place.

"This," Meta Knight plowed on, "is the rule book that you will all obey if you wish to live here. Otherwise, you can leave. I'm not stopping you."

He gestured to the door behind him, though nobody moved. Meta Knight, expecting this, continued on, ignoring Olimar (who had re-plucked several of his Pikmin squad). How the space captain had managed to cultivate Pikmin seeds in a metal floor in less than a minute, no one could really fathom, and certainly didn't try. "Now, let me highlight several key rules that stand above all others. One: No food or drinks inside the control room. That means you, Peach."

Peach, who had taken out tea and passed it around to some of the others frowned at him. "Why?"

"It wrecks all the technology kept around here if spilled on," the Star Warrior answered curtly. He waited until all of her tea seemingly vanished into thin air, as quickly as it had appeared (though not without a few muttered complaints and insults), before resuming his lecture: "Rule number two: Don't touch that."

Captain Falcon froze with his hand mere inches away from a large red button and quickly shuffled back into his seat.

Meta Knight, breathing heavily, gave him an annoyed look. "If you do that again I will throw you out of the Halberd's airlock myself. Captain's privilege. Rule number three—"

"Wait," Samus interjected. Elbows propped on the tabletop, she leaned forward expectantly. Without the visored helmet her gaze managed to bore into the Star Warrior's. "Why's there a big red button in the middle of the conference room? Seriously? Shouldn't that be somewhere else? Like, the Halberd's control deck? Or the battery?"

He waved off her comment with a flick of his wrist. "It's one of my contingency plans. I placed it there so it could be easily accessible during times of emergency. However"—Meta Knight paused to lock his hands together in the steeple position and return her stare—"I advise you to not press it."

"Why?" Lucas piped up.

"Pray you never find out."

His ominous words hanging in the air, no one decided to press the matter.

Returning to the third order of business, Meta Knight made a weary-sounding noise: "Rule number three—"

At that moment the ship jerked slightly; Ash toppled out of his chair, still snoring, and resurfaced from underneath the table a moment later, rubbing his eyes. "Hey, where's the explosion...?"

DK gave Meta Knight a nervous look. "Are we supposed to be moving?"

"Does the ship have an auto-pilot?" Diddy chipped in.

Meta Knight didn't answer immediately. Still holding his book, he whisked his cloak around him and reappeared in the shuttle that led up to the control pit of the Halberd. "Stay," he ordered, before the lift cluttered to life and took him up out of sight into the control room.

They didn't have to wait very long to find out what happened: With an ear-splitting scream Meta Knight's voice rang down the empty lift: "OLIMAR!"

Baffled, heads turned to stare at the captain, who merely shrugged. It wasn't until another yell followed, with slight desperation, "Up here now! Help me!" that everybody tried to cram themselves into the tiny lift really meant for three. With a single, ominous creak, the elevator complied and grudgingly took them up to the command deck.

The moment the lift doors clattered open thirty-one Brawl characters tumbled out into the spacious control room, gazing at the scene of terror: Olimar's Pikmin seemed to have snuck upstairs during Meta Knight's speech and mistook the central command center as a playground. They were all pressing buttons, jumping on the many dashboards, toggling levers, and (in the case of a single, rather fat Purple Pikmin) preparing to spring onto the steering wheel as if off a diving board.

"NO!" many voices cried, Meta Knight's the loudest, but to no avail; it sprang and grabbed the wheel, which spun wildly under the weight. The ship responded by swerving upside down.

"I'm gonna be sick!" Marth yelled. Ash smacked the ceiling, now the floor, and went unconscious again as DK fell on top of him to the sound of cracking bones. Samus and Sonic had been the only two to grab something attached to the floor, pipes, and dangled by their arms as everyone fell below them.

"Pikmin on rampage!" Toon Link screamed, groggily sitting up. Around him many disembodied Pikmin spirits floated up to the ceiling. It seemed that the sudden change of sky and earth's gravity made all but five drop dead as they thudded into the floor like bullets.

Staggering slightly, Diddy took a few dazed steps and walked directly into Meta Knight. Not even bothering to spare the monkey a second thought, he shoved Diddy away, causing the chimp to smack into Lucas. "How am I supposed to steer this thing now?" the Star Warrior growled, glaring up at the wheel that stood twenty plus feet above his head. Never mind the fact that he had wings tucked beneath his cape.

"I got it!" Pit cried jubilantly, taking out his bow. Taking aim with his tongue between his teeth, he raised his bow and released an arrow the same moment the ship gave an almighty lurch below them. Not exactly one of his most brilliant plans, but hey, at least he made an effort. The arrow instead crashed into a lever, knocking it back. Murphy's Law, ever the one to mock them, spurred the Halberd on to greater speed and momentum.

"Stop it!" Meta Knight begged, somewhat hysterically as Pit shot more missed arrows at his wheel. Sparks erupted from the abused console as the light arrows impaled the machinery and dissolved upon impact.

Yoshi sat up, shaking his head, and glanced at R.O.B.; the robot was now directly below the wheel, gazing up and scanning it, looking for a way to get at it—he could hover sort of, and Meta Knight and Pit were some of the few present who could fly, though for whatever the reason in the midst of the pandemonium logic seemed to be abandoned in favor of Pit playing archery with the delicate machine. Some days, you had to wonder if the constant impact trauma was killing brain cells.

"I got it!" Yoshi shouted, bounding through the jumble of fallen people before giving a great leap. His feet made contact with both Meta Knight's and R.O.B.'s heads as he pushed off them, grabbed the wheel, and yanked.

The entire ship shuddered and very swiftly turned upside right again, sending everybody crashing back onto the floor with renewed groans and yelps. The remainder of Olimar's Pikmin were crushed, this time by Captain Falcon ("Oops..."), and the pint-sized suit-wearer let out another dry sob.

Sitting up, Nana and Popo both cheered together, "Let's do that again!" with gleeful smiles. Mixed glares and dubious looks were thrown in the siblings' direction.

"I'd prefer not, if you don't mind," Mario commented dryly as he offered Peach a hand.

Diddy gave Ash a kick in the stomach. "He went unconscious again! Great, well, you can carry him DK, you knocked him out..."

The tie-wearing ape snorted. "This is why you shouldn't leave jobs to humans," he half-joked, scooping up Ash bridal style and slinging him over his shoulder. "Did anything break?"

"My jaw," Wolf snapped, rubbing his face rather forcefully, while Lucario stood up.

As Zelda stumbled to her feet both Links rushed forward with identical cries of, "I'll help!" The only thing the willing volunteers accomplished was to running skull-first into each other and thumping to the floor. Meanwhile, the Hyrulian princess got up gracefully, muttering, "Morons," and joined DK, Ness and Kirby by the lift's door.

"Well, now that's over," Sonic said impatiently, grinning, "race you all back downstairs!" He vanished in a blue-red blur.

"—how?" Falco spluttered. "The only way downstairs is the lift..."

"Maybe he's so fast he doesn't need it?" Captain Falcon suggested halfheartedly, scratching the back of his head. "Or the git can teleport and never told us about it..."

"Chaos Emeralds?" R.O.B. offered, already wheeling back into the lift.

Nobody really replied as they all crammed back into the lift and went downstairs again. As it clattered to a stop they all poured out (basically, they tripped over themselves due to the lack of space) back to their respective seats. Sonic was shifting in his chair again, looking restless.

"Can't you all go faster?" he whined as they took their seats.

"Can't you go any slower?" Diddy retorted as he occupied the chair beside him. "God, you make crack addicts look decent, Sonic."

"Well, excuse me for being born so fast I can't keep still!"

"The attitude sure doesn't help though, does it?"

Sonic narrowed his eyes. "You wouldn't be a monkey if I ripped your tail out, huh?"

Lucario's eyes snapped open as he roared, "Please, please, please! You"—he pointed at Sonic, who shrank into his seat fearfully—"patience might help control the speed addiction. And you"—Diddy's eyes bugged—"play nice, or I'll rip your tail out and feed it to the walking eating machine." A thumb jerk indicated the Star Warrior, who looked only too happy to comply.

Kirby gave an enthusiastic squeak in affirmation.

Both glowered, united in their humiliation against Lucario. However, a cough from Samus broke off the would-be fight. Heads turned in Meta Knight's direction again as the older Star Warrior regarded Kirby pensively. "Actually, that brings me to rules three, four and five.

"Three: I pilot the ship. Four: Please try to contain yourselves and limit the fighting to battle practices, training, or saving the world—by the way, you'll all be cleaning this place up for wrecking it—Five..." Meta Knight glanced at Kirby again before saying very slowly and calmly, as if bracing himself, "Now that you'll all be staying here...the 'food' thing just reminded me of it, actually..." Taking a quick breath, expecting protests, he elaborated, "We can all chip in and do our fair share of work. Chores."

Now, in life there were some horrors so intense that they could send chills through people without even trying. Visits with in-laws, hour-long cross-country road trips, and shopping malls during Black Friday were some of the possessors of said skill. Apparently so was the word "chore."

Silence greeted Meta Knight's announcement.

At last, Marth slammed his fists on the table. "That's a joke—right?" he asked weakly, giving a quick, desperate sort of laugh. Under the dutiful, furious glare of Meta Knight, Marth was reminded how lucky he was that only half an inch of hair had been shaved off. Recalling that painful memory, he ran his hand over the top of his surgically blue hair, wincing slightly.

Pikachu gave a few short nods. His head barely came to line with the tabletop. "Pika! Pik, pikachu!"

Jigllypuff nodded. "Jiggly puff, jig, jiggly puff puff!" she agreed heartily.

Lucario sighed. "They both said that next to saving the world it should be easy, even"—the Aura Pokémon winced—"fun."

"'Fun'?" Luigi parroted. "'Easy'? Knocking the stuffing out of Tabuu was easy."

"The perfectionist prat will be making sure we get every last speck of microscopic dirt off the floors!" Toon Link added disdainfully, squeezing his thumb and index finger together to emphasize his point.

Samus narrowed her eyes. "Cut him some slack," she snapped. "Be grateful you even get to think such a thing. We get boarding room here—better be chores than rent. I seemed to have noticed none of you has any money—and I should know, I was looting through your stuff earlier while we were fighting..."

Toon Link gaped. "Wow. I thought the Zelda reincarnation was bad, but I guess all girls are pilfering thieves."

Peach, Zelda, Jigglypuff, Samus and Nana all snapped their heads to glare down the table at him. It was actually kind of scary. Mario patted Toon Link on the shoulder.

"Bad move, Romeo," the plumber consoled. "Girls don't like being snubbed." He inwardly flinched as he recalled, "I once teased Peach about being fat and she threw me out the nearest window."

"Hey, Peach?"

It was barely a week after the group had returned from their ill-fated trip to Isle Delfino. Currently Peach and Toadsworth were huddled over a table with dozens of papers spread before them. It actually derailed Mario's train of thought, seeing Peach doing what looked like legit paperwork. Over the many years the two had known each other, the Italian plumber had never seen her pick up any sort of legal documentation, let alone file it. Come to think of it, perhaps that was why the Mushroom Kingdom was so successfully invaded on a weekly basis, with the lack of proper fortifications and the whatnot. Then again, that's sort of what he was there for.

Bright blue eyes regarded him as Peach glanced up. Like the rest of the beachgoers, her skin was still fairly tan. Toadsworth, already a moderate shade of brown on his toadstool, looked positively sunburned, as if someone had thrown him in an Easy Bake Oven just to see if he could be cooked and consumed.

Morbid humor aside.

"Yes, Mario? Can I help you?" the Mushroom Princess prompted, sounding just a tad strained. Taken aback by her tone, Mario trotted up to the table and peered down at the papers sprawled across its marble surface.

"Huh…? Oh! Yeah. I was wondering if you were up for a game of tennis."

She should have taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker. What happened instead was Peach shaking her head and circling a line on one of the leaflets before them with a sharpie. "Sorry, Mario, but I'm a bit preoccupied."

Damn. Guess it was time to act like the sensitive and caring boyfriend. "Oh? What's got you so rattled? Is it something I can help with? Bowser again?"

What he didn't expect was for Peach to flinch and brush down the folds of her flowing pink dress, chin ducked down and hands clenched atop the marble. "Something like that."

Of course, Mario was prepared to deliver one of his snappy one liners about what the King of the Koopas could go do to himself. All witty repertoire vanished, however, when he caught sight of one of the paper's content. "Birth certificates for Bowser, Jr.?"

Well. That explained a lot.

"Peach," exhaled Mario, torn between exasperation and amusement, "for the last time, you are not his mother. Bowser was just trying to mess with your head."

"B-But," Peach protested, her head snapping up to meet his, "he was so certain that I was…"

Time to be blunt. "Don't you think one of us would have noticed if you were pregnant, Peach?" Sometimes, Mario privately admitted, his job sucked. "Unless we all somehow suffered from memory loss and forgot about the last nine months, then believe me: You're. Not. His. Mom."

Suddenly, a rare moment of cruel humor struck him. Offering his most devious grin, Mario tapped his chin thoughtfully and leaned back to give the princess a once-over. "Though," he pondered aloud, "your bathing suit did look a little tight on you while we were on vacation…"

The last thing Mario remembered after that was freefalling out of the fifth-story window with the ground rushing to meet him head-on.

"…I still have the scars, too."

Peach scowled, looking dangerous compared to her usually upbeat, sugary self. "Men are insensitive, brainless noobs."

DK gawked. "Did she just call you a noob?"

As the majority began to reach for their weapons, Olimar, who currently had nothing to defend himself with, asked Meta Knight hastily, "Didn't you say there was a no-fighting rule?"

Meta Knight blinked. "I did," he agreed. "Ladies," he pacified, "save it for training practice. You can kick their asses another time."

With satisfied smiles the women went back to looking dainty and harmless. Falco inched his chair away from Nana slightly.

"Continuing on with rule number five," he went on, "I'll lighten up on that tomorrow morning. The next rule…" Meta Knight cracked open the book and read: "Please refrain from swearing, derogative comments, excessive vulgarity, and—"

"I'm calling bullshit!" Fox exclaimed, and pointed accusingly at the masked warrior. "I bet he's making these up as he goes along."

"Nope. Take a look, Fox," Meta Knight said smugly, thrusting the book into his face. Fox's peeved expression disappeared behind the pages as he read, while others raised their voices in complaint:

"Not fair! Not fair!" Pit chanted in rhythm to banging both his fists on the table.

"Beep!" ("You can forget it!") Mr. Game and Watch yelled.

"Poyo!" Kirby cried, pointing a pink stub at Meta Knight from the opposite end of the table.

"Why do you even care, Kirby?" Ness asked curiously. "You can't even speak basic English."

"I speak Japanese!" Marth stated cheerfully to nobody in particular. "Does that mean I still get to swear in Japanese?"

"No," Meta Knight growled from underneath his mask. "Really, is it so difficult to convey a simple meaning without relying on curses? If I believed in reincarnation then I would have pegged you all for sailors in your past lives. For some of you, every other word out of your mouths is a swear."

Rather abruptly, Snake chucked a dinner fork at Meta Knight that he had picked off of the floor in a manner similar to Sonic's accidental toss earlier. In a swish of his purple cape Meta Knight disappeared and reappeared in the same spot, evading the projectile weapon.

"Damn it, Snake! If you don't like it then say it to my face; don't throw my silverware." Meta Knight scowled as he sunk back into his seat. It barely took a second to realize exactly what he'd spat, before everyone jumped on his slip-up like piranha.

"You broke your own rule!" the Ice Climbers chorused.

"Hypocrite," Sonic muttered disdainfully, while Link cried out, "Change it!"

Ash, still in his unconscious state in his chair, would have protested had he been awake to. Instead his head sagged on his shoulder and he grunted.

Captain Falcon narrowed his eyes. "Why don't you take that rule and shove it up your ass?"

Under the sudden tidal wave of pressure Meta Knight was forced to relent. Seemingly taking out a marker from nowhere, he popped off the cap and scribbled out rule number six. "There. Happy?"

Numerous cheers went up into the air.

"Majority vote; motion passed!" Diddy screeched as only he could. Next to him, DK gave a roar of approval and pounded on his chest ape-style.

"Rule number seven," Meta Knight sighed above the gales of laughter, "we'll have training sessions every other day, in timing with chores."

No protests. As if they would object to an excuse to beat each other senseless. He continued: "Rule number eight: no pets."

DK and Diddy swapped nervous looks that went unnoticed by everyone except for Lucario.

"Why?" Lucas asked softly from his seat.

"Pets are hazards to the ship's health and all those present."

Wolf folded his arms across his chest and asked in a voice oozing sarcasm, "What do you think we're going to do? Take Goombas for walks on a leash?"

R.O.B. turned his head toward Meta Knight, asking cautiously, "Does this regard...ah...Pokémon?"

As Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Lucario were the only ones present they all turned quelling looks toward the robot. R.O.B. shook his head.

"It was just a question..."

"'Just a question'!" Lucario snarled, rising to his feet. His eyes glowed a menacing yellow. "Do you think us below your intelligence?"

R.O.B. flinched. "I only meant to say that you guys normally depend on trainers..."

A blinding flash streaked across the room as Pikachu let loose a hellbent yowl and zapped R.O.B. The effect wasn't very pretty. The robot began to smoke on the head from a rather charred-looking scorch mark. Wolf turned in his chair and began to beat down the sparks radiating from his circuitry.

Pikachu's cheeks sparked as he gave several loud cries of fury. "Pika! Pik, pikachu, pikapi chu! Pika!"

"'I have no human masters,'" Lucario translated. Even if he was playing the role of translator, he sounded just as impassioned. "'I come to the aid of others, but I decide things on my own.' As do Jigglypuff and I," Lucario finished gravely, inclining his head.

"Well," Pit mused, "that got awkward fast."

With no more outbursts following his rather proud, solemn speech, Meta Knight gave a pronounced "ahem" that made everybody start slightly. "Fair point. Pokémon do not count as pets but highly intelligent beings. Now, may I continue? Or do we have to go into the political rights and suffrage of Digimon?"

Sometimes it was just easier to agree and nod your head, if only to get them compliant. And sometimes, you had to fight snarkery with snarkery.

When no one made a motion to speak, Meta Knight continued, reading now word-for-word from the book: "Rule number nine: 'When there are more than twenty people sharing living space on the Halberd it's twenty-minute shower-usage per person.'"

Marth and Ike both regarded Meta Knight as if he had just admitted an all-consuming desire to become a ballerina and go starch naked.

"That…That's a joke?" Marth begged softly. "Please say that's a joke..."

Falco snorted. "Pretty boy and pretty boy here both need forty minutes each to primp and preen each other." He then swiped up Peach's hand mirror from the tabletop and pretended to poke his face in the mirror's reflection. "'My noses looks too off-center!' 'Is that a ZIT?' 'So help me, I think I'll die of ugliness.'"

While the room burst into fits of laughter (Yoshi actually fell out of his seat) Marth and Ike both scowled. Blue-haired and incredibly similar-looking, it was hard to decide who to laugh at. Probably Marth, considering how his impromptu haircut ruined his image.

"We do not!" Marth snarled. "I just need to uphold royal pride for my fair kingdom."

"What kingdom?" Snake snorted. "It's a pile of rubble and bricks. Who are your subjects, Your Highness? Fleas and grains of sand?"

As Marth turned scarlet in the face (magnificently clashing with his hair) Nana and Popo both chimed in, "The last rule, please!"

Meta Knight looked highly relieved to be on the final page of "important rules." "If you'll all get up," he beckoned wearily, "then I'll show you."

"Show us what?" Ness whispered suspiciously as the scraping of chairs filled the room.

Lucas shrugged. "Dunno, but maybe we can ask about food soon." His stomach growled in agreement. "I haven't eaten in forever..."

"Hey!" Fox shouted, causing the other Brawl characters to glance his way. "What about him?" He pointed at Ash, who was still unconscious.

"Poor kid," Wolf rumbled, scratching his chin with a claw. "I could always bite him, or kick him where the sun-don't-shine... Would brighten my day, anyway."

He gazed imploringly at Meta Knight, who hesitated. The swords master shrugged. "Do what you must," he replied before heading toward the doors leading out into the hallway.

Wolf flashed his incisors in a wicked grin. "My pleasure..."

When everybody had filed out into the silvery, metallic hallway (Kirby being the last) behind them came a loud cry of pain, followed by Fox and Wolf's roar of laughter.

"What the hell was that for?"

"Oh, look," Falco said breezily, "Ash woke up."

Hearty laughter rose from the crowd as Fox and Wolf returned, sniggering. Meanwhile Ash doubled over as he emerged from the conference room, hands clutching in a half-spasm at his groin. He swore loudly and let out a quiet sob. "Did you have to do that?" he winced.

"Tried, failed," Fox replied calmly, "but you just wouldn't wake up... So deary me, we had to give you a little nudge."

"That was more than a little nudge," Ash spat.

"You'll make a full recovery," Wolf promised him before skipping after the rest of the Brawl characters.

Rather than confront the madness, the Star Warrior proceeded as if nothing had happened. "This door here," Meta Knight indicated with a wave, pointing to a bright, silver-black door on their first right (it being beside the conference room entryway), "is the kitchen. It connects to the conference room, where you'll be eating meals. I'll take care of supplying—"

"Did you say food?" Yoshi piped up, stopping so abruptly that Mr. Game and Watch, Pit, and Samus all bumped into him from behind.

Meta Knight turned around, slightly curious as to what would prompt such a strong reaction out of all of them. "Yes," he answered cautiously. "Did you think I'd starve you all?"

"Yes," moaned Link, eyeing the door raptly. "None of us have eaten in hours... Well, minus Kirby. He ate all of DK and Diddy's bananas..."

Both of the Kongs glared at Kirby, who was now tugging fruitlessly at the locked doorknob. He turned his dark eyes onto Meta Knight and opened his mouth like a fish out of water, gaping, before struggling to open the door again.

"You're still hungry?" DK snorted.

Kirby answered by yanking the doorknob out of its socket. He waved it in his hand before turning to glare at Meta Knight again. "Poyo?"

"You'll eat soon enough," Meta Knight assured as he got the gist of his pupil's voiceless plea. "And please, put that back..."

Kirby nodded, and with every pair of eyes fixed on him, stuffed the doorknob back into its empty frame upside down. "Kirby!" Kirby cried triumphantly. As the pink Star Warrior began to move away the door gave a loud creeeeak and fell off its hinges, backward, into the kitchen.

"FREE FOR ALL!" Link roared, and with him in the lead, the stampede charged into the space-colored, silver-blue tiled kitchen, trampling Meta Knight in the process.

Meta Knight barely had the chance to yell "My door!" before he was flattened by the group of very hungry Brawl characters. Struggling into a sitting position, he stared into the room, where everyone had managed to grab some form of food (Mr. Game and Watch had found a Party Ball). Little regard was spared as the ensemble tore ravenously into whatever they could find.

"You're not all dying of hunger, are you?" the Star Warrior asked, somewhat incredulously.

Pikachu stood up on the table near the cabinets, sucked in his gut so that every rib was visible as if plaster-molded, and fell onto the floor. Also managing to grab a flower from the counter vase, he held it in his paws as he lay pathetically on the floor.

"Said the fat yellow rodent that weights the same as Charizard," Ness scoffed, though he was grinning through a mouthful of jam and bread.

Somebody had unearthed a six-foot hoagie, which was now being eaten by Popo and Nana, one Ice Climber at each end. Peach was daintily sipping tea with Fox and Zelda, while Link, Toon Link, Lucas, and Lucario were all enjoying a bountiful harvest of donuts.

"I didn't know you liked donuts, Meta Knight," Luigi grinned as he helped himself to a pitcher of lemonade he'd found in the fridge, the fridge in question about eight feet tall by five feet wide.

"I don't," the Star Warrior grunted, watching from the now empty door frame. Right now he was having a hard time deciding whether he was angry or bemused. "I bought them after you all forced yourselves upon me. I didn't know what you liked to eat, so I gathered anything that was high in fat would suffice."

Apparently it was also a crime in the Mushroom Kingdom to be fat, because Peach gave Meta Knight a disgusted look. "That stuff is gross and unhealthy!"

Samus, who was trying to shove an eight-inch hamburger into her mouth all at once, rolled her eyes. "Speak for yourself—the Chozo people never had a McDonalds drive through..."

"Well, it's bad for you," Peach snapped. "It can lead to obesity, lack of energy, fatigue, heart problems, death. I can almost see your grave now: 'Here lies Samus Aran. Cause of death: a cheeseburger.'"

But nobody was really paying her any attention. In fact, all that her forewarning accomplished was prompt those seated near her into reciting lolcat captions.

"Kaabii!" Kirby said heartily; the pink Star Warrior opened his mouth and inhaled, sucking the food out of Marth, Ash, and Jigglypuff's hands. They all glared daggers at Kirby, who swallowed, still eyeing the rest of them with an undisguised famish.

"Which reminds me." Meta Knight crossed the room and took a seat beside Kirby. "Kirby needs to be supervised when he's in here. I'm not taking out a huge wat of money from my private stores every time the living vacuum goes on an eating spree..."

"What? You got a vault or somethin'?" Fox demanded in between guzzles from his tea. "Where at?"

"Drink your tea. It'll get cold," Meta Knight advised, ever the evasive one.

Diddy, who had taken a banana out of the fridge turned toward Meta Knight. "Do you suppose that DK and I could keep our bananas in here?"

Meta Knight shrugged. "Sure, why not? It's not as if you've asked for permission for anything else up until now."

Both primates grinned at each other before high-fiving. "Score!"

All of the sudden there came a loud hacking, sputtering noise from one section of the room. Lucario was on his knees, spitting in convulsion on the floor while clutching at his throat; the color was oddly draining out of his face...

"Ooh, sweet! I love this game," Pit cheered, bending down next to Lucario on the floor. "It's charades! I used to play charades with my old squad. Y'know, when I was a Captain, back before Palutena 'reassigned' me to Brawl."

Lucario made a violent motion at the fruit bowl on the table with one hand. He glared wickedly at Pit, who went on smiling.

"Let's see..." With many eyes on him, the angel declared, "He's sick! He's sick of...what are you sick of?"

Lucario made a hacking noise and made a grabbing motion at the air in front of Pit's face, clearly trying to strangle him.

"Me?" Pit frowned. "Well, that isn't very nice! I quit." He then stood up and all huffy-like turned his back away.

The more intelligent ones in the room, like Snake or Zelda, recognized the symptoms of a Pokémon in distress. "He's choking," Snake assessed in a bored-sounding tone as Zelda bent down next to the Aura Pokémon.

"Well that's a stupid thing to charade," snapped Pit, still as clueless as ever.

Zelda scowled, while others jumped to their feet and crowded around a now white-in-the-face Lucario.

"I know CPR," the Hyrulian princess said uncertainly, looking apprehensive. "But they never taught us how to do it on a Pokémon..."

"You learned CPR?" Mario blinked, more than likely wishing that Peach was half as useful. At least Zelda didn't get kidnapped on a 24/7 basis.

"Of course." Zelda sighed in exasperation. No one was paying the slightest bit of attention to Lucario anymore, who was now cross-eyed, coughing violently and very pale. His grip on his own throat was slipping. "All members of the Royal Family were well versed in a variety of subjects: combatant skills, medical techniques, literature and arts..."

Ike tapped Zelda on the shoulder and pointed at Lucario, who had gone unconscious. "I think he's dead."

R.O.B. looked Lucario over once, before concluding, "Nope, still alive, but you might want to hurry up with that CPR now..."

"Oh. Right." Zelda pulled a book off of her person and flipped through the pages. Where she had been storing that beforehand was anyone's guess. "Here; I'll read off the instructions."

Jigglypuff positioned herself next to Lucario, while many others watched with a morbid sort of fascination.

"First, deliver five back blows between the person's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand."

Jigglypuff obliged rather enthusiastically using Pound.

"Next, perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver)."

While Jigglypuff used Double-Slap for this part (oh-so-effective) Fox rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "You know, I always got tongue-tied when trying to say that word. I think I once said 'hindlick' instead... No wonder people would laugh."

"Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged."

Lucario, meanwhile, had been reawaken underneath the consistent amount of "helping" Jigglypuff was doing and thought he was under attack. Still gagging, a blue-gray glow shimmered around his spiked paws as the Aura Pokémon tried to fight off his "attacker."

"She's helping you, you idiot!" Samus snapped.

Meta Knight, who had watched the scene of chaos unfold in his kitchen with a dull, glazed look, sighed. "This is getting ridiculous," he muttered, getting up and crossing the kitchen. He shoved Olimar out of the way, went behind Lucario, and gave the blue Pokémon a hard kick in the back.

Lucario gave one final sputter and spat out an apple that sailed over the heads of the watching crowd, hitting Sonic in the face.

"Oh, gross!" The blue hedgehog caught the half-eaten apple in his left hand. "What idiot tries to stuff it all in his mouth at once, anyway? Hey." His eyes glittered with laughter as he turned toward Peach, suddenly chuckling. "See, you're wrong about healthy food—it can kill you. You're better off eating chips and ice cream and soda..."

While Peach snorted at his assertion, Lucario was panting on the floor, both fists balled into glowing aura spheres. "Pit," Lucario panted huskily, " I get...strength"

Pit jumped back a bit, an idea suddenly coming to him. "Rule number four: 'Can't touch this'!'" he sang gleefully, doing a rather unseemly two-step in front of Lucario.

After a rather uncertain, half-amused, half-concerned silence, Meta Knight walked back in the direction of the doorless frame, glancing over his shoulder. "Can we get on with my final rule?"

Snake's eyebrows rose a fraction. "You never said what it was."

"One: I specifically said that I had to show you. Secondly, I couldn't because you all felt the need to make a detour across my spinal cord." A brief reflexive shoulder roll was followed by his spine protesting aloud at the motion. Winces followed the cracking noise. "Follow m—oh, wait." Meta Knight paused. He waved a hand first in the direction of the toppled door, then down the hallway, stating in a rather self-satisfied voice, "You'll be fixing the door and the conference room tomorrow. I almost forgot."

Olimar gulped. "But Kirby wrecked the door..."

"And you stampeded over it. See the logic?"


"Too bad," Meta Knight called over his shoulder, pacing out of the room. Shrugging and exchanging bemused looks, again the Brawl characters got up and followed their "landlord," now fully fed and contented.

They plowed after him as he made another left, leading down a long, spacious hallway with many doors on either side. Their odd procession looked eerily reminiscent of a teacher taking an elementary school field trip to a museum with exhibits of fragile, breakable things. To himself, Meta Knight sighed. It certainly felt like he was in charge of people with the mental capacity of a fifth grader.

"I had these rooms cleared out so you could all stay," the swordsman stated, coming to a standstill in front of one of the doors. "They each hold two to a room. You get to share."

"Share?" Popo repeated. His question was echoed by several of those around him. He shook his head slightly as if afraid he had misheard.

"Yep." The Star Warrior then pulled a sheaf of paper from the folds of his cloak. "And to avoid any fights over who gets which room, I fixed it out for you."

"WHAT?" came several angry cries from more than one person in the large group.

Meta Knight leveled them a look that dared them to argue. "To be fair, I arranged living quarters in advance to save time. Better get it done with than worry about you idiots arguing with each other for the next four hours over who sleeps where. On an aside, I forgot to clarify an objective I strongly support: girls together, boys together. No mixing."

"Why?" R.O.B. chirped up from the back. Many of those present gave him partly scathing, partly bemused looks. The robot looked slightly cowed. "Can't I ask a question?"

Pit's wings flicked idly as he looked the robot up and down. "Seriously? No one ever gave you 'the talk'?"

"The what?"

"Guess not." Link gave an absent scratch to the back of his mop of blonde hair. "What's there to lose?" Feeling rather proud of himself, the Ordon adolescent knelt next to R.O.B., simultaneously placing a hand on his shoulder in what he thought was a "comforting" gesture. In reality, it only filled the robot's tanks with an overwhelming sense of God-please-save-me. "All right. Let's say you have this handsome, macho guy and this drop-dead sexy girl. Or it could be two guys. Or two girls. Hell, it could be some guy and a badger for all I know—"

"Get to the point," Lucario grunted.

"…Right. Anyway," Link continued—blithely unaware of Zelda off in the background, frantically signaling for him to stop—"so say that the good-lookin' bloke asks the chic out for some drinks. They go to the local bar, drink about ten beers apiece before getting totally wasted, and then when they get back to her apartment, they—"

"Really, Link," Marth interrupted. Haughtily he crossed his arms over his navy, gold-tinged chestpiece and spared the Hylian a contemptuous look. "Can't you come up with anything more tactful?"

"Fine," Link scoffed. "You want 'more tactful'? I'll give you 'more tactful.' Bunch of prudes…" He took a deep breath and tried a different tactic, much to some of his comrades' dismay. "You see, once a month women turn into bloody, territorial creatures, prone to destroying everything in their paths—especially guys. They need to be separated from the men during this period so that they don't kill us in our sleep due to close confinement. There. The PG censored version."

Well, you had to give him points for trying. At least he got a small (read: microscopic) part of that explanation right.

Over Peach and Samus's identical protests, Marth's song-suffering sigh, and the others' varied laughter, R.O.B. made himself heard: "So all women are actually…" Here he paused, obviously trying to abridge the Triforce bearer's garble into something that he could understand. "…werewolves?"

"Sure, werewolves." Sonic rolled his eyes. "Let's go with that."

The android rotated his head to study Nana with a little more apprehension that before. "Huh. It certainly explains why human females are so obsessed with shaving. I guess werewolves need to get rid of all the excess fur."

Scarlet crept across Nana's cheeks as she tugged her pink hood down ever so subtly. Falco, with a grin so broad that it had to hurt, was making a personal recording of the conversation. It was simply too priceless to not deserve a spotlight on YouTube.

Off to the side Wolf took on a mildly insulted appearance. "Hey! There's nothing wrong with being a wolf, or having fur! You don't see me shearing my armpits anytime soon, do you?"

To his chagrin, he was ignored by the bulk of the group in favor of R.O.B.'s next question: "What about the badger?"

Link dismissed the comment with a hand wave. "Just forget about the badger. It was an example."

The gyros in his systems hummed as R.O.B. rocked back and forth, weighing the value of what Link had told him. "I…guess it makes sense, then."

"Eh, sure, why not?" Ash shrugged. "Better than telling him that a Pelipper deliveries itty-bity bots in the middle of the night."

For a second DK hesitated as he contemplated what the Pokémon Trainer had said. "Don't you mean storks?"

"No. I mean Pelippers."

"Oh for the love of…" Captain Falcon facepalmed. "R.O.B., don't you have wi-fi in your head or something?"

"Technically speaking, it's a wireless router implanted within my neural net. But, yes, I do. Why?" the robot questioned. Around him, those that had caught on either began to snicker behind their hands, or swapped uneasy looks.

"Google 'the miracle of life.'"

Gears whirred as the mechanical fighter obviously followed his instructions, his optics taking on a vacant look as he reviewed his finds. Seconds after his search R.O.B. made a sputtering noise, as if he was choking on static. "You know, I think I liked Link's explanation better. Thanks for that…enlightening video, Captain Falcon."

Said F-Zero racer smirked. "Any time."

After yet another long, drawn-out pause, Meta Knight decided to pretend that the conversation had never happened. "Now, in this room here"—he pointed to the first on his right—"will be Link and Toon Link's room."

"Him?" both snarled at the same time, rounding on each other like angry wolverines. Earlier's fight surfaced to the forefront of their minds, bringing with it the urge to unsheathe their swords and try to shish kabob each other.

Again, Meta Knight shrugged. "It made sense to me."

"Of course it did; you're a dictator!" Toon Link accused, glaring at the mask-wearing warrior. "It's all ha-ha's for you, sticking us with people we don't like. You get your jollies from watching us tear each other limb from limb."

Omitting the fact that they all willingly did that on a daily basis.

"You'll be fine," Meta Knight snapped testily. "And to make sure that you both behave," he raised his voice over both Links' complaints, "Zelda and Peach get the room right across from you both. Happy?"

"No," Toon Link answered sulkily. "How's this fair?"

The older of the two Links settled for diplomacy. "We could always duct tape our room down the center."


"Flip a coin?"

"Yeah, right."

"Rock, paper, scissors?"

"Hell no."

"How about the one who annoys me the least doesn't get shanked with Galaxia?" Meta Knight offered, promptly silencing their bickering. He continued with his roll call, pointing at the door next to both Links'. "This one is for Ash and Lucas."

"No objection here," Ash yawned, grinning at the blonde-haired boy.

Lucas returned the look, a little more shyly.

"Across from them are DK and Diddy."

Both primates beamed very yellow, badly-needed-to-be-brushed teeth at him.

"It's both Ice Climbers in the room beside theirs."

Snake raised a hand in a gesture similar to that of a kid in a classroom's.

"Yes?" Meta Knight asked.

"Why do they get to share a room?" Snake gruffly demanded.

"Brother and sister. Kin are more trustworthy that just two random people stuck in the same living space together. Never mind the mental scarring we all had to endure a minute ago," Meta Knight enunciated, slowly, as if to a small child. Snake's hand slumped back down to his side, comprehension dawning upon his 160 IQ.


"Across from Nana and Popo is Marth—"

Marth beamed, prepared to hear great words of comfort and satisfaction, until Meta Knight finished his thought "—and Lucario."

Marth's jaw fell open and smacked the floor in disbelief. "WHAT?" he roared, stomping forward until he stood face-to-face with Meta Knight at what some might call an "inappropriate distance." "Why did I get landed with the blue wombat?"

Lucario, who had accepted this news without a blink, turned a nasty shade of brick red. "Do you think I want to be stuck with some pansy pretty boy?" the Pokémon growled. His blue-black tail lashed.

The Lowell prince struck a pose. "I am not a pretty boy," he shot back. "I am the ruler of Altea, whose ancient royal family's blood flows through my veins. Why do I get stuck with a commoner?"

A loud bang! filled the hallway as Yoshi, Ike, and Olimar all crashed into the wall and fell into a sloppy pile with Marth on top, KO'd, and bleeding slightly from the corner of their mouths.

Lucario's offensive posture dropped instantly. "Damn it," he mumbled, looking highly embarrassed and contrite. Underfoot his paws shuffled across the floor. "Er... I didn't mean to lose control. Honest! I'm normally very...level-headed."

"It's nothing that can't be fixed," Ash chimed in breezily, reaching into the backpack slung over his shoulder. He then pulled out an odd-looking medicine labeled "PKMN Revive." Something about the bottle set off all sorts of warning bells in Meta Knight's head.

"Ash," he cautioned, "I really think that it would be better to use human curatives. Pokémon medicine wouldn't work on them."

"Nonsense!" Ash countered, spraying Ike on the forehead. "They'll be fine!" His maniacal grin didn't reassure Meta Knight, but hey, how could it get any worse?

By ignoring them he could instead return to assigning the next rooms going down the hallway, next to Marth and Lucario's. "This one goes to"—Meta Knight consulted his list—"Falco and Fox."

Both Star Fox troopers grinned at each other. Meta Knight continued in a would-be-calm voice: "Across from them is Pit and Mario."

"Working together again, I see?" Pit beamed. Mario returned the look, silently glad his roommate hadn't been—

"Kirby's next to your room, by the way." Meta Knight's voice interrupted his thought process.

Mr. Game and Watch jumped up. "Beep!" ("Why does he get his own room?")

Meta Knight gave a weary huff. "Do you really want to be in the same room as Kirby? Think about it."

All conscious heads turned in Kirby's wake. The pink puffball had skipped over to the vacant room and opened the door, which everyone peered into behind him. In one corner was a bunk bed with blue and white sheets and a fluffy white pillow. In the center of the room was a table with some kind of fern on it; against the wall, a wardrobe and chest with drawers; finally, in the far right-hand corner beside the bed, a smaller door that worked as a closet. A large, colorful rug was spread out over the entire floor. Considering Meta Knight's background and shady character, the room seemed very festive and out of place of the silvery blue-gray metal that was his choice of decor for the Halberd's interior.

"Everybody's room is default. They'll more or less look the same, minus whatever contraband you decided to stow on my ship," Meta Knight tacked on. At the same time Kirby started ripping bed sheets off both bunks. He hitched all the pillows, pillow cases, and blankets into the wardrobe while everybody observed, nonplused.

"What's Kirby doing?" Zelda asked bluntly.

Diddy's tail lashed back and forth in idiosyncratic thought. "It looks like he's building a nest..."

The tiny Star Warrior, finished ripping everything off his beds, now clambered into his "den" and slammed the doors to his wardrobe shut. They all heard loud snores coming from inside it.

"He sleeps and eats?" Luigi echoed in dismay. "That's all he does?"

"Yep," Meta Knight replied. "A Kirby with a full stomach means little trouble for us. Let's go."

Grudgingly they all backed out of the room and closed the door. The rest accepted their room pairings much more calmly than the last, as followed:

Samus and Jigglypuff
Captain Falcon and Luigi
Olimar and Ike
Mr. Game and Watch and Sonic
R.O.B., alone
Ness, also getting his own room
Snake and Yoshi
Meta Knight, alone ("Captain's privilege, now get off my case!" he snapped at a very upset Link.)

It was when the final pairing came up, Pikachu and Wolf, that there was very little tolerance going around.

"No." Wolf shook his head firmly and put his foot down. "I am not sharing a room with that fat, yellow beaver."

Pikachu gave him a menacing look. "Pika."

Meta Knight narrowed his yellow eyes. "This is the final room, there's nowhere else for you to stay, so you're getting this room and liking it."

Wolf banged his fist into his palm. "Objection!" he cried.

"Overruled," Meta Knight countered. "My ship, my say-so."


"Take it or leave it."

"I want a different room."

"Too bad."

"Put me with Ness."

"Maybe if there was a 'please' somewhere in there."

"Fine. Please?"


"Don't I get a say in this?"

"Definitely not."

Wolf glared. "Fine, I'll go live in the basement with Jimmy then!" he spat, kicking the wall.

"No!" came the twin protests of DK and Diddy. "Yeah, um, because there are termites down there...," DK finished lamely. "And Meta Knight said no."

"How come I'm always put with rats?" Wolf added balefully, giving Pikachu a look that bespoke his dislike.

Pikachu's ears fell back. His tail bristled. "Pikachu! Pika, pik, pikapi! Pi, pik, pika!"

"What did he say?" several demanded simultaneously.

Lucario winced. "I'd rather not say..."

"R.O.B.?" Captain Falcon turned his eyes onto the robot, who merely shook his head.

"Don't ask me to repeat what he just said." R.O.B. hesitated, then amended his prior statement: "I could just skip the twenty-some curses he now added to my vocabulary and get right to the objectors, if you'd like..."

"Let's hear the worst." Though even as Wolf said this, he looked slightly worried.

"Pikachu said that Wolf would probably convert to primitive instincts and eat him. Pikachu also said that he could go jump off the ship and drown in Rayquaza's lake before he'd allow Wolf to sleep in the same room, let alone on the same ship." R.O.B. added, as if an afterthought, "Oh, yeah: 'Your mom.'"

Wolf picked Pikachu up by the tail and glared eye-to-eye with the Electric Mouse Pokémon. "What did you say, squeakers?"

The hallway was again filled for the second time that night with a blinding flash of light that subsided very quickly. The noise that went off like a gunshot ricocheted off the walls. Pikachu, it transpired, had zapped Wolf with Thunderbolt. Still holding Pikachu by the tail, Wolf agreed, coughing out soot, "I—hack—surrender."

All of the sudden a new voice made them jump. "How long...have I been out?"

"Hey, Marth's awake!"

"So are Olimar, Yoshi, and Ike."


Outside the Halberd a swell of voices rose from the sleek metal hull of the ship. A deer that happened to be grazing on the grassy fields where the ship had been parked (The Swamp level) looked up curiously. Two more deer joined it in turn to stare at the ship.

"Dude, why does my face feel weird?"

"Excellent! The Revive worked!"

"It doesn't look like it worked..."

"Whaddaya mean, 'It doesn't look like it worked'?"

" Here's my hand mirror."

"Thanks, Pea—"

Marth's reply died slightly before taking full volume again, furious and angry at an octave loud enough to shatter glass. Several birds took flight in alarm from nearby trees as Marth screeched.


"Mine too!"

"The hell—?"

"Don't touch it; it's working! This is just an...ah, after-effect."



"Pokémon medicine apparently doesn't work on people very well..."


"Meta Knight, do you have a hazard control on this ship? It might be contagious."


"I can fix it! All I need is a Rawst Berry and a dozen Super Potions—"

"YOU'VE DESTROYED MY PRIDE AND BEAUTY—no, keep back, Ash! BACK! You're not befouling me again!"

"First comes the hair, then the skin. What next?"

"Shut up, Snake!"

"Hey, is Ike's tongue turning orange?"

"That could be a problem. Zelda, could you go into the kitchen and get some Asprin from the medicine cabinet?"

"How is that going to cure them, Meta Knight?"

"You misunderstand me. It's not for them, but me. I have a migraine..."

"Olimar's eyes shouldn't be that color..."

"I think I'm gonna be sick."

"WHO WANTS DINNER?" another voice interrupted.

It went quiet. And then—



"Jiggly, jiggly puff!"


"Yeah, thanks."

"You're just gonna leave us here?"

But nobody answered him. Shrugging, all the deer walked off into the woods, not quite sure whether all the people in that ship had escaped from the asylum or not. Tomorrow would be a busy day for life aboard the Halberd...

A/N: Did you like our first Brawl chapter? Basically, they're all going to take turns doing chores in the next chapter, when we shall fully glimpse their first day living together under one roof. Sounds fun, right?

Please R&R. Thanks!

If you didn't understand the ending, it was basically told from the deers' perspective, listening to everybody inside panicking. The next chapter will pick up directly in the morning. Expect tons of humor.

— Sam and Alex