(walks in to thunderous applause)

Wow. I guess my series has gotten pretty popular, huh?

I'd like to make a few things clear before starting. First off, this isn't like the first two Smash Minds. It's in the same style and the same universe, but that's about it. This story will be a series of interconnecting oneshots focusing on a few characters at a time. This has its advantages and disadvantages. The adavantages are that I get to go into more detail, and have actual plots. The disadvantages are that I can't churn chapters out as quickly as I could before. No more daily updates, I'm afraid. I'll try to update as often as I can, but between long chapters, a full day comedy class for the next two weeks, and my family's impending move, chapters could be pretty far apart.

Now that that's done, welcome to Smash Mind: Prologues!

On with the fic!

Smash Mind: Prologues

-Mario and Kirby-

No Place Called Home

A dull murmur was heard throughout the tunnels. Mario recognized it as the crowd, impatient for the match to start. He increased his pace, his shoes clacking against the stone flooring. As he walked, Mario's mind drifted back over his long record at the Midair Stadium. It was a prestigious place, and he'd fought hard to get in. Only the best fighters were allowed, and the lodging was absolutely extravagant. As a result, there was always fierce competition to gain entry to the Stadium. Mario recalled his own qualifying match, where he'd fought tooth and nail to win. He cringed slightly at the memory of repeatedly smashing Link's face into a wall. Not my proudest moment, he thought ruefully.

Where's that entrance? Mario wondered, tapping his foot. I need to get topside as soon as I can. The match is about to begin!

Turning a corner, Mario was almost blinded by a bright light coming from the tunnel in front of him. Squinting through the glare, he recognized the outside of the stadium. I've found it!

He strode forward, but stopped upon hearing a snuffling sound off to his right. Going over to investigate, Mario discovered Kirby slumped forlornly against a wall, feebly poking at the ground with a stick and looking sad.

"Kirby?" Mario's brow wrinkled. "Aren't you supposed to be facing me right now in the match?"

Kirby shrugged slightly, not turning to look at Mario.

Mario bent down next to Kirby, examining the markings that Kirby had scratched into the stone. "What's this?"

Kirby shuffled aside, allowing Mario to take a look at what he had crudely engraved.

The markings were simplistic and messy, but the picture they formed was clear. A large star formed the center, with several small round creatures dancing around it. The top of the picture featured a similar being with wings and a sword. Near the bottom, a large round thing was facing a grinning blob holding a hammer.

Mario drew back, understanding dawning in his eyes. "That's Pop Star. You miss your home, don't you?"

"Poyo…" Kirby said sadly, nodding.

"I know how you feel," Mario said sympathetically, patting Kirby on the head. "All this fighting…all these battles…it's almost made me forget that I've only ever really felt happy in the Mushroom Kingdom. My friends are all here, so it isn't so bad. But you…" Mario trailed off, his eyes going wide. "Oh, Kirby. You barely have anyone. Meta Knight can hardly even be counted as an ally…You must be so lonely."

A tear trickled down Kirby's face.

"Having a great place to live never matches your real home. I'm surprised we haven't all gone crazy," Mario said, his voice tinged with bitterness. "There are times when I want to run as fast as I can to the Mushroom Kingdom and just start flattening some Goombas. But I can't! None of us can leave and it isn't fair!" he yelled, slamming his fist into the wall.

"Poyo," Kirby nodded, agreement written all over his face.

"It isn't right! We had lives before this! They don't have the right to take us and let everything fall apart back home! If they hadn't taken Bowser as well, the entire kingdom would've been burned to the ground by now," Mario said angrily.

"Poyo! Poyo poyo!" Kirby piped up, tugging on Mario's sleeve and pointing insistently at his sketch.

Mario glanced over. "What is it? What are you trying to tell me?"

"Poyo poyo poyo!" Kirby said insistently, repeatedly pointing to the drawing and then back to him.

Mario stared for awhile, his expression blank. "That's right," he said slowly, "I forgot. I wasn't taken. None of us were. We were created here."

"Poyo…" Kirby said, his voice sorrowful.

"If I did go back, there would already be a Mario there," Mario said softly, staring at his hands. "These memories the Hands gave us…they feel so real…it makes me forget I'm just a copy. But I am just a fake…and I'll always be one. So will you. So will all of us."

Kirby sighed, lowering his eyes to the ground.

"We're freaks of nature," Mario said sadly, sitting down next to Kirby. "As much as I hate to admit it, this is our home…even though every bone in my body tells me otherwise."

Mario chuckled softly. "Now I know what they mean when they say you can't go home again."

He turned to look at Kirby. "Our entire lives are pointless."

Kirby nodded, his face stained with tears.

Mario gave Kirby a comforting squeeze. "What do you say we go out there and do what we were made for?"

There was a pause.

At last, Kirby looked back up at Mario and nodded, giving a small smile.

Both of them got up, heading towards the entrance to the stadium. Just before reaching the threshold, Mario stopped and turned to look at Kirby.

"See you out there, fellow Smasher," Mario said, tipping his hat.

"Poyo." Kirby nodded.

And so, the two stepped forth, heading into a world that was alien to them but still felt like home.

Argh, short again. Damn me and my ability to get to the point so quickly!

Writing this chapter gave me a serious case of deja vu. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something told me this theme had already been touched upon. Has this been done before, by me or someone else?

No Next Times here. Even I haven't decided what to do for the next chapter. (I do have ideas, I just don't know what order to put them in.)