---- Broken Chains ----
He blinked until the two words etched onto his vision went away, then looked down at his hands. They were no longer covered in his own blood. The hole in the middle of his chest where King DeDeDe had caved in his ribcage with a large sledgehammer was completely healed. He was having second thoughts about his choice of opponent. It was hard to engineer a rigged battle between him and someone who actually moved at a hundredth of his speed. It probably looked completely obvious. If anyone else at all had been close enough to his own level for it to be an honourable death and gullible enough to talk into killing somebody without asking questions, he would have chosen them.
"Excuse me, sir?"
She looked up into the impassive face of a woman in a black suit with a small red line embroidered on the lapel. She wasn't a Valkyrie. Valkyries didn't wear suits. This wasn't Valhalla. Valhalla didn't have a waiting room with a coffee table and a magazine rack that had a pamphlet in it entitled 'Mummy Ran Out Of Continues'. Besides, he had been here a thousand times before, he knew very well where he was. Had Freya lied to him? Where was the beautiful armoured maiden who was supposed to take him up on a fiery chariot to eternally battle with other legendary warriors? He had definitely seen her. He had watched her stab King DeDeDe to death after he tried to grope her.
"Sonic the Hedgehog?"
"Th... that's me."
"Sonic the Hedgehog, 18, cause of death: industrial accident, continues: 2."
"In what way was this an industrial...?"
"Mr. Sonic the Hedgehog, please come with me." she said, before turning her back on Sonic and walking out of the door. Sonic sprang after her, almost tripping over his own feet in his effort to fend off the impulse to dart down the corridor faster than the speed of sound for long enough that he could follow her and find out where he was actually going. They went down a few dark corridors with red flashing lights and monitors on the walls, displaying the names of everyone on the Game Over Screen and how many continues they had left, millions upon millions of them. All the numbers made his head spin. They were higher than his highest ever recorded score. After turning a few corridors, they stopped at a glass door marked 'Department of Reincarnation'. The woman pushed the door open and Sonic followed her into the small office. Behind a door in the back, he could hear the humming of a large machine that glowed with a blue aura she could see from here.
"Are you aware that you've been selected for inclusion on the Fast Track Guaranteed Positive Reincarnation Programme?"
"Its a programme created by the Game Over Screen to minimise narrative strain caused by incomplete personal destinies." said the woman, "If you fail to achieve your destiny in one life, as long as you have two referees who can vouch for you that you made a significant attempt at achieving your destiny, you will be guaranteed a reincarnation in a more advantageous position where you will have a much better chance of achieving your destiny."
"Uh..." said Sonic, scratching his quills and fighting the urge to jump on top of the machine to see if rabbits came out of it.
"We received references from a Ms. Lenneth Valkyrie and a Ms. Silmeria Valkyrie."
"Uh..." he repeated.
"If you would just like to wait, there is currently a queue for the machine but we'll get you reincarnated as soon as possible." she said, "Is there anything in particular you want to be reincarnated as?"
"What do I want to be reincarnated as? Are you joking?" Sonic put his hands on his hips, "I want to be a hedgehog again, of course! Why would anyone ever want to be anything else except a hedgehog?"
"Very well, sir, if you insist..."
Before she could turn around to head towards the machine, he added,
"But next time I want to be a hedgehog on the winning side."
The machine's brilliant cyan flash lit up the entire corridor for a second. It made a humming noise like a scanner, surprisingly quiet for such a large machine.
At the same time, a tall, dark, powerful figure stepped out of the door of a Recycle Bin. He took one look at the struggling form he held aloft by the throat in one hand, then dropped the man into the deletory void beneath him. The man's screams lasted only half a second before he was erased, but they still brought a smile to Ganondorf's face. Then he stepped onto a moving platform and left the Bin for good.
"That'll teach you." he said in a low voice, "To kill me off in a cut scene."
With a soft whine, the platform glided over to the main entrance to the Game Over Screen, a pair of glass double doors. He fished around in his pockets for a Continue.
"And a dire cut scene it was." he added, "Bunch of amateurs..."
The light caught his attention as he walked right into it. It hurt his eyes. I must have taken a wrong turning, he thought. He was trying to get to the Continue Shop to replenish his dwindling supply. The route had never involved bright blue lights before. Suddenly curious, he poked his head around the door.
He was almost smacked in the face by the door as it was flung open and three secretaries ran out. Their flustered behaviour, their ruffled appearance and the way they talked in a tirade of panicked yells reminded Ganondorf of the chickens that were bred on the farms of Hyrule.
"... Machine's gone crazy."
"Its not just that machine. Dave from Sector B just paged me. Their entire wing is on the blink. The entire reincarnation system's gone haywire."
"Reincarnation, hm?" Ganondorf smiled as he watched them run down the corridor. Then he opened the door again and took another peek.
Yelling every swear word he knew, which covered the vocabulary of every sentient race in a medium-sized galaxy, Ganondorf ran like hell.