Hello all.

Yes, I return after a break from Lucario fics, and I must say that the lack of ideas is a horrible thing – and I am glad to say, after well wishes from Shadow Blues, Souldin, lupyne and Froggiecool, I have gotten some ideas for a new fic.

Introduction is a prequel to all my other Lucario fics (yes, they are all linked), taking place even before Claustrophobia. It will be somewhat dark, I presume. And, as with other fics, titles are there for a reason.

All in all, I thank you all once again for your readership, kind reviews, criticism and support, and I hope you will have as much, if not much more fun reading this than I did writing it. Please enjoy, and reviews and feedback or criticism are always welcome!

hawk

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Introduction

Light glinted off the tiled roof. All along the Smash Mansion, a slight breeze blew gently through the empty corridors. If one followed the breeze, one would find the corridors leading to the Great Hall of the Smash Mansion, a magnificent theatre with a tall roof, with strong pillars reaching to its ceiling and intricate arches embracing its entire length. The floor was beautifully tiled and the walls were resplendent in colour and beauty. Two giant disembodied gloves, one right-hand and one left-hand glove, floated a few inches off the floor. The left-hand glove twitched incessantly, whereas the right-handed counterpart was significantly calmer, flexing strong white-gloved fingers. And at the end of Hall, there was a large gilded double-door entrance.

And now, at the double doors of the Great Hall came a soft knock. This was followed by a hesitant beep, then a couple more firm rat-tat-tats. Master Hand swivelled in his place, such that his fingers faced the doors. Enter. Crazy Hand snapped his fingers, and the double doors swung open inwards, revealing the immaculate Garden Grounds of the Smash Mansion behind. Along with the Garden, the doors also revealed another interesting character standing on the steps leading into the Hall, and this character slowly made his way into the Hall proper.

Mr. Game and Watch hesitantly walked into the Great Hall, blinking (not visibly, however) and beeping, surprised. Master Hand greeted him courteously. Mr. Game and Watch. The Monochrome Man saw Master Hand, and recognizing the glove, rang a bell in response. Please have a seat. The rest of the Smashers will be arriving shortly. The Monochrome Man followed the Hand's fingers, and realised that there were sets of chairs and long tables arranged in a style of a banquet, and so lowered himself onto a bench in his frame-by-frame animation.

He had barely sat down when there was another knock on the double doors. They swung open again, revealing an odd crew. Mario stepped across the threshold, doffing his red cap, and smiling. Luigi followed his brother, nervously clutching and twisting his green cap in his hands, then smiled nervously at Mr. Game and Watch. Following them was Princess Peach in a pink gown and Bowser, complete with his spiked shell and a small contingent of Goombas. Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Bowser. Master Hand greeted them, then signalled them to take a seat.

Immediately after, the two cheerful Ice Climbers appeared, decked out in their parkas and cleats, waving their wooden mallets happily. After them, other colourful characters entered through the doors, joining the increasingly motley crew of plumbers, royalty, foxes, children, Pokémon and others. The Smashers gathered together, eating and chatting happily about their upcoming scheduled fights and their time together in the Mansion.

After a while, dark clouds started to gather over the skies of the Smash Mansion. Just as Master Hand welcomed Captain Olimar and his Pikmin into the Hall, there was an audible crack of thunder, causing the Pikmin to scurry, scared, into the Hall behind Olimar. A second later, the clouds poured rain onto the Mansion and the Garden Grounds, and while Olimar led his Pikmin to the nearest long table, the double doors slowly swung shut by themselves. The Smashers thought nothing of it, save that they were grateful that they were in, out of the rain, and welcomed Captain Olimar to the food.

A few minutes later, however, there came a rap on the door. Master Hand hesitated, then flicked his fingers in the direction of the door. Enter. The door swung open, allowing a blast of cold wind to whirl into the Hall, some rain splattering against the tiled floor near the door. Framed in the doorway was a vaguely humanoid silhouette, although the shadow of a tail was seen. Stepping into the Hall, the newcomer became readily visible – a blue jackal-shaped creature with black-furred paws and a long blue tail, with a blue- and black-furred muzzle. From yellow torso fur protruded a silvery spike, while similar spikes were present on the forepaws.

But by far the thing that struck the other Smashers the most were his eyes. In spite of the newcomer being absolutely drenched, with water soaking into fur and dripping off the newcomer's tail and snout and the long ears, the scarlet eyes still stared deep and burned with an unnamed fire.

A thousand apologies. I have brought some of the wind and rain into your abode, the newcomer bowed. His voice was deep and rather sonorous, but was rather queer... it wasn't a physical voice, but some of the veterans recognized it as a form of telepathy. A murmur of "No, it's okay..." "That's alright..." "Poyo!" and "Who is this guy anyway?" rippled among the seated crowd. Master Hand snapped his fingers again, shutting the door and causing the water to disappear, instantly drying the newcomer's fur, then introduced the last Smasher to the rest of the crew.

Lucario. Lucario bowed stiffly.

After the Hands indicated the tables to the Aura Pokémon, Lucario sat down, his tail drooping across the bench. Lucario quietly sat down next to the spy Snake, but hardly touched a thing during the entire course of the banquet/party. Snake noticed this, and initially attributed it to the assumed inability to pick up forks and spoons, until he realised that Lucario's eyes betrayed some uneasiness and a sense of forlornness. Lucario, on the other hand, quickly realised Snake was staring at him, but apart from the occasional glance at the mercenary, Lucario chose not to interact with him.

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The party ended on a positive note for most of the Smashers, especially for Kirby, with the notable exception of Meta Knight whose precious sword was stolen by Kirby to roast marshmallows with. Lucario stood behind the group as Master Hand announced the room allocations in the Mansion, while Crazy Hand appeared to jab his fingers in the general direction of the rooms. However, after a few false starts, the Smashers realised that the twitching left glove wasn't really pointing at anything in particular after all, and disregarded his directions in finding their rooms.

...and Lucario, you're in the room next to Snake. Now, with that settled, you all are dismissed back to your rooms, and we will see you tomorrow for your Brawls. With that, Master Hand snapped his fingers before he and Crazy Hand moved to depart ahead of the Smashers, their odd forms already disappearing down the corridor. Lucario and Snake stared at each other blankly, before walking down the corridor together to find their rooms.

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Halfway down the corridor, Lucario heard Master Hand calling for him, and the blue-furred Pokémon obediently followed the glove to the empty end of the corridor. Once there, Master Hand immediately faced the Smasher, his fingers flexing and unflexing, and got straight to the point. You are not well, Master Hand stated. It wasn't a question, it was a matter-of-fact statement. Lucario paused, then bowed his head in assent.

And you are dead. Lucario started slightly, but didn't lift his head. Suddenly questions poured into his mind, as if they had been suppressed for some time and now broke like many waters from a breached dam. Lucario thought, then decided to chance it, lifting his head to meet Master Hand squarely with his eyes.

Why am I here? Where is Aaron-sama? The Hand didn't make any obvious gestures, but Lucario read from his odd Aura that the Hand was vaguely amused. Lucario had a sudden urge to bite the Hand, but resisted it, hoping that this odd entity would shed more light on the mystery.

I knew you would say that... Master Hand's voice seemed to suggest a smile. Lucario did not return it. ...and as such, I have brought you something to alleviate your discomfort. Master Hand snapped his fingers, then something started to materialised between his thumb and index fingers. There was a short burst of blue light, before the light fell away from the Hand in motes, revealing a length of wood, rimmed with a bit of metal and a glimmering stone...

Lucario's immediately raised his hackles, his fur bristling, and his telepathic voice lowered to a soft tone. He very much wanted to interrogate and yell at the Hand, but his discipline and tactical sense taught him otherwise. How did you get that? he growled softly, his voice straddling the area between a respectful tone and a dangerous hiss.

Easier than how I got you. Master Hand presented the staff to Lucario, who stared at it, unmoving. Take it. And if you so desire, I will return it for you whenever you decide you do not need it any more. Lucario hesitated, then reached out to touch the staff, as though scared that it might burn him. When it didn't, Lucario gingerly held the length of the staff, as long as Lucario himself was tall. A single wooden beam, tipped with metal on both ends, with one end containing a shimmering blue crystal encased in a metal skeleton of a sphere, with four pieces of metal resembling Lucario's Aura Filters which hung from the back of his head.

I will return it by the next Festival, Lucario mused inwardly, though he didn't realise that tears were already starting to form out of the corner of his eyes. Quickly gathering himself together, he held Sir Aaron's staff in both hands, then bowed deeply to Master Hand.

Thank you.

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The light filtered through the single window in Lucario's small room. Lucario stood, holding the staff respectfully in his paws, then lowering it and resting it slowly to the ground. Lucario himself sat cross-legged in the corner of the room, allowing his tail to curl on the ground. Out of the corner of his eye, Lucario watched the staff's crystal exhibit a complicated light show, courtesy of the light which shone into and through it.

Slowly he brought his forepaws to his temples, screwing his eyes shut, the tears forming once again in his eyes. The staff was the only physical thing which reminded him of his past life, in stark contrast to this odd new lease of life he had somehow gained in the foreign Smash Mansion. Although Lucario seriously wondered how Master Hand had obtained it, and still fumed inwardly at its theft, Lucario couldn't help but feel a little grateful that there was a little fragment of his past in his present.

Where am I? Lucario whispered silently to himself. His gaze then fell upon the staff, lying resplendent on the otherwise dull floor. The last time he saw it was when... I thought I had found you at last... but now...

Where are you?