Hello all.

Apologies to Shadow Blues for being a couple of months late!

Disclaimer, just to be sure. Rated for a reason – copious amount of character death and the like. I decided to add the roster of Smashers to the end of each chapter, rather than the beginning, or would you rather have it the other way around? The non-bolded ones are those which – well – won't be sleeping in their beds that night.

Of course, try to guess and spot the murderer! It's one of the Smashers within the Mansion at that time, so no odd plot devices (for example, Captain Falcon hiding in a corner with his Knee of Justice primed and ready). Let's see who gets it right!

Additional bonus: guess who dies next. The sequence's already set, the details imagined in disturbing detail, so yeah, rest assured I won't change the storyline for the sake of that, and I'm not taking any requests on who to kill, or not to kill next.

First death
Shadow Blues:
Souldin: Link

This is a separate timeline from the Days of Our Lives arc, so no continuity here. I figure it's time for a change in scenery. Still, please do enjoy this! I hope you all will enjoy it, and always welcome your reviews (and also make a guess, interaction is always gladly appreciated!) and constructive criticism!

Additionally, about the project mentioned on my profile: I have the honour of collaborating with a great writer on FF, lupyne. We'll be writing a Pokemon fanfic Smile together, although I can't exactly put a date on when it'll be published. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend you check out lupyne's ongoing work I Am Lucario, and I'm sure you'll be blown away by what you find.

So without any further ado, I wish you all a very – cheery – day –




Slash! The crowed oohed as the caped puffball struck a direct hit, the short sword gleaming in his gloved grasp. Snake tipped backwards, but recovered quickly enough to grab Meta Knight in a chokehold, the puffball struggling to break free. Eventually, the two broke apart, Snake immediately launching a Nikita missile towards the small Smasher, but Meta Knight was quicker, uppercutting Snake with a powerful hit from his sword Galaxia, launching Snake into the air.

With Meta Knight finally sending the mercenary careening off stage and off the arena boundaries, the entire crowd roared. Meta Knight stopped for a moment, quite exhausted, before bowing deeply to the crowd and sheathing his sword. Snake appeared next to him on the victory platform, gruffly extending his hand for the puffball to shake. Together, both combatants stood and faced the crowd, eliciting even more cheers and catcalls for them both.

"Impressive," murmured Snake. Meta Knight nodded. "You too," he added. As they stepped off the teleportation platform, returning back to the Smash Mansion, they were greeted by the rest of the Smashers, noisily and cheerfully celebrating. All had their share of the limelight as they excitedly talked about their matches and how agonizing close they had come to winning. And with that, the Smash Tournament drew to a close.

Master Hand and Crazy Hand greeted the Smashers on their way to the Great Hall, the two odd disembodied gloves lining the entrance like guards. Master Hand had thrown a feast in the light of the post-tournament celebration, inviting all the Smashers to participate and generally revel after a long run of arduous and difficult battles.

Crazy Hand threw stuff through walls.

As the banquet reigned on, the different Smashers mingled, knowing full well that it might be the last time they meet until the next Tournament. The adults chatted amongst themselves, holding up wine glasses and toasting each other – which did lead to some rather embarrassing instances.

"You looksh good," slurred Fox, tipping his glass drowsily, a silly grin plastered on his face. In front of him, Falco stood with a sandwich in his feathered hand, peering slightly concernedly at the intoxicated pilot. His teammate collapsed on his shoulder, chuckling inanely while leaning heavily; his tail flicking slowly from side to side. "You an' your twin brotherrr."

As the surrounding crowd laughed good-naturedly, Falco chuckled as he dragged the weakly-protesting fox away from the wine table. A quick trip to the nearby restroom and a splash of water later, and he'd have another great story to relay to the rest of the Great Fox crew.

At that thought, Falco grinned. Suddenly, heaving the heavy vulpine to the washroom became so much more worth it. "C'mon, you fleabag." Falco playfully shook his teammate's collar, the head violently ricocheting back and forth.

Fox hiccupped, slurred, then threw up on Falco's shoes.


Pikachu raised his head as some distant commotion reached him. His ears picked up someone yelling "Fox!" and something smashing, but otherwise nothing much out of the ordinary.

Perking up his ears, Pikachu stood up on tiptoe, stretching his height as far as he could manage. His short paws waved about in the air as he tried to keep his balance, but he couldn't see head or tail of his vulpine friend. Just a lot of people and various voices again.

Shrugging, the electric rodent turned back to more important issues at hand.

Concentrating, he furrowed his brow. This would require a lot of focus and mental strength. His hindpaws shifted, at the ready.

Pikachu was now perched at the very edge of one of the Hall's many high ledges. The architecture of the Hall allowed him to clamber up its many little protruding ledges, until he reached the very top ledge itself. From that, the Pokémon could almost feel a soft wind passing, ruffling his fur softly.

Ah, to be the tallest one of them all. Pikachu couldn't help but let a little smirk cross his playful face.

All of a sudden, he leaped through the air, like a bolt of lightning. Streaking through the air, he allowed gravity to take its course, accelerating him as he flung himself from the ledge. His paws reached out, the wind clawing through his fur and tail.


Link munched happily on a pastry, chatting unintelligibly with Zelda. They were enjoying themselves at this party, even with the large number of other Smashers present.

The Mario Brothers and Peach joined them in conversation, with Zelda acting as the translator for Link whenever he wanted to speak. True to herself, not long after, Princess Peach gushed about how cute Link looked together with Zelda, Zelda turning faintly pink and haltingly thanking the Mushroom Kingdom Princess.

Link paused his eating, not quite catching Peach's comment, but arched a brow questioningly at Zelda's reaction. In return, Zelda mouthed a few words in Hylian in his direction. She thinks your hat is very chic. Link grinned widely, raising his cap to Peach, elicting another round of giggles from her.

Turning her attention to the Mario brothers, Zelda politely spoke. "What do you plan to do when you get back to your Kingdom?"

Mario shrugged. "Set up a coin bank? I don't know… but I'm-a going to take-a good nap. No more a-Bowser for a while," he grinned, a faint smile across his face.

Luigi smiled good-naturedly, patting his brother on his back. "Me, I'm going to be a-little more productive," he grinned. "I'm-a getting Peach to teach me how to-a brew her famous tea," His eyes closed and his large nose sniffed the air. "Mama mia, I can smell-a it now!" Peach giggled and tried to shush Luigi, while Mario laughed and clapped his brother on the back.

Zelda was still talking to Peach when Link finished his pastry, but the Hylian hero fumbled with the last crumbs and immediately made a beeline for the table again. Zelda sighed humorously, then bid goodbye to Peach and hurried after him.

As Zelda caught up with him, so did Ganondorf. "Imp's stuffing his face again, eh, Princess?" he mocked, sneering Link, who by now had bits of food near his mouth. Link glared back at him, wiping his lips with the back of his hand and drawing his sword, even as his other picked up another delicious-looking pastry.

Zelda stepped in before a brawl could occur. "Why don't we just enjoy ourselves for once? We're at a party, after all…" Link swiveled his gaze onto her, and immediately relented. Shrugging, he sheathed his sword, while Ganondorf stepped back a step.

He felt a slight tugging sensation on his other hand, and lazily looked at it. Link's eyes widened almost immediately, with the knowledge that something somehow had gone horribly wrong.

His pastry was gone!

On the floor, looking up at him, Pikachu grinned, pastry in his paws where he had plucked it out of Link's grasp from his adventurous leap from the ledge. Biting into it with his mouth, he quickly scampered away on all fours, leaving the Hero of Time to yell and run after him, shouting something unintelligible in Hylian but probably translated to Give it back, you rodent!.

Zelda and Ganondorf stood there, mouths agape. For all the weird things that happened in the mansion, it was the first time they saw a Pokémon take a death-defying leap and expertly snatch out a piece of food from right under a Hylian's nose, and from in between his fingers.

"Did that just happen?" Zelda blinked once or twice.

Ganondorf suddenly let out a guffaw. "I've got to learn that trick from that rat."


Nevertheless, as with all Tournaments, this one had to eventually end, for good. Slowly, the Smashers as a whole filed into the teleportation room, each setting the dials for their respective universes. Close friends promised to visit each other soon, whereas acquaintances exchanged polite words but heartily agreed to spar each other when the next tournament rolled around. Unwilling to leave, the Smashers formed little groups where they continued to talk and chat and make plans, and eventually, leave.

Lucario stood at the back of the teleportation room, pressed against the wall. Not really enjoying crowds, nor really have anyone to go with, he had decided to simply wait till everyone else was gone. The Pokémon Trainer and Jigglypuff had since disappeared through the portals, but Pikachu was nowhere to be seen. He contended himself with watching people step up to the teleportation platforms, wave to the rest, then seemingly disappear into thin air.

He wasn't one for parties, although since Pikachu had urged him to come, he couldn't quite politely refuse. And anyway, at the party, he had managed to sample different sorts of foreign food – a change from his usual diet of Oran berries – and got to see Pikachu's remarkable jump-and-snatch tactic. He added that to his mental list of food-gathering techniques, and reminded himself to congratulate Pikachu.

That Pikachu's gotten much stronger, he thought.

Suddenly, a voice drifted through the noise in the room, causing Lucario's ears to twitch. Turning around, he saw the head of Falco Lombardi poking out of a group of other Smashers, beckoning him to come. "Oi! Rukario! Come over here for a minute," the avian called, gesturing with one wing. Imperceptibly shrugging his shoulders, the Aura Pokémon walked over to where the avian pilot stood.

Fox was addressing the small group, Falco by his side. Pikachu was perched near his feet, while Link and Ganondorf stood at opposite ends of the circle. As Lucario stopped and stood behind Falco, Fox nodded once in greeting before continuing.

"… so, Falco thought we should meet up soon and organize some spars. You guys okay with that?" Pikachu happily exclaimed something, while Link nodded happily. Ganondorf, on the other hand, put a palm to his face and muttered something under his breath.

"… how do I get dragged into these things?"

As they were laughing at the King of Evil's exasperation, Lucario couldn't help but notice something didn't feel quite right. Before he could voice that out, there was a dull boom, the lights flickering and going out, the lights above the teleporters dimming down.

There was a short silence, before the remaining Smashers in the room starting to yell and scramble around. The mob was finally quelled when the two Star Fox pilots pulled light-emitting batons from their flight jackets and started waving them around like exasperated air traffic controllers, yelling for people to remain calm. Meanwhile, some Smashers had found the door, allowing light to flood into the now-dark teleportation room, the rest jostling to get out.

"What was that?" grumbled Ganondorf as he shoved Link forward, out of the door. At least grateful to be out of the room, the Hero of Time grunted and stepped aside to allow the rest of the Smashers to exit. In addition to the group he was in, the young Hylian noted that Peach and Luigi were also following them out. Apparently, they hadn't managed to get through before the power cut, although Mario did. Fox and Falco stumbled through next, still brandishing their light batons.

Pikachu, who was following the Mario brother and Peach, piped up. "Pii, pika! Pika –" As Pikachu was still speaking, Peach turned to Lucario, who was calmly following behind the entire mad procession. "Could you please tell us what he's talking about?"

Lucario hesitated for a moment, then bowed. Certainly, Princess. Scrutinizing Pikachu for a moment, Lucario responded. He's suggesting that we go to the Smash Lounge, and ask the Hands to make reparations to the teleporters.

"An excellent idea," muttered Ganondorf, rounding the corner. As it so happens, at that exact moment, the giant figure of Crazy Hand did the exact same thing, colliding squarely with the King of Evil and sending the Gerudo spinning backwards for a good distance.

After they had carefully, slowly, and painfully explained the happenings at the teleporter room, and could Master Hand please do something about it, Crazy Hand nodded his fingers vigorously in what could possibly be interpreted as comprehension. Laughing in his eerie, high-pitched tone, the Hand quickly sped off and disappeared past another corner, presumably to find his right-handed, and more sane counterpart.


"Pi, pika pika, pikachu! Chu, Pikachu, chaa –" Pikachu was in the midst of retelling something epic to Fox and Falco, both sunken into beanbags on either side of the rodent Pokémon. Pikachu himself was happily telling his story, wildly waving his little paws and every once in a while jumping or having sparks fly from his cheeks to make his point.

After Crazy Hand had floated away, the Smashers had decided to spend the rest of their time in the Smash Lounge. The Lounge was a convenient, large room situated in the heart of the Mansion, with windows overlooking the Gardens, but had enough room to entertain the entire Brawl roster. Now that only a few remained, the Lounge clearly was more than enough.

Fox sat through this display, occasionally murmuring and nodding his head. "Oh. Oh. Really! You don't say…" Pikachu enthusiastically nodded in return, punctuating the end of his sentence with a high-energy "Pika!" Falco looked on, a small smile playing on his beak, head propped up between his wings, gazing from the Pokémon to his vulpine teammate and back again.

Once Pikachu had finished, he jumped onto Fox's open lap and nuzzled his cheek into Fox's flight jacket. The vulpine, in return, lightly ruffled the fur on Pikachu's head. Falco cocked his head, then leaned back in his seat, chuckling. "He likes ya," he commented amusedly. "Ya two make the cutest couple."

Fox abruptly stopped ruffling Pikachu's head and turned to stare directly at Falco. With a straight face, Fox confessed: "To be honest, I have no idea what he was talking about."

There was a short pause, Pikachu looking up to the Starfox pilot for a second or two. Then, the Pokémon playfully zapped the vulpine, Fox gawking and gagging in surprise, causing Falco to burst out in a chortle.

Lucario had allowed himself a small smile at the pilots' antics, but sat away from them, perched on a stool in the corner of the lounge. Fox noticed this, and hailed Lucario to come over. Pikachu peered from beyond Fox's shoulder, and catching sight of Lucario, immediately launched himself off Fox's lap (getting an oof from the pilot), and hurried over to where Lucario was seated, raising his forepaws up, as a child would when asking to be picked up.

Obliging, Lucario got off his stool and knelt in front of the mouse Pokémon, ruffling the top of his head with a black-furred forepaw. Pikachu leapt onto his shoulder and started chattering into his ear, grasping onto Lucario's thin neck for support. Suddenly, Lucario grimaced, forcibly plucking the smaller Pokémon off his shoulders and holding him with both forepaws at arm's-length, scrutinizing him.

You are heavier, chided Lucario, but there was a twinkle in his eyes. Maybe you should not have stolen Link's share of food. Pikachu squirmed in Lucario's grasp, weakly emitting a "Chaaa –" of protest, while the Star Fox pilots broke out into laughter.


After ten minutes in the Lounge and watching Fox, Falco and Pikachu entertain themselves, Ganondorf declared enough was enough, threw down the tome he was reading with a thud and stormed out of the Lounge. Link watched him go, shrugged, then turned back to Luigi and Peach, sipping the cup of tea Peach offered him. Luigi, on the other hand, downed his cup of tea and set it down in front of him, politely asking Peach for a refill.

Although what he said earlier to Pikachu was just a rare joke, Lucario did feel that he had lagged behind in terms of training, once he was ousted from the competition. Absentmindedly ruffling Pikachu's head, Lucario found more than once his thoughts drifting to his training regimen, especially when Pikachu had to resort to electric shocks to bring the Pokémon back to earth more than once.

"Hey, Rukario," Fox called.

Lucario stared into space, paw on Pikachu's head.

Pikachu sighed exasperatedly. A small electric current crackled through its body, running up Lucario's long forepaw, shocking him back to earth. Yelping softly underneath his breath, Lucario snatched away his paw.

Yes? "You okay?" Falco chipped in. Lucario stretched slightly, then massaged the back of his head with the same paw. Unknown to him, the residual static electricity made half of his fur stand on end. He tried to smoothen it down, but all he did was to make it worse. Pikachu chuckled.

Lucario shrugged imperceptibly, nodding towards the pilots. Yes… but I think I'll be going first.

Politely excusing himself, Lucario left the group of Fox, Falco and Pikachu behind and exited the room, padding down the Mansion corridors until he reached the training rooms.

The rooms were a set of wooden affairs, decked out with nothing more than a Sandbag and some basic ledges for jumping practices. Altogether, they weren't very large rooms, but they suited his purpose. Still nursing a paw throbbing from Pikachu's multiple electric attacks, Lucario pushed open a wooden door.

That kid has grown stronger, he thought. A small smile crept onto the edge of his jaw.

Pushing that thought aside for the moment, the jackal-shaped Pokémon stretched his limbs, then started up his training. Noting the numerous equipments in the room, he decided to give his Aura training a break, opting instead to build up his physical ability.

Most Lucario were unable to separate their Aura from their physical prowess, having it in-built into them as one of their species. However, through long months of practice, Lucario had successfully developed such a technique. It involved the conscious shutdown of his Aura-sensing abilities, if only to be more aware of his physical surroundings.

The fear that had crept into him as he begun slowly dwindled away. Fear of separation from the Aura was natural to his species, of course; but Lucario shoved the feeling aside, wringing his paws in preparation for the training session ahead.

In twenty minutes, he had worked up a sweat, almost a given since the room was extremely warm, plus he was keeping himself very agile. A paw here, and hindpaw there, and that particular Sandbag in the room was continually being abused by a flurry of pummels and punches.

In between the soft thump thumps of paws on Sandbag, the sounds of other Smashers walking by also echoed softly in the room. Lucario took no notice of this, until a creaking sound indicated that the door to the room had been quickly swung open. Assuming it was someone who accidentally opened the wrong door, Lucario took no notice of it – until a soft screeching sound caused him to halt in mid-pummel and turn his head.

What he saw was a glowing red Bob-omb grating across the floor towards him.


The explosion rocked the Mansion, those in the Lounge immediately sitting upright, rubbing sleep from their eyes. There was silence for a second or two, before the shout of "Fire!" Immediately, the Smashers scrambled to their feet, slowly and cautiously making their way out of the Lounge.

As the training rooms were not far from the Lounge, it was easy to see what was on fire. One of the training rooms was blackened and burnt, the door blown clear off its hinges and lay a-smoldering in the corridor. From within the room fire raged, emitting angry bursts of red and crimson out of where the door used to stand.

Pikachu had quickly ran to the scene and had reached there beforehand, and was now slowly backing away from the monstrous fire, whimpering softly with each small step. Luigi and Ganondorf had arrived from the opposite side, and were now staring at the burning wreckage with his mouth agape. Falco had earlier abandoned Fox to sleep in the Lounge, but he himself was now standing outside and wringing his wings, trying to form a coherent sentence.

Peach's small voice broke the eerie crackling sound of the fire. "Why would –" Attempted murder. The Smashers had a collective heart attack as Lucario appeared out of the shadows, attempting to douse the fire with a bucket of water he'd gathered from a nearby room. Peach's hands flew to her mouth in surprise; Pikachu fell over backwards; Falco grasped his chest, gawking for air; while Ganondorf looked at him incredulously, eyes wide. All other Smashers gasped and stared and involuntary took a step back.

"Don't do that again." wheezed Falco.

Luigi stumbled backwards, fiddling with something in his pockets. A second later, he shouted something triumphant in Italian, bringing out a green version of F.L.U.D.D., spewing water from its tip. Aiming the nozzle at the fire, it took a few tries to aim it right, but eventually the burning fire was extinguished, even if the rest of the Smashers had a little exposure to the wrong end of the machine.


It was a more subdued group of Smashers who met again in the Lounge. The jovial atmosphere was significantly dampened, and now many of the Smashers eyed each other with suspicion and fear.

"We gotta be more careful, y'all," muttered Falco dismissively, obviously trying to put on a show of bravado. However, there was no mistaking it – the pilot had gone a little paler under his feathers, now tinged a slightly lighter blue tone.

"Hey, lighten up." Fox lightly gripped the falcon around the shoulders. "S'long as we stick together, we'll be fine, I suppose."

Falco chortled half-heartedly. "Yeah, right… you and your stickin' together… Haven't you watched enough of those horror shows? The most handsome guy goes first! That's me!"

"Well, I didn't see an attempt on your life."

Thank you. Lucario nodded dryly. May we please get back to the matter of my attempted murder?

"Right – I'm serious, though," Fox maintained, through the strains of awkward laughter. "If we stick together, chances are the better that the murderer will be less likely to act. I think…"

"Bah." Ganondorf waved a hand. "If you think I'm going to be stuck in the same room with that twit of an elf for the rest of the day, you're gravely mistaken," Link glared at him, hand already on Master Sword's scabbard.

Peach hastily brought the dispute to an abrupt end. "Tea?" she hastily interjected. "I'm brewing a new batch right now, it should be done about teatime; but until then I've got some left over from yesterday, because Zelda decided that she wanted to try some of Samus' Metroid-flavoured juice, but personally I don't think that'll taste half as nice as this, though that princess always wants to try everything that she thinks – Who wants tea?"

There was a pause.

Luigi piped up. "I'll-a have some!" Pikachu nodded his assent, pattering behind the Italian as they left the room. Link glared at Ganondorf before trudging off to the pantry with them.


After he left the Star Fox pilots in the Lounge and Ganondorf in his room, he slowly headed out to search the rest of the expansive Mansion. During his official stay here as a Brawler, he didn't manage to see much of it, being involved in Brawls and training and all, and furthermore his strict training regimen prevented him from taking some time off even. But now, he was reminded of how little training space there was in the Mansion.

By now, he had decided to do some meditation instead. As his room was relatively close to the now-destroyed Training Rooms themselves, he naturally ruled it out.

The Training Rooms were now out of bounds, for obvious reasons. The Sandbag Room was currently closed, the other Sandbags kept and stored away, presumably by the Hands. He had tried going onto the roof, but the constant loud clacking of tiles by the wind would render him deaf in a matter of minutes. Exiting the ladder to the roof, he resumed wandering about for the time being.

As he walked past the corridors, it was a good while before an idea suddenly occurred to him.

A short while later, Lucario pushed open the main doors to the Smash Mansion, taking in the sight of the Garden Grounds outside. Lush greenery and a carpet of luscious green grass greeted the Pokémon, while nearby tall trees whistled softly in the wind, swaying gently back and forth. With a low hm, Lucario let the door swing close by itself, padding down the steps of the Mansion.

Walking a short distance away from the Mansion, he found a small patch of grass where he could sit. Cross-legged, Lucario settled into position for his meditation. He would allow himself to discern any Aura which approached him within a certain radius – to prevent any more assassination attempts – and his slightly secluded position from the Mansion proper made it the perfect spot for him.

Brushing those thoughts aside, Lucario closed his eyes and rested his forepaws on his lap, and allowed his mind to clear.

He may have just been through an assassination attempt, but he had survived it. For the first time in his entire life, he had felt the feeling of relief wash through him, flooding his entire being. He stretched out his limbs, enjoying the feeling rushing through them.

Similar to the earlier training method, the flow of Aura from his sensory organs was consciously blocked off. In his mind's eye, everything was traced out in a vibrant shade of blue, but, as his Aura abilities slowly began to die down, the tracings began to uncurl and dissipate into nothingness. Slowly diminishing and disappearing; dying until bluish swirls and patterns gradually became a comforting, solid, black.

He breathed out, a slow, long sigh.

A soft wind rustled through the Garden, picking up some leaves and brushing them lightly against Lucario's blue fur. The Pokémon didn't stir, but the edges of his jaws curved up a little in a rare smile.

It was good to be alive.

The worries and cares of the world seemed to fall away for a second there, and for a moment all was peaceful silence.





… for about five minutes.

A slight sense of uneasiness stirred up in the edge of Lucario's consciousness. A small crack appeared in the blackness.

The more he tried to ignore it, the more the uneasiness gnawed at his mind, so much so that the Aura Pokémon winced. Lucario hesitated for a second, then sighed inwardly. This was going to ruin his meditation.

The Aura Filters at the back of his head rose into the air. The perfect black he saw broke, now quickly filling in with bursts of blue, like a master artist sketching out the scene before him. He discerned the general Auras of Smashers within the Mansion, quite content but with a slight taste of fear – some more so than the others, he noted. No birds, dangerous animals or the like around him. All seemed to be well.

Allowing his vision to sweep over the Mansion one last time, Lucario suddenly noticed a slight Aura on the edge of his vision. It was far away, on the other side of the Mansion, blocked all around by the Auras of the other Smashers in between, but that particular person seemed quite different.

It was certainly one of the Smashers, although Lucario couldn't quite place a paw on the exact identity. The reason was the massive amounts of guilt and shame – and fear – emanating from that individual, drowning out the signature of the person and distorting Lucario's reading of the Auras around him. Strange, Lucario murmured –

– his eyes suddenly snapped open and he dove out of the way.

With a telltale streak of a sniper shot, a bullet whizzed past, through the space that had been occupied by Lucario's head a mere instant ago. However, it was not a complete miss – in Lucario's attempted roll, the speeding bullet grazed the top of Lucario's shoulder, ripping off tufts of blue fur. Worse still, the bullet penetrated two of Lucario's Aura Filters, sending Lucario spinning face-first into the grass and his vision into alarming shades of red.


Lucario choked out, his voice garbled and guttural. Clutching his bleeding shoulder with his other paw, he staggered to his feet, feeling a fresh jolt of pain to his head with each movement. Glaring at the distant sniper, he started to run back towards to Mansion doors, barking out a curt warning to the rest of the inhabitants. A sniper!

It was unfortunately an uphill task. With his shoulder injured, Lucario's entire right forepaw could hardly be moved without considerable pain. Furthermore, the damage dealt to his Aura Filters caused his vision to switch intermittently between Aura-washed blue and blood-splattered crimson, as if his eyes themselves had received the sniper's attack.

On instinct, Lucario clutched his eyes in his good paw and leapt to the side with a bound of his powerful hindpaws. Hopefully the sniper wouldn't be able to get in another shot.

Already his vision was blurring, Lucario stumbling in his flight towards the door, his Aura Filters slamming painfully in to the back of his head and painting it with a fresh coat of crimson.

Another sound. At that precise moment, Lucario's eyes darted to that far corner of the Mansion, realizing another bullet was rifling through the air already, with him marked as the target. It was an expert marksman to reload and aim so quickly – and for him to reach the Mansion, there was only one route which he could take – which rendered him practically a sitting duck for the unseen sniper.

Halfway through the air, the shot entered Lucario's hip, shattering the hipbone and caused the Aura Pokémon to howl, landing – or rather, crashing – ungracefully on the Mansion's steps, audibly hearing something crack. Attempting to pull himself up with his forepaws, he found his right forepaw buckling under the pain from his shoulder blade, and his hindpaws rendered utterly and completely useless.

His vision had disintegrated into shattered facets, some through normal vision, some washed blue with Aura, and some eerily splattered red – just like looking through a fantastical colored broken mirror. Reaching his left forepaw shakily forward, he saw the Mansion doors were in sight – so close, yet so far –

His Aura Filters had been achingly suspended in the air for the entire duration of his fantastic flight from his meditation, and now he willed them to perform one last task. If he didn't make it back, at least they'd know who did it.

A jagged image of the assailant's distant Aura materialized once again in Lucario's mind, the Pokémon frantically racking his brain for his identity. As he continued to drag himself up the stairs with his one good paw, he couldn't help but notice the enormous amounts of sorrow, guilt and shame emanating from –

Suddenly, as if the pieces of the Aura puzzle had finally fallen into the correct position, the answer came in a blazing revelation. He was a blind fool not to see the signs before, but now it made perfect sense.

Instinct took over, and despite Rationality's dying crying warning wail, Lucario turned his head to face the direction of his assailant. His physical eyes widened in shock.



Fox. Falco. Ganondorf. Link. Lucario. Luigi. Peach. Pikachu.