((note: This doesn't follow any sort of canon. I know all the Fire Emblem and Shining Force characters wouldn't be alive in the same place and time. Its just an idea I had after playing lots of Shining Force and lots of Fire Emblem and noting how similar they were in lots of ways. Don't flame me for any intentional or implied opinions of games companies, I'm just using 'diplomatic mission between Sega and Nintendo' as a convenient reason for them to be there in the first place.))

"Guardiana's a nice place." Ike conceded with a hint of a grudge.

"Sure is." his companion replied absently, his eyes staring over the horizon and his thoughts in another world. His smile was broad and genuine as he leaned on the handrail, his arms folded, gazing out at the dense forests and broad mountain peaks that made up most of the landscape of Guardiana's countryside, broken by the occasional fast-flowing river or a patch of farmland near a small village. From the mountain path, difficult to climb but worth the trek, he could see everything from Alterone to Rindo. This kind of beauty could not be appreciated without having spent as long as he had in lonely, soul-destroying exile.

"Nothing like we were told it would look."

"Wouldn't be." replied the other man in his light, pleasant voice with a broad Guardiana accent, "Lot of false information got sent over Nintendo-side. Weird stuff. I don't fight with playing cards and I'm not an amnesiac time-travelling space alien either, just so you know."

"Clever." said Ike, "Be useful in the war."

"Yeah, shame we're losing."

Not everyone would have volunteered to walk up a precariously narrow ledge on the side of a mountain with a man who was technically their enemy. Okay, so technically Guardiana's political situation was so back-stabbingly complicated that to say it was Sega territory was to vastly oversimplify the situation and get yourself garrotted by one of Climax's assassins and, equally technically, Ike would fight for the highest bidder even if their name didn't happen to always be Nintendo but still, the tension was there, an invisible force like gravity that weighed down on them oh so lightly and subtly ever since Team Fire Emblem had arrived on the boat.

Max didn't care.

Max was referred to by the rest of the Shining Force team leaders as 'Captain Loser'. It was widely considered that Max had done nothing but fail every single quest he had ever been on – he had failed to permanently seal Dark Dragon in a battle during which he had got himself forcibly teleported off the face of the continent, whereupon he re-appeared, got himself captured and brainwashed and had to be rescued by one of his tightly bound and ever growing network of former enemies turned allies. It wasn't that Max was actually incompetent. He was just as good a fighter and tactician as the rest of them. He was simply doomed to defeat. Spatula, the Goddess of Defeat, Mitula's lesser known second cousin, walked beside him and blessed him lovingly with her bounty as her one true paladin. For that reason, he was always prepared to lose at any moment. Being so prepared gave him a certain advantage once he had actually lost - he fought his way out of a corner with an almost berserk frenzy and, the few times where his enemies would actually sit down and negotiate with him, knew all his legal rights and was quite happy to spend years on end suing for peace. Which was why people sent Max on hopeless missions. Any diplomatic situation involving Ike was classified as hopeless.

Besides, Ike seemed to have taken a liking to the man. The others could tell. The Crimean mercenary had been rude to everyone else they met except Max.

The other Fire Emblem ambassadors sent over to make some kind of semblance of peace with Guardiana were busy doing their own thing. Marth had taken a boat to Odegan to visit his long lost cousin Marth. He had been very excited to finally have a chance to meet up with the relative he had only ever received letters from. Eirika and Lyn had gone souvenir shopping. They had left strict instructions that no boys were allowed under any circumstances whatsoever. Ike was highly suspicious of this as he was absolutely sure Deanna had been with them. Ephraim, Eliwood, Hector and Roy were dining with Synbios, Medion, Julian and Nick in Saraband. It was a very important diplomatic meeting and one single faux pas could result not only in even worse relations between Sega and Nintendo, but also war with Camelot and, worst of all, Climax. Nobody wanted to rouse the Sleeping Snakebird. That was why Ike had been immediately and permanently banned from the meetings on pain of death. As was Max, who might well just randomly surrender for the hell of it.

"The sun's going down." said Diggory, "This path will be suicide once night falls. We should head back now."

"Shame. The sky looks like its going to be clear tonight. I'd like to see the stars." said Ike.

Suddenly, something came bounding up the path towards them. It was smaller than Diggory but was still running with enough force to knock Diggory off the cliff. He held on for dear life and prayed to Spatula that the rail would hold his weight.

"What's up, Eliwood?" asked Ike. His friend looked like he had run here all the way from Saraband.

"Its my son," said Eliwood, "He's very ill."