Author's Note: As always, the characters aren't mine, but the story is. This is a definite fandom experiment—there will be a lot of angst and supernatural things going on, so this prologue is pretty much a trial run; if it's well-accepted, I'll continue it. It's mostly Hogan's Heroes now, with a few Legend of Zelda cameos, but it will eventually become a full-fledged crossover, and will be moved to the crossover section when that happens.
Lightning cracked across the black-and-red sky as Louis LeBeau crept through the forests near Hammelburg. A cold rain was falling, drenching the Frenchman as he struggled to stay out of sight. He had never thought that he would be heading back to Stalag 13 after the war—using it as a shelter and a refuge, yet, after the years he had spent there as a prisoner. But tonight, Stalag 13 was a beacon in the darkness—a new darkness that no one had been able to see coming.
It wasn't so long ago that the Unsung Heroes were on one of their normal post-war missions—investigating activities of Communist agents. But everything changed that fateful day when a sorceress, who called herself Veran, was released from a prison that had been sealing her. She was now ruling her Second Age of Shadows, as she had always desired to. She covered the skies of the world with an eternal night, claiming it her own.
The Heroes, naturally, were not going to surrender to her so easily. And LeBeau was a valuable member as he had always been—able to sneak into small spaces and keeping everyone fed and healthy. And the Heroes were aided in their quest by none other than Klink and Schultz, who had both needed help and had offered it. Klink knew that Veran would be worse than the Russian Front could've ever been, and it was Schultz's idea to use Stalag 13 again. And Hogan had agreed, ordering the tunnels re-dug and the trapdoors put back in place.
Not all of the Germans they had crossed paths with were willing to help them, of course; Hochstetter, naturally, had tried to appeal to Veran to hire him in her army. The unimpressed sorceress had laughed—and had thrown the mustachioed major into one of the cells of the dungeon of Ambi's Tower.
But the Heroes, in spite of successfully remaining hidden, had not gone without losses. Oh, they had mostly gone unscathed… if you could possibly call it that. The Colonel Hogan who was leading them was a very different Hogan than the one who had been leading them up until the sorceress's release. The colonel now severely doubted his abilities as a leader, and LeBeau knew the reason why. It was the same reason why he, Louis LeBeau, was now a shadow of his former self, sad and depressed, and it was the reason why Andrew Carter had turned quiet and cold, nevermore flashing that smile which could've lit up Veran's darkness: they had lost someone dear to them—someone irreplaceable. He had no grave or remains to commemorate him; the circumstances of his loss were bizarre and had triggered all of the events that had later occurred.
It had started out so normally… The Heroes had received an assignment in Berlin, investigating a large, mysterious amethyst; Communist agents had made a dozen failed attempts at stealing it, which had prompted the Heroes to investigate why they possibly wanted a simple gem.
As he found his way back into the tunnels, a lump welled in LeBeau's throat as the memories of that day returned. There had been no warning as they had approached the pedestal with the amethyst on it. Peter Newkirk had made a crack about how they could probably switch it for a fake, like how they had given fake diamonds that time to Major Hegel, when he had been blackmailing them. The Englishman had then proceeded to take out the jeweler's lens that he often carried with him, and had picked up the amethyst to take a closer look at it.
And that was when it had happened. The amethyst had flashed with a blinding light. And LeBeau had been forever haunted by the Englishman's scream. At first, he thought that Newkirk had yelled because of the blinding flash, but when he had asked if he was alright and had received no answer, LeBeau had realized that something was horribly wrong.
Once their sight had been restored to them, the team had looked around. And that was when they had found the sweater, jacket, and hat of an RAF uniform, devoid of the person who had been wearing it only a moment ago. All of the items that had been in Newkirk's pockets had been strewn about the floor. The Englishman had been spirited away.
Oh, they had searched for him, trying to find out where he had gone, but to no avail—he had literally vanished before their eyes, without a single trace. But as they stepped outside and saw the new red-and-black sky, it had become all too clear that something new and horrible had started—Veran's Second Age of Shadows had begun.
At first, the others had held hope that Newkirk was indeed alive; after all, he had only just vanished. It wasn't as though they had found his body. But after three years had passed since Newkirk's vanishing, there still hadn't been a sign of him—not even a sighting. What they had known had been from the mouth of an oddly-eared young man—he claimed to be something called a "Hylian," and said that he knew of the sorceress who was behind this, having fought her before. But not even he could provide them with any information as to where Newkirk could have been—he only knew that Veran had taken Newkirk for some unexplained reason.
"He's dead," Carter had said one day, hollowly. "We'd have known if he was alive. He would've contacted us somehow; he was resourceful enough to have done it." He clenched a fist.
A furious Kinch had agreed, thinking that it must have been some sort of trade that the sorceress had done—exchange Newkirk's life essence in order to have a mortal form of her own. And it gave a horrible explanation as to why Newkirk's spirit had not visited them—the darkness had indeed assimilated him.
And LeBeau, who had been in utter denial for the past three years, had to break down and agree.
The Frenchman's heart twisted at the very memory as he approached the small memorial shrine that he and the others had made for Newkirk in the tunnel. It didn't consist of much—just a couple of photographs, Newkirk's hat, the stethoscope he had used for cracking safes, and his deck of cards. Two more years had gone by since LeBeau had accepted Newkirk's death. But that did not make the pain any less intense.
"I do not know if you can hear me, Pierre," he said, kneeling before the effects. "That Hylian boy says that you might not be able to, if your spirit really has been assimilated, but I want to believe that you can…" His words were punctuated by sobs. "We are still a team, you know, but it is not the same; it will never be the same. Kinch is even more quiet than usual, le colonel has lost faith in himself as a leader because he wasn't able to save you, and André…" He shook his head. "André doesn't even smile anymore. And I… I just want to see you again."
He took the hat in his hands, holding it close to him.
"I miss you so much, mon pote." He sobbed again, hugging the hat as though it was his lost friend. "Maybe… Maybe, if we beat Veran, your spirit will be free, at least. And that means that I will see you again someday. That is the one thought keeping me going, Pierre. That is why I will not stop until this witch is defeated." He blinked back a few more tears. "I am so sorry that I wasn't able to help you. I heard you scream, and then you were gone. There should have been something I could've done to prevent it, but whatever it was, I did not do it, and I…" His words were lost as he choked out sobs. "…I can only hope that you are not suffering, wherever you are…"
LeBeau prayed with every fiber of his being that his next words would somehow reach his lost friend's ears. "I miss you, mon pote. And if you ever find a way to communicate with us, please do so."
Thunder crashed outside, but LeBeau did not hear it; he was far away—wherever his English friend was, struggling to give him a hug he could not feel.
The faraway city of Lynna was once again the capital of Veran's Second Age of Shadows. All of the shadows and darkness emitted from Ambi's Tower, where the Sorceress' throne was. Queen Ambi herself, who had been brought back to life along with Veran, was imprisoned in the dungeon of the tower that bore her name, along with the Princess Zelda of Hyrule. But the sorceress was looking for Naryu—the girl had been brought back along with the rest of Labrynna, but she had somehow escaped the island. Veran had sent minions to find her. So far, they had not succeeded, but that was only a minor frustration for the witch.
"The girl is not absolutely necessary," she said to her right-hand man, who went by the name of the Masked Shadow. "But I would still prefer that her interfering magic was locked away."
"Your frustrations are understandable, Milady," the Masked Shadow replied, his voice hauntingly soft; a trace of a Cockney accent remained, but it was almost unnoticeable—the darkness had worn it off of him. Green eyes glanced at Veran from behind the dark mask which covered his face. The man was also cloaked in a black robe. "If she aids the resistance, they could gain more power."
"But it still won't be enough," Veran assured him. "And yet… in spite of all of my minions searching for them, so many of them elude us. It's only a matter of time until they come here."
"Let them come," said the Masked Shadow. "I will strike down every one that dares to bring you 'arm."
"You would do that?" she purred, amused.
"But of course, Milady," he said. "You found me and took me in five years ago, when I show up without a single a memory or knowledge of who I was. You treated me as your son; of course I shall protect you to return the favor."
Veran smiled to herself.
"The opportunity may yet present itself," she said. "But for now, I wish for you to see how our prisoners fare. I shall require nothing else from you tonight."
"As you wish, Milady," the Masked Shadow replied. The man was lost in thought as he headed towards the tower dungeon. The only life he had ever known was that of the last five years, living here in the Tower. Often, he wondered what had happened previously in his life, and why he was not able to remember any of it. But with a new purpose in life, he didn't seem to mind much about his lost memories… except that for some unexplainable reason, something about this entire picture didn't seem right. He knew no other life, and yet, in the deepest reaches of his heart, felt as though that this was not how it should be. He forced himself to ignore the feeling; Veran had given him food and shelter, and he owed his loyalty to her and her alone. But it didn't stop those feelings from puzzling him at times.
And then there were the dreams. Every so often, he would have vague, fuzzy dreams. He did not remember the dreams specifically, but blurry bits and pieces—feelings of happiness, moments of laughter, moments of warmth and light… He forced himself to dismiss these as well; they made just as much sense as those odd feelings.
Reaching the dungeon, his green eyes leered at the prisoners behind bars, passing Hochstetter's cell, neither of them realizing that each was supposed to know who the other was. Along with Ambi in her cell was her descendant, Ralph. In the cell beside them was the green-haired Farore, Oracle of Secrets. And in the cell beside Farore was Princess Zelda. Veran had wasted no time in imprisoning the young woman whom she knew would bring her the most trouble. The Masked Shadow now hovered outside her cell, a smirk visible on his face, as the mask he wore did not cover his mouth.
"Your 'ope has not yet run out, Princess?" he asked, softly, still dropping the odd "h" whenever he spoke.
Zelda stared at him with fiery eyes.
"It shall never run out," she said. "But what about yours? It seems to have left you for the last five years."
The Masked Shadow laughed, scornfully.
"I am the most trusted advisor of Lady Veran," he said. "I've got power, and I don't need anything else."
Zelda shook her head. She sensed something about this young man from the moment she first saw him. She sensed that his true spirit was buried deep within the darkness of Veran's influence, but she was not sure if it was possible for him to break free from her influence alone.
Who are you really? she wondered.
The Masked Shadow sneered at her once more before leaving the dungeons. He reported to Veran that everything was in order, and he retreated to his chamber.
Once there, he pulled the mask from his face and removed the hood of his robe, and a head of tousled brown hair fell into place. He now pulled the robe off; he was now shirtless, but wearing the same pair of blue trousers (pockets empty) that he had been wearing the day Veran had found him. But he didn't pay attention to those; who he used to be no longer mattered, he decided, especially since he wasn't able to remember anyway.
He crossed to his bed, deciding to partake in a well-earned sleep. But as he laid his head back onto his pillow, a strange voice echoed in the back of his mind.
I miss you, mon pote. And if you ever find a way to communicate with us, please do so.
The man's eyes snapped open. What in the world was that voice? Why was he hearing it? And why was it saying those words to him? And why was he being so affected by it?
His heart was hammering in his chest as he sat up in his bed. He caught his breath, wiping the sweat from his face, and forced himself to lay back onto his pillow. He had to dismiss it as nothing—a mere product of his weary mind…
…even though that didn't seem right.