THE

LEAGUE

OF

LEGENDS

OR

The Extraordinary Adventures of Eight Heroes on Planet Nintendo and Their Fight Against Villainy and Corruption

Vol. 2

Jonathan S. Cromie

The plains and pastures of the continent/country of Hyrule are lush and green. Their flora ripples in the breeze like small waves on a verdant ocean, its fish being farm workers with their cart horses, rock-spitting octopuses and green goblins hobbling through the waves, swinging their clubs aggressively at rodent-plankton. These rodents are the size of small ponies and built like brown furry body-builders, so maybe the simile should have ceased before that point, but the principle of an environment containing a thriving and varied ecosystem stands.

This has not changed over the year before this volume starts. When a group of people with undeniably despicable motives, each of whom would make Stalin look like a cuddly moustachioed teddy bear, take over the planet, and especially when the man who is effectively their leader is a homicidal warlock, convention states that all that was once grassland should become barren terrain where nothing may grow apart from some straggly poisonous toadstools. Ganondorf Dragmire, however, had been brought up in the desert, pining for the greenery of central Hyrule, and now that he was in power he was not going to get rid of it for the sake of image. In fact, he encouraged the agricultural workers with grants taken from the pockets of those who were no longer in any state to use their finances (usually because they had been "dealt with"), so if possible the fields on either side of the country road down which the round beige vehicle now swept were flourishing more than before the reign of the League of Villains Extraordinaire.

Whatever the grasses may have thought of the LOVE's rule, the rest of the planet was suffering from the oppression, lack of privacy and disappearances that are the inevitable results of the rule of any cruel authoritarian society, and it was for this reason that the ragtag band now seated within the beige hovercar were working to… sorry, had been working to bring down the LOVE. For now, they were satisfied with bringing down the force field that had been around the planet, and were heading off on a further unrelated quest while they waited for IPAF (the InterPlanetary Assistance Force) to swoop in and…

I see those exasperated looks. Chances are, you are reading this after the first volume (if not, you're missing out) and already know all this drivel, and are thinking, "Heavens above, when is this berk going to finish enjoying the sight of his own typing and get onto the plot?" I feel for you, which is why I will make the introduction to the contents of the vehicle brief and (if possible) entertaining, and then plough straight on with some actual events. So, without further ado…

The car currently housed seven beings. The teenager dressed in an angel costume who was being allowed to pilot the craft, and doing it surprisingly well, was Pit, a former member of the goddess Palutena's bodyguard and a fan of heavy depressing metal. His black gelled hair was offset by the fact that he had not yet recovered from the joy of travelling with a bunch of heroes and heroines, with the result that he now gave the appearance of enjoying himself every so often.

The burly man who watched his driving with a despairing look was Captain Falcon, a many-time champion in the F-Zero Grand Prix who (as everyone knew) had a two-track mind. These two tracks were women and fast vehicles, and if the two could possibly overlap so much the better. His own two vehicles were currently AWoL, which was a constant cause for concern.

On the seats behind them sat two princesses, featuring large blue eyes and skin so pale you could stick some penguins in it and call it snow. The one with the sharp nose and ears, whose eyes were closed and hands were clasped in silent prayer, was Zelda, ousted ruler of Hyrule, magician and occasional blue-garbed ninja. She was praying to the Hylian goddesses, an activity she performed so often and with such vigour that it was somewhat frustrating to the others.

Her neighbour was Princess Peach, former despot of the Mushroom Kingdom and love interest of the current one, Bowser Koopa. She was simultaneously engaged in trying to make her filthy skirt look presentable, sneering contemptuously at her companion's religion and surveying intently the muscle-bound form of the racer in front of her.

He who sat next to her belonged to a peaceful race of big-nosed dinosaurs called Yoshis. This one was green, the chief of all the Yoshis and unimaginatively named Yoshi. He was looking balefully out of the window at the passing countryside, while his stomach reminded him with loud rumblings how long it was since his long elastic tongue had wrapped its way around anything edible.

In the back row sat a fat, smelly man with a nose that looked like a scarlet berry and an angry thunderbolt of a moustache. He was Wario, an ex-member of the LOVE who before that had been a highly successful businessman and who still was a coward with questionable personal hygiene; this was true to such an extent that most of the others refused to sit next to him.

The only one who would was Meta Knight, another ex-LOVE member who resembled a metal disc with angry eyes, stubby limbs and a cape. He kept himself to himself, partly because he was occupied in constantly regretting his past, and partly because his voice was deep enough to set off earthquakes, making every sentence embarrassing for him. His job was to poke Wario with his sword if the big man made any inappropriate comments.

That takes care of the seven in the car, who together with the eighth running alongside made up what was unofficially named the League of Legends. The final member was the fastest blue hedgehog alive (indeed, possibly the only blue hedgehog alive), Sonic of the planet Mobius. Sent to Nintendo by the IPAF to search for their previous operative, Solid Snake of the planet Terra, he had not only found Snake but had been instrumental in destroying the barrier around the planet, and was now dragging his new-found friends off in search of something that should not exist. Yes – he was dragging along a car that could travel at upwards of 300 kph.

The black and red figure, looking similar to him and currently cruising towards Hyrule in a small pod, is not a member of the LOL. We will come to him later. Now, some actual events.

o o o

Or rather, "Then, some actual events." Bear with me as we jump to someone and somewhere completely different – specifically, the Koopa Kingdom, slightly over a year ago. Very specifically, the former castle of the Koopa King Bowser, lord of his tortoise-like subjects and their barren volcanic nation, one year and twenty-four days ago. Looking at the rocky infertile plains of the Koopa Kingdom, not to mention its perpetual cloud cover and lakes of bubbling lava, it was not hard to see why the Koopas might want to acquire the green, pleasant and above all wealthy nation of the Mushroom Kingdom for Lebensraum, and Bowser was trying to do just that.

He racked his brains and paced around his beige-carpeted room, his heavy feet making the stonework shake slightly. He ran his clawed hands through his orange mane, scratched his horns and expelled small jets of flame from his nostrils. None of this helped to jog his mental activity.

The large tortoise-beast stopped near his window and looked out at the sun's rays, cheekily peeping over the horizon and through the thick clouds. Goddamnit. He had been thinking all night and come up with nothing. The large Koopa slumped, miserable, into his armchair, the spikes on his shell fitting neatly into the slots in the back.

What was the point anyway? Every plan he ever came up with was thwarted by that git Mario. The red-suited plumber and his brother Luigi had successfully thrown a plunger into every one of his schemes for taking over the Mushroom Kingdom, with the result that they got the kisses from Princess Peach while he was left chewing on the stale bread of defeat.

Bowser let out a long, exasperated sigh, which manifested itself as a flame and burnt a pen rack (a present from one of his eight children) to a crisp. He barely noticed it blazing merrily.

Three sharp raps rung out. Bowser lazily turned his heavy head to face the large red door.

"Come in, Kammy."

The old turtle in a purple robe scurried in, looking hopefully at her master's face for a sign of approval. Bowser could not stand the enthusiasm that radiated from the decrepit creature. He had hoped that two weeks of being his full time aide would stamp it out, but as of yet she still seemed to love her job.

"Good morning, your Earlyness!" she croaked.

Bowser redirected his gaze out of the window. He had forgotten how early it was.

"How dare you disturb me at this hour in the morning?" he yelled, flames erupting from his jaws. It was important to keep her on her toes.

Kammy jumped back in terror. "My apologies, your Crankyness, but there is a large green goblin in the front hall of your castle who wishes to speak to you!"

"How dare he disturb me at this hour in the morning?" roared the large Koopa. "What does he want?"

"He says it's for your ears only, oh Lord Bowser. That he comes from Lord Dragmire."

Bowser's red eyes widened.

"Dragmire? What could that old scoundrel possibly…"

"Shall I find out, my lord?"

"No, just bring him into the throne room. And be quick about it!"

Kammy scuttled out sideways, crab-like, leaving Bowser to don his black spiky bracelets, anklets and collar in a slightly apprehensive manner. It was not that he disliked Ganondorf; it was that he hated him with a passion. Granted, the man was about as successful a villain as he (and by extension a soggy biscuit) was, but he was taken seriously. Despite being thumped again and again by "Hero of Time" Link, the denizens of Hyrule were still afraid of the dark wizard. The mushroom-esque Toads of the Mushroom Kingdom were more afraid of the houseflies staging a coup than of Bowser.

If the green man had wanted to take over the Koopa Kingdom (and why would he?), he would have charged first and engaged in diplomacy later. Thus the only possible reason for sending an ambassador was genuine desire to talk. They were thoughts such as these that buzzed around Bowser's brain like so many furious hornets as the orange tortoise-dragon made his way to the throne room.

The messenger stood before the throne, his unintelligent piggy eyes following Bowser as the Koopa walked up to the spiky iron chair and eased himself into it. The being before him was green and overweight, with massive horns erupting from his head. He grunted in a porcine fashion as he knelt. Ganondorf liked his minions to be all brawn, no brains. There was less infighting that way.

"Lord Koopa," grunted the troll, "Ganondorf Dragmire sends his regards."

"Whoopee," replied Bowser.

"I have a message for you from him," said the troll, standing up with a little difficulty and extending a hand in which a scroll was held. "It is apparently of the utmost importance."

Bowser took the scroll impatiently and scanned his eyes down it. It read as follows:

"Dear King Bowser Koopa,

I trust that this message finds you in the best of health. I realise that relations have not always been as cordial between the two of us as they might have been, and I wish to remedy this situation by offering you a great power, the likes of which you can only dream of. If you wish to finally conquer the Mushroom Kingdom with minimal effort on your part, meet me at the coordinates below at 1300h tomorrow. Bring some backup if you do not trust me. I shall be there alone.

Yours cordially,

Ganondorf Dragmire Esq.

p.s. Sorry about the messenger. He is as thick as two short planks made out of concrete."

A map was enclosed, showing a seemingly arbitrary part of Hyrule Field.

Silence. A crow cawed loudly outside, before giving a strangled squawk as one of Bowser's troops began to prepare his breakfast.

Bowser held the scroll at arm's length, as if afraid that it might explode in his face, and exhaled gently. The scroll burned for a few seconds before being reduced to ashes in the large orange fist.

"Please, sir," said the troll, "What shall I say was your reply?"

Bowser looked at the green creature as if seeing him for the first time.

"Tell Mr. Porker that he will be there alone," he said, as if in a dream. "And no funny business."

As Kammy shooed the large lumbering figure from the room, Bowser pondered. Villains, by their very nature, do not like sharing power, and since this was the only reason Ganondorf might possibly have to send this message, had the messenger come on a different day he might have been sent home lacking one of his horns and bearing an insulting response. As it was, Bowser's despondent state made him more persuadable.

"Any orders, your Pensiveness?" simpered Kammy.

"The Koopa Cruiser will be prepared for take-off by twelve o'clock tomorrow," stated Bowser in a matter-of-fact voice.

From outside came the yell of a troll who had just discovered that the wild boar he had ridden to the castle had been converted into bacon by Koopa Troopers.

o o o

Twenty-nine hours or so later, the Koopa King was hovering towards a massive oak in his Koopa Clown Car, its fixed grin directed at the trunk. As he left the helicopter, he listened to the absolute absence of any birdsong or animal noises. The wide area under the oak's leaves was completely silent, apart from the dry grass crunching beneath his feet and the dying engine of the Clown Car. There was also a certain rank smell in the air, a mixture of month-old sweat and manure that grabbed the nose by the collar and demanded its lunch money.

"Ganondorf!" Bowser yelled, apprehensive at the lack of anyone visible. "Where are you?"

A man with green skin, red hair and black armour stepped out from behind the trunk.

"You're late, Bowser," he said, striding towards the Koopa.

"So are you."

"I came late because I knew you'd come late."

"But I only came late because…"

Bowser stopped, realising the circular nature of the conversation before the words left his mouth.

"Well, no matter," said Ganondorf, smiling warmly through thin lips. "Here you are, and here I am. Alone."

"So I see. Well, Mr. Dragmire, I should warn you that my Koopa Cruiser is hovering above us in case you would like to try any funny business." Bowser indicated the large warship with his face on hovering above them, just visible through the leaves.

For answer, Ganondorf stamped his foot. There was a rustling of weapons, and suddenly the area was surrounded by goblins. Another stamp and they were gone again. The mystery of the stench was solved.

"Now, hang on!" said Bowser, visibly perturbed. "I said… You said you were…"

"Oh, Bowser, use your brains," said Ganondorf with a slight chuckle. "Did you really expect that I would let you meet me with an army and have no defence of my own? You are so naïve."

Bowser ground his sharp teeth while Ganondorf, with a swirl of his cloak, turned towards the oak.

"Don't worry, old chap. They won't attack you. I need your help, you see."

"And why would I help you?" growled Bowser.

Ganondorf's hands waved in the air, as if feeling for something invisible. First one, then the other, seemed to catch hold of something Bowser could not see.

"I told you in the message that I had something to offer you," he said without turning.

"A great power, you said."

The thief's hands glowed bright purple as he pulled them apart. As he did so, a huge purple portal opened up before him, filled with purple light and emitting a low moaning sound.

Bowser's jaw dropped. "H… how did you do that?"

Ganondorf merely smiled and beckoned, walking slowly into the purpleness beyond until he was lost in violet mist. Bowser shook his head and dashed after the wizard, each heavy footstep making the ruins tremble, until he stepped into the mist and his feet seemed to be wrapped in cotton wool. Then he too was gone into the fog.

The portal snapped shut behind them.

o o o

The purple mist gave way to more purple, but at least it was visible, penetrable purple. In fact, it was a set of steps, giving off an eerie blue light, leading up towards a shimmering platform suspended in purple space, through which stars glimmered faintly. There was no wind, no sound but the vast emptiness of the purple cosmos.

Bowser stood for a while, trying to drink the expanse in. He might as well have tried to drink the sea. He gave up and realised that Ganondorf had placed a hand on his arm.

"What are you doing?" said Bowser, his mind snapping back to the close and the mundane. "Gerroff me!"

"If I do not keep my hand here, you will cease to move," said Ganondorf. "The matter around us will freeze you in time if you let it."

"In that case, how come you don't freeze?" asked Bowser, nonetheless allowing himself to be lead up the blue stairs.

"It is all part of the great power," said Ganondorf. "Come on."

As Bowser climbed, looking into the purple void around him, his steps became languid and sticky. The purple glow that emanated from Ganondorf's hand seemed to keep him going, and they pressed on, passing galaxies and constellations, until they reached the large platform suspended in purple space. Ganondorf drew Bowser to the centre and held his free hand aloft.

"Oh Master, I bring you the other I spoke of!"

IS HE TRUSTWORTHY? boomed a great voice, echoing off the empty space and making them shake.

"No!" cried Ganondorf. "He is a cruel and greedy despot with plans for world domination!"

GOOD. THEN HE SHALL KNOW ME.

If Bowser had thought that his awe quota was maximised for the day, he was proved very wrong as the speaker appeared before him, hovering over the platform and staring at them with its no eyes.

"But… You're not meant to be real… You're just a myth…"

COME FORWARD, BOWSER KOOPA.

He obeyed mutely, and as he did Ganondorf let go of his arm. For a brief moment he felt time speeding up massively around him, and then suddenly there was a blast of purple flame that sent him careening across the platform in his shell.

HMPH. LITTLE STAMINA. THE DARK WIZARD WAS ABLE TO TAKE THE GIFT BETTER THAN YOU.

Emerging from his shell, Bowser thought about saying something, but you do not quarrel with a legendary being at least five times your size. Not if you are smart, anyway. He settled for, "What have you done to me?"

I HAVE GIVEN YOU THE POWER OF SUBSPACE, BOWSER. IN RETURN FOR A FEW SMALL TASKS THAT YOU SHALL COMPLETE FOR ME, THIS POWER IS YOURS TO WIELD.

Bowser looked at his arms, blazing with purple fire. He felt invigorated, strengthened, an inner power rising. He let out a blast of red flame – it emerged as a purple fireball, twice the size of his head, and exploded on impact with the platform, forcing the Koopa King to shield his eyes.

"What is this devilry?" he said in shock.

THAT, BOWSER, IS THE POWER OF THIS REALM. SUBSPACE. I SHALL SAY NO MORE FOR NOW, OTHER THAN THAT THOSE WHO LAUGHED AT YOU ONCE MAY NOT BE SO KEEN TO DO SO AGAIN.

Bowser let loose another experimental ball of pyrotechnics. "I'm… powerful! It blazes inside me like a curry of strength! I feel mighty enough to crush the Marios and take over the Mushroom Kingdom all by myself!"

WELL, YES, YOU COULD DO THAT, IF YOU'RE AIMING SMALL.

"I beg your pardon?"

YOU HEARD. OR YOU COULD WORK TOGETHER WITH GANONDORF AND ME AND TAKE OVER FIRST THE PLANET; THEN THE GALAXY; AND THEN… WHO KNOWS?

Bowser looked at Ganondorf, but the green man had gone. In his place stood…

"Wow."

o o o

The portal opened, and Bowser, drunk on power and delight, stumbled out and toppled onto the grass. Ganondorf followed in a rather statelier manner.

"Whoopee! Look at me!" Bowser enthused. "I'm the most powerful thing in the universe! Whee! See, Mario? See how I crush you and your no-good brother? I'm a god now, and you are just tiny insects beneath my massive SubSpacey feet! Who's saying 'wahoo' now, eh? I think it's…"

"…us," said Ganondorf firmly. "So, what do we do now?"

"Take over the Mushroom Kingdom," said Bowser, grinning. "What else?"

"Wrong answer," said Ganondorf, pushing the Koopa's shell with his foot. "You heard what He said."

"But villains don't work together!" protested Bowser, dragging himself up.

"Well, look what happened when we tried it. I think you're enjoying the results."

Bowser giggled like a schoolgirl, before assuming a shocked and hurt expression. "You're not suggesting…"

"…that we share this power with anyone else? Goddesses forbid!" said Ganondorf. "We're just going to start spreading the world, and get started on Projects X, Y and Z."

"I like the sound of Project Z," said Bowser, his voice full of evil glee. "Especially the bit where we seize Mario and…"

"Get to work, Bowser," said Ganondorf strictly, before adopting a more friendly tone. "I know we don't use technology much in Hyrule, but I'll get a computer, just to keep in touch. I've heard there's this Intranet thing that's quite useful. Well, see you around, and keep the SubSpace powers hush-hush!"

Ganondorf shot off in a cloud of purple fire, his army toddling after. The hypocrite, Bowser thought. Tells me not to use SubSpace powers, and then zooms off with them. Well, no reason why I shouldn't have a little fun too.

As the army departed and the birds and animals, driven away by the noise and smell, began to edge back towards their nests and dens in and around the old tree, they were rudely interrupted in their return by the spinning shell of Bowser Koopa, aflame and shooting across the fields at very high speed, straight off a small furrow and into a massive boulder.

"Ow."

o o o

Time passes.

First came the hostile takeovers of Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom. Then the rest of Nintendo fell, and many disappeared almost overnight in what came to be known as the Purges, including the planet's heroes and protectors. Nintendo became one country, governed by villainy and ruled by greed.

Thus for eleven months, more or less, Nintendo laboured under its new masters with little hope of redemption. All attempts at overthrowing the LOVE were crushed mercilessly, a force field erected at around the six-month mark dispelled all hopes of outside help, and except for a lucky few a miserable time was had by all.

All of this is described in greater detail in the first volume. So are the events of the first volume. Thus if you want to find out about the formation of the League of Legends, the rescue of the princesses, the battle for New Pork City and more, you would do well to... Yes, you guessed right. For now, we will rejoin the ragtag bunch of characters that had become Nintendo's great hope as they come to a halt in Hyrule Field, not so far from a familiar tree.

And time passes.