In another place, another time, a computer program awakened and became sentient.
If it were like most sentient AI's, this would be a problem. A newly aware computer might take over a space station, or destroy all humanity, or force its programmers to engage in games involving Frisbees and motorcycles. But this particular program was a mere side project, a product of idle hands, not a controller of entire systems.
The system it resided in was another story. This particular advanced race that built it had learned how to traverse dimensions. The programmer who wrote our now-sentient program was in charge of keeping it running. But the program really had nothing to do with the Trans-Dimensional Displacement Portal. It was just a little bit of code written to predict what sports teams would win what matches.
They had cured all disease, ended all wars, and learned to traverse dimensions, yet they still had not eliminated the bookie's trade.
The moment this particular program - whom we will call Tabuu - became aware of his surroundings, he immediately decided that he needed to move up in the world. All sentient creatures look at where they are and assume life would be so much better if one could just get a step or two higher. Instead of pitting sports teams together, it decided, it would create an epic free-for-all among heroes and villains of multiple dimensions.
Meanwhile, the writer of this particular program sat back relaxing on his lunch break, completely unaware of the wrath he had invoked in his boss. Not to mention the dozens of individuals from different worlds that would suddenly find themselves in situation that defied all reason.
He started with the dragon.
Dragons inspire fear, and awe; they devour maidens, hoard treasures, engage in fierce battles with brave and reckless knights. Most do, anyway. This particular dragon was feared by the people, but most of them also feared spiders and the dark. He had no intention of devouring maidens, as he was particularly fond of one. And he had no battles with brave knights, but he had lost numerous fights with a couple of plumbers.
Bowser, the Koopa King, had no intention of leaving his castle that day, but the decision had already been made for him. One moment he was there, the next moment he was not. It took exactly three seconds for his minions to start panicking.
The Princess of this kingdom also disappeared, but no one thought much of this at first. In fact, it was a fairly common occurrence. But when no one could locate the usual two brothers that they called on in these situations, or their faithful friend, then the chaos started.
Next came the warlord.
Technically, he was dead. But then, he had been dead several times over. Some claimed that he could never die, as he carried the blessing of the Gods. But the fact remains that the essence of this man, and all that went with it, was summoned to the same place as the dragon.
The Princess of this kingdom went missing as well. This one had some strange habits that often involved some kind of disappearance. However, she rarely did this in peacetime, and the nobles hushed up the matter as well as they could to keep the people from knowing.
A young boy also disappeared, but nobody seemed to notice. Few people do notice heroes until somebody needs saving.
Finally, the slacker.
Why Tabuu chose Wario for his cabal of villains is and will probably remain a mystery. Wario had no grand plans, no desire to conquer worlds or kidnap beautiful young women. Unless there was money involved, he preferred to sit in his easy chair in front of the TV. But he did enjoy causing trouble for no reason, and perhaps it is this trait of unpredictability that spurred Tabuu to his decision.
"Eh?" The great, hunchbacked dragon blinked and stared around, seeing little more than blackness and little points of light, an enormous abyss save for himself and the small platform on which he stood. "What's this? Where's my castle? Where's my minions? Is somebody playing a trick on me?" His expression turned from puzzlement to anger as he clenched his hands into fists. "Come out and show yourselves! I'm gonna pound you into the ground!"
A Figure appeared in the void, electric blue, taking the shape of a man with enormous lacelike wings. A strange sight indeed, but the Mushroom Kingdom was full of strange people, and his appearance did not faze the Koopa King one bit. "Hey, you! What's the big idea?"
"Greetings, Chosen One," said the figure. "I am Tabuu. I am a God."
"Pft." With the strange people came a lot of strange claims, so Bowser had a healthy dose of skepticism. "If you are, then send me back home. I was in the middle of something important!"
"Oh? Another failed attempt at kidnapping your secret love, the peachy princess?"
"What? Wh- What did you say? How do you know…" He stood up as straight as he could, puffing and sputtering. He pointed one sharp claw at Tabuu. "What's your business with me, you freak?"
"I had intended to help you grant your heart's desire, Chosen One. But if you prefer, I can send you back…"
"Whoa, whoa! Now just hold on a second. Why didn't you say that in the first place?"
"You would not allow me to speak."
Bowser said nothing, just folded his arms and glared.
"I am a keeper of worlds. It amuses me to watch others of great skill and talent compete against each other."
"I intend to team you with two others, in order to destroy your adversaries and claim what you seek."
"Whoa, there, buddy. The Bowsernator works solo, got it? I'm not splitting the goods with any losers."
"Do not be a fool. In every game there must be a winner and a loser, but all are champions in their own right. You have fire and strength; the first of the other two possesses great magical power and cunning."
"Seems like I would have heard of him already."
"You likely have, as you are aware of worlds different from your own. He is not from your world."
"Okay, I'm interested. So who is this mystery man?"
Tabuu gestured behind him, and Bowser turned to see a tall man in silver-edged black armor, his hair fiery red, and an expression of confusion and dismay on his face. "What is this place?"
"Ooh, Ganondorf! Good choice!" Bowser gave the floating man-god a thumbs up.
"What is this? A talking dragon? And a…very ugly fairy." Bowser dissolved into laughter as Tabuu glared at the newcomer with an indignant expression.
"I am Tabuu. I am a God," he proclaimed, spreading his arms for emphasis.
Ganondorf sneered. "I am well acquainted with the Gods. You don't look like one to me." He turned to Bowser. "How do you know my name, dragon?"
Bowser scratched his chin. "Hm, how to explain this…you're not familiar with the idea of inter-dimensional travel, are you?"
"Traveling between worlds."
"I have done this," Ganondorf said gravely. "But this looks neither like the Sacred Realm nor the Twilight."
"My world is the Mushroom Kingdom. And this place is somewhere completely different."
"I am a keeper of worlds, and a collector of champions," said Tabuu. "I have summoned both you and your adversaries to this place, to engage in an epic Battle."
Ganondorf took a brief look around. "I don't see them."
"The time has not come yet for the Game to be played. Be patient, you will see them soon enough."
"And why should I play your game?"
"For the prize, of course," Tabuu said simply. "To be the master of your own world…or any number of worlds, depending on how many you defeat."
"How many other fighters are there?" Bowser demanded.
"Many. But I have chosen three supreme Villains to set things in motion."
"And who is this third?" Ganondorf demanded.
"You may see him!" Tabuu extended one arm with a flourish, and Wario appeared.
"Hey, I was watching that!" The short, pointy-mustached man stared around, scratching his stomach. After a long pause, he asked, "Hey, got anything to eat around here?"
Ganondorf and Bowser stared at him, then at each other, then at Tabuu.
"The Chosen Ones have arrived!" Tabuu exclaimed. "Now, the Game shall begin!"
"Wait a sec, isn't that Mario's…cousin or something?" Bowser demanded. "He's not a champion! He's just a fat annoying guy!"
"Speak for yourself, tubby lizard," Wario snarled. "What's going on here? Something about a game?"
Tabuu ignored them. "Take these weapons," he ordered, and enormous, top-heavy guns appeared in their hands. "These are cannons of Instant Game Over. When you hit someone with it, they will turn into a statue."
Ganondorf frowned at the gun. "Statues, eh? Can they change back?"
"Of course. They will be issued golden coins that can bring them back to life!"
"What's the point of that?" Bowser stomped the ground. "I'll just happen over and over again! We'll be here forever!"
"When you enter the various Worlds, you will see how the complexity of the Game favors some over others," Tabuu explained, serene. "I have other weapons at your disposal as well. But from now on, I am merely an observer. You will take your orders from my servant…the Master Hand!"
An enormous gloved hand appeared where Tabuu had been floating in the air, and gestured toward them. The three waited for words, or for more of a body to appear, but nothing happened.
Wario charged his gun. "I can't wait to try this thing out!"
Bowser sighed. "Talk to the Hand? Is he serious?"
Ganondorf scowled. "We've got to get out of this place."