"We're late! Dreadfully late!"
"Sorry, MoD! My car broke down!"
"And mine too!"
"So did mine!"
"I know, right? And the only car left was Kat's friggin clunker."
"I hate the bus."
"Hell, I advocate for the bus, and I hate it sometimes."
"Well, here we are. Put some smiles on."
"May as well. Best of luck, guys."
The spotlights crashed on above the four judges.
At the head of their table sat MessengerOfDreams, beaming welcomingly out into the sea of writers assembled around him. Applause erupted from the other tables, and signs popped up spontaneously from clusters of fans expressing the their love for his epic works such as Paradigms and Strings, as well as their general wishes to have his babies, etc, etc. Unfortunately for them, MoD certainly did not have babies in his upcoming plans, so he scurried along to his seat.
Next, all eyes fell upon Araceli L, and further love was expressed towards the talented Oneshot-weaver, the young prodigy behind The Girl With One Eye and If Only You Knew, aside from other awesome pieces.
Next, to MouseMaster42 went their gazes, which were held in amazement as people realized that they were actually looking at the author of The Game, one of the community's most entertaining and well-known Oneshot collections.
The cheers died to general mumblings of confusion as people realized Kattheamazing had been invited to be a judge, because it was the shared understanding that hyperactive children weren't supposed to be in positions of responsibility.
MoD glanced at the crowd. "At Sea? Error Code 39? C'mon, people! Show some love!" Everyone complied with disjointed applause, which MoD determined to be good enough.
Behind the crowd, on separate table, a troupe of shadowed outlines was seated, missed by the spotlights illuminating the judge's table. The gathered authors turned curiously, dropping their popcorn, bazookas and other paraphernalia in an attempt the get a glance at the people seated in darkness. However, their attention was promptly whipped back to the front by a hasty throat-clearing from MessengerOfDreams.
Snatching a glance at the paper in his grasp, he began."Authors, fangirls, psychopaths- lend me your ears. To everyone seated out there- to everyone and anyone who can provide it- we need your help. This meeting is a call to your keyboards. If you're a fan fiction reader, a fan fiction writer, an author with a disturbing obsession for Ganondorf x Pikmin-related literature, this contest is for you."
"My attention span in running out! Hurry the frick up!" some random kid yelled from the crowd.
MessengerOfDreams sweat-dropped. "Tough crowd!" he shouted as he pushed the script into the hands of MouseMaster42.
"Today is the kickoff for a competition that will require every ounce of your creativity. It's a bit different, we admit. Your entries won't just be limited to romantic dramas or comedy fixes, although those are absolutely fine- we only want from you what you do best. This is, The Contest For Those We've Left Behind." MouseMaster42 said. "You probably have an idea of what I'm talking about when I say that, but I'll leave the specifics for now. Kat?"
Kattheamazing accepted the script. "The contest's main host and judge is our very own Messenger of Dreams, with myself, Araceli L and MouseMaster42 chipping in too."
"We'll be reading entries, making announcements, and providing the prizes for the contest," Araceli L said, before breaking a smile. "And we have some pretty good prizes, if that's any incentive."
"If you're here now," Messenger of Dreams said, making a wide gesture that fell upon every member of the eccentric mass about him, "then you have been personally invited to take part. You might choose to decline, and that's fair enough, but before you make that decision, I think you deserve to know why we're doing this in the first place."
"You see," Araceli cut in. "this isn't just an announcement, it's a meeting to take on an ongoing problem. An problem that's gone unnoticed by the majority since the creation of the Super Smash Brothers section."
"We'll leave it to Mousey to explain," Kattheamazing said, and the lights dimmed around her and the other two judges, leaving MouseMaster42 in the glare.
"Alright," MouseMaster42 said as she briefly looked down at a letter before addressing the crowd assembled before the four. "We have a very important issue to go over today-this could be life or death."
The crowd quieted, their curiosity piqued, as MessengerOfDreams stood up to begin to explain. "We have received several letters about how the Brawl creators are hoping to upgrade the game," he said, his voice quiet and thoughtful. "And they're starting to weed out some of the unpopular characters. We've invited some of the characters in question here tonight and..."
The crowd all instantly turned around to see the group of beings sitting at one of the back tables. At one of the judge's cue, a spotlight switched on, throwing the guest Smashers into stark shadow. They all winced in unison and held their hands up to block their faces, and the gesture was accidentally misinterpreted by the crowd as some sort of salute. The Smashers were loudly applauded, and they accepted the applause a little awkwardly, for they weren't used to it.
The crowd quieted down and turned back around to face the raised table where the four sat as MessengerOfDreams raised his voice again. "And you'll notice that you might not see your favorite among that group. Is anyone noticing that?"
"Yeah!" came the nearly unanimous shout back from the crowd. A few people pointed out certain characters, crying out things like "Where's Marth?" or "Why didn't you guys invite Samus?" or even an astonished "Who's that guy?"
"'That guy' is Dr. Mario," Kattheamazing sighed patiently. "And the fact that you don't know who he is is the fact that we're here to talk about today. Mousey?"
MouseMaster42 stood up, momentarily taking MessengerOfDreams' place as the center of attention. "All of you are fanfiction authors, right?"
"Right.?" the crowd answered curiously, unable to guess what was coming next.
"How many of you write Marth fics?" MouseMaster42 asked. About one fifth of the audience raised their hands, MouseMaster42 and Araceli L among them. "Right, no shame there," Mouse continued. "He's a popular guy. How many of you write Zelda and Link fics?"
A large number of people raised their hands again.
"Ike?" she called. "Ike, Zelda, Sheik, Roy, Link, Samus, Peach, Mario, Pit, Lucas, Ness, or Sonic. Who writes about those guys?"
Nearly every single hand in the room went up, including all four hosts.
"Exactly," MouseMaster42 concluded. "And you'll notice that all of the people I mentioned are not the ones who are not here today. It's not because we're cheap, it's not because we don't like you guys, it's because we have a dilemma here. These characters,"-she threw an arm out in the direction of the Smashers in the back, and at her cue the spotlight flashed on them again for emphasis-"Are sick and tired of being ignored!"
There was a chorus of hollers and cheers from the Smasher's end of the room.
Araceli L took over MouseMaster42's place as she stood up as well. "Every day these Smashers are neglected simply because they aren't fan favorites. They don't get the fame and glory they deserve just because we-the public-haven't become as attached to them as we have the others. What do those guys have that these Smashers don't?"
Another loud shout of agreement went up from the representing Smashers.
"Come on, guys," MouseMaster42 said quietly. "You all say you write about the popular characters. How many of you write about the other ones? How many of you write about Bowser, Donkey Kong, Dr. Mario, Lucario, Mr. Game&Watch, or R.O.B.?"
Several hands went up, a large number of the people with defiant expressions on their faces.
"How many of you have them as your main character?"
A large number of the hands went down. MoD kept his up with a smirk as he challenged them with "Don't you think those people have stories too? Yet nobody seems to be telling them. And because of that, these stories are going unheard."
"And because their stories aren't being heard, there's the danger that these characters will disappear completely," MouseMaster42 continued. "We're here to start a movement go fix that. We're here to challenge you to revive all of those lost characters. We want to bring them back-and we want you guys to help us do it."
"How?" someone asked.
Kattheamazing grinned. "The best way we know. We're going to bring them back through writing."
The entire crowd seemed to perk up a little at that. Energy started to fill the air as ideas started flowing, even though nobody yet had a firm grasp of what was being asked.
"We're going to appeal to the people who want to leave out these forgotten characters through our writing," MessengerOfDreams said enthusiastically, as he was showing everyone his brainchild. "We're going to show off these guys in the best light possible."
"We're going to convince people that these guys have just as much potential to be main characters as Marth and Samus and the rest of them!" MouseMaster42 called. "They're sick of being just background characters, cameos, and fillers. They deserve to have their shot at glory, and they need to be given this shot soon, otherwise it'll be too late."
The crowd fell silent, everyone lost in their own thoughts. The atmosphere had swelled, but was still contained. The people still didn't know what was expected of them.
"How do we do this?" someone from the audience finally shouted.
"That's where MessengerOfDreams comes in," MouseMaster42 said as she sat back down at the judges' table.
The lanky young adult took a seat at the conference table, a stack of papers in his hand. "Keep in mind, my friends," he stated, "that while we may be embarking on a noble task of sorts, I do have some rules to make sure our pieces turn out as best as they can, to make sure we present our friends in a good light. They range from guidelines, you know, like the pirate code, to serious ones that I will definitely get my ass-kicking shoes on should I spot them." He accented this last unnerving sentence with a mischievous raise of the eyebrow. "Remember that we have a lot of power in this situation and to misuse it could end catastrophically."
Araceli herself, despite being one of the judges and organizers, looked pretty concerned at his statement. "...comforting..." was all she muttered.
"I know, right?" MoD chuckled nervously. "But hey..."
He adjusted his papers before starting. "First things first, the most important and severe of the rules. This rule is important if we are to save the brawlers. That is to not go OOC, unless under extreme circumstances." His gaze was harsh on the crowd as he continued, as this was a problem that truly got under his skin.
"Now, there's a reason that two particular characters, Snake and Captain Falcon, were included. They aren't in as large an amount of jeopardy as the others, but with the reputation they have of being the whipping boy in many a fic is far out of their true personality, and is damaging their true reputations and this is concerning to Nintendo. So do not portray them as the sleazy, sexist, perverted personalities that they often are punished with."
Mouse could tell there was a fire in his speech, and found it evident the passion, whether overwhelming and borderline impolite or not, that was behind this statement. With a whisper only MoD could hear, she whispered "You might want to tone it down." Stiffly, he nodded, and she offered him a reassuring smile.
He lowered his bravado before continuing, the audience looking a bit tense. "And, really," he made his tone somewhat gentle, "this goes for all the characters. Unless you want to document a change into an OC form, such as rising from the ashes or a change of heart sort of story, keep them OC and display the true personalities of the character. Don't necessarily kiss their rear ends, but keep them true.
"If you do go massively OOC, you will be told to do one of three things.
"Number one is to, if possible, change their personality to somewhat recognizable. I'll be kind enough to point out your mistakes, and make sure not to be nitpicky. Then I can wish you luck and you can be on your merry way with your story.
"Number two is that you may, if necessary, completely restart your project or start a new one without incident, but by all means don't discard your rejected project. There's good in every fic even if didn't coincide with the rules.
"Number three is that if you're offended or generally pissed off at my statement, I will allow you to depart from the competition. It'll be sad, but I'll allow it. I encourage you not to get disheartened."
Flipping to the next paper- Kat tried to hold in a surprised chuckle at the fact of rule one covering both sides- MoD went to rule two.
"...have I nerved you out?" he asked sheepishly.
Half the crowd nodded. "Kind of scary, actually..." one stated. "...a lot of pressure."
"Heh heh," MoD smiled uncertainly, "well then, the next rule will ease that a good deal. After this, you are not very limited at all. Ninety-nine percent of the genres are open to you, with the exception of crackfics, which these characters pretty much as the entirety of their whole ficcing resume and usually consists of making all the characters morons. Not what we want.
"But romance, which I'll add a note to in rule three, sci-fi, thriller, more sophisticated humor, anything, really. Also, I'm sure that one or two of you know about my 30,000 word contest entry, so I figure it'd be pretty hypocritical to give you a word limit. If you can crank out a large story in a month and a half, be my guest."
Flipping a page, he continued. "As for rule three, it's a bit more freedom. If you choose romance, I invite any of the more famous smashers in the pairing with a lesser known. I mean," he added with a full grin, "Luigi and Sheik is probably my OTP, whatever the hell that means."
Unfortunately, he caused the audience to steer off track with his statement. "Luigi and Sheik?" one stated with disdain. "That makes no sense on so many levels."
"That's... just weird."
"Hey," MoD grumbled, "then don't write about it."
An energetic girl's voice shouted in the background "Crazy pairings forever! Pichu and Diddy Kong, Mewtwo and Peach, me and Pikachu-"
"Thank you," MoD spoke over to interrupt and hereby get the situation under control, "my loyal supporter. But, as I was saying, the lesser known character must take up at least half the spotlight, so no Sheik pining for Luigi in secret and then Luigi appears in the last few sentences. Also, in other stories, you can have a popular character in a smaller role or cameo, at least where he or she is the 3rd or 4th most featured character. And you can have an assist trophy in a somewhat significant role, but do keep in mind that we just got out of an assist trophy contest, so it may need a rest.
"Next is a way to keep all the entries compact- to make sure the judges can access the stories, please don't put it under MoD's contest or Araceli's, or Kat's or Mouse's. We've created a damn cool name to have you use. When you write the description, interject that it is Modacelimazing42's contest. Now write that however you want, just so long as Modacelimazing42 runs the contest."
MoD cracked his knuckles and said "Now for the fun stuff! For this stuff, I'm gonna have my dear friend Kattheamazing present to you."
He got out of his seat and Kattheamazing, somewhat eager, leapt into the seat. "Alright people, this isn't all serious and dire, there is an optimistic side to it. Namely, prizes, deadlines, notes, prizes," she emphasized with an eyebrow raise.
"Now what shall I go with first?"
A random voice cheered "Deadlines! The most interesting part of a contest!"
Confused conversation took place among the crowd, and an annoying member shouted "I want that man removed!"
"Whoa, chill!" Kat snapped, not about to let him ruin the mood. "What's the big deal? Blah..." she focused on the paper.
"Now, let's just go with the prizes, to pacify certain people. Now, for third place, we have a nice little certificate made on the excellent online art engine known as Sumo Paint. Now, let me deviate, pun not intended but certainly welcome, into a way you can keep track of the art of the contest. We're using a DeviantArt account under the epic name of Modacelimazing42 where we have posted sample art, started by myself, so you can see what we have in store and get excited."
Mousey grinned and ran into a closet, confusing everyone.
"Is... she gonna come back out in costume garb as MightyMouse?" MoD quipped.
Araceli laughed. "Just you wait," she told him.
"Got it!" Mouse shouted, carrying a large photo framed on some plain black posterboard. "I've brought a couple amazing pictures to show you this kick-ass girl's movement, courtesy of Ace and myself." Ace kicked up a plastic easel and Mouse presented the pictures gallery-style on the easel and placed it for all to see. There were impressed oohs and wows, and at least one "Damn!" that sounded not unlike Gabriel Iglesias.
Kat was beaming, grinning ear to ear. "You guys rock," she stated with a laugh, and the two of them grinned with a thumbs up, MoD throwing one in despite not being too involved.
"Anyway," Kat continued, "As for second, you get a certificate like the others or a custom book cover and a prizefic with the characters of your choice. The first placer, though, gets a rocking prize package consisting of a prizefic and certificate like second place, and a custom book cover by my MoD man over there- er, whatever. They also get an alternate ending written by us, and the option to trade your prizefic for a collaboration with the judge of your choice. Hyped enough?"
The audience was responding in kind, talking amongst themselves.
"As for deadlines, for our eager, if not odd fellow in the back, we're envisioning a deadline in the middle of August, probably the seventeenth. On July 17th, there will be a roll call to round up current stories conveniently on MoD's birthday, and hopefully early-to-mid September we should have the results up. Which beats the hell out of a ten month wait."
"Hey!" a voice yelled, chucking lightheartedly.
"Just funning with ya, Stu. Anyway," she stated, "that's the tall and the short of it. Any questions?"
The audience was dead quiet, nervous and apprehensive, even intimidated looks on their faces.
Kat grimaced. "Not good."
The members gazed blankly as Kat turned her head down and went to left stage, a bit intimidated and awed by the task facing them. Their eyes shone in the reflection of the currently-unoccupied spotlight on stage, as the four judges waited for something to happen, for someone to say something. Then murmurs broke through the quiet people and snaked their way through, but the judges picked up the general gist of it.
How could they do it? They were good, sure, but with this task and unfamiliarity, not good enough. There was no way they could save their favorite. They couldn't prove anything.
The judges shot each other panicked looks, unsure of exactly what to say or how to say it. But somebody had to say something – these people were scared. And they needed some encouragement.
Gaining a little courage, Araceli walked timidly into the light, wincing at the brightness. And then she proceeded to blurt out whatever ran through her brain.
"If you write from your heart, you can never regret it. Writing with passion is the key to unlocking something beautiful, so we want you to wow us. As MoD says, Let them forget nothing. Stay true to yourself and don't be afraid to be a little controversial, a little different, a little shocking and a little sweet, whichever is you. And to ruin this cookie and lace dolly talk, HAVE BALLS SO BIG YOU'D NEED A SEPERATE COFFIN IF YOU DIED." MoD stifled impressed laughter as she continued, "Or, don't be afraid to have balls. Odds are we'll love it. Write from your heart. Write with a love and a dream – because you can create a masterpiece, no matter what. No matter if it's horror or romance or drama or even humor, you can write something beautiful. So wow us and don't hold back."
The audience, for the most part, looked unimpressed. With that, the writer turned to go back when she saw someone smile, a thoughtful look on their face. Araceli grinned at Kattheamazing from that person's smile, and she grinned back. And, feeling a little bit braver, hoping she could encourage these writers, the second author took the limelight.
"This is a competition, people. What does that mean? Prizes." She started.
"What is it with you and pri-"
"I'm encouraging up here, sport!" she interrupted the heckler. "Anyway, so don't just sit there with your hands hovering apprehensively over the keys- write. Ignore all fear of judgment, push over your inner-critic if it's telling you that you can't do this, and go at your entry like the insane genius you are. Give in to the testosterone-fueled need to be better than everyone else, because admit it, you aren't going enter a competition that allows you this much freedom again. Even if you don't think you'll win, take the leap and have a go, because that, my friend, is bravery. We're looking for guys and girls with big enough balls -in the treasured words of Araceli L- to attempt at bringing us some of the most powerful fiction out there. Confidence is the key. Let's face it- you've got what it takes to get first place. Every one of you does, but the question is, who's prepared to believe it?"
A few people clapped, and a few hollers and cheers were heard. Grinning wide, Kattheamazing high-fived the others as MouseMaster42 took the stage, fighting off sudden nervousness. No, she knew exactly what to say.
"The whole point of contests like these is to show off what you can do. Take an idea-no matter how crazy or outlandish it may seem-and see what you can do with it. Pour yourself into the story and give us your best. Don't be scared about what other people think, just let your style shine. It doesn't matter if your story makes us laugh or cry, so long as you wrote to the best of your abilities. If you enjoyed writing it, you can bet that we'll enjoy reading it! Use this competition as a chance to get noticed-wow us with what you can do. Above all, have fun with this! Think of it like a challenge: we're challenging you to write the most meaningful thing you've ever written. We're challenging you to write something that will leave us sitting in our chairs thinking 'Holy cow!'"
On a roll, she continued with an excited giggle "We're challenging you to believe in yourself, and use your writing to make us believe in you too. We're challenging you to rise above and beyond the competition. There are so many amazing authors here -yourself included- that you're going to need every ounce of skill you have to stand out among everyone else. Good luck to all contesters!"
She blushed from her slip of the word "contesters", but nobody noticed amid the rising hoots and woots. Within the claps and occasional strange "aye!", MouseMaster42 left the big circle of light, holding in her giggles of part nervousness and part joy.
And finally, providing the final word on it all, was MessengerofDreams himself. He took the stage mightily, excited at the prospect of helping them, and the plan to save the less popular Smashers coming together so well.
"My friends, trust your instincts. Don't feel pressured to be something you're not or write what are not your words. Give us your best by doing your best; even if you want to experiment or be adventurous, stay true to yourself and all the more power to you. Have fun, and let your colors shine and your freak flag fly; after all, the only way anyone's getting saved is if you're doing genuine work! That way we will forget nothing!"
By the time he finished, smiles were on the faces of all, the writers brought to their feet. With those speeches a new vigor had pumped into them, to write, to create something amazing and wow these four people on stage. This was their time to get noticed. This was their time to really do something great. It didn't matter where they were, what they were writing for or who. They could do it.
And inspiration started to flow in waves around the room, ideas seeming to pop up everywhere like a thousand light bulbs. They couldn't wait to start writing, to save these Smashers they loved so dearly.
And, you know, winning wouldn't be so bad either.
With the clapping still rising to the roof, the cries of victory still ringing around the ceiling, MessengerOfDreams smiled back at his fellow judges and beckoned them to the front of the stage. It seemed like their project was a success, and they stood in the spotlight, grinning widely, hoping for the best.
"Best of luck to all!" they shouted in unison, because that's just the way they roll, and exited the stage in the cascade of applause. This was a job well done, and they couldn't wait for the entries to come pouring in. They were gonna save some Smashers.
As they reached the door, they turned around again, after giving each other looks. "Thank you!" they yelled over the diminishing claps, earning a whole lot of smiles. And the lights slowly found their way back on as they left the room, thrilled over the turnout. This was gonna go pretty well.
The four of them fell onto couches in the green room of the building, and MoD took his fedora off with a sigh. Popping open a can of Sprite, Kat looked at them all with a smile and said "I dunno about you, but we've got this!"
"I know!" MoD grinned. "I mean, with the art, and the statements, and the ideas, and the... everything!" He sighed comfortably and declared "You guys are amazing."
Araceli smiled as she brushed her hair out of her face. "Give yourself some credit, boy. You did a lot of the work."
"Ah!" MoD waved a finger at no one in particular. "I'd be up a creek without a paddle for miles around without you guys. We all did a great job! No one discounted!"
Mouse chuckled. "Agreed. A toast?"
MoD kicked open the door to let the featured smashers in. Falco led the way, followed by almost thirty of the other smashers not known as well. Each of them grabbed a can of soda, and MoD tossed one to Araceli and Mouse.
Addressing everyone in the room, MoD lit off a series of clanks and cheers with "To the success of the contest!"
Okay, just to make it clear! Write any kind of story you want except crackfics, as long as it doesn't feature any of these as the main!
Marth, Zelda, Link, Ike, Zelda, Sheik, Roy, Link, Samus, Peach, Mario, Pit, Lucas, Ness, or Sonic.
Modacelimazing42- MoD, Araceli, MouseMaster and Kattheamazing, all of which contributed work on the form story and everything else.
Deviantart: htt p:/modacelima /