A/N Before I begin I KNOW IT'S BEEN 11 MONTHS. I know I know I know I know we know we know we know we know. This was certainly not as easy as it sounded, but we pulled through. Hope you're still around, everyone. :P
He smiled sadly, his hand resting against his forehead and his fingers under his fedora. He reached around in such an odd place, looking for something under his hat and smiling wider when he found it. A key. Perfect. He pulled it out and, looking at the back door of the auditorium, opened the door into the emptiness that awaited him.
There were a large number of seats, all familiar yet all empty. The stage stood in front of him, proud and waiting for a use. A pulpit and a microphone sat atop even that, and that was what he walked towards.
He removed his green side pack from his person, plopping it on the wooden stage. He dug out a small stack of papers with some very important information and prepared to set it in the pulpit when he saw that there was already some in there. Curious, he set his current papers down and grabbed the old ones, wiping a thin sheen of dust off of them before reading the information.
He swallowed tightly as he did, realizing how much time it had been.
Story Name: A Braver Captain
Summary: Olimar...not many people know him, at least not much. Ganondorf is about to discover the courage and life of Olimar.
Characters: Ganondorf and Olimar
Story Name: Wanted: Aura
Summary: Four feet, zero inches. Weight: 119 lbs. Considered armed and dangerous. Status: Missing; presumed to be aided by allies.
Characters: Lucario and Captain Falcon
Story Name: Degenerates
Summary: Everything starts when Meta Knight witnesses a murder. Soon after, the quiet man finds himself entangled in a plot that threatens to collapse his entire world… (Alt. Universe, Unfinished)
Characters: Meta Knight and Jigglypuff
And on and on the list went, listing the other contestants. The headline was a bit jarring to him. "Full List of entrants for The Contest For Those Left Behind- August 30, 2011."
11 months since the contest submission ended. He shuddered a little bit, out of surprise, fear and just a bit of amusement. He was grateful that at the very least the developers of SSB4 were slower then he and his crew were.
He took those papers down and set the more recent, important ones where the old ones were. It was about fifteen moments before the show was to begin, and the winner was to be announced. He had a feeling that the room was going to be at least mildly crowded, and at the very least the audience would be attentive. The ten front row seats were reserved with the names of the operators of the contest (including himself) that he believed did well despite the fact that they were severely late and for the top six entrants, who would be announced prior to the unveiling of the winners and would need a special place to sit.
He glanced at his watch anxiously, wondering where the hec k the other judges had gotten to. They were supposed to be here helping him set up. He had been about ten minutes late, so why was he the first one there?
As he pondered that paradox, he heard a commotion from the door, and a female voice exclaim, "It's unlocked, idiot!" followed by a quiet, embarassed, "Oh."
"Speak of the devil," he commented as the three girls leapt through the back door, staggering comically to a halt in the middle of the stage and apologizing all at once for their lateness. "Where were you?"
"Mousey got her driver's liscense last week," Kattheamazing explained breathlessly with a grin. "You missed a heck of a ride."
"Oh come on," MouseMaster42 grumbled, shifting her weight awkwardly from one leg to the other and tucking the car keys back into her pocket. "We didn't crash or anything."
"Yeah, we're just half an hour late," Kat teased. Araceli L had remained silent up until this point, apparently shocked by her close brush with death, but now she unfroze and bounded over to MessengerOfDreams' side, asking what the plan for the day was.
"We're winging it," he said cheerfully, walking over to the main doors and pulling them open in a grand gesture. The waiting crowd surged inside en masse, only a select few having actually participated in the contest. Those twelve were quickly directed to seats near the front row, although the top six next to the judges were kept clear. They wanted to keep the suspense up as long as possible.
There was Twilight Okami—the author of 'A Second Chance for Adventure,' sitting next to Guessworks. The two of them seemed to be getting along alright. MouseMaster42's friend Sogo—author of the Luigi-starring entrant 'Unnoticed—exchanged a few words with her neighbor before sitting down anxiously at the end of a row and pulling out a sketchbook to doodle idly in, leaving MouseMaster42 to go seat somebody else.
Audhulma Ivaldi, who had chosen to write about Mewtwo, walked in just behind When Darkness Rises—author of the only Pichu-featuring story—and they sat next to one another, although they didn't start a conversation. AvidAkiraReader and PrincessDiMimi, next to them, ended up having lots to talk about as they had both written about neglected Star Fox characters. The Observer 00 and Souldin also were able to strike up a conversation in a similar fashion: their entries had both featured Ganondorf.
Among the actual contestants were a handful of other eager fanfiction writers, most of whom were familiar with at least one of the judges and wnted to check out the event. As well as the fans, there was a small clump of smug-looking older writers in the back of the auditorium who were involved in the community and looked more than a little miffed at the time it had taken for the contest to get wrapped up. The judges were doing a marvelous job of ignoring them, Araceli L commenting to MessengerOfDreams at one point "Haters gonna hate."
Within a few minutes, almost everybody had settled, even the critiques in the back. Nearly every chair was filled, although two in the front had been left open for RedhazeKJ and Cherry-Sama, both of whom were nearly late and scampered in at the last minute.
"Nah, it's okay," MouseMaster42 commented lightly as they apologized. "Three of the four of us got here late too."
"Actually, I was late too," MessengerOfDreams laughed, looking up from where he was talking with Foxpilot—the final entrant. "So, technically, we were all late. I was just less so than you guys."
"I was driving the speed limit, man. Excuse me for being a law-abiding citizen."
"Psh, nobody follows the speed limit."
"Weren't you the one who trespassed into your cousin's senile neighbor's yard this summer?" Sogo questioned innocently.
"Hush, you," MouseMaster42 rebuked as she followed Kattheamazing up to their seats in the front.
Araceli L nudged MessengerOfDreams pointedly, and he broke off his conversation with Foxpilot to grimace good-naturedly and jog up to his chair, dropping into it exhaustedly and tipping his hat away from his face.
"Papers are already up there," he told MouseMaster42, who was doing the introduction. She nodded nervously and skipped up to the podium, taking a minute to fiddle with the microphone and wipe her palms against her Batman T-shirt.
"Hey," she said into the microphone. "We're starting now, if you could all quiet down." A few people looked up at her imploringly, but the rest continued talking as if she hadn't said anything.
With a sigh, Araceli L picked herself up from the seat, stalked across the stage and thrust the microphone in front of one of the speakers, sending a wave of feedback screeching across the auditorium.
"Here you go," she smirked when everybody had stopped screaming, passing the microphone back to MouseMaster42, who grinned as Araceli L dropped back into her seat, looking extremely self-satsfied.
"We're getting started," she tried again. "If I could have your attention…?"
Everybody stopped talking this time.
"Right, that worked." She tossed her bangs out of her face and resumed her intro as if she had never been interrupted. "It seems like we were just here, doesn't it?" she asked introspectively. "I mean—I know this is way overdue, but it doesn't feel like an entire year, does it? I know that it seems like we forgot about this thing, but let me assure you that we were actually talking about it—there were just complcations. It doesn't really matter: time flies, things come up. A lot of things can happen in a year. But what hasn't changed is the results of the contest and the glorious prizes associated therewith. Do you still want to know who won them?"
A few mumbles of agreement. Definitly not satisfactory.
"Oh come on!" she cried, rolling her eyes up to the ceiling. "Can we get some enthusiasm? I know it's been forever but jeez! That was pathetic! Do you want to know who won The Contest For Those We Left Behind?"
A definitive, answering roar of 'yes!'
"Good," she said smugly. "I'm going to hand it over to Kattheamazing, who's got a few words for you guys and is going to narrow the field down from twelves to six. Take it away….And welcome back, everybody!"
She passed the microphone off to the third girl, who had been hovering at the edge of the platform and took to the stage.
One look at the audience, and she realised that the fifty-two page speech she had prepared for the occasion might not be the best idea. She tucked it back into her pocket, swallowing anxiously at the piercing stares of the contest entrants. These people wanted results, and they wanted them now.
"I'll just cut to the chase, shall I?" she murmured.
A collective shout of 'YES!' arose from the crowd.
"Well, first, on behalf of all of the judges, I'd like to thank you all for entering our contest. You've gripped us, you've made us laugh, you've even made us cry…"
"I thought we clarified this," Araceli L cut in, looking stormy. "I was not crying because of the contest entries. I was crying in the car on the way here because I thought I was going to DIE!"
MouseMaster42 shrunk back a little as Araceli cast an irked look in her direction.
"Details, details," Kattheamazing said, already beginning to feel the prickle of the impatient stares from the audience. "Anyway, what I'm trying to say is…"
"Every one of your entries was brilliant," Messenger of Dreams said, stepping into the spotlight alongside her. "As the host of the contest, the individuality of each of your stories really blew me away. I'm honored that so many of you entered, and even more honored by the amount of effort each and every one of you spent on your work. Thank you, one and all, for being here tonight!"
Katheamazing gave him a nod of appreciation, grateful for the summarisation as she turned back to address the audience. "Now, ladies and gents, without delay, let's introduce our list of the top six entries! At sixth, we have…"
"Foxpilot's Wanted: Aura!" Araceli L announced.
"I was going to build up to that! Thanks for killing the suspense!" Kattheamazing snapped.
"Like we haven't given enough of that?" MoD cracked, easily in shock at the very idea.
"If you'd delayed any longer I think the audience would have climbed up here and clawed the results out of your hands. You should be thanking her!" MouseMaster42 said, grinning. "Besides, it's not like people didn't see that coming. Foxpilot's practically a FanFiction legend. He was inevitably going to place somewhere."
MessengerOf Dreams nodded. "True, and it was a great story, as we all expected it would be. A quirky, unique premise, a smooth, flowing narrative, a gripping plot and those obscure, yet hilarious jokes that somehow manage to find themselves tangled up in the middle of it all. Classic FP material."
MouseMaster42 elaborated. "This story, featuring Lucario and Captain Falcon as its protagonists, sees the Aura Pokemon on the run for crimes he didn't commit, with Captain Falcon at his side, attempting to help him evade capture. But this story didn't just place 6th for its creativity- we also loved the character development, especially Captain Falcon's, and the lively dynamic between both characters. All in all, a well-written, high-standard piece with the usual Foxpilot flair. We commend FP for bringing two characters into the spotlight who so rarely get their turn to shine, and managing to make them relatable, fascinating and endearing all at the same time. A highly recommended read, folks. "
Somewhere in the crowd, Foxpilot smiled lightly. Perhaps his ambitions had been higher, but if his successes in previous contests were any indication, the competition in this one had to be ferocious.
"Now, on the the story that placed fifth," Araceli began. "That would be…Assist Trophy by When Darkness Rises!"
"It was a short piece, but that's why we loved it," MessengerOfDreams explained. "Its length reflects the sad brievity of the life of an assist trophy- Pichu's, to be exact. Now Pichu isn't an assist trophy in Brawl, having been dropped in Melee, but that's part of the greatness of it. Every sentence counts in this story, giving it a hard-hitting, emotional edge which really forces the reader's attention. In terms of character exploration, it's a first rate, especially for its length. Our commendations to When Darkness Rises for saying so much in so few words, and exploring the nature of a character who so often goes unnoticed in Pikachu's shadow."
A shower of applause followed up MessengerOfDream's words, especially loud from those authors in the audience who had read When Darkness Rises' contest entry. Darkness herself beamed, noticing that the speech MoD had made in her honor was nearly half the length of her own entry.
"Now, without further ado, the story that placed fourth…" Kattheamazing said.
"Wait a moment… give me the list a sec, will ya?" MessengerOfDreams cut in, reaching over to prise it from her protective grasp.
"No- my list!" she grumbled, before reluctantly allowing it to change hands.
"You forgot who was fourth? I thought you were supposed to be the contest host!" Araceli said, nudging him playfully in the ribs.
"To be fair, I'm kinda fuzzy on this one too," said MouseMaster42, leaning over to glimpse the list herself. "There was some kind of debate over this, wasn't there?"
"Yeah. Something about an unfinished piece…" Kattheamazing said, stroking her chin thoughtfully.
MouseMaster42 broke a grin, clicking her fingers. "Aha, that was Guessworks, right?"
"Yep," said MessengerOfDreams. "In fourth, we have Guessworks' Degenerates."
"Even though it didn't make the entry deadline-" Katheamazing began.
Somewhere in the audience, there arose a loud cough. One which sounded uncannily like the word 'hypocrites.' Araceli L discreetly threw a spontaneous hard-baked cookie in the direction of said cough. From the stage came another cough, a male one that sounded debatably like 'kssmyazz.'
"We still thought it was amazing," MouseMaster42 continued, trying not to appear fazed by the fact that someone in the audience was now complaining about that frickin crazy woman throwing cookies. "We think it may have climbed even higher in the ranks had it been completed, so congrats to Guessworks, who gave us an AU engaging enough to make us want to read more."
"No kidding on that point," Katheamazing said. "All of us were talking about how awesome it was after we'd read it. It's an epic thriller, set from the persepective of Meta Knight after he witnesses a murder in the dead of night. And I know that makes it sound cheesy, but believe me, it isn't. It puts characters you thought you knew in a totally new light while keeping them believable. The writing style is wonderful and the dialogue snappy. It's all we'd expect from Guessworks and more. You had each and every one of the judges hooked, Guessworks."
"Which is why we curse you for not finishing!" MessengerOf Dreams cried, throwing an accusing point in the direction of the author. Poor Guessworks could do little else but shrink back fearfully in her seat.
"I wanted to, believe me…but I was so busy…" she said.
"Excuses, excuses!" Araceli muttered, tapping her foot against the stage.
The 'hypocrite' cough arose once more from the audience. This time MouseMaster42 took the liberty of selecting a particularly solid internet cookie to hurl at the offender, if only to save the judges' reputation.
"Don't worry about it Guessworks, we love you really," Kattheamazing said assuringly. "In fact, we love you so much, you get a special little prize, courtesy of being not-quite-third."
"Behold, the not-quite-third prize!" Messenger of Dreams announced, reaching once again beneath his hat to reveal, gleaming, the offering that MoD had devised at the idea of the four of them. It was an eight-by-ten photo mockup of what seemed to be a cover for the entrant itself, Degenerates.
"So! This is to motivate you to keep writing, Guessworks. It's awesome because now, the site accepts book covers, which it totally didn't last…" he hesitated "when this contest started. So, keep writing!"
Guessworks smiled, walking up to retrieve her picture and then gawk over it. MoD grinned, glad to have another happy customer for his artwork.
Katheamazing picked up again. "And now that we've expressed our gratitude and love for the first three of the top six entries, we'll hand the results back to MessengerOfDreams, our most treasured and beloved contest host, to announce the top three winning entries, which shall receive…wait for it…actual prizes!"
There was a collective gasp from the audience.
MouseMaster42 smiled. "Take it away, MoD!"
MoD stepped up to take the microphone, grinning widely. "Well hello, denizens of FanFiction. So, this is where we find out the big dogs of the contest. I've already kept you waiting for eleven months, so I'll cut to the chase. In third plce is the very unusual 2100ft by Cherry-Sama, starring- by god, you'll never believe this- the Sandbag!"
There was a dead millisecond of silence as the crowd realized the genius of it all and gave reactions varying between congratulatory applause and laughter. Cherry-sama was one of those laughing, although MoD had a feeling it was probably out of embarrassment and surprise.
"Cherry-Sama, I must admit, beat me at my own game," MoD admitted, not at all sheepish. "In a contest for those left behind, she used someone we at the contest left behind- the Sandbag." People started jeering him. "Yeah, yeah, go on; I deserve it, she beat me." He let it ride itself out for a moment before continuing "but, see, that's part of the brilliance. Add to that a snappy point of view with plenty of humor, both subtle and over the top and gratutiously revolving around bag puns, and you have a character piece not quite like any other. It's always great to see a serious message balanced with a light and hopeful point of view, and that's what made Cherry's story grow on me. I'm more than happy to see that she snagged third place!"
The audience cheered and applauded again. Cherry just grinned.
"Now as for your prize," MoD continued. "You will receive a custom-made certificate celebrating your victory via DeviantArt as soon as circumstances allow! I've a smorgasboard of Brawl snapshots used for art pieces and I'll-" he heard more laughter. "Yes, yes, weird hobby, I know," he groaned, not amused. "But yes, you will receive custom artwork with bragging rights about your victory and just how great your story was!"
One last round of applause sounded off before MoD rasied his hand to calm the storm and continue. It wasn't very effective. MoD glanced towards Kat, hoping that she'd have another crackfic way of calming the crowd down. She gave him a cocky grin and stomped on a button in the floor. Immediately, an outpouring of confetti cascaded from a trap door in the ceiling on the right side. It covered the entire room, jarring everyone into a confused mess, although eventually everyone figured out, well of course, who else could possibly be crazy enough to rig a confetti trap in the ceiling.
MoD joined the crowd in looking at her, mouth agape. She just crossed her arms and gave a smirk. "I'm about a mile and a half ahead of you whippersnappers," was all she said. He just rolled his eyes and turned around. Kat could still see that the corner of his mouth was upturned in a smile.
"Anyway, I hope you are all paying attention, because we have two more people to praise! And I'll get right to it, too, as long as you people behave better than Kat over here."
"Should be easy!" someone cried out.
"Mm, good call, you're right," MoD replied. "Well just behave, alright?"
He took a big, long breath. "Anyway, second place with her story Who I Am Hates Who I've Been, let's give it up for a novice… at the time… writer, RedHazeKJ!"
Thankfully, they did indeed give it up for RedHaze, who seemed beyond words, just laughing with wide eyes as the applause and cheers rang through the room. They quieted down enough to let MoD speak again.
"This well-written and poignant piece is written in the style of an interview, with the remorseful interviewee being Donkey Kong who gives a raw interview of his addiction to fame that resulted of his time within the Smash Brothers tournament, and how it changed him. Donkey Kong is among the rarest of famous Nintendo characters to get a spotlight, so to have him written so well with little to no pieces to use as a reference is a strong feat, if I may say so myself. The points are powerful and written with an even hand to keep it from sounding preachy. Overall, it embodies exactly what this contest is about; shedding a spotlight on the characters that get little, even if what you see is far from perfect."
Applause ensued again for another quick moment.
"As for your prize, RedHazeKJ," he continued, "you will also get a customized certificate declaring your second place victory, but you also have the option of exchanging it for a custom book cover for the Fanfiction document. In addition, you will receive a giftfic oneshot from with the characters of your choice, forgotten or mainstream. You can choose a writer, but I can't guarantee they'll be able to work on it due to life and whatnot. I'll promise you this, though; if no one else can, I will."
He smiled, welcoming another long burst of applause for the silver medalist, who looked very elated herself. When it calmed, he looked over the audience, feeling his own heart hammer for the big moment, wondering how he was going to execute it. This was the big moment for him as well; despite such a long wait this contest was his baby and maybe, just maybe, he had a small part in all the wonderful pieces that came out of it.
"Ah, hell with it." He looked straight at a black-haired gentlemen in the front row, dressed in a nice suit that was a definite change from the casual looks of most of the audience. "Souldin, get the hell up here. Surely you had to know you were the winner."
Souldin lit up with a smile. He didn't look shocked, but he looked presently and kept his composure as he walked up onto the stage with MoD.
"Ladies and gentlemen, The Official Winner of The Contest For Those We've Left Behind, Souldin! With his absolutely fantastic piece, An Eternity to Remember!"
The audience brought forth its largest round of cheerful applause. Suddenly, another burst of confetti fell from the ceiling, concentrating on the well-dressed winner and the fedoraed host. He seemed perfectly unfazed, albeit quite amused, while MoD looked as though he was about to drop his heart through his knees. He was grinning widely, though.
He turned over to Kat slowly. "Just how many of those do you have around here?"
"Thirty-seven," she replied without missing a beat. "Don't worry, though, I'll stop here."
MoD didn't even bother replying. He turned towards the mic, brushing confetti out of the way. "I was absolutely mesmerized by Souldin's piece every time I read it. While Souldin is perhaps the most well-known reviewer of the section, his writing skills haven't taken the spotlight it deserves. This piece was written with balanced, elegant dialogue, vivid descriptions and ideas, and a very wise take on immortality. The story itself follows Ganondorf and R.O.B. who are alive hundreds of years past the lifespan of almost everyone else in the Nintendo universe; Ganon through the triforce, R.O.B. through… well, being a robot. Despite the two being on horrid terms from the last time they saw each other, they find company in each other as they reflect on the bittersweet memories and the way they live now. There are many wise words and powerful messages here delivered through the subtle pathos that is a common element in Souldin's writing, and overall it is, to be frank, one of my favorite short stories on the site. Which reminds me; thank God that I finally get to do this at long last."
MoD turned towards Souldin and pointed above his head. To everyone's muted surprise, a menu floated in the air as if it was a computer screen. MoD browsed through the options until he found what he wanted. At last, he said "there! Favorited! And it's well deserved. I actually already have your cover because it was pretty evident to see that this piece was going to take the top spot from about the halfway point of deliberations."
Another brief round of applause took place before MoD continued, "and of course, your prizes. A pretty sweet package, too. Of course, there's the cover that I will send to you as soon as I can. For now, here's the mockup." He gave Souldin an eight-by-ten photo of the cover, and Souldin gave it an impressed look. "In addition, there's the certificate to be made celebrating your victory for you to do whatever with. To round it out, you also will receive an alternate ending for your story written by myself, with your permission of course since I know messing with someone else's story is risky work. Finally, you will receive a oneshot prizefic with the characters of your choice. There's also the chance to turn that prizefic into a collaboration with any author that you can get a hold of; things have changed so much I don't know who's active and who's not. Either way, I'll be around to write."
Once again, he turned to the crowd, taking Souldin's arm and thrusting it in the air. "Ladies and gentlemen, once more, our grand winner Souldin! Everybody give it up for him!"
Both MoD and Souldin were grinning with pride as the applause ensued. Back behind them, the three female hosts looked pretty happy with themselves as well.
Three hours later, after the dust settled and the obviously-secretly-planned-by-Kat-party had finished, the four judges were the only ones, left, accompanied only by a sea of confetti, that was definitely thirty-seven trap doors worth.
MoD was all but bathing in the confetti, eyes closed, head tilted back. "You're cleaning this, Kat," he stated matter-of-factly. "All of it. I hope you know that."
"I have a trap door for that," was the equally ensured reply from the other side of the confetti where Kat was submerged.
"I bet you do," was the mumbled reply.
Araceli sat on the edge of the stage, kicking her feet absentmindedly through the streamers. "You know, this was worth coming back for," she mused.
"It was definitely worth it to have you back," MoD replied, grinning.
"Wow, things have just changed so much!" Mouse stated out loud from the stage, where she was pacing around in a mixture of thoughtfulness and hyperactivity. MoD could understand what she meant; while Kat had stopped writing for awhile and Ace had begun to drift away, Mouse had become the most popular and influential writer in the Smash Brothers Section while MoD stayed about the same as he ever had. Many friends came and went through the section, the departure of old talents being made easier by the arrival of new ones.
MoD was certainly glad he stayed.
"You know what, guys?" he told the others in his crew. "Delays aside, we all did a pretty good job. Created a great concept, got some great pieces, threw a hell of a party and most importantly, didn't give up. We killed it."
"Damn straight," Araceli replied, eyes shining.
"Woot!" A fist popped through the confetti where Kat was determined to be at.
"So," Ace brought up, "what do you think this will mean for the less popular Smashers?"
A bit of contemplative silence filled the room. Even Kat popped her head out of the confetti and made eye contact with the others.
"Well, I'm not sure," MoD told them. "It takes a long time to make a Smash Brothers game, as you all know. Brawl came out in '08, and Melee in '01. It could be a few years before we truly know. We can only hope we made the best case we could."
"May Sakurai be with us," Kat nodded somberly. She turned to walk towards a table with an open box of cookies under it, but tripped on a table leg. "Ow!" she cried, kicking the table.
"There's our sign," Ace cracked dryly. "Sakurai is indeed with us."
Mouse laughed, looking over at MoD with a smile. She was surprised to see that his eyes were open, and that he was looking back at her. He smiled back.
"I hereby retire the moniker Modacelimazing42," MoD announced. "Until next time, friends."
A/N Well, that's the game. Well, no, technically The Game is Mouse's legendary work, but you know what I mean. Many congrats to all six who placed, but most of all to Souldin. I've been itching to tell you for awhile now.
As for the prizes, I'll get started on the covers. I'm on a new computer so I'm still getting my bearings, but they should be out soon enough. As I said, knowing he was going to place high, Souldin's is ready.
As is usual, the chapter was written by the Modacelimazing42 crew in unity. Don't hold anything against any of us for the late return; life just gets in the way and I certainly couldn't have asked for a better crew to host a contest with.
Thanks for waiting and sticking around. I hope it was worth it for you too as it was for me.