Disclaimer: Brawl belongs to Nintendo. Not me.

Note: My first work of fanfiction to hit 10K words! :D This -revised- update is worth it, wouldn't you say? *cackles*

Chapter 11: A Deeper Evil

Meta Knight inhaled deeply as he, Samus, Bowser, and Jigglypuff were teleported to DK's Treetop temple. As much as he hated to admit it, he was afraid of what could happen - not to him, but to the other Smashers. The small swordsmen had a gut feeling that the Party members were not the only ones in danger, and at this thought, he gripped the hilt of his sword more tightly than ever.

To his right, Samus was looking around, calculating, measuring her probability of passing the many barrels (one of which was right on a blue space not far in front of them), banana peels, and visible traps that her blue eyes could see. More important, she mused, are the traps we cannot see. And there are bound to be plenty of those.

Bowser was steel-faced, muttering what could be assumed to be spells under his breath. Having ruled this board before, he knew what evil lie in his spaces ahead; he had warned the others of these trick spaces that could cost them. He also advised that anyone who landed upon one be on their guard, insisting that they heighten their defenses in the circumstance that Crazy Hand probably put more magic on them than Bowser could prevent.

Jigglypuff could not be read. Her eyes were void of all feeling, her lips pursed in a tense, concentrative way. She was praying with all her might that everything be okay, for this Party to be the one to save Marth, despite the fact that she knew nothing was ever that simple. Sighing, she took in her surroundings, trying to plan for what was ahead.

Samus was the first to go. Rolling a '7', she managed to pass the first barrel with ease, and landed on a red space. She smiled at Meta Knight, who was second to go. He ended up being one space ahead of her, which was blue - he shrugged and silently wished his companion the best of luck in the first minigame.

Jigglypuff ended up landing on a red space, as did Bowser. They, along with Samus, teamed up against Meta Knight in a game called Pirahna's Pursuit. The team pounded on the storm cloud, causing their pirahna to grow as it gave chase to the Dreamland denizen, who skateboarded his way over logs, rocks, and other fallen jungle debris.

The game ended in success, and soon Samus was making progress upon the board again.

Cheers erupted in the lounge as twenty turns passed with no harm inflicted upon the Party members. "Go, Samus, go!" Wolf yelled as he whistled. "Yeah!"

So far, everyone was neck-and-neck in a fierce tie. They all competed like champions.

Link and Ike whooped for Meta Knight, swords held high, as numerous outbursts for Bowser and Jigglypuff came about so that specific remarks could no longer be heard.

Just as all was going well, time was suspended in the Party.

Pikachu screamed.

Crazy Hand's palm covered the television screen. "Hello again," he greeted them with a cackle. "The Treetop Temple? Nice choice... Tell me, who shall I take today? It's your all's choice. You have sixty seconds."

"What kind of game are you playing at!" Sonic yelled. "This is dangerous, Crazy Hand - don't you know what can happen!"

"Yes," a hiss replied. "I know exactly what I'm doing - you have ten seconds, or I choose."

No one said anything else for fear of provoking him and for fear of their companions. They did not know what would happen if they chose, or what would happen if they didn't. It seemed that Smash Mansion was in the same state as the Party board - frozen, suspended in time.

"Fine then. I shall take Jigglypuff!"

Lightning struck the board, allowing the participants to be unfrozen. Bowser's magic had allowed his mind to be free while the others were suspended, so immediately knew what had happened. "No! No, no, no, no, no!" He slammed his fist into a tree.

"Bowser?" Samus's voice called him. "What happened - WHERE'S JIGGLYPUFF?"

Incoherent curses were the Koopa King's only reply.

Meta Knight panicked before turning his cape to wings and flying fast, searching the entirety of their location for the pink Pokemon. He couldn't see her anywhere. "No... Jigglypuff! Jigglypuff, answer me! JIGGLYPUFF!"

The sound of his sobs was the only thing that could be heard as the three remaining Smashers returned.

As the chamber door to the Party Wing opened, Meta Knight fell onto the carpet in a heap. Samus gently picked him up and set him onto the couch. His hands covered his masked eyes, and it was all he could do to keep from hurting himself.

A pair of small, caring arms wrapped around him as he cried. Zelda was rubbing his back, whispering calming phrases to him, and he eventually relaxed. When he met the Hyrulian princess's eyes, he knew that she understood his pain better than anyone else.

"You love him?" he asked her simply.

"As much as you love her," she answered back. Standing, she addressed the other Smashers. "As of tonight, we have lost two of our comrades, both of whom are loved infinitely. I don't know about you, but I refuse to lose anyone else!"

Yells of agreement went up. "But how are we going to get them back?" asked Diddy Kong.

Bowser stood. "Crazy Hand has a stronger magic than any I've ever come across. He has used a well-layered system of spells to make us believe that we could save Marth by going into that world... We can't! And there are deeper, darker lies than that hidden in his magic; the only way to counter his magic is to go back in - "

"What?" Yoshi asked. "Are you insane!"

"It's the only way. Crazy Hand's magic is wearing him down. When his time suspension levels out, we can start working on uprooting his darker spells and getting to the root of what him and Tabuu are planning. Crazy Hand's is some of the darkest spell-work I've seen; this goes beyond ruling the universes... Something truly demented is afoot."

In another dimension, howls of pain echoed throughout . "Stop! Please!" Jigglypuff begged. "We didn't do anything to you - OW!" an invisible blow interrupted her sentence.

Marth was also struggling against his chains. "Crazy Hand, I don't know what you're up to, but you are sick! Stop this madness!"

"What makes you so sure that you're addressing Crazy Hand?"