"Your love is my turning page. Only the sweetest words remain."
~Sleeping at Last, Turning Page
After two months and thirteen days, I can breathe again without feeling the crushing pain of loss. It's a cascading relief to feel normal again. I'm thankful and inspired for the help my comrades gave me. A concept comes to me for our miniature society. I spend awhile obsessively creating a plan from it.
After three months and five days, I decide to gather the hunters for a meeting, with an important subject in mind. I involve Mayor Handler, who invites us to the gala hall. I feel uncomfortable there, but the lights are bright and the spirit is one of warmth and unity, so I'm okay. Apparently an aspiring chef, Peach leads a handful of cooks to create a nice dinner for us. The chicken and mashed potatoes taste like perfection. I send my compliments.
It's there that I bring forth my plan, as large as anything I've ever done. I want to unite the freelance hunters together as one orchestrated group, with a new structure, a unified group, rules to operate by and the opportunity to work together. I clarify that I know how drastic of a change this is, so I gathered everyone, including the mayor, for an open forum.
It's a mixed reaction at first, with some supporting it, some against it and others indecisive. Handler pledges his support just so long as his authority is recognized. Mel is eagerly for it, full of ideas. Wolf is against it, and despite my respect for him, I know it's because it requires him to let go of his double-agency. Nevertheless, the spark is there, and it carries.
It's seven months and twenty-eight days until plans are finalized and we execute them. The Hunter's Society of Junction City, currently at thirty-two members, will work as an independent jurisdiction with Handler as a chair. I lead the board of directors, with Mario as a third chair. We begin to craft a code of conduct for the hunters within it. Handler insists on keeping the moratorium on killing without absolute necessity. I insist that all requested targets run through myself or Mario before being pursued. Otherwise, hunters are given freedom and combined resources from our community. Handler gives us a large building to operate from, making us an official part of the city, and opposition is less pronounced with the structure we have created. We all meet on a regular basis and learn from each other. Finally, we open registration for future hunters, increasing the force.
Our official badges are blue and orange. Samus' favorite colors.
Nine months and twenty-two days in, I realize that I have to talk to Wolf. I bring him in to meet with me, expecting the worst. I try to remain calm as I accuse him, the man who helped me through my grief, of continuing unauthorized work from crime bosses. He's been drinking heavily again, and it makes him livid. He accuses me of destroying the honor of our society, turning us into a bureaucracy, working for my own gain, none of which he truly means. What he does mean is when, to gain leverage, he asks me if I know how much I owe him.
Immediately, I know my reply. "Yes... and this is me repaying that debt."
He stops, and is quiet for a full minute before saying "Understood, Captain," without sarcasm. I dismiss him on leave for a month. He doesn't come back, checking himself into rehab. He says he'll be back on the job someday, but I wonder if he'd be better off retiring. I think he's had enough and won't admit it. Nevertheless, I visit him regularly as he did for me.
Eleven months and two days afterward, in the holiday season, Mel asks if I can meet up with her in Crossroads Park. To me, that place still belongs to Samus, so I recommend a nice nature park on the outskirts. I can tell things are different and already have a sneaking suspicion of what she wants, but I don't press on as we explore some of the trails within the park.
She's settled down lately, but her spirit is still loud enough to fill the snowy forests. She talks a lot about everything and I'm happy to make conversation with her. It's different than it was with Samus, who said little but meant a lot. Mel can talk for hours and interest me with everything she says, whether it bears any weight or not.
It's a couple of hours until we leave the park and she finally takes a deep breath and asks me if she could treat me to a nice meal at her favorite diner. I know the implications this has and the way this will likely change our relationship. It's a big request, and I tell her that I'm honestly uncertain. When she responds almost apologetically, explaining that she wanted to wait a few months for me to be at peace with Samus' death, I realize how much she means this, and it means a lot to me. I take the risk and accept. She beams, grinning wider than I've ever seen her before.
Eleven months and eight days afterward, we meet. There's no awkwardness on our first date, because I know Mel and we already have established a dynamic. It'll be different than it was with Samus, but I'm at peace with that. I enjoy Mel's company, her humor and her spirit. I enjoy her. When we leave (she insists on paying, saying she doesn't consider it just a gentlemen's duty) I realize I'm glad I made this decision. I feel a relief that I've moved on without any guilt.
As of now, it's been a year, two months and fifteen days since Samus' death. It's a new normal now, because the tragedy started a domino effect that led me somewhere new. I still miss her, but it's too far underneath the surface to burn me any longer. I can appreciate her memory now. It was her life that inspired me to create the Society. As much as I derided it at the time, her memorial and the hunters' presence helped me to not only recover, but improve life, for all of us.
Samus taught me how to be strong, and she gave her life for Junction City, for the hunters, for myself. She was wrong about this; she truly was selfless. I've always felt a need to make sure it was worth it somehow. I'd like to think I have. I'd like to think that she's proud of me and that she's happy for me. Of course, all I can do is think.
With every day I go, her death ceases to haunt me, because her life has helped me recover.
It's the reminder that I'm alive, and I'm grateful for every moment.
~Authors' Note Initial~
I promised a large ending author's note... but what can be said that hasn't already been said?
I wanted to write something that would challenge me, not only on an experience level but on an emotional level. That's really the key word, challenge. I challenged myself to face my fears head-on, those nagging doubts, those pipe nightmares, losing the train of thought as it derails into potential yet unlikely tragedy. I'm not sure if you've gathered this, because I've written so much about it, but I'm terrified of death. And as it's been said in the story, not so much of mine as of those I love and care about. And it's very, very complicated, and honestly I'm not sure why I decided to write something that was honestly sort of painful to write, but I felt an unshakable urge to, so I did. I've written stories that I haven't understood the weight of until time passed, and I think that will be the case here.
Either way, I don't think I've been quite as proud of my writing as I have before. Memento Vita is my masterpiece.
I want to thank you all for your support through your reviews and critique. You've all been very helpful and encouraging, and it's made me feel more validated as an author than I've ever been before. My membership at the Reviews Lounge too saw me grow from a teenager to an adult, and you've helped me feel validated as both a young man and a mature author.
I want to reserve special thanks to those who have read all six chapters. Sort of a hall of fame, so to speak.
Tune4toons, who helped me understand her more just as much as she learned of herself from this gift.
RedheadedMarina for your unceasingly kind words and how you made me feel excellent on a level even further than before.
IrishPanther for swiftly and loyally reviewing all five chapters beforehand via Review Tag.
Dominus Tenebrosus for your helpful advice, willingness to be honest and in general the help you've provided.
ReadingBlueWolf for the lovely and impactful words of praise you've given, especially since I am a huge fan of your work. Sorry for the tears!
MadameGiry for swiftly following the work after starting, catching things I didn't and being the sixth and latest person to finish all six chapters.
Thank you all for following this from start to finish. Should anyone else find their way here, rest assured I'm thankful for any and all reviews I receive. Memento Vita is my first work out of nearly sixty to reach RLt Graduation Standards, and that is perhaps the cherry on top of all that this work has given me.
Formerly this had all gone into scattered authors' notes but I've cleaned those up and decided to place them all here.
1) Memento Vita is Latin for "Remember Life."
2) The inclusion of Wolf is inspired by how Tune is both a big fan of the character and her own use of him in her fan-fiction works.
3) The play in the third chapter actually happened for me in the second grade, and yes, I was Pedro. And a budding show-off. And the girl playing Martina really could not stand me. She actually shook her head in the wedding ceremony part whilst reluctantly saying "I do." I was not the popular kid in my class, haha. Of course, my details are about a decade fuzzy so the little details may be off but largely they are pretty clear, because that moment was nevertheless highly awesome.
4) I often have voices of actors in my head for the characters in my stories. Captain Falcon's often changes. In Samskeyti it was Patrick Warburton. Here, for some reason, he's Louis CK. Strange, yes, I know. Samus, however, is certainly Katey Sagal. Especially after Sons of Anarchy, which she does incredibly in. I highly recommend that show; not many shows can engage me from the pilot like that one did. So if you ever re-read it, here's a little bonus game of 'Good news, everyone! You have read this entire segment in Professor Farnsworth's voice!'
5) Two stories that inspired this, besides the general tone of Tune4Toons, are two of the most famous fanfics I've come across. The subject of death and the one closest to the deceased left behind is inspired to an extent by Alone On The Water by MadLori (Sherlock) and the subject of moving on after tragedy is inspired by hgfan11's Letters From The Sky in the Hunger Games' section.
6) Most of it, however, is inspired by my own fears, thoughts and beliefs, as are most of my stories. Most of everything I write is overwhelmingly personal but I often have inspiration from other places.
~And the Disclaimer, Once More~
As usual, I own nothing, regret nothing and let them forget nothing. The Super Smash Bros version is essentially a melting pot of Nintendo characters from every major universe and several smaller ones. It's become the template for many works Nintendo Crossover without relegating it to that section, as it is here. Unlike many Nintendo games, canon here is very thin and often negligible, as the SSB games don't have any story save for the Subspace Emissary game-within-a-game from Brawl. There is very little canon to follow so most of it is by my own construction.
Furthermore, this is an Alternate Universe story, which either re-formats the Universe the source is set in or creates a whole new one. I've done the latter here; the idea of Super Smash Bros doesn't exist, but the roster has been used in reference many times as a society of bounty hunters, to keep with the general theme of this story. Samus from Metroid, Captain Falcon from F-Zero and Wolf from Star Fox are actually bounty hunters in their respective games' canon, which is what inspired the story.
Mel Yoshita is somewhat of an original character, but she is largely a recurring character that is a reinterpretation of our lovable Yoshi. Mayor Handler is also a reinterpretation of an SSB original character, Master Hand, the in game creator of the universe that is essentially a giant hand. Here, they're both human.
I hope you've enjoyed it thus far and continue to do so.
~Again, thanks to everyone who has read and assisted in this work for their help, encouragement, praise and vindication.~
...guess I had a lot to say after all.