A/N: Well, here we are, the fourth installment in my series of Sonic/Zelda crossovers, following our irrepressible thief and mischievous younger brother to Sonic, none other than Manic himself, as he eventually gets around to the events of Minish Cap. I was going to try to wait a while before I gave this to you, to at least try to give myself a break if nothing else - but inspiration happened and I had to write it while I had it.

Since Manic, unlike the other Heroes so far, is from the Animeverse rather than the games I'm more familiar with, I don't have quite so much to work with as usual. Reading up about him has provided me a start, and I've picked up ideas that work well with him from various places, but there'll be differences. Hopefully it won't detract from the story too much.

For those of you who for whatever reason chose not to read Silver Demons and thus missed out on a few events, all you really missed is Manic's arrival and his suggestion to Silver that he take Sonic to the world of Wind Waker Hyrule - and Sonic's tale there has yet to be told.

Like usual, I don't own any of the Sonic or Zelda stuff - just the odd non-canonical tidbits here and there which help improve the story experience.

And now, let's dive into the latest epic tale. As always, enjoy!

Rusl set down the drinks on the table, carefully avoiding letting any of them catch Shad's latest literary work, a work Auru was proof-reading for him along with critical remarks. He'd heard the Princess Zelda had commissioned Shad to work on something, but what it was had until now escaped him.

Auru glanced up as Rusl took his seat, making another mark on the current sheet of the project, then finally spoke in his quiet voice.

"He's writing about Heroes," he told Rusl. "And I've been drafted in to make it worthy of the Princess's own library."

"Just a shame she asked me after Tails left," Shad murmured, not looking up as he absently reached for the drink. "There's a lot of his story we still don't know. Ashei's been trying to help, but we have no idea what happened in the Temples."

"Not to mention this Silver he's written about," Auru noted. "He's the Hero directly before our Tails, and there's quite a bit about him. A lot of it is distorted by time, though."

"Happened across a few people back in Ordon before I came here," Rusl said conversationally. "They were a little bogged down by the children, but I gather they're not far behind me. I think they might be able to help you out a little."

"I hope someone can, or we won't have an accurate idea of any Hero," Shad replied. "I'd like to have Tails himself, but-"

"Telma!" a voice exclaimed from the bar. "You're as bad as Bo! At this rate I'm going to end up with a cracked rib every time I visit!"

Auru chuckled to himself as Shad looked up sharply, then over to the bar where the familiar twin-tailed fox was squeezing out of Telma's massive hug. Not far away from him were a collection of the other strange creatures from Tails' land, some known, some not, and all bearing some variation of the Hero's green.

Rusl knew them all from their arrival in Ordon, and some from before. Sonic and Knuckles had both accompanied Tails, but it appeared both of them had since become Heroes. Two green hedgehogs also bore green, and both had a resemblance to Sonic, but they were different – one seemed to be stuck perpetually scowling and wore a black jacket, while the other looked impudently mischievous. Leaning on the wall beyond them while Tails introduced them all was another hedgehog who had the same colouration as his name, Silver, suggested.

"You're not serious?" Telma asked. "All of them?"

"Well, all except Scourge there," Sonic replied. "He made a pest of himself while Silver was playing Hero. He's not actually a Hero though."

"Just as well too," Scourge said. "I don't have it in me to be a goody two-shoes like you lot."

"Watch it!" the younger green hedgehog, introduced as Manic, warned him. His hand went to the handle of his own sword, and Scourge shrank back.

"Make him stop that, Sonic," Scourge complained.

"What makes you think he's going to listen to me?" Sonic replied.

Silver had been watching with amusement, but caught Rusl's eye and sighed, rolling his eyes skyward and shaking his head. "If you children have finished playing," he said. "Maybe we should pay a visit to Tails' friends over there? They seem to recognise you," he added to Tails.

"Rusl, Shad, Auru and... no Ashei?" Tails asked as he introduced them to the Heroes.

"She's got a job whipping the palace guard into shape," Rusl told him. "And going and doing research when she gets annoyed with her recruits."

"Research? For what?"

"Into you, little friend," Shad told him. "The Princess asked me to write a report on Heroes, and as much as we know about you, we're still missing a lot. Not to mention your friends too..." he went on, looking thoughtful.

"Wait for it," Rusl murmured to Auru.

"I don't suppose you'd all care to help me make this report as accurate as it can be?" Shad asked hopefully.

"There it is," Auru laughed. "He was bound to say it. Might I make a suggestion? We have a lot of Tails' and Silver's down, so why don't we ask them to look over theirs, while we listen to another of them?"

"That works well for us, doesn't it?" Manic observed. "We've all heard their stories already, and we already agreed it was my turn. Know which Hero I am yet?"

"Ah..." Shad said hesitantly, then dug into the stack of parchment sheets, scanning through them quickly.

"Other stack," Auru told him. "Second chapter."

Shad mumbled thanks, tidying the stack and moving to another one, picking out one sheet.

"Ah. Here it is. You're the one who came just before Silver, though we don't have enough information to tell exactly how far before. King Daltus asked you to save his daughter, an earlier Princess Zelda, who had been turned to stone, and you set out in search of the mysterious Minish." He scanned ahead some more and went on, "We've got a few details here and there, but not enough to warrant an entire section to yourself. Of course, you could help change that," he added.

Silver absently waved one hand to bring several chairs floating through the air, to the surprise of Telma and them all. Silver winked at her, but said nothing.

Once they'd all seated themselves, Silver and Tails already reading through Shad's chronicle of their own stories – Silver already making notes on a separate sheet – Manic looked around, then apparently satisfied said, "Alright, lets get this started. One epic tale of Heroics and some not so Heroic stuff, a tale of annoying a lot of people along the way including the so-called Master Wind Mage Vaati, who hates me completely for what I did to him." He was smirking openly by the time he finished.

Shad quickly uncorked a fresh pot of ink and dipped a quill into it, poised to start taking down Manic's words.

"Oh, before I begin," Manic said, apparently recalling something. "Hey, Silver. You know you and Knuckles were wondering about Link? Listen up, 'cause I got the answer for you."

Looks like it's my turn, eh? I make no excuses or attempt to conceal what I am – among other things, a liar, braggart and a thief. Best to get that out in the open right off. I can steal almost anything, pick any lock, and lie myself into and out of any kind of trouble you care to name.

My long standing past-time means I move about a great deal, since you can't really stay in one place for too long before someone starts to suspect you, and I've got a knack for telling when that time is.

So, while I never actually intended to go to Hyrule, I nevertheless did. I was guided there though. On one of my travels between two of the more familiar towns I frequent I came across an ornate temple by the roadside that I swear hadn't been there before – but that didn't mean someone hadn't learned how to create things quickly, and it also didn't mean it wasn't fair game to see what it had available for an enterprising young thief.

The entire thing was sheathed inside and out with marble, which looks pretty but is kinda hard to steal. Designs and murals decorated the walls, depicting the adventure of a suspiciously familiar red figure in green, fighting all manner of stylized monsters in similarly stylized scenes.

There were no side routes or chambers in the temple, which was curious because normally there's always at least somewhere for stuff to be hidden. The only place to hide here was behind the altar, and that was out of the question because of the tall human youth leaning on it – also wearing green, and making the idea of stealing the golden altar ornaments unworkable.

"You wouldn't be able to take them past the door anyway," he told me without any preamble, not even looking up. He brushed aside a lock of blonde hair that had been covering his eyes, and looked me over. "Mind you, seeing your nature, I wouldn't be surprised to find you'd try anyway. Think you'd be up for helping me out a bit?"

"What, you think I'm some kinda mercenary?" I replied. "I don't work for money, I work for me and steal the money."

"Yes, I know," the youth chuckled. "You'll have plenty of chances to exercise that. But I've noticed you've become fairly familiar in this region, and there's a few people who'll notice you, and the place I need you has no idea who you are, Manic."

A temple that wasn't there before in the middle of nowhere and a youth who knows me that I know I've never met? Definitely suspicious.

"I know I've never stolen from you," I told him, clearly showing how suspicious I was treating this. "And I don't even know who you are. But you definitely know me."

"You can call me Link," he replied calmly. "And if you want to get right down to the truth of the matter, I'm a god. A rather reluctant one, I'll admit, but the others didn't really leave me any choice. I watch over the land of Hyrule, and ensure that whenever the need arises, there is someone there waiting in the wings, who'll become the Hero of that generation."

"And you got me."

"No, Manic. I picked you. I always choose my Heroes. Just most of the time I never make it known. I doubt there's any other way I could convince you to go along with this though, so I put in a personal appearance."

His offer was only marginally less suspicious – anyone who claims they're a god needs their head looked at, after all – but it was interesting all the same. He had it right, I was getting a little bit too well-known, and ideally I needed a new market to break into, so to speak.

So I gave him the first question any good thief should ask. "What's in it for me?"

"Knowing you, anything you come across that catches your interest. Try not to lose sight of the main goal though, Manic. You'll meet someone along the way who'll help you with that, though I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell him about me. I don't really need followers at all, and most people mistake me for some God of Heroes or something. I'm just Hyrule's guardian deity. Anyway. Will you do this?"

"Do what? All you've told me is that you need a Hero, and you've picked me."

"I can't tell you too much in advance, Manic," Link said in a pained tone. "If I do that you'll change how things are supposed to happen. I'll nudge events in the right direction if I have to, but ideally you're supposed to use your own initiative."

"Won't work," I insisted. "Gotta give me something to work with. You don't give me something, I'll go do my own thing."

"Manic!" he protested. "You can't seriously be trying to bargain with me, are you?"
"Why not? You want me to do this, you haven't offered me anything I'm not already gonna get. You gotta do something to persuade me, else I'm just gonna ignore you."

Link stared at me and sighed. "Why do I always pick the difficult ones? Alright Manic, I'll tell you the start of it. A respected Minish sorcerer created a cap that would bestow immediate magical power upon whoever wore it, intending it to be given to the local Hylians – or humans, to you – as a gift. His apprentice Vaati stole it instead, and will soon enter into a tournament at Hyrule Castle in an attempt to secure the divine light power the Goddess Hylia bestowed a very long time ago. He's looking in completely the wrong place, but he'll persevere and soon enough he'll find the right place."

"You just want me to stop him?" I asked. Link nodded. "So, what's to stop me just nicking this hat off him and running off?"

"For one thing, Vaati would never let you get that close, and for another he's used its own magic to prevent it working for anyone else," Link replied. "Besides, the other gods would be yelling at me for years if I let that happen," he added wryly. "They don't like it when I make things too easy. I hope you don't want too much more, Manic, because if I give you more-"

"I'll make things happen different," I finished. "Lets say I'll go along with you – for now. If I change my mind, I'll be back here."

"You can't do that. This place only exists when and where I need it to be. If you're going to do this, the moment you leave you'll be in Hyrule, and my temple won't reappear until after you're done – unless you want to find your own way."

"Well, listen out then Link, 'cause if I change my mind, you'll have to come set up shop and start convincing me all over again then," I told him.

"Do you have any idea how many rules I'd break doing that? Even gods have their rules you know."

"Rules are there to be broken," I told him airily. "I should know, I do it all the time."

"I give up," Link laughed. "Alright you little thief, if that's what it takes to make you do some good for me, I'll listen out in case you ever change your mind along the way. Now why don't you run along and see how long you can go without stealing something?"

I smirked at him and held out a handful of rupees – though back then, I thought they were just gemstones. "Way ahead of you, Link," I told him.

Link stared at me in consternation, then reached for the small leather pouch that had been hanging off his belt – and had a neat little slit in the bottom.

"Only you," he sighed. "Go on, take them. You'll need some currency," he told me, then briefly explained the rupee system Hyrule used. In the handful I'd just stolen from him I had quite a large fund already, but then if I had that, it'd take all the fun out of stealing more, so I handed it back to him.

"I'll get my own," I told him. "Don't expect me to give anything else back though."

"No, I don't expect you would," he sighed again. "Before you go though, one other thing – something I give all my Heroes at some point." He reached out and touched my shoulder, focusing briefly, then the green clothes everyone sees me wearing now, my own Hero's outfit – except for the cap, which I'll get to later – replaced what I'd been wearing. "Now go on – and try not to steal everything, will you?"

"Don't be silly, that's what I always do!"

"I know," he grimaced. "Believe me, I know."