Author's Note: This is a Shurpuff work, done by Shurpuff, nephew of Merlin, owner of this account, which used with his permission.

Xenoblade Chronicles belong to its awesome creators!

Anyway, this is just a small little addition, sort of like a small burst of activity as I work on my main fanfiction project. Progress on that is a bit slow because of all my school stuff. This little one took a whole week to finish. *sigh*


**Colony 9?**


"No talk… Monapon…"


"Mmm… But I… kkkkk… Shulk really did cross the streams, mister Dickson sir, honest…"


"Huh?" The blonde-furred nopon jerked awake, the force of his violent awakening banging his head against the railing he'd been sleeping in. He groaned, rubbing the sore spot with one wing. He turned around.

"Fiora?" There stood her friend, looking as plump and lovely as ever, like a piece of succulent jungle fruit from Makna. Shulk could see a large wool bag behind her, almost her height and width.

"Is bad manners to sleep right before eating, Shulk!" said Fiora in a chiding tone.

"Shulk sorry, Fiora! Shulk very tired!"

"That's because Shulk work too much in lab! Shulk find time to be healthy, normal nopon! Then Shulk wouldn't sleep before important dates!"

"Dates?" said Shulk, looking a little puzzled.

Fiora cleared her throat, and now fussed with the bag she'd brought. "Now no time! Time to eat!"

"Yay! Thanks very much Fiora!" Shulk attempted to hug Fiora with his wings, but Fiora shooed him off, saying, "Food time, Shulk!" She proceeded to lay out a cloth over the grass, before doling out the containers of food from within the bag onto it.

It was only the two of them in Outlook Park, as it usually was during workdays, when every daddypon was too tired from work to bring his family of pons out of the main Colony for a nice picnic. Shulk, Fiora, their other friend Reyn along with the other juviepons had played at the Park constantly in the past; Reyn even called it "Courage Cliff" for the numerous dares the nopons would give each other involving jumping off the railing and gliding as far as they could over the water before making the loudest splash. The name stuck, with the littlepons afterwards using it for their own dares, to the consternation of many older nopons who waggled their wings disapprovingly.

"This great, Fiora! Thanks again for the food!" Without delay, the hungry nopon opened his hungry mouth and started chomping noisily.

"Shulk is welcome!" Fiora said, beaming. "How is caterpile stew?"

"Delicious!" he replied, slurping.

"Bigbird omelettes?"


"Armu steaks?"


"Shulk, is there anything not delicious for you?" Fiora demanded, bopping her friend lightly on the heaad.

"I can't help it, Fiora!" Shulk protested through a mouthful of food. "Everything Fiora make so tasty! Everypon in Colony know that! Shulk hear someone say Dunban very lucky to have you as sister! You make good catch—though Shulk don't know what 'catch' means, because Fiora is way too fast for even Reyn to catch up…"

"Ahahaha…" Fiora's laughter trailed off, a little awkwardly. Shulk ate on eagerly in silence. There was no lie in what he said. He thought Fiora really did make good food. He thought Dunban really was lucky. Fiora was very good friend. Fiora best friend. He thought Fiora was one of the best nopon in all of Biopon.

Fiora was…






"Shulk? What's wrong? Is it the food?" asked the Fiora of not-long-ago, her whole body still wondrously whole.

But that's wrong…




Sunlight. Joining the sight of blue skies was the tickling feeling of grasstips on his fur. Shulk blinked, sitting up and wiping the wetness from his eyes.

**Biopon Leg**

Right across the clearing of flattened grass stalks was his friend Reyn, looking quite worried as he peeked through a green curtain of grass.

"Something happened, Shulk? You were yelling… Is it like before? At cave?"

"No, Shulk alright, Reyn," Shulk said. He stood, facing away from his friend to peer out over the field of grass stalks whose height the two of them could barely reach. A loud growling caused them both to stiffen. Reyn groaned.

"Reyn still hungry?" Shulk asked, smiling.

"Reyn still hungry," Reyn said, grumbling.

Truth be told, even Shulk was hungry. They'd been just a day's march from Biopon's Kneecap before they reached a Frontier nopon who'd set up camp at the entrance to the Gaur plains, which was the threshold of Biopon's leg. The Frontier nopon had flat out refused to sell them food, saying he hadn't had much chance to resupply at Colony 6, not since he had seen ominous signs from the migration of birds and sky-topping smoke that something had happened over there. They'd wanted to ask more, but the nopon had been at the point of packing up his camp for Colony 9.

The old merchant had, however, offered to sell them his trinkets. "Stupid weird Frontierpon!" Reyn had said. "We can't eat trinkets!"

And so, another day's march on and their supplies, although saved from the stupid giant spiders, had not survived Reyn's appetite.

Adding to their hunger was their current situation: they were lost. The maps Shulk had read up back at Colony 9 had made mention of their seeing some Colony 6 Patrols on the main road—a road which had already become overgrown with grass—so as to guide them to the other Colony. The road simply disappeared after a few hundred yards. In addition Shulk had, in his haste, also forgotten to take a copy of the map with him, and the two nopon were hopeless when it came to feeling their way through the land.

"Fiora best at hunting, not Shulk," Reyn complained. Shulk shuddered at the mention of their friend's name, though he hoped Reyn hadn't seen. Instead, he touched the cold handle of the Monapon slung behind him.

"Reyn not helping too! Reyn can't hunt!" Shulk pointed out. They'd spotted some ardun grazing, which was out of the question: too much effort for hard meat needing much beating, and they'd probably lose. Then they'd scented some volffs on the hunt, which Reyn vehemently refused, calling their meat foul and stinky. From far off they could hear water: water meant fish, but they could also scent stinky bigtoads, which was just plain gross. Their other resort was in the armu herds; they'd spent an hour stalking one who'd seemed to stray from its herd. But then an ardun had come along, grunting and stamping its feet, perhaps sensing the nopons nearby, and then they'd lost that chance.

"Reyn sooo hungry…" Reyn muttered. After Shulk woke up, they made their way back to the road. "Reyn think grass tasty now."

"Grass not bad," Shulk remarked. He ripped several stalks and began sucking on the stems. Reyn stared at him sidelong for a few moments and laughed as Shulk spat the grass out. "Needs to be in soup."

"Plant only good for show! Better to eat meat!"

"Reyn need leaf and root and stem to grow!" Shulk said, echoing what Dunban had once remarked to his friend. Reyn sniffed, flicking the waving stalks angrily with a wing.

"And yet Reyn more bigger and stronger than anyone..."

And just before Shulk could stick his elbow into Reyn's flabby side, the two nopon stiffened. A familiar scent had reached their noses: a smokey smell coming from a dirty fire, a fire made using unnatural fuel. A fire that could only have been made by nopon-or mek-mek. The two instantly alternated jumping and standing at the tip of their toes, swiveling their bodies this way and that to get a view over the grass. This lasted a few jumps before Shulk firmly held Reyn down and jumped on top of the latter's head.

"Over there!" After pointing in the direction of the smoke he saw, Shulk jumped off and charged swiftly through the grass. Reyn stumbled after him. They ran with haste; for the scent had an awful familiarity to it, almost similar to all the burning they'd had to extinguish back in Colony 9.

They arrived upon another clearing, just a few feet away from the road, and found a disordered mess of a campsite surrounding the smokey fire, where a small nopon was bustling and bouncing. When they got closer, they saw it was a round, brunette-furred juviepon.

"Hello Friend! May we help you?" asked Shulk. In response to that, the nopon yelped, whirling about and shooting one round from the gun in his hand, causing the two to duck.

"Hey, be careful with that moron!" shouted Reyn.

"Peace! Peace! Friends are friends!" said Shulk.

"Very very sorry Friends!" The nopon said, apologizing. He tossed the gun away. They moved to put out the smoke, Reyn kicking copious amounts of dust onto it. After a while the fire disappeared, and the cough-making smoke was no longer fed.

"This Reyn, I Shulk," said Shulk by way of introduction.

"I Juju," said the nopon, bowing to what he saw were his elders. "Juju from Colony 6 nopon..."-at this his face fell- "When Colony 6 was Colony 6."

"What Juju mean?" asked Reyn.

"Something happen to Colony?" asked Shulk. From what that merchant had said, something had really happened to their sister Colony.

"Mek-mek came..." Juju said in a whisper. "Destroyed everything... Everything! Everypon... eaten..." Their wings made a collective droop.

"Stupid mek-meks!" Reyn growled. "They pay for this!"

"Is Juju only survivor?" asked Shulk, wide-eyed.

"Juju and Sharla-Juju sister-got a few nopon out. Old pon Otharon told Juju and Sharla to run and run, while Defense Force get gob-gob-gobbled up-"

"It's okay. Reyn and Shulk understand," said Reyn placatingly.

"How can you understand?" Juju demanded with an angry shout.

"Mek-meks attack Colony 9 too," said Shulk bitterly. The thought of Fiora made his eyes sting.

"Mek-meks eat many of Friends," continued Reyn, "But mek-mek run away like scared orluga! Dunban and Shulk and Reyn beat them up!"

"Reyn..." Shulk said a little warningly. The fact that he carried the Monapon now, they'd decided, should be kept among the two of them.

Reyn, having gotten the reminder hidden in his friend's tone, cleared his throat. "Anyway, what Juju doing alone out here? Is danger place for little juviepon!"

"Juju not juviepon! Juju can fight! Juju skilled!" Juju declared.

"Tell that to fire!"

"Reyn, Shulk sure Friend Juju try his best," said Shulk. He smiled at the youth, while at the same time slapping his friend in the back with a wing. "But Shulk curious like Friend Reyn. What Juju doing out here?"

"Camp need more water, camp need more food. Juju given special job to find the two!"

"Juju alone? What about sister, or other fighting nopon?" said Reyn.

"Oh..." Juju looked uncomfortable with the question. "Juju only one available. Sispon healer, Sharla needed at camp-and the rest who fight must guard rest against monsters."

"Liar!" said Reyn suddenly. Shulk looked at his friend in surprise. "Juju sneak out of camp instead, wanting to be like Heropon! Reyn right, right? Reyn knows best, Reyn was juviepon once!"

"Shut up, meanie!"

"Reyn!" Shulk dove in between the youth and his friend again, a little more forcefully this time. "Sorry, Friend Juju. Shulk and Reyn were walking like this for long time! Us very tired...! Is there anything Friends can do to help Friend Juju?"

"Juju not need help!" Juju said, pouting.

"But many monsters in here! Very big, very scary..."

"If Juju need help, Juju no want it from big meanie and his friend!" Saying that, the youth bounced off the road and into the grass, carrying only a single gun and leaving much of his camp equipment behind.

Reyn sighed. "Disrespectful littlepon." He watched Juju become ever so distant in the horizon. Wherever he went, the nopon realized, he surely must have known where the road to Colony 6 should be. And the two of them had become so caught up in arguing that even Shulk had forgotten to ask.

"Shulk, what you think-huh? Shulk!? What's wrong?" Reyn practically jumped up in alarm when he realized what was happening to his friend. Shulk now looked like a fur-covered, water-filled cookpot sitting on top of some very hot coals: his entire body was convulsing, his eyes were glassy and unfocused, and he heard a long, pained moan come out of his mouth. Reyn had never seen his friend like this. He shook and slapped his not-normal friend. "Shulk! Snap out of it! Shulk!" Had Shulk eaten something bad? This was almost exactly when that timid fanpon had come to give Dunban a gift in the form of lunch. The Heropon had gone into almost the exact same shivers as Shulk now. Reyn narrowed his eyes, struggling to think. Was it because Shulk had eaten only grass since…?

Right, the grass!

Though, what could Reyn do about it? Reyn frowned, and resolved to shake Shulk back to normal harder than before.

Fortunately, miraculously, his friend recovered quickly. He turned to Reyn, nearly shouting:

"Juju's in trouble!"


**East Gaur Plains**

"Shulk awesome bestest greatest fighter in all of all out of all nopon wow wow very strong much like—"

"Juju, please stop…" Reyn said. The juviepon had gone on and on in the same excited, jumpy manner from the time they left the oasis, and he did not like the nopon's sudden transformation into a hyperactive littlepon. Shulk didn't seem to mind, though.

They'd barely scraped through a victory against several ardun that had been about to make mincemeat of Juju, and Reyn knew that the Monapon had helped them somehow. His wing armor seemed stronger with its influence, and it could be just his imagination, but Shulk seemed to move like he knew exactly where the enemy would strike. And then there was that seizure earlier…

"But you were so cool friend Shulk was bam bam dodge slice boom and big Reyn did good too only a little bit but Shulk did best beat the big ardun like pop bam slam whoosh!—"

"That's it!" Reyn exploded. He whirled and pointed at the enthusiastic jumping juviepon. "Little Friend Juju must shut up now, and go home where little nopon belongs!"

"Reyn?" Shulk moved to stand in front of his friend.

"Sorry Shulk, but Reyn tired, and Reyn tummy empty, and Reyn mind not so great! And all the way, juviepon keep talking and talking!"

"Oh! Oh!" Juju said, jumping. "If Hero Shulk and friend hungry and need sleeptime, Camp can help! Juju show way!"

"Listen littlepon, Reyn and Shulk don't need-"

"Wait, Reyn!" Shulk dragged his friend to the side, where they began speaking in whispers. "Reyn hungry. I know because Shulk hungry too. Shulk and Reyn need food. Need sleep-time in good beds."

"Maybe refuge camp, Shulk! Not many supply! At worse, we burden! Need to go on and find the Frontier nopon merchants!"

The thought had not occurred to Shulk that the Camp might not be able to support them. If Juju had really gone out of his way to find food and water, then the survivor nopon would really have been in need for the most basic supplies, on top of keeping watch for the mek-meks.

"But still," Shulk said after a moment's thought. "Going to their camp maybe useful. Could know what happen to Colony 6. Maybe get news on the mek-meks."

"Hmmm…" Reyn sighed. "If that what Shulk decide, then okay. But now how to make Juju know Reyn don't just want to go to camp for food…." He scrunched up his brows in thought.

"Is okay. Shulk go do it."

"No no no, leave it to Reyn." Reyn stepped forward until his immense bulk towered over the smaller juviepon. "Friend Shulk and Friend Reyn accept, Friend Juju. We go to camp. But only on one condition." He held up one finger haughtily. "Only if we get to eat the food."

Shulk slapped a wing to his forehead.


**Bionis Leg, just outside Refugee camp**

Barely a day later, Juju was in trouble again.

"Sharla knew visitors bad news! Bad news for camp! Bad news for Juju!"

"Sharla too noisy!" Reyn yelled. "Better to keep running! If not for Friend Reyn and Shulk, Sharla not know where juviepon Juju went!"

"Reyn idiot think Sharla trust little Shulk?" The blonde nopon blanched under the mothering nopon's gaze. "Sharla still not believe Shulk see future, not when Shulk look like cooking pot when stew ready for serving!"

From the beginning, Juju's older sister Sharla hadn't liked the look of her brother's supposed saviors. The black-furred nopon was harsh and almost outright hostile towards them, only mellowing considerably when she talked to her brother-though she didn't change her beat upon finding out they'd saved Juju. She'd shot Reyn right in the forehead from her blowgun, and that had knocked him out for an hour. Reyn did not look like he'd ever trust Sharla ever since.

They did end up spending the night, sharing a bit of the camp's supper and listening to the colonists' tales of the mek-mek's invasion of Colony 6. It was a sorrowful, harrowing account that left Shulk unable to sleep much, thinking about the relationship between the mek-meks and the nopon. Reyn fell down and stayed there like a log.

It was on the morning after that trouble came. The two visitors had woken up to a general panic in the area. Juju had left camp with his weapon, and once again had told no one where he was going. Sharla was frightened and livid, at once fearing for her brother's life and blaming them for "giving Juju ideas". It was just then that Shulk had another "fit" (which Shulk had explained to Reyn as some sort of "vision of the future" last night).

The three had then rushed out from the hidden camp's perimeter, once more on a desperate quest to save someone.

"Shulk not explain it well..." said Shulk, looking anxious. "Shulk... is..."

"Hey, that enough Shulk," said Reyn. "Reyn believe Shulk. Reyn saved from spiders by Shulk. Reyn need no other proof." Sharla snorted doubtfully.

"Sharla hope Monapon real miracle, like everypon say. Sharla need miracle now..."

"No worries! Shulk and Reyn power couple!"

"Power duo, Reyn..."


**West of Raguel Bridge, N exit**

"Sharla think dart good? Dart useless for ardun! Bounce off the torta!"

Shulk peered around, his goggles over his eyes. They'd chanced upon some spent rounds and a dead volff, of which Sharla recognized the former as one from Colony 6, and could conceivably have come from Juju's gun. While he tried to figure out which direction Juju went, another argument exploded between Sharla and Reyn.

"Reyn too noisy. Reyn shut mouth or Reyn time-out for a while," said Sharla, shrugging her wings. She turned to face away from Reyn.

Reyn stuck his chest out self-importantly. "Reyn have point! No place out in wilds for nopon like Sharla! Reyn hear Sharla healer, so Sharla heal! Stay in camp where Sharla belong! Stay in there like every good nop-"

"Reyn!" Shulk's panicked cry came a small moment too late; two volffs were already in the air, their fur sticking outward, their bodies tensed, their salivating jaws poised to chomp on his bulky friend.

There was a yelp, a clash of steel, a nopon's strangled cry and the sound of two bodies hitting the ground. Several things sang through the air, and the volffs uttered pained yelps. In the empty silence afterward, Shulk could only gape, the Monapon charged and ready in his hands, as Sharla sighed, twirling the blowpipe in her hand. Then came a steady stream of epithets from underneath a volff that would've made elderly mamapons back home curl their wings, whereupon Reyn emerged. He sported only one wound, presumably from a volff's claw grazing him. He retracted the shield-blades that he'd deployed.

"Ouch! What was stupid Sharla thinking? Why Sharla hit Reyn with dart?" Reyn demanded.

"It not kill-dart," Sharla explained. "It prophy-dartic, stupid." She pocketed her blowpipe. "It for making nopon body strong from wound. See-moron boo-boo going away." The two friends looked, and indeed Reyn's wound was knitting itself close.

Sharla sniffed. "Reyn babypon still. Not hear volff approach? Littlepon from Colony 6 hunt in Biopon leg after get first weapon. Get many kill, for food and trophy."


**Spiral Valley peak**

"Reyn take it back! Sharla's dart useless with mek-meks!"

The tentacled metallic monstrosity squirmed and roiled, each of its limbs thrusting at the party as Shulk attempted to maneuver close. Reyn kept busy pirouetting through the air, preventing the tentacles from hitting Sharla, who stood at the back with Juju.

"Reyn... not see... everything... yet...!" Digging in her bag, Sharla pulled out some suspicious-looking black darts, loaded them, raised her pipe to her mouth and fired. There was an instant whizzing sound, a bang, and suddenly three explosions blossomed in the mek-mek's face.

"Whoo! Amazing! Sharla dangerous nopon!" Reyn shouted appreciatively. An instant later, he subsided, seeing the mek-mek relatively unharmed. "Too bad boom-boom don't work on it."

"No worry Friends!" Shulk declared. He twirled the biter, bringing Monapon's hilt down hard on the ground. A wave of energy erupted, enveloping Shulk, Reyn and Sharla. "With Monapon, we succeed!"

"Right on!" cheered Reyn.

"Let us go," said Sharla grimly. "This for Colonies, dumb mek-meks!"


"Heeeere's Xord!"

The gigantic ball-shaped thing that even Sharla hadn't sensed smashed down onto the wreck left over by the dead mek-mek, sending dust and debris flying every which way. The force of the impact almost knocked the nopon clear off the platform. Shulk had to plant the Monapon down and hold on for dear life, Reyn held steadfast with the force of his wings, and Sharla did some aerial trick with hers to stay aloft through the rushing winds-carrying Juju-before plopping down, exhausted.

With screeching creaks, the copper-lined ball opened up like a steamed krabble eggshell ready for eating, revealing a fat, hunched insect-like shape. Out from the dark recesses of its underbelly emerged a steel-plated thing, reminiscent of a carved skull (shaped like a hox's, had it occurred to the nopon) spitted on a stick, which in this case seemed to be its neck.

To their spellbound horror and surprise, the thing's jaws moved, like a mouth. It began to speak in a guttural tone.

"So this little tasty pon who has Monapon!" The thing cackled, if the scratchy coughs it made were indeed cackles. "Not what Xord expect! Xord hear even that that arrogant no-skull fly from Monapon power! Like frightened flamii chick! But Xord see Monapon holder not strong. Xord challenge little nopon!"

"Shulk, is that...?" Reyn whispered.

"Shulk don't think so." Shulk had memorized every aspect of that thing's features. The dread this Xord evoked was similar, and he was a hated mek-mek, but it was not the particular enemy he vowed to destroy.

"Answer Shulk, monster!" he shouted, Monapon raised. "Where is mek-mek what attacked Colony 9?"

"How should Xord know where he went? He big coward and fail, while Xord stronger! Xord better! Xord lead all mechpon to harvest morsels of Colony 6 and succeed!"

"WHAT?" Sharla stood, now shivering with rage. "It was you!? Big monster that ate everypon?"

"Delicious everypon!" Xord laughed.

"You monster... you'll pay, along with all the rest of you evil kind!" Reyn proclaimed.

"Bring it on, littlepons... Xord like challenge!" The thing, big enough for thirty fully fed nopon to sleep in, reached behind its talking skull, and, grasping the object that was its neck, pulled it out, by which the skull now resembled the head of a hammer-biter that it next drove into the ground, sending an impact stronger than before. The cavity formerly housing the head lit up with a dirty red glow. Like a bizarre talking biter-head, the thing named Xord taunted the party from on top of its own weapon:

"Playtime little morsels!"


"Careful everypon! Enemy fire again!" After taking one final energy-charged swing, Shulk fell back, and the party formed a loose protective triangular wedge around Juju.

Xord gave a loud whistling hoot. Using its weird machinery, the enemy hovered just a few feet from the ground. The cavity of its inner body began to glow fiercely, before ejecting an outburst of red energy, which rained down fatal blasts onto the platform.

Shulk dodged as best he could, in the meantime, Reyn's Monapon-enhanced wing guards were able to absorb most of the blasts, shielding Sharla and Juju, though the nopon himself wasn't unscathed. He let out a low growl as the near-misses seared his fur. After the barrage subsided, he collapsed onto his knees, panting heavily.

"Reyn!" Shulk shouted with alarm, looking back.

"Sharla handle it, Shulk!" said Sharla, though she didn't look too good herself, looking tense and harried as she attempted to tend to Reyn.

"Damn!" Shulk refocused on the enemy, whose skull was now chuckling merrily.

"Pathetic! Weak! Small! This strength is Monapon? He weak coward after all! Xord strongest of all Skulls! Xord crush littlepons and claim Monapon for self!" Xord landed, and immediately began to charge down upon Shulk.

"Hold, villain!" A dark blur crashed down between the two, and a second later a large explosion rocked the platform, sending Xord reeling with an outraged squawk.

A second shape jumped down through the smoke. "Yeah. What this one said."

"That voice...!" The smoke cleared, and there stood, to the amazement of everyone, Dunban and Shulk's mentor Dickson. The former held some weird sword with his bare arms, his wings draped over his back like a travelling cape. The latter looked like a literal walking grenade, covered head to toe with ammo clippings and small explosives. He carried his trademark gun with him, which-along with the bandana over his forehead-Shulk instantly recognized as belonging to his eccentric mentor.

"You guys...!" Reyn managed to shout.

"Damn littlepons thinking they Heropon now, and fight with mek-meks all by lonesome!" said Dickson in his customary rumble. "Littlepons like that need spanking! Or at least supervision from bigger nopons!"

"Good to see you, Dunban, Dickson!" Shulk said warmly. He felt relieved at their arrival.

"Looks like we right on time," Dunban said, eyes on the obscured figure of Xord.

"Dunban have no idea!" Reyn said, laughing lightly.

"Dunban, you okay to fight?" Shulk asked. He glanced worriedly at the Heropon's wings. The celebrated wings that had swung the Monapon to victory at Longstick had been greatly weakened ever since that battle, and had been completely paralyzed after Colony 9's invasion. Now, Dunban held the strange sword with his much shorter arms, a style that was almost impossible for fighterpons to adopt, considering that they were much more difficult to use when wielding a weapon.

"Dunban always ready!" the Heropon replied. The sword made a strange hum, and the blade began to vibrate. Dunban tossed the sword from arm to arm, catching and swinging it deftly each time.

"Puny nopons!" With a resounding bang, Xord pushed off the ground, its battered weapon head screaming obscenities. "Xord end you! Crush all nopon to dust!" It began charging up energy from within its body.

"I got the littlepons and the lady," said Dickson, quickly waddling over to Reyn and Sharla. "Deploying ether barrier!" A nearly transparent bubble coalesced into existence over the group.

"Shulk!" said Dunban.

"Shulk got it!" Raising the Monapon high, he called on his connection to it with all his might, praying on its aid. In response, the biter was suffused with brilliant energy, which engulfed the two unprotected nopons.

"Is almost like dancing!" Dunban told Shulk, crouching low into a pose. "When Shulk see pattern, Shulk will know! All attack have hole! Mek-mek attack have more holes! Is why nopon can beat them! Nopon can dance; mek-mek cannot! When Shulk see the opening, Shulk strike!"


As one, the two nopons, guided by the familiar energy of the Monapon charged into the barrage, jumping and gliding and ducking over the rain of fire faster than a nopon could breathe once. The ether barrier absorbed the barrage handily, protecting the nopon inside as they watched as, slowly but surely, Shulk and Dunban advanced closer towards Xord's position.

"Come close then! Come so Xord crush you!" The upraised weapon made to swing down.

"Too slow!" Dickson yelled, and then something flew out from within the barrier, causing a bright explosion right at the weapon's head. Xord howled; the force was akin to being punched in the face by a boulder-sized fist. Dunban didn't waste the chance, jumping higher than he ever had before, and outright disappeared into the thing's innards. Immediately, Xord's main body began jerking and twisting. Its other hand began clenching and unclenching, wrenching randomly to and fro like a blade of grass against the breeze.

"Annoying...! Insect...!" Xord bashed its own body with its weapon, all while fluid began to leak from different parts of its body.

"Shulk! Now!" A small shape tumbled swiftly from within, rolling onto the ground like a ball.

"Take this!" Shulk roared, firing the energy he'd prepared-all the Monapon's energy he could muster gathered into a large wad, which he hurled with all his remaining strength at the exposed cavity of Xord's body. There was a blinding flash, the screeching sound of metal breaking apart, and an explosion stronger than Dickson's initial attack.

Dunban skidded to a stop near Shulk, who could not bear the strain of the having fired the Monapon and let it fall, along with his entire body. Dunban flicked his wrist, flecking drops of whatever liquid had been in Xord off his sword.

"Impressive, Shulk. That good mind in body. It nice timing."

The liquid that had oozed in large streams from Xord's body had somehow ignited, and part of the platform was now ablaze. Looming over the newborn flames, like a bitter, sleep-deprived orluga, was Xord.

"Look what you did to me! Why? Why! Why Xord wounded! Xord invincible! Xord almighty!" With a loud grunt, Xord leapt out of the flames, and then stuck its weapon back in its body. Its entire body was covered in soot, several parts of its outer shell were warped and twisted, and smoke continued to issue from somewhere inside its body. "Xord admit, that kind of hurt, but not enough..."

Dunban clucked his tongue, and made as if to resume the offensive, but Dickson suddenly cried from behind them: "Dunban! Watch out!"

A blur of green presaged another loud explosion. Dunban had leaped aside right on time. He backflipped and landed in a ready position, and tuned his senses outward.

It was only then that he remembered.


Alarmed, he turned to look at where the attack had impacted. There, hovering over that place like a monstrously oversized apis, was yet another of the mek-meks. Looking a little leaner-like that unknown that had attacked Colony 9-than Xord, it was painted in the exact manner as the grass plains below, and it bristled with gun-like barrels all over its body. Four discs protruded from its middle portion, from which it seemed to hover over the ground through some strange propulsion. Its skull, projecting forward from a slouching armored neck, was shaped like a piranhax's.

"...You. What is with interference?" asked Xord, looking up at the newcomer.

The green giant made a crackling hiss, before replying in a raspy metallic baritone. "Leader demand to know why you leave post. Sent me to retrieve you." There was a crackle. It held up one of its hands. There was a grey pod crisscrossed by neon-red lights held in its palm. "Secondary objective also added en route. Retrieve Monapon. Objective completed."

"Shulk!" Reyn shouted, as he barreled forward desperately from the shield.

"Wait, damn littlepon!" said Dickson. The newcomer turned, holding the pod close to its chest as it twisted its body into a second, apis-like shape.

"Returning to base. Come." With a whining sound, the newcomer zoomed off.

"Xord deal with you littlepon later," said Xord after a series of coughs. He fixed his soulless gaze onto a frantically running Dunban. "Especially little insect that hurt Xord bad. Xord find you and eat you whole!" Like a torta's head, the skull retreated into its cavity, as it followed the other mek-mek in balling up into its previous, ball-like shape and blasting off into the sky-trailing smoke the whole while.

"Shulk!" The force of their launch made a quick gust over the platform that sent Dunban flying back, helpless.

The two mek-meks were now specks in the peaceful Biopon sky.

Dickson summed up the devastated silence that followed for them all.

"Well, shit."


Author's note: *maniacal laughter* C'mon, it'd be boring if it was exactly like the game, eh?