Oleksiy watched the star explode in a coruscation of blue flame, then wink out of existence, like a falling star hitting the atmosphere and burning up. He smiled. They had taken his advice after all. He couldn't say that he was completely useless in this day and age. Someone needed to keep watching the stars.
"Looks like he won," observed Shulk.
"Shulk, Riki's going to put you out of a job!" said Melia.
"The signal went out completely. There's nothing left of the Noponis that can threaten our world," confirmed Alvis.
"How do we know if they survived?" asked Shulk, "Reyn and Sharla were up there too!"
"There's your answer. Reyn's up there. You know Reyn – he wouldn't let someone die under his protection!" Melia reassured him.
"Should we go and wait for them on Valak Mountain? They might need medical attention, and if Sharla's taken an injury, I'm the only other healer on our team!"
"Shulk, I would like you to tend to Miko, she is completely exhausted from her mental ordeal," said Alvis.
"I'll do what I can, although fetching a Nopon doctor might be better."
"I'll go and help organise the homecoming feast. I'm worried they'll eat it all before Riki actually comes home!" said Melia. The entire village had gone berserk as soon as victory was formally announced. It was as if a class of school-children had broken up for the summer, and were coming to the realisation that they no longer needed to be organised or hard-working for a good long time to come. Melia was needed in this kind of time to make sure they remained at least disciplined enough not to accidentally set their tree on fire in a cooking accident.
As they waved goodbye to Melia and began the long walk up the many stairs and balconies to the top floor, where Miko meditated in her prayer hut, Alvis turned to Shulk with a morose expression on his face.
"Shulk, I will have to leave this world soon," he said, "I was unaware of how far the Monado technology had spread. It was only ever intended to replace our own world. Structures such as the Noponis imply a drive to overwrite every reality in existence. If it is allowed to continue, our own world will be put in further danger, and other worlds will be fighting against the same threats. I do not want people such as yourself, with homes, family and everyday lives, to dedicate yourself to fighting this threat. I am part of this machine, so I must be the one to shut it down."
"You can't just leave us! You're a person too! You can't fight alone!" said Shulk.
"I am not alone, Shulk. Meeting Miko has made me realise that I am not the only independently-minded Monado device. I don't want to pressure Miko into joining me, but I will find others to fight alongside me."
"If that's what you have to do, then I can't really stop you. I don't think I really understand the world you live in. Not yet," said Shulk, "And I thought Nopons were complicated!"
"Thank you for always treating me as a person. It has helped me act like one," said Alvis, "I promise never to forget what it means to be a person. Now, come, we can't keep Miko waiting."
"Oka knew hubbypon could do it," declared his wife. He had missed her smell – all fresh cooking and pollen, the scents of the village. It felt good to hold her in his arms again, even if hugging was an awkward process for round Nopons with short arms. The children danced around him and jumped up and down, tearing at his clothes to try and find souvenirs of his journey or, failing that, breakfast. They were overjoyed to have him back. After all, they didn't pester other Nopons, even the ones who were carrying more food than him.
"Riki tell us about exciting adventures!" the smallest of his daughters, Niki, demanded.
"Riki bestest heropon!" said Miki, her slightly older brother. Riki wasn't very imaginative at naming his children.
"Listen, Riki got important announcement," their father declared, shooing them into some semblance of a circle on the floor around him, "Riki... um... Riki retire as Heropon. Getting too old. Too much like Dun-Dun."
"What? But then who protect village?" asked Oka.
"Maybe guards do their job for once?" suggested Riki.
"Riki go do job! No sit around on fat bum! How I feed littlepons?" asked Oka.
"Riki no stop work, just no be Heropon from now on. Riki already got new job," he explained.
"Oh yeah? What job?"
"Um... they said Riki no tell. Is corporate secret," he said.
"Yeah, well Oka say you lying! Go out and get job!"
"Yes, wifeypon," he sighed.
It was no use trying to explain it to her. As long as he took home some fish every day, she wouldn't care what else he had been doing all day, and it wasn't as if he was doing anything illegal. Maybe one day he would be able to explain it, or maybe there would come a time when he didn't need to. There was a part of him that he had to keep separate from his wifeypon, a part of him that wasn't in the same world any more, but that was normal in relationships, like not mixing your work and home life.
The next morning, Riki set off into the jungle, where he would wait for Rezno to take him back to Valak Mountain.