The blazing-white sun glazed in the afternoon, hovering over the floating arena. The cries of the audience faded into the center, where four swordfighters were attacking one another. The polished steel gleamed as the light flashed on their surfaces, partially blinding both the challengers and audience watching from the distance. When two of the warriors were knocked out into the abyss that seemed to go on forever before being picked up by strange technology in the arena, the only two fighters that remained were a certain, blue-eyed blond, elf-like man, clothed in green, wielding a sword in his left hand, and a brown-haired angel garmented in white with a metallic bow that halved into two blades at will. With one slash, the green-clothed warrior knocked the angel off the stage, but not before the divine being used his own power of flight from the gods above and launched himself back, slashing and continuing the fight.
Sitting in the participant row of the crowd, a short, stout man with blue overalls, a brown moustache, and a red cap on his head was sitting next to who appeared to be a princess dressed in pink. A look of concern on his face, the red-clothed man got up, walking from the battle stage. The princess, named Princess "Toadstool" Peach, noticed he was walking away.
"Mario?" she replied.
As Mario walked to what appeared to be his new and improved room, he sat down on the chair in front of his desk, laying his red cap imprinted with an "M" on it. Short locks of dark brown drifted behind his ears, covering his head. As Mario stroked his moustache, he took a doctor's stethoscope, admiring it for a while before setting it on his desk.
What are we still doing here? Mario thought. Ten years of peace… and I feel as though things haven't changed yet. When Mario noticed an old photo stocked away, he slowly took it out, his white gloves brushing away the dust. Behind those pale layers of gray, worn-out marker spelled out "Smash Bros. 2008", revealing the old gang posing for the picture – Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Yoshi, Kirby, King Dedede, Wario, Meta Knight, Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Zero Suit Samus, Pikachu, Pokémon Trainer (with Charizard, Ivysaur, and Squirtle), Jigglypuff, Lucario, Ness, Lucas, Captain Falcon, Marth, Ike, Fox, Falco, Wolf, Olimar, Pit, R.O.B., Mr. Game & Watch, Ice Climbers, Sonic, and Snake.
After all this time, Mario wondered, could it be that there's something we haven't finished yet? Suddenly, Mario was getting flashbacks – everything was in a dark tone, just like the days back when the Subspace Army first attacked. He remembered the enemies involved, how Mr. Game & Watch was harvested and cloned for the Shadow Bugs within him, how the Ancient Minister lost his species to extinction, and how the fighters they allied with turned out to be nothing more than trophies, the one thing they all had in common, but he didn't know why. Why they always fight whoever they come across. Are they some sort of even more ancient civilization lost in time?
Are they… simply toys in the mind of another, playing by a story?
When Mario heard the fan cries of the audience, he suddenly woke from his daydreaming, running out of his room towards the winner of the recent match.
"Link, Link, Link!"
Running out to the winning platform, Mario noticed Link won, leaving an unconscious Pit wounded as though he lost a play fight. Once Mario stepped on the platform, he shook hands with Link, congratulating the Hyrulian.
"Nice, Link! You and everyone else certainly are improving! Strange how we all don't turn into trophies nowadays and I'm the only one that always has to tend to the injured fighters," Mario replied.
"Yeah," Link responded in a soft tone. "It's been like this ever since the fight against Tabuu. Don't you think so, Mario?"
While Link was talking, Mario was just smirking at Pit's tantrums, who was just wailing at a few bruises and crying how much the pain that was delivered to him was so great that he might "die". When Mario suddenly remembered he was in the middle of a conversation, he focused his attention toward Link, answering with, "Of course. I still remember the days, even though I wish I forgot a long time ago."
When the two fighters heard Pit still crying, Link giggled and said, "I think the angel needs you, Mario. Good thing you got a doctor's job years ago."
"And I am still glad I got it," Mario answered. "Take care during the next match, okay?" And just like that, the short plumber walked off the winning platform with Link, getting ready for the next match. Walking off to Princess Peach and Zelda, Mario was suddenly stopped by a familiar face.
"Snake!" Mario replied. "What a pleasant surprise, you old chap! Heck, I almost didn't even notice the eyepatch you're wearing!"
Covering Snake's right eye was a black eyepatch. When Snake noticed it, he said, "What, this thing? I'm wearing it because… because… You know, I certainly can't remember. It makes as much sense as Ike suddenly growing up into a man." Pointing to Ike, Mario noticed the blue-haired mercenary turned from a teenager to a real warrior, bulging muscles and a new look sporting him as he was chatting with Sonic and Ness.
"Anyway," Snake uttered, "I have some news from the Master Hand."
"Master Hand!?" Mario exclaimed.
"Shhh…" Snake whispered while covering Mario's mouth with his hand. "This is a secret between the few of us that know. Come with me."
Following Snake to an abandoned room in the floating arena, Mario saw that the Ice Climbers, Wolf in a new uniform from his previous outfit ten years prior and with his visor missing, the Pokémon Trainer with Charizard, Ivysaur, and Squirtle, and Lucas were all here as well.
"I'm sure you're all wondering why I brought you here today," Snake pronounced. "You probably don't think it's possible for the Master Hand to communicate with us outside his world now, but times have changed ever since Tabuu's defeat." Taking a parchment of paper, Snake laid it on the only table in this room, and the fighters gathered around.
"What is that?" Wolf snorted, straightening his new war uniform. "Some kind of morse code?"
"As a matter of fact, yes," Snake answered. "Thank you, Wolf O' Donnell. I know this kind of stuff when I see it. This thing came to me in a vision. Without word, I heard the beeps and quickly wrote it down."
"What does it say?" Lucas asked.
A brief moment of silence hung over the fighters as Snake glared at Lucas with his only visible eye. "Do I really have to explain this to you, kid?" Snake finally asked. "If you're so interested in knowing what it says, it reads, 'ISLE OF THE ANCIENTS FOUND. PEAKING OUT FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE OCEAN. HEAD ON OVER IMMEDIATELY. FIND THE LAST SUBSPACE BOMB. OVER.'"
"Well, let's get going right away!" Mario exclaimed.
"I wouldn't be so sure, plumber," Snake responded. "You see, this message is given to the bravest of fighters who fought against the Subspace Army: us."
When everyone in the room heard about this, they looked at Snake with a face of confusion. "What do you mean?" the Pokémon Trainer finally spoke up.
"Yeah," Mario butted. "I thought the Isle of the Ancients was destroyed a long time ago, with all the Subspace Bombs going off, forever lost in the darkness."
"I dunno why it needs only the few of us to check what remained of that godforsaken place," Snake uttered, "but from what I heard, the last Subspace Bomb somehow survived and we have to investigate that thing."
"Wait, wait, wait," Mario replied. "I thought only R.O.B.'s kind could detonate those Subspace Bombs – two of them each – but weren't they all wiped out?"
"This could mean something," Snake responded, "but whatever it is, only the few of us can ever know what's going on."
"But first of all," Mario asked, "who's going to keep it a secret? Second, why does it need to be kept secret? Thirdly, why only you guys?"
As the dim light flickered above Mario and the others, the quiet air flowed through the curves of the chairs, silencing whatever noise the tiniest specks of dust altered, including the fighters. Once the stillness faded away, Snake riposted, "It's because… For once, you're right. We don't know what we're doing. But whatever the Master Hand orders us to do, we do it without question or ask for his reason why. As for you, Mario, it's best if you hide that we're leaving for the Ruins of the Ancients."
"But," Mario rebutted, "won't the other fighters become suspicious?"
"We're all simply toys," Snake answered. "Playing according to the mind of another being not of this world, I think…"
"I doubt nobody will notice," Mario questioned. "What if we have evolved to the point where we have our own free will? Not merely just slaves?"
A single moment passed by. Neither knew what was going to happen to them, regardless of the task they were all given. Walking out of the room without a single one answering, Snake, Wolf, Ice Climbers, Pokémon Trainer with Charizard, Ivysaur, and Squirtle, and Lucas ran off, grabbing a map and whatever equipment they could find, leaving Mario with a look of worry on his face. Later, when the bright sun was beginning to dim into a neon-orange and lower itself in the sky behind the horizon, the stout plumber stopped them before the moment they set out the door to the hovercar garage.
"Be careful," Mario uttered. "I'll make sure nobody finds out."
Everyone started to walk out, except for Charizard and Lucas, who ran towards Mario and gave him a farewell hug.
"We'll miss you, old buddy," Lucas wept.
Once the hug was broken, Mario patted the blond-haired boy's and the Pokémon's shoulders, answering, "I'll miss you guys, too."
"Charizard!" the Pokémon Trainer cried out. "Come over here! I need a mount! You too, Lucas! The others are waiting for you!"
Once Charizard and Lucas walked off, they waved goodbye to Mario, who shut the wide-open door behind them, getting into a nearby hovercar with the others and fly away towards the Ruins of the Ancients.
I hope they'll be alright, Mario thought. After all, the Subspace Army can't have returned, right?