These worlds, divided as they were, were separated even more by unseen forces. One one side, the darkness, quiet. On the other side, the light, a melody. In those times, it was said that there existed beings of pure light ruling over the maze of walls that was our Universe; we named them the Photoron. They watched over all those who dwelled in the light and were said to protect them from the darkness. No one knew why they would not take down the walls that separated the worlds. Their intentions, even today, were unknown.
Under their light, there was one being living in a melodious world. She had a Star; and with it, she could see through the veil of darkness, at her counterpart. On the other side. In the Dark.
“Poor Dark One,” she said, breaking the silence of the wall. “You can see me, and I can see you, but you are there, and I am here. This wall separates us. What is your name, kind one?”
And the Serene Silence lived on.
Kirby couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Sitting on the ground, he rubbed his face in silence, eyes wide and lips like a fish’s. He shook his head.
“You should be home!” he said in disbelief. “What are you doing here?! In a closet of all places?”
Maëlle was looking at the ground, stricken with a strong guilt only a small child could showcase. She slightly moved her feet closer together, deflating a little at a time on his every word. She didn’t answer, as if she was expecting him to yell at her, but Kirby didn’t. Letting go of his face, he regained his composure and looked down at her. Both of their stomachs rumbled at the same time.
“Maëlle,” he said softly, “I’m not mad at you. I just want to know why you hid there.”
It took her a moment to gather the courage to look up at him. Seeing that her big brother’s eyes looked more concerned than angry, she licked her lips and swallowed. Her eyes shone with quiet, unshed tears.
“I… I want to find Papa. And Landy, and Ribbon, and, and…”
She hid her face in her small paws.
“Are you going to send me home…?”
Kirby sighed a bit. It was just as he had thought.
“I won’t, but Sir Dragato might. It’s dangerous to be here, Maëlle, you know that, right?”
She hung her head lower, and Kirby, kind as he was, felt his heart pinch. He approached her and sat down next to her in the closet, wrapping a paw around her to hold her against him. She was so tiny… Or was it him who was taller than he thought he was? He felt her tensed muscles calm under his palm, and he continued rubbing her back tenderly.
“Don’t worry,” he reassured her, “I’m sure we can work it out. You just wanna help, right?”
She nodded her head, still not looking up.
“You know, I was as small as you when I had my first battle.”
She slightly raised her head, her tall white eyes looking up at him in curiosity.
“Yeah! It was a huge octopus demon-beast, called Octakon. I had just arrived on planet Popstar. I couldn’t even talk back then! I hear you’re a Star Warrior too, right?”
She nodded her head, a bit more energetically.
“Yup,” she said. “Mama says I’m just like Big Brother…”
Kirby chuckled lightly.
“No wonder you want to save your dad then! Don’t worry about you being here. I’m sure we’ll find a way to make this work.”
“But… Uncle Dragato won’t be happy… I know what pirates do to stowaways! They get thrown out of the ship and then they get eaten!”
Kirby laughed again.
“But we’re not pirates, are we? It’s the pirates that have taken your dad, so we’re good guys! So, here’s what we’ll do. You’ll come with me out of this closet, and we’ll go see Sir Dragato together.”
When her face fell, he waved a hand quickly.
“Don’t worry though, I’ll be the one talking! Sir Dragato isn’t one to get angry much, so don’t be scared of him, alright?”
She hesitated, but soon nodded her head, although slowly.
“Come on, give me a smile. Do you trust me?”
Finally, the smile he had been waiting for crawled its way up to her tiny lips. She looked up at him and nodded.
“I trust you, Big Brother!”
He smiled back, widely.
Together, they left the closet, the cadet holding her elder’s paw in her tiny yet strong grasp.
There was music all around him. It was far away, dulled down by a closed door, but he could hear it, even through his dazed senses, numbed down by heavy medication. He had woken up a few hours ago, and still had no idea of his whereabouts, or what exactly had happened. He was alone in the dark since then, but he couldn’t complain. The room was warm, very dimly lit with a tiny lamp near his bed, just enough to let his eyes adjust, and the music… He knew that music. A voice started singing along with the strings of the zithers and violins, in harmony with the singer. It was a song of love, one he had once heard, on accident of course, being hummed gently.
O quam tu pulchra es
The voice was slow as it pronounced those first words. He closed his eyes and listened as he was sent back into distant memories, ones he had unconsciously pushed back.
O quam tu pulchra es,
It flowed into the room like a tidal wave when the door opened, soon followed by his eyes; he tried lifting his head to see, but felt a pain in his neck, convincing him it was a bad idea. A tall man walked into the room. He was an Avastan, he recognized from his body shape, covered from head to toe with feathers yet deprived of any wings. His black eyes reflected the light of a lit tablet he picked up from the bedside table among other equipment, and the light shone on his small, owl-like beak. His feathers were a grey-ish white and looked tattered by age. The man furrowed his eyebrows, then turned his head to look at him. Sword still focused on the song.
Oculi tui columbarum,
Capili tui sicut greges caprarum,
Et dentes tui sicut greges tonsarum
The bird man leaned forward, as if checking him intently.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, his old voice stricken with a strong accent that made it hard to understand.
He felt like he had seen this man before. An Avastan. Tall, bipedal. Old. White feathers. Black eyes. Large beard… He was wearing a black shirt, covered with a marine blue coat. On his shoulders, an M. He struggled to talk.
His mouth was numb. He was reminded of the first time he and Blade had followed Sir Meta Knight to a populous city. There, their lord had brought them to the dentist, saying: “If you want to follow me, you’ll at least care for your health. I don’t want to see your teeth drop from your mouth.” When they came out of the clinic, he couldn’t even feel his tongue it was so swollen, yet he could still feel what was happening to his teeth. Right now, he felt just like that, but across his entire body. It was not comfortable a feeling. The song was but a tune in the background as he gathered his strengths elsewhere.
“Numb…,” he managed to mumble. “Can’gh feel anyghin…”
“It’s what I would expect,” the man said nonchalantly, as if a smirk was lurking at the corner of his mouth. “Je ne vais pas tourner autour du pot, you are quite literally broken. I won’t tell you everything zat’s broken, but suffice it to say zat you’ll be unable to move for a while. You’re lucky to be awake already.”
As he stared at him, Sword was reminded… Another star, during their travels with their lord, another town… A small cottage, near the sea.
‘Meta Knight, mon ami! I knew you out of everyone else would be more likely to survive. Who are zese two youngsters?’
‘Now, don’t wait outside like zis. Come, my friends! Tell me about what you’ve been up to.’
This man had been an old friend of their lord. He had welcomed them in his home as they wandered the stars. He had befriended them and told them that if they ever needed help, he would be here.
The man’s features lifted up, his eyes glowing like black gems.
“You may rest, Sword. It will be alright. You’re out of danger now, and will recover in due time. Bonne nuit.”
The old Star Warrior put down the equipment and prepared to leave, but Sword shifted and stopped him with a grunt. When he turned again, the young knight asked:
“Ish… Shir Meta Knight…?”
The Avastan smiled. He chuckled, like a stream of low chirps.
“Many times Meta Knight faced death and escaped. Many times he faced demon-beasts and emerged victorious, even when his body resisted and broke. His mind only strengthened with each passing day. It seems to be an habit of his, now. Ze last demon-beast he faced was no exception. He is still locked in battle, to be exact. I will let him know of your condition.”
Valken left the room. Sword closed his eyes. A tear fell down the side of his pale face.
“So he’s alive… Blade, he’s alive…”
Dragato leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes with a deep sigh. He was starting a headache with all that was happening… Magolor had left with Kirby and Maëlle, to show them ‘something neat’ as he had said, and had let the ship on auto-pilot. Galacta Knight was on deck with him, but the younger knight was restless; pacing around, he was muttering things under his breath. The elder could feel his anger like a palpable thing…
“Things can’t be worse than that,” Galacta Knight muttered angrily.
“Oh, I think they could be,” Dragato answered him, rubbing his temples to soften the pain that flowed into his eyes.
“Why don’t we turn back? This little girl will get in the way!”
“We can’t afford to lose more time,” was the calm answer.
“You know these negotiations will lead to nothing, Sir. You saw that, that… thing on the screen! We don’t have anything to negotiate with anyway. We should call the Agency and bring a fleet to raid this battleshi-”
“We will not, Galacta Knight,” Dragato said a bit more harshly. “All that I want with these negotiations is a chance to meet these pirates face to face and see for myself what we are dealing with. If we can strike a deal at the same time, it’ll be a plus.”
He allowed a pause, in which the younger, angrier knight didn’t talk back. He sighed and looked at him, meeting his glaring eyes.
“I’m not worried about the time we might lose on the bargain,” he continued, “I’m worried about the time we might lose for Ripple Star. Do you know what will happen if we are too late?”
“The fairies will die, Sir…”
“More than that. The planet will vanish. This is information only told to commanders, but this star is vital for this system. If it disappears, it could affect us all, on a physical and mental level. If the Crystal of Ripple Star isn’t brought back together, we will all be doomed. Before the Dark matter threat, this is something we absolutely cannot let happen.”
He looked back at the screen; they were in space, and the light of Neo Star’s sun shone sideways on the Lor Starcutter, offering a view the old knight never got tired of. Galacta Knight listened intently, quietly. In Silence.
“This is something that I hope to let these pirates understand. I also hope to understand for myself what they plan on doing with the Crystal. If this person really was Meta Knight, then I have many questions that I hope will be answered.”
The other knight groaned, shuffling his wings anxiously.
“This… can’t be him… Not the thing I saw…”
When Dragato turned to look at him, he saw him staring at the ground, quiet once more. That pained and confused look in his eyes… Before he could ask him what it was exactly that he had seen, Galacta left the room, his steps heavy with grief and chagrin he refused to let go of. Once he was alone, Dragato sighed again.
When Kirby had walked in, holding tiny Maëlle by the hand, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The young Star Warrior had immediately said: “I can explain!”, and explain he did. The elder had patiently listened, although all he could hear were Kia’s yells when she would find out that her daughter was gone too. However, he didn’t stop Kirby from talking, about how the little Kiridan only wanted to help in saving her father and the others. Although the elder didn’t want to put anyone at risk, Dragato could only applaud such bravery. Maëlle was a growing Star Warrior, and it showed. The look she had given him…
He remembered, tens of thousands of years ago, the look young Meta would give him. It was odd, indeed… to remember these eyes, all the while looking at Kirby and Maëlle. It was like looking at the same person reflected into three mirrors. The elder Star Warrior was truly amazed. With such links binding them together, he knew the fate that awaited those three was greater than one would think. If Meta Knight really was alive… He shivered. Those red eyes were still embedded in his eyelids, shining in the dark every time he closed them…
At this moment, the radio opened.
“Sir?” Blade said.
“I don’t know if you got that, but I just caught a call from the Agency. There’s still interference, so I didn’t get most of it, but… They have more problems.”
“Tell me what you heard.”
“Woah! Mag, this is awesome!”
“I know, right?”
Magolor had lead the two of them to a wide room that served as both a refectory and a meeting room, filled with chairs and sofas. One side of the wall was completely made out of glass, allowing them a view on the galaxy and its neighboring stars and numerous nebulas. Magolor had taken out a device fitted with a wide screen, saying that he had given one similar to the other ship and that it could be used to talk more casually to the others without using the radio constantly. Needless to say that Kirby was amazed and excited. As Magolor started it up, Maëlle stayed silent however. She was still a bit shy about being here, even if Dragato hadn’t protested about her presence, and it was also the first time she was seeing an Halcandran. She deemed the young man nice enough, but still she kept quiet and clung to her big brother, eyes staring at the machine.
The little machine started rumbling slightly as its lights opened up, as if waking up from a long sleep, and it hovered off of Magolor’s hands to float soundlessly around. Lights flared on its screen, and an image appeared; the common room inside the other ship, with Bun and Hailan staring at their own floating screen. They looked amazed; the cappy stood up when their own image appeared and laughed.
“Hey!” he called out. “This is awesome! Thanks Mag!”
The Halcandran smiled and joined his hands, as usual.
“You’re all welcome! I’m just glad I can help around. How is the Neon doing, Miss Hailan?”
The ninja was sitting near one of the beds; seeing as this room was used for sleeping quarters, an infirmary and a common room, it was the only place the Neon could be in this small vessel. The small animal was sleeping, wrapped in covers formed like a nest around him. Hailan smiled and carefully moved a cover over a showing leg.
“She’s doing just fine,” she said optimistically. “She’s a brave one, this little girl.”
Kirby, surprised at finding the Neon’s gender, was about to comment on it, but Maëlle, used to the presence of Neons, leaned forward, mouth opened in an ‘o’.
“You have a friend Neon?!” she exclaimed almost dramatically, with only the voice of wonder a child her age could have for an animal, making the ninja smile and giggle. “What’s her name?”
“I don’t know,” she answered, looking over to the bird. “She can speak, but I don’t understand their language. I don’t suppose you understand a bit of it?”
The tiny Kiridan shook her head widely.
“Mama was supposed to teach me… in a few years, she said… But Neons are like big parrots! They like to repeat! They’re the cutest!”
“I don’t doubt it,” Hailan laughed. “I’ll wait for her to wake up and I’ll see then what I’ll do with her. For now, we have more important matters at hand, I’m afraid…”
Kirby looked down a bit, reminded of what they had all seen and heard earlier.
“What are we gonna do with this?” he asked.
“I’m not… sure,” Hailan spoke slowly, voice uncertain.
Magolor hovered to a chair and sat down, silently. He looked at Kirby with a sympathetic look.
“From what I understand,” he started, making the young Star Warrior look up at him, “this person may or may not be the one we think he is. Is it possible that he survived from…” He chose his words carefully here, moving his floating hands around a bit. “…what happened?”
Neither Bun or Hailan answered, leaving all their gazes hovering to Kirby. The young warrior was quiet again, but he didn’t appear sad either. He looked up at the Halcandran after a short moment. He shook his head.
“I… I thought he was dead. But now, with all the stuff I’ve seen recently, I’m… not so sure… But… How can you survive a sword in the chest? That’s the only thing I’m not getting. He fell in the sea, and then… Everything got a bit fuzzy…”
His lip shook, Magolor noticed. His eyes wandered off to the floor, thoughtful.
“Unless he got immediate medical treatment, I don’t think you can actually survive this… Unless… the person we saw really was just a doppelganger.”
“Is that actually possible?” Bun asked from the screen, leaning forward. “I never really believed in doppelgangers…”
Magolor nodded his head, his yellow eyes shining strangely.
“Have you guys ever heard of the legend of the Mirror?”
Needless to say that this mere sentence got their attention. Hailan answered positively.
“I believe we had a story on my home star of the same name,” she said. “What’s your version?”
Magolor smiled and joined his hands, tilting his head to the side a bit with his ears perked up.
“It’s a popular tale,” he chuckled. “My Grandpa used to tell us this story when we were young. It says that sometimes, high in the sky, a floating mirror will appear, whenever strong, conflicting emotions clash. Some say that this mirror is made of darkness, others of light, and others say it’s an equal balance of both. We’re still not sure on the translation. Anyway, this mirror is said to be a door to another world; literally the Mirror World. It’s like the polar opposite of our own world. The story Grandpa used to tell was about a man who lived alone with his own bitterness. He was just so full of anger and rage for the world, that his own darkness clashed against the happiness of the villagers and caused the Mirror to appear. They say that because of that man’s anger, Dark matter swarmed out of the Mirror and took him away, and he was never seen again. With this tale, we were told not to rely on our negative emotions… Now, they also say that in this Mirror World are also polar opposites of us. Like, for example, there’s another version of Kirby, another version of Bun, everyone. What I’m saying here is… Maybe when… this happened, your friend’s conflicting feelings caused the Mirror to appear, and his other self may have transferred to this world, thus giving him a doppelganger.”
There was a moment of silence in which each thought this over, but again, Hailan spoke first. Maëlle was staring at the Halcandran with wide and wonder-filled eyes; she seemed to have a particular love for stories. Hailan sighed and leaned back on her chair.
“It’s an interesting theory, but… I’m afraid I have to object.”
“Why?” Kirby asked, a bit confused. “It… makes a bit of sense, I guess?”
She shook her head, slowly at first, then decisively. Her glowing eyes closed half-way.
“Forget it. Let’s just go with this for now. We’ll meet them on Shiver Star anyway, so we’ll see there if this is real or not.”
“She’s right,” Bun added. “Besides, Kirby, haven’t you had visions from after the incident?”
Kirby didn’t answer. He looked down, thinking this over. He was right, but still he had a feeling that Magolor’s words held some sort of truth… He looked up at the young man, only to find him staring at his hands. His ears were low, almost saddened… He leaned a bit forward.
“You okay?” he asked kindly.
The Halcandran jumped a bit, ears perking up, but still he smiled, ever so slightly.
“Yeah, I just… started thinking about my Grandpa. And everyone else…”
Kirby could only understand. The poor young man was far away from home, where all of his people was stuck in a battle with the Dark matter, and there was nothing they could do, except hunt for what would save them. So many worlds to save, so little time…
“You’ll see them again soon,” he said gently. “I promise.”
Magolor looked up at him. He appeared… surprised, almost. For a moment, he didn’t say anything, but eventually nodded his head.
“Thanks… really. You’re a good friend, Kirby.”
A good friend.
And far away from there, in a place unknown and unseen, an eye slowly opened, if only by a few inches. It stirred and woke, in perfect silence.
So many friends.
So little time.
Ribbon was sitting down in a chair, nervously. The cushions were comfortable and the fireplace was cackling lightly with a glowing red gem that generated warmth, like some she had seen at the Agency. The room, similar in a strange way to a living room, had a wonderful view of space and the passing nebulas of Gamble Galaxy, like distant northern lights, unmoving like a painting. In another seat, Az was drinking tea, calmly.
“How is your head?” he asked kindly.
A gramophone in the corner of the room softly played an orchestral song, whose lyrics she couldn’t tell. It played softly in the room, but echoed nicely through the rest of the ship. From what she had seen, the crew appreciated it. Azure was sleeping on the floor at her feet, silent except for his snores.
“My headache is gone, thank you,” she answered before sipping her own tea.
It was delicious; with a sort of lemony taste added to it. There was a moment of silence, in which she stared outside in outer space.
“I’m just… not sure I should be doing this…,” she mumbled, looking down at her half-empty mug.
Not far behind them, something moved, and the little Waddle Dee she had met earlier came up to her with a tray balanced on his head. He put it on the table between them and picked up a teapot before starting to fill the mugs again.
“I’m telling you,” he said cheerfully, “there’s no way that’s gonna fail! We’ll hit two birds with one stone!”
“Dee’s right,” Az agreed calmly, thanking the tiny creature for the tea with a nod. “If we meet the others on Shiver Star, I’m sure they’ll understand.”
“I know, but still…”
She sighed, her wings buzzing lightly on her back when she leaned back against the chair, careful not to squish them. Putting the mug down, she rubbed her cold hands together.
“I can’t help but feel like I’m betraying them… Kirby was really confused, it was the worst time possible to leave him by himself.”
While she talked, the door to the room slid open and closed almost immediately. A slight clanking silenced her with a voice that forced the words out of her mouth, willingly or not. Azure didn’t move anything except for his tail, which started wagging immediately like a fan.
“Kirby’s confusion will fade eventually. When we meet, we’ll see if he’s ready to continue or not.”
Her chair was facing away from the door, but Az’s wasn’t, and she saw his expression change almost immediately, from calm to surprised, then concerned and almost saddened. His eyes dropped ever so slightly, and he sipped his tea quietly. The Lord walked right next to her. He rubbed Dee on the head, making the child giggle, and this simple move relieved her. She had already met him. They had already talked. She knew everything, and so did Az. She gulped slightly.
“Aren’t you even a little bit concerned about the Dark matter?” she asked, adopting the voice only a future ruler could have. “This is your Universe as much as ours, isn’t it?”
She saw, out of the corner of her eyes, his own amber gaze hovering to her. Bright gold.
“This battle does not concern me. My interests are elsewhere. There are more important things that require my attention. Surely you understand, don’t you, Miss Ribbon?”
She looked down, but nodded all the same.
“Yes… I do…”
She wanted to protest some more, but she deemed it better to remain silent and ask later, when she would feel better around him. After a moment of silence, Az talked. His voice was soft.
“How is Sir Sword?”
“According to Sir Valken, he should make a prompt recovery in due time. We will explain the situation to him once he appears more… aware, than he currently is.”
The door slid open again, and Trident saluted.
“Sir! Shiver Star is in sight! We’re waiting on your command.”
The Lord turned and headed for the door, in one smooth move.
“Perfect. Initiate landing sequence. We’re heading for the rendez-vous point.”
Before he left, however, he stopped.
“Oh, and Miss Ribbon.”
She gathered her courage and turned her head to look at his back. He turned as well and his eyes shone in a strange, welcoming way.