Disclaimer: Nintendo owns the basis. I am seeking no profit.
Notes: This is based primarily on Melee’. I’ve not gotten the opportunity to play Brawl at the time of my writing this, though I’ve read about it and seen clips from it online. I use a different universe set-up in this story than in my previous SSBM fic, Heaven for Heroes – I fudge canon here in that I dispense with the “they’re all trophies” and “Nintendo in one big world” things and have the characters presented as the actual characters taken from their own freestanding worlds – as many other Smash fics do. Plays with Legend of Zelda Timeline issues.
In the beginning were the Hands. They presided over the Stages and were observant of many worlds. The right Hand presided over order. The left Hand presided over chaos. To whom these hands belonged remained a mystery. One might say that the owner of the Hands enjoyed watching television, many screens and stories all at once. More appropriately, he loved playing games. The Stages were his loving creation, maintained and watched over by the right Hand – which was also known as the Master Hand.
It was this Master Hand that plucked various people from their worlds and put them upon the Stages to be matched in battle. The Hands and their unseen owner loved to watch a good fight – any battle that balanced chaos (the delight of the left, or Crazy Hand) and order (the domain of the Master).
Great tournaments were planned and scheduled to test the mettle of strong warriors from various worlds. The games mixed both heroes and villains, honorable and dishonorable persons – and even a few beings that were not warriors in the traditional sense.
Who knew plumbers and mice could be so tough?
The Stages existed in a place that was (at least somewhat) outside of the space and time of the various universes the fighters belonged to.
After the first tournament, Master Hand found that he could send the fighters home to the exact points in their personal timelines he had taken them from – and without memories of the Stages. When he had prepared a second tournament, grander in scale, the returning warriors did not have any memories that would interfere with their performance. There were no grudges held over from the previous tournament, and no knowledge of personal advantages or mistakes. This proved advantageous to fair fighting. Master Hand informed the confused veterans that they had been in his keeping before, but did not reveal the last tournament’s winner to them.
He brought additional fighters in to broaden the scope of the grand game. He boarded them all in a stately manor house separate from the constructed Stages and saw to their every like and need –
- That is, with the exception of the “need” some fighters felt to harm some of the other fighters from their own universes. Master Hand devised restraining bolts to keep certain combatants in line when they were off the Stages. Bowser was not to attempt to kidnap Peach unless he wanted a healthy dose of electricity to course through his body. Ganondorf experienced a rather uncomfortable freezing of his muscles if he so much as thought of murdering Link or Young Link. The Links, themselves, were taken at their word not to harm the dark sorcerer and their honor was trusted on account of what Master Hand termed his “Incorruptible Pure-Pureness Policy,” since both of the Heroes were pure of heart.
Mewtwo was given a headache-inducing psychic disruption should he try to harm the Being behind the Hands – which he did try to do once on account of taking issue with being a “trained pokemon” and a tool for human amusement. Donkey Kong – although not really a part of the “villains gallery” was a wild, unpredictable creature. Master Hand kept the giant gorilla in line by threatening to relieve him of his banana stash.
When the second grand tournament – known as Melee’ – ended. Master Hand gathered the combatants together in the lobby of their estate to congratulate them all for entertaining him so well. The winner was surprising – it certainly was not an expected outcome, though the creatures known as pokemon were known to spend their lives in battle in their own world. Jigglypuff was congratulated and crowned and greatly enjoyed the attention and applause given to her.
Everyone ate and drank at the congratulatory party. Many were sad at the prospect of forgetting new friends they’d made. Some only wanted to go home post haste. Doctor Mario, a form of Mr. Mario Mario from a divergent universe, caught up to the swordsman, Link.
“Doc, I told you I’m fine,” the Hylian complained as the physician took his right arm.
“Just hold it supine for me,” the doctor said. “Before we’re all set to leave, I want to make sure you’re all right. You’ll be sent back to a medieval world, after all. Bleeding with leeches and balancing the humors isn’t going to help you.”
“You forget that my world is rich in magic,” Link laughed. “I’ve been effectively brought back from the dead by fairies many times. In any case, I feel great and I trust Master Hand.”
Link had been injured in the third-to-last round of fighting. He’d fallen hard on his shield-arm, resulting in a cracked bone. It had disqualified him from further fighting and had generally put him out of commission for two days. Doctor Mario insisted that he should be out of commission for at least a month, but the technology Master Hand had at his disposal for the healing of his injured fighters eliminated the need for the physical therapy Link would have needed in most worlds.
“Attention everyone!” Master Hand boomed. “You have all fought well and hard. You have entertained me much and I am proud of you all. I’ll dispense with the congratulations as I’ve already done that and I don’t need any of you getting swelled heads. I have an announcement of some importance. Upon discussion with Crazy Hand, I have decided which of you shall be returning for my next tournament – the Brawl – and which shall not. Those that have been cut are by no means inferior warriors. The decision process incorporated many factors - including the relationships of individuals to their worlds - and was quite complex. I shall now announce those that shall not return.”
Everyone held their breaths for just a moment.
“Doctor Mario, step toward me,” the Hand commanded.
“A-me?” the physician asked before he stepped forth.
“I have no more need of your services as a fighter,” Master Hand pronounced, but I will keep you in my employ. You shall work behind the scenes. You have been invaluable in healing my fighters. I have been working to improve the Safety system on the Stages, but minor injuries are inevitable. Although your specialty is in viruses and other contagious diseases, you have kept pace with every wound. Your services were even needed within your specialty on occasion.”
Luigi suddenly looked sheepish. When he’d entered the Melee’, he was fighting off a minor cold that turned into a fierce sinus infection. Doctor Mario had worked to get him fighting-fit and successfully kept his cold from spreading to anyone else.
“Mewtwo-” the Hand intoned, “I chose you to fight for me because you have magnificent power, however, it is quite clear that you do not want to be here. I shall release you to an isolated place in your world where you may live as you wish.”
Mewtwo let out a “Hmmph!”
, I am experimenting with swordsmen of your universe. Your world and your country need you.” Roy
“Pichu,” Master Hand said in a soothing voice, “Sweet little Pichu…” He lowered his index finger and petted the tiny pokemon, which nuzzled him. “You fought unexpectedly well, although you came in last. I never anticipated you to have much of a chance – but I’d wanted to test the skill and determination of a young, wild pokemon. I promise that I will give you to a good trainer who will love you and bring out your full potential. That trainer shall be lucky, indeed, to have you.”
The Hand then pointed in the direction of three particular people. “Link, Young Link and Princess Zelda… I must speak with you privately. What I have to explain to you… is complicated. I wish to see you in my personal office.”
The three Hylians followed the mysterious floating Hand to a room filled with screens.
“As you know,” Master Hand said, “Link and Young Link were taken from two different timelines. Because of this, though originally one person, you two have essentially become different people.”
“Yeah,” Young Link answered, “It’s why we’ve become Big Brother and Little Brother here, even though I’m technically the older one.”
Link smiled and ruffled the kid’s hair. “But I’m still taller!” he teased.
“Herein is my dilemma,” Master Hand began to explain, “Link – the adult one – I took you just after you’d defeated Ganondorf, while your younger self was taken after his battles in Termina.”
“Don’t. Mention. Termina.” Young Link growled. He shivered and looked down at his boots.
“Yes, yes, quite the trauma,” the Hand sighed, “an impending apocalypse, a need to impersonate the dead… so much to go through for someone so small. Anyway, you are split souls now, which is just evidence…”
“Evidence? Evidence of what?” Zelda asked.
“Of a split in universes,” Master Hand continued, “Two separate Hyrules were created the day you sealed Ganondorf.”
“What?” the three yelped at once.
“Since you are set to forget all that transpires here, I feel no danger in showing you the future.” Master Hand turned on a pair of large flat screens in the room. “I am gifted to know a little something about the futures of all the worlds my brother and I observe. Our affect upon universes outside the Stages is limited, but we are able to know what goes on, at least, and to keep a record of it. I like you Hylians quite a lot and will be choosing your kind to fight again. To your right is a display of one of Hyrule’s futures. To your left is another.”
Link, Link and Zelda watched the dramas that appeared on the screens and listened to Master Hand as he explained what they were seeing. One Hyrule wore on in long, peaceful years until beings from another universe invaded it. The land became cloaked in dark clouds of something called “twilight.” People became spirits or monsters. A Sacred Hero who was a rancher in a small town rose up to defeat the darkness as both a man and a beast. Young Link was told that this man was to be his descendant – a direct member of his bloodline. The child’s heart swelled with pride.
“He will be named after you,” Master Hand said. “The Hero Chosen by the Gods – or the Hero of Twilight, if you will, will fight for me in the next tournament. It should do well to ease his heart after the loss of his companion.”
“We lost someone, too,” Young Link said, his ears drooping.
“Navi was a friend,” the Hand said gently, “You didn’t fall in love with your companion. The new Hero will fall in love with his – an adult kind of love that is less easy to heal than a lost friendship.”
The second screen revealed a far different kind of future – one for a rifted universe. Water covered all of Hyrule to the mountaintops. The world beneath became a legend. Even the Triforce was forgotten. It was a world dominated by tradesmen and pirates. When an evil wind began to blow across the sea, a young boy was chosen to be a Hero to the many islands and he saved them from suffering.
“The Hero of Winds,” Master Hand explained, “A brave, energetic child. I have also chosen him to bring to the next tournament.”
“And he’s descended from me?” Link asked, a hand to his chest and an inquisitive look in his eyes.
“No,” Master Hand explained matter-of-factly. “Your bloodline ends with you. However, he will carry your essence, your spirit. To put it bluntly, he is your reincarnation.”
“My wha?” the swordsman asked.
“Hey! Wait a minute!” Young Link spoke up, “What happened with Ganondorf? He was sealed away, then he got out again and that’s why the Goddesses flooded the world? Maybe there’s a way to prevent this!”
“It is too late,” Master Hand informed. “I had my brother send him back to the void already. Some things must always happen – the continuity of the twin Hyrules must happen. The Three Goddesses govern your worlds – I do not. They demand that things go as they have already planned. One of the major underpinnings to that ocean world is that… the ancient Hero… ‘left and did not return.’ That is why it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that one of you must die. I made a mistake taking you from your timeline when I did, Link. I am so very sorry…”
“What?” Link demanded, “I have to die?”
Princess Zelda let loose a sob.
“I am afraid so, Link.”
“Can’t you just send me back to the point at which Zelda sent me back in Time? I’ll become him!” He pointed to Young Link, “And all will be fine!”
“That cannot happen. The moment I took you, the split in universes happened. You split into two separate beings. You can no more become him than I can become you.”
“You say that I am a veteran. Why was this never a problem before?”
“I had not made a mistake then,” the Hand answered. “I took you about halfway through your great quest. I plucked you right out of the
as I recall.” Shadow Temple
“I still don’t understand why you want to kill me.”
Link had the Master Sword out and was taking a defensive stance.
“Oh, I shall not kill you,” Master Hand answered him, “I cannot. I am a creative force, not a destructive force. If you insist upon being difficult, Crazy Hand will do the job. But, I do care for you, Link, and want you to go easy. I shall have Doctor Mario lay out a tray of medications in your room. I’ll not tell him what they are for, but I know exactly what is necessary. You can take them and lie down. They will put you into a deep sleep before stopping your heart. It will be very gentle, very peaceful.”
Link shook his head. “I won’t,” he insisted. “I won’t do it.”
Young Link also had his sword out and was glaring balefully at the Hand. Zelda was charging up magic. She was readying herself to put a shield of Nayru’s Love over Link.
“Do you not care about Hyrule?” Master Hand inquired, “Your Hyrule – the one you left behind? The princess will be sent back unharmed, of course. She must rule that land and will live out her years before the great waters come. Her successor in the tournament shall be the princess from Young Link’s future – Lady Zelda of the Twilight Era. After the Flood – which I cannot stop, given my limited powers in other realms – the islands will ache for a Hero. Since there is no Heroic Bloodline in that world, the Hero’s Spirit will be needed. Therefore, the adult Hero of Time must become the child Hero of Winds. It will not happen without death and reincarnation. You’ll get to save your world again, Link, and they’ll need you.”
“I don’t want to die,” Link whispered, looking at the floor, “especially for someone else’s stupid mistake.”
“Link,” Master Hand said gently, using his most calm, even voice, “I am not asking you to die for me. I am only asking you to do that which you’ve been prepared to do since you first met Princess Zelda. I am asking you to die for Hyrule.”
“Must I be killed for it, though?” the Hylian asked, “I’m young and healthy. It doesn’t feel right for me to die now. And again, it was your stupid mistake! The future you showed us is hundreds of years from my place in Time. If I cannot go home, can’t I just live here, in the mansion and on the Stages until I grow old? I can watch the tournaments with you and greet – maybe even train- the newcomers.”
“Crazy Hand and I are not good company and you are spiritually bound to Miss Zelda. Better a quick death than slow heartbreak. Time is irrelevant here. Not only will you go mad from loneliness, you will not age here. There is also the risk of your escape from this universe. It is slim, but we cannot risk it.”
“I thought I was a warrior,” Link sighed, “If a warrior cannot grow old to impart his wisdom to the young, he should go down fighting. I don’t want to take a bunch of pills. There has to be another way.”
Master Hand hung in the air, looking as sorrowful as a disembodied hand could look.
“Maybe we should reconsider, he said.
Link, Young Link and Zelda lifted their heads and perked their long ears.
“Crazy Hand is the destructive force. Link, I will set up a battle – you and him. I shall take the Safety off – meaning that injuries will be keen and fatality will be possible. After all, that is the point. You do not have to kill my brother-Hand, but if you can make him relent, you shall win your life. We will allow you to stay with us in this world, outside of Time, until we can find a less-lethal solution for your timeline problem.”
“And if I am bested?”
“Crazy will kill you in whatever way amuses him – probably by crushing. It will not be pretty.”
“A warrior should have the chance to fight his death – I’ll take the risk.”
Link stared at the metal tray on the desk by his bed. A cocktail of pills and capsules rested in it, candy-colored. A tall glass of water had been provided. The swordsman thought about the tray. It had been laid out for him despite his decision, in case he changed his mind. This was supposed to be an easy death – a twisted act of love on the part of Master Hand. With the Safety system taken off and a ruthless, chaotic opponent, death on the Stage was set up to be a gruesome affair.
What was it about the left Hand, anyway? Link was sick to death of stereotypes regarding left-handedness. Lefties were supposedly devious people, a little chaotic, even maybe a little bit evil in the eyes of some people. Link certainly wasn’t.
Final Destination was chosen as the Stage for this deadly conflict. Link couldn’t help but smirk at its appropriateness as he stepped out onto it. All of the fighters that had not been spent home yet were watching.
Link watched Crazy Hand descend onto the stage and he watched him warily. He’d fought both of the Hands outside of tournament-play for fun and each fight had been brutal – and that was with the Safety system on.
Then again, he had survived Bongo-Bongo.
Link jumped, dodged and slid as the giant Hand came for him. He used arrows and watched Crazy Hand shake them loose. Link ducked between the lasers the giant fingertips unleashed. He dodged a drill-move and made a sweeping sword-slice into Crazy’s index finger. It drew blood – and in copious amounts. Link had cut him deep – he was sure he’d felt the pressure of bone against the blade.
The audience gasped. This truly meant that the Safety was gone. That kind of bleeding wouldn’t be possible otherwise. While the Hand was in pain, Link leapt up and hacked furiously at its knuckles. Red blood stood out starkly against the white glove.
There was a chance he could win this thing! He could win his right to live! Since this was a fight for his life, Link was merciless. He would make this creature submit!
Without warning, the Hand swept in and grabbed him. Shouts were heard from the audience. The Hand lifted Link up as he struggled. Crazy Hand squeezed in experimentally, leaving Link gasping for breath. Then, with eerie cracking and popping sounds, he crushed in hard.
Link’s head lolled back in a spasm of pain as he gasped a fine spray of red mist. Zelda shrieked. The Hand’s grip then relaxed slightly. A strange, devious smile came to the young man’s lips. Suddenly, a bit of metal pierced through the back of the Hand. There was a loud, painful scream and Crazy Hand flung Link onto the Stage. It gyrated about in the air, attempting to dislodge the Master Sword from its palm.
Zelda rushed onto the Stage to the broken body of her Hero. The rest of the fighters followed her. Young Link shivered at her side as Zelda gently turned Link over. She winced when she felt his shattered ribs, some of which must have broken through his skin by the blood soaking his tunic.
Doctor Mario, who stood behind the crouching Zelda, noted the man’s right arm when Zelda took his shield off it. It was misshapen – clearly broken all the way through. The doctor gritted his teeth, remembering only a few days earlier, when Link had said he trusted Master Hand.
Link’s eyes darted to Zelda. Then, ever so gently, as if he were succumbing to sleep, he closed them. He was completely still after that.
Master Hand appeared. He yanked the sword out of his brother, who floated off somewhere, presumably to find iodine, bandages or the surgical bots. Master Hand laid the Master Sword over Link’s prone form.
“He was a fine warrior,” he said. “His spirit will be reborn as the Hero of Winds. It could have been so much easier for him. I promise you shall remember none of this. I will give him a dignified grave.”
Young Link, roaring anguish, brought out his Kokiri Sword and charged the Hand. Samus caught him and held him kicking against her armor.
“Have some sense, kid,” she barked, “Do you want to end up like your big brother?”
Mario approached them. “There’s a-nothing you can a-do,” he said sadly, “Help your princess say the rites of your people over him.”
What Master Hand had said about cleansing memories wasn’t entirely true. Young Link returned to his Hyrule and grew up. He often had nightmares. His usual bad dreams were filled with ReDeads and falling moons. There was one recurring dream that he had of seeing his own dead face as a young man. For a while, he was sure that the dreams were prophetic and that he was going to die in battle sometime between the ages of seventeen and nineteen. He expected it and accepted it as a warrior’s fate, but those ages passed him by and the dreams ceased. It was only when they went away that he allowed himself to be with the person he loved.
He fathered children and raised them in a time of peace. Eventually, a descendant of his was living in a little village in a province called Ordon when Hyrule’s peace was disturbed once again by supernatural forces.
At roughly the same time in an alternate universe, a boy living on a small island embarked upon a quest to rescue his kidnapped sister.
Link wandered out to the mansion’s garden, a single sunset-colored rose in his hand. He’d felt an odd desire to come here. There was a particular place he wanted to visit. He’d seen an odd stone out here – just a gray garden stone, but it had a single word engraved upon it in the language everyone seemed to have instantly learned upon coming to the Stages. The graven word was; “Regret…”
Link saw Toon Link – or “Toony” was he was affectionately called by most of the fighters, sitting beside the stone. The boy was from a dimension that had rifted off his own, so Link was told. This accounted for the child’s strange proportions, like an exaggerated drawing – the source of the “Toon” nickname. Link liked him a lot. Toony reminded him of his young friend, Colin, back at home.
“Hey, Toony,” he said, “What are you doing here?”
“I felt like visiting,” the boy replied.
“You, too? I felt this inexplicable need to come here.” Link laid his rose down by the stone. “It’s weird. It’s like I feel there must be a grave here or something. I don’t know – it’s just a feeling I have. If so, I don’t know who’s it is.”
“It is a grave,” Toon Link said brightly as he stood up. “I know.”
“No wonder I felt a need to honor it,” Link replied. “Any idea who’s buried here? I didn’t know anybody ever died in this world.”
“The person I used to be is buried here,” Toon Link answered. “It’s my grave.”
Link watched him, utterly confused, as the child walked off and jumped over the low garden wall back to the main path with a cheerful “Hyup!”
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