all original characters are property of Landon Hawes
This story, "Paradise Faileth," and its subsequent stories are a reworking of a trilogy of Zelda short stories that I had written starting in late 1999. It took four years, until early 2003, to bring the series to a "satisfactory" conclusion. I believed that at that point I could put the Zelda genre safely behind me and concentrate on preparing for college and publication of my novels-in-earnest. But there is something seductive about the Legend of Zelda, and as I began thinking about it early this March morning, I began to realize that my writing skills had progressed so rapidly in the space of a year that I needed to return to the characters that helped me begin writing my own original novels. Link, Zelda, and the gang were just not ready to retreat into the "circle of old friends" - and here I am with this first story. It is short, but it will set the stage for what is to come. I expect to expand this last and final journey through Hyrule into a series of six or nine stories; The Legend of Zelda is a grand tapestry that one can add to again and again. Many have and many will. I grant that this must sound pretty pathetic; a writer waxing rhapsodic about a video game! That is the reason this must be my last quest with my friends Link, Zelda, Aaron, and Mallard, as well as all the others (even Ganondorf, who is so deliciously fun to write!) And yet, if I ever become rich and famous off my writing, you know where and why it started: because of a dumb little video game made by some Japanese guys. That's my secret to you. Now, enjoy - and don't forget; it's only make-believe, but that doesn't mean it's not real inside our hearts, does it?
You have heard it all before, I know. These time-worn tales of tired heroes that must be laid to rest. It is time to let them die, indeed. But there is one tale that must not be put away, for it describes our tragedy as living beings ... and our triumph as creatures of the heavens.
It is our wisdom and our foolishness; it is our greed and our giving; it is our pride and our shame; it is, indeed, our death ... and our life.
Sit by the fire, lads and lasses; this is the Legend of Zelda.
Chapter 1: The Beginning and the End
Link screamed with fury, and in his fury, he struck down the Lord of Evil.
Ganondorf laughed, even in his final breaths, at the young man who had doomed his body. He laughed because Link had struck him down with revenge and anger in his heart. Had Link not hated Ganondorf for the evil he had wreaked upon Hyrule, the wily Gerudo might have been sealed away forever.
But the prophecy said that the Hero of Time would destroy Ganondorf Dragmire's evil through a pure heart.
Link spat upon his doomed foe Ganondorf and raised the Master Sword to inflict the final, killing strike.
But Ganondorf laughed again, confident in his ultimate victory. And then he died, his spirit exiting out of his body, defiant even in death, refusing to give his mortal enemy the last blow. Link could see the chest deflate and the eyes go lifeless as the life-force departed out of them.
He and Zelda looked at each other, and Zelda smiled radiantly at him. Link grinned back: the grin of a victorious man who has vanquished a hated foe. It was then that he began to remember what he had been told by Rauru in the Chamber of Sages, only a few months ago. "You must never kill Ganondorf in anger. Remember, instead, that you must strike him down to save those people that you will never know, and who will never know you except in song."
Zelda could not know Link's anguish as he battled first Ganon - the evil sorcerer's new incarnation - then Ganondorf's demoralized minions.
And as he stepped off the pedestal of the Master Sword for the last time, Link's heart, still only a child's, grew full with grief. The child wept, and did not stop until -
"Link ... Link, wake up ... c'mon, sleepyhead, it's time to get out of bed, you lazy Deku!"
"One eye, then the other. Come on. You can do it."
The Forest Temple smelled good today - he must inevitably confront the evil inside after resting outside for a night. But there was something else, a smell that he did not know ... something dangerous!
Link whirled out of his knapsack, grabbing for his sword and bringing it down towards the Stalfos. He felt it jerk against the hard armor of the Stalfos and tried to pull it back, but he could not. Cursed Stalfos! He struggled to get it free, pulling and pushing and screaming Goron swearwords until he saw - "Ah. Yes. Hello, Saria."
Saria was standing in his treehouse doorway, holding his walking stick with her right hand, and managing to look peeved and amused at the same time. "Good morning, Hero."
Link stepped back, glaring at his ill-fitting tunic which had originally been worn by Mido. "Sorry about that. Bad dream." Then he looked at Saria more closely. "What's that in your other hand?" he asked.
Saria threw Link's walking stick back to him casually and lifted up the cloth covering a plate of food that she'd brought him. "Some cookies, Link. What did you think I was bringing you, a Stalfos?" Then she began to giggle.
Link rolled his eyes. "A Stalfos. Yes, actually. That's exactly right." Then he attempted a smile. "Thanks for the cookies, anyway. I've never been able to cook. Subsisted entirely on carrots during my sojourn by the Forest Temple." ...Sojourn? Forest Temple? I think I'm losing it. I've never been to the Forest Temple, have I? And what's with the word 'sojourn?' I must be going crazy. Maybe I need to talk to the Deku Tree Sprout. Sadness suddenly burst upon Link for some odd reason. He pushed it aside and headed for the doorway.
"Where are you going?" asked Saria.
"To live life," Link said. Just then they heard a bizarre whining sound coming from the sky. They looked up and saw a gigantic streak of light hurtling towards Hyrule Field.
"Captain's log, stardate 3110.4. We are now entering the atmosphere of the planet Shawe XV, which apparently has humanoid life upon it. Starfleet has asked us to survey the planet and report back to us upon the technological progression of the lifeforms there." Captain Anderson finished his report and turned to his first officer, Arno Cashtim. "Status, Mr. Cashtim."
"Sir!" Arno snapped to attention. "Mr. Dragren, give your report!"
Jardi Dragren, the fast-and-loose science officer of USS Rowery, checked his scanners. "Uh, let's see ... we got nothing. Nope. Not a thing. Nada es guano. Zippo. Zilchamenay!"
"Mr. Dragren, there will be no foul language on board this ship!" growled Officer Cashtim. Jardi nodded, surreptitiously grinning to his science officer colleague Lannod Shawe, who winked back. Shawe was a quieter person, but prone to bizarre ideas; he was an excellent student and very bright, but unfortunately people tended to believe he rode on the coattails of his father, one of the best exobiologists in the Federation. This was patently untrue, but people believed it anyway.
USS Rowery was a seven-person scoutship, commissioned in 2196 to investigate the dangerous regions of Devil's Bower, a thousand light-years away from Earth. It was also harboring one of the Federation's best-known experiments: two children. These, of course, were no ordinary children.
Early in 2195, a few senators from the Federation Assembly had noticed that some children were scoring remarkably high on their Unistandard Aptitude Tests, even some 9- and 10-year olds. These precocious children were bored with their classes and their parents were attempting to enroll them in grades far beyond what they were supposed to be at; some "freshmen" were even entering college. Cases like these had been reported before in earlier centuries, but never with so many instances and so often. The senators had noticed this. Consequently, they proposed a radical new amendment to Federation law: those children who scored a 1500 or higher on their USATs would be able to join Starfleet - regardless of age. This caused a hue and cry among the many worlds of the Federation; why was the government asking children to join the military? Not so, replied the senators, because no one was telling you to put your children in the military; it would be a strictly voluntary endeavor.
Finally, two children who had signed up were selected to be placed aboard the Rowery, which would soon be leaving for a scouting mission to Devil's Bower. It was as perfect a test as could be hoped for. Would these mere kids be able to handle the pressures and responsibilities of a starship?
The two that had been chosen were from widely different walks of life. Ashley Morris, who had scored perfectly on her USAT, was assigned to assist Mr. Washe at his science station as second science officer. She was from the best part of London and was very privileged. The other one, Aaron Homden, had barely squeaked by with a 1501 on his USAT, and had been assigned as both isaliphysicist and navigator's mate. The isaliphysicist's job was something of an enigma; he was a searcher for the paranormal, as some said, but there had been breakthroughs of the 2180s in revealing a new type of energy called Isalite energy that produced so-called "magical" effects. Because of this, the field of isaliphysics had become at least slightly respectable. Aaron had researched in this subject at his special high school, so he was assigned to assist Lannod at his station as the isaliphysicist. He was also helping Jardi at the navigator's station. Aaron was from San Francisco and hadn't been raised as privileged as Ashley; his family had seven children, not counting himself. Aaron felt slightly guilty about leaving everyone he knew behind in only slightly favorable conditions while he got to see the wonders of the galaxy. He also had a serious crush on Ashley.
"So, Ashley," Lannod was saying as Aaron looked upon the vision of glorious beauty before him, "we have here The Planet Shawe XV -"
"Do you capitalize everything?" said Jardi sarcastically.
"This is an important planet, Jardi. It's named after me, as is the whole system."
Jardi grinned. "Lucky that your dad's one of the best exobiologists in the Federation!
Poor Jamaicans like me, we get graveyards and bobsleds named after us."
Lannod grinned and turned back to Ashley, who was looking bemused. "Tell me, Ashley, what are the dots on the screen?"
Ashley rolled her eyes. "The dots on the screen are the settlements on the planet."
"How about this?" Lannod pressed a couple buttons and small bars appeared next to each dot. "What are the bars?"
"The representation of technological progress for each individual settlement," replied Ashley. Jardi snickered silently as Lannod frantically looked for another button to push, trying to stump his protege. Finally he found it. "What do the funny glowing colors represent?"
"The climate of each area, Lannod. Are you trying to insult me or something?" Ashley smiled pertly.
"N-no, really I'm not," stammered Lannod.
Jardi finally broke out into great heaves of laughter. "Beaten by a ten-year old, Lannod, my friend!"
Ashley suddenly caught Aaron's eye and winked. Aaron flushed as red as his hair and smiled lamely back. His glasses nearly fell off his face.
Lannod's console beeped. It appeared that they were in orbit around Washe XV.
"Prepare for geosynchronous orbit over the main continent. Mr. Homden, if you would do the honors," said Captain Anderson.
Aaron, trying to look casual as Jardi would be in this situation, sauntered over from his chair and began initiating the maneuvers, as he had been taught and trained to do. Suddenly -
"Captain! Three unidentified objects to starboard!" shouted Lannod. The viewscreen switched to show three streaks, one red, one blue, one green flying towards them.
"Evasive maneuvers, Mr. Homden!" shouted the captain.
In that moment, Aaron's mind froze.
"Mr. Homden, now!"
He tried to move, and his fingers inched towards the controls -
"Now, Homden -"
"CRITICAL DAMAGE!" screamed Ashley. Red alert sirens were going off everywhere; sparks were flying and steam was hissing from every conceivable pipe and bulkhead and the planet was suddenly a lot closer than it had been.
"Captain Anderson, I'm sorry!" yelled Aaron. When there was no reply, he turned to see the captain draped over his chair, dead. Stunned, he looked around and saw Lannod, Jardi, Arno ... all of them lifeless. He started to cry as the crippled scout began to spiral into the atmosphere. Through his tears he saw Anderson's face with a last, accusing thought on his face: Why did we ever let the kids come on board? Those Senators, those -
The red alert klaxons were wailing at Aaron, taunting him for his mistake, his foolish, childish mistake. And then Ashley grabbed at Aaron's shoulder.
"Aaron, look," she said as the Rowery convulsed beneath them, "look at that view!" Aaron turned around again, and found he had to agree. It was a very pretty sight; a dawn-pink sky with tall mountains directly in front of them and a green field off to the west. An emerald forest was below them, and around the entire continent was a bright blue ocean. Aaron's tears abruptly stanched as he realized that they were headed straight for the tallest mountain. "Ashley, we're gonna crash!"
"Then we'd better get going!" yelled Ashley, heading for the bridge turbolift. Aaron hesitated for a moment - and saw a huge purple ray, blazing in fury, heading straight towards him. He ran, and just as the turbolift opened it hit, sending him flying into the lift. Aaron heard his armbone snap and he cried out in pain.
It was an agonizing five seconds until the turbolift opened, depositing them on the lower deck. "Come on, Aaron!" said Ashley, dragging him forwards to the escape pods. Aaron was in shock; what was going on? Why were they going into the escape pods, again? What was happening? Where was the captain?
Two escape pods shot off from the USS Rowery as it exploded into atoms ...
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