"Bluefield versus Palutena! Stock Battle!" the announcer roared.

With a soft thud, I landed roughly on one end of the Battlefield. On the other end, the Goddess of Light made her entrance, walking in through the golden doors. She turned to face me, shield and staff at the ready.

As I got into my "battle stance", Palutena did something I didn't exactly expect: she smiled. Kindly. (…I think?)

"So, you're that 'Zero' who's to fight against me today," she said. "Nice to meet you."

That threw me for a loop. I wasn't sure about how to respond, so I settled for: "Um…yeah. Likewise."

I must've looked really uncomfortable, because the goddess cocked her head to one side. "What's the matter?"

"Uh—sorry," I said. "It's just…I've had some terrible experiences with goddesses and gods in general."

"Is that so?"


"Hm." Palutena let out a sigh before smiling a little. "Well, let's hope this doesn't become one of them."

I drew my sword from my chest. "Not to be the hopeful cynic here," I sighed, "but I doubt it. Just—don't pull your punches."

Before Palutena could respond, the announcer began counting down.


"Well, good luck," I said, sword at my side.


Palutena decided not to respond. Instead, she got into her battle stance. She seemed confident in herself (yes, I still lack that), but—


—I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was bothering us both.