Sorry for the wait again. I got my first full-time job, and it's been very mentally draining. But the chapter's here now.
Mark: Pit was the strongest soldier that Palutena had; if he can't handle it, chances are that they can't either. Also, in the game, Palutena admits that she should open up a boot camp to toughen the Centurions up. Another bit of information from canon is that she hates to see the Centurions get hurt.
Lord of Dong: Thank you!
Dom: Sorry, sometimes the inspiration comes and goes. But rest assured, I always finish a story no matter what. It may not happen right away, but I'll always come back to finish what I've started. Like right now.
BettyTheSeraph: I was focusing on my other stories recently in an effort to finish The Future of Little Hope and get out the sequel, Her Story. Then I had the issues mentioned above and in the previous author's note.
GameboyNinjaUltimate Icarus: Thank you, I'm glad that I inspired your own story.
Sleepwalker48: As you've probably noticed by now, it starts two years before Kid Icarus: Uprising ("there's been no activity from Medusa for 23 years") and continues into the game itself.
Phantu: Thank you. And you'll be glad to see that it's here.
Snowsphinx: I'm glad you think so.
Guest (April 23rd, 2017): I've finally gotten around to it.
Guest (April 29th, 2017): Sorry for the wait.
ReaderJ: Thanks again for the wake-up call. The story is out of hibernation now.
Kitsune Eric: It's good to be back.
LoserWithNoLife: I'm afraid you lost me on what you said with your favorite part being that Pit and Viridi share more of a mentor/student relationship. If you like Pit/Viridi, then in what way does that appeal to you? If you're still reading the story by now, please leave the answer in your next review or create a profile so that I can PM you.
You Can Call Me Nora: I'm glad that you've enjoyed the story, and thank you for understanding.
On with the story! And those who know the chapter names from before will notice that I've changed them from the ones Zodiac Kid listed. Sorry, but after the first three, the originals just didn't feel right anymore.
Also, this is where certain elements will start to divert from canon. Bear with me and remember that A) This is an AU, and B) I only had the chapter titles to go on for a writing guide however many years ago.
Chapter 10: Mirror, Mirror in the Maze
The Reapers of the fortress in Reaper Valley looked about in confusion, unable to generate their line of sight for more than a few inches from their face. They had been on routine patrols around their land, the rest out on a soul harvest to gather the deceased of two warring kingdoms. It was all they could get recently. Any monsters sent to attack the towns got struck by lightning before they could even get close. As such, the only souls they got to take from those were the sick, warring and elderly.
Their current situation, however, marked the lowest point of their week. During an ordinary day, with stormy clouds swirling overhead, a vast shroud of darkness enveloped them in a wave before it passed by. The outer patrol looked about in confusion before resuming their duty.
Soon, that darkness reached their fortress and swept through the corridors, temporarily blinding the residents until it moved on. It slipped through all of their troops, killing the ones necessary to undo the security, and soon arrived at the heart of the fortress. The Great Reaper walked about the dark arena in his sealed state, appearing no different from an ordinary Reaper, wondering what the darkness meant and whether he should change into his true form.
He didn't get the chance, as only the sound of a scraping blade warned him before it plunged into his forehead, killing him and breaking the spell he'd cast to conceal his commander's lair.
The darkness lifted to reveal Arlon the Serene along with a Flage that pulled its blade arm out of the Great Reaper's forehead. The fortress keeper fell over and started dissolving into purple flames as Arlon contacted Viridi.
"Mistress Viridi, the deed is done," he reported. "Have you divined the location of Pandora's Labyrinth of Deceit?"
"Yes," the Goddess of Nature answered. "Thanks, Arlon. Now Pit will be fresh for the fight against the Underworld's last commander. I'll bring you back now."
"I live to serve," the humble commander intoned as he and the Flage got teleported, leaving behind a few autumn leaves.
Pit flew out the main gate of Viridi's sanctuary with glowing wings and the Arlon Orbitars hovering by his sides. If he was going to Pandora's Labyrinth of Deceit, he would need to be ready to fire in any direction in case of ambushes. The golden weapons were already rotating and orbiting around as his eyes scanned the apparently empty sky for any monsters patrolling.
Soon enough, an X-shaped rift appeared in the sky, green light of a swirling vortex glowing from within.
"I'm going in," Pit stated before his wings flared and he sped through the opening. Underworld troops flew towards him from deeper within the tunnel, but he shot all of them down with the energy chakrams fired by the golden weapon while hardly paying them any mind.
"Pandora's somewhere at the heart of this maze," the angel mused as the scenery changed from a green vortex to a black and white parabolic web-like pattern that undulated around him.
"Nothing organic up ahead besides lots of Underworld monsters," Viridi grumbled. "I'll have to use my scrying basin to try and find your way forward."
"Don't worry! I'm sure we'll get through," Pit reassured.
The Goddess of Nature chuckled, "Don't ever change, you eternal optimist."
As the passage changed again to twin vortexes beyond, one green and one blue, a chain of concentric octagonal rings appeared up ahead, growing into a corridor that eclipsed Pit and possessed several odd structures extending from one wall to the next in a geometric tangle.
He dodged through all of them, including red columns of energy that emerged from different directions as he went and only blasting monsters that got in his way since he needed to focus on directing himself.
But the corridor ahead of him suddenly came to an end and Viridi barely stopped him from crashing as the path was revealed to be an image on a wall that was painted to seem like it continued.
"Pretty crafty…" Viridi admitted before guiding him to the right where the way was open. "A fake path. Pandora must create them to try and psyche out intruders."
Pit grinned, "So it's an 'obstacle' illusion?"
"Pit, that was terrible," the Goddess of Nature deadpanned despite the smirk on her face back at her sanctuary.
The angel only replied, "One of these days, I'll get you to laugh at one of my jokes."
As Pit continued, blasting monsters as the path became less obstructed, giving them room to appear, he noticed another optical illusion coming up ahead and turned on his own towards the left where the genuine corridor continued.
"Well, somebody's learning fast."
The angel huffed, "After Arlon's lessons, I wouldn't make the same mistake twice. Now it's just annoying."
Once he reached another dead end with a triangular opening in the floor, he realigned himself for a dive as the Power of Flight gave him a boost of speed. After traveling through a trio of hexagonal doors, each part of another trio that only had one open for each set, Pit noticed that two doors opened up ahead.
"Uh… Viridi? Do you know-"
"Gimme a second," the Goddess of Nature replied. After a pause she said, "Take the left, the right's a dead end—probably a trap too, if this place lives up to its name. But the way forward still has a lot of monsters."
"Thanks!" Pit replied as he primed his orbitars again and took the left door, zooming down a winding, smooth passage before arriving in an octagonal corridor with its blue walls pulsing with energy patterns. There was a web of Monoeyes, but he smashed his way through them with the Arlon Orbitars spiraling into the closest ones to bash them aside.
Once he reached the exit and entered a massive chamber that appeared cylindrical but still had geometric walls, a horde of Handoras descended on him only for Pit to activate the orbitars' special attack. Purple energy blasts shot outward in a frenzy, their special properties allowing them to ricochet off the walls, floor, ceiling and the very air itself, seeking the monsters at multiple angles.
A door opened in the floor, perfectly round unlike any other area, and the angel flew downward, heading towards a light at the end. He had to shield his eyes for only a moment as he emerged out the exit, but gawked when he saw the outside world again from an upside down perspective, having emerged downward into the scene.
"Huh? I'm… back outside?" Pit asked as he righted himself.
"No you're not," Viridi answered in a decidedly unamused tone. "It's just an illusion, a mockery of nature!"
Looking beside himself, he noticed a Belunka and decided to shoot it down before it released smaller monsters. Once it was destroyed, the scene flickered away before it was replaced by the labyrinth corridors once again.
"Okay, that was weird," Pit commented.
"There's another fork in the path," Viridi reported as it became visible. "They both look like dead ends, but I can sense some monsters hiding… around the right one. But it doesn't look like it leads anywhere."
"Only one way to figure that out," the angel shrugged while readying his orbitars and flying straight in. Once he reached the end, there seemed to be some sort of shift behind him and he turned around to see that the corridor had changed in shape with monsters and traps in it now.
Deftly navigating his way through, he growled in frustration, "This place is crazy! Are we at least on the right track?"
"I think so," the Goddess of Nature replied. "I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be trying so hard to stop you unless you were heading for Pandora. Watch out, by the way, those walls and pillars ahead will reflect your shots."
"Got it," the angel confirmed as he entered a massive chamber made of glimmering hexagons of reflective material. Pit kept the Arlon Orbitars inactive, only bashing monsters that tried to get too close while requesting, "Refresh my memory on why we're here again?"
"Word from the grapevine-"
There was a pause as Pit flew in silence for a moment, save for the monsters, reaching the other side of the chamber as he grinned, "Plant pun."
"Wipe that smug look off your face," the goddess halfheartedly scolded in a defeated tone as Pit entered another illusion chamber that appeared to lead into the void of space with asteroids floating around. "You're a terrible influence, you know that? Anyway, rumor has it that Pandora has the Mirror of Truth. According to Arlon, it creates a copy of the true nature of whatever it reflects. Meaning, in the Underworld Army's possession, it can create endless amounts of monsters."
"What?!" the angel shouted as he bounced off a jump pad to reach a crevice hidden in an asteroid. "We have to destroy it!"
"That's what we're here for," Viridi agreed as her ambassador flew through a passage with vertical digital grids on both sides. Once they were in a narrow square corridor on the other side, she added, "After this hall, a landing spot will be coming up."
A large antechamber with a half-octagon platform jutting from the end appeared before them and Pit touched down as the power of flight faded from his wings.
But when he saw no entrance, he was struck with a sense of vertigo as gravity suddenly flipped, dropping him towards the new floor. Tucking his legs in, he curled his body forward and used the momentum to execute a front flip before extending his legs again to land with a hand on the ground to support himself.
"And he sticks a three-point landing," he applauded himself before jumping to stand up straight again. "Take that, Labyrinth of Deceit!"
Moving forward with his weapons hovering over his shoulders, he went through the door before him, coming into a room with a Bluster hovering above and Skuttler Cannoneers walking and jumping upside down across the undersides of floating platforms.
Dodging the sparser fire of the single giant monster, Pit took care of the skull-like shooters first before using a jump pad to get to the flier's level and take it out with a few choice charge shots.
As he performed a quick search of the room to find a Poison Card that he was sure would come in handy later, the angel heard a new voice – lower, but still feminine, and with a mocking lilt – in his mind.
"You're quite the little thrill seeker, aren't you?"
Realizing that it could only be one person if Medusa wasn't listening in, Pit growled, "Pandora, Goddess of Calamity!"
"Quite rude of you to barge into my home unannounced," she continued. "Not that I particularly care. I'm actually halfway impressed that you didn't get lost in the entrance hall."
Pit moved through the door to come to an array of five doors lined up, a Skuttler Cannoneer walking around the wall above the doorways and another standing in the center, both of which he quickly shot down.
"Great," he grumbled while looking between the different ways. "Viridi, if you could?"
"On it." A brief pause stretched before she answered, "More monsters behind the second door from the right. Then again in the next room; it's the same as this one."
Pandora scoffed, "Taking all of the mystery out of my lair. Where's your sense of adventure, angel?"
"He has other duties after this, which is why he couldn't afford to be tied up in taking out your pet reaper that was hiding this place," Viridi replied.
Pit blitzed his way through the following chamber, taking down the Merenguy and Monoeyes with ruthless efficiency before going through the indicated door to a smaller room that had the tips of some sharp mandibles sticking out and a barrier blocking the way forward.
Suspecting a trap, he started attacking, and when other monsters jumped out at him – two Miks and another Skuttler Cannoneer – he activated the Poison Card and envenomated his weapon's shots, rendering the monsters all dead from poison moments later.
When the barrier dropped, he came into a hallway with the walls closing in, so he didn't waste any time rushing forward.
"Now what?" he asked in an irritated tone as he avoided getting crushed with time to spare, beating a Mik/Monoeye (it kept shifting forms between the two) aside to be squashed.
As he came to a curved corridor with another wall moving forward, barring his progress until it proceeded, Pandora answered, "The Hall of MARVELOUS, MOVING WALLS!"
"Huh. Nice delivery," Pit couldn't help but compliment. He had a respect for proper dramatics, no matter where they came from.
"Thank you. I rarely get the chance to entertain guests," the Goddess of Calamity replied. "It's almost a shame that you have to die."
The angel edged by the wall once it created a gap at the top of a ramp to the other side of a dividing wall, where the way forward lay.
In the following room, another moving wall was meant to reveal a path across a chasm, but Pit simply shrugged and jumped across, taking some hearts and a restorative ice cream from a treasure chest before jumping again to the next door, ignoring the jump pad.
"Well, well, somebody didn't skip leg day," Pandora commented.
Pit chuckled a bit, remembering the Underworld commander's dark blue, limbless and flame-like body, before saying, "I'm guessing you do?"
"At least I can fly on my own," she bitingly countered.
"Ouch," the angel winced. "I think I felt that one. Okay, let's stop with the low blows."
"A shame," Viridi chimed in. "I was about to order some popcorn. This banter is actually pretty fun to watch."
Passing through an expansive obstacle course that seemed to be built around an Exo Tank parked nearby, Pit decided not to question it and go through the already open door, shooting yet another Skuttler Cannoneer that tried to blast him.
"Okay, what is with all these Skuttler Cannoneers?" he asked while easily hopping up to a ledge almost twice his height off the ground. "Are they your favorite troops or something?"
"They're cheap, effective in numbers, and this place is supposed to be hidden anyway," Pandora coolly answered. "Why shell out more hearts for stronger troops?"
Pit shrugged while moving to the next room where rings of platforms floated in a path, the walls and floors of the massive room so far away, the angel didn't want to think about what would happen if he missed a jump. Timing it carefully, he took measured loping strides across the rings, avoiding the gaps. There was a jump pad at the end, and he did have to take it considering that he could barely see the ledge around fifty feet above his head.
Once through, he ran down a corridor that seemed to lengthen as he went, Pit deducing that it must have been another optical illusion. After reaching the end, the door opened and he saw a staircase of sorts with giant steps and green spaces before them. A monster was bouncing on one of the green areas and Pit shot it down to make sure it couldn't attack him.
Testing the green portion with a tap of his foot that nearly launched him backwards from the kickback, Pit said, "Better not chance it. There are gaps up ahead."
Activating Lightweight, he quickly navigated the small maze of platforms with Viridi's help. With his reduced weight, the recoil was manageable as the angel walked and jumped across the platforms, taking out monsters that were in the way.
Pit came into another large room with a racetrack and another Exo Tank. While he did know how to drive one, every second counted since the Mirror of Truth could be producing monsters that very moment. He spotted a platform about twenty feet above him and guessed that it was the way forward.
Taking advantage of the last few moments of Lightweight, Pit jumped as hard as he could with a running start and managed to get his hands on the edge. Just in time for the power-up to wear off, nearly making him lose his grip from the abrupt shift. But he was more than strong enough to pull himself up with ease a moment later.
"You know, you could probably compete in the Olympics," Viridi noted as Pit found a Treasure Chest with a Brief Invincibility power-up.
The angel thought about it as he moved through the door to find another chasm, with a platform at the far end, "I don't think an angel competing would be allowed. Plus, my best stuff comes from power-ups, so I'd probably be left in the dust in a real contest."
"So an angel that cheats in battle," Pandora commented in amusement.
"Hey," he retorted while seeing a regular Skuttler walk to the platform on the other side by striding on thin air. Testing the empty space in front of him and then stomping on it to inspect its hardness revealed an outline from it lighting up at the impact. Pit stomped across as he shot the monster, continuing, "Arlon says that all's fair in love and war, and this is definitely a war we've got going."
Defeating two burrowed Girins on the path, a Handora and Shildeen, and giving an Orne a wide berth since it was just staying still to guard a treasure chest, Pit arrived at the exit and entered a small antechamber.
A Drink of the Gods appeared as Viridi warned, "Pandora's just up ahead."
"Thanks," Pit replied as he restored his energy with the magenta elixir. "Phew, dungeon crawling really takes it outta you."
Taking a moment to bring his breathing to the optimal level that Arlon had taught him, he primed his weapons and went through the door to Pandora's chamber. It closed behind him as he entered an octagonal arena with gaps between the edges and the walls, the entire chamber tinted purple with lavender and royal blue rhombuses decorating the floor. The Mirror of Truth was floating over a dais at the rear of the room, and Pandora emerged from behind its frame. Her body resembled a floating navy and cyan bonfire with a golden ring binding her essence near the top and giving her the illusion of possessing a short ponytail.
"You made it," she flatly noted. "Yay."
"The mirror!" Pit muttered before charging a shot in his orbitars and firing.
Pandora clicked her tongue and moved the mirror with telekinesis so that his shot went wide, "How rude. I just wanted to show it to you. Take a look…"
The artifact tilted again and reflected Pit before it started glowing white.
"It's copying you!" Viridi warned as the angel ran forward, willing his orbitars so that they span in a blurring circle towards it. "Destroy it!"
"On it!" he replied as his orbitars crashed into it first, causing cracks to create splits from the center of the glass before he jumped forward with a kick, the weapons returning to their previous position over his shoulders as they ricocheted off the surface.
As he aimed for the weakened area, his fractured reflection's eyes glowed red as a miasma of purple energy surrounded it.
His foot connected a moment later and he broke straight through the mirror, but he could feel movement behind him from his wings. Pit looked over his shoulder to see a copy of himself with a black toga, wings and hair sailing out in the same position, facing forward since it (he?) hadn't acknowledged him yet. Even the leather on his greaves and armguards was black.
The instant they both landed, Pit whirled around and readied his weapons, unsure about this new copy of himself. The dark angel seemed rather disoriented and clutched his head with a growl. Two cracked copies of the Arlon Orbitars had also come out of the mirror, but were on the ground and inoperable.
"No weapon?" Pandora noticed before tilting her head in a shrug. "No matter. There are plenty of discarded divine weapons if you know where to look."
A miniature hatch opened and a Silver Bow, the polished metal of its curve sharpened like blades, rose beside the copy.
"Allow me to introduce Dark Pit," the Goddess of Calamity smugly said to Pit as she floated beside her creation. "He'll be your escort, out of this life."
As she was laughing, she didn't notice Dark Pit turn to her with a hateful glare and grab the weapon before using it to cut harshly into her semi-ethereal body.
Pandora let out a pained scream as lighter blue flames erupted from the gash and the dark angel slid away before removing his laurel crown and discarding it.
"You fool!" she screeched while turning to him. "You were created to serve me! Your opponent is over there!"
That seemed to push all the wrong buttons since he primed his weapon, a dark purple arrow appearing as his glare intensified, and barked, "Like I'd take orders from you! Die, Goddess of Calamity!"
Pit stared for a moment before deciding that his and his copy's goals temporarily aligned. When Pandora released a mass of shots at Dark Pit, he shot them out of the air before they could get close and joined the battle.
"Don't think I owe you anything," the copy growled as his eyes temporarily darted to Pit. "After this, you're next, puppet."
"O-kay, this one has a chip on his shoulder," Pit muttered while converging his orbitars' fire on Pandora as she tried to dart and teleport around or shoot energy discs, blasts or – strangely enough – dice to counter. "What do you make of him, Viridi?"
"Well, the mirror was pretty badly cracked with your reflection overlapping it during his creation, so he must be a flawed copy because of that," the Goddess of Nature guessed.
Pit bent backwards under a rush from Pandora as she turned dark red in an apparent berserker state, feeling the raw heat pass him by. Flawlessly going into a single handstand, he kicked his legs around to twist on the limb and dropped back to his feet to face her again and fired a charge shot that hit home. As he watched Dark Pit charge after Pandora while alternating between exclusively charged shots and harshly swinging his bladed bow like it was a large sword, he replied, "I'll say. He attacks with more power than finesse, and seems to have some sort of grudge with me."
Pandora dropped more bombs, but Pit tossed each of them in the air and rapidly rotated his orbitars in a circle once again to launch all of the explosives back at the Goddess of Calamity in a rapid stream. They blew up against her and her form started convulsing with a massive boom before she burst and drifted to the ground into a bed of dark blue flames, as if she were a fire going out.
"And that's Medusa's last commander," Pit stated before he detected movement and jumped away to dodge a stab from his copy's Silver Bow.
But Dark Pit ran past him and dove through Pandora's remaining essence before coming to a stop as the flames dissipated from their former spot and enveloped him.
"What are you doing?!" the angel demanded.
His double levitated into the air before his wings extended with a longer span and a deep purple glow, the telltale sign of the Power of Flight save for the darker color.
"I'm putting Pandora's power to good use," he answered before clutching his head with a groan of pain. The dark angel then apparently shook it off long enough to begin flying up and away through the Labyrinth of Deceit.
"We might have problems with him later," Viridi noted. "He's a wildcard right now. We should follow him for now to see what he's up to."
Pit nodded his agreement as the Goddess of Nature warped him away.
Finally done! My goodness, I started writing this since I posted my state of affairs notice, and it took this long to get done. I feel like, unfortunately, this is going to be the new trend. By the time I get home from work, I'm usually tired and would rather turn my brain off instead of write. I'll do my best to persevere, but I still have other stories to write as well. I'm unsure what the future will hold for this story and the others I have lined up. But like I said, I'll always come back to write so long as I draw breath.
See you when I see you.