Meta Knight opened his eyes. White ceiling. Sounds of sniffing.

"Huh… Sir Meta Knight?"

His head was throbbing.

"W-What do you mean, 'huh, Meta'—Meta?!"

He squinted. Kirby..?

"Looks like it worked. He's awake."

Groggily, he pushed himself up with his hands. He stumbled, but before he could fall back down, someone gripped his arm and steadied him, helping him sit up. It was still blurry, but when Meta Knight looked in their direction, he found an orange blob.

More sniffing. "So, it worked, huh… it worked, huh..!"

"Stop crying. You said you wouldn't."


Loud… was that Kirby? He was crying? Why was he…

"Sir Meta Knight, how are you feeling?" Awful. "There's a glass of water over there… do you need it? Actually, we should get the doctor, shouldn't we?"

"Go and call him, Kirby."

"No way! Right after he woke up?!"

Meta Knight's vision slowly became clear. Bandana Dee holding his arm and fumbling for the plastic cup on the table next to the bed, Kirby was rubbing at his eyes furiously, and Dedede was next to the pink puffball, eyes looking suspiciously wet.

The mattress was hard but the sheets were fluffy. The room was completely white—or, at least, it appeared to originally be. It seemed like the paint was scraping in the corners, revealing the brownish bricks behind. With the floor tilted an equal white, it was way too bright. Giving him a headache.

What was he even doing..? Why was he there? He couldn't recall what he had last been doing. No, he did—but it didn't match up. The last thing he remembered was being alone in one of the courtyards in the castle—how did he end up… there?

The more he thought about it, the more his head ached.

"You took a bad hit," Bandana Dee said, holding the cup of water out. Meta Knight wanted to speak, but his throat was so dry his voice wasn't coming through. He took the cup, and stared at the clear liquid inside. "It's water, really. You were attacked on the head. The wound's been treated and I think it's completely gone, but you were out for a while. As in, a few days."

"You died!" Kirby wailed, tears pouring out at an abnormal rate.

"W-Watch it! That's my floor!" ...And it looked like Dedede's were too, to some extent.

"No, he didn't," Bandana Dee corrected, "he was unconscious."

Meta Knight took a gulp of the water. It tasted sweet to his dry mouth, and the whole cup's contents was gone in a few seconds. He placed the cup down again, and Bandana Dee eagerly took it and put it back on the table.

An attack hard enough to cause him, of all people, to go unconscious, and also lose his memory, to some degree. A concussion? A bad one, possibly. There was a chance that he was taken by complete surprise, which was unlikely. He had years of training. Decades, even. At the very least, he would've sensed another presence. But he was sure he was alone in the courtyard. That made the concussion theory even more plausible… it had been quick enough to put him out of commission like that, and also quick enough to take him off guard—or maybe they had fought. Maybe it was just something he wasn't remembering.

He leaned forward. All the thinking was making his head hurt, somehow. It was a nuisance, given how thinking was pretty much his forte.

"Was I fighting it?" Meta Knight asked, looking in Bandana Dee's direction. Bandana Dee only blinked, then looked at Kirby.

The pink puffball looked at the sheets on the bed, eyes lidded from the sobbing. "I dunno—I just saw it smack you on the head, and then I ran over, but it…"

Kirby trailed off. Meta Knight prodded, "It..?"

Kirby looked uncertain. "It disappeared."

Meta Knight blinked. "...Pardon?"

"I know! I wanted to beat it up for beating you up like that, but…" Kirby plainly averted his gaze to the wall, ", kinda just, teleported away. Like it was never there. And I stayed there for a few more minutes, making sure the wound wasn't… bleeding out too much."

"In the castle courtyard?"

"Yeah, in the castle courtyard. After that, some waddle dees found us and went to get the doctor. Then they dragged you all the way to this room. The doctor tried a lot of stuff, but you wouldn't wake up."

So he was attacked, and assaulted that badly… but the offender ran away the moment Kirby showed up? That was a lot to take in. Was their goal to just take him out? What was the point in that? Sure, he prided himself as a skilled knight, but as much as he didn't like to admit it, Kirby was far more deadly and versatile in combat. Maybe they wanted to take them out one by one. Although none of the others were attacked, so that wouldn't be explained with that theory…

Meta Knight sighed and pressed a hand to his face. It felt cold. It all sounded urgent and he wanted to think through it deeply, but he just felt so tired he wanted to go and sleep. He didn't have the time to rest, though. Why him? These sort of news needed to be tended to immediately, or else—

...His face?

It was… his face.

He probably paled. "Where's my mask?"

"Took it away." Surprisingly, it was Dedede who answered. "Doc said you might suffocate or something. Just for good measure, or something. Kept it in the office for safekeeping."

"Uh… right." He suddenly felt very self-conscious.

Kirby stopped snivelling and beamed at him. "Oh, then I'll go help you get it later! Right now you shouldn't move around that much, though. Dedede! Get the doc!"

"I'm not your servant, and you're not a doctor."

"Well, being a doctor is just one of my specialties. I can also be a clown, a cowboy, or a swordmaster, you know, and a lot of other stuff too!"

Kirby's sudden mood swing might've been giving Meta Knight whiplash.

As if there had been a cue to leave, Bandana Dee stood up, and Kirby jumped to his feet as well, Dedede following seconds later. Meta Knight's eyes trailed after them as they began to turn to leave. Were they in a hurry? Probably to get the doctor. He would've done that, too, personally.

Was there anymore water? He was getting thirsty again. He glanced over at the side where Bandana Dee had left the empty plastic cup, and his hopes were dampened when he didn't find any sort of water dispenser there, or even just a jug. There wasn't anything, actually; just an out-of-place-looking table next to his bed. It was a relatively small room, and he recalled there wasn't anything but some space and the wall to the right. Maybe it was just a spare room and not a room specialised for patients.

Behind the table and against the wall, there was something large and draped over lazily with a long, yellow cloth. Like how scientists would drape their inventions over with a cloth before whisking it off and introducing their latest disaster-inducing machine. To make matters worse, Meta Knight could see a little bit of dented metal exposed where the yellow cloth wasn't covering it.

He wasn't sure what to think of being shoved into a spare room instead of a proper ward, but he was better, so he wasn't arguing.

"See you, Meta! Go and sleep," Kirby chirped, opening the door. The hallway outside was empty.

"We'll get the doctor," Bandana Dee promised.

"An' your mask," Dedede added, then he shut the door close.

Meta Knight thought he might have wanted to say something to them before they left—thank you, or something, pretty much anything—but he found he didn't know the words, so he was left staring at the white, peeling wall in front of him.

The doctor turned out to be a very smart waddle dee.

"Constant throbbing of the head, but that's it," he said, spinning a pen.

Meta Knight nodded.

"And no external injuries. At the moment. Huuuuuh."

"Did the wound heal fast?"

The doctor nodded, scribbling something on a sheet of paper on a clipboard. Was there anything to record, though? "Somewhat. We did treat it, but I didn't expect it to disappear in that amount of time. I chalked it up to being a species-thing. Or maybe the wound wasn't as bad as it looked. You are the same species as Kirby, yes?"

Oh, that… that question was asked a lot. Especially once anyone had seen him with his mask off. Currently, his mask was on, but the doctor must've seen him while he was still out cold, and he probably took in the striking resemblance he had from Kirby there. Unsurprising.

Meta Knight turned his head to the side and stared at the table. "Probably. Our species has numerous variations to it, so we're born with different properties, but similar appearances." Meta Knight didn't know a "different property" of his had been accelerated healing, but he wasn't entirely surprised, seeing as how he didn't have any superpower like Kirby's inhalation. He didn't think that intelligence and sword mastery counted as superpowers.

"That would make sense." The doctor didn't write it down. "I don't suppose they're native to Pop Star."

"They may have settled down somewhere in Pop Star. We have shared traits that allow us to traverse the galaxy easily, which is how both Kirby and I ended up here, likely, such as—"

"Hold it, I'm not that interested to hear," the doctor huffed, raising a hand. "Just making small conversation. I see that you're better, at least. With how you are right now, I guess it'll be fine to discharge you tomorrow. Unless you're still feeling ill or weak? The headaches don't sound threatening, but I can prescribe you some pills."

He could be discharged from a room that didn't even look like a proper ward? Surprising. He should ask about that, too. "No, it's just the headaches. I'd like to leave as quickly as possible, if you don't mind. My crew is probably worried."

The doctor snorted. "Oh, they are. They've been visiting the castle every other day to ask how you're doing. They just visited yesterday, though, so they probably won't come today. Good, loyal bunch you got yourself there." Then he spun on his chair and began scribbling lines down like he actually had something to report. Meta Knight thought their conversation hadn't told them much. Or maybe the doctor was making notes on other things: his stability of voice, his appearance, or anything else that would speak about his condition.

So the crew had been paying him visits quite frequently… somehow, hearing that, Meta Knight was relieved. He never doubted their loyalty, but strange things happened when the opportunity presented itself. Maybe it was also because they didn't know how to fully run the Halberd. The more he thought about it, the less he thought that it mattered. Things would return to normal after a while; there was no need to worry.

"All righty, then," the doctor said, standing up and out of his seat. Meta Knight looked up at him. "I'll go get the pills and maybe some water. If you need anything, just yell. Pretty sure there'll be at least someone in the hallway."

"Right. Thank you." Maybe Meta Knight should've mentioned he wasn't into the pill-popping habit, but he'd keep them just in case the headache got too hard to handle. Taking one or two if the situation was dire was acceptable.

The doctor left, leaving the door ajar. Meta Knight sunk down further into the bed and glanced up at the ceiling.

The whole situation was a mystery. From how he couldn't even remember the last few bits of what had happened before he was knocked out, to Kirby's account of the assaulter disappearing… thinking about it, Kirby never described its appearance. Well, he could ask about it later. But if Kirby didn't mention its species, he probably didn't know what it was, either. Kirby didn't read into books very much, but since he faced the same monsters over and over again, at least he'd know their names.

Maybe there had been more witnesses. ...Unlikely. He knew that. But he still wanted to try—he barely knew anything about the situation. He could always clarify with Kirby later, and he would, but from how the story was told it was like Kirby had only seen the ending bit of it. Maybe there had been someone who had seen the entire situation, even before the thing had appeared. That would shed more light on the situation.

Meta Knight was barely in the castle at all, and he didn't really have an affiliation with it, so the only times he really visited was when he had some actual business to attend to as a knight that the king requested, which was uncommon on its own. Dedede probably wouldn't mind if he wandered around in the castle for the next few days, asking around for information. Even though he made blunders pretty often, Dedede would be concerned about it, too. He knew his responsibilities.

He heard close footsteps outside. His head immediately shot up to the door.

A waddle dee stood outside the room, peering inside with a blank expression. Pretty much everything was peculiar about it; the beige blush usually on the cheeks of a waddle dee was dark blue and splotchy, like it had been painted over. Most waddle dees in the castle were armed with spears, but this one had a large bow on its back with a quiver.

After a few seconds, it turned and walked away.

...Who was that? Meta Knight would've remembered such a unique waddle dee if he had seen one. He didn't.

Before he knew it, another waddle dee was walking into the room. It was the doctor, holding a bottle and the clipboard again.

"Here, your pills. They're just for headaches, so they're nothing special. If you get a migraine or something later on in your life you can still use them as long as they're not expired." The doctor placed the bottle on the table. It was full of white-and-red capsules. "Dropped by the kitchen and asked them if they could deliver a jug of warm water up to you, too."

"Oh. Thanks."

"Just my job. I'm charging you for it, unless the king wants to up my salary for you."

He better, Meta Knight thought sourly, with all the injustice that had been pushed on him when he was fulfilling the king's requests.

"Anything else?"

The doctor looked like he was ready to leave. Meta Knight felt bad for asking, but he clenched his fists and steeled himself. Kirby had made fun of him for being paranoid in social situations and it was true.

"Two more things, if you don't mind. It's unrelated to my condition, however."

"Oh, yeah, sure, whatever. Ask away."

The doctor looked nonchalant about it, at least.

"This isn't a ward, is it? Or wherever you put the sick patients or minions. It doesn't look like one. If it were there'd be several other beds. Rooms with only one bed would normally be an intensive care unit, but there isn't any such equipment that would belong in one here."

"Oh, that." The doctor shrugged. "We only have a few wards, as you call it, because the minions don't normally get badly injured or sick. If they do, there are some minion-run clinics in the underground living area, anyway. Recently there was a wave of diarrhoea or something, so a lot of slots got taken up and there was a lot of moving in and out. The king said he didn't want your environment to be changed too much, so we put you in this hole here. You didn't need much support, anyway. You just weren't waking up."

Well, that cleared his doubts—it was a random room and there was a high chance of it being a random storage room as well, hence the random machine that was in there for no apparent reason. And it was too small to be a proper ward, anyway.

"I see. One more thing, then." The doctor tilted his head. "While you were gone, a strange waddle dee passed by. They had blue cheeks and a bow. They didn't say anything, though. They just stopped to look and then continued walking." By now, he was just satisfying his own curiosity. He felt like he was intruding, but he'd never know if he didn't try.

The doctor blinked. "Strange dee with blue cheeks and a bow? Probably Ody or Yanne." He looked up at the ceiling, then back down. "They're hunters. They're not minions but they take on a lot of quests and sell meat to the castle, so they're in here pretty often."

"Is that so."

"Yes, it is, and you don't have to say that just to sound mysterious, okay? Anyway, I'm leaving now. If anything happens, I'll probably be busy so call someone else."

The doctor shut the door without even a proper farewell or a wave of the hand. Meta Knight had always felt like he was unwelcome in the castle, and he knew that he probably was, given how he behaved in the past. Well, that would probably explain the weird waddle dee staring at him from outside the door just now. He knew he planned on asking around, but now that he thought about it, his reputation would probably get in the way of getting honest answers, too.

...No—he'd have to swallow his stubborn pride, like Kirby had once said. Above everything else, he was a knight, and protecting people was more or less his duty, even if that definition had been lost long ago.

He waited for a few minutes, made sure there were no footsteps outside, then jumped out of bed and scurried out of the room before he could get caught.

6 Nov 2017

I, for one, am upset with myself. So I said, "So this is going to be a story where I don't let my OCs run loose and focus more on canon characters—" you can see how well that turned out with the second half of the chapter. Don't worry if you're not here for my lovable children, though, since the main plot centres around the quartet, so in the end, you'll be seeing them most often.

Anyway! Anyone who's read my other stories will know I'm not terribly fond of writing this whole, go-on-an-adventure, save-the-world kind of story. And I'm still not. Well, we all have to try at things in life and traumitise a few people here and there before we can acknowledge the fact that we should never do it again. Also, for the first few chapters or even more, I don't even plan on having much adventure/action...

Don't expect epic battle scenes either. Don't. Please don't. Just don't. Just—

Also, it's Meta Knight as the MC again. This story is flexible and I could've picked any of the main quartet to be the MC, actually. I crossed Kirby and Bandana Dee out because I've already focused a lot on them. That leaves MK and DDD. In the end, Meta took the spot because 1. LTtR did him no justice and I'm still so sorry about that 2. I already wrote The Vault in the Castle for Dedede and 3. it is most fun to break the characters that are usually unbreakable.

Hm? Did I say something weird? Something about breaking—oh, look, what a cute bunny! Oh, something about characters? Wasn't me. Nooooooope. Wasn't me. You're misreading things, right?

Take note this takes place in gameverse, just like how all my other fics do. So if you're unfamiliar with the background of the games, you may not understand some references/situations and find it confusing at times. You're still welcome to read, though! I love confusing people!

Ugh... first A/Ns always have to be long because I have to explain a lot of things. Knowing me I've also probably forgotten to mention something important here. Oh, well. Have fun reading! Or maybe not.