Harmony Never Really Dies

Chapter 10
Falling Forward in Pinch Mania

(Uploaded on June 18, 2020)

Summary: Kaede and Rantaro wake up to a new development: two more Ultimates have landed in Dream Land, and everybody's splitting up to go get them.

The Pianist can't help but feel dread course through her veins.

April 13, 2020 – Morning

Castle Dedede – Kaede's Room

Several knocks came from Kaede's door.

At first, she didn't reply to it, content to simply lay beneath her covers and let the morning pass her by.

She was comfortable here, dang it, and she wasn't going to give it up!

Unfortunately for her, though, the knocking persisted. And just as she thought she could simply ignore it, they were followed up by a familiar holler.

"Kaeeeeedeeeeee~! Time to get uppppp~!" Kirby's voice streamed in, loud and cheerful. "If you don't, I've got my loudspeaker up and ready to go-ooooo~!"

"Alright, alright!" she groaned, reluctantly pulling aside her bedsheets and sitting up. "I'm coming, don't scream at me!"

She hopped to her feet and trudged over to the doorway, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

Jeez, what time is it…? she thought, as she turned the knob. It feels like it's too early for this.

As expected, Kirby was outside, somehow perfectly fine and dandy despite the relatively early hour of the day. "Took you long enough," he said, grinning rather cheekily. "For someone so optimistic, you sure seem to like staying in bed a whole lot."

"Hey, it was hard to come by good sleep under Monokuma's watch," she protested. "At least here, I don't have to worry about if everyone'll still be alive come this afternoon."

(Actually, she was still spending her mornings—and her nights—thinking about that exact subject.

And her renewed life, and her somewhat-ebbing guilt.

But he didn't need to know that.)

The puffball's smile noticeably slipped. "Yeah, I… guess that's something you'd want to indulge in."

A tinge of reluctance settled into his features, along with some clearly-defined conflict.

"…Kaede. Something cropped up last night."

oh no.

The Pianist felt a shiver go up her spine. "Wh-What are you talking about, Kirby? You're—You're kind of scaring me here…"

"It's… not a tale I can just tell you now," he said. "It'll be best if you and Rantaro hear it at the same time."

Kaede bit her lip. Now she was really getting worried. "O-Okay. Where are we meeting up, then? The dining room again?"

"No. As much as I hate to say it, now's not the time to be enjoying breakfast." (He looked a little pained to admit it.) "We're gathering in front of Castle Dedede. You might have time to make a sandwich or whatever, but otherwise, we'd better make haste. C'mon!"

He started bounding down the hall, presumably headed toward the aforementioned area.

"Hey, wait up!" she called after him. She willed her feet to move, trying to match his way-too-fast pace as best she could. "I haven't mapped out this place yet; slow down a little!"

Castle Dedede – Entrance

The sky was clear, and the sun was bright.

This spring, it can be said, felt just right.

(Too bad things were kind of… tight, at the moment.)

"One, two, three, four…" Dedede was rattling off, finger hovering over everyone—"and I make five. Alright—we're all here!"

Bandana Dee yawned loudly. "Th-That's—That's pretty great!" he voiced, in his typical jittery fashion. "This'll make things… a bit easier, th-then!"

Kaede looked around at the mobilized party. There was her, tapping her foot against the ground; Rantaro, cool and calm as ever; Kirby, munching on a bologna sandwich (how'd he even get one so fast?)—and of course, King Dedede and Bandana Dee.

"So," she blurted out, in an attempt to alleviate her nervousness, "what did you call us in for, Kirby? It's gotta be important if you need both me and Rantaro to be here…"

"Yeah, that'd be nice to know," Rantaro chimed in, idly scanning his painted nails in disinterest. "I've got my own theory swirling about, but—I'd like to hear it from you first."

"Quick on the mark, aren't y'all?" Kirby stretched his arms into the sky, and let out a long sigh.

"Last night," he began, "the three of us—" He gestured toward his friends "—were woken up by a call from Meta Knight. You know, the guy we mentioned on Discord?"

The two Ultimates nodded. "I remember that," the Pianist said. "He's your friend—the one who's been away for a couple of weeks, you said."

"You got it! Anyway, he had some… unfortunate news to bring to the table. Some really, really unfortunate news." He paused, briefly considering the implications of what he was about to reveal. "I'm not one to beat 'round the bush, so I'll just say it outright: another Ultimate's been found on Pop Star."

Kaede's throat hitched.


"And they're not the only one," Dedede grimly continued. "Though I've only got context clues to go off of, there's good odds on there being two new visitors instead of one. One a victim, one a… well, you get the idea."

She couldn't breathe.

All of a sudden, Kaede couldn't breathe.

This—This can't be happening, her mind insisted. It can't be! Because… Because…! That would mean—!

it's all my fault—

Rantaro had a much more subdued reaction, nowhere near the flat-out frozen state Kaede had fallen into. Grimacing, though certainly not surprised, he said, "I… can't say I hadn't expected that to happen eventually. Monokuma wouldn't have been satisfied with only one Class Trial, after all."

He took notice of how stiff she had become, and immediately moved to grasp her hand. From the way her arms were shaking, she almost seemed like a firecracker ready to burst—and not in a fun manner, like you'd normally expect.

"…Kaede?" he frowned, shaking her a bit. "Are you okay?"

Hearing Rantaro's concern broke her out of her trance. "O-Oh!" She straightened herself out and put on the bravest face she could. "Y-Yeah! I'm fine. I'm fine! N-N-Nothing to worry about here! Nope!"

(Internally, Kirby made plans to ramp up the impromptu therapy sessions.)

Jeez, that didn't sound convincing even to me, the Pianist thought. I hope they just ignore that…

The Ultimate Question Mark took in a breath, and decided that was the best he was going to get. "If you say so." He brought his attention back on the native trio, and asked, "So… which of our friends made it here, and where did they end up? I mean, that's why we're gathered outside to begin with, right? To get them?"

"That's correct," Kirby confirmed. "Meta Knight's holding our blackened over at Orange Ocean, and our victim's… somewhere in our current vicinity, I think. Not sure where; I was gonna search for 'im using my gut instinct."

"If this was anyone else, we'd probably let you sleep in and greet these newcomers by ourselves," Dedede admitted. "But it isn't—and I'm not about to leave you two outta your own stories.

"So, we're gonna handle this by splitting up. Kirby and Rantaro are gonna look for the other guy, while Kaede, Dee, and I head off to Meta Knight's place to pick up… her. Afterward, we'll meet back up here and figure out what to do next."

Bandana Dee nodded vigorously. "Th-The sooner we get this done, th-the better! B-Besides, the idea of a k-k-k-killer being free in Dream Land is—t-t-t-terrifying!For as bad as our crises get, a-at least nobody died during them!"

I guess that is pretty bad by their standards, huh?

All things considered, it was a reasonably solid plan – much more concrete than anything Kaede could come up with. But if there were any gripes she had with it…

"How are we gonna get around, though?" she brought up, understandably worried. "From what I can tell, there's not much in the way of cars or anything…"

Kirby brightened up. "Why, I'm glad you asked!"

He dug into his hammerspace and pulled out a star, glowing and golden. He jumped onto it as it hovered about in the air, and—after he himself lit up for a bit—promptly made a second one appear next to it.

"Behold," he proclaimed, "the Warp Star! The trusted vehicle for any Hero of the Stars!"

Kaede was in awe. "Whoa…"

Rantaro whistled. "Hmm… not bad. Just what I'd expect for a guy like you."

Dedede and Bandana Dee hopped on the spare Warp Star, both of them riding on its side. "C'mon, you two," the regent beckoned them—"hop on! It's not dangerous, so long as you've got a good grip!"

Before too long, everyone was on a Warp Star and ready for takeoff.

"It's time for a small-time adventure!" the pink puffball cheered, lifting one hand into the air. "Ready to go on a ride, Rantaro!?"

The aforementioned Ultimate Question Mark chuckled, one hand rubbing the back of his head. "Don't really have much of a choice in the matter, do I?"

"Hey, you can do better than that, Rantaro!" he pouted. "Show some excitement!"

"Fine, fine…" Lazily, the teen pumped a fist up and smiled. "Ahem—adventure time~!"

Despite herself, Kaede giggled. That's just adorable. The two of them can be such dorks, sometimes.

"That's the spirit!" Kirby grinned. "Now, without further adieu… away we go! First stop: the Great Forest!"

"Wait, what? Wh-Whoaaaaaaaaaaa—!"

Suddenly, Kirby's Warp Star began to bounce all over the place. Startled, Kaede watched as the hero displayed the driving skills of a toddler, before shooting off wildly into the sky.



Dedede sighed. "Same as ever, I see…"

"G-Good thing I'm not the one riding with him th-this time," Bandana Dee muttered. "I—I don't need more a-adrenaline today…"

"Guys, I—Rantaro'll be safe, right?" the former protagonist queried, eyes still drawn to where the duo used to be. "'Cause that was—that was, uhh…"

Kaede had no idea what to think.

(…I could totally drive better than that.)

"…something else."

"For as crazy as Kirby's piloting can get, he's never failed to get us to our destination," the resident ruler assured her. "Rantaro will be fine, trust me. 'Sides, he strikes me as the type to stay calm through anything."

Taking control of their vehicle, Dedede carefully started guiding the three of them in the direction of Orange Ocean. "'Nuff sitting around. We don't wanna keep Meta Knight waiting forever. You guys ready?"

"O-Of course I am!"

"Anytime, G-Great King!"

"If you both are, then let's go!"

And so, the second Warp Star flew off into the horizon—and the page turned on the next chapter of this story.

What awaited our harmonious crew, none could really say. Few worlds, if any, ever receive the benefit of foresight.

But if there was one thing Kaede wished dearly for, it was…

Please don't be Shuichi, please don't be Shuichi, please don't be Shuichi…

Kirby & Rantaro

Green Gardens – Skies

Eventually, Kirby stabilized his driving, and the Warp Star more naturally soared through the sky.

Rantaro let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. "Phew… I think I lost a few years of my life from that stunt," he admitted. "Give a guy a little warning next time, would you?"

"Aww, but then things wouldn't be as entertaining~!" Kirby sang. "Half the fun of this comes from the adrenaline rush, after all!"

"I wouldn't say that personally, but—you do you, I guess."

Now that he had a chance to relax, Rantaro could properly appreciate the beauty of the endless expanses before him.

Green as far as the eye can see; trees and lakes blossoming with life… Dream Land was a paradise untouched by the trappings of modern civilization. The emerald-haired boy could easily imagine himself down on the ground, freely seeing the sights for hours on end. Of all the locales he'd seen… this may just be the pinnacle.

wait, 'of all the locales'? Why is that statement giving me so much déjà vu all of a sudden…?

Memories stirred up in his head—images of mountains, waterfalls, chasms, and the like.

He put a hand to his forehead and frowned. Oh, that's why. It's related to my missing memories.

Said memories were brief and barely able to be parsed, but still—it was hard to mistake them for anything else.

I'm beginning to think I should keep a memory diary or something, because piecing all this together is going to be hard by myself…

The two adventurers sat in silence for a short minute, letting the cool spring breeze wash over their backs.

"…hey, quick question," the pink puffball piped up—"what have your dreams been like, as of late?"

"My… dreams?" Rantaro repeated. "That's an odd subject to bring up."

"Eh, not really. This place isn't called Dream Land for nothing."

"Point taken." He put a hand to the side of his head as he thought long and hard. "I've been having what I think are flashbacks, these past few nights. They're nothing too revealing, just—little glimpses here and there. A lot of varied environments, too, which really makes me wonder what the type of life I used to lead."

"That's… better than I expected, actually. The Fountain's definitely not wasting any time with you."

Two eyes, green and angular, blinked in confusion. "Excuse me? Fountain?"

"Oh, that's right! Dedede and I haven't told you 'bout the Resort yet. Ahem!" Kirby cleared his throat, and began to explain. "One thing that gives Dream Land its reputation as a 'World of Peace' is the Fountain of Dreams—a mystical spring that supplies everybody here good dreams and restful sleep. There are many Fountains like it in the Galaxy, but out of all of them, ours is the most magical."

Quick as a fox, he pulled out his Star Phone, opened up the Gallery app, and handed it to Rantaro (tossing it to him would mean a broken phone, and he liked his phone, thank you very much). "Speaking of which… here's what it looks like! Heck of a sight, isn't it?"

The Ultimate Question Mark stared at the photo on-screen. Rainbow waters surrounded an overflowing fountain, a star-tipped rod sitting atop a pedestal in the middle. Transcendent plants and tower tops rose high in the background, further adding to the mystique of the overall area.

"A fountain of literal dreams, huh… I should be surprised, but that's just how you guys roll." He handed the phone back and hummed. "You think it's connected to my flashbacks?"

"Probably! I wouldn't know for sure; the Fountain's mysterious, even to us—but hey, it wouldn't be surprised. I mean, if we can have… the Dream Palaces reviving others, then…" He trailed off, his implication left unsaid.

and the mystery continues to build and build, Rantaro thought.

The hero looked toward the horizon. "Okay, the Great Forest is coming up! Hopefully, we'll find our first clue with the Animal Buddies."

He pushed the Warp Star to go faster, wearing a grin about as wide as the bologna sandwich he had eaten. "Let's go! Full speed ahead!"

His current companion sighed. "Not again… this is something I'm gonna have to get used to, isn't it?"

Great Forest

"Heyyyyy, Kirby! Over hereeeeeee!"

A pink, slime-esque octopus was sitting at the edge of the Great Forest. She was waving enthusiastically at the sky, waiting for that far-away shooting star above to come into range.

"Chuchu," a tired male's voice broke in, "you know you don't have to shout that loud. They can't hear you from here."

The owner of the voice—an orange bobtail cat—was waiting with her, though it was evident he'd rather be doing something else instead.

The octopus turned to face him and pouted. "I know that, Nago—but somebody's gotta do it! Who's gonna be his beacon here if not us?"

Nago snorted at her question. "He doesn't need a beacon. All he needs to do is walk on in whenever he feels like it. It's not rocket science."

Rounding out this trio of Animal Buddies was a small, lime-colored bird, hopping up and down in a childlike manner.

"It's still a nice thing to do," he chirped. "Mama always says you should be nice wherever you can."

Chuchu nodded. "Pitch is right! And it's not like Kirby won't want to hear about last night, anyway. Might as well give it to him straight off!"

"I suppose…"

Suddenly, the not-exactly-a-shooting star began to rocket wildly all over the place. Two figures could be seen riding it as it grew closer and closer—one being Kirby, the other being some green-haired kid.

The feline held a paw over his eyes and squinted. "…yep, that's Kirby. No one else can understand and misunderstand how to drive like he can."

After a few more moments of this, the Warp Star at last shot down in front of the Great Forest.

The two riders went flying off upon impact, as was prone to happen with Warp Stars. Kirby landed on his feet and raised his arms in the air, utter triumph on his face. "Ta-daaaaaaaa~!" he shouted—"Kirby, the master of all things food and friendship, has finally arrived!"

Rantaro, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. He fell face-first and unceremoniously ate dirt, his body slumping to the ground afterward.

A groan came from his lips as he lifted a single finger high. "Don't forget me," he said, semi-coherently. "Rantaro Amami, master of… the unknown. Probably." The finger went back down. "Nice to meet you… is what I'd like to say, but first I want my body to stop shaking. Brrrrrrrrrr…"

Nago snickered. Chuchu shot him a glare.

Pitch smiled. "Hi, Kirby," he greeted. "You look happy this morning."

"Same to you," the puffball replied.

"Ooh, you've got a new friend with you!" the octopus noted, delighted. She went over to the boy and tapped his shoulder. "Rantaro, right? I'm Chuchu, and this is Pitch and Nago."

He lifted his head and waved a hand. "Hey. Kirby drives like crazy. It's terrible."

"Pfft. I'm not that bad."

"It's an acquired taste," Chuchu admitted. "You learn to live with it after a while."

A whine. "Hey…"

She turned back to Kirby. "So, he's handsome and all, but there's gotta be more to you guys coming over than just wanting to visit. Does he have a story to tell?"

"That's part of why we're here, actually," he said, walking to them with a spring in his step. "A whole bunch of dimensional refugees are slowly popping up all over Pop Star, and today we've got two to find! We've already pinned one down, so we were hoping that you guys had any clues to where their partner is."

"A whole wide world to search, and we're your first choice?" the bobtail cat asked. "What, was there literally nowhere else you could think to go?"

"Hey, we can't all be Magolor with his fancy-schmancy everything-detecting ship," Kirby shrugged. "Besides, you're my friends: you three, Rick, Kine, Coo—and Gooey, too! I'd trust you guys with stuff like this any day, planetary crisis or not!"

"That's quite the accolade you're giving them," Rantaro spoke up, now freshly recovered. He scratched the back of his head. "Though, I get the feeling you're like that for a lot of your friends."

"Wow, you already know me so well!" he grinned.

("Not like it's that hard to figure you out," Nago snarked.)

Chuchu beamed. "If you're looking for a new friend, then you're in luck, Kirby! He just showed up last night—and right this way, too!" She latched onto the hero's head, pointing a tentacle deeper into the forest.

"Talk about convenient," the puffball remarked—"not that I'm complaining! Well, no point in sitting around anymore—let's go see everyone!"

"Yay," Pitch tweeted. "I love hanging out with everyone."

"Heh heh… that certainly sounds exciting," Rantaro chuckled. "Lead the way, you four."

Kaede, Dedede, Dee

Orange Ocean

Despite the fact that it was barely even morning, the sky had inexplicably turned orange.

"Holy crap…" Kaede breathed, as she watched the colors transition before her very eyes. "It's sunset already? No, wait—it's… sunrise here? Uhhhhhhh?"

Dedede laughed—she was so caught off-guard by everything, it was honestly cute. "Welcome to the Orange Ocean, Kaede," he said. "There isn't a place in Dream Land with a more beautiful sunset. Or a more eternal sunset, for that matter."

"If—If you think this is impressive, you should see the R-Rainbow Resort!" Bandana Dee piped up. "It's always n-n-night there! The P-Popopo Islands are a must-see, too, and we can't f-forget the Gigabyte Grounds and R-Rhythm Route and—and—"

"Okay, that's way too many places for me to keep track of," the former protagonist intervened, a sweatdrop rolling down her head.

"S-Sorry!" the assistant apologized. "I just get a bit ex—excited about things, sometimes…"

The regent snorted heartily. "Sometimes? Try all the time, Dee."

"I can't help it! It's hard not to be emotionally invested in everything that happens!"

Kaede's lips twitched. "Still… they all sound pretty distinct from one another. Earth has its fair share of attractions too, but—they're nothing like what I've seen so far. And we're getting to see all of it. Me, Rantaro, and all of my—"

She stopped.

My what? Friends? Acquaintances?

(Were they ever really that, now that I know that my sacrifice meant nothing to them?)

"…all of my classmates. Who are… murdering each other. And… aren't doing it to save everyone else, like me." She slumped, her free arm clutching the other.

And that's… kind of the worst part about it, isn't it?

"That's a heavy burden to bear," Dedede said, now frowning deeply. "…you know, if this is too much for you, I can always bring you back to the castle."

"No." Kaede's reply was instantaneous. "No, I—I have to see this through. I told Shuichi not to run from the truth, so—so I can't, either."

It was easy for him to sense her reluctance to do so. She was only a teenager, after all, and last week weighed enough on her soul as it was.

But despite all that… he could tell she needed this.

"…alright," he sighed. "I hope, for your sake, this is something you can live with."

"…yeah. I hope so, too."

Bandana Dee sniffled. "K-Kaede…"

At last, the trio's destination came into view.

A massive silver dome lay ahead, sitting on the shore of a beach. In front of it was a collection of buildings arranged like a military post, with one large multi-floor one standing in the center. The whole site stood as a stark contrast to the rest of Pop Star—well-suiting the purpose for which it was built.

This was the Meta-Knights H.Q.—home to Meta Knight's elite force of soldiers.

"The hangar's closed," Dedede noted. "That means Meta Knight's already home."

"Your friend lives here?" the Pianist asked, eyes wide in wonder. "He must be one heck of a guy, if he's got this backing him up…"

"Th-That's Meta Knight in a n-nutshell!" the assistant chimed in, cheerfully. "He wouldn't be him if he wasn't so p-p-prepared all the time!" He squinted ahead, and lightened up. "S-Speaking of which… there he is now! Look!"

A navy blue figure stood at the front of the fortress, just barely within the periphery of Kaede's vision. His proportions were much like Kirby's, but he was more heavily armored: a mask, shoulder pads, gauntlets, the works. He had a cape wrapped around himself, and looked for all the world like he was an utterly unflappable guardian.

"As punctual as ever," Dedede said. "Time to come in for a landing, then."

Meta-Knights H.Q. – Entrance

The base was experiencing an unprecedented amount of activity.

Knights of all shapes and sizes were running about—either to get back into the swing of things, or to deal with the new development from last night.

Meta Knight let the ambient noises aid in his meditation.

If there is any one thing I can take solace in, it is this, he mused—no one can take these moments of normalcy away, no matter how hard they may try.

Which was good, because sometimes, his mind just needed a break. Even a knight as resilient as him could only handle so much.

Speaking of normalcy…

A twinkling light had appeared in the sky, growing brighter and brighter with every second.

He smiled. It was impossible to mistake that shine as anything other than a Warp Star.

"Heads up, soldiers," he called as a precaution—"we have authorized visitors arriving. Repeat, we have authorized visitors arriving. Do not disrupt your routine; this is not an emergency."

Several faces briefly jolted upward, before nodding in confirmation. "Yes, sir!"

Finally, the star came rocketing downward, dissipating with a distinct 'SCHING!' once it hit the floor. Its passengers—King Dedede, Bandana Dee, and Kaede—managed to land on their feet, though the Pianist stumbled a bit due to her inexperience.

The king caught sight of one of his oldest friends and waved. "Yo! Meta Knight!"

"Dedede, Dee," Meta Knight greeted. "It's good to see you again." He turned to their last companion. "And… you are Kaede Akamatsu, I take it?"

"H-Huh? Oh, yes!" The blonde-haired girl stood at attention. "That's me! Kaede Akamatsu, the Ultimate Pianist, a-at your service!"

"You don't need to be so respectful," he chuckled. "I am perfectly capable of being informal, so long as you show no immediate danger to me."

"R-Really? Well, that's—that's a relief." She soaked in the world around her, where she could see training exercises being performed and several duties being carried out. "From what I'm seeing here, I thought you'd be more of the… ultra-serious type. N-Not like that's a bad thing, of course!" she quickly corrected, frantically shaking her hands. "I mean, Maki was like that back at the Academy and I wouldn't disparage her for it or anything—"

Meta Knight cracked a smile, unseen. "You're a good fit for Dream Land," he said. "Though you're still budding, you've got that light of hope in your heart—just like Kirby. It's no wonder why you were chosen to come here."

"Th-Thanks?" Oh gee, she internally freaked, my—my face is heating up like nothing else! Ahhhh!

I'd really like to be able to keep my fingers busy right now…! Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 might be nice…

He shook his head. "Now, with the pleasantries out of the way, we should move on to the reason why I had you come over."

"Our second blackened," Dedede nodded, his features going steely.

Bandana Dee instinctively shivered. (Kaede wanted to do the same.)

"Indeed." He gestured for them to follow him into the main building. "She is currently being held in one of the interrogation rooms. I would have brought her out to greet you, but after her explosive entrance last night, I have deemed her too much of a flight risk to attempt that."

Dedede and Kaede glanced about the area; several of the Meta-Knights were noticeably on-guard, more than usual. "Given the way you said she held her ground, I'm not surprised," the regent muttered. "And it certainly doesn't help that she came in without any advance warning."

Kaede balled her hands into fists.

A myriad of thoughts went through her head, but she couldn't bring herself to voice any of them.

All she could do was circle around a single one, vainly trying to puzzle out one thing above all else:


"Here's the plan," Meta Knight continued: "Kaede is a familiar face to her, and will know her better than I do – and you, Dedede, have plenty of experience in being a ruler yourself. Together, we should be able to bring her to her senses – losing someone so talented would be quite the waste, in my opinion."

"Yeah, we—we can't dispute th-that!" the little assistant agreed. He made sure to keep a good grasp on his trusty spear. "We've met t-too many unre—redeemable enemies; it'd be nice t-to not add another to the l-list!"

…now wasn't that depressing to think about.

The Pianist breathed in and out—not very calmly, but close enough. "Okay, then. We'll—We'll figure things out when we get there. Hopefully, this… won't be too bad."

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

That's what they always say.

(It's such a shame that line of thinking wasn't enough to save anybody.)

This chapter's title is derived from the lyrics to Oktavia's cover of Rats Died.

We've finally getting into the real meat of this fic, a year-and-a-half after publishing this fic. With Ryoma and Kirumi around, the main crew's dynamic will be far more interesting. On one hand, it'll mean I get to be more creative and flex my character-writing muscles…

but on the other hand, things'll be getting increasingly more headache-inducing, given the nature of this fic.

Much like I'm doing with Star Allies, Unite!, I'm aiming to juggle a bevy of unique team-ups: i.e. Kaede with Kirumi, and Rantaro with Ryoma. (Huh, they're alliterative!) I want to highlight the nuances of everyone's personalities, and this seems like the best way to do it.

Of course, I'll have to account for Kirby and co. joining in the fun—not to mention, the cast list is gonna be growing over time. Still though, I promise to ensure everything's up to my usual quality standards. Anything less would be an insult!

Well, that's all for now – tune in next time for part two of this second reunion!