A/N: Spoilers in this fic regarding the backstory behind the Three Mage-Sisters, inclusive of minor plot concepts which somewhat spoils the end scenario and boss of Heroes in Another Dimension.
"Permission to deliver status report, General Zan Partizanne!"
Zan leaned back on her chair at the very summit of the Heavenly Hall, allowing a passing glance down to the Jammerjab kneeling by her front. "Alright. You may proceed," she ordered.
"Well, how would I say this…" His calm voice lasted only for a fleeting moment. "We're in big trouble! The Jambastion is in critical condition, ma'am!" the Jammerjab detailed with a tremor in his voice. "The battalions in the Longview Corridor and the Inner Sanctum have both fallen to the enemy! Even the Blazing and Frozen Generals are down…"
He tentatively paused to observe his superior's expression before finishing his report, continuing only when he ensured that Zan was calm. "Major security breaches to those areas of the fortress means that we suspect that the intruders are most likely headed directly your way." He gave a firm nod as he concluded. "Yes, so that they can target the power core of the Jambastion, located here in the Heavenly Hall!"
The mage glanced back to the yellow sphere that dimly glowed behind her. Well, those pesky intruders would have to go through her dead body to get to it.
"So by the way, what is the point of this report, sergeant?" Zan proceeded to respond dismissively. "I knew that those intruders would target this place from the start. It was very blatantly obvious that they would aim for a high-profile target," the mage stated bluntly while admiring the piece of Jamba Heart that she was holding in her hand. "How about if you tell me about something which I don't know, perchance?"
The Jammerjab gulped, unable to meet his commanding officer's eyes. "We-well…" he stammered, "I-I'm just here to inform you that we're all abandoning our posts. And to confess, uh well… everyone's actually already evacuated! In fact, I'm the only one left here!" As Zan raised her eyebrow at the news, he profusely apologized to her. "I'm so sorry for this, ma'am! From what my platoon mates who were at their guard posts told me, the intruders are just too strong! I must apologize—"
"Acknowledged." The Jammerjab stopped his mumbling, gaping at his officer in surprise as she cut him off with that single word.
Astoundingly, there was not much anger from her voice. In fact, it almost seemed as though she had expected this from him. Befuddled, he opened his mouth to speak. "Um… ma'am?"
"If you weaklings wish to flee, then so be it. You are now dismissed from duty, Sergeant Bobby." Zan commanded, waving the Jammerjab off. "Scoot off already. I will handle this."
"But… ma'am!" he protested, "You're staying back here!? You're actually facing them all by yourself, ma'am?"
Zan narrowed her eyes at the implicit meaning behind his words, words that betrayed his inner thoughts. "Hmph. You would doubt my strength, soldier?"
"N-n-no!" he stuttered in denial. "But I'm telling you, they're crazy strong! Apparently—"
Zan cut off the rambling Jammerjab before he could carry on. "Oh, why are you still standing here and yapping away? Did you not wish to flee?" she spat with vitriol, pointing towards the exit from her seat with a glare. "Jambuhbye! Get out of my sight already, you sniveling coward! And that's an order!"
The Jammerjab could only nod at her meekly before scurrying away with his tail between his legs.
The electric mage then sighed to herself as she found herself all alone, only able to shake her head in disappointment once the sergeant had left the room. Good help really was hard to find these days…
Zan jolted, tensing up as she heard a resounding crash coming from her right. Turning her eyes, she then performed a double-take when she saw the complete devastation that was now before her.
What had previously been the door now lay in pieces strewn about the floor, completely crumbled into chunks of rocks. She traced the debris field and soon found the culprit for her destroyed wall — a small light blue spacecraft, no larger than the size of the glowing power core behind her, had been the one responsible. It had zoomed through what had formerly been the door on her right, its momentum causing it to crash through the entire room and end up embedded in the wall to her left.
She simply stared at the wreckage, slowly shaking her head in disbelief.
She almost swore that she was going crazy. It appeared as though she had heard the sound of a train whistle.
Oh wait… it was. Or at least, a poor man's imitation of it.
Zan turned to what had formerly been the door at the sound and saw a round blue-robed… thing had been the one who had imitated the toot-like sound.
He calmly strolled into the room through the gaping hole that had been left behind from the impact of the starship that crashed right through it, his bright eyes shining with joy as he looked upon the devastation. "Alright, guys! We hoped that you've enjoyed your flight aboard the Starcutter Express!" he waved, "Please rate your captain on a numerical score out of ten."
Zan's eyes flickered, glancing to an equally round pink puffball with a glob of water precariously balanced on the top of his head. He cautiously climbed out of the starship that had crashed to Zan's left when it'd flew through the room, pushing through the wreckage so that he could vitriolically shove the first guy in jest.
"Only I'm allowed to say 'choo-choo'!" the pink ball retorted indignantly. "You may command the Lor Starcutter, but I lead the Friend Train! Don't steal my role… remember, you swore an oath to me that you were over that!"
He chuckled back, cutely winking with his amber eyes as he held back a giggle. "Alright, that was cheeky, I admit. But still, you can't deny it… we totally came in like a wrecking ball~"
"Please stop." An arachnid-like creature clutched his face with a good portion of his limbs as he jumped off the ship that was awkwardly jutting out of the wall. The deadpan expression he had on his face made him looked ready to throw something at his blue-clothed friend. "That one physically hurt me."
"Well, perhaps you simply have no taste, spidey." A small pink-hair female hovered down gently to the ground with a helicopter-like rotor blade in her hand. As she touched down, the blue spacecraft that was embedded in the wall suddenly disappeared into thin air — magically vanishing the instant all of its passengers had gotten off his helm.
"Hey!" the blue person fired back with unhappy eyes. "At least be more grateful! I'll wager that my Lor Starcutter is ten times more comfortable than your Business Suit!"
"…I demand for you to take that back," she replied calmly after a pause. "Haltmann Works produces only the finest robotic machines."
"Tehehehehee! Never! You'll have to make me cry uncle!"
"Don't test me, bally." There was a trace of venom in the female's voice. "I actually will make you cry. Do you want to be a willing participant in Haltmann Works' next robotic trial?"
"Guys, guys!" The arachnid floated between the blue magician and pink female in an attempt to mediate the escalating situation, the tips of the horns on his helmet glinting as if in warning. "Calm down… we shouldn't be fighting one another like this!"
The female momentarily switched her gaze from the chuckling blue ball to the green-caped arachnid, giving the would-be mediator a cautionary glare. "Be careful there. You best stay out of this, spider boy!"
"Spider boy?" The pink puffball chuckled with mirth in the distance. "Now that's a good nickname!"
An eyebrow twitched. "And you stay out of this too, pinky!" she added.
As the voices and arguments grew louder and more discernible, Zan could only stare at the ragtag group of four from her vantage point. Really? This was what that blubbering Jammerjab was so afraid of?
It was ridiculous… completely absurd. Frankly, it was befitting of an April Fool's joke. She couldn't believe that such a meager resistance had been the ones to cause so much damage and make it this far into their fortress.
How had they done it? Was it through skill or dumb luck? Seeing their current antics, she was quick to assume that it was likely the latter.
Nevertheless, she promptly recovered from her shock and subsequently flashed the quartet to her front a calm expression, maintaining her composure by taking in a deep breath.
Despite how unassuming they might look at first glance, these people had caused her—and more importantly, the Jambastion Cult—a significant amount of trouble. No one ever meddled with their affairs and got away with it scot-free. And since those pests had somehow dispatched both Franny and Berge, that made it personal for Zan.
The general wasted no time in showing that, using her swift speed to zip to the front of the arguing intruders, simultaneously releasing her hold on the Jamba Heart and letting it float eerily in the air beside her. With her flashy entrance, she had quickly earned everyone's full attention, all their prior chatting now silenced.
Deciding to be more regal than she normally would be in this situation, she gestured her hands forward, respectfully taking a deep bow to her opponents with her eyes closed. "Bonjam." Zan raised her head in greeting, opening her eyes to peer closely at the foes that were standing by her front.
"I am Zan Partizanne, the eldest of the three generals of magic," she introduced with faux politeness… although she found that she was quickly unable to keep the venom out of her voice, her pleasant pretext shattering fast. "At first, I thought that you were all merely simpletons with a knack for annoyance…"
The mage glowered at the foolhardy group who dared to stand before her — two round things, a spider, and a female with a figure similar to hers. What a group of misfits. "Hmph!" Zan snorted, "But now, it's blatantly clear to me that you insects are all interfering interlopers!"
She shook her head, an amused chuckle leaving her lips, lips that happened to be obscured by the high-cut collar of her mage attire. "But I'm terribly afraid that your unwanted wanderings will end here," she lamented, letting a trace of pity creep into her voice at the thought of the trouncing that she was going to hand to them on a silver platter.
"By the will of our beloved liege, Lord Hyness, Officiant of Doom…" Without any fanfare, she raised her right arm and summoned her weapon out of thin air, the motion causing the others that were gathered towards her front to instinctively ready their stances in response.
"…I shall obliterate the entire lot of you, right here and now!"
Zan prepared to fight as she let out a battle cry, leaning forward as she flashed her opponents a vicious smile, her yellow outfit juxtaposed with her sparring weapon of choice — a partizan infused with high-voltage electricity.
Gracefully twirling the glowing weapon around her body with her fingers in a display meant to terrify them, Zan then gripped the handle of her partizan and thrust the triple-pronged blade forward, the maneuver unintentionally signifying the start of the battle.
She immediately tried to catch them all off guard by using her blitzing speed to her advantage, zipping around the arena in a sporadic manner to try and abuse their blind spots. Ending up behind the group, she proceeded to slash at them in a wide arc using her electrified weapon.
To her disdain, she missed — her partizan encountering nothing but air. The end of her slash wound up slamming right into the pieces of debris that had fallen to the ground, which promptly turned the large chunks of wreckage into much finer particles due to a combination of the impact and the electricity.
Almost at once, her four opponents split up into different directions, the arena turning into a barrage of projectiles.
Waves of dark energy, plasma shots, purple spikes, and globs of water — they were all fired without restraint. Bombarded by the relentless wave of projectiles which quickly engulfed the area, Zan zipped back and forth to dodge as many of the attacks as she could.
"Ha!" she taunted as she zipped to the center of the room, lifting her partizan vertically to the ceiling manifesting a lightning cloud above her — her Lightning Lemonade move. "You're too slow!" she smirked as she shot two bolts of lightning down while moving back and forth across the area. "Ahahaha! You have to try better than that!"
"Okay! Sure thing!"
Zan quirked her head, staring at the blue-robed magician who had stated that to her in response. "Hmph!" she snorted while chortling at him, a reaction which prompted him to huff and hold his arms down below. "What do you even have, anyway?" she mocked, jeering at him as she laughed heartily.
"This!" He gleefully announced with a prideful voice. "Behold, my beautiful ship… the Lor Starcutter!" He raised his cream-yellow arms to the sky, summoning an energy sphere containing a mini ship within the spherical orb just above him as he began to charge up.
Zan recognized it as a miniature version of the ship that had crashed into her room earlier. How cute… a model ship. She laughed at his pitiful attempts to justify his words.
What was he going to do with that? Place it in a bottle?
As a result, she didn't notice his eyes glowing in amusement as he quietly beckoned his allies to head towards the anchored ship.
When she finally recovered from her laughing fit, Zan opened her eyes and quickly changed her tune when she saw that the spaceship above his head had grown at least ten times in size.
"You didn't think that tiny thing from earlier was the Lor, did you?" he shook his head at the flabbergasted Zan, his sarcastic voice the very definition of 'mockery'. Glancing up at the three passengers that had climbed onto the ship's helm, he then thrust his hand forward, launching the ship at full speed towards her.
Zan stood transfixed to the spot as she stared at the attack that was headed directly her way. The mage only snapped out of her stupor when she realized that she most definitely did not want to end up in the range of that attack, using her natural speed to barely zip out of the ship's trajectory before it ploughed through the air where she had been just floating at mere seconds ago.
"Not bad!" He clapped his hands and applauded a panting Zan as his eyes twinkled mischievously. "You were the first of the three to recover from your shock in time to actually dodge that on the first go. The other two got totally owned by it, just like the rest of the ground troops in this fortress!"
"Japologa…?" A glimmer of confusion crept onto her face, before being quickly replaced by boiling anger that was more reminiscent of her hot-blooded sister.
Franny and Berge…
Zan felt her hands clenching into fists at the diminutive egg-shaped alien in front of her.
"Yeah, the other two who looked like you," he clarified when he saw the aggravated Zan. "I'd used this attack on the both of them and totally wrecked them like you wouldn't believe—"
"How dare you!? You little runt!" Zan screamed with an intensity quite anything unlike her usual self. It was so dissimilar to her that even her own men had never seen her like that, not even when she was forced to her limits due to the chains of commanding. "So you were the one responsible for taking out my sisters! Why, you… I will make you pay dearly for your insolence!"
Her eyes gleaming with anger, she darted forward with her zigzag quick-zip maneuver and stopped to his front, preparing to bring her arm with her weapon sharply down at the cocky alien.
He appeared momentarily surprised, but quickly recovered and held his hands out, forming a translucent purple five-point star shield which allowed him to parry the blow. "Tsk, tsk…" he reprimanded as he took down the shield and held his hands above his head. "That wasn't nice."
Zan's eyes narrowed to slits. "All's fair in love and war," she quoted.
Her strategic mind told her to focus on the blue-robed being. She could assume and was almost certain that this particular foe was the main powerhouse of the group and was responsible for most of the damage that her Jambastion had incurred.
So if she played her cards right and took him out early in the fight, she would be able to later eliminate the remaining three at her leisure.
It was only then that she noticed the hidden smirk on her light blue opponent's eyes. It didn't matter if his mouth was being obscured — she could see the smirk in his taunting amber eyes regardless.
Following his eyes, she quickly realized why. The dark shadow on the ground that she hadn't noticed prior to him fake-raising his hands in surrender told her everything.
He hadn't raised his arms in surrender at all. Not if the giant sword which he held over their heads like an executioner's blade had anything to say about that.
"What was that you were just saying? 'All's fair in love and war', am I right?" he repeated Zan's own quote to her with a cheeky laugh.
"I hate you."
He merely chuckled in acknowledgment before impertinently bringing down the Ultra Sword that he held over his head directly on Zan.
Her partizan was futile in blocking the giant sword, and thus she felt his attack slice through her lower body.
"Ughh!" Zan wheezed, breathing heavily as she subsequently chose to retreat and headed for the middle of the room. After the piercing blow, she was so exhausted that she couldn't even lift her partizan. With beads of sweat flowing down her blonde locks, the mage stared down her four opponents.
Was all she'd suffered through really just from one of them? Impossible!
"What is this power… that you wield?" she panted as she clutched her chest with her free hand. "Never have I seen it before, not in all the years that I've served under Lord Hyness…"
The pink puffball strode forward to answer her question in the most passive-aggressive way that he could. "Well, it's a truly fearsome force… the Power of Friendship!"
Cliché as it was, it appeared to Zan from the determined look in her opponent's ocean-blue eyes that he genuinely believed in his own words.
Th-that… stupid optimist!
"Ja-Jamblasted…" she muttered, wearily gazing at her smug opponents. "J-Just… just who the hell are the lot of you?!"
The puffball beamed at her question. "Yes! I've been waiting for you to ask that!" he admitted, before waving to her with a cheerful smile. "Greetings! I'm Kirby of Dream Land, your everyday hero who rides on the spring breeze to victory!"
Continuing on, the one who Zan knew as the "annoying blue runt" spoke up. "Hey, y'all! My name's Magolor! I'm a Halcandran, through and through!"
Zan made a vow to ingrain that name into her deepest memory synapses as the caped spider took his turn next, starting his introduction with a formal bow. "Um… hello. I'm Taranza, temporary replacement ruler of the Kingdom of Floralia. Although personally, I would have liked for us to meet under better circumstances…"
Kirby's eyes then lingered on the last of the four. Seeing everyone's gaze fall upon her, the pink-haired person began to sing with her discombobulated limbs stretching out to the sky.
"Noble Haltmann, we adore him… Noble Haltmann, we adore him…"
Zan gaped, befuddled by her actions. What was she doing? Being a soprano in a choir?
"…every day, we wish… him glory!" she concluded the verse with her arms pumped up to the air, her eyes shining with firm determination. "That is the song of our Noble Haltmann, the theme song of Haltmann Works Company… of which I am its current chief secretary, Susie."
As the introductions were finally completed, Zan muttered a curt reply in response.
"My question was sarcastic, you know? Why would I wish to know the names of my enemies?" Before any of the outraged intruders could retort, Zan pre-empted them by angrily thrusting her hands to her sides.
"You… jamblasted, the whole bloomin' lot of you! I don't care who you are… all I care about was that you had the nerve to defy us! This was supposed to be a simple mission to complete the Jamba Heart before you lot showed up!"
Kirby folded his arms together, the puffball arrogantly winking at her with a teasing smirk plastered on his face. "Well, that's what you get for messing with our Planet Popstar! We don't take hostile planetary takeovers lightly!" he said, gesturing to his three friends. "If you don't believe me, you can ask these guys should you want any proof!"
"Oh, shut your trap!" Zan spat. "I don't intend to be included into the statistic of people who've lost to you!" She adjusted her headgear, gazing upon them with a serious expression as she tried to dismiss their self-importance. "Besides, you're just four people! You don't stand a chance against the full might of the Jambastion Cult!"
"It's not just us four, you know?" Kirby casually mentioned to the stricken mage, before counting his many allies off with his fingers, a growing smile on his face as he carried on. "We have a whole bunch of people staying by on reserve, too!"
"King Dedede is my oldest friend after his Heel-Face Turn, and Meta Knight's not that far behind. Close to that date are my animal buddies — Rick, Coo, Kine, Nago, Pitch and Chuchu… they're all ready to lend a hand! Gooey's here to lend a tongue too, and so is Bandana Waddle Dee, a loyal trustworthy pal whom I can trust to watch my back without fail!"
His expression turned contemplative as he continued to muse aloud, "As of recent, we've had former villains turning over a new leaf. Marx and Dark Meta Knight both unanimously decided to become friends after seeing what'd happened to Popstar… and I can't blame 'em for that choice! Daroach and his Squeak Squad got added in too… after formally apologizing to me for stealing my cake, of course!"
Zan restrained herself from snarling when Kirby was droning on about antagonistic characters redeeming themselves. That had hit a little too close to home for her.
To think… that the nuisance had actually brought up a valid point. Perhaps she could have lived a blameless life… at least before she'd climbed that Jamblasted tower.
It had been a cruel irony. Hearing a local legend that an artifact that could save her sisters—one who had been lost in a blizzard, and the other lost on a mountain trek when said mountain had turned out to be a volcano and erupted—a few weeks from their disappearances was located on that tower, she had wasted no time in mounting that tower.
But it was all lies. To his dismay, there had been nothing at the summit. Worse, being so high up in a lightning-prone area, she had signed her own death warrant in the process.
It'd all happened so quickly… like a judgement from the heavens themselves.
The old her had never survived the journey. Taking her place was the general of magic who commanded lightning itself.
And that old her would never come back again. Zan Partizanne swore it to herself. She had to literally bite down onto her lip to snap out of her self-induced stupor.
It had been a long time since she had to suppress her other personality — one that comprised of a kinder her. And currently, it was said former self which was trying to squirm free of the deep recesses of Zan's mind.
Her face turned resolute at the realization as she forced herself to eject those melancholic memories from her mind. It was all in the past — now, she was loyal only to Lord Hyness.
No one else…
…not even herself.
Zan peered back towards Kirby. Much to the mage's relief, the puffball was too caught up in his speech to notice her inner struggle.
At the moment, he had his back to Zan, taking that position only because he was cautiously being guarded by the remaining three. Kirby was peering out of the arena, enthralled by the breathtaking view of the stars that was offered from his vantage point at the summit of Heavenly Hall.
"Plus, who can forget good ol' Ribbon and Adeleine? I truly appreciate them for coming directly from Ripple Star without delay once I'd raised the alarm! And would you believe that that's not even counting the other helpers who I had befriended with those awesome Friend Hearts? If we add them all into the count…"
Zan's jaw dropped as the puffball continued to drone on, listing more and more names from memory, having run out of appendages to count off for his list… no, empire of friends a long time ago.
What was this?! Had she picked a fight with some sort of army? She hadn't expected such a cohesive opposition on a miserable, lonely planet like Popstar! The idea of resistance itself was unfathomable!
"…anyway," Kirby concluded, raising his voice slightly when he noticed that Zan was distracted and not paying attention, "You've made a big mistake when you tried to meddle with Dream Land. You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!"
Beginning to pace about, Kirby elaborated on with a hardened expression on his face. "Just so you know, we're a close-knit team of best friends who've banded together over a period of twenty-five years through thick and thin. Though on the surface we might be appear to be as different as night and day, you should never judge a book by its cover."
Zan resisted the urge to roll her eyes in sarcasm. After seeing Magolor's ship in action, she didn't need to be told that twice.
"In actuality, we're more alike and cohesive than you might think! Overcoming our many adversaries as a team have forced those differences apart, forging together our iron bonds of friendship in the flames of cold fire!" he declared with vigor as Magolor, Taranza and Susie nodded in concurrence by his side.
Kirby took a step forward, raising a fist up to the air as he concluded his armor-piercing speech to Zan, making sure to do so in a voice that had pure, genuine heartfelt emotion behind his words.
"And together, we make up the Star Allies!" he announced, his eyes shining with pride as Zan simply stared at him with a muted expression.
After a moment of silence, Kirby continued on with a cheery voice when he realized that she wasn't going to speak up. "The bonds between us knows no bounds! Should we gather our ambition and put our hearts towards achieving a common target… there is no goal that we are unable to reach! This much, I can promise you without a moment's hesitation!"
Kirby had his stubby little arms by his side of his body as he finished his triumphant little spiel. The puffball sported a proud expression at his vow, although it was one which happened to be wholly justified. The delivery of his words—while boastful in nature—had been made in such a way that not a trace of arrogance could be detected in his humble tone.
And it was this firm demeanor, further reinforced by his three friends nodding alongside him in agreement, that backed Kirby's claims up in a way which was almost impossible for an outsider to dispute.
But unlike the emotion of awe that Kirby had probably expected for Zan Partizanne to feel after hearing his intimidating words that stemmed out of his friendship with his many allies, Zan by contrast had a much different emotion — the lightning mage was beginning to shake in subdued fury when she heard his conclusionary words.
…how dare he?!
How dare that Kirby elect to assume that he deserved to win solely because of his friendship, going as far as to mock her with that rousing speech.
Well unfortunately for that pinky puff, if he was under the assumption that he was the only one who had to win this fight due to emotional bonds… he was gravely mistaken.
Very gravely mistaken.
With a battle cry fueled by pure outrage, Zan howled at Kirby and the others.
"You… you haven't won yet!" she articulated to her foes as she felt a second wind go through her. With a vicious cackle, the mage brought out her trump card — her Thunder Drums. She zipped to the center of the arena, yelling at Kirby and the others. "Just give up with this pointless charade! I am the Lightning General — the leader of the Three Mage-Sisters! You can't possibly beat me! It's futile to resist!"
Kirby somberly shot Zan a knowing expression. "Actually, I think that it is you who needs to give up this façade. No one's invincible. Many have learnt that the hard way… even Souls, who cling onto life out of sheer willpower, die eventually…" he murmured.
Too bad the others weren't as tactful as Kirby had been upon witnessing the mage's resistance.
"Boringggggggg!" Magolor elongated the word in response to Zan, simultaneously yawning while tossing out a cluster of explosive Gem Apples. "That's what everyone always says, like, right before they lose in a most tragic fashion."
"How typical," Susie affirmed as she preened. "You're actually right about that, bally."
Magolor turned to the secretary. "Hey, of course I'd know! I was in that position before, you know?"
"As was I, stupid." Susie fired back at him. "Do you think that you're the only former villain hovering around Pinky here?"
"Also, I must stress… Lightning General?" Taranza interjected to dual glares from Magolor and Susie. Still, he ignored them, the Floralian unnaturally letting his stoic face drop as he giggled at the thought he had in his head. "You know… I'd once summoned the cloud monster Kracko against an opponent, and he had much more electricity to spew out than you ever did."
Kirby had a frown on his face for the first time since the battle had commenced as he discerned those words. "I do agree. That Kracko battle was a toughie, Taranza…" he complained while shooting the arachnid a glare, one which the spider reciprocated with a sheepish grin.
"Jamblasted!" A furious Zan yelled to break up the conversation, evidently furious that her enemies were so engrossed in their own remarks and bantering that they were paying the battle no heed. "You have some nerve to ignore me like this! Do you think that you've already won?" she seethed, darting with a zip to the side of the arena.
As they looked on, she began to charge up the Thunder Drums on her back with a vengeful smirk on her visage. "Well, think again! Baahahahah! Don't you dare underestimate me! I won't lose to a bunch of nobodies like you without giving it my all!"
The frazzled mage breathed heavily as she stared down her opponents. "I've had to suffer through a fatal shock in order to gain control over my element… I was nearly killed over that whole ordeal!" she informed them with a pensive frown, her shoulders slumping from the mixture of emotions that was swirling within her. "You don't know what it was like! The electricity that flowed into my body… it was a mortifying sensation, one which almost brought forth my demise!"
It was her words combined with her grave expression which caused the offensive onslaught against the mage to suddenly cease, with Kirby and the Dream Friend trio sensing that the tone of the battle has suddenly changed. The four then actively remained silent as they gazed on and listened to her laments from the sidelines.
"But I somehow managed to cling on to this mortal realm and survive my near-death experience because of Lord Hyness' mercy… and in return, I ended up gaining complete control over that which had nearly claimed my life." Zan looked at her palm forlornly before balling it into a fist. "By a miracle, electricity no longer courses through my muscles, but rather my arteries and veins! Yes, I had been gifted the miraculous power to command over plasma and electricity itself!"
Although Zan noticed that the four around her had slowly let their stances relax as they heard her tell her tale, with Taranza and Kirby in particular showing her expressions of pity, she herself made sure to remain on guard. The Jambastion Mage took great care in not displaying any emotion beyond that of a melancholic voice, one which was laden with a sense of yearning for her previous life as she reminisced about the past.
She shook her head, removing such treasonous thoughts from her mind. That wouldn't do. With her black eyes glistening, Zan raised her head up abruptly and made a solemn vow to the four who were gawking by her front.
"After all that he has done for me, I won't fail Lord Hyness… I swear it!" Zan snarled as her eyes gleamed dangerously. "And now, I intend to demonstrate to all of you the true mastery that I possess over the element of electricity!"
It was only after they heard her declaration of intent that many of them suddenly remembered that they were currently on a battlefield. Zan cackled at their hasty expressions of shock as she fired off huge balls of concentrated electricity that sailed through the air in rounded arcs.
Her misdirection had worked like a charm. She managed to catch them all off guard by telling them about her past, buying enough time for her exhausted self to stealthily charge up her Drum N' Waste attack.
Alas, she didn't have the strength to use her ultimate Electro Eclair technique, but she fervently hoped that her current move would suffice and end up being enough to help her turn the tables.
But it wasn't to be. Most of them were caught off guard at first, but they soon began to weave in and out of her arcing electric orbs with little difficulty.
The first one to actually reach her side of the arena was Taranza, who hovered above Zan with a reluctant look on his face. "I really didn't want to use this technique, but after hearing your tale… I just couldn't help it."
Taranza appeared to be indecisive, but soon relented with a sigh. "My old friend, too, had the power of electricity infused into her. Not by choice — it had happened when she was possessed by her lust for beauty," he informed Zan while averting his eyes, although Taranza wasn't the only one who was being affected by the words — his confession had also caused the mage to momentarily halt her attack in surprise.
That sudden pause in her onslaught was her downfall. Seizing the opportunity, Taranza yelled up to the air.
"Come forth from my memories, my liege! If it's one thing that I'm glad that wretched mirror did to me, it was to ensure that I never forgot you in my heart!" He held back a sob as a violet apparition of a bee-like creature manifested in the air above the arachnid.
The ghostly phantom held her jewel rod up high as Taranza's eyes hardened, his tone matching his soulless eyes. "Now, dear Queen Sectonia… summon forth the power of lightning, the same lightning that you'd always loved to wield with your dual scepters!" He wiped away a stray tear emanating from his glistening eyes with a spare hand as he gazed up, bewitched by the breathtaking Sectonia that he'd conjured into existence from his memories.
A burst of lightning burst forth from the phantom Sectonia's ruby rod, spread out in a fan-like display for maximum coverage in a manner which Zan had to admit reminded her of her very own Lightning Lemonade attack. Not that the added range actually mattered — its target had been directly under the impact zone, and was thus struck by the lightning dead-on.
"Hey!" Susie cried with a huff, ignoring the spasming Zan as she charged towards Taranza. "Don't be stingy, spidey! Beam me up as well using that inorganic lifeform!" she demanded as she brought out her miniature H.W.C blaster, letting the ghostly Sectonia's violet lightning fill it with the Zap element. With a cheeky grin, she then took a few potshots at Zan, who was struggling to fly out of the sweeping range of Taranza and Sectonia's combined lightning attack.
Deciding it wasn't enough, she pushed down onto her remote control, materializing her Business Suit robot and jumping into the cockpit. Activating her visor with a gleeful smirk, Susie then fired electricity-infused Drillbit projectiles at the hapless Zan.
After taking a barrage of painful hits from Taranza and Susie's combined might, Zan eventually managed to break free of the apparition's lightning storm, who then promptly vanished into thin air as though it had never been there. "You…" she hissed to the two Dream Friends, dusting off her burnt clothes.
It was then that Zan had a torrent of water poured onto her, drenching her from head to toe. She whirled around only to see the culprit — that pesky pink puff, Kirby.
"Did I happen to mention that my Copy Ability's Water?" he casually asked the query with a sheepish expression as Zan shook off excess liquid sticking to her black clothes.
Zan glared viciously. "Well, now I know. Jamanke." Her 'thanks' to Kirby had been made with the most sarcastic voice that she could muster up, the mage now completely irate. She reached her hand for her Thunder Drums, preparing to blast them all to high noon.
Water Kirby had a knowing grin on his face when he witnessed Zan scream at the electric shock she was receiving. "Forgot water conducts electricity, didn't ya?" he pointed out as the Thunder Drums exploded, causing the mage to fall to the ground in a confused daze.
Zan winced in pain as the felt the onset of painful paralysis taking a harsh effect on her body. It had been a long time since her own element had been used against her like that.
Not since the tower incident.
She fought off the pangs of fear that she'd once felt at the feeling of being shocked by a lightning bolt. That was in the past… she was no longer that weakling terrified of lightning… she controlled it now!
"This isn't over…" she eventually managed to wheeze, using a superhuman effort to raise her head and glare literal daggers towards Kirby from her eyes.
The puffball could only sigh at Zan's obstinate refusal to give up and simply gesture to his left. "Oh, but I'm afraid that it is…" he murmured, with a tiny tinge of guilt in his voice.
Following Kirby's hand direction, Zan's eyes widened to the size of marbles when she saw exactly why Kirby had made the claim that he did.
It should have been obvious in retrospect — the ol' divide-and-conquer tactic. She had only been keeping track of Kirby, Taranza, and Susie — fending off attacks from the relentless trio.
But in her single-minded pursuit of defense… she had forgotten that there weren't just three of them. There were four.
And sure enough, the cunning Magolor had used the opportunity to charge up his ultimate Magoloran Launch team technique while the other three were trying to breach her defenses.
And now, too weak to even move after her own Thunder Drums had electrocuted her, she could only watch as the trio jumped onto Magolor's floating spacecraft, which slowly got bigger and bigger with every passenger.
"I-Impossible…" Zan hacked, looking on with hatred in her eyes. She was staring at the bringer of her own defeat. And yet, she refused to believe that this was the hand fate had dealt her, howling defiantly at Magolor with an increasingly unhinged voice. "It cannot end like this… it can't!"
Magolor shook his head, giving her a grunt in disapproval. "Tee hee! Well, I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but this fight totally is going to end for you!" He rubbed his hands together in glee as he glanced up to the Lor.
"One Lor Starcutter Express, coming right up! Serves one battered mage! Enjoy your meal!"
With a look of fiery determination in his glinting yellow eyes, Magolor threw his discombobulated arms forward, thrusting the Lor Starcutter onto a collision course with the immobilized mage.
Zan could only scream in a mix of fury and horror as her face collided with a metric ton of reinforced carbon-carbon steel that layered the Lor's exterior.
She was literally thrown to the opposite wall, before slowly slumping down onto the cold, hard floor.
At last, it was over.
She faced the cold, hard ground for what seemed like an eternity, unable to believe what had happened.
It was impossible. How could a bunch of meddlesome pests like these manage to defeat her this soundly? How could she possibly face Lord Hyness after this?
In hindsight, Zan had to admit to herself that the fleeing Sergeant Bobby had been right. Facing the intruders who'd taken out a good portion of the infantry forces in the Jambastion alone had indeed been a foolhardy move.
But how was she to expect something like this? Frankly, it was implausible to predict this catastrophe — not even in her wildest dreams had she imagined the crazy possibility of facing off against a spacecraft piloted by a reckless captain like Magolor who didn't care for collateral damage.
In contrast, the sly alien actually looked like he relished the senseless destruction that he was able to cause.
"Ugh… Jam… blasted… how could there be such fierce opposition on a measly and remote planet like this?!" she finally managed to wheeze.
"I already told you…" Kirby responded as he gestured for the gloating Magolor to stop sticking his tongue out at an already downed opponent. "We worked as a team. That was how we won."
Zan pulled herself to her feet, a piercing gaze sweeping across the four victors. "So going by that logic, if my sisters and I work as a team and combo you three-against-one, we can soundly thrash you?" She let out a cruel laugh. "If only! Our fighting styles are too different for that to work!"
Her expression turned accusatory as she tried to shoot down Kirby's explanation without any mercy. "And that goes the same for you. All your attacks are so different that there's no way to telegraph them with your allies in advance. You didn't beat me because of your teamwork at all, you puffy pink teamwork sprouting optimist! Don't delude yourself!"
"You're wrong." Magolor spoke up, exacerbating the situation before Kirby or any of the others could potentially diffuse it.
Zan twitched at Magolor's obstinate opinion. "You… think that you won because of your friendship. Pah! Japaloga? Tell me how… tell me how!?"
"While our fighting styles differ greatly, we complement each other regardless," Magolor said with seriousness in his eyes. "The liftoff and cool-down time for the Lor Starcutter almost makes it not worth using it. Fact was, with that charge time I would never have got off that final attack on you if the others hadn't done their part in distracting you."
As Zan roared and slammed her fist against the floor, Kirby walked up to her with a tentative expression.
"Hey… don't take it so hard."
Zan blinked away furious tears. "What do you know? You know nothing!"
"Well, I know that you need a friend." Kirby's expression turned contemplative before he next spoke. "You don't have to continue down this path of self-destruction. I can see goodness in your heart… you and your sisters."
With a hopeful smile on his face, he opened his arms wide open. "So, what do you say? Y'all don't have to steal the Jamba Heart pieces… I already told you that many villains whom I'd previously fought with end up turning over a new leaf."
He turned to the trio floating in the air behind him. "And that's more true than you think. I had to face with all three of them on the opposite end of battle before!"
Kirby first pointed to Magolor, who whistled and tried to act innocuous. "He tried to manipulate me, and I had to face a souped-up him controlled by the Master Crown. But he managed to survive and has promised me that he'd changed his ways."
"I mean it, Kirby!" Magolor reaffirmed. "We're now BFFs — Best Friends Forever!"
Pointing to Taranza next, he continued as the spider apprehensively averted his eyes. "This guy here kidnapped Dedede, but he was being influenced by his queen to do so." A cheeky grin crossed Kirby's face as he added on an addendum, to Taranza's growing horror.
"Besides, he did it out of love, so he gets a free pass for his actions in my book." Kirby vicariously grinned at Taranza's reddening face, before turning to Susie.
"I'd crossed paths with Susie multiple times in the past when she was roboticizing Popstar for her company project, the Mechanizing Occupation Program."
Kirby paused for a moment to snicker at the sneakily hidden acronym before continuing. "Truth be told… she was arguably the most antagonistic of any of my current friends besides Dedede. Once in every area she would send a robotic minion to try and stop me. But even in the end, we left on amicable terms."
He reached an arm out with softened eyes. "So what do you say? You and your cult don't have to terrorize Popstar, Zan. You know, I actually think that you're quite good at fighting. Your powers can be used for good, not evil…"
"So what do you say?" Kirby chirped, placing his offer on the table. "Wanna join the Star Allies?"
Zan glared at the smiling Kirby, her lips hiding behind her attire slowly rising in imprudence.
He couldn't be serious. Was that pink puff trying to soften the blow of defeat by offering his friendship?
Inwardly, Zan's heart stiffened at the thought. It had been a long time since anyone outside of her inner circle had cared for her. Besides Flamberge, Francisca, and Lord Hyness, she had no one else.
But unlike that Kirby, she needed no one else.
Her eyes fervently darted around, the mage grinning when she saw that all of the others—especially that sneaky Magolor—were still, waiting for her response to Kirby's offer.
Brilliant. She was going to take advantage of that. At least she would be able to get her vengeance for the humiliation she'd endured.
Truthfully, she had not wished to resort to this. But she was now left with no other choice. Zan refused to be defeated in such a disgraceful manner. If she was going to go down, then she sought to at least drag down these bunch of fools with her.
Summoning the last of her energy that she had within her, Zan managed to zip towards the Jambastion's power core. Fortuitously, no one had suspected that the time Kirby had taken to talk to her allowed her to regain some of her bodily functions.
"Listen well, you tiny ball of puffy pink mischief! I regret to inform you that it'll take more than a pep talk to convince me to switch sides…" she told a crestfallen Kirby as she grabbed the piece of the Jamba Heart that she'd tossed aside earlier in the heat of battle. "Besides, this Jamba Heart piece is already within my grasp! For all I care… the whole group of you can rot in ruin along with this Jambastion forever! Baaahahahaha!"
With gleaming eyes, the yellow mage thrust her the sharp point of her partizan into the glowing power source of the space station, smashing it to pieces and turning it unstable with her weapon, dooming the entire fortress as a result.
Losing the Jambastion would be a detriment to the Jambastion Cult, but if the space station would take out her enemies along with its self-destruction, then she could consider the loss well worth the price. The fall of their base to their enemy was a blow, but the collateral damage incurred from her sacrifice would be worth it if she was able to at least drag the pesky four fools who dared to defy her to their dooms.
"Jambuhbye!" Zan spat her farewells as she gave the surprised onlookers a mocking salute, before making a grab for the Jamba Heart piece and fleeing the crumbling space station.
She chanced one last look at her enemies, halting her own escape to give her doomed enemies one final farewell.
Susie was glaring at Kirby with ire — evidently displeased by how his mercy had led to this.
Taranza had a dispassionate frown on his face that almost made it seemed as though the arachnid had predicted this turn of events.
Magolor had an expressionless look, that turned to one of amusement when he saw her looking back to him. Stupid creep.
And lastly, Kirby. He appeared the most despondent of them all, visibly upset by her refusal to join up with him.
Well, too bad for him. Not everything was all sunshine and rainbows. He certainly wasn't going to get the "friend" that he wanted.
As she spun around and proceeded to zip further away from the doomed Jambastion, Zan finally allowed herself to reflect on the battle that had just taken place.
That defeat should never have happened. She should have used Electro Eclair from the start and blasted them with her own electric laser beam. It was her fault for underestimating them.
But knowing that pink annoyance, he would surely try to spin things in a different angle and attempt to say that it had been because she was showing them mercy.
And why would he come to that absurd conclusion? Was it because she actually had hidden good within her and could end up as one of his "friends"?
She reflected on the puffball's offer before shaking her head dismissively and letting out a cruel laugh laced with irony.
To be with a group of hardy friends like the Star Allies that the annoying pink puff had mentioned… a tiny part of Zan felt as though her former self in her past life—before turning into the Jambastion Cult's Lightning General—would have leapt at the offer, gleefully agreeing to Kirby.
But now? Hah! Not a chance. She owed her very existence to Hyness, and to stray from his guidance… Zan couldn't see her life ever headed down a path like that.
Not that it really mattered anymore, now that Kirby and his group were gone.
…wait a moment.
"Juh… what is this?" Her eyes widened, her eyebrows twitching at the sight that she saw ahead of her.
Sure enough, the Jambastion had exploded and collapsed in on itself. But unfortunately for her, the people she had meant to eliminate were crucially not inside the structure.
"Jamblasted… you've got to be kidding me."
Zan then shook her head and proceeded to royally facepalm, dragging her hand across her face before clenching them when her ears discerned a yodeling Magolor jeering at her from the distance.
The circular Halcandran continued to taunt the mage even from the distance, exiting the self-destructing Jambastion space station along with his allies unscathed. And it was all thanks to his stupid spaceship, which had managed to avoid the debris and fly its crew to safety.
Zan wrung her hands, before balling them up and clenching them into fists. She could only watch mutely as the speck disappeared into the distance. Finally, the mage mentally cursed herself. It had somehow slipped her mind that Magolor was inexplicably able to summon a spacecraft and use it at his disposal.
Finally swiveling around as she prepared to head towards Jambandra Base to report the loss of the space station to Lord Hyness, Zan could only mutter three simple words to express her thoughts on the situation in the most concise manner that she possibly could.
"I. Hate. Everything."
(super long author's note incoming)
Complete and utter destruction.
That was literally my first thought when I saw Magolor using the freaking Lor Starcutter—an endgame boss in its debut, Kirby's Return to Dreamland—as part of his moveset in his character trailer video. Geez, that was awesome.
Here are the Wave 3 Dream Friends in action — Magolor, Taranza, and Susie! The title of this story, Starcutter Express, is partly based on Magolor's awesome Friend Move, Magoloran Launch, where he summons the Lor Starcutter itself for his allies to ride it (but objectively Ultra Sword is faster and also easier to spam, I'll admit).
The Express part of the title, on the other hand, is a stealth reference to the Friend Train, another unstoppable beast that the helpers and Dream Friends ride in the game… which was kindly imprinted into my brain after the Friend Train section at the end of Dimension II in Heroes in Another Dimension. I had to repeatedly suicide in attempts to hit the last switch for almost five entire minutes to obtain the final hearts.
Sidenote, but part of this story is inspired by a reviewer expressing their disdain about Zan being unstoppable in the early arcs of my ongoing Kirby longfic, Terminal Paralysis. While I admit that it's for plot convenience, it does seem a bit far-fetched as I do concur that Zan is actually one of the easier bosses in the game. Hence, I thought to show with this tale that perhaps, the stoic leader of the three mage sisters isn't quite so stoic under pressure after all. :P
…but honestly, it's also partly because I want to take my anger out and serve poetic justice to Zan in literature form after having to face down the final boss of Heroes in Another Dimension. I went into that mode almost completely blind, and… uhhhhhhh. I had to resort to cheesing it with co-op revives while playing with my brother.
Anyway, thoughts. This fic is half-humor and half-serious, and I hoped I've managed to balance it adequately. Tonally, I had intended to make this a joke fic with Magolor spamming the Lor, but I then got invested in Zan midway because of her pause descriptions… and yeah, this is the result. Yeah, her final thoughts are based off what would happen at the end of Heroes in Another Dimension if you didn't collect enough hearts.
But at its core, this is a fun little fanfic dedicated to the enjoyment that I personally get out of Kirby games. Much like how much Magolor is relishing the feeling of sweeping through Zan's pitiful defenses with Kirby and the other Dream Friends in tow, I hope that you too, the reader, reflect upon the enjoyment that you get out of playing through this franchise yourself. Kirby games are fun! I wouldn't love them to the extent that I do otherwise — literally, I wrote all my stories featuring the cute lil' puff because of the joy that I get out of Kirby!
To conclude, the games are meant to be a bundle of fun, so be like Magolor and sweep through them to your heart's content! Yes, even if it means being cheap and using something overpowered.
Anyway, this update was amazing! As a whole, it really elevated Star Allies up on my Kirby game tier list, especially since I originally found it a disappointment compared to its immediate predecessor Planet Robobot when I'd first played through it. And hence this story is my token of appreciation to Kirby Star Allies. HAL could have left the game as it was on release date without releasing all these patches, Dream Friends, and new game modes. But we would have all suffered for it, ending up with a vastly inferior product.
This shows the most in the rousing speech which Kirby'd made to Zan in-fic (which could arguably pass off being in one of FierySprites' stories :p). That speech perfectly encapsulates how I feel about Kirby and his accomplishments over the years, culminating in the love letter to fans by HAL that is Star Allies. For instance, I'd probably have been shot by skeptical fans for suggesting the very idea that Marx or Adeleine would return to the franchise just last year. But it actually did happen, and hence the Dream Friends are truly a reunion of miracles.
So enjoy all of the friendships you've made over the years, Kirby! You've certainly earned them!