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Chapter 1 Starting Point
I find it funny where I can end up sometimes. In second grade, I ended up face to face with the biggest bully, Hugo. He was in fifth grade and practically had a moustache. There was even a rumor that he had two kids already with some girl up at my city’s high school. Hugo beat the crap out of me and why? Because I decided to play The Hero and stand up for my friend. Once at the zoo, I tried to save a kid’s balloon and ended up in the monkey pit because I broke through the net. I got tons of poo thrown at my face and a broken wrist from the fall. Then there was that one time I found a deer that actually let me pet it and I got shot in the leg by an arrow from my father’s crossbow. I have always ended up in the most bizarre, painful situations, whether by pain it was emotional or physical. However, this story I am about to tell you, reader, puts me in a situation that I never thought I would be in. And it all starts out with a man with a big nose, a moustache, overalls, and a funny red hat…
I was on this marble floor. Don’t ask me how I got there, but all I could remember was my name. It was Ashley, but I liked to be called Ash. Why? It was shorter, easier to write, and since every friggin’ girl in elementary school was named Ashley, I had to find an alternative to my name. I stood up slowly. I wasn’t hurt or anything, but I was entirely confused. I looked around for a second and then saw this man with a clipboard. He was a short, chubby man. He had a big, bushy moustache and these huge blue eyes. This hat he had on his head was red and had a big M in the middle. I recognized him, but I was so disoriented that I couldn’t recall who he was. “Excuse me, sir,” I said. “Ah, yes, you’re Ashley, Ashley Brandt, right?” he asked. He had this thick accent. I knew I had heard it before, but where? “Um, yeah, actually I am,” I said. “My head hurts so much, though.” “That’s expected,” the man said. “Switching dimensions and all is quite a doozy.” “Switching dimensions?” I said, trailing off into thought. “Why yes. You’re from an entirely different place, ya know.” I suddenly remembered my home in Ohio and my family and, well, everything. However, my reader, I didn’t know quite yet, but that stuff would no longer matter where I was at. “Where am I now?” “Well, you’re technically in the Mushroom kingdom, but you won’t be here for long.” “Wait, where!” I shouted. “The Mushroom kingdom,” this guy repeated. “I thought you would’ve at least recognized me enough to guess where you were.” “Who are you,” I asked, backing up slowly, eventually finding myself against a stone walls. “I’m Mario, from the Super Mario Brothers video game you might’ve played,” he said. “Mario,” I said softly, but added assertively, “Why am I here?” “Well, we’re short of heroes here in what is called the Ninten Dimension. You’re dimension, called the Second Dimension, had some great candidates and, due to your name being drawn out of my hat, you were the chosen hero. Congrats!” “Most heroes that were the “Chosen ones” because they were born that way, but I’m chosen one just because my stupid name was in a hat with a bunch of other stupid people?” I said. “What the hell is wrong with you?” “Hey, don’t blame me, Ash,” Mario said, pointing at me with a pencil. “All the candidates from your dimension were chosen by a special board of individuals.” “But I’m only twelve, and I definitely didn’t sign up for something like this!” I thundered. “Trust me, there were others much younger than you whose names were in my hat. Some of those names were one year old babies. You should be thankful.” “I should be thankful that I’ll get myself killed?” “Momma mia, child! You don’t even know what you were chosen to do. Maybe you were chosen to be the hero of pansies!” “I have a feeling I wasn’t chosen for that, you son of a-” “Please, I’ll have none of that nonsense fighting in my castle,” I gentle, but stern voice called out. At the top of the staircase was a beautiful woman in a huge pink dress. Her blonde hair went a little below her shoulders and her blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight that seeped through an opening on the ceiling. “Now, will you give me the pleasure to tell you my name, Ms. Ashley, or would you like to keep arguing with Mario here.” I crossed my arms and said, “Go ahead, say what you want.” “My name is Princess Toadstool, but you can call me Peach,” she said. “I was on the committee that chose whose names would be placed in the hat from your dimension. I, personally, is the one who nominated you.” “But why?” I asked. “I’m young.” “Ashley, we need a young, ambitious person to save this dimension,” Princess Peach said. “You were a perfect choice.” “What am I suppose to do, though? What about my family and my education and my friends?” “In your world, unfortunately, you are considered dead,” Mario said calmly. “I would advise you to forget about all of that.” I was extremely upset and wanted to cry, but at the same time, I was happy to be gone. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in my past. I had trouble fitting in at school and talking to even my family. I began to feel like this would be a new beginning. “Are you okay, Ashley?” Princess Peach asked. “Yes,” I said. “What needs to be done?” “Your first destination is not too far off,” Princess Peach said. “It’s in a neighboring kingdom, the kingdom of Hyrule. You will be working with a boy of the same age as you. His name is Link.” “Interesting,” I said. “How will I get there?” “Even though it is neighboring, Hyrule is across an ocean,” Mario said. “Our very own James McCloud of the Star Fox team is volunteering to give you a ride there in his spacecraft. They do a bunch of space fighting and what not, which is something you shouldn’t have to worry about.” “Okay, well, where is this Link kid?” I asked. “Unfortunately, all we know is that he is living in Kokiri Forest,” Princess Peach said. “He is being mistaken for a child of the Kokiri race. The Kokiri children never grow up and are not allowed to ever leave the forest due to a fear that they will die. This is not true, but for their safety, don’t tell them that the myth is false.” “Understood,” I said. Then a small voice announced, “Princess Peach, Mr. James McCloud is here upon your special request.” “Oh yes, Toad, please let him in,” Princess Peach said. I turned around to see two tiny men with mushroom caps on their heads. They were rather cute. Oddly enough, I noticed that the doors in Peach’s castle had two doorknobs: one for regular sized people and another one down to the little guy’s height. The doors opened to reveal James McCloud. Surprisingly, he was a fox, but he stood up like a human and his body was shaped like a human, too, besides his hair and his muzzle. He took off his helmet and his ears flopped up. Even though he took off his helmet as a sign of respect, he didn’t remove his sunglasses. “Good evening Princess,” James said and gave her a short bow, “long time no see.” “Hello James,” Princess Peach said. “Thank you so much for helping us transport Ms. Ashley Brandt to Hyrule.” “No problem,” James said, bringing his sunglasses down a bit so he could look at me. “She seems very young.” “That was intended, James,” Peach said. “She may seem young and innocent now, but I think she will do just fine once she gets the hang of things.” “Yes, well, I hope you’re right,” James said and he turned around. “C’mon, Ms. Brandt, we have a long flight under our tails.” I nodded and walked over to James. “Oh, Ashley,” Princess Peach called out and I turned around. “Have you ever had any experience with a sword before?” “Uh, no,” I said. “Good. Neither has Link. You two will grow together, I do suppose.” Great, I thought and I followed James outside. “My Arwing is in the back,” James said. “It’s a bit weird to get into at first, but I’ll help you. Do you get motion sickness?” “Not that I know of,” I said. “That works then, kiddo,” James said. We reach the back of the castle and I was amazed at his Arwing. It was a fighter pilot and reminded me of something from the movie Star Wars, a huge hit back at home. The Arwing had a symbol on it that looked like a fox with a wing. “Beautiful, isn’t she?” he said. “Yeah,” I said. “When I retire from the Star Fox team, I am going to give it to my son, Fox,” James said. “You’d like him. He’s an ambitious, confident young pup, but I hope he chooses a different career path than mine. My life is terribly dangerous.” “I’m sorry,” I said. “Hopefully, you and I can make things better here.” James laughed a bit and then pulled out a small remote. He pressed a button and the Arwing’s wings spread and the cock pit was revealed underneath a moving windshield. James suddenly picked me up and sat me in the back saying, “Let’s hope so.” I got comfortable as James started up the Arwing. The windshield came down as James pressed multiple buttons. “I’ll make this an easy ride for you, Ashley,” James said. “You can call me Ash, if you want to, “ I said rather quickly. “Alright Ash. I like that.” We started to hover in the air a bit but took off towards the sky. “So Ash, are you nervous?” James asked. “Well, yes, a little,” I said. “It’s okay to be nervous. I know I was the first time I stepped into this thing. I thought I was going to die on my first day. I remember screaming my head of and just firing the lasers. There wasn’t much fighting back then, though. Everything was different. I was part of the Saturn Wings back then. It was me and my buddy Wolf O’Donnell. We were crazy pups.” “What happened to the Saturn Wings?” I asked. “Well, Wolf became the leader and I was his ace pilot,” James said. “But, Wolf became power hungry and killed the whole team, besides me, of course. I got into a huge fight with him in space, but it eventually became a hand to hand combat on a nearby planet. It was a scary time, I’ll tell you.” “Wow,” I said. “What happened next?” “Well, I barely made it back home to the planet Corneria. My wife, Vixy, wanted me to retire after that, but I was asked by the Cornerian army to take up my own group and thus I formed the Star Fox group. With me is Peppy Hare, Pigma Dengar, and this new kid named Falco Lombardi. Falco’s quite the pilot for a new guy.” “Where’s Wolf?” I asked. “I don’t know. Last I heard, I killed him off. Either that, or I scared the crap out of him. But, I highly doubt that. Even when we were young, Wolf was a rather solid guy.” “So, do you know anything about this Hyrule place?” I asked. “I just wanted to get some information before I get there and all.” “Sorry Ash, but I’ve never been there,” James said. “I usually stay up in space, but Mario called me and asked if I would take you to Hyrule because if you went by boat, it would take you at least a week to get there. I heard it’s a real nice place, though. It’s ruled by this guy named Daphnes. I would never name my kid that. The king sounds like a chick, doesn’t he?” “Yeah,” I said and smiled a bit. I really liked this guy. I suddenly heard a beeping noise and James pressed a button. “James McCloud of the Star Fox team here,” James said. “James, this is General Pepper,” said a voice from the speakers up front. “There’s been some trouble here in the Lylat System. Are you done there in the Mushroom kingdom?” “Not yet, sir, I’m almost to Hyrule to transport Ms. Ashley Brandt, but I will be done right after that. Do you need something?” “Well, we’ve been told of some strange activity at the planet Venom,” General Pepper said. “We’re convinced that Andross is up to no good.” “Ah, Andross,” James said. “Well, I shall fly straight to headquarters and gather my team.” “By any chance, James, are you bringing that Falco guy with you?” General Pepper asked. “Yeah, why?” “He just seems rather shady to me is all,” Pepper said. “Promise me you’ll keep your eyes open and head up with this guy.” “Whatever you say, sir,” James said. “Alright, Pepper out,” General Pepper said and then the speakers beeped. “I feel awfully bad for Falco, but I don’t blame General Pepper,” James said to me. “He has a rather bad past, which might just be because of certain conditions, but I don’t know.” “I’d give him a shot,” I said. “I like you, kiddo,” James said. “I’ll tell you what, you save this whole Hyrule junk and then I’ll let you fly with my team a bit. You’d be a very good part to the team, ya know?” I smiled as we began to land. “We’re there already?” I said. “Why yes we are,” James said. We landed safely on a hill. Luckily, no one noticed. I jumped out of the cockpit and turned to James. “Thanks,” I said. “No prob,” James said, shifting his glasses down. “Don’t forget to call once all this mess is done.” “I will,” I shouted as James prepared to leave. I watched as he soared in the sky and took off. I turned around to face the village. It smelled of forest and I could hear a small waterfall to my left. I decided to walk down the hill and get a better look at things. I saw all of these kids dressed in ugly, green tunics. This was going to be a nasty adventure, I could already tell.