Link had never been to Smash City before. A boy raised on one of the far-flung planets, he never had much need to visit the busiest city in the galaxy, and his master rarely spoke about planets other than their own. This was his first time here, so he didn't really have any expectations for life in the city.
That said, he hoped this wasn't what everyday life looked like for city folk.
The ground shook, as a massive explosion rang out over the streets. Above him, Link watched the large steel frame of a skyscraper rattle. The beams at the top swayed over the edge. Something popped. It was faint, but his ears, sharpened by the magical properties of the sword, picked it up. The frame gave one more groan, before it finally toppled, sending several steel beams hurtling toward the panicking citizens running through the streets.
Screams took to the air. With each passing second, the steel beams approached the people below faster and faster, threatening to crush any standing beneath. As it grew closer, a pink blur rushed in from below.
Sparks of electricity exploded outward from it. They writhed through the air like blue snakes, latching onto the buildings on either side of the street until there was a field of electricity hovering several hundred feet into the air, magnetic pulses rippling off the strands.
As the beams tumbled into the field, it stretched like a net. The beams slowed down. Sparks flared up from the field, glowing brighter and brighter until, at last, the net held, holding the beams over the crowd.
At first, the crowd didn't seem to know what to do. They stood around, watching in awe as Kirby kept the steel beams in the air with his electric net. So Link gave them a shove in the right direction.
"What are you doing?" he yelled. "Come on guys, get out of there!"
His words seemed to bring the crowd back to their senses. A mumble rose above them, and the people cleared out from the street. As Link watched them trickle away, he heard a deep thrum behind him. It was like the sound of a giant wasp, beating its wings as it tore through the air. He turned around.
Chucks of the road flew into his face. He raised his shield, and almost immediately he felt something heavy knock into it. Again and again, it rammed into his shield, tolling against the sturdy wood like a hammer on nails. His arm flared up in pain. He gritted his teeth, but he pushed through it. When the ringing stopped, he lowered his shield to sneak a peek at his attacker.
Several feet away, he saw what appeared to be a pair of turtles in green helmets draw back their arms. His eyes widened, and he put his shield back up just in time to catch another onslaught of small hammers. With each blow, his arm got weaker. He couldn't keep this up forever. Any moment now, he would give out.
A low rumble came from above. Link looked up just in time to see the net of sparks flicker away. With nothing to hold them in place, the steel beams started falling again. If they didn't get out of the way, he and the turtles would be squashed like insects.
One more hammer struck his shield, before the turtles took off. Finally with a moment to breathe, Link ran in the opposite direction. He dove behind a stone column at the entrance of one of the buildings. The steel beams crashed into the floor, kicking up a storm of dust.
As the dust swirled over the street, Link leaned against the wall. He heard a squeak beside him. When he glanced over, he found Kirby staring up at him, a shower of sparks pouring out from a hat atop his head. Seems they both had the same idea.
"So this is the welcoming committee, huh?" he said between breaths. "A bunch of evil hammer turtles?"
Kirby shrugged. Link groaned, and he slid further down the pillar. A cloud of dust swept in from behind them, and it settled on the floor, glistening in the light.
"Our first day on the job and we get cornered by a pair–"
He chanced a look outside. When he leaned back in, he looked despaired.
"A trio of evil turtles."
Kirby pouted, none too pleased about the situation either. Link rubbed his face. Then he turned back to Kirby.
"So, what's the plan?" he said.
Again, Kirby shrugged. "Poyo!"
"Right. You can't talk." Link looked around, like a kid with his hand in the candy jar. "Where are the others? Shouldn't they be helping us?"
Kirby glanced around. "Poyo?" was his reply.
He opened his mouth. The ground shook before he could say anything. Both of them leaned back out, just in time to see the top half of a building farther down break off and fall toward a small crowd fleeing through the street. They glanced back at the three hammer turtles, standing on the other end of the road.
Kirby tugged on his arm. Link looked down. Kirby met him with a pleading stare. His eyes flicked over to the hammer turtles, waiting out on the street. Link could only guess what he wanted to tell him.
"You want me to distract them so you can catch the building?"
Kirby nodded. Link glanced at the falling building in the distance, then back to the hammer turtles.
"I'll see what I can do."
Pulling himself back against the pillar, Link put his hand into his pocket. He shuffled around a bit, before he came back out with a black and yellow wind-up mouse. As Kirby watched, confused, he set it down on the floor and wound it up. He gave Kirby one last look. Then he let go.
The mouse streaked toward the three waiting turtles, rattling and clanking. They noticed it almost instantly. Even from a distance, Link could see them look at each other, confused. That confusion cost them, and when the mouse was only a few feet away, it exploded.
The cloud of heat and smoke that burst out of the ground threw the three turtles apart. Link turned back to Kirby, but the pink puffball was already gone. A streak of yellow flew past him in the street, and when he glanced out, he saw Kirby's star vehicle shrink farther into the distance.
A groan from behind him reminded him of the trio of hammer turtles. Without missing a beat, he drew his bow. They stumbled to their feet, clutching their heads. The explosion rattled them, and his master taught him to never let up against a downed foe.
His bowstring gave a deep twang. The first of the turtles looked up, only for an arrow to strike him in the face. As he flew away, his two friends looked up, but he already had another arrow notched on his bow. He let it fly. Another body hit the floor.
The third turtle was not about to let him down him so easily, though. As Link whipped out another arrow, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a hammer fly toward him. He barely managed to put up his shield just in time to block another slew of hammers. It was weaker this time, though. Weak enough for him to push back.
With a yell, he charged forward. The hammers pinged off his shield, rattling his bones. Pain blossomed from his shoulder as hammer after hammer struck against his shield. He ignored it all, refusing to give up. Each step brought him closer and closer to the hammer turtle.
Then, a moment of relief. Movement caught his eye, and Link lowered his shield to see the hammer turtle leap away in an effort to put more distance between them. The turtle's feet had only touched down on a mound of rubble when an arrow struck its chest. He saw the hammer turtle's eyes widen. Its arms flailed out as it tried to keep itself balanced, only to crash to the floor below.
A feeling of pride swelled in his chest, and a smile took to his face. It was his first victory on another planet, after all, so he felt he couldn't be blamed for feeling a little proud of himself.
Maybe this new job won't be too hard, he thought.
Then a shadow fell over him. The smile died on his face, and he looked up. That's when he saw it half of a skyscraper above him, getting bigger by the second.
Before it could get any closer, another half of a building sailed into it. Both of them exploded into a shower of rubble, and he raised his shield just in time to deflect some of the smaller pieces to the side.
As the dust settled, he saw Kirby land beside him. He slung his shield back over back and gave Kirby a wave.
"Thanks!" he said.
"Poyo!" Kirby cheered back.
Link looked around them, at all the rubble at their feet. It was quite the scene, he'd admit. His master, a stickler for being clean, would probably have a fit if he saw this. But that didn't matter. It was over now.
Something crackled beneath him. Link glanced down, and he saw a radio nestled beneath a piece of debris. Curious, he leaned down to pick it up, and almost immediately he heard screaming in the background.
"All units to downtown. The situation has escalated. The Koopaling has taken ten hostages. I repeat, all units to downtown."
Link sighed. From the look Kirby was giving him, he wasn't happy about this either.
"Can I have your... what was it called again? Phone?"
Kirby tossed him a small device. Link fumbled with it, tossing it between his hands, before he finally caught it with his left. As he tried to remember how exactly he was supposed to use the thing, he spotted a box on the screen labeled Fox.
The device rang once. Then twice. On the third ring, he heard Fox's voice come through.
"Where are you?!"
"Where are you? People are blowing up the city, and we can't save anyone without help," Link said.
"We're dealing with a problem of our own back in the mansion," Fox replied. He sounded strained. "We're–"
A burst of static cut him off. Link frowned in concern. Something was happening back in the mansion? That didn't sound good.
After a second, the static died down to the sound of Fox shouting, "Who would put an automatic turret in the bathroom?"
"What's going on?" Link asked.
"I can't talk now. I'm busy," was all Fox said. Then the connection cut off with a click.
As Link let his arm fall to his side, he looked at Kirby. The pink puffball looked back with hopeful eyes. Link just shook his head, and Kirby deflated. Link glanced down the road, down to where the sounds of battle still rang clear, and as he sighed, he thought, How did we get here again?