Fumon hideout, Chi Kingdom, Sarasaland, the day before Halloween...
“I can’t believe I’m late again!” said the Fumon rookie, running flat out through the maze of tunnels. “Why am I always the last one to know about these meetings?”
He turned a corner and stopped, staring down an old dead end tunnel in annoyance. It was another wrong turn, and long disused, judging by all the cobwebs. But just as he was about to turn back, something caught his eyes. The wall had a strange outline in it, and looking closer, he saw that it was actually an archway that had been sealed up and painted to match the rest of the wall. Hoping it might be a shortcut, he rushed the blockage- not the smartest thing to do, but he was in a hurry -and crashed straight through the crumbling stone and mortar! Unfortunately, his headlong flight didn’t end on the floor on the other side of the archway, but instead sent him tumbling down a spiral of stone stairs. He was unconscious by the time he reached the floor at the bottom.
If only he’d noticed the warning carved into the archway:
Do Not Enter
A few minutes later, the Fumon woke, sore and bruised, but not badly hurt. The first thing he noticed was darkness, the only source of light coming from the top of the stairs behind him. There was enough light for his night vision to function, however, and it revealed a huge underground chamber. The floor was dirt, but the walls and ceiling were rock. Tombstones and other grave markers covered the floor, and the walls were lined with niches holding coffins- each heavily chained and padlocked. Curved around the room at the top and bases of the walls were strange runes that the Fumon couldn’t read. As he stared at them, he noticed that they glowed faintly, but the glow was growing steadily dimmer. A few moments more, and it extinguished altogether.
“Huh... Since when do we have a graveyard?” Part of him was curious about just who was buried here, and why it had been sealed up, but the rest of the rookie’s mind was more focused on how creepy the place was, and how quickly he could get back to the other Fumon. He hurried back up the stairs, pausing only to see what damage he’d done to the wall. He briefly considered telling someone so they could fix it, but getting back to the comfort of more familiar hallways reminded him of how late he was for the meeting. He set off again at top speed, the mysterious tomb completely driven out of his head.
Meanwhile, back in the burial chamber, the earth stirred among the tombstones...
28 hours later...
The Fumon rookie could never remember running so fast in his life. He could only hope to reach shelter soon, and that the thing chasing him had been left far behind.
Funny, any other time he would have loathed going to Gaijin's home, let alone considered it safe... but this time there was no other choice.
He kept running, not daring to look back.
Meanwhile, back in their burrow after a long day of patrols, Gaijin and Aki were getting ready for the holiday. "So, are we doing the party this year, or trick-or-treating?" Asked Gaijin, carving out a jack-o-lantern.
Aki, who was hanging streamers and fake cobwebs, answered, "I was hoping we could do both this year. You know, take everybody out and then come back for the party."
"Hmm…" Said Gaijin, thinking. "I guess we could. If the Fumon aren't acting up again. You remember what happened last year."
Aki winced, not wanting to remember that fiasco. It had taken them weeks to clear all the toilet paper and silly string out of the burrow, and the pagoda- and the rest of their friends' homes.
A loud thud from outside caught their attention, followed by frantic knocking on the entrance pipe. Gaijin set down his carving knife, about to go answer, when the sound suddenly broke off. There was silence for a heartbeat, then a high pitched scream, and something black fell out of the pipe, landing hard on the floor.
Gaijin drew his sword, fearing it might be another one of those killer j-pop robots. They'd had a hard enough time getting rid of the last one. Looking closer, however, he saw that it was a Fumon. Raising his Pixel Cutter, he readied to strike the creature down, banishing it back to where ever they respawned. The Devil Slicer was in the other room, otherwise he could've simply imprisoned the Fumon in its blade.
The Fumon suddenly seemed to notice him. He cowered before the mighty warrior, eyes wide in terror. "Mercy!" He said, throwing himself flat at Gaijin's feet. "Mercy! Help me!"
Gaijin stayed his sword, confused. This wasn't normal Fumon behavior. But he had no time to think on that as Aki called, "Gaijin! Duck!"
He did, just in time to dodge her bo-staff being thrown over his head like a spear- and impaling a ghoulish monster that had just come out of the pipe! Wasting no time, he leapt over the still prone Fumon to battle. Aki's staff hadn't killed the thing, only knocked it backwards into the wall. A quick slash from the Pixel Cutter, and the thing's head was clean off. It fell to the floor in a rotting heap, then vanished in a puff of smoke and one hundred points.
Gaijin turned back to the Fumon, frowning as he wiped his blade clean and retrieved Aki’s staff. "That had better not be what I think it was." He said, gesturing to the spot where the corpse had been.
The Fumon rookie chuckled weakly, getting to his feet. "Eh, funny story, actually…"
"Start talking." Said Aki, brandishing her chain-sword.
"Ok! Ok!" Said the Fumon, backing onto the couch, and looking very much like he was regretting this visit. "Just... keep her away from me... Please..." He shuddered, remembering the the last time he’d faced Aki in the summer and had ended up as a frozen lawn ornament.
Several minutes later…
"You did WHAT?!"
If goombas could facepalm, Gaijin would have. He could already feel his eye starting to twitch. Trying to control himself, he said to the Fumon, "Do you have even the SLIGHTEST idea of what you've unleashed?"
“Uh... something bad?” said the Fumon, gulping as he noticed the dangerous twitch on Gaijin’s face.
“Try apocalyptic.” said Aki.
The rookie paled. “Th- that bad huh? Alright. How do we fix this?”
“We?” said Gaijin, his eyes narrowing. “What makes you think we are going to clean up your mess?” He poked the Fumon with the tip of his blade for emphasis.
“But- but you just said- !” The rookie couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Gaijin wasn’t going to help? “But you’re supposed to be the good guys! Even Daku’s helping!”
Both goombahs froze, staring hard at their “guest”. Seeing that he had their attention, the Fumon continued, “Why do you think I ran all the way here? I even lost my sword on the way! I was sent to get help. Your help.”
The silence seemed to stretch on forever, though it it was only seconds. The couple shared a look, seeming to reach some agreement, then Gaijin turned back to the Fumon, his gaze fierce and determined.
“Take us there.”
Meanwhile, back at the Fumon hideout...
A cry of pain rang out as another Fumon ninja was struck down by the swarming undead. Snarling, Daku fought his way towards them, but was too late, as the fallen warrior rose again to join the growing enemy ranks.
“Lord Daku! We’re outnumbered and losing too many ninja! We have to retreat!” said his second-in-command, appearing at his side through the throng of battle. The Fumon leader said nothing, slashing at another undead creature with his monstrous broadsword. But even as he finished that one, two more took its place. If he ever got hold of the idiots responsible for this mess... But that would have to wait. His eyes narrowed as he surveyed the fighting, calculating the odds. Despite his rage and determination, he could see that his second was right. They couldn’t hold out much longer, and even he, their best warrior, couldn’t keep them at bay forever.
“RETREAT!” he bellowed, “FALL BACK!”
His second took up the call, clearing a path to the exits while Daku covered the fleeing survivors. Soon he found himself cornered, breathing hard and locked in combat with several more of the undead. The Fumon had been fighting for hours to try and defend their base from the horde, but these monsters never tired. Fighting off several in front of him, he failed to noticed one of the turned Fumon leap at him from above. The impact was enough to throw Daku back against the wall, his sword knocked from his grasp and lost amid the mass of undead. He struggled to free himself, but the former ninja was somehow stronger in death, and he couldn’t dislodge it. The creature opened its fanged mouth, leaning in for a bite-
-only for its head to slide to the floor, the sword blade passing so close that Daku could feel the breeze from it against his face. He blinked at the gore-covered pixelated blade, then looked up into the eyes of his rescuer. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t come.” He said, unable to resist a smirk.
“And miss all the excitement?” said Gaijin, pulling the other goombah to his feet. His expression grew serious as he returned Daku’s broadsword. “Don’t make me regret this.”
“If we live through this, we’ll see soon enough.” the Lord Fumon answered. They moved back-to-back as the fighting began anew, once more one the same side, but for how long?
Aki, meanwhile, was having a field day, chopping away at the undead with her chain-sword and grinning maniacally. The poor Fumon rookie fighting alongside her was torn. On one side, he needed to stay close for the protection she could offer, but on the other side, he wanted to get as far away from her as possible before that sword was turned on him.
“How did you even know we’d come?” said Gaijin, slashing another monster as it came at Daku’s side.
“Because I know your heart.” he answered, dispatching his own creature as Gaijin ducked the blade. “You should guard it better, old friend. One day your compassion will be your undoing.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Believe what you will, I simply offer a warning...” They went on fighting, the two in perfect sync, even as Daku continued, “For instance, how do you know I won’t betray you when all is done?”
Gaijin’s answer was hesitant, though his sword didn’t falter. “I don’t.”
“Yet here you are.”
Gaijin quickly changed to a different topic, feeling his concentration waver. One slip here meant worse than death. “You certainly picked a fine time to be philosophical.”
“Can you you think of a better one?” said Daku, flashing his teeth in a twisted smile as he kicked away another opponent.
“I can think of several.” said Gaijin, flaring his wings and knocking back several more undead to give them some breathing room.
“So...” said Gaijin, pressing back-to-back with Daku again, “Your rookie over there tells us he unleashed this undead apocalypse.”
Daku’s eyes flashed dangerously as he caught sight of the Fumon. “Did he now? I was wondering who’s fault this was...”
The Fumon caught his master’s eyes, and paled. He found himself wondering which would be worse, dismemberment by Gaijin’s crazy wife, or facing Daku’s wrath.
Gaijin winced in sympathy, realizing what he’d just done, but quickly turned his attention to Aki. No worries there. She seemed perfectly in her element, now with a wall at her back and still happily slicing away. She was also racking up an impressive number of points.
“I can’t remember. Was Aki always that good with a chainsaw?” said Daku, unable to keep from staring.
“Uh...” Gaijin had no answer. But there was no time for that now. He quickly shook himself, nudging Daku and refocusing their attention on their own fight. “Any idea how to beat these things?”
“One,” said Daku. “but it involves a risk. You know the power our blades hold. If we unleash their full might, we could finish this.”
“You know what happens if I do that!” said Gaijin, liking their odds less and less. Though they were thinning the undead ranks with their skill and the special powers of their swords, they were still horribly outnumbered.
“Thus the risk..” said Daku, “but you know of mine as well. Under these circumstances however...”
Gaijin grit his teeth, knowing he was right. “Together than?”
One awesome display of combined magical undead slaying later...
As the last monster vanished in a puff of smoke and one hundred points, the mighty warriors took a second to rest.
“Do- do you think... we got them all?” said Gaijin leaning against Aki for support.
“I’d be shocked if we didn’t,” said Daku, just as tired, but determined not to show it.
“I’ll get my surviving Fumon to seal up that room immediately. But as for you two...”
Gaijin and Aki suddenly found themselves surrounded by Fumon.
“Daku...” said Gaijin, glaring at him.
Daku stared him down, as both sides tensed. Then he moved his gauntlet in signal, and the wall of ninja parted, revealing the exit. “Only for the sake of what was, do I let you go this one time.” he said, “Leave now. Before I change my mind...” He turned his back on them.
Gaijin opened his mouth to speak, paused, then closed in again. He felt Aki pull him away, even as he stared at Daku, at his once old friend, now long gone... Or was there still a trance of him left?
“Thank you, Hikari.” he whispered.
Daku closed his eyes, silent, and unmoving, as the two heroes disappeared.
Meanwhile, the poor rookie tried his luck sneaking out the other door, only to be caught and dragged back inside. He spent of the rest of his week sealing up the wall to the tomb chamber, alone.
As they walked home, Gaijin thought back to what had happened in the Fumon’s lair. He was so lost in thought, that he didn’t even hear Aki.
“Huh?! What is it?” he said, nearly walking into her as she came to a sudden stop.
“Look.” she said, gently grabbing his face and pointing it in the direction she was looking.
Gaijin stared up in shock. Their entire yard: pipe, pagoda, ka blocks and all, was covered in toilet paper and silly string. A note taped to their mailbox read:
Thanks for the save. Happy Halloween!
“OH COME ON!”