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Mickey Mouse

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Erde Nona was in flames.

From the mech troopers’ aerial vantage point, grassy knolls looked more like volcanic spouts. Flames ripped and roared across the countryside, ravaging pastures and sinking buildings into nothing more than ash. Through their scuffed up viewfinders, the pilots could barely make out the ant-like figures of the Hinterlands’ citizens cutting frantic paths through the fields, desperately seeking solace from that which had come to destroy them.

High above their heads, the motley crew knew that they were the only hope for the planet being ripped apart before their very eyes. At the head of the pack, the hoverjets of Lieutenant Commander Frederick Dillinger’s baby blue mech armor whirred as he spun around to face his troops.

“This is it, boys,” he growled, punching one of his mech’s fists into the other palms into what could only be interpreted as an exaggerated display of his natural, masculine aggression. “There’s no time like the present to show the enemy what we’re made of, jabronis. Because if we don’t… well, there may not be a future to come home to.”

“Boys?” a precocious voice piped up from within a large, hulking purple suit of armor near the back of the pack. A quick glance made it apparent the pilot was practically swallowed by his mech suit’s gargantuan size. The lieutenant commander found it hard to see the little guy at all… though hearing him turned out to be less of an issue. “I was pretty sure Agnes over there was a girl, right? Right, Agnes?”

The pilot within the yellow suit withered a bit. “I mean, yeah.”

“Also, that thing you said -- about the present and the future -- that doesn’t make any sense,” the little guy continued, stretching his neck so his whole face could be seen in the viewfinder. “When we go back -- if we go back -- it’ll still be the present, then, right? I mean, yeah, right now that’s the future, but if we go back, it’ll be the present. Right?”

“Just shut up, kid,” the burly dude in the forest-green armor, who had paraded his superior camouflage color choice to them all in the loading bay, scoffed.

“Eat shit,” Hiro Hamada shrugged.

“Boys,” the lieutenant commander said again, and Hiro cringed, “now is no time for squabbling. Now is the time for kicking… some… ass --”

Just as the lieutenant commander’s speech was about to reach its carefully crafted climax, the sky lit up red, accompanied by the shell-shocking blare of an alarm. Within seconds, the world around them shifted from the wartorn skies of Erde Nona to a series of repeating hexagonal shapes, and orders came in over the intercom.

Attention,” the feminine voice called out, “your attention, please.”

Hiro lifted the alabaster VR helmet off his head and the simulation landscape disappeared from his view, revealing the much less rural environs of the ARC’s gaming center. He, the asshole pilot of the green mech, and Agnes stood amongst a group of seven or eight kids who’d chosen to cash in their precious coin on the latest sensation from Wondertainment Toy Company: a video game style virtual reality simulation of an Unmaking attack, released not so tactfully on the three-month anniversary of the ‘victory’ at Cevanti. For all his swagger, Lieutenant Commander Fred Derringer had just been an avatar of exposition for the program, so when the VR helmets came off, he ceased to exist.

Hiro had gone back and forth about participating in the unmistakable capitalism of it all. His own wounds from his time fighting the Unmade Arbiter of Cevanti and its thousands of minions still weren’t completely healed. As if on cue, he reached a hand into his pocket and palmed the seafoam green computer chip that contained Baymax’s core programming, as he always did when memories of the Siege of Markov rushed back into his mind. True to PTSD-stricken form, he had yet to muster up the courage to finish a full reconstruction of the bot. Something inside him, he supposed, feared that the old Baymax’s last memories -- undoubtedly, he knew, of being destroyed by the Fade -- would rush into this new Baymax’s consciousness from the cloud or something, and Hiro wasn’t sure if that was a story he was ready to be confronted with.

The Siege itself wasn’t a memory he carried lightly, either. He’d yet to confide in anyone that he’d actually fought alongside any of the heroes of the Siege, like Ashe-0, or Mustang. For all anyone here on the ARC knew about him -- not that he spoke much to anyone to begin with -- he was simply a refugee, ferried off the planet as doom seemed imminent and before the thought of salvation had even manifested in anyone’s minds.

Unidentified object approaching the ARC’s hangar bay,” the intercom buzzed into his brain, interrupting his stroll down memory lane with the possibility that he was about to have to relive it all again. “Possible Unmaking vessel. All security personnel please be on alert; civilians and refugees, please seek out shelter.”

“Hmph,” Hiro grunted, Yeah, right.

A few minutes later, Agnes would look around the circle and worry aloud where little Hiro had run off to. The asshole would say something snide, no doubt, and Agnes -- who, despite Hiro’s insistence that he wasn’t looking to be her friend, had fashioned herself his adoptive big sister -- would slap him on the back of his head. But the boy genius, freshly fifteen after spending his last birthday in the dank and depressing refugee quarters, had pretty much already made it to the ARC’s main hangar bay to see what the hell was up.

The sight that greeted him was… well, nothing short of unusual.

***

Mickey Mouse’s last thoughts were of just how gorgeous the nebulas surrounding this huge, glorious space station were. Purples and blues and greens and yellows danced throughout the far, pitch black reaches of space, creating something almost like a mosaic before him… some sort of galactic work of stained glass art.

Or, at least, he thought they were his last thoughts.

His surroundings certainly didn’t leave much room for hope. Proto Man barked orders and the Sqwid Sqwad scrambled to try and set the course aright. PLUTA’s emergency warnings blared overhead and each engine fired loudly in succession, but never at the right time, never altogether. Black muck exploded from the smokestacks atop the coal-powered spaceship, and the very floor rocked beneath its passengers’ feet. Yet Mickey simply sat, criss-cross-apple-sauce, in his captain’s chair, and shut his eyes as the Spaceboat Willie careened towards the ARC’s hangar bay.

Don’t worry about it, Mick,” they’d said.

One of us can pilot the ship.

It’ll be a piece of cake.

Well, mothertruckers, Mickey sighed peacefully, really hitting his moment of zen, I tried to tell y’all. Ain’t nothin’ we can do about it now, pals.

The Squee purred as it leapt up from the arm of his captain’s chair and onto his shoulder, snuggling into its master’s neck. The mouse king opened one eye ever so slightly and rolled his gaze down to the little orange creature. “Well, fella,” he nodded, “I guess this is the one time it really pays off to be imaginary, huh?”

He closed both his eyes again, and inhaled one more time. His ears twitched a bit, and he wondered idly if that was… music playing? The ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies,’ perhaps, or something else whimsical?

Or just the beeping of the Spaceboat Willie’s emergency systems going into overdrive?

Eh. Who could say?

And in the midst of the chaos, the spaceboat breached the hangar bay’s crystal blue shield barrier and slammed into the shiny silver floor. Soldiers and security officers scattered away from the crashing nautical-style space vessel as it skidded slowly to a halt near the center of the room.

Peeking around the doorway, Hiro Hamada’s jaw dropped open.

“Holy shit.”
 
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Samus Aran

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The void of empty space was peaceful and refreshing.

Samus never really understood how much she cherished the quiet and dead of space as she’d traveled between worlds until she’d been dumped unceremoniously on Nos’Talgia. After encountering that poorly painted, candy coated abomination of a planet she had been all too happy to find transport off world. Talk around the 8-Bit spaceport had led her only to information about a place known as the ARC. She didn’t know exactly what purpose they served in the depths of the Crossroad’s space, but the hushed whispers about its purpose and lack of chocolate related puns led her to believe it was more her speed than what she had already encountered in this realm.

She entered the cockpit of her transit ship as it entered the landing sequence, and she had to admit she was impressed at the sight. She had seen her fair share of space stations before, but this was one that could compete with those. Ships of all types flew around, and smeller stations dotted the space around it. It felt organized, yet the scattered varieties of ships told her that they had pieced this grand vision together. Despite the underlying feeling of desperation the place exuded, she felt comfortable. It was what she recognized as home. Right down to the disorganization of traffic control.

“What’s taking so long?” Samus asked the pilot as she looked over. The delay and holding pattern didn’t worry her. Infact, the only bit of discomfort she could admit to was that this was normally the time she was already wearing her Zero Suit, and when she activated the Varia Suit. Both were absent, and though she was a deadly fighter she was less than excited about venturing into the ARC in just her casual clothes.

“There’s some sort of situation in the hangar we’re assigned,” one of the two pilots responded, not sure what else to say. He’d been given the minimum amount of information needed.

“What kind of situation?” Samus quickly asked. Just as she didn’t have her armor, she was lacking her whole arsenal, without even her sidearm for when her suit wasn’t present. Yet she knew that most of the time a situation preventing her from landing was…

“Some issue with a ship that tried to land,” the pilot replied. “Didn’t sound like a make and model I know.”

Samus shook her head and turned to leave, but stopped at the sound of a beep from the console.

“Nevermind, we’re cleared to land,” the pilot said as he flipped a few switches. “Hang on for the landing sequence.”

The transport ship gunned it forward, making its way to the designated hangar. Such a sequence was more than familiar to Samus, but this time the sight inside was a little hard to digest. In the middle of the hangar was a giant steamboat that had somehow escaped its river and made it to the depths of space, and then right into this hangar in the ARC. Samus found solace in the fact that everyone else in the place seemed to be gathered around it with just as much confusion as she had.

Her ship landed with no issues, and she walked down the landing as it deployed. She stopped at the edge of the ramp to look up at the oddity that was Spaceboat Willie.
 

Mickey Mouse

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Smoke cascaded out of the Steamboat Willie’s heavily damaged frame, and Mickey Mouse followed. He clambered up through one of the newly-created gaps in its hull, blinking his eyes and trying to figure out how the heck he was still alive. He had been sure -- like, one hundo percent sure -- that this crash was going to finally be the death of him. Somehow, though, here he was, a little blurry and a little stumbly but altogether still wandering through the realm of the living.

“Sand’s in derriere!” one of the person-shaped blobs gathered in front of him shouted. He blinked again, and reached up, sticking a gloved finger in his ear and trying to clean it out to make sure he’d heard what he thought he’d heard. Couldn’t this fella see that he was still trying to get his bearings? What the heck was he supposed to about this guy having sand stuffed up his bottom, anyhow?

“You got sand where, pal?” he sputtered, stepping shakily forward. He’d begun to regain his balance but the ARC still spun out of control. If someone could freakin’ turn off the merry-go-round effect, that would’ve been swell.

“Hands in the air,” the same blob squealed, almost whining. As the dude slowly came into focus, it became clear to the mouse king that he was being faced down by a squirrelly young human in a uniform of sorts. What exactly the uniform was supposed to mean -- well, that he didn’t know. All he could tell was that it was pretty ugly and boring, from what he could see. He blinked again, trying to focus in on the other blobs around this little guy, when suddenly, behind them, he spotted something that made him do a double take.

Blonde hair in a high pony glimmered in the decidedly non-glimmery fluorescent lights of the hangar, bouncing on top of the head of a woman who craned her neck to try and see what was happening past the blobs. Something about her seemed both fuzzy and not fuzzy all at once. Unlike the rest of the humans and aliens standing before him, Mickey Mouse could actually see her pretty clearly -- almost as if her features weren’t unfamiliar to him, like he was piecing her together from his memory -- but he also couldn’t even nearly put his finger on where he knew her from.

His mouth opened a bit to try and say her name, but no name came.

Where even could he have known her from?

He lurched forward, digging around in his pocket and pulling out the furry orange Squee. As he passed by the squirrelly guard, who still hadn’t made good on whatever authority he was pretending to have, he dropped the Squee onto the man’s shoulder. “Here’s the keys, pal, please don’t scratch her up when you park her.”

For his part, the man glanced up at his shoulder, seeing absolutely nothing, and the imaginary creature quirked its brow and leapt down to follow its master into the crowd. Within the battered shell of the Spaceboat Willie, Proto Man and the Sqwid Sqwad groaned, and the squirrelly young man’s attention was diverted from Mickey long enough for him to disappear between the legs of bystanding blobs.

Mickey pushed through, emerging on the other side of the blobs and seeing the casually-dressed Samus Aran standing before his eyes. He pointed up at her, blinking a bit. He wanted to say ‘I know you.’ He wanted to say ‘Where do I know you from?’

But in that moment, all thoughts that she might be familiar vanished, and he couldn’t only spit out three little words.

“You…” he started, “you look cool.”

A hand wrapped around his wrist and yanked him to the side. He glanced up at the lanky form of a young, black-haired boy pulling him out of the hangar. Samus glanced after them, barely even having time to open her mouth to respond before Hiro Hamada quickly interjected.

“Quick,” he said, “we gotta get outta here while they’re distracted.” He nodded towards the guards, and Mickey’s eyes followed to see the Sqwid Sqwad being ushered out of the ship rather forcefully.

“My -- my crew,” he stammered.

“No time,” Hiro hushed him, and jerked him out a side door.

The door began to shut, and Mickey Mouse began to drift truly into unconsciousness. Just before his vision faded away, he spotted the lithe form of the blonde woman slip through the doorway, hot on their heels. Then… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
 
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