"...No...No... I don't wanna be alone... No... Please... Rarity... Everypony... Where are you..." murmurs Sweetie Belle in her sleep, hugging the Rarity plushie.
The sound of a horn rings in all the castle, making Sweetie Belle jumps from her bed halfway to the ceiling !
"What?! Uh?! What's going on?!" she screams while looking everywhere in panic. She sees through the window that it's still dark outside, the sun hasn't even risen yet ! Leaving behind the bed with the cover and some of the plushies on the floor, she opens the door to see the servants and soldiers getting out of their chambers and running toward one of the end of the hallway. "What's going on?" she asks out loud at one of the Waddle Dees.
"Emergency meeting! We must all go to the main hall! Follow us!" he answers.
So Sweetie follows them to the main hall, an immense room in the center of the castle with a beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling, an oversized portrait of Dedede on one of the wall and all kind of decorations, half of them in gold and with Dedede's face or symbol on them in one way or another. Dedede himself is waiting beside the portrait as the hall is filling with guards and servants of all shapes and sizes. Wait, is that an UFO over there? A living UFO? Sweetie decides to not question it. One of the Waddle Dee sees her and waves at her. She recognizes the Waddle Dee and approaches him.
"Hey! Sorry for the rude awakening! I swear it's not a regular thing!" he says while rubbing his arm behind his head.
"It's ok." she answers. She then hugs him. "Thank you for the plushies. Thank also all the ones that participated for me."
Waddle Dee blushes at being hugged. "Hehe...he... You are welcome."
"Everyone!!!" suddenly yells Dedede once the room stopped filling. "Something really bad happened that night! And I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about, because it probably happened to all of you!" He then waited to add some drama. Some of the servants in front of Dedede take this to confirm to him what he is talking about. "So I'm right."
"What happened!" asks loudly Sweetie to be heard.
Dedede look at Sweetie with a rising eyebrow before answering. "We all had a nightmare!"
Everyone in the room gasp, excepted Sweetie who deadpans at Dedede. "What...?"
Dedede raises the other eyebrow at her expression. "You had a nightmare this night, right?"
At this, Sweetie's expression saddens. "Uh... Yes."
Waddle Dee rises an arm to attract Dedede's attention. "Remember my king, she is not from here! She doesn't know!"
"Right. Then I will explain to you. You see, Dreamland is called like this for three reasons. First: it's good to live here. It's a real land of dreams. Second : like in dreams, almost everything can happens. Well, for this one, it can extend to all Popstar."
At this, Sweetie turn her head to the living UFO. No kidding...
"Third, and that's the most important in our situation: in Dreamland, we dream! Thanks to the Fountain of Dreams, nightmares NEVER happen!"
At this, it doesn't take long for Sweetie to understand. "Wait! But we all had a nightmare! So does this mean that something happened at this fountain ?"
"Exactly what I thought! And as the king of Dreamland, it is my duty to go and see what happened! With luck, it's just the Star Rod that has fallen from the fountain, but just in case, we must prepare! So get ready everyone!" Once he ends his speech, he starts walking toward one of the exits of the hall. "I also want a dozen Bronto Burts coming with me!"
The exact number of Bronto Burts starts to fly behind Dedede while all the others servants and guards scatter.
"I must go Sweetie. What will you do ?" asks Waddle Dee.
"I don't know... I have no idea what to do." She then looks at the door where Dedede has exited the room. "I'm gonna talk to Dedede. See you." Leaving behind her friend, she exits the hall by the same door and quickly catch up to the king. "Wait!"
At hearing her, Dedede turns around to see her approaching. "What do you want?"
"Can I come with you please? I don't know what to do here, and it will give me the occasion to discover Dreamland! I haven't gone out of the castle yet."
Dedede rubs his chin at what she asks. "Maybe? What do you think you will be able to do alongside me?"
"Learn?" proposes Sweetie.
"Good enough, I suppose. Alright, come."
The group exits the castle, giving Sweetie her first real view of Dreamland, and it's beautiful ! Fields full of flowers, green forests, uplands, ocean as clear as a mirror... It's really a land of dreams, very close to Equestria actually. She can see that they are at the top of a big mountain. But when she looks behind at the castle, she can't help but shivering at its design. It's a castle entirely made of brown stone, the same color as the mountain, and looks more like a fortress than a castle like the one in Canterlot. The more disturbing are the two glaring eyes like windows at the top of the castle, giving it the aspect of an angry beast, making the front door its mouth. It really looks more like where an evil overlord would live.
And now it's her home...
Dedede interrupts her. "Awesome castle, right ? Sadly, we don't have time to admire it. Hop on me."
"You will see."
Sweetie nods before jumping. Dedede being taller than a pony, she is not able to reach his shoulder, so she has to climb his finery the rest of the way.
"Mmh... I will have to train you to jump higher." says Dedede. "Everyone here can jump higher than what you just did."
"Really ? Back at Equestria, it is an average jump."
"Yes, but trust me, if you are going to live here in Dreamland, you will have to learn to jump higher. This place possesses many spots where you have to jump to continue your way, unless you want to lose time with big detours."
"Okay... So what now?"
"Now you cling to me and watch."
Dedede then open his mouth and starts inhaling, making Sweetie shivers at the memory of her being inhaled. After two seconds of inhaling air, Dedede finally close his mouth, now looking like a big balloon with his belly full of air. To Sweetie's surprise, he starts floating.
At this, one of the Bronto Burts chuckle. "Impressive, right ? After his defeat against Kirby, king Dedede spent days training to float like him."
"Kirby can do this too?"
"Yes, an annoying move, because he can avoid most of us and our attacks this way."
"So, can Kirby inhale too?"
"Oh yes... I... personally experienced it. Kirby possesses a stomach that is like a black hole and can eat almost everything, including us."
"Don't worry! We don't know how, but if you are eaten by Kirby, then you will reappear elsewhere close enough as if nothing happened! You can ask around! At Kirby's first... visit, at least a quarter of our army got eaten by him, and yet, we are all alive!"
"I can confirm." says another Bronto Burt.
"Me three. But it's not a pleasant experience."
"I... see..." Now she is scared of encountering this Kirby. "But why did he attacks you?"
All the Bronto Burts divert their eyes at her question. One of them eventually answers. "We... kinda took all the food of the kingdom, and Kirby wasn't ok with this..."
This lets Sweetie agape, not able to say a word. She then remembers how Dedede has told the word 'heros" while speaking of who she thinks is Kirby the first evening.
So I'm living with the bad guys ?!
After some time, they finally reach the place where the Fountain of Dreams is, which one of the Bronto Burts named 'Rainbow Resort'. She has found Dreamland beautiful, but this place goes beyond this! It's really high in the sky, to the point that there is not a cloud hiding the stars and whatever else there is up there. Instead, there are auroras mainly blue and purple. The floor is partly covered in ice reflecting the auroras alongside some yellow and green spots, and with this, she understands why it's called 'Rainbow Resort', even if there is no rainbows. There are even stars in some parts of the floors! And plants of the same colors here and there! She can also see a tall tower a little further, and she wonders why there is one here. An observatory? This would be perfect to observe the sky. Twilight would love it!
And exactly at its center, is the famous Fountain of Dreams, and she can already see that there is indeed a problem. The water shouldn't be black, right?
When they reach the floor beside it, Sweetie hops off Dedede's shoulder and hides behind him. If she has to choose between two potential evils, best to choose the one that has been 'friendly' to her. Too bad for her, Dedede decides to approach the fountain and its dark water. She gulps, and chooses to remain where she is alongside the Bronto Burts.
Dedede looks at the dark water, wondering what to do to get rid of it. He then decides to put his hand in the water to see if it would do something. That's when the Star Rod, a red and white scepter with a yellow star at the top that is in the center of the fountain, lets out some black mist that starts to take some form above it. Seeing the mist, Sweetie is remembered of Nightmare Moon, and takes a few steps back. Dedede moves back too, scared of what is getting out of the fountain, as a dark laugh starts resonating.
A figure emerges from the mist, with first a dark blue head with a long chin, and wearing dark shades that flash above his eyes. He also wears an even darker blue helmet with gold jewels on it, and a pair of really long yellow horns. An evil smirk is present on his face, promising suffering to all present. Then come two hands of the same color as his head, with long fingers ending in really sharp nails.
If this doesn't scream 'evil'...
The being then starts to talk. "So, someone finally decide to come die before me. Who are you, fool?"
Dedede takes a big gulb to resolve himself, and answers "I am Dedede! King of Dreamland§ And I ask who YOU are! And what do you want?!"
"My name is Nightmare. And what I seek is really simple: terror. Sweet terror."
"Terror is power. With it, I will soon be able to take a physical form. When this happens, I will plunge the whole world in a eternal nightmare, and spread my power to the whole universe."
"And do you expect me to let you?" replies Dedede.
"Will you be able to stop me?" replies back Nightmare.
"You wanna bet?!" He takes is hammer, ready to clobber that thing. Then, he jumps, and hits Nightmare right on the head. Falling back on the floor, he jumps back to see how Nightmare will answer. Nightmare hasn't even flinched at the hit, instead laughing before pointing a finger at Dedede. From the finger, he shoots blue star-shapped hollow projectiles at Dedede, in too much quantity for him to dodge all of them. Dedede finds himself propulsed on his back, groaning.
Sweetie Belle can't believe it! Dedede has seemed so powerful with that hammer, his inhaling technic, and his jump! And yet, not only he is getting trashed by Nightmare, but also, his hammer does absolutely nothing to this thing! If only she could help, but she doesn't know how to fight! And it's not with her little hooves that she will be able to hurt him if even that hammer doesn't work!
After a few minutes of a one sided fight, Dedede suddenly do something that takes everyone by surprise, including Nightmare: he jumps on the fountain, takes the Star Rod from its pedestal, and breaks it!
"No! Stop!" screams Nightmare as he starts to disappear. After a few second, there is nothing left of him. Dedede has just saved the world! But in consequence, the fountain has stopped working, leaving just enough water inside the fountain so it's not empty. At least, no more nightmares, but no more dreams too... How will they be able to fix it?
Badly hurt, Dedede takes back his breath, before saying "There! Take that! You... whatever you are!" He then breaks the Star Rod a few more times, until it's in seven pieces.
Sweetie Belle approaches him slowly. "Are you alright?" she asks.
"Yeah, don't worry for me. Bronto Burts!" he calls.
The Bronto Burts advance. "Yes sir?"
Dedede gives one of the parts of the Star Rod to one of them. "We need to make sure that this thing doesn't come back. You, I want you to give this to Whispy Woods."
"Yes sir." the Bronto Burt says before going.
Dedede gives four other parts to four other Bronto Burts. "This one goes to Paint Roller, I trust him. This one goes to Mr Shine and Mr Bright, their power should keep it safe. This one goes to Kracko, he is my best lieutenant. And this one goes to Heavy Mole, he will hide it under earth. As for the last two... I will keep one. And the last one..." He gives the last part to a sixth Bronto Burt. "It goes to the Knight. You know who I'm talking about. He doesn't like working for others, but I'm sure he will accept once you say to him what happened."
"So that's it?" asks Sweetie Belle.
"Seems like it, for now," answers Dedede. "Well, we are going back to the castle. But first, I need a bath." In then starts to walk to the fountain.
"You are going to take a bath in the fountain ? Isn't it disrespectful?"
"I don't care. Beside, I have heard that the water possesses healing properties.
And so, king Dedede starts to take a bath in the fountain... Sweetie now understand better who he is. Dedede is a selfish king with an ego big like the world. But at the same time, he can be a nice guy, ready to risk his life to do his duty, like protecting his kingdom. His loyalty makes her remember Rainbow Dash. If they ever met... Ooh boy, what a duo they would form.
Sweetie Belle sees then something in the sky and looks up. She can see a yellow star moving. "Ooh! A shooting star!"
"Uh?" Dedede hears her and look up from his spot in the fountain, only for his eyes to grow in shock. "This is not a shooting star! It's Kirby on his Warp Star!" He then starts grinding his teeth in anger. "Of course he would come to investigate!"
The Warp Star passes above them, before turning back and leaving from where it has comes. Sweetie hasn't been able to see Kirby.
Dedede gets out of the fountain and starts pounding the ground with his foot. "Now he will starts gathering the parts of the Star Rod! And he will doom all of us! You!" He points to the remaining Bronto Burts. "Separate and spread the word to the whole army and the guardians of the Star Rod pieces! It's a Pink Alert! I repeat, a Pink Alert!"
"What about me?" asks Sweetie Belle.
"You are not ready to face Kirby. So I will train you here until he is either defeated, or is able to come here. But frankly, I doubt he will be able to beat Meta Knight. This guy is on another level. But if he comes, then you will be my last line before me, whether you are ready or not.