Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2 (Redux)
Brutality and complexity (Chapter 13)
Disclaimer: Mario and co belong to… (see bottom for spoilers!)
Author note: Edited now to properly reflect the chapter title. Enjoy.
Ludwig felt rejuvenated for the first time in the last twenty-four hours. Spending the afternoon in stiff economic class benches did nothing to take away from it. He was not one to penny pinch on the regular or ever if given the option, but he had little recourse when he'd left his wallet and the credit cards inside in the ruins of Bowser's Castle. He wondered if in Sky Land his father had taken over and claimed the kingdom's castle nestled gently in the cloudy aerial landscape by now. Wonder grew into worry and worry towered and became fear and then fear toppled over into crushing dread. With that he'd successfully drained away all the the sense of tranquility he'd built up over the train ride. Ludwig knew he was good at sabotaging himself out of happiness but he was really out doing it this time. Enough of that!
Ludwig rose his head from the travel pillow as a yawn escaped him. Get a grip, the general reminded himself. He was traveling to Poshley Heights to meet the revered 'Villain Council' by way of the Excess Express. Now get excited already! -The way his brother Lemmy, his secretary, might chime over his shoulder in his uniquely half irritating half adorable way. He took an sip from his sparkling beverage in the cup holder. They were reaching more upper scale territory he noted. The ride was getting smoother. Indeed he had reason to be ecstatic. This honor that would have obviously been his years ago if 'Super Mario Maker' had not ruined his life that fateful day. Curses to Mario and that 'undo' button shattering the dreams of his perfect castle level... Soon Ludwig spotted out the window a marble water fountain embedded among rows of neatly trimmed green grass and vibrant genetically altered purple fire flowers. He was at his destination and he couldn't wait to shed the Phantom of the Opera like disguise he'd used to keep out of the public eye. At least it worked well, repelling other passengers and causing the attendant to stare at him strangely.
Perhaps they weren't so judgmental, instead perplexed at last passenger exiting the locomotive with their arms full. Ludwig was trying to be generous for the family with the bags of goods, so stuffed it towered above his tied back blue hair. Swaying back and forth and vision hindered by the mask on his face, his foot caught a high spot on the brick road and he dropped and busted what would have been Wendy's sparkling water. Ludwig caught his reflection in the sizzling mess and scowled, feeling absurd. That was why he did not 'do' generous. Disguise free, the remainder of the time before his special appointment he spent on himself. Now he was amped. He explored beautiful multistory Victorian buildings, stores, inns, clubs, and more. Areas were vast and there were no buses or taxis. That was for poor people he concluded. Some posh walker would spot a koopaling in their midst occasionally but the zapper he carried with him would seal their lips in a hurry. He discovered a humble library tucked away from the touristy areas. His attention was caught by the 'EX' on a book jutting out a corner shelf but it was no 'Ex spatio obiecti specialem'. It was a cheesy book on exes. He chuckled dryly and then drifted into dejectedness. Enough again! Nothing a jog couldn't fix.
Sprinting in overhead sun, Ludwig was starting to perspire as he crossed a stone bridge leading to a granite polished city building. His moment had arrived. He weaved between various flag poles erected. Some toad officers allowed him into the empty halls of the building where each step of his echoed.
"This way Commander Ludwig Von Koopa. We apologize for the promised banquet being canceled. What was going to be our food truck was reportedly hijacked by the team of doctors that used to work at that Mushroom Kingdom hospital. The one the princess use to own."
"That is no issue." Ludwig smiled, ignoring his stomached rumbling. He'd worked off much of the small meal on the train while running all over town to clear his mind.
"The Council is impressed that your forces have the princess apprehended even with your restructuring situation," the magikoopa continued, leading Ludwig up some spiraling hardwood stairs. He turned his head with a smile. The koopaling tensed at the last part of his statement but his guide moved the light conversation along, eventually stopping him at the top floor where there was only one large imposing door ahead. "Usually those Marios would have made a move by now."
"They are likely occupied with the Mushroom Flu problem. All according to plan," Ludwig replied. He shook the guide's hand and that was that, so he entered on his own. The wood panel room was medium sized with a high ceiling but not much else. In the middle were the Villain Counsel, all magikoopas in robes of red, blue, green, and white. They spontaneously clapped for Ludwig when he entered.
The koopaling flushed. "..I don't suppose I was expected to have an acceptance speech, was I?"
"No not at all," they assured him. A magikoopa with a long grey goatee approached with a box containing a gold badge with a detailed engraving of a skull and crossbones, aventurine accents in the backdrop and a ruby in the eyes of the skull. 'Mega in ultimum exitium villian' was etched underneath. The thing Ludwig sought for the last five years was now in his grasp.
And he felt...
His cursed brain was at it again. Him wondering something becoming worrying becoming so and so. At a time he should feel triumphant and proud a question was burning through his chest. One he might finally be able to get to the bottom of being at a specific place at a specific time.
Ludwig glanced back up at the counsel before he would talk himself out of it. "Thank you. Very much. May I ask, does so-and-so permit visitors?"
The group of elders paused with some suspicion. "You can find him at..."
Ludwig's snout was carpet burned, royally so. The sting took again from the throb radiating from the back of his head. He resisted glaring at the guard that bludgeoned him after his opening statement of 'We have your daughter so answer my questions right now' was.. the wrong one. Ludwig rose to his knees and remained there to conceal anymore hint of fiendishness in his demeanor.
"Let me try again. I am aware I am the son of your daughter's kidnapper but I am not here to pester you. I only have a question." Ludwig then bowed respectfully, wary of that spear or two or three aimed at his back by a guard. Everyone knew The Mushroom King lived out of town in Poshley Heights but no one including himself knew the precise location was not in a castle but a lavishly furnished but hidden inn. Very curious. "A certain person worked for Bowser Castle when I was just a small child. Though few records show this, I can testify that he worked closely with the philanthropist Dr. Mario to alleviate my people from the first outbreak of Mushroom Flu. Eventually he went on his way, but I recently found that he worked in your castle before coming to us. Why did you fire Dr. Theodore V. Koopa?"
The Mushroom King, a hefty human with a dyed black beard, spotted mushroom hat, and red robe sat lazily in a cushioned chair listening, strikingly calm in the face of an adversary until the end. The mentioning of Dr. Professor made his face harden and after a long moment he answered, "Dr. Koopa was the best in his field, very meticulous and quick. Smooth talking. " He paused with a flicker of dread. "But soon I could notice a coldness flashing in his keen gaze before returning to the state of which I allowed him in my castle among my household, a clever, jovial, and talented man who happened to be a koopa. He was even a wonderful cook! One day my suspicions were proven about ways of your kind."
Ludwig slowly rose up. "So what did he do exactly?"
The king sized him up with a steely gaze. "Is this much undeserved attention inadequate for you? I will say this. The young doctor would bedazzle many with the tale that he could prove the link between toads and humans. I saw the notes of his upcoming experiments once and I had to protect my family, not just that but never allow it again!"
Ludwig smiled politely, impishly seizing the opportunity to draw out what was now so obvious beneath the King's clean pious surface. "Of course not, King. I do not doubt there was a defect in Theodore's character but I am very appalled that you speak our kind as a whole as if we are beneath you. Think of life from an 'enemy species' perspective. We were only allowed full integration in the Mushroom Kingdom a few decades ago, and in some of the more remote Mushroom territories it is still said that those retched monstrous koopas will kidnap you in your sleep. How does that make us feel?"
"Koopa," the King said sharply.
"-Free willed adult toads who thank the stars that they're 'good' people so-called entertaining, yes, their young children with scary tales that deface us! -And we are expected to be tolerate with it lest we, well not I as I am not a citizen of the Mushroom Kingdom and would not wish to be, but you get my point, be labeled as one of the 'bad' koopas. We have a life of brutality and complexity is my point, forced to choose between our dying Old World Koopa Kingdom ways or assimilating into the hypocritical 'I see no species' moment and your Mushroom citizen's customs are major component of it. Now imagine the irony of I, a commander for Bowser, advocating the fact that not all koopas and koopa species are soldiers of Bowser and do not deserve to be treated as such and that you and the toads should not be allowed to mask their prejudice under their nationalism!"
"Koopa! Get out of my sight!" The King interjected so violently Ludwig shut up. The King in that moment seemed like a venomous snake ready to strike despite what his exterior might usually convey. Six guards approached to get right behind the Koopaling.
Ludwig steadied himself. "My apologizes. Ah hem. One last thing. Let us go back to those stories that are told in the night time. You see in Dark Land we actually have a similar one, but it must be a tall tale surely. They say that the real reason the koopa kingdom at the time fell ill was because... your toads poisoned us."
That created a cacophony of confusion and shock so great, Ludwig wasn't sure if a bomb had gone off or not. That actually may have been a good secondary strategy, one that would have given him a clean getaway and wouldn't have ended with him blacking out for a moment and waking up tangled in his own jacket on the hot sidewalk of the secret passage the Villain Council tipped him on. He got up and dusted himself off, finding aching sensation all over eerily similar to when he tried once and only once to crowd surf during one of his concerts. Adrenaline still pumped through him from the raw emotion got to spout off in front of one of the most powerful people he knew. He'd even forgotten about his Mega Villain badge until he brushed against it in his pocket while wandering in the streets again. One event had overshadowed the other and the wasn't the one he was expecting it to be... So that nagging feeling was correct. With a reaction like that it had to be. Peach's family had some dirt behind them and he could think of many devious ways that could be leveraged in the future when he was back with the Koopa Troop.
But he had to stop being lost first.
Trying to find a point of reference in the surprisingly massive city, Ludwig noticed he had unchecked messages on his phone. It was a roaming one way message from a tower labeled 'WW63195x'
"BZZT-Hey. This this on? Listen, you koopas will get enough of taking over my land and stepping on my property. I can't wait 'till you're gone. My shed that your father used as a marriage hall burned down and you are ALL playing for it! FYI I'm doing this favor to you, firing up my old radio tower that sucks up all the electricity because some brat, Larry I think, paid me gold coins. Think it was supposed to be secret. Now his message to you, punk: something big attacked Sky Land and your shipping truck slaves got washed away at Isle Delfino. Bowser is now in Giant Land, my home, where they DON'T belong!" The message terminated.
Ludwig's head was spinning still when he found the library again. He lunged in for local newspaper up front. He made a loud exclamation and was shushed or glared at by others while he skimmed the topic of Sky Land being victim of that 'Bowser Bomb gone wrong', though the editiors noted that that explanation was starting to seem less accurate when Isle Delfino reported the same unnatural sky phenomenon and yet had no weapon sightings. And that was all yesterday! On autopilot he found a cab waiting the library's curb and got inside the late model sedan. "Take me to the Mushroom Kingdom!" he ordered, and it drove off, the koopaling never recalling that Poshley Heights isn't supposed to have a taxi service.
Secretary Ming of the Chai Kingdom, a short and spout roketon scurried on foot to the backside of Daisy's castle, now home of a two-hundred foot deep trench excavated by servants in a mad treasure rush. Daisy's dozens of hired hands, paid workers and not volunteers as Sarsaland had no toads to be toady, kept digging in a perpetual motion, not responding to Ming's calls. If he he needed proof they'd gone insane, he had it. He would normally request help from the other generals, Yura, Roar, and Tao, but since their temporary replacement 'General Sǐwáng' entered the scene he couldn't get them to do anything but drool, sometimes literally.
Accustomed to being ignored he returned to Daisy's castle and his office when someone knocking on the front bamboo doors forced him back to the front. Eagerly he swung it open and there were three haggard looked individuals, a whomp, a toad, and a shy guy.
"Why you just standing there? You need doctors don't you?" Dr. Terrace spoke up.
"MKDCU?! No!" Ming shook his head, flashbacks of that time Daisy only had the mildest sinus infection playing in his mind. That group flipped the entire castle upside down.
Nass T. nudged the whomp to shut him up. "I'm nurse Nass Toad, head nurse of Isle Falsa and this is my crew. We are not invasive- unless we need to be. You've never heard of it? Here's our representative."
A fourth person revealed themselves from the side and it was a Sarasaland boarder officer that oddly smelled about as bad as the other three. "Daisy approved of us- I mean them some time ago."
"Ah. Go go. But not there!" Ming dragged them all inside and away from an ajar door he'd only then noticed. Officially hiring additional help was perhaps the most authoritative thing he'd been allowed to do in a while. He could continue the trend by being extra responsible and figuring out who meddled with that door.
Inside that room Ming could see a red led clock on the wall blinking '00:00'. He flipped a switch, illuminating the storage room with Daisy's still new vanity that didn't match the color of her room, a present box from the Crystal King, and a punching bag, also a dusty key rack labeled 'Weapon Storage' with the sliding card key missing. Ming kept the keys to the actual switches for their artillery so why would only the card be missing?
Mario sprung out of bed at the sound of banjos, not wanting to be ice bucketed. "I'm awake!" He sighed in relief and then dropped back under the covers for a few more minutes of rest. Thank Eldstar it was only the radio alarm this time.
Soon a group gathered at the barn to meet the doctors. The lab was somewhat cleaned up from last night to be presentable and notably demonstrative. Tables were filled with test tubes on racks, a green liquid bubbling fiercely with in. The capsule what occupied the back left corner of the barn had grown a posy of red and yellow wires since yesterday, looking ever more completed yet dangerous. The white boards were etched on from top to bottom in various formulas and notes in several different handwriting.
"We've compiled it the way Dr. Mario would have. I totally met him one time and he loved my work," Professor X-naut boasted questionably.
"He was such a great guy to help the old Koopa Kingdom back then. What does he do now aside from the Smash brothers thing?" Dr. Topper inquired.
"Why do you need to know?" Jr. Troopa countered.
Dr. Toad crossed his arms, appearing the most gaunt of the doctors. The entire time he did not engage Mario and company but instead keep his focus on their board notes. There were traces of frustration behind his passive face when he spoke up, "It doesn't really matter does it? All of our work will mean nothing if don't have his notes.."
Meanwhile there was some whispering was going on in the back of the pack. There were a slew of uninvited attempting to take peeks in the barn and one caught the attention of Yoshi. A bumpty in a lumpy wintry coat and a lined fur hat atop his dome waddled out the doors while writing something down on a yellow legal pad. Yoshi followed him and kept on his heels, even hunching down to blend in with the green corn stalks. The bumpty froze and Yoshi popped his head up.
"Stop!" the dino yelled. Goonies flew away nearby. The bumpty got smacked in the back of the head with a spotted yoshi egg, making him eat a mouthful of soil.
Shortly after, "Why were you listening in on us, huh, baddie?" Mario was face to face with the shivering penguin planted against the wall of the old western prison cell. The entire village seemingly gathered around at their wall of Koopa Troop spies, the bumpty and the two koopas from yesterday. Shy Guy ranchers riding ostros were tutting to and fro spreading the news like a wildfire.
"This was on him." Yoshi shook the jacket and a million little things flung out of it, keys, sticks of gum, coins, breath mints, but also a radio and notes.
One of the papers being scattered around brushed Buckenberry's shoe so the young helper of Mario caught it. "Let me get Toadette." The blue toad began to text her on the phone. Toadette had been moving back and forth between them down South and Peach's castle with the other toads all morning to manage things like she was sure to remind anyone who didn't ask what job Peach bestowed her. She replied instantly saying it's Koopanese and that it was a rough translation of the cure formula from the white boards. Buckenberry relayed that info and many gasped at the violation of trust. Professor X-naut broke from the crowd to lock the doors on the barn.
"I knew those blasted computers would do it one day!" the x-naut exclaimed wildly.
Dr. Toad sighed. At least these events had woken him up. "Morris, he didn't use a computer to steal our notes. Just his eyes."
Dr. Goom added, "And if we actually used the PCs as I proposed to contain our notes, this wouldn't have happened." The hammer bro coworker nudged him.
"You know darn well one of us would have flushed a flash drive down the toilet, or done something else to screw it up!" Dr. Topper teased.
"Momma mia..." Mario lamented to himself. Without his brother or Yoshi who was now absent to help contain this commotion, this wasn't going to end well.
"-We got a spot on Mt. Rugged where there's this big 'ol overhang and we dangle criminals over the canyon and whack'em with sticks," Vick said, one of many hospital staff lingering around for drama. "The kids used to be all over it like 'lemme whack 'em pard!' Think that'll work?"
"I remember that," Jr. Troopa said. "But, nah. Too much set up. I mean I could totally lift those iron bars if I had to but it's been a long day. Yep. I'm definitely didn't sprang something the other day because I didn't have a spotter for my dumbbell set. No siree!"
"Blast you, Junior," the patooie plant shot back. "We can use the Mecha-yoshis then, pard. They ain't gonna glitch I promise."
"We ain't saying nothing!" The hammer bro Bowser spy grunt.
"We ain't know nothing either!" the other added.
A small white boo with a black ten gallon hat and a red bandanna over their mouth appeared on the scene with a cool 'whoosh'. Mario, forgotten about by then, felt a chill. The boo tough and intimidating silenced everyone they crossed. Soon all watched closely the boo diddly and sensing this they smirked back.
"Watch this," the low voice said. "You wanna see someone talk? I will make them." They spun the the prisoners and back again the the crowd, smirk twisting into something more cruel. "By the power of Eldstar!"
With a clap of thunder out of place for the sunny sky, a bolt of lightning came down and struck the the spies with a bright flash. Spectators uncovered their faces and all three were burnt badly, the bird without a protective shell taking the brunt of it and turning completely crisp. Witnesses gawked before it became rousing praise around the morbid sight, some out of wonder and others out of fear.
The spectacle became more intense when the two koopa spies had survived after all. Desperately ran through the crowd and into the prairies. Vick whistled and engines revved up from an unassuming staple nearby. Cyborg dinosaurs knocked the doors down on their squeaky speedy wheels on the trail of the escapees. Mario heard a zapping noise with some wheat flying up from an isolated spot in the field, then another. Lasers were being shot, fires were starting, people were panicking, ranchers were carrying water buckets and everything became chaotic.
"TriggerHappy McBoo!" Mario unshakingly called out.
The boo diddly nodded once and left when the wind.
A blanket of dew covered the ground and mosquitoes buzzed. The air was clear and new grass sprout under the ashes of Bowser's storehouse fiasco from last night. Warm rays were broken up by the canopy and Peach planted herself in the fragmented light. She had this time to herself, not out of kindness on her kidnapper's part but because of a emergency family meeting being held somewhere. She missed her anchor Mario so much. She was so lost in the world before he became a part of it. She knew it pitiful but much of her life before then that point felt etched out and she liked it that way. She didn't need the past simply. She returned to Bowser's forces and the campfire while Kamek rambled about something, trying to avoid the creep vibe giving Sentry 11 watchdog. Having nothing else she played around on her phone. Such a juvenile thing for her normally, it did pass the time. She had plenty of battery and everyone around her, even Toadsworth alarmingly, was seemingly too clueless to notice she possessed it. She almost discreetly made a call to her father to let him know she was okay but weightily decided against. Something had changed from two days ago when she so eagerly extended her affairs to him for support. Now it just felt like he didn't deserve it...
Deep lines in his face, Bowser plopped down on a stump, far enough he thought for privacy with the family. "A bunch of ya'll wanted to discuss some things, so let's do it."
"Larry and Junior are both trying to sabotage your plans," Lemmy tattled. "Together even!" He felt he was almost becoming Ludwig, a nightmarish realization, and he would have to get on a trampoline some time and dance to techno to gain his old jive again.
"I know. Larry is grounded forever. What else?"
"Junior doesn't get a punishment?" Larry blared.
Bowser sheepishly spun to him in the far rear. "Oh yeah him too. Got thrown off for a second. Junior rarely misbehaves. Next?" he went before anyone could inform their father than his opinion of his youngest son might be a tiny bit inflated.
"I got something to say. King Dad, I'm getting annoyed that you don't let me do nothing!" Roy said. "Dis kingdom or any of 'em can been in the bag if you'd lend me half da army!"
"How are you gonna do that when I don't even have enough minions to keep the outhouse's toilet tissue stocked? Huh?" Bowser barked back. "What did you really have to ask?"
Roy paused for a long time before crossing his arms and turning his head. "Nothin'..."
Morton closed shut the diary his face was buried in moments before. "May I mention that I have a startling discovery like when I found Junior's missing pet chomp by reading every morning newspaper for a week until that one koopa reported Mr. Chomper as lost? Zheng Koopa was a quizzical author and explorer and his life parallels ours. I was in the book club that was down the block, not to the left where someone stole my wallet, but to the right where I found a one-hundred coin bill. Long story short, I received this book and would you know, the exact terrors of Zheng are our own? He was stalked relentlessly, King Dad and us too! What tragedy, calamity, disaster will happen next? An earthquake? A bomb?-!"
"Morton!" Bowser shook him out of the daze. "Last I checked we ain't him so it's fine! This isn't the first tornado to ever touch down is what I'm saying. We not the first kingdom relocate a few times either. Those stories doesn't make sense. Who's attacking us? Why would this mythical thing want with us anyway? Get y'all's freaking head on straight!" He stooped to one of his sons in particular. "I haven't had any trouble out of you the whole time now that I think about it. He's now y'all's role model."
Iggy kept busily tinkering with his watch project. Now the wires from it were tamed and the watch face could open to reveal circuitry and the minute hands spun counterclockwise. It would almost seem he was detached from reality utterly but he did a quick thumbs up letting them know that he was only slightly detached, his normal.
Lemmy rose his hand. "King Dad, I agree! He shows the true Koopa Troop spirit, resilience, fearlessness, and he loves being mean!"
Wendy had a stank face for a second before a cute little pout took its place. Lemmy wanted to check her for her fraudulence but her lips where to quick. "Me too daddy, don't I? I got everyone flagged for the fake articles. And and- oh let's forget about rebuilding here and just move over to Water Land. Peach might warm up to it since it's not filled with disgusting bugs and crazy people and etc," Wendy explained casually. Her actual apprehension was revealed by her nervously playing around with her gold bracelets.
Bowser stood up from Iggy. "That's… not stupid!"
"But daddy! I don't want more brothers and sisters!" Junior whined while stomping his feet in miniature imitation of his father.
Bowser picked up and cradled the six year old. "If that's all you're worried about? Don't son! Just don't worry about it, okay? Now we know the plans so let's get back. Now, everyone!"
Larry let himself get left behind. He miserably kicked a rock so hard his foot stung. The oblong pebble skipped across Iggy's feet, the older brother busily tinkering with the device.
Larry sat next to him and sighed. "Iggy. Do you want dad to marry Peach?... Bro, listen to me!" Larry waved a hand in his face. "If you're now out here ballin' as they's all flippin' role model or whatever like that makes you an enemy to me now 'cause they ain't getting married not on my watch! Ya feel me?"
Iggy turned to him. "Would a gearmo and a X-Yux ever go on a date?"
"-What's that's to me? How can I control that?"
"We can't. Sorta like-"
Larry felt punched and so quickly he let go of some of the tears he'd been holding in since yesterday. One by one the droplets rolled off his cheeks an patter on the woody forest floor. If he was caught in front of anyone else he'd have just died already from embarrassment, but in front of someone like Iggy the deluge only increased.
"Don't say stuff like that! It matters to me and why doesn't anybody.. like, get that? No one ever gets me. No one. You all think I'm just trying to be selfish or a trouble maker but it's not like that! I actually want dad and all of us really to be happy for once. Dad thinks he wants Peach. I've really spoken to her now and she's actually cool, but they wouldn't be a match. I think dad like, just likes the ideal of having her, you know? And all of us just butt kiss dad's stupid plans so that this thing never ends. We could really be doing something you know." Facing away Larry wiped the moisture from his eyes with his forearm. His voice was becoming creaky and hoarse and he had no pride left to hide any of it. "Like you Iggster. The amazing junk you build all the time? How much of it get's forgotten in the basement because we're too dumb to use it correctly? How much is ruined because we act like stupid idiots? On like the other side you could have been rich by now... Don't you get it? I'm not trying to be the bad guy of the bad guys or even a good guy necessarily. I just want to wake up one day and not feel like I HAVE to be this way or that way or not have to act like a thug to be respected, man! I could really change that I feel but it's all riding on me now and I have no one. I just keep failing.. " Larry was then jolted by the hand warmly reaching out to him.
"You didn't let me finish Larry-chan," Iggy said with warm smile. "What I meant was if the universe doesn't want it to happen it simply won't. You don't have to feel like a failure no matter what occurs from here- at least I hypothesize. That's why I've been on the down low working on this watch."
Larry sniffled. "What?"
Iggy returned to the gadget, lighting up once more. "See I felt until now that since the universe is really really old, to put it in laymen's terms, it wouldn't need the help of such minuscule entities like us to sort it out would it? Maybe. If I get this invention to work we may finally see."
"But- why do you need to stop time?
Trapped, Iggy's smile waned for only for a second. "...You confided in me so I'll be honest." He sat the invention back into his lap with his head down. "Two nights ago Luddy, Lemmy, and I did a bad thing- not on purpose, but it sorta went downhill quickly. Luddy got brainwashed when we were trying to interview Zoo. He had an item that a Dark Star came from and now it seems to try to follow us with the storms. King Dad proposing to move around is good because it buys me more time to maybe get this over with, you know like a season finale that goes on too long. Excuse it looking like I don't care, I totally do, but if I made a fuss Bowser and all of you probably, be honest, would call me crazy and I need peace to work on this watch. I'm resorting to desoldering components by the heat of the sun for instance-"
"Well can't Lemmy back up your story? Dawg, we could have figured this crap out back home!"
Iggy rose his hands defensively. "He wanted it to be a secret too. The three of us deliberated before Luddy left and majority ruled."
Laughing bitterly Larry kicked another rock. He thought he'd be shocked at those words but it seemed he suspected of such all along. "So Lemmy can't take the heat for his part in screwing us over.. I respect you Iggy for actually trying and not pretending everything's okay and for listening to me for once." Larry paused. "But Lemmy is dead to me now because that's being fake and I can't stand that. I just can't. What would that make me if I let that go?"
Iggy hated to hear that but he'd let Larry be entitled to all of his opinions until now and he wouldn't stop just because it was against his best friend. To be honest Iggy wasn't sure why Lemmy was still keeping up the charade himself.
Back in the village forces surrounded a solder under suspension of treason. After Bowser weeded through the crowd he approached Thwomp #3, apparently a spy caught by Sentry 11. Said lakitu handed over the a electronic messenger from the thwomp, something small and rugged.
Bowser growled while pocketing the device in his shell. "Be honest and things might be a little less painful, spy. How much did you spill to Mario aligned idiots? Did you get into our treasury chests?"
The thwomp resisted the urge to shudder. Upon closer inspection he was much to aged to have been a legitimate hire. "I don't work for Mario and I wasn't interested in your tacky junk treasures." His tone was low and guttural, with an unexpected Mushroomy accent. "I wanted dirt on you and it's been relayed already ages ago. The world knows you're stinking up Giant Land. You wimps do what you want now!"
Sentry 11 flashed a crooked grin, missing a few teeth on the sides. "Boss, let me handle this one. I use to be a hitman before I joined the troop and there's a special technique I haven't gotten to do in much too long."
"Great. Get lost with the traitor. The rest of us have some new plans-"
"Oh and I found this too, Boss. The princess was using this thinking we were too dumb to see her." The next object the sentry presented was pink with rhinestones, Peach's cell.
The princess on the outskirts of the wicked gathering felt the ground give way under her. She had to do a sanity check to confirm that it really had been seized from under her nose without her noticing.
Bowser gawked at the glittery phone before pocketing it as well. "How did this go on for so darn long? Kamek? I thought you could detect sneaky stuff? Eyes in the back of your head, or third eye or however you said it?!"
"Lord Bowser. That was me in my prime and in our comfortable castle, now I'm doing well if I can keep my specs from fogging up. Besides," the magikoopa replied with mild offense, "I had to leave behind my scepter back at the castle. Without it I'm-"
"-Yeah yeah. Forget I asked ya, gramps." Bowser huffed in irritation. He would leave Camp Bowser as is for now while moving his personal fleet, princess included, to the tropical paradise of Water Land as his daughter suggested. She was rarely one to get so involved lately but change was good and things could only go up from there.
Ludwig played around with the weighty Mega Villain badge in his paws during the taxi ride. At first it began to pall him and now it in fact spawned a fringe of contempt. Everything leading to this moment now was of questionable worth and for once today Ludwig didn't force himself out of that state of mind. A bump in the road made it fall from his loose grip and slide under the seat in front of him. He shed his jacket so he could stretch and got to blindly reaching for it, eluding the crumbs and dust caked down to brush against something black and spherical, a bob-omb. Reluctantly Ludwig ignored the implications of his cabbie, a stubbly faced red boo having that. The sooner they got to the Mushroom Kingdom the better. Then he could stealthily use one of their warp pipes to get to Giant Land.
"-Tell me something, Prince. How did you invent that tornado thing that flipped Dark Land upside down?" the driver asked, curiously eyeing Ludwig from the rear view. He lowered the volume on the talk radio station.
Ludwig felt a wave of heat in his face, scrambling for the least incriminating explanation. "Don't let the rumors mislead you. It was not a projection or a subordinate of mine, though I venture it was perhaps sentient, but what happened was real and out of our control. Very much so."
"I hope that badge was worth this big ol' mess! Sucks even your workers Sam and Slam payed the price too."
Ludwig tuned it out that as a long river running along the road sparked something in him.. "...Please, stop the vehicle!"
They skid to a stop on the road's shoulder. Ludwig rushed out and ran to the water's edge, launching the forsaken Mega Villain pin as hard as he could. In slow motion it sunk into the water and disappeared. Everything about him in that instant felt lighter. It felt like the noose around his neck loosened he could breathe again. Taking just another moment to collect himself he leisurely returned to the car, fiddled with the greasy tattered backseat belt, avoided the suspicious stain in the seat- and glanced upwards to find his very own engraved orange NES zapper aimed eye level.
"Nice heat you're packing buddy! I like how can really feel the weight. Solid trigger too."
Ludwig took a deep breath. "I fail to understand why you choose now to rob me. I do not possess much. Not anymore!"
"You got enough for me, hehe. Plus river's convenient for your body. Now GET OUT!"
Ludwig slid out and trudged towards the grass shore arms raised. Instantaneously the boo was at his back.
"Now what did your janitor have to do with the first storm?! How did he win your competition? How is Bowser controlling it?" the boo snarled down his neck. "Speak up!"
Ludwig wasn't sure he was more dazzled by the robbery in broad daylight or the assailant's insistence on that other matter. "Easy I beg of you! You lack perspective, the underling Zoo didn't mean to- We didn't- Okay, it was all a mistake! It was all a mistake and it is my fault and I would have fixed it possibly if-" The koopaling's eyebrows lowered. "-If you didn't ruin my day further. How are you privy to these facts?"
"Ha ha ha. Bout that. I tracked you personally since you left Sky Land. Anyway, there's a few hundred miles of water here, it'll be hard to find aaaalll your pieces scattered about!-"
"You are despicable!"
"Thank you thank you thank you." The boo bowed. "Last words?" he laughed.
Nearly at the water's edge already, Ludwig dared to turn his head at the boo. Seeing him so clearly now he seemed middle aged and strong if unkempt, but mostly just unhinged. "May I get acquainted with you before the end? Name?"
"What?.. Oh it's Trevor." The boo pressed the zapper into his back.
"You look like a Trevor."
"Ha ha. That's what my parents said. Know what else they said I looked like? A problem. Know where we're going with this? I know you're stalling for your life because they all do that," Trevor continued clinically. "-I mean makes sense. I guess it's alright to get to know the victim. It makes the souvenirs in the back of my freezer more memorable..."
Ludwig struggled keep his poker face "..So my question was who do you like better? Mario or- who's that green one?"
"That's not quite right."
"Aren't they both Mario?"
Ludwig was sweating. "What is the full name of Mario's brother?" he pressed gently.
"Just messing with ya. He's my fav. Mario's brother is Luigi..Mario!"
That was his break. Ludwig had hit the voice assistant on his phone when he first got out of the car and now catching 'Luigi Mario' and proceeding to dial such, the phone blasted a loud violin chime. His attacker startled, Ludwig brought his elbow down on the boo's head and flung him in the water. Ludwig bolted back to the car to find the keys missing. He jumped back out and began to trace the ground for them, getting blindsided by a hard punch. Ludwig's head smacked backwards on the pavement.
"Geh zum Teufel," he groaned. He knocked Trevor off and shot a fire ball his way. The boo turned invisible and reappeared on the other side of him. Ludwig kicked him against the car and something clicked loudly. Worn brakes failing, the wheels began to roll the car, gaining speed until it hit the curb down the steep hill they were on and careened into the water, sinking quickly.
Trevor stopped in the middle of the street. "That was a company car! I'm sooo fired man."
It was then Ludwig's turn to blindside the pink boo with a punch to the pavement. "Listen carefully scoundrel! I do not care! I must prevent a super powered being from taking away everything and everyone I love and I'm running out of time due to people like you! Piss off!"
The boo brushed off the scrape from the fall and did not retaliate. "We know. It was all my signature interrogation technique, buddy. I'm actually Agent M of Super Spy HQ in Toad Town. We were trying to make sense of what's going on with you and your family and I was doing better than any other agent until the breaks failed. That wasn't scripted and now we have a long way to walk into town. Drats. I hate freaking walkin.." he trailed off.
Ludwig felt a dizzy sensation watching the boo float down the street. First of all no one putting on a psycho impression that well could be fully trusted, but he was out of options. The strategy was changing. Now could Ludwig be flexible to it? Of course he would or else he told himself.
Down South any and all enemy species dwelling in or around the shanty town and even north into Toad Town were briefly under suspicion of being a secret spy. Old prejudges threatened to leaven but there was no real basis for paranoia many concluded. Crop fires were extinguished, robotic yoshis were locked back up, a certain patooie nurse was reprimanded again, and everything calmed down. Mario closed in on the boo in the ten gallon, waiting until the best time to confront them. They were hiding on an empty ranch tossing axes into an old rotting fence for practice.
The plumber approached carefully so that he might not frighten them and get something flung his way. "Excuse me. Hi. It's me Mario. Just wanted to talk to you."
Booigi slowly spun around, just as pent up looking as before.
"So.. Aren't you Boo? Boo Diddley? Before I sent Luigi off he was worried sick over you. If you'd calm down and head back with us at the-"
"It's Booigi the Second and I'm fine here." Booigi tossed an axe and struck the bullseye perfectly. "What did you think of my performance before?"
Mario gulped recalling that terrifying spectacle. "It was something alright, but you know that's not how we do things here. Luigi would say the same."
Booigi was about to toss another axe when they shuddered. "Shut up! I do everything for him!" they exploded.
Mario fled the scene before he got zapped or impelled. He fled all the way back to the hospital where there was Yoshi standing around. He'd disappeared since the bumpty incident but the look on Yoshi's face made clear he'd witnessed it all anyway. Mario panted while pulling him aside to explain, "Yoshi I found the guy with the hat and scarf!"
"TriggerHappy McBoo that murdered that Bowser crook! If they were working for me, I'd fire them. Maybe if you and I together lay it on them they'll wise up."
Yoshi seemed startled and then upset. "They're bad guys. You'd fire Boo over that? You aren't doing anything like that yourself sitting on your butt all day!"
Mario gazed at his friend in bafflement. "You think I planned sitting around in hillbilly county while by brother is doing my job? Of course not. What are your amazing contributions for today, Mr. Shows-up-late as heck?"
Melting into the ground almost, Yoshi faced away. "I didn't mean to yell, old friend."
Mario draped an arm around him comfortingly. "What's going on? You were messed up yesterday and you're still messed up today. I know you said you had a fight back home but that's what you always say and yet usually you're the guy that I count on to light up a room. I mean, you shoot rainbows in our sport games. Talk to me!"
"...It's difficult Mario when I'm the who doesn't have fiancé anymore. When I'm the one who doesn't have a home I can go back to now. When I'm the one who killed Dr. Professor Koopa. When I'm the one who can't forgive myself for it..."
Yoshi found himself in Mario's embrace, the only thing so far that could break up the dark cloud within him.
Mario was running late as a shocker. Kylie Koopa wore a trench in the ground pacing under the local water tower. Sometimes she'd enter the spy car that brought her in the rustic territory for some air conditioning. Mr. Jelectro waiting in the drivers seat did not say a word to her. She supposed the noki was indeed exiled to the couch last night. What a bump on a log she thought. By contrast she could nearly burst like a bulky bob-omb from excitement. Something rare and grand was happening, so much so she dashed to meet her guest half way.
"Mario great to see ya. When I first got in town why was there a mob of folks carrying torches and pitchforks and scythes?! I know a lot of the locals are farmers but.. So anyway we got Sarasaland on the line brother, from Daisy Castle. I worked with some Toad Town spies to do it and we thought, actually I thought, actually I 'strongly' convinced them to give you the honor of answering the line!"
Surprised, Mario took the receiver from her. He could make out General Yura, Roar, and Tao on the other side but that wasn't the voice that spoke to him a loud and harsh tone.
"Hello? It's me, Mario."
"MARIO? HA HA OLD CHAP, JUST GOT THE WRONG NUMBER. MEANT TO GET CASTLE KOOPA. TA TA."
Mario froze, eyes darting between Kylie who mirrored his expression, to the unreadable noki and not getting the announcement he wished for that this was some sort of joke from either. "How did you mistake my number for Bowsers?! How?" he demanded the beeping disconnected tone.
One possible explanation came to him quickly. He lost an old cell phone of his once in enemy territory and some of its data got leaked, including his address book. For a little while there was some mix up because he had Bowser's number saved under his own name in a wild idea to keep his friends from knowing when he was calling his rival. He could have used literally anything else but he used that. Well he shouldn't feel too bad. Bowser told him once he had Mario saved under 'Buttercup' to throw off his family. That was strange tangent just then...
To be continued..
(spoilers) Disclaimer: Annnnnnd the answer is…. Nintendo! Did you guess right?
Created: 7/4/19, 7/6, 7/9, 7/10, 7/22, 7/25, 7/28, 7/29, 7/31, 8/4, 8/21, 9/1, 9/2, 9/13, 9/15, 9/18, 9/24, 9/29
Edit: 12/28, 12/29/20