Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2
Rambo Mario (Chapter 14)
Disclaimer: Mario and co belongs to Nintendo.
Captain Toad reached for the lantern in the tent blindly before he found the switch, fighting off the dull headache. That was probably the best result he could wish for with how the journey yesterday with Luigi went. Something in him changed since their talk at Sky Land and from then on he was at one hundred all the time. The plumber was uncannily good at following maps albeit a consistent amount of degrees off, redolent of someone too comfortable with improperly calibrated compasses. Luigi also needed much less sleep than him as evidenced by the empty green sleeping bag besides him. The toad unzipped his red sleeping bag and reluctantly crawled out, covered in day old cuts and bruises. His bandage wrapped feet had stopped bleeding which was 'swell' as the adventure was long from over. It was foggy in the south western quadrant of Giant Land, nothing above but white. Everything felt more uncharted than usual without the the brigade The Captain was accustomed to, more isolated and more perilous with only two sets of eyes watching for the next danger. Giant Land had no lack of such.
A twig snapped. The Captain paused his set up of the camp as something rustled in the bushes. He scanned around pickaxe in hand before something yanked the tool from his palms.
"Gotcha." Materializing behind him, Luigi dangled the pickaxe from the green vine lasso he'd created. A bandanna of blue denim was wrapped around his forehead and he was topless, only sporting some spare pants he'd brought along tucked into his hiking boots. "You have to stay vigilant!" he advised cheekily. ".. Not a morning person?"
Captain Toad humorlessly continued to look as dead as a Mummy-me. He jabbed a stick into some meat on a plate he'd prepared and held it over the fire bouncing in his humble little firepit. "Guess so, Mr. Luigi."
Luigi sat opposite side of the fire crisscross style. "We're better off than you think. All Mario and I use to have were rocks to sleep on. Rocks! Well, you slept into the afternoon and we need to move on. How much longer is that Tayce T. impersonation gonna take?"
"Until this thing I killed yesterday isn't raw."
Luigi watched the flames jump around and gave himself the time to breathe. He'd been training all morning. This adventure was unusual for him too, but for a great reason. He was the main character this time around and fittingly for this trip. Something weird was going on with Bowser and Luigi was going to ensure the day would be saved as efficiently as if Mario did it. "Hurry up already. You know I ate something raw a few minutes ago!" Luigi subtly puffed out his hairless chest.
"Don't do that. You might get sick," The Captain droned.
"I was talking about berries you spoilsport," Luigi added wryly.
On the hunt for 'The Enemy' they continued. Hidden piranha plants were a potential painful surprise clamping onto their legs while they avoided suspicious huts nestled among the forest on the way to for the river ahead, the body of water flowing through the entire kingdom. Luigi and Captain Toad hauled a small raft of logs they spent the night on to the river bank and took the plunge. They were violently pulled a five miles down by unpredictable rapids. They got drenched while hanging on for dear life and avoiding Boss Bass. Quickly they approached a tall dam of rocks and were going to crash.
"Abandon ship!" Luigi let go to dip in the river while the raft was torn apart by the boulders. He rose and paddled, looking around. "Stan? STAN?" Heart in his throat, he spotted the Captain atop the dam and rushed to his aid, tossing rocks aside to uncover the toad from the pile the shook him before he spat out a lot of water.
"Mr. Luigi..thank you... But it's..Captain Toad.." he gasped.
He lifted up from the thwomp camouflaged underneath him with a two black eyes fluttering. Branded on a spike was a faded Bowser emblem reminding Luigi of a temporary tattoo. It took them a dozen tugs to eject the stone baddie from the rubble and get him on the muddy shore line.
"Thanks," the thwomp grunted, snapping awake. He saw the duo and looked at them funny for a moment. "Let me take you two to Bowser's camp right now!"
Still jittery from nearly drowning, Captain Toad lowered his pickaxe. "Excuse me?"
"You coming or what?" The thwomp rose in the air a short distance and slammed back down, 'walking' deeper into the forest.
Soon they followed the path of thwomp sized intentions in the ground heading north and close the boundary line of something guarded by a barb fence and cameras. A bright spot light aimed around and clearing out much of the mist. Eventually Luigi had to 'go' just missing the opportunity in the water so he let himself trail behind to finish business and catch up. One step on the main path again and Luigi wandered past a laser, causing an alarm to sound.
"For the last time get away from my house and stop stepping on my property and stealing my land and peeing in my plants!" The house rumbled as someone charged down stairs and then out of the doors with massive earthquaking steps.
Having nowhere to run, Luigi braced himself and got ready for the medic bill. "I'm here for the princess and not Bowserrrrrr!"
The goomba skid to a stop a foot away from him. A switch flipped he became a flat faced yet brilliant looking mushroom, believably responsible for the impressive array of electronic surveillance and satellite dishes in the middle of nowhere. "I see you are indeed a hero with such outerwear. Like an action star! I would know my guest, I run five streams of all of the old classics. Please excuse my performance before, the oppressive Koopa Troop are utterly detestable to me!"
Shivering, Luigi peeked through the crack in his fingers. "Umm. Who are you?"
"Richard Goomba Sr. PhD and not the one that visited Mushroom Kingdom hospital East, that was my son with the MKDCU. Is there anything you need my guest?"
Luigi noticed the doctor's yard was like a miniature jungle, or since this was Giant Land a normal sized jungle from his perspective with high grass and curious antiques spread about. Something caught his eye. "Well.."
A deranged shirtless man on a vintage chunk of steel, a WW63 era motorbike with an engine roaring like it was born yesterday, burst into camp making enemies squawk and flee. All they had against him where slingshots at best as he rode by jousting them with a heavy duty plunger, also an WW63 antique. He was Rambo Mario, not leaving a single baddie standing without a face full of decades old toilet water.
"That's Luigi!" A hammer brother stumbled out of the outhouse. "Get backup!" Captain Toad swung down from the tree above knocked him out. The toad had been waiting for Luigi to show up, imagining the delay was bad berries.
All of the foes at the camp's gate defeated, Luigi revved up the bike before the Captain. "Pick your jaw up and hop on!"
"...That's how you lose fingers, trying to peep into boss' treasures." The long jagged edged knife lay beside him like a silent warning. The actual chests were tucked away deep in the room, next to the dry toilet.
"B-but we're running out of toilet paper! Please please please please-" the koopa subordinate continued endlessly.
He paused, taking a deep breath that made his listeners on edge. "Open it then. Keep bothering me and I'll-"
"Be my guest, Sentry," a third person snapped. "Tell me. What is your real job?"
"-Terrorizing you all!" The lakitu suddenly stabbed the wooden table before him with the blade, making the koopa and magikoopa jump. "Now scram! I claimed this cabin because someone left a pedicure kit in here and I'm gonna use it gosh darn it!"
The koopa and a magikoopa hurriedly left the cabin, the one deepest into Camp Bowser and near the storehouse that burnt.
"Nice try!" Luigi knocked their heads together while Captain Toad kicked the door open again. They both caught the grizzled lakitu hitman gingerly filing his ugly curled nails.
He lifted his head up, only mildly alarmed. "A half naked Mario brother and a toad. Interesting."
They both charged him so he rolled backwards, knocking the pink foot tub containing nail files and bath salts in their way. As they climbed over the clutter, the lakitu nimbly sprung onto his cloud to attack with spiked balls. He went around the table, to them the size of a huge dinette set. Luigi ducked and used his lasso to knock away the spikes raining down. As his kind was known for, the lakitu got the slip out of the window. A second later, they heard a click on the door. Captain Toad rushed to it and tugged. Locked. He swung his pickaxe but it bounced off and created a thin spidery fracture through the steel.
Captain Toad groaned before the placid usual side of him took over. He changed subject. "Since we are immobilized, Mr. Luigi, where'd your bike come from?"
"A Mega Goomba recluse that's a retired doctor, has a skeleton of a human in his home, suspiciously next to the photo hung up of his ex wife, collects war memorabilia, has a pretty good stereo, and watches people take a leak in his garden.." Luigi knocked on wood to feel how dense the door was. "That radio of yours? Lemme borrow it."
...Leaning around a tall, old, and tired oak even older, taller, and more tired than him, the liberated thwomp became astounded at how quiet the camp got in minutes. Just last night he was cooped up with the Koopa Troop on night watch as so-called 'Thwomp #3', gambling for the prize of the peanut butter sandwiches someone snatched from Kammy's picnic basket like the rest of them, and inwardly wishing Bowser went down in the fire at the store house. It'd sure be easier that way, but espionage in Dark Land was never easy. He made his way past the unconscious koopa bodies until the ground shook. He gaped at a the old BeanBean battle tank rolling through the camp gates.
"Tally-hoooo!" Richard Sr. screeched. The tank spun and fired at an empty hut that exploded into flames higher than the canopy.
"Crazy loon!" the thwomp barked, picking himself up. "This is Agent 999 of Super Spy HQ, stop that! Stop that right now- hey!" The agent squeezed his eyes shut as another golden bullet bill whizzed over his head and into another shack. Boom!
"I'm on a koopa scum hunt. WHERE THEY AT?!" Richard went on belligerently.
...Some distance away, Luigi put his ear to the exterior wall. "You hear something funny?"
Captain Toad kept chipping at the rotting chest in the corner next to the bathroom stall. "I'm too busy trying to not smell anything funny." Pieces broken off and water (they hoped) from the toilet joined the bath salts on the ground to form a slush that at the very least smelled 'better' than it looked. Finally the entire axe handle broke off and the flat heavy part of the blade smashed The Captain's toe. He cursed loudly.
Luigi darted from the wall to the opposite corner. "Sounds about right! Quick get over here!"
There was a huge bang at the wall being torn in two and falling flat, taking half of the roof with it and sending the mega sized bricks and logs in the sky. Once the dust cleared there was the cannon of the tank aiming at the opposite wall that remained standing. Luigi's back was against it and his chest rose up and down rapidly, teeth in his head clattering.
"T-there were no koopas here. It was us, doctor!"
The small circular hatch opened and Richard Sr. emerged after a tight squeeze wearing a combat helmet. The pipe fell out of his mouth at. "My goodness! This is where they kept you captive?"
"Locked us in. Thanks for.. Oh snap!" Luigi saw little pale arm sticking out of a bunch of wreckage and slung off the planks. The Captain was on top the wooden chest which had shattered from the blunt force of his body into a pile of gold coins, broken glass, and lots of old notes.
"Call..Me..Stan.." Captain Toad fainted, making the most important pieces slip from his hand. There an an old map of Dark Land, Magikoopa rites, and a yellow writing tablet.
Luigi was about to dive down at the messages when Agent 999 barged through the door frame still standing somehow, eyes bloodshot. "You're all under arrest!"
"If you think the disasters follow you, are you trying to take it here on purpose? You know I have family here. I take offense to that."
"Nah just kidding. They're all dead."
"Nah just kidding again. They moved last year. Ha ha."
Ludwig needed some fresh air, cranking the window to let the warm breeze flow through his hair. His company was morbidly awkward but he was helping him get to Toad Town which would be soon as they found a replacement ride, an large company truck. He was strangely content for once because despite the weighty matters on his shoulder because he had a new perfect plan.
"-Agent, I need cooperation from Mario and associates. You told me that Mario is still in town and instead he sent his brother in pursuit of my father, so I need to pull an assembly together. Tackle our real foe collectively. Then.. well, we can play kidnap the princess some other time. Do you understand-" Ludwig paused while the owner of the vehicle they were 'borrowing' from made a sound from the trunk. "He can breathe back there, correct? I refuse to share a murder charge with you. I am not fully convinced you do not already have one, agent!"
Agent M began to giggle behind the wheel. Flying down the road in the they drove under a sign stating that the next exit was 'Starman Lane'. "Never mind, Agent. Take... that road!... Then let's travel along so and so.."
The pink boo pulled off the exit and into Toad Town, driving along until they were before a block away from the post office. They parked on the curb. "Here? You sure buddy?"
Ludwig exited the car, standing in the door. "I'm sure. Thank you for this favor you were under no obligation to partake in, but I'm not your buddy. Please, don't start," Ludwig nearly laughed. "Oh and can you perhaps wait for me?"
Toad Town was not demilitarized like Poshley Heights so he had a bullseye on his head the moment stepped away from the car and everyone could get a look at who he was. A koopa jogger with a bandage on the back of his head going down the sidewalk pointed at him and called the cops remarkably fast. Rotten mushrooms spontaneously fell on his head from thin air (or maybe it was just citizens tossing them from the apartment across the street). He dashed inside the post office. Parakarry was behind the desk dealing with high stacks of overfilled cabinets towering to the ceiling while a stuffed satchel ready to go hung on a rack.
"Rain, snow, sleet, you get it," he greeted, busily grabbing letters. "What do you need to send off?"
"My message to Mario: I, Prince Ludwig must meet with them urgently!"
The mail carrier gave a start when he rose his head and faced the koopaling for the first time. "..You will have to deliver that on your own. Umm, so everything else is already backed up sir," he advised, apprehension masked by professionalism.
Ludwig put his claws to the desk and leaned forward. "I must meet Mario and company to inform them that I want to meet them?"
Parakarry pulled down a black mesh visor over the desk mildly rude like, closing up right in Ludwig's face. "Sounds like you get it, sir." With a well veiled smirk, Parakarry's wings flapped and took him out the office. Ludwig was forced to simply leave only to find his new 'buddy', the secret agent's car missing, leaving only the oil puddle.
"Curses!" He spun around in front of a snifit holding a taser. "...Oh, what is- bbbbbbppppptttttttttt!" the koopaling sputtered while electricity ripped through his entire body. His blue hair rose, he wet himself, and seconds later he was out!
The yellow faded notebook was plopped on a table after the trophies and war conquest medallion were brushed aside, also the ashtray, the remote to the alarm system, and the other remote to the other alarm, the remote to the remote, etc. The doctor's cluttered desk only matched the house they were in.
"I want tuna for today, I want a sandwich too." Luigi read a little farther down Dr. Mario's stream of consciousness in written form. "Last week's pay only fifty coins, but this is the recession… Items used for Megavitamin X: Sulfate, so and so.. That last one. The secret ingredient is koopa scales!"
"Makes sense.." muttered the mega goomba checking under the newspapers covering his windows in a paranoid fashion.
"Yep," the thwomp said plainly, tied up with extra thick extension cords. "I knew you were looking for that missing part for Mario."
Luigi discreetly folded the note. "So you were pretending to work for Bowser to get it yourself?"
"Not exactly, I do this in general to keep HQ on top of the fool. Bowser has no records so no one ever notices an extra thwomp. Only got caught cause this new situation put the troop in closer quarters than usual."
"Mmmm mm mm!" mumbled Captain Toad in the suffocating neck brace.
"What about the storms, toad? To be honest I was offsite 'n I didn't experience roofs peeling personally. I just know it comes out of no where and includes lots of thunder."
"So you're Agent 999 at your HQ, but who's Lieutenant Stone then?" Luigi asked him, holding an ID they'd combed from the rock baddie.
"I am. I use my real title sometimes and it hardly matters. Koopa's dumb as bricks. We're done? My butt itches and I want to go home."
Luigi checked his watch, remembering green pipes in Richard's backyard. "Doctor, thanks for the hospitality and the cool bike and the tank rescue and this weird bullet souvenir you say you pulled from your own heart in the war, but we're on an urgent mission and all and I noticed you had something we can use to get out of here quick..."
"Be on guard, partners. We were once delivered a barrel of Ukiki and I was the only guy for the job.." Jr. Troopa announced to Mario and a few of his staff lined up against the South gate the split that land and Toad Town. The teenager followed up with more unnecessary boasts as they half paid attention, impatiently awaiting for a mystery crook to be handed over by the Toad Town police, or rather 'Snifit Patrol'. No one really knew where that masked vigilante came from except that he drove the futuristic and silver car zipping closer down the dusty path. It missed their open gate and instead smashed through the fence beside it.
"Dern it! I just fixed that!" Probabilly yelped.
Mario fanned away the red desert dust while the window rolled down. "Mario! I caught a good one this time!" The snifit inside the vehicle said.
Mario suspiciously shifted towards dark tinted backseat window. "You know, for the last time, it's not problem for Birdo to use the womens restroom!" he warned.
"No no no no no. I totally learnt my lesson!"
"And Peekaboo badges aren't illegal either, even if you can see people in their underwear with it!"
"No! Just see!"
The window rolled down and they gaped at Ludwig von Koopa's disheveled presence. He was snoring and slumped over then snapped awake with a start.
"Ludwig?" Mario questioned. "Why aren't you with Bowser?"
"Mario? I mean, of course! I will explain and quickly: There is a 'dark star' we are quarry to, we being everyone involved in my Mushroom Flu plot that was fulfilled Friday. This includes even Sam and Slam, remember what happened to Hotel Delfino? Maybe not, the local news is congested and someone would rather hear a tawdry sales pitch than incline the ear to the pain and suffering of islanders thousands of miles away... So where 'we' go is marked to get attacked by catastrophic gale forces and I need your help to resolve this and save my family's lives. I'm only alone because I decided to travel to Poshley Heights for an award, one that is in the company of cheep cheeps currently. I do not care about that now. All I care about is mending my mistakes. Whether I intended to or not it began with me and now it must end with me. Am I clear?"
Mario and Jr. Troopa could only stare.
"Soooo, want me to bring him into town down here?" Snifit officer inquired.
Yoshi, the blue and yellow toads, and Toadette, the last of which decided to visit briefly were at the checkers table for a team game out at a isolated area of the land, in the shade of the water tower and away from the bustling town square or Southern hospital. It was Buckenberry and Toadette's red side verses Ala-Gold and Yoshi's black side.
"I know you all are a little young for this but don't ever go down the sunk cost route," Yoshi told them while making random moves whenever it was his turn. "I would spend all of my dinosaur coins trying to make her happy. A new gift to patch up every little argument we'd have. And now I'm homeless!" he concluded. He had more ardent thoughts on that matter and what it really meant for his future but that was enough said for the audience.
"Rough man." Buckenberry then made a poor move on the board.
Toadette pinched his ear closest to her. "You're so dumb Blue! Don't move right in front of their king!" She recollected herself politely. "-Sorry Yoshi. Really, I mean, the person you loved the most not loving you back? I don't know what I'd do in that scenario." She thought for a moment while Alagold made his move, a silent as he was now these days.
She continued, "You kind of seem fine for all of this to happen yesterday. Like.."
"He's on the rebound already, bruh," Alagold spoke up.
Yoshi flushed at his checkers partner. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, that is it!" Buckenberry echoed.
Yoshi quickly made a move on the board to shut the children up and based on Toadette and Buckenberry's simultaneous groan, the dinosaur realized that he'd just won the game.
He got further distraction from their wild ideas when the noises they'd been hearing all along got louder, not unlike pipes clanging. Yoshi craned his neck upwards at the water tower where the vibrations originated. Everyone abandoned the game at the table and leaped out of the way as the tower emitted a deep gurgling sound. A spot on the ground got darker before a spout of water shot up high in the sky. It happened in another spot as they ran for frantically towards the nearest help, which was a phone booth a block down caked in dust from lack of use.
Yoshi picked it up and all the toads crammed inside while geysers kept popping up. He thought of that one time he was desperate for help and how doing something crazy, like dialing Mario's house phone helped, so he rung it up. "Hello? Someone pick up!"
"Hello? Yoshi?" Luigi answered on the other end. "Cool, timing pal. How'd you know I just got home? Listen, tell Mario the secret thing is koopa scales! Okay? Koopa scales!"
The dinosaur was almost too stunned to reply. "I'm glad you're okay! But we're not!- We're-"
"-So much static, what?"
The call disconnected when a geyser erupted right underneath them all, sending the booth up and away to the 'moon'- actually a nearby billboard advertising a Broadway adaptation of Super Mario Galaxy. It still hurt though.
Splash! Lemmy rose to the top of the water. "Geronimo!" he said after the fact to the annoyance of his father. Deep in paradise, this was the Koopaling's fifth dunk in the water coming off of a palm branch.
Lounging in a beach chair, Bowser spared abusing his vocal cords. Roy was still out with what was left of his army and his other kids were doing whatever. He was tired of reflecting on his future, how he would reestablish things, IF he should even try, reflecting of the allies he did have, didn't have, and of reflecting on not reflecting on anything. Bowser turned to the princess to his left, chained to a beach chair, when she pat her forehead with a clothe. She'd melted nearly as tropical sun beat down and she adamantly refused to change out of her long pink dress.
"What?" Peach said in a low but curt tone.
"Uh, getting uncomfortable? Want a fan or somethin'?"
"I could use less 'fans' if you are included in that."
Bowser gave a snort. "Cute. Anyway, we need some transport don't we Hotness?" he ventured awkwardly. "I heard there's a legendary canoe around. Ever considered like love boat or something?"
"Why are you pestering her? Have not you done enough?" Toadsworth's tiny arms gripped the bars to his cage.
"Shuddup old man!" Bowser rose angrily, fist balled.
Kamek under a palm tree was snoring in his snug wearable blanket. Subconsciously the magikoopa shut up.
"-I mean my future old man- forget it! Gahhh!"
Roy and the squad marched through the shallow blue water connecting the various islands raising their spoils: palms, paddle boards, small crates of supplies, and lastly the Water Land king's long green robe. Roy dropped it before his father, letting it gently fall into a bundle. "We ran 'em out so quick dey were just diving into da drink to get away. Then we chased 'em some more. So, yeah.."
Bowser examined the garment with nods of approval following. "That's golden." His son lingered around digging his feet into the sand. "So what's the problem? I gave you stuff to do like you wanted and now you're looking like I took away your wrestling magazines!"
"Then act like it," Bowser remarked bluntly.
Lemmy completed his swimming laps around Wendy floating on a tube sipping lemonade and around Morton silently tubing and reading, then he out of the water to dry off. He couldn't shake it or ignore it. He'd quickly developed a big brother instinct and it was going off. Maybe it was something else too. Guilt.
...On another Water Land cay a fifteen year old leaned against an abandoned toad house. To pass the time, Larry watched rolling waves or fantasized about being in a speeding sports car while waiting for his important secret call back. Iggy kept his company earlier before walking off with his ambitious watch invention thing. Until now they were like oil and water in spite of the small three year age difference and their shared interests: video-games, internet, hot girls, gadgets, fighting, and pranks. Now they felt like the proper pals they should have always been.
"BOO! Hehehe! What are you doing?!" Junior popped out of nowhere.
Larry shoved him back, heart still racing from the shock. "You little dweeb! Quit it!"
"Oww! You're gonna be a- what's that word? Re-bal, aren't you? I'm gonna tell!" the six year old countered, rubbing his cheek.
"Ha ha ha. The irony of that. If only you knew who's really rebelling around here, brat. Do it! King Dad takes you to a stupid retarded ugly ol beach now you're back on his side, GTFO. I don't need annoying little brothers like you anyway!"
Junior covered his mouth with a flush. "You said a bad word!" he squealed.
"Shh!" Larry picked up his cell. "Hello Mushroom Caterers? We want the wings, the ribs, the booze, everything. Bring it to Water Land, can't miss us. Gotcha baby. Bye."
Sentry 11 slowly rose over the horizon. His balaclava was missing, revealing a round and very untanned middle aged lakitu face graced with a greying fuzzy little mustache.
"What is that gross thing?" Larry felt his skin crawl once the lakitu was close enough to see that detail.
"You'll learn when you're actually a man. Now, wait till boss hears how Green Mario found the old base and I had to lock him in with our loot."
Larry pulled off his meanest look to no effect. "Well that's what's credit cards for, gramps!"
"Credit cards..." Junior repeated, squeezing tightly his father's Master Plan card. Many expensive toys were snuck onto the platinum slab of plastic without Bowser noticing.
When they met back at base Bowser had decided to not cry over spilled Moo Moo milk and would make Water Land the new Dark Land. He directed a layout where a platform could go, a fortress, and more, before learning that his stuff was looted back at Giant Land and his army was halved yet again. The island shook like a volcano awakening and the flames from Bowser rivaled the heat of one.
"I knew it! Mario was practically next door and you thought I was overreacting!?" Bowser lashed out. "EVERYONE ASSEMBLE. NOW!" The tropical island got packed with every mook the Koopa King still had to his name. "We're having the wedding to night and NOTHING will stop it. NOTHING!"
The koopa paratroopa slowly approached the dark spider web filled corridor. He had a limp from an old injury but his stance was strong. The human plumber gave him a nod and then closed the door, sealing them in. A leaking valve was just before them, gushing and making the floor flood with a foot a water.
Then Mario turned the valve with light effort. Something rumbled briefly but the water stopped. One eyebrow rose. "...That was easy."
Probabilly wrapped half a roll of thick duct tape around the dripping spot. "Usually is, Mr. Hero. If half the folks had a brain- I wouldn't have a job!"
Mario didn't expect that response, nonetheless they shared a high five. Once out the corridor they received a round of applause as well from the hospital staff plus others he didn't expect.
Mario rushed to one of the tallest in the crowd, hugging him tight.
"Big bro! You're looking rougher than me!" Luigi said, smiling ear to ear. "Did you help Yoshi and hear what I told him?"
Mario pulled back a little flustered. "No? I've been busy just now. Someone apparently dropped their Mario Galaxy Note 7 cellphone down the city's main septic tank or.. or something. Who the heck would do that?" People began agreeing with the famous hero. Vick at that moment quietly escaped the utility home, whistling and hoping no one would notice. Mario waved a hand. "Ah whatever. Mistakes happen. Anyway, what happened to Yoshi again?"
...Moments later, someone finally located a ladder long enough for the billboard twenty feet in the sky. It seemed old and wobbly but it was 'reliable as they come, pard', Mario was told. It was planted in place for the four stranded on the walkway in front of the colorful Broadway show graphic, ecstatic to be rescued finally.
"Old friend, I ought to fire myself for not keeping an eye on you, you and the toads. Oh Eldstar, I got you kids dramatized!" Mario apologized even before the green dinosaurs boot, singular as one go flung off during the who geyser thing, touched the ground. Mario could see the impact sight up there. It was gnarly. Blue and Yellow Toad decidedly slid down the ladder daringly but Toadette hesitantly, though she insisted she didn't have a heights problem afterwards.
"Mario. Forget it. You're the best." Yoshi ignored any aches and hugged the plumber. It was so nice this way, he nearly became lost. Mario politely let him.
Luigi awkwardly stared at the one sided embrace. "Umm.. whenever you're ready can we get on that koopa scale secret ingredient thing? And someone just told me Ludwig is locked up down here right now. What else did I miss?"
That's when Kylie Koopa stopped eavesdropping on Mario and crew from her top secret secluded... bush. The water tower area was sort of her hideout before the pipe issue. Now it was too wet to be of use and it was getting late and there were little to no lamp posts for her to see her strictly handwritten notes, never getting big into the digital thing. 'Prince Ludwig visits Toad Town' was a head line cooked up, and ignored her phone for some time before finally checking. She had a cryptic message to meet in the moo moo field..
"Babe. Aren't ya happy to see me?" He smirked.
Kylie almost turned around and left without a word but something in his tone convinced her otherwise. "I didn't need your help, Mitch."
"Any word on Sarasaland?"
She put a hand on her hip. "I was busy dealing with local stuff. But no."
"You needed my help," the toad chuckled. He rolled his wheelchair away in a random direction, at least to her.
Kylie followed. "How did you even get here?! Important things are happening and I'm missing it because of you."
"Sorry for making you miss Mario unclog toilets," He joked before stopping in the middle of the field. "Boo, why are you hiding?"
At his command, a boo diddly appeared before them with rosy cheeks. "Just thinking... I was gonna meet Luigi, but- then I screwed up- And he was talking and I was afraid he'd found out that I… D-don't tell Luigi I'm here!"
"You'll pull through when it's your time. Scram, kid."
Kylie blocked the toad's way before he could move on. "I ain't heard an answer to what you're doing yet."
He looked her in the eyes. "Oh me? Something dangerous, maybe impertinent but needs to be done. I'll probably get hurt again too. My usual style."
She breathed out slowly. "..And that's the problem, brother. When Jelectro was playing games with me I was madder than a red chomp but then I found out what happened was because you put yourself on the line for me. You're like that snapping Venus Firetrap that pops up every summer or the red peppers that Club 64 always put in my sandwiches by mistake. I don't like em at times but I'd be incomplete without em. Same with you. I can't lose ya, Mitch! Whatever's going on is crazy, brother. Feel it in my bones."
"You right, babe," he started gently before easing back to his typical darker tone. "I just hoped you'd wheel me to the top of Mt. Rugged for my research topic. Nothing too strange, I promise. I think you'll like it more than me even."
Kylie fought against the one tear threatening to roll down her face. "Alright, sucker. You get five minutes at the top and then it's back to you know, the ground where normal people like to be, even if I have to drag ya."
Up the winding path they went as it approached evening time as the sky went from blue to orange red. After the trek and with the assistance of some elevators, they were at the flat top of the mountain and could see the landscape below.
"Happy?" She panted.
Mitch rolled a little farther towards the East with his eyes closed. Kylie could then feel a sort of energy in the air and knew exactly what he was doing. He'd done such a thing to solve the mystery of the mystery boxes when they were still dating in college. She dove down as a sound boomed very loudly.
"YOUR MEDDLING IS FOOLISH, MORTAL."
An invisible force knocked them both back, tumbling many times across brambles and pebbles. It was a looooong way down, Kylie tucked in her shell could have taken a power nap it seemed in the time it took to stop near little drainage pit at the bottom. Adrenaline pumping she saw the outline in the dark of a wheelchair bent in half with a body sprawled face down next to it.
Mitch groaned when she frantically turned him over. "I'm o-okay, babe."
"What's that red… all over you?" Kylie became breathless. Her hands from touching him were slimy and darker.
"Like I said I'm okay," he answered.
...On the other side of the globe General Ming had done every unimportant activity he could to pass time. The missing card key would on intrude his thoughts once or twice while dusting Daisy's sports trophies or organizing the guest sheets but it was never a priority until work was finished and he was bored. Finally he risked going outside to check their weapons bunker a short walk from the castle when something sidetracked him, dark cloud like smoke right over the old crumbling temple. He'd never worshiped there and didn't think anyone had in a long time, yet someone had the audacity of burn something there and likely get him blamed? Not on his watch!
He marched up the stairs where moss and smooth stone intertwined then in between stone columns where there was the center roofless opening. He smelt no smoke and heard no crackling as he got closer to the swirling formation in sky.
Ming froze. General Sǐwáng was at the eye of the vortex above, a bombshell koopa with a monocle and a dark goatee in a Victorian suit. The rocketon had a few seconds to think that this was an ambassador and that he was making a bad first impression before he was struck with a bolt of lightning. Ming fell out cold.
General Sǐwáng leisurely stepped up the secretary with a walking stick. "Jolly good. I was looking for this!" he said in a deep but posh and decidedly English tone. He pocked gladly the key to the missile launchers in the weapons bunker.
Ludwig had hummed Reprisal in A minor from start to finish for the second time, which meant he'd been locked up in Southern Mushroom Kingdom for hours given how long his piece was. He wasn't being taken seriously and he was seething when the crack of light grew from the closed cell door. It was Mario.
"Turns out you're promoted, koopa! Come on!"
Ludwig was dragged outside and to a barn of all places. This wasn't just any agricultural building because this one glowed green.
To be continued..
Created: 7/9/19, 7/10, 7/11, 7/12, 7/15, 7/17, 7/18, 7/22, 7/23, 7/26, 7/29, 7/31
8/1, 8/4, 8/22, 8/23, 9/1, 9/2, 9/15, 9/30, 10/1, 10/2, 10/3