Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2 (Redux)
The Missing Piece (Chapter 15)
Disclaimer: Mario and co belong to Nintendo
Author note: Newly edited to reflect my intended vision more
"Mario Mario, I will tolerate your bullheadedness no longer!" Ludwig refused to budge just outside the barn door, the first time they'd stopped scuttling through village. "Have you forgotten all I have said? Now the sun has nearly set. I regret pleading my case to you for I could have ventured across two kingdoms by now."
Mario placed one hand on the door. "Sure you would have, or maybe you would have been arrested immediately just like you were for being a subject of Bowser," he replied exasperatedly.
Ludwig seemed as though he was about to strangle him but he wisely reconsidered at the last moment. "You. Do. Not. Get it! I would not deceive, the Mushroom Flu plot bringing us to this present moment involved no deception. I would not be so foolish as to detach myself from my family and my support and tread weaponless if my hands were laced with nasty tricks. Everyone I care about is on the line here!"
Mario kept facing the door. "You poisoned sodas that innocent people drank had your Zoo Diddley freak pulling pranks no one found funny."
"-Well, that's not deception that's called being a villain.. And Zoo paid the price for his questionably comedic contributions, undeservedly by the dark star that spawned. -The one I spawned," Ludwig admitted candidly, his voice missing the boom it normally had. Then a dark wave came over his features and his gaze frosted over. "-Mario, fine. Fine. You've forced my hand. Keep me imprisoned if you want. If the Dark Star targeted Sam and Slam thousands of miles away it will inevitably follow me. Right. Here! I will go down and so will you."
The plumber whipped his direction in a daze. He didn't know what to call the emotion that what crashed over his head then. His stomach, full from the southern dinner he'd enjoyed an hour ago dared to leave him as quickly as it went down. He settled one moment longer to rid himself of the palpitations. He had to do better than this. "I wasn't trying to be heartless just... we had to focus on the sick down here and... I sorta... shoved the Bowser thing aside very temporarily. You know. Priorities."
The koopaling's eyebrows rose then dropped then settled in-between. "..So you really cured it? How? I mean I am impressed but-"
"We had some smart folks from out of town people figure it out along with some notes from Dr. Mario. You might know about it. Luigi managed to successfully infiltrate your camp and beat your solders all up," Mario attempted to boast. It came out more shakily than he wanted. "In fact I was taking you here because we need your koopa scales as part of the ingredient."
Ludwig seemed to retreat within himself. "So ein Mist. But.. very well," he answered simply.
He stepped inside on his on volition where his nose was bluntly impacted by the smell of, well, a barn. What did he expect? Not the additional sight of a mad laboratory. Not the leading members of the Special World Hospital running such either. Ludwig on occasion attended their workshops located all the way near Star Road. As they refused repeatedly, even with enticement of ludicrous amounts of gold coins, to duplicate Dr. Prof. Koopa's teleportation potion Bowser made famous in Super Mario 64, his feelings were quite lukewarm and not just because of the over inflated travel costs.
Prof. X-Naut blocked his path. "Ludwig Von Koopa? Ha. I knew you were behind this with your unprecedented ability to reverse engineer virus samples for evil!"
Amused, Ludwig decked the smaller man then stepped over the grumbling body. He was just the worst to listen to during those workshops.. "I reverse engineered nothing this time, Morris. What I needed to do was plainly written out." The other two doctors, Dr. Topper and Dr. Goom he recognized in passing but did not particularly adore. Next he knew his scaly right hand was in the grasp of the last doctor, Dr. Toad. In the same age range, they got along even off campus and very rarely at hobby shops featuring tabletop war strategy games. The sight of someone that he didn't have animosity for made his tensed features melt.
"We appreciate your cooperation, Ludwig. We will make sure you're much less uncomfortable than we keep our patients usually."
Brain working at the speed of light, Ludwig bent down to the toad and lowered his voice. "Help Drew. I'm being held hostage!" His heart sank when he remembered something and perfectly predicted the toad doctors' next line.
"Ludwig. That's exactly our style. Someone get the restraints," Dr. Toad replied.
"Plumber. I've giving you a surprise book report. Chin up!" Before Ludwig was tackled down and tied to a table where horrors would unfold, he tossed his Ex spatio obiecti specialem book to Mario guarding the door. Mario received a dusty old book in his face. He picked it up and turned to a page dogeared just for him where were was a passage:
'Star beings mold the world with wonderful chaotic purpose or wonderfully without perceptible purpose. Dark Stars hold similar power and, aware of the greater forces, have been recorded as doing the same for their own sinister motivations..'
One island of a tropical hemisphere called Water Land glowed orange in the night from hundreds of burning palm branches, each individually engulfed in time for Bowser and Peach's wedding. The bride and groom stood on a sand mound with accessories of colorful flower necklaces and the remaining Koopa Troop were the audience. Peach faced Bowser and no one at all at the same time, disassociating herself. This just couldn't be happening. Bowser had never gotten so far before, so close to winning. She had nothing left but to keep wishing fervently for something, anything, to end the nightmare.
"Finally I can see!" Kamek received a silver electronic torch from Iggy. Its blue beam when switched on illuminated their entire vicinity awesomely, swallowing up the amber lighting and assaulting many eyeballs. Peach now had to add blindness to her current predicament.
"This device is splendid, Lord Bowser. I had a vision of something this amazing. Or maybe it was an as seen on TV commercial-"
Bowser shielded his face with one hand. "-Old man, are you alright? Calm down, shine that stupid light the other way, and start the ceremony!"
Kamek jut the Kingly Law book out. "Do you take Princess Peach as your- Ah, I forgot something. Any objections? Speak now or forever hold your peace."
Steam shot out of Bowser's nose. "I don't care what any of you think!"
"I have objections anyway, you brute!"
Bowser's teeth grind against each other, inclined to snatch Toadsworth right out of the audience and pulverize him.
Someone unexpected rose up, Morton. "King Dad, I request to object! I know you tried to abate me this morning but I can not let it go, drop it, or forget it. We should be using this time to get to the other side of the globe, vacate, leave the premises just like Zheng Koopa does in my book!"
Lemmy glanced over his siblings in disappointment. "Not again..."
Roy stood arms were crossed while he stood the edge of the front row with the standoffish demeanor he'd had all day until then when Morton's grating speech made something click. "Alright! I agree with 'em. I'm missing home real bad, okay? I'm tired of running all over da place and I miss all my old Koopa Ball buddies in Dark Land. I'm sick of waitin' for whatever else is gonna go wrong!"
"You knooow, at least we should have set up somewhere else though," Wendy mentioned. Lemmy didn't detect her feigning anything this time. "This is the blandest island and the pictures are going to be fug! So yeah, like, let's reschedule."
Iggy interest was piqued at the dissension arising. Since that evening he'd made a huge accomplishment and for the first time ever not babbled about it immediately. He held his tongue however because it just wouldn't be him if he didn't show it off with bang.
"We'll just be picked off like fly guys!" one mook in the crowd went and got many agreements.
"YOU'RE ALL RUINING MY WEDDING! AGAIN!" Bowser screamed, veins popping. "Is there really a reason why I should not marry Peach?! Right! There isn't!" In rapid stomp mode many torches fell over and he leveled the sand props.
"Bowser, you forgot about the most important objection!" Peach yelled over the commotion.
Bowser looked her in the eyes intensely, shaking in irritation. "What what what?!" he cried.
"Mine. If you really care for me, you know why." She boldly spun on her heels and walked to the shore alone, leaving a vacuum in the area. Bowser witnessed her strutting farther way, immobilized by some abhorrent part of him that was intent to remind that he would always be a loser, the fifth wheel between Peach and-
"Mario.." Bowser's bitter anger became a deep sadness. He could handle other moods. Being irate all of the time? His default. Being happy? What was that? Being hungry? That was his favorite. But sadness? It froze him in time. He hardly heard his children's ruckus and the disbanding crowd.
"King Dad, don't worry! Everyone is going to apologize and then we'll get Peach back!" Lemmy sputtered. He tugged on some of his siblings.
Wendy's defiance dissolved as quickly as it arose. "Oh we HAVE to make this up to daddy or we'll be ultra grounded."
A ways off facing the water, Peach saw.. a light? Attracted by the torch Kamek had shining far up into the sky and reflecting back on the clouds was an unmarked white boat sailing. With an enticing scent it pulled up the short island dock.
Sentry 11 lurking in the shadows lowered his binoculars. "Boss! Food catering's here!"
"Who wants those hot wings?!" A speaker announced from inside the motor craft. Dozens of the Koopa Troopa frantically waded over to the boat and passed Peach, stepping over toes, to where an unseen person loaded up their plates, hands, napkins, empty shells, whatever, with wings, drumsticks, ribs, and barbecue.
An ice cold blue can labeled '3 Moons' materialized in Bowser's hand.
"It's on the House. Chug it, dad!" Larry winked just before Roy tackled him and Lemmy rushed over.
"That wasn't the plan! King Dad, read the label!"
Bowser crushed the already empty can, head beginning to spin. "Three.. MOONs! Duh!... Urp. Excuse me… 100% alcohol. 100% sugaarr...!" His three children kept drifting away but in actuality he was woozily wandering around and stumbled into Peach at the shore. With his blurry vision all he made out was the red and blue of her flower necklace. It made him feel oddly placated. "Marrrio.. you're looking... hot!"
Peach side stepped when he lunged for a kiss. Bowser tumbled forward and off the pier into the water. Peach slung off her high heels and sprinted down the dock. She hurled herself onboard into the boat. The interior was filled of high-tech radars, radios, and mounted weapons. A very young red capped toad at the controls spun his chair around. He was dressed in all black gear like a spy. Without a word passing between them he took action. Their ship drifted away from Bowser Island as Peach remembered something missing, as essential as a hand or foot. Toadsworth. Would he understand the make or break decision? Could they attempt to return? She dared to look back out to the sea and noted dreadfully that they definitely couldn't return.
Back on the island, "Heck yeah, I PUNKED all y'all!" Larry yelled at his siblings surrounding him with angry faces. Everyone could see the ship with the princess in it becoming smaller on the horizon.
"Speaking of punks, that's what you are," Lemmy growled. "We need to fish King Dad up and get Peach back. Now everyone!"
Lemmy impatiently spun to who it was. He found his best friend, his 'twin' giving him a look that made him feel like he was four inches tall rather than four feet. That stabbed him. It was time for another family meeting and Lemmy would be in the hot seat. It took long enough.
"Behold my Way Awesome Intelligent Futuristic Utility!" Iggy held out in front of their faces the completed pocket watch.
"...You were making a W.A.I.F.U?" coughed Larry, still being pinned to the ground by Roy.
Iggy laughed sheepishly. "Oh.. maybe that was a bad name. How about 'Wacky Watch'? This is gonna totally take us back before the disasters we caused."
"We caused what?" Wendy asked.
"Everything," Lemmy confessed. "And I've lied to you all about it-"
A roar erupted from Roy. "I knew it pipsqueak! Git over here!"
Roy dove after Lemmy who scurried away in panic. Wendy chased him and Morton chased her and they ruined the barbeque meals of others by flinging sand wherever they ran. Consequently disgruntled members of the Koopa Troop also pursued them and Bowser meanwhile was still under water as boss bass bait. Iggy didn't plan a hail mary test run but he had no other choice as a pioneer of a new technology. The next level of the next level and what records there were on it were obfuscated by the one time it was pursued and banned, questionable deep web torrents the only evidence of it existing to most. Iggy wasn't most however, because they used to have proof of this technology in the basement of Bowser Castle and he had another piece of proof in his palms.
Iggy wound up the crown and let it go. Boing! Spring retention slung the hands backwards, stopping time in their immediate proximity for ten seconds before it ran out of power and world flowed again. It was a fail and the disturbance created a wave of water to crash against the shore. Iggy took in a gulp of air while he could and thanked himself for making the watch water resistant.
By then Larry had hustled to the other half of the island when two mooks appeared in his path, a koopatrol and toad.
"Larry, sir! I request you stop!"
Larry punched Tanner, bruising his fist instead. "Oww! Stupid little.." He tried to tackle but Tanner didn't bulge either. Instead he got punched in the gut, knocking the wind from him and he fell back.
"You're a traitor so back up," Emery warned as steady as any Koopa Troop would.
Larry rose up and narrowed his eyes. "That's funny from you, toady. You're a rat to Peach."
The girl looked at him funny and then smiled. "I would think about that sometimes but then I realized, no I wasn't betraying the princess because I was ever really on her side."
"Good point, toady. Guess I was never really on mine either..."
Larry evaded them through shallow water onto the next connected island where it was pitch black, the strange feeling that he was doing something 'good' feeding strength into him like a super charged battery. On reaching a new area he trampled fresh vegetation and island flowers. There was another dock and there was something at it, a large and long canoe that could fit a lot of people. He raced down the dock and grabbed the edge, not believing it was real. Climbing onboard he severed the rope keeping it tethered to the dock and drifted away, grabbing an oar or two to get further into water. He paddled around for a while until he bumped something. He almost wet himself thinking he was going to sink already but it was just his father floating around half dazed. All over again he was terrified when he pulled his father on the legendary canoe. Bowser was out of it so he wasn't in danger at the moment but he could hear many near by that were. The island the wedding was to take place on had flooded by some event Larry missed and bodies were flailing about, including very familiar ones. Worse yet, though it was just a clear starry night, there was thunder crackling and a breeze picking up. Now what would Larry do? He had the perfect getaway a professional trickster like he aspired to be- sometimes, could wish for. Or would he instead listen to that fresh new good guy voice in him?
Mario caused such a stir in the area he had to confirm he didn't accidentally announce a new game. In spite of the hours growing later the South was hectic. Mario wondered if they'd be as enthused if they knew of the countless translucent blue scales they had to scrap off of from Ludwig's back. Mario kept Ludwig's involvement secret from everyone, even his brother. He simply told his friends that he imported some at the last minute and the questioning stopped. Now the work was complete and Sarasaland's young ruler was first to be cured. Daisy was laid into an invention designed to emit a vapor on the subject. Mario guarded the door again and only let a few in to watch this private event, yet he suspected Buckenberry of live-streaming it anyway. Mario just let that go.
"If this crazy thing launches into space or explodes, I'm gonna get you," Luigi threatened.
Prof. X-Naut calmed him with a thumbs up. There was a pop then a bang as the inside of the chamber got cloudier. After a few agonizing seconds the doors were kicked open from the inside.
"Did you smoke bomb my bedroom? Again?" Daisy wailed, angrily flinging on to Luigi, the nearest person, and rolling together to the ground.
"Daisy, you're okay!" he screamed back, embracing her as the few there, Mario, Yoshi, Buckenberry, and Jr. Troopa gathered around.
Tousled but lively she said, "W-where am I? What happened to the tennis game?"
Toad Toad was next, wheeled inside the chambers to get his steam treatment. Peach's toad secretary stumbled right back out, fanning away the smoke.
"Smoke? Who burnt that pizza, homeboys? We won the game, right?"
More were cured one after the other. Those in coma like states would leave the machine walking and talking with no seriously ill effects other than losing track of the last three days.
"This is almost going too well.." Dr. Toad whispered to his crew. "Two days here and we didn't have any health inspectors called on us. -And we didn't even have the correct paper work so it would have been justified for once.."
"Drew," Dr. Topper cut in. Inwardly he'd perseverate that long ago as the puzzle specialist. It was the missing piece, one of several. Why was Dr. Toadley so adamant they rush down? Why was Ludwig around? Why was Mario on edge? "We've worked our butts off to help these guys. Celebrate."
Dr. Goom in a rare moment nodded in agreement and appeared pleasant for a shady goomba. "At last a favorable report might be obtained for our Special World Hospital."
"Ah you think? Even after that controversial surgery on Tubba Blubba?" Prof. X-Naut thought nostalgically.
"...Morris you were the one who screwed that up by swapping the wrong heart!... And don't say that too loud!" Dr. Toad hissed.
"Hate to interrupt over there, but I think we're done doctors." Mario waved from the other side of the lab. All of the sick patients were taken care of and sent to the sea of spectators collecting their loved ones. The news was already on the Toad Town message boards, Buckenberry told Mario. Wow these kids were quick at finding out this stuff, the plumber thought. He held up a select few, Luigi, Yoshi, Captain Toad, and rabid fan Buckenberry (actually uninvited) to divert to a quiet corn field. Quickly he regretted it. The atmosphere was rendered spooky by the scenery and while it did fit with what he had to tell them, he didn't want to send preemptive shivers.
Luigi stepped forward. "Bro, what is going on? You've been sorta.. since you said that package with the scales arrived.."
Mario let his brother approach to his side while he stiffened his posture. "There was something about that package."
"It got damaged in shipping? I told you to always pay the few coins more for insurance, especially the way Parakarry rushes," Yoshi lectured in an airy coy way.
It brought a smile to Mario's face. That was such a Yoshi reply. "No, not that. They came from Ludwig von Koopa. I took him out of jail for this and as recourse for what he had to suffer through I didn't lock him back up. In fact he told me he'd hang out right about here."
Mario whistled. Ludwig very slowly, movement hindered by the bandages all over his back, emerged from a row of the produce with a zombie like gait. As he inched closer grimacing, Luigi, Yoshi, and Buckenberry had an expression as though he was the Underchomp seeking to take away all of their extra lives. The Captain on the other hand...
"Golly! A Koopaling!"
Ludwig muttered curses against Mario and scuttled back where he'd came. Disabled for the sake of science, the koopaling found himself struggling gravely in a corn maze that thwarted his perfect night vision. He smacked against dead end after dead end. A light switched on and he could see his tall silhouette before his path. He faced the light.
Captain Toad then switched his headlamp on a lower setting. "Since we have time to talk, let's.
"Of what, little toad?"
"It's Captain Toad and it's regarding your special objects lexicon, the book you let Mr. Mario barrow. I had Hint Toad send me a complete PDF for my own enjoyment and I was reading it for the last hour. Very interesting."
A part of Ludwig was intrigued of what could be an bright conversation with the parvenu of Mario and company. "Did you understand what you read?" he began to test the waters.
"Of course. I graduated Mushroom College."
"-So did Toadette and she is known as the only person, other than Mario, daft enough to think she can cheat the lottery. But if you in fact understand the section about stars and how a particularly wrathful one has my family in its vise, then you should understand that it would be advantageous to let me escape, no?"
He watched as The Captain pulled something from a tool belt. Ludwig caught briefly the moonlight glint off of a shiny blade. His mouth went dry as the toad finally spoke.
"Mr. Koopa, let me quiz you if you don't mind and since you question my comprehension. The star section states this: 'Ownership can pass on through physical possession or..' What? Complete the sentence."
Frazzled, Ludwig could only gawk. He'd read the star chapter Friday when his brain was scrambled. So no problem, the book had been with him Saturday when he left to Poshley Heights and had a boring over night train ride... Of course he did not touch the book the entire time, dreading to do so. But he had Sunday today where he had many moments of solitude being apprehended and all of which... he also did not refresh himself for the same reasons and in fact thrusted it the book and the responsibility of it to Mario hours ago.
Something moved so fast it was a blur. Ludwig was too slow to resist the attack. He felt sting on his left arm and discovered a thin red line running down it from the cut. He glared dangerously at The Captain.
"Know that you know I'm serious, Mr. Koopa-"
"Cease this game," Ludwig growled, clinching his arm. He was fed up of needing to plead his humanity to others, first the Mushroom King and then Mario and now this despicable toad pest. Tired of having to explain that he had feelings and he wasn't the dirt under their feet because he was a Bowser baddie. So he didn't try. In a way now, masking it under indifference, he was quizzing the Captain too, waiting to see if he would understand that on his own. "What is your aim here... Captain?"
"Very good Mr. Koopa, but you are more clever than this. 'Ownership can pass on through physical possession ooooor'..."
"Stop I say! I do not know! I do not- Oww, bastard!" Ludwig was sliced again, fresh pain rippling through his opposite arm. He squeezed his eyes shut, holding his forehead.
"-Eldstar, please... Why do I keep meeting the insane ones?"
The Captain gave a him quizzical expression, first piece of evidence he wasn't a sadistic smiling android. "You don't hear that expression from many koopas, let alone a koopaling. Do not tell me you lean progressive.. as opposed to static level design."
The Captain strapped away the knife, trading it for his more signature pickaxe, sharp edges caked with grass curiously. "The answer was 'death'. Death was the alternate condition to rid oneself of any attachment, positive or negative, to the stars. Perhaps it could have been the answer for you too but, I should run the idea through Mario just in case.. Enjoy the rest of your stay in the field, Mr. Koopa. Follow the trail I made out."
One eye of Ludwig opened and the toad was deserting him. They'd passed each others tests it seemed and he wasn't sure if laughing or crying was more appropriate. He did both as a loud engine noise kicked up not far way.
Just on the other side of the same field, "-And did I say we were saints? We did our job here, now farewell." Dr. Toad told Jr. Troopa, exiting the gates for the last time and ending the last argument that would go on between the two. Jr. Troopa made it no secret he didn't like Drew Toad, the esteemed big headed (to him) president of a pretentious hospital overshadowing him, and Junior ensured everyone knew it. However throwing all of his energy into Dr. Toad and his crew and getting little response back had drained him bizarrely. He didn't know what was going on with him.
"Hey, look at me," Dr. Toad said, stopping just as the last of their things were being packed up. Long propellers ahead were rapidly spinning up, flatting out corn in the maze and blowing his oversized lab jacket.
Jr. Troopa gave a curt nod and held on to his cowboy hat. "Yep, partner?"
"Ease it down some," Dr. Toad began more casual than usual. "It's wonderful that you take charge here so young, I wish I had associate's that worked as hard as you, no seriously- but you.. how to put it? You are to your job like.. a clingy jealous ex-partner and those are the worst. I was once one."
Jr. Troopa blinked at him, astonished.
"Just saying, Junior. You will learn."
Jr. Troopa felt incredibly immature as the helicopter took flight and became invisible against the black sky. Still reflecting he discovered someone had chopped down corn and made a trail on the property. Following the spidery path, there was a humming koopaling on it! He observed Ludwig, listening to the strange but intricate tune coming from him and felt pity. In addition to the scales Ludwig sacrificed he was now bleeding from some other altercation and hobbling along. He had to help him.
"So yeah, some 'historian' came to my castle one day and said he did free metal detecting crap. He picked up something in my backyard and I was like, yeah see what it is. That was a few weeks ago. Everyone I asked to help agreed at first but then like, dawg, they when treasure crazy over it, digging and digging!" Daisy explained, seated on the bed and hugged up in covers even though the ambient was warm in Mario's rented room.
Like most others just cured, she wasn't perfect. She continued, "I felt so bad because they just went bonkers. I thought they'd dig through the planet until they stopped at a tomb. It took dynamite to blast the sucker open and what was inside vanished out of thin air. It was hard to see before going poof but I think it was an old rusty bell.."
Mario nodded. "I think our toads saw that item in the hands of Zoo Diddley. Yeah, he had that bell." He stood at the door while Luigi, Yoshi, and Toad gravitated towards the open window near the mounted wagon wheel. "It gets worse, a mystery general of yours thought my line was Bowser."
Daisy slapped her head lightly. "That's another crazy thang. He invited himself around but I couldn't deal it because the tennis game was coming up and-"
Mario leaned against the doorway arms folded, head raised to the ceiling. "I know I'm culpable for scheduling that game. I'm sorry for not considering others like I should have." He earnestly faced them again. "All I cared about was getting back at Bowser, making you collateral damage. Toad and Daisy you suffered, the Mushroom Kingdom lost their princess, and Yoshi, I was the nail in the coffin for your home life-" He paused and eyed his younger brother. "Actually Luigi, I didn't wrong you did I?"
"You kicked me from your tennis team for Bowser, remember?" Luigi smiled. "But I didn't want to play anyway and you more than made up for it. Now big bro, what was that about with Ludwig again? Why is he still roaming free?"
Mario was about to explain when someone went 'Excuse me' behind his back. He stepped aside to let Captain Toad enter the room and stand in the corner adjacent to the door and opposite from the rest.
"What with Ludwig, homeboy?" Toad begged.
Mario cleared his throat and forced a positive look. "Promise me no heart attacks, remember the special doctors just left tonight...Okay enough stalling. All of these weird events since Friday connect. Zoo's bell ruined Peach's Castle and later that night birthed a Dark Star that wants to wipe out everyone that had a hand in spawning it. That means Bowser and his underlings AND anyone else that's unfortunately in the way. This can include our princess in his clutches. We need to help Ludwig out by reaching Bowser as soon as we can even if that means gunning after Peach tonight! If we don't something terrible might happen to him yet again and we could even lose Peach." And he didn't care to lose Bowser either he added in his mind.
"He told you that and you believe him?" Yoshi questioned, inching closer.
Mario was prepared for uphill battle of convincing. "Yes."
Luigi grabbed his brother's shoulder. "Then... I believe you bro. We saw the wasteland Dark Land and Sky Land became and even Bowser's idiocy wouldn't be able to do that. The Captain can back me up."
Captain Toad nodded, giving Luigi a look of comradery.
"Then let's find the koopaling, where ever he is," Yoshi said. "And work on a plan."
"What about me? I gotta make sure my home hasn't been buried by my own servants," Daisy interjected.
"No problem on that either." Luigi darted to her bed and sat on it, beaming with an ideal. "The rest of you go ahead. Daisy can use my phone to call home. I always have tons of unused minutes."
The princess blushed while the others scampered out. "Weegee, dawg, you're the best." She hugged him and then dialed her castle's front desk phone. Both of them leaned over the bright screen while it rung. Alone in the room the moment was surprisingly intimate, if only they had time to enjoy it. "Hi, this is your Princess Daisy?"
"Oh, princess!?" the unfamiliar lady on the other end exclaimed. "I'm Nass your new in house nurse and assistant."
Daisy rolled her eyes. One would think she left the doors of her castle wide open with how many unwanted guests it was attracting these days. Actually maybe she did do that sometimes- "Just let me speak to whoever's your superior..."
The nurse switched the line. "HELLO? ARE YOU BACK FROM VACATION SO SOON, PRINCESS?" the English voice bellowed.
Daisy gasped. She knew this voice. It was the historian, but apparently now the new general as well?
"YOUR AFFAIRS HERE ARE AS SMOOTH AS A WELL OILED MACHINE. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THAT."
Daisy flushed angrily. "What the heck is this? First you make me destroy my own backyard, now you pretend to be a general of my land? Where is Ming? I'll only trust him at this point. Straight up. If fact slick, I don't care how crappy I feel! I'm about to fix a flight home right now and kick you out personally. How about that?"
"HAHAHAHAHA. LET US SEE THEN MORTAL. TA TA."
Luigi's phone laying on the bed violently emitted a black mist from the speaker wholes. They jumped off the bed as it sizzled and the plastic melted into a charred lump burning through the mattress and even into the wood flooring. A fire alarm blared. Daisy clung to Luigi, wrapping her arms around his back and watching over his shoulder.
"Oh gods! Sorry Luigi did I hit a wrong button or?.. I hope your private pictures of tropical beaches were.. 'backed up in the clouds'? Whatever that means."
Luigi turned around pulled her close comfortingly, drawing them away from the mess. He was shaking too. "I'm just glad you're okay. What if whatever this was is connected to that Dark Star? We have to find everyone.. And apologize to the room service. "
Kylie Koopa poked her head in Mario's room. "The scoop's just in! Oh, thought Mario was here. Mitch and I found out that the dark star has a buddy. Where'd Mario go?"
"It won't take long for me to find him. We're 'connected' like that. You have a ride for us?" Luigi asked.
Kylie winked. "Of course we can bust a move, brother. Here's the ride."
Luigi and Daisy left Mario's room to find the ride, a green capped toad in a mangled up wheel chair.
Mitch gave them a side glance. "That's the ride rather, dudes." He was pointing to something a step up. A golf kart they'd snuck indoors somehow. With staff showing up to investigate the smoke, it was a good choice actually.
Mario ducked under the hanging model airplanes that littered Jr. Troopa's private office. He didn't know the kid was even into that. More power to him. Ludwig reclined in a cozy chair, covered in more bandages than they'd last seen him. A cold glass of water sat on the nearest table and next to a bottle of heavy dose aspirin. They spoke for a moment.
"-So the lexicon. I faced my fears and refamiliarized myself," Ludwig continued explaining, that part dedicated to Captain Toad as only he knew, for he chose to not mention their corn field encounter nor explain the degradation of his health. "There are star endued objects that can assist in this incorporeal warfare we find ourselves in. Who is in possession of such? Do we know?"
"Peach!" Buckenberry said. "Saturday when we were cleaning up the castle, Gold told Toadette to salvage a jewel of hers. Today we put it in storage down here.
Mario shook his head in amusement. Cool Blue had again wedged into their group at some point but for once it was appreciated.
A spark appeared behind deep blue eyes. "Then this is not unfeasible after all!" Ludwig strained to lean up. "Let's find Vater."
Mario gently eased him back. "We will, Ludwig. You shouldn't try to make the trip."
Ludwig frowned in betrayal. "After the trails I endured to place myself here.. I even gave up my blasted scales to cure you meddling fiends-"
"-We know. And we thank you for it dearly. You aren't in bad shape for any old reason, it's because you were selfless, even more than I should have been. You told us what we needed to do even, because you were the only one who could see the big picture. You aren't a failure to sit this out, general. You're not. I learned that not long ago."
Mario held out his hand and hoped for a truce. He received a look he couldn't ascertain from Ludwig before his hand was shaken back.
Everyone regathered outside, including Luigi and Daisy that informed them that a dark star possessed phone tried to kill them and Kylie and Mitch who warned that he shouldn't attempt to meddle with the jewel on his own. Mario visited a store building that had been given to them housing random things from the toads for convenience, clothes, valuables from the castle, some powerup items, the green Bowser racket Luigi added there, and the jewel in the shoe box. Holding the pink hued diamond shaped gem felt refreshing in his hands yet uneasy. Mario quickly dropped it back into the box as something channeled through him only for a second.
What he saw scared him deathly.
The next wave hit the boat so hard, Peach would have flipped out was she not already buried under all of the equipment getting shook off their mounts and toppling over her. Agent Toad, or Sonny as he casually introduced himself, fought to keep them on top of the waves. The down pour brought to mind standing under a waterfall and she couldn't discern a direction they were trudging, only a light source behind thickened fog. Another splash shook her up again, bringing to the top of the pile a warp whistle. Immediately she blew the thing, but water only shot out of it like a slippy straw with no noise.
"Mayday!" Agent Toad yelled over the winds of the typhoon. He donned complete scuba gear in flash. "Mmm mm mm mm?" He lifted the snorkel up. "Sorry. Do you think you could swim to the nearest continent from here? No? I'll do what I can but uh.. I'm kind of new on the job and-"
There was another crash as the object following them with the light rammed them. Hull breached by the large canoe, the their spy boat fell apart in seconds. Peach grasped on to a paddle. It lifted her up and onboard to a sight worse than the storm.
"I found the princess!" Lemmy and a few others hurried to get the drenched and shivering princess and onboard. Iggy's flashlight was the only light in the night storm. In her extreme fatigue she couldn't make out any faces and fell unconscious.
"Row row row," koopas repeated, a drilled in habit if they didn't want fire breath, even doing so when their king wasn't actually conscious to force them to do anything. Bowser was just as motionless as Princess Peach as the legendary Water Land canoe rocked with the waves. None of the koopalings were making eye contact with each other and trying to stay alive remained a good excuse to not talk about much either.
Lemmy clambered to the edge of the bow. He caught one glimpse of land before getting pummeled by a wave with the force of K64 running late. He fell back into the puddle in the middle of the boat, continually growing in size as they took on more water. Then facing upwards into the sky, Lemmy spotted with each flash of lightning a swirling vortex in the rain clouds. "Over there!"
Kamek nodded, clinging to the edge for support with hood far down over his head, and directed a new direction. Suddenly Wendy O. the self proclaimed queen of the ocean tossed a sparkling gold ring in the water from the edge. For a moment the storm began to calm down, the waves moving more gently.
"To told you all I had this under control," she said.
A steady but comparatively soothing rain pattered the boat. Larry grumbled something then. Toadsworth was next to him in the same position, but dissonantly relieved that the princess had survived shipwreck. Her wellbeing was all he hoped for anymore. Kammy leaned over the edge of the ship and mentioned seeing something just like time Bowser's shower got clogged. Lemmy got to the look out position again to investigate.
All one hundred of the Koopa Troop braced themselves as the strong outer currant knocked the ship to its side, ejecting many into the water. The boat spun around until in the center of the eye it snapped in half. All remaining were dragged down by the tidal currents, unable to battle against it. Lemmy was a strong swimmer which he for once in his life hated. He witnessed himself become the last man above the water. He vowed if he survived he would never lie again. Even better he'd fix everything too because he loved everyone and he never meant to hurt them. The time came shortly when his strength ran out. He took deep breath and closed his eyes before the whirlpool devoured him.
"REWARD BESTOWED," boomed a satisfied voice from above.
To be continued..
Author note: No relation to Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever Epilogue 1: The missing piece
Created: 7/22, 7/23, 7/25, 7/26, 7/27, 7/28, 7/29, 7/31, 8/1, 8/11, 8/12, 8/13, 8/14, 8/25, 8/31, 9/2, 9/15, 9/18, 9/23, 10/2, 10/6, 10/7, 10/13
Edit: 12/30/20, 12/31