Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2 (Redux)
A Modest Proposal (Chapter 16)
Disclaimer: Mario and co belong to Nintendo
Author note: Edited to better fit my initial vision.
Yellow orbs hovered in the sky. Luigi rubbed his eyes and yawned- there were street lamps strolling by. He was jittery until moments ago when the grand luxurious interior of the station wagon he was in finally lulled him somewhat. The careful effort by the driver to not hit a single bump on the road likely contributed.
"Hey Stan, don't miss our driveway in the dark. The porch light got blown out by a Bowser goon two weeks ago."
"Of course." The toad pulled onto the curb in front of the Mario Bros home. Luigi was tasked with checking the warp pipe to World 3 for a potential short cut and he grouped himself with Captain Toad successfully, not that there were any competing offers to accompany the only guy around with a decent vehicle. Luigi still wasn't sure why Captain Toad got a cold shoulder from most. It was like he was watching another version of himself back in the days when his world saving track record was modest and he struggled for respect. -Oh, now it clicked why they.. clicked.
"You're welcome to come in," Luigi yelled back over his shoulder, noticing he was alone at his front door. He heard the car cut off as he went in. He nearly tripped over a weight set left by Mario in the dark, stumbled over a table that still had old pizza boxes on it, bumped the dresser full of videogames, and backed into the light switch. It cut on. It settled in how lost he felt. If the Princess were there she'd insist that the 'stars always guided you', an externalizing coping mechanism he was on the fence about. Luigi couldn't say for a certainty if they'd actually have that mythical star protection during this journey, but he could say that sticking to a well thought out plan was the next best thing. The floorboards squeaked as the toad stepped in.
"How do you like us as your new brigade, Stan?" Luigi asked, showing him to the back door.
The Captain chuckled. "I haven't shoved any of you off a cliff yet. Does that answer your question?"
In the backyard were the warp pipes as planted in well cut grass, one area on the property well cared for. The rusty lever for the World 3 pipe wouldn't budge. Had it been that long since they'd visited Water Land? A quick glance at his companion beckoned the help he needed. With their combined effort the lever screeched and reluctantly swung to the left, opening the valve. Right after there was an intense rumble in the ground. On reflex Luigi closed the latch over the opening and weighted it down with his body. While just enough to keep the water from erupting like a geyser, it continually flowed into the yard from open rivet holes.
"Switch with me, Luigi!"
The plumber sprung off just as the toad dove on top of the hatch, swapping places with him.
"This is really bad! I gotta hustle and grab tools to-"
"No.. problem.. I'm good!" Captain Toad grunted.
Luigi sprinted back inside to his basement frantically. He needed the plunger, a snorkel, a water proof flashlight, finally the uber important wrench. He was returning when Mario texted him through Buckenberry's cell 'Where are you?'.
Luigi replied using Mario's phone was barrowing, 'Our backyard is flooding!'
Mario text, 'Forget it. Just come back now. Seriously. Right now.'
Luigi wanted to stomp the phone into the ground, exasperated that Mario was getting his priorities flustered yet again. He dropped his bundle of plumbing the equipment at Captain Toad's water logged boots. " Think you can fix this yourself? Mario needs me now."
Captain Toad seemed astonished but masked it as quick with understanding. "Take my keys, Luigi."
"No Stan I can't do that to you. Mario and I have a bike I can take."
Luigi dashed back upstairs to the bedroom and snagged the keys to the Mach Bike. He walked the obnoxiously loud vehicle from their front yard onto the street, wishing he still had Dr. Richard Sr.'s finely preserved war bike instead of that junk. He cranked it up roughly and tore down the Toad Town streets until they transitioned into South Toad Town streets and finally dirt Southern Mushroom Kingdom trails.
Luigi stalled the engine, whipping around to find his brother running up frantically in the moonlight. "What's going on?" Luigi demanded.
"It's okay if the pipe can't be used. I have the jewel and if we get going now we can be across Desert Land by sunrise."
Luigi rashly pulled Mario aside and debated slapping him. "Since when are we going out there alone? You're just gonna blatantly switch it up at the last minute?"
Mario began pulling him along the road. "Everyone else wants to come but they'll slow us down, Luigi. We can't worry about being nice right now. I can't let the Dark Star do something and take away B-... Peach!"
Luigi grappled him off, now verging on hysterics as well. "And Bowser right? You were gonna say it I could tell! Mario, you're doing it again! You're obsessed with Bowser and it's rearing it's ugly head and it's making all of the good sense I know you have vanish like it does every time!"
It was supposed to be about the princess, the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom and the one they'd pledged to always protect, yet deep down Luigi knew that it wasn't actually. He'd known since the time they arrived in the Mushroom Kingdom and had their first romp against their Darklandian enemies. From the time Mario privately requested for Peach to not cutely kiss him in public and exacerbate rumors that arose under constant scrutiny of citizens that would love to see their princess leader and their famous hero become official. From the time he- the time Mario and Bowser exchanged numbers after the first Mario Party and opened THAT can of worms..
Mario defeatedly held the box out with the jewel. "I know I'm raving like a lunatic but just touch this."
"I have to leave now."
Luigi nodded somberly, unable to not relent. "I...I... Mario I hate you sometimes but.. I understand what's going on now. Let me at least pack something."
The models hanging from Jr. Troopa's office ceiling exhibited care and precision from their shiny hand painted die cast models. Of special interest was the Koopa Doomship, Sky Pop, Koopa Clown Car, and Odyssey peacefully suspended in close proximity that would never occur with the real things. There were also myriads of marshal arts awards hung around the work space. Ludwig was very glad he was on the teenager's good side. He decided to not chance interacting with the robotic assistant at the door, a Mecha-Yoshi with sharp teeth and glowing eyes, and instead stretched his legs outside. Even in extreme discomfort, he would go mad if he didn't. He trampled a lush patch of wild flowers while in a reverie, distracted by the feeling that he was being talked about. It was like a sixth sense that any survivor of Koopa Kollege required to avoid random food poisoning sprees, booby traps, ambushes and the like from other candidates of the doctorate they desired. Cicada like insects screeched from hidden places. They had him surrounded like an invading army and yet he felt utterly isolated even being aware that no one considered him an enemy at the moment. He logged in on Troopa's office computer. He had no responses from his family but knowing them their phones likely died ages ago. He reached out to someone else.
Moments later Toad with a backpack strapped on him jumped over the nearest picket fence and hesitated at the sight of Ludwig waiting on the steps of the office. "Stop playing with me, homeboy. The instant message was from Larry Koopa, but I knew that wasn't right because I keep him as a friend for his hot tracks but we rarely talk. So then I thought maybe is was like a secret admirer under a pseudonym...but no. Wait, unless you-! Please tell me it ain't so!"
Ludwig smiled wryly. "It 'ain't' so, to quote you. I know am quite tired of this nagging feeling boring into my soul, weighing me down like a boulder strapped my body while I drown in my miserable thoughts... By the way you might wonder why I used Larry's Facebook page to message you. It is the only of my household that is not flagged and deactivated by trolls."
Toad kept staring. "Uh... Okay. Why did you want me again, homeboy?"
"Ah hem. The Mushroom Flu comes from a synthetic poison does it not? It was intentionally made and used against us and not a freak accident with wild bad mushrooms," Ludwig declared plainly.
Toad surprised him by coming closer and gently swinging his arm around Ludwig. "I'm Peach's secretary and I'm not supposed to say this but you're right. I never liked the King much back then when I was a young floor scrubber in the castle. I'm glad we have our homegirl Peach now. You know she wouldn't-"
"Oh of course I am aware! She is fair and objective and I would curse Eldstar's name before I ever imply otherwise..." Ludwig caught himself. "I meant- Eldar A. Koopa, Dark Land philosopher and great uncle of mine. Such an insightful mentor he was..."
Toad laughed while coercing Ludwig back indoors with his near super strength. "You don't have to hide anything. Now rest up homeboy. Thanks for everything even if you poisoned me in the first place and I missed a game I'm sure I would have won with Daisy. Sweet dreams."
Ludwig heard a click and darted for the door as quick as he could limp over. He was locked in by Toad. "Curses!" He beat against the door then turned to the robot. "You. Surely you have locksmith capabilities." He vexingly waved fingers in front of it when the red eyes shot a lase beam by activation. The scarlet energy beam bounced all over the room, ricocheting on every shiny toy model or glass award owned by Troopa- of which there were a hundred. Finally it subsided by blasting some of the left wall open. "Curses!" He repeated. So much for Jr. Troopa's good favors.
He plopped back into the computer chair and used Larry's account to message someone else. They arrived even more expediently as evidenced by a wispy sound of air entering the cabin.
"Ahh, sorry sorry!" Boo appeared in a more solid form and shielded their eyes. "I didn't know you weren't dressed!"
Ludwig swiveled around. "I am not unless-" He looked down and his trousers were blasted off at some point, revealing underwear. He wouldn't normally be humanoidly dressed, but without scales he was effectively nude. He covered himself with a cowhide throw. "Apologizes! First of all I admire your wanted poster behind you, less so much how you murdered three of my Koopa Troop.."
Boo shuddered at the WANTED sign for 'TriggerHappy McBoo'. Wearing a ten gallon, the crook was a splitting image of Boo except in the eyes and in the curl of their lips of which it was rather like an entirely different soul. They had no clue they were wanted until then as they'd avoided everyone for hours. "Oh I-I'm not proud of that. I d-don't know how to say it. I lose myself in Booigi, even when my intentions are good."
"Ah, no hard feelings. They were fired by Vater ages ago and just thought they were our spies. I messaged because I knew you to be the least likely to spread rumors and I need assistance fixing this room before I lose it immediately after earning it. How is your house cleaning skills?"
Boo gaped at the damage done to the room.
A mile down at the Southern Hospital major cleanup occurred all over. At the staff's generous estimate one would never know by sunrise all of shenanigans that occurred, not even that defenestration thing. Due to this they asked everyone hanging in the lobby to leave, including Kylie Koopa, Daisy, Agent N, Jelectro, and Mitch Toad. Moments before Kylie was only trying to work out a deal to help out Daisy since Super Spy HQ owned super sonic aircraft. Eventually however she got caught up in the moment when the theories from Mitch began to fly and somehow the conversation shifted to-
Agent N was looking at Kylie and Mitch in particular like they were idiots. "No I will not launch missiles at Sarasaland and use the blast to fill up the hole in her backyard."
"Deal's over, dawg! I'll just fly home in the morning. If you need me you know where I'll be. Peace." Daisy stormed off.
Mitch watched her for a moment. "Thanks Kylie," he grumbled.
"Babe, you brought up the Chinese restaurant thing."
"It was supposed break the ice and be relatable to her! Where's noki?..."
Agent N shed his drill sergeant like disposition. "Jelectro must of gotten into one of those moods. I bet he's in the car."
"...I need to use the restroom, Agent. And the handicap accessible one is far off."
That was Mitch's excuse to get away from the supervising spy captain Kylie recognized. What would be hers?
She kicked Agent N in the chin and then ran for her life.
"Laisse-moi tranquille!" Jelectro exclaimed at his door being yanked open. Slowly slipped out the passenger seat. He'd hidden in the car far off the main country roads but not well enough. "I'll explain if you gently.. Ha got it, mon ami!" The sunglasses wearing noki snatched the crowbar from where it seemed to be discreetly stashed with toad in the wheel chair.
"That wasn't to slap you across the head, dude. (Though I've sure felt like it. Ha ha, can't you hear me handsome?) I had to use that earlier with Kylie to bend my wheels back into shape incase you can't look at me and tell I've been through some crap today. And you wouldn't have to guess if you used your powers."
Jelectro dropped the crowbar to the ground, slumping back into the silver sports car. "That is why I left. It's selfish, but I can't help it. It pains me immensely to abandon my duties as a agent of Toad Town but it pains me even more to work with you! Why? It brings me back to- Remember many years ago 'Hot Foot' and his wife 'Pokey' causing those 'telepathy induced suicides' at a wood foundry as the papers reported?"
"Yeah I remember it. What?"
"-The perpetrators were my parents."
"..Oh. Wow. Sorry."
Jelectro flattened the wrinkles out his shirt, fidgety mindless action as he continued shakily. "Je suis juste fatigué. I don't want to know the thoughts of others in general. Say there is one I would like to peek into. Oh- now I can be privy to something important! But then there are so many more I'd rather not delve into. Vile things. Because of this ability I grew up a freak. I became an agent so that I would always be busy and able to forget I am not normal, but you will not let me! What is more, anytime I use my powers bad things occur. "
Mitch rolled his wheelchair back. There was just no way even a professional journalist 'prick' like him could still be angry. "Dude, again I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to be a thorn in your side. You and I were just.. raised different. I couldn't wrap my head around you having a rare asset and stubbornly choosing to not use it. That was a me problem. Now I see that it's your choice and I won't try to force you again."
The noki kept his face in his palm. "Then we have an understanding, mon ami."
"Guess we do." Mitch almost left but then wheeled back around. "But if it's not overstepping, I wish you would try to heal. You deserve to be at peace with yourself. I know you can't change the way your brain is wired but can change your perspective. Don't hold a grudge against yourself because your folks chose to use their powers for evil... Think about it. Stay pretty."
A large jagged lump of sand marred the smooth shore where the waves of Water Land rolled onto the yellow sands of Desert Land. The tail end of the mound wiggled, revealing long clawed toes. The opposite end agitated until something resembling a head lifted up. A wave washed away mud to reveal a large confused koopa. On his knees Bowser coughed violently as tide reached his chin. He stood and took a few wobbly steps forward, reaching dryer grittier sand and where grass and trees grew. He smacked into a one which pelted him with coconuts. Fleeing the trees Bowser entered a natural cave carved in the mountains that cut off the beach from the rest of the land. In pure blackness his foot splashed in a stream of water, then he heard screeching from blood sucking swoopers around the corner. He blindly rushed through, banging against the stalactites until he emerged from the mountains to the dunes of Desert Land.
Bowser collapsed flat on the ground.
"I HATE MARIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
...OOO, and on his voice echoed.
"Boss!" Sentry 11 materialized near him. "We were scouting for you, difficult 'cause the good mooks quit and no one listens to me.. actually about everyone quit if they managed to wash up. Want a report?" he ventured bluntly.
Bowser glared at the sentry so bleakly the lakitu gulped. Regardless Sentry 11 tallied it up as if he couldn't help it.
"Well it's about twenty Koopa Troop boss, including your family."
Faint steam rose from Bowser's forehead. If the stars were actually trying to prevent his union with the princess, they'd have to try harder. A strip of sandstone formed a path that traveled between two obelisks with hieroglyph inscriptions. Flaming torches lit the perimeter of a large golden pyramid with an open passageway. It was from there that Bowser's children emerged from to surround him, drenched wet and chattering.
Bowser Junior clung around Bowser's neck. "Daddddy!" the six year old sobbed.
"I calculated King Dad would wash up around this shore, so now we're just missing unnamed koopa numbers 45 through 500," Iggy spoke up. "..Has anyone seen Kamek and Kammy?"
Bowser scrambled to his feet, resulting in his youngest son swinging around. "THEY'RE MISSING? WHAT?! WHY ARE WE JUST STANDING AROUND THEN?"
Lemmy rose his hand. He'd begged and begged for his siblings to forget everything that happened on Bowser Island because he'd explain it all if only he was given a little more time. "Because we had to guard the princess, King Dad."
In the pyramid Bowser found no pure gold walls or chests from ancient Kings, instead cheap hanging rafters, industrial lights, fresh sharply chiseled stone, buckets of paint in the corner, and a passageway blocked with a white fabric sheet spray painted 'out of order'. The floor plan was completely open with only tape marking where walls would go. Peach and Toadsworth he found huddling in the corner, trying to have the maximum distance possible from Bowser meeting them halfway.
"You stay right here until I find gramps and old hag. Okay? Stay right here!"
After no response he inched closer and then Peach sprung forth like a frightened viper. "You don't even have an army anymore Bowser so I dare you, yes I dare you to make me do anything!" She slapped Bowser across his face like she had nothing to lose. She was quickly reminded she did when her hand bounced off with a thud.
Once the shock was out of his system, Bowser bent to her level, baring his teeth and grabbing her dainty little wrist. "So you think you can take me now? Don't play stupid games, Hotness. That's what I expect from Mario!" He let her go in an unbothered way, at least outwardly. "Hmm, yeah we better make new wedding plans. Excited?" He wished he was when he shot the trembling mess of a princess a grin over his shoulder. Bowser felt like a caricature of himself at this point, but too late. If he just kept trying to brute force his will it would HAVE to happen at some point. Said so right in Kingly Law, the Darklandian equivalent, sorta, of the Mushroom Kingdom's infamous star worship.
"-Listen pops, that's it!" Larry ambushed him outside the pyramid, where it was cold despite being desert. "I stuck around with that canoe at Water Land to save your tails and what I get? For y'all to just ignore me again, even when we almost died for real this time. I didn't want to do this dad, 'cause it feels like something a nerd would do, but I veto you!"
Bowser's eyebrows rose. "That's your next scheme? Well it's baloney!"
Wendy flushed deep red. "He can do that, not that I'd ever daddy, but he can veto especially since we're considered, like, travelers and don't rule a kingdom anymore!"
Lemmy waved his hand in the air. "King Dad, can we have an emergency meeting?"
Bowser again had a flash of some sort of shock. "Uh, sure. Everyone listen to him then!" he ordered.
The last two days? What waste of opportunity Lemmy thought. Someone who still asked for permission to potty was promoted to Dark Land military commander but he did nothing really of value with that new power, not even throw a surprise dance party because he could. Well he better get himself together because he couldn't go back on what he'd promised himself when his life was flashing before his eyes in that Water Land storm. He had a modest proposal, and not the one a literary major like Morton might think about at the suggestion.
Actually maybe it was a little like the satirical kind..
"King Dad and everyone else," Lemmy announced from on top of the stairway to the pyramid, "our dedication to the central purpose of the Koopa Troop, that is disrupting the Mushroom Kingdom, is cool and honorable and stuff. We've persisted through a boatload of crap but we're still here and we still have Peach. We rule! Too bad we lost everything, but not for long." The twenty-two year old noted the only mooks that weren't family remaining, Sentry 11, Tanner, Whomp #5, Johnson, Emery. This was key information and maybe he could tailor his next move to that. "So I request we find Kamek and Kammy and then I'll tell you my secret idea that will solve all our problems!"
"I like it." Bowser nodded, attracted to the idea of instant success. The search was on again with Bowser's intimidating presence driving it. He'd stay outside the pyramid and receive reports, so they'd better be good ones!
Meanwhile…The smell of stale wet paint mixed with the sour odor of despair. Peach felt so many emotions at once, she was hardly physically there. Why did it have to be so brutal between her and Bowser? It was time, yes, to drop the weight off of her for once and for all..
"-What would the King say, dear?"
Peach blinked again as Toadsworth came into focus in front of a snack machine.
"Your father, the King," the old mushroom continued, inserting into the machine the single golden coin that had survived his pockets. It spat out expired gum instead of the water he wished for. "If he knew these monsters were so integrated here, leading to situations like this!"
"Stop." Peach replied more prickly than she meant. Her brain caught up and determined it useless to debate certain things with her well meaning but sometimes narrow minded elder. Besides, she had to collect herself for other events on the horizon.
Bowser attempted to remain put while the search went on, but by the fourth report that there were no traces of the magikoopas he was about ready to gun to the shore himself.
"Alright, that's it!" Bowser announced to himself. "To get it done, you gotta do it yourself!"
Bowser wandered around and realized that maybe he wasn't much better at this search and rescue thing. He found himself creeping deeper into Desert Land. The landscape transitioned with the smoothness of a pokey's back, decidedly urban and developed. He bypassed gourd plants with pickets supporting them and empty patches of dirt expansion, then a wheeled trailer from a construction company, 'Authentic Restorations and Replicas inc.' There was a newly built sphinx, the entrance of the upcoming ancient civilization replica park as the flashing billboard stated.
Bowser hummed, ripping a promotional poster off a wall and rolling it up to look at later. He knew a thing or two about replicas, having countless versions of his castle recreated for Mario Karts and other events.. like tennis. Ugh! Thinking of MARIO made his mood crumble to the ground quicker than his castles normally did. His teeth grit together..
When he returned he found Peach outside the pyramid doorway waiting for him. The Koopa King froze. "Hotness? What's wrong? Aside from the obvious..."
Peach wrecked her brain on how she ever bring the matter up to her nemesis. She'd came up with something but upon the time to say it, what she prepared didn't begin to cover it. "I do not feel the animosity between us stems from a genuine place. Remember the first Mushroom Flu many years ago?"
"What about it?" Bowser replied, masking his queasy feeling. Even his current predicament, his life falling apart in the span of a few days was somehow easier to accept than those dark times. "Spit it out! What's the deal?"
Peach pat away the tears beginning to fall. "It came upon me that in all of the time we have been in each others company, far too long to be honest but I digress, I've have never made that matter clear to you. You took responsibility for poisoning those belonging to me- so it's only honest that I take responsibility for- "
"Princess!" Toadsworth startled both. Apparently he'd escaped via the 'emergency exit' just in time to see party arriving from the mountains.
Bowser bent to Peach's level. "We'll talk this out later. Okay? Go back inside, you and your grandpa."
He shoved both of them out of view as the group met up with him.
"I hate this new alarm clock! It makes me feel like my feet are moving!" Kamek protested as he was walked along with Roy and Morton on each side of him.
Kammy, though being supported by Wendy was still able to whack him with her new cane, a stiff palm branch since the original was lost at sea. "It's not an alarm clock! We're being walked!"
"I'm stoked you guys were found safe," spoke Lemmy in the lead.
Bowser grinned proudly. "Gramps and old hag! Got tired of being seafood finally I see. Well Johnson, get them warmed by the fire. Tanner, see if there's an outhouse around here. Emery? Get me a Lichen Cola. The rest of ya gather around so Lemmy can tell us whatever great idea he has."
Lemmy smiled back. It was show time as he'd say on the circus stage. First he'd need his SPOTLIGHT so his trick could be seen from all angles. A light was found by Whomp #5 who aimed it between two obelisks, the 'stage'. Lemmy's ball survived the shipwreck and he rolled with it perfectly in the middle of the towers.
Five seconds in Bowser was tapping his foot. He received the Lichen Cola and popped it open, already tuning out.
Lemmy cleared his throat. He was supposed to use this time to reveal the long and the short of it, going back to Friday even, but the quick thinker developed right then a better trick that would ensure a standing ovation. "What does a kingdom need?.. That's rhetorical, Morton. It needs land which we don't have and subjects which we've lost. Marrying Peach would make her kingdom King Dad's, her assets his, her subjects his, her castle his. Plus you, King Dad, like her obviously. If that happens however, there won't be a credits screen and it's all over. We'd never have peace. Ever. There's the Mushroom Kingdom's allies and Mario. Oh no! But what if you could replace Peach's role in this with someone else? Someone that would pretty much just make everyone give up? You'd get the kingdom and maybe more! And you still like this person too? I'd say just as much as Peach in a way," he chuckled darkly.
Uninterested, Bowser took one last gulp of the canned soda.
"So my proposal is this: Replace Peach with…. Mario! Mario can't crash your wedding if it's with Mario. Right? The world would just implode and then anything is yours. We win!" Lemmy bowed. "Annnnd that's it. APPLAUSE!"
The audience did so without registering what they had just heard or were celebrating. Bowser however spat a tremendous stream of soda as the can slipped from his hand and his knees gave way. He screamed.
To be continued..
Created: 8/1/19, 8/4, 8/8 - 8/15, 8/18, 8/19, 8/20, 8/21, 8/22, 8/23, 8/25, 8/26, 8/31, 9/2, 9/14, 9/15, 9/16, 9/18, 9/23, 10/7, 10/8, 10/9, 10/10, 13, 15, 10/21, 10/22, 10/27, 10/28, 10/30, 10/31
Edited: 6/13, 6/14/20
Edit again!: 1/1/21