Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2 (Redux)

A Modest Proposal (Chapter 16)

Disclaimer: Mario and co belong to Nintendo

Author note (2022): Edited to tie it all in and reflect some initial ideas about the event sequence


Yellow orbs hovered in the sky. Luigi rubbed his eyes and yawned- there were street lamps strolling by. The cozy interior and smooth ride of the station wagon finally lulled him somewhat, how he found a miracle after all the events following Daisy's chat with the 'general'. Everyone managed to track down Mario. The older brother paced in the town square over and over, white smoke pillowing all the while from the small fire at the rental homes and ranchers with buckets of water frantically racing there. Yoshi had to shake him a million times to get words out of him. Then Mario blurted out some seemingly random orders for everyone to immediately take. All Luigi could do was follow his and hope that extra Herb Tea he'd forced his brother to drink would have him more like himself when he returned. After all, in the morning they had to rescue Peach!

"Hey Stan, don't miss our driveway in the dark. The porch light got blown out by a Bowser goon two weeks ago."

"Hmm." The toad pulled onto the curb in front of the Mario Bros home.

Luigi exited. "You're welcome to come in," he yelled back. At least to get out the cold. He had asked him at the last minute to take him here. Luigi then heard the car cut off as he went inside. Immediately he 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. He let out a deep breath as his gaze fell upon a picture frame on the TV stand. The tattered photo was from one of their first Mario Parties, whichever one had the giant birthday cake with a piranha plant infestation. All the friends were there, him, his brother, Toad, Yoshi, even some bad guys like Bowser. His smile waned. It just wasn't fair to have old happy memories soured by the recent stuff. In a rare moment between them, the princess expressed a similar sentiment, unwilling however to fully elaborate. Peach insisted the 'stars always guided and assisted' with such feelings. Maybe it worked for her but he was on the fence about that.. The floorboards squeaked as the toad stepped in. He shed the mopey exterior just in time.

"This way Stan."

"Do you think my methods are uncharacteristic of a hero?"

Luigi was a little taken back but kept leading him through the house and through to the back yard. "No! Why?" He frowned a little more. "What did you do wrong? Aside from.. you know."

The Captain gently shut the back door behind him. "That is only the start of it, Luigi. What are we doing again?"

"Checking this short cut I guess." Luigi approached pipe #3.

He stood next to him. "Ah, yes of course. But as I was saying, I was under the assumption that justice was justice and I know that I am on the right side, so what does the execution matter? However when I 'interrogated' that Koopaling he seemed appalled at my behavior..."

Luigi exampled the rusty lever. They hadn't used this one in a while, mostly because they hated water levels and would not touch World 3 usually. "Ludwig sounds overly righteous for a Bowser freak."

"Don't be that dismissive! There is some warrant to such a conversation. When I am traveling with Brigade we are always meeting new types of peoples. I would be a rotting mushroom if I denied that we get away with some of our escapades simply because we are toads."

Luigi looked up at him and back down, chuckling. "Stan, I'm one of only a dozen humans in this entire world that I know of. I'm not one to discuss this topic with you. Just get down here and help me."

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. Luigi told him to wait only a sec. He scrambled back inside to the basement. He needed the plunger, a snorkel, a water proof flashlight, and finally the wrench. He was returning his pocket buzzed rapidly:

'Where is my map? -Mario'

'Where is the backpack? -Mario'

'Nvm. Don't tell anyone I asked 'CB'. It's nothing. Don't worry about it. -Mario'

Luigi froze, reading the messages his fingers trembled. He breathed heavily. While his brother sent him off he obviously didn't know he was borrowing Buckenberry's phone. Luigi was paranoid about emergencies and didn't want to be without one. Why was Mario attempting to ask his number one fanboy all that? Where was he going? Luigi growled audibly. He dropped his bundle of plumbing the equipment at Captain Toad's water logged boots. "I don't know what's Mario thinking about but I have to track him down. Think you can fix this yourself?" he begged. "Just tighten the bolt here and here."

Captain Toad nodded. "Take my keys, Luigi."

"No, we have bike I can take. But thanks for the offer, Stan. Ugh!"

Luigi walked the obnoxiously loud Mach Bike from their garage 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. Instinctively he had the feeling he should follow the roads leading out of the Southern Mushroom Kingdom. He coasted down the narrow dirt trail under the moonlight. It began to incline, the path running into some of the Mt. Rugged area. Everything illuminated by the headlamp was just rusty red- and then blue.

"What's up, bro?" Luigi cut his brother off sharply with the bike, then revealed the text messages.

His older speechlessly stared with dull eyes.

Luigi killed the engine and stepped off, letting the bike clank onto the rocky soil. "Found all your supplies? What about the snacks? Can't go on an adventure without it!...Where the heck are you going alone?"

Mario gradually came out of his daze, blinking over and over. "I MUST be at Desert Land by sunrise."

"M-Mario, please slow down," Luigi plead, anger fizzled and instead beginning to freak out over his alien tone. "We can travel in the morning when we're rested and-"

Mario revealed a shoe box with s glowing pink light source inside. "I-I- Luigi I.. look... we can't slow... the others...the Dark Star is getting... it's gonna return... it's gonna take away... it will take a-away..."

"Take away what? Peach? Well of course duh we all worry about her...R-right?" Luigi's featured darkened over the errant thought that came to mind. The nagging thing in the back of his mind since the conception of this adventure bubbling up relentlessly. "Or is it... Bowser?" he hissed. He snatched his brother's arm. "Yeah, that makes sense after all we've learned. Y-you tried to send me and the others away to sneak off? We knew Peach might be in trouble but only when we learn that Bowser is that you go crazy. You. Are. Obsessed. Whatever you're trying to do now has something to do with you and Bowser doesn't it?"

Tucking the box under his arm and hanging his head, Mario emitted the smallest sound. "Mmhmm."

Luigi stepped a few steps away slowly and then screamed fiercely out into the open. His anguished voice bounced off the rocky mountain walls.

Their life was supposed to center around the princess, the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom and the one they'd pledged to always protect. But no, and he'd known deep down since the time they arrived in the Mushroom Kingdom and had their first romp against their Darklandian enemies. Since the time Mario privately requested for Peach to not teasingly kiss him in public, exacerbating rumors from citizens that adored the romantic suggestion. Since the time Mario admitted he wanted deeper connection with someone and it not be based off gratitude that he was their hero, but couldn't articulate who exactly that might be..

"It's because I put my paws on that thing in the box. Words can't describe it. I don't know what to, wait, I cannot do anything now except what I must. Am I speaking in riddles? It did that to me too," Mario said, now lucid. He scratched head and rolled his shoulders, standing upright again as if losing track of the last few moments.

Luigi spun back to him, tearing up. "..W-which is?"

"Leave," he whispered. "But, wait, I can 'beat' the system I think," he added enigmatically. Some of the gleam returned to his eyes. "I think.. if I take you with me... we can make this okay. Yes...that's it. Brother...please do this..."

"M-Mario.." he sobbed bitterly.

Mario took both arms of his. "Luigi.. if you love me...It will be okay, I will make it okay..."

...

The shiny and hand painted die cast models hanging from Jr. Troopa's office ceiling hung over a koopaling's head. 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 versions. There were also myriads of marshal arts awards hung around the work space, oh and a mecha! Last, was the writing desk with his journals and a bulky old computer. With that, Ludwig had scanned the entire room. He glanced back at the locked door. "Curses!" he exclaimed for the tenth time. No need for spirits to sink, he stood no chance in the earlier altercation anyway, not with that blue toad obeying any and every word from that plumber. It began with that 'special object'. It was no dark star but it still held an unknown influence, tapped into by an unauthorized user. Mario. The Lexicon glaringly omitted what those effects could be, explaining somewhat why held that Doom Reverb and kickstarted this nightmare. Actually no, that was just him being selfish and careless. He dropped Secretary Vick's hand written, impressively, manual to the Mecha-Yoshi back into the magazine rack and lifted himself from the La-Z-Boy as carefully. Avoiding movements gave him debilitating pain was like traversing a minefield.

"Mecha-Yoshi, please activate," he commanded the robotic assistant in the corner. A Mecha-Yoshi with sharp teeth and dim red glowing eyes did nothing.

Ludwig thought for a moment. "Ah hem. Mecha-Yoshi, giddy up partner!" With the click the robotic dinosaur's gears churned. Its wheels extended, claws unsheathed, and red eyes gleamed brightly. "Now slice 'n dice that sucker!" he drawled, cheekily keeping in character.

Shhhh! With a shrill zap, the mecha's lasers scorched an opening in the wooden door. Fanning the smoke, Ludwig inched his way out, thick cowhide wrapped around his body and a brown ten gallon enveloping his head. He stomped out a few embers to discourage another fire. Via a walkie talkie procured from Junior's room, someone tried to arson the Southern rental condos, specifically the one Mario was staying in. That logically meant a curtain backstabbing plumber wouldn't be there anymore. The office was very close to the Southern Hospital, a skip and a hop away as they'd say, and many were to and fro on the streets, purportedly relatives of those cured this night of Mushroom Flu. It would sure be unfortunate to get recognized as the one who infected them!

He slipped into to the high grass behind the office. Cicada like insects screeched without let up from the foliage, surrounding him like an invading army. On the other side was another quieter row of buildings. Outside a westering shack labeled 'The pot', he spotted Toad standing there tapping his foot. There was a huge backpack on him, recognized as Mario's signature travel pack.

Ludwig devised his strategy instantly. Problem was, he was going to feel icky over it... He got his phone and tapped away, flushing at his ineptitude with an on screen keyboard. Regardless he got it done and hit 'send'.

A few seconds later, Toad with a distressed look began walking down the sidewalk without taking off the backpack. Ludwig let out a long sigh louder than meaning to, because Toad turned his head and locked eyes with him. The koopaling tensed then, knowing he was unable to run.

"Homeboy!" Toad darted across to him. "What was that about? I know that's you. You pretended to be Larry Koopa pretending to be Mario pretending to want me to drop backpack on the ground via Facebook messager!"

Ludwig checked his screen again with a shrug. He was given the impression this sort of thing was anonymous by the tales Roy told with his 'dms'. Apparently not. As for using Larry's account, that's what everyone in the family did, the only of them not flagged and deactivated by trolls. "Toad, believe me as difficult it may be for you. Mario has abandoned us I am afraid and that bag, yes I'm grasping here, might hold a clue."

"Ha ha, no way! Mario's just right in there!" Toad chuckled.

"With the lights off?"

Toad ran back to the outhouse and kicked open the door. It was empty. He hesitantly dropped the pack to the ground. It was full of gear for an adventure, some powerups, a map, and snacks. "Mario told me he was gonna be stuck in there for a while. Like he got sick or somethin' and it was pretty believable. So I was waiting which is awkward but the castle only has three bathrooms so I'm used to it. And then I thought it'd be nice to grab his bag and air the smoke out of it. Didya hear-"

"Yes yes, the fire, please continue!"

"-I did get a weird feeling seeing what he'd packed.." Toad dug his shoe into the ground, nervously. "But then I 'd be a snooper so I patiently waited. I dunno, I was going with the flow, feeling a little sick still from the cure but fighting it. I figured, Weegee or Yosh woulda done somethin' if strange was going on?"

Ludwig shook his head. "Never assume your brethren will do what should be done in your place." As a Koopa Kollege survivor where they killed each other, literately, for the best education, this koopaling knew of the bystander effect well. "But to carry on, we should both be aware of Mario Mario's likely course of action. The jewel he touched has communicated some instruction, not to his brain, but his soul. For personal experience he will not be able to wage war against it. You cannot prevail. It becomes an axion such as, well, the fact that Mario wears red, or... we kidnap princesses."

"R-really? T-that's how it w-works?"

"I've explained this before, Toad! Don't get too excited."

"No homeboy," The castle advisor rubbed his arms together. "Chills. Let's tell Yosh. He's in town and could sniff Mario out. Weegee got sent all the way home though and we can't call him."

Ludwig slapped his face. "Let us bustle then! If Mario Mario continues to trot along with that unauthorized special object, it may transfigure. What is more it is connected to the princess who is in the clutches of my father, whom we have not had status of since Water Land, and is also being stalked by an different special object. I shudder to fathom the possibilities if they meet!"

Toad gulped as he lead Ludwig to where Yoshi was last seen. All the while someone invisible watched on, too frightened to announce their presence but even more so to resist following them.

...

A block over at the Southern Hospital major cleanup occurred, staff weaving around those picking up their sick relatives. Thankfully most side effects from the cure was mild, but those coming out of their Mushroom Flu comas still had elevated heart rates at learning that the Kingdom was under Bowser attack and Peach was missing. Jr. Troopa and his staff attempted placate them. It would be fine because Mario was going to rescue her next morning. Some grateful Mushroomites wanted to thank the hero, but Junior had to come up with some sort of excuse. He was surely too busy and tired. That sent another wave of panic on them.

"Junior, you done stirred em up now!" a patooie plant hollered from behind the 'desk', actually three Chuckola Cola barrels lined up.

Jr. Troopa pulled him into his face by the handkerchief around his neck. "Vick, you try wranglin' with patients souped on cough syrup n, well warm soup!"

"Darn tootin.."

Junior eyed the crowds moving about again with a grimace. "Worse yet partner, I can't get over them vandals tryin' ta burn down the specific condo we rented to Mario. Maybe that's why he's gone. I declare that suspicious!"

"Like that beeping light on yer butt?"

Junior dug into his back pocket where there was a beeper. "Just my office security going off. Prolly false alarm as usual, those dern alley cats.." He noticed someone authoritative walking from the left wing and into the saloon dress in a pressed all black suit, among the sea of others. "Ca ya back us up, officer fella?"

The man in black twisted their way slightly with a sour exhausted look. His steps slowed enough for someone to slightly overtake him. A little yoshi girl, still in a gown and with a medical wrist band was holding his hand. Besides her was a short noki in similar wear as the man in black, face hidden behind dark sun glasses, even at night! Jr. Troopa then felt he was intruding on that poor family and pretended he didn't say anything.

Soon the Super Spy HQ agents were out of that mad house, stealthily vanishing into the night and to where their vehicle was hidden off from civilians. "What was Charles calling about, mon ami?" asked Jelectro on the way.

Agent N shared a careful glance a his roommate as they went off road completely, behind the buildings and shacks. "Spy Guy paranoid about the 'energy levels' he detected in town. Thinks we should cancel our squads trip to this year's Star Festival."

"Ooooh!" went Ashley, N's niece, walking in between them.

Jelectro smiled warmly to her then somewhat teasingly to N. "That one that is only supposed to occur every 100 yrs, mon ami?

The yoshi agent gave him a sly glance in return. "Nothing in Toad Town makes sense and," he lowered his voice. "Charles will be Charles..Psst! We weren't identified back there. You can cut it out."

Something rattled in the bush they were just walking past, a shy guy camouflaged in black and green, leaves and brush glued to his tactical outfit. "Ah hem.." He followed, grumbling as he dragged his gear and avoided the noki in general.

"-But we should consider skipping it," N picked back up in a whisper. "Any cadet that takes on this Bowser shuffle case comes up empty and that's unlike us. Agent 999 was caught and released at Camp Bowser. Agent M seemed confident but he's not updated status since reporting at Poshley Heights this morning. I think Agent Toad had some idea but half the time I think that kid just wants chances to drive our company cars and boats and planes. Even you weren't successful, Bond."

"Ah. But I did not take on this Bowser case!" Jelectro turned to N's niece. "I cut my vacation short because of this one, oui l'amour? He face flattened and he exhaled deeply at what was ahead.

"How very sweet, dude. Knew you had a heart."

Agent N and Spy Guy gasped, Ashley standing in confusion. In the hidden clearing where they kept the car, there was a toad in a wheelchair with a Sarasaland Princess besides him. The toad wore winkled office clothes and Daisy had a thick throw wrapped around her.

Agent N automatically stepped up, shielding the others and particularly his niece. "You! How did you sneak past the proximity-"

"Don't worry 'bout it Jeremy. Charles, put that dart gun away too. We're unarmed. Now hear her out."

"What he said," added Daisy, feeling then uneasy about this plan or what he'd walked into just now. She was dizzily running around town after the fire and found a Snifit Patrol station. By then the fire had be extinguished and she didn't know where anyone was anymore. Walking back alone and freezing she stumbled across that toad journalist. 'Follow me. I know what you're thinking' he told her in a way that might have seemed like a pickup line but there was something in his tone that drew her closer. He said he knew some people that could fly her home before the morning sun rose. Now she couldn't resist that.

"Can't you umm, take me home? Like, there's kinda an emergency at my castle, like a hostile takeover thing and I just heard you have rockets and that can blast off at 160,495 mph and umm," Daisy rambled.

Agent N and Spy Guy exploded, "That's classified!" among other things while Daisy stared at them, regretting this.

Mitch was suddenly yanking around to the other side of the car. The back of his wheelchair slammed against the trunk of which he made no reaction to.

"You will harass me no more!" Jelectro said.

"Hide the car better next time."

Jelectro huffed with some restraint. "Mr. Mitch, I am a trained agent. I can and will hurt you."

"The half of me I still have feeling in you mean. Haha. Nice family you got there."

"Mon ami!" the noki groaned, more exasperated than enraged. "You behave like this at a time like now? So much indignation covered up by a mountain of smarm."

"Do ya want me to look as bad as I feel?"

The noki crossed his arms. "Tu es triste. You are a proud grade-a bastard, and I do not use that phase lightly. "

"...Yes. I am." The green toad cleared his throat. "That's the real reason I lead Princess Daisy here, dude. To speak to ya. First of all I'm sorry."

Noki glanced over to the others still arguing and back. "..What?"

"Really. I realize now how big this problem is now and how stressed you must of been with all this going on. I got carried away on this case. It's just that when I met ya for the first time I was like 'oh' and I don't mean like, 'you're gorgeous', I mean you are, but- I mean here's someone else with a rare power but he doesn't use it?"

"Yes?" the noki questioned, getting irritated again. "And at the press I saw your research on others like us. People have many natural talents, maybe they are less fantastical, but regardless no one is obligated to put on a circus act, mon ami. This has been the root of our consistent scuffling, has it not? How ironic you cannot see outside yourself! It does not seem you like to actually communicate to people so you prefer to read their thoughts? Eh? -Even though we both know that when we engage in such voyeurism we are only picking up flat emotionless words and phrases from their brain, not even in their voice! A fringe of what they may actually feel or experience, but that's good enough for Mr. Mitch!"

The toad's fist slammed against his arm rest. "Maybe I don't talk to people because I don't like people." He fizzled somewhat. "Or at least not most. Why do you talk like that? Why do you really hate us?"

Jelectro paused then leaned into his ear. "Remember many years ago 'Hot Foot' and his wife 'Pokey' causing those 'psychic induced suicides' at a tropical wood foundry as the papers reported?"

"Yes."

"I was adopted by non-nokis, far from Noki Bay. The only Isle Delfino species in a concrete jungle. I was different. I was a freak, especially when I learned I could... All because the perpetrators were my parents." He leaned away again, words becoming a sneer. "So imagine being me. Unable to look into the mirror without seeing them all over again."

Mitch's black beady eyes sparkled. "Jelectro, I'm not messing with ya now when I say you ARE a gentleman. You never must of read me dude, the entire time. I knew your past and I get it. I remember like yesterday. That incident was my first report back in sixth grade. It was supposed to be about super powers being hereditary but it was actually the first time in my miserable life I knew that there were people like me. I got laughed out of a classroom but it didn't matter. I became a different 'Mitch'. I was a bookish weirdo but by reading enough, by honing my skills enough, by researching others enough. I learned how to 'work' some of those I used to envy or despise," he said cryptically. "So that's what endeared you to me, seeing where you were now... I wouldn't be here without you."

"Oh.." the noki murmur diffidently.

"So we were both dealt a rough card but I guess our coping methods differed. Your 'try to assimilate as normal and help people' tactic sure sounded a lot better than my 'rise to the top by stealing other's secrets and profiting'. I should have went with that. So yes I'm a jerk, but you're a good guy after and I'm sorry I ruined that last few days for ya."

"I still think you are crazy."

Mitch burst out laughing.

"-So it is settled then, princess," Agent N announced, his niece contently perched his shoulders. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood now when Jelectro quickly checked on them.

"N, that makes total sense," Spy Guy agreed.

"What does, mon ami?"

"You missed the entire thing," Daisy said, casually leaning even on the side door. "They're gonna take me home with your top secret technology or whatever but only with Mario's approval."

"Good. Dismiss this heckler." Jelectro nudged his head towards Mitch forlorn at the back.

He wheeled himself around. "I'll go on my own but, heckler says, Mario is missing."

...

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!"

...OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

...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.

Moments earlier:

"Alright. You're ex-communicated alright, but, but please-"

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 he was given a little more time. Of course, there was no forgetting at this point or ever again likely, but at least they could avoid the cacophony of confusion over why their lives are upside down now. "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 impeach you!"

Bowser's eyebrows rose. "That's your next scheme? Pulling out the law books? Well it's baloney!"

Wendy flushed deep red. "He can do that, not that I'd ever daddy, but he can try to impeach especially since we're considered, like, travelers and don't rule a kingdom anymore and the usual monarchy rules don't apply!"

"Whoa, wait!" 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. He had to get himself together. He couldn't go back on what he'd promised 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 felt physically weighted down by it. Why did it have to be so brutal between her and Bowser? It was time, yes, to drop that 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 bottled 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. She was sure there would be many to come.

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'd 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. She took a deep breath. "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

A new slew of fixes. Tired yet? 5/29/21

2022 Stuff, and it's a lot: 1/11/22