Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2 (Redux)

The New Mario and Bowser (Chapter 17)

Disclaimer: Mario and co belong to Nintendo

Author note: Edited to reflect previous edits!


Mario was in the black heart of the eighth known mushroom world, tackling the last gauntlet between him and the princess in the clutches of the wicked 'Bowser Koopa'. Whipped thoroughly into shape by perils endured and challenges never imagined, he was the first person brave- or stupid enough to cross the drawbridge over lava. It rocked and creaked with every step but Bowser was at the other end and there was no turning back. A fireball rolled down the narrow path. Mario jumped over it just as hammers of dull steel rained down and pelted the fragile walkway. Bowser launched himself into the air before Mario could slam the axe he acquired into The Enemy's forehead. Mario slid out of the way instead and when Bowser landed the bridge buckled in the middle and Mario stumbled backwards. The Enemy…could not win now! This gave Mario a new less violent but more interesting idea. Just a moment later, when he struck the bridge with the axe and the whole thing went down, the look on Bowser's face was priceless-

"Mario, why are you smiling so much?"

Both brothers stopped at the apex of a five story tall sand dune, others ahead resembling pale blue glaciers in the moonlight. Everything was quiet as it had been since they stealthily set out on the adventure. They had spotted what were ostensibly other travelers a considerable distance away but never close enough to see a face or discern a species. There were no signs or land marks. The only thing certain were fresh foot prints down hill- Their own, wrapping around to complete the circle they'd went in.

"How about we stop following this broken compass," Mario chuckled dryly, shoving the navigational 'aid' into his pocket. Away from town he was no longer a crude facsimile of himself. "Thanks again for coming along on my suicide mission."

"Don't joke like that." Luigi nudged him playfully. "But when this is all over, we have some discussing to do."

Mario sat down and got serious again. "I know. For now let's just hit the reset button." He munched on one of the triangle sandwiches Luigi had packed for the trip and utilized all his cellphone's single signal bar for a GPS signal. Also bobbing along to a 'Generation Z' mp3 he'd forgotten he'd downloaded, he made another far scan of their surroundings. Faintly he could see some light on the edge of the horizon.

Mario sprang back up, brushing the crumbs from his mustache. "If I run us in another circle I'll allow you to punch me."

Luigi smiled weakly. "I'm holding you to that."

...

Victor Patooie, secretary of the Southern Hospital was in his office space, a large barn that belonged to him and housed all his equipment and technological inventions from the Mecha-Yoshis to the 'ten-gallon hat disguiser' idea that he abandoned once he got too anxious of legal action by Bonneters. Someone was knocking over the Walker Texas Koopa reruns he had playing. The patooie slid open his metal door. "What in tarnation-?" Jelectro had him pinned against his own rusty steel walls in a split second.

"Shhhhhh, mon ami. Where is Ludwig being held?"

"Hold on, partner! My stems are delicate! Junior, Troopa I mean, let 'em stay in his office down yonder. Easy there!"

"Merci." Jelectro let him go.

...

Boo held surprising artistic talent Ludwig noted, though he was not aware that Boo actually harnessed those skills to impress Luigi one day. Boo had polished and retouched all of Jr. Troopa's collectables and found a plank of wood to plug up the Mecha-Yoshi blast sight under Ludwig's supervision. That favor for someone legitimately unable to do so on their own Boo didn't mind, at least enough to not complain audibly. Irritation however festered when Ludwig began to think of other chores: Going out to find some paper to write on, then again to get pen, then again because that pen was out of ink, then again because he wanted to write in black and not blue. Trying to find him a musical instrument to practice on: then complaining because the folk instrument Boo found was tuned into G instead of C, again because the C tuned instrument had a broken string, then again because he became bored of that one. Fetching a warm blanket: A warmer one. But not that warm! Finding some more pants: another pair because the size is wrong, another pair because the color was drab, another pair because it would be nice to have a spare. Then Ludwig decided a hot shower would be nice-

"C-can I take a break?" Boo squeaked, drenched in sweat from constant moving.

Ludwig rose up from his extremely comfortable spot in the recliner. "Of course for an ally."

Boo blushed at hearing that. It felt like the nicest thing anyone had told them in a while.

Then someone knocked on the door before Kylie Koopa gently pushed it open. "Sup koopaling fella. I know it's late but-" Her eyes wandered over to Boo and opened like she'd hit a lottery. It was the mystery koopa crook killer with the power of Eldstar at the word. "TriggerHappy McBoo? The scoop's just in! We found 'em! Where's Jr. Troopa and the hounds when you need 'em?"

Boo turned white and died all over again. "Ky- ky-kyly I-I!" they babbled, backing themselves into the furthest corner of the small office.

At the same time someone else arrived, Jelectro. He sprinted up at the commotion, only wanting to get a look at the koopaling stated to be around in the area as that was something he never got to do otherwise with his typical missions far away from normal Mushroomy territories. The detective stumbled instead on a wanted criminal.

Ludwig decisively sprung up from his seating and reached for Boo's arm. "I can help you." He kept trying but Boo remained stiff and petrified.

"Bond! Brother, I'm glad you're here. Bust em like I know you can," Kylie shouted down Jelectro's back, not so subtly using him as a shield between her and Ludwig and Boo.

Jelectro hovered his hand over his pistol. He wouldn't have blindly gotten into this situation if he utilized a certain ability of his. The obvious lesson here had bludgeoned the noki enough. If he took a peek into what ever Boo was thinking he could possibly deescalate this stand off.

Jelectro focused on the little boo. Behind his dark sunglasses his eyes clouded over as he heard, not Boo's voice but a deeper guttural one of an alter ego-

(YOU'LL NEVER CATCH ME SUCKERS!)

Jelectro snapped out of it in time to witness a dull ray of light circling on the tip of Boo's fingers. He lowered his shades down his nose a little. Actually that was a blinding bright ray of lightning and it was heading right his way.

As Jelectro and Kylie were hurled out of the small office by the blast, Ludwig fanned away the smoke. Something vise like clamped on his arm.

"Actually I can help YOU buddy. Heh heh heh. You're coming with me. HA HA HA HA HA!" Booigi the Second cackled before whisking Ludwig away.

...

"I DON'T LIKE HIM LIKE THAT!…. OR AT ALL! I HATE MARIO! COME BACK!" Bowser screamed at the backs of minions leaving him. They were preparing to hike out of the park and away forever, once loyal to Bowser before hearing Lemmy's proposal that pushed frenemy relations too far.

"Wait guys," Lemmy said. Unlike Bowser this made them pause. He continued. "One last thing before you turn in your two weeks notice I guess. I'm sorry I'm part of the reason why you all have nothing anymore... Including Zoo, Tanner. I know you two were close and you're one of our best soldiers and I hate to tell you this but, he died.. right before the first storm."

"What? No. No!" Tanner gasped. The koopatrol numbly away walked deeper into the desert.

Emery, bright red, covered her mouth at Lemmy before following Tanner. A nondescript but more mature Koopa Troopa, Johnson gave Lemmy a sort of pitying glance and then shrugged and followed them as well. That left Whomp #5 like a stick in the mud, at least until he joined the rest. With that Bowser was officially out of mooks it seemed.

"Were you TRYING to disband us Lemmy? You were!" Bowser sharply accused. "I'm not that stupid, son. Now I get it. You were all against me all along! Everyone group up so I can tell you this right now and I will not stutter. It don't matter. Nothing does! I don't care if you're the reason everything goes wrong either via some stupid star curse or whatever the heck you call it. We still have the princess and she will be mine!" This caused a roar among everyone left.

"Father, you have gone mad!" Morton exclaimed. For the first time ever others agreed with him.

Iggy paused a second. "Dad. .. I totally betrayed you too even though you called me a role model. Doesn't that stun you enough to give me enough time to fix the one part of my invention that broke when the whirlpool-"

"Just fix da thing already!" Roy screamed in Iggy's ear. The oddball genius woozily stumbled into the spotlight which fell with a loud clang.

That was unexpected! -The message Bowser received, especially in present times. A hammer brother passed to him a pink paper from Peach's Castle, more specifically from a messenger from a messenger from a messenger from whoever Peach got to write her letters, possibly her secretary Toad due to frequently bad grammar and spelling. (Rumors were arising that some of the greatest minds in all of the eight continental kingdoms were directing the building of mysterious metal structures and poles that would somehow eliminate the need to use letters all of the time. Bowser thought that too far out to believe.) Peach's distinctive and delicate tissue paper like stock was an invitation from Mario asking for him to participate in a demilitarized, except for the strong hint what weaponized shells and bananas would be involved, recreational kart race. For fun.

"...Sounds great!" Bowser stated, popping out of that day dream. Coming to, everyone had shifted positions and an unknown amount of time was blotted out of his memory. The only constant was that everyone was still arguing.

"-I knew you'd agree to all I just said dearie. Even the thing about more grandkids. You can't give up after everything we've been through, your nastiness. We raised you better. Just ignore those brats of yours. These new hip koopas just don't know how to run a kingdom anymore," Kammy said, the short magikoopa materializing at his side. "Go on to the pyramid and spill your heart to Peach! It's not too late for her to say yes! Oh, and if she doesn't. Make it a yes!" she added deviously.

Lemmy clawed his fingers through his hair. "King Dad, please, PLEASE, I request for you to remember Kingly Law! We're family and a family alone can't make a Kingdom and without a kingdom you can't marry Peach for political alliance so what's the use?!"

"BECAUSE I JUST WANT TO! I've put my five-hundred- think that's a high number.. percent into this and I ain't giving up! Forget rules in that stupid book! I wish I never made Kamek drill it in your heads. Just hit the dang reset button." Bowser faced Kammy for support.

"Reset button, dearie?"

Bowser flushed. "It means start over, er, what loser did I borrow that phrase from? Oh whatever."

"Report time. Not counting your family you have one mook boss," replied Sentry 11 from his hiding spot at the high vantage point of the obelisk. He dropped his binoculars. "Me. I'm your last guy! I-I'm honored!" the lakitu beamed. "Path the princess is clear, boss!"

Lemmy muttered a bad, but still PG, word under his breath. There was no way he was going to get that guy to quit so it was plan Z- as he'd definitely expended everything else at this point. He whispered something in Bowser Junior's ear, which made the six-year old very excited suddenly, then had him stand by a little longer. "King Dad, I-if we keep going like this a disaster is going to happen again!" Lemmy wailed desperately as Bowser ignored him. He thought.

Bowser, already in pieces, discovered that it was possible for his very being to shatter into bits as fine as the sand of the desert. He whipped around to glare at everyone that had cornered him against the pyramid entrance. Bowser wanted to just pulverize them. How dare they try again and again to twist his hand. He was Bowser! He made the rules and it was just their job to agree with everything he said. Then they would be okay... But what if they weren't one day? What if he had lost them in the shipwreck? Bowser had no army, no kingdom, no servants to loose anymore, just his family. If the Dark Star wanted more blood what was left to take from him but them? His balled fists relaxed and his ugly expression had melted into a blank stare. His chest tightened. He realized the strange feeling. Anxiety-

"Kamek? W-what?" Bowser snapped when his aged father figure was the first one to approach him up the steps.

"Lord Bowser, I only had a tip for you. It'll cheer you up." Kamek reached into his pocket. "Drop that deranged psycho look! Girls hate that." He tossed an 'as seen on TV' bottle of womanizing spray at Bowser.

If Iggy wasn't still trying to repair the Wacky Watch he'd had fainted. "Someone stole my prototype!"

Bowser held round bottle, feeling those rational thoughts from just seconds ago dissolve like they were never there. The Princess, his prize was just. Right. There. Then go for it idiot, Bowser thought.

Wendy missed that exchange because she was stuck in the back at the bottom of the stairs, usually a reason for her to scream something about misogyny but not this time. The strife in the family was more important and also expected, as discussed in depth with her used to be Adolescent Anti-Monarchy club. They'd gather in mom's basements or dorms or public parks, young and rebellious but intellectual Dark Land citizens known for peering into history books, diaries, and newspapers to study the pattern of successes and failures of societies ruled by leaders with absolute power. Like monarchies. The little group of losers and outcasts, including Wendy depreciated as the only distaff Koopaling, uncovered the corruption deeply ingrained in their culture for centuries and vowed to fix it someday.

Wendy wasn't ready then- taking those pearls of understanding and casting them away, at least to outsiders, after turning seventeen this year. She couldn't hang with gangs directly against her own legacy. It's not like she'd lead in a monarchy-free utopia. Now, though they were on the brink of the end of a monarchy, and it just needed one push. The guilt of betrayal stung, yet her passion for her was she believed in was stronger. She could see it as clear as it had already happened- a brighter future with no princess chasing.

"Daddy! Waaaaaaaaait!" Her soprano was covered up by the chaos. She needed a platform. Who better than her younger brother besides her?

Morton hardly noticed Wendy climbing on his back. The teen was stuck like a broken tape on what he'd learned from month ago, starting when he added to his collection a book called 'IV'. In exchange of three months pay from his part time job at his high-school's library, the sixteen year old was able to devour the diary of an ancient explorer Zheng Koopa, regurgitate it, then digested it again. The writing was on the wall, as unmistakable as a Neo Bowser City billboard- and those things could blind even monty moles. They had to escape the Dark Star.

"Everyone should listen to me! For real this time!" Morton charged forward, slinging Wendy along and knocking everyone aside to race inside the pyramid.

Back at the pyramid: "Where is she? Ahhhhhh! S-she's gone!" Bowser sputtered, now smelling irresistible from a female perspective. He belligerently shook Toadsworth for some explanation, flinging the stale gum from his teeth. The pyramid was empty with only the retired chancellor waiting as decoy. Trembling, he couldn't tear his eyes from Peach's escape method, not even when Wendy and Morton essentially rammed into him and bounced off. The drink machine had been slid to the side to reveal an 'emergency' emergency exit, a hole torn into the wall..

Bowser slowly spun back to the doorway where his youngest son fought his way to the front. "Daddy," Junior began all innocent like. Smiling wide as his fat cheeks allowed he seemed happier than he'd ever. "Sooo I think I'm the king now? Coooooool! Can we get ice-cream or something? Will I get a gold toilet like you had? Will I get a party?"

Bowser stared at his son like he'd grown another head. "I...what?"

"King Dad, I'm sorry," Lemmy began shakily. "To keep trying the same thing over and over doesn't make sense anymore. You know I'm here because Luddy couldn't be and he always told me to think about what's best as a commander. That might mean admitting defeat sometimes. So as uh, Dark Land temporary Military Commander in Luddy's place I.." he gulped, not even able to face Bowser anymore. "I impeach you on insanity clause. Does everyone else agree?"

Instantly all of the Koopalings shouted yes, drowning out any input from the magikoopas or the lone sentry lakitu.

Bowser gave his second oldest in particular a look of rage, anguish, betrayal, and surprise all at once. What he did not do contrasting what everyone expected, was blow up like a bomb. In a flash he seemed unfamiliar suddenly, like a stranger in their father's body. "And so now Junior is the King of Dark Land instead of me. Cause I'm crazy? Ha. Ha! Oh my freaking..." He held his bumpy scaled forehead. "Hold on a sec.." On edge everyone cleared aside for Bowser to descend the pyramid steps. His expression was completely empty and they didn't know what might unfold.

Bowser kept his stoic walk going a few yards away on the ground before pausing. Lemmy could hear only his heart beating, agonizing on if he'd made the right call.

"I am crazy actually!" Bowser remarked with a smile. "So good call everyone. In fact, I'm just crazy enough- TO DO THIS! SENTRY, LET'S GO!" Bowser sprinted quicker than they had ever seen across the sand, his sentry hovering above him. The others could not have caught him if they wanted to because they became the stunned expressionless ones.

...

With everything on her, including her crown and phone she'd slipped back from Bowser when he wasn't looking- thank goodness his shell had protected it from water- Princess Peach took on a new Egyptian custom and was catching on like an expert, running like the Nile out of wicked Bowser's grasp. She overtook Whomp #5 without looking back.

"The princess!"

She then overtook the ex Koopa Troop members moving at normal speeds.

"Ohmygosh. It's the princess!" Emery turned to Tanner.

"I don't care!" he replied to her alarm.

Peach panted heavily, unexpectedly icy desert wind colliding with her face. She thought she was forming a bunion from running in heels but she deserved it she felt. She stopped under the stone arches of some ruins and called for help. Blast it! She pitied what was once a cute little flip phone as it was barely holding on. Finally she got a call through to the Mushroom Kingdom's emergency number. She thanked the stars as it slipped from her grip. Falling on its back she read 'Property of Bowser' stamped on. Anger flared up before the princess could rein it back. Crack! It was in pieces under her heel...

...

"Okay, sooo this is the spot right?" Toad asked Yoshi. They'd been waiting for half and hour at water tower where any minute Mario and Luigi would show up and they'd all go out to rescue Peach from Bowser. He dropped his backpack. "If they're this late, let me run to the bathroom I guess."

Yoshi nodded. He was leaning back in a fold out chair. He once had a bag of snacks for the trip but in waiting the dinosaur had devoured those already, making him sluggish and sleepier. He thought he was imagining someone tall and slender bustling his way.

"Straight up! This is wild dawg!" Daisy hung onto a support beam. "They're missing!"

Yoshi stumbled to his feet, flipping his chair and kicking his bowl in the process. "Who?"

"Mario and Luigi! They aren't anywhere in town and they ain't home either," the princess explained rapidly, her breath making a cloud in the cool weather. "I think they left y'all. Was that planned?"

Yoshi sighed. "Who has a way to call them? Scratch that, just Mario. I forgot Luigi's phone melted. We need to blow it up with texts, calls, voice messages, and those angry emojis things I don't know how to use, and I mean it! How dare he do this to me?" he ranted.

Daisy laughed, not sensing the urgency. "Dawg, I can't help you. I just got my first computer last year."

Yoshi shot her an annoyed look, though it was more upset at himself. "I'm serious. I left my fiancé for, well, to be with- No, let me rephrase. Mario and 'this life', if you want to put that way, of adventures is all I have, so of course I wanted to go! Besides, he promised and I hate when he changes at the last moment like this."

Daisy laughed again. "I didn't know all that! Dedicated sidekick, huh? Yeah, I forgot you babysit him a long time ago. No wonder you're missing him so soon."

"Stop. It." He began to listen closely. "Hear that?"

"That was the toilet being stopped up, homeboy," Toad said, joining them again. "Wasn't me I swear. What's going on?"

"No no." Yoshi kept listening. "Something else. Quiet!" There was an alarm going off, from the direction of the Southern Mushroom Kingdom Hospital.

...

A notebook paper taped on the wall said: 'Cleanin' in progress. Come back soon, hear?'

Booigi ripped it off, balled it up, and ate it. They burped loudly. It was easily the least disgusting thing in the kitchen the boo had raided. Hospital food simply sucked.

"I told you nothing is fresh here. The microwave is our head chef," said Laki, the noki nurse Booigi had suspended from the spinning ceiling fan.

"Hmmm, maybe I should put you on the menu, heh heh heh." Booigi licked their lips.

The nurse strikingly remained calm before the psycho, though he was getting a bit dizzy by now. "You wouldn't like me I promise you, bud. Hey, there's something really tasty mounted on the wall of that hallway over there! It's the one with Jr. Troopa's name on the plaque."

Booigi eyed him skeptically but outside the kitchen the hall was lined with many knickknacks, photos of who they presumed to be staff and more. A large fish caught their eye, one Jr. Troopa won an award for fishing once, and it WAS mouth watering.

A few rooms away, Ludwig enjoyed his upgrade of scenery in the control room of the hospital. No one would think to look for him here and the cozy recliner- perhaps the one thousandth La-Z-boy down South lying around- was just perfect for the moment. The wall was lined with switches and blinking lights, also a sophisticated camera system displaying rooms of that building and a few other places around the South, the pub, a farm, a storehouse, and a random hottub, all vacated but equally suggesting things Ludwig didn't care to know. The VHS tapes lying around were labeled, 'Vick' so that narrowed it down. A note next to one stated that they needed to contact someone regarding Daisy. Something about requesting her health records. Plainly was the code to contact them on a kingdom to kingdom protocol.

Ludwig felt curious so he tried it on the satellite recover. His exact aim at the moment he didn't know but it just felt right. He'd eavesdropped about a situation at Daisy's Castle. Something that was uncovered curiously at the same time her servants went delirious. The time frame also corresponded with an event that happened to the dark boo that used to be their janitor, Zoo and he was still cripplingly guilty of bloodguilt for-

"Thank you for calling Daisy's Castle," a female answered eventually.

The koopaling cleared his throat, trying to focus once more. "Inform whoever it may concern that it is Prince Ludwig Von Koopa." The line cut, loud static stabbing the koopaling's eardrums. He winced while he waited.

"CHOP CHOP. THESE ARE BUSY TIMES OLD CHAP."

Ludwig's claws dug into the arm rests in excitement. That tone, combined with other clues he had.. "Are you the Dark Star's 'buddy' as Luigi put it? I do not have all the facts I admit, but I will be brief. Your power is scant and impotent compared to Eldstar and you should give up!"

"WHO DARE SPEAKS SUCH RUBBISH?"

"Ludwig Von Koopa. I see your receptionist is quite lousy at her job because I shared my credentials, but never mind. I created you but my temporary allies very soon will end you!"

"….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA….."

"...Are we still in contact?"

"OH, YES. YOU ARE MISTAKEN. YOU ARE FEATHERBRAINED. WE HAVE AS MUCH IN COMMON AS LIGHT AND DARK. HOW COULD YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU HAD SOME PART IN THE CREATION OF ONE OF US?"

"Because it happened! Zoo Diddley revived the other dark star from the Doom Reverb before he perished! Enough talk. Just know that I am rooting for your destruction. Why are you in Sarasaland anyway? Is someone there also cursed by you?"

"BY JOVE! I AM TIED TO NO MORTAL AND NEITHER IS SHE. SHE IS ONLY TOYING WITH YOU FOR FUN. I AM SURE OF IT."

"The other is a 'she'?" Ludwig repeated incredulously. "What is going on really?"

With some embarrassment it went, "I HAVE SAID ENOUGH, YOU BUGGER. NO MORE PRANK CALLS."

Ludwig caught a whiff of smoke and rose to his feet, away from the violently sparking radio. An alarm sounded and the video screens began to fizzle out. "I continue to be the reigning king at wrecking everything I touch.."

Ludwig moved too quick and agitated his wounds all over again. He winched and leaned against the wall for support. He wasn't far from the staircase going down but the elevator seemed more attractive and closer. He dashed in and rode it down. The door slid open and he found himself face to face with Jr. Troopa in a baggy night gown.

"Partner!" the teenager gasped. "You ruined my office and now I bet you've ruined my hospital!"

"Just doing what I'm best at." Ludwig was as apologetic as he was willing to do anything to escape. The prisons here weren't pleasant and the mouse problem was the least of it. He slipped past the head nurse and ran down the hall into what was the front lobby. The doors were chained from the outside. Jr. Troopa was making a fuss in the distance and getting closer. Ludwig launched himself through the window and rolled outside over the glass shards and into someone waiting for him.

Booigi sighed deeply. "I could have just phased you out of there idiot, but you-"

A jangle began to play, 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' and it seemed to resonate from Booigi's stomach.

There was a talking fish inside of them.

General Siwang put out his pipe while General Tao, Roar, and Yura stood behind him, their shoulders side by side at vastly different heights creating a treacherous staircase. Perfectly still and eyes glassed over, a touch of saliva dripping on the corners of their mouths, especially from Roar, they allowed the new general to reign free at complex controls capable of destroying a nation. Siwang hit a red blinking switch, sending a high speed blip on the radar screaming over the ocean before disappearing too far to hear the impact. He climbed out of the weapons bunker and into the open, leaving the native leaders in their suspended state for something more stimulating. If he was at his residing place galaxies away he'd be enjoying his entertainment system, sitcoms tapped from Earth's antennas, keeping a close eye on his 'neighbors' on the other side, and his favorite, influencing multifarious colonies to maim and murder each other over pathetic mortal issues. But he was here and not in the Dark Realm for a reason.

He'd carved out a spot in his life for someone special if only she'd hurry her games along. The general played with his ornate lighter, taking in the morning Sarasaland heat and thinking about a dumb little thing a mortal said to him repeatedly. He had to get it straightened out. The sun was rising behind the thick blanket of smoke in the sky which congregated and swirled around above him to rumble threateningly. The group of explorers working on a sphinx a mile away hid in their tents while natives fled to huts as Siwang fearlessly turned upwards in the windstorm.

"Love, if I did not hear some rubbish a few minutes ago! Here is what this lowlife Koopaling said..."

Minutes passed and the storm kept raging as the 'far reaching' story was carefully explained. Heated replies were given during which the bombshell koopa's fists balled tighter by the moment. Eventually-

"That's bollocks, utterly despicable! And you lied! All of this time and the pathetic creatures are still alive? You are quite horrible at the 'I must murder everyone who conceived me' thingaroo."

"…!" the storm replied spitefully.

"Yes, me and Eldstar are cousins! What's that to you? Ta ta. We're through. Over!"

Furious and face knotted up grotesquely, General Siwang's body particularized and broke down. The bombshell koopa was no more!

The storm reached tornado strengths before dying abruptly, the clouds reversing their course. A dark influence over the territory of Daisy's Castle was lifted. A minute later General Roar, the only general sober enough to find his way out of the bunker, found a pile of official clothing in the sand. The lion like creature found no familiar scent. Having a splitting headache he stumbled along in loose recently stirred sand before he reached the lip of the excavation site behind Daisy's Castle. He tumbled down. The workers in the pit would have assisted and more, what stories the nyololin, goombos, and pionpi and could share of the horrors of working for weeks straight brainwashed, but regardless they were rendered useless by exhaustion.

The Mario bros trucked on in sand filled boots as they reached somewhere. They passed under torch lit arches, the entrance of Dry Dry Outpost. The village tents and shops usually piled with sellers and patrons were closed up, a ghost town of clay buildings until they found someone crawling the streets as lost as them.

"Just my figgin-!" the young rugged goomba grumbled, retreating around the shop at the corner.

Mario and his brother followed in time to see the baddie take another turn down a narrow alley. They followed all the turns until they were exiting out the other side of the outpost. Back in the vast desert there was a single palm tree with an oasis and a fire lit with a hammer brother, lakitu, buzzy beetle, and a raven hugged up around it. The hammer brother in particular face palmed.

"Way to go ol' Rholand. We ask ye of one thing and you bring those Mario blokes to us!" Koopfred accused.

Rholand glared. "You kept crying for a warm blanket so I tried to get one. Okay?"

Mario discreetly acknowledged the signs that they were Bowser affiliated but refrained from seeming too intense too soon. "Felt like a good time for a camp fire? What's up?"

"We arn't important, but I'll tell you anyway. That mulish goomba is Rholand, the buzzy lass is Annie, the other lakitu lass is Lakimay, the ugly boid is Gus and I'm Koopfred. I was with Bowser for the least time before this effin' week. Blah! Know I was a foreigner in Neo Bowser city? Place's pretty diverse these days. I just wanted a good job-"

Mario nodded. "Right. But that's not where I was getting at-"

Koopfred returned to warming himself as the others were. "Like I said, arn't important now. Bowser's done for."

"Done for?" Luigi spoke up. "Doesn't he still have Peach?" He waited for an answer. "At least tell us where he might be!"

The group simultaneously pointed East. After the Mario bros distanced themselves so that the fire at the oasis was but a little flicker, Mario slowed down and checked his personal item bag. He retrieved the Jewel of the Stars, sparkling in the box

Luigi's heart skipped a beat. "Mario! Only Peach-"

He held one hand up to silence him. "I know. I'm not going to use it. I'm not going to even touch it again. But you really should."

"Enough of that. Why should I? There's something you're still holding back from me and I'm getting ticked off."

Mario closed up the box and tucked it under his arm. "I just want you to be prepared no matter what happens- Ow!" Mario went as Luigi got his free punch in anyway, right in his shoulder.

"Mario..." Luigi frowned at him.

Mario looked at him funny and gestured under his own nose. "Luigi, you got something.."

Luigi looked ahead dumbly, reaching for his face when Mario suddenly made him slap himself.

"Ha! Payback!" Mario snorted. "By the way, what did you pack in your bag? You haven't opened it yet."

Luigi let a smile creep back on him. "A telescope stand. You were supposed to bring the telescope. Dumbo."

...On the other side of the desert was a rat race. Bowser had never hustled so hard down what was eventually to be a paved street in pursuit of a phantom in the wind. He never thought his life easy in any way until he was where he was now, bereaved of his minions.

"We're still hot on it Boss!" Sentry 11's cloud soared high up for visuals. The markings of feet in the sand could not match any flat footed member of the Koopa Troop.

Bowser followed the princess's prints to the middle of nowhere. There was just sand and the cold, and sand and the moonlight and more sand. Wait. On no, he realized. The terrain was covering over itself and the prints were disappearing. Bowser stopped and caught his breath, dropping to his knees. Was Peach suffering like he was? He hoped somehow Mario's was double. He was startled by dark specks in the sand originating from the tears rolling down his old face. Wheezing, he tried to hold the rest back while others caught up. So much hate. He didn't want Peach anymore. Not worth it. He hated her. No he didn't. He hated Mario. Not entirely it either. He hated himself, manifesting as a pain deep in his bones.

"Boss, see this," Sentry 11 reported from ahead. He dropped something in front of Bowser, Peach's phone but cracked up like it had been stomped.

"...Why so destructive? This is a waste you know and this could have been recycled or something. I hate it." The room was in shambles but the perpetrator was proud of the various items, boards, props, and fabrics littering the backstage, most torn or beaten, some even burnt. On some one could recognize the words 'Mario Party'.

Bowser leaned against the door frame playing around on a green fancy gadget. Younger then his hair was vibrantly red and he was more in shape if top heavy, less enervated, kind of handsome. "You are too kind, moustache. We'll get brand new ones for the Mario Party sequel so stop complaining, cause people like seeing you and your idiot friends play minigames for stars. By the way. Here's my number. I just got it so don't blow it up alright? Get a stupid piece of paper out and write it down."…

"King Dad! I mean, Dad! I mean- Oh nooooooo..."

Bowser heard Lemmy's squeaky voice and felt the sensation of being shaken hard and tugged in several directions by several hands. The figures around him danced in and out of the scope of his blurry vision. He would finally listen to his son and give up.

...

Booigi hacked up the talking fish toy and smashed it to pieces. Only then was that song dissonantly upbeat not playing wherever they went.

"It was a catchy tune you must admit," Ludwig said. He peered out of the barn windows where they hid. It was precisely the same one the Special World Doctors were using hours ago. Almost of the equipment had been vacated. He turned back around to Booigi pacing around agitatedly. "Ah hem. Thank you for everything so far. The commotion certainly took my mind off of the darker times I've experienced, but now I am unhappy to inform you that I see flashlights over the hill."

Booigi paused and returned to pacing. "They come here, they'll regret it. No more being pushed around. No more.."

Ludwig knew he'd better get out of the fight that was sure to come. Glancing around, bales of hay lined the side walls and the back wall held plows and farm equipment and something the Special World Hospital doctors were too lazy to haul. He knew what to do.

Yoshi and Toad were the quickest and the first to reach the gate. There was a heavy bolt over it. Jr. Troopa remembered someone needed to grab a bolt cutter and left them. Daisy waited until he was out of earshot and then karate kicked the entire section of the gate down. 'Well that works too' Yoshi remarked. If he caught TriggerHappy McBoo and recaptured Ludwig that might impress Mario, he just had to make sure it was him getting the credit for it and not the tagalongs. Not Daisy, not Jr. Koopa, not Jelectro, not Kylie and especially not Toad. Juvenile and one sided as he knew it was, Toad had just then became his rival for Mario's attention. He wasn't sure what made that switch flip, but like usual lately he didn't know himself very well. Once the bad guys were captured Mario would never leave him out again he felt. Yoshi would probably seek therapy too for his rapid onset imposter syndrome..

Yoshi ignored what Jelectro was warning about just then and sprinted across the field to the barn. He boldly barged in with with bravest face. His brain only processed a white light before he felt the worst sensation he'd ever, like his body was turning inside out. He went numb and the view changed to that of the ceiling as he couldn't get up. He'd been blasted by the power of Eldstar..

Yoshi watched what happened play out like a movie. Daisy was next in with Toad judging by their legs whizzing past his snout. They seemed to pull some kind of improvised weapon off of the wall. There was a scream of agony followed by another. Yoshi squeezed his eyes shut when a molten hot piece of metal bounced right over him. Toad limply was the next object to fly over his head. Daisy tumbled on the ground violently by his side and groaned in pain. Click click click, went a camera. A bolt flew over and destroyed the door frame, making Kylie shriek and fall backwards. The next person Yoshi saw he didn't recognize except that he was the detective working with them for the last few minutes. The noki appeared in the spot torn by the blast and carried no weapon, instead he tilt his glasses down slightly. His eyes were completely white.

(Boo, why do you do this? Why do you join the dark side?) Jelectro channeled through.

Booigi growled furiously and teleported to him. Before he could move, the boo snatched him and began to squeeze the life out of him. (What's the point?)

(Mon ami, you must stop being this other violent person! This is not you.)

Booigi crushed him harder. (Something takes over me and- I just get so angry. Boo is..is a loser. Booigi is.. can do anything. I'm powerful. That's all I ever wanted.)

Yoshi could not understand the staring contest they seemed to be having, but if it gave him more time to regain control that was just as well. He would already wiggle his tail and his fingers..

(Is that really all you ever wanted?)

(Power is the best. No one has to like you then.)

(That is it then. You want to be liked. But you are if you'd listen and not run away.)

(But.. but...)

(Mon ami, being yourself is the most powerful thing you can do. I have humbly just learned that myself. Now ah... Enough.)

Yoshi watched the noki go limp in Booigi's grasp and used that as the time to spring back into action. The little boo would have no time to react to the swift kick Yoshi gave them. Their body was launched to the opposite side of the barn and through the large roll up door even. Yoshi followed to the back yard of the barn where Boo was dizzily climbing out of a hay stack.

That wasn't the most worrying thing he saw..

"Do you think all wishes to Eldstar come true?"

Luigi ignored his brother's question as they climbed up the next sand hill. They'd brought water so they hadn't passed out yet, but it also meant it was time for another bathroom break of his, awkward when there was no privacy. Luigi had Mario close his eyes and turn around, bringing him to times past of them exploring in the forest as long as they could before parents yelled at them.

He jumped as he heard Mario rushing over so excited he was bouncing around. "I got an alert from Snifit Patrol. Peach reached the hotline and he traced her location. She's waiting among ruins!"

"Dry Dry Ruins?"

"Ding! We have a winner!"

"I follow all of your adventures bro, even the ones I'm not on. Isn't that place hidden-"

"No, I uncovered it during said adventure. I thought you followed along."

"You go on so many who can keep up perfectly?"

"Speaking of which, what's the hold up?" Mario impatiently stopped, turned around, then quickly faced away. "Oops!"

"Oops you're right," the younger brother muttered unhumorously, still in the middle of that 'leak'. "I drink water regularly, unlike you.."

They soon ran in a slightly different direction, Mario guided by instincts he always had revisiting locations and a pulse stone app. In short time a large structure was in sight. He dashed inside the great ancient temple, lit at the entrance with eternally glowing orange lamps. When Luigi hit the steps, Mario was back out arm in arm with the Princess. Tears of joy mixed with other heavier emotions ran down from both. Luigi might have felt jealous in the past at a time like this but due to 'revelations' on this current adventure, he just couldn't..

"I'm sorry I let this happen-" Mario whispered to Peach.

"Mario, I'm sorry more..." they went on an on.

Luigi checked their six to find someone rolling his way in the dark. They were short, had tall hair and was a koopa. While Mario and Peach were occupied Luigi cautiously met the person. They were entirely pale, not a hint of fight in them, though this person in particular tended to never have that, even in the heat of their typical Castle and Fortress battles.

"Mr. Luigi, Mr. Mario, Dad has a final request to see the princess.." Lemmy announced.

Mario lifted his head up from the princess's shoulder, baffled. "First of all, No! Secondly, a final request?"

"I will do it," Peach replied resoundingly.

Mario spun from Lemmy to her then to his brother then to the completely black sky, jaw dropped...


To be continued!

Author's note: This is sort of a jumping off point for the weirdness. It'll get.. stranger. The title of this chapter was a lot more significant in an earlier draft of this chapter but I rewrote things at the very end and still loved the ominous title. Yeah, it'll be significant in the next chapter. Stay tuned.

Created: 8/18/19, 8/20, 8/21, 8/22, 8/23, 8/25, 8/26, 8/27, 8/28, 8/29, 9/2, 9/3, 9/4, 9/11

9/12, 9/13, 9/15, 9/16, 9/18, 9/23, 10/9, 11/3, 11/4, 11/6, 11/7, 11/9, 11/10, 11/12, 11/13, 11/14

Edited: 4/28/20, 6/22

Again: 1/1/21

Different, yet not. (No seriously not) 6/24/21