Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2 (Redux)
The New Mario and Bowser, part 2 (Chapter 18)
Disclaimer: Mario and co. belong to Nintendo.
Author note: Edited to reflect previous edits
"You're not serious are you?"
Peach slowly nodded, patting away the stream of tears. "I need to see Bowser. I owe him an explanation for something."
Mario held his arm out for her. "Let's go," he said tersely.
"Super! We were, uh, kind of holding Toadsworth hostage if you didn't comply.." Lemmy lead them a few dunes away, not even a mile. Everything was silent all along and Luigi was in the rear with bated breath. He was the last to spot Bowser laid face down in the sand while his family stood around eerily quiet as well, though the look on their faces did the talking for them. Toadsworth unrestrained promptly united with Mario and company as soon as they were in sight. Peach embraced him back but her eyes lingered on Bowser's motionless form, stepping closer.
"As I was trying to explain Bowser, Ludwig may have revived the Mushroom Flu but.. the twisted old rumors are true. I'm afraid to inform you it was originally born in a lab in the Mushroom Kingdom and carefully planted in your territory as a tool to force the Koopa Kingdom into submission."
Mario blinked twice. "-Peach?"
"Mario, let me finish. You might wonder why my father would conspire such and evil plot against the koopa race. I didn't understand then but I do now. For your sake Mario, I'll admit they were driven out at one point and I regrettably let it happen. This event however was too far even for me back then, tainted by hateful ideas. I used blackmail. Yes, if I didn't become the princess in charge much earlier than usual I would ruin father's reputation forever by revealing this devastating matter. It was so unprecedented for a lone princess to rule so young like that. To think I was- and still am to this day looked up do for that 'brave' responsibility. If only they knew.." She tilted her head down and covered half shamefully as Toadsworth detached from her.
"Preposterous!" he grumbled. "I've been in the Kingdom's service for so long I saw you in the nappies, princess. That is a slap in the face to the King AND your late mother. The reason- the laws- I don't agree with all the King did but..it wasn't that simple.." He sighed, reddened in the face and seeming guilty. "You understand don't you all?"
Luigi only shook his head.
Lemmy spun towards his family and found blank and confused faces. "Is what I'm hearing true?"
"There totally wasn't anything about the origins in Ludwig's case notes on Mushroom Flu." Iggy shrugged.
Kamek's gaze was fixed in a seemingly random direction. "Of course. That information isn't even a matter of public Mushroom Kingdom history. Not anymore at least. Lord Bowser and I back then regarded it as a freak pandemic in Dark Land. We always thought that rumor couldn't be true."
Mario took a deep breath. "Hate to say this, but, it's over now. Sorry you went though that but we need to get Peach home."
Bowser, lifeless until that point, opened his eyes rested them on Mario. Their gaze locked on for what felt like years. "Moustache, not so fast. Get over here."
Mario stepped up to him, arms crossed and boots at Bowser's snout. He waited for a prolonged moment he was sure Bowser was doing on purpose. "I'll humor you. This is still a surrender right?"
"Yeah I surrender, but I wanna be straight with you on something. Lay it all out. Give ya the truth for once."
Mario's head tilted to the side. "I find that hard to believe."
"You'd better. You aren't just any dumb plumber to me. No, I think about how much I can't stand you everyday. I use a poster of you as a dartboard. I enter your name as the computer rival in my kid's video-games. I thought about custom ordering a floor mat with your face on it. You're that other name I mumble in my sleep occasionl-alright all of the time. Aside from Peach. Quit that stupid smiling, I'm not done roasting you! I will reveal to you, only you what's gonna be my new job." Then he whispered. "I think I'll be a chef in a grill steak house..."
Mario let out the breath he'd been holding and laughed almost. "That? Go for it. You go through a lot you know. You deserve to be happy about something I.. guess," he admitted with a flush. He was stared down by Luigi and everyone else with dubiety.
Bowser then rose on his elbows, lively all of a sudden. "Stop hating. Oh, last thing. Fix your dumb hat."
Mario checked it as suggested. The cap he'd had as long as he'd remembered covered his unwashed brown hair just fine. The next thing he felt was something clamp tightly around his left ankle. Then- his heart skipped a beat.
"Got ya, moustache!"
Mario was flailed in the air by Bowser in a circle before he let go, launching him ten feet away. Mario earned a mouthful of sand and a chipped tooth when he landed face first. Who didn't love a fight at the end of an adventure? Exhilarated he faced around and zoned in on the flare in 'The Enemy's' eyes. Red met blue. The twisted frenemy feeling was euphoric, every moment of it. Lemmy or someone, Mario wasn't really paying attention, wailed about a 'Kingly Law' being violated as Bowser charged his way like a bullet bill. Mario grabbed Bowser by the horns before he got gored and together they stumbled all the way back until a palm tree stopped them, Mario wedging between Bowser and the tree. The plumber used all of the strength he had to prevent being impaled while maintaining eye contact the entire time.
"This is it Mario, no sequels! IT'S GONNA END HERE!"
"You had me going!" Mario flashed a pained smile.
Bowser punched at him, the strike missing and making the upper half of the tree crack in half and tether. "Your fault, pipes-for-brains. Like I ever give up! I'm insulted, I thought we were closer than that! Er, forget it."
The trunk snapped in half and the leaves went everywhere, covering Bowser as Mario rolled away. The plumber sprung up as the foliage erupted into Bowser's flames. "I know you never quit," Mario said to himself. "That's what I've always liked best about you.."
Luigi leaned up, unaware until that moment that he'd been knocked down in the commotion that followed. Bowser's league had everything happening obscured behind their bulky shells. Peach's cupped over her face. A slash at the plumber's face drew blood and in return a barefisted punch aimed at Bowser's mug knocked out a sharp tooth. The chaotic tumble, rough and unchoreographed galvanized all to keep up yet paralyzed them from intervening. Mario dodged another flame blast hot enough to melt the sand. With that they had a platform now for the fight, a glassy reflective one.
"Get him daddy! Get him!" Junior screeched, fists enthusiastically jutting in the air and unsure of what side was supposed to be on as the new king.
Peach felt the air grow colder. She twisted around to witness the stars black out hauntingly behind them. The miles of desert became darker. "Luigi!" She yanked him back and he tripped backward over her toes. "That thing is back and it still wants Bowser!" she cried.
Luigi shot up to retrieve the shoe box they'd carefully transported to the desert. His gloved fingers didn't prevent the painful zap from the spark. As he winced the jewel slipped from his grasp. Peach bent her body towards it and stared blankly. With so many trinkets she should have recognized The Jewel of the Stars, yet her feelings for it were like not unlike for her unpopular items in the back of her closet, IE. anything not pink. She didn't have a clue what to do with it.
"Careful Peach. As you just saw, messing with it can go about as smooth as alcohol and painkillers," Luigi told her very frankly.
Peach looked up at him, lips slightly parted as thunder cracked in the skies. It got louder as her hair blew. Luigi's too, then he felt sick. He'd been touching that jewel for too long.
...His older brother shakes him, screaming at his body slumping off the couch limply. How could he not, his reoccurring nightmares are reality. Another day after day after day of dread and anxiety and fear... So he chooses to not wake up that morning. His brother stops forcing him on adventures until some time later when something changes. Luigi begins to venture out on his own. The older brother never questions it.
…Peach is woken up early to meet a new guest and quickly dressed by her servants. A proper little pink dress with ribbons is fitted over her hair, messy until as a brush runs down it a dozen times. The five year old is taken down red carpeted steps next. Her uncomfortable black shoes tap the marble floors on the way to the front of the castle where a toad doctor she's never seen before awaits besides her father, the Mushroom King. The doctor has a purple cap and a black moustache. He pays respects while her father awaits a curtsy. Instead Peach asks what happened to Doctor Koopa, the previous doctor she took fancy to. They could talk about anything she could imagine to ask. Why was there something odd about the castle's paintings? How did blocks float? Why did they take issue with the Koopa Kingdom for no reason? Her lack of action deemed disrespectful, she gets a light rebuke and no explanation and later an indirect punishment that hurts her more than any harsh words can. The castle's library is found to be locked from that point on. Peach decidedly stops questioning. After all, if the simplest things don't have a reason what is the point?
...She is rescued again from Bowser and it's routine except for her hero for the day, the younger brother of the usual one. The stranger cradles her and carries her out of the crumbling Fortress. In the grassy field she sees sun setting and shouts joyously as he does. He is young physically yet matured by troubles in his past. He's sweet, his altruism unmistakable and Peach feels relaxed. He poses questions. Their exchanges flow freely, cordial and professional. Flirtation if any is surface level only, the precedent in their relationship from then on. Inevitably the more famous hero comes up. He explains that his brother's obsession stirs him into action. She begs for him to clarify. He stops speaking as a shooting star from East to West stretches across the sky frighteningly low it appears. He pulls her closer protectively when it returns, wrapping around the Earth for the second time. Then it stops before them and drops! They both fall backwards as the purple glow draws near. It burns their vision the closer it gets before the message comes through:
'~Do you know what that was? That was the vision...you get...before you die~'
"Why do you have that?" Yoshi demanded, taking a fighting stance.
"No closer, lizard," Ludwig held a dangerous looking wire that sprouted from the ground in one hand and behind him was a left behind infusion chamber that cured the sick earlier, with the appearance of some other kind of beast now that it was flipped horizontally. There were rocket like thrusters underneath. It seemed that's what the chamber always was, only modified later to have a more 'medical' purpose.
"You try something and I dare you!" Yoshi spat back.
Ludwig dared and plugged the wire into a panel on the chapter. Smoke poured out of it, dusting over the entire yard. There wasn't enough power. He coughed when Yoshi grabbed him and swung him aside, very effectively given his poor shape.
"Now I got you-"
"But not me." Boo rose, hovering ball of lightning at their finger tips. They shot it at Yoshi who ducked in time. The bolt clanged against the steel machine invented by Prof. X-Naut and it did not hold, the rivets popped out of place and the engine falling out. It became smothering heap of junk.
"No! You thwarted my escape!" Ludwig exclaimed nastily. "Curses, you darn dirty hero! How dare you double cross me and pretend to be my ally and scope out my plans and my hiding spots just to exemplify right now that you were on their side in actuality!"
Booigi, now Boo again stood nervously. "T-that's what I was doing?"
Yoshi slapped Ludwig across the face again for good measure, and then stood up again. "You were? If you were pretending to be a bad guy to trap Ludwig you are way over doing it Boo. WAY too hardcore. Beating us up wasn't necessary either, you know that right?"
Boo nodded. That's when they came to terms with... being chaotic neutral.
Hero and villain continued their skirmish, a swing of the tail here, a round kick there, a fire ball and a jet stream, unaware of what was developing. Disturbed, everyone scattered with no where to hide as the stars blacked out. They wanted to grab the rivals apart but nothing worked and Peach and Luigi remained on their backs and motionless, a hand clasped to each other. The clouds cried for blood and sonic waves beat down on the landscape. The countless dunes were toppled over by vicious quaking became a sand tsunami with a force strong enough to pull anyone down from the greatest to the least.
In the midst of the pandemonium something resembling intelligible voice forced itself upon any conscious enough to listen. "BOWSER! I MUST REWARD MY EMANCIPATOR AND ALL CONNECTED AND I MUST FINISH THIS NOW. WIPE THAT LOOK OFF OF YOUR FACE. I DON'T MAKE THE RULES."
Bowser, encased in sand up to his neck, picked his jaw up. Sand was falling from the sky like rain heavily and he knew this was bad even for someone as resilient as him. He only wished for two things then: to be embraced by someone he cared about and to beat Mario. Those wishes not only came true but blended disgustingly. Somewhat. Hate and love, so far apart on the spectrum for the person rushing to him, they'd met on the other side.
Human hands materialized around his spiked collar with a firm grip. "Ready? In 1, 2, 3- GO!"
Bowser was pulled upwards with a force nearly taking his head. "M-Mario?! I'm glad to see you! No I'm not! I mean- What the heck are you doing?"
"Whaddya think? I already dug up-" Mario proceeded to list off each person he'd found, a very strong tug following each name. He succeeded in bringing the top of Bowser's shoulder above ground for all of two seconds. It rained Earth that would soon make the koopa a head in the sand again. Bowser's eyelids were puffed up and red and he coughed, ingesting sand every moment. So weathered, so fatigued, so winded, it was gravely clear. Not even Mario could save him.
"Mario.. Mario! Just stop! STOP!" Bowser slumped down. "It's over. No tricks. Just leave me here before you get buried alive too."
Mario felt the wind knocked out of him harder than the fight they'd just had- or any fight- ever did to him. "...Bowser." He dropped down and embraced the rival, cautiously at first then he squeezed tighter, closer, taking in everything, the good and bad. "Don't say that. Ever. I'm supposed to pack this adventure up without you? You mean you're not gonna be the boss at the end of my next game?! We're not going to idly make threats over the phone while I'm on my couch as Koopra plays in the background and you're in your throne room with the door locked 'cause you're insecure about your minions hearing you? W-we're not gonna..?" he trailed off, feeling bassy rumble from Bowser's voice against his chest as he replied.
"That's how it is.." Bowser said in a bitterly. "Ain't you happy that I'll be out of your hair now?...You'll have Peach all for yourself. You want me dead. You finally freaking win, Mr. hero. Admit it."
Mario jolted somewhat. "I can't imagine you not being around. If you still doubt it.. I..." He debated what to reveal, perspicaciously knowing something coming ahead. "I chose this. I chose you. Listen, I will never leave you. Like you I'll never give up." Mario suddenly turned upwards at the sky in a very reserved way. "You heard me, Dark Star punk?!"
Mario shouting to the heavens? Bowser could never imagine himself that bold. Not at a time like this, so beaten down by life. At that moment, more than any of the many climatic fights they'd had over the decades, Mario seemed 'super' to Bowser. It was a weird feeling. He was bad, Mario was good. No room for compassion. This didn't compute, not the situation, not the fluttering in his stomach. He was often inclined to shy away from what he did not understand, but this was different. It was pleasant for once. This was the kind of thing he'd always wanted. Why did it have to take this long?
"THAT IS ENOUGH. QUITE ENOUGH. CUT IT OUT. YOU ARE MAKING ME SICK," the dark star boomed, hidden beside the frightful vortex in the sky.
Peach and Luigi rose up from their backs, out of the trance. The glow from the jewel in Peach's lap poured over them and restored sensibility. Disrupting Peach's inspired mission, her elbows begin to buckle, but Luigi's larger hands wrapped around hers and together they rose the jewel upwards. The clouds clashed as the invisible killer coiled up in preparation for its final attack. A black lightning bolt darted from the center to the storm's eye to the Earth as the blazing jewel rose above Luigi and Peach's temples, releasing white gleaming beam as wide as the area. It blasted into the sky, ripping a hole through the tempest. The only sound next was the thump of their heartbeats.
"Arr! We'd be off this island if we just ate Noki already. He messes everything up-"
BOOM! A star warrior fell onto a shaggy carpet, ears ringing. The television set blew up randomly a second ago. His eyes felt like they had meteor rock in them, his muscles were stiff, he'd made a deep imprint the couch, and he had a shaggy beard, all of this despite not having a physical manifestation at the moment. Geno as they called him in human terms, stumbled out of his home and onto the asteroid his docked airship on. Nebula 9 stretched above with purple ambient rays made silvery by the energy glimmer of his new visitor, a star that crashed into and snapped his electric pole. There went the TV series he'd gotten subscribed to recently, extremely addictive hits like 'Honeyhive Galaxy's Got Talent' and 'The Pianta Syndicate'.
Geno approached the small black colored star. She had white eyes and a bowler hat crooked innocently enough, yet dazed as he was he knew that something had blasted her into this dimension and it was his duty to investigate. Her very ancient looking shoulder bag frayed from the impact and strolled across the metallic rocky crystals that were the yard were her belongings, pearls from 200 AD, make up, and a wooden cigar box marked 'Zack'.
"How did you get here?"
Eyeing him up and down equally she laughed him off. "And who are you to instigate? Go back to watching reruns, loser!" She was blocked by a bubble around her, a force field. Spinning around to face Geno again with eyes flashing in anger she found him holding a glowing star rod.
"Instead Eldstar and the others will be hearing about your kind meddling in the Light World." Confidently Geno was already sending a message to the Star Temple. "Hello? This is (heart)(musicnote)!?. Wait, I'm speaking to voicemail?"
The message played out loud and clear but the Star Guardians were too busy enjoying season seventy of 'Noki's Island'. All seven were present and the curious black box Klevar installed a year prior had their attention. Cooped up in the den they were gratified in an empty and meaningless but self sustaining way that could last indefinitely.
All the while, the shield holding the dark star in developed faint cracks. A single star rod could only do so much. In acquiescence Geno got a hold of another friend for backup, a bit less reliable...
Back on Earth an area three football fields large had its topography turned upside down, dunes sheered down, dinosaur bones unearthed, and landmarks erased. Curious ones from Dry Dry Outpost stepped into another world upon investigation. There were mounds in the sand shaped vaguely like bodies and a scaly arm reached out of the ground and grabbed Rholand's leg. The goomba screamed and kicked as Wendy O. emerged from the spot, revealing herself to the ex-Koopa Troop members from the oasis that were curious over the great commotion.
"Oww, I'm alive!" she wailed back, coughing.
One by one people rose from the sand. There were the Koopalings, Kamek, Kammy, Sentry 11, Toadsworth, Peach, and lastly Luigi in what became a frenzy.
The younger brother's head seared from the headache so much he could hardly stand. "Where's Mario?!" he bellowed, interrupting the chatter from others when they realized that the more famous plumber and Bowser for that matter were unaccounted for. They searched around with woozy steps while the sentry zipped around in the sky, his cloud surviving the storm.
"Hey Boss! We found you.." reported Sentry 11 over an deep impression in the ground. He peered down it with his binoculars. "Oh.. Boss.. Y-you're dead.." he trailed off, binoculars falling out of his grasp.
Luigi and Lemmy dropped down the trench and uncovered the scorched ground around Mario and Bowser like their lives depended on it. They couldn't believe that lakitu at least, until they noticed neither hero or villain moving. Numbly Lemmy and Luigi faced each other, the deepest void residing in both of them. Both would have rather it been them to be honest.
"Kidnapping princesses is not all we did. The Koopa Troop initially helped with Neo Bowser City and you know how that changed the economy. Really most transgressive values come from us, specifically integration of friendly and enemy species. In short, things will be fine." Ludwig replied from the stage to a Toad Town representative snapping photos. It was the tenth question, predicted and rehearsed for in the one hour he'd had to prepare. The Koopaling jittered from the obscene amounts of coffee he'd guzzled. He hadn't slept since he was officially released from Southern Mushroom Kingdom custody.
"Is our princess really safe just because Bowser's dead?" someone interjected.
Ludwig gazed about trying to pinpoint the voice in the bereaved crowd of Mario's memorial service. It was an packed outside event in the Toad Town Park, the gloom contrasted with a sunny and beautiful sky. "The Princess is safe. The Troop's values have shifted, but I disagree when you state Vater, King Bowser I mean, is dead. He's not really. 'No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone's life is only the core of their actual existence.' So… Vater, excuse me Bowser, my father is not really gone. Vielen Dank." The once hardened Koopa Troop prince quickly excused himself from the platform and slipped behind the curtain before the tear had a chance to trickle.
The meeting kept going all morning, technically the same day and less than eight hours after the early morning incident. There were speeches given in Mario's honor, a few songs played all from the popular levels, and lots of sorrow.
Luigi meanwhile made breakfast after his lukewarm shower. It was mildly burnt, the way Mario would have done it. The death of his brother hadn't seemed real until he woke up. Maybe Luigi could have been quicker here or there, maybe it didn't matter. He knew what Mario saw when he touched the jewel. Did that mean Mario meant all along to- Luigi didn't let himself go there. He remained alone and cut off from the world, especially since his cellphone was still broken. But.. maybe he should start using Mario's cell now. He grabbed it off the nightstand in a surreal moment. That's what he'd want, the older brother hated electronic waste. He noted how perfectly repaired the World 3 warp pipe was in the backyard, bringing back memories he'd rather forget so left his and his brother's home to walk around Toad Town in plain clothes, black slacks and a white short sleeved shirt to clear his mind. Without Mario too much was carved out of his heart and he was a shell meandering about.
He reached a random Toad Town bench on a quiet block and tiredly sat on it.
"Do you know what that was?"
Luigi snapped back awake, having fallen asleep. "-What you see before you die?"
Ludwig stood well dressed with little hint of his poor shape yesterday. "If they get out of hand. You should see the political rallies in Dark Land. No actually I meant that Mario's memorial from the princess was clearly a peace proposal. I accept, I certainly don't want to kidnap your princess. She's not my type."
Luigi rose up. "You're getting away with walking down Toad Town streets," he said clinically. "We are living in different times now aren't we?"
"Indeed." The Koopaling offered a hand so they shook. It oddly assured Luigi in a way. "We are the new Mario and Bowser once things settle. Hear me, you have my deepest sympathies. Your brother gave me the hardest fights in castles and fortresses, along with you of course. He was a fearless leader and hero and I can respect that, even from the opposite side."
Luigi paused, shyly keeping focus on his boots. "Same for your dad. I never thought he was, like, a monster or anything. He was really determined to do what he set his life on and a lot of people can learn from that. He never gave up. Ever." He lifted his head. "That's where you got your determination from and I can see you'll be a good, uh, friend? Enemy?"
"Yeah that. What are you going to do now if you aren't interested in Peach?"
That seemed to catch Ludwig off guard, then he returned the grin if mischievously. "Executing my most daring plan, if you dare to learn about it."
Luigi's eyebrow raised.
There was a giant doomship planted square in a moo moo field near Southern Mushroom Kingdom but still in Toad Town. Undisturbed from the work they'd done all morning, the massive tragedy kept locals shut in their homes. Luigi got a bad feeling right away as there were several miles it seemed worth of tubing running from some suspiciously important looking sewer lines running into a black boxy object installed next to the airship. Luigi was so stunned he walked right into a pasturing moo moo and the cow won, bouncing the plumber backwards.
"I told Roy cow tipping was fake," remarked Iggy, going down a check list. Luigi watched another koopaling roll extra tubing supply into open fold up door behind the airship. Others were missing except Junior running around playing with a toy airship and making the buzzing noises with his mouth.
"Luigi, have your heard of the 'flutter effect'?" Ludwig asked, grabbing his attention. "The most seemingly unimportant thing can change life dramatically? Oh you didn't? Well it's flawed. The death of our beloved was orchestrated clearly by a higher power, the Dark Star and so we will undo it utterly. I will not except anything less."
Luigi felt a pit in his stomach. Something about the sparkle in the prince's blue eyes.. "How."
"If something unorthodox started this affair something equally as unconventional should fix it." Beaming as bright as the sun Ludwig marched before one of many random shapes cut very cleanly and intricately in the high grass.
"The heck? What is this? I'll save you time. Quit whatever you're doing!"
"Luigi Mario? Dare you speak authoritatively?" Ludwig had his back against a large black mysterious object. The thing gave off a hum and Luigi could feel the tickle of electricity on his exposed arms. "The plan will commence regardless of your opinion. Deal with it, plumber."
Luigi met eye to eye with the koopaling. "Guess what? I want you to try!" He roughly grabbed Ludwig by the collar of his fancy blue blazer, also aggravating a sore spot by the way he winched.
Ludwig smirked regardless. "You are the Mario and I am the Bowser after all!"
To be continued!
Author note: Uh, yeah. Not so over is it?
Created: 8/29/19, 8/30, 9/2, 9/4, 9/8, 9/10, 9/11, 9/12, 9/13, 9/15, 9/16, 9/17, 9/18, 9/22, 9/23 -Rewritten from this point on. 11/15/19, 11/17, 11/19, 11/20, 11/22, 11/24, 11/26
Edit: 4/29/20, 6/23
Regarding Ludwig's quote, 'sauce' below:
"No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone's life is only the core of their actual existence." ― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man