Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever Redux
Luigi's Awesomely Ambivalent Allegory (Chapter 19)
Disclaimer: Mario and co belong to Nintendo.
Author note: *See bottom notes* The ensemble meets Twilight Zone!
The realms afar had no choir for the great fallen hero. Everything was quiet for the star warrior planted firmly in place to guard the dark star in her entrapment. With no response to his distress call yet, Geno was trapped also in a way, stuck in an uncomfortable stalemate because she was shrewd enough to not enlighten him in any way regarding her purpose.
"Getting tired?" she purred.
A loud and staticky but benign pop went off behind Geno, the five hundredth and twenty-seventh phantasm to try to catch him off guard. He'd counted. "Cease that, please." Next he thought was the five hundredth and twenty-eighth as his shadow grew from a new light source. Her tricks were getting better, he thought. This time he could feel the heat and smell the embers-
WHAM! The celestial bodies above became white streaks across the sky while the planetoid was jettisoned out of orbit. It careened into the neighboring Good Egg galaxy and bounced around like a ping pong ball before finally resting into a slow spin near Pear planet. Geno lifted furniture and scraps of debris off him. There was a deep fissure in the land taking half of his house down with it. TV? Gone. Precious jar of frog coins? Gone. Geno was conscious enough to spot the object responsible for the impact. See! Alive, glowing, radiant! The Millennium Star then swooped down like a pidgit beside Geno to land with a frightening thud.
"Ho-ho-ho, I rushed here when I received your message. Is Eld really absent?"
Geno quickly shook himself awake. "Y-yeah I'm not sure what's going on but thanks for just showing up buddy! Help me find where.. she went!" He gestured in the general area where the bubble used to be.
With a distorted cackle, a ripple of dark mater rolled over the jagged boulders and pebbles on the edge of the fissure and rose into the atmosphere to escape. Millennium Star sent a beam of light but the two forces missed completely and then proceeded to blast part some other unfortunate planet miles away.
"I'll handle the crafty she-devil. You check on Great Eld." Mill. Star flailed into action and Geno respected the older star's orders, heading to the Star Temple.
Luigi parked the Mach bike farther than usual and flinched at seeing Peach's neat hedges flattened by a large tractor and other big company trucks. He didn't recognize any faces to the toads wandering around with florescent hard hats so he weaved around them, including the contractors inspecting where there the stone moat was chopped in half. He made the seven foot leap to the other side uneventfully, almost like the good old days, until he feet splashed in the water flowing from under the door. He rushed in with the mat key and discovered a water stream from the stairs to the mezzanine to the check-board tiles and an inch up on his boots. He could even hear the clanging of the leaking pipes. He knew two days ago Friday the castle crashed down from the sky, but there seemed to be zero restoration progress indoors. The lights were out and trash littered the floor. Peach's stained-glass portrait from the balcony was even shattered and the pieces crunched under his feet.
Now that was sacrilege.
"Is anyone home?"
The second floor's door was gently pushed open by Peach. Hair down, she wore an unanticipated light grey simple dress with matching rubber rain boots. "Everyone else left me alone here, just join them."
Luigi slowly met her on the stairs. "What? What happened? Where are your toads?"
"There was a great fit all morning! I confessed to ALL of the toads about my mistake and that went quite.. unwell. But worse Toadsworth went deranged. That was it, I broke him, Luigi! He wanted nothing to do with the castle and the toads followed his course of leave, even secretary Toad Toad."
Luigi pulled her in close embrace. He felt gentle tremors from her as she wepted into his shoulder. "The Koopalings are still in town trying to cause trouble, that's why I'm here. I mean, who else will stop it? If you're not up for an epilogue to an adventure no one asked for, I don't blame you." They pulled apart a little so that he held her arms.
Peach's expression eased. "You just sounded like your brother." She squeezed his hands tighter with a weak smile. "I think.. I want to help."
Toad Town had nothing going on, at least down town, with stale air. Everything including the Post Office was closed and they didn't even pass a Mushroom Bus. Luigi spotted in the corners of his vision the periodic mementos of his brother posted up as banners on buildings, "In Memory Of.." ect. His hands were quivering on the handle bars and feeling the panic attack coming on, he look for an excuse for a short break. He found one. Outside the Toadley Clinic the doctor's assistant was dragging a lab table to the sidewalk's edge.
"Will I move out of town? Yes I will," Dr. Toadley explained to Luigi and Peach, arms tucked into the thick fur lined coat he wore. Birdley was perched on his left shoulder placidly.
"Prof. E. Gadd offered a small workshop in Boo Woods," his assistant added in a succinct but cordial way. "The square footage would not accommodate the doctor's outdated- ah hem- vintage instruments. (Thank goodness!)" Constantly moving until that point, she dropped her hot pink colored bags next to the compact little car with a psychedelic custom paint job. "Oh, and sorry about Mario," she tacked on, blushing. "Umm. He was really cool and- I was in the fan club when I still studied in college. For a bit, those people were nuts. Anyway great guy. We'll miss him."
The many acres of flat territory south of Toad Town but before the official southern boarder and into more desert like conditions was an area was known as 'Area 64'. In the past Shroobs landed there according to legend. Luigi stopped next to the big object covered in black tarp with the thick wires. When Peach stepped close strings of her hair stood up on their own. She decidedly did not peek under the cover.
Luigi scanned around. It was so flat he could see for miles. Miles with zero Koopa activity. "We missed them."
"No no. We still have the airship dear, and Ludwig stows notes there assuming Junior doesn't doodle on the backs and loses them, or if Larry hasn't hid them to sabotage his plans. In that case we need to check the bathroom also, in the medicine cabinet. Iggy's cell phone should be simple to discover for clues, not that he's politically inclined, but he adores science and methodical nature of schemes and he lets his phone drain to seven percent before he panics and keeps it glued to the charger. Wendy's room might be worth checking out because I know she's secretly interested in her brother's plans and will xerox papers and blueprints... Luigi?" Tapping her rain boot impatiently, Peach stood at the airship's inner hatch. "Shall we enter? -And, don't look at me like I should not know those things. I have spent a percentage of my life I don't want to calculate as Bowser's captive."
They made their way in. A wave of dust and must burned Luigi's nostrils while Peach was unbothered. The squeaks of their shoes went along with the squeaks of the mouser infestation. Luigi followed Peach wind through all sorts of things he never knew was in an airship, like laundry room. They went up creaky spiral steps to the captain's quarters. Peach zoned to Iggy's phone on the charger and swiped the passcode. With a flush sat it back down gently and shook her head. Luigi went the table of darkened cast steel. There were maps of territories rolled out and kept flat with rocks along with a feather pen fossilized in place. Dark Land must have looked very different before he and Mario entered the Mushroom World. Half of the kingdom was just swamp land at some point. The drawer under the table was empty. The pushed in ragged antique chair had the imprint to suggest that it was Bowser's but it was pale with dust also, untouched.
"Ludwig must be keeping all of the plans on himself personally," Luigi admitted.
They went back out to see something coming from Toad Town. The silver patrol car had its flashers and siren on, contrasting with its leisurely cruise off road and into the field with them. It stopped and Yoshi got out from the passenger door, wearing a pressed army green ranger hat and a belt.
There was a flash of strong emotion on his face before everything flattened. "You aren't authorized to be here."
"Yoshi, we were- Ludwig is trying to-"
The driver's side window rolled down, revealing Captain Toad. "We're aware of strange activity Mr. Luigi."
"Stan? You're a cop too?"
"It's Captain Toad."
The spark of familiarity was missing, like he didn't know Stan any more. That wasn't right and the princess beside him picked up on it as well.
Peach's fingers curled into Luigi's as Yoshi with some reservation, fiddled with the objects on his belt. Standard issue for law enforcement there was a flashlight, a radio, and handcuffs!
"Heeeey!" Yoshi called as Peach and Luigi sprinted to the Mach Bike to escape down the road. Dust was kicked in his face and the hat blown off his noggin as a car also zoomed past him, The Captain in the cruiser for a chase. Yoshi sighed in annoyance as the vehicle became a smaller object in the distance. He was certain he and the toad both agreed that Yoshi would call the orders. Right after Mario's memorial swore to be Toad Town's defender against the Bowser 2.0s of the world, especially with Peach in hiding and Luigi who was missing. The Captain with his odd demeanor suddenly wedged into Yoshi's plans at the last minute. Now Yoshi was alone with doom ship, the object under the tarp, and no backup.
The dinosaur approached the tarp, braving the ticklish feeling over his green skin. He yanked it off bracing himself. The machine resembled a punch card computer, twice as tall as him and five times as wide with spinning wheels visible from slits near the top. Plastic panels wrapped around the metal was salmon colored and directly opposite of the tubing he could see where something would connect with a massive power plug. Yoshi made his mental notes and then continued on to his next task of securing the area from bystanders. If he just kept busy...Rumor said, something big was imminent.
Luigi's bike veered through a narrow gap in between two old country fences, barging in someone's backyard and disturbing their chickens. Clucks and caws and cuckoos ensued as they embraced the Southern territory with open arms filled with feathers, Mt. Rugged poking up from the horizon in the distance. Luigi was subconsciously guided towards the southern hospital, the only landmark he knew. He banged on the locked door of the ranch styled western building. Peach joined him with delicate fists replicating the rapping.
"Be patient, y'hear?" Probabilly snapped before he saw who they were. His face softened but he said nothing. The parakoopa janitor stepped up onto the porch with a heavy bundle of keys in hand. Just when inserting the key-
Jr. Troopa's pale face peeked through the shutters on the door before they shut tightly. "Don't grant 'em in Bill! I just can't help no one today.. T-too painful. I should of been nicer to Mario! I'm sorry! I should of!" he cried from the other side.
Probabilly glanced back at the plumber and princess in both sympathy and in confirmation that he had to obey and couldn't do them a favor.
"Now what?" Luigi begged as they were back in the middle of the South's dirt streets.
Acutely Peach spotted a dark open barn sure to be filled with tools and blunt objects and saws. "We go there and defend ourselves."
Luigi's jaw dropped momentarily. "Peach. Wow. Okay, let's do this."
They scurried across the plot to there, tripping over some of the Mecha-Yoshis lined up against the wall, deactivated but still sporting red glowing eyes. Countless mechanical parts from vehicles, computers, farm equipment, and radios were in rusty piles all through the loosely organized room.
"Bother some other vermin...Junior. It's my break time." someone slurred. Only Vick's tall ten-gallon hat was visible from the gamery computer chair turned backwards.
The patooie plant's multi-monitor setup displayed a plethora of sitcoms and television programs, curiously some galactic only channels as well. Jolly Roger Bay Watch was the biggest screen and despite both hating that show, Luigi and Peach felt a strange near hypnotic effect drawing them in. That was broken however when they heard a car pull up outside. They scampered behind metal oil drums as Captain Toad invited himself in. Finally able to see him completely, he was dressed like a little ranger with a valiant fixed expression. Their hearts thumped with greater intensity when his lamp went on full blast and swept the cluttered barn's interior. It was then when Peach's fingers walked over to a heavy spanner, she guessed, in the dark. She grabbed it then-
"Identify!" Mecha-Yoshi #7 blared very loudly. Peach dropped the weapon, Vick fell out of his computer chair and The Captain got a single glance at it before the robotic dino tail smacked him. The toad was knocked against the other side of the shed. The Mecha-Yoshi sniffed the air with a childlike twist of its neck then unleashed a pink expandable tongue on the toad. It uttered an electronically distorted "YOSHI!" as he was swallowed whole. Luigi crawled from around their hiding place. Peach was instantly tugging on him and leading out.
"I'll handle this y'all," was the half awake drawl of Vick as they were leaving.
Outside they had a new getaway option with the key in the ignition ready to go.
...Yoshi completed this blockage across the street that went from Toad Town to Area 64, hay bales no car could cross unless extremely determined. Finally he saw The Captain returning with their expensive rented patrol car. It was about time. Yoshi leaned down into the tinted window as it rolled down and- Wham! Luigi punched him and he flew backwards seeing stars. Next he knew he was staring at the sky and then an angry princess.
"Explain dear friend why you chased us from here!" Peach yelled before she caught herself. Flushing mildy, she continued in a more normal tone, "Do not forget who I am. I expect answers."
Yoshi sighed deeply. "What is there to explain? Don't you know?" It seemed she didn't so the dinosaur's lips pursed. "..Well you'd know if you showed up at Mario's memorial."
"I was present...incognito." She stepped back. "I could not sit through the entire thing."
The dinosaur leaned up from his back. "..Point is, you missed what we all agreed on at the very end. Someone had to take the mantle of hero of your Kingdom, if you even still care."
Luigi opened the door and got out. "Of course she cares!"
Yoshi turned to his general direction. "Where were you when all of your brother's best friends were bawling their eyes out this morning? Because I was there, same way I was for h-him- I was for-!" He wiped his eyes, still trained on the plumber's boots. "Luigi.. Where were you? I needed you! You know I loved Mario," he squeaked.
"I know." Luigi gently closed the car door and approached, wrapping his arms around Yoshi. "I know," he repeated, voice wavering. "Without Mario I don't know my up from my down but look at me! I'm here anyway and we can't- Like you said we can't stop. We can't let Ludwig's next crazy scheme work. Okay?"
Yoshi nodded, face red. He became composed just as quickly as he cracked apart. "Okay. What do you think of that?"
Luigi then, peering over Yoshi's shoulder, noted the machine that Yoshi had uncovered earlier. It was familiar except something was blocking full recognition from his mind. He raised an eyebrow at the princess which flipped a switch for her.
Peach cupped her hands over her mouth. "Why would the koopas revive the Timulator?!"
After moping around in a rocking chair and delaying as long as he could, Jr. Troopa would have to stop feeling bad about himself and fulfill his role as head nurse. He knew Mario's tragedy couldn't be an excuse no matter how devastated he was. The fresh out of high-school koopa just hated he had to face that adult reality in this way, regarding someone so instrumental in his life. He dragged his feet to his secretary's hideout with some caution. Unlike Piranha Plant leaves, his feet were susceptible to spare nails haphazardly left on the shop floor. Tripping over a Mecha-Yoshi's disembodied head in the middle of the shop, he gasped. He dashed to the nearest switch to light up the shop. The robotic torso had the abdomen area busted open from the inside, colorful wires hanging out like spaghetti. Jr. Troopa made another mad dash to the computer chair when he almost slipped in a semi clear liquid.
He yanked the chair around his way. His buddy Vick was slumped back into the seat motionlessly with his green vine like neck half severed and his tongue dangling out of his mouth. His green sap pooled on the floor, chair and desk. Next to the monitors still displaying sitcoms was someone's rugged travel backpack. A note tacked on it stated in neat hand writing:
'Didn't want it to weigh me down.. -The Captain.'
"Guys. Something at six o' clock!" Yoshi dove down into the grass.
Approaching opposite of the bunkers leading to Toad Town were the entire catalog of Bowser baddies in military file, koopas, hammer bros, goombas, dry bones, boos, thwomps, and more. Luigi ordered for her to get out dodge, anticipating a battle. Peach retreated into the doomship, hiding in a secret closet and watched through the crack in the door. To her horror, the airship was their destination. She watched as Bowser's desk became covered with thorny native Dark Land flowers in a form of a memorial service.
Back outside, a different wave was approaching from Toad Town, all dressed a particular way. Having destroyed the Toad Town message board's servers since that morning, this group a few hundred members strong planned to raid Area 64 and uncover the truth. A Dark Land air cruiser parked before them confirmed their conspiracy theories to the point of starting a frenzy. Luigi realized that their presence was all but invisible to both parties so he used the uproar of the cult like group to take some action against the dangerous machine. Mind splitting into many directions, he kept it simple. He went for the cord.
"Don't do that Luigi Mario. Those lines aren't isolated and electricity hurts."
Luigi goofily reeled back into Ludwig. "Where were you?"
The Koopaling had tucked under his arm a miniature plastic four stringed guitar with a sticker attached stating '4000 tickets'. His siblings had carnival bags with them with candies, Wendy held a stuffed dino rhino, and Junior a cotton candy tower, Lemmy a new ball. "Good question. Biding time until the Mario fanatics and the old Koopa Troop met in this location. It is the art of obfuscation, Luigi Mario. Where would we be without Larry's dazzling fireworks and shapes in the grass catching the attention of Toad Town?" Ludwig's eyes twinkled at Luigi's bewilderment. "You didn't take the time to examine the more spectacular geometric entities a mile down? Like the N64 logo?"
"I busted my butt getting 'em right!" Larry remarked.
"They're beautiful," Luigi replied impatiently. "How else did you arrange all this?"
"Iggy discovered how weak the infrastructure was in the city so with our manufactured spectacles combined with the major news of our beloved ones perishing, the onslaught of activity would make the web overload. Try to log on to the message boards. 404. No news of anything in town!"
"Nothing was happening in town for real."
"Exactly. The perception of a lack of eventfulness ensured uneventfulness. With that lethargic state of townspeople, we worked unhindered for hours. Not even any reporters doing their 'snooping' thing."
Luigi's fists balled up against eight koopas. "Don't think that because it's just me now, you can do whatever you want. You got this far, but now it ends." The plumber shocked the whole family by flinging his boot against the machine. Clang! And a dent was created in the metal.
"Noooo, Luigi-sama don't!" Iggy flung himself in front of Luigi's toes and wrapped his body around his legs. "It took Twenty-four straight hours- totally more difficult than how I got into college early at twelve to get us here! I even worked overtime to fix the backup Wacky Watch before breakfast. The super sensitive quartz crystals will help take three of us to last Friday May 17 2019 and you can't just... Oops I think I wasn't supposed to reveal that!"
Luigi tried and failed to shake him off his toes. "What did I just hear?" He sputtered as Morton and Roy together hauled a cramped looking capsule into place at Ludwig's direction. It was silver like a pod with a large glass front and connected to the Timulator's plug. Now the puzzle was coming together.
"Listen Luigi," Larry spoke up. "Iggy, stop making a fool of yourself. Anyway plumber, we ain't or at least I ain't your enemy anymore. You need to let this scheme or whatever work. We may can fix stuff, just you see aight?"
Lemmy kept digging his foot in the ground anxiously like he was in his own world. He slipped on a comically large and bright gaudy helmet, the kind one might wear to get shot out of a cannon in a circus and entered the pod.
Junior kept swinging his toy airship in the air, occupied with some imaginary bomb raid. "When will daddy get back from his vacation in the sky?" he asked suddenly.
Wendy and Larry flushed, their expression begging Luigi to not explain what really happen to their dad. And that was the last piece of the puzzle Luigi needed to understand what was going on. Now the problem was that the situation was escalating exponentially.
Inside the airship: Tanner was the last to leave his contribution on Bowser's desk, ice flowers from Sky Land. "I swear I'm not mad at you Bowser, wherever you are right now. Not even your failed love life Princess Peach, who I know is hiding back there. Hi Peach."
Dazzled, Peach ignominiously stepped out from hiding and before the pungent mound of flora on the old desk. Tanner's helmet was removed and she noticed only then how young he looked.
"I'm sorry you lost your King," she felt compelled to say.
"Don't feel compelled to say that."
"How do you keep-" she started.
"-Have some respect for Boss, you quitin' punk," Sentry 11 growled from out of sight.
Peach didn't know where that creep stowed himself nor wanted to. There was a disturbance outside then. She wiped away the smudges on a cloudy port window and felt her knees buckle- it was Mario! And Mario again... Myriads of effigies. She staggered out of the ship just in time for a group of the Mario Fan Club to swallow her up and dump her at the front lines of the screaming match with the Bowser baddies on premise. The Koopa Troop assumed that the Mario Fans were attempting to dececrate the last remaining Doomship, while the Mario fans assumed the Koopa Troop had some sort of conspiracy going on. Without of signature pink dress no one gave her a second glance. She desperately crowd surfed over them until strong hands carried her away from the commotion.
"Peach, there you are!"
"Luigi, I feel faint!"
"You think?!" he replied, hurrying her along despite her protests. "They fixed the Timulator somehow. Come on!"
He dragged her in time in time to see the glass hatch of the pod closed down. Iggy, Lemmy, and Ludwig were inside and each had a zone to cover inside the Timulator pod. Lemmy's was the wheel, Iggy had a punch panel, and Ludwig had a florescent little radar screen. The others were farther away and low to the ground except for Junior.
"Ten, nine, uhhhhh what's next.." Bowser Junior counted down, hand hovering over a button. The older siblings were behind him taking cover in a hastily dug trench.
"Stop right there Junior!" Luigi ordered.
"Threeeleventwenty-fourone! Blast off!" Bowser Junior smacked a big red button. Timulator emitted a shrill zap noise and everyone smelt burnt grass. Ludwig nearly burst a vessel as someone forgot to plug the darn capsule in.
The glass hatch of the pod opened with swoosh from the pressurized air. "This will surely make me pass out from agony, so keep off the throttle until one of you can toss by body in the pod. Understood?" the commander announced. Luigi grabbed his arm inches away from the plug. Ludwig shrugged and used his opposite appendage to reach for the humming buzzing power line. Instantly Luigi let go or he was going to be part of the super-charged circuits.
"You're crazy!" Luigi exclaimed.
Ludwig flashed him a sly smile. "Accurate take, Luigi Mario. Now-" He connected the plugs. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Luigi and the others were knocked backwards while the Timulator v.2 roared to life so climatically it finally attracted the attention of the Mario Fan club and the Koopa Troop. They stood and watched in awe then went back to fighting, the rivalry of the two groups almost matching those they worshiped. With so much power a swirling portal was ripped into the Earth. The pod's open hatch was ripped away and sucked into the portal. Underneath the roar of the passage into the unknown, Lemmy and Iggy screamed their heads off, their restraints the only thing holding them in from the forces.
Flat on his back Luigi craned his neck up from the short distance away he'd been tossed. Like they were in the eye of a storm, a thick swirling haze surrounded the immediate area he was in around the Timulator. He strained to see a figure, the princess standing upright despite it all and gliding towards the portal. He called her desperately but he couldn't even hear himself.
Ludwig's muscles were locked up, almost incapable of anything but continuing to feed power into the machine with the wires in his hands. Almost. "AAAAAHHHH SSOOOMMEEOOONNEE STOOOPPP HEERRRRR!" he said as the portal hungrily devoured the princess, snatching her right out of their world.
Luigi sprung into the pod with Lemmy and Iggy, taking Ludwig's spot. "After her!"
"Luigi! Get out of that! Call everything off!" someone said. With a bright beam, Yoshi cut through the fog and entered the vortex. The dinosaur froze, jaw dropped at that portal. Captain Toad was just then at his side. Without his backpack the toad made an acrobatic leap over the portal, bounced off of the pod exterior and landed at the rear of the Timulator near the electronics-
"Ludwig, you are aware I never let a crook get away." Captain Toad then slung his pickaxe like a tomahawk.
Ludwig tilted his neck down at the blade impaling his lower chest. Dark red blood dripped from the puncture to the ground. In all of his research he regretted not studying mortality and just how quickly it slipped away more in depth. As his claws grew numb and his skin colder, Ludwig hallucinated 'Vater' alive and proud standing beside him telling him to handle it how he would. How would Bowser do it? By screwing it up- on purpose. With his limited movement Ludwig misaligned the two plugs to create a catastrophic short. Thousands of decibels made Timulator go up in thick smoke as it ejected the pod and the three currently in it into the portal. The gateway satisfied, it collapsed on itself and 'borrowed' a little piece of reality with it.
Luigi, Lemmy, and Iggy's pod soared through the solar system for thousands of miles without any shielding. The positive g-forces affected Luigi the hardest as he was not in any restraints. Shortly before the first impact he blacked out. They collided with a dusty purple planetoid in a cube shape and then an orange planet the shape of a convex icosahedron. The wheel in Lemmy's hands broke loose and patch panels showered Iggy. Another larger impact with an asteroid made Iggy's face bang into the thick cathode tube of the radar, knocking him unconscious as he lacked a helmet like Lemmy. Lemmy squeezed his eyes shut from the dark five pointed shape hanging in space they were traveling uncontrollably towards. The astronomical entity was completely blotted out, darker than blackness around it, and its points stretched out farther than observable. Just under the sound of his heart, Lemmy heard a bang and then he felt their pod break up. He thought yesterday would be the last time he wished for death. He was wrong.
Kylie Koopa slammed down the landline and sprung out of her cubicle. The 'curfew' should have been over by now and the news had to get out, her knowledge like a dam ready to burst but held back by the doors of the Mushroom Press being locked. She knocked vexingly on the glass while glaring at her boss on the other side on the sidewalk. He looked vacant and the pupils of his eyes had an unusual shape. "Steve, this ain't funny!"
With no response, her left eyelid twitched, as upset at him as she was herself. If she'd not foolishly listened Snifit Patrol and went home, promised nothing else exciting was going to happen that night, she would not have missed the arrival of the princess back into the Kingdom and the announcement of Mario passing. What a shock in her system. Could she remain unemotional enough to even write about it? Today was entirely different world where the Toad Town message boards were down and it felt like everyone including Steve was replaced with a look-a-like. She took a deep breath and went back to the paper press where she'd been filing away at the lock on the backdoor. Doing this on and off again her arm ached but she was jazzed when the heavy detached padlock finally fell into her lap. She pressed the door open quietly and checked the back lot of the press for anyone. She had a dupe key to Steve's old newscaster truck and sped off on empty streets to Peach's Castle.
"Nope. Left with the green one an hour ago," a contractor told her. Tall and homely under his hard hat, he was definitely not a sprightly castle toad. "The others before even that."
Kylie cranked the window all the way down. "You talking about her toads, brother? Think the message boards will be up soon?"
He shrugged. She tried Hotel Mario for the toads. The goomba at the counter after offering star quartz bracelets informed her that no toads were staying there. Gee whiz, she thought, she was a reporter and not a detective. Then she snapped her fingers. Shy Guy's toy box, or rather the unmarked house in East Toad Town containing the portal there was locked up. That went nowhere. One last option. She heard the distant horn of K64 traveling on the train tracks and had to wait for it to pass to get to Pleasant Path. Nothing was going right! Finally she was free to race to Mitch's condo.
"Use my mat key," he communicated.
Kylie kicked his mat over for it. Everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom need to stop being so predicable with that trick. It could lead to theft, she thought.
"-Something close enough. They tore the place up for info but didn't hurt me. Well, the pink boo wanted to, sick freak playing it off like it's an interrogation technique..."
Kylie felt her stomach flip. Her co-worker's home was rummaged and his nice things, odd trinkets collected from distant kingdoms, signed photos from celebrities, dining room set, and designer clothes were tossed around like a tornado. With some slight discoloration on his exposed skin hinting at a fight despite the story he'd just told, Mitch leaned against the back of his couch.
"Mitch. Gosh, brother.." she grimaced. "What else."
"And they took my wheelchair," he mumbled.
"Ablest little.. Let's go." Kylie swung the keys on her finger. "Oh snap. This means I have to carry around your sorry butt.."
'Pinks, reds, blues, greens, and purples. See! There you go! Ho-ho-ho'
~No. NO! My call resonated already. Your antics only drag the inevitable, sweetheart..~
The dark and light cosmic entities warred again.
Luigi eyes snapped open. His head ached fiercely. There were sparkles all around before he blinked again and discovered himself on a lumpy bed inside a dim one roomed cabin. He tossed off the covers to find the arm of a snoring person slung around his torso. He shrieked, sending Iggy out the bed with a thump on the wooden floors.
Lemmy barged through the door and buzzed about the room like he knew the place. He removed helmet and made it clink on the wooden boards. "Oh my gosh I'm alive!.. Oww I landed on the roof but- Okay. Okay. Focus. We missed our past selves so come on!" told them frantically.
Iggy hopped up and fixed his crooked glasses. "Hahahaha yep, this is Zoo Diddley's house! Hahaha there's the junk in the corner Luddy knocked you into. Hahaha- uh hey, h-he didn't make it did he? Actually, I can't remember the last five minutes so it doesn't have to count I guess! Bazinga!"
Luigi grabbed his arm before he slipped out. There was only one clear thought in his head. "The princess went through the portal! The princess!"
"Luigi.." She was outside the cabin against the side wall. It was pitch black in the Dark Land village but she was pure white with bruises on her arms and cuts into the dress. "You saved me? Why?" She slumped into Luigi, losing consciousness.
On the mission, neither noticing at the moment that something had went wrong already, Lemmy lead Iggy through the woods on way to the incline and cliff's edge. They leaped through one more sticky bush to the other side where another set to brothers, an Iggy and a Lemmy were pining down Past Ludwig. Zoo Diddley was at the apex of the cliff on the brink of ringing the Doom Reverb bell. Almost exactly as they remembered last Friday night.
"Everyone STOP! We're from the future and have to keep Zoo from dying tonight!" Lemmy waved his arms and bounced around to their deceased custodian's attention. Stupefied, the dark boo let the bell slip and roll downhill and straight to Ludwig's clawing hands like drawn with a magnet.
Ludwig cradled the bell close to his chest, eyes gleaming in the night. The other Lemmy and Iggy spun around: Their eye sockets were hollowed out and black and their hair was stringy and washed out. The skin was extremely dry, fossilized, and riddled with micro cracks.
Lemmy gaped. "W-whats wrong with us?! Them! Whatever?!"
Instantaneously Iggy fired off his 'toy' gun with real laser action. Past Iggy had no reaction to the hole in his arm from that very real laser, dragging his feet towards their counterparts with Past Lemmy on his heels. The present versions backpedaled into the forest again, stumbling over vines and bushes. before Lemmy felt his shell smack the back of a tree.
"I should have completed my 'eyes in the back of your head' project," Iggy thought out loud. In the distance Ludwig was cackling but that was typical, less typical was murmurous doppelgangers closing in.
Lemmy took a big gulp. His mind raced, then he flicked with his fingers a little rock at Past Lemmy. This was actually a circus illusion he was working on, he would precisely aim at balloons to burst them 'miraculously' by just pointing. Pop! The rubber bouncy ball of the doppelganger burst, sending the monster falling face first. That made Iggy get tackled by 'Iggy' and unfortunately it was not the Iggy Lemmy wanted winning.
"Mmmm mm mmm MMM!" Iggy said, being strangled by Past Iggy. The monster seized over him when more cracks rippled through his skin. The monster's grip loosened and Iggy rolled away as the husk of Past Iggy and Lemmy broke down into a chunky mush of skin flakes and black goo.
"Gross!" Lemmy exclaimed.
"You're welcome!" Zoo Diddley sang, stopping his death ray with maniacal smirk.
"Nooooo my subjects!" Ludwig caught up and dove down at the ugly puddle, scooping up some of the gooey whatever and letting it ooze between his scaly fingers.
"Triple gross!" Lemmy gagged a little.
Zoo decked Ludwig, knocking him out. "That fixes that, bro. Now it's your freakin' turn, because I quit and you won't tell me to do anything anymore and take my crap and make me get up for early shifts at-!"
"Hold position, soldier!" Lemmy commanded in his manliest voice.
As drilled into him, Zoo automatically paused while they bailed. Then he felt stupid. "Oh how the heck did I fall for that?!" The dark boo stalked them, anything their height like bushes with green top resembling their hair mixing him up and slowing him down with his low vision. He shot his death ray at who he thought was them but wasn't . Ooh, satisfying none the less.
The Anti-Monarchy member's eyes rolled back and he collapsed as part of his brain drizzled out of his nose. His brethren didn't notice. "Down with monarchies!" they chanted, exhilarated by their activism. The goombas, koopas, monty moles, buzzy beetles and other Dark Land were dispersed in the forest as they'd been heading to Bowser's Castle before commotion, a strange thunder in the sky even though it was clear, brought them there instead.
Meanwhile, Luigi sat with his back against the wall of Zoo's home, hugging himself in the cold of the night. He shivered feeling very hurt, physically and emotionally. "Why would you ask that? Why would I not follow you here?"
Peach inched closer so that their shoulder's brushed. "Because... I suppose a part of me believe the koopaling's idea that we could fix something from the past. I know that's foolish and we're likely to just make things worse meddling around. That's why Mario damaged the Timulator beyond repair. -We thought."
"Peach, you don't need an excuse for that part. I would have followed you no matter what. I don't care what your toad brats- excuse my language- think about you. This isn't about duty," he stressed, voice breaking. "I meant why did you think I wanted to throw you away? I don't have much anymore, don't make me lose you too!"
"I'm sorry." She reached up to cover her face when his hands stopped her gingerly.
"Peach, listen. If you weren't the kind, loyal kind of friend worth risking it for, I would have never saved you now. I would have never saved you the first time from that fortress way back. Get it?"
"Yes. Yes! I remember almost like yesterday when we first met. There was a shooting star in the sky." She rose her head. "Like that one!"
One star in the sky was brighter than the rest, twinkling purple. The longer they stared the more they could hear a faint whisper.
"Over here! Ho-ho-ho.." the star spoke, like the voice came from inside them. "Get away. Get away!"
Then something fell out of a tree a few houses down, followed by the unmistakable sound of something expensive shattering. Luigi and Peach's attention was torn that way.
"-GOSH DANG RAVEN!" a young boomerang bro and other young ones were arguing. "WE TOTALLY COULD HAVE TOOK PICTURES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA AND MADE PROPAGANDA OR SOMETHING FROM THAT!"
The bashed up Timulator pod was surrounded by the mob. Neither needed to be technologically inclined to know it wasn't usable any more. Together hand in hand, they fled before the youngers could spot them down a path towards 'Neo Bowser City'.
It was a raining more heavily in the heart of Neo Bowser City during the inauguration of the new mayor at Bowser Stadium, a grand stone coliseum surrounded by a lava pool in classic Badland tradition. These occurred at night to prevent mobs, but it didn't work this time. A stout koopa troopa with a leisure suit on that dragged the ground had a scantily clad pom pom in a bright pink top and short shorts, his 'assistant', clutching his shoulder for photos. A couple were snapped, audience mostly dispersing from the deteriorating weather. Mayor Koton was in the office for many years, exalted by Kamek so long ago that the magikoopa had likely forgotten. Spending the first half of his life thwimp #75 in Bowser's Castle and the other as the Mayor in high rises and court houses gave him a unique he felt perspective. He handed over the key to the city with his invisible arms.
"It was an honor to but now the time has come to pass the baton. Soo… Have fun," Mayor Koton said laconically. He saw the young new guy's future already. He was going to either die or become literally Bowser.
Koton hopped away into the crowd of older conservative Dark Land residents that were steadily being replaced with a new set of onlookers, decidedly younger residents who eyed the authority figures closely for the correct buzz words. One got too close-
"Get outta here," the new major snapped. The new mayor's assistant smacked the protester with a huge gaudy 'Douchy and Cabana' purse and he was sent back into the crowd. "Alight, folks." The new mayor tapped the microphone which squealed. "We have enough problems in town so cause any more." The 'speech' was not eloquent, filled with grievances about how the cops stopped him too much coming from night clubs and that speed limits were dumb, as the New Mayor was not a politician, but a guy rich enough to bribe Koton out. He concluded, "And you don't like it. I'll just complain to King Bowser!" He watched the sudden change of faces from the crowd.
"DOWN WITH THE MONARCHIES!" they chanted.
The new major backed away from the angry mob with his girl. They sprinted out of the stadium and into the streets where the black limousine waited. They drove off down Neo Bowser City's traitorous and damp highways. New Mayor headed southbound to tattle, obviously to Bowser, but anyone above him would do, like two of Dark Land's princes running down the street. He told the driver to pull over and let them in.
"Thank you thank you thank you tell your dad we're running from these weird lunatics with megaphones this is my first day you gotta help me!" New Mayor cried out the open car door.
Lemmy climbed in, followed by Iggy. "We're running from bad guys too!" The limo took off again with an unwilling jerk. "But- do I know you?"
"I'm the new mayor!" New Mayor told him. He smiled friendly but it rung no bells to Lemmy.
"Never mind, I guess I didn't pay attention to politics in the past week. Stop, we know these guys!"
They stopped and let in Luigi and Peach, inexplicably in the city already.
"How did you-" Lemmy started.
Luigi and Peach shared a glance, unable to explain it without sounding like they'd sustained some head injury- which they probably had, but they did not want to look that way.
"Well anyway, our mission is sorta complete!" Lemmy beamed. "Zoo didn't die tonight so the dark star should not be born or whatever. Too bad we didn't get his bell though."
"I could have followed you all and gave Zoo the 'ol plumber whack." Luigi chopped in the air for effect.
Peach eased a little more into the quilted plush seating. "As long as we can make it, you know, back safely. I fear your original travel method is.. inoperable."
Iggy continually wound up the Wacky Watch, his back against the mini bar. "We totally planned around that and I'm holding our back up."
Peach listened to some familiar squeaks from the vehicle bouncing around a steep hill. A realization burst upon her, it was the exact limo Larry tried to rescue her with in Sky Land. The last thing she wanted to fathom was the time paradox they were tethering on.
"-This thing is bullet proof right?" New Mayor pat the sweat off his forehead.
Lemmy wondered where they were going because it wasn't route to Bowser's Castle anymore. The car began to get banged around by rough terrain. He pulled back the shutters into the driver's cab and tapped the glass. "Driver?"
"EVERYTHING IS GOING AS PLANNED SIR!" The Boom-Boom turned to the side with a crooked smile. His pupils were an irregular starry shape.
Lemmy whipped around. "Everyone jump out!"
Luigi leap up and bang his head on the car's ceiling. "What?"
Lemmy pushed him and Peach out with Iggy hurling himself behind them. Faces planted against dirt and grass as they rolled around. Lemmy recovered just in time to see the limo careen off the same cliff they chased Zoo Diddley up. Five seconds later the heard the crash against the brambles. A little bit of smoke rose and lingered in the air just atop the hill.
Luigi recognized what had almost happened and kneeled down, fighting off nausea.
"It's too early lose all of your fluids bro, but thanks for dropping back in my neighborhood." Creeping up on them, Zoo licked his lips sadistically.
A Channel 64 news truck screeched to a stop at the bus stop where a person waited. Kylie recognized them as Boo and let them in, reminding them that the buses weren't running. She wasn't happy about the TriggerHappy McBoo saga entirely, but there were just so many other things to worry about. Plus It was great to see familiar faces, even in a bad way.
"Town hall." Mitch muttered. He was deep in his own thoughts but also bit of others, and someone was feeling vindictive as they sat in the back set anxiously gripping that green Bowser tennis racket..
The City hall in Toad Town Square was underdeveloped, understandably when Peach Castle was always around until now. Strange sibilance drew Kylie out of the car alone into the open court. It had a defunct fountain in the middle and elevated platforms left, right, and forward of that point. There dozens of toads, more specifically the amount of toads Peach had employed, on the raised portion forming a loose circle. Some were bowed with their heads lowered like a prayer circle others sitting around in despair. Kylie then backed up, feeling it was too insensitive even for her to just drop in and start prying for answers.
"Join if you want." Toad stepped from around a hedge, his usual luster gone.
"Brother, I'll be brief. I know it's a bad time but why did you abandon the princess at the castle?"
"Long story. Toadsworth had a dream that the castle was going to get screwed up again, homegirl, like really bad. We believed him. We're both Mushroom Gen X here so you remember the early days, just him Peach and the King in that place. If Toadsworth thinks somethings gonna happen it's gonna."
Kylie's heart sunk. "I get you brother, but.. the princess missing."
Toad became white as a sheet. He whipped around to check quickly if Toadette and some others noticed where he was. "Got room for me?"
Through Toad Town Kylie and the crew searched again, eventually heading south where they were stopped by hay bales in the road too high to plow through. They'd have to go on foot, which for Mitch meant staying put in the car.
"It's fine, dudes." He lied.
Kylie, Toad, and Boo entered the fields of Area 64 where the sky was foggy and everything was very quiet.
"Keep up, peeps. If we make it to the other side, Jr. Troopa will hook us up with some answers for sure." She pouted at Boo and Toad trailing slowly. "I said, keep up!"
They walked in silence.
"Help! Assist please! Aid me!" called a voice in the distance.
"Where am I?"
"HEALLLP!" and on started suddenly, from places they could not see through the mist. Something was zapped and the air became warm. Lightning had just struck somewhere close enough to raise all of their hair.
Kylie's nerves were shattered and she fled with Toad, sending a mental message for Mitch to pick up. Knowing each other so well for so long, they had that trick down pack.
Back in Toad Town, Mitch slid over to the drivers seat when he remembered. His legs didn't work! He sent that mental message back to Kylie. Back in the mist Kylie took a short breather with Toad. They'd lost their bearings. Actually Kylie was convinced the area around them decided to change. A winding path here now curved there, a curve there was now a bend here. Never trust Area 64. She checked her back. They'd lost Boo too!
Or so they thought. Boo branched off, seeing just fine in the fog. Mario impersonators and Koopa Troop members wandered until they were either hit by a force of lighting in the atmosphere choosing at random or hunted down by someone with a blunt object. Boo discovered a crater in the ground and the remains of a doomship. That got them worried, more so seeing The Captain walking over to a corpse. The toad curiously dug into the blood-stained blazer of the koopaling and retrieved a cellphone, wiping it off on his shirt to unlock it.
"~THANK YOU~" The message on Ludwig's phone said from an unknown sender.
A tear fell on his screen, his own as a flicker of the real him, Stan emerged only for a second.
"Keep crying, punk," growled Boo as Booigi the Second. They forcibly turned Captain Toad around to face him.
"Good sir, these are tears of joy." Captain Toad replied civilly. There was something wrong with his beady little eyes…
To be cont.
Author note: I swear every time I try make this better it gets longer. That being said, it's fine now!
Older version of this chapter 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
Modern around: 12/1, 12/2, 12/3, 12/4, 12/5, 12/6, 12/7, 12/8, 12/9, 12/10, 12/11
Edit: 4/30/20, 5/1
Again: 1/1/21, 1/28/21